Summary

Fourteen years of warfare against the Locust Swarm has left the world of Sera broken and scarred. The Coalition of Governments and humanity as a whole has been pushed to the breaking point. For Gears Marcus Fenix and Dom Santiago, there is no hope left, only death. However, the arrival of an ancient and forgotten force might change all that. However, only time will tell if these newcomers are angels of salvation... or harbingers of death.

Introduction

Hello, and welcome to the story!

Today's story is actually a request from a reader of mine (at least, I think they are…) christinedbadia5, who sent me a PM in September of 2019, back when Kat and Emile from Halo: Reach were being added as multiplayer skins to Gears of War 5. Essentially what christinedbadia5 was asking was for me to write a crossover story revolving around that idea.

First off, I want to state that I normally don't do request. I find that trying to write to other people's ideas can be rather difficult to me plus I'm normally pretty busy with my own inspired writings. However, for this specific one, the request was vague enough that I felt I could essentially do my own thing, plus I felt I had a rather good idea for a plot that could be worked into a story. The timing also happened to work out as, at the time, I had been getting tired of working on Battle: Actium and was looking to try something else.

Of course, one problem became immediately apparent: the last Gears of War game I played was Judgement, back in 2013 and as such, I have no idea what the new series is even about, much less who the new characters are or what they're like (I know it's supposed to take place post-Locust War and revolves around Marcus and Anya Fenix's son? But that's about it.) Rather than go out and buy an Xbox One, the new games, (and a TV) and spent hours trying to learn the new story and catch up, I just decided to change the setting to that of the original trilogy. (I should point out that I actually didn't bother asking christinedbadia5 if this was alright. So, hopefully they won't mind but if they do, um… sorry?)

Because of that, the setting is as follows: on the Gears of War timeline, this story is set between Gears of War, and Gears of War 2, two months after the Lightmass Offensive.

Meanwhile on the Halo timeline, this story is set in late March of 2551, a full year before the Battle of Fumirole (as depicted in the Halo short, Deliver Hope,) and the events of Halo: Reach. So, contrary to her skin in Gears 5, Kat still has her arm, nor is Noble Team equipped with their Mark V MJOLNIR (i.e., they do not have energy shields.)

(Other notes: this is a one-shot. To limit the amount of canon characters I would need to depict, neither Baird nor Cole will be appearing. Also, this story might feel like a bit of a UNSC-wank, but I do have a reason in mind of it which will appear at the author's notes at the end of the story. So, make sure to stick around for that.)

Hope you guys enjoy!

Special thanks goes to my editor, Darkfire7881, for not only editing this chapter, but also for helping me come up with a title too!


Chapter 1

Pirnah Badlands, Tyrus, Sera
Heat, 14 A.E.
Two months after the Lightmass Offensive

Sera was a dying world.

That's all Sergeant Marcus Fenix could think about as he sat in the main cabin of the King Raven, staring down at the shattered landscape as it rolled by underneath him. The drive to extract as much Imulsion from the earth at the start of the century had already caused great damage to the world's ecosystem, but then the rapid succession of the Pendulum Wars, the Locust invasion, the Hammer of Dawn Strikes, the subsequent Locust War, and now the Lightmass Offensive, had only served to hammer the point in. With no time to heal between each devastating event, the world had finally been driven to the point of no return. Where once stood grassy fields now stood massive deserts. Where once stood lush and green forest now stood darkened swamps as the trees themselves had turned black and rotted away. Rivers and lakes had dried up, and entire species of animals had been rendered extinct. Not even artificial constructs had been spared as entire cities had been abandoned and left to crumble to dust. Buildings had been shattered, bridges had collapsed, and everywhere one looked, all they saw was the rusting hulks of countless vehicles that had been abandoned in place by their former owners, never to be seen again.

All in all, the devastation was virtually complete, and because of that, there were some days where Marcus couldn't help but wonder why he bothered to continue to fight. After all, what was the point? Even if the Locust were to suddenly and magically disappear tomorrow, ending the war, would there be anything left to rebuild? The purported "Coalition of Governments" barely had enough resources to save themselves, much less the rest of the world. No one did, as to try and save this planet from utter extinction would require the resources and intervention of, well, an entirely different planet. And that was obviously impossible to acquire.

Then there was the fact that the Locust had proven to be remarkably and frustratingly resilient. No matter what the COG did or threw at them, they always seemed to somehow survive and come back, stronger than ever. Take the recent Lightmass Offensive, for example. Marcus and his squad had managed to personally set of the Lightmass Bomb deep within the heart of Locust territory, and that bomb should have resulted in the end of the Locust, or at least degraded them to the point they could no longer conduct offensive operations, allowing the COG to seize the initiative. Yet, in the last two months since then, the Locust showed absolutely no signs of relenting. Which is why Control had sent Marcus and his squad here, to the Pirnah Badlands, where they had detected signs of mass Locust movement, to find out what they were up to.

