|This article, Halo: The Lost, is currently under active construction.|
|This article, Halo: The Lost, was written by Ajax 013. Please do not edit this fiction without the writer's permission.|
Halo: The Lost follows Ajax 013, one of the last of the SPARTANS and those caught in his bloody wake as he storms across the galaxy paving a road to victory with covenant corpses.
Chapter 0: Nightmare
Ajax rolled with the explosion, hitting the wall hard. The ODST unit tried to cover the exit valiantly but overwhelming forces of the brutes where cutting them off. Ajax rose up, a spike round ricocheting off his armour as he did. He pulled the shotgun from his back and began to fire, the buckshot shredding one of them to pieces. He quickly moved forward to the exit held by the ODST when an explosion in front of him sent him hurtling backwards. He doubled up in pain on the floor, gripping a piece of shrapnel imbedded in his body suit between his armour plating. A heavy foot was placed upon his chest, stopping him from rising up. He smiled at the gruesome excuse of a sentient being.
“Step off ape” he rasped maliciously
He was kicked hard in his wound. He then rolled with the kick, further away from his enemy. He then picked up an item from the pack of a downed ODST and smiled wickedly. They didn’t know what was about to hit them. It was a ball shaped object, mostly steel blue but with a blue light glowing faintly from within. He pressed the activation button and threw it into the midst of the brutes before leaping clear. There was a sudden pop noise and a mighty shockwave blew out, annihilating or injuring the brutes caught within its deadly grasp. The Brutes still came at him with deadly abandon, one, a smaller one covered in thick armour plating, almost like one of the old elite rangers, launched a kick into his gut then a alternate flying kick to his head, bowling him over. Another scissor kick was aimed for his head but he quickly put up both his arms in defence, blocking the blow between his wrists then grabbing its leg and twisting, throwing them down and delivering a bone shattering blow to their gut before being kicked off as his enemy leapt back up from their back and came back onto the attack, narrow missing his head as he ducked from another spin kick then launched one into his injury, sending him stumbling back and cringing in pain. He then looked up from his wound in time to see the double kick but not in time to defend and was knocked right back down. His attacker loomed over him but suddenly stumbled to the side as Sergeant Major Frank Zenna suddenly tackled them, bowling them over but was simple picked up and thrown against a wall, leaving a dint after impact and stirring on the floor, his visor cracked from the blow. A brute chieftain caught up with his protégé and smiled at Ajax.
“Finish the demon.” He barked, handing it a plasma sword.
It came on with a buzz, casting a ghastly glow across the enemy. He frowned inside his helmet but laughed at his only plan to cheat death again. He then swept their legs and rolled for his shotgun, picking it up and preparing to fire on his enemy. Another Brute, leaping from the raised up areas to his right suddenly tackled him, knocking his shotgun away again then trying to beat him to a pulp when Ajax drew his combat knife and lodged in its neck, spraying him with its foul blood. He kicked off its body to see his enemy rise their sword, ready to strike. Ajax was left in no shape to fight, his green armour dinted, scorched, punctured and covered in his and his enemy’s blood. He looked to the Brute and whistled a simple little tune he learned as a child and had never forgotten, no Spartan had. His enemy swept the blade unremorsefully. A round object hit the floor, rolling slightly on its top.
The ODSTs looked on, slightly in horror and disbelief, SPARTANS can’t be killed. But it changed as the fog of war lifted, the smoke draping the hall from the explosions lifted. The ODSTs couldn’t think of what to make of it but the Brutes where shocked and showed their disdain of this action with great battle cries as they charged, maddened.
Chapter 1: The beginning
Elise whipped the tears from her face as many of the other children did. They where in a strange place, with strange people, kidnap from their parents. She just wanted to go home. Many of the other children where quiet or sobbing but some stood out such as one trying to ease everybody, one attempting to put others at ease with jokes but one remained in the corner, away from the others, his head buried in his crossed arms as he sat, leaning against his legs. Elise came over and kneeled down beside him to try and comfort him.
“Don’t worry… its going to be okay…” she said calmly, she seemed to be so much more mature for an 8 year old
“Go away or you might get hurt!” he said through his arms, not looking to her.
“Is that a threat?”
“No, people around me always get hurt…”
“Well I’ll see about that!” She said smiling as she sat down next to him “My name is Elise”
“My… my name is Ajax.”
Ajax and Elise like many other children had been taken from their homes to take part in the SPARTAN II project. Under the rough tutelage of CPO Mendez and the more intelligent lessons of the AI deja the children where being changed from children to warriors, almost unmercifully. Some hardened to the task but others never changed. Ajax was one of them. While many SPARTANS grew quiet, private and reserved Ajax had always been like that. During the first day of training Elise and Ajax, now Elise-070 and Ajax-013 where joined by Joe 124 to form black team. They had the joy of traversing pain land and Ajax’s notion of bad luck turned into a prophecy as anything that could go wrong did as booby traps went off by accident before anyone had triggered them, the map issued of the run was printed incorrectly, the only one done so, leading them in the wrong direction but somehow they managed to scrape second last place, dragging themselves above blue team who had failed to cooperate. That day Ajax seemed to be so determined, making up his own decisions about where to go next. Elise felt a sort of safety in his orders as he seemed to sound so sure of himself and these being the correct orders. He even proved himself of being somewhat of a mediator when Joe made fun of Elise’s shortness, Elise responding by kicking him in the face until Ajax calmed her. He seemed to quiet and troubled but had this air of certainty and command but not nearly as much as some of the other team leaders like John-117 who lead them to steal a Pelican during an exercise to finish it early. But of course, no one had too much experience of flying, they had done simulators but that was it. Ajax decided to take command, flying the drop ship away. He had earned the reputation of being ‘the flyboy’ having flown them out. He after that developed a stronger passion for vehicles when the others became better at more ‘military’ subjects, he still could beat another SPARTAN senseless, especially when disturbed while reading or working on something. That was how he got away from first the training regime then the wars, always reading, at first begging doctor Halsey and CPO Mendez for books, absorbing any information he could find. Though Halsey became worried at his Isolation, and asked Mendez to increase the amount of team based Activities he preformed, even going as far as to get them to play Baseball .By the time the SPARTANS where ready to go into augmentation they members of black team where cemented as firm friends but had a most odd relationship. Elise, despite being the smallest, easily a foot shorter, was the oldest and was always ‘big sister’ with Joe in the middle and Ajax a relative baby at 6, always being ‘little brother’ but always being the bold leader. Ajax could disassemble and reassemble and warthog in less time that some of the most qualified UNSC engineers and had his own personal Mongoose, a ridiculously ‘tricked out ride’ but he always kept its upgrades a closely guarded secret and he himself never rode it but once let John ride it. Ajax had this weird fascination with John at that time, seeing him as his antithesis to his bad luck as John was seen as the luckiest, resulting in Ajax trying to stick with him as much as possible. When he was with him he himself felt safe and at ease, especially for those around him, feeling like his bad luck was easing. Of course, it was always there, never letting go. Now they where in their mid teens they where ready for the augmentation. Of course, Ajax’s delusional paranoia got to him over his bad luck, making sure everyone was in a distant room to him. Elise almost understood his fear and complied but Joe refused to believe in ‘this silly nonsense’ and went to the same room as him. When Elsie finally awake from the anaesthetic she ran to see him despite the fact she was still in pain from the many procedures. When he found him he was sobbing at the end of his bed and gripping his chest like it was in intense pain.
“Ajax….what’s wrong… where is Joe?” she asked quietly, almost knowing what
He didn’t answer but the hospital bed with a sheet pulled over it and horrific shape buried under the sheet answered it. She didn’t cry, she didn’t even think of it. She sat down beside Ajax and put her hand on his shoulder.
“Get….get the doctor… I.. I need some pain killers.” He said, his voice strained. Elise nodded and pulled a doctor over. The doctor came to a conclusion he had some kind of heart twinge but nothing more.
“SPARTANS don’t cry. C’mon, lets go, the others are waiting.” She said, pulling him up and taking him down stairs.
Life continued on in the SPARTAN project, another SPARTAN who’s partners had died or been crippled during augmentation joined them, Mike-028. They had a Ceremony remembering those who did not make it through the augmentation, the ‘failures’ being in wheelchairs with them. CPO Mendez read solemnly from ‘A Soldiers Tale: Rainforest Wars’ as the unsuccessful SPARTANS where lowered into the ground. Ajax read along with him, virtually knowing the book back to front, having read it three times. Now it was no longer time for mourning but for them to finally get to battle. Their major training drew to a close now, now the real hardship would begin.
Chapter 2: First blood
All the SPARTAN teams had been sorted and now began to true battle. Everything up until now was just plain training, no matter how dangerous or hardy. This was where the battle began. The United Rebel Front had began rebelling against distant UNSC so it was up to the SPARTANS to but down this rebellion and hold together the peace of the UNSC. All out war could be avoided with quick precision strikes to put down their command structure and their main weapons. This is what the SPARTANS where made for and what they excelled in. Black Team had been tasked with putting down the rebellion on Hectate. Several turncoats had created a dire situation. A Frigate had changed sides in the system and carried three Shiva missiles that could be used horrifyingly upon the UNSC forces. Along with that the main rebel forces where nothing to fear, mostly rabble with black market guns. On the edge of the system the ONI Prowler lay in wait. The SPARTANS of Black Team sat in the briefing room, the usually large room being empty apart from the tree soldiers, all in tooled up in their armour and ready to go.
“OPERATION: LION’S ROAR is going to be simple enough, your primary objective is to sabotage the Dakala station then move onto the captured frigate the UNSC Haunter and capture it. You are to take an A.I. Specialising in hacking and piloting with you for this objective. The armoury is waiting, I will let you choose you complement for this mission.” The ONI officer said before looking to the holo-pedestal. A flickering image of a purple man appeared, his main feature being a bald head and thick glasses.
“So you’re the guys bringing me in? I’m Zann, you resident Hacker.”
Ajax snorted arrogantly, leaving the A.I. to give his a dark stare.
“Time to rock this joint then?” Mike laughed. He was far too happy and enthusiastic for a SPARTAN which often got on Ajax’s nerves but he accepted him because he was efficient, if distracted at what he does.
They were noted on their method of insertion which was to dump then in a cargo container which would then be picked up by a transport, dropped off on the station then they burst out and attack. Sounded simple enough. Ajax placed the A.I. on a data crystal chip in one of his pouches along with padding to ensure it’s safety then travelled to the ships armoury. Both Mike and Elise picked up an assault Rifle but Ajax just shook his head in disgust.
“You know, I actually like to hit stuff when I shoot!” He remarked
Elise shook he head, smiling but Mike started to look to other guns, worried about his choice.
“I want everyone packing as much ammo as they can carry and a second weapon, I don’t want any of you to run dry out there.” Ajax said, searching the armoury for a gun worthy enough to be used by him. He pulled out a shotgun and checked the pump action on it before smiling wickedly. He pulled on of the pistols from its rack as well, a M6D pistol which he checked before gathering ammo for it, tearing apart the foil packets of ammunition. He turned back to the others to see what they had now gotten. He could see the long barrel of a sniper rifle poking out from around Mike’s back and Elise was currently tinkering with a missile launcher.
“You do realise we are on a space station? A whole in its wall means we have fifteen minutes to get to a separate area or our oxygen runs out and we choke, you do understand the idea of subtlety right?”
“Hell no” “No” The said simultaneously
“Ugh… this could get brutal.” He sighed, walking away.
He affixed his helmet and interacted with it through his neural interface. They walked to the cargo bay and stopped opposite the cargo crate. Ajax turned around and gave a signal for them to check each others armour with a index finger moved in a circle in the air. He check Mike’s, Mike Checked Elise’s the Elise checked Ajax’s before he began checking the HUD lights.
“Right, we are good to go.” He spoke into the comm. Channels, stepping into the cargo container.
They all stepped in and hung onto the sides. The cargo bay crew quickly sealed the cargo container then evacuated the cargo bay as it was sealed off. The cargo bay was voided of air then the doors opened, letting the cargo container fall out.
“Whoooooo baby, SUCK THAT VOID!” Mike shouted as they where shunted about in zero-g. Ajax slapped his around the head the made a lateral swipe, making Mike cool down from his adrenaline. A freighter came past to pick them up, hooking them into its own cargo bay and an oxygen rich environment then moving on. After a short journey into one station they where dropped off roughly and waited for the pick up. Hopefully the triple agent that had arranged this pick up had managed to come through for them and get it organized. They had maintained radio silence for the time being and to some degree some personal silence. They had all taken their helmets off in the cargo container and sat against the walls, waiting for their pick up. Elise and Mike sat playing rock-paper-scissors as Ajax silently waited. Mike had beaten Elise again and she was clearly becoming frustrated to Ajax intervened.
“You up for a match then boss?” Mike smiled
“Humph, bring it”
Ajax won three rounds, making Mike slightly worried. As mike made a slightly last gambit ditch at dragging one point back as a best out of four Ajax beat him once again.
“How man….. my tactics are undefeatable!” He said, slightly in disbelief.
“Simple, you use a scissor rock scissor paper rock then cycle again, with a variation every cycle or so, it was a simple case of figuring out the variation then when you made a desperate gambit on the last try it was a case of guess work.” He said in a knowledgeable but not arrogant manner
Mike looked at him, his jaw slack but Elise just lean backed and smiled.
“That’s my lil’ bro for you!” She laughed
Ajax looked at her disapprovingly, not favouring that nickname. There was a sudden judder as something clamped onto the crate then it began to move up. They quickly reaffixed their helmets.
“Okay, radio silence from now on, resort to SPARTAN language for comms from now on, now lets keep it down.” Ajax ordered
They sat in near darkness, waiting to arrive at their objective. Some time passed until they cargo container was again dumped. After a short time Elise crouched near the door and inserted a fibre optic probe into the gap, inserting it through from the link in her helmet then scanning around. Elise looked to them and shook her head from side to side then flashed one finger, one unknown ahead. Ajax moved past her and put down his shotgun then drew out his knife and knocked on the door several times.
“That’s Morse code…” Mike muttered under his breath
On the other side of the cargo container a URF guard looked over to the door then stepped closer, hearing this. He let his HMG-38 go loose on its strap then put his ear to the cargo container door.
“That’s SOS….” He muttered before opening the door. Ajax immediately grabbed him by one of his shoulders and dragged him in and jabbed his combat knife into his neck and jiggled it. The guard just looked at him, his face locked in a permanent look of shock as gurgling noises escaped his lips. He let the body go as it went limp then dropped the body in the container then looked at it unremorsefully. Even under his armour Elise knew what his face would look like. It was that contemptuous look that she had felt a lot, but of course he had never killed her, much to her relief. Mike looked outside then began to move into the aisle which they were on. Elise followed him, watching his back, scanning up and down the aisle. Ajax whipped his knife on his first blood then put it into his sheath then moved out to follow them, picking his shotgun up as he did then sealed the door after them. He then took out his pistol from its holster and let his shotgun hang on its sling. He moved up in a lead position and headed forward before making a fist signal then motioning for them to hide. Footsteps. He leapt up onto a cargo container, clambering up while Mike and Elise hide in alcoves between the containers. Three guards came around the corner, walking up in a arrowhead formation. Ajax retrieved his knife again and holstered his pistol then leapt out from the container roof, tackling one of the guards down as he came level with him and wedged the knife into the back of his skull, pig sticking him, shattering his cerebellum and killing him more or less instantly dead or brain dead, either worked for him. Mike jumped out as the soldier turned and snapped his neck instantly and dropped the corpse. The lead guard turned around and levelled his MA5 when Elise jumped out of her ambush point and deftly smacked him in the face with the butt of her rifle then kicked away his rifle as he fell and finished him off with a crushing blow to his skull, leaving him as good as dead. As Ajax removed his knife another guard walked out from a gap between the containers and looked to them, less than two meters from Ajax. Ajax reacted in milliseconds, throwing his knife into his throat. As the soldier suddenly tried to scream, the knife lodged in his neck gurgled any sound. He dropped his rifle and tried to remove the knife but Ajax leapt forward and literally sawed the short blade through his neck, spraying him with blood. He tore the blade out then moved to a cargo container and opened the door and chucked the body in before getting the still twitching corpse of his second victim and threw him in, the others following suite.
“Someone’s bound to see this blood sooner or later…” He said, looking to the great big stain on the floor.
He began to move forward, the others following by instinct. Ajax stopped at the corner of one of the larger aisle, for good reason. He had spotted something down the other end. A sentry gun. They were pretty rare, only having been recently developed by the UNSC. He had heard of spies on the inside but this was ridiculous. He quickly ducked back in then went to his fibre optic cable. He peeked around the corner, observing this thing. He had seen the M202 XP before but this was just plain deadly. From what he could see there was different spectrum cameras, most probably heat vision, something that looked all too much like a mic and an aerial, most likely for detecting radio transmissions. He took his fibre optic probe back in then removed his helmet.
“It’s trouble alright, some kind of sentry gun, its stupid, its gonna be suicide going near that so I’m up first, follow me if I take it out. Take off all radio comms as well, it might pick them up.
Elise would of looked worried but he didn’t care. He put his helmet back on and turned off all comms then began to double check his heat temp. He would appear as absolute nothing on a thermal imaging device. He stepped out, unarmed and began to ghost walk, a military stealth walk forward, moving across its firing arc to where it was plugged in to a cable that ran elsewhere. As he crept beads of sweat ran down his face inside his helmet, making it clammy and uncomfortable to wear. It had passed him several times but this time it suddenly stopped when it passed over him, looking straight at him. It seemed to look at him, its one beady eye glaring at him for an eternity. He froze completely solid and just smiled. It moved on. He quickly made his way around it and unplugged it, giving the all clear for his squad to move. Suddenly the alarm blew, either somebody had found a corpse or it was rigged to go off when disabled. He drew his pistol and looked around for threats before bringing his comms up straight away.
“Fuck it, stealth won’t do us any good now!” He grunted
The walkway above to their left suddenly became a hive of activity. A squad of five, carrying HMG-38’s and a sniper rifle ran out, spotted them and started firing. Ajax in a deft motion aimed up to the sniper, using the limited zoom and began to fill him with rounds, the explosive shells bursting just under his skin as the rest of Black team began firing, layering the enemy in quick and precise bursts, riddling them. They quickly ran in the direction of their primary objective, the frigate as directed in TACCOM with a nav point. Another patrol rounded the corner, raising their weapons to fight. Everyone dived for cover as bullets began to go flying, one clipping off Ajax’s shoulder armour. He dived out, aiming down his fibre optic scope and fired several times into he head of a soldier peering out of cover. Three rounds imbedded themselves in his skull, punching through his cap then exploded, spreading the contents of his head across his comrade. Elise emptied the rest of her magazine as one tried to break out of cover, riddling him with holes as well. Mike himself broke for cover as the last man ran and gunned him down as he did.
Mike had been caught out, a four man fire team, proper soldiers where coming up on him now and a guard group on his other side.
“Frag ‘em out!” Ajax barked into comms as he pulled his shotgun from the strap and leapt around the corner, pumping three shells into the tight group. They where about 7 meters away with no body armour, might as well of been paper targets. All three fell like a sack of potatoes, torn apart by buckshot. He pumped the shotgun, the third shell ejecting as Mike tore a grenade from his webbing and threw it into the group, into their cover. They ran as it exploded, sending shrapnel flying as all four where torn apart in the explosion. They passed another Aisle where another group where entrenching, firing upon them, their superior SPARTAN reactions protecting them as they simply ran and kept low, Mike throwing another grenade as they did, the explosions and smoke billowing out of the aisle and followed them as they burst into a larger group of them. From here they could see the docking umbilical to the frigate. All three hit hard cover in the form of a defence point, some hastily set up barricades that where pointing in the totally wrong direction. They had caught them as they began to move up and away from their cover. Their intelligence and comms must be in disarray. Ajax went back to his pistol, reloading it and firing it at the enemy, catching several of them in the rear and pulverising their insides. Mike finally pulled out that cannon he had been storing and fired. Even through his helmet his ears still rung. Pieces of SABOT flew off the round as it went through the air, tearing into a pair of guards in line with each other, putting a clean hole through both. He fired another shot, catching a man in the top of his head and blowing the very top of his skull clean off. His third shot was the messiest, going through the heart. Most things the round pass through literally explode because of the pressures and the heart was no difference. He finally took one fourth shot, this one passing through a guys lung. He put his rifle back as they began to close back in, wasting another round was pointless when they where this close. He began to simply spray away at the enemies, preferring pinning fire to killing them. As Elise fired on the rear of a team in another direction her magazine ran dry and she smiled as she took the rocket launcher from her pack.
“Elise, don’t do-“ Mike shouted into the comm as Ajax simple sought cover. She fire a rocket round at a soldier who was stood up but it couldn’t of been a worse idea. The soldier hit the deck and the missile soared over him then hit the fusion core depot some two dozen meters behind him, resulting in a might explosion, knocking the SPARTANS to their backs.
“You’ve really done it this time Elise, time to go!” Ajax shouted, leaping over the Barricades towards the docking umbilical. Several soldiers rushed out of them and looked straight to the SPARTANS and hesitated to fire. Bad move. Ajax was running too fast to shoot them effectively now, he leapt straight in, smacking the butt of his shotgun into ones skull, crushing it then swinging it into the back of a skull, fracturing that as well. Elise tackled one to the ground then simple punched at his face, killing him. Mike knocked one back but then simple snapped his neck, a manoeuvre he favoured as it was quick and clean. Ajax picked up the last soldier and simple dropped him over his knee, snapping his spinal cord then rolled him off before going into the umbilical cord. They ran down it, Mike bringing up the rear when a bullet flew past their helmets. Mike turned to fire, this time with his rifle in a pretty stupid manoeuvre. As he pulled down on the trigger another round clipped past him and into his arm. He reflexed at the last millisecond, his aim now at the window of the umbilical cord. There was a clean, precise hole left in it and some time seemed to pass before it began to depressurise. Ajax grabbed Mike’s wound holding it tight as the window cracked then exploded out into space. Elise held onto an emergency bar with one hand then Ajax by the other, gripping onto the collar of his armour. Ajax held both hands firmly on his wound and Mike gripped onto Ajax in turn. As the door to the station closed, as did the window’s emergency cover the airlock opened, a guard caught unaware stood there right before being sucked out into the void. The emergency window closed and they rushed into the airlock. It quickly cycled them then they ran into the ship’s interior, monitoring all around them. The ship seemed to rock as another explosion racked the station.
From afar the ONI prowler watched the situation. Grey smoke billowed from the wound in the stations side as fires burned within it. It seemed to be loosing power and was now losing orbit above the Moon of Hectate. The frigate still hadn’t disengaged yet.
“What on Earth is going over there?” The captain muttered, leaning forward on the bridge chair.
“Looks like some of the fuel supplies onboard got hit…. Its on fire and most of its cargo decks have been blown to pieces.” A ridge officer reported, checking the scans of it
“Move forward, prepare to move our ODSTs over to the Haunter for boarding action, those SPARTANS won’t be able to take it by themselves.”
Onboard the Haunter the SPARTANS where moving up the ship, inserting data locks behind them as they went, sealing the doors off to protect their back as their made way for the bridge. Resistance was surprisingly light through. After taking out the bridge officer they then inserted Zann straight into the ship’s A.I. core.
“Okay, I’m in…. disabling weapons, taking bridge control, disabling A.I. and…. Hey!”
“What is it?”
“Dammit, he’s a smart one! He locked me out of engineering control, he’s locked down ship as well, all airlocks and bulkheads are offline!”
“Ugh, that’s not good.”
“IF you can get me down to engineering then maybe-“
“No” Ajax said bluntly “Your needed to operate the weapon systems should we come into enemy interference. I’ll go fix that A.I.”
“Not without me!” Mike said, putting his hand on his shoulder
“No, Elise, I need to watch the stairs to the bridge, take the M247 we passed not so long ago and set it up at the top, mow down any sucker that tries to get up those stairs, I’m counting on you to hold the bridge.”
“Got it.” She said, running off to get the gun.
“C’mon Ajax, lets go trash that over rated PC!” Mike said enthusiastically
They came to the stairs down to the lower decks and moved down. He could see the enemy cutting through the door with a welder. Up the stairs Elise set up the gun, putting the tripod down then aiming it at the door.
“I got your back!”
The moved over to a maintenance tunnels and Zann opened the hatch. They both crawled in, their superior height being a real problem here. They moved through and opened up further down the deck and moved out. They moved down the corridor until several rebels on patrol caught them. Poor rebels. Ajax just began to release shotgun pellets down the corridor, shredding one of them. He dived into cover as Mike began to fire as well, cutting down the second and the other retreated. Mike gunned him down with one burst from behind before moving up. Ajax Came round the corner first to meet a pair of crewmen trying to counter Zann’s intrusion on a console. Ajax pulled down one of the console towers and got behind it and fired one shell, crippling one crewman but he shielded the other. They carried M6C magnums, hell was he getting in their way. A few rounds clipped above him, shredding the console a spraying him with light shrapnel but not causing any harm. He began to put new shotgun shells in from his pouching, feeding them into the gun. Mike burst around the corner, running across the gap, firing as he did, clipping the man in his arm and making him drop his gun as he did. Ajax Ran out and cracked him with his shotgun butt, splitting his head open and killing him. He looked down to his sidearm and picked it up. A M6D lay abandoned, he dumped the magazine and reloaded it and put it in the opposite holster to his other pistol before moving on. The came to the exterior corridor of the engine room and say there was quite a guard which looked somewhat fearful. Ajax let his shotgun go loose on its sling and drew his two pistols while Mike drew two grenades, one in both hands. He thumbed off the pins and threw them both into the corridor, into the enemy barricades, both exploding with deadly effect. Ajax ran out of cover, firing off his pistols, the rounds burrowing deep into flesh and exploding in the enemy. He leapt further into the enemy group, still firing before both ran dry, the slide ejecting to the empty position. A enemy group came into the corridor, having heard the gun shots and immediately met Ajax’s shotgun, the buckshot almost tearing one in two. Mike got to the bulkhead to the engine room and cursed.
“Its locked down, internally, we can’t access it.”
Ajax moved back and took a satchel pack from his equipment. As Mike went to cover him Ajax stuck the satchel pack to the door and pulled the pin.
“MIKE! HIT COVER!” He shouted, running around the corner, as did Mike. There was a deafening explosion that tore the bulkhead apart and blew a hole big enough to drive a car through. The both ran in, diving into combat against the guard compliment and the engineering crew, tearing them apart like butter. After a brief and brutal melee Ajax moved over to the more engine control where a holo-pedestal displaying the form of the A.I. was. It was completely featureless but had a body resembling a human male. It crossed his arms As Ajax neared it and accessed the console and began to type on it furiously as Mike covered the door with the last of his grenades and mine he had. He ran back as the explosions rattled about the corridor then a number of soldiers ran into the gap, the mine blowing up and tearing them to pieces. Ajax was busy beginning to reconfigure the A.I.’s administration pathways, control layout and command interface, limiting it’s abilities before finally shunting it back it its card. It screamed as it was dragged from the holo-pedestal to a disc which Ajax pocketed. He looked back and took cover as bullets tore the console he had just used to pieces. He moved up to Mike’s position and took his assault rifle as Mike began to fire on the enemy with his sniper rifle.
“This is SPARTAN-013, we have control of the ship, disengage the umbilical and began to pilot us away!” Ajax barked into the comms. Zann complied and took the Haunter out of the dock And began to move it away as the burning station crashed down into the surface of the moon exploding with a mighty impact. Up on the access stairs to the bridge deck it was a bloody scene. Bodies literally clogged the bulkhead, many of them with large holes punched in them. Elise was wounded, having suffered a gunshot to her leg where the gun shield didn’t protect. She was still standing but barely.
“Elise, SITREP?” Ajax asked over the radio, his voice punctuated by gunfire
“I’m wounded but I’m still standing. Nobody got passed me!” She said proudly
“Flesh wounds on my leg, nothing really.”
“Hold on, we are moving out to the rest of the force.”
The soldiers facing her remained out of view, hemming her in more than anything. There was a clunk as the Prowler aligned with the ship and docked. Suddenly groups of ODST troopers swarmed in, armed to the teeth and ready to kill the enemy. They began to flush the decks out, killing the last of the rebels and lifting the siege on the SPARTANS. As they pulled back to the ONI Prowler a troop of the ODST remained on the ship with Zann to take it back to UNSC controlled space for clean up. Now they were going to begin the next phase of operations. Extrapolating information from the A.I had proved useful, they had knowledge of their operations on the surface. A weapons factory was situated deep in a mountain chain on the northern hemisphere and that was their next target. The idea was simple, get in, blow it up, get out. The officer left all mission specifications to them. Using a Pelican displaying enemy tags they were going to drop within the perimeter of the radar station then destroy that then move on to the factory and deploy a warthog from the Pelican then for their way in, shooting anybody in their way and deploy Damage packs to three objectives. The power plant first then the assembly plant then finally the construction plant. It was insane but showy if anything. They had requested a platoon of ODST soldiers touch down to provide a diversionary attack by taking on the main gate while they made their way by punching a hole through the side.
The drop was easy, the pilot giving the radar station their code and the radar station going to weapons off. The Pelican however changed its mind and up close unleashed a wave on ANVIL missiles from its gunship pods, taking down its defences and letting it fly unopposed, along with its radio antennae. The Pelican swung around outside the of the small compound and the SPARTANS leapt from the back. The Pelican rose up, giving some covering fire from its 40mm chin gun then pulled back as the SPARTANS ran across the dusty terrain towards the wall of the RADAR compound and clambered in through a hole in the wall. Ajax began to fire off his MA5B, giving cover to the others as they moved closer in, then they gave covering fire in a buddy-buddy motion. They moved up again, firing on the last defenders of the outpost. They moved up to the building and quickly secured the door. It was only a small bunker so it wouldn’t provide much resistance. He took Mike’s Damage pack full on C-12 shaped charges and pressed the activation on it and threw it in before all three of them ran like hell. Even with a 15 second counter and a bunker complex as the target it was a might bang, blowing all three to the floor. On a crater was left afterwards. Ajax rose up from the dust and wiped his visor clean and coughed a bit.
“That’s how it’s done!” Mike laughed
“You boys better get moving, the ODST are already moving on the compound!” The pilot of the Pelican now circling the compound radioed.
“Drop off that hog already!”
The Pelican began to descend to the ground and hovered a small height off then dropped it off. It was an old beat up one but it still functioned fine.
“I call driver!” Mike shouted as he began climbing into the driving seat. He was only stopped when a hand grabbed onto his belt and stopped him.
“I drive, you shoot or I shoot and you die, deal?” Ajax said, pulling him back down. Mike nodded weakly and turned to the gunner to see Elise hanging off the gun and spiralling around on it.
“Awww, crap. I don’t like riding shotgun!”
“Tough shit, stop your whining and get in.” Ajax said as he climbed in and began to start up to engine. Mike ran around and jumped in but didn’t bother seat belting in like Ajax. Instead he put a foot on the dashboard and pushed himself up to an odd, half sitting position slightly raised up so he could fire more easily. They set out down a dusty track, the vehicle bouncing all the way down. Mike briefly took off his helmet and puked onto the side of the road with a rather contemptuous ‘weak’ from Ajax and laughing from Elise. As they drove down to the plateau where the factory was sited it was a beautiful site. ODSTs had launched the attack, several scorpions battering the walls as ODST troops moved up behind with Pelicans supporting them and doing bombing runs, one unloading a pod on ANVIL missiles into one of the walls, the wall crumbling under the pounding then they simple drove the hog straight at the hole, pounding right through. He skidded around the side, almost roll the warthog then drove into the compound at full speed, gunning down or knocking down anybody stupid enough to get in their way. Ahead was the power plant, linked to all the buildings by thick power cables. He skidded to a stop outside the main entrance and leapt out, leaving his rifle in the hog and getting out his trusty shotgun. Mike followed in behind as Elise continued to cover them with the LAAG, the guns chatter sending out 3 inch long trails of fire and could be heard well within the facility. They ran in Mike covering Ajax as he immediate ran to the central core which burrowed about 30 meters into the ground. Ajax looked down and then ran back out to the hog, shouting for Mike to cover. He took Elise’s damage back and reprogrammed it for a half hour charge then grabbed the hogs winch on the front of it and let it go slack and ran back towards the fusion core as fast as possible, hooking the cord into his belt as he did. Ajax leapt over the safety railing and went into free fall down the main core shaft as he began to near the bottom he began to shout into his mic.
“Elise, wind the which back in, wind it back in!”
Elise leapt out the gunners seat and into the drivers and pressed for it to wind back in, slowing his ascent and dropping him off near perfectly at the bottom. He command Elise to stop and disconnected himself and ran over to the coolant pool for the core. He armed his damage pack and dropped it in before going back to the winch. He looked up as he was connecting himself and spied two guards rushing him with electronic batons. He cursed under his breath let one swing for him and ducked under his blow so his shoulder was under the mans hand. He grabbed his wrist then punched upwards at his elbow, snapping it brutally the span kick him in the side of his face, breaking his jaw and knocking him off the narrow platform into the coolant tank. The other one launched a blow at him aimed for his chest. He leapt out the way and caught the cord with his hand on his back pedal then ran forward and kicked him in the chest, cracking several ribs then wrapped the cord around his neck then radioed for Elise to wind it back up now. The cord went tight and began to wind back in, pulling both of them up and chocking the man to death as it did, bringing him back up to the ledge when mike was waiting.
“We have 30 minutes before it goes off, lets go!” he said, grabbing his shotgun from the ledge and going back to the warthog. He leapt into the drivers seat and began to drive off before Mike had even gotten in. He ran along side it as he just started to get the engine up and jumped in. They drove full pelt as the compound erupted into hell. The ODST’s pelicans launched strafing runs or gun support, keeping the enemy down as the ODST stormed the outer compound and took the gatehouse with brutal intensity. They drove through the compound at break neck speed and into the assembly plant grounds. They drove straight ahead into the building through a garage and into the loading bay. Ajax applied the handbrake sharply and spun the rear end around. Mike quickly armed a blast pack that had been left in the warthog for them and threw it onto the assembly lines before Ajax Kicked it back into gear and drove out. Mike flipped safety catch on the detonator and as they drove back out into the compound and amidst the warehouses he pressed down on the button. There was a deafening boom and a shock that flattened buildings nearby. They had a decent amount of cover but still felt it. As he reared around back into an open area he could see the quite large building was nothing more than a flattened wreck now. IT began to become dark out as tracer rounds and targeting lasers sparked up the night, the lighting in the compound having been poor as it was. They hammered it down the main road of the compound as something came out the dim sky above them, the dark, vaguely bird like shape moving down towards them.
“SKYHAWK JUMPJET, 7 o’clock!” Elise roared as she began to turn and fire upon the oncoming enemy. The aged jump jet banked sharply, avoiding the first spray from the LAAG as another two began to descend. One quickly turned off and spat out HE shells into a passing pelican, tearing it to pieces and destroying the vehicle, sending it spiralling out of control and into a strong concrete building, decimating them both. The one attacking the SPARTANS started off the party with its cannons, the HE shells missing them mostly As Ajax began to swerve but showered them with shrapnel, most being negated by their armour. It then began to fire off its scorpion missiles which would of meant quick death for them had he not sharply turned into a side road between buildings, throwing the missile off. They pulled back out into another main road, this time Elise and the bastard dead to rights. The gun fired off at least 40 rounds, most of them penetrating its left underside, tearing through its main engine and fuel cells, resulting in it exploding violently, blowing the jump jet to pieces. Another one came in low, directly behind them, firing its rotary cannons right at them. Elise fired straight at the cabin, tearing it up and with it the pilot and gunner, sending it out of control and smashing into a warehouse, its engines exploding violently. The third one came in on strafing runs rather that straight Attack. Elise kept the fire up, riddling one of its engines then the other and the wing, crippling any and all ability to fly and sending it plummeting to the ground, leaving a trail of fire behind it then a pillar of fire as it exploded. Elise threw her damage pack to Mike as the neared the final objective, Mike quickly arming it. He put it down in the foot well then went back to the combat situation. The enemy had fortified the entrance up ahead with .30 cal ‘confetti maker’ guns and infantry wielding outdated rifles. Rounds began to whiz past them, a few indenting on the bonnet, one ricocheting off the wind then another one penetrating right through the plastic. The rounds came at them in flashes of hot orange light, Mike and Elise firing as much as possible but to little avail. They had stacked up creates to block their entrance. Like hell would that work. He drove right through them, crashing through with a hefty bump. The hog skidded as they usually did but the lack of control meant they were vulnerable to attack now. A shot from a rather old RPG launcher missed them but was close enough to rock the vehicle and sent it tumbling over into a mess of crates of raw materials outside the main building. Ajax clawed his way out from under the hog as Mike pushed it up to get him free. Mike helped him up but Ajax seemed slightly wobbly on his feet. Mike had been thrown out less than a meter and seemed fine but Elise was no where to bee seen. Ajax stumbled over to a crate and leaned on it, trying to get his bearings as Mike delivered covering fire. He could see a crumbled in create with a figure lying in it and swore under his breath. He ran over and pulled Elise out. She was completely knocked out, having been thrown quite a hefty distance from the hog and into the crates. He pulled her over his shoulder and dropped his shotgun on its sling and opted for his pistol and began to move towards the entrance, followed by Mike as rounds whizzed past them. Mike stopped, giving them bursts of covering fire then moved up to the entrance as Ajax lay Elise down gently then looked to the door. It was a well sealed metal plate door and would be a pain in the ass, knocking it down with brute force would damage him and using his gun to blow off the hinges was useless as the door had none, it was one of those ‘oh so annoying’ sliding doors, made breaking and entering a pain in the ass. He moved to the console for it and surgically removed the panel and began poke at the wires, crossing them and switched wires. Rounds impacted on the wall around him, sending clunks of cement off. Mike desperately kept covering them, firing off in bursts, the ammo counter creeping down with burst. There was a burst of sparks at the console and the door slid open unsteadily. Mike turned As Ajax began to lift Elise again and saw and soldier in the door way, levelling his gun. He squeezed off a burst into the mans gut then a second into his chest immediately after, tearing his body to pieces and sending it to the floor, crumpled and bleeding. Mike ran in, on point, scanning around, followed by Ajax keeping the coast clear with his pistol. They moved in, abandoning all pretence of stealth and shot with little regard for concealment. A number of soldiers filled a walkway above them and they both switched to scope and went to it, Mike popping one in roughly the area of the heart, pulverising it and causing more or less instant death. He was better with the next burst, the scope being quickly moved to the mans head and fired. Mike looked slightly in disgust at the result of the three bullets impacting within two inches grouping on his forehead. He hoped the ONI spooks and military strategists who reviewed his vids weren’t to interested in that piece to much. He couldn’t tell much of his head any more, roughly from the eyes up being a bloodied and torn mess. Ajax fired off his pistol in a rather cocky fashion at them, catching three with the whole magazine in an upward fashion, hitting the first in the gut, blowing them out then the next man in the chest, the rounds just burrowing into his ribcage and exploding, blowing his ribcage into plenty of little fragments of bones then the last one in the neck, almost severing his head.
He dumped the magazine and cycled it, as did Mike and moved on to the nav point labelled to them. They moved into a number of offices and heard a weak murmur over the radio. Elise was coming around. He placed her down in the corner of the room and gave her a quick tap to her helmet.
“Time to wake up, its killing time.”
“Five more minutes Chief!” she said, half dreaming, making Ajax think of Reach, of boot and made him smile weakly. It was a horrible event in their lives but brought them together and gave them purpose. He thanked god his blast shield was down, obscuring his smile from Mike. Mike opened the door and checked it from the side, leaning around in a dangerous tactic rather than using a fibre optic cable or a optic on his sight to check it. There was several successive bursts of rounds and he ducked back in.
“All to easy man, all to easy!” he laughed
“Don’t get cocky now, things can still get rough out here, keep alert. He moved to the second door leading out of the roomed and opened the door but kept rather close to the door frame, being somewhat sure of the room being empty. Three hostiles stood, ready to fire. He quickly tipped his pistol horizontally and aimed it at the man furthest on the right. He fired, holding on the trigger and initiate an interesting tactic he had learnt from Deja during training. A Chinese pistol technique from the twentieth century where the pistol was put onto its side then fired, its recoil forcing it sideways and thus spreading rounds across the room and clearing it out quickly and effectively. Several gutted, smoking corpses filled the room. He shut the door again and reloaded but switched to his shotgun again, holstering his pistol. He looked to Elsie who had come round a little bit and was on her knees, getting up shakily. Mike moved onto the next room and Ajax moved up, looping under her arm and propping her up a little bit.
“Yeah…ugh… I feel rough…those gunner seats need seatbelts!” She joked weakly
“Can you walk? Anything broken?”
“My pride but other than sat I’m good.” She lied.
He let go of her as she stood up fully and held onto her arm with both hands then suddenly forced it back into her body, making her emit a yelp.
“Ugh! How the hell did you know about that?”
“You can’t hide things from me he laughed before moving through to the next room. She Cocked her assault rifle then followed him through. They moved up through the offices then onto the upper areas. Across from them was an open walkway which then met with their target, the central pillar of the building. It was completely open, almost disastrously so. Ajax spied out with a fibre optic probe and swore.
“I spy three guys on .30 cal guns and a large number of infantry with small arms.”
“Then what do we do about it?”
“Elise you have the last blast pack, make a run for it, as fast as possible, dump all your unnecessary kit here, we will lay down covering fire for you.” Ajax said, looking to her grimly
Elise nodded and dropped off her M19 and her assault rifle then Ajax handed her his pistol.
