Ben-055, Reach, August 30th 2552
Reach was gone that was a fact, but what about the people left behind?
‘Thirteen.’ Hitman counted taking a knife from a body of a Spartan lying motionless half buried in the ashes from the Covenants bombardments. ‘Will you stop that it’s disrespectful these men and women are heroes they deserved better than this.’ Ben lectured. ‘Aye true enough, they’re heroes but they are also dead and last time I checked dead heroes cannae use these.’ Hitman said waving a knife in front of him. Ben sighed and realised it was useless trying to argue with this Scotsman. ‘Man, this must be hard on Five-One-One. I mean it’s devastating for you an_’ Ben was interrupted ‘and who says it’s devastating for me? I couldnae give two rats arses about Earth, the UNSC and especially ONI.’ Hitman snapped. ‘As I was saying, Five-One-One_’ He was interrupted again. ‘Enough with that “Five-One-One” pish his name is Carp.’ Hitman corrected. This realisation confused Ben, he needed confirmation ‘Carp? Like the fish?’ ‘Aye, “Carp like the fish" he doesnae like it when people call him it.’
Carp-511 was supporting Clone-090 still injured from the Brute stalkers he encountered earlier, the Spartans were ahead of the ODST and the conscript. Carp hadn’t said a word since destroying that Covenant cruiser, he didn’t carry a weapon with him through the desolation, there was no point. In the barely visible sky through the ash and smog in the far distance a small fleet of Carriers remained in orbit. The larger fleet had probably chased the Pillar of Autumn to its destination wherever it was. Covenant patrols were few and far between, why were there any patrols at all? anything breathing without protection would choke on the dust alone not taking radiation into account.
The place Clone was guiding the Spartans to was a communications outpost made from wood and sheet metal how it was still standing was a mystery. It’s antenna still intact which under normal circumstances would be a miracle but then again these are not normal circumstances. ‘Oh Aye, while your phoning them up just get them to bring the spare fleet and blast these bastards! Oh, wait they don’t have one? Why’d you bring us here ya’ prick!’ Hitman yelled. Ben looked at Carp hoping for a sign of life but no he was just holding his squad mate up.
Surprisingly no bodies were around or inside of the outpost ‘Gotta take your victories when you can have them.’ Ben thought. Carp with Clone’s directions in one swift motion tore the floorboards off and threw them out the door. A hidden basement Carp jumped into the hole he had just made and helped his squad mate down. They found a boon to any survivor in any disaster let alone a glassing, a fallout shelter. ‘and how did you know this was here? What the Operation: Tip of the Spear? I don’t remember a shack near here?’ Hitman was dumbfounded by Clone’s explanation via SQUAD_CHAT.
The fallout shelter had a tough metal door not even X-4 charges could blow this vault. Carp after a few seconds inputted a pass code into the locking mechanism and with a few bleeps the door opened. Clone as though he had held on to life just to get into this bunker collapsed. Without any alarm or panic Carp hoisted up Clone and carried him into the Bunker. He laid him down in sick bay and exited the room. He was just going to leave his squad mate in agony and not even try to ease his suffering? Ben had to call him out ‘Wait you’re just going to leave him?’ Carp didn’t even look behind him as he felt an armoured hand touch his shoulder ‘I’m going to need your help, pal or he’s gone.’ Hitman with a worried tone unusual for him.
‘Ok we need to take the helmet off, ah ya bastard stuck on tight.’
‘all right on the count of three. One, two, Three pull!’
They both pulled and heard burned skin tear from the helmet. His head was not in as bad condition as they thought most of it was a pink colour indicating first degree burns though it probably hurt like hell it was far from the worst that happened. He was breathing, again a good sign.
‘Aye breathing good that means no punctured lungs. Next the chest piece we need to get to the burns on it before they get infected.’
They continued until the external armour was removed, then they removed the under suit with the EB tape patch job revealing his charred right shoulder and puncture wound, ironically the burns were the only thing keeping him alive at this point because they cauterized the wound. They dressed the burns and wound and left him to rest.
