Ship to Ship
Posted By: Steve<EaGLesAllThEwaY2@aol.com>
Date: 18 December 2003, 10:54 PM
May 2nd, 2531, 1600 Hours (Military Calender).
On UNSC Cruiser, The Lexington.
"All hands, report to battle stations," Captain Stewart Harrison said over the cruiser's intercom. The Captain clicked off the COM channel and turned to his AI, Osaka, who took the appearance of a Japanese Samurai, floating in a sea of pink, ambient light. "Osaka, how much time before that cruiser finds us?"
"It'll come around the planet in four minutes," Osaka said matter-of-factly.
"What's are current status?"
"You can fire one MAC round, Archer missile pods A and F, and one nuclear drone remaining. Armor plating throughout the ship at 20%, and hull breaches on decks B through K. Reactor at 55%. Slipspace generators being fixed, ready in...five to ten minutes."
"Thank you, Osaka. Tell the engineers I want them done in a forth of that time." Harrison turned towards the main screen, and saw the Covenant Cruiser rounding the gas planet Theta III, and crossing into its shadow. "Lieutenant Victor, what's our MAC charge rate?"
"98%, charging at 2% a minute," he replied.
"Good. I want the nuclear drone launched and into the planet's atmosphere. Give me the detonation key. When that cruiser turns the planet and comes into view, I want a MAC round there. And right after that, all the missiles. Give me a firing solution, on the double."
"Aye, sir. Drone away." The drone zoomed from the ship's bay and towards the planet's navy blue atmosphere.
"The cruiser has just increased its velocity. It will round the planet in two minutes," Osaka announced.
"Good." The faster it goes in, he thought, the faster it goes out.
"MAC guns are hot," Victor stated a minute later. "Firing solution online, routing detonation switch to your control, Captain."
"The cruiser is rounding the planet, twenty seconds," Osaka said.
"Lieutenant Victor, fire at will."
"Aye sir. Firing." 100 resounding thumps were heard throughout the ship as silver tubes streaked towards the area that would soon fill with greyish-blue alien metal.
"Cruiser ten seconds away," Osaka said. "Five seconds."
"Firing MAC," Victor said, and a huge vibration, as well as an explosion, rocked the weakened ship.
At that precise moment, the Covenant cruiser's nose poked around the corner. It somehow knew there was a salvo of missiles coming at it, because its pulse lasers were already charged and firing when it rounded the planet. One of the pulse lasers locked onto the drone with the nuke and shot it.
The MAC round, however, had just hit the Cruiser in the aft compartments, knocking out its shields, punching a hole through its armor, and heavily damaging their slipspace generators. A half second later, the shockwave from the nuke hit the ship. It did not cause serious external damage because it detonated at long range. But the EMP did burn out a lot of the electrical devices on the ship, including the plasma torpedo and shield regenerator. Six pulse lasers still worked, however, and they did not hesitate to use them.
"Sir, armor plating on deck F is at 10%," Lieutenant Weber called.
"Lieutenant, how many Longswords do we have operational?" Harrison asked.
"We have twelve Longswords docked in launch bay three, sir. Pilots on standby," Weber said.
"Order them to attack and take out those pulse lasers."
"And Weber," Harrison started, "tell the Marines to get ready for boarding action. We're going to take that ship, and we're going to take it with the only weapon we have left: Humans."
* * *
Over the ship's intercom system, a Lieutenant's voice came through, "Marines in Companies Alpha and Echo, suit up and prepare for offensive boarding action. Report to launch bay five for insertion. Companies Bravo, Charlie, and Delta, prepare to reinforce Alpha and Echo. Lieutenant Weber, out."
"You heard the man," Kelly shouted to Fred, James, and Malcolm, "Get your gear and report to launch bay five, on the double." The golden-green warriors rushed towards their locker, anxious to get up and fight. Each Spartan grabbed a dark-green duffle bag, chalk full of MA5B ammo, grenades, an M6D pistol with spare clips, and threw them in the back of the two Warthogs in front of them. James carried Malcolm's bag and tossed it in the back, while Malcolm hustled over to the weapon's locker to grab some shotguns, which would come in handy when in the tight quarters of the ship. He came back with two M90's and pitched one in Kelly's 'Hog, the other in James'. He hopped into the passenger side seat.
