Chapter 7: Defeat and Capture
Posted By: Ace<email@example.com>
Date: 19 October 2003, 5:47 AM
Guys, sorry I forgot to paragraph the last chap. Anyway, I hope you still read it.
Chapter 7: Defeat and Capture
Two hundred ninety-nine Spartans approached the large silver building in the middle of the dusty landscape. Sand blew in waves, and any normal human being would have been knocked over by the sheer volume of the grainy tsunamis.
But every Spartan walked towards the building with ease, weapons raised, eyes and ears open for any sound, anything out of the ordinary. Inside the building, there was only one very dimly lit room, huge, with two floors. Against the far back wall, a slight shimmer marked the spot where Ziko 'Zamammee stood, pressed all the way back, unmoving. In this light, even a Spartan might not notice him.
He had a transmitter in his left eye, showing him exactly what the 'Ossoona was seeing, and a transmitter in his ear, letting him hear exactly what the 'Ossoona was hearing. He cursed in his mind when he saw that the leader was planning to take in only half the number of armored humans. But Ziko knew that if he could take out a whole half of their force, including the leader, the Prophet Council would do anything but execute him. Suddenly the goal of becoming Supreme Commander seemed more than just the grandiose dreams of an insignificant Elite.
The current Supreme Commander had been losing the battles recently, and Ziko was going to take out half of the mightiest warriors in the Human army. Suddenly, the idea of being Supreme Commander seemed so much more real. The large metal door of the building screeched open, and for a moment Ziko saw only the impressive silhouette of the armored humans' leader. He took two steps inside, and a small light on his shoulder automatically came on, allowing him to see. More humans came streaming in behind him, taking up positions in the corners. Ziko had never seen the Human look around, but he motioned upward to the top level, and a small contingent of Humans scrabbled up the columns onto the second level.
"Search for doors," he called aloud to his soldiers. Everywhere, armored Humans spread along the walls, feeling for the tiniest of cracks, anywhere that might lead to another room. The soldiers reached the corners to the wall Ziko stood against, and he decided it was the time to unleash his plan. He palmed the button on a small remote in his hand, just as a soldier from the top level called out, "Sir, there are doors all along the wall up here! Any of them could lead to a room with a Prophet in it." But moments later, a slight whooshing sound marked the opening of every door on the upper level, and Ziko smiled to himself.
In space above the planet, aboard the Orca, Admiral Jason Jones thought proudly to himself that the Human race had done it again. Thirteen Human ships remained at ninety percent or above battle readiness. Only one Covenant ship was left with any battle readiness at all. The bastard was putting up a helluva fight, but the thirteen Human ships surrounding it were too much even for them to handle.
After four MAC rounds simultaneously burned through space, directly impacting with her hull, she was put down. Jones opened a comm to every ship that could handle it, and congratulated them all. He ordered any ships that were not battle-ready to touch down on-planet. After he closed communications with them, he opened a new channel to Reach II. He asked for any ships that could fly and fight to relocate to the new planet, along with cradles, the enormous space docks for refit and repair of battleships. In the end, fourteen frigates, seven destroyers, and one cruiser were sent their way, along with three cradles.
It had been a good victory, and when Jones found out later that the Covenant really had outnumbered the Human fleet by two, it became an even better victory. Jones just didn't understand what had been happening lately with the Covenant. He didn't know what it was like for the ground-pounders, but up in space, it seemed the Covies had lost some of their zeal. Their usually undying fanatacism had become lax of late.
The ONI brass had their theories, and being an admiral, Jones was privy to some of them. A war with another race, a civil war, a change of government, a plague or epidemic. One scientist had even suggested that they were perhaps in a type of cycle, in which they would wage war for a period, and then become sluggish. He had been pretty credible too, pointing to multiple times in history when genes or drugs had caused animals or even people to go into cycles like this. But the brass had been pretty quick to shoot that one down. ONI probably didn't like the idea, because it wasn't their own.
But meanwhile, Jones had to deal with the situation on the ground. The Covies on the ground seemed to be putting up a much tougher fight than they did in orbit. Reports said that the Spartans were MIA, and the Marines were barely holding up. The damned Spartans had gone off on some mission, and the Marines only knew it involved orders from the ONI. As always. The Admiral turned to the comm. system, and started trying to sort it all out.
