Welcome to Blessed Composition! This has been a story that I have been thinking about and went through several drafts. This was inspired by Clive Cussler's Oregon Files series, which I definitely recommend to anyone!
I do not own Halo.
Grunts were twitchy.
Being the cannon fodder and most common soldier encountered within the Covenant, the grunts had their strength in numbers, being deployed to overwhelm. Usually they were little threat alone, able to be put down with a single well placed magnum shot to the head. Even a few shots of their own weapons, the Plasma Pistol or Needler were sufficient. It was even more amusing that they began running frantically around when the leader, usually an elite had been killed. This made them less of a threat and much easier to kill.
One particular grunt had likely been assigned to be sentry duty and lookout for a ledge overlooking an enormous Covenant camp. Shuffling from side to side and fiddling with his pink needler, it didn't take a second glance to conclude that it was bored. Had he known that humans were watching him, he would have instantly left his post and ran in a usual grunt manner to an elite that was likely to be less than pleased.
The shadowy figure had slowly been creeping up behind the sentry. Every now and then, the grunt would look around and then resume toying with his gun. He was definitely grateful that it wasn't a jackal. He would have had to already kill the birdlike creature due to its increased senses. The armor on the Spartan was sleek, being dark green in color. The helmet that encased his head had a skull imprint into the visor, indicating that it was a War Master variant. Operator armor covered his shoulderpads and an Enforcer chest plate covered his ventral side. The Spartan stepped forward and seized the grunt's neck. Since it was unware, it only had time to raise its arms in panic before the Spartan jerked its side sideways in an unnatural angle. A muffled pop gave away that the neck had been snapped.
"Crimson Leader here," he spoke in a hushed tone, despite being inaudible outside his MJOLNIR GEN2 armor. "sentry neutralized." Like a group of spectres, three other figures faded into light. They were hidden so well, it would have fooled an attentive elite. Each Spartan wore a different headgear and carried different weapons. One Spartan wore a Oceanic helmet and carried the standard MA5D Assault Rifle, another wore the Engineer variant and held an M395 DMR and the last one had donned a Soldier helmet and was carrying a SRS99-S5 AM Sniper System.
"You know," The Spartan with the Engineer helmet spoke up, "if we have to go loud, we'll have to take out the Covenant that we snuck around."
"Well chances are, that's gonna happen." Crimson leader replied, "So I suggest you save your ammo."
He waved up the Spartan wielding the Sniper Rifle and as he approached, he looked at his other comrades and parted his arms in a wave motion. Both Spartans nodded and they took defensive positions close to nearby trees. The leader of the Spartan fireteam Crimson took his position next to the sniper and laid prone, crawling up to the ridge.
The view was vast, with a large jungle spanning out before them and a large clearing with a metal floor, indicating a Forerunner building. On the floor were groups of tall poles with glowing covenant spikes protruding from the center. There was a flurry of motion on the ground as Crimson leader reached into his hip pouch and removed a set of optics. A sealing sound on his helmet's front told him that his spotting gear was secure.
Twisting the dials on both lenses, the spotting gear zoomed in on the Covenant troops on the ground. Jackals walked casually with their bright blue and yellow shields on their arms. Grunts milled together in packs and there seemed to be only a few elites overlooking the entire pack, occasionally growling orders in their native tongue at the lesser species.
"Target arriving in two minutes." Crimson handler Jared Miller reported to the team. It was high stakes, now or never. All of the members, not just the four Spartans of fireteam Crimson were aware of the risks, but Commander Sarah Palmer, Miller, Dalton and all personnel onboard the advanced UNSC ship in charge of planning this highly secret operation's ways of going wrong in every direction. The operation was so secret, that when Captain Thomas Lasky of the UNSC Infinity had passed the intelligence to Palmer who in turn, passed it to Crimson, the fireteam was unaware of their target until they were en route on a Pelican. Accompanied by Palmer herself.
The ground shuddered as Crimson leader and his sniper only shifted their eyes to the disturbance above. A trio of bulbous purple skinned aircraft passed over the treetops above, swooping over the long strip of Covenant activity. The banshees were clear and peeled off, likely flying back to their home ship somewhere above.
The Spartan toggled his proximity camera, a small optic device that held a clear view of the corridor the target's aircraft would approach from. Sure enough, the outline of a Phantom shuttle was approaching between the mountain range. The heart shaped craft slid effortlessly through the air and the ominous droning sound it was famous for began to slowly resonate through the valley. It descended slightly above the ground before dropping its gravity lift. Now out of sight of the camera, Crimson leader toggled back to his optics on his helmet, now focusing on the purple craft that hovered at the end of the Forerunner strip. Two elites clad in maroon armor with four blue lights on their helmets stepped forward. Elites with such armor were known as Zealots, the generals and admirals in the Covenant military. Zealots were also known to be in special operations team and it was rumored that the high leaders of the Storm were protected by a secret group of the very best members of the Zealot rank.
Crimson was there to show them that the Zealot's security failed. Their sniping point was nearly a hundred feet above the ground where the Covenant camp was and far away as well. The sniper rifle that the Crimson marksman carried would be put to the test in attempting the shot at such a range.
Crimson leader zoomed further as a figure dropped from the Phantom's gravity bay. Bearing the markings of another Zealot, it glanced at its brethren giving them a slight nod. The second figure began to descend and the elite's metal feet touched the ground. In the optics, Crimson leader saw the two Zealots stiffen and stand slightly taller.
