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The Breaking Point
Posted By: CoLd BlooDed
Date: 28 March 2004, 12:57 AM

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The Breaking Point

      Traku 'Noralemee stretched his aching muscles; the fighting hadn't stopped ever since his Spec Ops squad had been situated into the Truth and Reconciliation's hangar. The others were still combating the remaining Flood combat forms, but other than that, the battle was coming to a momentary pause.
      The Special Operations team, consisting of eight Elites, covered most of the first and second floors, 'Noralemee sat in a Shade that was situated on the second level's walkway that extended into the middle of the bay. A large wall separated the first deck of the hangar into two; the fleeting shadows hid in the corners and disappeared when the damaged lights flickered a soothing, blue hue.
      The remnants of another squad lingered in one of the side passages that led to the bottom floor and would come at Traku's signal if he needed aid. The Covenant Commander surveyed his gloomy surroundings, and when he realized that no more Flood had proceeded into the massive bay, he ordered for his troops to recollect on the catwalk that split the room.
      The shaded silhouettes of his team could be made out moving through the shadows across the suspended walkway and towards 'Noralemee. The Elite Commander clicked his mandibles and hopped out of the Shade, several shots from Plasma Rifles echoed from the floor below, lighting up the dark in exquisite blue flashes.
      "They're coming, Excellency," informed one of the Elites, Tae 'Allatorinee, which Traku outranked by a full level, but was the closest thing that the Commander had to a friend, "But not individually, as you may have thought, they collected among themselves and are . . . are moving towards us in a large, if not perilous, number."
      "Thank you, 'Allatorinee," the brave 'Noralemee responded, "We will be prepared, and although they approach in overwhelming numbers, we will be ready."
      The Elites of the squad didn't move a muscle, not even as an explosion derived from the shadowed, bottom floor, sending a fresh wave of heat upon the Covenant soldiers.
      Traku motioned for Tae to mount the Shade, if a Commander knew every single strength of his men; he knew that Tae was a deadly shot sitting behind the pulsing controls of the turret. The soldier snapped to attention, clicked his mandibles, and trundled towards the stationary weapon, the empty clanging of Tae's boots rattled against the inside of Traku's head.
      "As for the rest of you," the Commander spoke with potency as he turned towards the rest, "I want each of you—in pairs—to guard the walkways; three of you need to defend the door that leads to the next floor. If you find trouble holding back the enemy, retreat to this platform and we will continue the fight. May the gods be with you, good luck."
      The soldiers bowed their heads, but when 'Noralemee roared a sudden battle cry, his men followed his lead and were soon marching off to their assigned positions with renewed vigor and strength.
      'Noralemee was distracted for a moment, he realized that he was doomed to die on the ring along with his people, his kind, and that he was sending each and every one of them under his command to their certain death. The thought had occurred to him before, but not as intense as now, the precious few moments before the battle started, the battle that would inevitably kill all of them.
      "Tae, be sure to keep alert, Flood come from everywhere, we've experienced that together, please, don't be foolish." Traku said softly but loudly to his comrade, the Elite nodded.
      "Yes, Excellency."
      There were more sounds of gunfire, but this time it was the faltering rumble of the weapons the humans bore, the ones that fired the primitive projectiles, although the weapons weren't carried by the infidels, it routinely instilled anger into the Commander's heart. Traku snarled with sudden force, unclipped the plasma sword from his belt and raised it into the air, it snapped on suddenly, casting its blue hue into the dim launch bay of the Truth and Reconciliation.
      "Fight, they are coming, and fight with everything you've got!" he called out. "Muster your last ounces of strength before we all fall into our unavoidable deaths!"
      He waved the pulsating energy blade as the men under his command roared in triumph over the battlenet, broadcasting their momentary bliss to ever single Covenant soldier stationed on the ring. But as if something had been triggered when the shouts died out, an explosion rumbled through the hangar but this time it wasn't from below, it came from the ceiling. Fire billowed out of a vent that lined the wall before it bent to make the roof, large clouds of smoke swirled in deep motes of grey before the tiny infection forms poured out and clutched onto the walls.
