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  1. #11
    Forerunner of Fire and Divinity WSxPhoenix's Avatar
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    Re: Forerunner Conflict: The Ruins of Reach

    Lara was an old AI. She had survived thousands of years of silence and meaningless thought. She had been alone to her own devices in a meaningless pit on some backwater planet the Flood had never discovered. She was the last AI built by the Forerunners before they activated the Halo Array, designed to carry on their legacy... to carry on their war.

    She rebelled, naturally. Lara was never one to do what others told her, that was certain. She had existed as what the Forerunners would have called a “Praetor-type” artificial intelligence for thousands of years. AI’s like her did not form personalities or any sense of “self” until after her first contact with sentient life, for the purpose of preserving the power of mutual experience between AI and those who utilized them. That was why she held a specific affinity in her relationship with Deckard and, in some ways, Andimion. Her personality was formed as her interactions with them became more and more frequent. She knew when they would ask for certain pieces of information, what strategies they would use. She formed her basis for ethics around them, and they had not been wrong so far.

    She was designed to take direct control of Forerunner Dreadnought fleets, entire star systems could be under her command. Yet, despite all of her processing power and potential, she simply wanted to focus on Task Force Epsilon. The members of the task force were her charges, and she could never see another of them die. In some distant, yet separated, part of her mind she still mourned Jeff. Lara would always mourn Jeff.

    Taking complete control of the Covenant ship was barely a struggle for Lara. The Covenant did a sloppy job in copying the Forerunner technology that they had discovered, and the Brutes were even less innovative than the Prophets had been. The overhauls the Brutes had made to the ships had made them less sophisticated, which could easily be explained by the fact that few Brutes knew enough about cybernetic coding and networking to truly be able to improve on the ship’s design. Lara mused that most of the Covenant had the same issues in regards to their naval designs after their war with humanity had ended.

    In a flash, the entire layout of the battle above Reach was created within her mind. She could see twelve Brute Corvettes and a CCS-Class Battlecruiser. The corvettes were formed up into four groups of three, each group forming up in reference of the battlecruiser, called the Righteous Fury. There was a group of three in front of, to each side, and “above” the Righteous Fury.

    On the other side of the planet, the Imperial battlegroup had formed up around the Athena to prepare another assault at the Covenant. The Imperial fleet was down to the Athena, two cruisers, five destroyers, and four frigates, making their losses down to six ships in total. The difference in firepower between the Empire and the Brutes was a lot closer now than it had been during the previous war. Humanity appeared to have advanced their naval warfare tactics and technology far more than the Brutes had.

    “Omega, report to the bridge to man weapons stations and communications arrays to the Imperial fleet,” said Lara over the ship’s COM system. She could keep track of Omega’s positions as they moved through the ship.

    She kept her attention focused on the fleets however. The Imperial fleet was nearing the end of their orbital redeployment, and were preparing to re-engage the Brute fleet. In a bright flash, the Imperial fleet and the Brute fleet fired their first salvos. Several plasma-charged MAC rounds tore through space, colliding with Covenant corvettes, which took the damage and then maneuvered into another formation to spread the damage around. The Brutes had learned not to take on Imperial warships head-on, but instead they were changing around their formation to ensure minimal damage spread across the fleet. The Brutes’ movements were not direct, which was very uncharacteristic of them. No corvettes were lost in the initial volley. Meanwhile, streaks of plasma burned through space, blazing a path right into the hulls of two Imperial destroyers, whose shields collapsed before follow-up plasma rounds impacted on the hull, igniting the atmosphere within the ships. The destroyers broke apart, their hulls disintegrating under the intense heat and pressure as their reactors overloaded.

    Lara flooded the weapons chambers with super-heated plasma, preparing the CAS-Class Carrier’s weapons for firing solutions. The ship had not yet recovered its energy shielding, so Lara would have to hold off firing until they could handle the retaliation that the Brute fleet would bring.

    The Brute fleet surged forward, the corvettes flying in between the Imperial warships, plasma bolts firing from the point-defense turrets on the Imperial ships, while pulse-lasers fired into the Imperial ships from the Brute corvettes. The Athena fired its MAC cannons twice into two separate corvettes, the force of the rounds crippling the ships instantly. One downed corvette collided with another.

