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Halo 2: Defense and Offense - Chapter 5
Posted By: Dagorath<hoyinshan@gmail.com>
Date: 12 August 2005, 6:28 am

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1205 hours, October 20, 2552 (Mombassa Military Calendar)Sol System, East African Protectorate, planet Earth

The Master Chief groaned. Something large and heavy seemed to be slamming itself repeatedly into the inside of his skull.
      It seemed to change shape periodically. In the beginning, it was a large, heavy pike. A few minutes later, it was more like a knobbly iron ball. Now, it was a round, smooth rock.
       "Hey," he heard Cortana's voice blare in his ears. "Wake up." She said something about CPR. And he had the horrifying thought that it was Cortana's head that was kneading his brain into dough.
      The Chief heaved his body up like a labourer hauling a sack of lead. Groping for his battle rifle, he saw Sergeant Johnson, sporting a new cut upon his forehead, jump up from the wreckage of the cockpit and grab his own weapon. "Shake it off, Marines!" he yelled, every word slamming into the Chief's head like a hard fist. "Clear the crash site! Go, go, go!" How he had recovered so quickly, the Chief didn't know. Perhaps it was the Flood DNA that Dr Halsey had found in his bloodstream.
      The Chief stood up, but his fingers felt like hard sticks, and he couldn't pick up his SMG to clip onto his belt, so he grabbed his battle rifle by the stock and cradled a few grenades in his arms, which felt like they had been stepped upon.
      He looked behind him to the wreckage of the Pelican. Some Marines were stirring, but a few, he was sad to see, did not. His headache felt worse than when the escape pod from the Pillar of Autumn crashed, but he was glad to see that at least some Marines survived the landing this time round.
      Johnson walked forwards, supporting the co-pilot on his shoulder. He approached the Chief. "Dramatic landing, eh?" he asked by way of greeting. Obviously, he could not see through the Chief's visor and assumed that he was fine. "Let's go, Chief. I have a feeling we're going to get a warm welcome."
      The Chief started walking towards a doorway, trying to work his limbs without appearing to, while Cortana ran minor electric currents through his primary muscles to stimulate them. Feeling better now, he managed to clip his grenades onto his belt and heft his battle rifle better. Thinking about his SMG, he decided not to bother.
      The courtyard they emerged onto was fairly spacious, and someone had the good sense to set up a turret on top of the second floor. After clearing the Covenant soldiers running down the stairs (had they set the turret up?), the Chief directed his considerable energies to repelling the waves of Covenant warriors swarming in from left, right and centre. After directing the Marines to several fortified positions (namely places where they wouldn't be able to cause any trouble), he proceeded to warm his muscles up with some hard-core killing.
      What broke the monotony was what looked like a purple blob floating over the courtyard. On closer observation, the Chief saw that it was in fact a Covenant dropship of some kind, armed with three plasma cannons.
      He crouched down behind a truck and surveyed the scene through the gap between the cab and the storage area. The obligatory Grunts and blue-armoured Elites were being dropped upon the centre of the courtyard from what looked like a mini gravity lift on the dropship, which the Marines called a "Phantom". What did interest him, however, was an Elite in gold, holding an energy sword.
      Over the COM channel, he told the Marines to stay put. No point in getting them slashed apart by the Elite.
      The Chief crept behind some bushes and leaned his battle rifle on a branch. There was a loud gunshot, and one of the Elites crumpled, probably courtesy of Sergeant Johnson's sniper rifle.
      The gold Elite started, peering around the courtyard, but the Marines, camouflaged by their armour, were not discovered.
      The Chief pressed his visor onto the scope. Very carefully, he fired three-round bursts into the Grunts' heads.
      He picked up a plasma pistol nearby and overcharged it at the second blue-armoured Elite, who was turning his way. When it hit, he saw the telltale crackle of electricity. One final burst from the battle rifle was enough to kill him.
      The gold Elite was bewildered. Gunshots seemed to have come from nowhere, mowing down his underlings. All of a sudden, he was completely and utterly alone. He had a strong desire to take out his temper on someone.
