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Valor (Halo Crossover)

Re: Valor (Heart of Valor Reboot - Halo Crossover)

Postby aceofAces » Thu Jan 28, 2016 6:54 pm

May 16th 2557
Year 1114 MA
0630hrs


Quain’tana sat perched atop her wolf, the beast lumbering slowly up the narrow path to upper Machike, keeping pace with the marching legionnaires behind her. Quian narrowed her eyes slightly, nothing felt right. The air smelled off and the sounds were wrong. Every instinct she had as a warrior told her that the normally routine march to the upper fortress feel tense.

A quick glance over her shoulder confirmed that her soldiers felt the same, quick glances this way and that, shoulders raised ever so slightly. They weren’t afraid, but they could feel how strange everything was.

Still Quain’tana couldn’t quite place what it was that had tipped her off. It was most likely the smell, like something was burning.

She quickly raised her right fist, a signal for the column of soldiers to halt. Something was coming down the path from the mists. It was someone on a mount.

Quain’tana relaxed a bit when the figure came close enough to be seen.

“Hello mother.” Kel’noz greeted, sitting atop a wolf of his own.

“Kel’noz.” Quain’tana returned the greeting. “Any reason you’re coming down to greet me?” She asked as she pushed her wolf into its slow walk, the soldiers behind her following suit and resuming their march as Kel’noz fell into position next to his mother.

“There is.” He stated matter-of-factly. “There’s been a few late entrants into the war.” Quian’tana stared her son down.

“What do you mean ‘late entrants’?”

Kel’noz tilted his head ever so slightly to one side. “How to explain this…” He muttered, wondering aloud. “I suppose it’s best to start from the beginning.” He began. “A few weeks ago we sent out a small force to take an outpost town controlled by the Sharen. When we didn’t hear back we were going to organize a relief force to assist them, figuring that they’d run into trouble.” He paused, taking a deep breath.

“Trouble found you first, didn’t it?” Quain’tana interjected, her gaze narrowing.

“Yes, one of the late entrants I spoke of have allied themselves with the Sharen it seems.” Kel’noz said. “A collection of species calling themselves the Covenant. They possess some powerful weapons and technology, capable of traversing the skies and replicating mana arts to a limited degree.”

“The ancients did the same. This is supposed to intimidate me?” Quain’tana stated flatly.

“I doubt they did so without the ability to manipulate mana.” Kel’noz countered, Quain’tana shot him a glance. Kel’noz seemed to ignore her, continuing. “They laid siege to Machike, their initial assault had practically granted them victory. They breached the walls, and had begun entry into the fortress.”

“But…” Quain’tana urged him. He wouldn’t be here if they’d succeeded.

“The other late entrant came to our aid. They are apparently old rivals of this Covenant.” Kel’noz stated.

Quain’tana let out an amused huff. “So these other beings are capable of the same feats.”

Kel’noz shook his head. “Not quite, but they were still effective against the Covenant. They’re waiting in Machike for a meeting. Apparently they’d like to establish a formal alliance.”

“Out of convenience.” Quain’tana grumbled through her teeth.

“Likely.” Kel’noz agreed. “Still we can negotiate for favorable terms.” He pushed his wolf into a trot up the path. “After All, they are halmes.”

Quain’tana stared bewildered after Kel’noz as he retreated up the slope. “What?!”

May 16th, 2557
Year 1114 MA
0740hrs


Well Kel’noz hadn’t been lying, they were definitely halmes.

Quain’tana found herself in the war room of Machike, the map table located in the center of the room, Sarghress banners decorating the walls amid racks of weapons and crates of supplies and maps. That part was normal.

What wasn’t was the strange looking circular table positioned on the opposite end of the table, colored green and propped up on a folding tripod, the word “UNSC” emblazoned on the rim in bold white letters. The table projected a geographical map that encompassed a territory stretching from Nuqrah’s position to Felde in blue light. Small icons floated either on the hologram or above it either in red or yellow and moved slightly as if tracking units. Quain’tana couldn’t make heads or tails f what most of it meant.

Halmes now occupied the room alongside Quill’yate and her Sarghress Raiders, the halmes dressed in matte grey-green armor and carrying crossbow-like weapons. Quill’yate stood across the map table from one of these halmes, both had been going over battle plans by the time Quain’tana had arrived, their conversation ceasing when the giant woman had entered the room.

Her Halme companion stepped away from the table, turning towards Quain’tana., he held his helmet under his left arm. All others in the room followed suit, turning their gaze to the Sarghress Ill’haress.

