1682: Love of a Spartan – Chapter Twenty-FourPosted: February 9, 2017
Hello hello, all you patrons, and welcome back to Love of a Spartan. Only one chapter today, but there’s a lot of stupid crammed into it and so a detailed analysis is definitely warranted.
“Last section, Dr Halsey introduced the assembled SPARTAN-IIs to a very clever and/or completely unfeasible mission to sabotage Covenant mining operations on recently-glassed human colonies and/or have a few dedicated special forces soldiers kill every last alien. During an insanely-designed live-fire, live-target training run for said mission, Edward-117 managed to blunder into a minefield due to his own stupid daydreaming and got himself pretty seriously injured, only- of course– to refuse proper treatment and attempt to tough it out by bringing heavy painkillers with him into battle. Fortunately, this latest stunt was all it took to get the rest of the Spartans to realize what their comrade had become, and he is now officially recognized as the team being sent to Capricornia’s weakest link.
Oh, and there was moping. Lots and lots of moping.”
Terrible Troy Counter: 106
Mommy’s Little Marines (And Spartans) Counter: 108
Fucking Halight Counter: 52
“We resume with Chapter 24/Twenty-three, which is called ‘Mission NOVA’- Spirits, I wonder what this is going to involve?”
[March 20th, 2535 – Psai Caprcorni System – Capricornia]
Even with the romance plot temporarily defused, we’re still moving through the story at a vastly-accelerated rate. Slipspace travel from the Covenant front in the Outer Colonies to Reach in the Inner Colonies is only taking a couple of days, as opposed to the weeks or months it does in canon.
Also, that should really be “Psi” Capricorni, but I’m not sure if it was an existing typo or if the archive was what messed it up- after all, before I go through and fix them the location stamps typically look like this:
** [March 20****th****, 2535 ****a€”**** Psai Caprcorni System –
It had been fairly difficult getting into Capricornia’s atmosphere, for just as Dr. Halsey had told them, this planet was now swarming with Covenant. The majority of the Covenant ships had entered the atmosphere
We saw this way back in the prologue, and here it is again- the story seems to treat ships entering a planet’s atmosphere like crossing some kind of big important tactical line, and I have no idea why. They could still fire their weapons back out to things in space, and while maneuvering and sensor visibility will certainly be affected by that low altitude the same effects occur out beyond the exosphere to a relatively wide distance. 1200 km away from the surface of an Earthlike planet (twice the thickness of Earth’s atmosphere at 600 km), acceleration due to the planet’s gravity is still more than two thirds of what it was on the ground:
and it had been a stealthy landing in a small area of remaining forest- although it was unhealthy and the majority of the plants and trees were yellowing and on the brink of death, and with good reason.
From space, it was hard to believe Capricornia had once been a flourishing colony of the UNSC. Now, its surface was blackened, all that remained that marked the had-been existence of humans were large areas of oddly shaped pieces of steel and metal- remnants of cities that had been melted and then hardened into awkward shapes.
You know, I was going to make another “just like the prose” crack here, but this is actually a pretty good description of the effects of glassing on an environment.
The vast oceans were now gone, having boiled away into tiny lakes dotted across the barren land. Where they had been were now large valleys, which sloped down hundreds of feet to what had been theocean floor, which was littered with rotten corpses of fish and other marine life that had been literally boiled to death in their own habitats.
“So apparently Covenant plasma weapons are precise enough to boil away nearly all the water in the oceans, but not incinerate all of the creatures living in that water.
It was a tragic scene, and when John first saw it from the Pelican’s cockpit, he found himself deeply saddened.
“Wait, they came here in a Pelican? Those are pretty strictly short-range dropships, and while they can be modified to include a Slipspace drive it dominates most of what used to be the troop bay. In fact, since both Slipspace-capable Pelicans are seen post-Halo 3, the technology to do that probably doesn’t even exist yet.”
Not two weeks ago, he had been on the same planet, although it had then inhabited life.
You know, typically life inhabits planets, not the other way around.
*quietly sets the “[X] Days Without A Visit From The SCP Foundation” sign to -3*
He never had returned to a planet that suffered glassing before- never thought he would- but it wasn’t anything pleasant. His fellow Spartans shared similar opinions.
Well it was for the best now, anyway, for on board the Pelican they carried a NOVA bomb- a new prototype- which took up nearly the entire passenger’s compartment.
“You know, I’m not sure the UNSC should have NOVA bombs at this point- they’re described as prototypes shortly after the Fall of Reach, nearly twenty years from ‘now’.”
Actually, if they had a NOVA bomb onboard, how did they get into the system undetected? Fissile material exiting Slipspace produces a telltale flash of Cherenkov radiation that the Covenant could pick up. Now, there are ways around that- maybe they found a blind spot in the enemy sensor coverage, or maybe the UNSC has figured out a way to produce warheads without the fission primer that all terrestrial fusion bombs use?- but it still requires more explanation than just “it was hard”.
