Posted By: Shurmanator<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 30 October 2009, 12:45 am
>>>>>>///ONI Orbital Research Platform
>>>>>>///Neptune, Sol System
>>>///June 27, 2568
>///Delphi Station Recording Log
Awaken, for it is time for you to serve.
Rebecca Lin rose lethargically from her sleeping mat as she heard the voice beckon her. Peripheral vision allowed her to catch a glimpse of Shira Covez as the woman remained sleeping soundly on her makeshift bed next to Lin's. But there was no time to converse, and there was no desire to warn.
It had called her.
At first she walked without incident through the ramshackle mess hall. The bodies of Richard Vauxon and the Colonel still lay in a dense pile, oblivious to the horrors their actions left behind. The seemed to form a lopsided grin as she walked past them, as if the two men's spirits were laughing at her misfortune, laughing at the fact that they were first, and had not to undergo this pain and torture.
For it was pain and torture, there was no doubt. The eerie, cold presence had penetrated deep inside her, unrestricted by the realms of consciousness, invited by the realm of subconsciousness into her sleeping mind. It whispered words of love and loyalty outside and inside her ear, like a lover. Rebecca Lin felt violated, spiritually and emotionally.
For now, there was nothing she could do.
The door to the mess hall swished open. Victor Milavech was sitting against the wall outside of it, looking down at a dark figure on the floor. The trooper's gaze was unflinching as he stared down at the body.
He looked up at Lin, then gesticulated helplessly at the foreboding figure. Hesitantly, Lin peered deeper into the impenetrable darkness and saw what it was.
Thomas Belansky, despite his blatant annoyance, was perhaps the only thing that had kept them content, had kept them humorous, somewhere deep down inside. He was a small glimmer of light and hope in the dark, a way of combating the evil.
He lay dead on the ground.
The thought jarred Rebecca Lin from it's grasp but for a moment.
And a moment was all she needed.
"Get out of my head!" she screamed into the hall, her sound echoing into the perpetual night of the station, breaking the hold of the darkness for a frozen sliver of time; an anthem for revolutionaries, a beacon for the oppressed. Yes, it was all these things.
Of course, in the end, it would mean nothing.
With one last effort of the mind, she slumped to the cold steel.
Victor Milavech rose.
Rebecca Lin's purpose had faded for now.
But his had only begun.
The Inner Recesses of the Mind.
The Thing was surprised by the sheer emptiness of Rebecca Lin's psyche. It was vast, but its apparent infinity was not unexpected. The Thing had learned over the course of his observations that all of the non-believers aboard the station were the elite of their race, highly intelligent and experienced. This incredible wealth of knowledge, most of which their pathetic conscious minds could not even fathom, needed an incredible amount of space in which to occupy.
No, the size of the mind did not trouble the Thing. But the emptiness did. It disturbed it.
I grow tired of this. Either reveal your defense or awaken, do not waste my time with this game of hide and seek.
The game has just begun, my friend.
An explosion of dust and rock ripped the Thing from its metaphoric pedestal of arrogance. It tumbled around wildly in the bright light that had suddenly flooded the vast mind. Slowly it regained its composure, and was pushed back by Lin's defense.
The memory became clear.
"I got four tangos coming up on the right flank, guard the goddamn ridge-line!"
"Sergeant, Klein spotted Jackal snipers moving up along the top of the valley wall, they're about to reach a fire position!"
"Why the fuck is Klein telling you, he's Vince's fucking spotter, tell the son of a bitch to snipe the freakin' vultures!"
"And get on that flank!"
"Sarge, what the hell do I do with these damn spooks?"
Sergeant Michael Carlin ducked down as a bolt of plasma ripped into the wall of stone cover he was crouched behind. Another armored ODST, his visor caked with dirt and dust and his name-tag burned off his helmet, continued to scream the question.
"Those spooks are the priority sir, what the hell do I do with them?"
