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Project PEGASUS: Chapter 0
Posted By: (ENS) Rabid_Gallagher<rabid_masterchief@hotmail.com>
Date: 9 July 2008, 10:37 pm

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      This is the audio log of Doctor Nathaniel Aximus, of the United Nations Space Command's Science Division. I am…was…the lead scientist on Project CERBERUS on UNSC Science Ship 12-5729 Jolly Roger, here in the orbit around Procyon VI. This may be the last transmission I will ever make, for our sins are creeping on my soul.
      We were charged by General Lambert of ONI to create a unit super soldier program that would have been a greater success than the SPARTAN, SPECTRE, or even the XENO program. These soldiers, raised from tubes, would have been bred to fight with everything that the best soldiers fight with: experience. The two keys to this program were genetic memory and enhanced medical and pharmaceutical drugs.
      The cloning process would age them almost to full maturity in the span of two weeks, and then it would rapidly slow down to a normal age rate. We had tested it fully on animals, and our first test subjects were flawless in their aging parameters. Flawless. They were healthy, normal human beings that had happened to be grown from test tubes. It was a success, a complete success, and soon we moved onto training.
      Then…he…got his hands on them.
      Hans Schiletzger, the Commanding Officer of Spectre Team Five, begun their strict training regime, and that's when the changes were noticeable. Twitches, growls, animalistic-like tendencies to food and even sex. It was out of control.
      He did…something to them. I don't know what. It has to do with the crystal. That damn crystal. It…made Lieutenant Holtz go crazy, along with the rest of them. He never should of told them that it would work! He never did! Pegasus needs to be tamed! It needs to be tamed! We need a…
      Oh God, they're breaking through the door! Quickly, Eugene, activate the…No…no! Let me go! Please, no! Oh, god…

      North American Eastern Seaboard, Zone 5
      NOVEMBER 27th, 2552

      "Then the message continues to repeat, sir."
      Colonel Robert Gallagher's eyebrow arched slightly, writing down notes with a stylist onto his data-pad. The presenter, Lieutenant Edelweiss, sat across from Gallagher himself, in front of the old wooden desk. This gave Harry Edelweiss the entire view of his desk: How he had his name laser-cutted into a faux-gold, flat bar. Two old pens, made as such, were placed flat and perpendicular on the side of the gold name, with the solid oak base laying flat upon the desk itself. On the bookcase behind Gallagher, still writing, was a picture of a blonde-haired woman, beautiful even in age, with her head on Gallagher's shoulder. Both of them had a smile on their face, and the sun was shining on them in a dusky setting, with Gallagher's head gently leaning on her's.
      Gallagher looked up.
      "Yes sir."
      "Do we even know that officer?"
      "I've never heard of him, sir."
      Robert shook his head, reading another file as Harry continued to look at his desk. There was another picture behind Robert on the same bookcase, with Robert in civilian clothes outside an olde tyme shop on what looked like, judging from the purple finches and orange colored brushes in the background, Alpha Centauri. He was with his wife, a blonde hair woman with her locks cut short, her hand in his, with a little kid sitting with them on a park bench. All three of them had smiles on their faces.
      "This is just plain weird." Gallagher said again, reaching under his table for another datapad, writing some more on its clear surface.
      "They said to pick someone who's worked with Hans before."
      "Who do you think then, Harry?" Gallagher spoke, bringing out a barograph before setting it within his small briefcase, incased in black leather. It had the look of professionalism. and of something sentimental, but that was it from the briefcase as the Lieutenant garniered a look.
      "You want Henderson, that's for sure. He knows Hans, knows how he operates." Harry spoke softly, sitting still, his eyes looking outside before snapping back towards the SPECTRE Commanding Officer.
      "I'd also recommend Lieutenant Anthony Davis, Sergeant Brezchiza-Weiss, and Major Mrugistaski."
