Damn… that was close
“Helljumper, helljumper, where you been? Feet first into hell then back again! When I die please bury me deep! Fix my MA5 down by my feet!”
— ODST Cadence
Michael rode down on an express elevator to hell. The orbital drop pod shook roughly as it entered the planet’s atmosphere. Through the pod view window, he could see the heat from re-entry melt away the outer protective layer of the drop pod. From the pod’s sensor displays, and his suit sensors everything was looking good so far. The IFF tags for the other pods were coming in clean on his helmet display.
When the pods hit the three thousand foot mark, drag chutes deployed to begin deceleration. Michael’s pod bounced hard as the chute bled off speed. He knew it was only moments before he landed.
This is where the fun begins, Michael thought as the drop pod slowed and stabilized.
Out the pod’s view window, he saw white bursts of light coming up from the ground headed in his direction. He recognized the bursts as fire from plasma gun turrets deployed to defend the installation. There wasn’t much of a worry as the chances of being hit at this distance were small, but then chance and luck always come into play on the battlefield. The IFF tag of one of the ammo drop pods going dark on Michael’s helmet display demonstrated this.
Damn it! Well… Better the ammo pod than me, he thought.
The altimeter counting down the distance to landing brought his thoughts back into focus. As the altitude decreased, the objective grew bigger with details of the structure becoming clearer.
The installation was larger than Michael expected for something classified as a secondary target. It was a large sized structure with a two story base. In the middle of the base rose a spire, by Michael’s estimation, climbing at least two hundred meters into the sky. At the top, a shimmering energy shield appearing to emanate from the top of the spire, flowed outward and downward to cover and protect the whole installation.
Michael noted the installation’s position and landmarks, orienting himself to what he’d studied from the orbital maps. The drop pod’s braking rockets firing and the pod slowing interrupted his thoughts. This meant the pod was only fifty meters from landing and barely gave him time to think before the pod hit the ground with a jarring thump. The pod’s onboard computer registered the landing and popped the pod’s door. Michael leapt out into the battle.
Michael jumped from the pod, moving to take cover behind some boulders nearby. IFF tags flashed on his helmet display showing the locations of the other drop pods. There was a sigh of relief, seeing he hadn’t lost any more pods to ground fire. It appeared as if the surviving pods landed in their targeted landing areas.
Taking advantage of the cover, Michael did a quick check of his weapons. As always, he was carrying his trusty MA5 assault rifle. For this mission, he’d decided on carrying a BR85 battle rifle as his secondary weapon. He expected this battle being more of a ranged encounter and the BR85 was his favorite weapon for reaching out and touching the enemy. Along with those weapons, he was carrying the standard four fragmentation grenades. To take out the installation’s communication center, he was carrying a standard demolition “blastpak” charge.
Michael could only carry so much ammo, yet knowing he would encounter resistance he’d planned for this. The four surviving ammo drop pods carried extra ammo for his MA5 and BR85 along with extra grenades and blastpak demolition charges. To give him heavier firepower, he’d also packed a M19 rocket launcher with extra rockets in each pod. It looked like he would need the extra firepower, noting the gun turrets and the large group of Grunts, Jackals and Elites along with some Brutes swarming around the installation.
That’s a lot of angry Covenant for this being just a lowly secondary installation…
He took a moment to study–with the help of his augmented eyesight and helmet optics–the installation and get the layout of its defenses. The plasma gun turrets would pose a problem as he checked the lay of the land to figure out the best way to approach the installation. There wasn’t much in the way of tree cover around the installation as the area was barren from earlier fighting. Still, there were low hills, lots of rocks and boulders along with plenty of other debris that would afford him cover.
During this time the Covenant weren’t idle as they organized and rallied their troops to meet this attack. His helmet’s motion sensor display was filling with red hostile targets moving towards him. Out of reflex, he checked his MA5 again.
Time to go, he thought, sprinting from cover towards the installation.
His speed along with moving in a zig-zag pattern made it difficult for the enemy to target him at long range as the enemy fired at him. A large group of Covenant soldiers–at least fifteen Grunts–advanced on him, waving their weapons in anger and firing the occasional shot in his direction. Most of the Grunts appeared to be carrying plasma pistols, but Michael noted a couple of fuel rod launchers amongst the group. That kind of firepower made them more dangerous.