“Quain’tana I presume?” The Halme greeted, his voice gruff as he took a few deliberate steps towards her. He appeared unfazed by her stature.

“I am.” She replied flatly.

“Captain Carlos Stennis, UNSC Marine Corps.” The halme extended his free hand in a handshake. He was getting right down to business it seemed, not bothering for formalities. He was near the middle of his life, and his face was of one who had seen a lot of combat. He carried himself like a soldier, not a peasant or noble as she’d come to expect with halmes.

Quain’tana shook his hand. She liked him already, he was a nice change of pace from all the formalities of Chel.

Without saying a word the two took up positions around the table, the halme retaking his position. Quain’tana had elected to take up position at the end of the table not occupied by the hologram projector.

“What’s the situation?” Quain’tana asked. She watched as Quill’yate motioned to Stennis, telling him to go ahead.

“Right now the situation isn’t ideal. The Covenant have us backed up to the front door, sending out scouting parties and fighter squadrons to keep us bottled up here.” Stennis reported as the hologram blinked out and was replace with a new one, an orange circular one taking its place, floating high above the table.

“RADAR also indicates that the Covenant have been deploying Phantom’s to set up forward operating bases near our location to act as an early warning system.” A disembodied voice spoke, continuing Stennis’s report.”

“I am never getting used to that.” Quill’yate mumbled.

“What is that?” Quian’tana questioned, narrowing her eyes at the ball.

“Overclock, shipborne AI of the UNSC Heart of Valor.” Stennis replied, obviously annoyed at the ball. “Though I told you to keep quiet for now?” He said to the ball, more as an order than anything else.

“Right, sorry. We’ll play ‘meet the family’ later.” It said before blinking out and returning the previous image to the table. Quain’tana couldn’t help but give a Stennis a sidelong stare. Shipborne? The Halmes had a ship? They must’ve marched a long way to get here. Although considering their flying Golems they probably didn’t march at all.

“So…” Quain’tana began. “This Covenant, what can we expect from them?”

“Directed Energy Weapons, highly mobile use of Dropships, and the risk of them deploying their battlecruiser.” Quill’yate replied with practiced brevity. She’d probably heard that speech before.

“Which brings us to the biggest issue we’ve got.” The hologram projector changed its display again, creating an image of a strange, flat vessel comprising three bulbous sections. Four fins stuck to the underside of the prow. “That damn ship could wipe us out if we allowed them to deploy it.”

“So how do we take it out?”

“That’s the problem, with that things shields up we wouldn’t be able to even scratch the paint.” Stennis relented. “But we’ve got a window.” He moved over to the hologram projector. Zooming out from the ship and revealing the surrounding area. Dariya’ko was towards the southwest from the ship and it itself was holding position over a small town near the joint Sharen-Beldrobbaen Colony. “Right now it’s holding position and has deployed opened up its hangar bays. The Covenant are deploying their equipement and fortifying their position.”

Quain’tana raised an eyebrow. He obviously understood the Covenant better than she did or he was being foolish. “This is supposed to be an opening?”

“Yeah, in her current position the ship can’t actively deploy its most powerful weapons and would be unable to actively evade.” Stennis continued. “But that doesn’t mean we can just hit the bastard, what with them deploying anti-air emplacements.” The hologram table threw up three screens showing still pictures of modular cannons up on three massive legs colored a metallic bronze and smaller orb like gun emplacements.

“But that’s where those Covenant forward positions come in.” Quill’yate interjected, pointing them on the map in front of her, creating a very strange contrast between both groups. “The Covenant have been leaving some of these ‘Dropships’ at the bases, inactive and ripe for the taking.”

“A nighttime surprise attack to capture the bases and to take the dropships.” Stennis continued, outlying the plan and moving back to the map table. “Then our commando teams would head off to infiltrate the covenant ship, invading and taking the cargo bays. They would then arm explosives on board and escape. With luck this’ll at least cripple the ship, and if we pull this off we can capture a large amount of Covenant gear.”

Quian’tana stood back and contemplated on the plan. She relented that she had no idea how this plan would work and figured that the plan had largely been the work of Captain Stennis. Which begged the question: “What do you need us for? You seem to have this under control.” Quain’tana stared at the Captain.

He sighed. “Because we don’t have the material or manpower to pull this plan off and pull out a protracted campaign against the Covenant.” He stated.

“Not to mention one of the survivors that returned from our forward group has said that the Sharen have allied themselves with the Covenant.” Quill’yate added. “We don’t have anything that can match the Covenant, but they do.” She pointed to Stennis.

