Survival, Chapter Three: The Battle for Survival begins...
Posted By: Agent Shade<email@example.com>
Date: 20 September 2003, 4:16 AM
Survival, Chapter Three: The Battle for Survival begins...
It was hot. Captain Malcolm Savard sat in his command chair, his uniform collar unbuttoned and fanning himself. He looked back over at Lieutenant Yu.
"Turn the air up would you Lieutenant" he asked.
"Sir, the air conditioning in the ship has been put to full blast several times, but someone keep turning it down" the Chinese woman replied. Savard finally stood up and walked over to her console. He could see a blue bar on her screen going up, which represented the power of the air cycling through the vents. Suddenly, it began to drop. Yu moved her hands away from her console.
"It's not accidental sir" she said. Savard scratched his chin and stood straight.
"Have you had the engine room check it out?" he asked. Yu's face changed to a scared expression.
"Well, there's another problem. Tech Officer Elliott has gone missing. He and two other technicians went up into the access junctions to look for Tech Officer Bryan Kerr. All four of them haven't been back. Tech Chief Cassell is running things down there now, but they're trying to fix one of the access elevators that fell of its hinges" she said. Savard was really confused. The thing that confused him the most was the missing technicians. He had to act.
"Go to caution alert and post security teams throughout the ship. We may have some stowaways onboard" he ordered. The emergency lights in the bridge began to blink a dark orange. Within seconds, a full team of eight Marine Regulars marched into the room, holding MA5B assault rifles. The Staff Sergeant saluted at the Captain, who returned it. Savard then turned back to Lieutenant Yu.
"What are the current reports from engineering?" he asked.
"They found the elevator and it's covered with the remains of a human. The hinges were blown off by someone. The elevator can't be fixed" she reported, looking at the readouts scrolling across her screen. Savard gulped.
"Jesus..." he whispered and sat back in his chair. "Full emergency stop, take us out of the Slip Stream" he suddenly ordered. Lieutenant Dela Cruz raised an eyebrow as he typed in several commands to his console. The Hybrid braked quickly and Savard could feel his body lean forward from the sudden stoppage of movement. The bridge crew turned to look at him. He stood.
"Staff Sergeant, send your men into the access ways and find out what the hell is going on up there" he ordered. Staff Sergeant Jordan Evans nodded and rushed out of the bridge.
"I need a full security detail down in engineering now!" he yelled into his radio. Savard then relaxed and looked at the rest of the bridge crew.
"Monitor your consoles; we'll let the marines handle this one. If anything bad comes up, notify me immediately" he said. Not a second later, Lieutenant Yu gasped.
"Uhhh, sir" she said. Savard looked at her. "I've just lost contact with engineering" she whispered. Malcolm furrowed his brow and rushed to her console. It was completely blank. No info scrolled across its screen. Savard looked at Yu who was still looking at the blank screen. The Captain turned around.
"Seal off the engineering deck, post security teams at every access points" he ordered. As several technicians obliged, Malcolm grabbed his radio.
"Hold your progress; fall back to the nearest access point leading into the engineering deck. We may have a small problem" he said.
"I was just about to tell you that sir, we've just found a couple of dead crewman here in the hall" he said.
"Get out of there now Sergeant, we're sealing off that deck" Savard said quickly.
"Already on it sir" Savard switched the radio off, and then moved to Lieutenant Dela Cruz.
"Show me the exterior of the ship, all cameras" he said. Dela Cruz nodded and eight small screens appeared on the main screen. Savard looked long and hard at them.
"Magnify the engineering camera" he ordered. The next screen that popped up was completely blank. "Is it offline?"
"No sir, I'm getting a return signal from it" Dela Cruz said. Savard nodded.
"Which camera shows part of the engineering area?" he asked. The Lieutenant typed several commands in. Another camera screen appeared, showing the hull of the ship. Savard continued to look hard at the image. Something didn't seem right. Where access hatches and elevators should be, there were odd lumps of some sort.
"Magnify" he ordered. The image enhanced. The lumps didn't look like part of the ship at all. At a closer look, they looked like Covenant boarding crafts. Savard's eyes widened and he sat up.
