AN: I do not own Halo or Strike Witches as those belong to their respective owners.


1750 Hours, January 27th, 2548 (Military Calendar)

Deployment+ 127 hours:56 minutes:45.09 seconds (Sgt. Aldrina Clark Mission Clock)
Agrippina II, Agrippina System

Sergeant Aldrina Clark of the 101st Shock Troop Division, hugged the wall as close as she could her M34 Cougar Striker Units making as little noise as possible as she steadily advanced towards the avenue at the end of this alley. Given that the Covenant weren't a friendly bunch, she was well protected and armed with her upper torso was clad in a dark grey body glove with the smokey black armor plates of the Orbital Drop Shock Troopers complete with a full face helmet that had a dark blue visor, while clutched within her grip was an M60 Gauss Autocannon, a large yet sleek weapon that fired 15x75mm tungsten projectiles from a 60-round casket magazine at a rate of 5-rounds per second with a muzzle velocity of just over 2-km/s.

Privates Amina La Bianca and Hae Yujin, another two witches also wearing Cougar Strikers covered her back, armored and armed in a similar fashion to her. Behind them came a full squad of seven ODSTs, armed with a variety of weaponry ranging from M20/S Submachine Guns, to a M391 Designated Marksman Rifle, to an M739 SAW, a single M319, and finally a single M57 Pilum. They all knew what their objective was a Covenant Mega-Turret that was threatening Air Superiority across a radius of 2,500-kilometers and ground forces starting at 150-kilometers up to 2,500-kilometers out. The thing needed to be gone and they had been the only unit close enough to this monstrosity that could do it quickly.

She only hoped that they could kill it quickly and that there wasn't a particularly heavy Covenant force protecting the stupid thing. Mainly because they didn't have the forces to get bogged down in a pitched battle. She winced as the Mega Turret fired with a crackling roar and spat a purple plasma bolt that glowed like a miniature sun, casting the alley in harsh purple light and causing the temperature to spike dozens of degrees, she would have to get the hearing for her familiar's ears checked too as well as probably her mundane ears too.

She came up to the end of the alley and pulled out a fiber optic probe and connected it to the back of her helmet, then carefully snaked it around the corner. She frowned, there was a major Covenant presence here, numerous squads of Elites, Jackals, and Grunts along with a couple units of Brutes meandered about on their patrols along with a Hunter pair, there were several mounted Plasma Cannons, along with one Wraiths and three Covenant tanks that had a lengthened chassis and an actual turret sporting a lethal looking cannon, Halas.

Aldrina's frown turned into a painful grimace, with those Covie tanks as well as the Hunters, they needed to hit this thing hard and fast. Mainly because it was a known fact that the Wraiths and Halas along with Hunters were witch killers, they were legendary for butchering witch units just as easily as mundane infantry units because of the sheer firepower that they had at their disposal.

She looked across the street and spotted the other team, centered on Staff Sergeant White and her M35 Mako TD Striker Units, along with Sergeant Belladonna and Privates Jasmine Beckett and Betina O'Connor in Cougar Strikers, along with another squad of ODSTs. Immediately she flashed a set of hand signals indicating that her unit was in position as well as the size and composition of the enemy unit.

Immediately Staff Sergeant White flashed her a set of hand signals in response confirming the count on her end. Then she held up five fingers and slowly counted down, when she formed a fist, the radio crackled. "All units, break radio silence! Dynamic! Dynamic! Dynamic!" White roared as she gunned her Strikers which let out a throaty roar and started alien cries rose up.

"Team Hammerhead, Dynamic! Dynamic! Dynamic!"Aldrina shouted into TEAMCOM and kicked her Strikers into gear, they roared and began accelerating, she wheeled out of cover and brought her M60 up and opened fire. The weapon was silent in its discharge, but the sonic booms from the 15mm steel jacketed tungsten carbide projectiles reverberates through the street causing windows to shatter as Grunts and Jackals are ripped apart by the magic enhanced rounds that tear into them. Aldrina's first target however is different from the first targets of her subordinates, it is an Elite Ultra, her first burst of rounds connects with it, causing the alien to stagger, breaking its shields with a visible spark. It gets halfway through an enraged yet surprised roar when Aldrina's next burst tears the alien in two amid an explosion of purple gore.

SMGs, DMRs, and SAWs start popping, cracking, and bellowing their various battle cries an avalanche of 4.6mm and 7.62x51mm caseless rounds streak forth. Cutting Grunts and Jackals down in sprays of luminescent blue and black, sowing chaos among those aliens while at the same time forcing the Brutes and Elites to find better cover, before they opened fire. Plasma bolts, crystalline needles, glowing hot metallic spikes and rods streaked towards them.