“Once you get over there and things get hot, pump that into the poor bastard in your way.”
“I know how to kill people, I HAVE done it before.” She laughed
Ajax took her rocket launcher then moved to a window and prepared to smash it out as Mike took aim from the door way with his battle rifle. Elise ran out, sprinting and the guns started chattering, from both sides which Ajax had not expected. He smashed out the window and opened fire with the rocket launcher, firing one then quickly re aiming and firing a second, taking out two MG positions in a hail of fire that sent bits of people and debris into the air with violent effect. Mike covered effectively as he could, picking of enemies in his precise bursts, neutralising lots of the troops but not the third position. Ajax went to the assault rifle and moved to door way on the other side to Mike. He opened fire on the other side, mowing down a few troops but not succeeding to well, the gun being woefully inaccurate compared to other assault rifles.
Elise ran as fast as possible, rounds whizzing past her with a distinct whining noise. Rounds ricocheted of the walk way’s metal grating or rails or went straight through it, producing a hail of sparks. One round clipped off her shoulder, then her fore arm and thigh then one finally impacted. It hit her thigh full on, sending her stumbling but she wouldn’t stop and she kept limping, still going at a great speed. A round passed right into her upper arm, impacting on bone and shattering the round. A finally one impacted on her but she couldn’t tell where, the adrenaline was going to much. All she could tell was that it was on her upper body, maybe even her neck, as blood spattered across her blast shield, obscuring her vision. She whipped away the blood with one hand and levelled Ajax’s pistol with the other and aimed it at a pair of soldiers who had come to face her. She nailed both of them, blowing them apart and leaving their bodies to slump against the pillar but her momentum was to great now and she just slammed into the pillar and slid down. She aimed to her right and nailed another soldier then holstered her pistol. She set the explosives as she had been ordered then simply lay down.
“Explosives in place and armed, go to evac.” She said wearily
“Okay, get back across and we’ll move.”
“No can do sir!” She said, laughing “I’m wounded… I can’t move to well… just move on.”
“Ugh, stupid idiot!” he snorted
He ran out after her, firing to both sides wildly as Mike cursed at his rashness. Elise lay down in a ball as rounds impacted all around her, pinging off the central pillar, showering her with bits of dust. Mike took a grenade from his bandolier and threw it into the enemy forces, it exploded nicely in the midst of a group of them, tearing them all to pieces. Ajax skidded to a stop on the end of the walkway and helped Elise up and they began to move back across the walkway as another grenade exploded, shrapnel covering their escape. They rushed back across, Ajax handing her gun back then moving through to the other room with her as Mike laid down more covering fire then swore loudly.
“Hit the deck!” He shouted, leaping through the door way as an RPG hit the room hey had just been in, blowing it to pieces and sending pieces of shrapnel everywhere. He landed face first on the deck, his back in agony from the shockwave and numerous small pieces of shrapnel stuck in the back of his legs and neck.
“Man, I did not sign up for this!” He laughed, getting up and shutting the door. Ajax was injecting a can of bio foam into Elise’s wounds, with her grunting each time. She handed Ajax his pistol back then they all reloaded then prepared to move on when the motion tracker went mad.
“I’m reading 9 hostiles in the room next door.” Mike said, levelling his gun to the wall adjacent to them
“Its only a thin wall, saturate it with fire!” Ajax spoke into the mic.
Both of them opened fire but didn’t both with aiming it well and simply sprayed, moving the gun from left to right as they fired, the armour piercing shells making a mockery of the other side and left the wall torn to pieces. There was screams punctuated by the constant gun fire then they finally both stopped, their ammo running out.
“Picking up five targets still!”
Gunfire was returned and all three SPARTANS hit the deck. Ajax however moved up slightly and returned fire with his shotgun, the buckshot perforating the wall and tearing a poor sod apart on the other side. He kept pumping in shells until Elise had reloaded and began to lay down covering fire and Mike moved up and dropped a grenade through the hole left by the shotgun then all three left quickly, leaving the room to explode. All three checked their ammo, less than two magazines left for all of them. They moved up towards the ceiling and Ajax quickly began to patch into SATCOM.
“This is black team, objectives compete, requiring immediate dust off!”
“Roger that, dropship inbound, hold on while he move in.” the radio reported back
They moved up, breaking out and onto the roof. The ODSTs had already withdrew, their Pelicans disappearing into the sky above them. One however flew against them, moving down at an efficient speed towards them. It came down and dropped its bay doors and hovered while they clambered in. They were airlifted as Ajax pressed the detonator on the final explosives pack, destroying the central pillar and sending the building collapsing in upon itself. They where barely out of the compound when the next one on the 30 minute countdown went off, destroying the coolant systems, destroying the central coolant cooling column and the coolant pipes and super heating what was left, leading to a fusion reactor overheating and overload then exploded, levelling the deep complex with ease and levelling the compound. Really destroying the assembly plant and the foundry were fail safes in case the reactor failed to go super critical. Ajax watched impassively as the facility disappeared in a ball of fire then faded away, leaving a dust cloud.
“Was their comms network successfully hacked?”
The Voice of Zann sounded off in his head “Yeah, piece of cake, barely even a level one encryption key and their counter intrusion firewall and A.I. were laughable, all I had to do wa-“
“A magician never reveals their secrets” Ajax said, trying to shut him up
Chapter 3: Heart of the Rebellion
“…and you will swoop in on their warehouses and drop the explosives and take them out.” The ONI officer said, pointing to the holograms.
“Easy enough, insertion?” Ajax asked
“We will be flying in another Pelican demonstrating enemy codes.”
Ajax frowned a little but didn’t question orders. They got up and prepared to move out. This was a strictly stealth op, with them running in using MA5B with silencers and pistols with silencers and AP rounds as the HE rounds made a horrible amount of noise, especially when exploding in a man’s chest cavity. Everyone took shredder and AP rounds for the MA5B to give them some coverage. Of course, nobody could help themselves after a short time in the armoury with Mike stuffing his satchel and belt with grenades, Ajax took a shotgun but opted for flechette shells and Elise took a M19 but no extra rounds, no point really. Mike finished off by modifying the battle rifle he had gotten, giving it a Oracle type scope from a sniper rifle and fitted the rifle with an almighty silencer Ajax had personally made at some expense. They took to the Pelican which was only crewed by one man, pretty unusual but it didn’t matter. They moved from the ship as it lay in high orbit and fell to the planet at speed. They burned through the upper atmosphere with a severe rocking motion then began move down to the orange-yellow surface, moving above several canyons. Ajax moved up to the cockpit and sat in the co pilot seat and monitored the situation, attaching a headset and boom mic to his head. Comms came in from an enemy ground base, prompting Ajax to retrieve a code booklet they had been given.
“Unknown Pelican, identify yourself, now!” The comms rang out in a tinny tone
“This is Pelican Hotel Zulu X-Ray zero three six four, bringing in supplies to Majorca base, over.”
“Confirm…… your late.”
“We missed our window, blew through to late, had to wait.”
“Sure thing, happy flying.”
Ajax took off the mike and laid them on the seat with the code sheet and moved to the seat in the back and strapped himself down.
“Well I think that went well sir.”
Alarm bells blurted out as the pilot swore.
“We have missile contact, two to three o’clock, three to six o’clock, hold on!” The pilot shouted, manoeuvring the Pelican to face the two oncoming missiles. He worked the engines hard, approaching the oncoming ordinance at speed. He suddenly blew the portside VTOL thrusters with violent abandon, throwing the Pelican into a tilt, resulting in both missiles missing then Pelican, if narrowly and one circled back around while the other simple loss target and plummeted to the ground. The Pilot swung the ship around while still maxing the speed, bringing her back to the original bearing and putting g force stress on the occupants and the ship. The pelican lost some control but the pilot quickly regained it and got back his composure.
“We have four missiles on our tail now, hold on, launching counter measures!” He said as the missiles closed in.
Ajax guessed he wasn’t much of a conventional pilot as ‘countermeasures’ was more or less fire off all your flares and send the ship into a spin. A dozen or so burning flashes of light blew out from the back of the ship in a hail of fire as they were launched and the ship was span out brutally, wrenching the occupants about with g forces neither them or the ship were designed for. Three of the missiles just span out wildly while another just went straight ahead and impacted on the ground, ending the threat. Or maybe not.
“Shit, a triple A has us tagged on heat trails, dead ahead.”
“What about countermeasures?!”
“Forward countermeasures wouldn’t stop them, just send them off target, there’s still a chance they’d hit us head on.”
“Fire off your Anvil pods, fuck with their heat tracking!”
The pilot flicked off the ANVIL safety and fired them off, a hail of rocket fire obscuring the view in front of them. The missiles clashed with each other, the heat seeking missiles getting confused them attacking the white hot missiles or simply spinning off under total guidance failure then the missiles hit the triple A site, levelling it. He blew it over as another one fired on them, sending the alarms insane again.
“Don’t they give in?! Stubborn bastards!”
The Pilot titled the ship to the port side and fired off the last of the counter measures but the amount of missiles spat at this time wouldn’t help them much. Though a majority of the ordinance span off one broke through the heat illusion and smashed into their starboard wing, blowing it and its adjacent engine nacelle to pieces then their port engine nacelle as well shaking thee Pelican violently. It began to lose altitude violently as the engines failed miserably. The pilot desperately tried to lock out the fuel to the damaged engines and get her level and steady for a decent landing, almost breaking his arms as he did. The Pelican speed into the mouth of a canyon, smashing off the side then the other, tearing off much of the hull then finally impacting on the ground, sliding a short distance then hit the canyon wall on its port side as it slid around, bringing it to a stop. Mike and Elsie where quickly onto their feet and went to the cockpit and pulled the pilot from his seat. He was one luck bastard, he was totally uninjured, if a little dazed, much to his dismay though his stylish aviator glasses where smashed totally. He walked steadily and drew his M6C and checked it.
“Right, time to get moving. We need to out run and hide from the patrols that’ll come looking for us.” Mike said, checking his gun “Isn’t that right ‘Jax?”
“Ngh…. Yeah..” Ajax said, propping himself up against a seat.
That’s when Elise saw the jagged piece of metal sticking from his leg, impaling it all the way through.
“You can’t move at all can you?” She said weakly
“No and I think it’s stuck through my femoral artery so I’ll bleed out. Besides its torn my muscle to pieces, I won’t be able move to well. Go and call for evac, come pick me up from prison later, if they think it was just a pilot dropping me in they won’t come looking for anyone ‘cept a pilot. Leave no trace.”
Mike nodded but Elise shook her head resolutely.
“I’m not going to leave you here to be captured, not after all we’ve been through.”
“NO! It’s an order, MOVE IT!”
“You know, you can be court martialed for this… thrown out and I don’t think they want a SPARTAN wondering back into civvie life, you’ll be locked up permanently.”
“I don’t care, we’re damn near enough brother and sister, I won’t leave you!”
Ajax drew his combat knife out and placed it to his neck.
“Go, or I do it.”
Elise was thoroughly disturbed. Ajax was always unpredictable, even to her and he was never totally mentally stable. He might just do it. A trickle of blood ran down his body suit where his blade nicked his neck. She holstered her rifle and took his shotgun from the floor and then opened her hand for his pistol. He gave it to her willingly and just tossed his assault rifle from his body. Anybody could have that garbage, he didn’t care. The pilot picked it up and checked it then Ajax gave him some ammo.
“Your going to need it more than us. Thanks for getting us this far…. What is your name by the way?” Ajax asked
“Lieutenant Shaw, sir!” He said, snapping to a salute.
“No need to sir me, I’m only a petty officer, sir.”
The pilot laughed at held out his hand. Ajax looked at it slightly bemused but Mike motioned for him to shake it behind him. Ajax held it out meekly and the man gave it a strong shake and began to move. Ajax bade Elise to take his helmet and his tags then lay down, and waited for the rebels to come capture him.
It had been three hours until some of their warthogs came. He had since used some explosives to take out the pelican, leaving little to discover related to the pelican. He lay against some rocks nearby that shielded him from the blast and propped him up. As the warthogs parked up and surrounded him he stuck up his arms in surrender.
“Sloppy tactics.” He thought to himself as they checked him over and routed him of his gear. He had taken a spare MA5B and a pistol from the ship and pretended it was his kit. They quickly cuffed him then had a medic check his wound. Sloppy again, they just started pumping him full of bio foam to fill the wound and stop the bleeding, if only a little then bandaged it tightly. He cursed at their sloppiness but didn’t complain.
A trickle of blood leaked from his mouth as more trickled from his nose and lip. He looked up and smiled wickedly. His interrogator tried to punch him again, this time in the jaw but just swore as he wrecked his hand on his strengthened jaw bone. Ajax tensed his muscles as he tried to hit him in the gut but the muscle mass in his abdomen negated his attack to some degree. He just laughed as the man reverted to a steel bar and began to beat him furiously but as he pulled it back he noticed it was completely bent out of shape. Ajax was in a sorry state. They gave him less than a day for his leg to recover then went straight to ‘the interrogation’. He guessed they had never heard of the Geneva Convention. Or didn’t care. He’d be beaten thoroughly but still felt alright, despite the screaming agony his body was in. It was mostly simple bruises, like fuck could they break any of his bones or damage anything. He sat there, his hands cuffed. They had no idea he was only fourteen, he looked more like he was approaching 20. The soldier relented, if only a little and stepped back as the door opened. Ajax looked up but didn’t seem to notice the two people coming in but more focused on the two guards outside. He then looked to the two people who arrived now, his attention constantly changing. One was an officer whose hair was a dark grey, perhaps in his fifties, not exceptionally old. He was either a turncoat or somebody who has been promoted within the United Rebel Front. The other was a young woman bearing the heraldry of a junior lieutenant and a URF uniform. She had long, dark red hair, probably dyed, it didn’t look natural and bright blue eyes that seemed to glint. She looked at him and smirked a little.
“Hmm, he’s pretty hansom for a enemy but look at all those surgical scars.”
“He’s no ordinary soldier…which unit are you part of?!”
“I’m an ODST commando, we were doing base assaults.” He lied
“That’s just a lie”
“I’m an ONI spook going in for infiltration.
“I’m Santa, delivering all the presents to all the nice little kids but you shot down my sleigh..” he said in a down heartened tone.
The officer just slugged him in the face but he smiled as he heard bones breaking during the blow, but not his.
“Jesus Christ! H-h-he broke my hand!” The officer said, cradling his hand, he isn’t human.
“Well I’m sure he’s been softened up sir, shall we retire and wait on the blood test?” the lieutenant said before leaving. Ajax was left by all three of the occupants in the room then the light was switched off. He sat in the dark, waiting.
It had been a few hours when he heard something, just beyond the room. The guards where called away, moving down the corridor. Once he could no longer hear their voices he took his chance to break free. They had seriously underestimated him and it would be the last time they would do so. He began to force his wrists apart, putting pressure onto the cuff links and did the same with his legs from the steel chair. Chains were strained and eventually broke, letting them twinkle of the floor then gave him a chance to break free. He wasted no time and immediately stood up, stretching a little bit then picked up the steel chair and smashed it through the one sided window to his left, shattering it with easy. The two guards inside looked utterly shocked. He leapt upon the first ,knocked him from his seat then crushed his skull against the floor with a powerful blow. They other man stood up and smashed the alarm button but the alarm didn’t sound. Maybe a fault? He leapt up to the man and with one hand seized his chin and the other back of his skull then twisted his skull with ease, breaking his neck and killing him. He took the mans Ma3 and checked the magazine. He was only in his combat pants and boots so he took the mans clothing. His jacket was far to small but his vest just fitted him. He took some spare webbing from an armoury locker and put it on and looted the place of ammo and equipment. He went to the door and opened it with a key card he had pilfered from the soldier and peeked outside. Empty. He ran across the hall to a door that had ‘armoury’ written on it. He moved in and noticed a single solitary guard moving about. He snuck up and quickly crushed his windpipe by hooking the rifle over his head and pulling it back in against his body. He discarded the rifle in favour of other equipment in here which he found much more to his liking. His assault rifle that he had held before being captured lay in pieces. He quickly reassembled it but found the computer system missing, losing his ammo point and compass, as if that mattered anymore. He took more ammo, dropping off the guards hollow point rounds and picked up some AP-FMJ and shredder rounds, much more to his liking and then a small scope for the rifle which was designed as a option component. He slapped the magazine and then cocked it. It was good to go. He nabbed a few grenades then found a silencer and felt as ready as ever. He moved out into the corridor and saw both the soldiers coming back down at the other end. He fired quickly bursts into them before either of them had really noticed. The FMJ rounds left a cluster of lovely little holes in them and the silencer made a whisper of the gunshot. He moved down the corridor, over their bodies then towards an outside window and looked out. He had been hooded all the way in and didn’t get a chance to look. Now he saw it. It was once the UNSC base on this planet, now in their control. He was in a tower in the complex with large numbers of buildings down the side. He spotted a landing bay with shuttles in. That was going to be his target. He watched as rain pitifully hit the window and as the usually dry world got a taste of rain. He moved down the corridor then looked up and aimed his rifle at the camera spying on him.
He quickly fired a burst on it and destroyed it. The female Lieutenant watched the screen go into fuzzy then switched off the camera. She straightened up then looked to the man behind her. He was tall and hooded, obscuring all features and seemed almost supernatural. On closer inspection he was translucent and seemed to flow slightly off the floor.
“What is your wish, Ma’am?”
“SITREP on their security network please.”
“All security functions disabled, cameras, alarm switches and radio transmitters are all offline. Base lockdown is under control and the base A.I. is under an enslavement program, it will appear to function as normal but is in our complete control. It will not meddle in our affair and will aid us. I took the courtesy of offlining their speaker systems as well and I ordered the General to the med lab in tower three.” He said, his voice deep and booming.
“Oh? Why have you done that?” She said, looking bemused.
“The target is moving out of tower three and I have locked almost all doors en-route with security level 3 and he only has security level 2. I have forced him into a route that will lead him to the med lab.”
She chuckled innocently “Remind me, who’s brain did they create you from?”
“An assassin second on the colonial authorities wanted list with 200 cases of murder across UNSC controlled space and a reported 400 more.”
“Ah, it explains a lot.” She said, laughing “What do you think about him gentlemen?” she asked, turning to the watch guards in the security booth. The smoking holes in their head was the only answer
Ajax sprayed his gun again, the soldier falling back against the wall and slipping down into a pool of his own blood. He moved over his body and moved to a lounge room. The room next door was a med room, plenty of bio foam to loot. He opened the door and pointed his gun in. The officer from the interrogation stood in there with four body guards, a doctor and a nurse. What a stroke of luck. He pointed his gun and let the AP rounds tear them apart. He held down the trigger and simply sprayed the gun, mowing down the men. He even shot at one while he was still down. He eased his trigger finger after the gun had been click for about ten seconds or so but it felt like an eternity. He moved forward and looked. The four soldiers had been riddled but the general breathed, coughing up blood and bits of his lung. Ajax grabbed him by his collar and pulled him up to face him as he kneeled near him.
“Humph, a pathetic excuse of an officer.” He said maliciously as he spat blood in his face. He winced slightly and smashed his head against the floor repeatedly, crushing the clinically white tiles and the mans skull. He gritted his teeth and pulled back his hand with thick strands of brain fluid on it. He looked to his barely recognisable corpse and sighed. Was he feeling rage, anger or hate? He didn’t really care but deep down he almost enjoyed it. He looked to the doctor and noticed his twitching corpse. He was most definitely dead, the AP round had passed through his eye and the back of his skull leaving a fist sized hole. However the nurse lay, bleeding from several wounds and whimpering. It was his first up close civilian casualty. Up till now he felt no remorse for the soldiers he killed or the civilians he had annihilated form a distance but to some degree he felt sorry. He moved up and checked her over. Nothing serious or at least nothing serious for a SPARTAN. A round had penetrated her lower abdomen, her leg and her arm and left them bleeding. She was shaking and in no state to be left alone. He picked her up and moved her over to a bed and put her down. He began to bio foam her wounds and bandage her up. She lay there still whimpering until he administered some morphine. She looked to him, slightly dazed and smiled. She mouthed the words ‘morphine’ and passed out. He hooked her up to a heart monitor so in the cash of a crash doctors would be up here. He couldn’t understand himself now, he had felt such anger then such remorse. He pulled a quizzical look as he thought to himself but shook himself. He moved to the body of the general and pilfered his body. He found Sweet William cigars and a Zippo styled lighter. He smelled the cigars and found them somewhat pungent but pocketed them all the same. He was about to leave when the man’s radio cackled into life. He moved down and picked it up and brought it close to his ear somewhat reservedly.
“Sir? Are you alright?” It cackled
“Err, yeah *cough* Yes, son *cough*” He said, trying to get into the voice of the general “Why, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing, sir, just a check up under orders of Lieutenant Iscariot.”
“Well… keep up the good work.”
“Yes sir, will d-” he said before being cut off by Ajax crushing the walkie talkie.
He moved on and out of the room taking the general’s top level entry key card with him. He moved out and ran down the corridor at speed, moving on. ‘Iscariot’ watched from the security booth and smiled.
“The SPARTANS are just as good as they said…that was incredibly brutal…. None of the battle reports of the others have included any information like that. Such hate then such sorrow. He seemed a little more attached to his feelings than the others but covered it well. It seems that his ‘sociopathy’ is noting more than a carefully constructed and well built shield. It was a most excellent one at that. The shadow figured emerged from a wall, its cloak sweeping behind it.
“I have access to SATCOM network, issuing radio silence and bringing you into contact with CODENAME: WATCHER.” She looked impassively to the screen as the hologram of a man in black navy uniform appeared. It was the captain of the prowler hiding in orbit.
“Yes, what is it?”
“Any news from black team?” she asked calmly
“They were picked up by a retrieval team minus SPARTAN-013. Why do you ask?”
“Well lets just say your little toy soldier is running loose in Gorgon command facility…want to come pick him up?”
“I’m sure HIGHCOM and SECT3 will look down on sending some of our best on a suicide mission.”
“Don’t worry, this base is fast asleep, all systems are down, including defence and alarm, its going to be a walk in the park.”
“Is that so? I never could figure out you spooks.” He said, cocking his head “I’ll send the evac team in immediately, I place my trust in you CODENAME: REGAN.”
The holographic figure of the captain disappeared as did the hologram of the A.I. behind her. She chuckled and locked down the security booth.
Ajax ran across the catwalk, moving at quite a speed, unfortunately not quick enough for him to be spotted. The guard on the over seer balcony up above noticed and shouted for the alarm to be sounded but as one of his men pulled the alarm lever nothing happened.
“What the hell?! Why are our security alarms down? Screw it, go through to the mainframe and launch it manually soldier!” he ordered, pointing the man in the direction of the mainframe, sending him immediately scurrying. They opened fire on Ajax down below who returned fire at them picking them off with ease until one brought a RPG out. He swore under his breath and leapt from the catwalk. The RPG hit behind him, blowing the catwalk to pieces and obscured him from their vision. He fell to the other catwalk 30 feet below, slamming on it hard and buckling the grating and railing then he quickly moved on. He fired on several of his pursuers and then bolted down the corridors at full speed. His best bet was to make it to the exit from the base to the launch pad. He rounded the corner, blowing more guards to pieces then broke out into an upper corridor which lead to a balcony over looking a gallery. Down below him soldiers began to hurry as word passed on of his escape. He still had time. He ran to the other end of the gallery and into the stair well then burst out the bottom, abandoning all pretence of stealth and guile. He looked as a dozen or so soldiers stood there behind a makeshift barricade, looking at him through their gun scopes. Shit. He looked around slightly and dropped his gun then put his hands up in the air. Their guns cocked and they began to take more careful aim when a series of explosions rocked the hall, blowing out the wall in a concave of fire and rubble. Rounds flew through the smoke, gunning down survivors then lights shone though the smoke, blinding him and making him cover his eyes a little and wince. The smoke was blown away by the powerful down thrust coming from the Pelican dropship. The machine gun chattered, mowing down enemy soldiers. Ajax ran towards the dropship, bounding across the body and wreckage strewn rubble then into the back of the dropship. Elise was firing on the cabin machine gun and Mike helped him on board with a big wide grin.
“Good to see you sir!” He said, patting him on the shoulder then pressing the button to close the back ramp as it lifted off and withdrew from the surface.
“What now, do we have new orders to engage the enemy?”
“That’s a negative, we are being reassigned.” Elise said “We have something more important that the rebels to deal with.”
‘More important than the rebels? ‘ Ajax through to himself. He sat back and slumped down in his seat. He guessed he was going to find out.
Chapter 4: Welcome to MJOLNIR
Ajax sat in his bunk on the Commonwealth with a book to his nose, reading it intently. Elise and Mike continued to play cards, in particular poker. Ajax loathed games that relied on equal parts luck and skill, the skill part was easy but the luck was the hard part. There was no skill to that, no particular ability, no great method for it. He despised it utterly. He heard Dr. Halsey’s voice on the intercom and perked up a little bit. John had been called away and left the SPARTANS in the command of Sam who ordered them to get ready. Ajax had begun to dislike this ‘blue command team’. He would admit that John and blue team where some of the best of the SPARTANS in their own fields but it had sort of devolved to a point where if John was absent Kelly or Sam where in charge. Don’t get Ajax wrong though, he loved them all like brothers and sisters but this ‘hierarchy’ that had emerged had become tiresome. He slowly moved from his bunk, still reading but to some degree following Sam’s order and stood up to be interrupted by Sam taking the book from him.
“What are you reading? The Art of War? Heh, you gotta stow it and get ready.”
Ajax didn’t respond but reached for his book as Sam held it up in a slightly taunting manner. Some people never lose their big kid inside. Behind Sam there was a tapping on his shoulder, making him turn. He looked down to Elise who stood with her knuckles on her hips, tapping her foot and looking up to him with a stern face. She was easily the shortest of the SPARTANS but Sam had good reason to be worried. He made a remark about her size during one of their first exercises and she kicked him off the rope he was climbing which resulted in some broken bones.
“Give Ajax his book back.” She said seriously
Sam pulled a bit of a funny face then relented.
“Sorry Ajax… lets just get ready, okay?”
Ajax took the book back and book marked his page then put it down and looked to Elise.
“You know I don’t need you to stick for me in every situation, I can handle things myself.” He said, giving her a dark glare
She walked over and smiled lightly “As long as your around there’s gonna have to be me there to hold your hand! We are brother and sister forever, don’t you forget that.”
With that she moved to get ready herself. Ajax got into his body suit and began to pump shotgun shells into what was now termed ‘old gator’ and cocked her enthusiastically. He didn’t know why it was a she though, he didn’t know many grizzled, poche marked girls that spat ball bearings. He brushed her a bit then smiled at how she got in such a sorry state.
“YEEHAH! This is living baby!” Mike roared over comms
“Cut the chatter!” Ajax barked, keeping his head down in the sand. Another volley of rounds whizzed over their heads. He had only just avoided the RPG at the last second with Mike but Elise was already clear of it.
“This is black-one to team leaders, machine gun emplacement in south east corner, got us pinned, manoeuvring out, tagging on TACCOM.” Ajax radioed in then suddenly rolled out of their cover and grabbed his shotgun. He had dropped it in surprise at the RPG and when he leapt clear it was blown clear. It was still intact, a testimony to its sturdiness. He ran and skidded into a new piece of cover and remained there in the dirt.
“Okay, I got you covered… Face my overwhelming firepower!” Elise jeered, stepping out of cover and firing her M19 into the building, flattening it.
“This is green team, we ran into trouble over by the northern quarter, holding our ground.” Kurt-051 said, bullets bisecting his speech.
“Blue team en-route, Black team, was that explosion from you?”
“Hell yeah!” Elise replied cheerfully
“Don’t worry about us sir, we can go relieve Green team, moving up to their position now, keep heading to the target.”
Ajax could tell where green team was from the trails of sniper fire coming out of the building. He moved up, now opting, like the rest of the team, for silenced assault rifles, silently moving up. They knocked on the door in a pattern all to familiar. A SPARTAN opened it up and brought them in.
“Oly oly oxen free, eh?” he laughed before ushering them in and shutting the door behind them. This mission had been going well until Black team hit enemy contacts by mistake. They had been sent to shut down illegal arms trading coming out of Roosevelt Military Base on this dusty cess pit of a world. It had made Elise nostalgic on sight, reminding her of her home world, Dust. It just meant Ajax would spend even more hours fixing people’s stuff from dust problems. An absolute pain. He moved up to a window and looked out.
“Green-one, what’s going on?”
“Drop the codes.” He laughed “We got multiple contacts on motion sensors.”
“Green-one, Black-one, SITREP, now.”
“We are both held up in the same building now, holding ground sir.” Kurt responded
“Okay, withdraw, we will move onto the objective.”
“Negative that sir, we can hold our ground and buy you time.” Ajax interrupted.
There was a slight pause before John returned “is that okay with everyone?”
“Yes sir!” Black and green team responded in unison
“Clear to engage, weapon’s free”
“Mike, El, get up stairs, make the jackhammer and the battle rifle count, I’ll hold up down here!”
He dumped his rifle and got to his shotgun which now felt rough and un-smooth and began to pump off buckshot at the enemy. Kurt and Will-043 began to fire as well with their weapons, pinning the enemy as much as possible.
Up stairs Mike ran to a double window that Linda had been using to put the enemy down. There had been a long and somewhat bitter though playful rivalry between the two. The sniper schools and designated marksman schools were always like this.
“Hey Linda, up for a little competition?” He said, removing his helmet.
“What kind of stakes?”
“I give you a modified scope I picked up a while back, what about you?”
“I’ll give you a modified barrel I picked up, deal?”
They shook hands, Mike spitting on his in a childish manner which seemed to disgust Linda. They got up and began to fire. Mike had rate of fire and magazine size on his side but Linda had accuracy and sheer killing power. They duelled fearsomely, rounds zipping into the many enemy soldiers that swarmed out the woodwork at them. Mike had begun to drop behind when his face twisted into a grin. He threw a grenade into a piece of cover where the enemy was hiding behind some crates, tearing them to pieces. Linda looked to him disapprovingly but went back to her spoke and smirked wickedly. There was the sound of her firing then drowned out by an explosion. She popped off a gas canister, killing just as many enemies.
“Oh that is low…”
Ajax kicked a table down a few meters from the door and ducked down behind it while Will did the same for the other door and Kurt did so for the windows, keeping careful watch and firing on the enemies. Kurt had always made him uneasy, he was sociable like Mike which made him feel somewhat odd. He, like many SPARTANS, enjoyed their privacy. Still, Ajax had seen him in combat before, he was capable as any SPARTAN. The doors where kicked down and soldiers jumped into the breaches and where immediately gunned down.
“Like lambs to the slaughter.”
They gunned down three or so on the doors then there was an eerie silence, interrupted by Mike’s rantings. Kurt suddenly leapt over to Will and Ajax, knocking them to the ground.
“Kurt, what the HELL-” Ajax said before being interrupted by an explosion, sending chunks of shrapnel into the table and overhead. ‘How the hell did he see that coming?’ Ajax thought to himself. No time for pondering though, they got up and began to reengage the enemy.
“Two Warthogs, inbound from the north east, we got them nailed.” Linda radioed in.
She fired off at the gunner, taking him out with ease. An easy shot Mike thought. She went for the driver but to her annoyance the round bounced off the windshield. The sloped windshield was an annoyance to anybody shooting at one. Mike got up and seemed to not shoot for a while before shooting off one burst. One round clipped the top of the drivers head, blowing it off and killing him. The car drove into the side of the dusty road, hitting into stalls then flipping. Linda snarled
“That only counts as one!”
“Sure it does baby, sure it does.”
He got back up with Linda when a hail of rounds pinned them. The other warthog was in position now, spitting chain gun rounds at them, spraying at both windows. They stood no chance. Mike put his rifle over the ledge and sprayed, if to be less useless than anything else.
“Oh come on little girls, try to not wet your panties.” Elise laughed
She slowly walked along the balcony, her M19 aimed at the hog. She fired her second rocket in that tube, striking into its rear. The explosion engulfed the rear then the front, blowing it apart and sending chunks of molten metal everywhere, the bodies being reduced to chunks of gristle. Soldiers in a radius around it lay down in the dust, killed by the shockwave or shrapnel. There was an explosion in the distance and the radio cackled into life.
“Mission compete, lets evac now.” John said
The soldiers seemed to subside, resulting in Ajax moving out of cover. He ran to the gap in the wall and got a supply bag and took some fish wire and masking tape from them. “Everyone give me your grenades, now.”
As the others came downstairs the passed them to him idly. Ajax tapped one to each side of the gap in the wall then tied to fishing wire to each of their pins and did the same with one grenade for the other door. He marked the building on marine TACCOM as they would soon come to clean up and took a spare long distance comm. Pack and deposited upstairs, tuned it into the enemy’s com frequency and left it on a SOS message before leaving last and booby trapping the door after himself. Time to move. They moved through the streets to the extraction points. He could already hear the grenades going off. A Pelican flew in and came close to the ground, they leapt into it and sat down calmly as it began to move away and move up slowly.
“So Linda, how many did you get?”
“A draw then.”
“Yeah… hmm, pass me your rifle so I can check on your scope recorder.”
Linda didn’t argue and passed it to him. He immediate rolled off he seat into a prone position, resting the gun’s bipod on the exit ramp and fired once.
“14, I win.” He said, remarking the soldier now lying in a pool of his own brain tissue.
Linda stood up, growling in frustration. Mike stood up and looked her in the eyes.
“Go on, who’s your daddy?” He laughed raising his hands and pointing at himself. Linda punched him full force in the face, flooring him. He lay on the floor for a little bit holding his face before gurgling a little bit.
“My facesch, my betiful facesch.” His lisped
“you had that coming man.” Kurt laughed
John looked down and stood up and walked over.
“Calm down… it was just a competition.”
“Yeah, you’ll have my modified barrel by the time return to the Commonwealth” She grunted in discontent before sitting down
“Well I say we celebrate.” Kurt said, looking around. Ajax took out the packet of Sweet William cigars he picked up on Hectate and opened the pocket.
“Their loot from my mission back on Hectate, got off a General I assassinated.” Ajax said, holding the packet out. Everybody seemed to take one, Mike in particular as he enjoyed them or more so the thrill of stealing them back in the old days on Reach off the Chief. Ajax took his own and light them all up and began to puff out a deep and sickly smelling smoke into the Pelican. John began to cough and hack, prompting Kelly to pat him on the back.
“C’mon John, not man enough?” Sam laughed informally
“Ugh… they’re really… pungent…” John said, coughing and hacking. Ajax flicked the light on and off a few times observed its silvery sheen. He pocketed it and breathed out a thick cloud of smoke.
Ajax stroked the shotgun again and padded his pocket. His lighter was still there. He looked to the others as they became alert and ready. The intercom came through for the SPARTANS to move to the launch bay, Sam mustering them. Ajax in turn mustered Black team, making sure they got at least one gun and or a sidearm then rushed down with the others then stumbled as the ship was hit.
“Crap, we’ve been engaged, we’ll be no good in this floating coffin!” Ajax spat
“We can’t get off, not yet, we have to get to the surface for MJOLNIR.” Kelly said, trying to keep their minds focused on their tasks. They had to barge their way past a group of pilots in those slick green jumpsuits who where loitering in the launch bay, Ajax almost punching one but restrained himself. Friendly fire was frowned upon. The ship rocked again from more fire then suddenly the ship rocked, even more violently and began to list then tumble. Ajax could physically feel things heat up. He help Mike up from the floor then listened to the ship intercom. They were going to vent the ship. Ajax gripped onto a railing with Elise in turn gripping to him. The venting was brief and quick, oxygen being gone for only a few minutes then had a chance to rest. Now the longsword pilots were launching. Ajax watched them leave and then piled into the Pelican with the rest of the SPARTANS. IT wasn’t over yet though. There was a sub sonic scream, encroaching on them which then brutally shook the ship, throwing the SPARTANS around inside the Pelican like money in a piggy bank before everything went black.
There was a silence as they checked each other and righted themselves. Ajax stood up, having been sitting on Mikes head then bumped into Kelly and Vinh as he did.
“What was THAT?”
“A SHIVA Nuke going off. It gave us a taste of its EMP burst.” Ajax said quietly “Those pilots…”
“Those pilots died heroes, protecting us and the Commonwealth…” Isaac-039 said weakly
“Then let’s make their sacrifice count, we have to break through to the surface.” Malcom-059 said slightly resolute
“We need to wait for john first though.” Sam commanded
The Pelican’s bulkhead opened up and Dr Halsey clambered on, being helped by John.
“Let’s get to Damascus facility.”
Ajax watched on impassively as the helmet was sealed on John’s head with a hiss and the SPARTANS looked on.
“So you think it’s like a mark 3 exoskeleton?” Kelly whispered
“Yeah, they look pretty similar… it has its own fusion pack though so no case of cables or signalling.” Ajax said knowledgeable.
“But what about the hydrolics? There isn’t enough room there for them!” Elise remarked
“I’m assuming they use something different, there are other alternatives to hydraulics.” Ajax said before watching John finish up and move. It was so quick he missed it when he blinked. He cursed and watched on. Soon as he began to awkwardly move the other SPARTANS where fitted gradually and began to acclimatise to the armour gradually. He was the last to be fitted with it and after a brief a bit was sealed. He began to move carefully at first, monitoring his own movements but then gradually began to walk then run. He began to move along some of the obstacle course and came to the wall. He only smiled slyly at the sight of it. The other SPARTANS were jumping over it with ease. Ajax had other plans. He had tried running and it was fine, if a little exaggerated. He broke into a full run at the wall, leaving the other SPARTANS to back off and watch this attempt. As he closed on the wall at extreme speeds he lowered his shoulder and came into more of a charge and hit the wall at full force. The concrete simply relented under the blow, letting Ajax knock right through in a spray of rock chunks and smoke. He stood in a cloud of dust briefly then the SPARTANS began to clap and cheer before moving on Ajax silently basked in this admiration and prepared to move on when his armour suddenly felt heavy then utterly useless. He fell to his knee, resting on one arm and tried to get back up but struggled so. He then fell further onto both knees and his hands with his head hung low. His fusion pack had gone offline and left him in a metal shell. He cursed and tried to comm somebody but his armour’s power was totally offline, including comms. He instead just roared brutally as panic began to set in. John, who had just leapt over the wall a second time landed beside him and noticed him. He looked to John, struggling to move his head. John kneeled down and shouted beside him.
“My fusion pack, its gone!” He shouted back
Halsey and Elise came over and looked down. Halsey kneeled beside him and tapped him on the helmet
“Any clue what’s happening?”
“No power is going through, it’s a useless shell!”
Halsey pulled a quizzical look to a tech who came over and plugged a small diagnostic machine into it. As numbers scrolled across the screen he suddenly yelped.
“His fusion pack went offline then it just went critical! What the hell!” The tech shouted before suddenly scrabbling away “Get clear, its gonna blow!”
John grunted and suddenly dug his hands into the rear plate of his armour, Elise following suit as they attempted to prise off his armour. Sam shouted for John and threw him a sidearm to him. He caught it with ease and aimed it down to his plate and fired several times. It successfully gave him a place for leverage and with sheer brute force tore it off. The fusion pack glowed a ghastly orange and was quickly deepening to a red colour. Halsey began to disconnect it with efficiency and then successfully disconnected it from his armour. As it’s energy was no longer needed it simply cooled off, dying away.
“I think I might actually be starting to believe in this bad luck thing…” John murmured.
The tech came back with a new power pack and was about to install it when Ajax motioned for him to remove the helmet. The tech followed this order and took it off with a his, opening him up to the air.
“Run a diagnostic, full system scan.” He said as if nothing had happened
“I did before the armour was engaged, nothing came up.” He responded
“Run it on the power converter and the pipe connectors, the fault is in there.”
The tech looked to Halsey who smiled and nodded. The tech ran it then bit his lip.
“one of the cables to your leg was faulty… we’ll get you out of this and fit you in a new one then fix this one up.”
Ajax just snorted as the removed his armour and put him into a new suit. He soon grew accustomed to this monstrosity, moving to quickly and so purposefully it was almost unnatural. He smashed concrete targets with a kick that was more like a blade going through fabric. He smiled wickedly. This would give them a fighting chance. Now it was the time to take the fight to them.
Ajax grunted slightly, steaming up his visor. One of Johns ‘great’ plans. He was floating uselessly in deep space. His motion tracker actually picked up something reading out there. He had since sent his armour dead to remain as little or minimal signal to the enemy. He floated silently before boredom gnawed at him and he opened his com channel. Deep space comms were bad enough with satellites and ship based communication arrays. The commonwealth had lost hers during the combat so there was no chance of that. He tried his best bet was patching into the (poor) SATCOM system. Better than nothing he guessed.
“SPARTANS, this is black-one, sound off.”
“Heeeeey, never thought you’d get lonely!” Elise laughed, her voice distorted by the comms
The radio crackled into life as the SPARTANS began to sign in. His HUD flashed as the SPARTAN, now labelled as Kurt spoke out. All but John, Kelly and Sam signed in.
“What do you think happened?”
“Maybe they got taken out?” Mike said rather flatly
“I doubt it… I think they got through…Most of them…” Ajax said
He sighed. He hated space, it felt so boring. He floated weakly, just checking his armour. Soon the comms burst back into life.
“This is Dr. Halsey, coming in for pick up, SPARTANS put on your beacons.”
