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Forever - Dimidium Facti Qui Coepit Habet
Posted By: Dispraiser<Dispraiser@netzero.com>
Date: 7 February 2004, 9:12 PM

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Forever Dimidium Facti Qui Coepit Habet

       I was happy. An odd, simple statement - especially for a man with no luck and no future. I marched in a loose line with a dozen other Marines, one of whom my friend of a dozen years. We hadn't encountered any fighting for at least a half hour. We had stumbled blindly between buildings, over bodies and through rubble. We could hear explosions and gunfire everywhere, and we always assumed combat would lie around the next corner, but never found a single live enemy. The sound of our allies screaming for help, and the shrieks of alien gunfire howled through the city's skyscrapers; taunting us - assured that it was a safe distance away. Granted I wasn't looking for combat, I also didn't want to be a coward. "Hey, Chavez!" my friend said, "What's the first thing you wanna do once we kill the Covenant off this planet!"

      "Grammar school. I know you learned Spanish and English when you were a kid, but for the love of god, English is your first language!"

      "Hell yeah!" he shouted back. "I was thinking something to do with twin girls, but whatever. Anyways, I've gotta ask you this... Am I in your will?" I chuckled, "I mean, if I make it through this and you don't I want to see some benefits. I'm out here sticking my neck out to make sure that you don't get your ass fried Lunar 4 style, and you haven't said anything about it!"

      "Well, I never wrote a will. I'm 25. I've spent every year that I should be making money in the Marines. I have a thousand credits and a hydrogen guzzling car. If you want you can have it!"

      "Oh yeah... 2525' vintage... Leather seats, chrome bumper - none of that plastic crap... What color was it? About half black and half rust red... Probably weighs more than a Warthog and uses more gas than a Scorpion... I have to wonder what's worse for the environment, your car or the Covenant."

      I laughed, "Well, look at Earth. I read it used to be called the green planet. I also read that Mars was the red planet. Weird how that works out..."

      "I heard Harvest used to be a green planet too. Then it got real orange, real fast."

      "The same for dozens of planets... But here on Lunar 4 we have a chance! We're a planet of fighters! We come here, deceived and either die begging in the streets or fight to live on minimum wage!"

      "That or fight to die for your army - which you've been conscripted to..."

      "I didn't say it was all pretty on Lunar 4."

      "You're right..." Allen hesitated. I could tell what was about to happen... "Plenty of fat chicks to sully our planet!"

      "Plenty of skinny ugly ones too."

      "I dare you to find a hot fat chick."

      "I think I'll take you up on that..." I thought I heard gunfire and explosions, "Anyone else hear that?"

      "I think I hear gunfire, probably a quarter mile away.", Marshals replied.

      "Which was is it coming from?" another Marine asked.

      "I've got no idea. There's so many damn echoes in these buildings! It's probably closer than a quarter mile though."

      "Alright, let's pack up and move out! We only got so many streets to cross until we find em!" Suddenly a rocket exploded at the fifteenth story of a building in front of our group. The contrail pointed to its source.

      "Alright! Looks like we found some friends to bail out! Let's go!" In one of the innumerable intersections of the city a group or around 25 Marines had gathered behind some cement barriers. They had managed to create a rudimentary trench of craters and seemed to be fighting fairly well, considering how badly outnumbered they were. The barricade - located in a standard four way intersection - faced bombardment from two sides. The Covenant were attacking from the side of the intersection to my left, and across the Marine barricade from my position.

      "Holy shit!" Allen yelled over the gunfire. It suddenly leapt from taunting demon to a raging beast, smashing deeper into our skulls through our ears.

      "Allen, we'll take the building to the left. Have any grenades?" I yelled.

      "Only enough to make a tiny hellfire for a few Covenant! Let's go, I'm sure they'll be fine with sharing!"

      We charged into the building, running across a mutilated Marine body to the escalators. They were shut down because of the invasion, so we quickly jogged up them. Once we had reached the third floor we came to a series of small, thirty by thirty rooms. We shuffled to the first Room and peered nervously in the window. I spotted a lone Jackal standing casually. I waved a lone finger and pointed into the room, followed by the sign language symbol for J. He nodded in acknowledgement and crept to my position. With a quick hand signal, he ordered me to move forward. I crawled forward, as to not allow the Jackal to see me through the half windows. I looked backwards to see Allen reach into the room and stick an angular grenade to the wall, leveling it towards the Jackal. I assumed he knew what he was doing, and peered into the next room. I didn't see any Covenant, so I signaled for Allen to advance. I slowly walked while kneeling towards the next room. Within I spotted a group of at least five Grunts and a Jackal. Allen was close enough that he looked through before I could give him a hand signal. I tried to come up with a tactical solution to the problem, but before I could think Allen handed me a detonator. He pulled two grenades from his belt and held them in opposite hands. Using his teeth he pulled the pins from the grenades and gestured that he was going to toss them in the room. I moved backwards a few feet, knowing that the paper thin walls beneath the windows wouldn't protect me from any shrapnel. He tossed the two grenades into the room. I counted to two and detonated my grenade. The Jackal shrieked as the grenade showered it in shrapnel; a moment before the Grunts in the latter room exploded. I stood and ran noisily into the third room. Allen had already smashed the large windows to the outside with his grenade, and began firing in the streets. His rifle was box fed and full automatic, so accuracy wasn't a problem. He sprayed the streets with gunfire. The Covenant ran for cover, but I didn't see him hit anything. I wondered if he was a bad shot or if that was his intention, as he tossed a grenade into one of the alcoves the Covenant had hidden in. Regardless, the grenade exploded and two Grunt bodies were tossed into the street. He laughed victoriously before handing me a grenade and throwing another into the street. Gunfire continued to clatter from the intersection, but seemed to be directed at the other street. His grenade flashed behind a boulder, but no bodies emerged. I threw my grenade towards a boulder that I had seen an Elite run behind, but hit the boulder instead. It bounced harmlessly to the street. Allen looked me to see what I though of my error, and I shrugged it off.

