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The Strive to Survive (Chapter 1: Lurking in the Shadows)
Posted By: CoLd BlooDed<sk8_4life7_@hotmail.com>
Date: 15 February 2004, 2:45 AM

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The Strive to Survive (Chapter 1: Lurking in the Shadows)
2034 Hours, January 13, 2553 (Military Calendar)/ Halo Installation 07, corridor of Forerunner structure converted for Human purposes.

      The stars dotted the blue sky while the clouds floated arbitrarily around the ring's first moon, Torq. Jake Bennitz, an ONI technician who had been sent to the ring for studying purposes, inhaled deeply on his cigarette. But what they had been sent to study was the most important; they had been sent to the ringworld to study The Flood.
      Jake grinned and kept the cigarette pinched in-between his forefinger and index finger, then he rested his elbows on the concrete ledge of the Forerunner structure where they had set up their studying compound.
It's been too goddamn long," groaned the Sergeant, Mike Peters, who had his cigarette butt rested on his lips so it was at an angle, "I'm getting bored, and with the Covenant not attacking so often, there's hardly anything for a Sergeant like myself to do."
      "Stop complaining, Sarge." said Jake with a smirk, "It ain't that bad, but anyways, we better be heading back in. They're expecting us."
      The Sergeant scowled and flicked the cigarette off the ledge, Jake did that as well. Mike lumbered down the ramp and Jake was about to but decided to take in the scene for a moment.
      The twin suns floated directly behind Jake's position, casting a long shadow of the structure onto the stretched plateau the facility was placed on. M41 LAAGs and Guided Missile-Flax guns had been stuck onto the flat terrain with Marines patrolling the perimeters of the makeshift camp. Even though they had been here for only a few months, the ONI operatives and leaders of the operation had managed to alter the terrain and structures for their own personal liking.
      After the plateau there was a hill with a steep drop that lasted about twenty meters, then leveled off and continued forward. There was a river coming out of the mountains to the right of Jakes position, and it led down the plateau and hill and formed a lake at the bottom. The river was perfect from keeping Covenant forces coming from the mountains, and it also set up a perimeter for the compound.
      "Ain't ya comin'?" Mike's voice broke into Bennitz's thoughts and the ONI technician nodded, walking down the ramp.
      The ramp bent at a 90 degree angle to the right, then bent again and continued down until it reached the first floor. Marines and crewman hustled about the hallways, trying to find the areas that were to occupy their time.
      They had come to the ring in a large fleet of Prowlers that scattered and landed in different sections of Halo Installation 07. And when they touched down, they were given their objectives.
      Jake only knew he was on this ring to study the Flood, but not while they were released. Scientists had taken thermal scanners and radar trackers into the hallways below the structure and implanted them into the smooth, concrete floors. For the first few days nothing had happened, but soon activity under the structure began to intensify.
      Thermal scanners showed movement of the Flood in the corridors beneath the facility, and that was how they studied them. But there had only been two forms of the Flood; the Infection Forms and the occasional Carrier Form.
      Wasn't there another type, one that had great strength?
      Jake stopped thinking about the Flood for a moment and stopped in front of the Mess Hall doors, Peters straightened his posture beside him.
      "Verification code, name, rank and serial number required," dully said the AI, Calian, which had been inserted into the Forerunner facility recently.
      "Bennitz, Jake. ONI technician," replied the technician, "Serial number 02475-27754-JB, verification code 4656."
      "Thank you, Jake, please step into the Mess Hall," said Calian from the pedestal that had been set into the floor beside the access door.
      Jake stepped in with Peters, who had bypassed the need to confirm his identity to the AI. Calian wasn't a "dumb" AI, he just was getting the bugs in his computer structure erased and reset.
      "Bennitz, Peters, come and have a seat." said the all-too-familiar Major Junards, who was settled on one of the benches that were connected to the long tables. These, no doubt, had been taken from the Prowler.
      Jake walked over to the bench and sat down at the opposite side of Junards' position. Mike situated himself beside Jake.
      "You requested us, sir?" asked Mike to Colonel Briggs, who was seated beside the Major. Briggs nodded.
      "What for?" questioned Jake.
      "Nothing arduous, Bennitz," the Colonel said calmly, "We just need you to fix the doors to the hallway that lead to the landing zone."
      Jake sighed, he had wanted to do something a bit more exciting, "Yes, sir."
      "And as for you, Sergeant," Briggs said, "We have a few Marines that have lost their squad leader; so they've been transferred to your squad."
      Once the Colonel said "squad", three Marines came out from the opposite door from which Jake had entered. A light was stationed right above the doorway and cast its luminosity into the room.
      The Marines walked over to the table but remained standing.
      "Alex Cunliffe, sir, looking forward to being in your squad," said the muscular Marine who smiled and shook the Sergeant's hand. Wisps of brown hair emerged from under the helmet of the soldier, making him look like a sixteen year old.
      "Chris Cotters, sir." said the Marine beside Alex who was slightly smaller and wore a Marine Corps hat, which revealed most of his blonde hair and scar below his left eye.
      "Chelsea Dewhirst, hope it's not too hard on you to have a woman in your squad," the last Marine said, and smiled. She sported the normal armor of the UNSC and had short, brown hair.
      The Colonel dismissed them from the room, and they strolled down the hallway, not talking. Light filled the wide corridors as soldiers, scientists, ONI personnel, techs and crewmen ambled down them. Jake was the first to reach the automated door, which was already open because of the traffic in the hallways.
      He separated from the Sergeant and Marines and continued to where he was headed: corridor D-12; the one that led all the way to the landing zone. That hallway was over a kilometer long.
      Jake sighed as he approached the damaged door-hatch; the red light centered on the mechanized door flickered green and spat out sparks, lighting up the square room before disappearing into the air. The ONI technician took out the proper tools from his back pocket and started work on the holographic access panel.

