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Fan Fiction

Savage by Mainevent

A Savage Vengeance [Part 1]
Date: 28 June 2004, 1:08 AM

Fort Pride

      Lieutenant Daniel Lombardi awoke to the sound of gunfire. Mortars and cannon mostly, but scattered rifle fire stabbed the cool night air. His eyes danced through his dimly lit room, adjusting and searching simultaneously. His mind was confused by the sudden rush of activity.
      He walked slowly to a chair in the corner, and pulled on his uniform pants. Silver-gray and pressed, he'd prepared them for the meeting he was scheduled to attend the next morning with Major Parish. The ground rumbled under the icy-cold balls of his feet. A scream echoed down the corridor from the end of the hall; his hall.
      MA5B gunfire made a purring sound through his door. Daniel palmed the lock on the small chest at the foot of his bunk. It recognized his palm signature, and popped crisply open. The smell of neoprene plastic and mothballs wafted out of their dungeon. He brushed aside his body-suit and fatigues for something more important: his gun.
      The M6D pistol was polished, and glowed a ghoulish crimson-red in the reflection of his sleeping light. There was a thump on his door, and the gunfire stopped. Lombardi inserted a clip, and jammed it into the weapon with his palm. He checked the slide, and gripped the handle firmly. Sweat made his finger slip slightly on the trigger.
      Daniel approached the door, and slowly slid it open. The rail it was attached to made a painfully loud squeal. Maybe it was just his heightened senses; he was probably overreacting. Plasma connected with the doorframe, and a molten pool of metal rolled through the small crack. He wasn't overreacting. There was a high-pitched chirp from the Jackal who'd fired the shot.
      The lieutenant fired a shot into the exposed flesh on its shield arm; and it writhed in pain. A succession of two more shots landed at its chest. Columns of neon, orange blood coated the creature's shield before it slumped to the ground.
      He checked the hallway. Nothing. Two marines raced through the facility to his right. He stepped into the hall and followed their general direction. The path forked. To his left was the cafeteria. To his right was the garage. The explosion of a HE-DP fragmentation grenade from the cafeteria gave him his answer. The garage was a two hundred foot sprint.
      His feet slipped as his sudden movement reduced their traction dramatically. He braced himself with his palm, balanced himself, and surged forward. One hundred eighty feet, one hundred fifty, one hundred. The double doors at the end of the hall were closed. Luckily, they were unlocked. He wouldn't have to waste precious time meddling with the access code.
      Fifty feet. The light above the door blinked red three times before changing to a dark green hue. The metallic partitions hissed methodically open. Daniel's eyes bulged. There was a beast straight out of his nightmares standing in the doorway.
      Its massive structure was incredible. The thing had to be at least nine feet tall, because it was ducking to enter. Its reddish-beige body gave it a devilish appearance. Its chest was dark red, and covered by a large blue chest-piece. The muscles underneath rippled and flexed as it moved.
      The arms were thick and very muscular, and its forearms had a series of bone horns protruding from its thick skin. Five fingers wriggled in anticipation as it noticed Daniel. He didn't stop running; he couldn't. The marine ducked down and slid between the massive, concrete pillars his enemy called legs.
      It emitted a deep, throaty roar as it turned to face him. More of the bone spikes jutted up through the armor on his back, and dented the metal doorframe like a tin can. He turned to see the creature's head for the first time. It was oddly human shaped, but with a rhinocerous-like mouth and nose. In all truth, the entire beast looked like a hideous rhino mutation, except for the eyes. They were ink black, and cold. Emotions were hidden there, but none that would show him any kindness.
      There was a large polished horn on the crown of his head, and several smaller ones that mohawked down the back of his skull. His dark blue helmet matched the rest of his uniform. The entire terrifying picture cleared from the opaque peaces his mind had assessed individually. This was a savage and horrible thing standing before him. His mind meddled over the word. Savage.
      The recoil shocked his wrist as the pistol jerked backward. The bullet raced with an audible zip toward its target. The explosive-tipped round exploded on the rippling, blue shields of the Savage. Sweet Jesus. The creature had shields. Reality brought his mind to the vehicles around him. Rubble littered the garage's normally pristine floor.
      A large chunk of QuickCrete had crushed a nearby warthog, leaving only an all terrain vehicle within his reaches. It wasn't the vehicle he'd have hoped for, but it would do. Its rugged reliability, agility, and speed could get him out of the situation quickly. Which was exactly what he'd need now.
      The Savage began a laborious jog towards Lombardi, who struggled quickly to his feet. The ATV was beneath him before he exhaled, and it started instantly. The small engine sounded pathetic compared to a Hog's; but this wasn't the time to dwell.
      A Ghost rounded the corner and entered the hangar-like garage. Its Elite driver opened its mandibles in joy, and Daniel grimmaced. Even if he was as fast as a Ghsot, he didn't have the luxury of plasma cannons. They'd shred him to pieces in no time. He took a double-take as the Savage's enormous arm clothes-lined the Ghost's pilot, mangling him on the large spikes along his forearm.
      It hopped into the driver's seat, and after a noticeable strain from the grav-pods, the vehicle leapt forward. There was a strange and almost silent whistling sound that grew louder every second. He couldn't place it. A mortar perhaps? No, he knew the sound of mortars. Human mortars at least.
      A meter-sized sphere impacted fifty yards to his right, sending a plume of fire and metal into the sky. The Scorpion it hit came to a complete stop; its cockpit cage rattled furiously as the driver panicked to get out. The hinge was jammed. Daniel winced as the image of the driver burning alive inside flashed through his head.
      Another crashed into the soft clay ten meters in front of him. It left a four foot deep adobe crater in its wake. The ATV's nose dropped suddenly into it, and just as suddenly sprang off the opposite lip. Daniel struggled to keep the four-by-four from overturning. Flashes of plasma darted overhead as the Savage fired. Warning shots; he wouldn't have missed from that close. Daniel wasn't sure if he was lucky this creature seemed hell bent on killing him personally. Otherwise he'd probably be dead by now.
      Plasma mortars landed nearer to him. Their whistles shreaked of some demonic presence. Peripheral vision caught sight of a bright-purple object to his immediate right; he yanked the handlebars left. Muddy clay sprayed up from the ATV's thick tires, and covered the nearby Savage's face. It barked fiercely, and wiped the wet clay from its eyes. A mortar landed to the Ghost's left; too close to avoid. It erupted in a bright white flash, and toppled the Covenant bastard.

