Title: Halo: Atlantic Resolve
Summary: Even for the Covenant, the secrets of slipspace remain locked. In 2552, en route to participate in the ongoing invasion of Earth, a temporal displacement event sends a single Covenant battlecruiser 500 years to the past: to Earth, 2015. This time, there is no UNSC to stop them, only the disjointed armies of the past. Will humanity be able to survive this invasion?
Author's Note: This is just a little one-shot thing I wrote to try and get myself back into writing again after a short break, so try not to take this scenario too seriously. Really, I just wanted to write a battle scene between modern militaries and aliens, but because I didn't plan on writing any more than this, I didn't want to take the time to sit down and make up my own aliens. Therefore, I decided to go ahead and use the Covenant as that's what I'm most familiar with (for obvious reasons.)
In case anyone is wondering, in this universe, the Halo series didn't exist, but other science fiction series (like Star Wars or Star Trek) do.
Halo: Atlantic Resolve
The sound of explosions in the distance cause Martin to look up and grin. He knew that sound, having called many a fire mission in his time in Afghanistan: 120mm mortars. Possibly from their troop attached M1129 mortar carrier section.
Unfortunately that information didn't really help him very much at the moment. Based on how soft the explosions were, it was clear wherever the mortars were firing from, they were some distance away. And with the radios still jammed and virtually all other forms of communication down… well, there was no practical way for Martin to get ahold of those stovepipe boys and set up a rendezvous.
Still, it did wonders for Martin's morale to know that someone, somewhere, was still out there, fighting. That Martin and his group weren't the only band of idiots left just trying to survive.
Martin allowed himself to enjoy the sound of the explosions, like they were the chorus of some heavy metal song, for a few more moments before wiping the grin off his face and turning his attention back to the task at hand. Laid out on the ground in front of him was a compass and a map of the area. He was pretty sure they were headed in the right direction, but a mistake at this juncture could throw them off course by miles. And with the enemy closing in from behind…
The sound of footsteps had Martin automatically reaching for the M9 pistol he had strapped to his belt, but he immediately relaxed when he realized it was just his Estonian Army counterpart, Sergeant Kuusk.
Moving his hand away from the butt of his sidearm, Martin lifted it in greeting instead.
"Tere päevast," Martin said as best as he could but given the wince that Kuusk did his best to hide, Martin could tell he hadn't quite succeeded.
He shrugged. So sue him; Martin's Estonian was terrible. Fortunately, the same couldn't be said about Kuusk's English, so Martin's lack of linguistic ability was less of an issue it could be.
"Good day," Kuusk replied as he took a knee beside Martin, sounding oddly formal with his slightly accented English. "Are you well?"
"Oh, I'm good," Martin easily replied before gesturing at the map, knowing what Kuusk had really meant to ask was if there was a problem. "Just wanna make sure we got our bearings right; that we're headed in the right direction. Don't wanna fuck it up, you know?"
"We are," Kuusk replied, causing Martin to throw him a questioning look at the absolute confident way Kuusk had said that. He pointed to a spot somewhere off to their left. "Põhimaantee 1 is still to our… nord?"
"North," Martin supplied, causing Kuusk to bob his head in agreement.
"'North,'" he repeated. "If we keep go itta... east, soon reach Narva."
Martin quickly glanced at his map for confirmation, though it quickly became apparent Kuusk was right. Obviously. Despite his misgivings about their destination, Kuusk hadn't really given Martin a reason to distrust anything he said plus: this was Kuusk's home country. He would know this land far better than Martin ever could.
"Right," Martin said, reaching up to scratch his head. "Guess all that's left is to figure out how much further we gotta go. I think, if my calculations are correct, we still got another forty-one klicks to go…"
"You do not sound… certain?" Kuusk noted.
Martin sighed and gave a helpless shrug.
"I'm pretty sure this is where we are on the map," Martin said, pointing at a specific spot. "But I say I think because, well, there ain't exactly a lot of landmarks to go by right now," he admitted as he glanced at all the trees that surrounded him. The problem with a forest, he had discovered, was the further you went into it, the more everything looked the same. It was at times like these, Martin was prepared to give his left nut for a working GPS device but unfortunately, the entire GPS grid – as well as all communications and all their air support- had been the first things to go down when the hostiles had first appeared.
Martin mentally sighed. Unfortunately, there wasn't much he could do about that.
"Oh, well," he said out loud as he quickly began to cleanup. Stuffing his map and compass back into his pocket, Martin grabbed his carbine from where it was propped up again a nearby tree. "All we can really do is just keep moving."
Kuusk nodded in agreement and, without another word, quickly jogged back to where the rest of the Estonians were.
Glancing over his shoulder to make sure all his supplies were secured, Martin glanced at his guys before gesturing forward. As one, everyone climbed to their feet and started walking. Break time was over.
As he made his way through the thick undergrowth, Martin gradually became aware of someone walking through the woods in a way that their paths would eventually intersect. Unlike before though, Martin made no motion to go for his weapons, as he was pretty sure he knew who this was. Sure enough, it wasn't long before Sergeant Harris emerged from the trees, doing his best to prevent the long, suppressed barrel of his M110 DMR from snagging against any of the brushes and branches that stuck out from the ground like skeletons reaching out from the grave.
For a few minutes, the two men said nothing and instead, just focused on trying to make their way through the woods without making too much noise. Martin resisted the urge to speak first; Harris was never one to tolerate awkward silences for long and Martin knew he wouldn't have to wait much longer before Harris spoke his mind. Sure enough –
"So," Harris began, a hint of his native Pittsburgh accent leaking through. "We still going to Russia?"
"That's the plan," Martin replied.
"Estonians still pissed about it?"
Martin glanced forward towards where most of the Estonian soldiers attached to their unit were walking. "Hard to say, really. But, they've stopped staring at me like they're about to plant a knife in my back, so… I'll take that as a win."
"Can't say I blame them," Harris glibly replied. "I still can't believe we're going to the fucking Russkies for help, and I didn't grow up in a country that was fucking dominated by the Reds for nearly a century before they were able to gain their independence. Lotta bad blood there."
"Yeah, I know, Sergeant," Martin hissed as a branch abruptly smacked the side of his face. "You don't have to tell me that. After all, that's the entire fucking reason we were deployed to this shitty country in the first place. 'Atlantic Resolve.' That name ring a bell?"
