(AUTHOR'S NOTES: Well, late again, and again and again. What the hell is wrong with me, always late in some way or another. Late in posting, late getting, late for this, late for that. I've had a bad day and am so glad I had pre written this one otherwise it'd just not be working for me right now with all the rage etc. Well, Tartarus what ever will happen next?)
Reach Time: 02:18
Date: January 13th 2552 (4 months and 4 days before Reach falls)
Location: UNSC/ ONI Research Facility Outpost 4-Delta 5-0.5-Charlies North Hanger
The captain was growing impatient, he still hadn’t told me the situation but he slide his hand up and down the top of his helmet briskly and frequently; I wasn’t sure of what to do and John and Rodriguez seemed content just to watch their captain at this all day. Me and the restless ODSTs weren’t, their eyes all staring at the four Spartans. The tension was so thick, I don’t even think a knife could’ve cut it…
“Look, are we just going to stand here all day?” yelled an ODST pushing his way to the front of the ten others and presenting himself “Or are we going to get something done?” There was a pause for a second until the ODST removed his helmet. Underneath was a beard and an aged man; scarred, like many soldiers, all about his face with burns and cuts and grazes but his gaze did not avert from the four giants infront of him, they just seemed to fuel the fire and drive within him. “You Spartans…tch… Aren’t you supposed to be the best there is and now all you can do is sit here and feel sorry for yourself?”
It wasn’t my place to say anything but turning to the black visor of the captain, I couldn’t tell if he was paying attention or not, or even whether he’d noticed the ODST at all. This outspoken soldier, whom like the others only came because they were told had started something major. The other ODSTs got a shade braver and now they all stood in a line facing us four Spartans. It wasn’t a fair fight, for them. “Look, calm down,” I said trying to defuse the situation raising my hands to make some sort of barrier between the two sides hopefully and get the camaraderie we’d just displayed. It worked to no avail and Cyph3r now had his head tilted looking towards the ODST; four words creeping from behind his black visor “And your name was?”
“Peterson, Sergeant Donald Peterson.” Replied the ODST arrogantly. The captain nodded, Rod turned away and John leaned against a wall. I didn’t know whether to band my head against the wall to be honest, no one seemed to listen to me now. It was just beyond annoying and as Peterson and the Captain met each other’s stare, the gravity of the situation intensified. “So you’re the great Donald Peterson? Three times Purple Heart winner, Accommodated for bravery on several occasions and also for your initiative? Hmmmmm, for some reason I expected a younger man.” Peterson’s eyes widened but the Captain continued “You’ve lead countless ODST squads, completed numerous missions, what for to impress us Spartans?”
“I don’t need to impress Spartans!” Spat Peterson viciously
“Oh lookie boys I hit a nerve.” Goaded the Captain speaking to the rest of us Spartan’s whom had only sat back and observed so far, it just wasn’t fair, as abnormal as the Captain was, his intellect was far beyond that of anyone I’d ever met. When he got serious you could almost feel his brain matter working. The ODST didn’t really stand a chance. “You gained you latest injury alongside Noble Team on a routine patrol, they drew their fire didn’t they, it was the Spartans they wanted. But don’t worry, I think Carter’s a dick too-”
“I don’t need your approval, us ODSTs need nothing from Spartans,” yelled Peterson, cutting off the Captain “We could wipe the floor with you, good old non GM human is as good as you!” The Captain laughed “Really?” I went to step forward but Rodriguez’s massive hand grasped and squeezed on my shoulder, a warning to stay away, I did as I was told. I was glad I did. “Ok, if your so good my friend…how about some friendly competition? Kill count.” John gave a snigger to himself and Rod again patted me on the head. Kill count, simple, the team who kills the most people wins and Tartarus was probably more then good at it if you could go only by their Captains performance; with Rod it just seemed rigged. I wasn’t to bad either of course, I just wasn’t one to blow my own trumpet.
Peterson, now smiling, rubbed his own hands together; the rest of the ODSTs began cheering behind him “Spartans vs. ODST?”
“Yes Peterson, that exactly.” Mocked the captain; “Us four vs. you ten? Fair enough for you sir?”
