Survival Instincts, Chapter 1
Posted By: GLADIATRRR3000<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 31 August 2004, 4:58 AM
Transmission from Warship VI. Receiving.... Received.
Shall I display the message? Message displayed. Forever is the Covenant's Glory.
We have closed in on the human colony. Shall we commence attack?
Forever is the Covenant's Glory.
End of Message. Send reply?
Commence attack immediately. Leave none alive.
An hour later, Travis was at the top of a cliff. Panting, he laid down on a boulder, pulled out a water bottle, and chugged half of it in a second. He wiped his mouth and looked around. "Wow. The view up here is really something." He said, looking over the entire city. He was used to a view like this, except he could see over the mountains behind him into the deep forest, and over the city and see miles out into the ocean. "How did you find this place?"
Kristy smiled and looked out at the ocean. "I've been hiking with my parents for years. They found this place when they were dating... I thought it'd be fun to bring you up here too."
Travis thought about the statement for a second, then gulped. "Er... how about if we go a little farther up the mountain? Might as well get to the top now."
Kristy sighed. "I've tried before. The path ends up there. Nothing up there but caves. Caves and trees."
Travis looked out at the ocean and spotted a small ship flying over the town. "Is that the shuttle from Earth? It's not supposed to arrive until Thursday..."
Kristy looked out at the city, concentrating hard to find the ship Travis mentioned. "That one? No, that doesn't look like a shuttle. Maybe it's a cargo ship?"
"Too small." Travis wondered. "Maybe..." Travis ended his sentence early, when dozens more of those ships came through the clouds.
"What in the..." He muttered.
Kristy screamed and pointed behind them. Travis turned and gasped as the clouds parted, revealing a large Covenant warship. He was at a loss for words. Kristy, however, was screaming. "I've seen that before! At school! It's a Covenant attack ship! How did they find this planet? It's an Inner Colony! They'd have to go through dozens of other planets to get here!"
Travis looked over the town, now riddled with small explosions. From this distance, he could see buildings being blown apart, their metal frames melting from the plasma. He could also see the streets filled with civilians, all of them running from the docks, unaware that there were dozens of ships in front of them. Then, just when Travis thought it couldn't get worse...
The ships lowered onto the ground, their sides opening. Out poured at least 100 Covenant troops. Hard to tell what Covenant species from the distance, but he could see the tall, human like figure of the Elites, the stubby, almost ape like Grunts, and the glimmering shields of the Jackals. He could hear the screams from miles away. He turned to look at Kristy, and saw that she was looking through binoculars. "Oh, no! How could this happen?" She said, her hands shaking so much she dropped the binoculars.
Travis picked them up, and looked through them. He could see Elites and Jackals tearing people apart like tissue paper, laughing as they did so. Every now and then, a police officer would drive by, only to be swiftly killed as hundreds of plasma beams fired at him. As a building fell, it knocked several dropships out of the sky, which exploded when they hit the ground, followed by tons upon tons of drywall, concrete, and fire.
People were jumping into the ocean, where several of the native species of the planet, all carnivorous, tore them apart. Large, shark like creatures named Jars, 20 feet long, tore them to shreds as people ran into the waters, trying to avoid the Covenant. The shores were turning dark red with blood.
Then, another Covenant warship flew across the sky, blotting out the sun. Now, the only thing illuminating the city were the fires and the plasma streaking across the sky.
Travis dropped the binoculars, got on his hands and knees, and threw up the eggs and bacon that he had eaten for breakfast. Kristy grabbed his shoulder and tugged. "We have to go down there! We have to get supplies!" She screamed.
"If we go down, we're dead!" He yelled at her.
"We're dead if we stay up here and starve, come on!" And with that, she ran down the trail. Travis tried to keep up, but lost sight of her within minutes. He stumbled, fell, and rolled a few feet, got up, then ran again. When he reached the bottom of the path, he saw Kristy heading towards the city. "Kristy, wait!" He yelled after her, but was drowned out by a ship flying overhead.
He sprinted for half a minute, then finally caught up to her as she ran towards his house. She grabbed a rock, threw it through one of his windows, and ran inside. "Hey, the door was open!" He yelled angrily, as instinct told him that breaking windows was a bad thing.
