In the Future: Delta (part one)
Posted By: Agony
Date: 25 April 2007, 4:43 am
(( So, just a little introduction. This is about eighteen years in the future, and by that I mean after Halo 2. I've made some assumptions.
The Covenant, after defeating the Brutes, have joined together again, realizing that they were too interdependant on each other. But they have sworn to stay away from the humans, and go about their buisness in peace.
The humans have reclaimed and made new colonies on outer planets. Spartans are still being trained. This story follows a certain three as they go about their adventures. Obviously I don't own the world, but the characters were created by me. Most of them, except the Master Chief and Cortana.))
2568-May 11-19:25-Somewhere outside Kamloops
Spartan 218-codename 'Apathy'- waited high in a tree for her leader's- Spartan 198, codename Agony- signal, her maroon armor sparkling darkly in the moonlight. She was the team's best sniper, usually supporting the others in the group. At the Spartan-3 training facility in the deep Canadian forest, Delta squad was in a challenging exercise. The three of them had to infiltrate a facility guarded by roughly 40 ODST's (Orbital Drop Shock Troopers), grab three flags- red, blue, and yellow- and bring them back to an extraction point 5 miles away. Apathy was about one mile away from the target base, scoping out the area through her sniper rifle. Agony was sneaking around the back of the base, staying out of sight of the snipers and cannons along the walls. She could see the contrast in his ghostly white armor against the night. And Spartan 213-Oblivion- was hiding under one of the ODST's vehicles as it came in from patrol. She blended perfectly with the environment in her raven-black suit.
This was one of the first exercises using live ammo for delta squad, and they were nervous. They had their MJOLNIR armor, which had plasma shields that could take quite a bit of punishment, but enough firepower could break through them. Under that armor, Apathy had brownish mousy hair with a pink streak on one section of locks, contact lenses on her light green-gray eyes, and fairly pale skin. Agony had short darker brown hair, around his ears, streaked with blonde, deep dark brown eyes, and lightly tanned skin. Oblivion had an in between shade of mahogany to her hair, light brown eyes, creamy skin, and a carefree face. As Apathy reflected on the mission, she nearly missed the signal from Agony.
" 218, do you read? Hey, Apa! Listen up!"
She replied, "Yes, I'm here. Should I proceed with the plan?"
Oblivion's voice came over the COM, " I'm hitched onto their jeep, and ready for the next phase."
Agony spoke again, "I'm also ready, so yes, I guess it's time for the next phase. Waiting on you, Apa." The sniper fired off three shots, taking out two ODST's and an auto cannon on the wall opposite to the one Agony was covering. As the men hit the ground, she saw Oblivion roll out from under an investigating Warthog under the main gates and into the base. She jumped up and hid under the inside of the walls, drawing two SMG's, in the shadows and out of sight. One guard passed by, she leveled her guns at his head, and squeezed the triggers. Bullets whizzed through the air, cutting through his skull. He sagged against a flag bunker as other soldiers moved to respond, more bullets impacting all over the base. Oby stayed hidden in the shadows… firing when no one was looking, ducking behind buildings… While Agony jumped over the wall, raiding the flag bunkers, discreetly assassinating the guards with his regulation pistol and combat knife. Apathy's part was to provide more cover and distraction for them. Through her rifle scope, she saw Agony with the yellow and blue flags, running along the wall, firing constantly, reloading, and ducking behind the red bunker. He scaled it and jumped through the top, the only entrance.
As he dropped down, Agony emptied half of a clip into one guard and threw his knife into the other's face. They both fell backwards against the walls as the Spartan grabbed the tattered, crimson piece of cloth from the center pole of the structure and his knife from one of the guard's faces. He then climbed the ladder up through the roof… and got pelted with a hail of assault rifle bullets. His shields flared up, deflecting in every direction as he jumped from the bunker to the wall, throwing two guards off and then aiming a manual cannon at the ground-level forces.
Sniper shots rang out from behind him, and more guards fell off the walls all around. Apathy was watching his back, he thought, as Oblivion climbed up beside him, firing in all directions, reloading, and firing again. He mopped up the forces in sight on ground level… then heard a voice over the COM.
"Nice work… but we need to get out of here, now! I see three… no, four, pelicans coming in on your position… doors closed. I can't fire into the holds." Apathy cruised over the northwest section of the field, sighting on the four advancing drop ships. She moved to a different position, firing off two shots to lure them away from their destination, the flag base. Oblivion asked over the radio:
"Hey Apa, where are they coming from? I can't see anything!"
"Northwest, over the trees. I'm luring them away from your position… but I can't do this for long. Head to the extraction point."
With that, she cut the COM and ran further east, drawing the ships away as their auto cannon slugs tore through the air. One tore through her suit's shields, going through her shoulder. She rolled behind a tree as the pelicans drew closer, their engines getting louder. She peeked around her cover and saw three of the pelicans head back to the flag base, as the last dropped a squad of 5 marines armed with old-style assault rifles onto the forest floor. The Spartan checked her ammo counter. Two clips of four bullets, eight in total. She also had a battle rifle, having three clips of thirty bullets. Could be worse… or not, she thought as she felt her shoulder wound. Apathy rolled out from behind her tree and fired wildly at the approaching marines with her battle rifle. Three rounds tore through one's torso, and he went down. Another three bit into the head of a marine on the right. Apathy rolled back behind another tree as the marines returned fire. She ducked to the right, trying to get behind them, but her shields flared a warning, showing that she had been hit, but not critically. She shot a glance at where the fire was coming from and saw another squad rushing at her, firing shots into the foliage around her. The Spartan's shields went down again, and the bullets began to bounce off her armor. She ran backwards, firing randomly back at the marines, taking two down and injuring two more before rolling over a fallen tree. She ejected her clip and secured in another. Suddenly Apathy heard more fire around in the forest behind her, but not at her. Screams erupted from a male voice… most likely a marine. She peeked up over her log, scanning with her sniper rifle. Bodies lay everywhere, looking like they were shot from SMG's. It must have been Oblivion. She keyed her COM, and said on team chat: " Thanks guys. Is the extraction point clear?"
Agony replied. "Yeah, I'm here, got the ship ready to go. Where's Oby? Last time I heard from her, she was heading to you."
As soon as Apathy started to respond, a straggled mockery of Oblivion's voice came over the com. "H-hi… I'm f-fine… just a little b-beaten up. Who kn-knew six marines could be s-so much t-trouble?"
