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Operation False Prophets, Chapter Eight: The Lights are On, But No One is Home
Posted By: Ian Barnes<panzerschreck15@netscape.net>
Date: 14 April 2002, 8:34 pm

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      John walked from the Prophet's control room, and turned left. In front of him was a door which supposedly led to the Prophet's quarters. John pressed a green holo-button to open the door. The panel beeped and chirped at him. Locked.
      John decided to try a different method. John drew back his fist and "knocked" on the Prophet's door. The meter thick door clanged to the ground. The Master Chief stepped inside and cautiously panned his plasma rifle across the room. Empty. Holos adorned the walls, pictures of the Prophets. They were enormous, or so they seemed. They were huge beasts, who floated above the ground much like the Covenant Scientists, only without the bubbles which kept them afloat. Were they truly the powerful aliens the Covenant thought them to be? John began to feel slightly nervous.
      The room seemed cozy, lavish furniture was set everywhere. This room seemed to have everything, even a doorway with writing on it, which translated into English as "Escape Shuttle." John managed a smile.
      But the room was missing one thing, these supposed Prophets. John was about to leave, and search the other room, when he noticed a stairwell in the corner, tucked away from view. John crept towards it, and could hear chittering and barking, almost similar to Grunts, on the floor above him. With a deep breath, John charged up the stairs, expecting to find huge behemoths, but instead found something much different.
      Sitting at what seemed to be even more control panels were creatures who resembled Grunts. but without their tanks of methane and breathing masks. They yelped when they noticed the giant, green intruder in the room. The nearest one began to reach under a control panel. John had to act, he was either reaching for a gun or an alarm, and either way, it was bad news. The Master Chief took aim and fired. A plasma bolt seared the Prophet's hand off from the elbow down.
      The Prophets need to be alive, ONI never said anything about wounding them.
      Despite missing half its arm, the Prophet was not bleeding, and would not need to be tended to. That was the one upside of Plasma, no bleeding. The wound was immediately cauterized.
      John spied in the corner, two immense exoskeletons. They truly were False Prophets. They had managed to trick billions, maybe even trillions into following their will. John could only imagine what the Covenant would do to these pathetic creatures if they ever found out. But John needed to make sure that didn't happen, yet.
      Waving his Plasma Rifle, he ordered the two Prophets to don their exoskeletons, and proceed back downstairs. The two aliens seemed confused, astounded even, how this lone being had gotten past easily the best troops in the entire Covenant Navy.
      John ordered them to halt in front of the original control room he had been in minutes before. How could he give them instructions? Or could he just have Cortana do it? The Spartan ushered the creatures into the room, and spoke.
      "Cortana, is there a self-destruct for this facility?"
      "Wait a moment, yes. But the timer is unchangeable. It's set to one minute, not enough time to get out of here. Whatever you're thinking, don't do it. Remember, we have to get out of here alive."
      "Cortana, I'm going to go secure our ride, and when I come back, start the self-destruct and we'll get out of here."
      "Wait, what ri-?"
      The Chief ignored her and walked out of the room, and found the door leading to the shuttle. He touched the holo-panel and the door hissed open. He entered, and the Prophets followed obediently. A long hallway led to another door, and it was locked.
      John turned and motioned for one of the aliens to open it. They obeyed, and one reached forward with a mechanical arm, typed in some characters, and the door opened.
      The trio stepped in. John panned left to right. This was more than escape shuttle, it was a luxury yacht. The floors were covered in some sort of animal fur, many chairs and tables sat scattered around. This ship could easily hold several hundred people. Except John knew the Prophets would never use it to help other Covenant escape. This was all for them. John motioned the Prophets inside, and on his right, he found what looked to be some sort of cryo-tube, and on his left, another. He opened them, and ordered the Prophets in. If they were anything like human ones, they couldn't be opened from inside.
      The Master Chief retraced his steps back to the Control Room, and entered.
      "All right Cortana, do it."
      Cortana let out a sigh of frustration. "All right, it's done, now get me out of here and move!"
      John unplugged Cortana and raced back outside the room.
      "Stop!" Cortana Yelled. "I'm detecting movement in here, you weren't followed were you?"
      John shrugged, quickly gazed across the room, then kept running. He ran through the first door, then the hallway, then the second door. He entered the ship and ran to the cockpit. John found and spotted the slot for Cortana and put her in it.
