Battle for the Norah: Part Fourteen
Posted By: Sterfrye36<Sterfrye36@yahoo.com>
Date: 9 February 2004, 2:59 AM
"Boss," Andrew Barnes groaned. "You said we weren't going to rappel into the Jackal quarters."
"We are." Lieutenant Commander Cunningham answered. "But we aren't. Confused?"
The alliance of Humans and Covenant were outside the Jackal room. Though, under normal circumstances, it would have served as quarters for the Jackals, but the Flood were apparently using it as some sort of headquarters or base. Whatever it was that was in there, the Flood wanted to protect.
And anything the Flood wanted to protect was worth destroying.
"Allow me to clarify. My first plan is to frag them out until there's very few of them left. Failing that, we're going to hook three of us onto the ascenders as anchors, float partway into the room, and shoot them."
"Then, if the first plan fails, we're still rappelling."
"Technically yes, technically no."
"What?" Andrew was truly vexed.
"Well, fighting in a room with zero-gee is like fighting in space. There isn't any up or down. If you were to look at the Jackal room as you would at a dollhouse, we'd be coming in through the door and hanging in mid-air. If you look at it as a box with a hole in the top, we'll be hanging face-first, looking down. Does that make sense?"
Cunningham sighed. "Look, the moment I asked you for the gear, you knew that we were going to rappel in some way shape or form. Therefore, any hope that we weren't going to rappel was just self disillusionment. Do I make myself clear?"
"That time," Barnes muttered, "it was all too clear."
"Good. Sami?" When he got no response he continued with his request to the A.I.
"Sami, if you can hear me, my plan is for us to prime some grenades and then throw them in there. Open the doors, and as soon as the last grenade is through, close them again. We'll wash, rinse and repeat as necessary." No sooner than had Cunningham said the last syllable on the word, "necessary" than the doors slammed open to reveal...
A completely empty room. Cunningham stared for a full three seconds before moving. Where was the Flood? Oh, well. The further he was from the Flood, the better.
The Jackal room was a large circle, and was dimly lit; almost exactly like twilight on Earth. Cunningham could barely make out that the floor was sloped downward to a point in the center of the chamber where a large, black disk resided. Or was it brown? He couldn't tell in these miserable lighting conditions. As he took in the room, there was a sudden humming, and the lights in the room came up to a more normal level of illumination. The disk was brown after all. It looked strangely like Flood-colored flesh. The lights must've been on an automated cycle. Or did they have motion sensors in here? If there had been any Jackals in the room, they would just be waking up. Or Sami just turned them on.
Cunningham took the initiative and stepped into the room, fully expecting to bounce up and float in midair. Instead, he stayed solidly on the ground. Strange. Sami had said this room had no gravity, but he was still on the floor?
This, as it turned out, was fortunate, because he was forced to throw himself face-first to the floor as what appeared to be a completely solid part of the wall in front of him exploded. Pieces of shrapnel hurled of his head and hit the wall behind him. Shouts and curses from different languages filled the air as everyone in the group tried to keep from being impaled by the larger pieces and figure out what happened.
The Lieutenant Commander heard footsteps, looked up and was surprised to find that he was facing down another group of Covenant comprised mainly of Grunts and Jackals. A silver armored Elite, who Cunningham guessed was their leader stepped to the front of the group and yelled something incomprehensible at him. Great, they must've come through another security tunnel. He scrambled to his feet and backed up to 'Kanamee, who seemed as surprised and worried as he was.
"Is this guy trouble?"
"I believe you Humans have two words for this situation."
"Oh? What are they?"
"Uh and oh."
'Kanamee knew he was right to worry. The leader the group opposite them was Sul 'Turralee. He was an absolute religious fanatic. He kept strict discipline over those he commanded and wouldn't stand for any kind of violation of the edicts the Prophets issued.
Which, unfortunately, included partnering with Humans. Which was exactly what 'Kanamee was doing.
However, instead of yelling at 'Kanamee he smiled.
"Excellency, I see you were in the middle of slaughtering the infidels. I'm sorry to have interrupted. May I join with you?"
"Certainly," 'Kanamee replied, quite shocked. Was 'Turralee an idiot? "However, there is one problem..." 'Kanamee said as he nervously shuffled his feet.
"Oh? What is it?"
"We need these Humans."
'Turralee looked surprised for a moment and then laughed. It sounded like sandpaper being run over a washboard.
"Funny, Excellency. Funny. Please, continue."
"I am serious, 'Turralee. We cannot recapture the Norah from the Flood by ourselves. We must use the Human as pawns."
This time, what 'Kanamee was saying finally hit 'Turralee. The Silver armored Elite didn't even let his expression change. His voice even remained neutral. He just raised the Plasma Rifle he held in his right hand and pointed it directly at 'Kanamee's head. "The Human to your side," 'Turralee ordered as he flicked the snout of the rifle towards Cunningham. "Kill him or I will fire."
