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The Second Revolution: Intro
Posted By: Archangel_7<xx_74_xx@hotmail.com>
Date: 9 June 2011, 9:33 pm

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      Sunlight broke over the peaks across the valley, spreading thin tendrils of light through the thick, furrowed canopies lining the horizon. The branches of the bowed and swayed in the breeze, speckling the yellow dawn sky with small, hectic motions. The sun's brilliance lasted only for a moment, until the wind pulled another drowning veil of smoke up from the still-unlit crevasse. Damien watched through a gap as the dark cloud rose, his breath still heavy, his limbs still tensed. Smoke rolled upward and dissipated without disturbance. Relieved, he exhaled quickly and took note of the time: 0642 Standard, 0842 Local. Wary, he stepped from the underbrush concealing his broad form. The IR and motion tracker displays on his HUD showed no activity, but his eyes still darted from tree to tree, taking in even the smallest movements as he surveyed his immediate surroundings. Things seemed quiet for the time being.

      Damien slipped onto the thin path, sweeping his rifle toward the west for a moment before turning and striding with silent footsteps to the east. The cluttered vegetation soon gave way to an overhang where Damien figured he would have his best look at the wreckage. He stopped and knelt at the edge, gazing down the sloped wall of the valley toward the massive, burning hulks of alloy lining its bottom. Small jets of neon flame rose from torn fuel lines. Glowing coolant bubbled from the holes sheared in their hulls by multiple shaped warheads. The missile pods had certainly done their damage.

      "Execute, activate, Optic One." A window appeared on his HUD, smart-linked to the 6-20x camera mounted on his helmet. "Initiate, script, Starlight." The window glowed pale green as the camera's light-enhancement feature was activated. Damien adjusted his head, scanning the crash sites with a careful eye. He found no flutters of movement, no signs of life. "Execute, deactivate, Optic One." Satisfied, he swung his rifle onto the magnetic panel on his back and found a seat on a nearby boulder, among the massive fronds of some ferns.

      "Execute, activate, radio. Set, channel four-oh." A prompt scrolled to the center of his HUD.

      Encryption Key?

      He heard a small hiss of static before the line cleared and a familiar deep voice broke the silence.
      "This is Command. Talk to me."
      "Command, this is Sierra Zero-Four-One-Six. Trap's been sprung. The Covenant's flight has been permanently delayed. Sector Four secure, for the moment."
      "Outstanding, Spartan. Outstanding. But plans for extraction have changed. I want you to link up with Third Platoon at LZ-Delta immediately for extraction. Intelligence reports movement of Covenant ranged anti-air in the area, so your timeframe will be limited to fifteen minutes from now. Any further updates will be relayed electronically."
      "Roger, Command. Zero-Four-One-Six, out." As the signal hissed away, he added, with a whisper: "And don't call me 'Spartan.'"

      Standing, Damien emerged from the ferns and took one last look at the horizon, with the climbing white disk of the nearby star now visible among the tree trunks. He de-polarized his visor, letting the heat wash across his face, and closed his eyes. He inhaled, filling his lungs deep, and exhaled slowly. One moment of peace, and then he set off into the dark forest, a blurred streak of emerald now evaporating into the black.

      Although encased in half a ton of alloy, the Spartan-III's footsteps fell nearly silently, deftly avoiding as many fallen branches and puddles as his considerable reflexes would allow. Though narrow and strewn with vines and branches, Damien knew the footpath well. His experience came in handy, since the trail snaked through what was now enemy territory.

      Warning: Exiting PERIMITER: SECTOR 3

      Damien continued running, ignoring the words on his display as he ducked beneath a low-hanging branch. His motion tracker showed movement to the south. His instincts pressured him to stop and observe, but consciously he knew any hesitation now could mean his life or the lives of the Marines waiting to secure his extraction. Though he was alert, he held firm confidence in his ability to outrun the patrols along the perimeter. Minutes passed. The blips on his motion tracker faded as the path twisted northward.

      Entering PERIMITER: SECTOR 3. ID S-0416 Confirmed.

      A network of mines, emplaced machine guns and missiles hidden among the thick vegetation now provided a buffer between Damien and the Covenant. He accelerated, relieved as the hill overlooking LZ-Delta now loomed a few hundred meters ahead. But at that moment, he heard an urgent chime in his ear. Coming to a halt in the wet clay, he waited for the incoming transmission. A pit opened beneath his stomach, sending a cold wave washing up from his diaphragm as he read the scrolling text.

