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Jericho VII
Posted By: Kellen Squire<squire@coronafilm.biz>
Date: 01 January 2002, 8:26 am

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"Heads up, Marines, we're almost ready to drop!" the pilot shouted over the Pelican-class dropship's comm system. The dropship bucked in the air- turbulence, maybe. Enemy fire? Probably. Corporal Krista Van Haren tried not to think too much about it. It was doubtful that she would get off Jericho VII alive- not if the stories about the Covenant were true.

She didn't know a lot about the Covenant- nobody really did. They preferred to commit suicide over being captured alive, and the Covs seemed to think that their purpose in life was to make sure that every single human in the galaxy was dead. Their God, apparently, sent them on that mission. And there was no two ways about it, no way to reason with them, no way to coexist with them peacefully.

What Corporal Van Haren did know was that, though horribly outclassed in space, the humans stood almost equal with the Covenant forces. And as the Covenant forces moved closer to Earth, destroying human colony worlds as they went, the humans fought harder- they became much more determined. Like a cat backed into a corner...

Yes, Corporal Van Haren knew all this. But she didn't have any time to think about it. The dropship suddenly jerked in the air. The ion engine on the right side of the craft began to scream. Whether intentional or not, the dropship began to go through a gut-wrenching series of maneuvers. Corporal Van Haren began to pray, trying desperately to remember what she'd learned at the church she'd attended as a child, in Bonn.

She must not have been fast enough, because, at that moment, the dropship hit the ground. It wasn't a crash landing, but it sure wasn't soft. The pilot began screaming at them to get the fuck out of her dropship, and, carried by instinct alone, Corporal Van Haren and eleven of her fellow marines had their gear in hand and were out of the dropship in the blink of an eye. The wounded craft immediately took off, heading up- straight up- which meant that she was going to head up to one of the troop corvettes in orbit.

The SolCore Navy's 7th Fleet had been outnumbered, but had fought valiantly against the invading Covenant fleet. Yet they would have lost utterly, had 2nd Fleet not intervened in time. The Covenant fleet had been destroyed, but two human fleets- two out of the only *seven* Naval fleets remaining- had been decimated. And the effort was no more than a delaying action. Everyone understood that.

But it gave them more time to evacuate the citizens of Jericho VII. To do that, the Marines had to clear out a few thousand Covenant troops that had made landfall.

"PICK YOUR TARGETS AND FIRE AT WILL!" the LT screamed, unessecarily. It was his first drop, though- Lieutenant Stone had been on the wrong end of a plasma rifle, and was probably still laying on the ground a few hundred kilometers away, a smoking hole in his chest.

*Hmm. That engagement was yesterday, wasn't it?* Corporal Van Haren thought to herself, noticing the pointed head of a Cov grunt and giving him a half-second burst with her assault rifle. She did a rolling-dive, narrowly escaping a bolt from a plasma pistol. Someone else got hit, though- the scream from behind her told her that.

Corporal Van Haren had little time to worry about it, though. A Cov Hunter had come into view- it was a massive creature, almost twelve feet tall- and it instantly attracted the attention of every marine within range. It fell to the ground before it could do any damage with the huge rifle it carried, the victim of almost a thousand rounds of 7.62mm ammunition.

Corporal Van Haren noticed the LED screen on her rifle read empty, so she quickly ejected her old magazine, and slapped a new one in. The rifle chambered a round automatically, and it was ready to fire.

But by the time she was done, the noise of battle, aside from a few bursts from assault rifles here and there, had faded away.

The entire battle had maybe lasted ten seconds. But four marines from the dropship were dead, and the marine platoon that they'd been reinforcing had lost at least three times that.

And what did that account for? Fourty or fifty Covenant soldiers dead. The battle sagainst the Covenant were short and fercious. Most of the Covs had been grunts, too- a hundred weren't worth the life of one Marine- but a few had been Elites, and one had been a Hunter...

"We won!" one of the rookies shouted out loud, cheering loudly. A few others began to cheer along with him.

"I hope we don't keep winning like this..." Corporal Van Haren said to herself.

Nobody heard her, of course.

But everyone was thinking the same thing.