Resistivity Chapter 3
Posted By: Roger Lin<Linrj11281@aol.com>
Date: 29 March 2002, 6:05 pm
After about ten minutes, I dropped back to check on the sergeant. He was walking steadily. I glanced at his field dressings and saw that they had already soaked through with a combination of blood, sweat, and some other unidentifiable oozing. My shoulder still hurt a bit, but in comparison to him, I was the pinnacle of health. It didn't look very good; his wounds had apparently broken open during our hike. We had to stop, at least to change bandages and give him another shot. The NLZ would give him the strength to move, but marines had been known to literally walk themselves to death under the chemical's influence. We had to get an evac soon. I called up to Davis.
"Let's stop here and try the radio again. We've enough distance now from the crash site." Davis turned and motioned his acknowledgement. The men stopped and sat down, Trotter already on the radio. The wounded sergeant, exhausted, sat down on a nearby rock. Berret had retrieved a medikit and was opening it up, rummaging through it for bandages. I left him to care for the sergeant and walked up to Davis.
As I approached, I noticed Davis was standing very still. He glanced over and motioned to me. "Listen, can you hear that?" he asked. I stopped, listening intently. After a few seconds, I looked back at Davis.
"No." I paused, looking at him. "What is it Davis?"
"It's like a... I can't really describe it. It's like it's in my head but it's more than a sound. Sort of like a humming noise?"
"Humming, huh? I don't hear it."
"Yeah, it's like that... over this way." Davis pointed uphill through the forest. I looked in that direction and saw nothing. Davis was quite observant, but this seemed unusually perceptive, even for him.
"How far out is it?"
"I don't know, sir, but..." He looked back up the hill. "We have to go check it out."
"What? Why? We've got wounded and we need evac. I can't waste time playing around here. We're going back to the others and then to the next LZ. There's Covenant patrols all over the place and..." Davis wasn't responding to my reply. He had a strange look on his face. Staring up into the forest, he appeared to be almost in a trance. I was about to shake him back to reality when he responded.
"Sir, I'm sorry, but with all due respect, I'll go myself if I have to." He began marching in the direction of the noise.
"Private... Davis... Davis!" I called after him, but he didn't even turn around. Damn. I looked back at my squad. Trot was still busy with the radio, scanning different encrypted frequencies for UNSC chatter. Berret was tending to the sergeant's wounds, with Lin's help. I jogged down to them.
"Where's Davis going?" Lin asked.
"He's, uh, going to check something out, a feeling he's getting. He's acting a little strange. It's probably nothing."
"What? I don't hear anything." Lin looked around. "What is it? You know what, it might be a Covenant psych-ambush. Sarge told me he heard they can play tricks on your brain."
Lin had a point. Although the Covenant had not been known to use psych-energy based tactics, it wasn't outside the realm of imagination that such devices were possible. Rumors circulated that the Office of Naval Intelligence had done significant research projects in this area in the past, with some surprising results; telekinesis, out-of-body travel, visions, and extra sensory perception were demonstrated. Consistency was poor, however, and it never amounted to any psych-warfare units being introduced. At least that was what the official report said. It all seemed like bad pulp science fiction to me. "It's a little hard to explain. Get us an evac. I'll be in radio contact."
"Wait a minute, where are you going? I'm coming with you." Lin got excited at the prospect of exploring an inaudible 'noise' and wanted to be included in the fun, as usual. That boy was inquisitive as hell.
"Negative, private. You stay here and help the others. When Trot finds us a ride you help secure the LZ. No sense in risking three of us for this."
Lin sat back down, slightly dejected. I turned back up slope towards Davis. He had already advanced a hundred feet uphill into the forest. I could barely see him from here. I radioed him as I hurried after him.
"Davis, hold on! I'll be there in a sec. You've got ten minutes to find this thing and then we're turning back, is that understood?"
He appeared to stop. I sighed, wondering what had gotten into him. As I ran up towards him, I thought about what I knew about Davis. Almost nothing, he had transferred into my squad on Reach only last week, fresh out of training. I looked down as I slipped on something. Broken branches were slowing my progress up the steep climb. Still, his report from boot camp didn't have any red flags for insubordination. In fact, if I remembered correctly, the DI had actually commented on his 'quietness'. He didn't sound like a soldier that would disobey his commanding officer. I ducked a branch quickly before it clotheslined me. The foliage was really getting dense up here.
I caught up to Davis. He still hadn't moved from the spot where he had stopped. He was staring intently into the forest. I looked over in the direction he was looking in. We were standing on a small hill over a shallow ravine in the forest. There were some fallen logs scattered around, and leaves covered the forest floor. Sunlight filtered through the dense canopy of leaves overhead.
"OK Davis, this is very pretty, but what exactly are we looking..."
