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Fan Fiction

Not Exactly Human: Ch. 8.3
Posted By: QuantumSheep<jasnash@optusnet.com.au>
Date: 22 August 2008, 12:00 am

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Note: I hope this didn't double submit. It's 9:58am over here, down in Melbourne (Australia), not midnight as it says for when I posted it.

Jeff was walking a few meters behind Frank as they made their way through the ship's corridors. They had encountered and eliminated small patrol groups, which included a few lower ranked Elites.

'Okay, I found the discs,' Windtalker suddenly said, using Jeff's radio to broadcast to everyone else, 'they're in possession of a Minor Elite who is in a Covenant mess hall in the deck below where the command center is.'

'Does this mean we have to go through the command center?' Jones asked, 'because I'm not looking forward to that.'

'I don't think so,' Windtalker replied. He wouldn't tell anybody about the information he found just yet. He would study it himself first and probably alert the Major and the Captain when they returned to base camp about his findings on the Slip-space technology.

'Maybe we'll find that Commander that wants Jeff dead,' Frank said, 'we could have a nice chat if we do find him.'

'You know about that?' Jeff asked.

'Everyone does. That's why I had to force these three ODSTs to come with me. Everyone thinks you're bad luck to go on a mission with.'

'You're just too stupid to care, so that's why you came,' Jeff said, 'am I right?'

Frank frowned. They arrived at a door which was obviously locked.
'Okay Windtalker, where to now?' Frank asked, giving Jeff a stern glance.

'There's a set of gravity lifts that run throughout the ship. To get to the one we need we have to pass through a tank bay, which would be under heavy guard since they probably know we're here now,' Windtalker replied.

'Of course they know we're here,' Heinrich said. He paused. 'What should we expect in the Covenant mess hall?'

'A lot of Elites,' Windtalker said, 'and according to sources in this ship's network most of the lower ranked ones are stationed on the planet. We'll be up against Special Operations ones for sure.'

'Shit,' Jones said, 'maybe I can just wait here and you guys come back for me. I think it sounds like a good plan.'

'Even if we did let you stay here, we wouldn't come back for you,' Frank said, stepping over to the ODST named Ray and snatching another C12 charge from him. He stepped over to the door and crouched, sticking the charge on the bottom of the door. He armed it and gestured to everyone else to get back.

'You're an asshole, Lieutenant,' Jones said.

'Just shut up and do your job, Corporal,' Frank said as he walked back over to them. 'Your job doesn't include calling a commanding officer an asshole.'

He took out the remote detonator and pressed the main button on it. The door was blown apart in a large, loud explosion which sent smoke and fire billowing throughout the corridor. As the smoke cleared, Jeff could make out a blue armored Elite and a few Grunts.

Opening fire, the others following suit, the aliens were down quite quickly, having been disoriented by the explosion.

Jeff and the others went back to the now destroyed door, continuing through the corridor and taking a left corner. This put them into a long corridor which seemed to run along the side of the ship, or at least that's what Windtalker told them. At the other end were a few Jackals which opened fire when they saw the humans.

Looking around the purple and blue metal corridor, Jeff could see there wasn't much cover. There wasn't any cover at all, actually and so he knew it would be better if he was the one to shoot first rather than let their enemies do it.

He took out his S2 AM and gunned the Jackals down, using the scope to pinpoint shots past their energy shields.

They continued through the corridor, following Windtalker's direction to the vehicle bay. Here, they arrived on a floor overlooking the bottom floor of the garage. Down below were numerous Covenant crates and a few Wraith tanks and Ghosts. Jeff could see a few large lifts in the floor which looked to be what the vehicles went on so they could descend to the lower levels, possibly where a gravity lift was.

Groups of Grunts and Elites were on the bottom floor as well as the floor they were on. Scattering, Jeff took cover behind a pillar as a large amount of plasma fire headed their way. Jones and Heinrich had taken cover behind some Covenant crates nearby, the ODSTs remaining in the open and answering the plasma fire with rifle fire of their own.