"Sergeant!" the Raven pilot suddenly yelled, breaking Marcus out of his internal dialogue. "We're two minutes out!"

Marcus grunted in acknowledgement before glancing at the man sitting on the bench next to him, his best friend and brother in all but blood, Corporal Dominic "Dom" Santiago. Catching his eye, Marcus mouthed, 'Two minutes.'

Nodding in understanding, Dom lifted his Lancer and began fussing over it, making sure it was ready for immediate use.

In the meantime, Marcus had climbed out of his chair and glanced across the cabin, where the last two members of his squad were seated. For this mission, Marcus had been assigned two rookies: Jason and Robert. Why Control had seen fit to give him two rookies instead of the regular members of his squad, Marcus had no idea, but then again, it wasn't as if he had any say in the matter. He could only hope they didn't end up getting themselves and everyone else killed.

"Listen up Delta Squad!" Marcus loudly yelled to be heard over the drum of the helicopter's rotor blades. "Control spotted a lot of Locust movement here. We're here to figure out what the hell they're up to. This is recon only; we're not looking for a fight, but we better be fucking ready for one. Lancers up; keep them loaded at all times, got it?!"

The two rookies nodded their heads.

"Yessir!" one of them yelled, though whether it was Jason or Robert, Marcus didn't know as they were both wearing the standard COG combat helmet, which covered their faces, and Marcus had yet to learn how to tell their voices apart.

"And quit it with that 'sir' shit," Marcus growled. "We're not that polite out here."

"Yessir!" both rooks automatically replied, and it took Marcus just about everything to avoid rolling his eyes. Fortunately, the pilot chose that moment to interrupt.

"Sergeant, one minute!"

"One minute!" Marcus announced to the cabin at large as he wretched open one of the Raven's side doors and got ready to exit the moment they reached the landing zone. He glanced outside in the hopes of spotting any potential ambush waiting for them, but the thing about the Locust was that because they traveled underground, it was virtually impossible to detect them until they were right on top of them.

He barely looked up as Dom joined him in the doorway.

"Damn," Dom commented. "You know, I thought this Lightmass Bomb crap was supposed to have destroyed the Locust. Yet, here they are, still kicking. What does it take to put these bastards down for good?"

"It never ends," Marcus agreed in a low growl.

Dom sighed.

"Just when I thought I'd be able to take some time to go looking for her," Marcus heard him say in a whisper that was barely audible over the sounds of the helicopter.

Marcus immediately knew who he was talking about. Dom's wife, Maria, had been missing for the last twelve years, and Dom had spent every waking moment he wasn't on duty looking for some sign of her. Personally and privately, Marcus had already resigned himself to the idea that Maria was dead. But not Dom. Dom still had hope, however fleeting and while Marcus had already all but given up, if there was one thing he was determined not to do, it was to allow his brother to lose his.

"Dom."

Dom looked up.

"This group might not be part of the Locust Army," Marcus pointed out. "Not all of the grub were down in the Hollows when that bomb went off. Maybe… maybe the Locust are all dead, and we're just seeing the stragglers."

He could see a ghost of a smile appearing on Dom's face.

"Marcus Fenix," he gently said with a hint of amusement. "Why don't you leave the optimism to me?"

Marcus snorted. Fair enough.

"We're touching down!" the pilot reported, and Marcus could see the ground rapidly rising up to meet them. "Three… two… one… touchdown."

"Delta! Move!" Marcus immediately roared as he hopped out of the Raven and onto the ground. The entire landing zone was washed away with the dust picked up by the helicopter's downwash, but Marcus was nevertheless able to get to cover behind a nearby concrete barrier wall where he set up and waited for the Raven to takeoff again.

"Control?" Marcus heard the pilot announce over the radio. "This is Two-Two: Gears on the ground, we're pulling out."

"Roger that Two-Two, we'll see you back at base."

The sound of the Raven's engines suddenly grew in pitch and Marcus had to duck his head as dust and other small debris were picked up off the ground and hurtled through the air as the helicopter started taking off once more. The dust quickly began to clear though as the aircraft rapidly gained altitude and just took off in the direction of Jacinto. Where home and safety was.

As soon as the dust had cleared enough for Marcus to see, he quickly looked around to make sure everyone had made it to the ground safety. There was Dom, Robert… and then Jason. Good. Now they could get this mission started.

"Safeties off and spread out!" Marcus barked as the echo of the Raven's rotors slowly faded away into the distance. "Grubs would have heard us coming, so keep your eyes open!"

