Hey, what's up, guys?

I haven't yet decided whether I'll split these mission chapters based on the different title sections. I probably will, but it depends on how long they are. The Covenant, I'll definitely split, for example, and I'll likely split the Storm and the Ark too.

Feel free to grill me if I get the military and combat stuff wrong. It's my first time at doing that stuff. Grill me. Like a rare steak, with all those delicious juices. Mmmmm…

Creative credit goes to Bungie. Thanks go to Halo Nation.

Sierra 117

In the African jungles, several new creatures were prowling through the bush. The local wildlife stayed low, crouched in the undergrowth, unnerved by these ursine brutes.

At the crater where the Master Chief had fallen, Sergeant Johnson turned towards the Arbiter, as the Elite continued to walk away and waved his arm towards the alien. "First Squad, you're my scouts. Move out! Quiet as you can," said Johnson.

The Marines nodded, and began to file out of the clearing, past the crater where the slab of metal the Master Chief had used to shield himself from the friction of reentry had fallen, through a moss-walled rock passage that was open to the sky, weapons at the ready, the Chief taking point as the squad scaled a short ledge. He clutched the assault rifle that Johnson had given him, and he'd been able to prise open the magnum holster at his hip. He hefted the MA5C in his hands – stronger than the MA5B, but with a smaller clip. His battle rifle had been melted into slag on the descent from the Dreadnought.

Johnson tapped his communicator as the Marines approached a small waterfall. "Bravo Team, this is Johnson. We got him. Fall back to the extraction point. Over."

"Roger that," replied a stern voice over the radio. "Reynolds out."

A Brute howled off in the distance.

"That sounded close," whispered one of the Marines, as the Master Chief and the Arbiter made their way to the front, coming out past the right side of a pool in the river.

"Yeah, too close," replied another Marine quietly.

"Johnson, you be advised," came the voice of Reynolds over the COM. "Hostiles are -{static}- on the move -{static}-. I've got eyes on a -{static}- Brute Pack -{static}-. Over."

"Say again, Gunny?" asked Johnson. "You're breaking up."

Then, there was the ominous whisper of gravitational drives as a massive purple craft shaped like a curved leaf – a Covenant Phantom – flew overhead above the trees. Another followed, though it was headed to the right of their current position.

"Sergeant Major, Phantom inbound," whispered a Marine.

Johnson thought quickly and sighed. "We stick together, we're gonna get spotted," he said heavily. "We'll split up, and meet back at the LZ. Chief, go with the Arbiter, head toward the river. Second Squad, you're with me."

Johnson and Second Squad moved over to a rocky cliff, deployed quick-climbing gear, and then, moving with military precision, they climbed up the cliff by the waterfall.

"Keep an eye out for Bravo Team, Chief!" called Johnson, as the Chief looked up after him. "If the Brutes do have our scent, those boys are in a lot of trouble!"

Then, Johnson and the Second Squad crossed the river above the waterfall and ran out of sight.

As the Chief crossed the river, the Arbiter led the Chief up on some rocks around a pile of fallen logs, while First Squad waited to go straight over, pointing out a Brute Captain Major in golden power armor that was leading a group of Grunts, obviously newly deployed from the Phantom. The Brute, like those the Chief had seen on the Dreadnought, rather than the hairy apes he'd fought previously on the Covenant holy city High Charity, was a bear like humanoid covered in armor, with thick gray skin, his only visible hair a trimmed beard, while the Grunts were little creatures only a few feet tall, wearing face masks and clad in red or orange armor that pointed up in a triangle to shield their methane tanks. The Grunts carried a mix of plasma pistols and needlers, while the Brute clutched a spiker – a weapon that the Chief hadn't seen them use on High Charity. It was rectangular, with twin blades attached to the end, and a curved hilt.

"Spread out, you whelps!" snarled the Brute Captain. "Find them!"

"Up ahead! Single Brute, plus backup!" whispered one of the Marines cautiously.

"He's got power armor, Chief!" added another.

