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Achilles Last Stand: (part.1 of 2)
Posted By: SeverianofUrth<residentpark@aol.com>
Date: 15 May 2004, 4:15 AM

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      What remains of the rammer transporter Achilles is in wrecks upon the center of the city, New Angeles; we have currently set up defense perimeter around the wreckage, setting up what remains of the stationary guns in a feeble attempt to repel the hostile biological organisms that seem to prowl the barren streets of this now-dead city.
      "Page! Come on, the techies thought they spotted some of the damn things on the comm. sat!" Plant yells at me. I nod, waving for him to go on ahead. He nods, and runs off.
      Oh gods. I finally load the battle rifle, checking the scope to make sure it is battle-ready. Then I look out over the barricades that we have set up all around, to the desolate city outside.
      One thing I can say: they do a through job. Although the buildings still stand, rising up far towards the sky and the void in mockery of Babel, and the subtrans still run, the city is dead. Dead, a carcass of metal and plasmacrete, in which the zombies roam. A city of the dead. Not to be overdramatic here, I raise a middle finger up to the sky. Then I leave, in search of Plant.
      The shambles of metal fizz slightly, steam rising off in the process of cooling. Men scurry about, making sure the guns are in placement, the last parts of the proud -cruiser Achilles now stripped down.
      I make my way towards the comm. relays, where the techies and Plant are gathered around a small screen, talking hushed and nervously. I make my way through, flashing my insignia at whomever that stops me; at last I catch up to Plant, who nods at me and says:
      "Hey, Jim, look at this shit."
      The monitor displays a small image of one of the buildings, where a small part of the wreckage are still in rambles all around. The salvage team were looting through them, in hopes of locating the Big Black Box that we were currently transporting, before we got shot down... by something.
      Anyhow, no one is there longer. I look carefully, and with Plant's help I locate the piles of bodies that were stacked up around any corner or nooks; and there is blood spilt on the ground.
      "The same things that attacked us when we got grounded?" I ask. He grinned slightly.
      "The same. The Flood virus organisms that attacked us just when we crashed. We got a little situation here, you might say." He motioned over to another screen, in which statistics were displayed. "Only five hundred men left alive in the crash. Fifty now dead, thanks to the welcome we received. Command can't spare anymore rescue efforts, unless we somehow retrieve the Big Black Box..."
      I didn't like where this was goind. "What do you mean?"
      "Well, the dropship the Big Black Box was stored in fell approximately fifty kms from here. We still haven't managed to pinpoint it's location yet, and besides, a hand-eye search will do better, anyways. I want you to take fifty men, and comb out the area. Take the Big Black Box and bring it back here, and if you can't, tag it or destroy. The Covenant welcome party will barge in here soon enough. We can't let whatever that's in the Box fall in their hands."
      I salute him, in mockery of his superior status. "Aye aye, sir."
      "I knew I could count on you, Page."

      I took my leave later, after receiving what was considered enough info. I was granted the permission to pick by hand fifty men. This was hell for me: I never bothered to get to know any of the men, and so never trusted any of them. In the end, I ended up pulling a Sergeant out, and asking him to pick 49 other men. He nodded.
      "Got that, Sergeant... Cordoza?"
      "Aye, sir. 49 other chaps of unsurpassed combat capabilites. A pity we don't have enough of the mechs here, sir."
      He grins. "The Spartans, sir. We currently hold in what remains of the cryo-bay three of the damn things. We can probably activate them, with your permission... sir."
      "You have my permission, Sergeant."

      Commandeering enough vehicles to hold all these men were rather troublesome; the techies ended up modifying the warthogs we had to carry two extra men. Even so, only half the men were on the vehicles, the other on foot. The three Spartans, giants in green armor, went on foot.

      The comm. sat relays showed no hostiles west of the wreckage, and that was the way we set out.

      The alarms rang inside the hulls of Achilles.
Kassad, a private of no importance, ran along to his station, rifle in hand; hostile organisms were approaching the perimeters. He reached his station, beside the large gun turrets of a wrecked Scorpion tank. He smiled and waved to the gunner, Sev.
      "Hey, how you doing?" He yelled.
      "Not fine at all, Arab." Sev, Kassad remembered, hated what he called 'damn A-Rabs.' "Not fine at all, you fuckin' towelhead. First the damn corpses, now you? God and Jesus have mercy on us all."
      Kassad groaned inwardly, cursing his fortune in being placed for possible death will of all the people, Sev.
He cursed in his mind a dozen deities that sprang into his mind. He merely flipped a mental middle finger at the sky.
      Kassad scoped out the entrenchments well ahead of the broken tank, where men scurried by, setting up mines in preparation for the upcoming horde. Then, suddenly, he spotted a small cloud of dust coming up... Then some corpses, walking with tentacles and tendrils sprouting out of their bodies. No, running.
      "Get ready, men!"