Halo 2: Defense and Offense - Chapter 6
Posted By: Dagorath<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 5 November 2005, 3:15 am
Author’s Note: I decided to get rid of the whole “1205 hours, October 20” thing because I think that 1. it’s not really necessary: it’s quite easy to tell that time has passed in a story and it’s hardly necessary to be exact and 2. because I myself can’t keep track of the time using the dates in novels (which is why I hate reading diaries) and it would be heresy to try and estimate the time between for instance when the Chief leaves New Mombassa to when he arrives at Delta Halo. The dating is a nice touch, but it reminds me of Nyland and I don’t like it.
Author’s Note 2: This chapter is kind of long and boring, so you can skim it if you like.
The Master Chief skidded along the top of the bridge, jumping off and waving his Marines off too.
He walked forwards. In front, a young Marine lay gasping. The Chief could see that the poor boy was absolutely terrified.
A female Marine stood a little way back. “It blew right through us!” she said, staring at the bridge. Near the end of the bridge was the retreating back of the Covenant walker, or “Scarab”. “Fifty cal, rockets, didn’t do a thing!”
A Pelican flew over and dropped a Scorpion tank down. A brawny black man jumped down as well, springing lightly onto a tread and then leaping down. The Chief and the two Marines started toward him.
“Where’s the rest of your platoon?” Sergeant Johnson asked.
“Wasted, Sarge,” said the female Marine.
“And we will be too sir, if we don’t get the hell out of here!” the second Marine whimpered.
Johnson put his hand on the man’s shoulder as he turned away. “You hit, Marine?” he asked.
“Er – no sir,” he replied, a little shamefully.
“Then listen up!” he growled, turning to the Chief and the female Marine.
“When I joined the Corp, we didn’t have any fancy-shmancy tanks,” he lectured. “We had sticks – two sticks – and a rock for a whole platoon. And we had to share the rock.” Behind his visor, the Chief smiled slightly. “Buck up, boy! You’re one very lucky Marine!”
“What about that Scarab?” the female Marine asked.
“We all run the simulations,” said Johnson, putting a cigar into his mouth. “They’re tough, but they ain’t invincible. Stay with the Master Chief,” he said, turning away, “he’ll know what to do.”
“Yes sir, Sergeant” said the female Marine. The other Marine still looked rather scared.
“Thanks for the tank,” said Miranda Keyes from In Amber Clad. “He never gets me anything.”
“Oh I know what the ladies like,” said Johnson inside the Pelican, smiling evilly.
As the Pelican flew off, the Chief climbed into the Scorpion. He had had quite a lot of experience with these lumbering leviathans.
The UNSC had not been idle while he messed around on Halo 04. The new tank boasted improved armour, a quicker-firing turret and a small compartment under the seat where MRE (Meals Ready to Eat) could be warmed by the heat of the tank’s engine. The Chief found it rather unhygienic.
The two Marines on his Warthog and the two on the bridge jumped onto the tractor pods and they lumbered off.
The Covenant had taken a lot of precautions to guard against Marine assault on the bridge. As the Chief’s tank rumbled forward, they were set upon by what seemed like twenty Ghosts.
A Ghost burst into flames.
Another was flung onto the side of the bridge, exploding in a cascade in blue sparks.
The Chief’s tank rolled on.
While the Chief’s journey over the bridge would have been viewed as “life-threatening, terrifying and completely idiotic” by the horrified Marines aboard his Scorpion, to him it was not particularly eventful. True, he blew up a few more Ghosts. True, he was very nearly eviscerated by a Wraith tank. True, a Banshee pilot got off his Banshee and tried to pull him out of the Scorpion before one of the Marines put a few battle rifle bursts through him, but compared to all the other odd things he had done before, the Chief found it only mildly interesting.
A little puzzle presented itself when they reached the end of the bridge. Here, in happier days, cars had sped over the bridge and reached the toll booths. Instead, two Wraith tanks had not paid their tolls and set up camp outside the tunnel entrance. If the Chief focused his attention on one, the other would kill him.