Agony then said: "Damn, Apa! How much did you let her take?"
Apathy replied: "Hey, I was pinned down! Agh, never mind. I'll grab her and head to your position. Hold on."
Agony leaned against the side of the dropship, waiting for the girls to get there. He had dodged the pelicans looking for him, but the clearing where he was didn't provide much cover. They'd have to hurry. Suddenly, he heard rustling in the brush on the north side of the clearing. He drew his pistol and fired multiple times, then went to investigate further. It was only a rabbit. Damn… I'm too jumpy. He thought. I have to be more careful. Any more noise could attract those pelicans here.
As if an answer to his statement, an enemy dropship flew overhead, landing on the west side of the clearing and dropping off a payload of three powersuited marines. These powersuits were similar to his own, enhancing strength, but were much less mobile and lacking plasma shields. They also had chainguns attached to the arms of the suit. Agony ducked behind the opposite side of his dropship, hoping that they had not seen him. They hadn't. He snuck around the side, trying to find a position from which to ambush them as they investigated his ship. One tried to enter the main hold and got a knife through the jugular, one of the weak spots on the suit. This marine yelped in pain and fell to the ground crimson liquid exploding from the wound. Agony leaped back as chaingun bullets ripped through the air. He threw his now-bloodied combat knife at the second marine, but it bounced off his armor as easily as water might. Agony's shields flared a warning as the third marine joined fire with the second. He tried to duck behind the dropship, but by the time he was under cover, his shields were down and he was holding a bleeding arm. The Spartan cursed under his breath but rolled over, climbed to the top of the ship with ease, and let loose a clip from his pistol into the second marine. When the suited man recovered from the shots that did impact, but bounced off, Agony was already slicing the back of his legs open with his recovered combat knife. As this marine fell, the Spartan rolled backwards and exchanged fire with the last powersuited man. As his shields fell again with the continuous fire, he rolled at the marine, driving his knife through another weak point, the inner thigh. The man screamed in pain and fell to the ground. Agony pulled off the man's helmet and gave him a mercy shot to the head, then did the same to the second screaming marine. "I'm sorry… you were good men, for Earth, like I am… but this is necessary. If we are to beat the Covenant, we need training."
At this moment, Apathy and Oblivion walked into the clearing, and they all exchanged playful jabs over Oby's wounds and the bodies around them. Suddenly, as they climbed into the dropship, the world swirled and shimmered… morphing into a black room with silver-lined walls. The entire scenario had been a fabricated virtual reality. A holographic image of the Training Center's Artificial Intelligence, Marcus, came into view, his white robes shimmering. "Very impressive, Delta Squad. And very dramatic, Spartan 198." He said with a nod at Agony. "But you have gone outside the parameters of your mission. The Sergeant wants to see you."
2568-May 12-07:33-Spartan 3 Training Center
In the office of their commanding officer, Lieutenant Ravan, Agony stood at attention, though lacking nobility in his stance. He had gone outside the rules of his training mission, being limited to killing only, at most, 10 marines. According to the CO's count, his squad had killed 57. Despite all of this, he seemed to barely contain his excitement at the skill of Agony's team. He stopped chastising him, and also dropped his charade of a tough face.
"Well… I have to say, I'm impressed with your work, Eliot." The Lieutenant used his real name… as he was allowed to out of the field. "You went outside the boundaries of your mission objective, but I'll let that slide, just this once." He let one of his rare smiles loose from his lips. "I also have to report that your new weapons are ready. A new battle rifle, shotgun, retractable knife, and plasma grenades await you in the Armory. For Kyla, there are two brand new Sub Machine Guns, caseless, a salvaged covenant energy sword, and a rocket launcher. Lastly, Scotia now has a brand new sniper rifle, complete with silencer and 30 caliber attachments, a salvaged Covenant Carbine, and a set of Fragmentation grenades."
Agony replied "Thank you, sir. I'm sure my squad will appreciate the new weapons."
"Oh, drop it, child. That's an order." Ravan said.
"Sir, with all due respect, I think it is best that I save the casual… ness… for casual situations. I got the impression that this was a scolding, sir."
"Oh, well, yes, I suppose. Well, never do it again, and stay off my lawn!" The CO said, trying to keep an angry tone, but only succeeding making sarcasm ring through the office.
"Yessir!" Agony said, barely holding back a smile as Ravan dismissed him back to his squad dormitory. The kids selected for the Spartan 3 project were chosen for their strength, speed, and loyalty. Having the squads, male and female members, sleep together had never seemed like a problem. Especially not for Delta squad. They were regularly commended for their teamwork, their coordination, and their communication as a family.
As Spartan 198 entered the dormitory complex, he saw that no lights were on, except for the ones in the mess hall. He checked the device on his wrist for the time, seeing it was 08:03. Part way through Breakfast. He implanted his wrist device into a hole in the wall to the right of the main entrance, disabling the security devices long enough for him to enter and lock the door behind him. He rushed down the sleek halls of the lower dormitories and slid into the mess hall in his socks after removing the formerly worn military boots. The entire area was alight with unfathomable speech and movement of young men and women. Most of the Spartans in the hall were wearing clothes similar to Agony's own; camo-green sleeveless shirts, baggy olive green pants, and wrist devices used to unlock the different sections of the facility, display personal shield levels, and display the wearer's vitals. Each squad usually kept to their own tables, occasionally checking with the others, talking about plans for future missions among the elder squads, future training exercises among the younger, of which he was one.
Oblivion --Kyla-- looked up at Agony as he began to sit at Delta squad's table. Apathy --Scotia-- shoved a dinner tray at him, and he caught it. That morning's breakfast was a delicious maple syrup and a plate of buttermilk waffles. They tended to treat their recruits well at the training facility, on the outside… but every single man and woman in the room dreaded the next day. The day of graduation; when the senior squads moved away, and the older new squads started taking missions, and the youngest teams began the real training… The felt warm now, but they knew, in the morning, the day of true testing would come… and decide their fates.
2568-May 12-08:37-Spartan 3 Training Center Dormitories, Delta Span
"So, did you get the weapons the CO gave us?" Asked Agony to Apathy. She confirmed she had, and laid everything out on Oblivion's bunk. Everyone rushed to their respective guns. Apa began fiddling with her new Carbine, Oby with her rocket launcher, but eyeing the inactivated sword on the bed, and Ag with his battle rifle, switching off the safety and firing a practice shot at a target on the wall. The three rounds fired landed flawlessly in the center of the target. Oby set down her launcher and picked up the hilt of the plasma sword, hitting the power stud as the blades flashed out, glowing with energy.
