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The Long Ride Home 6: When Hell Is In Your Face
Posted By: Joshua Barreto<jrunfire@yahoo.com>
Date: 24 April 2002, 6:29 pm

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     Rajihn was now safely 100 meters from the battlefront. He had gone to get more ammunition and grenades from the ground assault supply crews. He had also gone back because he needed to report to his superiors.
     "The human has run off."
     Dumashilon fired up with rage. Over the sounds of explosions and vehicles moving in to kill more flood, this statement rung in his sound receptors a thousand times.
     "When did he escape?! Why didn't you watch over him?!"
     "With all due respect, sir, I was in battle. He could have been slain for all I know. Why should I care for that blasphemous being anyway?"
     With that finishing statement followed a huge claw smack across his jaws. Dumashilon growled and yelled at Rajihn.
     "Fool! You had better pray he has not been slain! He was our peace offering back to appease our elders once we reclaimed this installation. He had better be alive! Go, take a vehicle, seek him out among the dead or wounded."
     "There is a battle that must be fought!"
     "You have your orders, warrior!"
     Rajihn grit his sharp teeth, then turned around and headed toward a currently occupied ghost. Dumashilon continued transmitting messages to the battlefleet.
     Rajihn went up to the ghost rider, and kicked the unaware Elite off.
     "What are you attempting, fool?!"
     "SILENCE, I have no need for ranf at this moment!"
     He rode off into the battle field. The flood had been pushed back, with the advancing Covenant forces. The golden brown sands had patches of melted dust and vehicles still sparking with small blue flames. Dirt had been turned to glass, from the intense heat of plasma grenades and blasts. The light from the moon's distant sun reflected off these rugged mirrors into the Elite's eyes, as he flew by exploding comrades, mortars and other things that happened during battle. A flood warrior jumped at him while firing from its rifle. He shot it up and burned holes through its rotting flesh.

* * *

     Back in orbit, Luthos was busy with a few of his advisers, and the Council, on the battle's status.
     "We are advancing further to the main facility, sir. Once there, we shall be able to eliminate the flood's occupation."
     "How are the casualties?"
     "We are dying, sir, greatly. But their numbers are falling rapidly, more so than ours."
     "My strategy calls for a decisive landing on the top of the main facility. I shall dispatch a vast number of our grunt and jackal special forces."
     "Very well, Council. If that is necessary, let it be so."
     "Hmmmm. If that is done, we shall be able retake our defense system. We believe it is currently being controlled by the 'right hand'."
     "We must destroy the 'head' first, sir! It is the one controlling their strategic standpoint, and it is the one responsible for causing our base to move on its current course."
     "Yes, you are correct, but the 'heart' is beating with life. That is our main objective, its destruction!"
      The room went into an uproar between the four individuals. Luthos put his hand up.
     "Silence! Council is our planner. In the end, his ways are made first. Luthos to Dominus."
     "Go ahead commander."
     "Dispatch the six Shaddaik companies. Let them prepare for an extensive landing. Council takes their lead."
     "Sir, your command is life's breath."
      Within 30 minutes, twelve dropships filled with grunts and jackals, left each hangar of each cruiser and destroyer, on their way to the tall structure's rooftop. Their mission was explained on the way down. They were to enter through the structure's 500 meter round elevator, and descend until they found, "the right hand". Some of them were trembling with fear, they weren't experienced with fighting the flood. The recordings they viewed left them terrified with the monsters' animosities. The Bandits' intercom spoke.
     "Prepare for battle."
      The first few dropships that opened their hatches had already been fired at, allowing others to land their crew amidst the confusion. Still, the defense turrets took out six or seven of them, creating fireballs of twisted, melting metal. The rooftop was being littered with the fallen Bandits and bodies. Smoke billowed toward the artificial atmosphere. Some of the Bandits' gunners attempted to take out the turrets, only to be killed. Finally, one of the turrets exploded, and its huge gun cracked in half, and landed on the troop of grunts. Once the landing had been completed, the turrets began to concentrate on the rooftop. Purple, hot blasts of energy turned grunts and jackals to piles of ashes, or melting skin and boiling blue blood. The Kilometer long by 2 Kilometer wide structure rooftop was now a warzone. Some of the unwitty doglike animals fell through the holes the turrets had punched into the platforms.
