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A Thorn in the Convenant's Hide


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"Want to try again, sir? I hear 22 Black goes good with potatoes", suggested the sly operator, with his thick black mustache covering his whole upper lip.

A lone man in uniform laughed and put 10 chips on 14 Red. He stuck a matchbook in his hat, halfway in, signifying to other gambling veterans that his break is finally coming.

"I've never fell for your shenanigans Frank, why start now?", asked jokingly the man in uniform.

Suddenly the doors to the left were thrown open, with the two guards flown to each side of the room.

"Colonel Harshe! Wherever you are, you are to report to General Tomack's headquarters at once! Where are you Colonel Harshe!", exclaimed the bulky soldier, with a sharp green uniform and clean polished shoes. His medals and ribbons covered his whole right side, and with a head of hair that wasn't there.

The lone man stood from the stool and collected his chips from Frank, who kept his head down as to avoid being seen by the man who has just barged in.

"Alright Master Sergeant," said Colonel Harshe, "just let me cash in my chips."

Colonel Harshe stood with grace, and his ruggish appearance fit him well. His brown hair combed back, and mustache freshly shaved off, he knew he had made the right career choice. He was never fully disciplined and hardly followed orders willingly, but with the recent battles with the Covenant he quickly rose up the chain of command and became Head of the Offensive Command, or HOC.

The bulky soldier grunted and said, "At once! You are to go there at once and no delay is tolerable!" and rushed over to Harshe to pull him towards the door. People around turned their heads to see what the hassle was about, but quickly went back to gambling.

With a swoop of fast moving hands, the Master Sergeant fell flat on his back, and his eyes rolled back with a wheez. The colonel knew he would not last long in here, so he rushed past the guards getting up and drove to the headquarters.

"Glad you could make it Colonel, where is MSergeant Kobbs?", asked an old soldier with decorated ribbons, and the Medal of Covenant Loss - given to the survivors of major battles where humans had won.

"He had to make a trip," Harshe said with a wincing that ruffled his uniform, realizing how bad that was.

"The covenant have captured London, Chicago, New York, Washington D.C., Bismark, and you were wasting our time gambling?", asked the General with a little anger, making his whole head turn red.

"Wha...How did you know?" Harshe wondered, feeling vulnerable to this man.

The general pointed to the matchbook in his hat, and Harshe blushed with the idea he had forgotten about that.

"Colonel, you have never been a good officer, but you have been a great soldier, and that is the reason you have been assigned to Operation Thorn. You will infiltrate the Covenant's foothold, and follow this map to the secret faction of the last humans in that area." said the general as he passed Harshe a green map marked with different colors.

Harshe flushed with dread, as he knew what was to be done.

"Keep the tables open General, but I am not gauranteeing me going." replied Harshe.

The general stood up with the intention to use force, and said, "You will go and that is an order! Men, escort Colonel Harshe to the weapons facility and let him do his bidding."

Harshe and two young enlisted men walked on the sidewalk from the building to the facility. The two men pushed the warehouse door open to the side, and Colonel Harshe walked into the darkness.

Harshe walked into the middle of the room, not being able to see anything, and heard the door suddenly closing. He ran back but it was too late as the lock turned, he banged on the doors but for some reason no one came. He turned around, and searched for lights, but suddenly he heard the instantly recognizable whimpering of the Covenant off to the right. He drew his weapon and aimed at the darkness, and suddenly turned around as he heard the same noise to his left. He felt surrounded, and suddenly he heard a quick snap.

The generators moaned as the room filled with light, and a roar erupted, "Surprise!!!"

Harshe jumped back into the wall, 5 feet away, and looked around to see his whole family and a couple friends standing in the middle of the warehouse with party balloons, party hats, and gifts all around them. Harshe holstered his weapon, and sighed with a huge relief. Amidst all the action he has been in lately, he forgot his birthday was today. He ran to the people, still recovering from the surprise.

"We had you Bill! You should have seen your face, haha!", exclaimed Harshe's brother, Tom.

"You can thank little Dave for the sound effects!", told his mother, Barbara.

Harshe went up to Dave and scruffed his hair playfully, laughing. His whole family was known to go all out, and this certainly took the cake.

The door unlocked with a click, and the doors swung open as the General walked in smiling and holding a gift. "If only I was here to see your face Bill", laughed the General.

Harshe shook hands with the general, and smiled at the two young men who had locked him in.

After the party, Harshe sat with the General, drinking his beer.

"Do you think I will be able to train the faction, making them ready and able to fight the Covenant?", asked Harshe as he put down his beer.

"You have trained squadrons of young men fresh out of bootcamp, you can train those civilians to put fear into the bastards' two hearts.", the General proudfully claimed.

"We'll see, General, we'll see."

The next morning, Harshe set out on a recon ship, no more than a few hundred feet around, and made his final preparations for the impossible trek to this faction. He was curious what they were capable of, but he was confident in the new prototype he had brought along with him. It was a new armor casing, meant for a person with his sizes and features. It had compartments for grenades, and holsters for three weapons, one being in his back. He would try it on when he gets to the American shore, which is probably swarmed with the grunts still.

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Thanks Inoc. :)

Warning: Mild use of language, read at your own risk.


Harshe looked at his synchronized watch, and shouted to the specialist, "2 hours!".

