The Enemy Within-Chapter Sixteen: And Again The Incoming Tide Breaks
Posted By: Mind_Affecting_Parasite<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 31 August 2004, 9:37 PM
(Author's Note: I am happy to report that this is the first story posted off of my new [computer] build. I just had to get that out. Enjoy.)
Progress so far was doing well. Most of the lower ranking troops and non-soldier personnel were now back in the Impending Incursion, along with many of the supply crates. None of the vehicles had been moved up yet, and the same went for the Shade turrets, essential equipment crates, and the communications crates. They were still needed, and so remained, and would remain until the last few groups were fully pulled back and ready to ride up on the gravity lift themselves.
'Lshowee had moved from his previous position next to the communications console and his Banshee to the side of the gravitational lift's base. At this location, he could easily view both small convoys of soldiers coming back from their door covering positions. This side of the lift was also being occupied by a large Wraith tank. The purple skinned craft floated half a unit above the ground, not looking like the pilot was interested in anything in particular. The two invisible sentries atop the gravity lift base's large tower-like extensions were still present, keeping an eye on the whole picture at once. The observing Squad Master could just make out the shimmering bodies of the pair, but the glowing Plasma Swords were very obvious, floating in mid air.
Both Field Masters were busy shouting out orders to their respective underlings loading weapons and other equipment onto gravity carts. 'Tacoayee, the ranking Master in the whole room, looked particularly angry with a pair of indignant Grunts who had to carry the belongings of a few Elites. 'Lshowee smiled at the spectacle, he enjoyed the power to push around those lazy animals that were allowed to be in the Covenant's service.
The Squad Master went back to observing the actions of the other troops. The two Shades on the opposite side as he was assigned to were already half way back to the lift, along with their accompanying forces. 'Lshowee turned his maroon armored head to look at the Shade group on his own side that was seeing less progress. The group was just loading up some final supplies and starting to move. The Elite watching shook his head in disgust at the inefficiency of his fellow soldiers. Apparently Field Master 'Pikasee, the lower ranking of the two stationed Field Masters, felt the same way; he was shouting orders and trying to get the group to quicken their efforts from across the room, but the group "was going as fast as they could."
'Lshowee clicked his lower mandibles, and began walking toward the communications crate to inform the troops at the top of the gravity lift to prepare for the next load of soldiers and equipment, both of which were just walking up onto the lift's base.
"Alert!" shouted 'Kiakee, one of the sword baring sentries, as 'Lshowee was just arriving back at his station. "Enemy on approach!"
It was obvious to see what enemy 'Kiakee was referring to as several stray plasma bolts stuttered across the darkness enveloping the large room. 'Lshowee gave a quick glance back at the Shade convoy on his own side, to see if the attack was from both fronts. Two Hunters were just exploding, and the Shade gunners soon opened fire. The Squad Master's eyes were good, but apparently not good enough to notice that the figures firing the Shades and those being struck by that fire were not in the Covenant's favor. Thinking that an enemy was attacking from that side as well, but that the Shade gunners would take care of things for a few seconds, 'Lshowee started to sprint back around the gravity lift's base to observe the attack that was coming from the other side.
The Elite got his first glimpse of the attacking force as he rounded the rounded the perimeter of the base. What he saw immediately sent a pang of fear through his body. Not again, they can not be attacking again 'Lshowee thought to himself, as he tried to figure out what would be best to do next.
Of course, that was when the rounds of sniper fire began to punch holes in the Covenant troops. Kyle decided to soften up the larger, more skilled, targets first: the Elites. One of the red ones was making a break for the other side of the lift, but didn't look like a priority target at the time, the sword baring invisible ones on the sides of the grav lift base did, though. Both mirage-like figures seemed to be standing still, making this sniper's job much easier. The smart-linked scope didn't change the aiming reticle from blue to red as it was centered over the blurry target, as the cloaking device didn't allow the systems to recognize the wearer as an enemy target. The Private could still aim, however, and aim well he did.
The torso shot couldn't have been better. The sabot round flew straight into the Elite's chest, creating a mere 14.5-millimeter insertion puncture between the two chest-side covering armor plates; the exit wound was substantially larger, however, and pieces of alien heart and lung tissue erupted from the creatures back, intermingling with a spray of blood and fragments of the Elite's armor. The silver-blue clad figure materialized silently, the power to the cloaking device having been cut off when the power pack of the armor and part of the lungs were shot through; then the dead form proceeded in toppling backwards off his former perch.
With a quick turn of the long-range weapon, the second invisible Elite met a similar fate. That one now lay hanging off the side of his "perch tower" with his head only attached by a single muscle and two pieces of neck skin. The two deaths hadn't gone unnoticed; though, and the once oblivious red Elite was now standing in a combat ready position, looking over the first body to have taken a hit, now laying a pool of its own blood and gore. This Elite still didn't look like he was expecting a third sniper round to be sent his way; however, this sniper would quickly change his mind.
