Date: 21st of August, 2557.
Location: New Moponos, Quadrant Valley.
The Staff Sergeant traversed the frozen alpines of the valley, looking around him as his rifle rested against his gut, slung around his shoulder and clipped to his ODST suit, the silenced M932 Designated Marksman Rifle dangled against his chest lightly as he moved, four other ODSTs following close behind him as he came to a stop across the alpine, looking straight down over the edge of the ridge as he then turned to his team, nodding as he settled down by a rock providing enough cover for the night and protection, his helmet being removed right before he un-clipped the rifle from his chest piece and set it aside.
“Status?” The man asked as he looked at the four ODSTs, who were already active and alert to their surroundings as they had ever been, one of them spoke up as the leader demanded, “Seven tangos on defensive posts, looks pretty tight. Nothing we cannot handle, however.” The trooper was cocky, but he was right they were ODSTs, they were the best there was; at least if you did not count the SPARTANs.
The man moved closer to the ridge, and took a short glance down, crouching down beside the dark-suited ODST, before he took the binoculars from him looking through to see an abandoned UNSC outpost, painted in several colours, at least in what seemed to be a pitiful attempt to hide the UNSC markings all over the outpost, it looked damaged as well, heavily as they seemed to have refurbished some of the bases to make it operational.
“There,” The man said, painting a marker on the HUDs with the touch of a button on the side of the binos, it was a generator that laid uncovered on the side. “That’s our entry ticket, we turn it off and we go straight in.” he moved the binos away from his face and held it beside him, to the ODST who had been using them before, “Mack, Rogers, you’re together; Hogans with me.” the three men acknowledged the order as Mack and Rogers, stood from the white hued ground and went their way, before that, the Staff Sergeant; Taylor Egerton moved back to his rifle and helmet that laid on the same snow blanketed soil, pulled his helmet on and clipped his rifle back to his armour piece. Then they both began moving down the valley towards the base, double timing it.
Though it wasn’t long before the two teams of two arrived at their destination, VISRs on, the light of the twin moons above illuminating the ground as Taylor took cover on the nearest wall.
He tapped his SQDCOM as he spoke to his team, “On one. . .”
He positioned himself, peeking over the steel wall of the old outpost, looking over as he distinguished two insurrectionist troopers standing guard at the main entrance of the outpost, only that he didn’t expect an M12 FAV Warthog to drive out of the main entrance, he quickly pulled himself back from the line of sight and let it drive past, once the warthog was far away enough he positioned himself against the wall, aiming forth towards the two troopers, his rifle resting against the wall as his grip tightened.
“One. . .”
“Two. Go, go, go!”
The sound of silenced fire fills the night sky for less than a second as two perfect shots land where they’re supposed to, the two teams being on opposite sides moved quickly towards the entrance as they paced themselves in, once inside there was only but a bright flash. Followed by a deafening whistle then nothing more.
This is me, Orbital Drop Shock Trooper; Taylor Egerton, Staff Sergeant of Gamma-November, belonging to the 501st Xeno-Materials Exploitation Battalion, I guess you could say I am indeed interrupting something here, something that seems important what is it? What’s going to happen? I guess you could say all that but I think that we need to go back, so you can understand where I’m going; first you have to understand where I come from.
I never wanted to be a Marine or any kind of trooper, Colonial Military, let alone an ODST, I grew up in New Hampton, a fairly small city close to one of those big lakes where they had machinery and big boats and fishes all about, I remember my first day fishing, as well as I, remember my first kill in the battlefield, I was seven it was on December I remember, the weather was nice not too hot, not too hot.. It was on one of those huge industrial speedboats my father worked in my first catch that day too; guess it ran in the family and I got the skill necessary, even if it only was one of those catfishes carried over from Earth on the days shortly after Colonisation by the incoming fleets, the ship operators dumped them into the sea and lakes after arrival as they had been part of what was deemed as contraband by the regulations, guess it was an infestation of the ecological system back then, now we fish them and had become one of the biggest exporters of catfishes, some said that it had quite a taste coming from Crystal, however I wanted to return with my father every single day after that whether it was to fish one of those huge Paelosurs, it was also a plus that we lived not too far inland from the lake as the job needed my father close by every morning, he loved his job and it was a family run business. I was expected to run in line just like everybody else, even my grandfather wanted me to follow the lineage and he was quite proud of me that day, I am not gonna lie I loved fishing, the thrill, the wind in my face as the boat sped off from the Marina, the adrenaline of not knowing if you’re gonna actually catch the goddamn fish or not.. And I did follow down that path, for a while at least.
