Posted By: Mainevent<email@example.com>
Date: 18 October 2003, 3:37 AM
Chapter Fifteen-One link breaks and it all goes to hell...
She edged through space constantly, never faltering, never grumbling, never asking for leave, she was the impartial workhorse. The Prophet's Will was entering the UNSC space, hopefully it was still UNSC space. After everything he had seen he wasn't sure what to expect anymore. Spartans that came from nowhere, a fleet to magically appear and save his ass, a Covenant ship modified and handed to him, and now an entire Covenant fleet and homeworld destroyed by a single ship. He began to contemplate retirement.
"She's still there sir, picking her up on radar now." Sahawneh gave a sigh of relief as his scanners picked up the two massive cradles and Abigaid's fleet. A tightly packed group of ships, with hundreds of Longswords, Corvettes, and Prowlers hovering majestically in the void. Their lights emitting almost as much reflection on the nearby moon as the planet it orbitted, a magnificent sight to behold. Capulet found himself many a time wishing he was free of the surly bonds of humanity. That he could be a comet and just sail through space freely.
The Captain ordered his ship to maneuver into the formation, ready, waiting for the unseen bastards to make their move. He noticed the ample point-defense turrets attached to the fleet's hulls, each rotating, panning, searching. Staring into the blackness, as though a lion was hidden in it's thicket, waiting to pounce. The metallic purple glittered against the reflection of the massive sun nearby.
A hail came over the frequency, a call from Abigaid himself. Shula patched the four-star officer to the Captain, who was momentarily distracted by a technician onboard. The General cleared his throat roughly, startling the ship's commanding officer, and ordering his full attention.
"This better not be a baseless call Richard, but I've seen your record, and your not prone to lie. I'm taking a risk with this maneuver of yours. I have ten angry Ship Captains and Station Masters at my throat, and they'll want an answer. Soon!. Now what is this all about? What happened on your mission?" Abigaid relaxed in his leather chair, a glass of some alcoholic beverage, Gin by the looks of it, was grasped in his hand.
"Sir, we arrived at Celaco as planned, but it was, it was gone."
"What do you mean gone?"
"It wasn't GONE, gone, but it had been hit. Someone, someTHING, got there first. The space station orbiting the planet was completely destroyed, we found seven carriers, all K.I.A., hidden on the moon's darkside, and the surface was lifeless. A survivor at the scene said it was one of ours, but I don't know any of our ships that could have done this. The Chief informs me that the perpatrators were some sort of robots. It's very strange, but they were heading this way last we heard." Capulet's throat was dry after he finished, and he took a long sip from the water hose strung through the headrest in his seat.
"Slow down a second, you say the ENTIRE planet was dead?"
"Yes si-, incoming transmission sir. Hold on a minute and I'll make it a fleet-wide broadcast." Capulet turned to Shula, and waited. The incoming feed was strange, a mechanical voice came over the speakers, yet it sounded eerily human.
"This is The Guardian. You have one of ours, and we wish him returned immediately. If you refuse, you will be destroyed, that is doubtless, but we will have him yet. What is your reply?" A split-second long pause broke the voice, which then started again. "I'll take your answer, or lack thereof, as a refusal to hand him over, most unfortunate, but many things we do are."
Capulet and Abigaid stared at each other over their monitors, confused and bewildered by the one-way conversation. The surprise of being asked to hand over someone they didn't even know they had was one thing, the micro-second to respond another.
"Sir, the Dawn of Dusk is releasing something, massive sir. No, not massive, tons of small things. Well, their about the size of a banshee from what I can tell, and fast as hell." Sahawneh's stress-filled eyes urged the captain to pull away, but it was a fruitless gesture. The Captain and General turned to each other, prayed for a victory, and severed the connection.
"Caprice, power up all of our point defenses. Plasma torpedoes, heavy machine guns, point laser turrets, everything. Charge the MAC cannons." A heavy voice gave the crew strength as they began their perilous journey. Capulet crossed his chest with his hand, and began his prayer.
"The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name' sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: For thou art with me; Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; Thou annointest my head with oil; My cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever." An amen chorused through the small deck from everyone, regardless of creed.
Vince and Devilfish were sitting restlessly in the Seraph's cockpit. Three hours of practice was all they were getting before taking her for her rounds, but the two veteran pilots had enough faith in their skill to believe they could handle it. They watched through their personal holograms, three-hundred sixty degree views of the battle, with no bulky metal or instruments to distract them from the battle at hand.
"You heard the man, the Lord needs a rod, and we're more than happy to be his instrument. What's our motto men?" Vince yelled across the pilot's comm. channel. "Sword of hope we brandish neigh today, may god have the mercy we do not!" Roard through his headset. Adrenaline coursed his steel veings, icy to the touch, almost burning.
Plasma engines whailed hauntingly to life, the occupant's realizing suddenly where the machines had gotten their names. The Seraph pushed forward, several hundred, or was it thousand, fighters stampeded towards him. The two space knights couching spears, and beginning their joust. Sprinting, racing, pulling, Vince's face was tough as diamond, his sturdy jaws clenched together, teeth grinding together. Two hundred longswords on his tail, unrelenting in their pursuit of death.
A slight beep alerted Vince that he was within firing range, and his targeting reticle automatically focussed on the closest enemy. Turquois spheres of death flashed forth from the Seraph's barrels. The small vessels surprisingly had shields, which flared brightly as they attempted to reflect or absorb the impact. They finally died, and the mechanical monster under the invisible cloak jerked from side-to-side as the blazing energy pulses hit their mark. It sparked at first, but soon exploded from a miniature core-implosion, roughly the size of a football field. Three nearby enemy fighters broke the debris wall that had formed, clearing a large hole in the dust.
