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Crimson Moon by Harbringer352

Betrayal in Nightmare, part One
Date: 4 January 2010, 11:00 pm

00:00 24-hour Time
Location: Prophase, Moon

-It was dark. I hardly heard my team move across the desolate plains. Prophase's twin moon – Metaphase – glowed a strange blood red. It bathed the plains with crimson.
-So many stars. Never seen so many, not even on Earth. We're so far from Earth.
-Somebody has linked with my private COM. Looks like David.

CH-David? What's the sitrep?
DF-Screwed, Sarge. Can't find hide nor tail of Delta Squad.
CH-Keep looking. I know they're out here somewhere.

-David was on the original Alpha company. Me and him both. We were good friends then. When the company got screwed over, we got switched. As luck would have it, we both ended up on Gamma Squad.
-We were sent here ten days ago to find a squad that had disappeared into the night. Prophase was a funny place; the orbit around this system's sun, Derelict, was irregular, so time was never the same.
-Used to be twelve of us. Now there was five. Seven of us disappeared into the night. Probably went to the same place as Delta Squad. Only me, David, Eliza, Sonny, and Harriet. We all knew Harriet worked for ONI. Specifically, Section 3.
-Can't see anything far as the eye can see. This moon has similar atmosphere to Earth, as well as similar gravity. If you didn't know better…

DF: Sarge?
CH: Here. Report.
DF: We just secured a CNI link with Lance Corporal Mick. Ten meters east.

-Inside my helmet I smiled. Mick was a good man – he would help sort out this madness.
-I alerted the team. We set off in the eastern direction. Directly under Metaphase.
-But…something was wrong. This plain was too wide, and the need to look over my shoulder like a bothersome itch. Eventually I turned, but I kept turning, paranoia leading me in a desperate search.
-Part of me was surprised to see nothing.

DF: Holiday, we found the CNI transponder.

-The tone of his voice set a worm of cold dread coiling in my gut.

CH: And?
DF: Eh…

-I followed his pointed finger. I bent down and picked up the helmet-
-Only to drop it in disgust. It was Mick.
-Specifically, his head. The rough tear was tinged with a strange green moldy substance. It wasn't a clean rip-
-Something had bit it off.

DF: What happened here, Carly?
CH: Hell if I know, Freeman.

-What the hell was going on here? The same paranoia that gripped me before made my extremities deaden. My head went tingly numb, like it always did before-

EG: ARRGGGHHHH!! Get it off, get it off!

-I whirled around in biting terror, my visor polarizing immediately. My rifle was in my hand and I found myself aiming at Eliza.
-Eliza had this thing, this nightmare, attaching itself and burrowing into her chest-

DF: Sarge! What the hell are those things?!
CH: How many times do I have to say this? Hell if I know! Now shoot the damn thing, David!

-We opened fire on the hapless Eliza. She jerked under the impact of the MA5B's armor-piercing rounds and crumpled to the ground.
-That was when I noticed Sonny had disappeared.

CH: David, find Sonny! Now!

-Sonny was the baby of the family. We kept him safe, because he was the youngest, and recruitment into UNSC wasn't his choice. We all knew what it was like to be new. It was scary. It was traumatizing.
-But we didn't find a trace. I was close to crying, but I held it in.
-Like I always did. Like I had to.
-Harriet was suddenly at my side, her cold, analytical tone sliding into my ears like a wet leech.

H-ONI: You won't find him.
CH: I'm going to try.
H-ONI: Doesn't matter. He's gone now.

-I froze in place. Depolarizing my visor, so I could look her in the eye, and assumed a defensive position.
-She didn't depolarize her visor. Cocky-

CH: What do you know that we don't?

-David stood behind me. Out of the corner of my eye, I watched him slowly withdraw a combat knife from his chest armor.
-The shine of the titanium alloy flickered across Harriet's visor. Her helmet moved a fraction of an inch, taking in the knife and my tightened grip on my assault rifle.

H-ONI: Plenty of things, Carly. I know you worked for a rebel organization in 2547. Assassin. You're the one that killed General Joseph Farley. You used a S2 AM silenced sniper rifle with an Oracle scope. You were born on-
CH: That's enough, spook. Being a smart-ass will get you shot.

