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Whispers of the Fallen: Chapter 5- Sorry, Son, That's Classified
Posted By: Pwnocchio<envydryisland@aol.com>
Date: 19 October 2006, 2:50 pm

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Chapter 5: Sorry, son- That's Classified.

      Almost three months ago, just one day after the events of Delta Halo...

      Sergeant Johnson and the Arbiter lead a mixed group of human marines and Covenant elites through the corridors of the Covenant capital ship. The two of them worked in tandem, each peering around opposite corners and communicating as best as possible through nonverbal gestures. Luckily for them, some things seemed to translate well universally. Sergeant Johnson muttered curses as they came to another crossroad of purple metallic walls, filled with dead brutes, humans, and elites. It stank of plasma scalding. For the life of him, he couldn't make out the difference between all these damned purple corridors. The Arbiter, however, seemed to know exactly where he was heading. They signaled to their motley assortment to remain behind a few paces as they crept forward.

      "You sure we're not lost?" the human asked. "Because this all looks the same to me." Underneath his feet, he could feel the soggy remains of a marine who had probably made the mistake of getting within arm's length of a brute attacker. He tried not to look.

      "That is only because you lack eyes to see," the elite murmured back. Even his whispers were like growls amidst the quiet of the Covenant vessel. Their approach was enveloped by the silent, eerie hum that Johnson was all too familiar with.

      "Says the crazy alien sonofa-blam!- that would have blown up himself and his whole army just a few days ago if it meant he got to go on his Incredible Trip, or whatever you called it."

      The Arbiter merely maintained his gaze towards the end of the hall. "Great Journey."

      "Same difference."

      "And we are not lost," the alien changed the subject. "We are merely following Rtas 'Vadumee's trail. He crossed here, it seems." The elite pointed towards the ground. "He is heading towards one of the lower sectors. We will continue ahead. I believe I know this place."

      Had the elite been here before? Johnson shook his head. It was of no importance at the moment. The company pressed on, stopping at intersection after intersection- it seemed that many of the brutes had been driven back by the Halfjaw and Captain Keyes' s assault, and had retreated to the bridge, sending a separate force to a lower sector to disable the engine's drives should the bridge be captured. It was decided at that point that the teams should separate, and simultaneously hit both targets- it was risky, but it was the only way to ensure that they all made it off of this god forsaken ring in one piece.

      The elites under the Halfjaw's command had insisted on a mixed group of both elites and humans as insurance against betrayal. The notion had rather surprised the Sergeant- he had expected for them to want nothing to do with the humans. Apparently, the Arbiter's position as "Hand of the Prophets" had gone a lot further than he realized within the Covenant caste system. In agreement or not, these elites would die protecting humans if the Arbiter commanded it. Well, former Arbiter, really- he doubted there was much job security left for any elites in the Covenant military now, especially one who killed most of the Brute Honor Guard and stopped the activation of the Great Journey. But then again- perhaps the Halfjaw's elites just found the humans incompetent, and didn't trust them to finish the job on their own. Either way- it was strange as hell running side by side with an elite after all of these years.

      Johnson gave the "all clear" sign as the two inspected a particularly gore-filled intersection, moving quickly towards a blast door at the end of the hallway. If his memory served him correctly from his time aboard the Ascendant Justice, they were very near to reaching their objective. The bridge should be just ahead. He had to struggle just to hold back a sigh of relief. Twelve hours they had been on this bloated ship, attempting to wrestle control away from the brutes still littering its halls. And after twelve hours of close combat with an enemy who could pull your head off your shoulders like a damned bottle cap, the stress tended to erode away at even the best of men.

      "First Sergeant Thomanson," Johnson spoke into his com. "Do you copy?"

      "Loud and clear, sir," Thomanson reported back in his earpiece through static. These walls tended to make their com channels fussy. Their journey from the Control Center of Delta Halo towards the capital ship had yielded First Sergeant Thomanson's company, fighting for their lives atop a Forerunner structure against a horde of Flood combat forms. Fortunately, they had arrived in time to provide some much needed assistance. "We are in position. Captain Keyes wants to know how your side is holding up."

      Johnson looked towards the Arbiter, who nodded, his face a mask of unreadable sentiments. "Roger that, First Sergeant," he answered. "We are in position and ready to move on the Captain's order." He peered behind him, noting the resolute marines who filled the hallway, surrounded by a wall of Spec-Ops elites clad in singed white armor. It was quite a sight to behold. These men and aliens were all soldiers, he mused. And they were ready to die and fight as one. Quite a sight, indeed. They were going to kick some major ass with resolve like that. He winked at one of the Elites, who looked to the Arbiter in confusion. He loved messing with these bastards.

      "Roger that, sir- commencing attack in three, two, one..."

      The Arbiter didn't even wait for the final command before he keyed the door open with large, gnarled fingers. It opened with a noisy hiss to reveal a wide open chamber, filled with brutes and Covenant engineers, their ranks in total chaos. Some were attempting communications with High Charity, it seemed, while others were trying their hand at constructing some kind of barricade. The rest were aiming their weapons directly at them. There was no time to think as the brute shot grenades came raining through the open hatch, bouncing from the floor to detonate all around the group as it poured into the open bridge. Johnson heard a grenade severely wound the elite that he had winked at, sending debris and purple-blue blood splattering in his direction. Everything turned into the blur of battle as they rushed forward, battle rifles and sub machine guns peppering the room with a salvo of gunfire as they approached the massive aliens before them.

