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Attack on Installation 06, part 17
Posted By: Jake Trommer<wedgefan@comcast.net>
Date: 10 April 2009, 7:14 pm

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Attack on Installation 06
Chapter 14
1745 Hours, July 09, 2553 (Military Calendar)
Tharidanis System, Installation 06

      Two Elites lay on the ground of the corridor leading to the pulse-fire generator, purple blood caking their armor where bullet holes had been drilled through. Gunnery Sergeant Will Reynolds, standing next to red-armored Major Domo Usze 'Taham, shook his head. "I'm sorry, Major Domo."
      'Taham looked at Reynolds, shook his head sharply, and spit onto the body of one the dead Sangheili. The red fluid made for a disturbing contrast with the alien blood...it reminded Reynolds far too much of human vital fluid.
      "Two of my best commandos are dead, Gunnery Sergeant," growled the Major Domo. "Your men are responsible."
      Reynolds' remorse vanished fast; the Major Domo was only aggravating the intense migraine he'd been having ever since starting this damned mission. "Would it have hurt for your men to identify themselves? My neural implant picked up jack shit from them!"
      The Sangheili would have none of it. "We told you were were on our way, we didn't return fire---"
      Reynolds massaged his temples; he could have sworn the migraine was getting worse. "Major Domo, my men were hyped on adrenaline, we'd been fighting your renegade bretheren for quite some time before you showed up---"
      "And you reward us for saving your sorry backsides by killing two of us? I'm so filled with gratitude, I can barely express it."
      "Oh yeah?" retorted Reynolds. "Well, maybe we should---"
      The Gunny never finished his sentence. The pain in his temples suddenly flared like he'd been nailed by a plasma shot---Reynolds staggered---and then he pitched onto the floor face-first.
      His neural implant superimposed a message over his vision, making the pain even worse: WARNING. OVERLY PROLONGED USE OF NEURAL LACE HAS OCCURRED. ANEURYSIM CAN RESULT. OBTAIN MEDICAL HELP IMMEDIATELY.
      Reynolds was dimly aware of his platoon sergeant, the hatchet-faced Sergeant Stafford, flipping him over, yelling for a medic. Everything seemed like it was taking place underwater.
      Reynolds tried to move his lips, to tell the others what had happened.
      He couldn't. His muscles were encased in lead.
      Then he blacked out.


      With the departure of Admirals Harsoth and Hood, it fell to UNSC Navy Lieutenant Joseph Freyyr to command the Berlin, the cruiser-cum-base for the UNSC forces on Installation 06.
      This was not a duty the Lieutenant particularly relished. Short, balding, and stocky, he didn't easily inspire confidence. He wasn't charismatic in the slightest; he had not accepted the numerous promotions he had been recommended for. He had risen to the rank of Lieutenant and no further.
      Striding down the corridors of the Berlin, however, he made for an intimidating figure. The two Marines outside the cruiser's medbay had no doubt realized this, judging by the speed with which they saluted.
      Inside the medbay, medics were clustered around a single gurney, monitoring devices and IV hooked up to the figure reposed on it like some kind of mechanical parasite. The figure on the gurney was gaunt and pale looking, but despite the lack of vigor present in his complexion, Freyyr easily recognized him: Gunnery Sergeant Will Reynolds.
      The skeletal platoon sergeant, Sergeant Stafford, was waiting for Freyyr. Rendering a prefunctory salute, he quickly began his report:
      "There was a friendly fire incident, Sir. We killed two of Major Domo 'Taham's Elites."
      Freyyr sighed. "That'll be fun to sort out. What happened to him?"
      "He was arguing with 'Taham, Sir, and all of a sudden he just...he just seized up and dropped. We managed to medevac him here before his condition got any worse." Stafford's face was grimmer than the Lieutenant had ever seen it, and that was saying something.
      The Lieutenant looked at the medics clustered around Reynolds. "Report."
      One of them, a trim-looking man in his sixties, looked up. "Aneurysm, Sir. Probably caused by overuse of the neural lace."
      Freyyr massaged his temples against the rapidly oncoming headache. "Will he be all right?"
      "Too early to tell, Sir."
      Freyyr exchanged a glance with Sergeant Stafford. The man did not look happy. "Make sure we don't lose him," said the Lieutenant. "We can't afford to."
      "Yes Sir," replied the spokes-medic.


