Halo: First into Hell

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Halcyon508
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Halo: First into Hell

Post by Halcyon508 » Mon Sep 06, 2010 4:29 pm

Reader Advisory: Mature Content

And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda

Nine Hours Ago

“Taylor.” The sergeant said as they looked out upon the large forest. The Marines were safe at their firebase where they could run sorties into the surrounding area. The covenant seemed content to take over the planet instead of glass it. The brain trust thought that the Covenant wanted the precious Helium-3 fuel source that was located on the planet.

“Yes Sergeant?” Private Taylor replied.

“If you get lost, or separated from the group don’t yell out.” Sergeant Chan said.

“I won’t sergeant.” The young marine replied.

“Don’t yell out.” Chan repeated.

“No Sergeant I won’t.”

“But you aren’t going to get lost.” He then said. “You are going to stick with Corporal Mills right.”

“Yes Sergeant.” Taylor repeated.

“And Corporal Mills will watch out for you.”

The Corporal gave a nod. “Yes Sergeant.”

“Alright then let’s get the hell on.”


Five Hours Ago

Dusk was beginning to fall. Taylor was behind Mills and watching as the man in the front hacked through the thick underbrush. “Corporal, why do they call it dark green? These trees seem just as green as any other.”

“It isn’t plain to you?” he said with a smirk taking out his map. “Dark green,” he said pointing at the area of the map with dark green representing thick foliage. “and light green.” He pointed at the thin foliage area. “We’re in the dark green.”

“Well when you say it I feel dumb.”

Corporal Mills laugh was cut off by fists getting raised along the patrols column. Each and every man knelt down and took cover behind trees or rocks or into patches of bushes. Taylor landed about a foot into much making a squishing noise as he sank. He couldn’t see the man on point, but he could hear. The jungle was silent and it seemed there was movement all around them judging by breaking of twigs and the birds fluttering away. A scream echoed from up front. “Contact!” a man yelled as plasma bolts and rifle fire echoed.

“Shit!” another trooper screamed as he was struck in the chest by a plasma rifle.

“Taylor fire damnit!” Corporal Mills yelled. Taylor was shaking, scared, he couldn’t move, he could barely breath. He lifted up his weapon a fired round after round into the woods hoping to hit one of the aliens firing upon them.

Hearing a crack he turned in time to see a large figure become visible as the large elite warrior decloaked. The young man lifted up his rifle and fired the bullets bounding off the shields. A energy sword burst through his chest before he even had time to react.

Sergeant Chan ducked under a log to avoid the enemy. He was covered in mud. “This is Fourth Platoon we’ve been over run. They’re all dead! Requesting a fire mission on my position!”

“Confirm grid coordinates.” Came back. Sergeant Chan relayed his position. “You understand that this is on your position sergeant?

“Just do it damn you.” Chan replied. He got up out of his hidden position and started firing rapidly at the assembled troopers. Several grunts immediately got blown away under his withering fire. Bullets bounced off shield and penetrated flesh. Few minutes turned into hours until finally overhead a flight of Shortsword bombers darted overhead. Suddenly the jungle was engulfed in flame as they dropped their payload.


One Hour Ago

Private First Class Ethan Seiger had already been through remarkable amounts of training. His life was spent in the academy on reach. He was being groomed to be an officer, however at age seventeen he forged records lied about his age and joined the Marine Corp. Not that he needed to lie, he could have signed up saying that he was sixteen and he wanted to join the marines, such was the state of desperation present throughout humanity.

He completed training and earned the rank of PFC. He fought in a single battle before being transferred unexpectedly to special training. Because of his unique situation and training he was assigned to the elite ODST’s without meeting the veterans requirements. Many of his fellows were somewhat put off by his presence. He was young, only seventeen, younger than the other troopers. Not only that but he looked even younger than his age. Babyface and the kid soon became monikers for him.

“Listen up.” The Major said, “The planet of Prometheus is a UNSC Mining colony. The Covenant want to mine the vast resources of Helium-3 on the planet.” He looked around the rooms. “The battle has been going on for months with no end in sight. You soldiers are going to turn the tide.” A map came up on the display in front of them. “Our forces have dug into small firebases in the northern continent where the enemy has focused their attack. The enemy has remained mostly mobile except for a single base of operations. This is their headquarters, but more importantly, this is the location where their ships deliver, and they maintain, all the supplies for their campaign on the planet.”