Davis held up his hand, not looking at me, but instead into the ravine. I watched as his eyes followed the ravine uphill and then stopped. He motioned with his hand.
"There, Lieutenant. We are supposed to go there." His voice was quiet, his face inscrutable.
I looked up into the ravine. It ended in darkness. What did he mean 'supposed to'? "Davis, this could be a Covenant ambush. What's up there?"
He jumped down into the ravine and started walking. "Hang on a sec..." I reached for his shoulder but missed. Taking a defensive stance to give cover fire, I trained my rifle on the ravine, scanning for possible enemies. I looked again at the dark area, wondering what was so interesting about it, and then I saw it. A metallic surface was hidden underneath leaves and dead foliage. It was hard to see, even looking straight at it, covered as it was. I craned my neck to get a better look. The metal didn't gleam, but it appeared to be almost glowing with an unnatural light. I jumped down after Davis and cautiously followed him up towards the metal surface, sweeping the area with my assault rifle at shoulder level.
I looked at Davis with a look of wonderment on my face. How did he know this was here? Even up this close I couldn't hear any noise at all. There didn't appear to be any Covenant nearby, otherwise we would have been toast already. I lowered the rifle. After a moment, Davis began removing the branches. I helped brush the foliage aside and uncover it. It was a door, partially open, seemingly leading inside the mountain. A control panel was situated on the right side of the doorway, covered in alien symbols and glyphs I couldn't understand. I peered into the passageway behind the door. Blackness. Davis turned to the control panel and touched it.
"Davis, don't play with... " The lights in the passageway came on. I looked in. The passageway was long, very long, with no end in sight. Roughly triangular, eight to nine feet in height, it sloped downwards, punctuated every so often but support beams running from floor to ceiling along the walls. I looked back at Davis, who merely motioned me inside as he crept forward. I radioed the team.
"We've found something in the forest, we're investigating it now. Do you have an evac?"
The response came back. "Affirmative, sir. We've got Echo 419 inbound. We've found a decent LZ about a hundred yards from our current position. She'll be here in fifteen minutes, sir."
"Roger, Corporal. We'll be back shortly. LT out." I whispered to Davis, "We've got ten minutes before we've got to head to the LZ. Let's make this quick." Davis nodded, and set out in a flat run down the passageway.
"Dammit Davis, not like that!" I called after him, then gave chase. He's going to get himself killed, I thought to myself as I ran down the passageway. I checked the safety on my assault rifle so it wouldn't go off and slung it over my good shoulder. The throbbing in my sprained shoulder was bearable now, as my endorphins had begun taking effect. Pulling out my pistol, I ran, catching up to Davis. The pistol would be a better choice given the close quarters, I thought, it being easier to maneuver. Davis had reached the bottom of the slope and was in an antechamber of sorts, with passageways extending in three directions. He didn't even slow down as he turned left and disappeared around the corner. I rounded the corner a second later, and ran down the second passage. I could barely make out Davis' form running ahead. We turned down two more passageways, at random it seemed. I stopped at each one, trying to remember where we came from, then continuing on after Davis. I had just about lost sight of him, when the passage suddenly opened up into a large room, no ceiling in sight. I stopped, catching myself. There could be anything in this room. I switched on my motion tracker only to see Davis' signal disappear out of range. I cursed.
"Davis, stop where you are!" I radioed Davis as I continued to check the room for any signs of movement. There was no telling what was in this tunnel complex.
Static responded on my headset. "Davis, come in. Davis!" More static. I could barely hear Davis over it. There was some interference in the structure. I crept over to the far side of the room. It was very large, almost a hundred feet from where I entered to the far side. It appeared to be multi-level, as there were platforms and large structures seen on the sides of the room. The center of the room contained a raised platform enclosed in glass. I tried the radio again to no avail.
I checked my watch. Seven minutes had gone by since we had found the entrance. And now we were deep inside the complex. I thought I knew how to get out of here, but I'd probably have to play back my vidchip to do it, which would take some time to backtrack from. I'd miss our evac and get stuck down here with Davis; that is, if I ever found Davis again.
Suddenly, a loud noise startled me. I dove behind a large pillar. Checking motion, I saw a signal approaching from one of the corridors leading into the room. Training my pistol scope on the entrance, I watched as the signal got closer. Twenty, ten. A dark form flashed by my scope and burst into the room. I checked my urge to fire. It was Davis.
"I got it, I got it! Let's go!" Davis was shouting.
"What did you get? What is it?"
"Let's go, let's go!" Davis' voice trailed as he took off towards the corridor that we entered through. I sighed. Not again.
I ran after Davis for the second time that day. He wound through corridors and passageways, making lefts and rights through the winding tunnels. I barely had time to think which way was out while trying to keep up with him. I hoped that he knew his way.