They were usually led by John, instead of Kelly, but he was off fighting to protect other outer colonies from the Covenant onslaught. John decided to split his team up into eight groups of four and dispersed them across the outer colonies to spread their effectiveness. John randomly selected teams, accept this one. He hand picked this one because Kelly, James, Fred, and Malcolm had such a good bond during combat. John would put them on some of the toughest missions.
The sound of an engine starting made Fred yell, "Let's roll!" Eight wheels screeched, which echoed throughout the walls of the Spartans' compartment. It was a minute's drive until the Warthogs fish-tailed left and into launch bay five. There were close to 200 people in the launch bay, two-thirds were Alpha Company. The others prepared the nine Pelicans in the launch bay, loading missiles and ammo.
Kelly, James, Malcolm, and Fred parked their LRV's to the left of the ten-meter wide door.
"Okay, team," Kelly said over their COM, "seal up your suits and get this ammo onto a Pelican. Double time!" Kelly grabbed her duffle from the back and followed James and Fred, who each carried a shotgun, with Malcolm behind. "We're the Pelican on the far rightv," she said, pointing to Tango 749.
As they walked in front of the Pelican's nose, an explosion was heard for an instant, before the sound was swallowed by space. One of the three remaining pulse lasers on the Covenant cruiser that the Longswords were unable to get before they were vaporized, hit the already weak launch bay door, blowing it into tiny pieces which floated in space.
The horrible sound of atmosphere being sucked into the blackness of space scared Kelly half to death. The force of the suction pressed the Spartan into the nose of the Pelican, hard. In front of her, Fred, too, had been slammed against the Pelican's hull, and had been knocked unconscious. There was no sign of Malcolm or James.
The door that they had drove the Warthogs through had quickly shut to isolate the breach. Weightlessness soon came to the room, and Kelly pried herself from the Pelican. She checked Fred's biometer: Heart-rate up to 120 beats per minute, unconscious, slight concussion, no internal bleeding. He'll live. A few stim-pills should allow him to fight normally.
Kelly focused on Malcolm's biometer. It showed he was still alive.
"Blue-4, do you read? Over," Kelly said over the team's secure freq.
There was a burst of static, followed by Malcolm's shy, but firm voice. "I read you, Blue-1."
"Where are you? My radar got busted when I hit the Pelican."
"Check the starboard wing," he said. Kelly looked over the gunmetal green of the Pelican and looked to her left. Malcolm pulled his way towards the nose of the craft with his duffle bag, the strap of which had hooked onto the tip of a missile. Malcolm floated towards Kelly and stopped his momentum with a finger hold on a window ledge.
"Where's James?" Kelly asked.
"Right here," James said, crawling up the left side of the air craft. The suction pulled James across the port side and hard into the left wing. It knocked the wind out of him, even through the Mjolnir battle armor. That's when Kelly noticed that they were the only ones in the entire launch bay. An entire company and a host of technicians lost to the vacuum of space.
Then, over the Spartan's intercom, Captain Harrison said, "Echo Company, do you copy? Over."
"Roger, sir, this is Blue-1," Kelly replied.
"What's your status?"
"Blue team operational, no casualties."
Kelly hesitated. "Gone, sir. Sucked out the bay doors. I didn't see anyone with atmospheric suits on. Pelicans were still strapped down." She paused. "We can still go on with the mission. We're low on ammo, but we could probably swipe some Covenant ordinance from-." She stopped mid-sentence. A purple/pink tear-drop shaped craft headed right towards the whole the pulse laser had made. "Sir, we've got Seraphs heading our way towards the launch bay."
"Roger, Blue-1. We've got multiple contacts. Our fifty-cal's should take care of some of them, but dig in and buckle down. Harrison, out." The COM channel went dead. Seconds later, Echo Company watched silently as yellow metal streaks flew towards purple invaders. Several exploded, showering their comrades with metal shards. The Seraphs in front of the Spartans fired their own weapons, blue/white super-heated plasma fired from the lead Seraph slagged the fifty-cal's. The two Seraphs behind it spread out and fired on the launch bay doors flanking the Spartans' bay.
