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The Enemy Within-Chapter Nine: The Light at the End of the Tunnel Turns Red
Posted By: Mind_Affecting_Parasite<pbplayer@yahoo.com>
Date: 14 May 2004, 3:12 PM

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       The blue film, backlit with plasma and fire, brightened and popped. The flaming wreckage of a dropship fell forward and slammed into the non-active Wraith on the hangar floor. A ball of fire and glowing metal shards expanded into the area, taking out two Shades in the miniature inferno. All at once, the remaining plasma turrets opened fire, not waiting for the hundreds of threats to make the first move. The first five trios of burning purple plasma lashed out at the doorway. The rapidly advancing Flood army sped right into the hail of fire, mindlessly throwing themselves at their enemy, eager for the taste of blood. The lances of super heated and electrified gases seared through the foremost Flood forms; turning the soft tissues into carbonized dust.
       The advancing mutant corpses suffered multiple plasma punches, but refused to let up. One in particular, a former ODST, took a hit in the right side of her chest cavity; instantly killing the fledgling Infection form inside and blowing a melon-sized chunk out of her transformed body. The smoking ends of her brittle ribs, along with half of her rotting respiratory system, werevisible to the Covenant forces for mere units before two more plasma discharges put the woman out of her hellish misery. A fog of smoke and airborne particles of scorched rotten flesh began to rise, and fill the large door. More Flood still came forward; running, waddling, and bouncing towards the food they sought. Tentacle filled limbs–bulging with expanding, rotting muscle tissues, splitting open the ragged skin–flew through the air. Decomposing body parts splashed across the pink and purple hued deck plates as they were separated from their bodies. Pools of green blood and gore spread across the floor, occasionally evaporated by stray plasma fire. The Covenant, however, had been prepared. The tsunami of Flood was stonewalled at the hangar's portal. Nothing could pass the scene from hell over the threshold of the ship's bay.

       All of a sudden, the wave of Flood stopped, as if a giant faucet had been turned off. The last of the formerly advancing Flood forms toppled backwards out of the docking bay's unprotected door. 'Ipnaimee raised himself slowly from his crouch, his muscles still tense. The vary active Shades ceased fire, revealing the smoking berm of bone and flesh adorning the portal. Body forms were barely discernable in the mess, the cratered and glowing surface still bubbling.
       "Me kill it!" enthusiastically shouted a Grunt from the ground floor, in its' high-pitched voice, as it scurried out from behind a crate.
       The Grunt's more cautious companion poked its' head out from behind the same crate. "Very quiet now..."
       'Ipnaimee surveyed the damage as the few Engineers in the nearby areas of the ship were herded towards the shield controls and emitters. With a flick of his wrist and wave of his arm, the Field Master signaled for the Grunts to be put to work. All of the Grunts in the hangar were forced towards the carnage on the floor. They began the grisly task of shoving the smoking flesh out of the ship bay.
       "No..." one of the Grunts moaned.
       As they worked, the commanding Elite continued looking over what had occurred. The two Elites that had been manning the crushed Shades lay sprawled out on the floor in unnatural positions, blown away from the wreckage as they attempted to escape.
       The still nervous Field Master ordered the external lights to be pushed to maximum levels. 'Ipnaimee held his breath as the light spread out into the tunnel. He exhaled in relief as he saw no movement, and no Flood forms ready to rush forward. Death, however, was present in the large passage as well. Scores of Flood corpses littered the surfaces of the tunnel, as well as a few Covenant ones at the far end. The remaining half of the cut-in-two dropship still sat motionless on the bottom of the round passage; with 'Meiwonase, the former pilot, slumped out of the cockpit. With his monocular, 'Ipnaimee again glanced down the large tube. The porch at the end was piled with former Flood forms, mixed with the two Hunters who had been on the platform when it was overcome.
       "Send a report to the Ship Master immediately," he ordered, as the last of the roasted Flood bodies were pushed over the edge of the large opening.
       Saeis 'Itlaee turned from his ordering of another soldier and looked at his commanding Elite. "I will make the report in person," he put forward, not wanting in the least to stay in the room where he was.
       "Very well," the Field Master answered, turning back towards the single active docking bay door shield.        'Itlaee spun on his boot's heal and made his way quickly through the nearest door, deeper into the Impending Incursion.

       Having not been on Halo for that long, the Covenant forces present did not realize the danger they were in. None of them knew how fast the Flood learned, and how many tactics they could implement. A rude awakening was waiting for them, possibly a short time in the future.
       Unknown to the crew of the alien vessel, docked and anchored to the slowly spinning chunk of what was once Halo. Floating amidst a silent ballet before a gas giant and its' moon. The Flood had, had considerable time to group up; bodies and weapons. After a couple days of running rampant through the two sentient forces: the Humans and, their releasers, the Covenant; and several days in the broken ring, they had time to gather intelligence. A new commanding Flood form sat waiting in this particular part of the ring, almost ready to be moved. Once the Covenant ship was captured, it would be moved to that vessels control room. There, it would begin the spread of the Flood.
       The Covenant didn't know it yet, but the Impending Incursion had sprung many leaks. With her shields down, there was nothing but metal in the way of the slithering Flood creatures. Slowly but surely, the craft was being invaded. All that remained to occur, was the impeding incursion into the Covenant forces.

