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Monday, 7 February 2011

HALO: PRISONERS OF REACH - Joint Operation SHEPARD IN BELLY OF THE BEAST IS A FOX


(AUTHOR'S NOTES: I write so much nowadays and it still isn't a chore. I'm liking it. JAG is starting to roll like a metaphorical snow ball only a couple more days to global domination! OOOOOOH YEAH!)

Reach Time: 07:34 am
Date: January 21st 2552 (7 months and 10 days till Reach falls)
Location: Laying Siege to Covenant Research Facility in Espoz Desert

 The Mongoose's engine rattled and whirred as I tried to get as much as I could out of it. The convoy of quad bikes was kicking up a storm of dust and sand behind us, not even looking back. Tanja gripped me tight as the road bumped and the bike slid out from beneath us. "Hold on to something." I called back to Tanja.
"I am!" she cried "You."
"Ok, then grip tighter!"
I felt her press against me and suddenly the bike left the ground no longer whipping up a storm behind us. Now I just had to wait for the safe "clunk" of metal on the hard stone desert floor. Our objective (displayed on my HUD) wasn't far. We just had to push it; keep going and not look back. Nothing would've made me look back either except for the sound of skidding tires and a loud shout down the communicator...

"WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TWO DOING!?"
The voice was Carter's and the shock of it's sudden outburst made me lose control of the bike. It was sudden. I felt the throttle slip from my hands; the whole handle bar in fact left my grip and I just turned and held Tanja for dear life. It was a small sensation of weightlessness that gripped me next and then gravity brought me back down to the hard floor. Tanja shook me violently urging me to get up but as I lay down on the floor; I doubted reality for a second. What I saw, was unreal but totally Tartarus in every way...

 The sun was blocked by a flying man mountain; I blinked as I realised the jump jet on his back had activated and that in fact considering they were only just able to to pick up Spartans I couldn't believe my eyes. Rodriguez was not alone. In his arms was a dangling and shouting and flailing wildly Cyph3r who had replied to Carter: "I don't know yet, come back to me in a second." He looked down at me on the floor "Get the hell up Bear! Or I'll come-! BLOODY HELL ROD LOOK WHAT YOU ARE BLOODY-!"
"Sorry boss." groaned Rod trying to take the weight "You're bloody heavy!"

 The duo stumbled across the sky attraction almost every piece of attention available. Once I was up I continued to marvel at the two; still debating whether or not I'd been shell shocked. Cyph3r pumped his shotgun. "Right! chocks away old boy!" he yelled to Rod "Let's get this party going, ORSO YOU TIT! MOVE!" I didn't need to be told twice, me and Tanja sprinted towards our toppled Mongoose. I looked back as we tipped it back onto its wheels and saw the daring move that Cyph3r and Rod were attempting. You could hear the slapstick comedy routine as they went along. "Okay, chocks away Rod?"
"What?"
"Let me go."
"Are you kidding me?"
"No, no I'm not."
"Holy shit, Cy."
Rod let Cy from his grasp "YAHOOOO!" I hadn't seen anything like it, Cyph3r fell through the air gracefully pumping his shotgun as he flew. Like a wrecking ball he landed; blood soon following. I swear I heard and felt the ground shake under him. He'd came and gone as I pulled back the throttle and made my way towards the objective Tanja still looking back towards Cyph3r and the carnage. I couldn't be distracted, I had a job to do.

 Tanja pointed me towards the ventilation entrance. We skidded to a halt, Kat and Emile already there with Kat on one knee trying to open the hatch that separated us from the inside of the large cylindrical chasm. I watched as she helplessly yanked and grabbed at wires in the terminal with Emile watching; Tanja looked at her tact pad and sighed "We're behind hurry it up NOBLE 2."
"How about your boyfriend gives it a go then," came a hostile reply "He know's everything!" The two looked back at me, wanting. I didn't respond. The hadn't asked me anything, I instead just looked around aimlessly. "Well?" they said in unison...

 I tapped away at my tact pad exerting little to no effort at all and Kat watched as the hatch opened with a snap. I began to descend as the others just seemed to stare at me. "Well, you coming? I asked. The three snapped out of their awed state and began to follow me down. The service ladder had no security and the giant fan blades were a safe distance away, it relied on nothing but getting the hatch open. A quiet approach. Hopefully.

 Although I was quite enjoying the view of Tanja's rear from below; I felt my feet hit the ground and groaned. Tanja followed by the NOBLEs touched down just behind. "Right, 1 click North is the science labs where all the of the hostages are, stay frosty and be quick. 3...2...1...GO!" With that our leader was gone and the two NOBLEs disappeared after her, I was left alone. I looked around. I felt uneasy, it had all been to easy so far, Renuku was clever and Mallik was too to leave such a vital point unguarded was a huge flaw; maybe this was a trap. The enemy almost seemed to be showing off and the noise from the surface had totally died. "Orso, you coming?" asked Emile viciously. "Guys... I'm not sure about this..." I retorted, I couldn't match his tone for aggression but if it was a competition as who was the more blunt; I think I would've won. "Don't be silly, we have our orders!" yelled Kat, still angry at my display up top.