"Holy hell, if hell were holy!" She cried. "This is freakin' sweet!"
"Wow…" Apa said as she ran over to the other Spartan. "Can I try?"
"Hell no! I wanna try this thing out downstairs!" She ran out the door, heading for the training room a level lower.
"She's excited, isn't she?" Agony said.
"Hmm." Replied Apa, securing a cartridge into her carbine's receiver.
At that moment, a loud alarm bell rang overhead. The two Delta squad Spartans heard booted feet coming down the hall. Spartan 397 –codename 'Druid'- or Sheridan burst through the door, her dark forest-green armor showing her worry in its movements. "We have to move! You already have your weapons, my squad –Zeta- is heading to the armory. CO told me to tell you to get to the hanger after you get your armor. Bye!" And with that, Sheridan blasted down the hall towards the armory.
"Well, you heard her, let's move!" Agony rushed to the closet where they kept their armor. Within minutes, they were both suited up with their weapons slung over their shoulders and on their belts. Then they ran down the hall in the opposite direction Sheridan did, down to the hanger. On their way, they met up with members of different squads, asking about Oby, exchanging greetings, news about the attack… everybody thought it was an advance in the next day's testing, but as the Delta squad members ran down the shaking halls of the dormitories, out onto the field between the buildings, and over to the hanger, they met Lieutenant Ravan. He assured them it wasn't a drill… as a violet shadow blazed through the sky above them. A Covenant Phantom, carrying a payload of Elite-driven Ghosts. This mass of purple alloy dropped off its load of hovering machines, then zoomed out into the sky… as a locust swarm more came over the rooftops, plasma weapons blazing, sizzling a path across the field, towards the Spartans. Suddenly, Ravan collapsed, a gooey hole through his upper-right chest. Agony and Apathy rolled out of the way, getting under cover of trees, numb from their recent experience.
"Oh God…" Scotia said over the COM. "He… he's been with us… training us so long… he can't be dead!"
"I know… but we can't think about it now. Those Ghosts are heading over, and some other Phantoms are dropping off ground squads." Agony said, trying to sink into an emotionless state. Apathy nodded, drew her Sniper Rifle, leveled it to her shoulder, and let loose three shots. The first rang off the shield of a speeding Ghost, the second bit into the fuel supply of the same one, creating a chain reaction that blew out the other Ghosts, 4 grunts, 2 jackals and three Elites from a ground squad, out of the five that were running towards them. The final shot silenced a screaming grunt, angered by the loss of the rest of his squad.
Agony stood (not having enough time to congratulate Apa on her shooting) and drew his rifle, bringing it to bear, firing bursts of bullets at the encroaching Covenant. An Elite returned fire, plasma sizzling off his cover tree as he drew the pin off one of his plasma grenades, hurling it into the fray and ducking behind the burning tree.
It was at this moment he noticed the Armory building was under heavy attack. Zeta Squad (Druid, Spartan 361 –Kayleigh or Warlock-, and Spartan 311 – Justina or Keeper-) was holding them back, but being pushed into the closed space of the Armory. Agony keyed his SQUAD COM, yelling: "Oby, wherever you are, get your ass down to the Armory, Zeta's pinned down! And Apa, keep them away from us!" From Scotia, he got a confirmatory wink of a headlight, and Kyla replied to him:
"On my way, Ag. Just had to pick up a few presents for our guests." Suddenly Agony saw two things: one was the Covenant closing in around Zeta Squad, and the second was blue, violet and emerald blood flying at him and sizzling against his plasma shields. When the blood and dust cleared, he saw Oblivion standing in front of Zeta Squad, fully armored, with a smoking rocket launcher.
"Holy hell! Thanks Oby." Keeper said over SPARTAN COM, her own dark orange armor specked now with the entrails of her enemy.
"No problem. But we'd all better get out of here, look!" She pointed to a new team of Ghosts heading at full speed directly at the five Spartans.
Scotia said, "Hey, the CO's still breathing! I'm gonna go investigate. Don't wait up."
"Apathy, we don't have time! Leave him!" Agony ordered.
"Sir, with all due respect, we need to go! They're almost within firing range!" Oblivion tugged him inside the Armory building and pushed him into a corner where Zeta squad was disappearing into the darkness.
"Sewers, go!" Oblivion yelled, pushing Agony into the concealed hole. As he fell into the pitch-blackness, his thoughts drifted to Scotia, hoping she would be okay… then his head rang, and he thought of nothing.
2568-May 12-09:18-Spartan 3 Training Center Sewers
As light returned to Agony's eyes, he saw Druid, Warlock, and Keeper standing around him, and Oblivion guarding a wide sewer entrance. "Ungh… what happened?"
"You hit your head on the ladder down. Very smooth." He heard from Oby's general direction. His head still rang. "Stay down. Something's coming." She leveled her Sub Machine Guns at the black corridor in front of her, the only entrance to the chamber they were in other than the manhole they had come through.
Not so suddenly, a relatively small man with booted feet and a vest of bullet casings walked past Oblivion and into the chamber, wielding a shotgun and a basic sidearm. "Corporal Lynn, ready to fight some aliens. I guess I really have the highest rank here, but I think I'd rather take orders from Spartans."
"Good to have you, corporal." Oblivion said. "I guess technically, Ag over there is in charge, but he tends to be very down-to-earth."
"Thanks." Agony said. "But we should get moving soon. Won't be long before the covies find us down here." With that, they packed up their weapons, Agony and Lynn grabbing their shotguns for close quarters, Druid pulling out two pistols, Keeper and Warlock grabbing battle rifles, Warlock's earth-toned armor glinting with anticipation, and Oby grabbing her SMG's, and set off through the sewer tunnels. They occasionally tried to contact Scotia, but all they got was static, gunshots, and in one occasion, a "Be … hanger… present… A… cus."
Fifteen minutes through their journey, after their introductions to Lynn, the group heard cloven footsteps around a bend in the tunnels. "Get down!" Warlock yelled as they all dove to the side of the tunnel. After they were all concealed, they saw a hunter-killer squad of black clad elites, carrying weapons that the humans had never seen before. These weapons looked like living insects, twitching upon their three-fingered hands, and were as black as Agony's prior unconsciousness.
