Reclaim Me . . . [H&R 7]
Posted By: Jillybean<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 18 September 2003, 5:58 PM
Halo's and Rings
Reclaim Me Oh Reclaimer My Warranty Is Void
"Master Chief?" A young soldier interrupted the Chief's light sleep like a mouse would wake a sleeping lion. "Uh - we've reached the Jupiter Moons. Captain Margrave wants you on the Bridge." He said. John nodded, rubbing his head and catching his hand on a thin metal line in his skull. He grimaced and pulled his helmet on, reattaching his gloves and sealing the armour.
"Did your half hours nap do you any good at all?" Cortana asked darkly. The Chief grinned.
"It did actually, yourself?"
"Oh yeah. 34 minutes of nothing really got me going." Cortana said sarcastically. "You could have survived without the rest you know."
"Yeah but then I would have had to think." The Chief replied mysteriously reaching the Bridge.
"Ah - John." Margrave turned. He gestured to Jupiter's moons below him. "Do your thing." He said.
"Yes sir." The Chief said, turning from him and wishing the captain had just let him go straight from crew quarters to the drop ships.
"Let's give 'em Hell Chief!" Cortana said enthusiastically as he flung himself into the nearest Pelican. The marines clustered in with him, cheering themselves on. The Chief took a deep breath, wishing he didn't need to sit through another bunch of young men wanting to go out and 'Fight For Her'. Yet, it was the blood of young men that kept Earth and humanity safe. He didn't have any choice - the death of the Covenant were the only thing that would save them.
Daxia jogged through the Kheezheekoni, reaching her docking bay. She grinned at the marines suiting up outside her Pelican and jumped up, grabbing the frame of the Pelican door and swinging in to the cockpit. Her co-pilot entered beside her, checking his controls.
"Pre-flight systems check." He said. Daxia nodded, jamming her helmet on and flicking a line of switches in front of her, she eased the engines on and double checked the atmospheric shield on the Pelican.
"Okay Marines!" She called over her shoulder. "The time is 06:00 hours and this is your Captain speaking. In your all inclusive Jupiter Moon Colony package you can expect a fun filled day of field sports, including Hunt the Grunt, Eliminate the Elite and Jack those Jackals." She grinned as she saw the Marines loosen up. Her co-pilot gave her a half-hearted grin and she stepped up the charade as they were given the clearance to go.
"Our in-flight movie today is the Amazing Evasive, if you look closely you'll see cameo's from our very own Kheezheekoni. In case of emergency the Emergency Exits are blocked by an atmospheric forcefield. If we start crash put your head between you knees and kiss your ass goodbye. We do expect some Covenant induced turbulence on the way in so you might find it better to strap yourselves securely into your seats."
Daxia had to stop talking to manoeuvre the clunky Pelican through the moon's stratosphere and past some hasty Covenant defences. She saw a large crevice open out into a rocky cliff that faced an abandoned town.
"Hey Sarge." She called. "That work for you?"
"Yup." The Sergeant called back. Daxia hovered above some rocks then touched down, letting the Marines get out.
"Calling Anduril, Anduril come in." A male voice said over the radio, the instrumentation on the Pelican said it was Fiveson, the AI on the Red Dawn.
"This is Anduril, we hear you loud and clear Fiveson." She said.
"We need a drop ship in this area now Anduril!"
"Anduril, Anduril, come in Anduril." The AI of the Shadow Chaser came in. "We need transport."
Daxia glanced at her co-pilot. "Which one's closer?" She asked.
"Uh - the crew Fiveson called in." He said, looking a little flustered.
"Sorry Shadow Chaser, we have a previous engagement, will try and get round to you." Daxia called.
"Calling any drop-ships in the area, repeat, calling any drop-ships in the area . . ." A new voice said.
"Monitoring all these transmissions makes it difficult to think!" Cortana exclaimed as the Master Chief took shelter in a house from an Elite. He glanced at his shot-gun and grimaced, he had no more bullets. His plasma pistol was far too weak to break through the Elite's armour and he had no grenades. He prepared himself as the Elite stepped through the door. The Chief launched himself upwards, driving his fist into the Elite's jaw and then bringing the butt of his shotgun onto the fragile cranium. He stooped and picked the plasma rifle up, discarding his plasma pistol.
"Sorry Cortana, I was busy. You were saying?"
"Very funny." Cortana said.
"Chief - this area has been secured." Cortana said. "We should head up that ridge there and prepare to take on the last settlement."