Ethan stared at the heads up display. He already knew what was coming. “We are deploying your entire platoon to take out all the storehouses. Weapons, ammunition, food, all of it up in flames.” Even though the young man knew what his orders were going to be he was surprised. An entire platoon of ODST’s was a deadly weapon to wield. “You will drop two teams per dropzone and working together infiltrate and destroy this facility. Is there any questions?” A chorus of no sirs followed as the troopers dispersed. They had an hour to study the plans, study the maps and get prepared.


Now

Seiger was strapped into the HEV as it burned through the atmosphere. The enemy would figure out they were there as soon as they saw the shooting stars falling towards the ground. It was important that once he was on the ground to get as much distance between himself and the pod as possible. The pod shook and shimmied as it hit some turbulence. Ethan checked his coordinates quickly. He was off course, quickly he made some course adjustments to make sure he didn’t land over a mile away from the other pods. As the pod reached the ground it broke through the canopy of trees. Instead of landing in an area of lighter foliage to the east he slammed into the densest area the jungle had to offer. The pod door opened and Seiger stepped out. Already mud was overflowing into the pod. “Off course and in a swamp.” He said frowning.

The pod stopped sinking about half way into the mud. He pulled his SMG and DMR from the from the pod and began to move out. “Team Six this is Seiger.” He used his callsign sparingly. “I landed off course but am heading towards the rally point. I’ll make it to the party on time.” He began his trek out of the swamp towards the location where the troopers were to rally together. It would take about twenty minutes before they were all together and ready to move onto the objective....
Domani, forget domani
Let's live for now and anyhow who needs domani?
~ Frank Sinatra, Forget Domani

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Re: Halo: First into Hell

Post by VagueDurin » Tue Sep 07, 2010 9:15 pm

Yesterday

"You're up... Hey! Earth to Doc, anyone home?"


HM3 Garrison Bishop blinked his eyes and shook his head slightly before he focused on the table in front of him. There were expended shell casings gathered in the center of the table with three other servicemen surrounding them. Each man held a hand of playing cards close to his chest. Bishop gave the questioning Marine an uneasy smile and nodded his head, setting a pair of his cards down on the table and drawing two more to replace them.

"Yeah, sorry bout that." Bishop apologized and the game kept going.

"You alright Doc? You've been acting a little strange lately, ever since-"

He stopped speaking when one of the other marines elbowed in in the ribs. Bishop half-smirked and gave a little shrug in response. "I'm good, man. Just have a lot on my mind. Hate these need to know missions, too. Dragging us all the way out here to this place, then waiting around like this not knowing what our objective is..." He trailed off and took a sip of his drink. Even he knew that he wasn't sounding like Doc Bishop. "Ah hell, listen to me bitching and moaning like a lowly squid. Who's bet is it let's get this thing going..."


One Hour Ago

"'Bout friggin time we get the green light" Someone spoke next to Bishop.

Garrison smirked as he looked around at the briefing room and its occupants. Most of the ODST's were already in their BDU's sans helmets. A few were just in their body-gloves like he was. There wasn't any firm regulation one way or another as to which was or wasn't proper, though it was the general understanding that folks should be armored up by this point. Bishop didn't care. He saw no use in sealing himself in that armor any sooner than he needed to. Wasn't like they weren't going to get to spend plenty of time in the damned stuff anyhow.

“Listen up.” The Major said, “The planet of Prometheus is a UNSC Mining colony. The Covenant want to mine the vast resources of Helium-3 on the planet.” He looked around the room. “The battle has been going on for months with no end in sight. You soldiers are going to turn the tide.” A map came up on the display in front of them. “Our forces have dug into small fire bases in the northern continent where the enemy has focused their attack. The enemy has remained mostly mobile except for a single base of operations. This is their headquarters, but more importantly, this is the location where their ships deliver, and they maintain, all the supplies for their campaign on the planet.”

