Blue 4 Chapter 1
Posted By: firerwolf<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 21 February 2013, 2:18 am
Kelly took in a deep breath as the chemicals worked their way out of her system. The hatch opened and she leaned forward, coughing up the clear liquid that supplied nutrients while in cryo. Infinity would be coming out of slip space soon and the crew was being awoken to prepare. Once her lungs were clear of the mucus-like liquid, Kelly made a quick pass through the showers before she grabbed her clothing and got dressed into the black under layer of her armor. Fred and Linda joined her a couple seconds later, Fred still coughing up a little of the liquid. Kelly was already off down the catwalk before they even got dressed.
The line of armor stations was a bustle of activity, gearing up the Spartan IVs. Officers shouted orders at their soldiers and carts of weapons were being pushed around so that people could grab their combat gear. Kelly moved to one that wasn't being used, the one that was specifically set up for the more advanced and expensive Mark VII armor that the Spartan IIs wore. While the Spartan IVs used armor that was designed by private companies, the Spartan IIs were still given armor created and perfected by the brilliant minds at ONI. Kelly moved into the center of the ring and held her arms out.
"Would you like an update?" Sapphire offered.
"Tell me the news." The ring rose up and started to assemble the armor around Kelly as she stood. Once the arms were armored up she took a step back, allowing the boots to be brought up from the floor. She stepped into them and stood as the rest of the armor was put into place.
The AI's avatar appeared at a holotank to the side of the machine. It's color fluctuated in a steady rhythm as it always did when giving a clear report, like it was keeping time as it spoke to pace itself. "We don't know much other than the signal. The probe that we'd sent there, that received the message, has been destroyed. It should be assumed that there will be hostiles as soon as we've exited slip space. The Captain's plan is to find the signal, retrieve whatever we can, and if possible clear out enemies. These locations point to a Forerunner world so it is uncertain if the enemy is a known type or will be something we have not yet found."
The mechanical arms put Kelly's chest plate in place and it connected to the power pack. "Right, because with Forerunner nothing should be ruled out." Kelly stopped the machine from putting her helmet on. She grabbed it from the robotic arms and slipped it on herself. "So, be ready to come out of slip space and be blown out of the sky." Kelly moved over to the terminal that Sapphire's avatar hovered over. The avatar vanished as she pulled out the chip and slotted it into her helmet.
"The Captain has not yet ordered deployments but I am sure you and the Spartan IIs will be sent in." Sapphire's voice echoed more in Kelly's helmet but she'd grown used to the ever changing voice. When she'd first received the AI she couldn't listen to it inside her helmet for more than a couple minutes. It was Spartan instinct to adapt, to survive with what you were given, even if that was an AI with a disorienting voice.
"If he doesn't send me out with the rabbits again." It wasn't that Kelly didn't like being deployed with her personally trained soldiers, but they could handle themselves and if they found John she wasn't sure how badly whatever actions she took would reflect on their opinion of her. She didn't really want to find out.
"The rabbits have been deployed three times with perfect reports after their missions. The Captain is aware that they can stand on their own." Sapphire was right. The rabbits had been excellent in combat without Kelly leading their every step from the field. Hopefully the Captain would keep that in mind.
Kelly watched as Fred and Linda armored up, each in their specialized armor. Linda had attachments that allowed her to carry extra sniper ammunition and snipe from distances that would blow any soldiers mind, particularly if they were the ones in her scope. Fred's armor had heavier plating and was designed to help deflect close quarter attacks. Even Kelly's armor was different. Rather than heavier plating hers was cut down to save weight and allow her to reach higher speeds. The plating had also been curved and made sleeker for better aerodynamics.
"So what does the ball of light say our orders are?" Linda asked. She never called Sapphire by its name. Kelly was never sure if it was out of jealousy, as Kelly had been given an AI and she hadn't, or if she simply didn't like Sapphire.