      "Out of grenades!" he yelled. He must have been deafened by the explosions.

      "Well, we can't hit anything without em! They're too well fortified in those rocks!" I shouted back.

      Suddenly I heard heavy footsteps behind us running up the escalators. Instantly, I recognized them. "Elites!" I shouted. Allen spun onto his back and leveled his rifle at the doorway. There was only one way out of this room, which led immediately into a waiting enemy. It soon began to appear that waiting was not a proper description for the Elites, as heavy footsteps progressed around the corner. Allen unclipped another of the box-shaped magazines from his vest, fumbling to clip it in his rifle. I could hear almost a dozen Elites. We wouldn't stand a chance, but our only route of escape was directly into the Elites. My mind cycled through thousands of possibilities, never once considering that we might win. Thinking quickly, I kicked a bookshelf over to make makeshift cover. Allen rested his rifle on the bookshelf and leveled the sight at the window to the hallway. An Elite's head appeared in the window. Allen shot through the window. The Elite's shielding dissolved the threat of injury, but he bobbled his head as at least a dozen shots bounced off its shield. Three more Elites charged into sight in the window, this time returning fire. I ducked behind the shelf with Allen as the Elites shot the shelf, peppering it with burning holes. With my back to the bookshelf I realized the only way out of the room. I pointed to the window to show Allen what was happening, though I didn't really care if he understood immediately. After I jumped to the street he would certainly understand. I waited a few moments, trying to use my patience to wait for a break in the gunfire, but Allen charged out the window and rolled to the street. The Elites would probably charge, since they realized we weren't corner. Waiting was suicide, even more so than running under a hail of gunfire. Without thinking, I charged. A heavenly blue orb danced near my head for an eternal moment as I leapt from the window.

      As I passed through the shattered window pane the world suddenly changed. Blinding light spilled into my eyes. Everything was white, brilliant, distant sunlight destroying my vision. For a moment, I thought time has frozen and I was drifting through a heavenly cloud. My suspicions were instantly dismissed, as I hit the ground. As I hit the ground I tried to roll to a stop, but I heard a disgusting pop in my right foot. I scrambled to my feet and shielded my eyes from the sun. Allen had run halfway across the street by the time I managed to start running. I didn't bother to look behind after I stood, but instead focused only on running. Every time my right foot contacted the ground a horrible pain traveled up my foot, driving itself into my mind. By this point I had convinced myself that my toe was broken, if not half of my foot. All I knew was that cold wind was splitting around my face faster than it ever had before; and singing plasma darted past my head - still a thousand times faster than me. Grunts, Elites and Jackals all leapt from cover at the opportunity to fire at me. I ran across the street, scrambling between fallen rubble and destroyed cars. Gunfire from the Covenant wasn't all that was passing uncomfortably close. I kicked a fragmentation grenade away that had landed near my feet. The human forces in the intersection fired vigilantly into the Covenant horde, unwavering at the sight of humans amidst the enemy. Perhaps the adrenaline within their bodies compelled this heartlessness, or perhaps it was simply that they assumed I was lost already. I felt a sting in my back. I was perplexed - what force had created this pain. It was like nothing I had ever felt before. It certainly wasn't as bad as my shattered foot. What could have created it?

      The pain blossomed into a horrible, tearing sensation. I felt as though I was being ripped in half in a single, acute movement. Broken and beaten, I tumbled forward. I was too distracted by the pain to cradle my fall, and hit the ground face first. One balled fist at a time I dragged myself towards the building, still a dozen feet away. I knew there was no hope that I would survive to reach my salvation within the confines of that concrete monolith. It sat a distant ten feet away and yet my strength was so sapped that I could hardly move myself. I grabbed onto the concrete and started to pull myself forward again as a Grunt stepped before me. My purgatory was predetermined. There was no justice in the mind of the beast standing before me. It raised its pistol, compelled to pull the trigger and bring a sudden end to my blessed life. I closed my eyes, waiting for the deathblow to seep forth from its gun. Oddly enough, there was no burn. No plasma bolt arched through the air, and no death split my skull. Before I looked upwards to see if my enemy had granted me mercy, I felt blood splash on my face. I wiped blue blood from around my eyes, trembling, and peered up. The silhouette of the Grunt stood above me for a terrifying moment before it collapsed in a tangled mass. I felt a hand grab my shoulder strap and drag me towards the building. My vision gradually blurred, and the sounds of gunfire gradually faded until I passed into unconsciousness.