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The Last Halo part 3
Posted By: pest/swingamajig<car_radical@yahoo.co.uk>
Date: 26 April 2006, 9:02 pm

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      Firstly, a big thanks to the fans of the series and I ask them to keep reading!
      Secondly, if virgins to the series do not understand phrases such as "Peacekeepers" or the relevance of certain incidents then I ask them to read the previous parts of the series to understand fully what is happening before slating my story!

The Last Halo
Part 3

      Onboard the glorious cruiser Trial And Tribulation, a ninety-two year old man surveyed the events unfolding around him. Despite old age creeping up on him in recent years, John remained one of the Peacekeepers finest tacticians and motivational leaders. His knowledge of the Flood and extensive battle experience made him a natural choice to lead the assault on Beta Halo.
      "Cortana report!"
      "All survivors have fallen back to the beach. I count three human signals."
      The main screen flickered to the beach and showed three lowly marines huddled together back-to-back, frantically looking around for contacts. The casualties appeared to have been extensive despite air support and these were the only survivors of the groups posted at the elevators. A pair of Pelicans circled overhead with rear mounted chain guns at the ready.
      The Admiral sighed and shook his head. "This is not my kind of war."
      "Support is on the way so all we have to do is hold the beach until the Spartans return and then blow this island sky high," Cortana replied optimistically.
      "But there is no guarantee all the Flood will be destroyed by simply blowing it up from a distance. We have seen what can happen before…." John stood up, putting all the weight on his shaking legs. "The whole point of this war was to remove all trace of that hideous race of monsters so how can we just assume they will all die from the blast?" he asked Cortana. "It would be living a lie!" The Admiral became very out of breath at his sudden passionate outburst and collapsed back into his chair.
      The image of Cortana stood on a small pedestal next to the Admiral. Her head was stooped in shame. "We will have a clean up op after then. For now too many people are losing their lives. This is the best option."
       John composed himself. "Okay, Cortana. We can't waste anymore time so let's give them until 8 to return."


      Meanwhile, in a Flood-infested underground maze, a group of UNSC soldiers advanced cautiously towards what they hoped was the exit of the installation. The group had only formed a few minutes ago but now depended on each other to get out of the mess they were in. Evans led them through an unlocked door and they fanned out into yet another room. It had a drainage line running down the middle and a light bridge above. The door eerily shut behind them and left them completely alone and in familiar territory.
      "I've been here before", Kayleigh stated. "Up and to the left should be an elevator," she hoped. There was no guarantee this was the same spot she and Barkley had been before but it did look like it. Her visor turned to a stack of boxes. "Perhaps we could climb them?" she questioned, pointing to them.
      Evans checked his HUD and waved them on. Barkley followed, keeping his shotgun facing up on the ledge above the whole time whilst his other hand dived for a bottle to calm his nerves. The two others with SCIIs watched the flanks and Kayleigh was left watching the rear, her Shotgun poised. She made sure to keep up with the huddled group but at the same time watched the door they came from intently.
      Kayleigh's heart was beating faster with every step as she felt her feet tilt and her body descending into the dip in the floor. The floor around them was not coated with Flood goo thanks to this drainage system but she wondered how often the Forerunners had to use it during their study of the Flood. She gradually made her way under the light bridge. The sound of her feet clomping on the floor became distant and her eyes wandered up to the ledge above. Her brain fell into deep thought as she imagined her ancestors huddled around up there, studying and then killing the Flood infection forms below with their ancient weapons. The remains of the parasite were being swept into the drain.
      Suddenly the Flood remains she was imagining running down the drain turned to blood and the sound of gunfire and shouting became clearer in her ears. She looked down to see a long mutated Flood arm sticking through her torso and the last thing she remembered was the drain rushing towards her and her trail of blood covering her visor.
      "Kayleigh! No!"
      Evans fired both his SCIIs at the Flood zombie that had jumped and impaled Kayleigh. The creature let out a long growl and fell backwards with a dozen holes in it. Another landed next to him and Evans swung round his weapons to meet the new foe. The creature was recovering from the drop but still managed to swing its whip-like arm at Evans and knocked his weapons out his hands before it suffered any damage. Acting quickly, Evans remembered his combat training and swung his heavy armoured covered arm at the creatures face. The head was ripped clean off. Any other creature would have died instantly but the Flood warrior stumbled backwards. Evans took his advantage and high kicked the creature's arm. The whole arm disconnected and it swung its whole body to its side from the force of the impact. Pleased with the results, Evans kicked out with his leg again at the top of the creature's remains and it fell over dead next to its comrade.
      "Don't die on me, Kayleigh!" Evans shouted. Satisfied there were no more red dots on his HUD, he ran to Kayleigh who was lying facedown in the drain with a gaping hole in her back. He turned her over to see Kayleigh's visor stained with her own blood. He ripped off the health pack on his hip and knelt down to tend to the fallen Spartan.
      Behind Evans a wounded soldier nursed his bloodstained leg whilst another checked the pulse of the third sprawled out on the ground. He put his ear to the mouth of the downed human and felt no breath.
      "Barkley is dead, sir," he reported.
      "Kayleigh might be too if you don't shut up, Josh."
      Josh nodded and knelt down to rip off Barkley's belt. He found several shells for the shotgun but several more whisky bottles too. Throwing his empty SCII aside, he picked up Barkley's shotgun and reloaded it. He pondered over the bottles sitting happily in their satchels. The curious liquid rolled around inside. "No! It won't be the death of me too," he shouted and slung the belt back on the floor. The bottles shattered, spilling their contents.
      The second marine, apparently not startled by his friend's display, tied up the bandage on his leg and steadily regained his feet. "You ready yet guys?" he asked.
      "Almost, marine," Evans answered and carefully lifted Kayleigh up and placed her over his shoulder. He was careful not to touch her wound. "She should be fine as long as we don't run into anymore trouble," he stated happily but he had a bleak expression on his face that the others could not see behind his visor. A single tear rolled down his cheek. He pushed his sorrow aside and shouted at the marine crawling on the floor. "Josh! Stop crying over spilt milk and climb those stack of boxes over there."
      "Okay, sir" he answered, jokingly about to lick the remains of the whisky off the floor. "Come on Steven, let's go."
      Evans approached the boxes whilst the two marines clambered up them and reached the top floor. From there, they could see the exit and a light bridge between them and their destination. Even with his super strength, Evans had difficulty lifting Kayleigh's half ton up onto the ledge but he managed it. Below them, the alcoholic liquid joined the stream of blood and ran down the drain.
      The three of them made their way across the light bridge and darted though the door on the other side. The doors closed behind them with a faint click. Josh, Evans and Steven gladly acknowledged the elevator that was now staring them in the face and with that, they rode it to freedom from that cursed place.


