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Retreat Crystal System--- 'Lions Den'
Posted By: Mark Lieberg<malieberg@msn.com>
Date: 22 August 2005, 4:03 am

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Retreat Crystal System
July 10, 2005 : Date Started Writing

Chapter One--Part One--------

0734 Hours, February 2, 2546 (Military Calendar)
Planet Crystal, Crystilairia Epsilon System, UNSC Destroyer Crying Havoc

      Bill Reynolds; a decorated captain standing six foot four, growing a small beard, and bright blue eyes, walked across the deck of the metal barge of a boat and around the center staff table. Twelve seats of its own were placed around the table for mission briefings and an occasional poker game. The center table had its holographic imaging system helped by the ships onboard AI, using the holotank to show graphical data on anything they were examining, it would be holomixed into a viewable object by the systems' lighting effects. In this manner, it showed a full view of the Crystilairia Epsilon System.
      The Destroyers', 'Crying Havoc', AI was named after the fortieth president of what used to be the United States of America. The president was named Ronald Reagan, but they decided to only use his last name for the character. His holographic image appeared on a miniature holotank that sat on top of a small podium to the left of Captain Reynolds chair. His multicolored physical appearance was bright, varying from all shades of blue. He also glowed with electronic codes running beyond its image creating the characters navy blue textile suit and facial appearance.
      Across from the captains' staff chair on the other side of the center table standing were seven tall figures, armored with a green colored pearlescent refractive coating. They stood tall, easily seven feet like super soldiers were meant to be, and standing in the dark half covered by shadow and half lit by the light, which was beaming above the ceiling of the staff room, was the leader. They stood at attention, hands behind their back and heads held up high. They had worn their battle armor in cryo stasis the trip to the system, which didn't bother the leader of the group, Spartan-117. Fred had some minor freezer burns after thawing, but was quickly repaired after the ships doctor did a physical check on everyone of the Spartans.
      John stood in the center of the other six, and had the sign S-117 etched into the battle armor. He stared at the captain through his faceplate, and noticed the officers sitting around the table waiting. They sat in their designated chairs, but the Spartans never attempted to sit down, due to their battle armor's size and weight. The other officers, however like the Spartans and the captain focused on the holotank at the center table they were sitting at, rotate. Then the holographic image of the Crystilairia Epsilon System blinked into view in a split second. It blurred once, placing the planets, and the twin sun's location, thus creating a holographic picture of the system with surprising detail.
      The Seven Planets rotated, with their names and registry number above them hovering in circles, while a red triangular object formed from big to small at a small set of blurring white dots; which were slowly heading towards the planet of Crystal John quickly examined. Then they heard three beeps as the triangle shrunk to get a fix on the white dots. The image quickly rotated and paused, enhancing itself out of focus.
      Reagan adjusted the view of the blur in motion and simultaneously showed the time index of the image that was recorded by a clarion spy drone, which was placed every thousand meters of the systems edge. In case any aliens would drop by for an attack, which were the Covenant at the time. The small white dots, which had adjusted, quickly formed into ten separate ships varying in sizes and class. Reagan then placed class designations above them, hovering like the planet names. Then a beep was heard and a small square box formed in the top right corner showing the day, time of hour, minute by hour, seconds by minute, and milliseconds by seconds, which was the time when the Covenant had entered the Solar Systems' edge.
       John read the box and saw that 'they' had arrived yesterday on February first; just a minute before the second day, and a millisecond before the turn of oh-zero hundred hours. John grinned watching the image enhance once more, as his brothers and sisters did too. He also noticed Will behind him, had moved a millimeter, knowing he was uncomfortable standing on a ship, like he was himself. John and his team were trained groundside, and no artificial gravity was going to keep them thinking it was like a planet because they knew the Crying Havoc was just a destroyer class vessel, nothing more and nothing less.
      Using the images, Reagan created the trajectory where the enemy vessels were headed for. As usual, like all strategy maps, red lines flowed threw space moving towards the third planet, and Captain Reynolds twitched because it was so similar to the Sol System…and Earth. Back to the hologram, the ten ships reached the planet at oh-zero-fifty hours, in a battle group formation of an arrow. The two carriers, three destroyers, and five frigates reduced their speed towards the planet of Crystal. While the time index of the image fast-forward, it showed the last of the civilian ships leaving the Crystilairia System and fleeing towards random jump vectors into Slipspace. The Covenant, however, took their time cleaning the five operational MAC Guns in place of the planets surface.
      When the ships moved into the range of the cannons, the image, again, enhanced and John twitched at the site of a hundred Seraph fighters filing out in five rows towards the MACs like an air raid. Looking at the stations, John saw another squadron of aircraft…theirs. The twenty Longsword fighters flew into the pathway of the Seraphs, fighting to the last man knowing they were greatly outnumbered; five to one.
      The Squad broke out of formation and formed two groups while they sped around the enemy. Speeding around they stopped and quickly flew inwards behind the Seraphs. But before they could open fire, a second wave; composing of only thirty, came up from behind and fired plasma torpedoes at the aircraft. Eight Fighters quickly stopped, melting in space and exploding from the inside out killing the pilots. Escaping the hail of plasma, the squad spun out of formation with a fiery jolt like a firecracker exploding in space, and started firing targeting their weapons at anything they saw that even looked like a Seraph.
