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The Spartan Wars: Neutral Bomb - Episode I
Posted By: Random 14-Year-Old<i-rule-2008@sbcglobal.net>
Date: 4 February 2005, 5:58 AM

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1155 hours, February 1, 2651 (Military Calendar) Swan Song system, aboard civilian-class vessel Disney, above surface of Omega Halo

      Colonel Edward Hayden proudly surveyed his Spartans, who had just been transported to the surface of Omega Halo. The giant window in front of him was wide enough so that he could see the entire gulch, a.k.a. Blood Gulch. No matter what it was called, it was the training ground for the most powerful soldiers the Human race had to offer.
      "Are you sure you want to continue these exercises?" Doctor William Anders interrupted Hayden's thoughts. "The Spartans hate it and the UNSC will find out sooner or—"
      "These exercises will continue until I say stop," Hayden said sternly. "The Covenant hit us hard and nearly wiped us out. Do you want that to happen again? Do you want to be attacked by another alien race, without a thing to defend us?"
      Anders started to argue back, but stopped and walked away from the window. Hayden returned to deep thought. His grandfather had fought and died in the final battle with the Covenant, right here in this area of space. But where had the "amazing" Spartans been during that battle, the ones that supposedly "could not die?" The Covenant came so close to activating the rings, but the UNSC managed to fight back and destroy the alien race before that happened. And it was done without the Spartans. Hayden was determined to train hundreds more Spartans, just to make sure that the Human race would have a fighting chance next time around. And his flawless training program was just about to begin hundreds of meters below him.

1200 hours, February 1, 2651 (Military Calendar) Swan Song system, Spartan training battlefield, Omega Halo surface

