1930 HOURS, OCTOBER 27, 2552 (MILITARY CALENDAR) \ SOL SYSTEM, “Oscar Two Bravo, Oscar Two Bravo, this is Echo Six Romeo, over.”
PLANET EARTH, UNITED REPUBLIC OF NORTH AMERICA, NEW YORK, NEW YORK
Staff Sergeant Julius “Caesar” Russell had been attempting to establish radio communications with his platoon leader, second lieutenant James Bostic, since he went off the grid during the initial phase of the mission. As he took cover behind the crumbling expanse of concrete that had once been part of office and computer supply building, he waited for several long minutes to pass before he keyed SQUADCOM again, repeating his call, “Oscar Two Bravo, Oscar Two Bravo, this is Echo Six Romeo, do you read, over?”
He was met with static. It had been the same with FLEETCOM and HIGHCOM ever since they’d dropped into New York. So far, the only COMS they had going for them was TEAMCOM. In other words, Caesar and his squad were only able to communicate with each other thanks to the COMS jamming initiated by Covenant forces.
Around him, the other members of Delta Squad scanned their surrounding area, their weapons leveled and their heads on a swivel as they searched for signs of the lieutenant, or anyone else from the failed op, all the while maintaining optimal situational awareness. The Covenant patrol at the next intersection was just like the last three they’d bypassed in the last several hours as they carefully picked their way through the shattered remains of New York.“I’m picking up something,”
Private First Class Spryidon Pyrgos said as he adjusted the dials on the sophisticated, hand-held electronic device, attenuating the static out of the weak signal originating from a nearby building. Glancing up, he gestured toward the crumbling building beyond the intersection of Lexington Avenue and E 51st Street. ”There.”
A nav marker appeared on delta squad’s TACMAP, indicating the Cornell University.
Corporal Ljutimir Cernos turned his SRS99D-S2 AM sniper rifle toward the ruined University, adjusted the bipod on the rubble to stabilize the weapon, and peered through the scope. He carefully dialed the scope in, shifting his sights over the debris for visual confirmation. “Spider, you are sure? I no see the Lieuten… erm… Boss,”
he said in his broken English, thick with a Croatian accent, still unused to calling the Lieutenant “Boss”, as his CO preferred. Although Lucky was no stranger to this war, nor to the ODST for that matter, he was
new to Delta squad. Lucky’s transfer from Charlie Company came shortly after Sergeant Chatur Rakha, Delta’s former sniper, was killed in action during the Battle of Reach.“Well, Lucky,”
interjected Lance Corporal Dieter Koenig, in customary sarcastic fashion, “I’m sure he’s not going to be standing out in the open holding up a sign that says ‘Yoo Hoo! Lucky, it’s me… da Boss man’ and waving his arms at you.”
.“Anyone ever saying to you… you am too much talking,”
Lucky asked as he cast Jaw a contemptuous glare through the de-polarized silvery-blue faceplate of his ODST helmet. “Why do you think we call him ‘Jaw’?”
Lance Corporal Tatiana Alvarez chimed in with a soft chuckle, her MA5D sweeping their more exposed left flank.
Settling into position, Jaw brought his M739 LMG to bear before he glanced back to the squad’s lone female member for a moment. Returning his attention to the intersection ahead of them, he quipped, “Shouldn’t you be… I dunno…” he waved his hand out towards the carnage of buildings before them in haphazard fashion, “…reconnoitering something somewhere, Crush?”
She replied with an amused grin and an air kiss sent in Jaw’s direction.“How you are gettting your calling sign, Crush,”
Lucky asked without pulling his focus from his scope as he continued scanning the building Spider had marked over the squad’s TACCOM. “Yes, Crush please share with Corporal Cernos here how nearly aaall the men - and even some of the ladies - in the 66th MEF seem to have a knack for finding themselves inside your…”
He paused and glanced back to Crush with a smirk on his face,”…quarters?”
