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The Strive to Survive (Chapter 12: Final Requests)
Posted By: CoLd BlooDed
Date: 3 July 2004, 1:48 AM

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The Strive to Survive (Chapter 12: Final Requests)

      Not even the deep recesses of Hell could've kept Jake from running. What he was about to go through for the next three hours of his life was going to come close to being like it—Hell, that is.
      "Split up, Marines, don't stand fucking idol!" crowed the Lieutenant excitedly, then he added with noticeable joy, "We're almost out of here!"
      The technician was the first to run as plasma from the Sentinels began to fly by in fast—yet solid—blurs of red. They didn't track him as he made his way under them, but did once he extracted the Pistol from his pocket and fired at the monitor of Installation 07.
      "Please!" scoffed 747 in frustration bordered with pleasure, "Your weapons are obsolete to me, I am invincible! Hee hee hee, I am a genius."
      Jake backpedaled as quickly as he could, holding his weapon up but firing at the Sentinels instead.
      "Well, it seems to work on your henchmen!" shouted Jake in dangerous delight, "Take this"—he held down the trigger, a Sentinel exploded—"and that!"
      "It does, but those projectiles will never get past me, human," the monitor spoke softly, but angrily at the same time. "Now, I have more important matters to attend to. Let's just say I'm planning ahead." 747 Authentic Denial floated around the room, leaving red rings to materialize behind them; they disappeared after moments. Then the monitor gave one last order to his Sentinels: "Do what you wish with them, but if you fail, don't expect it to be in vein." Then the hovering blue piece of metal soared away into the roof, traveling via the ventilation system in the structure that would soon be destroyed.
      Red laser found its way around the room, tracing any ONI soldier left standing—none, fortunately, had yet been taken down, despite the amount of energy they had left in them. Charred, uneven black holes were left behind anything the superheated plasma had been in contact with, thick green blood oozed out of the broken walls. Jake didn't know why, but could only see it slopping out in gelatinous glop; what it was coming out of looked like a pipe that had been behind now-destroyed metal.
      "Find cover, destroy these things, and we're getting out of this hellhole!" shouted the Lieutenant again, this time louder, gunshots rattled the room along with the tech's eardrums.
      One of the soldiers screamed throatily as one of the lasers punctured through his neck, melting the flesh around the large hole and killing him almost instantly. The man threw up his hands to his neck, fell backwards, and collapsed onto the floor in his own growing pool of maroon-red blood.
      "Shit, they got Schofield! Take 'em all out!" screamed a timid and raspy voice, "Somebody check on him, for the love of God!"
      But everyone already knew it was too late, including the one particular soldier. Jake looked at the body, saw the mans' eyes staring into space, bloodshot, glazed over, and hid behind the closest Warthog; shadow enveloped his body.
      The clip in his gun had depleted itself; Jake let it slide out, then grasped one from his ammunition belt he had accustomed from a dead soldier and slammed it in. Now all he had to do was—
      "Frag out!" shouted a Marine from the other side of the room, there was a momentary silence and then an explosion. A Warthog was thrown across the room and into a wall. Hundreds of parts broke off of it as the body came down with a loud bud-unk! including hubcaps, the muffler, glass, popped tires which managed to roll across the room. The smoking engine stored in the front of the destroyed 'Hog exploded, creating a fiery explosion that derived from it. The flames spread onto nearby wooden crates.
      There were many screams now from the remaining soldiers, but excited screams. A muffled metallic explosion rang out, sending a Sentinel to the floor where it shattered into its subcomponents like the 'Hog had just done. Then another one of the ancient steel creations fell apart, and another; and another; all adding to the amount of debris on the floor.
      Jake steadied his Pistol on a gas barrel and fired twice. The bullet holes emerged immediately and let glistening gasoline pour onto the ground. It was heading for the flames.
      "Jake! Open the bay doors!" Sergeant Peters yelled over the fight, and then he spoke in ragged shouts, "We don't have any time!"
      The man raised his Battle Rifle and fired at a Sentinel who was firing on another Marine, sparks flew in an array of beautiful colors, then a large flame protruded from the floating attacker. One of its "wings" was torn off by another bullet, and the Sentinel fell to the ground; the flame, however, remained burning as the explosion licked at the shimmering petrol.
      Another explosion, much bigger in tension and ferocity. Flames licked the ten-foot high roof, scorching it and turning it black. Smoke drifted towards the ceiling and slowly billowed out of the extremely large vent. The heat tore at his flesh, clawing at it and burning it; Jake coughed and covered his face with his arm. He saw the holo-pad behind him, squinted as he punched in the correct sequence of buttons, and watched the two large Titanium-A doors open at the other side of the room.