      His shield flared from the explosion before dying. The left-hand gravity pod died as well, and the Ghost buckled to the right. The Savage was tossed face-first off of the crippled hover bike. He landed on a spike of olive-green metal from a demolished Human vehicle. Brown-black blood oozed slowly from the massive wound on his exposed abdomen. The beast groaned as the Human raced out of view. His mighty fist slammed down on the jagged metal, crumpling it easily.
       Shorak had never been bested before; not by anyone. Especially something so puny as this Human. Not only had his honor been destroyed because of his escape, he'd been mortally offended as well. The scar. Normally a scar would be a triumphant proof of glory and battle, but not now. This one had been inflicted by a weaker creature, and it escaped. There was only one solution; he'd have to hunt down and kill the one who shamed him. For honor was above all else to the Covenant.

CCSImpure Truth

      Shorak grinned through his large thin lips. Three isochronisms (months) had passed since he'd been scarred on the Human planet. His large fingers traced the diagonal mark that obscured his honor. Nobody had said anything, but he knew. They wouldn't dare mention it to him, but they had to talk about it behind his back. Those he trusted most had tried to assure him that he'd more than made up for the disgrace against him. After all, he'd killed countless humans, and even two of their green-armored warriors. No one would dispute his accomplishments; but that wasn't enough.
      He'd made it his goal to find and kill the human who'd scarred him. Now was that time. He'd taken special care to have any human vessel that managed to escape the planet tracked with a probe; a perk of being promoted to Purifier of Unholy Thoughts. His large, black bone nose ring was the symbol of his accomplishments. It was ornamented with precious metals and gems. A show piece of his power. Though he felt worthless.
      A chirp of a passing Engineer briefly distracted him; he brought his plasma cannon to his chest and fired it into the creature. It wriggled before falling to the ground lifelessly. He'd asked for complete silence. There was a price for disobeying his orders. Two nearby Engineers halted mid-air, probed their dead comrade carefully, and then floated silently by.
      His prey must have been on the three Human dropships that made it off the colony world. The probes followed the cruiser they docked on to this planet. To a military instillation six units from his designated target. The Great Ones had apparently left an artifact of "great significance" on this planet. Though Shorak had never seen any of the other artifacts, which had all been of "great significance" at the time, after they'd been retrieved. This was a personal vendetta, and he wouldn't disguise it as anything other. If that meant breaking his orders, so be it.
      He checked his personal weapon, a custom designed plasma cannon, and grabbed several recharge packs. His plasma cannon was the same kind the Ghosts carried, but much more impressive. It's overload inhibitors had been "modified" a bit, and allowed for much more firing before he had to release the trigger. Special cooling canisters were also attached to the side, giving the already alien weapon even more defining qualities. His personal Ghost was stowed beneath the dropship he'd ride to the planet's surface. Shorak slid his helmet carefully over his razor-sharp horns, and grinned maliciously. All of the time, effort, and planning he'd gone through to kill this miserable creature was finally coming to fruition. His contingent of six extremely veteran Savages would accompany him, but they were only a distraction.

      "So I was face to face with the most horrible creature you've ever seen. It's teeth were gnarling and covered in blood. It was easily fifteen feet tall, and had a cannon on its back. I only had my trusty shotgun with me, so I pumped a shot into it. It's shields died and it roared. The most horrible sound I ever heard. He fired his gun at me, and it destroyed the only warthog in the garage. So what'd I do, I ran up to it, and slid under its legs again, and pumped a round into it. The shell tore across his stomach, and scarred him horribly. His blood wreaked of the smell of death, but he wasn't going to lie down and die. There was only one option, I had to warn everyone else. So I got on the last ATV there was, and dodged hundreds of plasma mortars as I fought off three Ghosts trying to kill me. I tell you guys, I must have been the luckiest son of a bitch ever." Daniel Finished his tale for the umpteenth time. It got better, and coincidentally further from the truth, every time he told it.
      "I think that smell you were talking about was bullshit Lombardi." His best friend Robins muttered.
      The table laughed. Danny had to admit to himself that he had only been lucky. But there was an unsettling nausea that followed him around.. He'd been fine the last three months, but everywhere he'd gone met horrible fate. Was it coincidence? Or was fate actually following him. He couldn't dismiss the feeling that destiny had a hard-on for him.
      Klaxons whirred to life. The intercom stuttered out a garbled message. From PlanCom. Planetary Communications was at the heart of the UNSC's military presence here. If they were falling, there would be nothing left to break the Covenant's assault. Though that didn't make sense anyway. The Covenant had only assaulted three planets with a ground force that he'd ever heard of, and they were all glassed afterwards. His stomach went wobbly.
      "Under heavy...all personnel should....incomi," The message ended abruptly.
      "You heard the man marines, everyone gear up and head to the ships." Commander Dobson said as he headed for the door.
      Daniel skirted closely to Robins. Staccato gunfire sputtered from outside. They were here. The armory was ahead, and there was a marine dispersing weapons as quickly as possible. The line of marines filed past, getting whatever was randomly handed to them. If this really was the same creature he'd fought before, nothing would be enough. They'd apparently emptied the shotgun and assault rifle racks; now they were handing out battle rifles. The gun, with two additional clips taped to the side, was forced into his chest; he stumbled along with the group.
      There was a light breeze outside. It brought the stench of death to him so he wouldn't have to wait for it. His gag reflex kicked in, but the lieutenant fought it. The thick clouds overhead were light gray. No rain, just the ominous foreshadowing of someone's fate. He hoped it wasn't his. Plasma bolts strafed through a team of nearby ODSTs. Helljumpers were only useful if they had a chance.
      Daniel's eyes followed the plasma trails back to the Ghost they'd poured from. But to his dismay and confusion, they didn't find a Ghost. They found a solitary Savage pumping super-heated matter into every creature that crossed its path.
      His eyes spotted something even worse before his brain registered it. A large diagonal scar exited the top of his chest plate. Lombardi was frozen in fear. The Savage aimed his cannon at the lieutenant's chest. But held the finger hovering near the trigger. A spark ignited; white teeth revealed themselves through his thin lips. He remembered.
      There was only one way this would end. Badly. The Savage began its galloping charge, and Daniel pumped his shotgun.
      "I'm gonna give you a matching one!" He screamed as he fired the first round at it. Symbolical, not fatal. The mighty spiked forearm rose up above Daniel as it neared. Nothing to do but take it like a man.

