The Truth and Reconciliation
Posted By: Steve<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 18 July 2004, 5:52 PM
Another long one...again. Enjoy!
The Truth and Reconciliation, after the discovery of the Flood, attempted to evacuate Halo. The problem was that they had been badly damaged when they had engaged the rogue Human vessel, the Pillar of Autumn . After three days of hard repairs, they were still doing major refit.
They were sitting ducks for the Flood.
After the Flood overwhelmed the Shades and the troops attempting to return to the Cruiser for Evac at the grav-lift, they boarded and systematically infected each and every compartment. They made their way to the Control Room where 6 SpecOps Elites in black armor and the gold-trimmed Shipmaster tried to fend off the onslaught. When the engineering room was taken, and the Shipmaster killed, the few remaining Elites decided to vent the coolant, causing major internal, as well as external damage. And in the last few moments of the Shipmaster's life, he had exhausted the thrusters positioning the Cruiser over a less-infected and more strategic location at the end of a box canyon, with a raised plateau under the grav-lift. The plateau had sloping sides leading up to it, perfect for a grav-lift defense. The Elites decided to leave the grav-lift on, so that when reinforcements were sent to retake the ship, they could easily board, clear, and move the Truth and Reconciliation away from the ring. They were also reasonably sure that any Flood in the canyon were minuscule in numbers at best. The Elites in the Control Room had just enough time to send a distress call before the ship was taken by the Flood.
'Ula 'Kurimee jumped off the cramped dropship along with another SpecOps Elite named 'Juri 'Vovamee, and four black-armored Grunts, two with Fuel Rod Cannons. 'Kurimee's group, along with three other squads of SpecOps Covenant, were supposed to infiltrate and cleanse key parts of the ship. 'Kurimee's four squads were assigned to the Control Room.
There was a problem, however. The second task-force assigned to secure the grav-lift was taking too long. There was no otehr way to get into the ship. So, 'Kurimee did the only thing he could: Help take the grav-lift. He would lose some of his force, but, if he didn't complete his mission to recover any high-ranking officers alive aboard the Cruiser, and quick, the Prophets would have his head. If any were still alive to punish him.
A short while of marching to the grav-lift proved exhausting. The canyon the Cruiser decided to hover over proved very challenging in the way of terrain. By the time they reached the front line, the Grunts could barely keep their Fuel Rod Cannons on their shoulders. Even the Elites, 'Kurimee included, felt the urge to lean against the rock wall for a moment.
But their honor would not allow, so the Elite screamed, "You're tired after that brief walk? You are disgracing the Gods with your weakness." The Grunts looked up from their panting, knowing that the Elite, too, felt like taking a breather. But, he was right in a way. They had a mission to accomplish, and their unit had one of the best records in all of their division.
The sounds of the battle grew louder as the 8 Elites and 16 Grunts moved past a patch of coolant, its gloomy iridescence the only light in the narrowing passage. The regular Elites, Jackals and Grunts who were part of the original task-force shuffled to the side as they passed. When they were ten units away from the battle at the grav-lift, 'Kurimee saw a crimson armored Elite, a veteran, commanding a squad of Grunts to charge on the right, goo-filled slope. The moment the Grunts passed through the three-unit wide gap that led to into the chaos, three combat forms, who had been hiding in the shadows, ambushed the six Grunts. A tentacle from one of the Combat forms whipped a Grunt head-over-heels and into a pile of coolant. A slurry of needles ripped another Grunt in half. One of the Combat forms had a Human grenade. The four remaining Grunts poured plasma fire on it, but two got whacked from behind. In a last ditch effort, a Grunt threw a plasma grenade on the charging Flood. The other Grunt saw this, turned to run, and bumped into the legs of the second of three Combat forms. There was nowhere to run. The combined force of the plasma grenade and Human grenade engulfed the Grunts and Flood in a hail of shrapnel and plasma.
The veteran Elite cursed, turned, and saw eight black Elites standing before him. He immediately bowed his head, a sign of respect.
"Your Excellency," he said.