The Master Chief readied his assault rifle, and checked the ammo readout. No-one answered, that single motion spoke more words than Johnson could in about thirty seconds. Behind him, the Arbiter pulled out a cylinder, and held it raised, ready to switch it on. Then, as one, they leaped over the edge and landed among the Brute and his Grunt subordinates, and the Arbiter activated the cylinder, causing a wedge of plasma to erupt out of each side of the weapon into twin blades of energy.

The Grunts shrieked, and began firing their weapons, but the Master Chief had already dropped three with a few quick bursts of fire. The Marines took out the rest before the Grunts could deal any serious damage, though one man stumbled, groaning as he clutched a plasma burn on his calf.

The Brute Captain leapt off his perch and rushed towards the Spartan in a fury, but the Chief smashed him in the face with his assault rifle, knocking his helmet off. The stunned Brute roared, and went berserk; charging the wounded Marine and killing him instantly from the force of the blow, and knocking down several other Marines, though his dazed vision prevented any major harm to them. Then, he gasped in pain, and fell to the floor, owing to the energy sword that was sticking out of his chest.

The Arbiter pulled the weapon out of the Brute with a sizzle."The Prophets are liars, but you are fools to do their bidding!" he snarled at the Brute corpse.

The Chief frowned at the time wasting, but said nothing, and the Arbiter, sheathing his sword and pulling out a Covenant carbine, made his way over to them, and they moved along the shrouded riverside.

A couple of Phantoms drew near, each deploying a squad of Grunts and Brutes, blocking the advance of the Master Chief and his allies. Both the Master Chief and the Arbiter opened fire, bullets and radioactive projectiles braining the helpless Grunts where they stood. Three charged up the hill in a mad panic, but met their end in a torrent of 7.62mm rounds that also tore into a Brute and stripped him of his power armor, leaving him wheezing, until he was finished off by the Arbiter, who turned to the other Brutes and proceeded to methodically shoot each in the head with his carbine as they proceeded up the hill. One of them, another gold armored Captain Major, dodged the carbine projectile and returned fire with his brute shot, narrowly missing both the Arbiter and the Master Chief. The massive grenade took out an unlucky Marine even as the doomed man returned fire, the AR rounds stripping the Brute's armor. Before the stunned creature could react, the Arbiter shot him in the head with his carbine.

Eventually, the Covenant forces were cleared, and the surviving Marines formed up at a winking flare at an underground cave.

"Those Brutes are tough," said one of the Marines who'd been hit by a berserking Brute as he gently felt his ribs.

"Grunts ain't no slouches either," muttered another Marine as she nursed a plasma burn on her forearm.

"Maybe the Brutes put something in their tanks," replied the first Marine.

The Arbiter snorted derisively. "The Grunts' new-found courage is but fear," he explained. "When we are victorious, all who serve the Prophets will be punished."

The squad readied their weapons, and proceeded down the passages. After advancing through the caves (during which the Arbiter was introduced to some of the native fauna), a massive forested expanse lay before them: a "Grunt Camp" of sorts. Sleeping Grunts littered the first half while a few Brutes, Jackals – crocodilian bipeds clutching plasma weapons, and other Grunts patrolled the far hills.

"Sleepers! Take 'em out, nice and quiet!" whispered a Marine. Then he nearly yelped in surprise, and gestured up on the ridge at some Sniper Jackals. "Jackals, on the ridge! Stay low; looks like they've got carbines."

Suddenly, there was a chirp and a cackle from one of the Jackals, and the female Marine quickly yanked the first out of the way of the supersonic projectiles of the carbine fire.

"I hate it when I'm right!" yelled the Marine as the camp came to life.

The Master Chief kept his cool, opening fire with his assault rifle on the Grunts, shredding them in a torrent of thick blue blood as they rose. Beside him, the Arbiter picked off a few Jackals with his carbine as they retaliated with their own, before growling, taking out his energy sword and charging at the Brutes.

The Chief briefly wondered just what exactly the Elite was up to as he put several magnum rounds into the Jackals as they attempted to pick the Arbiter off with their weapons. Behind him, the Marines riddled the Grunts with bullets as the panicked creatures ran around in circles. Two Brutes batted some of the Grunts out of the way before charging at the squad with twin bellows of fury, only to meet the blade of the Arbiter, falling to their knees before his attacks.