Quain’tana stood in silence for a moment. ‘The Enemy of My Enemy is my Friend’ they saying went. She turned around and made her way over to the door. “Do it, I’ll send some of my best to support.”

“Ma’am.” Stennis called after her and Quain halted, turning towards him. “My commanding officer would like to formally ratify an alliance between our two forces before you go.”

Quain’tana huffed. “It’s already been ratified.” She stated before leaving the room. She had to go and organize which groups would be joining the operation. Along the way she passed by another fully armored halme walking the other way. He was much larger than other halmes and carried himself with full precision. She had no idea who this soldier was and paid him no mind when he walked past, no doubt this UNSC was not done surprising her.

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LE HOLY SHIT. I'm back, hopefully updating with regularity again. I think I needed a break from fanfics for a bit to get some new ideas and get the creative juices a-flowin' again. Regardless here's the next chapter, and I'm excited to see where this goes. Hopefully the UNSC-Sarghress Alliance can take out the Covenant Battlecruiser, otherwise things might get complicated for them.
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Re: Valor (Heart of Valor Reboot - Halo Crossover)

Postby Gunbird » Thu Jan 28, 2016 7:47 pm

I don't what to sound mean towards Obsidian's Legacy, but I like your fix better.
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Re: Valor (Heart of Valor Reboot - Halo Crossover)

Postby Obsidian Agent » Thu Jan 28, 2016 7:52 pm

Gunbird wrote:I don't what to sound mean towards Obsidian's Legacy, but I like your fix better.


No offense taken. I'll admit, my fic HAS been more build-up and has had less payoff than Ace's.
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Re: Valor (Heart of Valor Reboot - Halo Crossover)

Postby aceofAces » Thu Jan 28, 2016 8:04 pm

Obsidian Agent wrote:
Gunbird wrote:I don't what to sound mean towards Obsidian's Legacy, but I like your fix better.


No offense taken. I'll admit, my fic HAS been more build-up and has had less payoff than Ace's.


tbh, I'm enjoying the buildup, and recent developments have made me optimistic that there will be action soon. Kind of want to see how the Cardassians handle a war in Chel.
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Re: Valor (Heart of Valor Reboot - Halo Crossover)

Postby Gunbird » Thu Jan 28, 2016 10:08 pm

Actually the the reason I'm starting to lose interest in Legacy is that it seems to bury the Drow Tales element of the story.

Edit: I also don't like the ;"We have better technology, so battles with the locals will be a pice of cake." element to the story. In RL, it doesn't always work out that way. Like Vietnam war.
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Re: Valor (Heart of Valor Reboot - Halo Crossover)

Postby Obsidian Agent » Thu Jan 28, 2016 10:28 pm

Gunbird wrote:Actually the the reason I'm starting to lose interest in Legacy is that it seems to bury the Drow Tales element of the story.

Edit: I also don't like the ;"We have better technology, so battles with the locals will be a pice of cake." element to the story. In RL, it doesn't always work out that way. Like Vietnam war.


It isn't going to end up like that. This is the arc where the Drowtales elements become more prominent (as well as the Diablo elements), though they'll REALLY become prominent in Arc 3 (which is the whole "Rescue Faen" arc, which, TBH, is probably my favorite arc of the comic).

Also, the Cardassians have had a year to learn about Drow sorcery, which is one reason why there's still the debate about intervening in Chel. Not to mention that this is urban warfare, which is always nasty, and the Cardassians know that. And a certain duo *coughSnadhyaAndEdrancough* are going to make things rather difficult for them.

But as this is the thread for Ace's fic, I'll end the conversation here.
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Re: Valor (Heart of Valor Reboot - Halo Crossover)

Postby aceofAces » Thu Jan 28, 2016 10:32 pm

Obsidian Agent wrote:
Gunbird wrote:Actually the the reason I'm starting to lose interest in Legacy is that it seems to bury the Drow Tales element of the story.

Edit: I also don't like the ;"We have better technology, so battles with the locals will be a pice of cake." element to the story. In RL, it doesn't always work out that way. Like Vietnam war.


It isn't going to end up like that. This is the arc where the Drowtales elements become more prominent (as well as the Diablo elements), though they'll REALLY become prominent in Arc 3 (which is the whole "Rescue Faen" arc, which, TBH, is probably my favorite arc of the comic).

Also, the Cardassians have had a year to learn about Drow sorcery, which is one reason why there's still the debate about intervening in Chel. Not to mention that this is urban warfare, which is always nasty, and the Cardassians know that. And a certain duo *coughSnadhyaAndEdrancough* are going to make things rather difficult for them.

But as this is the thread for Ace's fic, I'll end the conversation here.

