Prologue to Halo
Posted By: Chris Seward<Noddy99@aol.com>
Date: 5 March 2000, 1:09 a.m.
General Robert Flynn wiped his forehead nervously as he looked over the area where his soldiers were gathered. They were relaxing, playing cards, eating, sleeping, essentially spending their days as leisurely as possible, waiting for the rescue ships to come and bring them back to Earth. Since the crash, one by one, the men who were scattered throughout the planet have been making their way to this camp, called Gathering Point, for obvious reasons. One or two men would drift in every day, and kick back and relax. Flynn was the only person in camp who wasn't having the time of his life. Because he knew.
He had found it while searching through the crash site a few days ago. He had been one of the first ones to inspect the Pillar of Autumn after it had crashed, searching for survivors. Instead, he found lumps of charred flesh and metal. After rummaging around through the rubble, he found a computer terminal that seemed partially intact. If it was the main data terminal, then he could get information about the flight and how the ship crashed.
Flynn took out his dagger and pried off the main cover. The computer's innards spilled all over the floor in a huge jumbled mess, and Flynn had to sift through the rubble for a few minutes before he found what he was looking for: the data storage. He snapped it open with his dagger and took out the disk. Examining it, he found no scratches or damage. Good. He set down his bag, opened it, and took out his computer, into which he inserted the disk. He double-clicked the icon on his desktop and clicked "Play".
The disk filled his screen with many different windows; one monitoring the barracks of the soldiers in cryo, one monitoring the engine room, one the pilots' cabin, one showing the ship's diagnostics, and even one that was being transmitted by a tiny droid encircling the ship. He closed the window of the barracks; soldiers in cryo weren't very interesting.
The first three quarters of the voyage were filled with the same old boring things: the same boring pilots drinking the same boring coffee every boring day at boring ol' 3:00 PM. He skipped all of this footage. During the last two weeks of the voyage, one of the ship's three engines blew out, causing a panic and a scrambling of all available men to help douse the flames. They had it under control within half an hour, and had repaired it by the end of that day. He skipped through another week and five days, down to the last two days. Most of the windows did not change, but the orbiting droid's camera began displaying large patches of darkness behind the Pillar of Autumn, where stars should be. It became more readily apparent on the last day; nothing was visible other than the ship and three planets in front of it. Near the end of that last day, the blackness began to change color and take shape. These shapes darted towards the ship with frightening speed. Only one possibility, Flynn thought. Alien ships.
The fighter craft began firing energy beams at the Pillar of Autumn. The transport ship, which was not well suited to battle, could not hit the fast-moving fighters with its primitive cannons or sustain many hits. The fighters quickly disabled the ship by destroying its engines, and then attacking the main hull. The ship was caught in the gravitational pull of one of the three planets it was approaching, and without its engines it could not pull out fast enough. However, thanks to the quick thinking of the pilots, every man in the barracks was jetissonned to the planet in his or her own escape pod, right as the fighters dealt the finishing blow to the transport. They attempted to take out the escape pods, but only managed to eliminate one hundred or so before they had picked up speed towards the planet and were unreachable.
Disturbed at this revelation of an alien threat, Flynn thrusted his computer back into his bag and walked back to join the main contignent of scavengers. This was three days ago.
Flynn had not told any of his men about this. He had feared it would only lead to panic or cowardice, the two most dreaded diseases to fall upon any army. There were worse things that could happen, though. If he chose to not tell the men about it, they could be attacked and destroyed before they had a chance to pick up a gun. If he chose to tell them, it would risk their morale. He decided to compromise.
"Stevens! Stevens, get your butt in here!" Flynn yelled.
Lieutenant Mike Stevens nearly fell over himself getting into Flynn's office. "Yessir!" he saluted.
"I've been seeing some strange creatures around here lately, Stevens," Flynn said slowly. "I think it best that the men be required to carry a weapon with them at all times. You know, just to be safe. Nothing big."
"Yessir. I'll go notify them immediately."
"Hey, dawg, pull up a chair! Pull up a chair!"
"No, thanks, I'm fine."
"Come AWN, man, ya don't know whatcha missin'!"
Colonel Chris Machevelli sat down, taking off his helmet, revealing his unkempt, dirty blone hair and blue eyes. He took his cards. "What's the starting bet?"