Focusing the optics on the newer elite, his HUD began lighting up with target confirmation. The elite had armor that was similar to Zealot armor, but instead of four blue lights on the helmet, it was a larger symbol. All of the confirmation instruments shortly after completing the scan pulsed green.
"We have confirmation of Jul 'Mdama at the Forerunner structure." Miller reported from the operations center. "Crimson, you are clear to take the shot."
"Roger Miller." Crimson leader replied, turning to his sniper. "You ready?"
"Affirmitave." He replied, taking out a magazine. Opening the chamber, the sniper slid the rounds inside and pulled the charging handle. Setting up the bipod on a steady surface the sniper gave a nod to Crimson leader to show that he was ready.
"Target confirmed, marking now." Crimson leader had set a red diamond on 'Mdama, who was deep in conversation with his Zealot accomplice. Both were slowly walking, but stopped frequently to exchange more words.
Crimson's sniper began to focus, putting the reticule slightly ahead of the elite. 'Mdama was about halfway across the complex that was viewable. The two Zealots that stood guard now trailed behind, completely unaware of what was about to happen.
Crimson's sniper held his breath and adjusted his aim one final time, putting Jul 'Mdama's head in the center of his crosshairs.
His finger tightened on the trigger and fired the shot.
The rifle cracked and with its recoil, lurched backwards slightly from the sniper bracing for the recoil. The bullet trail appeared instantly as the 14.5x114 millimeter bullet exited the barrel and split in flight on the way to its target. A split second later, Crimson leader saw Jul 'Mdama's shields disappear as the round effortlessly passed through the energy barrier and shredded armor. The bullet impacted just behind the eye, spraying out purple blood. The lifeless body collapsed to the floor and it had taken a second for the accompanying Covenant to realize what had happened to their leader.
"Target is confirmed killed!" Miller shouted enthusiastically. "Excellent work Crimson!" There were cheers in the operations center that could be heard in the background.
Fireteam Crimson was already packing up; Crimson leader removed his optics as he signaled the other members of his team to begin moving out. He took one last look at the Covenant gathered around 'Mdama's body. One of the Zealots ignited an Energy Sword and roared in anger.
"Job's done Crimson, but you're not out of the woods yet." Palmer reminded the team as they began heading toward the LZ. "Covenant are going to be combing this jungle for anybody and you best be out of there." True to her words, the Banshees that had swooped over earlier were now heard moving in their direction. The Spartan with the DMR was on point and raised his head to look around. The aircraft were not visible due to the thick density of the forest's trees that stretched overhead.
The team kept a steady pace, constantly watching their motion trackers for movement. Oddly, there were only a couple Covenant search parties and the only patrol encountered so far were a small group of jackals and an elite. Crimson had taken cover behind a few large rocks adjacent to the patrol. A jackal had glanced in their direction as they passed, but apparently did not see them as the group moved deeper into the forest.
"Crimson, you've got hostiles closing on your position!" Miller informed, "Get to the LZ now!"
"Let's move." Crimson leader ordered his partners, they all nodded and began jogging away.
It had taken a few minutes, but Crimson reached the clearing where a large rock towered over them in front. Crimson leader took a beacon and activated it, tossing the small device nearby.
"Miller, the beacon's set." Crimson leader informed his handler, "Awaiting Pelican."
"Dalton's got your ride en route." Jared sounded a little worried, "But since the beacon was the only way to signal your arrival, it's likely the Covenant are after you too."
Crimson leader gestured for his Spartans to take defensive positions. He breathed a sigh of relief as the familiar Pelican dropship began to grow in size. Nearly the entire team was relieved; Crimson hadn't seen a Pelican for nearly four days, being deep in Covenant controlled territory.
"This is Pelican Hotel Mike Seven Nine Two." The pilot's voice cracked through the radio. "We have a visual on Crimson and moving to extract."
Crimson leader saw a flash out of the corner of his eye and was in the midst of turning when the Fuel Rod bomb exploded nearby, showering them with dirt and rocks.
"Shit!" Seven Nine Two cursed loudly as he brought the bird up. "Enemy aircraft inbound!"
"Crimson!" Jared Miller yelled out, "You've got heavy Covenant forces moving in!"
"Dalton!" Commander Palmer's firm voice cut through, "Get Crimson some air support and some guns!"
"Not able to do that Commander. Too much air activity." Dalton calmly responded. It puzzled Crimson many times on how Dalton was unfazed by the Commander's harshness. They've seen her in a very angry state and it wasn't pretty.
"Seven Nine Two, break off! Lead the enemy air away until we can secure the LZ!"
"Got it." The pilot responded, "I don't know how long I will be able to dodge them for."
The leader of fireteam Crimson turned to his teammate. "Do you still have the trip wires?"
"I still do." She responded, producing a coil of wire after setting her Assault rifle down. He turned back to his team, "Get out all of your grenades and start setting traps about ten meters in the forest." By then, they could faintly hear the ravenous chatter of grunts, which meant the first wave, was going to hit them soon.
So, Crimson's pulled off quite the audacious mission, taking out the notorious Jul 'Mdama. You all are probably asking "Why are you killing Jul 'Mdama this early?"
Relax, it's part of the story. This is merely a prelude which will set off a chain of events. Perhaps more attention should have been paid to the lack of security. Jackals should have been covering the vantage points right?
Anyway, I hope you've enjoyed the start of my latest project after a lengthy hiatus. Chapter 2&3 are written and will be released shortly. Thanks!