      This prompted him to access his computer with a flick of his finger, using his thumb-mouse to bring up the PERSONNEL button on the computer's display. This brought him to an agent directory, where he clicked on Davis' name and rank. He could see the thirty-something SpecFor operative's eyes, and how they seemed to want blood. His features, while handsome, were different, as if they were permanently laced into a scowl.
      Gallagher nodded. It made sense, a lot of good sense, because he had skills that would fit the mission. Anthony had both the speed and the medical expertise to play a double role in the operation. A medic and a forward scout were honored positions, and Gallagher understood fully well how much of a warrior Anthony was, as well as a highly praised lifesaver. To top it off, he had worked with Wolf before on a few other missions in the Human-Covenant War. The two of them were members of the original eight-man team.
      He could also see why he would pick Sergeant Petya Brezchiza-Weiss out for a mission like this as her picture and her file popped up; she was a master of close-quarter combat, always preferring to use Shotguns and the like against anything else. Not to mention she was qualified to use and disarm explosive ordnance, and for a mission like this that would be the most handy out of everything else. Another good choice. Her face, unlike Anthony's, was a slight bit cheerful and looked a bit on the pauper side. However, besides the lack of makeup, she looked tired and old, something that is expected for someone who's been in as many missions as she has.
      And Hideaki Nobuyuku Mrugistaski was both a sniper and a fan of computer operation systems. He was good at the latter, very good, and Gallagher knew that he had the balls to get the job done. The Korean was another smiler, his definite Asian looks gave him the look of an outsider, but Colonel Gallagher knew what the Lieutenant Commander was made of.
      The Colonel was surprised. Harry knew how to pick a good team: He had the craziness of Lieutenant Davis and Sergeant Brezchiza-Weiss combined with the collective cool of Commander Henderson and Lieutenant Commander Mrugistaski. Each person skills complimented one another's in some way or another, and each had experience operating in urban and tight-corner situations.
      "Good job, Harry. You'll be there with them, right?"
      The Naval Lieutenant nodded.
       "You goin' home, sir?"
      "Yes, definitely. I'll see you tomorrow, Harry."

      The Warthog pulled into the driveway.
      Inside the Warthog 's covered plates, hiding the driver and the occupants from view, were two ODST support troopers, each with a BR55 Battle Rifle and prepared to fight against any threat to the ONI Colonel's safety. Thankfully, unlike the attempted car-jack a few weeks prior, nothing of that sort happened along the forty-two mile drive today. Gallagher stepped out of the sideseat and waved at the driver, who saluted back to the Colonel and pulled the Warthog in reverse. The two ODST troopers nodded as well, holding onto the bars and railings in the troop hold of the Warthog before it took off down the suburban street to connect on the main road.
      Gallagher looked at his small lawn and shook his head: His little girl had forgotten to place her toys back where they belonged back in the house. He walked across his little path walk, the sun just setting along the mountains backaways while cars in the distance drove with each other. Robert smiled as his hands twisted open the knob to his house, a hard day down the drain already as he returned home.
      "I just finished dinner!" A voice came from the kitchen, down the main hallway that led to the living room. Gallagher smiled, setting his briefcase down and slipping off his black, glossy shoes down on the hard tile surface. His black-socked feet then stepped on white carpet, that smile still stuck on his face as he entered into the kitchen and saw his wife at the table at the far end of the kitchen, that area expertly decorated with a different set of wall paint against the dull white of the actual kitchen. It was Shepard's Pie, Gallagher's favorite meal.
      His wife smiled as Gallagher bent down and kissed her on the cheek.
      She was beautiful today, wearing her long sleeve shirt that complimented her blue jeans. She wore socks as well, but they were snug under a pair of sandals. Her body rested against the tight metal of the wheelchair, but they revealed a still taunt body that used to be very much active. A cast was around her right leg, keeping it safe under its tight, protective surface.
      "Had a nice day?" She said, her short blonde hair coming to her chin in a very appealing way.
      "Sort of. Had to deal with another job coming up, but I shouldn't have any direct contact with it. I saw Jeremy's truck outside."