'How far to go, Windtalker?' Jeff asked, hoping they wouldn't have to spend too much longer on this ship, 'are we close?'

'There should be a door at the end of this floor,' Windtalker replied, 'you just follow the corridor behind it down a few decks until you find a mess hall. It shouldn't be too difficult to find.'

Jeff leaned around the pillar and opened fire with his Plasma Rifle, taking down a few Grunts. A plasma grenade trailing with blue plasma energy landed a meter in front of the pillar. It detonated, the explosion going around the sides of the pillar, brushing against him slightly.

The humans managed to whittle down the Covenant forces enough for them to safely make their way to the end of the floor, coming to a pair of double doors. Jeff guessed the one with the slowly descending corridor was the correct one, so he was the first through, following the corridor along as blue and red lights flashed around him. The ship seemed to be on high alert. Things could get a little trickier now.

Windtalker was able to give the group directions as they made their way through the corridors of the ship, encountering groups of enemies, mostly Special Operations Elites and Grunts. Jeff hadn't had much experience with these ones, able to determine that they are a lot harder to kill than your regular Elites and Grunts. Very frequently plasma grenades would come to the way of the humans until whoever was throwing them was no longer moving. This was typical of the Grunt tactics.

They pressed on through the ship, Jeff trying to keep a look out for any surveillance equipment. He knew the Covenant had that kind of thing and that was probably how they knew where they were.

The corridor descended downwards slightly, probably passing through a few decks. Eventually they came to an intersection, where they stopped and Windtalker began looking through the ship's schematics.

'How far now?' Frank asked, 'I'm beginning to get tired of this. These discs better be worth it.'

'Not far,' Windtalker said, 'just take a right here and follow the corridor till you get to an unlocked door. Behind that will be the mess hall.'

'Right,' Frank said. He finished saying this word just in time to see the energy sword that appeared close to him on his right. He ducked as it swung overhead, seemingly floating in mid air. Immediately the ODSTs opened fire, dark purple blood spurting out of thin air, the camouflaged Elite fading into being visible and dropping to the floor, its energy sword's fail-safes activating, the device disappearing in a puff of blue-white energy.

'Shit,' Jones said simply, 'what a cheapskate.'

Jeff looked at the bullet riddled corpse of the light blue armored Elite that lay on the floor. There would probably be more of those Stealth Elites on board this ship, almost invisible unless you knew what you were looking for. You could always tell one was there if you saw a faint shimmer in pretty much thin air. Their camouflage technology wasn't perfect and shooting a camouflaged enemy often made them more visible.

The group moved on through the corridors before finally arriving at the door Windtalker had mentioned. Jeff was the first to enter the mess hall, getting the attention of about fifteen Elites, a variety of Minors, Majors and one or two Special Operations officers. It looked like they had just gotten alert, probably because the ship's alarms had been raised. Every alien head was turned in his direction, so Jeff quickly stepped back out into the corridor and let the door close in front of him. Even he didn't fancy his chances against that many of them at the one time in the one room.

'Is there any other way to get the data discs?' Jeff asked, 'because there has to be, I don't think it's going to be easy getting it from one of the Elites in that room.'

'Why? What's behind that door that made you shit yourself?' Frank asked. He stepped over to the door and before Jeff could stop him had let the door open. Blue plasma bolts and Needler shards zoomed his way and Frank dropped to the floor, opening fire with his rifle. The ODSTs did the same but one of them was the unfortunate receiver of several Needler shards in the chest. There was a large pink explosion which knocked Jones over and blew the ODST in half, blood spurting out across the corridor.

Without thinking about what he was doing too much Jeff sprinted into the room, diving behind one of the tables nearby. He landed at the hooves of a Minor Elite but was quicker on the draw, pulling out his Plasma Rifle and unloading several shots into the closest practical part of the Elite, which meant aiming up towards its crotch. The Elite stumbled backwards, its shield having failed as dark purple blood spurted out onto Jeff's face. The Elite slumped against the wall ahead, smearing blood as gravity pushed it slowly to the floor.