Michael dropped behind a pile of rocks to take on this group of Grunts. In one smooth movement, he swapped his assault rifle for the battle rifle on his back. He zoomed the BR85′s scope on his first target... a Grunt carrying a fuel rod launcher. A three round burst from the battle rifle exploded the Grunt’s head, sending a spray of light blue mist everywhere. This caught the attention of the other Grunts, sending them into a panic spreading out in all directions looking for cover.
Michael picked out his next target, leading his aim on another fuel rod launcher armed Grunt running for cover. He fired another burst, this time aiming for the target’s center-mass. Two of the shots caught the Grunt in the torso, the third bullet hit the Grunt’s breathing tank rupturing the tank. The rupture ignited the methane gas–that the Grunt’s breathed–causing the tank to explode. The explosion tossed the dead Grunt’s body high into the air.
This carnage caused the surviving Grunts to turn and retreat in panic back towards the installation. There was no hesitation or remorse on Michael’s part as he took aim on the retreating Grunts and picked them off as they ran away. Some may question the morality of shooting in the back, but when fighting aliens bent on the genocide of your race, morality and mercy tends to fall to the wayside.
Michael kept killing the retreating Grunts until the BR85′s ammo counter hit zero. He reloaded the weapon and swapped with his assault rifle before moving forward. His motion sensors warned him of more Covenant as another swarm of red hostile targets approached from his left. To announce their presence, Covenant carbine shots flew past him, hitting the ground and rocks around him. Reflexes and training kicked in as he dove for cover, hitting the ground and rolling back up into a kneeling position, MA5 in firing position. He answered the carbine fire with short bursts from his assault rifle back in their direction.
Michael was trying to draw a bead on the shooters when he caught movement in the distance. Elites and Grunts were moving on one of the “specially configured” drop pods that landed closer to the installation. Other groups of Covenant troops were moving on the other four “special” drop pods. It almost appeared as the groups were in a race to see who would get to their drop pod first.
As a part of his assault plan, Michael got five drop pods configured to land close to the Covenant installation. Explosives rigged with motion sensors to activate on landing filled those pods. Any hostile target coming within ten meters of the pod would detonate the explosives. The drop pods were huge IEDs designed to kill, shred and maim anything in a seventy-five meter kill zone. The Covenant were rushing towards the drop pods, unaware of what was awaiting them.
Michael flashed a predatory smile inside his helmet, They’re about to get a nasty surprise...
The Covenant troops rushing towards the drop pods didn’t think much of the fact that no human soldiers were exiting to fight them. Among most of the Covenant races, especially the Sangheili (Elites) and Jiralhanae (Brutes), they considered the humans as a weak and strange species. If they refused to accept battle and cower inside their craft, then all the easier to kill or better yet capture to extract information from.
The Sangheili warrior leading the group, only thought of the glory he would achieve in battle. By being the first to capture a human ahead of the other groups he would gain honor and great standing among his fellow warriors. As they rushed closer to the drop pod, the Sangheili grinned in anticipation. He got within ten meters of the drop pod…
A satisfied feeling filled Michael as the first of the “special” drop pods exploded. The other pods exploding followed as the other groups of Covenant troops got within range and triggered the motion sensors.
As the explosions subsided, checking from his position Michael estimated the explosions killed or wounded at least ninety-five. Stunned survivors milled around the scenes of carnage unsure of what to do. The troops firing on Michael hesitated–their fire slackening or stopping–as the carnage and destruction stunned them as well.
Michael took the hesitation as his cue. Using the enemy’s distraction, he sprinted–using his augmentations to full advantage–towards where the Jackals were firing from. The Jackals didn’t recover in time as Michael closed the distance and was in their position, shredding them with a long burst from his MA5. Without a pause, Michael was moving again... advancing towards the installation.
Seconds seemed like minutes to the Covenant troops watching their fellow soldiers die at the hands of the human. The plasma turret gunners recovered from their shock and brought their weapons to bear. They sent out bursts of white hot plasma trying to hit the running human. The Grunts screamed curses toward the human as the damned creature was moving too fast for them to hit.