      "Yeah, didn't want to go to Grad-Blast or whatever it was." She said, rolling her wheelchair over to the open space between two chairs across from Robert.
      A young woman, at least of fifteen years of age, walked down the stairs visible from the kitchen table by the living room. She made a bee-line to the table, and sat down next to her father.
      "How was your day?" Gallagher signed to his daughter.
      "Oh, it was great! Victoria took me to a restaurant with Kevin and we had a great time! But then he got a call back to the school for that damn play of his." She signed back, smiling, taking a plate from the table and sticking a giant wad of hamburger meat, corn, and mashed potatoes onto her plate. Her body-type was naturally thin, her face was cute-looking, and the only real 'problem' was that she could not hear.
      Nobody cared.
      "Hey, Rob, you get anything else on the way home?"
      "Nah, couldn't. Sergeant Horvath wouldn't allow any deviations from the set plan. You know Tyler, still messed up from that incident three years back." Gallagher and Melissa had told each other when Alison had lost her hearing when she was two that they would never speak out loud in front of her, if only for respectable reasons. Jeremy, as they signed together, walked in the kitchen. With a shag for hair he was built of muscle and height. Standing a few inches taller of his six foot two inch dad, he sat next to his mother and smiled at his parents.
      "Hey Mom, Dad, squirt." He signed, gaining a chuckle from the parents and a playful punch from Alison.
      "Work good?"
      "It was okay."
      "I'll be right back, have to take care of something." Alison signed as she stood up and walked away from the table. Gallagher immediately started to speak after she had her back to him.
      "The situation is getting worse. It's like another war's sprouting out in the Outer Colonies again." Robert spoke up, taking a rather big bite from his meal.
      "And all I get for help is just a simple 'Yeah, go ahead'. Makes me wish I was working back in the field." Gallagher spoke, taking another bite from his meal and quickly consuming it.
      Before either his wife or his son could object to his apparent death wish, a loud ring screamed out from Robert's pants, his work phone gaining the attention of Melissa and Jeremy as they stopped eating and stared at Robert, who took out the small cellular device from his pocket and read who was calling. A sigh escaped his lips as he collapsed it into its normal carry position and slipped it back into his pant's pocket.
      "I have to go."

      Colonel James Ackerson was pissed.
      "We lost all fucking contact with them! And yet you still sit on your ass eating fucking dinner?!"
`      "It's oh five thirty here, Colonel, and I'm still trying to get a hold of Central Communications for that communication realignment. We don't handle that anymore, especially after your last directive."
      "Goddamit it, Dobbs, you watch your fucking tongue. Get me communications, or else!" Ackerson screamed into the viewer before angrily flicking off the power to the viewer between him and Colonel Henry Dobbs. Ackerson turned his attention to his office-to-receptionist intercom, pressing his index finger down on the green activation button with such force that it almost broke.
      "Katherine, is Colonel Gallagher here?"
      "He just walked in, I'll send him in."
      James stood up and hustled himself to the side of the desk, shoving a full folder-disk into the disk-shredder as Robert Gallagher entered into the office. Ackerson turned his head sharply at the Special Operations Colonel with an almost inhuman speed, snapping it sickly.
      "We've lost all contact with Hades Secundus , and I mean all fucking contact! My only fucking link to that planet is a Naval Captain and a disgraced fucking ONI Colonel! You need to assemble your damn team, get some damn UNSC primary involvement in there too, and save that damn system!" James yelled at him with his voice almost at fever pitch, and it scared Gallagher. He was in a frenzy, walking and pacing across his office and staring at the floor until the end of his sentence, where he closed the distance between him and the experienced soldier in an instance.
      "Colonel, calm down. You're scar-"
      "I'm what?! Robert, we're about to lose everything in that damn system, and I got the President of the fucking UN breathing down on our collective necks! And you're here, listening to me tell you to get that damn system and you have the fucking nerve to tell me I'm scaring someone!?"
