Order of the Seraphim Chapter 3
Posted By: Jehkoh<Jehkoh@aol.com>
Date: 5 April 2002 12:25 am
- Upgrade 101 -
Location: Lincoln, Nebraska
Time of Day: 11:27 P.M.
John strode down the corridor walking with a stiff gate, his grey fatigues covering his entire body. Two marines standing at the opposing end of the hallway that John was heading to stood up-right, their chins up with their rifles slung over their shoulders. John arrived at the end of the hallway, standing in front of the soldiers who were blocking his way to the door. "We need to see clearance, sir." John quirked a brow at the Marine to his right, asking himself why they hadn't been informed of his arrival. John pointed to his left shoulder with his right index finger, showing the soldier the patch of the eagle on his arm. The soldier stood in shock, quivering, "Sorry, sir. Right this way, sir," and passed an access card through the slot to the right of the sealed door, opening it instantly. The other marine's eyes widened upon seeing the badge of a Spartan. An echoing hiss resonated through the hallway while John wore a smug look of satisfaction on his face. Even after his absence he was still revered by a few. "Thank you, soldier," he told the man who opened the door for him. John passed through the frame of the door with a bit of anxiety in his chest, wondering why he had been called down to the lab as the door behind him hissed shut. One of the two marines standing guard outside the door after it closed told the other, "Did you see that shit, man?" "Yeah, but I can't believe it. I only heard he came back, but -- shit, no way man, no way." They both shook their heads toward the ground letting out a heavy sigh as they did so.
"Glad you could make it, sir," came from a man's voice that was close by. John's eyes scanned the area around him, spotting a short, stocky man wearing a red jumpsuit with a tussle of brown hair on his head. "Right this way, sir," said the man as he made his way over to a low platform against the wall to John's right. To the sides of the platform stood several marines, two on each side. Resting on the black surfaced platform was a metallic cylinder. John pondered what that cylinder was for or what it could be hiding. On the far side of the large room another sliding door hissed open, this one revealing a small group of scientists wearing the universal labcoat. They were approaching him slowly, as in a cautious manner. John could tell by the timid expressions on their face. One of the scientists broke the ice. "John, pleasure to meet you," he said while offering his hand to John, who in response shook it. "As well as a pleasure to meet you, Professor --" John glanced at the badge on the man's labcoat, "--Gary." Professor Gary smiled at the Spartan, then reached for a small mic hooked onto his collar saying, "Lift the tube, Jake." "Yes, sir." The cylinder, as John watched, was lifted off the platform by a few cables attached to the top of it. As it slowly lifted toward the ceiling of the large laboratory, John began to make out the familiar figure of a MJOLNIR suit. When the tube was fully removed, the MJOLNIR suit stood in all of its intimidating glory. Light reflected off the breast plate and every limb had a sheen to it. Not a single scratch was engraved across the surface of the sage colored body. "This is the MJOLNIR III, John," Professor Gary told him. "I'll let my team explain the rest to you."
John wanted to hear more about the suit, especially since there were a few obvious changes to it. A lithe man even taller than John stepped onto the platform, placing himself next to the MJOLNIR III. The scientist spoke, "The reason this is a MJOLNIR III is because we already made the MJOLNIR II. But the MJOLNIR II was released while you were gone, so there's no point to telling you about that second version anyway." One of the other three scientists whispered under his breath, "You don't say, Sherlock." Only John heard him, though thanks to his keen sense of sound. The Spartan continued to listen intently as the scientist went on. "The difference between the MJOLNIR III and the MJOLNIR suit you wore is small, but has an overall greater effect. For one, the M-3's shield is fifty percent stronger. No great advancement, but one none the less. You'll be able to take a few more shots in hotter areas, but don't risk it. Another is that we've increased the suit's speed by one-sixth of your old suit, something that was not done to the MJOLNIR II. The traction problem is still present, however." The man soon stepped down from the platform only to be replaced by a third scientist.
John gave the new speaker his full attention as the scientist began. "If you look on the back of the suit here, you'll notice no difference between it and the back of your suit. But inside this storage area is a stronger, more powerful battery. But don't worry, the battery is not much heavier than the one your suit housed. The reason for this more powerful battery is simple; to supply the power needed to run your suit's augmentations." A gleam shined in the scientist's eyes as he spoke the next few sentences. "Do you recall the sword that some of the Elites use?" "Yes, what about 'em," John asked. "Well, just like the Jackal's shield technology, we've been able to use the plasma sword for ourselves, mainly for you." John's eyebrows slanted, thinking the scientist was pulling his leg. He had seen what a plasma sword could do, but now he was going to wield the same power? In the six years he was gone his people had discovered so many technological advancements to aid them in the war with the Covenant. Six years was such a small amount of time. Just like the allied Grunts from three days ago this new breakthrough, the plasma sword, was another astonishment.