He waited until his squad had done just that before pointing towards the nearest building. Due to the need to fit the Raven, the LZ had been located out in the middle of a large parking lot. Bordered on all sides by cars and concrete barriers that offered fairly decent cover, it was nevertheless out in the open and Marcus didn't like being out in the open. Any veteran knew that staying out in the open on the battlefield was a death sentence.

Making sure to maintain his spacing with the rest of his squad, Marcus jogged towards the building, while keeping his eyes peeled for any potential snipers. Or worse. Even fourteen years after the invasion began, the Locust had proven themselves to be remarkably unpredictable, somehow producing new weapons and creatures seemingly out of thin air despite COG's best efforts.

As soon as they reached the relative safety of the buildings, Marcus gestured for his squad to assume defensive positions before reaching up to his radio.

"Control? This is Delta-One," Marcus announced. "Radio check."

"Delta-One? This is Control," Control immediately replied, and Marcus couldn't help but allow a rare smile to grace his face as the sound of Lieutenant Anya Stroud, his on and off lover, flooded his ears, as it always did. Nevertheless, he fought to maintain a stoic look on his face, as the field was no place for such emotions.

"Control, we're on the ground and ready to start our mission," Marcus reported, his voice calm and emotionless as ever. "We'll call you as soon as we find something, over."

"Copy that Delta," Anya replied, just as smoothly. "Be advised: we're picking up a lot of activity some three hundred yards north of your current position. We don't have eyes though, so we have no idea what's going on."

"Then that's where we'll start," Marcus declared.

"Understood Delta. Let us know what you find. Good luck and be careful out there."

"Wilco. Delta, out."

Marcus lowered his hand and gestured at his squad to move out. As they did, Dom bounded forward slightly, and Marcus could see a hint of a smirk on his face as he always had whenever he watched Marcus and Anya interact. Still, as a former commando, Dom knew all about being professional out in the field so he didn't comment on it. Instead, he asked:

"Marcus. We have any idea what's throwing the Locust into such a frenzy?"

Marcus shook his head. "No idea. Control mentioned something about… something falling out of the sky a few hours ago, but they don't know what it was."

He could feel Dom throwing a questioning look in his direction. "Something? Out of the sky? What, like a Raven?"

Marcus shrugged.

"Could be," he admitted. "But all our Ravens have been accounted for. The Air Corps' not missing anything. Plus, they're saying this thing came from higher up. Above the service ceiling of a Raven."

Marcus could almost hear the surprised expression that appeared on Dom's face.

"What, like a satellite?" he said, worry clear and evident in his voice. "You don't think… it couldn't be one of our Hammer of Dawn satellites, could it?"

Again, Marcus shrugged but internally, he couldn't help but shiver in fear as that possibility had been plaguing him since he received this mission. The Hammer of Dawn satellites were one of the few aces in the hole the COG had over the Locust. Located out in low orbit in space, they were one of the few weapons the COG had that the Locust were unable to touch, however conversely, due to the loss of all space rocket platforms and launch sites, COG was no longer able to repair or replace any of those satellites in the event they were damaged or destroyed. If they were to have lost one of them…

"That's what we're here to find out," was all Marcus said.

"God…" he heard Dom muttering. "And coverage of the satellites is bad enough of as it is. If we lost one… what could even knock one out of the sky like that?"

Marcus knew a rhetorical question when he heard one, but regardless he couldn't help but mentally sigh as Dom's question. His parents had been the scientists of the family, not him. How was he supposed to know the answer to these questions?

He opened his mouth to respond, but then paused. He thought he felt the ground trembling…

"TAKE COVER!" he roared, dashing for cover by a nearby wall as the road began to shake and crack, and a small depression began forming.

"AMBUSH!" Dom yelled from somewhere behind him. "WE GOT A GRUB HOLE!"

With a loud roar, the top layer of asphalt was suddenly thrown into the air, like a small explosion had just gone off just below the surface, revealing a small hole. Emerging from that hole…

"RAAAAHHHHHHHHH!"

"LOCUST!"

Marcus immediately leaned around the corner and promptly opened up on the first Locust Drone that emerged from the hole. His Lancer came to life in his hands, spitting out fire and death at nearly six hundred rounds per minute. Blood and chucks of flesh were torn off the Drone as Marcus' rounds hammered home and it was only but a few seconds before the Drone was toppling back into the hole, dead before it could even draw its weapon. But that one Drone hadn't been the only one emerging from the ground…

Marcus ducked back down as the remaining Drones began returning fire. A salvo of Hammerburst fire smashed into his wall, sending chunks of brick and masonry dust into the air, some of which ended up in Marcus' eyes, but he stoically bore it as he learned a long time ago there was simply no way to avoid such a thing. Well, not unless he wore a helmet, but there was no way in hell that was going to happen.

