Biological Storage: Four
Posted By: Dagorath<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 17 March 2006, 11:58 am
The eerie siren of an ambulance drifted upon the breeze as it carried John's daughter towards the hospital. He himself had already lost hope. The soldiers who had attacked him had not been identified as part of the UNSC military or any sort of rebel group or militia. And John himself had been too ruthless to leave any for questioning: the blows he had landed on two of the soldiers, intending to knock them out, had killed them instead. He had been out of practice too long.
John breathed deep, smelling the roses. And he gagged once more. This time, the illness, if you like, grew on him as fast as a plasma burn spreading across skin and flesh. Suddenly, every smell seemed to disappear. The wind felt like a shower of tiny pellets against his skin; the colours of the world became garish and unbalanced.
John cracked. Screaming a wordless cry of rage and confusion, he was running down the road, running away from the world.
He ran onto the highway, and kept on running, ignoring the blares of cars speeding past, which now sounded cracked and ugly. His feet seemed barely to touch the ground. He was running in a fog, not connected to anything, the world fading around him.
John's feet carried him down an offshoot into a slum neighbourhood. He kept going, past bums and punks, turning blindly at corners.
He tripped and fell heavily. When he got up, he saw two exceedingly tall men staring down at them. They were even taller than John, almost as tall as the Elites he had fought in the War. Dressed in trench coats with white shirts and black pants underneath, the men looked like government agents. They fitted the stereotypical image perfectly. Men in Black, ONI agents, didn't matter. These men wanted him.
Playing dumb was not John's strong point, but he tried anyway. He got up carefully, dusted himself off, and opened his mouth.
One of them took a step towards him and cut him off. "Come with us," he said in a voice that allowed for no argument. It sounded eerily distorted, yet calculated and full of hate. Despite the illness, John could easily hear the thinly-veiled malice therein.
Authority from unidentified persons didn't work on John. "Why?"
The man offered no explanation. "You won't be hurt if you come quietly," he said steadily, ignoring John.
"I demand to know why I am being arrested!" John said. "My rights "
The agent made a gesture of dismissal, and the duo advanced. OK, playing dumb unsuccessful, John thought to himself. As the man got nearer, John lashed out with his left fist while sidestepping to the right.
The man didn't even grunt. He let the fist impact and just walked forward, using John's own arm to push him back. John responded by retracting the fist and kicking viciously with his right foot, right into the man's head.
It would have downed a Spartan, but the man just took it. It smashed into his head, throwing it back. John followed with his left foot into then man's groin.
And he felt excruciating pain in his back. The other man had crept up behind him. John flew forwards, straight into the double fists of the first man, who had not only not crumpled from the groin kick, but had recovered from the head kick in a second. One fist smashed into his sternum and the other into his solar plexus, winding him. With each blow, the illness worsened.
Then both men kneed him, one from in front and one from behind.
Their strength was awesome. John could feel his back break. He could do nothing as the two agents? kicked and punched him as he lay sprawled on the ground. He could only grit his teeth in pain each blow landed squarely on his flesh
- A hole ripped in the fabric of space. It was as though a hole into nothingness had been torn right in the nearest slum. Avery Johnson, wearing dusty-looking overalls, leapt out with a battle rifle, followed by Miranda Keyes in a casual suit, wielding dual SMGs. Before the men could so much as turn, Johnson had fired a three-round burst into the first agent's head, and Keyes had sprayed the second. The men slumped to the ground. Right before John's face, they disappeared as suddenly as Keyes had done so just yesterday morning.
The rift in space closed, leaving Johnson and Keyes with their smoking weapons. John could only groan. But inwardly, he smiled a little. No Spartan ever calls for evac, but who wouldn't be grateful when the situation was as dire as this?
But only Johnson knelt down to look at John's wounds. Keyes remained standing with a look of supreme contempt on her face. It was Johnson who flung down his battle rifle and whispered: "Chief! Oh my god, what have they done to you?" and Keyes who said, "Leave him, Avery. If he can't take care of himself, he doesn't deserve to live."
But it was both of them who walked off. John fainted in exhaustion and pain.
John came to after a few hours. It was only now that he noticed how horribly degenerated the virtual world had become. He hadn't believed Keyes when she explained the virtual world, but now it seemed as definitely a part of the truth as the fact that he had a broken neck. The colours had split up into red, green and blue. He could smell nothing. But the pain was real enough.
The light grew, brightening the crude colours all around John. A man-shaped figure scampered towards him and rifled through his pockets, pulling out his wallet and mobile phone. John could only whimper in pain as the man ran off again.
The light brightened. In the virtual world, the sun was coming up. No one looked at him. The heat grew, making sweat pour down John's back. He couldn't move his arms, couldn't move his legs, even his toes wouldn't move. It is a horrible death when you die of starvation, with days and days of pain, just to reflect on all your sins. John was reminded of James's death in the vacuum around Reach, floating, floating, with no one to help and no one to know when his life finally went out.