The Wraith swung around, its plasma mortar glowing hot as it built up charge to hurl a lethal comet of energy that didn't give a rat's ass about the shields that a witch could conjure.

Then White's 30mm Combination Gun spoke, a great thunderclap of noise that shattered all the remaining windows and pierced the din of battle with its ringing report, the round punched clean through the armor, pulped the crew, and penetrated one of the fuel tanks for the plasma reactor. The vehicle came to a halt, White immediately put another shot into the vehicle and its right anti-gravity pod shattered in an explosion of Covenant nanolaminate, ceramics, and electronics. The Wraith's gravity drive gave a high pitched whine before with a muffled boom that resonated deeply within the hull of the mortar tank, it gave out which caused the tank to crash heavily to the ground and then the alien machine promptly brewed up with a roar as the spilled fuel reached its ignition point and ignited, crackling purple-blue flames hungrily began consuming vehicle.

Plasma crashed against her shield as Aldrina frantically reloaded as one of the Type-27 Shades, not a Plasma Cannon joined the fray, a spray of energy bolts came scything in. Almost immediately, an ODST let out a horrible gurgling scream as he fell, his arm and a good portion of his torso missing. Beckett and O'Connor had their weapons go cyclic at the fixed weapon emplacement -blasted rookies fresh out of boot- unleashing a spray of projectiles at the Shade, due to the chaos and the recoil however, only a fraction of the rounds impacted. Still, to Aldrina's shock, the shielding held firm against the rounds that did strike it as the weapon fired another burst.

"Damn, the Covenant have increased the strength of the shielding for the Type-27s! Boss, we need to f-" O'Connor was saying then, amid a whump followed by a terrified scream from O'Connor, it dissolved into static amid a loud explosion, but almost immediately Beckett cried out in shock, horror, fear, and sadness.

"Holy shit!" Aldrina found herself shouting as the remains of O'Connor's body, nearly unrecognizable as even being human due to being partially incinerated, along with her mostly melted Striker Units was thrown backwards past her position.

Beckett and O'Connor had advanced too far forwards during the opening moments of the battle and O'Connor had her cheerful and youthful life, something that had brought happiness to Aldrina to see something like the Actium-born witch on the frontlines of this godforsaken war, snuffed out in an instant.

"Someone frag those Hunters!" Someone yelled as the monsters discharged their assault cannons again, then Aldrina cursed as more plasma swept across her shield while the thundering overpressure from the detonations sent her staggering.

White fired and Aldrina's jaw dropped as the 15mm tungsten carbide dart that the 30mm APFSDS rounds her weapon fired impact the Hunter's shield and a round that could core a Wraith, just punched a pockmark into that shield. "Jesus!" she yelps at the sight of it, before hurriedly shaking off her shock and aiming carefully at one of the Shades that was relentlessly pounding their position. But before she could, the Covenant stationary gun exploded as the discharge of a rocket hit her ears.

One of the Halas fired and Aldrina watched in horror as the concentrated plasma bolt ripped past Bianca's battered shields like it wasn't there and then explode in a hellish detonation that consumed both her and her strikers in an instant. For the briefest of moments, Aldrina thought she heard this terrible wail of agony from the Skopje-born witch before she was forever silenced. When the plasma vanished, all that remained was several twisted scraps of armor, a few pieces of carbonized skeleton, and what may have once been part of the foci matrix.

The other Hala fired and Aldrina watched in mute fasication as her Staff Sergeant's partially dismembered body was hurled back easily a dozen meters, her weapon shattered, armor glowing a dull orange, her right arm and left leg along with its striker unit gone, and her remaining striker unit had been reduced to a mostly slagged mess from the plasma round that had detonated against her shields with so much force it nearly broke them, allowing the detonation on par with a 90mm FS-HE-FRAG round to break them and maim the witch behind said shields. White's dying screams of agony filled the airwaves as she came to rest, convulsing violently from the pain that was likely all consuming as she quickly faded away, her screams stopping a couple of seconds after she came to rest.

Gauss autocannon fire sparkled across the armor of the lead Hala, punching dents and pockmarks into it, but they weren't penetrating its armor, the M60 just wasn't up for the job. Then an 85mm rocket crashed against the frontal armor and the Hala's notably thinner frontal armor reared its ugly head for the tank exploded like a bomb in a searing heat and light of a plasma reactor breach that annihilated easily twenty Grunts and three Elites, it also sent one of the Hunters staggering, revealing its midsection.

