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Adversus Omnibus Tyrannis

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Chronology;

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

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March 11th, 2298

Outskirts of Karnak, Lombard, Kaiser-II

Yael Avraham, Staff Sergeant

 

“Sergeant! I need your SAW set up on the ridgeline to our left, or we’re gonna’ get pinned down!” Yael shouted as she pointed off towards their left flank. Grizzly team along with a platoon of infantrymen were scouring the glassed remains of downtown Karnak after the Kaiser-II massacre. The Staff Sergeant shouldered the low wall beside Keira, gripping her Mark Three hard enough that her knuckles would have been white beneath the gloves she had on.

 

“Slade! Get your ass over to the left flank! Take McLaughlin with you, he’s got the spare drums!” the Sergeant shouted as several plasma payloads hit the trench that the group was dug into. Yael was a Staff Sergeant put in-charge of the expedition. They’d been assaulted by a Progenitor garrison. Intel had predicted low chance of contact, with the planet having been dark for so long. Boy, were they ever wrong.


 

March 9th, 2298

Outskirts of Karnak, Lombard, Kaiser-II

Yael Avraham, Staff Sergeant

 

“I stared deep into that darkness. Peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming, dreaming dreams no mortal being ever dared to dream before. Edgar Allan Poe sure did have a way with words, I figured. It was a quiet night on Kaiser. My partner Sebastian and I were stationed on overwatch, waiting for the glowsticks to make the push we were all waiting for. It had been approximately seventy-two hours since our arrival. The Forty-First Pathfinder Corps was already boots on the ground prior to our arrival. They’d called for reinforcements after the planet was blockaded by the Ark. Grizzly team and the 89th ID were sent to mop up the city of Karnak, capital of the Lombardi province.” - Y. Avraham

 

The main force was on a beach landing, approximately two clicks from the landing zone. They were digging in along with two other platoons from the Forty-First, some even said there were a few Marauders there. If there were, they sure as hell didn’t see them. They had a guide who led them into the forests overlooking the cliffs of the beach. They were meant to send word if their intel was wrong, and the Progs were launching their assault from a different angle.

 

Sebastian turned to look at Yael from the tree branch he was perched on. “How long do you reckon we’ll be here? Before the glowsticks hit us, I mean,” he asked. She gave him a long stare before responding. She wasn’t quite sure if Sebastian was able to pick up on it or not, but for the first time since Barachian that Yael had been apprehensive about the oncoming fight. Not because they were outnumbered roughly seven to one, but because of that Godawful waiting, the time where nothing happened. At any moment, they could be crept up on. Long the duo sat in the jungle, waiting for a shot that would never come. They were posted fifty five hours before being relieved and sent back to camp. Something big was coming.

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March 11th, 2298

Outskirts of Karnak, Lombard, Kaiser-II

Yael Avraham, Staff Sergeant

 

Yael and Sebastian made their way back down to the beach to link up with the rest of Second Platoon. She couldn’t help but wonder why it was that the beaches of Kaiser were about to turn to glass. It also made her wonder why so many of were prepared to die in order to save a bunch of empty structures, forests no one may even ever step foot in again. The people were long dead. Was it really worth it? One might suppose her own question was answered in due time when she saw just how many Progenitor forces died that day.

 

On the way back to camp they saw what looked like a hole in the sky, but it was only a large explosion in low orbit. They saw a great ball of fire unlike anything they'd ever seen before. It started coming down towards the ocean that lay before them. A battle cruiser, or at least, what was left of one. That was when the men’s morale started to falter, and their loyalties were put to the test. Every man, even a Pathfinder has a response to fight or flight. Yael certainly questioned where her faith was placed. Sebastian considered it, as she did, as she was sure they all did. In the end however, they were soldiers. They had their dues to pay, and so they drew a line in the sand.

 

“It was nearing midday when they finally heard the roar of the engines. Every man started to make his way over to his battle station and began to prepare for it. Without a doubt, this was the beginning of the end. Keira turned and stared at me, but only for a few moments. James seemed to pick up on what she was looking for, and so he patted my companion twice on the shoulder pad before stepping up onto the barricade. He began to shout out, “Gentlemen! This is the last line of defense between our landing zone and those glowing bastards! Now, as you all know, I’m not big on speeches, but I’m going to make an exception today. We’re a part of the damn Forty-First, the best the Federation has to spare for this world! By the time we’re done with it, this beach will be turned to glass, and it’ll be the next goddamn scrap yard this side o’  the planet! For the Federation! For Earth!”

 

I remember several men cheering, James always did have a way with words. I was sure he even got Sebastian to smile. I went from being ready to hear the retreat order to wanting to blast every goddamn prog' that set foot on that beach. We propped our rifles up against the top lining of the trench and we waited. That’s when it all began.

 

We spotted them coming over the hill on the other side of the strait. There were so many of them. We were backed into a corner, meaning they had us outmaneuvered, outgunned and even outmanned by a ratio that we could have sworn was at least seven-to-one. I looked to my right and saw several troopers preparing their launchers. James held up his hand and called out to the rest of the platoon, “Wait for it!” he shouted.

 

The Captain began to shout out towards his men. Over the sound of the engines, and the shouting all over the beach, I couldn’t quite hear what it was he was saying. I only caught segments of it, but were we fighting real men, I’m sure the roar that followed would have shaken them to the very core. “Hold!” cried James to emphasize, as my attention was still fixated on the infantrymen.

 

“Who are we!?” the Captain shouted. “Mobile In-fan-try!” his men boasted in unison. He shouted again and to this very day; even thinking about it, it stirs me. “I can’t hear you, gentlemen! Who are we!?”

 

“Mobile In-fan-try!”

 

Finally, I snapped back into focus. A few moments was far too long to be distracted. Kurt would be ashamed of me. “Fire!” I screamed as soon as the tripods came into the range of our rocketeers. There was too much going on to determine who it was that fired the first shot, but what snapped me back into my deeper focus was the hail of plasma fire, and the rockets that started to impact the beach only meters in front of our trench. We were a secondary line, meaning we had a row of trenches in front of us. Men who didn’t have time to get to their trenches were cut down within the first few moments. We all began to fire back.

 

“Sergeant! I need your SAW set up on the ridgeline to our left, or we’re gonna’ get pinned down!” I shouted and directed him towards a small mound on our Eastern flank. Hotel team was in charge of a platoon of Marines. We were sent to hold a beachhead on the bank of the canal that separated Karnak into two boroughs.

 

“Slade! Get your ass over to the left flank! Take McLaughlin with you, he’s got the spare drums!” Sergeant Doyle shouted towards two of his men. A couple of plasma mortar charges hit near us, causing my teeth to grind. I was a freshly promoted Staff Sergeant then. It was my first big operation in a command element. Salem put a whole lot of faith in me. It's too bad faith alone can't win battles, I'd be a damned war hero.

 

I saw three men from Bravo drop before my very eyes. Ambrose and Vern were next to go. The glowsticks were nearing our trench line and we could do little to stop the first wave with just mark fours and a few missile launchers. I immediately ducked my head down as the turret beside me was blown to pieces. James was mid reload when it happened. An EMP charge went off inside of the trench, followed by a plasma grenade. It stuck to the front of James, prompting him to panic for the first time in his life. His last words; “Yael, get out!” I threw myself over the wall of the trench and buried my respirator in the sand. When I looked back, I saw his face-plate was blown from it’s hinges and he fell onto his back, a smoking hole where his chest once was. His entire body was horribly burned, and he was difficult to recognize. I knew he was dead the moment I laid eyes on him.

