Protect PEGASUS by (ENS) Rabid_Gallagher
Project PEGASUS: Chapter 0
Date: 9 July 2008, 10:37 pm
This is the audio log of Doctor Nathaniel Aximus, of the United Nations Space Command's Science Division. I am
the lead scientist on Project CERBERUS on UNSC Science Ship 12-5729 Jolly Roger, here in the orbit around Procyon VI. This may be the last transmission I will ever make, for our sins are creeping on my soul.
We were charged by General Lambert of ONI to create a unit super soldier program that would have been a greater success than the SPARTAN, SPECTRE, or even the XENO program. These soldiers, raised from tubes, would have been bred to fight with everything that the best soldiers fight with: experience. The two keys to this program were genetic memory and enhanced medical and pharmaceutical drugs.
The cloning process would age them almost to full maturity in the span of two weeks, and then it would rapidly slow down to a normal age rate. We had tested it fully on animals, and our first test subjects were flawless in their aging parameters. Flawless. They were healthy, normal human beings that had happened to be grown from test tubes. It was a success, a complete success, and soon we moved onto training.
got his hands on them.
Hans Schiletzger, the Commanding Officer of Spectre Team Five, begun their strict training regime, and that's when the changes were noticeable. Twitches, growls, animalistic-like tendencies to food and even sex. It was out of control.
something to them. I don't know what. It has to do with the crystal. That damn crystal. It
made Lieutenant Holtz go crazy, along with the rest of them. He never should of told them that it would work! He never did! Pegasus needs to be tamed! It needs to be tamed! We need a
Oh God, they're breaking through the door! Quickly, Eugene, activate the
no! Let me go! Please, no! Oh, god
North American Eastern Seaboard, Zone 5
NOVEMBER 27th, 2552
"Then the message continues to repeat, sir."
Colonel Robert Gallagher's eyebrow arched slightly, writing down notes with a stylist onto his data-pad. The presenter, Lieutenant Edelweiss, sat across from Gallagher himself, in front of the old wooden desk. This gave Harry Edelweiss the entire view of his desk: How he had his name laser-cutted into a faux-gold, flat bar. Two old pens, made as such, were placed flat and perpendicular on the side of the gold name, with the solid oak base laying flat upon the desk itself. On the bookcase behind Gallagher, still writing, was a picture of a blonde-haired woman, beautiful even in age, with her head on Gallagher's shoulder. Both of them had a smile on their face, and the sun was shining on them in a dusky setting, with Gallagher's head gently leaning on her's.
Gallagher looked up.
"Do we even know that officer?"
"I've never heard of him, sir."
Robert shook his head, reading another file as Harry continued to look at his desk. There was another picture behind Robert on the same bookcase, with Robert in civilian clothes outside an olde tyme shop on what looked like, judging from the purple finches and orange colored brushes in the background, Alpha Centauri. He was with his wife, a blonde hair woman with her locks cut short, her hand in his, with a little kid sitting with them on a park bench. All three of them had smiles on their faces.
"This is just plain weird." Gallagher said again, reaching under his table for another datapad, writing some more on its clear surface.
"They said to pick someone who's worked with Hans before."
"Who do you think then, Harry?" Gallagher spoke, bringing out a barograph before setting it within his small briefcase, incased in black leather. It had the look of professionalism. and of something sentimental, but that was it from the briefcase as the Lieutenant garniered a look.
"You want Henderson, that's for sure. He knows Hans, knows how he operates." Harry spoke softly, sitting still, his eyes looking outside before snapping back towards the SPECTRE Commanding Officer.
"I'd also recommend Lieutenant Anthony Davis, Sergeant Brezchiza-Weiss, and Major Mrugistaski."
This prompted him to access his computer with a flick of his finger, using his thumb-mouse to bring up the PERSONNEL button on the computer's display. This brought him to an agent directory, where he clicked on Davis' name and rank. He could see the thirty-something SpecFor operative's eyes, and how they seemed to want blood. His features, while handsome, were different, as if they were permanently laced into a scowl.
Gallagher nodded. It made sense, a lot of good sense, because he had skills that would fit the mission. Anthony had both the speed and the medical expertise to play a double role in the operation. A medic and a forward scout were honored positions, and Gallagher understood fully well how much of a warrior Anthony was, as well as a highly praised lifesaver. To top it off, he had worked with Wolf before on a few other missions in the Human-Covenant War. The two of them were members of the original eight-man team.
He could also see why he would pick Sergeant Petya Brezchiza-Weiss out for a mission like this as her picture and her file popped up; she was a master of close-quarter combat, always preferring to use Shotguns and the like against anything else. Not to mention she was qualified to use and disarm explosive ordnance, and for a mission like this that would be the most handy out of everything else. Another good choice. Her face, unlike Anthony's, was a slight bit cheerful and looked a bit on the pauper side. However, besides the lack of makeup, she looked tired and old, something that is expected for someone who's been in as many missions as she has.
And Hideaki Nobuyuku Mrugistaski was both a sniper and a fan of computer operation systems. He was good at the latter, very good, and Gallagher knew that he had the balls to get the job done. The Korean was another smiler, his definite Asian looks gave him the look of an outsider, but Colonel Gallagher knew what the Lieutenant Commander was made of.
The Colonel was surprised. Harry knew how to pick a good team: He had the craziness of Lieutenant Davis and Sergeant Brezchiza-Weiss combined with the collective cool of Commander Henderson and Lieutenant Commander Mrugistaski. Each person skills complimented one another's in some way or another, and each had experience operating in urban and tight-corner situations.
"Good job, Harry. You'll be there with them, right?"
The Naval Lieutenant nodded.
"You goin' home, sir?"
"Yes, definitely. I'll see you tomorrow, Harry."
The Warthog pulled into the driveway.
Inside the Warthog 's covered plates, hiding the driver and the occupants from view, were two ODST support troopers, each with a BR55 Battle Rifle and prepared to fight against any threat to the ONI Colonel's safety. Thankfully, unlike the attempted car-jack a few weeks prior, nothing of that sort happened along the forty-two mile drive today. Gallagher stepped out of the sideseat and waved at the driver, who saluted back to the Colonel and pulled the Warthog in reverse. The two ODST troopers nodded as well, holding onto the bars and railings in the troop hold of the Warthog before it took off down the suburban street to connect on the main road.
Gallagher looked at his small lawn and shook his head: His little girl had forgotten to place her toys back where they belonged back in the house. He walked across his little path walk, the sun just setting along the mountains backaways while cars in the distance drove with each other. Robert smiled as his hands twisted open the knob to his house, a hard day down the drain already as he returned home.
"I just finished dinner!" A voice came from the kitchen, down the main hallway that led to the living room. Gallagher smiled, setting his briefcase down and slipping off his black, glossy shoes down on the hard tile surface. His black-socked feet then stepped on white carpet, that smile still stuck on his face as he entered into the kitchen and saw his wife at the table at the far end of the kitchen, that area expertly decorated with a different set of wall paint against the dull white of the actual kitchen. It was Shepard's Pie, Gallagher's favorite meal.
His wife smiled as Gallagher bent down and kissed her on the cheek.
She was beautiful today, wearing her long sleeve shirt that complimented her blue jeans. She wore socks as well, but they were snug under a pair of sandals. Her body rested against the tight metal of the wheelchair, but they revealed a still taunt body that used to be very much active. A cast was around her right leg, keeping it safe under its tight, protective surface.
"Had a nice day?" She said, her short blonde hair coming to her chin in a very appealing way.
"Sort of. Had to deal with another job coming up, but I shouldn't have any direct contact with it. I saw Jeremy's truck outside."
"Yeah, didn't want to go to Grad-Blast or whatever it was." She said, rolling her wheelchair over to the open space between two chairs across from Robert.
A young woman, at least of fifteen years of age, walked down the stairs visible from the kitchen table by the living room. She made a bee-line to the table, and sat down next to her father.
"How was your day?" Gallagher signed to his daughter.
"Oh, it was great! Victoria took me to a restaurant with Kevin and we had a great time! But then he got a call back to the school for that damn play of his." She signed back, smiling, taking a plate from the table and sticking a giant wad of hamburger meat, corn, and mashed potatoes onto her plate. Her body-type was naturally thin, her face was cute-looking, and the only real 'problem' was that she could not hear.
