The Last Halo part 2
Posted By: pest/swingamajig<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 15 April 2006, 4:59 pm
Firstly, may I say just how pleased I was with the response for the first part of this series. I plan it to be a three or four part series.
The Last Halo
In a remote part of the galaxy, a human cruiser lingered above a giant ring world called Beta Halo. The nearby planet Elevon dwarfed these two space anomalies and watched as the UNSC personnel deployed there readied to set loose the deadliest of enemies that it had seen conquer a glorious species 10,000 years ago. The internal failsafe carefully watched and waited, handpicking a reclaimer strong enough to fight against the Flood successfully and would activate Halo.
Kayleigh and her team cautiously descended into the hellhole that awaited them. She could hear the faint whimpers coming from the frightened marines around her. The one named Tom appeared more focused now, but nevertheless remained as close as he could to Kayleigh and she didn't think it was because he liked her Red armour. The fourth member of the party, Barkley, faced the other way, clutching his Shotgun tight. Even though Kayleigh, Evans and the other Spartans were not set to unlock the doors until 18.00, they all nevertheless checked all dark areas, checking for any stowaway Flood.
After what felt like eternity, the large lift came to a halt and the four of them walked off. They faced a small door that opened as she approached it. She entered cautiously, despite knowing there would be no Flood yet and beckoned the two young marines forward to cover her. Barkley kept a watchful eye on the rear.
The door led into a large room, with two levels of which they entered onto the top floor. A ledge parallel to them met theirs with a light bridge. The bottom floor had a dip in the bottom and had two doors at either side, which was a very similar layout to the last Halo Kayleigh visited.
"Anything on the HUD ma'am?" asked Barkley.
Even though there was no movement, Kayleigh eyed the room carefully for any Flood infection forms hiding in the room. "Negative marine, now get across that light bridge you three. They did as ordered and as they were halfway across, she realised there were controls on either side of it, evidently for turning it off. She bared it in mind for future reference. She made sure it could carry her half-ton of weight before crossing it, and then did so.
They now faced another door. It opened as they approached it and led them to a crossroads. Kayleigh ordered Barkley to escort one of the young marines to the right, while she headed off to the left with the other. She did not know what one it was, as she thought they both looked the same.
"Wait a moment, marine" she said, turned to face down to the young Marine she could now see was Tom. "Take my Shotgun."
"You sure, ma'am?" he replied, having the gun basically thrust into his hands.
"We need minimal casualties in this mission, marine," she said in a very matter-of-fact manner, whilst taking his SCII and complementing it with the SCI that was previously strapped to her hip. The SCI was essentially an upgraded version of the Plasma Pistol, which could fire much quicker. It was also the only weapon supplied by the Peacekeepers that could stun Flood warriors as well as damage them. This was surprising, considering they had had fifty years to prefect this. However, it had a tendency to overheated quickly. They continued forward but to their surprise, the narrow passage led to a ramp leading down the way they came. Following it, they met up with Barkley and Martin again.
"Sorry for the parting, ma'am," Barkley called at her. "Miss me?"
"Enough of the small talk soldier, now is this the door?"
"Yes, we're awaiting the synchronised opening. T minus 4 minutes", he told her as he reached into one of the pockets on his belt and pulled out a whisky bottle. Taking a swig, he noticed the disgust in the others faces. He wondered what was wrong with having pockets not just being filled with ammo. "Sorry, anyone else want some?"
Kayleigh ignored him and turned to face the Flood containment door. It was locked from their side and appeared like any other door at first, safe of the eerie squelching sounds exerting from it. The training simulations the others had run of the Flood were going to be nothing compared to the real thing.
Kayleigh prepared to make her speech but did not really know how to motivate them for what would surely be their untimely deaths in a matter of minutes. She could only think but to give them advice.
"Shoot the closest target, marines. If not, aim for the largest group of them, there's no cowardice in backing away from them. Just make sure you don't get eaten alive or else I'll be forced to shoot you. We need as few Flood buggers running around here as we can. Same goes for you three, if you see me with a load of those buggers over me, don't try and save me. Shoot me and save yourself."
As of yet, even the combined knowledge of the Peacekeepers fighting the Flood could not produce armour strong enough to stop infection forms from getting through, which meant that when her shields dropped, Kayleigh would be just as vulnerable as the others, save for a couple more seconds that the Flood would take to bury into her armour and slowly mutate her.