The direct orders were to plant the nuclear weapon, detonate it, and leave as quickly as possible.
It’s a planet-killer! It doesn’t have to be planted- in fact, bringing it to the surface will decrease its destructive capacity, since a portion of the blast will just go to digging a massive crater instead of spreading out over a wider area and burning away more of the atmosphere.
“If we assume that NOVA bombs did exist in the 2530s, I’m not entirely sure why this mission needs Spartans at all- just have a stealth corvette do… whatever the Pelican did to get into the system undetected, quietly jettison the bomb near Capricorina, and then head back out.”
This particular bomb had enough power to destroy the entire planet.
Umm… no it doesn’t.
NOVA bombs pack a lot of energy, but they can’t actually destroy a planet- just render the surface uninhabitable. One does break up a moon in Halo: First Strike, but moons can be made of a lot of different things and if this one was just a small, Phobos-style rock agglomeration that really isn’t very impressive.
It was a combination of several fusion warheads, and although particularly small,
Didn’t you just say it was big enough to take up almost the entire troop bay?
[SILENT ALARM BLARES]
*headshotted in the chest by the Department of Contradictions Agency Classified PR Division*
was the UNSC’s most powerful weapon by far- it easily had a twenty-seven gigaton yield, John recalled.
“Well, actually, according to the calculations run by Halo Nation, the NOVA bomb’s explosive yield is closer to one-point-two million gigatons. But by all means, do continue. You have so much more physics to violate before the Admiral gets back.”
Once this thing was detonated, it would destroy the Covenant on the planet, and the planet itself. The timer on the NOVA bomb was ten minutes, and John only hoped that he and the rest of the Spartans would be able to make it off the planet in time. If not, they would be vaporized in a split second.
That seems rather long to me given that the NOVA bomb is a delicate machine with a complex activation cycle and would probably be rendered inoperable if anyone shot it.
Now he fully understood why this had to be a Spartan-only mission .
John shut the Pelican’s engines down and climbed out of the cockpit and went into the passenger’s compartment, where Kelly, Linda, James and Will were all standing around the bomb. They all looked to him for instructions.
“Let’s get that bomb out of here,” John ordered, “James, Will and Kelly, you’ll carry it. Linda and I will lead and provide a safe path for you to follow. The Covenant are digging in the next valley, so I want to try and put the bomb right in the middle of them.
“Ummm… why do they need to put it in the next valley? It’s an insanely powerful nuclear explosive- wherever you put it, all of the Covenant in that valley, as well as the valley itself, are still going to be gone.”
This isn’t Halo, this is Team Fortress Two!
We can’t allow ourselves to be seen, especially you three with the bomb. If some clever Grunt decides to stick a grenade to any of you or the bomb, we’ll all be-“
About where you were before, actually, since nuclear devices tend to fail dead.
“Come on, John,” Kelly interrupted, “We’re not marines. We’re Spartans. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m not up for making any mistakes.”
“Right,” John replied, although he couldn’t help but feel annoyed. He knew that there was an underlying message with the “we’re not marines” and “I’m not up for making any mistakes.” He knew it was a message that either marines made mistakes, or it was a way of saying that allowing himself to fall in love with Renee was a mistake, and that Kelly or the rest of the Spartans allowed themselves to make such mistakes.
Well, two out of three ain’t bad…
“Let’s get this thing moving,” James gestured down to the NOVA bomb, “After all those restless days it took to get us here, I need to get moving myself.”
“Alright, one, two, three, ” Kelly said, and then she, Will and James picked up the bomb with relative ease, and they slowly began walking out of the compartment and onto the burned, dry ground. Linda followed behind them, but John stayed put for a second, feeling his limbs starting to ache. He quickly had the pills out of his utility belt, the cap off and two into his palm. He put the bottle back, and then swiftly turned around, took his helmet off, tossed the pills down his throat and put the helmet back on.
Wait, he just keeps them in a bottle instead of having a liquid form that he can use in his armor’s onboard medical unit?
“What happens if the Pelican gets hulled on their flight out and he has to spend the trip back relying on his armor’s life support?”
He turned around, and saw that all of his Spartans were turned and saw what he had done .
“Pills?” Will questioned.
“What are they for?” Linda asked, although her voice was calmer than his had been.
John didn’t answer; he just plucked his assault rifle off his back and gestured for them to get going. He jumped out of the Pelican, and was well aware that still, eight pairs of eyes were on him, his silence not a good enough answer.
“A prescription from Dr. Halsey?” Kelly gestured to Linda to take her place holding the bomb for a moment, and she stalked towards John, “A special prescription to hold back your romantic feelings or something?”
