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Fire Team Tango-chapter I
Posted By: Zen-Army<repubicanhippy@optonline.net>
Date: 13 May 2005, 9:17 PM

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Fire Team Tango Chapter I "Thirteen"

     1740 hours, august 10, 2552 (UNSC Military Calendar)
     Planet: Haven, Wayland county, UNSC Marine Garrison           Outpost: Whiskey.

     Jacob sat at the end of his cot, cleaning his battle rifle. He was an infantry man in fire team Tango who took pride in cleaning his weapons and making them spotless. He had recently been issued a brand new MA7B battle rifle and MP20 sub machinegun, and intended of keeping them in mint condition.
     Jacob was grateful for being issued new equipment, but he wondered why all this ordinance was being delivered to some backwater outpost. It did make a little bit of sense when he considered the fact that ONI had recently set up a research facility in one of the mine shafts near Whiskey outpost, but it still seemed more logical to give the ONI troops all the new equipment. He gave up on trying to figure out the UNSC's plans for this little mud ball of a world and went back to cleaning his weapon.
      As he finished cleaning the last bit of mud from his MA7B's flashlight, he heard the mournful cries of swamp predators. Jacob instinctively tightened his grip of the battle rifle. He hated everything about the predators. The eye-less creatures hunted via sound and were ruthless when they brought down their prey. less than a year ago, a kid from the town of Orleans was run down and hacked apart by a pack of the creatures. Since then they were called Shanks because of the way they killed their prey.
     Thoughts like these disturbed Jacob. He had grown up on Earth and wasn't used to alien organisms like this. To be truthful, Jacob was scared of them.

     "God Damnit!" Shouted a Marine, interrupting Jacob's grim thoughts. "This is the second time this week."

     Jacob knew exactly who was shouting. It was Lee, fire team Tango's marksman.

     "Surgically remove the damn thing for all I care!" Shouted Lee as he stormed into the tent. "Just don't do the same thing you did last time."

     "What's wrong this time, Lee?" Asked Jacob as he put his battle rifle down on the cot.

     "This it what's wrong!" Snarled Lee as he lifted up the left leg of his pants to reveal a bloated leech attached to his ankle.

     "Real pretty." Said Jacob.

     Just as Jacob finished speaking, Mullins stepped through the tent door wielding a large combat knife. Mullins was another of fire team Tango's infantry men as well as the medic.

     "All right," Said Mullins. "let's cut this leech off."

     Mullins looked at Jacob and whispered. "Keep him busy."

     "Amphibian bastard." Muttered Lee as he stared down at the parasite.

     "Leeches aren't amphibians." Said Jacob, correcting his friend. "They're aquatic slug thingys. Frogs are amphibians."

     "Hey Jacob, what's a frog?" Asked Lee.

     Jacob sighed and then began to explain what a frog was.

     "They're all slimy and green and drink water all day so they can piss all over your hands when you catch them."

     "You don't say." Said Lee, who was obviously not paying attention.

     "How the hell did you become our sniper?" Asked Jacob. "You're irrational and you space out all the time."

     Before Lee could answer, he screamed in pain. A second later, Mullins stood up, holding the struggling leech by the tail.

     "The bastard was dug in deep." He triumphantly said as the bloated blood soaked creature squirmed.

     "You asshole!" Shouted Lee. "I told you not to rip it off!"

     "And I told you it doesn't work that way." Replied Mullins. "These leeches cant be cut off. You cut em or pour salt on em and they clamp down on you. The head stays in and then you have to have a chunk of flesh amputated to get the head. I only got my knife to make you feel better."

     "I better get a purple heart for this." Muttered Lee as he sat down on his cot.

     Lee continued muttering as he bandaged his wounded ankle. On Haven, events like this were usually the highlight of the day. This was one of the reasons Jacob hated being stationed here. While other Marines were fighting the Covenant, he was stuck on some god forsaken rock, guarding a run down mining colony.

     "Mullins, Jacob" Said sergeant Reeves as he stepped into the tent. "Grab your gear, we're moving out. Lee, you're a Marine, act like a professional for god's sake."