A Savage Vengeance [Part 2]
Date: 13 July 2004, 5:55 AM

      Time seemed to slow. He could hear his heart pounding in his chest like a jackhammer. The dull thump..thump...thump. His veins pulsed as each surge of blood coursed through his body. Adrenaline ignited his dendrites and every nerve in his body seemed to twitch.
      Because they did.
      His leg muscles tensed as his body seemed to go on auto-pilot. Was it instinct driving him now? The Neanderthal of long ago coming out of hibernation to save him. Daniel wasn't sure. He watched through his eyes as a passive observer. He couldn't remember telling himself to dodge the blow, but he had.
      The Savage's massive arm slid mere inches from the Lieutenant's face. The polished bone spikes bristled dangerously above him. He jerked the trigger violently. His arm hurt. There was a bright flash of shields, but the pellets didn't penetrate. Instead they ricocheted back towards Daniel; one caught his leg.
      Somehow he didn't feel it. Endorphins cloaked the pain. His hand was still making its own decisions. The shotgun jerked again. Smoke wafted lazily from its barrel before being caught in the rising winds. The storm was coming up quickly.
      This time the lieutenant was lucky. The shields were dead. But not lucky enough. He was out of shells. Massive white teeth protruded from its mouth. Razor sharp incisors beckoned like hungry dogs for his flesh. Daniel rolled away from the bite.
      His feet scraped the pavement while scurrying to get away. Rocks and pebbles bounced away and made light tinks on his adversary's armor. A shallow rumble permeated through the ground. He was up and running.
      He didn't have to glance back to see fate tumbling after him. It was catching up, panting down his neck. His nostrils flared as he exhaled forcefully. Six marines were exiting the building he'd just left. They all opened fire on the beast behind Daniel.
      Shallow pings of bullets did nothing. He ducked under their rifle fire and ducked into the building. Several deep cries were heard only moments later. Blood sloshed through the door and covered him. He nearly gagged from the smell. The mere fact it was human blood from people he'd seen only moments before was also extremely unnerving.
      They'd been right there damnit. I touched one of them. Now they're...they're fucking dead. What can I do against something like that. It's...unstoppable. His thoughts were quick, unwieldy. There was the deep, forceful gruff of the Savage outside. It ducked into the hall behind him.
      Lieutenant Lombardi was luckier here. It had to slow due to its size. That didn't mean much though. He was far from safe. He entered the armory. It was empty. He laughed shallowly. It was fucking empty! Of all the times he ever needed the armory, this time it was empty.
      He turned to face the door, but two massive eyes were already staring through him. This time there was color in them. Large yellow rings. Pineapple slices? No, these were hornet striped. There was nothing but pain behind them.
      The concrete wall that comprised the armory broke open suddenly behind the surprised duo. The sparking hulk of a Scorpion tank rumbled through the wall. The melted cockpit smoked with plasma scoring. That life had probably saved his. What was he supposed to feel now? Happiness or sadness?
      He climbed onto the rolling behemoth, and carefully maneuvered to its rear. He leapt off and came to a roll on the gravel below. There was a fierce roar. The Savage wouldn't be leaving that room anytime soon. It was too large to follow, and would be forced to go around.
      Lombardi picked up two loose sub-machine guns. One had a full clip, and the other was half full. There were two spare clips on both. He squatted down and pulled two grenades off of the Marines' corpses he'd removed the guns from. Maybe in all the death, he did get lucky.