The doors opened on a monster of nightmares. Bright green lights temporarily blinded every Spartan on the top level. Hunters were framed in every doorway. With the quickness and instinct that comes with years of training, everyone on the top level immediately dove out of the way of the fuel rod bursts, whether it was onto the floor below, or just to the side, none of them were in the way of the blasts. However, the Hunters did not pour out of the doors after them, but simply walked to the edge of the elevated platform. In unison, fifty Hunters aimed their arms downward, and fired.
But the majority of the Spartans had reacted with the same lightning-speed the others had, and were out of the center of the room. A few stifled cries came from the center, and Master Chief Sean Hawke saw three charred bodies already. He felt a brief stab of pain, and then forty scarlet-clad Elites leapt from the upper level, plasma rifles blazing. Within seconds, the Spartans had formed small, staggered firing groups.
Sean opened a comm while laying down sustained bursts of armor-piercing rounds on the Elites, and yelled, "Blue team, it's a trap! We need immediate support inside!" "Sir," yelled back CPO Adamson, "we got Covies out here too! Twenty Ghosts, twenty Banshees, and ten of those new vehicles we encountered in the outpost. We're doing OK with them so far." "Dammit," replied Sean, "we're already taking casualties! MC out!"
Outside, the rocket jockeys were taking care of the vehicles pretty well. John Adamson had ordered the group into a staggered infantry formation, so that the Banshees couldn't take out large clusters of them with their fuel rod cannons. Most of the Banshees had been taken out already, and Danielle and another private had managed to hijack one of the Shadows, and were running amok in it. The Ghosts were circling the Spartans clockwise, but since their guns were fixed, they had to turn inward in order to get a shot.
As a result, run-ins were occurring frequently. The smoldering wreckage of a five-Ghost pileup lay smoking fifteen feet away from John. Still, twelve Ghosts were circling, along with three more Shadows. Two Banshees remained in the sky, and though both were smoking, they still made strafing runs. John raised his pistol, hit the 2X scope, and fired three times at the nearest Banshee, causing it to explode. The wreckage fell quickly to the ground, smashing a Ghost, and immediately causing three more to pileup.
Finally, the last Banshee turned in the air, and began to fly way as quickly as possible, trailing smoke. It seemed the rest of the vehicles took this as their sign, and the Ghosts turned tail. The Spartans fired madly as a parting shot, trying to take down as many of the bastards as they could. John felt a bit of triumph when a plasma grenade, in a lucky throw, fused itself to an Elite's helmet. They were treated to a final show as the Elite struggled to rip off its helmet, and the Ghost plowed into a rock at the same time as the grenade exploded.
Slik 'Neoloop just barely had time to dive to the ground as he saw the out-of-control vehicle hammering towards the rock he was standing next to. He felt the intense heat of the blast, and the remains of the Ghost fell onto his foot, catching him there. If the humans came over to investigate now, he would be done for, and he knew it. He held his breath until he realized that one of the armored humans was ordering the rest to prepare to go inside the building.
Slik waited until they were all in the building for a full ten seconds before shimmying form underneath the Ghost, and creeping up to the door and entering. The sight that met his eyes horrified him. The armored humans had been surprised by fifty Indestructibles and forty scarlet-clad Domination, and still there were at least two hundred of them left. Slik counted seven Domination bodies on the floor, their luminescent blue blood spattered everywhere. Although many human bodies littered the floor, Slik was amazed at the sheer power these humans encompassed. None of the Indestructibles had been harmed, but the humans had spread out for the least possible risk of being taken out in large clumps.
Many of Slik's brethren were being herded into small groups, where the humans were concentrating their fire. He was avoiding these areas in order to escape certain death. The Elite made his way across the room to the wall where Ziko 'Zamammee was standing. He had long ago taken the viewer system out of his eye in order to see his great triumph, and thrown it to the side. He was completely unaware of Slik's presence, and Slik did not mind it that way.
The scent in the room was overpowering, the heat unbearable, the noise deafening, but Ziko could not have enjoyed any moment in his life more than the experience he was in right now. He stood absolutely motionless, paralyzed with pleasure, not noticing any of the flaws the 'Ossoona had seen. At that point, Ziko knew beyond any shadow of a doubt that he would be promoted to Supreme Commander.