     Sergeant Reeves was in his early forties, but his dark hair was already flecked with gray. His face was marked by a decade of service in the Marine corps, and the countless atrocities of war. The members of fire team Tango knew very little about their CO, but they all respected him.
     Mullins was already outside, and Lee had already retrieved his S22-SWP and was waiting outside as well. His sniper weapons platform didn't have the power of a S2-AM, but it was relatively compact, lightweight and ideal for guerilla combat. In addition to being a superb sniper weapon, the rifle was designed to accommodate a variety of scopes, equipment and ammunition ranging from the standard hollow point rounds to high explosive rounds designed to take down armored targets without the high velocity the S2-AM offered.

     "Hurry up Jacob, this isn't a tea party." Said Reeves as he stepped out of the tent.

     "Sometimes it feels like one sarge." Replied Jacob.

     Jacob quickly retracted the butt stock of his SMG and attached it to his belt. He then grabbed his battle rifle and stepped through the door to join the rest of fire team Tango.
     The sky was a dull gray and the air was filled with the tension that came before a storm. Fire team tango's tent had a perfect view of the waterlogged marshes that boarded Whiskey outpost and stretched out for two miles. It wasn't a beautiful view, but it was a decent change to the claustrophobic feel of the base near the granite cliffs.
     Wisps of mist swirled over the marshes, obscuring the silhouettes of a boarder patrol. As Jacob slowly walked over the wet gravel that filled the gap between the tent complex and the street, the wind began to pick up. For a moment the marshes became completely visible. Shallow pools of murky water, dead moss covered trees and large flat patches of yellow-green plant life could now be clearly seen. It wasn't much of an upgrade from the flat obscured view, and had the tendency to depress Jacob.
     I wonder when we'll get off this backwater planet and see some action. Thought Jacob as he walked towards the street. This mud ball is giving me a headache. It's just so damn uncompromisingly depressing.
     A transport variant of the Warthog was parked on the rain soaked street that ran parallel to the Pelican landing pads. The vehicle was more robust than the standard LRV, and replaced the chain gun with two benches with a three man capacity each. The Troop-hog LTV was an extremely dependable vehicle and was a welcome alternative to wading through the many marshes of Haven.
     Otto Schwartz, Tango's support and driver, and Mendez, Tango's tech and demolition specialist were loading ammunition and a large quantity of electronic equipment onto the Troop-hog.

     "So Reeves, what's our objectives?" Asked Jacob.

     "That's sergeant Reeves to you, Marine." Replied Reeves. "You damn kids these days have no respect for authority."

     "Sorry old man." Apologized Jacob. "I forgot you missed the good old days."

     Reeves shook his head and then began to speak.

     "Less than one hour ago, sensory grid whiskey-nine went off line." Said Reeves. "The Comm grid in the town of Nine Mile went off line simultaneously. All evidence points to sabotage."

     "So we investigate Nine Mile and bring sensory grid whiskey-nine back up?" Asked Lee. "And then what, wait for it to go off line again."

     "Our primary objective is to bring the sensory grid back online." Said Reeves. "But before that we'll make a quick stop at the Savanna tavern. The owner knows everything about every one. If someone has sabotaged the sensory grid and the Comm grid, then he's bound to know something."

     "So what if it was sabotage, and what if we catch the guy" Asked Lee.

     "Sabotage of UNSC equipment is treason, even if it is on a backwater planet." Replied Reeves. "If the perp is over eighteen, then he's looking at an execution sentence."

     "I got a bad feeling about this one, sarge." Said Lee. "Fighting aliens is one thing, but executing civilians... that's completely different."

     "I don't like it anymore than you do, Lee." Said Reeves. "But we have a job to do. Let's load up, we're moving out."