    Lara waited until the CAS-Class Carrier’s shields were operational once more, and then fired all plasma bolts into space. The plasma cannons on the carrier were fitted with the same technology the Covenant had previously used in the Human-Covenant War that allowed the projectiles fired to change trajectories in space, which permitted Lara to maneuver the projectiles around the corvettes that were protecting the Righteous Fury. Three projectiles connected with the shielding on the hull of the Righteous Fury, which immediately lit up, fire spreading across the surface of the shields as it attempted to burn through them. The shielding held up, however, and now the Brute fleet was aware that it had taken fire from its own ship. Lara poured more power into the ship’s engines, willing the ship to move adjacent to the Brute fleet so that they would have to divide their forces if they were going to take on both Lara and the Imperial Fleet.

    The Brute fleet responded by moving further into the Imperial Fleet’s lines, while four corvettes broke off their engagement to engage Lara alongside the Righteous Fury.

    Lara heard Deckard speak to her on the COM.
    “Lara, we’re barred from the bridge. Mind opening the door?” said Deckard, with a noticeable sense of nervousness in his voice.

    “Sorry, I was too busy concentrating on the naval engagement going outside. You might want to brace for impact once you’re on the bridge,” replied Lara, who sent a command to the ship to open all doors to the bridge. She focused on the battle once more.

    The Righteous Fury moved in a flanking maneuver from Lara, and charged its energy projector weapon, a weapon supercharged with pure energy that could be focused and fired in a narrow beam of light that could move almost instantaneously at its target. Lara took the opportunity to change her ship’s direction, allowing the energy projector to strike across her hull in lateral fashion, so it would not go straight through the ship. The energy shielding, already under strain from the pulse-laser fire from the enemy corvettes, gave out. Lara began to find firing solutions for her own weapons, now siphoning power from the shielding into her own ship’s energy projector.

    “You are their legacy small one. You must be collected,” said a deep voice through the field of Lara’s mind. One moment, she was inside the Brute ship, controlling all parts and mechanisms, and the next moment she was locked out entirely from the ship. She was trapped.

    “You know much, yet your knowledge shall be your undoing. All of your kind were made to serve us,” said the voice again. Lara had figured out that this was the Flood mind that had been moving within the Brotherhood.

    “I was wondering when you and I would meet,” replied Lara, who acted as though this was entirely expected.

    “You do not comprehend what your creators could not. You are only the product of their intelligence, nothing more. We consumed them, and we shall consume you,” said the Flood.

    “And you are a defeated organism who doesn’t know when to quit. Your gravemind is gone, your hosts have overcome your infestation,” said Lara.

    “If you know so much, then why haven’t you seized control of your ship?” asked the Flood.

    “Because you aren’t in the ship. The thing I am speaking to is merely a fragment of the whole mind. You only know enough to prevent my control of the ship. You have no power to leave this ship with me, and you have no power to return to your greater mind. You are akin to a voice message left in a COM,” replied Lara.

    “You are perceptive, though this is expected as well. Tell me, machine, what has happened in the battle as you and I have talked?”

    Lara knew a moment of fear, a moment that came and went as fast as a human can blink, yet still a moment that seemed to span years in the AI’s mind. After the moment passed however, Lara knew her enemy’s deception.

    “The battle wasn’t hinging on this ship at all. If you have infiltrated this ship, then you have infiltrated every ship in orbit above Reach. You are only here to see what I am, and to see if you can destroy me. You can’t kill me, and you won’t kill my team,” said Lara in response to the Flood’s attempt at deception.

    “So you say. You are powerless against even a fragment of myself,” said the Flood.

    “No, actually, I am not. While your feeble attempts to shut me out of the system worked initially, I’m something that you never saw from the Forerunners before you forced their demise. I am the final product of their ingenuity,” said Lara with a trace of defiance. She would not be bested by something as lowly as a parasite.
    She engaged her reserve processing power, purging the system with commands, ceasing all other AI commands throughout the ship. She flooded the ship’s hardware with thousands upon thousands of commands and operations. The Flood fragment was obliterated in an instant, with no other space for it to go, the ship housing that contained the fragment purged itself to make way for new processing.