Harris shrugged. "Just sayin': probably would have gotten a better reception if we went south instead. To Latvia. That's where the rest of fucking regiment is anyways. Or maybe north, to fucking Finland. Could have reenacted the Winter War, part deuce."
"Thought the Continuation War was already part two of the Winter War," Martin retorted. "At any case, we would have never made it to Finland: you seem to have forgotten there's this thing called the 'Baltic Sea' we would have had to cross only, we don't have a fucking boat. And, last time I checked, we're not the fucking Marine Corps so it's not like we could have swum across."
"If you think the Marines could have swam across the entire sea, then I got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you," Harris muttered but Martin ignored him.
"As for going south?" Martin continued, as if Harris hadn't spoken. "Sure, I would have loved to rejoin the rest of fucking 2nd Cav, but you do realize why the fucking U.S. Army is even in the fucking Baltic States to begin with, right? It's because the fucking Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian militaries weren't big enough to stand on their own if big bear Russia came knocking."
"Which makes it all the more ironic that we're going to the fucking Russkies for help," Harris snidely retorted.
Martin bit back a sigh and instead, grabbed Harris by the arm, forcing him to look at him. "Look. We need an army. Like, yesterday. At least something bigger than a handful of brigades and regiments, right? But we don't have that."
Martin pointed behind them. "Sure, we could have waited around for the rest of NATO to get here, but the only countries with armies worth a damn are probably the British and the French. And maybe the Germans. But assuming they could even mobilize right away, it would still take them at least a week to get here. Same story with the U.S. Army. Even if the entire 82nd Airborne Division were to have taken off them moment those fuckers attacked, they're still a light infantry unit which can't do shit against what we're facing right now. We would need someone like 3rd ID. But because they would have had to cross the Atlantic Ocean, it would have taken them two weeks to get here, at which point, we would have all been very dead. And, I don't know about you, but I like being alive."
"Meanwhile," Martin switched his arms so he was pointing forward. "About forty klicks in that direction is the Narva River, which marks the border between Estonia and Russia. On the other side of the river, is the entire fucking 6th Russian Army, with who-the-fuck-knows how many tanks, IFVs, and guns. We need their help, plain and simple. So, Sergeant, if you would be so fucking kind as to stop your fucking bitching and move – "
Martin abruptly stopped talking as he realized his voice was starting to gain a few octaves as he slowly inched closer and closer to hysteria…
Clearing his throat, Martin took a moment to calm himself down before looking around to see if anyone had noticed. Fortunately, only Harris was paying attention, though at the moment, he was giving Martin a look of pity.
"It's been a long-ass week, hasn't it, Sergeant Li?" Harris asked sympathetically.
In response, Martin gave him a light shove to keep moving. However, as Harris turned around, Martin couldn't help but mutter under his breath, "Yeah. It has."
It had all started three days ago. Martin and his unit (Iron Troop, 3rd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment) had been sitting inside Tapa Army Base, just outside the Estonian town of Tapa getting their Stryker ICVs ready for a week long field exercise with elements of the Estonian Land Forces' 1st Infantry Brigade. As part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, Martin's unit had been deployed here as part of the U.S.'s effort to reassure this nation that in event that Russia were to try to annex their territory in an attempt to recreate the Soviet Union (as they had done to the Crimean Peninsula down in Ukraine last year,) the United States of America would have their back.
As far as Martin was concerned, any field training exercise was better than sitting inside the garrison dealing with dumbass junior enlisted who couldn't stop getting drunk and doing stupid shit, so he had gleefully taken to the task, getting his weapons and equipment ready, prepping his rifle platoon, and had been in the process of getting introduced to his Estonian counterparts, when it had happened -
A literal, honest to god, alien spaceship the size of a fucking star destroyer had appeared in low orbit over Eastern Europe. Before Martin could have even begun to process what he had been seeing, the aliens had immediately identified themselves as "the Covenant," before proceeding to demonstrate their hostile intent by blowing a pair of USAF F-15s that had been sent in to investigate out of the sky.
What followed afterwards could only be described as "pure chaos," as all military forces in the area were left scrambling to go from "training exercise" to fucking "War of the Worlds" in a heartbeat. Martin still wasn't sure how they had managed to do it, but somehow his entire troop had managed to turn in all of their BFAs and MILES gear and pick up some live ammo, just in time for the aliens to start landing ground troops, giving Martin and his men a chance to show these damn extraterrestrials the full might of the United States Army.
That had been three days ago, and they hadn't stopped getting their asses kicked since then.
Lost in thought as he was, Martin wasn't so distracted as to not notice the lead soldiers abruptly stopping and taking a knee. He hastily followed suit before glancing over his shoulder to gesture for the rear soldiers to do the same. As he did, he heard someone running up towards him, and he glanced forward again to see Private McDowell dashing towards him.
"Sar'nt, you're needed up front," McDowell gasped out as he dropped down to Martin's level.
Martin felt his heart start to race as adrenaline automatically flooded his veins, and he willed himself to remain calm.
"What's up?" he said instead as he nonetheless began prepping his carbine.
His concerns did not prove to be unwarranted as McDowell replied with a single word: "Covenant."
"Sergeant Harris, grab two Estonians and secure our six," Martin immediately commanded as he surged to his feet. Beside him, he could hear McDowell letting out a soft groan as he used the bipod of his SAW to follow suit. "McDowell: with me."
Keeping as low and quiet as he could, Martin swiftly dashed to the front of the column. Sergeant Kuusk was already there, taking cover behind the trunk of a fallen tree and talking to the two Estonian scouts that had been on point. At the sound of Martin's approach, Kuusk's head snapped up in alarm, and he frantically gestured for Martin to get down, which Martin reflexively obeyed.
"Low crawl, Private," Martin ordered out of the side of his mouth as he laid down on his belly. "Stay close."
Without waiting for a word of acknowledgment, Martin quietly low crawled over to where the trio of Estonians were.
"What's up?" he whispered as soon as he was close.
Kuusk immediately handed him a pair of binoculars, before pointing at the woods in front of them. "Enemy. Forty, fifty meters. Direction: there."