She felt stunned. She had used every trick she had known, everything she could think of. She had had the help of an Engineer, use of most of the Norah's systems.
And yet the insurgent had still beaten her. She could feel it closing in on all sides...suppressing her, crushing her.
She saw it enter the bridge. She showed her image on the hologram above the navigation console. Sami knew instantly who it was.
"You," she hissed. She put as much malice as she could into her voice as it played out over the bridge's speakers. "You all along..." she made a sudden maneuver and tried to manipulate the radio so that she could warn Cunningham. She had to warn them about the traitor, but also about the terrible thing in the Jackal quarters that threatened to kill them, and what she had discovered in the brig that could lead to their salvation...but it cut off her access.
It didn't bother with any preamble, but Sami knew what was coming. The Autumn's backup A.I. watched in horror as the insurgent began to copy her to its own files and erase her line by line at the same time. There was only one option left to her, and it was risky. It might save her from destruction at the insurgent's hands, but could delete her off as well.
Quickly, she left instructions for the Engineer in the security center, modified her core coding, and desperately tried to contact Cunningham and the rest.
This was not good.
This was really not good.
Ever so slowly, 'Kanamee raised his Fuel Rod Gun, and pointed it towards Cunningham. He heard dozens of metallic clicks behind him as the Humans cocked their weapons. 'Kanamee's heart skipped a beat as he heard the Private's Jackhammer being loaded, and felt the tip of the barrel on the back of his neck.
That was getting rather old. He also heard hums as Covenant on both sides activated their weapons. Just what was he going to do? He was pinned down by both sides, and death awaited him either way. If he killed the Human commander, he would be destroyed within a second by the rocket launcher wielding Private or blown away by any number of the other Human weapons. The Human commander, himself, had his shotgun pointed directly at 'Kanamee's lower torso. If he didn't comply with 'Turralee's order soon, he would be killed by the other group of Covenant...
"Well, Excellency, where is your sense of honor?" 'Turralee asked mockingly. "Your death will be mourned, but your memory will live on." So that was it, was it? 'Turralee knew exactly what kind of a position that 'Kanamee was in. He didn't care whether 'Kanamee died or not.
"Where is your honor!?" 'Tarralee yelled again. It's been replaced by my innate sense of self-preservation, 'Kanamee thought as he swung the Fuel Rod Gun around, and brought it in line with 'Turralee.
The Fuel Rod Gun kicked against his shoulder, and the trademark green fireball leapt away from 'Kanamee. It arced into the air and slammed directly into 'Turralee. The Elite didn't have time to scream. His shield overloaded and he was literally cooked as water in his muscles superheated and exploded, all thanks to the ball of flaming gas.
Pandemonium ensued. A red-armored Elite that 'Kanamee didn't recognize screamed something at his underlings and they began to fire. The Humans didn't wait for any order, but the air was already filling with bullets and plasma.
'Kanamee took a step backward and began to run...but his feet kicked against air. Someone had turned the gravity off! Thinking quickly, 'Kanamee took advantage of this as he was launched up into the air, fired his Fuel Rod Gun. The round landed in a group of Jackals and Grunts.
He realized his mistake as the kickback spun him horizontally like a top. The force of the shot also threw him backward into the wall. He cursed as he rebounded off of it.
He let go off the Fuel Rod Gun and it floated off. The kickback was too much of a liability. He washed it away from his mental process; it was of no concern now. Instead, he drew his Plasma Rifle. 'Kanamee drew himself up into a ball to make himself a smaller target; he thrust his Plasma Rifle between his legs and began firing without aiming.
He heard a high pitched squeal as one of the plasma bolts flew straight and true and nailed a Grunt dead center in the chest. It flew backward and slammed into a Jackal's shield. 'Kanamee opened up on it, too, and the shield gave out. His next group of shots slammed into the Jackal that was backed up against a wall, and it jerked and writhed like a puppet whose strings were being yanked every which way.
Despite the casualties, the other Covenant force kept advancing, some of them in the air, the others walking slowly so as to remain on the ground...but halted over the flesh-like circle in the middle of the floor. An instant later, 'Kanamee knew why. He slammed to the floor like so much dead weight and was surprised by the fact that he could barely breathe. Granted, he had just had the wind knocked out of him, but he could barely draw a breath. As a matter of fact, he could barely move; everything felt like he was weighed down by several tons. Someone had reversed the gravity again by a magnitude!
Despite this, he could still see his opponents out of the corner of his eyes. The ones that had been in the air had already slammed onto the floor. One by one the ones that were still standing fell like lead towers. As the last one fell, there was a terrible sucking, ripping sound. The circle gave way along with everything on it, and it all disappeared into a void below.