He was imagining what his life would be like with all the privileges that came with being the Supreme Commander: he would be allowed two more mates than the usual one, he would have the finest meats available to eat, he would be allowed special access to some of the Prophet Councils' highest meetings, and he would be allowed to specially train forces of Domination to his liking. A few moments later, however, he noticed the Humans edging towards the door. One by one, they were slipping from his grasp, every one of them that escaped would mean one less victory.
The Humans barely heard the warbled orders to the Hunters to concentrate their fire on the door. By that time, there were less than one hundred armored Human-beasts still inside. Ziko roared in anger, and the Human leader whirled around and looked directly at him. Sean saw the strange swirling effect in the air, and Tyger recognized it as the distinct signature of an Elite active camo generator.
Ziko watched as the Human paused, and seemed to be listening to something, before it ran directly at him. Sean lashed out with the butt of his shotgun, snapping an Elite's neck. Tyger had told him that the Elite that had chosen to remain invisible was probably behind the trap, and would make a valuable prisoner. So he did what he was trained to do. Suddenly, a bright blue light appeared in the hand of the invisible Elite, and Sean recognized it as a plasma sword. Expecting the Elite to run straight at him, Sean leveled his shotgun, but it dove and rolled onto the ground. It stopped at a hatch on the floor, which was sealed with a large metal lock. With a swipe of the sword, the lock was gone, and the Elite jumped into the hatch.
Sean stopped, wondering what to do. The Hunters above were firing at the door, but by timing it right, the Spartans were leaping outside in ones, twos, and threes. The Elites in the room were chasing them out into daylight, but three of them noticed Sean. Roaring a war cry, they ran at him, plasma rifles raised. Sean fired his shotgun twice before they reached him, and one of their shields was down.
Sean unholstered his knife and rammed it into the Elite's forehead, but the other two tackled him. They fell directly onto the hatch door, and their combined weight caved it in. Sean quickly grabbed hold of one Elite and flipped it under himself. He landed with his feet planted in its abdomen, and it was crushed down the middle. He spun to face the last Elite, who was unshielded from the twenty-foot fall, and lying on the ground. He pressed the shotgun to its forehead, and ended its life.
Then Sean took a bit of time to examine his surroundings. He was standing in a vast rocky cavern, which honeycombed into multiple branches. There were also metallic walls integrated down there, some containing doors. He could still barely see flashes of light through the hole above, marking the remains of the vicious battle. The Master Chief then began to explore the cavern he was in, shotgun raised. In the room above, Slik had watched the entire goings-on between Ziko and Sean, and was now walking tentatively towards the hole. He peeked in, and waited for Sean to be far enough across the cavern, and jumped in.
Reach II, Office of Naval Intelligence Facilities
Military Resurrection Lab 7
As the liquid nitrogen billowed inside the cryo-tube in front of him, Dr. Leonard Nemand considered the moral implications of his experiment. He was creating an exact copy of a living, breathing person. True, it was a soldier, and he had submitted his memory dumps, so they had his permission. Also, it was to save the damn Human race, so God couldn't exactly blame him. He hoped. The balding man checked the pad displaying the man's vitals, and told his AI to wake him up.
The liquid nitrogen inside cleared, and the inside was flash superheated for mere milliseconds. Daniel Heath's eyes opened with a start. He immediately tried to sit up, but his head thumped against the glass of the tube. What the hell was going on? The last thing Daniel remembered was preparing to launch against the Covenant planet, and talking to Danielle. Why wasn't he in his MJOLNIR, and where in the hell was he anyway?
The tube opened and Daniel was out in seconds. "What happened? Why didn't I get to the planet? Who are you?" "I am Dr. Leonard Nemand, you're in an ONI lab on Reach II, and if you'll sit down, I'll explain what happened to you." Daniel, who wasn't used to such a friendly tone, sat down quietly, and the doctor started speaking again. "Now, first I have to see how much you remember. Please state your name, rank, and service number."
That at least was easy enough, and Daniel responded, "Master Chief Petty Officer Sean Hawke, sir, Spartan 717, service number 408915882387SH, sir!" Dr. Nemand squinted as Daniel shouted out the final "sir", and then checked his data pad. It was all correct. He had hoped to God it wouldn't be correct, and the whole freaking program could be scrapped, at least until he was too old to work on it anymore. But the memories had been implanted perfectly it seemed.