Ben sat down on a bench it felt great to finally stop walking. The main room was spacious with several rooms connected to them at the back of the main room was a large console with scouting drones. Hitman sat on a bench across from him taking off his helmet and dumped it next to him. ‘He’ll live, hell we’ll all live we did it! mission a-bloody-complished!’ Ben weary took his own helmet off and leaned back against the wall, forget everything else, it’s time to rest if only for a moment. Ben and Carp sat along the same bench Carp’s uneasy silence was disturbing after a while and impossible to ignore it was as though he was golem awaiting its master’s command, but its master had abandoned it leaving it frozen to the mercy of time.
Ben-055, Reach, September 1st 2552
Ben’s eyes opened it was as though he only slept for a minute. Carp was still frozen how long will he stay like that? Until a thick layer of dust forms on his armour? Hitman was still asleep spread across the bench. Ben preferred sleeping sitting up, he would always sleep in his pod prepared for any mission, his fellow ODSTs made fun of him for it but he did not care, nor did his superiors mind. ‘Are you up, Sir?’ Ben addressed Carp but he didn’t listen ‘Carp!?’ the Spartan’s slumped position switched as his neck snapped up ‘What?’ although annoyed he was too tired to confront the ODST.
‘We need a plan. What are our orders?’
‘I don’t know.’
‘You don’t know?’
‘Yes, I don’t know after everything that’s happened, what more is there to say? Reach is gone, the Pillar of Autumn was chased by half the occupation force and is most likely wreckage floating in space. All the while the Covenant probably are readying for an attack on earth as we speak, and we are stuck here unable to do anything about it. So yes, I don’t know!’
‘So, we are just going to give up?’
‘I don’t- ‘
‘and stop saying that, it’s starting to get annoying!’
‘Shut up I’m trying to sleep it’s been weeks since I’ve haven’t had my life on the line, and I’d like to have some goddamn sleep!’ said Hitman whose sleep was disturbed by the ODST.
‘Do you have any ideas then?’ Carp snapped again
‘Yeah shut up and let me sleep.’
‘Not you, the trooper.’
‘Hitman keep treating Clone’s injuries. Once he can walk, he’ll use the drones for long range scouting to monitor activity outside while you take stock of our supplies it’ll be a while before anyone comes near here. Carp you need to clear your head go outside and scavenge what you can, Weapons, transport, supplies anything we can use. We’ll rotate shifts you for an hour then me for an hour.’
‘Sounds like a solid plan.’ Carp said impressed.
‘Aye sure can I go back to sleep?’
Ben-055, Reach, September 9th 2552
Over the course of 9 days Yellow-Team had recovered from the verge of collapse. Carp got his mind together, Clone’s burns were healing nicely, Hitman being bored ventured onto the surface and found booze to replenish his incendiary grenades Ben was glad everything was slow. He was driving back to base in a Warthog from a scavenging run, it was fruitless like the all the other times any weapons he or Carp found were in bad condition and no maintenance could ever bring them back to working order. Any Covenant weapons they found had some sort of failsafe lock so they could not use them. However, Ben did not need any weapons except his Silenced SMG and Pistol he found several magazines of ammo for both weapons.
His visor was blocked off by the dust and ashes making him resort to using the VISR mode on his HUD to see where he was going, he couldn’t even imagine how Carp got back. He arrived at the COMMs tower. 5 crosses stuck out from the scarred earth with helmets on top of them, Graves for Spartans both II and IIIs, ODSTs and Marines, they couldn’t strip their gear out in the wasteland so they brought the corpses with them and gave them a decent burial the ones that the Covenant could not care any less about. Carp knew each of the Spartan IIs they buried and delivered a eulogy for each of them and each time it became more and more difficult for Carp to honour each Brother or Sister.
Ben found Hitman outside of the base with a tub of water, he then grabbed handfuls of irradiated soil at a time and dumped it in then mixing them with a broken piece of rebar. He was singing something it was in English, but Ben couldn’t make out the words it didn’t matter. What was he up to?
‘Hey Hitman, what are you doing with that water?’ Ben asked, ‘It’s not like we can just go to the stream or what’s left of it to get more.’
‘Oh Benny, guess what!’ He sounded elated could it be Clone got a signal out how and to whom?
‘Clone got a signal out?’
‘No, I wish. Covies they’re back looking for something they’ve set up a camp!’
‘Wait you’re excited. You’ve gone crazy it’s the Covenant! Not a rescue party!’