      A few enemy aircraft were seen exploding by the rounds that punctured their hull, but that didn't help the situation as the second wave continued to gun down the Longswords. As the first wave of Seraphs spun to the closest station, they took it out with their Plasma Torpedoes, but not the whole station. The small ships had targeted the gun itself, and shot off the top twelve meters in neat rotating intervals. When the top piece fluttered forward in space continuing to melt a little by little, which was completely removed from the main gun, a round from the MAC station shot at the piece and exploded causing metallic shards to commit misfire at the station.
      It was a bad move, John knew, but the men commanding the station never knew the gun was stripped of its end. After the shards have punctured the station, everyone in the room watched the second wave fly in swiftly. They has completely destroyed the rest of the Squadron which; with a tear, Linda had only watched. The Seraphs flew towards the MAC station again, but this time targeted the command level. In another second the men and women in the briefing room stared at a hail of multicolored energy like a rainbow, get shot into space by the Seraphs, and began melting the stations windows.
      The Officers watched the Marines fly out in space due to the vacuum of space. After the bodies had flown out and froze, the command level exploded killing everyone in the area that survived. During the explosions the Seraph squadrons then moved off and competed against the other MAC Guns. John continued to watch the first MAC, however, even though its command bridge was leveled down to scrape, another explosion erupted. It wasn't the station exploding or enemy fire…but five Pelican Dropships blasting the airlocks speeding away from the station, and towards the others to help destroy the Seraphs.
      John wondered why the computer hadn't enabled the voice records of the battle, but the next three seconds, were basically watching Anvil-II missiles launching toward the enemy destroying nearly ten Seraph Fighters. With the other MAC Gun inoperable, the others were trying to manage fighting off the fighters using their own piloting skills. Captain Reynolds then whispered to Reagan, which only the Spartans heard, to fast-forward the replay so it was oh-one-eleven hours. The replay fast-forward viewing the other four MAC station nearly ripped apart by melting plasma.
      The Seraphs had then flown back to their mother ships, and seeing the ten ships, they flew down into the atmosphere, and surrounded the main continent. It was the only area populated by human colonist, because of dangerous wild life on other land, who'd escaped before the battle. Captain Reynolds nodded at Reagan who noticed his captains' movement. Pausing the holotank image, Reynolds spoke glancing up knowing the Spartans, which were in front of him still, were listening, "Ladies and Gentlemen. FleetCom has ordered the Crying Havoc to proceed to the Crystilairia Epsilon System.
       "As you can see," gesturing to the video feed showing the Covenant small invasion force holding position in high orbit of planet Crystal, "the Covenant have not yet glassed this planet. We think its because we have an artifact or they found one on our planet. Our mission, and goal is possibly just a jump in and run out situation." He looked at his officers…then at the Spartans.
       "We are to jump into the system, launch a small pelican carrying the Master Chief's team towards the planet." The Spartans continued to stand at attention without moving.
      So the Captain continued, "Master Chief, our destroyer will give basically suppressive fire until your entry is successful in this operation. Your mission objective is to destroy whatever artifact or intelligence the Covenant is retrieving. Then plant a tactical nuke under the gravity lift of whatever goddamn ship is in orbit supplying their alien troops. This is top priority and important that we give them nothing, except a bullet from our guns. FleetCom has sent a message that they have rounded fifteen ships to start a counter-offensive in this system. We don't know if it will hold, or if we can take it back. But we'll stay and provide cover for as long as it takes to get your team out when the time is right."
      The lead Spartan nodded in confirmation. Noticing the pause, Reagan entered into the conversation, "FleetCom has also given us a time limit to this operation. We will begin the counter-offensive in two hours and fifty minutes. That is when the other ships will arrive. You have less than three hours to complete your mission once your HALO jump is successful."
       "HALO jump?" Will asked from behind Linda to the right of John. He looked at the AI with a brow raised.
       "Yes, a HALO jump. The Orbital Drop Shock Troopers use HEV's in a situation for quick entry. Your suit should be much more safe then a normal ODST issued uniform. Don't worry, you'll do just fine, but if the Covenant manage to destroy three-fourths of our fleet when its time to retrieve you. Then we'll have to retreat and regroup picking your team up at a later time." Reagan turned his head looking at the lead Spartan.
       "We understand." The Master Chief replied for the group with a cold hard voice.
       "Very well," Reynolds acknowledged turning his chair to look at his helms officer towards his left, "Jackson, prepare for a Slipspace jump, and put in coordinates for the third planet of the Crystilairia System."
       "Aye, aye sir." The Ensign quickly said as he jumped out of his seat and walked out of the briefing chamber. "Lieutenant Jaiza, I want all weapon locks off from the nukes, and the archer pods warmed up. Also, see if out MAC Gun is operational. I won't be happy if another over heating situation like last time occur again." Reynolds reminded his weapons officer as she got up and walked out as well. "Everyone else back to your stations. Master Chief," the captain said standing up, "gear up, and then head to the fighter bay. Flight Officer Wesley had prepped a pelican for you and your team."
       "Yes sir, thank you sir." The Master Chief saluted with the rest of his team as the captain dismissed them. Once the Captain Reynolds walked out, the seven tall giants walked out of the room and through the double doors, which slid open by motion detection. They stepped onto the elevator, went down two levels, and into their armory nicknamed the 'Lions Den'.