Time: 7:54 AM
Date: September 5, 2552
Location: Halo, Operations Area 51
Rain fell slowly soaked the soil. Small, frog-like creatures croaked with pleasure as they sat by the swamps. It was slightly tranquil, in the half-light, with birds chirping, and flies buzzing. But this picture of serenity was soon to be broken.
PFC Rochester shook in his seat as the Pelican roared towards the drop point. His stomach began to convulse, and they were out of anti-nausea pills. Just perfect.
He looked out the back of the drop-ship, and watched trees disappear into the distance. The sun was just beginning to peak its shining face over the ring. He looked away, the brightness was too intense.
"You gonna be ok, Jack?"
Rochester looked over at Bobby Lambard. "Do I look like I'm ok?"
"No," Bob replied, "You look like crap. Just swallow your chyme and hold out. Shouldn't be too much longer before we get to the insertion point."
Jack nodded. He felt gastric juices burn his esophagus, and he turned towards the open hatch. It was a good thing he was closest to the door, because he lost what little breakfast he had out the back.
"Beautiful, Rocky. Just ******* beautiful!" Sergeant Graves looked across at him. "You just do that once more, and you won't have a stomach to hold anything, you got that?"
Jack moaned, then grunted softly, "Yes, sir."
"I CAN'T HEAR YOU, MARINE!"
"Sir, yes sir!" Rochester repeated.
"Good. We're nearly there, so swallow your tongues, and get ready to fight!"
A crackly voice came over the pilot intercom. "Graves, we're approaching the LZ. It's clear. I'll stay on station until you get back."
"Roger that!" Graves replied. "All right ladies, get your petite little ***** out that hatch! Let's move, move, move, move, move!"
They didn't need to be told again. They hit the release button on their straps, then jumped out. Rochester landed catlike on the ball of his foot, making almost no noise. He scanned the area while Bobby landed next to him."
"No contacts," Jack breathed.
"Move 'em out, marines!" Graves ordered.
They moved stealthily through the jungle, covering their tracks at every turn. The rain continued to come down steadily, and the marines splashed through the running water quickly. Joey Lambard got stuck in the mud once, hopped out, only to fall flat on his face. Everyone stopped. When Joey got up, he was spewing mud from his mouth, an expression of deep disgust on his face.
"I always knew you had a dirty mouth," Jack whispered.
"Can it, Jack-off," Joe said as he continued to spit out the foul black goo.
Suddenly, blue bolts of plasma scarred the mud around them, baking it to a crisp. Jack got his rifle up, and scanned the trees. Another three shots.
"Found them!" he called, "They're in the branches!" He fired into the tree where the bolts of burning plasma death had come. Bullets struck the stealth elite, and he fell into the mud with a sickening thud.
"Nice shot," Bob said.
"Don't get cocky," Graves growled. Jack knew that would be all the congratulations he got from the sargeant.
They kept running. Finally, after thirty minutes of trudging through the swamp, they came to a clearing with a large hill. Eight grunts stood atop the crest, looking down. Graves nodded to Wazowski, and the sniper put his gun on Lambard's shoulder to steady the rifle. He fired three times, taking out four grunts. The rest scattered. Graves motioned to the other men to move in.
They ascended the hill, assault rifles and pistols blazing, tearing through the enemy ranks. Grunts gave their death cries, jackals scattered, and elites moaned on the ground. But something was wrong...
"Was it just me," Wazowski asked, "or was that too easy?" The other men nodded, slowly.
"I've got a bad feeling about this," Bob said.
Then, just barely audible, a hum began to get closer and closer.
"Wraiths! Get down! Get down!" Graves yelled.
It was too late. The tank fired, and Wazowski took a direct blast. The only thing left was his helmet.
The marines didn't need to be told twice. They ran deeper into the more forested part of the swamp. They met no resistance. When they were thoroughly wet and tired, they slowed down. Lambard put his back against one of the cypress trees.
"Hey!" Bob yelled, "I found a cave!"
The other men moved in to investigate. "Looks dry enough for me," Jack said.
"Hold on. If we're going to explore this thing, we need to go together. We don't know how far down it goes, or if their are any Covenant down there," Graves said.
"All right, we'll go in pairs, then. If I remember correctly, it was just our job to explore this area," Lambard said.
"Good thinking, corporal," Graves said. "All right, ladies, let's go!"
They turned on their flashlights, and began to creep down into the darkness. Bats lined the walls, eyes glinting in the low light, and blind fish swam in puddles. Stalactites and stalagmites lined the floor and ceiling, making maneuvering very difficult.
"Hey," Jack said, "I found a holo panel!"
"You're full of crap," Joe said, "Why would there be a holo panel down here?"
"Dunno. Why don't you try it first and see if it's booby trapped?" Bob smirked.
"Shut up," Joey growled.
"Shut it, marines!" Graves yelled, his voice resounding on the narrow walls. It took a second for everyone to regain their hearing, then Graves said, "I'll hit it first, you yellow bellied idiots."
He punched the panel, and bright light hit the soldier's faces.
"See?" the sarge said, "What were you afraid of?"
"The unknown?" Bob suggested. No one replied. "Well, I thought it was funny," Bob whispered to himself.
The corridors twisted and turned down, down into the ground, until they hit a locked door.
"Lambard, get your butt over here and crack this code," Graves called.
"Yes, sir!" Joe kneeled down, and put the door decoder on the door. He hit a few buttons, and the door slid open.
"Move in," the sarge ordered. They crept in, making sure the area was secure. Suddenly, the door slid shut and locked behind them.
"Oh, ****!" Bob said, "How do we get out of here now! There's no other doors in here!"
"Yes, there is!" Joe called, "Look, in the corners. Four doors. But they're all locked. It'd take an hour to decode each one."
But they didn't need to decode them. There was a crack in the northeast door that got bigger, and bigger, and bigger.
"Stay frosty, marines!"
"I'll flank left!"
The crack was slowly getting bigger. What was behind there? A trickle ran down Jack's face. His heart beat got faster, and faster, and faster. Then, they broke loose. Tons of small, scuttling aliens. They began to fire.
"Gun them down, men!" The troops didn't need to be told twice. Brass casings ejected at intense heat. Bob's barrel began to melt, so he chucked the rifle, and pulled out his pistol. In that small amount of time, one of the aliens leapt on him, and burrowed into his scull. He never moved again.
"NO!" Jack yelled, "They're parasites! Kill..." He turned from the scene when Bob's brain was shot out onto the wall with extreme force. He watched in horror, frozen in a moment of time, as Sergeant Graves and Joe were being eaten alive. He couldn't pull the trigger. He couldn't even move, he was so afraid. Then, the parasites turned on him. He fell to the ground, screaming. "NOOOO!!! NOOOO!!!" They were on him, burrowing under his flesh. He choked, and closed his eyes. He could do nothing.
An hour later, he awoke. He rose, and staggered around. He couldn't control himself. What was wrong with him? He looked down, and saw strange tentacles growing from his arms and gut. He could see all his internal organs, churning and pumping with methodic tension. He looked up, and saw others like him.
"Greetings. We are Flood," he moaned, "We are part of the collective. Who are you?"
"We are Flood, too," another gurgled, "And so are they. We have one purpose. We must kill all so that the Flood may grow in strength."
"We have the same purpose," the one who was Jack replied, "And we must fulfill it. Let us go." They staggered out of the room, weapons in hand. They must assimilate and kill all. Death would come to all.
"Live for the FLOOD!" they cried. And so it began... the first of the Flood.