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The Martinez Tales, Chapter II, Fun at the Beach
Posted By: stan<stanrl@lycos.com>
Date: 26 August 2003, 6:56 AM

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      Lance corporal Raimundo Martinez could smell the battle before he saw it. The familiar scent of cordite and ozone that accompanied any battle zone. The scent of scorched air left in the wake of the Covenants blistering plasma weapons. To Martinez these smells brought back as many memories as the strong odor of the sea. But unlike the pleasant memories of his youth, there smells brought back only thoughts of death and destruction. As they drew nearer to the fight Martinez prepared himself for what he was about to encounter.

      The warthogs scaled the last ridge before the beach, and came down the other side shooting. Gunners on the back of the warthogs swung their huge automatic cannons from target to target obliterating any covenant that strayed in their path. Martinez' warthog pulled up to a barricade of plasma shields that the marines who had arrived before him had managed to wrest from covenant control. Behind the barricade lay four marines, pinned down by unrelenting covenant fire. The marine closest to Martinez was his friend Corporal Phil Ecklen. Ecklen was firing his assault rifle on full auto, trying to lay down enough cover fire so that his fellow marines could join the main bulk of the force on the other side of a small sand dune.

      "Hey, Martinez, glad you could join us!" yelled Ecklen as he ejected a spent clip from his assault rifle.

      "Hey man, you know me always looking for some fun. What's the situation?"

      "The advance scout squad are on the other side of that dune, the cov got us pinned down the minute we arrived. We haven't been able to make contact with the scouts, looks like their radio is down, but from the sound of it they're holding their own."

      "Who's in charge?"

      "The sergeant's up there somewhere in a warthog playing gunner, I guess we're still taking orders from him." Replied Ecklen with a wave of the hand to their rear.
      "Get him on the horn, we need to do something about these bastards and join up with that scout squad, they can't hold on for long under this kinda fire."

      "Damn straight, I'll see what we can do."

      As Ecklen worked the radio, Martinez took a moment to scan the beach. The primary Covenant action seemed to be focused to his right, most likely aimed at the scout troops that Ecklen had mentioned. His immediate concern was a clustering of plasma shields about 20 yards up the beach from his location. More to the point, his concern lay in the Covenant elites behind the shields.

      The elites were the best the covenant had to offer. Tall, strong, athletic and very intelligent, the Covenant Elite had become the thorn in the side of the UNSC Marine Corps. Right now, for Martinez and the four other marines that thorn was the size of a redwood.

      "Report's in from the sarge," yelled Ecklen, "He agrees, he's gonna give us some cover fire from the 'hog. Says one of his guy's got a M19 launcher, that oughta shake 'em up."

      "Good, " replied Martinez, a natural leader, he quickly made up a battle plan. "Here's the deal. When the sergeant opens up, we'll try to maneuver into flanking positions and blast them from the side. Ecklen, you take two of your guys and break for that pile of driftwood to the left of their position. I'll take the other and bust ass for those rocks up from the waters edge. When we're both in position we'll take out the unlucky bastards that survived the sarge's cover. Remember, shoot down the beach towards the water, we don't want to get caught in any crossfire."

      "Roger, you hear that marines? we're about to whoop some ass, get ready." Ecklen yelled to his fellow soldiers.
He then added, "Sarge say's he's ready, lock and load."

      Just then an assortment of small arms and heavier cannon fire opened up from somewhere to their rear. Before the first rounds struck the alien position, Martinez and his partner were scrambling down the beach to a rough outcropping of sea-pounded rock. Twenty feet from their starting point they heard the shrill wail of a speeding rocket pass directly to their left. Before they could take another step they were pounded by the shock wave of the missile as it hit 10 feet from it's target; a mere 20 feet from Martinez. Though the missile did not destroy the Covenant stronghold, it did put the aliens temporarily out of commission. This gave Martinez and the other marines the opportunity they needed. With the heat of the missile's explosion still beating down on them, Martinez and the other Marine ran to the cover of the rocks and opened fire. The Marine accompanying Martinez immediately lobbed two grenades over the shields protecting the aliens. Still dazed from the rocket detonation, the three aliens closest to the shields had no time to react. A dazzling explosion rocked the position and blew two of the shields, along with various Covenant anatomy twenty feet into the air.