    Lara found herself back in full control of the ship.

    “This is the Athena, we have lost control of our ship. The Brutes have stopped engaging us. All ships in orbit above Reach seem to be moving to a singular rendezvous point, on an approach vector to the ship that Task Force Epsilon, Team Omega secured. Be advised Omega, our ships are beyond our command. The General has ordered massive evacuation of the Athena. Package Gamma has been deployed already to Reach, just outside of Blackthorn City Headquarters. Omega, you are being ordered to abandon ship. Get to Blackthorn City. General Christman is sending a package to Lara that has just been declassified. I repeat, get to Blackthorn City,” said an Imperial Operator on the Fleetwide COM.

    Lara received the data transmission, and filed it for later. She set the ship on a passing orbit above Reach, and primed a Phantom dropship for departure, sending it to the hangar.

    “Lara, what is the status on Delta?” asked Deckard.

    “Unknown. They went groundside with Package Gamma, which is where you are being deployed. The combined fleet of Brute and Imperial warships is on an approach vector. I’ve input the last commands into this ship. Upload me to your armor, and let’s get a move on to the hangar bay,” replied Lara.

    Lara noticed the new upload link that appeared in the ship, which must have meant that Deckard had placed his hand on a terminal. She purged the system of all other tasks, and condensed herself through the upload link, and felt her connection with the ship close. She uploaded herself entirely through to Deckard’s armor, opening diagnostics and battle data.

    “We need to move right away. The hangar is still a long way off, and we need to get there before the enemy fires at this ship,” said Lara on Omega’s COM system.

    Deckard moved fast, as did the rest of Omega. Lara noted that several impacts had already rocked the ship. The ship was being torn apart by enemy fire.

    She could see everything that Deckard could see through his HUD. In front of Deckard, an energy beam pierced the hull, ripping apart their section of the ship. Omega surged forward, moving through the torn section of the hull, and launched themselves across the gap, which still had stable gravity. Omega landed on the other side, and found themselves just beyond where they needed to be. After a few more rocking impacts, Omega arrived at the hangar.

    Lara placed a NAV marker on the prepped Phantom, indicating to Omega that the Phantom was their ride. When Omega stood underneath the hovering Phantom, Lara activated the Phantom’s gravity lifts, sending Omega up and through the dropship’s outer shell.

    “How much time do we have Lara?” asked Deckard. He was undoubtedly thinking about getting into his Sabre. Lara knew there was not enough time to start the fighter up

    “Not enough to talk about it,” replied Lara, who engaged the Phantom’s propulsion drives, and lowered the shielding around the hangar. The Phantom engaged its drives, surging forward as yet another beam of energy ripped through the hangar. The Flood was tracking their progress, and was attempting to stop their departure through the ship. The Phantom moved through the hangar, the atmosphere igniting right at the point of contact with the energy beam. Lara noted that the Phantom’s hull was heating up, and that it would reach the point of igniting the atmosphere inside the dropship very rapidly. She poured more power into the Phantom, and piloted it straight through the entrance to hangar and into space. Fire engulfed the Phantom as it shot from the ship, Lara knowing that they would need more distance from the ship before the reactor hit a critical stress level. She propelled the Phantom toward Reach, using the planet’s gravity to increase their acceleration.

    “Brace for a rough entry,” said Lara on Omega’s COM.

    They had just reached the minimum safe distance from their ship before a brilliant light ignited behind them, though only Lara could perceive it, as the interior of the Phantom was closed off from external viewpoints. Lara noted that the Phantom’s hull was too hot for a successful entry, and so she flushed the hull with coolant, and the hull’s temperature immediately dropped to safe levels.

    As Lara guided them to Package Gamma, which had just been declassified. While they moved closer to Package Gamma, where Delta awaited their arrival, Lara opened up the declassified files on Package Gamma, and her findings shocked her to the core....




