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Homeworlds VI
Posted By: Mainevent<billygoat359@netscape.net>
Date: 7 September 2003, 3:34 AM

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Chapter Six- Unfinished Business

      The chief cleared his visor with the palm of his glove, and began for the battle which was raging only several hundred yards away. His improvements and suit made the dash in under five seconds. His first victim was a jackal unfortunate enough not to see him sprinting in his direction.

      The chief lowered his shoulder and bulldozed the creature into a near jelly-like paste. Using his momentum, he rolled shoulder first off of the body and onto his feet. He felt for his weapon, but it was gone. The gleaming shotgun was sitting, crushed, under the boulder he had narrowly avoided. A plasma bolt struck his armor and jolted him back into the action.

      The grunt brave enough to squeeze off the round was already chirping and screaming his way back into one of the buildings by the time the chief had turned to face him. Four jackals surrounded the chief, and were charging up their plasma pistols. Four fully charged shots from those would surely kill the Spartan, assuming any of the jackals were alive long enough to hit him.

      There was an explosion yards away, and one of the jackals was momentarily distracted. The chief seized his shield, and whipped the attached jackal into his comrade. John jammed the sole of his boot into the creature and tore the shield from him, arm and all. His near instantaneous reflexes kicked in as he quickly deflected a plasma bolt from one of the two jackals still standing. The shield dissipated in his hand, and the jackal behind him was recharging his weapon.

      The almost silent click of the trigger as he released it gave John a chance. He shifted his weight in the suit, and managed to lean to the side milliseconds before the superheated matter whizzed by. It struck the second jackal squarely in the head, and it fell to the floor squawking and fluttering. The last jackal left was pursuing the futile effort of recharging his weapon.

      The Spartan quickly seized one of the nearby pistols, jammed it into the creatures mouth (which was really more like a beak), and jerked the hammer four times. Fragments of bone, brain, and spinal column spattered onto the grimy blood-stained ground. The pelicans hovered in overhead, streams of gunfire shredded through the enemy encampment and fighters. Large holes punctured something inside of a medium sized tent, and an enormous plasmatic fireball wailed into the air. The shockwave cracked the dirt, which hadn't seen rain in ages. Dust launched into the air and cloaked the battlefield.

      The chief's motion tracker emitted a low bleep as two covenant combatants stole into the cloud, hoping to escape in the chaos. It was not to be, the Chief estimated their location and fired two shots. Barely audible squeaks were heard as two bodies thudded to the canyon floor.

      "Sir, all covenant forces have been eradicated. Two casualties, and four wounded. Nothing major, two broken bones and some rather nasty bruises." 1st Lieutenant Hector reported. "Forces are combing the area for survivors, and setting up a perimeter."

      "Perimeter?" Colonel Jordan asked. "Why are you setting up a perimeter? All of the covenant are dead."

      "Intel suggests a larger covenant base supplying this base sir. I thought it wise that lay a trap for them. I am having a group of marines patch up their buildings, and reconnoiter any weapons or technology they can find."

      The colonel sat his glass of bourbon on the makeshift desk in the command tent. His left eye, while having a large scar running the duration of his face, was functional. He stared into the lieutenants crisp blue eyes, and was reminded of water. Clean flowing water. The base had been forced to purify and cleanse their water for four months, or use any rain water they could obtain.

      Unfortunately this was during a two month drought, and the entire camp was getting extremely aggravated with what had been dubbed "Repiss." Do to the purification process where the urine was cleansed and reprocessed.

      "That's all good, but we won't be here for long. I sent a team into the caves, and when they return, we have orders to board the Suncoast. Our tour in this hellhole is over."

"Yes, Sir!" The lieutenant stood rigid for several moments before the colonel finally spoke.

"Will there be anything else lieutenant?"

"Sir, should I have the men set up a perimeter around the tunnels, or have a team clear it out before the engineers go in?"

"Yes, yes, do what you need to as long as it isn't here. Am I clear?"

"Yes sir."

      The lieutenant secured his gray uniform cap, and pulled himself into the warthog waiting for him. It's wheels spun dust and debris for several seconds before clenching the ground and finally whipping into the wind. The driver grinned as he bumped across the terrain. The gunner threw his hand in the air and gave a loud yahoo as they hit a particularly bumpy curve, on purpose it seemed.

