The Devil's Maw by Conrad Lauf
The Devil's Maw: Part 1
Date: 5 August 2004, 7:26 AM
I know this story is short, and the storyline ain't exactly the most original, but I made this fiction purely for the action, something which numerous people have told me I'm good at, and because writing action in diary format really pisses me off after a while...but anyway, on with the show!
The world was black as Captain Steele opened his eyes. He realized he was strapped down, and heard something to his right move towards him. Light began to slowly filter into the room, and Steele was able to make out the silhouette of an Elite bending over him. The Elite exclaimed:
"So, he wakes. Pity it will be the last time he does. Your escape pod did a lot of damage as it hit our cruiser, "Steele", and we have recovered the neural chip from the implant in your cranium. Soon we will have worked out all that has been stored on that chip, and all you can do is lay here until we decide it is time for you to be disposed of..."
LOCATION: Barren plain-Rocky Desert-Australia
The Warthog hit the earth doing eighty k's, with the marine gunner holding down on the 12.7mm chaingun like it was his fury incarnate. One of the pursuing Ghosts fell back under a hail of tracer fire, but to Chief Argave's disappointment, the remaining Banshee did not pull away. Argave pulled the warthog in a sharp U-turn, and sped towards the Banshee, going right underneath it, and the Banshee was forced to pull around, and try to catch up with the speeding LRV.
Argave's intercom crackled into life.
"Chief Argave, this is Dragoon-316. We've confirmed that the last emergency beacon from Captain Steele's escape pod came from inside the Covenant cruiseship The Everchosen of Kahn . We need you to immediately head towards the grav-lift one kilometer north of your location to retrieve Steele and the stolen security chip. Dragoon out."
"Roger that Dragoon."
Argave sighed, and floored the accelerator, while his gunner yelled down at him,
"Sir, I'm low on ammo. I don't know if we'll be able to make it alive!"
Argave yelled back:
"How many rounds left?"
There was a pause as the gunner checked.
"Sir, we have 314 rounds left."
Hmmmm...not too bad , thought Argave.
"Private, that means you can kill about thirty Covie asswipes -forty if you're accurate. Only shoot at what you know you can hit. Is that understood?"
"Sir, Yes Sir!"
Up ahead was a small rocky outcrop. To Argave's delight, there was a granite boulder rising out of the surrounding grassland. The rock had the basic shape of a ramp, but it appeared to end suddenly in a total drop. Even though he didn't know what was on the other side of the drop, Argave decided to go for it.
He glanced in his rear-view mirror, and saw that the Banshee was practically on top of them, only one metre above the gunner's turret. As they reached the base of the 'ramp', Argave slowed a little, just enough to let the Banshee go straight over them. As the Banshee appeared in front of him, Argave floored the accelerator, and the Warthog left the ground, and for what sounded like a lifetime they soared through the air, with the low-flying Banshee right in front of them, just underneath the Warthog's front tyres. Argave bellowed "Fire!", and instantly the triple-barrelled chaingun above Argave's head burst into life, letting a merciless blaze of orange shafts rain down on the unprotected rear of the Banshee. The flyer's Elite roared as its armour's shields crackled like blue lightning and depleted as it was torn apart by a hundred shells, which went straight through the Elite's body and into the control panel of the Banshee. A millisecond later, the entire Covenant aircraft exploded in midair, and Argave felt a wash of heat roll over his body as the Warthog sailed straight through the falling, flaming wreckage of the Banshee.
The Warthog sagged onto the ground, the suspension only just managing to keep the LRV from exploding as it hit the earth. The Warthog slewed to a halt as Argave tried to regain his breath.
"Man was that fun or wha -" Argave turned to talk to the gunner, but stopped himself as he saw the body of the UNSC marine.
Although the Mark 5 armour had protected Argave from the heat and wreckage, the gunner hadn't been so lucky. He slumped against the handles of the chaingun, his unprotected face hideously burnt and lacerated by the steel that shot outwards from the Banshee as it exploded.
Argave gave a quick salute, and unstrapped his seat-belt. He climbed out of the driver's seat, and pulled the body off the back. He carried it off to a small grove of stunted trees, and lay it down on its back. Argave turned, making a note to collect the body after he had recovered the captain and the neural implant.
To Be Continued In Part 2!
(Unless of course I get crappy comments, which will result in me just ending it right here)
The Devil's Maw: Part 2
Date: 10 August 2004, 10:19 AM
Field Master Ghuramee cocked his head to one side. Now he had definitely heard something. And it was getting closer. He motioned for Skricket, one of his squad's twin Jackals.
