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Fatal Exception
Posted By: Mainevent
Date: 28 August 2005, 6:16 pm

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Internal Assessment and Audio Logs- AI07 Archival Cache

[Cache Batch 06582: Internal Reference- I was lonely, he was lonely, so we talked.]

General: So why do they want me dead so badly? I don't know anything.
Me: They weren't after you sweetheart, they were after muscles over there.
John: I'm so glad our time apart hasn't jaded you.
General: Apart? So you two know each other?
John: You could say we've worked together before.
Linda: Your bet. -Aside-
John: I know, I know. Stop hassling me. You always win these hands anyway -Aside-
Me: What do you know about the Hyperion Project? Last chance.
General: I don't know anything. I only know what was in the files that got me here.
Linda: I don't think he likes our humble abode. -Aside-
John: He hasn't even thanked us for saving his ass. Keyes at least gave me that much. -Aside-
Me: So John, what exactly happened during your little vacation?
John: Somebody tried to kill me during happy hour. I decided not to stay for round two.
Me: If you're just going to be a smart ass about this-
John: There was one thing. A new guy, he wasn't part of their original squad. The only other person besides me not apart of the infection team.
Me: Mister MIA on the rosters?
General: Definitely a spook. I haven't seen file clean up like that before. Everything was gone. He practically didn't exist.
Me: He doesn't anymore; I checked the network. Another AI came back and erased everything. My archived records are the only proof we even had he was a real person.
Linda: Another AI? And it didn't bother you?
Me: It didn't even act like it noticed me. It didn't seem like much of a threat so I let it be. I've already got what we need.
General: So back to square one. How am I supposed to help you?
John: Tell us what you did for a living.
General: What do you mean? I'm afraid I don't understand.
Linda: Oh you understand alright. Even generals have to earn a living.
Me: And from what I've gleamed you've made quite a living.
General: I don't-
John: What was your expertise?
General: Life sciences. Biochemistry, biology, and medicine primarily.
John: And did you work anywhere other than that base?
General: Of course I did.
John: What did you work on?
General: That's classified.
Linda: We're classified. It's okay, you can tell us.
General: I worked on viruses mainly. Looking for cures to help mankind.
John: Find any? -Heightened vocal agitation: Marked-
General: A couple.
John: Help mankind lately?
General: Not as recently as you're implying.
Linda: Let's calm it down boys. Play nice or I'll have to break you up.
Me: Now John, what really happened out there?