Safely onboard the Trial and Tribulation, John 117 reluctantly turned off the modern video game he was playing on the side panel.
"This is serious, John, stay focused", the AI Cortana told him. "How many times have I told them? Don't install Xbox ports on space ships. As many soldiers have died in battle as have been corrupted by video games."
"Relax Cortana, like you said, the Flood containment doors aren't even open yet", the Admiral replied in his usual deep, solemn voice, checking his watch.
The bridge of The Trial and Tribulation was quiet, in observation of the task at hand. They carefully monitored the status of the Marines holding the elevators on the island. There were seven locations, each with two marines guarding. Sentinels, or worse escaping Flood at any moment could ambush any one of them. That was why Pelican air support was standing by.
"Sir, the Elites have arrived and are standing by for deployment, they have brought Jackals and Grunts for support", Corporal Higgins told John, breaking the silence in the crowded room. Everyone hoped they would leave the cannon fodder in the dropships this time, but the Grunts insisted in taking part in the ground battles. That was why the last attack on Halo number six was so brutish. The Grunts had been quickly killed and mutated, greatly lowering the chances of survival for the Elites and Humans.
"Understood, Corporal. At the first sign of Flood movement, send them in."
"Okay, it's time."
"Very well, Barkley, put the devise on the door" Kayleigh told him. Sweat ran down her face, but her battle suit masked it. She stared at the door that was going to beep and then open any second, thanks to Barkley cracking the code. "Remember, you two", she called behind her. "They're just infectors so they will have to reach you to kill you, that's why we shoot the closest one."
She didn't have time to check a response because the door opened without the devise beeping a warning. A whole swarm of Flood poured out of it making loud squelchy sounds. Barkley blasted the group of them with his Shotgun and they popped, spitting them with the green Flood goo. But still they came.
Kayleigh's heart raced but her mouth managed to shout "Stand back guys" and closest to the door, Barkley, backed off. She coated the threat with fire from her SCII. The plasma-coated bullets shot straight through them so destroying them. Nearby ones were burned to cinders by the Plasma. The group was significantly reduced and the spores tried to retreat and regroup back in the room they came from but met an end with Kayleigh's superheated SCI, which consequently overheated.
Reloading the SCII, she crept into the room side by side with Barkley, who now looked a little shaken at the surprise attack. They entered a large room with three raised platforms in a line in the centre. It was dimly lit, but Kayleigh detected no movement on her motion tracker.
"I'm sorry, ma'am, I couldn't stop him. He just ran."
"What Tom?" she asked while her SCI had stopped venting plasma.
"Martin, he just ran as soon as those things
" the young marine shivered "
came at us." Kayleigh wheeled round and saw the marine appearing more scared to tell her bad news than face the Flood itself. "We both agreed it was safer to stick with you ma'am but I guess he just snapped."
"Alright, we make sure this room is secure, and then we head out to another to look for him. Looks like this door has led to a dead end. Remember we can't leave now because it's a whole three hours until the dropships land for us," Kayleigh told Tom bluntly.
"Ma'am, movement!" shouted Barkley's gruff voice and Kayleigh and Tom spun round to see Flood pouring down the walls, from the left and the right. Acting quickly, the Spartan pointed one gun to one threat on the right and the other to the left. She pulled both triggers, checking each side for ones she missed, but the Flood kept coming. Suddenly her shield flashed as one collided with her.
"Keep them off me!" she shouted while constantly firing and her two escorts started shooting their shotguns. It seemed to be going steady until the two continuous Flood onslaughts started making their way along the walls, around the bullets and the Kayleigh's SCI overheated. "Retreat! Get back to the doorway you two."
They didn't hesitate carrying out her order so Kayleigh reloaded her SCII, threw a grenade and backed away. Nearby Flood exploded and those close enough popped also. A few that escaped the explosion followed her to the doorway. She let her shield catch them and quickly reloaded her weapon.
"Aaaahhhh! Get it off me!" came a screaming voice behind her. Tom was lying on the floor of the doorway, Barkley unable to help because he was backed in a corner of the room, about to get surrounded by the surviving Flood.
Kayleigh now faced a split second decision that would affect both the others lives. Who should she help? She fired blindly at the chasing pack about to surround Barkley and heard several pops and darted straight for Tom who was struggling with the infection form attached in his back.
