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The Secrets Of Kasch'malahk - Chapter 1
Posted By: Conrad Lauf<coffeecare@ozemail.com.au>
Date: 8 May 2004, 10:19 PM

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AUTHOR'S NOTE: The Flood 'Dominion' forms are a type of Flood that I created. These beasties are the leaders of the infectious race, and their description is as follows: They have a head that is like a bull's, with the standard greenish-brown colour. They are bipedal, and stand at around eight feet, and possess powerful arms ending in three talons, one each hand, that can disembowel a man with a single swipe. Their legs are also like that of a bull, with cloven hooves. They are often described in battle as plague demons because of their bestial appearance, and strong, lengthy tails, which are powerful enough to crumple the side armour of a Warthog. But on with the show…

LOCATION: Western Ice Desert of Kasch'malahk, Flood Spawn world
REASON FOR MISSION: A new type of Flood form has been unleashed upon the Milky Way galaxy, one that has been rumoured to even best Brutes in combat. These 'Dominion' forms pose the greatest threat to the human race, as they are designed for one purpose; to destroy anything that breathes. The UNSC has followed the trail of deserted and obliterated spacecrafts, both Covenant and UNSC, to a planet that is known to the Covenant as "Kasch'malahk", or "Planet of The Plague". A company of UNSC marines have been deployed around strategic landmarks on the planet's surface. The UNSC has found traces of mine entrances on the surface, like over-sized burrows, that the Flood currently use as access to the freezing, icy surface. The fate of the human race is at the most uncertain. This is the story of just one of the platoons stationed on Kasch'malahk, and is not a pretty one…

PRIVATE Eric Richards gritted his teeth against the recoil of his EM115, and watched as the four Flood Dominion forms halted in their advance. Richards knew they would reach his men in a matter of seconds, and then the UNSC eighth platoon would be in deep trouble. A Dominion form bellowed a challenge, and lunged forward, removing the head of Lieutenant Bridget Gayle. It turned its sights on Richards, who swung up his EM115, ready for the Dominion's gaping maw which descended upon him. Richards fired at the last second with the barrel halfway inside the fanged mouth of the beast. The back of the Dominion form's head simply disintegrated in a cloud of green blood and gore.
Richards heard Kane Evans, a marine who was new to the platoon, shout, "Eric! Behind you!" Richards spun around, and saw out of the corner of his eye a Dominion form draw back its arm for the coup de grace swipe that would end his life…
And watch the arm beyond the wrist fall to the ground in a blur of steel. Sergeant Frank "Lightning" Everest sheathed his combat knife, after wiping it on the wet, snowy floor.
"Thanks Sarge!" said Richards, slinging his EM115. He watched as Kegan Manning, one of the platoon's assault weapon specialists, douse the still-writhing body of the Dominion form with super-heated liquid flame. Richards shielded his eyes, not wanting to be blinded for life by the glare of the blue-white light that emanated from the KS13 flamethrower.
Everest inspected his men. Before the short ambush by the Flood sentries, he had a full platoon, thirty-five men. But now he had to rely on just sixteen marines, twelve of which were new to the military. Eight of which had never even been in conflict.
Private Jacob Powell sat against a sleeted rock, his arms cradling his chest, rocking back and forth, muttering, "Too much. Too much violence. Too much death. Too much…"
The last sentence was said in a whisper, and before Everest or any other member of the platoon could stop him, Powell drew out his M6D, checked the magazine, and aimed it at his forehead.
"What the fuck do you think you're doing?" Everest asked, knowing perfectly well what the answer would be. Powell turned and stared at Everest with a sad, confused look on his face, and then said, "Why must we fight for our lives and souls, when we are already in hell?"
And with that he pulled the trigger, sending a reddish mist in the frosty air. Richards ran forward, shouting, "No! For the love of God, no!"
He caught Powell's body before it hit the ground, and cradled the limp body in his arms. He looked up at Everest with the fires of vengeance flaring up in his eyes. "Those infected bastards. They did this. Their corruption and existence did this to my friend. Now they must die for it. Every. Last. One of them."
Everest nodded solemnly. "Don't worry son," he assured. "You'll get your chance, mark my words." But first, let us honour the fallen."

Three hours later, nineteen make-shift tombstones littered the ice ridge, made from the bound horns of the dead Dominion forms. By now it was midday, and the Eighth platoon made its way cautiously into the pitch-black tunnel they had been stationed at…

To be continued in:
The Secrets Of Kasch'malahk - Chapter Two