1/21/2009 6:24:46 AM PermalinkNice to see someone else going for the first person approach. Nicely written, although your range of volcabulary could be a little wider. I shall put this in my fan-fic data base.
1/21/2009 3:59:08 AM Permalink[u] Part II: First Blood [/u] I can remember very little from the time I left the briefing room to the time The Aegis arrived in the Nexan system. At some point before we left Earth, Bravo Team was introduced to Alpha Squad; under the command of Colonel Arthur Keyes. Major Hodson informed us all that Alpha was a crack assault team and that we would be working together on operation winter storm. Although cooperation is something strongly encouraged by the UNSC, I was apprehensive of this new squad. Bravo was used to operating without interference and the last thing we needed on a high risk mission was a new squad to deal with. But despite protests from several soldiers (on both sides), Alpha and Bravo became a single unit. Yet after several days of being aboard The Aegis we began to get along. Or as Dave so eloquently put it, “We’re either going to be hugging each other or tearing each others head off by the end of this.” As far as I know no one tried to hug or rip heads off, at least not when Major Hodson or Colonel Keyes were around. Despite my initial fears the ten selected members of Alpha squad did seem able to hold their own in a fire fight. Unbeknown to me at the time, Alpha’s prescience on the mission might have very well saved countless lives. On the sixth day out from Earth we arrived in the Nexan system. The system itself was a collection of about four dozen moons orbiting a massive gas giant, which a soldier by the name of Hammish Gibbs informed me had once been a great covenant colony, which had subsequently been destroyed when two smaller planets collided to form the gas giant. After a further day we came in orbit around a small moon, about a third the size of Earth’s natural satellite. A summons came soon after for Alpha and Bravo team members to assemble in the ships briefing area. The Aegis was a small ship, favouring speed over firepower, so it didn’t take long for us to be assembled. I remember Major Hodson beginning the speech. “As I am sure most of you are aware, we recently established an orbit around Shak’ta, the moon that the Fortain camp is based on. Now for this operation we are going to split into three teams of ten. Team 1 will be made up of five Alpha squad and five Bravo squad members. Team 2 likewise. Team 3 on the other hand will have the remaining Bravo team members in it. I know that some of you may not be entirely happy with the decision to rearrange squads but there is reason in our madness. Teams 1 and 2 will be leading the assault on Fortain, so they will need the assault skills that Alpha squad posses.” I looked over at Dave and saw that he was not entirely settled. From experience I knew that Dave disliked running missions with other groups, and now he’d been told that he was going to have to work with Alpha during the raid. The briefing continued quite uneventfully. Although I won’t record exactly what transpired, I will briefly mention some of the important decisions that Major Hodson and Colonel Keyes came to. Teams 1 and 2 were going to lead the assault, whilst team 3 would remain on the surface until called for; or to prevent any elites from escaping. Dave and I were put in team 2, under Colonel Keyes’ command. Major Hodson took command of Team 1 and Hammish Gibbs was given command of Team 3. We would drop in a canyon adjacent to the camps back entrance. Intelligence indicated that this entrance was only lightly guarded by a few small patrols. Once in the facility, Team 1 was to head to the prison blocks while our team was to head towards the control room. Once the majority of the guard had been eliminated we were to contact The Aegis, which in turn would communicate with the waiting transport ships. In theory it seemed so easy. Thirty of the UNSC’s best soldiers assaulting a poorly defended POW camp in the middle of nowhere. During the final stages of the briefing I realised why I had been dragged along on winter storm. The Major was hoping that we would be able to access the covenant computer network from the camps control room. This would enable us to find out more about those being kept at the camp. When the briefing was over Dave came up to me. “Look Ben, I’ve got a bad feeling about this mission. Don’t ask me why but it doesn’t seem right. That briefing just made me even more nervous.” I merely nodded at him and walked to the armoury. Once in there I received my armour, assault rifle, magnum and two frag grenades. The armoury technician informed me that Major Hodson had forbidden anyone to give me a battle rifle because there was no way I would be able to aim with it. At least with the assault rifle I could pull the trigger and spray bullets into the covenant. I simply laughed. It was typical of the Major to send ahead orders such as not allowing me to have certain weapons. He did however permit me