Halo Clairvoyance - Chapter 4
Posted By: Halochief89<Halochief89@hotmail.com>
Date: 13 March 2010, 12:13 am
Advanced Drawing Assignment
By Gary Cogdill
// 23:12 January 20th, 2555 On board the Thoughtless Resolve//
The Thoughtless Resolve's control cabin was frantic with activity; the chaos all too familiar for Nira having been through similar engagements. Nira, however, was in opposition, frozen in his gravity couch like a monument. His long deep-violet cape flowed languidly over the seatback with the bottom edge fluttering in the grav field's wake. Sangheili Zealots commanded the troop deployment to the planet, golden clad elites who had proven themselves in holy combat against the humans or along side them. They shouted quick instructive orders, their mandibles sap-clicking like the wings of a beetle caught in a sudden gust. Nira remembered his days as a lower ranked officer for The Covenant, how every slaughter of the humans brought him new feelings; pride, joy, disdain, to finally disgust. He was shaken quickly from his drifting thoughts by an approaching Zealot.
"Fleet Master, reports from the ground say Sentinels are burning the entire planet. They target not soldiers but the planet's skin," the Sangheili concluded.
Nira muscled out of his couch jerking it enough to release it from the grav lift that held it aloft. It slammed down onto the deck hitting a crewman.
"Images?" Nira growled in concern.
The Zealot shook his head, still in awe of the behemoth Forerunner guardians scowering the planet. Nira walked down to the main holo screen where two Sangheili crewmen danced over the controls and monitors of the Thoughtless Resolve's flight path.
"Something has awakened the planet," Nira breathed, pausing then continued," I think the Brutes had a hand in it." He turned back to his seat, twisting his cape around him before lifting the command couch back into it's nook in the gravity field.
"Fleet Master, the Brute's ships are behaving erratically, nothing like I've seen before," a technician said, eyes widening slightly as he dragged the image to the main viewer.
"The likes I've never seen either," he said clenching a fist. Nira hated confusion and blind floundering in situations like this. He needed to know.
The image of the burning planet was nothing special to Nira, years of glassing the Human's colony worlds made him numb to it but locations that once harbored the massive Sentinels seemed to be revealing something new about the planet. He looked closely, squinting for details. Trailing the lumbering machines was a metallic surface; definitely Forerunner.
"Quickly, what did our scans speak of when we first entered the system?" Nira asked. He searched the room for an answer but received none and his subordinates eyes betrayed only confusion.
"Did the Thoughtless even scan this planet?" He said angrily. He stared coldly at his crewmen until suddenly one stood.
"The planet never had any signs, Excellence," he said, only able to meet the Fleet Admiral's steady gaze for a moment before looking down.
The young Sangheili cringed slightly.
"And why did you not speak of this when we exited our jump?" Nira roared. The crew didn't respond. "No matter," he huffed, " This planet is an impostor; the planet itself is a Holy Relic and tried to disguise itself from us." Nira waved a claw at the image, the crew's eyes following.
The planet taunted them, tension in the room building as a gathering roar echoed through the chamber. The crew soon was chanting a Sangheili war cry they'd all learned during their training years ago as children on Sangheilios.
"We shall bring death to the Jiralhanae's door, save this Holy Installation and gain honor from this situation which has been building since we first stalked the Brute's fleet nearly a year ago!" Nira cried, rallying the bridge crew and now the entirety of the Thoughtless Resolve's personnel. His mandibles gridded into the Sanheili version of a grin, something he hadn't done in years. He felt his devotion to the Forerunners renewed as it had once swelled in him the first time. He would not allow these corrupt Sentinels destroy the beautiful planet.
// 23:12 January 20th, 2555 on Unknown forerunner installation, inside a behemoth sentinel //
The group quickly gained their composure and stood up. The inside of the Sentinel was stained with golden hues and lighting; the walls, floor, and ceiling all with strange patterns that were consistent with Forerunner aesthetics.
Gary walked up to what seemed to be windows, Linnea followed him wanting to find out the true nature of their situation. The Elites were more than enthusiastic about being inside Forerunner technology. The Sentinel steadied itself as it went over a steep ridge with a similar degree to the one the Sangheili were originally posted upon. The Special Operations Elites began to talk in their native tongue. Gary wasn't sure if their tone but it sounded like questions. The Spec Ops that had taken control of the team before they were abducted stepped forward, "Do the mighty Spartans have a strategy for us." Gary sensed the half sarcasm, ignored it, and nodded in reply.
