An explosion goes off in the distance. It looks so small from here... probably some poor marine fighting for his life... Romeo sits on the edge of the helipad beside me.
'I swear to god Romeo, if you push me I will be reborn as a hunter, track you down, stick my plasma beam up your ass and blow you up from the inside.' I tell him as I look down at the city hundreds of metres below me.
'I'll keep that in mind.' He says.
'Shhhh! Quiet!' Buck says quickly as he holds one hand up to his helmet. 'I read you Dutch, what is your position? Yes, on the helipad, 112thfloor, can you arrange a pick up? Shit... ok, we'll be on floor 109, meet us there, out.' Buck takes his hand away. 'Buck and mickey have managed to commandeer a pelican, but they can't meet us at this level. The covenant have AA guns from floor 110, so the best we can do is 109.' Buck looks around for a second. 'Hey Romeo, you remember all those covenant we sidestepped on the way up?'
'Now we get to kill them.' As I stand I feel my legs ache. 112 floors is a hell of a long way to climb up stairs.
We burst out the door with guns blazing. Romeo snipes a grunt of a turret before he can do much damage, while buck and I get in cover behind some crates. I step out from cover and am about to fire, but I stop myself. The jackal has a shield. I roll out of cover and rush at him. A couple of shots from some grunts hit me but don't do considerable damage to my shields. I use the butt of my gun and beat the shield out of the way and smack the jackal across the head. I rush at one grunt while shooting at another. I kick the first grunt hard and he flies through the air over the edge of the building. I turn around and finish off the second grunt. Buck is shooting at a brute at the top of a set off stairs. Romeo aims and takes it out with his sniper. I run up another set of stairs to flank the remaining brutes. They are standing in a line and shooting at buck. I run past the first and attach a plasma grenade to its back, I take my knife in my free hand and slice it across the second ones throat and just as I am about to get the third, it's head explodes. Blood splatters everywhere. The first scrabbles at its back to no avail, and the plasma grenade explodes. I lick the blood from my lips and look down at Romeo, who lowers his sniper.
'Nice shot.' I say.
'Come on guys.' Buck says. 'Mickey says the have a bridge we can use to get to them.'
Buck and I rush down the stairs as we fire. Romeo takes one out with a headshot. Buck runs at one and takes it out with a rifle butt. I run at another to do the same. I duck its attack and sweep its legs out from underneath with a low kick, and I stab my knife into its neck as it falls backwards. Buck and I run through the sliding doors and leap out of the way as a fuel rod flies past and explodes against the roof, knocking Romeo off his feet. Buck tosses a grenade into the midst of them. The brute, without thinking, jumps to the side away from the grenade and falls off the helipad. I kill a grunt with my assault rifle and buck kills the other.
'That's the bridge!?' Romeo gazes at the giant metal beam hanging from a crane above us. At the other end of the beam is another helipad, where a marine is firing a rocket pod at some banshees.
'Go Romeo!' Buck yells as he jumps on the end of the beam and starts running. Romeo jumps up on the beam and I run after him. It's a little weird. Being able to see the ground on either side of you, hundreds of metres down on either side of a metal beam 1 metre across.
'Look out! Banshees!' The three of us break into a sprint. My assault rifle bounces against my back as I run. A banshee flies underneath the beam and it begins rocking back and forward withg a sickening creak. I leap forward as a banshee flies across the beam trying g to knock me off. The other two continue running as I get to my feet. The banshee turns and comes back towards me. It fires at me as I run across the beam and flies at me again. I take a plasma grenade and ready myself. I jump as the banshee approaches. I attach the grenade to the top of the craft as I stunt-roll across the top of it and land back on the beam with a flourish and the banshee explodes behind me. Another banshee is on my right, but not heading towards me. It fires its cannons at something. I turn around to see its target, and sprint for the end of the beam. I trip as the beam swings up at the end I am approaching, I hear the wires holding the beam up behind me snap. I run as the beam begins dropping and jump for it. I hit the wall hard and scramble for something to hold onto as I fall. My fingers catch on to something. I hear fighting going on above me. I breathe deeply and pull myself up. I roll over the edge of the building and jump to my feet. I run at a brute from behind, turn around and grab him and flip him over my shoulders. He lands hard and rolls over the edge of the building. I charge up the ramp to the helipad, stabbing a grunt in the face as I pass him on the way up. Romeo and buck are shooting at enemy infantry coming from phantoms and the ramp while mickey is repairing the pelican. Dutch fires his Spartan laser into a group of banshees in the distance. I duck out of the way as a couple of purple blasts from the phantom land behind me.
The battle rages on for some time. Dutch has managed to destroy the last banshee, I stab the last grunt and the last brute falls backwards off the helipad, without a head. We all look around for a sign of hostiles.