Thanks for ending the convo there mate, I'd like to keep my fic from being a forum where people start to bash each other's fics.

Not to say Guns is doing that, but I'd still like to avoid going down that slippery slope.
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Re: Valor (Heart of Valor Reboot - Halo Crossover)

Postby Gunbird » Thu Jan 28, 2016 10:33 pm

@Obsidian: Same here. Sorry about that. I just have to vent.

Now, how will Quain’tana aid the UNSC?
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Re: Valor (Heart of Valor Reboot - Halo Crossover)

Postby aceofAces » Thu Jan 28, 2016 10:42 pm

Gunbird wrote:Same here. Sorry about that. I just have to vent.

Now, how will Quain’tana aid the UNSC?


I tend to try to avoid giving spoilers, but since I'm excited I'll give you a little insight into the goings-on of my brain.

As of right now, is basically the "testing period" where both sides figure out how to make the alliance work, or if it even can. First and foremost, as stated in the most recent chapter, taking out the Battlecruiser (either crippling it or destroying it) is paramount as if it is deployed against the Alliance it would either outright destroy it, as the Drow have no anti-air or anti-ship capability at this stage and the UNSC does not possess weapons capable of effectively engaging a vessel like it, or inflict incredible damage it, making a Sharen-Covenant victory all but certain.

I'm planning there to be more in-depth talks between the UNSC and the Sarghess down the line, most likely after the current operation is complete, which would give a more accurate picture as to the relationship of the Alliance. There will be friction between both factions, the extent of this I won't reveal, but it assuredly won't be seamless what with the racism present on both sides (UNSC xenophobia brought about by the Human-Covenant war not 3 years prior and Drow feelings of superiority).

That's really all I'm going to say on it for now.
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Re: Valor (Heart of Valor Reboot - Halo Crossover)

Postby ThatGuyThisGuy » Fri Jan 29, 2016 12:44 am

Great Update Ace!
Gunbird wrote:Edit: I also don't like the ;"We have better technology, so battles with the locals will be a pice of cake." element to the story. In RL, it doesn't always work out that way. Like Vietnam war.

Not to be pedantic but if you know allot of things about the Vietnam war it is at best a sub par example of your point if you go at it from a certain angle and a Horrible example of your point if you go at it from most any other Angle.
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Re: Valor (Heart of Valor Reboot - Halo Crossover)

Postby Gunbird » Fri Jan 29, 2016 4:32 am

I have no clue what you said right there.

Look TG Ace told me and Obsidian to stop the debate, so please don't continue it.
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Re: Valor (Heart of Valor Reboot - Halo Crossover)

Postby aceofAces » Wed Mar 16, 2016 2:30 am

Q&A PERIOD

Unfortunately I won't be able to get the next chapter of Valor out in a timely fashion, what with college being my priority and whatnot. Regardless I'm still in a Valor mood so I thought I'd open up a Q&A period for the readers! If you guys have any questions regarding the plot so far or wish to gain some insight into the goings on of my brain and why I write the chapters how I do, now's your chance to give 'er a go!
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Re: Valor (Halo Crossover) [Q&A PERIOD OPEN!!!]

Postby Gunbird » Wed Mar 16, 2016 11:59 pm

Ok here is a question.

Why did you want to do this sort of story? Why did you want to mix a Si-fi story with a fantasy one?
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Re: Valor (Halo Crossover) [Q&A PERIOD OPEN!!!]

Postby aceofAces » Thu Mar 17, 2016 12:43 pm

Gunbird wrote:Ok here is a question.

Why did you want to do this sort of story? Why did you want to mix a Si-fi story with a fantasy one?

Honestly? I have absolutely no idea what possessed me to actually combine the two. I think it boiled down to "Hey I like Drowtales and I like Halo!...what would happen if I threw them in a room together?"

I think it also helped that the setting for Drowtales also took a more scientific approach to magic, or at least more so than most fantasy settings in my book. It doesn't paint mana arts as just something where you wave your hands around and say a couple phrases of an incantation and suddenly you have a raging inferno burning whole armies away, it seems to have a more concrete base as to how it works instead of saying "because magic" and has shown that it can be applied to things like engineering.

I think there's a broader application for mana with UNSC or Covenant technology down the line, which is honestly something I'd like to explore and tackle. Like integrated mana circuitry into UNSC weapons or using Mana as a backup power source for Covenant gear and not just having "+1 Assault Rifle of Dragons Bane" as the extent of it.