The guy next to him grinned. "$50, starting bet."
Chris laughed. "OK, but don't come crying to me when you're broke." He threw a few coins into the middle of the table. Everyone else did the same. "I'll take three cards." He passed in his original three in exchange for three new cards, and immediately jumped up and yelled, "YEEEEEEEEAH, BABY!!!!" Two other players immediately folded. Another folded when he saw Chris's famous mile-wide grin of victory, which was so big namely because his head was so abnormally large. It was down to Chris and the dealer, sitting right across from him. The man threw in $60. Chris threw in $70. Then $80. Then $90. $100. $120. $150. $200. At $200, the man folded, hoping to keep what little money he had left. Chris laughed and threw his cards down onto the table: a queen, an ace, a two, a three, and a six. Absolutely nothing.
The man was furious. He swore, ripped his cards to shreds, and threatened to kill him, but the others held him back while Chris happily gathered his winnings and left.
As he walked out the door, he almost collided with his superior officer, Lieutenant Stevens. "Hey, Mike, what's up? Shouldn't you be hammering yourself down at the beer tent about now?"
Stevens chose to ignore that comment. "The General orders that all soldiers in this vicinity are required to carry a weapon with them at all times from now on until further notice. No questions are to be asked at this point in time."
Chris raised an eyebrow. "You didn't even pass the 3rd grade, and you're talking like a Harvard graduate?"
Stevens walked away.
As Chris walked to his tent to pick up his pistol, the sunlight suddenly lessened significantly. Turning towards the sun, he saw a large black cloud slowly covering the sun. Strange, we had never had rain here before. Shrugging, he walked into his tent.
As he popped a fresh clip into his pistol, he heard someone scream outside. Running outside, he saw that the black cloud had nearly engulfed half the sky. Looking closer, he realized that that wasn't a cloud-it was a starfleet.
Stevens had finished spreading the word around the northern barracks, and was proceeding outside to the southern section. Looking up into the sky, his heart leaped. The rescue ships were here at last!
He ran out into the open, waving his arms at one of the approaching craft. For some reason, the ships did not look like normal Earth starships, but he was too excited to care.
Flynn had been dreading this for three days. He had known it was inevitable. Assuming that each fighter carried one passenger, the aliens outnumbered them at least a thousand to one. Their only hope was that the aliens' culture rested on a foundation of some sort of honor, so that they would not simply use their superior firepower to obliterate us all at once, but take us on man-to-man, without aid of such extreme advantages. We could only hope.
Until then, however, Flynn decided that the best course of action would be to fight. He picked up the PA microphone. "All men, red alert!! I repeat, red alert!! To your battlestations!! Suit up and move out!!"
Any other soldiers would have panicked at the sight of such overwhelming odds. However, all of these soldiers were veterans from the Rebellions on planet T-16. That meant that they knew how to deal with this kind of thing: quickly and efficiently.
Within five minutes every soldier had suited up in battle armor, found a weapon, and begun firing at the ships. Surprisingly, the ships had not fired back. Suffering minimal damage from the humans' weapons, they had all flown over to a nearby field and landed. They then exited their vehicles and ignited their swords, then began to charge at the humans.
The humans, of course, knew that if this became hand-to-hand, they wouldn't stand a chance, so they equipped themselves with only the most brutal weapons. One man manned the tank, while others used the jeeps to drive around the enemies in a circle, laying down fire from all angles; others took some of the heavy weaponry kept in the armory depot: chainguns, assault rifles, and flamethrowers. The aliens' purplish, unarmored bodies did not withstand many bullets; one bullet anywhere in their torso or head and they were dead. However, their sheer number is what let them keep advancing upon the humans. They had lost nearly a thousand aliens by the time they managed to get within fighting distance with the closest human. Now, however, the humans were at the aliens' mercy.
Stevens screamed in horror as one of the ugly aliens tackled him to the ground. He shoved his pistol into the alien's face, and fired three times. He kicked off the alien's body and fired his whole clip at the surrounding aliens. He then unsheathed his sword, and began to hack off the aliens which were swarming him. One alien swung his energy blade; Steven could feel his left arm no more. He threw his sword with his right arm right into the chest of the alien closest to him, spraying purple blood onto his battle armor, delving one final kill before they were upon him.