Corporal Lynn raised his weapon at the head of the nearest elite as it passed him, unseeing. Oblivion put it down with her hand, saying with a glance: don't do it. We can't give away our position. Lynn reluctantly stayed still. Suddenly he drew a Fragmentation grenade from his belt, pulled the pin from it, and tossed it at the backs of the Elite patrol. They, as one, leaped away from the explosion, turned around, and fired black globs of goo from their weapons. One impacted on Agony's right arm, solidifying and exploding into wine-black shards that dug through his shields and into his flesh. He screamed out in pain.
"Agony!" Yelled Oblivion as she opened fire, bullets tearing through the inferior shields of the enemy elites and dodging to the right as another absence of colour flew past her. Corporal Lynn and Zeta squad also opened fire, Lynn blasting an alien away with a shotgun to the head, Druid pinning one down with her pistols. Three remained. Warlock removed the weapon from one of their hands, and brought down its shield by hitting it with the butt of her weapon. Keeper rolled over from her position and bit into the heart of the same Creature with her rifle. At that point, Agony rose, holding his shotgun in one hand, spinning it on his finger, and removing the head from a charging Elite's body.
The final Elite warbled in the Spartan's own tongue, struggling to say as he drew a plasma sword, similar to Oby's own: "Die! The parasite spread. You die. Poject fail. Sprrrrtan die!"
Oblivion drew her own glowing weapon, parrying a strike and thrusting at the Elite's side. It slid off the alien's shields as it jumped to the right… getting a large hole through his chest. As it collapsed, Corporal Lynn stood there, a dramatically smoking shotgun in his hands. "You're welcome." He said.
"Yeah. Thanks for saving me from a battle you started." She replied, a drop of venom in her voice… but she quickly apologized and gave him an understanding punch on the shoulder. At this moment, all of them heard a buzzing coming down the tunnels behind them.
"Frack! Drones! We need to move!" Agony yelled over the newly added TEAM COM, including Zeta Squad and Lynn into the channel, instead of their regular SQUAD COM. They all bolted down the sewer tunnels, the buzzing ever getting closer behind them. Suddenly, they came to a ladder, leading up into blazing sunlight. Agony went up first, being pushed by the others to help his wounded arm. He came out into a clearing, ringed with trees except for an open side overlooking the Training facility. Strangely, there were no Phantoms or other flying craft in the sky, no Covenant vehicles on the ground. Not even a small patrol. No even slight sign of activity except for the passing drones under the team as Oblivion emerged… though Agony noticed that Oby had not been last in line… and Warlock was missing. "What happened? Where's Kayleigh?" He asked.
Kyla only answered with a sad shake of her head, saying: "She's gone. Taken by the drones."
2568-May 12-10:06-Eastern Clearing
The sun shone bright that morning, but to Delta and Zeta Squads, the meadow looked overcast and cold. "We should get moving… check out the facility. See where everyone went." Said the unaffected Corporal. "I know how you feel, it's happened to me, but we can't just sit here forever!"
"He's right." Said Druid, gathering herself. " Kayleigh was my friend, my sister. She died covering for us. Now get up."
Keeper was the second to rise. She put one hand on an armored hip, ran over to Agony and Oblivion, and pulled them both up with one hand. As they all arose, made sure their weapons were loaded, and began to trot down the hill overlooking the Training Center, they saw an armored figure with a long rifle leaning against a nearby tree. "Apa!" Agony and Oblivion yelled in unison.
The figure turned towards them, holding a place on their stomach. As it came out of the shadows, it revealed a burning hole in the armor. "H-hey guys… the CO g-gave me something… uhhh…" And with that, she fell forward. Lynn ran forward, picked her up, and propped her up against a tree in the sunlight. At that her non-rifled hand fell open, and a small square of metal slid into the grass. She whispered… "It's Marcus… CO gave it to me… goes in a slot behind the ear."
"Marcus? Hmm…" Agony said as he picked up the data chip and inserted it into his helmet. At this moment he felt a sense of vertigo, the world turning upside-down, and a sense of coolness in the back of his mind. "Hi Marc." He said, turning off his COM.
"Hello Spartan 198." Replied the AI from inside Agony's head. "How goes the invasion?"
"Not so well. They chased us through the sewers, and when we got out here, they were gone."
"Hmm, that does not bode well. The Covenant never just leave. They must have taken something or left something behind."
"Good Idea. I'll send Corporal Lynn, Druid, and Oby to check out the facility."
Agony keyed his COM again, saying that he would stay here with Keeper and Apathy, so they could keep the wounded safe. In half-an-hour or more, the adventuring team was back.
Lynn reported. "No Covies. Anywhere. But we did find some stuff in the labs. A suit of armor… could I... I umm… use i-"
"Go ahead. Makes sense that the only unarmored one should get new equipment." Agony replied.
"Thank you!" He exclaimed happily. "Oh, yeah. There was something else in the lab there. Didn't look like anything of ours. Big container thing. Want to check it out?"
"Yeah, I think I will. Might be some Biofoam there to seal up my arm and Apa's…everything. In fact, we'll all go. If what you say is right, we'll be safe." With that, the team picked themselves up and trudged down the hill.
2568-May 12-10:41-Spartan 3 Training Center Research Span
Keeper led the way through the darkened research building, the light on her battle rifle reflecting off test tubes and experiments. Suddenly, she stopped. "Here it is!" She said, gesturing to an octagonal prism of steel, unopened.
Agony walked over, fingering the locking switch. "It may not be ours… but this mechanism is extremely similar. Think we should open it up?" He asked to the other members of the team. The general consensus was to see what was inside, though they all seemed to be wary of the object. Agony hit a button and the top slid off… revealing a dozen wriggling pod-like creatures that burst out of the container and climbed over Spartan 198, heading directly to his neck seal, a weak point in his armor. Druid opened fire with both quickly drawn pistols, not even grazing Agony's shields as the pods exploded upon him. As Sheridan cursed at the need to reload her weapons, Eliot shook off one creature and crushed it with a boot, then threw the last on his body at the wall. Instead of exploding, the horrible thing landed softly and skittered across the floor under the counter.
