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Battle for the Norah: Part Seventeen
Posted By: Sterfrye36<Sterfrye36@yahoo.com>
Date: 2 May 2004, 6:18 PM

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      Lieutenant Commander Cunningham stood slack jawed for a split second as the Marines in the plasma cell stared back. How in blazes had they gotten in there? For some reason, the absurdity of the situation hit him: Here he was, on a facility that was hundreds of thousands of years old, fighting alongside beings that were enemies a day ago and fighting against a bunch of motley skinned freak shows and an insane, ancient artificial intelligence. Now he was on the only piece of said facility that could support life, on an alien cruiser, in a detention center where a few beat up looking Marines were, and being chased by a monstrosity that wouldn't have looked out of place in a science fiction movie.
      The Hunter Killer's blood-curdling roar brought him back to reality. He swung around the edge of the large doorway and reloaded his shotgun. A Marine from the cell yelled an obscenity as he caught sight of the twenty-nine foot tall behemoth.
      "Shoot it!" Cunningham yelled. The Marines dashed into the group of Humans and Covenant and grabbed any weapon they could from fallen allies. The El Tee Commander finished reloading and swung back into the pandemonium. The M90 assault shotgun kicked against his shoulder twice, and two sets of eight-gauge buckshot smacked into the mindless juggernaut.
      The Hunter Killer continued to advance into the room. It crushed a Jackal underfoot and kept coming. Cunningham fired his M90 into the next cell's control panel and freed a second set of Marines. They didn't hesitate to dive into the chaos. A loud buzzing sound caused Cunningham to look over his shoulder and back at the monster.
      Its advance was slowing. The firestorm that the alliance was putting forth was beginning to take its toll. In what must have been a move of desperation, it raised its Fuel Rod Gun. Dark green energy formed inside of it as it prepared to fire.
      Two words entered Cunningham's mind: Uh-oh.
      He dove into the cell that had held the Marines that he had just freed. The ball of plasma came so close that Cunningham could feel blisters form on the back of his neck and saw part of his left sleeve catch on fire. He screamed in pain as he hit the floor and swatted at the flames in an attempt to put them out.

      Kall 'Kanamee closed his eyes and turned his head away as the ball of plasma detonated near the back of the group. Even through his eyelids, the explosion was spectacular. When he opened his eyes again, there were wild spots in his vision, though he could see that a Human had been blown in half and a Grunt had exploded like an overripe fruit. The Elite shook his head to clear his vision and swung his Fuel Rod Gun into line with the Hunter Killer. It looked like it was really starting to hurt. Its steps were less confident, and it even stumbled. One shot from 'Kanamee's Fuel Rod Gun would finish it off. 'Kanamee allowed himself a small smile as he pulled the trigger.
      And nothing happened.
      Great. Just when it was needed the most, his Fuel Rod Gun had given out. He discarded it to the floor and drew his plasma rifle. It failed to power up. Fury that had been a long time in coming suddenly exploded inside of him. Here he was, having to cooperate with beings that should have been his mortal enemy and his stupid weapons failed!
      Another buzzing sound that characterized a Fuel Rod Gun preparing to fire caused him to realize that the Hunter Killer had its weapon pointed straight at him. His shame at joining together with the Humans momentarily forgotten, the Elite felt immense pride swell within him as he remembered the warrior tradition of his race. None of his forefathers would have died without a fight against this beast.
      He grabbed the only weapon he had left: his plasma sword.
      Though he knew it was suicidal, he didn't care. The sword snapped to life with a small thunderclap and 'Kanamee charged. The Fuel Rod Gun fired, but the golden armored Elite dodged the round easily as he leaped to the side. It exploded too far behind him to slow him down. 'Kanamee continued along the wall for another ten yards before he brought his feet up and used friction to run a meter upwards on the wall.
      He kicked with his right leg and let out an ancient battle cry: the Martyrs Prayer. It was one passed down from the ancients for those who were going to give their life to destroy an enemy. The Elite brought the sword back as far as he could while flying through the air, and slammed the blade--up to the hilt--into the Hunter Killer's belly.
      The creature screamed in pain as the sword burned away layers of flesh and armor. 'Kanamee snapped the sword off so that he wouldn't have to struggle to bring the blade back out and clawed his way further up the beast. Fire from the alliance didn't lessen. It only intensified as more Humans were freed from the plasma cells. All along, 'Kanamee had been hoping to keep the location of the Human prisoners secret; if the Human commander had known about them, he probably would have killed the Covenant off.
      It was of little concern now. Taking down this monstrosity had become the priority. The occasional bullet and plasma bolt hit his shields and nearly knocked 'Kanamee from his place on the aberration but he dug his claws deeper. Every few seconds as he clawed up the tower of flesh, 'Kanamee re-ignited his sword and plunged it deep in the monster. The Hunter Killer shook itself violently to throw 'Kanamee off, but by then it was too late.
      'Kall Kanamee had reached the beast's shoulders. With a final cry, 'Kanamee ignited the plasma sword, the chosen weapon of the ancients themselves, and slammed the holy blade into the top of the Hunter Killer's head. To 'Kanamee's great surprise it did not die immediately. Instead it groggily tried to swipe the Elite off of its head. It must have had its central nervous system in a different place or it was spread out. 'Kanamee dodged the first swipe from the shield arm, and nearly dodged the Fuel Rod Gun as it whipped over the monster's shoulder.
      He wasn't quick enough, and the weapon caught him with a glancing blow. The Elite fell thirty feet to the ground and felt the air leave his lungs. His shields flashed as they struggled to recharge themselves from the impact. 'Kanamee retained his consciousness, however, as the beast moved to crush him under its foot. But for some reason, 'Kanamee realized he wasn't afraid. He had fulfilled his duty. Today, he would gladly go to paradise.
      But now was apparently not the appointed time. A 102 millimeter shaped charge exploded on the Hunter Killer's back, accompanied along with sounds that 'Kanamee associated with bones fracturing and snapping in two at the same time. The Hunter Killer's foot slammed down just in front of the Elite and was clearly dying when a second rocket slammed into the Hunter Killer's back. The rocket didn't detonate immediately; instead, it traveled a full yard into the monster's body before exploding.
      With a final scream, the Hunter Killer toppled. 'Kanamee rolled out of the way to the left, and the beast fell to the floor with bone jarring force.
      It looked like Kall 'Kanamee was going to be stuck in the physical plane for a while longer.