Later that evening, they arrive at the first checkpoint, a few kilometers from shore, slowing down to a halt.

"We will wait a day here, and then use jet-propulsioned underwater carriers, or JUCs, towards the shore.", the specialist informed the colonel.

The specialist was a bulky, muscled man wearing deep black diving wear, with thick black hair and an obvious Italian complex. He specialized in writing and mission plans, along with being in the mission itself. He has proved himself worthy of a great soldier by infiltrating a foothold in Sicily, and in what was supposed to be a suicide mission, he surprised the Covenant and with a lot of firepower he killed every last one of them.

Harshe nodded and asked, "So you're the specialist, now specialize."

"If you mean tell you the confidentials of the mission...Ah what the hell, I don't think we are going to make it to get court-martialed. The general should have briefed you on our major offensive accomplishment, the Super Soldiers. He did? Ok good. Since all but one died, who is MIA, the project was closed, and the left over armor was given to the highest bidder. This is what this is.", the specialist said pointing his hairy hand to the metal tube.

With his eyes widened, the colonel realized that his mission had more put into it then he had originally thought. "What are you going to wear on this mission, or are you wearing it already?", asked Harshe, taking a satirical note of his bulkiness.

The specialist stepped towards Harshe with a hard look on his face, staring straight through the colonel. The colonel felt pressured, knowing he wouldn't win an altercation with this strong man, and lightly laughed, "Hey take it easy big guy, no harm done Hawkes."

The specialist continued to stare right through him, and then quickly widened to a smile, "Haha, you silly Americans are scared easily!"

The colonel sighed, realizing his knuckles were dead white gripping onto the railing. He let go with a little trouble, and went downstairs to finish the scanning.

Twenty minutes later, a loud boom was heard outside of the boat, and Hawkes ran downstairs, "We have trouble! An unknown ship, looking to be Covenant, just came into the atmosphere and is heading towards the water 10 clicks north of us!"

The two go starboard and watch the huge ball of fire go into the horizon. A few seconds later, the two saw the water rising slowly. They stand stiffly in fear, as the water rises quicker now.

Hawkes then shook it off, and ran towards the stairs. He looked back and ran towards Harshe, still looking off the rail towards the rising water. He grabbed him and opened the door, quickly getting in and shutting it locked.

"It's just a post-contact wave, this boat can take it." Hawkes reassured Harshe. They both fell over the equipment as the water went over them and sent them spinning underwater. Water seeped in from the top and bottom, and shorted all the equipment with quick sparks and small fires. Harshe ran towards the small exstinguisher, and sprayed the whole stash. The water settled, and Harshe threw down the exstinguisher, "The whole system is fried! We lost all contact with headquarters and aerial photographs of the coastline! We are fucked!"

Hawkes sighed, and said "The mission is still on, but now we have another priority to attend to."

"It looked to be a few miles out north, we can make it and check for survivors. Oh, and salvage what working equipment we can.", stated Hawkes.

The boat turns and heads toward the smoke, and 20 minutes later they show up at an afloat transport ship, designed to land on water from space. A whole side was charred and shot to pieces, a sign of a battle in orbit. It was covered with strange markings, and the boat slowed to the side of the ship, looking for a way in. Armed and ready, the two find a hatch and climb in cautiously.

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Thanks again Inoc ;)


The two men left the boat chugging outside, in case of a hasty retreat. As the hatch closed behind them, the darkness enveloped them as if the whole world shut off. Harshe felt along the walls blindly and heard a click, but his hand never went over a bump. Harshe readied his weapon as the ship walls moaned and vibrated, and the light probes slowly but surely came on, flowing the hallway with light.

Hawkes looked back at Harshe, "What did you do?"

"Nothing, I moved my hand across here," Harshe points to the blank wall, "but I didn't activate anything that can be seen."

The two looked around in the now lit hallway, and saw bodies of Covenant grunts, elites, and an unknown form of Covenant never shown to human kind.

"Look at this monster," noted Hawkes as he crouched over it, "look here, it has an exoskeleton of nothing I've ever seen. Also here, right behind the neck, and behind the legs, there is organic armor. This was most Covenant's weak spots that we took advantage of, and now they have been fixed by nature."

"Or by maniacal genetic breeding," replied Harshe in a bland tone.

Hawkes nodded, and moved on, but not before taking a few plasma grenades. "Just in case," he said.

Suddenly the walls burned with plasma waste, and the two were now attacked by two grunts and two elites.

"We got company Harshe!" yelled Hawkes as he dove behind a cargo case.

"No we don't," Harshe calmly replied from behind a pole. He unpinned two fragmentation grenades, peeked from the pole, and rolled them down the hall, amidst the flying green and white bursts. Behind the case, Hawkes heard a wailing of a grunt, and following shortly after was two simultaneous blasts that rocked the ship. Hawkes looked up to find in the dark grey smoke a wounded elite, and immediately fired on it as it staggered towards them. The elite dropped to the floor, letting off a few last blasts and died with a wheez.

"Let's go," Hawkes said then the smoke cleared.

Hawkes looked down to see the bodies, and something bothered him. With a sudden dread in his abdomen, he realized there was only one dead elite laying on the ground.

"Hey where-" With two thuds both operatives fall down limp, and are suddenly surrounded by an elite and 5 grunts. The grunts whimper with excitement as the last thing Harshe saw was being carried off.

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