"Sorry sir, but this is the most leave we have seen in three months."

"This isn't leave private, now drive straight or you'll be walking."

"Aye, aye sir.!"

      The warthog's pace slowed and it dodged any further obstacles. The vehicle hugged close to the cliff wall until the tunnel opening came into view. A small group of seven to eight marines were stationed outside of the hole, and waiting to enter. The vehicle screeched to a halt. Hector unsnapped his seat belt, and slid out of the vehicle.

"Here sir, you may need these." The driver held out a shotgun with his helmet hanging loosely off the barrel.

"Thank you son, I'll be sure and get these back to you." He took the shotgun in one hand, and the helmet in the other. He snapped the chin guard and approached the team.

"Welcome lieutenant, my men are ready when you are."

"Then let's go."

      The squad leader turned to his men, and they made two lines on either side of the opening, of four each. The first ones in line tossed fragmentation grenades. They made rather loud clacks as they bounced off of rocks inside, and there was a slight pause. The ground trembled slightly and debris shot out of the perforation. The marines were partnered with at least one other marine, and each were to stay in constant physical contact.

"Go, go, go!" The squad leader screamed.

      The team entered in twos. The first two marines in headed straight for the back of the caves, and knelt thirty meters in. The second and third groups entered simultaneously only seconds after the primary. They each took knees thirty meters to the left and right. The last group backed into the room, and knelt ten meters into the tunnel system.

"Primary Clear!"

"Secondary Clear!"

"Third Clear!"

"Rear Clear!"

      The teams slowly tightened their formation, until each of the groups met. They swept their shotguns back and forth several times before standing up.

"Alright teams, don't get cocky. Comb these halls and tell me if you find anything."

"Roger that."

      The lieutenant entered the cavern several seconds after Primary disappeared into a dark passageway in the back of the cave. Their flashlight's reflections were slowly fading as they proceeded deeper. Hector glanced around the dusty room. Dust, dirt and clay caked everything in the room. The ground crunched as when he stepped, and he stopped. He picked up his right foot, and then lowered it. The noise continued, and he nudged ground with his weapon.

      The gun dug in several inches and then made a metallic noise. The other six marines did the same, and received identical results. The lieutenant went to the warthog, and shuffled around the rear. The gunner stared at him blankly for several seconds.

"Do you know where I can find a shovel in this piece of shit?"

"Yes." The gunner answered, and then stood silent. The lieutenant stared at him, waiting for a response.

"Well, where can I find one?"

"One what sir?"

"A shovel you dip shit!"

"Why didn't you just ask?"

"Listen corporal, I am this close to busting your ass down to private, so watch it."

The gunner shrugged.

"Shovel is secured behind the passenger's head sir." The driver answered enthusiastically.

"Thank you corporal."

"I'm not a corporal sir, I'm only a private."

"You are now!" Hector moved his eyes back to the gunner, "And you are demoted to private first class."

"Whatever, LIEUTENANT. I probably won't even get out of this shit hole canyon."

      He unsnapped the tool, and then turned back to the cave. A .50 caliber round sizzled past him and sent a plume of dirt three feet into the air and covered him in the thick clay soot. He whirled around to face the gunner, who was laughing uncontrollably.

      The driver jammed the hammer to the floor and the vehicle pulsed suddenly forward. Caught off-guard, the gunner"s feet were swiped from him, and he was tossed onto the ground. The driver threw a thumbs up, and the lieutenant entered the cavern. He scraped a large portion of the clay off of the floor, to reveal a glistening metal.

      Crystals of some sort were glowing brilliantly from inside the metallic ground. He walked over to one of the walls, and dug into it with his utensil. A three inch thick terracotta brick nearly impacted his foot as he dug. A light beeping noise was heard echoing throughout the facility. It was becoming apparent that this was far more than any cave, but what was it?

      Several large pillars were situated in the room, and had been overlooked before. One of the marines slammed the butt of his gun into it, and dust spewed into his face. He gagged and spit out the dirt. Hector noticed large glowing panels, and even a monitor of some sort.

"Get me Cortana in here A.S.A.P."

"Roger that sir." The marine grabbed a small radio phone off of the back of his partner. "This is Delta Team to Cortana, I repeat, Delta Team to Cortana."

"Cortana here, I read you. How can we help you Delta Team?"

