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The Long Ride Home 5: The Invasion of VILO
Posted By: Joshua Barreto<jrunfire@yahoo.com>
Date: 21 April 2002, 3:47 am

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     These Flood warriors were moving methodically, advancing closer and closer to the Covenant positions. Six Banshees had been shot down, and two wraiths destroyed.
     "This is ground assault forces, repeat, ground assault forces to mother. We request reinforcements, these creatures have fortified themselves well."
     The Chief knew how they were moving. It was very familiar to him. They had the same formations he had seen in battle countless times. It was Covenant. He tossed a few grenades around the ones who were leading the others. Other Elites moved in, clearing their hiding spots and going berserk on the creatures. There were only about 70 Elite soldiers left. Then 20 dropships delivered another load of troops. They were jackals and grunts, attempting to flank the monsters. A huge explosion sent hundreds of flood flying from the back of the immediate fronts. Elites had gone in, cloaked, and set of explosives with plasma mines and the such. Plasma mortars created gaps between the flood ranks. But it wasn't enough to hold them back. Hundreds upon hundreds came rushing out of the distant structure. Shots were everywhere, it was all out war. There was a river of Covenant dropships washing down from the fleet in orbit, dropping off troops into the battle. The Chief was now only a kilometer away from the structure, and saw its exact height.
     "Cortana, pinpoint the nearest mode of transportation for me."
     "Will do Chief. What are you planning?"
     "I'm thinking about getting into that complex. It must have vital information on the Covies and their homeworlds. We could possibly even get a nav. log or something."
     "There, that Bandit is dropping off a couple of Banshees."
     "Thanks Cortana."
     "Chief, I don't think the Covenant are just going to let you use it."
     "I wasn't going to ask for permission."
     An explosion sent the Chief hurtling to the ground. A flood warrior jumped in front of him. He pulled the trigger to his new gun, and a large burst of energy with little white sparks sent it flying.
     "This version of the shotgun is a lot more powerful than my version."
     He moved on, and saw the Banshees. A couple of Elites were fighting off the flood, which kept them from piloting the vehicles. He slid down the dirt mound he was on, and began to sprint. He covered the 400 meter distance within 48 seconds. One of the silver Elites saw him and charged.
     "Human! What are you doing?!"
     The Chief shot him twice, then turned and shot a flood warrior. The flood continuously attacked the chief, only to be killed by each and every one of his shots. He killed at least 30 of them, but their relentlessness was too overwhelming. Thousands of flood warriors littered the landscape in front of the 200 story structure, and more continued to pour out. The Covenant forces were intent on recapturing this military installation, so they continued to send dropships with troops and supplies.
     The Chief climbed in the Banshee and immediately took flight. Banshees beside him that were already in flight, were shot down by the Fuel Rod Cannons some of the flood were wielding. A huge bright stream of plasma flew at the Chief. He dove to the right, as it passed him and struck a Bandit, causing it to crack in half and expose its passengers, spilling them to their deaths. He then pulled straight up. As he was climbing, he heard the radio transmission in the Banshee speaking with an Elite's voice.
     "Banshee unit ----, need support---- where are you headed?! What is your destination? Come back, you coward! We need support at-----immediately!"
     He continued upward, passing falling Bandits that had become huge fireballs hurtling into the grounds below. They were still being shot down as they entered the moon's artificial atmosphere, by the defense turrets on the structures littering the base. The falling crafts caused the climbing Banshee to shake.
     He looked over the horizon, and saw the purple object more clearly. It was a Covenant Cruiser.
     "Cortana, is that vessel up and running?"
     "Analyzing...I don't know Chief. The signal is too far off for me to tell. It's 100 Kilometers from here, approximately. Let's plan on trying to sneak into that huge structure first. The battle down below is really drawing the flood from the complex."
     "Just searching through my options Cortana."