John felt his anger flare.
“No!” He snapped, and he reached down to his utility belt and tore out the bottle, and held it up to her faceplate, “What does paracetamol sound like to you?
Well, nothing really, since I’m not a chemist or a pharmacist, but according to Saint Wikipedia it’s actually the generic name for Tylenol. That does make me wonder how bad his injuries can possibly be if he just needs a weak analgesic to completely get rid of the pain (as well as being somewhat surprised that the UNSC hasn’t come up with something better by 2535), but at least he’s not going to be spacing out in the middle of combat.
Well, no more than usual, anyway.
Pain killers, Kelly, so that I’m not handicapped on this mission. Now I told you to carry the bomb, and I’d like you to focus on the mission at hand, not on the pills that I’m required to take.”
“Yes, sir, ” Kelly replied, her voice going a little higher than usual, and she turned on her heel and took back her place from Linda.
He could tell she was angry, just by the way she walked. John exhaled deeply, and let his anger to pass. He could have very easily screamed at her just then, but he wasn’t ever going to allow himself to show his anger like how he had on Lacerta, ever again.
Focus on the mission at hand, John thought to himself.
Mommy’s Little Marines (And Spartans) Counter: 109
“Alright, let’s move out, Spartans,” John instructed, and he took the lead with Linda and they started off walking through the dying remnants of the forest, weapons at the ready. John kept a cautious eye on his motion tracker, for now, it only had five yellow blips. If any enemies came onto the tracker, he and Linda had to meet them before they could get too close to the bomb. Any stray shots could possibly set the bomb off.
Again, no, not really. I mean, a very lucky plasma grenade or even just a rifle shot might be able to touch off the conventional-explosive primer, or even short part of the electronics in a way that causes the thing to detonate, but even completely blowing it up is far more likely to just scatter the fissionable/fusionable components and make the bomb unusable. I mean, the people who built it could always have just added some sensors that would detonate the thing if it was in danger of being incapacitated, but that’s something the ground team would be able to turn on and off when needed, as well as being… well, really fucking unsafe.
He glanced back over his shoulder, and saw the others were able to carry the bomb easily, their walking pace nearly as fast as his and Linda’s. Good.
They continued on in this way for a while, until they broke out of the dead forest and into a clearing sloping up to the side of the valley. On the other side, John knew that there was thousands of Covenant. He already could spot the large Assault Carrier docked above their digging area. He glanced up, and was surprised that there were no stationary guns placed on the ridge. Well, then again, they wouldn’t be expecting any visitors, especially five Spartans delivering a special order NOVA bomb.
John crouched, and made a slow fist. They all stopped and crouched, and he opened a COM channel with all of the Spartans.
“Linda and I will quickly run across the clearing and survey the valley, just to see what we’re dealing with. When I give the all clear, I want Kelly, James and Will to come across the clearing, and wait at the bottom of the hill,” he said, “We’ll go from there, understood? ”
Four acknowledgement lights winked.
He looked to Linda, and gave her a little nod, and then they hurried across the clearing, and reached the base of the hill. Slowly, they crept up the side, and John felt his stomach flip, as he watched his motion tracker begin to fill with hundreds of red dots.
He and Linda slapped their weapons onto their backs, and began to slowly crawl up on their stomachs, ever so cautiously, and slowly the valley came into view, and it was worse than he had expected. There
were thousands of Covenant troops. Elites, Grunts and Jackals, and they had set up a literal camp. They were all bustling around, and he heard the angry alien cries and orders as they forced the Grunts to dig. They had succeeded in digging a deep hole in the earth, about a hundred feet deep, and by the looks of things, they were still digging .
That’s… honestly not very impressive.
You know those Scarab tanks the Covenant uses? The ones with the giant face-laser that can bore through Forerunner metal and take down Pelicans if they just happen to get near it?
Those are converted Covenant mining equipment. Hell, when Truth wanted to dig up the Ark Portal in Halo 3, he just had his warships bore through a few dozen kilometers of seabed with their dorsal energy projectors. They probably do use Unggoy slave labor to man their equipment and handle the fiddly little bits where an organic touch is required to get those last few chunks of ore, but a 30-meter-deep hole dug by hand really isn’t going to get them anywhere very fast.
John and Linda backed down and laid against the hillside, looking at each other. She opened a COM channel with him.
“That’s a lot of aliens,” she muttered.
“No kidding,” John replied, “I don’t know how we’ll be able to get down there- especially with a bomb.”
“We could always wait until dark, ” Linda answered, “Then the most of them will be sleeping.”
Or you could just put the bomb behind the ridge… that’d work too…
“We don’t have time. Let’s call the others over here.” He widened the COM channel to all of the Spartans, and he whistled, Oly Oly Oxen Free. He glanced back over his shoulder and saw his Spartans started to cross the clearing.