to have grenades, which was an improvement. * * * It was cold, very cold. That’s one of the things that sticks in my mind about the moon. All around me I could see an expanse of white snow, and the occasional glare of a rifle scope as it reflected the light from the red giant star at the centre of the Nexan system. For about an hour our squad walked through the barren tundra. Occasionally we came across an artificially dug cave or a small checkpoint station. When we saw a small mounted patrol on ghosts speed towards us it took less than a few seconds for three soldiers to pull out their battle rifles and take out the ghost pilots. It was then only a small task to dispatch the disorientated grunts and jackals that took up the rear. When we reached a small cave with a large wall running its length we stopped. Major Hodson signalled for five men from team 1 to enter the nearby guard station. About five minutes later a section of the wall separated and the men exited the station. One of them had a small purple blood stain on his left arm. “Alright then,” Major Hodson had said “The entrance to the camp is in this next valley. When we reach the entrance and neutralise the guards I want half of team 3 to return to this outpost. The remainder should scatter themselves around the valley. Ensure you set up relay beacons so those inside the complex can communicate with The Aegis. Also scout around and neutralise any checkpoints within the valley.” With that Major Hodson advanced through the wall and out into the valley. I followed team 2, taking up the rear. Dave was somewhere in front of me. He often took point on the missions that I went on with him. The valley looked decidedly different than the rest of the tundra. A line of cliffs seemed to encircle it, isolating the area. At points on these cliffs were large reflective panels, which Major Hodson said were used to trap solar energy and power the underground instillation. The entrance itself was cut into the side of the mountains. There was only one apparent entrance, which was blocked by a shield and defended by about two dozen elites, jackals, grunts and several hunters. It was now that Alpha squad proved their worth. Two members of the squad rested rocket launchers on their shoulders; aimed, and fired. The screaming projectiles impacted straight into the hunters and a group of grunts. The surviving covenant only had enough time to register what had happened before two more rockets hurtled into their midst. I then noticed that about four men had broken off from the main group and had taken up positions on a nearby ridge. They now sniped the remaining elites, as well as those that were scrambling towards ghosts and a wraith tank. Whilst the snipers cut down anyone trying to escape, the remaining six members of alpha squad advanced on the covenant with assault rifles, battle rifles, shotguns and smg’s. Within less than two minutes, the supposed ‘back door’ was under human control. As Bravo moved in towards the entrance, I heard Keyes commenting that the covenant hadn’t put up much of a fight. Beside me, Dave nodded and then turned to me, “He’s right you know. I would have expected the covenant to be a bit more vigilant. A force of that size shouldn’t have been wiped out that easily.” “Maybe they were lazy?” I suggested “As General Fullman said, they won’t be expecting an attack on their own soil so to speak.” Deep down though I found that I was agreeing with Dave; it had been too easy. Putting these thoughts out of my mind for a while, I focussed on the shield door. Clambering over a hunter’s body, I manoeuvred myself so that I was facing a control console in the facilities entrance. As I worked on breaking the relatively weak firewall defences, two members of my squad came and covered me. Although some people might think that something like this would be disconcerting and a distraction, I had gotten used to people watching over me as I worked. Suddenly from a parapet on the second level of the entrance building a sniper shot came. Turning from the panel I saw a member of Alpha squad fall to the ground, blood spraying from a wound just below his waist. A short volley of return fire ensued and the body of an elite fell from the parapet and landed in the snow just a few feet from where I was working. Following my training I had ignored what had happened and I finished breaking into the security mainframe. A few seconds later the shield door shut down. “The plasma blast ripped through the top of his left leg,” a soldier was saying, “There’s no way he can help us on the mission but we should be able to treat him down here. I will have the med-team on The Aegis standby just in case. Team 3 then began to slowly file away from us, back to their predetermined positions around the valley. The wounded soldier was also taken with them. We were now alone. Just before I entered Camp Fortain I remember looking back at the body of the elite sniper and wandering if we would soon be joining him in death.
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