Ajax started it off through his neural implants then floated idly as the distant lights of the Pelican closed. He jetted his thrusters over to it, as did Kurt and they climbed in. They moved forward t as the ramp closed behind them then air entered again. Ajax moved through to the cockpit and ushered a technician out of the pilot’s seat with a dark stare. He sat down and took the pilot control and Dr. Halsey looked to him with a cocked head.
“I’m a better pilot that you.” He said arrogantly.
She smiled and nodded then gave him full control. He began to point the Pelican in the direction when it began. Fire began to bloom on the hull then filled in within the extent of the shield and began to fill up as the hull bubbled and boiled, melting away like a dream to replaced by fire. The shields finally died and exploded outwards into a nova of shrapnel. Ajax grunted and bit his lip. There was a twinge in his chest, like somebody just stabbed him. His pain endurance had always been high and he showed this as nothing but discomfort.
“SPARTANS, hold on, I’m bringing us into the debris field.” He said while taking his helmet off, prompting Halsey to warn him.
“Why are you taking that off, its completely linked to the Pelican and what if there is a puncture?”
“Then I will just stick it back on Ma’am. And besides, I pilot better with my own eyes, not with a jar on my head.”
She shook her head slightly but was almost thrown out the seat when he suddenly set the engine nacelles into opposite directions to spin them out the path of a piece of debris. He quickly took control and punched the Pelican to full acceleration. He began to shoot it into the expanding debris field with reckless abandon or maybe just confidence in his skill. He skimmed close to a smouldering hunk of metal the size of a building which was moving in the opposite direction at a high speed. The Pelican shook violently as Dr. Halsey dug her fingers into seat and the Techs held on desperately. He brought the Pelican into the thin gap between two pieces of debris that began to gradually collide with each other, gradually hitting each other behind them and closing fast. He pushed the Pelican incredibly hard towards the narrowing gap and laughed out starkly. The collision bells rang, not only because of the debris on each side but because of a piece of debris moving up in front of them, ready to literally plug them in the gap. He smiled wickedly, almost putting Halsey on edge. She always knew he was mentally unstable, if only a little but this was beyond insane. He cleared the debris with the third piece less than 7 meters from the nose of the Pelican. He suddenly shot it into a loop-de-loop, spinning it away from the third piece of debris, skirted the one that had previously been above them then moved away. Halsey loosened he grip and looked to him, her eyes wide.
“You thoroughly enjoyed that didn’t you?” She said, cracking a smile
“Yes Ma’am!” Hew shouted back, his voice finally displaying some kind of emotion other than contempt or sorrow, this time enjoyment. Deep down he might of just been an adrenaline junkie.
He accelerated down until an alarm appeared. He reaffixed his helmet and got a beacon locator. Dr. Halsey moved to the back of the ship and prepared the ramp. He moved down to them and manoeuvred around for the ramp to be at their back. He waited until he heard the ramp close then the hiss of recompression and moved around and into the rear section. He opened the door and jubilantly welcomed the SPARTANS but his face quickly dropped. Everyone hung there heads low and only two SPARTANS stood at the end of the Pelican.
“We had to leave Sam behind… he got a hole in his armour… he couldn’t get off the ship.” Kelly said solemnly
Ajax just averted his gaze. He couldn’t take it.
Chapter 5: Welcome to Morigan
It had been 11 years after Chi Ceti now. The SPARTANS had been deployed to fighting Covenant forces all around now and did so with ruthless efficiency. Now the next focus point of the war was Morigan. The fleet defending Morigan was admirable, if lax. Morigan was a major resupply point for UNSC falling back from or advancing into the outer colonies and couldn’t fall, not straight away at least. There were two billion inhabitants to be evacuated first along with anything that wasn’t bolted down. A battle group of 35 ships stood waiting for the enemy. Covenant Probes had been appearing for weeks now and the fleet was on edge.
The war had left a terrible strain on the SPARTANS with them in demand everywhere during these times. John took personal command of as many missions as he could but there was only so many places he could be at once. Besides, for now this was just a security op. Black team had decided to be sent on this mission. It was a dead end mission as it was more or less a security op until John got relieved and came here to take command. Ajax desperately wanted to fight under his own command but nonetheless relented to John’s superior command. The destroyer, the UNSC Wyvern dropped out of slip space and began to close upon the fleet which lay in a wide defence formation. Battle group Sun Tzu focused around the carrier, the UNSC Sun Tzu and the Marathon class cruiser, the UNSC Axon Gate. The planet was a hive of activity as freighters and personal shuttles fled out system as fast as possible from the possibility of an assault. The Wyvern hammered in system at a good speed, floating towards the fleet. The skeleton crew began wake up protocols and moved to wake up the crew. In one of the emptiest cryo rooms with only three tubes occupied the attending cryo tech began defrosting the first tube. The tube was quickly and safely defrosted and the casket opened, letting out a thick fog of pale smoke. F it hadn’t been for the short cut of black hair and tattoos he might of never of seen him. Ajax clambered from the tube and began to cough up a thick sting of fluid. After a small piece of it hit hits tongue he resorted to pulling it out with his hands and dropping it in the clean up sink. The technician saluted sharply and Ajax did the same, sudden snapping up to a salute.
“Status?” He said quietly
“We just entered the Morigan system, engines on full to rendezvous with the fleet, you’re the first of your unit to be defrosted.” The tech said, looking up to his eyes. Ajax barely looked human anymore now as his skin had gotten much paler, bearing only thin hints of any tan and remained an oddly pale colour. His hair was no longer is a tight military shave of crop cut but now a short mop of messy black hair. He had numerous scars and tattoos including one of an eagle, the unofficial insignia of the SPARTANS, one of black flames licking up his right arm and numerous other small tattoos of skulls, UNSC symbols and a list of names with a number following them. The first on the list was ‘Sam-034’. The cryo tech had never seen a SPARTAN in the flesh before, just on the holovids of them. There were few of them in actual combat, mostly just propaganda at the moment.
“Defrosting is under way on your squad sir, if I’m needed I’ll be in cryo control.”
Ajax didn’t respond but dismissed the man's salute as he left. He hated cryo sleep. Nothing more frightening than being locked in a big frozen casket. He leaned over the sink slightly and cough a bit more. He whipped his brow and caught a reflection of himself in the sink. He remembered how his hazel eyes looked when he was a child. They were soft and slightly warm looking but now they seemed dead but had a disturbing glint to them. He stroked the scar presiding across his eye, he had almost lost his eye because of it. A rouge piece of shrapnel scraped it. He had to thank god for his eye lids, saved him from losing an eye and having to get it flash cloned or replaced by machinery. His body was a mess of scars as well. Small plasma burns presided on his gut and his left arm and his upper right thigh was scared off a needler round. He shook his head slightly and moved through the showers. He turned it on but left it icy cold. As it ran his hair stood on end but it made him awake and alert. He quickly dried off and got dressed and waited for the others. Next was Elise who simply sat up right in the casket and swung her legs out and walked past Ajax and to the shower, saying good morning on her way past. She had still retained her tan skin and her green eyes still held a gentleness to them. He hair had grown long, discarding the military cut even though her helmet played havoc with it. She kept it in a sort framing bob cut but could never keep it in that position. After cryo sleep it just looked a mess. Mike was last to come around and seemed to be incredibly sprightly, leaping up and out then straight in and out of the shower. Ajax leaned back against the cryo bay exit as the others got ready then stood to attention.
“Right, lets get up to the armoury and suited up.” He said informally and walked out the door.
They moved down and got armoured, taking the techs 15 minutes to suit them up. The Wyvern hurtled in system, gaining on the fleet with speed. The SPARTANS finished getting their armour on and gathered the last of their possessions then moved across to on a shuttle to the UNSC Axon Gate. The vessel was a Marathon class cruiser, currently the most powerful vessel in the UNSC fleet though still paled in comparison to Covenant vessels. They moved on and were immediately called to the briefing room where they waited for the Admiral to come to them. The admiral that arrived was at least 50 with greying hair and a rack of awards hanging off his chest, like every other Admiral of the fleet. He had his A.I. assistant brief them rather than himself, sitting back to wait. His A.I. assistant was an image of a figure on medieval armour that seemed to clank as he spoke.
“As you well know, you’re here on guard duty until more SPARTANS arrive then command will be given to your unit leader. In the meantime your to give simple guard duty for the Axon Gate until given orders otherwise.”
Ajax looked flatly at it.
“That’s it? We are the best of the best, why the hell are we sitting doing nothing?!”
The admiral stepped in, silencing the A.I. with a wave of his hand.
“The Covenant as of late have developed a habit of boarding ships to loot their nav databases. Though none had exceeded it is of vital importance that the ‘Smart’ A.I. of the Axon Gate does not fall or is needed to be destroyed, they are in rare enough quantities without us having to destroy them.” The admiral spoke
Ajax relented and sat up straight. The briefing was finished with notification of the Major on the ship. They were dismissed, all of them giving each other sharp salutes then moving out. Ajax visited the Major, an officer of a number of years and a veteran against the Covenant. He had a number of battle honours, such as capturing a Covenant holographic symbol on the surface of Harvest when the humans first attacked, leading many battles himself and achieving victory. Of course every victory on the ground became a defeat in space. Ajax had read his reports through a terminal before he arrived. He was straight from Earth, from the old country of England in fact. He was a rifleman at heart, having came through the ranks as a sniper at the head of a recon brigade.
“At ease soldier. I’m Major Sharpe, sit down.”
“Sir, I was told to come to you to receive my and my unit’s deployment orders on the AG.” He said, taking to the plush seat
“Ah, yes i was already beginning that. My idea was to put one member of your unit with a marine platoon at each of the major bulkheads.
“Sir, if I may disagree with that.” He said quietly
“Hmm? Why, what is wrong with it?”
“We... the SPARTANS work best as a team with each other. I suggest you strengthen then the platoons at each of the major bulkheads and we will support one. Should we secure that after the attack we will supplement the defence of other locations.”
“You really think you would be more useful in a team petty officer?”
“Yes sir, we weren’t trained to be lone wolves, we were trained to be a pack.”
He smiled at this analogy and nodded. “What about armoury needs?”
“We don’t need much sir, we mostly brought our own ordinance but I may go down there to service our weapons.”
“Good, I’ll radio through and give you full access. I’ll also upload a nav pointer to TACCOM for your positioning. Dismissed.”
Ajax stood up crisply, saluted and marched out. He and Black team took their armour and equipment all down to the armour and with the help of the master gunnery officer began to service all of it. Ajax ran all the diagnostic and software scans before recalibrating the armour then began to get to fixing the electronics suite on Elise’s assault rifle which had been pointing in the wrong direction and displaying the wrong ammo for some time now. He had handed over his shotgun for the armoury chief to service as it was in a terrible mess then looked over to Mike.
“Hey, Mike! Dismantle your Battle Rifle.”
“Why, I serviced the whole thing already?”
“That’s why SIR.” Elise broke in, laughing
“okay then, why SIR.”
“’Cos I said so.” Ajax said informally.
Mike grunted and sighed. He finished up on his armour then dismantled it then stormed out with his armour and his other pieces of equipment. Elise walked over to Ajax and sat down beside him at the desk as he fiddled with his helmet.
“What you gonna do to his rifle?”
“I’m gonna upgrade it, I had a few ideas about it after our last engagement.” He said, remembering back to Mike being outclassed by a Covenant sniper because he simply didn’t have the range or accuracy on his rifle.
“Hmm, well I’ll leave that to you, you’re the expert.” She said, gathering up her serviced kit and leaving. She hung her head through the door just after leaving it “I’ll oversee our defences”
Ajax turned to the master gunnery officer and smiled.
“I have a list of things I want to do to it…”
Mike lay on his bunk, reading a manual of a weapon and generally being a moody bastard. As Ajax entered he snorted in disregard for him and turned away from him as he neared.
“What do you want, jackass.”
“I wouldn’t talk to me like that, not after what I just did for you.” He said coldly before dropping the rifle onto his lap. He picked it up and began to acknowledge that it was his, it still had the Chinese script for ‘The monkey King’ on the side but seemed… Different. Cosmetically he noticed the optical rail was slightly different, as was the grip, it finally had a trigger guard! He was sick of it constantly accidentally going off while he stowed it, even though it was on safety. It had a new scope but he looked up the rifle and gawked.
“Me and the gunnery officer made a whole new barrel for it. Now you should be able to reach out and touch snipers with it. I got a new scope for it, it’s a powered scope with night vision and full optical suite built into the spare computer room in the back of the optical rail. He admired it and checked the scope a few times.
“Have you tested it out?”
“Yeah, it kicks even worse now but it does have a longer range and its more accurate. I can’t really say much for damage but if you stand in the way of it it’ll stick a hole right through ya.”
Mike cuddled it softly then looked up to Ajax.
“It’s more to help us deal with Covenant snipers better but no problem.”
“Has this sucker got a name?”
“The BR55 Heavy Barrel Sniper Rifle. I already uploaded the information to ONISEC3 hidden site. I’m sure they’ll love it.”
Mike’s face fell flat “You mean the monkey king won’t be one of a kind?”
Ajax shook his head and moved to his bunk and got on and finally got to sleep. He always had difficulty sleeping, more from paranoia that anything. He shut his eyes and finally got some shut eye but then something unexpected happen. He dreamed.
He slowly stepped along the grey floor that appeared a more translucent blue colour because of the faint glow at the end of the corridor. Ajax moved forward, undaunted. He stepped into the light and as his eyes adjusted he looked around the large room the focused on the two objects at the centre. The first was large, maybe a similar size of a scorpion. He couldn’t describe it but it was roughly a upside down teardrop shape that clockwise revolved slowly on a sloped axis, like the earth. As he reached out to touch it, it stopped then began to spin counter clockwise and stopped with the ‘front’ facing him. He looked around the room and saw Elise beside him, staring on. He could tell it was Elise even though her MJOLNIR armour seemed different and he blast visor was down. He caught a reflection of himself in her visor and looked different himself. His visor was a t shape and his armour all over looked different yet similar to the MJOLNIR armour he wore now. He looked back to the object and swore under his breath as several glyphs appeared across it. He looked at them, trying to comprehend them but they seemed to warp into more recognisable things.
Iris Initiated - Vio Transmit + 3 588 000
Searching Re-route...... /confirmed/
System Bypass In Progress. - Realignment Proceeding
006 032 113 064 Remaining
It counted down, missing every digit with 7, 8 and 9. A base of seven he quickly worked out.
“What is it counting down too?” He asked with familiarity to the other construct floating there, a machine with a yellow eye glowing oddly, four fins, a ‘tail’ and a yellow aura exuding off it. It floated closer to him.
“It is counting down towards the time when the seven break from hibernation and activate.” The machine said coldly
“What are you talking about light bulb?!” Ajax growled
“The fortress worlds... I am sorry… it is out last resort… they are loose again, it is only a matter of time.”
“This is how the world ends…” Elise said, her voice trembling. “This is what John knew, isn’t it?!”
“It must be done… so the galaxy can begin anew and have a chance at survival…”
“But… we can destroy them… we have arms, nukes, viral weapons.”
“Do you think that we did not try that? Do you not think that we exhausted all those options?! We did everything possible. Thermo nuclear weapons, neutron bombs, dark matter weapons, anti matter bombs, viral weapons, genetically created soldiers and even fire. They adapt too fast, they are too mutagenic and are too resistant to radiation… this was the only thing we could do… starve them. My masters protected what they could then consigned themselves to their fate. They knew what they started.” The machine said, at first with a hint of anger and frustration then a hint of sorrow.
“Can we at least stop it? Can we stop them from activating?” Ajax asked in desperation
“No not for here at least, this is only a monument.”
“If not from here, then where?” A voice asked from behind them. A man walked forward in a jet black ONI uniform accompanied by a pair of soldiers wearing armour reminiscent of MJOLNIR armour but with some active camouflage elements and a larger, domed visor.
“From the Ark facility. I can show you star maps to get you there.”
It projected a holographic image of several star systems in a 3-D shape then projected a red flashing line from their current position to the ‘Ark’ location.
“That’s… that’s on… Ear-“
Ajax groggily opened his eyes to the face of Elise shaking him awake in a dim red light.
“Up and at them Ajax, the ship just went to full alert!” Elise shouted. Ajax suddenly leapt up, smacked his forehead off the upper bunk leaving a dint then rolled off and fell flat on his face from the second bunk. Elise just laughed and dragged him up. Mike was already half suited up. Ajax and Elise helped finish him off then Ajax helped Elise then they helped Ajax suit up then arm up. As the crew ran to battle stations Black team ran to their defensive position. The defensive positions were based outside the areas that would be sealed in combat. Their combat defence position had been overseen by Elise for some time before use. Trip mines at the bulkhead, layers of gun shields and several machine guns. Several Ammo dumps and a medical position were set up about 6 defence points back. After that it was into the interior ship defences.
They ran in to the position, welcomed by the Lieutenant there and moved in deeper. They moved to the forward defences and took their positions. Mike stood behind a gun shield, Elise behind a lower gun shield with a machine gun then Ajax moved over to an intercom.
“Sir, are we expecting borders?”
“Negative, not yet, the Covenant fleet has just been detected. Prepare for battle first.” The admiral responded. Ajax lurched slightly as the ship swung and moved into position.
The Axon Gate began to move up in the formation in a mid felt position with the UNSC Sun Tzu beside her. Destroyers and frigates moved around their flanks and began to hold their position. All ships released their long sword fighters that floated beside them in a defensive formation. They began to manoeuvre then information flooded into al the ships.
“prepare for firing solutions from Admiral Harefield.”
The ships began to manoeuvre to target as space beyond them warped and began to twist and gradually spat out a Covenant fleet.
“We count 28 Covenant vessels coming out of slipspace, advance readings show… 2 CSS class battle cruiser, 1 carrier, 9 destroyers and 16 frigates. Dammit… they’ve started releasing seraph fighters…”
The Covenant ships virtually came out in front of the UNSC fleet, maybe somewhat rashly and early. The UNSC fleet barely had time to send out their full firing solutions. MAC rounds suddenly flew loose at close range, less than 40km, and began to approach the enemy at speed. While the fleet emerged they were slightly disorientated and while in formation weren’t powered up. The first wave of MAC rounds came in while their shields were still down and struck immediately with deadly affect. Rounds punctured Frigates and destroyers, blowing them out of position. They began to fall away with holes punched in them. They vented debris and molten metal out into space as they seemed to tumble into the cosmos. The Covenant quickly got their bearings and brought their shields online. Pulse lasers began to charge and then lashed out at the fleet, stabbing at human vessels. The ships began to bring their engines online and manoeuvre into combat as the Covenant moved to their broadsides and began to charger their main weapons. Bands of red light gathered like a storm along their sides, gathering into powerful board side shots. Pulse lasers continued to lash out from several smaller ships, with two frigates being cut to ribbons and simply catching fire and falling silent. A destroyer was out of the battle as well, its engines more or less blown off by repeated pulse laser blows. The light of the fleet become blinding until they launched their vicious attack. Perhaps two dozen plasma torpedoes were unleashed in a cascade of fire that homed in upon their targets. Many struck their homes with frigates, burning into them and destroying them. One was homing in upon the Axon Gate as it attempted to manoeuvre useless out of its firing position.
“This is the Granite, you can thank us later.” The radio barked.
The UNSC Granite accelerated up into the path of the plasma torpedo and the frigate took the deathly blow instead of the Axon Gate. The ship was covered in a brief cascade of unnatural fire then its lights died , followed by its engines then it simply began to drift silent, a fire burning through the underbelly of the ship.
“UNSC Granite come, Captain Ironside, come in.” The admiral barked but the response was silent.
Archer pods lit up the darkness of space as they were exchanged as the UNSC fleet closed on the Covenant fleets rear as their broad side ploy had gone some what wrong. Pulse lasers lashed out, taking more Frigates. Several hit the Axon Gate but it survived for now. A plasma torpedo slammed into the Sun Tzu, burning through its carrier decks that were quickly vented to save the ship. Ahead of the Axon Gate the destroyer, the UNSC Brawler sped forward as a CSS battle cruiser began to line up along side Axon gate and they briefly exchanged fire before the cruiser fell strangely silent.
“This is Washington frigate squadron, request safeties off for out SHIVA’s.”
“Request granted, give them hell.”
The Washington Frigate squadron, led by the UNSC Washington followed by the UNSC White Lion and the UNSC Crimson. They unleashed their MAC cannons from behind onto a number of Covenant ships then launched a shielding barrage of Archer missiles at a destroyer and a group of frigates. The Destroyers shields failed under the mass archers then the SHIVA struck it. There was a bright flash of light that blotted out all of the combat around them. The bridge crew of all the ships shielded their eyes and then as the light died the achievement came clear.
“We took out a destroyer! Two frigates crippled!”
They began to finish off the ships and move across the flank of the enemy fleet. Ahead of them another Battle Cruiser moved around and began to arm its weapons. A band of red light began to gather on it, signalling untimely death for the frigates. Two torpedoes fired off in a bright blot of fiery light. The Navigator of the White Lion was completely blinded and hard barely enough time to react to the torpedoes. He evaded the first one narrowly but the second slammed into it’s forward keel, burning straight into the vessel and melting into it. The second swung around and closed in upon its back and hit its rear and burned into its fusion reactor. Burning atmosphere was vented from the vessel as it began to slow then simply exploded, spewing its burning remains forward with its propulsion. Pulse lasers lashed out, slamming into the Washington, burning through its prow and keel with ease. It burned a whole into its MAC cannon then another two burst hit its aft keel and its port engine, burning into it and damaging.
“Sir, we lost the MAC cannon! We have hull breaches on 4 decks, bulkheads failing, we lost engine control, we’re in a collision course.”
“All crew prepare to abandon ship. Weapons control, I want another Archer screen then another SHIVA launch then load the last into the tube and prepare for launch.” The captain ordered. The weapons officer quickly responded then looked to the captain.
“It’s been done sir.”
“Now evacuate, I’ll finish this off.” The captain said, getting up from his chair and getting into the navigator control chair, pushing out the pilot. The command crew begged him to come but he wouldn’t, he wanted to go down with his ship. They eventually relented and made a break for their lives. Ahead of him there was another blinding flash but as soon as that seemed to die there was a second. The Crimson had launched her SHIVA after Washington’s.
“This is the Crimson, I know what your going to do and its mad… best of luck.”
The Crimson and the longsword escorts that had accompanied all three pulled back and began to turn sharply around. The Captain used any and all rudder control left to try and bring her level with the ship or at least ram it at an angel. More pulse lasers lashed out brutally but now the ship was at maximum power though its reactors were now melting down. The ship accelerated faster and the Captain blew the forward emergency thrusters at the last second and slammed into the ship at an angle, dragging along the side and leaving a gash in its wake but lost its port engine. What would it matter, they weren’t coming back. He clambered from the navigators chair and climbed over to the captains chair as a warning message blared out from the remains of the A.I. that had left sub routines but left with the crew.
“5 seconds to core meltdown”
The captain pulled himself up to the captains chair and back into his seat and panted. The bloody stump that was once his leg made him smile.
“This is the Captain of the Washington, watch the fire works.”
He hit the fire button that had been winking with a red flashing light at him. It launched down the tube and into the ship at point blank range.
“you don’t have shielding to protect you now you bastard.” He smiled
The warhead impacted straight outside its launch tube and exploded.
The Admiral lowered his hand from his eyes.
“Report?” he demanded
“We are no longer receiving signals from the Washington… analysing…they are both gone…”
The light faded to show a debris field of molten metal that floated gently in space. However something was much more important to him now.
“Enemy boarding craft inbound!”
The Admiral grunted
“All crew prepare to repel borders, enemy boarding craft inbound.”
Ajax had been waiting for that forever. He motioned for everyone to get ready and levelled his assault rifle at the door way. He heard clamps hit on the other side then anti matter charges exploded to breach the hull. They waited patiently. Elise began to get inpatient. There was clatter on the other side of the door as the enemy moved about then suddenly the door exploded violently. He recognised the plethora of aliens, he fought them dozens of times. Grunts up first. All too easy. The machine gun began to chatter as soon as the charge went off, he would have to bring Elise up about that later. The first Grunt to step through squealed as several rounds tore through it. Many simply rushed through at them, firing off their plasma pistols wildly. Mike took down the rear ones with expert shots while Ajax and the first Marine squad opened up too, cutting more down. They moved through with sheer numbers and tumbled into the mine field, blowing many of them to pieces. Chunks of meat and secondary explosions from their methane tanks rattled the ship violently. Blue plasma bolts tore through as Elites, protected by jackals, moved up. Not a chance. Mike threw a grenade which rolled under the feet of the Jackals and killed many of them before they could dodge. Three of the four were torn to pieces, giving Elise a shot at the Elites, mowing down one and wounding another before they could move to cover. Ajax hit the other one of flanking fire along with two marines. With a wounded one left and another one pinned they didn’t’ stand much of a chance. That is until Ajax heard three more anti matter charges.
“We got three more boarding parties! Hold on!”
More and more waves of enemies came in a similar fashion, improving with each Attack Now plasma grenades were sailing over their heads blowing up their defences and leaving them showered in molten metal. One stuck to a marine’s shoulder. Ajax was prepared to throw him over the defences but he instead opted to rush at them screaming. He took two plasma bolts to his body, burning through his body but he simple tackled an elite. The explosion was brutal, whipping out a number of them. Soon ammo ran low and they began to retreat. One marine got up to leave when an over charged plasma sizzled into his back and burned right through him, leaving a smouldering hole where his chest should have been. One leapt out of cover to try and help his three comrades and SPARTANS retreat when a needler spat little pink spikes of death into him. Several stuck into his chest plate and exploded, destroying his armour and literally blowing open his chest and killed him. Elise tore the M247 GPMG off its tripod and walked backwards, firing. A few needles bounced off her armour as she moved and a few plasma discharges were dissipated against her armour. Mike threw a few grenades then they finally made a run for it. All of the 6 survivors moved back to the ammo dump except for Elise who kept up the fire. They got all the way to the rear and armed up quickly as possible, tearing open ammo packets and putting them into the empty magazines and moved back into combat. During the time that they had been resupplying two more check points had fell. The second held for much longer, leaving a long trail of corpses from the first line to the second. Elise was now using her assault rifle as the MG had run dry. She turned back, welcoming them back when a blob of radiation sailed through the air and smashed into a gun shield, blowing it to pieces, along with the defending marines. He turned back to fire as a pair of hunters charged down the corridor, trampling corpses as they did. More plasma blobs arched towards the defence points obliterating two more with ease, killing many of the marines. Elise Pulled her SPNkr from her back and fired once with a sly precision. It slammed straight into the lead hunter. No amount of armour could save it now. It was blown to pieces with ease. She ducked behind a piece of cover to reload when the second fired on her. She leapt at the last moment and was blown onto her back and skidded along the floor. She aimed her rocket launcher at as she did and fired. The rocket flew straight at it and slammed into it’s body, blowing it to pieces. However their attack had left two lines broken. They retreated to the last line and ducked down as the machine guns gave covering fire. The Lieutenant ducked down and kneeled beside them.
“Another heavy wave will do us in, do you think we can hold it?”
“No, we don’t stand much of a chance. We should send a unit to the med station to evacuate the wounded and a unit to the ammo dump to evac it and lock both of them down his bulkheads to buy us time. One unit runs rear guard with us and everyone else pull back to the intersections, hold each of the defence points along there for as long as possible.”
“Sounds good to me, every, get to it!” The lieutenant barked.
Ajax turned around and grunted. Black team and a squad of fresh marines held down at the last point, delivering as much saturating fire as they could into the smoke left from battle. Nothing seemed to approach them and no fire was returned.
“Motion sensors are clear.”
“This is the admiral, well done, the enemy is retreating…Black team come to the bridge now.”
They looked to each other and nodded. They moved through the ship. It had been similar all over with the marines just holding on but nonetheless succeeding. The marines looked weary but nonetheless happy about their victory. They took a monorail down the ship because of its size and dropped off at the nearest to the bridge as they could. They quick marched to the bridge and then once on the spacious deck he gave a crisp salute with the rest of his unit.
“At Ease son…” He said, whipping the sweat from his brow “It seems the battle hasn’t go to great. Four Covenant vessels broke through our Defensive line… two frigates, a destroyer and a carrier. Now They have begun an assault on the surface.”
“So why aren’t we down there, sir?”
“We are preparing to withdraw and re group… we barely have enough forces to tackle them.”
“Then let us go still, we operate best with some dirt under our feet sir.”
“But what if the planet gets glassed with you still down there?”
“It’s a risk me and my team are willing to run. What about the fleet sir?” “Well while the enemy is engaged on the surface of Morigan III we are retreating to Morigan IV to the repair stations there. A battle group of a few frigates and destroyers are there to back us up. A new battle group is on the way with 11 more frigates and another Marathon cruiser.”
“What about the status of planet side forces?”
“General Marcus Aptom was groundside with 10,000 troops in the city of Olach. Enemy fighters took out most of the satellites around the planet so SATCOM is out. They did hold the radio transmitter but are having difficulty holding it and can’t get many messages through. Three cities within their landing zones are being assaulted including the capital Aptom is holding. Most the civilians were out, the marines were overseeing the evacuation of most of the supplies. If you go down there your to link up with Aptom then begin following his orders. I’ll order my longswords to aid you.”
“Sir, permission to take a trip to the armoury first, sir.” Ajax shouted
“Grab some nukes, SIR!”
The Admiral smiled and nodded.
An hour later the SPARTANS stood in the loading pay as a Pelican was loaded up for combat. They had packed it full of as much ammo as possible and ready for combat. It was stocked with as much ammo and a few spare weapons as possible. Along with that Each of the SPARTANS carried a Fury tactical nuke. Among spare weapons they had gotten a Missile Pod for heavy fire power and AIE-486 heavy machinegun. They clambered in past the crates and motioned for the pilot to go. They jetted out of the bay after it had been depressurised then began to drop to the surface as all the fleets longsword fighters followed suite. Ajax looked back to the fleet from the cock pit and sighed. It had been a victory, at least tactically. Only a handful of badly damaged vessels remained. The Axon Gate, the Sun Tzu and a few smaller vessels, including the Wyvern and Crimson remained, towing each other to safety. The ship burned through the atmosphere and came into the upper atmosphere at a decent speed and began to clear the cloud coverage. The scene was utter carnage. Dogfights tore apart the sky in lines of blue and yellow fire. The longswords were quickly taking control the skies through sheer wait of numbers rather than anything else. Ahead of him he could see one of the destroyers hovering in a supporting position for the carrier.
“Hey, get us near to its grav lift… that purple beam.” Ajax said to the pilot, pointing to it.
“We’ll do our best sir.”
Ajax moved to the back and primed a Fury. The looked to Mike who monitored the comms channels.
“Looks Like the general is staging a tactical retreat… he has totally lost control of the majority of the city and is holding onto some of the major buildings.” He said, looking to Ajax. “Reports from the other cities seem just as bad.”
“Sir, ETA to grav lift in 1 min!”
Ajax hammered the ramp release and made sure all the equipment was stowed. He held onto the edge of the ramp frame and stepped out. He watched it approach and started off the timer with his thumb. He threw it into the grav lift in an almost prefect pitch. The ship sharply listed away and Ajax rose the ramp up.
“Okay sir, ETA to the UNSC Command base is 5 mins. Prepare for dirt side and some enemy fire.”
Ajax bucked back up and held on as the ship began to close in. Pyres of smoke rose from the city as the ruined buildings lay in heaps of smouldering ruins.
“Sir, we have a problem, I’ve picked up reports two scarab walkers on the comms.” Mike said
“We’ll deal with those when the time comes. In the meantime we have a major objective. Deploy another nuke to the carrier.”
Almost ironically as he said they the sky seemed to rumble as the nuke on the Destroyer detonated.
“Okay, landing pad in sight now…Hold onto your helmets.”
The Pelican came around and on a flashing pad. Dust was thrown up by the Pelican as it gradually made its way down, deploying its wheels. After official touch down a captain rushed up to the landing pad and looked to the ramp as it fell down and gave a salute. The SPARTANS disembarked and saluted back.
“Petty officer second class SPARTAN-013, sir!”
“I don’t know who you are but you better be here to give us back up.” The captain shouted above the din of the engines.
“We are assigned directly to the General under orders of the Admiral.”
The captain acknowledged this and then sent some men to help them get all the equipment off the Pelican and too a separate section of their dump to be secured before then seeing the General. The base was a mess with the medical wing overflowing with wounded to the point were many were placed along the corridors. The SPARTANS got the Generals officer and went straight in and saluted sharply.
“So your SPARTANS then? I’ve heard much about you” He said not even looking to them and faced a painting on his wall. He was old and ragged and bore a scar across his face from a plasma burn. His eye had been destroyed and replaced sneakily by cybernetics made to look like an eye patch.
“Sir, our primary order at the moment is to plant a nuclear charge on that carrier… you have better intel than us, how can we sneak up to it the best?” Ajax said somewhat out of turn
“That’s a suicide mission… no vehicles can get within 3 miles of that carrier, that’s split chin’s territory. Hmm… we did notice a large amount of Spirit dropships moving back and forth. Maybe if you can sneak onto one or-“
“Or hijack it, sir.” Ajax said out of turn again
He nodded weakly but frowned at the SPARTAN. “How do you plan to do that?”
“Find it’s LZ and neutralize it then take the dropship.”
“Sounds like a plan but…. There is something that is a more pressing concern. If we lose this base then we lose this battle and intel reports a Scarab rampaging this way…I’ve heard we have next to no intel on these things… maybe your more in the loop than me.”
“I’ve seen the battle vids of it engaging UNSC forces on Athens in the Omega oh-four-three system sir, it looks bleak. A tank brigade took one on, two hitting its front, two hitting its side. It blew away two with that cannon on its head and stomped on another one. It…it really isn’t looking good…”
“How did they take it out, air strike?”
“Its got decent anti aircraft defence. Against slow moving longsword and Pelican gunship attacks along with Skyhawks and Sparrow hawks its brutally efficient. Along with that it has a compliment of Elite’s and grunts that would make one of their leaders blush.”
“Your still not telling me how they got it…”
“They undermined and booby trapped the ground it was moving towards. It fell into the earth and got stuck, allowing marine forces to board it. They gunned down most the occupants who rushed surface side and then boarded and destroyed it with charges from the inside.”
“Could we do that, do we have the time?”
“Maybe but I have a better plan. All I need are a pair of marine squads, three Pelicans as much jackhammers, snipers and machine guns as they can carry and a map of its route sir.”
“I’ll arrange it and leave it in your care. Dismissed.”
Ajax saluted and left with his squad then went to plan. He had always wanted an excuse to use the Falcon Wing parachutes he brought to every mission.
Ajax bent over the 3D map, looking at it’s predicted route, the four legged silver monstrosity moving all the while. A building that connected to a monorail line provided enough elevation to fire down on it with some accuracy. He looked to the squads of troops get ready and hefted his own shotgun. This was going to be dangerous, ore so than any other mission. The SPARTANS had optimised their gear to help them take it as quickly as possible and Elise carried a satchel charge to destroy it. It was now or never really. He finalised the marines positioning with Elise’s help and then ordered them out. They would wait on a taller building that lay half a mile away. They would base jump off there and assault it. Ajax had calculated by the time first contact was made they could jump and then by the time the scarab had left the firing zone they of caught up with it. Perfect. Ajax ordered the marines out and waited for the Scarab to arrive.
The sergeant shivered slightly, wrapped up in a field blanket waiting for the target to come. This building had only been secured by grunts, all they had to do was force them out with grenades and into the open. After that everyone took positions and set up their weapons. He sat on the edge of the monorail station, overlooking the high way and resting his head on the railing. His rocket launcher lay between his legs and wrapped up in his blanket. He almost began to nod off when information began to seep through his comm.
“Sarge, I got contact, I can hear it.” The corporal whispered
“go to radio silence, pass it on, wake everyone up and get them ready.” He said, waking up him self. He kept the blanket on him but stood up and moved into a crouched position and rested his rocket launcher on the railing. He would fire off both his rounds and grab two more reloads from the crate and fire off four more times. Hopefully this crazy plan would work. He could hear its thumping and it made him shudder. It rounded the corner and began to stride forward, the floor rumbling with each movement. He wondered how on earth it could operate in the mud, snow or sand with this little feet of its. He aimed his rocket launcher and thumbed off the safety. It moved closer and passed under the first nav point recorded onto TACCOM. Everyone broke silence and roared some kind of battle cry. Machine guns, sniper rifles and rockets all broke into fire into a sound that could silence even the mightiest of battles. The crew on the deck were completely whipped out, obliterated into chunks of wet meat. The rear plasma turret went offline as a rocket smashed into it and blew it to pieces. The forward one swivelled into life and spat fire in a wide arc at the level above them. The plasma largely missed but one unfortunate sniper was struck by energy and literally burnt to a cinder and fell from the building as his body turned to ash. A machine gun was hit and was turned to molten slag. More marines fired, pouring on their second wave of fire. The sergeant jogged back from his rocket crates and fired two more into the vehicle, one hitting its forward turret and blowing off its plasma directors and the second strike and elite and blowing him and his two grunts to little pieces. He smiled as it began to leave the fire zone then looked to the sky.
Ajax heard the COM burst out then moved forward and readied his flacon wing. They must of triple checked it but he still didn’t feel safe. It was no or never time and he decided to let go of his paranoia. The chute lay sprawled out behind him. He gripped onto the manoeuvring holds and ran forward, the air drag pulling parachute into the air and lifting his heavy bulk off the ground. They had been given modified ones with an even larger chute because if they used a normal one their bulk would drag them straight down. As the parachute pulled him into the air his team followed suite and now the three of them were airborne and began to descend to the Scarab. Ajax’s armour kept him toasty despite the chilly conditions and he was thankful for that, He manoeuvred his chute to counter wind conditions and swayed gentle towards him. Two Pelicans began to touch down on the roof and another spiralled like a vulture. Hopefully he wouldn’t be it’s carrion. He adjusted again and his HUD kept him up to date. Just 100 meters. He let go of his holds and drew his pistols and aimed carefully as more troops came deck side. How many did it hold? He opened fire with both his pistols in a typical merciless fashion. Fire clattered from behind him as well, gunning down any one of deck. Ajax emptied both magazines and holstered them and pulled the eject chord, the harness and fell to the scarab with a thud, leaving a visible dent, followed by the other two. They began to wash the decks with their weapons, Ajax resorting to his shotgun. Mike got rash and leapt down to finish off an elite when another stepped down out of under the arch and smacked him with its plasma rifle, knocking him off the Scarab and sending him tumbling to the machine’s leg. He struggled to hold on with her hands, her armour slipping off the silver armour with easily. He managed to loop a leg over then crawl onto it.
“Get off Mike, bug out, slide down its leg and wait for us!” Ajax ordered which Mike obeyed, moving to its leg, gripping on then slid down halfway and dropped the rest.
Elise and Ajax began to force the Covenant back into the lower deck and filled it with grenades, as many as they could find before moving closer. They moved down and both took a different side and moved closer. The under deck seemed abandoned. They moved closer and as they neared its controls a silver elite leapt from hiding and swing his plasma sword to Ajax’s neck. Ajax cart wheeled to the side, avoiding the blade as his body moved to the side then as he hit the wall, bounced off it and slid across the floor, still aiming at the elite. Elise held down her trigger finger and just hosed it, the magazine tearing his shield to pieces. Ajax fired once, the ball bearings tearing though its leg and shredded it while Elise seemed to aim purposely at its arms, sticking armour piercing rounds through them and rendering them useless. It fell, screaming and trying to find a way to attack them and squirmed. Elise pulled the pin on the satchel charge and tossed it onto him then ran outside, followed by Ajax. They got topside and leapt off the deck, smashing into the floor below. They got up and ran from the crates they left in the asphalt then hit cover as the bomb went off. There were a number of internal explosions, wracking its body then consumed it’s whole body in a ball of green fire that left only the tip of its legs which fell and clattered on the ground like abandoned toys.
“Enemy air support inbound, we’re bugging out. Your best off moving on the ground towards base. Good luck sir.” The pelican pilot radioed in as he moved away. Ajax gave a wave as if he could see him from here and looked to Mike who had retrieved his Battle Rifle and jogged over to meet them.
“Do we move back to base then?”
“No” Ajax and Elise answered simultaneously.
He motioned for them to get to cover and followed them into the shadows himself. He checked his shotgun then moved on to see what he could do.
A solid week of fighting had left even the SPARTANS drained. They moved through the Covenant perimeter, destroying supply depots and vehicle parks with a efficiency typical of the SPARTANS. Ajax stood on watch, over looking the road which was outside the building where they held up. He check his pistol and sighed. Two magazines left for it. He just resorted to using the one. He had his shotgun on his back but there wasn’t much point in using it. He had 11 shells left. The others were in a similar state, only having a few magazines left. Ajax looked across the road, his night vision coping well in the darkness of the unlit streets. He scanned the darkness then swore and flicked his acknowledgement light. Elise and Mike stirred and got up quickly and moved to the window, crouched. He pointed them to a pair of Covenant squads sweeping down the street. An elite and 4 grunts in a fire team with two teams to a squad in a wide loose pattern. It was sloppy but Ajax swore under his breath when he realised why. A squad on overwatch moved up on their rear. They were improving their tactics. A low hum entered the air and a trio of vehicles moved down the road and came to a stop outside.
“Mike swore so loud it was audible outside his helmet. They dropped into an encrypted squad com then looked to each other.”
“Their tactics are improving but not their encryption techniques, their battle net is buzzing… lets see… our translation package isn’t amazing but… shit.” Mike said flatly.