Suddenly, his attention was drawn to several blips that were approaching him and Linda.
“Truly, your timing could not have been worse.”
They both froze, and watched as they grew closer. They couldn’t get up and run now. Quickly, John snapped, “Stop!” over the COM channel, and he watched as his Spartans froze with the bomb.
“Shouldn’t they be moving back? If the Covenant are coming over the ridge, the aliens will be able to see everything the Chief can- including the bomb party.”
Linda and John pressed themselves flatter against the hillside, and began to hear the aliens talking as they drew nearer. Judging by their guttural, deep voices, they both realized that they were Elites .
Because, apparently, they had spent their entire lives up until this point believing themselves to be Kig-Yar. Man is that going to be awkward when they get back to base.
John lay completely still against the hill, and heard the alien’s footsteps crunching on the dry, cracked ground. Then they came to a stop, and Linda and John held their breath, and glanced up, to see two Covenant Elites above them, although they hadn’t yet seen them. They both were Major Domos, donning the red armor.
Not just any armor, mind you, but the armor.
Suddenly, John became aware that his other Spartans were completely visible out on the field.
Idiot, idiot, idiot, idiot…”
Just as if on cue, they heard a loud, guttural yowl come from the closest Elite, and watched as it pointed in the direction of the other Spartans.
Linda and John didn’t think twice, and jumped up, and threw themselves around the two Elites. In a brief second, John saw that a third Elite had been making its way up the hill, and he saw its eyes dilate, and heard a loud scream of alarm as Linda and John dragged the Elites down the hill. John wrapped his arms around his surprised Elite’s neck, and they rolled down the hill, kicking up a large amount of dust. The Elite roared as they tumbled, but they came to a stop, with John on top of the Elite. It could only writhe beneath him as he squeezed its long, thick throat.
“Why are all of the close-quarters scenes featuring Elites so much more suggestive than the actual romance? The hand-to-hand with other humans wasn’t like this…”
The alien made a strangled noise, and then John heard its neck bones snap, and then he let go. The Elite coughed up purple blood, and went into a spasm as John got to his feet. He took his assault rifle off his back, and smashed the butt of it into the Elite’s skull, killing it.
Seems to me like just stepping on its head would be quicker and just as effective, but I suppose it doesn’t really matter.
He looked up and saw Linda was still fighting with hers. They were rolling around at the bottom of the hill, not twenty feet away. The Elite was equally as strong as Linda, and they both were punching at each other and trying to twist and break each other’s limbs.
Linda kept trying to strangle it, but it would push at her chest and face, trying to get it away from her.
Linda clicked her COM channel twice, an assistance call to him.
“Of course, because Spirits forbid the female accomplish anything in combat on her own…”
He dove forward and jumped into the fight. He pulled Linda off the Elite, and jumped on it just as it was getting to its feet. They crashed into the ground. This Elite was stronger than the other one had been, and it clawed at his helmet, and kicked at him. John managed to punch it in the face, and it roared, and swung its fist back. He tried to wrap his hands around its neck, but suddenly, the Elite kicked him off, and he flew onto his back, and the creature crawled over him, and got its long fingers around his neck and began to squeeze.
“Hmm. Well, never mind that then.”
Looks like the creepy Sangheilomantic shoe is on the other hoof now, too.
John instantly felt his airway being closed, and he fought against it, but all of a sudden, he heard a loud gunshot, and the Elite’s head exploded outwards, brains and blood splattering John and the ground near him. It let out a gurgle and slumped forward onto John, but he shoved its now-limp body off him, and scrambled to his feet.
He looked and saw Linda held her trusty sniper rifle, the barrel smoking.
“Well color me impressed!”
He was about to thank her, but when all of a sudden, a loud roar filled his ears. He glanced up to the hill, and realized that it wasn’t just one roar. It was thousands of battle cries.
Yeah, there was that other Elite you guys let get away…
“To say nothing of the noise they made while feeling up beating up the first two… or the fact that those first two still had ample time to get a message out over their helmets…
Really, they should have been planning for this as soon as they saw the patrol heading over that ridge.”
Both he and Linda froze, and could only watch in absolute horror as Covenant welled up over the hill, and began to descend.
Frantically, he winked three red acknowledgement lights on his HUD. Fall back.
He and Linda turned and ran, and saw his three other teammates hurrying to place the bomb behind a rather large rock. From behind them, they could hear a sound that sounded like thunder, as thousands of Covenant trampled down the hill after them, screaming war cries.
There was no way they could turn and face them, John realized. They would have to detonate the bomb, right now. He opened the COM channel and screamed into it, “START THE TIMER, AND FALL BACK TO THE PELICAN! DON’T WAIT! ”
He watched from afar as his fellow Spartans ducked behind the rock and then Kelly’s voice came back smoothly over the COM.
