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A Savage Vengeance [Part 1]
Posted By: Mainevent
Date: 28 June 2004, 1:08 AM

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Fort Pride

      Lieutenant Daniel Lombardi awoke to the sound of gunfire. Mortars and cannon mostly, but scattered rifle fire stabbed the cool night air. His eyes danced through his dimly lit room, adjusting and searching simultaneously. His mind was confused by the sudden rush of activity.
      He walked slowly to a chair in the corner, and pulled on his uniform pants. Silver-gray and pressed, he'd prepared them for the meeting he was scheduled to attend the next morning with Major Parish. The ground rumbled under the icy-cold balls of his feet. A scream echoed down the corridor from the end of the hall; his hall.
      MA5B gunfire made a purring sound through his door. Daniel palmed the lock on the small chest at the foot of his bunk. It recognized his palm signature, and popped crisply open. The smell of neoprene plastic and mothballs wafted out of their dungeon. He brushed aside his body-suit and fatigues for something more important: his gun.
      The M6D pistol was polished, and glowed a ghoulish crimson-red in the reflection of his sleeping light. There was a thump on his door, and the gunfire stopped. Lombardi inserted a clip, and jammed it into the weapon with his palm. He checked the slide, and gripped the handle firmly. Sweat made his finger slip slightly on the trigger.
      Daniel approached the door, and slowly slid it open. The rail it was attached to made a painfully loud squeal. Maybe it was just his heightened senses; he was probably overreacting. Plasma connected with the doorframe, and a molten pool of metal rolled through the small crack. He wasn't overreacting. There was a high-pitched chirp from the Jackal who'd fired the shot.
      The lieutenant fired a shot into the exposed flesh on its shield arm; and it writhed in pain. A succession of two more shots landed at its chest. Columns of neon, orange blood coated the creature's shield before it slumped to the ground.
      He checked the hallway. Nothing. Two marines raced through the facility to his right. He stepped into the hall and followed their general direction. The path forked. To his left was the cafeteria. To his right was the garage. The explosion of a HE-DP fragmentation grenade from the cafeteria gave him his answer. The garage was a two hundred foot sprint.
      His feet slipped as his sudden movement reduced their traction dramatically. He braced himself with his palm, balanced himself, and surged forward. One hundred eighty feet, one hundred fifty, one hundred. The double doors at the end of the hall were closed. Luckily, they were unlocked. He wouldn't have to waste precious time meddling with the access code.
      Fifty feet. The light above the door blinked red three times before changing to a dark green hue. The metallic partitions hissed methodically open. Daniel's eyes bulged. There was a beast straight out of his nightmares standing in the doorway.
      Its massive structure was incredible. The thing had to be at least nine feet tall, because it was ducking to enter. Its reddish-beige body gave it a devilish appearance. Its chest was dark red, and covered by a large blue chest-piece. The muscles underneath rippled and flexed as it moved.
      The arms were thick and very muscular, and its forearms had a series of bone horns protruding from its thick skin. Five fingers wriggled in anticipation as it noticed Daniel. He didn't stop running; he couldn't. The marine ducked down and slid between the massive, concrete pillars his enemy called legs.
      It emitted a deep, throaty roar as it turned to face him. More of the bone spikes jutted up through the armor on his back, and dented the metal doorframe like a tin can. He turned to see the creature's head for the first time. It was oddly human shaped, but with a rhinocerous-like mouth and nose. In all truth, the entire beast looked like a hideous rhino mutation, except for the eyes. They were ink black, and cold. Emotions were hidden there, but none that would show him any kindness.
      There was a large polished horn on the crown of his head, and several smaller ones that mohawked down the back of his skull. His dark blue helmet matched the rest of his uniform. The entire terrifying picture cleared from the opaque peaces his mind had assessed individually. This was a savage and horrible thing standing before him. His mind meddled over the word. Savage.
      The recoil shocked his wrist as the pistol jerked backward. The bullet raced with an audible zip toward its target. The explosive-tipped round exploded on the rippling, blue shields of the Savage. Sweet Jesus. The creature had shields. Reality brought his mind to the vehicles around him. Rubble littered the garage's normally pristine floor.
      A large chunk of QuickCrete had crushed a nearby warthog, leaving only an all terrain vehicle within his reaches. It wasn't the vehicle he'd have hoped for, but it would do. Its rugged reliability, agility, and speed could get him out of the situation quickly. Which was exactly what he'd need now.
      The Savage began a laborious jog towards Lombardi, who struggled quickly to his feet. The ATV was beneath him before he exhaled, and it started instantly. The small engine sounded pathetic compared to a Hog's; but this wasn't the time to dwell.
      A Ghost rounded the corner and entered the hangar-like garage. Its Elite driver opened its mandibles in joy, and Daniel grimmaced. Even if he was as fast as a Ghsot, he didn't have the luxury of plasma cannons. They'd shred him to pieces in no time. He took a double-take as the Savage's enormous arm clothes-lined the Ghost's pilot, mangling him on the large spikes along his forearm.
      It hopped into the driver's seat, and after a noticeable strain from the grav-pods, the vehicle leapt forward. There was a strange and almost silent whistling sound that grew louder every second. He couldn't place it. A mortar perhaps? No, he knew the sound of mortars. Human mortars at least.
      A meter-sized sphere impacted fifty yards to his right, sending a plume of fire and metal into the sky. The Scorpion it hit came to a complete stop; its cockpit cage rattled furiously as the driver panicked to get out. The hinge was jammed. Daniel winced as the image of the driver burning alive inside flashed through his head.
      Another crashed into the soft clay ten meters in front of him. It left a four foot deep adobe crater in its wake. The ATV's nose dropped suddenly into it, and just as suddenly sprang off the opposite lip. Daniel struggled to keep the four-by-four from overturning. Flashes of plasma darted overhead as the Savage fired. Warning shots; he wouldn't have missed from that close. Daniel wasn't sure if he was lucky this creature seemed hell bent on killing him personally. Otherwise he'd probably be dead by now.
      Plasma mortars landed nearer to him. Their whistles shreaked of some demonic presence. Peripheral vision caught sight of a bright-purple object to his immediate right; he yanked the handlebars left. Muddy clay sprayed up from the ATV's thick tires, and covered the nearby Savage's face. It barked fiercely, and wiped the wet clay from its eyes. A mortar landed to the Ghost's left; too close to avoid. It erupted in a bright white flash, and toppled the Covenant bastard.