"Yes, I do have a plan; We ask the AI what it wants with us." Gary looked at Linnea from the corner of his eyes to see if she approved or not. She made no move as was natural to Spartans, the slightest shift in posture might have signaled him yes. "Unless," he continued," you suggest we destroy this Sentinel from within?" The Elite flinched just slightly, a gesture only a Spartan could catch, taken aback a moment before shaking his head "no".
"No. We mustn't destroy this Holy Sentinel," Gary broke the seal on his helmet and lifted it off to give the Sangheili warrior the frown and smirk that mixed on his face. The Elite shifted weight to his hind most leg, a sign of adolescence, something a Sangheili warrior would never do and even less so a Special Operations team leader.
"What we do now is some how communicate with the construct. It seems even more ancient then the ones we saw in the reports," Gary said, "it seems we'll need to tap into this guy if we're ever going to get an in with him." He rapped on the wall with the back of his fist three times.
"I'll see what we can muster," the Spec Ops said walking into the Sentinel's belly.
I have a feeling this planet has a Monitor and he's not far from us, Gary thought sliding his helmet back into place with a click and hiss as the airlock sealed. The HUD reactivated but his motion sensor was made useless with the Sentinel's large yellow blip filling it. He'd have to adjust it's range later. Gary looked at Linnea, shoulders slumping a fraction of a millimeter.
"I'm tired of being stuck in Forerunner shit, Linnea," Gary sighed, referring to their previous engagement with the Brutes almost two years ago on Arctic IV, another Forerunner construct planet. Linnea's head dipped down a little in agreement; her armor's prototype camouflage couldn't understand the Forerunner alloy inside the Sentinel and she shut it off revealing olive armor plating.
Stumbling back into the room the Spec Ops conjured just enough wind to speak, "You need to see this. My brothers and I have uncovered something within the Sentinel." And with that he rushed back out the way he'd come. The Spartans stood and followed in one motion. The Sentinel's insides seemed like an endless maze.
Finally reaching the place the Elite led the Spartans noticed a panel with a hand print design similar to humans, five fingered.
"Please, Spartan, activate whatever hides within the confines of this construct," the Elite said, a hint of desperation and eagerness in his gruff voice. Gary walked over to the panel and watched the Forerunner symbology scrolling lazily across, over and behind the strange hand icon. Placing his hand in the same manner he pressed down on it, silently surprised to feel it resist like a solid object. A diagram of the Sentinel's insides lit and showed an entirely new configuration of the architecture. With jolt, everyone inside lost their balance as the Sentinel stopped dead in it's tracks.
"Did we just stop this thing?" Linnea asked as she looked down at her feet to rebalance herself. The Sangheili team leader walked up to the panel and looked over Gary's shoulder. Little too close there bud, Gary thought remembering his encounters with the serpentine aliens during the war.
"Interesting. So it seems the rumors are true about you Humans. You're able to command the Forerunner Relics." The Elite removed his helmet revealing a young Sangheili, too young to have achieved Special Operations rank already. The Elite's mandibles twitched in an expression no Human would ever figure out. Gary crinkled his nose slightly at the Elite, his face still obscured by his gold tinted mirrored visor.
Too ignorant to be Spec Ops and too young to be one either. "We must now discover a new path out of this leviathan," the Elite exclaimed as he moved his hands across the walls, savoring within himself the splendor of touching such a religious icon as this. He turned to Gary, " From what I saw of the files your Captain gave us you have knowledge of the Forerunner Installations, do you not?"
Gary nodded in response. The Elite seemed about to ask for a favor but before the elite could continue a small far off voice hummed a tune. A light sputtered in a dark hallway and the humming grew louder as the familiarly shaped Forerunner construct came bobbing into the room.
"Oracle!" The Elites gasped as one. It was a Monitor. Gary had been right but never thought it would come to them before remembering that the rampant AIs were all scheming to their core processes.
"Which Monitor are you?" Linnea asked curtly, taking a step towards the machine.
It's design was all too memorable; a single pulsing "eye" surrounded by a spherical chassis. The Monitor's humming continued as if not realizing anyone was there with it.
"Excuse me Oracle, but I..." the Sangheili approached the Forerunner's prized creation. It turned and floated up within inches of his face, scrutinizing him for nearly twenty awkward seconds.
