Posted By: Mainevent<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 31 August 2003, 1:34 AM
Chapter Two- But I Was Just Getting Comfortable.
"Hey Lucky, get this bastard off my tail!"
The banshee sparked quickly, then imploded violently as the missile impacted the craft. Tango five swept through the debris of the vessel and back into the fray. Thirteen longswords were already engaging the covenant up ahead. He pushed the engines to full thrust and the ship pursed quickly forward. Two banshees converged on the rear of Delta Four, which was one of the longswords from the Delta Squad.
"The hell you say!" Vince muttered as he squeezed the trigger and laughed as one of the vehicles dovetailed violently into a nearby asteroid, and the other began leaking a semi-transparent fluid. Both were rendered combat ineffective, and so he moved on. In only a matter of seconds the ratio went from 3 on 1 to one on one. No matter how powerful the covenant cruisers were, their banshees were no match for the UNSC"s skilled pilots; which these days were becoming harder and harder to find.
The banshees began retreating, and Vince called off the attacks. Sounds of joy and exhilaration were echoing through the comm. channels. Suddenly, they got extremely quite.
"Sweet Jesus." One of the pilots chatted fearfully.
"What in the hell do we do about this Lucky?"
Vince's stomach dropped into his legs as he watched the covenant cruiser slowly come from behind the planet. Her bow lit up from stem to stern along her mid-rift. She was glowing an eerie purple and silently pulling herself through space like a sea creature.
"All teams return to the Suncoast." Came Caligula's voice through their headpieces.
"You heard the man, let's go." Vince pulled a sharp loop and sped toward the ship. The thirteen longswords under his command followed him obediently back to the ship. They docked quickly; the doors to the bay closing behind them.
"MAC guns to 100% Sir" Caprice said squeakily. The fear in her voice was evident, and the Captain could tell, but he would rather leave the crew's fears alone at the moment. He was very afraid at the moment as well. He had fought the covenant before, but never alone. His first experience against the covenant nearly ended in defeat. Two covenant cruisers and a carrier against four UNSC destroyers. His ship was the only one to survive, and she was severely damaged.
However, word of several stunning defeats had spread. Captain Jacob Keyes and the Pillar of Autumn managed to successfully take on three cruisers by herself, and another group at Sigma Octanus VIII. He studied the clips of the battles, and formed several published tactics, which proved extremely effective. His problem; the tactics he published had never been battle tested.
"Sir, we need to attack while she is out of range." Caprice Suggested.
"No, pull us behind these asteroids. Tell those fighter pilots that there going out in ten minutes. I want a HAVOK warhead attached to a missile. Then send them out."
"Aye, Aye Sir!"
The ship jerked suddenly as her engines created over one hundred million pounds of thrust. She moved quickly into place for such a large ship. Her figure hidden neatly behind one of the larger space rocks.
"Keep that MAC round hot and ready. How many do we have ready""
"We have two shots ready to go, Sir!"
"I am going to need both of them."
"Understood! Longswords departing now, may ask what there orders are""
"Tell them to take up positions behind the asteroids, and to not engage anyone unless absolutely necessary."
"Caligula, you have point defense."
Caligula's voice came over the intercom, acknowledging the captain's instructions. The automated turrets hummed to life, and the captain watched as the ones directly in front of the bridge activated. They aimed at some invisible enemy before them. Ready and waiting to make one more covenant an orphan.
"The longswords are in position sir."
"Good, now move us along this asteroid belt, and in front of them."
"Damnit Caprice, do what I tell you. Or you will spend the rest of your tour in the brig."
The ship pulsed onward, following the asteroid belt in its elliptical pattern slowly into open space. The enemy ship became clearer, and that much more engaging. Her figure was imposing and her weapons were even deadlier; the captain knew he would only have one chance.
"Sir, they're firing on us!"
He watched several blue pulses leave the cruiser, and streak straight for the Suncoast.
"That's right you sons of bitches. Follow me to hell!"
The pulses bit through the still space and tore after the Suncoast. They slammed fiercely into the asteroids protecting the cruiser. The pieces of rock, ice, and metal exploding into millions of shards.
"Give me a trajectory!"
"Firing solution in twenty seconds!"
