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The Guardians, Chapter Three
Posted By: Agent Shade<cthompson013@hotmail.com>
Date: 11 July 2004, 7:17 AM

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Chapter Three

The Guardians walked into the docking armory room, already dressed in their combat armor. Unlike the marines who wore heavy Kevlar armor that was polarized, the Guardians wore flak jackets, much stronger than Kevlar. The only drawback was that it was extremely heavy. However, thanks to the Guardian's augmented bodies, they could wear two layers of this armor and still be able to function properly.

The Guardians weren't given MJOLNIR suits like the Spartans, because resources for the powerful armor were low and virtually impossible to find. Plus, with the death of Doctor Catherine Halsey, the knowledge of MJOLNIR was virtually lost. She was able to build the armor for the Spartan-IVs, but died afterwards. Therefore, to compensate for the loose of MJOLNIR, the Guardians were put under heavy augmentation, making them look like giants instead of humans. With advanced reflexes to counter the Spartans, the Guardians could quite possibly dodge bullets if they wanted.

Another function was introduced in the augmentation that was extremely classified. The ONI scientists were successful in grafting polarized steel to the bones of each Guardian. The costs for such an experiment were enormous, which was why the squad was limited to five members. If a plasma bolt got through the layered flak armor, it would first have to burn away at the reinforced muscles surrounding the body, and then tear a hole through the steel that was hidden under the muscle. It had been tested and proven to be very effective. The Guardians basically wore a MJOLNIR suit beneath their skin.

The flak armor plates were hidden inside Kevlar vests which the Guardians wore over their combat jumpsuits. The vests added more protection and hide the armor plates, so they weren't too protruding and uncomfortable. At first glance, the Guardians would look like a special ops group from ONI, but they were much more than that.

Rook walked over to the rows of weapon and immediately grabbed an MA5B assault rifle. The weapon was his personal favorite, especially when it came to killing Covenant. He slung the rifle over his back and took two handfuls of extra ammunition clips.

Because of their added strength and mobility, the Guardians could carry a total of three weapons. They would carry their primary, have their secondary over their backs and their tertiary, which was always a pistol, holstered to their hips. For a secondary weapon, Rook choose an MA7B Battle rifle, and one extra handful of 7.62 ammo clips. He wouldn't need a lot, because both his assault rifle and battle rifle fired the exact same bullet.

Frye grabbed onto two T-90 submachine guns. Like the battle rifle, it was a new weapon that had been issued to the Marine Corps. It carried a clip of sixty 5.56mm bullets. Though not as powerful as 7.62, the rate of fire would easily take out an Elite's shields after around twenty rounds. Frye strapped one of the bullet hoses across his back and held onto the other. He would only use the two of them when the situation proved necessary.

Titan and Kilo were a team within the team. Kilo took hold of a M19 SMM man-portable Jackhammer rocket launcher. He slammed two powerful 102mm rockets into the loading tubes and slung the big weapon over his back. The extra ammunition was carried by Titan in the huge equipment pack he carried. Both Titan and Kilo then took MA5B assault rifles for their primary weapons. Since Kilo already had a secondary, he grabbed a M6D pistol and stood ready. Titan decided to go with a M90 Close-Assault shotgun, just in case.

The final member, Angel, was their sniper. She immediately grabbed the S2 AM sniper rifle and loaded a clip of four 14.5 armor-piercing rounds into the chamber. She ditched the sights and scopes and sent a link to the eye reticule of her tactical helmet. She then took a MA7B battle rifle for her primary and the M6D pistol for her tertiary.

They gathered along a catwalk overlooking the docking bay, where their Pelican dropship was waiting. Warrant Officer Chambers walked through the troop bay and nodded to them.

"Captain's given us the go-ahead. Time to go folks" he said. Chambers had been their ride since the beginning of the missions and was starting to become a favorite, much like Ryan was. Rook nodded to the pilot and looked back at his team.

