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The Strive to Survive (Chapter 7: Survivors)
Posted By: CoLd BlooDed<kwb_419_@hotmail.com>
Date: 9 April 2004, 4:49 AM

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The Strive to Survive (Chapter 7: Survivors)
0213 Hours, January 14, 2553 (Military Calendar)/ On Ancient Forerunner Ringworld: Halo 07, in structure heading down corridor D-12.

      The silent thumping of decomposed feet echoed down the massive hallway, bouncing off the thick concrete walls and rumbling the D-12. They were almost at the end, a faint border of illumination lit up the darkness many meters ahead, but it was close.
      The pain had subsided in Jake's leg, but the thirst and tiredness had gotten to him, and he grunted with every step. The others jogged slowly in front of him in the dark, their footfalls drowned out from the pounding Flood. The survivors were almost there, the passage was coming to an end. Perfect, they could escape and leave the overrun ringworld behind. But the thought of leaving any possible survivors came to enter the technician's mind, and thought hard before they exited the D-12.
      Where do we go after we board the Prowler? You certainly don't know how to control one! a voice that didn't belong to his own echoed through his skull. Besides, do you really expect to get anywhere even if you do reach space?
      He honestly didn't, with the lack of people to control the ship, and possibility that Flood wandered the corridors the Prowler; he didn't really expect to get anywhere.
      That's why he thought that there had to be survivors, even if there were only scientists and other technicians, they could still pilot the ship home. The thought lightened his mood, and so did the fresh air that greeted him as he walked up the ramp and exited the D-12. The sight amazed him.
      Longsword fighters were landed on the patterned Forerunner concrete along with Pelicans in random places, the Prowler—although smaller than most ONI spacecrafts—still towered over the aircrafts, but the sun that cast its light upon Halo's surface were blocked by a massive amount of clouds. There were footfalls, many of them, and Jake for a moment thought they were hostiles. He raised his Pistol and pointed it at the direction of the sound.
      A voice, however, echoed behind a large slab of ravaged stone, its tone was friendly but nervous.
      "Hey, we have survivors!"
      A shape stepped out from behind the block, it was a Marine clad in the standard ONI-issued armor, he spoke again, "Well, hurry up! Get over here!"
      Jake's heart lightened and he laughed, as did Peters and Alex's, the ONI personnel ran to the soldier, all memory of the Flood forgotten. A name scrolled over the Marine's head and labeled him as an ONI Marine from Bravo platoon. The technician remembered that particular squad from when they had first landed on the ring, they had been the ones that cleared out the structure and secured the plateau. Bravo was one of the best platoon's that ONI had formed. The Sergeant pushed the ONI gurney with the combat form along with them.
      "Acknowledged, Lieutenant, sending men to your position." a deep, brusque voice spoke up over the COM, "How many are there?"
      Jake pondered on how the communication network was back up and running, it hadn't been functioning before, or it was a possible outcome that the transmissions couldn't find their way out of the thick-walled structure.
      "Five, sir, they came out from the D-12 on foot," he let out a kindly chuckle, "They must've come here for a good reason, but I'll let you discuss that with 'em later."
      "I gotcha, send them over to us as soon as we get them."
      Several more Marines emerged from behind the ancient blocks of unknown stones, with Assault Rifles at the ready, they eyed the weary personnel. Although no one said anything, Jake knew what they were thinking. How did these guys get out? The technician smiled bitterly, a cut had been forged into his brow and was bleeding, and he wiped it off hastily. The Sergeant looked happy and stepped forward, holding out his hand.
      "First Sergeant Mike Peters," he said roughly, "In charge of Alpha Team... or what's left of it."
      "Good to see you, Sergeant, I'm Second Lieutenant Oliver Packs," replied the soldier as he shook hands with Peters, "We need to get you inside the Prowler to talk to Captain Corons, give the combat form to the next scientist you see."
      "Corons is still alive?" asked a surprised Private Cunliffe.