Sergeant Carlin groaned exasperatedly as more plasma continued to burn into the stone wall. He looked wildly around their dug-in position at the South end of the rock valley, towering cliffs surrounding them on three sides and a platoon of Covenant on the fourth. It was clear that there was no where to hide twelve ONI archeologists who had fired a weapon maybe a dozen times in their lives.
"Keep them at the back of the ridge, and stay the hell away from the flanks. Last thing we need is one of them getting blown to bits by some over-enthusiastic Grunt."
"Copy that sir!" the Marine obliged, and hurried back to the rear of the formation, weaving through wounded troopers and desperate medics.
Carlin turned to Corporal Peters on his right.
"What's the status on the right flank?"
Peters spoke calmly over the audio-link, years of combat having adjusted him to the oddness of tremendous noise pouring through the outside speakers but relative quiet on the squad frequency.
"Suppressing fire drove the little bastards back, and we posted another firing squad on that position. That damn ramp makes it too easy for them to get up here."
Carlin sensed a lull in the barrage and burst out of cover for a brief second. He paused for a moment to take aim, then let loose a stream of rounds at a tight-nit group of advancing Grunts. They scattered from the onslaught, but four of them were caught in the burst and dropped to the ground. Their Brute commander, placed at the rear of the echelon, looked up at the high ridge at his attacker, and opened fire with his weapon. Carlin saw the muzzle flash and was barely able to duck down in time to avoid most the spikes, although two grazed his shoulder plating and bounced off.
He turned back to Peters, saying, "Keep some CQB personnel with the firing squad, it wastes too much ammo to let loose with full auto on them when they're that close. Shotguns if you can manage it. We have to make some use of them in this situation."
Peters nodded as he too rose up out of cover to lay down some fire. He responded as he crouched back down, almost the victim of a similar spike barrage, "Good point, I'll get right on that."
Carlin whipped around in surprise as an almost gentle hand touched his shoulder. A woman was crouching behind him, clearly recognizable as an ONI operative by her RECON helmet variant.
Her voice was far too elegant for the battlefield, but she used it anyway.
"Sergeant, my team needs to get through to that tunnel now if you and your men want evac. You heard the brass, no artifacts, no retrieval."
Carlin gestured toward the East side of the valley, on the left flank of the platoon's position. The ridge lowered in a slope for a good ten meters and the high rock wall at its front disappeared afterward, ending in a bare swath of land leading up to a massive tunnel in the side of the cliff wall.
"In case you haven't noticed, spook, there's a good twenty meter stretch of cover-less ground between us and that damn tunnel. If you and your team want to charge down there, toothbrushes and shovels raised, be my guest. It'll save me the trouble of babysitting."
The ONI operative whipped off her helmet, revealing the face of Rebecca Lin, a good fifteen years younger, underneath. Her normally attractive features had been marred by hours in a stifling helmet and a deformed expression of rage on her face.
"Listen to me, you pod-jockey fuck! You get your goddamn act together, put those weapons to work, and start killing some motherfucking aliens!"
Carlin slapped her across the face with a vicious backhand, then leaned down toward her, snarling. His men didn't even flinch, and continued their firing operations.
"No, you listen to me, bitch. I've heard about you, some hotshot just outta' school ONI prodigy with a plan to 'save humanity'. Let me tell you something. No damn piece of dinosaur bone or whatever the hell you'll find in that tunnel is going to win this war. My men and I, and all of our brothers and sisters, that's what's going to win this war. And we'll do it my way, not your way. So if you're so sure you can take out a platoon of highly trained Covenant soldiers protecting their most important religious stronghold five hundred thousand light years away from our galaxy, with only about ten fit men at your disposal and your back against the wall, then you can take my gun and start shooting. Is that what you want?"
Lin, for one of the first times in her life, felt a jolt of fear run through her body. The Sergeant clearly wasn't kidding around... and it was clear to her that messing with ODSTs was not a smart move.
