Author's Note: Eipok, yeah that was a mix up on my part, I meant to say Elite Ultra rather than Minor.
"We'll have to keep moving. My headset is fried, I think the plasma shot from that tank disabled it" said Foley.
"Probably a short range EMP effect" said Dunn and Foley nodded.
"Come on, we've still got a job to do."
It was eerily quiet. Not just on the street but through the whole city. Granted, the sounds of gunfire still rang out but they were distant and scattered. There were no aircraft in the sky except for Banshee squadrons that darted past in formations like bluebottles. Ramirez felt sick to his stomach, the silence worried him more than if the skies were filled with dogfights and the ground was covered in fire. For all he knew, the latter might be about to happen.
The three soldiers walked close together, eyes watching the skies and the rooftops for the slightest hint of movement. As they headed through the streets all Ramirez could focus on were the bodies. Hundreds of bodies lay scattered all over the streets, some covered in plasma burns, others with spikes sticking into their body and some covered in shrapnel that stuck out in all directions. It was carnage. Wrecked vehicles lay everywhere, piles of rubble stood where entire buildings had once been and what Ramirez couldn't help but notice was that there wasn't a single alien body to be found. Not one. As he looked around, Ramirez noticed a tall apartment building at the end of the road, with a few plasma burns but other than that no damage.
"Sarge, see that apartment over there? We could use that to scout out the area" said Ramirez and Foley looked at the building.
"Alright, let's go" said Foley.
The three soldiers walked slowly, treading over the bodies with their weapons pointing directly in front of them. They reached the apartment and put their backs against the walls before Foley turned and with one kick knocked the door right off its hinges. The three of them burst through into the building as dust was thrown up by the fallen door. They stepped cautiously into the building, with the only sound accompanying them being their footsteps against the carpet. They reached the lobby and found a woman lying dead on the floor, blood gushing from her forehead. Dunn crouched down and checked her pulse. He shook his head once he was done.
"She's gone" he said grimly before standing back up. The three of them were about to head for the stairs when they froze. A sound came up from a doorway near them that led to a room shrouded in darkness. The three of them looked around when it sounded again. It was a raspy, guttural call like a bird. A second identical sound came from the top of the stairs.
"There's something in here with us" said Dunn but Foley shushed him.
"Head for the stairs and be quiet" Foley whispered. The three of them slowly edged towards the steps but the moment Ramirez looked up them, his blood ran cold. There, standing on the top step to face him, stood a Skirmisher. Ramirez had barely a second to yell out before the Skirmisher leapt from the step and pounced at him. It knocked Ramirez to the floor and screeched right in his face showing a beak full of sharp teeth. There was gunfire as several more Skirmishers appeared from almost every other doorway. Ramirez threw out a punch as the Skirmisher lifted a Plasma Pistol at his face. The Skirmisher was hit in the side of the head and fell to the ground but still struggled to try and get up. Ramirez fired a burst from his M4A1 into the Skirmisher's head, killing it. He swung round and saw that Dunn and Foley were facing four Skirmishers that stood in front of the exit, slowly prowling towards them, hissing. Two more dead Skirmishers lay at their feet. The Skirmishers kept their distance but one shot from their weapons and the Humans would be dead. Three of the Skirmishers were just Minors but the lead one was a Skirmisher Champion, wearing orange armour and with energy shields on its forearms. It was a standoff.
The three Rangers pointed their rifles directly at the Skirmishers, which seemed hesitant to attack. They growled angrily as they slowly began to circle the three Humans and the Humans did the same. The two squads locked eyes in a tense standoff before finally the lead Skirmisher let out an ear piercing screech and sprinted towards Sergeant Foley. Gunfire rang out and the Skirmisher collapsed before it reached him, bullet holes in its head, but the other three also ran at the soldiers. More shots rang out and one Skirmisher was killed but another jumped right onto Dunn and knocked him to the ground. It pointed its Plasma Pistol right at the side of his head and Dunn closed his eyes, waiting for the shot. But at the last moment, Foley suddenly kicked the Skirmisher in the ribs with all his strength, knocking it off Dunn and breaking several ribs. The Skirmisher dropped its weapon and thrashed about on the floor in agony. Ramirez swung his head around and saw the last Skirmisher turning away to retreat but he fired off several rounds from his rifle and hit the Skirmisher in the back, killing it.
The three soldiers stood up, coming to terms with the encounter before Foley headed for the stairs. Dunn and Ramirez looked at each other before following close behind. Foley had started to run up the stairs and he called down to the other two as he did so.
"Move it you two, something's going on out there!" he shouted. Once they finally reached the top of the stairs, Foley kicked down a door and they found themselves on the roof of the building overlooking much of the city. It was utter devastation, like Los Angeles had been smothered in a blanket made of fire. The Corvettes could still be seen hovering over the city but were no longer firing any weapons, instead they just hovered motionless. The sky was stained deep red from all the dust. The smoke that rose from the city made it difficult to see very far, and there was one massive tower of black smoke the size of a mountain rising up from behind the skyline. Squadrons of Banshees flew past regularly on patrol, and there was no sign of any Human forces left in the city. Gunfire couldn't even be heard.
"No frigging way we got beaten that quickly" muttered Dunn. Ramirez stared at the destruction that had befallen LA, but he turned his head to see Foley throwing a smoke grenade to the floor. A cloud of green smoke began to grow up out of it and Foley sat on a short wall at the edge of the roof before speaking into his headset, which had finally come back to life.
"Overlord, this is Hunter Two-One Actual. Are there any friendly forces left in Los Angeles, over?"
There was no response. Foley repeated his question but again no response.
"Shit" said Foley as Dunn kicked the wall in frustration.