 

The man I’d grown up with was gone in an instant. Keira was with me and we saw Sebastian on his back, half buried in sand. I saw him crawl into cover before the two of us emerged from the trench in order to grab him. As we were getting out, a barrage of rockets from an air vehicle that was flying by impacted inside of the trench. The entire squad was wiped out, save for the three of us. I’ll bless Sebastian being in the wrong place at the wrong time until the day I die. I called the fallback order and we all began to stagger back as our line of tanks began to roll up. As I was about to jump down into the next trench line, a jeep exploded beside me. I was caught in the shockwave, that’s when everything went fuzzy. It was dark when I woke again.”

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March 12th, 2298

Outskirts of Karnak, Lombard, Kaiser-II

Yael Avraham, Staff Sergeant

 

When she awoke, she heard naught a sound. No ripples of gunfire, no explosions, no cries of dying men. Yael's eyes peeled open and she glanced around. Still clad in her gear, respirator and all; She brought a hand up to wipe the soot from the visor. Outside of the aide station, she could see a battle raging still. How long had she been out? The entire tent shook, but still she heard nothing. The shaking had prompted her to sit upright, now semi-alert despite the daze. It was rare for her to awake with her head spinning, the sensation as if she were going to vomit. This was new, this was... wrong. A claustrophobic sensation encompassed the Pathfinder while she struggled to get her bearings. Where was the rest of her squad? How far back had they retreated? Where was..- Suddenly, the tent flap rippled open, along with several dots in the side of the soft edifice they found themselves in. In staggered a man, still smouldering. His mouth opened, but Yael could hear no cry as he crumpled to the floor - Plasma wounds having eaten away more of his torso than still remained. The medical personnel rushed to him, but she knew he was already gone. Through the crowd came Keira.

 

The Sergeant shook Yael by the shoulder and hauled her to her feet. It had become apparent now that the Staff Sergeant had been deafened in the blast that had rendered her unconscious. She could hear a distant ringing, but everything was quiet. The breaths that usually echoed inside of her helmet's respirator, the crunching of sand as she walked -- the fact that she was completely oblivious to the war happening outside. Her companion laid her down against a prefabricated metal barricade. There were several scorch marks on it from plasma - it was brittle, but it was better than ..- as they staggered into cover, a Progenitor gunship made its way over. The payload that it delivered landed inches away from the medical tent Yael had just been hauled away from. The earth shook and Keira was thrown to the ground. Yael did not yet know what had happened. She sat there, perfectly and completely dazed. The world spun and her companion fell to the floor with a red-hot rod through her leg - one of the poles of the tent. One of the red constructs vaulted the barricade, rifle in hand. Keira shuffled through the sand. Yael presumed that she was screaming, but couldn't move her legs. vision blurred, everything turned black.

 

What felt like a blink had evidently been longer. Keira was overtop the alien. Yael saw her put one round, two, three into his chest as they struggled. It reared its hand back and socked her in the mouth. She saw blood. Teeth hit the sand. In the depths of her ears, Avraham could hear the faintest of whispers, noise. Teasing her, taunting her as she sat - an observer to what was likely a massacre. Her companion withdrew her helmet - she always did struggle, that one. Struggled through the training, struggled with their commanders, now struggled for her life. She beat the beast over the head. Once. Twice. Mid-way through the third swing her arm was caught. It twisted ninety degrees to the side and her elbow broke through the skin. Yael did not hear her friend scream, yet watched as she was picked up and suplexed into the dirt. The progenitor raised its rifle and put her out of her misery with naught a thought of remorse. She was gone.

 

Yael's heart skipped a beat as the beast turned to look at her. She was not moving. She did not dare breathe. It turned and continued on its way. Avraham was alone. She reached down towards her side as her adrenaline had slowly begun to fade. Slumping over onto her back and looking up at the stars, it became quickly apparent to her that she'd caught a stray round in the fray. She was dying, and she could feel it. Whether or not she would survive the night was uncertain, but it was looking grim. Caught out and alone with her senses impaired, she uttered but one small promise that she herself couldn't even hear.

 

"I'm coming, James."

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August 24th, 2298

BCT-481 'Bernard Montgomery', Orbit Above Saturn, Sol System

Operation Helios - 5 Hours Before Drop

Yael Avraham, Staff Sergeant

 

"We've got our orders," Pomeroy said after the Lieutenant left the briefing room. He was an old face which Yael recognized. She was a Corporal back then, on Barachian Nine. They'd done some wet-work together, long before any threat of the Progenitors; Long before Terra took a spill. "Now - I'm not a fancy Jesus man or nothin', but -" He paused for a moment, looking around the room. Some faces were familiar, others weren't. Himself, Garry Pomeroy; Sebastian DeVantos, the cowboy; Yael Avraham; the preacher; David Royce, the FNG; Ryan Slade, the quiet guy. Pomeroy had met Slade in another unit. He was not with Van and her on Kaiser. She was lucky to be alive, she figured. Van found her half-buried in sand almost a day after the line had been overrun. It wasn't her time. Not yet. It had been a while since anything particularly bad had happened to her. Yael seldom got cold feet, but now was one of those times. "- d'you have anything you wanna' add before we start gettin' dressed?"

 

A nod. Yael stood up and so did everyone else. They gathered around Pomeroy and her on the floor of the briefing room. Everyone, save for Royce lowered their heads, as they'd all been here before. The new guy followed suit. No one dared speak a word, save for their local fanatic. She'd been like this for as long as she could remember. She had not held faith in her youth, but there was something about what her job did that made her yearn for something to hold onto. The quiet notion of killing political figures, being responsible for the deaths of what could potentially be thousands of your fellow humans - it bore a weight on you as a person, she figured. She would not seek out God for strength. She would seek Him out for but one purpose; To atone.

 

 

"Blessed be the Lord my strength, which teacheth my hands to war and my fingers to fight.    

    My goodness, my fortress, my high-tower and my deliverer;

    My shield, and He in whom I trust; Who subdueth my people under me.

    In you I trust, O' my God.

    Do not let me be put to shame.

    Do not let my enemies triumph over me.

    In times of yore I was lost, but you've opened my eyes.

    I have been given a glimpse into my life;

    As if suddenly shown a tapestry.

    As if a light had been kindled in the dark;

    Where I thought I was alone, I am surrounded by souls.

    Where I thought myself powerful, I am blessedly weak.

    Where the strength of God, is made powerful in that weakness.

    Where I thought there was chaos, there is a pillar of fire and the hand of the one true Lord.

    These forces we have gathered are children, as David was;

    But let our enemies be Goliath.

    We will show them that the battle is the Lord's.

    That it has been He who was weaving the tapestries all along."

 

 

Yael paused for breath. She dare not open her eyes, in fear that she would once more have to face a harsh reality. But a few more moments in that solace, the ignorant bliss that was faith with her brothers for but a few moments longer - that was a desire nothing would ever dare quench.

 

"Amen."

 

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August 24th, 2298

M4 Trojan Horse 647, BCT-481 'Bernard Montgomery', Orbit Above Terra

Operation Helios - 0 Hours After Drop

Yael Avraham, Staff Sergeant

 

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It’s better after you unload. Until you do, you sit there in total darkness, wrapped like a mummy against
the accelerations, barely able to breathe — and knowing that there is just nitrogen around you in the
capsule even if you could get your helmet open, which you can’t — and knowing that the capsule is

surrounded by the firing tube anyhow and if the ship gets hit before they fire you, you haven’t got a

prayer, you’ll just die there, unable to move, helpless. It’s that endless wait in the dark that causes the
shakes — thinking that they’ve forgotten you... the ship has been hulled and stayed in orbit, dead, and
soon you’ll buy it, too, unable to move, choking. Or it’s a crash orbit and you’ll buy it that way, if you
don’t roast on the way down.
 
