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Halo 2: Defense and Offense - Chapter 4
Posted By: Dagorath<hoyinshan@gmail.com>
Date: 10 August 2005, 6:59 am

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1130 hours, October 20, 2552 (Military Calendar)Sol System, Earth Defense Platform "Cairo", planet Earth

The Master Chief seized two long, protruding spikes near the cool blue light on the bomb, hauling it across the metal floor, showering the blood-bespattered walls with sparks. It was hard, even for him. The spikes on the bottom screeched like nails on a blackboard.
      He lugged the bomb into a service lift, and it dropped swiftly down.
       "I know what you're thinking, and it's crazy," said Cortana.
       "So, stay here," the Chief replied.
       "Unfortunately for us both, I like crazy."
      The lift stopped, and the doors hissed open. The Chief emerged in a medium-sized room. There was a set of glass-paneled doors at the opposite end. In the centre of the chamber, there was a pillar. The arrow pointing into the room read "Airlock."
      The Chief walked forwards into the white glow of Earth. He could see long, dark pods dropping towards the planet, some detonating as they were struck by bullets from the Cairo. A Seraph streaked past the airlock, pursued by two Longsword fighters.
      He pressed a button on the pillar. A bar snapped out. Just before he grabbed the bar, however, Cortana asked, "What if you miss?"
       "I won't," he replied. After all, he had done it before, hadn't he?
      He pulled a lever, and the doors started to open. Anything that was not tied down was sucked out into the void. Even the bomb started to slide towards the opening, heavy though it was.
      The Master Chief let go of the bar and, as the bomb swung past, he grabbed onto one of the longer spines. Both man and bomb were swept out into space.
      A Covenant carrier passed beneath him as he fell towards Earth. There was no sound at all. He couldn't even hear the explosions.
      The carrier opened up twice with a purple pulse laser, narrowly missing him. Perhaps the controller had not counted on such a small target and misfired. Whatever it was, the Chief knew that he would have been instantly incinerated if he had been hit.
      A human frigate passed beneath him and exploded in the third burst from the pulse laser. The Chief flew on.
      Two Longsword fighters zoomed towards the frigate, dropping bombs on its unshielded surface, biting a large hole. The Chief flew on.
      The Longswords were destroyed by a phalanx of Seraphs. And still, the Chief flew on.
      In the eerie silence, the Master Chief arrived in an enormous chamber, inside of which was a massive fusion core. It glowed with a whitish-purple light, pulsing like a weak heart.
      He crashed into the bottom: in space, there was no friction, so he went at the speed that he had left the Cairo at. He slammed onto a spine, but his shield protected him.
      Having steadied himself, he pressed his hand onto the light to resume its timer. Using the magnets on his shoes, he crouched, and then jumped off the bomb out of a crack in the underbelly of the carrier. Behind him, the light glowed brighter.
      The Master Chief could not turn his head back far enough to look as small blue explosions rippled along the carrier's length. There was a final, silent explosion of gigantic proportions, and the carrier disintegrated into thousands of pieces.
      A human frigate glided serenely in the wake of the carrier's debris field as the Chief flew on a trajectory towards it.
      There was a loud thunk, and inside the small, cramped bridge, both Sergeant Johnson and Commander Miranda Keyes looked up.
       "For a brick, he flew pretty good!" smiled Johnson.
      The Commander did not seem to have heard. "Chief, get inside, gear up." In Amber Clad swooped towards Africa. "We're taking this fight to the surface."

1200 hours, October 20, 2552 (Mombassa Military Calendar)Sol System, East African Protectorate, planet Earth

Out of In Amber Clad, three golden Pelicans swooped towards the city laid out before them. Mostly medium-height buildings, there was also a tall tower and, spoiling the scenery, an enormous Covenant capital ship, hovering over the city with its purple gravity lift extending down like a leg.
      The Master Chief looked out of the rear of the lead Pelican at the cradle of humanity. Some said that the first humans were from Africa. He felt a strange, overwhelming feeling of protection for this planet, like any other, and yet so very different.
       "The message just repeats. 'Regret. Regret. Regret.'" Cortana sounded slightly puzzled.
       "Catchy. Any idea what it means?" Commander Keyes asked from In Amber Clad.
      The Sergeant had, of course, a snappy answer ready.
       "Dear humanity," he began, "we regret being alien bastards, and we regret coming to Earth!" The Pelicans flew lower over the sprawling city. The Chief could just hear Johnson say through the cockpit door, "And we most definitely regret that the Corp just blew up our raggedy-ass fleet!"
       "Hoo-rah!" shouted the pilot and copilot in unison.
       "Regret is a name, Sergeant," Keyes admonished. "The name of one of the Covenant's religious leaders. A Prophet. He's on that carrier and he's calling for help."
      The Pelicans glided over a wide highway, where three Warthogs raced forwards in the same direction.
      On a rooftop, the Chief could see a Marine sniper team. "Immediate. Grid kilo-23 is hot. Recommend mission abort."
      On the lead Pelican, the pilot acknowledged, "Roger, recon." He turned to Johnson behind him. "It's your call, Sarge," he said.
      Johnson did not hesitate. "We're going in," he said, pointing forwards. "Get tactical, Marines!"
      Inside the hold of the Pelican, Marines primed their weapons and hung tight. One sniffed the ammo inside a clip for his sniper rifle before loading it.
       "Master Chief, get aboard that carrier, and secure the Prophet of Regret," came Lord Hood's voice over the COM channel. "This is the only place on Earth the Covenant decided to land. That Prophet is going to tell us why."
      In the cockpit, the pilot said to the copilot, "Standby to – wo." He gaped. In front was a massive Covenant walker of some kind. As tall as the buildings and mounted on four thick, silvery legs, it looked invincible. One foreleg squashed a truck like a man stepping on a grapefruit. What was more, its "head" seemed to have split into sections to reveal a huge plasma cannon that was powering up. And fast.
      The gout of plasma seared the top off the lead Pelican, but the other two veered off its path. A plasma turret on the walker's back fired a steady stream of red plasma at them.
      The Chief could see the cloudy sky through a hole in the roof. He was lifted off his feet and slammed into the roof as the Pelican flipped and slid along a low rooftop. His head banged painfully and, despite the layers of armour, gel padding and shielding, he blacked out.