"We've found ,something, in the caves. We would like your analysis as to what it is."

There was a brief pause, and static filled the line for a moment.

"Roger that Delta Team, on our way."

"This is Delta Team to Cortana, I repeat, Delta Team to Cortana." Came over the MC's comm. channel.

"Cortana here, I read you. How can we help you Delta Team?"

"We've found ,something, in the caves. We would like your analysis as to what it is."

"What 'ya say chief? Up for it?"

"Always." John responded.

"Roger that Delta Team, on our way."

      Spartan 117 double-timed it to the cave, and had humped the half mile distance in thirty seconds flat. His boots dug into the earth as he tried to stop the half-ton armor. He braced himself before slamming into the wall.

"Whoa! That has never happened before." Cortana stated.

"This ground is...strange." John responded.

"Let's investigate, shall we."

"Ladies first."

      Cortana laughed inside his helmet. Large piles of dirt were stacked up in front of the entrance, and dirt was being tossed out of the opening. He peered into the cavern, and saw a large metallic room. Shimmering, glowing, and beeping surrounded them.

"Welcome Chief, Cortana. We discovered all of....this..on accident. Clay and dirt had covered most of it, but it seems to be working alright."

      The Spartan glanced around the room, and noticed several familiar symbols. He approached one of the pillars, and ran his large gloved finger over the ridges and grooves. A large grinding sound thundered through the room as the machinery activated. The all-to-familiar forerunner door slid hurriedly shut, and locked. They were trapped inside of the caves.

      A hologram of the facilities sputtered to life in the center of the pillars. It was a map of the cave system. It outlined the room they were in and followed the tunnels up into a larger cavern, some sort of a control room. The main tunnel had five smaller rooms diagrammed to either side of it. They each had an eerily familiar symbol, but neither of them could remember what it meant.

"I'll search my records for any matching symbols."

"No need, I think I remember what these symbols are."

Cortana paused for several moments, and then gasped.

"You don't mean. Impossible. They were contained on....but how."

      Blood-curdling screams echoed from the tunnels. Shotgun blasts were heard and several flashes were seen in the hallway. The clank of boots scrambling down the passage was heard. All of the marines leveled their shotguns on the hallway, but it was too dark to see into. There were no lights illuminating that particular section of the facility. However, the Master Chief"s implants heightened his vision enough so that he could almost see clearly in the darkness.

A minute passed, but nothing appeared. Several of the marines stood upright, but the Chief held his stance.

"I wonder what the hell that was." Hector said.

"Shit, that was primary. They never came back. We have to go help them." One of the marines said frantically. He rushed for the gap leading into the tunnel, but a large metal arm barred him. "What the hell are you doing? We have to save them!"

"They're already dead private. You can't save them."

      Suddenly, one of the marines rolled into the open. His body had been horribly disfigured, and there was a flood spore buried into his chest. It's comparatively small tentacles writhed around as it tried to dig itself in deeper.

"What the fuck is that thing?" A marine yelled.

"Help me get it off of him."

      The chief jammed his shotgun barrel into the creatures flesh, and squeezed the trigger. The corpse shuddered, and a green and red puss spattered onto his suit. A thin growl echoed from inside the vestibule. Several tentacles jutted out of the doorway. The now familiar figure of mutated human flesh struggled into the light, apparently unaware of the presence of other creatures. A shotgun blast to the torso was evident, and it was oozing a yellow liquid.

"Holy shit, that's Willy."

      The marine's voice sparked the combat form to life. His screeching wail was followed by a whip of his tentacles, cutting the helpless marine in half. The chief leveled his gun to the creatures ear, and pulled the trigger. It's decomposing gray-matter covered the walls, and it fell over lifeless. The constant click of tiny tentacles was heard ricocheting from the tunnels. The chief took several steps back, and aimed into the darkness. Suddenly, hundreds of infectious spore forms poured from into the light. They were on the floor, walls, and ceiling.

"Fire!" Hector ordered.

      Shotgun after shotgun fired. Their deadly pellets punctured the spore's thin membranes, and sent them furiously popping. An acrid smell, similar to that of rotten eggs, filled the area. Shells clanked on the metallic floorboards, and muzzle flashes brightened the room. Pop, pop, pop echoed over and over, almost muting the screams of the bewildered marines.

