Posted By: Steve<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 18 January 2007, 1:22 am
"Did you ever wonder what's up there?" he asked, staring at the clusters of stars that dotted the black canvas of night.
"Maybe someone up there was wondering what it's like here."
"I guess." She sighed. "Do you think we'll ever meet them?" she inquired, rolling her head so as to see his silhouette outlined against the waves of wild grass.
"I hope so." He turned his head to meet her eyes. "Don't you?"
The whistles were still ringing in the Master Chief's ears when his eyes shot open. An explosion occurred about twenty meters from his position, shooting crusty, desert earth into the air. He noticed his helmet laying an arm length away on his left. For the first time in a very long while he felt the wind rush through his hair and sun hit his face. However, along with these small intangibles came an overwhelming feeling of vulnerability, and the Chief quickly sat up, his muscles in strong protest.
A pair of Banshees streaked across the cloudless sky, with only smoke trails from missiles and other aircraft interrupting the endless blue.
John rolled over and grabbed the inside of his helmet with both hands. He slipped it on, hissing sounds signaling the re-pressurization of his suit.
The Chief's head began to spin, causing him to double over and stabilize himself by putting a fisted gauntlet on the hard ground. The Wraith shot that had impacted no more than two meters from the side of his Mongoose had done a number on him. He could remember flying through the air, flipping over twice, and landing on his back. The next thing he knew he was laying in a field of wild grass on his home planet of Eridanus 2, on the outskirts of Elysium City. He was talking to an old friend of his, someone whose name had long ago slipped his memory. They were talking about someone watching them from space.
This last thought had made him open his eyes and regain consciousness faster than his body would have liked.
Radio chatter that sounded very distant filled his ears, and, for a spilt second, he could have sworn he heard Cortana say, "Chief, leave!"
A second later his head stopped spinning and his vision became clear again. His eyes came to a rest on his main weapon, the MA5C, which lay half buried in the beige sand. He grabbed it and stood up, his bones aching. The Chief slung the assault weapon across his back, which was kept in place by magnets imbedded in the armor on his back. He gazed downrange as half a dozen blue Wraith orbs crisscrossed on their way to their targets. It was at this point that the Master Chief noticed a massive doughnut-shaped storm cloud, its empty center located over the giant tectonic shift that had occurred only hours before, drawing great interest from the Covenant, who quickly secured the area. And what drew enough interest from the Covenant to relocate every single unit solely for its defense drew an equal amount of interest from the Brass. The Chief had been sent to spearhead the attack and take out any targets of opportunity.
He briefly wished that Cortana had been with him to ask what his plan was. But he quickly snapped out of it. He had problems to deal with right here and now. One of the half-dozen white-hot orbs caught his attention because it was headed directly for him.
Over the COM, John heard General Hoover ask, "Any sign of the Chief?"
"Negative, sir," a Marine replied. "I think we lost him."
"Not yet," the Chief muttered to himself.
His right hand reached down to his ammo belt and acquired a grenade-sized object. It was black and roughly-barrel shaped with orange emitters on the sides. He had wanted to test the hand-held shield generator before he had been thrown into combat, but this was the only option. The Master Chief flipped up the safety guard and depressed the activator on the top, releasing the center, which elongated downwards. He wound up and threw it directly between and feet, grabbed his pistol, and crouched to allow the protective sphere to cover him completely.
The air popped as it was displaced to make room for the shield. Yellow hexagons joined on all sides to form a coherent energy shield that easily covered the crouching Spartan.
The sizzling energy mortar impacted just meters in front of the Chief, blowing what was left of the overturned Mongoose into a thousand pieces. White sand radiated away from the epicenter, scarring the desert floor.
Before the dust had even cleared, the shield surrounding the Chief collapsed and he sprang from his crouched position. He holstered his pistol and unlimbered his MA5C. At this point, he was in a dead sprint, his boots digging into the ground, his heart pounding. An explosion from something forced him to sidestep to his left, but he did not slow down.
The Chief reached the edge of no-man's land to find a slight depression filled to the brim with Brutes and no less than six Wraiths. They were all taking cover behind the rise on which the Master Chief stood on, and they watched in awe as this single human leapt off of the mound feet first directly towards the Chieftain Brute.
Although the highly decorated Brute reacted as fast as he could, winding back the mighty Fist of Rukt, he was no match for the speed of the armored Demon, who used its heavy feet to drop kick the Chieftain in the throat, crushing his windpipe and severing his spinal chord.
Both the Chieftain and the Hammer fell with a mighty thud.