      "Affirmative, Private, now hurry, let's get you inside."
      They followed the Lieutenant through the numerous ONI and UNSC aircrafts, computer terminals, and radar diodes, with every step taking them closer to the Prowler that loomed above. The sun was peaking out over the clouds right then, casting its light rays onto the ringworld and causing the ONI spaceship to throw its shadow across the landing zone. Jake followed Peters and Cunliffe as they trailed Oliver Packs, the two scientists shuffled behind the technician. The Marines that had appeared behind the Lieutenant before had assembled in Beta formation and were cautiously glancing around. This brought the thought of the Flood storming through the kilometer long passage to Jake's mind.
      "Yes, technician?"
      "The Flood are approaching through the D-12."
      "What?" the Lieutenant wheeled around, his face was still marked with bravery, "Come, we need to get to the Captain quickly."
      They made the rest of the way through rubble and electronic equipment until they reached the Titanium-A battle armor of the Prowler, a door parted for them as they stepped inside. A gentle yellow light filled the interior of the hallway, it was oddly calming, in a way. The gurney was taken from the hands of the Sergeant by a skinny male scientist as they made their way through a door. The deformed Chelsea thrashed about and hissed before being cut off by the closing of the door.
      It took several more minutes for the Lieutenant to lead the ONI personnel to the Captain, who sat in a small office with a wooden desk, he was writing on some document when the survivors walked in.
      Corons looked up from his work and smiled sullenly; he dropped his pen on the desk and invited them in. "Sit down. Lieutenant, you are free to leave."
      "Sir!" Oliver left the room quietly as the others sat down, the Private remained standing.
      "Now, as you know," the Captain said as he stared into Jake's eyes, giving him an unsettling sensation, "we have taken cover on this landing zone, and we are holding them off fairly well... we managed to pull out three platoons: Bravo, Delta, and Romeo."
      "Three platoons, sir?" questioned Mike.
      "That's correct, Sergeant, and we have been planning an operation to retake the structure. We have a sufficient amount of men to do this, and once we do capture it, we can blow it up."
      "How do you plan on doing this?" asked Jake slowly.
      "If we plant charges in the power coupling rooms it would take down the entire facility and destroy all the equipment we had set up." replied the Captain sadly and then added, "And if we destroy the generator, it will deactivate everything set up in there, including the equipment. Either way, our stuff is gone."
      "Why are you telling us this?" Sara inquired thoughtfully.
      "We're sending you along. We need every person we can get, and now that we know you guys are tough enough to survive, you are permitted to go."
      "Permitted?! We never asked to go in the first place... sir." Maxell said angrily.
      "I don't care; we need every person we have. This operation won't be a walk in the park, just reaching the structure would be hard enough."
      "And don't you think it's a bit dangerous sending a woman in?" asked the female scientist sternly.
      "There are risks, but you will be useful." replied Corons. "The platoons head out in three hours, I suggest you join up with Bravo, they'll take care of you."
      "Sir?" asked the technician.
      "The Flood are approaching in the D-12, that's the way we came up, and they're following us." he said in a creepy-calm voice, "I suggest you hold back one of your platoons for defense."
      "Thanks for report, technician." the Captain flashed a crooked smile, "As for the operation, you will be heading across the plateau on foot, if any Flood attack, you shoot. Stationary turrets placed on the small inclines of dirt will assist you if you have any trouble."
      "You're expecting us to have 'trouble', sir?" asked Alex from the corner.
      "We can't take the chances, but we've wasted enough time, hurry back to Bravo, they'll be waiting outside. They're being briefed soon by the Colonel, just follow them. Dismissed!"
      "Yes, sir!" the ONI personnel rose from their seats and walked out the door; they quickly headed out the door that led to the LZ.
      The jarred rumble of an Assault Rifle firing on full-auto filled the silent atmosphere, and Jake knew that the creatures were attempting to file out of the D-12. They had come quick, very quick.