I was born on January 25th, 2525, I didn’t know, nothing but the threat of a war coming on the horizon, we all knew so, so it shifted my train of thought when a system close by to Crystal; just roughly three jumps away was glassed in April 28th, 2545, I decided to enlist in the Colonial Military Authority, I was 20 at the time, and obviously eligible for enlistment, so I decided to let go of what I loved to do what I had to, defend my soil, my dirt, my lands as these sons-of-bitches aspired to burn every single piece of land we had, and I wasn’t about to sit idly by and watch them do so. . .
Then at sunrise, first thing in the morning I walked into a small recruiting center on my own and walked straight towards a vaguely annoyed looking man in uniform as he sat on his desk, his insignias testified that he was a Sergeant, so once I stood before him I handed him my papers and he reviewed them, eyeing me carefully before he eyed back the papers.
“Welcome, to the Colonial Military.” Was all he said, as he passed my papers in.
By that evening, though, I had barely learnt a thing, only how to traverse my way through mud, as the Drill Sergeant yelled his face off at me and everybody else that was with me, I was however by the end of a couple weeks; Sergeant. Taylor Egerton, of the Colonial Military Authority, but of course the CMA’s boot camp was a joke, unlike the UNSC’s they only taught you how to use your – shitty – weapon, march, salute and how to operate the M12 FAV Warthogs.
But unlike the other recruits, I actually had a sense of duty, and I knew how to shoot, my uncle had taught me how to shoot back when I was thirteen, he was a hard-arsed marine that didn’t give a shit about anything; unlike me, however, he was part of the UNSC. I guess that’s why I was booted up to Sergeant, however, it was a welcome change from only being a recruit.
However fast forward a few weeks, graduated from boot with the rank of Sergeant, but in a sudden change of pace reality hit us right in the face; hard, command appointed the regiment I was in – the 103rd Rifleman Regiment – our first deployment to aid in the evacuation of Actium, we arrived aboard the CMA Archipelago, old, battered piece of shit it was, a Halcyon-class first generation; I was surprised the thing was still standing, let alone on duty but hey, it was the CMA…
So, The Battle of Actium was my first deployment on duty, remember that one planet where the powerful and popular speech by Colonel. Akono Menteith was given? “Our generation was born to fight the Covenant, and you, my fellow soldiers – were born for this very day. Today the enemy will hear the roar of humanity. And they will fear us.” Nothing but pretty words of empty hope, but at the time it was needed, and it showed that it did what it was intended to do; at least before Actium fell and so did the 53rd Armoured Division with it. The CMA did its job, we did our job as cannon fodder so the UNSC Army could carry out the evacuation, in the end my fireteam remained, half of our division deceased while me and a few other fireteams made it to the transports, I stayed out the ramp waiting for everybody to board, silly mistake as I realised when a stray flash of deeply infused plasma hit my shoulder and I fell flat on the ramp as I could feel how the plasma ate to my skin like a bug.. It burned deeply, stung, incapacitated you and all your thoughts became that stray flash on your shoulder, I had been burned with plasma before, on that battle, they rose my skin at most. . . But a direct hit, it was my first. It did not help that the CMA’s gear was an utter piece of shit, Interplanetary Wars stuff, it wasn’t treated for this. Hell not even fully treated for bullets, so I forced myself up, with the help of one of the privates under my command and one of the Army guys, took my gun an old, battle tested MA2B and I ordered everybody to board the transport with a hiss of pain as I was hurled inside with the help of the two troopers as evacuation orders blared through COMs ‘Bloody arrow’ was all that was issued as the pilots of the crafts became desperate to leave as plasma rained overhead on the horizon with a giant pulse of red, fiery fire from the cruisers above; My first glassing too on this battle.. And the last glance at the planet that was as we started fleeing a lost battle, luckily the last ships on the sector defended our escape before they became a fiery ball that quickly subsided on the midst of zero-g. . . As we were successful on our escape aboard the civilian transport ships followed by a limping Halcyon-class, the UNSC Guardian of Peace as we jumped into slip-space out to our latest destination and rendezvous point with the UNSC, following certain jump patterns to confuse the enemy like we always did while departing a battle, it was Cole Protocol that mandated confusing patterns before we arrived at our destination before arriving.
Colony world of Sargasso; our final destination. This is where I lost some part of me. . . That part that makes you want to love, to feel, I guess if you could embody all that in one celestial body, this would be it.
First day in that world, I woke up in a bunk bed, light coming straight through the window that was beside me as I eyed outside, squinting at the light as birds could be heard through the open window, I slowly got up with a slight grunt as my shoulder hurt like you could never imagine, plasma was something special. . . However a hand was gently placed on my arm and I looked beside me and there she was, 5’7” ft tall, red fiery strands of hair and a thin, freckled ball of sass mixed with an attitude.
