Last of the Walking Dead - Part Three: Fire (Continued)
Posted By: Walker<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 25 August 2003, 11:17 PM
Without another word he ran to the door, crouched down and pushed the Lieutenant's dog tag through the slot. It slid open, he snaked through and closed it behind him. Once he was sure that the are was clear of enemies he began to run as fast as his long, gallant strides would carry him. His shotgun was held tight in his hand.
Dirk reached a turn and was about to take it when he heard several footsteps ahead and a flurry of inane chatter that signaled to him the presence of one or more Grunts. He began to breathe more slowly and calmly, trying only to inhale or exhale when the creature or creatures ahead did, so as to shadow his presence. He slowly peeked his head around the corner, only so much as to catch a glimpse of what was going on.
Two Grunts, apparently separated from the main body in the midst of the battle, were waddling down the corridor, examining the walls and uniform building technique of UNSC engineers with a curios and childlike interest. One of them stopped for a moment, and sniffed the air. He nudged his squadmate and raised his plasma pistol, exchanging some words with the other Grunt that sounded like nothing more than pointless blabber to Dirk. He pulled his head back around the corner and smiled slightly to himself. Don't shower for two days, and your smell is hard to miss.
He lunged across the head of the corridor, firing once and bringing down the less alert Grunt. The other one screamed with surprise, and began to throw a frenzy poorly-aimed shots in Kennedy's direction. The Marine fired into his central mass, and batted him over the head with the barrel of his shotgun before he had a chance to fall. Upon striking the floor, blue-green blood leaked from the carcass. The Lance Corporal stepped around the gooey liquid carefully, having already been bathed in the stuff and not wanting any more part of it.
He policed up the Grunts' weapons and shoved one into his waistband and the other in-between his shirt and breastplate armor, need he reach them quickly if he ran out of ammo in the middle of a firefight. The Lance Corporal continued on through the unlocked door and stalked across the grounds of Echo Base, switching weapons to his S2 AM and his last clip for the rifle.
Reminded of hunting in the Rocky Mountains with his cousins when he was young, Dirk chose a nice little spot outside the clerk's office. The raised office boasted a small stairway, which he rolled under. At prone position he leveled his rifle and began the hunt.
An Elite roared a battle cry as it leveled its plasma rifle and cut across Connors' general direction with a plasma rifle, running expertly to the side as it did so. Using the double-tap technique, Kennedy tapped the trigger twice and brought the Elite down with two shots to where a human's temple would me.
A Jackal bent over the Elite's body and greedily picked up his plasma rifle while the other Jackals covered him from Connors' fire. The only thing they weren't counting on was another Marine to the side, just waiting for a chance to slump them over the bodies of their fallen comrades. Kennedy pushed a bullet through the Jackal's head, and he fell in an unnatural position, his back contorted with pain.
Dirk dropped the sniper and palmed both of the plasma pistols. He held down the triggers until the pistols were fully charged and let loose the supercharged blast, taking down the Jackals' shields. A quick succession of shots brought down the unprotected creatures, and the last one made the mistake of lowering his shield just enough for Connors to get a shot in.
The bright, flying balls of plasma shooing from beneath the shadows of the stairway had revealed Dirk's position, and now fire was being concentrated on him. He scurried out of his hiding spot, and began firing the plasma pistols as soon as they recharged. A Banshee singled him out from the scurrying ground forms and sent him turning on a dime as he cut across the Marine's path with a blast of his plasma cannons.
"Get out of my Goddamn way, you bastards!" he yelled, charging straight into the disorganized Covenant lines with his head bowed down like an angry bull. He was firing blindly, but he took down three Grunts who turned as they fell. He tackled another to the ground and unslung his shotgun as Connors covered his charge, and began beating the thing in the face with the M90.
It screamed as its skull shattered, and Kennedy ripped the still-living thing's methane tank away from its face and shoved it into the bellowing mouth. Several moments later, the thing went limp, and Kennedy leaped to his feet. Dust clouded his vision, and he could barely make out the wall and the huge, galactic carcass of the fallen Hunter. When the dust cleared, they were alone. The Covenant had fallen back.
The same Banshee that had before herded him into the mass of Covenant cannon fodder now chased him into the MP hut. He, like Connors, dived through the window and watched warily as the thing circled the parade ground, filling it with craters to show its might.
Dirk noticed that Connors was wounded. A chunk of his right side was missing, and he was holding his entrails in with his hand. His left held his blood-soaked carbine, his finger tight around the trigger. He flashed one of his rare grins at Kennedy, and gave a slow chuckle. "We beat them back, Lance Corporal. We beat them."
Suddenly, there was a whirl of engines and a thundering roar of cannons. Bullets tore into the Banshee as it seemed to hang limp in the sky, caught in fire from two directions. The metal that formed its hull screamed as 90mm rounds from a Pelican's HV cannon ripped away at it, then the thing fell and was impaled on the barrel of the last remaining automated turret as it fired into the sky.
The 90mm gun swiveled towards the Covenant on the other side of the gate, tearing up the blood-soaked soil and mowing down the retreating enemy forms. The Pelican slowly lowered, but continued firing as the back ramp swung open and five ODSTs hopped out. Three assumed defensive positions on the wall, but the last one, a Sergeant, charged down the steps with a medic who held a medical bag in one hand and an M6D in the other.
They jogged over to the MP hut, the Sergeant with an MA7B battle rifle slung over his shoulder. He grabbed Kennedy by the arm and bodily pulled him from the MP hut out onto the ground. The medic holstered his pistol and leaped over the wall, making quick work of sealing the bleeding Marine regular with biofoam and taping him up. He helped him over the side, and tried to take his carbine away from him, but Connors refused. "I'll keep this one, thanks. It'll make a nice souvenir."
They scaled the ladder as quickly as possible, the Sergeant and the medic helping Connors in-between them. Kennedy stood aside as they piled Connors into the Pelican and laid him on a stretcher. "Aw, damn, don't let the nurses see me like this," he said, grinning again.
"All right, buddy, hop in," the Sergeant said.
"Wait!" Kennedy yelled, suddenly remembering. He charged past the Sergeant and stumbled down the steps of the stairway on weary legs, and climbed quickly through the broken window into the MP hut. He grabbed the nuke off of Batonne's lap, slung it around the dead man's neck, and took his body over his shoulders.
The Sergeant watched with no expression as he made his way back up the steps, then took the body off of his shoulders and placed it by Connors, who looked away. He shoved Kennedy forcibly into the back of the Pelican, not wanting to wait anymore, and hopped in himself, taking a seat at the edge of the ramp where his legs dangled over the side. The medic gave the Pelican pilot thumbs-up, and the dropship slowly rose.
The Sergeant lifted himself up and strapped into a seat, and Kennedy repeated the process as the ramp door rose up and shut with a clang, sealing them inside. "Everybody strapped in?" the pilot asked, and several "affirmative"s were heard. The pilot started up the main thrusters, and the ship rocketed to the sky.
"Corporal, come here," Connors said, from his prone position on the ground. He still held his MA2B carbine close to his chest, and Dirk finally realized he was holding it so tight not out of want to stay in the fight but to make it easier to bear the pain of his wound. The Marine inched close to his buddy as the medic moved aside. Connors released a hand from his carbine and pulled Dirk close by the collar of his uniform. "Corporal?" he asked hoarsely.
"I just want you to know, sir, that you did good. Real good."