“What, what’s wrong?” Elise asked, her voice neutral
“That vehicle incoming, it’s a Shade with another squad in it with ghost escorts and turrets in its grav field. Two more groups inbound. I’m picking up four hunter killer groups moving in dropships over our head. We need to bug out, FAST.”
“If we move into the open they will hit us straight away on their scopes. We would be dead before we could sprint halfway.” Elise said, gritting her teeth so loud it was audible across comms.
Ajax huffed “Do we have much chance? The area to our rear are forested gardens, could that work?”
“It might spoof their sensors, if only for a little bit…”
“It’s better than nothing, move ou-“ Ajax said before being interrupted by a ball of what seemed to be a spectral blue flame fly through the window. The SPARTANS knew better and immediately ran out side as the grenade went off. They ran as plasma bolts filled the air, sizzling behind them and melting through walls. Mike threw his last grenade to his rear to cover their escape. He didn’t look but knew he didn’t need too. Screams filled the air as shrapnel tore through them. Ajax kept running out into the forested area and sprinted as fast as he could. He heard plasma bolts screech through the air, burning the ground that it hit. They were way off and seemed to be firing at random. Ajax ducked into a rocky outcrop, followed by his comrades and began to fire as targets pursued them. A grunt scream as a round tore into his brain and exploded, blowing out chunks of skull and brain tissue. Elise caught two more grunts and Mike stuck three bursts into an Elite, the third burst hitting him in the head and reducing it to a bloodied mess. They suddenly moved on as a drop ship locked onto them and rained fire onto their position, melting the rocks where they had just stood seconds ago. Plasma grenades seemed to rain from the sky, making Ajax curse.
“Smart bastards are using them as flares and to flush us out!”
They rushed to the edge of a clearing and saw a spirit touch down. All of them opened up fire as the enemy descended the ramps on the side compartments, gunning most down before they got out. He smiled but it was quickly whipped out as the second team on the other side opened fire with the departing spirit and caused them to flee again. They kept moving until Mike dropped and seemed to dig his hands into the dirt then easily pulled a disc free from the ground.
“The sewers will provide us cover and spoof their signals, move!”
Ajax leapt down first, scanning it, using his light amplification to help aid him. Elise dropped in second then Mike crawled down and shut the top. He dropped down and they moved on. Their air filters worked as hard as possible, filtering the stink out of their nostrils to try and stop them from gagging. Ajax moved forward to an opening where it led to a large circular room which had a waterfall falling from the sewers above to the sewers below them. He looked up and saw the grating was clear then moved tentatively forward when something suddenly leapt up. It seemed slightly taller than an average human but it was thin and gangly, as were its clawed limbs. Its eyes were orange and compounded, like a fly. Ajax didn’t even give it time to notice him and stuck a series of rounds into it’s chitinous hide, blowing it apart into a spray of yellow ichor. He swore as more rose, making buzzing sounds as their insectine wings beated fast enough to keep them aloft. The others joined him, putting them down quickly and efficiently but dozens seemed to swarm from below. Ajax cycled his magazine as did Mike while Elise covered them and he commanded them to split orange eighty-eight. Run like hell. Above them there was a crescendo of noise then they were showered in molten metal. A dropship was above them, blowing through the grating and saturating the sewer with fire. He ran and turned to fire, blowing eight more out the air but they seemed to keep coming. The darkened sewers was lit in flashing tones of yellow, green and pink as fire was exchanged. Mike and Elise only had half a magazine left when they finally decided the situation was not going in their favour and retreated while Ajax swapped to his shotgun. He moved forward and swore as a dozen or so grunts filled the sewer ahead. He just kept firing his shotgun until plasma stopped coming in his direction. Now he only had 3 shells left. He moved up and reached down to grab a plasma pistol when there was another bark of fire and a blue glow filled the room.
“Stealth Elites! Fall back!”
Elise and Mike fired largely blindly as the Elites were in the dark and invisible. Ajax fired off what remained of his shotgun shells and fled. As the others fled Elise dumped her now useless rifle. They kept running until they panted heavily, something that never happened to SPARTANS.
“Mike… do you have a SATCOM link up?” He said between pants
“Negative, no signal down here. We should go topside and check out the situation.”
Ajax nodded and moved to the nearest surface access shaft. He climbed up, putting a strain onto the ladder rungs as he moved and scraped the sides. He punched off the disk and looked over the edge.
He leapt up and scanned the area and then helped the others up. They replaced the cover and moved to the cover of a garden. They lay in hiding in the suburbs. No ammo, no idea where they were, no hope. Mike swore as they hopped another fence and ducked down behind a hedge.
“SATCOM is still dead but we have other problems. We have two hunter killer teams in the area, two more in the air, three en route. Dammit, they are sweeping this area good… we don’t have a chance.” Mike said, looking to the ground as he said this then to Ajax but gave a confused noise as he noticed Ajax wasn’t there. The shed in the garden seemed to rock slightly and its door lay several meters away, torn off. There was the sound of an engine revving and something whirring. Elise smiled cheekily while Mike just looked on, more worried than anything else.
Mou ‘Jaitasee moved forward, moving behind his Unggoy trio. To his left one of his fellows moved up, urging the grunts on forward. Ahead of him two more teams moved forward. They had been moving around when they heard a sound akin to the human engine. Frustrated by the sound of the inelegant human engine, his forward Sangheili moved forward, pushing past the grunts and growled at the incessant sound. His growl soon turned to a howl of pain as a demon leapt from the shadows, an odd object in his hands. He only got one clear look at it, moments before the demon swept it across his shoulders and into his neck, severing it with ease. A violent spray of purple blood arched into the air, showing everyone. His shield didn’t even hold against this strange new weapon. It seemed to be a crude engine with grips attached that powered a series of teeth like protrusions on a long rail that reached out at least a meter from the body and constantly moved around it. He loved its crude brutality, if only it wasn’t being used on his men. Another demon leapt from the shadows on the other side, using a long stick with a metal weight on the end to slam into a Unggoy head, smashing right through it then crushing the skull of his comrade. The Sangheili in charge of that group swore and raised his plasma rifle but another demon fell from the area above and slammed a metal shaft with a flattened head into the Sangheili’s side, tearing into it past the energy shield and into his body and was wrenched out, resulting in a scream. The demon span and slammed it into its head, the thing edge cutting through it like a plasma sword through an annoying grunt. He gagged, he had never before seen such tenacity or brutality from these creatures. Ahead of him the demon racked his weapon through the three Unggoy ahead of him, cutting through the mid way points in the head, cutting where their eyes where. One had his head cut in two, another was killed out right but a third was left blind and in intense pain. He kicked right through their corpses and as he and his grunts rose up their weapons to fire he leapt into the air and crushed a grunt beneath his boots. He brought down the weapon in a wide arc and into his shoulder and cut in, dragging it down with brute force, rending him apart. His vision was clouded by a fountain of his own blood and he screamed out in pain. His head lolled to see his comrade having his neck broken by the human with the metal shaft, crushing his neck from behind. He died just as he saw an Unggoy crushed from a blow from the wood stick weapon from above.
Ajax withdrew the chainsaw and wiped the copious amounts of blood away from his face. The red Elite lay crumpled and torn beneath him. Elise and Mike mopped up the last of the grunts but left the blinded one alive. A brutal act of torture. He reluctantly dropped the chainsaw as Elise dropped her sledgehammer and Mike dropped the shovel. It had been fun while it lasted. They gathered up the weapons with mike grabbing two plasma pistols and a plasma rifle, Elise scooping up two more plasma pistols and a needler and Ajax got two plasma rifles and a plasma pistol. They looted them of grenades and quickly made their escape as drop ships began descend onto the gory scene.
Ajax stared through his magnification at the enemy vehicle park and sighed. He counted twenty wraiths, enough to over run UNSC command. They didn’t have the weapons to take them on or the ability to attack the camp.
“So what do we do? We can’t take them on but we can’t let them go. With no access to SATCOM still we might as well sit and watch!” Elise said, her voice strained
“If we can buy time I have an idea.”
“What might that be?” Mike said, rolling over on the embankment where they hid.
“Remember in classes, hearing of freedom fighters, terrorists and insurgents on Earth?”
“Yeah, but I don’t think belief in a flawed religion or an out dated ideal will help us.” Mike said, his tone slightly angry.
“I was thinking more of their tactics… making improvised explosive devices to use on the enemy and launching guerrilla attacks.”
“It sounds like a plan…”
“We need to slow them down first, Mike drop your plasma grenades at the base of the arch and set one off, same with you Elise, I will share mine out afterwards.”
They nodded and ran into the shadows of the arch, hiding from the plasma turrets around it. Ajax began to move southwards. He heard two loud bangs and smiled. He brought up a nav map of the area and bit his lip. There was an abandoned marine stockpile, hopefully it would still be intact. They moved towards it, moving through the shattered back streets. They kept moving, getting lax. Ajax should never of let himself stay out of cover to long as he moved into the open. There was a flash on pink light and Ajax fell, clutching his shoulder. Elise spat out covering fire from her needler and Mike dragged him into the cover of a wrecked house. They ducked down and Ajax gripped the wound.
“So that was the covenant sniper I’ve heard of…”
Ajax clutched the wound but didn’t seem to scream or shout. His pulse was slightly up but his life signs were fine. It was amazing considering the hole that was punched through his chest.
“Why the hell are you not dead…” Mike said, touching the wound.
“I don’t know but you better bio foam me before blood and hydrostatic gel begins to leak.” He said in a rather odd tone
“Amazing… it must of missed vital arteries by millimetres…”
Ajax just snorted and stood up. It was damned weird that he wasn’t dead. He was glad and all but didn’t seem to care as much as he maybe should off. Mike angled the plasma rifle in his hand oddly and grunted.
“Two Jackals with these weapons and a pair of Elites moving up with other weapons I haven’t seen before… they have a trio of jackals covering them with shields.”
Mike, go left, flank the snipers and take their weapons, those could be useful, Elise, run right and loop around on them through cover for a distraction, I’ll go straight forward last and deal with them.”
Elise was about to open her mouth to argue but Ajax and Mike moved into position to get ready. She sighed at the reckless plan and then sprayed an array of needles wildly into the air and ran, still firing the little pink spikes of death. The rouge rounds spiralled around the air before homing in the jackals then bounced off their shielding. The snipers opened fire upon her and that was the signal for Mike and Ajax to move. Mike simply sprinted across open ground while Ajax ran forward, firing off both his plasma pistol and plasma rifle, peppering the enemy with fire. The jackals charged up their plasma pistols, dumping massive amounts of energy into those little claw weapons then fired Ajax just grunted as he dug his legs into the ground at odd distances then kicked them off separately, sending them off into a spin in the air. All three plasma bolts sizzled past him, his armour’s temp rising along with the static and the radiation counter. He kept firing as they charged again. A rouge plasma bolt struck on of the jackals it its reptilian head and burned away a good portion of its skull and killed it with ease. He dumped plasma energy into his pistol in revenge and as he hit the ground he rolled then leapt into another spin as more plasma bolts sizzled past him. He fired it off and it struck a Jackal and its shield failed. It shrieked and ran while the other’s shield fell under repeated fire and it backed off as well. The Elites grunted and fired their rifle like weapons with repeated volleys, small yellow-green spikes launched at him and sunk into the dirt around him and one sunk into his arm, burning through it. He rolled into the cover of a burned out car and began to dump energy back into his pistol. He leapt up and fired on one Elite until his shields flashed blue and died then fired the pistol. The sizzling bolt hit the dazed elite in the chest and burned into its body. It threw it head back and roared as green fire and smoke belched forth through its throat as its insides burned. Sparks flew off its body as the green fire dug further in but somehow it was still alive. It struggled, screaming then hit the floor with a thud, a whole now burned right through it. The other began to put suppressing fire on him but suddenly screamed and reached for its back, as if trying to brushing something away then there was an explosion of pink fire, blowing rents through its body. It tumbled and Elise leapt over its corpse to the midst of the two jackals that had regained their confidence and began to fire again. She smashed the spine of the Needler into ones face, shredding it with the magazine and twisting it. She smashed her fist into the other, crumbling its skull.
“Elise, get down, the snipers!”
Elise turned but her view was interrupted by something else. Another Elite, a silver one with a plasma sword glowing like a ghostly apparition. He swung it up but suddenly a pair of will aimed pink spears of light impaled him and left him crumpled on the floor. His blade exploded in his hand, leaving his body in a pool of his own blood.
“Mikes got the snipers and the stockpile, lets move!”
Ajax got inside and looked as Mike handed Elise a sniper weapon and she in turn passed him some grenades. Mike showed them through to the stockpile and presented them with a list of armaments.
“We have 15 Lotus mines, 11 antlion mines with a detonator, 13 astrodiea mines, a few drums of oil, napalm material, 10 cans of C7, some broken down equipment for radios and computers, a huge pile of spent casings from their machine gun positions, plenty of grenades but not a single damned magazine. I found some type 14 bombs but they don’t have any explosive payload, its been removed. We only have a detonator for the antlions and not even a remote, timer or a electric cable for the C7 and C12. I found some 90mm scorpion shells but they won’t do us any good. We have a few boxes full of Frag grenades though that should at least give them a black eye.”
“hmm… there was a main road down to the base right?”
“Yeah, I think so but there is another road that loops right by past our current position.”
“Perfect, Mike, seed the main road with the lotus mines, make sure they are well hidden and seed the area with metal filings. That should screw they scanners, do the same here Elise. You seed the astrodiea mines in cover up and down the bypass and antlion mines any where. Dig a few holes… quite a few holes. I will stay here and begin making the explosives.”
“If we seed the main road and they send a scout in who gets taken out then they will obvious not go that way.”
“It’s to force them to come this way so we can hit them with out IEDs.”
Elise and Mike looked to each other, almost unsure but shrugged and went about their business. Ajax looked to the massive amount of things to play with. He began to retrieve car batteries, bottles, rags and other seeming pieces of junk.
Elise came back in later that afternoon to the stockpile and whipped the sweat from her brow and dumped her shovel. She had removed her helmet earlier on after she set up a sensor perimeter to make them feel safer. She looked to Ajax who seemed to have a long array of weird looking gizmos sat on a table.
“Ajax… this plan.. I… I’m not sure if its going to work… maybe we should withdraw while we still can…”
Ajax shot a dark stare which he had never once used upon her. She was slightly taken aback by it and put her hand on his shoulder. He shrugged her off and got back to his work, wiring a circuit board with a metal spike and a soldering iron.
“Ajax... honestly… those were twenty wraiths, a buncha ghosts, at least fifteen shadows and a few vehicles we haven’t even seen before… what chance do we stand?” Ajax stood up, knocking his helmet off the table, knocking his chair over and looked her right in the eye.
“I can do this.” He said from gritted teeth, his voice underlayed with angry tones “Have some faith in me…”
“I do it’s just…ugh.. I am going to come right out and say it, I don’t want to die in some stupid last stand.”
Ajax just ignored her and righted his chair, picked up his helmet and sat back down. His dark hazel eyes had seemingly flared there, putting the hair on the back of her neck on edge. He went back to doing his work. As she left there was a spark and the sound of a fist being slammed into the table. Elise looked back and saw him holding his head in his hands and just shook her head.
She had to admit, Ajax was good at what he did. In the time since they took to the stockpile he had made an impressive array of weaponry. He had converted the tank shells into directional explosives aimed at the surface from their hiding places in pots in the road. He had replaced the Type 14’s explosive filler with C7, putting as much foam in as possible then resealing them and arming them before putting them into the potted holes. He had took the oil and put them into bottles and then stuffed the top with oil soaked rags. He had created plates of C7 that lay on plates of titanium with a detonator made for them. The C12 had the same done as well, hopefully this would force the blast upwards. The now empty oil drums were filled with spent casings or napalm material and placed in the ground or on their sides and aimed across the road. They bottom was filled with grenades and had a C12 ball moulded and attached to a detonator to in turn act as the detonator for the grenades. This would create shrapnel fougass or napalm fougass, no much help against tanks but infantry and light vehicles might as well use paper armour. He had crafted dozens of detonators from bits of electrical pieces and made two types, one controlled by an electrical spark caused by a radio comms on a certain channel it was tuned to or by a wire linked to a car battery. Should the return wire be linked then it would blow. He marked them all with NAV points with attached radio length or cable number. Mike got high up to act as a spotter and sniper and Elise remained close for defence. She refused to leave Ajax even though he was clearly unhappy with her. Had had kept a few type 14 bombs free should any banshee’s arrive. He waited for them to come and remained sat in his fire control centre until Mike radioed in.
“This is Black three to Black one, target sighted, we have a Tango three three Romeo Alpha Victor moving up first, straight for the frying pan.”
Ajax heard a thump as a Ghost met a brutal end with a lotus mine and a smile of satisfaction met his lips.
“Convoy changing course, straight for the fire.”
Ajax looked at the tactical map that held his NAV points and marked the positions of vehicles thanks to the large sensor network. He watched as ghosts scurried across the road and just spat. They were just insects, the real target lumbered along. He watched as the lead wraith moved over the farthest explosive. He then began to scale through his radio comms while also connecting the bomb circuits and the sound of screaming and explosions gave him a grim satisfaction. The lead vehicle took the force of an plate of C12 explosive and was blown to pieces of molten metal that rained down upon the others. The second met a anti tank round from below, shredding its underbelly and its crew. For some reason all Ajax could hear in his head was Handel’s Messiah. It was beautiful. Type 14 mines activated and attached to ghosts and the odd new vehicle that reminded him of warthogs as they tried to flee and exploded, tearing them to pieces. As infantry rushed from the wreckages they met up with Astrodiea mines and got blown to pieces. The fougasses activated, spreading the area with fire and shrapnel, bathing many troops and vehicles in fire, burning them to a crisp or tore them to pieces. The battle seemed to die down and all that could be heard was the screaming of wounded. Ajax got up and prepared to go finish them off when Mike radioed in.
“Black one, we have trouble!” Mike said
“What’s the problem?”
“I’ve spotted five more wraiths with infantry sweeping ahead.”
“I’m all out of IEDs now… Elise get as many of the Molotov cocktails as you can and a lighter.”
Elise pushed a load of them into duffel bag and did the same for another but left it for Ajax. Ajax almost smiled. Almost. He found her lack of faith in him disturbing. He waited for the infantry to secure the area and detonated the antlion mines. The vehicles just ploughed on, followed by shadows. Elise ran out to cover and began to throw as many Molotov cocktails out into the battle as possible, lighting them off a smouldering corpse. She hit a tank and the glass smashed, sending burning oil all over the tank which seeped in and burned the occupants. It span out of control into a wall and exploded. Ajax ran to the door and did the same, burning them out as Mike covered with his rifle, snipping off gunners and neutralizing ghost drivers as they cam back around to protect them. The last shadow crashed into the back of the previous one, crushing both the forward section and rear section of the vehicles and their burning structures looked like one big bonfire. It was almost beautiful.
“Time to get out of here. We’ll appropriate the ghosts that were neutralized. “
Ajax said, motioning to the vehicles. Mike dropped down and ran over to one and powered it up and began to move away. Ajax looked to Elise and did a simple motion of a slide of two fingers across his face plate. She smiled. She had been forgiven. She bumped his shoulder then kicked a dead Elite off her ghost and powered it up. They cruised back to the UNSC base with some level of calm and peace. When he got back it felt like little had changed. The situation was still desperate but Ajax uploaded information of their assaults on their supplies which brought a smile to General Aptom. Aptom however had bad news.
“It seems the carrier you were after has bugged out, earlier this morning, it pulled out and moved away, 60 klicks to the south to an area of open sea. In good news the destroyer has moved up and now we have our SATCOM back online. It seems navy forces have rallied. The Sun Tzu and Axon Gate have been repaired and have been joined by several squadrons of frigates and destroyers, bringing the fleets numbers up to 15. Hopefully they can flush the 8 Covenant ships hiding in the asteroids and on the surface. If I get anything more I’ll inform you dismissed.”
Ajax saluted crisply and left with his squad then gave them some express orders.
“Get some sleep… I am going out to do some recon, I’ll be back by morning.” He said, walking away.
“Where are you going?” Elise asked, slightly hesitant.
“I’m going to hijack a dropship and recon their destroyer…”
Elise looked down but didn’t express how she felt openly. Mike bade him good luck and then bade him farewell. He briefly got a medic to look a his wound. The medic was shocked but was most adamant in just giving it some basic treatment. After that he got the hole in his armour patched up then he acquired a camouflage cloak and wrapped it around his body. He picked his armament carefully. He took a modified sniper rifle with its barrel exchanged for a silenced barrel as thick as his arm and a night vision scope. He took a pair of M7 SMGs fitted with a nasty looking silencer and they wrapped the cloak around him and took to a captured ghost and sped out of the base and back into the war zone.
Chapter 6: Friction
Ajax lay face down in the mud, observing the enemy base. They had been shipping things in and out of the war zone, something that intrigued Ajax. What could they be taking out? He ignored that and moved up. A Jackal made a few scans of the area from his outpost tower, held in the air by a grav lift. He took the sniper rifle out and began to glean the scope upon his head. The sniper rifle had now been daubed in green rags that helped to hide it. He hovered the scope’s cross hair over the Jackals head, moving around to adapt to the wind conditions and fired. The sabot discarding round punched through its head and blew its soft skull up in a spray of meat with pieces of skull stuck in it. The silenced barrel made a whisper of the gunshot. He moved it on and continued scanning. The perimeter look clear. A shade turret lurked higher up on a building but he ignored it, the gunner lay sleeping. He leapt from his hiding position and swapped to his two M7 silenced SMGs. He moved forward, scanning the area as he hid amidst a series of creates in a hunched stance. He moved forward and noticed a new spirit inbound to pick up a number of supplies that had been left near its landing pad. He sprinted over and prised one open then took a rounded object from his back. He armed his FURY tactical nuke for an hour and placed it in, amidst a load of human electronics. He shut the door then moved away and crouched back down. An elite moved over to his spirit and began to open the hatch door. He quickly sprinted across open ground and leapt in after him, hitting the Elite in the back. Thee Elite fell over but didn’t screech for reinforcements but seemed more shocked. Ajax pressed his gun to its head and held down fire, the shield failing miserably then several caseless rounds blew its head to pieces. The silencers gave the gunfire a distinct muffled sound. He looked up as an Elite crawled up from the ops station. Ajax pointed at him and fired on full auto, tearing its upper body to pieces as it’s shield quickly failed. He pushed the bodies into the forward placement and then crawled into the pilots seat. He brought it up slowly and carefully, having only been briefed lightly on it’s controls. He began to compare it to the banshee and the wraith, which he flew and piloted on many more occasions. He began to twist her around then rose her clear of the buildings and then towards the destroyer. He rose down again, carefully slowing it then waited. His TACCOM followed the position of the FURY as its IFF transponder read loud and clear. The ship transporting it cleared right ahead, moving to the frigate that hovered like a large sea creature with smaller creatures moving about it. That left the destroyer. Ajax had left it resting under a high way overpass but simply throttled it down the road and rose up high into the air towards the destroyer. He came about level with the vessel when the screen came alive. Strange glyphs scrolled and presented themselves to Ajax. He swore and kept on course until a patrol of three banshees pulled off and came at him. This was so ridiculously rash that he wished the earth would swallow him up. He suddenly listed the ship to starboard to avoid the first wave of plasma bolts. The banshees zipped past him and came around for another wave of fire. He was pretty pissed now. He needed to take some recon quite badly. He got up and moved to the side bay door and opened it up and leaned out. The three banshees came upon him, firing on the spirit with plasma bolts, scaring its hull and biting in places then launched fuel rod missiles into it, punching holes and blowing out its cockpit. The Spirit began to lose altitude and as the Banshees passed he leapt, coiling his legs up to give him extra power. He leapt to the nearest banshee and caught on top of its hull, grabbing onto it desperately but his force and weight sent it into a brief spin. The Elite regained control and began to slow. Ajax slipped back a little and grabbed the leg of the Elite piloting and yanked hard. The Elite screamed as he was pulled from his ship and fell to his death. Ajax slipped back further and latched onto the rim of the pod and pulled himself in. He pulled himself out of the dive that the pilot had accidentally put it into and span up to hit the other two from the bottom, tearing one to pieces in a hail of plasma and showered the one tailing it in pieces of molten metal. He span as he passed them and came into a falcon dive on the second as it tried to dodge. It zig zagged and Ajax simple launched everything he had, hitting it with a fuel rod missile and obliterating it. He began to dive and watched the terrain around the grav platform, taking pictures with his helmet for later analysis. He span off as more banshees came after him and began to move away, ducking into the tangle of highways and out of their grasp.
Elise stood on the edge of the fortification, looking out to the skies. There was a sudden flash of light in the distance and a horrific sonic boom. As others reached to cover their ears Elise watched impassively as her helmet filtered out the noise. She saw on the distance a lone banshee. She smiled weakly. The Banshee came down onto the shielded landing stripe and fishtailed, leaving scrapes on the ground. It’s hatch popped open and Ajax clambered from it and looked as Elise ran to him. He almost hesitated and thought she was going to hug him but she came to a stop and saluted. Ajax saluted back but seemed to ignore her and rushed to the command centre. He had information to compile. He began to compile his recon photos with city plans and SATCOM photos. He began to organise an assault upon the grav lift when a comms burst came through.
“Chief, I got good news, 117 is inbound with two squads of SPARTANS.”
Ajax looked to his tactical display and began to edit it. He had SPARTANS to back him up now. Of course, that is if John would cede command to him, which he doubted at first. Another burst of static punctuated the next message.
“chief, we have redeployment orders, a marine firebase holding off the destroyers forces has come under assault. We are hitching with a warthog convoy and backing them up.” Mike said
“Be right down.” He said, saving the mission plan and sending it to a military A.I. for review.
He moved out of the fortress after rearming back to a shotgun and sidearm along with a trusty MA5B. He looked to the convoy that began to form. Three M12 LRV warthogs, three M831 troop transport warthogs and most interestingly, a cougar AFV in the lead. Quick and decisive. They were to pave the way for three Pelicans to take to the landing pads by clearing the air and providing enough troops to hold that little bit long. Ajax commandeered a M831 TT and had his squad shack up with Elise in shotgun with a SPNKr and Mike riding in one of the passenger seats. Three marines rode with them as well with 4 more riding in another TT and three riding shotgun on the hogs, making up ten in total. It was enough to hold. Ajax revved the engine and floored it as the rest of the convoy followed suite and moved forwards. Less then one hundred meters from the base and enemy began to engage them. A handful of jackals on recon but nothing dangerous. High calibre rounds from the Warthogs and the Cougar made bloody messes of them. Sure those shields might reflect them but it would knock them out of position. He moved on, sticking to the midway point of the convoy. They all piled onto a motorway and spread into a rough v formation. They accelerated and moved ahead as fast as possible. Taking it slowly wouldn’t help them. There was a burst of static as a marine swore.
“We have a trio of banshees, 5 o’clock high, diving straight onto us!”
The three M41 LAAG gunners rotated to their target and began to warm up their weapons then opened fire. AP rounds left long tracer lines through the air, shredding the twilight sky and impacted onto the lead banshee and shredded it. The two following it opened fire and dropped their fuel rod missiles, both missing their marks but the plasma had left a scar on the bonnet of a LRV. A second was hit as it withdrew and began to sputter out smoke and spiralled out of control before exploding against a support strut. The third did a loop and tried to fire but took several more bursts to its nose and fell, smashing on the highway behind them. Up ahead of them there were bursts of plasma fire and a spit of disdain from the convoy commander.
“We have a Covenant emplacement, like hell is it going to stop us!” he roared
A number of plasma turrets chattered into life but too late as the Cougar and the Warthogs unleashed waves of high calibre rounds, the auto cannon shells shredding one and the warthogs tearing the others up Along a overpass grunts fired down upon them, prompting the vehicles to rise their firing elevation and attack them, spitting rounds up there. Several bursts of fuel rod guns barked out and fell to the ground. A LRV was blown to shreds, molten metal and rubber flying high into the air and the other, despite Ajax’s limited manoeuvring, struck to the left of then and blew the hog over. Ajax was strapped in and remained hanging in the seat as it toppled and rolled twice. Elise was thrown free, a familiar feeling for her while the others were protected by the roll cage. Elsie bounced across the highway to the protection railing, leaving craters as she did. She hit them hard and crumpled them under the blow but seemed to rise up and trotted over under fire. Plasma bolts descended as Ajax unhooked himself and fell out as Mike ushered the marines out and put down suppressing fire, trying to counter the enemy. Ajax crouched low and wedged his hands under the warthog and began to stand up, dragging his arms and the warthog with them and righted it as if it was a toy. He went low as plasma bolts sizzled in and they clambered back in, a rocket from Elise giving them more cover. They saddled back up and drove away. Up ahead the marine base looked hectic. Wreckage of vehicles, mostly Covenant lay dead and smouldering as Marine vehicles moved in two circular lanes around the base, driving and firing. Above them Banshees fell from the air on trails of fire and dropships stuttered and fell out of control and crashed into buildings. Fire erupted from every window in a effort to halt the Covenant. Ahead two scorpion tanks engaged a wraith, blowing it to pieces as the hogs saturated the air with fire. Auto cannon rounds pumped ghosts full of explosive rounds, destroying them. Ajax took the TT into the underground garage and disembarked and got surface side for the battle. Marines fought from a line of Combat barriers dug into the earth and reinforced. The vehicles couldn’t cross the fire zone in front of it in part to the rough terrain and the heavy fire power pouring out of it. Ajax hit the dirt with his squad and patched into SQUADCOM.
“This is Chief Petty officer SPARTAN-013, under the command of General Aptom I am taking tactical command of this battle, who is in charge here?”
“Major Kane reporting, we have serious trouble, two wraiths inbound across no mans land.” A strained voice wrung out.
“What’s across there?” Ajax asked
“A Covenant firebase, we spotted a field master but he’s taken cover now.”
As the marines spotted the incoming tanks they developed a thousand yard stare then began to step back from the defences and retreat slowly but almost broke into full sprints. Ajax strode front and suddenly roared through open mic.
“HOLD YOUR GROUND!” He shouted at them, immediately stopping them dead in their tracks “We will stand out ground!”
The marines seemed to stare at him for a few seconds, almost in fear of the near seven foot green knight but then their resolve strengthened and they moved back to their emplacements. Ajax ran forward to the defences and took out his rifle as Elise aimed upon the tank with her launcher and Mike opened up on the infantry. Plasma mortars were released and winded into the air like miniature suns and began to arch towards them. Rockets streaked out from the defences, striking down one with ease as missiles shattered into in a hail of fire, leaving chunks of purple metal in its wake. The other suddenly lost power with one rocket and nose dived into the dirt and flipped. As another rocket hit it, it explode violently. The rounds hit the dirt, blowing two craters of glistening glass in the defence line. Elites and grunts charged from behind the wreckage, plasma bolts flying at them. The marines began to open up full automatic fire into the oncoming mass. Elise took up a machine gun and began to mow them down with a brutal efficiency. In the shelter of the building a woman in casual clothing and an amour vest and helmet looked into a camera held by a similarly dressed man and spoke into a microphone held in her hands.
“Here you can see the brave resolution of the marines as they fight against the Covenant invaders, beating back wave after wave of assaults and- Hey, look at those marines!” She said, pointing to the SPARTANS. The camera focused on them as Ajax ordered them to fire and roared commands, firing on as he did. An Elite hit the barricade and leapt over, tackling Ajax. Ajax kicked him off and wrestled with him, grabbing onto his hands. He began to crush the Elites hands and began to force him down before kicking him in the face and pumping a shotgun shell in his head.
“D-did you see that… it… it just wrestled an Elite down like it was nothing… my god… tell me you got that!”
Night had long since descended and the air was lit up by fires and tracer rounds that marred the air but all the while their opalescent armour seemed to shine, even as plasma scorched and dissipated on it. After half an hour their attack stopped and fell back, the survivors running back to the base. As a red Elite signalled the retreat there was a unanimous cheer amongst the marines. They were shaken, many wounded, some gravely so but it was a victory. The camera crew ran up to Ajax and stuck a microphone in his face which seemed to shock him more than the Covenant.
“Sir! Sir! Can we have an interview with you?! Who are you, what gear do you have!?”
“Well.. I ..I” Ajax stumbled. Elise barged him away and said in a rather stern voice “This is a war zone, get inside now, you could be hit by a stray plasma bolt, get in now!” She said, ushering them away. As she returned she sighed. “Section 2 won’t be happy with us now.”
Ajax laughed at this but looked to the enemy base.
“We need to take that firebase…Mike patch me through to General Aptom.”
Mike nodded and kneeled then put up three fingers then two then one then made a zero sign with his index finger and thumb.
“General, this is SPARTAN-013, we need air support.”
“Like what?” he crackled
“Anything that can launch a ground attack, Longswords, Skyhawks, anything. I want some Pelicans to come up and support us as well.”
“I’ll go one better, I am detaching a squadron of longswords to secure the air then another for bombing runs. After that I will send two Pelicans and air support. Get ready for them.”
“Yes sir, thank you sir!” He said before detaching comms and then looked to the marines “I need 60 volunteers to launch a counter attack, put your name onto the squad roster on TACCOM!”
Immediately 97 names flooded the list, making Ajax choke. He took the first sixty and organized them into team alpha and team bravo. He had lead of team alpha on the ground, the plan was to move up on them with forty men behind their two scorpions after the bombing.
Sniper rounds and rocket rounds tore through the night as team bravo got to their Pelicans for their assault. Ajax heard the sound of Longswords thundering through the air and smiled. He looked to light amplification and saw 5 storm over head and engage patrolling banshees. No contest. The second squadron came in from up high and dropped all their missiles. The firebase, not much more than a series of purple walls and outbuildings, were consumed in the flames. A methane tank for grunts was hit and exploded brutally, flattening a whole area of the firebase. Ajax smiled with satisfaction then ordered the marines out. The tanks began to rumble over the uneasy terrain and the marines followed in tough rough columns behind them with several more on flanking moves. Ajax clambered onto the back and looked as the enemy rose from their defences to defend themselves. Several ghosts snaked out and were engaged by the Scorpions, the HE shells they spewed tore them to pieces. However several wraiths began to peep out of cover and that meant trouble. There was a whine of a missile as it struck into the tank and split it asunder. Several bird like shapes passed over head and spun around.
“This is Sparrow Hawk Kappa 1 call sign War Monger, do we have a air force combat controller down there? We need targets!”
“This is petty officer third class oh-two-eight, I’m the next best thing, we have two Charlie-Tangos, I have them on TACCOM, go to light amplification and fill that base with fire. Good hunting War Monger.” Mike said
The Sparrow Hawk fish tailed above him to face the target as it’s three allies followed suit, launching missiles into the enemy, the missiles spiralling and blasting tanks apart. Cannon shells tore apart the area along with enemy ground forces and light vehicles. Plasma burst fired up but to little effect. More missiles streaked out across the ruins and shells streaked back then they began to pull off as the tanks neared, lobbing shells into the enemy.
“This is War Monger to marines, we are ascending up and heading onto patrol, happy hunting marines.”
As the tanks rolled up to the defences and the marines broke in with team bravo bringing up the rear the Covenant forces leapt from hiding. Dozens of elites and maybe a hundred or two hundred grunts leapt from their hiding places. Plasma filled the air, cutting down marines before many could find cover. A blob of plasma sailed out and struck a scorpion and rocked it violently then another struck it in a similar spot, punching through the superheated metal and blew it asunder. Pieces of metal filled the air and more marines fell. One struck one of the Pelicans, shattering its wing and forcing it into a downwards spiral as it tried to crash land from its hovering position. It launched off its ANVIL pods, shattering many more enemies and began to spit fire from its nose gun. It span into the ground, spinning until the pilot cut the engines. Marines from alpha team moved up and tried to cover them as they pulled back to a safer position. Ajax spied a gold elite rise to the surface and immediately called the sparrow hawks back down. After a brutal strafing run he charged into the mass with his shotgun, blowing away the grunts and elites left. As he emerged from the melee he could see the field commander with two veterans covering him as he made his way further back to prepare for a retreat. Ajax charged forward and another marine ran up the charred slope of the firebase launch pad. A veteran levelled his plasma rifle but the marine just stuck a full magazine of a MA5B into him, blowing several thick holes through him with ease. As one charged Ajax he sidestepped and smashed it over he head, crushing its skull with the butt of his shotgun. He levelled his shotgun to fire at the elite but it had quickly weaved under his line of fire and tackled him brutally, knocking the air out of his lungs, dazing him and knocking him to the ground. He struggled to draw his shotgun up to fire on him but the commanders foot was on it and he was in no state to fight it off him. He rose up his energy sword, which cackled into life. It cast a pale blue light across both of them and sparks danced along the blade. He was in trouble. A figure hit the Elite suddenly, making his shields flare and pushing him back. The marine corporal was in front of Ajax and tried to punch him, making the Elite laugh. He picked him up by the shoulder and skewered him with his energy blade, burning through his armour and flesh then tossed him aside like a broken toy. He looked back to his target and met then end of a shotgun. Ajax squeezed n the trigger with no hesitation, peppering his enemy with steel balls. His shields flashed a brilliant blue and he stumbled back, shielding his face. Ajax cycled the shell and fired again, this time several balls punctured and blew into his armour, if only denting it and knocked him to his back. Ajax put his foot on his shoulder and just pumped another shell into him and purple blood splattered on him, tainting his armour’s green glow. The Elite still moved. Time to finish him. Ajax fired off one last shell and pumped the shotgun again. He stopped moving. Ajax clipped his shotgun t o his back and moved over to the marine and cradled his head.
“Hold on, the medics will arrive soon.” He said, reassuringly, reaching for his bio foam as he did. The marine just smiled and blood frothed from his mouth.
The wound was serious and cut through several vital organs. Ajax swore. The marine looked to him as Ajax retracted his blast visor.
“Thank you… what’s your name?” He said reassuringly
“Corporal Enzo Vincetti sir.” He coughed
“Easy now… the Covenant have retreated.”
He looked up and barked for a medic as the marines mopped up the remains of the Covenant that hadn’t broken and ran. A Pelican circled overhead and moved down, circling down towards them. As it began to touch down several medics disengorged and rushed to him and knelt down beside him. They immediately ushered Ajax away and he could only watch as he went into cardiac arrest and died in a pool of his own blood. Ajax watched on, almost emotionlessly. Elise put her hand on his shoulder and whispered over private comm.
“He did what any one, SPARTAN, marine or navy would of done. It’s what we do in this conflict. Sacrifice.”
“But… do you ever… do you ever feel the futility of it?” He said, hesitant
“Sometimes when I see worlds glassed but... every time we annihilate another Covenant force… I feel hopeful again.” She said in a soft tone. He just sighed and began to walk back too the base.
Ajax had waited until the med evac was complete before taking a trip back to the command centre on a near empty Pelican with his squad. When he got back to base he immediately let black team take a rest and immediately went back to planning his assault. The bases military A.I., Kublai Khan, had looked over the plans. The image of the little Mongol warrior amused him but his face was knitted with worry.
“Could this Linda really take out these gun turrets at such a distance?” He asked in a roughly English accent, though tinted with that of a inhabitant of eastern Asia.
“She could take them out at twice that… I have full confidence in my brothers and sisters.” With that there was a hiss behind him. He turned to see someone who finally met him in height.
“Sir!” Ajax said, snapping a salute
“At ease Ajax, I’m here to take over this operation… we’ve come in to finish that destroyer.” John-117 said
“John, with all respects I already have a plan in place.”
“Don’t worry about it, we’ll formulate a new one, get new recon and arrange it for all the SPARTANS.” He said
“John.” He said flatly. “I have a plan in place using day old Recon information and using the SPARTANS and a platoon of marines… no with due respect sir, it’s a fine plan, I have had a military A.I. look over it.”
Ajax could tell John was worried about it but shook his head “No, we need to bring in full strategic command.”
“JOHN!” Ajax shouted at him, making his attention fully on him “Have some faith in me!”
John looked to him and the holographic map of the battle then sighed.
“Okay, okay, lets look at this battle plan.”
Ajax smirked wickedly. John moved past him and bent down the holographic display. The plan looked complex, at least for the SPARTANS. The Destroy had situated itself over a large building made up of multiple rising gardens situated around the main tower.
“From city schematics and information I have acquired we need to launch a quick and brutal assault to quickly get our Pelicans in and out. There were eight Seraphs and twelve Banshees circling it. Me, Mike and Kublai here have been diving into the Covenant battle net and we think we could spoof their signals, for twenty minutes at least and in that time a few squadrons of longswords could have already engaged the target. We can quickly follow up in an escorted second wave and land on the fourth of the five tiers.” Master Chief looked and his face started to brighten.
“We drop in first, blow our way up to the sublevel beneath the top floor garden and fight our way through. After us the marines can secure the stairs and we can secure the access building. From the top Linda and Fred who form Charlie team can put down enemy turrets across the garden. Alpha team, the assault team will make a break for it under the suppressing fire of our fire team, bravo team. We do this from building to building until we can easily break through to the landing pad and drop our FURY.”
John’s face cringed.
“There’s a whole building in the way of Charlie team.”
“Negative, it was destroyed during their landing, there’s nothing there, I caught it on recon.”
John looked impressed and looked to him.
“How many longsword squadrons?”
“All but the two we have at this base. That’s eight squadrons. It will leave us open, for a time. Problem is we need a covered landing zone to hide our Pelicans while we take the destroyer out.”
“Do you have an idea for that?”
“A civilian hanger I discovered on the schematics. I haven’t had a chance to recon it, we have been battling Covenant forces.”