"Dom, how many are there!?" Marcus roared across the street in the direction where Dom had taken cover behind a shattered car as he reloaded.

"I counted seven!" Dom yelled back, his Lancer already blazing away. "But there's probably more coming! We got to take out that Grub hole!"

Marcus merely growled in response. Hammerburst fire was already chipping away at his cover and he knew, with the amount of fire he was receiving, it would only be a matter of minutes before it was destroyed entirely and he would be left exposed. He had to move. Now.

"Rah!" Marcus snarled as he stuck his rifle around the corner and began blind firing in the direction where the heaviest of Hammerburst fire was coming from.

Casings began littering the ground as Marcus fired an extended burst, and over all the fighting, he was reward by the sound of a Drone screaming out loud in pain. The incoming fire slackened by a hair, and Marcus saw his chance.

"Dom, I'm moving up! Cover!" Marcus roared.

"I got you!" Dom yelled back.

Marcus waited long enough for Dom to start shooting before spinning around his wall and crouch-dashing towards the next piece of cover directly in front of him, some truck that was half buried under a pile of rubble. He hit the side of the truck with enough force to leave a sizable dent, but without breaking stride, he proceeded to vault over it.

As he slid across the hood, the Drone that was taking cover on the other side rose up to shoot, and Marcus had just enough time to see the Grub's eyes widen in surprise at the sight of him so close, before Marcus' heavy boot caught the Drone right in the mouth, bowling the creature over.

Landing on its back, the Drone scrambled to pick itself off the ground, but Marcus calmly kicked the Grub in the face once more before pulling out his Snub pistol and emptying half a mag into the Drone's head, causing it to practically explode.

No sense in wasting Lancer ammo.

BAM!

"Gah!"

A grunt of pain slipped through Marcus' lips as a bullet struck him in the shoulder. The bullet fortunately deflected off his armor, but it did cause him to stumble.

Firing his Lancer in the direction the round had come from, Marcus hurriedly backpedaled before hurtling himself back over the truck for cover. As he did, he spotted two Grubs advancing on his position, Hammerbursts blazing away.

Hitting the ground, Marcus shoved himself against the shadow of the truck as bullets pinged off the ground around him. Hastily returning his weapons to their places on his back, Marcus pulled out his Gnasher shotgun and cocked it. Based on the rate those Grubs were firing, they would run out of ammo in just about... now.

The Hammerburst suddenly fell silent and Marcus didn't hesitate. He whirled around the truck and dashed towards the two Drones who were both busy reloading. One of the Grubs happened to look up and spot Marcus approaching, but just before the creature could cry out in alarm, Marcus fired his shotgun from the hip.

KABAM! KABAM!

Marcus' first shell missed entirely as he was moving too quickly to properly take aim but as he closed the distance, aiming rapidly became less important and Marcus' second shell smashed into the lead Grub's left leg, blowing it off entirely and sending the creature crashing to the ground. The Grub's partner let out an angry cry and whirled around to try smash Marcus' head in with the butt of his rifle, but Marcus deftly dodged the blow, shoved the muzzle of his shotgun against the Grub's chest, and pulled the trigger.

KABAM.

The Grub exploded, coating Marcus in blood and gore. Ignoring the body as it collapsed to the ground, Marcus whirled on the wounded Grub, who was desperately trying to crawl away, blood gushing from its stub. Jogging over to the Grub, Marcus tossed his shotgun into the air, deftly caught it by the barrel, and proceeded to swing the weapon as hard as he could like it was a golf club. The pistol grip smashed into the Grub's head, caving the creature's head in.

"Marcus, LOOK OUT!"

Marcus had just enough time to turn and see the Wretch launching itself at him, claws extended, when Dom appeared out of nowhere! Throwing himself at the Wretch, he caught the creature in mid-air, knocking it to the ground. Before the Wretch could recover -

BBBBrrrrrrrrrrr

- Dom activated his Lancer's chainsaw and drove it straight into the Wretch's chest!

rrrrrrNNNNNNNNN!

"AHHHHHHHHHHHH!"

Both Dom and the Wretch started screaming, Dom out of exertion, the Wretch out of pain, as the diamond-coated teeth of the chainsaw easily cut right through the Wretch's thick skin and into the more vulnerable organs underneath. Blood and chunks of bone was sent gushing into the air as the Wretch was all but cut in half.

"Come on Marcus, we got to find some cover!" Dom yelled, yanking his Lancer out from the quivering mass of flesh on the ground even as bullets began raining down all around them.