“I like them odds.” Said Peterson holding out his hand, Cyph3r quickly grabbing it. Deal done. There was no going back from then on with us four versus a squad much bigger then our own. Cyph3r almost too cocky. I looked up at Rod, whom actually hadn’t stopped patting my head and had given me a bit of a head ache. “Rules: Ok! Rule one, you have to find your own way out of here. Rule two, no friendly fire.”
The ODSTs seemed to agree to those terms because apart from that anything else went, kill stealing, Communication tapping and all on our allies. It almost made it hard to keep track which side you were on but the others didn’t look disheartened, so I didn’t either. Peterson looked towards his ODSTs and began to get them chanting “Thunder from above!” as they did, we however, were gone; straight into the fight: no plan and now no back up just the four of us versus about two-hundred to maybe two-thousand angry militants. I felt the rush of excitement and the others sprinting with me did too, The Captain at the head, Rod and John on the flanks and me on point. Tartarus was on the move.
“So, Bear, was it?” asked the Captain over the comm turning his head only slightly to give me a hint he was talking to me. “Yeah, that’s me sir.” I stammered trying hard to keep up, the team speeding through corridors and rooms. “Situation is kiddo, that we’ve been locked out the rest of the complex, they found out we were here aand we’ve been trying to find a way out, nothing yet though. Yet, they can send people to kill us. What the fuck is going on?” I could feel his frustration, he’d been held up for a week in that hanger, he wanted to get his mission done. He wanted that complex back in UNSC hands. “Got any ideas?” I looked around as he ran and pulled up the schematics on my HUD. I focused on the hanger and looked closely for some in particular; I squinted behind my visor struggling to find what I was looking for. “We need to get to the Hanger control tower!”
I skidded to a halt and watched the others speed off straight ahead. I didn’t know what to do, so I just waited a couple of seconds and as expected they returned looking at me rather baffled “Uh, yeah; it’s that way.” In unison they all began nodding their heads and realising why I’d stopped. A chorus of “Oh’s” rang out “Take the head, kid.” I did, straight away again we were blitzing through the corridors like a storm or lightning bolt. I’d never pushed myself to move so fast but I was and I could feel a slight throbbing within my legs and was only to glad to see the Tower elevator. We all skidded to a stop: Cyph3r stopping perfectly; John the same; but Rod sliding into the back of me and sending me flying across onto the elevator shaking the framing violently. “Oops.” Said Rod as he heard me moan “Next time, I’m…driving.” I felt like I’d just been run over by a Scorpion tank.
The team looked around clueless as I got up, Cyph3r staring at the large hypnotic call-button on the elevator control panel “So, going up?” he asked me as I clambered to my feet, brushing myself off and shaking off the impact. I looked at Rod, he looked down at me. We both just randomly burst out laughing, John just staring at all three of us each in some sort of strange endeavour. “Will you wankers focus?” John’s sombre tone broke the moment and all three of us snapped out of our “stupid” moments. “So what’s the plan, newbie?”
“Well, this elevator’s still working,” I explained “That means there are emergency service elevators somewhere most likely here and here.” The schematics of the building appeared on the inside of all their visors and two green areas were where the elevators were. We all nodded. There was one problem: “They’re operated from top side meaning, we’re going to have to get our friends to send it down to us…” There was an awkward pause, nothing.
“Alright then,” said Cyph3r “Let’s do it, don’t want Peterson and his ODSBitches getting ahead now do we, they won’t figure this out for a while, and so we have an advantage-“
“Oh do you?”
It was Peterson’s voice, I’d forgotten to isolate our signal but no matter he’d already heard and even though he didn’t know the location of the elevators, he soon would. So time was now our biggest enemy as well as rivalry. “Ok Tartarus, double time and Bear…”
“I’m almost impressed.”