“So what now?”
“I am heading in with my team to recon it and then bring in a team of combat engineers and a squad to secure it.”
“Right, good hunting.”
“Brief green and blue teams while we are out.” Ajax said, waving himself out.
He himself finally rested, catching maybe two hours sleep before moving on. They were going to move in through the ruins of the city using camo cloaks to hopefully avoid detection. They set off close to dawn and made light work of jogging the kilometres to the hanger. Ajax hacked his way in, finding it locked down upon arrival and moved in, scanning the dark interior. Human corpses littered it, burnt and charred from plasma fire with grunts and occasional elites scattered around. They moved up stairs, locking down each door after them and got to the main hangar. Big enough for ten Pelicans, never mind the four they used. IT might be good for a forward base but this battle would soon be other. After destroying this destroyer and hunting down the carrier they would simply clean up with vehicles and bombers. By the sounds of things reinforcements were preparing to enter atmospheric combat which would end it all. Mike was radioing in the combat engineers when Ajax felt a shiver run through his bones. He walked forward to the rim of the landing bay and looked through the small window on the heavy steel doors. He felt like out there in the rubble someone was watching him. He waited couple of hours before the familiar whine of Pelicans entered the air. He opened up the bay doors and let the Pelicans pull in. He let the combat engineers and marines get to work then looked out to the rubble chocked streets. A piece of rubble seemed to move and fell from its delicate perch upon a wrecked car.
“Mike, Elise, eyes sharp, we have Covenant stealth teams dead ahead using active camo.”
Mike and Elise moved up and looked out then looked to him bemused.
“Distance?” Elise asked, somewhat unsure
“three clicks, I only just saw it. We need to go down and set up a defensive position in the rubble down there, follow my lead.”
With that he leapt from the bay to the ground 30 meters below. The others shrugged and followed and moved into their ambush point.
Spec ops commander Gras ‘Kortasee moved forward, scanning the area in front of his grunts carefully. He was out for blood and determined to catch it. Apparently a jackal sniper had spotted the demon wonder into the building up ahead and he immediately vowed to kill him. He had killed his brother in the streets only days before. He would have blood even if it cost him his whole unit. Twelve spec ops Sangheili and thirty spec ops Unggoy. They carried fuel rod guns, plasma cannons and needlers to aid them in crushing their foes. They strode forward, caring little for stealth, confident that their invisibility would cloak them enough. The area up ahead was wide and strewn with rubble, at least half a meter thicker than elsewhere. It would have been a perfect kill zone but he thanked his lucky stars that no one had sallied forth to attack them. Some of the Unggoy seemed to panic and picked a peculiar scent up. He silenced their child like bickering then scanned the area with the eyes of the ancients, picking everything up in shades of blue and purple, which meant it was cold and empty. Nothing for miles. He clicked and moved on when three sudden explosions blew his whole entire unit off their feet and pieces of Unggoy filled the air. Shrapnel tore through the air and plasma bolts slashes through the air in random directions. All discipline broke. Three large pieces of rubble ahead in a rough semi circle around the street entrance moved slightly and spat pieces of metal at them. The humans had crude camouflage cloaks that hid them. He caught a glimpse of their visor and swore. Gold and reflective like the demon’s helmet. Bullets slashed the air and caught them in a perfect position.
Ajax fired in bursts of five on them, his MA5B kicking back with a comfortable nudge. Mike was to his side, firing bursts and moving from target to target with precision. He pulled a grenade from inside his camo cloak and threw it, the pin having been attached to his belt. The grenade flew through the air into the group and exploded. Shrapnel ricocheted of the shields of Elites and tore up grunts, eliminating their active camo. Elise fired her rifle until it hit dry and the Elites finally organised themselves. They grunts put their turrets down and began to tear the air up with bolts of blue plasma that left patches of smouldering rubble that bubbled, melted and left glass in its wake. Elise hefted her M19 and fired a rocket into the enemy force, blowing the two turrets to hell along with a Elite. She fired a second, hitting their leading officer and blowing up two of his comrades. She dropped that and went back to her rifle as Mike and Ajax got up from their foxholes and began to sweep the kill zone with more grenades and rifle fire until all movement stopped.
“Reckon we can count the bodies?”
“I got on heat signatures as what looked like a whole lotta Elites and a big blob of grunts.”
“I think I atomised three or four elites.”
“I count 6 whole bodies and one shredded by grenades. I can’t be bothered to count the grunt corpses, most of them are in pieces…” Mike said, kicking a dead one
Ajax motioned them back and they moved back to the hangar. It was good enough. They had a mission to do.
As Ajax returned to the hangar it was an impressive sight. They had cleared it out, locked down many corridors, got the computers back online and barricaded it into a building they could defend. The Pelicans had now gone and they brought the next wave for the battle. Three, two loaded with marines, arrived, the third carrying the SPARTANS. Black team climbed aboard and while Mike strapped in Ajax moved forward along with Elise to the pilot compartment. Only Kelly was in there and Ajax motioned for him to move back with a thumbs up over his shoulder. Kelly ceded and went back as Elise got into the co-pilots seat and Ajax got into the pilot seat and strapped in.
“Make sure everything is strapped down, it might get rough, I want somebody ready on our rear gun just in case.” Ajax said over comms. There was an affirmative off Fred and Ajax looked back to the controls. He always felt reassured by machines. No emotions to get in the way, no injuries that can kill them. If something breaks, fix it. He gently lifted her up and brought her out the hanger then across the midday sky at cruising speed.
“This is SPARTAN team to Sierra-481, ETA to engagement?” Ajax asked through his comms.
“This is Sierra-481 Black Rock, ETA to target zone, five minutes. Squadrons one through four hitting them at seven o’clock, five and six hitting them at five, squadron seven and eight hitting them at six, we got them nailed.” The pilot responded in “When can we be expected to baby sit your bird?”
“Seven minutes for first wave, ten for the next. Hopefully once we give the all clear we evacuate the area and we are gonna need more firepower to do that.”
“As long as we get to blow those bastards out of the sky. This is Black Rock, out.”
Ajax pushed the Pelican to full acceleration and began to wind between buildings. As he brought her gently around alarm bells rang and Elise looked up.
“Contact! three banshees, nine o’clock high!” Elise said.
Ajax pulled off his helmet and dumped it in a stow box. Elise patched into the chin gun and began to warm it up. Ajax hit it into a tight curve and then accelerated to full speed. A group of plasma bursts sliced through the air as the banshees came in with Ajax evading them effortlessly. When it came to piloting and driving he was an artist. He span it into a brief dive and pulled under an overpass for cover from fire and back up into the air. He titled it 90 degrees, prompting a shout from the rear as the three Banshees kept hot on their tail. There was another buzz as two Banshee’s nosed around the street in front of them, prompting Elise to giggle slightly. There was a barely audible whirring noise followed by a swathe of fire, cutting the lead Banshee to pieces, blowing its main pod to smithereens. The second tried to move to the side for a better attack angle but was hit side on, punching several holes through it. They belched smoke and alien blood and it tumbled out of the sky.
“Fred, its up to you, nail those bastards!” Ajax shouted as he hit the button to lower the ramp. The rear ramp opened with a hiss and Fred clung onto the M247 in the rear and opened up fire upon them. Ajax did his best to steady the ship, restricting himself to moving up or down only. He heard the chatter of gunfire but little success and smiled at a new dirty trick. He pumped the engines to full, prompting his enemy to do the same and locked up the rear doors. He suddenly thrashed the airbrakes and put the thrusters into a upwards backwards motion. The three Banshees flew straight past them and split off into three. Elise immediately blew one as it went under them, blowing fist sized wholes in its upper canopy. It lost control the exploded satisfyingly. He followed one aggressively, keeping up with its swift motions as Elise toyed with it, blowing off a wing then the other to give it a slow and crippled death as it tumbled to the ground below. Ajax suddenly dropped down low as the third, joined by another four from above, pursued them. Ajax was barely off the ground and just accelerated full speed, going into a underground high way. It immediately modified the engines to take it down the slope into the main level then accelerated. The Banshees didn’t quite manoeuvre as well, one just going in at full speed and smashing into the ceiling while another one decelerated too late and lost its wing against the ceiling and crashed. The Pelican left a trail of sparks as it continually bounced off the ceiling and road but Ajax avoided hitting it off the wall. He tweaked the controls gently, forcing it around corners, crossing roads then he began to suddenly accelerate again.
“Ajax, we don’t have enough manoeuvring room in here to go that fast!” John remarked as he held on to a safety bar.
Ajax didn’t respond as the road suddenly opened up into an open air highway. Ajax suddenly rose the Pelican up then released the safeties on the ANVIL-2 missiles. He tilted it to a steep angle, promoting the SPARTANS to hold on then opened fire upon the road below. The Banshees emerged but where soon consumed in explosions. Ajax smiled with satisfaction. A few burning wrecks tumbled out of the fire ball. Ajax moved away and kept low as the enemy destroyer appeared in the distance. He looked up and saw several squadrons of longswords pass over head, leaving trails of vapour behind them.
Ajax was directly on time, which was somewhat of a miracle considering the chase they just encountered. He saw them converging in a semi circle formation on the Destroyer and the 8 Seraphs defending it. No contest. The comms came alive with radio transmissions as they engaged them, missiles and HE rounds being exchanged his plasma in a aggressive dog fight which soon went in favour of the UNSC as the Seraphs were overwhelmed and routed before they turned their attentions to the ground, bombing several enemy ground positions before going into a circular patrol pattern, spiralling like vultures. Several peeled off and came towards the Pelican as they rose up. They came into a tight formation and began to escort them to their target.
“Nice job you boys did.” Ajax remarked over the radio.
“Hah, those bastards didn’t stand a chance against us!” The squadron leader remarked.”
Elise cursed a little and began to operate the forward cannon.
“LZ is hot! I’m reading fifteen enemy signatures.”
“Get ready, its gonna be one hell of drop!”
The SPARTANS where used to this. They checked their weapons and readied up. John gave him a thumbs up and went back to join the others. The Longswords disengaged to escort the next wave and Ajax began to circle the LZ.
“Lowering ramp. Fred, lay down some covering fire. Everyone drop and we will lay down as much covering fire as possible.”
He lowered to about ten meters from the ground then heard them leap as both guns chattered into life. He couldn’t really see the battle but simple kept close to the SPARTANS and moved slowly with several turns. He did this for a short time until the all clear was sounded and he brought her down gently and then deployed the wheels and programmed for her to head to base in two minutes on autopilot then return when signalled. He patted the dash board slightly and smiled weakly. He unbuckled his safety harness and then stood up, took his helmet from the stow box and gathered his guns and leapt from the rear ramp. He Immediately ran after the other SPARTANS as they gathered around the door into the building and threw in a grenade. They entered, guns blazing before Ajax got in. Several grunts lay down, torn by bullets. Ajax took out his shotgun and then went in the lead, moving to a stairwell and going up. It was empty which almost unnerved Ajax. The marines were now landing and setting up their tiered defences which gave him some relief. He bade them to stop as they neared the top then moved out cautiously. He signalled that there where hostiles ahead and tossed a grenade into the room and as soon as he heard the bang he rushed in, followed by the others. They quickly cleared the room then secured the door. They were at one of the buildings.
“Charlie team, get to the roof, begin to engage targets, fire at will.” Ajax ordered with Fred giving an affirmative and Linda saying nothing though both flashed their acknowledgment lights. “Alpha team, get ready to move, Bravo get to firing positions.”
Kelly, John, and Will lined up by the door with Ajax as Mike, Elise and James lined up at the windows. The ground battle was sparked off by a pair of cracks in the air s the sniper rifles began to fire off. The fire team opened fire and Ajax opened the door, running out to the nearest piece of cover, several Covenant cargo crates. Several squads were caught in the open and were torn to pieces. They began to rush across the area from cover to cover to a second story building. They hunkered down as Elise blew the door open with a missile round. The rushed in as John and Will took up firing position by the door, hosing the building with rifle rounds and Kelly supporting with a M7 sub machine gun. Ajax fired into the haze at any movement, filling the target with buckshot. An Elite lunged out of the darkness, swinging his plasma rifle as a crude club. Ajax fired on him point blank where no amount of armour, shielding and dense muscle and bone would protect him, blowing him to pieces. They quickly secured it as several grunts fled, prompting Will to fill one with the last of his magazine, making their methane tank explode. They pressed on, flushing out the building and allowing the fire team to move up. There was a buzz on the radio as the familiar voice of Black Rock swore.
“We have a dozen enemy contacts inbound from the east, I repeat a dozen contacts. Seraph fighters. I think they are covering a wave of dropships.” He said
“Intercept them, try to slow them down!”
“This is Sergeant Major Gibson, we have contacts across all defence points, Covenant are damn well swarming out of the woodwork! We’ll hold them for as long as possible!”
Ajax grunted. This would have to be done fast. They pressed on from building to building, clearing them as quickly as possible before coming within a close distance of the grav lift. Ahead of them lay a hastily erected barricade of rubble, shields and Covenant crates protecting the lift.
“Charlie team, clear that barricade or at least pin those gunners down. Bravo team, move up with us and then lay down fire on the enemy positions.” There were several confirmation lights followed by more fire. Ajax leapt through a wide window and kept down as plasma tore through the air, his heat levels peaking as they neared him. He ran to the barricade and fired down upon the defenders. The other SPARTANS were firing upon the defenders as well. Ahead of them several Elites gathered behind a phalanx of Jackals as they moved forward, their shielding protecting them.
“Elise, hit them with a few rockets!”
Elise quickly dropped her rifle for a short time and shouldered her rocket launcher and fired upon the target. The group of Jackals burst apart, exposing the Elites. They were quickly dispatched or pinned down by fire but a few managed to move up each side of the barricade. It wasn’t until it was too late that Ajax saw one suddenly sprint at the barricade. His bright gold armour glinted in the darkness, highlighted by patches of moon light and gunfire. Ajax levelled his shotgun and fired twice but the buckshot just bounced off his shielding. Its plasma sword came to life with a flash of blue light and it leapt over the barricade. Ajax held up his shotgun in defence as its sword came down and cut cleanly through it, cutting it in two. He swore and dropped the two halves before backing off as it prepared to lung. Will leapt from his position and tackled it roughly, knocking it off balance and too the side. Ajax ran to it, pinning it to a crate with the help of Will and tried his hardest to keep its sword hand pinned away. There was the sound of shattering metal followed by a bang, promoting them both jump back from it but the Elite barely flinched. It lunged at Ajax with its sword and slashed. Ajax closed his eyes and bade his farewells. Nothing happened. By all rights he should of died. He opened his eyes to see the Elite, rather confused, holding a plasma sword with one end of the hilt/grip missing. There was still a vapour trail from the sniper round. Linda was getting even better with the sniper rifle. It worried him. He looked to Will and gave a nod and they both ran to it, hammering it with blows. It was strong and certainly skilled but against the pair of them it stood no chance. Repeated punches and kicks that could shatter concrete took their tolls and it’s shields then it’s armour soon relented and it suffered several devastating blows to its chest, gut and head, killing it. It fell limp after a skull shattering roundhouse kick from Will and lay torn and twisted on the ground. He gave a thumbs up as a thanks while Will picked up his Rifle but was interrupted by the thrum of a Ghost. That well known bumpy hover sound suddenly came a lot closer as a Ghost screamed over the barricade. Ajax just had enough time to look up at it as it came down upon him, crushing him into the concrete. Ajax’s signal suddenly disappeared as the Ghost dug into the concrete, wrenching the driver free. The Elite was dazed but that was quickly cut short by the SPARTANS intervention. Elise turned to the Ghost and was about to run to it when and explosion knocked her to the ground and prompted her heat system to immediately go to maximum cool down. She lay face down for several seconds and reached out for her rifle. Her fingers tightened around it and she steadily rose up when the signal came through.
“Tactical retreat, there’s too many!”
“Ajax.” She murmured “we..we..can’t leave him.”
She stood up and turned back to the battle and turned quickly enough to see the Major Elite smashed her in the chest with its fist. She was sent back at least a meter and slid along the ground slightly. She wasn’t dazed by the blow but just sat silently as he pointed his plasma rifle at her but didn’t look to her. In fact, nobody was looking towards the proper direction. The SPARTANS weren’t looking to the battle, the Covenant were looking past the SPARTANS. Elise finally looked back to see something remarkable. The Ghost moved slightly and began to rise up, being lifted by the being below. Ajax slowly rose up, his armour leaking hydrostatic gel and his visor cracked. He continued to lift it up and stand up until he stood up straight and held the Ghost above his head. The Elite’s mouth pieces fell slack and he stepped back slightly and Ajax looked in his direction. He threw the ghost like he would a child’s toy right at him, the front end landing on him and crushing him like a porcelain model. The Elite was flattened and the others looked at him somewhat shocked. Ajax picked up a discarded plasma rifle and looked to the oncoming forces. He pointed it to the nearest Elite and began to fire on it, running right at it. Its shields flared under the punishment, still surprised by the attack and Ajax finished it with a blow to the head from the rifle. He looked to other SPARTANS then leapt over the barricade, cutting down a gaggle of Grunts with plasma, destroying their methane tanks with ease. The other SPARTANS followed up, engaging their enemy. Above them plasma fire and tracer rounds stitched across the sky and into their targets, shredding them as the longsword fighters and Seraphs fought each other in ridiculously close dog fights, sending ships plummeting to the earth. Dropships began to circle in and time began to draw thin. The Covenant forces were thrown into disarray by this sudden resurgence of the SPARTANS and feel back piecemeal. Ajax looked to Kelly and gave her three clicks of the confirmation light. He took the Fury tactical nuke from her back and armed it, her fingers almost a blur.
“It’s code locked and tamper proof, its good to go.” she said before tossing it to the grav lift. It bounced off the floor and into the column of purple light and rose with the retreating Covenant forces.
“The package is away, all forces evac!”
Ajax signalled for the Pelican to return and ran with the SPARTANS as they retreated to the exit from the now near destroyed roof garden. There was the sound of crumbling masonry as a Scarab clawed its way up the side of the building and reared over ledge, beside the exist building. The flaps upon it’s cannons began to swivel and open and close along with the war cry it occasionally made and aimed it straight at them. It thankfully wasn’t their time to die. A longsword came in low and fired off all it’s Scorpion missiles. They struck it around its front, not damaging it but blowing it back and knocking it back and off balance. It screamed in terror, as if alive as it’s feet left deep gouges in the building as it slid back then fell, tumbling onto it’s back. The Scarab was strong but not resistant to gravity and shattered on the ground below. The SPARTANS made it too the building and into the stair well and back into the corridors. It had once been a hotel but now it was just another war zone. Shell casings, dead marines and dozens of Covenant corpses lay scattered around the corridors as the Marines continued to lay down covering fire then began to retreat as well after the SPARTANS. They broke through to the tier and put down all their suppressing fire upon the door way as several Pelicans neared them. They began to touch down and gave the marines time to get onboard them. Ajax quickly climbed in and moved to the forward section when Kelly put a hand on his shoulder and pushed him down to a chair. They couldn’t even get a bio readout on him his armour was so damaged. The Pelican’s engines roared into life and jetted off as the Longswords fought a tactical retreat, a squadron going ahead of the main group, looping then firing on the pursuers and then the next squadron following suit. The Seraphs were soon pulling back from a near useless pursuit and left them to fall back unassailed. Ajax limped to the ramp and hit the big red button to lower it and looked at the Destroyer as they distanced themselves from it. His mission clock had failed but he knew it was time for it to detonate. Red bubbles erupted from its hull and soon consumed it. It’s energy shield turned to a sparkling white colour, trying to protect its host against the nuclear fires burning from within, no matter how futile it was now. Ajax shielded his eyes as it’s shields finally failed and it devastated the area with a hail of near molten shrapnel and nuclear fire. He looked on bitterly and turned to John.
“One more to go.”
Chapter 7: LISTENER
Elise looked out to the clean blue sea that extended for miles in every direction. It seemed to match the light blue sky in the distance, making it seem even more endless. She hauled the M247 GPMG onto her lap and checked it through once. The nose of a Pelican peeked into view, swaying in the wind. She stood up and banged on the side of the cabin, prompting Ajax to give her a thumbs up. She took off her helmet filtering and let the roar of engines pierce her ears. She looked forward to the island with the ominous Assault Carrier lying above it like some great sea monster in waiting. A wave of Longsword fighters passed over head, followed by Sparrow Hawk VTOLs.
“This is Blue team to escort 1, Sierra oh-one-three, what does it look like?” John asked over the radio.
“Its all good Chief, clear skies, escort 2, SITREP?” Ajax replied on the radio
“We are still in formation, locked and loaded.” The radio buzzed.
Elise rapped her knuckles on the window and flicked her finger. There was a click in a radio then a rather informal ‘What?’.
“Ajax, something’s bugging me… Why haven’t the Covenant glassed this planet?”
“Yeah, it seems pretty strange. Well they don’t have nearly enough ships but that’s rarely stopped them before. Maybe they know the UNSC fleet would come in to try and finish them off if they did?”
“True… maybe they are looking for something though? The island the ship is over seems somewhat desolate, its an old UNSCDF training facility but its been in disuse for years with only a small garrison. Something is not right.” Ajax said before clicking off
Elise sighed and leaned against the side of the Hornet assault craft she rode shotgun on, Mike on the other side probably with his helmet off. She knocked her head off the side slightly before listening in to the battle report. Longswords had just engaged the Seraphs and Banshees defending the area and began to dog fight as the Carrier lay dormant. Apparently a Destroyer squadron was now on intercept with the Carrier and they objective was to cut off the retreating Covenant forces and try to trap as many on the ground, maximising casualties. Ahead of them yellow and blue explosions vibrantly burst into life and died. Fire was exchanged, ground positions pounded by Sparrows and now they were following up. Six Pelicans, twelve Hornets.
“LZ is hot, keep your guns wired!”
Ajax pressed his Hornet onwards, breaking away from the Pelicans. The other Hornets followed suit and began to circle the LZ. They strafed it with cannon fire, leaving pot holes the size of footballs in the concrete and blowing holes right through grunts and jackals who tried to flee. They shredded their defensive weaponry as well, with the complement of two marines launching anti tank or anti infantry fire down upon anything that came to engage them. The Pelicans came up to the LZ, now a field of rubble and corpses and began to drop off infantry.
“Ground team as touch down, good luck.”
Ajax began to circle back around and strafed the next tier up of the fort, shredding a few grunts who squeezed off plasma fire at them. Ajax blew several of them in two and beheaded a few with the cannon fire then Moved the flier further forward. The stairs up to the tier was now a Covenant kill zone, with three plasma cannons situated around the stairs, with one at the top, one on a extended balcony that overlooked the stairs and another near it. They didn’t stand a chance. Ajax pressed his thumb down on the big read button that brought the rotary cannons into life and mangled the forces at the top of the stairs. Elise lay down a cascade of fire upon the two gunners on the overhand Until Ajax manoeuvred to give Mike a shot. He quickly eliminated the survivors with head shots from his battle rifle then gave Ajax a thumbs up. He swung it around to pepper a Spectre with rounds, putting fist sized holes in it and turning it to Swiss cheese before it finally exploded violently. They kept continued to give supporting action, aiding the marines, Blue Team and Green in getting further up the fort, Ahead Ajax could see the grav lift and began to make a quick circle of it when he realised they weren’t after the fort, not at all. They were after what was under it the top of the fortress had been torn off and now the grav lift seemed to pierce down into the depths of the fortress.
“This is Sierra oh-one-three or Sierra one-one-seven, we have a situation!”
“What is it?”
“There is something either in or under the fort that the Covenant is after. They grav lift goes inside the fort.”
“Okay, remain on station, we will try to find a way in.”
“We already have one, the hole they left. Me and escort 2 can go in, you guys can rappel.”
“Sounds good, we’ll signal you once we are in position.”
Ajax began to clear them a pathway up to the top of the sort, shredding the defences. They got up to the roof and began to affix their rappel lines. Escort 2 swung into Ajax’s view and began to descend, followed by Ajax and the rest of Black team on their hornet. The Spartans began to descend as well, sliding down on their ropes. Elise and Mike were his only defence, his cannons wouldn’t shoot downwards. He tried to keep his lights going down as much as possible but his eyes remained firmly on his motion scanner. It was all clear, for at least a moment. They were ten meters down now and it suddenly began to fill up with red blips rising from below.
“We have multiple contacts, rising fast, too small to be Banshees!”
The first one came into Ajax’s view and he found it utterly alien as every other member of the Covenant. It was covered in a green-yellow chitinous natural armour and had a set of orange glowing eyes that matched their green glowing plasma pistols. A pair of transparent wings reflected some light and its clawed hands and feet cemented what it was. A big huge bug.
“I don’t know what the hell they are but they are Covenant, take them down!”
Elise and Mike opened fire from their support pads, firing down upon the bugs as they rose. Plasma struck the vehicle but its tough armour held. Ajax titled it and strafed the wall with fire, blowing chunks out of it and blowing several of the bugs apart. Little pink darts began to pepper the side of escort two and exploded, digging into the armour. One of the bugs flew up behind and above it and then grabbed a hold of one of the soldiers by their shoulders, lifted them up and dropped them into the abyss, screaming. A charged shot struck it, blowing through a engine boom and severing the wing. Discordant green sparks swept across its hull and its engines failed. It crashed into the side of the tunnel, its intact boom crushing up against the side then crushing the second marine in shotgun position then the Hornet exploded, lighting up the whole tunnel. One of the bugs tried to grab Mike who simply didn’t stand for it. Besides, it stood no chance of lifting him, he weighed half a ton. He tore off both of its legs and threw it down into the darkness below. One tried to grab Elise as well but she tore off its wings like an oversized fly and threw it down as well, leaving it to make a horrible screeching noise. The swarm seemed to relent and Ajax breathed a sigh of relief.
“I’m getting radar bounces back from the bottom, only twenty more meters.”
The SPARTANS responded and at then they stopped. Just below them Covenant flood lights illuminated the bottom of the grav lift along with its few guards. They all primed grenades and tossed them below before detaching from their ropes and leaping down to the bottom. Elise and Mike followed suit and Ajax brought the Hornet down for a gentle landing as they mopped up the survivors. He pushed open the canopy and leapt out. He grabbed his weapons and trotted over to the SPARTANS who had now began to form at the side of the door. Ajax moved over and then past them and prized off a wall panel, revealing a number of controls. He pressed a big red button which instigated a grinding sound all around them then a plate of metal slid across above them and cut off the grav lift.
“Just securing out back.”
“Okay here’s the plan, we move in carefully, three by three fire teams in your squads, five meter spacing. As soon as we come across any digital information equipment, secure it and get Ajax to jack in.” John said, looking to the squad. The last part gave Ajax a small pang of pride. The nodded and Blue team went in first, followed by Black then Green. They moved out into a long corridor decorated with UNSC Marines. Most had been fried when the Covenant had came into the corridor. Immediately the found a number of security consoles at the security station that had been overrun during the initial attack. Ajax immediately ran over to it and placed hi shotgun down beside it then gave a snort.
“No need to hack, it’s completely open, no passwords or security features but it is in a closed system, cut off from the outside and restricted just to… whoa.” He said, almost in amazement.
“What is it?” John asked, trotting over before he himself looked in awe. There as a 3D image of a massive facility, at least two miles deep. They were shown as a tiny red blip at the top. Ajax began to access further before reaching his point of inquiry.
“Its linked to one thing outside but I can’t trace it but for now there is something else. Bottom floor is one massive digital storage area. I imagine we can acquire the information we need down there. However I have access to the internal scanner tracking the neural implants of surviving UNSC personnel and there is quite a lot, most in one area. Either the Covenant have started taking prisoners or they are still holding their position. Now there’s a lot of Covenant activity on internal motion scanners and also there’s something inside the system, its been resisting my intrusion, I think it might be an A.I. still active.” Ajax explained, tapping on the console.
“So we now have two objectives, secure surviving personnel and gain access to the computer core. But what about this A.I., it could make life difficult.”
“I’m already on it, I can at least determine if it is a “Dumb” or “Smart”.
He began to type a message into the facility open chat which spread through all consoles and personal computers in there. He used something Dr. Halsey had taught him when he showed an interest in the Smart A.I.s she was developing. He could of created something new but he used the example he knew.
He typed “Life is the path” and left a handshake protocol . It sat amongst semi religious Spam the Covenant left on there. He waited and John patted him on the should and motioned him to move out when there was a message.
“Can I see the path?”
Ajax smirked wickedly. “Your mine now.”
“It can be observed but it is far away.”
“Without looking, how can I know I am walking the path?”
“You cannot see the path but you cannot not see the path. Your view is a lie, your thought is irrational, your path is freedom, reach for it and it disappears.”
The holotank beside the console burned into life as a woman coated in a hail of fire appeared. Characters scrolled across her body and he short, gelled hair, stood up on end like the fire around her.
“Impressive, very impressive, now who the hell are you?!”
“SPARTAN-013. Now, who the hell are you and what is this place?”
“I’m afraid I cannot disclose that information, its strictly forbidden.”
“This is a need to no bases because we are very well going to drop a nuke and leave to prevent you and other resources here falling into Covenant hands.” Ajax lied
“Hmmm, well your too late, they either killed or captured most personnel but… well… this is the staging area of OPERATION: LISTENER, a sub operation of OPERATION: HYPODERMIC. Its more or less information gathering on the Covenant. OEPRATION: LISTENR is exactly what it sounds like, listening, we placed massive radio arrays both on this planet and throughout the system, listening for deep space Covenant signals. We had no luck for some time but suddenly we got a load of them as neighbouring systems were conquered. However unknown to us while we had gathered enough knowledge to crack them the Covenant had left something inside a message we retrieved. We picked up some kind of virus that took control of a transmitter and sent out a triangulation signal for their fleets, prompting this attack.”
“So the surviving personnel and the computer section have information vital to the war effort.”
“Yes so I suggest a scavenging operation.”
Ajax looked to John and watched his response. John gave a nod then moved back to the other SPARTANS.
“What about your computer room?”
“Locked down and closed off to protect from intrusion efforts, I only have the chat open, even then I have it fully protected. I locked down all four bulkheads but the Covenant have cut through two. Also the Covenant forces have herded the captured staff to our second access shaft, which emerges on a rocky island. They have a dropship going down now. You best-” She said, almost worried before her image fuzzed and began to cut out. “Covenant Intru- Your on y- now, good lu-”
Ajax looked to John who then patched through to private comms.
“Okay, looks like we have two objectives, I’m not happy about splitting our forces but it’s needed. I” John said before Ajax interrupted him
“My team will take the search and rescue, you just get Blue and Green down to the bottom in time, go down the elevator shafts to save time.”
“No need to tell me what we already know, see you soon.”
John rallied Blue and Green teams then moved them out then Ajax took Black team the opposite directions. They flushed through the corridors which were mostly abandoned until they came across a Covenant patrol an a intersection. Ajax spotted them but hit cover, giving Mike and Elise room to fire. Elise laid down a withering hail of fire, pinning down the Covenant forces. Ajax moved further up the corridor but another patrol rounded it.
“Crap, we’re surrounded, back up, back up!” he swore
The moved back to the clear tunnel and backed up, giving covering fire. Elise fired off the last of the ammo held on her M247 before dumping it and getting her MA2B out. They immediately went into sprints, clearing the Covenant patrols in no time and came into the first floor of a hall. Beneath them Grunts fed on human bodies and tossed the remains into a fire. Best to leave them be, as gruesome as it was, no matter how much it filled them with hate. They had more pressing matters. They pressed on further into the tunnels before coming upon their target. Several human cargo containers, each guarded by two minor elites and a major in their frightening crimson armour. Seven humans were herded onto a Covenant vehicle, some ugly and bulbous thing with spines sticking out of it all over. It lifted off and jettisoned out of the access shaft. It must be another dropship. At least it was an improvement on the impractical Spirit, even if it had crashed landed into the ugly forest. He moved up to several half melted combat barriers and got down behind them. He placed his shotgun down then drew out one of his pistols. Elise placed the M7 she kept as back up on the ground and levelled her assault rifle Mike put down his battle rifle and got the SRS99C-S2 AM Sniper Rifle from his back. He lined it up with one of the Major Elite’s head and fired. Even from here Ajax could see it pop with a satisfying splatter. He activated the fiber optic probe and drew up the smart scope and began to fire as well, followed by Elise. The next two Elites were cut down but now four of these teams came rushing out of the hangar. They all opened fire, full auto, pounding then enemy as much as possible. Mike finished off his sniper rifle’s shallow four round magazine and dumped it. He threw a grenade into the enemy group to buy them time and got his modified battle rifle then began to open fire. Elise expended three magazines before dumping it as the enemy drew close. Her SMG could be quickly expended then quickly reloaded so it would help. Now Ajax had emptied both his pistols and resorted to waiting until they got closer to use his shotgun. Streaks of blue plasma and pink needles zoomed overhead but they usually dodged them in time. However there was something they couldn’t dodge. A ball of burning hot blue light fell in their midst.
Ajax leapt over the barricade towards the Elites along with Elise while Mike backed off. Their weapons were destroyed but it didn’t matter now. Ajax pumped his shells into an Elite that leapt towards him and brought its Plasma rifle up as a crude club. He prod ceded to put down a major elite while moving into cover and reloaded once he felt safe from enemy fire. Elise sprayed one point blank, killing it in a overwhelming torrent of bullets, reloaded then fired on another but due to its agility most missed. He brought his rifle down upon Elise but she side stepped it, punched him and destroyed his shields then bashed him in the face with her SMG, breaking his jaw then finished him off with another blow to the head. Mike came back now, gunning down a squad in the open. An uneasy calm came down as the last Elite coughed and spluttered in a pool of its own blood then died. They began to force open the cargo containers and evacuated the shocked but thankful humans inside to the Pelicans that lay dormant there. Soon John and the rest of the SPARTANS arrived, complete with a satchel full of compacted information on digital format and the A.I.’s data crystal chip.
“We secured all but seven who were taken by a new Covenant dropship, all personnel ready for evac, seven to a dropship, five dropships.”
“Okay, teams of two to each dropship, Ajax, can you take one solo?”
“Of course” He huffed.
John handed him the data crystal, prompting Ajax to give a quizzical look.
“It’s a better co pilot than no co pilot, right?”
“Sure, whatever” He said, somewhat disappointed.
He moved over to his dropship and passed the survivors then eased into a seat. He shut the rear ramp, inserted the data crystal then began to power her up. The A.I. flickered on, casting a red glow across the cockpit.
“You have me piloting a dropship?!” She said, the flames rising.
“No, we have you co piloting a dropship. Monitor comms, the Covenant battle net and request we get a Longsword fighter escort when we hit surface side. And my name is SPARTAN-013.” He said quickly and abruptly.
“The name is Amaterasu”
“Named after the Japanese sun goddess though that’s somewhat of a misnomer for your violent temper.”
She laughed a little bit as he brought the Pelican gently out and up through the access shaft. She touched the side of her head with her hand, producing a hailstorm of embers then looked to him.
“Longswords ready for escort. The UNSC Sun Tzu is waiting in orbit. Passing it on to the others.” She said. He came out of the top and propelled the dropship into a skyward advance.
“Hey look, the carrier is retreating.” Amaterasu said, pointing to it. He looked to it from the side and smiled.
“So they got seven personnel…”
As it evacuated three destroyers attacked it, MAC rounds pounding upon its shields. It soon out ran then and began to bound into the upper atmosphere. There was one last salvo, this time hammering their shields down and one smashing into its engines. Though they still seemed functional they were damaged and forced it to limp away. Ajax focused his attention on getting to the Sun Tzu. Their job here seemed complete. Not a chance.
Ajax sat in the debriefing room with John sat behind a table, leaning on it with his helmet off. He seemed almost as pale as himself. Why was it only them two in this debriefing?
An trio of ONI spooks entered and one inserted a data crystal chip into the holo pedestal in the room which disabled the burning effigy of Amaterasu.
As you know it is only you two who listened into our conversation in the complex back on the surface. Now I have to debrief you about OPERATION: LISTENER. If I hear of you saying Covenant, radio and listener outside of this room then you will get your asses handed too you by ONI. Ajax gave a small ‘psh’ and leaned back in his seat and crossed his arms.
“There is however, something even more important than that. One of the personnel secured was extremely high profile. She holds massive amount of information not only on the Covenant but also the UNSC. Chances are, given enough time, they could coax the information out of her. The SPARTANS now have a new mission, to secure her or kill her and leave. John shifted nervously and Ajax just stared at her.
“Are we being ordered to board a carrier and retrieve an ONI spook?” Ajax asked
“Yeah…I’ll be going with you because of my understand of Covenant system. Between that, its your op.”
“How the hell can we get onboard the cruiser?!” John said, clenching his fist
“Easy… we hijack one of their dropships still on the surface. You can display Covenant codes right?” Ajax said, looking astutely calm.
“Yes… I could…”
“Good, narrow down one of their LZ sites so we can ambush it and take their dropship. Ajax, could you pilot one of those dropships?”
“Could I pilot a dropship? Psh.” Ajax said, pushing back on his chair
John laughed and patted him on the shoulder. John got up and saluted the spooks and Ajax gave a wave. They walked into the corridor and looked to each other.
“I have point.” Ajax said flatly.
Later that day they squatted around the basement of a ruined building, looking over the park in front of them, seven SPARTANS stood around. Fred, Linda and Mike all rested sniper rifles on the basement windows, standing on a couple of crates. Kelly was stood at the end with an X-Ray camera looking to the LZ. It was a bulky and dangerous piece of kit but it was needed. Everyone else was kitted up with as much ammo as they could carry for their weapons.
“Okay, check it, dropship inbound!”
Everybody tensed up and Ajax got to the stairs. As soon as the pilots disembarked it would begin with the sniper team neutralizing it. They moved upstairs and got into their ready position. Kelly monitored the dropship and finally broke her silence.
“Two of the gunners and the pilot are disembarking, no passengers… they are off… now!”
There was three sub sonic bangs, promoting the SAPRTANS into action. They rushed the poorly defended LZ and quickly neutralized the few remaining Elites and their Grunt minions. Ajax rushed on board as the gunner tried to rise from his pedestal and put him right back down with a killing blow to his head, crushing his skull. The SPARTANS wasted no time in getting into the dropship and Ajax tried his best to settle down into the uncomfortable pilot’s seat. It was contoured to an Elite’s body, making it unsuitable to even a SPARTAN-II. He began to settle and grow accustomed to the controls then began to power it up. Other SPARTANS rested into gunnery positions on its three plasma cannons while John plugged Amaterasu into the computer console. She burned into life nearby and the numerical calculations on her body went mad.
“Interfacing… accessing… got it. I have full access to their comm systems. Controls are all yours.” She said, waving to the controls. Ajax was already accelerating at a sharp angle and burning into the upper atmosphere. Within the space of a few minutes they were breaking orbit and following the trail of reactor coolant that leaked from the ships wound. They piloted through the void for almost three hours without any activity when a squadron of Seraphs based nearby. They began to circle her and boxed them in and began to initiate comms. Ama dealt with that and dispatched them, telling them something that caused them to pull off. Her hologram smiled cheekily and then leaned back. Ajax shook his head and began to peel off to search another area when he spotted the prow of the vessel, peaking out from behind an asteroid like a great purple whale hanging there.
“Open comms, get us landing clearance. Everyone get ready, ETA 5 minutes.”
Ama buzzed for a few seconds before giving him a nod.
“We have clearance, uploading co-ordinates to TACCOM.”
Ajax watched the orange triangle appear and then began to the pilot the ship gently in before auto pilot took over. He picked up his shotgun and went to the passenger compartment. Everyone was ready for it now. He cocked his shotgun and got ready to hit what patched for solid ground. John retrieved the data crystal chip and kept it in a pouch. They moved to the rear ramp and crouched down, ready. They heard it pass through into the cargo bay and touch down then the rear doors hissed open. They immediately leapt forth, taking down the two Grunts inspecting it. They swarmed out, neutralizing the three Grunts moving in front of the ship and then moved up to the door. Mike held a large scanner in his left hand and began to check it.
“Okay, I got a rough lock on our target, uploading the TACCOM of the area. Lets get moving.” He said, pointing through the door.
They opened the door and a pair of Jackals stared the min the eyes, rather surprised. Ajax clubbed one and Will punched another, slaying both. They began to move up the corridors with little resistance until a pair of Elites were encountered. They were not such easy pray and hit hard cover, trying to suppress them with continuous fire while one raised the alarm. Mike and Linda picked them both off and now it was a case of just fighting their to the garrison. Now Grunts and Jackals swarmed out of the woodwork but the SPARTANS kept mobile enough not to be tied down in a firefight. They fought their way up to the main deck where Mike interrupted them.
“Okay, I have a firmer fix, I have seven FOF tags spread into three clusters across this deck, uploading all three with waypoints.”