      Beyond the door was a smoking Jackhammer rocket launcher wielding, kneeling Private Colin Thompson. He knew that luck had brought the monster down and not his skill. The creature's central nervous system must have been along the spinal cord. Thompson exhaled deeply to calm his nerves. His flesh was tender along his right arm. It had been given the equivalent of a sunburn by the Fuel Rod Gun round. The other Jackhammer wielding Marine, Corporal Rafael Mitsuba, had been reduced to dust by it.
      Colin reloaded his launcher and walked into the room. Every one was breathing heavily. The Grunts were wheezing in their high-pitched voice and squeaking curse words that they had learned from the Humans. Some of the Humans traded high fives and let out whoops. The private walked over to Cunningham, who, though he was grinning warily, looked absolutely exhausted. Thompson couldn't blame him; he felt exactly the same way.
      "Well, sir," Thompson said as he approached the Lieutenant Commander. "What know?"
      "Well, I thought I'd order some Chinese take-out," Cunningham deadpanned. Thompson smiled at the poor joke. He knew it wasn't that funny, but he didn't care. Anything that would keep his good humor up was fine, no matter how stupid it was.
      "Actually, I thought we'd get back to the security center. We left the backup crew there, and I thought we might be able to figure out what happened to Sami."
      Thompson raised an eyebrow. "You think that something's happened to her?"
      "I'm positive!" Cunningham spat. Both of Thompson's eyebrows went up. "I'm sorry," Cunningham muttered as he leaned back up against a wall. "It's just that the past few hours have really rubbed me raw. If you really want to know what happened to Sami, I think it's Spark."
      Thompson's eyebrows knitted as he mulled the idea over. "Makes sense. Doors opening with no message from Sami, the gravity changing...it all fits. So, back to my first question: what next? We head back to the security center, right?"
      "No, actually. We don't move a muscle."
      "What are you talking about? It's not like there's a..." Thompson trailed off as he realized what Cunningham was saying. The room had gone deathly quiet. "...A...second one." Slowly, Thompson turned his neck and looked back over his shoulders.
      A second Hunter Killer stood in the doorway to the cellblock.
      Almost indiscernibly, every being in the room readied their weapons. Clips being loaded made almost no sound, and plasma rifles and pistols mutedly hummed to life.
      It turned out to be a waste of effort, because a blast door that was at least a meter thick slammed down onto the second Hunter Killer's head. The monster struggled
against the heavy door, but the alliance released a firestorm. Thompson shouldered his Jackhammer and let loose with another two rockets. The beast wilted under the fire, and the door crushed it. It let loose and ear-splitting screech. It writhed between the door and floor as it was choked of breathable air. With a gurgling sound, it died beside its brother.
      Thompson grinned. That one had been too easy. "Sorry about taking so long to get back to you," a female voice cooed in their ears. "But its kind of hard coming back from the dead." Thompson's grin grew wider.
      Sami was back.