Fire Team Tango-chapter III
Posted By: Zen-Army
Date: 15 June 2005, 7:05 PM
Fire Team Tango Chapter III "Divine Intervention"
1200 Hours, August 13, 2552 (UNSC Military Calendar)
Planet: Haven, Wayland County, City of Wayland: Currently Under Martial Law.
A Troop-hog slowly drove through a vacant street in the city of Wayland. The city had been under martial law for nearly three days. Its population usually stayed inside, and today was no different. Only a hand full of civilians walked along the sidewalks, past makeshift outposts set up by the Marines from the frigate Excalibur and the battle group that had accompanied it.
Fire team Tango sat in the rear of the Troop-hog, surveying the city. ONI had lost several expeditionary teams in the abandoned mines over twelve hours ago, and contact with the investigation teams was lost nearly six hours ago. The abandoned mines were under lock down, and the UNSC had begun to expand their operations into the surrounding area.
"This place is nearly a ghost town." Commented Jacob as he watched vacant storefronts drift by. "I thought there would be protesting and stuff like that."
"Not when ONI's calling the shots." Said Otto.
After Reeves' death, Otto became fire team Tango's new Sergeant. Mullins inherited Otto's old rank of Corporal. He didn't care about moving up through the ranks. All he wanted to do was keep his friends alive. Reeves' death had effected the fire team more than anyone wanted.
"So, explain to me why we have to trudge through the sewers all afternoon." Said Lee as he cradled his S22.
"The brass believes the Covenant entered the mines through the sewers via a forced entry." Replied Otto. "The mines are connected by extensive natural caves. We've got Marines searching the caves, so we're bound to run into friendlies."
"Looks like Nine Mile was a diversion after all." Said Lee. "When do you think they got here?"
"Probably while we were taking back the town." Replied Otto. "I'm sure they've got some operation going on down there. The expeditionary teams probably found out about them and were killed. That or the Covenant found the expeditionary teams. According to the brass, either way we'll be dealing with special operations troops."
"More Elites?" Asked Jacob as he rubbed his arm, remembering the camouflaged Elite that had attacked him.
"I hope not." Replied Otto. "But if we do run into one, we take it down as a team. No heroics."
As the Troop-hog mad a right turn in the intersection, flashing red lights caught Jacob's attention. He grabbed hold of the railing and stood up. Parked in front of a locked bulkhead was an ambulance, its red emergency lights illuminating the storefronts. Two paramedics were loading a stretcher holding a body bag into the back of the ambulance, overseen by four ONI Marines. Crimson blood was splattered in the bulkhead, interrupted by the occasional bullet hole.
What the hell happened here? Thought Jacob as he surveyed the scene. The rest of the fire team was watching the paramedics load the body into the ambulance as well. Every one knew what happened, but no one wanted to believe it.
As the Troop-hog came to a stop in front of a restaurant, Jacob leapt out. He walked towards a round glass table occupied by three ODSTs.
"What happened here?" Asked Jacob, wanting to confirm his suspicions.
One of the ODSTs looked up, the others just ignored him.
"A couple of civilians started to protest the marshal law." Replied the ODST. "The ONI Marines gunned em down the instant they started."
The ODST had a British accent and a crazy look in his eyes. Not even the sanctioned execution of the protesters bothered him.
"Lance Corporal Johns." Said the ODST.
"What?" asked Jacob as he tore his gaze away from the scene in front of him.
"I'm Lance Corporal Johns." Replied the ODST.
"Private Jacob Stanton." Said Jacob as he shifted his gaze back towards the ambulance.
"Just a heads up." Said Johns in a hushed tone. "Don't think ONI will stop at the protesters."
"You think they're gonna continue this?" Asked Jacob.
"I'd better shut up now." Replied Johns. "That ONI guy is giving me a nasty look."
Jacob looked at the ONI Marine and then walked back to his fire team. They were standing around a small access tunnel to the sewer. The thick metal hatch that sealed off the sewer was opened, and the hole was marked by bright yellow construction tape.
Lee was the first to climb down into the sewer. When he reached the bottom, he grabbed his S22. Lee had removed the long barrel of the standard configuration and replaced it with a shortened version that was combined with a different receiver. The shortened barrel used a series of linear magnets rather than the old gas operated system. This made the new configuration perfect for 'wet work'. No sound and no muzzle flash gave Lee a huge advantage when it came to being stealthy, but the configuration was not without its drawbacks.