"So how does the blade work, since it is made out of plasma and still retains form," John asked the scientist standing on the platform who in return responded, "I really can't tell you how, that's classified." John was disappointed at that statement, but shook off the feeling easily. "Originally," the man spoke, "we were going to use the battery pack to power the sword that was then planned at the time to be an integral part of your suit, but we came across a problem. How would it be possible to have something projecting from your suit from within the shield without breaking the shield itself? Simple answer; it wouldn't. So we basically copied the original physical design so that it will just be hand-held, like a regular sword, and no longer apart of your arm." John let the words run through his head, understanding what the scientist said completely. "To turn the blade on, simply grip the handle tightly. It has a sensory response system. The hilt will be clipped onto the left side of your torso, so when you wanna use it just reach for it and squeeze," ended the scientist who soon stepped off the platform.
Another scientist from the group close to John spoke up saying, "Your motion tracker can scan over a greater range of land and you can even get a map of your current location to be displayed on your HUD. Basically you have alot of new interface to use for planning in battle. And of course, Cortana will be with you to help you with all of that." John liked what he heard about his new armor. "We're going to have to run a test on you with your new armor to prepare you for an upcoming battle, so lets get to it."
- Spearhead the Honorable -
Time of Day: 11:56 P.M.
"So why are we doing this again? I mean, do we really have to? It's not like he's a threat," a man spoke from one of the many rows of seats. The Head of Council answered in hesitation, "He is a potential threat. He's young, he has a good track record, and the way our war is going, he might take it upon himself to fight his own way. He could get cocky. We don't need that! We need men who can take orders, and if I'm correct, he's already gone out on a limb to help another troop out, risking the lives of his soldiers and himself." The Head of Council's voice began to rise, "He did that himself! If he won't obey orders he might as well fight for the Covenant." The Chamber sat in silence, only interrupted by a sigh. "Alright. I suppose you're right," said the man from the seats who had spoken before. No one else had dared to argue, knowing to do so would be in vain. The one man that had tried just found that out as well. The Head of Council ordered, "Tell Colonel Krous what needs to be done."
Location: Marine Base of Machakos, Kenya
Time of Day: 1:16 P.M.
"Hustle, Marines! I see any of you slackin' and I'll make sure there's nothing left of you to slack off!" Colonel Krous and Lieutenant Colonel McGrath were barking orders at their troops making sure they got inside the twenty different Pelican Dropships. Lieutenant Colonel McGrath was a rarity in his time and would have been in any other era of military history. Only twenty-six and McGrath had risen through the ranks to land a spot as a Lieutenant Colonel. Such a feat was an accomplishment like no other. Lieutenant Colonel McGrath had unorthodox yet brilliant tactics locked away in his mind, and if his strategies failed he was quick to improvise. Lieutenant Colonel McGrath had lost only one battle, but instead of his loss becoming a massacre when he clearly saw the odds stacked against him, he had ordered a retreat that had saved his soldiers' lives. McGrath was trusted by his men just as he trusted them.
The Pelicans were lined up in four separate rows, five Pelicans per row. Men holding their newly released MA6C Assault Rifles in their hands were swarming the Pelicans, filing in as quickly as they were told to do so. The beating of footsteps resonated throughout the docking bay as each Marine pounded his boots on the concrete floor. Both the Colonel and the Lieutenant-Colonel were pleased with the quick action performed by their troops. When all the Marines had piled into the Pelican Dropships, Lt-Cl. McGrath yelled to Colonel Krous, "Give 'em hell, sir!" Colonel Krous nodded to his subordinate sternly, showing that he damn sure would. What didn't show however was the uneasy feeling in the pit of Krous's stomach. The Lieutenant glanced at Lt-Cl. McGrath with sympathy in his eyes, feeling sorry for the man. Both Krous and McGrath pulled themselves into separate Pelicans, each with his own troops, all of which were ready to battle. The Pelicans' engines began to stir to life when a faint hum was heard that soon turned into a deafening roar. Row after row of Pelicans took off from the docking bay, lifting themselves toward the beating sun.