The captain went quickly to typing into the small computer situated on the armrest of his command chair. He sent the message to an unknown source, and then smiled to himself. He gleamed at the ship before him, and then stood up, folding his arms behinds his back and interlocking his fingers.
"Firing solution ready."
"Fire at will!"
The ship shuddered violently as the first heavy round sped eagerly to its prey. It lurched again as the second round left the ship. The first red blob impacted the covenant cruiser; followed by a shimmer as the shield pulsed into action. It fluttered for a moment then disappeared.
"Shield is still intact sir! Should I ready the MAC rounds?"
"No, there won't be need."
Everyone on the bridge spun to face the captain, and he paid them no attention. The second round impacted the ship, and the shield popped momentarily purple, then blue. It faded altogether and the ship paused.
"She is getting ready to fire sir!"
"Move us away now!"
The ship's port thrusters fired, moving the ship slowly out of the weapon's way. The covenant ship fired at the UNSC vessel, but her plasma once again impacted the asteroids.
"Sir, we can only hide so long."
"I know Caprice, I know."
"Well, we need to do something about it."
"Something IS being done about it!"
"What sir? Those rounds did nothing to her."
"Caprice, shut up. Just watch the screen!"
Caprice glanced at the screen momentarily.
"This is Tango Five, we have lain the egg. It will hatch in ten seconds."
"Just in time Caprice, watch the fireworks."
A small countdown timer came up in the corner of the view screen.
10.....9....8...5...4..3..2..1...The flash was so bright all of the cameras attached to the Suncoast erupted into static. The covenant vessel wavered heavily and began listing to the left. Her metallic hull rippled once and glowed bright blue. Then another flash, this time her core, created a massive explosion which decimated the ship.
"Sir, all longswords have returned."
"Good, get us the hell out of here! Push engines to 150%"
"Yes, Sir!" Ensign Robinson responded.
The Suncoast throbbed to life, and moved forward.
"Sir, the shockwave will destroy the Suncoast."
"Turn us around now!" Cap ordered. The Suncoast spun slowly, too slowly.
"Caligula, random jump vector now!"
"Calculating, 5 seconds."
"We don't have 5 seconds!"
The space around the ship sizzled and popped, and the crew could feel the enormous G-forces which came into play. They could feel their bodies tugging at the floor, and could barely sit up. A bright flash encompassed them all.
In a matter of seconds they had traversed billions of miles of space. The ship exited Shaw-Fukijawa slip-space, and immediately began running dark; per naval code Border-45AJ65. Her longsword fighters departed the ship silently, like ants fleeing for a carcass.
"How are we doing Richards?"
"Ship at one-hundred percent sir. It's amazing! Your tactics were brilliant."
"Get me the nearest UNSC in range!"
"Sir, yes sir!"
His helmet smelled fresh, and pure, unlike the air inside of the Suncoast. He had been inside of his filtered suit so long, that he was accustomed to the pureness of the air. Inside of his armor, he was invincible. The air around him seemed to bow down, grateful to have him in it's presence, and truth be told, he enjoyed it as well. He had stopped by the armory, which had subsided in activity, and picked up some grenades, a pistol, and an assault rifle. The layout of this ship was different from others of the designation. At least by Cortana's schematics. He approached a small sealed door at the side of the room; Cortana opened it instantly. It led to a tiny one-way hall heading to the rear of the ship.
"You know, my statistics subroutines have been trying to calculate how many times you should have died since we have been together."
"Should I be flattered?"
"Well, if it's any comfort, my data comes up inconclusive. By all accounts, you should have died over 476 times by now. This conversation shouldn't be taking place."
He came to a crossing. The signs on the wall all led to somewhere he probably shouldn't be going. A blue arrow pointing to the left was painted on the wall, the words "Shaw-Fukijawa Reactors" written in white. A red square with an explosion adorned the door nestled down the hall before him. A green arrow pointing right had the words "R&D" written on it. Research and Development on a ship of this designation was abnormal, and appealed to his curiosity. Cortana, meanwhile, had an even larger curiosity, seemingly unwritten into her programming.
"We should probably go to the right, that is what my schematics show to be the quickest possible way to the bridge."