That and the politics of Drowtales was another thing I felt could add something. I know I started off with it basically being a "run in guns blazing" sort of deal but I'm hoping to try and add some kind of politics to it all down the line. We're still technically in a first contact scenario here folks, so keep your eyes peel for more political red tape and shady dealings down the line!
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Re: Valor (Halo Crossover) [Q&A PERIOD OPEN!!!]

Postby aceofAces » Wed Mar 23, 2016 3:44 pm

May 16th 2557
Year 1114 MA
2035hrs


Francis-135 sat near the closed ramp at the back of the pelican, hands holding his Battle Rifle at the ready. Around the interior of the pelican was a mixture of UNSC marines and Sarghress legionnaires, equipped and ready for the fight ahead, the marines with their standard loadouts of weapons, and the Sarghress with huge tower shields and lances. They were presently en-route at treetop level to a Covenant outpost base near the Sarghress-held city of Machike, designated Outpost Bravo.

“Attention A Company, this is Captain Stennis.” The Captain’s voice crackled over the intercom inside the Pelican. “Welcome to Operation Diamondback.” A few of the Drow inside were at first taken aback by the sound of his voice, probably not used to long-range communications considering their technology level. “Your mission is infiltrate and capture the Covenant held outpost base, and appropriate Covenant Phantoms for B Company to use in the second phase of the operation.”

Another voice came over the coms, this one female. “Spartan Francis is in command of this mission. All Sarghress are to follow his orders, I don’t care about your personal hang-ups about it.” Francis assumed that this was Quill’yate, the Sarghress Commander. “We’re beginning diversionary attacks against other Covenant armies, hopefully this’ll draw away many of their defenders and make your jobs easier. Good luck.” The sound feed cut out.

“On the ground in ten!” The pilots reported over the com, and Francis stood up from his seat and stood in the middle of the cargo bay, prepared to move down the ramp and take any enemy fire that might be sent their way as the marines began checking their weapons.

“I’ll head out first, everyone else exit the pelican and form up.” He addressed the cargo bay before he felt the pelican settle onto the ground. “Let’s move.” He punched the button for the ramp release and it lowered, closely followed by a fully armored Spartan running out the back of the Pelican, weapon drawn and leveled at the tree line. A quick glance to his left and right revealed Sarghress and Marines following suit, pouring out of the dropships and fanning out into the clearing.

No sign of the Covenant.

The marines, when they fanned out to their positions, kneeled on the ground to make themselves smaller targets. The already larger Drow, did not. These people weren’t used to fighting a technologically advanced enemy.

“The hell are you doing you idiot? Get down! You want them to pick you off?!” A marine scolded a nearby Sarghress.

The Sargh scoffed. “Are you kidding, there’s no one around!” She said, motioning to the treeline with her spear to try and prove her point.

"Might want to put a pin in that." A marine piped up, eyes glued to the motion tracker in his visor. "I'm getting movement ahead.” Francis spied on his own motion tracker, and quickly found the movement. About twenty red blips were located directly ahead, within 25 meters of the landing zone. Easily within engagement range.
“Let’s move.” Was his singular command as he led the way, rifle drawn at the ready as he pushed his way through the undergrowth, closely followed by the Marines as they fanned out into the bush. The Sarghress, he noted on his motion tracked as white icons lacking IFF tags, had remained static for a few moments, before grouping up into teams of five to eight and made their way after the Marines.

They soon made contact with the enemy, a scouting party, twenty three strong, two elites, eight jackals and thirteen grunts. They had not spotted the Marines as they crept through the thick vegetation.

“What’s the play boss?” A marine that sounded like he smoked one too many cigarettes whispered over the radio. Francis quickly consulted his motion tracker, determining the relative position of his forces to the enemy. The marines were in the perfect position, fanned out in a very slight crescent which would allow for overlapping fields of fire. The Sarghress on the other hand were too far back to be of any immediate use, their insistence on using large shields and moving as cohesive phalanx units had served to slow them down in the dense bush.

“Marines, mark targets.” He marked one of the elites to mark the center of the scouting party, a blue icon on his visor appeared over the head of his target, marked with SSgt. S135 to denote it as his mark. The other marines took their own targets, and Francis’ HUD was soon filled with little blue dots marking each soldier’s intended target, two zeroing in on the second elite. When Francis was satisfied that the marines would effectively engage the Covenant without chance for retaliatory fire he gave the order. “Fire.”

Shortly after came the staccato coughs of the suppressed MA5s. The grunts screamed, high pitched wails raising a cacophony of noise before being cut out as bullets tore through them. The jackals, taken by surprise lost what cohesion they had, turning to try and fight an attacker they didn’t see before they too were cut down. The elites managed to raise their weapons in a feeble attempt at defending themselves, their shields flaring before their defenses broke and bullets found their mark.