There was an almost indiscernibly soft chuckle from Crush as she shifted slightly. She kept the sites of her DMR trained on the Elite, outlined in red in her HUD by her VISR. The Elite was sifting through the rubble of the building half a block from the University; NYPD’s collapsed 17th precinct. ”Keep jawing and you’ll learn first hand exactly why I earned my call sign.”
She gestured towards Jaw’s crotch with an open hand, palm up, and then squeezed air, tightening her hand into a fist and twisting before she yanked her hand back to get her point across.”Oooh, Crush. You dirty, dirty girl,”
he teased, the soft sounds of blowing her a kiss quietly heard over TEAMCOM.“You have no idea, Jaw... and you never will."
Jaw elbowed Lucky with a smug grin on his face. "Ya see that, Lucky? She wants me. It's just a matter of time now before I have on her back, purring like a Guta in heat."
While Jaw and Crush persisted with their banter, Caesar had been scanning the building’s perimeter for thermal signatures and friendly IFF tags. He had also accessed a TACMAP of the local area, including Cornell’s most up to date blueprints. Reaching out a gloved hand, Caesar gave Jaw a firm slap against the back of his helmet. ”Shut the fuck up and act like you belong in this unit.””Feet first into hell then back again,”
Jaw replied with practiced bravado. Crush simply smirked and rolled her eyes at Jaw before giving her full attention to her MA5D and the Elite at the other end of her barrel.
Caesar carefully moved to Spider’s position. Spider was also new to the unit, a rollover from what used to be Alpha squad. Crouching beside him, Caesar placed his hand on the younger Marine’s shoulder, letting the weight of his Galilean
rest upon his lap. ”Spider?””Yeah, Sarge,”
he said triple checking the readings on his equipment, making sure he wasn’t getting random feedback interference that merely mimicked the appropriate signal response. ”It’s a looped signal with lots of static, but I’m definitely getting weak, groundside signals over the UNSC E-Band."”Put it on audio,”
Caesar said, his expression stern.
There was a series of hisses, pops and static, silence, then the loop repeated. ” It’s hard to say with all the interference the Covies are throwing at us, but I think it’s UNSC transponder freqs… standard distress signal.” ”It could be Boss,”
Crush said, following the Elite with her weapon as it moved back to the Covenant checkpoint at the intersection. There were thirteen of them in all, as far as they could see; Three Sangheili , four Kig-Yar, and six Unggoy. Thermals weren’t picking up any other heat signatures outside and, short of going inside, there was no way of knowing for sure what was inside the nearby buildings.”Or it could be a trap,”
Caesar nodded as he studied the situation. The possibility hadn’t escaped him. ”Either way, we’re gonna check it out. Whether it’s Boss or not, there could potentially be someone who needs our help… and that’s what we’re gonna do. So, let’s all stay frosty and do what we do.”
He called up an overview of the area, sending it over the TACCOM as he laid out the plan. ”Crush, I want you and Lucky to move into this building here,”
A nav marker blinked into existence on the HUD over the Sotherby Institute of Art on the corner of Lexington and E 51st, across the street from Cornell. ”Reconnoiter the area surrounding Cornell and mark all hostiles over TACCOM. I want you two to find a sweet spot on one of the upper floors and rain down death and destruction. Crush, assist with your DMR, but you’re main job is to watch Lucky’s back once he gets set up.””You got it Sarge”
she replied crisply as she moved into position next to Lucky, preparing to make the move when the order was given.”Jaw, you run your SAW from here. Spider, you’re going to flank left on that checkpoint,”
another nav marker indicated a spot along Lexington Avenue that ran between Cornell and the office supply building, behind a commuter bus that lay on its side surrounded be several civilian vehicles that could be used for cover. ”This should provide you with sufficient defilade.”