2058 Hours, January 13, 2553 (Military Calendar)/Halo 07, In the Makeshift Research Lab of the Forerunner Structure, Zone F-02, studying movement of Flood.

      The monitor showed a rapid increase of activity in the caverns below, and the female scientist, Sara Medds, called over the other scientist Maxell Teck.
"What is it now?" Maxell annoyed, asked, who had been working on a concoction of unknown substances.
      "Look at the thermal and radar readings," replied Sara calmly, "They are massing in numbers, we have contacted the other ONI locations on this ring and they report the same thing."
      "Meaning that they can smell the blood of a human or any kind of living organism that can sustain the Flood's genetic restructuring process," responded Sara with a look of fascination on her expression.
      Maxell looked at the monitor closer, it was a bird's eye view of the Flood activity, and only showed yellowish-red dots shuffling around.
      "Just hope those bastards don't get above the surface," Teck said, "Or we'll all be dead before we can shout fuck."
      Sara nodded in agreement and shut off the monitor, then shut off the thermal scanners so they would recharge over the night and exited the room with Maxell. They were going to get some sleep in the Cryobay; it was hard enough to get some rest without a cryotube.

2102 Hours, January 13, 2553 (Military Calendar)/ Halo Installation 07/ In Forerunner structure, Cryobay C.

      They had also salvaged some cryotubes into the spare room with the twelve meter high roof. Lights beamed down from the ceiling and threw long shadows across the floor. Sergeant Mike Peters strolled to one of the tube's portable control devices that rolled along the floor. Buttons that only—or normally what a tech would only recognize—flashed a pale yellow every few seconds and energy pulsed through the translucent blue metal.
      The Sergeant pressed the correct codes in to unseal several of the cryotubes, and the Marines that were issued into his squad turned their heads to the chiiiitchh sound a tube usually made when open.
      "We gettin' some sleep tonight, Sarge?" asked Alex happily, "Just 'cause I haven't had a good-night's rest in a couple days."
      The Sergeant nodded and the Marines undressed themselves and then inserted themselves into the cryotubes. Mike pressed a series of buttons and sealed the hatches; the cryo-freezing process was automated and the Sergeant called over to a technician who was typing on a portable ONI laptop.
      "How may I be of assistance, sir?" asked the technician.
      "Just shut the hatch of this cryotube here when I'm ready," responded the Sergeant, "Get to the panel."
      "Yes, sir." the technician walked over to the control device.
      Peters began to undress and then hopped into the cryotube, the hatch shut and his vision became foggy, the last thing he remembered was when he whispered to himself, "It sure is cold."

2130 Hours, January 13, 2553 (Military Calendar)/ Halo Installation 07/In Forerunner Facility, heading to control room.

      Jake had finished his appointed duty in half an hour, which was pretty quick considering that the Forerunner mechanisms were completely different from Covenant and Human technology alike.
      There was a sudden snarl, and Jake faced towards the sound, and then there was an odd groan, but nothing appeared in Jake's vision. Odd, the tech thought, better report this to the ONI Commander. He pace quickened into a run and he was at a full pace down the hallway, barely anyone else accompanied him in the corridor.
      He ran through the door where he had come through to fix the D-12 hallway door-hatch and it shut behind him silently. Jake paused and rested his hands on his knees as he bent over and panted. Whatever was back there had scared the shit out of him.
      But it couldn't have been the Flood; there was strict protocol not to release them. So he continued forward to the control center, banishing the terrifying thought of the Flood being loose, looking fearfully over his shoulders every few seconds.