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Fire Team Tango-chapter II
Posted By: Zen-Army
Date: 21 May 2005, 4:34 PM

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Fire Team Tango Chapter II "Meat Grinder"

1825 Hours, August 10, 2552 (UNSC Military Calendar)
Planet: Haven, Wayland County, Covenant Occupied Town of Nine Mile.

           Jacob starred down at Reeves' corpse. Less than an hour ago Reeves had been his friend and leader. Now he was just another casualty of war. Jacob was about to leave when he noticed a thin white object tucked away in Reeves' armor. He grabbed the object and pulled it out.
           Jacob held the object and looked up at it and saw it was a photograph. He looked closer, and then quickly dropped the picture. After seeing the images on the picture, Jacob couldn't stand to look at it any longer.
           As the photo lazily drifted down, caught up in the air flow, Lee saw it for an instant. The picture was of Reeves, his wife and son. It was dated July seventeenth, 2552.

           "I'm gonna go outside, and wait for the Pelicans." Said Jacob, trying to mask the grief he felt.

           Lee decided not to intervene. It was Jacob's problem and he would have to deal with it on his own.

           "What's wrong with Jacob?" Asked Mendez.

           "He just found a picture of Reeves' family." Replied Lee. "He's been wanting to see some combat ever since we got here. Now he feels guilty about Reeves' death. I guess he never expected one of us to get killed."

           Jacob slowly strolled across the road. He no longer cared about whether or not there was another sniper, or if the Covenant had sent more troops to pick off the rest of the fire team. After wanting to see combat and then seeing Reeves get killed, Jacob had complete contempt for his life. Whether he lived or died no longer mattered to him.
           The faint sounds of Pelican Dropships caught Jacob's attention. He looked up into the tall weathered cliffs that bordered the right side of Nine Mile. Jacob could just make out the cliffs' silhouettes through the dense fog, but he couldn't see the Dropships. He checked his watch and saw that the reinforcements were two minutes late.
           As Jacob looked back up at the cliffs, five Pelican Dropships gracefully flew over them. The thick fog swirled around them as they drifted forward, towards the grassy field just across the road from the Savanna. When the five Dropships were over the field, they began to descend.
           Jacob ran over to the Dropships as they touched down on the wet grass. As he ran, he realized that acting the way he did after Reeves' death would only tarnish his memory. If I keep going on like this, i'm just going to get someone killed. Reeves taught me better than that. Thought Jacob. I guess I owe it to him to stay alive and keep fighting.

           "Where's the rest of you fire team, Jacob?" Asked a Marine who had just exited one of the Dropships.

           The man was Staff Sergeant Kaplan, one of Whiskey outpost's quarter masters. He was tall, and wore heavy armor designed for shock troopers. This made him look intimidating. When it came to proper weapons handling and cleaning, the man was a nightmare.

           "Reeves got hit." Replied Jacob. "He didn't make it. Mendez Otto and Mullins got hit, but they'll be all right if they get proper medical attention. Mendez needs it more. He took a few hits in the stomach."

           "How about Lee?" Asked Kaplan. "Is he still able to fight?"

           "Lee is fine." Replied Jacob. " All we need is some ammo, and me and him will be able to go back into combat."

           "Good." Said Kaplan. "We could use another sniper and we can always use more troops."

           "Me and my squad will go help Lee with the rest of your fire team." Kaplan continued as he handed Jacob a small military style laptop. "Take a look at these. We only got about fifty percent before our communications were jammed."