"Meddlers," it chimed offhandedly in the metallic voice it's creators endowed it, proving it was annoyed with their presence. It drifted to the holo panel, pushing Gary roughly aside with the audacity the Spartans well remembered of his other two counterparts. Electricity arched from it's eye and into the panel.
"Excuse me, Monitor, but don't touch that," Gary said leveling his battle rifle at the luminous floating ball. "Reclaimer? Why do you insist on the spread of the parasite on this installation?" it said turning it's glowing pupil to Gary.
"The Flood? It's here on this Planet?" Gary asked in disbelief. "Indeed. The meddlers let them loose! After a hundred-thousand years of a perfect sustainability record a barbaric race of primates waltzed in and let them loose upon the planet!" the Monitor exclaimed having temporarily forgotten the panel. "Now nearly 34.003% of the installation is compromised by the infestation and bound to triple within the next 24 hours." It's dark blue eye studied the motley team. "I am pleased to see Reclaimers within my care. I haven't not had the pleasure in nearly a tenth of a million years!" it said bobbing in delight.
"Please, Oracle! What would you have us do to stop this foul plague?" the Spec Ops cried.
"Excuse me! I am quite rude. I forgot to give you my name. You may call me 252 Finite Power, I am the monitor of this weapons testing facility." Power chimed gleefully.
Gary watched as the Monitor maneuvered over to encompass his vision.
"So, Reclaimer, will you aid me in quelling this outbreak?"
Gary nodded. "SPLENDID!" the Monitor chuckled and zipped through the air in dance-like movement. "You must come with me so we may move this plan into action," it said. A door hatch in the floor popped open and the Monitor dropped out of sight. Gary shrugged and the team jumped down after it.
The group's fall was slowed by a gravity field and they were lowered to the forest floor once more. The stench of burning flesh and trees tainted the air. The monitor reappeared from the bushes in front of the team.
"Follow me Reclaimers!" it hummed. It disappeared again into the smoke leaving a contrail of light behind it. Linnea shrugged, a gesture small enough to be unnoticeable and followed Finite Power. Having no other plan the rest joined her. The entire battlefield had changed drastically within the space of an hour. What was once lush green forest was now a burnt carcass reeking of copper and tar. The sky was different as well, dark green sky was now blanketed by roiling clouds of fire and plasma.
Screeching reverberated across the valley, a sound Gary knew too well. The Flood was spreading. Radio was down for every faction. The Clairvoyance couldn't reach the Spartans and the Thoughtless Resolve couldn't reach their brethren Sanheili. This war had fallen back to the 20th century. The Spartans could care less. They were trained for every possible outcome, this being one of them. The Elites, Gary wasn't sure, in some train of thought would relish the challenge.
The group came to a halt. The Monitor had stopped it's journey at the face of a tree. A fleshy pod was stuck to the face of a tree as if it had been glued there and the Monitor seemed confused by it.
"What do we have here?" the Monitor puzzled floating closer to scan the pod. The pod was a new form, something the Spartans hadn't seen or read about. "It seems the flood have evolved more quickly than I had anticipated..." it concluded.
A strange eye like structure appeared beneath the skin of the pod as it stretched hidden tendons and muscles while scanning it's surroundings. The eye was pupiless but was shot through with prominent red veins and twitched around the pod in agitation.
"This does not forebode well," the Sangheili leader said as he took a step back," We must destroy it now before it does something we may not live to confess." Gary started to step back as well. The pod's eye disappeared but a new tendril sheared through the hide.
"What's this?" the Monitor sputtered tentatively closer to the appendage. It twitched in reaction to the Monitor's new close proximity.
The eye reappeared and looked at the group surrounding it. It seemed almost too bizarre even for the Flood. A strange muted rumble sounded from the pod as it began to quiver. The pod's "arm" tendril suddenly shot out a yellow fluid that splattered everyone. Everyone was shocked but unharmed.
Gary had gotten some on the left side of his helmet and his chest plate. He checked Linnea, her whole visor was smeared with it.
"Oracle?" Ilte' asked. The monitor hadn't removed his gaze from the pod. Slowly Finite Power turned to it's small band of Reclaimers and aliens. The fluid was eating away at the front of it's casing and blue eye.
"Shit, it's corrosive!" Gary shouted and his helmet began dissolving. The Monitor was shorting out as the fluid reached the delicate circuitry within it's chassis.
"Oh.. d-ddeeeaauurr.." the monitor faded, eye flickering until what remained of it landed in the dirt with a noticeable thud.