      The Master Chief fired several shots into the heart of the pack, and then tossed a frag grenade into the tunnel. A chain reaction of bursting spores followed. Two of the creatures hanging on the ceiling dropped onto his suit. He ripped one off, and tossed it into the shaft. He used the butt of his gun to smash the other into a meaty pulp.

      Hector waved his hand forward, and the marines advanced. Gunfire and explosions rocked the chamber. The suicidal bastards were dying in swarms, and the chief was sure there couldn't be many more. Holding his shotgun in one hand, he equipped his standard sidearm. At such a close range, and with so many enemies, his lack of aim with the shotgun was not a problem. He plowed through the enemy with reckless abandon. Pellet after pellet, explosive round after explosive round, each hit a target.

      He couldn't keep the momentum up for long however, he was running low on ammunition, and needed to reload. Hector realized this, and moved up to his position. He kept a constant flow of firepower reigning down on them. Another marine joined Hector as the chief reloaded his weapons. The group kept this up and gained ground, eventually making their way into the adit.

      Unlike his previous encounter with the flood on Halo, these doors were not pried open, but unlocked. Possibly a booby trap for any trespassers. Surely not, as hard as the Forerunner worked on Halo to keep them contained, that would be reckless. Could the covenant have unleashed them during the excavation? Highly unlikely from the fact there were no combat forms inside. What then could have opened the doors, or better yet, who.

      The clay covered walls were musty, and their pungent smell gagged several of the marines. Open doors lined the walls, and there were several odd markings in the room. Hector equipped his camera and too several pictures of each of the markings. An dull blue light flickered at the head of the shaft. It opened into an enormous three-story stone room. Strange machines adorned the walls, and several bench-like tables snaked through the center.

      The alien tongue was scrolling across the monitors. Even though he was unable to speak the garble, he could tell there was a sense of urgency in the messages. As if the characters portrayed some deep emotion inside of him, he knew they needed to leave.

"We're going to check out these computers, and see what we can find." A tall marine said.

"Cortana, can you understand any of this?" Lieutenant Hector asked quietly, almost whispering.

"No lieutenant, this is as foreign to me as it is to you."

      The chief's heavy boots clanked as he walked. Their was an unusual lack of topsoil in this room alone, and that bothered him. The foreign interior was cold and hostile, and it's strange architecture made it uninviting to say the least. This room was never meant for anyone other than the Forerunners themselves.

"This is Charlie Three Four, I repeat, Charlie Three Four. Incoming birds at fifteen hundred and closing."

"Roger that Charlie Three Four, backup is on the way." Pelican pilot Sven Straumberg replied.

      Fifteen covenant drop ships were closing fast, and had banshee support. The marines were already in defensive positions, but they weren't going to hold out long against that kind of firepower. The scorpions roared over the group of small hills and into the remnants of a covenant base. Several of the larger tents had been modified for the behemoths to sit and wait. The marines were laying a trap, and these mechanical monsters were the leverage they needed to gain the upper hand.

      A mine field had been hastily dug, and were going to leave a bad taste in the new arrivals" mouths. The Sergeant watched them blinking merrily through his eyepiece. Every mine had a small invisible beacon that allowed the marines to recognize them. The last thing they needed was for their own men to go running into battle, only to get blown to hell by UNSC mines. He hadn't activated the deadly munitions, just in case.

      The snipers had moved during the break, and set themselves up in a nearly invisible position. Surrounded by shadows and foliage, the covenant would have a hard time tracing the shots. The rocketeers made small booby traps inside of the covenant compound; setting up 102mm surprises for anyone unfortunate enough to retreat hastily into the campus.

      A large cloud of dust was visible on the southern horizon, and approaching quickly. The covenant craft shimmered in the sunlight, and their steady hum echoed through the valleys.

"Keep it tight people, I want a suppressing fire, and don't go easy on the mayo."

      In a matter of minutes they were hovering overhead. They slowly set down on the floor of the canyon. Eight elites sprang from each side of the ships. Four of them had plasma swords, and the other four wielded plasma rifles. Some of them took a squatting posture and sniffed the air around them. They looked oddly similar to a velociraptor, and in many ways acted like the animals of old.

"Oh shit, Suncoast intel suggests another larger detachment ten minutes behind this one. It was a diversion, to get us in the open and run our ammo down. Cease fire, I repeat, cease fire."