A long history of cooperation with Cortana had made the Chief much more creative and less narrow-minded than he had been before. Stopping the tank outside the Wraiths’ range, he pushed open the cover of the cockpit and asked one of the Marines, “Have you ever tried boarding enemies?”
“Hell yes, sir,” he replied, “though I think it’s a bit suicidal.”
“Maybe not,” the Chief replied. “When I say ‘Go’, you are all to jump out of the tank and jump onto one of the Wraiths. You got your combat knives?” The female Marine waved hers. “Good. On my word, then.”
The Chief fired a long-distance shot to get the Wraiths’ attention.
He drove nearer. As the Wraiths boosted to get nearer to him, he yelled, “Gogogo!” The Marines jumped off and ran at the Wraiths. The Elite drivers, preoccupied with the Chief and his tank, didn’t notice them until they had jumped on and started stabbing. The combat knives, made of carbon steel, similar to large butcher’s knives, cut through their shields easily. Torn between firing at the Chief (who was annoying them with his machine gun) and the Marines frantically stabbing them, the Elites succumbed to multiple head wounds before they could reach a decision.
They had not a long way further to go. Up ahead was a road-block, where the Chief was forced to abandon his Scorpion.
“Pile out!” one of the Marines yelled. They jumped off.
Moving up the ramp that went over the roadblock, the Chief saw a telltale purple glimmer to his left. It was one of the Jackals’ beam rifles. Its late and unlamented owner lay beside it. He switched his old rifle for the new.
A Covenant infantry force was down below. “What on earth are they doing?” Cortana said. The Grunts seemed to be walking in circles around a burning car, while the Elites laughed.
Something was obviously wrong. Even the Chief had never seen anything so bizarre in his entire career.
“No time to find out,” he replied. With two rapid head-shots, he killed two of the Elites.
The change between the dancing Grunts and Covies charging at the Marines was instantaneous. Without any sort of coordination, as though they were enraged that they had been distracted in some gravely important ritual, the entire force ran straight at the Marines in a mob. A couple of rockets and some battle-rifle fire were enough to mash them.
They continued onwards. The Chief was able to put an invisible Elite and an Elite with a sword down with very cool sticks (he chucked one from the roadblock and it landed on the head of the sword Elite on the other side), the latter’s sword which he swapped with his own. Then his intrepid team moved on.
“Welcome to New Mombassa!” a Marine yelled outside. They emerged onto what resembled a park, albeit filled with Covenant merrymakers. The whole place was swarming with them. Beam rifles spat and plasma fire drenched the area.
With a fancy spin, a Gauss ‘Hog emerged around the corner. It was driven by a Staff Sergeant Atherton. “Use you on the gun, Chief,” he yelled.
For once, the Chief complied. With his Marine with the rocket launcher on the passenger seat, he re-acquainted himself with the ‘Hog’s Gauss cannon, a highly accurate gun similar in concept to the MAC gun, albeit much smaller. The first round blew a Jackal sniper apart; the second slammed into a Ghost and flung it onto the central paved area.
Unfortunately, that still left three Marines with no jobs to do. The Chief again worked out a plan. After creeping round for a while (funny what the Covenant could miss if a Warthog with a Gauss cannon was firing at them), he gave each of the leftover Marines a beam rifle, taught them how to use it, and said the most welcome phrase in the military textbook: “Cover me,” which amounted to “Shoot everything”.
“Sure thing, sir,” one of the Marines grinned.
The rest was easy. The Gauss cannon and his rocket-launcher Marine blasted apart the enemy, while pink beams zapped around. The Marines, initially very bad shots, quickly improved under the stress.
The Warthog moved on to the exit, where two Wraiths and Ghosts were patrolling. The Chief placed his beam rifle Marines on the central paved area, while he harassed the Wraiths.
Boom, boom, boom, boom.
The Gauss cannon shouted. One Wraith, then two, exploded into flames.
The Chief drove on. His beam rifle Marines signaled for evac.
They reappeared onto another open area in New Mombassa. Many brown-coloured skyscrapers reared like jagged teeth around them. The road, blocked at one end by a barrier, wound on for a little while before taking a ninety-degree turn to the left and ending in a roundabout. Two Wraiths were practicing their driving, as was a chain-gun ‘Hog.
