Been a little while since anything of mine has been seen here. I decided I'd write a little something in the Halo universe, which I have been taking a break from, writing-wise. Enjoy.
Thirteen planets. Millions of people. Millions of names. Dozens of friends gone, and a dozen more in line. Five years, ten months, fourteen days, and this afternoon. Only a fraction of all that actually remained within the shattered confines of my memories. Not that it really mattered. I hardly needed such things as memories anymore. I hardly needed to think at all. A storm was rolling in. In reality, there are two storms. One of them lingers on the ground, however. Instead of lightning, it has grenades, and instead of clouds and rain, it has tanks and plasma. Somehow, I knew I would end up like this when I volunteered. I knew I'd end up sitting in a muddy trench, with no food, almost no water, and barely any ammo. I knew I'd have to hear the unanswered cries of the wounded all day, and smell the stench of death. I knew all along, but I still volunteered.
I suppose that's what I get for believing what they said about this war. Glory and sacrifice. Hah. There's no glory in it. You die like a dog, and for no good reason. Oh well, too bad. It's far too late now. What's done is done.
"Marines, man your posts!"
My ears heard the voice, but my mind wasn't listening. Regardless, I got to my feet, my boots sinking deep into the mud with a wet sucking noise. My rifle was covered in mud, just like everything else. The trench was deep enough that we could stand fully upright and not be seen. A raised shelf of dirt ran along the front of the trench, providing us with a place we could stand to shoot over the top. There were just under a hundred Marines in this position, along with some turrets, a trio of mortars, and other assorted munitions. And all of it was useless. Mud clogged every orifice of the equipment. The only things that still seemed to be functioning correctly were the MA5Bs.
Among the broken devices are the men. They are nothing more than the rifles now. Machines that function when ordered to. You point and they shoot. Their eyes are strange, looking at the world around them, but not seeing any of it. The individuals that used to reside within their bodies are now faded and suppressed. They lined the trench on either side of me, waiting for the next command. I thought I recognized some of them, but my mind would not give me their names.
The Sergeant came slogging down the trench, his face a solid mask of apathy. A few Marines were walking with him, and one slipped in the mud as the Sergeant stopped to inspect us. His eyes stabbed at us, projecting something of a threat, should we fail to stand and fight.
"Commence firing on my order only," the Sergeant said to no one in particular. None the less, we all took the order seriously. I turned and stepped up onto the firing shelf, bracing my rifle across the top of the trench. The ammo counter flickered to life as I removed the safety. Every other Marine did the same, the clicking of safeties, and the clacking of bolts filling the air. My sights were muddy, and barely useable. Then, suddenly, my eyes caught motion out in front of me. The sights went out of focus, and the Covenant battalion approaching our position became painfully clear. They had tanks, they had Hunters, but most of all, they seemed determined.
The battalion was advancing across the large, open field that marked the approach to our trench. The field rose steadily upwards, and our trench was at the top of the rise, looking down. An overcast sky hung overhead, and out near the horizon, behind the Covenant, was the approaching storm. The clouds were nearly black, and rain was clearly visible drawing closer. More mud. Great, just great. The rain was not as bad as what went with it. The ammo counter on my rifle flickered out, and I smacked the side of the weapon, causing it to come back on. There was a large crack in the glass covering the screen. My finger rested lightly on the trigger, and I placed my sights on the closest Elite. It suddenly occurred to me that there were three storms. One of water, one of fire, and one of metal. Three storms, one battlefield, and a million ways to die between them.
The humming of Covenant vehicles reached our ears, along with alien chatter. Elites were giving out orders, and preparing their troops for the assault. Not one of the men spoke. All eyes were trained upon the enemy. The rain drew closer, darkening the sky further. The wail of Banshees drifted through the clouds. Suddenly the order came. I jammed the trigger down on my rifle, unleashing a sustained burst. A wall of rounds flew down range as everyone opened fire. The roar of the rifles drowned everything out. Blood sprayed the air, and bodies fell among the advancing Covenant. Screams of pain and anger could be heard. The tanks returned fire half a second later. Massive teardrops of plasma rose into the air. They hung at the climax of their climb, then fall earthwards. They impacted all around with tremendous hisses, leaving huge, glass-filled craters. None of them were direct hits, but the next wave of shots would be far more accurate.
Banshees sliced in from out of the clouds like a school of sharks, their engines screaming as the pilots rushed to get into battle. Drizzle began to fall. My ears rang sharply from all the noise. The Elite leading the attack ordered the charge with a roar, motioning his troops foreword.
"Here come the Banshees!"
I looked up and to my right. The Banshees rolled gracefully into line with our trench and dove. Thunder rolled in the distance. Plasma fire exploded from the Banshees' gunports and sliced the air. It filled the trench, men screaming as it burned into them. Geysers of steam were kicked up as it burned the grass and the mud. Bolts of plasma ripped the air around me, hissing and screeching. I yelled in anger, bringing my rifle up and firing at the purple craft. Then, everything went black.
I was suddenly trapped in a world of feeling. I felt an intense burning in my chest. I felt that I was on my back. I felt the Banshees scream overhead, the air swirling violently in their wake. I felt very calm. I decided that dying now would do just fine. Here, at the apex of the three storms.