|This article, Recover One/Insertion, was written by Matt-256. Please do not edit this fiction without the writer's permission.|
1926 HOURS, OCTOBER 22, 2552 (MILITARY CALENDAR)/
SOL SYSTEM, NORTHERN CALIFORNIA, PLANET EARTH
The sun blazed blood-red as dusk drew closer in northern California, and for every minute passed more and more of its rays were obscured by trees in the lush, thick forests, leaving much of the ground in shadow. On normal evenings, the area would have been peaceful and quiet, a resort for people who never minded spending hours with Mother Nature and desired a temporary escape from the stress of city life. But the evening wasn't a normal evening – the normal eerie silence had been replaced with the loud howling of gunfire from UNSC weapons and the pulsing of Covenant plasma weaponry, both signs of an intense battle going on in the distance. Over the treetops, large tripod plasma Anti-Air cannons stood, every now and then spewing out large bolts of plasma against human bomber craft, all the while Unggoy – under careful supervision of Jiralhanae captains – scrambled all over the area, carrying out their assigned tasks with frightened obedience.
As the battle raged, neither human nor alien noticed the five Orbital Drop Shock Troopers' descent in their trademark Single Occupant Exoatmospheric Insertion Vehicles as they slammed into the ground after their low-orbit insertion by the UNSC Bodies Without Organs. One of the pods hit several trees and turned sections of them into splintered wood before making contact with the green-grassed ground. Once all pods hit the ground, the hatches on all five of them blew away, their occupants stumbling out with different degrees of balance.
After stepping out of his pod, Ronald Church hurried to pull out an M6C/SOCOM sidearm, MA5C Assault Rifle and several grenades from the pod's internal compartments, before taking cover behind a thick bush. Though unnecessary – as there were no signs of nearby enemy activity whatsoever – Church, like all ODSTs, quickly learned the routine to do it regardless, just in case. Those who didn't tended to wind up dead – some in more gory displays than others. Strapping on his gear in relative silence, he adjusted his helmet radio to TEAMCOM. Seconds later, his heads-up display hummed online. In addition to sensors showing his own status and current weaponry, four icons – each representing another member of the squad – popped up.
The moment the icon named 'Geoff Griffin' flashed online, Ron heard him breath heavily in a disturbingly familiar, disgusted manner.
"Hey, I thought you had learned to stop throwing up by now?" Ron spoke into the COM. On the other end, Geoff (known by the nickname 'Grif') let off an angered snort at the remark.
"Screw...you." Geoff replied after several seconds with great effort, as if he was struggling to prevent himself from throwing up again. "The damn pod malfunctioned mid-drop and started spinning like a roulette table. I would've told ya that if Tex hadn't told us to maintain radio silence."
The squad sergeant, Alexis - better known as 'Tex' - was quick to reply at the mention of her name. "It's a covert insertion, Grif. You have to forgive me, but I didn't want to land straight on a Covenant dinner table." She said, emphasizing on the sarcasm of the second sentence. Grif growled in a surprisingly similar way to a bear, but didn't reply.
"All right" Tex continued without paying any attention to Grif's angry growling, "Let's get this over with, fellas. We got in, now we do what we came to do, and get out – preferably before the Covenant start shooting at our asses." She hurried to add, as if Ron and the others always charged head-on with guns blazing. "We have to be swift and silent."
"You know I'm swift and silent, Tex." Richard Tucker - the squad sniper, who preferred to be called 'Tuck' by his acquintances – said with the usual slick tone that he always had when speaking innuendo. Ron had worked with Tuck for so long that it wasn't hard to know what he meant.
"Do you ever shut your trap, Tuck?" Davie Lopez - named 'Heavy' by those who knew him, for obvious reasons – who had been quiet until then, cut in. Tuck just chuckled at the statement, as he always did when Heavy tried to put him in his place.
"There's a crater roughly three-hundred meters ahead" Tex continued as if there had been no interruption. "Make sure you have all your gear, then head there and we'll regroup. The location should appear on your respective HUDs any second now, as should the marker for our primary objective."
Correctly, Ron's HUD pinged a second later, signaling additions to the map downloaded to his helmet's storage unit beforehand. He ran a quick check of it to determine which direction he had to head out.
"Move out, and keep your eyes and ears open for sentries." Tex said a few moments later, and everyone went silent. Ron turned right and began a fast jog, rifle raised. In the ensuing silence on the COM, he heard the explosions and gunfire in the distance. Somewhere, the ground pounders were fighting with the Covenant, and judging by the sounds, it was an intense battle. For the briefest of moments, as he passed a particularly thick tree, Ron wished that he was out there with the regular marines and Army soldiers and fighting the Covenant head-on, rather than the sneaking around in the dark. But he snapped out of it just as quick as he had thought of it, moving his doubt to a dark corner of his mind.