"Hey, Rob, you get anything else on the way home?"
"Nah, couldn't. Sergeant Horvath wouldn't allow any deviations from the set plan. You know Tyler, still messed up from that incident three years back." Gallagher and Melissa had told each other when Alison had lost her hearing when she was two that they would never speak out loud in front of her, if only for respectable reasons. Jeremy, as they signed together, walked in the kitchen. With a shag for hair he was built of muscle and height. Standing a few inches taller of his six foot two inch dad, he sat next to his mother and smiled at his parents.
"Hey Mom, Dad, squirt." He signed, gaining a chuckle from the parents and a playful punch from Alison.
"It was okay."
"I'll be right back, have to take care of something." Alison signed as she stood up and walked away from the table. Gallagher immediately started to speak after she had her back to him.
"The situation is getting worse. It's like another war's sprouting out in the Outer Colonies again." Robert spoke up, taking a rather big bite from his meal.
"And all I get for help is just a simple 'Yeah, go ahead'. Makes me wish I was working back in the field." Gallagher spoke, taking another bite from his meal and quickly consuming it.
Before either his wife or his son could object to his apparent death wish, a loud ring screamed out from Robert's pants, his work phone gaining the attention of Melissa and Jeremy as they stopped eating and stared at Robert, who took out the small cellular device from his pocket and read who was calling. A sigh escaped his lips as he collapsed it into its normal carry position and slipped it back into his pant's pocket.
"I have to go."
Colonel James Ackerson was pissed.
"We lost all fucking contact with them! And yet you still sit on your ass eating fucking dinner?!"
` "It's oh five thirty here, Colonel, and I'm still trying to get a hold of Central Communications for that communication realignment. We don't handle that anymore, especially after your last directive."
"Goddamit it, Dobbs, you watch your fucking tongue. Get me communications, or else!" Ackerson screamed into the viewer before angrily flicking off the power to the viewer between him and Colonel Henry Dobbs. Ackerson turned his attention to his office-to-receptionist intercom, pressing his index finger down on the green activation button with such force that it almost broke.
"Katherine, is Colonel Gallagher here?"
"He just walked in, I'll send him in."
James stood up and hustled himself to the side of the desk, shoving a full folder-disk into the disk-shredder as Robert Gallagher entered into the office. Ackerson turned his head sharply at the Special Operations Colonel with an almost inhuman speed, snapping it sickly.
"We've lost all contact with Hades Secundus , and I mean all fucking contact! My only fucking link to that planet is a Naval Captain and a disgraced fucking ONI Colonel! You need to assemble your damn team, get some damn UNSC primary involvement in there too, and save that damn system!" James yelled at him with his voice almost at fever pitch, and it scared Gallagher. He was in a frenzy, walking and pacing across his office and staring at the floor until the end of his sentence, where he closed the distance between him and the experienced soldier in an instance.
"Colonel, calm down. You're scar-"
"I'm what?! Robert, we're about to lose everything in that damn system, and I got the President of the fucking UN breathing down on our collective necks! And you're here, listening to me tell you to get that damn system and you have the fucking nerve to tell me I'm scaring someone!?"
"Excuse me, Colonel Ackerson? Admiral Hood is on the main hardline holoviewer. He wants to speak to both you and Colonel Gallagher."
Ackerson pulled himself away from Gallagher and rushed to his main, briefing viewer, flicking the knob to the 'LINE 2' connection. Hood's face, adorned with his white combination cover, came into full view of both the ONI officers.
"Colonel Ackerson, Colonel Gallagher. Am I interrupting anything?"
Both of the officers responded with a 'no, sir', standing at a relaxed parade rest in front of Hood.
"Good. I secured the UNSC Orpheus and the Latinas for the Hades system operation. Colonel Gallagher, is your team assembled?"
"Not officially, no, sir. I can have them ready in two hours, plus thirty minutes for the other support team."
"Then you have two hours and thirty minutes to get your team onto the ships. Colonel Dobbs will have direct communications with you and me based on his location, and Colonel Ackerson here will have overseeing commanding. You lead the ground operation, Gallagher. Any problems?"
"No, sir!" Both of them exclaimed, snapping to attention with a slam of their feet hitting the tiled floor of Ackerson's office. Hood nodded, before the link on Hood's side cut, ending communication from the UNSC Terra to ONI Central Command Headquarters. Colonel Gallagher then turned his eyes towards the higher-ranked ONI officer, opening his mouth to speak first.
"Get the fuck out of my office, Gallagher."
Commander Henderson sat in a tight circle with the other three Spectre operatives, each member of the Spectre strike group sitting cross-legged in a cross pattern. To the aged commando's right was Major Mrugistaski, his tight face looking down at his disassembled weapon and his hands working slowly to re-piece it together. The former BR55's trigger was now being refitted into the weapon, and the black matted color of the gun was stained by darker patches of grease and other liquid discharges from the cleaners in the middle of the group.
To his left was Sergeant Brezchiza-Weiss, a M90 shotgun folded out and disassembled before her. She appeared very focused in her work, her azure eyes piercing the covers of the casings as she examined each shell of the shotgun, checking if it was up to specs for her. As she placed the round down on the ground in front of her after inspection she would grease up parts of her weapon in order to make sure they were ready for the upcoming fight.
But Lieutenant Davis, sitting across from him, merely stared at the Commander with an odd look in his eyes.
Luke could see how easily the operative's eyes could stare at him, a mix of blue and green curiosity that could unnerve even the most hardened soldiers in the UNSC. His weapon was already cleaned, everything was inspected, and now he sat there with nothing else important to do. His hands rested on his kneecaps, his neck perched forward and his back arching with it. Luke was getting worried more by the minute, he had no idea why the operative decided it was important for him to stare at him like he was.
"You got a problem, Cormorant?"
"Maybe I do. If that's the case, whatcha goin' to do about it?" He talked back, leaning a bit more forward to prick his point even more with his tone, keeping Wolf back on his ass where he was. 'Samurai' laughed.
"Hush it, Cormorant. He's not new, been through a lot more shit than you have." Mrugistaski's voice washed over the two, oblivious to why the two were fighting each other, or if they even knew each other.
The Italian operative then turned his gaze back to Wolf.
"If you got a problem, spill it out." Luke countered, his tone low and predatory, as if it was a threat to gamble on his past experiences. The thirty-ish operative leaned forward in the four-person circle, his hands gripping tight on his kneecaps. Already Wolf was beginning to feel the hunt was creeping on, as if he needed to watch his back on this operative.
"Neezchiv! Natsa noga bruckiev!" Petya hushed them, with her gentle yet piercing voice as it carried across the room easily. The rest of the soldiers in the Hanger stopped what they were doing to look at the secretive ONI special forces, their quarrel raising the attention of everyone around.
Even Sergeants Stacker and Reynolds.
"Look at them. Always a bout of drama when you deal with a Spectre." Reynolds' soft voice spoke between him and Stacker in their corner of the Hanger, waiting for the mission to begin. They were both standing together with ODST Battle Armor adorned on their bodies, each member of the ODST platoon already having their weapons ready and prepped for the next two hours before the mission would commence. Each soldier stood behind the two Sergeants, save their absent Lieutenant who was with the Captain, and stared at the spectacle a series of yards before them.
"Don't worry about it, I know Henderson. I know Gallagher too. I was there when he was battle-promoted, and I know he doesn't choose men who try to start shit with
" Stacker's voice was rough, coarse, but it was smooth and had a pleasurable twang to it that catch both the attention of go-getters and down-trotters. However, even the veteran could let his voice crack as situations develop, and one was beginning.
The smaller Spectre, however more sprung than his commanding officer, was on top of the older and more experienced Wolf, their arms locked in a death grip in a match where no one wanted to give in. Stacker was already running, with Reynolds holding the rest of the ODST squad back from letting loose and attempt to break up the fight, knowing Stacker and the other two Spectres was enough to stop the fight from breaking out more.
The entire Hanger Bay came to a still as the older Spectre pulled the younger and lighter man down, attempting to bring his knee into Davis' groin. However, Anthony knew this maneuver well enough to anticipate it when Wolf had pulled him down, and twisted his hips so the side of his pelvis took the hard blow. His elbow slipped down from the grip that Luke had on him and forced itself down onto Wolf's stomach, a surprised look on his face.