A trio of Grunts wounded a Marine with a barrage of plasma bolts, the Marine's quick reflexes saving him as he dodged behind a rock.. The Chief seized a needler and let loose, firing several crystalline projectiles at the Grunts. Seven stuck in one unlucky Major, and super-combined, exploding and killing the other two. He discarded the empty weapon, and dropped one last Jackal behind its shield with a shot from the magnum.

"Pelicans are en route, Chief, but I can't reach Bravo," Johnson called over the COM. "If you find 'em, get 'em to the extraction point."

Though he knew that Johnson couldn't see him, the Chief nodded out of habit, and led the squad out beyond the encampment, where a pale blue armored Brute Bodyguard was torturing Gunnery Sergeant Reynolds on a log. Evidently, he had been too engrossed in the torture to notice the carnage just meters away.

"Tell me its location!" snarled the Brute Bodyguard.

"Kiss... my... ass," replied Reynolds weakly.

The Brute lifted him up, and prepared to snap the man's spine, when several bullets from the Marine's battle rifles brained the alien, splattering red-blue blood everywhere. Reynolds landed unsteadily on the log, righted himself, and then jumped down, grabbing a nearby assault rifle and joining the Master Chief and the squad. "Brute Chieftain," he explained with a gasp. "Phantom. Pinned us down... killed my men."

"We'll avenge them, Sergeant," the Master Chief reassured him.

The First Squad ran up to the left, and onto the log where the Brute had been torturing Reynolds, and continued on until they reached another cave. Two Jackal Snipers, distinguished by their glowing optical sight masks and their lack of shields, emerged from the foliage and opened fire with their carbines, but the Arbiter and one of the battle rifle wielding Privates quickly made short work of them.

"The river, hurry!" urged the Arbiter, earning a few annoyed glances from the Marines.

The minor UNSC force continued forward, towards further flare-lined caves and pushing towards the river, where Johnson had established an extraction point for Second Squad. They headed down a steep slope for some underground caves that lead to the river.

Suddenly, the Master Chief's vision lurched, and the image of Cortana played itself out across his visor. He could barely move, his vision seemed stretched, and it had gone darker than normal.

"Could you sacrifice me to complete your mission? Could you watch me die?" asked the image of Cortana. Then, the image vanished, and the Chief's vision and balance returned to normal, a net of blue lines clearing his HUD.

"Sir, you okay?" asked the corpsman. "Your vitals just pinged KIA."

Suddenly, they heard the unmistakable sound of Phantom engines, and flattened themselves against the cave walls.

Second Squad was just leaving another set of caves; the river was around the next bend. Three Marine corpses were scattered on the ground, with battle rifle ammunition and fragmentation grenades.

Johnson quickly barked into his radio as a pack of Brutes and Grunts emerged from more caves. "Chief, Pelicans are at the river. We've got company, so hustle up!"

"Grenades!" yelled the Arbiter as he rounded the corner, heading for the steep slope. 'Blow them to bits!"

The Master Chief swiped two grenades from a case by his feet, as well as a battle rifle lying by a Marine's corpse, dropping his magnum and readying the rifle.

Beyond the steep slope was a river substation next to a raging river. A pair of Pelican dropships - the extraction force to evacuate the Master Chief and his team - hovered above the river as the gunners in their troop bays fired upon a cluster of Covenant troops that had tunneled themselves in the substation. The helpless Grunts were slaughtered within seconds, while the few Brute Minors that foolishly remained in the open put up more resistance.

"Hold on. Got a contact," warned one of the pilots over her radio.

As the Master Chief and the Marines opened fire on the Covenant forces that were closer to the Pelicans, two Banshees streaked in along the river. The glittering purple aircraft's engines screeched in a manner that was all too familiar to many of the Marines present.

"Banshees! Fast and low!" cried the first pilot.

Echo 51's Pilot panicked, and quickly replied. "Break off — now!"

The Banshees quickly launched a high-speed strafing run against the Pelicans, and explosions cascaded over them as the Pelicans rocked from the blasts. Echo 51's wingman collided with Echo 51. The Master Chief could only watch helplessly as he fired a battle rifle burst into the unprotected flank of a purple shielded Jackal Major, slaying the alien as it brought its overcharging plasma pistol to bear on the Arbiter.