     Jacob quickened his pace to the Troop-hog and pulled himself up onto the right bench. Otto got into the driver's seat and Reeves took the seat next to him. Mendez, Lee and Mullins pulled themselves up into the back of the Troop-hog along with their weapons and equipment.
     Jacob looked down the road, where it ended at a large blast door boarded by two pillboxes and several scattered machinegun nests. No one but the brass and ONI knew what went on behind those doors, but recently Jacob had seen several coffin sized crates marked with a biohazard sign exit through those doors accompanied by six heavily armed ONI Marines.
     As Jacob curiously watched the blast doors, the Troop-hog accelerated. The MP station slowly drifted by. The soldiers inside were bathed in a warm yellow light, and seemed to be enjoying a game of cards and a bottle of vodka. Jacob wasn't jealous. He was glad to be leaving the outpost, even if he was going to a rundown cross roads town.
     The one aspect of Nine Mile that Jacob liked was the Savanna tavern. The bartender and owner, an ex Marine, was a good friend of fire team tango and was a reliable informant for the right price. In addition to that, he never watered down the alcohol he served, unlike the other tavern's in the area.
     Jacob also needed to repay a debt to Lee. He owed him a pack of cigarettes, after he lost a bet. How could anyone who would force twenty-three cookies into his mouth just to win a bet become a sniper. Wondered Jacob. Though Lee acted like an idiot most of the time, Jacob had to admit that when it came to business, he was an efficient, brutal and unforgiving soldier.

     "Yo Jacob, got enough ammo?" Asked Mendez.

     "Three clips for my MA7B, two for my MP20." Replied Jacob. "If you got a few seventy-two round banana clips, I'd be happy to take em."

     "You got it." Said Mendez as he opened up a medium sized dull green crate marked with yellow letters.

     Mendez went through the contents of the crate and retrieved three SMG banana clips, four flares and a small compact medical kit.

     "Take these too." He said as he handed the equipment over to Jacob. "We may be out here for a while, and you know how it gets here at night."

     "So, how many sensory stations are we looking at here?" Asked Jacob as he took the ammunition and equipment.

     "six." Replied Mendez. "All of them are up in the hills. We'll have to go on foot."

     "Great." Said Jacob. "Nothing but Shanks and backwoods shut-ins in those hills."

     "Look on the bright side." Replied Mendez. "Maybe we'll score some moonshine."

     The Troop-hog sped past the final check point of Whiskey outpost and down the narrow rain soaked road. The road was carved into the granite outcrop that contained the marsh. Tall intimidating granite cliffs rose up on either side of the road, creating the sense of an impending avalanche.
     Soon the towering cliffs disappeared as the road merged with a natural gorge carved out by a mountain stream. The Road followed the stream all the way into the city of Wayland. The city was relatively small and clustered around the rich titanium mines. From the mountain stream gorge, Jacob had a perfect view of the city. It was one of the few cheerful places on Haven.
     Wayland was bathed in a reddish purple glow at night, which could be seen for miles. The streets of Wayland were lined with storefronts, and overshadowed by the sprawling industrial complex owned by the Wayland Mining Company. Unfortunately for Jacob, he wouldn't be going to Wayland.

                         *     *     *

     The ride had taken eighteen minutes to get from Wayland to Nine Mile. Driving became somewhat difficult around this time of the day on Haven. When dusk came, the fog came rolling down the mountains and hills where it settled in the valleys. The safest way to travel at dusk was by train, but taking the train would be more trouble than it was worth.
     Nine Mile was a small cross roads and railway hub town. The only highlights of the town were an ore silo complex and a rum factory. The town was named Nine Mile, because it was nine miles away from all the other towns and cities that connected to it by road.
     As the Troop-hog passed the Quick Stop refueling station on the outskirts of Nine Mile, Jacob noticed it was vacant. Usually there would be a car or two being refueled, and the owner was always there. Now the refueling station was completely empty, except for the owner's car which was still parked in his driveway.
     As the Troop-hog approached the town, it became abundantly clear that Nine Mile was completely vacant. Abandoned cars still lined the streets, and most of the stores still had "open" signs hanging in their windows. A few shop windows had been shattered, but other than that there were no signs of combat.

     "This sure as hell isn't right." Said Reeves as he grabbed hold of a handle bar and stood up. "Park the hog here, behind those crates."

     Otto maneuvered the Troop-hog into position behind a large cluster of crates and construction supplies which were neatly stacked outside the Savanna tavern.

     "Otto, Lee, you two stand guard outside." Ordered Reeves. "Mullins, Jacob and Mendez are with me. let's try to keep a low profile, so don't drop the first thing that moves."

