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Operation False Prophets, Chapter Three: Eight Gauge Hippo
Posted By: Ian Barnes<panzerschreck15@netscape.net>
Date: 28 February 2002, 1:40 am

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     John jolted inside the ventilation shaft as the Covenant stealth ship glided toward the docking station, and docking clamps extended and latched onto the NightCloak. John sighed, it would be considerably harder getting out of the ship than it was getting on. The aliens onboard undoubtedly knew something was up, now that there was a hole in their ship, and a bridge full of dead grunts. The Master Chief only had one option: Kill any of them that got in his way. He couldn't wait for them all to get offboard, because they would either alert reinforcements, or leave the station again, making his entire foray into Covnant space a complete waste. He had to act now. John retrieved a fiberoptic probe out of the vent, and looked into the hallway that leads to the bridge. There were several Jackals patrolling, along with one Elite Major. Plus he had to deal with the two Elites on the bridge. He didn't have time to be discreet.
     John hefted his Jackhammer, and hooked his feet around the grate. He swung upside down into the bridge and quickly emptied the two rockets at the Jackals and Elite in the hallway. The first rocket struck the floor in the middle of the Jackals, killing them all, and leaving a gaping whole in the floor. The second rocket had to be perfect, and it was. The rocket struck the Elite in the stomach, killing it instantly. By this time, the two Stealth Elites who hadn't been invisible for some time had noticed John's hiding spot. It would be only seconds before they fully comprehended the situation and opened fire. He had to be fast. Unhooking his feet, John did a half of a backflip down from the ceiling, landing on his feet.
     John was still holding the Jackhammer, and needed a distraction to give him time to produce his shotgun from his gear. He threw the launcher at one of the Elites, which did nothing but buy him time. As the Chief charged one of the Elites he took the whole situation in. One Elite was directly in front of him, while the other was to his right.. As John ran, he passed the odd floating scientist, he gave it a swift left hook to the face while his right hand retrieved his shotgun. The "Floater" fell to the deck, unconscious. While charging the first Elite, John continued to hold the M90 with only his right hand. As he reached the first Elite, it had just begun to raise its weapon. John kicked with his foot to the Elite's stomach, and the shield flickered and died. Simultaneously, John leveled his right arm and fired one round at the Elite to his right. Its shield flickered and died, and some of the round tore into its stomach. It dropped to all fours and began screeching in pain.
     Following the shotgun blast, John swung the M90 across his chest, hitting the first shiedless Elite in the skull. He heard the horrible crunching noise of skull bones cracking.     John primed the shotgun and returned to the second Elite, and fired one more round into its skull. Blood sprayed and the Elite went limp. The whole battle had lasted six seconds.
     "Cortana!" John yelled. "Seal off the bridge!"
     Cortana complied and the bridge door hissed and shut. John had fired four rounds of his shotgun. He reached into his pack and retrieved four shells. He smiled as he looked them over. SOELLKRAFT INC. On the body of the shell was a Hippo smiling at him. John couldn't help but smile back. As long as the shells killed Covenant, they could be pink and polka dotted, he didn't care. He loaded the four shells and primed the shotgun. He placed it on the ground and went to retrieve the Jackhammer. He had two more rockets which he loaded into the launcher. He hoped he wouldn't have to use them. The Master Chief went to the computer and retrieved Cortana and inserted her into his helmet.
     "Welcome back." John stated coldly. He couldn't be happy right now, but he could appreciate the cool, liquid sensation Cortana had once inside his head.
     "Chief, during your battle, I accessed the Covenant BattleNet. There's a small troop dropship docked at the station. It's scheduled to leave in ten minutes, and I hear the pilots sick and they need a replacement."
     "Understood. I'll be there in ten minutes."
     John grinned, if Cortana had a face, he knew she'd be grinning. As Doctor Halsey once said, "You may have to allow for behavioral quirks."
     "Cortana, what is the best way out of here?"
     "Back the way we came, and through the hole you blew in the floor a few seconds ago. After a couple hallways, it should lead us directly to the airlock which connects the ship to the station."
     The Master Chief nodded. He strapped the Jackhammer to his back, and hefted his shotgun. He also took a few seconds to search the Elites for grenades. He found three and stowed them. John walked to the bridge door, and tapped the key to open it. The door opened and John quickly checked the hallway for Covenant. No movement, everything he had killed before was still dead. John walked to the hole in the floor, and peered into it. A Grunt was standing there below him, head cocked to one side quizzically, staring up at the hole, making noises of confusion. John quickly leapt through the hole, right onto the grunt, crushing it. The Master Chief quickly checked both ends of the hallway, and when he was satisfied there were no more enemies, he went down the way the NAV pointer told him, to the left.
     After following that hallway for twenty meters, he came to another corner. He turned it and found himself face to face with a Commander Elite, who looked like he was walking towards the bridge. He drew back a step in surprise. That one hesistation cost the Elite its life. John jammed his knee into the Elite's stomach, the a double-handed strike from the shotgun and the Elite's shields flickered and went dead. Not having time to bring his arms back for another strike, John head-butted the Elite, and bones crunched. The Elite slumped against the wall, dead.
     John had already used two minutes, and he wasn't even off the ship yet. He sprinted down the hallways, kicking and punching several grunts on his way. He finally made it to the airlock and cycled through it. He was on the space station.
     As he stepped into the hallway of the station, John's shoulders slumped. More purple. He looked left and right. The NAV marker pointed left.
     "Cortana, distance to target?"
     "Two hundred meters. You have five minutes. Hurry."
     John ran down the hallways, surprisingly there was no resistance. The NightCloak must not have alerted the station yet. He ran to the dropship's airlock. There were two doors, one led to the section for passengers, while the other led to the pilot's chair. John walked through the airlock for the pilot. Seated already was an Elite running a diagnostic check of the ship, or what he thought was an Elite. It was similar in size and shape, but wore green armor, and the head was more elongated, and it appeared to have no weapon or shields. John decided he had seen enough, and crushed the back of the pilot's skull with his shotgun. As Sergeant Johnson used to say, "To me, they're all just god damn bugs."
John inserted Cortana into the computer.
     "Don't worry Chief, I can take us down. Apparently we're carrying a squad of Elites down to the surface for debriefing. We need to make sure they don't report anything. Think of something."
     John eyed a lever to the left of the pilot's chair.
     "Cortana, what's this lever do?"
     "Opens the doors on the dropship. Why?"
     "I think I know how to take care of our bug problem. Take us down to the surface, preferably somewhere remote. I'd rather blow our cover landing somewhere remote, than somewhere suburban and have to deal with an army, and blow our cover anyway."
     The dropship shook as it pulled away from the station. After several seconds, John pulled the lever and looked out the rear window. Eight Elites flailed furiously as they died.
     During their descent, the Master Chief spotted several cruisers patrolling, as well as large orbital plasma cannons, and several orbital plasma torpedo launchers. No, John definitely didn't want to draw attention here. He couldn't imagine how many Covenant troops occupied this planet. He didn't want to think about it.
     The dropship passed through the atmosphere, and exposed lush forests, vast clear, blue oceans and immense cities, with buildings which stretched thousands of meters into the air.
     "Cortana, take us down outside this city," As John pointed to a topographical map.
     "We'll have to do some exploring from there."
     Floating vehicles which reminded John of cars filled the air forming floating highways. Innocent Civilians. Not all Covenant were cold blooded murderers, but that didn't mean they shouldn't be treated like ones.