|"Just... dust and echoes."
This project, The Hunted, has either been cancelled, completed, or is totally inactive. Please refrain from editing or attempting to join it. Thank you.
|Run or die. Fight or hide.|
Live like rats in the shadows.
KingOfYou115 (Assistant Director)
|Date launched||December 7th, 2016|
Everybody wanting to partake in this Roleplay should read this little bit of information from IndyRevolution, as well as this extremely important notice. Both pertain to the beginning of our story, and will likely help you understand the setting, as well as give you some guidelines for the beginning of the roleplay.
One should also take the time to read over this. It is the start of this setting done by Indy, Sev, and myself on the IRC. You can read that if you want, but it isn't strictly necessary. Be warned, it's unfinished and unedited.
- 1 Rules
- 2 Writers and Characters
- 3 The Hunted
- 3.1 Act I
- 3.1.1 Shivly (01)
- 3.1.2 Timothy Emeigh (02)
- 3.1.3 Revan180193 (03)
- 3.1.4 Sev40 (04)
- 3.1.5 Ahalosniper (05)
- 3.1.6 Andromeda Vadum (06)
- 3.1.7 The Pale Kestrl (07)
- 3.1.8 Timothy Emeigh (08)
- 3.1.9 Ahalosniper (09)
- 3.1.10 IndyRevolution (10)
- 3.1.11 KingOfYou115/Shivly (11)
- 3.1.12 IndyRevolution (12)
- 3.1.13 Timothy Emeigh (13)
- 3.1.14 Revan180193 (14)
- 3.1.15 The Pale Kestrl (15)
- 3.1.16 KingOfYou115 (16)
- 3.1.17 Timothy Emeigh (17)
- 3.1.18 Andromeda Vadum (18)
- 3.1.19 Ahalosniper (19)
- 3.1.20 Revan180193 (20)
- 3.1.21 Timothy Emeigh (21)
- 3.1.22 KingOfYou115 (22)
- 3.1.23 The Pale Kestrl (23)
- 3.2 Act II
- 3.2.1 IndyRevolution (24)
- 3.2.2 TimothyEmeigh (25)
- 3.2.3 Ahalosniper (26)
- 3.2.4 The Pale Kestrl (27)
- 3.2.5 Revan180193 (28)
- 3.2.6 Andromeda Vadum (29)
- 3.2.7 KingOfYou115 (30)
- 3.2.8 Timothy Emeigh (31)
- 3.2.9 Ahalosniper (32)
- 3.2.10 The Pale Kestrl (33)
- 3.2.11 IndyRevolution (34)
- 3.2.12 Timothy Emeigh (35)
- 3.2.13 Revan180193 (36)
- 3.2.14 KingOfYou115 (37)
- 3.2.15 Andromeda Vadum (38)
- 3.2.16 The Pale Kestrl (39)
- 3.2.17 KingOfYou115/Timothy Emeigh (40)
- 3.2.18 (41)
- 3.1 Act I
Prospective writers may sign up via the RP's talk page, or Indy's and mine respectively. Short of outstanding rule violations, applicants will most likely be admitted quickly and invited to start posting immediately.
As a rule, don't post consecutively. There's aren't rules about how frequently you can post, though it's probably best to wait until a few people post after you.
We encouraged you to stay in contact with other writers. Collaborate with your posts, get your characters to interact with each other. We'll be trying to work with as many people as we can to work characters into the story once it starts, but it will be easier and more interesting for you if you take the initiative and arrange events between characters.
We may be the end all of the overall plot, but I've seen many RPs die when people lost interest because their characters and posts had no bearing on what was happening.
If your posts do cause problems like making your characters know things they shouldn't know, excessively interfering with other writers without their permission, or being nonsensical then we'll contact you, explain the problem, and invite you to change it.
The Death Rule
It's pretty easy: you stop contributing, We kill your characters. And they'll stay dead, or at least is far as this roleplay is concerned.
That being said, We aren't going start dropping bodies if you go a week without posting. You will a couple warnings, but after that you're done. We will mercilessly kill off your characters and that is that.
Now if there's a real world problem stopping you from writing, either message Indy or myself and we can work something out. This rule isn't here to punish you, just to encourage people.
Writers and Characters
- The Zealot
- Governor Ariana Clarent and the People's Community of Gotha
- Naval Aviator Lieutenant Commander Aleksandra Zaytseva
- Lance Corporal Jet Thompson
- Corporal Amelia Hope
- Petty Officer Second Class Russell-041
- Flight Officer Fletcher O'Hara
- Chief Petty Officer Joseph Amir
- Master Sergeant Mike Sanders
- Lance Corporal Isaac Anderson
|1945 STANDARD TIME (UNSC STANDARD), 07 DEC 2551
Location: Bridge of the UNSC Arrow Flight, adrift in unknown system
A ship wide broadcast went out; static, but still intelligible
[ CAPT. Bruening ] “My name Captain Julius Bruening, Captain of The Arrows Flight - we are adrift without power, with the covenant boarding this ship, I'm left no other choice, we must abandon ship.”
The broadcast went silent; Julius could hear fighting directly outside the bridge. He grasped his sidearm, checking the ammunition. Even if we could get the power back on, that cruiser would burn us out of space…
Metal snaps as the broadcast ended; Harald turned his head slightly to the two marines “You two, watch my six. I’m getting this door open.” He didn’t wait on a response; Harald tossed the lifeless Elite to the ground and turned his attentions to the door.
From inside Julius readied himself, he could hear the prying on the door. Slowly it creaked open, only wide enough for for him to see the blinking red light be blotted out by an immense figure; a blinding light flashed in his face. He recovered quickly, sighing in relief.
[ CAPT. Bruening ] “Harald.. Just the man I needed to see. We don't have time for chit chat, so I'm getting straight to the point. This ships going down one way or the other; I need you to overload the reactors.
Julius let out a light sigh as he eyed the two young Marines I hope Harald can get those two off the ship when he is done
Harald's sage helmet bobbed up and down as he gave a nod to the Captain.
[ Harald-077 ] "Aye aye Sir, I'll handle it"
Harald began walking back to the door he entered the bridge. He gestured for the two Marines to exit first, and he soon was in tow behind them.
[ Harald-077 ] "Nice to see you again Sir."
He grasped the door as he finished speaking, slowly creaking it shut. The trio rounded the corner as they made their way to the reactors.
Timothy Emeigh (02)
|1942 STANDARD TIME (UNSC STANDARD), 07 DEC 2551
Location: Cryobay 04 aboard the UNSC Arrow Flight
Lieutenant Commander Aleksandra Zaytseva stumbled out of her cryopod, falling to the floor and coughing up the surfactant that had been protecting her lungs. Standing up and getting dressed in the light shirt and pants stored next to the pod, Sasha frowned. The ship felt still, the dull humming of the reactors silent. That, combined with the hasty manner of her awakening and the awakening of the people around her led to only one conclusion: main power was offline.
Just as she came to that conclusion herself, Sasha's suspicions were confirmed as the PA system crackled to life and Captain Bruening's announcement filled the air.
[ CAPT. Bruening ] “My name Captain Julius Bruening, Captain of The Arrows Flight - we are adrift without power, with the covenant boarding this ship, I'm left no other choice, we must abandon ship.”
Listening closely, Sasha headed to get into her flightsuit, grabbing one of the additional armor sets for protection against the Covenant she would inevitably be facing. Grabbing a sidearm, she holstered it and moved to the weapon rack of one of the empty pods, grabbing the BR55HB and several magazines of ammunition for both of her weapons.
Sasha turned to the various flight deck personnel in her cryobay.
[ LCDR. Zaytseva ] "Alright, everyone. Captain's ordered evacuation, and that means we get to the hangar, clear it out of those alien bastards, and load up the Pelicans with supplies, fuel, and any crew and marines who show up."
Various acknowledgements went up as she finished her short speech and turned to the door of the cryobay. Motioning to a few of the marines who had been present in the cryobay with the flight crew, she directed them to the door to place a breaching charge and cover the hole when it opened. Getting into position, she raised her rifle, shouldering it, and thumbed the button to detonate the charge, blowing the door open.
|1948 STANDARD TIME (UNSC STANDARD), 07 DEC 2551
Location: Cryobay 03 aboard the UNSC Arrow Flight
[ MSgt Sanders ] "Alright ladies, you heard the old man, we're evacuating the Arrow Flight!"
He yelled across the cryobay that contained a few dozen cryopods, most of them used to be occupied by some of the ship's marines. He placed his helmet on his head and fastened it, completing his battle dress uniform.
[ MSgt Sanders ] "I want very marine combat ready in two minutes and I want to see those who aren't marines with either a gun in their hands, carrying supplies and ammo."
He moved past a few marines that were checking their weapons one final time and over to weapons rack where he grabbed a MA5D Assault Rifle and as many clips of ammo as he could carry without hindering his mobility. Two frag grenades and a M6C Magnum were also taken from the racks.
Now fully loaded and ready for battle, he turned to his men and the few non-combat crew members.
"The covies are swarming the ship so we're making our way to the hangers and get the hell off this overpriced tin can. Now let's get moving"
The marines roared they're acknowledgement and formed ranks right behind their Master Sergeant, weapons held high and ready to bring death to anything and everything that stood in their way off this ship. The few people in the group formed up the rear and held on to their backs filled with weapons, ammo, food and other supplies.
Pulling the emergency handle on the door out of the hall filled with cryopods, Mike was the first out, heading straight for the hangers, praying to any higher powers that it wouldn't be overrun by the time they got there.
His prayers, however, fell on deaf ears and only after a few corridors away from the cryopods struck misfortune. Mike had nearly run into a just as surprised Kig-Yar when he had turned a corner. Luckily for him he had reacted first and a burst from his assault rifle almost threatened to tear off its head.
[ MSgt Sanders ] "Hostiles!"
Mike jumped back around the corner just in time as bolts of plasma and crystal shards smashed into metal that stood between him and a gruesome death. His marines pushed themselves up to the wall readying themselves for a fight while the non-combat members of the group pushed covered their heads and screamed in terror.
[ MSgt Sanders ] "We'll have to fight our way through here or we'll never make it to the hanger in time."
He dared a quick look over the edge before pulling back again. He pointed at two marines to get up beside him.
[ MSgt Sanders ] "I didn't see any Split-Jaws. Only a few Chickens and Grunts. You two will bring down some covering fire while I and two others cross the hall for better firing positions, alright."
The two marines nodded and got into position, ready to spray down the hallway at the Covenant soldiers. Mike forced himself to clear his mind and calm down before he began counting down from three.
[ MSgt Sanders ] "Three... two... one... Now!"
|1949 STANDARD TIME (UNSC STANDARD), 07 DEC 2551
Location: Armory behind the bridge of the UNSC Arrow Flight
[ CPL. Žagar ] "We need to move, Captain, there's no telling the saboteur - or whatever brought us out of slipspace - may still be around."
Julius Bruening clicked his flashlight so he could see the Corporal. He saluted back.
[ CAPT. Bruening ] "At ease Corporal." He eyed Žagar for a second. "Its too late to worry about that now Žagar. They're probably already onboard."
He checked his ammunition one more time, making sure to stuff as many magazines he could find into his pockets - not many, considering they were in the small armory behind the bridge. Upon strapping on the hefty should-plate onto his bicep, he waited as the corporal was done tightening the straps for the ODST armour - clearly one which wasn't his. After donning his helmet and grabbing a nearby rifle, he nodded his head to let Bruening know he was ready.
[ CAPT. Bruening ] "Alright, Lets move!"
Bartolomej Žagar attempted to follow - clumsily as he was in his forty kilos of armour - and tried to quickly check each corner, despite often being a fare distance behind his superior.
[ CPL. Žagar ] "I've been hearing radio chatter - a bit of chaos is going on in the maintenance areas."
Julius Bruening slowed his a tad, getting ready to turn a corner into the corridor.
[ CAPT. Bruening ] "There's chaos everywhere right now Corporal - We're in a giant piece of metal on a crash course. I've got a three Spartans on my ship and only one of them has made contact."
He stated blatantly as if it was obvious. He stopped as he reached the end of the corridor, and looked down with envy on the soldier beside him.
[ CAPT. Bruening ] "I wish I had some of that armor, and something stronger than this pea-shooter. Come-on, this way to the pods."
Bart smiled slightly, unpolarising his visor in the process.
[ CPL. Žagar ] "If it makes you feel any better, sir, I woke one of your precious machines back there."
Remembering something, Bart flung himself to the side to stop him from moving in the zero G.
[ CPL. Žagar ] "We can't leave. When we came out of slipspace, the emergency power for some of the cryotubes didn't come up. We need to help them, or they'll be sitting ducks for... whatever may be here."
The captain never got the chance to agree or rebut him, as at that moment a figure uncloaked at the far end of the hall. Seemingly smiling as he looked towards his stranded prey, his armour lighting up the corridor.
[ Unidentified Zealot ] "Humans..."
The luminous monster activated his energy Sword, walking towards them with purpose, dragging it across the floor as he did, leaving orange marks in a way which intimidated the two worms before him. He suddenly stopped halfway through, however, lowering his sword in the process. It made a sound as if it were disgusted, or annoyed; Bart couldn't tell.
[ Unidentified Zealot ] "Not Demons.....who are you?"
Julius Bruening stopped full stride, raising his pistol - not that it would do much good against this split-lip. He responded immediately. Strangely, he wasn't scared, instead seething confidence in a way which defied Bart's understanding. With his left hand he gestured subtlety for Žagar to stay back.
[ CAPT. Bruening ] "Demons? You mean my Spartans? I'm the Captain of this ship, you split-lip bastards have ignorantly boarded."
But no matter, I'm not stupid Žagar thought as he rolled in front of his commander. He brought his MA5 to bear, watching the rounds be powerlessly absorbed by their foes shields. Stopping as soon as it became clear it had little effect on the elite's stride, Bart pulled Julius back, trying to lead him towards the escape pods. Julius Bruening struggled to stand his ground as Žagar pulled him away, shouting sharply as he was dragged away by his subordinate; Bart made no effort to stop.
[ CAPT. Bruening ] "Stand down Corporal!"
[ CPL. Žagar ] "Sir, I will NOT have you dying today!"
To his satisfaction, the captain suddenly relented, perhaps acknowledging it would be pointless for him to die right now.
[ CAPT. Bruening ] "Alright Corporal, we've gotta move then."
The pair brought back up to a running pace down the corridor, there was chatter getting louder as they drew closer to the escape pods.
Bart stops as he runs out of breath, and turns around to fire on his attacker - to see nothing. Surprised at this, yet still worried that the attacker was on his tail, the pair continued to the escape pods, jumping into the one with the most passengers. He whispers something as the doors close.
[ CPL. Žagar ] "Welcome to yet another day in hell."
|1947 STANDARD TIME (UNSC STANDARD), 07 DEC 2551
Location: Hallways of the UNSC Arrow Flight
Oh god, they were abandoning ship.
Youssef knew what that meant. Not just that the Covenant attack was succeeding, nor that they were fleeing blindly into space, but that without the Arrow Flight, they’d be without a slipspace drive. Even if a life-sustaining planet happened—against astronomical odds—to be within range of the escape craft, without the ship itself, they wouldn’t be seeing home again for a very long time, if ever.
As the Arrow Flight’s deck chief, Youssef had been part of the skeleton crew already awake when the ship first shuddered unexpectedly out of slipspace and shrill klaxons started blaring in his ears. With the fighting ground force defrosting, Youssef had felt compelled to help—still did—while they readied themselves, but knew if Captain Bruening had given the order, it was already too late. So, knot of regret in his gut or not, he’d turned and followed a handful of groggy-looking Marines funneling through the ship’s corridors to the escape pods.
Several times, he almost stopped. Even if they safely cleared the ship, it was pointless. In open space, the teardrop-shaped Covenant Seraphs would just hunt them down one-by-one as nothing more than target practice. But Youssef shoved the feeling of hopelessness back down each time, silently scolding each time that the slim chance in a life pod was better than no chance on the ship. He owed it to far more than himself to keep going, and did, even if he slipped to the back of the Marines’ group.
The Marines turned one final corner, and as Yousef followed, he caught the welcoming sight of a Bumblebee’s open door across from where the hallway ended. Just as the last of his despair fell away, an explosion rocked the floor out from under Yousef’s feet. He sprawled to the deck, banging his side through his jumpsuit’s thin, gray fabric. He sucked air through his teeth, then realized the Marines’ bootsteps hadn’t slowed.
Pain forgotten, Yousef’s head shot up to see the Marines already reaching the pod and buckling in. One had slipped into the pilot’s seat at its nose.
“Hey!” Yousef cried out. “Don’t leave me!”
The last man had just reached the end of the corridor. He glanced over his shoulder, and looked as if he were about to double back—but the hesitation cost him. From around the corner, a hail of slim, neon-pink crystals flew into view and embedded themselves in the man’s back, then exploded in a cloud of gore and glassy fragments.
Yousef stared in open-mouthed horror at the corpse, thrown to the bottom of the opposite wall, then noticed the next-to-last Marine doing the same from where he stood in the frame of the Bumblebee’s hatch. The man’s face had gone white with fear.
They locked eyes for just a moment, and Yousef knew calling out again would do no good. The next, the life pod’s airlock closed, and Yousef heard the reverb of its rockets blast the Bumblebee clear, putting meters of cold, empty vacuum between himself and it.
Heavy footsteps echoed from around the distant corner. His eyes locked to it, Yousef thought of the bend behind him. He could jump up, scramble behind it to safety—but it would take seconds, every one of which an alien could turn the corner, spot, and kill him with the pull of a trigger. The promise of it filling every instant of indecision, Yousef played dead, freezing where he lay with one eye upturned to watch the hallway’s end. He prayed the corpse there would be enough to fool whatever was coming.
A hulking biped strode into view, hairless purple skin showing between plates of blue armor. Its multi-jawed head sat above the top of the airlock’s door, and a sleek plasma rifle was clutched in its four-fingered hand. Yousef watched its mandibles curl to sniff the air, his eye dry and stinging as he dared not even to blink. A second creature slipped out from behind the wall, much shorter and more gangly, but just as tall as a human. Feather-like spines grew from the back of its avian, beakish-jawed head.
The tall one, mercifully, passed without a glance down Yousef’s corridor, but the slitted eyes of its companion focused on the Marine corpse, pooling blood where it lay. The alien prowled nearer, hunching, and placed its claw in the ragged hole in the body, heedless of the crimson stains made on its orange scales. The callous way it seemed to assess the body reminded Yousef of the butcher in his hometown on Aleria appraising meat.