"Crewmen in launch bays four and six, evacuate. The launch bay doors will be breached. Say again, evacuate, now. Do you read? Over."
"Roger, Blue-1. Evacuating now," one crewman in launch bay four replied on his radio.
"Affirmative, Blue-1. Evacuating launch b-." An explosion cut off the crewman's sentence, which was sucked away with the atmosphere. The pulse lasers still chipped away at The Lexington's armor, and would eventually have to be dealt with.
But for now, the Seraphs were the first priority. Another explosion rocked the launch bay to their left, and Kelly knew that launch bay six's doors were blown away. She hoped they had gotten most of the crewmen past the bay's entrance doors before they isolated the breach. She had to check.
"Crewmen, do you read?"
"This is Corporal Kepler, go ahead."
"What's your status?" Kelly asked, afraid to hear the answer.
"There's eight of us in the bay in atmospheric suits. Everyone else was sucked out, ma'am. We each have a pistol and an extra mag. Request reinforcements ASAP, ma'am."
"We'll be there right after we take care of our Seraph. Over."
"Roger. Corporal Kepler, out."
"I've got a plan," Kelly announced. "James, get in that Pelican. Malcolm, you get in the other one right there." She pointed to the Pelican beside theirs. Malcolm's acknowledgment light winked once, and in an instant, he had propelled himself off the first Pelican and into the port side of the other. Malcolm and James climbed in at the same time.
"Saddled up," James said.
"Ready," Malcolm spoke over the secure COM freq.
"Alright. Fred and I will distract the Seraph and shoot the tether off the Pelican. Then you turn 180 degrees and unload your missiles and 70mm chin mounted chain guns. But hurry, because those Plasma Cannons will rip through us in half a second."
"Roger, Blue-1," James and Malcolm said in unison.
"Seraph closing in on launch bay. 1000 meters away. 800 meters, 600, 400, 200, heads up," Kelly warned. The purple space craft easily fit through the bay entrance. Kelly and Fred were in front of James' Pelican, peaking around the nose to see when to distract them. Two doors opened on either side of the Seraph, and six Jackals in atmospheric suits and gravity boots hopped out, followed by twelve Grunts in full coverage methane suits and gravity boots. Each alien hit a button on their arm, and they gravitated towards the floor. Six shields popped up from the Jackals' arm, four blue, two yellow. They first scanned the area with their plasma pistols, checking to make sure it was clear. Several Covenant soldiers turned to each other and spoke through intercoms. Kelly winked her acknowledgment light once to Fred, who winked his back, signaling the Spartans to distract their unwelcome hosts.
Kelly gripped her pistol with her left hand, turned sideways, with her head pointing to the left wall of the bay, and pushed with all her might off the Pelican with her right hand. Fred kicked off the tip of the nose of the Pelican, heading the same direction as Kelly with his legs parallel to the floor, only his body was upright and he held with both hands his MA5B. A good thing about space combat was that you didn't have to worry about range. On ground with gravity, the farther away the target, the less power the bullet had. But in space, the speed it leaves the barrel is the speed it'll hit the target. But the recoil always knocked you and your aim out of alignment, so your first shot had to be a good one.
Blue-1 flew past two Pelicans before she started firing. She got off three shots before a Pelican obstructed her firing line. Two of the 12.7mm semi-armor-piercing, high-explosive rounds hit a Grunt, blowing two big holes in his suit, shooting gas and blood out of the breaches. The third bullet hit a Jackal right in the head. It never got the chance to suffocate.
Blue-2 had three-quarters of a second to fire, and he used every millisecond he could. James got eleven bullets out, ceasing fire at the Pelican. The first three bullets caught a Grunt in the head and upper chest. The top of its body went backwards, but because of the grav-boots, his limp body stayed grounded to the metallic floor. The next four bullets ricocheted off a Jackal's yellow shield and into the blackness of space. The last four 7.62mm AP bullets went right under a rookie Jackal's blue shield, hitting its grav-boots. The Jackal's instinctual response was to lift up his legs and put out his arms. By picking up his legs, his momentum sent him up and backwards. Its shield, which was meant to protect its life, actually ended it by blocking his hand from grasping the Seraph or its comrades. The vacuum of space had claimed another.
