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A Second Last Chance: Book 1, Chapter 4 - Of Ruins and Independence
Posted By: Torch99<caesartorch@quidnunc.net>
Date: 20 June 2002, 1:02 am

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      Along with the Hoplites had come heavy vehicles and supplies for a make-shift base. It would have some sleeping quarters, a medical bay, and an intel center. The Swords had hastily been covered up as best they could be--the ones that could be anyways. Only five were covered up. The rest were out in the open, and would be used for air support if needed. The 24 Hogs and 8 Scorpions were lined up ready for use. The vehicles had been organized in an efficient manner, and the base was erected in only an hour, with over half of the Hoplites assembling. The SPARTANs were there, directing traffic. When it was all finished, Chief addressed the crew. A few were not there, as they were on small perimeter patrols.

      "Well, boys, we're here. Earlier, the SPARTANs had an engagement with the Flood, and they saw firsthand what these things can do. One of us..." he glanced at Brutus, "was almost killed." Brutus remained stone, his black shaded visor looking forward, glistening in the rapidly lowering sun. Chief proceeded to give his predetermined orders. He had assigned each SPARTAN a platoon of Hoplites, totaling 36 men. Caesar commanded the Alpha Unit, Tiberius the Beta Unit, Crassus the Gamma Unit, Brutus the Eta Unit, Claudius the Omicron Unit, Titus the Theta Unit, Magnus the Delta Unit, and Clonus the Omega Unit. The Chief did not command any units.

      Chief spent a while talking to the whole group. He told them how the MA5B were not the optimal weapon against the Flood (unless at very close range), but the M90 shotgun and plama rifle were the best armament. He stressed the importance of staying with a group and covering each other's asses in combat. He went on and on, until a low rumble shook the ground slightly and a dull blue flash lit up the ever darkening sky. Some of the Hoplites instinctively pulled weapons off their backs and cradled them. The Chief stopped talking and watched for anything more.

      The silence hung thick in the air, as the Hoplites were breathing steadily and quietly, even though the adrenaline had already started secreting. They perceived the silence to last longer than it did, for it was only a matter of moments before a single patrolman was seen sprinting over deadfalls and small bushes, darting back and forth between the trees.

      He reached the Chief panting heavily. He took a few seconds to regain his composure. "Sir, a few minutes ago, my patrol witnessed a series of bluish explosions at an estimated 15 kilos to the north. They were fairly large. My patrol has not continued pattern and is awaiting your orders.

      Chief looked around. Large explosions from 15 kilos off? Those had to be pretty damn big. Munitions plants maybe? He didn't know, but he sure as hell wanted to find out. He had a gut feeling the Covenant had engaged Flood forces.

      "Double patrols!" he barked. "Magnus, you and Delta Unit reinforce perimeter. After standard shift, Gamma Unit, take over. I should be back by then," he said. "The rest of you Hoplites may busy yourselves for the time being, but be productive. If you need sleep, by all means, sleep. Even with beefed up patrols, don't feel safe."

      As the men all broke rank, the SPARTANs other than Magnus were standing silent. He turned to them. "A couple of you will escort me to the point of question and perform recon. The Spar 1's will go (Chief, Caesar, Titus). The rest of you will stay behind. Go to it," Chief spoke fairly quietly. Clonus, Claudius, Brutus, Crassus and Tiberius all headed back for HQ. They would be the ears on the other end of the transmissions Spar 1 would give. That particular channel was well encrypted.

      As Titus and Caesar prepped, the sky had gotten as dark as it would become. The moon would never achieve total darkness, but it tried. The SPARTANs would soon need to activate night vision. Chief got a Hog and revved it over to them. "Boys, this is our warhorse. Come and say hello." The glance by Titus was met by the silver sheen of Caesar's helmet. It reflected nicely in the lit darkness. Caesar got up and walked over, jumping into the driver's seat. Chief took the passenger seat. Titus looked at the open seat—the chaingunner's.

