The Spartan Wars: Neutral Bomb - Episode III
Posted By: Random 14-Year-Old<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 25 February 2005, 3:11 AM
THE SPARTAN WARS: Neutral Bomb - Episode III
1225 hours, February 1, 2651 (Military Calendar) Swan Song system, Spartan training battlefield, Omega Halo surface
"This crap has gone on long enough," Felix-2416 growled as he stood motionless in the heart of Blue Base. He glared down at the carnage smoldering beneath his feet, and the lifeless bodies of his two comrades seemed to whisper in the wind. Felix tossed the rocket launcher to the side, kneeled down, and muttered quietly, "Sorry—I had to do it—" Not that anyone could hear him, but Felix knew he needed to express the guilt he had for the sin he had committed.
Just then, as Felix was about to angrily kick the spherical bomb lying on the ground, he felt his body trembling, out of his control. His muscles contracted and relaxed, and nausea flooded through his shaking body. Felix recognized these symptoms as those experienced prior to molecular teleportation, exactly what he had been hoping for. In a fraction of a second, Felix found himself transported via a controlled Slipspace rupture, and he was now standing in a large cryo storage room. Back aboard the Disney, Felix prepared to be scolded—
"No!" came a muffled voice from a nearby hallway. "I want him to tell me exactly why he took it upon himself to massacre his teammates!" Colonel Hayden and Dr. Anders rounded a corner and entered the room. Hayden, despite his easy-going nature, was suddenly hotheaded. Anders, on the other hand, was trying to calm the man down.
"I'll deal with this, sir, it's fine," Anders said, but the Colonel just ignored him. Hayden marched across the room straight to Felix.
"What do you think of my training program, Felix?" Hayden asked, narrowing his eyes. "Is it too hard? Too easy? What?"
Felix snapped off the safety clips on his helmet and swept it off his head, and his curly black hair sprung off in every direction. His only answer to Hayden's question was a nonchalant shrug.
"Nothing's wrong with my program?" Hayden continued, not realizing how one-sided the conversation was. "So, tell me, Felix, what in the world would drive you to slaughter your comrades, just as they were about to arm the bomb and win the conflict in favor of your team?"
"I'm sorry...I don't know what came over me," Felix replied with regret. He restrained himself from looking away from Hayden's piercing eyes.
"We've had problems like this with you in the past," Hayden scolded. "So whatever it was that 'came over you,' I don't want it to happen again. If it does then I might have to boot you permanently from the SPARTAN-III program." The Colonel turned around and headed back towards the hallway he came from, shuffling his feet ever so quickly.
Felix turned his attention to Anders, who had been waiting patiently on the sidelines. "That could've gone better," Felix muttered as he tore off his gloves. The MJOLNIR suit was designed to comfort the Spartan's skin as much as possible, but there just wasn't anything like fresh air from the outside.
"Put those back on. Your helmet, too," Anders instructed. When Felix looked up with a puzzled expression, the doctor explained, "You're going back into battle. The project is finished."
Felix suddenly felt anxious with anticipation. For weeks, Felix and Anders had been working secretly on an experimental substance that would grant someone mysterious powers. During a training battle with the other Spartans, Felix would do something so horrible, such as betraying his teammates, that Hayden would be forced to eject him from the battle and teleport him up to the Disney. While the other Spartans were still in the heat of battle and Hayden was watching them from the Disney's control room, Felix and Anders would work in private on an experiment like no other. Today, Felix realized, the experiment would reach its conclusion.
The Spartan followed Anders to Cryotube #58, where the doctor entered a secret code into the keypad attached to the tube. Lights blinked and flashed on the cryotube, and with a muffled click of the system, the tube started sliding upward toward the ceiling. What lay hidden beneath the tube was the powerful secret that Felix and Anders had kept for weeks.
"Ah, the fruit of our hard work..." Anders said proudly. He reached down and picked up a titanium-glass vial. "I've tweaked the formula a bit so that your body can digest it easier." The doctor swirled the vial and opened it. A bitter smell emanated from the substance that Anders held in his hands, and Felix almost wanted to delay having to drink it.
Yes, yes... Felix thought to himself. This stuff will make me invincible—I'll soon be Hayden's favorite Spartan!