Then the cat-like eye flicked to Yousef. He couldn’t move if he’d wanted to, now—and he desperately wanted to move. He wanted to jump up and sprint the other way down the corridor, even if all it would get him was a Needler in the back.
Then a gurgling growl sounded from beyond the corner. The creature twisted, straightened, and followed after without a look back, slipping behind the corner and passing from Yousef’s perception of the world as it did.
Yousef sucked in a breath, feeling the sweat he’d shed for the first time and marveling how the larger creature hadn’t smelled him immediately. Ahead, he could hear the blast of plasma grenades, and could guess at once what the aliens were doing—destroying the remaining escape pods to trap the humans still aboard. There was only one other way off, and that was the dropship compliment in the hangar. And the capacity of those handful of ships were far short of what the seven hundred crew of a Charon-class frigate needed to evacuate.
He weighed his options—and the escape pods just a few meters ahead weren’t among them. He couldn’t fight off the Covenant soldiers destroying them, and no one else was likely to get there soon enough. With them gone, even if the Marines managed to save the other banks of pods, they’d need the Pelicans to have any hope of getting everyone evacuated, and he was Deck Chief. They’d need him to get those ships flight-ready, which meant he had a job to do.
Reluctantly, Chief Amir turned from the nearby promise of safety and turned, unarmed, back into the uncertainty of the compromised ship’s corridors, plotting his route to the hangar bay.
Andromeda Vadum (06)
|1942 STANDARD TIME (UNSC STANDARD), 07 DEC 2551
Location: UNSC Arrow Flight
The hiss and crack of the transmission was being played throughout the ship. It was faint but still audible.
"My name Captain Julius Bruening, Captain of The Arrows Flight - we are adrift without power, with the covenant boarding this ship, I'm left no other choice, we must abandon ship."
Kyle could hear the footfalls of soldiers as they scrambled to their stations, that is until he could hear the sound of panic fill the air. He began to run towards the lockers, grabbing his helmet and a few of his prized possessions.
"No time for that! We have to go!"
He turned to see his competitor, grabbing his arm with a vice like grip. He shrugged him off and frantically grabbed the rest of his possessions.
David was agitated, pulling Kyle towards the exit and out the room, he readied his HMG-38 and followed the marines as they headed for a pair of metallic doors.
As the group of marines got in formation, a bunch of red lights began to flare up, along with a wailing noise, and when the doors final began to slowly open, the anticipation and uneasiness was filling David's stomach. When the doors were apart, crystal shards filled the room with purple, followed by blue and green bolts of energy.
Kyle could see multiple marines getting killed in what seemed like seconds. Grabbing a detonation charge and tossing in down the corridor he could see multiple casualties and a few deaths on the enemies side. He could see larger creatures in red and blue armor picking off their targets one by one. Laying down cover fire, he watched as King was spraying down the targets, trying to kill as many as he can.
"Retreat to the shuttles!" David yelled as he began to slowly fall back, laying down blind fire now.
Kyle followed David; deciding to lay cover fire with precision in order to take out the big targets first. He already came up with a plan, but was unsure if David would follow. They already were away from the fire when more targets were following from behind. Kyle was running into a room and grabbed a backpack and a few grenades. He frantically unzipped the backpack.
"Cover me! Just a minute!" He said as he threw some grenade into a separate pouch and attached a few more on his vest.
Kyle entered the firefight and quickly took cover. He threw a few grenades in hopes to buy him some time to explain his plan. As the grenades exploded, killing multiple jackals and grunts, he noticed a few elites still standing and mercilessly returning fire.
"The bumblebee's are a few meters away!" David said.
"Yeah and most of them might not be operational or stall! Or there might not be any left! If we go to the hanger, our survival rate increases because we can have help, supplies, and a lot more stuff!" Kyle replied.
Just in time more marines came to assist them. "We're here to assist, sir. Whatever you need."
David pointed towards the elites and a crowd of jackals and grunts converging on their position. "Cover us! We're all going to get in a bumblebee with the rest of the crew!" Walking backwards and checking his six he laid down more cover fire.
The team made it to a bumblebee, Kyle saw that a few already left the launch bay. He weighed his options, either die here trying to get to a hanger that was most likely destroyed or empty, or take David's advice and pile into the bumblebee with seven strangers.
With everyone inside the bumblebee, Kyle took David's hand and joined them on a journey of life or death, "We have a week David. If we don't last by the sixth day, i'll kill you myself for making such a dump decision."
The Pale Kestrl (07)
|1954 STANDARD TIME (UNSC STANDARD), 07 DEC 2551
Location: Hallways of the UNSC Arrow Flight
"We should have gone for the pods" gasped a marine as the group pounded down one of the Arrow Flights corridors. They had already run into three covenant kill groups and already the rag tag squad was looking like a band of men walking to their deaths.
At the front of the group Flight Officer Fletcher O'Hara tried to keep a cool head. Inside he was having the same internal battle that the others behind him were having, to turn back for the sure safety of an easy escape pod or to keep moving forward and brave the uncertainty of the ship in the hopes of making it to the hanger.
Looking down at the pistol he gripped in unsure hands he tried again to steel his soul against thoughts of turning back. He was a pilot first and he didn't much like the idea of being stuck in a metal cylinder to be blasted apart by a Seraph. No, if he was going to die then he was going to do it where he was at his best. And at least if he was in a Pelican he could dodge a few shots.
"If you wanna turn back you can" replied Fletcher, keeping his eyes forward "But I'd rather be in a bird that can take off again"
No one replied which Fletcher was silently thankful for, he was lucky enough to have dragged these guys along so far and didn't relish the idea of taking this trip on his own. He shrugged off the images of covenant needles digging into his flesh, trying instead to picture his Pelican's cockpit. The smoothness of the controls in his sure grip. Yes, that was where they were headed.
So they ran on. Down corridors of blinking red lights and up dark stairwells. Around them the ship echoed with the sounds of death, screams of the dying rolling through corridors like their spirits were trapped in the metal of the ship they had died in. Fletcher tried to block them out, focus on his ship. His salvation.
After what felt like an eternity of running through the ship they were just a minute away from the hanger. Fletcher could almost smell the sweet scent of fuel from the drop ship's thrusters. But then one of the marines at the back yelled out a warning and it all went to ruin.
"Contact rear!" shouted a marine as he spun around the fired back down the corridor they had just passed through.
Fletcher never saw what happened to that marine, he was suddenly tackled to the ground and forced behind the safety of a bulkhead. Looking back he saw a torrent of plasma fire, blue and green bolts of energy that zipped across his eyes like will o wisps. Next to him the marine sergeant was kneeling by the bulkhead, his assault rifle firing a staccato of bullets back down the corridor.
"Get to the hanger and get that bird operational" shouted the sergeant, his voice somehow overpowering the noise of battle not a few feet in front of him "I didn't drag my men on this god forsaken trip just to have us all die here."
Fletcher didn't wait to reply, not even to thank the man who may well be selling his life for his own. Ahead of him was the door to the hanger, oddly calm in comparison to the corridor he was now trapped in. Waiting to pick his moment Fletcher bolted from his hiding place and dove into the hanger.
Not taking in the rest of the hanger Fletcher focused his eyes on a Pelican situated about twenty meters from him. It was still black marked and scared from his last mission run and he prayed that also meant it was still ready to fly.
Behind him he could still here the marines fighting it out with the on coming covenant. At least he'd got his wish. Chances are he was going to die in that Pelican before it even made it out of the hanger.
The human's head slammed into the metal wall of its simple ship, the weak skull below its soft flesh splintered. Tal let go of the corpse, letting it slip to the floor. He moved onward scanning the open room for a sign of another unfortunate victim to kill. Around him the rest of the Black Lance carried out the same sentence.
They surged through the room, moving between the tables and chairs like predators seeking prey. It was the first time the Lance had been let off the leash in a few cycles and they were out for blood. Behind them paced their Warden, Tharkis. A fearsome Splinter Rifle gripped in his meaty fists he paced after the Lance, ever keeping them in his sight.
Tal stopped by a door, sniffing the air like a hound zeroing in on its target. He smelled sweat and the sweet taste of fear. His mandibles bunched up in a smile, prey. He moved into the dark little hideaway, eyes open for movement. He caught a glimpse of something, a glint of light off something shiny. It glimmered at him from inside a box, the door open just a bit.
Tal wrenched the door from its hinges with little effort, casting it to the side he looked inside to find a human. It had a gun raised, a tiny pitiful weapon. The human roared a wordless outcry of anger and begun to fire, the tiny rounds impacted Tal's shields and sent shimmers across his armour. By the time he had finished firing the massive Sangheili's shields had nearly dropped halfway.
Tal huffed and grabbed the little creature by his throat, to its credit the human struggled in Tal's iron grip as it tried to pry one of Tal's fingers from its throat. Walking back to the main room Tal called to his fellow reprobates.
"I've found a live one, seems to have a bit of spirit left in him"
As Tal walked back into the room some of the Lance turned from their pursuit to see his prize. Two Kig-yar slithered over to examine it, poking and hissing at the human as he bucked in Tal's grip.
Without a word Tal threw the human into the centre of the room, a metallic bang resounded across the room as the human collided with a metal column. The two Kig-Yar pressed in early, clearly looking to have some fun with this unfortunate.
As the scavengers closed in a large super heated spike suddenly shot across the room to embed itself in the human's chest. Tharkis suddenly shouldered his way past Tal and glared at the Kig-Yar.
"We aren't here for sport. Go."
The two criminals slunk off to find other humans. Tharkis turned to Tal and glared at him, a glare that Tal returned.
"Move forward reprobate, we are moving to the hanger"
Tal huffed back at Tharkis and moved forward.
Timothy Emeigh (08)
|1955 STANDARD TIME (UNSC STANDARD), 07 DEC 2551
Location: Hallways outside Cryobay 04 aboard the UNSC Arrow Flight
A small detonation echoed down the corridor of the ship as the shape charge blasted a hole through the previously sealed door. Sighting down the hallway, thermal activated, Sasha spotted a cluster of cold spots in the hallway, grouped around warmer areas. Moving her reticle to cover the closest of the surprised group of Grunts and Jackals, she squeezed the trigger, sending a quick three round burst through it's body, dropping the alien. As she heard the gunfire around her from the Marines, Sasha moved to the next target, killing it in the same manner as the first. The combined firepower of the group and the surprise of the blast through the door, the shrapnel of which had killed a fair portion of the aliens before the shooting even started, quickly cleared the hall of the invaders. Motioning to run into the hallway, Sasha followed quickly behind the leading two marines, covering the front of the group, leaving two others behind the flight officers and pilots, who themselves were armed with pistols and awkwardly fitting armor.
Meeting relatively little resistance as they made their way down the short stretch of corridor, through the various bulkheads, the group quickly made their way to the hangar. Rounding the corner, Sasha barely ducked back into cover as a blue blast of plasma screamed past her face, sending a heat over it even from a few feet away.
[ LCDR. Zaytseva ] "Contact! Covenant around the corner, looks like Marines as well. Flight crews, you're getting to the hangar. Get fuel, supplies, weapons onto those birds. I'll be right behind you. Marines..."
Sasha paused to look at the Sergeant in command of the small fireteam of marines that were with the group, getting a nod, confirming that the Marines would do what they enlisted to do.
[ LCDR. Zaytseva ] "...Give 'em hell. Clear the corridor, but don't die trying. Hold as long as possible to keep the path to the hangar clear for evacuation, but if you need to fall back, get into the hangar. There's some cover in there, and the Pelicans' guns will provide support, once we get them up and running."
With that, the Sergeant turned, barking and order to the other three marines behind him, before rushing between cover to join the team already in the hallway in defending the entrance to the hangar. Popping around the corner, Sasha opened fire with her BR, covering the flight crews as they dove into the hangar, before doing so herself. As the door closed behind her, Sasha looked around, spotting an IFF tag in one of the Pelicans. A Flight Officer F. O'Hara. Running to her bird, she climbed into the cockpit, sitting down next to her copilot and started the checks, plugging her helmet into the console to connect the keyboard on the Pelican to the helmet built in comm system. She turned to her copilot.
[ LCDR. Zaytseva ] "Complete the checks, I'm getting a message out. Make sure you get those guns working."
Sasha turned back to the console, tapping away at the Pelican's keyboard, typing out a few text-only messages. She sent one directly to O'Hara's bird, before typing one for the crew left on the ship.
'O'Hara. You've got a flight crew again. Get your bird up and running, guns first. We're no use in the evacuation if we leave before we have to. I'm calling anyone who's cut off from the bumblebees here, so we'll be keeping the route open.'
As she hit send, Sasha hoped that this O'Hara understood his duty enough to stay as long as possible. If any one of the Pelicans left early, that would be that many more people left behind. She started tapping out the message to the rest of the crew, hoping enough Marines were left that they could spread the word as it arrived on the helmets' HUD's.
'Crew and Passengers of the Arrow's Flight. A group of Marines is holding the port corridor to the hangar clear, and we've got birds powering up to take people who need to be evacuated. If you're cut off from the escape pods, but can make it here, we'll be waiting. Supplies, fuel, and weapons are being loaded. Good luck.'
With that, Sasha tapped send, returning to her checks. Seeing the gun controls up and running, she grabbed the control stick, aiming the nose gun on the dropship towards the hangar door. Seeing the Marines backing into the hangar, and plasma quickly following, Sasha waited, gently closing her finger on the trigger, ready to fire should any Covenant swarm in.
|2001 STANDARD TIME (UNSC STANDARD), 07 DEC 2551
Location: Flight Deck Ops Room aboard the UNSC Arrow Flight
Yousef had managed to avoid the thunder of rifles and slash of plasma fire with long and often claustrophobic detours, squeezing through dark maintenance accesses with his breath held as the chirps and grunts of Covenant boarding parties reached him from the other side of very thin wall panels. But as he neared the hangar, firefights sprang up in every corridor, until he was forced to dash through a hail of deadly shots to at last reach the flight deck ops room.
Stumbling through an open bulkhead, he threw the door shut behind him, sealing out the flashes of the battle behind to leave him in the darkness of a long, narrow room. The control center for the Arrow Flight’s hangar didn't feel nearly as cramped as it was, thanks to the wall made up of sloped windows looking down on the hangar floor, two stories below. Yousef could see the fighting had already spread there, as Marines fell back from a hasty defense of an entry corridor. As they scrambled to take up cover, the nose gun of a berthed Pelican suddenly sprang to life, a withering cone of lead spraying down the entryway to shred steel plate and advancing alien soldiers alike. It would need someone to get Arrow Flight’s doors open.
He turned his attention up to the dashboard controls to find a pair of ensigns standing anxiously over them, staring wide-eyed like deer at the Chief Petty Officer instead of coordinating the evacuation.
"Hey!" Yousef barked, snapping them into attention the way only an angry superior could. "Where's the flight ops manager?"
"Splattered all over the wall in compartment C12, sir," one of them answered. Her eyes didn't quite meet his, unfocused and distant as she recalled the sight. Yousef couldn't let either of them think about it now.
"Alright. I'm taking over." he stated, and got no argument out of either junior officer. He pushed past the closer to lead the woman to a chair. "Get the airlock ready to open, my authorization. Do we have a com line?"
"Here, sir," answered the other. Yousef turned, accepted the headset, and slipped it over his head while surveying the hangar below.
Only eight of the Charon-class frigate's berths for Pelican dropships were filled, part of its complement lost during the battle they'd fled from, and the Arrow Flight had never carried Albatrosses in the years Yousef had been aboard. Given what he could see of the fighting, it might be enough to evacuate the passengers and crew who'd converged on the hangar, but they'd have to act fast. Fortunately, it seemed like pilots and crew had already started boarding and running flight checks on their birds.
Unfortunately, there was an unavoidable bottleneck: human ships didn't have the Covenant's energy barriers, so deploying ships usually meant depressurizing the whole hangar. But with Marines fresh out of cryo engaged all across it, they'd have to use the vehicle airlock at the hangar's aft, which could only launch one Pelican at a time.
Resigned to his task nonetheless, Yousef keyed the headset's speaker as the ensign gave him a thumbs-up, patched into the pilots' line.
"Attention all Pelicans, this is Flight Dispatch. Activate ship IFF transponders and standby to disembark."
Control screens flickered to life immediately, displaying line after line of text identifying pilots, dropships, and their supply levels as each ship checked in. Yousef knew most of the names from both the alert and reserve pilot lists, and wondered how many of the primary pilots hadn't reached the hangar--or never would. Yet, he set it aside and took the data in with one glance.
"Alright... Pelicans, standby for new designations. We'll have to use the shuttle airlock, so you'll go in sequence on my mark. Zaytseva, designating you Alpha Zero-Zero-One. O'Hara, Alpha Zero-Zero-Two." Yousef repeated the process for the other half-dozen names, up to Alpha-008, and took a momentary pause, analyzing the list. He had to decide who went first, and logically, it was fastest to send whatever ship was readied first. But sitting and waiting would take nerves made of something stronger than even most Pelican jockeys had, and Yousef had to consider their ability to stay calm. With a deep breath, he made his call. "Alpha Zero-Zero-Seven, you'll be the first out, once you've reached crew capacity. Zaytseva, your berth gives you the best position to cover, so you're out last, copy?"
Instead of a verbal acknowledgement, a burst of text scrolled across Yousef's screen: Set for the long haul, Dispatch.
Satisfied, Yousef muted the headset and glanced to the ensign who'd handed it to him. "Can you get me those Marines?"
Nodding shakily, the ensign adjusted the frequency feeding to him, and patched him in to a non-com starting to take command of the makeshift defense being rallied. "Master Sergeant, I'm setting a waypoint on Pelican Alpha Zero-Zero-Seven. That's our first bus out of here, I need you to start falling back your people in sets until each fills up, over."
The gruff voice of a soldier answered him. "Copy that, Dispatch. Don't you keep us waiting long!"
With a second's hesitation, Yousef added, "Anyone have eyes on the Captain, yet?"
"Not us so far, Dispatch, but we'll keep you posted. Over and out."
With the transmission clear, Yousef had the ensign transfer him back to the dropships' line, just in time to release Alpha 007 from its docking clamp. Each Pelican was hung from a hydraulic lock, with a rail system which could maneuver them carefully into the recessed berths just barely large enough for each one. The other young officer took control of the crane, carefully shifting Alpha 007 onto the main deck, then rotating it so its open boarding ramp faced the defending Marines' backs, and its nose faced the aft airlock. Then, with a button press, the clamp released, and Alpha 007 caught itself on already-ignited thrusters to gently touch down and await passengers.
