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Swamps, Marshes & Keyes [H&R 2]
Posted By: Jillybean<jbean_gotmuse@yahoo.co.uk>
Date: 21 August 2003, 5:50 PM


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Halo's and Rings

Author: Jillybean
Level Locale: 343 Guilty Spark and beyond
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Swamps and Marshes

"Are you ready for this?" The MC asked, holding his assault rifle casually in one hand, the side of the Pelican in the other. The Marines around them were hyping themselves for the coming battle. Daxia nodded, checking to see her plasma rifle had a fully charged battery. The smell of the swamp was rising into the Pelican, making her stomach rise.
"As I'll ever be. Didn't Cortana even give you the smallest of hints as to what kind of weapon this will be?" She asked, securing her helmet on her head. The MC shook his head and then flung his hand out towards the marsh.
"Let's go!" He shouted, leaping from the Pelican. Daxia rolled her eyes and dropped to the water. It leaked in around her boots and instantly made her feel dirty. She ignored it and stuck close to the green MJOLNIR armour. The Chief set a quick pace, through the water straight towards the Covenant. She grimaced and started firing, trying to make every shot count.

Let's arm a friggin big weapon together. It should be fun. She ducked from the plasma bolts coming from one of the Stationary Guns. She glanced down at the readout on her gun, it didn't look too healthy.
"Ring, on the log there, run across it." The MC announced, appearing behind her and shoving her onto the slippery fallen tree. Daxia ran straight across, firing randomly until the gun overheated. She rolled into a collection of bushes and lay there, panting. The MC was causing havoc outside, keeping them away from her. She glanced at the weapon and started crawling away from the MC, his location often turned into a battlefield.
"Whooo!" She screamed involuntarily as she fell down the sharp hillside and into water that went up to her waist. Spluttering upwards she was confronted by an Elite.
"Humans." It grunted, aiming a Needler at her. She went for it's legs, leaping into them and knocking it downwards. The Needler went sailing, but Daxia was bringing the butt of the Plasma Rifle down onto the soft tissue around it's neck. It gasped a little and then twitched before dying. She kept low as she searched for the Needler, finding it and discarding her spent Plasma Rifle. Now armed again she looked up into the mouth of an installation. A few Grunts saw her and started to run around like headless chickens. A splash beside her heralded the arrival of the MC.
"Are you okay?" He asked, spraying the Grunts with bullets as he talked. Daxia wiped her face clean of mud and nodded.
"Fine thanks. How are you doing?" She started to make for the entrance, the MC following a little belatedly.
"Um . . ."
"It was a joke. Did you learn humour in that . . . place you lived in?"
"Uh - sorta." The MC scouted the perimeter around the lift. Daxia rolled her eyes and walked on. The MC shook his head and headed for the control panel.
"Wait a sec - take this." He handed her a Plasma Pistol from one of the Grunts. Daxia did and checked it's charge. It was doing okay. "You'll need it." He said ominously. The lift started to descend and Daxia felt rather ill.
"Listen to me, your job is to figure out how the weapon works. No heroics."
"How come you get all the glory?" Daxia asked with a grin. The MC cocked his head then put a reassuring hand on her shoulder. He held his rifle in his hands and tensed as the lift slowed.
"Show time." He whispered.

The amount of Covenant the encountered was surprisingly few for their approach to a major weapons installation. In fact, they encountered very little resistance.
"Must have been the Marines that got here before us. Mendoza was on that team." Daxia murmured as they looked around a deserted room. The large channel in the middle was scattered with Needlers and ammunition, Daxia restocked eagerly and changed her Plasma Pistol for fresh one.
"Must have been. I wish Cortana had reminded me to take her with me." The MC said, picked up some ammunition and reloading his rifle. Daxia laughed.
"See, you do have a sense of humour."
"Never said I didn't." The MC leapt onto one of the crates and then onto the small raised platform that led to another door.
"I've a feeling we're gonna be running circles if we don't keep a track of what we're doing." Daxia said, following him nimbly.
"We'll be okay." He replied. "Come on, the quicker we get there . . ."
"The quicker we get out." Daxia finished for him, feeling rather glum.

