The Codex: Chapter 18 - Rallying the Troops
Posted By: Dagorath<email@example.com>
Date: 3 October 2005, 1:25 pm
Author’s Note: I sent this chapter of the novelisation of the series to Alexander Winn over at The Codex as a “trailer” to my entire novelisation, so it’s only fitting that you get to read this one first. Episode 18 is my personal favourite in the series. If you want, you can skip this (if you haven’t watched Episode 18 yet) and read Chapter 1, which will be coming up soon.
I wonder what will happen to this novelisation. Probably it’ll end at Chapter 5. After all, look what happened to Halo 2: Defense and Offense!
There was something in the air that the Chief had never smelt before. It reminded him of machinery and decay and an odd, electric odour.
The smell became stronger as he entered a small courtyard. Several ODSTs were sprawled on the ground. They lay limply on their bellies, their weapons next to them. There was no blood, no enemy corpses.
“Found them just like this, sir,” said the ODST behind him. He looked rather puzzled. “Whole scout party. Dead.”
“But that’s not the weird part,” he continued. “None of them have any marks at all. No plasma scarring, no slice marks from the energy swords….nothing.” He shrugged his shoulders.
The Chief looked closer. On each face was a look of peace, as though the soldiers had achieved their life’s aims just before they died. He could see one had his hands pressed reverently together.
“It’s like they all just….died,” said the ODST behind him.
“You scanned the area for radiation or gas?” the Chief growled.
“Yes sir, nothing to report though,” the ODST replied. “Their armour should have shielded them from that anyway. I had an autopsy done on a couple of the bodies. There were no marks anywhere, inside or out. A minute they were fine, and then” - he hesitated - “they were dead.”
The Chief narrowed his eyes. “What were the Covenant casualties?” he asked.
“None, sir. Not a single Elite was found dead and there weren’t even any traces of blood to indicate much of a struggle.”
No Covenant bodies at all. What overwhelming power has the Covenant gotten that could let them do this? The Chief felt despair squeezing him like a bear hug.
“What did you find inside the temple?”
“The power is on sir, but we can’t use any equipment as of yet. Lykurgus is trying to interface with it, and maybe get an idea on how to interface with the Codex too, once we finish up with these Covenant bastards.” He said the last word with strong emphasis.
“Very good.” He straightened. “Gather up the scout parties and weapons and salvage whatever gear you can. We got to keep moving.”
Suddenly, both men jumped. Lykurgus had just appeared halfway inside the ODST and halfway outside. The Chief looked at the dapper AI - Lykurgus wore a white suit - with slight suspicion. What now?
“Sir, I have urgent news,” Lykurgus proclaimed, ignoring the ODST.
“What is it?” the Chief snarled.
“I have discovered the function of the Codex,” he said simply.
“The increasing proximity of the human race in this cave indicates that they intend to strike here. Whether this is the sign of a full-fledged assault or simply another insertion such as we experienced before is impossible to tell,” said a stocky red Veteran Elite, one of the Praetor’s aides.
“Have the scouts finished the exploration of the cave system?” the Praetor asked. His face betrayed nothing, but he knew that things were beginning to heat up. “Is there any way into this cave except for the entrance directly above?”
“No, Excellency,” the Elite replied. “And this chamber is the shallowest part of the cave system so digging down from the surface would be very impractical.”
“The entrance to this cave is inside a human city on the surface,” the Praetor said. “The reason the humans were able to get in last time was that they were able to sneak through the streets undetected. We will not make this mistake again.”
He squared his shoulders. “I want all nearby forces to return to the city and prepare to defend the Codex,” he ordered. “Any extra forces in the cave should stay in reserve, as should all Special Operations Elites in the area.” He nodded at the Spec Ops Commander Anda ‘Sofadee.
“Yes, Praetor,” she acknowledged.
“Sir, who should I place in the city’s defense now that Commander Erda ‘Renadee is dead?” the aide asked.
“I will personally command the defense of the Holy Codex,” the Praetor replied.
“And who is to be placed in charge of the operations in the cave?” the Veteran asked.
