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Zanzibar-Part 5
Posted By: 343 Salty Beans<hockyfreak5@yahoo.com>
Date: 4 June 2004, 3:47 AM

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Author's Note: If you didn't catch this when I posted this in my last story's comment section, I'm sorry I'm getting so little done. It's finals in a few days (I'm a sophomore in HS) and I'm a California guy who lives next to the beach, and that's already tempting. Plus, I'm working on a website. If you want to complain, send it to hockyfreak5@yahoo.com so I can delete your dumb message.

      Cortana used the relay she had planted to access restricted areas. A file that caught her electronic eye was a folder marked X-Ray clearance only-that was top-level only material.
      She used her superior electronics to bypass the slugcode that was left to defend data (now that the human AI was destroyed, as per the Cole Protocol). Inside was a full schematic of the base, and a group of files marked GEOLOGICAL ANOMALY-001497A. She slipped through more anti-intrusion software, and cracked the encryption code in less than a second.
      The schematics showed extra details of the base, such as mineshafts. Zanzibar had once been a gold mine that etched through the Earth's crust. Once the supplies had been exhausted, ONI had used the old mine to construct a base underground-much like CASTLE on Reach, and "The Hive" in Sydney. When she opened the other files, she found something amazing.
      Pictures showed a giant underground cavern, with a giant reactor-like construct within the center of the map. It appeared to be of Forerunner origin, and matches from her and the Chief's HALO 04 experience confirmed it. Spectroscopic, radiation, and particle analyses were all inconclusive-the structure was of unknown elemental properties. All the ONI knew was that it created massive storms of energy, enough to power a hundred super MAC guns-and they used it for a similar purpose; however, they couldn't siphon the pure energy out of the reactor, so they used inefficient broadcast power to fire the orbital platforms. It had been discovered in 2362, and was under examination ever since then.
      Small Covenant patrols had already been set up, but not enough to dominate the giant complex. She re-opened the channels to the inner security cams, and saw the aliens crawling through every corridor like a contagious disease. Cortana had already formulated a plan, and was only five seconds into processing.
       "Chief, we have a major mission complication."
      John finished off a Grunt, checked his surroundings for more targets, then advanced. "Go ahead."
      "The Covenant have found a Forerunner object that we discovered a long time ago-nearly 200 years." She explained the properties of the reactor. "We need to secure this target, before the Covenant. If they get a hold of this technology, they could power a ship the size of a moon."
      "I assume you already have a plan?"
      The Chief smiled as she replied unabashedly. "Yes, I do. We need to split up. Have Fred, Will, and Kelly continue this mission. You, Grace, and Linda get to the Forerunner artifact and either prevent the Covenant from discovering its secrets, or blowing it to hell."
      John nodded and waved up his team. They proceed through a hatch and came face to face with an angry Elite. It screamed and tried to unholster it's plasma weapon but was cut down by six simultaneous bursts of ammo. A Grunt waddled around the corner, froze as it saw it's leader dead, and five bullet holes appeared in it's chest. It dropped, twitched once, and lay still.
      John accessed the new base schematics Cortana had given him and saw two ways in: through a vent access that looked too small for the Spartans, and through a high-security doorway. The doorway was closer, but it worried John. Three automated chainguns had been in front of the two-meter thick Titanium-A door, with overlapping fields of fire. They hadn't been touched yet by the Covenant, but they looked like a tough deal. He chose the hatch anyway; Cortana could easily get through any ONI security code.
      The armor-clad supersoldiers continued through the base, until they came to an elevator. The Chief keyed his team COM channel. "Fred, you have command of Blue Team. You Kelly, and Will get down to those reactors and get them back online.
       "Grace, Linda-you're with me. We'll go through this hatch and get to that artifact. After this elevator, we go opposite ways. Blue Team, report in every five and relay your status. Use encryption scheme: Jupiter." All his Spartans' acknowledgement lights winked once.
      The elevator might alert any Covenant monitoring his position, so he and Fred pried the door open. A sixty-meter slide awaited them, and they each zipped down the cables to the designated level. Linda looped a foot around the cable and hung upside down with Will. John, Kelly, Grace, and Fred all hung on with a hand and both feet, then nodded. Grace and Kelly peeled the twin hatches apart.
      John scanned the area. Nothing. There were lots of hiding places, though-broken concrete slabs, three hatches adjacent to the elevator door, and plenty of side corridors and hallways any aliens could be hiding in. He held up three fingers and pointed towards the corridor. Linda, Will, and Grace all hopped out of the hatch and immediately took a defensive position.
      "Picking up slight traces of movement," whispered Will. "Could be camoed Elites again."
      John motioned three more fingers. Hopefully, they could get out of the shaft before the Covenant ambushed...
      It was too late. Just as he tensed for the jump, a shadow flickered through the dark hallway. All three of the Spartans outside fired, but the giant beast bulled through them, plunged into the elevator shaft and tackled Fred off the cable.
      "No!" John tried to grab Fred's arm, but the weight of the MJOLNIR suit, Fred, and the Brute itself pulled the two entangled bodies downwards. John wanted to slide down, but he knew there were more aliens to fight. He leapt out of the shaft and put a full clip from his SMG into another Brute-it didn't even slow it down. Bullet holes pockmarked it's chest as it gave a throaty roar and tried to tackle John into the same door he had just got out of. John ducked under it's hairy arm-barely-wheeled around, dropped his SMG and unslung his battle rifle. He put another clip into the monster's unprotected back, and it stumbled, faltered, and plummeted down the shaft. He turned to face four more Brutes and knew he and his Spartans were fighting for their lives.