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Guerilla: Like Riding A 100,000 Year Old Bike
Posted By: Mainevent
Date: 28 April 2005, 3:09 AM

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      The caverns erupted into a series of high-pitched wails as the alarms activated. Confused and anxious military personnel, primarily scientists and high-ranking officers, paced or trotted for the exit shaft. Rotating blue and red lights twirled from the ceiling, sending multi-colored circles of light dancing around the massive openness. It walked up the sides of crates and along walls like an ancient disco ball. There was an eerie stillness to the lifeless dome. Olive green crates, stainless steel tables, bright yellow forklifts, and machine parts were abandoned in their ready-to-use state. Only the low whirling growl of a portable generator was audible after the sirens ended as abruptly as they'd begun.
      John finished zipping up the nearby flight-suit; it's dull, standard gray had a single large patch on the shoulder. The insignia was a golden circle with a multi-colored profile of the Forerunner artifact situated over a dark maroon center. The Marine was hefted gently into the familiar, dimly lit, central corridor he'd entered before. He tapped a series of oblong circular symbols on a holographic panel situated above the seat that had begun his strange transformation. He situated himself comfortable and the chair reclined slightly before ascending into a small recessed alcove in the ceiling. An aquamarine energy partition hermetically sealed the control room and its occupant with an audible sucking noise.
      The enormous ship ran quickly through its pre-flight systems checks, and began to rumble. The foreboding and powerful moan of a sleeping dragon awakened from its slumber. Alien control schemes flittered around him, beeping and chirping signals he didn't yet comprehend. He tapped the panel awkwardly until a small circular hologram burned magma red before cooling back to blue. Bingo. Ancient engines roared to life and shot the ship into space. It hit the atmosphere with a thud before wobbling unevenly and exiting into the void, its long thin legs inverted automatically upon reaching the envelope of the atmosphere. At least the one-hundred-thousand year old bike came with training wheels, he thought.
      The UNSC Arkangel darted past the orbiting geo-synch platforms and the miniature ring of the defensive fleet. It's coral-blue plasma flared fiercely as the vehicle gained momentum. John grinned uneasily to himself, not sure exactly what he'd gotten into. Sweat beaded on his forehead and rolled icily into his eyes. He wiped them with the back of his palm and tried to imagine what to do next; but he just couldn't. There was the dark stutter in his brain he'd been having since the exposure. It was as though someone else was thinking for him. His clouded thoughts were murky and bubbling.
      Two hands reached out for the control panels, but they weren't his. He'd lost control over the appendages and was relinquished to the status of backseat driver. The stranger's fingers danced across the symbols fluidly, sending the ship straight for the fleet of Covenant ships exiting slip space off his "port". Each of the enemy vessels were instantly encircled by small red, orange, or yellow circles; signifying their importance to the weapons subsystems. Six carriers, fifteen battle-cruisers, twelve destroyers, and thirty frigates had arrived before the void ruptures closed. The boiling furies had been vanquished back into the darkness and confusion that comprised sub-space.
      Instantly, thin blue lines coursed horizontally across the Covenant ships' sides. They reminded him strangely of the sparkling ornaments he'd seen as a child during the cold Elysian winters. That life was a million miles away now. He couldn't even remember what they meant; only that there was a vague feeling of comfort and safety whenever he tried to dig up his past. But this was anywhere from warm or safe, and those Covenant ships were all too willing to wipe his pathetic human memories from the universe.
      "Automated defensive measures are being deployed. Is this acceptable?"
      The ship apparently had an AI of its own; one that seemed not to have gone insane yet.
      "Activate all defensive measures."
      "Activated. Do you require further help?"
      "Activate," John was going to take a stab at it, "all offensive measures."
      "All offensive measures activated. Interceptors assuming active offensive and defensive perimeters based on projected enemy fleet strength. Calculated enemy weapons systems are at fifty percent of sustainable damage output. Main weapons systems active and ready, awaiting response."
      John had a mile-wide grin stretching through his mind. Cortana and those Navy junkies would have a field day if they'd known what this ship was capable of. His foreign hands gripped the two small orb-like devices that acted as a control yoke, and thrust them forward. The Arkangel sped forth, its protective interceptors matching or surpassing its own speed, and raced headlong into the enemy formation. Massive laser beams scratched into the night, tearing at space and the Forerunner ship futilely. Plasma torpedoes which would have normally sliced clean holes through UNSC carriers dissipated in a hiss of white and blue sparks on the shields.
      The remainder of confused Covenant cruisers and frigates held their fire as fleet marshals, bridge commanders, and the bevy of higher ranking decision makers conversed quickly. Their heavily-encrypted messages were instantly intercepted, decrypted, and scrambled by the ship's artificial intelligence. John listened with amusement from within the shell of his body as the Covenant chain of command quickly broke down into minor squabbles and cries of panic. If his body was on some sort of auto-pilot, he was more than happy to let it run its course and if the ancient DNA was somehow controlling him, then he decided that it knew more about handling this ship than he did.
      Hundreds of teardrop shaped Seraph fighters screamed out of their docking bays and into the blinding darkness. Almost immediately the interceptors broke off and formed several flight wings that quickly engaged the enemy fighters. The interceptors were jet-black and blended into the void almost seamlessly. Their bodies and wings were all made with smoothly curved sides which intersected smoothly around the central fuselage. John brought up a schematic of one of the automated death-dealers. They packed six miniaturized plasma based weapons systems, as well as two separate missile bays on both wings.