      Marines called in their statuses and kept their marines in check. The elites scrambled to the large pits dug by the marines, and several took large leaps into the stash of bodies. They were evidently searching for something, but no one knew what. The others began meandering through the buildings.

"Where do you think it is 'Salemee?"

"I don't know 'Portumee. It's here somewhere though. If those wretched humans didn't find it."

      The elites were furiously scratching at the bodies of their fallen comrades. They tossed the grunts and jackals from the pits as though they were mere rag dolls. The smaller creatures were more of a cannon fodder to 'Portumee, and he had a vile disgust for them. He couldn't deny their usefulness however, and snapped at any chance he got to send them marching to their deaths.

"It's not here 'Portumee!"

"I am quite aware of that 'Salemee."

"Well, where do we search next?"

"We will look inside of the buildings, if they found it, then it will be hidden in one of them."

      The two elites scurried from the bloody hole and shook themselves. The odor perpetuating itself through their nostrils was most foul, and gave 'Salemee a headache. 'Portumee firmly gripped the hilt of his plasma sword, and activated the device. Air sizzled and popped as it bit the ozone.

"The humans may be extremely ugly, and insignificant in the future of our race, but they aren't stupid. Keep your senses about you." 'Portumee advised.

"Yes sir!"

      They circled the base twice, cautiously deciding on which approach would be the safest. 'Portumee did not doubt that the humans had set up countless traps, but that would not deter him from finding the object. They found an area at the rear of the base; a small crack they could squeeze through. 'Salemee went first, followed by 'Portumee, and finally by 'Rendagal. 'Rendagal was a commando elite and 'Portumee's commanding officer. He was the one leading this expedition.

      'Portumee took the lead, and began moving cautiously throughout the compound. But it was taking far too long for 'Rendagal. He pulled 'Portumee back and took the lead. 'Portumee was furious at this, and wanted to attack his commanding officer. 'Salemee noticed this, and held 'Portumee back for a moment.

"If he wants to go blazing ahead like a fool, let him be. See what comes to him."

      'Portumee grinned maliciously at the thought of taking over this elite squad. He watched the Commander blaze carelessly through the alleys. He was no more paying attention to possible booby traps than a grunt would, and that was very careless, especially for someone of his stature and prominence.

      The two elites slowly moved between the compound's many alleys, and checked every possible place for traps. An enormous report echoed through the canyon as a small column of fire topped the buildings. 'Salemee thought he heard a slight laugh from 'Portumee, but his companion was already heading in the direction of the blast.

      'Portumee approached 'Rendagal's corpse, which had been violently shredded from the blast. He knelt down beside the body, and procured from it the plasma rifle he was carrying. 'Salemee waited fifteen meters from the body, repulsed by the stench of roasted flesh, already spreading through the complex.

      'Portumee's attention was pulled from his comrade's carcass by a heavy click, click. 'Salemee had heard it as well, and snapped his eyes onto something distorted hidden inside of the building. Smoke was slowly bellowing from it. 'Portumee knew instantly what the object was, as he had seen it many times on the battle field. The humans held it on their shoulders, and it fired small flying grenades.

      It's double barrels were rotating in the device's mechanism. It was cycling for another fire! A million thoughts raced through his mind, and he looked pleadingly to 'Salemee for a solution. His alien heart pulsing violently echoed through his ears. 'Salemee was pleading for 'Portumee to run, but it was too late.

      The elite was barely on his feet when the rocket slammed into him. It's shaped charge impacted his shields, which briefly shuddered and then failed. The force shattered his skull and chest, and mushroomed into the air. 'Salemee gave out a throaty roar in response to this human deceit. He would have his revenge, if it was the last thing he did.

      First thing first, however, he had to get out of this camp alive. Fortunately, backup would arrive shortly, and then those humans would pay for what they had done. They would learn the wrath of the covenant, and especially of Ramu 'Salemee. He was very weary of this upcoming battle though. Rumor had been spreading that a lone soldier had single handedly destroyed an entire covenant armada at the ancient Forerunner ringworld of Halo. He also had a string of victories following this, but the prophets strongly denied his existence.

      If this human was here, this battle was about to get very interesting. 'Salemee was convinced, either through his own ego or foolishness, that he would prove victorious over this nuisance. He wondered what had happened to the rest of his elite counterparts, they should have long been at the explosion.