The new barrel was shorter which caused two problems. Accuracy was diminished because of the lack of rifle groovings inside the new barrel as well as it's length. In addition to that, the individual rounds did not have the velocity the gas operated system offered. To make up for the drawbacks, the clips that went with the new configuration were extended to hold thirty solid core tungsten rounds.
The new configuration didn't make Lee's S22 much of a sniper rifle, but considering the environment he would be fighting in, it was the perfect weapon.
"How's the sewer?" Asked Mullins as he peered down the access tunnel.
"Cold and damp." Replied Lee. "Just like everything else on Haven."
"At least its just a run off sewer for the mines." Said Mullins as he began to climb down the ladder. "I'd hate to trudge through the city's shit all day."
* * *
After walking for several minutes, the fire team reached the wall breach. The two thick layers of concrete had crumbled around the large opening. The broken chunks of concrete that littered the damp sewer floor were all scorched. Parts of the chunks and slabs had been splintered into paper thin shards which coated the ground around the breach.
Three Marines were stationed around the breach. They stood around several large unmarked olive green crates.
"There's your entrance." Said one of the Marines, motioning to the breach and the cave behind it. "We've charted it only to the drop off, so the rest is up to you. We'll hang back and watch your six while you're down there."
"Thanks." Said Otto. "We appreciate it."
The fire team entered through the breach in the thick concrete walls of the sewer into the narrow cave. It was chocked with roots and only big enough for one person to fit through at a time. In the center of the cave, the roots had been hacked apart, making a small path. The idea of an Elite struggeling to squeeze through the crampped cave was ammusing, but if they did manage to fit through, it would mean that Jacob and his fire team would have to fight them.
"Jacob, you take point." Ordered Otto.
Jacob complied with the order and raised his MP20. The path was lit with neon yellow glow sticks. The Marines had only charted a small portion of the cave, but had determined it had been dug out by the covenant. The Marines had ended their survey where the cave ended in a drop off. Only a single glow stick marked the bottom.
"How come we didn't know about this cave?" Asked Jacob as he pushed through the tattered roots. "Even though the Covenant did have to dig it out a little, its right next to the sewer."
"It was probably formed by runoff. The roots are all exposed and I'm pretty sure that wasn't by design." Replied Mendez. "I don't know how the Covenant found it, but It probably leads to what ever they're looking for."
The fire team continued on through the cramped cave, brushing past tattered roots and passing bright glow sticks. They had been walking for several minutes, and the cave had gotten systematically darker with each step. Every one was equipped with night vision goggles, but at the moment they did more harm than good.
Along with all the other equipment at Whiskey outpost, the night vision goggles were the best the UNSC had to offer. They were designed around the standard light amplification technology, but were also capable of providing illumination with out the use of light. their ability to do so was a mystery to Jacob, but he had never taken the time to inquire about it.
Jacob pushed forward through the roots. The next glow stick was only a few feet away. The glow stick was a neon red and marked the location of the drop off.
"We're at the drop off." said Jacob as he peered down to see a faint yellow glow stick at the bottom. "It widens out along the edge, so we don't have to go one at a time."
* * *
The only light source was the faint glow stick. Fire team Tango had ended up in a foot of ice cold water. The Cave had been blocked off by debris consisting of thick slabs of rock, dark mud and gnarled roots. The water that had flowed along the edges of the cave had been stopped by the debris, causing it to form a shallow pool.
Jacob pulled his night vision goggles over his eyes. The pitch black world was suddenly bathed in green light. The solid mass that had made up the cave walls became a detailed image of craggy dark green rocks and a tangle of thick twisting tree roots. Small crustacean-like creatures crawled among the roots, occasionally stopping to feed on the liken that covered them.
The creatures were everywhere, curled up together within the protective roots, crawling on the slick cave walls and squirming through the pools of cold water that formed among the sides of the cave. Each creature gave of a phosphorescent glow, lighting it up like a Christmas tree in the light amplified world.
As Jacob continued to walk down the cave, a long worm like creature dropped from the roof above and landed on his shoulder.
"Oh God, It looks like a tape worm." Jacob said in disgust as he scooped the pest off with his knife.
Jacob threw the pest down to the hard cave floor and watched it writhe on the cold jagged rocks. After a few moments, he stepped on the worm, crushing its exo-skeletal plates and squeezing its soft entrails onto the rocks. As the worm died, it gave a shrill squeak that echoed down the cave for what seemed like an eternity.
"Nice job." Said Lee sarcastically as he raised his S22 and peered though the scope.
The entire fire team took up defensive positions, each member hoping that Jacob's blunder wouldn't be costly.