Looking around, Jeff saw that there was another Minor Elite only a few meters away. It was pointing its Plasma Rifle towards him but was distracted by some rifle fire from Heinrich. This gave Jeff a chance to get the upper hand. He got up and done a swift kick with one leg into the Elite's legs, bringing himself down with it. The alien came down on top of him and he pressed his Plasma Rifle against its head before it had a chance to recover. He squeezed the rifle's trigger and was satisfied when its fire was received by a large amount of alien blood that spurted from the Elite's skull.

He gazed around the room, seeing that three other Elites had been taken down by the others. Great, he thought, only ten more. He could see that Jones was pinned down behind a pillar, plasma fire scorching the side of it that was facing the enemy.

Jeff began firing at the Elites that were keeping Jones pinned down, taking one of them down and making the other two duck behind cover. He moved over to where the others were, staying low as he went. There were nine more Elites left and only six of them. Hardly even but they did stand a chance.

He moved over to Jones and reached over, snatching a grenade from him. Before he had a chance to complain Jeff had already pulled out the pin and thrown it. The grenade bounced in between the pair of Elites ahead, only giving them seconds to react. There wasn't a lot of room to move so they were still fairly close to the grenade when it went off, sending one of the Elites onto the floor while the other was tossed to one side of the room, hitting the wall and bouncing off of it like a ragdoll. The Elite landed with a thump on the floor nearby, a puddle of dark purple blood slowly forming around the alien's head.

Frank and the two ODSTs were receiving fire from a pair of Elites off to the right. Frank managed to take one of the Elites down, the other arming a plasma grenade and preparing to throw it.

Jeff swivelled around and fired a few shots, one of them hitting the Elite just below the hand. Its shield had already failed so the alien dropped the grenade as it took its arm back in pain. The grenade landed right next to the Elite and before it could react the explosion had incinerated most of it, leaving a charred, smouldering corpse in its place.

There were three Elites left now, all of them Special Operations and they were scattered around the now trashed mess hall, behind cover and putting their plasma rifles out of cover to fire blindly. Sometimes they would actually expose themselves but these Elites were being stubborn to flush out.

'I need some grenades,' Jeff said, 'otherwise we'll be here all night trying to get rid of these guys.'

'I'm out,' Jones said, 'you took the last of mine.'

'Hey, take these,' Heinrich said, throwing him a pair of spherical metal grenades, 'they should do it.'

Jeff looked at the strange grenades and then at Heinrich.
'What are these?'

'Concussion grenades,' Heinrich replied, 'they'll flush them out, alright.'

Jeff turned around and found what he hoped was the 'pin' on the grenades; a small switch on one side which he flicked and threw towards one of the Elites. It landed a meter or so to its left, the Elite diving out of cover as the grenade detonated a loud, floor-shaking explosion, a pale white shockwave shooting forth from the detonation point and literally bowling the Elite over.

While it was stunned Jeff opened fire, splattering the contents of its head onto the floor. He turned his attention to one of the others, using the last grenade to flush it out. It couldn't avoid the explosion and lay on the floor dazed as it tried to regain its senses. Jeff simply stepped over and unloaded several plasma bolts into its head.

The last Elite was about ten meters behind him. As he came around with the others following the Elite got up and opened fire. Jeff damaged to avoid most of the plasma, opening fire himself and letting the plasma chew through the Elite's shield. He let the rifle cool down, the others opening up with their weapons and cutting the alien down.

Jeff watched the Elite fall and then looked around the mess hall. It was indeed a mess now and he had a feeling one of the dead Elites had what they were looking for.

'Windtalker, which one of these has the discs?' He asked the AI, obviously interrupting the AI's train of thought.

'What? You said something?' Windtalker said, sounding surprised.

'Which Elite has the discs?' Jeff asked, 'there's quite a few of them.'

'Try the one farthest to your right in the blue armor,' Windtalker replied.