Upon seeing this alien swarm, Chris had quickly manned a jeep and driven to his personal sanctuary, a small forest about five hundred feet away. He hid the jeep under some brush and unpacked his Arctic Warfare Commando sniper rifle. He slid on the silencer, laid down on the ground, and zoomed in. One kill. Another. Another. They were easy targets, and Chris emptied his entire 20-round clip, missing none. Luckily, he thought, he had the jeep's main gun to keep him company. Flynn watched in utter horror as one by one his men were slaughtered at the hands of the aliens. They fought desperately, and each one of them took at least 30 of the enemy with him. Some of them, however, were so frightened that they begged for mercy, which the aliens did not deliver. They simply killed the man on the spot.
Flynn decided that he would not be one of those men. He grabbed his double-barreled rocket launcher, and walked out of his tent. They were at least 100 yards from him. Good.
He fired once, then twice, into their main contignent of aliens. A huge orange-purple cloud of blood and body parts flew up into the air. However, the aliens immediately saw him and charged. Luckily, Flynn had a backup plan.
He pressed a button on the rocket launcher. The two barrels of it compressed and dissapeared from view. A different, smaller barrel emerged and took place where the two barrels used to be. A large canister also emerged from the back of the weapon. Naturally, the aliens thought nothing of it. But they should have.
Flynn pulled the trigger. A huge stream of flaming liquid shot from the gun and onto the aliens. He held down the trigger, and the entire enemy formation melted into a thousand flaming aliens. Their bodies were quite flammable; simply being close to one another set off a chain reaction.
Another regiment of aliens charged Flynn from the opposite side. Flynn turned and pulled the trigger as quickly as possible. Nothing happened. He must have used all the gasoline on the other group.
Frightened, Flynn began to run. The aliens' long strides gained on his quickly. He knew he would never make it. The alien closest behind him leaped for his head, when suddenly, a jeep roared around the corner. Its solitary passenger yelled, "Flynn! DUCK!!"
Flynn quickly lept for the ground. The alien behind him was reduced to purple sludge. "Flynn, come on! Get to the jeep!"
The General quickly threw himself into the driver's seat. Chris welcomed him heartily from the gun turret. "Hey, Rob, what's up, man!"
Flynn looked at him. "Aren't you the guy who single-handedly took out the Third Rebellion squadron?"
Chris scratched his head. "Uh... yeah."
Flynn nodded as he revved up the engine and narrowly escaped three alien lasers. "You're getting a promotion, soldier."
The jeep flew out of the alien-overrun camp. The aliens had killed everyone in it who had not escaped. Nearby, a jeep was driving lopsidedly with five aliens clutching one side of it, digging their energy blades into the vehicle. One of them had slaughtered the driver, and the jeep flipped over as the entire alien army swarmed over it, murdering its passengers.
Behind them, Flynn heard a humming noise. "Machevelli, isn't it? Check and see what's behind us. I think I heard something."
Chris turned around. Behind them were four alien hovercraft, keeping up with them, if not going faster. "Uh, Robert?"
"What is it?" Flynn asked. "A few of our jeeps in the distance?"
"Four alien ground craft, sir," Chris reported. "They look hostile. Orders?"
"Blow 'em away."
Chris swung around the 30mm machine gun and pointed it at the nearest one. Pulling the fire button, the gun spewed out a hundred rounds in a matter of seconds. The craft exploded in a huge ball of fire as the pilot flew out of it, hitting the ground in a bloody pile. He was about to shoot the next one when suddenly the jeep lurched upwards and into the air. Luckily, Chris was wearing his seat belt.
"Sorry about that," Flynn apologized as he swerved to avoid a large rock. The terrain up here is really various. I'll try to keep it as smooth as I can, just get rid of those craft!"
As Chris opened fire again, the craft began to open up fire of their own. The jeep's left taillight was hit, as well as their exhaust pipe, with the lasers being fired by the aliens. A few of his bullets hit their marks, but the sudden twisting and turning of the jeep made them difficult to hit.
"We're coming upon a forest!" Flynn shouted. "I'll try to lose 'em!"
The jeep darted through the trees. The alien craft followed quickly. Their laser guns and Chris's machine gun were firing rapidly, turning the trees to shreds. Chris managed to land a few more bullets, but soon they heard someone calling.