"Watch yourself!" yelled Echo 51 to the other pilot.

"I'm hit!" screamed the other pilot. "ARRGH!"

"Lost a thruster," called Echo 51. "Hang on!"

"Get a hold of her!" barked Johnson over the COM.

"Negative! We're going down!" yelled Echo 51.

Both Pelicans streaked away around the river bend. Echo 51, in a futile attempt to gain altitude, skimmed the top of a cliff and crashed out of sight.

The wingman attempted to do the same, but, having suffered more damage than Echo 51, immediately plunged into the river beyond the dam, drowning all of the Pelican's occupants within minutes.

The Master Chief, the Arbiter, and the Marines fought through the remaining Covenant to secure the substation - despite two waves of Brute-led Covenant Loyalist reinforcements.

First, the Chief focused on the three Jackal Snipers that had scaled the substation, dropping them easily with the battle rifle. The Master Chief quickly switched to the assault rifle, dropped a few remaining Grunts with short bursts, and then threw a stolen plasma grenade at a blue armored Brute Major. The deadly sphere adhered to its armor, and the shocked alien dove into the river, where they heard the grenade explode. Seconds later, the Brute's charred corpse drifted to the surface.

The Arbiter ducked into a crouch and fired his carbine, the radioactive projectile knocking a turquoise armored Brute Minor's helmet off, and the panicked Brute dropped his spiker and ran at the Arbiter. The Arbiter didn't even bother using his energy sword, finishing the Minor off with a blow to the head from his carbine's hilt, before scooping up the two spike grenades the Brute had dropped. Then a blue beam of energy sizzled past the Elites head, dropping his shields. The Arbiter ducked behind cover as the Jackal Sniper in a tree across the river attempted to put a hole through his head with its beam rifle. Quickly, the Arbiter returned fire as his shields recharged, and the Jackal's corpse dropped out of the trees.

The Master Chief looped up around the side of the substation, saw a lilac armored Grunt Ultra climbing a weapon rack, and blew it away with a burst from the MA5C. He next brought the rifle to bear on a Brute Captain Major, but the Arbiter had already lobbed a spike grenade at the Brute. The spikes of the cylinder dug painfully into the Brute's ankle, and the grenade quickly detonated, painting the ground with blue-red blood. The shrapnel brained a trio of unfortunate Grunts, though the shards simply bounced off the Jackals shields. Before the stunned aliens could respond, the Master Chief tossed another fragmentation grenade, and the explosion finished off the Jackals and shattered a Brute Major's power armor. The Marines continuous fire quickly slew the Brute before he could berserk.

Up on the cliff, Johnson and his team exited the wreck of Echo 51 but were beset by a Brute ambush.

The Arbiter growled. "The Banshees will return. Hurry, back into the jungle!" he called, leading a charge up around the substations edge, ducking into a broad passageway in the moss-covered cliffs. The Master Chief followed, making use of the plentiful fragmentation grenades to blow the life out of four Grunts and the violet armored Brute Captain that led them.

"Chief, can you hear me?(static)My bird's down," called Johnson over the radio. "Half a klick -(static)- downriver from your position."

The Master Chief nodded, and saw the rock open up into a large alleyway, no doubt laced with Jackal Snipers. And sure enough…

"Jackals. On the ridge," whispered a Marine. "Stay low. Looks like they got carbines."

The Arbiter pulled out his own carbine, and dropped a Jackal with a quick burst. The Marines with battle rifles followed his example, ambushing the startled aliens and painting the alleyway a delightful shade of purple. The Master Chief leapt up to where the first Jackal Sniper had been, and grabbed his beam rifle, tossing the weapon to the Arbiter. The Arbiter nodded his thanks, and quickly picked off another Jackal. After they'd passed through the short Jackal-laden "Sniper Alley", they saw a bridge. Three Marines were crossing it, under heavy fire, retreating from the wreckage of Echo 51.

They heard Johnson's grim voice over the COM unit as a Brute led a charge against the fleeing Marines."Come on, you dumb apes! You want breakfast? You gotta catch it!"Johnson and some of the Marines promptly fragged the Brute and his fellow soldiers on the bridge, and ran off into a cave.

