Posted By: kr142616<email@example.com>
Date: 8 September 2007, 6:24 pm
This is a prologue for the fanfic site UNSC Chronicles.
0604 hours, March 19, 2510 (Military Calendar)
Marseille Sewage Transportation System, Marseille, Hades
As Lieutenant Marquis wallowed through the knee-high muck, the pipes around him shook. Behind him his squad followed, seemingly not noticing the explosions above ground.
Above them, on the streets, fierce combat was ensuing between the UNSC marines and Napoleonists, the French ultra-nationalists. The UNSC had rapidly recovered from the Napoleonist surprise attacks across the planet, and then moved quickly to quash the would-be rebellion. Now the Army to Restore Napoleonic France had been pushed back to their patron city, and the UNSC was preparing for the death blow.
And we're their instrument, Marquis thought to himself. Ahead, he could see a terminal.
"Alright, Tanner, bring Pluto up," the lieutenant said, motioning the radioman forward.
"Sir," Tanner said. He stooped in front of the terminal, looking for a port, and stood. A connection was opened between his portable computer and the terminal, and almost immediately, the holotank on the side shimmered.
A handsome man in a dark suit looking more like shadows than clothing appeared. "So good to be out of there," he said, brushing his arms. "The command network is quite boring."
"Yeah, well it's time for your fun," Marquis said. "Put the Marseille Municipal Authority Complex in lockdown."
Pluto rolled his eyes. "Done."
"Alright, then, confirm the meeting's location, loop all security cameras so they appear blank, and tap into their comm network so you're in constant communication with us." The AI's arrogance was grating, but he was a top-grade intrusion AI, and understood his importance.
Pluto made a show of yawning. "Done. I'll be here if you need me."
"Thanks, Pluto," Tanner said, disconnecting his computer and unslinging his rifle.
"All in an instant's work." With that, the AI disappeared.
"Ready?" Marquis said, looking at each squadmate. All three's faces were hard and determined. They all new the success of their mission could bring an end to the uprising.
"Alright," he said, and they advanced through the sewage until they reached a lift.
"Hey, Pluto," Tanner said over the squad's comm net. "Knock knock." Without a sound, the doors parted
"Where are they?" Marquis asked.
"Forty-ninth floor, conference room G. There are guards all across the level, and stationed at all the stairwells. The lifts are supposed to be disabled there, though, so they're only guarded on 49."
Then we're going to 50," Marquis said. "How many guards are inside the conference room?"
"Six," Pluto replied. "Two at each door, and two more behind the leader, each armed with sub-machine guns."
"Is it Dominique?" Marquis asked. Raphael Dominique was head of the ARNF, and the squad's target.
"It is," Pluto said. "I can't see his face, but the building database lists him as chairing today's planning session. The information hasn't changed since my last intrusion."
"Good," Marquis replied, nodding. "Has anyone noticed the lockdown?"
"Oh, quite a few people have," Pluto answered. Before Marquis could say anything, though, he continued. "I took the liberty of jamming all communications but ours with Sergeant Tanner's equipment. Dominique and his men haven't noticed yet, either."
Marquis felt his face reddening. "Thank you, Pluto."
"Yes, sir." The lieutenant could almost see the AI's smirk. "Approaching fiftieth floor."
"Thanks, Pluto," Abdallah said, humor in her voice.
"Everyone, rounds in the chamber," Marquis said. There were three clacks echoing his rifle as the squad cycled the bolts on their own. "Silencers on?"
"We're set, boss," said Lyons, slinging her M247 for an M7S.
"Level fifty," Pluto said, and all the squad tensed, aiming their weapons at the door. The two halves parted, and there was—nothing. The hallway beyond was deserted.
"Pluto, anyone in the halls?"
"Just two guards," the AI replied. "To the right, and around the first corner. They're armed with SMGs, and looking rather inattentive.
"Tanner, come with me. We'll handle them."
"Sir," he said, lifting his MA2B. Marquis led the sergeant down the hallway, and snaked an optical probe around the corner, linking it to both his and Tanner's HUDs. The two men were facing each other and quietly conversing, weapons pointed down, and very obviously not enjoying their duty.
