Trial Under Fire
Posted By: Zypper<email@example.com>
Date: 12 March 2001, 6:24 AM
It was nighttime on HALO, Lieutenant Forge shivered a bit in the cold air. What a rotten few hours this had turned out to be. It was supposed to be a short insertion mission, drop 8 soldiers off and get out. "Three-hour tour my ass," she thought to herself. Forge was tired and hungry, and her flight suit's heater wasn't working. She had picked out a few choice words for the bean counters and their "lowest bidder" policy. That, on top of other things; for one, the thermal sensor in the tail of her dropship, The Lady Liberty, had been acting up, giving off false alarms left and right. So naturally it didn't warn her about the Covenant missile that had flew up her left-rear engine pod. She did manage to make a good landing though, if one can call a hundred-yard furrow in the ground good, at least nobody was injured. If headquarters would send a heavy-lift platform out, her ship could one day fly again, fat chance of that happening.
The troops had insisted that Forge had to leave her ship, lest the enemy come to inspect their kill. She reluctantly agreed, but not before having the boys toss a camo net over the Liberty, for whatever good that will do. The party had trekked towards the forest where they would be relatively safe. A few kilometers can mean the difference between a medal and a coffin. The squad picked a slightly elevated hill in the woods to settle in and wait for rescue. With any luck the Covenant wouldn't find them until they were safely out of there. BurstComms with HQ revealed that there was a cache of weapons a few clicks away. Lt. Forge just wanted some Coffee. The bad news was that a new ride wouldn't be available for four hours.
Guardian Th'Raka peered into the remains of the human ship that his wingman had brought down. It was a big kill, he thought to himself, Goeg, his wingman, would certainly be rewarded for bring down such an important piece of human machinery. Humans, ugh, he could still smell their stink, permeating the interior. But they had gotten away. He checked in with his leader over the uplink, it turns out they had sent out that strike-force he was promised three cycles ago. Just then Th'Raka heard movement behind him; he spun around drawing his blaster in one smooth motion, only to find himself staring at the hover-carrier that the strike team had just arrived in. Th'Raka chided himself for letting his hatred cloud his thinking.
It was decided that the strike-force of 12 Covenant Warriors would split up to look for the survivors. The two pilots would search from the air and provide support when the humans are found. The groups split up: six Warriors would search the forest on foot, while the others would cruise around, searching the folds of the valley. Th'Raka boarded his aircraft, and as the groups broke up, he pumped burst after burst of photonic energy into the human aircraft. Turning it into an unrecognizable lump of aluminum, titanium, and steel.
On that wooded hill, Private Colman paced back and forth, cradling his assault rifle in his arms. Why did he have to be the first watch? Oh well, at least he wasn't alone; his buddy Jerry Chen was on patrol as well. Three of the marines had left to get the supplies from the cache. Leaving three marines and that foxy pilot with nothing to do but wait for rescue.
Meanwhile back at the hilltop camp:
Sergeant Brahe: "Hey, Forge, why was your ship named Lady Liberty?"
"It's the nickname for a famous statue on Earth, I thought it had a nice ring to it."
"Oh, I've never been to Earth, I wish I had though."
"When we win this war, I'm sure we'll have a huge party there."
The three marines made their way to the cache. Using a high frequency caller, the cache recognized their presence, and burrowed its way to the surface. The marines couldn't believe their luck, within this hidden vault were rocket launchers, shotguns, chain guns, and possibly the most exciting, a Warthog. As the marines hurried to mount the gun to the 'hog, and stow the weapons, they didn't notice the Banshee overhead.
Th'Raka couldn't believe his luck, just a few minutes into his loitering search, he found those blasphemous humans. There they were, brilliant infrared blobs in his scanner, oblivious to his presence. He fought the impulse to gun them down right then and there, it looked to him like they were in a hurry to get somewhere, it came to him as they jumped in the vehicle and headed off, of course! It's headed towards their camp in the forest. Th'Raka keyed the uplink, and reported his find, and put his craft into stealth mode. The hover-carrier turned towards the forest, and headed off at full velocity. Bouncing its six occupants around some, but the pain would be worth the gain. Goeg was angry; his wingman had found the humans and not him. He jammed the throttle forward; he wanted to finish his kill. Of course a covenant flyer at full speed makes a lot of noise, why do you think they got the term Banshee?
One of the marines in the Warthog noticed the whine; spotted Goeg's Banshee with his starlight scope, slewed the 20mm cannon in the direction of the flyer, and opened fire. The DU slugs ripped into the Banshee's power core, detonating it in a brilliant ball of incandescent gas. "We've got company, alert the others" the marine hollered.
The six Covenant warriors advanced through the forest, wary that the humans were near. They stumbled upon a marine taking a leak. A quick swipe of an energy sword and Private Second Class Mark K. Colman was no more.
