The Last Assault [H&R 17]
Posted By: Jillybean<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 2 November 2003, 6:28 PM
Halos and Rings
The Last Assault
The Avalon banked a sharp right and lost control for what was not the first time. She rolled in the sky, catching herself on thruster fumes as she skimmed the Covenant honeycombed buildings. A fifth Phantom hitched on her tail-wind and started firing. This time the Avalon started climbing, barely flexing her muscles on the pink hued sky as she made an almost impossible ascent into the heavens. She looped over on herself and plummeted back down behind the Phantoms firing her forward cannons as she did so.
With the path finally cleared the ODST's started to bombard the city. Feet first into Hell, there was no chance they were going to survive this mission - but they might succeed and in the end that mattered more. They were strips of blue scorching the air as they landed in strategic locations around the Covenant shipyards. The Avalon circled around once then found what she was looking for: the main shipyards. She streaked past and dropped twenty-one killing machines down onto the shipyards below her.
The orbital guns swivelled to target the fast little ship, but she stuck too close to the Covenant property - the military commanders decreed it wasn't worth risk.
Daxia Ring watched the Phantom squadron draw into formation in front of her. The arrowhead of purple ships leered closer. Daxia licked her lips and started to work her magic.
The Chief landed hard on the shell of a Covenant battle cruiser, he rolled and came up on one knee, both assault rifle and pistol aimed at whatever was coming. All the Covenant ground defences were concerned with the incoming attacks from the Longswords however, they almost didn't notice him. He took out the first Elite with a shot to the vulnerable lower back, but the second Elite charged at him. He rolled and slid down the metal side of the ship - endlessly sliding. The Elite roared and leapt after him.
"Chief!" Cortana cried.
He dug his heels in and aimed upwards with both pistol and rifle. He fired both endlessly as Cortana wordlessly adjusted his shields. He stood, perfectly stable on the side of the ship as the mortally wounded Elite slid past him and went spiralling into the air. It roared helplessly, the Chief saluted it with his gun. It was Daxia's influence on him - he was becoming a wiseass.
The Spartan IIIs had all landed by now and dealt with any immediate threats. They had assumed a tactical formation, close enough to perform as a group but still scanning the area for further potential threats. The Chief split them up easily, signing for the first group to head for the large Covenant cruiser being built. The second group had to stay on top and spread out - providing ground support for the ODSTs while the third group was to follow him.
"I'm setting their NAV points now." Cortana told him.
"Move out." The Chief grunted and started forward.
Spartan-1119 aimed the rocket launcher at the structural weak point in the Covenant cruisers hull. The metal bent and creaked but did not rip apart. One of his team-mates moved in and stomped hard on the buckled metal. It broke and they fell through into the bare corridors below. Bereft of any decoration but the wirings that controlled the ship the corridor was somehow given a human quality. Under the skin.
But the Spartan IIIs didn't even think about it. They moved forward, silently, creeping around each corridor, supporting each other in the way they had been taught. They came across two Engineers but eliminated them with clinical efficiency.
Their target was the engines and that eclipsed all else.
He was half way there when the world around him exploded into orange rings. His body registered movement at an incredible speed - but for some reason he couldn't see what was happening.
"Spartan-1119." A strangely tall alien stood before him - one hand was extended outwards. "We must talk. There has been a change in your mission status."
Spartan-1119 raised his plasma rifle, he was about to fire when the alien held the palm upwards in a gesture of peace.
"Security Override. Authorisation Beta Nine Alpha." The alien had given him the code that meant there was to be a mission change. Slowly Spartan-1119 lowered his weapon.
The Chief ran the length of the purple corridor and flung himself to the side of the door. It slid open automatically and the Spartan IIIs following him opened fire on the Elite guards. The Chief ducked and slipped around the door, he backed along the wall, taking out the Elites with better placed shots than the Spartan IIIs wild fire. He tossed a frag grenade at the remaining 'tortoise' of Jackals. It shattered on their shields and the Jackals went flying. The Chief's team cleaned them up with fire from their weapons.
