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Noble Team: Origins (Part 3)
Posted By: Flugel Meister<flugel_mcdougall@hotmail.co.uk>
Date: 9 June 2010, 8:29 pm

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Part Three

Forty-eight hours of crawling. It wasn't significant by any means. Jake had crawled to a target before and over a much greater distance. It wasn't uncommon for him and Jen to fill a week with crawling. In fact, three years earlier they had taken out a Brute encampment after a gruelling 92 kilometre stalk. It was only the second time that Jake had encountered a Brute, and where most thought them to be unpredictable in combat, Jake thought they were a much simpler opponent than the Elites, as long as you were the one initiating combat.

ONI had long figured out that the Brutes were pack animals to the core, with an enhanced sense of smell. Communication was often done purely with the aid of pheromones. Pack dominance, hunting and mating were all achieved through the production of powerful, honest pheromones, and to great effect. A competent chieftain was able to mould a pack to his liking, manipulating unswerving loyalty from his subjects, all from the most primitive of methods. But this could also be their undoing.

ONI had sent both of them deep into Covenant space to take out an encampment of nearly twenty five hundred Brutes, a rare gathering of so many loyal subjects, all of them commanded by a renowned and a feared Chieftain. ONI saw this unusually large pack as a considerable threat as they had been utilised on several occasions as Covenant shock troops during the destruction of the outer colonies.

All previous attempts to take out the camp had been thwarted by vigilant orbital patrols and advanced monitoring systems on the surface. Even a full-scale drop by the 209th and the 501st ODST battalions was ineffective. The defensive measures that had been implemented by the chieftain were substantial, which showed that, contrary to belief, he had a great deal of influence on the Covenant hierarchy. He was a prime target.

Jake and Jen had slowly made their way towards the encampment without incident and identified the chieftain. Then ONI gave the order. It only took a single shot to shatter his thick skull and then chaos descended. Each brute sought to stake their claim to the position of chieftain, which was made worse with the use of a new toy from the ONI arsenal, a pheromone charge. It was a rifle launched grenade the size of an apple, filled with a concentrated mix of hormone controlling chemicals. Once the brutes got a lungful they went berserk, ripping each other to pieces in an effort to dominate. It was a joy to watch. Afterwards, any stragglers were simply mopped up with a few rounds to the head.

This mission, however, was proving to be far more cumbersome in nature. A dense security perimeter had ensured a slow pace from their first encounter of the Elites, of which there were many. Jackals and grunts filled the rest of the ranks, mainly in the form of stationary defensive pickets that were dotted around the target location. Obviously the Elites didn't want them wandering around.

Jake's COM crackled into life. "Visual of target perimeter, two hundred metres," Jen warned. She was only twenty metres ahead of him, but he was unable to see any change in terrain. The dense jungle was especially good at cloaking everything in a sea of green and brown.

"Acknowledged," he replied. "Push forward to the perimeter then we'll see what ONI want."

Jen pushed forward, towards the tree line and Jake followed behind, watching her back. When he sided up to her at the jungle's edge he could see exactly why ONI and Ackerson were so keen on a mission to Arcadia. Before him, was the largest assemblage of Covenant personnel that Jake had ever seen. There were thousands of Grunts, Jackals and Elites, all of them occupying a vast open area where the jungle had been cleaved away. At the centre were several ring-like rock formations, which were currently being cleared of vines and foliage. Among the ruins were several odd looking creatures that floated around, all of which appeared to be examining the rock formations.

Dotted around the entire perimeter were elevated sniper perches and Shade gun turrets and a constant flow of patrolling Banshees. But the main spectacle was a single, ominous Scarab stood to the right of the rock formation. As Jake took in the scene before him, a bright stream of green fire erupted from the head of the scarab, striking at the earth surrounding the structure. The Arcadian soil was vaporised in the intense heat, revealing yet more of the sandy-coloured rings.

Jake looked over at the vague silhouette of his sister. "Well, what do you think?"

"I'm not sure. I know we're good. But this, "she said. " This is something else."

Jake had to agree. Two Spartans would hardly be enough to make much of a difference here. But orders were orders. He tabbed his display and linked his COM frequency to the high altitude S.T.A.R.S. probe above. "Romeo Five One, this is Red Victor. Objective Hadrian reached, request instructions, over."

The VISR text reply was brief and concise.


[B] To be continued...