      He heard shrieks; wild, crazed shrieks, and saw Sergeant Vladimir with his face peeling and bubbling. Gas and fire had shredded his uniform and was now working at his already-burning flesh. Vladimir attacked the blaze with his own flailing hands, but the gas clung to his skin as much as it had to his armor and helmet. His hair was alight, smoking. One of his eyes had popped and filled with blood. His mouth was open, shrieking, actually shrieking.
      "Oh God oh God someone help help help kill me it hurts ithurtsithurts—!"
      Jake looked down despite the overwhelming heat, the bullet he had fired had gone through the mans' brain; the one eye of the now-dead soldier seemed to look at him and then popped. The fiery trooper dropped to one knee, his flesh boiling, and then the other, blood poured from his eye sockets and down his cheeks and into his mouth. Brains trickled down what was left of his hair. Then the remains of Vladimir came to a bloody halt on the greasy floor.
      "Get into the Transport 'Hog!" barked Packs, he was already in the driver seat with the seven surviving Marines. He was talking to Jake. "Get the hell in, son!"
      Jake listened. He wiped his eyes clean of soot and dust before running into the back where the metal poles stretched from one side, over them, and then the other side, they would be protected by this slightly. It was a covering.
      "Now let's get the fuck outta here!" yelled a Marine as combat forms finally broke through the door, the metal flew across the room and impacted a stacked pyramid of crates. Some broke, and the technician saw the pyramid collapse on the flames, igniting. Flood forms chased after them alight, crying after them, screaming after them. The Marines taunted them and shot them as they drove away. But it was too soon to be taunting, quite too soon.
      Over the heavy droning of wheels and the rumble of the engine, Jake heard Oliver yell into the COM network: "Captain Corons! We've made it out of the structure successfully with survivors and need you to prepare Romeo Platoon for dust-off! Advise!"
      There was static, Oliver tried again, and an answer came buried in interference. "I read...Advise... Get across plateau... More hostiles on your... Mountains and lake... Romeo has been notified. Be here in...or else... Over and out."
      "Roger that, sir." the Lieutenant said quietly, turned off the network and looked back over his shoulder to the Marines. "Alright, we've got a Hell of a ride ahead of us, so cover our back so we don't get fucked."
      They were already making a considerable advancement across the muddy terrain. The wheels of the 'Hog rolled over bloody and broken bodies of humans, Covenant, and Flood, leaving different colored substances on the tires. No Flood were behind them anymore. Or beside. Or anywhere. It seemed they were free.
      But Jake thought too soon.
      Rain slapped down on top of them, soothing their burning and aching bodies. Rain slapped down on the Warthog, sending serene trickles of water in different directions. The rain dissolved into the ground. The rain was warm. Jake enjoyed the sensation of a hot shower before an explosion rocked the speeding vehicle, hardened clumps of dirt and bloodstained grass pelted the sides, marking it.
      "There they are!" pointed out Private Cunliffe worriedly, "And they're frickin' manning the Flax emplacements!"
      The technician gripped the sides of the vehicle with his hands and peered over the side, and sure enough, Flood forms were holding the missile emplacements, tracking the Transport Warthog over open ground. Their rotten hands grasped the triggers, not twitching but carefully waiting to fire. But the surviving Marines wouldn't have any of it.
      "Let the lead out!" someone cried.
      Bullets zipped towards their targets, taking several down carefully in splashes of blood and gore—no other combat forms were able to take their place as the Flax cannon exploded from a Rocket Launcher carried by one of the Marines.
      "How's it feel to be DEAD?" screamed a Marine as the 'Hog shot past a Flood form that he had just recently killed. "Huh? What are you going to do NOW?"
      There was the sound of an explosive projectile being pushed into a hollow barrel, and the discharge of the shot: Kathunk! Jake turned his head and let out a surprised shock.
      A smoke-trailing rocket was headed for them, but that wasn't it, oh no. Behind the smoke-trailing rocket were Flood, lots and lots of Flood. Much more than a hundred, definitely more than a thousand, maybe a million, maybe a little less—but they swarmed the mountainside and were coming down in a rotting mutated freak circus of green and brown.
      "Aw, fuck no!" cried out Sergeant Peters.
      The rocket zipped by them as the 'Hog shifted a gear and swerved; it coursed ahead, and in seconds, exploded into the oncoming Flood.
