Guerilla: Just Another Tree Hugger
Posted By: Mainevent<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 24 October 2004, 10:11 PM
"Patrol!" The menacingly harsh voice boomed over the communicator nestled loosely in Shayap's lap. The tiny grunt's eyes jerked open in panic. He quickly depressed the response button and answered meekly.
"Yes Ship Command?"
He breathed an un-transmitted sigh of relief that he hadn't been caught. It was the second time in six rotations he'd fallen asleep on watch. The first time he'd only woken up several seconds before his watch commander came to see why he hadn't answered his communicator.
"Is there anything to report?" The gruff voice on the other end of the transmission rasped.
"No, no sir. Everything is clear." Shayap's eyes quickly scanned his periphery. Nothing overtly menacing stood out, which was good enough for him should something official occur.
"We have lost communication from a reconnaissance team. A nearby relay station has also gone offline. Keep a close eye out for anything."
Shayap's response was voided as the transmission ended abruptly. He wouldn't have to report in for another cycle or two, and lowered his head to return to his nap. Besides, he thought to himself, that relay station was a good ten kilometers away and on the other side the ravine they were huddled between. Whatever it was would have no need to circle all the way around to him to get to the ship. With that his eyes closed and he drifted asleep to the rhythm of his methane re-breather.
"Watch seven reports all clear Ship Master. It is most likely the weather interrupting our transmissions," Ship Mate Orga 'Eslemae proposed.
"That is a possibility. Scans do indicate a massive sandstorm where our reconnaissance team was heading. The relay station, and their communications, were likely disrupted by the atmospheric interference. Stand down the security alert, and send a team to repair the relay station as soon as possible," Ship Marshal Trashdagar grunted in the thick, slow speech common of Brutes.
"I will dispatch one immediately sir."
Trashdagar wasn't settled though. He wasn't at all happy with his own decision, but it was the most likely scenario possible. After all, there was little to no human military presence on this planet. The scattered remnants of their lost battle overhead, but nothing large enough to wipe out six ghosts and a relay station without being detected by the Redemption's Sorrow's sensor arrays. Though he had to admit; if the sandstorm was large enough to knock out communications, and human forces would have an extremely difficult time managing an attack. He knocked the thoughts around in his head, but ultimately decided that the valley offered enough protection for the time being. His decision would stay.
The ship went blurry before clearing as he zoomed in on the gigantic destroyer looming in the distance. Its purple luminescence sparkled under the heavy sun, and the blue column of its gravity lift made it seem somewhat like a gargantuan mushroom. His thickly padded gloves shielded his hands from the thick green thorns his prone body was camouflaged under. The bristling criss-crossing pattern did an excellent job of breaking up the hard lines and jagged edges of his armor.
It was strange though. There were hardly any troops stationed below the ship. A small ten or twenty tent camp was set up in a circular perimeter along the circumference of the gravity lift; compared to the normal full camp that most orbiting ships deployed. That made the approach both easier and more difficult. Easier in that there would be far fewer enemies between him and the ship, but harder in that should he be seen before getting into the ship there would be a massive welcoming party awaiting his arrival.
"I have a plan," the A.I. chimed in; her voice computerized yet so very human in its own right.
"Will it work?" the Spartan asked dryly, still assessing his situation. Less than thirty six hours ago he'd been running standard maintenance on his suit and enjoying one of the few hot meals he could get. That was before the Covenant arrived. Before he abandoned ship, and before he annihilated an entire Covenant reconnaissance team in the desert.
"Yes. But only if..." She stopped herself. To tell John what he'd need to do was bordering on repetitive, and somewhat hurtful she believed. This bred-for-war soldier couldn't possibly need some silly A.I.'s help in making a command decision. After all, he'd just killed six special operations Elites in cold blood.
"If we have a way in that is. My plan only works once we're inside of the ship and I can interface with the core system."
"We're not going in," he replied. "And what if there was another one?"
