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The Enemy Within-Chapter Eighteen: From One Pot Into Another
Posted By: Mind_Affecting_Parasite<pbplayer_24@yahoo.com>
Date: 4 October 2004, 12:35 AM

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       "Go, go, go!" shouted Sergeant Ferring, back pedaling slowly to keep pace with the heavily loaded grav cart. Corporal Patrick Carter and Warrant Officer Derrick Hunter pushed as hard as they could on the back of the hovering transportation device, their feet slipping occasionally on the slick blood beneath their feet, trying to get it moving at a decent pace.
       Private Kyle Jones walked along, also facing backwards, behind the cart, ready to provide covering fire. In his hands a M90 Shotgun, pumped and ready to go; but not needing to provide any assistance fire.
       Various types of green colored Flood forms attempted to exit the door, which was slowly moving away from the Human squad, but were finding the opposition a solid one. Private Daniels was doing well with the captured Covenant Plasma Turret, focusing all of the firepower he could muster out of the thing upon the door.
       Searing purple beams of energy ripped through the soft spongy tissues of the green-colored Combat forms, the Carrier and Infection forms not having a chance against the sheer volume of energy. Smoke from burnt flesh started to fill the doorway, along with amounting chunks of Flood bodies. The newer entries into the fight were having to crawl over their fallen comrades to find a way at the Sergeant and his group of determined soldiers.
       The second gravity cart, along with the other Shade and random ammunition crates, was still sitting a few meters from the door; nothing having the chance to reach it. The bodies of the former Covenant team that had been manning the carts and turrets were still sprawled out in a splattering of blue, purple, and black gore.
       Lance looked over his shoulder at the grav lift; still nothing. He hoped that his luck would hold, and no enemy troops landed on the platform. A battle, apparently, still raged on the other side of the lift. Smoke and weapons fire continued to rise from the unseen fray. Meanwhile, the Humans were half way to the lift.
       "Keep up that fire, Daniels!" encouraged Ferring, letting his arms relax ever so slightly, the weight of his heavy weapon getting to his muscles.
       "Sir!" said the Corporal, his face red from his exertion. "I don't know how much longer we can push on this thing!"
       The Sergeant thought for a moment, letting his vision bounce back and forth between the many events occurring within the room. "Look for a control or something. Those alien bastards must have some way of moving their own shit easier!"
       Corporal Carter nodded, looking back down at the cart. His eyes flashed back and forth over the surfaces, trying to find some sort of-there! A small control panel was inlayed at waist level. Several odd looking holographic symbols sat hovering a couple millimeters over the alloy surfaces, glowing in rhythmic pulses.
       "This thing's getting off aim!" warned the madly firing Private.
       "Just keep firing, Daniels! Try to overwhelm the green little things!" shouted back Sergeant Ferring through the increasing noises.
       James gritted his teeth, his hands starting to tingle and go numb from the constant vibrations of his large weapon.
       Patrick's face showed his worry. If he didn't find the right button, the Flood just might be able to make it past the limited field of fire that the Covenant turret provided; and if that happened, well, then everyone would be screwed, and the only chance of getting out of this demon infested hell hole would be lost. All of the controls looked the same or really similar to Pat; he wasn't sure which one to press, but he jabbed at one anyway. He was lucky; the small anti-grav pods on the bottom of the cart flared slightly, pulling the cart forward under its own power.
       "I got it, sir!" shouted Carter, letting go of the floating piece of metal along with Hunter.
       "Good!" Ferring replied, giving the rest of his team a glance. "Take point; Hunter: keep that thing under control, and make sure it gets to that lift."
       "Here they come! I can't take all of them anymore!" screamed James, starting to sweep his weapon over the Flood that just managed to run from the clogged portal now several meters distant.
       "Keep focused on the door!" ordered Lance, raising his rocket launcher to fire. "Jones: take some pot shots at those Combat forms; try to keep the independent ones to a minimum."
       Kyle nodded at the command, pulling the only effective weapon he had from its holster: his plasma pistol. He would have used his Sniper Rifle, but he had tried earlier on the Flood forms; the discovery that the high-velocity rounds passed clean through the rotting bodies had surprised him and angered him at the time. So, the Covenant piece of tech would have to do; not ideal at the distance, but it would do better than his shotgun.
       The door, meanwhile, continued to be assaulted by a barrage of plasma fire, flaring purple-white as the off-target shots impacted the metal. Flood forms still came through; though, at a diminished rate, due to the bottlenecking through still-smoking bodies. Some were put down quickly by a well placed Shade burst; others managed to sprint out to the side, some dropping from wild Plasma Turret discharges, others by Kyle's marksmanship, but some did managed to make it through the hail of opposition.
       Derrick witnessed all this; the Navy pilot confused and in fear of his life through the events transpiring around him. The Sergeant was just letting a rocket fly, the projectile headed directly towards the vacant Shade. A chain of explosions sent debris and the bodies of Flood forms, that had been relatively close to the detonation, flying through the air as the Human shaped-charge ignited the few crates of plasma grenades and mines that had been left on the other cart. Most of the now rogue Combat forms were thrown down by the fireball itself, as well as the heat wave that spread rapidly outward.