"Tell me what you see, Lee." Whispered Otto.
"Movement ahead." Replied Lee. "Can't tell whether its wildlife or Covenant. Its too blurry"
"Take it down." Ordered Otto as he starred down the cave.
Lee squeezed his S22's trigger. In an instant three rounds shot forth leaving only ripples in the air. The tungsten rounds impacted their target and punched right through it. As the rounds hit their mark, flashes of light erupted from the target and began to pool on the floor.
"Looks like a Grunt." Said Lee as he examined his kill through the scope.
"Wait." Said Jacob as he searched the ceiling of the cave. "Hear that?"
"What?" Asked Lee.
"That pulsing humming noise." Replied Jacob. "Its faint, but it sounds like its coming from the ceiling.
As Jacob finished speaking, the humming noise became louder. His night vision goggles filled with static as the noise intensified. The humming had a striking similarity to a heart beat.
"What the hell's happening sarge?" Asked Mullins nervously.
"I don't know." Replied Otto. "Just hold your positions until it passes."
A chorus of chirps and screeches echoed through the walls of the cave. Panic slowly crept over the fire team as the sounds intensified yet again. The pulsing humming noise was now nearly unbearable.
Jacob stood up and swept the area, frantically looking for a target. Every one wanted to run, but their military training took hold and forced them to stay.
"What the hall is this?" Frantically demanded Jacob.
Otto didn't respond. He was breathing heavily and had tensed up. The sounds were effecting every one in different ways, but each one was terrified.
"Contact!" Shouted Lee as he began to fire wildly down the tunnel.
As Lee began to fire, the rest of fire team Tango opened up, not bothering to aim. Jacob's static filled light amplified world became blinding as he and the others fired wildly in every direction.
"where the hell are they?!" Shouted Jacob as he dropped his SMG and whipped out his pistol.
"I don't know, just keep firing!" Shouted Otto.
The sounds ended abruptly, leaving the fire team in a state of panic. The static ended and their world was once again washed over with uninterrupted shades of green. The creatures that had been feeding of the roots moments earlier were gone and the adversaries that had haunted them left no trace of their presence. The only evidence of the fear induced fire fight were the spent shell casings that littered the ground.
Jacob took a step forward. As he planted his foot on the ground, a violent tremor shook the cave. Debris began to fall from the ceiling as the tremors increased. Jacob quickly stepped backwards as the solid rock floor beneath him shifted. He quickly grabbed his MP20 and slammed a fresh clip into the receiver.
"What the hell do we do now?!" Shouted Jacob as the rock walls split apart.
"Lets get the hell out of here." Said Otto as he rapidly stood up.
The fire team turned and ran back towards the exit. Only the faint glow stick guided them. As the rushed forward, the cave walls began to crumble, sending large slabs of rock falling to the ground and tearing the thick roots apart.
Suddenly the slick rock floor melted away, revealing a large rectangular shaft surrounded by automated machinery. Molten rock pooled around the machinery as the moister on the surrounding rocks evaporated.
Steam obscured Jacob's view as he rushed forward with no regard for the danger ahead. He and the rest of the fire team just wanted to get out of the caves. Something terrifying was down there, and now the cave was shifting, sending heavy slabs of rocks falling to the ground.
As Jacob approached the strange rectangular shaft, a bright circular symbol appeared on it. The metallic covering split apart revealing dark gray machinery covered with dancing lights. Jacob came to a halt, right in front of the machinery.
"What the hell is that?" He asked as the tremors died down once again.
"I don't know." Said Otto as he stopped to catch his breath. "Just keep going."
"You think it's safe to cross?" Asked Jacob as he cautiously took a step forward.
"Test it." Said Otto. "I'll pull you back if anything happens."
Jacob stepped onto the flat panels decorated by circuits of light and the circular vents that composed the machinery. The molten rock on either side of the machinery bathed it in soft orange light. It was still to dark to see clearly, but the amplified light of the molten rock caused severe navigation problems. Jacob was caught in-between the world of natural light and a world of tinted green light. At the moment he felt safer with his goggles.
"How dose it feel?" Asked Otto. "Sturdy?"
"Yeah." Replied Jacob. "But we should go one at a time."
Jacob took another step forward. As his foot connected with the hard surface, three red circular symbols appeared. The were decorated with both curved and straight lines which shifted their positions regularly.
"What just happened?" Asked Jacob as steam burst out of the vents, creating a loud hissing noise.