Major Enkir ’Rolamee was the Sangheili in charge of the defense of this installation. His frustration and anger matched the Unggoys manning the gun turrets. He was observing the unfolding battle from an open platform on the second level of the installation. From there he had a perfect view of the battlefield and watched as a third of his troops died from the exploding drop pods.
It is one of those human demons that attacks us, ’Rolamee thought as hate and contempt surged through him. He tried tracking the human as it moved, avoiding and dodging plasma fire. The Major turned to his faithful and trusted aide, standing beside him, “Minor ’Crolunee, take your troops and kill that human creature immediately!” ’Rolamee barked.
“Yes, Major! I will make it so!” ’Crolunee replied. The Minor quickly left to organize his troops and carry out the Major’s orders.
Michael avoided the plasma fire from the gun turrets as he closed the distance to the installation. He paused behind cover, taking quick glances to confirm the positions of the gun turrets on the second level of the installation. The installation was setup with two entrance ramps on a rough North-South axis. He would have to shift as he moved forward to make it around to one of those entrances. The bad news was that the last seventy-five meters of ground surrounding the installation was open ground with no cover. If he couldn’t neutralize or get rid of the gun turrets, they would ruin his day when he got there.
Looking again, he detected movement on the second level and by the entrance facing him. It didn’t take a genius to realize that the Covenant was gathering another force to sortie out and try to kill him. Michael switched to his battle rifle, using the scope to zoom in on one of the gun turrets. It was at extreme range, but he let loose with several bursts, noting with satisfaction as the gunner slumped in the turret seat. He watched as other Grunts, directed by an Elite, pulled then dead gunner from the turret and another Grunt manned the gun.
I’m going to need something heavier… Plus, could use some extra ammo…
Michael lined up the IFF tag for the nearest drop pod loaded with ammo. The pod’s location would force him to go back at least one hundred meters and seventy-five meters to his left. His attention turned back to the installation as swarms of Covenant troops exited, moving towards him.
Seems like I finally managed to piss them off enough, Michael smirked, noting the numbers of Grunts, Brutes and Elites.
Michael pulled and armed a frag grenade. With his augmented strength he could throw a grenade farther than a normal human. He took advantage of that, calculating his toss to land in front of the attacking enemy troops. The grenade barley left his hand before he pulled, armed and tossed a second grenade to land close to the first one. As soon as the second grenade was away, he was sprinting for the ammo drop pod. Two explosions went off in succession and his motion sensors now displayed fewer red hostile targets.
“Curse you demon!” ’Rolamee howled as two quick explosions tore into the front ranks of his attacking force, causing them to halt to reorganize before continuing their advance. The Unggoy suffered the most from the explosions, but that was what they were there for. They were expendable and used to soak up the enemy’s fire... no matter how many died.
The Major watched as the human now seemed to be retreating from the installation and his troops, “Coward! The demon runs away and won’t stand and fight!” he sneered. He suddenly realized the human was moving to another drop pod. He’d assumed the remaining pods would explode like the other ones, but was surprised when the human opened the pod and retrieved equipment.
“Concentrate your fire on that drop pod!” ’Rolamee yelled at his turret gunners at the realization the other pods carried equipment and supplies. The gunners jumped to obey their commander, turning their guns on the drop pod. Unfortunately, the human was fast, taking what it wanted and was away from the pod as the gunners belatedly brought fire to bear on the pod
’Rolamee felt some satisfaction watching the drop pod go up in a huge explosion, depriving his enemy of some supplies. The satisfaction faded knowing the human demon was still out there.
Michael retrieved spare ammo for his MA5 and BR85 along with some grenades before the Covenant could bring the drop pod under fire. He got clear as plasma fire hit the pod, causing it to go up in a huge explosion, showering him with debris.
“Damn, that was close,” he muttered, checking what he’d recovered from the pod.
As a bonus, he’d retrieved a M19 rocket launcher–loaded–along with four spare rockets. Another predatory smile flashed as he considered the rocket launcher. He now had the something heavier he’d wanted.