"What's the damage elsewhere?" The Chief asked as he picked up a steady pace up the rocky ridge. Cortana hesitated a little.
"The other AI's report major damages. Almost a third of our troops have been decimated, the remainder seem to have found places to survive in. All the fighting has slowed down, now it's a siege."
"Then lets invade."
"I want coffee." Harry, Daxia's co-pilot said. Daxia grinned and backed the Pelican against a cliff to pick up the injured soldiers and drop them off to the infirmary that had been established on Loose Canyon.
"Welcome Ladies and Gentlemen." She said. "It's 20:58 and we are currently on our way to the fabulous five star health spa on Loose Canyon." She had kept up her charade for the whole day, she was becoming famous for it.
"Anduril come in, are you busy?" Dotty, the AI synchronizing the troops on this side asked.
"We have a package Dotty." Daxia replied. "If you can wait twenty minutes I can get round to it."
"That'll be too late. Thanks anyway." Dotty signed off, calling the next drop-ship.
"Calling all UNSC forces! Calling all UNSC forces in the area! We are in need of desperate assistance!" Cortana's voice suddenly screeched through the radios. "Underground . . . . . . UNS- . . . . . . Covenant forces! All available . . . . . . Makers Ridge."
"Say again Cortana, you're breaking up." Mitra called, the AI responsible for co-ordinating the AI's with the orbiting battle cruisers.
". . . akers Ridge! Reinforcements! Send Rein- . . . . Can anyone hear me?"
"We read you Cortana." Mitra insisted. "Reinforcements on the way."
Daxia increased the speed of the Pelican, racing for Loose Canyon.
The Chief was flung against the bulkhead, hit by a vicious punch from a Hunter. The large blue spiked monstrosity roared in delight and raised it's shield one last time to bring it down onto the Chief's bruised and battered body.
The Chief kicked his legs in the air, using a quick headstand against the wall to evade the Hunter. He dropped to the ground and crawled away as the Hunter struggled to pull his shield out of the concrete it had been embedded in. The Chief found a plasma pistol and overloaded it, sticking into the vulnerable orange spots. The Hunter died with an anguished roar.
"Yo Chief - you in here?" A marine called, running into the underground bunker. They stopped and stared at the carnage in front of them.
"What in the name of fuck is that?" Asked a private, poking a large dead Covenant with his gun. The Chief sighed deeply.
"A Brute." He said. "There were five of them." He winced, trying to breathe without hurting.
"And about twenty Hunters. Jeez Louise!" A female marine exclaimed. "You did all this yourself?" She whistled when the Chief managed to nod.
"Hey what's this?" Asked a marine, coming across a small case. "Were they guarding this?"
"DON'T TOUCH IT!" Cortana and the Chief bellowed at the same time. The Chief made a lunge for the crate but was brought up short by a stabbing pain in his side. The last blow from the Hunter had bent the armour into his ribcage. Moving was painful.
"What is it?" The female marine asked again, staring at the small squid like thing sitting in a vacuum.
"A Spore." Cortana said and the female marine drew back sharply.
"A Flood Spore?" She asked. "Jesus christ, they're real."
"Of course they're real." Cortana muttered. "Calling any drop-ships in the area, we need a transport."
"This is Anduril." A well loved voice said. "I'm approaching the compound, is it secure?"
"That depends, what do you define as secure nowadays?" Cortana asked cheerfully. Daxia laughed over the radio.
"I'll take that as a 'yes' Cortana. You two okay?"
"All the better for hearing you Daxia." Cortana replied.
"Is that thing coming with us?" The female marine asked as the Spartan lifted the crate.
"For research purposes." Cortana clarified. The marines escorted the Chief out of the compound, finishing off the last few Grunts and Jackals. A large Chimera class shuttle hovered by them, capable of escorting troops between planets.
"Look what we found." Cortana said as John limped into the small hold that would carry the marines. The co-pilot stepped out of the cockpit and made a disgusted noise.
"Daxia you should see this!" He said. "No wonder Mitra transferred us to a Chimera, we need to get this to a research vessel. Really Daxia - you should look at this!"
"I think I've probably seen it." Daxia said, glancing up as John eased himself into the cockpit. He sat in the chair behind her, his helmet obscuring his pained expression.
"You'd be right." He said, Daxia concentrated on flying them past a few Covenant patrols.
In the Shadow Chaser's docking bays Daxia landed the Chimera class shuttle and watched the marines unload. The Master Chief was leaning by the gangplank, whether he was too tired or physically unable to support his own weight Daxia didn't know. She didn't want to find out.