Bishop watched on, the pessimistic expression was still on his face, but his eyes were focused and paying attention. He might not be a USNC poster boy, but when it came to handling business he knew when to straighten up and get the job done. “We are deploying your entire platoon to take out all the storehouses. Weapons, ammunition, food, all of it up in flames. You will drop two teams per dropzone and working together infiltrate and destroy this facility. Is there any questions?” A chorus of no sirs followed as the troopers dispersed. They had an hour to study the plans, study the maps and get prepared.

Bishop sighed slightly as he watched the platoon filing out of the briefing room. It seemed like a waste, sending in a platoon of Helljumpers to do a smash and burn run... Which made him think there was more going on here than what they were being told. He started off out of the room himself but was stopped before he could make a clean getaway.

"Talk to me grumpy." the female voice spoke from his right. Bishop turned around and glanced at the speaker, a blond eyebrow raising over his eye in response. "I've heard some things, the boy's are concerned about you."

Technically, as a PO3, Bishop was supposed to stand at Parade Rest when addressing a SSgt. Bishop wasn't that kind of servicemen, however, even in the laxed world of the ODST's he could still be called undisciplined. Instead, he found some real estate along the bulkhead and leaned a shoulder into it. "Listen, Vero, I'm good. I swear it. It's been 3 weeks already. And you know me, I wouldn't dare risk the safety of my brothers if I thought for a second I wasn't ready to bump uglies with the Covenant."

SSgt Veronica Scarlatti stood with her arms crossed over her chest as she listened to Garrison's explanation. She was in charge of Fire Team 3, and Garrison was her Corpsman. He hadn't always been in Team 3, but she'd ended up mixed in with him on a botched mission and was impressed with his combat presence. So despite the negative image he portrayed on the outside and in cantonment, she'd transferred him into her team. "Fine. I'm satisfied. Just make sure you bring your A-Game today, Doc. My nieces birthday is in a week and I'll be in a whole heap of trouble if I don't call to wish her a happy one."

Bishop almost smiled. "You got it, Sarge." he replied, then headed out of the briefing room to gather up his gear.

Now

No matter how many times it happened, and it had happened enough times for him to stop counting, Bishop never could quite get over the view from the inside of his Pod as it plummeted through the atmosphere of a planet. He'd tried to explain the experience to some civvies before, even showed them an unauthorized video he'd taken from inside once, but no one besides another Helljumper had ever been able to truly appreciate the art of it.

He stood, strapped into the pod, his weapons locked into the racks on his left, while his medical gear was latched to the bulkhead on his right. As the window in front of him started flashing red from the heat, he turned his gaze on to the two vid monitors on either side of it. One showed a real-time feed from the inside of SSgt Scarlatti's pod, while the other showed a feed from the Platoon Leaders.

Sometimes they'd be giving last minute instructions during the insertion, but that wasn't needed today, so instead, the Helljumpers Anthem was free to blare through the speakers in all its glory. That suited Bishop just fine. Nothing got him ready for the combat zone quite like the Anthem.

Before he knew it, his shoot deployed... Shortly after that his descent came to a bone jarring halt. And that was that. It was game time now. SSgt Scarlatti's voice came in over Team 3's frequency, and the Team reported their status and landing coordinates in sequence. When they were finished and Veronica had inputted them, way-points showed up on the overlay of the map, each indicating its respective Team member. The final way-point was their Rally Point.

Bishop took a moment to examine his position, and the likely path from there to the RP, then he hit the release on his HEV and the hatch dropped open. Garrison stepped out of the pod and turned around, first drawing his sidearm and latching it onto a hard-point on his chest, before reaching in and securing his Ruck Sack. Corpsmen were supposed to carry USNC Aide-bags, Tan colored bags with a big red cross on them denoting them as Medics. They were also supposed to have the same red on white cross on their left shoulder armor and helmet. Garrison didn't have any of that. He stored his medical gear in a standard issue ODST hard-case rucksack, and he'd forceably removed the crosses from his armor. The young man saw no point to charging into combat with a bright red target to make the Covvie's jobs that much easier.