"Sure!" he thought to himself, and turned casually down the hall. He had learned from years of training and service to always be prepared to fight. ALWAYS! He jammed a new clip into his assault rifle, and cocked it. He slung the rifle and checked to make sure his pistol was fully loaded; it was. Between him and the door were four obstacles, two of them automated, and the other two holding shotguns.
He could tell that neither would let him simply approach. "This area has been deemed off limits per Captain's order Codec-35A25. You are instructed to depart this area immediately, or you will be summarily executed." The orders sent chills up his spine. He watched the 50mm heavy machine guns auto-target his body, and at such close range, not even his enhanced reflexes and body armor could save him.
The two marines on-station knelt down and instinctively raised their shotguns to his chest.
"Cortana, what should we do""
"Hold on chief."
The voice returned once more.
"You have ten seconds to evacuate this area."
"Hold on chief!"
"Nine, Eight, Seven, Six.."
"Five, four, three, two, on...line"
The guns moved away from his body and rotated to face two very surprised marines. Cortana's feminine voice echoed throughout the hallway. Master Chief's heart-rate lowered by twenty beats a minute.
"You are hereby ordered to drop your weapons, and any other materials that you may have, and leave this area immediately."
The shocked marines slowly disarmed, and put several strange objects on the floor beside their weapons. Master Chief approached the marines with a demeanor that made them nearly wet their pants. One of the soldiers broke down and began running down the corridor screaming. The other put his hands behind his helmet and quickly walked away.
"No need for thanks Chief, it's all in a day's work." Came the curt answer to the complement he hadn't even given.
He approached the weapons cache and took a knee. He checked the shotguns; in working order, and fully loaded. Next to them were several viles, all filled with a green gelatinous goop. Several small keycards were also present, and he quickly pocketed the viles and keycards, and slung the shotguns. Shimmering metallic doorplates glared off the Chief"s visor as he stared at the small black box which was the lock. He examined the small plastic card in his hand, and it took all of the concentration he could muster to keep from breaking the brittle card. His exoskeleton could, if left unchecked, create a force strong enough to bend a half inch of Titanium-A battle plating with ease; in his hand, a three by five inch plastic keycard.
He slipped it quickly through the designated slot, but to his frustration it didn't unlock the door. He tried it several more times, but it still refused to open the doors. He tossed it to the floor, and decided to take....liberal measures....to open the door. It was time to use his suit for it's true purpose. Something it hadn't been used for in over three weeks, and he was getting antsy to say the least. Not only did he feel a strange, unknown inferiority deep within, but he missed Cortana.
An inferiority complex was the last thing he needed however. The unchallenged, and certainly single most powerful soldier the universe had ever known, with an inferiority complex. Cortana would have a field day mulling that bit of information over, and would most certainly be filed to her memory.
Bones cracked as he balled his fist. He pulled it back, a feat which would for a normal human probably break their back and shoulder blade simultaneously. The keypad fizzled and popped as the lock was rendered inactive. He wrapped his fingers around the locking mechanism nestled behind it, and ripped it forcefully from it's resting place.
"Give me a moment to access the ship"s systems to open the door." Cortana joked, and even made a strange laughing noise to herself.
"You feeling okay?" He retorted.
"Why, I'm fine. What would make you say that?" Her voice suddenly much sharper.
"Never mind," he answered.
"Some things are just too complicated for a replicated Artificial Intelligence to comprehend." He thought to himself. He un-slung one of the shotguns, and took a knee as the doors opened. It was dark inside, and a since of foreboding ran through his normally steel nerved body. The flashlight made a loud snap as he activated it. The small bubble of light that penetrated the darkness was miniscule compared to the pitch black inside. He made a quick sweep of the immediate area; nothing. Suddenly, the room became awash in black light. His shields shimmered spectacularly in the aura created.
"Welcome Reclaimer!" The voice was like a gunshot to his brain. In an instant a waterfall of images from Halo rushed through his mind. Sentinels, flood, covenant, Keyes....they were locked deep down, and this was the key. He faced the speaker, and to his surprise found only a large metal container. Large metallic tubes and computers adorned the chamber from stem to stern, and there was a strange green shine coming from a small porthole looking into the chamber.
"Well, should we look?" Cortana queried; herself seemingly as nervous.
