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Rise To Honor - Part 18: Home
Posted By: Shadow<Shadowolf16@aol.com>
Date: 22 August 2002, 12:17 am

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"I can't believe the military betrayed us!"

Jan was pretty pissed, but no more pissed than any of the others. Geb replied.

"They're no better than the government. We can't trust anyone but ourselves."

Shadow replied.

"Well, at least we got out of there alive."

"Yea, but without any money, or any alliance with any powerhouses."

Shadow nodded, but decided to put in something else into the conversation.

"That can be fixed. I have an old friend in New York that can get us all the weapons and devices we need. Needles."

Geb quirked an eyebrow.

"You still talk to that guy? And besides, we just used up all our luck trying to get out of the city, and you want to go back in?"
"It's the only way."
"Shadow, you're crazy man. There's no way we're going back in. I'm not risking our lives just for some hardware that we don't need."
"Then how are we going be hired guns if we don't have any guns?"
"We'll manage somehow Shadow. I don't even think that we should be mercenaries anymore."
"You're just being weak."
"You're reckless...a loose cannon, even for us. We don't need this type of life anymore. I've realized it. We all have. Except you. We can be mechanics, spies. Anything! And you choose assassin. That's so like you."
"Fine. But I'm getting myself weapons. Even if it means I go alone. Killing is the only life I know anymore. I'm not going to abandon it so easily."

Shadow turned around and began walking to his room. He opened the door and slammed it behind him. He brought up his right hand and deactivated the music using his COM system. He thought this over. He could always just leave the team again, and go out on his own. No, he owed them at least his abilities to them. They had saved his life. He knew that they all couldn't go back. They were all assassins at heart. He looked down, and thought about the military. He knew he couldn't trust the military from the second that he infiltrated their base to get a ride. He knew that Kroeger had changed somehow. Something was wrong with that guy. He bet the Spartans felt the same. It seemed that they were as they always were, just taking orders from someone that seemed to have an alterior motive. If so, he was going to go find out. So, he was going to get weapons AND information on Kroeger. Needles would have all of that. He'd just need to get back to the city somehow. Geb would never let him use Jan's new Pelican system. But of course, Jan might. His sniper rifle was still snapped onto his shoulder strap. He noticed and unstrapped it, swinging it over his shoulder. He looked at it, and grabbed for a large box leaning up against the wall. He rummaged around in it for a few seconds to pull out a few slugs. He loaded them all in, and the sniper rifle's HUD read 30 rounds. It would be good enough. He'd get an assault rifle from the garage.

He was about to get up and leave when there was a light knock on the door. It was controlled, yet powerful. That ruled out Cal, who would give a staggered knock, given to him by his personality. Jan knocked really fast, because she was always hyper. The knock was too calm for Geb too. It must have been Az.

"What do you want Az?"
"Can I come in?"

He didn't really want to talk to her, but she never came to speak to him unless it was absolutely necessary. The door slowly swung open, and the black-clad assassin slowly walked in. She sat down next to him and folded her legs in a "pretzel-style."

"I'm coming with you."
"No. Geb's right. It's too dangerous, and it's my duty to get you guys the weapons you need."
"I laugh at the face of danger. You know that. Besides, I'm just as good as you."

Shadow looked down at his sniper rifle for a few seconds, and quickly snapped in on his shoulder strap. He got up and began walking out the door, speaking as he went.

"Get your stuff ready, I'll be waiting in the hangar."

She nodded and they both left the room. She took a right in the hallway to her room, while he made a left to the main room. He walked past Geb and the others, who were watching TV. Geb looked at him for a second, and then turned his attention back to the screen. He walked into another hallway, and opened the door at the end, which led to the hangar. He stepped over some loose parts and snatched up one of the newly acquired laser rifle. He eyed the mantis sniper rifle, but decided to stick with his own. He hadn't the time to recalibrate it or get used to its power and recoil. He strapped in the laser rifle and walked to the back of the hangar where the Pelican should have been waiting. But it wasn't there. That's when realization hit him. Damn. Jan had left the damn ship at the military's. They'd have to take the Warthog to the base; steal it; and get to the city from there. He jogged over to the hover-warthog and hopped in. It was a modified one. It had one driver seat and one gunner placement with twin chainguns that could re-outfitted with anything. He placed his handprint on the screen, and it hummed to life. He pressed a few buttons to activate the main systems and pressed a button to open the garage door. Suddenly, the hallway door swung open and Geb yelled out to him.

"Get out of there! Az wants to come with you! If she's coming, then neither of you are going to that city. I don't want her hurt!"
"I'm doing this for the team, Geb. Don't you understand?"
"You'll kill Az!"
"Is that all you fucking care about? She can handle herself. This is what we've always done man! What made you all of a sudden change your ideals about this thing? We'll be back."
"You're risking your life for nothing! We don't have to be killers! It doesn't have to be this way!"
"It does for me. And it is for Az as well. You know that."

Shadow swung the warthog around indifferently so that the front was facing the hallway door. He pulled out his laser rifle and blasted a few shots at the ground in front of Geb. He smiled and backed the vehicle out. Az was standing right outside, waiting. As he back out, she hopped on to the gunner's seat, dropping all her equipment in a compartment in front of the emplacement. He turned the Warthog around again, and they were off to the base.

"I'm glad you came with me."
"Yea. Geb is being impossible. All he cares about is the lives of the team. He's not willing to take chances for the team's benefit."
"Well, I'm just glad you're with me."

He placed the Warthog on autopilot to the now known desert base. The hovercraft sped on, through a small forest for a few hours, and then through the great desert that was once New Jersey. For four hours they rode, Az sitting in the compartment where her equipment laid. All of a sudden, the screen blipped once, twice, three times. He looked down and the sensors had picked up a large building a few miles up ahead.