      "Excuse me, Colonel Ackerson? Admiral Hood is on the main hardline holoviewer. He wants to speak to both you and Colonel Gallagher."
      Ackerson pulled himself away from Gallagher and rushed to his main, briefing viewer, flicking the knob to the 'LINE 2' connection. Hood's face, adorned with his white combination cover, came into full view of both the ONI officers.
      "Colonel Ackerson, Colonel Gallagher. Am I interrupting anything?"
      Both of the officers responded with a 'no, sir', standing at a relaxed parade rest in front of Hood.
      "Good. I secured the UNSC Orpheus and the Latinas for the Hades system operation. Colonel Gallagher, is your team assembled?"
      "Not officially, no, sir. I can have them ready in two hours, plus thirty minutes for the other support team."
      "Then you have two hours and thirty minutes to get your team onto the ships. Colonel Dobbs will have direct communications with you and me based on his location, and Colonel Ackerson here will have overseeing commanding. You lead the ground operation, Gallagher. Any problems?"
      "No, sir!" Both of them exclaimed, snapping to attention with a slam of their feet hitting the tiled floor of Ackerson's office. Hood nodded, before the link on Hood's side cut, ending communication from the UNSC Terra to ONI Central Command Headquarters. Colonel Gallagher then turned his eyes towards the higher-ranked ONI officer, opening his mouth to speak first.
      "Can I---"
      "Get the fuck out of my office, Gallagher."

      Commander Henderson sat in a tight circle with the other three Spectre operatives, each member of the Spectre strike group sitting cross-legged in a cross pattern. To the aged commando's right was Major Mrugistaski, his tight face looking down at his disassembled weapon and his hands working slowly to re-piece it together. The former BR55's trigger was now being refitted into the weapon, and the black matted color of the gun was stained by darker patches of grease and other liquid discharges from the cleaners in the middle of the group.
      To his left was Sergeant Brezchiza-Weiss, a M90 shotgun folded out and disassembled before her. She appeared very focused in her work, her azure eyes piercing the covers of the casings as she examined each shell of the shotgun, checking if it was up to specs for her. As she placed the round down on the ground in front of her after inspection she would grease up parts of her weapon in order to make sure they were ready for the upcoming fight.
      But Lieutenant Davis, sitting across from him, merely stared at the Commander with an odd look in his eyes.
      Luke could see how easily the operative's eyes could stare at him, a mix of blue and green curiosity that could unnerve even the most hardened soldiers in the UNSC. His weapon was already cleaned, everything was inspected, and now he sat there with nothing else important to do. His hands rested on his kneecaps, his neck perched forward and his back arching with it. Luke was getting worried more by the minute, he had no idea why the operative decided it was important for him to stare at him like he was.
      "You got a problem, Cormorant?"
      "Maybe I do. If that's the case, whatcha goin' to do about it?" He talked back, leaning a bit more forward to prick his point even more with his tone, keeping Wolf back on his ass where he was. 'Samurai' laughed.
      "Hush it, Cormorant. He's not new, been through a lot more shit than you have." Mrugistaski's voice washed over the two, oblivious to why the two were fighting each other, or if they even knew each other.
      The Italian operative then turned his gaze back to Wolf.
      "That so?"
      "If you got a problem, spill it out." Luke countered, his tone low and predatory, as if it was a threat to gamble on his past experiences. The thirty-ish operative leaned forward in the four-person circle, his hands gripping tight on his kneecaps. Already Wolf was beginning to feel the hunt was creeping on, as if he needed to watch his back on this operative.
      "Neezchiv! Natsa noga bruckiev!" Petya hushed them, with her gentle yet piercing voice as it carried across the room easily. The rest of the soldiers in the Hanger stopped what they were doing to look at the secretive ONI special forces, their quarrel raising the attention of everyone around.
      Even Sergeants Stacker and Reynolds.