Crewmen and Marines alike rushed to the safety of the waiting dropship, even as Yousef noticed several of the deckhands of his own crew rush away from it, moving to ensure the next bird was fueled up and its guns loaded. He let a brief rush of pride steel his chest against the fear he himself felt. He'd need it. He'd be staying even longer than most of them.
"Dispatch, Alpha-Five here," one of the dropship pilots reported, "I'm stuck here half-done loading supplies. Shouldn't Seven be carrying a little of this?"
Yousef caught a tremble in the pilot's voice. Jumpy, afraid, and jealous as he watched Alpha 007 finish boarding and take off, slipping gently into the shuttle airlock. The ensign at Yousef's side hit its release, and the interior doors rolled closed to seal the lock. Normally, they'd take time to depressurize the lock and conserve air, but the Arrow Flight wouldn't need it much longer anyway. Yousef let the ensign handle overriding the exterior release and devoted his attention to the pilot.
"Negative, Five, not enough time to get all the camping gear together. Take what you've already got loaded, but leave the rest. Alpha Zero-Zero-Six, you're up next."
As the next dropship's own automated rail tram began ferrying it out to the landing pad, a bright green blob streaked out through the doorway Zaytseva's chaingun was covering--a fuel rod shot. The cannon round, miraculously, missed the suspended Pelican and slammed into the wall. It just so happened, however, this was the wall in front of Alpha-005.
"Fuck this!" the pilot shouted, "I've got supplies and my flight crew. I'm full up and getting out of here!"
"Hold it, Five!" Yousef shouted, even as the connection buzzed and died. Looking frantically at the controls, Yousef looked for the control to lock down the docking clamp, but too late. Red advisory warnings alerted him the Pelican had already engaged its docking override and broken free. All Yousef could do was glance up and watch the disaster happen.
Just as Alpha-006 set down and began taking on passengers, -005 made a haphazard, clumsy attempt to escape from its berth, wings scraping and rebounding the ship from one wall to the other. The last hit came too hard, and at the wrong moment. The pilot overcorrected, dipped its nose--and ploughed right into its fellow vessel. Both Pelicans crumpled, 005's cockpit disappearing as reinforced glass sprayed like blood from a broken nose. It crashed heavily to the deck, belching thick, black smoke. Tongues of flame began to sprout from both ships, and the frightened ensigns at least had enough presence of mind to engage emergency fire control systems, venting the haze out as fast as they could manage.
Yousef would've cussed out the dead pilot if he'd had a second to spare. As if the loss of the Pelicans wasn't bad enough, their wrecks were now preventing any of the other five dropships from coming forward on their cranes. The delay would mean lives.
Seizing the headset tightly, Yousef switched to an open channel for pilots and Marines alike. "Attention all hands, we need that flight deck cleared! Get those fires out, drag them clear, something! And see if anyone survived inside if possible!"
While the chaos of the evacuation was going, several figures stalked through the hallways in a far corners of the ship, their claws itching for blood.
The Hunt had begun.
The Zealot placed one hand on the doorway, prying it open. Inside, he peered through the dim light. Several flashlights shined in his face, and he raised a hand. There came screaming, and he began to make out the small, lean figures running around, panicking as they did. He activated his sword, glowing blue. Before him, he could see several faces, terrified and confused, as far as he could discern. He snorted. Typical for humans. His brothers in arms moved to take place behind him, drawing their swords and rifles. From his side, he heard several guns being drawn on him. A squawking voice came through his COM.
“Ten armed….40 unarmed…it would be too easy.”
He turned his head slightly, seeing the hunchbacked figure in the doorway they came through, staring through a pair of purple goggles at the room.The Zealot knew that Juk could see straight through him with those things. He didn't like it.
The Elites stood in front of the gathered crowd, seemingly waiting for a response. The humans didn't move, apparently thinking that if they stayed still long enough, they would become invisible. The Zealot snorted in amusement at the thought. But he had had enough of waiting. He had Spartans to hunt. He activated his sword, raising it. His men moved to do the same. The few armed men in the room readied to fire.
“Wait!” A man moved forward, holding his hands out. From what the Zealot could tell, he was thinner and more scraggly than the rest. An elderly. The fact that so many humans lived and rotted away on their feet instead of dying in battle disgusted him. The man spoke.
“Most of us aren't armed. We have…wounded, women, children here….running from the planet you burned. We're without a home or a people, and we're scared and defenseless...you’ve already taken everything from us. Tell me, where is the honor in killing us?” We are dead to the galaxy.
The Elite snorted, waiting for several moments. The room hung silent, and everyone held their breath, waiting and praying. A child's whimper broke the silence, but his mother silenced him. Through the COM, Juk spoke again.
“No Demons...just more of them...the few survivors from the world we glassed…”
Survivors. The Zealot couldn't allow that. He spoke.
“There is no pride in stomping out rats, but you can still take pleasure in it.”
The man's eyes went wide, and he held out his hands. “Wait, no-!”
The Elite drove his sword through the man's gut and lifted him upwards, letting him slide down. He watched the life seep from his eyes and laughed.
His men waded into the crowd, tearing through them with swords and plasma. Screams overtook the room, soon replaced by gunfire. The Zealot laughed as the bullets bounced harmlessly off of his shields, and he peeled the man's body off the sword, tossing it to the ground. He waded back into the crowd, slashing through flesh and bone. After several moments, nothing was left but smoldering hunks of flesh. Silence took the room once again.
The colony’s legacy had been extinguished.
The Zealot motioned for his men to leave, shaking bits of gore off of him.
“We won’t be caught in the crash, or vaporized if the humans reach their reactors. It is time to leave. Message Tal and tell him and his men to abandon ship. We’ll need them for the hunt when it reaches the Installation. We’ll track whatever survivors flee to it, kill them there. Maybe I shall get another chance with their leader…”
His men nodded and stepped out of the piles melted flesh, walking for the exit. Juk hobbled sideways to let them pass. As the Zealot followed them. Juk extended an elongated, deformed claw to him as he passed.
“Sir, what about...the rest of...the men?”
The Zealot snorted derisively, and stopped walking. “They get an honor that they goes have yet denied us...to die in the glorious fires of the hunt. You may join them if you wish.”
The Zealot began to walk forward once again, and grinned silently to himself as he heard the uneven steps and pained gasps of the deformed Jackal as it rushed to catch up with him.
|2006 STANDARD TIME (UNSC STANDARD), 07 DEC 2551
Location: Arrow Flight's mess hall, en route to the reactors
This is suicide.
Amelia Hope and Jet Thompson, two of the three remaining ODSTs of their squad, were on their way to the ship's reactors. They were to assist a Spartan, Harald, in scuttling the ship to prevent it from falling into Covenant hands. Only problem, they don't know how long they'll have to escape after they set the reactors to explode.
We could have only a few minutes to escape, or even just seconds.
The corporal looked back at Jet, and through his unpolarized visor Jet's expression indicated that he was thinking the same thing. Now that Amelia was the new squad leader, she had to worry about their next move. If she didn't, then another squadmate could die.
The group was stopped in their tracks as two elites came through the doorway opposite of them, weapons firing. Their shots impacted the Spartan, but his shielding was able to withstand them as he flipped a table to use as cover. Amelia and Jet slid behind the table as two more split-jaws and a trio of jackals entered through the door behind them.
They were surrounded.
"Spartan, Jet and I will cover your rear while you handle those two dinos." Amelia pointed in the general direction of the first pair of elites, still pinning them with plasma. "Sound good?"
Before Harald could respond, two more doors to their right burst open to reveal a pair of hunters. Before Amelia could even register what just happened, Harald had already stood up and engaged them.
Amelia looked around for better cover, and noticed the serving bars to their left. She nudged Jet, who was still fixated on the hunters, and pointed to the bars. Jet nodded, and they sprinted towards them. Amelia vaulted over one, using a chair to gain height, and Jet followed with a dive.
She popped her head out from around the side and opened fire on the jackals. She could see on her HUD that Jet had engaged the elites opposite, and she assumed that Harald was still occupied with the hulking colonies of worms. Why the Covenant would send such powerful assets to board their ship was beyond her. Don't they know that we're gonna crash?
She lifted herself from behind cover, laying a hail of bullets at the elite minors, killing one of them. Then she caught a green glint out of the corner of her eye.
What the he'll is that? The mess hall shook violently as the fuel rod directly impacted an elite, snapping his shields instantly and melting various parts of him to the bone.
I didn't know those things could miss so badly. She turned her attentions to Harald, who was standing on top of one of the hunter's corpses. She called to Jet, "Well, that's one down."
"I've seen a Spartan fight before, but not up close. Did I ever tell you that?" Jet had already finished clearing his side now, and turned towards the chickens that Amelia hadn't killed yet.
"And I guess Isaac seen one too. You guys are always with each other." Amelia managed to get one of her shots to miss a jackal's shield and hit it in the eye. "But that has it's benefits. If I find one of you, I find both. Where is Isaac anyway?"
Before Jet could answer, Harald came crashing into the serving bar the two of them were using for cover; His shields snapped completely as he rolled to the floor. Amelia and Jet fell backwards on the floor from the enormous impact Harald created; Nothing either of them weren't used to. Amelia, stunned, shuffled to her feet in time to see Harald roll out of the way of a thunderous blow from the Hunter's two ton shield.
"Fuck!" Jet yelled as he picked his gun back up. "Amelia, you help Harald, I'll deal with the crows."
[ CPL. Hope ] "Too scared?"
[ LCPL. Thompson ] "Very funny."
Harald used a table to pull himself back up, bending it in the process. Amelia was glad she didn't offer to help him up, valuing her arm. The hunter swung its free arm towards Amelia as she slid behind the table. Its swing missed, although the momentum managed to free its shield from the bar. She stood back up and opened fire, her shots only keeping the hunter distracted so Jet can move.
While the Hunter was distracted, Jet laid a burst of fire down on both of the jackals; killing one as the bullets managed to avoid its shield.
Harald took the advantage and mounted the Hunter, his rifle was gone but he had managed to salvage a grenade. He pulled the pin and shoved the grenade into the exposed orange worms in the hunter's back, but he was thrown backwards onto another table, breaking it in half.
As the hunter exploded, Amelia could see that Jet had grabbed the last jackal by the head and snapped its neck. She spotted Harald's gun on the ground, next to what was left of the serving bar.
[ CPL. Hope ] "Spartan, I think you dropped something. This yours?"
She picked up the gun and tossed it to the Spartan, who caught it out of the air.
"Let's keep moving, we don't have much time." Jet said as he reloaded his rifle. He pointed in the direction of the reactors. "I'll take point. Amelia, you okay being in the back?"
[ CPL. Hope ] "Just don't run into anymore ambushes, and I'll be fine."
“93 bottles of beer on the wall, 93 bottles of beer, take one down, pass it around, 92 bottles of beer on the wall!”
The chorus paused as Ariana put the bottle to her lips and chugged, tilting her head back. A round of cheers went up from the various drinkers. She threw the bottle over the bar, where the bartender caught it before it smashed against the wall, chuckling. Ariana pulled her stool out, climbing on top. She wobbled at first, feeling the full extent of her inebriation, and the stool wobbled beneath her, as she felt the legs threaten to tip and push her into the waiting crowd. They gasped slightly and some held their hands out as if to catch her, but she held her arms out, stabilizing herself. Her head stopped its incessant spinning and she stood still, staring out at the waiting crowd. She spoke, loud and booming, although her state bled through into her words quite a bit, and she resisted the urge to start laughing at herself.
“17 years! THAT is how long we’ve -*BURP*- kept this community going. 17 fucking years!”
The crowd cheered again.
“And….and as your Governor, I can say, from the bottom of my heart, I am SO fucking proud of you. I have watched all of you turn this place from an alien hellhole into a place where we can grow crops, make goods, build towns, and let our children play, free from the Oonskies and their goddamned wars. We have lived, we have thrived, we have prospered on Gotha. And -*hic*- it would not be possible if not for you wonderful-*hic*-people.”
The crowd began to jeer her, obviously not believing her to be sincere. That wouldn’t do.
“Listen-Listen, motherfuckers, I am serious here! I’ve watched you people scratch a life out of the dirt, and even if I’m harsh on you sometimes, do-don’t think I’m ever not proud of you for it. You know what, fuck it, I am blessed.”
The crowd devolved into a mixture of light jeers and cheers.
“Yes, I am blessed to be the Governor of Gotha! Sure, we may have come here as a group of drunken cowards and whatnot, but now….” She laughed. “...now we’re a bunch of drunken pioneers!”
“And I am fucking blessed to have seen it. I am blessed to have led it, to have watched our children grow, play, start their own lives with the sweat of their brow, rather than be raised under a facist grip and then sent to die. I know….I know life can seem hard here sometimes, but just...look into their faces, and remember that it’s worth it.”
The crowd paused for a moment, becoming silent, and then raised their glasses, starting a chorus of “Hear”. Ariana nodded, feeling proud. She outstretched a wobbly hand and pointed it out to the end of the crowd, towards a man sitting near the back, sipping a bottle in the corner, seemingly only paying slight attention to her speech.
“And I am especially thankful for you.”
The crowd turned to look at the man, and he half-heartedly feigned confusion.
“You, Sheriff Clarent, the one who has kept us warm and safe all these years, and under whose shelter we have prospered.”
There was definitely a mocking tone in her voice, but it wasn’t malicious. The man raised his hands, accepting the praise, and then fired back.
“Oh, but I’m nothing without your ever-present guidance, Governor Clarent.”
The crowd erupted into jeers and mock “awws” once again, and Ariana laughed. He was always quiet, but after 16 years with him, she knew better than to assume he couldn’t snark. Several men, which Ariana recognized as his deputies, walked over to him and started patting him on the back and making all manner of “henpecked” jokes at his expense. She smiled at the sight, and decided to give a final word.
“So drink up, you lousy ingrates! To 17 years, and to 17 mor-”
Ariana looked to the source of the voice that had cut her off, feeling rather annoyed. Even in the middle of uncharted space, she couldn’t escape hecklers.
She found it. In the doorway to the pub stood a boy. The local runner, a teenager by the name of Ricardo. That was strange, he had always been polite towards her.
“Ricardo, we’re kind of-”
He held his hand up to cut her off, and stooped over to catch his breath. Ariana stood on the stool looking like an idiot, and the crowd began to quiet down as the looked between the pair, trying to understand what was transpiring.
“Ricardo, what’s going on-”
Dead silence. Everyone in the pub was staring at the boy.
Ariana searched for a response, thinking to herself “Please, God, tell me he’s pulling some sort of dumb prank.”
But Ariana could see in his his drained, frightened face that he was telling the truth. She needed more.
“What do you mean?”
Ricardo took a deep breath, picking himself up to speak.
“Sensors picked up….a UNSC frigate….heading straight for the planet...could collide any minute…”
The crowd began to murmur, working itself up, saying what Ariana was already thinking. So the UNSC had finally found them, had they? Hell, it was bound to happen sooner or later, why not right now? Ariana pushed the sinking feeling she had down into her gut and prepared to give the full alert order. But the boy wasn’t done.
She’d had enough of this.
“Spit it out, then!”
“Behind the frigate, there was...something bigger. Something weird, following it down. A lot bigger, ma’am.”
Ariana felt the color drain from her face. She looked to her husband. He nodded, understanding, and he and his deputies moved forward, pushing towards the door. The crowd was in a frenzy now, all trying to make sense of the situation. There was only one route left at this point- Ariana decided to take it.
“Everyone to their stations! We’ve all drilled this before! This isn’t going to be the end of us! Code Red, people!”
The crowd began to flush out of the bar, frantic and scared.
Nothing to do now but wait. Ariana hoped it wouldn’t be too long.
Timothy Emeigh (13)
|2004 STANDARD TIME (UNSC STANDARD), 07 DEC 2551
Location: Arrow Flight's Hangar Bay
Zaytseva tapped at her console, sending her acknowledgement to the control bay: 'Set for the long haul, Dispatch.'
She'd just been told she'd be the last one out. She was in the best position to cover the doorway into the hangar. Her hand gripped the chaingun controls in front of her, the silver of her cybernetic left hand contrasting the white knuckles of her right. While she didn't show it to her copilot, being the last to leave certainly gave her a certain amount of anxiety, even with the years of experience in both the Marines and Navy. No matter.
The Covenant forces started running through the door again, and Sasha's focus immediately shifted to them, rather than her twitching right leg. Swinging her reticle over the heads of the Marines holding their ground, she focused her sights on the aliens streaming through the door, squeezing the trigger, sending waves of lead back out towards the boarding party, once again deterring a full on assault into the hangar. She briefly caught sight of the Marines loading the Pelican farthest from her, before she heard the sound and felt the vibration of ship as Pelican Alpha-007 started its engines, heading for the airlock.
Quickly returning her attention to the door, Zaytseva cursed under her breath that she'd let herself get distracted, rather than covering the door. Spinning up her guns again, she squeezed the trigger down, filling the aliens that'd shown up in the entryway to the hangar, tearing through them. However, having focused on the larger Elite leading the group first, an Unggoy, wielding a weapon almost as large as it was, had managed to sneak under her fire. As she focused her attention onto the panicking alien, she saw it shoulder the weapon. Pulling the trigger again, waves of lead streaked towards the creature, but not before a green blob of energy left the muzzle of the Grunt's oversized weapon, arching through the air towards Alpha-006 as it slid along its rail. Cursing louder, this time, drawing the attention of her copilot, she kept her eyes flicking between the door and the green blob of energy. However, catching another wave of aliens rushing the door, Sasha turned her attention back to her defense, grimacing as she heard the explosion of the fuel rod shot, but not willing to risk another look away from the door.
It wasn't until she heard Alpha-005's voice over the comms, followed by the creaking and groaning of a breaking docking clamp, that she suspected something had happened, shortly confirmed thereafter by another shaking explosion through the hangar and Yousef's voice through the comms.
[ CPO Amir ] "Attention all hands, we need that flight deck cleared! Get those fires out, drag them clear, something! And see if anyone survived inside if possible!"
Cursing again, Sasha looked to her copilot.
[ LCDR. Zaytseva ] "Take the guns, I'm getting on the comms. Sounds like they need some help out there."
She looked back to her console as her copilot gave her a nod and took over the guns. Thumbing the comms, she spoke into her headset, her Russian accent streaming out over the PA system and helmet comms in the hangar bay.
[ LCDR. Zaytseva ] "Okay, pilots, marines, this is Lieutenant Commander Zaytseva. We've got a wreck to clear up, and not much time to do it. With the fact that the we're even abandoning ship to begin with, that the power's out, and that there are alien's swarming the ship, it seems we're going to be crashing sometime in the very near future. With that said, I'm going to give three minutes to get that wreck clear if we want to be able to cycle out the remaining four Pelicans before all of us are dead.