'That's it.' I say.
'Well that's good. The pelican is repaired. Done as best I can, I just hope it stays together.' Mickey says as he enters the pelican.
'Phantom! Look out!' An ominous phantom swings around the corner suddenly. It hovers over the helipad and a single black figure drops out.
'Oh crap!' Mickey jumps back out as the brute swings his hammer. The gravity blast from the hammer knocks Romeo and buck to the ground. The brute swings the blade towards Romeo. In a desperate attempt, Romeo throws up his sniper in front of him in defence. The hammer buckles the sniper as the spike stabs into Romeo who yells out hoarsely in pain. The brute tosses the sniper off the roof and roars. I run at him from the side. He swings a massive arm towards me as I stab out with my knife. I feel the bulk knock me back as his arm hits me and I fall to the ground. The knife flies from my hand. It skids towards the edge of the building, spinning around... and drops. I panic. What can I do? My assault rifle won't do a thing. I look around my armour suit for something of use. Dutch shoulder barges the brute, but it regains its balance and hits him away with the bottom of its hammer. Then I notice something interesting. A belt. I am wearing a belt. I had found it with my possessions on the ship and I had put it on with my armour. I quickly fumble with the various pockets. There probably isn't much of use. There isn't much that could fit in a pocket so small. A frag maybe, even a plasma grenade, hell, even maybe a-
My heart skips a beat as my hand closes around a cold metal object. The sheer impossibility of what I had found stunned me. I draw out the small object and hold it in front of me in shock. Mickey tackles the thing to the ground. I gingerly press the small switch. It is amazing, it feels... good, like it's an extension of my arm, like something living, it buzzes with energy. I gaze at the crystalline blade for a second before I remember what is happening. The brute throws mickey off and stands back up. I rush at the brute without a second thought, I feel like I am gliding from foot to foot, sliding across the ground. I move side-to-side quickly as I approach, moving like a shadow. The brute follows me with his eyes. I raise my sword high above me, and stop before I reach him. The brute has his eyes fixated on my sword. Mickey jumps on the brute from behind and stabs it in the face. The brute throws him off and stumbles about clutching at his face with one hand. Dutch tackles it to the floor as buck jumps on it, repeatedly stabbing it with his knife.
'Buck!' I call. I switch off the blade and toss it to buck. He catches it. He turns it on, and stabs it right through the brutes armour into its body. Dutch stands up and attends to Romeo while mickey and buck observe the brute.
'Thanks for that.' Buck tosses my energy sword back to me. Everybody turns towards Romeo as he bursts into a fit of coughing.
'Aww shit... my lungs...' He breathes huskily.
'Quiet Romeo, don't say anything.' Buck takes a canister from him belt and places the nozzle in the wound. The canister makes a hissing sound as bio-foam fills the wound. Buck holds Romeo by the shoulder as Romeo stands.
'It's ok... I'm alright...' Romeo says as he holds up a hand. Buck lets go as Romeo gains his balance.
'Any news yet on the rookie or dare?' Mickey asks. Buck sighs.
'Negative. We found evidence of Dare, but nothing about the rookie.'
'Damn... poor kid... well what are we doing now then?'
'I hate to say this, but we have to get out of this place. This mission is a failure and we can't stay here.' I sense a bit of hurt in his eyes. I shake my head.
'I haven't come all this way to leave people behind.' I say. Buck looks at me sadly.
'Hey, I know you have feelings for victoria, I can tell, but so do I and I know that we have to go. We can't stay here. We'll get killed.' I place both feet firmly on the ground.
'I'm not going to leave.' I say as the others jump in the pelican. I pick up the gravity hammer from the dead brute and head back towards the building. 'I've been in worse situations than this.'
'And you got killed.' Romeo added. 'You stay here, you're going to die.' I grunt.
'Well in that case, I'll see you in hell.'
The sun has set by the time I reach the bottom of the tower. The streets are quiet. And dark. There is no sound about me but the beating of my own heart. I hold the gravity hammer across my lap. What am I going to do now? I have to find victoria, and the rookie, but where? God, if you are out there somewhere, please give me something. A single shot ring overhead and hits the building behind me, shattering a pane of glass in a shower of glittering fragments. I jump to my feet and raise the hammer, searching for where the shot came from. It steps out from around the corner and walks towards me slowly; his gun hangs at his side. He raises one hand in greeting as he approaches.
'You...' I mutter, unable to believe this stroke of luck. 'You're the rookie...' he nods as he approaches me. He walks right past me. I turn around to see where he is going. He stands behind me and looks up. I follow his gaze up to the power lines. A buckled thing is hanging from the wire. He grabs a stick from the ground and knocks it down. He picks it up and shows it to me.