‘Oh, you think I’ve gone doo lally you should wait until you hear Carp and Clone’s plan, now that is insane.’
‘I’ll go ask myself. But what are you doing?’
‘Oh aye, you know how you guys arenae having any luck wi’ weapons well I’m making home brew poison. You see all ‘round us is deadly radiation and well I figured instead of it slowly killing us all, how about I weaponize it and coat our… my knives in it because you know how it is. You throw a knife at an elite, it just tears it out and gets on with its day of human annihilation. But this shite’s no ordinary shite, this shite will also give him a little dose of radiation poisoning making him weaker immediately then slowly killing him.’
‘You could’ve just said I’m making poison.’
Ben found Carp cleaning a BR55 battle rifle. Cleaning guns seemed to be his new hobby, good thing too most equipment found in the dust and decay were far from pristine although most of the time they still didn’t work.
‘What’s your plan with the Covenant, going to give us up and hope they take us prisoner?’
‘No, the plan is far simpler. They are on the surface which means they have a dropship, which means we
can use that dropship to get off Reach and-’
‘and get blown up by their Carriers.’
‘and we infiltrate one of the Carriers and plant this device and X-4 charges onto their slip space drive make a random portal, go through and blow them to hell before they can chase us. Understood?’
This had got to have been ‘the’ single most insane plan he had ever heard and yes, he had questions. How are they going to keep hidden? Who is flying?
‘Well how do we keep them from incinerating us when we are in?’
Carp threw something in Ben’s direction, he caught it.
‘Active Camouflage from those Brutes you painted for us they block motion trackers and if they block ours, they can block theirs. If we’re lucky the dropship we commandeer will have a stealth generator too. Clone will fly, Hitman will support him, and we’ll infiltrate. We’re leaving tonight that’s when they rest.’ The spartan said loading a magazine into the battle rifle.
The four armoured figures stood in front of a table with the equipment they needed on it. Obviously, they needed the device that will hack the slip space drive and the X-4 charges to blow it up to stop the Covenant from chasing them. Hitman and Clone did not need any weapons as they would not be directly engaging the Covenant, but Hitman had several of his knives and incendiaries on hand in case he needed to fight. Carp and Ben were the infiltration force, so they needed to be prepared to fight in both close quarters and long range. Ben carried the ODST signature weapons while Carp had his battle rifle, he also had some of Hitman’s knives should he need to take any Covenant out quietly. The Spartans decided to approach the Covenant camp without the Warthog, this gave Hitman an idea to siphon fuel from it and use it against the Covenant forces.
The ODST always thought that the Spartan’s armour would make a lot of noise like the cyclops mechs used in warehouse heavy lifting, but no he heard nothing except for the swashing of the canister of fuel hitman was lugging as well as the his own equipment as he volunteered to carry the hacking device and X-4 charges in order to allow Carp to easily defend him.
They could see the bluish-purple shimmer of the phantoms silhouette. The phantom itself had an ominous purple glow of a campfire below. It was Brute in gear like the ones they fought nine days ago, possibly the same unit. Brutes were the obvious choice to send to the surface because the Jiralhanae home world according to ONI was a bombed-out hell hole not unlike Reach presently. Ben wasn’t sure if the Spartans had translators in their helmets, but he did and managed to listen to their conversation.
‘Damn that Elite, not even a demon could survive this hell.’
‘Shame he didn’t let us search before all the corpse rotted, then we may have some food.’
‘We shouldn’t talk about him. Remember Potim? He spoke out against his treatment of us and the engineer’s barley recognized him! Do you wish to share his fate?’
‘But do you remember Infius and Occium? Apparently, they joined Atri…’
‘Don’t you dare utter those cowards or their treacherous leader’s name. They know nothing only faith in the great journey shall save us!’
‘You sound just like that Elite. I thought you were one of us.’
Ben couldn’t eavesdrop into their conversation because Carp started taking.
‘Spartans, Three-pronged approach around the campfire. Trooper go up the dropship’s gravity lift and fire on them we’ll finish them off. Give Clone your pistol, he will need it if this turns into a fire fight.’
He did what Carp asked and Clone nodded towards the gravity lift. While sneaking he listened back to the Brutes conversation.
‘I remember the ship master talking to the Zealot. The ancients left gifts for us here on this planet.’
