Guerilla: Some Dreams You Can Do Without
Posted By: Mainevent<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 12 February 2005, 6:09 AM
The large, bulky Pelican glided silently through the misty fog surrounding the tiny Zanzibar island. The generator complex was a crucial, if antiquated, power supply for the mainland cities nearby. John wiped the inside of his visor clean with a damp towel. He wasn't ready to put it back on just yet; it wasn't often he was able to breathe without the bland, filtered air his suit manufactured. This air was a mix of musty leather seats, titanium, and salty sea water; it was wonderful.
"We'll be arriving at New Mombassa in five minutes boys. We'll be landing at Mullah Complex in ten. I hope you've enjoyed your flight with Pan Covenant, and look forward to flying with you again."
It seemed all of these air-junkies had a mouth. But they were some of the best and bravest damn pilots he'd ever met. Two ODSTs from the Stalwart and Tenacious sat across from the Spartan. Their helmets were likewise off, but their guns were primed and ready to go. John's M6D was lying unloaded on the ripped, ragged-brown leather seat to his right. Both of the special forces soldiers wore uniform five-centimeter cuts, and the stubble seemed to make them appear very young; not much older than recruits. Perhaps they were, the UNSC was getting desperate now, and needed every man and woman it could get. The regulations on almost every trivial thing had been relaxed, including the service requirements imposed by the Special Forces Headquarters.
The blue-eyed one on the left had seen definite action. A long, thick scar ran lengthwise down his cheek before curving around under his square, masculine jaw. His friend looked green though; his eyes were too energetic, and still had a fiery explosiveness in them. That didn't last long after you'd been out there. He looked much younger than his counterpart; with a much smoother and rounder "baby" face.
His suit made a sudden, shrill beep. John picked up his helmet and put it on, twisting it slightly to ensure a vacuum seal. Cortana was humming busily into his earpiece as he waited for her to begin speaking.
"Mullah Complex is not what we're looking for."
"What do you mean? I thought you were sure it was here."
"Oh, it's here alright. Just not, here. ONI wouldn't put something as valuable and secret as a Forerunner ship at a known military instillation."
"Then where is it? It's either here or it isn't here, which is it?"
"Both. There's another, undocumented facility here. There has to be."
John stared outwards through the cargo door of the enormous troop transport. His enhanced sight allowed him an almost telescopic view of the entire region; rolling amber hills gleamed with small patches of leafy green bushes and the barren, half-dead trees that thrived in these regions. The hard, angular concrete of Mullah Complex appeared in the distance as the Pelican closed the distance rapidly. Automated defenses automatically tracked the Pelican, visibly pivoting the green, rectangular-prism-shaped missile pods to face the craft. They disengaged quickly, and the Pelican glided over the twelve foot tall reinforced-concrete and barbed wire walls.
Mullah Complex sprawled for several hundred acres in every direction. At the center was a massive, red-clay colored building that still maintained the feel of early Turkish architecture. It was easily thirty stories high, with exactly symmetrical focal points, and was capped off with a massive golden-tinted dome. Dotted around it were various barracks, warehouses, machine shops, and firing ranges for the troops to hone their skills. Their hard angles and glaring gray color contrasted sharply with the pristine beauty of their surroundings.
There were twelve octagonal landing pads two kilometers behind the central complex; the Pelican made several passes as it waited for a departure before settling down on pad seven. Cortana had taken the liberty of requesting a warthog, and General Hamoud had been generous enough to provide one. The emerald green armor glinted harshly in the rough sub-Saharan sun. The two troops from the Pelican hopped aboard the vehicle. This warthog was specifically for non-combat zones, as it had no on-board heavy weapons to defend itself with. The rear heavy cannon had been replaced by an extra seat and a metal case to stow supplies in.
"Where we headin' Chief?" The ODST in the rear asked.
"Somewhere that doesn't exist. Sure you wanna come?"
The two ODSTs glanced at each other, understanding immediately what he meant. Whenever anyone was going somewhere that didn't exist, shit was bound to hit the fan; although, that's what ODSTs were good at.
"I've never been there before, I'd like to check the place out." The passenger remarked with a slight grin.
The man's head jerked backward slightly as the car lurched forward across the dusty road. It quickly sped up, sending a thick cloud of dust up several meters into the air. John raced past Mullah complex and through the rows of tanks and other vehicles lined up along the parade route. The box-shaped military buildings blurred by quickly, suddenly ending into a vast open expanse of tall grasses that rolled kilometers in every direction. The warthog drove headlong into the thick, golden grass that swayed in the gentle breeze, crushing it harshly under grinding tires.
"Why are we heading away from Mullah Complex?" Cortana asked.
"I saw two dust trails roughly a kilometer ahead while we were circling overhead."
"Checking...nothing. There's no record of anything out here in the database."