"By the Forerunners! The Oracle is dead!" a Spec Ops said. The Sangheili's metallic armor dissolving fast leaving them to tear the combat harnesses from their bodies before the corrosive yellow liquid reached their flesh. Gary flung his helmet away as several drops ran down his cheek. Even Spartan discipline couldn't keep him from screaming and he whipped out a can of biofoam spraying it on the wound. By the time the foam neutralized the corrosive he already had a wide gash on his cheek. The pain was enormous. Compared to plasma burns this was no contest. A handful of Elite's weren't quick enough and the acid burned to their wide torso's and they dropped dead. Only the Spartans and the Spec Ops leader remained.
Gary walked over to his helmet, picking it up from the mud, the helmet was almost entirely gone, the opening left was surrounded by scratched titanium missing the green paint that once covered it. Slapping it back on his head enough of it was still functional that the VISR module was still working although almost half of the helmet was corroded away. Linnea's visor was entirely gone but the rest of the helmet intact making her eyes visible and exposed. She decided to throw it away, without a functional helmet the camouflage system won't work. The helmet skipped across the ground into a fern .
"You alright Elite?" Linnea asked as she tied her hair back into a pony tail. Her blond hair stuck out like a sore thumb in the dark forest reflecting any light source.
"I am called Ilte'," placing his wrecked helmet on his head.. His face oozed purple blood from his eyes, mandibles and wounds. "I'm fine," he huffed, coughing up blood.
"No. You're not. Let us work you over," Gary said with biofoam canister in hand.
"No! I will not lose my honor to Human medical equipment!" Ilte' shouted and unsheathed his plasma sword.
Ilte' continued hacking up blood. It stained the soil and smelled of tar. "Let us continue the Oracle's wishes, let us rid this installation of the Flood in any manner possible," Ilte' said making his way over the closest hill, hunched over and dripping blood. The acid had crawled down his throat, it was only a matter of time before it would reach vital organs.
"Alright. I guess we'll need to contact Patterberg, find out how to destroy this damned place," Gary sighed as he slung his BR55 over his shoulder, magnets sucking it firmly in place. Linnea followed, the path soon turning into a steep hill reaching up above the forest. The trees were burning, the mountains were burning, the sky was burning, the planet was burning.
The silence was broken as the depleted uranium round of a MAC gun slammed into the valley, the impact knocking the trio off their feet. The scream and roar of banshees, phantoms and pelicans alike filled the air. The sight was beautiful at that moment with the Humans and Sangheili fighting together against the common enemy that greeted them on the surface. The invasion force was met by Sentinels and Flood, a foe neither species was equipped for.
One of the leading pelicans was hit by a Sentinel laser, the left wing and turbine gouged out. A shower of fire and melting metal tore open the forest floor below. It's momentum carried the wreckage tearing through the forest leaving a half mile wound in the ground across the group's path. Similar firefights erupted across the sky and the Flood threw themselves on the banquet the Sentinels provided. Corpses both Human and alien littered the wreckage.
"That pelican is out ticket in contacting the Clair," Gary remarked sliding down the hill. Linnea looked at Ilte' and he to her both silently agreeing to Gary's plan and followed him down the loose-soiled slope. The pelican's shrapnel powdered the ground in still molten beads splotching their path like the snow of the first winter day on Earth. The metal shards caught the light from the sky and the ground fires making the whole scene seemed surreal.
Linnea shook herself out of the moment's trance and continued down the hill. Several Combat Forms burst from the wreckage of two downed banshees half-melted by laser fire. Their shrieks froze the blood in Ilte's veins and turned his legs to stone. He felt shell-shocked but managed to turn slightly to see the male Spartan slice clean the Combat Form's head, it's blood glowed a sickly yellow and gushed from it neck to spray across the forest floor.
Moving with the momentum of his previous attack the Spartan pulled back into a stabbing motion burying his blade deep into the spongy flesh of another Flood. The fight was like a dance cleanly transitioning from one movement to the next and each attack connecting as swiftly as any Sangheili and gracefully more so.
Linnea joined the fray with her sub-machine guns spouting fire into a Pure Flood Form. The caseless metal-jacketed rounds penetrated the centipede-like creature and tore it's body in two.
Gary released his BR from it's magnetic holster as more Flood surrounded the three. The struggle continued as Ilte' vigorously struck down the Flood and combating his fear with each blow. The Spartans displayed their coordination in return for Ilte's courage.