Location: En Route to Machakos, Kenya
Time of Day: 1:27 P.M.
Thousands of feet above the surface of the earth slept one of the planet's last hopes, John. He had requested a window seat so that he could gaze upon what he had been missing for the last six years, only to fall asleep in a blissful dream. A sudden shaking rocked him from his dreamworld causing his eyes to flutter open. John saw a man's hand on his shoulder, roughly shaking it in an attempt to wake him up. "We're almost there, John. When we get there you're just gonna get off, fix yourself up, and hop on a dropship to the battlesite," the man told him. John nodded in silence, glad he was awakened so that he could allow his body to wake up also. John hopped to his feet from his reclined chair, stretching his arms and legs till they felt warm, then sat himself back down in his seat. John's eyes danced over the savannas of Kenya, wondering what laid in store for him.
Location: Savannas of Kenya east of Machakos
Time of Day: 2:27 P.M.
The high grass could be seen for miles around the Marines' current location. Nothing but brown and green laid between them and the sky. There was dead air all around them. Only a mild warmth was present around the Marines for now, but they all knew that later it would be a scorching heat. Pelicans were scattered across the savannas, glistening under the golden sun. A humanoid figure in sage colored armor blurred across the grasslands, heading straight for the Landing Zone. The Spartan arrived in front of Colonel Krous, saluting instantly. "The Lotus mines have been planted, Colonel," said the Spartan. "Good job, Diego," the Colonel replied casually. Colonel Krous always felt that him and the Spartans could cut their ranks out of the picture and just be friendly. Maybe it helped him fee elite calling a Spartan by name as if he'd known that particular soldier all his life. Diego never really cared too much about being called by his true name, he only cared about getting the job done. "Right now we're just awaiting the arrival of the Master Chief," the Colonel told Diego abruptly. Not long after Colonel Krous's statement had a Pelican been spotted in the sky. All the Marines turned their heads toward the silver bird, wanting to see the famed Spartan. The Pelican flew toward the Landing Zone, hovering over the Marines that were scattered about the field. The Dropship descended rapidly, stalling just above the ground. Inside the transport compartment sat a lone man, covered in gleaming green armor with a MA6C Assault Rifle in his hands. One of the men yelled "Speak of the devil himself!"
The Master Chief rose to his feet, walking off the lip of the Pelican transport compartment, his boots making a depression on the grass. The Pelican Dropship behind him cut off its engines as it lay still, landing softly on the ground. Colonel Krous walked over to the veteran Spartan, saluting him. John-117 returned the salute. The Colonel spoke up first, "You'll be working with a few other Spartans, some of 'em are in the fields, a few are right here. Get yourself situated, we still have some time before --" A tremor under the feet of the Marines let out a faint rumble, yet no cracks formed in the ground. A sea of orange filled a plain of what was once green. "Shit! They got here faster than we expected!" A shock ran through the troops as they saw the great depth of the Grunts along a plain, stampeding ever so quickly toward them. "When we're done with those dogs, meet back at the LZ for transport back to base! Marines, move out," shouted Colonel Krous. The Master Chief realized he didn't have any time to prepare himself, but then again wasn't he already prepared?
The first few waves of Grunts were obliterated by the Lotus mines as line after line of orange rushed across the battlefield only to be lifted to the heavens by multiple flares of heat that shot out from the ground in random locations. By the time the Marines made it to the plain that the Grunts were being decimated on all the Lotus mines had been used, yet more and more Grunts were charging. To the Marines it seemed endless. The Master Chief noticed the strain in the Grunts, the eyes much more fiercer in these Grunts than the eyes of the ones he mopped up on Halo, as if they were determined to win this battle no matter what. The Marines held their assault rifles against their shoulders as they charged onto the plain to meet their enemy face to face. When all the soldiers were in firing range of the Grunts, a sergeant shouted "Lines One and Two! Double Time!" Following their orders, the bundling mass of Marines organized itself into two separate lines. The sergeant boomed once more "Throw grenades and fire!" With that command flew a massive volley of grenades landing into the squads of Grunts, soon letting off numerous pillars of fire throughout enemy lines. The Marines held their triggers down on their assault rifles, unloading their clips. Rounds of lead repelled the oncoming Grunts only a bit longer till they finally made it to the Marines.
