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Chapter 3: Brute Strength
Posted By: Ace<kevin_jesse2002@yahoo.com>
Date: 11 May 2003, 4:25 AM

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bah, im posting all four chapters now...just hope theres no limit or whatever on how many per day...so, in about a minute, ill post chapter 4, then get to finishing chapter 5 (halfway through it!)

Chapter 3: Brute Strength

August 23, 2555, 0959 Earth Time, Covenant Outpost

An eight-foot tall beast covered in brown hair stood atop the hulk of the Lotus mine. Its head reminded Sean of a gorilla's, with its high forehead and flat nose. But the creature's forehead looked as though its skull was popping directly through the skin. Only certain parts of it were clothed, its forearms in gauntlets, and thighs and crotch in some sort of metal battle-plate.

Unlike Elites, one could see the layers of muscle rippling beneath the skin. Strapped to its left arm was a silver gun, different from any known Covenant weapon. The bottom of the gun curved down to the beast's elbow and ended in a wicked metal claw. The monster raised the gun, fired, and dove back the way it had come before any of the Spartans got a shot off.

A clear shimmering globule spun through the air towards Sean, and he jerked out of its path. It settled to the deck slowly, like a feather, but the Chief wasn't about to let his soldiers find out what it did. "Move away from it," he barked, "now!" Every Spartan dove and rolled, scattering in different directions, when suddenly, the blob exploded.

It was almost silent, giving only a small "whumpf" sound, but a strange, clear, viscous liquid exploded over almost all the Spartans. A drop of it landed on Sean, a centimeter away from his chest, and his shield disappeared. It was simply gone. He let loose an expletive. "B team leader," he yelled into his COM, "watch out for a new alien. Eight feet tall, hairy bastards, and they've got some weapon that completely drops shields. Relay the message! And triple-time it here!"

Then, a Hunter burst from around the corner, green light indicating that it was charging its fuel rod cannon. Before Sean could yell to the Spartans to scatter, he noticed that they were all already diving into the side hallways. He quickly snapped two grenades from his belt, primed them, and rolled them towards the Hunter. It fired, hitting the wall five feet behind Sean, but he nonetheless flew forward. He landed five feet from the boot-clad feet of the Hunter.

It brought up its huge shield to smash it down on Sean's head, but just then the grenades exploded. This was the one opportunity the Chief was going to get to get away, while the Hunter was a bit disoriented. He stood, turned, and ran for his life towards the outlet where his soldiers waited. As soon as they saw him, the two rocketeers shouldered the SPNK launchers, sidestepped into the corridor, and fired, directly above and below the Hunter.

They threw their rocket launchers aside, yanked a grenade from their belts, and rolled them at the Hunters feet. It was engulfed in flames for a full twenty seconds, and the Spartans all crowded into the hall with bated breath, unshouldering their weapons. The shields of the people who had been hit with the liquid from the weapon were recharging. Slowly. Finally, the smoke began to clear. No one could see anything from within, until suddenly, a green light started to glow bright behind the smoke.

Everyone with a clear shot opened fire on the patch of the Hunter that was lit up by his weapon. Two more soldiers in back threw grenades towards him. The noise in the hall was deafening, as bullets pinged off the Hunter's shield, or found their targets in its thick skin, and grenades went off. Everyone's breath caught in their throats as the huge ball of green plasma moved, but it was instantly let out when it fired into the ceiling above the Hunter's head. Hunters didn't seem to be the most intelligent of aliens, but they also didn't misfire like that.

It could only mean that it had died. Their suspicions were all confirmed when Grunts and Jackals began to pour in, scrambling over the ruined body of the Hunter. Grunts and Jackals didn't have the status to be in the presence of living Hunters. They were stepped on. Then the Spartans reopened fire on the small aliens.