"Replay the Strength and Honor's attack on us" he ordered. A small movie screen appeared, showing the first volley of the white balls of energy the Covenant ship had fired at them.
"Go" Savard said. The image played and the white lights flew at the shields. Just at the moment of contact, Savard raised his hand.
"Freeze image!" The computer complied and the image froze. "Magnify" he said again. The camera zoomed in on the edge of the shield barrier. Savard could make out four Covenant boarding ships emerging from the vanishing white lights. They were camouflaged quite well to look like a part of the ship.
"Resume playback, speed negative ten" Savard said. The playback continued, but at a much slower rate. The white light vanished, but the Covenant boarding crafts remained. They latched into the ship and became part of the hull. Savard shook his head.
"Lieutenant Bishop" he said suddenly. The young weapons officer snapped to attention.
"Yes sir?" he asked.
"See those eight lumps on the hull of the ship? Near the engineering area?" Malcolm asked. Bishop squinted at his screen.
"Yes sir, I do"
"Are they within turret range?" he asked. Bishop did a few calculations with his computer.
"Yes sir, four nearby 50mm chain guns can hit all eight of them" he said.
"Open fire Lieutenant" Savard ordered. The Lieutenant replied and the sound of chain gun fire could be heard. The camera showed all eight of the lumps exploding, then breaking off as Covenant boarding crafts.
"Son of a bitch" whispered a nearby marine Corporal. Malcolm nodded.
"Go to Battle alert" he ordered.
Lance Corporal David Fitzgerald sat cross-legged on the floor, twirling his combat knife in his hand. He spat a wad of chewing tobacco on the deck and leaned back against a piece of the blockade they had set up around the main entrance to the engineering deck. Sergeant McGrath looked up from his weapon he was polishing.
"What did I tell you about chewing that shit Corporal? You spit that all out right now, you here me?" he ordered. Fitzgerald smirked and spat out the whole wad onto the deck. Several nearby marines grimaced at the lump of tobacco. McGrath stood.
"God damnit marine, clean that shit up right now!" he yelled. Fitzgerald shook his head and stood. He had always shown attitude to higher ranking marines. They handled it well, but most times they found him damn annoying. That was understandable, since that was what David was trying to do.
A patrol team of seven marines walked into the hall, Lance Corporal Adam Banton leading them. The Corporal saluted Sergeant McGrath, who returned it.
"All quiet sir"
"Sure is...to damn quiet. Whatever is in there isn't going to act soon" McGrath growled. The patrol team fanned out and began chatting away with each other. Fitzgerald simply kicked the lump of tobacco aside with his boot and walked over to the two men.
"Think we should go in there Sarge?" he asked. McGrath looked at him thoughtfully.
"I dunno marine. Normally I would, but we're under strict orders too making sure nothing breaks loose. We'll stay here for now" the Sergeant said. Fitzgerald stomped his foot.
"Damnit, you know as well as I do that I hate waiting for an ambush of some sort" he growled.
"I know Corporal, but we stick to procedure and wait for orders understood?" Sergeant McGrath asked, staring at David. Corporal Fitzgerald nodded.
"Loud and clear sir" he whispered. The Sergeant nodded and walked off to the line of titanium blockades they had set up. Fitzgerald turned to Banton.
"What do you think dude?"
"I tell ya man, I'm with you. Let's kill those bastards who fight like cowards" the Corporal said through gritted teeth. Fitzgerald smirked and stared at the floor. He had seen war before, he had seen death, he wasn't afraid of it at all. He just wanted to do his duty and end the war. He had gone into boot with that attitude; he would die with that attitude. Fitzgerald had been raised on Earth, like many of the other marines in his company. He had joined the military the moment word got out of the Covenant invasion. Before he knew it, he was fighting in residential areas of Earth he had grown up in. He'd seen loved ones get slaughtered, good friends fall. He used the pain to increase his rage for the enemy and improve his overall battle effort. Fitzgerald was a born fighter and wasn't supposed to wait for an enemy to attack him. His prayers were answered quickly.
"Bridge to Sergeant McGrath" came the voice of Staff Sergeant Jordan Evans through Sergeant McGrath's radio. The Sergeant grabbed it from his collar and clicked it on.