      "Bravo, fall back, Romeo, move in for support, you'll be defending for awhile, people." ordered the Captain over the ONICOM.
      "Sir!" replied the CO for Romeo platoon.
      Jake watched Bravo soldiers run back behind some cover, and then move over to where the personnel stood.
      "The Captain says you're with us, I'm Sergeant Vladimir," said one of the taller Marines with a Russian accent, the soldier eyed Jake carefully, "Come on, we need you guys to get ready, and by the looks of it you could use some treatment."
      The technician sighed; he had been hiding the wound that the small infection form had inflicted upon him ever since he had come in contact with the survivors. But it was worthwhile; he didn't want to slow down the platoons when they were all crossing the plateau. The Marine signaled his men forward with a wave of his right hand, Bravo moved silently under a Longsword's exterior compartments and melted into shadow. The other personnel—Jake, Mike, Alex, and the scientists—followed, and when their eyes adjusted to the dark, weapons of every category were lined up on top of crates and the ground.
      "Holy shit!" exclaimed Private Cunliffe as he immediately began browsing the weapons and ammunition. "Are these all issued yet?"
      "No, we only received a whole shipment of these before we landed." Sergeant Vladimir replied easily, "They weren't issued to ONI soldiers, but the Helljumpers that were sent with us."
      Another Marine spoke up, "What he's trying to say is... grab as many of these guns here until you can't move." Jake only grabbed a rifle that had a slightly longer barrel than the Assault Rifle, and it had several different features like zoom-in abilities.
      "That's the Battle Rifle," said the Sergeant, "One badass of a machine, I recommend that you take that one." the technician slung the weapon's strap over his shoulder and reached for ammunition. He only found several boxes containing the appropriate bullet size, but attached them to his standard ONI military-belt.
      Alex had been suited up with an upgraded version of the S2 AM Sniper; it had a slightly farther zoom and held four more bullets. The other Sergeant, Mike, equipped the same weapon. The two scientists kept to their Pistols, but the guns were apposite for them.
      With weapons lowered and grenades exploding behind them in muffled rumbles, the second-in-command Vladimir led his team and the followers back into the ship. The platoon moved through the vacant corridors that were filled with eerie light, the light which somehow greeted them, but proved overwhelmingly to be frightening. Jake didn't know how, but the odd silence and metal boots of soldiers hitting the deck came to him strange.
      It's good knowing there are survivors, but we know that you had something else in mind. You didn't want to go back to the structure to face more of the Flood. You wanted to travel into the depths of space and stay there, waiting by yourself until there was any possible chance of survival. Well, guess what? That's not going to happen, and you better just suck it up and keep on working. Perhaps you will make it and live to see another day if you cooperate. Perhaps.
      The voice deep down inside of him spoke cruelly and suddenly, making Jake's thoughts come to the fact that there was a slim chance of him escaping the ring, thousands of possible dangers popped into his mind. But the sudden halt of soldiers broke into the technician's thinking like a hammer coming down on glass. Jake snapped to attention.
      "Welcome, Bravo platoon, stay where you are." the Colonel greeted them, Jake's eyes adjusted to the darkness of the room they had just recently stepped in to. "We have newcomers, yes?"
      "That's affirmative, sir." said Vladimir respectfully.
      "Good," the Colonel said in a false-cheery voice, "To you newcomers and people that were recently issued into our platoon, I'm Colonel Smith, and I'll be your Commanding Officer. Now, let's begin the briefing."
      Jake shuffled around while fiddling with the strap of the Battle Rifle he carried, conferences like this made him nervous, almost as nervous as death, which he had in some way been accustomed to, but not fully.
      "This isn't rocket science, ladies," Smith said grimly, "we're only crossing the kilometer-long plateau on foot to reach the structure, then we—Bravo platoon—are going to set a couple charges on the power couplings and get the hell outta there."