"Could they have taken out Command already?" asked Ramirez.
"No way, they're based in Colorado right now. That's not possible right?" asked Dunn.
Before anyone could answer him, the sound of jet engines filled the air. The three soldiers looked to the sky and saw a squadron of four F-22 Raptor fighter jets shoot past in a triangle formation. They passed through the orange and black smoke that poured from the city and streaked directly towards the Covenant Corvette that hovered over what used to be the skyline, but was now a group of smouldering objects that no longer retained any of their original form. The lead Raptor signed in.
"Overlord, this is Jester One-One, flight of four F-22s. Standby for SEAD, over."
"Solid copy Jester. Go get em" replied Overlord through his headset.
The Raptors approached the Corvette, and the bay doors at the bottom of the jets opened up to reveal missiles. The lead Raptor gained a lock and fired.
"Good tone, good tone. Fox 3, Fox 3" said the pilot before pressing on the fire button. Two missiles dropped out from the jet before streaking towards the Corvette.
The Corvette had taken down its shields due to the absence of any hostiles and the Raptors had taken it by surprise. The two missiles struck the bulbous 'head' of the Corvette and exploded. Chunks of purple shrapnel flew everywhere as two large fireballs grew from the impact zones.
"Good effect on target" reported the pilot and the other three Raptors fired off missiles as well. The missiles pounded the Corvette, creating multiple impact points as fire spurted out from all over the left side of the ship. But the armour of the Corvette still protected it, the explosions weren't nearly as big as they could have been. The Raptors were soon getting too close to the Corvette and broke off. Big mistake. Before the pilots knew it, a massive group of almost fifty Seraphs came speeding towards them from all directions. One Raptor was caught completely off guard as a Seraph dived in on him from directly above and fired multiple purple shots from its plasma cannon. The plasma shots tore into the poorly armoured Raptor's wing and tore it clean off. The Raptor went into a spin, completely out of control as the pilot tried to wrestle it back under control. A massive streak of smoke poured from where the wing would have been as the Raptor spun violently, diving to the ground. At the last moment, the Raptor pilot finally ejected, just seconds before the jet smashed into the ground.
"Jester One-Three is down! I say again, Jester One-Three is on the ground!" shouted the lead Raptor pilot but there was no answer from Overlord. The pilot looked to his left and saw no less than seven Seraphs chasing another Raptor, firing hundreds of bolts of plasma at it and easily matching its top speed. The Raptor being pursued tried to break off but gave the Seraphs a better shot. The Raptor took a single hit and exploded in a ball of orange fire.
"This is Jester One-One, fall back! Fall back!" yelled the lead Raptor pilot to his only remaining comrade. But the other Raptor pilot was in the middle of it, trying to dodge the onslaught that the Seraphs were giving him. It was like being caught in a storm. He managed to get behind one of the Seraphs, got a lock and fired a missile. The missile streaked towards the Seraph, which launched no countermeasures of any kind. It didn't even flinch. The missile hit but the Seraph' shields lit up and the missile exploded harmlessly, not even slightly damaging the shields. The Raptor pilot didn't have any time to come to terms with this, as a second Seraph came up from below him and crashed right into his Raptor. The shields of the Seraph protected it but the Covenant fighter ripped right through the American jet, tearing it clean in half.
The final Raptor was now making a desperate attempt to escape, speeding out of Los Angeles but it was no use. Almost a hundred Seraphs were speeding towards him. One hundred immortal fighters the pilot thought to himself, before diving to the deck. He flew close to the ground, below the huge clouds of smoke and prayed that the aliens wouldn't find him. Luckily the Seraphs didn't find him, they scattered as they hunted him down but the smoke protected the Raptor. As it flew over the city, the pilot looked down to street level and was shocked by what he saw. Covenant vehicles were filling up the Downtown streets and there was indeed still fighting going on in the city contrary to the belief of Command. He could clearly see fresh explosions and tracer rounds, as well as barrages of plasma and hundreds of Heavy Plasma Mortars from Wraiths soaring over the buildings before coming to a crash on the American positions. The pilot grimaced, and left the area.
Foley, Dunn and Ramirez had been watching the entire battle between the Raptors and Seraphs, and now they were in a state of shock. Dunn crouched down against the wall, face in his hands. Foley had gone pale and Ramirez could do nothing but stare at the carnage all across the city.
"There's our bird" said Foley and Ramirez could see a UH-60 Blackhawk approaching the green smoke that Foley had thrown. As it touched down on the roof next to them, the three Rangers climbed onboard. Foley shouted over the din of the rotors to the operator of the minigun.
"You took your time getting here!" he shouted.
"Sorry sir but we're running out of time! Evacuation Order April, the city's being evacuated!"
"We're abandoning Los Angeles?" yelled Foley.
"Not just Los Angeles!" the gunner shouted back as the Blackhawk took off and headed out away from Santa Monica towards the countryside nearby. Ramirez sat down and breathed a sigh of relief that he was out of it for now. But his relief was short lived. He could hear Overlord's voice in his headset giving a final message to the soldiers of the West Coast.
"This is Overlord to all callsigns. The following cities have been declared lost to the enemy: Seattle, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Jose. If you are still inside any of these cities you must find a way out now. Our strategic forces are preparing for a tactical nuclear strike on the following city: San Diego. This strike has been judged to be a necessary act to slow down the invaders and destroy the enemy ships over the city. Anyone still inside the city, you have one hour before the strike hits and it will hit. I will broadcast again if the strike is a success or not. If it is, the following cities will be next on the list in this exact order: Seattle, Los Angeles, San Jose and San Francisco. Leave these cities now; you are to disregard all previous orders. You have one order now. Leave the cities and survive for as long as you can. Good luck. Overlord, out.