      The Elite peered around. He spotted a round, armoured head with a gold visor, and started towards it.
      When he arrived, the head had disappeared. What had replaced it was a small, round blue ball with plasma fire crackling around it. To the Elite's eyes, it looked like a plasma grenade.
      Plasma grenade.
      Plasma grenade.

      It exploded in his face, and the Master Chief caught the sword with his left hand as it swung away from the Elite's eviscerated body.
      As the Chief caught his breath, a Pelican hovered overhead. "My girl's a little big for that courtyard, Sergeant," came the pilot's voice. "I see a good LZ on the other side of these buildings. Meet you there, over."
      There were loud banging sounds on one of the locked gates in the courtyard. "Copy that," said Johnson. "Someone get a satchel on that gate!" he shouted.
      The gate fell to the cobbled floor in a loud clang, and two Hunters strode in. Towering over even an Elite, covered with armour and spines, a Hunter could quash a whole platoon of Marines with relative ease. The addition of its enormous shield and fuel rod gun made it near invincible. Even the Chief paled slightly inside his helmet.
       "Hunters!" said Cortana unnecessarily.
       "Stand back Marines, let the Chief show you how it's done!" yelled Johnson confidently.
This is the way, the Chief thought. Climbing up to the turret, he fired repeatedly at the Hunters until even their hard armour gave way. Orange blood spattered all over the courtyard to the applause of the Marines.
       "Yes, well done," said Cortana sourly inside his head.
      She changed the subject so quickly that the Chief felt a little bewildered. "Second squad, this is Cortana. What is your status, over?" she asked through the COM system.
       "We're operational, ma'am, barely," came the answer. "Our pilots didn't make it."
       "Find a hole, stay put. We'll come to you."
      The Chief and his Marines moved through the demolished door towards the LZ the pilot had indicated. They rushed through dark alleys and small courtyards. As he rounded a corner, however, there was a flash of purple light and something hit him hard in the chest. The force blew him bodily backwards into a Marine, and both men hit the ground.
      The Chief got up quickly and helped the Marine up. The Marine was bruised from his hard landing, and the Chief helped him into some cover.
      He crept out again. The Marines were hiding inside the buildings, except for Sergeant Johnson, who was peering through his sniper scope.
       "I think it came from over there," said the Chief. Swinging his rifle barrel over, Johnson fired once, twice, and lowered his weapon.
      He handed the Chief a set of binoculars. "Look, over there, behind that pillar."
      The Chief stared at one of the ugliest carcasses he had ever seen. Blood was splattered all over it and it was splayed on the wall behind it. Closer observation yielded that it was probably a Jackal without its shield. He saw a dark weapon with little purple knobs, presumably the weapon it had used to snipe the Chief with.
       "I want one of those," he said to Johnson, and mowed down the other Jackals that were flocking to the sniper's body.
      After they had cleared the area, the Chief went to retrieve the "beam rifle" from the dead sniper.
      Miranda Keyes's voice came over the COM system. "Sergeant, I need you on that bird."
"Ma'am?" asked Johnson, puzzled.
"My Pelicans are going to start airlifting armour and reinforcements into the city. They'll need an escort that isn't afraid of a little hostile ground fire.
      Johnson obliged. "Understood. I'll keep an eye on 'em. Chief," he turned to the Spartan, "good luck."
      When you have skills, you don't need luck.
      Johnson climbed onto the Pelican and it flew off.

After battling past scores more of the Covenant troops that seemed to have taken up permanent residence in the city, the Chief, with his embattled Marines, finally arrived at a derelict hotel, the Hotel Zanzibar.
      A Marine with a bandage around his head approached him: one of the soldiers of the second squad, presumably. "Chief!" he called. "Glad you could make it. Crash site's on the other side of this hotel, Chief. Covenant are crawling all over it. Follow me."
      The hotel was horribly dark. Whenever he passed rooms, he could see unmade bed sheets, strewn paper, and bloodstains, some small, some large. Many times, he thought he heard voices: grunts, screams, whimpers. It spooked him. Veteran of a hundred battles indeed. Perhaps, if –
      Two Elites loomed up out of the darkness in front of the Chief, and the Marine behind him jumped. "Argh!" he yelled.