That startled both of them. Somewhat more Cortana, who silently berated herself for not taking that possibility into consideration. Another Covenant A.I. was very possible, but also ultimately insignificant. After her rendezvous with the Ascendant Justice's broken A.I., she'd formulated a brutally effective search and destroy code should she meet one again. Chances were that the Covenant used the same A.I. on every ship. As its horribly mutated structure, spawned from the worst copying algorithms she'd ever seen, indicated extreme duplication in an effort to mass produce them for fleet-wide use.
"That's a non-issue at this point. Once we're inside I can more fully assess the situation."
His response was silence. She wasn't sure if he disagreed with her, or if it just didn't matter to him. Her "mind" wandered over every detail of their history. And now it seemed that she finally realized exactly how efficient a killing machine he truly was. In almost every combat (and several non-combat) encounter he'd ever been in he was statistically outmatched 12.86: 1. She double-checked her calculations. Interesting. They came back different: 12.88. A point-oh-two error was extremely small, yet also extremely significant for her. In slip space, that mistake could have caused an entire ship crew its life.
John rolled out of the thicket and back into the dense forest foliage. He was partially hidden inside of a rotting stump; the cold blue-green metal of his recently acquired Plasma Rifle glinted faintly through the trees. A small, orange ball stood out like a flare in the dark browns and greens of the forest. The grunt was obviously a lookout, but an extremely poor one at that. The creature was sound asleep; only the rhythmic hum of some alien device and the shallow bob of its head acknowledged life. John squinted uselessly through his visor.
Cortana pondered asking why he'd stopped instead of easily killing the creature. But that would show that she didn't trust his command and decision-making capability, which could seriously hurt his performance in the future. An insecure Spartan was the last thing she needed during battle. So she watched silently as John stalked around behind the enemy as it slept, never knowing how lucky and close to death the miniscule soldier had been. She waited until he was safely out of distance before she spoke.
"That was a first."
"It was a lookout. An early warning is the last thing we need."
Streamlined green and black armor slid feet first down the valley's sloping sides. Dirt and leaves ruffled and obscured the path behind him before the Spartan came to a skidding halt at the base of a tree. His BPM monitor was steady; his heart beat hadn't changed a bit. He stood up and began a sprint before sliding into another trip down the hillside.
"This isn't very efficient." Cortana screamed into his ear.
"I know," John grunted as he rolled to avoid a massive oak, "but it makes our approach much harder to spot." And it's fun, he didn't add. It didn't fit his leader demeanor in the least, but at heart he was still the six year old Halsey had found on the playground. That warm, sunny day that changed his and everyone he'd ever met's life forever.
Cortana radio up linked with the small transmitter John had attached to the captured Ghost. She could remotely pilot the vehicle anywhere within a six kilometer radius. She received the signal lock and could "feel" its computer systems activating. Her systems also acknowledged the remote detonator attached to twenty pounds of C-12 piggybacked on the hover-cycle.
The Spartan came to a halt at the edge of the forest; roughly four hundred yards from the gravity lift. His enhanced vision spotted the incoming Covenant craft. It screamed past the two surprised Wraiths at the head of the Valley and was under almost immediate pursuit from three other Ghosts. A thick blue stream plumed from the back as it boosted towards its final destination. Trails of plasma raced to catch it.
Surprised Elites and Jackals took pock shots that boiled away at the strange alien armor. Cortana slowed the vehicle onto the gravity lift and turned it to face its attackers. Plasma bolts ejected from the double cannons attached to the front like tear drops. The three pursuing Ghosts dropped back and continued to fire at it from a distance. Their fire ceased as the gigantic beam caught the relatively tiny ship in its grasp and hauled it into its belly.
"Fools! They think they can honestly fight there way through an entire ship! We will show them the error of their ways," cried Field Master Okuga 'Kalemee.