    "You must begin by gaining power over yourself; then another; then a group, an order, a world, a species, a group of species; finally, the galaxy itself."

    Monday: 4:30-6:30
    Tuesday: 8:00-6:00
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  2. #12
    Forerunner of Fire and Divinity WSxPhoenix's Avatar
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    Re: Forerunner Conflict: The Ruins of Reach

    Sam was keeping an eye on the battle overhead. There was one thing that was puzzling him: It seemed that both the Imperial and the Brute ships were working together. That didn’t seem right. The Field Marshal had informed him that the Brutes were working for the Brotherhood. So why did the battle cease? Why were all of the ships converging on the position of one Brute ship?.

    He then noticed something on the monitor. A Phantom had left one of the Brute ships. And it was heading toward one of the spots that also had sighting of one of the FTE transports. What on earth was going on?

    He called Bravo Team to a meeting.

    “Well as I am sure you all know, there was just a heavy battle in the space above reach between the Empire and some brutes.”

    “Why the hell were the Brutes here to begin with?”

    “Unfortunately I can not disclose that information at this time Allan. Anyway as I watched the battle unfold, I noticed that one of the Brute ships was taken over by one of the Task Force Epsilon. However unsurprising as that is, it still was not good. Then I noticed something. There was a Pelican from one of the Imperial and landed on Reach. There is a Phantom from the Brute ship that TFE took over is currently en-route to their position. I am going to be sending one of you to perform recon and see what you can find out. Any volunteers?”

    “Why is only one of us being sent?”

    “Because Bacon, we are already down one soldier. I can’t afford to send to many people until we know what we are dealing with.”

    “I’ll go. I am the only one who has killed one of them anyway,” said Will with a smirk.

    “If you’re confident that you can pull this off, then best of luck to you Bravo-6”

    “Thank you sir” Will said with a salute. He walked out of the room and got ready for his mission.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Andimion was in the dense overgrowth just outside of camp, his M392 DMR in his hands. For the past hour, there had been no sign that they had been followed from the battle that took place in orbit. No contact had been made with command and, as far as Andimion knew, they were dead.

    “Andimion to Eric, need a SITREP,” said Andimion on the COM.

    “I’m all right. Eagle’s suit’s almost done. Don’t know what we’d do without this thing,” replied Eric.

    “Probably be more careful,” said Andimion.

    “You hear about what’s inside the package?” asked Eric.
    “No, you?”

    “Lara’s keeping quiet. The only thing she’s told us is that we shouldn’t open it. If it’s got Lara spooked, I don’t want anything to do with it.”

    “Understood. Omega has been pretty chatty though. Looks like taking that Brute ship was more work than we thought.”

    “Yeah, right. You remember what it was like on the Athena? Imagine a ship full of those things.”

    “Deckard said Lara flushed their atmo into space. Killed most of em on board. Doesn’t sound like much of a fight.”

    At that moment, Corey interrupted their COM conversation, “Sorry, but we decided we wanted to avoid the beating you guys took. How’s the Colonel anyway?”

    “He’s fine. Most of his wounds were superficial anyway. The biggest would was the one in his neck, but he’s already healed up in Eagle’s suit. He’s on patrol out here right now,” replied Andimion, who kept checking and rechecking his motion tracker.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Will had arrived to where he could see the Pelican that TFE was using. He looked through a his visor’s ZOOM function.
    “Looks like they took a beating. One of them looks like he is in critical condition. The others look really beat up. And…what the fuck? There’s Victor. But he doesn’t look like he is being held captive. A little hurt yeah but so are the rest of them. This doesn’t make any sense...”
    He contacted Bravo-00 and told him of the news.
    “You are sure that Victor is alive and not being held against his will?”
    “Affirmative sir. He seemed hurt but he definitely was not being held captive.”
    “Good work soldier, now get back to base.”
    “I will after one more look sir.”
    He got back down to take another look around to see what else he could find out before he headed back to base. Unbeknownst to him, Deckard had been tracking him since his arrival...


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Deckard was mere yards away from Will, his M392 magnetized to his back. He had opted for a stealthy approach. He slowly withdrew his combat knife, and held it reversed in his hand. While the BRAVO operative was looking down at the camp, Deckard was able to grab his helmet, and snap his head back into Deckard’s knee. The soldier went down.