Petya's strong hands grabbed Luke's left arm, while Sergeant Stacker grabbed the other one, and together they both pulled the respected field operative away from the scuffle, while Mrugistaski managed to subdue Davis by sheer strength. He was snarling, like an animal, anger and hatred taking control of the normally cool and calm soldier.
"Calm down, Lieutenant!" Stacker shouted back at the officer, letting Wolf regain air back into his lungs, his voice drawn and pursed. Both of them were warriors, but something was definitely wrong with the other Spectre trooper.
"I won't! He let my friend die on Cerberus! The same planet we're heading to right now! He let him die!" He pointed at the older soldier, his ice red hot with revenge and his fingers pursed with death.
"What the hell is he talking about, Commander Henderson?"
"I left one of our comrades behind. It was either him or the entire strike force, Davis!"
"You never leave a man behind, Commander! That's part of the creed! That's a damn line in the UNSC Code of Honor! You were there when the Colonel gave us the speech!"
"Don't you dare speak to me about that, Davis! Don't you ever, ever sp---"
They slipped apart from the grips of their companions and continued their assault.
Colonel Ackerson stared at the data streaming down the screen, his eyes red from lack of sleep.
After his breakdown he was much more calm and collective, not screaming and minding his manners around those who were ranked higher than him. He had regained what measure of control was left in his body. He was sitting right in front of a dual-purpose holodisplay picture, with one side showing the face of Colonel Henry Dobbs and his control center in the background, and the other showing important data.
"So you haven't received anymore intelligence on BELLIARUS?"
"None whatsoever. Just seems to drop off the radar. Section 0's keeping a tight hold on this. I tried sending communication to General Lambert, but I've received nothing."
He doesn't know
"I'm been trying to get a hold of him myself. Look, send me all related files on all currently listed Section 0 operations."
"Including the archived notes?"
"Including the archived notes."
"My team will begin sending you the data."
Ackerson nodded, turning his face to an overview of the system, the three planet star system's orbit inclinations and TACCOM readout showing brightly against the high resolution of planets and stars.
"Has the Orpheus and the Latinas arrived in system, yet?"
"Just now, sir. The Orpheus has begun primary operations, but we have no idea where the enemy ships are."
"Alright. Make sure Captain Vaiter informs me if they do decide to bring a fight. She has to inform me first. Out." Ackerson cut communications with Dobbs before he turned his attention towards the rest of the information.
The buzzer to his secretary rang.
"Sir, General Lambert is on line one."
"Thank you." He spoke quietly, switching off the intercom and moving his chair over to his far right, his televiewer activating.
He saw the face of General Lambert snap into focus, his features easily noticeable, enough for Ackerson to leave a mental file on his facial features in the instant the picture fed into focus.
Pronounced facial bone structure. Protruding chin, minimally notched, frontal bone slightly protruding, strong jaw, pronounced nose, tip rounded, sides appropriate. Lips
thin to average. Teeth wide, even incisors, flat, square, straight, closely together. Ears
average size, auricles thin towards upper side, short lobes. Diagonal scar across left forehead from left hairline diagonally down and inwards to middle of left eyebrow. Clean shaven. Fair skin
Yup, this is him, alright.
"Colonel Ackerson. I trust you would keep your well-tarnished nose out of my business?""
"General, however you may think that my work here is personal, you're treading on a thin line here. Do I have to remind you that I am the ONI Chairman?"
The face on the holoviewer laughed, a deep and guttural laugh that Ackerson attributed to the Brutes who held him hostage over Mars, the General's eyes a bright blue, a very bright blue, something that made Ackerson wary.
But he never backed down from a challenge.
"I'd take you for an aggressive man, Colonel James Ackerson, but not for a fool." General Augustus Lambert replied back, looking to his left a brief moment to grab a holopad, playing a video. It was of James' ex-wife and child, playing in a park near Berlin, Zone 3. The pad's attention then drew to a officer with a military-grade M99 Sniper Rifle, held in a case but still noticeable, in a hotel building a block away, but with a clear view of the park. He only noticed the figure in the dark, the camera filming him in Berlin illuminating him against the darkness. Ackerson flinched.
Was this asshole threatening me?!
"I trust you'll order Gallagher's men away from Cerberus. Lambert out."
Ackerson stared at the holoviewer as it blanked out, replaced with a faux blackness.
"How dare he!" Ackerson breathed in heavy, exhaling out like a lion, his lungs tight and his forehead redding with hatred.
"Katherine, get me Lord Hood. Now."
"Yes, sir." The cool voice of his latest secretary glided over the intercom, cooling and professional compared to Ackerson's tense and aggressive voice pushing through. A few seconds later, Admiral Terrance Hood's face appeared on the holoviewer, haggered and tired, his eyes drooping. Ackerson must have awoken him from his slumber, but he didn't care.
"What is it, Colonel?"
"Sir, I have reason to believe that General Augustus Lambert, Commanding Officer of all Section Zero activities, has committed treason. I wish to carry out an investigation."'
You have evidence?"
"Verbal, sir. He spoke to me."
"Very well. Carry it out. But, next time
"It had to do with Cerberus, sir. I did not trust anyone else."
A silence calmed over the both of them, but Hood's drooping eyes suddenly snapped open.
"What did he say to you?"
"He threatened my wi
ex-wife and my child if I continued operations in Cerberus."
Alright. I can't say that your information made the tension any less easy, but at least we're sure this isn't an Insurrectionist ploy. Get a team, search General Lambert's house
I never would have thought of him for instigating rebellion."
"You've seen how he treats people like us. He loves the soldiers, hates us officers. He always wanted it all." Ackerson spoke to Hood as if he was a fellow comrade, when both of them knew that wasn't the case. Hood did things by the book, Ackerson was all on the fly and always hard to read. Both of them represented the best of the UNSC, the light and the dark, the good and the evil.
"Colonel Gallagher's team has made it in system, correct?"
"Good. I need to get to sleep, but thank you for contacting me. Hood out."
Ackerson stared at the holo-viewer before he turned his head back towards the open window, displaying the CENTCOM command building near the Capitol Building, off into the distance. He smiled as he leaned back into his chair, knowing that he had this in his pocket.
Nobody beats me at my game. Nobody.
Project PEGASUS: Intermission
Date: 15 July 2008, 10:55 pm
The UNSC Orpheus was a ship, but to the men onboard the combat bridge she was a titan. Captain Rachael Vaiter watched the crew work hard at their stations, their eyes glued to the screen and their hands rushing over the console. The middle aged woman smiled as she watched the crew, her crew, work as hard as they did, trying to achieve a form of excellence that was almost non-existent in the world of Naval Crew Operations. Her blonde hair was cut simple, and her eyes stared at the view of the desert world of Cerberus.
She saw the full, dead glory of the planet, how the desert world seem to stand still, marked by small pockets of silver and white, representing the cities dotted across it, most science housing and some residential areas, The planet was noted by either the desert color, one of gold and yellow and orange and death, and the other of black, darkest night and haunting depths. The planet seemed to be one big poem, etched across the stars with its own memory, a statue in a tomb, a tombstone in a lonely graveyard.
She shook her head.
“Ensign, is the operation ready to commence?”
“Aye, ‘mam. Commander Henderson’s team is ready to go, and the Orbital Drop Pods are ready to go.”
“Good. Launch them in two minutes. How’s our stealth running?”
“I’m not detecting anything on the scanners, Captain. Either we’re the only ones out here, or they’re hiding, very well.”
She nodded at the Ensign’s assessment, looking towards her own viewing pad.
“Have the Latinas deploy her soldiers into the major city, then follow up with the Marine Divisions we have on hand.”
“Aye, Captain. Sending orders to the Marines now. COMSCAN, anything?”
“Negative. Tally ho on gas in the darkness, ‘mam.”
“Keep looking. They’re out here.”
“’Mam, ODST and Spectre troops have disembarked. Pods moving in.”
Thirty six Orbital Drop Pods moved in a seemingly unorganized formation, heat and friction ripping down the undersurface of the pod, breaking through the atmosphere. Within the rearguard pod, Sergeant William Reynolds was praying to not only God but to any sort of major deities that came to his mind as he felt his pod rip through the upper mesosphere. The replacement for a man with no backbone, the battle-hardened veteran had a lot to offer to his unit, but in-the-pod courage was definitely not one of them. His brown hair was cut loosely, but like the rest of his soldiers held it under a helmet and visor-mask, hiding his tears of pure terror.