Aldrina raised her shaking Gauss Autocannon and aimed at the Hunter, her aim was wavering heavily from her shaking hands but she knew that she couldn't miss. Steadying her aim as much as was feasibly possible despite her fear, she fired and the hypervelocity rounds ripped through the thin yet durable and flexible nanolaminate weave that protected the midsection and neck of all Hunters. Tiny worms were shredded and it seemed like an explosion of orange gore erupted out of the alien's back as her well aimed burst practically tore the massive alien two.

The dying scream of the Hunter while it was nearly lost in the chaos of battle, it was still a sound that brought a smile to Aldrina's face as she quickly reloaded. However, the enraged scream of the other Hunter was less than welcoming. "Someone hurry up with fragging that thing!" Aldrina shouted as she gestured at the massive hulking alien, marking it as a priority target.

Instantly two submachine guns, a M319 Grenade Launcher, and two Gauss Autocannons were turned on the alien brute. Ordnance and bullets slammed into the alien's shield to little effect which fired its assault cannon in retribution and the ensuing blast reduced a barricade along with three ODSTs, an entire fireteam to ash before they could scream. Then the alien glared at her in particular and a baleful green glow built in the maw of the cannon, frantic, Aldrina shifted her aim and fired at the charging assault cannon.

The casing of the Hunter's Assault Cannon was armored sufficiently to protect it from most small arms fire, indeed, in order to penetrate the casing of a Hunter's Assault Cannon, you would at the very least need an SRS-99 with its heavy 14.5x114mm rounds. The M60 Gauss Autocannon that Aldrina fired at it most certainly packed firepower similar to those two weapons and that was before her rounds were enhanced by her magic, thus they easily penetrated the casing and shattered the delicate internal mechanisms.

An instant later the Hunter attempted to fire its weapon, instead of discharging a glowing green blob of death at supersonic velocities towards Aldrina, the entire assembly exploded and the massive alien let out an unholy screech of agony as the entire arm that mounted the Assault Cannon was blown apart as the end of its arm became the center of a large detonation that rivalled that of a light plasma mortar. Dozens of worms within the alien simply burst into flame and the massive beast collapsed convulsing in pain.

Then the remaining Hala fired and next thing Aldrina knew she had been thrown at least three meters to the right and then was going head over heels as the sound of a catastrophic explosion hammered the delicate hearing of her familiar, replacing it with a constant incessant ringing. She shook her head as the world spun around her, gunfire and screams were filtering in through the audio receptors in her helmet and her comms, she heard the choom of a rocket firing. She tried to focus and stand, but her vision was blurry while her balance didn't seem right either; growling she focused her magic and after several long seconds everything popped back into focus.

She looked for her M60 but couldn't find it, Aldrina snarled in frustration when she realized that she must have dropped it or it had somehow contrived to go sailing off in some random direction when she had been sent flying. She reached down and palmed a portion of her Striker Unit, roughly where an M6 Magnum would be if she wore regular battle armor, with a hiss it popped open and she grabbed the butt of the weapon contained within and pulled out an M20/S, the weapon was bulkier than a regular M20 due to the integrated silencers on each of its four barrels along with an ACOG scope with integrated Smartlink capability and backup iron sights in-case something happened to the smartlink and ACOG.

Then she took in her surroundings, both Halas were now down as were both Shades and the Wraith. But there were still several Elites and Brutes up, she raised her SMG and activated the 2x smart-link on it, the world zoomed forwards, she sighted a Brute that was in the process of leaning out of cover to fire a burst from its rifle and fired a four-round burst. Immediately, the trigger pull sent a series of electrical pulses from the battery pack built-into the butt of the weapon went to the first 4.6mm round out of twenty that were stacked end-to-end in each barrel. That pulse activated the plasma cartridge that was built into the base of the propellant block that partially encased the ammunition, the ensuing release of plasma ignited the propellant in a electro-thermal-chemical (ETC) reaction, propelling the gliding metal jacketed round forth at a little under a thousand meters per second.

Thanks to a combination of the round's sheer velocity along with her magic, Aldrina took grim satisfaction as the Brute staggered backwards from the impacts and began to stare down at its chest like the dumb gorilla it was, she knew that the fucker was likely wondering where the quartet of three inch diameter holes in its chest had come from before the lights went out and the alien dropped. She disengaged the zoom function and plotted out a path to move up.

Engaging her Striker Units, she moved forwards and frowned as the motors powering the four wheels on her left Striker gave out a high-pitched whine in protest. Something was wrong with the unit, but she had no time to run a maintenance check on the thing to find the problem, not when plasma was still flying.

