"Lieutenant we need you to do something now before the Covenant kill us all!" Kevin pleaded. Plasma fire was all around us; it looked hopeless. We were out numbered at least 50 to 1 and had lost the element of surprise, we were screwed. I was behind a boulder with Kevin and Chad trying to stay out of the line of fire. I peeked over the rock and saw the meter tall Grunts transform into 12 foot tall Hunters. I ducked back down and looked around at what was left of my team. The charred remains of Brett, Alex, David, and Jonathan cut through me like a razor blade. The Covenant had so easily murdered my friends. How did we end up like this anyway? I couldn't remember anything about how we got here or what our mission was. Chad and Kevin ran out from around the rock and opened fire on the covenant but to no avail. Kevin got hit in the leg by a plasma shot then another splashed across his chest, he crumpled over in agony as one final shot hit him in the gut. Chad caught a trio of plasma in his face; he fell to the ground dead. I couldn't take it anymore and began to fire on the Covenant. I saw a Hunter's Fuel Rod gun charge up and fire at me. I went to move out of the way but I was frozen in place, my legs simply wouldn't respond. The intensely bright plasma burst almost blinded me. I looked directly at it welcoming my fate.
I screamed and sat straight up in my bunk, drenched in a cold sweat. I sat still for a moment trying to regain my composure. "Just a dream." I muttered. I looked at my clock, it read as 5:12 AM. I was supposed to be at mission briefing at 6:00. I quickly showered, shaved, and put on my uniform. As soon as I was ready I went to get my squad together. They were already awake and ready. We loaded up into an altered Warthog; the chain gun had been removed and replaced with seats.
When we arrived at HQ we were greeted by an MP who asked for Identification, I showed him and he escorted us to a briefing room.
"Welcome Lieutenant Clower, at ease." said General Harris.
"Thank you, sir."
"Lieutenant, installation 4-687 Beta reports that they are under attack by a large Covenant force. We believe they are after the captured Covenant scientist under observation there. The installation can't hold out much longer and we can't afford to loose the opportunity to study this new Covenant species, it may hold secrets that could be valuable to turning the tide of this war. We are sending you and your squad in to retrieve the scientist and return it here for further study. Your secondary objective will be to repel the Covenant and attempt to keep the structure under UNSC control. Lieutenant, I trust your judgment, if you feel that you and the other marines have no chance, abandon it and get back here alive. You will have a Sky hawk jump jet on standby if you need a clear escape route. Do you understand your mission?"
"Yes, sir, one question though, how are we supposed to get the scientist to safety while we are under attack by Covenant?"
"There is a special hover transport crate with reflective titanium-A armor; it should provide a substantial amount of protection for the scientist. But if I were you I wouldn't rely on that only, try to keep it out of sustained fire."
"I understand sir."
"Good, you will be leaving as soon as you and your squad are ready. Alpha-213 is waiting in hangar 10."
"Sir all we need is 15 minutes to arm ourselves."
"Very good then. Good luck Lieutenant."
"Thank you, sir" I turned to face the squad. "Everyone understand?" I asked.
"Sir, yes sir!"
"Then lets get going." We moved into the armory, no one else was there. We put on our jump suits, which were full body except for the helmet. They were solid black and made of a new titanium-polymer mix which provided an excellent amount of protection considering its size and weight, only about 7 Lbs, most of which was the helmet. "Everyone grab a combat knife, a pistol and four grenades. Brett, Alex, David, and Jonathan take MA5Bs. Everyone except Jonathan take a shotgun, Jonathan take the new rocket launcher. Kevin and Chad, we only need one sniper so, which one of you wants to be it?" Chad raised his hand. "Ok then, Kevin take a shotgun and an MA5B. Everyone take as much ammo as you feel comfortable carrying." I took a shotgun, a MA5B, a pistol, four grenades, and a combat knife as well as a rucksack with 3 boxes of 25 shotgun rounds, 4 extra clips for the pistol and 8 clips for my assault rifle. Chad put 3 med kits in his in addition to a box of 24 sniper rounds. Everyone else took ammo similar to what I took; if we needed to we could share ammo. "Ok let's go recover that Covie scientist. Move it out, double time!"
As we loaded into the drop ship Courtney greeted us. "Ready to go Lieutenant?"
"Ready when you are."
"Ok hang on 'cause here we go." The ship accelerated at exceptional speed, for a Pelican anyway.
"New engine Courtney?"
"That's right and we're the first to test it out."
The thought of trusting my life to technology that hadn't even been fully tested made me uncomfortable to say the least, if something happened to the new engines there would be no way to get off of the Pelican. If we survived the impact we wouldn't be in any condition to hold off a Covenant strike force no matter how small they were. I pushed the thought aside, the last thing any soldier wanted was to die helpless with no way to save themselves. "Aren't we lucky?" I said sarcastically.
The ride to the DZ was significantly shorter than usual, it took an average of 1-2 hours to get to our drop zone but this time it only took 30 minutes, I hoped we wouldn't have any problems with the new engines, I could get used to arriving at our target early. Something told me it was too good to be true though, and I knew from experience that my hunches were usually right. As we approached from the rear of the building I could see covenant troops and mortar tanks laying siege to the structure, a shell from a Scorpion destroyed one tank, I counted 8 remaining though. We had better make this one a quickie or else we would be toast.