      The jackals and grunts made their way to the elevator platform. As soon as the remaining force was on, it activated. A huge circular disk began the descent, carrying a load of more than 600 grunts and jackals.

* * *

      The Chief quickly took out 30 shells from his side sac. He activated a plasma grenade and stuck the shells on it. He tossed it 50 meters behind him, causing it to stick to one of the warriors. The explosion caused the shells to go off, which killed even more of the flood swarm. There were still about two dozen or more of them, and it was a narrow catwalk.
     "They still aren't finished off! I'm reading communication in this facility's systems. It's calling for backup Chief! Kill it and hurry."
     "Cortana, how many can you count?"
     "I'm reading 37 flood warriors. The infection forms are numerous."
      The Master Chief laid some cover fire. They went down in twos. Unfortunately, he didn't have enough ammo to take them all out. He felt for his hip, luck was on his side. There was one grenade left. He tossed it, and hit the floor. The explosion sent a shockwave causing aerial bound flood. Then something fell from the oozing blob of infected flesh. It was a plasma saber.
     "Chief, the right hand is starting to become really active."
      He saw it moving around, hitting different commands on the holopanels in front of it. He grabbed the plasma saber, activated it, then jumped up into the air toward the green monstrosity.
      The Master Chief brought the glowing blade down. It burned clean through the 7 foot, round glob of rotting goo. As it went down, the Chief cut it in half.
     "Not picking up anymore activity, it's dead."
      He turned around and ran through a few of the remaining warriors. He sliced them, one by one, as the floodlings popped when they touched his shield. He saw his shield gauge on his HUD going down. He had to escape this place to recharge.
     "Chief, there's an elevator shaft to the left of this upcoming intersection."
      He didn't want to leave yet. A catwalk up ahead connected with the one he was on, making a 'T'. He quickly turned right, with the flood behind him. The catwalk was only about a foot thick, so the Chief cut across it, leaving a line of red hot, dripping metal. He continued as fast as he could for about another 15 meters and waited for the flood.
     "Chief! What are you doing?! More of those creatures are on their way up!"
      He ignored Cortana, but she was right. He looked over the ledge, and saw movement on the catwalks below that had the same form as the one he was on. He waited for the remaining warriors and floodlings until they were a mere 5 meters away. He cut another hot line across the floor, and the piece they were on, went down under their weight. It fell on the other catwalk, 30 meters below, killing the other flood that he had seen before.
     "Well done. Now let's get to work."
     "Tell me everything that we could use."
     "Sure thing."
      He jumped over the gap that he had made, and walked up to the computer holopanels. He cut the tentacles that had been attached to them from the creature he killed. Everything resembled the technology found on Halo. The light fixtures, the holomonitors, everything. What's the Covenant's connection to Halo? He didn't care about that right now. He placed Cortana's crystal in the computer's connection slot. It seemed that the Covies had their form of AIs as well.
     "Wow, it feels like I've been here before. Analyzing. This place goes deep within the moon Chief. We're only on the surface. It was once inhabited by a huge number of Covenant forces, until the flood invaded. They weren't prepared for them, and were infected rather quickly."
     "What can you tell me about its systems, what makes this thing run? Where's the Covenants' homeworlds, and how do we get there?"
     "I can't answer that. This merely controls the moon's security and defense systems. I can give you a visual on the whereabouts to the control room though. I've also set the system to flood control."
     "So where is the control room? And what's the quickest way there?"
     "The control room is 400 levels down. The fastest and safest way is the elevator."
     "So how did the flood get here?"
     "Can't answer that. All I know is that there was a huge security breach 6 kilometers from here. The battle cruiser, wait a second."
     "What, what's the matter?"
     "It was one of the battle cruisers that was orbiting Halo. The Mist. I thought that they had been destroyed on the ring, but they managed to escape. The flood took control of the ship, and used its nav. data to get here. They shot a hole into the moon, and crash landed into it. That's how they invaded the base."
     "So this entire moon is one huge base?"
     "Yes, it was inhabited by a large number of Covenant forces. Special ops, scientists, you name it, they were here. That means that either some might've escaped, or every covie here has been infected."