“Timer started. We’ve got ten minutes, John.”
Then he saw as Will, James and Kelly dashed into the woods. He forced himself to run faster, despite the aching in his muscles. He and Linda ran so fast that they looked like they were flying. The ground was shaking behind them as the Covenant continued to charge, plasma bolts sizzling through the air as they shot at the two Spartans in anger .
John and Linda reached the woods, and tore through the bushes and trees, their hearts racing and adrenaline pumping frantically. Ahead of them, they saw Kelly, James and Will, running just as fast as they were.
John blinked away sweat that dripped into his eyes, and continued to run. His chest was starting to burn, but he couldn’t stop now. If he did, he’d be dead. He pushed aside the aching in his body and willed himself to run even faster, gasping for air. There must be seven minutes left by now.
He glanced back and saw the Covenant were still coming. Elites, Grunts and Jackals screamed at them as they tore through the brush, swerving around trees, leaping over rocks, firing their weapons sporadically. At least they had no idea about the bomb, which they conveniently passed long before they entered the forest, tucked cleverly behind the large rock.
“It’s large enough to fill a Pelican’s troop bay, and they all ran past it. They ran. Right. Past. It!
Sakai’s musical accompaniment says everything that needed to be said, really. This entire operation, on both sides, has been a comedy of errors since well before the Pelican first landed.”
It would be the death of them, and John realized, if he didn’t get to the Pelican fast enough, the death of him as well.
Ahead through the trees, over the screaming roar, the thundering of feet and sizzling of plasma fire, he heard the Pelican’s engines coming to life. The others must have already reached it. John and Linda pressed themselves to run even faster.
They broke into the clearing, and saw the Pelican was rising, its thrusters roaring on full blast. Linda and John ran below the Pelican, and jumped, and pulled themselves into the passenger’s compartment. Linda collapsed onto the floor, panting, but John forced himself to head towards the cockpit, where Kelly was driving. He screamed.
Kelly nodded, and jammed the thruster forward, and John saw the billowing Covenant below them as they shot at the Pelican and screamed in anger as it rose out of their grasp. The back hatch closed, and the Pelican jerked forward, speeding up at a forty-five degree angle towards the sky.
The Spartans sprawled out on the floor of the compartment, not saying a word.
Which is strange, since the floor was tilted at a 45-degree angle and the ship was accelerating forward.
John clamped his eyes shut, waiting for the blinding explosion. The Pelican began to shake as it went to exit the atmosphere,
“You know, you still need to evade all of the fighters and capital ships and anti-air batteries the Covenant is scrambling to try to stop you… right?
They… are scrambling their air defenses to try to stop you… right?
Oh, Venerable Ancestors, they’re just sitting around eating pepperoni, licking each other’s bulges, and not doing anything to react to a human presence in the system again, aren’t they?”
and the heat inside of the compartment started to rise, but John realized it was hotter than usual. The bomb-
Ok, there’s no way that little chase scene went on for ten whole minutes.
“Well, knowing this mission the technicians assembling the bomb probably set the timer to 100 seconds by mistake or something.”
The Pelican suddenly burst free of the atmosphere, propelled faster by a giant heat wave. All of the Spartans’ suits flared as it tried to cool down the thermal temperature. From outside, they heard a deafening explosion, and knew that the bomb had detonated- and they were alive.
Ok, first of all, “heat waves” do not in most circumstances propel things. They do generate some force, but in the grand scheme of things it’s really not very much.
Second, that “heat wave” they felt was the thermal, visual, and other electromagnetic radiation (the types vary depending on the specifics of the device) emitted by a motherfucking NOVA bomb, and the Pelican was- in astronomical scales- right next to it:
They would be lucky if at the end of that pulse a few of their atoms were the same elements as when they went in.
There would be an audible explosion, though, or at least a very loud roar, as the atmosphere they just left behind was propelled back towards them in the form of superheated plasma, but nothing could survive the initial flash to hear it.
It took them a second as the Pelican slowed to a glide in the vacuum to realize that they were all alive. Kelly slumped in the cockpit’s chair, and took off her helmet, and glanced back to her fellow Spartans. Her face was shining with sweat, her hair pasted to her forehead .
“We- made it-” she gasped.
The others took off their helmets, their faces were also sweaty. John’s hair was completely soaked, and he could only sit and try and regain his energy. He felt so weak,
Yeah, that’d be the radiation poisoning setting in- that high-energy flash I mentioned up above is also chock-full of x-rays, gamma rays, and (depending on the exact internals of the device) possibly high-velocity free neutrons. All of which can fuck you up in a variety of extremely unpleasant ways.
but also, he never had felt so glad to be alive. They had been so close to dying. If there had been even a ten second difference, they would have been vaporized instantly.
