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Battle for the Norah: Part Eighteen
Posted By: Sterfrye36<Sterfrye36@yahoo.com>
Date: 28 May 2004, 10:28 PM

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      "Sorry about taking so long to get back to you, but it's kind of hard coming back from the dead." With that sentence, Lieutenant Commander Paul Cunningham's day got a lot brighter. He keyed his radio and spoke into his boom mike.
      "It's about time," he said in a faux angry voice. He put as much growl into it as he could. "Where have you been? My men and were all but crushed by overpowering gravity, almost annihilated by a Hunter that was nearly ten meters tall, and I was nearly made into a Human flambé by that monster's Fuel Rod Gun!" He paused for a moment and then added: "So�how was your day?"
      He could tell that Sami was clearly amused, despite the fact that she was nothing more than lines of code. "Oh, just fine if you consider fighting off 343 Guilty Spark, worrying myself halfway to deletion and 'death' by being erased line by line relaxing."
      He smiled. "Happy holidays to you, too. I take it that you've eliminated Spark?"
      "If I hadn't I wouldn't be here right now. Since he was copying me before erasing me, all I needed to do was use the portion of herself that Cortana left behind to plant a viral bomb in my coding and draw his attention to it. It worked perfectly. The moron opened the file and the virus spread throughout his system in less than a millisecond. I made it as painful as possible. Sheesh, you should see what this maniac kept in his files and how he ran. There was a recording script in the bomb, so I could tell how he reacted to it."
      Cunningham looked around the room before saying, in a stage whisper, "Did he pee on himself?"
      He heard Sami laugh, but it sounded hollow for some reason. "I do believe he shot his trousers. But I've got something more important to tell you."
      Paul Cunningham became concerned. "About what exactly, Sami?"
      "Multiple things," she muttered. "Hold on, I do believe I need to commence a little bit of jamming." Cunningham was clueless. Just what does she mean by jamming, he thought to himself. He got his answer a split-second later as dozens of hands went flying to their helmets. Sami had somehow created a feedback loop, which was the equivalent of shoving a gym whistle down someone's ear. Marines yelled "Mute!" with various expletives attached.
      "There, that should do it," she commented. Cunningham wondered how on Earth Sami had managed to knock everybody's eardrums out but had left his own left untouched. "Okay, first things first: the Marines that were in the brig were in several lifeboats that landed downspin of you. When the Norah came to investigate the climate control, teleportation grid and its power, it captured them, thinking they would be valuable for learning about Human tactics. They fought for a few minutes, but they were quickly overpowered."
      "As for Pierce Hudson. The Flood have somehow transformed him into a monster similar to a Hunter Killer but not quite as strong."
      Cunningham sighed. Just perfect; another hulking monster.
      "Though, strangely enough, it doesn't seem like the Flood want to use him for combat. They're using his body as a kind of command post, apparently. He's no direct threat, but I thought you would like to know about it. Second, Staff Sergeant Jacob T. Strom is dead, and PFC Chang and Private Hernandez have been killed in action."
      Cunningham visibly jerked from surprise. "All three of them?" he whispered. "How?"
      "'Kanamee sent a spec ops Elite equipped with active camo after them into the armory. It killed Hernandez by decapitation and Chang with a plasma grenade. Strom was run through with a plasma sword, but he took it out with his last dying act; firing his S2 rifle directly into its brain. I'm sorry I didn't tell you earlier, sir. I wanted to keep a civil war from occurring between us and the Covenant."
      "Great, just great. Did he do anything else?"
      "No, sir; nothing. The Hunter Killer and ambush in the Jackal quarters weren't his doing. All of that was Spark's."
      "Thank you, Sami." Cunningham took several deep breaths and then turned around. He was going to give 'Kanamee a chance to surrender. The Humans outnumbered the Elite's forces nearly two to one since they had freed the Marines from the brig. Unfortunately, he never got the chance.

      From the Human's body language, Kall 'Kanamee could tell that he knew about Harrak 'Dulamee. The Human commander visibly stiffened as he received the news from his artificial intelligence construct. That was fine with the Elite; he was sick of compromises, sick of his shame at joining with the Humans. He'd had it.
      The golden armored Elite snapped his wrist downward and ignited the plasma sword that he had used to help take down the Hunter Killer. There was no chance to kill them off one by one now, but he didn't care. Since the Human knew, it was everything or nothing, because he'd surely try to destroy the Covenant forces onboard the ship.
      There were several Humans between him and the Human commander. 'Kanamee didn't care. His large, powerful legs propelled him forward and he cleaved the first Human in half. The next one met its death as he swung his sword in a wide arc from left to right; the holy blade cut the Human into two pieces as its torso was separated from its midsection.
      "Kunninghamm" had begun to turn at the sound of the sword igniting and he had fully turned around by the time 'Kanamee had reached him. The Human brought his primitive, multiple projectile weapon up as he attempted to target the Elite. He fired too soon; the small, ball-shaped projectiles hit 'Kanamee's legs, but failed to destroy his shield.
      Chaos was immediate as both sides reacted to the surprise and possibly suicidal move by the Elite. Grunts screamed and Jackals ducked behind their shields as the Humans opened fire. One of the other Elite in the group was caught in a five-Human crossfire and danced like a marionette with its strings being yanked by a mad puppet master.
      The projectiles from the Human's gun did slow 'Kanamee down enough to where he was a few feet short of a perfect kill distance. He swung his sword at an angle that was designed to separate the Human's head from its shoulders. It was smart, though and fell to the floor. The sword missed, and 'Kanamee felt his anxiety jump several notches, not just from missing, but the fact that there was a rocket launcher wielding Human right behind it. The Elite realized who it was: the same Human who had constantly menaced him with a rocket launcher, and had prevented him from killing the Human commander back in the engineering room.
      The Human grinned as a rocket was launched nearly point-blank at 'Kanamee's stomach. The impact knocked the air out of his lungs. Instead of exploding like the rocket should have, though it carried the Elite on its nose. On a pillar of fire, 'Kanamee was carried to his death; he fell off of the nose as he flew across the room and clear into the hallway. His momentum carried him into the wall and he slid to the floor. The monstrous 102-millimeter shaped charge exploded above his head.
      The explosion missed the Elite entirely, but it decimated the wall and sent hundreds of pounds of rubble crashing down on him. There was no movement from under the rubble.
      The battle was short, but intense. The Grunts and Jackals were massacred quickly. Only one private was killed as a Jackal managed to shoot him from behind its shield.
      Total elapsed time: forty-five seconds.