The only hope he had was that, if he survived, he wouldn’t be arrived anymore.
He felt his metallic drag-chute activated, meaning he had cleared most of the dangerous stuff that could go wrong in the landing. Now, holding for dear life, he swallowed, shoving that fear down in his gullet, his head and neck shake but his eyes no longer draining himself of that sadness, that undying fear. He really was a soldier, in that one moment. The ones who take all that they can fear, hate, and flush it into his heart and hold it tight. Rojas, a white male who never really saw combat up until now, was a leader.
And he could not show fear.
The gyro rockets activated, slowing down the craft even more as it screamed into the sky. His HUD was now activated, showing him the battle below on a small square map. The Sergeant watched the data stream, showing him that pods had already landed and men were distributing men into their assignments.
And then, he hit planetside.
He had braced himself like what Stacker had told him, but he still was not prepared for the shock of the landing. He bounced up, his helmet head colliding with the back of the pod itself. He yelled out in pain, his eyes hidden but wide and open, and the pain easily shown by the tears running through his eyes. His hands curled as he fell out of the pod, trying his best not to get shot.
All around him was fire. Dark skies were illuminated by amber waves of explosions and the red tint of dust coming from rubble. Not only was the look of death prevalent in his mind, but so was the dead body in front of him; a man holding an old rifle, his mouth and expression wide and in shock. One bullet wound was in his forehead, and it nearly caused Sergeant Reynolds to throw up in his armor.
He thanked God that he could not smell him.
“Bravo Company, sweep the field! Once we clear this field, we’ll get tank support! Where the hell is Delta Company?”
That had to be the voice of the short bird Colonel Hastings over his over-ride comm. Reynolds smacked his head as the pain slowly began to subside, his teeth biting down on a small, blue bead in his helmet.
“…I see Reynolds, he’s okay.”
“Sergeant Reynolds here. I’m…alright. I guess Bravo needs our help. “
“This is Lieutenant Rojas. Reynolds, take first and second section, move to the police station, and commandeer it. That’s going to be Company CP. I’ll assist.”
Reynolds looked over his shoulder, his HUD display firing up across his armored view-plate. Numerous blue diamonds appeared over the landscape, just outside a desert city made of limestone and some pieces of plank and – A building just exploded, the limestone and other pieces of material flying high into the sky itself, with Reynolds shielding his face.
He shook his head as he ducked down and pressed down on a lower red bead.
“Mahoney, Cross, get your sections and link up by my drop zone. We’re taking the police station.”
The comm. buzzed again on Reynolds’ blue bead.
“Reynolds, after we’ve secured the station, Captain Fox will take Delta Company to the Research Compound, where we think is the main enemy headquarters. SPECTRE Team Zero has landed in the grid. Rojas out.”
Reynolds knew that the shit was about to hit the fan.
OUTSIDE OF WELLINGTON
“Has Ackerson given into our demands?”
“Not yet. I don’t think he even knows where I am. Have you got a clear shot on his wife?”
“Yes, I do. Shall I terminate her?”
A silence took over for a brief moment.
“Yes. It’s time Ackerson knew he’s dealing with someone that can handle himself.”
“Roger, I’m taking the shot.”
In his home outside of Wellington, General Augustus Lambert leaned back in his chair, a smug smile on his face as he folded his hands behind the back of his head. The sun was setting in the background of a calm ocean, and one or two clouds dotted the sky above the gentle and majestic sea. He was wearing a set of civilian clothing, sweat pants and a tee shirt, but on his desk in his study was a fully loaded M6C Standard Pistol.
Lambert’s smile disintegrated.
“I think I see a…”
The line suddenly shifted, as if he dropped the call, and shuffling could be heard. Breaths and grunts could be heard, a clamor of objects smacking to the ground and other noises that occupied Lambert’s ears. He was listening intently now, especially when he thought he heard the ‘pop!-isss” of a silenced weapon.
Suddenly, the line shifted again, as if someone had picked it up.
“Looks like your assassin isn’t going to accomplish his mission.”
The line cut.
Lambert was stunned for a moment; the assassin was one of the best trained, a former Special Forces commando, to say the least! He didn’t know of any other sort of person, or Covenant dog for that matter, to be able to…
Lambert smiled as he realized that only the operatives’ own cadre could of beaten him.
He picked up the call sender and added in a new number, one that belonged to a ‘M. BETRUGER, UNSC CENTCOM’. Selecting the name, he then pressed down on the ‘CALL’ button.
The call was almost answered immediately.
“Betruger her--- General Lambert! How can I help you?”
“The attempt has failed. My man was killed. I think it was SPECTRE.”
“Then what do you want to do?”
“Well, I think it should be best if we go after the man who’s leading this operation.”
Lambert smiled coyly as he looked over at the dossier pad that was on his desk.
“Do you know a Colonel Robert Anthony Gallagher?”
Protect PEGASUS: Supplemental 1
Date: 18 July 2008, 6:12 am
I do not stand alone in times of need
For my brother and sister will defend me
I watch for my brother and sister's back
To make sure that we never fall behind
A Spectre never leaves his comrade behind
Not only does he not contemplate this
But he keeps the thought out of his mind
For he cannot leave a comrade behind
First to step off
Last to step on
We fight with everything we have...
Or we die, trying.
Project: PEGASUS; Revelation
Date: 3 April 2009, 2:46 am
Against the background of the city, Master Gunnery Sergeant Stacker was rubbing his temple as he leant against the side of a destroyed guard station, the insides of the four-walled shack rubbled out and obliterated from an artillery shell. The insides of the walls were blackened by the explosion, and virtually nothing but the flickering, damaged holo-screen of a computer was in there. Around him was his platoon, twenty one badass Shock Troopers who wanted nothing more than to kick some mercenary ass and take their women as their own. The aged trooper, one of the few who survived both Delta Halo and the Ark, was now feeling the eyes of his privates and sergeants on him.
Truth be told, he himself felt the air of invincibility around him.
“Master Guns, what are we doing?”
That came from his Master Sergeant, who was sitting next to his squad in an unorganized position. However, Lieutenant Henry Rojas spoke up first, looking at the giant, white complex in front of the platoon. The massive size of the building was not the majority of the facility: Most of the actual testing sites and other facilities were located underground, deep underneath the white ‘research’ complex.
“We’re waiting for the SPECTRE group to get here, then we’re escorting them inside.”
Top just shook his head and sat back down with his squad, not content to waiting. In the background of the foggy morning, distant gunfire and explosions could be heard, along with the crumbling of buildings and the screams of human, both men and women. Against the silent night stood the voices of men and death, and that was what made Pete Stacker actually fear: Not of his own death or his own short comings, but those haunting dreams, the menstruations of evil, the commonality of human nature itself.
Death and Stacker dance often, but they certainly don’t dance the frequent samba.
He heard the rumbling of an engine, that hard boiled sound of grinding and cranking of a Warthog. He turned his head, and in the background of darkness stood two beams of light, powerful but benign in their brightness. The vehicle’s outline came more into focus, the seemingly sleek but rough edges appeared out, and Stacker was confused at the last thought in his head. How can something both have that feature? A rough outline, but a sleek surface, it was indeed something of an enigma in its design. The lights burned out, deactivated by the driver himself, and the black-armored figure of the driver then jumped out of the seat, walking towards Lieutenant Rojas. The engine still ran.
“Lieutenant Rojas? Commander Harrison. I’m the SPECTRE Second Team Leader. Are you the supporting ODST platoon?”
“Yes, Commander. Once Alpha Company gets here, we’ll move out. But I’d rather wait until Echo Company’s tanks get here.”
“They got armored support?”
“Yes, sir, they got support. Mostly armored personnel carriers or IFVs, but I’d wait for our tanks to take care of them.”
The cool-blooded SPECTRE operative merely seemed to take this knowledge in stride, turning her armored head over to the rest of the warthog, making no sound but the other three soldiers immediately jumping out of the vehicle, the Warthog’s engine cutting out as it shut off its hydraulic system. They were, all three of them, of discerning height, but the shortest of the four was no higher than six foot. Each had an assortment of weapons on them, but their ‘normal’ weapons, the ones in their hands at the present, were seemingly standard issue.