“You will, ‘Fotaree,” said the Praetor. “You know these caves better than any Elite on this world, and I will rely on you to lead the battle within them, should that be required.”
“I am honoured to serve you, Noble Praetor,” the aide replied, bowing low.
“However,” the Praetor interrupted, “Anda ‘Sofadee and her Special Operations Elites will remain directly under my command. They will remain in the caves.”
“Understood, Great One,” said ‘Fotaree.
“Do it,” said the Praetor. He raised his voice. “Now we must act quickly. Send out the orders to all Covenant forces across the planet. I have something I want to say.” His mandibles clacked grimly.
“Yes, Praetor,” said his aides in unison, and they moved off.
“Excellency, what about the Cleric?” ‘Sofadee asked once they had disappeared round the corner. Though weapons were forbidden in the presence of the Praetor, ‘Sofadee was an exception. She fairly bristled with them: an energy swords and a pair of plasma rifles hung on her belt and a fuel rod gun was strapped onto her shoulders. “Will this not be a perfect time for him to try to seize control?”
“I have given the orders for enough troops to remain in the cave to suppress rebellion from within,” the Praetor replied. “I wish you to keep your Special Operations Elites ready to fight the Cleric’s followers should they attempt to rebel against my command.”
“Of course, Praetor,” the Commander replied. She bowed.
“I intercepted this message several days ago,” said Lykurgus. “But I had categorized it as a simple Covenant religious sermon. I only analysed it in full a few moments ago.”
“Let me see it,” the Chief ordered.
The hologram of an Elite in the commander’s Gold appeared in place of Lykurgus. His voice reverberated through the Chief’s helmet.
“My brothers,” the hologram growled, “the Great Journey is drawing near. Soon we’ll be able to activate the Holy Codex and its knowledge will pour out before us.”
“Lykurgus, we already knew that it was a Covenant religious installation,” said the Chief over the Elite’s droning voice. “Have you found anything new?”
“Just a moment, sir, it is coming up,” Lykurgus replied in his ethereal voice.
“The knowledge locked inside the Holy Codex will lead us to the Seven Sacred Rings and allow us to cleanse the universe of the unbelievers and heretics.
“The cleansing flame will wash over the bodies of the faithful, but the heathens will be destroyed.” The Elite said the last word with relish.
The hologram of the Elite faded, to be replaced by Lykurgus once more.
“How accurate do you think that prediction is?” the Chief asked.
“Sir, the Covenant knows much more about the subject than I,” said the other, “but given the provable existence of the Codex on this planet I do not think that it is impossible that there are other similar structures scattered throughout the galaxy. The idea of an alien super-weapon, however disconcerting and discomforting, seems now to be a quite plausible reality.”
“Sir, my estimates of Covenant progress is now quite alarming given this new development. I believe the Covenant is on the verge of being able to activate the Codex.”
“Lykurgus,” said the Chief heavily, “what do you think the possibility of recapturing the Codex would be?” He said it with little hope.
“Sir, the Covenant are fierce warriors, and are sure to be all the more tenacious when defending a holy relic. Given the available force matched against the Covenant army and orbital armada, I do not believe recapture should be the desired objective.”
“Then what would you say should be?”
“Sir, if the weapon described in that sermon exists, it would be a threat not only to the troops on this planet but to the whole of humanity. Our only option is to destroy the Codex, and erase the knowledge contained therein.”
The Chief was silent for a long time.
“Radio the scout groups, let ‘em know what’s happening,” he said finally. “Tell them to get ready to move out. And start working out the preliminary battle strategy. I’ll go talk to the troops.”
“Yes sir,” said Lykurgus, and faded away.
The Chief walked to the top of the platform and looked down at the assembled ODSTs and his own Spartans. Many of the ODSTs were wounded; some had eyes glazed in shock. Most, however, looked grimly determined. One Marine was squeezing his battle rifle like it was the neck of an Elite.
He felt slightly better when he saw his Spartans. None of them had sustained any heavy injuries. Each stood to attention, arms by their sides, battle rifles slung over their shoulders. Their reassuring bulk bolstered the Chief’s flagging determination.
