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A New Year's Day, Chapter 6
Posted By: Guilty Spark<guiltyspark@charter.net>
Date: 28 December 2002,5:43 am

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The Spartans followed the crevasse for about forty meters, rounded a short turn and stopped. It was as if they had passed through an entrance. The crevasse had become a tunnel, widening by about twenty meters with the ceiling vanishing into darkness. But, not a natural tunnel formed by rock. The walls and floor were smooth and slightly rounded where the two surfaces met. To the left and right about waist high in the wall, was some sort of tube-like light source. The lights occurred about every ten meters and cast a dim, blue light. Then, just ahead something caught their eye. A band of hieroglyphics, nearly five meters wide, ran across the floor. The symbols continued up both walls until they disappeared into blackness.
"Covenant writing," whispered Diamondback. "But, I've never seen anything like this. Usually, you find just a few symbols here and there."
"What do you make of it?" asked Priest.
"Don't know. Not my preferred reading."
The two Spartans briefly shot grins at one another. Priest motioned and the team gathered together. "What's our time?"
"1115. We've been at it for nearly five hours," replied Jester.
"We're breaking into two teams. Swede, Windows and myself will continue down this side of the tunnel. Napalm, Diamond and Jester, I want you on the opposite side." Priest continued, "Follow us but stay back about ten meters. I want total silence. If anyone hears or sees anything, signal the rest of the team by breaking intercom squelch."
The team nodded and moved into position. Priest motioned and they continued down the tunnel.

[February 4, 2558. 1100 hours. Aboard the USNC Concordia orbiting Luna II.]

"I don't believe this. Fleet is recalling me to Camp Eagle?!" exclaimed Halsey.
"Yes, sir. Admiral Stanrich's orders. You are to report to Colonel Bryce McFarlan for immediate debriefing," replied Lt. Jamison.
"Debriefing... Good grief, Fleet has their timing, but this beats all."
"Sir, what should I tell them?"
Halsey stood silent, rubbing the back of his neck. Can't mention the special ops team, he thought. "Tell them we are still experiencing engine trouble from our little run in with the Covenant. And, our ETA for departure is at least thirteen hours away. We'll get there as soon as we can."
"Acknowledged, sir." A brief pause and Jamison continued, "Colonel McFarlan says to stay put. He's coming to us and will be here within six hours."
"Hold on..."
"Sorry, sir. Colonel McFarlan closed the comm link. No one's there."
"Damn!" Halsey cursed under his breath. "Any luck reaching the Spartans?"
"No, sir. We lost contact with them when they entered the mountain."
"Yes?" she replied materializing near the bridge's main console.
"If we don't hear from the Spartans within three hours, then I want a second team down there looking for them. Tell Adrian to make the necessary preparations. I want those Spartans back here before McFarlan arrives."
"Right away," replied Bella as she vanished.
Halsey sat back and wondered what was so important that Fleet was coming to him.

[February 4, 2558. 1130 hours. Luna II. Unknown location.]

The Spartans noticed a faint sound. It grew louder as they continued their creep down the tunnel. The sound seemed to pulse in a low rhythmic hum. Rounding another turn, Swede halted. He broke squelch twice and the team immediately stopped.
"Up ahead... eighty meters. It looks like an entrance to a room. Lots of light," whispered Swede. He paused, "Wait. There are two figures standing just this side of the entrance. It may be the two from earlier. I can't tell - the light is silhouetting them."
"Heads up, everyone, and stay frosty. Lets go," returned Priest quietly.
The team carefully advanced towards the entrance and the figures. When they were about twenty meters away, they caught a clear glimpse of the figures. Swede, Priest and Windows froze. Napalm, Diamondback and Jester halted, still not quite able to make out the figures.
The two figures stood with their backs to the Spartans. They were definitely humanoid, but shorter than an Elite. They wore what appeared to be USNC MJOLNIR battle suits! The suits were covered in hieroglyphics similar to those the team had seen earlier. Both figures held some sort of short, metallic rod.
Priest made several hand motions. Diamondback removed a small rock she had collected when entering the mountain. She threw the rock back towards the last bend in the tunnel.
Reacting to the sound of the rock bouncing off a wall, the two figures immediately spun around. They saw nothing.
Windows nearly gasped. Their faces! They almost appeared to be human. Mouth. Nose. Eyes... those eyes. They seemed to have a faint glow...
With a quick flick of their heads, both aliens dropped a visor down concealing their face. Both reacted to the presence of the Spartans.
"They can see us!" yelled Windows.
Napalm, Diamondback and Jester began charging forward to come to the aid of the rest of the team. Jester made it two steps before he was struck down from behind. Napalm and Diamondback turned to see four more aliens standing behind them. One of them was holding some sort of pole-like weapon. Jester lay on the ground motionless.
The two aliens in front of Swede brought their rods to the ready. The rods, which were no more than a third of a meter in length, instantly extended to two meters. The end pointing toward them spit electricity. The other end cast a bright blue light - in what appeared to be the shape of a sword. Before the Spartans could react, one of the aliens charged forward striking Windows in the chest. The electrical charge sent him hurtling back into the wall. Windows was out.
"We're surrounded!" yelled Napalm.
Bringing the M33 to bear on the nearest aliens, Swede screamed, "Lets rock!" He squeezed the trigger and strafed from right to left, unleashing a continuous volley of fire. Caught off guard, the two aliens were struck multiple times across the head, torso and arms. Each time they were struck, a faint glow refracted from their armor. However, the rapid fire of the thumper was too much and both were knocked backwards off their feet. Bloodied, they lay lifeless. Swede continued his strafe. Napalm and Diamondback knew what was coming and had already hit the ground. However, the aliens had time to react, too. They jumped or dove out of Swede's line of fire, except one. The alien that had taken Jester now lay dead against the wall. Two aliens landed near Swede and Priest; the last rolled to its feet near Napalm and Diamondback. A cry of agony. Priest turned to see a blue light sword slice through the M33 and Swede. Swede's torso fell to the left; his legs to the right. Priest aimed his battle rifle, squeezed the trigger and felt the electric shock coming from the rod of the other alien. Priest fell unconscious to the ground. Napalm and Diamondback reached their feet just as the alien did. The alien raised and turned its weapon so the sword was pointing forward. Diamondback threw a spinning kick landing behind the light blue blade, knocking the weapon into the air. Napalm opened fire on the alien. It took several hits before falling to its back. Diamondback was on top of the alien before it could regain its feet. She leapt and came down on the alien driving the heel of her boot into its visor - shattering it. Diamondback hesitated. She was staring down at a human face. A sound brought her back. She turned to see Napalm collapsing to the ground. Suddenly, she felt the sting of electricity course through her brain and body and all went black.