That's when her sensitive ears picked out one particular sound over TEAMCOM, crying. A quick glance confirmed that it was Jasmine Beckett. She plotted a path to her position, noting that the Covenant were being pushed back heavily now. Then Aldrina moved, plasma bolts seared past and crashed against her shield.

A pull of the trigger caused her M20 to belch tungsten and a Jackal's shield failed, allowing her follow up burst to practically pulverise its upper body. Moments later a burst of pink needles crashed against her shield and shattered in pink puffs. The alien responsible, an Elite was ducking back into cover behind a concrete barricade. Aldrina snarled and pulled a grenade from her belt, thumbed it the activation switch and threw it, the M9 sailed through the air and landed on the wrong side of the barricade where it detonated.

The fragmentation caused part of the barricade to splinter and knocked the Elite flat on its ass as its shields flared brilliantly then dimmed. A DMR gave a hearty boom and the Elite which was in the process of standing had its head blown apart by the 7.62mm Saboted Light Armor Penetrator (SLAP) round that cut through its shield and armor.

A massive Brute roared as it fired upon her with its plasma rifle, a literal avalanche of fiery pinkish-red plasma tore through the air towards her. Immediately her shield sprang into existence and the burst of plasma splashed across her shield. In retaliation she raised her M20 and unleashed a long burst, the Brute Major's shields flashed and flickered before failing with an electric spark, then her rounds shattered upon its armor, causing the heavy plates to deform to an alarming degree and the massive gorilla roared in pain as several rounds penetrated its armor and knocked it flat on its ass. Not giving it a chance to recover, Aldrina threw a grenade at the wounded alien, it detonated with a thunderclap and shredded the Brute.

Then she was behind cover at Beckett's position, the Covenant were practically folding now under the onslaught that the ODSTs were unleashing. Aldrina blinked in surprise, Beckett had probably just taken her helmet off, her sandy brown hair was matted to her head and tears traced tracks down her face from her icy blue eyes.

"She's gone." she whispered quietly, her voice rough due to tears. "Betina was my best friend. It's weird, she was one of the few Striker-unit certified native Actium witches who was apart of the Actium Colonial Guard that survived the siege of the planet, most of them went with the 53rd Armored Division to their deaths to strike that blow against the Covenant where they destroyed the landing zones. Yet she had also made it plain during training that she wasn't a fan of the United Earth Government or the United Nations Space Command, but somehow myself, an Earth-born witch and very much Pro-UEG had managed to befriend her." she gestured over to where Betina's twisted body lay on the street. "Very first deployment, she gets killed and I am still here. What did I do to deserve this fate?" Jasmine finishes as she puts her head in her hands and begins sobbing in earnest.

"Nothing," Aldrina says sharply, Jasmine immediately snaps her head up as her familiar's ears -that of a bear- twitch forwards slightly, indicating all of her attention is currently directed at Aldrina. "What happened regarding Betina was nothing but bad luck, it's something that I am well experienced with. But right now, lets avenge her by killing all of these bastards and blowing up the Mega Turret." she says.

Beckett takes several deep breaths. "What could I do to help?" she asks, as her hand grips her M60.

"Put your helmet back on for a start and get back on your feet. Then follow me." Aldrina says as she pats her back reassuringly.

With a hiss, Beckett's helmet slides back on and then, with help from Aldrina gets back on her feet. Aldrina then reloads her SMG, the mostly spent box of ammunition ejecting out of her SMG like a spent round were to eject out of a break-action shotgun. She rams home a new box of ammunition and closes her weapon, locking it in-place and the ammunition counter resets to 80. "Let's go." she says and Beckett nods.

Strikers roaring, they rush to catch up with the surviving ODSTs and witches. "There you two are, I was afraid you two would miss the real fun." Staff Sergeant Matias Naron of Alpha squad snarked.

"Nah, we wouldn't miss it Sergeant." Aldrina says eagerly, she had actually never been in one of these things before and wanted to know what it was like to be inside of one.

"Good, we've suffered major losses trying to assault this thing, seven dead ODSTs and three dead witches. So let's get into this thing and do what us ODSTs do best, take no prisoners in a fullbore close quarters assault. So let's go get these bastards!" Matias boomed out.

"OORAH!" The remaining ODSTs chanted in response.

Matias barked out rapid-fire orders. They were going to split into two teams, the witches slung their M60s and pulled their M20s, being used as the spearhead for the opening moments of the assault. It was honestly making Aldrina nervous, she glanced at Beckett and saw through her stance that she was determined.