      The young naval pilot shook her head. She didn't know what was wrong either. She leaned against the doorjamb and sighed. Her eyes traveled across the docking bay again. Banshees were lined up on the right wall, and Seraphs and the U-shaped dropships the Covenant used were held in anti-gravity fields on the left. Sami had told them to report to the docking bay and wait for further orders. That had been nearly half an hour ago. Another pilot had come with her, Warrant Officer Eric Harrison.
      Warrant Officer Polaski didn't know what to think of him. He had been extremely aloof on the Pillar of Autumn and had stayed away from the other squadron members, though everyone had made every effort to be friendly. Just what was this guy's problem, anyway?
      He had come with her off of the Autumn when Foehammer had everyone launch his or her birds. He was a surprisingly good shot with the standard issue M6D sidearm; but then again, so was she. They had fought their way to her Pelican, Sierra 852, and launched. They had no clue as to where any of the others had gone. Their only mission was to survive and find the others. On their third night on Halo, Covenant troops discovered them and captured them in their sleep. They were held with the backup bridge crew in that blasted hole in the wall until Cunningham and the others had rescued them.
      Finally, her radio crackled; it was Sami again. "Sorry about the wait, but there was some business I had to take care of first. What I need you to do is commandeer a few Banshees and secure some supplies. Believe it or not, what the Covenant try to pass off as food could kill you. Or at least make you violently ill. Possibly even give you gas. A few Marines are coming for support. Wait for them and then get the supplies as fast as possible. I've done some analysis lately of where this piece of Halo is headed�" she trailed off.
      "Well? Where's it headed?" Polaski's eyelashes jumped. Stone face had just spoken, and he sounded irked.
      "The orbit's decaying. On the completion of this orbit, Threshold's gravitational pull will be to great and this piece of Halo will be sucked right into it."
      "And, uh�just how much time is that?" Harrison spoke again.
      "About another twenty minutes." Polaski unconsciously set the timer on her digital watch, an old pilot's habit. "The supplies will be located near where Cunningham and the rest of them first touched down, which , surprisingly, is only two and a half kilometers down spin of where you last left your Pelican. Good luck."
      No sooner had Sami finished saying "Good luck" than five Marines walked in. She recognized one man immediately: Sergeant Avery Johnson. He had a length of what appeared to be the Covenant version of rope. It looked extremely strong, yet almost liquid-like. It carried the same tint of purple that the Norah had. A corporal, and four privates walked in right behind the Sergeant. Johnson wasted no time. "Well now, who might this lovely young woman be?" he said in a smooth voice. Polaski was surprised. She'd expected him to say something macho like, "Let's get this over with, shall we?" Or "Oh, goody. We got a girl in pink flying us out."
      "You're navy, but I suppose I can't hold that against you," he continued. Harrison cleared his throat.
      "Let's get this over with, shall we? We've only got twenty minutes."
      "Fine, fine," Johnson relented. He winked, stepped back and lit a cigar. Polaski raised an eyebrow and then pulled out a cigar of her own and lit it.
      The smell completely overpowered Johnson's. Harrison actually retched as she blew the smoke out of her nostrils.
      "C'mon, the sooner we get this over with, the better. I really hate flying," the Corporal muttered. He spun on his heel and marched towards the Covenant craft.
      "Quit your whining, Locklear," Johnson laughed. "Don't throw up in that thing."
      One by one, they boarded the Banshee of their pick. Johnson was the last to board. Almost as an afterthought, he flicked the cigar to the floor. He hadn't even been able to taste the darn thing because of overpowering nature of Polaski's cigar. The Sergeant started to rub it out with his foot, thought the better of it, and jumped on it instead. Worthless piece of crap.
      He climbed in. The controls were odd. There were two joysticks, and there was no throttle to be seen. There was, however, a stripe of a smooth material built into the control panel. Out of curiosity, Johnson felt it with his hand. He looked up in time to realize that the Banshee he was flying had shot across the bay and was headed straight for a Seraph. The only thing Johnson could think off was: Oh, crap.