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A Pilot's Life: Chapter 9-Grave Battles (FINALE)
Posted By: Captain Rasc<Rasculia38@cox.net>
Date: 14 November 2003, 2:03 AM

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***This is the final chapter of this series, which will be continued in a new series "Wings of the Dead." This chapter is short and I apologize for that, but I just couldn't write anymore. Hoped you enjoyed reading this series as much as I enjoyed writing it!!****

The Pelicans exhaust kicked up the snow as the drop ship touched down outside what had once been the command center. It was an awful sight. The sickly sweet odor of burnt flesh filled the air. Nearby smoke rose lazily from what had once been a tank, now lacking a turret. Bodies lay everywhere on the ground, the majority of them resembled the creature I killed earlier. Empty bullet shells lay all about, most of them piled next to the bodies of the dead Marines who had fired them. Though a few had died from gun wounds, most of the dead were missing body parts and had long deep furrows in their chests and backs. The snow was stained with blood and entrails. The entire place was the very embodiment of hell.

I jumped off the back of the Pelican, landing in a crouch with my shotgun up and ready. I moved forward cautiously, the rest of the squad close behind me. We reached the entry way, which was also clogged with bodies. The Computer chamber, by comparison, was almost empty of bodies. Finding the room empty, I went over to the body of a Marine that was slumped in front of an active computer terminal. The back of the Marine's head had been replaced by a charred crater, and blood was sprayed over the screen, making it difficult to read the words there. Apparently, someone had managed to translate the writing the computers used, because the words were in English. It was a short, direct message, a request for assistance from any human forces in the area. I reached forward and tapped the "send" icon on the screen. The screen changed immediately, displaying the words "Message Sent."

At that moment, Jackson came jogging up to me, his face pale. "Sir, you may want to come see this." I followed him to the back of the chamber into left-hand storage chamber. What I saw made me sick. The walls, ceiling, and floor were covered with blood. Bodies lay everywhere, most of them human. Many were missing body parts, and one had been torn in half, his entrails hanging out of his body. His mouth was open, his face contorted in a scream of agony. Another body had a gash across the belly, revealing the intestines of the dead man. One of his eyes dangled loosely from its socket, and his neck was bent at an odd angle. While the condition of the bodies was horrifying, it was nothing compared to the eyes of the dead men. Every single corpse had a look of pure terror in his eyes, the look of a man confronted by his worst nightmare. I couldn't take it anymore. I turned, and strode from the room, trying in vain to escape the ghostly images of their haunted eyes.

I don't know when I started to cry, but I suddenly found myself leaning heavily against the wall, my cheeks moist with tears. I struggled to regain my composure, and control of my sanity. My efforts were interrupted by a sound at the door opposite me, a sound I had heard only once before. Through the door came a number of strangled barks and growls, and a loud gurgling yell. I had my gun up and ready in an instant, pointed down the hall at the door. Keeping my gun pointed down the hall, I called back over my shoulder to the rest of the guys, "We're about to have some company!" No sooner had the words left my mouth when a heavy blow smote the door at the far end of the hall. Even as the rest of the squad came running through the door, another blow struck the door with a resounding boom.

"Get back to the computer chamber, we can't fight here. We'll be sitting ducks in this narrow space." We scrambled down the hall as another blow struck the door, this time the door gave slightly, screeching in protest. The rest of the men ran by and turned into the larger chamber, but I paused at the intersection. More blows sounded, and the doors buckled inward. I yanked a grenade from my belt and pulled the pin, being careful not to release the trigger. Another blow struck the door, and the door burst open, admitting a swarm of disfigured bodies through. I hurled the grenade and ran out of the hall. Behind me the corridor was rocked by an explosion, and body parts came flying out of the tunnel. I whirled and dropped to one knee behind a knocked over supply crate bringing my shotgun to my shoulder as one of the horrendous creatures leapt out of the tunnel. It died in midair as a hail of bullets caught it in a vicious crossfire, tearing it to pieces. More creatures were emerging, barking and gurgling as they charged en masse towards us. I half rose and opened fire into the press of bodies. Two of the creatures fell, and a few staggered and kept coming. I fired, again and again as the horde of creatures swept towards me. I fired my last shell, then ducked behind the barrier to reload. I had only loaded six shells, when one of the creatures landed right next to me in a crouch. I snapped my gun up and fired a shot that connected with its midsection. The force of the blast hurled it backwards into one of its comrades. I finished reloading and peeked out from behind the barrier. The vast number of creatures was slowly thinning, as they were picked apart by accurate fire from the other Marines. I began to think that we had a chance after all. Suddenly, a human scream erupted from my right. I spun to see Private Adams, the squads medic, struggling in vain to detach what appeared to be a small crustacean from his throat. In fact, the little creatures were everywhere, swarming towards us like a rising tide approaches a sandcastle. I fired into the carpet of enemies. The things popped when hit by the shots, and their neighbors also exploded in a little chain reaction. Using this fact to my advantage, I pulled out my pistol and fired it into the mass of creatures. A chain reaction of popping bodies started, and pretty soon there was nothing left of them. Our problems were far from over though. From the hall charged another swarm of corpse like figures. Some of them carried weapons, and fired wildly at us as they approached. I snapped of three shots, and six of the horrid creatures fell dead, but others soon took their place, there seemed to be no end to them.

Suddenly, one of the men on the right gave a cry of surprise as Adams's corpse suddenly rose and attacked him. The body swung its whip-like arm, cutting the surprised man in half. The other man next to him turned and fired point blank into the reanimated body, and it toppled backwards with a massive hole in its chest. The Marine was turning to fire at the advancing foes, when a bullet struck him in the head just below his helmets rim. The helmet popped into the air in a spray of blood as his body crumpled to the floor.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

"Fall back to the foyer!" I shouted during a temporary lull in the battle. The surviving members of the squad complied, scrambling out of the room away from the advancing horde of creatures. I tossed another grenade and ran from the room. The explosion sprayed blood and body parts everywhere, as the shrapnel cut down over a dozen attackers. I dove behind a barrier that lay across the entryway as bullets cracked around me. I rose up and fired of a pair of shots that dropped three more of the creatures, but more kept coming. I started to reload when I felt a hammer blow to my chest. I was knocked sprawling by the force of the blow. I looked down at my stomach. There was a hole torn in the fabric just below my chest plate, and the cloth was stained with blood. The pain was overwhelming, and my vision began to swim. As my mind started to fade, I looked around. Jackson and Williams stood side by side, firing desperately at the mass of attackers. The other Marine, Anderson, lay dead in a pool of his own blood. Suddenly, shots erupted from outside and laced into the ranks of the creatures, felling many. Surprised, I turn my head to look outside. As my vision fades, the last thing I see is a massive number of Marines charging forward, led by a tall man clad in green armor. Then darkness claims me...


Epilogue: Williams, Jackson and I were saved from the Flood by the Master Chief and the crew of the Thunderchild, who were responding to the distress call that I had sent. After passing out, I was taken aboard the ship and remained in a coma for a month. During that time, I was taken to the Halo colony. I was there when the other Halos were activated, when they destroyed all life in the galaxy. Now, as I sit looking out at the stars, I wonder if it is a good thing that I survived after all.