      "Look at them. Always a bout of drama when you deal with a Spectre." Reynolds' soft voice spoke between him and Stacker in their corner of the Hanger, waiting for the mission to begin. They were both standing together with ODST Battle Armor adorned on their bodies, each member of the ODST platoon already having their weapons ready and prepped for the next two hours before the mission would commence. Each soldier stood behind the two Sergeants, save their absent Lieutenant who was with the Captain, and stared at the spectacle a series of yards before them.
      "Don't worry about it, I know Henderson. I know Gallagher too. I was there when he was battle-promoted, and I know he doesn't choose men who try to start shit with…" Stacker's voice was rough, coarse, but it was smooth and had a pleasurable twang to it that catch both the attention of go-getters and down-trotters. However, even the veteran could let his voice crack as situations develop, and one was beginning.
      The smaller Spectre, however more sprung than his commanding officer, was on top of the older and more experienced Wolf, their arms locked in a death grip in a match where no one wanted to give in. Stacker was already running, with Reynolds holding the rest of the ODST squad back from letting loose and attempt to break up the fight, knowing Stacker and the other two Spectres was enough to stop the fight from breaking out more.
      The entire Hanger Bay came to a still as the older Spectre pulled the younger and lighter man down, attempting to bring his knee into Davis' groin. However, Anthony knew this maneuver well enough to anticipate it when Wolf had pulled him down, and twisted his hips so the side of his pelvis took the hard blow. His elbow slipped down from the grip that Luke had on him and forced itself down onto Wolf's stomach, a surprised look on his face.
      Petya's strong hands grabbed Luke's left arm, while Sergeant Stacker grabbed the other one, and together they both pulled the respected field operative away from the scuffle, while Mrugistaski managed to subdue Davis by sheer strength. He was snarling, like an animal, anger and hatred taking control of the normally cool and calm soldier.
      "Calm down, Lieutenant!" Stacker shouted back at the officer, letting Wolf regain air back into his lungs, his voice drawn and pursed. Both of them were warriors, but something was definitely wrong with the other Spectre trooper.
      "I won't! He let my friend die on Cerberus! The same planet we're heading to right now! He let him die!" He pointed at the older soldier, his ice red hot with revenge and his fingers pursed with death.
      "What the hell is he talking about, Commander Henderson?"
      "I left one of our comrades behind. It was either him or the entire strike force, Davis!"
      "You never leave a man behind, Commander! That's part of the creed! That's a damn line in the UNSC Code of Honor! You were there when the Colonel gave us the speech!"
      "Don't you dare speak to me about that, Davis! Don't you ever, ever sp---"
      They slipped apart from the grips of their companions and continued their assault.

      Colonel Ackerson stared at the data streaming down the screen, his eyes red from lack of sleep.
      After his breakdown he was much more calm and collective, not screaming and minding his manners around those who were ranked higher than him. He had regained what measure of control was left in his body. He was sitting right in front of a dual-purpose holodisplay picture, with one side showing the face of Colonel Henry Dobbs and his control center in the background, and the other showing important data.
      "So you haven't received anymore intelligence on BELLIARUS?"
      "None whatsoever. Just seems to drop off the radar. Section 0's keeping a tight hold on this. I tried sending communication to General Lambert, but I've received nothing."
      He doesn't know…
      "I'm been trying to get a hold of him myself. Look, send me all related files on all currently listed Section 0 operations."
      "Including the archived notes?"
      "Including the archived notes."
      "My team will begin sending you the data."
      Ackerson nodded, turning his face to an overview of the system, the three planet star system's orbit inclinations and TACCOM readout showing brightly against the high resolution of planets and stars.
      "Has the Orpheus and the Latinas arrived in system, yet?"
      "Just now, sir. The Orpheus has begun primary operations, but we have no idea where the enemy ships are."
      "Alright. Make sure Captain Vaiter informs me if they do decide to bring a fight. She has to inform me first. Out." Ackerson cut communications with Dobbs before he turned his attention towards the rest of the information.
      The buzzer to his secretary rang.
      "Yes, Katherine?"