Marcus didn't bothering wasting time with words, he just took off, trusting Dom would follow. Running up to a nearby pile of rubble, he and Dom simultaneously vaulted over the top and landed on the other side.

"We got to take out that Grub hole!" Marcus roared even as Dom quickly stood up to return fire.

"I know!" Dom yelled back.

"Where's Jason and Robert!?"

"I dunno!" Dom admitted.

"Fuck!" Marcus snarled as he pulled out his Lancer from his back and readied it. They had better not have lost both their rookies on their first day in the field.

beepbeep BOOM!

The familiar chirp of a Bolo grenade going off filled Marcus' ears and he stood up in time to see the Grub hole collapsing on itself, cutting off the flow of Locust reinforcements and catching the ones still on the surface by surprise. He didn't need to say a word: both he and Dom promptly opened fire, trying to cut down the remaining Locust before they had a chance to recover from their surprise. With an understanding borne out of years of friendship, they simultaneously concentrated their fire on one Grub after another, using the combined might of both their Lancers to quickly and efficiently kill the last of the hostiles.

As the last of the Locust fell to the ground in pieces, Marcus quickly reloaded and glanced around. He didn't see any movement, friendly or otherwise.

"All clear," he finally announced.

At once, two Gears on the other side of the former Grub hole appeared from behind a small crater in the road: Jason and Robert, looking no worse for wear. One of them raised his Lancer in response, before the two of them climbed out of their hole and jogged across the street to join the rest of the squad.

As they ran, Marcus couldn't help but be mildly impressed. Whether by accident or design, both his rookies had managed to work their way into a flank position that allowed them to close the distance and toss a grenade directly into the enemy's deployment area, all without Marcus having to tell them to do that. In Marcus' experience, not too many rookies knew to do that.

"You two alright?" Marcus growled as they joined him.

"Yessir!" one of them brightly said, sounding slightly stunned. Probably the result of the adrenaline rush.

In the meantime, Dom had been studying the crater the two of them had been taking cover in. At their response, he turned around with an impressed look on his face.

"Damn, you guys managed to work your way pretty close," he complimented. "Good work guys."

Even with their helmets on, Marcus could tell when both his rookies started blushing.

"Aw, it was just luck Corporal," one of them bashfully admitted.

"Yeah," the one supplied. "Plus, we couldn't have gotten that close without you two distracting all them Grubs."

"So, really, you guys deserve all the credit," the other agreed.

"Though I have to say: that was one hell of a throw," the second one said as he turned to his friend.

"Thanks!" the first one said brightly. "But I couldn't have done it without you laying down covering fire like that."

"Why, thank you!"

"No no, thank you –"

"Alright, that's enough! Enough jerking each off already," Marcus growled with mild annoyance. Northerners; always unfailingly polite, to the point it was actually annoying.

He could hear Dom snorting in amusement behind him but he ignored it as he lifted his hand to his radio once more.

"Control, this is Delta," Marcus announced. "Be advised: we've just been attacked. No casualties to report, over."

Anya's response wasn't quite what Marcus expected.

"Delta, be advised: we're picking up something big moving to your location," Anya blurted out, her voice tense with a hint of fear in it.

Marcus and Dom exchanged a concerned look and Marcus gestured for his squad to spread out once more, though he wasn't sure what to expect. Something big? All of the Locust war machines were big, especially compared to a regular human. Besides, if it was as big as Anya's voice seemed to imply, shouldn't he have seen… whatever it was by now?

Then he heard it. A low, raspy breathing. A deep growl that Marcus could feel in his bones. And finally, heavy footsteps that caused the very ground to tremble.

"Ah, shit…" Marcus muttered as he hurriedly turned his radio off. "Radios off, now! Dom?"

"On it Marcus," Dom reported as he pulled the Hammer of Dawn laser designator off his back.

"You two," Marcus snapped, turning to his rookies. "Keep quiet, keep low, and do exactly what I tell you, when I tell you, got it!?"

Both Gears nodded their heads, though their body language very clearly showed their fear.

"Sir, what's going on? What's coming?" one of them asked as they hastily moved to turn their radios off.

"We got a Berserker," Marcus whispered.

As if on cue, the heavy thumping of footsteps filled the air and Marcus slowly turned around to see, emerging from around the corner at the end of the block…

The massive twelve foot tall monster stomped her way down the center of the street. Each one of her footsteps caused dust to fall from the ceiling and land onto Marcus' do-rag, though he dare not react least he accidently attract Berserker's attention. The Berserker was alone, which made sense as Berserkers were known to be so temperamental to the point they were willing to attack their own side at the slightest provocation, but unfortunately that didn't really help Marcus as that meant he didn't have any way of distracting the beast.