Unless Pelicans can literally travel faster than the speed of light, a ten-second difference wouldn’t matter. They might have been able to outrun the plasma shockwave (I doubt it, they’re in a troopship, after all, but it’s at least physically possible for very fast spacecraft), but that energy flash travels at c and would still have roasted them.
For a moment, he allowed himself to close his eyes and think of Renee. He’d survived this mission, because he hadn’t focused on her. Honestly, she had only crossed his mind once, and that was when he
had gotten into that little argument with Kelly. It had been easier than expected to not think of Renee in battle- it was almost like he had never known her, that she never had existed to him. He just thought of the battle, and the seriousness of it kept his mind from wandering anywhere else, and perhaps he was afraid to let it wander, after the events of running onto a mine field without thinking first .
And, so, instead, he ran into a Covenant field without thinking first.
Now what was next, he wondered? Another Spartan-only mission perhaps or maybe he’d get sent back to the Hercules, back to Renee… but that was only a slight possibility and he knew it. He longed to see her now, to take her in his arms and tell her all about the mission, tell her how close to death he had been…
“Because it isn’t like the deployment of the most powerful weapon in the UNSC arsenal would be classified or anything…”
He wondered what she was doing now…
she was probably with Amy and Troy. He’d been away from her for eight days now, and he wondered if she would still be sad about him being gone… or maybe she was feeling a little bit better.
All he knew was that she had been so upset when he told her that he had to leave, that she cried for him- something John had long forgotten how to do- and that she was overall devastated.
Maybe she’d improved, or perhaps she had closed herself up in a cryo tube and would unfreeze herself when he returned to her. She had mentioned it, but something told John that Troy and Amy wouldn’t
accept her doing such a thing.
Suddenly, Kelly’s voice broke into his mind. Her voice was small, a whisper .
She wasn’t speaking just to him, she was speaking to everyone. John forced himself to get to his feet as the rest of his Spartans crowded around the cockpit, looking out the window. Capricornia hardly was what it had once been. The atmosphere had been burned away, and the planet had broken into several pieces-and it was surrounded by floating debris. No longer did it look like a planet. It looked like a large asteroid- rocky, barren, and dead.
“That’s… unbelievable,” Linda breathed, her green eyes dilated.
Yes, it is. Because NOVA bombs don’t do that.
“Actually, doesn’t this make things easier for the Covenant in the long run? Previously, they had to dig through miles of inert rock to get at whatever ores they were after- now a good chunk of it’s just floating in space for them.”
“To think that little bomb did that, ” Will remarked, shaking his head, “Crazy.”
Well, it wasn’t what I’d call little, but yes. Crazy is exactly the word I’d use for all of this.
“Is that what they’ve ordered for Jericho IV and Lacerta?” John breathed, more to himself than anyone else.
“I don’t think so,” James answered, “Capricornia had the largest infestation. The other two were much less complicated- they won’t use the NOVA, probably just a couple of nuclear warheads.”
John nodded, and he understood why Dr. Halsey had been so hesitant about sending him on this mission, but it only succeeded in making him get a step closer to reality. Death had been right there, chasing after them, with blinding hot, vaporizing claws,
And nasty sharp pointy teeth!
ready to grab them and pull them into a incinerating doom, but they had survived, getting out with not so much as a scratch. It was a magnificent feat, to have successfully killed tens of thousands of Covenant troops,
“You know, it actually would have been better to perform this operation later, once the Covenant were better-established and had committed more infrastructure to the planet… but I suppose the UNSC needed to strike while the opportunity was available.”
and gotten out alive themselves- John had no doubt that they would be indefinitely praised upon their return to Reach. Medals might even be rewarded, although it would be none John hadn’t seen before.
He felt the shift in the Pelican as it turned in the direction of their frigate, the UNSC Daylight, which was waiting them not too far away.
Wait, there’s been a frigate here the whole time?
“Well, that does explain how they physically got to the system, but makes it absolutely impossible for the Covenant not to have detected them.”
John looked to Kelly, who appeared to be in a better mood than she had been. All of the Spartans were, matter of fact, and John was thankful that they had made it through another mission together. Linda, who had a trickle of blood coming from her nose- probably from her fight with the Elite-
Must… resist… urge… to invoke… anime trope…
wasn’t bothering with it and her eyes were fluttering closed. Will and James appeared to be tired as well, for their heads were slumped down on their chests and hardly moved at all.
John felt like sleeping, but he’d wait until they were back on the frigate, where he’d go into cryo stasis, where he’d be oblivious to his pain and time would pass quickly.
Which also means that he won’t be healing any of his injuries…
He’d soon be back on Reach, and succumb to the next set of orders- and he only hoped that it would be to return to the Hercules. A hope that he probably knew- wouldn’t happen. He’d have to be patient and wait for the time where he’d see Renee again, and he had a feeling it wouldn’t be too soon.