Security details throughout the ship hurried towards the main cargo bay. Growls, chirps, and barks rolled through the shimmering halls as Covenant after Covenant hurried raced towards the action. Unfortunately Okuga's group would be one of the last to arrive. They turned corridor after corridor, hall after hall, before arriving.
He exited into the cavernous three-story vehicle and cargo bay. There were overturned supply crates and weapon charging terminals everywhere. Each with two or three eager soldiers hiding behind them. The static buzz of plasma pistols charging was a welcomed one, and the bright green balls of superheated matter all pointed in one direction.
The circular iris opened almost silently. The shimmering purple beam carried a single ghost into the pit. Nobody fired; the plasma would have been caught by the gravity beam and sent straight into the main reactor room. They were forced to wait until it landed to ravage these moronic humans. The Ghost, however, began firing wildly. Fortunately the beam deactivated almost immediately, dropping it squarely into the hundreds of troops surrounding it.
Okuga parted his mandibles in confusion. There was no one piloting the Ghost. He spotted a large white clump placed where the driver should have been. Atop it was a blinking red light; he instantly recognized it. He turned to dive for the door but was too late. The blast sent an enormous high-pressure heat wave outwards. A mushroom cloud billowed to the ceiling before flattening out and scorching the higher stories.
Methane packs erupted into grenade-sized fireballs across the deck. Ghosts, Wraiths, and Banshees reactor cores exploded violently; turning into giant fragmentation grenades as jagged pieces of armor pinged across the room. Crates of plasma grenades caught in the blast activated; resulting in smaller explosions nearly as powerful as the first. Elites' shields quickly failed, and their metallic armor boiled underneath. Skin was instantly roasted off of Jackals, Grunts, and Brutes as the heat sizzled through to the bone.
Okuga roared as his armor turned bright orange and boiled. He could feel his skin melting away underneath. A severed arm flew into his face and knocked him onto his back. Deep inhales were useless as the oxygen was instantly engulfed by the fire. His hands grasped his throat futilely before the razor-sharp, meter long sliver of armor came down like a guillotine onto his exposed neck. His head rolled quietly to the side, and the blood spurting from his neck boiled instantaneously.
He watched the Ghost disappear into the belly of the beast. It brought back memories of his own similar insertion into the Truth and Reconcilliation. His mind played back the ambush that awaited them, and the close call his team barely escaped from. The thought of hundreds of Covenant viciously awaiting his arrival paralleled the malicious grin that crossed his lips. The gravity beam disappeared as the ship's bay doors closed; the package had been delivered.
"Detonating in three, two, one," Cortana added a useless timer to John's HUD, but she didn't figure he would mind.
A tremendous rumble echoed through the ravine. The several kilometer long ship rocked slightly and its shields flared and dimmed. The bay doors transformed from a dark gray to dull orange from the tremendous heat. John could only imagine the hell that was the inside of that ship. But he didn't have time to dwell. At the base of the gravity lift the several dozen Elites and Jackals at the base camp were all staring intently at the mayhem above.
John sprinted for the small group of aircraft huddled to the side. All Banshee's, which meant he'd have to rely on his ninety minute reserves in the vacuum of space, but he'd already worked a plan for that out in his head. He traversed the four hundred yards in four point three seconds. The hatch of the aerial glider hissed open and his fingers danced across the controls. The control yoke unlocked and the small pods attached to the end of the stubby wings whirred to life.
The Mjolnir's shields flared as a group of Elites finally noticed him. He glanced quickly back, tossed three plasma grenades into the tightly packed group of vehicles, and throttled forward. The Banshee jerked into the air with the canopy still open, and the Master Chief hoped the thin harness would hold him. The grenades static-riddled explosion sent the now severely damaged aircraft spiraling in different directions. He struggled to keep the aircraft steady as he fidgeted with one arm to secure the craft. His finger slipped over the moist metal before finally catching hold and pulling the hatch down. He exhaled deeply and stared at the vast blue sky in front of him.
An already very long day was only going to get longer.