(AUTHOR'S NOTES: How now brown cows? Excited as much as I am, doubt it. Well this one's going to be longer as the last one was just a taster now the fun really begins and me and my mates can get a real kick out of this, I'm really excited. OFF WE GO!)
Time: 04:30 am
Reach Time: 00:30 am
Date: January 13th 2552 (4 months and 4 days before Reach falls)
Location: Aboard UNSC Frigate U.S.S Orchestral Dock
Upon leaving Xiang's office, I'd taken to getting some sleep. I though it best, considering, I was about to drop to my grave. It was disturbed by a messenger, he was shaking when I got up and admittedly, I would too with almost 8 1/2 feet of killing machine staring down at me. Probably didn't help I looked like a machine as well thanks to the MJOLNIR armour.
His wobbly hand held out a small information screen and message and I took them both and surveyed them. It was from Xiang. I looked at the time and soon found myself at the dock waiting to arm up. There was a large queue of ODSTs in front of me whom were for now to accompany me till I found the Commander's dear team of wayward Spartans. I took out the disks and activated them, the first was a small message from Xiang herself it simply said:
"Dear Spartan AH92,
Here's your mission details and brief. Please put it in the drop ship drive and brief the ODSTs. Thank you.
I laughed to myself, taking off my helmet and laying it by my side. The ODSTs stared at me, I stared back. I loved the competition between Spartans and ODSTs they always tried to stare you out when you took your helmet off by disengaging their visors as if to try and remind you that you were just human even if you were a Spartan. I never found it an appropriate time to ask them to thank me and my kind for their helmets as they were first intended for us. I resumed to looking at the second disk it simply said "OPERATION THUNDERSTRUCK" displayed maps, our targets and other information. I smirked and the pilot came and sat them self next to me, looking me up and down curiously "Never had to drop-shock a Spartan before." he awed to himself, the armoury personnel called me forward and I patted him on the shoulder "I'm counting on you Kiddo."
It was probably inaccurate to call him "kiddo" as well, that would've meant he was younger then me but I was the youngster out of the two of us but as a Spartan you just got away with some stuff and as the armoury gave me just the bog standard weaponry of an assault rifle and a DMR my mind got to thinking. Were those ODSTs even going to listen to me? That was something I didn't want to think about and tried desperately in order to get out of my head. I just exited silently, picked up my helmet, screwed it on and nodded at the pilot "Are we ready to go then skipper?"
"C'mon then, let's get off shall we?"
The pilot laughed at me and saluted me, I didn't know what for I was only a sergeant but still he ran double time to our drop ship and the ODSTs stood waiting on either side of the map and as I walked through the middle I could feel the wind shift as all there heads followed my path. I entered the ship and looked back at them "What you waiting for ladies?" I asked cockily patting one on the head as I disappeared to my seat. They all followed and before long we were off into the cold grip of Space, moving towards Reach's orbit...
I looked around, these ODSTs were restless, fiddling with their provisions and just plain fidgeting. My armour and all the lights on it let a faint glow into the rest of the hold and then I remembered Xiang's note. I looked at the time and it was Reach time 00:45. I stood up inserted the disk knowing that drop town would be roughly 10 minutes, I had to be quick. I had to be to the point. "Welcome to operation Thunderstruck! Our objective is to find and secure a team of Spartan VIPs is that understood?" there were a few disgruntled murmurs from the cabin. For a division that prided themselves in being "Thunder From Above" ODSTs were such a whiny bunch "I SAID DID YOU UNDERSTAND!?"
All heads in the cabin turned to me after my roaring voice had filled the hold and they all nodded shouting in return "Yes sir!" I nodded at them all and sat back down in my open pod as everyone else was doing. The pilot signalled for us to strap in and under my visor there was a smile "Alright, weapons are free, we'll be facing the Religious Sect Armageddon and anti-UNSC militia ANTIFAC; the Commander cares not for media opinion these two together are dangerous!" with that there was the combined sound of every single person including me priming our weapons, this was a bad drop. Open ground.
We weren't exactly inconspicuous as we made a racket as we descended, the restraints bolted down and the tops of our pods closed the Pilot's voice screaming from the comm "Ready? Thunder from above ODST! Dropping now!" With the catch gone I felt weightlessness and the velocity of the pod falling battling for control over my body. The view out the window turning into a strange shade of orange and everything being blurred by the flames that enveloped my pod, the countdown to ground was plummeting and I braced myself ready. The storm we'd kick up bouncing off the walls of the valley would be tremendous so they'd know we were coming and we had to be ready to move. I didn't envy that about ODSTs. I just waited until there was the distinct 'thud' of metal embedding into the earth and the pod door flung open. It wasn't what I expected...