      "Sir, General Lambert is on line one."
      "Thank you." He spoke quietly, switching off the intercom and moving his chair over to his far right, his televiewer activating.
      He saw the face of General Lambert snap into focus, his features easily noticeable, enough for Ackerson to leave a mental file on his facial features in the instant the picture fed into focus.
      Pronounced facial bone structure. Protruding chin, minimally notched, frontal bone slightly protruding, strong jaw, pronounced nose, tip rounded, sides appropriate. Lips…thin to average. Teeth wide, even incisors, flat, square, straight, closely together. Ears…average size, auricles thin towards upper side, short lobes. Diagonal scar across left forehead from left hairline diagonally down and inwards to middle of left eyebrow. Clean shaven. Fair skin…Yup, this is him, alright.
      "General Lambert."
      "Colonel Ackerson. I trust you would keep your well-tarnished nose out of my business?""
      "General, however you may think that my work here is personal, you're treading on a thin line here. Do I have to remind you that I am the ONI Chairman?"
      The face on the holoviewer laughed, a deep and guttural laugh that Ackerson attributed to the Brutes who held him hostage over Mars, the General's eyes a bright blue, a very bright blue, something that made Ackerson wary.
      But he never backed down from a challenge.
      "I'd take you for an aggressive man, Colonel James Ackerson, but not for a fool." General Augustus Lambert replied back, looking to his left a brief moment to grab a holopad, playing a video. It was of James' ex-wife and child, playing in a park near Berlin, Zone 3. The pad's attention then drew to a officer with a military-grade M99 Sniper Rifle, held in a case but still noticeable, in a hotel building a block away, but with a clear view of the park. He only noticed the figure in the dark, the camera filming him in Berlin illuminating him against the darkness. Ackerson flinched.
      Was this asshole threatening me?!
      "I trust you'll order Gallagher's men away from Cerberus. Lambert out."
      Ackerson stared at the holoviewer as it blanked out, replaced with a faux blackness.
      "How dare he!" Ackerson breathed in heavy, exhaling out like a lion, his lungs tight and his forehead redding with hatred.
      "Katherine, get me Lord Hood. Now."
      "Yes, sir." The cool voice of his latest secretary glided over the intercom, cooling and professional compared to Ackerson's tense and aggressive voice pushing through. A few seconds later, Admiral Terrance Hood's face appeared on the holoviewer, haggered and tired, his eyes drooping. Ackerson must have awoken him from his slumber, but he didn't care.
      "What is it, Colonel?"
      "Sir, I have reason to believe that General Augustus Lambert, Commanding Officer of all Section Zero activities, has committed treason. I wish to carry out an investigation."'
      "…You have evidence?"
      "Verbal, sir. He spoke to me."
      "Very well. Carry it out. But, next time…"
      "It had to do with Cerberus, sir. I did not trust anyone else."
      A silence calmed over the both of them, but Hood's drooping eyes suddenly snapped open.
      "What did he say to you?"
      "He threatened my wi…ex-wife and my child if I continued operations in Cerberus."
      "…Alright. I can't say that your information made the tension any less easy, but at least we're sure this isn't an Insurrectionist ploy. Get a team, search General Lambert's house… I never would have thought of him for instigating rebellion."
      "You've seen how he treats people like us. He loves the soldiers, hates us officers. He always wanted it all." Ackerson spoke to Hood as if he was a fellow comrade, when both of them knew that wasn't the case. Hood did things by the book, Ackerson was all on the fly and always hard to read. Both of them represented the best of the UNSC, the light and the dark, the good and the evil.
      "Colonel Gallagher's team has made it in system, correct?"
      "Yes, sir."
      "Good. I need to get to sleep, but thank you for contacting me. Hood out."
      Ackerson stared at the holo-viewer before he turned his head back towards the open window, displaying the CENTCOM command building near the Capitol Building, off into the distance. He smiled as he leaned back into his chair, knowing that he had this in his pocket.
      Nobody beats me at my game. Nobody.