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The Long Ride Home 4: The Renegade Faction
Posted By: Joshua Barreto<jrunfire@yahoo.com>
Date: 20 April 2002, 3:41 am

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     After the Master Chief finished his meal, his 4 Elite escort brought him to a small, dark conferencing room. It was about the size of his jail cell, but was rounded more. Then from the shadows a deep, resounding voice, that had echoes, started to speak.
     "Cyborg, we are the Council, Tactical Planner of Operations for the Fleet Kir'Dun. We are now heading for what is believed to be a Flood infested military installation. We have observed and gathered data regarding the flood and their behavior, from the little bit of recording from your vessel's VIDCAM before you abandoned its station."
     He didn't know that they captured the Longsword. It's a good thing that Cole Protocol caused the purging of its navigation data, or else everything hat happened to him, would be for nothing. He would've lost.
     They began playing the VIDCAM's recordings on a holoscreen before him. It was the same chaotic sight he had seen before boarding it, on the Pillar of Autumn.
     It started out with snow, then an explosion triggered its auto record activation system. The hangar came alive with movement. Flood warriors were getting shot by Shade guns, only to return fire ten times over. Swarm after swarm of flood warriors filled the hangar, firing rockets and plasma rifles, or whatever their host had been carrying. An Elite was seen flying through the air, as a result fo three flood warriors smacking him with their whip like limbs, and grunts trying to run away were instinctively chased down and mercilessly slain. Then he saw a Warthog at the far end coming in through an access tunnel. It was himself, and he stepped out of the vehicle once it stopped. Everywhere he looked were explosions, rounds of plasma or machine gun fire. He shot an oncoming infected Elite with his shotgun, after a few warriors, the gun went empty. He immediately switched to his rocket launcher and shot it at a group of the flood. He boarded the Longsword and it began to lift off. After he left the hangar the recording froze.
     "What is it about this weapon that makes it so effective against the flood?"
     The holoscreen showed the shotgun up close, rotating. Then a flash from the recording showed how each shot took out the flood. Each warrior that confronted the Chief immediately went down from the gun's discharge.
     "The Council demands knowledge, regarding the technology for this weapon. How does it work? What does it fire? Explain cyborg."
     The Master Chief thought about the situation. He wanted to know exactly where he stood in the scheme of things.
     "What if I don't tell you?"
     "It is unacceptable. You shall give us the answers we demand, or we shall easily slay you. Then we shall derive the knowledge from your 'AI Construct' from within your helmet."
     "She won't have any answers once you kill me."
     That statement was followed by a few moments of silence. He was right, Cortana contained a self-purging sequence that initiated once his life signs had ceased to exist. He knew that they must've known this. He had the upperhand in this argument.
     "Very well. The Council has decided the terms of knowledge exchange. You shall give us information, and we shall free you. Of course, your freedom will only mean that you are to be enlisted into our forces. There are no passengers on a Covenant BattleCruiser, only warriors.
     The energy bands around his arms and thighs were deactivated. His energy shield was recharged, and they gave him another battery cell for a more powerful shield.
     "We have provided you with a stronger defensive shield. You now have the priveleges of a covenant warrior. It is now your half of the bargain that must be paid."
     An hour went by, as he gave them the details of the shotgun, what exactly the shells had inside and how much power it gave. He was dismissed after that.
     Four Elites in silver armor came to him, surrounded him and led him to a locker room where other Elites were suiting up, and charging their shields. As he walked by them, they would all snarl and snap their menacing jaws at him.
     "Warriors, we shall engage an enemy which have taken our fallen brothers' bodies and possessed them in an attempt to wipe us out."
     The voice was none other than Luthos. He was on the ship's intercom system.
     "What we must do also includes our responsibility, and duty to achieve all means possible to complete the objective at hand. With this in thought, our captive human has provided us with a weapon concept that can kill a Flood warrior in a single round. You shall holster your standard issued weapons to be replaced by a weapon known as a 'shotgun'. Details on its use and how to work its functions shall be provided en route to the military installation. The human shall fight by your side in this mission, so do not kill him. May the gods be with you, fight with honor!"
     After he finished his speech, the Elite warriors lined up in two long rows down the locker room. One of the silver Elites grabbed the Master Chief and put him in a spot. The two rows moved as one, putting their arms to their chests, and then roaring.
     "For duty, for honor, may the gods be pleased!"
     "Chief, I am reading a couple of other Covenant Cruisers contacting the commander. They don't seem to be in a friendly formation."