With steady hands, Private Jones lead his aim slightly in front of the red armored form, who was sprinting in an almost circle like pattern, in short bursts. Intending the beast to cross the reticle at head height, Kyle held his weapon still. Apparently the man-like alien didn't expect to have to do anything more than run around in circles, trying to figure out what to do. The Rifleman decided to cancel any plans that the Elite might have made.
As the eight-foot-six body ran directly into Kyle's line of fire, the Private pulled the trigger. The S2 AM's barrel belched fire with a sharp craack, sending the one-hundred-fourteen-millimeter-long projectile downrange. The red Elite hadn't moved more than an inch when the bullet struck.
'Lshowee ran around in a rough circle, trying to keep tabs on both the initial battle from the attacking Flood forces that weren't even in his patrol route, and what seemed like a small scale fray on his own side. All while attempting to not fall prey to any stray or wild weapons fire; and on top of what the Elite's neural systems already had to process, now the two sentries were now laying dead, killed by some powerful weapon from nowhere; and a large explosion had decimated the troops waiting on the gravitational lift. Had the attacking Flood fired the weapons? Fired a type of long range sniper weapon, in the case of the two sentries? the Squad Master asked himself. No, they are not that intelligent, and cannot handle weapons with such proficiency; can they? But the explosion . . . such a detonation could have been from a Covenant Fuel Rod Gun, or purhaps a human rocket launcher.
'Lshowee again looked upon 'Kiakee's corpse, lying on its back, soaking in a bath of his own fluids. The still living of the two was not queasy, but the sight was still disturbing and disconcerting all the same. Just as the Elite sprinted back in the opposite direction, heading over to have another good look at the ensuing fray across the room, a sharp pain shot down his arm and across his chest. A hard punch slammed into his shields, directly over his right shoulder plate, immediately draining the energy shields protecting him. Nearly knocked off his feet by the impact, 'Lshowee dropped to the ground, and rolled towards the gravitational lift's base, seeking cover from his assailant.
A white contrail faded from the air as the Elite looked back to where he had stood, but another soon replaced it, accompanied a hard metallic impact and spray of sparks on the dull silver floor, not but a few centiunits from his head. 'Lshowee had only barely made it behind the cover of the base, his back now stained with 'Kiakee's purple blood.
Damn, Kyle Jones barely stopped from coming through his lips. The Covenant bugger had taken a dive, evading his second-should have been lethal-shot. "You're mine pal; now let's see your ugly little face," the squad CO was close enough to hear.
The Human squad's Rifleman was almost oblivious to the other semi-long range weapon baring member of the team. Sergeant Ferring was but a foot away from contacting his sniper, but he also was not paying much attention to the noncoms body, only looking out for shots fired. So while Private Jones was finding his first target, the Sergeant was finding his. The answer came quickly to him, as he noticed the closely packed troops atop the grav lift's base, waiting for the purple beam to pull them upwards into their ships gullet. Lance would have none of that, he wanted them to join his party first.
The three blue Elites and single red were just looking at the first sniper-killed Covenant troop when the Human Sergeant let his first rocket fly. One of the Jackals noticed the plume of smoke that erupted from the thought-empty door, and turned to take a look. Just as the bird-like alien screeched a warning, the explosive projectile contacted the surface beneath the group's feet, and detonated. A mix of blood, armor, weapons, and body parts were thrown outwards as the Human charge set off a full belt of four plasma grenades, and started a chain reaction.
Private Jones' second shot had just scored a second kill when the peak of the explosion took place. Sergeant Ferring really couldn't tell how many grenades had gone off, but his estimate was around twenty, including the four that had gone off after being blown clear of the main blast area. The results were spectacular and disgusting at the same time. Almost twenty-five bodies had been bunched together on the gravity lift when Lance had fired, some of which lay intact about ten meters out, but the majority of which had either been blown to bloody bits, the remnants of which were now splattered in the ten meter perimeter, or totally destroyed and vaporized by the explosion.
Now was time to spend the second shot of the two-rocket magazine. Lance eyed all the stuff around the grav lift, looking for something else to blow up. He found it. A group of crates were still bunched up on his side of the room, a brace of Grunts, Jackals, and Elites standing in and around the purple hued boxes: another good target. Why do they make it so easy? the Sergeant asked himself, picking out the best place to put his shot. The demolitions expert didn't take more than a second in choosing a path for his rocket to take, and pull the fire mechanism.
What was left of the crates and Covenant bodies were thrown in an oblong radius of destruction. Disappointingly, there apparently hadn't been any grenades in the crates, and only a handful of secondary explosions filled the air, product once again of soldier carried explosives.