     Otto grabbed his MA5B assault rifle as he exited the Troop-hog and took up a defensive position behind a dull blue crate and a stack of timber beams that stuck out into the two lane road. Lee took up a sniper position with a large sturdy crate on his six in the nearly pitch black alley. The alley ran parallel to the Savanna and was covered by dark opaque tarp that failed to keep the rail out.
     A small stream of water trickled down the dirt floor of the alley and pooled in a hole near the sidewalk. Lee cautiously scanned his surroundings for any sign of hostile activity. Nothing moved in the grassy field that separated the road from the river at the left side of the valley. Lee saw nothing out of the ordinary in the dark pine forest that covered the steep slopes of the hill. The old warehouse and deli were clear as well.

     "Open and clear." Said Reeves in a hushed tone.

     Jacob and Mendez took up positions on either side of the door and mullins prepared to open it. A second later, Mullins kicked the door open and the four Marines rushed in. Mullins went straight forward while Jacob went left and Mendez went right. They were closely followed by Reeves who immediately went behind the bar counter.

     "His shotgun is gone." Said Reeves as he finished looking underneath the counter. "The money is still in the register too."

     "Something must have spooked him." Commented Jacob as he helped him self to a small bottle of dark rum.

     The interior of the tavern was dark. The window blinds were all down and all the lights except those in the glass liquor cabinets were turned off. The only other light source in the tavern was a large television which was turned onto the sports channel.
     Jacob was about to take the bottle of rum when Reeves snatched it from his hand.

     "I'll take that." Reeves said as he put the bottle into a pouch located midlevel on the right side of his armor his armor.

     Just as Reeves finished buttoning up his pouch, Otto rushed through the door.

     "We've just spotted twelve hostiles." Said Otto in a urgent tone. "Jackals, four support, eight regulars."

     "Shit." Said Reeves. "Mendez, call Whiskey and tell em we've got a problem."

     "Roger that sir." Answered Mendez as he grabbed his portable Comm unit.

     "You three take up defensive positions outside." Said Reeves, gesturing to Otto, Jacob and Mullins. "Don't fire until I tell you."

     Otto, Jacob and Mullins rushed out the door as Mendez tried to contact Whiskey outpost.

     "Whiskey outpost, Whiskey outpost." Said Mendez as he spoke into his Comm unit. "Come in Whiskey outpost."

     Mendez didn't get a reply. All he heard was white noise. He hit his Comm against the counter in a futile attempt to get it to work.

     "What's wrong Mendez?" Asked Reeves.

     "I can't contact the outpost." Replied Mendez. "I only get white noise."

     "Give us some support fire from that window." Said Reeves as he pointed to a window at the far end of the tavern. "We're gonna have to fight this one ourselves."

     Reeves stepped out of the Savanna and scanned the street for the Jackals. He saw all twelve of them at the fork in the road, less than two-hundred feet away. Two of the Jackals wore bronze uniforms, designating them as officers, and the others wore dark blue uniforms. The two Jackals in the bronze uniforms were talking, while the other Jackals slowly moved around on the road. The Jackals seemed confident that they had the town under control.
     The two Jackal officers finished talking and the group split evenly. One support unit and five regulars started to walk down the road towards fire team tango. The Jackal support unit was carrying a deployed energy shield and a plasma pistol. The regulars did not carry shields. Without the bulky energy shields, they were free to carry heavier weapons. The regulars also had additional armor, and all wore pure white helmets that looked like skulls.

     "Lee, Take out the support." Ordered Reeves as the contingent of Jackals unsuspectingly advanced on the position

     Lee lifted his sniper rifle and fired. The crack of his rifle fire was muffled by the weapon's silencer, as the hollow point round punctured the support Jackal's head and exploded out of the side. Dark purple blood and brains spayed out of the Jackal's ruined head as it fell to the ground.
     The remaining Jackals rushed for cover and began to return fire.

     "Let em have it!" Shouted Reeves, as the first plasma bolts struck the crates, creating molten craters in the metal.