"Get down!" Oblivion yelled as she raised both her weapons at the hiding spot and opened fire. The bullets impacted, creating enough noise to scare the pod out, skittering across the floor. A trail of fire followed it, severing a rope attached to what looked like a door. The door slid open as the creature exploded, no trace left. The team exchanged looks and began to descend down the stairs the hatch had revealed… and at the bottom, rows upon rows of the same containers stood, great columns of the prisms slowly quivering due to the movement inside.
"Oh… my… God…" Lynn said. "There are so many… but at least now we know what the Covenant were doing here."
Marcus piped up over TEAM COM. "This would be quite a bit of trouble if these were unsealed." At that moment they team heard a small clicking noise from behind some of the containers. "I am picking up signals from that direction… connecting wirelessly to each of these barrels."
"That's bad. They could remotely release all of these monsters! We need to take out whatever is making that signal." Agony said.
For the first time in a while, Apathy spoke up; "Thank you, Captain Obvious."
Agony gave her a non-serious glare, then turned towards the clicking noise, asking Marcus to pin its position down. As the group headed toward the sound, it grew louder, and louder, until they rounded a container column and found a woman, just shorter than the Corporal, with back-length raven hair and light, creamy skin, tinkering with a detonator… set for 00:30 seconds. She screamed: "Help me! We need to stop this thing… all those monsters… they'll all come out!" By the time she had finished, the timer was down to 00:23.
"There's no time! Everybody MOVE!!" Agony yelled and pulled the woman up onto her feet. She grabbed a nearby bag, clanking as the entire group moved through the rows of containers. Finally they reached the exit stairs, and heard millions of sliding sounds, coming from all over the chamber. The containers nearest to them released a swarm that swam over the floor and up Druid's legs.
"Aggh! Don't… don't wait up!" She said as she fired madly at the encroaching swarm. Agony nodded sadly, tears behind his faceplate as he threw a grenade into the fray, a last attempt to help her and slow the sickly gray creatures down. Realizing Druid was lost, the group ran up the stairs, into the lab building, not bothering to look behind. As they turned a corner in the hallway, Keeper yelled.
"Oh my god…" A hideous deformed version of one of her dorm-mates, Stephen, stood in front of her. His form looked the same colour as the monstrous creatures, his head cocked to one side, tentacles sprouted from his arms. He made a sound, like a labour to breathe, and flailed his arm, smacking Keeper's helmet, sending her flying across the hall. The others in the party instinctively opened fire, having the creature down within seconds. In this moment's pause, the swarm of creatures had caught up to them.
"Justina, we need to go! Come on!" Lynn pulled her up and they bolted down to the exit door to the rest of the team, the pod creatures at their heels. As she burst into open daylight, Oblivion wheeled around, drawing her rocket launcher, and fired a round at the door, collapsing the hall.
"That should slow them down." She said confidently.
"Or… not." Commented the woman. They all turned at the open field between the buildings, seeing hundreds of the horrible deformed humans, shambling about without goals… until seeing the group of humans. They all turned, with one mind, leaping ten feet into the air, landing, and charging at the six survivors.
"Holy frack…" Agony quoted from an old television show he had seen. "Everybody move! Now!" He said and they did, cutting down the creatures in their way, sprinting harder than they ever had before. The Spartans started gaining on the two unaugmented humans, especially the woman with her bag that she refused to part with, so Keeper picked up Lynn, Oblivion picked up the woman, and Agony took the bag with his unwounded arm. They finally reached the hanger building, shoving aside one of the creatures, and collapsed into two Warthog jeeps, with Agony and Apathy laying down in the side seats, Oblivion and the woman insisting on driving, and Lynn and Keeper manning the machine gunner positions. The two vehicles burst out through the door of the hanger, and Lynn opened fire on the millions of pod-like infection forms, as Marcus identified them.
"Yes, the Flood." He said through Agony's helmet speakers so that the woman (who was lacking a communications set) could hear. "Parasitic creatures that infect the host to be its vessel. That would be what happened to Spartan 371, or Stephen, as you know him. I thought they were all destroyed with the Halo Rings."
"Yeah, well, apparently not!" Corporal Lynn yelled as he let out another volley from his large weapon.
"No need to get snippy." The AI replied. "Oh, be careful of that Combat form, Corporal!" At that, one of the bipedal Flood jumped onto the jeep with Lynn, Agony, and Oblivion riding it, but Agony shot it off with his shotgun, spinning it on his good arm to pump more rounds into the firing chamber.
Agony then yelled through his speakers. "Oblivion! Can you and her step on it, please? We need to get the hell out of here. And Keeper, Lynn! Suppressive fire on the left side!"
Oblivion spun the wheel to the right, plowing through the British Columbia trees. The great wave of Flood was closing in behind them, but she wasn't worried. She glanced over to the other Warthog beside her, being driven by the mysterious woman… very expertly. "Hey… umm… Do you have a name? We have to know what to call you if you're going to be a death mate with us!" She yelled over.
The woman replied: "My name's Cecilia. Codename: Devastation."
"Cool. Watch up ahead, there's an abandoned military base there, wouldn't want to run into it."
"Got it. Think we could use it as cover?"
"I don't think so. The Flood will just overrun us again… but I think I know a place. Turn left around the military base, then follow me when we reach Kamloops."
Cecilia nodded and spun her wheel left, disappearing out of sight as Oblivion went right around the base the ODST's had occupied in their mission a day ago. After a matter of minutes the flood had crushed the base under their wake, the Warthogs had reached the city, spinning through the streets, and the guns on the back had run out of ammunition.
"Damn it!" Lynn and Keeper yelled as their weapons stopped firing.
"What's going on?" Called Agony up to the others.
"Either a jam or I'm empty!" Keeper replied.
"Me too!" Said Lynn.
"Crap… No spares at all?" They shook their heads. "Okay, draw your weapons and hold them off as best you can." Both gunners drew their longest-range weapons and began firing at the giant wave of sickly gray as it hit the city.
"Oh my god… we just doomed all these people…" Apathy said weakly, gesturing at the buildings around them, jolting as Cecilia turned to dodge a passing car. "We can't just leave them to die. Marcus, patch me in to the communications net around here."
"Of course, Spartan 218." Said Marcus.
Apathy said something unintelligible from the team's point of view, and suddenly they saw entire families pack into their vehicles and begin driving alongside the two Warthogs. Suddenly, the great fleeing caravan halted at the base of the lake before them. Agony saw the many families beside them evacuate their vehicles and rush to the many boats along the beach.