Suddenly, the radio on Private Zaragoza flared to life.
“Fox Two Alpha, this is Nightbringer, over.”
Captain Fox, who had remained quiet and working with Zaragoza on relaying orders to other platoons, grabbed the receiver.
“Nightbringer, this is Fox Two Alpha. Read you, over.”
“Fox Two Alpha, I got Hitman clearance you requested an hour ago. Still have those laser designators, over?”
“Roger, Nightbringer, I have laser. How many flybys?”
“Many as needed. All Longsword flights are in coordinates three, seven, six, alpha…break.”
Captain Fox was typing down the coordinates on his wrist computer.
“…foxtrot. 12 bombers ready to roll. Seems you got Red clearance, over.”
The Captain turned to Rojas with a confused look, apparently this was the first time he ever had that type of clearance.
“Uh, roger that Nightbringer. Fox Two Alpha out.”
The line cut, to which Captain Fox turned to Rojas.
“Lieutenant, get a designator on that motor pool.”
OPR1: This is Lieutenant Edelweiss, report.
SPEC1: Wolf, here. We’re waiting for air strike.”
SPEC2: Stryker, here. We’ve secured the river base, and our escape vehicles are ready. Recap mission objectives, sir.”
OPR1: Capture any intel you can, liberate the complex, and kill any mercenary…
SPEC1: Sir, about that…
OPR1: What, Wolf?
SPEC1: Even for mercenaries, these guys seem way too organized. They’re fighting the ODSTs tooth to tooth, kinda like Army or Marine regulars.
OPR1: Understood. I’ve already sent inquires about the mercs, but I’ve got no reply. Seems TOUCHDOWN won’t answer my calls.
SPEC2: Where’s the Colonel?
OPR1: Again, TOUCHDOWN won’t answer my calls.
SPEC1: You think Colonel Ackerson cut us off again?
OPR1: No, this is different…This is very different.
SPEC1: Update: I hear Longswords. About to begin operation.
OPR1: Roger that.
The explosion ripped through the Motor Pool, causing one Warthog to burst into flames, high in the air before smashing into the already collapsing ceiling. A nearby Scorpion tank with the mercenary colors turned its turret onto the Gauss-carrying Warthog, a huge HE round smacked into the side of the vehicle, causing it to flip into the air as it rippled through with a series of explosions.
“Move, move, move!” The voice of Captain Bannon roared through the comms on all of Alpha Company, the commanding officer of the armored company rolling through an attempted blockade made by two Warthogs. The tank’s treads plowed into the vehicles, flipping them away from his tank as the Captain pressed forward. His tank’s turret swerved and fired, the AP round aimed straight for the mercenary tank that was coming closer. The round penetrated the cockpit of the Scorpion, causing the pilot and the gunner to become jelly, blood exploding outwards from the tank.
“Sir, APC, northwest, AT.” The voice of his driver, Lieutenant
“Roger! Northwest, AT, confirmed! Locked on!”
The shell shot through the barrel at a frightening speed, smacking into the side of the Gauss Cannon APC that was rolling towards them. The AP round burst into the troop bay and exploded, killing most of the mercenary occupants inside the troop bay, the APC now a rolling husk.
“Anti-tank APC destroyed. Target dope!”
“Hold on…Only Warthogs. They’re retreating to the River Base.”
“Ooh rah! Ground-pounders moving in?”
“Yes, sir. But only on this side.”
Captain Bannon turned the turret forward, facing the bow of the tank.
“Why only this side?” Why not strike through both?”
“We don’t have enough men to hold off the reinforcements.”
“They took out the Latinas.”
The Resurgence was the first ship of its kind.
Modeled on the hull of a Marathon-class Cruiser, the Resurgence was made for only two purposes.
War, being the most obvious, but its other primary function was electronic and high-to-low wave frequency warfare.
The cruiser had numerous, smooth bubbles across its surface, littered with anti-fighter weapons and missile pods all upon the hull of the ship. The MAC cannon on the bow of the ship was high-powered, with nuclear warhead rounds and other such weapons that were banned by the UNSC almost two hundred years prior. The pods that held the ECM would glow blue when activated, the radiation was causing it to pulsate. It was a one-of-a-kind ship, and with a single-minded political crew, it was unstoppable.
The Captain of the Resurgence was Lambert’s aide de camp, a man by the name of William ‘Majestic’ Portnier. With the UNSC rank of Captain, he commanded his vessel with a quiet, but stern, outlook. Sitting on the bridge of the vessel, he gazed at the destruction that his ship had just caused.
A body smacked into the reinforced glass viewport in front of him, catching him off guard. For a second, before the body flew off of his vessel into space, he recognized the only the name and rank of the person, for his face was distorted and destroyed. It was Captain August, and he was dead.
A smile came across the Resurgence’s Captain, a face that held so much honor and courage within its vestige, a quality that Captain August found so fearing; how could someone who’s killing people in the name of rebellion after interstellar war be so close to the Core Values?
It scared some people.
The other ships escorting the Resurgence were not nearby, instead searching the system for any sign of the Orpheus.
“Sir, incoming message from General Lambert!”
The comm. officer got the Captain’s attention. He turned his face towards the Lieutenant, his cold green eyes catching the Lieutenant off-guard. His face was clean-shaven, but gaunt; pale skin was a common feature for him in the rigors of space combat. His eyes reflected a glow that could stop men dead in the tracks.
“Captain Portnier. How easy was it?”
Lambert didn’t need to elaborate.
“Hard, sir. Be that as they allowed countless atrocities by their own hand, I still cannot kill a human easily.”
“Let’s hope this stops here. Is the army still hold up on Cerberus?”
“Yes, sir. Our newfound ally has them still bottled up on the planet.”
“Good. It’s amazing to threat someone’s wife and then to simply convince them that you’re right…They fold too easily. I can’t believe we got a high-ranking ONI specialist on our side…the Colonel will make a fine addition to the Order…more so than the hired guns. Those mercenaries were not from our mold, be there abilities frighteningly…strong. And Doctor Aximus?”
“He’s there as well. Too bad the recording was fake; he is proving to be more than a little bit of trouble.”
“If they see him alive, then they will suspect foul play…I do not doubt the UNSC will kill them. I expect you here soon, Captain. We are about to launch the endgame.”
OPR1: This is Den Mother. Wolf, report.
SPEC1: This is Wolf, we’re inside. We’re passing through Biogenetics and deeper into the Science Wing. How’s Stryker?
OPR1: She’s under fire right now at the river base, but your extraction is still green. Getting off planet is another problem.
SPEC1: Why, what’s the matter?
OPR1: The Latinas was destroyed. The Insurrectionist Fleet had a Marathon, some sort of ECM ship with added firepower, easily dispatched her. The Orpheus is on the run, playing cloak and dagger games with them.
SPEC1: What’s going on? There’s no way this is a planet rebelling…What’s happening on Earth?
OPR1: ONI hasn’t been answering my calls. I’m working with Colonel Dobbs…He’s on Hades Secundus, still working hard on getting a connection, but we’re being blocked…
SPEC1: You thinkin’ Ackerson?
OPR1: It has to be…In the meantime, secure Doctor Aximus’ office…Wolf, I got a bad feeling about this mission. Have you seen Hans or Doctor Aximus at all? Not to mention these so-called clone troopers?
SPEC1: No…And Hideaki didn’t see anything like that on the secure systems either. It’s like they don’t exist, sir. That scares me. Lieutenant Eldeweiss…what do you think?
OPR1:…I don’t like this…Just secure the room, grab intel, and then get out of there.
SPEC1: Yes sir. Wolf out.
Doctor Nathaniel Aximus was the key.
He realized when Lambert requested his help that he had ultimate power in the course of this conflict. Working tirelessly, he had finished what he had to build, and now they were keeping him alive in his office, feeding and drinking him. He was forty-five, with a bald head and black skin, a trait still not common after five hundred years of inter-racial aspects being driven into the scientific community.
At least, in astro-communication.