           Jacob took the laptop and looked at the screen. On the screen were arial images on Nine Mile. It showed several location where the covenant were dug in. Near the ore silo complex, a few hundred feet away from the Savanna was what appeared to be a Covenant supply cache. On the bottom of the image was a serial number and then the words UNSC Frigate Excalibur.
           Jacob scrolled to the next image. The old refinery next to the ore silo complex had been fortified in some places. The Covenant had also set up a medium sized camp in the ruins of the refinery's left side. What the hell did that? Thought Jacob as he examined the ruins. Looks like some kind of heavy weapon punched right through it. Could the Covenant have armor in the town?
           There were only a few more images on the laptop that showed a strong Covenant presence in and around the warehouse complex that blocked off the refinery from the rest of the town. Outside the complex was what seemed to be a communications relay station surrounded by several small generator modules. The infra red image of the picture showed a huge spike in thermal activity right where the alleged relay station was.
           I've seen these before. Thought Jacob as he studied the Covenant equipment. Back on Sigma Octanius four, just before we were transferred. Jacob went on to the last picture which showed the cold storage facility. The large titanium and concrete structure had been retrofitted with covenant technology. Behind the structure six large spherical structures had been set up by the Covenant. The Covenant structures linked up to the equipment retrofitted into the back of the cold storage facility.

           "They're dug in pretty deep, huh." Said Kaplan as he returned, helping Otto walk to the Dropship.

           "Yeah." Replied Jacob. "They're all centralized though. If they hadn't jammed our communications then we could just have one of the fire bases shell them."

           "The Covenant are jamming the communications with local hardware, sine they don't have a ship in the area to do so." Said Kaplan. "Our primary objective is to take out that hardware so we can start coordinating our assault. The brass also wants us to take out their relay station and the supply cache. If we can do that then we'll starve them of their local supplies. It won't do us much good if the Covenant start airlifting supplies in."

           "Hey Kaplan. if the Covenant don't have a ship, then where did the the troops and supplies come from?" Asked Jacob.

           "Our sensors didn't pick up a thing orbiting Haven, except for UNSC equipment and the orbital facilities." Replied Kaplan. "The Covenant can cloak their smaller ships, but nothing big enough to carry enough troops let alone Dropships, or carry weapons to take out our installations. They probably managed to get a substantial amount of troops and supplies here from one of their capital ships and then left em here."

           "Its really weird now that I think of it." Said Jacob. "Where did the civilians go? I suppose the Covenant could have killed them all before they escaped, but that would be quite a feat. They would have to do it covertly, but then why bother to kill civilians if this is a covert ops? That would just attract attention. Why do all that and then make their presence here obvious?"

           "I haven't a damn clue." Replied Kaplan. "Now if you'll be so kind as to excuse me, I've got to get mister Schwartz on a pelican."

           Jacob and Lee watched as the Pelican carrying Mendez Mullins and Otto lifted off the ground and sped towards Whiskey outpost. As the Dropship left, Jacob checked to see how much ammunition he had left. He found only one clip left for his battle rifle and three for his SMG.

           "Hey Kaplan, got any spare ammo?" Asked Jacob.

           "What do you need?" Replied Kaplan. "I've got mostly BR55 clips here. A few MA5B clips and some eight gauge buckshot shells."

           "I just need a few BR55 clips." Stated Jacob.

           "One moment." Said Kaplan as he retrieved two clips from the crate.

           "Kaplan, look for some hollow point rounds for my S22." Said Lee. "I've only got twelve rounds left.

           "Sorry Lee, looks like you'll have to make do with what you've got." Replied Kaplan. "You and the ONI Marines are the only ones with S22s."

           "Guess I'll have to ration these." Said Lee as he made a slight adjustment to his scope.

           "Fire teams Fox-trot and Oscar are gonna need your help taking out that supply cache." Said Kaplan as he handed the two BR55 clips to Jacob.

           "Fire team Oscar's CO is over there." Kaplan continued as he gestured towards one of the two Pelican Dropships that remained.

           "Thanks for the ammo." Said Jacob as he and Lee walked towards fire team Oscar's CO.

           As Jacob and Lee walked across the field, several Marines were digging foxholes in the rain soaked ground. Others were setting up machineguns, camouflage netting and metal barriers in and around the foxholes.

           "Sir, Staff Sergeant Kaplan told us that your fire team may need help with destroying the Covenant supply cache." Said Jacob as he approached Oscar's CO.

           "That's correct soldier." Said the Sergeant. "This is gonna be everything but easy. We have no communications and no updated intel. All we're doing is softening up Nine Mile for the troops on the Excalibur."