Francis had put four bursts into his target, dropping him in the space of a few seconds with a burst to his head. The other elite had succumbed to focused fire from two marines before he’d gone down clutching at his chest. What remained of the Covenant scout party was a pile of bodies.

“Hold position, wait for the Drow to catch up.” He ordered over the intercom as he checked his ammo counter. 24 shots left in the mag.

“Will do sir.” A marine confirmed as the sound of crunching leaves and snapping twigs drew closer. Eventually the Sarghress materialized out of the bushes, their tower shields and armor clanking together as they moved as six distinct units.

“Enjoy your sightseeing?” A marine quipped at a nearby Sarghress soldier.

“Oh don’t start with me!” She snapped back.

“Both of you stuff it, we got a job to do.” Another marine jumped into the conversation, halting the conversation. “You two can settle this once we’re done.”

“Understood sir.” Was the first marine’s response. The Drow woman merely gave an annoyed huff and dropped it. Francis took stock of the situation. They’d just wiped out a Covenant scouting group, and the Sarghress had managed to catch up, they could move on to the Covenant encampment.

However there was a problem. If the unit moved again, the UNSC Marine corps were more lightly equipped, and their training and combat formations favored flexibility and could more easily maneuver in the dense forest. The Sarghress Legionnaires on the other hand were trained and equipped for a more ‘ancient’ style of combat favoring tight rigid formations of interlocking shields and walls of spears and swords. They were more heavily armored, and this combined with the apparent larger size of the Drow, conspired to make it harder for them to move in the same terrain.

“Sarghress, forward. Marines, keep pace with them.” Francis ordered and the unit moved out, much more slowly than he would have liked. The Marines stayed ahead of the Sarghress units, acting as the lighter scouts to the Sarghress who moved as cohesive units, taking the easier and less dense paths through the forest with other marines preferring to hang back with them and relay positions to keep the unit together until they spotted the cool blue glow of Covenant equipment.

“Covies spotted.” One of the marines reported.

“Understood.” Fancis reported. “Hold position.” He raised a closed fist to the units behind him. The clanking of the Sarghress armor stopped and the unit sat still as every marine kept their eyes on their motion trackers. Francis activated his helmets zoom function magnifying his vision with the help of a helmet mounted camera.

More Covenant milled about in a small clearing to the unit’s front, defended by successive ranks of barricades and plasma cannons. A single communication hub stretched up from the center, surrounded by four Phantoms which sat parked in the center of the clearing. There was a good 70 of them, grunts, jackals, and elites.

“Overclock, we have visual on Covenant outpost.” He reported. “Have electronic countermeasures been deployed?”

“I read you Spartan. Countermeasures deployed. You’re go on the shoot.” The AI responded, sounding surprisingly chipper.

“Copy.” He said before letting his hand unfold and motioned for the Marines and Legionnaires to follow him towards the outpost. “Focus fire on the elites. Take out their command.”

“Will do sir.” A marine acknowledged though his comm channel.

With that Francis let his sights settle on an elite in the process of tossing around a poor grunt, possibly because it had disobeyed an order. Three bursts dropped his shields and a final took him down. The Marines opened up as they slowly advanced focusing their fire on the elites. Four more elites went down before the rest got to cover.

Now without the high-priority targets the Marines changed their focus opening fire on the grunts as they panicked, running in every direction as they ran for cover. The jackals on the other hand quickly figured out where the shots were coming from and locked shields shrugging off the bullets.
The elites now began to pop in and out of cover returning fire with their storm rifles as they maneuvered. The Marines crouched down, trying to take cover in the foliage to disrupt the elites’ aim. The Spartan kneeled down and returned fire, trying to draw the elite’s attention to him. He could handle the heat, the Marines couldn’t.

Then the Sarghress rushed up, not willing to miss the fight, shields locked together with a purple-blue light projected across their surface. It was almost surreal to the jackals’ strategy emulated in a much larger and more humanoid being. Plasma shots splashed against the small phalanxes, glancing off the shields.

One Sarghess looked to one of the ducking marines. “Come on! Get behind us we’ll cover you!”

Mobile cover, had to commend her for thinking on the fly.

“Marines, move behind the Sarghress formations.” Francis ordered. “All forces move up, keep up the pressure.”

The Marines fell in behind the Legionnaires, ducking out and firing before retreating back to the safety of the phalanx. The squad pushed forward, the jackals now beginning to whither further as the Marine’s assault rifles closed in. The Covenant began to fall back, grunts and jackals now strewn across the ground, now leaving most of the defending to the elites.