I just stepped out into the rain and heard the crack of thunder almost instantly as my foot touched the ground, all the pods had landed, looked like I was the last one and the ODSTs were already ready scoping out the valley "They must've mistook us for lightning sir, they're not even alarmed." I was sceptical, burning balls of fire for lightning. I could just smell a trap, I used my helmets built in zoom and surveyed the area of the compound and the trooper was right, no one was moved to alarm instead they just bolstered out security around the complex. Thunder seemed to continuously barrage the open ground, that's why they weren't far from the cover of the complex. "Soldier," I asked pointing at a random ODST "How many of you are there?" He looked around himself, most probably counting, I couldn't see past his visor "20 sir." was his reply and I thought hard about the next move into the complex could've been a trap, even if it wasn't it was still dangerous and I had to think quick. I wasn't a tactics man, well not advanced anyway; I just stuck to what was tried and successful. "I want 10 out here and 10 to come inside with me. The 10 here will secure our exit and if we call for help or don't comm back within half an hour follow." 10 followed me straight in through the north hangar "Engage your night vision lads."
I poured over the schematics for the building cross referencing our position with Tartarus's last location. We weren't actually far but I hadn't noticed something, which one fo the ODSTs did "Sir, there's signs of a fire fight everywhere... you sure they could've made it?"
"Commander Xiang seems to think so."
The footsteps behind me were a comforting sound as I tried to keep an eye of every section of the building; the motion detector wasn't picking up anything at all. I was worried, for an active part of the complex to be almost empty and powered down with no lights was unheard of, especially if it was the greatest of flanking positions. "SIR MOTION SENSORS ARE GOING CRAZY!" The trooper was right, lost in my own thoughts I hadn't notice the mass amount of red that had appeared all around us on the motion sensors. I spun round, to see nothing though and the red dots soon were replaced by just one and one thought crossed my mind. Active camouflage. If they had that all they had to do was stay remarkably still and they could drop us instantly if there were enough of them. Even my shield couldn't hold against that many bullets. I didn't let the panic show in my body but now there was only one red dot straight ahead, so I moved towards it signalling for the team to hold back, I went to check it out alone...
I saw nothing but it was close, I could see a doorway up ahead and the figure hadn't moved at all but was still doing enough to be picked up, it could've been a patrol man guarding the door. I crept up looking forward but not getting a good look at the dark figure in the door frame not even with night vision. I just kept creeping closer and closer with my grip on my rifle tightening. I was close to him, very, he may not of had night vision everybody knew militias were ill-equipped and as he jumped out on him and screamed "STAND DOWN!" instinctively. I was actually rather shocked...
In the doorway stood a tall blue armoured Spartan, not as tall as me but almost. I let out a sigh of relief as I saw the fellow Spartan one I recognised from the Tartarus team roster. "Woah, dude you had me scared now, you can put the sniper rifle down now." I laughed but then realised my helmet wasn't responding to the Spartan in front of me and the Spartan hadn't even responded to me...
"Shit..." I gulped as the image flickered giving away that the Spartan was a hologram and from the Shadows to my left the motion sensor now picked up something, in close combat range now coming towards me. I turned and saw the same blue Spartan as was displayed in his hologram decoy racing towards me with his fist poised for my face. "SHIT MATE!" I yelled before the fist connected firmly with the left side of my chin. I felt it vibrate the whole of my body, even inside my armour and was once again grateful for the fact the armour was shock absorbent and in case that failed that my bones were unbreakable. I fell to the ground my hand up in the air towards the rifle muzzle now on the side of my head. "Woah, Woah, I think we got off to a bad start here..." I joked urging the other Spartan to lay down his arm "You're with Tartarus right?"
"Yes. I am." Said the stranger
"I'm your relief, I've been sent to come get you by Xiang."
"Oh, wow fat fucking load of help you are then." He moaned taking the muzzle of the side of my head as the ODSTs stormed towards him weapons raised, I had to yell "Lads, he's one of the VIPs!"
I got up, taking off my helmet, rubbing the side of my chin where the fist had connected and I could tell the guy was smiling beneath his helmet, as a Spartan you could tell what was going on inside the visor. "Ouch, that hurt," I grunted still rubbing my face "So which one are you then asshole?" The stranger watched me put my helmet on and looked around at me and the ODSTs, he nodded and shuffled himself before finally replying to my question "I'm Tartarus 3; Johnathon Corbet. Friends call me John. Sorry about the jaw." he held out his hand and I took it quickly (before he could hit me with it again.
"Your new number 4 Orso, friends call me Bear." I said looking around not seeing the rest of team coming out of hiding or even being picked up with the motion sensor "Where are the others?" I asked.
"I got bored and wandered off?"
"What? You're kidding?"
"Nope, no word of a lie."
I looked around at the ODSTs who were as dumbstruck as I was: "Best we go find them then."