“Please, do not get up.” She said, sternly as her dark eyes eyed Taylor as she scolded him, trying to push him back on the bed. “Where am I?” I asked with a groan as I refused to let her push me back “You’re on the State Hospital Number 17, operating as a UNSC Hospital, please do not get up, you must rest, that’s a plasma burn you’ve got right there a nasty one.” I finally allowed her to put me back as I laid back down on the bed. “And. . . Who are you?” He said, looking over at her as he laid there, moving his arm to a more comfortable position with a slight grimace at the slightest hint of pain. “Alicia.” She said.
And so, was born something that I would regret for the rest of my life, and words not said that I would regret as well, I would recover from my burns, my skin would heal just enough and I would move on from that, but there was something that I would not move on just as easily as my burns, just as easily as a pitiful injury or physical pain, both go away, feelings don’t feelings remain inside, creeping up on you and when you least expect it they hit you in the face with a butcher’s mace, the only difference is the physicality, you don’t feel it physically but mentally and it’s even worse however it would be my first day out of the hospital, which I had memorised by now after a couple of months, September 30th, 2545, was the date I was released from the hospital and met with two MPs at the door, Alicia was talking to me as I did and the moment she saw the men all colour drained from her face when they directed themselves to me, anyone would grow uneasy with a pair of Military Police officers. . . Even me, which I admit I could’ve peed my pants.
“You must come with us,” They bore UNSC insignias, they weren’t CMA which meant I had no idea what was up with that, I simply cast a short glance at Alicia then accompanied the men. “What is this?” I asked as I looked at the men, raising a brow, I wasn’t exactly guilty of anything, or perhaps I may have been. I didn’t exactly know.
The men escorted me out of the Hospital complex as I left Alicia behind, when I did I was led towards as small UNSC FOB – Forward Operating Base – not too far from the hospital as they had been working in conjoint operation, the hospital was better equipped than any field hospital the UNSC could build in a short amount of time, when we arrived at the base I was escorted directly to the CO’s main office in the base, and I was left alone by the men who escorted me once we walked inside, and I was led in.
A man who sat in front of a carefully organised 21st Century-looking desk, his eyes on a datapad reviewing information as we entered, the man was old, seasoned, probably a few centuries older than Taylor and a few centuries wiser. “Dismissed.” He said at the par of MPs as they proceeded to leave through the door behind me and close it. “Taylor Egerton, hm?” The man spoke again as he placed the datapad flat on the desk and his eyes proceeded to look at the man in the OD uniform and CMA insignias. “What’s a poor bastard like you doing with a proper transfer order to the UNSC?” Then it all dawned on me obviously, I didn’t do anything wrong, I was being transferred? “Excuse me, sir?” The man chuckled and relaxed his posture as he laid back, staring at Taylor up and down. “Well, I assumed you had heard the news, Welcome to the United Nations Space Command, son, you’re late for a proper training from what the people in the CMA taught you.” He properly stood from the cushioned seat he was on, tidying his uniform as he approached Taylor and carefully took a hold of the OD BDU he wore, specifically where the Colonial Military Authority logo had been “Get rid of the Colonial look. It does not fit you. You’ll be led to Camp Bouze, not far from here. Dismissed.”
Taylor stood in attention and firmly snapped a tight salute at the man before him
And so I was led to Camp Bouze, – a small CMA outpost being utilised by the UNSC in the planet – firstly being lead to the pelican landing strips on the FOB, then led there; long story short however it was a whole lot of proper yelling, hardened training, combat training, on my first training simulation my team and I were coupled against a group of ODSTs who had been training us, I, and a friend that I had actually met throughout the time in boot; Diego, managed to actually surprise three of them, on a flanking route while everybody else went straight in, though I would be neutralised with Diego by a third hidden trooper and the simulation would end, we would’ve caught the eye of command, and it wasn’t long before we graduated; this time as ODSTs having been deemed worthy for it, so we were offered a chance to go the extra mile. . . Though I would obtain the rank of Staff Sergeant, it wasn’t too different from the CMA days, only this was more complex and more organised, incompetence wasn’t as abundant, chain-of-command was clear, though it would be the same, it was definitely better. So we did what we did best, we went to a bar, and we got drunk to celebrate a few days after our proper UNSC graduation and I obviously invited Alicia to come with me, and she did. I’ll always remember that night, especially what I said to her that day. I was too drunk for my own good and too in love with her.