"Do you hear that?"
Skricket smiled. "Of course. I think its one of those human vehicles. What are they called...oh yes, that's right. They're called Warthogs."
Ghuramee turned to his squad.
"At your positions! Humans approach! Guard the grav-lift with your miserable lives or your death will be swift!"
Instantaneously the open clearing burst into life as Grunts and Jackals scrambled to their posts. In just ten seconds they had strategically surrounded the circular ridge running around the glittering purple curtain of anti-gravity matter. Suddenly a Grunt squealed as the warthog shot off the ridge, its back tire clipping its head, snapping its neck instantly like a twig. The LRV hit the ground, its driver Argave already opening fire on the Covenant guards with his MA5B, holding it in his left hand, while he drove with his right. The weapon bucked in his grip, and inside his helmet Argave gritted his teeth as he fought to keep the assault rifle steady. Geysers of dirt erupted around Ghuramee as he fired his plasma rifle on full automatic, trying desperately to hit the swift LRV.
Argave simultaneously yanked the steering wheel to his left and hit the brakes, and grinned as the rear of the Warthog swung out, collecting a cumbersome Grunt with full force. He aimed his assault rifle, looking down the barrel at the face of Skricket, who was standing perpendicular to his seat. He squeezed the trigger-
But to his dismay no muzzle flash spewed from his weapon's mouth. Skricket grinned, and raised his plasma pistol, its barrel lit up with the light of a charged-up energy pulse.
The two enemies were barely three paces apart, and as Skricket let go of the trigger, Argave suddenly pressed back against his seat with all his strength, and closed his eyes in hope. To he and Skricket's amazement, the bolt of plasma passed through the Warthog, blazing clean just millimeters in front of Argave's eyes. If the Warthog had possessed windows, Argave would have been incinerated with the force of the blast.
Argave hastily slammed a fresh clip into the magazine slot of the MA5B, and with a brief squeeze of the trigger Skricket knew no more.
Now Argave turned his attention to the remainder of the squad. Only two Grunts and Ghuramee were still standing.
He shot forward, straight for a Grunt. It squeezed its plasma pistol with both hands, but the weapon fizzled in defiance. The Grunt realized that it was doomed, and dropped its weapon. As he was about to hit the unfortunate Covenant, Argave swerved slightly to his left. At the last possible second he reached out with his glove and grabbed the Grunt by its protruding respirator. It screeched in protest, and squirmed like a trapped devil. Argave swung the Warthog around, and threw the Grunt at one of the grav-lift's surrounding pylons. Something in the Grunt's neck cracked as it hit the alloy.
From here Argave sped up, heading straight for the Elite sergeant. Ghuramee winced as he saw his impending death come straight at him. He roared, and with the last of his strength dived to the side of the oncoming LRV. Argave swore as his vehicle suddenly sputtered, and screeched to a halt.
Ghuramee laughed, raising his plasma rifle at the bridge of Argave's nose. But what came next completely took the laughter from his face.
Argave threw himself out of the driver's seat, swinging himself around onto the turret at the back of the Warthog with one hand gripping onto the LRV's sturdy roll bar. He aimed the chaingun at Ghuramee's chest, and hit the firing studs. The chaingun burst into life, expending the last of its ammunition in a few seconds of destructive frenzy. By the time the barrels had stopped spinning, Ghuramee's shredded body lay in a crumpled heap on the earthen floor.
With the entire Covenant squad dead, Argave was able to reach into the narrow gap between the cabin and turret of the Warthog, and pull out the jerry can that was stored there. Then, he found the last two drums of 12.7mm ammunition for the chaingun.
With the Warthog now fully recharged and geared for battle, Argave drove the LRV onto the grav-lift's centre. He waited patiently for the lift to activate, and as it began to lift up the Warthog, he clambered onto the gunner's turret.
When he reached the interior of that cruiser, the Covenant guards stationed at its grav-lift's entrance would be in for a big surprise...
To be continued in Part 3!
The Devil's Maw: Part 3
Date: 16 August 2004, 9:45 AM
The interior of the Covenant cruiser The Everchosen of Kahn was deathly quiet, save the soft clink of armour striking against steel. One of the Hunters turned, and began to patrol in the other direction. Its partner froze, and stared at the grav-lift pad in the centre of the room, which began to emanate a pure white light which grew brighter and brighter with each passing second. When it cleared and the Hunter regained its vision, it found itself staring down the barrels of a very big gun.