"What happened here." Daxia murmured, not really asking, more stating that there was something seriously wrong. The MC crouched in the blood covered corridor, then ran along the small circuit and coming to her.
"It's definitely Covenant . . ."
"No - it was definitely Covenant." Daxia corrected. The MC nodded, regarding the wreckage. He looked at her.
"You spooked?"
"Damn straight." She said, looking inside the room that dripped icky goo.
"Yeah, me too." The MC admitted. "Let's move on." He headed for the door and when it whizzed open he ducked just in time as a pistol blew a hole in the wall behind them.
"You'll never turn me in to one of those freaks!" Yelled a Marine, crawling away from them and firing randomly. "Keep away! Keep away!" He shrieked as the MC came closer.
"He's nuts!" Daxia yelped as another shot nearly caught her. She ducked away and took in the state of the room. The fire, the wreckage . . . something was very wrong.
"Marine! Marine come back to me!" The MC was snapping at the delirious man. Daxia pulled out her pistol and fired. The MC sighed and picked up the pistol and ammo.
"Take this, it's stronger."
"Good thing I'm not superstitious." Daxia said, flinging the Plasma Pistol away and holstering the Marine's.
"Let's not walk under any ladders." The MC told her, leaping up the crates and rubble onto the second level. It took Daxia a little longer, but she got there too. The MC gave her a hand then led the way to the next door.

"I have got a very bad feeling about this." Daxia murmured, seeing the HackPad sitting on the door's lock, used, but locked again.
"Me too. . . so let's open it." The MC said, stepping forward and tapping a few commands. Daxia spun around, hearing the sound of someone walking. The MC's hand was holding on to her sleeve, both of them frozen.
"No one's home." Daxia said after a second. The MC tapped out the last few commands and the door slid open.

They both shrieked in surprise.
"Shit!" Daxia hissed after she'd caught her breath. The MC held the body of the Marine that had fallen through the door and backed into the room. He dropped the Marine and crouched beside him.
"Chief . . ." Daxia whispered, pointing to a helmet. The Chief stood and retrieved the helmet. Daxia reached her hand inside and pulled out the small holo-viewer. She glanced up at the MC then pressed 'play'.

The footage left them breathless.
"Oh God . . . oh God." Daxia whispered. The MC jerked around, the sound of lots of little legs clacking was growing louder and louder.
"Holy fucking shit." The MC muttered, he grabbed her roughly and pulled them both onto the slightly raised area. The hydraulic hiss of doors opening heralded the arrival of tens of spores, flooding towards them. the MC opened fire, but some of them came even closer.
"Fuck off!" He shouted, punching those that he could, Daxia started close quarters firing with her pistol, feeling immensely satisfied when each little bugger exploded.
"Turn around!" She shouted, hearing them from the other direction. The spun and continued shooting.
"They're relentless." The MC grated. They were beginning to be swamped by the hideous creatures.
"Run for it - I think." Daxia looked around, totally disorientated. She shut her eye for a sec, trying to remember where they'd come from.
"Oh shit!" The MC grabbed her and whirled her behind him, just in time as a tentacled zombie thing launched at her. The MC opened fire, killing everything in sight. Daxia grabbed one of the grenades sitting in his belt and flung it at them. The explosion killed most of the spores around them, but sent the rest on an accelerated path towards them.
"Oh . . . bugger." She muttered, shooting at everything that moved.
"Move it - this way." The MC shouted, then he paused. "Sorry, this way!"

Outside they encountered more of the same. The more they tried to escape, the thicker these creatures came at them.
"What about the weapon -" Daxia paused, looking back at where they'd just ran from. The MC stared at her.
"Screw it Lieutenant - we're getting out of this death trap, we'll think about that later!" He told her, leading them into a room full of the tentacled creatures.
"Okay . . . I see where our Marine was coming from." Daxia murmured, backing up a little. The MC turned to her.
"Listen to me, just run. Don't stay and fight, these things just keep coming. Just run!" He shoved her down onto the second level.
Daxia shot at everything in sight, hating the way the creatures kept coming. One of the Spores attached itself, she could feel it's clawed feet digging in to her back. She shot it, ignoring the heat of the bullets so close to her. she managed to get to one of the door, glancing back to see the MC running for her. She entered the corridor, heading through the blind corners to get out.
"Wah! I hate this." She cried, grabbing a shot gun up and firing at the tentacled Flood coming towards her. The MC glanced around.
"This way - follow me!" He shouted, taking her along more corridors till they reached the lift. Feeling waves of gratitude Daxia called for it, then watched as it plummeted in flames.