      His shield flared from the explosion before dying. The left-hand gravity pod died as well, and the Ghost buckled to the right. The Savage was tossed face-first off of the crippled hover bike. He landed on a spike of olive-green metal from a demolished Human vehicle. Brown-black blood oozed slowly from the massive wound on his exposed abdomen. The beast groaned as the Human raced out of view. His mighty fist slammed down on the jagged metal, crumpling it easily.
       Shorak had never been bested before; not by anyone. Especially something so puny as this Human. Not only had his honor been destroyed because of his escape, he'd been mortally offended as well. The scar. Normally a scar would be a triumphant proof of glory and battle, but not now. This one had been inflicted by a weaker creature, and it escaped. There was only one solution; he'd have to hunt down and kill the one who shamed him. For honor was above all else to the Covenant.

CCSImpure Truth

      Shorak grinned through his large thin lips. Three isochronisms (months) had passed since he'd been scarred on the Human planet. His large fingers traced the diagonal mark that obscured his honor. Nobody had said anything, but he knew. They wouldn't dare mention it to him, but they had to talk about it behind his back. Those he trusted most had tried to assure him that he'd more than made up for the disgrace against him. After all, he'd killed countless humans, and even two of their green-armored warriors. No one would dispute his accomplishments; but that wasn't enough.
      He'd made it his goal to find and kill the human who'd scarred him. Now was that time. He'd taken special care to have any human vessel that managed to escape the planet tracked with a probe; a perk of being promoted to Purifier of Unholy Thoughts. His large, black bone nose ring was the symbol of his accomplishments. It was ornamented with precious metals and gems. A show piece of his power. Though he felt worthless.
      A chirp of a passing Engineer briefly distracted him; he brought his plasma cannon to his chest and fired it into the creature. It wriggled before falling to the ground lifelessly. He'd asked for complete silence. There was a price for disobeying his orders. Two nearby Engineers halted mid-air, probed their dead comrade carefully, and then floated silently by.
      His prey must have been on the three Human dropships that made it off the colony world. The probes followed the cruiser they docked on to this planet. To a military instillation six units from his designated target. The Great Ones had apparently left an artifact of "great significance" on this planet. Though Shorak had never seen any of the other artifacts, which had all been of "great significance" at the time, after they'd been retrieved. This was a personal vendetta, and he wouldn't disguise it as anything other. If that meant breaking his orders, so be it.
      He checked his personal weapon, a custom designed plasma cannon, and grabbed several recharge packs. His plasma cannon was the same kind the Ghosts carried, but much more impressive. It's overload inhibitors had been "modified" a bit, and allowed for much more firing before he had to release the trigger. Special cooling canisters were also attached to the side, giving the already alien weapon even more defining qualities. His personal Ghost was stowed beneath the dropship he'd ride to the planet's surface. Shorak slid his helmet carefully over his razor-sharp horns, and grinned maliciously. All of the time, effort, and planning he'd gone through to kill this miserable creature was finally coming to fruition. His contingent of six extremely veteran Savages would accompany him, but they were only a distraction.