* * *

     Rajihn had been keeping an extra eye out for the Chief, but lost him in the midst of the battle.
     "Grrrroooaaarrrr!! Disgusting aberrations, die now!!"
     He pulled his trigger, and shot a flood warrior in the chest, blowing it apart. He shot a couple more, then saw four Hunters on a small hill being flooded on all sides. He signaled to nearby Elites, and immediately ran to aid the beasts. A couple of Jackals were also alerted, and started blasting their way up the hill through the infestation. Within five minutes, fourteen Elites, and six jackals surrounded the Hunters giving them close range support. After they regrouped, he set up a hedge around them with the Jackals and their shields. He then ordered the Hunters to fire 35 meters in front of them.
     "There, now!!"
     Three huge beams of energy from each Hunter burned down about 40 different flood warriors. Others were sent flying from the blasts. A few of the flood that made it, were taken care of by the Elites. The pounding by the flood ended momentarily, as they turned around to regroup behind some dirt mounds. Then they spread out, as more flooded the area, and surrounded the Covenant on their spot, to continue fighting.
     "Jackals, hold your positions, do not let any rounds get past your shields!"
     Rajihn found himself the momentary leader of the small crew. They were being assaulted on all sides. Some Elites in distance saw the commotion from a couple hundred meters away. They immediately came together to assist the hold. As the forces on that hill continued to grow, more and more bodies from the flood piled on that hill. The seen was of utter chaos. Firefights within the flood and Covenant lines, on the outside and everywhere.
     "Warrior! State your situation!"
     Rajihn explained to a Red superior Elite what he was attempting to do with the small defensive position.
     "Ground assault crews on their way, Al'djurian. Hold the position."
     The Red superior went off the transmission. Then a couple of blue blasts killed off some of the flood hiding in their spots. There were two Wraiths in the distance, moving at top speed toward Rajihn and his band of fighters. Only a mere hundred meters away, they were escorted by six more Elites,four more Hunters and an array of jackals and grunts.
     As more forces let off the dropships, they came from behind to get the Flood that were flanking Rajihn and the others. The flood had been dried up, at least in the Covenant lines. Now they only had one front, which made it simpler for combat. Still, more and more flood rushed in, swallowing some of the unfortunate who were within their lines. Elites went down, one by one from the plasma rifles the putrid creatures held. Some tossed grenades behind the Jackals, causing them and a few Elites to go flying limply in death.
     "Elites, fire at our flanking enemy!"
     Rajihn set the example by turning and tossing a few grenades at the monsters trying to come in behind them again. The remaining flood discontinued their attempts to try and flank them. This made Rajihn quiver for a second. He saw that these creatures were smarter than expected. Nothing got any easier for the Covenant. In the horizon, the golden brown sands were moving as one huge blanket. It was the brown and beige color of the flood, moving closer, and camouflaged with the moon's grounds. They would cover the kilometer and a half, by a mere five minutes. Then one of the Jackals began to scream.
     "I see big guns! Big guns on those creatures!"
     He pointed to a bunch of the flood, carrying fuel rod cannons and plasma mortar cannons.
     Bandits continued to unload more troops, an endless belt of purple delivering death, or perhaps life, to the flood. All in all, there were over two thousand Covenant forces covering the grounds, inching their way forward, a hundred meters at a time. Then blasts of blue, firey plasma landed within the Covenant offensive. It took out nearly a 100 of them. Some lay wounded, with boiling sores from the heat. Others had caught fire, and remained in their frozen forms, ashen statues of intense heat and energy. An Elite began to yell at the top of his lungs to his forces.
     "We must destroy the creatures armed with those weapons!"
     He was silenced with a smoltering blast of aqua light. Rajihn felt the intense heat, as he was very close to the blast. Another Golden Elite came and took his place, resuming the commanding position.
     "Your work is worthy, we shall lead this group now. The gods are pleased with you, go and return to the fight."
     He ordered for the Wraiths to position themselves 50 meters either side of the hill. The Hunters stayed up top, helping to clear the lands ahead up to thirty meters with fuel rod shots. Another blast of liquid colored energy hit the hill. Three of the four Hunters were immolated, while the fourth's armor had melted some. Rajihn saw a Hunter's fuel rod cannon, and tore it off the arm. He mounted it on his shoulder, and raced up another small dirt mound that was 15 feet high. The orange blood dripped on the Elites armor, and down his back.
     "Your existence ends now, demons!"
     He arched the cannon towards the sky, aiming it in the direction of the mortar cannons. He jerked, and the green stream went up and curved down, into the floods' cannons. One of them exploded causing a huge wave of energy discharge. After the blue mist of the gaseous explosion dissipated, there was a huge gap where the flood had once been in that position. Little blue flames littered the area, and black, burnt bodies lay on the ground. He had killed at least 50 of them.
     "Wraith unit Jules, fire now!"
     The howling sounds of the accelerated energy from each Wraith arching up and into the other mortar cannons were deafening. No other sound filled any warrior's ears, except that of weapons firing, warriors screaming from death, or Banshees and Bandits crashing to the ground.