           "So, where's this supply cache we have to take out?" Asked Lee.

           "In between the ore silo complex and the refinery." Replied Jacob.

           "Fire teams Oscar and Fox-trot are deploying now." Said the sergeant. "You two are with fire team Oscar."

           As the Sergeant finished speaking, the Marines under his command assembled around him. In the distance, the sounds of a fire fight could be heard. A moment later, fire team Fox-trot arrived.

           "Fire team Fox-trot will move through the drainage ditch that runs parallel to the train tracks in order to flank the Covenant." Said the Sergeant as he briefed the two fire teams. "Fire team Oscar will move up through the fields in a direct assault. Red smoke will signal the assault. Keep your heads down and don't fire until I give the order. We need Fox-trot in position before the Covenant are aware of us. From there on we may have to defend the cache until we can arm the demolition charges."

           "This won't be a cake walk. The cache its self will most likely have a substantial amount of defenders, and we can expect them to have addition reinforcements nearby." Continued the Sergeant. "all right, lets move out."

           Jacob and Lee closely followed the two fire teams as they jogged to the alley that ran along the side of the Savanna. The interior was dark and wet. Occasionally a shaft of dull light cut through the darkness, but it didn't do much to illuminate the alley. The sound of rain hitting the tarps that covered the alley intensified as the Marines inched forward.
           When the Marines reached the far end of the alley where it joined another, the Sergeant gave them the hand signal to stop. He then motioned for two of his men to clear the new alley. Two Marines quickly moved forward and rushed into the alley, covering both ways as they did. They paused for a moment and then one of them spoke.

           "Sir, you should see this." Said one of the Marines as he lowered his rifle.

           The Sergeant stepped forward and then stopped in the intersection. The rain began to fall even harder. Wisps of fog slowly drifted over the alley as he began to speak.

           "Looks like we've found some of the civilians." He said in a depressing tone. "They're all dead, children too."

           Jacob and Lee moved forward to see the civilians. There were fifteen of them. Most of them were adults, but three of them were children. Lee stepped forward to examine one of the bodies. It had a clean yet deep slash across the throat, but other than that there were no other injuries, not even signs of plasma caused burns. Lee went on to the next body and found the same thing.

           "All their throats are slit." Said Lee as he looked back up at the Marines. "No plasma scoring, no signs of Needler wounds, no blunt force trauma. Just the slit throats. An odd way to execute fifteen people."

           "Apparently they wanted to be discrete." replied the Sergeant. "Looks like this was the work of special ops."

           "It would explain why no one called for help or alerted any of the other towns," Said Lee. "but that would mean that the entire population of Nine Mile was killed like this."

           What the hell is going on here? Thought Jacob as he looked down on the corpses. He no longer felt remorse for the dead. For the first time since he joined up, Jacob had seen the war for what it really was. There were none of the propaganda images of Marines bravely fighting and dying to push back the Covenant, only desperate battles fought not for glory but survival. Countless lives had already been lost, and Jacob decided his name wouldn't end up on the long list of casualties that grew day by day.
           No remorse, just survival. Thought Jacob as he shifted his gaze away from the bodies. Now's my chance to make a difference on this rock, and I'll be dammned if I'm gonna miss it.

           "We'll get these cleaned up later." Said the Sergeant. "Move out, we still have a supply cache to take out."

           "Lee, you think the spec ops are still in town?" Jacob asked his friend.

           "I don't see a reason for them to stay." Answered Lee. "Maybe this was just a diversion. Maybe the covenant are interested in what ever Oni's been doing here."