"How're we doing?" He asked Cortana as they made for a spiral staircase. Needler fire rained down from above.
"Our time's okay." Cortana responded. "But we need to start punching through these ground troops. Hold on a minute."
Cortana rearranged her signals and transmitted to the Avalon above. She took a quick look at the Avalon's computer to gauge the extent of damage she had taken.
"Ring, come in." She demanded.
"I'm here Cortana." Daxia said smoothly.
"We need a distraction."
"What did you have in mind?" Daxia asked curiously.
"I'm setting a Nav Point - we need an explosion of reasonable size at that location." Cortana ordered. It was the location of the large generator she and the Chief had passed earlier.
In the mean time a few grenades had ended the problem with the stair case and the Spartans emerged into a circular room. This room was lined with the holo-screens that the Covenant favoured and it was showing that the attack was going badly - for the Covenant at least. Two Hunters moved with surprising speed against the Chief. He dodged - barely - but his shoulder was clipped by one of their shields. He rolled on the floor and came up with his plasma rifle blazing. The Spartan IIIs launched themselves at the Hunters, bringing them down with sheer violence. The Chief turned to finish off the Elite guard and then turned to see the Prophet that was left in the room. It clicked softly.
"More will come foolish human." It growled. The Chief lowered his gaze on the Prophet then lit a plasma grenade. He stuck it to the Prophet and dodged to the side.
"That panel there." Cortana instructed. The Chief steeled himself and removed the chip from his head. He slid it into place and looked up as the holo-screens flickered into Cortana. She smiled at him.
"Now this is interesting." She said softly.
"We don't have much time before more re-inforcements come along." The Chief said. Cortana smiled blissfully.
"It's all been taken care of." She whispered.
The Avalon used some fancy flying to prompt two Phantoms into tailing her. She allowed them to follow her closely and then veered upwards at the last instance. The Forerunner ship was able to escape death on the walls of the Covenant installation - not so the Covenant ships themselves. They ripped a hole in the side of the building and tore right into the generator. That entire section of the building went up in flames.
Cortana blithely re-directed the Covenant troops to that section. They had such faith in their Prophets they did not question her suicidal orders. There was so much in the planetary database. So much knowledge - so many missing links. She absorbed as much as she could, yet barely skimmed the surface. Above her the orbital guns redirected their attention to the Covenant cruisers. With their links to their military commanders disrupted the Covenant were in chaos. Cortana let herself go in the world of data to wreak havoc.
It was with her sensors - or perhaps the glorious taste of victory that was peppered with the rare spice of warning, the sharp bite of surprise - that Cortana recognized the ships approaching.
They were graceful, they were old. So old! She could hear the age that rumbled through them, old like the smell of coal on a winters day. Yet they were strong, she could feel the muscle bound underneath them. They were: Forerunner.
She was almost lost in the databanks, but though it seemed to her an eternity until she sent out her warning on all UNSC channels, it was barely a micro-second. She bathed in their replies and scattered the minuscule Covenant defense around one of the sole remaining orbital guns.
Ah the Covenant were wiser now. They were no longer listening. And there was such a commotion outside the control room. The Spartans were holding it off as best they could but Cortana knew they didn't have long.
She savoured her last moments - then she brought her fist downwards into cyberspace. The Covenant battlenet was completely eliminated.
"Chief!" She shouted and the Chief plucked her chip from the panel and shoved it into the back of his head.
"Cortana - you . . ." He began. "You've grown." He finished with.
"Infinitely." Cortana replied grimly. "We don't have much longer." She added. Just to prove her point the door was pried open by a Brute and the Spartans reopened fire.
"Get me out of here." Cortana ordered. But it was too late, even as the Spartan-IIIs held off the incoming Covenant three orbs blew into the room. There was a blue one, a pink one and a green one. 343 Guilty Spark hummed happily as he saw them.
"Ah. I was hoping to find you here. I'm ah - well. There's been a terrible disaster."
"Indeed." Trilled a higher, feminine voice from the green orb. "The Flood have been allowed to escape."
"Where?" Cortana demanded sharply. The green orb squealed and flew higher.