"Aldrina, you take Beckett with your assault team, I am taking Yujin." Sergeant Belladonna snapped at her, Aldrina shook herself out of her stupor. "Yes ma'am, Sergeant!" she replied out of instinct, remembering that Belladonna had about five or six campaigns worth of experience over her.

She looked at Beckett. "You ready?" she asked.

"Yes Sergeant, I am." Beckett replied seemingly on instinct, though her M20 was wavering slightly, her nerves weren't completely calmed.

The entrance into the Mega Turret was via an elevator, each one of the four massive legs had one. Stepping inside the massive construct and onto the elevator, Aldrina found that her heart was racing as their specialist on Covenant iconography figured out where the "up" button was. With a soft hum the elevator shot upwards into the depths of the alien weapon, the whole platform shook as a deep rumbling roar shook the elevator.

Aldrina staggered. "Good lord, I think that Mega-Turret just fired." she says as the bone-rattling thunder from the discharge of the alien plasma artillery piece begins to die down.

"Let's put a stop to it then and give our boys some breathing room." An ODST in the back said with a sharp nod.

The elevator hummed and began to slow. "Prepare for contact!" Aldrina barked sharply as she checked her M20 and resynched her HUD's crosshairs back to her weapon's iron sights, just like basic had taught her. It was funny she mused, her time in basic training seemed like so long ago now, yet some of the things she had learned in basic that had at the time seemed unnecessary had wound up saving her life on more than one occasion.

The elevator continued to slow and a door began to enter her field of vision. Aldrina prepared herself to come out swinging, she had never been in one of these before, but had heard rumors that there typically wasn't much in terms of defenses inside Mega Turrets, but what few internal defenses these Mega Turrets did have were well setup.

Three… two… one… Aldrina thought as the elevator came to a stop, a humming chime played, the central wheel piece turned and the door split open into three distinct parts, sliding away to reveal…

One very shocked looking squad of Covenant, ten Grunts with an Elite Minor and Major leading them. The two groups stared at each other for several long moments, then the Elite Major bellowed something that sounded awfully similar to the tone that a Sergeant would use to spur Marines or Troopers that were gawking at something into action.

"Let them have it!" Aldrina yelled as all hell broke loose.

The Elite Major raised a Plasma Repeater and the Minor almost instantly leveled a plasma rifle at the group while the Grunts frantically raised their plasma pistols and needlers. The ODSTs likewise brought their SMGs and the lone SAW up to firing position.

Gunfire and the discharge of alien weapons filled the elevator and corridor. Almost immediately Aldrina and Beckett raised their shields, plasma fire and needles splashed and bounced harmlessly off protecting not only themselves but the ODSTs that were behind them while allowing the humans to effortlessly cutdown the aliens and sow chaos among them.

Aldrina had a grim grin of satisfaction as she reloaded and then aimed at the Elite Major, the crosshairs on her HUD glowed red. Just as her finger caressed the trigger of her M20, the alien pulled something out and to her horror, a dazzling blue comet flew through the air towards them in an arch.

"GRENADE! BECKETT LOCK SHIELDS NOW!" Aldrina screamed on instinct as the SAW roared and the Elite Major toppled backwards.

Immediately the ODSTs pressed themselves as far from the lethal object as they could while Aldrina and Beckett closed ranks, till their shoulders rubbed up against each other, then they summoned their shields. Immediately, the strange arcane energies interacted with each other, pale blue shifting across the spectrum to a deep dark purple color as the shields meshed together, fortifying each other as they became whole.

The grenade landed, it pulsed and throbbed, then with a whine that almost quickly turned into a ear-rattling screech as it exploded, blue-white fire flashed into existence and the temperature in the elevator spiked severely as the shockwave crashed into them. Then it receded and went out, soon after the shields of the two witches collapsed.

Aldrina gasped for breath, the effort had left her more than a little drained. "Everyone okay?!" she called out after taking a long pull from the hydration bladder that had been built into the back of the pack that she wore. The water was refreshing as could be despite its warmness, her parched throat welcomed the relief that it granted her.

To her relief, all of the ODSTs answered, despite the shock that grenade had given them, everyone was still alive. "Right, let's fuck them up!" Aldrina cried as she checked her M20, then nodding at the ammunition left in its current box engaged the engine in her Striker Units and advanced into the hallway. Beckett right behind her, ODSTs following like ducklings. Already through the halls of the Mega Turret, gunfire and energy weapons dueled, the silence being further broken by hammering feet and snarling engines.

