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To the Last Man, revised edition, Part One Chapter Prologue
Posted By: John Gurule, Jr.<d3jsgurule@yahoo.com>
Date: 4 December 2004, 7:57 AM

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      First of all, here's an explanation. Hate me for it, yes, but it must be. My first versions of this story bombed with you guys and I really want to show you the extent of my talent, so I went on a mission. I wanted to make this story how I had envisioned it. Taking Helljumper's advice to all authors, I read a Clancy book and a few accounts by actual soldiers. I then decided to buy TfoR, but my pockets protested, so I read whats-his-name's Revelation of War series. I combined the styles of my old self and the others carefully so as not to steal anything from them and made my story into the epic I'd had in mind.So sits the final product. And yes, I know that my poems suck arse, but I write them in like five seconds so bear with me (thanks Sushimaster for saying that my Library of Horrors poem was alright, but it wasn't a serious attempt anyway. YOU GUYS SHOULD KNOW THAT!). Anywho, on with the show!

Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell,
Rode the six hundred.
-Alfred Lord Tennyson

      To the Last Man, Chapter One, Prologue
      Episode I: Three Down, A Million More to Go

      Staring blankly into space, Admiral Gutierrez was troubled. The amount of resposiblilty that came with his position was tiring. He desperately needed a vacation. He turned back to his desk and put on his earpiece.
      "Cetra, turn Captain's moniter to video five."
      "Wouldn't it be easier to turn it on yourself? You are right there," the AI said.
      "It's more fun to annoy you."
       "Hmmph. Admiral, there's a message for you on the intercom."
       "Send it through." There was the buzz that signaled the transition, and a tinny voice came through.
      "Uh, Adirwl? Dersumuneredozeeoo. Ooksikeodeeesdee."
      "Oh, I've forgotten the filters. Clumsy me," Cetra said. Even though there wasn't a holopad in the room, he could tell she had a smirk on her face. "Okay, I've put them back on."
      Not saying anything to Cetra, he replied to the guard, "Say that again, soldier."
      "I said, sir, that there's someone here to see you. Looks like an ODST."
      Lorenzo smiled. "Good. Let him in.

      The sight of Arnold Johnson was impressive. His arms and legs showed an everlasting youthful strength while his grizzled face was a reminder of his many years in the service. He definetly wasn't your normal twenty-something army boy. His dark eyes carefully watched, learned and wise after many battles. He was wearing a dark red ODST beret with a black star and gold bars, representing his rank: Lieutenant Colonel.
      "Old friends meet again,"said Lorenzo. He held out his hand, and Arnold shook it.
      "The years have treated me well, old buddy, as you can see."
      Lorenzo laughed. "Come on in, have a drink!"
      "Oh, I don't drink anymore." Gutierrez laughed again.
      "It's not like a few now and then will hurt you. Come on in and make yourself comfortable."
      He nodded and stepped into the room. As soon as he did so, the ship quaked and he braced himself into the doorway. The two looked around, confused by what had just happened. "That wasn't an accident," Cetra said, "someone is after us." The admiral nodded in agreement.
      "I need everyone at their Battle Stations, priority two. I want guards at every airlock and Longswords in their defensive positions, and you, Cetra, to warm the M.A.C.s up."
      "Gladly," Cetra replied.
      "Colonel, I want you to help in any way."
      Johnson saluted. "Yes, Admiral."

      Johnson ran down the halls of the USS Column of Light to the armory near the rear. He dodged the personnel as he hurried through to the arsenal.
      He finally reached the armory, panting after having to run nearly two kilometers to reach his destination. The automatic doors opened and a few marines came running out, Battle Rifles in hand.
      "Hey!" a marine called to him. "You need to hurry and get to your post, sir." Johnson said nothing, he just cooly strolled in through the doors as if nothing was happening. He walked over to a rack of Battle Rifles. He unhooked one and slung it over his shoulders. He unsnapped one of his pouches and stuffed one bag of clips into it. Then he left the rifle cache for a stand of SMG's. Taking one and a clip off of the rack, Johnson clicked it onto the side of the gun. As nonchalant as he came in, he went out.
      Havoc erupted from seemingly nowhere as he ran past a cafetoreum. The mess hall was alive with the billowing blue light from plasma.. Screams and gunshots. It all reminded Johnson of his first few years in the corp.
      His tour of duty on Eclipse was his first official assignment, and if it weren't for him and his squad, the entire mission would have been a faliure. He was only about twenty-three then, but he had as much training and experience as a fifty-year-old veteran thanks in large part to the ARCHANGEL Accelerated ODST program. It was effectively a disposable replacement for the SPARTAN project, though not for its subjects. Basically, it was a series of nanobot injections that reproduced and built muscle tissue, giving for much more combat training and nearly no conditioning periods.
      Makes me all warm and toasty inside, the colonel thought. He strafed into the open doorway, missing plasma by literally just fractions of inches. I should have brought more ammo.
       A contingent of marines was spread out and they were forced to take cover. Covenant had breached the far door and were picking them off one by one, but not very subtly.
      Arnold cocked the SMG. He inaled slowly, and exhaled in one short puff.. From behind the wall, he peeked into the gallery. The enemies weren't as numerous as he thought. Just an Elite plus a couple of Grunts. And a Plasma Cannon.
      The Lieutenant Colonel side-stepped into the doorway once again. Fire from the cannon erupted, but it was delayed. They miraculously had no idea that he was coming. He sqaured his sights on the Grunt manning the cannon. He squeezed the trigger.
      Thunder erupted from the muzzle of his weapon. The Grunt's head exploded in a spatter of thick blue blood. His mask burst, spraying its invisible contents into the air with a bang and a hiss. One down.
       The marines joined in and started firing sporadically in a quick succession. The other Grunt, crouching behind a crate and invisible to Arnold, was gone. He could only guess what had happened amidst the splatter of its insides. Two down.
      The Elite knew he was doomed. Johnson ran into the cafeteria and crouched behind a table. The Covenant dropped its weapon. A growl started in his throat, and became louder. There was no mistaking that it was going to do something. The growl erupted into a roar, an ear-splitting call from the pits of Hell. Even Arnold was forced to cover his ears. The Elite snatched something from its belt and held it in its hand for a moment. Oh Shit.
      A crack signaled the arrival of a Plasma Sword. With only a few rounds left in his gun, Johnson needed to think fast. A plan popped into his head, but it was incredibly stupid.I've done stupider.
      He leapt to his feet and ran straight to the Elite. It raised its sword in preparation. Expecting this, Johnson leapt into the air. He raised his foot and and thrust it foward. It collided with the alien, and its shields fluttered. Johnson ricocheted and planted his feet on the floor. A perfectly executed flying side kick. He glanced back at the marines, gazing in awe. He ran back, away from the dazed Elite.
      "Fire at will! Fire at will!" Arnold commanded the soldiers, and they followed immediately.The Elite died in a fitting rain of purple. Three down.
      The marines gathered around him. "Thanks! We're lucky you showed up! We were goners, for sure. I guess that's it," one said. The ship rumbled again.
      "Not yet."
      A million more to go.