After he'd secured the ruck onto his back he reached in one final time and drew out his MA37 ICWS. He preferred the MA37 over some of the bulkier MA5 variants, but never had felt all that comfortable carrying the SMG that so many ODST's chose. Of course, sometimes he didn't have a choice because sometimes their mission called for the need of silenced firepower, but he just didn't like what the SMG forfeited in stopping power. Bishop cradled the MA37 in the low-ready and started off in the direction indicated by his HUD. The map didn't really do the terrain justice and he found himself cursing whomever called this rock home as he fought his way through the densest jungle he'd ever had the misfortune of setting foot in.
"Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point." - C. S. Lewis

"And for one last instance, I'm Human again." - Sergeant Ghost

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Re: Halo: First into Hell

Post by Mandalore_The_Uniter » Wed Sep 08, 2010 7:16 pm

Drops freaked Ellen out, no two ways about it, maybe it was because she was 18 when she had her first drop. Ellen's first drop was a horrid failure, she could actively remember how each of her squad members was destroyed by Covie AA, which resulted in a Sole Servivor situation for Ellen herself, and she made sure that the Covie's paid for what they did to her team. The UNSC was desperate enough for Talented ODSTs that they waived the Psyc eval, in retrospect that may have not been a good idea. Ellen shook the thoughts out of her head, placing a hand on her Special Recon Helmet to try and keep her mind on the Present. Ellen felt the Landing, she went down on a Beach, and Busted open the Door of the Drop Pod.

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Re: Halo: First into Hell

Post by Halcyon508 » Thu Sep 09, 2010 3:44 pm

Team Six, Three, and One were meeting in a large clearing. Each team assigned a two of their own to help form a perimeter to warn them of incoming covenant. Gunnery Sergeant Kozlow of Team One was a stern man. “First Sergeant Crow.” He said getting the older man’s attention.

“Yes Gunny?” First Sergeant Samuel Crow was a large man with graying hair, not that you could see it under the mask. He was a myth and a legend among ODST’s. He had survived more combat against the covenant than any other ground pounder in all of humanity. “What is it?”

“I can’t help but notice that you’re team is missing a soldier.” Kozlow said softly into his mic as if he was trying not to be heard by potential covenant.

“Yes yes.” First Sergeant Crow replied. “He said he’d make it on time.”

“I don’t know how.” Kozlow replied looking at the youths map location. “There is no way he’s humping it across that terrain that quickly.”

With a bit of a grumpy smirk under his mask he then replied, “Don’t worry your head about it. He’ll be here.”

Veronica glanced down at her weapon momentarily before she turned her attention on the other two team leaders. The SSgt had to smirk a bit as she watched Kozlow and Crow jockey around for figurative supremacy, using the wayward jumper as currency.

"Sounds like you two have your panties in a bunch." She chimed in, glancing at the map overlay herself before rotating to face the First Sergeant. "Doesn't look like your new guy's cutting the mustard, Top."

Sergeant Crow smirked a bit. “I don’t know about mustard, but I like that kid.” He said. “I doubt he’d let me down.”

“Just because you like someone doesn’t mean they won’t let you down.” Kozlow replied.

“You just have bad judgment, and two ex-wives prove that.”

The shoulders of Veronica's armor shook slightly as she stifled some laughter at the comment. "You know I don't take sides, but he's got you there, Miroslav. Your marriages have been almost more lethal than our combat operations." She ignored the scoff from his direction then continued. "Assuming your boy gets here like you're so sure he will and we won't have to send out a team to retrieve him, whats our next play, Top?" she asked.

“We can’t head straight for the objective.” He said staring at the map. “They can see these pods, but they don’t know why we are here, we shouldn’t give them any clues.” Hovering his finger over the topographical map he then said. “Our group is going to get to this ridge overlooking the eastern sector of their base.” His finger zigzagged through the jungle from the ridge to his position. “We’ll have to try to avoid this stream over here and we know from the Marines Mission reports that there is heavy enemy movement all along our northern flank. We we’ll need to take special care.”

“First Sergeant.” A call came in through the mans helmet. “The new guy just got here.”

“You hear that Kozlow?” Crow said with a smirk. “First round back is on you.”

“What?” Kozlow said.