       Corporal Carter focused his brown eyes on the screen in front of his right eye. It fed the image from his optical probe camera for his viewing. Around the corner, a foot to his right, was a very tantalizing goal. The belly of a Covenant ship was visible only seventy-five feet above the floor. Patrick zoomed further, centering the small digital device on the scintillating stream of vertically aligned, purple energy. A group of Covenant soldiers was just floating down.
       Pat transmitted the live image to James, kneeling a meter down and across the dark hall. The waiting Marine's eyes widened, and he let a smirk form on his face. He looked down at the floor, revealing the bold capital letters–"DANIELS"–on the back of his helmet, to get a better look at the pictures on his eyepiece. "Good shit," he mouthed towards his partner, looking back towards the light coming from the bend.
       Patrick again scrutinized the open room he was viewing. Realizing the real problem, his face melted into an expression of perplexed aggravation. Two shades sat on either side of the door the Corporal and his portion of the squad would have to come through; one manned my a red armored Grunt, and the other by a blue Elite. Their aim was lazily focused on the open doorway; apparently not expecting an immediate threat coming their way. Around the perimeter of the rectangular room, with a drop off to one side, were several patrolling Elites–two of them Gold, wielding bright blue energy swords and a plasma pistol clipped to their left "thigh". Pat though he caught a glimpse of a couple free-floating plasma swords not far from the gravity lift, each meandering behind a group of purple and blue crates. Many Grunts and Jackals also stood guard. Most forming a rough oval around the landing platform of the gravitational lift, several of the Grunts with their head between their legs–sleeping.
       James, meanwhile, wasn't looking at the Elites, or other Covenant creatures; though, he was trying to get a good look at the vehicles stationed in the area. He had caught a glance of one of those Covie tanks–Wraiths–in the corner of the small display. As his pupils jerked across the green tinted screen, attached to his helmet, he noticed two other hovering, ground craft. Two Ghosts held themselves a foot off the ground, their "hoods" drifting back and forth, facing the dull silvery walls on three sides of the room. As his present commanding NCO panned farther across the large room, he noticed a third type of vehicle he would not have expected.
       "A Banshee?" he whispered to himself. "What is that doing underground?"
       Indeed, the shiny purple craft sat stationary on the floor of the room ahead. The assumed pilot, a maroon Elite, was two meters away, his hands performing some sort of functions on the extended pad of what looked like a crate. While Private Daniels was still taking in all the details of the area in, the video link snapped off.
       James looked at Patrick, who was withdrawing the pen-sized camera and sliding a few feet back down the hall.
       "All right," started the Corporal, in a low voice. "We've got to get to that grav. lift."
       "I hope you brought butter, sir," returned James. "That infantry will have us fried in no time."
       Carter sighed and bit his lip, thinking. "We can do it. We need a plan, some grenades and precise fire," he suggested. "If only we had a sniper rifle, or a rocket launcher. Maybe Sarge will have something that–"
       "Sir?" interrupted James, looking down the hall, at the vacated burnt Elite. "Where'd Hunter go?"
       Pat looked down the hall. There wasn't anyone else there. He crept back to where the Elite was still laying, and shone his light down the hall farther down as well, but Derrick wasn't there either. "Fuck," he cursed under his breath.

       The blast knocked Kyle off his feet, and slid Samantha five feet across the slick floor. Wet fleshy bits rained down on the floor–the aftermath of a Carrier form's detonation. Lance pulled his hand away from his face, and prepared to fire another rocket into the doorway. He didn't have to. No more motion filled the doorway, and nothing living could be seen beyond either. The Sergeant was almost assured, nearly forgetting about the six threats still in the room.
       The green balls bounced and skittered across the floor, towards the humans. Kyle shook his head and pushed himself up by his elbows, still dazed. He then noticed the three Flood Infection forms rapidly approaching him. He scrambled backwards, all while pulling his acquired plasma pistol from his impromptu leg holster. As the nearest of the three got within but a hand's breath of his feet, he freed his weapon. Two shots into the nearest form was enough to start the triple-pop, chain reaction. Meanwhile, Sergeant Ferring had two forms who had though him appetizing enough to pursue, to contend with.
       Lance glanced once at his heavy weapon and decided it was not suited to the situation. He let it hit the ground, and reached for his HE pistol. The foremost Infection form was too quick for him, though. It managed to wrap its tentacles onto his left leg, and attempted to "bite" its' way up the Sergeant. Lance didn't take a liking to the prospect, and so he gave the Flood form a piece of his pistol. The angular edge of the weapon ripped into the soft flesh of the balloon like creature, and it popped. A following shot into the center of the second Ranger was the end of it. Lance was still not assured, the situation didn't feel right. He swung his pistol around the room, but there wasn't anything–
       "There it is!" shouted Kyle, noticing the lone remaining Infection form–not a foot from his wife. "No!"
       Sergeant Ferring and Kyle jumped off the floor and aimed their weapons, but they didn't have a shot. The Ranger was too close, they might hit Sam in the process. It was a critical mistake; however, the Humans' delay was all the little Flood form needed to get a grip on the female Marine.
       Lance watched, horror stricken, as the sickening alien form latched on to the back of his soldier. Her body convulsed, and a gurgle filled scream accompanied the initial spasms.
       Kyle clenched his teeth, tears beginning to blur his vision, and jolted forward. "Oh, God!"

       "What is it?" questioned 'Reigando.
       "It's the Flood Master," replied 'Itlaee. "They have attacked one of our hangars, on the port bow."
       "Did they get through?" 'Reigando asked, he held his breath.
       "They managed to breach one of the shields, Master. But our forces were able to repel their attack."
       The worried Ship Master let out his breath all at once, slightly relieved.
       'Itlaee continued: "We sustained casualties, but nothing serious."
       "What has happened with the malfunctioning shield?" 'Reigando queried further. "And are the Flood still attacking?"
       "Field Master 'Ipnaimee has several Engineers working on the overloaded mechanisms now. And the Flood are no longer attacking, they seem to have retreated and withdrawn."
       'Reigando was not so trusting of the Flood, he did not want another mistake made. Too many had been already. "Do not assume anything. We will leave this ring, and as soon as possible."