Bodies were piling up on top of the Hunter, and soon it was going so far as to hinder their movement. After about a minute of the nearly effortless blasting of the tiny creatures, B team leader's voice came over the COM, "Chief, we're near your position, and we've spotted the new alien you reported, but it seems to be almost in a trance, staring at something around a corner. It's ignoring us. Orders sir?" "Send it to hell, Jacobson." A loud "BOOM" sounded, and Sean saw the red-orange fire of a rocket licking at the heels of oncoming Grunts.

The Spartans moved in and quickly dispatched the last of the Grunts and Jackals. They immediately began to remove bodies from the considerably high pile in their path. The soldiers all turned the corner, reloading, and B team was all standing clustered near the charred but still distinguishable body of the hairy beast.

It was still clutching its weapon, which, though it had been through the fires of the rocket as well, was still gleaming silver. Sean bent to pick up the weapon, and handed it to John, who stuffed it into his ammo sack. The Spartans were under standing orders to recover any and all Covenant technology. "Sir, D, E, G, and H teams are requesting assistance in the launch bay." "Sounds like as good a place as any to center the assault," replied Sean, "We're all going."

He opened his COM to F and I teams, and ordered them to the launch bay. "Move out Spartans! Reload as you go!" He and the rest of the Spartans started to quickly march through the halls, navigating by way of a map that Tyger projected onto their HUD's. Their movement was strangely unhindered, the corridors devoid of activity. They came upon occasional dead Covenant and sparking, smoking consoles, but nothing really happened until they were about twenty meters away from the launch bay. Sean's motion tracker went crazy; the entire upper half of the circle was red.

Plasma fire, artillery fire, explosions, roars, all could be heard up ahead, the noises of warfare. The Spartans were a level above the actual launch bay. They entered the area, and looked down at the carnage. Piles upon piles of dead Covenant lay on the bottom. Elites stood all around the level that Sean and his squad was on, laying down suppressive fire on the teams below.

The Spartans in the bay itself had control of a good portion of it, but they were under heavy assault by Hunters, Elites, Grunts, and Jackals all around. The Spartans below were taking cover behind anything they could, humongous purple crates, the shields of dead Hunters, and Covenant ships. Sean ordered the two squads under his control to seize the upper level. Most of the Elites were paying attention only to the battle below, and the Spartans saved as much ammo as possible, shoving them off the edge, even aiming them towards clusters of Covenant troops with plasma grenades stuck to them.

Once the level was clear, Sean set up guards at the access points, and snipers along the rim. Danielle was amongst the snipers who stayed above. Sean tried to tell himself that it was only because she was a crack shot, but he couldn't shake the feeling that he had left her there because it was the safest place to be. He knew he wouldn't put a woman over his duty. It wasn't something that was possible for him.

But he pushed the thought out of his mind, and gathered the thirty-five Spartans left under his command. He pointed to a very large crate behind the assaulting Covenant forces, and they all leapt onto it, then straight to the ground, positioning them strategically behind a pack of Elites. At his signal, a rocketeer fired directly into their midst. The Elites flew in every direction, and the ones that had been caught in the outermost fringes of the blast rolled and immediately stood.

That's when the Spartans charged. Sean ran head-on with an Elite, knife unsheathed, and rammed it into the creature's now-unshielded throat. He let it fall to the ground still in the flesh of the writhing Elite. Unshouldering his assault rifle, he walked almost casually behind an Elite that had another Spartan cornered, and fired a sustained burst into the center of its spine. It dropped, still clutching the trigger of its plasma rifle. Sean then felt plasma rifle bursts against his back, slowly dropping his shields.

He turned and saw an Elite bearing down on him. The Chief dove for the body of the Elite with his knife in its throat, rolled over it, clutching for the weapon, and came up to his knee, directly in front of the Elite. He drove the knife into its thigh up to the hilt. It roared in pain and anger, but Sean was already standing fully. He slammed his open palm into its chest, hoping to break whatever served as the creature's sternum, and heard a satisfying crunch as the Elite flopped to the deck. He retrieved his knife, wiped it on his shielded hand, and sheathed it. They had broken through the Covenant line into the center of the bay.

