HBOFF: Feet First Into Hell
First Runner-Up: Mad World, by Sin Saiori
"I had a dream last night, Sergeant. It was the best I've ever had; I died and got out of this damned war."
I looked at the familiar faces surrounding me; the grim look in Abe's eyes, that bastard Dan grinning like a Cheshire cat, good ol' Stacey and her damn perfect hair, the angry scar across Azriff's cheek, and the straight set of Sergeant Grumman's brow.
I sighed. "Damn, we must be one pretty sight."
"Shut it, you," snapped Stacey, no real heat behind it. "Let's see anyone else do what we've done here."
She was right too. We're the best of the best, 'cept for the Spartans, trained to perfection so we could do what normal Marines only dreamed about...only had nightmares about.
'Hell Jumpers,' they called us. Well, they were right about that, for sure. We'd strap up in our HEV's, get the green light from the bridge, then hurl our guts out as we shot down through the atmosphere at lethal speeds. Hell Jumpers indeed. From orbit, we could be anywhere we were needed inside of a couple of minutes. I just wish we could get back out just as easily.
All in all, it was hard to believe that the fight had been brought back to Earth, some crazy-ass aliens wanting some crazy-ass artifact buried in some crazy-ass desert for some crazy-ass reason. It's crazy, I tell you.
So here we were, six ODST's in the middle of fuckin' nowhere, guarding a next-to-useless outpost from hoards of Covie scum just 'cuz some Admiral Ass-Face wanted a little more shiny shit on his collar. Effing perfect, no?
The UNSC Persephone got the order that an unnamed outpost needed a perimeter established and a whole lot of grunts and elites needed to meet our boot-heels. And, of course, what command wants, command gets. So, we got the green light and inside of a couple minutes, hurling our guts out the whole time, we hit our LZ and got to work and did what we did best.
I constructed barricades from whatever crap I could find; upturned cars, rocks, even those little dolls with the funky wobbly heads. What the hell were those things called? Meh, who cares? More shit for them to shoot through.
Abe, Stacey, and Azriff were on scouting duty in the surrounding area, trying to figure out what in the lowest level of hell it was that those aliens would want way in the left ass-cheek of the world. The Sergeant had been on and off the horn with the Persephone trying to get status updates on what was going on with the rest of the fight, and Dan, dear demented Dan, was whistling, laying explosive traps, and waltzing along with a string of C7 charges hung over his shoulders like a scarf.
Damn it to hell, I was glad he was there though. What seemed like a moment later we got to meet those boot-lickers command set us up on a blind date with. We met them and promptly blasted half of them to Kingdom Come. Please excuse our manners.
That was 5 days, 7 hours, 26 minutes, and 15...16...17 seconds ago. We held out...but we knew...we knew it wouldn't be much longer, that we couldn't last much longer. The fatigued faces of my squad indicated as much. Worn out faces in a worn out place. Supplies were pretty well gone, we were all sporting various injuries, though nothing immediately life threatening, and we could all see the coming wave on the horizon. That rising tide would bring more blood and more death, hopefully not ours. That torrent of fire would keep pounding down upon us until we would eventually be swept away by the undertow.
It was only a matter of time...
Bright and early, the first of the last shots rang out.
Abe was a true artist with a SRS99D-S2 AM Sniper Rifle. The surgical precision of his shots would probably silence weeping babies and make the greatest surgeons shit bricks. I once heard it described as an intergalactic phenomenon, that the whole universe simply lined up in his crosshairs every time he looked down that scope. I called bullshit then, but now...
Azriff lobbed a grenade over my makeshift barricade, showering a cluster of grunts with molten shrapnel. A quick glance over the wall later and he unloaded his BR55HB SR Battle Rifle to mop up the survivors.
The never-ending stream of bullets from the AIE-486H Heavy Machine Gun and Dan's maniacal laugh only cemented my opinion that he was completely bat-shit crazy. But after 5 days of this, it felt oddly reassuring...
Stacey always kept things as risk free as possible: no extended periods of exposure to enemy fire, quick peeks over the wall, and rockets to the groins of every elite within 200 feet of our position. Lather, rinse, and repeat.
I peppered my own fair share of Covenant hide with my M7 SMG, targeting soft spots with controlled bursts of fire.
And all the while, Sergeant Grumman stood over us, a MA5C Assault Rifle in each hand, God's own anti-son-of-a-bitch-machine, ripping through enemy lines with more 7.62x51mm NATO rounds than most Marines would ever fire in their lives. The perfect image of a Hell Jumper.
5 days, 7 hours, 58 minutes, and 18...19...20 seconds.
I felt the heat of the plasma bolt before I ever saw it, heard it sizzling as it flew towards me, a taste of ozone in the air trailing behind it.
I think some part of me was already resigned to this happening sooner or later. Some part of me had already accepted that there was nothing left for me to do here. Some part of me just wanted to go to sleep and forget what was happening for a little while.
So I slept, and I dreamed.
It was the best dream I'd ever had.