"Time to break open some Covenant skulls. Load up" he said. Grins were exchanged with each team member as they climbed into the troop bay and strapped themselves in. Rook sat near the loading ramp and watched James Ryan walk towards them, a grim look on his face. However, he smiled at the Guardians.

"Be careful down there. Find the map room, and get out of there ASAP" he said. Rook chuckled.

"Piece of cake Ryan, we'll see you soon" he said. Ryan nodded and saluted to them. He then turned and walked out of the bay. Slowly, the loading ramp was lifted to close off the troop bay. The docking latches were removed and the Pelican hovered in the air. The docking bay door then opened, revealing the nebula the ship sat in.

"Friar is sending us drop off coordinates, so we won't get lost in here" Chambers yelled back to the team as the mirrors they looked out from were filled with pink and red colors. The Pelican then accelerated forward, into the depths of the nebula.

Vice Admiral Frederic Hanson stood in his office, looking out the window. His office was more like an apartment, since it came with a small kitchen and pull-out couch. Luckily, Hanson had never had to stay here overnight.

The war against the Covenant was going extremely well, after they started to use plasma technology in their own technology. Ships were twice as powerful as they used to be. It was possible for an outnumbered fleet of human ships to win against the Covenant. But of course, those ships had to have the new technological advancements in their weapons and armor in order to do so.

Hanson had been currently shunned from the battle field, locked away in his office on the one hundred and fifth floor of the FLEETCOM HQ tower, located in the Jericho IV system. He hated the continuous silence and solitude. He wanted to be on the bridge of his ship, where he felt he belonged. He missed his crew. He missed the sound of the engine slowly lulling you off to sleep. He missed space, period.

Frederic sighed and turned away from the window. He moved to his desk, where his briefcase was open. However, the only homework he had tonight; was spend time with his family. He grinned at the picture of his beautiful wife and daughter. As much as he missed space, he missed seeing them the most.

He slammed the brief case shut and threw it onto one of the couches. Smiling to himself, he unbuttoned his collar and went to the door.

"Admiral Hanson?" Frederic slammed his fist into the wall at the sound of his secretary. Mumbling curses, he moved back to his desk and pressed the intercom switch.

"Yes" he said.

"Sorry sir, but there is an urgent message for you" his secretary said.

"Can it wait Anna?" Hanson asked.

"Well, it came from the Supreme Admiral, so I don't think so" Anna replied. Hanson sighed again.

"Transfer it here please" he said, sitting back down in his chair. A small TV screen slowly appeared out of his desk, with an "INCOMING TRANSMISSION" message blinking on the screen. He leaned forward and pressed the receive button. Replacing the blinking message on the screen was the face of Captain Isaac Baine. Hanson smiled.

"Isaac, long time no see" he said. Baine nodded at him.

"It has indeed been too long Admiral. I hope I haven't caught you at a bad time" he replied.

"Course not Isaac, what can I do for you?" Hanson liked Isaac, and would make an exception for the late call. The two had fought together in several battles and trusted each other. Isaac sighed on the screen.

"We've got a big problem here sir. A problem that is out of my hands" he said. Hanson immediately thought mutiny, but knew Baine was an extremely responsible commander. Frederic nodded at his friend, urging him to continue.

"We found another Halo ring world in an uncharted system we're calling the Cascade system. It's orbiting a planet the size of Jupiter, maybe bigger" Baine first said.

"What's the catch?" Hanson asked.

"Holding stationary orbits over Halo are four Covenant destroyers, and there's evidence that they've transferred troops to the surface" he answered. Frederic raised an eyebrow.

"You called me to tell me that?" he asked. Isaac held up a hand.

"That's only half of the catch sir, here's the rest" he said, touching a button off screen. Frederic's mouth dropped open as he stared at the data recording of the Covenant armada positioned behind the planet. Frigates, destroyers, cruisers, carriers, it looked as if the entire Covenant fleet was gathered here. He tried counting, but gave up as he watched five additional ships pull up into orbit. The picture then disappeared, showing Isaac's grim face.