       As the explosion cleared, all that was left was a patch of blackened and scorched metal. There was still the problem of the Flood; however, and more still forced their way through the burning bodies of their brethren, into a hellish field of flying plasma and black smoke. The Warrant Officer decided to aid Kyle in the long-range firing. Hunter drew his M6D, and centered it on the closest form he could make out. Five rounds later the thing was on the ground; but the pilot wondered how effective he could really be with his limited ammunition supply.
       "Sir! The grav lift!" alerted Corporal Carter. The Human convoy now amazingly having made it three-fourths of the total distance was now more susceptible to attacks from the now approaching gravity lift.
       Sergeant Ferring turned away from his team, all of which were firing into the oncoming hoard. The Corporal had been right, the grav lift was now a big problem. A large group of Covenant troops was just drifting down the lift, their boots touching the blood-stained surfaces of the lift's base. Fortunately for Lance, though, the leader of this group made a grave mistake.

       "Assist our troops!" ordered Apprentice Master 'Lashowagee, waving his black clad arm in the general direction of the battle. Off to his left was a single shade turret in the shadows, moving steadily towards the gravitational lift. The Black Apprentice Master, in the rush of his arrival, quickly decided that there were Covenant soldiers on that side, and so it was not an immediate threat. He didn't bother to wonder much on why bodies of his own kind littered the surface on which he stood.
       The Grunts let out a loud howl as they rushed forward off the lift, eager to test their small skills and use their weapons. The enemy forces attacking en masse on 'Lashowagee's right must have been more intelligent then they looked. Just as he turned to further assess the situation, two human explosive projectiles streaked out of the crowd and towards the Elite's position. He was easily able to duck under the first, catching only a whiff of the rocket's smoke, but his Grunt cohorts were not as equally fortunate. The second rocket took out an entire file of them, ripping a couple of their bodies into three or more pieces before throwing them and their powerful Fuel Rod Guns into the air to harmlessly explode.
       Only three of the diminutive creatures survived, one of them badly injured with phosphorescent blue blood running down its chest-plate, and took offense to the fate of their brothers-in-arms. The trio of Grunts were quick to fire their weapons in high arc into the enemy formations, blowing them apart upon the cloudy, green impacts. The Covenant troops busy holding off the many enemy forms let out a cry of relief with the sight of the black armored soldiers.
       The commanding Field Master grinned at his troops' determination. With merely his presence, the normal Covenant ground troops fought harder; encouraged by the powerful warriors who had just arrived.
       "Squad Master 'Julianee, take your apprentices and look into the situation of the Shade gunner," he said, before preparing to step off of the gravity lift's base.
       Just as the other Master started to reply, the totally unexpected happened. Another human rocket flew forward and impacted the gravity lift base, this one from the left side of the room. The results were devastating to even the Black Special Operations soldiers, with their superior armor. 'Lashowagee was in a state of shock and horror as his body was catapulted several units into the air. He gained a glimpse of his attacker-a foul looking human creature-and the Elite he had just sent in that direction, who was also airborne, before landing in a heap within his own ranks.
       The impact snapped his spine just below his shoulders, effectively paralyzing the majority of his body while keeping him alive and conscious, blood leaking from the many other damage points on his large body. Even from his lowered vantage point, and blurred vision, this Field Master knew that the battle around him was worsening by the moment. Another Jackal took a hit in the head and collapsed over 'Lashowagee's body, covering him with brain matter. More weapons fire rained over the area.

       'Lshowee witnessed the whole thing while sprinting back around the gravitational lift base, but didn't feel the slightest remorse. All that the falling troops were gaining him was more time. The Wraith tank belched a final blue-white comet into the air, before succumbing to the increasing punishment inflicted upon it. A rocket blew the cockpit of the vehicle open, spreading the alloy plates like the blossom of a flower; flames licked up the sides of the purple mass from a ruptured engine compartment, and night-black smoke billowed into the already thick atmosphere.
       The observing Elite, his body slick with perspiration and many samples of blood, ran around the final corner and came in view of his prize: his perfectly intact Banshee. With it, he planned to escape off the ring and onto a safer vessel, one that had been isolated from this section of the ring, and was floating in space. Perhaps a great advance in rank would await him; after all, many good Masters had perished during this fight, but not here. For this Elite was smart enough to know that if the Flood had attacked down at the gravity lift, then the beasts would almost certainly have attacked elsewhere on the ship. From the way the things were going on this front, 'Lshowee didn't think his forces had a chance of holding back this terrifying enemy.
       He did though; this Elite had a chance, or so he thought. As he grew within touching distance of his goal, his distorted reflection visible off of the nearly flawless metal covering, a new factor was thrown into his equation. Rapid impacts slammed into his side, accompanying the staccato sounds from bursts of a human weapon, his now renewed shields barely holding out the force. 'Lshowee instinctively spun to face his adversary, drawing his Plasma Pistol to fire. As his eyes made contact with this new threat, one that he was almost certain would be a Flood form, he was surprised with what he saw.