“I love you”, I had told her as we stood outside of the bar where everybody celebrated our graduation with chants and cheers and stories about who would get to beat the hell out of an Elite with their bare hands, her face however dumbstruck as if she had seen a ghost, and so it made me sober up as quickly as the punch of a SPARTAN would make my skull be shattered into pieces. . . There was no response and there came nothing from me either.
A response came only short, of silence, but more of action; she just what you would say ‘jumped at me’, she carefully embraced me and our lips merged together like only lips could, pressing against one another as the softness of her lips was all he thought about, happiest night of my life. But sadly, it was all going to be short lived, that morning I woke up in a room I didn’t remember, with Alicia beside me covered by the blankets as we carefully remained close together, our bodies carefully embraced as we remained against each other, our flesh touching together in a place in time where it all seemed to have stopped; the war, the worry, the desperation. . . The fear. But reality had a funny way to remind you that it exists, like a wrecking ball that bubble of perfection busted entirely as Military Police came in the room, busting the door open so loudly that my ears had mistaken it for a gunshot I came rolling down off the bed instantly and onto the floor and once I saw what it was I instantly stood not bothering to cover myself as Alicia did the same with the blankets as she stared at me and the marines, her eyes wide and big, filled with fear.
“What is this!?” Taylor exclaimed, obviously he outranked the two Sergeants before him and only by a little, but still, he demanded to know why. So the Marines told him. “Sir, briefing, is called, Tango-Bravo must report on duty, ASAP.” So all colour drained from Taylor’s face, duty called; reality called, bubble busted and perfection shattered, he glanced back at Alicia, who was still confused and frightened and he mouthed an I’m sorry to her.
Taylor quickly gathered his uniform, dressed, fixed himself and exited through the door with the troopers essentially leaving Alicia behind, confused and now both afraid for Taylor and filled with anger. And it was obvious, once they were in the briefing room, the images of New Lanelli being attacked were shown to the troopers as then, the CO of the UNSC forces in Sargasso – Colonel. Matthew Stratton – began to speak.
“This is New Lanelli, I’m sure some of you may have heard about it, for those who didn’t it doesn’t matter, this is one of our homes, one of our planets, human dirt under conquest and we know what kind of conquest is that. . . We cannot let them burn off one more of our god forsaken planets. So, gear up boys, you’re going down to hell.”
And so it was official, we were leaving Sargasso and only one thing was left for me to do; that night, before our departure I went to see Alicia, she was angry at me, properly tossed everything her home had at me she even hit a couple shots on me, maybe she could’ve been a good shot if she tried, but she kept repeating I hate you! And I don’t want to see you again! So I just did what I had to do, and I left through the door, I didn’t think that. . . That was going to be the last time I saw her.
And so we left, with destination plotted, course figured on the star charts, and so we entered the cryo tubes and commenced the long suspension of reality as my thoughts and dreams were of her, everything there was, was a reddish hue that moved with the wind, her hair the most beautiful thing that would distinguish everything in my dreams, it was the main plate and discussion of my thoughts. Until we were awakened by the shipboard AI of the Marathon-class heavy cruiser, UNSC Long is the Night, only to see that the planet was already covered in fire and an empty lifeless volcano in the middle of space, there was nothing here, not even the Covenant, no transmissions coming in or out, just ghosts and echoes; millions dead and for what? Some empty sense of faith? We however, mourned, and moved on once again heading into the long sleep, suspending ourselves in the Cryo-chambers from all reality.
Until we were awakened again, above the colony of Ballast, dated January 21st, 2547 only to heard the news on orbit, just as we awaken and we see the lists of planets attacked and deceased during our suspension and there it was. . . I almost fainted, I almost cried as I lost all strength from my feet as my gut felt like it had been ripped out and my heart shattered into million little pieces; that if Diego hadn’t been there I would have fallen to the ground easily.
“No. . . Alicia, please, no. . .” Sargasso attacked only but a few months prior, her name resided in the grand list of deceased of the colony, a giant sense of regret fell on me, it was overwhelming. “I shouldn’t have just left. . .” was all that I could manage.
November 2nd, 2552, 0540 Hours; We found ourselves fighting tirelessly for the planet of Tribute fighting for seven days straight in firefights that never seemed to end we encountered ourselves in the city of Casbah, on the main spaceport as we fought Jiralhanae by incrementing waves and grand amounts of Sangheili and standard Covenant cannon fodder, the remainder of Gamma-November being entirely just me and three others as well a small remainder of Spartan-IIIs and E4/BAG/2/8’s, Diego had died just a couple hours ago, as well as a huge portion of my team and I just refused to let this tire me, to exceed my mark and just sit down and cry in a corner – that’s what my body wanted – but I didn’t cave in, these bastards had taken so much from us and I wasn’t going to let them take this planet either as long as I drew breath, as long as I held a rifle in my hand and as long as just one speck of soil remained in the world, I was going to fight until a stray flash of plasma says otherwise, until a stray flash of plasma pierced through my skull and melted my face entirely, until death delivered me to absent friends and love.