Another nav marker blinked over the Double Tree Hilton Hotel on the opposite side of the intersection. ”I will move with Lucky and Crush to this location, then proceed across Lexington to flank the right side of the checkpoint, here”
. He glanced up to his squad to make sure there no questions. Everyone reviewed the plan, committing it to memory without question. ”We’ll get these fuckers caught in a crossfire and they won’t know which way the attack is coming from or how many of us there are. They’re not going to know what’s hit ‘em. Maintain radio silence until the assault has begun. Give the green light over TACCOM once you’re in position. Take out the Elites first. Lucky, target Spider's first contact, Crush, you target mine. We’ll bring down their shields with burst fire, and then you’ll put a bullet in their brainpans. Jaw… rape these fuckers up the ass with your SAW."”Now you’re talking my language, Sarge,”
Jaw said with a wicked grin, feeding a fresh drum into his M739. "Wait for my signal before we show these assholes how the Delta Demons operate and then we’ll give these bastards some ODST hell… send ‘em off to meet their fucking gods in little pieces. Oohrah?””Oohra,”
came the collective response.
Caesar grabbed Lucky and Spider, looking them both in the eyes. ”Helljumpers in Delta don’t die without permission, understood?””Yes, Sergeant,”
they said in unison.
Lucky thought he saw a hint of a smile on Caesar’s face just before his visor polarized, obscuring his features. ”Alright, move out, Demons,”
Caesar ordered his squad, leading Jaw and Spider from their cover.
Without another word, everyone moved as one; a highly trained, finely tuned killing unit. Lucky and Crush bolted across E 51st Street and disappeared into the building while Spider stalked from his cover to the nav marker in the middle of Lexington Avenue. Caesar waited for Spider to get into position before he followed behind Lucky and Crush, moving through the lobby of the building before he crossed Lexington and slipped into the Hilton.
Lucky and Crush began clearing their way up to the roof while the rest of Delta squad moved into position at the intersection. Satisfied that the building was clear, the two made their way back down a couple of floors where Lucky began to setup a hasty sniper hide for the two of them. Crush secured both entrances into the large, abandoned room with M9 HE Frag grenades attached to tripwires to ensure that no Covenant would get the drop on them while they were busy from their sniper positions, active camouflage or not.
Lucky and Crush’s squad icons flashed green over the squad’s TACCOM, letting the rest of Delta know that they were in position. Jaw yanked back on the charging handle of his M739 LMG, sending the first round into the barrel before flashing his icon green on the TACMAP. Spider flashed his icon green, leveling his Battle Rifle on the Sangheili nearest to him, and then waited for Caesar’s signal.
It was the calm just before the shit-storm of lead and plasma that was soon to follow. Everyone tensed as they awaited Caesar’s signal. Lucky zeroed his sights in on the Sangheili nearest to Spider’s location while Crush targeted the one close to Caesar, both of them aiming for their large heads. Caesar knelt down behind a slab of concrete that used to be part of a wall and shouldered his Battle Rifle, taking aim at the nearest Sangheili.
Somewhere off in the distance there was an explosion, ”probably another element of the op kicking some Covie ass,”
Caesar hoped. The explosion got the attention of the Sangheili and Kig-yar and caused the Unggoy to dance about with nervous excitement.
Caesar calmed his breathing, inhaling slowly and deeply before he exhaled easily. In the pause before he inhaled his next breath, he squeezed the trigger sending a three round burst into the large alien. It’s shields shimmered and faltered for moment and then it’s head exploded as Crush sent the 7.62 X 51mm round racing from her DMR and tearing through Sangheili's weakened shields. It's head exploded like a watermelon, sending a spray of gore washing over the nearby Kig-yar and Unggoy.
At the same instant, Jaw began hosing the checkpoint with armor piercing 7.62 x 51mm, killing two Kig-Yar and three Unggoy and sending the rest scattering for cover. Spider let loose with a three round burst almost right on top of Caesar's, the second Sangheili's shields sparking and glowing. Lucky's round from his sniper rifle nearly tore the Elite in half. The remaining Sangheili roared in defiance, whipping its plasma blade to life as it fell back, regrouping behind thick, concrete barricades. It was obvious they had no idea where the attack was coming from, and so they focused their attention on the more obvious threat; Jaw and his M739. Caesar rushed forward from his cover to a charred Scorpion tank, pressing his back against the ruined armor while Jaw kept them pinned down. On the opposite flank, Spider made his move as well, closing the pincer movement in for the kill.