The plasma turret vibrated with each expelled burst of lethal energy. James, meanwhile, was enjoying every moment of it. He had been assigned the job of hosing down any Covenant bastards that weren't in between the two grav carts. It hadn't been that hard, for there were only a few of the fuckers who had decided to make a break for it. Now, though, PFC Daniels was pouring fire into some more distant targets: those still left around the lift. Most of the Grunts and Jackals who had been out in the open ran hither and yon, their hand thrown up in dismay. The first two sniper shots and first rocket had caused quite a ruckus. Well, James Daniels was always one to ruin people's, or in this case alien's, fun.
The purple knives of plasma weren't that accurate at this range, but they still found targets, burning smoking holes through their bodies, and pulverizing what was left after it had hit the ground. At the least, hundreds of dinner plate-sized scorches and divots were now covering this side of the grav lift base.
Then came the second Human rocket. It had blown one particular Elite no less than ten meters into the air, before it came back down with an unheard snap.
"Hey, you stole my kill!" James put in over the COM.
"Get your own, I saw 'em first," came Sergeant Ferring's mumbled reply.
Private Daniels smiled wide, pulling the fire control mechanisms of his weapon harder, cutting through the smoke of the fading explosion. Then came the surprise, something that was almost totally unexpected: return fire from the other side of the lift. That was what James first thought, anyway, until he recognized the Human travers in the jumble of plasma.
"Sir, look at that!" he shouted through the COM at the Marine manning the turret to his left. "What the hell is goin' on?"
Corporal Carter had just witnessed the explosion out of the corner of his eye, and had mopped up the already smoking remains of the Covenant troops that had been assigned to guard the convoy of two Shade turrets. Now, the only thing that remained of the alien soldiers was a pile of burnt and blackened mush; bone, flesh, armor and all.
That had been finished and the noncom was just about to turn toward the grav lift anyway when he heard his subordinate's comment. Now, with the conclusion that whatever was firing could only be Flood forces, Patrick was confronted with the choice of what to do next. Apparently, the two long range squad members had noticed the intermingling weapons fire as well, seeing as no more shots came from the door.
"Corporal Carter to Sergeant Ferring," he spoke into his boom mounted microphone.
The response was delayed. "I see it too Corporal," was the initial reply. "Covenant?"
"Negative, sir. Looks like the Flood have decided to join the party again."
"The Flood?" came an angered voice. "Shit. Alright kids, it's time to move out. Those mutated freaks won't just come from one side, so lets get Sam and that Covie bastard on one of them grav carts and haul ass."
"Copy that," Pat turned to James and spoke: "Keep in that turret, and make sure that any aliens of freaks don't get the chance to spoil our fun."
James response would have been a strong cocking of a bolt if he had been in a Human turret, but unfortunately, he wasn't, and so all he could do was reply. "Yes sir."
Within ten seconds, Sergeant Ferring and Private Jones were coming out of the door, the squad CO dragging the captured Elite, and Sam hanging over Kyle's shoulders. Derrick Hunter slowly backed out of the door, not looking anywhere but through the opening and into the dark beyond.
Kyle Jones reached the cart on which Private Daniels was manning the Shade first, and carefully laid his wife down beside it, moving small equipment boxes from the lower level of the grav cart before he could fit his spouse on the thing. The Sergeant was only a few seconds behind, making good time, seeing as he was dragging a larger, more heavy, body, and had an injured knee. After helping the Rifleman pull some more of the Covenant boxes off of the cart, Sergeant Ferring was the first to put his "package" on the lower level, the head and feet of the beast having little room between the more important, meaning weapon bearing, boxes that had been left on. No later than three minutes after the order to get on the get go, both bodies were loaded, and the team was ready to get out of there.
"Should we grab the other Shade?" shouted James down from his weapon. Now firing erratically at a group of Covenant that were just floating down, in conjunction with some more from the other side of the room. The situation on the far side hadn't seemingly improved. Now the stray fire coming over the lift base was about three times as heavy as it had been before; and the explosions and alien shouts were louder and more pronounced.
A light nod from Sergeant Ferring. "We could use it, but I don't know-do we have the manpower to push both of them?"
"Probably not effectively," agreed Carter. "Not if we want any cover fire for the Shade gunner. We'd all be pushin'."
"Right, well lets get-"
"Sergeant!" shouted Derrick, who had been standing patiently by the ancient door for the last few moments. "I think we've got company; there is definitely something on its way from the halls!"
James stopped firing, all his targets down, and turned towards the door. Pat and the Sergeant did the same, weapons ready.
"Hunter: get that cart moving!" shouted Sergeant Ferring, un-lumbering the Rocket Launcher from his back. "Carter: help him out and get ready to provide cover!"
"Sir!" the Corporal answered, starting to shove on the back of the hovering cart. "But-what about you?"
"Don't worry 'bout me, son. I'll cover your asses."
No sooner had Lance finished his sentence, gurgling noises grew louder from the hall, and the first green-colored form ran around the bend, into the light, and started into the open, opening fire with its weapon. The next Flood attack had begun; and the Humans' fight for their lives had reached another climax.