      That was a scary thought. The flood could infect at a fast rate if they did that to a large number of hosts in a day.
     "All right. I suggest we help our enemy a bit Cortana. Let them in, open every locked door in the base, and the main entrance. They can help and exterminate this little, infestation."
     "Opening the main entrance. Stationary guns are going haywire. So many flood throughout the base are causing them to fire at a constant rate. Let's move though. I'm sensing great activity in the control room and engineering. Maybe we can find more answers there."
      He removed her from the monitors, and placed her crystal into his helmet. A couple of nav. points popped up on his screen with the explanation of each.
     "The nav points mark where we can find the control room and engineering. I've also marked the flood's entry via the Mist. Let's get on the elevator."
      He quickly moved to the huge automatic doors. The elevator had been activated already, because there was a humming sound coming out of it.
     "Chief, large amounts of movement! Be careful!"
      He activated his saber, and picked up a nearby plasma rifle. He activated whatever was left of his cloaking cell, and got into a crouching position. His motion tracker was off the wall.
     "If you make it out of this one, it'd be a miracle."
     "If I die, or get infected, remember to purge yourself."
     "Hope that won't happen, but I'll do it."
      The humming sound from the elevator shaft ended, with a high pitched metallic scratching sound, followed by a rush of air. The huge doors split in two, and slid to either side.
     "AAAAhhh! They're all dead!"
     "Gaahhhh, shuttup!"
     "Wha-what happened?!"
      The Chief got up. He decloaked himself, scaring the army of jackals and grunts.
      One of them were so startled that it jumped and pulled the trigger to his gun, killing a nearby grunt.
     "Angel of Death?! What are you doing here?!"
      A golden clad jackal stepped forward. He was the troop's leader.
     "How did you enter this place?"
      He just stared down at the birdlike creature, not saying a word.
     "No matter. Nikio to Kir'dun. Repeat, this is Shaddaik company 2 to Kir'dun. We have successfully entered VILO's guard room."
     "What have you, shaddaik?"
     "We've entered and found the human here. He defeated the flood found within, and has destroyed the right hand."
     "Ahh, the human you say? Pleasing, he has done us a favor. Do not let him leave from your sight, he is not to access any important components of our base."
      The Chief heard the entire conversation, thanks to Cortana's interception of the signal.
     "The high commander is pleased with your performance human. Unfortunately, you are not to leave our sight. Companies 3, 6, and 9 to the controls. We are going to monitor the base until further orders are given."
      The Master Chief didn't want them to mess up what Cortana had started. The automatic sensors were better than the stupid animals' watchful eye. Still, he tried to reason.
     "I've already set the base's systems to automatically kill the flood. I suggest we go to the first level and assist the ground forces by outflanking the enemy."
     "Silence human! You shall not deter from our leader's wishes."
      He grabbed the jackal by the throat, and lifted him nine feet into the air. The jackal's terrified gaze stared back at him, as he stared into the visor of the Master Chief.
     "I'll kill you, and the rest of your friends. I've already defeated the flood, and your precious armada before, single handedly. I am getting off this base, and no one is going to stop me. Am I clear?"
      He looked at the army of grunts and jackals. They were terrified of him. Perhaps even more so than the flood. He destroyed an armada, and thousands of flood already. Everywhere he walked, death followed. He dropped the jackal to the floor.
     "Leave only about a hundred of this group here. They can monitor movement and keep the rest of you posted. I'm going to open up the flood offensive for the rest of the ground forces to move in. Then I'm going for the control room."
      He calmly walked past them, took one of the grunt's weapons, and grenades and activated the lift. As the elevator began its descent, he ordered the jackals to form a perimeter, and surround the entire troop. They obeyed, moving as one, yellow and white shields popping up one over the other around the entire group. It was an ancient formation, one used by the Spartans, then the Romans. He had remembered from his days in school.
     "Chief, what now?"
     "I'm going to secure the main access on the first level. From there, the Covenant should be able to make it in and take over from there. During their entry, I'm going to the control room."
     "Good plan. Only one slight problem. Flood have secured the base. There's thousands of them, pouring out from the barracks. Even with the base's defense systems, it's going to be one tough fight."