Taking the offered optics, Martin did his best to ignore his rapidly beating heart as he focused on the spot Kuusk was pointing at. At first, Martin didn't see anything and for a moment, Martin allowed himself to believe this was all just one giant false alarm, a result of a bunch of nervous soldiers just seeing things. However, as soon as that thought entered Martin's mind, he immediately discarded it. Kuusk, as well as his two scouts, were all soldiers from the Estonian Army's Scout Battalion, which meant they were all professional, career soldiers, unlike the rest of the Estonians in the column. They were as good, if not better, than Martin's own guys, and he had learned long ago to trust them as he would any other American soldier.
So, with that in mind, Martin looked harder.
The seconds ticked by with Martin not seeing anything, but just as he was about to ask for more clarification, a breeze suddenly passed through the woods, causing the leaves to sway. And in that exact moment, Martin spotted a flash of neon orange. He immediately zeroed in on that spot.
"Fuck," he muttered under his breath as he realized the full extent of what he was seeing.
There, standing maybe fifty yards away in a small clearing, was a small patrol of the extraterrestrial bastards they'd been fighting, or trying to fight, over the course of the week.
"Goddammit, how the fuck did they get in front of us?" Martin rhetorically muttered as he lowered the binoculars to study the patrol with his own eyes.
The patrol that stood in front of him consisted of six individual creatures, though unsurprisingly enough, they weren't all of the same species - one thing Martin and his men had learned over the last few days was that this so-called "Covenant" wasn't one monolithic force, but actually seemed to be some sort of alien coalition, consisting of at least three separate alien races.
At any case, three of the individuals belonged to what Martin had mentally dubbed as "the slave race," mostly because of their appearance: short, squat, vaguely arthropodal in size and shape, and with a large hump on their backs which made them look all the more awkward, all individuals were usually clad in either bright orange or red armor which was clearly supposed to mean something though for the life of him, Martin couldn't figure out what. One thing Martin did know for sure though, was that this race was the most numerous of all the alien invaders and it was because of that, coupled with the fact they seemed to be responsible for most of the physical labor, Martin and his men had dubbed them as "the grunts of the army," or just "Grunts."
Standing in sharp contrast to the Grunts were the next two individuals. Tall, lanky, and almost dinosaur-like in appearance, these aliens almost look like what Martin imagined the Hork-Bajir from the science fiction novel series Animorphs to look like, minus the blades. Unlike Grunts, these creatures didn't seem to wear much armor, but it hardly mattered because these fuckers were fast – fast and extremely agile, making them very hard to hit. Maybe it was because of that, Martin's men had taken to calling these aliens "Jackals."
(Martin had actually wanted to call them "Vultures," because that's what they looked more like to him, but he had been outvoted.)
Finally, there was the last member of the alien patrol. Unlike the Grunts and the Jackals, this alien was huge. Standing at about eight and a half feet tall and covered in thick fur, these aliens were kind of what Martin would expect if a rhinoceros and a gorilla were to have fucked. There was no other way to put it: these aliens were huge, extremely terrifying, and clearly in charge of this entire invasion. Unlike with the Jackals, there had been no argument as to what to call these guys: everyone had unanimously decided to dub them as "Brutes."
Now, with the patrol standing out in the middle of the clearing, Martin found himself in a bit of a quandary. Every single member of the patrol was armed to the teeth. What they were doing here, in the middle of the woods, Martin had no idea, but it didn't change the fact that the patrol was here. And more importantly, in their way.
"What you want do?" he heard Kuusk whisper as he handed the binoculars back. Martin considered his options.
"Well, fighting them is out of the question," he said, thinking out loud. "Our goal is to evade, not engage, right now."
"But this our home!" one of the scouts immediately retorted, only to fall silent when Kuusk shot him a glare. Martin sighed.
"I know, and I'm sorry. And I can appreciate your desire to fight for your home," and Martin really did – he knew if his home state of Maryland were to suddenly be invaded by aliens, he would be one of the first to grab his AR-15 and run out to meet them head on – "but the fact remains: we're not equipped for an extended firefight. We got no armor, no air support, no artillery. And until we can get our hands on those, our best bet is to lie low."
Out of the corner of his eye, Martin could see Kuusk giving him a nasty look. "We Estonians have none of those things, yet, we would have still fought the Russians if they came."
"Yeah, and you would have all fucking died," Martin bluntly pointed out. "Because, as every major war since 1945 has taught us, you can't win a fucking conventional war without any of those things."
Kuusk and his men didn't look convinced, and even McDowell looked skeptical. Martin resisted the urge to snap at them. Instead, he took a deep breath and tried to go for the diplomatic approach.
"Look, I get it," he began. "I really do. You wanna defend your families, your homes, and your people. But we," he gestured vaguely in the direction of the rest of the unit, "can't do that alone. We need help. And right now, the only people who can provide that help are the Russians. At least, until the rest of NATO and the E.U. and the U.S. military can mobilize. But for now, we gotta make sure we live long enough to see that, so that means, we keep our head's down and avoid trouble. Thinks you guys can handle that?"
The four men just sat there and stared at him, and it suddenly occurred to Martin that aside from McDowell and maybe Kuusk, the rest might not have understood a word he had just said. Nonetheless, Martin didn't feel like repeating himself plus, none of the Estonians seemed interested in running counter to his orders anymore, so Martin decided to leave it.
Glancing once more in the direction of the Covenant patrol, Martin pointed. "Let's see if we can't see if we can't make our way around – "
The sound of a breaking twig caused Martin to whirl around in time to see a fourth Grunt emerging from the trees less than fifteen feet away from them, having been lackadaisically wandering back in the direction of the rest of the patrol. The small alien took one look at the five humans crouching in front of it, let out a small squeak, and froze. For a moment, alien and humans just stared at each other, unsure of what to do. Then the Grunt let out a loud scream.
Time seemed to slow as Martin watched the Grunt reach for the plasma weapon it had strapped to it's waist, and Martin felt himself automatically raising his M4 carbine and flicking off the safety in response. As he did, it suddenly occurred to Martin that this was a bad idea, because without a suppressor, there was no way Martin would be able to mask the noise of the gunshot from the rest of the Covenant patrol. Then he felt his carbine recoiling in his hand and he suddenly realized it was too late.
BANG! BANG! BANG!
Three bullets spat out from the muzzle of Martin's carbine and smashed into the Grunt's chest. The bullet naturally failed to penetrate – one thing Martin had learned was that even with M855A1 rounds, their standard 5.56x45mm round just wasn't strong enough to penetrate the armor the Covenant soldiers wore – but the impact was still enough to cause the Grunt to stumble backwards.
