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The Beginning of the End, Part 3
Posted By: Wonga<jruppel@cox.net>
Date: 28 August 2002, 11:17 pm

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     They flew over the barren wasteland that was now Reach. The sensors in CASTLE were damaged in the glassing, so it turned out that the cruiser was almost one third of the way across the planet. "How did James make it down to the surface?" the Chief asked. "We downloaded his video record before he died, I'd tell you, but it would be easier to show you." She took a cable from the video panel of the longsword and linked it to her helmet. The video began playing, and the Chief transferred control over to Cortana and watched. As the recording blurred into view, he could see himself, on the platform as James spiraled away. James spiraled out of control for thirty seconds, passing around to the planet- side of the dock. He ripped off the jet-pack and it blasted away,did a loop, came back and rammed James right in the stomach. This set him hurtling towards the planet. As gravity took effect, he began to move faster and faster. Suddenly, something loomed up beside. It was a covenant cruiser, with a gaping MAC wound in its side. Thats my only hope, James thought. He tucked his arms to his sid and shot off towards the cruiser. As the ship started to lose power, the higher voltage functions began to lose power. The first of these was the shields. James flew up next to the ship right up to one of the docking bays. He was matching the ship second for second. Damn, he thought. The shields around the doors were still up. Suddenly , the shield dropped, and objects began flying out. One of these being a grunt. James, in spite of his imminent danger, couldn't help but smirk at the grunt as it flew by, screaming, "AIEEEE!!". Then, a larger, more dangerous item flew out. A wraith tank came out, and started flying straight towards him. If it did hit him, the difference in their speeds would kill him, hands down. He angled himself towards the ship, causing him to move towards it. He kicked out at he hull with all the strength, and in the process dented the hull. He flew away from the ship. Well, this is it, he thought. I'm finished. As he thought that, he could feel the heat of reentry forming around him. Then he saw something tumble out of the ship hat made his heart stand still. An empty banshee. But, due to to its aerodynamic shape, it had already accelerated to the same speed as him. "No, I won't give up this easily!" he screamed at himself. He made himself even straighter. Then, slowly, painfully, he began to gain on the banshee. Inch by inch, he gained on it. But there was a problem. He looked at his shields, and saw that the re-entry heat was wearing them down, at a shockingly fast rate. They reached the halfway point. Just three more feet. He thought. Every muscle in his body strained to go faster. One quarter left. 2 feet. An alarm went off in his helmet. No shields were left, and 1 more foot to go before his hand could reach the tail fin. Half of a foot. The sunshades on his helmet began to melt and curve back. Every, muscle screamed. "No more." Every last bit of his concentration, all of his training, all of his life came down to this last moment. He closed his hand,... And grabbed it. He almost didn't have enough strength to pull himself up into the banshee. He turned it on, and instantly went to full reverse. Suddenly, the ship, wraith, and runt went hurtling past him to the ground. He almost blew out the capacitors in the banshee's wingpods slowing himself. He started the slow decent towards the ground. The video turned off. The Chief wished he could have told James he was sorry that he didn't come after him. Then, Cortana came on and said, "Chief, were coming up on a life sign." That's impossible he thought. Then something clicked in his head. He turned on his tag identifier. He could see Luke, Anna, and Kelly all in the cockpit with him. Then the object came into view, and a friendly tag appeared above it. It took the computer a few seconds to identify the tag. It felt like eons had passed to the Chief. Then the name popped up. It read "James-281"