      Purple-blue skies faded into a thin white line on the horizon. The approach of dawn signaled the coming day, but served only to silhouette the dragon's teeth of black mountains in the distance. It's gaping mouth was poised; open and ready to swallow them all at the first taste of flesh. Cool, moist air whipped behind the slow moving insertion vehicle as it sped at a leisurely pace towards Hyperion. The dim glow of two lonely lights reflected the waiting beast's eyes- John could feel it's deadly breath in the exhaust exiting near the rear hatch.
      As ominous as it all was, it was also all very peaceful. A flock of geese stretched their long, thin necks towards the horizon on their way to nest. The cracked sand of an empty lake bed was washed in dark blue- at once both the skin of the dragon and a sea of tranquility. He lost himself in the rushing tides of occasional, wind-whipped sand dunes and abrupt flatness of it all. Sounds of weapon bolts clicking and macho checks were drowned out to a primitive tribal beat only he could hear. The war drums of long extinct Indians known as the Iroquois thumped methodically in his head. A million fights, a million drum beats.
      The desert turned instantly into concrete and barbed-wire as they soared over the base perimeter. The drum beats turned into a ghostly echo as the ocean turned into a vast shadow. Thrusters jerked him harshly from side to side as the pilot skillessly confronted a pocket of turbulence and swung the craft's tail around for landing. Marine after Marine rushed before past him; out the troop door and to their deaths, but they didn't know that yet. All but one.
      A flaming comet peeked from under the form-fitting body suit of the last man besides 117. The two stared wordlessly at each other for only a moment, but both had seen enough. His silence had spoken volumes, and what he hadn't done proved that if anyone else made it, it would be him. This silent veteran of unknown battles quietly slipped on a pair of luminescent green trinoculars, sheathed a non-reflective combat knife he'd been polishing for the better part of an hour, and marched carefully into the darkness.
      Everything he hated about missions had called a meeting and decided to gather here. Perpetual shadows made every corner someone's last step. The grating screech of a container in need of lubrication cut through the silence before the wind-blown slam of heavy steel doors made John give even a slight twitch. Nothing felt the least bit right about this. Only twice before had he seen a normally bustling center of activity completely silent and devoid of life, and both of those times ended in ways he'd tried to forget.
      "Corner, Clear!"
      "Roof, Clear!"
      "Warehouse, Clear!"
      "Whatever this thing is, it's clear...I think."
      John stared silently down the alleyway. He was the only one on it. The light echoes of metal being stepped on were barely audible to even his enhanced ears, but gave him a general direction. The noise was coming from on top of one of the crates at the end of the alleyway- was that where he'd gone? A writhing, slithering noise of hundreds of pins dropping on currogated metal containers started and then stopped just as abruptly.
      "Sergeant, we shouldn't stop moving," John radioed.
      "I've got my orders, and you've got yours."
      "I like his moving idea...sir. This place gives me the creeps." The voice of a nervous young marine pleaded as steadily as possible.
      "Nobody asked your opinion Perez."
      "Then I never gave it sir."
      Stop playing hardass and start playing smart damnit! You're going to get these men killed. John screamed his thoughts to no one as he moved cautiously through the narrow passages and closer to the main building. It's tall gray walls were visible from here, and the glaring eyes gave the only unaided illumination on the base.
      "This base is dead lieutenant, and we will be too if we stay."
      "You know, as tough as you guys are supposed to be, you sure do bitch a lot." Poorly suppressed chuckles broke the otherwise quiet back chatter over the radios. John understood, as the other man apparently already had, that this was a lost cause. Novices running the show and patting themselves on the back for a job not even done; if they truly were up against what he hoped with every fiber in his body they weren't, none of the Special Hazards and Infection Team would leave alive.[
      Chilly morning breezes swept through the base and made small swirling tornadoes in the dust. Distant, almost imperceptible whirring noises could be heard sporadically breaking through the censoring winds. Generators coming back on? The transport coming back?
      "Where the hell did our hand-holding Helljumper go?" Asked a now aware team member.
      "Damnit! I hate these new guys. Boy you better get your ass back out here Fisher before I shove my boot so far in it you have to brush the polish off your teeth. "
      Shut the hell up Sergeant. Stop calling attention to us. His instincts chimed in as a pod of infection forms tip-toed off the top of a red crate and down its side. He opened fire quickly and watched without satisfaction as the entire six body row popped into small, fleshy clouds of matter. No point in feeling satisfaction; where there was one Flood there were always more. Many, many more.
      Several rows over came the blaring rattle of more weapons fire. A muffled explosion, probably a container full of volatile chemicals, sent a thin ball of fire and hazy stream of black smoke into the light blue sky. A slow-moving combat form staggered around a corner and into the Spartan's direct line of fire. Thick green, already-coagulated blood oozed slowly from the bullet holes before creating slimy puddles on the dirty concrete ground.
      "What the hell's going on Marines?" Asked the panicked voice of the team leader.
      "Tangos, all directions," John reported calmly.
       "What the hell are those?" Cried a marine before the much louder, and much nearer, sound of a grenade exploded nearby.
      "Oh my god, that looks like," Perez's voice was muted by weapons fire over the communications channels. "Did you see that sir?"
      "Damnit Perez, shut your hole and fire!"
      Overhead, the sound of turbines and jet wash made its sudden presence known. Twin search lights blanketed the two alleys in enough light to illuminate the charging hordes down rushing toward 117's position. He jerked a fragmentation grenade off his combat belt and tossed it with his left hand into the middle of a pack-- the explosion ripped the already decomposing bodies in half easily, and sent a wall of lime-colored goop onto the ground and wall of everything within ten meters. He began a systematic, one man combat withdrawal as quickly as possible.
      "Hey, evac's here!"
      "They're not here for us. We've got to go. Move!" Spartan 117 shouted over the radio, but his warning came too late.
      "Holy-," came the last word of a stunned Marine before his line abruptly cut off. The site of tracer fire overhead told everyone who hadn't seen it firsthand exactly what had happened.
      "What the hell are they doing?"
      "Containment protocols!" 117 answered bitterly.
      "I thought that's what we were for!"
      "We were just the bait."
      "But why wou-," in the blink of an eye another life was cut short by the phosphorous green claws of the DragonStorm Attack Aircraft. John realized quickly that the ship was using the team's own radio signals to track them. He ripped the tiny transmitter off of his combat suit and crushed it under foot before tossing a final grenade over his back and beginning a sprint in the direction of a garage he'd spotted from above during the ingress. Mold green lines of shipping containers walled him in, and the progressively closer sound of shuffling limbs assured him there were many more Flood to his rear. He rolled around and backpedaled on his heel while firing three round bursts into the wave of bodies scrambling for him. There were so many, but luckily for John, the containers allowed for only one path to watch.
      His last grenade made a lazy arc and nestled itself snugly amidst the dragging masses of flesh that comprised their feet. John didn't want to wait and see what happened; he turned back around and--

Me: What happened after that?
John: What?
Me: What happened after that?
John: I--can't remember.
Linda: -Intrigued Stare: Marked-
General: You can't remember?
John: I--think I got to the garage, and then to the city; I remember the city. I can't remember anything after I turned around or before I got to the city.
General: Brilliant. -Aside-
Me: What did you say?
General: Me?
Me: Yes.
General: I just had something caught in my throat.
Linda: Was it bullshit?
General: Excuse you. I'll remind you now, and only once that I am a superior officer. I'm extremely grateful for your assistance, but don't think I'll hesitate to throw you in the brig for insubordination.
John: You can't. We don't work for you anymore.
General: AWOL Spartans? -Laughter- Now I've seen everything.
John: We're not AWOL. I took the whole military trying to kill me thing to mean I've been relieved of duty.
Me: Cool it; everyone. We still need him, and he still needs us.
General: I don't need you people. I was better off on my own. I've got places I can go.
Linda: You people? That's it. -Stands up and grabs an M6C: Marked-
John: -Moves one finger back and forth casually: Marked-
      [Alert: Network Access Restricted]
      [Incoming Message: AI412 Caliph: You think you're good, but I'm better.[End Message]
Me: I've been locked out of the network.
John: What?
Me: He came back and kicked me out of the network.
Linda: Who came back?
Me: The other A.I. He calls himself Caliph, and has quite an attitude.
John: -Grunts and grabs his stomach.-
Linda: -Grabs him and sits him down. You okay, sir?-
Me: John! John.
General: Do you have any medical facilities nearby?
Me: We have a four bed clinic upstairs.
General: Get him there now.