So, this is how it's going to go. When this call is over, I'll put three minutes on the mission clock. When the countdown reaches one minute, anyone not in a vacuum suit best start heading to the Pelicans. Once the timer's out, anyone left will either maglock, get on the Pelicans, or already be there, assuming the wreck is clear.
Chief, assuming you're listening, once the timer's out, we'll either be in luck, and have the wreck cleared and leave your way, or we'll get everyone locked down magnetically in V-Suits, or in the Pelicans, and we'll have to use the main exit. Depressurize the hangar and leave the main way. I'll get the rear of my bird to the control center so you can hop on once you've got the countdown to depressurization started, assuming we go that route. If we don't do this, everyone left on the ship is screwed, so get to work."
With that, Sasha clicked off her transmitter, still listening in for the response, but activating the mission timer on the working display screens throughout the ship, and any connected helmet feed throughout the system. Looking out over the hangar bay, she smiled as she saw marines and deck crew running to take care of the fire and wrecks as her copilot fires away at the doorway.
|2007 STANDARD TIME (UNSC STANDARD), 07 DEC 2551|
Mission Timer: 2:43 Seconds Remaining
Location: Hallways just outside of Arrow Flight's Hangar Bay
Mike looked at the horrible sight that was the corridor he and his men and just cleaned of hostile Covenants. There were multitudes of different colored blood decorating the metal walls as well as bullet holes and scorch marks from plasma based weaponry. Turning his grace back on the few people that were still able to stand he counted at least four of his troops had died in the battle as well as two others critically wounded from either crystal shards into deep in their flesh to be removed safely for now or third-degree burns from the insanely hot plasma.
He signed to himself at having lost even more men, some of them even close friends, but added on a more somber note that none of the non-combat crew in his group had been hurt, his men had done their job well even if it had cost them their lives. He had put those who were shaken from the battle to gather the ammunition and weapons from the fall as well as retrieve some of the fallen covenant soldiers equipment, especially the Jackals Energy Gauntlets and whatever plasma grenades there were around were to be looted and distributed among the soldiers for extra defense.
Mike adjusted his own gauntlet on his left arm a bit before he drew his magnum and beckoned for his group to get up and moving. As they ran for the hanger, the battle having taken longer than Mike had hoped and thrown caution out the window, so they wouldn't be abandoned on the Arrow with no way off it.
Mike pressed his right-hand index finger to the side of his helmet, pressing the tiny button, that opened for his COM to the same frequency that Dispatch and the pilots had used. The sounds heavy machinegun fire was ringing louder and louder through the corridors as they advanced on the doorway to the hanger.
"This is Master Sergeant Mike Sanders, I got my squad of eight marines along with eleven maintenance crew members and engineers with me. We'll be there in a minute." He almost yelled, trying to overcome the noise of the fighting ahead.
With a few hand signals over his back he commanded his eight remaining marines to form a reversed V formation at the front of the group. Turning a corner he was meet with the sight of a three-way junction. The wall to the hanger was constantly being sprayed with lead and the occasional colored sprays of alien blood.
Looks like someone is eager to hand out some serious pain in there, thought Mike to himself as he saw what must have been the shredded remains of an Elite's bloody guts and fleshy bits fly against the complete destroyed wall. Mike once again pressed the button on his helmet and tried not to raise his voice too loud over the screaming volleys of death.
"Sanders here. We're just around the corner to the hanger. We'll roast the aliens' asses from the rear, so watch your fire over?"
Sanders pushed himself up to the wall again near the corner and retrieved a small mirror from one of his pockets. While his tactical Eyepiece covering his left eye allowed him to see all friendly IFFs in a radius of around twenty meters it didn't have any motion tracker and so he had learned to rely on simpler tools to get the edge over his enemies. Slowly his angled the small piece of glass around the corner, getting a clear view of the many aliens, making a mental note that one of the Elites had a Full Rod gun over his shoulder, with a that had taken cover up against the walls to avoid getting torn to shreds by a Pelican's chaingun.
"This Pelican Alpha-001, we read you loud and clear Sergeant. Switching to burst fire." Mike guessed that it was Zaytseva's co-pilot since it hadn't been her who had responded. He then turned around to face his men.
"Alright men, this is it. We'll give those alien suckers one hell of a surprise." He turned to address his fellow marines.
"we'll cover the engineers and the maintenance crew so they can see about getting that down pelican out of the way while we help hold off the covies." His men nodded their heads, some with more resolve and determination than others.
Mike turn around yet again, counted down from three, and then charges around it, energy shield held high and his Magnum blazing at the nearest ugly alien in sight. His marines were right behind him, their own weapons firing at the unsuspecting aliens. Before the Covenant forces even had time to realize what had hit them they had already lost around a dozen, only the large Elites seemed untouched due to their powerful energy shields.
Holstering his sidearm, Mike primed a plasma grenade before throwing it at the Elite with the fuel rod gun. The large alien, however, reacted almost on instinct and threw itself out of the grenade's path. This, however, had forced it out of its cover and had now become easy pray for Alpha-007's chaingun which quickly turned towards the exposed alien and let out a burst of fire that tore the unlucky alien apart and blood and bones spraying everywhere.
Ignoring the pools of blood that hit him all over his front side, Mike deactivated his energy gauntlet at drew his assault rifle.
"Get into the hanger now!" he yelled at his group as the engineers rushed past him and through the makeshift barriers the marines inside the hanger had hastily set up. He turned around just in time to see the final Elite being brought down by the combined fire of four of his marines that peppered it with autofire until it stacked backward and into the open only to be turned into a mix of fine and crude mist from the chaingun just like so many other of its brethren had been.
Allowing himself a moment to relax, taking a few deep breaths to calm his anxious nerves. He then steeled himself, focusing on the tasks ahead. There might be more Covenants on their way here and maybe in greater numbers than what they had just dealt with.
"Men, take as many supplies as you can and get them on the birds." He yelled as his walked at a fast phase towards the barriers in front of the doorway. "when you're done, form up with the defense line, hand out spare ammo to those who need it. We'll leave when dispatch or a bird orders us to leave, understood" He received a round of "Hooah!" from his men.
He jumped over the crude barricades and gave a "thumbs up" and a smile to the pilots in the hovering Pelican that still aimed its chaingun down the hallway leading into the hanger. He then turned to see how the engineers he had brought with him quickly got to work with either fire extinguishers or try to assist a Scorpion main battle tank in pulling the two wrecks away and into the hanger's motor pool. Mike had little to to speculate over why they were using a freak tank to that when it could have probably done more with supporting the defense lines with its powerful machine gun or simply have blocked one of the entrances to the hanger with its hulking body.
"Look sharp! More covies incoming." Yelled a marine suddenly, his voice shaking with fear of more battle with the alien that had already killed so many on the ship. Mike turned just in time see the first few Grunts make their way down the hallway, plasma pistols or needlers in hand. Mike shook his head and threw himself down behind one of the blockades and aimed down his rifle's barrel, ready to open fire at the incoming aliens once more.
"No rest for the wicked it seems." He mumbled to himself as he let loose a burst of fire towards the genocidal aliens.
The Pale Kestrl (15)
|2004 STANDARD TIME (UNSC STANDARD), 07 DEC 2551
Location: Arrow Flight's Hangar Bay
Fletcher had made it to his Pelican relatively unscathed, a couple of slowly fading burns on his side flared a little as he twisted in his seat. His hands flew across the controls with practised ease and soon his Pelican was coming online. He left the initial rundown to the computer systems, letting it all run in the background of his neural link with the ship.
Heavy footsteps in to troop bay behind him alerted him to his copilots arrival. Finally, he thought to him. Turning slowly in his seat, wincing as the burns flared up again, he saw Olympia Domaska as she stumbled into the cockpit.
"Your late" said Fletcher turning back to his controls with a grin "Was thinking you'd left me for another pilot"
"And miss watching you crap yourself as he Covenant overrun your precious Pelican?" she replied slipping into her seat behind him "Not a chance"
Fletcher chuckled to himself, he was lucky to have a copilot the shared his sense of humour. The final system checks flashed across the main screen, green across the board. Reaching over for the gun controls he begun spooling up the birds main gun.
"Please, what self respecting pilot would I be if I let the enemy take me lying down. Besides, I've got them outgunned"
Casually moving his targeting cross hairs over one of the hanger doors Fletcher unleashed a withering hail of fire down one of the corridors, tearing into the aliens as they pushed forward. He could almost hear the pops as a group of grunts were caught full in the face, their back tanks exploding like little walking grenades.
Suddenly Fletcher's comm link burst into life "Attention all Pelicans, this is Flight Dispatch. Activate ship IFF transponders and standby to disembark."
Behind him Olympia begun tapping away at her own console, preparing the necessary commands.
"I don't like this" she said as she worked away "There's no way we're going to be able to get us all out quick enough"
"We'll make it" replied Fletcher, not a single iota of doubt covered his voice.
"How can you be so sure?"
"Because I just know, mainly because your too pretty to die here"
Behind him she snorted but made no other reply but before Fletcher could continue Chief Petty Officer Yousef Amir crackled through the comm link again. "Alright... Pelicans, standby for new designations. We'll have to use the shuttle airlock, so you'll go in sequence on my mark. Zaytseva, designating you Alpha Zero-Zero-One. O'Hara, Alpha Zero-Zero-Two..."
Yousef continued wittering down the list of Pelicans in the line, Fletcher waited until he was finished to send his reply "Rodger Dodger dispatch, just don't take all day"
He flicked off the comm and refocused on the oncoming aliens. Their pelican was one of the last ones to be leaving, not something Fletcher relished but it was the cards he'd been dealt. Time to make the best of a bad situation.
"I need you to go out there and start fixing up that warthog to the rear clamp"
"What?" Olympia's shocked voice actually surprised Fletcher, she rarely got rattled.
"We've got some time to kill and those boys down there are doing a pretty spellbinding job of holding those aliens back. Now I don't know about you but I feel like I owe them something for that."
Olympia didn't respond and Fletcher turned away from his console to look at her.
"Look, where ever we are dropping down when he get off this ship we'll be locked there for a long haul holdout, having a warthog will do us a world of good"
She looking down at him and Fletcher watched with pride as her face turned to steel once again, it was another reason he was lucky to have her as his copilot. She nodded and begun to move out of the cockpit.
"I'll activate the magnetic clamps, get the hog in the place and get back in as soon as you can" Fletcher called to her as he begun work on his console again.
"Don't worry, its not like I'm gonna be hanging back to take pictures"
Fletcher liked that he and Olympia could joke, it made the world easier to swallow when you could poke fun at it. But as he looked out of his cockpit and saw 005 make its haphazard escape attempt Fletcher was reminded that there were somethings he couldn't joke about.
"Bitseach" he breathed as the two ships slammed onto the deck.
"Fuck me sideways. Olympia!" Fletcher pushed himself out of his seat and headed toward the back of the Pelican, ignoring the burns on his side flaring up "Screw the warthog, I need a scorpion"
"What? We don't have the time to get that fixed up" she replied "What the hell just happened out there?"
"Some idiot just tried to make a run for the airlock and now his bloody corpse is blocking the way. Only way we're moving that is with a tank"
Olympia shook her head "Do you even know how to drive a tank?"
"Its pedals and gears, how hard can it be?"
"According to you, not hard at all"
"You have a better idea?" he moved past her and look to where the two smoking wrecks were sitting on the deck, already some crew were running forward and trying to get what they could clear.
"No" she said "Come with me"
Olympia set off running, Fletcher close on her heels. The pair headed for the back of the hanger where the motor pool was kept, but as they ran across the deck Fletcher realised he'd have to drive the very large tank over a lot of open ground before he even made it to the wrecks.
Olympia thumped the door release with the back of her hand and the pair quickly stepped in. Inside the motor pool there were lines of vehicles all in neat rows; mongoose's, warthogs, scorpions. Even a few elephants at the back. Briefly Fletcher wished he could use one of them.
Shaking the thoughts out he moved toward the tanks, Olympia was already keying open the main door. Reaching the nearest tank Fletcher pulled himself up onto its treads before moving to the drivers seat, looking down into the tight compartment he suddenly didn't like the idea he had planned.
"As soon as I get moving, go back to the Pelican and prep that warthog"
She nodded as the bay door begun to open. Fletcher nodded back and grinned at her, hoping that if he still looking confident he'd feel a bit more sure of himself. She just give him a little smile and disappeared.
Slipping into the drivers seat he tried to familiarise himself with the controls, internally he praised the marines for keeping their tech simple. It really was just gears and pedals. As his neural interface linked to the tanks systems Fletcher opened a comm link to Yousef.
"Chief, i'm rolling out one of the tanks to clear the debris. I'll try get them out of your way soon as"
Without waiting for authorisation or a response Fletcher slammed his foot down on the pedal and the tank jumped forward. In the drivers seat Fletcher grinned, he'd always wanted to try one of these.
The scorpion rumbled across the deck, heedless of the little patters of plasma fire that sounded on the hull. Hopefully there weren't anymore fuel rod wielding grunts hiding amongst their ranks.
"Looks like your not doing so bad" said Olympia over their comm link.
"I told ya it couldn't be that hard"
Somehow Fletcher made it across the deck, popping the hatch he jumped out and ran across to one of the deckhands trying to sort the wrecks out.
"I need a cable from the wreck to that tank, i'm gonna try and pull them out of the way"
For a moment the crewman was stunned "You dragged a tank out here to pull those pelicans out? Wouldn't it be better covering our asses?"
"It probably would, but last I checked your not immune to explosive decompression"
The deckhand didn't respond, he just ran over to the wreck and begun organising the crew. Meanwhile Fletcher jumped back into the tank.
"This is either going to be my best plan or the worst" he said as scorpion came to life.
A minute later the deckhand popped his head over the cockpit.
"Cables hooked up, where you driving this thing?"
"I'm gonna pull it back into the bay, only place we can put it"
The deckhand gave a none committal nod and leapt off the tank. Fletcher gave it a few seconds to let everyone get out of the way before throwing the tank in reverse. Slamming his foot down on the pedal Fletcher begun pulling the wrecked Pelican away from the airlock.
|2008 STANDARD TIME (UNSC STANDARD), 07 DEC 2551|
Mission Timer: 2:11 Seconds Remaining
Location: Arrow Flight's hallways, en route to the reactors
Taking point, Jet rounded another corner and was immediately greeted with plasma fire. In front of him was a squad of jackals, grunts, and a couple of hinge-heads, all of them pointing their guns at him. No, behind him. Jet instinctively dived into an open doorway to his left, and saw Harald take the shots as he shifted behind a crate. Meanwhile, Amelia took cover behind one of the bulkheads and returned fire with her MA5B. The Spartan peered out of his cover and joined in with a few bursts of his rifle, a sight paired with the sound of grunt screams and jackal rasps.
Jet wondered what kind of trouble Isaac would have gotten into at this point. Well, it couldn't be worse than being left behind to scuttle the ship. He just hoped that Isaac would be able to escape the ship in time; he didn't want to lose another squadmate this week. Actually, forget Isaac, he'll make it. He's survived worse. I just hope the corporal and I can.
"Push up!" Amelia called to Jet, motioning with her free hand towards the hostiles. "What are you waiting for?"
Jet leaned back into the hallway, and opened fire on one of the elites. The force seemed more focused on Harald than him, so he took the risk and moved up to a more exposed, but much more advantageous, position. Amelia pushed forward as well, taking cover where Jet just was, inserting a new magazine into her rifle. Harald followed suit, taking the lid off the crate and using it as a shield to get up in one of the split-jaw's faces, followed by a punch and a kick to take the elite down.
Why here? And why a single cruiser? Where is the rest of the fleet?
Jet reached for a grenade on his explosives belt, pulled the pin, and tossed it at the last elite. It dove out of the way, but a jackal and the rest of the grunts were still caught in the blast. The elite roared something he didn't understand, and the remaining jackals followed it back down the hallway. But before Jet could get up to chase after them, the elite fired a couple bursts from his plasma rifle, forcing the ODST to take cover again.
Jet cursed under his breath as he glanced over towards Amelia. She was firing over Jet towards the hostiles, who's shots were continuing to pin him. The timer that appeared on his HUD almost two minutes ago continued ticking down.
Ok, I have a minute left. But a minute for what? Is that when the ship will crash, or when the charges should be planted and set off?
Then suddenly the plasma fire stopped.
When Jet looked back up, the aliens were gone, and Harald tossed his impromptu shield on the ground.
[ Harald-077 ] Some of them got away. An elite and two jackals to be specific."
[ CPL. Hope ] "We'll worry about the numbers later. Let's keep moving, reactors should be just around this corner."
Timothy Emeigh (17)
|2009 STANDARD TIME (UNSC STANDARD), 07 DEC 2551|
Mission Timer: 0:45 Seconds Remaining
Location: Arrow Flight's Hangar Bay
Zaytseva sat in her chair, keeping her eyes on the entrance to the hangar bay. The Covenant had seemed to slow down, once they saw the tank start rolling, but she expected them to round the corner any second now. Taking a glance at the mission timer, she frowned. They were cutting it close. She steadied her grip on the joystick, waiting for the next Covenant head to pop around that corner.
Suddenly, her copilot's voice caught her attention. It wasn't coming over comms, but directly next to her.
[Copilot] "Commander! They've got the wreck cleared, we can start getting out of here again."
Sasha smiled, thumbing the control on her console, deactivating the mission timer. They'd made it twenty seconds before the cutoff point. Tapping at the console, she activated comms to the flight control officer, opening a line.
[ LCDR. Zaytseva ] "Chief! The wreck is cleared. Start getting birds in the air again. Try to make it quick. We've made it in time, but we're cutting it close."
Switching the channels, she sent out a comm to the marines in the hangar, her Russian accent filling their helmets.
[ LCDR. Zaytseva ] "Marines, we've got the wreck cleared, start loading up the remaining Pelicans. This is going to be a fast departure, so let's get moving."
Satisfied, she looked back to the door, settling her finger on the trigger. Just as she focused on the door, she saw plasma fire erupt from the entrance, and squeezed the trigger, once again filling the air with lead. Hovering the reticle over the door, she covered the scrambling Marines and deck crew, holding their position. She was the last one out, and she was going to defend that entrance until it was her turn to get her bird in the air, or the ship went down with her still on it.
Andromeda Vadum (18)
|2009 STANDARD TIME (UNSC STANDARD), 07 DEC 2551|
Mission Timer: 0:45 Seconds Remaining
Location: Class-3 Enclosed Heavy Lifeboat, Controlled
David made his way past the marines and into the pilots cockpit. Sitting down, he pressed a few buttons on the control panel and checked the status of the bumblebee's systems. Green light on everything. Good. He accessed the comms and did a few radio checks.
