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Battle for the Norah: Part Four
Posted By: Sterfrye36<Sterfrye36@yahoo.com>
Date: 24 July 2003, 1:43 AM

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      Lieutenant Commander Paul Cunningham worked his jaw up and down several times.
      Where the heck had she come from?
      It took a split second for him to regain his composure.
      "What were you thinking?! We almost had them!"
      "With all due respect, sir, you didn't. There were too many of them. You would've been overwhelmed had the battle gone on for thirty more seconds."
      Cunningham worked his jaw again.
      He knew that she was right. He was just racked emotionally. After all, who wouldn't be if you had had faced down thousands of Flood, a combat form blown up five feet away from you and finally, make a seven foot tall Warthog jump?
      "Fine, whatever. Just ask for permission next time," he said as he stormed off.
      Sami waited until he was out of hearing range then "turned" her two-dimensional "body" towards McCarthy, who was still in the Gunner's seat.
      "Is he always like that?" she asked him.
      "You really want to know?"

      Cunningham was hoping to high heaven that most of the Flood had been killed in the assault.
      He sat down on a rock to think and chewed his fingernails.
      They were poorly equipped to take the Cruiser. They had only a few weapons suited for the task- a pair of Shotguns, twelve Assault Rifles, a few Plasma Rifles, one Jackhammer Rocket Launcher...the other weapons were Sniper Rifles or weapons that had some sort of sniping function and were not the best for close-quarters.
      Cunningham cursed silently under his breath.
      And, as if that wasn't enough, the only way into that blasted ship was through the docking bay where the Flood had come from.

      Down below in this particular piece of Halo, 343 Guilty Spark was not a happy camper.
      The reclaimer had destroyed Halo, which went against all protocol.
      And now, the only way to reach the other Halos was to board that Covenant ship, due to the fact that his anti-grav generators only worked in gravity, so he couldn't fly in spaces
      He had had teleported off of the Human ship just before the nuclear explosion to this section of Halo and took the remaining Human and Elite with him. They were now leaning against a wall, knocked out. Unfortunately, he didn't teleport fast enough to avoid the EMP blast, which had some of his systems wiped out and left him weakened.
      And as for the Flood problem...his programming was ridiculously strict on regarding that matter. He could not let the Flood get off of Halo...or at least what was left of it. And since Halo couldn't fire anymore, he was released from his programmed bonds; he could now rely on his inventiveness.
       However, the only choice was for him to ally himself with the Humans and get off of Halo. Normally, he'd just send his Sentinels in... but his Sentinel control center was destroyed with the rest of Halo and, even if he did have a control center here, their would be insufficient power for the Sentinels to run.
       He had, of course, known about this particular group of Humans. Their four landing craft had landed far further up-spin than the rest. Their radio gear had been knocked out during landing...or at least the transmitting part. They could still hear what other radio traffic there was, so if they had heard of him, he might be met with hostility.
      Oh, well, there wasn't any other choice.
      He locked on to the nearest Human life sign and teleported two feet in front of it, took the Sergeant and Elite with him, all the while muttering "Hee, hee, hee. I am a genius!"

      Cunningham saw a blinding flash of light, felt a heavy weight land on his back and was thrown face-forward under the weight.
      "Greetings!" Spark said no less than two feet in front of Cunningham's face.
      Cunningham struggled out from under the Elite and Sergeant, yelled a sentence that shouldn't be repeated in polite company and followed it immediately by saying, "Who the heck are you!?"
      "I am 343 Guilty Spark. I am a genius!"
      Cunningham just stared at him with a bewildered look on his face.
      "SAMI!" he roared who the heck is this!?
      Sami's voice crackled through his earpiece: "His name is 343 Guilty Spark. He almost slit our throats just under forty-eight hours ago.
      "And you know about this how?"
      "Each AI starts out its life in a standby mode. While Cortana was in Halo's systems, she located this group of Marines and sent me a burst of information, which I received and stored in my standby mode. That burst contained all of the information of the others' campaign here on Halo, including information about Spark," she said; her tone was cold, icy and filled with hatred.
      "And how did Spark here almost slit our throats?" Cunningham inquired.
      "He almost fooled the Master Chief into firing Halo, which, once the other Halos followed suit, would kill all of the life in the galaxy, Human and Covenant alike."
      "You cannot blame me for trying. It was hardwired into my code."
      "Oh, yes I can!"
      Cunningham wheeled around on his heel, brought his Assault Rifle to bear and emptied a full clip into Spark before he saw that he was having no effect.
      Spark rotated himself to the right as though he were confused.
      "Was that really necessary, Lieutenant Commander?" Spark said, his voice vexed.
      Cunningham hissed a sentence that amounted to "Darn straight, it was!" picked up the Sergeant and Elite, and huffed off back to the Scorpion.

Cunningham cursed all the way back. Once he reached the Scorpion, he hefted them both up onto the port fore tread pod.
      "Sami," he said. "How are they?"
      "Scanning," she said.
      "They're fine," she reported. "They should both wake up in a few minutes. No lasting after effects either."
      No sooner than Sami had finished saying "either", than Cunningham saw another blinding flash of light.
      "WILL YOU STOP THAT?!" he roared at the top of his lungs.
      "Really, Lieutenant Commander. You ought to be more gracious. I have some important information for you."
      "And that would be?" Cunningham growled.
      "The Flood are beginning to alter the atmosphere. If you will notice, the air is dirtier and the sky is taking on an orange hue."
      Cunningham had noticed it, and it made him a little nervous.
      "All right, you're got my attention...I'm listening."
      "You see, as the Flood grow and spread, they begin to release small spores into the air. These spores have the effect of paralysis on those who breathe enough of them in, making them easy hosts for the Flood. So, the longer you hesitate in taking the Cruiser, the more time the Flood will have to spread the spores. I'm afraid that time is tight, Lieutenant Commander. I estimate you have, since this is such a small portion of instillation 04, a little less than five hours before the spores begin to take their toll."
      Cunningham's gut felt queasy. If what Spark said was true, they'd really have to hustle it.
      "By the way, Lieutenant Commander...are all of your men armed with weapons suited to taking the Cruiser?"
      Cunningham turned and looked at his men.
       They were better off than he had expected. Since their battle with the Flood ten minutes earlier, every Marine, even the bridge crew seemed to be carrying an assault weapon.
      ]So he turned to Spark and said, "Yeah, I guess so, but why-?"
      His breath caught in his throat as he suddenly felt light headed, saw rings of pulsating gold travel down the length of his body and saw a literal explosion of light...