       An uninfected human soldier was assaulting him, the shots on target and driven by a mortal being. Just as the Elite prepared to prove the mortality of his foe, his flaring shields finally gave way; he had been shocked by the sight of the human, and had apparently stared too long. With a blue pop, the systems powering his energy shields overloaded, the projectiles were now impacting into his armor, a spray of sparks flying from the strong alloys; but even they didn't last long against the armor-piercing rounds.
       The first puncturing bullet slammed into 'Lshowee's chest plate, driving itself into the tip of his left lung; another stopping a mere milliunit from his rapidly beating heart. The next two rounds to make it through his armor were lower, stopping their forward motion within the Elite's ribs; fractures snaked through the dense bone. It was the fifth round that started the maroon armored creature's fall; slicing straight into the soft intestinal tissues of his abdomen, and erupting out the back of the warrior's back; two others followed suit. A howl burst forth from his lungs.
       The final seven rounds of the human weapon's magazine fell even lower; impacting from the hip to lower leg on the hapless Elite. Metal projectiles splintered bone, ruptured blood vessels, and tore through muscles; sending a bloody cocktail of purple fluids and bits of muscular organs onto the floor. 'Lshowee bent over in pain, clutching at his stomach and leg before his conscious awareness slipped away through the agony. His limp body hit the dull floor with a clack, tensing into a ball before stopping its motions.

       "Yeah, si'down bitch!" spat Patrick, loading a fresh magazine into his Assault Rifle before heading further towards the lift.
       "Can that thing go any faster?" shouted Ferring, starting to trail behind the rest of his teammates. The quick medical treatment he had given his leg were starting to fail. He could feel the bio-foam coming out and loosening its grip.
       "I'll try, sir," answered Hunter, pressing random buttons on the control panel of the cart.
       Private Daniels still fired away at the Flood forms that, amazingly, still tried to pour from the now less defended doorway. The purple fire coming from his turret scattered inaccurately over the far side of the room; the radius of the impacts reaching out to a few meters. Some Flood forms took hits, but half made it through, waving their arms erratically as they ran at the Humans.
       Kyle Jones kept pace with the grav cart, though he still jogged backwards to get a few shots in at the enemies that had nearly cost his wife her life, and still might. The plasma pistol in his hands let forth a flurry of green fire every couple of seconds, directed at whatever moving shape the man could make out between himself and the lit portal at the end of the room. Combat forms got closer every time he was forced to fire, that worried the Private.
       "Ye-haw!" shouted Derrick, the gravity cart shooting forward, the anti-grav pods flaring bright-blue. It rode up the side of the lift, bottoming out as it reached the peak, and came to a smooth stop at the top. Hunter scrambled after it, firing a couple randomly aimed shots at the ever increasing crowd behind him.
       "Good work, Hunter!" Sergeant Ferring shouted back to the pilot. Lance was now five meters behind his squad sniper, the bio-foam just failed, letting the un-healed wound become exposed once more. The squad CO bit his lip as his clothing began to rub against the raw meat; he could feel blood starting to run down his leg.
       "Sir!" the Corporal said, just stepping up beside the still firing cart-mounted Shade and turning back around.
       Private Jones was quick to follow suit, sprinting up the short slope to the top of the grav lift base; he, instead of turning back, looked over the situation at the other side of the room. A few groups of scattered Covenant troops were fiercely fending off the dwindling Flood army; it seemed that the mutant numbers were finally beginning to drop, but it wouldn't be enough. Kyle could tell that through it all, their strength was waning, as well as the power in their weapons. After a brief second, another realization his the Private: the Sergeant was now the only Human on the floor of the room.
       "Get your ass up that lift, Carter!" Lance replied, looking back at the thickening mass of Flood forms approaching him. Their numbers had tripled since they had reached the three-quarters mark. They were gaining ground fast, too; they would be overcoming the Human group in less than fifteen seconds. "I'll cover your backs!"
       "But sir-"
       "I mean now; that's an order!"
       Patrick looked around at the rest of the squad, all of whom looked just as concerned as he was over the squad leader. James continued to fire, his whole body shaking from the weapon's feedback. Kyle still tried to pick off what he could with his alien pistol. Derrick stood over the control panel of the cart, looking for a holographic button to send them up.
       "Yes sir," Pat managed to say, his face showing his resentment for not going back and helping his CO.
       "I think I got it," commented Hunter, watching as the alien cart's control panel flashed a message. He looked around enthusiastically, his expression changing to one of confusion as static electricity put his nerves on end.
       An invisible hand seemed to reach down and pluck each of the team up. First went the Corporal, next the Warrant Officer, and then the rest in one big jolt. They all rose up rapidly through the purple beam of gravitational energy, getting a wonderful view of the whole room as they went. Non of them were able to get a final look at Sergeant Ferring before a flash of white signaled their entry into the Covenant ship.