I didn’t quite know whether to take this as a compliment but considering who it was saying it, I thought it best to. I nodded and followed the others towards the elevator with the continuous cheer of “ODST! Thunder from above!” ringing through our helmets. The rest of the team looks at me and I knew what to do quickly jabbing at my tact pad the rumble stopped and the ODST’s roar was gone. Peace and quiet at last or so I thought, I’d never expected what was coming next but it came and I didn’t even know what the hell to do in the situation that was unfolding in front of me…
We’d been approaching the elevator from the left for a while, but the corridor was narrow and not ideal, we’d managed to get through undetected by anyone. Cyph3r had commented how they must be “running out of bad-guys” to throw at us which got a laugh from Rod. Yet, we were the bad guys to them. I looked down. It was a shame, I hadn’t thought that I’d have to take many human lives as an active duty Spartan, reality soon washed away my naivety. I’d killed many people. It was then I heard it “BEAR DROP!” I didn’t think twice, I dropped straight onto my stomach as a whistling sound began and the loud roar of bullets came from the end of the corridor. They were headed straight for us and the gunner whom had obviously been waiting for us had soon realised we’d dropped to the floor and was moving the gun downwards. John gasped, holding his breathe. With his scope to his eye and his rifle plugged into the back of his helmet. It happened almost in an instant, blurring all into one event…
John squeezed the trigger, he hadn’t prepped like a normal sniper would need, and a roar as loud as that of thunder echoed in the corridor as the bullet flew from the barrel of his gun travelling down the corridor. The gunner too pre-occupied by his targets didn’t even see it coming, the large calibre bullet coming straight at him. Nothing, he didn’t even attempt to dodge, I just saw it bury its self right between his eyes and emerge from the back of his head redecorating the wall red with his blood, the body slump over the gun. “One.” Said Johnathon quietly as we all got up cautiously. However, the crack of the ballet and the spray of blood had awaited the others within the lift room waiting for us, so it wasn’t long before the dead soldier’s body was removed from the turret and the turret was re-manned and we were back to square one: stuck in a sardine can. I looked at John, still in awe of his skill and precision, the turret once again beginning to whistle, getting ready to fire again. It was a rash thing to do, but I threw down my over shield as the bullets flew again, buying us time as the bullets just bounced off the shield…
“Good shout Kiddo.” Said the captain, all four of us squeezed under the blue protective translucent canopy “What you got planned now though?” I sighed, I didn’t actually know. I was just hoping that I could pull it off; I looked at who I had with me. John couldn’t get a shot off fast enough and even if he did they’d just re-man the gun. I could see about ten to fifteen people in the elevator room and that was without the dead body. I wasn’t sure what to do at all and suddenly It began to feel hopeless, we’d be stuck here being pummelled with bullets and eventually the shield would give way and we’d be torn asunder. “I have an idea…” said Rod suddenly.
I looked towards Rodriguez, he nodded and it was then he explained his plan; I could only listen to every single detail in amazement. It seemed flawless, we just had to wait and listen to the whistle of turret as steam bellowed from both sides of the barrel. We had to just wait, keep waiting, for the gap, the sizzling sound of the gun beginning to overheat and the metal beginning to creak. I had to look at Rod who was looking at John. The gun over-heated. Our time was now “JOHN!” yelled Rod and the Sniper stood up and an almost identical image of himself separated from his body. It always freaked me out when someone used a hologram. The copy made the enemy panic, so I could only imagine his face when Rod threw me at the turret nest at the end of the corridor. I hurtled towards the gunner, through the hologram and landed on the turret its self…
I was crouched on the turret my visor only a couple of inches from the gunners face, he couldn’t do anything and I soon realised the darkening of his trousers as he emptied his bladder at an inappropriate time. I laughed, pulled my fist back and let it fly almost as fast and hard as I could; feeling air resistance build on my hand. It connected with the gunners jaw and my stomach knotted as his face literally bent around my fist, the impact so hard the blood vessels in his eyes burst making his eyes now just red bloody circles in his head. I removed my hand from the inside of the crushed skull of the poor gunner and instinctively without even realising said: “Two.” There was an awkward moment as nine other angry militants stared back at me and I was stuck on the turret.
I stared, waiting counting in my head the time to elapse before the second part of the plan started, I had to keep to the time. It was either life or death, the last play in the enemy half. So I did as I was told, the pissed off militants quickly turning their rifles about on me crouched on the turret. There was nothing until I felt a huge weight on my back. It was time to go. I bent down till my back served almost as tabletop, revealing Rod’s turret gun on my back now pointing towards the militants. I smiled as the awkward moment passed before Rod opened fire, spraying bullets all over the room and filling the air with a mist of red. Rod the stepped back as his work was done, the bulk of the enemies were dealt with leaving only two. I chuckled as Rod’s turret weight left my back, I felt slightly sick due to the kickback from it vibrating my whole body and the heat almost burning me in my armour. But I had to stay still the Captain now sprinting towards my flat back using Rod as a step to run over me into the room, machete in hand…
“My turn to say hello!” yelled the captain as he sliced at one of the survivors’ leg, dropping him to his knees and then with his shotgun removed his head clean from his shoulders. He cocked the Shotgun once again, turning it on the last survivor; they just dropped to their knees and began praying. Cyph3r scratched his helmet in confusion “What do I do now?” he asked looking towards Rod to provide him with an answer; “Uh, well how am I supposed to know?” replied Rod also scratching the top of his helmet. I watched the two exchange ideas and John walk towards the empty elevator shaft. “Well, I can’t kill a guy preying!”