When the battle finally ended, twenty mangled corpses lay around them in a poor circle. A perfect ending, just like they were taught of Sparta and her warriors. An eerie calm grew around them while battles raged elsewhere.
"Lets go," Gary said waving Linnea and Ilte' over. The pelican was thrashed, the only remaining piece of it was the cockpit complete with half of the pilot's corpse; the other half incinerated by the Sentinel's lasers.
"Poor souls.." Ilte' whispered.
"Here's the radio, thank god, it's still intact." Gary pressed down on the button.
"UNSC Clairvoyance, this is Sierra-089, do you read?" Gary said into the cracked console. Only static. He repeated again. "UNSC Clairvoyance, this is Sierra-089 do you read me? Over."
This time a faint but detectable sound came in return. It grew louder materializing into the voice of Patterberg. "Sierra-089, this is Captain Patterberg. Whats your status and why are you hailing us from Golf 237's radio?"
"237 crashed, sir. We've been trying to reach you. The planet's defense system is active because of the Flood outbreak. We need to destroy the installation before the contamination spreads." Gary replied. Linnea strolled out of the remainder of the troop carrier and searched moodily for any unlikely survivors.
"Alright, Sierra-089. During the attack the Elites took out a Brute cruiser carrying a modified power supply for it's planet glassing weapon. The Elites have a remote detonator strapped to it but we need to get within ten yards to start the timer. The whole ship is shielded from outside signals," Patterberg explained. "The timer will be set for thirty minutes elbow room so we can get off the surface. The Elite's ship will be picking you three up. But let me lay this out for you, Spartan, the explosion is going to be huge. It should be well enough to tear the planet apart."
Gary looked to Ilte'. He looked impressed and nodded then turned to assist Linnea.
"Sounds good. All we need is transportation and we'll be set, sir." Gary said as he watched the carnage through the broken cockpit windows.
"237 was towing a warthog when it left the Clair, Spartan. Sorry I can't be more of help. I'm coordinating the retreat at this moment." The radio went dead.
Alright.. Gary thought, we gotta get off this time-bomb before we're space dust. He turned to see Linnea cradling a badly wounded marine, her right leg broken and third degree burns blotting her face. He hardly noticed these when he realized who it was. It was the rookie who'd bumped into him the night before.
"She needs medical treatment soon, Gary. I can't believe she's not in shock yet." Linnea said setting her down and gingerly straightening the marine's shattered leg. Gary looked around for the medical supplies mandatory for every pelican but the containers were empty having lost their contents in the attack. He pulled up the roster on the inner plate of his visor, she was listed as Lance Corporal Ren Church and only held that rank as a sole survivor of a previous mission. Gary listed her as critical, something he'd seen all too often on the battlefield over the years.
"Get her in the hog and spray some biofoam on the burns. We can't do much about her leg until we get back to the Claire for surgery." Gary said.
"I believe I saw a human vehicle buried in the mud over there," Ilte' said gesturing to a large mound not far from the crash site. Gary trotted to the hog, gripped it's exposed rear bumper and began to pull at it. Slowly the vehicle came free with a fat sucking sound. Warthogs could handle anything, even if it was covered in alien mud.
"Everyone in. Linnea you've got the turret, watch our ass. Ilte' you've got shotgun, keep our injured marine safe, got it?" Gary said curtly. Ilte' accepted the order without argument and took the human into his arms like one would a child and squeezed his mass into the passenger seat of the hog. Linnea bounced into the M41 Vulcan turret and powered it up.
"Gun's still hot," Linnea said twisting around to their six. Gary got into the driver seat and fired her up. The engine roared as the liquid hydrogen flowed into it. The green beast was still operating at peak efficiency and they zipped off through the burning forest. The Flood corpses were no where to be seen, not a good sign. Gary pulled the hog through the forest following a NAV marker he'd received from Patterberg.
At only one kilo left the battles around them noticeably dwindled as UNSC and Sangheili forces retreated to their vessels. Sentinels held their fire in an unspoken armistice and returned their attention to the planet.
"Hopefully they got everyone." Linnea said looking at the grim scene.
500.... 350....200 meters. They grew nearer until they finally spotted the downed Brute CCS cruiser. But there was something not right about it. Fat yellow lesions spread across it's hull.
"LOOK OUT!" Ilte' shouted, too late. The nose of the hog dipped down, the tail rose and they were hurled from the vehicle. They were unable to see their assailant but whatever it was, it was a behemoth.