"I'll go first, take the one on the left," Marquis said over the helmet comms, ensuring absolute silence. "You follow, and hit righty."
Tanner nodded, and readied his rifle. Marquis slipped his optical probe back into his belt, and braced against the wall. Mentally, he counted down.
Three, two, one
Marquis swung himself around the corner, and as soon as he saw his target, he fired three shots from his LR38 into the man's head. The other guard had time enough to hit the alarm, only to hear nothing happen, before being shot by Tanner. The sergeant's shots were less steady than Marquis', though, and stitched from the man's neck up his face.
"All set," Marquis said over the squad comm. "Coming back." The whole engagement had lasted all of two seconds. Less than two minutes after leaving Lyons and Abdallah, Marquis and Tanner had rejoined them inside a men's restroom.
"Ready?" the lieutenant asked.
Lyons nodded, and hefted the heavy cutter she had been carrying in her pack. Abdallah drilled into a section of open floorspace, and anchored the section to a pipe fixture near the ceiling. Lyons immediately began cutting, sparks spraying around them. Within a minute, a meter diameter hole had been cut, and the plug was pulled upwards.
Releasing the plug from its anchor, each member of the squad slid down, Marquis being the last.
"Pluto, what's the story? Who've we got on the other side of this door?" Marquis asked.
"Immediately across the hall is an office adjacent to the conference room, empty. No guards for the moment, but that could quickly change. Suggest you move across now."
"Alright," the lieutenant said. "Open up."
The doors silently slid up, and Marquis darted across into the already-open office door. Lyons followed, and Abdallah and Tanner were about to follow suit when Pluto spoke over the comm, urgency in his artificial voice.
"Guards coming, left side. Suggest you move!"
Abdallah and Tanner ran across the hallway, and, poking his head out, Marquis saw two guards, surprised, raising their SMGs. One managed to get a short burst off before Tanner made it through the door, and Marquis shouted, "Close it now!"
The door slammed shut, and the four marines stood in the dark office, silent.
"Shit," Tanner said, slumping into a chair and looking at his leg. "I took a hit in the calf." He removed his hand from his leg, and the glove came away dark red, with a matching stain on the back of his left leg.
"Lyons, patch him up," Marquis said. The squad's medic nodded, and reached into her pack for supplies.
"Pluto, where do we stand?" the squad leader asked over the comm net.
"Right next to Dominique," the AI replied wryly. "The conference room is soundproofed, comm networks are jammed, and the building is in lockdown. There's no way he's aware."
"Ready for an explosive entry?" Abdallah asked, removing a coil of det tape. Marquis nodded, and Abdallah began applying the tape. She stopped, though, and turned towards the lieutenant. "P for plenty?" she asked, repeating the training maxim they'd heard so much in demolitions.
"Hold on," Marquis said. "Pluto, is Dominique near our entryway?"
"Negative, he's to the far right," the AI replied, sounding bored again.
Marquis nodded to Abdallah, and the demolitions expert grinned, and began applying more tape.
In several minutes, there was an outline a bit taller and wider than a man taped to the wall, and Tanner's leg was wrapped up, the bleeding stopped.
"I want flashbangs through the hole as soon as it's detonated," Marquis said. "Except you, Abdallah, I want two frags to the left. Then we go in shooting." The lieutenant donned his helmet, and continued speaking over the squad's comm net. "Remember, we only need Dominique alive. All the rest are just in the way."
There were three nods, and the squad took positions around the soon-to-be doorway: Abdallah on the left, Marquis on the right, and Lyons and Tanner in front.
Marquis gave Abdallah the thumbs up, and over the comm, she counted down from three, her voice steady and cool. As son as she reached one, there was a roar and a flash, and three flashbangs and two frag grenades sailed through the improvised entryway. There was a pause as they waited for the grenades to detonate, then Lyons rushed through the entryway, firing her SMG.