A second later, the rectangular column of machinery slid out from under Jacob's feet. As Jacob fell backward, the column of machinery retracted into the ground revealing a dark shaft that angled downwards at forty-five degrees.
"Shit!" Shouted Otto as he made a grab for Jacob.
It was too late. Jacob was already on his way down the pitch black shaft.
* * *
As Jacob came to his senses, he saw he was in a large chamber. On either side, flat geometrically shaped machinery and vents were built directly into the cave walls. A solid wall stood directly in front of him. Parts of it were covered in glass where circuits and small intricate pipes could be seen. Right In the center of the wall was a large shaft that extended several feet back before sloping upwards at a perfect forty-five degree angle.
Suddenly a bright white light appeared further down the tunnel, causing Jacob's night vision goggles to blind him. The light amplifying components of the goggles made them useless. The hell is that? Thought Jacob as he tore the goggles off his head and cautiously stepped backwards.
As Jacob slowly retreated from the wall, three mechanical objects drifted out of the shaft. Two of the objects flanked the one in the center on either side. They were geometrically shaped, like their surroundings, but made of a shinny metal rather than the dull compound that machinery was composed of.
The two mechanical objects flanking the third were composed of several angular fins that attached to an oval shaped body. Beneath the bodies hung large weapon like objects attached by wires and exposed circuits. Are these some of ONI's new toys? Thought Jacob as he starred in amazement at the three objects.
"A Reclaimer? Here?" Said the cheerful object that was hovering between the other two.
The cheerful object looked similar to the others, but it was slightly larger and covered with small lights. In addition to that, it possessed what appeared to be several probes. A bright white glow surrounded the object, making it easily distinguished from the others.
"What the hell are you?" Asked Jacob.
"I am 525 Divine Intervention." Replied the cheerful object. "I am the observer and director of this experiment. And these are my Sentinels. Quite useful and ingenious inventions if I do say so myself."
"What experiment?" Asked jacob. "Does this have to do with ONI?"
"ONI? I am unfamiliar with that term." Replied the Observer.
"The Organization of Naval Intelligence." Said Jacob. "They have some operation going on in one of the abandoned mines. That's how I ended up here."
"Interesting." Said the Observer. "One of our storage and containment facilities went off line many cycles ago. I've always attributed it to Flood activity, and saw no reason to investigate. I never knew it was in fact Reclaimers such as your self who were responsible
"I'm a Reclaimer?" Asked Jacob. "What do I reclaim?"
"You mean you do not know?" Questioned the Observer. "Then why would you have come all this way if your purpose wasn't to oversee this experiment your self, and destroy the Flood?"
"What experiment?" Asked Jacob who was getting more and more confused by the minute. "What the hell do you mean by Flood? We just came here to colonize this world and harvest its resources."
"You mean there is a colony of Reclaimers on this world?" Asked the Observer. "Oh how marvelous! Though it is quite unfortunate that they will perish when the Flood is released."
"Why don't you just tell me about this Flood and this experiment instead of answering my questions with more questions." Said Jacob.
"Very well." Replied the Observer. "You must forgive my excitement. Never before have I seen an individual Reclaimer, let alone a whole colony of them."
"The Flood are parasitic organisms." Continued the Observer. "If they find a host with enough bio-mass and calcium deposits, they infest it. The infestation is started when a parasite takes control of the potential host's nervous system. From there the parasite takes control over the host's mind and begins to burrow in the chest cavity. Once safely nestled inside the host, the parasite rewrites the DNA and transforms the host into a new life form. The host still keeps its original traits and form, but becomes much more powerful and consequently, deadly. If this host has enough cognitive capability, the parasite is able to do what its host remembers."
"You're gonna release this thing?!" Exclaimed Jacob.
"That is the experiment's purpose." Replied the Observer. "To study the Flood's behavior when uninterrupted by advanced life forms. Every two hundred and thirty-eight years the Flood is release and contained. With hosts that lack cognitive capability, let alone the mental capacity for creative thought, the parasite is relatively harmless and easily contained for the next experiment."
"You have to stop the Flood from being released." Said Jacob. "If they're anything like you said, then we won't stand a chance against them."
"That is not up to me." Replied the Observer. "If you would like, you may abort the experiment in the control room."
"And where the hell is that?" Asked Jacob.
"I am not a tour guide." Replied the Observer. "You must find it on your own."
"Fine, then you abort the experiment!" Shouted Jacob.
"That is impossible." Said the Observer. "I am not programmed with that capability. Now if you'll excuse me, I must attend to some urgent matters."
