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Rise To Honor - Part 7: The Desert
Posted By: Shadow<Shadowolf16@aol.com>
Date: 7 July 2002, 10:51 pm

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NOTE: This story contains some minor spoilers for those who haven't read Fall Of Reach. If you don't mind having some spoilers, or don't plan on reading that book, then you can ready on. But otherwise, you might want to think twice about reading my story, lest you have the book ruined for you. From here on in, there will be small spoilers from the book.

The warthog zoom through 1st street, heading for the border of the city. A police guard was standing in the way, and two guard towers that stood on the right and left of the road focused their searchlights on the speeding warthog. On the far sides of each of the guard towers were 500 feet high walls that surrounded the entire city. It was for protection of the base, and protection of foolish people trying to leave and go out into the deserts beyond the city where they would surely die. The only opening was where the street led through out of the city. The policeman standing in the way looked wild-eyed in surprise at the speeding vehicle, and froze in his position. Meanwhile, the police officer from one of the guard towers sounded a message from the intercom.

"Halt! You must have clearance to leave the city. Stop!"

The 12.7mm three-barreled machine-gun on the warthog had gotten a major upgrade as the war progressed on the lands of Earth. An AI could be installed as software into the Warthog's main computer. The AI could be programmed to track multiple targets through a 2000 ft. area. All living and structural possible targets are immediately selected automatically and showed up tagged on the HUD of the Warthog's computer screen. In addition, manual targets can be selected using a coordinate system, but usually the automatic finding system worked well enough. Both guard towers and the guard standing in the way was targeted on the computer's system. Shadow pressed a few coordinate buttons on the keypad next to the computer screen, selecting the guard towards as enemy targets. The towers would most likely fire upon him if he continued on his course without firing at them. So he'd have to make the first move. The green reticules marking the guard towards blinked from green to red, indicating that they were firing targets. The gun began to turn and fired on both of the guard towers, mowing down the police guards stationed inside them. One of the searchlights was blown out, and fell to the concrete ground with a loud smash. The spray of blood from the guard in the other tower blocked the other light. The area fell into almost complete darkness with only a few city lights nearby to illuminate the situation. The Warthog didn't slow down when it neared the still frozen guard. Instead it rammed right into him, rolling him over in a grinding crunch under the heavy wheels of the vehicle. A nearby police hovercar watched the entire scene without moving or firing off any guns. The policeman in the car was frozen just like the one standing in the middle of the road. Most of the time a car would come INTO the city to get away from the covenant and government attacks against the civilians. But it was almost unheard of for a car to be leaving the city. In addition, the Shadow had eliminated the guard tower occupants and the guard so coldly and efficiently that the policeman had not chance to respond in time.

"T-This is B-Black 5. Renegade military vehicle has exited the city walls and attacked police personnel. Casualties are unknown. Suggest response."
"Make no response and return to base. The vehicle is long gone now, and we can't change what happened. Whoever was driving that is out of our jurisdiction now."
"Yes sir. Returning to base."

The Gatling gun was still spinning and was most likely still hot from the shots fired. After a few minutes, the gun stopped spinning, and the computer system signaled that there were no viable targets in the area. Shadow looked at the thing without emotion. He always did do things without any outward emotion or feelings. He normally kept his emotions inside of him, as it was in this case. He was greatly surprised. How could there be no targets in the area? Surely there had to be a building or something in the area for it to target. He banged the computer screen twice and decided that it must be busted. Probably a lack of maintenance. He looked up and finally saw why the computer decided that there were no targets to flag. There was nothing but desert in the area. The city was beyond the 2000 ft. circle, and a flash of memory hit him. Of course. The nuclear bomb attacks of the government had laid waste to all unprotected areas. All the outlying areas near the city and hundreds of miles around it were obliterated. The city was lucky to have the military stationed there. They had adequate nuclear protection shields, but the suburban and rural areas around it weren't quite so lucky. All was left was dirt and sand. At first it was just dirt and remnants of some buildings, but after some years, with no trees and buildings to block the winds, the dirt was dried up and turned into sand somehow. He didn't really understand how, but that's how it turned out. And the situation wasn't really working wonders for the Warthog. The axle began to grind from sand flooding the system, and the vehicle seemed to be overheating, even in the night. Another miscalculated symptom of dropping multiple nuclear bombs in such tight spaces was that the ozone was bombarded by multiple waves of nuclear waste from the many bombs that were dropped on the city to try to take out the military. So he guess that even though it was night, the heat from the sun was still too overwhelming without the ozone layer to protect it.

