The Longsword[H & R 3]
Posted By: Jillybean<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 22 August 2003, 3:42 PM
Halos and Rings
They reached a hanger bay by the skin of their teeth - any ideas of avoiding the Covenant and Flood were soon perished at the sight of the Hanger. It was a Battle Royale, one Daxia didn't think she had any place in.
"Follow me." The chief grunted, running along the sides of the walls. Daxia did, trying to pretend that no one was actually shooting at her. The strange clicking and clacking of Flood spore filled her ears and a sharp, blinding sting on her left leg told her she had been glanced by a Needler.
If they survived this there would be endless psychological repercussions. A detatched portion of her mind thought. After all, they had all witnessed something so completely alien that it couldn't even be rationalized. She wanted to pretend that none of it was happening and she was doing pretty well considering. The chief stopped at a bunch of crates and she had a moment to register the fact they were surrounded. He shoved her roughly between the crates, blocking her with his body and firing. She grimaced and turned, covering his back with pistol fire. A little away from her sat a plasma rifle, next to it's dead elite. The Flood were coming closer and the chief sounded like he was struggling. She leapt forward, rolling as she grabbed the rifle. Emerging into a crouch she shot at everything coming at her, hitting most of them. The rifle started to overheat and she ceased firing, ducking back into the meagre shelter the crates offered.
"Come on!" The chief yelled, grabbing her shoulder and starting to run for a large bay door. She stumbled at first, but found her footing. They kept going, though a blast from a grenade caused them both to fall to their knees.
"Move!" Daxia grunted, to no one in particular. The chief was already on his feet as she struggled to comprehend why she was suddenly on the ground. Crawling at first she managed to get to her feet, making it to the bay doors in time. The chief hit the controls and they slammed shut on the battle behind them.
She wanted to breathe, but her chest had iron bands around it. The chief was moving already, the smell of fire and burning rubber was driving him forward. It was simply choking Daxia.
"Here come more of them." The chief murmured as they heard the Flood spore approaching.
"The Captain's signal is just down this corridor." Cortanna spoke to them both. Daxia grimaced, 'just down this corridor' was exactly where all the Flood were.
"Time to go." The chief spoke calmly, starting to walk forward.
"Wait-" Daxia hesitated, looking down the other side of the corridor. There seemed to be a pattern in the Covenant ship - she was pretty sure that going the other way would lead them around to the next big room. "This way." She said, the chief followed her without hesitation, stepping in front to aim better.
They punched their way through a wall of Flood and reached the big control room on the other side. Cortana said something about the Captain's signal being strong but Daxia was a little more concerned with preserving her own life at that moment. She ran away from the Flood and Covenant that had besieged the chief and up to the control panels. She hid behind an organic mass, picking off the Flood from her vantage point with her rifle.
"That's the last of them." The chief announced with some pride as he shot the last Flood to smithereens. "Now, where's the captain?"
But Daxia had found him. Swallowing deeply she stepped backwards from the organic mass. Had she thought her chest was tight before? Now she dropped to the ground, completely unable to breathe. The chief gasped, retreating a good few steps as he saw the captain's face, melted into the green flesh of the pod. Cortana said something that Daxia didn't register. The chief seemed to come to a decision. He plunged his hand into the pod, ripping out the neural transmitter. The pod twitched, it's death throes were only tremors along it's mutated body. The chief crushed the neural transmitter under his boot.
The metal splintered in front of Daxia's eyes and it broke the spell. Her body took one huge quivering breath, another breath and she managed one sob for her dead captain. The chief crouched beside her.
"We have to go Daxia." He whispered. She nodded, blinking and allowing him to help her to stand. She leaned for a second on him, feeling dizzy, hot and cold all at the same time.
"We really have to go chief." Cortana said. He started moving, gripping the shotgun in his hands tightly. They began the old rigamarole of forcing their way through the Flood.
The hangar bay battle was starting to tilt in favour of the Flood. They were everywhere, but they were also impossible to shoot. Maybe being on the winning side spurred them on, but a missing limb was no longer a deterrant. Daxia cried out as one long tentacle sent her flying across the hangar. The chief spun, shooting at the creature, trying to get to Daxia at the same time.
A long, pained whine announced the start of a Banshee and suddenly two laser blasts knocked the Flood out. He glanced back, seeing the Banshee hovering just in front of him.