"Captain Margrave." She acknowledged as the captain strode up to them.
"Ensign Ring." He nodded. "Take the Chimera to the UNSC science ship orbiting Venus, the Prophet is being transferred there as we speak. Take the Master Chief and the Flood Spore."
"Aye aye sir." Daxia said, relieved that she was in charge of the Flood Spore, she didn't want someone who didn't know what they were dealing with in charge.
"Marines!" Margrave shouted, turning to them. "You three." He said, pointing to Annie and two others. "Accompany the Chief and Ensign Ring, guard that spore with your life. We need to know all we can about the Flood." He turned back to Ring and winked.
"Look after the Chief for us Ring, you're in charge." He said, marching off. Daxia sighed and took a deep breath, turning to face the marines.
"Load up. We're going now, Harry start the pre-flight and get us a flight clearance from Mitra."
"Aye sir." Harry said, returning to the cock-pit. Daxia hesitated as she got to the Chief.
"You okay?" She asked, seeing him climb gingerly back into the Chimera.
"I'll live." He said, which didn't really answer her question. She noticed Annie watching her curiously and found time to be all business again.
"Cortana, how many Covenant patrols in the area?"
"A few, most are engaged in the moon system." Cortana replied. "Once we get past the asteroid belt we'll have relatively clear sailing."
"Huh." Daxia snorted, securing herself into the pilots seat and taking the Chimera out. "Everything's relative nowadays."
The UNSC science vessel, the Fukayna was like a fortress. Her hull plating could withstand extreme proximity's to super-nova's, her laboratories were top class, she had shields that could deflect asteroids - and like all other science vessels she was resigned to circling the sun, hiding from the Covenant cruisers. The Fukayna could not fight the Covenant so she was ultimately rendered useless.
Everything for humanity was focussed on the fight for survival.
"Fukayna, this is Anduril, requesting approach." Harry said as they matched orbiting height.
"Anduril this is Fukayna, good to hear you. Approach granted. Continue on this vector." The radio replied.
"Daxia can you handle the Spore once we get there?" Cortana asked, her artificial voice laden with worry. "I think we'll be heading to the infirmary."
"Cortana-" The Chief began to grunt.
"Oi!" Daxia snapped. "Listen to the AI Chief, get to the infirmary. The marines and I can handle a frozen Spore." The Chief did not reply.
They landed and were besieged by scientists, Daxia fended them off and ordered the marines to carry the Spore to the labs.
"So what is it we have here?" Asked a wiry little scientist once the case was left in his lab. Daxia took a deep breath, wishing Cortana was around to help her explain.
"This is the Flood in it's spore, or infectious, form. These little buggers infect a host, implanting themselves into the nervous system, as far as I can tell." She indicated the long feelers. "Once it's seized control of the host then it starts to . . . evolve . . . for the lack of a better word. If the body is not suitable for fighting, or if there is a shortage of spores, then the host will become a Carrier. It's upper torso swell as the growing Flood spore eat all that's there, including brain matter. Then when they're ready the spore explode out of their host, looking for a new one. If the host is suitable as a warrior, then it becomes a monstrous fighting machine."
"Interesting." The scientist said. "I'm Dr Kings, pleased to meet you." He said absently, looking the Spore up and down. "I believe this Spore is damaged, see these striations? It's been dissected."
"What? Impossible - the Covenant are scared of these creatures, like Christians fear God's wrath." Daxia exclaimed.
"Yes but it has definitely been dissected and these marks are consistent with plasma scoring."
"Is it still alive?" Daxia asked. The Dr nodded.
"Yes I believe it is."
"Then be very, very careful." Daxia instructed, leaving the lab.
"Annie." She said as she found the three marines waiting outside. "I want you guys to watch that thing and those scientists like a hawk. If it moves, if it looks like it's going to move - if they're going to make it move - you must kill it." She said. They nodded.
"Where are you going?" Annie asked.
"To find the Chief." Daxia replied.
The Doctors removed John's armour with care boarding on reverence. They had to pry his chest plate off, one doctor exclaimed over the mass of bruising on his rib cage. From where Cortana sat in a holo-emitter, the AI emitted a low whistle.
"Nice bruising, Chief." She teased. "The way you were going on I thought you were on the brink of death or something." She stopped when his arm was revealed to be bleeding profusely from a piece of shrapnel. His mechanically enhanced joints had kept him going, but the Doctors tutted unhappily, cleaning him up. The Spartan sat on the thin hospital bed, allowing the doctors to do their work. He hadn't hurt this much since the mission to the Destroyer class Pioneer.