BANG BANG BANG!
Gunfire from Kuusk' Galil rifle joined his and together, the two of them pelted the small alien with all sorts of gunfire. Again, none of the bullets penetrated, but the gunfire had caused the Grunt to automatically lift it's arm in an effort to protect it's face, meaning as long as the humans continued firing, the Grunt would have no chance to pull out it's own weapon and shoot back.
Over the sound of gunfire, Martin heard someone screaming and it took him a few moments to realize that it was himself, hollering incoherently at the top of his lungs as he ineffectively emptied the rest of his magazine into the Grunt. Just as he made that realization though, he felt the bolt on his carbine lock back and he realized he had just run out of ammo, however the Grunt was still standing.
"Keep firing!" Martin roared as he ejected his mag and reached for a fresh one. "Keep that fucker pinned down!"
Martin jumped at the sound of a much heavier weapon going off by his head and he looked around to see that one of the Estonian scouts had actually been armed with an M14-TP2 rifle. Firing a much heavier 7.62x51mm round, the DMR the scout was firing was marginally better at penetrating the Grunt's armor but not only that, the scout was firing at the Grunt's head as opposed to the Grunt's chest like Martin had been, so as Martin watched, a neat round hole abruptly appeared in the Grunt's facemask, causing a cloud of visible white gas to come gushing out, followed by two more in rapid succession right between the Grunt's eyes. Martin could see a thick, teal-colored liquid oozing out of the holes as the Grunt's head snapped back and the small creature collapsed.
At once, a stilled silence descended upon the forest as all guns immediately ceased. It didn't stay silent for very long though.
The inhuman roar sent chills down Martin's spine and he whirled around to see all six remaining aliens come charging through the trees in their direction.
"CONTACT!" he heard McDowell screamed.
Plasma and bullets went flying as both sides immediately opened up at each other with everything they had. Martin automatically dove for cover behind the truck of the fallen tree and hastily finished reloading. As soon as he had slapped the bolt release on his carbine, Martin was scrambling up to his knees, searching for a target. He instantly zeroed in on one of the Jackals stumbling through the woods and opened up on semi-automatic, emptying half his magazine in less than a second. Before any of his bullets could strike though, the Jackal unexpectedly activated a round, glowing, turquoise energy shield – one that looked like it came straight out of Star Wars or something – which intercepted all the incoming fire.
Nevertheless, Martin could see the Jackal awkwardly stepping to the side to try and take cover behind a nearby tree, even as Martin continued to unload on him.
The crashing of leaves from behind him caught his attention and Martin whirled around in time to see the rest of his section, with Sergeant Harris in the lead, come crashing out of the woods and instantly draw all of the Covenant's fire. Martin spotted at least one Estonian immediately taking a plasma bolt to the chest, which burned right through his PASGT vest like it wasn't even there, before the rest of the section hit the dirt.
"Shit, STAY DOWN! HARRIS, STAY DOWN!" Martin screamed at them. "Kuusk! We need to give covering fire! Standby to give it in my mark! McDowell! Set up your M249 right here!"
Martin scooted to the side as best as he could as McDowell rolled past him in order to gain access to the small hole in the side of the truck that could serve as a small murder hole. Martin watched as McDowell frantically set up his bipod, before giving Martin a nod.
"COVERING FIRE!" Martin roared as he lifted his carbine over his head and just started unloading.
At once the world seemed to explode as all five humans just began blindly unloading on the woods in front of them. Leaves were shredded, branches knocked over, and entire trees were cut to pieces as Martin and his men fired as fast as they could pull their triggers. Despite knowing the rounds weren't able to penetrate, it would have seemed that the Covenant had decided that it wasn't worth the risk to remain in the open, and instead decided to take cover from the barrage as all incoming plasma fire seemed to slacken ever so slightly, allowing the rest of the section to surge to their feet and dive forward into cover beside Martin.
"Keep on firing!" Martin roared, even as he did just that. "Keep them pinned down!"
He felt his carbine click empty and he hurriedly lowered his rifle, both to reload and take control of his section.
"HEY!" he screamed to be heard over the increasingly violent firefight. "DON'T FUCKING BUNCH UP! SPREAD OUT Y'ALL! SERGEANT HARRIS, SPREAD THEM OUT!"
Martin ducked his head as the familiar whine of a plasma grenade explosion washed over him, filling the air with static electricity, causing the hairs on the back of his neck to stand up.
"POUR IT IN THEM! I WANT FIRE SUPERIORITY!" Martin continued to urge, even as he kept his eyes open for two soldiers in particular… there. "Corporal Rehi! CORPORAL REHI! OVER HERE!"
Corporal Rehi came dashing over with his MG3 in hand. Following closely in his footsteps was his assistant gunner, two boxes of ammo in each of his hands and Martin almost snorted in disgust. That wasn't going to be enough.
"Corporal Rehi! Set up the MG3, right here!" Martin commanded, pointing at a spot behind the fallen tree truck near McDowell; close enough that the two of them could mutually support each other, but not too close that the two of them would be taken out by a single grenade.
"Kaspar! Laskemoon!" he heard Rehi crying out, even as he worked on setting up his gun. Behind him, Kaspar, frantically popped open an ammo can and pulled out a fresh, two hundred round belt of 7.62, which they worked on hastily shoving it into the feed tray.
"Come on! HURRY IT UP!" Martin urged as he rose up to give them cover, firing his carbine until he felt it go empty. "Shoot you motherfuckers, SHOOT!"
Rehi abruptly pulled the trigger, filling the air with what almost sounded like the noise of a large piece of cloth getting ripped in half, and all of a sudden, Martin felt like he was on a set for an episode of Band of Brothers only, these weren't blanks he was firing. And he sure as hell wasn't fighting Nazis.
"Keep firing!" he bellowed, glancing over the top of the truck to see if he could spot for his men, but unfortunately, he couldn't see shit. The Covenant were still there, as testified by the ever increasing amount of plasma getting thrown their way, but there was just way too much shit in the way for Martin to spot anyone, even when peering through his ACOG scope. "Search for muzzle flashes and call out your targets!"
Martin couldn't prevent the girlish scream from escaping his lips as two metal spikes abruptly embedded themselves into the wood just beneath his face, splinters chasing after him as he dropped to the ground.