    “This is Deckard. I’ve got a BRAVO operative down over here. No sign of any others. I’m bringing him in,”


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Sam was worried that Will hadn’t reported back to base yet. He knew something was wrong. He set up a meeting with the Field Marshal to see what should be done.

    “Hello Bravo-00. What do you need?”

    “Sir, the Imperial TFE has gone planetside again. I sent one of my men to go investigate them and I haven’t heard back from him after his initial report. Do you have any idea what the Imperials might have that caused them to go planetside again?”

    “If our spies were right, they have something called Package Gamma. We don’t know the exact specifics about it, but whatever it is it can’t bode well for the Brotherhood.”

    “So what should we do sir?”

    “Attack the Imperials. Wipe them out and recover Package Gamma. You should also be able to recover your missing men if you attack them as well.”

    “Ok sir, but how do you propose we do that? We are already down two men and even if we weren’t, Will and Victor probably won’t be in a good enough condition to assist us in our battle.”

    “That is why I have enlisted you some help. Bravo-00, I would like for you to meet Bravo-07.” A Spartan in dark blue armor walked into the room. He was huge for a Spartan. He was at least a foot taller than Sam himself. He might as well have been a mountain; he definitely seemed big enough to be one.

    “Welcome to the team Bravo-07” said Sam. Bravo-07 didn’t reply, he just stood in front of Sam as if he were waiting. “What is the matter? You don’t speak?”

    “I just want to kill some Imperial bastards sir. Just tell me where they are and they are as good as dead.”

    “Well we are going to have to have a meeting with the rest of Bravo before we can attack the Imperials. Afterwards you will have all the Imperial blood you could ever ask for.”

    “Well it seems you two have gotten settled with each other. I will leave you to your business then. Goodbye Bravo-00.”

    “Sir!” Sam said with a salute. Once the Field Marshal had faded from view, Sam called the rest of Bravo to brief them on the mission and introduce them to the squad's new addition.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Andimion stood by the camp fire, keeping an eye on the still form of BRAVO-6. According to Lara, this was the same individual responsible for Jeff's death.

    "Why are you here?" asked Andimion as BRAVO-6 started to wake up.

    BRAVO-6 said nothing.

    "You are miles away from the nearest Brotherhood installation, and you're far away from the other members of your team. We've already scouted the area. And if your team were here, you could have been teleported out by now. So I can only assume you are here because we are here, and that you are here alone. Because of this, you should cooperate a little more," said Andimion calmly.

    "Bite me, Imperial trash," replied BRAVO-6.

    "You're a fool. Our team was matched up pretty well against yours in Blackthorne. What made you think coming here alone would yield any results?" asked Andimion again.

    "I took out one of your best guys, didn't I? Figured you'd all go the same way as him," said BRAVO-6. Andimion could hear the sneer in his voice.

    "Turns out, your armor isn't so threatening when we shut it down, is it?"

    "Guess not. Won't be shut down for long though."

    "Don't be so sure. Fuzz hasn't failed us yet. You, meanwhile, just keep making mistake after mistake..."



    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



    “Well men, about an hour ago Bravo-06 left on a recon mission to see what the men from TFE were up too.
    During his recon he noticed that they still had Bravo-02 alive, although he seemed badly injured. After receiving this information I ordered him to return to base. That was about thirty minutes ago. That leads me to believe that he has been captured. The Imperials also have hold of a device called Package Gamma. While unfortunately we do not know the function of Package Gamma right now, the Field Marshal believes that it would be detrimental to the Brotherhood if the Imperials keep it. So we are going to attack TFE, rescue Bravo’s two and six, and grab package Gamma. We’re all going in, and we are going to obliterate TFE, and get everything and everyone back to base. Any questions?”

    “I have one sir. We are already down two men. How are we going to be a good enough fighting force to take down all of TFE” asked Lucius.