But getting closer also meant that the Elites could aim more effectively as well. One phalanx broke as the center Legionnaire took a plasma round to leg and collapsed to the ground. The marines behind now paid back their Sarghress companions, moving forward and opening up on the elites. Another phalanx was torn apart as a plasma grenade stuck to the shields. The Sarghress were tough enough to survive the blast, but the shockwave was enough to send them tumbling to the ground.

Now both Marines and Sarghress were taking plasma hits as their formations broke up. Francis had to take the outpost or they’d lose their once chance at the Battlecruiser. He pulled out a frag grenade and tossed it at three elites taking cover behind a couple weapons crates. One elite jumped out leaving the other two to die in the explosion.

This one was decked in gold armor and brandished a concussion rifle. The elite ran past another position, barking orders at the covenant taking cover, before moving on the next position. He was the one in charge.

“All units move in. Take the position.” Francis knew he was taking a big risk ordering the Sarghress to break formation. No one seemed to protest however as the Sarghress broke ranks and charged at the elite positions, the marines not far behind.

Francis meanwhile charged in, firing his battle rifle at the elite he’d pegged as the leader, the shots bouncing off the shields of the alien warrior. The elite saw him coming and began firing his concussion rifle at him. Globs of red plasma sailed towards the Spartan, forcing Francis to duck and dodge around the shots as his bursts finally brought down the enemy’s shields. He went down as the shooting stopped, the outpost had been cleared.

He didn’t waste any time. “Machike Command, this is Spartan-135. Rally point Alpha has been cleared of hostiles. Four Phantoms acquired, we are go to proceed with the boarding action.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

May 16th, 2557
Year 1114 MA
2035hrs


Ariel waited in formation for the order to attack, her shield held at her side, spear in her other hand, standing shoulder to shoulder with other legionnaires. She didn’t need to be an empath to feel the hesitation of those around her as the noise of battle could be heard off in the distance. The clash of steel and iron, the loud crack of Black Sun dvegar cannon, the clanking of golems.

She’d be lying if she said she wasn’t a bit nervous herself. The worst bit of combat now was mostly just the waiting, the waiting for the order to come and for the Legion to throw themselves at the enemy force.

She wondered at how the rest of her squad were doing. She knew Faen was closer to the rear, tending to the wounded. She didn’t know where the others were anymore, probably somewhere in the frontlines presently fighting and clearing the way for the legion to head through and attack the defenses.

“ALRIGHT LET’S MOVE!” Shouted the commander.

The legion moved, marching up through the street towards the sounds of battle ahead. The enemy position came into view, multiple cannon emplacements set up on a hastily constructed rock wall crewed mainly by Black Sun. A Sharen sat atop a dragon on top of the wall, barking orders at those below.

The Black Sun fired cannons in whichever direction they could, trying to keep the Sarghress and their Golems back. The Sarghress kept to cover, hastily built trenches covering them from cannon-fire watching as the legion marched past.

One of the cannons aimed right at Ariel, she swore it was aim right for her eye.

“ROCK FORMATION!!!” The Commander yelled.

Ariel charged her earth foci, feeling the rock ahead of her feet gripped in false fingers made of her mana. She raised her shield, the rock pulling up with it. Together the Sarghress mad a wall of rock that stretched up to her waist, mana now stretching up and reinforcing her shield.

The cannon shot rang out and she felt the shot connect with the slab of iron on her arm, forcing her arm back and the shield collided with her helmet. It hurt like hell, and she felt something wet begin to trickle down her forehead. Her left eye was suddenly filled with red forcing her to shut her eye, she was bleeding.

“Incoming!” Someone shouted as mana bolts began to rain down on them. She felt the bolts impact her shield, splashing against it and keeping her and her comrades pinned. The pain in her forehead was distracting, and the blood now streaming down her face was become an annoyance.

“They’re trying to keep us pinned!” Some else shouted.

“Agreed.” The Commander shouted. “Move! CHARGE!”

The Sarghress broke ranks, smashing though their hastily built wall to close the remaining distance with the enemy, intending to crash over their defenses like a wave over a rocky shore. This was textbook, the Black Sun had already lost this fight, they didn’t have the armor to stand against the legion. The poor souls were just too stubborn to realize it yet.

But Ariel felt something was wrong. The ground was rumbling beneath her feet, not from the hundreds of feet now thundering across the cavern floor. This wasn’t constant, more like something large and heavy was thundering forward. A golem? No the Sharen golems weren’t heavy enough to do this.