He only hoped until then she’d keep good care of herself, and that she wouldn’t be burdened too much by Troy, who was probably a permanent addition to her friends list now that he was gone. He wasn’t worried too much about Renee and Troy, for she’d gave him a broken nose once, and if he did anything out of line, John had no doubt she’d break it again.
Assured, John couldn’t hold back his urge to get a few minutes of sleep, and his eyes fluttered closed, and he was asleep in a second.
“Shipmaster! Shipmaster!” the yelling interrupted ‘Malnoonee from his rest.
“You know, I’m really not the least bit surprised that Maloonee was the tactical ‘genius’ behind the Covenant’s side of this debacle.”
He lifted his reptilian head from his arm and looked up, shooting a deadly glare at the Major domo, whose name was Isno ‘Ukanamee, who had turned from his workstation to look at him.
“Oh, sleeping on the job, I see…
I’m really not the least bit surprised by that, either.”
The computer screen he was by was flashing a big red warning, and the expression on his face portrayed the shock that accompanied his voice. The other Sangheili in the room turned and looked to him in question, and then to ‘Malnoonee, who was wiping the sleep from his eyes.
“What is it?” the Shipmaster snapped irritably.
“Something terrible has happened,” ‘Ukanamee yelped, “I’ve just received news, the Human Colony of Capricornia, where we had deployed the large amount of troops to retrieve the planet’s resources…”
You know, what exactly are these ‘resources’ that are so vital to the war effort anyway?
“Well, you know, there’s stuff. And things, let’s not forget the need for things.”
“Yes, yes, what?” ‘Malnoonee was impatient.
“Well… the planet… our troops… they’re gone, sir,” ‘Ukanamee replied, lowering his head in sadness and glancing back to the screen .
‘Malnoonee shot to his feet.
“What?” he demanded, crossing over to ‘Ukanamee, who slightly cowered in his presence.
“Yes, they were all there, a moment ago,” ‘Ukanamee sputtered, “But now, the planet… it’s in pieces… it literally exploded, our nearby cruiser, the Dark Peril, just reported it!
And apparently nobody noticed the fucking UNSC frigate right nearby…
“What kind of name for a Covenant ship is “Dark Peril”, anyway? Is the Shipmaster a fan of the Voldemort scenes from My Bleeding Crimson Despair?”
I didn’t believe it at first, but then they sent the video… look…” with a flick of a long finger, ‘Ukanamee started to play the footage from the ship’s cameras on the large screen in the middle of the bridge. ‘Malnoonee could only watch as a bright light detonated from the other side of the planet, and next thing it was entirely engulfed, the atmosphere dissipated in a giant, sickly quiet explosion. When the fireball cleared, the planet was nothing but a cracked piece of rock. It literally had been split in two.
‘Malnoonee’s jaws hung open.
“What the-” he whispered, and he snapped his head in the direction of ‘Ukanamee, slamming his fist down on the control panel, “What could do that?”
Only the power of pure, unadulturated bullshit.
“This is the part you’re really not going to like, sir,” ‘Ukanamee swallowed nervously, keeping his head down, “Moments before the explosion, the Dark Peril received several radio contacts from the ground troops… that there were Spartans, sir. Five of them- three of them carrying a bomb… and they detonated it and left.
And the ship didn’t try to stop them, even though it had apparently survived the explosion…
They tried to defuse it, but it wasn’t possible,” ‘Ukanamee watched as ‘Malnoonee ‘s eyes narrowed and he clicked his mandibles angrily, and he cautiously added, “They believed the Demon, the one ‘Kolsamee is after, was leading them.”
‘Malnoonee growled, deep down in his throat, and slammed his fist down on the control panel again. ‘Ukanamee stepped backwards, cringing. It was dead silent on the bridge, the rest of the Sangheili working there not moving a muscle. ‘Malnoonee leaned forward on the table, snaking his long neck out, glaring as the video on the screen replayed, another low guttural snarl coming from his mandibles, his eyes burning viciously.
“I want him dead, ” he whispered, “I would kill him, I would slice him to pieces… make him suffer in agony… tell ‘Kolsamee. And order the Fleet to get ready to move. I want to find the next Human Colony; do you have any ideas where there might be one?”
Hey, does anyone else find it a bit strange that a Shipmaster is commanding a fleet?
“You know, I’m not sure if ‘Maloonee even actually reports to anyone, at all! When things don’t go his way, he never seems to consider asking for reinforcements, and instead just formulates these asinine revenge schemes that can’t be part of his original mission plan.”
“Well, in the Hydra system, we’ve recently detected there are several planets orbiting around a star, two of which are terrestrial. It’s quite safe to predict that at least one be inhabited,”
Ok, either it be Talk Like A Pirate Day, or he just accidentally a word.