'Romeo...' I say quietly as I look at the twisted weapon. The rookie tries in vain to unbend it, and tosses it aside. 'The others have left. I stayed, to look for you. To look for victoria.' The rookie looks down at his feet for a second with a murmur, then back up at me. I sigh. 'I don't suppose you know where she is, do you?' I stare at the rookie in surprise. 'You know where she is?' He nods again. He turns around and starts walking; I follow behind the silent marine.
The rookie pushes himself up against the wall. He quickly peeps around the corner. He steps out and fires twice with his pistol, then motions for me to follow. I follow around the corner and see two dead grunts lying on the ground. The tunnel carries on further and around a corner. The area ahead of us is empty of hostiles. We run downhill along the tunnel. The rookie peeks around the corner again and quickly pulls back. He holds up two fingers and points around the corner, then makes a shushing motion. I draw my knife and nod my head in understanding. He holds up three fingers, then two, one...
We run around the corner towards the two oblivious brutes. One hears us and turns around. I slap my hand across his mouth and stab my knife into his stomach repeatedly. He makes a few stifled mmmpff sounds, and then drops dead. We run to the end of this tunnel. I wait at the corner this time. I peek around the corner again, and jump back as a grunt opens fire with a needler. I look to my right. The rookie is gone. I grit my teeth and blind fire my assault rifle around the corner. A few spikes and plasma rounds fly past. Brutes.
'Where are you?' I shout out over my shoulder. The rookie emerges, carrying a large weapon. He approaches the corner and swings around it, scorching the covenant soldiers with a searing cone of flames. I can see the flames dancing in the reflection of his visor. 'Nice toy.' I say. He continues walking around the corner. A brute jumps out from around another corner and is fried instantly by the flamethrower. I run ahead of the rookie. A brute jumps around from the corner in front of me. I swing the butt of my rifle up and catch it in the chin, then switch it around and fire a couple of rounds through his chin into his head. I turn around to see what is taking the rookie so long. He enters through a door behind be. I check for hostiles and run back to follow him.
I enter a small hallway with a metal door at the end. The rookie bends down and picks up a small flashing device, then looks at the door, then back at me. I approach the door ahead of him, and without thinking, knock on it. The door swings open immediately. I freeze as I find myself looking down a gun barrel. Never have I been so happy to have a gun pointed in my face.
'Ajay?' Victoria lowers her gun.
'In the flesh.' I say with a warm smile.
'How did you find me here? Where is everybody else?'
'The rookie picked up your beacon you dropped.' I say as I jerk my thumb over my shoulder. 'The others have decided upon a tactical retreat.'
'So the left?' Victoria asks, her tone shows her heart sinking suddenly. I nod.
'It's just us now.' Victoria nods slightly. She looks up, and switches her gaze from me to the rookie.
'Well we have to go on,' I look at her strangely.
'What? Go on where? We have to get out of here.'
'You forgot about our mission.'
'Our mission? Our mission failed hours ago didn't it.' Victoria shakes her head.
'We need to get to the superintendent. He could shed some light on this situation.' I sigh and raise my weapon.
'All right then, let's go.'
The door slides open as we approach.
'This is the hive.' Victoria whispers.
'Crap, that means buggers.' She nods.
'Keep a look out.' We continue forth. The area in made up of various interconnecting metal walkways around weird structures. Some of the points where they meet have ladders going down. We quietly creep along the walkway, it creaks slightly.
'Left here.' Victoria whispers back to me. I follow her around the corner and stop as I see her frozen. There is a little figure in front of us, it is crouched over something, looking away from us. Victoria takes out her knife and quietly sneaks up behind it for a silent kill. I watch in anticipation as she approaches slowly, with every step I think it will turn around and see us.
It does. The thing flies up into the air and emits an ear-splitting screech, which is especially damaging to my ears. Within seconds a swarm of buggers flies out of the darkness straight towards us, guns blazing. I jump to the floor as we are caught in the crossfire as they fly about shooting. I blindly fire at them, but it does little. A group of the buggers bursts into flames as the rookie fires. They collide into others in their confusion and set them alight, and drop dead to the ground. I fire blindly into the air above me as the cone of fire swings above me, frying the little bastards in a few seconds. The cone of fire eventually dies out. I get back up on my feet and compose myself.
'Nice job there.' Victoria says with a smirk. I grunt dismissively.
'Whatever. I didn't have my shotgun anyway; if I did I could have handled it.'
'If you say so, big bad Spartan.'