He ordered a few Spartans to fan out and disrupt the Covenant lines, but the rest he took into the center with him. They all fanned out, and began to revitalize clusters of soldiers that had been fighting the longest. "Tyger, are all the Spartans here," asked Sean. "Yes," she replied, "Sean, I'm still monitoring the Covenant's internal communications, and they're mentioning brutes again. I'm pretty sure that's the name for the hairy ones."

"Then we have to fight these bastards back before they get here and start bringing down our shields." As Sean fired repressively on a group of Jackals, he noticed a large purple vehicle that he had never seen the Covenant use before. He also found that it vaguely resembled a human Warthog.

There was a driver seat and a gunner seat, but instead of the devastating three-barreled .50 mm mini-gun of the Warthog, it appeared that a Shade stationary gun had been mounted on the seat. He signaled to John, and quickly whispered his plan. John hopped into the gunner seat as Sean seated himself up front. "Tyger," he said, "if you please."
"Just grasp the control sticks," came her reply, "it's just like most Covenant vehicles. She'll take off after that."

Slik 'Neoloop nearly panicked when he saw the primates enter the Shadow. The Exalted had ordered that any equipment the primates touched was to be immediately vaporized. This order was not open to debate, but on the battlefield, some things were simply not possible.

The Elite slinked back towards the rear of the Covenant line, his active camo generator giving the air around him a shimmering quality. He leapt atop a large crate, laid himself flat upon it, and shimmied to the edge to get a good view of the battlefield. His was a job that many lowly Elites were given, one without much honor. He was an observer, an 'Ossoona, one of three on board the outpost at present.

He had three cameras attached to his helmet, gathering every bit of information they could gather. It was all sent directly to the Prophets on the Covenant homeworld. They had ordered that a quota of observers be left on every ship and outpost, to obtain information on human troop behavior and tactics. As he lay as out of the way as he could get, he pondered the vermin who had dared to attack his race.

That they had not only believed themselves sentient enough to name their own race, humans, but also to give the various Covenant species names, proved their arrogance. The twelve-foot-tall, blue and orange behemoths with the battle-shields, which were rightfully named the Indestructibles, they had dubbed "Hunters".

The Viles, the meter-tall Covenant methane-sucking cannon fodder, they had given the name "Grunts". The other meter-tall, but less sickening, bird-like creatures called the Tenacious, with their rough, scaly blue-red skin, that carried personal energy shields, the humans had named "Jackals". And then there was 'Neoloop's own race, the blue-skinned, seven-foot tall, shielded creatures with up-sloped head, that had always been the most intelligent military commanders, the Domination, which the primates called "Elites".

It was disgusting how they believed they had such rights. Only the Exalted, the Prophets could name species. There were, however, a select few humans that had ever earned 'Neoloop's respect. Of the three hundred fighting in the launch bay, if Covenant ship records could be believed, two hundred fifty-nine had caused the deaths of at least a thousand Covenant troops each.

'Neoloop knew that they would win this battle, and would gain control of the entire outpost, but nothing could be done. Observers were strictly forbidden to fight the primates. He sighed as the two animals hijacked the Shadow and began running rampant, killing his brethren by the dozen, and went back to concentrating on not getting hit by any stray bullets.

Sean and John were having a disproportionate amount of fun in their new toy. It was fast enough for them to dodge Hunters' fuel rod bursts, and the extraordinary rear-mounted gun was able to mow down Elites with only a few shots. It was also almost laughable that he could not run down Grunts in the vehicle, as it hovered just slightly too high.

But on the opposite side of the launch bay, things were not going as well. Zack Estevao had seen the huge hairy beast alone, unguarded. When he charged toward it, it turned and fired the same clear globule at him, but it landed five feet from him. When it exploded, the liquid was only in proximity to him. His shields completely fizzled out, and the Brute charged for him.