     Jacob peered down the scope of his battle rifle. Two Jackals had taken cover behind a dumpster. They occasionally left the safety of the dumpster to return fire, but Lee had them pinned down most of the time. He had already fired five shots, but the Jackals had managed to evade all but one of the shots. Lee had tagged one of the Jackals in the shoulder, but the alien was still able to fight.
     As Jacob waited patiently, he saw the front of a plasma rifle stick out from behind the dumpster. The plasma rifle inched forward slightly, but just enough to expose several fingers. The Jackal was careless, and Jacob took advantage of that. He squeezed the trigger and a three round burst erupted from the muzzle of the battle rifle.
     The three rounds hit the dumpster in rapid succession, but one of them managed to punch through the weak metal and sever several of the Jackal's fingers. The Jackal screeched in pain as it flailed it's wounded hand. Dark purple blood trickled down the Jackal's arm and dripped down onto the concrete sidewalk.
     Jacob fired eighteen more shots from his battle rifle to suppress the second group of Jackals which were firing at the fire team from a storefront. He heard another silenced shot, and then saw a Jackal fall to the ground with a hole torn in it's side. The Jackal screeched in agony as it violently spasmed, forcing pieces of blood soaked intestines onto the cold concrete.
     The Jackals increased the amount of fire the used to suppress fire team tango. As the pressure increased on the fire team, a plasma bolt hit Otto in the leg. He fell to the ground and quickly dragged himself to the safety of the crate. He pulled out his medical kit and began to dress his wound. The plasma had burned through the armored plate on his thigh, all the way through his pants where it left a nasty burn in his leg.

     "I'm hit." Grunted Otto.

     Reeves stood up to provide suppression fire so that Mullins could help Otto. As he did, a bright purple blur impacted the middle right part of his torso at a steep angle. Reeves fell backwards and clutched his side. Mullins was there in an instant.

     "Let me see." He said, trying to conceal his nervousness.

     Reeves removed his hand to reveal a small hole in the black pouch he had put the bottle of rum in. Dark brown liquid poured out of the hole.

     "It's just rum." Sighed Mullins. "You had me scared there for a moment."

     Mullins looked back at the hole, and then the color drained from his face. The dark brown rum was replaced blood that was nearly black.

     "Shit." Said Mullins in an urgent tone. "He's hit bad, in the liver."

     Reeves was in obvious pain. He coughed violently as the pool of blood beneath him became bigger by the second.

     "Morphine." Was all Reeves managed to say.

     Jacob grabbed his medical kit and ripped it open. The contents fell to the ground and scattered. Jacob frantically searched for his morphine syringe until he found it.

     "Lee, cover us!" Shouted Jacob as he rushed to Reeves' side

     He then quickly injected the contents into Reeves' arm.

     "It's worse than I thought." Said Mullins. "The Celiac trunk has been severed, and I can't stop the bleeding. I don't have the right gear."

     "Come on Reeves, stay with us!" Shouted Jacob. "Don't die on us."

     Reeves' breathing was now ragged and shallow. It gradually slowed down, and then stopped altogether.

     "God damnit, don't die on us!" Shouted Jacob.

     It was of no use. Reeves lay dead in Mullins' arms. Fire team Tango's sergeant was dead, making corporal Otto Schwartz the new CO. There was no time to mourn for the dead. The second Group of Jackals had been called back to reinforce the first group. They were now on the fork in the road, and advancing on the fire team.
     Jacob searched for a grenade on his belt, but came up empty handed. Then he checked his vest. What's this? Thought Jacob as he felt a cylindrical object in a pouch on his vest. He reached in and brought up a flash grenade. Just as he pulled the grenade from his pouch, a brilliant purple streak impacted the tavern wall right next to his head, burning a neat hole into the brick.

     "Lee, there has to be a sniper out there." Said Jacob. "I've got a flash grenade. I blind him, you kill him."

     "Got ya." Lee responded.

     Hear that Mendez?" Asked Jacob. "Flash out!"

     "Loud and clear." Replied Mendez immediately after firing a burst from his SMG.