"Are you in command?" 'Kurimee asked.
"Yes, Excellency," he replied, lifting his head back up to see the Prophet-blessed Elites.
"My squad and I will move up on the left incline. You and your entire force will then move up on the right. I will call in for air support to bombard the plateau. Do you understand?"
"We had air support?" the red Elite said, then added, "Excellency?"
"Banshees piloted by my Elites are kept silent," was all 'Kurimee said.
"Had I been informed, we could have-."
"Do you understand my orders?" 'Kurimee said more pronounced, cutting off the Elite mid-sentence.
He paused, pushing aside his frustration. "Yes, Excellency."
As 'Kurimee got 'Vovamee to call in a Banshee nearby, the crimson Elite got his squad together and filed them into rank. The ten Jackals he had were in a straight line on the left. Their shields would protect them from the Flood shooting at them from the plateau. The two Blue Elites and himself would be in front, with the twelve Grunts in the middle. When they reached the end of the slope and had to turn around. The Grunts and Elites would hurl grenades over the Jackals' shields. Then the Grunts would charge, followed by the Elites and then Jackals. Hopefully the Banshee would knock most of the Flood out, and the Fuel Rod Cannons the commando unit wielded would prove invaluable.
"Alright, the Banshee will be here in 2 units," 'Kurimee said to the Elite. "Is your squad ready?"
"Good. We will have the Banshee distract them from the air, then we move up on the sides. Once at the end, our Fuel Rod Cannons should take out any infections and then we will have secured the lift. Once it's secure, your squad will hold the lift. Understood?"
"Yes, Excellency." After a bit, the buzz of a Banshee brought all units to attention.
"Go on my command," 'Kurimee yelled. The Banshee lined up for a strafing run and shot its Fuel Rod Cannon at the Flood on the mesa. It was dead on but only a handful of the Flood went down. Several were wounded, but fired on the Banshee. One combat form, Human to be precise, had a rocket launcher. The pilot spotted this and banked hard left, away from the plateau. But it only exposed its underside to the oncoming missile. The Banshee's charred remains bounced off the canyon wall, and crashed in a burning heap at the back of the wall.
"Go! Go! Go!" 'Kurimee screamed. His unit raced as fast as they could up the slope in order to get a bead on the Flood form with the rocket launcher, scattering to provide a wider target for the rocket to hit.
But they need not worry. That particular Flood had a bunched up squad of Jackals, Grunts, and Elites in his sights, all of whom where slowed down in a glob of coolant on the incline. The crimson Elite peered up just in time to yell, "Break!" when the rocket exploded behind the Elites and in front of the Grunts. The Elites' carcases were thrown ten units away from the impact. Ten of the twelve Grunts were killed, and eight of the ten Jackals liquidated. The Human Flood form, his magazine spent, jumped down the five unit height and finished whipping the confused survivors.
'Kurimee's unit rained grenades and Fuel Rod Cannon shots in the center of the Flood formation. The Elite's unit reorganized at the turning point across the mesa. Flood rained down all around them, with weapons bouncing off the squad's armor. The unit closed together in a tighter formation covering the Flood bodies, waiting for one to get up. 'Vovamee was in the very back of the formation, along with a Grunt from his squad named Raraw. 'Vovamee looked right, waiting for an ambush, and when he looked to his left, towards Raraw, he saw a Flood Combat form about to swing a vicious blow at the Grunt.
"Duck!" he warbled, and the Grunt instinctively complied, lunging forward. A quickly swung Plasma Rifle zoomed just over his methane tank and nailed the Combat form right in the face, sending it flying three units back. 'Vovamee walked up to its body and stomped his hoof in his back, then fired a total of ten shots at the Flood form. The Combat form's body had the mixed smell of Human chemical propellant for their projectiles, especially potent in a rocket launcher, and Covenant blood, mainly Jackal and Grunt. When he peered over the left side of the raised hill, he saw what remained of the veteran Elite's squad. Bodies lay scattered in a ten unit radius of a char mark. Blue blood mixed with purple near the base of the incline, while three distinct patches of purple blood lay three units from their Elite bodies. One Flood form had decimated his entire squad. For a veteran Elite, he lacked command skills, thought 'Vovamee. He guessed all Elites didn't live up to their Human nicknames.