"Installation 08." 343 Guilty Spark replied huffily.
"Oh no." Cortana gasped. "That was the installation Lara went to."
"Well those marines have all been eliminated." The yellow spark told them flatly.
"The Forerunners have come to collect samples." 343 Guilty Spark informed them. "You have not been declared one of them. You are . . . too specific."
"An unsuitable specimen to show a result of general life in this galaxy." The green spark explained.
"We came for some human specimens." The yellow spark finished. "We must continue our search."
"Cortana-" The Chief began as the orbs left. "What were they-"
"No time." Cortana said shortly. "They're eradicating the galaxy, I've hacked into their network. Oh . . . oh no. They have taken one of the Spartan-IIIs and somehow transported him." Cortana gasped. "It's amazing! They have a transporter network that runs through the entire galaxy! 343 Guilty Spark cannot use it but the Forerunners can! Oh how sneaky! They won't set off the Halos themselves - they'll force a member of this galaxy to do it for them! The bastards!"
The Chief stared at the door, there was no way he could get out of it, there were far too many Covenant prying their way in. The body count on the floor was rising, but the Covenant kept coming.
"Chief. I estimate we have less than five minutes until the Halos are activated by the Spartan-III. You must get us to the surface. NOW!" Cortana yelled in his mind.
The Chief took a deep breath and barrelled forwards.
The Avalon looped up out of the atmosphere and inspected the incoming Forerunner fleet. There were seventeen ships, each built like the Avalon. They seemed to be waiting for something, though Cortana had said in her transmission that they were scanning the surface.
"Well let's see what you do." Daxia said as she sent the Avalon into a roll, back down into the atmosphere. The smallest ship detached from formation and followed her down into Strayforth.
They danced between the flaming buildings and raced to the docks. There the other Forerunner ship opened a channel.
"You have been scanned as a specimen but you are unsuitable. Reason: You are too involved with Forerunner culture." The ship left her alone and returned to the sky.
In front of Daxia a Pelican suddenly dove out of control as if it had lost it's pilot.
"Commander Ring!" Cortana's voice sounded through the radio. "We need evac!"
"I'm on my way Cortana." Daxia announced. The Avalon swept towards the NAV point Cortana had set for her. At the same time the destruction around them seemed to multiply.
"Ring to Cortana, what the Hell's going on down there?"
"The Forerunner's scans are picking up suitable specimens." Cortana replied. "I'll explain later."
"I have you on visual." Daxia said. Standing on the outside of a building, ringed with flame, was the Chief. He flung a grenade down the hold ripped in the building's roof and several Covenant exploded outwards. The Avalon hovered just above him and he leapt for the gangplank.
"Now move it!" Cortana ordered. "We don't have much time."
"Time until what?" Daxia asked as the Chief flung himself into the cockpit. They escaped the dying world and broke out of the atmosphere. "The Forerunners are turning around." She realized.
"They're leaving." The Chief whispered. "It's too dangerous now."
"There's no time." Cortana added.
"I'm rejoining the fleet. We took heavy losses - but we won." Daxia said.
"Wait. Join the Forerunner fleet, drop into formation."
"Cortana - we need to rejoin our fleet." Daxia said firmly. "You know what's going to happen. We need to return to the safe Halos . . ."
"There's been a change of plan." Cortana said softly. "The Halos are firing now."
"But- then we still need to get to our fleet-"
"I'm sorry." Cortana barely spoke, but the controls were suddenly unresponsive. Daxia yelled in frustration, slapping the panels as Cortana steered them away.
The Avalon joined the Forerunner fleet and then performed a manoeuvre Daxia had never imagined. All the ships suddenly flickered and then - they were gone. Moving faster than anything humans had ever imagined.
Spartan-1119 slid the Index into the Control Room of Halo 08, satisfied that he had done as ordered. 391 Guilty Spark glowed red in joy before the Halo slowly heated up. It's blast radiated out through space at a phenomenal speed, hitting the other Halos.
One by one fifteen installations were set off. Each one covered their blast radius and annihilated all bio-mass in the galaxy.