The Berserker made her way to the center of the intersection before abruptly stopping, her head tilted skyward, sniffing the air. Marcus could only hope she wasn't downwind of their scent because if so, they were screwed.

"Nobody moved," Marcus whispered out the side of his mouth, his eyes glued on the Berserker, trying to figure out what she was about to do next. "She can't see us, but she sure as hell might be able to hear us. Or smell us."

"Sarge…" one of his rookies whispered. "What do we do…?"

Marcus didn't bother replying. Instead, all he did was make a quick cutting motion with his free hand as he watched the Berserker turn her head left to right, as if she was looking for something. She must have found something though, as she abruptly let out a shriek, one that cause the hairs on the back of Marcus' neck to stand up, before suddenly dashing off.

Almost immediately, he could hear one of the rookies behind him letting out a sigh, but before he could speak, Marcus cut him off by violently lifted his hand and extending a single finger. For about a full minute, all four of them stood there, still as a statue.

Finally, Marcus decided it wasn't a trick and the Berserker wasn't coming back. Lowering his arm, he allowed himself to let out a mute sigh of relief.

"Oh, thank the Chairman," one of his rookies said, relief evident in his voice.

Marcus couldn't help but snort.

"Chairman ain't got nothing to do with this," he retorted with a slight sneer. "Just be glad we didn't have to fight that thing. Even as well-equipped as we are, those bitches aren't easy to kill."

He glanced in Dom's direction, or more specifically the laser designator Dom was carrying, only to notice the stricken look on his face. "What."

"Marcus," Dom slowly began. "She took off in the direction we're supposed to be going."

With a start, Marcus looked around and sure enough, the Berserker had taken off due north, on the exact same heading Control had told them where the heaviest amount of Locust activity was. "God dammit."

"Great. Just great," one of the rookies snapped. "What do we do now?"

"Keep calm," Marcus demanded as he reactivated his radio. "Maybe we can get some air –"

Without warning, the head of one of his rookies abruptly exploded!

BOOM!

The retort of the Longshot sniper rifle echoed down the street as the body of the non-headless rookie sagged to the ground, but Marcus was no longer paying attention as he whirled around and instantly spotted the Sniper Drone crouch behind a small parapet wall on top of a building just down the street, in the midst of reloading.

"SNIPER!" Marcus roared as he lifted his Lancer and opened fire. He was quickly joined by gunfire from both Dom and his remaining rookie.

Bullets smashed into the face of the Drone's cover, causing the Grub to inadvertently drop its rifle as it hurriedly ducked into cover. The concrete wall was able to stand up to the initial barrage, but it was clear it wouldn't remain that way for long as even under less than a second's worth of sustained fire, Marcus could already see cracks forming.

"Keep firing!" Marcus demanded.

"AHHHH!" his remaining rookie screamed in response.

Chunks of concrete were visibly beginning to fall off as the three Lancers steadily began working their way through the concrete. It was clear to all parties involved that the wall wouldn't last long, and that if the Drone hoped to survive, than it would need to move, but pinned down as it was, there was nothing the Grub could do. Marcus' rifle abruptly clicked empty, and he hurriedly moved to reload, and as a result, he almost missed it when the Grub decided to throw all caution to the wind and make a run for it, only to take a full rifle burst to the head.

"TAKE THAT YOU SONUVABITCH!" Marcus' remaining rookie screamed at the top of his lungs, no longer the polite northerner he had been only a few moments ago. "COME ON! I GOT SUMTHING FOR ALL YA!"

The rookie continued to roar throw insults down the street, but Marcus had no time for that.

"Dom! Get the body's tags, rifle, and ammo!" Marcus immediately ordered. "Kid, enough with the shit-talk, let's go! We got to get off the street before – "

"IIIIEEEEEEE!"

The chilling shriek of a Berserker filled the air moments before a nearby concrete wall exploded as the same Berserker from before burst out onto the street. The Berserker immediately turned in the direction Delta Squad was standing, let out another deafening shriek, one that, despite everything he'd seen and experienced in the last few decades, almost caused Marcus to shit his pants, and charged.

"RUNNN!" Marcus screamed, even as he lifted his Lancer and futilely emptied the magazine into the Berserker's chest. He held his ground even as the Berserker began bearing down on him, at least long enough until Dom and the rookie were able to jump clear, before diving out of the way, just barely clearing the road in time to avoid getting pancaked.

"Dom! We need the Hammer! Rook, get on the other side of the road! We need to keep this thing distract so Dom can take her out!" Marcus roared even as he dove into a barrel roll to avoid getting hit.

"Oh God! We're all going to die!" he heard the Rook cry out, but Marcus was too busy trying to dodge to comment.