"This is Commander 'Salemee, I would like to speak to the lead transport of the reinforcement team."

"This is 'Ahabule. What does the excellency request?"

"How far are you from my position, and can you get here faster?"

"We are two units from your location commander, and we may be able to get there in one and a half."

"Excellent, and be fully prepared for a counter-attack. We will teach these vile primates once and for all."

"Yes commander."

      'Salemee closed his comm link, and slowly backtracked his steps. But the foot prints he was following were not his. They were too large to belong to him, and seemed to be at least four units larger. Glass crackled under his spiny toes as he trudged cautiously through the buildings. One of the doors whammed open in the wind, and startled 'Salemee. Instinctively, he activated his plasma sword, and took several unnerving lashes at it.

      It took him several seconds to realize his folly, and finally calm himself. This was the first time he ever felt nervous, but he wasn't supposed to be nervous. A few pathetic humans making a commando elite nervous was unheard of, but it wasn't a few humans, it was one. They called him "The Green One", and said he was sent by the under gods to destroy the covenant.

      The humans had too been sent by the under gods, and this was intolerable. The under gods were vile and disrespectable creatures. In the beginning there were the elder gods and the younger gods. But a horrible fight between the younger gods split them into two groups, the high gods and the under gods. The under gods had lost the first war, but had not been destroyed. The three factions lived from henceforth in disharmony.

      The under gods being the most hostile and resentful because of their loss to the high gods. They betrayed the high gods, and killed them all in a fit of rage. The all-knowing high gods had seen this treachery coming, but also knew it was inevitable. So they created a perfect race, a race that they were sure would destroy the under gods.

      'Salemee smiled to himself, knowing that this perfect race was his. The covenant was willed by the high gods to destroy mankind once and for all, and to rid the universe of any sign of the under gods. This he would see to personally. This had to be true, he had read the holy books himself. He was quite baffled at the texts he had read though.

      The books spoke of another race, created by the elder gods to destroy both the high and under gods. Unfortunately this race was too vicious to be controlled by the elder gods, and eventually turned on them. 'Salemee felt contempt growing at both the flood and the humans for what they had done. The elder gods were the most respectable of all of the gods, and the flood eradicated them.

      This didn't make sense to 'Salemee though. How could a race as devolved and stupid as the flood destroy the elder gods" He wasn't sure what the answer was, but the past was the past. He was looking to the future, and that was now. He could hear the rumbling of plasma thrusters as the dropships neared, and it was a beautiful sound.

"Here they come, get the rockets and mortars ready ladies. Show these bastards some fireworks."

"Rockets ready sir."

"Mortars ready sir"

"Good, wait for my signal. Activating the mines."

      The long scar running down his chin elongated as he grinned readily. They were in for a huge surprise when they landed, and he was ready to welcome them the marine way. With a fine china of heavy explosives and 12.7mm utensils, this dinner was going to be very eloquent.

      The alien transports hovered above the mine field for several minutes, and finally began descending. Their thrusters kicked up dust and dirt on their spiral decline. The long side bays on the ship opened cautiously, and it's occupants were already combing the area. Their visual sweeps wouldn't save them though.

      Plumes of gore-covered clay shot into the air as the enemy poured from their containment seats. Several grunts were taken out at once when a mine detonated all of their plasma grenades, and an elites leg was shorn from his pelvis with a violent passion. He lived though, and that meant he was still very deadly. A small group of four or five jackals tried to created a shielded circle formation, but they all converged on a mine. It was almost sad to see them slaughtered so quickly, and so violently.

      There were more than enough of the alien bastards to deal with though, and the marines were ready to do so. After the initial attack, the covenant forces were stunned, and began to regroup. They weren"t sure if they had just come under fire from active forces, or if this was an elaborate trap. Unfortunately for them, it was both.

      Eight elites systematically dropped dead from forces unseen, and sent the cannon-fodder grunts in a mad dash for the compound. Mortarmen dropped the airborne munitions into their firing tubes and listened to the familiar squeel and plunk of the device as it was shot on it's way. MLRS chassis shook on their foundations with only two metal arms to save them from a disastrous topple.

      Earthquake sized vibrations echoed through the ground, sending fissures erupting throughout. The covenant were getting hit from every angle, and they still didn"t know where it was coming from. Plasma bolts were sent flying wildly into the air only to sizzle, sputter, and pop after they had cooled.