      "Fire your weapons!" snarled the Commander, as soon as he finished talking the Shade had already begun to fire rapidly and the Elites that had visible shots were shooting away.
      Purple fingers of superheated plasma scorched the walls, melting the alloy and causing the metal plates to crack and break off. Some of the shots managed to pop the bulbous creatures that were emerging from the shadows, but a large group—roughly around forty—kept scuttling over the platform towards the first two Covenant soldiers.
      Both of the Elites stood their ground, firing their weapons repeatedly at the creatures until the plasma rifles blossomed like flowers and dispensed pale wisps of blue. The first two rows of the parasitic life forms had been vaporized, but when one of Traku's men had fallen under the weight of the monsters, the other Elite had begun to retreat.
      "All squads guarding the main halls, retreat, I repeat, retreat!" a voice, similar to that of the Prophets, snarled in fear over the Covenant network. It was of no use to the Special Operations squad, as they weren't even close to the main hallways, therefore not being entitled to flee.
      There was a defiant growl, bordered with fear and great pain, that echoed from the fallen soldier, the Commander turned his attention to that particular Elite and watched as a sudden blue shone out between the spaces of the attacking infection forms. Rays of sapphire tinged light bounced off the reflective walls, tagging them with the oddest serenity that Traku hadn't felt since he had begun his training.
      But when he refocused his attention on the now-pulsating blue orb that lay under the shuffling creatures, he immediately realized it was a plasma grenade.
      The Commander stopped firing and bowed his head as the Covenant-crafted grenade exploded, painting the ground with leathery flesh, blood, brains and bone, charred pieces of the dead Elite's helmet rained down upon Traku who silently cursed under his breath.
      The surviving soldier, the one that had retreated, had joined up with two others that had been guarding the walkway which led onto the platform that stretched into the middle of the room. Buds of light spouted from the energy weapons and sizzled the skin of the ongoing infection forms, popping them almost instantly.
      The Elites guarding the door were having no trouble at all with any combat forms that had worked their way down the side passages, all it took were a few well placed grenades and shots.
      "All squads rendezvous at gravity lift—the Flood are massing, but we mustn't let them overrun this ship!" barked the Prophet over the network once again, but less fear and more anger trimmed the edges of its tone.
      'Noralemee wasn't surprised to see that several human combat forms had jumped from the top platform and run towards him, but was surprised when they erupted in a sudden outburst of flesh, bone and decayed brains. The startled Commander turned to see that the gun ports of the Shade were cooling, and comprehended that the kills belonged to 'Allitorninee, a rush of heroism flew through the Elite's body as he turned with his plasma sword raised.
      But in the midst of all the fighting, he couldn't help but wonder what good it would do to keep going, to keep shooting. Sure, it slowed him from the feared but welcomed death that he would soon be facing, but what use was it really? What good was it to fight for his race when thousands upon thousands died because they had been told?
      Because it is honorable! the voice of loyalty piped up inside his own mind as Traku fired his weapon at a small cluster of infection forms. The others were foolish, it was their own faults they ended up dead so soon, we slowed the time of our deaths, but it's worth living, isn't it, Traku?
      The Commander pondered this moment for a second, thinking of how the others he had worked for, and with, had fallen under certain circumstances where Traku had been forced to retreat or was overwhelmed. Right now was a different matter.
      Is it really? asked the voice indignantly as a putrid-smelling walking carcass was skewered by Traku's glowing sword. We're all dying here, 'Noralemee, it's only a matter of time, it's the gods' decision, and they are here for us. Don't despair, Traku, even if you are the only one doubting the next life, you won't be disappointed!
      He didn't know how the other side of his mind knew that, but believed it, along with the fact that he was slipping into a war-driven insanity, considering the fact that he was arguing with himself during a fight which would certainly end his remarkable life.
      "Duck, Traku!" ordered Tae from behind him, the sudden noise of plasma fire broke into his deepening thoughts; the Commander threw himself to the deck.
      The inner voice tried to speak again, but 'Noralemee ignored it, trying to drown out the arguing sound of himself with a full flurry of plasma bolts, they quickly collided with the soft flesh of a combat form, melting the chest away and popping the deflated infection form.