"UGLY BASTARD BEHIND THAT BIG-ASS PINE TREE ON THE LEFT!" he heard Harris cry out.
Taking a moment to catch his breath, Martin cautiously poked his head up and quickly located the tree in question. At first, he thought either Harris had been wrong or he was looking in the wrong place, but then Martin abruptly spotted movement and he realized what he thought had been some weird looking fungus growing on the side of the tree was actually the fur of the Brute.
"Got you motherfucker!" Martin gloated as he leveled his carbine but just as he was about to fire, he paused. His rounds had trouble penetrating Grunt armor; how the hell could he hope they would penetrate Brute armor? "I need a forty Mike Mike."
Rolling over to his side, Martin glanced down the line to where he knew one of the Estonians had an AG-C grenade launcher attached to the underside of his Galil.
"Hey! Forty mil!" Martin yelled, trying to catch the man's attention but when that failed, he grabbed a handful of casings off the ground and hurtled it. He watched as the Estonian grenadier flinch, but turned his attention to Martin.
"Forty mil!" Martin yelled again, flashing four fingers at the man and then pointing at the Brute, in the hopes the Grenadier would understand. It appeared as he did because as Martin watched, the man reached into his pocket and pulled out a 40mm HEPD grenade and shove it into the breech of his grenade launcher. Then, he took a deep breath before abruptly standing and firing.
Bark and chunks of wood was thrown in all directions as the grenade exploded directly against the tree, and Martin could see the Brute flinching ever so slightly, but aside from that, nothing else happened, even as Martin experimentally fired at it a couple of times.
"Shit," he swore. "AGAIN!"
He watched as the Grenadier extract the empty casing and reload before taking another breath, then –
The pine tree swayed precariously, as if threatening to fall. The Brute immediately leapt from behind the tree, only to dash back into cover as Martin unloaded on him, scoring numerous hits, but failing to do much more than surface damage. "Dude! One more time! Take down the fucking tree!"
Out if the corner of his eye, Martin could see the Grenadier reload, but this time, as he stood up to fire…
Plasma fire began saturating the man's location, and the Grenadier let out an audible cry of pain as he was struck in the collarbone!
"Ah, shit! MAN DOWN! MEDIC!" Martin yelped and without thinking, leapt to his feet. For his troubles, he nearly had his head removed by a metal spike but as he whirled around to retaliate, the Brute was gone, no doubt having taken advantage of the distraction to relocate. "FUCK!"
Half crawling, half running, Martin made his way down the line to where the wounded man laid, writhing in pain, and Martin threw himself down beside him.
Grabbing hold of the man's shoulders to keep him steady, Martin winced as he inspected the wounded. The superheated plasma had instantly incinerated the man's uniform, seared the man's flesh away, so much that Martin was pretty sure the solid object he was staring at was the man's actual collarbone.
And then there was the smell…
"MEDIC!" Martin screamed at the top of his lungs, even as he reached for his IFAK on his belt, though he paused, not exactly sure what to do. Gunshot and shrapnel wounds were one thing, but even in IED strikes, it was rare to see burn wounds this bad. "MEDIC UP FRONT, MEDIC UP FRONT!"
The rhythmic thumping of footsteps heralded the arrival of Specialist Chandler, Martin's platoon medic.
"Where's he hit!?" Chandler yelled as he tossed his M4 aside and reached for his medkit.
"He get hit anywhere else!?"
That gave Martin pause.
"I don't know!" he admitted.
"Help me roll him over! CAREFULLY!"
Martin grabbed a hold of the Grenadier's shoulder and helped Chandler roll the man over ever so slightly, enough that Chandler was able to determine the man hadn't been hit anywhere else. Martin had been doing his best to be gentle, but as he laid the Grenadier back onto his backside, he noticed the man was becoming very pale and had stopped writhing. "Doc!?"
Chandler took one look at the man and swore. He reached into his bag for something, but then flinched as a series of spikes and bolts embedded themselves in the ground nearby. "Fuck! Help me drag him out of the line of fire!"
"HEY!" Martin immediately roared at the rest of the line. "Step up and give me covering fire for me and the Doc! Standby!" Martin reached into a pouch mounted on his vest and pulled out a smoke grenade. It wouldn't help very much, as he was pretty sure the Covenant had optics that could see right through it, but it wouldn't hurt either. "NOW! COVERING FIRE!"
Popping the grenade, he hurtled it at his feet before grabbing hold of the Grenadier's vest. With Chandler's help, they dragged the man a few yards back. He wasn't out of danger just yet, but at least the chances of him getting hit by stray fire were reduced.
Martin couldn't help but anxiously bounce on the balls of his feet as Chandler went to work.
"Doc, I gotta get back," Martin warned. "You good here alone?"
"Yeah! I got my M4 and my M9, I can defend myself!" Chandler distractedly replied. "Go!"
Martin needed no further prompting and took off.
Diving back behind the tree truck, Martin did a quick review of the situation. The incoming fire was as thick as ever and in fact, actually seemed to be increasing which wasn't good. He hadn't any intention of getting stuck in a firefight because, not only could they not afford the casualties they were taking and all the ammo they were burning through, the fact that the Covenant had fire support and working comms and the humans didn't meant it wouldn't be long before air or artillery support was inbound. They had to figure out a way to end this fight, or at least shock the Covenant long enough for Martin and his men to withdraw.
With that in mind, Martin knew exactly what he had to do. Dashing back to the line, he ran up to Kuusk and gave him a swift kick to the leg to get his attention.
He grabbed the leg of the same scout from earlier who had been armed with the M14.
He also made sure to grab the leg of another Estonian soldier, this one carrying a Spanish made C90-CR one-shot disposal rocket launcher on his back.
"And you! With me!"
Without another word, he dashed over to Harris, making a quick stop by McDowell to bring him along also.
"SERGEANT!" Martin screamed, causing Harris to roll over so he could look at him. "Give me the 320!"
"Give me your grenade launcher!"
Tossing his DMR to the side, Harris hurriedly worked on removing his M320 grenade launcher from its holster attached to his side as Martin grabbed a bandolier of 40mm grenade from Harris' backpack.
"HEY! We gotta figure out a way out of this firefight!" Martin said, addressing both Harris and Kuusk. "Sergeant Harris, you keep these motherfuckers pinned down, I'm gonna take Kuusk and three others, see if we can't work our way around on the right and outflank these sons of bitches!"