The sun moved to the noon. More bums searched him, but couldn't find anything. They left him to die.
The sun sank down to the west. John was freezing. He had lost a lot of blood. Headaches attacked every five seconds and the pain was getting to his iron-hard interior. There is a time when the strongest Marine cracked, and John had passed that barrier long ago.
It was dark. John couldn't feel below his neck, but the wounds on his head were pain enough. He had cracked his skull, and numerous bruises covered his head.
The moon rose up, a pure white disc. Everything else was black, and all John could hear was his own breathing.
The time on his watch read 0200 when he heard footsteps. John hadn't slept the pain had kept him awake.
A familiar shape appeared around the corner. The machine wiring him to the Covenant's virtual word was gradually shutting his senses down, but he could recognize one of his Spartans purely by their posture and method of movement.
"Will!" he croaked.
The figure sprinted towards him and crouched. "Shit!" he swore. "What's your status, sir?"
In a detached, critical tone that would have done Dr Halsey proud, John replied, "I have a broken neck, a cracked skull, and numerous bruises and internal bleeding resulting from fist and foot blows."
Will didn't share in his calm. "I've got to get you out of here," he said breathlessly. He lowered his hands and lifted John up. He didn't feel anything. His broken neck took care of that.
John was one hundred kilograms of rock-hard muscle and bone, but Will was a Spartan too. He slung John over his shoulder without a grunt and started walking out of the slum.
." John breathed.
.is it still
.fake like you said?"
.what the hell happened "
Will froze. Materialising before him were two agents. John couldn't recognize their faces, but their posture and the authority were similar to those he had fought earlier.
One stepped forwards. "You are helping an enemy of the State," he said, pointing towards John. "You are both to come with us to be interrogated."
Once a Spartan, always a Spartan. "No, thank you," Will replied steadily. "Present your identification first."
Wordlessly, the two men began circling to each side of Will. Their hands curled into fists.
"Sorry, sir," Will apologized in advance. He dropped John and whipped out a slim pistol.
The agents pounced. Will leapt into the air and shot one at point-blank range in the head. He kicked backwards with his left foot, right into the other agent's face.
Will landed, standing over John. The dead agent crumpled to the ground, but the second looked uninjured.
Will took the offensive. There was no way he could fire now: the time it took him to raise the gun would have cost him his life. Instead, he leapt forward with a powerful double fist. It slammed into the agent, flinging him backwards into the wall again. Bricks fell from the badly laid wall and one crashed onto Will's foot.
He stumbled, and the agent leapt forward. He stepped hard on Will, who rolled aside. The agent aimed kicks at the Spartan, who kept rolling.
John could see that the inhabitants of the slum had come out at the sound of the gunshot. As the agent ran towards Will, who had gotten unsteadily to his feet, they pulled their heads back and closed their shutters tight.
The agent ran at Will and leapt into the air in a perfectly executed karate flying kick, using the blade of his foot as his weapon.
But Will had jumped upwards too, his injured foot pointing downwards and the knee of his undamaged foot pulled up to his sternum.
John held his breath. He could only see the two figures as black shapes amidst blacker surroundings, but it didn't look good for Will. The agent had the momentum of his run; Will had none. Even if both kicks connected, Will would take the greater damage.
The two figures came together. Will yelled a hoarse war cry, but the agent remained silent as ice.
A shot rang out. The agent crashed into Will and both fell onto the ground. Neither got up.
A minute later, John breathed, "Will
One of the figures stirred and pushed the other off, staggering to its feet. It pulled its pistol's magazine out and checked the rounds inside. "I'm OK, sir," Will lied.
John declined to mention the fact that he had been Will's CO for thirty years and could see right through him. He allowed Will to carry him to his car, staying silent.
Inside's Will's car, John looked out the window. The police had not yet arrived. The bums themselves were mostly illegal immigrants or petty criminals of some kind or other. They would stay silent for fear of drawing attention to themselves.
John relaxed for the first time in two nights. Despite the fact that he only had ten percent control of his body ironically like Captain Keyes's control of his cruiser after its crash on Halo John was already thinking like an army commander in control of a platoon. What were his options? What was the enemy thinking? What were his chances of success?
Spartan-117 looked up at the moon. It was no longer a white disc; the features had returned. Despite the fact that everything he could see was probably fake, he drew comfort from the fact that he had finally returned to the world that he knew about, that he could fight in.
That he could win in.
Author's Note: I'll take a break for one week. I want to engineer a few cool plot twists and suchlike, but gaping holes are appearing in the next chapter. And unwanted characters keep barging in
. I hope you enjoyed this chapter, at any rate.