And, for a very long moment, nobody moved. The wind had stopped, as did the incoming fire. Even with the Master Chief's super-sensitive hearing, there was nothing to be heard. He surveyed the situation: Surrounded on all sides by a dozen very shocked Brutes.
They were so shocked, in fact, that they didn't recognize the characteristic whine of Pelican dropships or the dull roar of Longsword bomber jets inbound over the no-man's land from which the human had assaulted.
But the Chief knew they were coming. So, careful not to make any sudden movements, he plucked another hand-held shield generator from his belt and flipped the safety guard up. He would have to time it perfectly.
The Brute closest to John cried out in its alien tongue, "Kill the Demon!" and it raised its Spiker, the twin blades on the front reflecting the hot, midday sun.
The Chief pressed the button and let it drop at his feet. Before it hit the ground he snapped up his assault rifle and put three very well-placed shots directly in the lead Brute's head. By the time the other Brutes reacted, the shield had already popped into place, deflecting the incoming fire and disorienting the mob. The Wraiths all turned and charged their primary weapon. But, because the demon was in the dead-zone of their canons, they were forced to back up to give them a favorable angle.
This bought the Chief a precious second, allowing the Pelicans' wing-mounted rockets and the Longswords' bombs time to hit their targets.
When the shield had depleted its short charge, he ran for the cover of the rise, putting the better part of a clip into a confused Brute that had the misfortune of getting in his way. Explosions rocked the earth. Shrapnel from the Wraiths mixed with dirt and blood, to create a cocktail of destruction. However, under the raised mound, the Chief was safe, and free to reload his assault rifle and pick off any stragglers that remained.
"Alright, Chief, all clear," a pilot's voice warbled over the COM. "We've got Banshees inbound and need to deal with them. You're on your own."
"Roger that," he responded. "Thanks for the help."
"Any day, Chief. Razor-1, out."
"HQ, I've breached the perimeter. Making my way to the anomaly on foot. ETA: twenty minutes."
"Good work, Chief," the General in charge commented. "Report back when you've reached the anomaly."
"Roger that, sir. Master Chief, out." It would be a long jog to the target area. Thankfully, because of the zealousness of the Covenant, they wouldn't let any unauthorized personnel, especially foot soldiers, within a kilometer of the thing. And, with the Pelicans and Longswords engaging the Banshees and Phantoms, he'll be safe from the air. Still, he wished he had his Mongoose.
The Chief finally came upon the massive anomaly after nearly a half an hour jog. The Space Elevator that had previously occupied the wasteland he had traversed had made the mountainous terrain even more difficult. The collapse of the enormous structure created a colossal depression that made the twenty or so Covenant Cruisers and Carriers stationed above it look like purple insects. The storm cloud overhead that he had seen earlier had grown darker and more menacing, the eye of which now hovered directly above the middle of the anomaly.
"HQ, this is the Master Chief: I have reached the objective." There was no reply. "HQ, come in." Static. The storm must be interfering with his radio.
He sighed and propped his MA5C across his shoulders. The Chief walked through some more wreckage and the smoke it billowed. He walked through it and reached the edge of the crater, and he finally grasped the scale of the scene in front of his eyes.
There were literally no words to describe how large this structure was. A Cruiser passed directly overhead, and, compared to the anomaly, it lost its intimidating effect. Several more Cruisers sat above the depression, barely noticeable. A thick fog that sat just above the bottom of the crater made the Chief feel as if he were in outer space looking down upon an alien planet. The other side of the crater wasn't even visible.
Two Banshees shrieked overhead and snapped him out of his trance. Lightning from the storm clouds bolted downwards and met the depression's floor, which bulged slightly in the middle. However, that "slight bulge" could be miles high for all he knew.
Suddenly, dark smoke popped out of the cracks at the center of the structure. Four radial spokes branched away from it and shot out towards its edges, as if an ancient chest was being opened for the first time in millennia. A shockwave accompanied the dust and it impacted the walls of the basin. Loose rocks around the edge crumbled, including a slab that the Chief had almost taken residence on. He took several instinctive steps backwards, but was then forced to bring his attention on the structure. Pronged triangular arms reached upwards from their original flat position, ringing around a blue core, which shined a brighter blue-white with every passing second.
The Cruisers immediately around the structure veered away at full speed, fearing for their safety.
John's visor compensated for the brightness, but it still made him squint. The light in the middle had now become its own solar system, orbited by Covenant Capital ships and radiating spokes.
With a swift grace, a lance of illumination speared upwards from the center, like a fountain of light. It then expanded, engulfing everything and blocking out the sun.
"This is the way the world ends."