Crow smirked and winked. “You heard me you lost the best you owe me and all of us a taste.”

“And you owe me two marriages.”

“I’ll get on that when we get back.” He went back to his briefing. “We get to the ridge we observe in addition there is a friendly sniper team out there who will meet us at the position. From there we coordinate with the rest.”

The three team leaders disseminated the plan to their troopers. Crow examined the faces. “Seiger, you’re up front.”

“Aye Sergeant.” Seiger said with a bit of a frown. “Only right since I was late.” He examined the maps until he determined the best way to reach the ridge.

The group of three teams moved for several hours. Every now and again Seiger would see something suspicious and raise his hand stopping the group. He moved with speed and silence rolling into a ditch or disappearing into some underbrush. Each time his suspicion came up empty. Kozlow watched in amazement as the young man disappeared once again. Normally troopers were told not to be too cautious because it would slow down the traveling speed of the unit, but this Seiger however managed to check out every suspicious thing that Kozlow saw, and some things he didn’t, investigate it and get on the move again without slowing their pace.

Crow smirked as he saw Seiger come out of the woods. “Jackals.” He said, “Snipers.” Crow gave him a nod. The reports were accurate. “Four in the woods, plus a small patrol of the little bastards.” He looked at his knife. “I wouldn’t have done anything except this one got the jump on me.”

“How the hell did know they were there?” Kozlow asked.

“Birds.” Seiger replied. “I can hear them to my left and in front of us but over...” he paused, “there no birds singing.”

“Can we avoid them?” Crow asked.

“I think so. The one I gutted I hid in some underbrush.” Seiger replied. “They won’t find him for awhile, if they even look. Most likely they will think that it has gone missing.”

Crow gave a nod. “Makes sense. Reports have our troops go missing for periods of time in the jungle before resurfacing.” What he failed to mention is that much of the time they resurfaced dead. “Alright let’s get a move on.”

The group continued until reaching the ridge line overlooking the enemy supply base. The base was mostly open settled into what used to be a truckstop along one of the jungle roads connecting the mines to the local spaceport. “Good job trooper. We’re early.” Crow said with a bit of pride in his voice.

Around the perimeter was set up a number of metallic purple barricades the covenant were fond of using. They were spaced apart roughly five meters apart. Each one was manned by several alien soldiers. Two floating towers guarded either end of the rounded battle line. The old truckstop had purple crates hidden throughout it holding weapons. “Looks like hundreds of those damn recharging stations.” Crow said staring down. Covenant plasma weapons needed to be recharged after use in a station. In addition to supplying food this base was most likely a trade in point. Spent plasma rifles and pistols being turned in and recharged units are given back. As if on cue to this thought a Spirit dropship lifted off and zoomed away towards another base.

“Methane tents.” Seiger said.

“They could make a nice big red distraction.” Cameron Mitchell said. He was only four years older than Seiger and had only fought in three missions with the ODST’s team three.

“Methane burns blue.” Seiger corrected. The base seemed dead. Sentries were immobile and lax no doubt never expecting an attack so deep into their territory.

“Right, well than, a big blue distraction.” Mitchell said quickly with a smirk under helmet.

“Has merit.” Crow replied. No sooner had the man’s mouth closed than an explosion about two miles to the north rocked the jungle. “What the hell?” The base began to wake up. Like a bee hive hundreds of aliens stirred and lifted up weapons. Crow looked in the direction of the noise. Several more large explosions were heard before a Spirit Dropship lifted off from the base no doubt to respond. “Which team has that sector?” Crow asked examining their map. “No one should be there.”

“What do we do Top?” Seiger asked. “If we don’t’ go now that base will be on full alert, but without support from the other teams.”

“Did everyone record that incident?” Everyone gave a nod. “Then we go, this is our only shot. Team One will hold back to cover our escape. Three and Six will move into the facility and plant the explosives.” Pulling back the bolt to prime his weapon he then added, “Complete the objective, and don’t get captured.”
Domani, forget domani
Let's live for now and anyhow who needs domani?
~ Frank Sinatra, Forget Domani

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Re: Halo: First into Hell

Post by VagueDurin » Tue Sep 14, 2010 8:52 am

“Then we go, this is our only shot. Team One will hold back to cover our escape. Three and Six will move into the facility and plant the explosives.” Pulling back the bolt to prime his weapon he then added, “Complete the objective, and don’t get captured.”

