Derailed Part 9
Posted By: Dispraiser<email@example.com>
Date: 21 October 2003, 12:07 AM
"HQ?" I asked idly into the radio. Since the beginning of the serious Covenant invasion I had almost forgotten about HQ, though at a time of crisis they are generally the best people to turn to. The radio replied with static.
I began to reach for the power supply as it crackled to life. "State your name and rank."
"Colonel Cariaco Kazmierz of the Orbital Drop Shock Troopers."
"I'm gonna need you to spell that sir."
"Alright, K-A-Z-M-I-E-R-Z. If more than one registers in the machine I'll spell my first name."
"Okay Colonel, we have you in our computers. What's the nature of your transmission?"
"Well, I'd like to get an update on the mission objective."
"Okay, getting that data now." I could hear the keystrokes of the operator as I waited, "Alright, you were on active duty with a recovery team, trying to bring back four nukes. As far as I can tell, your previous orders stand, to make it to Awwek with the nukes intact."
My grin suddenly faded as I remembered the deaths under my command, "I'd also like to report some casualties. Samuels and Marcus are wounded, of my team along with around a half dozen civilians. Sellers, Dust and Marcson are all dead, along with nearly 350 civillians."
"How many civilians do you have with you?"
"I have 52. We also found Corporal Martes, a Marine who has helped us get a Warthog and supplies."
"Entering that into the network now. What's your position?"
"Goxinus readings of 007, 117, 343."
"Okay, so only a few hours outside the city. Let me check the latest updates in regards to the Covenant offensive lines, I'll see if we can't sneak you through." I waited while he set the data into the computer. "Alright, we have a few little problems. One is that you can't just drive straight to the city from your current position. There is a massive buildup between you and the city in the suburbs. We have some investments in the area that we can't drop, and they need to get into Awwek, so they are trying to pave a path in. Around fifteen miles to the north the Covenant lines begin to fade relative to everywhere else, so, we're gonna ask you to make it there. Still, that is within the Covenant lines. Judging by the fact that you've taken losses I can assume you've seen what it's like out there. The word hell seems to describe it."
"Okay, got it-"
"We have one other thing. Two Covenant cruisers dropped out of orbit and into the atmosphere to shoot sideways into the city. One was destroyed far from the city, and later nuked into oblivion. The other was destroyed and fell six miles outside the city. It is destroyed, and will never fly again, but it is being used to refuel Banshee's, and our air defenses are getting thin. We're out of nukes, and we need you to help. This will only take one man, but if someone could get aboard and leave a nuke in a vital area, the ship would be destroyed, and Awwek will maintain air superiority. Understand?"
"Sure. I'll connect the radio to the Warthog's navigation systems. Can you give it some information as to where the thing landed?"
"Well, we don't know exactly where it is. Our peeper network has been disabled, and it descended into a valley, but we can tell you that when you get near it you'll know. It dropped in Crevace de Demongo, but that's all we know. Also, I wouldn't take your hog' too close, it kicks up a lot more dust and a lone person with a nuke and a rifle, and as I mentioned, Banshee's will be swarming the area."
"We'll tell you once we kill the cruiser."
I closed the radio and turned to Martes, "Got that all?" I asked.
"The jist of it." He replied, "Who's going?"
"I'll go." I replied, "It's my duty as commanding officer. I can't force my men to do what I will not. Besides, what have I got to lose? A future? A wife? I signed up for the ODSTs to fight. I'm not going to back down now that I'm needed most."
"Give me a Kraftod and a nuke in a backpack. I'll be back."
"Sorry, but I can't let you go on a mission like this, I'd hate myself for not going. How are you planning on setting the nukes off?"
"Well, I have this remote detonator..." I felt my pocket. It was empty.
I opened my eyes and found myself staring at the rail below me as it disappeared into the distance. All of my pockets fell open and I lost most of my personal things, as well as my radio.
