Blue 4 Chapter 3
Posted By: firerwolf<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 21 February 2013, 2:39 am
Kelly watched as the phantom hovered over the flat area and the Covenant troops all boarded. "Where are they going?" She didn't understand why it was that the Covenant would leave the area. She did know that Sapphire was monitoring their chatter.
"I've been studying their COMs and they seem to be organizing. They are often making references to something called the 'Didact', but I don't have any context for this term. They seem to claim that their orders are coming from whatever the 'Didact' is." Kelly didn't need to see the AI's avatar to know it was annoyed. Sapphire never liked missing information.
"Spartans, we've got the coordinates for the gravity well. We made contact with Infinity and are going to need a landing zone to evac our wounded and casualties. I'm sending you some assistance to help find us a place big enough." Kelly couldn't help but think there was a bit of excitement to Lasky's voice. She frowned, not understanding why he would be happy about something like this.
"I've got eyes on something," Linda announced. "Looks like one of those lizard-like machines that you found earlier but with spikes on its back."
"From the data I have gathered these things are referred to as Prometheans. The small ones seem to be called crawlers and the large ones knights. There is also a reference to something called a watcher but I have yet to identify one."
Kelly spotted a familiar flash of light and one of the knights appeared. "Those big ones will be a problem. They have shields and can teleport." Kelly moved back from her sentry position and slid down the tree trunk. "We should get more ammunition for our weapons. I don't know how much it takes of those to kill one of those things."
"I'll keep an eye on them. You go get us some more ammunition. I don't think I want to be caught unprepared against one of those things." Kelly flashed a green acknowledgment light to Linda and headed off down the jungle path toward the shelter the Spartans were using.
Kelly stopped as she spotted two friendly dots on her motion tracker. "Don't kill me," she muttered over the COM. She moved to the center of the path so that they would spot her easily. She was slightly curious as to who Fred had brought with him.
One of the dots stayed put and Kelly spotted Fred as he moved around a corner. "Why are you heading back?" he asked. "There's no landing zone back there."
"I was heading back to get more ammunition. There are Prometheans up ahead, and since I have yet to use bullets to kill one so we have no idea if we have enough ammunition," Kelly explained. "Figured more wouldn't hurt."
"That's reasonable. I'll head back for ammunition. You stay here." Fred didn't let her question his decision before he turned and walked off. Kelly scowled, not liking him just deciding things without even giving her a chance. She noted that he stopped for a moment beside the other dot before he moved on.
The second dot moved forward and Kelly didn't pay it much attention. She supposed it was probably a Spartan IV that Palmer sent to make it look like the Spartan IIs weren't doing it all on their own. Her gaze turned toward the trees around them, not exactly convinced that the small crawlers wouldn't still find a way to get to them or that the knights wouldn't teleport back to attack them. She wondered if they'd hold a grudge against her for killing two of their own.
"Kelly?" Kelly spun around at the voice and was met by the sight she'd been waiting four years for. His armor was more bulky then she remembered, but maybe he'd been forced to do some on the move repairs with less advanced equipment. None of them had been there so she didn't know for sure. He stood with an assault rifle held loosely in his hand, only feet away, but she couldn't seem to cross the distance.
"Commander, your vital signs have gone erratic. Is everything all right?" Sapphire's voice was like nails on a chalkboard in Kelly's ears. It wasn't the voice she wanted to hear at that moment.
"Sapphire, I've waited quiet a long time for this. Can you just be quite unless it's an emergency?" Kelly didn't bother waiting for the AI to respond. It would stay silent as she'd requested. She took a deep breath and forced her body to move forward. She raised her hand up and swiped her fingers across his visor in a Spartan smile. She smiled behind her visor, letting her fingers linger for just a fraction of a second longer than usual. "John."
John didn't move, didn't speak, just stood and watched her for several grueling seconds. Kelly didn't understand, didn't know why he didn't seem to be happy to see her. His hand finally rose and swiped over her visor, returning the smile. "When we get the chance, you'll have to tell me what happened to you." Kelly nodded, understanding what he meant. The last time she'd seen him she was just going to Halsey for a medical treatment for the burns that had covered most of her body, and instead had been kidnapped by the doctor. Kelly doubted that anyone had the time to inform him of Onyx or the events there.
