Legend Hunting Part One
Posted By: Dispraiser<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 18 January 2003, 6:54 pm
“Alright, everybody smile!” said a woman, a camera mounted on a stand before her. She fumbled with it’s timer, trying to get a nice picture of her families vacation. She did something right, and quickly ran over to stand in front of her family, a hefty husband, a small boy and a girl, who was slightly taller and older.
“Cheese!” they said in unison to the camera. It stopped blinking and flashed acutely, the picture taken. Suddenly something rustled in the bushes of the Jungle behind them. Shocked, but not thinking anything of the noise, the family continued onwards with their vacation.
“Mr. Warner, how long have you been with the Marines?” A bright light shone in my eyes, and a voice echoed in the long room, asking me questions.
“7 years, sir!” I yelled with enthusiasm that was drilled into my personality by years of combat training.
“7 years. Have you been loyal to the Marines at all times?”
“With all due respect sir, this is meaningless, even if I were to be working against you, why would this inquisition force me to reveal anything, but to answer your question, no sir!” I was also trained to see through things like this. This was no ordinary ONI shakedown. They were either a. trying to piss me off, or b. trying to seriously find something out about Lunar 4.
“Excellent, and you were moved to black ops three years into your career, right?”
“Sir; that information is on a need to know basis, what authority do you have?”
“I have the highest clearance, you can tell me everything, and anything. Do you understand?”
“Well enough sir, and yes, I was moved to the special deep cover black operations battalion four years ago.”
“Alright, and at any time have you divulged any secrets about the UNSC and it’s projects?”
“I have never known of the UNSC’s projects.”
“None of them?” he asked. I could predict the expression on his face even though my vision was useless with the bright light ahead of me.
“None sir. If this pointless inquiry is over, I would like to be dismissed to the briefing room. Sir.” I made sure to stick sir onto the end of most of my sentences. ONI loved their power, and I was one for appeasement regarding them.
“It will be over soon. Son, do you know what a SPARTAN is?” he asked me.
“Yeah, they are some super soldier, some info on the Spartans was given to us a while back. I don’t believe in them though, It is probably just a morale booster from the UNSC. Sir.” I replied frankly.
“Well, they aren’t. And guess what?”
“I have to be one?”
“No, you get to kill one.”
“What do you mean?” I asked as they unstrapped me from the table and turned off the strong light. They grabbed my upper arms and dragged me into the next room as I repeated my question a few more times. They sat me down in a cold steel chair and walked out, shutting the door, and my mouth as they left. I was alone for a few minutes. As I waited I inspected the cold metal room. It didn’t smell right, it smelled like death. I looked around. A little metal chair which I sat on, and a metal table. Another chair sat across from me, a little metal chair, fairly close in design to mine, just as cold and hostile as well. The ceiling was flat besides two small protrusions, which I marked as ducts, and hoped they were for warmth, and not for killing.
The door slid open, a bright light flooding in from behind it. A mans silhouette appeared as he stepped into the room. The door slid shut behind him, and I was able to identify the features of his face. He had a chiseled face, and along scar running down the right side of his face. He carried a large grin, which I couldn’t tell what it was meant to be, a smirk or a smile. He was tall, his hair the opposite, trimmed well within regulations for the Marines. He was in full dress uniform and walked with a limp, as well as with a purple heart on his shirt. Hs sat down at the table. “Mr. Warner I presume?”
I nodded. “Ah, the silent type I see.” He replied. If he was ONI, then he must be some new breed, he seemed to have, gasp, human emotions.
“No. It’s just that your boys out there did everything short of a rectal check out there. What is this?” I asked.
“Well, this is your way to pay back the UNSC and it’s people for all the bad things you have done.”
“Bad things!?!” I exclaimed, “What kind of ‘bad things’ have I done! Everything I have done has been in the service of the UNSC!”
“You really want to know?” He produced a manilla folder from seemingly nowhere and pulled out a picture. It was a woman, she wore a scarf over her hair and sunglasses. “Do you know her?” he asked, showing me the picture.
“No, I haven’t seen her before.” I replied quickly, I hadn’t.