The next few minutes blurred into one another, with the Marines and the Chief encountering many hostiles, including another Captain. Dealing with him would have been easier were it not for the Jackals that opened fire on them. The Arbiter quickly slew the lone Jackal that wielded a beam rifle, grabbing the weapon as it toppled from the ledge and discarding his lesser charged one, while the Master Chief put the other Sniper out of action. He turned around a rock to confront the Brute, only to see the alien lying dead on the ground, riddled with bullets. Unfortunately, a Marine had joined him, slain by super-combining needler rounds.

Another Phantom dropped off a squad of Grunts, while a black and red armored Brute Chieftain on the side of the Phantom used the Plasma Cannon mounted at the edge to kill two of the Marines before they could return fire and score the side of the Master Chief's assault rifle. The Phantom flew off when his other gunner and many of his troops were eliminated, though that didn't stop the enraged Arbiter from attempting to pick him out of the Phantom's bay with beam rifle fire.

Eventually, they arrived at the crash site of the unfortunate Echo 51, abandoned at the riverside. The pilot was dead, but a few surviving Marines were still guarding the area, littered with corpses from both sides. The Chief and the Arbiter secured the area, while the Marines loaded up on weaponry. The Pelican had flipped over after hitting the cliff, scattering ammunition and weapon racks, including two sniper rifles and other munitions, around the crash site. The crashed dropship, lying on an outcropping along the valley wall, was surrounded by assault rifles, battle rifles, and frag grenades, and the Pelican's radio was still operational.

The Chief scooped up the sniper rifle, discarding his battered assault rifle, and then moved over to attempt to get the radio working, but a voice suddenly came over the radio. "Echo Five-One, this is Crow's Nest. Echo Five-One, please respond!" There was a pause. "Hocus, Five-One is down. Divert for emergency evac, over."

"Again, the Brutes show their weakness," remarked the Arbiter with relish as the Marines regrouped.

"Sergeant Major went this way, Chief," said one of the new Marines. "Through the cave."

The Master Chief led the Arbiter and the accompanying Marines across the shaking bridge, toward the caves towards where Johnson was being held. Unfortunately, a Captain Major was blasting the bridge with a brute shot, while seven Grunts fired needlers at the Marines.

The Chief tossed a frag grenade, killing two of the Grunts and stunning the Brute, allowing the Marines to gun him down. Then he finished off the Grunts with the battle rifle, using a burst for each.

At the end of the caves, the Master Chief and the Arbiter reached a low cliff, viewing a Loyalist-held dam. The Arbiter spotted Brute Chieftain beating Sergeant Johnson soundly on the far left in front of a small building.

"See how they bait their trap?" remarked the Arbiter pointing at the Chieftain roaring at Johnson. Johnson punched the Chieftain in the stomach with no effect. "I will help you spring it."

The Chieftain growled loudly and kicked Johnson back inside the "prison". Johnson stumbled as he fell through the doorway.

The Master Chief opened fire with his sniper rifle on the Jackal Snipers. Two went down before the shocked Covenant troops could collect their wits. The Arbiter picked off the last Sniper, who was directly below them, and managed to knock a Brute Bodyguard's helmet off. Then, the Marines leapt down, and Chief and the Arbiter brained the Jackals behind their shields as the panicked aliens attempted to regroup.

They made their way up to the edge of the dam, and then opened fire on the Brutes as they battled their way across, taking down the Chieftain's shields with two frag grenades and a sniper round before he could lift his hammer. The Chieftain swung the massive gravity hammer and took out a Marine, but the Chief dodged the swing, giving the Arbiter ample time to distract the Chieftain with an energy sword to the face. The Chief next blasted a Brute Bodyguard with battle rifle fire, then discarded the empty weapon and grabbed a needler, firing several crystalline shards at the Brute, which homed in on it's the alien, impaled in its flesh, and super-combined, taking the Brute out in a pink explosion. The Arbiter bashed in the shields of a Jackal with the butt of his beam rifle, before snapping the aliens neck.

