The Enemy Within-Chapter Four: Ask, Seek, Knock
Posted By: Mind_Affecting_Parasite<email@example.com>
Date: 23 February 2004, 10:23 PM
A third beam of light crept around the corner, pushing back the darkness trying to consume the tunnels. Its source became dimly illuminated by the red of the adjacent door's locks. The figure kept his light active, as he spun and walked backwards, holding his shield and weapon in front of himself. Stepping into the radius lit by the stationary lamp, ever vigilant of dangers in the shadows, the Jackal assumed his position around the team's perimeter. He glanced up to see his immediate superior's face staring back down the hall. Jhignie was strangely assured at the fact that not only his kind were afraid of the Flood.
"Report?" asked 'Haeimee, Squad Master of the primary secondary search team, as the Elite he had placed in charge of the three creature scouting group approached.
Eile 'Syimas, an Elite, paused to look back to where he had come. "Nothing Master, only a little bit of slime," he answered, turning as his following two team members assumed guarding positions.
"That's all?" questioned the wary Squad Master, he was far from assured. One of the other secondary search teams had narrowly evaded a Flood ambush. 'Haeimee did not want to fall prey to another such instance.
"But," continued 'Syimas, stepping closer, plasma rifle still at the ready. "We did hear the sound of the Flood around us, as if any different from any other time, but all the doors remained locked."
The Squad Master sighed, still lacking peace within himself. It was un-wise to send the three down the hall, even if it only was a few units. He swallowed the lump forming in his throat as the door 'Syimas had just come through slid silently shut. The whole of the group was uneasy as Jhignie and his brother walked carefully closer to the door, making sure the door remained sealed and the gray metal did not yield to anything a Flood-colored green.
Soon, braces were slid into place over the door, hopefully enough to repel an attack from the other side. At least for a long enough time to escape. After a quick sweep of the room, four Jackals and four Elites funneled out of the far end.
"Halt," commanded 'Haeimee, holding up one of his arms. He had almost missed it, as he must have when he had passed this point before. Two doors were bashed in on the side of the hallway. But what caught his eye was the dim blue light emanating from the small room beyond. 'Syimas must have noticed it as well, as he took a step towards the broken and plasma warped door. "I said: 'halt!'"
The Jackals moved into their practiced positions around the Elites. Light shimmered off the surrounding walls from their shields, as they kept their eyes wide open.
'Haeimee keyed his comm link. "Dwegol," he said, and waited for the lazy creature to respond.
"Yes Master?" the Grunt replied, sounding like he had just been woken. Typical.
"I am on the way back to your position," stated the Squad Master. "But I am looking into something first, I will not be long."
"Shall I contact the Ship Master?"
"Yes, include this with the report," 'Haeimee terminated the connection and turned to the doors, not but a few paces away.
It was not difficult to pull the damaged door apart enough for entry. As the team entered, weapons at the ready, it was clear that something had previously inhabited it. Two small tubular objects sat on the floor, glowing a faint blue. A few thin sheets of dull material were scattered on the floor, and a black vest lay in one corner. A single locked door stood to the right, but somehow looked odd to the trained eye. As the leading Squad Master approached, it was clear the door had been hastily shut, from the inside. What suddenly struck the Elite, was that the work and materials laying on the floor were obviously Human.
Music pounded softly into the Warrant Officer's ears through his headset. Wearing combat boots and a deceased soldier's vest, the Navy pilot was hardly a Marine. But in times like these, everyone became a fighter and was used where and how they were needed. Derrick hardly remembered he was in a dark room on an alien construct. All he knew was that he was tired, sitting down and listening to his music. 'Metal' it was called, and most of his fellow fighters disliked it as much as he enjoyed it. Except of course for Sergeant Johnson. Derrick secretly enjoyed having to transport the tough soldier, and his music.
"Hunter," came a whispering voice over his radio, cutting off his tunes.