      Johnson let a plasma grenade eject with precision from his hands, watching with great interest as it connected with a brute's helmet near the cluster of aliens positioned beyond the metal barricade. In earnest, it frantically tried to remove the headpiece- and even though he was about to be blown the hell up, he had made a grave miscalculation. Johnson couldn't help but smile despite the chaos surrounding him and his men as he planted a skillful shot directly between the animal's eyes. He loved the way it crumpled to the floor in a furry heap. As a result, the still-glowing helmet bounced on the ground precariously towards the group that now watched in horror as it approached. There was no time to react. The bright blue explosion sent a satisfying thud throughout the bridge. It also opened up a hole in the enemy's defenses. Though they had many brutes lying in wait, the force had been significantly depleted over the course of the last twelve hours. They would not last for long. And killing each one of the bastards was going to be wonderful.

      To his right, the Arbiter leapt from his sprint, spraying needles as he sailed through the air. The spiny projectiles embedded themselves into an angry brute, who screamed with rage as he fired red-hot plasma in the elite's direction. The former Hand of the Prophets released the Covenant gun from his grasp, spinning in mid-air to dodge the hail of energy as he unleashed his weapon of choice- the Covenant energy sword. Johnson watched with awe as the Arbiter landed on the floor in front of the giant apelike creature, and in one fluid motion parried a melee to the head from its plasma rifle. He hurriedly shoved the pulsating blade into the brute's belly, and then sent it reeling with a well-placed elbow to the temple. As its body sailed through the air, he rammed his shoulder against it, which hurled it at another group of enemies who watched in horror. The needles protruding from the flying (and still screaming) brute's hide exploded just before it collided with them. Pink-purple shards ejected into their eyes, and the Arbiter took advantage of the moment by darting forward. He felled the first brute with a quick upward slash that split it down the middle, the second with a frag grenade inserted directly in its open, shouting mouth, and the third with another stab of the now bloody energy sword.

      After a few more moments of intense fighting, the once volatile room became suddenly calm. "Contacts?!" Johnson shouted as he fired a shot into a still-moving lump on the ground at his feet.

      "None, sir!" one of the marines shouted back. The soldiers covered the room in formation, each with an elite crouched at his side, surveying the destruction for enemy survivors. They moved in pairs, quickly covering the large, blood-splattered bridge room. "All enemy contacts eliminated!"

      "Excellent work marines," the Sergeant said. He keyed on his com, nodding towards the Arbiter, who was communicating with the Covenant engineers. Those floating, bulbous things still creeped him out, no matter how useful they were in a pinch. "First Sergeant Thomanson? What's your status, soldier?"

      "Engine room secured, sir" Thomanson's voice rang back. "We have eliminated all enemy contacts with only minor damage inflicted. We have a few elites who will need some tending to- they insisted on leading the charge."

      "That's the best damn news I've heard all day, Thomanson- tell Captain Keyes and the Halfjaw to get their asses up here- we just got ourselves a ride home."

      "Already en route, sir. We'll be there momentarily."

      Johnson turned to survey the bridge. All around, men and elites were moving the corpses of brutes, digging for ammunition, salvaging what little was left for the taking. It was a shaky alliance, at best, but it proved quite effective given their situation. He grinned- this would mark his second escape from a Halo. If he ever met one of these so-called Forerunner creatures, he would give them a swift kick in the ass. Near one of the main control panels, the Arbiter was busy at one of the terminals, calling out orders in a Covenant tongue towards the engineers. He looked quite comfortable at the helm.

      "It is just as I suspected," the Arbiter said as Johnson approached. "I was not certain, but somehow I knew..."

      "Knew what?"

      "This ship that we have commandeered," he answered, sounding distracted. "Perhaps it is fate." At that, he left the terminal, taking giant strides towards the group of soldiers below.

      "We met here once before," Halfjaw announced as he entered the room triumphantly, plasma rifle in hand. Behind him, a train of marines and elites followed, along with Thomlanson and Miranda Keyes, looking quite overjoyed themselves. "Does it feel good to be back, Arbiter?"

      "Wait," Johnson interrupted, looking back and forth between the two. "You two know this ship?"

      Halfjaw let out a noise that could have been a laugh. "Know it? Human, this is the Arbiter's former vessel, the flagship of the Fleet of Particular Justice that surrounded Halo. The Arbiter is home!" At that, the Spec-Op elites raised their weapons, shouting in unison. Johnson stole a quick glance at the former commander, who seemed to beam with a simultaneous mixture of pride and humility. So this had been his ship, stripped from him after his "heresy".

      "Yes, elites," the Arbiter said after a moment of silence, standing to his full height. "And it is aptly named for our task." The alien turned to face Johnson, then. "Humans, welcome aboard The Seeker of Truth."