Had there not been so many Flood around she would have fainted. The MC roared something incoherently and leapt into the melee.
"Master Chief! Chief!" She shouted as he started to be overwhelmed. "Chief! There's another lift! Chief!" She screamed. He broke away and together they started to run.
"Sorry about that." He muttered. She shook her head.
"No problem. Just remind me never to piss you off."
"Sure thing. I hate these bloody Covenant. Holy war my ass." He kept them running through a room of generators and then finally to the other lift.
"Do you think Cortana knows?" Daxia yelled over the sound of gunfire. The MC made it to the lift.
"I dunno - get on -quick!" He shouted.
"Wait- no!" Daxia was too late as he activated the lift and it headed where it had last been programmed to go: down into the deep belly of the complex.
"Um - oops?" The MC offered with a shrug. Daxia glared at him, reloading her shotgun.
"Idiot. Now I know why you needed me along."
"Heh heh." The MC fired at the creatures below. "Let's go. It could be worse."
Daxia didn't reply, she was too busy fighting a Flood monster that had once been a Marine. Stealing his Assault Rifle she sprayed the room around her with bullets before picking the more effective shotgun up again and starting to make her way through the complex.

They did not talk much as they went as far as they could. Daxia's failure to fix the light bridge prompted the MC to swear casually, but that was as far as their conversation went. They didn't talk again until finally they got to the next lift.
"That was a nice morning wake up call." She muttered, rubbing her forehead. "Sorry about the light bridge thing."
"Don't worry about it." The MC told her, looking up at the rapidly approaching panel. "Listen, when we get to Base Camp I want you to have a look at my MJOLNIR armour - it's been a little sluggish."
"Sure. But I'm not a tech."
"Exactly, you might give it back." He said. She laughed and aimed her shotgun as they reached the level.
"Chief!" Shouted the sarge. Daxia thought she might hug them. The MC even went so far as to clap a hand on the Marine's shoulder.
"Master Chief, is that you? We lost your signal as soon as you went into the installation!" Foehammer shouted over the radio's.
"Yeah it's me. We need an extraction. Like nowish."
"There's a tower a little east of your current position, I can pick you up there. Foehammer out."
"You heard the lady!" Shouted one of the Marines as they ran upwards.

Outside the Flood were living up to their name, they swarmed the Marines as they escaped, their weapons blazing. Daxia kept firing blindly. She was almost becoming numb to the hideous creatures.
That was - until the laser's started up.

Her first instinct was to try and shoot at the flying guns, but that meant the Flood could swarm her. She felt herself being backed into a corner, one of the younger Marine's beside her.
"Oh my God, we're all gonna die, we're all gonna die, we're all gonna die!" He was shouting, firing randomly.
"Stop it - you're wasting bullets!" Daxia shouted, seeing the MC fight his way towards them. A shrill laugh penetrated the sound of the battlefield, Daxia paid it little attention, trying to escape the unwanted attentions of Mendoza. She watched as his body finally hit the water. She swallowed roughly and looked up, the MC had made it on to the splayed legs of the tower. Her breath caught as she saw a bright blue orb suddenly appear before him.
"MC!" She shouted. The young Marine beside her dropped his spent gun and curled into a ball. Daxia watched in horror as the MC was taken by the blue spark.