* * *

     Sixteen round vessels appeared in deep space, a couple hundred thousand kilometers from the Kir'Dun Fleet. The commander of that group asked to speak with Luthos.
     "Luthos, I am here to reason with you, old friend. Come, stop this campaign of yours. We have captured and slain the other traitors, and you'll follow in their fortune if you do not surrender the fleet at once. I promise, you'll be reinstated to full Command and resume the pursuit of the human race. Just surrender yourself, or die."
     Luthos snarled. He looked the advesary in the eyes on the panel in front of him.
     "Garun, if I am to die today, rest assured, it is not in vain. Others would surely take arms and carry my legacy, to destroy the monstrosity known as the Flood. The scourge of the universe multiplies at this very moment, and if they aren't destroyed now, they shall indeed consume our homeworlds. Why oppose me brother, if I pose no threat? Let me be, as I shall resume my duties once the ordeal is over. Our work can be divided so as to complete mulitple objectives. The humans are almost completely wiped out, then why pursue my allegiance to its cause, when you know it's already there? Leave me, I plead with you. We are brothers, and should not fight under the same gods of which we worship. If not, you shall face a death that even you could not envision."
     "Luthos, you fool! You and your other renegades shall surely meet your end!"
     After the talk, Luthos signalled to his weapons commander. Immediately, the control room was full of movement.
     "This vessel is to be alerted to full combat status. Arm our main Plasma Cannon. We will to not be denied our mission!"
     Again, the commander Garun, spoke to Luthos.
     "Luthos, don't be foolish! I'll destroy you! We outnumber your forces, and reinforcements are on the way! May your blasphemous ways carry you to hell!"
     The commander went offscreen as dim, hazel lights set the mood for battle in the control room. The battle fleet was filled with the movement of creatures rushing to their stations, their Seraph fighters or their dropships.

* * *

     "Cortana, what's the situation?"
     "There are 16 covenant vessels 30,000 kilos at our current 12. We're about to engage in battle. First attack should occur within 15 minutes."
     "Come with us human, our mission remains to be fulfilled."
     The silver Elite guided the Master Chief to wait with another Elite unit, on a platform in one of the hangars. As he looked on, he saw the Seraph fighters disengaging their magnetic clamps and hovering into formation within the hangar. An automatic door revealed stars and space, and the first four fighters shot out, followed by another group. Grunts and Jackals began boarding their Bandits, surprisingly, without any Elites. Rajihn, came to the Chief and growled at him.
     "Follow, Cyborg, this way."
     He was following a line of about 200 Elite warriors, all with a new weapon in hand. It had a long barrel, cylindrical in shape, and with the silver-blue sheen of a plasma rifle. It was the Covenant version of the shotgun. The weapons were handed down, and he finally got one, along with a magnetic sac for his hip. It contained 120 more shells for the gun. He looked at each shell, and was overtaken by the Covenant's improvisional skills. They managed to fill each one with the same metallic shards found in needlers. The casing was transparent, and the inside glowed with an orange substance that made the shards to float around in it. He pressed a button, and the barrel flipped open a latch, revealing the slot to insert each individual shell.
     "They made it exactly as I showed them. All that's needed now is if it works."
     "Genius, I wonder how much energy output each shell contains? Alert! The other fleet is within firing range, hold on to something Chief."

* * *

     The ship let go a burst of blue and white plasma streams. One of the other destroyers attempted to dodge the shot. It moved the side, but not fast enough for the tracing plasma stream. The shot curved and went right into the middle of the ship, causing the shields to die down in a flicker. The other shot followed it, and melted the entire hull, as it penetrated through. The explosion sent a wave of energy, along with its debris, in all directions of immediate space.
     Instantaneously, blue and green streams went back and forth between the Renegade fleet and the Battle group. Some ships dodged their enemies' fire, weaving side to side, or up and down. Some weren't lucky, and felt the white hot energy for a second, only to explode.
     After a few seconds, the firing ceased, only to recharge their cannons. Every vessel had a glowing white light concentrating on the front of it. From far, it looked like a bunch of small stars glowing in the distance.
     "What is our status, Poruin?" The commander was waiting for the bad news.
     "We lost three ships sir, all destroyers. A cruiser lost power from a hit, and is sitting dead in space. Their boarding crafts are heading our way, requesting permission to board us sir."
     "Send out our fighters to escort them here. I want four squadrons in flight, send them with a stealth Assasin, they are to go to the outer rim of our enemies' formation. Fire the main cannon on their commanding vessel when ready."
     "Sir!" The Elite pushed some commands on his holopanel, and continued his work.
     Another episode of the blue, white and green streams of energy filling the space between both parties continued. Luthos' ship moved up from its lateral position, barely missing a plasma stream. The intense heat caused the vessel's shields to shimmer.
     "Commander, our fighters our prepared to engage an enemy warship, the stealth Assassin is armed as well. Suggestions?"
     Luthos thought out a strategy in a split second.
     "Have two squadrons attack Garun's ship, when the Stealth Assassin has a chance, tell the crew to destroy it. Let the rest of the squadrons get rid of any opposing threat in the vicinity of the vessel."
     The renegade fighters did exactly as told. Garun's flagship had faced off with the two squadrons, distracting it from the small vessel known as the Stealth Assassin to come up behind it. The ship was smaller than a cruiser, but had abundant power for cloaking, pinpoint maneuvering, and charging its main cannon all at once. This gave it its deadly advantage. It was also capable of deepspace travel on its own, which is why it was usually used as a scout. It slowly materialized behind the Flagship of Garun.
     "Commander Garun, stealth assassin armed and behind us sir! They are preparing to fire!"
     The commander could do nothing, at this range, it was too late.
     "GRRRRAAAAAARRGHHH!! Traitors all of you!!"
     His howls weren't heard as the ship was consumed with fire. The plasma beam had entered the main reactor of the vessel, and caused an immediate explosion thoughout the ship. The erupting explosions were as geysers, ripping through metal and space. Immediately the Stealth Assassin was faced with two destroyers and three cruisers. The ships turned around and faced the ship, and began charging their cannons. This was the stealth assassin's cue to leave. It went into cloak mode, then it pinpoint manuevered out of the enemy formation.
     "Dominus, contact the Assassin, tell them to move 300 kilometers toward us. Initiate a lock on the destroyers, and tell the rest of our company to do likewise. Fire when ready."
     The Assassin did as was commanded, and then a plasma beam shot past it to one of the destroyers that was pursuing it. The ship spun uncontrollably into another, causing the other destroyer to release its charged energy into one of the battle cruisers. Three ships went up in flames. The Assassin continued its course, until it was within the docking bay of Luthos' ship.
     Suddenly the Kir'Dun were face to face with their enemy. Each cruiser and destroyer and carrier used pinpoint manuevering in slipspace to close the 30,000 kilometer gap. This made them merely a thousand or so kilometers from the Fleet. Luthos didn't like this, it was dangerously close, and he still had to get out of there to the military installation.
     "Dominus, prepare for speed travel to military installation, Vilo. Inform our brothers of the manuever. I want to leave within three clics."
     The ships fired at each other furiously, causing floating behemoths of sparks and blazing balls of fire. Seraph fighters chased one another, spilling rounds of small azure bursts of energy at each other. Some that were shot down went careening into other fighters, or their mother vessels. The spectacle made small sparks and flashes on each Covenant ship this would happen to.
     "Sir, I am reading another incoming fleet. We only have five or six vessels left sir, and they have about seven or eight here already.
     "Let's move on."
     The renegade fleet, now only consisting of a mere five or six ships slowly dissolved and disappeared into space. The remaining enemy of the Kir'Dun regrouped and attempted pursuit. They didn't have a lock on any of their prey, so they ended up galaxies or planetary systems away. The reinforcements came in to a space field of flames and a few fighters still in combat. One badly damaged cruiser, contacted the leader and informed him of the incident.