"Hey, if we want to get outta here, we'd better get one of these things for ourselves!" Devastation said, gesturing to a sleek white vehicle being taken by a family of six in front of them.
"Sounds like a plan," Agony said. "Okay, Lynn, Keeper, Dev, guard that boat! Oby, Apa and I will stall for time." He pointed to a black six-seating boat twelve meters to the right, as Marcus pointed out.
As the team moved to their positions and began generally clearing the area, people started swarming over the first squad's position, screaming for evacuation. "Calm down!" Lynn yelled over the crowd, firing a warning shot from his sidearm into the sky.
"Hold your damn fire!" Cecilia said and pulled his weapon from him, clicking on the safety. "We want to keep them under control, not kill them!"
Back at the second position, Delta Squad stood in awe at the horrible apocalyptic wave of creatures descending upon the city. Apathy raised her rifle, looking through the attached sniper scope and firing off a few random shots. "There is no way we're going to be able to stop those things." She said gravely.
"Yeah… we might need a change of plans. Frack." Agony said.
"Demolitions anyone?" Oblivion said, drawing her Rocket Launcher.
"I don't think even if you used all of your rockets you would even slow them down."
"Might as well try. May I?"
Agony sighed. "Go ahead."
Kyla drew a smile across her faceplate with a finger, and then used the same finger to trigger two rockets zooming across the sky towards the torrent of monsters.
Then she reloaded and fired again as the first two impacted. Then, as the last two hit the still-giant wave, she cursed. "Damn it! Didn't even slow them down!"
"Told you." Agony said smugly.
Apathy interrupted them, backing away slowly. "Hey, umm… I think it should be running time. Fast running!" and with that, she bolted back to the first squad's position, not even glancing back at the Flood… as it crashed down upon Eliot and Kyla.
2568-May 12-12:02-Kamloops Beach
As Scotia ran/limped to the boat, she saw that the crowd had left in search of other evacuation methods. Lynn asked: "Where are the others?"
"The Flood are right behind me!" She said, ignoring the question. "We have to launch!"
Lynn nodded to Devastation, who was at the driver seat of their water vehicle, and she hit the acceleration hard as the Corporal and Apathy dove in beside Keeper, zooming out across the water… but the Flood didn't stop at the beach. The Bipedal ones leaped across the distance, barely touching the water before they exploded up again, and the small ones continued to skitter over the liquid. "Damn, I wish I had some armor. I'm dead if they board us."
"Actually, you do. Have armor, I mean." Said Cecilia from the driver's seat. "Check out my bag."
The marine quickly crossed the space between him and her bag on the seat diagonal from him and excitedly pulled it open. It contained two suits of wine-black advanced power armor… and Lynn yelped with joy, quickly securing on one of the helmets. "Put on the rest, hurry! I'm gunning this thing as hard as I can, but they're still catching up!" Dev yelled.
The Corporal was happy to oblige. When he was fully suited up, he drew his pistol and began to fire at the incoming swarm. Apathy and Keeper soon followed suit. Over the gunfire, Keeper asked: "Hey, you didn't tell us; what happened to Ag and Oby?"
Suddenly, a Combat Form jumped onto their vehicle, but Lynn blew it away with his now-drawn shotgun. He saw why it had come so close to their vessel. There was another boat releasing fire from the back. A beautiful unarmored woman with neck-length dark purple hair and flashing brown eyes was manning the attached weapon. Even from the distance, Apathy's enhanced eyes could read the dog tags flapping about her neck in the wind. "Private Gehrig." She said.
"Hey… I met her! A long time ago, in training!" Lynn yelled out.
"Yeah. Hi Tyler." The Private said as her boat swung up beside theirs. Though the strange thing was; there was no driver. The boat just moved on it's own. Gehrig noticed the stares that got her. "AI's. Handy people. Mine's named Dana. She's got her own image projector, too." She yelled over the constant whine of automatic weapons.
"Impressive." Keeper called back. "Watch your head!" And fired off a burst from her rifle at a pod flying over the water at the Private, creating a small explosion that made her avert her eyes.
"Yeah. There's no way we can take them all out with our current supply of ammo, though. We're going to need to head back to Zanzibar."
"Zanzibar? You mean the abandoned Military base?" Cecilia said.
"Not so abandoned right now… damn it, watch out!" Private Gehrig screamed as a Combat Form landed in the dead center of Cecilia, Keeper, Lynn, and Apathy's boat. The hideous form of a human peered at them with sunken eyes… and suddenly made it's move, throwing Keeper over the edge of the boat, taking her rifle and throwing it directly through the driver's chair with force enough to explode through the other side of Devastation's chest, only the barrel of the weapon showing. "Okay, screw this!" The Private swung her gun around and mowed the Flood form down. "We need to get to Zanzibar NOW, we might still be able to save her!"
Lynn, trying to stay emotionless, pulled Dev out of the driver's seat and took it himself, telling Apathy to bring Keeper back in the boat and hitting the throttle to full again… just as the first of the Infection pods hit. Suddenly, there were swarming pods everywhere, the Corporal pushing out his hand into nothing. Finally, sharp, jabbing pains appeared all over his body, and his vision began to fade to black…
2568-May 17-23:11-Kamloops Sewers
Agony awoke to darkness, looking around and seeing only ruin and wreckage… and Kyla. She was laying under a pile of dead Combat forms, her weapons in pieces around her. He also saw that she was bleeding from several places on her belly, arms and legs, but he was mostly untouched except for his prior wounded arm and a shallow cut through his armor at the waist. The male Spartan pulled himself up out of a pile of metal and stone, then tried to salvage what he could from the fragments of weapons around him after pulling Kyla out of her corpse pile. A chipped combat knife was all he found that was useful.
Eventually, after hours of conversation with Marcus, Kyla pushed herself onto her feet. "What happened? Last thing I remember is Scotia's back."
"I think it was the Flood. They caught up to us."
"Then why aren't we dead?"
"I may be able to answer that, Spartan 213." Marcus said over LOCAL COM. "You see, the Flood do not have eyes, so they use the vibrations in the earth made by victims to hunt. At the time, Spartan 218 was making enough vibration to mask your presence, so they went right over you, destroying the ground and making you fall into these blocked-off sewers.