"Hey! Can anybody hear me!" the voice said.
Flynn saw the man in the road ahead, and honked his horn a few times. The man waved and grabbed Chris's hand as the jeep passed. Chris pulled the man in and into the passenger's seat.
"Hey, thanks for that," said the soldier. He held out his hand. "Matthew Taranto, First Class."
Chris shook hands with him quickly. "The name's Chris. Got a gun? Then help shoot these aliens."
The jeep took a hard turn to the right. Two of the craft hit their brakes hard, but one of them kept going. He was the one who fell off the 200-foot cliff. The jeep lurched ahead as the craft followed quickly, guns blazing.
Matt squirmed in his seat. "Uh, I can't do this. I can't shoot anyone."
Flynn rolled his eyes. This must have been one of the guys who had come at the end of the Rebellions. Obviously a rookie. "Give me your gun, kid."
Taranto handed Flynn his gun. It was one of the new assault rifles, with built-in grenade launcher. "OK, you drive. I have some aliens to kill."
They switched places as more lasers began to hit the jeep. The entire back side of the jeep was blackened and misshapen. Chris could not hit the craft as the darted in and out of his range of vision, side to side. He was running low on ammo. "Rob, I need some help here!"
A grenade flew past Chris and smashed through the windshield of one of the hoverbikes. The driver began yelling something in his alien tongue. Suddenly, it exploded in a huge blaze of glory, raining hot metal down on the surrounding area.
"Nice shot, sir!" Matt complimented Flynn.
"Heh," the general answered as he threw away the old cartridge and inserted a fresh one into the gun.
The remaining bike, whose driver was in a fit of rage at losing his companions, fired rapidly at Chris, piercing his left shoulder and bicep. He screamed and fell off the back ot the truck, tumbling across the rocky ground. The pilot of the hoverbike lept off the craft and tackled Chris, igniting his energy blade.
"Turn this thing around!!" Flynn ordered.
"Yessir!" Matt pulled the handbrake and did a 180°, then accelerated towards the two beings.
Chris drew his sword just in time to block the fatal blow from the alien's blade. He brought his knee up into the creature's solar plexus, and then hit him on the side of his head with the butt of his sword. The alien staggered back, apparently not phased by the knee, but bleeding severely from his head. Righting himself, he charged Chris, and swung his blade at Chris's leg.
Chris could not react fast enough, and the blade cut him to the bone. He screamed in agony, and in a fury swung his sword at the alien's skull. It would have probably killed it. That is, if the alien hadn't cut off his hand first.
Chris's right hand flew for 10 feet before coming to a stop 15 feet away. His sword was useless now.
Coping with the pain was all Chris could do as the alien stood over him, triumphant and shouting something in his alien language, preparing to skewer him straight through his heart. He heard a whumping noise as he closed his eyes and waited for it all to end.
Silence. Chris tentatively opened one eye. The alien was gone. And it seemed to be raining... a very strange, light rain that almost felt slimy. And, catching some in his mouth, sort of... tasty.
He pushed himself into a sitting position with his remaining hand. Flynn and Matt were driving towards him in the jeep as Flynn held his assault rifle over his head victoriously, smoke trailing from the built-in granade launcher. Chris immediately understood what the "rain" was.
"Blech!!! Phooie!!!" Chris spat, trying to rid his mouth of alien remains. Flynn and Matt ran over to help him up.
"You OK, man?" Matt asked. "That grenade almost hit you."
It was true. Where the alien had been standing, which was less than a foot in front of Chris, was a small crater filled with purple goo. Chris's battle armor, the ground, and the surrounding trees had all attained a purple tint.
"Come on... let's go back to camp and see if the aliens've left yet," Flynn suggested. "We've gotta get you some medical attention."
They put Chris in the passenger's seat and got ready to go. "Wait!" Chris said.
"What? What is it?! Is it another alien!?!" Matt yelped, paranoid, grabbing the assault rifle.
Chris laughed. "No, just go get my hand. Over there, near the bushes. Get my sword while you're at it too."
Flynn laughed as Matt, frustrated, ran off to grab Chris's severed hand, as he gunned the engine. They could only hope that these aliens, wherever they were from, had vacated the campsite, so that they could retrieve some medical supplies and tend to Chris. Otherwise, they were pretty much... screwed.