"Jesus Christ...how many?" Hanson asked.

"Three hundred, maybe more. Our AI can't get a secure reading because we are currently hiding in a Mutara nebula cloud. Plus, that fleet is hiding behind the nearby planet" Isaac answered. Hanson leaned forward.

"What do you need Captain?" he asked. The corners of Isaac's lips lifted.

"The cavalry sir. We need a UNSC fleet out here ASAP, to counter this armada and allow us to destroy this ring world." Frederic knew that Baine was talking about his battle group, nicknamed "The Cavalry." Five years of service and not a single loss to the Covenant. Baine's ship had been part of it, until he was ordered to the Halo Hunter team. Hanson couldn't help but grin.

"You're in luck my friend. We're currently waiting for new orders, and you've just given us them. Send me your position coordinates" he said.

"Already done" Baine replied.

"How many ships?" Hanson asked. Isaac chuckled.

"A lot, since it looks like the Covenant get reinforcements every day. Four hundred, five hundred..." he said, his voice trailing off.

"You want me to split my fleet in half? Come now Captain, you know I have nearly seven hundred UNSC ships at my disposal. The Cavalry was pulled back from the front lines to defend FLEETCOM and some of the outlying systems. Since I'm in charge, I determine when we leave" he said.

"Now would be best sir" Baine said. Hanson nodded and stood up.

"Very well Isaac, we'll be at the system in a day or two. Stay alive out there" he declared. Baine grinned and saluted.

"See you soon Admiral, and thank you" he said. The screen went blank and retracted inside his desk. Frederic sighed. Looks like he would have to cancel dinner. He pressed the intercom button beside the screen.

"Anna" he said.

"Yes Admiral"

"Call all fleet Captains from the Cavalry, have them meet me in the FLEETCOM briefing room" Frederic ordered.

"All seven hundred of them sir?" Anna asked, sounding doubtful.

"Just do it!" snapped Frederic.

"I'm on it." Hanson let go of the intercom and sat back down in his chair. It seemed his wish was about to be granted. He would hear the sound of an engine one last time. But before he could contemplate his attack plan, he had to call home and inform his family of the bad news.

An endless blanket of blue greeted Rook's eyes, as the Pelican drop-off ramp was lowered, revealing a large ocean of water. They had entered Halo's atmosphere undetected, and were two minutes away from the Silent Cartographer Island.

Rook stared at a small data pad in his hand, which gave him a birds-eye view of the island. Like all the other islands, the entrance to the map room was located along the edge of the cliff, which surrounded the whole island. There were small pathways and tunnels which provided numerous entrances to different parts of the island and beaches.

"Covenant activity detected; looks like they've massed their forces around the outside of the Cartographer entrance. Radar isn't picking up anything else, so we'll land you folks east from their position. Thirty seconds till dirt" Chambers called over the radio.

Rook said nothing and watched as the blue ocean was replaced by brown, sandy beaches and green grass and trees. The Pelican hovered over the beach for a full ten seconds, before slowly lowering itself.

"Good luck Guardians! Let me know when you need pickup!" Chambers yelled over the engines. Rook gave the pilot a two-fingered salute and jumped off the troop bay ramp. His boots sank into the sand, but Rook pulled them out and jogged to the left, towards a cluster of trees. The rest of his team followed, ducking low and their weapons raised.

Rook took a knee and looked back at the Pelican. Chambers could be seen waving at them from the cockpit. The drop-off ramp was raised, closing off the troop bay and the dropship took off, disappearing into the horizon and accelerating into the clouds afterwards. They were alone now.

His team grouped around him, scanning their surroundings with their guns. Rook however knew they had to keep moving. He didn't have enough Intel to determine the best course of action yet.

"Move out, linear formation" he said. His team nodded and stood. Angel took lead, while Frye brought up the rear. Titan, Kilo and Rook stood in the middle of their small line and followed Angel, who sprinted to the cliff and stayed close against it. They moved at a small trot, leaving the small beach area and rounding the corner.