-I interrupted Harriet when I saw David look sharply at me. What I did back then was my decision, and I'll admit, it wasn't smart.
-But now? I-

H-ONI: David Freeman. You're not so innocent, either. When you joined the ODST program, you accidently murdered a fellow man. No one would find out though, would they?
DF: Shut your hole, oni.
H-ONI: Really, David? You know as well as I do what's going on here, and why I'm here as well.

-I took a moment to glance back at David, who avoided my gaze.

CH: Why? What's going on here?
DF: Shut up, Holiday. This doesn't concern you.

-I resisted the urge to beat the crap out of him for talking to me like that. I didn't, and instead settled for glaring at him.

CH: What the hell? Of course this concerns me! We're on a freakin' desolate moon in a god-knows-where system, being attacked by, by, god knows what, and you tell me it doesn't concern me?!
DF: Shut up, Carly! Everyone, just be quiet!

-We were quiet. We listened. Nothing though, no wind. Some breathing…

Betrayal in Nightmare
Date: 9 January 2010, 1:57 am

And then…something animal screamed.

CH: What the-

David motioned for me to be quiet. We put our backs to each other, forming a sort of defensive triangle, while being assaulted from all sides by the primitive, hungering screams.
I'd never heard anything like it. People scream in pain…whatever it was out there, it screamed with hunger and need, with base instinct in mind: food.
A deep, guttural howl that you could hear tear out of the lungs and ripple through the throat like broken glass. The noise sent tremors through your legs. Just then, a voice broke through the screams for food.

DF: Flood.
CH: Flood? What are they?
DF: Just shut up and shoot, Sergeant!

They came in waves. They came in torrents of rotting bodies. More than Delta Squad and our lost squad put together.
I realized where the moon colony had gone.
They resembled humans, in a horrible, rotted sort of way. They looked like humans after you buried them in dirt for three weeks, dug them up, tossed them in peat, and put through a meat grinder. They lurched forward, gaining speed, leaning sideways and brandishing standard-issue MA5Bs. Some held wrenches and metal poles, waving them in shattered hands like they were profound and delicate. They shuffled slightly, gaining coordination in their new bodies. A three-tentacled thing that had attached itself to Eliza was in the chest of all these creatures, basking in new-found freedom.
They were…against nature.
One of them strayed too close. David shot it down while I recoiled in fear at the strange antler-like attachment to its arm. It groaned and cried in angry disappointment as it tumbled to the ground and fell apart, releasing a cloud of green spores in the air.
Three more took it's place. We shot for what seemed like hours, before the tide finally broke down. I finally broke down, tears cascading down my cheeks like a floodgate released.
I cried some more at that reference. I realized…some of the Flood I'd gunned down…were (relatively) innocent townsmen. And some…were children.
David sat besides me. I realized I'd fallen to the ground in shock.

DF: I'm- I'm sorry I yelled at you. But, this is just so-
CH: I killed a child.
DF: What?
CH: One of the Flood. She was a little girl. She still had her blonde hair tied in pig tails.

He was silent. I think he got up after a while.

H-ONI: Pelican inbound.

I wanted to kill her. She knew why we were here. But why was she here? I stood up, anger flowing through my veins. My limbs shook in fury.

CH: Why…why the hell are you here?

Her helmet depolarized. I saw her face for the first time. For some reason, I expected cold eyes, thin, frowning lips, and hard features.
Instead I saw a young woman with big, tired blue eyes. Her lips were full and edged with smile lines. The corners of her eyes were crinkled with smile lines. Her forehead was creased with worry lines.

H-ONI: Same as you. I have a history in the rebel line, and ONI saw me as a perfect agent. After all, I was the one who murdered the General.

I growled. This wasn't Harriet. This was Mallory Trip. This was my best friend from Cataclysm, the Rebel-controlled asteroid belt. We had trained together since we were twelve.
Things didn't match up. I knew as soon as I stepped on the Pelican…

DF: Here comes the Pelican.

I frowned and watched the drop ship drift down. It shifted irregularily, waggling the wings. The engines cut out, ten feet above ground, and the Pelican plummeted to the ground.
I watched the cockpit splatter with blood. Flood.
I checked my ammo counter: no rounds. I had no spares either.
I looked at David. He checked his rifle, then cast it away with a shake of his head. His visor polarized. He unsheathed his combat knife and held it at ready.
I looked at Mallory. She threw her rifle to the ground, same as David, and bent down, hefting a rock.

I knew there was no hope. Even if we got back to UNSC, we would be killed for what we saw. We would die here, at Prophase.

The moon bathed the plains in crimson.