      Shorak was extremely angry. The Human had escaped him once more. Not for long though. He clasped his gargantuan fingers and slammed his fists into the Human machine's engine. It popped explosively before dying. The one he was after had run along its side, and escaped through the hole the tank had made. He couldn't be far.
      The mighty beast took a deep breath, and charged the wall nearest to the hole. The structurally weakest point. The wall budged awkwardly from his blow, but didn't fall. Shorak shook his head and tried again. A deep breath, and a charge.
      This time the building gave in. The wall crumbled to the ground in a cloud of dust and debris. He'd caught the Human off guard. It whipped around with wide eyes, and back-peddled while firing wildly. Shorak's shields were dead.
      One of the projectiles lodged in his shoulder. He winced. It dawned on him that it was the first time he'd ever been shot. The Savage dismissed the pain and took another step forward. Another bullet sliced across his inner thigh. Cutting a deep gash that bled profusely. Nothing would stop him from killing this human. Nothing.
      Another step forward.
      One of the weapons died, shortly followed by the other. The small, puny Human was actually putting up a fight. Shorak didn't mind though. In all truth he would have been slightly upset if it hadn't. After all of the time and energy he'd spent searching for this one insignificant being. His eyes focused on the long black object that dropped to the ground. His enemy was struggling to insert another as quickly as possible.
      Another step forward.
      He dropped the second weapon and put his full attention on reloading the one he had. He succeeded and pointed it back. Shorak felt thin reverberations in his armor. Then a painful bite in his left arm. He huffed, grabbed a large metal spike out of the ground, and clutched it firmly. No more steps. Enough was enough. He began the Warrior's Charge. A kill made during such a charge was the most honorable thing imaginable.
      The spike rose willingly above his head, and was brought down quickly. The Human didn't have time to respond. The pole's forced knocked the human to his knees, and he coughed blood up. His eyes were foggy and disoriented. The two miniscule hands felt weakly at the pole before going limp. Shorak had won. His lips parted widely as he basked in his magnificence. A nearby explosion jolted him back into reality. A massive fireball erupted a hundred yards away, and the body of one of his fellow Savages was tossed easily to his feet.
      Brownish-black blood coated the ground . His body wasn't mangled from the blast. The armor had been dented menacingly. He was confused. There was only one thing he knew that could have made that kind of damage. His eyes slowly trudged upwards. A wall of fire crackled in the sunlight, but inside were two black outlines. They slowly widened, and to his fear, began exiting the flame.
      Their green armor reflected harshly in the sunlight, and for the first time Shorak felt fear. In one's hands were two of the Human weapons called "shootgons". In the other's, a heavy machine gun. They stopped well short of Shorak, and seemed to stare through their golden visors at him. He'd faced two of them before, and won both times. But he'd never faced two at once, and even when there was only one he was lucky.
      They raised their weapons quickly, and depressed the triggers. It was funny now. All of the searching. All of the longing. All of it for nothing. His honor was useless. He gave a thin snort, and felt the riddle of bullets, and the deeper thud of shotgun shells impact across his body. A body which rolled from side to side violently, before falling quietly to the ground.

      Spartan 262-Asimov kneeled down beside the massive creature he'd just help kill. The last one of them on the base. He cocked his head inquisitively, and looked into its eyes. He'd expected the emptiness of death, but he was surprised. He saw the vague image of clarity and understanding there. Something he'd never seen in a Covenant's eyes before. Though it was a peculiar habit he had, looking into his dead opponent's eyes. Asimov was convinced they told him his enemy's last thoughts, but the others either thought it absurd or didn't care.
      "Let's go. They need us in the city." Spartan 315-Kalashnikov said through his intercom.
      Asimov took a last glance. He stood quietly up, and faced the city. "Let's go."

Relic Hunting: Part 1
Date: 12 September 2004, 10:42 PM

Author's Note: This is a continuation of the story after "A Savage Vengeance". It is NOT a sequel, and is designed as a standalone story. But it does help to have read it. But for the lazy: The Covenant are attacking this planet to find a relic. At least they THINK it's a relic...