 

Yael brought a hand up in the cramped space, touching at her neck in order to try and relieve the itch. The capsule was dark, it was claustrophobic. The small glass pane was dark, given that they had not yet launched. She sat in her capsule, offering a few more words up to the deity she wasn't quite sure listened to her anymore, given she prayed so much of late. Finally, after what felt like an eternity the green light came on. With naught but a brief 'thud' Yael was launched alongside a few hundred other trooper capsules. They were in freefall, breaking through the atmosphere. The shaking nearly made her sick, despite having done it a dozen or so times before. Something you never get used to.

 

Deep breath, check the oxygen, check the fuel gauge. Green, green. Green light. Punch it. You hit the thruster locks on both of the sticks and shifted the pod to manual. Stick to Grizzly-One, hit the D-Z. Easy money. So you thought. Idiot.

 

“Five, check your spacing!” he called out to you. Spy the distance gauge, twenty meters. Too close for comfort. You changed to forty. Check the watch. Forty seven seconds. Landfall from the Montgomery was seventy-seven. Forty eight. Forty nine. Fifty. Pop the chute.

 

“Chute check! Watch it, four! You’re going to miss your mark on chute two if you keep fuckin’ around like that! On the dime or you'll get killed!” Pomeroy called to Van. He was a cowboy, and frankly you thought that was both the greatest and the worst thing about him. He inspired confidence in you, probably because he was so goddamn stupid. You loved every second of it.

 

Deep breath, check the timer. Fifty five. Fifty six. Fifty -

 

“What in the goddamn..?” came the crackled voice of the cowboy over the radio. He was beginning to break up. You spotted a large, glowing projectile heading towards your formation. It detonated beneath you, which you saw when you looked down through the glass of your pod. "There's the missile, they did it boys!" he called out. Soon after, whatever followed from Pomeroy's comlink was cut short by the ensuing EMP wave that followed the detonation of the ICBM over the Americas. There was no plasma fire on the way down, nothing at all. That's what got you most. How bad was it on the ground? How bad did the missiles fuck them? You've never been happier to be in power ar-..

 

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Your entire pod shut down, warning lights flashing. Suddenly, the entire coffin shifted and began to spiral out of control as two pods collided midair, a result of the ensuing shock wave that followed the blast. The spinning accelerated the G-force that collected from the fall. You pulled the prompt for the chute, which fluttered and tangled itself immediately in the spin. Your vision swam until you could do naught but close your eyes and hold on for dear life until your vision faded to black.

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0530

August 25th, 2298

I95, D.C Outskirts, Western Hemisphere

Operation Helios - 3 Hours After Drop

Yael Avraham, Staff Sergeant

 

 

“Pedal to the metal, cowboy!” Garry urged as Van swerved out of the way of a plasma mortar charge. The 11th Morita Division was pushing up and what remained of Chalk One served as an auxiliary unit alongside the 31st Air Cavalry. This included fireteams Grizzly and Alabaster, both of which were armored Pathfinder units. The best they had for the moment were VTOLs and a few Thunderbolts, but it was hopefully enough to mount a large enough assault to clear a beachhead for a second landing at the mouth of the city. It was them or the Progenitor forces. Both forces met on the highway East of the city; The winner would rout their enemy and push for the gates of D.C. The idea was for the 31st Air Cav' to cover the 11th while they pushed for the monument. From there, Fireteam Grizzly would designate targets for their fighters and cover an infantry landing within the confines of the city itself.

 

Yael swung the turret on their technical from front to back in order to clip the engines on one of the laser quad-planes which had flown over them with the intent of lasing the convoy. The thrusters gave out as the left wing broke. The small copter began to spin out, spiraling down behind the convoy as it ate shit and fell nose first into the dirt. The Staff Sergeant swung the gun forward again before beginning to fire towards the tripod horde which marched out to meet them.

 

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Several smaller three-legged edifices strode out on the flank, coming up the ON and OFF ramps respectively in order to pincer the group from three sides. "Go--oooaah my God!" Royce cried from the passenger seat . Yael spun the gun around in order to aim for the one leading the charge, only to watch a friendly vic' take a t-bone to the side, ripping the vehicle apart as the rugged alien rampaged through the side of it like a hot knife through butter. “Yaaael!” the cowboy cried out as he struggled to keep the faster of the two from rear-ending them. In the fray, it was difficult to find support from the rest of the mechanized group-mates, given that everyone seemed to be engaging someone. “I’m working on it, I’m working on it!” she shouted back. The edifice opened fire in order to reciprocate the deal of lead that she put down range. A shell ricocheted from the turret shield, bending it mercilessly and leaving her left pectoral exposed.

 

The lead assailant was taken down, causing a second to trip over the corpse that crumpled to the floor and practically flip over. It would have been comical, were they not fighting for their lives. Maybe it was comical, given that Yael began cackling maniacally while she fired the chain gun. "Come on, you son of a -..." She was interrupted with several bullets from the feed spewing up and in her face as an edifice round caught it, effectively jamming the weapon. "Van! The gun's dead!" she cried. Garry leaned back up against the base of the turret, given that he was seated in the back with her. “Yael, clear my backblast!” he called. The woman sat up on the crossbar of the vehicle - a dangerous but necessary maneuver. She held on for her life and nearly fell out and under the wheels as the entire car shook from the blast of the rocket. It caught the edifice chasing them and prompted it to disintegrate before their very eyes, chunks and legs spewing every which way.

 

“Welcome to Earth, asshole!” he cried.

 

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The technical rode between the legs of a tripod, taking several rounds in the process. The engine sputtered and the group ploughed through the guardrail and off of the interstate, cut off and left to their own devices away from the walkers - and their friends. "Keep goin', we'll catch up with you!" Garry called over the battlenet as he threw his rocket pack over the side of the flatbed and into the dirt. Him and Yael disembarked, grabbing their rifles. Yael took the rocket pack in order to load bear for Garry, given that he had the M55 and the nukes.

 

"Guess we're goin' on foot," the cowboy murmured.


"No fuck, eh?" Garry asked, as if he were appalled something so stupid could come out of Van's mouth.

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August 27th, 2298

Isolation Room 3, BCT-481 'Bernard Montgomery', Orbit Above Terra

Operation Helios - 50 Hours After Drop

Gerald Pomeroy, Warrant Officer

 

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Garry passed the file back to Doctor Monroe, before leaning back in his chair and taking a huff from his cigarette. His hands were still shaking, despite the fact that he'd been back for a couple of hours. The Ark was down, that was it, right? Not quite. His men were still down there on that planet. Somewhere; That shitty, fucking mound of dirt that they called home. It wasn't home anymore, not to him. It was old news. "I told you, doctor. I saw them die. All of them. DeVantos, Royce -" a pause. He shot a second glance to Yael's file, the only one he didn't close the cover of. Her picture stared at him and it made his stomach twist in a way he didn't quite comprehend. "- Even her."

 

"Go over it again for me, mister Pomeroy," the Doc' requested. "For the record," he tacked on.

 

"Alright, we'll go over it again. For the record."