A small forest stood in front of them, with few trees. Through the trees, Rook could see the shining shields of three Jackals, who looked as if to be on a patrol route. They stood near the beach, chatting with one another. Two equipment crates could be seen next to them.

Angel had paused and was targeting them, but Rook pushed her on. They continued to stay close to the cliff and moving into the forest, using the trees and small bushes as cover. Angel held up a fist and they dropped to the ground. Rook looked to where she was pointing. The Jackals were moving away from the beach and back up to the cliff. From where Rook was, he could see a large elevated metallic platform, which he assumed was part of the main entrance. A small path, guarded by two Grunts, went up the middle of the platform and connected with the main level, which Rook could only assume was loaded with Covenant species.

The path was out of the question, which meant there had to be another way around. He scanned near the cliff and saw a large opening in the side. He patted Angel and pointed it out. She nodded and began moving in, while Rook signaled to the rest of the team. They approached the opening and clicked their flashlights on to scan inside.

The opening led to a small tunnel, which then connected to an open area, like a cave. The cave was empty as the Guardians moved into it. Another tunnel could be seen, which traveled up for a metre or two. Angel went up first, her battle rifle in her hands. She reached the top of the tunnel and crouched down quickly.

"Point to lead, heavy enemy contact" she whispered into her microphone. Rook looked up at her.

"Describe it to me" he said.

"This tunnel leads to the main platform of the Cartographer entrance. I can see six Elites; four blue-armored and two veteran levels. Company detachment of Grunts, maybe around ten Jackals and a pair of Hunters" she replied. Rook swore to himself. He knew that this was just a welcome party. He ordered the rest of his team to hold position and climbed up the tunnel. Angel backed down and allowed Rook to view the area.

The sniper wasn't lying. From what Rook could see, all the Grunts, saving for the two guarding the path were sleeping, and majority of the Jackals were gathered on the far right side of the platform. The only real threat closest to Rook, was one of the Hunters and three of the Elites. It also seemed that the Elites and Hunters were on a small patrol of their own. Rook grinned as the group of Covenant closest to him began to move away, leaving an opening for him and his team to move to the entrance.

He dropped down a bit and motioned for his team to follow. They climbed behind him and waited, while Rook looked outside. It was still clear. He looked back down.

"On my mark, move out of this tunnel and towards the entrance" he said. The Guardians nodded and moved closer to the tunnel edge. Rook looked back outside. The Elites were halfway across the platform, their backs still to his team.

"Now" he whispered. One by one, the Guardians climbed down from the tunnel and shifted along the cliff wall, into one of the entrance ways. As Rook moved, he calculated they had less then thirty seconds before those Elites came back to their position.

The Guardians moved inside one of the entrances and huddled in a corner. Angel peered around the corner, down a long hallway, which continued to the right. She looked back at Rook and shook her head, indicating no contacts. He nodded and gave her the thumbs-up.

Angel darted around the corner, keeping her head low and rushed forward. Rook waited a full two seconds, before following her. The team met up near the end of the hall, where a ramp sloped down to another door. They moved down it quickly and then moved through the door, down another hallway. They stopped near the edge, and allowed Angel too peek around the door.

"Contact: three Grunts" she said.

"Take them out" Rook replied. Angel raised her battle rifle and adapted a silencer onto the end. She then peered into the scope of the weapon and pressed on the trigger three times.

All three Grunts didn't even scream as the 7.62 bullets tore through their headsets and ruptured their brains. As they toppled over, Angel dashed forward to police their bodies. Rook watched her, then followed, with the rest of the team following.

They stood around the dead Grunts and looked through another door that greeted them. The hallway leading after it was short and continued to the left and right. The Guardians moved through the door, Angel and Frye covered them from the left, while Rook and the others went to the right.