For the first five minutes as they wove their way through twisting corridors and up grav-lifts but didn't encounter the enemy, it began to grate on Aldrina's nerves.

That changed when they came around a corner, Aldrina was surprised to see a two story atrium in this thing. What was less welcoming was the high-pitched whine of a plasma cannon as an avalanche of plasma bolts streaked at them as a Grunt of all things shouted in english with a harsh metallic voice. "Shoot Em!"

"SHIELDS!" Aldrina barked on instinct and two glittering pale blue runic circles flashed into existence just in time for plasma bolts to crash against them. "ODSTs find cover and let's kick their asses!" she continued as she raised her M20.

On the motion tracker, the ODSTs scattered and got behind cover as Covenant security teams poured into the rooms. SMGs and SAW opened fire, aliens fell screeching in pain as blood spurted from wounds.

Aldrina raised her SMG and aimed at one of the plasma cannons as she went evasive, making herself a harder target. The sight glowed red and she pulled the trigger, letting out a long burst at the Grunt Heavy that was manning the weapon, the alien's head seemingly exploded in a detonation of gore. She then put another burst into the weapon itself and sparks exploded out of the weapon as plasma coils shattered, spraying blue-white fluid everywhere.

Crackle!

Aldrina yelped as an overcharged plasma pistol shot swept by her, the air unleashing a disconcerting crackle as it shot past. Her M20 barked its fury as needles crashed against her shield and the Grunt responsible for the overcharge bolt went flying as its methane tank ignited.

An ODST on her HUD had his vitals go erratic suddenly and Aldrina snapped around just in time to see the man burst open like a plum that had been stepped on in a blinding pink explosion, sending fragments of armor, splintered bone, blood, and gore everywhere.

Aldrina stared at the man's remains and only remembered that she had a job to do when a sickly green plasma bolt crashed into her shoulder pauldron and sent her staggering, causing the armor piece to glow orange and white at the impact point. As she struggled to remain standing through the searing heat and pain that was coming from her shoulder, an alert flashed across her HUD:

RIGHT SHOULDER PAULDRON INTEGRITY AT 35%

That spurred a thought in her mind, danger. She spun and brought her shield up just in time to block a burst of electric blue energy bolts. Her M20 roared its challenge and the sparkling will o' wisps of indigo encased an Elite Major as it dove back into cover. Aldrina spat angrily at the sight, these bastards were good.

The air crackled again, more violently this time as a sustained burst from a plasma repeater shot past her as it streaked towards the ODSTs. Reloading her M20 frantically she aimed at the Grunt Heavy wielding the massive weapon and fired a burst, her weapon unleashing a loud braaap and causing the alien to topple backwards amid a gout of flame, another discharge from her SMG put the Repeater out of action.

More plasma and needles flew, the battle seemingly blurred into a kaleidoscope of images and noise, more than once another alert flashed across her HUD saying something about how an armor plate had been hit. An Elite fell to her SMG, reduced to shredded corpse by a long burst.

Another ODST toppled backward, his visor replaced with a smoking crater. Swearing Aldrina, while keeping up the fire at the aliens swept into a position to better cover the ODSTs with her shield.

Beckett swore as an overcharge plasma bolt broke her shield and allowed a plasma rifle bolt to clip her helmet, sending her tumbling to the ground yelling and swearing in the pain. Covering fire from the ODSTs there intensified and the aliens couldn't capitalize on it. The Earth-born witch yanked her ruined helmet off and quickly donned a pair of tactical goggles before resuming her bloody work.

Then just as suddenly as the firefight began, it was over. The last alien was tossed several meters by the detonation of a HE-FRAG grenade from the team's grenadier. Someone began to say something about who was still alive when something caught her attention, Beckett who had just come back down from the second floor via a gravity lift, suddenly staggered and nearly fell as if something had bumped into her. But there was nothing there, so how could she had staggered like that?

Dread and fear suddenly wormed its way into Aldrina's stomach when she saw that Beckett's expression morphed from one of tirednesses to one of horror and fear. Beckett began back-pedalling as she screeched "COMMANDOS! SWITCH TO THERMALS!" in a voice that contained sickening dread and pants-darkening terror.

A moment later an Elite in midnight black armor plates and a steel colored skinsuit, with a full face helmet that had been modeled to give him the appearance of a snarling warrior with thin glowing purple visor, materialized as its active camouflage peeled away from it like a thin film. The massive alien immediately capitalized on the shock and fear that the ODSTs were probably feeling and pounced towards Beckett with a tremendous roaring battle cry! One hand of the massive alien was suddenly grasping the hilt of an energy Energy Sword, the massive twin-pronged blade snapping into existence with a loud hiss as the superheated plasma sprang forth.