           Jacob decided not to continue the conversation and walked on down the alley. The alley was defined by the building on its left side, and the old wooden fence on its right. The packed in dirt that made up its floor still kept its form, even with all the rain. The rain was channeled into a set of tire tracks which ran down the center of the alley and ended at the messy construction site which blocked it off at its end.
           The Marines cautiously moved forward as they approached a section of the fence that had large gaps in it. Opposite the gaps were three large dumpsters which were bathed in the light from the neon red sign above them. This section of the alley was covered by metal sheets which amplified the sound of falling rain. All the other sounds were drowned out by the rain hitting the metal sheets.
           Fire team Fox-trot moved out of the protective alley and into the grassy field that bordered it and the rest of the town. They took up defensive positions behind two train tracks that were elevated by gravel. Right on the other side of the train tracks was the ditch that fire team Fox-trot would use to flank the Covenant. It was undoubtedly filled with thick mud and pools of stagnant water, but it offered concealment and cover.
           As fire team Fox-trot took up their defensive positions, Jacob, Lee and fire team Oscar hurried across the train tracks. A large expanse of grass, shallow pools of stagnant water, and concrete vent structures lay between the Marines and the Covenant supply cache. The vent structures released hot air from the automated subterranean complex below the refinery, causing the fog around the town to swirl up into the sky. During the hours of dusk, the town was circled by thick fog, giving the impression of a siege. This only added tension to the already nerve wrecking situation.
           As fire team Oscar spread out and slowly advanced into the the marsh-like field, fire team Fox-trot entered the drainage ditch. If everything went right, fire team Fox-trot would be able to assault the Covenant from the side while fire team Oscar hit them from the front. The plan was lacking only one thing which was updated intelligence. The Marines knew that if there were unexpected reinforcements or additional defenses around the supply cache, the assault would most likely fail and the casualties would be high.
           Jacob pushed this thought into the back of his mind as he trudged through the shallow pools of water littered with broken timber, small bits of obsolete industrial hardware and rusted out barrels. The marsh-like field was a dumping ground littered with an array of rusted metal broken glass and cracked plastic. Larger pieces of rusted out industrial hardware were nestled within tall groves of reeds which dotted the landscape.
           The area was also home to a large shallow creek that was used to dump the town's sewage. Concrete sewers retrofitted with vent structures and old hardware were buried only a few feet beneath the saturated soil. The marsh-like field was crawling with a wide variety of insects, large worms and other forms of pests that made their homes in the trash that had been carelessly discarded.
           The supply cache was now less than a hundred feet away. It was nestled beneath the towering rectangular ore silos and bordered by the refinery on one side and a complex of abandoned shipping crates on the other. The supply cache itself was surrounded by short barrier made of stone and empty supply modules. Two large plasma turrets were set up to cover the exposed sections of the cache and in the center, a large circular tower had been deployed.
           The defenders were a mix of Grunts and Jackals. They slowly walked around the supply modules that had been neatly stacked together. All together there were twenty-four Covenant troops guarding the supply cache. Eighteen of them were Grunts, and the rest were Jackal regulars.
     The Sergeant motioned for the Marines to stop and hold their positions. He then crept over to lee who had taken up a sniper position behind a rusty refrigerator that had been overgrown by reeds and grasses.

           "See the Grunt with the red armor?" Asked the Sergeant in a hushed tone. "He's in charge. Target him, but don't take him out until I tell you to."

           The Sergeant then made his way back to the rest of the Marines. He crouched down behind another vent structure where Jacob was ready to bring down a Grunt in orange armor if given the order to. The Sergeant pulled out his binoculars as saw fire team Fox-trot at the end of the drainage ditch.

           "Stay here and give us covering fire." Instructed the Sergeant. "Keep those turrets targeted. If you see the Covenant go for one of em, then drop him before he gets there."

           Jacob looked back down his scope at the Grunt he had been targeting a moment earlier. As he did, the sergeant pulled out his smoke canister, pulled the pin and threw it out into the field. Bright red smoke began to pour out of the canister moments after it hit the ground.

           "Take em out!" He shouted as he ran to his troops.