      As the moving elevator made so much noise, it could be heard from far away in the underground Flood containment area. Its sound even reached a lonely and frightened marine who was huddled up in the corner of a pitch-black room. Kayleigh would have known him as the marine who fled; Martin. The sound of his heavy breathing was momentarily drowned out as the noise echoed around the stinking Flood smelling room. He was exhausted after all the running he had been doing.
      Then movement. A shadow flickered across the ledge above. The marine hurriedly held his gun up and pointed it into the centre of the room. Any of those monsters could ambush him in the brief time he couldn't hear clearly for the noise. Martin knew he had to get out of there sometime soon for the evac time but by waiting he could let the horde of Flood be lured out into the open first and his escape could be much easier. The shadow had soon disappeared but so had the elevator he had heard, which left him feeling totally alone again.
      Suddenly a gurgling noise interrupted the tranquillity along with the sound of glass smashing. What little light there was vanished and the marine squealed as he sat on the cold floor in a pitch-black room.
      Martin felt the floor shake and a strong force flung him straight into he wall behind him. He smashed into it hard and then fell to the floor. He felt blood seeping out of the back of his head. Nevertheless he found the strength to fire his SC into the darkness.
      "Come on you bastards!" he shouted, pulling the trigger tighter. His last minute heroics were effective and the attacker could be heard falling to the ground with a dull thud.
      Martin's celebration was short lived as he heard horrifying squelching sounds coming from every corner of the room. He knew he had absolutely no chance now so remembered Kayleigh's words. "We need as few Flood buggers running around here as we can." Not wanting to be like them in the slightest, Martin raised his SC to his head and pulled the trigger. But death didn't come. The gun clicked as it was out of ammo and he frantically reached for more.
      But he was too late as he felt masses of Flood infection forms scrambling up his leg. They dug in deep and immediately started infecting him. Martin screamed with pain and dropped his gun as a cloud of Flood latched onto him. Trembling, he reached for his grenades as his last resort but there were too many to fight past and he succumbed to the onslaught, trying not to think what he will become.


      In the mean time, three marines reached safety:
      "Right guys, let's head to the beach." Evans ordered, as he hauled Kayleigh up a little over his shoulder as she was slipping off.
Just as they were about to set off, a whooshing sound came from above them. Eight flying robots appeared that Evans recognised as Sentinels. Floating in the crowd, a small orb-like object spoke to them:
      "You have released the Flood. The only way to stop their inevitable spreading is to activate this ring. We must take this reclaimer."
      "I'm not going anywhere. I know what this ring does you know, " Evans replied. He raised his SCII using his free hand. "I won't be your tool."
      The orb appeared unthreatened and simply carried on talking."Don't worry, she will be returned to you safely and you shall all witness the spectacle and final preparations yourselves." With that, Kayleigh vanished from Evan's shoulder and so did the Sentinels in a brief flash.


Miles away, Kayleigh awoke flat on her back. Feeling no pain she sat up and checked her chest. There was oddly no gaping hole left from her last battle with the Flood. Scanning her environment she saw an object gliding down to meet her. The floating orb greeted her.
      "Hello. I am 426 Closed Circuit."

Part 4 to come…

Thanks: Lemming for providing the ultimate dictionary, his brain, and also for saving Pest's sorry ass on many an occasion.