      "So I was face to face with the most horrible creature you've ever seen. It's teeth were gnarling and covered in blood. It was easily fifteen feet tall, and had a cannon on its back. I only had my trusty shotgun with me, so I pumped a shot into it. It's shields died and it roared. The most horrible sound I ever heard. He fired his gun at me, and it destroyed the only warthog in the garage. So what'd I do, I ran up to it, and slid under its legs again, and pumped a round into it. The shell tore across his stomach, and scarred him horribly. His blood wreaked of the smell of death, but he wasn't going to lie down and die. There was only one option, I had to warn everyone else. So I got on the last ATV there was, and dodged hundreds of plasma mortars as I fought off three Ghosts trying to kill me. I tell you guys, I must have been the luckiest son of a bitch ever." Daniel Finished his tale for the umpteenth time. It got better, and coincidentally further from the truth, every time he told it.
      "I think that smell you were talking about was bullshit Lombardi." His best friend Robins muttered.
      The table laughed. Danny had to admit to himself that he had only been lucky. But there was an unsettling nausea that followed him around.. He'd been fine the last three months, but everywhere he'd gone met horrible fate. Was it coincidence? Or was fate actually following him. He couldn't dismiss the feeling that destiny had a hard-on for him.
      Klaxons whirred to life. The intercom stuttered out a garbled message. From PlanCom. Planetary Communications was at the heart of the UNSC's military presence here. If they were falling, there would be nothing left to break the Covenant's assault. Though that didn't make sense anyway. The Covenant had only assaulted three planets with a ground force that he'd ever heard of, and they were all glassed afterwards. His stomach went wobbly.
      "Under heavy...all personnel should....incomi," The message ended abruptly.
      "You heard the man marines, everyone gear up and head to the ships." Commander Dobson said as he headed for the door.
      Daniel skirted closely to Robins. Staccato gunfire sputtered from outside. They were here. The armory was ahead, and there was a marine dispersing weapons as quickly as possible. The line of marines filed past, getting whatever was randomly handed to them. If this really was the same creature he'd fought before, nothing would be enough. They'd apparently emptied the shotgun and assault rifle racks; now they were handing out battle rifles. The gun, with two additional clips taped to the side, was forced into his chest; he stumbled along with the group.
      There was a light breeze outside. It brought the stench of death to him so he wouldn't have to wait for it. His gag reflex kicked in, but the lieutenant fought it. The thick clouds overhead were light gray. No rain, just the ominous foreshadowing of someone's fate. He hoped it wasn't his. Plasma bolts strafed through a team of nearby ODSTs. Helljumpers were only useful if they had a chance.
      Daniel's eyes followed the plasma trails back to the Ghost they'd poured from. But to his dismay and confusion, they didn't find a Ghost. They found a solitary Savage pumping super-heated matter into every creature that crossed its path.
      His eyes spotted something even worse before his brain registered it. A large diagonal scar exited the top of his chest plate. Lombardi was frozen in fear. The Savage aimed his cannon at the lieutenant's chest. But held the finger hovering near the trigger. A spark ignited; white teeth revealed themselves through his thin lips. He remembered.
      There was only one way this would end. Badly. The Savage began its galloping charge, and Daniel pumped his shotgun.
      "I'm gonna give you a matching one!" He screamed as he fired the first round at it. Symbolical, not fatal. The mighty spiked forearm rose up above Daniel as it neared. Nothing to do but take it like a man.