Shattered Skies - Chapter 1
Posted By: Webbo227<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 15 October 2008, 6:51 pm
Sam's eyes flicked open as dawn broke through the reflective panels of glass. The computer, which he was working on, was emitting its steady glow, as it remained silent, awaiting its next inputted command. Sam yawned and positioned himself on the comfortable chair, which was already starting to fall to pieces. The Defence Structure Manager lay dormant waiting for an input to edit the default commands. Sam sighed and leant back on his seat. It had been three weeks since he enrolled for the Epsilon Alpha Defence Manager at the UNSC. During the Covenant War, he had enrolled at the finest universities on Marcrena II in hopes that one day, he could take his place onboard a frigate so he could help secure victory over the alien scum. But afterwards, there was no need for him, or any of the 20,000 students that had shared the same aspiration. Of course ships still patrolled the areas of space where Covenant resistance was strong, but there was no reason to swap out the staff that had served loyally during the hardest of times. There was also no work on any neighbouring planets, because of the mass produced robotics and the lack of computer talent needed. Sam sighed, he was lucky to have even secured this job; from what he could gather, perhaps only a hundred of the twenty thousand qualified technicians could get an occupation within the UNSC. But this wasn't what he had hoped for. The past three weeks had slowly merged into one painstakingly long day that never showed signs of stopping. No enemy resistance was ever sighted even though he was promised into a harsh and unruly environment that was mainly governed by the remnants of the Jiralhanae. As with many of the other areas the UNSC had neutralized these opposing forces, the "Brutes" remained within the solitary ruins of sandy, dry terrain.
Sam exited the computers program, and executed the video feed from the twenty cameras stationed around the dusty perimeter. The system loaded sluggishly, often stopping for moments at a time, before abruptly resuming itself. As the program attempted to establish a connection, Sam found himself wondering what his life would have been like if he was a Marine on the front lines, fighting the Covenant and destroying their suicidal plans for the entire galaxy. Sam smiled as he pictured himself as a fearless War Hero who would take on Brutes with a MA5B Assault Rifle and a handful of powerful fragmentation grenades. As he was dreaming of the life that could have been, he noticed something peculiar about the camera feed, which had now been initialised. Many of the cameras were registered with a red dot, which signified either broken or destroyed. Even though this was common due to the torrential sandstorms the planet faced, it was odd that none of the stationed soldiers, who were instantly alerted in case the enemy planned to sneak through, did not fix or replace these cameras. Sam made a mental note to speak to the commanding officer about the situation regarding this, but at this ungodly hour, he knew that disturbing the CO's hard earned sleep would have dire consequences upon himself.
Shaking the feeling away he closed the program, immediately wishing he hadn't, knowing he would have to suffer the wasted time it took to start the damn thing. He went to switch the whole unit off, when he noticed a remaining program still running. It wasn't like Sam to leave a program running while using another, as it consumed so much memory that could not be wasted. He slid the cursor across to the bar and clicked on it, waiting for it to appear on the screen. The following window showed detailed reports and complex schematics on some sort of funded project. Certain words stuck out such as, Spartan and augmentation, which led Sam to believe this could be some kind of project to help battle a war, but whether this was established before or after the war, Sam could not tell. He opened the schematics and a picture of an ODST melted onto the screen, along with a long list of coded chemicals. Sam wasn't a man chemist or a professor, and had no idea where to start looking at this. He also had no idea how he had managed to get onto the file. It was a highly restricted file, which not even the CO had access to. He frowned, wasn't happy at what he was seeing. Would this turn into another SPARTAN-II project? Even though he was thankful to their heroic deeds, the only reason they were captured at youth was to transform them into war machines. No one should have to go through that, to live life under the servitude of his or her heartless captors. The technician was confused and decided to leave the whole matter alone, maybe just delve into it with the CO to see what he knew. He hit the button on the lower end of the screen, and realized that the window did not open.
"Damn!" he thought. The window had begun to change frantically; numerical coding flashed and died as soon as they had appeared. Sam took a step backward, pushing the chair towards the cold wall. The built in speakers in the monitor began to stir.