Marquis waited an instant, then followed. The room's occupants sat dazed in their seats, and of the six guards, only the two near Dominique remained. Marquis shot each twice in the head, and moved to the Napoleonist leader as his squad finished the room's occupants.
Marquis reached the man, and grabbed him, looking into his dazed face. Oh, no
"Fuck!" he shouted, loud enough his squad all spun towards him. "Pluto!"
"Lieutenant?" the AI said, voice even.
"It's not him, Pluto! It's not Dominique!" Marquis couldn't believe it. He couldn't believe the bastard had outsmarted them. "How could he know we were coming?"
"You don't know that, boss," Tanner said. "Think about it later. We gotta get outta here."
"Right. Everyone, take pictures and blood samples of all the dead, quick," Marquis said, looking around. "Pluto, what's the shortest path to the lift?"
"Not advisable," the AI said. "That's out the front door, and the guards heard your fireworks and gathered there."
"Well, what's the shortest path to an outside wall?" the lieutenant asked, thinking fast. It could work.
"North, through to offices and the hallway. Why?" For once, the AI seemed puzzled, and it brought Marquis a certain satisfaction.
The lieutenant opened a comm channel. "Foxtrot six-two-seven, this is Rawhide One. Be advised, we will not be able to reach the rooftop."
"Roger, Rawhide One," the pilot replied. "What do you need?"
"A big hole on the north side of the building, forty-ninth floor," the lieutenant replied, smiling at the shocked faces of his squad. "Be advised, situation is hot. Get here as soon as possible."
"Acknowledged," the pilot responded. "Wait one." The line was cut, and Marquis turned to his squad.
"Helmets back on, boys and girls," he said, grinning, his frustration gone for the moment. "We're out of here. Abdallah, I need a det pack on the northern wall. No time for subtlety."
The demolitions expert nodded, and set a charge on the wall. The squad backed up, and Abdallah detonated the explosives.
The marines burst through the whole, and Abdallah immediately set to work with another det pack, the rest of the squad surrounding her. A guard turned around the corner down the hall, and a barrage of fire tore him apart.
As soon as Abdallah finished, the squad backed up into the middle of the hallway. Another guard poked his head out, and managed to pull back before the marines could return fire. Down the hall Marquis could hear shouting, but it was drowned out by Abdallah's explosives.
Marquis got back on the comm. "Foxtrot six-two-seven, where are you?" he asked. There was little cover in the hallway, and the guards were starting to catch on. "Foxtrot six-two-seven, do you read?"
"Firing," came the reply. Marquis heard a roar, a thousand times louder than the det pack, and it seemed like the entire floor shook. Beyond the second hole, the dark office was now lit by the early-morning sun, and Marquis could hear the whine of the Pelican dropship.
The dropship came along the enormous jagged hole in the building, and Marquis waved the rest of the squad through. "Go, go, go!" he shouted.
First Lyons, then Abdallah leapt from the gap to the dropship. Then Tanner leapt across, only to fall on his injured leg. He began to slide out of the troop bay, but not before Lyons and one of the crew chiefs grabbed him.
Marquis took one last look back, then jumped across the gap. As he was scrambling in, he saw guards entering their improvised exit, quickly cut down by the crew chief's machine gun. The dropship blasted off, and Marquis slumped into a seat.
"Hey, how's the battle going downstairs?" Lyons asked, removing her helmet and standing in the cockpit doorway.
"It was going good for a while," the pilot said. "But we're getting reports of ARNF forces just disengaging. They're hiding back with the citizens, tossing their guns in the streets."
"Weird," Tanner said, holding his lower leg.
"So, you guys get him?" the crew chief gunner asked, slapping Marquis on the shoulder.
"No," Marquis said flatly. "He wasn't there, just his staff."
"It was still an excellently executed mission, lieutenant," Pluto said over the comm. "There was nothing we could have done better."
"Well, looks like the fight's over anyways," the gunner said. "Napoleonists disappearing in the streets and everything. Maybe they realized they can't win."
"Maybe," the lieutenant said, taking off his helmet and wiping a smatter of blood from the faceplate. He hadn't even noticed it before. "Maybe."