So that was that... The First Sergeant and Veronica had a quick meeting to determine sphere's of responsibility for their respective teams, and then they split into proper groups. Veronica pulled her Team 3 aside and knelt down in front of the horseshoe before starting her brief.

The SSgt drew her combat knife from its hard point on her left bicep and used its point to stencil out a diagram of their objective. She tossed a handful of small rocks down onto the dirt and then arranged them into a rough representation of their targets.

"Team Six will be handling all the targets to the west of this position. We'll be handling all the targets to the east." She then pointed at a twig to the back of the makeshift sand table. "Team One will be covering us from the rear. We haven't made contact with the sniper team yet so we can't count on having their support, but don't be surprised if they come to the party fashionably late. I'll be leading Alpha line, we'll be providing fire support. Rutherford you're Bravo lead, your responsible for getting every last one of those explosives planted and primed for the show." She waited a moment for acknowledgement before continuing. "Bishop you'll fall into Alpha team... and... well just do what you do. Alright, I want a LACE report, check each other’s equipment get your minds right. We go live in two mikes."

She got a handful of Oorah's in response, before re-sheathing her knife and making her way to the brush line to observe the enemies’ movements while the rest of her team prepared for operations...

The LACE Reports came in all green, of course. They had yet to contact the enemy, and unlike the standard Marine's ODST's didn't manage to just simply lose equipment or ammunition while they humped over terrain. Veronica took one last look over her team and then she double-checked her rifle. It was time...


Visor's had gone opaque, weapons were held at the high-ready, heads were on swivels. Slightly over a dozen black-and-gray clad Orbital Drop Shock Troopers cautiously spread their way out in the underbrush as they approached the enemies’ front lines.

Veronica could see the confusion apparent in the Covenant battle ranks. Whatever that explosion was, and whoever had set it off may have wrecked the Hell jumpers initial plan of attack... But as far as diversions went she was hard-pressed to think of a better one at this point. The majority of the alien soldiers were busy either staring at the pluming clouds of smoke, or badgering their neighbors and superiors for explanations as to what was going on.

Her Alpha line lead the way for Team 3 and was about to cross the threshold into the open kill zone of the Covvie barricade. She reported that they were in position and her team halted under cover. Now she waited for the First Sergeant to give the go, their initial attack had to be seamless. It was only a handful of seconds later when his gruff voice cut across the radio.

"Open Fire."

And then it was war. Veronica and Cameron Mitchell both tossed out a live grenade before ducking back down and waiting. Two seconds later, the fragmentation grenades detonated, Team Six also added a few to the fray and a handful of deafening explosions sent lethal shrapnel spiraling in every direction.

An instant later, ODST's were sprinting from cover, rifles spitting out round after round with deadly precision. Once the very immediate threat of the Sentries had been taken care of, Alpha line ducked under the cover of the barricades and began to fire on targets of opportunity as Bravo line brought up the rear. They still had at least a half a minute before the enemy encampment would manage to understand the situation and rally a proper defense. They had to capitalize on that time.

Once Bravo line had reached the barricades, they took over the cover fire responsibilities and Alpha line advanced. Utilizing short sprints from cover to cover, the troopers spread out, raining down lead on any covenant soldier that got in the way as they pushed their way towards the nearest of the designated explosives targets...
"Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point." - C. S. Lewis

"And for one last instance, I'm Human again." - Sergeant Ghost

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Re: Halo: First into Hell

Post by Pryde » Thu Sep 16, 2010 10:59 pm

"Bogey on your six, Bravo Three."

"I can't shake him!"

"Break right, Bravo Three, I got visual!"

"It's too late, he's... Aaaah!"

Captain Elena Connor, commander of the UNSC Carrier Cradle of Serenity, ground her teeth together as she listened to the chatter of her pilots. She hated this part of the operation, there was nothing she could do to help her people once the fighting had started. Pushing those thoughts aside she turned her attention back to the Covenant Cruiser bearing down on them. "Hard to port, Ensign Hicks, bring our starboard Archer bays online and target that Cruiser."