"Oh. Thanks Marcus." Agony said, tapping his helmet where Marcus rested. "Hey, we'd probably get going. The others could be hurt, or, if they're not, they're probably worried about us. Or we could just contact them on the COM…"
"Walking sounds good to me, but I already tried the COM before I got up. It didn't work." Oblivion replied and began to walk around to the only unblocked exit to the sewer tunnel around them. Then she moved forwards into the darkness.
2568-May 25-06:05-Zanzibar Military Outpost
An unarmored Lynn opened his eyes slowly… to Justina's light-brown face, hair, and a blank medical room, in which he was lying on a bed. She smiled and lifted him upright, her own bare hands feeling good on his skin. "Heya… how's a goin', Corporal?"
"Call me Shadow." He replied weakly.
"Say what?" The Spartan replied.
"It's a codename, to go with my new armor… where is my armor anyway? And what about Dev? And where's your armor?
Keeper's tone became grave. "Cecilia… she…" But suddenly her voice wavered, and her face cracked, and she burst out into laughter, seeing the Corporal's grieving face. "No, she's fine!" She said. "But your face was hilarious!"
Lynn hit her lightly. "Jerk. Now where are we, and how did we survive?"
Justina smiled. "Oh, that's easy. We're at Zanzibar, under command of Sergeant Rollands, and we survived because as the Flood boarded us, you drove us into a rock, it flipped us over, and the boat exploded. Dev took a few more hits when flying through the wind shield, but we were able to pull you both to shore safely."
"Okay, that's all good, but what about the Flood? Where are they?"
"Oh, that's easy. Dana told me that the human race has been taking post-cautions since the destruction of the Halo rings. Maybe some of the Flood survived, they thought, so they planted anti-Flood emitters all over the world. They give out some kind of signal that repels the bastards. So, they're all out on the water, just waiting for us to leave. That answer all your questions?"
"Yeah, thanks. Can I get up now?" Justina nodded as Lynn swung his legs over the side of his bed and took a testing stroll around the bare room. When he was done, he said, "So, what's this Zanzibar like?"
"Come on, I'll show you!" The Spartan said and pulled the Marine out into a bustling hall, full of scientists and rushing soldiers. Among them he saw Private Gehrig.
"Good to see you up and about, sir!" The olive green-clad woman said with a mischievous smile.
The youthful Private slapped a hand over Lynn's mouth. "Hey, no-one here knows my first name, and I'd rather keep it that way."
"Just because." At this, Justina decided that she should go and Gehrig could show the Corporal around.
"Yeah, I'll see you later, bye!" The Spartan ran off as the Private turned to Lynn.
"Wanna join me on my run?" She asked. Lynn nodded and they were off. They jogged across the field, going around the central windmill, the outlook tower, the first base, and along the outer stone wall. From there, they went around, up the outlook tower, and across into the main base via a central bridge. After that, they ran down through the base, coming out, running along the ground and jumping through the windmill, timing it well enough to avoid the blade. Suddenly, the Private stopped, turned, and jumped back into the mill… directly in the path of the blade. She used her booted foot to block the sharp part, and put the other beside it, spinning upright to grab the blade as it continued to make its circuit.
"What the hell are you doing, Private?" Lynn yelled.
"I do this every morning, don't worry! And c'mon, do you really think rank would work on me, Tyler?" Gehrig replied and twirled away from her ever-vertically increasing position, landing again on the central bridge. "I told you, don't worry!"
"I'll give you three…two… and…" Suddenly, the Windmill stopped turning, the hinge loosened, and the entire thing came crashing down, taking some of the bridge with it. The Private leaped backwards, hand-springing onto a safe area. "'Don't worry', eh?" The Corporal retorted. Gehrig's face lit up with terror.
"No. This is bad. Look!" She pointed down to the wreckage… and a cracked bulb on a metal rod. "That's the emitter! Everybody GET TO YOUR STATIONS!" She screamed up into the air. All around men and women grabbed weapons as the first of the Flood jumped over the wall. There were an assortment of deformed children on the front lines… and that disturbed the repelling marines.
To raise confidence, the Corporal yelled for everybody to hold their ground, punching aside a Flood form, without a weapon of his own. Suddenly, the Private was beside him, handing him a modified sidearm and firing with her own. Bullets whizzed around their heads along with the brown-olive blood of the Flood, and people began to retreat back to the main compound, under the cover of autocannons.
But the hideous creatures would not relent. They just kept coming, and dying, and coming again. Lynn stopped firing, realizing it was hopeless, and ran towards the oncoming horde. "Sir, what the hell are you doing? Get your ass back here! Sir!" He heard Private Gehrig yell. As he ran into the battlefield again, Flood forms fell and popped left and right. The Corporal finally saw his objective; the emitter. He seized his prize, but stopped suddenly. Everything seemed to blur, to meld into one wound; a bullet wound. In his side. Lynn fell forward, the broken emitter flying out of his hand. He managed to stagger out a few words.
"Some…somebody… take this… g-get it fixed!" Lynn squeaked, but Private Gehrig was the only one to answer. She dove into the fray, weaving, shooting her weapon, reloading, shooting, and diving again. Eventually she reached the fallen Corporal and the emitter.
"C'mon, we're getting you out of here!" She lifted him up onto his feet, slinging his arm over her shoulder and grabbing the emitter with her other hand. In this position, she tried to walk back to the base, but stumbled over the corpse of a Combat form and again the rod and ball flew through the air… this time into the hands of a guarded scientist who bolted inside to the subterranean labs. "Damn it!" The Private said and scrambled to her feet, drawing her weapon and Lynn's. She pulled both triggers, and bullets erupted through the air, again towards the mass of Flood ever encroaching. She screamed out: "Die you bastards! DIE!" Her hands bounced around with the recoil of her weapons, but she did not stop. It seemed to the Corporal that her ammo was boundless. He stood up, trying his best to ignore the pain in his side, seizing a single-shot rifle from a nearby corpse, clicking off the safety, and creating his own fire to match the Private's. Together along with the autocannons, they were able to hold off the great behemoth of pods and Combat forms long enough for the scientist to return with a patched-up emitter.
He threw it to a marine, who quickly planted it into the ground, connecting it to main power, and did one of the most foolish things anyone had ever done. Misunderstanding the emitter's function, he rushed forward, yelling: "Yeah, how does it feel, bastards? Want some more? Huh?" He ran after the fleeing Flood, shooting out wildly until reaching the beach… out of the emitter's radius. Lynn and Gehrig followed him, trying desperately to explain that the device repelled the Flood, not killed them… but the two Marines were too late. They were forced to watch as the Man on the beach was ripped apart, his broken body bored into by a pod… and reanimated to be a Combat form.