The surprisingly relaxed pilot opened his eyes to the foreboding dark of the room. His inner peace was gone, as he slid his hand to his acquired pistol and eyed his MA5B assault rifle. Warrant Officer Derrick Hunter turned to look at the man who had used the comm. A Marine looked back at him from across the threshold, fully alert and on his feet, a loaded and pumped shotgun in hand. Patrick was his name, and he looked uneasy. It was odd for him to have used the radio while so close to his guarding partner, it could only mean trouble.
With a quick gesture and short walk, Sergeant Ferring was up and wanting an explanation. Apparently, speaking across the room was bad at this point, so James made his way over to his CO.
"What is it Daniels?" whispered Lance, still a little tired.
"I swear I heard Covenant on the other side of the door, sir," he answered, holding his gun at the ready. "It could mean..."
Lance didn't need or want to hear anymore, he wouldn't take any chances. Plus, if there really was Covenant on the other side of the door, it could mean escape. A couple of clicks over the comms was all it took to wake the still sleeping soldiers. A hand signal was enough to keep them quiet and get them ready for anything that would come through the door. Sleeping bags were quickly stowed as the random assorted personal grabbed their things and brought their weapons to bare on the shadowy doorway.
The adrenaline pumped squadron was drawn into focus as Sergeant Lance Ferring spoke his favorite ancient verse slow and deliberately:
"Ask and it will be given to you," he began, sliding a new clip into his pistol with a satisfying and assuring clack. "Seek and you will find." Lance continued, cocking his weapon and moving into position. As the Sergeant raised his pistol and the door locks flashed green, he finished: "Knock and the door will be opened for you."
'Kxiasiomee worked quickly on the poorly locked door, and soon the lights glowed green. 'Haeimee crouched and leveled his plasma rifle, preparing to go in first, as all Masters did for their troops. The door hissed and parted, letting the darkness spill from the room beyond. The team's lights cut through the black like a hot knife, revealing silvery metal on the far wall. As the alert Squad Master slowly crept forward, something moved on both of his sides, just out of the light. A quick spin and pull of his trigger would have solved the "Marine problem" right then and there, but three trios of armor piercing bullets followed by an encore of high-explosive rounds and a single shotgun spread relieved 'Haeimee of the responsibility.
'Syimas saw his Master's shields flare and vanish before the hole ridden corpse crumped to the floor in a pool of dark purple blood. Two of the Jackals fired into the darkness on either side of the portal, but found only wall. The Elite heard a muffled shiiink followed by two metal balls bouncing towards him. All 'Syimas had time to do was jump towards the opposite door before twin explosions rattled his bones. A scorched 'Kxiasiomee was thrown into the wall, producing a sickening craanchck on impact, and two disemboweled Jackals to follow.
The single Elite and dual Jackals saw 'Syimas' prone form fly through the door and slide a couple of short units across the floor, followed by a wave of heat and flying shrapnel. Drawn by angered curiosity, the threesome ran into the blackened room apparently eager to transcend the bonds of physical life, only to meet a symphony of shaped alloy slugs. All before they could fire little more than a final quartet of plasmatic spheres into the surrounding churned and heated air.
"No!" shouted Reigando through the communications link. "Get him on the link immediately!"
Dwegol jumped, startled by the Ships Master's harsh tone, he almost dropped the device from his small hands. Shakily, he pulled the microphone back to his respirator piece. "Yes Master," he said, barely.
"I said now!" shouted an obviously infuriated Ship Master back through the speakers.
This time he did drop the piece of Covenant technology, with a loud pop onto the cold, hard floor. His two fellow Grunts snapped up, awoken, while the two guarding Hunters didn't even offer a glance. The accompanying Jackal turned his head with a "you're an idiot" look on his face.
"Do what the Ship Master says gas sucker!" the Jackal snapped.
All three of the diminutive creatures were still too shocked to respond to such insults. After a few moments of silence, Dwegol finally picked up the comm link device and set it upon its base. He quickly keyed in the command to contact his Squad Master, and readied himself to feed the connection through to the ship.
Six Covenant bodies stiffened as the signal came back as "connection lost."