 

 

August 25th, 2298

National Mall, D.C Cityskape, Western Hemisphere

Operation Helios - 5 Hours After Drop

Yael Avraham, Staff Sergeant

 

 

The fighting had been going on for a little over an hour before Pomeroy, Avraham and a few other men from Chalk-One showed up to the rally point. They had roughly ten men, which gave them enough grain to organize into two fireteams. The men from Alabaster didn’t show, which meant that they had likely been regrouping someplace else depending on where they they'd been re-routed, or perhaps even continued on with their mission. Royce and Slade stayed behind with DeVantos and another Pathfinder by the name of Ethan Marco. Yael was put with Pomeroy, Royce, alongside two men she was less acquainted with - namely one Sergeant Neil Jackson and a Staff Sergeant Hailey Crux.
 

Once they were organized, Royce withdrew the anti-material rifle he had maglocked to his back and slid a magazine in. Once the bolt racked, he shouldered the rifle into a point-aim once they made their way out the back and off towards a nearby pile of rubble to flank their enemy from. They didn’t make it far before a surprise attack came from a series of progenitors alongside an edifice escort. Yael caught a spike round to the shoulder and one to the receiver of her rifle, which prompted her to drop it and scurry back into cover. A progenitor baron made its way out from cover and took a swing at Royce. Narrowly surviving, the Corporal dropped his heavy rifle in the interest of speed. Several shots were fired from Pomeroy and Crux, though they were seperated - two on each side of a large stone barrier, cut off by a plasma grenade stuck to the wall.
 

Royce fell on his back after Yael was promptly thrown against a car wreck, narrowly avoiding the grenade. However his luck did not last long. Before he could scurry to his feet, his assailant was on him and Yael was still disoriented from the blow. It was all she could do to turn around and watch as her newfound comrade was bludgeoned mercilessly to death. It wasn’t until the sound of Royce’s screams ceased that the rest of her fireteam had shown up.

 

At least he died quick, Yael figured. He was the first from Chalk One to go.

 

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It took mere moments for the other fireteam to collapse on the baron. Under the suppressing fire of several more men, the now-angered monster was forced into a deadly blood rage after taking a hit from Pomeroy's railgun. Tossing the door it ripped off of the car near Yael - which was raised above its head, prepared to finish her, it struck Crux in the leg and caused her femur to bend ninety degrees with a teeth-clenching ‘snap!’ She fell to the ground and was unceremoniously crushed to death as the behemoth walked over her towards his next victim. Crux drew her knife in a last ditch effort and dug it into the inside of the beast’s leg. It did not pause or give way, leaving her choking in the dirt as he ran up on Van and the Warrant Officer. Pomeroy was picked up and thrown aside, rendered unconscious as his head knocked the cement wall. With enough concentrated fire, the large monster was taken down - though not without taking one final pound at Marco. His neck broke, killing him instantly. He was the third to die.
 

Van and Slade began to drag Pomeroy with them while the last remaining man aside from Yael was peppered by fire from a passing quad-copter. A friendly techinal with several engineers inside pulled up, gun spooled and firing. The two men in the front got out while the gunner worked on the enemy. They had air superiority over the Federation, which meant that it was going to be one bloody skirmish. The fact that the Ark could be seen off in the distance didn't help, either. In another pass from the aircraft, the man on the turret was taken down and the other two engineers ran for cover, though were quickly stomped out by flanking edifices. Van and his companion hurried the unconscious squad leader into the vehicle for getaway.

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August 25th, 2298

Washington Monument, D.C Cityskape, Western Hemisphere

Operation Helios - 6 Hours After Drop

Yael Avraham, Staff Sergeant

 

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Looking out over the ruins of the city was something else, way up there from that tower. The trenches below were filled with the men Chalk-One had rode in with initially. A firefight ensued, keeping that long stretch of land secured. What was left of Grizzly was stationed uptop with the laser des' and the LRR. Over the battlefield soared a flight of two Valkyries, moving down for a gun run on the edifices coming out of the ruins towards them. They were like angels, Yael figured. If Angels carried chalks of infantrymen and had big fuck-off rotary cannons. These weren't CAS, they were ferry boats. That could only mean one thing. Down by the old dome-shaped building on the far end of the square were multiple tripods accompanying a platoon-sized horde of edifices alongside who-knew-how-many infantrymen. Several were cut down, the ships themselves circling back around in order to drop their chalks off - reinforcements, for once they had good news. It wasn't until then that Yael's manpack crackled to life.

 

"<:: Mobcomm, this is Stingray-Two-One, checking in with you. Flight of two F-76s, holding area X-Ray, at Angels twelve. Two Mark-Six Rotary Cannons, thousand rounds a piece for this sector. Over."

 

"Mobcomm copies, Two-One. Standby. I have Grizzly-One on the ground requesting immediate CAS for map grid Papa-November-Six-Seven-Niner-Three-One-Seven. Break. Push for I-P Jameson How copy? Over."

 

"<:: Solid copy. Map grid Papa-November-Six-Seven-Niner-Three-One-Seven; Pushing to IP Jameson. Over."

 

"Grizzly-One, this is Mobcomm. You have Stingray-Two-One, flight of two F-76s at Angels twelve pushing to IP Jameson. Over."

 

Yael unhooked the receiver and spoke into it, "Grizzly-One copies all, M-C. Out. Stingray-Two-One, this is Grizzly. Standby for information, over."

 

"<:: Stingray, standing by. Over."

 

"T-O-T Two-Zero. Close-in fire support, non standard, minus-one to minus-ten and plus-six to plus-eight. Gun target line zero-nine-zero. We'll talk you in, how copy, over?" she replied.

 

"<::Solid copy on all, go ahead, over."

 

August 25th, 2298

F-76 Thunderbolt 'Stingray-Two-One', Airspace Above D.C, Western Hemisphere

Operation Helios - 6 Hours After Drop

Mitchell Jennings, Ensign

 

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Jennings glanced out the window of his bird, peering off in the distance while he held a straight-away. He was assigned to Stingray-Two-One as a wingman for Lieutenant Raymond Bolivar. They had just refueled and were being sent to assist a Pathfinder group which would be lazing targets in order to secure the MSR Guerilla on the East side of the city. Off in the distance he was able to spy a large structure in the sky. Thinking of naught other than in the moment, Mitch raised a finger towards it. "I'm comin' f'you next, you big som'bitch," the southerner let out. It was a large mobile platform, which was the entire purpose of the D.C invasion. Air Cav' and the Pathfinders were to gang up for a joint offensive in order to disable the shield arrays on the ground so that Fleet could take it out in order to allot for air superiority in the region. It was out of range of the city itself, but slowly growing near, which meant that the ground teams only had one shot at those generators. Jennings and Bolivar had one run, and they had to make it count. There were whispers of a force being organized to take on the Ark itself. What a delight that would be.

   

Jennings clipped his respirator on which was also linked to his comms. "<:: Mobcomm, this is Stingray-Two-One, checkin' in with you. Flight o' two F-76s, holding area X-Ray, at Angels twelve. Two Mark-Six Rotary Cannons, thousan' rounds a piece for this section. Over."

   

"Mobcomm copies, Two-One. Standby. I have Grizzly-One on the ground requesting immediate CAS for map grid Papa-November-Six-Seven-Niner-Three-One-Seven. Break. Push for I-P Jameson. How copy? Over."

   

IP Jameson was West of the monument, which meant that they would likely be somewhere between seventy-five and one-fifteen bearing East for a gun-run. He shifted North-Easterly so that he and Bolivar could come in even with the strip itself. "<:: Solid copy. Map grid Papa-November-Six-Seven-Niner-Three-One-Seven; Pushing to IP Jameson. Over."