"'Homamee, hold this plateau with your squad," 'Kurimee ordered the fourth squad leader.
"I will not fail you, Excellency," 'Homamee replied, determination in his voice.
"Everyone else, board the Cruiser." Wordlessly, the squads went into the beam, scanned the area for any incoming targets, and were lifted up into the belly of the beast.
They hovered over the floor, then dropped. One corner door was lodged open. In the other corners, bodies of dead Covenant were stacked, trails of blood leading to the carnage. Ammunition crates were scattered and tipped over. Everything else looked roughly the same, yet strangely different. The lighting appeared to be off, and the air hung still, as if any second now, Flood would shoot out of every door and kill them all.
'Kurimee, although aware of this subtle changes, dismissed them. He had a mission to achieve, and time was of the essence. With hand motions, they moved through the lodged door. Eventually, it would lead to the Control Room. The only problem was that, after a brief walk and encountering small resistance, they were halted by a giant hole in the cruiser. 'Kurimee hypothesized that the coolant that dribbled down 200 units into a growing lake had burned a massive gash in the cruiser.
There was no other route around it. The doors that led away were sealed, probably when the Shipmaster tried to contain the Flood. 'Vovamee went past a dislocated panel to a pair of locked doors.
"Burning through the door, although possible, would expend our ammo," he surmised.
"Yes. There must be a way," 'Kurimee said. He turned back and saw the large, dislocated panel. It was almost off. With enough force, it would come off and might be just large enough to bridge the shortest part of the gap. "'Vovamee, help get this panel off." They both moved to the end, for leverage, and pulled hard. A stress moan was heard, and then a pop and the rivets came off and the large panel fell on the floor.
The other four Elites helped position the panel on the very left side of the whole. It made it with just units to spare. One by one, the team carefully crossed the unstable panel. Raraw was the last one. He put an unsteady hoof on the panel and inched his way across. He was a step away from safety, when the end he stood on, weakened by fire and the weight exerted by the rest of the team who had crossed it, snapped.
The plasma pistol Raraw carried slipped from his grasp and plummeted. He, however, did not. Another Grunt from his squad, Gingin, had lunged for him and barely gripped his forearm. But Raraw soon noticed, as Gingin's plasma pistol also fell, that he was too far over the edge to hold him, and felt their combined weight start to pull them down.
But they then suddenly stopped, and, with a jerk, were hurled up and onto the deck. Both Raraw and Gingin were on the deck, confused from their ordeal, when they saw 'Kurimee get up off his butt and rise to his full 8 unit stature.
"We must move," was all 'Kurimee had to say, and the team took formation and continued to the Control Room.
In several units, and after much running and halting, the team was on the catwalk above the troopship bay. Only several more turns, and their battle would be nearly complete.
But the door they went through leading into the final hallway was blocked by no less that twenty combat forms.
Their battle had just begun.
Squad Four had an uneventful ten units. There were no contacts and only three Infection forms had been spotted and irradicated. The grav-lift was secure. They took this lull to set up several portable energy shields in front of them. Any Flood that made a direct assault up the slope would get trounced in seconds.
Suddenly, a gurgle was heard, and a combat form began to charge up the slope. The two Grunts fired their Needlers and blew the mutated Elite into ten pieces. The lead Elite fired some plasma bursts for good measure.
A buzz went over the radio channel. It was a regular infantry strike force approaching the grav-lift to reinforce and take back the ship. But sounds of combat soon rang through the team's ears as the strike force came under Flood assault. Eventually, the team spotted two rookie Elites and his accompanying Grunts fighting off the latest wave.
One of the blue Elites ran up to the team and said, "We are stretched too thin."
"How thin?" the lead Elite, 'Imu 'Tosalee, asked.
"From the giant hole in the Cruiser to here."
"How strong is your force?" 'Tosalee queried.