The familiar sizzle of Longsword weapons fire shot through the perpetual night, tracer rounds illuminating the bullets' paths. A heavenly glow eminated from the field as white, reds, blues, and greens criss-crossed the battlefield. Two Longswords swept across Vince's bow, he jerked the stick back, barely avoiding their reckless maneuver. Four of the inorganic bastards were hot on their tail and closing fast. One was peppered with heavy weapons fire, whilst the other three glided undauntingly after their prey.
"I see him, there he is, lining up, firing, shit where'd he go, do you see him?"
"No, maybe he's, ohh fu-"
Vince closed his eyes as the fireball erupted only kilometers away. The Longsword's violent impact into the alien was catastrophic to say the least, as two more pilots lost their lives. Three of them grouped together in his sights, a horrible mistake on their behalf. A large green plasma torpedo carved a path to them before finally erupting in a controlled burst. Two imploded and the other was sent spiraling uncontrollably into the planet's atmosphere.
Four more Longswords overtook the Seraph from above, nailing two more of them as they did. Devilfish watched the monitor, commanding the small top-mounted turret on the Seraph, an unusually helpful device. His aim was precise as the small slivers of fate handed their recipients unwelcomed packages.
"Return to sender, BITCH!" Devilfish bellowed uncontrollably, the laughter his only remaining mechanism holding back the tears. A group of twenty smaller mech's ambushed a trio of Longswords, their lasers shredding through the metal like it was tin foil. Explosive decompression pulled chunks of human flesh from the burning chasis, blood boiling before finally evaporating into nothingness. Bits of bone clinked on the Seraph's hull as Vince made a sweep over the pilot's remains, silently cursing himself.
Three of the larger ones fired their bulbous laser cannons. The first shot tipped one of the Longsword's noses, but the other two were a dead aim. They passed through the metal hull with ease. The AI onboard the Barbarian sent out a small message to each pilot, informing them of the casualties they were recieving, as if the pilots weren't keeping a mental record. "Sixty th-four longwords have been dest, sixty five longswords have been destroyed." The reminder was a vicious barrage, and Vince attempted to turn the comm. channel off, but it was no use. He wasn't used to the ship's layout, so he was forced to listen unbearably to the live-battle report.
Two HE Anvil-II missiles streaked by, a close call for Devilfish, who muttered something to the pilot's in the Longsword. They had a clear lock on their target, who moved uncaringly through the void. At the last second, the missiles spun wildly out of control, and jetted harmlessly into the moon, into space, or burned up in the atmosphere. No one could believe what had happened. Their clear lock and open line-of-sight were uninterrupted, so why did they miss? The vehicle who fired the missiles met a tragic fate as another six fighters converged on him. "One hundred Longswords remaining." Calistro declared..
Hundreds of the critters were still zipping merrily across the field, unchallenged and unparalleled by the relatively laborious Longswords' wide sweeping turns and slow throttle. They made a curious decision though, as over three-fourths broke off the attack, and skittered back toward their ship.
"Ha! I think we did it, we scared the little buggers of-, oh hell." Were Delta Sixer's last words before the super white-hot Tungsten steel pulverized him on it's heading for the UNSC fleet position. Were they crazy, or just that ballsy? Twenty of the mechanized demons erupted from the MAC round's firing, as well as an entire formation of Longswords. The UNSC hadn't opened fire with their MAC weapons because of two reasons. First, there was the chance of killing UNSC spacecraft, and the second was the fact that it would do very little. The enemy's command ship was simply sitting unchallenged at the opposite end of the warfront, useless except for the single MAC round it dislodged.
Three more Longswords were taken out of commission amidst the chaos that ensued, and it suddenly hit Vince. That MAC round wasn't supposed to do any damage to the Fleet, but break up the Human's fighter formations, which it did a damn good job of. "Fifty longswords remaining." Calistro warned with discernable interest in his programmed voice. "This is Abigaid, all forces pull back to the ships, use our defenses to supplement yours, you'll need it." A welcomed gesture, but one that couldn't have been issued any earlier. The enormous numbers of vessels that would have been targeted was above the tracking computer's capabilities, and when it finally shorted, would simply begin targeting the closest moving object and labeling it as enemy.
He turned the Seraph around, the sight of four or five crippled Longswords struggling to keep up a disheartening sight. The much more agile and speedy "Sentinels" as their targeting computer suddenly read, attached themselves to their hulls. The ships' engines were sawed off, and the Sentinels disappeared inside. Bodies were discarded like old news into the icy cold, one being ground to a bloody concoction as a sentinel ran carelessly into it. The other marines were floating, dead from explosive decompression, wildly towards Heaven.
Devilfish couldn't hold them back any longer, and his tears flowed freely. His fingers wouldn't release from the trigger, as bolt after bolt of plasma scorched the sky. Three Sentinels flashed red before imploding, a sadistic chuckle coming from somewhere deep inside. Two sentinels were on Vince's tail, he couldn't shake them. The creatures were smart as well, and had quickly adapted to the Covenant vehicle's weakness. They struck quickly from the underbelly, and the vehicle's grav-pods were dislodged from it's body. The heavy machine collided with the Stringent's hull, digging itself into the Titanium-A plating.
The same two sentinels hovered demonically above the Seraph, seemingly relishing in their victim's helplessness. Vince could only watch as their weapons powered up, and readied to fire.