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The Hephaestus Equation I
Posted By: Dirty Commie<dirtycommie99@hotmail.com>
Date: 28 October 2002, 6:15 pm

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      The revolting, luminescent blood sprayed the immaculate wall, punctuated by darker, opaque flecks of brain matter. He withdrew his pistol, dripping alien body fluids, and spun in a crouch to face the next pair of grunts charging down the passageway. Tal emptied the last round into the head of the closer enemy, only to have it ping off the gleaming shoulder plate as he dived to the left. Dropping the now-useless weapon, Tal stroked the trigger on the grimy plasma pistol he had recovered from the grunt now laying slumped against a wall stained with blood.
      As the pair of approaching grunts begins to open fire with their own pistols, Tal looses his first charged shot, and using the precious moment when the grunts dive out of the way, charges into the two midget-sized aliens. The first one opens his eyes, closed to shield the blinding glare from a plasma charge, and finds an armored fist smashing into his face, destroying his precious methane breather. Tal quickly spins, lashing out with his right leg. His armor-boosted kick shatters the frail kneecap supporting the grunt, dropping him to the floor. Pivoting again to the first stunned one; he pumps three shots into the chest, effectively melting its vital organs to the thing's spine and ribs.
      After dispatching the second grunt and taking their weapons, Tal sprints back down the way he was going. Towards the surface, and dust off. Unfortunately, three of the elites he had met earlier didn't care for that plan, and intended on stopping Tal, preferably with hot plasma, as they were doing now, bolts sizzling past his exposed head. As he rounded a corner, Tal dropped into a crouch and began to disassemble one of the stolen plasma pistols. He removed the circuitry controlling the heating and radiating mechanisms of the exotic weapon, discarding them as he stuffed identical twin plasma grenades into the trigger assembly and outer shell of the gun. As he had planned, the pistol began rapid firing into the wall, heating rapidly, but with no cooling safety shut off. He had ten seconds, maybe.
      Risking another quick glance around the corner (and nearly losing an ear in the process) Tal once again began sprinting for the surface, mentally counting in his head. Ten, nine, eight... At four, the pistol finally heated up enough to ignite the pair of grenades he had left behind, exploding in a deafening rumble. As Tal reached the complex's open blast door, he heard no pounding feet or plasma discharges behind him. Smiling grimly, he punched open the huge door. Revealing the waiting detachment of Pelicans, marines hitting the soft dirt, running through the seemingly abandoned Covenant structures.
      Tal cursed The Major softly, resumed his run to the Pelicans, waving his arms and yelling at the top of his lungs. Unable to use his radio, he screamed and screamed at the pilot.
      "Pull back, pull back!" he commanded, but nobody was paying him any attention. Giving up on yelling, he ran straight for the Pelicans. His feet barely seemed to touch the ground as he hopped into the transport and ripped open the cockpit door. Tal tried to bellow imperiously, but only managed a panting explanation. "The bunker.....it's...
      ....not a......supply dump. You have to recall the marines, get us out of here!"
      The pilot was unimpressed.
      "What's the problem? If it's not a dump, what is it?" She asked, unconcerned.
      "Who the fuck cares?! Just get us out of here!" Tal screamed in her face. Maybe it was the oozing ichors of Covenant blood on his hands, or the plasma burns on his arms and legs, but she got the point fast.
      "Bravo, Charlie, and Delta companies return to the LZ for dust off immediately, that's an order!" The pilot's voice went out over the channels.
      "No need, Lieutenant, the base is secure." Came an unidentified Sergeant's voice back. The pilot looked at Tal and shrugged her shoulders helplessly. He wasn't paying her any attention; the bunker doors he had just sealed were emitting a rhythmic pounding. They were coming through.
      Tal ripped open the equipment locker on the Pelican, but no heavy weapons, just rifles and ammo. A few marines near the bunker when the pounding started were now uneasily aiming their weapons and speculating amongst themselves as to what could cause such a noise.
      Tal knew. It could only be the terrifying soldiers he had seen underground. Just then, the doors broke, and the hunters charged into the few squads guarding the door. Twelve feet tall, matte black armor all around their bodies, with various cybernetic enhancements giving their eyes a faint reddish glow, the six hunters seemed like demons from hell, come to Earth to rain destruction on the pathetic humans. And Tal had never seen such destruction by so few, even if they were hunters.
      Within seconds, the incredibly powerful arms of the charging beasts had crushed the standing guards. Before the screams of the dying had registered on the rest of the marines, a concentrated barrage of fuel rod fire had vaporized another entire company. After the marines finally began to return fire, everyone beat a hasty (although to say hasty would be like saying having an arm burned off is an inconvenience) retreat back to the Pellies. The pilots weren't hanging around long, three Pelicans had left by the time Tal's was full. As the final pair lifted off agonizingly slowly from the burning compound, one was hit by another salvo of fuel rod bolts and exploded brilliantly, raining shrapnel and bodies to the ground.
      Tal just sat in a kind of dazed shock. They're all dead, everyone. He would never forget what he had seen in the depths of that building. Those red, burning eyes, chasing the remnants of his squad down the dark passages, would haunt his dreams for the rest of his life. The screams as each of his friends caught a plasma blast in the face, or had his necked snapped by the arms of an elite. No, Corporal Tal Gordon would not forget this day.