      A Marine raised his hand, "That's all we have to do? Hell, that ain't nothing, sir."
      "It may seem that way, Corporal, but remember," the Colonel grinned, "we're crossing hostile territory now, everywhere we are, there's bound to be some of those freaks. Hold on, I'll give you women something to look at."
      The noncom stepped out of the concentrated light and into shadow, a small circular pedestal rose from a panel fixated into the metal deck, a pale azure hue glowed from the middle of the holographic projector. Colonel Smith held out a hand into the light, in his fingers he grasped a small black remote, he pressed down on an unseen button with his thumb, causing the blue light emitted from the dais to be replaced with a picture.
      It was an aerial view of the landing zone, plateau, surrounding mountains and oceans, and the massive structure. The hologram was surprisingly real, the LZ showed the clutter of Pelican's and Longswords with the Prowler towering overhead. The plateau showed the small river that developed from the large snow-capped mountains and how it led into the ocean at the bottom of the hill. Even the structure looked amazing; the abnormal detail captured the shape of the facility, how part of it curved up to reach the top of the holograph, how it stretched out far and wide, and how it sunk into the plateau. Simply intriguing.
      "Now, as you can see, we're right . . . here." Smith highlighted the Prowler, "And our entranceway is right here. Marines, the only hard part is getting across the flat terrain—"
      "—sir?" interrupted Vladimir.
      "What is it, son?"
      "Why don't we just send in Pelicans?"
      "Let me get to that next," the CO replied calmly, then continued, "The only hard part is getting across the flat terrain and coming back, that's where we will be attacked by God knows how many Flood. We won't be using Pelicans, however"—he shot a friendly look at Vladimir—"because we've picked up Covenant artillery on the other side of the mountain, they'd be able to take out our birds in an instant."
      He saluted the soldiers, "Well, sorry that wasn't much of a briefing, but that's all we need to know, get suited up and we meet outside at 0300 hours along with Delta."
      The Marines of Bravo platoon filed out of the room silently, the Colonel left shortly after, leaving the consultation room behind in silence. Jake was taken by a Medic to the medical room after walking out, and was to be treated properly for the wound he had received by the infection form. As calm as he appeared, nothing frightened him more than going back to the death-trap which was a fantastic piece of construction formed by the ancient race that had landed on the ring beforehand, millions of years ago. Nothing.

First Cycle, 2 Units (Covenant Battle Calendar)/Ancient Ringworld Halo 07, mountainside overlooking plateau.

      Rira 'Nosalymee stood proudly on the rocks before his men, a plasma sword clutched in his right hand with a Plasma Rifle in his left, both raised. He looked upon his troops, every expression was not of fear and anxiety, but of strength and reassurance, what they were going to go through with wasn't going to be easy, but Rira—the Field Commander—showed his utmost appreciation for the Prophet's orders. He bellowed his battle cry, and his men returned the favor, causing the rocky ridge to shake and rumble. Small rocks and snow dribbled down from the overhang and rebounded off onto the grass far down.
      "We are here under the Prophets decree!" 'Nosalymee said loudly so all his troops could hear, "We are here to stage an attack against the humans, an onslaught which will demean their very culture and beliefs, and wipe them out from this certain part of the Great Ones creation!"
      The wave of Covenant soldiers roared.
      Rira grinned evilly and chortled, they had not been permitted to attack the humans before in large numbers, but now, now they had enough troops to obliterate the structure the infidel's had stolen and ruined, and close off one of the passages which the Flood were emerging from.
      "Now, let's not waste our time, get ready, and when we are ready, we shall depart!" announced the Field Commander, he raised the Plasma Sword high above himself and snarled stridently.
      Rira laughed again, as soon as the humans left the area where their primitive transports were placed, the mighty Covenant would attack and kill. Lowering the energy blade, he laughed again, wondering if this would be the fight which would earn him another level advancement, or the fight which would end him. Whichever came first, he would be eternally grateful.