"Covie QRF is probably inbound!" Martin warned. "Whether by air or land, either way, they'll probably be coming from the direction of that highway, so keep an eye on the left flank!"
"Männik!" Kuusk immediately yelled, catching the attention of one of the nearby Estonians. "Olge vasakul!"
"Alright guys," Martin roared as he finished strapping the bandolier around his waist. "LET'S MOVE IT DRAGOONS!"
He took off running through the woods, trusting his men to follow him. The sound of his own heavy breathing quickly filled his ears as Martin desperately tried to find his way around – the hardest part about the fire and maneuver tactic was trying to find the enemy's flank. Trying to do so when everything around you looked the same? Almost impossible.
Fortunately, as usual, the Estonians seemed to know where they were going because as soon as Martin began faltering, the three of them leapt forward and very soon, Martin found himself overlooking the entire Covenant firing position.
Gesturing for his team to take cover, Martin quickly looked around. The Covenant were maybe forty yards away, still trading fire with Harris and his squad. It didn't appear the aliens were aware of Martin and his men's presence on their flank, giving Martin a chance to formulate a plan of attack.
By the looks of it, each individual alien soldier was spaced anywhere between three to five yards apart, which would make it difficult to eliminate them all in one go. Fortunately, the Covenant did appear to be down by at least two soldiers; from his position, Martin could see at least one of the Grunts was laying facedown on the ground, not moving, while one of the Jackals was gripping it's left arm, dark purple liquid leaking out from between it's claws. Even as Martin watched, one of the Grunts stepped put from behind a tree to fire, only to immediately take a burst to the chest which knocked the small creature over.
"Okay, here's the plan," Martin whispered. "Our priority is to take out that big, ugly, motherfucker right there so, dude," he pointed at the Estonian with the rocket launcher, "I want you to fuck him up with your C90."
"Once he fires that thing, that's going to alert the Covies as to our position here so McDowell and Kuusk? I want suppressing fire as soon as that rocket goes downrange."
"You," he pointed at the Estonian marksman, "are the only one here with a weapon that can sort of reliably take these guys out. Your priority are the Jackals. Once they're down, Grunts won't have any protection, so we'll be able to move up and take them out with frags. Everyone get it?"
Martin impatiently waited for Kuusk to finish translating, before everyone nodded. "Good. Spread out and let's do this shit. Rocket man? You got the first shot."
His team dispersed and Martin hurriedly slung his carbine around his shoulders so that it would hang freely by its sling, before pulling out Harris' grenade launcher. Extending both the stock and forward grip, he double checked to make sure it was loaded, before nodding at Rocket Man. Rocket Man hastily stood up, rocket launcher planted firmly on his shoulder and –
There was a loud SWOOSH as the 90mm tandem HE rocket sped downrange and slammed into the Brute's chest, exploding and knocking the creature to the ground. The rest of the Covenant soldiers whirled around, but before they could react –
McDowell opened up with his SAW, chewing up the area around them.
"FIRE!" Martin yelled out a bit unnecessarily a moment later as he pointed his grenade launcher in the direction of the Brute's corpse and fired.
Martin didn't bother waiting for the explosion: he immediately popped open the breech and extracted the empty casing. Ignoring the sound of both Kuusk and Marksman opening fire, Martin hastily shoved another grenade into the breech.
"320!" he yelled and fired again.
Martin had just enough time to taste dirt before the area around him exploded in a fury of plasma fire as the Covenant soldiers returned fire. Neon green bolts of plasma chewed up the ground and the foliage and Martin felt buckets of sweat beginning to pour down his brow as ambient temperatures skyrocketed, and all of a sudden he found it hard to breathe as the acrid smell of ozone flooded his nostrils. Branches and leaves were instantly turned to ash and even the fucking ground was set on fire as the barrage continued.
"Son of a bitch!" Martin yelled in fright. Reaching down to his belt, he tried to shove another grenade down the breech but nearly fumbled the reload due to his trembling hands. "Son of a bitch! SON OF A BITCH!"
He blindly fired in the direction most of the fire was coming from then reached down for another grenade but found he was actually out. Swearing, he tossed his grenade launcher to the side and seized his carbine but before he could return fire, there was an abrupt explosion and all of a sudden, Martin found that he was no longer pinned down.
Throwing all caution to the wind, Martin glanced up in time to see one of the Jackals collapse, firing its plasma pistol into the air as it died. Looking around, Martin abruptly realized that meant both Jackals were down for the count.
"TEAM! ADVANCE!" he roared, and with a tremendous war cry, he surged to his feet and began steadily marching forward.
Bring his carbine up to his shoulder, Martin began firing as rapidly as he could on the remaining Covenant soldiers. By his count, there should have only been two Grunts left, but despite their depleted numbers, rather than do the intelligent thing which would have been to either surrender or retreat, based on the amount of plasma fire, the Grunts appeared to want to go down fighting.
Flinching as a plasma bolt severed a tree branch right over Martin's head – causing it to go crashing down to the ground right behind him – Martin unloaded his magazine at the Grunt who fired the shot. His bullets chewed apart the bark of the tree the Grunt was taking cover behind, failing to penetrate, but forcing the little alien back into safety.
"Reloading!" Martin hollered as he dropped down to one knee. He reached for his chest rig to pull out a fresh one, only to come up empty. "What the – ah shit!"
Tossing his carbine aside, Martin pulled out an M67 fragmentation grenade instead. Hurriedly unraveling the electric tape he had applied for extra security, he grabbed the pin and gave it a good tug.
"FRAG OUT!" he screamed before hurtling the grenade as hard as he could.
The Grunt he was aiming at was thrown out from cover. Martin could see the creature still writhing on the ground, but then someone shot it a few more times and the alien went still.
Martin started to turn in the direction of the last Grunt when he heard one of the Estonians yell, "GRANAAT!" and he immediately ducked.
The grenade evidently missed because he heard McDowell screaming out a moment later, "FRAG – "
Martin jerked up at McDowell's cry of alarm to see him tossing his unprimed grenade aside and grabbing his SAW as the last Grunt unexpectedly dashed out from cover, a blue ball of fire clutched in it's grubby hands. McDowell lifted his SAW, pulled the trigger and –
Martin's sidearm was out of his holster and pointed downrange before McDowell could even begin to clear his jam.
"McDowell, get the fuck down!" Martin scream as he thumbed back the hammer and just began unloading.