I had dropped it when I fell from the train... The only remaining method was to either manually detonate it with the literal big red button, or to set it for a ten minute timer. Quickly I acted as if I still had it to make negotiating with Martes easier. "Yeah, I'll just sneak on, drop the nuke anywhere inside the ship and walk out, easy as that. I'll steal a Ghost or Banshee from there and get back to the Hog' before you know it, then, I'll hit the button on the remote, and we'll see a satisfying sun-like explosion in the distance."
"You make it sound easier than I think it's gonna be."
"Then let us hope you are wrong."
I peered nervously over the hill. A column of at least a hundred Elites moved slowly through the destroyed field. It looked like the area had been a forest, but all of the trees had been literally melted from their root as the ship descended. The charred skeleton of framework that once made the ship slowly faded into the familiar demonic purple of the Covenant cruisers. The front of the ship was entirely intact. The Elites marched into the forest, heading roughly towards Awwek. After a few more moments of surveillance showed no threats I ran down the hill, into Crevace de Demongo. Quickly, I shuffled into a ditch, and dropped to the ground, peering nervously into the field. A fallen tree provided cover as I watched a pair of Ghosts fly towards my hiding spot. Nervously, I watched as they hurtled towards me, full speed, unwavering. I ducked behind the tree and grabbed a grenade, readying it to fight. Nervously, I rolled onto my stomach. Carefully, I raised my eyes to look over the tree's corpse. The Ghosts were no more than a yard away. I ducked, nearly screaming as the Ghosts flew over my head. As each passed I felt a firm, indescribable force from the hovercraft as each passed over my head. The Elites continued up the hill.
As they leapt across the crest of the hill I let out a sigh of relief, and looked into the wasteland of destroyed trees. The crashed ship was very well fortified. Shades were deployed methodically around the crash site, and a few Ghosts decorated the area. Large groups of Covenant foot soldiers filed from the ship. A squad of Banshees, trailing smoke, flew over my head, roaring defiantly to illustrate that their lips still breathed life despite the UNSC's best efforts. Slowly, they descended into the Covenant vessel, one flaking apart and exploding before it could land, and a red fireball faded from existence. Once I was satisfied that I knew everything about the defenses of the ship I rolled form the ditch and began to crawl across the field of flattened trees.
Luckily for me, they provided excellent cover, almost better than a forest of living trees would. Slowly, I slithered towards the Covenant vessel, and was soon to the edge of the fallen trees, and into the circle of charred ashes. The hellish grounds were only a reminder to be a good Christian, the outbreak of random fires and seemingly infinite ashes splitting only for the curving figure of the Covenant vessel. The massive purple monolith seemed to embody a satanic form in this symbolic hell. I looked behind me, a thousand feet from where I started, and a hundred feet within the perimeter established by the Shades. Before me lie a barren no mans land that extended for another hundred feet. Running across it would be suicide if any of the Covenant were to spot me, and sneaking would be impossible. I swallowed a deep breath of air and laced my boots. I grinned, all I had left was hope. I readied myself to run across the barren field, gladly taking the crutch of the weak. Hope.
I looked back again, though I was running regardless of what I saw. Suddenly I bolted from behind the tree cover. I couldn't run through the ashes as well as I had assumed, and found that it was a lot like walking through ankle deep water. Still, I ran as fast as I could knowing that if I was unlucky enough as to be spotted death would soon take my life. Twenty second after I started to run I rolled into the crater.
