Group3 - Chapter 2
Posted By: FoxHound<email@example.com>
Date: 01 March 2001, 4:55 PM
No-one knew who had built Leean Bridge, whether it was the founders of this ring world or the Covenant. We had certainly gained tremendous advances in engineering from it, much like the other alien structures around us we had found on our arrival. The material composition and construction methods of these enormous creations were unique, how long they had been standing there, we could only guess at. Like the canyons ahead of us, most of the ring world was yet unmapped in detail so we had no idea what lay before us.
"Night vision on" I said in a low voice reversing the jeep from the undergrowth and then slamming it into gear. Emerging from the broken edge of the forest Basis gave us good light and we could clearly see the colossal structure towering up towards the heavens. I gazed down to our left and saw the two Stegosaurs that had disturbed us earlier, now wallowing in the water, their bodies glistening in the moon light. Along to our right you could see the large river open up into a gigantic lake, stretching as far as the eye could see. The harsh white light from the night vision intensified the reflection of Basis on the waves as if someone had strewn a million diamonds across its surface. From the data we received in the transmission I knew we had a lot of distance to cover, some of which would have to be on foot. I had sketched a plan out in my head. We were going to drive deep into the hills, laying the moles as we went. If we had to get out in a hurry I wanted to know that we had done our jobs with the outer ones first then we could just concentrate on our escape. From what I could gather from the transmission the moles were to act as motion tracking sensors, relaying the position of the Covenant were they to try and confront Zulu squadron in the canyons. In truth, I had no idea what operational plans Zulu had.
This reminded me of a mission close to the time i meet Jahal, We had to layout what we called 'self healing' minefields, These mines have ultrasonic sensors and a piston driven foot, enabling them to hop 30 feet in the air. Again equipped with primitive neural network systems, they could detect the distance to neighboring mines, sense when some were missing and leap around until the un-penetrable pattern is re-established again, they had been very effective in the early conflicts and I presume the ones we were to lay were a new type. I just hoped they would be as successful.
The jeep hit the edge of the stone bridge, the tyres making a 'humming' noise as they ran over the smooth stone surface of the construct. I didn't hang around on the bridge as we would be sitting ducks if spotted. I was surprised we had seen no Covenant tonight, this was an area renowned for activity particularly at night. We reached the other side of the bridge in no time, my eyes fixed on the rocky hills in front of us. The terrain changed from the loam of the forest to loose stones and shingle, there were piles of it at the entrances to the canyons, yet the walls looked so smooth on the surface from a distance. With there close proximity to the lake it wouldn't have suprised me if they had once held water, maybe as part of an ocean, who knows?
As we crossed the other side of the bridge I headed the jeep towards the entrance of the canyons. "Jal, take 2 moles and meet me 600 meters east of here in 20 minutes, take one of them 200 meters deeper into the canyon and watch your back,". "aye" he replied as I veered the jeep to the edge of some shrubs and tall grass. Jal rolled out of the jeep and disappeared into the undergrowth. Looking down at the terminal I realised I had to drive Kry for about a mile east if we were to cover the area specified in the transmission. Through the NV I could see the edge of these canyons spanning out in front of me like some sort of organic creature, the rocks were so flushed and smooth, yet they looked like rock and certainly had the presence of rock. I couldn't work out where the mounds of shingle had come from at each entrance and dotted about inside. I thought the NV was possibly playing up or maybe I was just scaring myself and seeing what I was feeling. I shook the thoughts from my mind and drove close to the entrances trying to keep the Hog within the shadows and out of the bright light of Basis. "Kry your next, get your butt up here". Kry leapt from the rear mounting into the front seat, unhooked his sniper rifle from the jeep and slung it over his shoulder. "Same plan" I said, "put one in here and another 200 hundred meters in, meet me and Jal 600 meters back west of here, and don't get yourself into any contact Kry, we've got allot to do tonight". Kry leapt from the jeep without a word, I could feel the release in the suspension as he jumped from the Hog. Sliding the jeep round giving it some more gas spinning it to face the way we had just come, I took off. I was going to take the middle section. Once Jal and Kry had returned we would head further into the deeper regions together. I parked the jeep under an overhang of rock, It would give it good cover if any covie scouts flew over. Checking the terminal, the map showed me where I was to lay my moles and also the six to be layered after. These were to run down a further two gullies about 100 meters from my drop point. That was bad, It meant we might have to split up if there were any hold ups. I checked the time, I had ten minutes to sort mine out, plenty of time. Looking down the massive and dark, almost tunnel shaped canyons was terrorfying. I felt caged with the massive smooth faces of rock disappearing up into the night, there was certainly nowhere to run if we did engage and I didn't like the feeling of being trapped. "Right lets do this" I muttered to myself. I picked up the two moles and ran along the bottom of the canyon wall, dropping one near the entrance to the canyon, it lay there for a second and then started to burrow into the ground, it was gone in a second or two. I walked on into the darkness and without warning I felt a rush of cool wind come from within the canyons, dust was being kicking up, leaves and dead debris were being spun into small squalls all around me, I could feel the wind gather pace and before too long it had become a full blown wind storm. Even with the NV goggles on, the amount of debris was starting to hinder and break up visability. The canyons were renowned for these freak weather conditions, always high winds, normally charged with some sort of ion energy that knocked out most types of communication systems. I figured this is where 'us' and the moles came into play. No one knew why this phenomena happened. The theories spoke of the canyons channeling the winds, increasing their speeds and velocity but the same sources for these theories also spoke of the Covenant using the high winds as a slingshot for their airborne brigades. In the early years of our arrival they had used these with devastating effect. These 'sudden strikes' came without warning and without remmorse, our forces stood little or no chance. Whether it was coincidence or not that they attacked during the later stages of the storms, and therefore could possibly control the weather conditions within the canyons, we still hadn't figured out. With one just storm starting up, I wanted to get this job over and done with as quick as possible and get the hell out. I nervously looked around, tasting the beads of sweat running down my face into the corners of my mouth. I wiped my face on the sleeve of my jacket. The adrenaline pumping through my body was making my mind rush. I activated the second mole and dropped it on the rocky floor below. The LED's flashed for a couple of seconds signaling the activation of it's neural network and then it just disappeared. By the time I was on my way back to the jeep the visibility around me had dropped considerably, the winds were whipping up what felt like mountains of dirt and shingle all around. I starting to feel a little disorientated as I thought about the other two and if they were experiencing the same situation. Jal would be ok but if the storms were reaching Kry he might have some difficulty in finding his way back to the jeep. He had only done a handful of under cover Ops before. I know for a fact that not many had been through these canyons. I remembered the jokes we used to play on him about being big and ugly enough to look after himself, and forced a smile. Sure that was true on the field but this was something different, for us all. I got myself against the towering wall of the canyon and managed to claw my way back along to the jeep. Jal was there waiting, I could see he had just arrived, he was both out of breath and surprised to see me.