"I'd hate to..." muttered Argave, depleting the firing mechanism of the chaingun. It exploded into life, and the Hunter staggered backwards under the solid punch of armour-piercing rounds that pushed it towards the wall behind it. It tried desperately to raise its shield, but was too late.
Argave turned the turret around, and yelled, 'Shit!" as the Warthog was thrown over by the force of a fuel rod gun charge. He dove from the back of the LRV, only just missing being crushed by its bulk.
Argave pushed himself to his feet, only to be thrown back by the alloy shield that connected with his stomach. He rolled to his feet, using the inertia of the push to throw himself back upright.
As his feet hit the floor, Argave drew out his M6D, aiming straight at the Hunter's gut, which pulsed with adrenalin-pumping fluid underneath thin orange flesh. As the pistol spat out the rounds of semi-automatic fire, the Hunter groaned as it was killed by ammunition that normally would have tickled it, had the rounds hit its artificial armour.
Argave cautiously aimed the chaingun around the room, checking for any other guards. When he was certain he hadn't raised the alarm, he leapt off the back of the Warthog, with his MA5B already loaded and the safety switched off.
He headed towards one of the automatic sliding doors that provided an exit from the room, with the nav-point showing an orange triangle almost north of his position.
The Manreaper Pack Leader crouched down, and examined the spoor on the floor. He scratched off a small piece of mud and raised it to his thin nostrils and inhaled sharply. A second later, he had straightened up, pulled his midnight-black hood over his armoured head and unslung his twin blackened blades. He knew the spoor well.
A few moments later, the hallways of The Everchosen of Kahn were bustling with flittering shadows as the Manreaper pack made their way towards Argave's location. In a matter of minutes they would reach him. And then they would kill.
Argave ducked into the darkened hallway back as the radar on his HUD suddenly went haywire, with red dots appearing and disappearing rapidly all around him. Argave well knew that the radar's radius was fifteen metres, and he practically ripped his combat blade from his sheath as he saw a dot appear right on top of his location...
The robed figure dropped silently from the vent above the human, its scimitar raised above its head for the killing blow. As it reached him, however, it was skewered by the sixteen inches of cold steel that was plunged through its stomach. Argave flung the lifeless corpse to the ground, and spun around, his MA5B held ready in one hand, his combat blade in the other. The hall was deathly silent.
He crouched slowly, and picked up the ornate Covenant blade. To his surprise, it was ultra-light, weighted slightly at the end of the curved blade for ultimate swinging power. Argave knew straight-away that this blade was meant for hacking. He dropped his combat blade, eschewing the comparatively clumsy human self-defense side-arm for the perfect Covenant close-combat weapon.
Argave swore as a chorus of bellows and roars greeted him as he foolishly stepped over a trip-beam. Against the lurid pink floor, the primitive security device was all but invisible. He instinctively dropped, his abnormal SPARTAN reflexes saving his neck as the Manreaper behind him lodged his scimitar in the hallway wall. At that point, Argave realized the true power and sharpness of the blade in his hand.
Another assailant dropped from an over-head vent, swiping out at Argave's gut, who parried, and kicked out, feeling his metallic boot crunch into alloy alien facial armour. He thrusted, digging the curved blade up into the Manreaper's ribcage, pushing up until the tip burst through the skin next to the Manreaper's collarbone. Argave twisted, and the Manreaper screamed in pain. He performed a stop-push, allowing the twitching corpse to slide off the scimitar's length.
He spun around; his MA5B's barrel lodged in the open throat of yet another Manreaper. Argave cocked his head slightly in mock sympathy, and squeezed the trigger. Instantly the assault rifle shuddered in Argave's grip, and within a heartbeat bullets were tearing through the back of the Manreaper's skull and into the chest of its companion behind it.
Argave sprinted down the hall while there was a short delay in the onslaught of Covenant assailants, running to an automatic door, almost hopping up and down with impatience for the doors to slide open. What he saw next almost cost him control of his bladder.
To be continued in Part 4!
The Manreapers are a special unit I created for the Covenant forces. I won't go into detail of their background, but basically they are the assassins of the Covenant. They are Elites in black hooded robes, eschewing armour in favour of stealth. The use blackened scimitars, about forty inches in length.
For more information on Manreapers read my poem entitled:
Kahn's Manreapers - A Poem
Oh yeah, and I know this story is short!
The Devil's Maw: Part 4
Date: 21 August 2004, 1:34 AM
Author's Note: Some of you readers may have noticed that I gave my central SPARTAN character a personality that consists of one-liners and the inability to take anything seriously. This personality is greatly reminiscent of Bruce Campbell's character Ash from the 1980's-1990's Evil Dead movies, the first films to blend horror and comedy together. So if you like Argave's persona, I suggest you watch the Evil Dead movies. They're classics. Now, on with the show!