     Jacob primed the grenade as the rest of the fire team took cover. He tossed the grenade into the street, and an instant later it detonated. The flash grenade reaped havoc on the extremely sensitive eyes of the Jackals, blinding and disorienting them.
     Lee burst out from behind his cover and rapidly scanned the area for the sniper. Then he saw it. Between two large air conditioning units a Jackal crouched, shielding its eyes. The Jackal had been sniping from the cold storage facility on the right hand side of the fork in the road. On the roof beneath the Jackal lay a beam rifle. Lee took the shot and put a hollow point round it the alien's head.
     As the Jackal sniper's body toppled off the roof, the effects of the flash grenade began to wear off. Lee shot another Jackal who hadn't concealed it's self in the head, but to his surprise, the hollow point round bounced harmlessly off the alien's helmet. The concussive force of the round was more effective than its hollow tip. The Jackal was knocked back, and its helmet was loosened.
     Lee was forced to take cover as the three support Jackals locked their shields together and advanced down the road, firing their plasma pistols. As Lee was forced to hide, Jacob saw a new target. The Jackal Lee had hit was struggling to get up. He fired a three round burst at the Jackal's head, knocking the helmet off and puncturing the its head.
     Mendez emptied the remains of his SMG's clip into another Jackal who had emerged from the storefront before retreating back into the tavern. Plasma withered away the metal windowsill where Mendez had been a moment earlier as the wounded jackal clutched at its chest and staggered backwards.
     With the help of their support units, the Jackals were now on the offensive. They slowly moved down the street, occasionally darting to cover as fire team Tango tried to stop them. There wasn't much hope of stopping the advancing Jackals. The three remaining support units were a moving pillbox

     "Fall back, into the Savanna." Ordered Otto. "I've only got one grenade. We'll use it to cover our retreat.

     Otto primed the fragmentation grenade and then tossed it into the street.

     "Frag out!" He shouted as the grenade left his hand and bounced on the hard pavement.

     An instant later, the grenade detonated, sending shrapnel flying through the air and forcing the Jackals to take cover. Mullins grabbed Reeves' corpse and quickly dragged it into the Savanna, followed by Jacob. Otto limped after them with the help of Lee.
     Just before Lee stepped into the Savanna, he saw three u shaped Covenant Dropships lazily fly over steep pine covered hills, adjacent to the river. He quickly rushed inside and slammed the heavy metal door shut.
     "Shit!" Shouted Lee. "They've got reinforcements inbound. Three Dropships,"

     "What now?" Asked Mendez. "Wireless communication has all been jammed."

     "There has to be a phone line somewhere in this town." Said Otto. "I'm sure the Covenant wouldn't know about it, so it should still be intact."

     "The most likely place for an intact emergency line around here would be the fuel station." Said Mendez. "But that's at least three hundred yards away. The police station might have had one, but seeing how the cops were the only ones who could have put up an effective resistance, they're probably dead. And the police station is most likely destroyed or crawling with Covenant."

     "Jacob, the guy who owned the Savanna, he was nostalgic right?" Asked Otto.

     "I guess so." Replied Jacob. "You think he may have a phone line?"

     "Let's hope so." Said Otto.

     "I think he might have kept an emergency phone under the counter, next to his ammunition cache." Said Mendez as Hurried around the corner of the counter.

     Mendez crouched down and brushed aside an empty box of shotgun shells. The ex Marine kept a clutter of emergency supplies underneath the counter. Mendez pushed away a small pile of old flares and found what he was looking for.

     "Got it." Said Mendez as he stood up, holding a military style phone in his hand.

     "Make it fast." Said Otto. "The Jackals aren't gonna wait while you make your phone call."

     Plasma shot through the window, confirming Otto's statement. A second later, a deafening explosion shook the tavern. The lights flickered for a moment before the died.

     "Shit! They got the hog!" Shouted Otto. "Is the phone still working?"

     "Yeah." Replied Mendez as he dialed the access number to whiskey outpost."

     "Whiskey outpost, Whiskey outpost!" Shouted Mendez into the phone. "We have multiple Covenant contacts in grid whiskey-nine! Fire team Tango requesting immediate reinforcements! I repeat, Covenant contacts in grid whiskey-nine!"

     "Covenant? Shit!" Exclaimed the operator who had received Mendez's call.