He stood up straighter and opened his mouth. “All right, everybody,” he said heavily. “Listen up. Lykurgus just figured out what it is the Covenant is holding in that cave.” He sighed. “Now I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice it to say, that machine has the potential to make our little war a moot point. If the Covenant activated it, it would link up with structures all over the galaxy. Humanity will cease to exist. We’ve got to take that thing out, no matter what the cost.
“Now I’d been fighting with some of you for a long time, and we’ve been on some tough missions together. But one way or another, we’ve always pulled through.
“Now I’d be lying if I knew we’d get through this one all right. But one thing I do know? We will get the job done. We have a duty to ourselves, a duty to our fellow soldiers, a duty to the rest of humanity to get the job done.
“The road ahead of us isn’t going to be easy. The Covenant are not going to let us walk in and destroy that thing without a fight. They will try to stop us every inch of the way. They’re going to try to kill every one of us before we get near that cave.
“But do you know what I say to that? I say we’ve already beaten them twice on this planet and I think it’s time to finish the job!”
Not very far away, the Praetor stood on a similar podium, above a much larger army of Elites. Grunts, Jackals and Drones crowded around the edges; a ring of Hunters on the outside emitted little hisses as they breathed.
“Noble warriors,” he began. “For ages untold our Covenant has fought for this moment. On world after world our forefathers fought to uncover the mysteries of the ancients. And now we stand on the brink of the Great Journey.
“But the humans would deny us our holy destiny. I ask, not as a commander, but as a brother-in-arms, to fight!” He whipped out his energy sword. Its twin blades glittered like multifaceted jewels.
“Over the years,” said the Chief, “we’ve lived and died together. We’ve shared barracks and we’ve shared foxholes. We’ve shed tears and shed blood together.”
“But I would not have you remember all that we have done,” the Praetor said. “I would have you remember why we have done it.”
“We were fighting for something more than ourselves.”
“For something more than our personal honour, or glory.”
“Something that speaks to each and every one of us.”
“Something that lies deep within our hearts.”
“Something that calls out to us, urging us to fight on.”
“Something that pushes us forward, assuring us the righteousness of our quest.”
“Today, I want you to remember what we’re fighting for.”
“Today, I want you to remember what all of us are fighting for.
“Today, we fight for our gods!” the Praetor yelled. He slashed his sword in the air. The Covenant soldiers cheered.
“Today,” said the Chief, “we fight for Earth.”
And the men before him were silent.
Three Pelican dropships swooped towards a deserted city below. Their golden chasses gleamed softly in the morning light. Whining softly down, they passed over three Warthogs. The soldiers in the vehicles saluted the dropships as they, too, moved towards the city centre. Each man’s heart was beating urgently.
Hundreds of Grunts ran in waves towards huge courtyards, bristling with weapons. Chattering excitedly, they scoured the nearby buildings for any humans they could find.
A gigantic Scorpion tank rolled onto the battered streets, trailed by a platoon of ODSTs. Each gripped their weapons hard, their eyes sweeping for any Covenant.
Purple Ghosts Boosted across a highway, the blue-armoured Elites aboard them whooping. Their red-armoured superiors scowled; discipline had all but gone out the window after the Praetor’s speech.
Two Warthogs raced through rubble-strewn streets, their Spartan drivers nervous beneath their concealing visors. They crashed regardless over wrecked cars, mouldering corpses and discarded shells. Their life’s aims had suddenly narrowed to one single objective.
A Wraith floated slowly into a hidden alcove. Its Elite driver aimed its gun carefully at an angle and fired a single shot. The gigantic ball of plasma floated in the sky like a shooting star.
The Praetor looked out of a broken window in the city. He could see scudding white clouds and two brilliant suns. In his hand, he held an energy sword handle, worn with long use.
The Chief conversed urgently with Lykurgus on battle strategies. The suited AI looked agitated. He sweated beneath his heavy armour.
ODSTs rested the barrels of their sniper rifles on railings, peering down their scopes, while squads of Marines and Spartans ran across the sprawling city. Bursts of gunfire reverberated through the ruins.
The end of all things had come.
Author’s Note: Now sdn’s going to come and point out grammar mistakes in every third sentence.