The hallway lead to a small ramp that stopped in mid air. Rook walked onto the ramp and looked around him. He stood in a bottomless cavern, with dozens of little ramps sticking out of the walls. Rook looked down and could only see a purple mist. If he jumped to the other ramps, he could make it. His bones wouldn't break, but there would be internal damage. He stepped back and motioned for Frye and Angel, who joined up with them.

The interior of the Cartographer was exactly the same as the interiors of the four other map rooms they had been in. From Rook's position, he could see the four levels below the level they stood on now. Normally they were forced to trek through all of them, but Rook had a different idea.

He got some rope and attached it to the end of a small gun, which fired a hook. This hook had small prongs on them that spread out like fish hooks. When fired, the hook would latch onto any object and stay there, unless removed.

This technique was often used in mountain climbing, but Rook had found a different use for it. He aimed the gun at the edge of one of the levels and fired. There was a small "puff" as the hook shot forward and slammed into the metal. Rook put the gun down and took hold of the rope which was attached to the hook. He pulled twice, satisfied it would hold.

Each Guardian then took a large strand of rope and wrapped it around their gloved hands. Making sure they had a good grip, Kilo looped his hands around the rope that Rook had fired. He jumped off the platform and rode along the rope, down to the bottom level. His feet hovered above the floor and he let go. Kilo rolled once, then stood up and surveyed the area with his assault rifle. He gave the all clear.

The rest of the team then grabbed onto the suspended rope, with their own hand ropes and slide down it, until they reached Kilo's position. Rook brought up the rear. He connected his end of the rope onto another hook and then wrapped another strand of rope around his hands. Satisfied it would hold he looped his rope around the suspended one and slide along it. As he neared his team's position, he let go and hovered in the air for a second, before tumbling onto the ground. He landed and quickly rolled, to prevent his legs from breaking.

He and his team had just skipped three levels of the Cartographer. Satisfied, Rook cut the rope they used to glide down and watched it tumble into the depths below. He then turned and motioned for his team to move forward.

They exited the huge cavernous hall and rounded a corner, stepping into a new room. A huge collection of small pillars that stuck out of the ground dotted the floor. To Rook's left was a ramp that led up to a catwalk which lead only god knows where. The Guardians moved forward and took up positions behind the small pillars, looking around them for Covenant activity. Rook spotted a door ahead of them.

"Frye, Kilo, move up" he ordered. The two super humans dashed forward, weaving their way around the pillars. The door slide open as they approached it. Both Guardians crouched and peered down the small hall before them.

"Clear Rook" Frye said. Rook nodded and motioned for Titan and Angel to move up. They regrouped and ventured down into the hall. The tunnel ended, revealing a large room, which a bigger ramp that sloped down into a bigger hall. Rook stood near the corner of the ramp and peered around the wall. He quickly snapped his head back in as two Covenant Grunts walked past the opening.

Rook took another look as the Grunts left. This was the floor that the Cartographer was on. The Guardian leader recognized the structure of the room beyond. He reached into his vest pocket and pulled out a silencer. He then attached it to the end of his assault rifle nozzle and looked at his team mates.

"Looks like we're going to have to start the show early. Mount silencers and grab somebody. Angel, the moment we go down this ramp, I want you to find a vantage point to cover us from. Frye with me, Titan and Kilo move off to the right. Clear?" he said to them. They all nodded in return. Rook emerged around the corner and crouched low as he walked down the ramp. Frye moved beside him and the two of them stopped at the base of the ramp.

The two patrol Grunts had met up with three more Grunts near a large opening in the wall that sloped around the room. Rook turned to his left and targeted them. The Grunts saw the intruders and let out barks of shock. Both Rook and Frye opened on them, firing quick bursts from their weapons. Three of the five Grunts dropped backwards from head shots, while the other two each fired their pistols once, before retreating.

Rook kept an eye on the Grunt's escape, while ordering Titan and Kilo to flank them. The two Guardians moved past Rook and rounded a large pillar that was positioned in the middle of the room. Rook heard muffled coughs from their assault rifles. He then patted Frye.

"Move in. Angel, on me" he said. The sniper moved down the ramp and followed Rook and Frye, who moved through the opening in the wall.

