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Attack on Installation 06, part 10
Posted By: Jake Trommer<wedgefan@comcast.net>
Date: 21 August 2008, 11:42 pm

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Attack on Installation 06
Chapter 9
1045 Hours, July 09, 2553 (Military Calendar)
Tharidanis System, Installation 06

      Were an observer to fly over the largest desert canyon on Installation 06, it would appear a barren place. A long, tan-colored, massively deep slit trench in the ground, there was little plant life, and no animal life to be seen.
      Were one to swoop in a little closer, and if one's eyesight were good enough, it would be possible for one to discern a series of steel-colored shapes moving across the bottom of the canyon.
      Were one able to receive the UNSC's E-band COM channel, the steel-colored shapes would seem positively cacaphonous: "Bravo Six---" "---Copy that, Corporal---" "Carizal, point the M41 on your nine, see if you see anything---" "Nothin', Sarge---" "Copy. Break. Charlie Six, we got nothing, over." "All victors, all victors, maintain speed, mantain dispersion---"
      And if you could fly into the depths of the canyon, those steel shapes would resolve themselves into a convoy of Warthog LRV's, the Jeep-like recon vehicles that were a staple of the UNSC Marine Corps. Five of them were of the troop transport variant, carrying six battle-armored Marines in their roll cages; the other five were the standard recon Hogs, carrying two Marines each, and mounting a tri-barrelled M41 Light Anti-Air Gun on their rear.
      Manning the gun of the lead vehicle was Gunnery Sergeant Will Reynolds, who was rather regretting his decision to continually monitor the comm chatter of all the vehicles in his platoon. The Gunny's face, as usual, was a grim mask, betraying none of the apprehension he felt about his current mission, the sabotage of the pulse generators for the ringworld's firing mechanism.
      The corporal driving the vehicle stiffened. "Movement ahead, Gunny!"
      Reynolds peered down the barrel of the M41. He couldn't see anything, the LAAG's targeting system wasn't picking anything up, nor was his neural lace. "I got nothing, Corporal."
      "Well, the Hog's motion sensors are getting something..."
      Reynolds clicked his com over to the general platoon frequency. "Victors, all victors, Alpha Actual has something on motion sensors, but no visuals. Anybody getting anything, over?"
      The driver of one of the troop Hogs came over the frequency. "Bravo Five has movement, as well, Gunny. Make it five signals, less than a quarter of a click out, how copy, over?"
      "Solid copy, Bravo Six. I'm gonna light it up, see if anything gets flushed. Alpha Actual out." Thus saying, Reynolds snugged the stock of the M41 against his shoulder, spun up the barrel, and let fly a burst of tracer fire.
      A cry came from up ahead as four Grunts dove away from the tracer fire. Reynolds swore, used his neural lace to magnify the view...
      "All victors, all victors!" came the panicked cry from one of the troop Hogs. "We've got Grunts with Fuel Rod Guns up ahead!"
      Reynolds moved to squelch the panic that threatened to develop. "Cut the chatter, Bravo Four! All Alpha victors, light those Grunts up!"
      Five LAAGs rattled to life, hailing lead down on the Grunts. The LAAG's targeting system gave a beep as the last Grunt collapsed, followed shortly by the arms still clutching the alien's fuel rod gun.
      Reynolds did a quick visual scan of the area, gave a satisfied nod, and clicked on his headset. "All victors, all victors, Covenant FRG team has been suppressed, keep heading for the objective, over."
      "Sir," said Reynolds' driver. "Shouldn't we contact Admiral Harsoth?"
      The grim Gunny shook his head. "Negative; this isn't worth noting."
      "Gunny, there wasn't even supposed to be any Covie presence in this part of the ring."
      "Well, now we know there is. And we're going to carry out the mission regardless. Copy?"
      "Copy, Gunny."


      "Movement right! Movement right!"
      Master Gunnery Sergeant Pete Stacker swivelled in the indicated direction, peering through the scope of his battle rifle. "I have no targets, no targets!"
      "It's up high, Gunny!" came the reply.
      Stacker adjusted his aim, and did indeed see something bobbing along through the air towards the series of defensive trenches crosshatching the dusty plateau in front of the Berlin. "What the hell is that?"
      The Marine Corporal sharing sentry duty shook his head. "No idea, Gunny. Doesn't look like Covie, though."
      Stacker gritted his teeth. "Fire warning shots."
      The Corporal squeezed off two bursts from his battle rifle, aiming high above the contact. The contact stopped. Stacker took the opportunity to survey it with his BR scope.
      The Gunny's gasp, and sudden tensing, alerted the Corporal something was wrong. "Gunnery Sergeant? What is it?"
      Stacker forced himself to exhale. "Let it through, Corporal. It ain't a hostile."
      "Yes Sir, but what is it?"
      "It's a robot, Corporal. A Forerunner robot."


      Approximately ten minutes after that, 16807 Repetant Instigator was in Admiral Harsoth's quarters.
      Harsoth didn't mince words. "We're here to disable your installation, Monitor. One of your fellows did not exactly take kindly to when that happened to his installation."
      The robot wobbled in the air a couple of times, what Harsoth presumed was a shrug. "343 Guilty Spark was rampant," the Monitor of Installation 06 declared. "I am not. And since you are Reclaimers, I am duty-bound to do what I can to assist you."
      Harsoth furrowed his brow. "What do you think, Admiral?"
      Fleet Admiral Terrence Hood, participating in the conversation via viewscreen, frowned. "Your compatriot seemed rather sane at the time, Monitor."
      Repetant Instigator gave another wobble/shrug. "Telemetry from 343's central access core indicated that his mental state was quite deteriorated. But if you will not accept my assistance, at least permit me to return one of your own."
      A sudden tension was present in the bland room. Harsoth's emaciated body was suddenly tense, like a soldier who knows an attack is imminent. "What do you mean?"
      The Monitor gave one of the shrug equivalents that was starting to irritate Harsoth. "Yes. One of you crash-landed on our shield-worlds. He was catatonic, and the construct with him seemed beyond repair, though we could not figure out how to remove it. He was transported to my Installation for safekeeping."
      Admiral Hood's grim face suddenly seemed even more so. And something unusual was also in evidence: hope. "This human...do you know who it was?"
      The Forerunner construct gave yet another shrug. "We found no identification on him, save for his rank insignia, and an ID."
      Hood's face had paled. "And that was?"
      The robot looked from one Admiral to another.
      "Master Chief Petty Officer SPARTAN-117."