He was sitting at his desk writing down memos to the rest of his staff about the objective that they need to fill. His hands softly worked over a stylus and pad, writing down the information carefully and slowly, having no need to rush to get the information out to his team. He had no doubt the UNSC found it fishy that a Doctor had direct access to the failed CYGNUS program forty years ago; he himself found the actual program to be funny, but the backdrop that a bunch of cloned soldiers rebelling with a SPECTRE team leader was too much to resist.
And they fell for the trap.
He turned his head over to the picture of him and his father at his graduation from the University of Luna, and he smiled, before he continued to write.
As he thought more about General Augustus Lambert and how he had duped the UNSC, he himself began to think it was a mistake.
He was not a political science major, but he did understand the effects of what was happening. Any sort of alien race could take this opportunity and attack them, but he knew how the UN worked in the first place. How could someone even think about killing another human over politics?
He thought the whole matter to be silly on Lambert’s part, to be truthful.
He stopped writing; the realization that he needed to urinate was almost too much to handle, and he knew he needed to act fast.
He stood up and walked around his desk to the front of his office, opening the door.
In front of the door were three dead mercenaries, very bloody, their black uniforms stained by red. Standing directly in front of the door was a man in heavy armor, but it appeared slim around his waist, his helmet reminding the Doctor of pilot helmets. It was black, with UNSC armor identification symbols on the left pauldron, with the legs being slim as well. It looked skin tight, but it looked powerful, judging by how much scarring there was.
“Get the fuck inside!” The armored soldier said through a female tone, and a heavy accent. Nathaniel did not waste time, running right back in. He feared it was the UNSC, but he was downright horrified at the thought that this could be SPECTRE.
Three other soldiers followed her inside.
The tallest one spoke first to the Doctor.
“I’m Lieutenant Commander Henderson, of the UNSC. Who are you?”
He breathed in, thinking for a second. One of them didn’t have a weapon in his hand, only a knife, and it was bloody…If they found out he lied, he didn’t want to deal with the menacing looking SPECTRE. Already, one of them ran to his computer and started to work as he attached a wire to his wrist-computer, with the female checking the room for something. That left this Commander Henderson and the other SPECTRE with the knife…Great.
“I’m Doctor Nathaniel Aximus, PhD in Astro-Communication and electronic intermission phase technology.”
“Bullshit.” The SPECTRE at the computer said, looking up from the data.
“You’re the Doctor who reported the distress call. Where’s Hans?”
Oh, they want him. Thank god.
“He’s on the Resurgence with Captain Portnier. They’ve captured a few ODST troopers as reassurance. You know, Ark Mission Heroes. They’re going to Earth and forcefully remove the Chairman of the UN and replace it with a military oligarchy.”
Wolf and the other SPECTRE looked at each like they found out who killed Cock Robin.
“Lanner, Samurai; Cormorant and I will head for Communications, see if we can warn Earth and Gallagher. You too, head to the river exit. We’ll meet you there.”
Wolf turned to look at the Doctor, closing the distance between him and the man.
“If you’re lying, I’ll send you to Section Three. You do know they don’t fall under the Articles of Interrogation, right?”
Doctor Aximus immediately regretted having ever sided with Lambert.
A Warthog exploded.
Commander Harrison, given command of the SPECTRE Ground Teams and the rank that had to follow with that, cursed as she ducked, with her fellow operatives around her. They had their backs to the river, their evacuation boat already sunk by the anti-vehicle rockets that the mercenaries had. A tipped-over forklift was providing cover for not her, but for the senior enlisted man for the Orbital Drop and Shock Trooper detachment covering them; Master Gunnery Sergeant Pete Stacker.
“We’re under heavy fire, Commander! My men are low on gun juice!” He said over the mercenary fire, letting loose with his MA5C ICWS over the forklift’s side, his blind fire not scoring any sort of kill. Next to the forklift was a pile of heavy, titanium shipping containers; the rest of the surviving ODST detachment and the three other SPECTRE team members that comprised the Recon Team. The sun was gone, replaced by black skies and two moons obscured by the cloud-cover.
“zzt! This is Reynolds. I’m bringing in cavalry.”
“Friend of yours?” Stryker asked, her Scottish accent almost ear-catching over the gunfire. Stacker stuck his shoulder into the forklift.
“He’s got a Warthog Double Tee squad with some more of my boys. Damn…I wish I had Farrior here.” He said to himself as he watched an ODST struck with a shoulder wound wallow against the container, looking around for a medic.
Across the fifty foot stretch of no man’s land, and in front of the docking facility, there was a slight road that led up to the base camp. In the distance, Stacker began to see the small convoy of Troop Transports. They were a mixed unit, with many black armored ODSTs as there were Marines, but the Warthogs continued their journey, covered by hills.
But that’s when it went to Hell.
Rebecca tore her head up from cover to catch a glimpse at the enemy line; with the backdrop of the square military-eqse guardhouse, and against the covered filled areas where the mercenaries waited, there was a man in black armor not like the ODSTs. Darker, and full encompassing, it rivaled the aura that was the SPARTAN armor as well.
It was a SPECTRE.
“William.” She whispered.
“SPECTRE! Eagle, Raven, all of you, get down!” Harrison screamed into her communicator, trying her best to sound-out over the fire. The two SPECTRE agents who were named immediately jumped down onto the ground, going quickly into the prone position. However, one of the SPECTREs did not hear her, or maybe didn’t register her words. Either way, it didn’t matter.
Lieutenant William Holtz, the leader of SPECTRE Team Four, fired a round from his M99.
The SPECTREs head exploded. Bloody parts flew around all over the ODST troops, covering them in blood as the SPECTRE’s body slumped to the ground.
“God damn you, William!” She screamed, causing him to look towards the forklift with his M99, lowering it for a second.
The firing stopped as he raised his hand, making his sign to stop firing, staring out across the fifty foot no man’s land.
“You just killed Bear! You fucking trained him in GHOSTTOWN!” She screamed, making mention of the Special Operations group basic training, raising her head over the forklift, followed by her body. The ODSTs and the two other SPECTREs stopped their assault as well, watching the dialogue between the two.
“It was necessary, Rebecca.” His voice was downright quiet, speaking over the comm. system rather than yelling, like Stryker was.
“Why are you betraying the thing we fought for, for so long?! Why are you killing your own brothers and sisters, William!?”
“It’s hard, Rebecca. But justified. Ask Lord Hood about the combat on Negramore, or the fighting around Arsana. General Lambert showed me what was going on, and then I showed Hans. We’re firm believers in the Insurrectionists, now that we realized what we’ve been fighting for is wrong…Wholly wrong. I’m not fighting for a government that takes kids and turns them into…monsters.”
Rebecca growled as the stalemate continued.
“I’m not betraying my honor, Stryker. I’m done fighting for corruption. I stayed in there for the War, but now, it needs to stop.”
“William…The UNSC is my honor. It’s OUR honor. And you dare to tell me that you’re justifying murdering your own brothers and sisters for honor?! You’re not a SPECTRE…you’re a monster.”
Stacker held up his index finger, signaling one minute.
“I’m not fighting you, Stryker. Bear was a loss. But a necessary one.”
He turned, and ran out of the area, the mercenaries resuming fire.
“Dammit, he’s getting away! Master Guns, can you give me an escort to take him out?” She screamed over the resuming fire, the SPECTRE agents behind the shipping container prepping a make-shift weapon. Stacker gave her a hard glare through his visor, his face hidden but the stare and stillness of his head gave that impression. He was sent to capture and hold the extraction point, but now this seemed to contradict the orders from Hood himself. But still, this had to take precedence. The elimination of the leadership was important.
And offing one SPECTRE agent in supped-up power armor would help.
“I’ll come with you. But we wait until Reynolds’ reinforcements are here.” He spoke, his voice carrying over, firing off potshots with his BR55. Rebecca shoved her shoulder into the forklift and began to push, making more room for herself.
The Warthogs plowed through the barbed-wire entrance to the small compound, assault rifle fire raining from the troop compartments onto the mercenary positions. Timed fire began to lace through their cover, and rockets blasted from some of the Marines and ODSTs. Mercenaries screamed as they were ripped to shreds or thrown into the sky. They panicked. They fell into disarray.
“Move!” Rebecca screamed.
Stacker wished he had stayed home.
Ackerson couldn’t believe what he was doing.
He was going against every single principle in the name of the UNSC to do what he felt was right.
This needed to happen.