      He ducked the blow with elegant fluidity, and countered with a quick jab to the alien's stomach. His uppercut was blocked, and a forceful kick landed in his chest. Shields flared and metal crumpled as the SPARTAN was knocked off of his feet and onto the dusty ground. He braced himself with his hand and rolled backwards.
      The pain shooting through his throbbing chest told him that he was hurt- though he probably hadn't broken anything due to the augmentation; but that was dawdling. He'd be a lot worse off if he didn't divert full attention to his foe. His suit was still functioning perfectly though, and seemed to read his thoughts before he thought them. His right arm pushed down on the ground, rolling him to the left as a heavy metal blade sparked viciously where he'd been.
      He did a reversed-V sit-up and pulled his legs to his chest. They shot forward with full thrust, catching his charging counterpart squarely in the jaw. There was a satisfying crunch of broken bone as he felt the contact of his boot with its lower jaw. It made a quick twitch and weak whimper before falling limply to the cold metallic floor. The massive alien grenade launcher still clenched fervently in his gigantic claws.
      SPARTAN-215 ran his gloved fingers slowly over his crumpled chest plate. A shot of pain raced through his spine and into his legs. He'd fought Brutes before, several of them, but this one was the largest by far. Another shot of pain made him nearly weak in the knees. No time for this, I've gotta get this done. Ivan did what he'd done many times before; he literally thought the pain away.
      It was a soldier's trait- at least a SPARTAN's.. Their minds could somehow bypass the physical pain by distracting itself with menial tasks. In 215's case it was field stripping his rifle, counting the number of clips he was carrying, and making improvised repairs to his suit. Teeth bit calmly on lips as his giant green fingers pulled the jagged metal chest plate off.
      The impact was perfectly round, with three deep, sharp lascerations around the edge. They'd made small deep gashes in his skin; barely a flesh wound. The suit had managed to take most of the impact. The augmentations were good, but he wasn't invincible.
      The bolt snapped back with a metallic click. He shouldered it, brought his stance down to a shallow creep, and slowly moved to the door. The dark corridor outside illuminated instantly as his visor compensated with night-vision. Not good... One, two, three, four, six, eight. Damn. Eight Black Ops Elites were all huddled patiently around the main door. Waiting for him.
      They obviously knew he was in there, and he couldn't wait them out. They had the support, food, and intel that made that option possible. He quickly backpeddled away from the door, and was surprised when a flurry of plasma and needles didn't saturate the area. He slowly crawled back, and snaked his optical chord around the corner.
      One Elite was standing up, hoisting the large fuel rod cannon he'd often seen grunts use onto his shoulder. Now! Ivan grabbed his rifle, chinned off his optical feed, and rolled into the doorway. He scoped in and put four three-round bursts into the bastard's chest. Blue-green blood columned from the wound.
      The rifle moved to the right shoulder, and put another three rounds into the joint. The force spun the Elite to its right. The fuel rod cannon discharged into the two startled Elites firing futilely at the appearance of their foe. Their bodies diseappeared into the massive cloud of plasma before the weapon over heated.
      Blood shot from the back of the Elite's knees as Ivan put two bullets in each; and it fell quickly back. One Elite leapt over the barricade he was behind and went prone, but the other wasn't that quick. The explosion pinned it against the wall as heat slowly seared the metal; roasting the flesh inside. The Elite was either dead or seriously injured, but out of commission either way.