They turned left, and engaged more Brutes, using their stolen spike grenades to take out two Minors in a blast of shrapnel. A Brute Captain leveled his spiker at them and opened fire, draining the Chief's shields. The Spartan ducked behind a column to give his shields a chance to recharge, while the Arbiter tossed a plasma grenade at the Brute, though the grenade missed, the resulting explosion destroyed the Brute's power armor, and he charged, knocking the Arbiter into the wall.

The Master Chief seized the moment to brain the alien with his last sniper rifle round.

Splitting up around the building, they broke down the door to the cramped room, and finally reached Johnson, who'd been tied up and imprisoned behind a plasma shield.

Johnson laughed, though there was little humor in it. "This isn't as fun as it looks. Cut the power!" he called gruffly.

"Brutes were gonna gut us, sir," added some more Marines that were similarly imprisoned.

The Master Chief released the plasma shield that was imprisoning Johnson and his fellow Marines.

Johnson sighed in relief, and quickly stretched. "We're even, as long as we're only counting today," he remarked with a tired grin. "Kilo 023, what's your ETA?" he asked over the COM.

"Imminent, Sergeant," came the response. "Find some cover. Gotta clear a path."

Johnson and the Marines grabbed some Covenant weaponry from nearby weapon racks. The Arbiter followed suit, discarding the depleted beam rifle for a carbine. "Roger that, Hocus," said Johnson, checking the magazine of his needler. "Friendly gunship, coming in hot!" he called.

Two Phantoms arrived, carrying Covenant reinforcements. The Chief, the Arbiter, Johnson and the Marines held position in the building for shelter, and opened fire, cutting down the newly deployed Grunts, who began to run around like headless chickens before long, impeding the furious Brutes. The Chief could hear the Arbiter's raging at the Brutes, and feverishly hoped he wouldn't charge into the open again until Kilo 23 arrived.

"Hocus! Phantom!" yelled Johnson, super-combing a Brute's arm.

"I see 'em!" came the reply. "Standby. Going loud. Everyone down!" Everyone complied, as the Pelican Drop Ship Kilo 23 rounded the river bend, directly in front of the two hovering Phantoms. Hocus, Kilo 23's pilot, let loose a missile barrage, etching the air with vapor contrails as the first Phantom exploded in a brilliant coruscation of light.

"Scratch one Phantom!" laughed Hocus. Kilo 23 fired two missile barrages at the second Phantom, destroying its engines and sending it plunging into the river."Scratch two!" she crowed. Then, Hocus lowered the Pelican to the dam for pickup. Johnson, the Master Chief, the Arbiter and the remaining Marines boarded Kilo 23 in relief.

As the Pelican took off, Johnson gave the Chief a pat on the shoulder appreciatively and went into the cockpit. The back hatch closed and Kilo 23 flew over the first dam, en route to the Crow's Nest base.

In an area in the jungle, sentries on watch spotted Kilo 23 on approach.

"IFF confirmed. Contact is Pelican Dropship Kilo 23. Over," radioed in one of the sentries as his fellow trained a rocket launcher on the Pelican.

"Roger that," replied the controller. "What's the word, Kilo 23?"

"Sierra 117 on board," said Hocus with a small grin. "Request priority clearance. Over."

The two Marine sentries bumped their fists and smiled.

"Deck's yours. Come on down," said the controller.

Kilo 23 proceeded to descend into a massive hole in the ground.

Okay, that was my first combat chapter, so it's probably very shaky. Now, do I need to spruce this up?(Okay, yes, I probably do.) Is it too fast? I once read an incomplete novelization of Halo 3 where that seemed to be the case. I don't want to do what Dietz ended up doing for The Flood, either. And I know that I haven't stated many Marine deaths, except the drowning by Pelican, but it'll definitely end up happening.

It's a good thing that there are some Covenant in Halo 4 (and Elites, yes!) Although, I'm still concerned about the fact that they will be "the least of your problems." The last time that ended up happening, we were introduced to the Flood. This time, it seems just as horrific; what with the skulls inside the Promethean Knight A.I.s. Seriously, are those real skulls, or just pretty things?

I only just used the Beam Rifle for this chapter after getting it on Heroic for the first time and instantly falling in love with it. It's such a sick weapon, and I'm glad that it's back in Halo 4.

Evaluate, this is pretty much my first action scene!