Stormbringers Part 5: tell us your name, rank and secret project number
Posted By: WildebeestNZ<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 17 January 2003, 6:12 am
Authors Note: I must apologise for the time delay between this Part and Part 4. Part 6 follows on Monday. This is where the story really starts to kick off J
Happy reading- Beest
Stormbringers Part 5: "Tell us your name, rank and secret project number."
>>You will live if you tell us why you are here.>>
Jenkins looked the techie in the eye.
The technician looked somewhat like a Jackal, but without the combat armour. He had seen engineers as well- similar to grunts, except without the high-tech suits. Clearly the Covenant had different jobs for the same species. He wondered what the "other" jobs were, for the Hunter and Elite classes.
It was distinctly birdlike in its facial movements as it replied, and Jarvis saw its eyes flash.
>>Yes, let me get the key. Please, don't hurt me!>>
But it wasn't a key it was reaching for.
Jarvis saw it before Jenkins, and shot the creature, but the grenade was already ignited. The three men dived for cover.
Everything shook as the grenade went off, and smoke filled the room. The three Agents felt their suits switch to hazard mode. Their rebreathers activated, preventing the smoke from entering their lungs. Clearly, suicide was a better alternative than interrogation, to this fanatical researcher. Yes, the Covenant were fanatical, but normally they didn't blow themselves up to try and destroy their enemy.
Something was definitely going on here.
Through the smoke Jarvis could make out red lights flashing. As his audio module came back online he noted the loud alarm sounds. It was only a matter of minutes before reinforcements arrived.
Jenkins got up from the floor, his shield shimmering.
"Right. Now that we've alerted everyone nearby, I think we should find whatever we're looking for and get the hell out. Jarvis, how long have we got?"
"Looking at standard procedures, I'd say five minutes- plus two for the fact they aren't expecting any human activity out here."
"Seven minutes guys. In that time we've got to take whatever they've got, get out and call the Dropship."
As Jenkins started making radio transmissions, Jarvis and Benson hurriedly searched the room in the haze. There were several control panels: one of them was marked RESTRICTED ACCESS ONLY in Covenant language.
"That terminal, try that." Benson pointed at it.
Jarvis pushed his finger into a slot at the terminal, and waited as the suit interfaced with the control panel. One of the reasons he had been selected for the Stormbringer program was because he "had a knack for unknown computer systems".
Not that many people these days weren't computer geniuses. It took a special kind of recruitment scout to find a computer genius who was also a good soldier. It took another kind of scout altogether to find one who had the ability to disappear into the environment: who could suddenly materialize and mow down hordes of Covenant troops. And still be able to kill someone from over a kilometre away with a sniper rifle. Jarvis was one in a billion.
They'd been lucky to find him. He was the only survivor of the Nessus Mining disaster on Mars in 2535: an accident which killed over 7000 people. They'd found him wandering on top of the rubble afterwards: somehow he had found his way from beneath the masses of rubble to the top. That was something special. The media had never been informed that there was one survivor: to keep things quiet the officials made sure everyone knew there were "no survivors." Henceforth Jarvis was incorporated into the Stormbringer Project, at the age of 8.
The interface flashed up on his HUD, and he began manipulating it, as he had done many times before.
ONI Datalink 5.5a
>>Directory: BetaNode/184.108.40.2060/BetaR/...Project Shadow/
+COPY ALL: PROJECT SHADOW
>>Copying BetaNode/220.127.116.110/BetaR/...Project Shadow/
>>Copy complete. End Interface Y/N?
+N. DELETE 18.104.22.1680/BetaR2/...Project Shadow/
>>Complete. End Interface Y/N?
>>Interface Complete. Have a nice day!
"F**k I hate that smiley thing."
Jarvis wasn't joking. When he actually said he hated something, he really meant it.
"There are worse things to worry about. Let's get the hell out."
The Sergeant pointed towards the exit.
They spoke as they ran out the door.
"Project Shadow? Sounds dangerous. I bet ONI knows something about this."
"Well we're not going to find out until we get out, are we? Come on! Faster!"
"Oka-Hey! What the hell is that?"
Benson pointed near the entrance.
There were several funny-looking life support tanks wired up to the wall. There was a motionless humanoid shape in each. Whatever was in the tanks was obviously dead.
It was an unusual sight- they looked like some sort of incubation tank-for a strange new life form, maybe? Could the Covenant be engineering a new foe for the humans? Jarvis shook his head subconsciously. Not possible: they were technologically advanced enough already to defeat the humans. Jarvis wiped his visor. This was one helluva day.
"Is that what ONI wanted us to "discover"?" muttered Benson.
"I don't know. But hopefully it's in that damn file Jarvis downloaded. Now, let's get the hell outta here!"
Jenkins grabbed Benson and shoved him out the door.
The men reached the exit after about half a minute of running- they were going pretty fast. Stealth was no longer an issue.
Jarvis found himself looking down the canyon the other way- it actually seemed quite different-almost tranquil. The gunpowder and the bodies had been covered in the snowfall- the blizzard was still at its best.
"This is the Sergeant. Mission complete. Request extraction."
"Roger...picking up...transponder signal-can't get down...blizzard too strong...higher ground."
Jarvis thought he could hear the faint thrum of a Covenant Dropship. He had always relied on hearing- he could judge distances by sound even in the loudest background noise.
"Time for the hook-and-pulley guys."
No soldier enjoyed this. They had all been issued with an electric-winch grappling hook, for scaling large vertical surfaces. The cliff, like the one he had bungy-jumped from earlier, was probably about 600m high. Of course, the grappling hook rope was only 60m in length, so they'd have to winch up several times. And there was the 3% chance of the winch failing, according to UNSC statistics.
Jarvis took a breath and fired the grappling hook to a rock ledge above. The wind whipped his armour as he flew up the rock face, and he used his arms to absorb the impact. As he flew up the face he thought he could make out the shape of a Covenant Dropship entering the canyon.
Using one hand and two feet to hang on to the wall, he fired the grappling hook again.
After a few more shots he found himself atop the cliff. The Dropship sat there, motionless. Wood was standing next to it, rubbing his hands.
"Good to see you ladies had a good time down there," he said, pointing at the purple bloodstain on Jarvis' chest.
"Just so you know, I'm baring my teeth at you, Wood," said Jarvis.
This was one of those times where a visor was inconvenient.
"You wouldn't do that to the best pilot in the Corps would you? Come on, let's go."
Wood disappeared into the cockpit and gunned the engine.
The three Agents strapped up and the exit door creaked as it sealed itself shut.
"Well done guys. We're moving on up in the world!" yelled Wood, as the ship exited the ring's atmosphere.
It passed unnoticed through the small Covenant battlegroups.