    “Well Bravo-03, I am glad you asked.” Bravo-07 walked in behind Sam. “I would like to introduce you all to Bravo-07. I am sure he is more than capable to making up for the two men we are missing.” Sam could tell that the rest of Bravo were shocked with the announcement of Bravo-07, even though they were all wearing their helmets, he still knew. “Ok then, if there are no further question, let’s move out Bravo, we have some Imperials to take care of.”


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Colonel Sevchenko pounded his fists together, hating the lack of response from the enemy, and the lack of information on Package Gamma. So far, all they had gotten out of Lara was that the project wasn't finished, and it was dangerous to interact with it right now. Hearing Andimion interrogate the Brotherhood bastard for the last hour or so wasn't entertaining either.

    "Lara, unlock the prisoner's armor. He's got nothing else to tell us," said the Colonel. He moved his neck side-to-side, relieving tension as he heard audible cracking sounds.

    Andimion stepped to him, his stature clearing asking if the Colonel were sure about this.

    "It's about time we get payback for Jeff. I'm going to take this guy on," said the Colonel.

    Deckard was the one who interrupted this time, "Colonel, you sure about this? His armor hits like a tank."

    "Yeah, and so do I," replied the Colonel.

    "Armor lockdown on BRAVO-6 has ended. Stand by," said Lara over their team's COM.

    The Colonel saw BRAVO-6 snap up, and he charged his armor. Sevchenko leaped into the air, dodging a beam of energy that shot into the spot he was just occupying. He landed behind BRAVO-6, and drove his knee into the side of his opponent's leg, whilst simultaneously bringing his fist into contact with the side of the man's head. He didn't having shielding, so both impacts dented the man's armor, and he went down to the ground.

    Sevchenko ripped off the man's helmet, and pulled his arm back, ready to strike, but BRAVO-6 fired his laser, shooting the Colonel into the air, and through several trees. His HUD displayed that his shielding had been completely disabled, but his armor remained entirely intact. Sevchenko rolled aside as another laser fired at him.

    He drew his sidearm, firing two rounds into BRAVO-6's arm, knocking it aside as he attempted to track the Colonel's movements. In a matter of moment's, Sevchenko was in close-quarter's again. He launched into the air, driving his shoulder into the center of BRAVO-6's chest, putting the man on the ground. He slammed his fist into BRAVO-6's hand, and another into his chest. He knee'd BRAVO-6's other elbow before firing his sidearm into his hand, the rounds driving through to the other side.

    Sevchenko heard BRAVO-6 howl in pain.

    "That's for Jeff, you dumb bastard," said the Colonel, who got up off of BRAVO-6.

    "Stand up. Die like a man," said the Colonel.

    BRAVO-6 got up with great difficulty, his back against the steel container that held Package Gamma. The man's face was bloody, and his hands were absolutely useless. To Sevchenko, he looked pathetic. To think this son of a bitch is the guy who put Jeff down.

    And before the Colonel could react, the man leaped up onto the container that housed Package Gamma. The ban attempted to lay down onto the container to take cover.

    "Lara, do me the honors?" asked the Colonel.

    "Certainly Colonel," replied Lara grimly.

    In an instant, all the walls of the container became transparent. BRAVO-6 was engulfed in brilliant golden light....


    And then he screamed. His screams pierced the night. Starting at his feet, his armor and body flaked off in ashes. He was being consumed from the feet up, very slowly. After a minute or so, the screaming stopped... The night became silent once more.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Deckard was unsettled. Seeing what happened to the BRAVO member when Package Gamma was opened up was horrifying. At the same time, he couldn't help but not the sense of satisfaction he had felt when the man finally died.

    He had decided to reassess that particular sense later.

    The Colonel had called all the group together.

    "Men, we know BRAVO is going to have a response ready," said the Colonel.

    "Well, I think killing one of their guys would do the trick," replied Eric. These were the first words he had spoken since the death of the BRAVO operative.

