The Strive to Survive (Chapter 6: Nothing to Lose)
Posted By: CoLd BlooDed
Date: 1 April 2004, 2:02 AM
The Strive to Survive (Chapter 6: Nothing to Lose)
0102 Hours, January 13, 2553 (Military Calendar)/ On Halo 07 in ancient Forerunner structure, in the Mess Hall.
The technician was roused from sleep as Alex's boot nudged him in the stomach. Jake tiredly rubbed his eyes and stretched, for the first few seconds he couldn't remember anything and felt peaceful. But after he saw the weary faces of the other personnel his fears flooded back into him.
"Did everyone get a decent rest?" calmly asked the female scientist who picked a Pistol off the trolley and slammed a fresh clip into it.
"Now where did you learn to do that?" asked the Sergeant as he stared at Sara, who switched the safety off and aimed the weapon at the wall.
"Alex taught me while the rest of you were resting," she replied as she holstered the gun, "I thought it would come in handy."
The rest of the ONI workers grabbed weapons and loaded them with the appropriate ammunition, several high-pitched clacks echoed out through the small room.
The Mess Hall was dark; the shadows hugged tightly to the corners but wavered whenever the damaged lights fixed into the ceiling flickered. Jake looked into the fearful eyes of Maxell, sweat trickled down his soot-stained forehead and were absorbed by his twitching eyebrows. The other scientist—the female—seemed much calmer than Teck; behind her glasses were her pale blue iris's that glowed with confidence and composure. Jake's eyes wandered around the soldier's faces, even though their brows were speckled with sweat, the mixed emotions of assurance, anger, and composedness etched their expressions.
"So"—interjected Mike as he shouldered his Assault Rifle—"we're going to go down that huge passage to get to the landing zones?"
The technician reluctantly nodded.
"I'm all for it, but...we'll be sitting ducks walking through that narrow corridor," the Sergeant paused, but his eyes still locked with Jakes', "It takes forty minutes to go down the D-12, I've been through it, shafts are fixed into the roofs every four meters. Flood would be on us in a second."
"That's a chance we're going to have to risk," replied Jake with a tone of certainty, "We have no other choice."
There was a sudden, awkward silence, as the ONI personnel shuffled around and stared down at the floor, Sara was the first to speak up, "Come on, we should leave now."
"What about Chelsea—"Alex stopped talking as he looked back at where the creature was tied down, the sorrow for his friend hadn't left his system. Jake couldn't blame him; he had only witnessed her death hours before.
"We bring her with us, she'll be rather important for studying purposes as I have said before." replied Medds, the scientist, "We only have to bring her to the Prowler."
Alex and the Sergeant grabbed the gurney with the altered Chelsea on it and slowly pushed it towards the door. The technician slammed the button that was fixed into the wall by the door with his fist; the metal slid apart silently and revealed the darkened corridors. The quick pitter-patter of Infection Forms filled Jakes' ears along with the odd groaning his hearing had accustomed to.
The stretcher holding the writhing Combat Form was pushed through the door, and as the creature groaned and its head twisted to face Jake, the technician felt a lump form in his throat and his stomach groaned. Chelsea's once-attractive expression had been replaced with rotting skin—several bones protruded from its cheeks, flesh covered its mouth and nostrils.
The survivors singled out of the room, quickly dispatching a Carrier Form that lingered at the far end of the hall with Pistols. It exploded; sending its own flesh, blood, and bone onto the walls, the parasitic creatures flew out of it, however, and latched onto the walls.
The Sergeant shoved the loaded gurney down the hallway, it drifted towards where the Infection Forms had gathered onto the floor and rammed into them. Every one of the bulbous forms popped in a spray of olive-hue flesh.
The ONI personnel jogged down the hall and made their way through a damaged doorway, sparks flew from the holo-port and burned their skin, but they continued to edge on.
"We need to get to the D-12 corridor," Jake said in a raspy voice, "That's the only way to the location of the Prowler."