"No orders yet. We should be coming out of slip space soon, though. I'm sure we'll get them soon." Kelly turned her attention to the Spartan IVs that were suiting up. She could spot the soldiers of her team from the demon rabbit insignia painted on their armor, the same on her shoulder and chest armor. The only difference was their rabbits were on fire, hers simply had a Roman numeral two behind it. It was really instinct that she went looking for them, checked to see they weren't screwing around. After all, she'd trained them for their duty so it was her reputation on the line with whatever actions they took.
"Commander, the Spartan IIs are being ordered to report to the bridge," Sapphire reported.
"See, orders. Thank you, Sapphire." Kelly turned and walked through the crowded area. Soldiers of all kinds moved out of the way for Spartan IVs but even IVs parted like a sea for Spartan IIs.
The Spartans arrived at the wide bridge of the Infinity. The Captain was busy but his first officer, Commander Lasky moved over to meet them. "Glad you made it. Figured you three were the people who most deserved to be here when we exit slip space."
Kelly didn't really know Lasky. He was a good soldier, and a good leader, at least that was what the reports showed. Kelly remembered him as a surviving cadet but she didn't really remember much about the man himself. She remembered that he risked his life, allowing John to kill a hunter without having to take it on in one-on-one combat and probably had saved the Master Chief's life by doing so. It was a good enough reason for Kelly to like the man without much question.
"How much do we know?" Fred asked.
"Not much really. We have the distress call and something destroyed our probe. We assume hostiles but we don't know what kind," Lasky explained. "Other than that we're flying in blind."
The Spartans moved over to the holotank that was the main command console for the ship. Here Infinity could give them detailed images of whatever they might need to view. Hopefully it would give them a good look at the enemy as soon as they were out of slip space.
The Captain glanced toward the Spartans but didn't really acknowledge them. Kelly was neutral about Del Rio. He was a stable Captain, not into heroics which fit with the ship. Infinity was the pride of humanity, expensive and powerful. You didn't put a ship like that in the hands of a Captain like Keyes. He'd been a daredevil and had damaged every ship he'd received in attempts to defeat the Covenant. That sort of attitude didn't work for a ship like Infinity. Del Rio was certainly a Captain that wouldn't do such wild maneuvers. Not that Infinity could pull off anything fancy due to its size. It was built for power not maneuverability.
"Sir, exiting slip space," a bridge officer announced. The screens, which had all only shown the black of slip space flashed and the nothing was replaced by a planet hanging in space.
"Where's whatever shot down the probe?" Lasky asked. Kelly noted that he turned to the Spartans for answers, not the Captain.
"The planet might have been the source of what shot down our probe. If it's Forerunner it might have defense systems. For all we know the probe was drifting toward it and it has systems to simply keep things from impacting it," Fred reasoned.
"Try to get me a lock on the distress signal," Del Rio ordered. The holotank before him started to map the planet. Kelly frowned, spotting odd parts of the planet that looked wrong to her. She tried to remember as much as she could about Onyx but nothing seemed to match what she was seeing on this planet.
"Sir, the signal is faint but it seems to be coming from inside the planet," a bridge officer reported. "Somewhere near the core."
"Take us in a bit closer to the planet. Let's see if we can get a clear uplink to the signal," the Captain ordered. The officers snapped to action and the ship started toward the planet. Del Rio hit a button on the controls. "UNSC Forward unto Dawn, this is UNSC Infinity. We are receiving your signal. It's faint but we are reading that you are in the center of the planet. Infinity is moving in to attempt to improve the connection." The Captain released the button and took a step away from the holotank, looking to the main screens.
"Breathe," Fred whispered over the COMM. Kelly let out a breath that she didn't know she'd been holding. If they hadn't been on the bridge in front of a lot of people Kelly would have hit him for the comment. At least he didn't say 'I told you so', yet.
Kelly looked to Lasky and he seemed worried, maybe a bit disappointed. Kelly had to admit she felt the same. She'd thought that they'd come out, find the Forward unto Dawn and grab John. There didn't seem to be anything at all orbiting the planet, and Kelly didn't understand how the signal had gotten to the center of the planet. Something felt wrong about it. Why would John have gone to the center? If it was a shield world maybe he had gone into a form of cryo and was waiting for them in the heart of the planet.