"We're here."

Az jumped out of the compartment and up to the gunner stand. The hover Warthog continued until they reached the top of a dune. Shadow thought for a minute about how we going to get in there. He unstrapped his sniper scope and searched the unaware base. There was a vent at base level. He could probably get to the roof through there. But those guard towers were sure to detect him if he went in without anything for diversion. He looked to Az.

"I need you to be a diversion."
"Got it."

Shadow jumped out of the seat, and Az jumped in his place. He unstrapped his sniper rifle and began a sprint to the vent...

Az smiled as he left and activated the automatic targeting on the Warthog's computer. The HUD immediately brought up all targets as red dots. She made sure that Shadow wasn't targeted. She pressed the activation button, and the twin chainguns immediately began firing at random enemy targets. She hit the accelerator and began a loop around the base as the towers tracked her movements. The towers were horrible hits. Even the rockets fired nailed only sand hundreds of feet behind her. But it wouldn't take long until they realized how futile and out-skilled they were before they sent out additional Warthogs into the fray. Shadow would have to pick up before then, or she'd be burnt to a crisp. She continued along in a general loop. Swerving each time a rocket was fired to keep it from hitting her.

Shadow continued to run along the sand, slipping down the dunes as quickly as he could. He knew that Az couldn't keep them busy forever, and he'd have to move very fast. A beam of light was heading straight towards him. He did a backflip to give himself room, and dove to the right just in time for the beam to pass right by him. He kept running towards the building. The winds began to pick up as he got closer, as if some unseen force was trying to prevent him from going inside. He pushed forward through the wind, and blasted the vent open with his sniper rifle. He dove in and began crawling.

"EVA, give me the location of Kroeger."
"Scanning. Got it. His brain signals are coming from the third floor in a conference room. I'm also picking up all the Spartan brain signals moving towards that same room."
"What's the fastest way to there?"
"There's a vertical shaft straight ahead of you. Go there, get up the shaft, and you should be right there. Go up another vertical shaft near there and that takes you to the roof."
"Well, that works out pretty easily."

He quickly slid through the narrow tunnel until he got to that vertical shaft. He unstrapped his pistol from its holster on his leg, and he shot the grappling hook to the top. He heard a loud thump and he tugged on the gun. It was tight. He clicked the trigger again, and he zoomed up. After what seemed more than a few minutes, he felt the roof coming near. But it was too late. His head slammed right into the top of the vertical shaft. The pistol began to slack, and he flailed out with his left arm, barely able to grasp the edge of the horizontal shaft that led from the vertical one. He held on, but his head was throbbing pretty bad. With one hand, he was able to pull his entire body up with ease. He was, after all a Spartan. He landed on the horizontal shaft and he retracted the pistol hook. He holstered it back in, and he rummaged around again in his sack. He pulled out a small little ball-shaped device. He walked along the shaft until he came to a grate. Through the cracks he could see the Spartans walking into the room, and Kroeger waiting there for them. He pressed a small button on the device, and placed in near the grate. It blinked once and then stopped. The device was a transmitter. Everything that it sensed visually and audibly was recorded and transmitted the COM system. It would continued to monitor everything until it ran out of power, which was generally four hours. It should be plenty of time to catch the entire conversation between Kroeger and the Spartans. He quickly, but quietly slide along the shaft, hearing the an intercom announcement as he went.

***All personnel report to the hangar. The base is under attack. Code Red alert***

It was strange that the Spartans and Kroeger were so calm. It was if they knew that Az wasn't much of a threat to them. As if they knew something he didn't know. He finally got to the second vertical shaft and shot the hook to the top of that one. As he went up, he spun himself upside down, feet raised to the top. As he hit the roof of the shaft, his feet impacted, and he was able to get into the next horizontal shaft without any pain. He kicked open the nearest grate and dove out. There was a black night sky, and sand zoomed about all around him. He was on the roof, and the modified Pelican was still sitting there as if nothing happened. Perhaps he had made his counterattack on the base quicker than Kroeger thought. Therefore they didn't bother to destroy or impound the Pelican just yet. That lazy, sloppy commander. He'd pay for his move against the Dark Wolves. Oh would he pay.

He ran in through the open bay doors in the back of the Pelican and ran to the cockpit. He activated the system, and it began to rise. He pulled back on the throttle, and he was immediately pushed into the back of his seat as he activated the thrusters. He hit the brakes and slowed down to pick up Az.

There were two Warthogs on her tail now. They were both firing laser rounds at her. Two of them already hit and had blown off the chaingun emplacements. She was weaponless and harmless, yet they still wanted her dead or captured. She continued evasive maneuvers, dodging the mainstay of the enemies' blasts. A stray bolt slammed into one of the hover generators, killing the rear hover batteries. The whole back collapsed and began skidding along the sand, leaving a trail of metal and fire. The warthog began to slow down as the front hover batteries could no longer pull the entire vehicle along. She was done for. The laser blasts continued, pinging off the edge of the jeep. She cringed and ducked as they continued to their attacks. She could hear the launching of two missiles, but it didn't seem like they were coming from the towers. Before she could completely contemplate the situation, the missiles slammed right into the Warthogs on her tail, blowing them up. The first one had a direct hit, and the entire vehicle exploded into millions of pieces, leaving not even the chassis intact. The second missile hit the second warthog from the side, making it flip over. She looked up as the Pelican slowly landed. She raised both hands into the air in joy and jumped off the Warthog. She dashed to the open cargo doors, and strapped herself in. She activated her microphone and spoke to Shadow through the intercom.

***I'm in, lets go.***
***Shit, you were busted.***