"Ten Elites, twenty Grunts."
"I will aid you," 'Tosalee said to the Elite. "Stay and guard the lift," he ordered his squad. The two Elites jumped down and ran into the fracas just in time to see the blue Elite's remaining Grunts get slaughtered and an Elite thrown five units, his face landing in coolant. 'Tosalee only got a glimpse of the figure as it reloaded its Human Assault weapon and spotted the oncoming Elites.
But as 'Tosalee prepared to fire, he was nearly toppled by a Human Combat form as it landed on his shoulders. Three more of the monsters landed around him. So he did what anyone would do when faced with multiple enemies in close proximity to each other: He threw a grenade onto the farthest beast, however, it was a bad decision.
The Flood combat forms rushed him. So 'Tosalee turned and ran as quickly as he could towards the grav-lift. He saw a blue-white explosion at the edges of his vision and noticed his shields drop an eighth. All three Flood were dead, however, and the figure he saw had vanished. It was probably an oversized combat form.
When the commando looked up at his team, they were firing at Flood. But not at those coming from behind him, through the small gap, but at the back of the canyon. A carrier stood in the Elite's way, and several shots quickly detonated the behemoth, taking two combat forms with it.
Just when 'Tosalee thought he had lessened the pressure, a whip sent him flying forward into the back wall. Through groggy vision, he saw a Flood Combat form prepare for another blow with his right arm. But it was soon blown off, as was his other arm and head. Green paste stuck to his shiny black armor.
But he could not sit here and wait. He quickly rushed up to the grav-lift to fight along side other Covenant brethren. Carrier and Combat forms mixed with several Infection forms to make a suicidal charge on the lift. There were dozens coming from everywhere, and only himself and his team was there to stop them.
'Tosalee had his back to a Grunt when the battle started. He looked back and only saw a corpse, three holes in the chest. The other Grunt, too, had been killed, or, that's what the Elite assumed. Only a blue speckle of blood marked where he had last stood, and it was unlikely that a Grunt would survive a fall such as the one behind them.
So it was just 'Tosamee and the other Elite. They both concentrated their fire on a right slope charge by the Flood, but they were also coming on the left. He shifted his aim and was about to fire, when the carrier he had aimed at exploded. Puzzled, 'Tosamee hesitated. Two more Flood went down under a barrage of Human projectiles. That's when he saw the figure again.
It was covered in strange, green armor, stained with green, purple, and blue blood. 'Tosamee had heard reports about this "Human" and how the warrior raided this particular ship with only light infantry support and rescued a high ranking officer in captivity. And, from what the Elite could see, was much more intimidating in person, as opposed to simple field reports.
But he would have to push his fear aside. Only one warrior would survive this fight, including the help of the other Elite. And 'Tosamee would make sure it was himself, although a part of him, deep down, already knew it wasn't to be.
The Elites had just started to fire on the cyborg when his lightning fast actions primed and dropped a grenade between them. In all the blinding light of the plasma rifle and bullets whizzing by, neither noticed the grenade, and paid the price.
'Kurimee was the first to act on the horde of Flood grouped at the door, firing his Plasma Rifle at a Combat form to his right and punching another to his left. Another Combat form from the back of the pack somehow managed to jump over the group of Flood, despite the comparatively small ceiling, and whipped 'Kurimee back to the edge of the catwalk.
He was saved from a twenty-unit fall by a stack of purple cargo crates. As he groggily shook his vision clear, he saw that his shied had dropped by a two-thirds. He struggled to stand, having to brace himself on the crates. But after a few moments, he was ready to go with his shield slowly recharging.
The Grunts had fallen back from the door, leaving the five other Elites to handle the swarm. They were doing their best, but it was inevitable that one warrior would get killed. His name was 'Jidamee, and he had just taken a burst of Plasma Pistol and a whip to the head. He staggered backwards to get out of harms way, but he tripped over a dead Combat form. Or, he thought it was a dead Combat form. It was actually a Carrier, and it was very much alive. When 'Jidamee looked back up from the floor, an explosion rang in his ears until he landed awkwardly on the bottom of the troopship bay and snapped his neck.