"Chief! Chief! Where are you, I've lost your signal. Chief!" Foehammer shouted over the comm.
"He's gone Foehammer." Daxia said, her voice catching.
"Oh shit!" Foehammer shouted back. Daxia made her way to the Foehammer, the Pelican was hovering above the marshes, trying to get as many of the Marine's inside as possible, before being destroyed. She ran for it's open belly and then grabbed the offered hand into the Pelican. Then Foehammer took off.
Daxia made her way to the cockpit and nodded at pilot and co-pilot.
"Without the MC, we're gonners." The pilot said, shaking her head. Daxia watched as the Zombie's swarmed the few remaining Marines. It was the Pilot who chose to take off, Daxia had seen those she'd not managed to save be killed by the enemy before, but the sight stuck with her nonetheless.
"Those . . . zombies, what are they?"
"The weapon . . ." Daxia answered the co-pilot's question almost absently. She didn't know it for sure - but she was pretty certain this was what it was. The Covenant had been almost reluctant to fire upon them. Were these the Gods that the Covenant killed for? Daxia wasn't sure, and her head hurt. The Marine's hadn't done a good job of patching her up.
"Wait - isn't there a stockpile of Banshee's that we've captured close to here?" Daxia said. The pilot looked at her in surprise.
"Yes - but why?"
"Just take me there. Now!"
"Why?" The pilot persisted as they changed direction. Daxia reloaded her guns and held on to the seats of the pilot and co-pilot.
"Because, there's someone I need to talk to. When you get back to Base Camp, tell them I'm recovering Cortana."
"What!"

The Banshee's were easy to pilot, but they were temperamental little buggers and in the cold they often stalled. Most of the Covenant didn't like the colder parts of Halo, the Grunts were often sent to sleep by the temperature drop. Something the doctor's had remarked upon when it was first observed.
The Banshee was able to sneak in quietly, when she hailed Cortana, the AI created a few distractions to allow Daxia to creep in to the Control Room without being noticed.
"Cortana - did you know. . ." She was stopped when Cortana raised a hand to quiet her. Daxia climbed out of the Banshee and walked towards the display panel Cortana was concentrating on.
"Remind me to never let him forget me again." She said, folding her arms and shaking her head. "A soldier, though super intelligent and super strong, even without that goddamn MJOLNIR armour, is nevertheless, a soldier." She sighed and brought up a map of the Chief's progress for Daxia to stare open mouthed at.
"He's alive?" She asked. Cortana nodded.
"Yes. He's rather difficult to kill, although that might not be beneficial right now." She said. She turned to focus on Daxia. "He's going to activate Halo when he gets the Index with that 343 Guilty Spark."
"Who now?"
"The Blue orb, it's an AI. But I'll be damned if I let them. If you activate Halo, it will destroy the galaxy, thus destroying the Flood."
"That's not a weapon then . . ." Daxia said, walking forward and watching as the MC rose another level in the complex he was in. Cortana shook her head.
"It is a weapon, just not in the sense that John was hoping for."
"The MC's name is John?"
"Yes." Cortana chuckled. She sighed, sounding a little happier than before. "How are you? I'm surprised you survived through one of John's little 'escapades'."
"I'm fine. Those creatures are horrible, but I was very brave." She said self mockingly. Cortana smiled at her.
"Why did you come here?"
"I thought the MC was dead - I knew you were here, the MC didn't tell anyone else."
"Well thanks. Here he comes, we'd better hide."
"Don't worry about me." Daxia pulled herself into the Banshee and hid under the bridge.
"Wait for my cue . . ." Cortana told her, before her image shrank away. The sound of shrill laughter heralded 343 Guilty Spark and the MC.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Cortana's signal was to loom ominously in front of the MC and 343 Guilty Spark. She ranted for a few moments, catching the chief up on a few facts. Daxia could hear even from inside the banshee under the bridge. She concentrated on what the MC was saying, and not on her radar.
"But if that is your decision. I'll just have to destroy you." 343 Guilty Spark was saying, his high pitched voice becoming inaudible over the hum of the lasers that started up around them.
"Get us out of here." Cortana hissed, once again safe inside the Chief's head. The MC suppressed the retort that sprang to mind and levelled his gun. He backed up to the control deck, unsure quite how to proceed. An eerie whine beneath him announced the start up of a banshee.
Great. This too?
The banshee rose from beneath them, it's purple hull heavily scored with laser blasts. It towered above him then turned in a slow circle and let fire with some heavy duty blasts from the plasma cannon attached to it's nose. It landed with the laser mites crashed and the cockpit opened.