BAM BAM BAM BAM!
9x19mm parabellum rounds had even less power and penetration than 5.56, so Martin's bullets did absolutely nothing but bounce off the Grunt's helmet. Nevertheless, Martin could see the impacts were causing the Grunt to flinch, so he kept shooting until the slide on his pistol locked back.
"Motherfucker!" Martin yelped as he ejected the magazine but even as he reloaded, he could tell he was going to be too late. "SOMEBODY SHOOT THAT SONNABITCH! SOMEBODY – "
Unexpectedly, the Grunt exploded, causing Martin to reflexively hit the dirt as melted armor and incinerated alien guts were scattered all over the place. He waited for a few moments, to see if there would be any more explosions.
Martin slowly lifted his head at the shout. Sure enough, by the looks of it, all hostiles were officially down for the count. He surged to his feet.
"McDowell!" he yelled as he dashed over to where McDowell was lying on the ground. "Holy shit – McDowell! Are you alright!? Talk to me!"
"I'm good!" McDowell replied in a surprisingly strong voice. He promptly sat up, ignoring Martin's attempts to help him, and grabbed his SAW.
"Fucking bitch tried to kill me though," he bitterly spat at his SAW. Popping open the top cover, he began working on fixing his jam. "Goddamn piece of shit. You know, with as big of a budget as the U.S. Army has, you'd think they would be able to give us with fucking guns that actually work. Son of a whore. Fuck these M249s."
Martin ignored him. Now that he knew McDowell was alright, Martin had turned his gaze to the black burn mark where the last Grunt had once stood.
"Who the fuck took that Grunt out?" he couldn't help but ask out loud.
"Nobody," McDowell grunted from behind him.
"Nobody took him out," McDowell repeated. "Think he held his grenade for too long: exploded in his own hands. Dumb motherfucker."
Martin stared at McDowell for a moment. Then, all of a sudden, he felt a surge of emotions deep within him. It quickly swelled up and without even realizing it, Martin began laughing.
It didn't take long for McDowell to join him and for a few minutes, the two of them just sat there, laughing so hard that tears began pouring out of their eyes. Looking back at it later, Martin couldn't even explain what was even so funny, only that he just had to laugh. Had to get it out of there.
Eventually though, the more rational side of his brain took over, and he forced himself to sober up. While they had eliminated the most immediate threat, they still weren't safe. Martin had no idea what sort of calls for help the Covenant patrol had sent out in the middle of the fight, if any, but it didn't matter: they had to vacate the area before enemy reinforcements arrived.
"Come on." He tugged at McDowell's shoulder. "We got to get out of here. POLICE UP YOUR WEAPONS! Check yourselves for injury! You got three minutes, then we're getting the fuck out of here! LET'S MOVE PEOPLE!"
"God, I wonder if this is how the Hajis felt every time they fought against us," he heard McDowell wondering out loud as he followed Martin over to where he had left his weapons.
"Tali never won a firefight against us," Martin confidently pointed out as he took off his backpack and dug around until he found a partially loaded magazine, which he promptly loaded into his carbine.
"No, but that's also because we had fucking artillery, air power, even our fucking Strykers. Hajis could never stick around for very long, otherwise we would schwack them with IDF. Kind of like what the Covies are doing to us now," McDowell noted.
Martin shrugged, not really all that interested in thinking about it. Sure, he had plenty of trigger time as a result of his two tours to Afghanistan, but nothing he had seen while fighting against the Taliban in Kandahar could have prepared him for this. "What's your fucking point, dude?"
McDowell shrugged. "Just never thought I would see the day where I felt sorry for them fucking rag-heads, you know."
Martin grunted as he looked around the area. Harris was bring up the rest of the platoon from their original positions, while it looked as though Kuusk and his men were already ready to go. "Yeah, I hear ya. Let's move it out, Private."
Martin whirled around, and could only stare in shock and horror at the giant, spiked mace-looking device that had seemingly sprouted out from McDowell's chest. McDowell gurgled, a stream of blood pouring out from his mouth, before he dropped his SAW onto the ground and toppled over. And that was when Martin reacted.
"MAN DOWN!" he screamed as he bent over McDowell to… to… he didn't even know what but it didn't matter because as he got closer, he suddenly realized the device in McDowell's chest was actually beeping. For a few precious seconds, all Martin could do was stare dumbly at the thing.
Something slammed into Martin, knocking him over, as white noise flooded his ears. Slowly reaching up, Martin touched his temple, trying to shake the foggy feeling that had suddenly descended over his head, only to abruptly realize his helmet was gone. He started to twist around to see if he could figure out where it went, but stopped as a sharp stabbing sensation in his lower torso caught his attention. Looking down at himself, Martin spotted a massive metal spike sticking out from his stomach just under his ribcage by his right lung, the spike having cut right through both his Kevlar vest and the SAPI plates underneath like they were made of paper.
Without thinking, Martin reached down to try and yank it out, but doing so caused a stream of blood to come pouring out. And then, that was when the pain hit.
"AHHHHHH! I'M HIT!"
"CONTACT REAR! SHOOT IT! SHOOT IT!"
Harris' voice, following by automatic weapon's fire caught Martin's attention.
Trying to distract himself from the pain, Martin turned around to see –
"How the fuck is that thing still alive!?"
The same Brute from before, the one Martin had deliberately targeted with a 90mm anti-tank weapon, then hit with a 40mm grenade, was somehow up and about. Granted, it looked like hell, with it's entire left side missing it's fur and covered in burns, along with it's left arm hanging uselessly by it's side, only attached by a couple strains of flesh, but somehow the Brute was still alive and kicking, even as the rest of Martin's men desperately unloaded their weapons into it. Even as Martin watched, the Brute charged straight at the Estonian MG3 gunner and drove it's leg into the poor man's chest, sending him flying backwards a good fifteen feet before his impromptu flight was abruptly ended by an inconveniently placed tree. The man hit the truck with enough force to tear bark off, before collapsing at the base. He didn't get back up.
"KILL IT! KILL IT!" Harris was frantically screaming in the background, and without evening realizing it, Martin found himself automatically obeying.
As much shock as he was in, Martin didn't even realize he had switched his carbine to burst fire until he pulled the trigger, sending a stream of fire into the Brute's back. He knew his drill sergeant from his time at Fort Benning would be pissed if he saw Martin doing that, but Martin found he just couldn't care.