   

"Grizzly-One, this is Mobcomm. You have Stingray-Two-One, flight of two F-76s at Angels twelve pushing to IP Jameson. Over."

   

A woman's voice appeared over the radio. She sounded apprehensive to him, though also relieved. A funny sensation washed over him, he felt good about her tone of voice. "Grizzly-One copies all, M-C. Out. Stingray-Two-One, this is Grizzly. Standby for information, over."

 

"<:: You hear that, Ray? We're goin' in hot!" he called over his internal comms to his wingman.

   

"<:: Yeah, I hear you. Keep your head, Mitch. The coordinates they gimme' are right outside of attack point Zulu. See that big dome-shaped building down there? It's inside. We've got to walk them to it." Bolivar replied.

   

"<:: Stingray, standing by. Over." he returned over the long-range channel.

   

"T-O-T Two-Zero. Close-in fire support, non standard, minus-one to minus-ten and plus-six to plus-eight. Gun target line zero-nine-zero. We'll talk you in, how copy, over?" the voice called to him.

   

"<::Solid copy on all, go ahead, over." Jennings said back.

   

"About five-hundred meters North of Infant Plaza, there's a long stretch of grassland. Call contact."

   

He glanced down and eyed the trench line by the monument. "<:: Contact."

   

"On the North end of that grassland there's a road running East to West, call contact."

   

"<:: Contact."

 

"We're in the large pyramid-building roughly one mile West of the target building. Call contact."

   

He eyed the monument. It had a few holes in it, but he could spot the IR strobes poking through the holes in the side of it. Friendlies. That was his JTAC. "<::Contact."

   

"Target is a column of tri-walkers moving East to West down that road. Be advised, a friendly trench line is mid-way between us and that column packed full of wounded casualties awaiting evac. No I-R. Over."

   

The two TAC fighters came in from the south, banking around the far Western side of the monument in order to come in straight on the long stretch. "<:: Here we go, Mitch. Watch the tower, we hittem' fast and low," the Lieutenant called to him.

   

"<:: Fast and low," Jennings replied as they came in on the straightaway. He lined himself up with the column of walkers. If they went down, the infantry would have a clear push for the oval building to take down the platform's shields. This was it. This was his moment.

   

"<::Stingray has contact on all. We're passing I-P Jameson, coming into heading zero-nine-zero. Over." he called down to the woman on the ground.

   

"Roger that, bring the rain!" she screamed back as a missile impacted the side of the monument.

   

"<:: Stingray off safe," he called. "<::Guns-guns-guns." He pulled down on the trigger of his stick in order to open up on the walkers with the forty millimeter auto-cannons. They shredded the edifices and infantry moving in front of the walkers. The first couple went down.

   

"<:: Dash-two off safe. Rollin' in." his wingman called as he opened up with the secondaries. "<::Guns-guns-guns." The first two walkers went down easy, the third went down with the combined fire. The fourth walker locked on to Jennings' craft, causing his systems to begin beeping. Flares didn't work against plasma missiles.  Woops. It fired.

   

"<::Apex, coming in hot! Break left, break left!" The first missile clipped his wing, the second flew past him. His craft began to spin out, headed towards the streets below. It was nauseating and in tangent with that, he couldn't hear anything coming from his wingman. "<::I'm hit! Two-One is hit, I'm ejecting, I.. - Ray!" he called as he looked over his shoulder and saw the plume of fire that erupted as his partner crashed himself into the last walker as a last-ditch effort to take it down while he was spinning out. Jennings closed his eyes and smacked the release. It came quickly. He felt his canopy bust open as he was sucked upward. He could feel the cool air kissing at him through the body glove he was embedded in. He dangled for a moment, suspended in midair as he opened his eyes to see the city looming over him - now outside of the cockpit. His chute deployed and he began to soar Northerly into the ruins, into unknown territory.

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August 25th, 2298

National Mall, D.C Cityskape, Western Hemisphere

Operation Helios - 9 Hours After Drop

Yael Avraham, Staff Sergeant

 

 

"What do you mean we're going back out there?" Van protested as Yael made her way down the stairs out front of the building they'd come out of. Inside was the generator. They alongside the remains of Chalk-One were tasked with blowing it up. They did, but it wouldn't have happened without their air support. Yael was determined to find that pilot that'd saved all their asses. Two went down, one chute popped. One was enough.

 

"I mean to say that -I- am going back out there," she replied, not stopping to talk to him. "Chalk-One's mission is over. Go back with the infantry," she told him as she smacked the receiver on her rifle into place once it was reloaded. Garry was the team leader, but he followed Yael out without a protest; Slade didn't say a whole lot in general and would likely go wherever the team went. Van was a wildcard, though. He didn't care much for people he didn't know, and for good reason. It's what got the Lieutenant killed back on Barachian-Nine. The operation shaped and molded the kind of operator that Van would go on to be, Yael reckoned. She often mused with the thought of whether or not he might be different if Bronson were still with them.

 

He stopped in his tracks and looked at them go down the stairs. Yael glanced over her shoulder. She saw DeVantos stop, but didn't call out to him. She took the other two and continued down the street. Once they were on the pavement, the Staff Sergeant shouldered her rifle and began to head Northward with the other two. Yael did not regret her decision to leave him behind; He was a coward, she thumbed him as. He owed the mission to that pilot, they all did. She likely wouldn't be alive with out him, which meant that she now owed him her life. The rest of her team wasn't obligated to go, she was neither in command nor did she have orders to bring him back. Mobcomm would get a hell of a surprise when they found out Van was the only operator on the boat.

 

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It wasn't long into their track back into the unknown cityscape that they made contact. "Down!" she hissed over their internal helmet comms. Yael hit the deck while the other two took a knee behind an old jersey barrier. Several edifices and roughly a dozen progenitor infantrymen made their way through the alleyway and crossed the street into the next one. They were patrolling, looking for something. Yael figured they saw the pilot go down, too, and were on the move for him. Suddenly, they took off into a sprint. There were no gunshots - at least, none that were close to them at the moment. Something else was going on.

 

"What's going on?" Slade asked.

 

"That pilot's just popped his beacon," Yael explained as she looked at her tac-pad on her forearm.

 

"The whole city's going to be coming down on that asshole," Garry chimed in.

 

"So are we," Yael concluded as she got up and began to haul-ass after the glow-men.

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I've posted 2 updates in 1 go to make up for my tardiness.

 

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August 25th, 2298

Union Station, D.C Cityskape, Western Hemisphere

Operation Helios - 10 Hours After Drop

Yael Avraham, Staff Sergeant

 

"Three.." Yael began to count back. They'd tracked their downed pilot to an old train station. He was holed up in the maintenance wing and there was roughly a company-sized progenitor force sweeping the building. "Two.." They made an effort to hail him over comms, but it was no good. "One.." They could hear shooting coming from inside. Stacked up outside of the auxiliary entrance, Pomeroy had just finished setting up the door-kicker. He stood waiting while Slade kept the shotgun raised.

 

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Then came the blast from the charge. The door was blown off its hinges. Slade took point and put down the first progenitor to cross his path. Yael swept in second, followed thirdly by Garry. The three of them cleared the first room in but a few moments. That's when the shooting down the hall stopped. "Hey, boss!?" Garry called. There was something satisfying about her superior saying that. Before he could follow up, an edifice broke through the wall and crashed into Pomeroy, pinning him to the wall as it tried to spear him. He pushed against it while he was leveraged between the monster and the brick. Yael opened fire on the opening it had created in order to prevent the thralls pushing out of it from taking cover. Cutting them down early was always easier than flushing them out.