The 14-year old Earth-born shrieked in mortal terror as she back-pedaled, instinctively putting her M20 up to block the lethal swing! "Beckett, don't block with your weapon use a shield wrapped around your forearm!" Aldrina yelled, but Jasmine even if she had heard her, there was no time for Jasmine to correct her error.

The plasma blade sliced through the M20 and then through Beckett with contemptuous ease, with a ringing clang, Jasmine's armored torso fell to the ground in two pieces, the plasma blade having sliced through her from roughly halfway between her shoulder and neck to somewhere above her waist.

An ice cold fist of sorrow clenched its fingers around Aldrina's heart as she heard Jasmine's final few gurgled words over the comms and they were not those of an Orbital Drop Shock Trooper but instead of a terrified and fatally injured little girl calling for her mother. Aldrina was vaguely aware of additional gunfire and plasma bolts being exchanged between the remaining ODSTs and the Covenant Special Operations Team, because something simply snapped within her. With a level of calmness despite the sheer rage she was feeling at the Elite Commando that had just sliced in Beckett in two, she attached her M20 SMG to the magplate on the back of her armor and then her hand went to her waist where it clasped upon the hilt of the sword she carried with her, a heavy Spatha.

"En garde, you bastard!" Aldrina spat in rage as she yanked the sword free of its scabbard with a metallic ring that sang through the air as she powered towards the alien, channeling her magic into the sword and causing the runes built into the weapon to light up while she focused her magic heavily on her forearm.

The Elite brought its plasma sword to bear and swung, the two blades clashed together with a sound that was indescribable, the alien shoved with its blade and sent her stagger back then swung. Immediately her forearm came up and the blade crashed against the magic encasing the limb, but the force of the blow was such that it caused her arm to shake violently and rattled her teeth.

Not missing a beat, Aldrina thrust forwards with her Spatha in a lightning quick counter-thrust that skittered off the Elite's shields but made them flare with energy and caused the alien to reel. A follow-up slash however was deflected effortlessly by the Elite but before it could capitalize on the opening, Aldrina outright punched the alien with her free arm and the blow sent the alien staggering, which gave the witch enough time to bring her guard back up.

In the next moment, however, the Elite had a plasma pistol in its free hand, it was a version that she had never seen before being sleeker looking with an actual barrel that contained a malevolent glow within its maw. "OH SHIT!" Aldrina yelled as with a flash of green light the weapon discharged and the blob of green energy smashed into her torso causing her to stagger backwards.

An alarm flashed across her HUD as pain erupted across her torso:

WARNING - ABDOMINAL PLATE INTEGRITY AT CRITICAL LEVELS!

Aldrina gritted her teeth, feeling the heat from the energy bolt searing her abdomen, blistering and sunburning her severely. She knew from painful experience that the next plasma bolt would penetrate the armor plate and then she'd be on the floor shrieking in agony. That couldn't happen, she wouldn't let it happen.

She swung at the Elite's head with her Spatha and when the energy sword blocked the blow, she lashed out with her free hand and batted the pistol away from her abdomen just as it discharged. A very unpleasant sounding alarm began screeching in her helmet as a loud muted explosion came from one of her Striker Units as the plasma bolt drilled through its relatively thick hide and tore through relatively fragile wiring, foci crystals, and other things were all incinerated or melted by the energy bolt, finally stopping at 2cm of Titanium-A2 Battleplate that protected the equipment responsible for generating the magical pocket dimension that her leg currently resided in. Bluish white flames along with orange flames belched from the molten-ring lined hole that the energy bolt had punched into her Striker Unit, indicating that the unit was effectively screwed.

The alien lashed out with its energy sword in rage but this time instead of blocking with her magically shielded arm, she blocked with her Spatha and then back pedalled quickly to get some space as with her Neural Lace is switched ejection modes on her right Striker Unit. She then raised her right leg, the Striker Unit was still spewing flames that the plasma bolt had created, then she yanked at the unit's emergency release. It should be noted that the M34 Cougar Striker Unit was 1.2-meters tall, about a meter long, and a half meter wide with a weight of about 250-pounds. When that release was pulled, the emergency ejection systems caused the magic pocket dimension that encased her leg to act in such a manner that it launched the Striker Unit clean off Aldrina's leg with an acceleration of 7-m/s^2 over the course of two seconds without actually hurting her foot or leg..