“Well, her husband,” he showed me another picture. A man lying in the middle of the street with three gunshot wounds in his chest. I remembered him. He was an informant, working for the pirates. I had shot him three years back. “You knew her husband, didn’t you.”
I nodded in agreement, ashamed. “Well, I think that you were the last thing he saw. You wanna know what happened to his wife? She went insane, because she believed that a government agent had killed her husband. She became stricken with Paranoia and Dementia, eventually killing two soldiers before she shot herself aboard the Navy Cruiser the Albatross. You caused this. Any idea how many more like this there were?”
I nodded, “56, one for each mission.” I replied, I had that number in my head. I hated that number. I did not want to kill, but I was forced to, for the UNSC, and my honor.
“56? You are way off. That man also had two children. Mark it up to 58. One of them ran away, was never found again until one of her fingers were found in the Palagini river. The son, stricken with the loss of everyone he knew turned to a life of crime and drugs, and died three years later from his drug use.”
“So what, did I affect two hundred?”
“More than even that. One of the soldiers his wife shot. He had a wife, and kids, and they all…”
I raised an open hand to him while looking away, “Okay, that’s enough, I get it.”
“I don’t think that you do. Every one of these people did not die because you murdered them. They died because they did something that made you murder them. Let me tell yo9u this, the next mission that you will go on will have you murder at least four civilians and one UNSC personnel.”
“What is it?”
“First a little side story, have patience Mr. Warner.” He shifted folders as I wait. He slid a thick folder out of the middle of the stack he had. He slid it across the table to me. I noticed the marks on the front, both ‘Classified’ and ‘Discontinued’. What business did I have with this? “This, Mr. Warner, is the last paper document of the first Spartan-III prototypes. Let me tell you a little story, but remember, these words don’t leave this room. A couple decades back, a project was begun. It was referred to as only the Spartan-II project.”
“I thought you said that they were III’s?”
“Yeah, but listen, the Spartan-II’s are mankind’s greatest feat, because they were not. They were once humans, but we did things to them. We did things they did not deserve, I’ll admit, but things that had to be done. The Spartan-II project is the UNSC’s greatest, and perhaps only hope. Did you know that currently we are fighting a war that we cannot hope to win? There is no way, not one chance in hell that the UNSC will find a way to defeat the Covenant unless something great happens, like a civil war among their ranks or something. Well, since entering combat, thousands of Covenant soldiers have died at the hands of a Spartan-II. We loved them, however they are not enough, we needed better, smarter, faster Spartans, so we began the Spartan-III project. But this time, we did not start with humans. We started with something all our own. We made them faster than any person’s bones could survive, we made the stronger than you can imagine, we made them smarter than any human geniuses, and we made them so that they were at the same time less human than any creature imagined. They are true abominations at the core, and we should have seen it coming earlier. Most of their designs are classified, but all I can tell you is that taking one on without a plan is like taking on a BAP that is sitting on a cliff edge a mile away from you, you can’t.
“We closed the project. People were getting a little stingy with them, some of the new components, like their hive minds were just too scary to deal with, so ONI had us shut them down, and supposedly all were destroyed. You are here today because someone found something that we can’t deal with. There are three facilities on Lunar 4 that I am allowed to tell you about, and that must be kept secret. There is one in the heart of a dense rainforest, the one you will hate the most. And the next, is in an underwater lab, and you will hate that one too. The next, is one in a desert, and like the others, you will hate it. Look at the pictures.”
I flipped the packet open. I saw the first picture, printed on a standard 8x11 sheet of paper. It was a few kids, all behind a chain link fence. They wore fatigues, and appeared to be combat ready. One had a rifle and shot at a target, the others all stood in an obstacle course with their eyes closed, one appeared to be guiding the rest, looking down at the field. “What’s going on in this picture?” I asked.
“Well, what you have here is a Spartan-III training course, the picture taken by a man you killed a year ago. Anyway, this is the one in the forest, and a lot of eyebrows, namely all of them, were raised after seeing this photograph. Luckily, the problem was suppressed, and only a handful of people saw it. Agents like you finished off the rest.” “So, what’s the problem?” I thumbed through the rest of the pictures, seeing only basic military training going on, hell, I had been through worse getting into this facility with the ONI shakedowns than that. “We have another problem.”