A Covenant blue-armored Elite and the two Grunts who had retreated stood to Rook's right. The Guardian stopped and turned, firing off five quick shots. Both of the Grunts fell, but the Elite sidestepped, avoiding the additional bullets. Frye and Angel appeared beside Rook and fired off short bursts from their weapons. The Elite's shields sparked as each bullet smashed against it. It growled and fired back. Rook and Angel retreated around the corner, while Frye crouched low behind a piece of metal sticking out of the wall.

Titan and Kilo emerged on the other side of the small hallway the Elite stood in. They fired their assault rifles and drilled bullets into the alien's back. The shields disappeared. All five Guardians then fired at once and the Elite let out a roar as it fell over, dead.

It had been guarding another opening in the wall, which lead into another bottom-less cavern. The team moved into it, down a ramp to their right and onto a platform. A door on the far side of the platform opened, revealing two angry Elites, both wearing red armor. They issued a roar to the Guardians and fired.

Rook retreated behind a wall along with Frye. The rest of the team backed up along the ramp and found cover in the hallway with the dead Elite. They fired, but the two Elites avoided the shots.

Rook and Frye stuck their guns out briefly and fired quick bursts, but the Elites sent a stream of plasma fire back at them. Rook cursed as plasma splashed along the wall and burned. He reloaded his assault rifle, while Frye crouched beside him. The Guardian took out his second T-90 SMG and began to hose down the Elites with double the firepower. One Elite's shields shorted out, allowing Rook to emerge around the corner and fire a quick burst at its head. The Field Commander fell backwards without a sound, a splash of black and purple blood spraying the wall.

The second Elite began to retreat, as Angel and Titan appeared on the ramp and fired at it. The door behind it opened and it backed up into the small hallway. The Guardians moved forward and crouched around the door, spilling bullets down the hall. The Elite clutched its stomach area as its shields went out. The rate of fire increased and it fell forward with a gurgle.

"Move!" Rook yelled. The team sprinted down the hall and emerged in a small room, which an alien control console and large holo-projector in the middle. Rook observed his surroundings. Only one entrance/exit, thank god.

"Titan and Kilo, watch the door" he ordered. The two Guardians nodded and stood on either side of the door, leaning to one side to aim their guns at the other door. Rook then approached the console and observed the buttons on it. Shrugging, he pushed one.

The projector hummed to life and showed a picture of the Halo ring world. It then zoomed in slightly, to show the orbiting Covenant ships and the small dropships moving in between them. Rook whistled slightly.

"Some sort of radar" he said. Impressive though it was, it wasn't what he was looking for. He pressed the larger button beside the radar one. The room darkened, as the small holographic ring world was zoomed in on. It was then broken down into separate pieces and each piece examined. Rook watched the images carefully, looking for the position of the control room.

One piece then began to glow and was zoomed in one. It showed a huge pyramid-shaped shrine, placed against the side of a cliff. Rook observed it careful and nodded to himself.

"That's it, that's the control room" he said. Angel stepped forward and took out a small battle-recorder. She quickly taped the image of the control room and its location on the ring world.

"Get those read outs too" Frye put in, pointing to small numbers scrolling across the picture. Angel nodded and put the camera down.

"I got it" she said. Rook nodded and turned to the door. Suddenly, Titan and Kilo began to fire short bursts from their assault rifles.

"We got company" Titan muttered as he reloaded. As Angel and Frye moved to the door, Rook grabbed his radio.

"Guardians to Omega Twelve" she said.

"I'm here Rook, what's up?" asked the voice of Warrant Officer Chambers.

"Piece of cake Chambers, we are in the map room, but the Covenant have a large welcoming party waiting for us. Request the Marines be deployed" he said.

"Acknowledged Rook, I'm relaying the message now. Sit tight, we're on our way" Chambers said. Rook nodded and shut off the radio, musing over Chamber's comments. They weren't going anywhere.

By: Agent Shade