"We're good! Everyone hang on, we're getting out of here!" David exclaimed with excitement.
Kyle lowered the safety harness and looked at the marine beside him. The marine was about as young as he was - eighteen or twenty years old, eye's wide open and trembling with the fear from the horror he'd seen. He placed his hand on the marines leg and reassured him, "It's going to be okay. We'll get through this." He immediately leaned back in his seat from the propulsion of the bumblebee thrusting forward. He knew they were off and away from all the headache.
"I wonder if the Arrow Flight will explode soon?"
"Soon. Can't wait to see what lies ahead." A relaxed marine replied.
|2009 STANDARD TIME (UNSC STANDARD), 07 DEC 2551|
Mission Timer: Cut off at 0:20 Seconds Remaining
Location: Arrow Flight Hangar Control Center
"Get back, get back!"
Amir hurled one of the deck officers' chairs into the wide observation window, absolutely shattering it. The shards and chair plummeted to the deck far below as the last of Marine fireteams withdrew to the Pelicans. Amir stepped up to the open sill, boot brushing a few last shards over the edge. Without the barrier, the gunfire and discharge of plasma was deafening. He held the headset loosely to one ear, microphone close enough to shout into.
"Alpha Zero-Zero-One, copy on the wreck! The bay's set to depressurize, but we can't get down to you! Any chance you can lift off for a pick up?"
A blast of rotary cannon fire, lighting up a solid line between Alpha-001 and a doorway was the only answer, and it was all he needed. Covenant making another push meant Zaytseva was needed to provide cover, meaning he and the ensigns were stuck unless--
"Rest easy, Chief," Fletcher O'Hara's voice filtered through the headset as a blast of jet exhaust made Amir's eyes water. "We'll make this a snatch-and-grab."
Amir emitted something between a laugh and a sob--Alpha-002 had maneuvered free of its moorings itself, and risen adjacent to the flight control center. At best, Amir had dared to hope he and the officers would have to jump atop a Pelican and clamber down to the troop bay, but O'Hara was keeping his Pelican level less than a meter below the ceiling, back flank near the open window to bring the door as close as possible. A Marine leaned out over the blood tray's lip, waving to them with a free hand.
They needed no other prompting. Amir made the jump first, the Marine grabbing his arm mid-jump to pull him aboard. He stood back quickly to allow the first of the ensign deck managers on behind. Her foot missed the blood tray's edge, but the Marine caught her arm and Amir helped pull her in. The young man, however, had drawn the short straw.
Before he could jump, the bulkhead behind him opened in a flash of blue fire, and a plasma bolt struck him in the side of the head. Brain melting away, the ensign plummeted from the window and was lost to Amir's sight. Digitigrade figures filed into the control center. Amir punched the troop bay door's control and turned his head toward the cockpit as it shut.
|2009 STANDARD TIME (UNSC STANDARD), 07 DEC 2551|
Mission Timer: Cut off at 0:20 Seconds Remaining
Location: Arrow Flight Hangar
Mike Sanders looked over his cover once more as a spray of bullets from the pelican's rotary cannon torn another alien apart before looking back into the hanger to see that the two crashed Pelicans had been moved out of the way. With a short groan his pushed himself into a low crawl to get to the other sergeant that defended this entrance to the hanger.
"Seems like the Alpha-001 can take care of things here for now." He said as his sat down beside the other sergeant.
"I'll be taking my men and some other guys on Alpha-003 and get the hell off this rust bucket as soon as flight control gives us the green lights." The sergeant nodded, determination in his eyes.
"Roger that Sanders, see you planetside then."
Sanders nodded his head shortly before getting back on his feet, tapping his throat mic to get in touch with what remain of his soldiers.
"Listen up guys, the others can handle the Covenants for now so we're going to board Alpha-003 and our asses off this ship in but a moment." Taking long strides to cross the hanger to the waiting Pelican as quickly as possible without running. He spotted a few non-combat personal that looked like they were about finished with filling the dropship with as many supplies as possible without sacrificing room for the passengers.
"You guys about done with filling the bird?" Yelled Sanders to them. One of them looked up a gave him a thumps up.
"Splendid, you guys grab your gear and get on the bird with us, we're leaving ship shortly." Just as he said that the windows of flight control high above them exploded outward, shards of glass raining into the hanger below.
Sanders turned to look at what happened while his men filed into the dropship. That can't be a good sign he thought to himself. Not long after a Pelican, Alpha-002 if he guessed right, flew up to the shattered windows, its ramp dropped open.
"Definitely not good" He mumbled below his breath. Just then one of his yelled from atop of the ramp of Alpha-003.
"Sir, the pilot says that flight control have set the hanger to depressurize. We should hurry up and get the bird prepped for takeoff." Sanders nodded to his soldier and headed inside the dropship and pressed the button for the ramp to close up and seal the bay. He then sat down and strapped himself to a seat and switched his mics frequency to that of the pilot's com-system.
"We're ready to go when you are."
Timothy Emeigh (21)
|2009 STANDARD TIME (UNSC STANDARD), 07 DEC 2551|
Mission Timer: Cut off at 0:20 Seconds Remaining
Location: Arrow Flight Hangar
The window crashed open, and Chief Amir's voice streamed through her headset.
[ CPO Amir ] "Alpha Zero-Zero-One, copy on the wreck! The bay's set to depressurize, but we can't get down to you! An..."
Zaytseva grabbed the gun controls as a blast of plasma rocked her Pelican, an alarm ringing in the cockpit. Squeezing the trigger, she filled the air between her bird and the hangar door with lead, pinning the alien's again. Taking a moment to look at her console, she saw that her comms were down. Must've been the plasma.
Transferring the gun controls over to her copilot, she looked back into her blood tray, seeing it filled up. Sighing, she closed her Pelican's rear hatch, looking out over the hangar briefly, seeing the remaining Marines rushing towards the Pelican's, knowing they couldn't all possibly fit. Banishing the thought from her mind, she focused on her job, running one last check on her ship's systems, then lifting off the ground slightly.
Suddenly, a proximity alert sounded out as the cockpit was overshadowed. Dropping down a few feet, she looked up, and saw the underbelly of Alpha 002 right above her. Seems Fletcher was picking up Amir and anyone else in the control room. As she hovered there, holding steady for her copilot, a flash of blue drew her attention up to the control room again, and she saw the corpse of a Navy man fall in front of her, hitting the floor with a dull thud. Cursing, she looked around the hangar, making sure everyone had cleared away from the door. With so few seconds left before the entire room depressurized, she took a risk and, pressing her thumb down on the firing button, launched a missile at the hangar door, clearing the remaining Covenant troops from that side of the hangar. Spinning around to face the now unobstructed control room, Sasha lined up the guns, and her copilot took out the Elites filling the room with precision, stopping any attempt at them preventing the depressurization of the hangar.
Spinning back around forward, Zaytseva leveled her Pelican with the back of the hangar just as she saw the doors open up and, avoiding the loose gear and debris flying past her into space, she gunned her bird forward, rocketing out of the plummeting vessel into space, pausing briefly to make sure the other Pelicans made it out and, knowing she wouldn't be much help in locating escape pods with her downed comms, turned towards the installation below, diving to the surface. Hearing the mumbling of the Marines in the back of her Pelican, she released the breath she hadn't realized she had been holding, and focused straight ahead, preparing to settle down on the surface, following the crashing frigate down.
|2011 STANDARD TIME (UNSC STANDARD), 07 DEC 2551|
Mission Timer: Cut off at 0:20 Seconds Remaining
Location: Arrow Flight's hallways, just outside of the reactor room
The timer on Jet's HUD had hit 0:20, stopped counting down, and disappeared from his HUD seconds later. With no idea what it meant, Jet half expected to die at any moment. But nothing happened. He hoped that was a good thing.
The trooper watched as Harald pulled the panels of the door to the reactor room apart. First thing that he noticed was that the room was pitch black, apart from the occasional streak of red from an emergency light. He activated his VISR and looked back at Amelia and Harald.
[ CPL. Hope ] "Spartan, does that helmet of yours have low light vision?"
[ Harald-077 ] "No need, I have low light vision. But yeah, it does."
[ LCPL. Thompson ] "Showoff."
[ CPL. Hope ] "Can we just get this done? Jet, you first."
[ LCPL. Thompson ] "What ever happened to 'Ladies first?'"
Jet stepped through the doorway and checked the room. He looked for any red on his VISR, and when he was sure there was none, he called back to Amelia.
[ LCPL. Thompson ] "Clear!"
[ CPL. Hope ] "Copy, Jet. Harald, you take care of the reactors, we'll watch the door."
She turned back towards the door, gun raised. Jet watched as Harald just stood there, staring at the reactors. Jet could tell that he was thinking.
[ LCPL. Thompson ] "Need an explosive?"
[ Harald-077 ] "What're my options?"
Jet checked his belt for something explosive enough to destabilize the reactors, and grabbed the C-7 canister and a breaching charge.
[ LCPL. Thompson ] "Pick one."
Harald grabbed both and examined them as Jet turned his attention to Amelia and the door. It was times like these that he wished Amelia had a helmet cam, just so he could tap in and see what she saw while doing his own thing.
I mean, Isaac and I have helmet cams, why doesn't she?
But this wasn't the biggest concern at the moment. Jet was still fixed on the mission timer, which inconveniently lacked a description. It could've been anything from how long until the air vented completely in a hallway to an evacuation timer, telling everyone aboard to get the hell of the ship.
Please let that not be an evac timer. There better still be a way off of this ship, there has to be.
[ LCPL. Thompson ] "Hey, Spartan, how long until you get those explosives set? 'Cause the ship isn't gonna wait. The planet is getting closer by the minute, and we still need-"
Jet was cut short as he saw an orange "environment" outline shift off to his left. He guessed Amelia noticed too, as she narrowly dodged the outlined silhouette as it swung it's illuminated sword at her head. She rolled off to her right, towards Jet and Harald, as Jet opened fire on the camouflaged elite.
[ CPL. Hope ] "Spartan, we got company!"
Jet heard the shifting of power armor behind him, and saw the green-outlined blur sprint off to his left. As Amelia got up to open fire, two more crates shifted as another pair of camouflaged split-jaws vaulted over them. Harald froze, pistol raised, standing halfway between the split-jaws and the troopers.
The room was nearly silent, with neither side willing to make the first move. For the most part, three stealth elites were just as difficult as three normal ones to an ODST using VISR, the only real difference being that VISR incorrectly identifies a cloaked enemy as "environment." This makes them the same color orange as the rest of the shapes around them, and makes the ODST's job slightly harder.
This just gets better and better. What next? Drones? Or something more explosive? There are Hunters aboard, I wouldn't be surprised if these guys lured us into another ambush.
But both sides just stood there, weapons raised. It was clear that the elites knew the troopers could see them, but they didn't make an effort to deactivate their active camouflage. Only the center elite, the one that almost got Amelia, was wielding a sword; the other two pointed their rifles at Harald. Jet fixated his rifle on the elite on the right, and Amelia had her gun pointed at the one on the left.
Amelia shot first, stunning the leftmost cloaker. Jet pulled the trigger, getting a lucky shot that made his target drop its gun, which his VISR automatically outlined in blue as it hit the ground. Harald used the opening and charged at the center elite, grabbing its right wrist to prevent it from swinging its sword in defense. As Harald and the commander wrestled to gain the upper hand, Jet turned towards Amelia's target.
The leftmost elite had recovered at this point, and started spraying plasma in Amelia's general direction. Amelia ducked behind a control panel, and the elite roared as its rifle vented its excess heat.
Jet pulled his rifle's trigger three times, watching the ammo counter go from 9 to 6, then to 3, before running out of ammo. The shields on the armed elite flickered as his VISR outlined it in red, indicating that its active camouflage had depleted.
Jet ejected the empty magazine and reached for another one. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see that Harald had been able to wrestle the sword out of the leader's hand and was now on top of it. As Harald reached for his combat knife, the elite that Jet disarmed shoved him off of the commander, only mildly stunning the Spartan as opposed to the hit from the Hunter before.
As Harald recovered from being thrown off balance, the weaponless elite activated its two energy gauntlets, glowing bright. Jet aimed at the new threat, as the gauntlets were just as deadly as a handheld energy sword. But before he could pull the trigger, a streak of plasma flew past his eyes, even brighter with his helmet's built in low-light vision.
Jet took two steps back and opened fire on the still-armed lizard, hitting its recharged shields with another three bursts of his rifle. The split-jaw rolled out of the way before Jet could land a headshot, taking cover behind a control board, the same console Amelia was behind.
Without hesitation, Amelia vaulted over the panel and tackled the elite, drawing her combat knife. But the elite was simply to strong to stay down, and pushed Amelia off of itself and into the console.
Jet fired four more bursts from his rifle, taking down the elite's recharging shields and landing a fatal hit. He ran over to Amelia and helped her up. She gave Jet an "okay" sign with her hand as she grabbed her gun off of the ground. Setting her rifle to semi-auto, she fired another bullet into the dead elite's head, ensuring that it won't be getting back up. Jet looked to Harald, who was on his back, unarmed, with the elite standing above him.
Harald rolled to his left, dodging as the elite brought its gauntlet's blade down and into the ground. As Harald rolled into a crouching position, he pulled his knife out of one of the slots in the floor paneling and swung it behind him. The elite dodged out of the way, burning a small line into the floor where his blade still touched the ground.
[ CPL. Hope ] "Thompson, help Harald!"
[ LCPL. Thompson ] "What are you gonna do?"
[ CPL. Hope ] "I'm gonna- Jet duck!"
Almost instantaneously Jet dove to the right, turning around just in time to see Amelia attempt to block a flaming sword of plasma with her rifle. The energy sword cut straight through the rifle, slicing across Hope's chest.
[ LCPL. Thompson ] "Amelia!"
Jet grabbed his battle rifle, which he dropped as he dodged the sword, and fired the remaining five bursts at the leader, who he'd forgotten about up until now. As he ejected the empty magazine, the leader swung its sword in Jet's direction, who was lucky enough to be just outside of the elite's reach. He could tell now that the leader was wearing a variant of their Infiltration harness, something that he had seen more than once before (from afar).
Well, that's to be expected from a SpecOps officer.
Jet ducked under another swing of the officer's sword. He payed attention to the fighting styles of the squid-faces he fought, making it a little easier to predict the officer's next few swings. But he wasn't ready for the kick from the leader, which sent him flying backwards towards Harald and his combatant, sliding along the floor until he was next to them.
Okay, gotta remember the kick next time.
[ Harald-077 ] "Jet?"
[ LCPL. Thompson ] "Sir."
Looking back to the leader, he could see that it was charging towards him. Jet rolled in between Harald and the gauntlet elite, emerging on the other side with his pistol in hand. Harald, hearing the sound of the officer's footsteps as it ran towards him, ducked under a quick but powerful stab from the officer. Jet looked up, seeing that the officer had just accidentally stabbed his own soldier through the chest. The officer spoke, in English:
[ SpecOps Officer ] "Demon, you will not walk away from this alive!"
The officer swung its sword around, cutting the impaled elite in half as it sliced across the Spartan's chest. Based on Harald's reaction, Jet could tell that the sword had only just grazed the suit of armor, and didn't come close to actually causing Harald any harm.
[ LCPL. Thompson ] "Is there a problem, officer? I swear I'm not drunk."
Jet fired six rounds of his M6C/SOCOM into the elite's side, before the red outline swung his sword towards him. Jet dove behind Harald and the sword sliced another control panel in half. He emptied his pistol's magazine, watching as the elite's shield flickered but remained active.
[ LCPL. Thompson ] "I'm telling you, I only had one beer!"
The elite swung its sword towards the Spartan's neck, but Harald leaned fast enough to allow the sword to pass right in front of him. Jet reloaded his magnum and fired another dozen rounds at the officer.
[ LCPL. Thompson ] "Okay, maybe three."
[ Harald-077 ] "Can you stop? It's not that funny."
Harald caught the officer's arm as it made another attempt at his head. Blocking a punch from the elite's free arm, Harald kicked the officer in the shin. Jet reached for his combat knife on his back.
[ LCPL. Thompson ] "Yeah, I'll admit that wasn't the best. I have better material..."
Jet ran up behind the elite and climbed onto its back. The leader tried to shake the trooper off, but Jet was just too quick. Before the elite could get Jet off of him, he had already driven the knife through the elite's face, killing the split-jaw almost instantly.
[ LCPL. Thompson ] "Like high carbon steel!"
The officer fell to the ground, and Jet removed the knife from its head. Both Harald and Jet looked down on the now uncloaked SpecOps Officer.
Fuck, what am I gonna tell Isaac? "Oh, Isaac! Hope died because she was too busy saving my ass to save her own. But I'm completely okay, and that's what matters." Ugh, I'm not looking forward to that discussion.
[ LCPL. Thompson ] "Do aliens go to Hell, or do they have their own underworld that they go to? 'Cause I don't want to see these guys again after I die."
Harald's head perked up for a second. At first, Jet thought that Harald failed to hear him. But it was followed by another jerk, as if he was listening to something that Jet didn't hear. Jet decided not to interrupt and instead walked over to Amelia's body, looked around it, searching.
They've gotta be somewhere.
He removed her right shoulder pad, and a set of shiny yet old dog tags fell to the ground. He picked them up, inspecting the lettering pressed into the tags. they belonged to Sergeant Samuel Hope, Amelia's father who died against the Covenant and inspired her to join the Marine Corps. Jet promised her that if anything were to happen to her, that he would bring the tags back to Earth in one piece.
He put the tags into one of his many pouches, and put his rifle away. He reached for her helmet, which had fallen off and was sitting at her side, so he could give her an ODST's funeral when he regrouped with Isaac. But before he touched it, he heard Harald yell from across the room:
[ Harald-077 ] "Move!"
As Jet turned, he saw Harald running towards him. Before the trooper could react, Harald had already grabbed him by the shoulder and dragged him back through the door. He felt the sudden pain as his back smashed into the floor, and Harald braced himself on top of him. Jet tried to say something, anything, but he couldn't find the words. The ODST managed to do a quick gear check before he finally lost consciousness from the increasing g-forces.
The ship was falling. Crashing. And it was doing it fast.
The Pale Kestrl (23)
|2012 STANDARD TIME (UNSC STANDARD), 07 DEC 2551
Location: Arrow Flight Hangar
Fletcher was forced to focus all his attention on keeping his bird level, if he dropped even a little he'd be going down right onto 001. There was enough of a mess of the bay without two more Pelicans clogging up the area. Needless to say that neither crew would survive. The sounds of plasma bolts slapping against his hull was another gentle reminder of how much danger he was in.