"Lie still, I'll shoot it off!" she shouted but the marine continued to struggle. Another infection form snuck past Kayleigh and dug deep into Tom's neck. Knowing he would certainly die now; she turned her attention to Barkley, who was holding his own against the Flood, since Kayleigh had distracted them a lot by her shouting. Her shield flickered again when some tried to latch onto her, as she fired her weapons at the remaining ones. With Barkley's help, the rest were destroyed and both turned their attention back to Tom, who was struggling with the two parasitic creatures latched onto him.
They reloaded, preparing to put him out of his misery. Tom was not screaming with agony though; he was shaking, jolting and frothing in the mouth. His hands were green and his hands were mutating to have long tentacles. His head was becoming lop-sided and a green fungus started to grow over his stomach. Kayleigh had seen her fair share of Flood warriors before and wondered how the Flood was mutating him so quickly; because the reported time it took them was at least 10 hours. Perhaps this was the mutant thread of Flood that Cortana had been so fearful of part of the final Flood virus that was more lethal than that had been encountered before. Apparently, it appeared this was the last ring. In short, they had had less time to starve than the others and so were less worn down and more efficient.
What was left of Tom was left in his face. His horrified expression made him vile to look at and his legs began kicking in the air to find footing.
[inent]"Kill it now, Barkley" ordered Kayleigh.
The shotgun blasted at the Flood but didn't kill it. Tom's armour flew off and it made a large hole its stomach but it survived nonetheless.
"You don't have to tell me twice" he said and pulled the trigger yet again. This time the bullets tore through it and it fell over dead, torn in two pieces. Green Flood goo spattered against the wall and the stench of the thing rose into the two survivors' nostrils.
"Next time, we won't wait for it to mutate, got it Barkley?" she told him with a stern expression on her face that he couldn't see anyway. With sweat dripping down his face, he nodded and reloaded again. Kayleigh stepped over the Flood corpse and picked up the Shotgun Tom dropped before being overwhelmed. She attached her SCs to her sides and picked up his grenades. She wondered for a moment if these Flood were also stronger or faster, and not just better at taking over host bodies. "Need one marine?" she asked, tossing a grenade up in the air and catching it.
"No thanks, ma'am, I've already got four", he said whilst taking another swig from his bottle. "Me and my shotgun have got your back."
They left and went up the left ramp. They carefully watched for Flood, and now that there might be Flood warriors walking around, they were extra cautious. Kayleigh led the two of them out the narrow hallway and back into the large room with the light bridge. She checked her HUD and detected two dots to their right. She turned to see an absolutely terrified Martin running past them, chased by a mutated Flood warrior. Kayleigh blasted it away with her shotgun and it collapsed in a heap on the floor. The young marine kept running past them and ran through the door to their left, arms flailing, apparently he could not hear Barkley's reassuring words that he was safe. Kayleigh heard a growling and looked round to see the Flood struggling to return to its feet. She gave it another shotgun blast in its stomach to keep it down. Checking its nametag, it read "Tang" of whom she didn't know.
Beckoning her companion along, Kayleigh followed Martin's path through the door to her left. They entered a relatively small room with two levels of which they entered on the top. Bullets raged about the place, SCII shots ricocheted of the walls, making a dent in them and further burning it with the plasma. On the bottom floor of the dimly lit room was at least a dozen shadows all exchanging gunfire, coupled with grizzly screams and the menacing growls of the enemy.
Kayleigh quickly turned on her flashlight and jumped down into the fray.
"Contacts, guys! At points Omega and Charlie!" Higgins shouted.
The whole bridge crew flicked their screens to the elevators Omega and Charlie team were holding. The Pelican film showed the two marines at Evans' team - Omega - engulfed in a wave of Flood infectors. Their numbers were in their dozens and they quickly fanned out, forcing the two to retreat. They fired their battle rifles at the little buggers. The rapid three-bullet weapon allowed them to accurately pick off the targets but one of the marines was quickly latched on by an infection form. The creature punched its tentacles into his leg and he stumbled. Desperate to save himself, he fired his rifle at it, popping it, but as a result leaving a gaping wound in his leg.
Just then, another one jumped up and got him in the neck. The marine stood no chance as the wave of Flood caught up with him and he fell, covered from head to toe in the creatures.