The unique human being, the one named Daniel Heath, the convicted killer, no longer existed, not even within himself. He was now a replica of Sean Hawke, the leader of the beta Spartans. Now Sean Hawke II would become the leader of the ten-person test group of resurrected soldiers. All of them were executed criminals. Were convicted criminals, he told himself, were until we made them what they now are.
"OK," he said, "now, do you remember any of what happened on the Covenant planet?" "Sir," replied Daniel, "no sir."
"Well, that's to be expected. You took a nasty blow to the head in the air-strike. You see, a Marine called in Longsword bombers onto you and the rest of the Spartans' position." "He didn't know you were there," said Dr. Nemand, seeing the look on Sean II's face, "Only you and nine others survived." Daniel hid the look of fear on his face, knowing he couldn't ask about Danielle.
Dr. Nemand was about to continue speaking when a pretty young woman poked her head in through the door, and said, "Sir, should we start waking up the other patients?" The doctor stood up, took his glasses off, and rubbing his nose, said, "Yes I suppose we should Nora." The nurse waited for him by the door, flashed Daniel a smile, and closed it behind them. Daniel heard a click as the door bolt slid home. It was laughable that they locked the door on him.
It was a one-inch thick glass laboratory door, vacuum-sealed. If he had wanted to escape, he could have. But Daniel wondered why they had locked him in anyway, his record would have clearly shown that he was perfectly happy serving for the UNSC. Curious. Most curious.
John Adamson was about to make the hardest call of his life. He had called for Sean over the COM time and again but to no avail. The possibility of Sean having survived in that room for long seemed bleak to him. The Covenant that had originally been streaming out of the door seemed to have realized that their strategy needed rethinking. Elites' bodies were piled outside the door almost four feet high.
John had spent as much time as possible, hoping against all hope that Sean would come bursting from the door, assault rifle ablaze, covered in steaming luminescent blue blood, a roar escaping his throat; the heroic figure John had pictured his own self becoming when he was drafted for the SPARTAN program at six years old. But now John had the force of years under his belt. There was no hero coming. He wasn't going to become a hero.
The world, the universe was shit and Sean Hawke, the man he had looked up to since boyhood, was dead. He left a lover and a friend, and a three hundred strong family. John found himself crying for the first time since he entered the SPARTAN program. The tears in his eyes were the reason he saw nothing as he opened up a freq to the nearest Longsword Interceptors.
That was why he was detached from himself, numb, unhearing, when he ordered the entire Spartan team to get as far away from the building as possible. That was why while he was running past red desert rocks and tan desert sand the only thing he saw was an immense intricate system of ropes, pulleys, ladders, and poles. The basket that led way up to the top of the pole was nearly there, team seven's victory was nearly assured.
Team seven would definitely be getting dinner that night. Sean, John, and Charity Hanlon were going to be the first ones to ring the bell. But another boy climbing a rope near by shoved John hard, so hard that he lost his grip on the pulley rope and fell backwards out of the basket. Charity had grabbed him then, and Sean had pulled the basket up to the top by himself. As John hung precariously over the edge, Sean seemed godlike in his effort and concentration.
The muscles, large for a boy his age already, but still small, looked about to burst, as did veins all along his arms, neck, and head. Sweat beads appeared everywhere, soaking his jumpsuit. But as Charity pulled John up, they had already reached the top, and John and Charity grabbed the rope. "Ring the bell," John had told Sean then, "you deserve it most." Sean had leaned out over the basket's edge, and given the rope a tug or two, then had helped them return quickly to the ground, and they all crossed the finish line together.
John still remembered the dinner that night: Spicy breaded chicken sandwiches, and creamed corn, with whatever they wanted to drink and milkshakes for dessert. But John returned to the present when the Pelican he had entered took off. "Sir," yelled the pilot from the front, "ground troops are in trouble all over the planet!" Looking out the side portholes, the Longsword bombers already growing larger on the horizon, John replied, "Then we'll split up. We need control of the planet."
He wouldn't show any of the soldiers—his soldiers now, that he was weak, or felt anything. He was trying to set the example Sean had always been able to set. Soon, the sounds of nearly a hundred bombs rumbled through the air, and John, unwavering, sat down and strapped himself in. After all, the Marines were in need.