      Covenant tents detonated as small packs of C-4 were tripped by careless combatants fleeing for their lives. Blood drenched the ground, soaking deep into the soil. There were still an enormous amount of covenant to conted with, however, and the marines were ready. Once all of the mines had discharged, it was a simple push into the complex, which had been specifically targeted by a special group of mortarmen and MLRS systems alike.

"Charge!" Came the resounding order that echoed through the canyons.

      A loud war cry went up from the humans, who took the offensive. All of the covenant, if not already extremely terrified, were now. Masses of humans swarmed into the perimeter of the base. Suddenly, 50mm munitions were sizzling in the direction of the alien scum from entrenched marines, who had dug themselves in.

      Shields shimmered as elites tried to dodge the voracious onslaught, and several grunts were torn apart from the large caliber ammunition. One jackal turned his shield to block the rounds, but their impact knocked him several feet back, and then pulverized his corpse.

      The covenant were not to be had though, and a mighty war cry erupted from several elite's mandibles. The retreating force, all stopped and their tracks, and turned to face their enemy. Stubby legs waddled as they returned their human counterpart"s favor. Plasma bolts and bullets crisscrossed the circumference of the valley, with warriors falling on both sides.

      Assault rifles and shotguns thunderous reports reverberated throughout. Plasma bolts made a light thump as they were fired, and the silent killers found multiple targets. Needler ammuniton was shot wildly into the air, hitting as many friends as foes. Columns of debris towered into the wind as fragmentation and plasma grenades exploded.

      "Watch this!" said a sniper to his spotter as three unaware grunts all filed into his sight. He calmly squeezed the trigger and felt the kick in his shoulder as the weapon discharged. The bullet whizzed past several lucky covenant and finally into it's prey. A methane jet shot from one of the grunt's packs. He feverishly clawed at his face mask before finally keeling over.

"Tic-tac-toe." His spotter chuckled.

      "That's all great and all, but watch this." One of the other snipers cocked a wry grin as he sighted one of the enemy. Perfect, an apparently confused elite stumbled into his line of sight, and the sniper let out a hardy laugh. He jerked the trigger, and the bullet fled the barrel.

      All of the snipers watched the bullet head for it's prey, but something went wrong. In a split second, a wily marine, unaware of his tragic mistake, ran into the bullets path. It shattered the young man's helmet, broke into tiny shards, and then proceeded to exit through his face. A jet spray of gray matter and blood evaporated as they collided with the shocked elite's shields.

"Son of a ........"

"Mary mother of........"

      The snipers placed the butt of their guns firmly into their shoulder, and then sighted the alien commander who had gotten away from the first shot. He wouldn't get away from the second. Eight rounds flew steadily to their target, and the elite"s head evaporated. There was no visible trace of his cranium anywhere, and the cut looked like it had almost surgical precision.

      'Salemee was caught offguard by the humans yet again. This attack was very fierce, and his teams were taking heavy casualties. The roars of enraged fighters, and the moans of the wounded wrapped him in an audial blanket. He couldn't get the thoughts out of his head. His world was shrinking around him, and he was blindly walking backwards. Unaware of his movements, he barely missed tripping another of the traps, his front foot even sent a twang through the taut wire.

      The unfamiliar sound of the metal ripple caught his attention and sent him back on track. He surveyed his surrounding and then disappeared down a smaller isle. There was no reason dying here, or dying at all for that matter. He found one of the larger tents, and noticed a strange flap on it. He figured this would be the easiest and quietist to get out of without a door, and pulled the flap up over his head. What he found staring him in the face was one of the human war machines.

      It produced an excruciatingly loud noise as the mechanical servos in the large turret whined to life, turning the enormous barrel to face him. In a matter of seconds it was centimeters from his mandibles, and he could smell the dusty metal. Panic struck, he could do nothing. It was as though he was watching from outside his body as the humans prepared to fire.

      He took a deep swallow, and his saliva felt thick in his throat. Strangely, he leapt onto the barrel, and wrapped his arms around it. Clasping it in a death grip, the humans could do nothing but watch in amusement and confusion. They tried several times to shake him off by moving him abruptly back and forth.

      He slipped halfway off of the machine, and his chest was centered with the large round that was eagerly waiting to tear through him.