      There was a cry of anguish over the private network that the Spec. Ops. Team had worked to establish, gurgling sounds replaced the scream and soon ended.
      Before he knew it, the remaining Elites had retreated to the single platform that divided the bottom floor into two, continuing to pour fire at the creatures that waddled from the vents and doors.
      It's only a matter of time . . . the voice overlapped the sounds of battle and caused the Commander's vision to blur. Watch out, Traku; remember, you are just as vulnerable as your men. I suggest you take cover before it is too—
      A large explosion rang out, cutting off the inner voice and knocking over one of the purple communication diodes onto the ground. Scorched pieces of twisted metal showered the Spec. Ops. Team and the voice was silenced for good as 'Noralemee witnessed his shields flare from the falling wreckage.
      "Fatal Actions squad moving back to support retreating soldiers, keep moving! Get to the gravity lift immediately!" another Commander yelled over the battlenet as another explosion, although smaller in size and intensity broke into launch bay.
      Three more silhouettes, undoubtedly belonging to combat forms, descended from the top platform, landing on the walkway that the Elites occupied in fleshy thunks. They fired assault weapons, causing bullets to ricochet off Traku's shields, the Commander returned fire before diving behind the fallen comm. box.
      "Failed to hold Them off. Cannot make it to gravity lift, proceeding to launch bay, need extraction." a completely different voice broke over the network in a belch of static, 'Noralemee's mood lightened, if they could get a dropship into the hangar it was possible he and his team could survive.
      We'd retreat to a safer vector, he thought as the head of a Covenant combat form splattered against his armor, we'd set up somewhere else and make a significant defense. We could actually live.
      But the response to the soldier which had called for extraction denied the request, quickly causing Traku to roar with rage, it was impossible to make it, impossible.
      I told you! the voice had returned, muffling the sounds once again. But you didn't believe me, this doesn't make you a supporter, Traku, and you know how the gods feel about that. They—
      "Silence!" he snarled out loud, he was already tired of listening to himself talk on and on, if he was going to die, he would do it with honor and vigor.
      The plasma sword he wielded pulsed green as he shoved it into the decayed stomach of a combat form, as the blade punctured the infection form burrowed beneath, the Flood form crumpled to the blood stained deck.
Four more combat forms dropped from the top deck, the Shade's constant firing shattered the rest of the Commander's thoughts, rendering him bloodthirsty and tactless.
      Traku raised his sword above his head, and in one smooth slicing motion, he brought it down—and through—the body of a combat form taller than himself, blood splattered every part of his armor, leaving the Commander wanting more.
      He swung the superheated plasma sword from side to side while making sure to mind his troops, and managed to tear apart two other combat forms before another explosion rang out, welcoming several more of the monsters to the fight.
      "Come on, we're almost there!" the same voice as before broke in over the battlenet, "Approaching launch bay, be aware." there were a few seconds of empty silence over the communication network, but then the soldier yelled in caution, "Watch out, new contacts! Fire your weapons, hur—"
      An explosion rumbled over the channel and in the launch bay, one of the doors on the upper platforms hurled fire, smoke, and debris out onto the deck. Bodies of Elites, Grunts, Jackals, and combat forms flew out along with the dying blast, painting the surrounding area with different colored, oozing blood.
      Three combat forms stumbled out of the doorway, running blindly around until they caught the scent of meat and jumped down onto the platforms with flailing tentacles.
      The Shade fired until the cooling units were activated, of the fourteen surviving combat forms that fought on the center platform; only two were taken down from the turret. Tae roared as the small conduit controls locked on him, and while he was doing this several combat forms managed to disable his shields with well placed shots from Pistols.
      'Noralemee noticed this even as he cut the legs off of another Flood form in a spray of decomposed skin and sticky, green blood. Tae had jumped off from the stationary turret and taken cover behind it, but luckily the combined fire from the other Elites had taken care of the attacking combat forms.
      Two of the forms launched at one of the troops standing in front of Traku, and were successful in knocking him down; one more hit from each of the creatures was all it took for the soldiers' shields to be completely drained. Murky purple blood slopped from a wound located on the Elite's right shoulder, creating a dim, sticky pool around his neck and torso. The closest Flood form raised its flailing tentacle arm and brought it down—
      —but the injured soldier that had fallen raised its plasma rifle and fired point-blank into the creatures stomach, ripping it apart before the tentacle was able to finish him off.
