(Josie's last two posts rolled into one) :
There was a sharp crack followed a few seconds later by a thump nearby.
'SNIPER!' Someone shouted, as the team hit the deck or scrambled for cover.
'McKnight, show that cocky bastard how a real sniper does their job' Fawkes shouted over the radio. Countersniping was the hardest part of being a sniper, as it matched one sniper's speed, wits, and skill against the other, and in this case he had a buddy, making it all the more difficult. Over the years though she had developed her own method for countersniping, broken down into a variety of steps.
Step 1: Find cover
Well that was all fine, the boulder she was behind would easily stop any incoming
Step 2: Locate the other sniper
McKnight scanned the darkness for the muzzle flashes. Up in the trees two bright flashes emerged, one distinctly larger than the other, signifying the larger caliber of bullet used by the sniper
Step 3: Judge distance, windspeed and other factors.
Judging by the crack and thump of the incoming sniper fire, he was about 800 metres away, the wind was blowing softly, and there was a light drizzle. McKnight clicked the dial on the side of the scope twice to bring the range up, then the one on top to compensate for windspeed.
Step 4: Fire a sighter shot
McKnight gently lay the rifle on top of the boulder, positioning herself behind it in the prone position, one leg crossed over the other for stability, waiting for the next muzzle flash. She exhaled all the air from her lungs and waited.
814 metres away, atop a rocky outcrop, the sniper and his spotter heard the distinct crack of a sniper rifle, the shot pinging 3 or 4 metres to the left of them. Good, they grinned to each other, knowing that every ODST team had a sniper present, they had worried , but as luck would have it this one seemed to have no talent.
Step 5: The killing blow
They were wrong, dead wrong. McKnight was one of the best, most talented of them all. The innefectual shot she had fired was but a sighter, and she clicked the top dial 4 times to the right. She lined up the shot, with only the sniper's muzzle plash to go on. *Bang*, his rifle fired, lighting up with a flash. McKnight exhaled, and pulled the trigger. 814 metres away the round carved through the side of the sniper rifle and into the sniper's head, exploding it in a pink mist. His spotter turned in disbelief and shock, his DMR held loosely in his hands, wide eyed and open mouthed. There was another sharp retort and 1.7 seconds later he was thrown of his feet as the round impacted his chest.
McKnight waited to see if the sniper fire would resume. It didn't.
'Target's Incapacitated' - Mcknight radioed in to Fawkes, folding in the bipod of her sniper, she received a note of acknowledgement and kept her head down as the firefight gradually began to wind down in the ODST's favour.
Everything was quiet now. They were moving out in a few minutes, so McKnight drank a sip of water from her canteen and checked that she hadn't lost or broken any equipment in her scramble to cover. There was a cough a few metres from her, and McKnight raised her pistol, pacing forwards slowly towards the source. She parted the bushes and was welcomed by the sight of a dying innie, having been shot in numerous places. Protocol was to leave him, or secure him in case he tried anything, but he didn't look like he was going anywhere, and McKnight took pity on him.
'Filthy UNSC lapdog' He coughed 'Get... off my planet'
McKnight lowered her pistol, kneeling down beside his ruined form
'I'm..... sorry.... that this had to happen'
She reached for her canteen and pressed it to his lips. He snarled and spat, then broke out coughing at the strain, blood bubbling from between his lips.
'I dont.... need your *cough* sympathy you UNSC bitch' He spat, before crying out in pain
'Why.. why do you hate us so much?' McKnight asked softly, her voice barely hiding her sadness at the sight of the dying man
'Because *splutter*, because you're scum' The man spat, then cried out again, wheezing, tears streaming. 'Do the honourable thing, and finish me'.
McKnight raised her pistol, pressing it to the man's temple, he looked up at her, his eyes wide. Her hands were shaking as she released the safety catch. She closed her eyes, a lone tear escaped her eye, as she began to depress the trigger.
She stopped. She couldn't do it. She wasn't like the rest, not like Payne or Zetan. She couldn't be an executioner. She lowered the pistol.
'I'm sorry, I'm so so sorry' She whispered, but it didn't matter, the man wasn't breathing, his eyes still open, a look of acceptance in them. As she got back up to rejoin the squad, she was glad for her helmet to disguise the tears flowing down her cheeks, and she positioned herself away from the rest of them, quiet and subdued, wondering how much more of this she could take...