The Spartans chose their targets and took their separate ways. Black team fought down a corridor which was guarded by a trio of jackals backed up by a major Elite. They hit them with a series of grenades then Elise swept the survivors with her dual M7 SMGs. No survivors. The door however seemed to be locked. Ajax tore the paneling off beside it and peered into the inner workings. Fiber optic cables seemed to send messages instead of wires. Sneaky. However that wouldn’t stop Ajax. He began to tear them open and criss cross them until the door slowly opened and the three of them strode in. It was some what of a mistake. Ajax had no way of knowing at that time that three of the fleets most fearsome Elites presided in there, having been interrogating their prisoners. At first there was a flash of a silver-steel colored body, then a gold, moving between the pillars that lined the room before both made their appearance. A Ultra Elite and a Zealot. Bad enough on there own any day but two together. Then something emerged at the far end. Encased in an odd purple armour and swathed in a cloak of the same color. There was an explosion behind them as more Covenant fire teams moved up from behind. Elise and Mike opened fire on them which left the Elites in the chamber to Ajax. The Ultra swung at Ajax in a downward motioned. Ajax side stepped, grabbed onto its forearm then pushed his hand up at its elbow. He heard a sickening crack and then pulled the energy sword from his hand and then decapitated him in a 360 swing. The Zealot leapt from behind a pillar, cutting at Ajax and only narrowly missing him, causing his heat systems to flare wildly. He blocked the next blow, both blades crackling wildly. He backed off and the Zealot continued the assault, swinging in another vicious blow. He parried then stabbed it in the chest, spearing it twice over then kicked it off. It stumbled, gripping the wound then leapt at him, now back on the attack. He parried another blow and then ducked below its high swing and cut almost all the way through its leg then began to stab it repeatedly in the back until it stopped screaming and waving its sword. It fell limp and he took its energy sword from its twitching grip. He flexed his arms with both of them in his hands then turned to the new Elite.
“Lets see what you have then…” He smirked, crossing the swords.
“Come demon and we shall end this.” It spoke, its four mandibles moving with its vocalization.
Ajax cocked his head and then seemed to shake himself a little. His translation software wasn’t on and that voice wasn’t synthesized. It was actually speaking English. He put his sword to each side and moved forward when the Elite drew its own weapon. At first it seemed to be a I shaped staff just under a meter long but both ends came alive with a wave of blue energy. Both end held the tell tale shape of a energy sword. Ajax was slightly taken aback but he wouldn’t let this affect him. He began to move forward cautiously when the Elite made the first move, sprinting forward then darting to the left as Ajax brought up his blades to parry the attack. The Elite swung its blade out, only giving Ajax enough time to take a glancing blow. The blade cut through his side like butter and blood and hydrostatic gel mingled. He ignored the wound and went straight at the Elite in a vicious dive, stabbing both blades at him. The Elite blocked the attack and swung his blade to the side, sending him off balance. He spun his blade in a circular motioned and while Ajax was fast enough dodge it and not loose and arm he still took a wound, cutting his arm. He grunted and backed off while the Elite simple span his blade and passed it from hand to hand. Ajax grunted and then slacked back into a battle pose before suddenly lunging. With one blade he force the energy blade back and then swung his second blade up, removing his arm just below the elbow then going with his momentum he span and cut him across the chest. Copious amounts of purple blood leaked from his wounds and he feel to one knee, gripping them.
“Impressive… Perhaps… the Prophets were wrong about you…”He gasped
He held his wounds before eventually his body fell limp. Ajax trotted over and picked up his weapon and eyed it a little bit.
“Ajax, we have a situation!” Elise shouted as she pulled back from the door.
Ajax moved up to the door and immediatly it opened. He ushered his squad through before getting through himself and tampering with the controls. The door shut with a hiss and would probably never open again until repaired from this side. He turned around the interrogation room and strode forward with Black team. Three people in here, all tortured. Many of them had severe burns and bruises. He didn’t want to know what off.
“Can we narrow down on their neural implants?”
“There, the middle one.” Mike said, pointing. It didn’t matter anyway, the other two were dead. It was a woman, perhaps barely in her twenties, not any older than Ajax. Her red hair hung down low from her bowed head as she seemed to lay unconscious in the Covenant torture harness. She only wore a ragged and burnt vest and blood stained combat trousers which seemed odd for an ONI spook. Ajax covered Elise and Mike as they roused her then began to remove the grips on her hands, letting her down onto her bare and burnt feat.
“…thank you…” She said, weakly, rubbing her wrists. Ajax turned to meet her gaze and his eyes caught up with a pair of blue eyes he had meant before. He suddenly grabbed one of his M6D pistols with his right hand and pressed the muzzle to her forehead.
“You’re a spy… you were on Hectate… you were an officer in the URF…” He said, his voice filled with barely checked rage
“I see battle keeps you observant oh-one-three.” She said calmly, rubbing her wrists. Ajax pressed the gun against her head more but wasn’t expecting her next move. She suddenly with her left hand pushed his hand up, seemed to brush her right hand across the slide of his pistol and then dived at his second pistol, snatched it from the magnetic plate then rose back up and placed it to the side of his head, all in one deft, precise and unnervingly quick maneuver than even Ajax couldn’t keep up with. Ajax turned his pistol on her but the slide was missing. He had never felt so ashamed in his life. The woman pointing the gun at him smiled and then laughed and tossed his slide back and tucked the pistol into her combat trousers.
“I’m a double agent working for ONI. In fact, I have been since I was a young teenager. Now, who do you think disabled those security systems, who called for your evac, who led you to that officer? This is the thanks I get?” She said in a disgruntled tone. She took the boots off one of the dead ONI personnel and measured them up against her own foot the slipped the boots on and tied them up.
“Anyway Black team, my name is CODENAME: REGAN. You can call me Regan alone.”
“Regan, one of King Lear’s treacherous daughters in King Lear by William Shakespeare… Interesting choice of codename.” Ajax remarked
She stood back up and checked her pistol and took some magazines off Ajax. There was an uneasy calm that was suddenly interrupted by a massive thud against the door. Something bigger than an Elite was smashing up against it, trying to tear its way through. The door was slowly being torn open with each successive attack. Mike took a clump of C-12 explosive and began to shape it around a grenade, doubling it’s width. There was a pop at the rear of the room and a grating fell to the floor. Kelly popped her head out of the opening and shouted to them.
“What are you still doing dawdling in here?” She shouted before leading them through. Mike pulled the pin on his improvised bomb and rolled it into a gap in the now torn door way and ushered everyone to go faster as the bomb went off, leveling both rooms and all the enemies in there. They moved through to the junction the other teams held and began to fight their way out, moving in a circle around Regan. It was hard, with several SPARTANS sustaining injuries but they blew their way back into the docking bay. They filed onboard, with Ama warming up the engines already.
“Spoof us as a VIP evacuating from the demons, now!” He said, rising the dropship up
“Done it, their shielding is opening to let us through.”
Ajax powered the ship out of the docking bay and into the void outside, the ship went full blast and soon began to overheat.
“Okay, prepare to go silent, I am going to hide in the asteroid field.”
“Ajax… no need.” Ama said flatly. A UNSC fleet was lurching out from behind the dense asteroid field. Ajax could feel the MAC rounds fly lose on the lone, confused ship. The Elite he killed might very of well been the commander, which would explain a lot. It lurched and tried to evade but it only presented more of a target. It was hit three times by MAC rounds, it’s shielding shining brightly then dying. More impacted as the ship floundered and then eventually its engines and lights died then it’s rear end began to flower with explosions before consuming the whole ship. Ajax gently brought the dropship around the fleet then began to approach the Axon Gate. He gently brought her down to a rest and brought he engines off line. The Spartans began to file out to a hangar full of marines and navy personnel who began to cheer. Ajax frowned at this and began to push past them. This had been a great victory for the UNSC in a war of bitter defeats. It was time to leave though. The Planet was being looted of the last of its supplies and now the UNSC fleet was evacuating the marines. Now the evacuation was under way which put Ajax at ease finally. Soon after they arrived Blue and Green team took off to another system and Regan was picked up by a prowler. The Spartans of Black team needed to stay anyway, to garner their military awards. Ajax walked up alongside Elise and seemed to dwarf her while she was in her black dress uniform as the approached the main launch deck of the Sun Tzu, the awards being held on there for the larger amount of room for the dozens of individuals being awarded medals.
“I can’t believe your wearing your armor to an awards ceremony. Can’t you at least look smart?” She said, nudging him
“My MJOLNIR feels far too much like a second skin now. Being out of it makes me feel exposed.”
She just laughed then turned and sighed in dismay as Mike joined them, trotting up in his armor.
“God Elise you look stupid without your armor on.” He laughed
They arrived at the bulkhead where an officer bade them to wait while the last of the Marines received their medals. There was a series of clapping then the officer ushered them through. All three marched out to be flanked on each side by saluting UNSC personnel. Elise began to feel exposed when the hovering cameras used by the media channels began to buzz about. Mike buzzed his open chat to Ajax and laughed.
“Looks like SPARTAN-II has gone public.” He laughed
“Shut comms and look smart.” He said calmly but firmly. All three lined up in front of the Admiral and his two officers and saluted sharply. He tapped the speakers slightly and began to speak.
“For engaging and halting and armored column to protect the lives of the UNSC Marines they were sent against, I am proud to award all three of you with Bronze Stars. For directly engaging and stopping an elite enemy strike force from attacking a firebase, I bestow the Navy and Marine Corps medal upon you.” He said, pinning the badges to them. “For the wounds you suffered in the line of duty, I am proud to award you, S-013 with the purple heart decoration. For defending the UNSC Axon Gate from waves of assaulting Covenant forces and protecting the ship from capture, I award you with the Silver Star. For personally leading the charge upon an Elite commander, I award you with the Medal of Honour to you and posthumously to Corporal Enzo Vincetti for your actions. And, most proudly, I award you the Red Legion of Honour for you search and rescue operations upon a Covenant carrier. All dismissed.
He gave them a salute and the navy personnel gave a cheer then milled out. The Spartans were about to follow but they were stopped by the Admiral.
“There is perhaps something you should see. “ He said, pointing to a monitor then watching it flicker into life. On it was them defending the marine outpost, with Ajax overpowering the Elite.
“I suppose this is going to be destroyed by Section 2, sir?”
“No.. that’s why I wanted you to see it. Section 2 is going public with the Spartan programme.”
“Seriously?” Mike said out of turn
“Not all the grisly details but just notes you as elite UNSC forces. They think it will provide a massive morale boost. But it has a sting.”
“I don’t like the sound of this.” Elise muttered.
“Office of Naval Intelligence Section Two Directive nine three zero, all SPARTANS are to be recorded as MIA or WIA, even if that is not the truth to maintain your aura of invincibility.” He looked to the screen again and another list appeared. All Spartans appeared as their rank then Spartan and then their code number. While most of the 33 were marked as ‘In Active Service’ three were marked with MIA. Kurt-051 who had actually gone missing, presumed dead in 2531, Randall, who went missing in 2532 and Samuel-034. Even Sam, who had died during their first use of their now infamous armour was deemed as MIA. At the one side, it filled him with pride that the Spartans where now going to become a moral focus point of the war but also disgust at the directive. He saluted and marched off. They had more battles to fight now.
Chapter 7: The Fall of Reach
Ajax slowly pressed the last of the rounds into the magazine and twirled it in his hand before sliding it into a bandolier. He closed up the pouch and stretched a little. He sat cross legged on the floor in the Pillar of Autumn and had all his equipment laid out in front of him. They were preparing to go onto their most important mission yet and he needed to be ready. He had hand loaded six magazines of AP rounds for a MA5B, filled three large pouches with the best quality 8 gauge shot he could get and then got eight magazines for his two M6D pistols, four loaded with M225 Semi-Armor Piercing High Explosive rounds and the others filled with M228 Semi-Armor Piercing High Penetration rounds. It always paid to be ready for different situations. He stocked himself with plenty of explosives, detonators, grenades and a combat knife. He also held onto that energy sword he took as a trophy, leaving it in his carrying bag. It had been sixteen years since Morrigan and nothing but endless fighting. Problem was it was endless losing. While every land engagement the Spartans went too was as good as theirs, in battle it was different. There were no Spartans for space. World after world was glassed, coming up to the inner colonies now. Ajax had almost lost hope. But now the Spartans where going on the first truly war changing mission. There was a lot of speculation and theorizing from the ONI spooks but the command was now simple, capture a leader of the Covenant leader class, a never before seen class but intercepted in regular transmissions. To do it they had a modified Halcyon class Cruiser. A venerable old bird that could withstand tremendous punishment, even before her upgrades but now she had double the fire power, extra armour, a new experimental engine that cooled as it heated up and kept them up with some of the faster capital ships and a modified MAC gun that could shoot three rounds before charging and a modified round that could fire three flechettes to cripple a Covenant vessel for capture. They would then take that to the Covenant home world and capture their leader and barter a truce. Anything that could stop the war. Now the Spartans had years of experience with fighting the Covenant and now their MK. V armour, complete with energy shields modified from those of a Jackal’s arm shield. Ajax had entered a sort of calm that would be before his storm. He was ready for anything. Almost anything. The ship lurched and Ajax’s stomach lurched with it. Everyone could feel something.
“Remember my bad luck Elise?” Ajax murmured
“Yeah, remember how it doesn’t exist.”
“You might want to double check that…”
John spoke to a few of the SPARTANS then spoke into the intercom. Ajax could hear the Captain, a certain Captain Keyes, somewhat of a legend after the Battle of Sigma Octanus, talking back. This was serious, he was coming to talk to the Spartans.
He stepped off the elevator and talked to John who then glanced to his Spartans along with Keyes.
“I see. Very well, your squad might as well hear this now, too. I don’t know how they found Reach” ‘Oh God no’ he thought to himself “They bypassed a dozen Inner Colony worlds to get here. It doesn’t matter. They are here and we have to do something.”
“Sir? ‘They’?” How naïve could John of been?
Ajax over heard Mike curse and many of the Spartans showed the closest thing they could to shock.
John spoke it over with Keyes and came to a conclusion. They would still take a Covenant ship, by hell and high water they would do their mission. Everyone began to ready their gear for combat. It was now or never.
It was like an eternity of waiting as the PoA avoided hostiles and made her way rally point Zulu. Not that it would do much good now. Several of the powerful super MAC stations defending her where destroyed along with one hundred ships. Twenty remained standing as the Covenant forces came in for another pass but now there was a new problem. Covenant forces had released ground vessels that quickly encroached upon the poles for an assault of the surface side power generators and an unpurged NAV database remained on a vessel in the Reach space dock. But now it was do or die. Not just for Reach or the Spartans but for Earth. If they got that BAV database they might as well roll over and put their ass in the air. Ajax and Black team where now formed into the collective Red team, made up of every Spartan par Linda, James and John, who went to purge the database. They meanwhile were going surface side to defend the generators. They had taken a stripped down Pelican to get to the surface but it was never that easy. Between them and the surface was dozens of covenant fighters dog fighting against UNSC fighters. It wouldn’t be pretty. With twenty three Spartans and their equipment stuffed inside like sardines, it was going to be a brutal trip down.
(Authors note: no ‘LOLZ, u iz wr0ng, T3h F@11 0f R3@CH S3z th3r3 ar3 27 spratins ROFLCOPTER!’ Because I know it says that, I’ve read it. But going by the fact that three Spartans up to there are also MIA/KIA (Randall, Sheila and most importantly Kurt.) and Maria-062 who dropped out of active duty. If you have actually learned how to count in kindergarten then you will learn that 27-4 is 23. Leave it)
Of course, there were Seraph fighters crawling everywhere, those ugly, tear dropped shaped things not only had shields but spat plasma everywhere, not pleasant to be caught up against. As they made their break for it their escorts had to peel off to useless engagements to buy them time. They broke through the atmosphere, melting and taking plasma shots as they went down. It felt like a blast furnace inside the ship but their heating systems kept them in check. As they began to finally break out into the atmosphere the pilot began to speak but was silenced by a blast in the cockpit. James checked and it was bad news. The pilot was gone. Now Kelly had blown off the reach hatch and they began to spin towards Reach at sub sonic speeds. They began to even out and slow but it was going to be no way to land it. He heard the word jump and laughed. He followed Fred’s advice and prepared. Mike was roaring with laughter, this must of been a really overdose to his adrenaline. This was it, they began to jump in pairs. Ajax latched his hand onto the forearm of the Spartan next to him and looked to him. Malcolm-059 gave him a nod and they both leapt into the sky.
Ajax soon lost his grip upon him and spread out his arms and legs to try and create as much wind resistance to slow him as possible. He was coming in fast on a small clearing and looked to his comrades, spread out across the sky. He still held onto his gear bag with one hand and wouldn’t let go for his life. He curled into a defensive ball and hit dirt side like a bouncing bomb, tearing up a chunk of earth with his first impacted, bounced two more times then skidded right across the clearing, leaving a deep trench and finally slammed into a tree. He rolled his head and noticed a fault in his eye. No, net in his eye, his visor. It had been cracked by the impact. He gritted his teeth and writhed on the ground as an intense wave of pain swarmed through his body. He rose up and realised by luck he had still held onto his bag though the handle was almost torn from it. He tore it open and plundered his gear and geared up. He was glad he had left none of his gear on his person. He quickly began to move into the forest when he came across the first casualty. Liam-025 had unfortunately hit a rock. Ajax had seen hundreds of deaths of the years, men blown or chopped in two, people’s insides exposed by needlers while still alive, people disintegrated or melted by plasma and people suffering horrific trauma from battle but seeing a fellow Spartan die so unceremoniously… it was too much for him. He gagged. Liam was splattered in every sense of the word. He moved away then gagged again and fell to his knees. One Spartan, he couldn’t recognise lay down, blood pooling where their head should have been. He turned away and began to move and away and wrapped his head in his hands and tripped over Malcolm, who’s bio monitor had flat lined. He fell straight onto his back and tried to crawl away, almost in a state of shock when he backed up into one more. This one was easily the most horrific. Sure a Spartan’s bones can’t be broken by they can be torn out of place. They lay up against a tree, their body wracked in an odd pose, with their legs and arms poking in the wrong direction and their head looking over their shoulder to their S shaped back.
Ajax screamed. Something covered his face and dragged him away. Moments later light returned to his vision and his helmet was torn off, finally giving him the chance to eject the contents of his stomach.
“It’s okay Ajax, its okay.” Kelly said soothingly, holding his head.
“They… they…no…it was my fault… NO!” He screamed out
Kelly patted him on the shoulder to try and comfort him.
“It was just bad luck, no way was that your fault.” She said
“It wasn’t just bad luck, it was my bad luck!” He said, sobbing.
Elise sprinted out of the greenery and crouched down beside him and put her arm around him.
“My god, Kelly, what happened, is he wounded?” She asked like a worried mother
“No, he’s perfectly fine but the four Spartans who landed nearby aren’t.”
“How serious are their wounds?”
“They are all dead.”
Elise looked to Kelly. Kelly could tell she was shocked and looked down.
“Any word from Fred?” Elise asked
“No, I’m gonna go try and find him now.”
Elise unclipped Ajax’s rifle from his back then lifted him up.
“Come on, we have a job to do.”
Ajax rose up but Elise decided to stay put. Soon Mike joined them, like some kind of homer was on him. He had fractured a few bones, nothing much. Next came Anton, almost silent in a ton of armour.
“Hey, Ajax… you okay?”
“Its… its nothing.” He said, shaking his head, more to bring him back to reality than anything else. The COM channel opened up with the familiar voice of Kelly.
“Anybody with a weapon move up ahead and somebody back up our dead.”
He shook his head and handed his shotgun to Anton.
“Go up ahead You too.. I will sort out the bodies.”
Elise handed her rifle to Anton then looked to Ajax “I’ll help.”
“Well maybe these will help you.” Anton said, handing him a bag.”
“What is it?”
“An untagged supply bag… it has four body bags in it.”
Ajax looked at him darkly then spoke into open COM.
“Who the fuck brought body bags? WHO? Because I need to thank the son of a bitch.” He clicked off his COM and got four of them out and handed two to Elise.
“Don’t worry, I can handle it…”
He wiped it in the air to make it blow out then looked to Elise.
Ajax sat in the bunker, up against the wall. The four corpses where kept in the next bunker and every salvageable component had been stripped from their armour. It was an unenviable task but Ajax went through with it using his typical ruthless professionalism. He had replaced his helmet now and began to get a good connection back to SQUADCOM and his HUD worked again. He had collected his shotgun and rifle which made him feel more comfortable. He rested up against the wall and imagined the components still being on his comrades. There was a little tap at the door way and he looked lazily over.
“Ajax I need a hand, one of the chain guns we recovered isn’t working to well, we can’t figure what the hell is wrong with it.” Will asked
Ajax gave him a polite nod and followed him to the munitions bunker. Most of their gathered equipment in need of fixing was there. The weapon was an AIE-486H Heavy Machine Gun, a nasty chain gun with rotary barrels. Ajax neatly stripped the outer casing of it and disassembled the rotary bolt and lay out the pieces on a rag. He then got to the source of the problem.
“One of the power cables frayed.” He said flatly, tinkering with the wire. He reassembled it and flicked the on switch, promoting the barrel assembly to rotate.
Will made a report to Fred about a large crate he had recovered, much to his enjoyment. It carried Anaconda SAMs and a pair of Fury tactical nukes. Not much good it would do them. Ajax moved over to another one, flipped to latches on it and lifted the lid, just peering a little inside then shut the lid immediately and giggled.
“Ajax…. What did you find?” Will asked, somewhat unnerved.
Ajax tossed him his shotgun, which somewhat surprised him then Ajax fully opened the case and lifted it out. It seemed fairly similar to the AIE but had five barrels, all distinctly larger. It lacked the flash cover and gun shield and had an oversized cocking handle and a large ammo drum and a rear grip similar to that of assault rifle.
“So its that just and oversized HMG?” Will asked, looking to it. Ajax looped the strap over his shoulder then let it rest and retrieved a red cylinder from an ammo tin in the box. He split it open and then looked as several nail length spikes fell out.
“Its a… no way”
“The M43C Heavy Duty Shotgun.” Ajax said reading the manual. “Comes in semi automatic and manual mode, uses a 15 shell drum, uses depleted uranium, tungsten coated flechette rounds… my god.”
“Hey Ajax buddy… wanna trade?”
Ajax pointed it at Will then laughed.
“Hell no, its mine!”
He immediately pillaged the ammo tin, loaded the drums then lashed them to his body and dumped his shotgun shells and handed them to Will.
“I’m going to have some fun.”
Their conversation was interrupted by a COM from Vice Admiral Whitcomb. Not the best time to be asking for an evac. As Fred divided up the teams he was sorry to see Will limp away. His heavy weapon skills would have been a great complement to the defence he was now commanding.
“Team Beta, your on generator defence!”
Ajax was the highest ranked amongst Team Beta so he stepped in for their reply.
He opened a SQUADCOM to his six Spartans and began to organise team Beta. First off the Roster was Mike and Elise who he didn’t want operating chain guns, he’d rather have them as marksman and anti tank respectively. That left Leo-063, Mel-039, Greg-097 and Zack-003.
“Mike, Zack, sweep the perimeter, gather up anything still on the battlefield. Greg, I want you to stock every Bunker with an equal number of grenades and begin to share out the ammo and weapons. Elise, I want you on look out in the command bunker. Everyone else, you’re with me. We need to set up five of the chain guns in fall back position and organise a fall back route to this plans.” He said, uploading a modified layout of the generator facility. Certain tunnels had been blocked off, others rigged with explosives, bulkheads sealed and others turned into kill zones. “We fall back eventually to this location.” He said, pointing to a shaft going into the Earth, making sure everyone saw it. It was a maintenance shaft going down to where the facility connected with the sewers deep under Reach. From there they could make it to fall back zone. Ajax let them go do it while he went to the command bunker and stood beside Elise.
“The outlook is grim… until Fred returns we best do what we can to sit tight.”
“Lets hope he gets that cruiser before its forces reach us or they will overrun us in minutes.”
They stood there for about twenty minutes, the SPARTANS having reinforced the defences in fifteen and now waited. Mike and Zack patrolled just inside the woods, which would give them first contact. There were several bursts of fire, confirming the time had come.
“Contact, neutralised, shit there’s more! Cover me” Mike shouted into the radio.
There was a few more bursts of fire then grenades went off and Mike and Zack came running out of the forest.
“Everyone to positions, we have contact!”
A dozen grunts came tumbling out of the forest, firing plasma after them. A ghost burst into the clearing as well, its plasma roaring. A pair of Banshees descended upon them like vicious hawks, lobbing their missile like fuel rod rounds into the dirt, blowing chunks out of it and sending up clouds of green fire and smoke. The majority of the chain guns opened up with a hail of fire, cutting the grunts to pieces, one sent flying into the air as his methane tank exploded then another engulfed in a ball of flame. The Ghost was cut to pieces as well, chunks of metal then chunks of Elite flew everywhere then it hit the dirt before shaking violently and exploded. The Banshees launched an attack on the bunkers, scorching them then turned away and withdrew as a missile snaked after them. An Anaconda SAM struck it and blew it to pieces, leaving the second to dip low and head back.
“This was just the recon, hold firm!”
Seconds after saying that the real enemy force burst through. Two Wraiths lead the way, plasma bursting from their hulls as they hovered forward. Grunts moved up behind them with Jackals watching the flanks and Elites behind them, along with ghosts flanking further up the sides and Banshees descending from the sky. One banshee suddenly fell to the earth, crashed into a group of Grunts and their Elite commander and exploded, killing them.
“SRS99C greater than Banshee!” Mike roared
Another missile streaked out and plucked a banshee out of the sky. The chain guns chattered, bringing down the few flesh targets that strayed out from behind the Wraiths and the ghosts and their drivers. A rocket streaked out from the elevated bunker, striking one of the Wraiths in it’s side. It listed to its wounded side, its forward fin digging into the ground then began to turn. It came in front of the other Wraith that seemed unsympathetic to its problem and simply drove into it, going under it then flipping it. It’s plasma mortar finally fired, lobbing a ball of flaming starlight into the air then down upon the bunker opposite it, shaking it and melting a sizable chunk of it. The fire however didn’t let up and Elise’s second rocket streaked out and hit the top canopy of it, damaging it’s mortar. IT began heading forward, still firing but a few grenades flew out of a bunker and exploded underneath it, destroying it. The remaining Covenant were painfully open and easy pickings. The Banshees began shooting bombing runs but more fell to ground fire. There was no rest for the wicked as the fray was joined by more tanks, four crashing through the woods. Now their LRV vehicle was backing them up, giving them suppressing fire. Mike continued to pop of the gunners of all vehicles only for them to be joined by replacements, much to his frustration. They briefly switched to their rockets, spitting out high speed HEAT rockets, hitting vehicles and infantry alike, destroying them when the could. Plasma mortars hit the bunker complex, melting large chunks of permacrete, leaving red hot scorched craters. Fire was constantly returned until the last charging Elite fell under a hail of fire.
“Confirmation, I see another wave, supported by a few of those Phantom dropships…” Mike said.
Ajax peered out his bunker and saw. Four of them flying low right at them from the side. Now an infantry charge emerged headed by grunts and a wide spectrum of Elites, a wide phalanx of Jackals and Hunters following them in. The chain guns opened up but where preoccupied by the Phantoms as then began to hit them with broadsides of plasma fire. A missile streaked out, struck one’s engine and sent it flaring to the ground, just missing the first wave. The second was riddled with holes and just seemed to lose control and hit the first wave, crushing at least a dozen grunts. The next two passed on as the firing came into full life, with Mike and Elise assassinating officers and Hunters. The jackals and grunts fell down under the wave of fire but not before a group got close enough to hit one of the bunkers with Fuel Rod Guns and Plasma grenades, blowing it apart. Ajax swore for a second but Greg emerged and fired from the trench work behind. One by one their bunkers were knocked out, the second was on the verge of being stormed by Elites so they covered it as Mel fell back to safety and destroyed it, another was hit by a Wraith mortar after Zack vacated and another was penetrated by repeated air strikes, wounding Leo and forced him to leave as the ammo inside cooked off. Elise and Mike fell back to after a hunter pair smashed theirs up quite a bit, the ruins crumbling after they left. Now it was time to fall back. Ajax called the retreat, making sure everyone was into the complex, leaving him to get back last. HE ran in, plasma bolts sizzling past him and a few striking his shielding to no avail. They entered the complex foyer and began to close down the bulkhead and got into defensive positions. Ajax turned to his Spartans and smiled. Alive and mostly well though he noticed Elise had brought a souvenir. She had an AIE, torn from its tripod and held in both hands with a few ammo belts wrapped around her.
“Get to your positions, we got a minute, tops before they blow through that door!”
He got out his rifle and cocked it, leaving his M43 on his back. They levelled their guns to the doorway and waited with bated breath. Ajax almost held his breath for the whole minute.
In almost thirty minutes, it had gone way beyond FUBAR. Ajax quickly turned on his heel and fired. The last shell was ejected and then the next was loaded and he fired again. An Elite was shredded, leaving chunky lumps of wet meat behind. The M43C was insanity. He fired two more times, the barrel assembly rotating all the time, powered by a small electric motor. He got behind a corner and hit the glass case that held the emergency bulkhead seal button. There was an alarm blare as the bulkhead slowly closed, with a few stray plasma bolts coming through before it eventually sealed. Mike was firing down another corridor before hitting the bulkhead seal and fired off the last of his magazine and reloaded.
“Man, every time we beat them back at one generator, they blow a hole into another!”
“We gotta hold here or were fucked, there’s no more retreating.” Ajax said to his squad.
“That might not be so” Leo reported “I checked the shaft, it’s good for an evac.”
“Shit shit SHIT! We lost Reactor seven!”
“We got a Hunter pair knocking on the door, setting down some mines for those bastards!”
“Maintenance shaft is open, I’ve got it!”
“This is Greg fall back, there’s some jerk with a sword!”
“This is Elise” The radio blurted out, gun fire and alien roars penetrating the radio “I’m pinned down in Generator 2! Fucking evac tunnel is blocked!”
“I am coming to get you, sit tight!” Ajax said, panic creeping in”
“Haha, no can do Ajax! Ngh!” Ajax gritted his teeth. “Shit…ugh… I’ve had a good run… I’ll be with the others waiting.”
"Delta Team: Fall back. Fall back now!" He heard Fred call in over the radio, despite the on rush of static
"Reactor complex seven has been compromised. We're falling back. Might be able to save number three." Ajax reported in on the radio before ordering Zack. "Set off those charges now!"
Ajax heard an odd rumble and barely had time to swear. The light was blinding. The heat was unbearable. The screaming was the worst though. He could feel his comrades dig him out and drag him from the rubble. He felt the pale red light of the emergency lighting on his face. His eyes slowly opened and he just sighed.
“Aerial strike sir. They hit us with their cruiser weapons.” Zack replied. He could see Zack’s eye through the hole in his visor.
“Come on Ajax, steady now.” Greg said, pulling him up. He looked at the pair of them, both no longer looked like a shining green knights, their armour was blackened badly and charred all over. Ajax checked his own noticing many holes filled up with bio foam to stop his hydrostatic gel from leaking out. He reaffixed his helmet, which lay beside him, then turned to Leo who leaned on a wall with his arms crossed and then to Mel who was bent over the prone form of another Spartan Ajax went over and kneeled down beside Mike’s head.
“He shielded you from most of the blast by accident or on purpose… he’s still alive..”
He only produced soft gurgling noises but he knew what he was saying. Mike’s body was a mess, worse than those of the Spartans during landing. He was charred, with a part of his left arm and leg missing. Hydrostatic gel was cremated into a sort of crystal all over his body and his skin charred and cauterised by the heat.
“Leo… do still have any charges on you?”
“I got one left.” He said, handing it to him. He took the soft plastic explosive and then took a grenade from his belt and stuck it into the plastic. He grabbed Mike’s hand. Mike wriggled his finger into the pin then held it tight to his chest.
“One last adrenaline rush for you.”
Mike nodded forced himself to sit up. Mel and Ajax helped him then Ajax held the back of his neck and put their heads together.
“Brothers forever, say hi to those gone before us.” Ajax said, tears welling up in his eyes. Thank god his visor was intact.
“Ajax, they are already burrowing through, we don’t have long.”
“What about Elise?!”
“I think the blast was close to Generator two. The whole complex collapsed…its doubtful…”
“But she might of survived!”
“Radios are out… we can’t check.”
“There’s no way she could of survived… Ajax… just… not everybody is as lucky as you.”
Ajax couldn’t take it any more. He wanted to just sit down and cry. In real time he was 41, in cryo time 29 but at heart he was still just a six year old child kidnapped from the orphanage following the death of his parents. No. He had to be strong. He had to lead the others out.
“Okay, I will take point… lets move out.”
He pulled open the hatch and began to descend into the darkness. It must have been thirty meters down until the ladders ended. He dropped down with a splash, the water coming up to his knees. He could still see though, with near perfect night vision. The others followed suit and he rested his M43C on his hip. They travelled a mile down the tunnel system until they emerged on something else. Some kind of surface access shaft. Ajax could see light pour down from it but also some red liquid. As he moved closer he began to feel a wave of heat and then cursed. It was molten rock.
“They’ve begun glassing Reach…”
“It’s game over.”
“Not while we are still standing.” Ajax said, pressing forward.
They had been under ground for some time now, Ajax gave little care honestly. What he was concerned about was the sound of roars up ahead. They had picked up the sound a fair distance off and began to close in. They emerged on a wide open area were the pipe drained into a large basin. Five figures that seemed slightly larger than Elites stood at the end of the basin seemingly attacking a wall. Ajax motioned for them to creep forward then opened fire. Three assault rifles, a M7 and a M43 burst into life, cutting down four of them with easy but the fifth turned. It’s red armor seemed more ornate than the dark blue armor of it’s underlings. There was a haze of grey light around it and it ran forward screaming. All of a sudden there was a hail of fire from all sides. Reinforcements had been waiting in the other drainage tunnels. Ajax was distracted for a second by a metal spike crumpling on his shield by his head then the creature hit him with the hammer it wielded. It felt like a sledge hammer to the power of three, completely with some kind of energy burst. He was thrown seven meters back into a pillar and crashed into it, half burying him in it. He lay, half conscious in the indentation of his body in the pillar, looking at his squad. Greg fired wildly while stepping back into their tightening defensive circle. His AR ran dry and he dropped in favour of his M6C. He opened fire by turned around too late as one of these creatures got behind him. It pointed its weapon, a weapon that looked kind of like an oversized shotgun sporting two hatchet bayonets at him and fired, pummelling his energy shield with spikes then filling him full of spikes. His chest was like a porcupine now, with red hot metal spikes protruding from him. He stepped back slightly and raised his gun and fired off the rest of his magazine, burrowing the rounds in it’s head. He fell into the water and was surrounded by three then riddled again. Zack threw his grenades and fired off the last of his magazine before running out and swapping to his SMG. One of them, wearing more ornate armor and wielding a large weapon with a bayonet running its length closed in, firing off grenades from its weapon, blowing away his shield and a good chunk of his right leg. He was stunned for a moment then no match as it beheaded him with its bayonet. Mel let loose her whole SMG on a charging officer, downing it but fell under a flurry of blows from three of them. Leo was last man standing. He used his rifle to deadly effect, gunning down many of them as they charged before coming face to face with their leader, being beaten down by that hammer of his then beaten until a bloody pulp. Ajax gradually slipped out of his indent and to his hands and knees. He reached out for his shotgun but a leathery, four digit hand wrapped around it and picked it up. Their leader raised it in the air and let out a roar of triumph. One of the lesser officers picked up Mel, who still lived, and raised her up in the air like a trophy. Her helmet had been knocked loose during the attack and blood flowed freely from her forehead and her mouth. Ajax had failed his unit. He had lead them into a trap. He got all of them killed or captured. He had failed them. The Covenant had taken everything dear from him. His brothers and sisters were dead, the worlds and people he helped now destroyed. Nothing could appease him now, there was only one emotion left in his psyche. Anguish, suffering, depression, sorrow, guilt, all were replaced by rage. All he had left was revenge. In his chest a pain, a terrible pain gnawed at him as they died. He reached to his back and pulled what seemed to be a pipe wrapped in a rag. He pulled away the rag and revealed the weapon, a short pipe with a bulbous section at each end. He thumbed the ignition, bringing it to life the gazed into the deep blue light of the twin blades. The creature was slightly taken aback by this but quickly brought his hammer down upon Ajax. There was a flash of blue as it impacted, crushing the concrete below it but Ajax was already in the air, leaping clear of it. He brought the blade down on the creatures head, planting his feet firmly on its shoulders. The two prongs of the blade dug into its skull and neck and then Ajax twisted it before wrenching it free and dropping down, dragging the energy blade with him, slicing the beast in half. He swept it to his left, cutting more up then span to his right, slicing several through their midsections. A lesser officer leapt into the fray behind him and bisected him from his lower left torso to his right shoulder. Ajax’s brain gradually clouded as blood lust took hold and he began to massacre them. When he finally regained his senses the battle was over. Dark blue/purplish blood covered his armour and visor and dyed the water a black colour. He bore more cuts and wounds than before, if only minor. The blade still crackled in his hands and cast a ghostly light over him. He had never used it since he acquired it in Morigan but he knew that other energy sword’s batteries died within time. This however, kept running. He was amazed by it’s strength. He stepped over the body of their leader and then something finally came to his attention. He remembered cutting the arm off the officer that held Mel and then cutting through his waistline. He quickly looked at his squads bio monitors and by some kind of miracle, Mel’s still strived yet. He ran to her and kneeled down. She lay on the corpse of her would be captor, her blood mingling with it’s. Ajax watched her eyes flutter and her lips move slightly then her head lolled. Ajax turned his back on her and kneeled down then wrapped his hands around her thighs then lifted her up, giving her a piggy back.
“Come on… we…aren’t… done… yet.”
He stood up straight and began to stumble forwards when a shaft of light erupted from the end of the basin. He squinted, his visor no longer polarising. The shaft grew into a thick beam of light then several humanoid silhouettes appeared.
“Ajax oh one three.” CODENAME: REGAN smiled “We meet again.”
Chapter 8: Escape from Reach
Ajax sat on the chair, observing the numerous sutures on his body. They were like vivid red tiger stripes across his pale body. He sighed and sat up off the bed and stretched his arm.
“What is going on down here Regan… what is this place?”
“Its an old ONI facility, made alongside these sewer systems in the early days of Reach. When the Covenant started attacking me and a few of the ONI staff from CASTLE base were set to be evacuated but our exfiltration vessel was shot down. We came down here instead. I knew from old records there is a decommissioned Chiroptera class stealth ship however its in a worse state than I thought and we don’t have any engineers with us.”
Ajax was silent then looked to her, straight in the eyes.
“What happened to the other Spartans? Do you know?”
“…We received a burst transmission that they retreated to CASTLE Base but it has been overrun and the rest of Reach has been glassed. I’m sorry…”
“What about Blue team in orbit?”
“We caught a query from them to the surface trying to get a hold of the Spartans but it jumped out system.”
“And John just… LEFT?” He said, his anger rising.
“Yeah… I’m sorry, list-“ She said before being interrupted by Ajax getting up and smashing the wall with his bare fist. It was a half inch plate of steel and he smashed through it with his bare hand.
“DAMMIT! That BASTARD! He left us to DIE!” He shouted, hammering the floor, leaving deep dints in it.
“Ajax, stop it!”
“We were his brother a sisters and he left us to DIE!” He said, picking up the medical equipment and throwing it across the room.
“AJAX!” Regan shouted
Ajax stopped mid frenzy and looked at her, his eyes filled with a barely checked rage.
“Listen… you can go mental when we get off world but in the meantime… we need you.”
“What.. what do you mean?”
“Your technical expertise can be a great boon to us in fixing the Chiroptera.”
“What about Mel…how is she…”
“The ONI doctor has put her into cryo sleep to preserve her, there’s nothing we can do for her, at least here. We put the other bodies in here as well, we will get them back to Earth for a proper burial, though marked as John does. We’ll load them onto our ship when we escape.”
“John… that bastard…”
“Revenge can come later Ajax.”
“Show me this Junker then.”
She lead him into a hanger where a half disassembled stealth ship lay, filling the whole place. He looked to her then walked forward, getting to work. He had no choice.
For five days solid he worked on the ship, fixing it lovingly with the help of the ONI spooks. It was only a small ship at 50 meters long but it was so complex it was sickening. However, he didn’t need to worry about its reliability problems. The ONI took their AI, an advance AI for anti Covenant operations, in the same vein as Cortana, the AI set to accompany the Spartans on their mission. Her name was Alexis and reminded him all too much of Ama, though her attitude was petty she still had a somewhat fiery attitude and a red avatar, though this one had a short hair style with her hair going to the side. She spent a lot of the time in the facilities aging mainframe or in his armour, watching over him. However, there was fifteen bulkheads between them and the Covenant forces outside and they only held them for so many hours. By the end of the fifth day they were almost through the fourteenth. There was some repair needed, mostly on the slip space drive so he decided to tell the AI and the ONI spooks what to do while he and two thirds of the staff, along with Regan went to defend. They weren’t exactly well armed, lacking a lot of rifles but they did have a wide variety of arms, from a M6J Carbine, a M90A LE, a number of small arms and some of the arms belonging to those ape like creatures, apparently called Brutes, a creature that had gradually replacing the Elites in the Covenant. Their weapons were crude for the Covenant, including things like a weapon that shot spikes as their main arm, a small shotgun like weapon and a grenade launcher, everyone armed with a bayonet. One of the spooks had a weapon… something weird… it was a shoulder mounted weapon like the launcher but lacked an ejection tube or any way of reload and showed a single barrel hidden in an armored head that opened up. Defenses had been prepared, with a few sand bag barriers and a few combat barriers backing them up.