"Rook, SHOOT IT!" Marcus desperately yelled as he just barely dodged a blow from the Berserker. As Marcus had been the first one to shoot her, he had been the one she decided to focus on.

Without warning, the Berserker abruptly lashed out and while Marcus was able to dodge the worst of it, the blow still sent him staggering. As the Berserker reached out to grab him with one massive, scaly arm, she was abruptly struck in the back by gunfire. Immediately losing sight of her prize, the Berserker turned to charge after her tormenter, the Rook, leaving Marcus to scramble to his feet and relocate.

"Delta, this is Control! What is your situation!?"

Anya's frighten voiced suddenly filled Marcus' ears.

"Control, we have a Berserker!" Marcus managed to spit out as he hurriedly reloaded. "I've already lost one man, I need air support!"

"Um, okay! Re-routing the nearest Raven, but its twenty minutes away!"

"Then we'll use the Hammer instead!" Marcus snarled.

"Okay, but be advised: satellite coverage is only available for three more minutes!"

"Dom, you get that!" Marcus immediately roared.

"Already on it Marcus!" Dom yelled back and sure enough, Marcus could see multiple orange-colored laser beams coming together to form beam right over the Berserker's head. At once, a blinding orange light struck the Berserker, causing multiple, lava-like seams to form all over the creature's body.

"Pour it on her rook!" Marcus demanded, even as he leveled his Lancer and opened fire, aiming for the lava-like seams.

Unlike before where his rounds simply bounced off the Berserker's thickly armored skin, this time Marcus could see blood squirting out from where his bullets were working their way through the open sections of the Berserker's body. Unfortunately, he wasn't given much time to do damage as, moments later, the Berserker's body rapidly cooled, allowing the Berserker to regain her natural resistant to gunfire.

"Dom, hit her again!"

"I'm trying! But she's in the shadows right now! Hammer can't get a lock!" Dom desperately yelled back.

Marcus growled as he lifted his empty Lancer.

"Shit!" he snapped, pulling out his Snub pistol and emptying the magazine.

"IIIIEEEEEEE!"

The Berserker screamed and charged straight at Marcus, who hastily dropped his pistol and rolled out of the way as the Berserker dashed right past him, and into the open where Dom could hit her.

"Firing!" Dom warned before, once again, orange laser began forming right over the monster's head.

BOOOSSSSHHHHH

The Berserker let out a scream of pain as once again her body was awashed with nasty looking burns. Not willing to waste precious time reloading, Marcus whipped out his Gnasher and began unloading.

KABAM! KABAM! KABAM! KABAM! KABAM! KABAM! CLANG!

Marcus' last shell abruptly bounced off the Berserker's body as her body cooled down once more, though this time Marcus could see some obvious wounds on her body, and it was clear to him that it would only take one or two more Hammer blast to finish her off.

"Marcus, you need to hurry! You're running out of time! You've got less than a minute's worth of satellite coverage left!"

"We're working on it!" Marcus yelled back, hurriedly working on reloading his weapons. ""KID! I'M OUT OF AMMO! GET HER ATTENTION!"

"GOT IT!"

The rook began firing and Marcus did his best to quickly reload. The heavy thumping of the Berserker caught his attention though, and he looked up to see the Berserker rapidly bearing down on the kid's position. "KID! LOOK OUT!"

"I GOT THIS SARGE!" the rook yelled back. He defiantly held his ground until the last possible second, and started to dive to the side to roll out of the way when, unexpectedly, he went crashing into the ground.

"AH, FUCK!" Marcus heard him yell out and even from this distance, Marcus could see the piece of rebar sticking out from the ground that had somehow gotten entangled in one of the straps to the kid's shin guard, causing him to trip.

"KID, GET OUT!" Marcus yelled as he opened fire, desperately trying to draw the Berserker's attention back onto himself, but it was too late. Before the rookie could so much as think about getting out of the way, the Berserker was all over him.

"OH GOD! AHHHHHH – gurk!"

The kid's screams were abruptly cut off as the Berserker grabbed ahold of him and literally tore him in half.

"KID, NO!" Marcus roared. "DOM, DROP THE HAMMER ON THIS BITCH!"

Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Dom lifting the designator and pulling the trigger when –

beep beep beep

- the designator let out a negative sounding beep.

"Oh, shit!" Dom yelled. At the same time in Marcus' other ear –

"That's it! You're out of time! Satellite has moved out of position! Delta, do you copy!?"

"You got to be kidding me," Marcus growled as the Berserker, finally done tearing the rookie's body to shreds, turned in their direction.

"Marcus, what are we doing?" Dom demanded to know even as the Berserker started charging in their direction. "Marcus? Marcus!"