 

Slade pressed the shotgun to the side of the edifice and pulled the trigger. His large, metallic slug blew through the beast and out the other side. A slosh of blue came out the other end, a few chunks with it. It was as if he'd just popped the lid and dumped a bucket of paint on the wall. Pomeroy and the edifice fell to the floor. "Gerald, are you good?" she shouted over the rifle fire. With Yael's suppressing fire, Garry affirmed that he was alright by moving up and stacking against the left side of the breach, Slade on the right. Once she paused to reload, they both pushed inside. There was a single door at the end of the hall with a red progenitor bearing a sword. He made his way towards the group. Garry took a knee whilst Yael fired a few rounds, point-shooting for centre mass. A slug, two, three - it went down. The Staff Sergeant took a deep breath, before the door at the end of the hall opened. Out of ammunition, she brought up her sidearm to train on the door.

 

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Out stepped the pilot, covered in blue. The claymores they'd left at their breach point went off, which caused Yael to lower her weapon. The pilot called out to her; They were both human, which meant no introductions were necessary. No thank you, no time for sentimentals.  All he said was, "We've got hostiles."

 

Yael liked him already.

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August 25th, 2298

Union Station, D.C Cityskape, Western Hemisphere

Operation Helios - 10 Hours After Drop

Yael Avraham, Staff Sergeant

 

"I've always felt alone. My whole life, for as long as I can remember. I don't know if I... like it, or If I'm just used to it. But I do know this: Being lonely does things to you - and feeling shit and bitter and angry all the time? It eats away at you. Do me one thing, boss. Never pass up a good thing."  - S. DeVantos

 

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What remained of Grizzly team stepped out onto the roof of the building. Launcher in hand, Pomeroy took a knee and fired. His missile connected with the gunship that was floating above, causing it to spiral. A few fragments burst from the chassis before the entire vehicle blew through the roof, separating Slade and Ensign Jennings from Yael and Garry. The building was surrounded, Yael peered briefly over the side in order to view what looked like a platoon's worth of thralls entering through the front doors of the complex. Pomeroy and Slade fired through the hole in the roof, cutting a few down; It wasn't enough, and in the crossfire, the FNG took a round to the side which caused him to recoil and crumple to the ground. Slade hissed beneath his breath as he instinctively covered the wound with his hand. Moments later, a progenitor plasma lance was shoved into the access hatch, beginning to cut it open. A sudden voice appeared over the team's radio;

 

"A little bird came n' telled me that you all could use an airlift!" called the familiar voice of the Cowboy as a Valkyrie came into sight, circling the roof as it began to lower itself.

 

The ship lowered itself down on Yael and Garry's side of the roof. The hatch lowered, revealing DeVantos who immediately began firing down through the hole in the roof. "Come on!" he screamed, "We've gotta' go -right now-!"

 

The gap in the roof was large enough for Jennings to jump, but it was unlikely that Slade would make it in his current state, he couldn't even stand. He was helped to cover by the pilot. "-- You've got to go," he called to him as he struggled to reload his rifle, hands shaking as he took several deep raspy breaths. The Ensign reached down and pulled the empty magazine free from Slade's carbine, reached into his vest and withdrew a fresh magazine. He slapped it in and primed a round before handing it back.

 

"I'm not leavin' you here, pal," he called down to him.

 

"Listen to me," Slade wheezed out as he reached up to grab the collar of the man's flight suit. "You get me up, and I'll hold them off. Go!" he cried. To that, Jennings complied. He helped the dying operator up to one knee, though he could raise no higher. He rested himself against a piece of rubble, propping up his rifle. "You get the fuck out of here, sir!"  he demanded. The most amount of words Yael had ever heard the man say came right before he died. They had the opportunity to cheat death, but Avraham figured that She would get Her due eventually. To that the man turned and sprinted, hopping the gap and rushing towards the safety of the Valkyrie. By then, Avraham and Pomeroy were already inside. The door burst open just as they took off. The team watched helplessly as Slade fired off roughly half of his magazine before being cut down. The hatch closed, concealing them inside of the container.

 

He was gone.

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we back

 

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August 26th, 2298

Arlington Outskirts, West Virginia, Western Hemisphere

Operation Helios - 30 Hours After Drop

Yael Avraham, Staff Sergeant

 

With the D.C invasion having been an utter disaster, Fireteam Grizzly had been assigned once again with the 11th Morita Division in order to push for the teleporter pad that would carry them up to the mobile gun platform that was the target for their joint operation. The objective had been completed, but things had gotten much worse over the course of the next day once enemy reinforcements had arrived. With the shields down, Progenitor forces gathered within the Arlington courthouse across the river in order to keep their pad on the roof secure. Garry had been put in charge of Second Platoon for the duration of the operation, given that they had no remaining officers or SNCOs save for a single Staff Sergeant.

 

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“Here we go, boys n’ girls,” Pomeroy piped up as he walked down the corridor of the boat. Sat inside was what remained of Grizzly Team; Yael, Garry, the cowboy along with two more men who had managed to link up with them after they’d set up a foothold in D.C; Staff Sergeant Vincent Delevingne and Warrant Officer James Dale. The UCF was pushing further into the city, though there was far more resistance than anticipated. During the battle of the Potomac, the Progenitors' counter attack in the form of a landing force had managed to sneak in two smaller gun platforms, both of which unloaded an entire legion each of ground forces within the confines of the AO. They took over the city and sacked it while the infantry’s landing parties were occupied elsewhere. A bold, but very clever move. They had been outsmarted. “This one’s for all the chips,” Garry said as he racked the bolt of his rifle. “Check your gear, check your magwells and get ready for some dick-to-butt with some goddamn aliums.”

 

Van pulled the charging handle on his anti material rifle back, watching Garry in passing as he addressed the men. The plan was that they would be landing roughly six blocks from the target building. Yael figured that, that was a load of bullshit, given how the boat was already beginning to rattle from idle plasma fire and progenitor triple A. The boat shuddered and groaned as it caught fire from a progenitor plasma turret positioned on a rooftop. The flight wing broke formation, but it was too late for First Platoon’s bird. The right engine caught fire and promptly exploded, taking half of the wing with it. “<:: Charlie Foxtrot! They’ve got triple A - I can’t hold her!” the pilot screamed. Their own pilot piped up soon after, a young woman, “<:: Everybody hold on! Asses down, heads up! Brace yourselves, we’re goin' in hot!"

 

With little warning, a sudden hole was torn in the side of the boat. The suction tore the four or five men closest to the hole straight out of the ship and into a free-fall with no means of saving themselves. Yael figured the majority would die before they even hit the ground. Pomeroy maglocked his boots to the floor and put his helmet on, "We'll be alright!" he screamed as he looked over the shouting men and women inside of the dropship. "Keep your heads and we'll -"

 

The breach in the hull got worse as the metal around it gave way. The carrier compartment of the boat tore in half, launching the group out into a flail. Yael disengaged the lock from her seat and spread her limbs like a starfish in order to stabilize herself during the fall. She peered briefly over her shoulder in order to catch a glimpse of both Van and Pomeroy, alongside two-dozen mobile infantrymen all flailing through the air. So much for having two-platoon at their back, she figured. It wasn't long after that that the ship was hit directly by a bolt of plasma, prompting the fuse lodge to combust, taking the entire boat with it.

