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Battle for the Norah: Part Nine
Posted By: Sterfrye36<Sterfrye36@yahoo.com>
Date: 4 November 2003, 3:10 AM

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      Well, if his Excellency says it's all right to kill a few and make it look like an accident, there's no better time to start than now, 'Kanamee thought to himself as he swung the Fuel Rod Gun he hefted to the counter-clockwise in order to destroy the Human who had trapped the Flood in the air vent with the shield and sword. He adjusted his aim, and was about to fire when he heard a loud CHUNK! behind him. He turned around and realized his face was no more than a few inches from the launching tube of a Human Rocket Launcher. A grinning Private had the weapon hoisted above his right shoulder. The rank insignia had the name Pvt. Thompson, Colin stamped on it.
      "I wouldn't do that if I were you," he said as he cocked an eyebrow and smiled smugly.

      Adrenaline burst through his system, his eyes opened wide and 'Kanamee took an unconscious step backward. He slipped comically on the blood on the deck. He slammed onto the floor and his shields briefly flared; the Fuel Rod Gun he was carrying skittered away behind him. He felt the adrenaline slow after the Human did not shoot. Quickly, he swallowed his surprise and spoke. "Rednammoc ruoy rean mrof noitcefnI na rof gnimia saw I."
      Thompson, unamused said, "Speak English, you idiot. I know you can."
      'Kanamee growled, then said, "I was aiming for an infection form near your Commander-"
      "Yeah, you weren't aiming at Cunningham and Hitler promised to stop after Poland. I have got a half a mind to blow you to bits right here, but I won't. So far as I can tell, you're the only one of the Covenant nuts here who can speak English, so I'm going to let you live. The next time you even think about pulling a cheap shot like that, your friends get to peel you off of the wall with a spatula. Do you get me, or do I have to blow you to kingdom come anyway?"
      'Kanamee felt his muscles tense and his jaw clench at the shame of the indignity. A Human commanding him to do something! He made a mental note to make sure that this Human died. If anything, 'Kanamee would make sure of this.

      On the deck below, Cunningham pushed himself up from the floor, which was slick with blood, and surveyed the results of the carnage. Blood spattered walls and corpses were everywhere. The cylinder's liquid still pulsed steadily. He drew his M6D and fired at a few stray infection forms that were near the wall. He missed his first and second shot, but his third shot nailed the last one in line. It exploded and set off a chain reaction which took out three more of the squid-like aberrations.

      He walked over to the Corporal, who was in the center of a growing pool of blood; he had three gory holes punched through his torso from a Combat Form's claw-like hand. As a matter of fact, the arm was still there. The blast from the M90 didn't make the Corporal look any prettier either. Bone stuck out at irregular points. His ribs had been shattered and scratched at the same time by the shot. Cunningham saw what he thought was part of the soldier's vertebrae, but he couldn't tell. It was mangled far too much. For all he knew, it could have been part of the jaw. Literally. The Corporal's face was just about nonexistent. All that remained was a bloody, gory, ugly, unrecognizable mess.
      The scene was grisly; so horribly grisly in fact that Cunningham was forced to swallow rising bile. He shook his head and took the Corporal's dog tags. He didn't bother to look at them as he stuffed them into his pocket. He took the dead man's shotgun; his own MA5B wasn't doing much good against the Flood. Then he looked through the corporal's rucksack and found several packs of shotgun ammo; three in all. He multiplied in his head. Each pack held about 30 shells, so that gave him 90 in addition to whatever was already loaded into the weapon.
      The Private joined him on his way back to the ascending cable. He was tight-lipped and stared straight ahead. The Corporal and he must have been very good friends.