      The elites that had survived the grenade attack were instantly struck with automatic fire from both the right and the left as Martinez and the other marines opened up. The remaining aliens had no chance and within a few seconds the short engagement was over.

      When he was sure that the last of the Covenant elite was dead, Martinez made his way to Ecklen and the other marines.

      "Hooah, how's that for some fun?" said Ecklen in greeting.

      "Right, we'd better get over that dune and hook up with the others, call the sarge, tell him this area is clear."

      "Gotcha" replied Ecklen, and then "You heard em fellas, lets go."

      As Ecklen worked the radio, Martinez and the others Marines set out over the small dune that separated them from the forward scouts. The sounds of hard fighting grew louder as they approached. At the top of the dune, Martinez motioned for the men to get down, and then scooted up to take a look. To his right was the Scout squad and the rest of the force that had arrived with Martinez. They were involved in an intense battle with a group of twenty or so varied covenant. From his vantage point, Martinez counted five elite, a handful of what the marines called jackals, and about ten grunts, the lowest of the covenant soldiers. The elite were firing on the Marines with their plasma rifles as the grunts and jackals shot bursts from their pistols and lobbed grenades. From the looks of it, neither side had an edge in the battle. Martinez scooted down to the other men.

      "Alright, listen up" Martinez addressed the group, "the cov don't know we're here, for all they know their buddies mopped us up, so we've got surprise on our side. Looks to me that if we can position ourselves at the end of this dune over by those rocks, we can catch them from behind. We'll have to hit em quick and with everything we got. Once they're onto us, we won't have much time, so make it count. We're outnumbered, but we've got surprise and position on our side, so we should be alright. Everyone got it?"

      A chorus of "hooahs' was the response.

      "Ok then, lets go."

      The group quickly made its way down the beach towards the end of the dune. Once there, they checked their weapons and made ready for the fight.

      "Alright remember, lets make this quick and don't waste any shots, we've only got one chance at this." Intoned Martinez as the men finished their preparations.

      Martinez took one more look at the alien position, and opened fire. The other Marines followed his lead. Instantly the aliens found themselves taking withering fire from both front and back. Three grenades landed in the middle of the alien position and the resulting explosions took out three of the grunts and badly wounded one Elite. The Jackals, with their shiny shields and plasma pistols, turned toward the new threat and opened fire. The bullets from the marines assault rifles merely pinged off their plasma armor. Martinez knew that the best way to kill a jackal was to hit it's exposed gun hand, causing it to drop or lower it's shield thus opening it up for further attack. Realizing his rifle was not accurate enough; he dropped it and drew his service pistol. Using the scope mounted on the pistol, Martinez was able to draw an accurate bead on the jackal closet to him. He fired and the jackal dropped his shield whelping in pain. The marine to his left took advantage of the opening and dropped the alien. Satisfied with the result, Martinez went from jackal to jackal, disabling them so that his fellow marines could finish the job.

      With the jackals taken care of, and the grunts very much diminished, Martinez turned his attention to the three remaining elites. He knew that the elite had a special type of body armor that deflected most projectiles. However, the heads of the elite were not so well protected and a few direct shots could down the aliens. Martinez again drew his pistol and zeroed in on an elite standing fifteen yards ahead and to the right. Martinez fired and the alien jerked backward. Off balance and staggering the elite made a difficult target, but Martinez lined up another shot and fired. This time the covenant went down for good. To his left, the other marines had their pistols drawn and were following his example. Soon there was nothing left but a few badly wounded grunts. Martinez waved to his group to cease-fire and stood up. He jogged through the battlefield and over to the group of scouts.

      "Glad to see you guys" said lead scout.

      "I always love a good fight, you guys ok?" Asked Martinez.

      "We've got a few dings, but everyone's alive, but looks like that's one group of aliens that wont be enjoying this lovely place."

      Though the scout leader was right, Martinez realized that it would make no difference. They had killed thirty aliens today, but tomorrow another thirty would be landing to replace them. And the next day thirty more and the next day even more. Martinez was sure that the covenant wouldn't stop until the humans were gone and the construct was there. But that didn't mean he couldn't enjoy putting a dent in there numbers.

      As the marines remounted their vehicles and headed back to camp, Martinez looked forward for the next covenant landing.