The Other Threat
Posted By: Conrad Lauf<email@example.com>
Date: 11 April 2004, 9:20 PM
ANOTHER bullet slammed home, splitting open the Jackal's head like a can of soup. By now the Covenant squad was starting to panic. The leading Elite gestured for the remaining Grunts to take cover behind a boulder, but before it could finish the sentence, its forehead burst outwards, sending fragments of alien bone and flesh flying in all directions. A particularly large Grunt poked its head around the side of the boulder, and received a bullet to the brain in return.
The rest of the squad was easy to pick off.
The two Spartan warriors shouldered their sniper rifles, and under the every-present moon's light walked back to the cave they had been using as a sniper nest for the past three days. Their briefing had been simple; destroy any Covenant squads that pasted the narrow path that ran between two ten-metre high canyon walls. They had done this with ease, although the last one had been close; Chief Marius had accidentally given their position away when he reloaded before the first shot had been fired. He hadn't counted on the Jackals' acute hearing, which had set off the alarm.
But it had been a successful ambush, but not the last one; they would have to stay there for another two weeks.
Chief Allexus pulled off his helmet and popped some nutrient-enriched ration food in his mouth.
"What a slow day," he said with a sigh.
"I'll say," replied Marius, picking up his assault rifle and checking for rust: the previous day's rainstorm had not been kind to their weapons, and as a result both Spartan warriors had been drying them all night.
"You never know," said Marius, glancing up from his rifle. "Maybe the Covenant will have finally found a quicker route, and we can return to Malophon and relax for a change."
Allexus snorted. "Since when have we been allowed to relax? I haven't had a break for almost two years."
"Good point," said Marius with a grim smile, resting his helmet up against a standard-military-issue pillow.
"Are you taking the night watch?" he asked, his eyes closed.
"Yeah," replied Allexus with a nod.
"Try and get some rest," he said, walking over to the cave entrance.
"You shot well today," he added, glancing back at Marius.
The next thing Marius knew, Allexus was shaking him wildly, whispering loudly; "Marius! Wake up!"
"What is it-?" he asked, but Allexus clamped his armoured glove over Marius's mouth.
"At first I thought they were humans, one of our squads, and they probably were once, but they're, well…maybe you should take a look for yourself."
Marius stiffly walked over to the entrance, picked up a pair of binoculars, and took in the view.
Walking up the mountain path about two hundred metres away was about ten human soldiers, but when Marius zoomed in he could they nothing like the Marines he knew on his cruiser, The Enduring Light. They had tattered and torn uniforms, their flesh had swollen and wrinkled over their flak armour, and their skin was a foul rotten brown-green colour. Their faces and arms had deformed, sprouting snake-like appendages with leech-like mouths. Their eyes were either blank or milky white. And they were holding a variety of weapons, including ones used by Covenant troops.
Marius turned to Allexus. "What are they?"
"I've heard of them," he replied. "They're another alien race, one that exists by infecting others with their mutating virus. They're known simply as the Flood. I'd say this squad was unfortunate enough to stumble across the arseholes. They're just as dangerous and hostile as the Covenant bastards."
"So, do we take them out?" asked Marius, already knowing what the answer would be.
"Hell, yeah!" replied Allexus. "Gives us something to do today."
Within minutes the two Spartans had stocked up: Grenades, assault rifles, sniper rifles and pistols. If they died, they were going to take some of the Flood down with them.
"Ready?" asked Marius, leaning over the edge of the canyon wall.
Allexus nodded, aiming his sniper rifle at the lead Flood.
"Now!" he yelled, and pulled the trigger of his assault rifle, sending tracer fire raining upon the disoriented Flood. "This is for the human race!" he yelled with bezerk glee. But to his horror, Allexus' sniper rifle was doing nothing against them. Its shells just tore off chunks of mottled skin, but did not penetrate the flesh far.
"Shit!" hissed Allexus, ducking away from the edge to reload and take up his assault rifle. "They're tough as nails-"
At that moment a shotgun blast tore up through the bottom of Allexus's jaw and through his helmet, sending fragments of green helmet into the air. Time seemed to freeze. Marius watched Allexus's body, already dead, collapse to the ground. He gazed down at it, and memories flashed in his mind. He and Allexus laughing as a rookie was rushed to The Enduring Light's hospital wing, his leg a bloody stump, testament to a frag grenade going off in his pocket when he tried to steal it from the ammunitions safe. Talking about what they were going to do after the war was over. All that, wasted. In a split second his best friends life had ended.
And now, replacing that sadness: rage. Pure black rage.
Snatching up Allexus's assault rifle, Marius let out a yell of defiance, pumping clip after clip into the Flood. Suddenly, a deformed Marine leapt onto the cliff with supernatural strength. It swung at Marius, who dropped onto one knee. Its whip-like arm whistled over his head, and Marius let loose a wild burst of fire into its groin. The Flood staggered backwards, its torso a ragged hole. As it started to fall, however, Marius placed a frag grenade on its chest, which was covered in cracked flak armour. The grenade caught on the jagged flak. Marius pulled the pin, and pushed. The Flood disappeared over the edge, and Marius heard a boooooom as the grenade went off. Then came the animalistic howls of agony as the tiny pieces of razor-sharp steel shrapnel inside the grenade tore through the rest of the squad. A bestial Flood was thrown onto the ledge, still twitching, and Marius filled it full of lead, just to be on the safe side.
Then he walked over to the edge, and looked down. The grenade had done a lot of damamge. It had almost literally shredded the entire squad, and the amount of disembowelled Flood was proof of that.
Marius pulled up the visor of his helmet, spat on the nearest body, and said: "And that was for Chief Allexus."