"Where the hell are you going?!" Shouted Jacob. "Don't just leave me here!"
"Containment is my first priority." Replied the Observer. "In order for you to colonize this world, you would need ships capable of space travel. these will undoubtedly fall into the Flood's hands and must be destroyed. I must also purge as much of the Reclaimers' population as possible, for they would be a great threat if they were ever infested."
"I will let you live." Continued the Observer. "If you can prevent the release of the Flood, then I will have no reason to purge the Reclaimer population, nor its ships."
As the Observer finished talking, it turned around, back towards the shaft. Without another word, the Observer and its two Sentinels disappeared into the shaft. Jacob was left alone in the pitch black chamber. As he reached for his night vision goggles, he heard a noise behind him.
Jacob quickly turned around, but without his goggles, he saw only darkness. He frantically searched for the flashlight mounted below the barrel of his MP20, but before he could activate it, a large mass hurled into him, knocking him unconscious.
* * *
Jacob slowly awoke to see he was in a medium sized chamber. The rock walls were bathed in warm yellow light. In the center of the chamber lay a wounded Elite, and standing around the wounded alien were six more Elites. Their armor was a shinny black, dotted with occasional lights. On their backs, they displayed illuminated symbols much like the ones Jacob had seen earlier
Jacob tried to move, but he found that his arms and legs had been bound. He decided not to struggle for fear of angering the Elites who had obviously taken him prisoner. Jacob began to watch them intently. As he did, one of them began to speak. He couldn't understand a word they spoke, but he listened to the conversation regardless of whether he understood it or not.
"" Asked the commanding Elite in the special operations squad.
The Elite in command of the special operations squad was Squad Master Orna Rolomee. He was a veteran of many operations and had the reputation of completing his missions without a single casualty in his squad. The Humans that had wounded one of his soldiers had ended this reputation. He had been appointed Squad Master of the special operations unit just before the operation on Haven began.
"" Replied his second in command who was standing over an unconscious and severely wounded Elite. ""
The wounded Elite was Ado Oslomee. He was losing blood very rapidly. His comrades had dressed his wounds several times already, but each time, the dark purple blood seeped through the bandages and sealant. The warrior's entire right side had been torn open.
The second in command turned his gaze towards Jacob. He was Squad Advisor zurrik Xamnnee. The tall muscular alien had a bad temper and a sever lack of respect for his new Squad Master.
"" Said Zurrik. ""
"" Said Orna in a commanding tone. ""
"" Demanded Zurrik. ""
"" Said Orna who had become angered by his second in command. "You heard as well as I that our lords have a plan for this one. To kill him now would be heresy."
"" Snarled Zurrik.
"" Said Orna, his voice rising. ""
Orna knelt down and retrieved his Carbine from the cave's floor.
"" Said Orna. ""
"" Asked an Elite.
"" Replied Orna. ""
"" Replied the Elite.
Orna turned towards Jacob and violently jabbed him in the ribs with the barrel of his Carbine. Jacob rolled over in pain as Orna began to talk.
"Get up." Orna ordered. "If you wish to remain intact, then you will do as I say."
"You speak English?" Grunted Jacob as he struggled to rise.
"If one such as your self were to spend as much time in the field as I then you would learn the enemy's language." Replied Orna.
"Why don't you just kill me now." Said Jacob. "I don't have any valuable information and I really don't want to be tortured for nothing."
"Your life will be in the hands of my superiors." Replied Orna. "Given the information we have obtained, they will decide whether or not your life is significant to our lords."
"So tell me, Elite, where are we going?" Asked Jacob.
Rage washed through Orna when Jacob called him an Elite. The idea that a human would label him as such was sickening. With out a word, Orna backhanded Jacob, knocking him to the ground.
"I am Squad Master Orna Rolomee!" Snarled the enraged Elite. "You will address me properly or not at all."
"Jacob Stanton, pleased to meet you." Replied Jacob sarcastically as he rubbed the side of his head where Orna had hit him.
Orna knelt down besides Jacob and grabbed him by the throat. Jacob struggled, but the Squad Master only tightened his grip.
"You are fortunate that your life is worth something, but that can change in an instant." Said Orna. "Do not test my patience with your disgusting labels."
Orna retrieved a small oddly shaped syringe from his belt and injected it into Jacob's neck.
"What the hell did you just stick me with?!" Shouted Jacob as he thrashed about in a final attempt to break free.
Jacob's vision began to blur and his muscles involuntarily relaxed. His thoughts were slowly snuffed out one by one, as he drifted into unconsciousness.