 

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August 26th, 2298

Arlington Outskirts, West Virginia, Western Hemisphere

Operation Helios - 30 Hours After Drop

Yael Avraham, Staff Sergeant

 

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Van flopped down beside Yael and Garry after they finally made landfall. There was a war going on, and there sat three bumblefuck operators in the dead centre of a mortar crater. Van reached up to slide his helmet off, setting it down in the dirt beside him. "You know, guys," the cowboy began as he slid a cigarette into his mouth. He struck the wheel on his lighter and brought it up to his smoke. He took a toke into the flame in order to get it going. " - we've really got to stop meeting like this," he noted with a shit-eating grin crossing his dirt-caked features.

 

Pomeroy and Yael both turned to look at him, watching Van as he sat without a care in the world despite the fact that there was lead and plasma flying a few inches above their heads. Were he a foot taller, he'd probably be dead. "You know, Sebastian, I really think I fuckin' hate you sometimes," Pomeroy chided from within the safety of his helmet. Yael could only scoff as she sat with Garry's launcher over her lap. DeVantos' only reply was another toke from his cigarette, which he exhaled through his nose. "Alright. Gerald, buddy. Listen. Listen.." he began. There was a pause in the exchange of rhetoric, leaving both of them looking at Van expectantly. After a few moments of not saying anything, Garry got impatient. "Well go on then, hotshot!" he exclaimed.

 

"Oh, you're waitin' on me?" Van retorted with a bemused huff. With that, he quickly tossed his cigarette out, threw his helmet on and vaulted over the dirt pile and up into the open field. "Once more into the breach, eh!?" he shouted back as he began to run off towards the fight.

 

"Oh, mother -fucker-!" Gerald shouted as he and Yael suddenly got up to follow him. Stupid bastard, she thought. She loved every second of it, nothing was better than Sebastian and Gerald's banter to her.

 

The three came upon First Platoon's bird about a quarter mile through the field. The boat hit the dirt and the top of the two back doors tore off in the fall. The interior was pretty bad, a dozen or so dead mobile infantrymen with a few more scattered around outside. The men who were still alive were getting themselves re-organized. The pilots weren’t so lucky. The cockpit landed up against a rock, the jagged face of which came right into the cockpit and crushed the both of them to death, everyone in the back was hardly worse for wear. “Up! Get up!” their Lieutenant called. By that time, Yael was getting to cover and setting up a perimeter. Adrenaline spiked, it carried her onward for the moment given that they had just run through an open field with automatic plasma fire barreling down around them.

 

Van took his rifle out and set up against the rock face. They were on the far side of the city, by the coast. They could see the spotlights from the R-V. It was getting dark and the district was crawling with Progenitors. They had to get there and find out what was happening with the rest of Chalk-Two from B Company. It was a couple miles of hiking through a battle-infested concrete jungle. How hard could it be?

 

Mid-way up the beach in the rock formation, Van caught the glint of a Progenitor's glow and ushered his team mates into cover. “Down, down!” he let out on internal comms. “I saw him,” Yael contributed. She readied the launcher, but Pomeroy shook his head. “Hit him with the fifty,” he instructed Van. “Yeah?” the cowboy asked, “Let’s show this som’bitch how we boys from Iskander do.”

 

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August 26th, 2298

Arlington, West Virginia, Western Hemisphere

Operation Helios - 31 Hours After Drop

Yael Avraham, Staff Sergeant

 

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"You know, Chief," Van began as the trio stepped through the hole in the wall of an old storefront. He patted the side of his rifle once he stacked up near the front door, ready to move out on Gerald's order, "I could blow up the whole goddamn world with this thing," he followed up with. The fighting had died down a little, resulting in a stalemate somewhere in the middle of Arlington. Van, Yael and Garry were tasked with finding a weak point in the Progenitor line so that the infantry could lead a spearhead through in order to push straight to the target building with a single, daring offensive. The door slowly opened up as Pomeroy peaked his head out, scanning the area. "Whose turn is it?" he asked. They had been rotating first runners. Everyone wanted to go first, considering you were less likely to be shot if you were the first man across the street, rather than the second or God forbid the third. It was raining out, probably cold and windy, from the look of things.

 

"Mine, I think," Yael spoke up. She hadn't been paying attention. "Oh, you little fuckin' cheater!" Van stage-whispered with a chuckle. "You went before Garry did. We all know it's my run, but listen, because you're afraid, I'll letcha' go first." Yael knew he winked at her, somehow she knew that he did, even if he had a helmet on. It was too much of a 'Van thing'. Yael wasn't about to turn him down, either. She wasn't so certain why, but there was a little something in the back of her mind that told her not to, as much as she wanted to usher him out the door. The operator took hold of her Morita by the carry handle, getting ready to bolt. Nervousness accompanied her, but she didn't really have anything to be nervous about. One, two, go! She didn't. Yael hesitated and took a deep breath. Garry and Van watched her, and it only made the woman feel all the more antsy about it. Another bout of cold feet. She was slipping, she figured. Happened before the drop, now it was happening again.

 

Spoiler

 

 

Avraham took a deep breath before rushing out and into the rain. She bolted across the street and ducked into cover behind the tipped over lorry. Yael watched Garry and gave him a nod accompanied by a thumbs up. She slumped back against the car into a sit, making to catch her breath for the moment. Garry and Van both rushed out after her. Yael looked up for a moment, droplets of water covering her visor in the process. She glanced back down after catching a faint glint of lighting up in the sea of grey clouds that loomed above. The Earth itself wept for the dead, she figured. Long had she been a spiritual person in the hopes that it would somehow bring comfort to her in her moments of fear, moments of sadness. It didn't. It did, once, but that was a time long ago. No longer did the faith in some supreme Lord bring comfort to her; What good would He do, way up there in the sky while she was stuck down on the ground? Yael's thoughts were interrupted by a brief 'crack' that shot through the air, followed almost a blink later by a loud pulsing 'boom!'

 

Garry slid into cover beside Yael, who caught a glimpse of Van dropping to his knees in the middle of the street. He let forth a gasp, followed by a deep, greedy gasp for breath. Yael could hear him wheeze during a long, breathy inhale. "Van!" she cried as she got up and made to run to him. Garry held her down, and for good reason. He dropped his rifle, causing it to land with a faint 'clank' before a second round boomed out and hit him dead in the centre of the chest. The cowboy fell onto his back while Gerald reached for his belt, pulled free a smoke grenade and tugged out the pin. Once the safety spoon spurred off, he chucked it over the car and waited for it to fill.

 

The ten or so seconds it took for the smoke to fan out over the street felt like an eternity of waiting. Droplets pattered against her helmet, though she could focus on naught but the sounds of Sebastian's wheezing through the internal comms of his helmet. Without allowing it to fill all the way, Yael threw Garry aside and ran out to grab her companion. "Yael, don't you fuckin' -- !" but she was already gone. The Staff Sergeant fired a few bursts down the street with no clear sight of her assailant, he could have been anywhere. She was panicking, and it only served to give away her position through what parts of the street were concealed by the smoke. Avraham hooked Van by the drag handle and aimed to pull him back. Just as she set him down, a stinging sensation caused her to choke on her own breath once she felt like something bit her right in the side. Yael fell down into a sitting position with the wind knocked out of her, head spinning. It was hard to breathe, but she managed. The operator took a few deep breaths, though couldn't focus on anything for more than a second or two. She could hear the sounds of Gerald shouting something or another, yet he couldn't keep her attention well enough to get any kind of message across. The last thing she remembered was her helmet smacking against the sidewalk.