"LEVEL 1 CLEARENCE HAS BEEN GRANTED" a cold, voice spat out, "FREELANCE O B 88 X5 SECTOR HAS BEGUN SCANNING." A short pause gave Sam time to think about what had just happened.
"1 FREELANCE REMAINS. SENDING PURGE CODES IN 5
Sam looked on with horror at what the computer was planning to do. Would the UNSC thank him for purging their highly invested project? No. They would probably sentence him with capital punishment, for destruction of valuable UNSC property. Or would it be murder? Whatever the case, Sam dashed towards the keyboard and hammered the Esc button until the computer gave a response.
PURGE CODES HAVE BEEN TERMINATED
REWRITING CODES AS RELEASE CODES
SENDING RELEASE Codfh
The monitor shook wildly as the confusion the computer was experiencing took control of it. After moments it spluttered and died, leaving Sam with a smoking wreck. Sam leapt away from the computer, afraid of what could possibly happen next. He quickly donned the protective suit that all Non-Combatants were forced to wear if going outside, and typed in the code for the reinforced to slide open.
Outside, sandstorms rolled off fallen buildings and clashed against the stone columns, abundant to the region. Without the N.C.P.D.S (Non Combatant Protective Defence Suit) Sam would surely be buried by the gale force winds and the howling sand dunes. But with the suit on, the torrential downpour of sandy rain felt like a mild drizzle. Sam was lost as soon as he got out of the door. He had been confined to the same terminal during his time here, as there was nowhere else that required his skills. However, Captain Lucas Jones was a vain person who constantly showed how impressive and superior he was compared to the recruits that came here reluctantly, meaning that he could only have commandeered the tallest, most extravagant tower in the area. Slowly, battling the winds wishes, Sam moved himself towards the titanium-plated door. He went to place his hand on the scanner situated on the doorway, when he realized it was fragmented and shards of glass littered the doorway. The door itself was undamaged, but open, which worried Sam dearly. Jones knew that people hated his arrogance and would do anything to lash out at him, in revenge or spite. Pushing the weighted metal door aside, Sam ventured inwards, unsure and scared about what he would find.
Empty. It was strange to see such a room virtually untouched. His bed had not been disturbed and the luxurious furniture was neatly in place. Sam, still cautious, looked around the room, hoping to find some clue as to the Captain's whereabouts. He had just finished searching the command room, when he heard murmuring from the first room he had entered. At a quicker pace, but still as silent as he had been, Sam peeked round the corner to see a torn corpse of a commanding officer, slung to the floor. Sam snapped his body towards the wall. Of course priority should be to help the superior, but personal survival out won Sam, if the CO was dead, then his assassin must be close by. Sam had no weaponry, he wasn't called upon to fight a battle physically, and so he reached for a shard of glass that lay scattered around a broken glass table. Captain Jones had the strangest desires when instituting a base, many Captains would look away in shame if they saw this, but at the same time would admire his strict training regimes. Sam rounded the corner, treading lightly as to not gain attention from any entity. Captain Jones was dead. His throat was slit and blood trickled ever so delicately and stained the beige rug. Murmuring echoed back once more, this time coming from the upper living areas.
Sam was reluctant to start his trek up the stairway; why not alert patrolling forces to storm the building? Because this was the only chance he would get. The unknown assailant would escape; forces would question his reasons for entering the Captain's quarters and "murdering" him, and then he would receive his capital punishment. At least this way, he could prove that there was a murderer and that he just happened to be in the right place at the right time. He shuddered as he placed a cautious step on the stair, hoping it would not alert his presence to the individual. The shard of glass was still gripped tightly in his fist, not too tight that it could penetrate the suit, but tight enough to get the most control over the jagged edge as he could.
The stairway ended and the upper rooms came into view. The base finally looked like military standard; computers dotted the walls, a simple bed was found in the corner, and the furniture was the same as regular Marines were accommodated with. However none of them rooms revealed the one thing he was truly looking for. Sam headed to the middle of the room, saw a luminous orange door, and even though his instincts told him to avoid it, curiosity was drawn towards it.