'You better believe it baby.' I say with an outrageous wink. Victoria disregards me and hurries on ahead, I follow behind as the rookie jogs behind while lugging about the heavy flamethrower. Victoria types something into a keypad beside a large pair of double doors. I hear a couple of grunts from beyond the door as it begins to open.
A brute emerges in the gap between the doors and begins firing with his spiker. A couple of rounds hit me but are deflected by my shields. Another brute emerges as the door opens further. I take the pin from a frag and run towards the one on the right. I toss the grenade between its legs and continue towards him. I jump towards him and spin myself 180 degrees and kick out with my right foot. The brute is propelled backwards into the explosion of the frag grenade. The other brute stumbles about as he burns. Victoria takes her pistol and fires it into its face at point blank range.
'Come on, let's get in and out as fast as we can.' Victoria leads us around the corner and I hear shouting..
'Stupid door! Open up now!' There is a familiar sound of a gravity discharge. I stop the rookie and take the gravity hammer from my back and hold it out to him.
'Trust me, you don't want to be lugging around that heavy thing with a brute chieftain charging at you.' He nods and puts down the flamethrower and takes the hammer. The three of us take a look around the corner of the box we are hiding behind. Three of them. One chieftain. Two regulars.
'We need to get rid of the regulars first.' I tell the other two. 'Take them out before they know we're here and that'll make taking out the chieftain easier.' I hold up my last frag grenade to show the others. 'One second cook off on me, then throw.' The others take out their frags. 'Three, two, one...' We pull out our pins. We quickly exchange rapid glances for a second, then throw. I step out from the pillar with my energy sword as I hear the grenades go off. The chieftain wastes no time and turns around to charge at us. I dive out of the way.as he leaps towards me. The gravity discharge knocks me a few feet away. The others step back as he swings his hammer in an arc around him. The rookie lands a solid blow with his hammer when the brute is off balance, but the brute still has his overshield active. Victoria backs up as she fires with her pistol. I run at the brute from behind as he raises the hammer back over his head. I grab the hammer's handle in one hand and a plasma grenade in the other. I stick the plasma grenade to the handle, and then pull the hammer down quickly. The other side of the plasma grenade sticks to the brutes back, effectively sticking the hammer to its back. The brute pulls as hard as he can, but the grenade lets out a high pitch whine and explodes in a blue flash. The brute is knocked back by a solid blow from the rookie. As it gets up I charge towards it. I jump at it feet first and lash out with both legs in a kamikaze-jumping kick. Both of my feet hit it hard in the stomach, sending it stumbling backwards towards the edge of the vast chasm around us. It waves its arms desperately as it nears the edge, and manages to regain it's balance. I act quickly. I pull my knife from its sheath and twirl it in my fingers to get to feel the weight of it. I grab it by the blade and take aim.
'Please let this work.' I whisper to myself. I draw the knife back, and toss it. I see the knife twirling through the air. It seems to be moving so slowly. As if it were some perfect, incredible dream come true, the knife blade manages to somehow hit the brute in the face. The brute clutches at its face and falls backwards into the chasm. It's angry and frenzied cry echoes in the shaft around us, and eventually dies out. I hear somebody say something behind me. I turn and look at the source of the sound.
'Did you say something?' I ask the rookie with a puzzled expression. He shakes his head. Victoria looks at him with a slight smile.
'Come on, in here.' Victoria heads over to the doors beside the dead brutes. She types a number combination into the keypad. 'Follow my lead, and don't shoot anything.' The door hisses as it begins to open. The room inside is dark. There is a large computer screen on the opposite wall from me. Surrounded my lots more computer screens on the other walls. Victoria walks in first and looks around the room for something. The rookie and I follow. There is a sharp sound in one corner. I instantly swivel towards the source of the noise with my gun raised. Victoria make a motion with her hand and I lower my gun.
'It's ok, you can come out.' Victoria says softly. There is a small flicker of movement, then the thing slowly floats out from behind a computer screen.
'One of these?' I ask her, pointing at the floating blue thing in front of me.
'It's merged itself with the superintendent. It could know something about what the covenant are after.' I make an annoyed grunt.
'Can't we quit the shit with the "knowledge is power" thing? I honestly don't need to know what religious artefact those bastards are after. I would rather find some super-ultimate laser cannon that can destroy the covenant super carrier in one shot.' Victoria looks at me with a sceptical gaze.
'You know about their artefacts?' She asks quizzically. I shrug.
'Hell, do i. why the fuck do you think they attacked reach? I carried the god-damn thing to the pillar of autumn myself, and died for it.' Victoria gives me a concerned look. 'I'm sorry, it's just, all those people, those marines, died for this?' I point at the engineer Victoria sighs.
'War is a bitch.' I suddenly turn quiet. Emile. 'Come on Ajay, let's get out of here.'