Marcus desperately tried to think of something he could do, but nothing came to mind. That satellite was the only thing that could have done enough damage to the Berserker to stop it. Without it, they were screwed.

He lowered his rifle and stood there as the Berserker started to get closer and closer to him. So. This was how it was going to end. He always knew it was going to happen at some point, but he'd been hoping he could have put it off just a bit longer. He'd been hoping to have just a little bit more time.

As the shadow of the Berserker started to fall over him, Marcus slowly closed his eyes as he waited for death's cold embrace. As he did, he could only think of one thing to say –

'Sorry Anya.'

Bewwww BOOOOSSSSSSHHHHH!

Without warning, there was a brilliant red flash, one so bright, Marcus was able to see it through his eyelids. His eyes snapped open in time to see the Berserker staggering backwards, a massive, circular burn in the center of her chest.

The Berserker let out a loud shriek of pain even as a red blinking laser began appearing on her forehead. Before she could do anything else though –

Bewwww BOOOOSSSSSSHHHHH!

Another brilliant red laser cut through the air, spearing the Berserker right through the head. The Berserker's head stayed intact for all of three seconds, before the energy from the beam proved to be too much and the Berserker's head simply exploded. As the red laser dissipated, the Berserker's body just stood there for a few moments, swaying in the wind, before toppling over backwards, causing the ground to shake as it hit the ground.

For a few moments, Marcus just stood there, hardly daring to move, much less breath. He was… alive? How!?

Stiffly, Marcus slowly turned around to see how Dom had managed to accomplish what he had just done, only to see Dom wasn't even looking in his direction. Instead, Dom had turned around and was staring in the direction the Berserker had originally come from and even though he couldn't see his face, Marcus had known Dom long enough to know, every bit of Dom's body language was screaming out surprise and shock.

Wondering what the hell Dom was staring at, Marcus decided to turn around fully.

There, walking down the street towards them, were two figures. At first, Marcus thought they were nothing more than a couple of Gears from another squad. But as they got closer, Marcus realized how wrong he was. For starters, they were tall. Both of them were almost seven feet tall in height and even though they weren't here, Marcus could tell these newcomers were a good head taller than both Tai and Cole, who were both the tallest people Marcus knew. And, these newcomers were just as bulky as the two men would have been.

Then there was the armor these two figures were wearing. Marcus had worked with a variety of armor configurations over the years, but he had never seen anything like the set they were wearing. First off was the color: neither of them were colored in the standard light blue or dark gray armor of COG Gears, or even the jet black armor of the Onyx Guard. Instead, one of the figures were clad in some sort of sky blue colored armor, while the other had reddish tones instead. They were also both wearing fully encased helmets, though the red one, for some reason, had what appeared to be the face of a human skull imprinted on his visor. As the figure got closer, Marcus could tell the image wasn't standard, as it was clear it had been etched into the plating by some sort of shape blade.

Finally, there was their weapons. The blue figure was carrying some sort of rifle-looking weapon, only it looked a bit odd, with what appeared to be the magazine being located behind the trigger and pistol grip, instead of in front like a Lancer, giving the weapon a rather short and stubby look to it. The red figure, on the other hand, was carrying what almost appeared to be some sort of Longspear rocket launcher, only, when Marcus glanced at the barrel, instead of a warhead sticking out, he could only see a small red glow and he quickly realized that this weapon had been the one that fired the laser that had ultimately killed the Berserker.

The two figures came walking down the street, before stopping less than fifteen feet away from Marcus and Dom. For several moments, the two parties just stood there, sizing each other up as Marcus tried to figure out what to do. These newcomers were definitely not part of the COG, he was sure. Nor did he think they were part of the Stranded, as he knew the Stranded had a hard enough time trying to find enough food to eat, much less be able to design and build armor and weapons this advance. It was possible they belonged to the UIR, but no one had heard from the former Union of Independent Republics since the Hammer of Dawn Strikes thirteen years ago. And if any of the UIR citizens had survived, it didn't make much sense to Marcus for them to make their sudden reappearance in the Pirnah Badlands, of all places. Nor did he think they would have been interested in saving the lives of two soldiers belonging to the government that had authorized the strikes that had destroyed their world.

A thought suddenly occurred to Marcus. Could these people have been the reason why the Locust were working themselves into such a frenzy?

Before Marcus could ponder on the question any further, the figure in red suddenly moved. Lifting his hand, the figure pointed in the direction of the still-smoking Berserker's body, and, much to Marcus' surprise and shock, spoke in near flawless Tyran:

"That was a bad guy, right?"


Originally, I had intended for this to simply one large chapter, however during the course of writing it, it began rather long so I've decided to break it up into separate chapters.

Update: 1/24/2020: Minor corrections as per an anonymous review.