Mission From SATU part 7: A Knife, a Clip and a Shotgun
Posted By: Chuckles
Date: 29 August 2004, 11:50 AM
Mission From SATU part 7: A Knife, a Clip and a Shotgun
Krusty barely removed his helmet before he vomited: panic crawled through Xraf's mind for the first time in his life: Rhinox walked around dazed: Lexicus turned away. Nobody looked: nobody but Turpertrator.
Can the dead speak? Staring, can we discern the language of a face? Can horror and betrayal be twisted into expressions once a mouth is silenced? Can the dead speak?
Turpertrator stared: Simjanes spoke. Turpertrator stared: Lexicus held his breath.
They had seen the dead before many times—but nothing like this. Death's nimble fingers formed skin, bone and blood into something truly horrible. Contorted face, gaping mouth and wide eyes leered forever, frozen into an unblinking nightmare. It wasn't that he looked dead: it was that he didn't look dead. Like a corpse well tended by a mortician, he looked as if he could get up and walk away. But Turpertrator knew he wouldn't. Staring his last upon Simjanes, he knew something else too.
From the beginning he had been quiet, even for a Spartan. His chosen name, Turpertrator, was derived from the ancient Latin word for evil: turpis. To those who knew him, it seemed strange that he would take such a name. To those who fought him, however, it seemed very appropriate. Caring nothing for glory or fame, he had one goal: accomplish the mission. Over the years he had quietly become one of the most skilled and deadly of the Spartans. His fighting was unorthodox, his weapon was subtlety, and his results were lethal.
If Turpertrator was quiet, Simjanes was all but mute. If Turper was contemplative, Sim was cold. None who knew him, even when he was a child, could remember him crying, smiling, laughing, or showing any other sign of emotion. As he held his sniper rifle in his hand, steady as a rock and aimed with inhuman precision, nothing short of fresh orders would keep him from pulling the trigger. Compassion was lost on him and friendships led to betrayals.
Spartans like these get attention, no matter how quiet they are. It didn't take long for ONI to tap them for something special.
Three years before the rebellion ended, ONI sent them into northwestern Asia. Operation ROCKSALT was intended to replicate the success enjoyed by the "Clowns" in Old Afghanistan. They more than delivered. Turpertrator had been the tactician and the heavy weapons specialist. Simjanes did what he did better than anyone except Linda: he sniped. ROCKSALT was the last nail in the rebellion's coffin. Morale, already low thanks in large part to the Clowns, plummeted even further. When it was finally over they were not friends, but they respected each other. That respect went deep.
Now his partner was dead. Dead, but not silent. Turpertrator stared: Simjanes spoke. It was time to act.
It was a full six minutes before Turpertrator turned his head away. Slowly, he stood and faced Lexicus. Speaking quietly he said, "Seems to me that this operation was off-line yesterday Lex. You still taking orders from Ackerson, or not?"
Lexicus shook his head.
"Then who's orders are you following? Who's next Lexicus? Is there a certain order we're supposed to die in, or are you making it up as you go along?" The other Spartans backed away: nobody spoke to Lex like that.
"Careful, Turp. Keep running your mouth and you'll likely say something that you can't take back. If that happens and we fight . . . I don't want to kill you."
Turpertrator slowly pulled out his combat knife. "I'm a warrior, Lexicus. I don't mind dying in a fight. But," he looked down at Simjanes, "I'm not going like that. I won't be led to the slaughter by somebody bent on personal vengeance. I won't be a pawn."
Turpertrator walked over to the body, examining the ground.
"Where's Chuckles? Two sets of footprints lead away, and what do you want to bet the larger ones belong to Chuckles? What do you want to bet that bullet in Sim's side does too? He died trying to contact you, the one who had him killed." The others took another step away. "Those young Spartans the ODST's slaughtered, did it bother you that they got to them first? Did you kill the liaison because they beat you to the punch, or was that just another ruse," he motioned to Simjanes, "like this one?"
Without warning Lexicus palmed his knife and lunged. Turper fell flat, grabbed Lexicus by the legs and hurled him against a tree. Lexicus was the superior fighter, but Turper's unorthodox style threw him off. What's more, of all the Spartans at SATU nobody, not even Chuckles, was Turper's equal with a knife. Neither dared risk the use of guns: Linda was still out there.
Lexicus got to his feet and they circled, jabbed, and finally locked together like prize fighters. In a surprise move, Turp dropped to his knees and, as Lex fell forward, thrust his arms up violently, knocking him into the tree again. In a blur of movement, Turper was on top of him, knife raised for the kill. Desperate, Lexicus reached behind him, grabbed the tree, lifted his legs and torso like a gymnast, and threw Turper fifteen feet into the air.
Turpertrator hit the ground, jumped up just before Lex got to him, and jabbed with astonishing speed—but missed as Lexicus somersaulted over his head. Turper felt a powerful tug, and then the cool morning air as Lexicus landed behind him—holding his helmet.
The last thing that went through Turpertrator's mind was a standard-issue Spartan combat knife.