The Warthog swung side on to the first Wraith.
“Fire!” the Chief shouted. As he fired several times, two homing rockets slammed into the Wraith. It exploded into blue flames.
They took care of the second Wraith in the same way. A Phantom glided over the rooftops, bearing two Ghosts.
“Time for a little payback,” the Chief quoted. He fired two accurate shots, destroying first one Ghost and then the other. The Phantom retreated.
They left the beaten-up Warthog at the foot of the steps. His two Marines, plus the three on the other Warthog, humped to the entrance of one of the buildings around the roundabout.
Striding through a hallway and up some stairs onto a higher level, the Chief saw the Scarab clunking over. There was no point engaging it, so he headed yet higher. The glass door opened onto a series of walkways elevated high above the ground. On the floor, he saw a rocket launcher. A reload was nearby.
He picked them up. The Scarab was now lumbering beneath the first of three catwalks. Marines all around were firing with battle-rifles and rocket-launchers at the Covenant that were standing on the back of the Scarab.
Taking a big breath, the Chief jumped from the first platform onto the back of the Scarab.
He had no idea how such a small hold could hold so many enemies, but there it was. No less than two Elites, two Jackals and a pair of Grunts were crowded onto the back, and another Elite was striding up the passage from the inside.
He threw down his rocket launcher and activated his sword. Sticking a plasma grenade onto one of the Elites’ face, he sliced the other soldiers apart.
As the Scarab reached the second bridge, many more of the Marines jumped down. They diced the Covenant, which actually included a pair of Hunters. They were quickly blasted apart by the Chief’s rockets.
Cortana uploaded herself to the Scarab’s computers. “Hmm,” she mused. “Let me work out the controls.” There was a pause. An odd, warbling music blared out suddenly.
“Nope,” she said. The music switched off, there was another pause, then she said, “Self-destruct in five.” As Cortana uploaded herself back to the Chief’s suit, the Chief and his Marines ran back to the top of the Scarab. It had by now stopped at the third bridge, and a ladder was dropped down by some other Marines.
They climbed up, just as the Scarab burst at the seams. Blue fire licked out and the mighty monster staggered, jerking slightly before finally falling apart. Through the smoke, a Pelican dropship flew down.
“That’s right you mothers, run!” Sergeant Avery Johnson shouted from within the cockpit.
The Chief looked upwards. The enormous Covenant flagship had deactivated its gravity lift.
“Not if we can help it, Sergeant,” came the voice of Miranda Keyes. “Extract the Chief and return to In Amber Clad.”
“Roger that,” Johnson said.
In her frigate, Keyes switched channels. “Sir,” she said to the image of Lord Hood, “the Prophet is bugging out. Request permission to engage.”
“Negative, Commander,” he replied. “That flagship’s too powerful for starside intercept.”
Meanwhile, the flagship was moving slightly forwards. Purple light, like a web, was appearing and parting before its nose.
“Ma’am!” Keyes’s navigation officer reported. “Slipspace rupture – they’re trying to jump inside the city!”
“There’s no time sir!” Keyes shouted. Out of the screen, the Covenant flagship was getting more and more of its bulk within the rupture.
“Green light. Green light to engage!”
As the Chief’s Pelican, dwarfed by the frigate, docked, In Amber Clad, dwarfed by the flagship, raced to pursue its enormous opponent. Twin jets of flame roared out behind it as it circled the central tower of New Mombassa.
“Punch it! Get us close!” Keyes shouted.
“Ma’am, without a destination solution –“
“We are not losing that ship!” Keyes said authoritatively.
The tiny frigate took up position right next to the flagship. The Prophet inside was probably so concerned with escaping from the failed assault of the city that he did not notice the tiny vessel hiding on its flanks. As both ships went through the rupture, the imbalances within space and time aligned themselves abruptly, right in New Mombassa. The resulting energy exploded outwards in a brilliant ball of white fire. Roads, cars and thousands of Marines and Covenant alike were blown outwards and consumed. Where there once was a city, there was only a flat, charred plain.