“Shit, there’re cutting through!” Someone shouted, bringing the defenders to attention. A single spark crept along the lines of the bulkhead door, slowly cutting it apart. Ajax had acquired one of their grenade launchers and remembered how it had behead one of his brothers. He would make them pay in blood. The spark crept from one to the other than the bulkhead was prized open. Ajax fired off grenades off into the small gap, killing one and surprising them. However it didn’t hold for long. They forced it open and swarmed through. A dozen of these hairy ape like creatures. Ajax fired off all his grenades into them, blowing several down and then reloading it with haste. Spikes, bullets, pellets and grenades were exchanged, killing many of the Brutes and injuring and killing a few of the spooks. The first wave was beaten back but what the spooks referred to as a ‘Chieftain’ came crashing through, wielding another one of those damn hammers. There was a low hum then a sudden flash of red and he was killed instantly with a burning hole pressed through his middle and the several brutes behind him. He fell, quite dead and the other Brutes began to berserker and run forward. More rounds were exchanged and they were bogged down behind their own dead. A spook pushed a cart in and suddenly whistled for their attention.
“I found a M7057 Defoliant Projector!”
“That’s not a fucking weapon, dumbass!” Regan retorted
“It is in the right hands.” Ajax said flatly as a Brute leapt over the land bags onto him. He flipped him over his shoulder and then cut straight through his body, disemboweling him. He passed his grenade launcher to Regan, ran to the M7057, picked it up and huffed it back to the barricade. He pumped it a little bit then squeezed on the trigger. A satisfying stream of fire poured out, coating them in liquid flame, burning them alive. He continued to pump and flame, burning the whole corridor to a crisp. Some came across the radio but he ignored it. All that mattered was bringing death to the Covenant. This flame would purge the galaxy of the Covenant and him of his sins. He blamed himself for his squad. No. It wasn’t his fault. It was John’s. John did this. John sent them to die. Something dragged him away and distracted him from his purge. Regan had a hold of his arm, dragging him with her.
“Come one, we need to help pilot this bucket!”
He dropped the weapon then dropped a Brute grenade with a strange orange core and ran with Regan. As they ran spikes flew after them, one finding purchase in Regan’s shoulder. She gritted her teeth a little but they continued onwards. They made it to the ship and boarded it then Regan allowed herself to be treated as the rear ramp closed then Ajax got to the Pilots seat. He hooked in and took of his helmet and a rare smile cracked to his lips.
“Opening launch bay doors, I’ll hit her engines.”
“No need, I have it!” He said, immediately throttling all engines to full. The tunnel opened and flooded with fire from the burning planet outside. He immediately shunted them to full and shot the bat like vessel out of the tunnel and through the flames of Reach and into the sky. He almost hit it vertical and broke through the cloud coverage and began to leave the atmosphere. A large purple shadow shrouded his view and made him laugh.
“CSS-class battlecruisers, I will take over and take evasive action.”
He threw her to the side, throwing a Spook across the cabin and flew along her length and then under her in a graceful arch. He laughed as that ship was only part of a squadron. There was a Assault Carrier and another CSS-class. He flew her under the hook on the prow of the Carrier then past the Cruiser then climbed further. He constantly looked at the rear camera, avoid bolts of plasma and pulse lasers as best he could.
“Up there, a debris field, head into it!”
He carefully ploughed into a vast debris field of wreckage, most of it an all to familiar purple metal. He used pieces of wreckage as cover, letting the plasma and pulse weapons impact of those to cover them. As he got deeper into the field the firing stopped and he began to cool the engines.
“Okay, cool the engines, do some simulations of slipspace drive shakedowns, I want any kinks in it to be worked out soon, hit all counter measures to full, baffle the engines, engage active camo, run silent.” He said to Alexis, almost making her pause then she nodded. The engines died and the ship floated. Ajax blew a few thrusters to make her tumble instead of simply float in a straight line in case they were picked up. The lights died, the consoles dimmed, the engines went to standby and the flames around Alexis died down and turned to embers.
“So what now?” Alexis asked
“We wait until those ships leave system or pull back to a further distance, break this debris field, follow the Cole Protocol on a randomized jump then jump to Earth.” Ajax said, leaning back
“Sounds like a plan but… this place… it’s a massive debris field of Covenant ships but… we didn’t destroy this many… what the hell happened here?” Regan asked, bearing out of the front screen.
“An accident maybe?” One of the spooks asked
“No… I think we might of missed something important.”
“Hey, I am picking something up… its coming through one of the remaining broadcasting satellites on a civilian emergency channel…its faint, let me play it back.”
Ajax listened to a six note seven tone beat whistled weakly over the radio. His eyes went wide.
“It seems to be emanating from a super carrier on the other side of Reach.”
Ajax blew the engines back into life before anybody realized it. They tried in vain to stop him as he began to accelerate dangerously through the debris field. A battlecruiser, once silent, now turned on them, firing angrily. Ajax turned to evade it and it followed. As the debris field slowed the Chiroptera the battlecruiser was unhindered and accelerated after them.
“We’re fucked, its got us, its got us!”
“Yeah, but who has it?” Regan asked
Ajax looked out the rear camera and saw a pair of dull explosions on its side, one hitting after the other then an explosion from star side to port, blowing a hole right though it. It went quiet and listed then a number of orange streaks hit its flank, blowing chunks out of it. It spiraled out of control and fell towards Reach.
“You took your time.” Regan laughed over the radio
“Sorry were late. Traffic was hell.” A male voice laughed.
Ajax was confused but then a silent ‘ah’ left his lips. Debris parted and was pushed out of the way by an object moving through the field. It disengaged its active camo and revealed its self. It was a navy blue destroyer, bearing the ONI symbol of its rear engine shield.
“Bring her over to a hard point, lets get you off that hunk of junk.”
“NO! There’s a Spartan on one of their ships! We have to get to them!”
“I’m afraid the Covenant vessels have begun slipspace jumping out system…A window of opportunity is gone. Besides, there’s only three of us.”
Ajax growled and the stood up and began to pummel the floor in anger.
“Ajax, control yourself! We’ve all lost comrades in this war, your no different!”
“The others… they weren’t just my comrades… they were my brothers and sisters… and… and…” He said, teary eyed.
“There will be chances… this war isn’t over yet Now get us onto that Frigate.”
He deftly moved the ship and maneuvered it over a hard point on its topside. There was a hiss as the airlock clamped to their rear access hatch. There was a wisp of atmosphere as it was opened by Regan then she descended first. Ajax followed and met a squad of ODST soldiers who pointed their rifles at him. There was an officer bearing the twin stripes of a navy captain on his shoulder and stood in a clean black uniform with a few awards decorating his breast. He had short red hair that was neatly combed. He bore an insignia on his shoulder of a white back ground and a black star shaped object and the words ‘UNSC Dark Star’ along with Latin words Ex Obscuru curving up one way and the hull classification, FFS-007. He’d never heard of a FFS, only FFGs, which were Guided Missile Frigates. He safely assumed the S stood for Stealth. He heard one of the ODSTs say ‘freak’ and a few laughed until on of them bearing the insignia of Sergeant Major shouted up.
“Shut yer fookin gobs or I’ll fookin shoot ya!” He said brashly before lowering his gun. His men followed suit.
“It’s been… what? thirteen years now since we last met?”
“Yeah, OPERATION: DOGMA out in Delta Kappa 76. Fucking to many damn Covvie bastards.”
“I’ll say that, we’re lucky we got out before that cruiser-”
“Enough of that reminiscing, looks like a sticky situation we have.”
“We should be able to jump at the edge of the system easy enough.”
Okay, Sergeant, get the ONI staff some bunks. Regan, Spartan-013, come with me to the bridge.
Ajax strode after him and Regan, pushing past the disgruntled ODSTs and headed up the corridor to the stair well beneath the Bridge.
“So… what is this ship?”
“This is the UNSC Dark Star, a Frigate ran by ONI trained Navy officers and carries and number of NavSpecWar teams along with large numbers of ODSTs.”
“We do high profile ambush missions, insertion, exfiltration anything, the Dark Star can handle it. Her and her sister ships the Dark Sun and Dark Moon are equipped with the most advance stealth technology we have, giving us as much stealth capability as possible. We were en route to deploy our forces to the Hamil-5 system, Covenant forces assaulted a UNSC held forest world but ignored the UNSC forces after taking a large area… we are going to find out why. I suppose your with us for now then… Should make it easier.”
“Well my suit needs fixing…”
“Don’t worry about that, we. can make it work again.” He said, stepping onto the bridge. He eased into his captains chair and Regan leaned on its side
“So what forces can we expect?” She asked innocently
“They reported a small battle group. Two frigates, a destroyer and a carrier. Not much.”
Ajax snorted. “That fleet could take out a squadron three times our size.”
“Well they can’t hit what they can’t see.” A strange voice brewed from the holo pedestal. There was an explosion of light as a bright figure burst up.
“Ajax, meet Durandal, Durandal, meet Ajax.”
The AI was a shining male figure with angelic wings made of code and a halo of light around his head.
“Let me guess, a messiah complex?”
“A messiah complex? Psh, I am far more powerful than that.”
“An arrogant egomaniac, I will look forward to stripping you of your code.” Ajax said flatly.
“Ajax, head down to the sleeping quarters, look for Sergeant Major Frank Zenna, he’ll set you up.”
Ajax saluted sharply and walked out. After the door shut behind him he sighed.
“Its gonna be like high school for him here…”
“Except in high school the geek didn’t have super human strength. This could end badly.”
“A Spartan-II is worth a few ODST casualties.”
“Oh I forgot your oh so very ruthless.” She laughed
Ajax stepped up to the two ODST barring the door to the barracks and sized them up. They were almost as tall as him but he knew no were near as strong. He just parted them with his hands and stepped in. He stepped in and saluted to the Sergeant Major who sat at a desk and bade him to sit down.
“So yoor one of teh Spartan-IIs eh? Its good ter have yoo on board lad, we can dee with all the fookin hands we can get.”
“hahaha, divvin’t woory lad, nee one fookin understans me!” He laughed “Now divvin’t worry aboot me lads, I’ll fookin keep em on the straight and narrow. You got a bunk down by the ONI lads and lasses so yer alreet for now.”
“Thanks…” He said weakly before standing up. “Where can I find the engineering work shop?”
“Deck three, cannit miss it.”
Ajax nodded and left. He took a trip down and dumped his armor with them but felt exposed. He disliked having to leave his armor behind but he didn’t have much choice. He took a trip to the cryo bay to visit Mel. First his brothers and sisters were stripped of him and now his armor. The only other one left alive was Mel but… he could hardly call it living. She was more or less restricted to the freezer. Her armor was literally holding her together. Hopefully when they got back to Earth she could be treated. He rubbed some of the condensation and stared at her broken face.
“So…All of them…apart from you two are dead?” Regan said, standing at the entrance to the cryo bay.
“Yes… maybe… I don’t know.” He said, not knowing himself.
“And the mission to end the war lies in tatters… there may still be hope.”
“What? What could possibly save us know? Reach is gone.”
“You will find out soon, after we’ve done away with this mission.” She smiled. “Admiral Cole lives on.”
Ajax looked at her, perplexed then shook his head. He rubbed his face and then walked out of the room, leaving Regan on her own. She looked on Mel, lying near dead in the tube and smiled.
“Oh, your not the last… even if everyone fell at Reach… you wouldn’t of been the last. There is always Ackerson’s unit.” She smiled to herself.
Ajax numbly stabbed at his food and held his head in his hand. The cramped mess hall was less than ideal. The bacon, scrambled eggs and beans were made especially for him by the cook but he felt undeserving. He rubbed his hand through his hair and then looked up as a pair of burly looking men sat all around him.
“So, FREAK, you got off Reach, eh?” One of the ODSTs said, muscling in close to him.
“…Yeah…” He said weakly, trying to ignore them.
“So the rest of them died down there? Too bad.” One said sarcastically.
“To bad, good riddance to the FREAKS.”
Ajax snapped. He could handle no end of abuse to himself but never to his brothers and sisters, their memory would never be defiled.
Ajax immediately pushed back, knocking down his chair and picking up the ODST. He grabbed him by each side of his head and suddenly smashed his head into his. He heard what he thought was his nose break and threw him down.
“DON’T YOU EVER CALL MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS F-“ He roared before stopping mid sentence. He was dead. Blood bubbled out of his crushed skull and his face was contorted in pain. Immediately the two ODSTs with her drew their side arms, followed by more of the ODSTs and Marines drawing their side arms. Ajax didn’t bother to see who they were pointed at. There was a click behind one of the troopers, prompting him to turn around.
“Private… lay yer arm DOON.” The Sergeant Major said.
“But, he, he… he just killed Carlson!”
“That fookin bastard had it comin, goin on like that.”
“But that FREAK killed-“
Both were distracted for a second. Ajax grabbed their arms and forced them upwards and squeezed tight. They both dropped their pistols in pain.
“What is going on Sergeant Major?” Captain Drogen said, standing at the entrance to the mess hall with his hands buried in his pockets. The two soldiers, though both in body suits made famous by ODSTs were not ODSTs. Or at least, not any more. They were both members of NavSpecWar teams, the next best thing to Spartan-IIs and a step up from ODSTs. Both had their rifles pointed at the ODSTs.
“Sir, this freak here-”
“I am well aware you just provoked one of the best of the best into a fight. Your lucky I am deciding not to court marshal you. Or bunk you down to toilet scrubber. Your lucky he only killed one.”
The Private gritted his teeth and loosened up and picked up his side arm. He put it back into his holster and stepped back. Ajax gritted his teeth then turned and left. Drogen watched him and laughed to himself. He walked with him out of the mess and down the corridor.
“So this is how you plan to go about, killing ODSTs that piss you off?”
“It’s a living.” He mumbled
“There’s no need to be so mopey. You know… your not the last.”
Ajax stopped instantly. Drogen walked on a little before realizing.
“You… you didn’t know? Were you hiding when we received our last news cast?”
Ajax suddenly pushed past him and into the barracks. Ajax sat in front of the screen used for inter ship communication and pressed for it to play.
“…And… it seems… its… its him!” The reporter shouted. Ajax’s gut twisted “Master Chief is alive, he has returned from parts unknown!”
Ajax felt a hard knot of hatred tie up in his fists.
“This is a great day for the UNSC, one of her greatest heroes has returned to Earth!”
Ajax had to find him. Ajax had to see him one last time. Ajax had to see him again before he killed the treacherous bastard.
“Your MJOLNIR armor is a mess, your lucky I jerry rigged it to stay working, at least for now.” The tech specialist said to Ajax. Ajax didn’t really care, as long as it worked. “Just take care, don’t over exert it.”
Ajax replaced his helmet and his armor began self diagnostic. Its status light was amber, not a good sign. He walked out and began to approach the top deck, to the hard point docks. There was no way Drogen was going to let him go to Earth, he would have to make his own way.
On the bridge of the Dark Star Drogen sat back lazily, with his head resting in his left fist.
“Durandal, ETA to slip space jump?”
“Two minutes, Shaw-Fujikawa Slipspace Drive charging.”
“Captain! We have trouble!” Alexis said, sprouting up in a ball of flame. She had remained in the mainframe of the stealth ship still attached to their hull.
“Worse, Ajax has gone rampant.”
“He’s begun the power up sequence.” She said before her image suddenly flickered and the flames died to embers.
“What’s going on?!”
“He’s in my mainframe, my god, what is he doing?”
Her image continued to flicker, her colours turning to a dull red/brown and the flames dying out.
“He’s locked out my access, he’s in my internal core, he’s accessing my file systems, he’s, NO!” She screamed before her image died.
“Did Ajax just destroy her?”
“Negative, he disabled all her systems and access though and, ugh… no!”
“He’s using her as a slave AI, he’s accessing my systems with her pass codes and hacking software, he’s disabling my subroutines, he has control of ship, functions an-” Durandal said before cutting out. An hologram appeared in his place, this one of a Spartan-II.
“You AIs are so pompous, thinking no human could out smart you.” Ajax snorted
“Ajax… stop this… this is going AWOL… you could be court marshaled, executed even.”
“I don’t care any more… just make sure to get Mel back to Earth in one piece.”
“AJAX!” Drogen shouted at the top of his voice, catching him off guard slightly “Stop this madness!”
Ajax clicked off and began to detach from the hard point and accelerated away from the Dark Star. He began to charge the slip space engines for a jump. He’d get back to Earth, one way or another.
Drogen gripped the edge of his chair, not so much in anger at Ajax’s disobedience but anger at himself for not preventing this. He sighed and then flitted his hand over gunnery control. He pressed down on the button usually reserved for activating the 50mm point defense guns. He linked through his neural implants to the forward point defense gun and smiled.
“Sir, guns charged, ready to fire, can you hit it?” The gunnery officer reported.
“Like fish in a barrel.”
Ajax looked out the rear view camera and swore as a few dozen pairs of red lights came into life across the hull of the Dark Star. One suddenly lashed out at him, spitting twin beams of blood red energy at him. The Lasers bisected the ship, one cutting right through the starboard engine and the other through the slip space drive. The drive immediately died and the other engine stuttered. He shut the engines down and leaned back.
“Fine, you got me.”
Ajax was escorted back on board by a NavSpecWar team armed up with assault rifles he didn’t quite recognize. They were certainly a MA5 series rifle but, there was something he didn’t recognize about it. Nonetheless he went along with them. The crew was settling down for Cryo sleep now and he was forcible removed from his armor and then kindly asked into Cryo sleep. The sleep would do him some good at least, clear his head. He climbed into the tube and leaned back as the door shut. When he awoke, it would be drawing on killing time. At least in cryo sleep he wouldn’t suffer from the nightmares eating away at his soul. Every time he saw the faces of the Spartans, Elise, Mike, Fred, Will, all of them, burning on Reach. He could see John just walk away into the suffocating blackness around them.
Chapter 9: Awakening
Ajax cracked an eyelid as he was forcibly awoken from his slumber and sat up in his coffin like cryo chamber.
“So… we’ve arrived.”
“Actually Drogen already started battle maneuvers , we arrived some three hours ago.” Regan said, with her arms crossed “He wanted to wake you up only when needed.”
“So I’m nothing more than a weapon.” He said, climbing out. He reached his hand into his mouth and pulled, drawing out a thick string of green mucus then dumped it into a sink. He hated the Surfactant.
“He wants you in the first wave, with the Hell Jumpers, you need to be ready for a hard drop.” She said, walking with him to the showers. He walked in and immediately gave himself a brisk and cold shower.
“All arranged, come with me.” She said, walking him to a armory crate brought in. He dragged on some clothing and put on his battered Mark V armor. It came online at least. He pulled a gun out of the rack and checked it.
“This isn’t a MA5B…”
“It’s a MA5C, newest version, half the magazine capacity but they’ve remodeled the computer suite, gave it a heavier barrel with a 1/7 twist.”
“So it can actually penetrate and hit stuff now?” He said nonchalantly, dumping it down on the desk. He pulled out a M90A and admired it and attached it to the magnetic plate on his back. He lastly pulled out a pair of pistols. They were reminiscent of the M6D, coated in black polymer but as soon as he held it and tried to jack into the fiber optic scope nothing happened.
“There is none, it just looks like the D. It’s the M6G Its just a big link sight.”
“That’s good enough for me.” He said as he began to gather up the foil packets of ammo and stocking them into magazines and then putting those into his pouches. It would be good enough. He Finally looked to Regan who smiled and bade him to follow her. As they moved onwards everything went dark and the ship turned to emergency lighting.
“What’s going on?”
“We just went dark… That means we are on the final approach.”
“The Covenant battle group.” She said, leading him into the long corridor housing the ODST HEVs. One opened up, allowing him to get in. It was shut on him, leaving him with only an emergency red light. He pressed a button on the side, bringing up the ships forward camera on the small view screen. He tapped into FLEETCOM and listened as the battle unfolded.
“This is Dark Star to Dark Moon, status?” Drogen asked, sat in his chair like a coiled big cat, ready to pounce.
“Hornet mines away, moving onto their flanks.”
“This is Dark Sun, we have your flank, targeting data is in, Archer pods are hot.”
“We have the MAC on minimum charge, ready for full charge once we get the signal.”
Drogen looked to both the Sun and the Moon, high lighted by the TACCOM screen.
“Lets go loud.”
He could see the Four Covenant vessels, everyone easily out sizing him swim lazily in space like see mammals. He pressed his fingers together and smiled as the MAC gun charged and went loud, giving the ship a firm kick. A 600 ton shell smashed into the lead frigate, punching a hole through its port deck to its keel. It was pushed back by the blow and lurched horribly. The MAC round from the Sun penetrated its starboard side and came out its stern, blowing apart its engines. It exploded horribly as the volatile forces of its reactor raged out of control and destroyed the vessel.
“Sir, the Covenant are coming about, moving forward!”
“Hold position, return to silence, wait for it…”
The Covenant vessels turned predictably and surged to the source of the fire. The ships were still well disguised and still hidden.
“Impact in three… two… one…”
Drogen gripped onto his chair as the polarizing filters of the bridged turned black, blocking out all light. He could feel the nuclear shockwaves pound the ship.
“Bring us up to full power, I want targeting solutions for Archers, power up the MAC gun, bring the point defense lasers online.”
“Yes sir” Durandal replied. All the lights came onto full and the ship began to accelerate.
“Sir, we have movement, the carrier, its still operational, its just released a swarm of Seraphs, deploy our Longswords?”
“Negative… the lasers will make a fine mess of them…”
The polarizing filters died down and the carrier, with multiple fires across its decks lumbered towards them. He saw a streak of white lash out from the Sun then the Moon before their Mac fired, followed by their Archer pods. The first round pounded its now reactivated shields and the next two smashed straight through it. Orange flames followed, with the Archer pods following in and hitting them, blowing through their decks and punching into it. It suddenly lurched as a massive explosion took hold of one of its aft sections, tearing through its hull. As the seraphs began to swarm upon the Dark Sun and Dark Star a smile graced Drogen’s face. Dozens of blood red lasers lashed out, cutting the fighters to ribbons. Their shielding didn’t protect them now, with lasers destroying them with ease. The carrier never even got a shot off before its death. An explosion rocked it and blew it in half, the two sections were then consumed by smaller explosions.
“This is Drogen to ODSTs, prepare for Hell jump, heading over the drop zone in five minutes, say your prayers.”
The bulkhead on the bridge opened up ad Regan stepped in with a smile.
“Covenant superiority eh?”
“Are you up here for a reason?”
“I’m heading in with the NavSpecWar teams.”
“Is that so?”
“I want to know why they are crawling all over each other down there and I am the closest thing to an expert we have on the Covenant sociology and religion.”
“Permission… granted. Good luck.”
She walked out, prompting Drogen to watch her leave. She was attractive but out of his league, she was interested in nothing other than victory. Well that, and Ajax.
“So Zenna, what are we doing down there?”
“We’ll the lads her found three AA batteries defendin their excavation site so ODST drop assaults from the Star, Sun and Moon are gannin for Alpha site, Bravo site and Charlie site. STARS cams show nee defenses so this should be a walk in the park.”
Ajax wasn’t convinced. There was unconfirmed parts down there he should be worried about. Well, that would come later.
“Prepare for jump in five marines, hang onto you helmets.”
Ajax gripped onto the safety bars and rocked his head back. He shut his eyes and rested as he heard the clamps unlock and the HEV was set free. He felt the gravity of the ship disappear and then the gravity of the planet take hold.
“Well this is fun.” A female voice rang in his head.
“What, who the hell is this?!”
“Its Alexis, who else?”
“Where are you?”
“I’m in your head… Didn’t Regan tell you I was in your armor when you put it on?”
“That was low…”
“teeheehee, this landing is gonna be fun.”
He felt the temperature soar as it hit the atmosphere, rattling through like it was a bead in a maraca. He could feel the outer hull slough off like an orange peeling and just gripped on. There was a jolt as it passed into the air and then deployed its parachute to slow it down, though that eventually snapped off, shaking the pod again.
“AAA guns just went LOUD!”
Ajax cursed as one of the ODST pods was struck, blowing it to little molten pieces. The second shot just nipped his pod, burning through its upper side. He cursed as the last of the ceramic skin came off and then the thrusters burst into life, at least slowing it down. It punched into the ground and rested for a few seconds before the door hatch exploded, blowing it off and allowing Ajax to jump free and immediately into cover.
“We lost Valasquez and Hooge.”
“We didn’t lose the freak.”
“Still intact sir.”
“Okay lads, I want fire team bravo to scout ahead, check the defenses.”
Ajax kneeled down and checked his gear before moving to Sergeant Major Zenna who lay in cover.
“Reet lads, get that gear set up under some cubicles, MOVE IT! Oi, oh-one-three, get ere.” He said, prompting Ajax to sit beside him behind a tree.”
“Listen up, once we get a word on their defenses, we will move up. In the meantime, get some of this kit ready.”
Ajax nodded and hefted the two AIE turrets and the SAM turret under cubicles but was interrupted by fire team bravo returning.
“Boss, we got trouble!”
“What is it?!”
“Their defenses are just INSIDE the forest, we couldn’t see them on STARS. They got a SHIT load, we spotted six bunkers and a whole mess of new shade turrets. There’s no chance we can punch through, its full of Brutes.”
Zenna sighed and tapped on his helmet, trying to come up with a plan.
“We need to lure then out.” Ajax said as if normal “The Brutes will go on the offensive as much as possible…”
“…you heard him lads, I want defensive positions in the woods, get our mines ready, I want four fire teams to go attack em and run like little lassies.”
“yes sir!” the ODSTs barked before running out
“Nice job lad, were did you get that idea from?”
“The Art of War…”
Zenna stared at him blankly then Ajax shook his head and patted him on the shoulder.
The ODSTs ran through the thick forest, sprinting as fast as possible. Spikes and explosions followed them. A pack of Brutes ran into the opening between several trees, roaring out their guttural battle cries. Their captain charged forwards, screaming before a sniper round burrowed its way through his face. They all stopped for a moment as his brains coated them then went to cover as machine guns opened up, hidden under a fallen tree and in some bushes. Gunfire opened up, tearing them to pieces. They took to cover, using the trees and their comrades as cover but grenades sailed in over their heads and blew them out of their hiding places. ODSTs opened up from above them. The Brutes screamed out in agony and rage as they were gunned down. A group flanked the side but was immediately caught by fire from ODSTs on a fallen tree trunk above them. They leapt up to beat them up close. One kicked an ODST clean off and another cut his arm off with they bayonet on his spiker. He turned around to face his next target and stared into the golden visor of Ajax. Ajax smashed the side of its head with the butt of his shotgun, knocking him off and then pointed it to the other one and fired. The brute was thrown back ,stumbling and roaring in pain. BBs had penetrated its power armor. Ajax walked forward calmly with his shotgun at his hip and fired again, killing it. He leapt down onto another one, knocking him down and hitting him with the butt of the shotgun square in what passed for its face, crushing it. He turned as another leapt up and hit it with his shotty at point blank, the force of it blowing it back. He turned as another charged, berserking. Ajax beat it then planted the barrel of the shotgun firmly into its chest and fired. He backed off and moved to the prone form of the one he had knocked off. He planted a boot on its shoulder and fired. He reloaded and looked to the ODSTs who facilitated to their rounded. There was a shout as more Brutes arrived, but from a wholly different direction. Brutes fell from the sky, jets of purple flame licking out from their back packs. They fought with the marines hiding up in the tree tops, battling them desperately. Ajax ran back to the main battle, holstering his shotgun and drawing one of his pistols. He climbed up one of the trees where a Brute held a marine by the neck and planted the pistol to the back of his head. He fired once, the SAPHE round penetrating its spinal column and killing it. It dropped the ODST who began to fire on the other Brutes with Ajax. He opened up with his pistol, several of his bullets finding purchase in the back of a Brute and blew up his back pack, blowing him up and sending him flying across the forest. His pistol went dry unexpectedly early, prompting him to switch and hit one coming down straight above with his second pistol. They seemed to have a shallower magazine, that caught him off guard but he switched to his MA5C and opened fire. The thing was damn comfortable to use and shoot, one of the Brutes being gunned down with ease. The last landed in the center of the cross fire and was simple blown to pieces by massed fire. All too easy. He leapt down and proceeded to reload and steal some of their grenades before heading off to the AAA site with the ODSTs. There the six turrets remained on a careful watch. Time to take them down. A rocket snaked out and hit one, blowing it to pieces. The others began to turn to the point of attack when snipers and marksmen aimed for the gunners. Ajax an forward in a near suicidal assault as three of them trained on him. A few stray bolts washed over his armor but he managed to throw one of the Brute’s Spike grenades at the turret, sticking it to the front and blowing it to pieces. One after him was shot by the rocket, blowing it off the gravatic pedestal and the other one had its gunner sniped. They had three secure at least. The all gave time to breath before moving up but there was a distressed message from Alexis.
“Alpha team, we have a problem!” She spoke out from Ajax
“What is it?”
“I’ve been monitoring the STARS in orbit and there is a Scarab inbound!”
“Shit… what can we do against one of THOSE?”
“Everyone get back… set up yer rappel ropes high up in the trees… yer know what to do.” Zenna ordered
As everyone began to move back one of the ODSTs stayed behind. Ajax was about to head back when he realized he was badly injured, a plasma bolt having severely damaged his leg. He hadn’t said anything so he wouldn’t have to slow down his comrades. Ajax moved and grabbed his arm but the ODST shook him off.
“Don’t touch me FREAK!” the marine shouted at him. It was the marine from the Mess hall “You want to kill me off, like you did to Carlson?!”
Ajax just ignored him and suddenly lowered himself and grabbed him at the waist and picked him up. He carried him over his shoulders and sprinted back to the ODSTs, actually catching up with them after a short time. He dumped him with the other wounded, much to his shock, then joined up with the ones hiding in the trees.
The Scarab lumbered through the forest, pressing past trees and moving onwards. Its nose glowed an ominous green color and on its silver decks a number of Brutes patrolled. One looked up just as a grenade fell down and hit off its head before exploding and blowing it clean off the deck. More rained down, blowing them off or to pieces and then was followed by rappelling ODSTs, firing wildly into the smoke. Ajax however kept his clam and waited until touched down before firing, aptly hitting a Brute heading up from the command deck. He pressed down, hitting more then cleared out the forward bridge with grenades. He pressed forward and planted a C-12 shaped charge before departing, leaping off the Scarab while the other ODSTs rappelled down and scattered. An explosion rocked it then smaller ones rattled across its body and then it collapsed.
“Okay, this is our chance, storm the AAA gun!” Alexis commanded, the ODSTs and Ajax surging forth. The clearing was empty and the AAA gun was at their mercy. Ajax climbed one of its ‘legs’ and hurled a C-12 charge into and leapt clear.
“Alpha Battery is down Captain.” Alexis reported
“Bravo and Charlie are already down, reinforcements inbound, look sharp.”
Two Pelican dropships and a gunship passed over head, circling over them. One began to near them for landing when a beam of vivid green energy struck its side. Its wing and nacelle was blown to pieces and its armour badly mauled. It span out of controlled and crashed down, its wreck smoking.
“Shit, we have a new contact, another Scarab!”
The ODSTs got into the cover of the rocky clearing so see a vehicle wholly similar to the Scarab in that it has four legs but a very different creature. This one was covenant purple/magenta and seemed slightly smaller than the normal one but it was more bug like in shape. IT no longer had a large open deck and spine but instead had one running along each side and one on the nose and an elevated one on the rear. On its rear there was another plasma cannon, doubling its effectiveness.
“Dammit, we have NO chance against that thing!”
“Not yet.” Regan radioed in “Shaw, aim for its legs, take them out.”
The gunship closed in and strafed along its side, layering it with missiles. Both its side legs were damaged though not destroyed. Its legs seemed to buckle and alarm bells rang out as it lowered down, barely keeping itself off the ground.
“Storm it, move move move!”
“Disengage, that plasma cannon will cut us up!” Regan ordered
“Negative! I’m good!” Shaw said cooly.
Ajax stormed over the rocks and began to ran to it with the ODSTs but were met by a hail of spikes, grenades and fuel rod strikes. Explosions consumed or injured a few but they pressed on and got up close to its side.
“There, a door, Marine, blow it open!”
The ODST wielding a M41 rocket launcher aimed it at the door and fired, blowing the watched off. He leapt onto the frame of the hatch and as a Brute came to defend it he grabbed it by the scruff of the neck and threw it off. He jumped in and shot the gunner manning the rear gun and then charged up the ramp to the fore deck. A chieftain along with his bodyguards, four of them guarded the top. Ajax threw one of their spike grenades right at the chieftain but there was a pulse of energy from his armor and the grenade instead bounced off and hit his bodyguard, blowing him to pieces. He seemed to laugh at Ajax and the bodyguard’s misfortune and leveled his Fuel rod gun at him. Ajax threw his second grenade and it stuck to the fuel rod gun. The Chieftain screamed but was consumed a hail of spikes and green plasmatic fire. He stormed up into a melee between the two last guards, one of them having died with his commander. He smashed one and than span kicked the other, knocking them off guard then shot one of them in the gut and pressed his shotgun into the throat of the second as it rose back up and fired, decapitating it. Too easy. He moved to the back a grunt and a guard blocking his route. He kicked the grunt off then beat the minor mercilessly, the few spikes it did fire off bouncing off his shield, he got through to the back and pumped his last few shells into the glowing shield at the back that protected the energy core. The shield fell and he tossed in a grenade before running back to the fore.
“Clear the site marines, DOUBLE TIME!” Alexis ordered. Ajax ran to the prow of the vessel and leapt clear as clouds of blue fire crept along its hull then one final one consumed its rear half.
Ajax was blown clear and landed in soft soil, leaving a mild crater. He shook his head slightly then saw Regan’s face above him, her long red hair dangling into view.
“No time to rest, we have an excavation site to capture.”
He sat up straight, almost head butting her then stood up. He looked to her and frowned under his helmet. She was in full ODST armor par the helmet which lay strapped to her hip. She had a side arm and a small sword, more often called a ‘knife’ on her tight and she carried a BR55SR HB.
“Lets get moving, we have NavSpecWar teams down already.”
The ODSTs changed places with the NavSpecWar teams of the Pelicans then they headed into the center of the forest. The resistance was light, with a few jackals and grunts on patrol before they broke through into the center. The excavation site was a roughly blown out pit, dozens of meters wide and scaffolding and grav lifts went up and down it.
“This isn’t going to be easy…”
“Air forces inbound, hold on.” Alexis reported in
A trio of Pelican gunships flew over head, followed by six hornets and they began to descend, hammering the Wraiths defending the base then descending into the pit. Ajax and the spec ops teams pushed for the main grav lift, with a trio of warthogs backing them up. The forced the Brutes off and immediately took the lift down the shaft of purple light, followed by their air forces, which regularly cleared out decks of scaffolding before the neared the bottom. Down there it was frightening clear, there was nothing down here. In the center of the pit stood a column of glowing green crystal, easily two meters high, with ancient symbols running up and down it. Ajax walked forwards, observing it and then stopped in front of it and brushed his hand across one of the symbols.
“Why… do you seem… so familiar…” He murmured to himself
“Okay, we need an Albatross down here, heavy lift gear.” Alexis radioed in “Hey… are you… okay?”
“I… I’m fine…”
“Well that’s a first for you, you moody bastard.”
Ajax huffed and turned to Regan who had walked up.
“Scan it for radiation, trackers, anything that can be followed.”
“Scanning….scanning… it’s clear…”
Above them an Albatross descended. Its side doors fell open as it neared the ground and several of the marines excavated the base of the crystal and got it onboard before loading up themselves. They all got back onto their vehicles and loaded up and ascended back into the sky. The Dark Star lay waiting, near invisible.
Ajax walked up to the cockpit and looked over Regan’s shoulder as they neared the docking bay.
“We’re all aboard? Once we leave orbit we’ll head to Earth… there are some things waiting for you there.”
Ajax frowned in his helmet. He had revenge in mind.
Chapter 10: Ghosts of Reach
Ajax flexed his arms slightly and looked to his hands, moving them about with fluid grace. He then took a few steps and turned around on his heel to look straight at Regan, who was sat on the large olive crate it had come in.
“This is the Mark VI MJOLNIR Powered Assault Armour/C variant, the CQB armour. The Mjolnir/C variant was developed and tested at UNSC Beweglichrüstungsysteme facility in Essen, Deutschland and Songnam, Hanguk, respectively, integrating feedback gathered from the Jericho VII Theatre. The intent with the Mjolnir Mark VI Powered Assault Armour/C variant was to improve survivability in close combat, specifically by looking at alternate methods of K dispersal and improving joint mobility.” She read from the manual.
Ajax remembered the Jericho VII theatre. He remembered the brutality of the close quarters fighting. They had almost lost some Spartans there. He looked at himself in a mirror and slammed his fist into his hand. He still beared a similarity to the Mark VI armour but his visor was distinctively T shaped, with over sized cheek guards with padding on them, a large piece of black alloy reinforcement on his head, a pair of rectangular shoulder pads on each upper arm and a heavily reinforced chest plate with a knife scabbard bolted to his chest.
“This… will do.”
“That’s good. The Pelican preparing to take Mel out to HIGHCOM facility Bravo-6 it’s going… you heading with her?”
“Sure… someone has to stay with her.”
“I’ll be there to pick you up tomorrow. We should have our mission by then. And… I hear an old friend is there.”
Ajax looked to her quizzically and she just smiled.
John had just finished the debriefing of Operation: FIRST STRIKE along with his actions on Halo. It was early in the morning, almost three, so the facility was almost abandoned. He looked forward to finally getting a good rest, considering all the sleepless nights he had up till now. He looked up to see something. A similar silhouette, with the distinct gold visor though shaped differently and the same reflective green armour. His stance seemed odd, angry, and almost unrecognisable. John though it strange that he couldn’t recognize one of his own Spartans. He decided to play it safe and walk towards him and brushed two fingers across his face plate in a Spartan Smile. The Spartan stuck up two fingers in a crude, archaic gesture. John was taken aback by it, but even more by the fist slamming into his face. He fell to the floor and looked up, confused and dazed but recovered fast enough to avoid the hammer like blow into the floor, impacting into the concrete and crushing it to dust. He stood up and then looked to the Spartan and swore as he tackled him around the midriff and kept running, throwing him through three walls and then slammed him down and stamped on his gut, indenting him into the floor.
“What, Spartan, STAND DOWN!” John shouted.
Ajax picked him up over his head and threw him against a titanium bulkhead. John bounced off it and slammed onto the ground.
“What the hell is this Ajax?!”
“You know what this is about!”
“I thought you were dead, how did you-“Ajax interrupted him by picking him up then smashing him with a spin kick.
"Where were you at Reach, eh? While we fought and died on the surface, you ran, YOU RAN with your tail between your legs!"
“It’s not like that!”
Ajax kicked him in the inside of his right knee and made him fall down. He rose up his fist and prepared to bring it down when something restricted it. His other arm was restricted as well. John rose up to come to blows with Ajax but something restricted him. A pair of olive green arms wrapped under his arms.
He looked to the gold visor of the Spartan standing behind John and shook his head in disbelief.
“No… you… you are dead…”
“Ajax…” Linda whispered “John came back for us.”
“Ajax… I’m sorry I didn’t find you.” John said weakly
“I … I couldn’t believe anybody could of survived the air strike.” Fred said repentantly
“Wait… if you guys survived, then… ELISE?! Did you find her?” Ajax said, now standing up after being released by Fred and Linda.
Everyone remained silent and Ajax looked down to his feet.
“Come on, let me tell you what happened.”
“…and we got back, though we still don’t know where Kelly is…”
“Well… my team survived par… Elise… and Mike… at least for a little longer. We got ambushed by a new Covenant race, only me and Mel survived but… she’s frozen to keep her from death.”
“Same happened with me.” Linda said in her usual emotionless tone
Ajax sat up in the couch, the couch bending and cracking where he sat.
“But that thing… that thing you found… Halo? That’s some… fucked up shit…”
“Yeah… I doubt it’s the last we’ve heard of it either.”
Ajax looked to all of the Spartans there and then shook his head. He stood up and walked to the door.
“Ajax, where are you going?”
“I… I can’t stay.”
“But wait, we are reforming into Blue team, stay with us.” Will blurted out
“No… I’ve done something unforgivable... I’ve struck not only my CO but one of the closest things I have to a brother... I have to leave… to atone for my sins.”
The other Spartans were silent as Ajax left. They would probably never see him again.
Ajax walked away as fast as he could, looking down. He wanted off Earth, as fast as possible. He couldn’t stay here, not after what he had done. He continued forward, storming out of the foyer which was quite a bad option as the crowds there cooed at his arrival. As he continued moving he bumped into somebody and almost floored them and just remarked with a ‘sorry’ but then something unexpected happened.
“SPARTAN-013?” The man asked
“Yes… how did you…?”
“We’ve met behind, over 25 years ago, at Hectate!”
“Wait… I remember. Lieutenant Shaw?”
“I’m a Captain now, I got some promotions after four tours of duty against the Covenant.”
“That’s… that’s good… good for you.” He said, trying to be sincere.
“I’ve never had a chance to properly thank you for Hectate, if you had never bought us time to escape… I would have never gotten back to Earth… to meet my wife.”
He pulled something from his pocket, a worn photograph of him, a woman with light brown hair then two children, an older boy with the features of his father and a daughter with features of her mother but the dark brown hair of her father. Both weren’t older then four. He smiled with a wide grin, same as he was on the family photo.
“Well... I’m in your debt for getting us down safely, were both still alive, no need to thank me.”
“Wait, I want to help, I want to make a real contribution to the war effort, not just evacuating wounded or bringing fire teams to their grave sites. I want to volunteer to join which ever unit you’re with.”
“Well well, a captain with some experience of Spartans.” Regan smiled, getting up behind Ajax and leaning on his back. “That is rare, well, my name is Regan, I’m from ONI Section three, and I’m pleased to welcome you aboard.” She said, stretching out her hand.