Jeff looked over to his right and stepped over to the bullet riddled blue armoured Elite that was in that direction. He gazed down at the motionless corpse. If the dead Elite did indeed have the discs on him, where would he put them?

Jeff bent down and began searching through the most probable places, taking off bits of armor and checking for any compartments or anything of the kind. It didn't take him long to find the discs stored away in a small compartment in one of the Elite's thigh plates.

'I got them,' he said.

Frank came up behind him.

'You sure those are the ones?' He asked.

'Why wouldn't they be?' Jeff asked, 'I doubt the Covenant use human built discs for anything.'

'Destroy them,' Frank said, 'then we can get out of here.'

Jeff dropped the pair of discs onto the floor, pushing a booted heel down on the both of them and grinding them against the metal floor. Taking his foot away he could see that the discs were now in much smaller pieces.

'That's not adequate,' Frank said, 'we don't know if the Covenant can still recover the information since we don't know the extent of their technology.'

Jeff aimed his Plasma Rifle at the remains of the discs and fired, completely incinerating them.

'Does that do it?' He asked, bringing up his Plasma Rifle at about stomach level.

'Yeah, sure,' Frank replied, not sounding too enthusiastic, 'now let's go back the way we came and get off of this crazy ship.'

'I don't think that will be a good idea, Lieutenant,' Windtalker said over their radios.

'Why not?'

'The Covenant soldiers you haven't killed yet are coming down the way we came. There are a lot of them, so I suggest we find another means of escape.'

'Like what?' Jones asked, 'I don't like the idea of being stuck on this ship.'

'There's a hangar bay nearby,' Windtalker said, 'according to the data I've been accessing there's a Phantom drop-ship still docked.'

'Well, do any of us now how to fly it?' Frank asked, 'because I don't.'
He turned around to look at the others. No one seemed too keen on the idea of flying an alien drop-ship.

'We'll figure it out when we get there,' Frank asked, 'which way to the hangar?'

'Just go through the doors ahead and do your corridor following thing,' Windtalker said, 'it shouldn't be too hard to find.'

They started for the door when the one they had entered the mess hall from opened. A few Elites and Grunts rushed into the room, taking cover and followed by some Jackals and a few more Elites.

'Shit,' Frank said as he saw them, 'with them on our asses we'll never get to that Phantom.'

Jeff looked at the enemy troops and then at his group. It took him a moment to decide what to do next.

'I'll stay here and hold them off,' Jeff said, 'you guys go on ahead. I'll catch up.'

'What?' Jones said, sounding surprised, 'by yourself? You may be good at what you do but you can't be thinking you can hold them off all by yourself?'

'Just go, I'll catch up,' Jeff said, 'it shouldn't be too hard.'

'Let's go,' Frank said. He didn't look too worried. 'The Sergeant knows what he's doing so we're going.'

Heinrich placed a hand on Jeff's shoulder.

'You'll be fine,' he said, grinning. He let go of Jeff's shoulder and left the room with the others.

Once they had gone and the plasma was already flying, he took position behind a pillar and began the tedious job of holding off the Covenant forces.

'Covie in the bushes, to your left.'

The marine rolled sideways, coming to rest on the soft, damp and grassy ground. He put the Jackal visible through the nearby bushes into his rifle's sights, taking a deep breath.

'Take it easy son; there ain't many of them,' Major George Golding whispered, 'now, if think about this for a moment: if these aliens think they're better than us, how come they're not immune to headshots?'

The marine squeezed his BR36 Battle Rifle's trigger. There was a loud crack followed by a wet spurting sound. The Jackal's head blew apart in an explosion of purple gore, its energy shield deactivating as it dropped to the jungle floor.

'Shouldn't you be getting some sleep, sir?' The marine asked, turning his way, 'we've been at this for a while.'

'I had a nap earlier,' George replied. He checked his Magnum .44, seeing that all six chambers had a slug in them. It was hard to see in the darkness of the jungle, but the small light he had attached to the side of his cowboy hat did provide some illumination in the darkness.

