Posted By: Steve<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 25 February 2005, 11:25 PM
The station was being boarded by Covenant craft. This was what he had trained for. This was why he entered the Marines. This was his responsibility: To protect the Malta at all costs. If this MAC Cannon was taken, it would weaken the whole battle cluster. But the station had support. It's sister-stations, the Athens and the Cairo were very close by. And word was that the Master Chief was on the Cairo, getting improvements to his already trusty battle suit. Yeah, he had support.
Along with orbital support, Private Damian Valdez had his Platoon, with a total of 36 men in it, led by Lieutenant Graham. The el-tee had not been in many battles, and, when he was, he did very little. Although a brilliant tactician, he was not very handy as a soldier. Everybody in the company could see that the Brass was just trying to get him to General status, awarding him promotions at every opportunity.
But all this was at the expense of respect and soldiers' lives. One time, Valdez heard, Graham had personally wound up behind a small, but forceful, Covenant patrol of veteran Grunts that had one of his squads pinned down. But instead of using his MA5B Assault Rifle to mow them down, he choked. One of those Grunts ended up throwing a Plasma Grenade right on a Marine, wiping out half of the squad. It wasn't until a sniper picked off three Grunts that Graham decided to use his gun and put a whole clip into the remaining Grunt.
Rumors, was what Valdez had to say about it. But ever since, Valdez looked at every training exercise and simulation Graham did critically, picking apart every little detail. Yet, every time, the Lieutenant preformed flawlessly.
Combat is different then simulations, kept whispering in the back of his mind. Now he would find out. Not the best time to find confidence in your CO.
Valdez was stationed in Pelican bay Alpha. Graham had his platoon in textbook ambush position. He had deployed his riflemen and .50 cal's on the catwalk that ran around the rim of bay. The riflemen stood peering out the windows, searching for boarding craft. The sub-machine gunners had grenades in their hands waiting to toss it over their cover at the first sound of a hoof. Nothing would live in this cross fire.
Suddenly, "Contact! Enemy contact!" one of the riflemen screamed. A purple ship grew size quickly through the foot-thick plexiglass and decelerated to a stop, mere meters before it touched the glass. The side arms opened up and plunged into the station. A circular tube shot through the glass, and the squad drew a ragged breath, fearing the glass would shatter.
A force field that separated the tube from the ship dropped and four Grunts and two Elites dropped from the tube to the floor.
Before they even had a chance to fire, grenades rolled and bounced at their feet, exploding under them, and sending bodies across the bay. Four more Grunts and a veteran Elite followed the explosions, and began to return fire across the catwalk.
The .50 cal's opened up and ripped threw the Grunts like tissue paper. But the Elite sprang out of the way and landed right in front of the sub-machine gunners. It instinctively swung at the head of Private Franks with its Plasma Rifle. Franks ducked just in time as the Plasma Rifle slammed into the crate he had been hiding behind, tipping it over.
The two sub-machine gunners, along with Franks on his butt, opened up on the Elite. The purple blood splashed on its crimson armor. It curled up in a cringe and fell on its back dead. But before they could reload, four more Grunts and another veteran Elite dropped from the tube. The Grunts, once again, were mowed down by the barrage of Battle Rifle and .50 cal bullets, and, once again, the Elite leapt out of the way towards the middle of the station, right into four Battle Rifles, which disposed of it quickly.
A rattle shook the bay. Another boarding craft had collided with the window adjacent the other ship. A tube shot through, and four more Grunts with two Elites came out. The .50 cal gunner put ten rounds in the group when his gun jammed. As he tried to work the jam free, a rifleman covered him. Two bursts rang out and two Grunts fell to the deck.
Another set of Elites and a group of Grunts came out of both ships. The Marine fired and reloaded like a madman, before a plasma bolt struck him in the arm. He dropped his rifle, swore, then bent over to pick it up. Another bolt struck him in the chest. The coating on the rifleman's battle plate flared. Three more blue bolts ate through the armor and tore through his chest. A cough and a gurgle signaled his demise, and he fell over the railing.
"Joe!" the gunner called in anguish at his fallen comrade. With a renewed vigor, he worked the jam free and spit out bullets everywhere. Two Grunts fell, three Grunts, four, he was on a rampage. Just as he swivelled the turret to the right at another Grunt, a burst from a Plasma Rifle caught him in the side of the head, knocking his helmet off and temporarily disorienting him. He swivelled to the left, spewing a burst back at the Elite. A green bolt then hit his shoulder. Back to the right.
The gunner saw what was happening, saw the pattern, saw the tactic of hitting him as he turned, and called out to his fried. "Valdez, I need some help!"
"Hold on, Horatio, I'm coming," Damien shouted. He put the last three bullets in his clip over a Grunt's head and ran over to him.
"To the left!" Horatio yelled over the roar of his .50 cal. Valdez scoped the left side of a cluster of boxes the Covenant were using as cover. Just then, an Elite stuck his head out and fired on them. Side stepping to the left along the catwalk that separated the bay, he fired burst after burst at the Elite. Its shields flared once, twice, three times, and on the fourth failed. The bullets penetrated below the head and into its throat. It dropped to its knees, holding its throat, then collapsed in a heap on the ground.
As Valdez reloaded, he saw the Grunts scatter from behind the crates and shouted towards Horatio, "They're in the open, get 'em!" But no response from the .50 cal roared back. He glanced to his right and saw Horatio's body slum over the smoking gun.
