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Stories of a Soundtrack -- Part 2
Posted By: The Meep<HaloFanatic101@yahoo.com>
Date: 14 December 2006, 10:58 pm

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Stories of a Soundtrack: Part 2

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Name: Gery Young Faj
Age: 15
Location: Unknown
Occupation: Unknown
Place of Residence: Unknown
DOB: June 30th, 2537 (SAC)
POB: Fu City, Nib Ki Colony, Lost System
Current Status: Unknown.
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Brothers in Arms

Unknown Star System, UNSC Pillar of Autumn, Near Stairway ALPHA-ZETA, Condition: Combat

      Blackness surrounded him. His senses registered nothing. He felt no pain, heard no noise, and saw no light. He was not sure where he was, or who he was. He had no idea how he got into this black void.

      A sudden flash, then his senses quickly returned. A man, one in scarred battle armor, bent down over him and yelled. The sounds didn't make sense at first, but he quickly recognized them. "Paul! McCrathy! Get your fat ass up!" Then the blackness swallowed him again. This time though, he was aware of his surroundings. He remembered his name, Paul McCrathy, and he could hear the noises around him. Sharp cracks, like metal on stone, sounded through mind. Hissing like water on a hot surface also came.

      Gunshots. Plasma Bolts. The memories rushed back. He remembered he was a Marine, he was on a large cruiser, and was fighting an enemy. Which one he didn't know. At the moment, the only enemy he faced was the void.

      Another flash erupted around him, and his senses rushed back, this time with a burst of pain. The same man was over him, firing an Assault Rifle at an unseen target. "Covenant, circling the left Corridor! Feliz, Dennis, cut them off at the intra!" The man was now recognized by Paul: Sergeant Degrado Forde was the man he had followed into combat against the, Paul struggled to remember, the Covenant.

      Panic swept over him. He remembered now the opening battle, where they lost Florez and Sund. Then the chase through the corridors, struggling to stay ahead of the closing boarding doors. Then the ambush, and the flash, and then the darkness.

      Paul, with great effort, forced himself to sit up. Suddenly, the fog was lifted, and he knew everything. He looked around, trying to push the lancing pain in his head and legs into the back of his mind, and stood up. A plasma bolt skimmed by him, singing his helmet. Paul ducked down, hiding behind the table being used by Forde.

      "About damn time. You were out for a full two minutes! We were about to move on, with your tags," said Forde.

      Paul tried to say sorry, tried to say something with his lax mouth, but he never got a chance. The Sergeant thrust a Plasma Rifle into Paul's hands. "Grip Alien, McCrathy!"

      Paul crouched there, behind the table nearly melted with plasma, and looked at the alien weapon. "GIVE ME SOME DAMN COVER PAUL!" screamed Forde.

      Paul snapped out of his reverie, found the trigger pad on the Rifle, and prepared to fight.

      Five minutes. Jesus, it only took five minutes, thought Paul as he sat in a dark corridor, out of breath and near shock. Five minutes and they're dead.

      Over the past five minutes, Paul's squad, under the command of the wounded Sergeant Forde, had pushed through the mammoth ship's belly towards the lifeboats. They had minimal casualties until they reached a dark corridor, shorted out from a stray Plasma bolt. Inside, an ambush was sprung and Gavels was down. The squad managed to push off the assault, but the last Covenant, a Jackal, had flung a grenade right on Forde. He hadn't noticed it, and never would for the explosion killed him and the last two Marines, Dennis and Feliz. Paul had killed the Jackal, but it was too late. His squad was still dead, and he knew nothing would ever change that.

      Another minute passed. Sounds of a distant battle could still be heard as the Humans and Covenant grappled for control of the ship. Paul placed his hand on the wall and pushed himself up. He stood, looked around the dim corridor at the bloody butchery, and stumbled out of the hellhole.

      He managed to walk out into a large brightly lit hallway. The walls were blank, and the floor devoid of anything. No combat had touched this area. A sign on the floor pointed in the direction of the lifeboats, and Paul headed right for it.