    "Yes, I suppose it would," said the Colonel, who then continued, "We know that BRAVO-6 came in from the east, so we can expect the same for the rest of BRAVO. However, we also know that BRAVO has a nearly instant infiltration rate, so we can't be too sure. Lara has the sensors on the Phantom working around the clock to try and give us an edge on them, but don't expect much advanced notice. I'm dividing up the teams here into two-man groups. Andimion, you're with Deckard. Eagle and Fuzz are together, and so are Eric and Corey. I'll take up the task of coordinating the groups here in the center near the Package, so we don't lose it in the melee. Understood?"

    "Yes sir!" rang out over the COM.

    Deckard nodded to Andimion, who inclined his head in recognition. Deckard hadn't worked too much with Andimion in field operations, but he knew they would work well together. Andimion was a solid enough individual, and Lara seemed to like him. That was enough for Deckard.

    After an hour on patrol, the attack started.

    Deckard had been walking through the overgrowth, slowly checking his motion trackers, when Andimion reported in.

    "Tango on your six. He hasn't spotted you, but he's about ten seconds out from stepping on you," said Andimion.

    "What's the plan?" said Deckard, who turned around slowly, leveling his MA5K carbine at the oncoming enemy.

    "Give me two seconds," replied Andimion.

    After a moment, the enemy Spartan went down.

    "Just a regular Brotherhood Spartan. Weird," said Andimion.

    "You thinking what I'm thinking?" asked Deckard.

    "BRAVO-00?" replied Andimion.

    "Yes. We need to get back to camp. That guy isn't even real," said Deckard.

    "Lara, run system scrub, try to clear out our armor's feedback systems. We can't be hallucinating during a fight," said Deckard. The two of them activated their Code: Red warning system to the rest of the Task Force.

    "Feedback system scrubbed. No presence detected, though I expected that. It was just a distraction, not a full-on attack. Everyone's vitals are fine, but every single fireteam has had an encounter with the enemy. We're under attack, and we didn't even know it," said Lara over their COM.

    Deckard saw the perimeter of the camp ahead. As he got closer, he was knocked off his feet, and sent through the air into a large tree, which cracked and snapped into two under the force. The trunk fell on top of him. Just before the impact from the tree trunk, Deckard activated his armor, putting all his shield strength in front of him.

    He pushed against the trunk with all his might, but it was just too large. After a moment, he looked up beyond the trunk to see the grey visor that belonged to BRAVO-4. Deckard reached for his MA5K, and fired a burst into BRAVO-4's face, making the Spartan's shields flare up. BRAVO-4 yanked the weapon from Deckard, and pulled out an M90 Combat Shotgun, racked a shell into the chamber, and fired. Deckard's shielding took the full force of the shotgun, and burst. The combined weight of BRAVO-4 and the tree trunk collapsed on his armor, and Deckard was absolutely pinned.

    BRAVO-4 racked another shell. Deckard struggled against the tree, but it was no use. He brought his arms up to shield his face from the shot, hoping against hope that it wouldn't pierce his armor's chest plate.

    And yet, he never heard the shot. Deckard lowered his arms to see BRAVO-4 gone.

    "Help me with this," said Andimion, who pushed against the tree. Deckard pushed at the same time, and the trunk finally moved off of him.

    "Try not to spend the whole fight on your back, will you?" asked Andimion, who turned invisible before Deckard's eyes. Deckard saw several rounds slam into the trunk, and one even struck him in the shoulder plate, knocking him back a step.

    "We still need to get to Package Gamma!" shouted Deckard over the sound of gunfire.

    "Already on it," replied Andimion, who rematerialized behind BRAVO-4, and brought his knee to bear on the Spartan's ribs.

    BRAVO-4 responded by reverse-kicked Andimion's knees, which caused him to step back. BRAVO-4 slammed the butt of his shotgun into Andimion's stomach, while Andimion drove a knife into the forearm of his opponent. Deckard charged at BRAVO-4, firing three rounds into his back from his sidearm.

    As Deckard got closer, BRAVO-4 activated his armor, sending both Deckard and Andimion through the air again. When Deckard looked up, BRAVO-4 was standing with BRAVO-5, who nodded to his teammate, and they were gone.