Jaw's M739 ran dry and he dropped down behind his cover. "I'm empty! Reloading,"
Jaw called out over TEAMCOM. The Sangheili, thinking it had the upper hand now, raised up, a plasma grenade primed in its hand. It reared back to hurl the grenade when Caesar stepped from behind his cover and sent a wall of lead into the Elite's shields. It roared with fury and turned to face the new threat, but before it could toss the grenade, Lucky fired off a shot that penetrated it's shield and severed it's arm at the elbow. The arm fell to the ground at its feet, the grenade still cooking off in its hand. Kig-Yar and Unggoy scampered to get away from the grenade, but it exploded before most of them could affect a get away, sending body parts raining down on the surrounding area. The few Unggoy that did clear the blast radius where quickly gunned down by Caesar and Spider.
Caesar cautiously moved to all the carnage, lifted his helmet briefly, and spat on the Sangheili. "All clear, Delta. Rally on me, on the double."
he called out over TEAMCOM.
Crush slung her DMR across her back, wielding her suppressed MA5D instead. As Lucky folded the bipod and stood from his kneeling position, one of the tripwires triggered, exploding the M9 HE Frag grenade and sending shrapnel into the pair of Sangheili attempting to stealth their way behind the ODSTsl. The concussion flung Lucky into the nearby wall, where he slumped to the floor, the air stolen from his lungs. The active camouflage sizzled and wavered before it failed completely. The leading Sangheili fell to the floor, dead. Its partner snapped it's plasma blade to life and lunged at Crush with a feral roar. "CRUSH! LUCKY!" TALK TO ME,"
Caesar bellowed as he glanced up to the high rise. "Bit busy at the moment, Sarge,"
Came Crush's calm reply just moments before the towering Sangheili plowed into her. The force of the impact sent her MA5D flying from her grasp and soaring through the window, hurling towards the street below where it shattered upon impact."CRUSH,"
Lucky screamed, regaining his composure as she was buried beneath the much larger alien, it's plasma blade reared back for the killing blow. It turned to look at Lucky when he yelled then gave an ominous laugh. Crush was struggling just to breathe beneath the immense weight of her attacker. With one hand she reached up to grab the Sangheili's wrist, no doubt in the hopes of keeping the blade at bay. Her other hand strained to pull her M6S Magnum from it's holster along her thigh, but the alien's leg had her arm pinned just inches away from her sidearm."Lucky! Shoot the son of a bitch,"
she screamed to her squad mate.
Lucky had already brought his MA5D to his shoulder and fired a long string of continuous fire into the creature's face. It's shields sparked and glowed as it shifted to face Lucky, freeing Crush's other arm in the process. It swung it's plasma blade towards Lucky, easily ripping free from Crush's grip. The blade sliced through the weapon like a hot knife through butter. Lucky tossed the ruined assault rifle aside and drew his M6S. "Puny hooman. Now you die,"
the creature growled before laughing once more.
Crush pressed the barrel of her Magnum against the bottom of the Elite's mandibles. "You first, squid face,"
she taunted her assailant just before emptying half a mag into it's head just as Lucky fired off a quick string of rounds into it's face. It collapsed in a heap atop Crush, spilling it's indigo blood all over her."A little help here, Lucky? Get this filthy piece of shit off me!"
Lucky holstered his sidearm and keyed TEAMCOM. "We are being okay, Sergeant. Couple of.... squid faces... are knowing why Crush is getting her calling sign."
Caesar shook his head with amused chuckle. "Poor bastards. Now quit dickin' around and get your assess down here on the the double you two. Delta, ammo check. Police any ammo you can find. We're going inside to find that signal."