      Cunningham, weighed down by the three weapons and their ammo, attached his D-ring to one of several loops on the ascender.
      In the HUD over his left eye, a message appeard:
      Smart Link Established. Command?
      All Cunningham said into the boom mike was, "Up." The ascender recognized the command. He was jerked off of his feet as the motor came to life with a whir, and he quickly reached the second deck. "Everybody, get down here now; get ready to move," he spoke into the mike.
      The Navy personnel began shimmying down the three remaining ascenders on the top deck. Those that weren't armed picked up Plasma Rifles, Plasma pistols and grenades from the dead Covenant on the floor. Cunningham handed his M6D pistol and its seven clips of ammo to a navy Ensign. It wasn't going to do much good in the close quarters he expected to be moving through.
      He walked over to a Golden clad Elite, Kall 'Kanamee, who was scowling at the Jackhammer wielding Private. The Jackhammer was still pointing at the 'Kanamee's face; the Private was grinning. He obviously enjoyed making the Covenant lie on the ground there, looking helpless and foolish.
      "At ease," he said to the Private. The Private grinned even wider, chuckled and lowered the rocket launcher. "I assume you're in command of the Covenant forces here?" he said to the Elite as he walked up.
      "Yes. And you are in command of the Humans?"
      "That would be correct. Like it or not, we're going to have to work with each other if any of us here want to make it off of this forsaken rock alive. I have about twenty-nine Marines along with nineteen naval officers. Your forces?"
      "I have with me seven of my own kind, twelve of what you call 'Jackals', and ten of the 'Grunts'. I also have two Engineers."
      "Two what?" Cunningham said as his brow creased in confusion.
      "Engineers," 'Kanamee said as he pointed to a corner. Cunningham turned and saw a pair of what looked like some kind of purple, cloud-like squid. They floated about a meter off of the ground by means Cunningham wasn't aware of.
      "They can repair machinery and electronics with remarkable speed and precision. I am afraid that they are not fighters, however."
      "Great," was all Cunningham said in reply. "Do you know the way around this ship?"
      'Kanamee shook his head. "I am afraid not. Because of our caste system, I only know the way to the bridge, here and back from my quarters and-" 'Kanamee's sentence was cut short as a spheroid dropped right between he and Cunningham. 'Kanamee felt himself visibly jerk, and he nearly slipped on the gore that covered the relatively clean floor. "What in the Prophets' name-?" he began.
      It was Spark. "Greetings," he said. "I am Three Four Three Guilty-"
      Cunningham growled, smacked the back of Spark with the butt of his assault rifle, rolled his eyes and said "What are you trying to do, turn us on each other? I'll do the introductions." Spark made a small harrumph! and floated off tersely.
      "That was 343 Guilty Spark, the monitor of Halo. He's a real pain." The Lieutenant Commander shook his head and sighed. "He tried to trick a Human into firing Halo. Along with the other Halos, it would've destroyed all Humans and Covenant. It's a doomsday kind of weapon, I suppose."
      'Kanamee nodded. "There have been legends of such an artificial intelligence construct, but I did not believe them...at least until now."
      "Well then, how do you propose we begin our campaign to take back the ship?" said Cunningham as he looked back over his shoulder at Spark, who was floating in a corner and humming what sounded like a Gregorian monk chant.
      "I suggest we-" 'Kanamee started, but Spark turned, flew, and inserted himself back in the way. He ignored both beings' scowls and muttered threats and spoke.
      "Take back essential compartments from the Flood. I suggest we start by taking back the security center. It is down on the next deck and down a hallway. Teleportation to that target is-"
      "Hold it. Before you pull your disappearing act with all of us, I want to confer with Sami...Speaking of whom," Cunningham said as he looked around "Where is she? Did she get pulled out with Pierce?"
      "No, actually. I'm out here in the bloody tank," Sami said back over the radio. "I've been drawing Flood out of the docking bay and destroying them. There are less and less each time, though." There was a crackle of machine gun fire and a burst of static. "I've also used the radio equipment to broadcast myself into the Norah's system...I've got access to the security cams, and some life support systems. I'm afraid I can't do much for you. Oh..." she paused as if surprised. "You aren't going to like what's going on in the bridge...It has to do with Hudson... "
      "He's alive? He can't be alive, there's just no way." Cunningham said incredulously.
      "No. There's no way he could be alive like this. Anyway, the Norah is surprisingly like a Human ship, at least in design. They have a bridge, but they also have backup compartments and a secondary bridge. Oddly enough, they also have airtight access tunnels that aren't in the schematics. Dozens of them. They're blocked by doors that are about two meters thick. No kind of scan could locate them, not even one of Cortana's. I found them by using a camera in one of them."
      "All right, where's the closest one?"
      Sami sighed and said "Down a hall on the first deck. The one to your right."
      "All right, let's get moving. Spark," Cunningham said. "Zap us to the security center."
      Spark processed an electronic sigh and said, "I am afraid that is impossible."
      "Like crap it is," Cunningham muttered as he thumbed the M90's safety off and pointed it at Spark. "I want us in there now ."
      Spark laughed. "You realize that your weapon will have no effect on me, do you not?"
      "Not just me." Cunningham nodded and several Marines nearby raised their weapons. Thompson also raised his Jackhammer and coaxed as many metallic sounds as he could out of it, all the while grinning like a fool.
Cunningham nodded to 'Kanamee. 'Kanamee growled an order and several Covenant nervously pointed their weapons at Spark. Three Elites, including 'Kanamee, even went so far as to activate their plasma swords and approached Spark.
      Now Spark became nervous. He began to stammer. "Commander, teleportation is...sui -suicidal. That room is full of Flood! After all, why leave yourself with an ex - p -posed flank?! They would attack from the hallway!"
      Cunningham scowled; Spark was right. It would be suicidal. At least they knew they could twist Spark's arm. He had gotten very nervous when they had ganged up on him. He could stand one Marine with a weapon, but he didn't like going up against 50 plus weapons at once.
      "Right then," the Lieutenant Commander said as he walked back towards the ascender. "Let's go."

      One deck above, the last of the bridge crew had just started to climb down the rope, when he heard a pair of groans. He poked the top of his head over the lip of the hole, and was shocked to see the Sergeant Johnson and the Elite stir.
      "Commander!" he said "I think you'd better take a look at this!"
      Sergeant Johnson groaned again, rolled over and said, "Five more minutes..."