She ignored him, grabbing all the fruit and vegetables on the counter, ran to his fridge, and emptied it into her hiking backpack. "We have enough food and water for several days. Do you have any beef jerky? Anything that's non-perishable?" She asked, her voice breaking.
"No..." He said thinking.
"Well, let's hurry up and get out of here before the Covenant find us." She said, running for the broken window.
"Wait!" He said, running upstairs into the attic. He pushed aside a box, opened a crate, and grabbed his brother's hunting rifle. He felt around the bottom of the box, found the small container of bullets, then ran back downstairs. "Ok, let's go."
When they ran down the block, several screaming people ran by. "The Covenant! The Covenant! Run for your lives!" They were screaming.
They ignored them, running further up the street. He saw a car drive up, hit an elderly man, then lose control and drive into a house, which collapsed on top of it. Travis held on to the gun tighter, trying to load it while running, and heard a familiar voice. "Travis, thank God, it's you! Wait up!" called Tom.
Travis grabbed Kristy's shoulder and motioned for her to stop. "Tom, you got out of the theater?" He asked, relieved to see him.
"Yeah. The movie was sold out, so I started driving around town, buying groceries, when I heard screaming. I saw what happened, then I rushed home in the car. I saw you running down the street, so I decided to catch up to you."
"Hurry up! Let's hide in the caves at the top of the mountain!" Kristy called after them. Tom nodded, patted Travis on the back, and began running with them.
They were half a block from the edge of town when a dropship flew past them and landed a few hundred feet away, letting all the Covenant inside out. It was a smaller dropship, so only a dozen Grunts and Jackals climbed out. Laughing, they opened fire on the group of people in front of them. A woman in her late thirties was shot in the face, melting her skull, splattering blood on the cement when she fell. A young teen, a guy from Travis's school was hit in the stomach, and fell to the ground, screaming. He went quiet a second later.
Travis, instinctively, raised the rifle and pointed it at a Jackal. The Jackal saw him, tried to position the shield to protect him, but it was too late. The hunting rifle, designed to pierce the three inch flesh of the wild creatures of the forests, tore a hole through the light-shield, blew a hole in the Jackal's torso, and hit the Grunt's methane tank behind him. There was a bluish purple explosion, and when it died away, there were 3 dead Grunts and the dead Jackal.
Travis pulled on the pump, emptying the barrel of the gun and loading a new bullet into it. He aimed at a Grunt, who was pistol-whipping a small child, and blew the top half of it off. "Holy Hell, Travis, I never knew you could shoot like that!" yelled Tom.
"Neither did I!" Travis yelled back, pumping the rifle again and firing at another Jackal.
Tom confiscated the weapons from the dead Covenant, then tossed one to Kristy. "Travis, give me the rifle. This plasma pistol is lighter and has less kickback."
Travis handed him the rifle, then grabbed a plasma pistol, which he began shooting at the remaining Grunts. Several other people had picked up fallen Covenant weapons and fired at them too. After several moments, the path was cleared. "Follow us!" Shouted Kristy to the group of thirty or so people.
Some were reluctant to follow a 16-year-old girl, but did anyway when they heard the whining of Banshees overhead. She led them up the path that they had gone up earlier on their date, and hid them in the caves she had mentioned. Except for the dampness, it was a good hideout. The cave went deep into the mountain, which could help if they needed to escape. Although it was early, some people lied down and closed their eyes, breathing hard. No one could fall asleep.
Travis didn't know what was worse. Being in the city with the Covenant, or having to listen to his friends, people in the city, screaming and dying. Explosions could be head late into the night, then a large explosion shook the cave. People screamed, but were quieted down by Tom. "Keep quiet, or they might find us." He said, in an eerily calm voice.
At nightfall, Travis tried to fall asleep, but the horrors of the day past kept him awake in the nightmare. He had always heard of these terrors happening out in space, with the outer colonies, but to happen to his planet was something completely different. He could hear a baby crying, and old woman praying in a different language. The school's bully was sobbing into his jacket sleeves. Several people were at the mouth of the cave, holding their chests, watching the city fall to ruin.
Travis took a deep breath, turned towards his brother, and asked, "The UNSC will come, right? We're going to live, aren't we?"
Tom clasped his hands together, staring intently at them and didn't answer.