      I have to get to one of the lifeboats, thought Paul. Maybe hook up wi

      "All onboard Personnel," a disembodied voice said over the ship wide COM. "Prepare for emergency landing." To Paul, it sounded like she might say more, but he only heard static. He was confused. How could they be making an emergency landing if they were out in the middle of nowhere? Paul inquired his BAD (Battle Awareness Display) as to the [Pillar of Autumn]'s location. A moment later a map of a small star system popped up, accompanied with an artificial voice.

      "The location of the Halcyon Class Cruiser in question is in an unexplored star system outside of UNSC boundaries. No habitable planets in-system." The map zoomed in to a small section of space near a large gas giant. "Precise location is near Gas Giant 'Threshold' on a collision course with an unidentified alien construct. The construct is—"

      The voice was abruptly cut off as the [Pillar of Autumn] suddenly decelerated, flinging Paul rudely against the wall. The built in lights flickered and the deck fluctuated. Paul, suffering no major injury, quickly rose to his feet and gripped a handhold. The deck continued buck underneath his feet.

      The voice on his BAD came on again. "Warning, Warning. Your location is undergoing atmospheric re-entry onboard the [Pillar of Autumn]. Current coordinates indicate collision with alien contract within thirty seconds. Advisory! Find secure location immediately! Suggest compartment with strong walls and supports. Impact will compromise superstructure and will most likely be fatal."

      Paul reacted instantly. He half ran, half crawled across the deck and down the hallway. The tremors were becoming more violent and the walls started to buckle. It grew noticeably warmer. He was having trouble even standing on the floor, let alone running on it.

      Paul reached an intersection littered with Covenant bodies. A couple of Naval Techs were floundering on the floor among the bodies, trying to stand up on the heaving deck, but unable to reach any handholds. Paul passed them and reached another intersection.

      The BAD voice started a countdown. "25, 24, 23, 22…" Paul didn't need to be told what it was counting down to.

      At "20", Paul noticed a slant in the floor as the ship started pointing downward and outside gravity began pulling on it.

      At "15", Paul was sliding down the twenty five degree slope more than he was running. He slid into the bottom of the hallway, his legs slamming against the wall. Something in his right knee popped and a lancing pain shot through his right leg. Despite the obviously torn meniscus, Paul spotted a doorway into a cryo chamber and jumped through.

      At "6", a sonic boom rippled through the ship as the Pillar of Autumn's speed dropped below the sound barrier. The lights went out, and the groaning of the ship's stressed hull seemed to drown out all other noise. Paul ripped the crucifix from his neck and gripped it between his hands and prayed.

      At "0", a huge shock wave blasted through the ship and Paul was thrown into the air. He hung there for a moment as the large cruiser bounced, and then was heavily smashed against the far wall, as the ship landed again. A loud screeching of tearing metal resounded through the cryo bay and the roar grew louder. Something crashed and Paul felt, for the second time that hour, something smash into his head. Paul's grip on the crucifix relaxed and it was lost in the chaos of collapsing metal.

      Drip, drip, drip… That was the first thing Paul heard when he opened his eyes. Or at least he thought they were open; he couldn't see anything. He made no effort to move any part of his body; he was too afraid it might not react. It wasn't that he was afraid that he was dead. The dripping, the pain, and the urge to pee were all red flags that his body and mind were still connected.

      Almost immediately, Paul slid into unconsciousness before waking up again after a few minutes. Every time he woke up, something new seemed to hurt. First, he got a headache. Then his torn meniscus began to throb. After that, he felt something wet and realized he had peed in his sleep.

      Finally, after waking up for what he felt the hundredth time, he realized the dripping had stopped. He still hurt, his pants were still wet, and he was thirsty, so he wasn't dead. Paul was convinced he was stuck in limbo, a place where you can feel and hear, but not see or move.

      Suddenly a light, muffled scraping reached his ears, followed by a light pattering. The pattering slowly grew louder, until it was replaced by a crunching, accompanied by high pitched squeaks. Paul instantly realized what it was: a Grunt. And unless the Covenant had decided to move to Limbo, he was still alive.