"And that hallway goes under the plateau and under part of the lake, right?" inquired the male scientist with a roguish expression, a change from the normally complaining and scared Maxell.
"That's affirmative, Teck, but we'd better get a move on, don't want the Flood to beat us to the Prowlers."
Jake had turned away from the conversing survivors and called up the structures subroutines; he highlighted the D-12 and magnified the section. Movement all around the corridor—above, below, and to the sides of the hallway showed major collections of glowing red blips. Logic wasn't a friend right about now; they would have to make one long dash down the massive passage.
But they were going to have to get to the entrance of the corridor first.
"Come on," ordered Mike as he grabbed the hovering ONI stretcher, "let's get going."
Private Cunliffe was the first into the next room, followed by Jake, then the scientists and Sarge. The lights had dimmed in this section, and the only thing illuminating it was the holo-panels on the far side of the room. The personnel shuffled through the area hurriedly and made their way down a hall.
There was a sudden explosion and metal showered down on the survivors, the steel fragments clattered onto the ancient floor. Infection Forms poured out seconds after as the ONI personnel dived out of the way of the falling creatures while firing their weapons. Stifled pops echoed through the open hallway as three of the parasites leaped towards Jake, the technician stumbled backwards and collapsed against the wall.
The first two Infection Forms hit the wall and burst, but the last one managed to drive its razor-sharp tentacle into the tech's left leg.
Jake raised his head and screamed in agony; white flashes from the others' weapons illuminated the wide corridor as the bullets left the barrels. The shots ripped through the parasite's flesh, causing it to retract its penetrator, and explode in a small spray of green blood and skin.
The Sergeant once again shoved the floating gurney towards the largest accumulation of the squid-resembling creatures; it collided with the first row of Infection Forms and initiated several more soft explosions. Peters flexed his right shoulder as he stroked it with his free hand; blood oozed from a wound as his fingers intricately rubbed the gash.
Alex helped the dazed technician up—Jake's legs trembled and he almost collapsed, tears from the intense pain welled up in his eyes.
"Come on," ordered the Sarge, "Get that kid filled up with biofoam and let's get the hell outta here."
Sara stepped over to Jake and took out a biofoam injector from her lab coat's pocket, stuck it into his injured leg, and clicked a button to insert the foaming contents into his bloody hole. The technician sighed as the pain that had lanced through his body subsided and was replaced with an icy cold substance, he attempted to stand and was successful.
Jake limped over to the door and hit in several commands on the holo-panel that was near the entrance. The metal doors slid apart quickly and revealed the perfectly square room where the technician had been only several hours ago. The D-12 doorway's light glowed a confident green as the survivors swept into the room.
Jake held his breath as he stepped over a fallen Flood corpse, its bones jutted out from its tattered, green flesh and its limbs had been thrown across the room. A firefight had definitely broken out, but for what reason? Had some other ONI survivors tried to get down the corridor and get to the Prowlers? Had they left the ring already leaving Jake and everyone else stranded?
Anxiety and wonder filled the technician's thoughts, but then another thing occurred to him, what if they left on the Prowler and let everyone else to die?
Jake noticed that the others were staring at him; he approached the D-12 access panel with the pending emotion of fear and tapped in another string of commands on the glowing blue holo-panel.
The door didn't open, however, as the last button was tapped. The radiant green light implanted into the Forerunner metal exploded and sent a stream of sparks onto the floor. Jake cursed as he moved towards the door and kicked it.
The striking sound of metal against metal reverberated around the room, Jake—who thought he had triggered something—instantly moved backwards. The doors bulged outwards before exploding and sending large portions of wreckage across the room, each piece of debris trailed a blue flame as it skittered over the floor.
Infection Forms flooded out of the broken hatch as the Sergeant roared and primed a grenade, he hurled it across the room. An explosion rang out and caused Jake to stumble backwards, and in his weakened state, it didn't take long for him to trip from the blast.
"Don't stop firing!" barked Peters as more of the small, bulbous creatures exploded sending shards of flesh into the air.