We eventually arrived at the long upwards passage towards the surface. I smiled in relief. Davis had found the exit. As I raced up the slope after him, I had a strange sensation of something behind me. Glancing over my shoulder, I saw nothing. Just nerves, I thought to myself. Davis' unnatural behavior had spooked me. As we climbed the sloped passageway, my radio began crackling. I only caught bits and pieces as we got closer and closer to the exit.
"...read..." A short burst of static. "...advance patrol..." More static. "...are you? We are heading for evac NOW." As we burst into the forest again, the static cleared up. It was Trotter, and we were already late for evac. Davis had stopped at the entrance and was looking around. I grabbed him and rushed downhill back to the others through the dense foliage while replying to Trot.
"Roger Corporal, we are on our way."
"Where the hell WERE you? You were out of radio contact the WHOLE time!" Trotter was looking at us. He was the only one around. "The others are already headed towards the LZ. Let's go!"
"Davis, you've got some explaining to do." I looked at him, and he looked down. "Later. Let's go." Trot led the way as we both followed him towards our evac point.
"Covenant forces are massing in that clearing we saw. Foe Hammer says she saw them start marching up towards our position and there may be one or two advance patrols nearby. How do they know we're here?" Trot asked we ran over to the LZ.
"It might have something to do with what we found." I answered. "I'll explain later." We reached the LZ, a relatively clear area on the mountainside. The Pelican hovered facing downhill, waiting for us about one hundred feet distant downslope. Dust and leaves blew around haphazardly.
"About time you guys showed up. I was about to leave." Foe Hammer radioed.
"Nice to see you too, Foe Hammer." I radioed back.
I was about to get into the back of the Pelican when Trotter tackled me. Hard. I landed on my side, painfully, as my injured shoulder crunched into the ground inches from a large rock in front of me. Thinking that he was overreacting to our little diversion back there, I struggled to stand and ream him a new one for his insubordination. The big man held fast, and I couldn't move. I was about to shout at him when I saw the green flashes of light crisscrossing in the space we had just occupied.
"Jackals on my four o' clock! I count three, maybe four!" Foe Hammer, at a higher vantage point, radioed our enemy's position.
Trotter rolled off and lay flat on his back, partially shielded by a shallow rise in the ground. Plasma impacted the ground in front of him, the dirt turning glassy under the intense localized heat. I was safe behind the large rock I had narrowly missed cracking my skull on as Trot saved me from becoming the next plasma burn victim in our group. I yanked my pistol out of its holster and carefully peered out through the 2x scope. Assault rifle fire erupted from behind me as Davis fell into a firing stance.
"Covering fire!" Lin shouted as he leapt out of the Pelican's back door, landing roughly on the ground. I watched from my prone state as he opened up, spraying suppressing fire on our attackers as he advanced quickly on their position. Berret was close behind, pistol blazing. I looked over at Trot, motioned towards the jackals, and nodded. Jumping to my feet, I began running at the squad of jackals, with Trot and Davis close behind.
Approaching, I noticed idly that I could only see three jackals, completely occupied with the impromptu charge led by Private Lin. We would probably make it out of this encounter alive. I holstered the pistol and primed my last grenade, lobbing it underhand at the group of jackals. It landed just behind the group. I drew my weapon from its holster and aimed at the lead jackal. The explosion sent two jackals flying, their handheld shields shattering out as the frag's shock wave blew through them like a cannonball through plate glass. The third, further away, was knocked off its feet into the brush. It scrambled to regain its footing as it turned its shield towards me a scant fifteen feet away.
I opened fire at the jackal, trying to draw a bead on the exposed weapon hand. The plasma pistol swiveled toward me and green bursts flashed by my head. I ducked instinctively and squeezed off two shots before Trot's form blocked my line of sight. Running full speed, he launched into a shoulder block that connected with the jackal's torso. They went flying into the ground, the jackal landing on its back hard a few feet beyond Trotter. Quickly, I zoomed my scope on its chest and opened fire. Three shots rang out and the jackal lay dead, twitching involuntarily.
I ran over to help Trot to his feet. Dragging him to his feet, I looked downhill towards Lin and Berret.
"Let's evac! More Covenant are probably on the way!" Lin radioed from his position. They started running back. Trot motioned that he was ok, and we sprinted down, Davis in the lead.
We jumped in the back of the Pelican. The wounded sergeant was strapped in across one bank of seats on the right side, next to Berret and Lin. We jumped in on the left. "We're in." The Pelican rose and flew off. As it banked right, I looked out the bay door and saw a cloud of Banshees circling over an area in the forest about two kilometers away. Further out the smoke trail from our lifeboat was visible. Covenant ships were dropping to the ground in the area, presumably reinforcing what had to be fifty to one hundred Covenant already on the ground. We sped away, leaving the commotion behind. No Banshees were following us. It appeared that we had escaped scot-free.
"Everyone all right?" I asked. Nods confirmed my assumption.