      The Sangheili Assault Carrier Shadow of Intent and the surviving vessels of her fleet hung in orbit over Earth, blue-lit engines
      Admiral Brett Harsoth stalked onto the bridge of the Assault Carrier and saluted.
      Fleet Admiral Sir Terrence Hood and Fleet Master Rtas 'Vadum, in deep conversation with each other, took no notice.
      The blue-lit bridge was abuzz with activity, Sangheili crewmen conversing with each other in their guttural, barking language. A red-armored Major Domo manning one of the tactical consoles barked, "Fleet Master, the other human Admiral is here!"
      Hood and 'Vadum both looked over at Harsoth. "As you were," said the human Fleet Admiral. "We've got a problem on our hands."
      Harsoth approached the tactical table, and noticed a small sheet of paper lying on it. "What's this, Admiral?"
      "A message," said Hood, his craggy brow even more furrowed than usual, "from one Fleet Admiral Parangosky."
      Harsoth blanched. "Hell..."
      "We have been ordered," broke in 'Vadum, "to abort the mission to the new Halo ring. Our request for reinforcements has been denied." The Fleet Master ran a hand over the stumps of his left mandibles, faster and faster, almost as if he were trying to keep himself under control. If he was, it didn't work.
      The silver-armored Sangheili let out a bellow more frightening than anything Harsoth had heard during the war. Lord Hood, judging by his terrified expression, agreed. The sound was that of a cry of loss, pain, and profound frustration with a culture that ran so contrary to his warrior ideals.
      His anger spent, 'Vadum turned to a crewman manning the communications console. "Communications Master, get me the human Intelligence commander!"
      Hood jerked as if the Fleet Master had rammed an energy sword through him. "Fleet Master, what are you doing?"
      Half-Jaw turned to stare at Hood, and there was a look in his eye Harsoth didn't like one bit. "Admiral, a Sangheili warrior never leaves his comrades in the heands of the enemy. Never."
      "Think about what you're doing, Fleet Master...even I can't give orders to Parangosky."
      "You are the head of the UNSC Security Council, Admiral Hood. I think you can."
      Hood shook his head. "You don't know Mar---Admiral Parangosky like I do. No one can reason with her. No one."
      "Fleet Master!" cried the Elite at the comm station. "Admiral Parangosky is on the comm for you."
      'Vadum swivelled to face the screen for the vid-comm. "Put her on."
      The vid-screen remained blank.
      'Vadum growled. "I said, put her on."
      The comm Elite tapped a few buttons on his console. "Systems show all clear, Fleet Master..."
      "I suppose this is the point where I say something clichéd about not being able to show my face," interrupted a new voice. "But the simple fact of the matter is that I trust you alien bastards about as far as I can throw you."
      The voice was that of a woman, middle-aged sounding, and very used to power.
      "Admiral Parangosky," said 'Vadum.
      The voice did not respond.
      "You have ordered my fleet to abort its mission to the sixth Halo."
      "I will not deny that."
      Half-Jaw growled. "A Sangheili warrior never leaves his comrades in enemy hands."
      "A sentiment shared by most human warriors as well. However, one must be pragmatic."
      'Vadum spread his mandibles, a clear warning gesture amongst the Sangheili. If Parangosky was watching as well as listening, she'd be on the alert now. "Admiral, I cannot comply with those orders."
      The voice cooled to what seemed absolute zero. "Bear in mind, Fleet Master, you are now under human jurisdiction. If you disobey my orders, I will take appropriate measures."
      'Vadum turned to face the navigation station. "Lay in a jump for the ring. We will not leave our comrades to die."
      "Fleet Master, you are making such a mistake."
      The silver-armored warrior looked at the screen...and spat on it. "Let me know when the calculations are complete," he instructed the Sangheili nav officer.
      "Admirals Hood and Harsoth," said the voice, "you are hereby ordered to relieve Fleet Master 'Vadum of duty, and take him into custody as per---"
      Harsoth drew his pistol, smoother than he had in a long, long time, and triggered three rounds into the comm unit. The screen shattered and sparked, and Harsoth was fairly sure he heard the voice give a little cry as the signal cut out.
      "Fleet Master, jump coordinates are set!" sang out the nav officer.
      "Jump us," said Half-Jaw.
      Lord Hood, standing next to 'Vadum, gaped at Harsoth. "Brett, I can't protect you from Parangosky."
      "Worry about yourself, Terrence," replied Harsoth, feeling wearier than he had in a long, long time. "Worry about yourself. She'll have blacklisted all of us."
      "And even more importantly," growled 'Vadum, "let's pray we're not too late."