           A second after the order had been given, a hollow point round punched through the commanding Grunt's head. Neon blue blood spouted from a horrible wound in the alien's head, drenching its crimson armor. As the Grunt died, two more fell from a hollow point round wound and a burst of armor piercing rounds.
           The supply cache erupted into chaos as the Marines charged in. In the first few moments, two Jackals and another three Grunts died as well as four Marines from the two fire teams. Lee fired the last two shots in his clip at a Grunt who had been spraying Needler fire down on fire team Oscar. As Lee reloaded his weapon, frantic movement near the refinery caught his attention.
           As Lee peered down his scope at fire team Fox-trot, he saw two of its Marines get ripped apart by a nearby explosion of plasma. The three remaining members of the fire team panicked and ran as a Wraith advanced from the rail yard adjacent to the refinery. It fired a second shot, killing two more Marines. As eight Grunts rushed passed the Wraith towards the supply cache, it directed its attention to what remained of fire team Oscar.

           "They've got armor, fall back!" Shouted Lee as the Wraith fired.

           The massive orb of plasma gracefully arced upward and then started its descent. Jacob looked up at the plasma mortar round and the scrambled into the complex of shipping crates. The mortar round hit the vent structure causing the concrete to crack and cave in. It was held together by a few bars of metal that had survived the intense heat, but it didn't look like it would hold for long.
           As the Wraith directed its attention away from him, Jacob ran towards Lee, but when he got to the vent structure it collapsed, taking him down with it.

           "Lee, get me out of here!" Shouted Jacob as he tried to unearth himself from the rubble.

           As Lee got up to help his friend, a bright purple blur passed right in front of his face. Lee fell backwards into the damp grass. As he did, he could still feel the heat and electrical charge from the beam rifle bolt that had just missed him.

           "They've got another sniper!" Shouted Lee as he scrambled across the grass to cover. "You're on your own Jacob."

           Lee wasn't going to stay and fight. The assault on the supply cache had fallen apart the moment it started, leaving Lee up against the remnants of guards, their reinforcements and a Wraith. He got up and ran back towards the train tracks, to more suitable cover.

           "That bastard sniper's gonna get more than he bargained for." Muttered Lee to himself as he ran.

           Lee quickly cleared the distance between his former position and the train tracks. He leapt over the drainage ditch and scrambled up to the train tracks. Upon reaching the top, Lee rushed down the other side and burst into the alley. He struggled to gain enough traction on the slick soil to run. As Lee slipped and scrambled towards the nearest door, a second beam rifle bolt cut through his arm. Lee didn't pay attention to the pain. He was intent of taking out the Jackal sniper.
           Lee kicked open a large metal door that joined the alley and rushed in. Just as he got inside, a beam rifle round punched through the door, leaving a molten hole in its wake. Lee stopped for a moment to catch his breath and get his bearings. He breathed a sigh of relief, convinced he was safe inside the building he had entered.
           Lee looked at the interior of the building. He saw more bodies hastily pilled alongside neatly stacked crates and boxes. Crimson blood pooled beneath the bodies. Their throats were all cleanly slashed. Lee saw he was in a storage room for one of the stores in Nine Mile. He quickly scanned the room for an exit. The large segmented door at the loading section of the room was locked, and the door leading into the store was locked as well.
           There were only two more options. A door on the side of the room that lead out into a parking lot and three windows above that lead out onto the roof.

           "All right, the parking lot's too risky." Muttered Lee. "Besides, the sniper will probably have that covered. I'll have to go up."

           Lee paused to think and then remembered the grenade he had taken from one of the supply crates earlier. He quickly came up with a plan and began to put it into motion. Lee ran to the door and opened it slightly so that it was left ajar. He then climbed the crates to the opened windows above. As he reached the top of the crates, Lee primed the grenade and threw it at the door.
           As the grenade exploded, forcing the door to fly open, the Jackal sniper fired. Lee rolled out of the window and spotted the sniper. He fired, hitting it in the waist and tearing a large hole in its soft flesh. The Jackal staggered backwards, and was hit in the head by a second hollow point round, which ended its life.
           The threat the sniper posed was gone, but Lee didn't want to stick around. He decided he would fall back to the Pelicans' landing zone where the Marines had dug in.