* * *

     "Three hundred meters, Chief."
     He was headed to the top of the installation. Once there, he'd work his down. He had an obligation to fulfill his purpose for living. He had to find the Covenant homeworld, then get a cruiser, damaged or otherwise, back to UNSC for study. Like Keyes had said before. The Spartans were the last real hope at achieving some sort of long term victory. He was indeed their last hope at finding any real intelligence. It was two days since Halo, and a week since the fall of Reach. He still had a mission to fulfill. He still had to win.
     "Chief, reading some movement up ahead."
     Turrets on the structure began to fire on the Banshee. The Spartan dove and barrel rolled to the left, dodging numerous shots. The turrets continued to chase him down, when one of the purple rounds hit the right side of the flying craft. Before he climbed above one of the structure's landing platforms, he fired away at a few of the turrets.
     One of them caught fire, and exploded. His Banshee now had multiple plasma scoures from the turrets. It started to lose power and plummet toward the huge grey monolith.
     "What are you doing?! We're going in fast!"
     "I know that."
     As the Banshee closed in on the structure, it started to catch fire. He manuevered it to one of the platforms,similar in appearance to those found on Halo. The purple haze of the plasma fire reflected off the Chief's visor as he looked on the Banshee's monitor. He opened up the hatch before it crashed, and fell 15 feet to the ground. He landed just as the vehicle made a resounding THUD and exploded, and rolled from the turret gunfire.
     "Cortana, nearest opening, now!"
     He was dodging, strafing and diving to avoid the oncoming plasma beams from the turrets. They had a 360 degree rotation and movement, enabling them to shoot at any angle. The heat from the blasts created holes on this rooftop platform, metal was orange hot, with some of it dripping down from the rims.
     "There's a small ventilation shaft 15 meters at your two o'clock. It's open, so I suggest you enter through there."
     "Thanks Cortana."
     He saw the opening, ran as fast as his adrenaline and MJOLNIR armor could allow, and dove straight in. The vent went down 50 feet before it ended into a huge room with catwalks and computer holopanels. As he fell, he activated his magnetic devices on his hands and feet. Just before the end of the shaft, he attached himself to its sides.
     "Whew! That was a close one, Master Chief!"
     "What is this place for Cortana?"
     "Analyzing. The flood have totally taken over the installation."
     "That's obvious."
     "This particular place is the structure's main defense room. This is where they control the turrets on the moonbase and this building. The Covenant call it VILO. It's a highly important military installation that has been overlooked by them in their religious fervor to wipe out the human race. I believe that it's actually guarding one of the Covenant's homeworlds. Not sure which species, but we're pretty close to finding out."
     He looked down and and saw them. Hundreds of floodlings and warriors, busy at work on different holopanels. Then he saw IT. It was a huge, swelled up flood, its tentacles supporting it from teh ceiling. It had the body of an Elite, with some of its golden armor still attached. The body was deformed and twisted, and reminded the Master Chief of the way Captain Keyes looked on Halo.
     "That's 'The Right Hand' the Covies were talking about Chief."
     He was still hanging sideways by his arms and legs, looking down.
     "So what's the plan?"
     "I'm going to toss a few grenades by the entrance. It should distract them. Then I'll cloak and kill that thing."
     "What are you going to do about the escape?"
     "I'm not going to leave. I'll stay and wipe this room clean. I'm sure we could find something important to use here."
     "Alright. That walkway right there goes across the length of this room. This place is very large. It's 600 meters long and 400 meters wide. The catwalks all cover the actual depths of this particular half of the structure. You miss it, Chief, and down you go-more than 200 levels straight down."
     She was right. He tried to use his zoom function, and still couldn't see far enough down into the huge tunnel. As an added bonus, the catwalks had no railings, making it easier to fall off.
     "Time to make some friends."
     He tossed a couple of grenades by the exit. The explosions sent the creatures flying off the catwalk, or burned them to redeath. The floors were living with movement, as teh parasitic creatures raced to the area the explosions occured. He disengaged his magnetic hold, and quietly dropped to the catwalk. He activated his cloaking function on his thigh, then slowly moved toward "the right hand".
     "Hurry Chief, before they find out you're here."
     He pulled out his plasma shotgun, drawing closer and closer to the hanging sac of deformity's child. Then the ripples of his camouflage caught its attention.
     "Alert! They are now rushing over here Chief. They'll be all over us in ten seconds!"