Not wanting to waste the weapon, popping out of cover, he hefted the rocket launcher to his shoulder. Aiming towards the installation, he could see the plasma gun turrets on the second level through the launcher’s targeting scope. The detail was clear as he made out the Grunts, manning the guns, swinging their turrets to fire on him. He placed the red dot of the aiming reticle on the center of a gun turret... and pulled the launcher’s trigger.
A huge whoosh along with a jet of flame from the rear of the rocket launcher announced the firing. The launcher shuddered in recoil, but Michael’s strength minimized it. He lowered the launcher to watch as the rocket streaked towards its target. The shot was true as the rocket hit the gun turret dead on. A sense of extreme self-satisfaction filled him as the rocket hit the Covenant gun turret dead on. A huge explosion erupted on the installation, taking out the gun turret, the gunner and as a bonus killing several Grunts standing beside the turret.
By this time, the attacking Covenant troops had recovered and resumed their advance. Michael noted this on his motion sensors as the red icons closed on him. He glanced from his cover and saw the enemy were all in the open, rushing towards his position.
Seems like overkill… But, what the hell…
He popped out of cover. Bursts of plasma from hand weapons flew past him. He ignored the fire as he used a Brute in the middle of the attacking aliens as his aiming point. He led the target, anticipating where the Brute was going to be... he pulled the trigger.
As soon the rocket launched, Michael ducked back into cover and reloaded the weapon. This time he didn’t watch, but heard the explosion. His motion sensors showed far fewer enemies now. With the launcher reloaded, he popped up again and targeted another gun turret on the installation. Another rocket roared towards a target on the Covenant installation...
The Sangheili Major howled in rage at the destruction of the gun turret and his attacking soldiers. Casualties among the troops was heavy with most of them down except for a few lucky Sangheili warriors.
’Rolamee was considering his next moves when a plume of smoke and flame caught his attention. Time slowed to a crawl as he realized he was standing next to a gun turret and a human rocket was targeting it. Everything moved in slow motion as the rocket streaked towards the gun turret. The panicked shouts from the Unggoy gunner filled the Major’s ears as the gunner struggled to get out of the turret seat. Survival instincts kicked in as ’Rolamee reacted and dove away from the gun turret, hoping he cleared the blast radius.
Michael didn’t wait for the rocket to hit before targeting another gun turret. By the time the next turret exploded, he’d taken out enough of the gun turrets to give him a hole to get through to the installation. His motion sensors warned him of approaching enemy troops. Risking a peek, he caught sight of several Elites that survived. They spotted him, firing their plasma rifles. The shots were off as he ducked into cover, but they were close enough his suit sensors registered the heat from the near misses.
Michael popped up and fired several bursts from his battle rifle. He concentrated fire on one Elite trying to put it down. A glowing object, flying towards him, caught his attention.
In a blindingly fast movement, Michael dived out of the way of the incoming plasma grenade. The grenade missed “sticking” him, but the explosion was enough to shake him as the explosion showered him with debris. Instincts and training kicked in as Michael recovered, turning to face the direction from where the grenade came from. He fired multiple bursts, catching a charging Elite in the head, killing it.
“Enough of this!” Michael muttered, switching back to his MA5. He rushed the two remaining Elites. It was a long fifty meters separating him and the Elites as he sprinted to cover the gap while firing a long burst from his assault rifle. The Elites didn’t back down or retreat as they met the charging human with plasma rifle fire. Only a Spartan could survive this type of charge as Michael’s training and reflexes allowed him to dodge the bursts of plasma fire. Even then a few of the shots hit him, but the reflective armor on his battle armor shrugged off the glancing hits. He suffered no injury or damage other than scorched marks on the armor where the plasma hit.
Michael fired another long burst from his MA5 and then pulled a frag grenade. He armed and tossed it at the Elites, diving for cover. The Elites didn’t have time to react, and the grenade exploded in front of them, sending both to the ground, seriously wounded.
Reloading his weapon as he came out of cover, Michael pushed on towards the installation. He passed by the two wounded Elites, there was no hesitation as he fired a quick burst into each of their heads. The way was now clear to one of the entrance ramps of the installation.
