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Homeworlds XVI
Posted By: Mainevent<billygoat359@netscape.net>
Date: 1 October 2003, 10:06 PM

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      The doors were inched apart by an obscured figure. No, two, three figures. They wedged it apart with a discernable amount of trouble, but finally managed to unseal the room. Sellers' HUD read them instantly as Spartans Johnson, Shields, and Stillings.

      "What the hell are you guys doing in here? We're trying to finish an Op and ya'll are chit-chatting with an AI. Come on, if chief finds out about this we're screwed." Shields motioned for them to leave with a nod as he struggled against the door.

      Deja fluttered several times and then disappeared as Shimmer, Sellers, and Merendez jogged through the opening. Shields and Stillings rolled away from the door before it violently slammed shut again. Sellers knew there was more to Deja then it looked. The brass never put that much security on a door unless it was meant to keep someone out.

      The hallway was bristling with green-armored combatants, all heading for the surface. They passed by a group of two marines who didn't survive the battle, one of their heads indented by a forceful blow.

      General Abigaid was being escorted by Walker and Geran topside, where they would officially be done with training. Shimmer couldn't wait to fight some covenant one on one. He'd fought simulated battles against them hundreds of times, and even sparred with other spartans, but it wasn't the same. There he was restricted, but on the battlefield, he was unopposed.

      The sun had receeded to below the trees, but was still visible as they entered the open air. Merendez marveled at the sight of such a beautiful dusk, the pinks, organges, and blues all combining to form a wonderful color.
Although he couldn't feel it, his suit told him that it was a wonderful seventy degrees with a light breeze.

      Six pelicans were waiting for them as they rounded the facility's corner, and they boarded them quickly. Another trip to an unknown origin, Merendez had gotten quite used to them, but still never cared for them. It was a Spartan's nature to be deployed erratically and without forewarning, but he could handle it.

      The heavy ship took a laborious wide-sweeping turn as it attempted to position itself between a piece of it's hull and the incoming plasma. Capulet wasn't sure how much longer the Suncoast would make it, but he wasn't ready to give up on her yet.

      "Where do we stand Caprice?" Capulet asked the weapons officer solemnly. The mix of sweat and blood that dripped into his eyes stung, but the adrenaline blocked the pain. It had taken him several minutes to realise he had cracked ribs, but his attempt to rest in the Captain's chair made that more than evident.

      "MAC cannon operational, but barely. Recharging at fifteen percent a minute. Currently at thirty percent and climbing." Caprice had learned her lesson in the last battle. She wouldn't make the mistake of questioning Capulet again, and followed his orders unnervingly.

"Where did those bastards come from, and how many are there?" Capulet demanded angrily.

      "They came out of sub-space ready for us. Their plasma torpedoes launched almost immediately. Scanners picked up three medium tonnage frigates." Sahawneh, radar, scanners, and point defense officer replied.

      "What's our status Richards?" Capulet's voice broke as the ship shuddered from another impact. "Full thrust, line us up with that moon. Hide us behind that as long as we can. Their gonna expect us to just sit there, so pull us behind her, then sit us underneath."

      Roger that, heading to coordinates 110 by 255." Campbell responded. Video of Cerap's moon, named Pentagon, came into view. The Suncoast headed towards her at a painstakingly slow speed, Capulet mentally urged her to go faster, but no amount of that would make her do so.

      "Sir, we're in pretty deep. Engines at fifty percent, we only have ten .50-caliber point defense cannons remaining. Reactors running hot, ten percent probability of overload if we continue running them at this rate. Scanning is still operational. Hull integrity at fifty-five percent, and sectors D4 through G6 are uninhabitable."

      Richards finished his diagnostics report with an ominous, "All longswords, save two, have been rendered useless. Four pilots have been retrieved, and efforts are underway to save the other three stranded."

"That's seven pilots Richards, where are the rest?" Capulet asked with a look of confusion imprinted on his face.

"There are no more sir, they've all been destroyed."

      "Very well then, hiding won't do us any good. We have to fight these bastards the old fashioned way. Up close and personal. Campbell, turn us around and head us toward them, Caprice, fire archer missiles A1-B24 at them. Hexobar, clear out any uneccisary rooms and decompress them. Folgers, get me everything you can out of those engines, and Sahawneh, tell me what their up to before they know what their up to."

      "Aye aye!" Echoed through the bridge as the ensigns quickly faced their terminals. Fingers danced and keys crackled as a furious onslaught of commands were processed. Video of three large covenant ships appeared on Capulet's screen, light blue ridges of light eminating from their bows. Several streaked towards the Suncoast, and several of the plasma torpedoes landed their mark.

"Sir, torpedoes landed at our rear. Engines at forty-five percent."