Del Rio was silent as the planet slowly grew larger and larger in the screen. "Spartans, I want you to prepare to deploy to the planet. If we can't make contact we'll have to send in teams to find out what we can, to locate the signal."
The Spartan IIs all snapped to attention. "Yes, sir." They all turned and made their way off of the bridge to head to the hangers. It was a long walk and many people used some form of motorized transportation as it took too long to walk the distance.
The Spartans were silent for a few minutes as they walked before Fred turned to Kelly. "Do you still think he's down there, in that planet?"
Kelly thought about it and then threw out all her thoughts and just focused on what her instincts told her. "Yes, I think he's there. But something still feels wrong about all of this. I don't know what it is, but something isn't right. It doesn't matter though. We haven't come this far to hesitate in saving John."
"I'm with her," Linda spoke up. "I didn't like the look of that scan, something was wrong with it, but we can't back down now. If he is in there, we'd never forgive ourselves for not going and getting him."
"I'm not disagreeing. If John is in there we have to find him and get him out. Just wanted to be sure that you still had your energy. You should sprint ahead and get a pelican ready for us. Stock it up with ammunition for Covenant and Flood. We should be prepared for anything." Fred moved to the side to allow Kelly a clear path.
Kelly knew what he was doing. Giving her a chance to busy herself and move at her own pace. Kelly nodded and started to run. She darted out of the way of slower soldiers. It was nice to be sprinting at her own pace, not slowed to a walk and just waiting on the world around her. It was a little bit of control that she could have at a time when she felt like she had none.
Kelly reached the hanger and looked over the choice of pelicans. "Sapphire, find me one that's not claimed and tag it as ours." Kelly moved over to the weapons and started to grab whatever they might need. Shotguns, assault rifles, DMRs, the case that held Linda's personal sniper rifle, and a couple Spartan lasers. She put all the weapons on one electronic trolley and turned toward the line of pelicans. A nav marker showed up over the pelican that Sapphire had tagged for them. She pushed the trolley over to it and started to unload the gear. She had just put away the last of the ammunition when Fred stepped onto the rear of the pelican.
"We don't have orders yet to take off, but Infinity is nearing the planet almost enough to deploy the pelicans." Fred moved up toward the cockpit and took a seat in the pilot's chair.
"I know, if we had been given orders Sapphire would have alerted me and the pelican would be ready to get flying," Kelly pointed out. She looked back as Linda walked onto the pelican. Kelly pointed to the sniper rifle case and Linda nodded, acknowledging the weapon. "We're prepared for Covenant, from grunts to Wraiths, and Flood." Kelly moved over and took a seat. The only thing left to do was wait.
There was a sudden jolt and Kelly was almost forced out of her seat. She caught herself with one of the safety straps and looked around, seeking any explanation. "Sapphire, what's going on?"
"The Infinity is being pulled toward the planet. They are attempting to escape its pull but my calculations show that we will not be able to. Wait." Kelly stood from her seat and looked to Fred who was looking to her for answers. "Something is happening on the planet."
"Sapphire, give us a view of what's happening on our HUDs." Kelly frowned as the image of the planet showed up in her vision. She could see the planet growing closer and closer, and something odd was breaking apart on its surface.
"Commander, we are being drawn into the planet," Sapphire informed her.
"Just great," Kelly muttered, moving out of the pelican to help try to secure down whatever crates or machines might be dangerous if things got rougher. Kelly was fairly sure that this ride wasn't going to get any smoother, but she just hoped that once they were in the planet they would be able to get control and prevent a crash. If they could then they'd be one step closer to finding John and then they'd only have to worry about a way out. There was still a nagging feeling at the back of Kelly's mind that something was wrong but she pushed that thought aside for now and focused instead on securing down ammunition crates.