Saturday, August 8, 2009

Death Valley (Halo Fan-Fiction written in 2004)

Sparks of colorful light could be seen from miles away, with nothing but the stars to share witness of the mayhem that took place below. As the drop ship flew off into the night sky, the fading roar of its engines was replaced by the sound of battle, the sound of war. The night air was damp and humid, the rain pouring down in waves, making visibility poor, something that had not been considered beforehand. As the team drew closer to the battleground, cries of war and agony could be heard, the last screams of the slaughtered chilling the soul of all who listened. The soldiers, although equipped with the latest battle gear and the best technology that the United States Marine Corps had to offer, knew that their chances of survival were minimal. Some of them that had survived previous battles knew that much of it was based on luck and that this day their luck could surely run out. The ones who were about to engage in their first battle knew that their training could not possibly prepare them enough for what they were about to experience. They glanced at each other, some with fear in their eyes and others with bloodlust, and then looked ahead. The battle was just over this hill.

Approaching a jagged boulder jutting up from the soft earth, Sergeant Michael Weathers shouldered his PSG-1 sniper rifle and took cover at the very top of the hill. He hesitated for a moment as he looked on in awe at the scene in the valley below him. The awful sounds that he had heard were now supplemented with visuals, visuals that burn themselves into one's brain and stay as an inexorable memory for a lifetime. Thick, black smoke billowed from the small, raging fire that engulfed the downed UNSC ship, which lay wrecked in the middle of the ongoing battle. Scanning the area, Weathers saw that there were about six Marines that were still alive and fighting. They were using the smoldering ship as cover and dodging plasma fire from enemy weaponry. The Elites outnumbered them by a factor of three. They were smart creatures and seemed to be looking for a way to lure the surviving Marines from their cover. They were quick and agile, instantly shooting with dead-on accuracy at any soldier who could be seen through the cover. Bodies, of both Marines and Elites alike, lay scattered all over, red and blue blood covering the terrain below. Weathers could make out three small craters, one of which was still glowing green from the blast that created it. He figured that these were caused by fragmentation grenades, the last one a result of the alien explosive devices that were often utilized by the enemy Elites. Weather's deduction was proven correct as he noticed the several detached body parts littering the battleground. When he came into eye contact with a decapitated head of a fellow Marine, which stared at him, unblinking, unmoving, only dust and echoes reflected in its gaze, he came back to his senses and realized he was wasting time. He directed his attention to the six remaining Marines. Although battered and bruised, most of them seemed to be in fighting condition as best as Weathers could tell. One Marine's uniform and gear was soaked in blood, both blue and red, and his left arm abruptly ended in tattered and torn flesh, hanging loosely and dripping, only a few inches from the shoulder. The one-armed Marine still had life in him, however, as he would come out from his cover every so often, taking bold shots at the Elites, yelling out expletives all the while.

Weathers observed all of this in a matter of seconds and then concerned himself with the task at hand. His job was to carefully snipe out opposition while the rest of the reinforcements went, guns blazing, into battle. He could hear the commanding chief barking orders to his squad. Weathers checked that the safety was off, loaded a fresh clip, and looked through the 4x magnification scope. Everything glowed green as he viewed the battle in night vision. He could hear the war cry of his fellow Marines as they charged down the hill, their assault rifles blazing, stray bullets ricocheting off the impenetrable metal of the downed ship. The Elites, at first surprised to see the new arrivals, quickly regrouped and began to retaliate. One of the commanding Elites lifted his armored fists in defiance and then began to aim his plasma gun when his head exploded.

Weathers, who was known for his sniping abilities, grinned at the headshot and quickly began to focus on other targets. When the original surviving Marines saw that help had come and realized that a sniper also looked over them in the hills, they gained new hope and emerged from their cover and engaged in full fledged battle. They spread out over the terrain, exchanging gunfire with the Elites. The shields of the Elites shimmered in the night as the bullets of the several assault rifles made contact. Their shields could keep them from harm, but not for very long. The Marines were relentless with their gunfire and the shields of the enemies began to flicker and die out. With this, cries of pain ripped through the air as three of the Elites in the front line were torn apart.

All the while, the Elites returned fire with their plasma guns, which propelled small balls of melting hot plasma that liquefied whatever it came in contact with. "My ear!" screamed a Marine as enemy fire grazed his head, turning his ear into a sizzling, smoking goo. He bent over in pain, reaching to his newly acquired wound and going into a hysterical fit when his hand was badly burned from touching the scorching hot mess. A bolt of blue-green light soared through the air and suddenly ended the Marine's cries as a hole the size of a softball was burned into his chest cavity. He was dead before he hit the ground.

The opposing Elite's victory was short-lived as Weathers promptly sent a bullet into his right ear, blowing the left side of his brains out. Weathers rotated his gun and viewed a side fight between a lone Marine and two Elites. The Marine was dancing around a boulder that rose just above his head, ducking behind it as plasma fire sizzled past him and left big black smoking marks in the tall rock. Weathers quickly took out the stronger looking of the Elites, and the Marine down below used this opportunity to take advantage of the surprised alien. He tucked and rolled, coming up in a kneeling position and fired his assault rifle full blast, aiming at the head of the Elite. Pushed back by the onslaught of bullets, the Elite stumbled and was unable to steady his gun for defense. When his shields were exhausted, the Elite was struck in the eye, the bullet passing in and out through the back of his spiked head easily, leaving a lifeless lump on the ground with blood oozing from the orifice.

Private Charles, who had come straight from boot camp, was running out of ammo and to reload in the open was almost certain death. He began to back up, seeing his fellow Marines being turned into burning corpses all around him. Right as his last bullet left its chamber, Charles dove behind the still smoldering ship, a plasma bullet just missing his head. A Elite had spotted him taking cover and pulled off a green object that was attached to his armor. As the grenade left the Elite's hand a shot rang out through the air and the Elite fell, dead, but Weathers had been too late. The incendiary grenade flew with unbelievable accuracy and landed right beside Charles, who had just finished reloading and was about to rejoin the battle. He didn't even have time to react. His eyes widened and his mouth opened to scream and then an explosion shook the night. After the smoke cleared, all that was left was a green glow and a flaming skeleton, lying motionless under the stars.

Weathers cursed under his breath and steadied his rifle for another kill. He spotted Mendoza, the one-armed Marine, crazily shooting into the crowd of Elites. "Yeah, you like that? You want some more?" he yelled. "This one's for my arm, you bastards!" His shots lacked aim, but somehow found some of their targets and three Elites fell. One of them, however, managed to dodge his fire and jumped into a roll, firing his plasma gun and obliterating Mendoza's right leg. Mendoza let out a scream and fell to a bended knee, still firing wildly. The Elite let out a roar as he realized he was out of ammo and quickly unveiled an alien blade that seemed to be molded into his armor. He began to run toward Mendoza at full speed, bullets ricocheting off his still intact shield. The ground around him erupted into small puffs of dirt as Weathers and nearby comrades desperately tried to take down the mobile Elite, but he was too fast. Mendoza did not falter in his shooting, and his last words echoed in Weathers' mind: "I'll die like a man, you cowardly beast!" His death was quick, the Elite decapitating the injured soldier with expertise, the speed at which the blade sliced through his throat making it painless and without flaw. The Elite stopped to claim victory over the dead one and the right side of his head suddenly shattered under the force of the bullet that ended his triumph. Weathers was having a bad day, and it was just about to get worse.

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