At the precise moment when Fred stopped firing, Kelly cleared the Pelican and started firing again. Three more bullets, three more suit breaches, three less Grunts to worry about. When Kelly got to the bow of the next Pelican, she halted her progress, and turned towards James' and Malcolm's Pelican.
The recoil from Fred's MA5B had sent him in a horizontal, counter-clockwise rotation. When Fred got to the Pelican right of Kelly's position, his legs were pointed towards the Seraph and his head towards the entrance of the bay. Fred gripped the Assault Rifle with his left hand, and with both his legs and his right arm, he hooked onto the Pelican, reversing his rotation, and spinning his legs behind him and rifle in front. Fred fired on full auto now, unafraid of the recoil since he has a finger hold. Blue-2 fired the remaining 49 bullets in his AR. The eight Grunts that were left took the brunt of the ammo, so after thirty bullets had left the barrel of the bulky Human's weapon, not a Grunt remained without a hole in its suit. But even after their death, they aided their superiors by absorbing most of the bullets.
Except a little Grunt by the name of Puzup, who, after getting hit three times in the right side of his body, forcing him to rotate clockwise, exposed his now useless methane breather. The 44th bullet struck it dead-center, causing an eerie silent explosion, engulfing the lifeless Grunts and two of the Jackles. Limbs and atmospheric suit pieces rained over the Seraph, who's pilot now saw the golden-green Spartan and sent a flood of blue/white plasma his way.
Kelly said over the radio, "Blue-3, Blue-4, get ready."
"Roger," the Spartans said simultaneously. Kelly zoomed in on the 2x scope attached to the pistol. In two quick, successive shots, she cut the nylon tether that bound the Pelicans. At that precise moment, the engines started up on both craft, and the starboard thrusters turned the Pelicans a full half circle. The Seraph stopped firing and focused its attention at the Pelicans.
This gave Fred the opportunity to prime a grenade on his belt and float it in the direction of the Seraph. It wouldn't do anything, except lower its shields a bit, but Fred hoped it would distract it. The glowing ball floated in front of the Seraph and two remaining Jackals, bounced off its nose, and exploded, killing the Jackals and lowering the Covenant craft's shields an eighth.
Even though the pilot didn't shift the guns Fred's way, he still must have looked his way, because the guns went silent for a second, and the Covenant jockey didn't notice four rockets his way. The first two overloaded its shields, and the last two blew it to smithereens.
"Good job, guys," Kelly complimented. "James, you go to launch bay four. Malcolm, six. Fred and I will take these two Pelicans and back you up. Move out!"
"Yes, ma'am," they replied, and they flew out of the bay into space, banking left and right. Kelly and Fred floated into the Pelicans they had used as cover, powered them up, and flew out of the bay, Kelly left, Fred right. To their left was launch bay six, and Kelly was eager to see if any crewmen were still alive.
Fred went to the right, 200 meters away from the ship's starboard side. He looked up and to the left, and saw the Covenant cruiser. It had a hole in its aft sections, and had other markings of damage. He saw two blue/white pulse lasers light up and fire. The cruiser was about nine-hundred thousand kilometers away, and with Fred's advanced reflexes, he easily avoided the two lasers that blasted above and below his Pelican. Luckily, the Covenant cruiser was too far in front of The Lexington to fire directly into the bay, providing some cover for him.
As he banked into the bay, he saw the same number of troops in launch bay five and a Seraph, only the tear-shaped Covenant invasion craft had been dealt with, and half the Covenant infantry was floating, dead. Fred saw three Jackles stomp to cover and four Grunts in the open firing neon green plasma futilely at the Pelican. The sight of a second one sent them scattering for cover.
The 70mm chain guns cut them down running. Stray plasma bolts flew from the aliens' claws as they felt the bullets rip through their suits and flesh. Two of the Jackles had taken cover behind some columns that stuck out from the walls, while the third Jackal, a veteran, defiantly kneeled on the center of the launch bay's floor, firing its pistol all the while.