Blindly firing his BR-55 to cover the distance from the boxes to Horatio, Valdez feared the worst. The best case scenario was that he was just wounded, but the fact that he was slumped over meant that, if he was wounded, it was bad enough to make him unconscious.
When he arrived at the .50 cal, he pulled Horatio back, screaming his name. A bolt had hit him in the face, burning into it a horrific contortion that almost made Damian vomit.
Just then, four more Grunts and an Elite dropped from the tube and onto the corpses of their comrades before. Valdez looked at the smoking .50 cal and racked a bullet into the chamber. The bullets spat from the barrel and ripped away methane face masks and shielding. The cobalt Elite was the first to fall, followed by the Grunts.
During this lull, he looked at the other .50 cal gunner to his left. Two Marine bodies lay at either side of the gun, with only a Marine Sergeant in Corps Formal Dress with an SMG in the center catwalk. These three Marines were the last hope. Valdez hoped that the boarding craft ran out of men before they did.
The left .50 cal stopped firing, as did the Sergeant, who reloaded his SMG with his last clip. For once, there was no firing, no danger. Had his hopes come true? Had they run out of men?
At that though, simultaneously from both boarding craft, a crimson Elite and a white SpecOps Elite came out of each tube, all dual wielding. On Valdez's side, the SpecOps Elite jumped behind some boxes before a bullet could be fired. But the Veteran Elite behind him was not as lucky. The moment its hoofs hit the floor, it was overcome with lead. It fell backwards, firing its Plasma Rifles into the air.
Private Valdez peeked to his right just in time to see the gunner get ripped into a hundred different pieces by a flurry of needles. The Marine Sergeant peeked around a barrier and blindly fired the rest of his SMG at the Elites to cover himself. Making a run for better cover, he darted halfway across the catwalk before his body was rattled with blue bolts and pink needles. The limber body was shot over the railing and fell to the floor with a loud thump.
Valdez desperately wanted to get off the .50 cal, make a run for the door to his right and get the hell out of there, but he couldn't let the Covenant take the station. He had a responsibility for the station, which was responsible for protecting Earth. If he allowed the Covenant to get a foothold in the station, they would pour in and take the station out.
Overcome with new motive, he forgot about personal safety or even long-drilled Marine discipline. It was the animal inside that took over. He hopped over the railing, past his turret, and tossed a grenade to the left side of the boxes the white Elite was currently hiding behind. Valdez went to the right side of the boxes and caught the Elite off guard. With all his might, he forced the butt of his nearly-empty Battle Rifle into the back of the beast. Like a man possessed, he began to wail on the creature's back, hit after hit. He was beating the Elite into the window, when he saw the shields go down. In one fluid movement, he unsheathed a knife from his ankle and brought it behind his ear.
The Elite turned, wanting to take advantage of this lull in the beating, and began to fire his Plasma Rifles blindly. The last thing he saw was a titanium blade being shoved in his neck and his purple blood squirting onto the Human's face.
A dozen needles shot from across the room rebounded off the floor and boxes, keeping Valdez's head down. Damian fired two bursts into the veteran Elite across the span of the bay. With his shields half down, he instinctively took cover. Unfortunately, Valdez had expended the last of his ammo.
Taking a cue from the Elites, and now full of adrenaline, he dropped his BR-55 and picked up a Plasma Rifle in each hand. Looking to his left, he saw the other white Elite trying to outflank him by sneaking around the back of the bay. He pressed down on the triggers and the recoil brought his view completely vertical. But they got the job done. The Elite's shields were down.
The Private threw down the overheating Plasma Rifles and quickly tossed a grenade at the wounded Elite, who was crouching behind a panel so his shields could recharge. The frag landed right next to him, and blew his body 4 meters into the air.
Only the veteran Elite was left. Slowly, stealthily, Valdez walked up to the box it hid behind, a Plasma Rifle in his right hand, a knife in his left. He dare not risk breathing, as the sound would surely cost him his life. Tip-toeing to the edge, he waited for the MAC gun to fire again, covering the noise he'd make when he made his move.
He yelled as he turned the corner of the box, but saw nothing. From behind him, out of the shadows, a warbled roar. Before he could turn around, a hail of bullets put the Elite in his place, its body dropping dead, a surprised look on its mangled face. A Marine who Damian had thought was dead at the turret smiled to him and then collapsed forward onto the .50 cal.
There was nothing more to shoot. All targets were eliminated. They had protected the station.
At that moment, the red doors at the very back of the station lit green, and they slid open. Five Marines, with a mix of weapons, ran into the room, checking high and low, searching for suspected enemies. A Sergeant walked up to Valdez.
"Where's the rest of your platoon, Private?"
Valdez put his back to the crate, pulled off his helmet, and slid down to the floor. "Dead, sir." He thought of Horatio. "They're dead."
Marines yelled clear from everywhere, confirming that the bay was, in fact, safe.
One of the younger Privates looked out the window and saw Boarding craft leaving from various parts of the station.
Over the intercom, "Malta, what's your status?"
"I don't believe it," the Private replied, "they're retreating, we won!"
Suddenly, an explosion from way below ripped shrapnel through the floor on Valdez's left, blowing a Corporal who had stood there up through the ceiling. Fire spouted from the door the reenforcements had just come through. Chain reactions from the ammo reserves deep below rocked the station, fluctuated the structure, cracked the huge meter-thick window like half-melted ice, and sucked of the bay's inhabitants into the cold, black vacuum. There was no sound. Explosions can't be heard in space.