There was a moment of pause and then. "I've got a firing solution, Ma'am."

Elena nodded, "Fire."

Streaks of missiles filled the intervening space between the two ships and exploded all along the enemy Cruiser's shields. The missiles were followed by weapons fire from the two remaining UNSC Frigates, Aegis Fate and Andraste. The two MAC rounds punched through the Covenant shields which were weakened by the Archer missiles fired from the Serenity and penetrated the ship's hull. Despite suffering severe damage the ship was still operational and continued to fire back at the Serenity.

"Brace for impact," Elena shouted just before charged plasma particles exploded along the ship's hull. Elena was thrown into the console in front of her and somehow she managed to hold on to avoid being thrown off her feet. As she fought to pull herself up she turned to the ship's A.I., "Sierra, damage report!"

"Hull breaches on decks five and six and I'm getting reports of fire on deck nine," the A.I. reported.

"Dispatch fire control teams to deck nine and roll the ship over, I don't want to give the Covenant another chance to hit us where we're hurt."

"Aye, aye, Captain, rolling us over."

"Ensign! Continue firing on that ship!" She was getting tired of these things not dying when they were supposed to. She had four ships pounding this thing into oblivion and they'd already lost one while two more were badly damaged. The Aegis Fate and Andraste were going to need a complete refit after this.

More rounds were exchanged between the three ships and the Serenity was once again rocked from the impact. The Covenant ship, on the other hand, handled it far worse. More breaches were opened up along its hull and its commander had decided he'd had enough. The cruiser turned tail and started to flee. "They're bugging out, Captain," one of her bridge crew reported, "Andraste and Aegis Fate are requesting permission to pursue."

"Negative," Elena told him, "order them to mop up the remaining Covenant fighters and rendezvous with the fleet then patch me through to Admiral Cain."

There was a flurry of activity while the coms officer carried out her orders. A moment later Admiral Cain's image dominated the bridge. "Admiral, this is Serenity Actual. The payload's been dropped and the Covenant cruiser is in full retreat. Estimate fifteen minutes to rendezvous with the UNSC fleet."

"Belay that, Captain," a woman's voice suddenly interrupted. Elena turned around to see Doctor Amanda Hart approaching her and resisted the urge to roll her eyes.

"Doctor Hart, it's a pleasure to have you on my bridge... Again."

Amanda ignored the woman's tone and stood in full view of the holographic projection of Admiral Cain. "You have your orders, Captain, you are to hold position here and observe our ODST teams on the surface of Prometheus."

"With all due respect, Doctor, that cruiser knows we're here and if he comes back with friends we'll be sitting ducks."

"Then you shouldn't have let it go," Amanda said, looking at her pointedly.

Again Elena ground her teeth, her hands balling into fists. She loathed this woman, the Doctor was a veritable genius but she was younger than even her. Still, that didn't stop her from talking as though she were Elena's superior officer, which was a completely ridiculous notion. ONI representative or not she was still a civilian and no civilian had command authority over ranking military personnel.

"The Covenant cruiser was damaged but it could still put up a fight. I was not about to sacrifice any more ships to put it down for good."

"Regardless of the situation, Captain Connor, you know full well that as long as Subject Zero is assigned to your command you belong to ONI. That means you will follow my orders and the orders of my superiors and hold your position. This discussion is non-negotiable."

Elena forced herself to turn away, what she wouldn't give to slug that girl right now. "Holding position, Sir," she told the Admiral, "We'll contact you when we have a status report from our ODST teams deployed on the planet. Serenity Actual out."

Then she broke off contact with the Admiral and turned to look at Amanda. "We won't have long before that cruiser comes back and if that happens he won't be alone. You just signed our death warrants by ordering us to hold here."

"Believe me, Captain, it won't come to that," Amanda said simply as she moved to the fore of the bridge and stared out at the planet of Prometheus. Somewhere on that planet's surface a certain ODST was engaged with the Covenant and that ODST's very survival was both her blessing and her curse...

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