* * *

     "Cortana, what just happened?"
     "Analyzing...We're now in orbit around a military installation once occupied by the Covenant. The Council is deciding on a course of action, one to deal with the Flood, and another to regain control of the station. We were in one rough battle chief. They lost six ships altogether: two cruisers, three carriers and a destroyer. The Kir'Dun are susceptible to invasion by another opposing fleet, since they have little to no individual fighter protection."
     Ten Bandits lined up to the platform that the Chief and the Elites were on. Their side hatches opened, and the chief followed the other Elites aboard one of the crafts. He sat next to Rajihn, who, it seemed now, was his watcher.
     A deep, gruff voice came over the craft's intercom, detailing thier mission. As he began to speak, holoscreens with a map of the installation lit up in front of the soldiers.

"Entry point is here. Mission objectives:
Make your way into the central part of the installation.
Find the head, destroy it.
Find the right hand, destroy it.
Find the heart, destroy it.
Extraction point is here. Delay in the mission results in abandonment.
Death is honorable, cowardice displeases the gods.
10 clics and closing until arrival of entry point"

     The holoscreen turned off. The Bandit was now entering vaccuum. Its engines roared to life as it proceeded toward the installation. The Master Chief wanted to see what it was like, for it was the first time he'd see a Covenant military base.
     "Did you get all of that Cortana?"
     "Yes Chief. I now have the entire base's structural data within my memory. Already developing a route of escape. I am now hacking into the installation's network. Chief, defense turrets are locking in on us!"
     A rain of explosions showered around as Bandits took shots from the point defense systems of the military installation. The Flood had found a way to control the base's systems. The Covenant dropships continued to take punishment.
     "Take this human."
     Rajihn handed him a cell that was transparent. He attached it to his thigh, and went into cloack mode. The Elites around him did likewise. A loud explosion shook the craft as a voice came on again.
     "Three clics until arrival of entry point. Prepare for battle."
     The vibrations and bumps were getting more intense. Suddenly, latches in front of the Master Chief let a small puff of air out as the hatch began to open. The other Elites had already landed and were making their way into a large building, firing on creatures in the distance. The Bandits lifted off, being released from their burdens that they birthed on the land. The Elites made their way across the brown sands of the landscape, toward their target. It was moonbase, with structures that resemble those to Halo. In the distance, the Chief could barely make out a round purple whale like vessel. He had no time to stare at it, he was in the middle of battle.
     A couple of Banshees flew overhead, giving some good air support, and ground assault was enhanced by a couple of wraiths. Something made the Chief feel uneasy as he took cover from the oncoming fire from the flood. The flood warriors were tossing grenades, dodging fire, and taking cover. A flood warrior jumped up on a dirt mound and motioned, causing a bunch of them to follow him towards the Covenant forces.
     "Chief, why are you slowing your advance?" Cortana obviously didn't see what the Chief saw. They were behaving differently, so much that the Master Chief couldn't help but notice.
     "Because they're using battlefield tactics."