"Rest easy chief" called Fletcher over the comm link, surprised by the carefree tone in his voice. "We'll make this a snatch-and-grab"
Dropping the rear hatch Fletcher did everything he could to keep the dropship steady. Behind him in the troop compartment he could heard Amir and his fellow deck jokey's climbing aboard. Internally Fletcher prayed there weren't to many of them as the tense moments clicked by and for everyone Fletcher gave thanks to whatever higher powers there were that his Pelican didn't take a fuel rod round.
Suddenly there was a flurry of noises behind him. The sound of plasma rounds, the rear door closing and Amir screaming at him.
Trying to avoid the urge to gun the throttle and escape this mess before their luck finally ran out Fletcher gentle eased his Pelican forward to the massive cargo bay doors. As he spun around to face the exit he saw 001's Pelican finally rise up from its moorings and prepare it's own escape.
"Come on chief, no one likes a backseat driver. You lads better strap yourselves in, i'm about to punch outa here."
As if on cue the bay doors finally opened, unleashing the unforgiving vacuum of space into the bay. Debris begun to shoot out of the ship like a rocket and for a second Fletcher had to fight to keep his ship level as the doors inched their way open.
"Here we go" said Fletcher, more to himself than anyone else.
Reaching over for the throttle controls he slammed the lever forward. There was the brief sound of the afterburners firing and then the Pelican blasted out of the bay. Fletcher sincerely hoped he'd vaporised some of the aliens still in the bay.
With a white knuckled grip on his control sticks Fletcher pulled the pelican into a deep shift, pulling left to avoid a large piece of wreckage as it screamed down towards whatever planet the ship would soon be turning into its grave. As another pieces of white hot wreckage burned its way pass the Pelican Fletcher chose to pull forward, hoping to reach the edge of the debris field to lay low.
A proximity warning blared in his ear and Fletcher pulled hard up, coming just short of being smashed apart by what looked like a chunk of the frigates aft section. He forced the sticks down again and pushed his ship harder.
Slowly the dangers lessened and Fletcher eased on the controls, pulling back on the throttle to avoid slagging his afterburners. Slowly they cruised away from their dying ship. Leaning back he looked at his copilot, her face now obscured by her helmet. He could just make out her mouth, slightly a gape.
"Told you we'd make it"
"Just" she replied "Only. Just"
"Please" replied Fletcher turning back to the controls and looking for a place to hide for a second. He soon found what he was looking for, a cluster of wreckage that had been torn away early in the fight now settling into its decaying orbit.
"They never stood a chance of getting us"
Olympia just huffed and said nothing else. Truth be told Fletcher was planning all manner of thank you's to whatever had just saved him certain death. But that wasn't for other people to know, he had to still at least pretend to know what he was doing.
The sound of footsteps from the blood tray altered Fletcher to another's arrival. As he set the Pelican into position with the wreckage he turned around to see Chief Amir, looking a bit green around the gills but still standing, step into the cockpit.
"What's our status?"
"Alive" responded Fletcher, smiling a bit as he turned back to the forward view screen "Your welcome for that by the way"
"What are we doing?" said Amir, choosing to ignore the jib for the moment.
"Taking cover, didn't want to chance a Seraph flight pulling us down when we dropped planet side. Figured we'd stay up in the black, have a look around for survivors and then head down after the rest of the ship"
Fletcher knew as well as anyone that it was unlikely much of the lifeboats and escape pods had escaped the Covenant's notice. But he wasn't about to leave good men and women to choke to death if he could do anything about it.
The last marines hand went limp in Russell's sure grip. His eyes bulged even as his throat slowly constricted, searching for just one scrap of oxygen that no longer existed. He lasted on single breath like whimper before finally falling still in his seat. The Spartan let the man's hand fall from his to rest on the marines lap. A real shit way to die.
Stepping back slowly Russell tried to steady his mind. The oxygen supplies in his armour would last longer than those of his dead companions, not that it matter much if he couldn't get help. And he didn't intent to just sit and let himself be snuffed out without putting up a fight.
Stepping carefully over to the cockpit of the lifeboat he reached over and pulled the pilot out of his seat. Unlike the others in the lifeboat he'd been killed when the wreckage at impacted the sit of the boat, jarring his neck and killing him instantly. Probably a better way to go then slowly dying like the others, not that it made a difference.
Looking over the controls Russell activated the distress beacon on the tight band transmission. It was a slim hope that any of the crew would survive to effect a rescue mission but if they did then Russ wanted them to find him sooner rather than later. And if the Covenant heard it? Would they try to capture him?
At least if that happened he'd be able to face his death with some dignity. Death comes for everyone sooner or later, thought Russell, but that doesn't mean i'm gonna run at it with open arms.
The siren rang through the town like a banshee, loud and near-deafening. All around, people ran into their houses, apartments, and shops, locking them up. Mothers grabbed their frightened children and pulled them behind closed doors, trying their best to hide their own fright over the upcoming battle. All except for one mother.
“BECAUSE NO MEANS FUCKING NO!”
“Maybe it just means you don’t believe I can do it!”
“Of course I fucking don’t! You’re 15 years old, you may as well go into battle holding a goddamn binkie!”
The boy shouted in anger, running his hands through his hair. Ariana had to resist the urge to strangle him. He turned back to her.
“Mom, look...I doubt any of the other boys are gonna sit this out in their houses. I need to-”
“What, you moron, you wanna go out and die?”
The boy seemed to regret the word as it came out, but he stood by them, defending himself despite the encroaching guilt evident in his voice.
“I’ve scored kills before!”
“On Razorfangs! With ten other people and a pack of dogs! And those weren’t even the big ones!”
The boy clenched his fists, putting his words together mentally. Ariana stood, her arms crossed and her eyes wide, waiting for a response.
“Okay….Dad’s going out to fight, and so are all the older boys, and I...I don’t wanna be the kid who sits this out in a mansion because he can’t fight. I figure even if I-I take a bullet immediately, that’s….one less towards the people that matter, right?”
He went silent, lowering his head. From the corner, a two pairs of eyes poked out over the couch, moving back and forth between the two figures as they argued.
“Mom...do you want you want live with a coward as your son?”
She slapped him across the head, hard.
“Yes! God, how thick are you? Yes, fucking of course, yes, as long as you’re fucking alive!”
Ariana hadn’t realized it until now, but her eyes had begun to water. She continued slapping him, the boy recoiling at each blow, but staying in his place. She stopped once she saw her message had gone through. There were tears in his eyes too. She reached up, grabbing him by the back of his head, tenderly this time. She brought their foreheads together. “Look….I know it seems like staying here won’t do anything, but I NEED to know that you’re safe. Your father and I will be fine, just as long as you…” She motioned with her hand to the pair of eyes poking out over the couch. “...and your sisters are safe. You understand?”
Martin nodded, wiping his eyes. Ariana sighed, stepping back and reaching for her belt. The boy’s eyes went wide as she handed him the pistol. “Now, that’s an M6. I know you know, but I’ll say it again, be careful before you fire. That thing can and will snap your fucking wrist if you fire it incorr-”
She was silenced as laughter came from on of the wide eyes. She turned, glaring. “What’s so funny, Clarise?”
The girl popped up from behind the couch, grinning. A stubby pair of arms pulled the other pair of eyes up, her legs barely letting her reach the top of the couch. The first girl spoke.
“You’ve been saying the f-word! Hahahahaha!”
The smaller one chimed in, trying to keep pace with her sister. “F...f-ord, fword, eford, Mama said efforr….”
Ariana sighed, glaring. Behind her facade, she was happy to see their antics, at least for one last time, but she needed to be strong now. They needed to know things were seriously.
“If the both of you don’t go back to your room right now, I’ll send you out there so the monsters can eat you, understand? Move!”
Their little faces went white with terror, and Clarise picked up her little sister and ran. Ariana smiled slightly as she listened to her feet patter up the stairs, and the door to their room to protect. She turned back to Martin.
"That is what you’re staying to protect. Do you understand?”
Martin nodded, and smiled. She smiled back, leaning up and kissing him on the top of his head. “We’ll be back, alright? Just hold down the fort until we do.”
As the governor finally left her house, she couldn't help but feel like she was walking to her grave.
|2015 STANDARD TIME (UNSC STANDARD), 07 DEC 2551
Location: Pelican Alpha-001
Pushing the afterburners, Zaytseva rocketed towards the planet, pressed back in her seat by the acceleration. Though she was fairly certain she had left the Covenant fighters behind her, she couldn't be sure without comms if the occasional blue plasma flying past her cockpit was missed shots from the fight behind her, or fighters on her tail. As such, it was her aim to reach the atmosphere as soon as possible, and make for landing on the installation.
As the flames start to lick over the nose of her bird, Sasha leveled off and slowed down, reducing her speed to keep control and prevent herself from burning up. Spiraling down to the planet, slowing down gradually, she finally managed to get a view behind her and see she had managed to elude whatever Seraphs or Banshees could have been following her. Smiling, Aleksandra turned her gaze back forward, waiting to get close enough to the surface of the installation to make out a potential location for landing.
Yet as she drew closer, something caught her eye. What appeared to be the indications of a settlement appeared as small dots on the surface below her. Curious, she looked to her copilot, the young man, practically a boy, nodding that he saw it. Smirking, she looked forward again and opened her intraship PA, luckily not taken out with the main comms.
[ LCDR. Zaytseva ] "Okay marines, get ready for a landing. We've spotted what seems to be a settlement, possibly human. I'm going to set the bird down a few kilometers out."
Hearing a few clicks, harnesses latching shut in the back, Sasha pulled the Pelican out of its spiral, practically gliding down towards the surface, heading away from the settlement slowly. Approaching the ground, she slowed the Pelican down, reducing its speed of descent, dust kicking up as she got within a few meters of the ground. Lowering her bird's landing gear, Sasha set the Pelican down, making contact with the surface.
[ LCDR. Zaytseva ] "Okay, we have landing. Everyone clear the bloodtray and set up a perimeter around the Pelican. We're staying here until we can get comms working again, or at least make contact with the rest of the survivors. If anyone's got mechanical experience, feel free to help out, but I want at least seven of you on defense. Move, marines."
Clicking the PA system off, Sasha turned to her copilot next.
[ LCDR. Zaytseva ] "Stay here. I'll need you to turn the Pelican off, but prepare for a quick restart if we run into trouble. You'll have the guns."
Standing up out of her harness, Sasha grabbed her BR, stepping into the back and out down the ramp, her helmet's visor polarizing to compensate for the increased light from direct exposure, rather than through the cockpit. Blinking and clearing her vision, Sasha stepped out onto the ground, and looked around.
|2017 STANDARD TIME (UNSC STANDARD), 07 DEC 2551
Location: Pelican Alpha-002
Stars and wreckage spun in Alpha 002's viewports. Fletcher had set the Pelican against a shredded plate of titanium ship armor to mask its signature, and now they tumbled as one through the debris field left in the Arrow Flights wake. Light emanating from the nearby planet, into which's gravity well the frigate had been drawn, cast shadows on the cockpit's back wall for half of every spin. Amir tried not to look at it too much, helped by burying his head in the com station in the short hallway between cockpit and troop bay.
"Hey, Chief?" the dropship's copilot asked, speaking up for the first time since a Seraph patrol had prowled too close for comfort, and they'd decided to run mostly dark. "What are the chances your tech teams can patch up the Flight?"
Amir sighed, tapping in a command to properly align the dropship's trasceiver. "Assuming there enough survivors to even hope at it, the ship doesn't break up on reentry, or the Covenant don't light it up to celebrate their victory... still none. The framework's going to be completely smashed when it runs aground."
The co-pilot cussed quietly, and lapsed back into silence. She knew what it meant, as did Amir, Fletcher, and everyone else in the cramped troop bay. With the Arrow Flight and its slipspace drive gone, there wouldn't be any easy way home. There might be a rescue ship in months or years... if the Covenant let them live to see it. Or didn't exterminate humanity everywhere else in the galaxy. No one had had the courage to say it until then.
Amir could feel despair taking hold in that silence. The evacuees wondering why they'd struggled to make it to any escape ship, just to live out the rest of their years on some uncharted planet. It wasn't what he wanted for himself, either. He had to say something, just to get the ball rolling. Remind of them of the goal they had to focus on. "We need to regroup with the other dropships." he hesitantly pointed out the obvious.
The ploy worked, though. Reclined in the pilot's seat, Fletcher replied, "Which is what we're doing by staying out here. The more people we gather, the better our chances, so let's see if we can find anyone left behind."
"Almost got it." Amir replied. "Thank God for protocol."
Standard procedure for a ship in the UNSC Navy was to drop a buoy whenever it left slipspace, to provide a navigational marker and serve as a sensor aid, feeding remote observation data to the vessel. Amir knew his crew wouldn't neglect the duty, and it might just save lives today. With Covenant patrols sifting the wreckage, broadcasting to find anyone else was guaranteed to get them found. Bouncing a direct beam off the buoy, however, would let them safely scan and contact any dropship or lifeboat to be knocked off course.
With a final adjustment, Amir sent a test ping... and got a positive response. "We've got a connection." he announced, pleased with himself, as a signal indicator turned green. "You're on the air, Fletch."
Fletcher picked up a receiver tethered to the dashboard. "Flight Officer O'Hara, Pelican Alpha Zero-Zero-Two to all Arrow Flight life pods still in orbit. We're on-station and prepared to render assistance to anyone stranded, over."
The Pale Kestrl (27)
|2020 STANDARD TIME (UNSC STANDARD), 07 DEC 2551
Location: Pelican Alpha-002
On the edge of his sensor's Fletcher watched with mild curiosity as parts of the Arrow's Flight begun to break up in the atmosphere, tiny pinpricks of light that briefly flared up as they punched through the invisible barrier around the planet.
The main bulk of the frigate was still held in gravity's strong grip and was settling into it's slow spiralling orbit. From this distance Fletcher couldn't tell how close the vessel was from meeting the same fate as its wreckage but the ships thrusters had long ago gone cold, only thing moving it now was the forces of nature.
From their hiding place the Arrow's Flight and its tiny pieces looked like children's toys to Fletcher and his crew, albeit toys the family dog had gotten a hold of. It was an almost sobering sight, even if Fletcher was the only on paying attention to it.
"No one's hailing us back" said Amir quietly from his seat behind Fletcher "Maybe the Covenant were more through than we thought?"
"Maybe some of the pods comm's equipment got knocked out when they tried to run?" replied Olympia, Fletcher could hear her tapping away at her control's trying to boost the Pelican's signal.
"If that's the case then no one's even going to find them, we don't have the manpower. Or the time" Amir's voice was tense. Either he didn't like being up in the black or he didn't like they idea of men and women choking to death with no help but the searing blast of a Seraph's plasma. Either way Fletcher hardly blamed him.
"Rest easy you two, we'll give it another couple of minutes and then i'll take us planet side. It's no like we're running out of oxygen"
Amir ran the signal again and the three of them waited with baited breath, if no one called this time then anyone stranded up here would be left for dead. The silent seconds ticked by, each one feeling like a little bit of eternity. Slowly Fletcher reached for the button to prime the thrusters.
"We got one" said Olympia suddenly "I got a response"
Amir was already thundering away at his control's trying to pin down the source. Fletcher kept his hand over the button, either they were about to be big damn hero's or they'd be running for the safety of the planet, relative safety at least.
"I got it, lifeboat Alpha Foxtrot Zero One Nine this is Pelican Alpha 002 do you copy"
The voice that followed Amir was deep and rich, even over the speakers it was certainly not the average marine. Fletcher let out a long breath of relief. He was hoping this would happen.
"I read you Alpha 002 thanks for the call out, my boats taken some hits and the crews dead. My oxygen is running low. Can you assist?"
Fletcher thumbed the thruster power and felt a judder run through the Pelican as they ignited, gripping the flight stick he slowly moved the dropship out of the cover of the wreckage.
"Rodger that lifeboat, we're on our way. Hang tight, we'll be there ASAP"
"If that who I think it is?" asked Olympia as she begun to scan for incoming seraph flights.
"I think so, I think we just found a Spartan" replied Amir, some of the breath seemed to have left his voice.
"Looks like we're about to be big damn hero's" said Fletcher as he cruised toward the lifeboat signal.
|2021 STANDARD TIME (UNSC STANDARD), 07 DEC 2551
Location: Pelican Alpha-003
There was deadly silent inside Alpha-003. No one dared draw a breath or answer the radio call from Alpha-002 right now. Mike slowly moved into the cockpit, accidentally kneeing the co-pilot in the leg. The pilot winced from the pain but forced himself to keep quiet. Mike looked out through the windows of the cockpit, barely catching a glimpse of the two Seraphs that circled through the debris. One of the alien fighters came swooping over the dropship before it broke off and left with its partner to scout out other areas. Mike, like everyone else in the dropship, sighed and sucked in a deep breath. They were safe for now. Mike turned to the co-pilot.
"Are Alpha-002 still calling?" He asked. The pilot nodded and began powering up some of the dropship's systems. When the radio had powered up he handed it to Mike.
"Alpha-002, this is Alpha-003 do you read?"
A moment went by before a male voice broke the silence. Back in the troop bay, a few excited voices could be heard cheering.
"This Alpha-002. We're reading you loud and clear, Alpha-003."
"This is Master Sergeant Mike Sanders. You have no idea how glad we're to hear you guys are still alive. What's your status, over?"
Just then did the pilot poke Sanders on the shoulder, drawing his attention away from the radio. Following where the pilot was pointing He spotted what could only be the engines of a Pelican dropship making its way through the debris.
"We're currently making our way to a lifeboat to pick up a Spartan."
A Spartan, what are the odds of that thought Sanders to himself before he turned back to the radio.
"Roger that. I think we see you Alpha-002, we're..." He looked at one of the screens on the dashboard that calculated the distance between the dropships. "four kilometers away from your current position." He looked at the two pilots.
"We should look for other lifeboats as well." The pilots nodded their agreement though they looked like they'd rather hightail it down to the planet below.
Sanders turned back to the radio.
"Alpha-002, we'll broadcast a signal as well and then we'll follow you down planet side."
"Roger that Alpha-003, see you planet side."
Sanders closed the channel and then tuned in on other frequencies used by the UNSC.
"This is Pelican dropship Alpha-003 if anyone is out there in need of help give us any signs and your coordinates and we'll try and get to you."
He then waited, no hoped for a response. That someone else were still alive out there before he and Alpha-002 went planet side.