Fred shot a quick burst at it, and even though the bullets cannot pierce the energy shield, it can push it backwards, especially in space, and that's exactly what the 70mm bullets did. The bird-like alien's boots stuck to the floor, but it fell over onto its back. The Jackal had time to noiselessly gasp before twenty 70mm slugs put fist-sized holes in it.
The two Jackals were another story. Even the powerful chin-mounted cannon couldn't go through the columns they hid behind, and Fred and James' Pelicans did not turn on a dime, and maneuvering into a position to get a shot was difficult, even for a Spartan.
Suddenly, the entrance to the bay's doors opened up and five Marines in atmospheric suits with thruster packs on their back floated in and shot the two pesky Jackals.
"Thought you guys could use some help, for a change, Spartans," a southern accented voice blared over their intercoms.
"We would have got them eventually, Sergeant," Fred said just after Sergeant Richards's identification came up on his HUD. "The next bay is clear, move out to launch bay six, they could use a hand."
"Roger, Blue-2. On our way. We'll leave the door open and some thruster packs here for ya. Richards, out." James set his Pelican close to the floor of the bay and set it in hover mode. He hopped out, attached the bottom of the Pelican to the floor tether, and then helped secure Fred's. They floated over to the entrance, grabbed the thruster packs, and flew down the corridor towards launch bay six.
When Kelly got to launch bay six in her Pelican, she saw something a little bit different than what Fred saw. Like James, Malcolm had taken out the Seraph first, but the Seraph's troops were more than just some rookie Jackals and pathetic Grunts. These were veterans. Hardcore Covenant troops who had seen many battles and learned a lot. There were six veteran Jackals and twelve veteran Grunts, three of which had the Fuel Rod Cannon. Kelly saw Malcolm's Pelican floating sideways, with its starboard side facing the Covenant troops. She noticed three big char marks on both the fore and aft starboard engines. Malcolm held onto a handle with his left hand, hung outside the hatch, and fired his pistol with his right hand.
But these were smart Jackals, and they overlapped their orange shields with small open parts for them to shoot out of. The Grunts behind them fired their pistols at a corner of the room. There was a loose set of lockers that some men in atmospheric suits had taken cover behind. She could see four men behind them, and knew some had been killed.
Blue-1 unlocked the safety on her cannon and unleashed a wave of 70mm metallic hail. The force of the bullets broke their formation, and allowed her bullets to tear them apart. The Grunts behind them had just turned around, when white hot bullets ripped off limbs and tore through vital organs. One bullet nicked the top of a Grunt's methane tank, and propelled him in wild circles across the bay, until it slammed into Kelly's windshield and then into space.
"Blue-1, glad you showed up," said the voice of Corporal Kepler.
"Is this all your men?" she said.
"Yes ma'am," he said, soulfully. "But they took some down with them."
Then the entrance doors parted, revealing five atmospheric Marines and two Spartans, each with thruster packs.
"We miss the party favors?" Sergeant Richards asked.
"The Spartans didn't leave any for you," Kepler said. "We can go look for some, but they probab-." Captain Harrison's voice came over the Spartan's intercom.
"Echo Company, do you copy? Over."
"We read you, sir," Kelly answered.
"What's your status?"
"Launch bays four, five, and six are clear. Echo Company at 100%."
"Good," he said. The Spartan's intercom clicked off. Sergeant Richards' intercom clicked on next. "Sergeant, what's your status?"
"We're all good here, sir."
"Affirmative. Get your team and Echo Company to cryo chamber 1 ASAP. We've fixed the Slipspace generator and are preparing for an emergency jump. Three more Covenant Cruisers are on their way and will reenter normal space in ten minutes. "
"Roger, sir. Red team, out." He turned to Kelly and Malcolm. "Guess there won't be anymore party favors. We'll let you off this once, but the next time..."
"Will do, Sergeant. Will do."
Two minutes later, stars around The Lexington smeared and stretched, and in an instant, it disappeared into another dimension.