"Hey - don't shoot." Daxia said, grinning at him, her hands raised in front of her. She removed her helmet and scrubbed at her short blonde hair, some crusted blood falling away from it.
"Man, war is ugly." She said, putting the helmet back on and walking towards him. "How did you get here?" She asked.
"It's a type on instant transportation, similar to grav. lifts." Cortana's voice emitted from the Chief's helmet. "It uses natural energy from Halo to reconfigure molecules, then it uses the electrical systems to transport the molecules, and then Halo's own energry again to reconfigure them at the other end." Cortana finished, sounding smug. "I was analysing it while John was off galavanting."
"Hey!"
"It's untraceable because it uses Halo's own systems."
"So 343 Guilty Spark wouldn't know if we used it?"
"I don't think so." Cortana replied. "But it would take me an hour at least to work out how to use it. In the mean time we should destroy the generators on Halo, then we're buying some time."
"Right - lets do that." Said the MC, heading for the door. Daxia grabbed his arm and walked over to the control panels.
"Hold on there soldier." She murmured, staring at the panels thoughtfully. "Destroying the generators . . . you could do that by a power surge."
"Yes. John's armour should do the trick." Cortana said.
"Or . . ." Daxia pulled up a few diagrams on the screen. "If we created a power surge in Halo."
"How would you do that?" The Chief asked. Daxia shrugged nonchalantly.
"Cortana just said it, if we use Halo's own systems against it."
"I didn't say that." Cortana protested.
"No? Well I wasn't listening. You see, I imagine Halo's pretty much operated by one big computer." Daxia said.
"Who isn't?" The MC asked, tapping his helmet pointedly.
"No - I mean Halo is pretty much automated, Guilty Spark is only to take care of the Flood. Half a ship's systems are automated, we use things called 'Black Boxes' to record every electrical impulse that's sent through a ships systems."
"That's right." Cortana said. "They can be recovered in an accident to find out what happened. You see, every system has a seperate black box, then you'll have another black box that moniters a cluster of lower level boxes. Then another, higher level black box, to moniter a bunch of those ones. That way, if I need to find out something about the ship and it's not in conventional records, I can go to a black box. It's takes longer, but it's the real deal."
"A Pelican alone has about fifty central black boxes. Halo will have millions." Daxia said, her fingers still working at the control panel.
"Assuming her technology uses them." The MC said, glancing warily at the blast door behind them, the noises were of someone trying to cut through.
"It will. If I set just one of the boxes out of alignment then the monitor of an upper level black box will try and compensate. Enough of a misalignment and we should cause one helluva power surge."
"How do you know all this?" The MC asked. Daxia gave him a dry look.
"I'm a mechanic John. That's what a degree is. You know things." The corners of her mouth twitched when she found what she was looking for.
"Let's hope it works." John muttered, looking to the door. It was beginning to heat up, the Covenant were breaking in with lasers.
"It's all right. I know how to work the transportation now." Cortana reassured him quietly.
"Got it! Surge in five - four - three."
"Grab hold of something." Cortana called cheerfully. The MC did so, grabbing Daxia as the familiar golden circles appeared in his line of vision. The last thing he saw was the control room going red.
"Power surge."

***

"Where have you taken us exactly?" The chief asked when he picked himself off of the floor, it looked like a Covenant cruiser.
"This cruiser couldn't leave with the others. Now the Covenant are trying to destroy it so no Flood get off Halo." Cortana announced.
"Gee - I gotta love 'em. They're just so thoughtful." Daxia said sarcastically, dusting herself off.
"The captain's neural transmitter is transmitting from here." Cortana continued. "We have to rescue him, he knows the location of Earth - if the Covenant find out . . ." She trailed off, sounding panicked.
"They won't." The MC told her. He nodded to Daxia. "Stick close. This is going to be hellish."
"It's never been nice." Daxia replied.





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