What followed was chaos; the lines of Marines broke off either forming into squads or leaving soldiers alone in battle, divided against the Covenant. In the rear of the herd of Grunts were several Elites, including a commander. Three Warthogs broke through the swarm of Grunts with their LAAG cannons firing continuously at the simple yet viscous creatures. An Elite let out a curdling scream as a Warthog slammed into it, pushing the Elite's body under the right-side tires of the Warthog, ending its destructive life. The Master Chief's mind raced with tactics as he sprinted through the lines of Grunts toward an Elite, his MA6C AR rounds diminishing the shield of the heathen beast as he came closer to it. A grey blur formed between the Elite Commander and Master Chief as a snap cut through the air, causing the Elite Commander to fall to the ground with a thud. John felt a bit uneasy, though. He felt that he could mess up at any moment. After all, it had been six long years since he went into battle, and without Cortana with him presently, he was feeling most unconfident in himself. The last thing John wanted to do was get other men killed at his expense.
Diego stood among multiple Grunts, all of which were poised in his direction, ready to fire on him. And they did. Diego's HUD filled up with green as plasma bolts made their way toward him. Diego let the bolts come as close as they could before he launched himself off the ground backwards, his body turning so fast it seemed slow, allowing his hands to reach for the ground. A gleam of sunlight reflected off his armor, shimmering because he was moving so quickly. He pushed his erect body off of the ground by using his arms, landing perfectly on his boots. The bolts had passed over him while he was mid-way through his flip. One Grunt yelled "NoOoOo! He's gonna get us!" while another one yelled, "Ruuuuuuun!" Diego reached for the rifle that was slung across his left shoulder, grabbing it by its handle. Instead of putting the rifle to his shoulders, which he didn't have time for considering some of the foolhardy Grunts were about to fire on him again, he held his right arm out while squeezing down the trigger, raking his arm from left to right, laying waste to the Grunts. Some of the Grunts stood their ground as they took round after round till their feet finally gave away and their bodies were flown backwards. With each spark from the end of his rifle's barrel a Grunt was laid to the dirt. It was a form of satisfaction that Diego rarely felt.
"Alright, everybody! Listen up! We are going to charge onto that plain, and we are gonna take home some blood! If you feel you are not up to the task, put on your pannies and leave!" boomed Lieutenant-Colonel McGrath as he and his troops stood on the ridge of a hill just to the left of the Covenant, ready to flank the enemy within seconds. "Charge!" escaped McGrath's mouth. The Marines ran down the hill, spreading across the plain and joining into the fray of humans and Covenant.
The Master Chief noticed that more and more men appeared on the battle scene, beginning to exceed the number of Covenant. The Chief's feet stepped to the left, his legs lifting him forward as he performed a leaping dive, his arms bunched against his chest holding his rifle tight. The Chief soared through the air toward an Elite Major, his arms snapping forward to allow the butt of his rifle to make contact with the throat of the red armored beast. The Elite stumbled backwards, crinkling into a pile of pain as it screamed its last breath just as the Master Chief rolled onto the ground. He was crouching after he came out of his roll, his feet planted on the ground. The Chief rose from his position, instantly firing his MA6C Assault Rifle at the numerous Grunts surrounding him.
Wolfgang's head snapped to his right to look at the bright red Elite charging at him. Is this guy crazy? he thought. Wolfgang shifted all of his weight to his right leg, catapulting off of it. As the Elite major charged at him, Wolfgang flew foward while holding his right arm's elbow out, driving it directly into the chest plate of the Covenant foe. A shimmer of silver flashed over the Elite as its shield died out, leaving it no cover for protection. The forsaken creature was ripe for the taking. The Elite Major reeled back, almost loosing his footing while at the same time Wolfgang dashed foward throwing his left arm out. Wolfgang's gloved hand closed in on itself as the fingers contracted, forming a fist. Wolfgang finished his dash to the Elite Major by adding his own current momentum to his body and rocketing himself off his left leg, still holding his fist. Just as the Elite had regained composure and was ready to strike, a balled, black fist struck him in the face, landing a rock hard blow. The Elite let out a roar that stopped some of the Grunts in their tracks and caused them to look at the fight. Wolfgang had already blitzed past the Elite, moving onto another target, but the after effects of his punch still remained where he hadn't. A line formed from the crown of the Elite's helm to the snout of it's face, cracking the armor in half instantly. The beast grasped for its face as it continued to howl in agony, not being able to stop the suffering. The body of the Elite collapsed onto the ground in misery as it slowly died, its skull now crushed inward.