The technician held the trigger down on his Pistol in confusion, aligning the barrel with an Elite-resembling Combat Form that jumped through the smoke that had been emitted from the frag explosion.
Bullets tore into the creatures' abdomen causing blood, flesh, and brittle bone to spurt out the opposite end. The living carcass dropped to the ground and popped any Infection Form that was under it, but more of the creatures crawled over the body and made their way towards Jake.
Muzzle flashes from the soldiers' weapons lit up the room as the rounds were concentrated on the parasites. Another grenade blast killed more of the bulbous creatures as several more Combat Forms stepped through the doorway. Jake stood, ignoring the unsteady feeling, and shot at several of the monstrosities.
One of the creatures were ripped apart by a Shotgun blast held by Alex, the Infection Form concealed in the chest was tossed out and quickly exploded.
Jake shot the "head" off one of the Combat Forms, the skull—which was enveloped in rotten flesh—flew across the room and shattered on the ancient wall. The technician slipped on a broken Flood ligament and stumbled to the ground as the pain in his leg returned, Sara shot down a Combat Form that had leaped over the fallen survivor, ending the frantic firefight.
The brave scientist helped Jake back onto his feet; she pointed at a wall and spoke: "Looks like Covenant have been here before us. Maybe we'll find some near the landing zones."
The technician took a closer look at the walls as he shone the light on his Pistol at it. Many plasma holes had been etched into the antique metal, each one deeper and wider than the last, it was certain that the Covenant had been here, the Flood didn't always resort to their weapons.
There was a sudden yelp of surprise from Maxell as Jake turned back to the damaged D-12 entranceway, standing there—glowing a ghostly blue from the plasma swords—were two Elites, mandibles open, energy blades raised.
"Fire!" barked the Sarge, "These sons of bitches have shields!"
Jake didn't hesitate to bring up his Pistol and pull the trigger, but the chamber was empty and the technician quickly slammed a fresh clip into the weapon. He crouched behind a fallen Covenant communication apparatus and raised the gun over his head and fired.
The others had taken shelter behind crevices in the wall as the Elites walked confidently through the room, the plasma swords shining a pale blue—casting an ethereal radiance around the aliens.
Jake peered over the side of the Covenant equipment to see one of the Elites take a trio of bullets from the Sarge, the protective shields flared suddenly as an explosion rang out.
"Take that you fuckers!" crowed Alex as he shot the alien.
The creature roared as several bullets tore into its armor and passed through its flesh, spraying purple blood out of the opposite side of the body. The technician delivered the final shot to put the creature out of its misery, its energy blade clattered to the floor and snapped off once the fail-safes activated.
The other Elite had taken cover behind a large slab of rubble, waiting for its shields to recharge. Maxell foolishly ran to where the alien was hoping to finish it off, but yelled in shock as the Elite lunged out at him with its sword glimmering.
The radiating energy blade arced through the air in one swift motion; the scientist stumbled back as the sword came down—missing Teck by bare centimeters.
Jake, Sara, Alex, and the Sergeant opened fire simultaneously; the staccato rumble of Assault Rifles filled the technician's ears as him and the female scientist fired their Pistols. The Elite, however, kept swinging at the agile scientist with more determination than ever.
Bullets pinged off of the walls and alien's shields as spent bullet casings littered the ground. The Elite bent his knees and stretched out his arms as the human weaponry disabled the protective shields—it roared ferociously and continued to stab at the male scientist.
Maxell threw his hands up—hoping to block the sword with his arms—and felt the blazing hot plasma cut into his index finger. He screamed, withdrew his bleeding hand, and fell back against the wall, large beads of sweat dribbled down his sullen brow. His severed finger rolled harmlessly into the foot of the ferocious alien.
The Elite chortled in its own alien tongue and raised the energy sword; its blue light blazed with a sudden force and lit up the room in a pale hue. Jake aimed for the head as the blade came down on the scientist, but before the plasma sword cut into Maxell, a bullet tore through its helmet and the alien dropped its weapon and collapsed onto its knees.