      His mind started racing, and for the first time in hours, he moved his arms, testing their range of motion. His left arm was completely pinned and, except for his fingers, couldn't be moved. His right arm, however, was completely free, and could be moved liberally in a full upward arc. When he tried to feel the debris above him that was blocking the light, He felt nothing, bringing him to the conclusion a wall or support beam must be holding the debris at least three feet above him.

      His legs, Paul soon found out, were actually hanging over the edge of something, knees bent at the edge. They could be straightened out, but could not go down all the way without banging a smooth slope. His right leg moved sluggishly, and hurt whenever he bent it. His left leg, aside from a two-inch scrape, was fine. Paul desperately wished he had some light so he could at least see his legs and not accidentally touch a live wire.

      The whole time, the Grunt's noises had steadily been getting louder. A stifled hissing and sparking could be heard now, and Paul realized the Grunt was using plasma to burn through the debris. He tested his legs one more time, then curled them up, hoping for enough clearance for his knees. They moved freely, only brushing by some loose hanging cables. The pain in his right knee grew worse with every centimeter they moved upward. Finally, the heels gripped the edge of the object he was lying on.

      Using the grip of his boots, he pushed himself back along the surface, biting his boom mike to keep from yelling out in pain. After a few seconds, his helmet, which had remained strapped to his head during the crash, bumped into something solid.

      Without warning, bright light burst through the debris and lit up the interior of the rubble cavern. Heat washed over Paul, even as he held up his arm to shield from the sudden light. The heat subsided, as did the brightness. After a few seconds, Paul moved his right arm down, and looked up through the hole. The rims of the puncture were glowing red from the plasma that burned through it. The hole itself was about three feet wide, mostly likely caused by an overcharged plasma pistol.

      Nothing was beyond it, except for some charred walls and a couple of loose cables. Knowing the Grunt would come to look inside of the hole, Paul took in his surroundings and summed up his options. He was lying on top of a cryo tube, his left arm pinned by a second tube. Above him was a partially caved in wall that had kept the rest of the rubble from crushing him. Some cables hung down from ports in the walls.

      As his eyes adjusted, he realized there was a metal railing protruding right from the middle of his cryo tube, mere inches from his right leg. Another few inches up, and it would have impaled him right through the abdomen after the crash. He gripped the railing with his right hand and yanked. It slid out without so much as a hint of resistance.

      Paul was in the process of wedging it under the second cryo tube pinning his arm to use as a lever when a loud snorting squeal pierced his ears. His head snapped to the right and looked up into the glazed eyes of a Grunt, peering through the hole. The Grunt stood there for a moment and then let out a high pitched gurgle, followed by more squealing. It turned and disappeared, the crunching of rubble giving away its panicked run.

      Paul thanked God that the Grunt had chickened out instead of shooting, he turned back to wedging the pole under the cryo tube, rethinking his choices. Either the Grunt was a survivor of the crash, or the Covenant had already found the downed Autumn. If the Grunt was a survivor, he might return, and this time he would shoot. If the Covenant had found the [Autumn], the Grunt would return with a couple of Jackals, or maybe an Elite. Neither possibility looked promising, but both had a chance of survival if he could get out of the debris pile.

      The pole caught and he gripped it. He felt something sticky on the end of the shaft and pulled his hand away to see blood. It wasn't his blood, it was too cold. A sudden thought and he looked down into the cryo tube and then stifled a yell. Inside of the tube was a man, naked, with a large hole between his eyes, obviously where he pulled the pole from. The revulsion turned into bile pushing up his throat. He quietly threw up onto the top of the tube.

      After a few seconds, Paul recovered and, careful not to touch the end of the post, began pulling it downward, unable to stand because of his arm. Goddamn heavy tube, he thought. After a moment of straining, he let his right arm rest and then took up the fight once again. He pulled harder this time, hoping to get away from the body as soon as possible. Something popped and the tube budged slightly. He pulled even harder, and the pressure from his arm lifted. He quickly yanked it out, ignoring the pain from the idle muscles.

      No sooner had he pulled it out then the pole snapped and the tube fell back into its position. He shook his left arm vigorously, trying to get the circulation going again. The tips of his fingers were showing signs of necrosis, and his veins burned with fire as the blood returned. Then, the silence was broken by an odd clicking. Paul recognized it immediately: the hoofs of an armored Elite.