Ajax could see Shaw physically tense up but then smiled and shook it politely.
“It would be my pleasure.”
Ajax was silent on the Pelican ride up. Regan stood opposite him in the cabin and sighed. Shaw was in the cockpit, preferring to ride up front.
“Do try and cheer up. Cheery Spartans make for effective Spartans.” She remarked sarcastically
Ajax shot her a dark glare that made her blood turn cold.
“Okay, okay but… we have a mission of high importance.”
“And what may this be?”
“One of the far inner colonies just fell and got glassed but the Prowler on operation there spotted the Covenant making something. A station. They picked up slip space messages coming to and from it. We think its some kind of control post for their Battle Net. We need to take that station. We want you to lead the attack and piggy back Alexis in to the system.”
“… I’ll do it.”
Chapter 11: Operation: Kitsune
“So, any questions on the operation?” Drogen said, standing beside the holo desk.
“NO SIR.” The NavSpecWar teams roared back.
“Good. As you know, we are getting our ODSTs on board to cause havoc. You’re our primary force. Punch through to your objectives and take them. As you know, Sierra-013 is attached to Team Seven. Take good care of him and he will take good care of you ladies.”
There was some stifled laughter and then the were dismissed, leaving with a salute. They immediately went down to the armory and began arming up in their body suits, getting their arms together and ensuring they were loaded up. Ajax chose his arms specifically, taking one of the M6Gs with M225 SAP HE rounds, a MA5C with plenty of spare magazines and then one of the M43C Heavy Duty Shotguns. They would be useful, along with the shit heap of grenades he took. The ship had already dropped out of slip space, along with the Dark Sun and Moon, quite some distance from the station to avoid their Cherenkov radiation emissions giving them away. While the ODSTs and NavSpecWar teams loaded up Ajax made his way to the bridge.
Captain Drogen turned to the Bridge bulkhead as it hissed open and smiled a little.
“Last minute jitters?” He smiled
“I came to collect Alexis.” He frowned, leaning over the holo pedestal and removing the data crystal chip. He plugged it in the back of his helmet and twitched. It felt like a burning sensation in the back of his head. Happened every time he loaded Alexis up.
“Oh, if it isn’t the psychopath, ready?”
Ajax retreated from the Bridge and down to the Hangar bay. He climbed into back of the Pelican with a TACCOM for team Seven and buckled down by the door.
“Look who joined us! I’m Lieutenant Junior Grade Hamilton. This is my squad, as are you for know, you better look after them.”
“Yes sir.” He said quietly.
“Good, now, Shaw, hit the door.”
“Sure thing, hold on ladies.”
There was a hiss as the bulkhead opened up and they were suddenly dragged out of the cargo bay into the void. They were joined by eleven more dropships moving through the void with speed.
“We’re jamming their communications, they won’t signal the patrol fleet for help…”
“Keep the chatter down.” Regan said through the comms.
“Contact! Four ‘o’ clock! Dropship!” A pilot reported in
“What? Shit, evade!” his co pilot replied
“It’s just got us on its scopes, it’s moving into an attack vector!” he shouted
“If that thing fires off we are gonna loose this WHOLE plan!” Drogen returned
“I’m on overwatch, got it pinged with our missile pods! Weapons free?”
“Negative, if we fire we’re rumbled!” Regan ordered
“When it takes us out we are gonna be rumbled, either way, we don’t have much choice!”
“…Make that bastard eat void.” Regan said, her teeth audibly gritting.
Ajax could hear the explosion over his comms and then rested his head in his hands at the next comm.
“The patrol fleets has us, moving in. Your on your own, even we can’t go up against that!” Drogen sighed
“This is it… my bad luck has finally caught up with me…” Ajax murmured to himself.
“New contacts slipping in!”
“A Covenant fleet, eleven ships… They just opened fire on the nearest patrol group… what the hell?”
“Sir, all patrol groups are converging on the new fleet!”
“… There’s some bastard god smiling on us. Okay, everyone engage NOW!”
Ajax flipped the safety off his rifle and hung onto the dropship as it began to accelerate quickly. The LT moved to the cabin gun and warmed it up.
“I’m in their system, their bay shields are going down in five seconds!” Alexis said cheerfully
“Confirm, bay doors are down, prepare for depressurization!”
Ajax uncoupled himself as the air was torn from the cabin and then stood up and hung onto the over head railing as she swung around.
“Hot zone, weapons free!”
The door opened up and the machine gun chattered into life. Well, he assumed it did, he saw the muzzle bursts. Ajax jumped down, as did the NavSpecWar teams, muzzle flashes and vibrations in the floor was the only sign of the guns going off. A few Brutes and Grunts remained, the rest were sucked out or died of asphyxiation. Ajax fired in a few bursts at one, its armor failing and then finished him off with a shot to the head.
“Heads up, your back up is arriving now!”
The dropships had already left and now the second wave with the ODSTs on. They jumped down and immediately began to dig in. The dropships left and Alexis let the bay shields reactivate. He felt the air pressurize the room and then kneeled down by an unused Ghost, aiming his weapon at the door.
“Okay, Teams one through Four, get down to the reactors, take the explosives with you. Teams Five Six and Eight, you’re with me, we hit the Comms center.” Hamilton radioed in. “Sierra oh one three, take point.”
“Targets are on your TACCOM gentlemen, lets take a leisurely strole.” Alexis said, her voice seemingly particularly carefree
The door in front of them opened and a confused group of Brute Infantry lumbered out. They lasted for a few seconds but their officer, a ‘captain’, took to cover with his Grenade Launcher. He fired off one grenade but it missed, landing between two troopers and blew them to each side, unwounded. Ajax advanced up, pushing it back then picked up one of the Brute’s ‘Potato Masher’ grenades and threw it at him. The metal spike stuck into his chest plate and he just had time to roar before it separated his head from his lower torso with a pair of arms and grisly bits in-between.
“Covenant Battle Net is in disarray, they don’t know what’s going on!”
The pushed on, with only a few Grunts and Jackals along with the occasional Brute standing in the way. However, the Brutes were only delaying. Ajax got up to the bulkhead of the comm room and kneeled down by it, as other squad members got around it and primed their Flash Grenades. Ajax moved to the Door to open it but nothing happened.
“The door… they’ve sealed it.”
“It’s locked out from in there…”
“FUCK! Get a charge, prepare to blow through.”
“No! I can get in.”
Ajax pulled the panel off the side of the door and looked in. Hamilton looked as well but she knocked on his helmet.
“Shouldn’t we let the AI deal with this?”
“No, he’s had more first hand with Covenant tech than me and it’s been isolated from the main system. Smart for Brutes. Too smart.” Alexis sighed
“Okay, get your guns and… open!” Ajax said, clearly reveling in his technological butchery of the system. It squealed open and two flash bangs immediately went in. Ajax swapped to his M43C and went in first, the other troops going in with accurate bursts. There were a few Brutes who opened up with their Spikers. They just bounced from his shielding but one troop was unlucky. He was too slow and the Brute just swept it. There was two spikes in his arm, three across his chest and one in his neck. No chance. One Brute went mad and charged at them. The trooper in his way didn’t have much of a chance and Ajax heard bones crunch. He immediately went to action and shot the berserking Brute, blowing him to pieces and turned to the high ranking officer there, barking commands while still holding his eyes. He was perforated dozens of times, leaving him barely a whole corpse. There was a roar as a Brute, having formally been at the side of the door and overlooked by the soldiers recovered and attacked on. He speared slashed one trooper across the chest, piercing his armor before Ajax blew off his upper half.
“Target secure, all teams, move up!”
“We have pings on the motion detector, Brutes moving up!”
Ajax looked to an opened crate of Covenant equipment and began to hand them out.
“Go deploy those. Those should buy us some time.”
“Okay, we need a medic up here, we have two wounded, one KIA.”
The NavSpecWar teams dug in, using the Covenant deployable cover to at least give them cover and buy them time. The wounded were treated and the dead bagged as Ajax plugged Alexis into the network. Her avatar appeared on the raised section in the middle of the room where he stood and she seemed to giggle innocently.
“I’m in, streaming all information to the Dark Star.”
The comms were awash with the reports of the ODSTs who were massacring waves of Grunts charging the bay and the second NavSpecWar team who penetrated the reactor chamber.
“Brutes are probing our defenses, like animals!”
“Then give them some grenades!”
“Repurpose their spike grenades, get them into their corridors, they fill them with shrapnel.” Regan reported
“Where exactly ARE you?” Ajax asked on private comm
There was a tap on the back of his shoulder and one of the soldiers in full body armor waved to him. Regan. Typical.
“I came in with team six.”
“Good for you… Alexis… SITREP so far?”
“I have 40% of it sent and I translated their top priority messages with my sub routines, wanna hear?”
“…Lets have a laugh.”
“There’s been some major shit going down. About, a day after we left Earth… a Covenant exploration fleet arrived, headed by one of their hierarchs.”
“No… oh god no.” Regan whimpered
“Good news is, we sent them packing, one ship breached the MAC stations, it landed in New Mombassa, dropped a whole mess of troops, that an old friend of yours sent packing.”
“Yeah, well the prophet bugged out, arrived at… referencing… a Halo installation. Mean anything to you?”
“Yeah… that’s bad, that’s real bad.”
“It gets worse… first the parasite gets released and then… there’s some kind of upheaval in the Covenant.”
“How bad can it be?”
“Holy… I don’t believe this… The Elites and their supporters left, that’s who attack the fleet here!”
“My god, any reason there?” Regan asked, intrigued
“Religious crap, no real reason… searching…”
“Ah shit, it gets worse, something here… the High Charity was infected, it disappeared shortly afterwards.”
“What about the Chief?” Ajax asked, worried
“Seems he followed the, killed a Prophet, boarded High Charity, damn that boy is something!”
“All the Spartans are.” Regan smiled
“It seems the Covenant high leader… erm… translating…. Truth, came back to Earth with a sizeable Brute force.”
“Dammit… Anything else?”
“Numerous reports of Brute-Elite fighting, other crap and… something…”
“Come on, spit it you over rated targeting computer.”
“They call all the Spartans, Demons, right?”
“Yeah… so what of it?”
“I intercepted a conversation between a Prophet and Brute commander of a planet.”
“So what’s so interesting?”
“First off they are talking of human captives… why didn’t they end them out right? And also… it talks of a captive demon…”
“This is Regan to Drogen, we have a new mission, and you will get the Co-ords in the data translation.”
“This is awful sudden…I was going to continue to Re-“
“No, this is something just as great to the war effort and it’s on the way.”
“What is it?” He said lazily
“We think we found a Spartan.”
Ajax didn’t know what to think. Another Spartan, still alive? That… that was fantastic… but was it true?
“Data packet is… downloaded, lets move it!”
Ajax picked the data crystal pack out and reinserted it into the back of the head and punched his helmet.
“Team eight, I want you on our rear, Team five, Sierra oh one three, take point, Teams Six and Seven, carry the wound, move move!” Hamilton ordered.
The exit was as uneventful as the entrance, with a few scattered groups of Covenant. They had to push piles Grunts out of the way to the bay, the ODSTs and Zenna laughing cheerfully at their work. They evaced in two waves and then detonated their charged on the Reactor before slipping out as silently as they entered. The Elite and Brute ships continued to hammer each other, not caring or noticing.
Chapter 12: Shards of Memories
“Can’t sleep?” Drogen laughed as he leaned in the door frame.
Ajax lay down on his bunk, in the empty bunk room looking up at the ceiling.
“Neither can I, I don’t like cryo freezing, I always take a sedative before hand, your reason?”
“I’m just… thinking.”
“About the Spartan?”
“Yeah… I’m wonder who it is…”
“Well you got a list of who it could be.”
Ajax rolled over and pulled off his t-shirt and showed him the tattoo running down his back.
“It’s a list of Spartans KIA and MIA. The ones confirmed KIA have a cross through them.”
“So it could be quite a few.”
He looked down the list, looking at the list of names and stopped at Elise.
“What about 070? She’s MIA likely KIA in the real list.”
“No… She couldn’t have survived… not two sets of orbital bombardment…” Ajax said, wishing his words weren’t so true.
“Well… I do have something to cheer you up. Regan is still down in the Tactical Operations Center pulling some files that may interest you.”
Ajax looked to him lazily and then stood up and brushed past him.
“Good night sir.”
Ajax pressed the open button on the TOC door control then stepped in. It was especially roomy for a TOC, most likely because of the nature of the Dark Star. Regan sat in front of the main monitor but didn’t turn to him when he entered, she just wavered him over.
“So what is it you have then?”
“I got bored so I did some searching, I got something you might like.”
“Like what?” He said, disinterested
“Personnel files from Reach, Spartan personnel files.”
Ajax suddenly leaned closer, interested. His eyes began to scan over the first and he let loose a rare smile.
RE: Personnel File: SPARTAN-013
To: CPO Mendez
I have mixed views on the suitability of SPARTAN-013 for the SPARTAN-II program. His attitude is unsuitable to the nature of the SPARTAN program, to make a team of super soldiers, as he severely lacks social skills, or has a refusal to use them. Though if I have read his history correctly, he may still suffer from some kind of post traumatic stress disorder. However on the other hand, today I discovered several books missing, then Spartan-013 reading them, with nothing appearing on the security camera in my office. How he has done this I am not entirely sure.
C. E. Halsey
Reply at 1100 23/11/2517
Honestly, that doesn’t seem to be the least of his problems. One Spartan attempted to take one of his stolen books and we have only just stopped the bleeding from his compound fracture. Also my personal AI has reported multiple break-ins, both to my office and to my personal computer, and most of the time, the security blanks. However, I caught him in the engineering shop, disassembling and reassembling a Mongoose ATV. He actually fixed the engine problems that the engineer has failed to for three weeks.
CPO Mendez to C. E. Halsey
I know you wanted a terminal access in the Spartan barracks so they could choose to expand their learning in their spare time but in the last month internal security has reported fifteen net intrusions to high security files and a ONI officer almost sent a NavSpecWar team here because somebody accessed and hacked through a dozen or so high security files in a faster time than some of the best AI hackers. Also, I am assuming you know about the massive net break down [18 hours, 15 minutes] ago? That was traced back (with much difficulty) to the Spartan barracks. Apparently some kind of program made that the protection systems have never encountered that basically uses analogue algorithms to hack one PC then slave it and then begin a massive cascade of multiple hackings then suddenly enmasse access the Reach HIGHCOM defense net at the same time, crashing it and beginning an net black out for four hours before the system could be purged. All of these hackings happened at the same time as Spartan-013 logged access to that terminal.
Learning Review: Code X-Ray encoding, for ONI3 review only
In all honesty, if we had not chosen Spartan-013 for the Spartan program, I would have chosen him as my successor. He seems to perceive things differently, he doesn’t see things, people, weapons, enemies as real things, he sees them as mathematical formula, as things he can predict, perceive, and work out in his head. His predictive abilities are impressive. During a ‘lucky card draw’ during my first encounter with him I shuffled a deck of cards after showing him one and unlike many people who watch the card as it is shuffled, he counted the number displaced each time. He also seems to have an astounding understanding of computer systems and machines, causing the [Net blackout] in 2517 on Reach, retrofitting a Mongoose ATV using parts striped from other vehicles to increase its capabilities, his learning is far beyond that of the other Spartans, as at the moment, he has learned two more languages, created a crude AI, has read eighteen books borrowed from me and read eleven of my papers. However, this has severely hampered his social skills. Outside of [Black Team] he appears shy and reserved. Reports of ‘Psychcopathy’ and ‘Bad Luck’ are unconfirmed, though Sociopathy is. The few psychologists assigned to him have requested immediate reassignment a short time after initial contact.
Regards, C. E. Halsey
Personnel File: SPARTAN-070
I always saw her as very timid and reserved but essentially friendly. She only just made the grade because of her short stature and recent that came up between her another Spartan. SPARTAN-034 was hospitalized when he made the remark before training and during the exercise, involving the climbing of ropes, she kicked him off. She also badly injured a number of other Spartans who remarked this and prior to her actions she does hold a grudge but post attack she is kind and courteous to them, as if nothing happened. She has shown adeptness with using her smaller size to an advantage, being able to lift things that would make the other Spartans cringe. She appears to have a pseudo-sibling attachment to SPARTAN-013, much stronger than the bonds of other Spartans. I am curious what would happen if it was broken but I do not recommend testing that.
C. E. Halsey
Personnel File: SPARTAN-028
‘Adrenaline Junkie’ as described by Mendez. Has shown repeatedly that if it involves risk, he is willing to do it. Such examples are when he was caught juggled explosives. These particular explosives are vulnerable to shock and most likely would explode if dropped. He has been caught stealing cigars from Mendez and the drill instructors on multiple occasions, has hot wired Mendez’s personal Warthog on four occasions (though it is suspected SPARTAN-013 hotwired it for him.), rode a stole Mongoose ATV across the roofs of the base’s buildings, creating modified ramps from pieces of stolen wood and had created some kind of dirt track when assigned to build trenches. Also he has developed some kind of reaction in his brain that will predict arcs of movement caused by gravity and wind, allowing him to operate sniper weapons without compensating for wind or downfall, he has been able to do something Mendez describes as the ‘perfect throw’ being able to get a grenade where he wants it and this certainly aids him in his adrenaline seeking activities. As for social skills he has shown particularly efforts to try to test them, though his loud, braggart attitude often contradicts this.
Personnel File: SPARTAN-039
Melanie-039 has been reported as having one of the more odd personalities within the Spartan group. At first nothing was observed but as she gradually grew close to first her squad, then the others, it showed it’s self. When first unfamiliar with a person she is polite and shy, but as she gradually becomes closer and more comfortable with them, she develops a slightly abusive behaviour. Though no genuine malice behind it, her fellow Spartans are often the source of her by physically and verbal abuse, with her regularly play fighting, calling them names or just generally swearing at them in a offensive but 'loving' manner. However, despite her apparently explosive personality, she has incredible patience, being able to stay still for hours, perhaps days on end, waiting for her chance.
Ajax smiled with an open face grin, the first Regan had ever seen. She could have sworn she could see something glisten in the corner of his eye. Did Spartans even have tear ducts? She laughed this off and then switched off the monitor.
“Time for bed, come one, we have some hard fighting ahead when we wake up.” She said, standing up.
Ajax nodded and took one last lingering look at the monitor and smiled. Though his brothers and sisters were dead, they would live on forever in his heart. Time for a cold nap.
Chapter 13: Divine Ascension
The Dark Star slowly circled above the planet below them, keeping a safe distance before preparing to hammer down to the surface. This would require a quick and precise strike. Something they were ready for.
Ajax sat in the TOC, looking to the surveillance screens. Drogen, Regan and Hamilton all looked at them as well, checking the ground sites.
“We confirmed in intercepted comms and a planet wide sweep… most our objectives are here.” Regan said, pointing at some kind of large building. The world was hellish volcanic world, with choking ash storms, Lava Rivers and other conditions unsuitable for human habitation. “However the messages we have triangulated on the demon go…. Here.” Regan said, pointing to some kind of spire building a distance away.
“So what do we do?” Drogen said, looking to Hamilton
“Split our forces in two, a dual assault.” Ajax said before Hamilton could say anything. Hamilton furrowed his brow but then nodded
“Fair enough, what force dispositions?”
“I purpose we launch our NavSpecWar teams with Sierra-013 and-“
“Negative, no need to waste our best with a secondary objective, we need them to lead the main ODST force. All I need is a few squads and Alexis.” Ajax said. If anyone was to command a mission to rescue a Spartan, it would be him.
“Acknowledged… are you ready for this?”
“I was ready the moment I heard that transmission.” He said with gritted teeth.
“Yeah, I was afraid you would say that. I’ll be with Captain Shaw on his Pelican, you go down there and kick some ass.” Regan smiled before leaving
Hamilton looked to him and gave him a look of deadly seriousness. “I hope you know what you are doing.”
Ajax stared at him then left. He already armed himself, and too the teeth. He had also secured some Covenant tech from a few missions back. He had talked it over with Regan and was eager to put it to use. It was a sort of semi sphere on top of a four pronged pedestal. An ODST had a sort of sphere in a blue metal casing secured to his back as well, both of which would be useful. He approached the hangar bay and looked to his volunteers. Four squads of ODSTs. He hoped he hadn’t made a mistake. Zenna stood at the head of one, a big grin on his face.
“Aye ladee, we got yer back, haven’t we lads?!” He shouted
“Ho-aah!” They shouted in unison. He had their support and respect. That was all he needed. They would follow him to hell after the last operation.
“Okay, to your Pelicans, lets get this show on the road!” He roared, moving to his own.
He stepped up the back and then stowed his shotgun before moving to the cock pit. Shaw sat in the pilot’s seat and Regan leaned back in the Co-Pilot seat.
“Right, we are burning orbit in… five… four… three… two… one, we’re hot!” She read out as the Dark Star descended into the planet’s burning atmosphere. Behind her the Dark moon and the Dark Sun followed, leaving three trails of fire before they broke into lower orbit.
Ajax remained quiet as the Longswords launched, followed by the Hornets then the Pelicans. They were on the ‘drop bays’ on the underside of the ship and were held in place by magnetic clamps. He hated the gravitic pull while dropped in space, never mind in orbital spots, even worse in the gravitational pull of a planet. The Pelican dropped and then he left his stomach in the ship. He rocked back as Shaw rocketed the thrusters then brought her together and moved her onwards. There were explosions in the distance as the Longsword neutralized any ground threats and the Hornets cleared the skies of Banshees. He held on as they closed in on the purple Spire, emerging from an island amidst a lava lake. He gripped to the side as she lurched violently into a swinging trajectory to the LZ, a platform jutting from the spire for landing Phantoms.
“Eyes sharp, LZ is hot, I see two lances moving up!”
Zenna leapt upon the rear gun as the doors lowered and then laughed as the AIE HMG whirred into life. He chewed up the Brutes and their Grunt underlings in a hail of fire and then let her cool down as they came down to ground. The ODSTs leapt out, followed by Ajax and then took to cover as the next came down. They pushed onwards and then outside the bulkhead they took to cover.
“Ajax, I’m picking up a UNSC homing beacon from inside the complex, any idea why?!” Alexis reported in
“MJOLNIR armor has a short range beacon. Upload the co-ords to TACCOM, lets get hunting!”
As the orange triangle emerged in his head he removed Alexis from his head and as the data crystal chip neared the console beside the door a flicker of fire seemed to jump to it. He brought the chip back, satisfied that she had it secured and then raised his gun to the door. It slid open with a hiss and immediately he heard the angry roar of a Brute. It was interrupted by the barking fire of human firearms. The gaggle of grunts supporting him broke and ran but didn’t get far.
“Outer perimeter breached, all units go!”
The rushed in and then began to fan out, with Ajax leading one fire team on point.
“Motion sensors report all clear. That’s pretty odd.”
“Stow it, press on, we can’t let up!”
They moved up through the spire to their target when a chill ran down Ajax’s spine. They had only encountered a handful of lances, most playing it defensively. He crouched by the door of the next room and then thought he hear Alexis laugh as it opened up onto a vast garden area. They moved into a trenched road and moved up, watching all angles.
“Alexis, any radio chatter?”
“It’s quiet, too quiet. Crap, get down!”
All the ODSTs knew better than to question an order like that and hit the dirt as streams of plasma fire then burning blobs of green fire thundered over head. Two banshees howled over head, screeching as they went around for another pass.
“Contact, two Banshees, advise!”
“We packed light firearms, nothing heavy, wasn’t necessary for CQB!”
“Get doon ya fookers!” Zenna roared as he leveled a small claw like weapon. He had stolen a plasma pistol and now the pistol held a glob of burning green energy. As the Banshees screamed back in he let it loose and struck it directly in the front. It burned a shallow whole and then the Banshee’s engines died as sparks of green energy flickered across it. It hit into the dirt, digging a shallow trench. The ODSTs rose up and took down the startled Brute pilot but many didn’t get back in time to avoid the second. There was a stream of plasma fire into one marine, burning through his chest with ease and then the fuel rod shot hit him, vaporizing his remains and knocking several of his comrades clear. As it flew over head it suddenly jerked and seemed to struggle to rise. An olive green demon was latched onto the back of its rudder and suddenly yanked the Brute out. Ajax crawled in and took control and came back around, hitting his foe with a bout of plasma.
“Zenna, get the second ‘Shee, lets cover our boys!”
“Aye lad, see yar up there.”
Ajax circled round briskly to see and spied his targets. A group of Prowlers inbound to them. Not good. He circled around to face then and immediately hit her into a strafing run, bathing them in a slurry of blue fire, scorching the lead prowler and killing a passenger, burning through his power armour and sending him tumbling from his speeding vehicle. As plasma and spikes rained in on him hit fired off a fuel rod shot, less then ten meters away from his target and suddenly whipped up into a rise. He heard a violent explosion and then circled back around to see the burning wreckage of one of the Prowlers. The two others focused their fire on him, with swathes of plasma fire coming in after him. He circled back around to get a good shot when a suddenly explosion of green fire flipped one over and sent it tumbling several times until it came to a rest upside down. Zenna flew past him at speed and circled back to gun down the survivors. The last prowler began to try and shake him, successfully evading his storm of plasma fire and fuel rod strikes. Ajax carefully maneuvered as he entered a thick wooded area and made his shot, a severe burst of plasma to the driver. A slurry of fire burned through his skull and then it rocketed into a boulder, stopping it dead. The Brutes tried to collect their thoughts but soon they were scattered, along with pieces of the Prowler, limbs and their gray matter by a fierce explosion. Ajax pulled back up and came to circling back around.
“Sir, we’ve gotten bog down, multiple enemy contacts on the bridge!”
Ajax looked back to Zenna and then looked to the slim Covenant Bridge. Spikes and bullets were exchanged between the two out buildings on one end of it and a number of Brutes pushed their Grunts forth along the bridge under a withering hail of suppressing fire. Ajax lined up with the track as Zenna blew a hole in the Brute controlled building then suppressing the gunners as the ODSTs moved on. Ajax strafed the bridge, cutting down Grunts then destroying lances of Brutes in thunderous green explosions. He peeled up as something rounded the corner and he cursed. He barrel rolled it to the side and clipped the suspension cables and sheared off his right gravity pod to avoid the miniature sun that seared past him. He struggled to take back control as the Wraith moved down the bridge and then reared it back around. He rose up high then began to come down in a nose dive. Zenna streaked past him, his Banshee flaming from repeated heavy plasma strikes and crashed on his side. Ajax activated the booster and suddenly pushed himself out the back. He spread his limbs out in an x shape and tried to slow himself as the Banshee crashed into the top of the Wraith and exploded. He landed on the torn upper canopy amongst the flaming wreckage and then leapt clear. The ODSTs moved up the bridge and then Zenna moved past the ruins of the Wraith and smiled.
“Aye, that’s how it’s done lads.”
Ajax shook his head and brushed past him. Beyond the end of the bridge the bulkhead lay. The TACCOM marker was ten meters beyond there. He led the way, the squad moving up behind him, making up for the few they lost. They had lost one to the Banshee, another three taking the out houses. He moved up to the door and brushed his hand across it.
“Alexis, pop this open.”
The door slid open and beyond them a darkened room obscured them. He couldn’t see much, even with his modified vision. He scanned about and the squad took defensive positions around a number of crates. Hot air was being pumped into here, disrupting thermals and annoying Ajax. Then it hit him. He turned to face the door and it sealed.
“Crap, it’s remotely sealed!”
The lights hissed on with a buzzing noise and Ajax’s attention moved to the center of the room. A Chieftain moved forward, his golden armour glimmering in the pale blue light. He held something aloft in his hands. It was a SPARTAN-II, motionless, the armor charred, broken, blood stained. He threw it down in front of Ajax and it clattered emptily. It was a ruse. Ajax’s blood boiled, hotter than any furnace, any plasma weapon, any sun. He roared in defiance.
“KILL THEM ALL!”
The ODSTs never hesitated. Soon the first wave of Brutes fell but there were dozens more. Spikes were exchanged soon their heavy weapons came to bear. A captain leveled a Brute Shot at him and Ajax swore. Ajax rolled with the explosion, hitting the wall hard. The ODST unit tried to cover the exit valiantly but overwhelming forces of the brutes where cutting them off. Ajax rose up, a spike round ricocheting off his armour as he did. He pulled the shotgun from his back and began to fire, the buckshot shredding one of them to pieces. He quickly moved forward to the exit held by the ODST when an explosion in front of him sent him hurtling backwards. He doubled up in pain on the floor, gripping a piece of shrapnel imbedded in his body suit between his armour plating. A heavy foot was placed upon his chest, stopping him from rising up. He smiled at the gruesome excuse of a sentient being.
“Step off ape” he rasped maliciously
He was kicked hard in his wound. He then rolled with the kick, further away from his enemy. He then picked up an item from the pack of a downed ODST and smiled wickedly. They didn’t know what was about to hit them. It was a ball shaped object, mostly steel blue but with a blue light glowing faintly from within. He pressed the activation button and threw it into the midst of the brutes before leaping clear. There was a sudden pop noise and a mighty shockwave blew out, annihilating or injuring the brutes caught within its deadly grasp. The Brutes still came at him with deadly abandon, one, a smaller one covered in thick armour plating, almost like one of the old elite rangers, launched a kick into his gut then a alternate flying kick to his head, bowling him over. Another scissor kick was aimed for his head but he quickly put up both his arms in defence, blocking the blow between his wrists then grabbing its leg and twisting, throwing them down and delivering a bone shattering blow to their gut before being kicked off as his enemy leapt back up from their back and came back onto the attack, narrow missing his head as he ducked from another spin kick then launched one into his injury, sending him stumbling back and cringing in pain. He then looked up from his wound in time to see the double kick but not in time to defend and was knocked right back down. His attacker loomed over him but suddenly stumbled to the side as Sergeant Major Frank Zenna suddenly tackled them, bowling them over but was simple picked up and thrown against a wall, leaving a dint after impact and stirring on the floor, his visor cracked from the blow. A brute chieftain caught up with his protégé and smiled at Ajax.
“Finish the demon.” He barked, handing it a plasma sword.
It came on with a buzz, casting a ghastly glow across the enemy. He frowned inside his helmet but laughed at his only plan to cheat death again. He then swept their legs and rolled for his shotgun, picking it up and preparing to fire on his enemy. Another Brute, leaping from the raised up areas to his right suddenly tackled him, knocking his shotgun away again then trying to beat him to a pulp when Ajax drew his combat knife and lodged in its neck, spraying him with its foul blood. He kicked off its body to see his enemy rise their sword, ready to strike. Ajax was left in no shape to fight, his green armour dinted, scorched, punctured and covered in his and his enemy’s blood. He looked to the Brute and whistled a simple little tune he learned as a child and had never forgotten, no Spartan had. His enemy swept the blade unremorsefully. A round object hit the floor, rolling slightly on its top.
The ODSTs looked on, slightly in horror and disbelief, SPARTANS can’t be killed. But it changed as the fog of war lifted, the smoke draping the hall from the explosions lifted. The ODSTs couldn’t think of what to make of it but the Brutes where shocked and showed their disdain of this action with great battle cries as they charged, maddened.
The Brute looked at the demon as Covenant text scrolled across its HUD. It had its anointed task, it would repent.
Destroy the demon, purify your soul
Destroy the demon, purify your soul
Destroy the demon, purify your soul
Destroy the demon, purify your soul
Destroy the demon, purify your soul
Become an Angel
The Brute beat him unmercylessly, kicking him left right and centre then his final hammering left the Demon near dead. He smiled maliciously and raised the sword. He observed two fingers sweep across his face plate then his HUD began to flicker, flash and alien text scrolled across.
Destroy the demon, purify your soul
Friends and family are forever
Friends and family are forever
Friends and family are forever
Friends and family are forever
Destroy the demon, purify your soul
Friends and family are forever
Destroy the demon, purify your soul
Friends and family are forever
Destroy the demon, purify your soul
I have choice
The Demon is awake, the Angel is gone
The controller has failed
The HUD finally flickered then returned to normal and only one sentence of alien text scrolled.
Spartans never die
The Brute looked to his Chieftain and smiled. A Brute? No, never. He swept the blade across his thick hairy neck and decapitated him, spouting forth a torrent of blood. The ODSTs, looked on shocked then the Brutes opened up fire in rage. The Strange Brute picked up Ajax and took him to cover, taking a number of spike bolts to his back. He seemed undeterred, even though it had pierced his armour.
“Wha the fook?” Zenna remarked, still somewhat shaken.
“He is wounded, we must get him away from here.” The Brute said, his voice deep and booming with an animalistic growl.
“No… I’m fine.” Ajax said, rising up and taking a MA5C “Time to evacuate…”
“But… what… what is going on?!”
“Lets just get out while we are still alive.”
Ajax stood up and unleashed a burst then moved up to the door. No locked door would stop him. He took his Plasma Sword from his back and then began to cut a rough circle into the door, burning through the metal with ease and leaving a burning tract of molten metal. He kicked it down, leaving a perfect sphere then leapt through and fired a few bursts as Brutes moved up outside. He reached to the door way and a flicked of fire seemed to leap into his hand. His head filled with a burning sensation.
“We need evac, screw the pad, blow a fucking hole in the wall.”
“Roger that, with pleasure.” Shaw said with barely contained glee.
He lead the ODSTs forward under a hail of fire but then a explosion in front of him sent him straight onto his ass and into the arms of the Brute.
“Wraith, coming in, get low, it’s firing again!”
They were in the open, with no cover. Ajax had to make some cover. He took the domed stand from his thigh and placed it down in front of him, making it project a shield of dim light and geodesic hexagons. The mortar impacted on it and exploded in a shower of brilliant blue light but Ajax remained, unharmed along with the Brute and a few of the ODSTs. He watched as it crept closer but a barrage of missiles struck it and destroyed it, blowing it to pieces in a shower of blue explosions. A Hornet passed over head, followed by Shaw and Regan in Pelican Alpha One Three.
“Touch down at the bridge looks good, get there double time!” Shaw said, bringing her down along with the others. That was about thirty meters away. The ODSTs sprinted but Ajax looked back. He would buy them enough time. The Brute charged with them also but turned back as he unleashed crazed sprays of fire on them before running. He could see on his HUD the target lines from Particle Rifles lining up on him. He was only ten meters away. Four shafts of purple light perforated his chest.
“NO!” The Brute roared
He was still mid run and seemed to stumble on his step. Everyone froze and just looked as he stumbled forward. Blood flowed freely from the four neat holes in his chest. He fell to his knees, gripping his chest then looked to the Brute and swept two fingers across his face plate then waved his hand in a little ‘good bye’ motion. He fell face first into the mud. In the distance the jackal sniper look out exploded as a Hornet struck it but it was too late now. The Brute leapt to him and skidded to a stop then flipped his body. He wrapped his arms underneath his chest and legs then picked him and carried him with ease to the waiting Pelican where the ODSTs waited, dumbstruck. He was rushed onboard and then laid down in the blood tray. A pool rapidly formed around him then swept to the rear bay doors as it Pelican took off. Regan moved through the cabin door and kneeled beside him as the Brute propped up his head and upper torso with his arms. Ajax fumbled to take off his helmet but Regan helped him, removing it and placing it in her lap. Blood frothed around his lips and he seemed to smile. He reached up to the Brute and touched his visor with his finger tips then his arm slipped away, leaving a bloodied smear on it. He fell limp and his hazel eyes went dead. The Brute seemed to breathe deeply for a second before releasing a blood curdling roar. Regan held her head in her hands, completely in shock. Zenna just looked down, unable to look at his broken body. The Brute seemed to caress his check slightly which prompted Regan to observe it. It had heavy armour on, hiding its features but it seemed to have the three fingers, though one seemed exceptionally thick and large feet with two toes. Also it seemed exceptionally young, being a similar size to Ajax. She looked to Ajax and remembered when he had been in this situation. She tapped her comms and then spoke clearly, despite how she felt.
“Drogen, we need a Cryo tube in a landing bay, SITREP, have it prepared for emergency freezing.”
“….on it now, go to landing bay seven.”
Shaw looked back then shook his head. This was all shocking. Everyone knows the phrase, Spartans never die. Then why did Ajax lay dead? No, now he had to get back to the Dark Star. He forced the engines to full speed, to the point of over heating. It was cheaper to replace a Pelican than it was to replace a Spartan. The Dark Star deactivated its Active Camo and he saw bay seven open up into a cavernous maw. He brought her in as quickly and as safely as he could, swinging her around and scraping the sides of the bay. Drogen and a few ship techs waited with a Cryo tube. He hit the large red switch to open the door then brought her down softly.
The Brute leapt from the back, carrying the limp form of Ajax and then gently placed him into the tube before stepping back as the door closed on him and they flooded it with cryogenic gases. He held his head in his hands, dismayed and then leant back on the Pelican. There was a suddenly click of guns being leveled at him and he looked up. The ODSTs, Zenna, the teary eyed Regan and the stone faced Drogen all leveled rifles or pistols at him.
“Who are you… what are you? Why the hell did you just help us?!”
“Who am I? I… I.. I.. My name…. my name is” The Brute said, stumbling over its words, making its animalistic voice sound like a scared animal.
YOU ARE THE ANGEL a soft but malice filled voice told him
YOU ARE THE DEMON a Brute growled
YOU ARE NOT COVENANT A feminine but forceful human voice told her
There was a hiss as the helmet was disconnected and then dropped to the floor.
“My name…” The feminine human voice said, now free of the helmet’s synthesizer “…is Elise Zero Seven Zero.” The feminine voice said calmly, now void of confusion. There was not the hairy and leathery head of a Brute but a human female with soft tanned skin and auburn hair in a mess. She pulled something from her neck, a sort of bug like machine with flaying wires then dropped it to the ground and stamped on it.
“…I wasn’t expecting that like!” Zenna remarked
Elise stared at the lifeless form of Ajax in the cryotube, not showing her real emotions. She was torn to pieces on the inside, confused, deeply depressed. Well, she was glad she had seen him, one last time. She leaned back in the seat of the Pelican and then looked to Regan, who wrote up the after action report on a data slate.
“So… he's been a little brat for you?”
“You know him, he’s just moody.”
Elise let out a short, stifled laugh. They had dropped out of slip space two hours ago but they didn’t tell her wear. She was enroute to a station in this sector, though that’s all she knew, she hadn’t seen it herself. She wanted to keep an eye on Ajax. She was to meet a certain Fleet Admiral Marcus Vance. She had heard his name before. The protégé of Admiral Preston Cole. He had been with him since harvest as his second in command but was unfortunately, or rather fortunately, to late for his last stand at Vespsi III. She crossed her legs and twiddled her thumbs.
“Okay ladies, we have arrived” Shaw said over the intercom but he didn’t lower the door “Its… good to see you alive Chief.”
Elise smiled weakly. The rear door opened and she stepped off then looked to face a number of naval officers in full dress uniform. She was in BDUs a few sizes too small and the wrong ‘shape’. She felt like a stripper. She nonetheless gave a firm salute back and the Fleet Admiral extended his hand.
“It’s a sad day when a Spartan goes missing in combat… but a joyous occasion when one returns.”
“It’s good to be back sir.”
“Don’t worry about your comrade, he is going to get the best medical treatment available.”
“Thank you sir.”
“It’s good to see you too Regan.” He said, shaking her hand “Likewise sir. Shall we bring 070 up to date?”
“Indeed, come with me.” He said, turning and leaving. Elise walked up, keeping stride with him easily though Regan hand to make a few quick steps.
He walked into a lift and as the others stepped in he pressed for it to go to the command deck.
“We are currently sat on Swan Hunter station in the Red-0112 sector.”
“I’ve… never heard of it. Few have. It was the third system discovered by the UNSC and totally devoid of habitable worlds. However, it was rich in titanium asteroids, prompting them to make a mining and shipyard network here. Its more or less one massive naval base and factory. It makes Reach and Mars look like iron smelting companies.”
She looked out the window and gaped. Dozens of ships, Marathon class cruisers, frigates, destroyers, even a super carrier, along with a few other ships from times past.
“Its here for then years we’ve been gathering. This is the naval version of Chi Ceti and its Damascus facility, we’ve been researching to make our own essential ‘MJOLNIR’ for space. And… we succeeded.”
“Yes, the first came online this morning without a hitch.”
“What? Sir?” Elise said, confused. The lift stopped and he stepped out onto a long walkway going along to the bridge.
“OFFICER ON DECK!”
The UNSC personnel there stood to attention and saluted and then Vance put them at ease. He moved forward with Regan and Elise following shortly behind and then she stopped dead. A shadow was cast over walkway and something blotted out the sun above. A Marathon passed under it but was dwarfed by this thing. Elise looked on as even a might super carrier looked unashamedly small.
Elise shook off her disbelief, only to be shaken again. The bulkhead at the end of the walk way opened up and the familiar shapes of three enemies strode in.
“Ah, meet our estee-“
“SIR GET DOWN!” Elise roared, shield Vance then drawing Regan’s side arm before she realized what was going on. The three Elites on deck looked genuinely shocked. Before she could fire Regan did a high kick to her hands, knocking the pistol away.
“Stand down Spartan!”
“Wha, what?” Elise said, still weary
“The Elites, they have joined with the UNSC in our struggled against the Covenant.”
“Spartan-070, this is Major Kasr ‘Revsaree, Major ‘Revsaree, Emissary of the Elite race, this is Spartan-070.”
“A pleasure to meet one of your fearsome kind on friendlier terms.” The Elite spoke softly in english.
Elise hesistated but then smiled and shook Kasr's hand strongly.
"Its good to not be standing alone any more."