Jal motioned to speak to me, trying to shout over the level of noise the winds created, "Where's Kry", leaning his head towards me trying to make out my response, "I dropped him off after you, he should be here any minute," I shouted trying to keep my balance from the force of the wind holding myself steady on the Hog. "Lets get in" I suggested. The jeep offered some shelter from the winds, at least we could hear each other speak. Jahal then mentioned that he had seen a Covenant recon patrol, they had gone up river, thankfully in the opposite direction to where we were heading up towards the Fanwoun Plains. I just hoped they stayed up there long enough for us to get out of this hell hole "Shit man, where the hell is he?" I said looking through the windscreen into the haze outside. I tired the squad comm link then flicked on the console in the jeep, just to see if there were any signals. There was nothing, nothing except the dry crackle of the damn energy storm, all communication in our vicinity were dead, for the time being anyway. I again looked out of the windscreen..." there", shouted Jal, "there's Kry" I looked out and saw the outline of his big frame looming up through the jeeps windscreen. "Holly shit this place is a friggin nightmare come real" he said. peering in over the wind shield "Get in" I said, "once this dust's down we're gonna finish this off and get the hell out of here". "Next drop off is about a 600-800 meters in," I shouted. "You gotta be kiddin me man" Kry questioned, "we can't even see our dicks in this weather, how the hell are we gonna find the drop off man". He was right, this was madness but we had our orders, I would loose my squad command for sure if we headed back now, even though at times it felt a better option... But then we were doing this for a reason, and it was called Zulu squadron, and anyway they were the last people I wanted to turn my back on! "Get back on that gun!" I yelled to Kry, "and keep your fuckin' mind on the job not on your dick for a change!", snapping back at him. "Jal you take point and keep within arms reach of the vehicle, keep it slow". "Lets just get this over with" I said "we lay these 6 moles and we get the hell outta here, ok". They both looked at me for a second and then moved, I started up the jeep. Our whole situation was starting to feel uneasy now, even I was starting to question what we were doing here, the lads were feeling as anxious as I was and they knew I felt as confused as them. I rolled the jeep from under the overhang of rock and we moved off slowly into the darkness of the canyons. We passed my first drop off point where I had put down the mole earlier. Jal came up to the side and leaned towards me shouting "we got a right turn coming up ahead, there's a load of rock on the left so keep to the inside of the bend". I looked to the front and just managed to see the wall edge. I felt like I had about 5 yards visibility 10 at the most. Moving the jeep across I hugged the inside of the turn. Once we had turned the corner visibility suddenly became clearer and the dust just dropped and settled in front of our eyes. Just as the winds had risen so rapidly, they fell into nothing. Jal came around to the window with a look of bewilderment, "sheez man, this is some strange place. I've seen a lot of shit before but nothing like this " . "I think that goes for us all Jal" I said. "Lets get going, we got a 4 or 5 minute drive so keep you eyes open for those blueys". We soon came to the fork where we either split up or went on as one. The initial storm had caused us some delay but by my calculations we still had time to do both of these last gorges together. It was going to be close, if another storm started and we were this deep in we had no chance of finding our way back out again, we would just have to sit it out, even worse if we had to move for some reason we could get lost. Leaning out of the jeep I motioned over to Jal who had moved off to the opposite side "hold up , just going to check the map", I looked up at Jal as he crouched down picking up some of the dirt, lifting it to his face and smelling it, then slowly rubbing it through his fingers as he let it fall. Lifting his NV goggles up onto his forehead he looked up at the top ridges and the sky above. He looked uneasy as if he sensed there was something not right. "what is it?" I said. "I dunno sir, it feels like we're being watched". "Kry, top ridges" I said immediatly. Kry slung the rifle off his back and into the firing position in one fluid motion, aiming the scope along the top edge of the canyon, moving the scope slowly along on both sides. "Nothing, nothing but rock" he said. I looked at Jal "I can't explain it", he said glancing over his shoulder, "it's close, real close".