Several other Elites had taken hits, both from the Carrier and Combat forms, and had retreated to the far end of the catwalk. That's when 'Kurimee ordered the Grunts with the Fuel Rod Cannons to open fire. Green paste stuck to the floor, walls, and ceiling at the end of the barrage.
The team waited both for the Elites' shields to recharge and for any more Flood ambushes. The shields charged, the Flood didn't, thus allowing them to move to the Control Room.
So they thought.
Over 'Kurimee's radio, a desperate plea for help was heard. They said that they had several high-ranking Elites and the Holy One and were moving to the troopship bay awaiting a dropship to take them out of danger.
'Kurimee sent a transmission to verify that they indeed had a Prophet with them. Static was all that came back, along with background sounds of combat.
The squad had no choice but to backtrack to the bottom of the bay and find the helpless team. Eventually, they reached the bottom just in time to see one rookie Elite, three Jackals, and five Grunts stumble out firing blindly back at what 'Kurimee presumed as Flood.
In a flash of blue-white light, a grenade went off between the Grunts, who held grenades themselves. The chain reaction engulfed the Grunts and blasted the remaining Jakcals to wherever they had come from. 'Kurimee sent his two Fuel Rod-bearing Grunts to relieve the now lone Elite. After a brief fire fight, the commando talked with the blue Elite.
"Where is the Holy One?" he demanded.
"The Holy One?" the rookie gulped.
"The Prophet. Where is he? Is he alive?"
The Elite stalled. "It is fortunate that you arrived. My force and I were-."
"I have no time for this. Tell me where the Prophet is, or I will personally ring it from your throat," 'Kurimee interjected.
"Actually...we didn't have a Prophet. We merely used that as a way to get people to-." Once again, 'Kurimee interrupted the Elite, only this time, with his Plasma Rifle. The first quick shots were aimed at his chest and took out his shields. 'Kurimee paused to readjust aim to the Rookie's knees. He shot all four out and the cobalt Elite fell to the deck in pain.
"Leave him for the Flood," 'Kurimee ordered, and the team quickly hustled back up to the catwalk, annoyed at the rookie's foolish and costly mistake, one he will never make again.
When the team got back to where they started, one more Flood Combat form waited to ambush. A Combat form with a Human rocket launcher. 'Kurimee was back at the end of the pack, getting two Needlers off of some dead Flood so that Raraw and Gingin had something to fight with. 'Vovamee and the other Elites were ahead of the pack, sprinting to make it to the Control Room after their brief back-track. They rounded the corner and saw the Flood form. 'Vovamee was first around, saw the launcher before the Flood and dived out of the way just as the rocket's explosion showered his weakening shields. The other Elites, however, did not notice quick enough what was happening and succumbed to the rocket launcher's power.
The Flood form searched for more targets in his field of vision, but saw none, not even the Elite who had evaded his first rocket. All that was left of the Elite was his Plasma Rifle. Without another thought, the Combat form turned the left corner to spot a batch of Grunts waiting to fire in return. Fuel Rod shots zoomed over each shoulder of the oncoming Flood and impacted against the far wall, clear misses. A swarm of needles and plasma then impacted with the Flood form as the Grunts fired a small-arms volley. But just before the Combat form died, his right hand twitched on the trigger.
The rocket detonated close to the Flood form as the needles ripped his limbs off. The ten Grunts who fired upon the form hadn't done a great job in scattering themselves on the narrow catwalk. Only Raraw, Gingin, and the two Grunts with the Fuel Rod Cannons were away from the explosion. Nine of those ten Grunts by the detonation were sent flying in all directions, blue blood mixing with escaping methane to cause a horrifically spectacular show. The tenth Grunt was at the edge of the bunch when a piece of shrapnel punctured his methane tank. With just moments to live, the Grunt ran around, gasping for methane that wasn't there. He stopped, decided that he would be the death of himself, and pulled out his Plasma Pistol.