"You honestly thought there would be?"
The 'hog broke out of the grasses abruptly and bumped roughly onto the dirt road that suddenly appeared. John jerked the wheel hard to the left, whipping the vehicle's tail around as the tires feverishly gripped at the surface. The road extended ahead roughly four hundred meters before ending at a small, barely noticeable structure. John slowed down carefully, observing the two other hogs parked neatly in the tall grasses nearby. The Spartan hopped out of the vehicle, approaching the structure carefully. It appeared to be made from a familiar light-gray stone and was octagonal in shape.
"Yo, Chief!" One of the marines, Staff Sergeant Peters, nodded and tossed a shotgun over.
John caught it and walked onto the top of the structure. He knelt down and carefully ran his fingers over the engraved lines of the floor. The pattern oddly resembled a double helix, with a Halo symbol at the bottom and a strange three pronged triangular shape at the top. The floor made a sleepy, groaning sound and slowly and silently parted into the walls as the gentle hum of a Forerunner gravity lift activated. The two ODST ran over and joined him, and the three descended into the calm darkness.
"Numbers thirty-six and seven are both failures. Exhibiting the familiar comatose reaction to the treatment as previous volunteers." The young lab technician ended the mandatory post-op audio recording and tossed his clipboard down on the desk in obvious frustration. He ran his hands through his thick, black hair and exhaled deeply. When he'd taken this assignment things had looked very positive. In only two tries they'd found a viable specimen; an excited middle-aged Sergeant Mobuto. Doctor Kennedy remembered that man very well. There was a spark about him not normal amongst most of the veterans. Since him though, Project Mnemosyne hadn't found another suitable specimen.
"You look tired," the older, slightly balding man beside him remarked with a smirk.
"None of them are working. One in thirty seven is not a very good batting average." He wiped his glasses with his lab coat, exposing the dark circles under his drooped eyes.
"At least its an average." Lieutenant Parker, the ONI practitioner responsible for the project's oversight, said gently. He sympathized with the younger scientist, but still held out hope. He'd been at it a lot longer than his partner and knew that anything worth discovering was also worth waiting for.
"Well, if we are descendants of these creatures, why haven't more people been found? I mean hell, we know it works. Mobuto was translating and using Forerunner technology better than the AI were! He set Section Three's advanced projects research ahead light-years."
"I know, I know. You don't think I know? I've been here just as long as you have. The statistics don't make since, but that's the nature of the beast."
"You know, just once I'd rather have all the pieces fall into place for me."
"That last piece of the puzzle isn't walking itself in here 'ya know."
Franklin didn't say a word in response; instead he was frozen in fear. His comrade turned away from the computer screen as the ominous sound of a shotgun pumping was heard. John was standing with a shotgun by his side, but his companions' were both facing directly towards the two scientists. Lieutenant Parker stood up quickly, revealing the half-covered rank insignia hidden under his lab coat. Spartan 117 snapped to attention, with the ODST reluctantly following suit.
"What is the meaning of this? This is a restricted area."
We've been sent by General McCaffey to investigate the progress of this operation. Cortana explained through the MJOLNIR's external speakers.
"Well missy, you're wrong on two accounts. For one this operation doesn't report to McCaffey, and for two I'm the project manager on detail here."
The older officer's friend was slowly motioning towards a panel on the wall, but was quickly stopped by one of the ODST. John glanced around the only large room they'd encountered in the facility. It was an enormous, hollow dome covered with mechanical equipment from both the Forerunner and Humans. Strangely though, the Forerunner equipment seemed much more active than its counterparts on the Halo rings.
At the center of the truly massive room was another device. It was roughly pyramidal in shape, with three thin wing-like structures spreading outward from the bottom. The center was a sharp, spear-like structure facing upwards. Cortana calculated instantly what the object was: the ship.
John began heading straight for the alien artifact. The two doctors exchanged quick glances before jogging up to him. Dr. Kennedy stepped in front of the hybrid-behemoth in a futile effort at stopping him. The vehicle was enormous up close. The semi-cylindrical body didn't even start for a good seven stories up; suspended by the tripod-like wings. John suddenly got the strange familiar feeling that accompanied his encounters with Forerunner technology. He stopped on a small, circular glowing disc at the base of the starship.
"You can't go in there anyway!"
"Who's going to stop me?" John asked with a sudden flare of anger.
"There are serious risks involved with going into that ship."
"I'll risk it."
"You could be put into a coma, or even worse. Besides, I don't even have the program activate the lift."
"What program?" Peters asked with a nudge of his shotgun.
"The panel that controls the lift," began Lieutenant Parker, "has over forty touch-sensitive regions on it. The activation code changes after every entrance, but we built a program to predict the next sequence. Without that program we won't be able to activate the lift."