He shifted folders and handed me another, which seemed surprisingly empty. Usually they only sent me on missions that they had bountiful intelligence on the situation, but this one was different. “Open it.” I did, “Look at the picture.” He commanded.
“Alright, I’m doing that.” I looked down at the picture, it was a family of four, and none appeared to be someone that I had killed, this had to be unrelated.
“What do you see?” he asked me, referring to the picture.
“I see a family, and they are standing in front of the jungle, and a river. They must be on vacation, they look pretty happy. A boy, a man, a girl and a woman, a perfect family.”
“Yeah, that is what you would think, but take a closer look at the tree line.” He slid me a magnifying glass. I lifted the object and scanned the tree line and suddenly saw it, two lone eyes, trailed with a body that seemed unusually large. Was this a Spartan?
“Mark-12. One of our hive drones as we call them. He was independent most of the time through our studies, and we were going to kill him off for his lack of cooperation with the colony, but he slipped out of the secure zone somehow, we suspect sabotage though, he took down nine armed guards though. We were fine with this, even in April, when reports of a ‘fiendish monster’ trickled in. The locals, mainly farmers, were finding their livestock dead or missing, and started to blame the disappearance on thieves or a Chupacabra like monster. We suspected vandals until we sent a team down to check it out. Their findings were, and were not, depending on the audience of course, that any human could have possibly done that much damage.”
“Let me guess, the Spartan?”
“That’s what we like about you James, you can forecast things. This however is common sense. Luckily the public didn’t know what was out there, but we feared that it might become violent. We sent in a strike team to neutralize it. We didn’t hear from them again, but that was expected. Soon we gave up on it, the Spartan was really gathering a legend like status, and no one thought it was human, so we were ok.
“Then some family accidentally got a picture of it. They immediately thought it was a lost child and a search and rescue sweep of the whole jungle was called in. So far, twenty more men have gone missing. What we have on the loose is a mass murderer, and should be considered armed, though we haven’t received any reports that it actually has a weapon. If you go on this mission--”
I cut him off, “Wait, why don’t you just drop a brigade of tanks into the jungle and go find it and blast the damn things to hell?”
“We don’t want the damn thing to be able to blast us to hell. It would find a way to get a hold of one of those tanks, and it would go on a rampage. Do you want that?”
“No sir.” I said quietly.
“Alright then, so I assume you are going on this mission?”
“A mission to kill the Spartan-III, right?”
“Duh. Dumbass. You have been in the Marines for long enough to guess that.”
“Alright, and this isn’t a suicide mission you’re sending me on, right?”
He hesitated, not a good sign, almost as bad as he was a liar. I had grown to be able to read people in recent times, and loved every moment of it. “Well, no, not if you are as good as H.Q. says you are.”
“Awww, H.Q. said I was good? I can’t believe it… Really?”
“Yeah…”, he said, an inconvenient pause following. I should really learn to be more passive at times.
“Okay, so if I go on this mission, I leave now, and if I don’t?” I left a pause for him to reply.
He gestured to the ducts I saw on the ceiling, “You do, or you go bye. Your choice, but what you heard here doesn’t leave this room unless you are on a flight to the jungle. By the way, you have thirty seconds to decide.”
I sat aboard the V42 Pelican Transport, Bravo 42, and drifted lazily above the clouds. This wasn’t a normal ground combat mission, so I was guaranteed a comfortable flight, where as normal conditions would have required higher speeds. I noticed that everything was unusually nice, as if it were my final moments and they thought they should be in comfort. A portentous thought, but acceptable, I was fine with having a padded chair. The howl of the engines was sounding increasingly distant though I stayed at the same distance, I hoped that wasn’t a bad signs. The plot, who sat in full armed duty uniforms and equipment, standard for a pilot I guess. I saw him move only occasionally and couldn’t see his face, and sometimes doubted he was awake. He wordlessly began to decelerate and drop through the clouds. I peered out of the window to see only a white expanse, the clouds. We broke through the cloud barrier within a few seconds, and the green expanses were visible to me.