‘Listening in on a conversation like that is a good way to disappear.’
‘The Humans already destroyed one. Probably the rest were destroyed too.’
‘Then the Zealot will have us searching until our hair falls out and covered in tumours.’
The ODST found the gravity lift and entered the phantom without the Brutes noticing they were staring deeply into the fire as they talked it was strange. He entered the cockpit a Brute was sleeping, Ben pressed the silenced barrel to the back of his head and let out a small burst of fire without alerting the Brutes outside.
He opened the port side ramp. Moving back to the centre of the phantom Ben manned the plasma turret there, the Brutes were looking up wondering why the ramp was open they reached for their weapons but before they could ready them Ben held down the triggers and let fly with plasma bolts at them. One of them was down before the others could find cover. The ones who made it to cover thought they were safe and could plan a counter attack on the human raining fire down on them. They started moving closer together and when they did, they saw a red tank of fuel land behind them, the human was not alone and before they caught a glimpse at a green and yellow demon he fired and burned them alive.
‘Good work trooper. Are you okay Clone can you fly this dropship?’
Clone gave a firm nod and pulled the dead Brute out of the pilot’s seat and got in.
‘Good Hitman, throw that body out and take his weapon.’
The pilot’s weapon was a Type-52 more commonly named the Mauler ‘Ya dancer! I love these things.’ The Scotsman said spinning the revolver like chamber while shoving the dead Brute off the ramp. Clone closed it and deactivated the gravity lift and began ascent. Clone looked through the view port and decided to try and land in the largest ship left in orbit. Clone tried to pull as much data as he could about the vessel he was flying towards and just as he found the information Ben was checking it.
‘The Pyre of the Wicked it’s a CCS class it’s not the worst thing in the world. At least we won’t be fighting the supreme commander. Who is ‘Vodalee?’
‘Whoever he his were going to be taking control of his slip space drive.’ Carp chipped into the conversation.
‘An’ maybe kill some of his pals.’ Hitman said getting into the co-pilots seat.
‘Trooper do you remember the plan? We cloak, head to engineering, plant the charges and device then leave. We cannot get pinned down or we are dead understood.’
‘Good, Clone activate the cloaking if this phantom has it. Turn off radios, Trooper keep the VISR on. We’re coming in.’
Ben-055, CCS-Class carrier, Pyre of the Wicked, September 10th 2552
The cloaked phantom entered one of the hanger bays of the ship it was quiet only a few grunts moving crates. The infiltration team jumped off the cloaked phantom. Ben could see the green outline of the cloaked spartan giving him directions. Carp pointed to a maintenance shaft.
They entered the shaft Carp activated his COMM channel.
‘We can talk here. These maintenance shafts are built like faraday cages they won’t find us. Don’t let the engineers near you but don’t alert them they’ll sound the alarm and we’ll be compromised.’
Traversing the shaft was as simple at following cables mounted to the sides of it while dodging engineers floating by to preform maintenance. The marines passed by the Control room and they realised why the hanger was sparse the room was densely packed with Elites listening to one Elite in golden armour this must be the ship master ‘Vodallee (the Elite that made the Brutes skin crawl) he was spewing some hate filled sermon about the end of humanity and ascension.
‘And now our brothers gather to the Unyielding Hierophant to eradicate the humans. We have found their home world. Fear not brothers we shall join them once we find the gift from the gods, this boon will give us incomparable speed and the Prophets shall give all the fleet a taste of its divine power.’ They had to keep moving but.
‘Spartan did you hear that they know where earth is!’
‘One problem at a time trooper we need to get back to FLEET COMM before we can do anything.’
Carp’s unusual calmness soothed the ODST, besides what else could they do wait for them to find whatever they were looking for, which would probably not be a good idea. All they could do was sabotage this ship and get back to Earth or nearby.
The engine room was empty except for easily avoidable engineers which was a godsend for these soldiers.
‘Ben plant the X-4 charges, I’ll plant the device and link it to Clone. We need to sever some of these cables in case the charges don’t not work it will slow them down and buy us time to make some distance between us and them. We need to work quick, once it’s connected, they’ll track us quickly. Blow the charges as we leave, we do not want to get caught in the explosion. Ready?’