"Oh my god…" Both living humans said together. "Okay, we need to… we need to…" Lynn started.
"SCREW THAT!" Private Gehrig yelled, dropping her unloaded weapons and grabbing the Corporal's rifle, firing randomly and rapidly into the waiting wave just one meter away from her… but every shot was avoided. Like some supernatural force was protecting them, the Flood always found somewhere to sidestep or hop out of the way of each shot. "Stay still! Damn it!" She lowered her weapon, having to reload and realizing her attack was hopeless.
"Hey… it's alright." Lynn rubbed her back warmly, acting the big brother. "I realize he was one of your friends… but I'm starting to think I'm the only person who understands war around here. People die. It's stupid. We have to go on." The young Private heeded Lynn's words. As they walked back well inside the emitter's radius, they saw Apathy, Keeper, and Cecilia, who was resting in a wheelchair. "There you guys are!" Lynn called and rushed over to them. "Cecilia, Scotia, how are you?"
"It hurts every once and a while… but then they drug me up, and I feel fine." Devastation answered, fingering the hole in the upper-right of her chest.
Apathy also confirmed her own good health. "I'm okay too. My belly wound isn't that bad, so Biofoam is the only thing I need."
"Good to hear. Now, after that, I'd say we deserve some R and R. Anyone agree?" Lynn said, melding into his new leadership role perfectly.
"Hey, I'm all for that, but the CO here wants us right now." Keeper said. "Shall we?"
2568-May 25-07:08-Zanzibar Commanding Officer's Span
Thus, they all ended up in Sergeant Rollands' office, discussing a rescue mission to the other anti-Flood emitters and Agony and Oblivion.
"Sir, I really think we need to dispatch a team to search Kamloops. Agony and Oblivion will be valuable assets to our operations." Keeper argued.
The Sergeant answered. "I understand that you care about your fellows, but you are assuming they survived the Flood crash. I will not give you any of my men for a suicide mission back into that hell hole!"
"Then only we will go!" Lynn countered.
"Hey, I'm not missing out on any of the action!" Private Gehrig insisted.
"I told you no." Rollands said. "All of my efforts have to be concentrated on the larger civilian bases, not two dead soldiers! Now all of you are dismissed to your quarters. GO!" The soldiers against the Sergeant grudgingly walked out of the room… and they slowly but understandingly nodded at each other. They would meet each other in the night and fly to the main shore.
2568-May 27-09:44-Unidentified Tunnel
Kyla had been walking for days through the sewers, maybe a week. Suddenly, she and Eliot had found an empty reservoir… with a clean-cut tunnel, looking like it had been made with plasma, on one side. They decided to venture into it, going for miles upon miles… they could not even begin to guess where they were. A day ago, they had seen a light ahead, perhaps the end of the tunnel. At maximum zoom in their helmets, they still could not see what was there.
But the light grew brighter with every step they took. So the two Spartans did everything they could, using fallen food they had scrounged from the wreckage of houses, looting a ruin for a stun rod and duck-hunter's rifle, jogging to maximize efficiency, and not talking to conserve energy.
Suddenly, Agony slipped, grabbing Oblivion's hand… but their shields crackled against each other, creating no friction. He fell… into something. A drain. Kyla could not see where it led. "Agony! What happened? Hey, Eliot!" She called into the hole.
To her relief, he answered back. "Yeah, yeah, I'm fine. Just a little bruised, maybe. There's another tunnel down here… the same light you see up there is at the end. Meet you on the other side in say… 20 hours?"
"Got it. Synced?"
"Synced." He said, and she heard boot steps going off into the distance. After a while, when she herself was walking through the tunnel, she tried to raise her leader on the COM… but got nothing but static.
"Damn it!" She said and bashed a hand on the nearby wall. "Whatever this tunnel is made of, it must block radio transmissions, which is why we couldn't reach the others before. I'll just have to keep walking." So she kept walking… and eventually, she strolled out into the day.
2568-May 28-05:41-Unidentified Beach
Oblivion burst out into the sunlight, onto a golden-sanded beach, looking around… and seeing only the dead bodies of Elites, Grunts, Jackals, and the occasional Hunter. "What happened here?" She said to herself. "Oh well… whatever it was, it was good for me!" She scrambled around for a weapon to use other than the duck-hunting rifle strapped to her back. Most of the bodies were already stripped, but she did find a hidden plasma pistol and a fuel rod cannon from one of the arms of a Hunter. "This thing is sweet!" She powered up the pulsating green weapon and fired a practice shot at the overhanging cliff where her tunnel ended. Part of the rock exploded into fragments that rained down around her.
"Kick-ass!" She said. Suddenly, she heard a crash further on, sounding like a footstep at the cliff's level, and she quickly took cover behind a shard of stone perfectly shaped for her to easily slip around and fire if she needed to. A few moments later, the crashing got nearer, and a large robotic foot came into view, slamming in front of Kyla. Suddenly, the rest of the behemoth of metal appeared.
It slightly resembled a bug, she thought as she dodged a foot that crushed her cover rock. It looked like a bug except for the fact that it had four legs… and rapid-fire plasma cannons, coupled with the giant plasma-cannon-head. The smaller two of the three opened fire, and melted sand sprayed all around Oblivion as she tried desperately to dodge the blasts. Suddenly she was chased in range of the large cannon… and it charged up. "Oh my g-" She tried to say, but a bolt of plasma melted through her shields, into her obsidian armor, and out the other side of her right leg. Luckily and unluckily, it cauterized the wound, no blood spilling out, but that just made it hurt all the more.
Kyla crawled pathetically away from the charging cannon above her, but anyone nearby could have seen the futility of her actions. Suddenly, out of the sky, a pelican dropship passed over the horrible bug-like thing, autoturrets blazing a path in the creature's hull. It turned around, it's cannon pointing into the sky… and it released its charge at the ship streaking through the sky. The Pelican swerved to the side, avoiding the fatal blast, but only barely. Kyla took this chance to crawl over to one of the machine's legs, using her plasma pistol to burn hand and footholds.
When she reached the bug's knee, or what she thought was a knee, she used her pistol to try and burn through it. When she was nearly all the way through, the leg collapsed under the weight and Kyla dropped from her holds, pushing off with her one good leg, and then there was darkness.