I grabbed my parachute and stepped towards the back of the plane, they were to drop me into the woods where I would find my way north two miles to the small town of Melo, a mainly agricultural town where many people stop by every once and I while. I would abandon my parachute outside the town and move in during the middle of the night to leave my rifle in a secure location, hopefully one where no kids, or even worse, their parents would find it. This was to be a low profile mission, and I was not to alert even a single person as to where I was there on a mission to hunt something, I was just a visitor to them, and my reason, I was the long lost cousin of Jose Martinaz, a resident of the town. I had a facelift to pick up a more Latin-American look, and was hoping that he would fall for it and take me in as a relative though I actually had never seen the man before. This was how many of my missions began, though about half started with me peering through a scope and into a window, a reticule centered on some unsuspecting mans forehead. I hated changing my face with every mission though, and I doubt that my parents would recognize me now, though it hardly mattered, they were on Earth, and I was not.
I slid on the right strap of the parachute, quickly following with the left arm strap and the leg braces to make sure that my ascent did not suddenly pick up speed after my arms slipped from the parachute… A painful way to go… I poked my earlobe and felt the chip in it. Nothing too big, but big enough to vibrate noises through my head and get the heads up on any situation I was in. It was just assurance for them that I was alive or dead really, if that thing got me they would want to know. I hoped.
“Alright, get ready. Have fun Mr. Wilson.” The pilot saluted me as the back of the Pelican flew open. The chair I was sitting in rocket out of the door being that nothing braced it down. I gave the pilot a hearty smile and ran out of the back of the Pelican. These low altitude drops made me nervous. The air whipped by my face as I fell closer to the treetops. I checked my altimeter watch, and gazed at it as the dials spun around showing my altitude lowering. I waited till the short hand, which represented the thousands of feet in my drop struck 1, and then fell halfway to zero. Such low altitude deployments were only possible because of the low gravity on Lunar 4. I had to push the limits though to keep out of public view. After all, you never know when a birdwatcher will be sitting on his roof watching the sky when suddenly someone parachutes out a of a traditional military ship and lands in the woods. Then a mysterious stranger shows up in their town, too weird. I grabbed on the shoulder of my parachute and ripped a cable, instantly being pulled upward. I watched as the chair continued to plummet into the treetops and was smashed to pieces as it hit different branches, a fate I didn’t want to meet. I pulled back on the controls of the parachute and lifted a little higher. My descent was slowed, so I dropped into the top of the treetops, jumping over a few of the trees. I dropped a rope and allowed it to dangle beneath me. I watched as it bounced harmlessly off a few branches though scaring a few birds out of their trees as I passed over. After a half dozen attempts, the rope caught on a branch. I was ripped backwards, my forward momentum stopped. The branch snapped with a loud crack as my parachute collapsed. I dropped quickly and hit off of a branch on the way to the ground. I attempted to grab onto it to slow my fall, but to no avail did I. I continued to drop, lethal altitudes. I was falling to the ground and feared I would die when suddenly I stopped, swinging a few feet above the ground. I looked up and saw my parachute blocking one of the suns. I yelled in exuberance and waved my arms, swinging back and forth from the movement. I slipped out a combat knife and cut myself free, dropping the remaining yard to the ground. I reached up and grabbed the backpack, pulling on it a few times and snapping all of it’s straps to drag it to the ground. I flopped it loosely over my back as I pulled out the L4PS system. I checked it, I had a little over two and a quarter miles to walk, longer than projected. The forest was nothing like the rainforests I had predicted, though it was summer2, so the warmer drier summer on Lunar4. This could be the dry season for the forest. I looked around to examine my surroundings. No Earth trees though most resembles oak type tress as a few breeds of conifers. The floor of the forest was coated in a thick layer of dried up pine needles, though most of the trees seemed to be coated in thick layers of green leaves. I looked at my watch, which had a compass and pointed it North. I hated walking and already felt like I was being watched.