      "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead." Capulet screamed, saliva and sweat hurling from his forehead and mouth as he jerked forward to face them.

"Shula, hail the frigates."

      "I'll try sir." The comms officer went to work, and to his surprise, recieved an answer. The hardened face of a commander elite appeared on the monitor, several jackles and grunts scurried in the background.

"What pestulance is this human? Can't you die like the rest of your kind?"

      "I have three words for you. Watch your back!" Capulet severed the connection as the elite began to speak, and was sure that he had royally pissed the opposing ship commander off.

"Sir, MAC rounds red hot and ready to toast." Caprice chirped in.

"Good, get me firing solutions with the frigates. Arm archer missiles C1-M24."

"Already on it."

      The Suncoast edged nearer to her opponents in a suicidal fury. The covenant frigates were charging more plasma torpedoes as Capulet received the firing solution. The Suncoast wobbled dishearteningly as her MAC rounds bit through space. The medium-tonnage frigates only needed one round to expunge their shields, and Capulet was ready to give it to 'em.

      Collison alarms blared to life as the enormous ship neared the covenant frigates. He was gonna run her up their middle, where the Suncoast was safe from fire from the third covenant vessel. Shields flickered as the MAC rounds finally landed, and the archer missiles were released. Rabidly chasing the MAC rounds were the several hundred high-explosive archer missiles.

      They erupted flambuoyantly against the ship's hull, tearning gaping holes in their metallic skin. Capulet could almost hear the commander elite he had spoken with cursing, and he chuckled to himself.

"Pull us up Campbell, let them blast the hell out of each other before they realise we're gone."

      "Gotcha!" Campbell responded as he pulled the ship from between the two beasts. Plasma torpedoes flashed as they discharged from the cannons they were spawned from, and surged for the Suncoast. Unfortunately for them, the large signature they were tracking wasn't the long-gone Suncoast, but the ship adjacent to them.

      Ripples wafted across their sterns as the super-heated matter impacted. One of the two frigates began spurting fireballs as explosions criss-crossed the ship. Her shields choked to life before failing once and for all, and she finally went dead in space.

      Her sister ship was peppered with chunks of debris nearly a half-kilometer across, and was knocked sideways. The single covenant ship left turned in a desperate attempt to flee, but was overcome by the hard knock of a colliding frigate. Both ship's shields flared and died, and the two bows met with a vengeance.

      Capulet whooped as he watched the chain-reaction, but was quickly put in his place as the two crippled ships stopped their deadly dance, and turned to face him.

"Caprice, how are we?"

"At least five minutes."

"That's no good."

      "Sir, it gets worse. Scanners detecting a large presence behind the planet. They'll be all over us in thirty seconds." Sahawneh interupted quickly, afraid of the Captain's response.

      The time seemed to go on forever as the two broken covenant ships before him powered up for another round of attacks, and a larger battlegroup approached from nearby. The covenant bows glared brightly, but something went wrong.

      Their shields flickered and died, and enormous holes dented the sides. A gigantic explosion began on one side and followed through the other as Capulet stared in awe at the screen before him. A similarly confused covenant frigate turned to face the direction of the attack, only to find four MAC rounds slapping her in the face.

      The ship's bow was disentagrated, and her hull began collapsing on itself. A core implosion began, and the plasmid metal of her superstructure shot wildly into space. The Suncoast would live to fight another day, but Capulet still wondered how.

"Sir, the UNSC Barbarian hailing us." Shula nearly screamed at Captain Capulet.

"Well what are you waiting on, patch her through. She did just save our life."

"You bet."

      The viewing screen clicked black, and then slowly tuned in as the face of a general appeared. He had an unusually large bridge for a ship of his size, and the appearance of multiple Spartans on the deck caught the entire crew off-guard.

"This is General Westley Abigaid, commander of the Twelfth Fleet, co-headed by Admirals Yamamoto and Arthur. We were just passing through, and thought we'd give you a hand."

"I'm much pleased you stopped by General." Capulet said with a smile.

"Are you capable of slipspace jumps Captain?"

      Capulet turned to Campbell who nodded, and then turned back to face General Abigaid.

"Yes sir, where are we going."

"You aren't going anywhere without getting fixed. Follow us to the coordinates being uploaded to your communications officer, and there will be much explained there."

"I have to pick up some men from the surface sir, and then we'll be on our way."

"No need for that, we already have them. We'll see you there. Abigaid out."

      The screen winked off, and Capulet turned to Shula.

"You heard the man, head us there. Caprice, your in charge while I'm away. If anything happens, wake me. I'll be in the medical bay."

"Yes sir. Campbell, head us out." Caprice liked the turn of events that had occurred, and was more than happy to be in command of a Cruiser in such a short amount of time.