They exited the shaft and got to work. Ben planted the charges on the port and starboard engines and linked them to the detonator he stared at the detonator and saw two red lights indicating that the charges were set. He looked at Carp talking to Clone via radio and decided to get to work cutting some cable he pulled out his knife and severed a handful of thin fibre cables. Looking over at Carp again he saw him holding cables down with his foot while he tore them.
‘That’s good enough let’s go Trooper through the shaft!’
Just as they entered the shaft the alarm sounded. Passing by the control room again they could hear an Elite addressing the shipmaster.
‘Lord ‘Vodallee we have intruders they’ve severed the engines we must find them.’
‘I underestimated the Humans, activate the advanced sensors find their vessel I shall head to the hangers myself to redeem my failure.’
‘Understood, we must resolve the situation before the Prophet of Compassion arrives.’
The went back to the hanger bay. The phantom was pushed back to outside of the hanger, it was on an altitude of witch they could jump. Both the Spartan and ODST made a dash towards the open port ramp with Hitman on the turret. The Covenant were too busy firing at the phantom to care about the cloaked soldiers running towards it. Ben readied the detonator to press the button as they escaped. Hopefully Clone can open the slip space portal near FLEET COMM and get the information about the “Unyielding Hierophant” and the attack on Earth.
Carp jumped exiting the hanger. Ben leaped as far as he could, he reached halfway out of the hanger before he came to an abrupt stop. He felt a crushing pain on his right leg. He looked back and saw a golden Elite uncloak staring at him with a terrifying grimace. He heard his radio buzzing it was Carp.
‘Trooper, Ben where the hell are you? Repeat where the hell are you?’
The spartan looked back and saw the ODST feebly try to free himself by kicking the imposing Elites hand as he flung him back into the hanger.
‘Negative I’m not going anywhere. I’m blowing the charges, get out of here and spartan see you on the other side.’
‘Copy that, it was an honour Ben now blast them straight to hell!’
In the hanger a crowd of Elites gathered around the Shipmaster and the ODST trying to get up. When he got up, he raised the detonator even though they could not see it he shed a tear despite everything he had experienced, no amount of service could prepare him for death.
He screamed as he pressed the button firmly.
And… Nothing, ‘what’ he thought. He secured them and linked them to this detonator, be pressed the button again, and again, and again. The Shipmaster busted out laughing at the ODSTs pitiful display of courage. After his laughing fit three Elites decloaked, two of them tossed the charges defused and unstuck in front of the Trooper and the third threw the hacking device.
‘I was unable to close the portal before they entered. I will search for the destination.’
‘Indeed, and the damage they caused will take time to repair, in the meantime.’ ‘Vodallee said as he turned his glare to Ben. ‘Your suffering shall be prolonged.’ He tossed an energy sword at Ben. ‘I have seen our sword play butchered by your kind. Unsheathe your blade and fight honourably for once in your miserable life and die a worthy opponent or die a coward paralyzed by fear.’
Ben grabbed the sword and activated it. He took the same stance Carp did against the field marshal although this opponent is twice as deadly and well, he’s no Spartan-II. ‘Vodallee charged with the speed of a cheetah and one swing knocked the sword out of Ben’s hand breaking his defence and with his free hand the ship master punched him in the gut knocking him to his knees. While on his knees ‘Vodallee’s armoured foot struck his visor cracking it, flinging him against the wall. The rest of the Pyres crew were cheering their leader. This isn’t even a challenge for this Elite, he grabbed his defeated opponent by his weapon hand and dragged him up. How Ben was conscious was a miracle the Elite pointed his sword towards the ODST’s chest plate ready to thrust.
‘Stop!’ a harsh voice called from the other side of the hanger its voice amplified over the distance. A shrivelled figure in some sort of flying throne hovered towards them, at the sight of the creature the shipmaster released Ben and bowed in front on it.
‘A human here? How?’
‘Demons, they stole the Brute’s phantom. We are_’
‘You will hound them to the end of time. You ‘must’ not let them retreat to their home world. Such a task should be a trifle to someone of your stature.’
‘And this insect?’ nodding towards the broken marine.
‘I will take him to high charity for questioning. I assure you Elite he will suffer. Now redeem your incompetence. Destroy the Demons’ The shrivelled figure slammed his fist on the side of his throne. Ben could not hold on and he passed into unconsciousness and into enemy hands.