“I’m on my last mag!” Alberto would scream on the field just outside the spaceport, covered only by debris and wreckage. “Me too!” Fernando would yell from across him. “It doesn’t matter! We fight! Even if we have to use sticks and stones against the poor bastards! We will fight!”
We only continued fighting, giving them everything we had until suddenly, everything became slow, everything paced down to a minimum as I saw a glimpse of something weird. . . A Jiralhanae Chieftain impaling a Sangheili straight through with his hammer, it started like a domino effect, confusion ran haywire as we fought, it was a war on many fronts and everything was a target.
“Push forward! Push, push them back!” Taylor barked across the COMs as they got out of cover. Pushing forward, weapons aimed high as every shot hit something or someone.
Spartans and Marines fought along with us, many of them falling along with us it was slaughter but it wasn’t long until I saw something, a bright flash of green, at the last second coming straight towards us, there was nothing I could do, I only tossed myself to the side and hoped for the best – but the sheer force of the explosion sent me flying to the side, being covered all over by that green, molten fuel that composed those fiery green rods, I hit myself against the nearest piece of debris planted in the ground, a piece of concrete wall as my head landed right against it, I then fell on the ground with a loud thud and I took a few last glances at the fight that raged on around me as everything became blurry, everything became cloudy lights flying across my sight then. . . Everything went pitch black.
21st of August, 2557
Light slowly came back to me, consciousness still wavering as I laid on the black, dusty dirt covered in snow which had been contaminated of its beautiful colour with colours of red and black, it had been a trap and they were lured straight into it by the New Colonial Alliance, Mack and Rogers dead their bodies roasting with amok and smoke as Egerton groaned Hogans not far from him entirely motionless; he figured he had suffered the same fate as his two other teammates, there was, however, a sharp pain in his body as he tried to move, the explosion had been so close to him and he laid motionless there as he only emitted sounds through his helmet, his eyes moving around frantically as he regained consciousness, enough to slowly move and begin to drag himself away in the dirt, his arms in pain just as much as the remainder of his body; but one thing bothered him more of everything else that could possibly bother him in this moment, right now.
He couldn’t feel his legs. . . So he continued to drag himself in a futile attempt of an escapade, as he began hearing other voices, laughter, even wheezing as the very thing that the CMA had taught him he put in practice; to drag himself across the dirt like a pig, he did not dare look behind him, he didn’t want to put much thought on his legs, everything that surrounded him until a figure approached him slowly, he could hear the steps on the dirt as he continued to drag himself away he only but intended to go faster despite the pain this caused him until at the very last second he felt a kick in his gut which caused him to turn over his helmet’s visor cracked entirely, alerts all over his HUD painted in reddish hue, there was still a massive amount of pain that spiked here and so he screamed in pain as his voice was muffled by the helmet he wore. He felt as if his gut had shot out of his body and his ribs were totalled.
“Looking for this?” The woman who stood before him spoke with a sneer of disgust towards the man who dragged himself before her, a large pool of blood that led to him before him being created solely by a funny fact, a funny fact that this woman held in her hand; an armoured leg that had been entirely severed from someone’s body. . . He didn’t know whose leg that was. . . But then he looked down slowly and everything he saw was that trail of blood that led to him, and his missing leg while the other was entirely shattered and dismembered, thus pain spiked through his body as the realisation came and the adrenaline wore off as the man began to scream in pain.
The woman unclipped her M6C magnum amidst screams and whine, aimed the gun straight at the man’s head and squeezed the trigger as the loud bang overcame everything there was, which silenced everything in the surroundings for what seemed an eternity and then the birds flew away flapping their wings and another shot followed, then another.
“Disgusting..” The woman spoke with a sneer as she spat on the dirt nonchalantly, then aimed the gun at Hogans and finished him off as well with a single shot to the head from where she stood, then she casts a glance to everyone else who stood there watching, and raised a brow. “Are we not gonna clean this?” She said nonchalantly.
She clipped her Magnum pistol onto her holster on her thigh and began to walk away from the bodies, as she left everything that they had done behind her, those bodies lying in the dirt as everything returned to a sense of normality around the location, not hesitating to leave behind these bodies as a remnant of forgotten history, as a remnant of a war fought, as an apathetic monument of hell. So were they called Helljumpers.
I guess the war had finally caught up to me. . . I had been destined for this all along because the war found me.