Ariel came to the first rank of the hill zeroing in on a cannon position, two Black sun trying to reload a cannon. She charged in, burying her spear into one then swinging her shield around and cracking the other’s head open with the edge.

The rumbling in the ground continued, the heavy footfalls growing ever closer. They felt like whatever it was had almost arrived.

“Unholy shit! What is that?!” Someone yelled. She saw him, pointing with his spear up at the top of the rocky hill. Ariel followed his spear and saw it, the thing that had made the rumbling.

It was easily the size of one of the Kal’yantra golems, four massive and sharp spines sticking out of its back. A large shield sat bolted to its left arm, held in front of it, the sharpened edges gleaming in the dim light of the underworld. It stood atop two massive legs built like pillars, crouching forward slightly, almost tucking its upper body into a ball. It looked like a golem, but didn’t move like one. Its movements were too fluid and quick despite its size. And there was a second one.

The first let out a grumbling roar that carried under the din of combat, the sound felt like it rattled Ariel’s bones as it raised its other arm, covered in glowing green cylinders and pointed it at a group of Legionnaires. Green light collected inside what Ariel thought to be its hand, the air beginning to crackle with energy.

A glob of green energy flew out from the cannon arm and slammed against the Legionnaires, a massive explosion consuming them. They went down screaming, one that had managed to stay away now clutched at her face as it smoked. The smell of burning flesh now filled the street as the giant beasts lumbered forward. Another pack of Legionnaires locked shields and stared down the second monster towered above them.

A single swing of its huge shield tossed them away like rag dolls, the sound of crunching metal filling the battlefield. One poor soul was still alive after the strike and tried crawling backwards on his hands to get away. The creature just planted its massive foot on him and Ariel heard his bones crunch as he screamed. It was frightening how casually it seemed to do it, almost effortless.

She turned her attention back to the first one and saw it staring at her. Ariel wanted to move, to get away from this thing. For the first time since her time at Orthorbbae she was staring death in the face, a colossal armored monster locking its four glowing eyes locked to hers as it aimed its cannon. She had to get away before she wound up like the others that dared stand in front of it.

But she couldn’t will her legs to move no matter how hard she tried. Could she even get away from this thing? Would it stop trying to kill her if she ran? Would it hunt her to the edges of Chel if she got away?

She saw its head turn away from her as her ears were filled with the sound of clanking. A Golem filled her view, its mace arm raised to bring it down on the creature’s head.

She turned in ran as a green blast took out another pack of Sarghress. Shouts of “fall back” and “run” carrying over the din of combat as Sarghress clambered over their defenses and back into the buildings behind them.

She heard the crunch of metal and dared to look over her shoulder as she ran. She saw the monster with the side of its shield buried into the side of the golem, the force throwing the golem into a jutting rock, the leg falling away only to be held on by wires and cables. The golem landed on its back and immediately fell prey to the massive creature, its shield held high in a strange mirror to the Golem’s attempt to fight off the creature. Almost like it was mocking the pilot inside!

The pilot screamed as the shield came down, the crunching of metal sealing her fate.

Ariel felt something hot slamming into her shoulder, it burned into the armor making her scream in pain. Instinctively her hand shot up, clutching at the burning arm burning her hand and she pulled it back, the flesh on her palm burned and seared. Ariel ducked behind cover and looked at her shoulder plate, and now she saw it glowing red hot as it burned into her shoulder. She fumbled with the straps, pulling them off and letting the plate fall away from her shoulder.

She clutched at her steaming shoulder, tears streaming down her face, the pain excruciating and she could barely move the injured arm. She could hear them, the beasts, stomping down the hill, their cannons firing at whoever wasn’t able to get to cover.

But there were other noises now. The roar of another creature, not Drow but not the lumbering giants. She looked up over the half-destroyed wall she’d hidden behind and saw other creatures spilling over the Black Sun position, two new Sharen among them.

The roars came from tall creatures with a mangled looking mouths, mandibles in place of lips, clutching some kind of energy weapon that fired bursts of blue light at the Sarghress. Others cowered behind glowing shields, long toothed beaks screeching orders at each other and at the smaller waddling creatures the trotted forward.

They were firing at the Sarghress, cutting down any who weren’t quick enough. One of the taller creatures charged forward, brandishing a glowing blue blade. It grabbed a Legionnaire by the shoulder and plunged it into her back, the tips springing out of her chest amidst glowing hot metal as she let out her last scream.

Ariel had to move of she’d end up like the rest of them. She bolted, running towards the rest of the retreating Sarghress.

This wasn’t the same war anymore.
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