'I didn't think you enjoyed hunting so much, sir,' Private First Class Ekholm said, 'so, how many deer have you killed?'

'Killed is too strong a word,' George replied, no longer whispering.
He was pretty sure there weren't any other Covenant patrols nearby, so he assumed it was safe to talk normally.

'What do you say, then?'

'Hunted is much lighter a word,' George answered, 'because, after all, I do hunt deer. The reservations on Reach were especially good for hunting, almost unspoilt by population growth. Unlike on Earth where they have massive reservations in the middle of Goddamn cities.'

'So, you liked Reach then?' Ekholm asked.

'It was a nice place,' George said, sitting up. His jacket was damp from the ground and as well as that it smelt like freshly cut grass. He didn't like that smell too much. 'Jericho VII, on the other hand, didn't have a lot of settlements on it. That place is gone as well.'
Ekholm paused, getting up.

'So, instead of hunting deer now you're hunting Covenant?' Ekholm asked, 'after all, it was your idea to drag me out here...'

'You weren't doing anything else,' George replied, 'I wouldn't count playing poker as much of an activity. Besides, I needed some company. Being a Major can get to be a very lonely job if you don't play your cards right.'

'Really?' Ekholm raised an eyebrow.

'Well, it can get lonely if you're a prick of a Major,' George said, 'and I know I'm not. No one else wanted to go alien hunting anyway, especially at this time.'

'It's one AM on my watch,' Ekholm replied, 'but that's still on Reach time. What's a full day and night on this planet, anyway?'

'About twenty nine hours,' George replied.

'Twenty nine hours?' Ekholm shook his head. 'I don't think I can get used to that.'

'I certainly don't know if we'll ever get off this planet, son,' George said, 'no one knows we're here. We could be light years away from any kind of human presence. You better start getting used to it.'

'What if we start running out of stuff?'

'Like what?'

'Food, maybe?' Ekholm asked, 'we could run out of food...'

George shook his head in some disbelief.

'Have you looked around, Private?' George asked, glancing around the area for emphasis, 'we're surrounded by food. There are fruits and plants and native animals. We could last forever on this planet.'

'What about fuel?'

'If we run out we nick some of the Covenant stuff,' George replied, 'soon we'll be fighting them with their own weapons and equipment.'
Ekholm sat back against a nearby tree. He looked like he was having trouble taking in all this information.

'Let's get back to Camp Golding,' George said, grinning.

'You really think we'll be on this planet for that long?' Ekholm asked as George got up. The Major helped the young marine onto his feet. He noticed a bandaged up part of the marine's leg, just above the knee.

'How's that leg wound treating you?' George asked.

'It's fine,' Ekholm replied, 'now, again Major, how long do you think we'll be stuck on this planet?'

'God knows,' George said. They started through the jungle, following the markers that had been placed by marines to help lead them back to the camp. The markers were merely a few long pieces of fluorescent tape wrapped around trees which could be seen well in the night but were hardly noticeable in the day. The Covenant was probably using them as a guide as well but George doubted they would try anything to get back the ancient structures. At least, he hoped they wouldn't.

George realized he was forgotten something important and so told Ekholm to continue back to the base. The Major went back to where the Jackal lay, part of its head missing. Making sure there weren't any more of its lot close by he retrieved his pocket knife from a pocket in his jacket and slowly cut away the Jackal's head, in typical hunter-style fashion.

Wiping up the blood with some cloth and putting a few bio-foam capsules into the missing section of the head he stored the trophy in a pouch slung around his back. In his 'office' back at the base camp he had a few others, most from hunting that he had done earlier on.

He started back to the small set of structures. He passed a few bored marines on patrol duty, most of them sitting against trees and logs halfway to falling asleep.