"Yes sir, what can I do for you?"
"It's been at least four hours since we lost contact of engineering. Scans and internal cameras show nothing. I'm sending another security detail your way. Head into the compromised area of the ship and flush out whatever the hell is in there" ordered the Staff Sergeant. McGrath grinned and glanced over at Fitzgerald briefly.
"Yes sir, we're on it, out" he said, putting his radio back on his collar. He turned to the rest of the marines around him.
"Saddle up you pussies. Got some new orders for us" he yelled. This seemed to boost the marine's spirits as they grabbed their weapons, buckled up their bodysuit armor and gathered around the Sergeant. While this happened, a large group of marines appeared at the end of the hall and walked towards them. One man saluted Sergeant McGrath.
"Sergeant Graham, good to see you" McGrath said, returning the salute. Graham grinned.
"Let's get this show on the road" he whispered. His voice was very scratchy, suggesting over usage of cigars. McGrath nodded.
"We split up into two groups and search out those assholes killing off the flyboys in the engineering area. I will lead team one, Sergeant Graham will lead team two. We search every single nook and cranny on this deck, and then meet back here. Keep radio contact to a minimum. You report any sounds or movements at all to either me or Sergeant Graham, or one of the Corporals in your group, got it?" explained Sergeant McGrath. Several marines nodded, others grunted in approval. McGrath raised himself to his full six foot height. "Well we won't get anywhere just standing here. Move your pussy asses on the double. Move that blockade and open the door. We got some hunting to do!" he roared. The marines moved quickly and shoved the titanium blockades aside in groups. Fitzgerald stood by the door control panel on the left side of the giant airlock door. When the blockades were pushed aside, the marines fanned out in front of the door, weapons up and ready. Sergeant McGrath nodded at David, who pulled the lever, then crouched low and raised his weapon.
Slowly, the doors that were used as airlocks to trap enemies in a specific area opened. All that was revealed was complete darkness. Not a single light was functional. Fitzgerald squinted hard, but couldn't see anything. Sergeant McGrath switched his flashlight on. The other marines followed suite. Slowly, they moved into the darkened hallway in large groups. Fitzgerald, McGrath and three other marines followed two other large groups of marines ahead of them. Four other groups followed. They kept the door open, allowing some of the light from the hallway to shed into the darkness.
Even with the flashlights, Fitzgerald could barely see. He switched to night vision mode on his eye reticule and could make out his surroundings a lot better. The hallway they walked through looked exactly like it did before, except the lights were off. McGrath motioned to his right, and Fitzgerald hugged the wall, sidestepping across. He approached an access door which led into a smaller hall. Fitzgerald stood at the corner; a marine private crouched in front of him. Fitzgerald counted down from three with his fingers, and then the two of them swung around and aimed their lights into the hall. There was nothing there. The two men shrugged and rushed to gather around the two Sergeants.
"Okay, this is where we split up. I don't want a single marine to go wandering off. You stick with your squad until this mission is done got it?" McGrath whispered. The marines nodded. McGrath nodded at Graham, who returned it.
"Team two, on me" Graham whispered. The security detail that Staff Sergeant Evans sent followed the Sergeant and disappeared in a smaller hall to their left. Fitzgerald stood around the marines he had been with since they stood on guard duty. McGrath looked at them.
"We'll start with that door, it leads to the engine room more or less" he said, motioning to the hall that Fitzgerald and the private had looked into. McGrath and Corporal Banton led the way, with Fitzgerald and the other marines right behind them. They moved slowly, to make sure they didn't get ambushed. McGrath swung around the corner of the hall, along with Banton. Fitzgerald moved through with two marines behind him. They stopped at another corner and looked down the hall. There was nothing there. The rest of the group followed through and moved down the new hall, waving their weapons about. The end of the hall was a door, which led into a larger hallway, much like the one they had come from, from the start. Fitzgerald found the control panel for the door. He looked at Banton, who looked at McGrath. The Sergeant nodded, and then Corporal Banton nodded. Fitzgerald pulled the lever, and the door moved open slowly. Banton and two marines moved in first. The door entered into the end of the large hallway. The three marines pointed their weapons down the hall and covered McGrath and Fitzgerald as they followed them. As Fitzgerald moved into the new, larger hallway, he knew something was wrong immediately. The air was a lot heavier in here, and the heat was incredible. He could smell rotting flesh somewhere and it was very hazy. McGrath motioned for them to split up into smaller groups again and fan out along the walls of the hallway. Fitzgerald and three other marines lead the other marine groups on the left side of the wall. They moved just as slow as the other marines did on the right side of the hall.