The Striker Unit caught the surprised Elite square in the chest with a force equal to a 20th century .50-caliber round, causing its shields blow out with an electrical flash and knock the alien flat on its back. Aldrina knew that she would only have one maybe two lunges before she expected herself to lose her balance and fall to the floor where she would be helpless.

Thus when the Sangheili actually threw the Striker Unit at her like a javelin, it came as a total shock. On instinct, Aldrina conjured her shield and the flaming Cougar Striker Unit struck it and the ceramics, polymers, and titanium-tungsten alloy that made up the Striker crumpled like a tin can as it rebounded off her shield, a quarter-meter shorter in height as it landed a decent distance away.

The Elite's shield began recharging, glittering will o' wisps of energy washing over the alien's form. In that moment, Aldrina knew that she wouldn't be able to stand a chance if the Elite's shields recharged, she had to end this now.

She pushed off with all her strength in a single lunge, switching her sword to her off hand and sending her magic to help shield her dominat's hand forearm as she did so while the Elite swung its plasma sword at her, a lethal blade of focused plasma that could literally slice her in half. Her arm snapped up and she blocked the blow, but the Elite adjusted the trajectory of its strike at the last moment twisting its blade so that instead of a straight edge on hit, the blade impacted her forearm at angle.

The ringing impact nearly sapped her momentum and the blade slide back across her forearm towards the elbow, were the magic protecting it got weaker significantly. A tipping point was reached and the plasma blade penetrated her protection, slicing through armor and into flesh. Immediately the nerves around the point where the blade cut into her arm began dying way to fast for them to transmit any pain signals as the blade sliced through skin, muscle, ligaments, and tendons near her elbow joint, no blood splashed upon the floor as that same intense heat instantly cauterized the wound.

The Spatha unerring in its aim and glowing brilliantly with battle magic struck the Elite's recharging shield and for but a brief moment got into an argument, one that the energy shield promptly lost. The blade punched through the shielding and effortlessly penetrated the armor and skinsuit beyond, causing the Elite to gasp in surprise and pain as Aldrina sank her Spatha all the way to the hilt in the alien and then she twisted the blade. The energy sword clattered to the ground and its fail safes immediately activated, shutting the blade down.

Then to Aldrina's shock, the Elite spoke to her in a rasping voice that had the barest hint of a gurgle in it. "Well met Warrior." was all it said and then the Elite slid off her blade and fell to the floor with a heavy thud.

Then Aldrina lost all sense of balance and toppled backward herself, landing with a hefty sounding crash. She shook herself and then caught sight of her injured arm and had to force down a wave of revulsion. "Oh god," she breathed and began breathing deeply. "You've seen worse Aldrina, you've seen worse, it's not that bad." she muttered to herself in a reassuring tone.

Then she tried to push herself up with both hands and it felt like she was trying to push her hand through a pipe that was lined with razor blades and was on fire; she screamed loudly as a result as spots danced in her eyes as tears welled up. After several moments she fought her way through the pain and focused her natural magical ability, healing magic into the wound and the jagged razorblades and fire that was gripping her arm immediately began to vanish and some of the damage started knitting itself back together, but Aldrina knew from bitter experience that healing magic wouldn't be able to fix the entirety of the wound, at most she would gain partial motion in her wounded arm.

"You alright Aldrina?" An ODST asked her.

She shook her head, grateful that she had her visor polarized so that the man couldn't see her tears. "Not really, right arm is completely fucked. I think this mission is a bust." she rasped out through the pain.

"It is, Sergeant Belladonna just enacted emergency abort authority. We're going to pull back some 16 kilometers and then the Race Runner is going to level the area from orbit, it's going to put the ship at tremendous risk of being gutted by the turret, but we got no other alternative." The man said as he looked her over. "Can you walk Sergeant?" He asks as he pulls the emergency release and her remaining Striker Unit simply broke apart in such a fashion that she simply lifted her leg out of the debris and parts clattered to the floor.

"I need a hand getting up." Aldrina said weakly.

The ODST grunted and picked her up, then despite her protests began carrying her bridal style. Aldrina would've argued that she was fine and didn't need to be carried, but then she suddenly felt very weak and tired, she realized sourly that the fight against the Elite had left her on the verge of magic exhaustion. It was the only reason why she suddenly felt the way she did, not even fighting the fatigue that was now crashing against her as consistently as the ocean beating against the seashore. Thus she rested her head against the chestplate of the ODST that was carrying her and within a few moments was fast asleep, blissfully unaware of her surroundings as she dozed off and her dreams were filled of happier times and memories.