Andromeda Vadum (29)
|2023 STANDARD TIME (UNSC STANDARD), 07 DEC 2551
Location: Lifeboat BDZ-06
David sat quietly watching the huge wreck of the Arrow Flight heading towards the planet when his receiver picks up communications from nearby UNSC comms.
"Flight Officer O'Hara, Pelican Alpha Zero-Zero-Two to all Arrow Flight life pods still in orbit. We're on-station and prepared to render assistance to anyone stranded, over."
Kyle peeked at the pilot, "Finally." The marines cheering in the background as the transmission finished up and another one sparked to life.
David looked to his left and saw the Seraph fighters circling the wreck like vultures - probably looking for any survivors. He had to act fast. Picking up the mic he flicked the switch on the receiver and placed the headset on his head, "Bravo-Delta-Zulu-Zero-Six to Alpha Zero-Zero-Two we hear you. Do you read?"
A moment of silence. The only thing that David could hear is the explosions in the background.
"...cant wait to get off this thing. Makes me claustrophobic..." Kyle starts off with a short story, catching the attention of the marines.
"Maybe we can get comms from another Pelican, then have it relayed somehow."
Then another channel opened up from a different Pelican. The voice was a male. "This is Pelican dropship Alpha-003 if anyone is out there in need of help give us any signs and your coordinates and we'll try and get to you."
"We can reach just about anyone. Get us out of here before we -" Kyle said flatly, trying his best to ignore David.
Suddenly the small pod shook violently. David checked his radar and observed a red dot coming from behind. "We got an enemy closing on our position." He quickly activated the comm and sent out a broadcast to all nearby pelicans, "Alpha Zero-Zero-Three! Anyone! Requesting immediate assistance! We got an enemy tailing us and we need backup!" He turned to Kyle and the marines, "Okay, lets try and shake them off long enough to have someone help."
"Without attracting more attention. One is enough of an issue."
|2028 STANDARD TIME (UNSC STANDARD), 07 DEC 2551
Location: Crash site of the Arrow Flight
[ Harald-077 ] "Hey, trooper! Get up!"
Jet woke with a massive headache. As he opened his eyes, he could see the green outline of the Spartan standing over him. He tried to sit up, but was overwhelmed by the unexpected pain throughout his body. He tried again, this time successfully.
[ Harald-077 ] "Jet, right?"
[ LCPL. Thompson ] "Huh?"
Jet looked around, and saw millions of jagged orange lines. He realized that he still had his VISR on, and shut it off. It was broad daylight—the light blinded Jet momentarily—and the jagged lines he saw were of the Arrow Flight, or at least the mangled remains of it.
[ Harald-077 ] "Your name. It's Jet, right?"
Jet looked back to the Spartan, who didn't look injured at all. Jet unpolarized his visor, thinking that it would be best if the Spartan could see the man behind the ODST suit. The Spartan didn't bother to do anything similar.
[ LCPL. Thompson ] "Yeah, Lance Corporal Jet Thompson."
[ Harald-077 ] "Well, Lance Corporal Jet Thompson, you okay? Able to move?"
[ LCPL. Thompson ] "What are you? A doctor? Of course I'm—"
Jet cursed in pain as he tried to get up. His leg wasn't broken, but it sure hurt like hell. He stood up despite his nerves telling him not to, and reached for his gun on his back.
[ LCPL. Thompson ] "I'll... I'll be fine. Just need to walk it off."
He looked down to check his ammo counter, and immediately noticed that the screen was black, with a large scratch across it. Guess it got damaged in the crash. Luckily, it appeared as if the rest of the gun was still in working order, with only a few minor scratches here and there. He pulled out his pistol to check it, and it appeared undamaged. Not a single scratch.
Then he noticed that he was missing something much more important.
[ LCPL. Thompson ] "My belt! It must've come off in the crash!"
[ Harald-077 ] "What? Afraid your pants will fall down?"
[ LCPL. Thompson ] "Very funny. It was my explosives belt. Frags, flashbangs, breaching charges, foaming explosives—all gone."
[ Harald-077 ] "Real smart keeping everything in one place."
[ LCPL. Thompson ] "Ease of access. Can you help me find it?"
[ Harald-077 ] "Your belt could literally be anywhere in this scrap yard. Probably not in one piece either."
Jet let out a sigh, which made his chest hurt. He made sure not to show it though.
[ LCPL. Thompson ] "Well, I at least have both guns, my knife, and..."
He paused as he opened one of his chest pouches, pulling out Hope's tags.
[ LCPL. Thompson ] "These."
[ Harald-077 ] "Tags? Really?"
[ LCPL. Thompson ] "Hey! They're special, okay?"
Jet put the tags away and loaded one of his few remaining magazines into his rifle.
[ Harald-077 ] "We have to move; those Covenant most definitely saw the ship go down, and I sure don't want to be waiting around when they show up."
[ LCPL. Thompson ] "Why would the elites come here?"
[ Harald-077 ] "Well, let's see. We never scuttled the ship...the NAV data was never erased...a good portion of the crew might have escaped...they saw where we crashed and...actually that's about it. Oh, I forgot to mention Alfred."
Where did I hear that name before? Alfred...
Then it hit him.
[ LCPL. Thompson ] "Fuck, the AI isn't accounted for?"
[ Harald-077 ] "Yeah."
The nature of the Spartan's response, short with no added details, caught Jet by surprise. He wasn't used to working alongside someone who got to the point as quick as possible. He polarized his visor to hide his expression. He couldn't tell if the Spartan noticed or not.
[ LCPL. Thompson ] "One other thing: How did we survive the crash?"
[ Harald-077 ] "You don't remember? Think about it."
Jet thought back to the reactor room. He remembered seeing the Spartan tackle him to the ground, and shielding him from shrapnel. His presence also restricted Jet's movement, turning what could have been a crazy, literally backbreaking ride into no different than a standard drop. And obviously an ODST could survive a drop; it's what they trained for. What they're known for.
[ LCPL. Thompson ] "Guess I owe you one, Spartan. If we make it out of here alive, I'll be sure to buy you a drink."
[ Harald-077 ] "Yeah—no thanks."
[ LCPL. Thompson ] "You sure? 'Cause Crest has some pretty good—"
[ Harald-077 ] "Thompson! Shut up and get moving. They're here."
Jet quieted down as the Spartan so kindly suggested. Over the crackle of fire he could most certainly make out the sound of Spirit thrusters, although the rising smoke prevented him from figuring out where it was coming from.
Harald indicated to Jet to move towards a nearby treeline (or what was a treeline), while he provided overwatch. Jet nodded in response and ran—more like limped quickly—through the smoke. When he reached the burnt trees, he took a quick glance back towards Harald, only to find out that the Spartan was gone.
Jet was alone.
Timothy Emeigh (31)
|2017 STANDARD TIME (UNSC STANDARD), 07 DEC 2551
Location: Alpha-001 Landing Site
Looking up from her work on the comms, Aleksandra caught the first glimpse of the Arrow Flight streaking overhead. As its shadow darkened the ground nearby, Sasha caught the trail of Covenant dropships following closely behind. Turning to a few of the Marines behind her, she called out to them:
[ LCDR. Zaytseva ] "Private, Corporal, Sergeant. You three are with me, we're checking out the wreck. The rest of you, get the comms working and get ready to support us in the Pelican. My copilot should be able to fly you out there if things get rough."
Turning back around, Sasha slung her rifle over her shoulder, adjusted the straps on her gear, and headed out, calling to the marines to break into a brisk jog. Several minutes later, the ground rumbled, and Sasha knew that the frigate had crash, seeming to be at least half a kilometer away still.
Jogging for another few minutes, the small group had made it about a kilometer and a half before spotting the first sign of the crash. Dropping to a cautious march, Sasha shouldered her rifle, slowly making it through the pieces of the wreck.
[ LCDR. Zaytseva ] "Private, watch our six. Corporal, Sergeant, keep an eye on our flanks. Staggered line formation. I don't want to be surprised, so keep an eye out, and keep it quiet."
With that, the Marines behind her clicked an affirmative through the comms, slowly working their way through the crash, fires still raging besides them, rifles raised. On her HUD, Sasha's chronometer showed 2029, twelve minutes after they had first seen the ship crashing and four since it had touched down and they started their run. If there were any survivors, the marines would have to find them quickly, especially with the Covenant who were undoubtedly exploring the crash as well. While the quartet hadn't run into any of the aliens yet, the Spirits they had seen following the crash indicated that there were Covenant soldiers around, somewhere.
Yet, even after another minute through the smoky crash, Sasha hadn't seen a single living being, human or alien. Gesturing towards the treeline, the three marines followed her command, making their way through the wreck towards the indication of some form of vegetation. If anyone had survived, that would be where they went. Approaching slowly, rifle raised, Sasha turned a corner around a piece of the wreckage and made her way into the burning clump of trees. Passing through the smoke, a dark shape passed in front of her, alone. Swinging her rifle towards the target, Sasha indicated the group come to a halt, letting the figure advance and the smoke to clear. In front of her, she watched, breath held, as the shape broke through the haze. Stepping slowly through the trees, the black armor of the ODST came into view as Sasha lowered her rifle. It seems they had found a survivor.
Amir was just pulling Fletcher's borrowed, vac-sealed helmet over his own head when the pilot started repeating a single, whispered swear.
"They've picked one up," the pilot announced, eyes flicking between a sensor screen and Pelican's canopy.
"The second pod." Fletcher replied. "They must've broadcast an open signal."
"Can we assist?" Amir asked, pushing his way to the com station. Moving had become almost impossible in the already cramped cockpit since, preparing to open the hatch and pull in a Spartan, the UNSC servicemen without vac-suits had crowded in. Pushing uncomfortably close past the hangar dispatch officer, he managed it nonetheless, just in time for Fletcher to confirm what Amir saw.
"No, they're too far out for us to be there in time," the pilot said, looking up to spy one particular object floating in the debris, its metal skin shorn open, "not if we're busy playing hero over here."
Amir wanted to remind him the last few years of UNSC poster campaigns painted the Spartans as the heroes, and heroes usually died fighting, and he would be perfectly happy being the chauffeur who got to fly away when the hero was dropped off, but it was a lot to say in time the Bumblebee's passengers didn't have.
"It's up to Alpha Three, then..." Amir grumbled regretfully. "And it may be more than they can handle, if that scout calls home. Are we sure there aren't any other assets still here?"
His gaze drifted up to the co-pilot, Domaska, who sneered when she caught it, thinking he'd directed his doubt at her. "We swept everything with that direct line. We're all that's up here."
"That's... not totally true."
Amir was surprised to hear the hesitant voice pipe up so close behind him. Turning, he saw the hangar coordinator's eyes staring timidly up from beneath a bowed head.
"The direct line," she explained, as both Amir's and Domaska's eyes fell on her, "you said you bounced it off a COM buoy. Couldn't you send an open distress signal from that?"
"A decoy." Fletcher stated, understanding, as he threw a grin back over his shoulder at them. "Can you pull it off, Chief?"
Amir swiveled back to the COM station. "I'd have it done already if I'd thought of it, Fletch."
It didn't take much effort at all. Their connection to the buoy already established, all Amir had to do was command the tiny satellite to readjust its broadcast from direct line to an open channel. In half a moment, the buoy began shouting through electromagnetic waves, for all radio detection sounding to a Covenant predator like the finest prey--scared, wounded, and large. Any other Covenant ships prowling the wreckage would hear it and make a beeline, leaving the Pelicans and drop pods clear--except, perhaps, for the one already on the other Bumblebee's tail, and Alpha-003 would have to deal with that. Amir and 002 had their own task ahead.
"Alright," Amir said, pushing back to the bulkhead between the cockpit and troop bay. He joined a pair of Marines with vac-sealed helmets on the other side. "Wish me luck."
"Good luck." Fletcher humored him, and Amir sealed the cockpit's airtight door shut. Now, with the pilot getting them in position, they'd have to get the Spartan aboard.
Hearing the fading hiss of the bay depressurizing, Amir waited patiently until the air had been withdrawn, and pulled the lever to open the troop bay's door, exposing those within to open space. As the life pod came into his view, he relayed a message through the Pelican's direct beam.
"Still there, Sierra? We're gonna pull the pod in with our magnetic clamp. Then you should be able to jump aboard, over."
The Pale Kestrl (33)
"Still there, Sierra? We're gonna pull the pod in with our magnetic clamp. Then you should be able to jump aboard, over."
Russell stood over the flight console, one hand braced against the wall. Silently he thanked whatever had brought this wayward Pelican his way. He didn't much relish the idea of sucking on vacuum when his suits air supply finally gave out.
"Sitting pretty Alpha 002, waiting for your green light to pop the hatch"
Turning from the lifeboat's cockpit the Spartan readied to disembark. He'd already stripped the dead marines of as much gear as he could carry, as well as their tags. Chances of getting the bodies out for their graves would be a waste of time no one could afford. It was a cold though, one Russell had learned a long time ago to simply ignore. Dead bodies aren't worth living ones.
Gripping one of the overhead handholds the dull green statue stood silently, to any outsider it would seem as though the spartan had met the same fate as his companions. Suddenly there was a loud bang on the top of the hull and the lifeboat rocked slightly as the Pelican's rear clamp latched to the top side hull of the escape pod.
"Sierra, were attached. Time to come aboard" the voice quickly buzzed through his helmets' comm link.
Without a word Russell stepped forward and thumbed the rear door release, it slid open smoothly. There was no great rush of air or the crushing feeling of open space, all air and atmosphere had long since vented.
Seizing up the jump between the two craft Russell took one half step back and put both of his hands on the door frame. In one swift motion he pulled himself from the lifeboat and floated gently over to the Pelican. Inside the dropship where two marines and some kind of navy officer, they looked unsure of what they should do.
As soon as he reached the dropship he activated his mag-boots, anchoring him to the floor. The two marines immediately saluted and Russell humoured them by returning it. The navy officer meanwhile had already made his way to the door controls, hitting the button the doors slowly slid shut. As soon as they were airtight the troop bay soon begun to fill with oxygen.
As soon as it was safe to do so, both the marines and the navy officer removed their helmets. In what he hoped was show of solidarity Russell removed his as well. He turned to the officer, reading his tag as Amir, Josef. The Arrow Flight's deck chief.
"Man are you a sight for sore eyes spartan" he said, he looked at the spartan as if we wasn't sure what kind of protocol he was meant to follow.
"What's our situation chief, you lot still on search and rescue?" asked Russell, hoping to focus the man.
"Negative spartan, we're headed planetside. We've been up here too long as is"
As if on command the engines of the Pelican came to life and the subtle shift in g-force indicated the dropship was moving off at speed. Amir begun to move back toward the cockpit as a group of marines streamed out, Russell followed.
"What's the situation down on the ground?"
Amir took his place at the side console, for a while he was silent. Then he shook his head.
"Not a clue spartan, so far as we know only a handful of Pelican's made it off the Arrow's Flight and we have no way of knowing if any of them have survived. For now, we're all in the dark."
The Zealot sat patiently, his head lowered as he prayed. Jul shifted impatiently, his deformed body moving out of synch with his head. His eyes were squinted shut, obviously unsuited to the bright lights of the prayer room. He fiddled with his goggles in his hand, obviously resisting the urge to put them on despite the forbiddance of armor or gear within the room.
And yet still he fiddled, turning it in his hands over and over incessantly, the goggles clinking each time he did. The Zealot had to resist the urge to lash out and strike him down, reminding himself that the Jackal was still a valuable asset despite his extreme deformity. Still, the Elite was at the end of his wit.
He turned to the Jackal, his jaws curved in a murderous scowl. The hunchback gulped, sensing the anger in his leader’s voice.
“Sir, I did not….mean to…”
The Zealot growled, cutting him off.
“I will need a personal vehicle when we land. Ready a Kraken.”
The Jackal hesitated, obviously not quite processing the order. He turned his goggles over once more, clanking. The Zealot could handle it no longer. He stood up, turning around and staring straight at the Jackal, his eyes aflame.
One of the few benefits Juk’s deformities afforded him was increased height. The demented mass of flesh and bone towered over others of his kind. And yet, in the dark purple of the room, the Zealot seemed a giant, and the Jackal a mere animal, cowering at his legs, pleading to not be punished. He pointed for the Jackal to leave, extending his claw towards the door. Juk gulped one last time and nodded, hobbling off, the door opening and closing automatically as his twisted legs carried him out as fast as they could take him.
The Zealot sighed, turning back to the console. He took a kneel and waited patiently as he had been doing before. He allowed his eyes to trace the room around him, seeing the various paintings across the walls. The room, small as it was, contained the entire history of the Covenant within it. Granted, it was a heavily abridged and sometimes embellished history, but it did just fine for meditation. The Zealot traced the length of it, from the First War with the glorious Prophets, to the Taming of the Hunters, all the way to the holy war with the humans.
He would find himself on that wall, one way or another.
Timothy Emeigh (35)
|2020 STANDARD TIME (UNSC STANDARD), 07 DEC 2551
Location: Alpha-001 Landing Site
Three minutes after Sasha had left, and her copilot was sitting in the cockpit, fiddling with the comms. The engineer they had managed to get on their dropship had been working on the internals since they landed, and said that it should be working by now. Flipping through the channels again, he still found nothing.
[Copilot] "You sure you've got it patched up? I'm still getting nothing in here, and I don't like the idea of sitting around in the middle of an open field without at least the chance to call for backup."
[Engineer] "I'll look again, but I can't seem to find anything I haven't patched back up. I'll let you know if anything else is found."
Sighing, Sasha's copilot removed his harness, standing up. Walking into the back, the young ensign look around the troop bay, checking the cargo they had managed to get onto the Pelican. A few extra rifles, several ammo cans, and several tanks of fuel. From what he could tell, they could probably make it last a few days, if they were stuck on their own, less with the fighting they were most likely going to be facing soon. All the more reason to get the comms back online. In order to survive, they needed to pool their supplies with whatever the other Pelicans managed to grab before launching.
Walking back into the cockpit, the ensign sat down again, strapping in. Tapping at the comms again, he heard a burst of a transmission come through, before the speakers faded to static.
"...-station and prepared to render assistance to anyone..."
[Copilot] "Whatever you just did out there, it worked. I got a fragment on the UNSC channels, and we're getting static now, rather than nothing. I'll see if I can clear it up. Good job."
Reaching towards the comms, he fiddled with the frequency, working the clear the static. Just as he cleared up the static, he heard something else catch his attention, before a shadow passed over them. Looking up, the ensign's heart sank as he saw the distinct shapes of Covenant dropships pass overhead, traveling towards the wreck. Shutting down the comms, he waited, only the sound of silence filling the area as everyone stood still, watching as the dropships continued past. Sitting there until the shapes grew to small dots in the sky further away, the ensign finally released his breath, slowly switching the comms back on a few minutes later.