He sighed as the Warthog kept on speeding through the dunes of the deserts. He didn't know where to go. Maybe he'd find some old friends that he knew were in the area. He didn't know he was a lost cause these days. He could hear a beeping on his com system on his left arm. He pulled it up and looked at it. He saw a black, translucent AI with black hair covering most of her face.

"How goes EVA?"
"Well, the good news is that the HQ was scuttled. Nothing is left. No evidence whatsoever. In addition, apparently, I was able successfully connect with your SATCOM system and upload myself to it before the HQ was destroyed."
"Ok, what's the bad news?"
"Well, the explosion was much larger than I had anticipated, and the entire building collapsed. Old Ben at the bar was bartending when it exploded."
"Well, it was my fault. But there's nothing I can do now."

EVA was one of the "smart" AI's. She had the intelligence that of the famed Cortana AI, and was very good at planning out attacks. But like all "smart" AI's, she had a limited lifespan. Hers was 8 years.

The Warthog began climbing up another of the many numerous dunes that he had been through, and he looked to the sky. Without the city and everything else in the way, everything seemed so...peaceful. The stars gleamed brightly, and he was once again reminded of how much of a renegade he really was. He never stayed in one spot, emotionally or physically. As he neared the top of the dune small bump sounded from a distance and a screech sounded. The screech was all too familiar. It was a rocket. He looked up from the computer screen that he was trying to fix, but it was too late. The red glow of the rocket zoomed right at him with a dark gray trail of exhaust behind it. The rocket slammed right into the sand right in front of the Warthog and exploded in burning flames. He brought up his right arm to protect his face just in time as shards of melting metal and fire pierced right through the windshield glass like Covenant pulse lasers. The small shards landed right in his arm, and a large one actually managed to get through his arm, protruding from both sides. Before he had time to scream in pain, the Warthog flipped backwards down the huge dune mountain. As the Gatling gun slammed into the sand, the Warthog jerked a bit, and he was flung from his seat into the sand. He rolled down the sand, his arm stinging in pang each time it rammed into the sand as he rolled. He hit his fist into the dry ground and it managed to stop his rolling fall. Blood soaked his right arm and stained the sand in the spot where he had fallen and rolled. His entire arm felt like it was on fire and being frozen at the same time. It hurt more than a pulse laser going through it. He looked at his arm. It was bad. There were 4 small shards in the back of his forearm, and the big one had made a big gouge. He grabbed the shards with his left hand, and ripped it out as quickly as possible. He didn't bother to scream. The screams only made his mind think that the wound was worse than it really was. He plucked out the remaining shards and ripped off the sleeve from his black wolf shirt and tied it to the wound on his arm. He opened and closed his hand into a fist a few times to make sure that his arm worked. He'd need it if he were going to go up against whatever had attacked him. He looked to the Warthog. It was flipped over, but other than that, it didn't seem too damaged. All of a sudden two more screeches filled the silent air, and the warthog exploded enormous red heat. He whispered to himself.

"Ok, well then. I'm screwed now."

