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Homeworlds X
Posted By: Mainevent<billygoat359@netscape.net>
Date: 18 September 2003, 11:57 PM


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Chapter Ten-Run forest, run....








      Cortana had been silent during most of the battle, most likely working on Covenant Encryption or deciphering the alien language, either way, it was nice to have some quiet. Although, he couldn't really call it quiet.

      The battle had been raging on for six hours, and the marines finally had the upper hand. They were scraping up the last of the covenant forces in the vicinity, and occasionally caught a straggler.

      Both wounded marines and covenant were taken to the field hospital, only, the covenant were losing limbs, not having them repaired. The doctors' laser scalpel bit into their tinted blue flesh with a fury. Some of the doctors even had an orgasmic shine in their eyes as they removed body parts left and right.

      The Chief was still at the covenant encampment, helping with the clean up, and also briefly searching for the artifact. Nothing was showing on his radar, and none of the tents provided so much as a hint of whether or not the Covenant had found something.

      Blackwell, who had a large gash down his right temple, and a bio-aid (biofome and several other dissinfectants wrapped with a large gel band-aid)plastered onto his arm, strolled into the room with a fleeting whence of pain.

"How bad is it?" John asked with as much sympathy as he could muster up, and that wasn't much.

"It'll heal."

"Any sign of the target?"

"None, but intel does suggest that we try a small cavern on the side of the canyon. It could possibly be in there."

"It's not, I've already checked the cavern."

"Not this one, intel just popped the lock on this one. A pretty tough nut too, whatever the covenant had in there, they didn't want to get out."

"Chief, if they released the flood, we could have a catastrophic outbreak on our hands." Cortana sprung from her slumber and was doling advice in record time.

"Relax, I doubt the covenant were in there."

"How can you be so sure?"

"I can't, but we'll find out. Sergeant, if you're up to it, would you accompany us to the cavern?"

"I've got a warthog waiting outside."

      A quick five minute ride brought them to a much larger entrance than the one they were at before. Both of the men in the speedy jeep were scanning the perimiter and circumference of the facility. A large round dome-shaped structure was protruding from the top of the canyon, just visible in the glare of the sun.

      This time, there were twice as many men as before guarding the door. The broken lock was visible as Cortana analyzed the situation.

"No apparent covenant tracks and no signs of activity that would indicate tampering. This door has been locked for, for an amount of time I wouldn't even attempt to register."

      As usual, the Chief was at the head of the party waiting entrance into the strange Forerunner facility. Shotgun in hand, and flashligt glowing merrily, the Spartan was waiting for the large mettalic doors to part.

"Open them Chief."

"How?"

"Interface me with the security-panel, and I may be able to figure the combination out."

      A small fiber-optics wire was strung from his wrist into a small slit on the side of the box. The keypad had been mangled by either time or forces unseen, but either way, there was an eerie feeling about this place.

      It was only a matter of minutes before Cortana had cracked the lock, record time for an AI to crack a system she had never seen before.

"All in a day's work." She chimed in with a rhythmic artificial laugh.

      An un-amused chief only slapped his head with his glove, and Cortana got the point. The air from inside of the facility was calm and stale. The thin beams of light from his flashlight and couple of rays of light lit up a mere shadow of the room.

      The Chief knelt down, picked up a loose stone lying on the floor, and then pitched it as hard as he could to the other side of the room. He listened for the echoe as it would lose momentum and come crashing to the ground, but it never arrived.

      He turned to the other marines, and then brushed past them. Saying nothing as he went, he strapped into the car, and then started the engine.

"Where the hell's he goin?"

"I dunno man."

      Pebbles and dirt all filled the air as the large tires grasped for a foothold. They caught, and the large vehicle jumped forth heading towards the compound. Several shocked marines jumped out of the way moments before the Spartan-warthog duo bounded into the Forerunner foyer.

      Breaks gave of a shrill whine as the car came skidding to a halt several feet inside of the facility, and the large headlights exposed over half of the cavern. There was, shockingly, nothing inside of this empty hallway. The signs of a once used corner were showing, as well as ancient equipment sitting dusty and unused in the corner.

      Time and weather had not been kind, as several large boulders had smashed in a large console at the far end of the room. The dust and suit that had settled over the ages was easily three inches thick.

      John's foot hadn't event hit the ground before a stiff crackle of an unknown transmission echoed through his headpiece.

"This is Office of Naval Intelligence personnel looking for Spartan designate one, one, seven. I repeat, Office of Naval Intelligence personnel looking for Spartan designate one, one seven. Please respond."

      Cortana said nothing as she pondered the message. The chief clicked his headset and spoke out, "This is Spartan-117 speaking."

"Please report to Alpha Base immediately."

"I'm sorry sir, but I have strict or-" He was cut off by the voice of another man, presumably ONI as well.

"I know your orders son, we have retrieved the artifact, and are awaiting your arrival. You are not going to rendezvous with the Suncoast. Please meet us at Pad-7 as soon as possible."

"Rog-" He was cut off once more as the connection was abruptly severed. He had a wierd feeling in his gut telling him not to go, but he knew he had too; he had orders.

      He made the brief drive to the base, and then approached pad seven. What greeted him amazed him. Seven Spartans were guarding the landing pad, Assault Rifles in hand. However, these Spartans were wearing the older Mjolnir Mark IV's, which were much more cumbersome than the suit he had.

"Ah, Chief, nice to see you. Please board the Pelican we're going to take a short ride."

"Yes sir." He knew better than to ask questions, especially of the ONI officials. He hefted his weight into the rear storage manifold, and the other soldiers did likewise. None motioned to him, and he couldn't tell if they were even looking at him, but he had the feeling they weren't.









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