We were dropped directly behind the building and as soon as we were all ready entered from the emergency exit. the power was flickering, the tanks must have hit the power generators, I hoped the back up generators inside the building would kick on. We passed marines in the halls running to the front line to try and help out. I asked one where the Covie scientist was. "Bottom floor, sir" Great, that meant we had 5 floors to go, if we could get to an elevator it wouldn't be a problem but trying to get that hover crate up 5 flights of stairs would take too much time, that would be un acceptable. We reached the stairs and ran down them to the bottom floor where the scientist would be waiting. We passed a door, above the entryway a sign read "AUTHORISED PERSONAL ONLY" "this must be it." The door was locked. "Jonathan would you please open this door?"
"You got it." He kicked the door with all his strength, it put a sizeable dent in it. two more kicks and it was knocked off. As soon as the door hit the ground I herd a human's voice "Oh no! The Covenant are here!"
"Everybody down! We are with the UNSC Orbital Drop Shock Troopers, we are here to recover the Covenant scientist you are studying. We're under direct orders from General Harris to get it out of here unharmed. Where is it?" One of the scientist pointed to a glass tube with a diameter of around 6 feet and a height of about 10 feet. "How do we get it out of there?"
"I must first deactivate the pressure locks and then sedate the specimen before it is safe to transport, the procedure should take 15 minutes."
"That's too long." I walked over to the tube and looked at the Covenant, it was around 5 feet tall and had pinkish purplish colored skin, it wasn't humanoid like the other Covenant, it had no arms or legs instead it had tentacle like appendages and carried some sort of hover pack that enabled it to move. I looked into its eyes then smashed my assault rifle into the tube, it shattered. The Covenant tried to escape, I grabbed hold of it and we both fell to the floor. It thrashed around and it was surprisingly strong. "Get that damned hover crate open!" I shouted. Chad and Alex ran over and opened the crate then brought it over to me. I wrestled the Covenant into the crate then shut the door. I looked at the human scientist "you civilians and your damned procedures, now that is the quick way to do things." I said. He looked at me with disgust in his eyes, military personal and civilians didn't mix well. The backup generators kicked in and we had power to essential systems, including the elevator. We, followed by the human scientist, boarded the elevator and headed for the ground floor. The doors opened and the scientist walked out towards the front entrance with a pistol in his right hand. "Wait where are you going?" I asked.
"I must do what I can to hold off the Covenant." he replied
This man was a civilian, he had no combat training, and he wouldn't last more than 10 minutes in combat. I pondered the situation for a moment, my orders were to try and secure the facility, the scientist wouldn't be much help to that cause but he might create a distraction for the Covenant. I looked up at the man, as my eyes met his an Elite came up behind him and sideswiped at his head, knocking it clean off. "I guess no more marines are left if this Elite got by." I opened fire with my AR, ventilating the Elite's skull. "Close the entrance Jonathan!" I shouted. He hefted the four huge barrels up and fired off two rockets at the door way and then two more at the ceiling, the falling debris closed off the entire hallway and bought us some time. "Everybody out the back, we need to move before the Covenant catch onto us." We darted out the back exit we came from and through some wooded areas towards our extract point. We would be there in about 10 minutes if we kept up this pace. "Alpha - 213 we have the package and need dust off now! I'm signaling with blue smoke."
"Roger Lieutenant, I'm on my way, hang tight."
"Set up a perimeter around the crate, keep your eyes open for any Covenant."
"This is Pelican Alpha 213, the new engines exploded and I am losing altitude rapidly! I don't know how much longer I can hol--" Static.
"All right men, sounds like our ride out of here has been scrubbed. Brett get on radio and tell them we need alternate emergency extract. We'll meet them at the original LZ after we find where Alpha 213 crashed."
"Yes, sir." Brett got on a secure channel with Headquarters. "Sir, HQ says we'll have to get into non-hostile territory before they can make an extract."
"Fine. We'll radio them after we've inspected Alpha 213's crash site. Brett, see if you can pick up a distress signal from the drop ship."
"I've got one sir, it's about 3.5 clicks south of here, it shouldn't take more than a few hours to get there on foot."
"Lets move out then." We hiked through hills and thick forest for 3 hours without seeing any Covenant. When we arrived at the crash site we saw the burning wreckage of Alpha 213's Pelican. There didn't appear to be any sign that Courtney had made it out alive. I walked up to the cockpit, the windows were tinted to shield the pilot's eyes from bright sunlight or large explosions, I couldn't see into it, I didn't want to see. I took off my glove that contained the hand on which I wore my engagement ring; I took it off and tossed it into the smoldering fire. "Goodbye." I whispered. I found two pieces of the Pelican's hull and tied them in a cross with a strip of bandage from one of Chad's med kits. I sat down in the dirt for a moment letting what had just happened sink in. I took a deep breath and stood up.
"You ok?" asked Alex.
"I'll be fine, let's finish this mission."
I looked up and saw another Pelican screaming across the sky. This one had taken heavy damage; they must have been attacked by some Covenant on the ground. As I watched it head for the ground I thought I saw a person fall out of a hole in the side of the ship. He landed in the forest, maybe a tree broke his fall and he would be alive. "The Covenant are going to be all over the survivors if we don't do something. Maybe they have reinforcements too. Let's get to them and help out." Everyone agreed.