      One hand pushing the Marine back and the other priming a plasma grenade, the Chief stuck the latter onto the red-armoured veteran in front of him. In a flash of blue light all that remained of the ambush were purple bloodstains and fragments of armour and flesh. The Marine behind him gaped.
       "Oh, nice work, sir," said the Marine faintly.
      Without further ado, the Chief left the hotel and emerged upon a view of the dark sea. Overcast and gloomy, the sky looked like a woollen blanket made by Aunt Margaret (the expression was not his own).
      A Phantom zoomed in, firing hard at anything that moved. Second Squad was holding its own, however: the new weapons were certainly an excellent upgrade to the Marines' arsenal.
      He plunked the weapon he had purloined from the Jackal sniper on a block of stone. As the Phantom dropped Grunts and Elites upon the promenade, the Chief started to learn using it. With the obvious advantage of not needing to reload, he sniped down the Grunts and did the Elites in with his energy sword, to which he had grown a deep liking. When the Phantom departed in defeat, there was a ragged cheer from the Marines.
      A LAAG 'Hog skidded into view. As the driver honked the horn, the Chief jumped down.
      The driver showed the Chief his driving license and grinned.
       "No," said the Chief, and pushed him onto the passenger's seat.
      The beach, too, was covered with Covenant troops, including plasma cannons, little sniping platforms and Ghosts with a new "boosting" ability.
      He reviewed his options. What was his primary mission here on Earth? Protecting Mombassa? Or getting to the Prophet of Regret?
      Regret. He drove past the hordes of Covenant troops, leaving the Marines to deal with them.
      Crashing through a load of rubble, the Chief's Warthog emerged on a long, smooth underground tunnel. The walls were scarred with plasma fire and bullet holes.
      He got off the Warthog. "Get in the driver's seat," he said to the Marine riding shotgun. He rested his beam rifle on the windshield. "I have a feeling I'll have some heavy shooting to do."
      They reached the first Covenant blockade a few minutes later: an assortment of blocks and a large amount of Jackals.
      The Chief advocated the "unorthodox" method. "Drive right through them," he said to the driver. "And keep shooting," he said to the gunner.
      It worked. When the Warthog approached, with huge tires, headlights, blaring horn and gigantic LAAG, every single Covenant soldier turned tail, jumping with surprising agility onto the curb as the Warthog – with the whooping gunner – sped through the blockade.
       "Hah!" the driver yelled.
       "Hah!" the gunner yelled.
      The Chief tried hard not to join in.
      The Warthog continued on its journey through the underground highways of New Mombassa (they having left Old Mombassa after veering off the beach). Cortana provided some brain stimulation while they did the dirty work.
       "I've been analyzing the Covenant tactical chatter. They're surprised, confused…. I don't think they expected us to be here. Not you and me, all of us. Humanity on Earth. Odd, I know," she said in a posh English accent, "but it does help explain why they came here with such a small fleet."
      They sped past a few other blockades before coming upon a rather spectacular gout of plasma tunneling its way into the highway.
       "Whoa," said the Chief, "what was that?"
       "That must have been a super stationary plasma cannon," said Cortana.
       "What, very stationary plasma cannon?"
       "No," she replied. "Idiot."
      They were approached by two Ghosts, the drivers of which were rather surprised when the gunner blew their vehicles to pieces, and a new Covenant vehicle the Chief had not yet seen: a ground transport of some kind consisting of a purple "bridge", with a cage for the driver and a large turret, called the Shadow. They sped past it, every Covenant soldier within firing at them and missing.
      They sped past a few other Shadows, and the Chief decided to put his mediocre sniping skills to the use. Leaning his beam rifle on the windshield over the driver's head, he proceeded to snipe the drivers in each Shadow. While the first he killed in four shots (he was a little rusty), he finished off the rest with one or two. Each Shadow stalled and was left behind as the Covenant struggled to regroup.
      They drove past a few more Ghosts, another blockade and through the central arc of a Shadow before going uphill into the afternoon light and the center of New Mombassa.