The smell of rotting flesh became stronger. Fitzgerald wanted to cover his nose, but he held back the temptation and focused on making it through the hallway alive. Sure enough, as they continued to move, the source of the smell was found.
A green fungus was growing along the hallway up ahead. It was alive and still infecting the hall. Fitzgerald could see it expanding and forming around the pillars and floor. He moved away from the right side of the wall as the fungus grew past him. The marines on the other side of the wall were encountering similar problems. The stayed near the middle and continued to move down it.
As they did, Fitzgerald could see something in the fungus. There were large lumps in the growing and alive fungus. They were quite large and didn't seem like a part of the original hallway. Fitzgerald held up a fist and knelt beside one of the lumps. He had battle gloves on, which covered his hands completely. He leaned forward and scratched at the fungus. It peeled right off. Fitzgerald continued doing this along the lump in front of him. He eventually stopped and looked at his gloves. Fragments off the fungus were starting to grow on them. He quickly ripped them off and threw them onto the floor, where they were consumed by the fungus. Fitzgerald then looked at the lump he had been digging up and gasped.
The lumps were part of the hallway or the fungus. They were bodies. The distorted dead face of a ship crewman looked up at them. His face was screwed up completely. His eyes were glazed over completely and his skin color was green. Fitzgerald looked away and followed the marines as Sergeant McGrath ordered them to move on.
As they continued moving down the infested hall, David realized they were getting closer to the engine room. What scared Fitzgerald was the large amount of lumps here. They were literally climbing over them. As they reached several more doors, McGrath's radio went off with static. He quickly grabbed it.
"I said no radio contact!" he whispered harshly. No one answered. McGrath raised an eyebrow. "Hello?" he asked.
"AHHHHHHH!!" The distorted death scream of a human somewhere sent a chill down everyone's spin. McGrath shut his radio off and put it away.
"Looks like team two is in trouble. Let's get out of here, the enemy is too strong for a small team like us" McGrath said. Even Fitzgerald was getting spooked out. The team of marines turned and began to head back the way they came. Suddenly, a huge bang echoed throughout the hall. Everyone squatted low and spread apart, scanning the area with their weapons. Following that, the sound of metal being ripped apart could be heard. Fitzgerald pointed his flashlight near the entrance to the engine room and let his mouth drop open.
The doors had been literally blown open. Standing in the entrance way to the engine room was not an army, but more like an invasion of little tennis ball creatures with tentacles. The marines noticed this too and everyone was frozen was fear as they looked at the little things. Suddenly, they noticed the marines and charged, making odd squishy noises as they scurried along the ground towards them. Sergeant McGrath shouldered his assault rifle.
"Fire at will!" he roared. The marines didn't need to be told twice. They fired in long bursts at the little tentacle balls. As the bullets hit them, they popped in a small explosion of flesh and fungi. Fitzgerald must've popped at least fifty of the things, but more kept coming. Without warning, one tentacle ball jumped high into the air and latched itself onto Private Hunter's face. The man screamed widely and ran around, trying to get the thing off. Fitzgerald watched horrified as the man made several choking and gurgle noises, then collapsed onto the ground, the tentacle ball still on him. Fitzgerald turned back to the battle and fired his assault rifle full auto. Several other marines followed suite, and the rate of death increased for the enemy.
"There's too many Sarge!" yelled a nearby private.
"Fall back damnit" McGrath ordered. The marines complied and retreated backwards, firing at the flood of tentacle balls. Fitzgerald suddenly froze on horror.