* * *

      Rajihn had been battling on the front lines for an hour. He grew weary of it, and not finding the Chief only fed the flames of his temper even more.
     "All Al'djurians, the human has been located within the base. He has destroyed the right hand. Prepare for full advance."
      This transmission made the Elite to go wild. He pulled full throttle, on his ghost, as he sped right through the flood ranks. He wanted to be the first to enter the base. Over and down sand hills he went, splattering the fighting parasites. Purple blasts from the building killed hundreds of the creatures, helping to cut a path for the Elite, as he himself avoided the plasma shots.
     "Alert to Al'djurian units 13, 15, 22, 31. Advance from current positions. Repeat. High command has spoken, warriors. The human must not access inner base."
      As Rajihn continued toward the enormous, foreboding structure, the whipping sound of flood could be heard as he flew by them. It was large, dark grey, and growing up and out. He was closing in on it, seeing dropships that had fallen littering the grounds in front of it. Enveloped in flames, each one was a testimony of the floods' deadliness.
     "Al'djurian units 18, 34, 37, 42, use all force necessary to enter the base."
      He saw some Elites and a Hunter being picked off in the distance. The Flood had them pinned behind the wreckage of a downed Bandit, and two Banshees. He started blasting the moving heaps of rotting flesh, leaving them smoltering with intense heat. As he rode past them, he sprayed an array of the plasma shotgun's shells. Each white spark hit numerous warriors, tearing into their infected bodies.
     "Al'djurian units, prepare for heavenly support."
      The screeching sound of ten Seraph fighters entered the moon's atmosphere. A plethora of napalm in the form of aqua colored fire sent plumes of dust and limbs flying skyward on various areas of the battlefield. The areas of contact were filled with blue flames and darkened, glistening sands. The attack merely caused the flood to intensify their onslaught, since they began to advance on the Covenant's well held positions.
      The river of purple dropships never ceased. A thin line could be seen as the Bandits continued to carry down their future potential enemies. But as quickly as the Covenant unloaded, they were killed. The flood had taken over an outpost, using the Shade stationary guns and a stolen Wraith to kill off the Covies.
     "To all units--- fight to---- death!! We shall ---die with honor! Demons----shall----AAAAArrrrgh!!--"
      Rajihn recognized the speaker's voice. It was his commanding officer, Dumashilon. His unit was overrun and killed. It angered him to know that he is the sole survivor of them, and was there but a few short hours before. He should have died with them.
      The few Elites he assisted before had been killed. The flood overwhelmed them, and had taken their lives. The Hunter managed to get on top of a fallen Banshee. It was attempting to use the slight height advantage to ward off his attackers. Using his shield to keep the maruading creatures at bay, and letting them have his weapon's wrath, he was successful but a few moments longer. They then let him share in his unit's fate.
     "GRRRRAAAARRGH! You shall perish, you hell sent spawn!"
      He drove through another bunch of the creatures, hearing the CRUNCH and CRACKLE of bones and twisting, taut muscles being snapped or ripped. Their green blood dripped off his armor, along with the orange and blue blood of his allies. His ghost had taken sever punishment, sending sparks to sputter out its numerous cracks. Green glops and chunks of flesh hung off it as well, giving it the look of a speedy, rotting flood warrior mixed with a machine.
      He had gotten too close to a turret's blast. The energy sent his vehicle, now ablaze, spiraling in hoverflight, through the air. It finally came to a crashing halt into the sand, causing him to be thrown upon impact, landing 30 feet away. He quickly got up, vision still a blur, and instinctively readied his plasma shotgun. The flood in the immediate vicinity were drawn to his life signs and movement. He saw mulitiple targets, since his sight was still impaired at the moment. It didn't matter though, so he made the first moves. He threw two grenades behind him, killing off ten of the hated creatures. He concentrated his aim toward the ones in front of the structure. One by one they went down, only to be replaced in threes or fours, fives and sixes or maybe more. They seemed endless, he would surely meet his end soon. He took out his plasma saber, a last ditch effort to survive. It was also a last course of action for him-lower level Elites didn't have an extra battery cell to wield these weapons. The result was the loss of an energy shield, making them even more vulnerable.