Just then, a mutated Flood warrior lunged out of the fray, past the marine being eaten alive on the floor and heading straight for the other one. It had evidently been the one who pressed the elevator and let them up. The zombie creature leapt at least ten feet to land right in front of the marine and it thrust its long whip-like arm at the helpless guy. His feeble attempts to block it led him to break his arm and the Flood stabbed the marine right through the torso. Coughing up blood, he reached with his unscathed arm for a grenade. He faintly murmured, "Eat this, bastard", which the Pelican witnessing it could hear over the radio, and he pulled the pin. The Pelican from above saw and heard the explosion. It swayed a little to avoid a dead Flood corpse flying up and hitting the hull.
Meanwhile, John, who had only turned away from his screen for a second to talk to the Elite ship commander, saw the devastation at Charlie team. A small group of Flood had taken them by surprise and attacked all at once, overwhelming and killing them. The group was now heading straight for one of the other nearby elevators.
"Order all ground teams to retreat to the evac point. Get all Pelicans active for air support, now!" John ordered the lead Pelican pilot, who got on the radio to all the others. "How are there already Flood corpses running around out there?" he asked Cortana.
"It is as I feared, Admiral",she replied. "This is the final ring, the one that the Forerunner, I mean us, last contained them on. This species of Flood has been here much less time comparatively than the others, and they appear to be much more efficient at mutating their zombie warriors."
The monitor showed the black armoured marines abandoning their posts and fleeing to the beach. Several were pursued by Flood.
"Get down!" Kayleigh screamed at the marine in front of her. He ducked and she shot the Flood combat form's head behind him, the bullets forced it down to its grizzly death. The marine's thanks could wait, as she advanced to shoot a group of infection forms coming towards them. Her shotgun fired and they popped, smearing her armour with Flood blood but she just wiped it off and continued. Running forward she saw a combat form jumping high in the air, about to whack someone in the back. She steadied her aim and shot the monster. The short-range weapon still hit it and it collapsed on the floor just short of its target and let out a long gargle. By now, the battle seemed to be dying down, save for another swarm of little Flood crowding in the corner of the room. Even with her flashlight, it was hard to see what was happening but she did manage to see two slumped figures on the floor, one of which was getting back up with two of the bastards stuck to it.
Not hesitating, she pelted it with her shotgun and it stumbled back clutching its chest. Just then a SCI fired and the stunning effect forced it backward and into the corner of the room, dead. She heard SCIIs firing from her right and the bullets tore through the other infection forms gathered in the corner. Just then the other corpse stood up but the combined shots from around her forced it back down.
Finally the shooting ceased and Kayleigh turned to survey her new companions for the first time. There were two men holding SCIIs on her right and a Spartan to her left. Her heart leapt as she saw it was the light blue armour of Evans. He held out his hand in thanks but Kayleigh instead rushed forward and hugged him.
"I never thought I would see you again", she said squeezing him tighter. A wave of happiness swept over her, quickly followed by embarrassment. She let go quickly and blushed inside her red armour. "You haven't seen a scrawny little marine running for his life have you?"
"Yes, he ran through that door", Evans replied, pointing to door at the far end of the chamber. "Is he yours?" Evans asked her, pointing to a marine knocked cold on the floor. The large facedown marine was easily distinguishable by the amount of satchels on his belt. Kayleigh rushed over to him but he was already getting up, rubbing his head.
"Sorry ma'am, the jump. I
"It's okay Barkley, rest." Kayleigh knelt down on the blood-spattered floor. "We'll hold here for a while." she reassured him by putting her hand on his shoulder. Her eyes wandered over to the ledge that they came from. It was too high to climb back up they would have to find a different way out. Looking back down she saw yet another Flood corpse and a dead marine lying a little further back from them she felt a wave of anger rush through her. "How many more will be lost to these bastards?" she shouted, banging the floor with her fist. The others around her sighed in agreement.
It was only Evans who had the courage to try and change the mood. "It's time to get out of here then. Screw the evac time and let's save our sorry asses. To the beach. It will be easier to survive in a more open area anyway."
Kayleigh, who was still on all fours perked up and answered him. "Agreed let's get the hell out of here."
"Easier said than done" Barkley exclaimed.
With that, the five of them gathered together their supplies and headed through a door to the unknown...
Meanwhile, somewhere in Beta Halo's library a hysterical floating orb named 426 Closed Circuit floated around the giant structure and hummed to himself, whilst analysing the data given to him by his Sentinels:
"Bring me the red armoured reclaimer."