"When we clear the landing zone there should be some time on the trip back to fill you in a bit," Kelly offered. She turned back toward where Linda was keeping watch. "We should probably stick to business. We're going to work our way ahead to a landing zone to evac the wounded. We have Prometheans ahead and we don't know where the Covenant forces have gone."
John moved to stand beside Kelly and she could feel his hand touching hers lightly. It was just hanging loosely at his side but the touch meant so much more to a Spartan II than any other soldier could understand. "Do you know what kind of Prometheans are ahead?"
"Knights and crawlers, at least so far." Kelly shifted a bit so her shoulder armor touched his. "I sent Fred back to get more ammunition. I haven't killed a knight yet with bullets so I had no idea if we had enough."
"A knight takes about as much ammunition as a strong elite." John looked toward their touching shoulders but didn't acknowledge it further. "Crawlers are easy but watchers should be targeted first. They can provide shields for knights and crawlers."
"I thought you said you were going to keep it PG." Kelly looked back at Fred as he approached them from behind. Kelly frowned at him from behind her visor. "I got you that extra ammunition." Kelly noted that he held it out to the hand that was touching John's.
Kelly reluctantly moved away from John and took the ammunition, storing it away. "Come on, the longer we wait the more forces might show up."
"We have friendlies heading toward us...make that fleeing toward us. How many sniper shots do you think it will take to kill one of those knights?" Linda asked.
"Well John says that they are the equivalent of a strong elite, so if you get headshots I would say two shots. One for shields one to brain them," Kelly answered.
"John? He's here?" Linda's voice was a mix of surprise and excitement. It was the most emotion that Kelly had heard from the other woman in years. "So you've already reunited with him? Then I missed you two groping each other. How bad was it, Fred?" Kelly stopped herself from betting annoyed with them. They were sort of ruining things with their teasing.
"It was bad. They were touching hands, and shoulders," Fred answered.
"Ew, get a room," Linda teased. Kelly checked the channel and was glad to see that John wasn't on the same team channel yet. She hadn't realized that she'd been speaking to him through their helmet speakers instead of the radio. There were two cracks of sniper rounds. "Yeah, two headshots does the trick."
"Don't' stay still, Linda. They can teleport up to where you are." Kelly turned and started to jog down the path. "Sapphire, include John in on the team COM."
"Am I allowed to talk now?" the AI asked. It was being a smartass but Kelly ignored it. She didn't mind it so she didn't call Sapphire out on the habit. "He's been included."
"How many soldiers do we have under attack?" Kelly ran a bit faster as she heard the sound of assault rifle fire. "What sort of enemy forces?"
"Five marines pinned down at the watch area the Spartan IVs sadly put up and we've got two of the big guys and half a dozen of the lizard things. One of the big ones spit something out of its back. Not that pleasant of a thing to watch," Linda reported. "I'm heading down to meet you three."
The Spartan IIs reached the end of the path and found the five marines huddled behind the sandbags of the watch post. Kelly raced forward, raising her battle rifle. "Sapphire, inform the Commander that there will be more wounded coming in."
"Understood Commander, they have been informed and are ready to receive the wounded," Sapphire announced. "Monitoring for any further friendly forces."
The Spartans raced forward toward the marines to give them cover. Kelly fired with her battle rifle at the closest crawler which had a marine pinned behind the sandbags. The shots collided with the creatures head and it fell apart. She moved ahead of the soldier to give him cover and glanced around at what artillery the Spartan IVs had set up. She spotted one weapon that might come in handy against the larger enemies.
"Chief, grab the rail gun," Kelly ordered. She ignored the odd feeling of giving John an order and focused on one of the crawlers that were charging her. "Sapphire, mark." She knew that the AI would know she meant for it to mark the rail gun for John. The UNSC hadn't had the weapon back during the war so he likely wouldn't recognize it.