At the entrance ramp, Michael paused to check his motion sensors and listen for any threats. The sensors indicated there was still a lot of hostiles inside. A smirk flashed on his face as his audio sensors picked up the panicked voices of Grunts. Shouts of “The demon is here!” came from inside the installation.
Despite the apparent panic that was gripping the remaining defenders this was not the time to get cocky or complacent. Michael did a quick ammo check, noting he had three spare magazines for his MA5 after inserting a fresh magazine. He would prefer to use the MA5 for close-quarters fighting, but he still had the BR85–with plenty of ammo–and three grenades to clear out the defenders.
The Covenant used a standardized layout for their installations and bases and by this point of the war, the UNSC was familiar with them. Michael took a moment to recall the layout for this type of installation from memory. Normally, the first two levels should be equipment, storage and power areas. The communication area–which was his target–and shield control area would be at the top of the control spire. To get to the top, he would need to get to the second level. There should be a gravity lift there that would take him up to the top of the spire. Michael took a deep breath and moved up the ramp into the installation.
He encountered light resistance moving through the bottom levels of the installation. Most of the Grunts were panicking unable to put up much of a fight. Those that stood and fought, died. There were a few hardcore Grunt defenders who charged Michael holding live plasma grenades. He dispatched those “suicide bombers” with no damage or injury.
The lower levels of the installation were clear, with the enemy dead or having fled, as Michael reached the gravity lift platform. The streaming light of the gravity lift reflected off his visor as it flowed up the spire like a waterfall. Michael gazed upwards, towards his final objective.
Who Dares Wins…
He stepped into the flowing light of the gravity lift, feeling himself being lifted off the ground. He was flying upwards engulfed by the stream of light, moving towards the top of the spire. As the seconds ticked by, Michael kept an eye on his motion sensors. As he neared the top, red hostiles popped up on the sensor display.
The gravity lift propelled him onto the platform at the top of the spire, and into a group of Grunts…
Michael landed among a group of a dozen startled Grunts. There was no hesitation as he held down the trigger of his MA5 and sprayed the platform area. Bullets flew everywhere as Grunts screamed, dropping to the ground dead or trying to run away. Michael changed magazines, keeping up the fire. A couple of Grunts escaped the platform area, screaming as they ran further into the spire. Michael checked his motion sensors then proceeded slowly into the spire.
I’m close… I would hate to blow it now after getting this far...
’Rolamee was up on the spire platform, having retreated there after barely escaping the rocket explosion. Shaken by the near miss, anger and frustration filled him. As the defense of the installation collapsed in the face of the human demon’s attack, he tried to figure out some way of stopping this human. He deduced the human’s goals were to take the shield control and communications areas of the installation. He would make his stand in the communications area where he would wait for this Spartan to come to him. Then, he would have his revenge.
The Major monitored the human’s advance through the installation, decimating his troops or driving them off. The Sangheili’s blood boiled knowing a single human was the instrument of all this death and destruction. It wasn’t long before the distinct sound of the human’s weapon–along with screams of the last Unggoy–told him that the human would soon be here.
The demon will be here soon… and I will have my revenge, ’Rolamee thought, trying to keep his anger in check. The sounds of fighting faded, bringing an eerie silence to the platform leaving only the hum of equipment running. ’Rolamee engaged his active camouflage system making himself invisible. The Sangheili gripped the hilt of his plasma sword, his finger caressing the activation button. Anticipation filled the Major as visions of plunging the sword into the human demon danced in his thoughts.
The last two Grunts put up stiff resistance. The scorch marks from their plasma pistols on Michael’s armor would attest to their final stand. Now, silence filled the spire as Michael moved carefully about. He’d eliminated the last of the Covenant defenders, but something was nagging at him. He studied his motion sensors, looking for any further threats.
I thought I had three red hostile targets on my motion sensors before I took out those last two…
It was now time to take out communications, and then he could call in the Marine reinforcements to help hold the installation. He realized the mission hadn’t called for him to take the installation by himself, but the Covenant didn’t really give him a choice. Besides, the Marines would have had it tough flying in against the installation’s defenses if they were still intact.