      "Oohhh, baby." He hopped up, popping a sniper clip into his rifle.

      A few minutes later, they had passed the last patrol. Magnus was there to see them off. "Good luck, sir," the 7 ft. 5 inch SPARTAN said, saluting. He got the same back threefold, then Caesar's foot found the floor with his pedal, and off they went.

      The trio approached the vector, deciding to ditch the Hog a few kilos from it. At four kilos, they got off. Night vision had been activated, and all were battle ready. So far, Chief had really liked what he had seen from these two newbie SPARTANs. Caesar had already proved himself in the battle with the Flood earlier, and Titus had proved an excellent marksman.

      Chief ran point five meters in front. Titus followed on left wing, Caesar opposite a little behind both. They jogged and jogged, until Chief suddenly stopped and crouched. The others followed suit, expecting jumping Flood erupting all around them. Instead, Chief motioned them up. Spar 1's had come to a cliff looking over a small chunk of buildings.

      "We're only half a kilo from them, Chief," Cortana said.

      The flashes of light were easily visible to their enhanced eyes. It certainly was a scene. Titus zoomed in with his rifle to survey. Flood warriors were launching themselves at the Covenant forces, decimating the ones they could whip. Bodies were everywhere, but mostly Flood. Covenant Bandit dropships were landing every minute, unloading more soldiers to pour into the battle. Their mounted Shade turrets lit up the ground with heated blasts of energy. As one would go up, more came down from the purple monster very visible up in space. Through the scope, he saw mostly Elite Covenant remaining; no surprise there.

      "Give me that, Titus," Chief barked. Titus obliged while saying, "Jesus, the Covenant are crushing 'em! I see very few dead for them."

      Chief was looking at a cluster of three dead Elites, all not more than a meter apart. He remained focused on them for a minute, all the while praying. They were not answered, however, as the Elites soon stood up on Flood legs. They had been infected. He muttered obscenities to himself as he looked for any other groups of dead Covenant. He found some and gave the scope to Caesar. "What do you think?" he asked.

      "About what? I see dead Cov....ahh...I see....this has potential to be very bad," he said weakly. "I guess they probably know we're here, eh? I bet my left nut they'd be on us in a second if they weren't engaging Covenant right now."

      "Don't put it past them, soldier," Cortana stated bluntly. She then sensed a different presence on the battlefield. "Chief! Down there, that blue orb! I think...I think it's...."

      "—Gimme that rifle!" Chief shouted; he saw it too. He had seen a small blue orb floating in and around the battle. He looked and saw what it was. He jumped up off the ground. "Dammit! I thought for sure I killed his ass!" he said angrily. He had seen 343 Guilty Spark. Apparently, the little machine was coordinating the Flood. "If he's here, they know we're here for sure!"

      The three remained, taking mental notes on how the Flood were attacking; what their tactics were. Covenant were still dropping forces all around, and it looked as if they might have a chance to turn the tide. Flood were giving ground. The Chief was not entirely happy however, for he wanted both sides to slaughter each other as much as possible.

      "I'm reading a huge energy buildup in space orbit Chief," Cortana voiced into the action.

      "Jesus, look!" Titus exclaimed and pointed towards the sky. A huge fleet of Bandits was approaching with all their lights flashing. Four waves were visible. Chief was scanning for any others when a brilliant white light screamed into his visor. Even the light refractor could not shield him from the light, and he was blinded for a few seconds. He regained his sight and looked around. All around him, small pieces of matter were dropping at great speeds. Then he noticed the fighting down below had stopped. Zoom showed that every single creature, Flood and Covenant, were either looking up or nowhere. Chief drew in this info and formed a conclusion. And then he looked up to prove his hypothesis. It was right on. The Covenant cruiser was nothing more than burnt shell in multiple pieces, all hurtling towards Basis or Threshold. It had been completely destroyed.