The substance, which was discovered by Anders only months ago, was a strange element that could only be found from within Slipspace. Anders had been collecting data on the characteristics of Slipspace when he found a black, goopy substance sticking to the Disney hull immediately after a Slipspace jump. After some experimentation on rats, he found that the substance could grant organisms seemingly supernatural abilities. Anders wanted to test it on one of the Spartans, but Hayden would never approve of such dangerous risks put upon one of them. And so experimentation had to be done in secret.
And what Dr. Anders was about to do was indeed quite risky, as the qualities of this "Slipstuff," Anders's nickname for the substance, were unknown and possibly dangerous. But Felix would rule the day he could surpass his peers in combat, a dream that would achieve full respect from the grump named Edward Hayden. Felix also knew that Anders would also benefit from observing the effects of the Slipstuff, and the doctor could even become famous among UNSC leaders if he could discover a good use for it.
"I'm ready," Felix said flatly. He picked up his armored gloves and slipped them back on.
The doctor hesitated for a second as he studied the murky goop sloshing around in the vial. "If you don't feel this is right..." Anders trailed off.
"Give me the damn stuff!" Felix snapped, and stole the vial from the doctor's hands. Anders watched with a slightly worried expression as the Spartan slapped the end of the vial to his mouth and chugged down the entire batch of mysterious Slipstuff. Despite the chunky, sticky characteristics of the substance, it rushed down Felix's throat nice and smooth. The only taste it had was a vague bitterness that enveloped his tongue and seeped into his nostrils. "Send me back to the battlefield."
Max sprinted through the front door of Blue Base like a mad roadrunner, anxious to discover why the hell the bomb hadn't exploded by now. Not that it was a bad thing—this gave Blue Team a second chance to achieve victory—but never in all their ages of training had a team failed to detonate the bomb at such an opportune moment. Everyone from Blue Team had died defending the base, so how was the battle not over yet?
The whole squad of Blues—Max, Tony, Evan, Billy, and Bob—filed into the heart of their base to investigate.
"Well, there aren't any campers," Tony assured after searching every nook and cranny for Red survivors. But Max had other things on his mind besides petty campers. He was more interested in the portrait of carnage that lay at his feet. Of course, there were their own mangled bodies from when they previously died, but Max quickly noticed something out of context: A Red body.
"It's the bomber..." Evan murmured. Only a few feet away was the bomb itself, resting harmlessly on the metal-plated ground.
"Well, we've got the rockets back, too!" Bob cheered when he picked up the Jackhammer rocket launcher, but Tony quickly snatched the weapon from his hands.
"It's got only one rocket left. Strange. Didn't you get blown by a rocket, Evan?" The Blue nodded silently, embarrassed by his humiliating death. "And you too, Max?"
Max paused and tried to remember. "I'm not sure. It could have been a rocket or a standard SMG. It happened in such a flash, I had no idea what hit me."
"Either way," Tony continued, "there should be more rockets in this weapon. And look—" He pointed at the giant charred mark completely covering the area where the bomber would have been standing. "One of the Reds is a Benedict Arnold. Probably the same one as usual, too."
Max realized he was talking about Felix-2416, a rather famous figure among the other Spartans. Felix had become notorious for getting ejected from the training battles and sent up to the Disney as a sort of "time out." This often left his team at a disadvantage, so most of the Spartans had begun to despise him for his unreliability. Luckily, today it was Red team that had the disadvantage.
"Well, this shouldn't be too difficult to do now that Red is down a man," Tony claimed boldly. "Let's get our asses down to their base and arm this bomb!"
The five Blues hurried out of their base, but Billy halted them suddenly and pointed to the sky.
"Yes, Billy, that's the Disney, if you haven't noticed yet," Tony said as if he were talking to a baby.
Billy groaned and shouted, "Not that! Look!" Max strained his eyes to see, but eventually he saw it. An exit pod was leaving the Disney, heading straight for the gulch. It picked up speed and the Spartans soon realized its destination: Red Base.
"Don't tell me that's what I think it is," Evan grumbled. "—who I think it is."
"Looks like our old pal, Felix, has rejoined the battle," Tony said. "I guess he'll have to experience his team getting wasted, after all."