He continued to whisper that, to justify himself, as he walked the busy hallways of NavSpecWar in ONI headquarters. He wasn’t dressed in his normal dress greens, but the onimus look of his camoflauge BDUs, the digital MARPAT noticeably standing out in the hallway, not to mention the M6D Standard Pistol on his hostler, a deadly look in his eyes as he walked towards Colonel Gallagher’s office, ignoring the rest of the eyes staring at him.
This was for the good of humanity.
He stopped at the entrance, knocking on the door three times, the force hard and tough.
“This is Colonel Ackerson. Open up!”
“Colonel Gallagher, you have two seconds to open your door.”
“Dammit.” Ackerson yelled as he turned his head to look down the beige hallway, people shuffling out of it. His eyes locked with a security guard, and with a little wave of his hand the security guard sprinted over, across the hallway, to Ackerson.
“Sergeant…Wayland. I need you to open this door.”
“Need a reason, Colonel.”
The Sergeant immediately pulled out his ID card and swiped it against the door lock. The doors opened at their regular pace, giving off the hint that they were not tampered with. Ackerson let the other man follow him into the office, his sidearm at his side, with the guard’s securely locked into his holster. There was no secretary, nor was their any hint that Gallagher had been in that day.
“Colonel, you said treason?”
“I’ll put out an order. You stay here and guard this fucking door. Understood?”
Ackerson walked with a quickness in his step out of the office towards his own, his mind on a one-way track to it. He holstered his sidearm and continued to walk, even with all of the looks he was gathering from the people in the hallway. He didn’t care anymore. He had to do what he thought was right, and this was the only way.
He walked into the room before his office, his secretary looking up at him.
It was Miranda today.
“Sir, you have two calls and a man was looking for you.”
“I’m busy, Miranda, but thank you. Delete the calls unless they’re from Admiral Hood. I’m not available, otherwise.”
And then Ackerson shut himself out from the rest of the Pentagon, trying to secure a channel to his now-close ally...
William was backed up against the wall, the two commandos in front of him, blocking him into a corner. The SPECTRE, in the same armor as Rebecca, was hunched over, his hands curled, ready to strike at either the ODST or his friend, his eyes hidden but possessing a hungry quality. He could see the details of Rebecca’s battle rifle, the intricate notches on the ODST’s rifle butt.
He could see…and quickly.
“This is it, William. The penalty for treason is death.”
“You cold-blooded whore…” He whispered, his hand reaching up for his helmet, attempting to push on his forehead, wincing behind his visor. He clenched his teeth as he felt a ball of pain rush into his head, falling to his knees. He was screaming, pulling his helmet off, revealing his unnatural pale skin. His screams were blood curdling, his eyes staring, closing tightly with a sudden movement, blood dripping out of his nose. He threw up whatever he had for lunch in front of him.
“William! What’s wrong?!”
He didn’t have much time. He looked up, coughing, speaking softly but slowly.
“Implants…Hans…all of us…”
Rebecca lowered her weapon and took a step forward. The pain disengaged, snapping back to reality. His movements were sudden and sharp, allowing William to growl and stand up, rushing to Harrison in the blink of an eye. Stacker barely moved his barrel when he grabbed ahold of the rifle, attempting to twist it towards Rebecca, but she fought on, and it was a stalemate, the rifle between them facing the ceiling, the rifle finally trained on William, but he held the trigger.
William kicked his left leg up, slamming into her gut, growling, twisting the rifle back her way, squeezing the trigger. A snapshot. She twisted her body in mid-fall, rolling and punching him in the stomach as he attempted to bring it back on her. The strength of her arm, and her natural speed, forced him to let go of the rifle. It fell to the ground, Stacker amazed.
They were moving fast, even for Stacker’s eyes.
William punched her in the chest, forcing her back, taking a step forward. Rebecca rolled backwards, picking up the Battle Rifle, and trying to bar it on William. The fast SPECTRE agent closed the distance in the blink of an eye, his hands on the rifle.
They both grunted, trying to push the barrel towards each other, but Rebecca was slowly gaining ground. William looked at her, still fighting, but the horrible gaze was enough. It was sad.
She pushed it far enough.
He pushed it back.
Stacker had his rifle trained on the group, his hands holding it carefully to stop his shaky hands. He fought with SPECTREs before, but he never noticed how fast they fought. Their reflexes, to Master Guns, was more quick and responsive than John 117’s. He saw how quick their arms moved and locked, trying to get the barrel to point at someone. Rebecca had the upper hand, sliding her leg forward and connecting with his knee on his right leg, bringing him down to one knee, the barrel now pushing into his forehead.
She squeezed the trigger, the bullet flying off away.
They still fought, the look in his eyes screaming. He did not need to speak as he still fought Rebecca for the control of the gun.
“Help me…” He whispered, staring into her eyes. He did not plead just with his mouth, but his eyes did it as well. A cast of purple and blue met on a battlefield, both of them fighting.
“DO IT!” His scream was loud, but sad.
She whispered back.
She squeezed the trigger.
The body in the armor slumped to the floor, blood oozing out of the neck, the head open and the blank expression not unlike the old William. Rebecca was afraid, because this wasn’t anything like William. The veteran UNSC Scout Sniper would never of betrayed the very thing he swore to protect. Stacker released his breath, his eyes trained on Rebecca. He saw some shit in his life as a Marine, but he never saw two humans fight so quick.
“…What did he mean, implants?” He asked, slowly kneeling to the ground, his hands touching something odd looking with the mess of blood and meat that exited the wound in the warrior’s neck. When he touched it, he felt the plastic texture, and how…alien…it felt to touch it.
Rebecca turned her head, holding her rifle now at the right pace, taking her time to speak, holding back the tears of a fallen comrade.
“Maybe that’s why he did this…it wasn’t his choice.”
Master Gunnery Sergeant Stacker took another at the body.
“I don’t know. We need to get back to the river.”
Lambert smiled as he sat down in front of the viewscreen. He had a three-way connection to the Captain and the Colonel, and he had everything ready.
The Captain’s face appeared first, after a few seconds, the grizzly look that appeared to be a trait among Lambert’s clan. Then came the Colonel’s, clean-shaven and appearing normal, his eyes holding that glare of importance. Both of them looked like they were having hard days.
“Captain Portnier. Anything new to report?”
“The Marines and ODSTs wiped out the rest of the resistance forces. I took all of the forces I could from the planet before I left. Captain Vaiter is giving me a hell of a lot of trouble. We’re between Alpha Centauri and Earth right now. We’ll be back at Earth in about a few days times, four max.”
“The rat got away again. He wasn’t in his office today. Otherwise, I managed to force an order onto Vaiter to keep her ship and the rest of the soldiers on Cerberus in that system. Pulled a lot of strings for that one, General.”
“And I do not regret that, Colonel.”
“I have to tend to my ship, General. Until I see you on Earth. Captain William Austin Portnier out.”
The Captain disappeared, allowing the Colonel’s face to take all of Lambert’s attention.
“What about SPECTRE?”
“Trust me, I got them under my finger.”
“I trust you with that. I have to go as well, Colonel. Keep up the good work.”
“I will, General.”
The Colonel smiled, and saluted the screen, a fashion that spoke of respect and honor. His eyes were understanding, and the way he spoke told Lambert he was glad to be working with him.
“Colonel Robert Anthony Gallagher out.”
Project PEGASUS: Intermission: The Origin of Hatred
Date: 17 April 2009, 6:02 am
28 Years prior
A meeting room.
Dull, spartan in appearance, and white in color, it was droll and held no intent of being colorful. The meeting room was not meant to draw in artists and make it look like art, but to hold critical meetings with no distractions. No windows, no curtains, only a polished wood table with comfortable chairs and a holo-projector in the middle of the table. In this room sat three UNSC Officers, all of them wearing officer ranks on their collars. The projector displayed one man’s face, a scarred and solemn man’s face, a veteran of some war.
Displaced, and now not just by war, but by time.
Both officers, sitting next to each other, wore Lieutenant ranks. One wore the dark green of the UNSC Army, but the other wore the black and gold of a Marine. They were staring at the other officer sitting at the other end of the table, a Marine as well. His name and rank identified him as one Colonel Vaez. His hair black, combed back for an austere look, his eyes green but on fire.
His stance gave him the look of a warrior.