      He looked around, looking for a way to escape. He couldn't go through the hole, it would take too long and he would be out in the open with God knows how many Covenant. He couldn't go in the opening his legs were hanging through since it was too small and there were probably live wires down there. The only place was off to the side, in as much shadow as he could find.

      One side beckoned in particular: it offered a deep shadow that could hide his whole body, and was completely out of view of the hole. He scurried into the shadow, pushing himself as far back as possible. A round protrusion, another cryo pod, poked him uncomfortably in the back.

      The clicking stopped, and the light darkened. An Elite's hand gripped the side of the hole, now cool, and it's head followed. It was so close that Paul could smell it's breath, a cold metallic sort of smell. A brief few seconds passed as the Elite gazed around the dark interior of the hole, but it felt like a lifetime to Paul.

      Finally, it withdrew. A few angry growls and frightened grunts could be heard. Paul's translation software kicked in, displaying the message across his BAD. "Curses a Thousand You, Grunt Pitiful! Dead Human, none but, Therein. Grunt Cowardly, Move Kill or I Will!" The dialogue came fractured and staggered as the software struggled to make sense of the Covenant dialect. But it made enough sense to Paul. The dead man in the cryo tube had saved his life. The Covenant had mistaken the unknown man for Paul.

      Some more squealing and a [thump] followed, after which the Grunt's snivels stopped. Paul listened as the Elite's hooves receded from the room, until all was silent, yet again. He reached up to the hole and, after patting the rim to check the heat, gripped the edge. He froze, half expecting his hand to melt under a plasma burst. Nothing came. Slowly, he pulled himself up until he was standing on top of the cryo tube, his head just barely poking out of the rupture.

      He looked around, expecting to spot some sort of Covenant sentry, but saw none. He pulled himself up till he was on his toes, and jumped and pulled at the same time. His knee popped from the pressure, and the pain there fired up anew. He gritted his teeth, ignoring it, and pulled. Finally, after what seemed ages, he fell out of the hole and slid down the slight incline of the collapsed wall to the floor.

      Coming to a sudden stop that bruised his tailbone on the cracked deck, Paul stood up, rubbing his lower back. He reveled in the open, well lit space, free of the dead. Paul stretched and bended, loosening his muscles and relieving the cramps.

      After answering the call of nature in a corner of the room, he examined the cryo bay. Paul noticed two things in particular: first, the light was natural, not artificial. Its origin appeared to be a large gash in the side of the room, as if the hull had cracked open upon landing. The second thing was that everything was black. The walls, the visible cryo tubes, the large wall he had been trapped under, everything. After a moment of thought, Paul realized what it was: ash.

      When the hull cracked, the aura of fire around the Pillar of Autumn rushed into and engulfed the room, leaving everything coated in ash. Paul, in an ironic twist of fate, had been saved by his prison.

      After thoroughly examining the room and finding no weapons, Paul decided he had to get out of the ship and radio in any survivors that had landed on the ring, if there were any. As far as he knew, he could be the last living Human from the Pillar of Autumn. Paul tried to climb through the slash in the wall, but it was too high.

      Damnit, Paul thought. I'm going to have to fight my way out. He made his way to the only intact door in the room, a small, half caved in doorway. He poked his head through the portal and pulled back in. There had been no Covenant in the blackened hallway. He slowly inched his way through the door, trying to not injure himself further by tripping. Finally he was over the pile of rubble and standing in the middle of a wide corridor.

      With a laugh, Paul realized this was the same hallway he had scurried along during the crash. It seemed so harmless now, but back then, it was a death trap. He brought up his BAD and queried for schematics of the ship.
There was no response. He repeated the question. Still no response. "Damnit," he swore. Goddamn crash must've took it out."

      Paul, without having any sense of direction, decided to progress down the hallway to the right, where the deck wasn't as burned. As he walked, tiny puffs of ash flew up around his boots, and then settled back down. Paul knew he was probably walking the line towards hell; there was no way he could leave the ship if it had already been found by the Covenant. But he had to try.