Bob examined the spherical bomb in his hands and sighed. "Here, have this," he said to Billy, and gave his teammate the bomb. Then he turned to Tony. "Can I use the last rocket? I promise to use it wisely. I'll blow up that Banshee up there or something." The Blues looked at the enemy Banshee as it childishly spun barrel rolls in the air.
"As much as I can't wait to see that aircraft in smoldering fragments," Tony retorted, "I can't let you wield this rocket launcher, Bob. Nobody has forgotten the last time you had one of these in your hands."
Max recalled the event vividly in his mind...
Bob leaped off the platform and landed roughly on the landing below, the resting place of the valuable rocket launcher. He then rushed into the gravity lift and flew straight back to the dish at the center of Ascension.
Meanwhile, Max lay comfortably in the narrow cockpit of the Banshee as he held down the trigger of the right control stick in front of him. Plasma assaulted the enemies below, and they were forced to scatter and find cover. Max had them right where he wanted them—
"MAX! WATCH OUT!" Tony screamed into TeamChat. Out of pure instinct, Max immediately tapped some controls on the console surrounding the interior of the Banshee. The aircraft performed a perfect barrel roll, and Max breathed a sigh of relief when the rocket that had been tracking him veered off course and spiraled into the abyss beneath Ascension. He spun the Banshee around the face the enemy with the rocket launcher—Bob?! Max's own teammate was trying to annihilate him?!
"Bob! What the hell are you trying to do?!" Max yelled into the COM link.
"What am I trying to do?" Bob mocked. "What I'm trying to do is destroy an enemy vehicle. Duh!"
"That's me, you idiot!"
"No, it's not, Max. You're safely on the other side of the battlefield, of course. What I'm trying to kill is some bastard in a damn Banshee!"
Either Bob was not reading the icons on his HUD correctly or he was just retarded, but either way the guy was going to attempt to take down the Banshee Max was in. Another rocket blasted from the Bob's weapon and cut through the air, homing in on the Banshee. At just the right second, Max performed another barrel roll and narrowly evaded the dangerous rocket.
"God damn!" Bob groaned impatiently. "Just die already!"
Max could hear his other teammates screaming at Bob to halt his attack, but he completely ignored them. He let fire yet another rocket, but this time Max wasn't so lucky. It successfully impacted the Banshee in a fiery explosion, and in an instant Max's shields were absolutely depleted. The Banshee was still usable, but most of its systems were fully down or hardly working at all. The plasma cannons were offline, and the aircraft's engines were threatening to explode at any second.
Max used every scrap of energy the bird had left to boost it out of the area and to a different location on Ascension. But through the charred and shredded remains of the damaged Banshee Max could vaguely hear the muffled sound of another rocket behind him. As a final and last resort, Max slammed the EJECT button on the console. When nothing happened, he pushed up on the roof of the aircraft with all his strength and jumped out of the Banshee desperately. As he dropped safely to the ground, he saw the rocket impact the Banshee in midair, sending smoldering chunks of purple wreckage in every direction.
"Huh? Max?" a voice said warily from behind. "Oh, so it was you... Heh... Uh... Sorry..."
That had been the last time anyone let Bob touch a rocket launcher, and Tony wasn't about to hand over the weapon, not in a million years. He and the other Blues noticed the dust thrown up in the air near Red Base—obviously caused by the landing of the returning Spartan.
"I don't know why Felix decided to come back to the battle this time, but it's a big mistake on his part," Tony said, hefting the rocket launcher up on his shoulder. "He'll get to share in the pain of the rest of Red Team."
"The traitor has returned?" Louis growled when he saw the pod impact the ground just outside Red Base. Wait a second... Louis thought. His HUD normally displayed his teammates' status based on the information transmitted by their MJOLNIR suits, but something was wrong with Felix's icon. Instead of the normal black-star-on-a-white-background icon that displayed his location and status, it had been replaced by a generic grey box. Something is causing his suit to malfunction, Louis realized. He dearly wished to stay in place and continue to snipe the Blues, but whatever was wrong with Felix could have drastic effects on the entire Red Team. Louis tossed aside his precious sniper rifle and began sprinting back to Red Base.
To be continued...