That look was likewise for the other two officers, both wearing the same patch on the left shoulder that Colonel Vaez had; the Special Operations Forces unit patch that all SpecFor members wore. The Marine Lieutenant, identified as Lieutenant Gallagher, was clean-shaven and had no scars. He had a young face, but a serious one. His hazel eyes were much different; they seemed to glow bright, very bright, almost in contrast with Vaez’s dark, demoneqse glow of hellfire.
The one in green looked much worse.
His face was shaven, but he appeared older than Marine, age not withstanding. He was of the same age as the Marine Second Lieutenant, but his eyes were as bright as the Marine’s. His were more haunting, a very colorful arrangement of blue and sapphire, a unique preset to the optics of man. His face was muscled, defined, like a real man.
He had the look.
He was born to wear the uniform.
“So Major Tanner is dead?”
“Yes, sir.” The Army officer, identified as Lieutenant Ackerson, replied, curtly and professional.
“Who was covering the retreat?”
“I was, sir.” Second Lieutenant Gallagher spoke up, before Ackerson kicked his uniformed leg, speaking next.
“I ordered him to when I tried to make retrieval on Tanner, but he had died from his wounds. He didn’t take no for an answer, sir.”
“And the commanding officer died protecting your squad.”
Vaez gave a look to Gallagher.
“Second Lieutenant, did you purposefully disregard Tanner’s orders and tried to take the HVT out on your own?”
“I saw an opening, and I took it. He was wanted for white slavery, god da--”
“Save the drama, Lieutenant, this is a debrief, not a courtroom drama.”
Ackerson hung his head, a slight nod. The look of lost friendship was evident on him as he gave a look towards Gallagher.
“But, otherwise, the mission was complete? The team worked perfectly?”
Vaez smiled. It was cold.
It reeked of death.
“Good. SPECTRE is a success then. Your program idea is intriguing. I’m recommending that you be promoted to Captain and transferred to a new command. You, Gallagher…You left your leader for the mission. You did your job, but it endangered the team and it got Major Tanner killed. I’m transferring you back to your ODST platoon. I don’t want you touching Ackerson’s platoon ever again.”
Gallagher hung his head and bit his lip. A wave of emotion could be seen in his eyes, closed tight, holding back the tears of failure.
22 Years Prior…
Colonel Ackerson watched with a grim look as he saw the SPARTAN-II soldier, codenamed John-117, perform all of the tasks and succeed.
He sat back in his chair and rubbed his eyebrows, knowing full well that this would cut funding for SPECTRE. He had already fielded four teams, not to mention his work with PEGASUS and the other projects that ONI was testing. He knew that the success of John’s tests would prove to Vice Admiral Parangosky that Doctor Halsey’s work was proving to be more successful publicly in ONI’s circle that SPECTRE was.
He knew that the projects competed, but he couldn’t tell her how many lives that SPECTRE has saved, especially since they almost never reveal work outside of Sections III and 0. He sighed again as he leaned against his chair.
He’d have to call his wife later and reschedule the dinner date. He knew he was going to be working late tonight.
Commodore Richard Lawner entered his office, a grim look.
“Colonel, I got bad news.”
Ackerson looked up from his computer.
“SPECTRE is being divided up into NavSpecWar. It's not going to be a Army-specific program anymore.”
He clenched his fists. The tests were just updated and now they were taking his project…HIS project…away from him?!
“Who’s been given command?”
The Commodore took out his datapad and quickly skimmed it, looking for the Colonel’s information.
“One Marine Colonel Robert Anthony Gallagher…some sort of decorated commando.”
Ackerson was pissed.
“Commodore, I need to vent.”
The older officer nodded, and left the office, walking out and closing the door.
Ackerson took his datapad and threw it with all of his might out of his window, screaming Gallagher’s name.
“That fucking traitor took my project! My own brothers and sisters for fuck’s sake! DAMN YOU, ROBERT!” He screamed, slamming his fists hard, repeatedly, on the table. He growled as he relaxed back in his chair, his face contorted in anger, letting it ooze out of him like a bad habit, his hands slowly letting go of the pressure.
“This is it, Gallagher. I swear, I’ll get my program back. I’ll do everything in my power to get it back. I promise you.”
Ackerson’s ramblings to himself slowly died as he began to work, sending out mail and correspondence to his allies…
10 Years Prior…
Colonel Gallagher smiled as he read another note from Admiral Hood on the funding allocations for ONI’s NavSpecWar division. Already, he could see a slow and steady improvement in funding for SPECTRE, enough to make him a little happier. He began to look more closely at the data, seeing how he could displace some of the money to the armor development program. His hands typed as he sent another letter to Doctor Aximus on Reach, requesting more information on the GHOUL Power Armor program.
Anything to keep his men safe.
His eyes took a break from the screen to look at the array of pictures on his home desk. The first one, closest to him, was one of his entire family near a beach, the dusky sun in the background. It revealed his wife’s stunning hair, his son’s handsome face, and his daughter’s beautiful eyes. A smile crooked at the side of his mouth, turning his eyes again to look at the screen again.
An instant message popped up, from his team one commander.
Colonel, I got a note from CENTCOM. We’re passing SPARTAN in terms of functionality. Does this mean we’re getting sent to the front of the line for the GHOUL?
Gallagher thought carefully for a second, thinking of how to word his answer.
Most likely. I don’t believe that memo to be true when you compare what some of those commandos do, but I’m sure we’re getting closer to be the prototype group to try it.
Okay, good. Rebecca and I were getting a little worried. We lost some good men because of inadequate armor.
He signed off, and Gallagher nodded in agreement. Robert sighed as he leaned back in his chair, taking a look around his desk. He frowned, realizing that he didn’t have the SPECTRE team photo up on his desk.
He activated his computer’s photo files, and searched for the…
He stopped thinking as he came across an old photo, of him and his old team commander back when he first was working in SpecOps.
It was him as a 2nd Lieutenant, his arm around the shoulder of another commando, both of them covered in mud and smiling. They both wore Marine armor, their helmets now brown from the dirt and sand all over them. He was on the left, smiling, a grin that revealed his teeth. The one on the right had his arms crossed, his smile showing no teeth.
It was from Commando Physical Training Session. It was James Ackerson.
Gallagher smiled as he remembered the fond memories of his former friendship with James. The beers after hours, the work they did...
But he ruined it when he got James’ friend, and their commanding officer, killed on Cerberus some eighteen years ago. That got him kicked out of the first ever SPECTRE team, and he was glad he was given a second chance with the program, but it permanently destroyed his friendship with James. He took it from him, unjustly, but he deserved it as well. He was removed from the program because his commanding officer did a dumb move and got himself killed.
Gallagher rubbed his chin as he winced, turning the picture files off and continuing to type his letter…
Five Years Prior…
“So, you think we can do this? We can actually take them down?”
“General Howell tried it the easy way a few years ago. He failed. The war is raging, but we will bide our time. Major Gallagher here has the information and tactical knowledge to keep Earth alive while we continue to work. General Lambert has the ideology and the public face to keep it continuing to grow and his shadow forces have stopped the first, second, and third attempts of the Covenant to find Earth’s location. There are, however, some minor problems…”
“What kind of problems, mam?”
“Commander Keyes, for one. She’s one of Ackerson’s men, and her father’s name already gives her considerable clout. Plus, I’m worried about Commodore Lawner too. But, I’m sure that we can combat him if it gets to a point.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Commodore Reinfield has command of the Navy around Alpha Centauri, and it’s sizable enough if we can’t get Hood on our side. He’s the only one who I’m worried about.”
“Loyal, dedicated, and a supporter for the UNSC. We’re being stonewalled here. What about Howard?”
“General Howard was assassinated two days ago on Cygnus II. He was becoming too lax, so a few SPECTRE agents killed him.”
“A shame. He was doing very well…what is your plan then?”
“I take command of FLEETCOM and we will have it. Oh, and one more thing, Brigadier Johnson?”
“Yes, Admiral Romanov?”
A shot rang out into the room, and the sound of a body slamming against the ground was very loud.
“I know you compromised our security. You’re not one of us anymore.”
“No, Brigadier. I’m the savior of the UNSC. I'm bringing back values, and more power to the civilian, not the military. You did not think like I did. Goodnight, James.”
The pistol fired again.