                         *     *     *

           Jacob felt a sharp pain in his leg. He looked down to see a jagged piece of sheet metal protruding from a gash above his knee. Jacob grunted as he pulled the piece of metal from his leg. He looked up and saw a long dark corridor. Jacob got up and began to walk down the industrial corridor. It was designed to vent steam on hot air, but it also housed large pipes and pumping equipment.
           Each step Jacob took caused more pain in his leg. The medical pack he had been given lay scattered on the sidewalk next to the Savanna tavern. The bleeding wasn't serious, but the wound was painful. Jacob braced himself against a large pumping station and reached for his battle rifle. Then he realized he didn't have it any more. No use going back for it. Thought Jacob. Its just gonna cause more trouble.
           Jacob grabbed his MP20 and folded out the butt stock. The SMG was more suited for this kind of environment than the BR55, so Jacob didn't mind the loss of his primary weapon. I'll just get another when i get back to Whiskey outpost. Thought Jacob as he continued to walk down the corridor. Kaplan's gonna give me hell for loosing it.
           Something further down the corridor caught Jacob's attentions. Something was causing barely visible movements in the faint steam that filled the corridor and occasionally disrupted the environment. The hell is that? Thought Jacob as raised his MP20 and crept forward.
           The disturbance in the environment was moving deliberately. There was no doubt in Jacob's mind about that, but he never seen something like that before. As Jacob crept closer, the disruption stopped moving and seemed to shift. There was an excited yelp followed by a burst of plasma.
           Jacob dropped to the floor as the plasma shot above him. He fired his SMG at the disruption. Several round impacted the disruption, causing a transparent silhouetted image to appear for a moment. Jacob knew it was a Grunt immediately, because of the neon blue blood that was streaming down an unseen mass from unseen wounds.
           The disruption began to move erratically. It ran and staggered forwards, swaying from side to side. Jacob fired at the disturbance again. The grunt's transparent silhouette became visible again as the rounds from Jacob's SMG punched through its body, spraying neon blue blood on the walls and floor. The Grunt made a short squeak and then fell to the ground. As Jacob watched, the transparent silhouette melted away revealing the Grunt. Its dull gray armor was stained with neon blue blood and the leathery skin of its legs was riddled with bullet wounds.
           Jacob checked the Clip of his MP20. He saw there were only fifteen rounds left. Jacob discarded the old clip and loaded a new one. As he finished loading his weapon, he noticed a faint humming sound originating just ahead of him.
           Jacob continued on down the corridor until he reached and intersection. A second corridor joined the one Jacob was in at an angle. As jacob entered the new corridor, the humming noise intensified. He continued along the new corridor, mesmerized by the sound.
           The corridor soon opened up into a small runoff reservoir. The reservoir was empty, but tucked away in the corner was a strange object. the Object looked like a smaller version of the Covenant cargo module, but instead of transporting cargo, the object was bristling with computer terminals. It was painted a dull maroon color and at its top was an array of three antennas that curved inward. The antennas were doted with colorful lights, and occasionally bright purple energy surged along them and dissipated at their tops.
           The odd object was surrounded by two plasma batteries. The circular objects gave off a humming noise as electricity danced throughout their mechanical innards. Could this be what's jamming the communications? Thought Jacob as he examined the object. I guess it wouldn't hurt to take it out even if it isn't.
           Jacob raised his SMG as he slowly walked backwards. Once he felt the cool wall at his back, he emptied the clip into one of the plasma batteries. Electricity surged around the damaged battery as sparks flew from destroyed circuitry. The electricity intensified until the plasma battery was torn apart by an explosion. The explosion of the first battery caused an explosion in the second.
           Jacob watched as the electrical discharge from the two batteries swarmed over the object, damaging its computers and the heat melted the metal that encased it. Convinced the object was destroyed, Jacob continued down the corridor. As he walked, he reloaded his MP20.
           Suddenly a disturbance darted in front of him. Jacob fired a burst into the disturbance as it shifted. A second transparent silhouette of a grunt appeared. It staggered backwards, clutching its chest as neon blue blood poured from its wounds. Jacob was about to finish of the alien when a loud roar of anger caused him to turn around.
           Jacob saw a third disturbance. This one was much bigger than the other two and coming closer at an alarming rate. Jacob could barely make out the upper part of the body. The torso was hunched over, but the disturbance managed to run down the corridor with ease. In its left arm appeared a brilliant white flash which soon formed into a two pronged sword. Jacob emptied the remains of his SMG's clip into the oncoming adversary.
           Bright blue waves of energy cascaded around the transparent silhouette of an Elite as the SMG rounds bounced harmlessly off. Jacob was out of combat options. He dropped his weapon and ran the other way. The Elite was fast, but it wasn't able to stand upright and Jacob had a head start. He managed to keep himself far enough away from the Elite so that it wouldn't be able to cut him down, but it was a mere twelve feet away.
           Jacob saw a faint light pouring in through a rectangular hole just ahead. He ran as fast as he could towards the light, intent on escaping the Elite's blade. As Jacob got to the exit, he pulled himself up and squeezed out of the small opening. As soon as he was free, he rolled sideways, nearly missing the Elite's final attempt to end his life. The energy sword cut into Jacob's arm and traveled all the way down to his wrist.
           Jacob gritted his teeth in pain as crimson blood poured out of his wound. As jacob lay on the could wet pavement, a medic rushed over to him and with the help of another Marine, dragged him behind a large metal barricade. The agonizing pain made Jacob oblivious to the intensive fighting that was taking place all around him. Jacob felt a bold of plasma impact him, but he no longer felt pain. he began to slip into unconsciousness.