He pulled the trigger as fast as he could, until he felt the bolt finally lock back. For some reason, despite taking fire from all directions, that seemed to have attracted the Brute's attention as the creature whirled around, and Martin felt a wave of terror as he noticed the look of absolute fury in the Brute's bloodshot eyes. However, the feeling didn't last long as it was quickly overtaken by the growing sense of numbness emanating from his lower body, and Martin found himself pulling out his pistol and fruitlessly firing it one handed at the Brute's chest even as the Brute came charging straight at him. The last thing Martin felt was the slide on his pistol locking back as he fired his last round.
Then, the next thing he knew, the Brute was grabbing him by his vest, and Martin suddenly felt a sense of weightlessness as he was propelled backwards through the air. As he flew, Martin couldn't help but wonder if this was how parachuting felt; one thing Martin had always wanted to do was attend Jump School, but he had never been able to convince his squadron commanders it was worth the money to send him. Now, he never would.
Pain overtook his entire body as he hit the ground, and Martin was pretty sure he heard something snap. That, coupled with the sudden loss of sensation in all of his limbs, made Martin wonder if he had somehow broken his spine, but he wasn't given time to ponder on it further as a shadow abruptly fell over him. As best as he could, he rolled his eyes upwards, only to see the hulking figure of the Brute loom over him.
Ignoring the gunfire that useless pinged off his armor, Martin watched as the Brute give a wicked looking grin, before lifting his leg, and Martin mentally nodded. So. This was how it was going to end. Stepped on like he was nothing more than an ant. Somehow, he couldn't help but feel that was appropriate. After all, given the technological disparities he had seen in the last few days, humanity might as well be ants in the eyes of these aliens.
As the Brute began to bring foot down, all Martin could do was close his eyes and accept his fate.
The Brute let out a loud roar, but there was no masking the terror in the creature's voice. Martin's eyes snapped open to see the Brute desperately reaching behind it's back and, as the Brute whirled around, Martin could see the blue ball of fire that had somehow fused itself to the Brute's spine.
The Brute was desperately trying to grab for the ball, but it just couldn't quite reach, and as the Brute stumbled around one last time, Martin could see the look of terror in the creature's eyes.
And the hate.
Martin blinked as the Brute just sort of… disintegrated. There was a wave of superheated pressure as the Brute's entire upper body was instantly incinerated, leaving behind a pair of smoking legs neatly severed at the knees.
As the smoke began to clear, Martin was rewarded with the sight of Kuusk, looking extremely surprised. As he watched, Kuusk glanced down at the other, inactive blue ball he was holding in his hand.
"Huh," Martin heard him say. "They stick."
Martin's vision was suddenly filled with the panic stricken face of Sergeant Harris. Harris was saying something, but Martin was no longer listening. Instead, he watched as Harris reach down to his IFAK and pull out a tourniquet. However, given the numbness he felt through his entire body, Martin knew it was too late, and he tried to stop Harris from wasting his medical supplies, but his hands refused to cooperate.
"Sergeant," he whispered instead. "Get them to safety. Get them all to safety."
He wasn't sure if Harris heard him or not, but it didn't matter as Martin felt his eyes beginning to droop. The edges of his vision started to go black and he suddenly felt like he was falling and…
Stuart Harris gently placed two fingers on Li's neck. There was no pulse. He sadly lowered his head. Mentally, he pulled out a roster for his platoon and right beside the name "Sergeant First Class Martin Li, platoon sergeant," he filled in three small letters: KIA.
The howl of Covenant fighters meant he couldn't grieve for very long, so Stuart reached into Li's breast pocket, where he knew Li kept his dog tags instead of wearing it around his neck, and removed one. Then, after making sure to close Li's eyes, he stood up. Sergeant Kuusk and the rest of the Estonians stood behind him, a respectful distance away, having dealt with their own casualties already.
"Let's get the fuck out of here," was all Stuart said.
With that, they all disappeared back into the woods.
And headed to the unknown.
Just in case it wasn't clear, this story is set in Estonia, Europe (specifically the Baltics,) in 2015. Units involved are elements of the Estonian Land Forces' 1st Infantry Brigade, as well as the United States Army's 2nd Cavalry Regiment which, at the time, was only one of two combat brigades permanently stationed in Europe (the other being the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team.)
As noted in the story, "Operation Atlantic Resolve" is an ongoing U.S. Army exercise in Eastern Europe that first began in April 2014, where U.S. Army units do rotations through several European countries including Estonia, training with local forces in order to reassure them that in the event of Russian aggression, they will not be alone. Atlantic Resolve is actually one of several, ongoing U.S. military operations and exercises in Europe, some of which include (but are not limited to): Exercise Defender Europe; Exercise Agile Spirit; and Joint Multi-National Training Group – Ukraine.
So, what's the premise for this story? Why'd I chose to write this story in the first place? No reasons, really. Like I said, this was just a dumb thing I wrote to try and get myself back into writing. I wanted to write a story about a modern military force fighting against an alien invasion, and given that the only military force I know anything about is the U.S. Army, I figured I would go with them. Of course, having aliens appear over continental United States is kind of cliché, so I figured I would have it take place somewhere else in the world. I remembered seeing a picture of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment (2 CR) participating in Atlantic Resolve in Estonia in March of 2015 so I figured, what the hell: see if I couldn't showcase another country's military while I was at it.
With that being said, there are no doubt a whole ton of inaccuracies (feel free to point them out in a review or PM and I'll try and fix them as soon as possible,) so try not to take this scenario too seriously.
(In hindsight, I probably should have set this story someplace else, like in Australia as part of Exercise Talisman Sabre instead [though that's a USMC exercise, not a USA one] mostly because there's surprisingly not a lot of information regarding the Estonian Army. Plus, out of all the languages I don't speak, Estonian is definitely one of the top ones, so I had to rely heavily on Google translate for help which is obviously not the best idea; with Australians, hardest part I would have had to worry about was writing an Australian accent. Oh well, lesson learned I guess.)
At any case, I hope you guys enjoyed. Feel free to leave a review though do note, as this is a one-shot, it'll be hard for me to reply, especially if you don't have a FF account. Though I'll try and update this story with replies if any of the reviews are interesting, so keep an eye out for that. (Or maybe I'll stick them in my profile bio instead.)