He fell to the ground dead, eyes wide, inches from Simjanes. Lexicus walked over to him, bent down and pulled out his knife. It was covered in blood, the blood of a Spartan he respected. The others watched silently as Lexicus, legendary fighter, and Spartan captain, walked around like an awkward child, looking for something to wipe the bloody blade.
John was disturbed. Early the night before three young Spartans had returned to base (which consisted only of a marking on a map, and small amount of supplies) with news of the slaughter by the ODST's. He had been working with the other group of young Spartans, the nine-year olds, and had not been wearing his helmet. He quickly put it back on, and contacted Linda.
Her news wasn't any better.
Fred was dead. Worse, he had died at the hands of other Spartans: a group led by Lexicus? Had she told him Dr. Halsey herself was leading the mission, he could not have been more surprised. Lex had been a friend, a leader and most of all a fellow Spartan. But John had to set that aside.
Lexicus was here to kill him? So be it. He would learn what thousands all over the galaxy already knew: Spartan-117 didn't die easily, and his enemies didn't last long.
She had almost killed him. Linda was about to squeeze the trigger when she saw something; something she hadn't seen since her days as a trainee. Years ago, before they wore helmets, the Spartans had worked out ways of communicating quickly using gestures. As they were fleeing her shots the night before, she saw Chuckles hit the side of his helmet twice, like a swimmer trying to get water out of his ear. It meant "WE NEED TO TALK". Still, it wasn't until he killed Simjanes that she was reasonably sure she could trust him.
His story made sense.
"Lexicus made a vow years ago to end the SPARTAN program" Chuckles explained as they put distance between them and Simjanes' body. "He thinks it's immoral; especially the kidnapping. He was connected to his family stronger than most of us."
"What do you think Chuckles?"
The big Spartan shrugged. "I was an orphan, so the program was the only family I ever had. Only person I miss is CPO Mendez. I could handle seeing him again. But we can chit-chat later. If we are going to save John, we have to act now."
"Lexicus is out of control, and unless we work together, this won't end well. Things have already went south—but it could get much worse. Don't underestimate Lexicus. John may be the best when it comes to fighting the Covenant, but Lex is second-to-none in fighting Spartans. We need to get to John quickly."
Linda spoke to the Masterchief on a private channel. "Okay, he asked."
"Roger that. Do as we planned and we should know in a few minutes if he's legitimate."
"And if he's not?"
If Helljumper hadn't known how serious this mission was before, he certainly knew now. They were racing to the training grounds in a Pelican flown by Ackerson's personal pilot, Aardvark. The Colonel wasn't in the habit of loaning him out, especially for a mission this dangerous. There were thousands of Pelican pilots, but only one Aardvark.
Born David Sagus, he picked up his nickname when he began flying Pelicans. He was able to fly very low over almost any terrain. He flew so low, that when he returned to base his Pelican was usually covered with thousands of dead insects. He quickly picked up the name "Aardvark". Not terribly appropriate, since nobody flew low enough to get ants on his ship, but it was catchy. Besides, he was thankful they hadn't chosen "Bugeater". Far and away the top pilot in the service, his skills could prove the difference between success or failure.
But in case that wasn't enough, Helljumper had added some insurance of his own.
Told by the Colonel to pick three men, he had picked five instead. And although Ackerson had told him to kill the young Spartans after the Masterchief was dead, Helljumper had decided to do it beforehand. Who knew if they would still be alive after tangling with God-knows-how-many Spartans? Best to get it done while they could. In a stroke of luck they had located their modest base; and the way this pilot hugged the ground, they would be set down close. Real close.
Aardvark dropped them off, and waited at the LZ: if things went bad, the Pelican's guns would be needed. Within minutes the snipers approached the base and spread out in a quarter circle to overlap fields of fire. As they he looked through his scope to pick his first target, Helljumper's blood went cold.
Oh my God. "Stand down. I repeat, Stand down. Aardvark, we'll meet you at the LZ, ETA five minutes."
Killing fourteen year old Spartans was something he could live with: each of them was the equal of at least four of his ODST's. But down at that base, along with three of the older Spartan trainees, were twenty-seven kids who were definitely under ten. Helljumper could shoot just about anything or anybody: but not a kid.
"Belay that order, Aardvark." The voice had come from behind the Captain. He turned around and found himself staring down the barrel of a silenced pistol. Holding it was his second in command, Sgt. Justin Timmer.
Without a word the soldier emptied an entire clip into Helljumper. The legendary ODST never had a chance. Unable to restrain a smirk, the assassin walked over to the Captain's body and began scavenging his gear.
"Ackerson told me to do this after the mission, but since you didn't have the stomach for it, well, I had to improvise. That's what you always taught us; improvise. Hope I made you proud."
He stood up and addressed the team. "By order of Colonel Ackerson, I now have tactical authority over this mission." Still shocked by the shooting, the snipers listened silently. "Sight in. Take out the older one's first. These are not humans, they are Spartans. Wipe them out."
After they had traveled several miles, John contacted Linda. They had been testing Chuckles and the results were in: the Clown failed.
Time to kill another friend.
Linda slowed slightly, fell behind, and pulled out her shotgun. Placing it directly behind his head, she began to squeeze the trigger.