      The prone Elite fired wildly, but managed to land a shot. Ivan's shield indicator dropped by nearly a quarter-the damage must have done more than he'd anticipated. He rolled behind the wall, and slammed a new clip in. The bolt mechanism was forced back, and shot forward; giving the familiar sound of readiness.
      Plasma streamed in through the entrance, but he'd risk it anyway. A quick step around the corner put his back against the wall he had just been hiding behind. His gun was firing before he remembered pulling the trigger, because the Elite's shields were flaring and the familiar ricochet of bullets was echoing through the passageway.
      But it wasn't his gun that was firing. He depressed the trigger and felt the familiar recoil in his wrist. Tracers entered the Elite's body from three directions. A quick burst of electrical discharge, and then a puddle of blood. From the darkness on his right he noticed the white and blue camoflauge pattern that was distinctly 315-Kalashnikov's style. From his left emerged the similarly dirty-gray colored 262-Asimov.
      215-Ivan checked his weapon; as well as 262 and 315. He slowly approached, and noticed the blinking square in the corner of his HUD. He chinned the comm channel open for a "full party communications band". This allowed all nearby Spartans to talk at once, and was the basic communications setting.
      "This section is cleared. Fort Saber is gone. We arrived late, and encountered extremely heavy resistance. There were six Savages at the base." Asimov updated monotonously.
      "That's a lot of Savages for one Fort." Ivan replied with the similar lack of emotion, but this wasn't the time for emotion. Emotion was an off-duty thing; and they were very much on duty.
      "That's a lot of Savages period. We've only encountered two Savages at any one battle. Something was there that they wanted." Kalashnikov input.
      "TacCom is still online, and the Orbitals haven't fallen. Our situation upstairs isn't good though. PlanCom has fallen, but we've reinforced main H.Q. enough to send out hunter-killer teams into the city." Ivan briefed.
      "What's our tactical situation in-city? We arrived from the West, and it looked under control to the south. Explosions and a lot of fire from the north side though." Asimov queried.
      "Radio reports that there's six main pockets of resistance, and the city is otherwise clear of targets. Locations one, three, five, and six are under control, and are as of now on the offensive. Pocket four reports heavy units, and are falling back and establishing chokepoints."
      "Pocket two?"
      "No contact for the last twenty minutes. I was heading over to South 45th and Hampton to their broadcast fallback point." Ivan scanned the frequencies quickly once more. "Let's go."
      The three warlords began their move towards the fighting. Asimov took point, and Kalashnikov watched their rear. Ivan scanned the area intently, while monitoring transmissions. They were six blocks from 45th and Hampton, and the Covenant presence was getting noticeable.
      Asimov put a three-round burst into the head of a Grunt that seemed lost. Two ghosts noticed the shots, and turned the corner. Four more were directly behind them. He'd shot a hornet's nest. The three SPARTANS began a full sprint, and were inside of a nearby bank building within two seconds. Their heavy suits waltzing through the plate-glass doors as though they were non-existant.
      A barrage of blue-green plasma bolts sizzled into the foyer. The trio were good, but they couldn't take out six ghosts with the weapons they had. Three grenades were launched carelessly outside as a distraction while they hustled up the stairs. The electricity was long gone in this section of town, so the elevators weren't an option. Not that they could have carried the combined weight of three half-ton SPARTANS as it were.