He didn't really care much for the fact that they were falling asleep. If Covenant soldiers broke through their lines George would know about it and those soldiers would probably regret having fallen asleep.
Arriving back at the main structure, he started up to his office, passing marines who were fast asleep in makeshift bunks. A few were still awake and still playing card games. George returned to his office and placed the Jackal head with the few others that were nicely lined up on a shelf he had put on one of the walls. He had had to use a heavy duty drill to drill holes in the walls for the screws since the walls themselves seemed to be made of a stone-metal hybrid material.

'Don't you think that's a bit...you know, disgusting?'

George swivelled around and at the same time drew his Magnum revolver. He found that the source of the surprise voice was from Captain Bob Turnwell, who was sitting at George's desk.

'Captain, you scared the shit out of me...'

'I arrived about an hour ago,' The Captain said, 'but you were busy out hunting with that Ekholm guy. Instead of deer you're hunting Covenant soldiers.'

'Well, it seems Jeff and his squad done their job then,' George said, 'now get out of my damn chair.'

The Captain stood up and out of the chair, chuckling.

'I like what you've done to the place,' Bob said, stepping away from the chair, 'it seems you and the marines haven't been doing very much at all.'

George scratched at his moustache. Now that the Captain was here it seems George would have to take orders. The Colonel was here somewhere but George definitely wasn't taking orders from that guy.

'I can explain, Captain,' George said, placing his rifle on the desk and making sure the safety was on.

'No need,' Bob replied, 'since we're stuck on some unknown planet it's understandable that people get slack. Anyway, where is that Sergeant and his friends? I expected them to come back with me...'

'They're raiding a Covenant cruiser to recover the data discs you lost,' George said, 'hopefully they won't get killed.'
Bob raised an eyebrow.

'Data discs?'

'The ones Windtalker said you were carrying,' George said, realizing that they may have had just made a terrible mistake, 'you know, those ones?'

'Oh, those,' Bob said, 'they're full of false information. I was using them as a bargaining tool...Keep me alive a little while longer...'
George paused. If they were fake, then he had just sent some of his best men on a crazy, pointless mission. For some reason he found that funny and simply laughed.

'Man, they're going to be pissed off about this,' George said, 'finding out they would've been better off leaving the discs alone.'

'What if some of them are dead?' Bob asked, 'it would seem like a bit of a waste...'

'I have the utmost confidence in the men I sent to recover and probably destroy the discs,' George replied, 'I wouldn't send a bunch of recruits on a mission like this.'

George sat himself down in his chair and pressed a holographic keypad near one of the compartments. The compartment opened and inside was a few bottles of beer he had salvaged from some supply crates after they had first set this place up as their headquarters. He took out a bottle, popped off the cap and took a gulp before he belched loudly. He placed the bottle on the desk and found the notepad he had used to write down notes concerning their Elite prisoner. The notepad had been buried under loose pieces of paper, most of which he no longer needed.

'While you were off being held captive by the enemy, Captain,' George said, 'some of our guys managed to use some of the Covenant anti-aircraft batteries around here to shoot down a Seraph fighter which appeared to be on some sort of scouting mission. We captured the pilot, most likely the first time an Elite has actually been captured alive.'

'So?' Bob asked, not sounding too interested.

'What do you mean, "So"?' George said, surprised, 'already I've interrogated the prisoner and managed to learn quite a bit from them.'

'And let me guess,' Bob said, 'you're going to use this information against them?'

'Of course,' George replied, 'why not?'

'And just what did you learn from the prisoner?' Bob asked, 'anything that may prove to be useful?'

'Well, err...Maybe...'

Bob didn't look too surprised by this reaction.

'Take a look at these notes, then,' George said, 'spelling out alien words in English isn't exactly my strongpoint, though.'
He handed the Captain the notepad. The Captain quickly read through the notes, shaking his head.

'That's nothing we can use against them,' Bob said, 'that's just stuff you could put into UNSC records. Nothing here will help us.'
George picked up the bottle of beer and took another sip. He was grinning, like he had some sort of exciting idea. Bob didn't like this expression.

