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Noble Team: Origins (Part 4)
Posted By: Flugel Meister<flugel_mcdougall@hotmail.co.uk>
Date: 9 June 2010, 8:31 pm

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Part Four

Covenant Dig area, Arcadia

The evening was dragging. Calm had descended over the Covenant encampment as the night fell, dressing the considerable presence here in a blanket of darkness. Only isolated and presumably critical areas of the camp were still illuminated, in the form of towering mast-like structures that projected focussed beams of light onto several organically shaped, purple coloured structures and an area of open ground to the left. Unusually, though, the ring-like rock formation was left in darkness.

Jake was accustomed to waiting for the opportune moment for high-value targets, but that usually came in the form of sitting off from a distance with a high-powered sniper rifle or marking a target for a suicidal Longsword strike. But sitting here, waiting for the time to quietly tick by until a Covenant Prophet arrived was torturous. There was nothing they could do. If they had taken some explosive charges or even a nuke they would have been able to inflict a considerable level of destruction. Instead, Jake was forced to simply watch the night-time routine of a dangerous enemy run its course. Another twenty minutes of observation remained until Jen would take watch, and be forced to sit here, twiddling her thumbs. Until then, it was Jake and an army of some six thousand Covenant.

What was more troubling than the agonising wait was their equipment load out. The ONI operative on Onyx had provided strict instructions that any engagement would be a close quarter's affair. And although intelligence briefs were usually taken with a pinch of salt, this time the source was said to be concrete. Sniper rifles were dropped, in favour of a silenced DMR and an M837 equipped with armour piercing ammunition for maximum punch. Jen had gone for a similar load out, but had opted for a BR55 instead of the DMR. For some added firepower they had both been provided with a covert insertion bandolier. It was a shoulder-slung multiple pouch arrangement with specially designed pouches intended for silent use. Inside each pouch was an experimental grenade type supplied by ONI. All of them were still prototypes but were extremely effective in their intended use, but one grenade was of considerable note. The AP-194, or the Adhesive Pineapple as Jake liked to call it, was ONI's answer to the Covenant plasma grenade. Somehow, ONI had isolated a special polymer used in the manufacture of Covenant ablative armour layers. Whenever the grenade, which was the same size as the magazine from an assault rifle, was thrown the skin of the grenade became magnetically attracted to the polymer. In most cases this was used against Covenant personnel and to great effect, especially when the intended target was an Elite. Jake remembered the last time he used one. The look on the Elite's face when it realised it wasn't the standard human grenade was beyond priceless.

The other grenade types included: an acid filled variant that came with the option of a timer, which proved ideal during sabotage missions, a Dragon grenade, which was designed to burn through specific hard points on a chosen target or fill a confined space with incendiary material, an energy disruptor and a powerful nerve gas canister, which was intended to incapacitate Elites for a limited period. Jake had used all of the grenade types before, with the exception of the nerve variant. It was, as yet, untested in the field.

"Jen," he whispered, "You awake?"

"I was never asleep," she replied, "Anything happening?"

After reaching the edge of the wood the pair of them had quietly skirted around to the right, near the scarab, which was now only two hundred metres away. Then they set up a temporary observation post among a series of bare, cragged rocks. The lack of any foliage, blowing in the light breeze would provide the perfect camouflage.

"They stopped using the scarab about an hour ago. Most of them are now housed in those weird looking buildings, and behind those is patch of open ground. Not sure what they're planning to do with it. Could be for another building or an assembly area, but it's all lit up light a Christmas tree."

"It's been a long time since I saw one of those," she stated.

"One of those?"

"A Christmas tree," Jen replied, "I've not seen one for years."

"Mendez always puts one on display every year." Jake replied, before changing his tone to mimic Mendez' rough gravel-pitted voice. " To remind you trainees what we're fighting for. "

"That's not a Christmas tree, Jake."

Still impersonating Mendez, Jake pretended to draw on a Sweet William cigar. " Are you questioning my authority, recruit? "

Jen gave him a light clip around the head. "That isn't a Christmas tree. All he does is chop down the first tree he finds and decorates it with weapon parts and glow-sticks."

"It's still a Christmas tree. Besides, you don't get them on Onyx."

"Maybe so, but strictly speaking it's not a...--"


"Do you hear that?" Jen said.

"Hear what?"

"That noise."

Jake sighed. "Obviously not, or I wouldn't be asking."

"It's coming from up there."

Jake glanced over, using his VISR mode to enhance his view. Jen was on her feet, pointing at the sky. He followed her outlined finger to a small, dark silhouette emerging from the clouds. "What is it?"

They both crawled forward to get a better look as the craft descended; its shape was vaguely familiar as was the whining engine noise. Then, as it dropped into the glare of the Covenant spotlights, he saw what it was.

"A pelican," he whispered. "Are they nuts? They'll be shot to pieces."

To Jake's surprise the pelican dropped, unhindered, till it was level with the scarab and then drifted to side before lowering its undercarriage and hitting the centre of the clearing with a bump. Once down, four Elites headed to the rear of the drop ship and waited for the deployment ramp to open.

"What the hell is going on?" Jen asked, placing her hand on Jake's shoulder. "I know this mission could bring them to the table and for peace talks, but this is a little unexpected."

Jake rose to his feet. "Why don't we take a look?"

To be continued...