 So I ran towards the yellow dots on my motion sensor. There was still a feeling in my stomach. One that unsettled me to the very core, I was thinking of all the tactical training I'd been given; that was basic. The underground labyrinthine I was traversing was extraordinarily quiet; almost mistakable for a grave. The whole complex was a catacomb of tunnels and my motion sensors didn't define walls and it was soon apparent I was actually lost. "Guys...?" I asked the darkness. I only got a reply from static. It was soon apparent to me that the darkness was growing thicker and that the lights were actually dimming as if by themselves. I gulped switching to night vision. I could hear noises in the distance, tapping on my tactpad I moved silently forward. The noises continued; rattles, clanks, thumps all creating a huge tuneless symphony throught the metal tunnel.

 My tactpad gave me no answers, the computer system had been locked down since the siege began, a standard UNSC procedure. One I was able to hack given time but I didn't have time. Whatever was up ahead was getting closer and I needed all my attention on that at the moment. It was clumsy, almost panicked and around the next corner. I hadn't looked at my motion sensor. I could hear whatever it was. I didn't need a sensor. I shook with fear, I had a total of 3 seconds to identify and make a choice. It could be anyone; soldier, hostage, SPARTAN or anyone for that matter. I had to be quick, I just pressed myself on the wall and waited. I was trying to steady my breathing. Whatever it was was big and I had to be ready...


 It was close, just around the corner now. I took in one last breathe; tightened my grip on he gun and swung round the corner like lightning pointing the barrel at the mass in front of me. I reminded myself of the proper procedure; first, it was the challenge "En garde!" when my eyes adjusted with the night vision's help I quickly stopped the process. In front of me was Tanja, disgruntled and angry as she had grabbed the gun now pointed at her; "Put it down, or I'll shove it up your ass." I did as I was told instantly and she growled. She was angry and there was no sign of the NOBLEs anywhere. "They just left me." she growled "What the hell is going on!?" My motion tracker had their position, they were moving away from the objective and I wasn't sure as to what to do. I looked around at the still growling team leader "Let's proceed with our job and then worry about them..."


 Tanja, looked up at me and nodded leading the way which wasn't actually that far now to another ladder which had a small circular hatch "I thought this was like, all underground?" asked Tanja looking up "The hostages are supposed to be on the first basement level; the research labs." I looked at the buildings schematics and smiled to myself "We're in the maintenance tunnels T," I chuckled "We're like in between levels." She went up again first giving me enough look at her ass as she went. She opened the hatch, realised what I was doing then kicked me square in the face. I almost fell from the ladder but managed to pull myself out from the hatch. The corridor was half lit, making us seem like flickering spectres with our strange coloured armour "Through that door..." whispered Tanja...


 The door was eerily lit, bloodied fingers had scraped it's surface. Resistors, civilians. Whoever they were weren't very lucky, if we wanted to get anywhere me and Tanja would have to be. I opened the door with my tactpad looking for the NOBLEs; they were still nowhere to be seen. As I tapped away furiously the door clicked open suddenly and let us into the lab. I still wasn't sure about the fact there were no guards, even if that was what the siege tactic was used for I still couldn't believe that our whole journey had been uninterrupted. I felt strangely at odds with myself; I felt confident yet my stomach felt like a huge weight was settled in the bottom of it.


 There was a groan from inside the lab...


 We entered silently staring at the rows upon rows of people tied together. They all looked pale, malnourished and covered in their own faeces. You could see the shame on their poor faces and Tanja heave as she advanced more and more into the lab. The groans became louder and louder, Tanja ducking behind terminals with me and we listened in.


"If that's you Chetan..." the voice moaned, a hint of optimism in his voice "At least I'll get some sleep as you gloat." It was obvious the figure was no enemy of ours. I emerged from the terminal; spotting the red Spartan pinned to the wall with what looked like two huge iron spikes in either hand. A strange crucifixion re-enactment. The Spartan looked at me rather confused "And you are?"
"Orso." I replied. Tanja emerged too and screamed "Turner?" she asked the figure "Is that you?" The black haired man's chubby face looked towards her and he smiled "Oh, Tanja!" he cried "Now if you don't mind let me down from here so I can-OUCH!" it was obvious what he was going to say and she kicked him in the crotch for good measure before removing the spikes.


"Orso meet your team mate, Spartan FOX Casey Turner." said Tanja handing him my DMR and his helmet "C'mon Case, you have a job to do." The Spartan rubbed his hands as the holes left from the spikes had already began to disappear; he looked at me and I looked at him "Team mate?" we both asked...

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