      "Chief, we have thirty seconds, it's gonna get close. Doing this twice in the last few days is not my idea of fun."
      John couldn't help but grin.
      Because the cockpit was confined from the rest of the ship, they never saw John's shadow run aboard, hefting MA5B Assault Rifle in one hand and an M6D pistol in the other. It ran to the back of the ship, and hid behind some of the couches. The Prophets, not yet asleep, saw all of this, astounded. Another? After ordering their Navy to exterminate those creatures, there's more than one left alive!
      The ship's engines rumbled to life, and it shot upwards, away from the immense underground complex. The Covenant vessel sped from the planet, and John was able to witness the detonation from orbit. It was immense. The blast had wiped out hundreds of thousands of square miles. That facility had been enormous. Now, this Covenant home world was missing a sizable chunk of its crust. John wondered how many Covenant had died. But that didn't matter. It was nowhere near how many humans the Covenant had killed.
      John glanced out one of the windows. Covenant space was a flurry of activity. Cruisers were breaking orbit, drop ships were being deployed by the thousands to the surface, and small ships were being deployed, and one headed straight for John.
      "Chief, we have a problem"
      "I know, boarding parties. Their precious Prophets are missing, and they're getting nervous."
      The Covenant ship drifted closer and closer, and started barking orders through the COM. Cortana somehow managed to send transmissions back in their own language. John wasn't sure where she'd picked it up.
      What felt like hours later, the hull made a resounding thump as the boarding craft attached itself to John's ship. John exited the cockpit, and headed to the airlock, Plasma Rifle in one hand, Plasma Sword in the other. The airlock hissed, and two Special Operations Elites ran into the room. John didn't make a noise as he dropped from where he had been hanging to the ceiling. His blade powered up, and John swung. One Elite spun just in time to greet the blade.
      The second Elite dove for cover, and John could hear him barking for reinforcements. John took a second to compose himself, and took a deep breath.
      The Elite leaped from his hiding place, and John hurled the sword at it. It impaled the Elite's kneecap, and it fell to the ground.
      Not what I was going for.
      The Elite removed the blade, but strangely, instead of using it, tossed it aside. John continued to hold his Plasma Rifle, but unslung his M90, and gripped it with the other hand. The Elite fired off half a dozen blasts at John, all of which impacted him. His shields died, and the Master Chief dove for cover as another half dozen bolts of plasma whizzed over his head.
      John waited several seconds for his shields to recover, and rose, expecting to find an Elite. But, it was gone. John walked through the room, and found the Elite, dead. Its neck was tilted at an angle that didn't look too healthy.
      Concerned, John glanced around the room, and saw no one. He could already hear the barking and chittering of Grunts coming through the airlock, accompanied by several Elites. John opened the door to the airlock, and glanced down the tube. A dozen Covenant came streaming in.
      John primed a fragmentation grenade, tossed it inside, and closed the airlock door. A dull thump caused John's entire body to vibrate. Then, the tearing of metal. The grenade had torn apart the link between the two ships. Whoever hadn't died from the grenade was now going to die in space.
      "Cortana, does this ship have any weapons?"
      "Yes, but not a lot. Just a few pulse lasers, and a medium yield plasma torpedo launcher. Why?"
      "Fire everything we've got at that boarding craft. Try to at least set them reeling, then get us the hell out of here!"
      "Affirmative Chief."
      Several seconds later, John could hear the hissing, and whining as pulse lasers charged, then fired. Then, a noise almost like blowing on the top of a bottle, as a plasma torpedo streaked at the boarding craft.
      "Good job Cortana."
      "Enemy ship is disabled, wormhole generators are on-line, departure in twenty seconds."
      John returned to the cockpit, and sat down. A yellowish-greenish light enveloped the cockpit as the ship streamed through space.
In the rear of the ship, the Shadow rose, creeping with such stealth and deliberate slowness, it would not register on motion trackers. It crept to the cockpit, reached for the holo-panel, then hesitated. Then finally opened the door. It hissed open, and John sprang to his feet, Plasma Rifle in hand. He looked at the intruder, carefully. They both just stood there, taking in this momentous occasion. The two stood, staring at each other's olive green MJOLNIR armor, as if it was the most treasured thing in the universe. John started to snap a salute, but decided to instead, extend his arms and hug his old teammate. John couldn't keep the tears from streaming down his face, even though his training screamed at him not to cry.