'Kurimee watched the poor Grunt struggle to live, knew he would not, and surmised what he would do next. When the diminutive creature reached for his plasma pistol, 'Kurimee turned and inserted a magazine of needles into Raraw's now fixed Needler. A shot was heard, as well as a dull thud and metallic clang as the Grunt's body and weapon fell to the floor.
"If we move, their deaths will not be in vain," 'Kurimee said to the stunned Grunts, taking out his rifle and moving through the massacre. This had been the costliest mission ever in his unit, and it was all because of that stupid rookie and the horrific Flood. He looked over the side of the catwalk to the bottom of the bay where the Elite had been. Purple blood was left in a puddle where the rookie had lain, as well as a trail away to a corner. That's where the Elite now lay, dead from a hail of needles. His body was badly mangled, too mangled, it seemed, even for the Flood to make any use of him.
This left his original squad of 8 Elites and 16 Grunts, to at just 1 Elite and 4 Grunts, depending on how his squad left at the grav-lift had faired. A burst transmission to his squad confirmed 'Kurimee's worries. They were all that was left.
A dropship moved into the bay, deposited some Elites, and docked, waiting for the team with the Prophet. 'Kurimee hailed the dropship over the radio, told the pilot a short version of the rookie's story, and asked for reinforcements. But now 'Kurimee said that the rookie Elite had been false, and without hesitation, the dropship picked up it's Elites, turned, and exited the bay to get out of this death trap. 'Kurimee did not blame him. He would have done the same.
So the group moved to the door they had fought twice to go through when a scraping of armor on metal was heard behind them. They turned, weapons ready, to find 'Vovamee pulling himself up from the ledge. He bled from several wounds on his back, but was fine none-the-less. He went over to his dropped Plasma Rifle, picked it up and looked at the mess to his right.
"Once our mission is complete, their lives will be vindicated," was all he said about the matter, and he proceeded through the door.
After a brief walk, oddly passing by many dead Covenant and Flood alike, all with bullet holes in their mangled bodies. They finally arrived at the doors to the Control Room. Hopefully, the Prophet would still be alive, protected by several Elites, waiting to be rescued.
But when the doors parted, the Elite would have never guessed at what he saw.
The room's normal glow was diminished to very dim lighting. But despite that, 'Kurimee could make out several figures. The first was on the elevated podium in the middle of the room. It was a giant Flood form, larger than five carriers put together. It had web-like "limbs" connecting from the floor to the ceiling. Several beings hung suspended from it, one of which was human, another, he presumed, was the Prophet.
The next figure over was in green, shiny armor. He had heard about this human. It infiltrated this ship and stole a Human Captain. A worthy enemy.
But to his far left was Flood. Lots of Flood, coming out of two different doors. Raraw and Gingin reacted first to the Human, each tossing Plasma grenades at him, which he nimbly dodged. 'Kurimee and 'Vovamee, however, were more worried about the Flood as the Human went to the back corner off to their right. In the proceeding battle, the two Grunts took heavy fire and collapsed. The Flood also claimed the lives of the two Fuel Rod Grunts. Their weapons' fail safes kicked in and the Elites barely dodged the ensuing explosions.
Three units later, after the last Flood had fallen, as well as the Elites' shields, they began to take fire from their right. 'Vovamee turned to face the attacker when a blue orb stuck to his chest. He jumped into the pit surrounding the control podium, thus sparing 'Kurimee's life. His entrails and blood were then spread along the walls of the pit.
The figure fired the last two rounds in his pistol's clip which 'Kurimee barely dodged. He fired at the armored figure that dashed between shadows, until his rifle malfunctioned as it dumped waste heat. That's when the pounding of Human projectiles ricocheted off his weakened shields. He heard the weapon's bolt lock open as it spat out its last round, which went through 'Kurimee's shield and hit him in his throat. Purple blood oozed between his grasping fingers as he clutched his throat in anguish.
'Ula 'Kurimee got one last look at his superior as it charged him with his Assault weapon and brought the butt across his head, twisting his neck around, and snapping it in several places.
His limp body dropped to its knees, then fell forward.