Argave stood rigid, frozen on the spot. Around the gargantuan empty dropship hangar were eight Hunters, each engrossed in their daily duties. Argave noticed two were sharpening the edges of their alloy shields on a spinning laser wheel, burning with the light of superheated metal.
"Mother of God..." muttered Argave.
Unfortunately for Argave, one of the Hunters heard his quiet exclamation, and with a bestial grunt all Hunters were instantly alert to Argave's presence. They began charging up their fuel rod guns, and Argave threw himself to the ground as eight crackling bolts of plasma whistled overhead, slamming into the door behind him, crumpling it inwards beyond repair. Two Hunters ran forward to fight in close combat. As the first Hunter reached him, it brought its shield up in a vertical arc. Argave leapt on to the miniature platform as it swung up, and flipped himself up backwards in midair. As he was about to hit the ground, he slashed out with his blade, hitting the Hunter in the orange fleshy area between the head and chest. The flesh split open in a wash of fiery orange blood and life fluid, and the Hunter slumped to the floor, dead.
Argave heard the sound of heavy footsteps behind him, and craned his neck around to see the second Hunter swing out horizontally with the cutting edge of its shield, trying to hit Argave at the waist. The SPARTAN leapt up and tucked his legs into his body. The shield passed clean underneath him, and as he hit the ground Argave crouched low to the floor, his MA5B outstretched, the elongated barrel pressing into the stomach flesh of the Hunter. As he hit the trigger, Argave thrusted out with his scimitar, digging the blade's tip through the eye-hole of a Hunter behind him.
Now, there were only five Hunters left.
Argave had both arms stuck into two different enemies, the sword lodged in the eye-socket of one Hunter, the other's MA5B barrel being almost sucked in by the sticky organs that were being obliterated in the other. So all he could do was watch as a Hunter charged straight for him. As it reached him, he twisted his arms back, readying himself for the backflip that brought his boot arcing up into the bottom of the Hunter's helmet and landing where he started. With a sick sound of grinding bone, the Hunter toppled over backwards, its neck broken beyond repair.
Argave wrenched his arms out of the two corpses, and sprinted towards the four remaining Hunters, which had banded together in a tight circle, their fuel rod guns lit up. Relying on his superhuman speed and reflexes, Argave reached the first Hunter, and grabbed the fuel rod gun. He twisted the arm sharply, and the Hunter moaned as its forearm broke. Argave turned the wide barrel around, and as the Hunter released, the bolt of plasma fired directly at its three companions. One Hunter was hit right in the chest, and was pushed back three metres with the force of the shot. Its two friends were hit by the blast radius, one having the armour on its right side disintegrated by the white-hot heat. The other was dazed temporarily by the explosion, swaying for about two minutes, barely able to keep its balance. Using the distraction, Argave kicked out with his left foot, throwing the broken-armed Hunter onto the ground. As it hit the floor, Argave plunged the scimitar through its visor.
As he looked up, the dazed Hunter fell like a tree, finally overcome by dizziness. It hit the alloy floor with an audible "CLUNK" and lay there, its breath coming in ragged gasps. Argave walked up to it, and pushed the barrel of the MA5B into the back of the Hunter's neck.
"Put this in your pipe and smoke it," he muttered, and five milliseconds later the Hunter knew no more.
Captain Steele moaned as the spinning ban saw-like blade inched its way towards his knee. Strapped down and gagged, all he could do was watch the light glint off the blurring alloy as it cut its way through the table on which he was imprisoned. The pink walls of the interrogation room made his attempted cries for help echo, and standing in the corner of the room ext to the sliding doors stood the interrogator Elite, his arms folded casually across his chest.
"Come now Steele, we both knew this would happen. We both knew that once we gathered the data on that neural chip that your demise would be inevitable. No one is coming to get you and all you can do is watch your death come towards you..."
As always, I hope you enjoyed the story. The fight scenes were set in the following places:
- The fight against the Manreapers (from the last chapter) took place in a hallway, exactly the same as the ones in the Truth and Reconciliation and Keyes. You know the ones with those vents that you can drop down from.
- The fight against the Hunters took place in a room exactly the same as the one in the Truth and Reconciliation, minus those big rectangular box thingie-ma-jigs.
I hope these descriptions helped you, and don't worry, the next chapter will be coming at you very soon...