"Get in!" Daxia called from her cockpit. Though he was a little startled at her recovery he climbed into the cockpit, lying beside her as she drove them out into Halo's atmosphere.
"You're coming in too low." Cortana said to him as he took them the last stretch. "We're not gonna make it!"
"We'll make it." The chief assured her. Daxia glanced at him, a small movement in such confined quarters.
"This thing's falling apart." Cortana pointed out. "Pull up John! Pull up!" The chief's helmet took on a mischievious glint to Daxia's eye and he wrapped one armoured arm around her side. Just a second before the Banshee hit the wall they jumped out.
"You did that on purpose." Cortana huffed as he pulled them into the Pillar of Autumn.
The ship had only been delirict a day or two, three at the most. Yet it looked completely dilapidated. It's mass was poised over a huge canyon in the middle of the desert, Halo rose up around it on either side like some sort of cradle for an injured baby. Daxia felt her heart strings being tugged.
"Flood." The chief said very softly. Sure enough Daxia could hear them.
"There are maintenance tunnels along these corridors." Daxia told him. "I think they might be safer."
"Everything's relative." Cortana muttered. Daxia grinned. The chief shook his helmeted head and put a hand on her shoulder.
"Are you okay?"
"No." Was Daxia's honest reply. "No I'm not. But we'll deal with that later."
When they finally reached the bridge Daxia felt like she was truly home. Some very colourful Covenant characters had joined their battle with and against the Flood, and the chief had discovered stashes of the assault magazines, which kept him happy. On the bridge Daxia found what she liked best - ship controls. She started to access the ships systems as the chief loaded Cortana.
"You leave home for a few days . . ." Cortana trailed off. Daxia flung a grin at the AI over her shoulder.
"The ship's useless." Daxia concluded, pulling away from the panel and shrugging at the chief. "I mean, there's power but apart from that . . ."
"Not completely useless." Cortana corrected. "It can still be used to strike the final blow." She looked to the chief.
"Meaning?" He asked. Cortana glanced at Daxia, knowing the mechanic wouldn't like it.
"The Autumn's self-destruct could trigger a chain reaction in Halo. It could destroy Halo and destroy the Flood."
"You want to destroy the Autumn?" Daxia asked, the chief and Cortana watched her warily. Daxia's initial surge of denial washed away and she was overcome with exhaustion. "Ahh why not." She muttered. "What's one more ship?"
"What we'd need is a couple of big blasts in the exhaust vents. But what would cause such an blast?" Cortana asked. The chief tossed a grenade in his hand.
"I'll think of something."
"Neanderthal." Daxia retorted.
"Well we can't all be AI's." Cortana mused. The whine of a cutting laser interrupted them, soon followed by 343 Guilty Spark's high pitched laugh.
"Time to go!" Daxia cried as the chief pulled Cortana from the Autumn and started back through the ship.
"You know this deck well?" The chief asked as they broke into engineering. Daxia nodded her head, well she knew it vaguely anyway. She led him up the back staircases to the upper levels.
"You can open the vents from here." She told him. He nodded.
"You do it. I'll make things go boom."
"Yessir." She rolled her eyes, opening the port. The chief leapt from the platfrom, turning to fling a grenade inside the fired orange exhaust port. The ship rocked with an explosion and again Daxia found herself on her knees. She made for the next vent control, out of the corner of her eye she saw the chief leap to the next port. She opened the vent and the chief set it burning.
"You'll have to go down and up the next side!" Daxia called to him, cocking her shot gun. "I'll meet you there!"
She started down the corridors, hoping that if she went fast the Flood wouldn't get a chance at her. No. Such. Luck.
"Damn." She clattered to a stop as she saw the Flood barring her way. She levelled the shot gun at him, firing repeatedly. The Flood jerked each time a shot hit him, but did not stop. He kept taking resilient steps towards her. She grunted, flinging the empty gun at him. It bounced off, falling down the side of the stair case.
"Damn damn damn." She looked down the gap between the wall and the flight of steps. It was going to hurt to fall that far - but her other option was being Floodified.
There was no option really.
She dropped the length, absurdly pleased at the Flood's confused roar. She hit the ground painfully and things cracked. She wailed as she tried to put weight on her left leg, it just would not support her. Limping, she struggled for the door, pulling out her pistol as she went.