      The other combat form, however, which had somehow stumbled farther from its target, squeezed the trigger of the shotgun it held, blowing the head off of the fallen Elite in a millisecond. Brains and pieces of helmet splattered the platform.
      Under the protection of the recharged—and currently firing—Shade, Traku moved in with his glowing plasma sword raised above his head, pursuing the one creature that had recently killed one of his men. 'Noralemee summed up all his power as he held the blade behind his back, his muscles twitched in fatigue causing him to swing early.
      Straight lines of blue energy crackled behind the swords path, and Traku felt no delay as the blade detached the combat forms' chest from its legs, and he continued to swing in a wide circle with the pulsating sword.
      The plasma blade had cut through six other Flood before the energy flowing through it overloaded and snapped off, and when he discarded of the weapon infection forms assaulted the surviving Elites.
      "Help, Excellency!" cried out Tae in anguish, a combat form had managed to leap behind the fighting troops and relieve the Commander's friend of his shields.
      It was too late. The creature had brought down its deformed appendage before Traku could respond, sending a dark spray of purple blood across the deck. Tae wasn't dead yet, but suffered another brutal hit from the combat form, and the Elite shouted in fury as his top two mandibles were broken. The attacking monstrosity delivered its final blow before Traku could aid his friend.
      A shot echoed in vain from the defeated soldier, the blue plasma blast flew across the hangar and melted into the roof, tiny fragments of burnt metal dropped onto the floor.
      "No!" the Commander exclaimed, and he shot down the deformed freak that had slaughtered his comrade, tendrils of liquefied organs spilled out from the stomach of the creature before it toppled off the platform and crumpled on the floor below.
      Traku turned around to see most of his men dead or dying, and realized that he stood by himself, standing in a room which had occupied so much of his time already. Shame and exhaustion replaced his dynamism and excitement, it wasn't worth it.
      Wasn't it?
      No, it wasn't, the others under his command shouldn't have fallen so quickly, it was only a matter of time until he died himself.
      Something shuffled to his left, and the Commander turned towards it and saw the demon in green armor, the super soldier that the humans had genetically augmented, the human that instilled fear into the hearts of the Covenant.
      Without a moments hesitation and his thoughts fully restored, he remembered the backup that wandered the passages leading to the bottom floor. "Obscured From Reality team in need of reinforcements in launch bay, do any forces copy?"
      "Instilled Qualms squad is moving to your position, Commander, stay where you are."
      'Noralemee kept his eyes on the armored figure crouched behind the defensive shields that were set up on the other side of the bay. He felt cold all of a sudden, and when his vision was impaired by the flickering shields he realized he was being shot at, the combat forms hadn't been completely repelled.
      Traku spun around only to see that his only defenses had been depleted of energy, a warning tone rung through his mind as another one of the creatures leaped over to him. The armored figure on the other side of the bay tossed one of its primitive grenades over the shield, the explosive bounced off the Shade and exploded beside the Commander.
      There were shots from the reinforcements that had entered the hangar as Traku was tossed onto the deck, a long, gore-clotted bone jutted out from his leg and produced a pain so intense it caused the Elites vision to turn red and grey, black roses coalesced in front of his eyes as the pain continued to thrum through his body.
      The room began to melt in front of his eyes, whether it was the extreme pain or his slipping sanity it was a frightening hallucination. The walls sunk until large, gaping holes appeared, exposing nothing but blackness beyond. The platforms seemed to loosen too, as the metal bent and lowered until it touched the throbbing floor.
      'Noralemee screamed in both pain and fear, a various quantity of colors swarmed before his damaged eyes, and when he turned to look at the bottom floor, it had been completely melted away like liquefied plastics, loose strings of fluttering metal hung from hinges and superstructure.
      The black roses blemished suddenly, enveloping the dying Commanders vision in a marooned gloom, he welcomed his death, and suddenly a white light took him and his tortured soul away. He had reached the breaking point.