'It's only the start of my master plan,' George said, beginning to sound a bit crazy, 'you see, I've got a body or two on ice so some of our guys can do autopsies. What I'm thinking is that if we find out anything about their anatomy that we can use against them, perhaps create a virus or something, we can gain the upper hand in this war.

We could release it on one of their ships, which in turn could be taken to their home-world. Their medical facilities are shithouse as far as I know. They wouldn't be able to stop it. We would gain the upper hand.'

Bob had been listening and shaking his head after every few sentences. He had a hand to his chin in thought, like he usually did.
'It's a crazy plan,' Bob said, 'I can guarantee the UNSC has captured its fair share of aliens. I can guarantee they've done their fair share of research.'

'I wouldn't be too sure,' George said, 'since when has anyone captured any aliens? They would probably kill themselves before anyone captured them. But we have one in the other room under guard. He doesn't seem too keen on living in a cell. We probably won't be able to get much out of an Elite, unless we threaten him. Threaten him a lot.'

'With what? Death?' Bob asked, 'you can't threaten something that isn't afraid to die.'

'Then you do the next best thing,' George replied, taking out the Magnum .44 revolver. He twirled it around in his hand and in one fluid motion slid it back into its holster. 'All you have to do is threaten him with something no man could handle.'

Bob didn't like where this conversation was leading. The Major was an unpredictable man sometimes.

'I really don't want to know...' Bob said.

'Whatever,' George replied, 'but you know where I'm getting at. I
don't even know if Elites have any, but I'm not about to take a look.'

A technician in the typical yellow and grey uniforms that they wore arrived in the room. He didn't seem too excited.

'Major, a Covenant Phantom's just arrived,' the technician said, 'the team sent to find the discs are in it.'

Bob exchanged glances with the Major.

'What are we going to tell them?' Bob asked.

'Nothing,' George said, 'it'll be our little secret.' He turned to the technician. 'Tell them to get themselves in here.'

The technician nodded and left the room. A few minutes later a dirtied looking group of men entered the room. Lieutenant Frank Hastings was among them. He was holding the Windtalker belt.

'Where's the Sergeant?' Bob asked.

'He stayed behind to cover our asses,' Frank said, 'probably dead by now.'

Bob looked a little surprised.


Corporal Jones Marshall, who had been standing behind the
Lieutenant, stepped forward.

'I doubt he's dead,' Jones said, 'I know him better than anyone here. He knows how to look after himself.'

'Did you find the discs?' George asked. A few of the original group was missing, so it did seem like a bit of a waste of life. But this is what happened in war and George was well accustomed to it.

'Here's Windtalker,' Frank said, throwing the belt on the desk, 'and we destroyed those damn discs. Now, can we get some rest?'

'Yeah, sure, go right ahead,' George replied. The group left the room, Bob removing the AI chip from the metal belt and inserting it into the pedestal near the desk.

'Don't switch him on,' George said, stopping the Captain in his tracks, 'I really don't want to hear its voice. Just leave it alone for now.'

Bob didn't proceed any further with activating Windtalker.

'So, do you think the Sergeant's still alive?' Bob asked, 'because if he stayed behind on that ship...'

'He's probably still alive,' George replied, 'if he doesn't find a way back here until tomorrow night then maybe he is dead. Although I would say he's already trying to figure out a way to get back here.'

Plasma fire zipped past him as Jeff raced through the ship's corridors. It had been about half an hour since the others had left and probably left him to his death. Of course, Jeff had done this all voluntarily.

Now he was fighting his way back through the ship, trying to remember where they came in from. If he could find a hangar bay maybe he could steal a ship, although he would have trouble flying it. He had never been much of a pilot, especially with alien ships.
He stopped behind a large metallic purple crate that was in this particular corridor, noticing that a group of Jackals was assembling at the far end of the corridor. They were getting into firing position and down the corridor behind him a pair of Elites was doing the same.

He had been in situations like this before, so making sure he wasn't exposed to the Jackals at the far end he turned around and opened fire at the Elites. Plasma glanced off their shields, the Elites stepping into cover. They would most likely try and keep this up until reinforcements arrived. It wasn't often a single human managed to hold their own on board a heavily populated Covenant vessel.