It was around two hundred feet deep, and perfectly round. As I leapt over the edge I didn't put any thought into how I was going to get down, only that I got into the crater. Uncontrollably I tumbled down the hill, flipping over rocks and boulders as I rolled faster. As I flipped through the air I caught a brief glimpse of the bottom of the crater, an area lined with sharp glass spikes. They were clearly a formation from the crash. Desperately I reached for rocks as I flipped down the hill. I grabbed at least a dozen rocks, but my grip was quickly ripped free from each by the demon of this planet, gravity. Albeit less than half of Earth's, the gravity still pulled me towards the base of the crater at nearly unstoppable speeds. I dropped my rifle and prepared to die as I fell to within a second of hitting the spikes. Suddenly I stopped rolling. I opened my eyes to see a spike, twisted and transparent, less than a foot from my chest. I looked upwards to where my backpack had caught on a tough tree root. I thanked god that Lunar 4 trees had such deep roots due to the low gravity, and tough ones that helped hold the planet together. Again, my life was saved by a backpack. Slowly I dragged myself up the small embankment to a flatter part of the slope. From there I regained my stature, stretched a little, and jumped over the spikes. My rifle hung from one of the glass spikes. Carefully I grabbed the rifle.
As I stopped panicking, I noticed the sheer beauty of where I was. The dirt that formerly lie below my feet was melted to glass. I could see for almost a hundred feet into the ground before it became too cloudy to see. The glass field was very smooth, almost unnaturally smooth, and there wasn't a displacement that I could see. The smooth surface reflected a ghosted image of my face, which was covered in cuts from my fall. The vessel lie only a couple hundred feet away. Its destroyed frame faded into purple metal at around the same area that the crater began to fade from glass to dirt. One of its engines must have exploded. I walked carefully along the glass, my feet sliding on the slick glass, coated in some morning dew it still retained because it was in the shadow of the edge of the crater. Slowly, I slipped into the destroyed half of the ship, throwing my rucksack into a hole in the side of the ship, following myself a few moments later. The destroyed hallway of the ship wasn't purple or illustrious, and didn't seem to be alien architecture any longer, a hidden demon. The ground, still slightly squishy, nullified my footsteps as I walked to through the blackened hallway. The door ahead had a hole melted in it, and I quickly climbed through it into the next hallway. The room I entered seemed to be an engineering station, tiny table-like work stations decorating the room. I continued through the room into the next, where the damage became less apparent. A loud whirring occupied the room though I couldn't find the source. As I continued further into the room some lights activated in the ceiling, and illuminated what appeared to be several large tanks. I looked at each, which seemed to be sort of fuel tank, and considered the possibilities. If I were to leave the nuke here chances are that most of the ship would be destroyed, and if not then secondary explosions would destroy more. Really, now that I was a hundred feet into the wreckage, no matter where I left the nuke the ship was dead. I stepped into one of the narrow corridors formed by the tanks. Carefully, I pulled the warhead from my backpack, though it was an instinct more than a necessity. It had been beaten enough in this mission that even if it were to get dropped I doubt it would be anything novel. I pressed the 'ON' button on the tiny display and waited patiently for a few moments. Suddenly the door behind me hissed open. I ducked behind the tanks as two Grunts walked into the room. Slowly, casually, they paced through the room, speaking in their native tongue. After around thirty second they had left through the door further along the ship. I looked at the nuke's tiny LCD display, which still didn't show anything. A quick set of violent taps to the side resolved the problem.
BOMB DISPLAY V 1.002
I pressed 'A'.
BOMB DISPLAY V 1.002
SET 'TIMER DETONATION', CONFIRM?
I pressed 'A' again.
BOMB DISPLAY V 1.002
HAVE A NICE DAY
I set my watch to reflect the timer. I had a little over nine minutes to clear the ship, an easy mile run, especially because I could leave my rucksack on the ship. I grabbed my rifle and what little ammo I had before going through the door into the engineering area. I slowly walked to the end of the rows of tables before I heard a voice outside the door. It was the deep voice of an elite. "'hsart eht tuo ekat' em ot syas efiw eht os dnA" I heard a pair of laughs. The Kraftod was designed for use on soft targets like Grunts and Hunters, not Elites with energy shields. As I worried I heard their footsteps grow closer to the door. Fearing the worst I ducked underneath one of the tables. "Keck!" one of the Elites shouted, "?gnihtemos raeh uoy diD?". I prayed that it didn't hear me, though it seemed as if I was scorned by the wrath of god, as two demonic beast's heavy footsteps entered the room.