      "We still gotta take out the gunners, Sarge!" one of the Marines suggested hesitantly, "They'll blow us to pieces!"
      "The kid's right," Peters replied with a maniacal smirk, "kill 'em all!"
      And it was that moment that they all realized that either they were all going to die or were all going to live. Three soldiers lined up on one side in the rear while four others lined up on the other—they were all standing—and everyone began to fire directly at the Flood. Hostiles operating the Flax cannons were hastily shot down, but then the lake (which was directly opposite of the mountains) gave birth to thousands more Flood. Dripping wet rotting freaking Flood.
      Christ! How many Flood are there?! They're coming out of the lake, the mountains and the structure... what next? The ground?!
      "Come on! I'll take you all on! Come and get me!" cheered a Marine as his Battle Rifle flashed over and over.
      The Flood were closing in ahead, quickly. If the vehicle didn't get through in time, they'd close around it and kill everyone inside. Jake turned his head from his concentration and yelled for the Lieutenant.
      "Packs? Hey, Packs!"
      "What is it, son?"
      "Can't this thing go any faster?"
      "I'll try my best, Jake!" he said with newfound vigor. "I'll try for everyone's sake!"
      The technician smiled wanly and returned to firing. One of his bullets tore one of the heads off while it was jumping in the air—the funny thing was that it was a complete fluke shot.
      "Nice one, amigo!" shouted the soldier behind him. "You're almost like one of us!"
      One of us! The Flood! You're almost like one of us!
      He took the compliment and concentrated his aim on the chests where it'd be easiest to kill the infection form buried inside. But he couldn't see chests—just a fucking freak-show where he was the cheese and they were the cats. Except the cats were rotting, mutated and killers, and the cheese was desperately driving away in a Warthog. He laughed sourly.
      "We're not destined to fail, men!" Mike said. "Oh, no, not today! Now make me proud!"
      So they did. The wheels of the 'Hog rolled over dead carcasses, grass, mud, while the soldiers in the back fired at an endless wave of combat forms, forever reaching out towards them. Bullets flew into the rear and covered the floor; bullets fell onto the plateau, being buried by the rotting footsteps of Flood.
      The 'Hog went over a hill and came out over top. Behind them, the structure exploded, sending a wave of heat in every single possible direction. Jake glanced back as they were in freefall, the sheer weight bringing them down fast.
      A fireball had ripped through the middle of the facility and several others were blossoming along its main structure. Massive pieces of ancient Forerunner-created metal were thrown hundreds of kilometers into the air; only to come down again and break into pieces. Smoke plumed upwards. Flames grew despite the heavy downfall. Jake let out a sigh of momentary relief and realized he wouldn't be going there anymore, but mere thought would haunt his dreams until he died. Whenever that would be.
      "See that, people? That's what we worked to do. That's what we were sent to do." the el-tee spoke up proudly.
      "And we fucking did it! Alright!" Alex cried out happily.
      No one spoke, but as the image was blocked out by the hill the 'Hog was passing over; Flood swarmed around them, in front of them, behind them. Everything was Flood.
      "Boot it!" roared Jake loudly, and Oliver pressed down on the accelerator as hard as he could. The engine roared along with the decaying hostiles who were closing in ahead. They weren't going to make it...
      The Warthog was a blinding blur as it coursed forwards, the Flood were closing in incredibly fast, as if they were speeding up and the vehicle was slowing down. Jake's sense of direction was thrown off momentarily as he gaped into the horde of fleshy beings, spongy, lifeless, no brain beings.
      "C'mon..." he muttered. "C'mon..."
      The Warthog lurched violently, and Jake prayed that the 'Hog wouldn't flip.
      It didn't.
      Instead, the vehicle soared upwards into the air. The Flood had sealed the gap using their bodies, but the 'Hog was going to fly over them—or land on top of them.
      Jake felt the wind through his hair, the adrenaline pumping into his system, and the rain pattering down on the 'Hog. He felt peace.
      The Marines hooted and screamed as the vehicle landed approximately a foot from the nearest Flood. The wheels spun in the mud, kicking it up and throwing it in dark clumps at the creatures behind them. Then they caught, sending the Warthog forward in a jolt of speed.
      "Yee-haw!" shouted a Marine as the vehicle left the Flood behind them to wallow in their own blood and stench.
      Oliver gave a congratulatory speech, but it was short.
      "Good goin', soldiers! Any final requests?"
      "Just to get the hell off of this ring, sir." sighed Jake.