      Thirty stories and five minutes later the heavy metal door on the roof burst open. The barrel of a battle rifle sticking coldly out, and sweeping from side to side. Their bodies emerged slowly; cautious of overhead flyers. Phantoms, Seraphs, or Banshees could all be circling overhead; and all would have a field day blasting three Humans to nothingness.
      Ivan crept slowly to the roof's edge, and was shocked by what he observed. The central plaza he was overlooking had literally been transformed into a Covenant headquarters. Row after row of Covenant transport buses were lined up down the streets for easily eight blocks.
      There was at least a battaltion's strength around the area. Four groups of ghosts, like those they'd run into earlier, were circling the makeshift complex-several more passed in and out of sight downrange. He counted five rows of eight Shadows, easily thirty Wraiths, and fourteen vehicles he'd never seen before.
      Phantoms hovered close to the ground, and were dropping off more and more troops. This wasn't the normal force; this one was much stronger. It was infantry-light for an urban assault force, and the mortar tanks wouldn't do much good in close quarters. So what the hell was going on?
      "Heads up, outgoing enemy flyers eastbound."
      "TacCom?" 315 asked surprised.
      "Yea." It made sense now. The pockets were just probing for the weakest area, and would move in from there. Ivan chinned his high-strength communications band. Static.
      "I'm getting static. Jammers?"
      "Probably, if the satellites are gone, our local arrays are wasted too."
      There was only one option, they'd have to manually double-time it through a heavily concentrated, highly-trained contingent of Covenant with extreme mobility and and hard-on for big guns. The three stared at each other, all contemplating their situation from behind their golden-tinted visors. THIS would be very interesting.