                         *     *     *

           Jacob awoke to see the ceiling of a tent above him. A faint blue light poured in from a flap in the tent.

           "Glad to see you're awake." Said Lee as he entered the tent. "Looks like that Elite nearly got you."

           Jacob remembered the battles he had fought at Nine Mile and the run in with the Elite.

           "How are Mendez and Otto, and mullins, are they okay?" Asked Jacob.

           "They're fine." Replied Lee. "You, Otto and Mendez have to take it easy for a bit, but every one's fine. Purple hearts all around."

           "Every one in the team got hit?" Asked Jacob.

           "Yeah." Answered Lee. "Mine and Mullins' wounds were a lot worse than they looked. I nearly had my artery thing severed. I forgot what happened to Mullins, but he's fine now. Oh, before I forget, a brought you some of last night's dinner. UNSC grade mystery meat, mmm. Sounds tasty, doesn't it?"

           "I think i'll peel that dead leach off the floor and eat that instead." Replied Jacob.

           "Well, if you don't want it, then I suppose we could make some of the new recruits eat it." Said Lee. "Its been out all night, and i'm sure they'll have a hard time keeping it down. We can bet on who has the will to eat the most old mystery meat."

           "Yeah, and then who ever you bet on will end up getting the whole plate full shoved down his throat by you." Replied Jacob

           "Yeah, you're right." Said Lee. "I probably would do that. Well, then I suppose we could paste the Colonel's head on war crimes posters and put them up around the base."

           "The Colonel would freak out if we did that." Replied Jacob. "I'm not ready for a life's sentence of latrine duty."


           "So, what happened?" Continued Jacob. "What happened at Nine Mile? We took it back right?"

           "Yes and no." Replied Lee. "The Whiskey outpost forces were out numbered, out gunned and had no way of communicating with each other save messengers. To put it bluntly, we were slaughtered. Eighty percent casualties. We didn't take out the supply cache, the command center or the base camp. Although the wireless communication came back online, we evacuated all out personnel from the town. It wouldn't have made much of a difference any way, but it made it a hell of a lot easier for the Excalibur's troops. They're still fighting to take the town back, but they got the Covenant on the run."

           "That bad?" Asked Jacob, who was obviously surprised.

           "It gets worse." Replied Lee. "The Covenant still have a strong presence here. The civilians panicked when they heard about it. ONI came in a declared marshal law. The whole county is under lock down."