Private Chen saw the flash of the energy sword. "No human weaponry glows like that" flashed through his mind a few milliseconds before he opened fire. The others at the camp heard the gunfire, and grabbed their weapons, just as the BurstCom chattered to life with a message from the marines in the 'hog about the covenant Banshee.
The brave warrior K'thul was the first to die, the bullets walked their way up his torso, splattering blue blood onto his companions. The strike force powered up their weapons, their cover was blown. Energy bolts flew through the woods in the general direction of the tongue of flame emanating from Chen's rifle, lighting up the woods in a beautiful but deadly lightshow. Zaas caught a bullet with his jaw, ripping off his mandibles in a wave of pain; his body dumped him into blissful unconsciousness, as his life leaked away. The human clipped two more warriors before he was silenced with a needle gun.
The surge of adrenaline pushed Forge's aches and pains to the back of her mind, she was at full alert now, and her pilot's issue SMG leapt to her hand. The other marines lead the way towards the direction of the firefight. One marine dropped to the ground, dead, blood slowly trickling from a new hole in his head. Sergeant Brahe lobbed off a couple grenade rounds from the grenade launcher on his rifle; the upheaving soil tossed two Covenant warriors unlucky enough to be caught in the blast zone like a gangly rag dolls. Forge emptied her weapon at the source of murderous blasts of light. And another Covenant fell dead. Private King grasped his midsection in pain and surprise as 3 needle projectiles ripped his gut open, spilling his intestines onto the ground. Brahe finished the final covenant off with a final trigger pull. The woods were silent once again.
The Warthog pulled up to the camp, shell casings littered the ground, the boles of trees were split open, and smoke rose from small fires everywhere; a once pristine forest laid waste in the fares of war. The marines unloaded the weaponry and dragged Private King into the back of the 'hog.
Th'Raka was incensed; the human vehicle, he had been following silently, had met with more glowing shapes, certainly not his kind. He selected the missile rack and fired two missiles at the glowing vehicle. Two bright stars streaming smoke dove towards the humans. And the Warthog disappeared in a blinding flash.
Lieutenant Forge could taste the blood in her mouth; her ears were ringing, and her body, broken. In the light of the burning remains of the 'hog, she could make out the shattered bodies of the marines. Her body was screaming with pain, but some motion caught her eye. It was that Banshee that had fired those blasted missiles, flying low and slow; must be surveying the damage, Forge thought. Then she saw it, the anti-air missile launcher from the weapons cache. Forge dragged her tattered body to the weapon, and lugged it to her shoulder. She hit the power switch, the weapon actually powered up, even after being caught in that horrible blast. And her heart sank, as the weapon's systems blinked red, screaming "Error!" She pounded on the weapon in desperation, the error light flickered, "Aww sod it all." Forge pressed the launch stud, the weapon shuddered, and a missile shot towards the Covenant craft.
Th'Raka saw motion "How could anything be alive down there?" and then a flash. The last thing he saw was a smoke trail snaking towards his craft. With nowhere to go, no place to turn, the Guardian Th'Raka joined the ranks of the Covenant fallen.
Forge heaved a mighty sigh of relief, as the Covenant wreckage tumbled to the ground. She willed her body to go on, searching around the camp for any signs of life. She found King's arm, with a wedding ring on it, some poor girl just became a widow; Forge choked back the bile in her stomach. The three marines were ripped to shreds by those murderous missiles. "Brahe?" she called. She got a muted moan as a response. Forge limped over to the source of the sound. It was Brahe all right: pinned by a huge tree felled by the missiles. Forge tried to budge it, and it wouldn't. Just then she saw some lights ahead in the forest. Shit that's a Covenant hover-carrier! Forge drew her SMG and aimed it at the carrier. Dead man's click, empty. Forge dropped her weapon and raised her hands in surrender. The Covenant in the carrier leveled their pistols at her. But before they could do a thing, their carrier exploded in a searing fireball. Forge turned her head, and saw two smoke trails reaching from the trees.
A cyborg, clad in green, strode forth from the cover of the woods. He dropped his twin missile launcher and asked in a metallic voice "Are you ok?"
"Yeah, I'm ok, I need to see a doctor, so does Brahe here, but he is stuck under this tree"
"Not a problem" and with that the cyborg lifted the tree from Brahe's body, his metallic feet sinking into the soft soil, Forge pulled Brahe to safety, and the cyborg dropped the tree to the ground. "Come on, the dropship is a short walk away.
Forge looked out the hatch at the chaos from her stretcher, as the dropship Freedom Fighter rose into the air. As the painkillers took effect, and blissful sleep enveloped her, her last thought was that she had survived; despite the bean counters.