"Ouch." Was Daxia's first words as she entered, the Doctors looked at her, tempted to forbid her from entering.
"Daxia, how did it go with the spore?" Cortana welcomed, her tone just daring anyone to try and send Daxia away. The woman approached the AI, unable to take her eyes off of John's injuries.
"Uh - the marines are under orders to kill it if it tries anything. I don't think the scientists will be pleased, but there we go."
"Scientists." John grunted, wincing as a doctor moved his bad arm. "They never think about the consequences."
"That looks really bad." Daxia winced for him as she saw the mechanical implants exposed along with bones and tendons. John glanced down at the wound, he didn't think it was that bad.
"Daxia." Cortana interrupted. "The commander wants you in the brig, they have the Prophet, how did that go anyway?"
"Uh - you'd better come with me Cortana." Daxia said.
As soon as the Prophet saw Daxia enter he collapsed on the floor again. There was an Elite, a Jackal, a Grunt and a severely sedated Hunter in the place as well. When they realized what the Prophet was doing they lay flat out on the floor.
"Give us the word, oh Preserver." The Prophet was saying. "And we shall destroy these defouling humans!"
"I'd like to see you try." Cortana spat. Daxia approached the cell bars, aware of the forcefield fluttering just beyond them.
"Prophet." She instructed. "How do you intend to destroy these defouling humans?"
"By your own creation oh Preserver. As you and your kind have done before - you created the Halo's to preserve the creations! It is as it has always been, the Reclaimer will purge the galaxy with the creations and the Preserver shall save those who are worthy! Our Gods have decreed this, Forerunner."
"He thinks you and John are Forerunners?" Cortana asked, suddenly something changed in the AI's face.
"What?" Daxia asked, sensing the AI's distress.
"Something makes sense, 'as you and your kind have done before'. 343 Guilty Spark seemed to act like John had activated Halo before." The AI slapped a palm to her forehead. "Unh! I've been so stupid! How could I not have realized!"
"Realized what Cortana?" Daxia asked, the AI shook her head.
"I need to take some processing time." She said, looking up at Daxia. "I am so sorry." She added in a whisper, disappearing. Daxia glanced at the guards, all of whom were looking a little edgy.
"Hey. Where's Cortana?" John asked as she came back into the infirmary. Daxia shook her head, hopping onto the next bed down. John was still sitting, his arm strapped up now and there was wire attached to a metal interface on the back of his skull, feeding data into some display.
"She said she needed processing time. The Prophet called me the Preserver and it freaked her out." She said, taking off her helmet for the first time. She ran a hand through her short blonde hair, thinking about Cortana's unnerving exit.
"So - you're an ensign now?" John asked, Daxia grinned.
"Brawling in the corridors. Not a good idea on Agata's ship."
"Brawling." John repeated, almost looking proud. He was quite for a moment before asking: "Did you win?"
"Of course." Daxia pretended to be insulted.
"Ensign Ring!" Annie ran into the infirmary. "The Scientists thawed out the Spore- it escaped."
"Shit!" Daxia leapt to her feet, grabbing her helmet. She looked around, wondering where all the guns were - they were at war goddamnitt!
"Do you hear that?" John asked, standing beside her, Daxia hesitated, but could hear little above her racing pulse and heavy breathing. Annie tried to speak up but she and the other Doctors were hushed by the Chief.
John turned slowly, looking around, Daxia took Annie's standard issue pistol from her, loading it slowly and handing it to John. He took it in his left hand, looking down on her. He nodded to the middle of the floor, and then to her. With a rising feeling of dread Daxia took the bait position as John hustled the others to the edge of the room.
She heard it now alright, the clicking and clacking of a Flood Spore. It was so noisy or echoey as it had been on Halo, which made her think there wasn't as many. The noise stopped for a second and John crouched, pointing the pistol at a bench. Daxia exhaled slowly, extending her hand to the Spore. It was tempted by the presence of live flesh, she could tell. She wondered, in a moment of abstract pondering, if it could smell her. It crept out like a feral cat, or a bird tempted forward by a crumb of bread.
Just as it reached her it exploded and Daxia jerked backwards. John spun the pistol in his hand, giving it back to Annie. Daxia leaned over to inspect the Spore and sighed in relief.