      Maxwell-3392 clicked on his helmet and booted up the systems in his MJOLNIR Mark-13 armored suit. His HUD (Heads-Up Display) snapped to life, and a treasure trove of data appeared on the inside of his visor. It wasn't mathematical or logistical data, but instead a collection of tactical advantages useful in the midst of battle. A motion sensor, ammo supply, and shield status were all clearly displayed by the transparent LCD screen that sat in front of Max's eyes. But then again, technically they weren't advantages, because his enemies all had the same resources.
      Each of Max's enemies was suited and equipped the same way as him, and the only thing that differentiated them from one another was the unique person under all the armor. There were ten warriors in the battle that was about to begin, and all of them were Spartans. Max sighed. Great warriors were going to die on this battlefield today, and for what? All Spartans had to go through decades of training, only to be forced to take the risk of dying in a final battle that isn't even necessary! Colonel Hayden called it "survival of the fittest." Max called it suicide.
      "Can everyone hear me?" Anthony-1127 asked through the COM link, which was specialized for constant communication between teammates and named TeamChat. There were five members total on Max's team, and the same for the opposition. Their goal was to retrieve the single bomb set in the distant field, move it to the enemy base, and plant it there.
      "Loud and clear, Tony," Max replied, and the others said the same. Suddenly the Disney lit up in the sky, and let out a buzz that rang through the air. Steam excreted out of its underside, and a tiny dot was shot downward toward Blood Gulch. The dot became a small spherical object that impacted the center field, and dust was propelled into the air.
      "Well, let's get to work," a Spartan groaned. Max didn't bother to check the corner of his HUD to see who had spoken; his mind was set on retrieving that bomb as quickly and painlessly as possible.
      Max hurried to the Covenant Ghost, got in, and started it up. Lights glowed at the sides and he floated off the ground smoothly. Ever since the Covenant had been defeated almost a hundred years ago, a lot of their technology and vehicles had been put to good use by the UNSC. Despite the fact that Max had been using Covenant junk during training for years, he still hated the horrible shade of purple on everything. Couldn't the UNSC at least paint the equipment gray or something?
      He smashed on the boost accelerator, and he zoomed off into the hilly landscape. Just as he was about to step out and grab the bomb, another Ghost flew in from over a hill and began to drill plasma into Max.
      "Burn!" the opposing driver squealed. "Buuurrrrrrnnnnn!!!" Apparently there were some Spartans that actually enjoyed this torturous training exercise.
      Max strafed in the Ghost from side to side, but the enemy plasma fire was nonetheless tearing apart his ride. The wings on the vehicle melted and tore off. Max knew he was going to lose, so he reverted to a different strategy. He punched the accelerator and boosted the Ghost past the enemy. Then he quickly spun back around and continued firing at the confused enemy Ghost. A small explosion detonated on the left of the enemy vehicle. Bingo! Max had hit the plasma engine. The Ghost exploded into pieces, and the enemy's body was thrown to the ground, dead. Max got out of his own Ghost and examined the carnage it had gone through. Bits of charred metal littered the ground, and purple sparks spewed from his Ghost, which wouldn't be safe to drive anymore.
      Max heard the ominous revving of wheels, the indicator that a Warthog was near. Strangely, he heard the sound from both sides of him. Without warning, two Warthogs charged into the area, one that was friendly, and one that was not. Each gunner began firing immediately into the opposite vehicle, and Max watched in awe as both Warthogs spun donuts and did other maneuvers to try and dodge incoming fire. Before he knew it, Max saw one of the cars lose a wheel, spin out of control, and explode in a fiery inferno. Three red X's appeared on Max's HUD, notifying him that his teammates were dead.
      The surviving Warthog spun to face Max, and terror pulsed through the lone Spartan. He thought quickly and reached down for the bomb—but his eyes caught something else. Max noticed a convenient rocket launcher sitting right next to the bomb. He quickly grabbed the heavy weapon, heaved it on his shoulder, and took aim at the enemy vehicle.
      "Rocket, comin' to yah!" Max yelled, and locked on to the Warthog. The rocket's tracking ability would seek and destroy the enemy without fail—
      "Maxwell, I forbid you to fire that weapon!" someone said on the COM link. According to Max's HUD, it was Anthony, who was sniping from the rocky outcrops.
      "Pardon? I have a lock! The Warthog is as good as fried!" Max replied tensely. The enemy vehicle was circling the area, and Max had to spin to keep the rocket launcher locked on.
      "I don't care if you have a lock or a Valentine gift! You will not fire that weapon! We need that Warthog to transport the bomb!"
      The Hog suddenly started charging straight towards Max, and the enemy gunner started unloading lead into his shields. "Tony!" Max cried desperately. "Are you going to snipe that gunner or not? He's killing me...!" It was true. The bullets pinged and weakened Max's shields, and in seconds his speakers were blaring that all-too-familiar alarm that indicated his shields were dead.
      "I'll snipe him..."
      "Hurry up!" Max said impatiently. There was nowhere to take cover and let his shields regenerate. If Tony didn't snipe that gunner soon and Max didn't fire the rocket launcher, he would be roast meat in no time. Suddenly a message flashed across Max's HUD: Anthony-1127 sniped by Louis-1337. "Aw, crap..." Bullets tore through Max's flesh, and he couldn't summon the energy to pull the trigger on the rocket launcher as he dropped dead to the ground.
      Max respawned on the other side of the gulch, back at Blue Base. He looked down at his body, which was completely free of scars, burns, or scratches. He sighed in relief. There was at least one thing good about Colonel Hayden; he listened to feedback. The Spartans had been begging for a long time for death simulations, instead of having good warriors die for real in training. Now, all of the Spartans would return to their base after death, saving lives, yet making the training exercise considerably longer.
      "You said you would snipe the gunner," Max growled at Tony as they stood silently in the base with the rest of the team.
      "Well, I didn't expect to be sniped myself, alright?" Tony defended himself. "I was wearing goddamn camouflage!"
      Max fell quiet and looked down into the basement of the base. Empty. "Uh, I didn't know someone took the banshee—" He noticed that all five members of the team were inside the base— "Damn it!" A hurtful realization hit Max—Blue Team was completely out of resources. Red Team had stolen their Banshee, destroyed their Hog and Ghost, taken the rocket launcher, and to top it all off, those Red bastards had a dangerous sniper lurking around.
      "Flex those muscles, boys," Tony ordered. "We're in for one hell of a difficult fight."

      Louis-1337 rolled his fingers from side to side as he rested his head on his trusty sniper rifle. Now that his team had the rocket launcher, a Hog, and two Banshees circling the sky like vultures, arming the bomb at Blue Base would prove to be a walk in the park. Louis aimed his rifle precisely into Blue Base and prepared for an easy win...

To be continued...