     "We need reinforcements ASAP!" Shouted Mendez, as the fire team returned fire on the Jackals. "We're pinned down by a contingent of Jackals and they've got more on the way."

     "Roger that fire team Tango. Reinforcements inbound ETA two minutes." Said the operator.

     "Two minutes." Said Mendez as he hung up the phone. "Just two minutes."

     Jacob couldn't hear a thing above the load noise of rifle fire. He emptied his second battle rifle clip into the street, wounding a Jackal. He didn't bother reloading his rifle. Jacob immediately grabbed his SMG, extended the butt stock and opened up on a new target.
     Lee's sniper rifle was useless in the current situation. He had pulled out his magnum and was now systematically picking off wounded Jackals. He had already killed the Jackal who had gotten its fingers shot off, and was in the process of taking down another wounded Jackal.
     Suddenly the shrill whine of Needler fire made itself heard. Lee jumped behind an overturned table, just in time to dodge a flurry of pink needles. Mullins' reaction was a second too slow. One of the razor sharp needles cut through his arm. An instant later it exploded, spraying blood and tiny pink shards into the air.
     Mullins screamed, clutching his arm, as he fell to the hard wood floor. His wounds weren't immediately life threatening, but they were extremely painful.

     "Lee, give me a hand here." Moaned Mullins as he increased the pressure on his blood soaked arm.

     Lee rushed over to Mullins' side and pulled him behind the overturned table. As he dressed Mullins' wound, the Jackals made one final push.
     The front door burst open, revealing a support Jackal, its neon blue shield illuminating the dark room. The support Jackal rushed through the door followed by two regulars. Otto turned to face them, and opened fire with his MA5B. As armor piercing rounds ricocheted off harmlessly off the Jackal's shield, the ones behind it returned fire.
     Just as Mendez grabbed his shotgun, two more Jackals rushed in through a second door that lead deeper into the tavern. Mendez raised his shotgun and fired, sending buckshot flying into the chest of the support Jackal who had point. As the support Jackal flew backwards, Mendez dropped to the ground.
     The second Jackal that had entered though the side door was wielding a Needler. It fired a burst of needles at Otto. The needles impacted just above Otto's knee, causing him to stagger backwards. As he slipped, he ripped at the needles with his hand, slicing it open on the razor sharp edges.
     Otto was lucky enough to slide the needles out of his leg, avoiding internal injury. As the needles detonated sending bright pink shards into the air and into Otto's wounds, Mendez fired his shotgun through the wood walls of the counter, sending a spray of buckshot and splinters into the Jackal's legs, severing one and seriously damaging the other.
     As the Jackal screamed in agony, Otto grabbed his SMG and fired at the remaining Jackals, but only managed to to kill the support unit. The two other Jackals Darted for cover as they fired their plasma rifles. Jacob and Lee fired at the two fleeing Jackals, killing one, but the other had already taken cover behind a wooden crate adjacent to the counter.
     Mendez stood up and shot the cowering Jackal with his shotgun. As he pumped a fresh round into the chamber of his shotgun, the final Jackal came running down the stairwell directly across form the counter. As it reached the bottom, it fired its plasma rifle at Mendez. The plasma struck Mendez in the stomach, causing him to double over in pain.
     Jacob swung his SMG in a wide arc, hitting the Jackal in the stomach. The Jackal staggered backwards struggling to breathe. As it struggled, Jacob shoved the muzzle of his SMG into the Jackal's chest and squeezed the trigger. The Jackal screamed as armor piercing rounds punctured its torso, spraying dark purple blood onto the walls.

     "Lee, Mendez needs help." Shouted Jacob.

     Lee nodded and jumped behind the counter, carrying Mullins' medical kit.

     As the smoke cleared from the dark room, the reality of the situation hit Jacob like a ton of bricks. Reeves was dead, and wasn't coming back. Since the first day he set foot on Haven, he had wanted to fight the Covenant rather than guard an outpost. Now the Covenant were here, and they had taken the life of his friend.
     Jacob used to think that the number thirteen wasn't an unlucky number. He had always thought it was superstition, until today. He knew now that thirteen was infact a very unlucky number, because that thirteenth Jackal had cost sergeant Reeves his life.