Kelly scowled as a blue light shield appeared before the knight she was firing on. She looked up to the odd bug-like enemy with what seemed to be wheels for wings. "Target the fliers first," Fred ordered. Kelly raised her sights and fired on the watchers.
It was minuscule but there was a second of hesitation from John before he too turned his shots to the flying enemy. "Sapphire, light up the friend or foe tags." It would be the quickest way to inform John of why there was more than one Spartan giving orders.
The Spartans pushed forward, taking out the watchers first and then targeting the knights. "I've got something odd up ahead. It looks like a
" Linda didn't finish. Kelly moved ahead and looked up the hill ahead of them. She spotted what it was that Linda had seen. The thing looked like a seed on its side and she could see that it was starting to glow. "I think it's a turret."
"John, use the rail gun," Kelly ordered. She ducked behind a rock and she watched him take cover beside him. He looked down at the weapon and then toward Kelly. She knew him well enough to know that John was asking for instructions. "Just hold the trigger, when the charge is full release the trigger and it will fire."
John nodded, moved out from behind the rock. Her raised the gun and a couple seconds later fired. "Turret's down," Linda announced. "We've got more machine guns set up ahead. Don't know what they were thinking when they placed those."
Kelly moved around the rock and moved forward, taking out a few more crawlers before they reached the top of the hill. She looked over to John as he moved to a terminal and removed a chip from his helmet. A purple ball of light appeared and Kelly knew what he'd done, and that it was a bad idea.
"These doors open up into a cave system large enough for an LZ," Cortana announced. There was a bit of static in Kelly's helmet and she could tell that it was Sapphire showing annoyance with another AI trying to communicate with the suits. "Hold them off long enough for me to open the doors."
"Take the turrets," Kelly ordered. She moved to the middle turret, Fred took the turret to her right, and John took the one closest to the terminal on her left. The first of the knights appeared and with the combined fire of Fred and Kelly was gone only seconds later. They controlled the bursts they used against the crawlers and used heavy fire against the knights.
The crawlers came in waves but the knights would come in pairs and were more cunning. They would duck behind cover and teleport away when their shields were gone. Kelly was focusing fire on one knight as a second flashed forward in a near blur. She backed up, her grip still tight on the turret, wrenching it free from its stand. She spun to face the knight and continued to fire until it disintegrated like all the others.
"Cortana, how far are we?" John turned his aim to a pair of crawlers that were trying to jump toward him. The jump really only made them easier targets and Kelly didn't understand why they did it.
The reply that came back from Cortana was fuzzy and sounded distant. "You do your job and I'll do mine, okay?" It was like she was shouting through glass, distant but her anger was obvious. Kelly didn't need to know anything more than what she'd just heard to understand how damaged the Smart AI was. They cleared out a couple more knights before Cortana finally spoke again. "Got it, passageways unlocked. Come and get me."
Kelly knew she should have but she didn't stop him from going over and retrieving the damaged AI. For now it would be better to keep it with them. Proper UNSC protocol demanded that she couldn't just be left behind for the enemy. John retrieved the AI and it almost scared Kelly to let him put it back in his armor. There was no telling what kind of damage a rampant AI could do. "Sapphire, keep Cortana in the suit, out of the systems of Infinity."
The doors slid open and the Spartans moved inside. They walked through the single cave, keeping an eye out for any Promethean enemies. Kelly glanced back to John and could see from the way he was moving, the movement of his head, that he was talking to the AI. She waited until he was finished before she stopped and he came to a stop as well. "Next time, we don't use Cortana. We'll use Sapphire." Kelly's voice was stern like she used with the Hell Rabbits when they were in training.
She made it clear that it was an order and that it wasn't acceptable to defy that order.
John watched her for a moment before he spoke. "Is Sapphire safe to use?" There was doubt in his voice and it stung. He doubted her judgment and he was obviously too connected to the AI to see how big of a problem it was. It hurt to know he cared more about the AI than he trusted her judgment.
Kelly decided not to dignify the question with a response. She turned and marched down the cave. She'd deal with Cortana later, for now they had an LZ to clear.