He still maintained his fire as one of the Elites stepped out of cover and fired a volley of plasma. He managed to deplete the alien's personal shield, causing plasma to burn through its armor. The Elite stumbled backwards, let out a cry of pain and dropped to the floor.

He stopped firing, letting his Plasma Rifle cool down before he began again, this time at the other Elite as it stepped out of cover. He depleted its shield before it stepped back into cover again, probably to let it recharge.

Jeff had acquired some plasma grenades from fallen Covenant soldiers and took one out, arming it. It glowed brightly with streaming white plasma energy. He threw it, letting it land next to the Elite in cover. The Elite didn't have a lot of room to manoeuvre and the grenade went off, sending the alien flying from cover and hitting the nearest wall with a dull thud. It bounced off it slightly and hit the floor, a puddle of dark purple blood forming around its head.

Jeff leaned around the crate, this time facing the Jackals. They weren't taking cover, rather just putting most of themselves behind their energy shields. He opened fire, mowing down two of the Jackals. The last remaining one rolled out of the way but he easily caught up with it, cutting it down with his Plasma Rifle. Once the corridor was clear he moved through it, passing the Jackal corpses and following it along as it descended a few decks. He didn't have much of an idea of where he was heading, preferring to stick to the main corridors in the hopes that they would lead to a shuttle bay. They would have to, since he wasn't heading off into any adjoining rooms.

He continued through the ship, encountering small patrol groups usually made up of Jackals and Grunts. He eliminated what he could, more intent on escaping than fighting.

Soon he was heading through the ship with all kinds of Covenant soldiers chasing after him. Plasma fire was constantly heading his way as he finally found what he was looking for. He entered a large, multi-level hangar, Covenant crates scattered around the ground floor. He was on one floor above but all he had to do was jump down and hope he could take the fall, preferably landing on some of the crates so he wasn't falling from such a height.

He could see a few parked Banshees in one side of the hangar. He had no idea how to fly them, but he hoped it wouldn't be too difficult.
As he entered the hangar several Grunts, Jackals and Elites began storming out of the doors on the ground level. The same thing was happening on the other levels so Jeff jumped off of the floor he was on, landing quite hard on the crates below. He managed to land on his feet, taking no damage at all. It took him a few seconds to recover before he jumped off the crates and sprinted for the nearest Banshee.

The small craft was only large enough for a single pilot, usually used for scouting missions. It did have your typical Covenant armaments, such as plasma canons and a Fuel Rod Cannon. The cockpit was covered but this cover was currently open so Jeff could climb in easier. The craft had two stubby wings, but Jeff doubted there was much point for them being there since he had seen ones flying fine with their wings blown off.

Climbing inside, he was faced with a small number of holographic and solid controls. Taking a hemisphere shaped blue glowy thing as what started and moved the craft he pressed it. Surprisingly he must have done something right since he felt the Banshee's 'engine' activate and it began to move forward slowly, scarping across the hangar bay floor.

Plasma fire scorched the sides of the craft. He knew he would have to get moving properly soon, before any of the Covenant soldiers decided to throw a grenade in his direction. He fiddled with some holographic controls, noticing what looked like a purple-blue throttle to his left. He grabbed it and eased it forward, causing the Banshee to take off at a steady, ascending angle. The screen in front of him showed him what was at the front of the craft, an aiming reticule in the centre in case he ever needed to start shooting.

As he took off he managed to change the angle of the camera so it was showing him what was on his sides. There were a lot of Grunts, Jackals and Elites standing around the hangar, shooting in his direction. He was just flying out of the hangar when he felt the craft lurch, spiralling to one side as its left wing was blow off. Jeff swore loudly and quickly regained control, activating the craft's boost function and speeding away from the Covenant cruiser. He doubted they would waste their ship's weapons on him, and something told him that not everyone aboard that ship wanted him dead.