John stared at the control panel. It was similar to all of the ones he'd encountered before, but this one had many more of the circular buttons. The holographic interface shimmered and sparkled light blue as he examined it. His hand slid over the six concentric rings of buttons on the thin projection, slowly pressing one region and then moving to another, and another, and another. Dr. Kennedy watched silently as the Spartan entered the ten button sequence. The ship's door began opening as the glowing disc began levitating John into the air. He slowly disappeared into the darkness; the smoke-gray metallic door closed with a snap behind him.
The ship's interior was surprisingly dark. A thin mist coated the ship's interior, but slowly faded as the curious explorer ventured around. The deck he was on seemed centered around a single piece of furniture: a massive, reclined chair at the center of the ovular room. He strolled over to the seat, and walked around it several times.
"I'm not so sure you should do this."
Spartan 117 wordlessly removed his helmet, sitting it gently on the floor. The scarred green paint contrasted subtly with the reflection of gold from his visor. His suit beeped shrilly as the A.I. tried to communicate with him. He slowly eased into the chair, relaxing in the seat as much as possible with such bulky armor on. There was a sudden pinch in his neck as three long, pink needles clutched him firmly. There was a sudden fogginess, and then all was calm.
John opened his eyes slowly, casting them about the shadowy room wearily. It felt like he'd been asleep for such a long time. His joints were stiff and every muscle in his body begged for him not to move. For his entire life he'd fought against pain, struggled to beat it, but there was no beating it this time. He felt weak, and succumbed to its siren beckoning. His eyes fluttered closed once more.
Was he alone? It felt like there was someone else in the room now; someone familiar. He tilted his head and searched for something lurking in the shadows, but the shadows were inside him. If there was something there, it was well hidden. The golden tinted reflection of his visor caught his eye. It was strangely hypnotizing, and he couldn't help but stare at it. There was something moving across the visor. He stood up, and walked to the piece of equipment, putting it on and sealing it. The room disappeared through the visor into something...more.
His view stretched endlessly across a vast expanse of a Halo ring. A flock of alien birds soared majestically through the heavens before gliding over the side of a massive cliff. At the bottom, salty waves crashed against boulders and dirt before receding back into the murky blue depths. Small, human-looking children ran across the grassy plains he was on, and entered one of the large gray structures so familiar to the fortress worlds.
A massive, broad beast approached John from the right, carrying an enormous glowing hammer with him. His lips were parted in a thin smile, and he wrapped his arms around John with an implied force the Spartan could almost feel. The view shifted slightly; John was outside himself now, but still staring at his body.
"Rukt, old friend, how are the preparations coming?"
"Shur Jural, how many times must I tell you to stop worrying. Everything will be fine. We are moving along splendidly with the help of the sentinels and the monitor. Flood holding cells have been stabilized and we've put around the clock security details on them. The Council on Basis still wishes to speak with you though. They predict a war, a massive war, and we must be prepared. The Inghalli were not as fierce as these abominable creatures"
"Rukt, we may have lost our home world to the Flood, but we are safe here. Regardless, I'm undergoing the procedure when I meet the council. I suggest you do so too."
A sudden and vicious storm crept up on the horizon, whipping the plains' grasses around wildly. The seas raged against the cliff-side with a mighty roar. John was back inside of Shur Jural's body, but still a silent observer. Hording around he and Rukt were thousands upon thousands of the parasitic beasts. Sentinels and Enforcers blazed across the sky, many exploding and falling to the ground in fiery heaps as the evolving Flood forms used the Forerunner energy weapons. Jural's energy blade slashed about, cutting entire waves of the spores to ribbons with a single swipe. Rukt slammed his mighty hammer into the ground, violently crushing one of the larger forms. The beast writhed passionately, but the hammer finished the creature off with a violent electrical burst.
John watched thousands of memories; through the Hundred Thousand Years War, the Fall of Council Basis, and the Last Seed Campaign before awaking in a sweat in the chair. His breaths were deep and erratic. His mind raced about the history he'd just witnessed, and tried to cope with what was the true reality of the situation. It had all seemed so real; wasn't he just fighting for his life on Ghoya Instillation? Was he not just fleeing the overrun facility at Basis with his fellow Council brethren? John moved his hand slowly over his face, feeling the soft, milky skin through padded gloves. An ecstatic beep emanated from his suit; John stood up and carefully put on his helmet. This time he stayed in the ship, he was relieved the nightmare was over.
"Are you okay? John, speak to me."
"How long was I asleep?"
"Forty-eight hours and thirty three minutes. You had me worried, but we still need to get you examined. What happened there?"
"Umb buktal," John whispered.
"What did you say?"
"Umb buktal, andelag."
Translation suits in Cortana's expanded memory kicked in. ONI had collected and translated most of the Covenant language through undocumented resources, and she instantly deciphered his speech:
I remember, everything.