Michael located the communications area, pausing just outside the entrance. His motion sensors showed no threats, and he strained to pick up anything with his audio sensors, but only heard the hum of equipment in the room. There was nothing between him completing his mission, yet there was still that nagging feeling pulling at him.
Something doesn’t feel right…
Despite the warnings the back of his mind was screaming, he couldn’t sit and wait. The mission and taking out communications pushed him pass this hesitation as he moved into the communications area. He spun, checking corners, leading with his MA5, ready to deal with any threat. There was nothing... except for the background hum of the equipment operating.
With his senses running in overdrive, Michael stepped cautiously further into the room. He reached the center of the room, getting closer to the main communications console.
Come closer demon… Soon your time will end...
’Rolamee’s blood burned with anticipation. He studied the human as it moved further into the communications area. He would strike when it was closer to the communications console.
Time was meaningless as the Major waited. With the human almost past him, now was the time to strike the killing blow. ’Rolamee made his move... coming off the side wall on the right-hand side of the human, planning to sweep around, and come up behind this demon.
As Michael approached the communications console, a shimmer flashed on his motion sensors.
There! Something on my motion sensors… Not a solid contact… Something very close… Almost like an echo… something familiar about it… almost like there was a ghost in here… SHIT!
His eyes went wide as the realization struck home of what was happening. His reflexes kicked in...
’Rolamee swooped in behind his human prey, activating his plasma sword. The plasma sword made its trademark crackling sound as it energized into its deadly double-blade form. A predatory smile filled the Major’s face as he swung his plasma sword at the human, anticipating slicing the human in half. The smile turned to shock as the human demon reacted with blinding speed, turning and stepping into the killing blow, and deflecting the Major’s arm with his weapon.
The Major tried to recover. A brief thought flashed through his head, seeing the human’s weapon fly across the room after deflecting his plasma sword.
The demon is defenseless now! Time to fin—
’Rolamee never finished his thought. The human spun his body in an impossible blinding fast move, at the same time drawing a knife from the scabbard on his left shoulder. The move finished with the human demon driving the knife into the side of the ’Rolamee’s head, killing him instantly.
Michael pulled his combat knife out of the Elite’s head once he was sure the creature was dead. The body fell to the floor with a heavy thud. It was pure instinct, adrenaline, his Spartan augmented reflexes along with a healthy dose of luck that allowed him to survive this close encounter with this Elite. Still keyed up, he scanned for anymore “ghosts”.
It took a long moment before he realized there were no more Covenant. Michael took a deep breath, putting his combat knife back into his shoulder scabbard.
Damn… Lucky on that one…
Michael wasted no more time as he retrieved his MA5 and planted the blastpak charge on the communications console. He set the timer for a forty-five second delay, activated it and exited the area. His next stop was to locate the shield control area and deactivate the installation’s shield. It wasn’t long before a loud explosion erupted, causing the spire to shake and shudder. Once he located the shield control area, he found the main control panel and deactivated the base’s shield.
Michael stared the control room’s window, watching as the energy shield shimmered and loss its integrity. In seconds, the shield dissipated and finally disappeared. Leaving the area, Michael paused at the entrance and pulled out two grenades. He armed both grenades and tossed them towards the main shield control panel before ducking around the corner. Two more explosions caused the spire to shudder slightly. With the installation secured, and communications and shield down, Michael opened a communications channel to report his mission status.
“Command… This is Sierra-113… SITREP… Objective neutralized… I repeat the objective neutralized.”
Static filled the channel, but then a voice cut through the static, “Sierra-113… This is command… Confirmed objective achieved. We have three inbound Pelicans carrying Marines to reinforce and secure the area. ETA… thirty-two minutes.”
“Roger that command… Will hold on-site until reinforcements arrive… I will mark LZ with orange smoke… Repeat orange smoke… Copy that command?”
“Copy that Sierra-113… Confirm orange smoke…” replied the voice on the other end of the communications channel. There was a static filled pause, then the voice spoke again, “Sierra-113… Excellent work.”
“Thanks, command. Sierra-113 out,” Michael replied. He headed back down to the ground level to maintain security over his newly won objective and wait for the Marine reinforcements to arrive.