"It's the original Spore, it didn't get a chance to breed." She said, feeling John's uninjured hand rest on her shoulder.
"Thank heaven for little miracles." He said.
"That thing is freaky." Annie murmured, calling in her radio to stand down the alert. John helped Daxia to stand, turning to the Doctors.
"Spartan-117." One of the doctors reprimanded. "I'm going to have to look at your bandages now." Sure enough, John had re-opened some of his wounds. Annie poked the Spore with her boot and looked at Daxia.
"Did one of these kill my friends on the Autumn?" She asked. Daxia shrugged.
"I hope not." She said, taking her helmet off again. The adrenaline was coursing through her, she needed to do something now or she'd explode from the tension.
"Coming to the mess hall with us?" Annie asked, Daxia glanced back at the Chief, feeling sorry for him.
"No." She said. "I'm staying here."
"You don't need to stay you know." John said after the doctors had finished with him and the scientists had cleared away the Spore's corpse. Daxia smiled at him, starting to work on his armour.
"Doesn't it ever get lonely inside this suit?" She asked. "I figure you need to talk more."
"Cortana talks enough for both of us." John lay down gingerly. "And people get nervous around a Spartan."
"Hey - you're Gods gift to man kind." Daxia grinned. "My sister's failing a course at college about the Spartan project. There are posters all over earth singing your praises. You guys were our last hope." She smiled as John grimaced. "They're nervous because they have to meet their heroes."
"Cybernetic implants and a lower than average IQ." John said, shutting his eyes. "Some hero."
"Just because you're a soldier doesn't mean you're stupid." Daxia told him, prying a piece of shrapnel from a bunch of wiring in the armour. "It just means you're somewhat barbaric - as Cortana would say."
"Do you know how many Spartans died after the cybernetic enhancements?" John asked quietly.
"I didn't know any did." Daxia replied.
"31. 12 more were permanently disabled. There were only 32 successful adaptations. That's barbaric."
"Is it?" Daxia asked after five minutes of silence. John opened his eyes and looked at her. Daxia smiled ruefully at him. "You know that Private we found right before the Flood? He was my sisters husband. We were losing this war before we found the Flood - we were desperate. Maybe what they did bordered on . . . prophetic."
"You're starting to sound like a Covenant." The Spartan sat slowly, taking a good look at her and the armour that was scattered around her. He was struck by how battle-worn she looked, there was grime under the collar of her army-issue tank top and jacket. Her hands did not use a tool, they wielded it - ready to make into a weapon if she had to. Her blonde hair was forced off of her face, cut short and messy, if it grew out it would be a beautiful golden mane, but she didn't have the time to care for it. There was the stain of Covenant blood on her jacket and what was probably human blood too. In a line of soldiers she didn't look out of place, in the clean infirmary she looked like a killer.
"What?" She asked, glancing behind her to see if someone was sneaking up. "What were you gawking at?"
"Nothing." John sat up, smiling a little. Daxia raised an eyebrow.
"Maybe you hit your head harder than you thought, you were staring at nothing?" She asked, she hopped off the bed she was sitting on, relinquishing the MJOLNIR armour. She stepped closer to him, pretending to be concerned and checking for injury. "Is our big bad Spartan going crazy?"
"Maybe I was just being barbaric, thinking about how best to incapacitate a human." He leaned back a little, disconcerted at how close she'd gotten.
"I can think of far more barbaric things - things Cortana would not approve of at all . . ." Daxia raised her head, standing on tip-toes. The Chief leaned down suddenly so his face was barely a hairsbreadth from hers. His uninjured hand snapped out and caught her right one, pinning it behind her back and pulling her up to his lips.
It was breath-takingly scary at first to be kissed by a Spartan, the smell of antiseptic and heavily exercised bodies overwhelmed her. She was immobilized by his arm at her back, held up off the floor. However, his almost tentative first kiss, followed by a more desperate pulling at her lips melted her, relaxing her into the strange war-time embrace. She kissed him back just as feverishly as he kissed her.
"Ahem." Cortana interrupted and Daxia panicked. John set her down on the floor and turned to the holographic AI, almost growling his reply.
"Miss me?" Cortana asked, she sounded a little pissed off, a little amused and also a little confused.
"Like a voice in my head." John replied sarcastically.
"Cortana." Daxia stopped what was about to become a battle. "Are you going to clear up your little statement earlier?"
"Not yet." Cortana said darkly. "Pack your books class, we're going on a field trip."
"Where to?" John asked.