"Yes." John nodded, more to himself than anyone. Inside, was the small spherical silhouette of none other than 343 Guilty Spark. The monitor of Halo: Installation 04, as he was for over 100,000 years. He couldn't believe his eyes, and wanted to shake it off.
"I require the index reclaimer!" The blatantly artificial voice squeaked emotionlessly.
"Not again!" Cortana mused to herself.
"This is a secured area! You are not authorized to be here. Please leave this room, or appropriate measures will be taken." Came the deep voice of Captain Capulet himself. Master Chief slowly turned to face the captain, who had an entire entourage of Helljumpers; all of whom were aiming shotguns at him. He knew he could take them, but the prospect of fighting an entire ship on the other hand was daunting, and he really didn't want a fight right now.
"We were just leaving Captain." He responded, and strode slowly from the room, taking one last glimpse at the container. Once out of the R&D labs he entered the armory. Where ten more ODSTs had been stationed. All of them were wide-eyed as he entered the room.
"It's him!" One exclaimed.
Lance Corporal Hendricks stood and raised his assault rifle, but Master Chief had already moved behind him by the time he noticed. He took the Corporal's weapon, and bent it with ease.
"Shoot him! Shoot him! What are y'all waiting fo?" Shoot the bastard!" Hendricks yelled violently; flailing his arms back and forth. The other ODSTs began slowly putting their weapons to the ground, and Hendricks turned to face the Chief. He had two shotguns aimed into the small clusters of Marines, and at such a close proximity, would certainly kill them.
"I'm not here to fight." He exerted as nicely as he could in the situation.
"Well you sure the hell fooled us." Jenkins said coldly as he and another five marines entered the armory, and took aim. "We know your not here to fight, so put your weapons down, and we can straighten this out."
"You should do it." Cortana advised.
He lowered the weapons to his die, but kept his fingers on the trigger...just in case.
"So, it's true. There is a Spartan on board. I didn't believe it at first; I had heard all of the Spartans died on Reach. And then there were the stories afterwards, of one being rescued. From what they call a Halo or something. That's what that little ball in there calls it."
"His name is Guilty Spark," Cortana corrected, "and he isn't to be trusted. His protocol is most likely to slit your throats in some way or another."
"Why the hell are we talking to a big robot warrior"" Hendricks questioned.
"What the hell are you talking about Hendricks?" Jenkins asked, quite perturbed by the idiocy of the question.
"The Spartan, he's just a damn robot. And a female one at that!" He sputtered on and on, but no one paid him any attention.
"You obviously have no idea what the hell your talking about! So shut up." Jenkins ordered.
"But.....come on......! You're gonna let this damn mixed up robot experiment take over our jobs. I ain't one to just sit around and let a messed up thing like that take my spot."
"Hendricks, stow it, or I will put you in the brig."
"Yes, sir." He muttered to himself and moved to the far side of the armory.
"So what are you here for, and when did you arrive?" Jenkins asked seemingly interested.
"I'm not at liberty to say." John responded frankly.
"Didn't see that coming." He said with sarcasm.
"This is the fourth time in two days we have come under attack. What the hell is so important about us?" Vince asked the other longsword pilots as they conversed in the ship's lounge.
"I dunno, but whatever it is, it is important." Devilfish answered.
"Maybe it's in our cargo."
"Doubtful, I was talking to Joey down in loading, and he would have told me if there was anything strange going on."
"So there has been nothing new that may have triggered it?"
"If there was, he doesn't know about it. But! He did say something about a shipment of Titanium-A plates, but they weren't as heavy as normal, and he said that the scanners couldn't pick up the contents. Also, it was labeled by the brass as Priority materials."
"Why would they label Titanium-A plates as Priority?"
"Exactly, and why couldn't the scanners pick them up?" Devilfish leaned closer to Vince, "Listen man, if I'm gonna die because of some dick in brass, I'm gonna know why. let's find out what is in that box."
"That would be treason, and treason carries execution."
"Vince, do you honestly think, that they would execute two of their star pilots during this war. NO! They need every man they can get their hands on; especially pilots."
"I don't know man...."
"Come on Vince, I know you want to know!"
"Alright! Alright, I'll do it."
"Yes! Tonight, at 1100, you and me. Meet me in Cargo Bay A."