Alex ran up to the fallen Covenant soldier, aimed his Assault Rifle at the alien's bloodied face, and emptied his weapons magazine into the Elite. Thick, purple gore splattered against the wall and onto the angered Marine's clothing, skin, and rifle, the alien's face was completely blown away as the ammo-counter turned to "0".
Sara bandaged up Maxell and they started their long run down the corridor, with the male scientist complaining about the pain of his recently sustained wound.
Peters led the personnel down the kilometer-long hallway with the hovering Flood-loaded stretcher—the dazed and confused survivors ran as fast as they could endure, thousands of thoughts flooded their doubting minds.
"How much longer?" wheezed Alex.
"Only another couple hundred meters," replied the Sergeant in an easy tone, if he was in pain or discomfort, he definitely wasn't showing it, "Suck it up, Cunliffe, be thankful that you're still alive."
The Marine stopped talking after the Sarge's remark; Jake grew weary as did the others, but pushed himself to go on. His forehead burned as perspiration dripped down, it felt like his legs were being weighed down by bricks, his saliva tasted bitter and he tried to spit onto the floor—but every time he tried it would stick to his mouth spatter his ONI uniform.
Sara was the first to stop, and the fatigued technician followed, but pretended to see what she was doing to show that he wasn't weakened.
"What..." panted the technician, his stomach growled, "are you doing?"
She held up a hand and covered her sweat-covered face, the tough, female scientist then put her hands on her knees and gagged; vomit spewed from her mouth and onto the Forerunner architecture.
Jake took the time to examine the other scientist's condition; his bandaged hand was now coated in dark, red blood which he continued to grab at with his uninjured hand. He could hear the female scientist retching as he peered down the hall; the D-12 kept going until it was engulfed in a deep shadow, the technician couldn't make out much more.
He turned to Sara, the color of her skin had been completely drained from her face, but her eye's held onto the same pale blue color that he had noticed before.
The scientist injected herself with a stim-pack and swallowed some nutrient supplements, and soon she was fit to go.
The ONI survivors continued down the hallway for several more meters when three Carrier forms dropped from a shaft in the ceiling. The Sergeant, who had once again taken the lead, shoved the floating gurney past the creatures.
Several bullets exited the chamber of the technician's weapon and tore through the nearest bloated forms decaying flesh. The size of the creature doubled, its flesh bulged outwards, and its tentacle arms thrashed before the Flood form exploded in a messy combination of bone and flesh.
The other monstrosities were tossed down the hallway from the blast and beyond the halted stretcher—two more muted explosions echoed down the hallway, the Infection Forms were flown free.
Alex let off a whole magazine at the scurrying parasites, and in a few seconds, nothing else accompanied the frightened ONI personnel in the cramped corridor.
"Keep going." ordered the Sergeant.
They proceeded down the long remainder of the hallway, but at a slow pace, Sara still suffered from dehydration and slowed them all down, but for the greater benefit.
When they reached the area of the hall that was completely engulfed in shadow, they stopped and checked how much farther they had to go.
"We still have one hundred meters to go," put in the Sergeant, "I suggest we take a good break, this hallway wasn't meant for runnin'."
The weary technician collapsed against the wall, the iciness of the wall came as a supported energy boost as he closed his drooping eyes. His blood burned, and he could taste copper, his breaths came in ragged gasps.
There was a sudden explosion from the far end of the hall, the way they had entered and had spent the last forty minutes trekking across.
"What the fuck was that?" asked Maxell as he peered down the hallway.
There was another explosion and hundreds of bobbing shapes poured out from the smoke and debris, Jake turned to stare wide-eyed at the Sergeant.
"Flood," he responded calmly, "We better get goin', people, don't want to let them get caught up to us."
Even though the creatures were over hundreds of meters away, he could still feel the force of their weight slamming down into the floor, shaking the D-12 with every step. The technician backed up slowly, the wave of monsters coming towards them disappeared from sight as he turned around and ran along with the others. It was only the beginning.