The time: In the future (50-100 years or so).  Earth has begun reaching for the stars.  New galaxies are discovered, new planets found.  The advent of the Space Warp drive has allowed human-kind to stray beyond Earth's reach - to branch out into new galaxies.  And with this newfound exploration comes the need to terraform new worlds.  And on these new worlds ... we find ... new challenges, new struggles, and new ... dangers.

The Place: Earth, United Nations Space Command (UNSC) Headquarters
                 The office of Admiral William H. Lewis,
                 Deputy Commander,
                 United Nations Space Command (Unified Command)

The Setting: Admiral Lewis is briefing Captain Garth McClanahan, UNSC
                   Space Marines (Unified Command)

Lewis: Captain McClanahan - please sit down. I need to brief you on a highly sensitive, critical mission.
McClanahan: Yes sir.
Lewis: Captain, in a nutshell, we have lost communication with the terraforming colony on JR-376 - also called Freeman's World. We need you to lead a multi-national rescue mission to this planet. Are you familiar with this planet, Captain?
McClanahan: No sir - only that it is a planet we are doing something on somewhere. Are you at liberty to fill me in on this planet, sir?
Lewis: I can give you some background - the planet is in the Johnson Richards Star Cluster - named after the scientists who discovered it. It is the 376th planet in the cluster. We landed there a little over thirty years ago, found it had a TREMENDOUS amount of mineable resources, and began terraforming it. Simultaneously, we had used it as a prison colony and paid the prisoners to aid the scientists at the various research and terraforming command posts. A little over five years ago, we gave he prisoner's their freedom and allowed each of them a plot of land.

(Reaches over on desk, grabs a manilla folder, and hands it to Captain McClanahan)
Lewis: Here are your orders Captain. Take a look at them ... (McClanahan reads through the orders ...)
McClanahan: Ahhhh .. sir ... I have some questions...
Lewis: Yes Captain ... go ahead ...
McClanahan: Sir .. this planet has an atmosphere .. correct?
Lewis: That's correct.
McClanahan: Then .... why do we ned our helmets sir? These orders sa to make sure we wear our ful space gear. Why sir?
Lewis: Well ... ah .... that is to ... protect your men from any possible ... contaniments that may have been loosed into the atmosphere.
McClanahan: Well sir ... it is kind of ... funny ... these orders, sir ... they say I am to locate, secure, and return ... "specimen containers." What KIND of specimens, sir?
Lewis: Just some experiments. Look Captain ... time is growing very short ... you need to get started.
McClanahan: yes sir ...
Lewis: And Captain ... one more thing. The prisoners that we freed ... they have pretty much become a roving band of privateers ... looking for food, fuel, and basically anything they can find in the various towns and colonies. Watch your step! We aren't really sure what their capabilities are. We know they may have some of our robot technology ... and may have ... modified it ... for their own use.
McClanahan: yes sir. Will do sir.

Cut to: JR-376 - also called Freeman's World.  The USMC International Force, led by Captain McClanahan, enters the terraforming town.  And discovers an eerie calm.  No movement, no sound, no people.  Until the lead recon team enters the town.  And begins to find grisly evidence of foul play.  Dead bodies and rubble.  This is all that is left of the terraforming town. A grisly discovery
The results of a chemical attack on the colony Captain McClanahan deploys his troops throughout the colony.  There are still many valuable supplies left to be protected from pillaging.  And on the way down from the drop ship, he and his troops had seen a roving band of privateers headed for the town ... perhaps to give it one more look over.

"I bet those privateers are the ones who ravaged this town." thought McClanahan.  "It looks like they used chemical weapons too .. the bodies here ... they have been atomized ... almost as if they were dried out!"

Captain McClanahan positions his  main Mech-Walkers near the odd building at the end of the colony's street.  

"That is the strangest building I have ever seen!  No doors!  No windows!  Almost like ... a tomb!" thought McClanahan.

Studying the building for a few minutes, as his defense Mech-Walker units took up their positions, McClanahan began to have a sense of foreboding overtake him. "This planet has atmosphere.  We do not need our suits .. yet we were instructed it would be good to wear them.  This building .. no walls.  No windows.  No way in ... or out.  I wonder if the specimens we are supposed to collect are in there?"

The end of the colony has a strange warehouse
Just as the setup is done, the privateers enter the colony With only one Mech-Walker left to position, the privateers enter the town.  And they are armed!

The leader, known only as "The Gigundous", is in his vehicle, surrounded by a captured Mech-Walker and a small army of attack-droids.

The attack droids are a deadly mix of stealth (they are very small), speed (over 45 KPH in open ground), and lethal fire power (armed with a phased-laser capable of cutting through 3 inches of steel!)

The UNSC force prepare for the attack!

The Gigundous raises the skull of a Brathera - a native, horned animal known for being one of the most vicious animals in the universe - over his head.  The attack begins! The attack begins
Battle begins The battle begins ... casualties are taken on all sides!

The Gigundous is shot - many of his followers are wounded or killed ... the attack droids are decimated.  But the attack presses on!

The UNSC takes grievous losses .. first one Mech-Walker is disabled ...

... and then another!   The battle rages ever on ...
As the privateers continue to suffer heavy casualties, they bring in their heavy artillery!  But just as he is about to loose a barrage of missiles at the UNSC Mech-Walkers, he is mortally wounded!  As he dies ... he pulls the trigger on the rocket launcher, trying to avenge himself upon the UNSC forces.  

But the missiles go high  and wide... missing the UNSC forces.  The forces ignore the missiles ... but they shouldn't have.  For the missiles did find a target ...

... the warehouse!  And the UNSC forces - as well as the remaining privateer forces - are about to learn WHAT was in the warehouse.

Captain MaClanahan turns when he hears screams ... behind him.  The site before his eyes freezes him in his tracks!

The "specimens" are loosed from the warehouse!
Aliens attack The Alien creatures are attacking his forces!  Now he has enemies in the front and the rear.  But as is soon apparent, the Alien creatures make no differentiation.
The privateers soon feel the hatred of the released Alien creatures. Makes no difference!
The battle is now human vs. Alien.  After a brief, fierce firefight, the human's begin to take the upper hand.
After the battle, all of the Aliens and privateers are dead.  Captain MacClanahan gathers his remaining troops, recovers his downed Mech-Walkers and leaves the colony.

"The UNSC can send a research team here to see what those things were.  I'm getting my people out of here."

However, soon after the UNSC team leaves, there is a stirring near the downed privateer's Mech-Walker ...


Later, a UNSC research team visits the planet ... and makes a gruesome discovery. On the face of one of the dead privateers ... is a strange organism.

The dog won't go nearer ...

"Oh man ... that darn thing won't come off!  I had to remove the head!  Hope the boys back at Special Weapons Research like this little guy ..."

The end ... or ... just the beginning?