‘Ukanamee answered, “Considering that’s what happened for the last three solar systems we’ve come across- and they’re becoming more and more dense,
Oh, everyone’s becoming more and more dense all right…
which makes me think we’re drawing nearer and nearer to their original home world.”
“Mhm….” ‘Malnoonee nodded, “Set the Slipspace coordinates. That’s where we’re going, to the Hydra system. I will glass any planet containing those filthy humans. They make me sick, thinking they can try and rule, and deface perfectly good planets with their dirty footsteps.
Ok, when did the Covenant suddenly become radical environmentalists?
I won’t stop until I’ve killed every last one. This time, when the Demon arrives, ‘Kolsamee will be ready, and run him through, along with that pathetic girl he’s with. I want them dead.”
“And their little dog, too! Ehahahahaha!”
‘Ukanamee nodded in approval. “With pleasure, sir, ” he replied.
“On second thought, call ‘Kolsamee here. I want him to see this; I want him to feel the fury. They will not get away with this.”
‘Kolsamee was summoned in several minutes,
Wow. Covenant response times really suck.
and he walked onto the bridge, and respectfully dropped to one knee, sweeping his arm across his chest in an honorable bow at ‘Malnoonee’s hooved feet .
“Shipmaster, you wished to speak with me?” he asked.
“Yes, and show you something,” ‘Malnoonee said, and watched as the tall Sangheili, in his shining black armor, rose to full height, towering over him. ‘Kolsamee ‘s yellow eyes flickered to his patiently, waiting for him to continue.
‘Malnoonee took a deep breath, and gestured to ‘Ukanamee to play the footage again. ‘Kolsamee watched in silence, and flinched at the end in disbelief at the planet’s outcome. His head whipped around to ‘ Malnoonee .
“Was that where-” he began, but ‘Malnoonee didn’t need him to finish .
“Ten thousand of our troops,”
Hang on a minute- ten thousand troops?
“That is indeed what it says.”
Ten thousand troops were mining on that planet for the better part of two weeks… and all they managed to do was dig a thirty-meter-deep hole?!
‘Malnoonee nodded, clenching his hands into fists, “Murdered. Can you make a guess as to what happened here? ”
“A bomb, of some amazing technology,” ‘Kolsamee answered, “I’ve never seen that type of power before in my entire life.”
“Who do you think planted this bomb?” ‘Malnoonee raised a brow.
“The Spartans?” ‘Kolsamee ‘s features soured, his voice accompanied with a hiss.
“Yes, and your Demon was believed to have led them,” ‘Malnoonee snapped, but he let out a sigh and calmed down a little, “He needs to be exterminated. In fact, I’ve just ordered new Slipspace coordinates; we’re heading to a questionable solar system which may inhabit Human life.
That’d be pretty questionable, all right…
*quietly sets the “[X] Days Without A Visit From The SCP Foundation” sign to -4*
If we find such a planet, we’re launching an immediate attack, and without a doubt, the Demon will come to their aid- which will be your perfect chance to slaughter him- and his female, if she’s there as well. The attack will be by everyone in this entire Fleet, not just a couple of ships. I’m talking of hundreds, thousands of ground troops. The miserable Demon and all the others who come to defend the planet will meet a certain death, and in the Demon’s case, death by your blade, ‘Kolsamee.”
‘ Kolsamee ‘s eyes glanced to him, and then back up to the screen, and he gave a slight nod of his head in approval. He glanced down to his deactivated energy sword on his belt, and then back up to the Shipmaster’s eyes.
“I know you won’t fail me,” ‘Malnoonee answered, “You are a talented assassin, one of the best. I wouldn’t have anyone else.”
This is… getting increasingly slashy.
“Thank you, sir,” ‘Kolsamee replied, and he cleared his throat, “I promise you. I’ll kill the Demon. I’ll even bring you his head, if you wish. And the girl’s.”
At the mention of this, ‘Kolsamee ‘s mind brought him back to his confrontation with Renee’s friend, Amy, where he had spared her life, and only gave her a warning, declaring that his name would eventually mean something awful to her.
He knew that this time would be soon. K’tao ‘Kolsamee, the name of the Sangheili Ossoona who murdered her two best friends.
‘Kolsamee had lost many of his friends, and remembered what a terrible feeling of loss it was- it hit you like a burst of plasma. It was horrible. Would he be able to inflict that same feeling on the Human girl?
‘Malnoonee chuckled, and placed a hand on ‘Kolsamee ‘s shoulder, as if he sensed his discomfort. He sensed it, but he didn’t know what it was caused by. He especially didn’t know that ‘Kolsamee was suddenly having doubts if he would be able to carry out his assassination.
Come back next time to witness… well, some sort of giant interpersonal snafu, I’m really not sure what more to describe it as than that.