It cocked its elbow back to swing at him with the razor-sharp claw, but Zack dodged. He threw a punch at the Brute's face, hitting it almost full force. But it jerked a bit, and he caught it half in the face and half in the bony forehead. He expected the bone to shatter. The Brute, however, seemed nearly unfazed, and immediately returned with a blow of its own, hitting Zack in his stomach. He stumbled backwards two steps, and then decided he was tired of the melee battle.

He unholstered his pistol quickly and fired three rounds into the Brute's chest. It roared and charged him again, while he fired two more bullets, which both found their target. The Brute ran into him full force, knocking him onto his back, but Zack had been trained for such maneuvers. As he fell, he grasped the creature's hands in his, planted his feet into its abdomen, and moved with the momentum of the shove. As the Brute flipped headfirst into the floor, he acted as a counter weight to pull up Zack, who ended up standing on top of the beast's solar plexus. He moved his boot forward, over the Brute's unprotected face, and slammed it down with all his might.

The Covenant vehicle suddenly exploded from underneath. Sean and John were thrown ten feet away. Damn, thought Sean, an Elite must have stuck a plasma grenade on the underside. He exchanged glances with John and said, "Fun while it lasted, eh?"
"You know it," replied John, "but with the way you drive I couldn't hit much." Suddenly, Tyger's voice piped into his ear, "Chief, the Covenant vessels have been destroyed, they're sending Pelicans and Longswords for clean-up."

"Roger that."
Sean stifled his feeling of relief, for this last stretch was usually the most dangerous, when most of the Spartans had to turn their backs on the Covenant forces to board the Pelicans, while the Longswords devastated the rest of them with their terrible chain-guns. He glanced outside the force fields of the bay and saw four Pelicans looming outside, slowly backing up to put their aft hatches into the bay.

Just above them were five Longswords, doing almost the same thing, edging in just enough so that their guns had free range of motion. Looking back to the battle, he found that one gold-suited Elite had formed a Brute and a Hunter up to pull something. The Pelicans were in now, and Sean ordered all the Spartan to retreat into them. Everyone from the upper level jumped down in the quickest way they could and ran full-sprint for the ships. Then the Brute fired.

Zack Estevao summed up exactly what would happen the moment he saw the Brute and Hunter forming up. When the Brute fired, he didn't think, only leapt. The other Spartans were scattering away because they knew what the globule of liquid could do. But Zack knew they wouldn't clear it fast enough. He dove in front of the clear ball, it smacked into his chest. Even as it hit him, the over-eager Hunter fired a fully charged fuel rod cannon burst.

Zack only slammed into the ground and completely covered the ball. It exploded soundlessly underneath him, and his shield was gone, but only his. Time seemed to slow for him personally as the huge green light filled his vision completely. It's going to be a direct hit, he thought. Moments later, there was pain, and then nothing.

Master Chief Sean Hawke watched in horror as the fuel rod cannon burst hit CPO Estevao. After a brief flash of light, he was looking at the blackened body of a fellow Spartan. As everyone else flooded into the Pelican ship, Sean ran for the body. He can still make it, he told himself. He's a Spartan.

He hefted the body onto his shoulders and ran into the Pelican. "Seal the hatch," he yelled to the pilot, "everyone's in!" The aft hatch closed and the ship blew out into space. He opened a COM to the Longsword pilots, said, "Do it." Rockets fired, instantly turning the entire bay into a kiln. Then the air inside was peppered with chain-gun fire until the barrels clicked. "Burn us back to the ship," he told the pilot, and double-time it!"

He ran into the back of the Pelican, and dropped to his knees next to Estevao's body. He struggled for a second, and then pulled off his fallen comrade's helmet. The sight that met his eyes was one he had always thought impossible. Charred skin, crisp and steaming. Spartan's didn't die like that. He lifted Zack's torso and hugged it to himself. He cried inside his helmet, and no one said anything to him for the rest of the way back to the Phoenix.