It opened up to the outside, a balcony suspended high from the ground, higher than Sam assumed he had escalated. It was beautiful out here, despite the ugly lumps of mineral that littered the entire military camp. The sun rose from the sandy hills and shone with unprecedented force over the entire weathered area. The fragmented rock flew in spirals under the gales command and fell graceful as the winds moved onwards, blowing more sand as it did so. He looked down, through the translucent material that separated Sam from gravity, and saw that the door had indeed been ripped apart by the savage airs. Then a strange feeling occurred within him, and as soon as it had come, it ended to be replaced by a blade of metal perturbing from his stomach. Agony soon kicked in, he was raised into the air and flipped over his head, metal still jammed within him. His gaze was soon thrust onto the wielder, the Captain's assassin. A helmet with an emerald visor, which shut out any the planet's sun, blocked its face. Its shoulders were curved, and were extremely blackened, unlike the rest of its armor that was coloured a silver-white. Its arms were coated with small lines that led off in different directions. The soldier, if that what it was, stared for a moment as red blood seeped from the injury it had inflicted. It then walked forward and positioned the sword, a katana, over the edge with Sam's flailing body still fixed to it. He brought the katana up and flung it downwards towards the ground.
The impact affected the suit. His visor was chipped, and a crack started to form where multitudes of particles rammed against it. He was unable to feel his arms or his toes, but the katana was still providing pain as blood squeezed from the sides of the suit and the sword and rolled of his body. The crack stretched from one side of the visor to the other, and was on the verge of cracking. Unable to move, Sam tried to shut his eyes but failing that, he relaxed his body and prepared for what he knew would come next. The soldier had also jumped from the balcony, but had landed squarely on his feet, unaffected by the freefall. He strode over to the dying man and reached for his weapon and watched as the bloodied steel slid effortlessly from the man's chest. He stared for yet another moment and walked off, no doubt to torture the remaining company. Sam took one last breath as the visor was struggling to retain its structure. The last few moments were painless. Even though the shards stuck to his face and the sand reached his insides and choked him from within, it did not register to his brain he was dying. Just emptiness as the life flowed out of him, like the crimson blood that bathed him.
At the control terminal that Sam had worked at however, things were stirring. The computer used a backup power supply to feed its components, and to change the log that Sam Edmore, last of the Epsilon Alpha outpost, was dead, just like the unaware Marines beforehand. Just as the computer returned to its dormant state, it read that a process had not been completed beforehand and resumed the half started input. Codes flashed on the screen once more, stopped, and a green tick appeared on the lower right corner.
While the cycle of the planet carried on as it had done for the last 500 millennia, 216,000 light-years away, a computer had finished receiving a complex instruction from a far off transmission. It processed the ancient directive, and machinery whined as it received an order to carry out its primary programming. The cryo-tube that was the only one that had remained closed began to move and the seal on it began to break. The lid rose gracefully, and the facility was flooded for a brief moment by a cold mist. Above the cryo-tube, a loudspeaker went off, a pre-recorded message rung out throughout the empty rooms.
"SUBJECT F-227 HAS BEEN ACTIVATED. REPEAT SUBJECT F-227 HAS BEEN ACTIVATED."
From the seemingly never-ending smoke, a figure stirred, his identity silhouetted against the grey miasma. He reached out with one hand and gripped the side of the tube and did likewise with his other hand. With some effort, he hoisted himself out of his container and looked around. A helmet was worn, which was coloured a dull steel, and written on the neck was the words, "UNSC 227". His armor was light, designed for training work around the dead training halls, and his boots were standard Marine equipment, unlike the rest of his body.
"ALL PERSONNEL ARE REMIMDED TO STAY WELL AWAY. SUBJECT WILL NOT HESITATE TO USE TRAINING AGAINST ANY PERSONNEL"
And as the speaker stopped its communication, Freelance-227 stepped forward, a smile played across his lips.