Within minutes the battle was over. The corpses of Covenant forces and humans alike were strewn across the battlefield. Blood of crimson taint and neon-blue stained the soil. McGrath's boots lifted over the bodies to get to the Spartan known as Wolfgang. "What'd you think of this battle, Spartan?" asked Lieutenant-Colonel McGrath. "Easy at best. Seems a shame, though. Not much of a challenge in it." Lieutenant-Colonel McGrath had an opaque expression on his face as he wondered what kind of power must have flowed through the Spartan's body where he felt invincible. McGrath would have wished for that power any day. "Well," started McGrath, "let's round up the troops and head back to the LZ."
The Master Chief made his rounds through the bodies, making sure no Covenant critters had survived that round. Only after the battle was over had he realized that McGrath had flanked the enemy in a surprise attack. Out of the corner of his eye the Chief noticed the Pelican Dropships from the LZ landing on the edge of the plain of where the battle had just been fought. Strange, he thought. He didn't notice those Pelicans flying at them before. They must have been launched during the battle for back-up or an early pick-up.
An open-communications channel was established between the Chief and his fellow Spartans.
CK> Spartans, this is Colonel Krous. Head to the Pelicans, we're lifting off.
Over the comm-channel John heard numerous "Yes, sirs." The Chief scanned the horizon on which the Pelicans were stationed on and noticed that only Krous's troops were piling onto the Dropships. John re-opened the comm-channel stating,
MC> Colonel Krous, why aren't McGrath's troops taking off with us?
CK> We're leaving them behind, soldier. We don't need 'em anymore.
Over the comm-channel another voice chimed in,
W> You mean he's not part of the UNSC anymore? What for? He didn't act on his own. He's not autonomous like those others.
CK> Don't argue with me soldier! Get on this Pelican now!
A tremor as big as the one that occurred before the battle between the Covenant was heard as Colonel Krous was yelling over the communications channel. On the rim of the hills that stood in front of the plain formed a line consisting of the same number of Covenant troops as before. Then, the line extended on both sides of its original ends as more and more Covenant troops arrived on the rim of the plain. The Master Chief thought, So that was the quake we felt before. "Covenant reinforcements have arrived!" yelled McGrath before he began shouting out commands to his troops.
W> We have to help them, Colonel. We can't leave them like that.
CK> No! Get on the dropships now! They can fend for themselves.
D> We're on sir. Me and eleven other Spartans.
W> Diego! You're gonna go through with this?
D> Those are my orders, Wolf.
W> You're slime, Diego. Real slime. You're gonna let them get killed?
D> Like a true soldier, I know to accept my orders. Sacrifices have to be made, Wolf.
MC> Wait a second. We're abandoning our Marines? Colonel Krous, I can have you court-martial--
W> Don't bother, Master Chief. It's a standard thing now-a-days to leave behind men. Nothing will happen to Krous. He's no doubt been ordered to leave McGrath behind.
John didn't know what to do. He had to take orders, but then again he couldn't let lives be lost like this. His whole life had been based on obeying, being given orders and executing those orders. If he couldn't do that, then the foundation on which he rested would fall through. After a long pause John decided what he would do.
MC> I'm staying.
W> As am I.
The Covenant forces drew closer, the gap between McGrath troops and the Covenant closing quickly.
CK> Suit yourself. You've just lost a career with the Marines.
D> See you around sometime, Wolf.
W> And after that, it'll be the last time.
The communications channel between the Spartans and Colonel Krous and his troops closed, yet remained open between the Spartans that had stayed on the ground.
MC> Hey, that one Spartan, Diego, said that him and eleven other Spartans were onboard the Pelicans. That means that eight of us are still here.
W> Lets retreat and re-group. There's no way we can take on that amount of Covenant with our numbers dwindled. I'll round up the other Spartans. Tell McGrath to rendezvous with us at a Point 034-689-001. It's right over an underground testing lab that was used for us Spartans, so it's safe. Good luck, Master Chief.
MC> Good luck.
John had lied to Wolfgang. He didn't believe in luck. The Chief blitzed across the plain to McGrath, telling him the news. "Son of a bitch! That low-life mother fucker!" McGrath ordered his troops to retreat soon after he finished yelling his obscenities.