He unlocked his sniper rifle from his strap and looked at the ammo count on its reticule. 30 shots. That would be enough. He felt his pouch, and knew that he had 3 extra clips for his assault rifle. If he were going up against human targets, then there would probably be plenty of ammo to spare. He slowly climbed up to the top of the dune, his arm stinging in pain every time he put weight on it. He poked his head above the dune, and saw a base in the middle of a small crater type of ditch. Military...not government. Good. They wouldn't have any Covenant soldiers in the complex. He slowly brought up his sniper rifle and slowly rested it on the hot sand of the dune. He looked through the scope, and reconnoitered the area. Two guard towers that were extensions to the main base. It seemed like pretty mainstream stuff. He decided to give the base some more scrutinizing and looked through the main bay window. He thought he'd see a petty officer. What he got was an enormous surprise. It was Kroeger himself! What was he doing in this backwater post? Well, now that Kroeger was in the picture that guy would be able to command the military troops much better than any officer. That would make his job much harder. And more bad news. He looked to the left of Kroeger and saw something he hadn't seen in many, many years. A Spartan. He didn't make any sudden movements or anything to signal that he was surprised in the matter, but his mind said 'fuck' hundreds of time in his head. This was just great. A Spartan? It could be one of a few that were left to fight against the Covenant. It could be John, Kelly, James, Fred or Linda. He smiled to himself. Those old Spartans. During the wars, the once thought dead Spartans had returned to fight against the Covenant. John of course was the famed Master Chief that had destroyed Halo. Kelly and Fred were able to secure a Longsword and get out of Reach before it was glassed. Linda was resuscitated after the destruction of the COMS center near Reach. She too experienced the strange species known as The Flood. She was lucky like John to get out of that ring world before John was able to blow the entire thing up. James...well, he personally didn't know how that Spartan got back. All those memories returned to him. Yes, he had past experiences with these soldiers...only they were allies back then. It seemed now he had some big time enemies on his hands. He sighed and turned back to the tower. Two guards resided in the tower. One was administering to the systems of the radar, and the other had a platformed M21 SSR Rocket Launcher. He waited for the guards to radio in to the main base before he'd make his attack. This way, he'd get more time before the base would call in for a report and realize that their guards were dead. He watched through the night vision aided scope as the rocket launcher guard pulled out a radio from its holster and spoke into it. He nodded twice and put it away. He heard some roaring sounds to the left. He immediately turned his head from the scope and saw two Hover Warthogs being prepped for investigation of incident with the rockets. Apparently, the guard had radioed for an investigation. He'd have to make this quick, or he'd get smeared by the warthogs. He fired two quick, silenced shots at the two men. Both shots caught each in the stomach. They toppled over each other, dead. He jumped off the apex of the dune and seemed to hover in the air for a few seconds. He landed in the middle of the dune sliding down the great mound of sand. He hit rock bottom and strapped in his sniper rifle. He pulled out his pistol and shot the grappling hook through the plexiglass at the top of the guard tower. He jerked it twice to make sure it was secure and looked back to the hangar were the warthogs were being prepped. They were already racing out of the hanger. He pulled the trigger on his pistol and held tight with both hands. He zoomed up to the top of the tower, sandy wind blowing into his bloodied face. He jumped in and looked at the controls. No apparent alarm system was switched. He looked through the cracked window and looked through his sniper scope. The Warthogs didn't seem to have seen him infiltrate the tower. The just continued on their course for the blown Warthog.

"EVA download yourself into this disk."
"Yes sir. Done."

He pulled out a disk from a slot in the device and attached it to the computer screen. The dark and mysterious body of EVA immediately flashed and appeared on a capsule hologram station near the computer screen. She was just standing there, but he knew that she was hacking through the base mainframe and getting info on the base schematics and whatnot.

"I need you to get blueprints and a plan ready for getting us a ride out of this place."
"Well, you could've just gone to the hangar."
"Yes, but I want to investigate Kroeger and the Spartans before we take our leave."
"Alright, eject me, I'll formulate a plan as we get into the base."

He pulled out the disk from the slot and she immediately disappeared from the hologram space. He place the disk back into his device. She reappeared on the device screen, and seemed to be formulating the plan. He couldn't wait for her to finish. He needed to get out of this place now. He turned to the doorway of the guard tower which lead to the main base. He ran through it, assault rifle drawn.