It was terrifying to have to move as fast as she physically could and know the chief was on the other side of the deck. But fear gave her the strength to ignore the pain and she reached the next vent control, putting both hands on her pistol to shoot the grunt clean away. She tapped into the controls, breathing in relief as the chief flung himself onto the port. He shot a rocket at the exhaust port and jumped to the final one.
Daxia opened the port, sinking to her knees beside the panel. The fourth and final explosion rocked the ship, breaking deck plates and sending entire sections caving in on itself. The chief was by her side, lifting her by the arm.
"Come on Daxia." He insisted, dragging her to a elevator. She let herself be dragged, falling to the floor of the elevator pad as soon as they started heading up.
"We get to the top of the ship and then Foehammer will pick us up." The chief was saying to her, kneeling beside her. He shook her shoulder and she whimpered a little. The pain blurred her eyesight. "Lieutenant Ring. You will accompany me off this ship." He shouted at her.
The elevator shuddered to a stop, causing the MC to swear. Daxia shut her eyes, enjoying the cool metal under her face.
"We'll have to take the long way." Cortana worried. The MC grabbed Daxia's arm and lifted her easily over his shoulder, taking her through to a hanger bay. A power line exploded and sent a Warthog bouncing along her field of vision. The memory of her first encounter with the chief flickered in her head and she stirred.
"Urr - you need me." She grunted, wriggling on his shoulder. He dropped her into the passenger seat, reversing out. "No!" She said, shaking herself awake. "John I'm the better driver."
"Daxia you can hardly walk." Was the MC's reply as they went spinning into a wall.
"Go be a gunner." Daxia pushed him out of the drivers seat, settling into the Hog's controls like it was made for her. The Hog purred under her hand and they went flying.
The spine of the Autumn led the whole way along the ship, leading them upwards. Daxia pulled the most incredible stunts manouvering them around bulkheads and bridges. Under one or over the next, it made no difference. She took each obstacle as it came and left the Flood to the MC. The finally reached the long curving corridors that led them upwards. The Hog flew over the crests and it was only the MC's weight in the back that made them land on their back axle, bounce and continue driving.
"Stop here! Foehammer's picking us up." Cortana called as they reached a bridge spanning two large compartments. The MC paused in his gunning.
"Foehammer doesn't look too good." He murmured. Daxia looked at the smoking Pelican.
"I'm hit! I'm hit!" Foehammer was yelling, with a sinking certainty Daxia started the Hog again, pelting down the track as Foehammer crashed into oblivion.
"Foehammer . . ." Cortana was shocked, but Daxia was beyond the emotion. Now there was her, the Hog and the road. "There's a gap up ahead. You'll need to pick up speed." Cortana managed to say. Daxia put her foot down, grinding the pedal into the floor of the Hog. They went sailing over the chasm, landing on the next compartment. Daxia veered a hard right around a bulkhead and swung them around again to avoid a fallen support strut.
"There's one Longsword left in the bay." Cortana told them, the MC started firing at the Flood ahead of them. Daxia was flung forward as the Hog hit a fallen strut and she rolled onto the hood. The MC was beside her instantly.
"We don't have the time!" He called.
"Leave me!" Daxia muttered, the Hog was past it's useful life span. So was she. Redundant equipment, she needed to be left behind. The world around her moved as the MC flung her over one shoulder and started running. Flood, Covenant, ship - all these things passed her by in a lazy spiral. The spiral was brought to an end abruptly as she hit the deck of the Longsword. The MC slammed the door shut and made for the cockpit. She rose groggily, her head clearing as she saw them lift out of the Autumn's bay and into the Halo atmosphere one last time. She pulled herself to a seat, her eyes fixed on the retreating world below them as it ignited into a barren waste-land. Then, finally, it shattered into a million pieces.
"They're gone." Cortana whispered. "All of them. We're the only survivors."
"We got a long way to go." The chief replied, taking off his helmet. He turned to look at Daxia and she tilted her head to the side.
"I always thought you'd be . . . ." She began.
"Another helmet?" He asked, blue eyes sparkling.
"Older." Daxia replied, taking her helmet off too. Her head pulsed. "And with brown eyes."
"Sorry to disappoint." The chief pushed Cortana's chip into the Longswords computer and then turned back to Daxia, but she was sleeping at last, her head resting against the pillowed co-pilots chair. The chief smiled a little and let Cortana handle the Longsword. He stood and felt his muscles creaking. Slowly he went for the first aid kit and begun the clean up.