     "CAUK! Roooaarr! Get-CAUK!-away from me!"
      He sliced away at the oncoming monstrosities. Back and forth, side to side, were his swiping patterns. With each swing of the saber, went flailing limbs, half torsos, or a cut off weapon. He jumped up and forward over the wall of the contagion. He stumbled over a dead flood's body, fell and rolled over, got back up and continued to run. His wobbly movements were physical proof of his condition. Purple blood dripped down his neck, coming from his jaw. He'd been coughing it up since he crashed, having each slimey hack filled with his life sustaining fluid. He ran, with his legs dragging and feet heavy, into the military complex. He saw two huge blast doors. They were the cold guardians to the elevator.
     "Al'djurians proceed advancement. Death is salvation, fight with honor."
      He was sick of the transmissions. He wanted to hear about more troops that were assisting the effort for the reclamation of the base. He wanted to hear how the flood were being defeated. He did not, however, wish to hear about death, he was almost there but was not in the mood to face it. Only twenty meters remained. His arm was heavy from swinging his saber, non-stop, and exhaustion began to set in. He choked in every breath he took,and caughed it out before he could absorb the gases into his respiratory system.
      Rajihn, was an 8 and a half foot tall, mess of flood remains and his own blood. His wounds were opening from each lethal slash from a flood warrior. He made it to the holopanel that activated the call for the elevator.
     "Al'djurian units 15,31, 34, 37, 42, 18, and 22 report. Al'djurian units 26, 39, 44, 51, 52 and 54 prepare for full advancement."
      He switched the weapon to the other hand, his right arm was covered in his own blood, and was weak with weariness. He cut through seven more of the flood warriors, before their numbers overcame him. Two of them clubbed him in the stomach, then the chest, sending him 6 feet through the air into the blast doors. The blows were too much now. He couldn't stand up, so he just got on a bended knee, and pointed his saber straight up.
     "For-CAUK!-honor and duty-CAUK!-may the gods be-CAUK!-pleased."
      The flood surrounded him, slowly advancing. They were aware of the fact that his weapon could easily dispose of them, and took precautions before attempting on infecting him. The green glow reflected off his face, as he stared his enemy in the eye. They began to morph into demon like entities, former angelic beauties, deep brown in color, with huge arcing wings. They breathed blue flames, with purple and blue blood oozing from their eyeless sockets. He began to see their afterlife forms, he believed. He was really hallucinating.
     "Oh Novirion! Take my breath from me!"
      Just as he said that, he heard the sounds of beautiful instruments. The blast doors opened, revealing to him a bunch of imps, with yellow and white shields. Then he saw 'him', the stealer of life. His eyes burned with flames of white fire. His huge wing span overshadowed the vast imp army. He raised his flaming sword, and roared a command to his followers.
      Blue smoking orbs of energy fell 10 meters in front of the line of grunts and jackals. The mass of flood warriors dropped in their tracks, from rounds of shotgun shards. The grenade explosions shook the area, as the vile creatures took flight.
      The Master Chief saw the fallen Elite, he was still on one knee, bleeding profusely, with the saber blade up. He ran up to him, and pulled him behind the deep cover of the Shaddaik forces.
      The Angel of Death, coming to him, in his dark, macabre glory, made Rajihn tremble with fright. He knew now that he was not prepared for the afterlife, and now he'd have to suffer for a season under this supernatural being. The Angel of mystery and fear's inspiration, shot a huge flame from his left hand as the green flaming sword sliced another demon in half. The flaming eyes now looked straight at him. A hand reached down, grabbed him and lifted him off the ground.
     "Chief, his life signs are low. Better get him behind the lines of conflict."
      He picked the Elite up by the shoulder with one hand, and jumped up and over 50 or so grunts and jackals, duking it out with the flood. Their numbers gave them a chance to survive against the flood as the Chief attempted to wake the wounded Elite from his dazed state.
      "Tell your superiors I've secured the first level as well as the security controls to the base. It's safe for a drop on the top level of this facility.
      The Elite awoke from his self-beguiled mindstate. He gave the comm. device to the Chief.
      "Perhaps, there is use for you yet human ...ugghhh."
      After that, he fainted, and dropped to the floor.