Most of the little tentacle things were dead, however, the lumps in the floor were starting to move. The bodies in the fungus were moving and coming alive. Fitzgerald watched a dead crewman rip itself free of the fungus and stand immobile for a second. It turned to look at Fitzgerald.
The crewman looked like it was a corpse that had been dug out of its grave after several years of undisturbed sleep. Its right arm looked like some sort of whip. The man's head wasn't even on right, it sort of lay off to the side, useless. The ex-human suddenly let out a bark and rushed forward at Fitzgerald. The Corporal fired at point blank range, and the creature fell. David nodded, thinking it was too easy, but the creature suddenly stood up again and lashed out with its whip. The tip of the large tentacle smashed into Fitzgerald's chest, ripping open the armor. The Corporal yelped in surprise and fired blindly at the creature. Its various limbs fell off and eventually it died.
The other marines were facing similar problems. These new grotesques would go down, and then suddenly come back up. A single whip creature killed two marines by beheading both of them. Not only that, the whip creatures proved to be a distraction for the tentacle balls, which latched themselves onto occupied marines. Fitzgerald punched a tentacle ball in the air as it came at him, and then fired his assault rifle again. A nearby marine private screamed as his arm was ripped off. He fell, clutching his open wound as blood squirted out. This seemed to attract the tentacle balls, since a large tidal wave of them jumped at the private. Fitzgerald heard muffled screams and could see his legs and arms flail around as the little infection forms killed him. Sergeant McGrath knocked down a nearby whip creature, and then looked around him.
"Fall back! Fall back god damnit!" he yelled. Fitzgerald nodded.
"Let's get out of here!" he yelled, grabbing a nearby private and pulling him away from the carnage. Several wounded marines screamed for help, but the infection balls got to most of them first. Fitzgerald grabbed a private who was missing part of his shoulder. His whole arm dangled loosely, until it finally fell off. Two other marines were rescued, but the others were taken by the enemy. The whip creatures chased after them, firing the assault rifles they had acquired from the dead. A marine took a bullet to the back of his neck. He fell forward, sending the wounded marine he was carrying flying into the wall. Bullets flew all around them as the creatures chased them, using their own weapons against them. Several marines who weren't carrying anyone returned fire. Fitzgerald handed the wounded marine he was carrying to someone else, and then helped out the three marines firing at the creatures. As the other marines ran by, a bullet caught a private in the throat. He fell over, trying to scream, but his vocal cords were gone. He rolled back and forth, blood flowing from the wound. Fitzgerald paused to look, but a bullet pinged off his armor. He winced, but returned fire. Sergeant McGrath appeared in the entranceway.
"Let's move it marines!" he yelled. Fitzgerald nodded and ran after him. The other two marines followed, but as the last one ran, a successful three round burst slammed into his head. The marine didn't even scream and simply fell to the ground. The private who got hit in the throat was dead already. All David could think about was running. He, McGrath and the other private ran after the rest of the squad, the creatures right behind them. As they rounded the corner, the enemy appeared and fired. The private took a round to his neck. His body slammed into the wall and slide onto the ground. McGrath and Fitzgerald were alone and running for their lives. They eventually reached the main hall they had came from and made a beeline for the blockade. The other marines were already setting it up. They fired at the creatures behind them. Fitzgerald pumped his legs and arms and sped up. He literally dove over a nearby blockade and skidded along the floor, exhausted. The Sergeant did the same, but a single bullet caught him in the leg. He grunted, and quickly held his wound as he landed on the floor. A marine private quickly shut the door and watched as the creatures tried to scramble through. A single infection form was successful and grabbed hold of a Corporal. The man whoever stayed calm and ripped the thing off, popping it with his hands.
Fitzgerald was breathed heavily and was raised from the floor. McGrath was taken to a corner, where the other wounded were. Fitzgerald could see remnants of team two standing around, many of them covered in blood. Another security detail had arrived. Sergeant George O'Flaherty nodded at all of them.
"Good effort, but this new enemy has proven to be stronger than we expected. Security blockades all around the engineering deck are reporting sightings of these creatures and are under constant attack. Nevertheless, survival is going to be a big issue here. Get some rest; we have a few long days ahead of us..."
TO BE CONTINUED
By: Agent Shade