      A wing of five interceptors swept into the oncoming banshees in a standard arrowhead, or refused, formation. A flurry of red and blue zipped between the dueling groups. A dull blue flare coursed across the skin of the interceptors. The vehicles shrugged off the superficial shield aggravation and continued with their assault. Orbs of fire and debris erupted as Seraph after Seraph was destroyed.
      "All interceptors currently engaged. Approximately ten enemy fighters have been destroyed. Enemy capital ships preparing uncoordinated firings. I calculate shield failure in two salvos."
      The Spartan felt the dull thud of impacts across the shield systems from within the ship and gritted his teeth. His ancient counterpart rolled the massive ship hard to port and closer to three of the Covenant cruisers. The control panel for the massive primary cannon was a cold blue before changing quickly to a fiery red. Sensors tracked the outgoing spear as it stuck in the enormous purple whale, cutting deep into the beast's side and to its heart. Its fusion drive erupted into a myriad of green, blue, and orange hellfire before widening into a massive ring of energy and debris that spread like a wrinkle across the great blanket of space.
      Three of the slick interceptors slid dangerously close to the ship's hull as they lured unwary pilots in to their deaths. Supercharged fuel-rod cannons lined the hull of the Arkangel, providing a perimeter of almost certain death for personal attack craft. They rolled hard starboard and pulled in above two Seraphs firing on a seemingly hapless interceptor. The Forerunner fighters opened their wing-mounted missile bays and unleashed a barrage of plasma that hunted its pray without remorse. The Covenant hadn't realized the cat-and-mouse games the interceptors had been playing nearly the entire time, and Seraph after Seraph fell prey to the bloodlust of its pilot.
      Small, but extremely lethal, wing-mounted plasma lasers cut into the battle and through the hulls of Covenant ships. Two frigates' shields flared and died before they imploded from the scalpel-like precision of the super-heated matter. A nearby carrier positioned lengthwise to the Arkangel, giving the maximum number of weapons an open shot. The remaining charged super-cannon cut through the carrier's shields and sliced along its gut, dimming half of the weapons that would have fired to smoldering red holes of escaping gas and bodies.
      "Thirty enemy fighters have been destroyed. Two interceptors destroyed and three heavily damaged and returning for repairs. Incoming salvo," there was a pause as the ship rumbled slightly and the shimmer of dead shields invited renewed enemy fire, "shields depleted. Hull integrity at one hundred percent. Primary weapons systems recharged. Incoming capital ships of different designation, should I add them to firing roster?"
      Control room cameras swiveled and centered on the hard-gray forms of the incoming defensive fleet. Hundreds of Longsword and Raptor fighters swarmed into the fray and into position. John denied the request and watched green circles encompass the ships. A salvo of MAC rounds narrowly dodged the Arkangel and impacted Covenant ships with visible explosions. The projectile-based weapons were less effective against energy shields than plasma-based systems, but they cut through the exposed enemies with little resistance; punching gargantuan holes clean through the bulbous enemy warships.
      "You may call me Gabriel. What is it you request?"
      "If we cut power to levels sufficient enough to take down the enemy's shields, but not destroy the ship, will we be able to fire more quickly?"
      "Using the minimum required power expenditure that you've suggested, primary firing systems would triple their output."
      "Good, do it."
      "Done. May I ask why you have requested such an odd tactical decision? We have ample power supplies to continue firing at our current rate."
      "We'll cripple their shields and let the fleet finish them off."
      "Understood. I will begin transmitting firing solutions to our allies immediately. The coordinated fire, coupled with our ability to destroy their shields, should effectively neutralize fifty percent of the enemy fleet within one salvo."
      Gabriel sent out hand-shake routines to every allied capital ship's onboard AI. They responded instantly and accepted his solutions without hesitation. The Arkangel began systematically firing at all nearby enemy capital ships. Rapid fire bursts of energy crippled the starships' shields and seconds later the enormous tungsten rounds would deal mortal blows.
      A nearby destroyer turned to fire, but its exposed profile was met with two heavy rounds. A gaping whole tore through the ship and into its command deck, destroying all primary steering and weapons systems in a single shot. The second impact landed in the stern, crumpling the rear of the ship like a soda can before sending it spiraling slowly into a nearby carrier.
      The impact blew the carriers shields with a visible explosion of white energy that scattered brilliantly before dissipating. The UNSC twin hunter-killer destroyers Fury and Malice leapt at the weakened predators. The normally intimidating ships were now exposed and helpless to their fierce foes. Fury put two into the broad side of the CCS Brotherhood, severing the ship into two massive floating chunks of fire. Malice followed with a single shot to the foredeck of the already crippled destroyer, striking its fusion core and engulfing everything within three hundred kilometers in white-hot fusion.
      "Enemy capital ships at thirty percent of original strength. Interceptors and allied fighters forming a defensive picket around the Arkangel. Allied capital ships moving into firing positions for final attack. A single enemy ship has been detected hiding approximately five hundred thousand kilometers behind this planet's satellite."
      "Bring it on screen."
      The camera switched to the onboard camera of an interceptor. The Covenant ship in the frame was one of their largest; reserved for Prophets and their councils only. John knew that ship very well, he'd already been on it once. Brotherhood, he thought angrily. Suddenly, a fiery blue ring engulfed the ship, and it was gone. He was living to fight another day, or so he thought. John knew very well what happened to those who failed in the Covenant, but he knew even better what happened to traitors. This was undoubtedly Brotherhood's fleet; it was too small to be an expeditionary force, yet much larger than any hunter-seeker patrol.
      That backstabbing son of a bitch would get what he deserved one way or the other.