Bred by a determination to get the last word, she spat at him, "Just hurry up."
The Sergeant grinned at her and patted her cheek.
"You got spunk, bitch. I'll give you that. Now get back to your pack of techies and let me do my job."
Sergeant Carlin rose from his cowering victim, smiling. It was the last expression his face ever wore.
Apparently Klein never told his sniper partner Vince about those Jackals, because one of them chose this point in time to heft his beam rifle a put a laser blast through the back of the Sergeant's skull.
The ODST dropped to the dusty earth, a neat hole burning red in the back of his helmet.
Lin gasped in fear as she shuffled backwards from the dead marine. She looked up to see Corporal Peters yell out in agony as he saw his superior fall.
"Shit, Sarge is down! Sarge is down! Call the medic!"
Another ODST turned backwards from the line and shouted back, "What medic? The ones that aren't dead are a little busy taking care of people that are actually alive! Face it, Peters, Sarge is dead. So with all due respect, sir, get your ass on the line and give some orders!"
Peters nodded, his agony and regret replaced by years of instinctive combat training. He immediately began shouting orders as he leapt back into position at the ridge wall.
Lin put her head in her hands, shaking off the gruesome scene she just witnessed. It was calm in the dark space between her palms, it was a self-made sanctuary of security, an asylum for the mind. Eventually, she realized she had to return to the cold harshness of reality, but in that seemingly infinite time trapped in her hands, she had felt calm.
It was fleeting.
When Lin opened her eyes and removed her sweating palms from her face, she immediately wished she hadn't.
A glob of glowing green energy lobbed over the ridge wall and crashed to the ground behind her, in between the firing line and the ONI archeological team. The force of the impact knocked Lin flat on her face, and she felt something sharp rip into her cheek.
The deafening boom of the explosion had left her stunned, but she was able to make out one word shouted out from the line.
It jolted her out of her stupor. She leapt to her feet, attempting to rush back to her team. Instead, she was thrown to the ground once more by another green flash of energy. ODST's screamed out in fear and rage as the line broke.
Brutes vaulted up the ridge and over the wall, wielding Spiker rifles and Maulers as knives. The infamous right flank was quickly overwhelmed, as a group of Grunts, born and bred to die by their own hand, rushed the marines with live grenades strapped to their arms. Lin felt time slow to a painful crawl as the carnage descended upon her like a vulture on a rotting carcass. She saw marines thrown bodily across the ridge by vicious assailants, saw arms and heads chopped off by flashing spikes, saw explosions of blue and green tear into armor and flesh.
She sat down, her brain unable to process the destruction, and her body far too tired to do anything about it. She glanced over her shoulder at her team. One of them was gesturing to the others to follow him, screaming something about making a break for the mysterious tunnel. Lin didn't even bother shouting out to them it was suicide; they were all going to die anyway.
Her last glimpse of her team, the men and women she had worked with for two years, was them charging down the ridge toward the cavern, only to be cut down by ridiculous amounts of plasma fire and spikes. Tears ran down her face as they dropped to the ground, attempting to crawl away, as grenades found their prone forms.
She cried for eternity on that ridge, thousands of light-years from home, among the dying and the dead.
Without warning, a roaring noise, louder than the combined uproar from the battle, tore through the canyon. A shadow fell across the combatants, and for a brief moment, they looked up as one.
The Forward Unto Dawn zoomed above the valley, flying in low as if coming in for a landing. It quickly flew out of sight towards another mountain range off in the distance, nearly invisible across the waves of heat emanating from the massive desert. Behind her, three Pelican escorts zipped down low across the battlefield. One continued to fly along the burning efflux trail of the Dawn, but the other two began opening fire with chain guns on the Covenant still in the main valley.
Brutes and Jackals roared in rage at the untouchable Human aircraft, and Grunts screamed out in fear as they ran from the 50 caliber downpour. Their morale soaring to unprecedented heights, the Marines on the ridge cheered and used this moment of shock and surprise to turn on the attacking Covenant.