I looked back at Davis. "Now. Explain to me what the hell you've got and why I've had to chase you through that maze back there." Davis dug into his pack and drew out the object that he had retrieved from the depths of the underground complex.
Transparent and sparkling in the sunlight, Davis held a large multifaceted crystal. Whistling, Lin reached for it. "Let me see that, man, it must be worth billions..." Davis drew it back from him.
"Hang on a minute, man, this is important." Davis turned it over in his hands and looked into the crystal, peering intently. "There's something inside that's important." He put it back down in his lap and looked over at me. "But I don't know what."
"Oh that's great, Davis, you're a real genius." Trot leaned back in his seat, uninterested. "We're about to get swarmed by Covies and you're out treasure huntin'."
Davis insisted. "No, man this is important!"
I interrupted. "Private, how did you know where to go in that complex? I was lost after the first two turns. You acted like you had BEEN there before."
"I... I don't know Lieutenant. I was just following that feeling I got. You know, back in the forest."
I paused. Davis had been acting strange ever since we had stopped to rest. Somehow he knew where to enter that complex, and where the object was inside the complex. "Let me see that thing." I reached for it as Davis urged me to be careful and not drop it out the open back door of the Pelican. Davis had run through the tunnels as if guided by this object, something that he felt was greatly important. Where had he gotten that sense from?
The crystal was warm in my hands. Probably from Davis holding on to it, I thought. I held it up to the light, turning it in my hands. Sunlight filtered through the roughly spherical object, scattering on the multiple inclusions within the body of the crystal. It was faceted like a diamond, but the facets were not symmetrical or aesthetic. It appeared to have been artificially created or polished. The bottom was perfectly circular, with a rim about a half an inch deep enclosing a shallow pocket in the shape of what looked like a seven pointed star. The weight of it surprised me. For an object the size of about a coconut, it was exceedingly light. It definitely wasn't your average Waterford lead crystal. I put my ear right up to the crystal and listened. No sound. I drew my sidearm. I gently tapped it against the crystal and listened to the sound, eliciting a horrified look from Davis. I stopped.
"So what is it, Lieutenant?" Lin asked. "I mean, what's it for?"
"I don't know Private. We should get it back to command and let them decide what to do with it. It's not our problem." I handed the object back to Davis, over Lin's protests. "Davis, this is lovely, but you're on report." I thought back to the massing Covenant forces we left behind. They certainly weren't there for our benefit. One downed lifeboat did not warrant dispatching an entire division of troops to secure. Perhaps they were there for the very object I held in my hands. But why? It didn't matter. As long as the Covenant wanted it, it would be better that they didn't get it. Davis had most likely done something good in his insanity, but he had taken very unnecessary risks in doing so, and there was no sense in encouraging that kind of behavior.
"Foe Hammer, how far to the command shuttle?"
"Not too far. But I have to drop you off at a transfer point. There's lots of marines to rescue in this area, and I've got the most fuel. You can catch a ride the rest of the way from there."
"Roger that." We rode on in relative silence. Looking out the back door, I got my first good view of the construct we had crash-landed on. There was no horizon in the direction of the ring, just a tapered continuation of land that traveled impossibly high into the sky. It was rather unnerving to see. Though similar in nature to some of the artificial grav space stations I had been on, this place was on a much larger scale. Whatever it had been built for must have had grand importance. Though I had seen very little by way of technology on the construct, I was certain that somewhere, this world contained devices or information well beyond the extent of human capability. The artifact that Davis had found may have something to do with it. Drawing Davis towards it like that, I thought. I wasn't affected by it at all, but Davis obviously felt some sort of irrational attraction to the object. I hoped someone at command would be able to figure out what it was for. Some of the science officers would undoubtedly be there and would want to study it for possible military uses. In addition, that hidden tunnel complex we had found would be of great interest to our tacticians. If we could find another one, it was possible to set up a rather easily defendable command center for our operations here until help arrived.
"Lieutenant, I've got more marines to rescue. Cortana and the Master Chief need me to evac another squad. We're at the transfer point, there will be another dropship along shortly. Foe Hammer out." We approached the landing zone, a large clearing in a wooded area with a steep cliff nearby. Groups of marines and crew, numbering about twenty in total, were already on the ground waiting for the next ride out of there. Apparently this was the main drop off point for marines waiting for evac to the command center. Though it wouldn't be very informative, I could probably piece together some of what was going on from the marines below. From above, I couldn't make out any of the marines on the ground. I wondered if Sgt. Spann and his squad had made it off the Autumn, or if I'd see him again. I jumped out of the Pelican as my men unloaded the wounded sergeant and helped him out to the makeshift first aid area on one side of the clearing. I figured I'd find the highest-ranking officer in the camp and get some news. It had been a long day, and it wasn't over yet.