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August 26th, 2298

Arlington, West Virginia, Western Hemisphere

Operation Helios - 31 Hours After Drop

Yael Avraham, Staff Sergeant

 

The Staff Sergeant opened her eyes to the sight of Gerald looming over their injured comrade. "Don'tchu' fuckin' die on me Sebastian, you son of a bitch," he called down to him as he packed his wound, pressing the dying operator's hands over it in order to keep pressure after he pulled away. It was all that Yael could do to keep her eyes open, blinking as she looked on helplessly. She saw the fingers of her hand twitch a few times, the dull ache in her side flaring up into a fiery hot iron as she opened her mouth to speak. No scream escaped her, no noise, nothing. Breathing was difficult, moving was not something she could even fathom. Help me, say it. Help me. "We're gonna' get you out of here, buddy," Garry murmured to him before he reached up to touch at the communicator on the side of his helmet. "Korvus, goddammit! I need you down here, I told you!" The response on the other end of the radio sounded like naught but white noise to Yael as it took all of her willpower to keep her eyes from closing.

 

"That's not good enough! I need you --" Gerald then took a graze to the shoulder, singing his suit with line of plasma. "Son of a -- Sebastian, you're okay, pal! You're alright!" His attention remained on DeVantos, despite the fact that he was pinned down. Yael could hear her own wheezing echoing through her helmet. Say something. Anything. The woman opened her mouth again; She could hear herself utter out a single husky breath, unable to draw up the voice she needed in order to address her partner. She saw Gerald resorting to chest compressions while his voice cracked; Something in him broke when his closest friend and confidant stopped breathing. "C- come on! Breathe, goddammit - breathe! Don't you fuckin' leave me -- don't you fuckin' leave her, you selfish - stupid mother.." he trailed off, choking back what Yael could have sworn was a sob.

 

The pavement beneath Van was covered red, slowly sinking down the street as it was carried by the rain. From the corner of her eye, she caught a trail leaking out from under her arm -- she was dying, of this she was certain. There was nothing she could do to tend to herself while Pomeroy tended to Van. Whether or not she had been dressed was uncertain from the way she lay. Her eyes looked around, lids feeling as if they were weighed down by rocks. Not like this. Another wheeze echoed through her helmet, more shallow than the last. "Don't you -- don't you fuckin' - fuck, aw' fuck!" Gerald cursed aloud as he smacked his hand against his dead comrade's torso. He sat back and looked around frantically, before he actually took notice of Yael. Pomeroy hurried over on all fours and rolled her down onto her back. Her vision swam as the compression squeezing her chest was finally lifted. She gasped for breath, which only served to make her hock up a mouthful of blood. It pasted the inside of her visor, obscuring parts of her vision with the crimson mess that was plastered against it.

 

A wheeze escaped her as she gasped greedily, sucking as much air into her burning lungs as she could. Her mouth tasted like ash, mouth dry and chalky with hints of warm metal from the blood. "Hey! Hey, lookit' me! Lookit' me, Yael," she heard him call down to her. Overcome by another bodily conniption, Avraham writhed and choked out again, causing a hoarse gushing sound to erupt from the depths of her throat. She was about to hock again. Gerald reached down to pull off her helmet; For the first time in a long time, Yael felt truly alive. The cool air nipping at her neck while the cold raindrops pattered across her face. Out came another hock of blood, shooting up and covering her cheeks in a warm, burning coat. "Gerald," she murmured out through her bloody teeth. The Warrant Officer reached down to take her by the hand, glancing at her from behind his visor. Yael couldn't see his face, and she desperately wished that she could. "I'm here, boss. I've got you," he promised her.

 

"D-don't leave me, -- don't leave me here," she choked out.

 

They were the last words she ever said to him.

 

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August 26th, 2298

Arlington, West Virginia, Western Hemisphere

Operation Helios - 31.5 Hours After Drop

Sean Weston, Private First Class

 

They were coming up on the remnants of a firefight. Weston checked his magazine to ensure that his Morita was properly loaded and ready for bare. It was raining out, uncomfortable. A bunch of shouting came over Davis' manpack about twenty minutes prior, something about an ambush. He hadn't really been paying attention at the time, figured it was no big deal. Wasn't his guys, right? Once they got to the scene, his opinion changed pretty quickly. On the road lay nearly a dozen dead progenitors, some smouldering and others shot so many times they were almost unrecognizable, save for the blue or red makings that crossed their dull bodies. The smell of gunpowder and metal clung to the air. The street was ripe with fresh blood, stuck primarily in the gutters of the street where the water had carried it. Some a murky, foreign color, some red; Weston's eyes caught the sight of three figures near a tipped over lorry. One of them was a pale looking woman, unmoving. The other a similar case - another power armored fellow with two holes in his chest.

 

"We've got a live one here!" the men who had ran ahead called, prompting a medic to begin to sprint over. The Private scanned the scene, reaching up to wipe his face with his sleeve to clear it of droplets. It was hard to look at, three Pathfinders all fucked up. Lieutenant Korvus spoke up finally, once the last of the platoon had caught up. "Radio for airlift! I want this whole place cleared up. Delta and Fox companies are gone, they want to pull everybody out! Saddle up the wounded and get 'em ready for transport!" he ordered. Weston took a knee by the lorry and propped his rifle up on the bumper so that he would have a clear line down the street in the event that any more Progenitors came back looking for trouble.

 

The fellow the medic was tending to was unconscious, propped up with his back to the vic'. He had six or seven grazes on him, and a shot through the middle of his chest. He was still smoking by the time they got there, and was only now starting to look like he just might make it. The lady treating him slowly eased him down onto his back. "Hey - I need you to help me lift him," she called out to Sean. "Y- yeah - yeah alright. Okay," he let out a little shakily as he let his rifle dangle from the sling with the safety on. The Private moved over and took the man by the legs. "On you," she called out to him. "Alright. One, two three, up -" and then they lifted. He was a heavy son of a bitch, but they got him down onto the stretcher.

 

The two, along with the help of a third man got the stretcher into the boat once it landed. The medic made her way back to the bodies, while Weston couldn't help but just stare at the PJs as they began to strip away the melted torso of the injured fellow. "<:: Alright. We're solid for take off. Get the doors shut, we'll see you boys on the other side."

 

"Wait!" the medic called.

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Epilogue.

 

 

 

August 27th, 2298

Isolation Room 3, BCT-481 'Bernard Montgomery', Orbit Above Terra

Operation Helios - 52 Hours After Drop

Gerald Pomeroy, Warrant Officer

 

"That's it," Gerald let out with a shaky breath after the retelling of his tale. "That was the last time I saw the two of them. Last time I probably will," he followed up with. The doctor sat there, pensive as he looked at him. "You're certain?" he asked. "Of course I'm certain!" Gerald snapped back at him. "I --" There was a moment of hesitation in the operator. He sat back and took another pull from his cigarette. "What are you playin' at, doc'? What's your angle here?"

 

"You've got a letter, mister Pomeroy. Would you like to take a gander?" he inquired as he pulled a letter out of the portfolio. There was no envelope to accompany, just a folded piece of paper.

 

"If you think it'll help me; You're the doc, doc."

 

Monroe unfolded the paper and put his glasses back on. He passed the document over to him, it read;

 

'I've always been bad with sentimentality. What feels like a lifetime ago, a great friend once told me; 'Never pass up on a good thing'. I don't suppose goodbyes are always for the best, but I do think that closure can be a good thing under the right circumstances. I'm no good at writing letters, but I've been thinking a lot lately, and there's one thing that I want to do properly in my lifetime. There are some things I need to tell you, but I think that it's best I start simple. So, how's this for simple?

 

Dear Gerald...'

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