Lin watched with a slow rising hope as shotgun bursts tore into Brute ranks, and as quick SMG bursts mowed down charging Grunts. With the chain gun fire echoing in the distance, the Covenant attempted to retreat toward the tunnel, but were cut down by the advancing marine forces. Almost as suddenly as it began, the Covenant charge on the ridge ended, with all of the attackers dead and one very ravaged platoon of marines cheering, basking in their victory.
A hand, surprisingly gentle, was laid on Lin's shoulder. An ODST stood above Lin, his fair hair tousled and ripped from Combat, his battered helmet under one arm. The name "Gibbs" was stenciled on the front of his chest plate.
"Doctor? Are you okay?" he asked.
Lin looked at the dead bodies of her team, mingled with those of the retreating Covenant. She looked around at the mauled and mutilated bodies of ODSTs and marine forces.
"No, I'm not. But, it's over right?"
She looked up at Gibbs, only to see his face replaced by a tormenting hole of blackness. It stared mockingly into her soul, spreading outwards across the battlefield, engulfing her reality. It whispered into her ear, into her mind, into her everything.
No. You were right, earlier. It has only just begun.
>>>>>>///ONI Orbital Research Platform
>>>>>>///Neptune, Sol System
>>>///June 27, 2568
>///Delphi Station Recording Log
Rebecca Lin rose from the chilled floor of the station. She glanced around in the dark hallway, taking in the changes to the scenery. Thomas Belansky's body remained in its previous position, but the crying Victor Milavech had vanished. To where, she had no idea.
The darkness, defying all logic, darkened in front of her. Pitch blackness turned blacker, and twisted into something... satanic. It gasped and shifted, moving toward her down the unholy corridor. It resolved itself into a pulsating mass of black, and began to envelop her, embracing her lovingly. She felt cold, colder than the deepest recesses of space.
Are you ready to serve?
It spoke caressingly, soothing her with its voice.
"I am ready."
It detached itself from her and began to float down the corridor, away from the mess. She followed obediently, no longer able to bear being away from her lover.
They moved down the long central arm of the station, passing the interrogation rooms on the left hand side of the hall. Eventually, they came to a single door on the right hand side of the central passage. Lin typed in an access code and entered. She was in a small antechamber, illuminated by red flashing emergency lights. Directly in front of her were a set of double doors that led to the hangar.
But she had no interest in that place.
Instead, she turned left, and walked up a set of staircases behind a doorway. They led to an observation deck above the hangar. The room was filled with communication equipment, and the Master Control station was located in the rear of the room. Lin walked up to the comm gear and inputed an emergency distress code.
Good, my love. Good.
It whispered behind her, a silent sentinel at the doorway to the observation room.
Lin found a far off surveying satellite orbiting around Saturn. She pinged her distress code off the satellite and re-directed it toward the gas-giant's atmosphere. This placement would insure that any vessel on a course for Delphi Station orbiting around Neptune would pass the apparent source of the distress code; the atmosphere of Saturn. The captain of said vessel, in this case the supply ship scheduled to arrive the next morning, would abandon their mission to answer the emergency SOS. By the time they figured out it was false, the Thing would be long gone.
Lin looked up from the comm console and then down through the observation glass into the empty hangar. It, however, was not as empty as she imagined.
A lone figure stood in the center of the hangar, looking out the atmosphere shielding into the infinity of space. As if it sensed her gaze, it slowly turned around.
A face, young and familiar, stared up at her.
Andrew Kenderson smiled at Rebecca Lin from down in the hangar.
It was at this point in time that something very sharp and fast plunged in between Doctor Lin's shoulder-blades. She fell without a sound.
The Thing pulsated toward Victor Milavech, as he stood behind the comm console, holding a sharpened piece of metal in his hand.
Milavech nodded in a agreement.
Andrew Kenderson laughed down in the hangar, and turned back to the blackness of space.