      Warning: Breach: PERIMITER: SECTOR 3. Active combat personnel advised to-

      Without further hesitation he raced toward the hill, titanium soles sending clay and mud spraying with staccato motions. The gunfire came suddenly. Sharp cracks, in bursts of two to three, reverberated through the forest as he climbed toward the hill's crest. At the peak, he crouched near the base of a tree, and looked down on the clearing of LZ-Delta. A Pelican hovered above the treeline, its rotary cannon now pointed across the clearing. Bursts of green and blue light erupted from the forest, charring and sending embers flying from the fallen trees a group of Marines found shelter behind. As Damien leapt from his position the rotary cannon fired, a burst of several dozen thunderous cracks, leveling the foliage of the alien's position.

      Damien's motion tracker showed movement nearby. He slowed his pace near the bottom of the hill, creeping toward the blips. With a deft hand he moved his rifle from his back, the reticle projected by its electronics suite sweeping into view. The blips stopped near the edge of the clearing, but Damien saw nothing. Cautious, he held his body low, slinking through the underbrush with the practiced gait of a predatory cat.

      His enemies made the first mistake. A shifting of leaves caught his eye, a subtle shimmer and distortion of light betraying the nature of his prey. With his left hand, Damien grasped a grenade and thumbed the primer, letting it cook for three seconds.

      He launched the explosive from his hand and watched in silence as it rolled through the air. The grenade exploded with a sharp, hollow sound, sending razor-edged steel squares raining down on the camouflaged creatures. Their short, stout forms smashed to the ground and against nearby trees, crushed by the concussion and shredded into pale-blue slices by the shrapnel. The heavy anti-armor weapons they bore scattered around.

      Damien hugged a tree for cover and brought his rifle to bear. The remaining creatures panicked, spraying plasma wildly and abandoning their camouflage. The scents of burning wood and ionized gas filled the air. Damien centered his reticle on the chest of the nearest Grunt. He squeezed the trigger. The suppressor coughed out four rounds with what would otherwise be a fairly loud report, now drowned out by the din of battle around him. The rifle shuddered in his hands, but he held it firmly with muscle and machine. The bullets hit dead-on, cracking its armor and sending a fountain of blue fluid spraying through the exit wounds. His aim shifted to the others, his hands moving with a speed nearly invisible to the eye. He fired a quick burst at each. The remainder lay dead in an instant. Damien broke cover and sprinted toward the clearing.

      The creature struck suddenly, its great mass sending him careening onto the bare dirt. Damien rolled, the world around him floundering into a haze of shapeless color. He came to a stop, and as he willed his body to move another heavy blow hit his armored torso, just below the solar plexus. Instinctively, he rolled away from his attacker, head still spinning. The pace of his breath quickened, and as his head jerked up he could see the distortion of air outlining the hunched form of an Elite. As soon as the form made a move, he lunged with his elbow held out, aiming for the alien's pelvis. It stepped aside, but Damien's right shoulder managed to connect, breaking the Elite's camouflage and sending it stumbling several steps backward.

      Focus. The Elite pulled its weapon from the panel on its right thigh. Milliseconds seemed stretch to seconds as Damien watched the ripple of its muscles as its arm raised the weapon. His own hand opened, and he pressed it down against the ground with as much force as he could muster. Flash. The ball of plasma seared past his left ear. Air sizzled and crackled from the sheer heat. His shields rippled, nearly failing.

      One step. The distance closed, he brought his left hand up, fingers locked and flat, and in one sharp motion forced the weapon aside. The creature met his blow with another, breaking his shield and connecting with the rear right of his helmet. Panicked, Damien kicked forward with all his weight and connected with the creature's knee, causing a painful crunch and a snarl from his foe. Seizing the moment, Damien lunged upward with his right hand, grasping its throat, and squeezed, hoping desperately that his hand would not be swatted away, his eyes closed and all his strength focused on the hard band of muscle wrapped in his fingers. The creature's body suit tore, its flesh gave way, and Damien pulled. Flesh rended from flesh, blood spattered in fury, spilling itself across the gold of his visor. As the Elite stumbled, stunned at the sudden onslaught, Damien's left hand shot up and clawed at open wound, and he tore away, mindlessly, all traces of conscious thought lost in the throes of violence. At last, his enemy collapsed at his feet. There Damien stood, ignoring the streams of plasma and lead flying in chaotic unison around him, staring down at the streams of violet flowing from his hands in the light of the emerging dawn.