Looking out the cockpit, he saw the marines outside move from their defensive positions around the Pelican and continue their work, albeit more alert this time. He saw that, in the time he had been examining the cargo they had, the marines had managed to get a few portable barriers set up, creating a nice little defensive square around the dropship, though he wasn't sure how long it'd last against a Covenant strike force.
Suddenly, as if just thinking the idea had brought it about, he saw one of the dots get bigger again. It seemed the Covenant had actually spotted them. His heart sank again, and, realizing that he couldn't trust not being seen to survive anymore, he thumbed the comms, blasting out a message over the UNSC channels.
[Copilot] "All UNSC forces in the system. This is Pelican Alpha ZE-RO ZE-RO WUN. We have a Covenant dropship on approach, with several more in the area. Requesting any and all reinforcements available. I repeat, requesting any and all reinforcements available. If you an hear me, please send support. We have made landfall on the installation outside of what appears to be a settlement, and have been making repairs to our Pelican. We do not have enough supplies or men to hold out for long. Once again, we request any and all reinforcements."
Thumbing the microphone off, he settled into his seat, activating the chain gun, and prepped his bird for a quick takeoff if necessary. Spotting the Covenant ship land a good distance away, he settled in, anxiously waiting for both the aliens' approach and any response he might get from the other UNSC forces who heard him.
|2028 STANDARD TIME (UNSC STANDARD), 07 DEC 2551
Location: Derelict field, Alpha-003
"Shit!" The pilot growled as he ripped off his headset from his head as it was bombarded with noise.
"Looks like someone is blasting away on all possible channels somewhere." The pilot rubbed one of his ears with a finger, trying to get rid of the ringing in his ears.
"One of ours?" Asked Sanders as tried to push his way further into the cramped cockpit. The pilot shrugged before replying.
If it is one of ours, then they have on hell of a death wish." He then looked back over his shoulder to Sanders. "That kind of noise is differently going to attract the covies attention."
Sanders kept silent, contemplating the situation. They had to save that lifeboat somehow but that could potentially put everyone on Alpha-003 in danger as well.
Sanders barely managed to spot a trail of light moving away from the lifeboat's last stated position. He guessed it must have been a Seraph due to the tail of light it left in its wake.
"Looks like the covenant is looking into that noise." Mumbled Sanders more to himself than anything.
"Yeah, maybe this is our chance to get the Lifeboat?" The pilot replied. Sanders hummed to himself.
"Well... We won't get a better chance than this so let's get rolling." Sanders clapped the pilot on his shoulder who shot him a confident smile before his pushed the dropship into a slow trust before it quickly accelerated.
It didn't take long for Alpha-003 to reach the last known coordinates of the lifeboat even when its pilot to travel as stealthy as possible given the situation and the that they were maybe the only hope for everyone inside the lifeboat.
Sanders scanned the surrounding derelict field through the reinforced windows, hoping to spot anything that could be their rescue target.
"Over there!" Called out the co-pilot who pointed at distant sparks of light that most likely was the glows from the plasma bolts. The pilot nodded.
"Roger that." He turned the dropship toward the short bursts of plasma fire.
"Let's get a closer look and see what we're up against."
With that, the pilot fired up the thrusters and forced the ship to drift towards the one-sided fight.
As the got closer the co-pilot began checking his scanners. He hummed to himself before making a click sound with his tongue.
"Seems like we're in luck guys. It's too small to be a Seraph."
That means that's it's a Banshee Intercepter right?" Asked Sanders, He wasn't really that knowledgeful on what they called the Banshees that could only operate in space. The pilot nodded with a sly grin.
"That's right sergeant, which means that this will be an easy target for us." The pilot began typing away on his keyboards and flipping switches, preparing the ship for combat.
" You should go get yourself strapped in, sergeant, this might could still get rough if we don't take him out from the beginning." The pilot advised.
Sanders gave a grunt of affirmative and headed for the troop bay to strap himself in.
Back in the cockpit could Petty Officer Second Class Owen Gardner finally feel much more comfortable with the Master Sergeant back inside the blood tray. Shaking his head left and right to make his neck pop he prepared himself to take the covie fighter with its pants down in one fell swoop.
"Simon, can you try using the short-range radio to get in touch with the lifeboat?"
Simon was quickly on it, hailing the lifeboat that hopelessly tried to dodge the plasma fire that slowly burned away its metal hull into the hollow interior where an untold number of helpless men and women could only pray for rescue.
Pushing the thrusters to their limits as the lifeboat and Banshee speed by, Owen then pulled all brakes on the pelican, skillfully turning the Pelican around to face the rear of the banshee.
Owen quickly dressed down on the trigger of his twin-linked 40mm chain guns, spitting out streams of death at the Banshee fighter. Many shots shot wide but the rest hit home, quickly tearing through the weak energy shield and then cutting through the rear armor. The engine on the left exploded in a shower of metal and ignited fuel. The banshee spun out of control until it hit a large piece of derelict, exploding on impact.
Owen and Simon roared their cry of victory over the ship's speakers and they could hear the troops back in the bay cheer them on.
"Alright, that's enough men!" Yelled Sanders over the cheers. " we aren't out of this yet and we still got to get everyone from that boat in here." The cheers died down and Sanders continued in a lower but still commanding voice.
"Pilot hail the boat and tell them to prepare to get on board." He then turned to everyone else. "The rest of you get some vacuum suits on. There should be some under the seats. If there aren't enough for everyone those who don't have one have to get comfortable inside the cockpit with the pilots!" a round of affirmative came around from everyone.
Owen signed to himself, he didn't like having all those people inside his working space but he didn't really have a choice in the matter, right? He was saving people from choking to death after all. Resigning himself to get uncomfortable again he opens a short-range signal to the boat.
"This is Petty Officer Second Class Owen Gardner of Alpha-Zero-Zero-Three, standby, we're going to attach your boat to our ship. We'll lower the back ramp and you 'll have to make a short jump between the ramp and your boat. Over"
|2032 STANDARD TIME (UNSC STANDARD), 07 DEC 2551
Location: Crash site of the Arrow Flight
Three Spirit dropships in an inverted vee emerged from the smoke. Harald instinctively shifted under a bent piece of metal, which appeared to be part of the floor in the reactor room. He heard the thrusters as the dropships flew past, but they didn't completely leave. His motion tracker indicated that the three large, red dots stopped moving.
Harald peered out from around the edge of his little metal cave, and spotted the three dropships. They were hovering above a small clearing in the middle of the wreckage. A few squads worth of grunts and jackals hopped out of the two front dropships, accompanied by four elite minors, a major, two hunters, and an engineer from the rear ship.
The engineer's presence indicated that the Covvies were searching for something, possibly related to the NAV data.
Protocol dictates that they cannot, under any circumstance, get that data.
And although Harald could probably take on the force alone, he most definitely wouldn't walk away from it without injury or wasted ammo. He looked back towards the treeline that he sent Thompson to, but didn't see him through the smoke.
Great. Where could that trooper have wandered off to?
He ejected his rifle's magazine and checked it for ammo. Although he had an ammo counter on both the rifle and his HUD, he wanted to ensure that he wasn't walking into a fight with an empty gun. The magazine was nearly full, so he stored it and grabbed a fresh one to use. Loading the new magazine into the rifle, he could hear the elites grunting orders at their subordinates.
He heard a piece of scrap metal shift behind him. Instinctively, he turned and brought his gun up to the approaching hostile. Only... it wasn't hostile.
[ LCPL. Thompson ] "Don't shoot."
At least the trooper was smart enough to whisper.
[ Harald-077 ] "What are you doing here? I told you to go."
[ LCPL. Thompson ] "I brought friends."
The trooper shifted to reveal three marines and a pilot behind him. Harald didn't recognize any of them, but that was to be expected. The group moved into concealment, ensuring that the large Covenant recon team didn't spot them.
[ Harald-077 ] "I thought you were wounded."
[ LCPL. Thompson ] "Still am. Pain's killing me, but I'm not gonna back down from a fight."
[ Harald-077 ] "I gave you an order, and you disobeyed it."
He heard one of the hunters shove a large piece of ship out of the way of the team's path. They were getting closer.
[ LCPL. Thompson ] "Wouldn't be the first time. Plus, nonverbal orders can be interpreted differently."
[ Harald-077 ] "That doesn't mean anything. I told you to leave. To get out of here."
[ LCDR. Zaytseva ] "And then I told him to go back for you. You should be thanking him."
The Covenant search party was almost right on top of them. There were only a few more seconds, at most, until one of the elites discovered them.
[ Harald-077 ] "I'm sorry, but who is she?"
[ LCDR. Zaytseva ] "Right now? Your superior officer."
[ Harald-077 ] "My apologies, ma'am. But right now—"
He felt the rubble he was leaning on shift out from behind him.
[ Sangheili Major ] "We found you, Demon."
Andromeda Vadum (38)
|2039 STANDARD TIME (UNSC STANDARD), 07 DEC 2551
Location: Derelict field, Lifeboat BDZ-06
A dozen plasma bolts were racing across David’s view as he attempted to shake off the Banshee fighter behind them. He could see an object speeding towards their direction, something like – A pelican!
“We’re in luck boys!”
The banshee was firing on them, and Kyle could already smell burning metal as the hulls was burning away.
“Faster David! Faster!” Kyle exclaimed. The marine’s cheerful faces turned to fear as they knew their impending doom was upon them.
David could see the Pelican head behind them, followed by the sound of gunfire. Moments later they heard what sounded like the propulsion of the jet engine following an explosion. A group of cheers came from the marines in the bay of the lifeboat. David put two fingers to his helmet when his speaker mic blared, "This is Petty Officer Second Class Owen Gardner of Alpha-Zero-Zero-Three, standby, we're going to attach your boat to our ship. We'll lower the back ramp and you 'll have to make a short jump between the ramp and your boat. Over"
"Copy Owen Gardner of Alpha-Zero-Zero-Three." He turned to the rest of his crew. "Vacuum suites on! Now!"
Kyle and the marines reached behind their chairs and pulled out vacuum suites. They disengaged the safety harness, raised it up, and stood. Kyle was relieved to be standing again as the blood was now circulating through his body.
David steered the lifeboat on a steady course and engaged the auto pilot.
All marines, including Kyle, had their vacuum suites on. Kyle pushed the emergency hatch button, opening the hatch. He was expecting a rush of air to suck them all out, but none came, just the coldness of space itself. The Pelicans ramp was now extended and each marine jumped out of the lifeboat and onto the Pelican.
David caught up to Kyle and gave him a thumbs up, "When we get to that planet." He thumbed over his shoulder, "You'll have plenty of things to blow up."
"I'll be sure of it." He said with an amused smirk.
Kyle and David jumped together and landed onto the Pelicans metallic surface. They both got up, bracing themselves on whatever they could grab to keep balance.
The Pale Kestrl (39)
With a gentle flick of his controls Fletcher brought his Pelican alongside a piece of debris torn from the Arrow's Flight early in the battle. It had long since cooled from the plasma that had ripped it free and was now slowly orbiting away from the battle zone. Hopefully no Covenant patrols will be sniffing this far out, thought Fletcher as he set the dropship into low power mode once again. It never hurt to be safe.
Flicking on the comm link to the troop bay behind him Fletcher reported "I've got us hidden for now, but I give it under an hour before the air in here starts tasting like sweat. Wouldn't mind making a move before then."
In the back the surviving marines and Amir's deck staff stood with Russell, each internally debating what exactly was going to happen now. On each of their faces the Spartan could see them wrestling with something, the people lost, the chances of rescue or their own dwindling chances of lasting that long. They needed direction, something to focus their attention on before it was too late.
With his helmet still off Russell placed it down on one of the seats next to him, it was the first time he'd properly moved since they had moved into the back and it seemed to grab their attention.
"We need to head down to the planet, regroup with any survivors that made it off the Flight. How many Pelicans did you say made it out of the hanger?"
Amir, who was looking a little better without his environment suit looked up at Russell as if he hadn't even noticed the Spartan was standing there. Blinking a few times he looked up at him and replied.
"About six I think, it was hard to keep track of everything towards the end."
"That's good" replied Russell with a nod, happy to see the marines on his right begin to focus "If they've had the same luck we've had then they might have made it to ground."
"And then what" asked one of the deck crew, she was sat to Russell's left looking down at the floor.
Russell struggled to find the words he needed to give her hope. The choice of giving up just wasn't a part of him anymore, he'd fight even if it wasn't an option. It was all he really knew how to do.
"I don't know" he instantly regretted his choice of words and tried to change tactics "But maybe someone down there does and even if they don't we have to try."
They were terrible words but it seemed the sentiment had broke through, she looked up at him as if he had more to say. All he could do was give her a smile, she smiled back but Russell couldn't tell if it had helped.
Suddenly Fletcher's voice broke over the comm link again, breaking the awkward tension in the wake of Russell's speech.
"I think I've got something, patching it through."
"All UNSC forces in the system. This is Pelican Alpha ZE-RO ZE-RO WUN. We have a Covenant dropship on approach, with several more in the area. Requesting any and all reinforcements available. I repeat, requesting any and all reinforcements available. If you an hear me, please send support. We have made landfall on the installation outside of what appears to be a settlement, and have been making repairs to our Pelican. We do not have enough supplies or men to hold out for long. Once again, we request any and all reinforcements."
The voice was steady but clearly panicked but for Russell it was a purpose, it might as well have been an order. He looked at Amir, deferring to the man who technically held the highest rank. The Deck Chief nodded back.
"Fletcher, take us into that single. Time to link up"
"Rodger dodger chief, ETA thirty minutes. Olympia'll let em know we're on the way"
KingOfYou115/Timothy Emeigh (40)
|2034 STANDARD TIME (UNSC STANDARD), 07 DEC 2551
Location: Crash site of the Arrow Flight
[ Sangheili Major ] "We found you, demon."
Both sides brought their guns to bear.
[ LCPL. Thompson ] "You know, I feel insulted that only a major was sent to kill us. I would've assumed that we were more valuable."
[ Sangheili Major ] "You stay out of this. This is about the Demon, not you."
[ Harald-077 ] "Then I feel insulted."
Without hesitation, the major swung its rifle at the Spartan, smashing what passes as a stock on plasma weaponry into the Spartan's side. Harald almost instantaneously grabbed the rifle and spun it around, pointing it towards the major with a finger hovering over the trigger.
[ Harald-077 ] "Wrong move."
Thompson and the others backed off as the two Hunters smashed their shields into the ground, forming a wall between them and Harald. The Sangheili shouted something in his native tongue, with only a few words recognizable by Jet.
But that was all he needed.
He backed into cover to avoid the incoming plasma. If his whole left side didn't hurt like hell, he would've been able to dodge the spray and make a push towards Harald.
Zaytseva looked out of their cover, spotting another dropship dropping off its troops. She raised her rifle, taking a few shots at them.
[ LCDR. Zaytseva ] "More Covvies incoming. Seems they really want this wreck."
[ LCPL. Thompson ] "Well, let's not stick around to be the welcome party."
The trooper attempted to fire a few bursts at the Hunters to form an opening in their line, but they remained completely still.
[ LCPL. Thompson ] "Anyone got a grenade?"
The private ducked from the incoming fire. He tossed a frag grenade to Jet, who almost failed to catch it.
Let's hope this works.
Jet put his rifle down to free up both hands. He pulled the pin on the grenade, waited a second, and then tossed the grenade at one of the Hunters with the arm that hurt the least.
The Hunter smacked the grenade away, but in the process created an opening in their wall. Jet picked his rifle back up and started picking off grunts on the far side. The rest of the marines quickly copied him, using the new opening to their advantage, even if it was only temporary. The Hunter sidestepped back into place, sealing the gap again.
[ LCPL. Thompson ] "Well, it was worth a shot."
A few more moments of exchanging fire ticked by, followed by Harald using one of the Hunters as a stepping stool to get over their shield wall. The Spartan leaped off of the Hunter's head, landing in between Jet and the private. The Spartan had both his own rifle and that of the major's in his hands, which he immediately put to use by turning around towards the line and firing.
The Hunter, outraged that it was used as a ladder, charged up a fuel rod shot aimed at the Spartan. Harald ran towards Jet's cover, narrowly avoiding the splash damage that impacted the ground where he was just standing. The private wasn't so lucky, being thrown off of his feet and smashing into a hanging piece of metal before returning to the ground again with a big thud.
[ LCPL. Thompson ] "Ooo... that's gotta hurt."
[ LCDR. Zaytseva ] "We gotta move, now!"
Jet knew what she was talking about. Over the horizon, two wings worth of Spirits and Phantoms accelerated straight towards them.
[ Harald-077 ] "Thompson, I'll cover you."
Both the ODST and the Spartan emerged from their cover, with Jet using the Spartan's power armor as a shield. The Spartan fired off at the approaching Covenant as the team pulled back to the private's landing spot. Sasha was halfway through reaching down for the private when Jet interrupted.
[ LCPL. Thompson ] "I'll carry him, just cover me."
He put his rifle on his back and got down on his knee next to the badly-injured marine.
[ LCDR. Zaytseva ] "You're wounded. You'll never make it out of here carrying him!"
[ LCPL. Thompson ] "Would you rather the injured trooper be the one trying to provide covering fire?"
[ LCDR. Zaytseva ] "Suppose not. Just get moving."
She unslung her rifle again, taking out a few advancing grunts and providing some more covering fire. Jet pulled the private up and over his shoulder and started limping toward the treeline he was supposed to go to originally. The team quickly followed. Plasma flew over his head, but instead of panicking him it only made him more determined to get out of there.
[ LCPL. Thompson ] "Where'd you park?"
[ LCDR. Zaytseva ] "A few kilometers away. But we need to lose these guys before going back there. Just keep going straight, through the trees, for now."
The plasma fire slowed down, but was still far from dying out completely. Jet could hear explosions behind him, most likely from the fuel rod cannons mounted on the Hunters' arms.
[ Harald-077 ] "Where is everyone else? You the only ones who made it off the ship?"
[ LCDR. Zaytseva ] "Don't know. Comms got hit trying to get out of the hangar. Anything else you feel would be a good thing to ask right now?"
The ground shook slightly as a fuel rod impacted the dirt right in front of Jet. The trooper kept his balance and continued on towards the trees. The plasma fire at this point had almost completely stopped, but Jet didn't risk slowing down.
[ LCPL. Thompson ] "Uhh, yeah. Just one though. The wreckage is filled with Covvies and we're surrounded by large expanses of tall grass. Where are we possibly going to set up a base, if there are any survivors?