“Well interrogate him them?” replied Rod to the Captain
“But he’s praying…?”
“Guys…” said Johnathon.
“Maybe I should cap him?”
“You just said you couldn’t because he was praying!”
“Guys?” said Johnathon again
“Well… y’know no one needs to know.”
“GUYS!” yelled Johnathon at the top of his voice, feeding back the microphone in his helmet due to his voice echoing. He pointed down to the empty shaft that housed no elevator platform to actually ascend on. The huge orange Spartan turned to me and the Captain pushed the hostage to the wall his gun still in the poor praying man’s face “This guys is seriously beginning to piss me off!”
I moved towards John; the elevator, designed for emergency services such as fire and rescue teams had to be sent from the top. He looked at me and then I looked towards the hostage. “Give me a second,” I said “I’ll hack it and impersonate him.” I was pointing at the praying man now, moving towards him. He was shaking and I felt kind of felt sorry for the poor bugger. I put my hand on the Captain’s gun, lowering it from the man’s face. “You got a name, mate?” I asked him. He looked up at me, he didn’t wet himself though, he could probably see I was trying to help him and stroking his grey tinted hair he only replied “Father Bryden.” I looked at the Captain, he nodded at me before he even knew what I was going to ask. “Then get out of here, there are ODSTs posted at the entrance, you’re a civilian hostage. Go.”
I didn’t need to say it twice, the vicar was gone. I looked back towards the squad finger to my lips (well to where my lips would be on the helmet) as my communicator connected to the team at the top of the elevator “This is Father Bryden requesting the elevator to be sent down, we need to fall back,” I said “ODSTs are pushing us back, reinforcements would just be a waste, we can hold them off and hold the elevator.” I clicked off, silence following. I looked towards the rest of my anxious team mates but didn’t let on myself that I felt exactly the same as they did. I couldn’t. Knowing the crazy stuff these guys could do; it wouldn’t have surprised me if they could smell fear too. I waited, kept waiting. There was still no reply. I shook my head as a click sounded in my ears.
“Bryden the lift’s coming down to you. God speed to you sir!” said a young voice into my helmet and with that the sounds of mechanical movement could be heard from above. The team began nodding and the Captain himself came up to me and clasped his hand on my shoulder “Good one, Bear.” I smiled behind my visor and the elevator docked; the team got on and Cyph3r stood with us in the line as it began moving. “Good job team,” he said looking either side of him to Rod on his left and me and John on his right “However, I do hope you’re keeping score, can’t let the ODSTs win, now.” With that I recollected the poor gunner, his skull folding around my fist. I almost vomited but kept it down as it was a bad idea while you were wearing a helmet. “One.” Was my reply
“One.” Said John
“Seven!” yelled Rod excited at his own prowess pounding on his chest, his gun hanging loosely in his other arm. “One.” Said Cyph3r patting John’s arm “A ten total, not bad for the four of us-“
“Captain Cyph3r? Are you there, do you copy?” came a signal inside all of our helmets
“Yes Donald, Cyph3r’s not here right now, leave a message?”
“This is no time to be funny shit for brains; we’re pinned down on our way to our elevator, we need aid!” Peterson groaned as we could here bullet fire close by, similar to that of the turret we just took out on the way to our elevator but Cyph3r only replied in a sickeningly sweet tone of voice, seeming to take pleasure in the ODSTs misfortune “You heard the rules Donald, you have to make your own way up and we’re on our lift so, unfortunately, for you, you’re in the shit. Don’t keep us waiting Don.”
I looked up the elevator shaft, then towards the team “Be ready for it lads, lock and load, weapons free.” There was the unified sound of clicking as we checked all our weapons…