      Suddenly, he heard a scraping sound, followed by a thump. He looked down and realized he had kicked a Plasma Rifle into a small pile of debris, leaving a small path of clear deck behind it. He picked it up and put his hand near the coils. They were warm. Paul was about to test it out on a wall to be sure when fire exploded around him. He immediately dropped to the deck, hiding behind the debris pile, clutching the Plasma Rifle.

      The plasma stopped, and the screeching of Jackals commenced. Translation software popped up on his BAD screen, but he ignored it. Only one thought echoed through his mind as he stood and pointed the rifle at the two grotesque Jackals: Grip Alien, McCrathy.

      Two hours later, Lieutenant McKay was at a recently captured intersection aboard the Pillar of Autumn. Her ears were still ringing from the MA5B Assault Rifles that were used to clear the area of Covenant. Her radio beeped and she let her BAD access it. Wesley's voice came over.

      "Uh, Lieutenant, you might want to know we just picked up a Marine at Intersection KAPPA-4."

      "Yeah," McKay said around a mouthful of jerky she had found in a bunkroom. "What 'bout it?"

      "I thought it would be nice to inform you," the AI replied in a stiff tone, "that the Marine was not of the attack force."

      "I don't see what you're getting at," the Lieutenant replied, putting more of the meat in her mouth.

      "He survived the crash landing of the Pillar of Autumn, fought his way out of a hull side compartment, and managed to hook up with us."

      "Survived the crash?" McKay said, obviously surprised. "And then fought his way out? Hell, that's one tough son of a bitch. You get his name?"

      "Yes, as a matter of fact I did," said Wesley with a pompous tone accenting his voice. "His name is Geoff K. Spick, a Private First Class."

      "Wow, remind me to get him a medal once we get off this ring. Getting through that alone deserves a Frude Cross," McKay said, swallowing the jerky.

      "Well, he didn't do it alone. He claims that he had hooked up with another Marine, a Corporal Paul P. McCrathy. He got hit in a firefight, died before Geoff could do anything. His BV backs it up," explained Wesley.

      "Well, make damn sure you retrieve his body. That's the least we can do," ordered McKay.

      "Yes Ma'am. Geoff also said that in the two hours he had fought with McCrathy, they had, quote en quote, 'Become brothers, and he should get everything I get.' Strangely enough, what he said is a passage from a favorite book of mine, Brothers in Arms."

      "Ya, ya, ya, Wesley, I don't care what books you've read, or absorbed, or wuteva the hell AI's do with books. Just make sure both Marines are flown to Alpha Base, ASAP."

      "Yes, Ma'am," Wesley replied in a hurt tone.
McKay cut the channel and made a mental note to get both Geoff and McCrathy every medal they deserved.

Enough Dead Heroes

Through trials and tests,
They have fought.

Many men, struggling to survive,
Striving to protect,
The very soul of Humanity.

Many have died,
Many more will,
All at the hand of the religious fervor,
An intense zealotry,
A multitude of fierce beliefs,
A disposition of iron faith.

Whether fleeing, fighting, hiding,
All were cut down,
Some without remorse,
Others out of anger,
And even more for the sake of violence.

People flee from the Juggernaut,
Few escape.

But, there are the chosen few,
The ones who have the ability to fight,
Without fear,
Without selfishness.

They are the ones assigned,
The most difficult of jobs,
To protect,
To die,
For Humanity.

These are our heroes,
The warriors on the front lines,
Doing the things we cannot.

They are our Guardian Angels,
Saving us from the demons and devils,
Giving their blood to satisfy the Juggernaut's thirst.

Some go unsung,
Others give in glory,
All are heroes.

But too many are gone,
Too many have given their lives to protect us,
Fallen in saving Humanity's soul.

Too many are gone,
Too few remain.

Humanity's stores are running low,
In it's struggle for life.

But the odds are not good,
Humanity is looking at its last few survivors.

And they all cry out,
As one voice in unison,
Enough Dead Heroes!

      Next week, Perilous Journey, the story of two civilians caught in the hellfire onboard Malta Station during the First Invasion of Earth.

      Also, A Walk in the Woods, the documentation concerning the Skirmish of Murnil Forest, a minor fight that irreversibly changed the fate of the Yeng System.