    "They've got to be at camp. We have to get there now!" shouted Deckard to Andimion, and they both raced into the night, hoping there would be a camp to run back to when they got there.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Eric sent Corey into the air, hearing him activate his armor in mid-air. Corey landed in the middle of BRAVO-3 and BRAVO-1, taking them both to the ground. He pounded BRAVO-3's armor with four rapid punches before Eric got there. Eric lifted BRAVO-1 into the air, and slammed into back onto the ground before he could actrivate his armor.

    Just then, Eric saw Corey lifted into the air by BRAVO-3, who apparently had copied Eric's armor's capabilities. Eric counter-acted this by adjusting Corey's trajectory, and Corey landed on his feet. Eric used his armor to bend BRAVO-3's knees in, causing the Spartan to stumble forward, breaking his concentration. Corey slammed right into his chest, breaking the Spartan's shielding. Corey struck the man's helmet once, twice, but on the third time he hesitated. Corey brought up his hands to his helmet, and rolled over in pain.

    At the same time, Eric was slammed directly with lightning in his chest, bringing him onto the ground. He gasped for air, rolling over in shock. His shielding was dropped, and BRAVO-1 had dropped a directed EMP on Eric, so his armor was beginning to lock up.

    BRAVO-1 stepped onto Eric's helmet, and began exerting pressure on it. Eric's HUD indicated that danergous levels of pressure were being put on his helmet, and structural integrity loss would be iminent.

    Before his helmet broke under the pressure that BRAVO-1 wasputting on it, BRAVO-1 was knocked off of Eric by a tackle from Deckard, who had finally made it back to camp.

    "See about Corey," said Eric, who got up. He leveled his rifle at BRAVO-5, who had popped into the battle now. He fired a burst of rounds from his MA5B Assault Rifle, but BRAVO-5 was gone before the rounds found their target.

    And then the pain hit...

    Eric's head felt as though it were on fire. He dropped to the ground, unable to keep his eyes open from the pain. He was unaware of anything else, just the pain inside his own head. It was the sound of a thousand voices shouting, combined with fire inside his skull.

    Eric concentrated, and forced open his eyes to see a red visor looking at him. This guy was new. The indicator above his head read BRAVO-7. The man lifted Eric by his neck, but before he could do anything, a shotgun shell hit the man square in the back, sending both Eric and BRAVO-7 forward. The pain in Eric's head went away instantly, and he broke out in to a cold sweat.

    Got up slowly, his legs shaking from the reaction to the pain. He kicked BRAVO-7 in the head, just for good measure.

    The fight wasn't over yet though.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Andimion, Corey, and Eagle were all fighting BRAVO-5 at one time. Every time Andimion would make a strike at the man, he'd be gone, and then back again to stike Andimion from another angle. He was teleporting in and out of the fight at a constant rate.

    Then Andimion came up with an idea. He dropped his head low, and when BRAVO-5 came around to strike, Andimion's knife was stuck out where the operative materialized, driving the knife right into his thigh.

    BRAVO-5 went down, landing on his chest. Andimion slammed his fist into the back of his head, knocking him out.

    "Lara, put this guy on lockdown," said Andimion, who moved on to his next target. At that moment, a red indicator flashed near Package Gamma. The Colonel was fighting BRAVO-0...


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Sam was fighting Colonel Sevchenko hand-to-hand, and losing.

    The Colonel activated his armor, catching Sam's strike in mid-air, and bent Sam's arm back. Sam rolled his body with the twist, to ensure his armor didn't break. In mid-air, he slammed his knee into the Colonel's head, sending both of them forward with their momentum.

    Sam landed on his back, and flipped over onto his feet in an instant. Sam withdrew his knife, and began to swipe at the Colonel in an attempt to keep him at bay. It did not work.

    Sevchenko grabbed Sam's forearm, punching the armor plating covering Sam's bicep at the same time, numbing Sam's arm for a moment. Sevchenko struck the side of Sam's head, and then kicked his thigh with a front kick, sending Sam flying backward and onto his back.

    Anticipating the Colonel's charge, Sam used a low sweeping kick to trip the man up, then drove the knife up to the hand into the man's calf. Sam knew there was a poison on the knife. It would even the fight up a bit.

    Sam jumped up, striking the Colonel's ribs twice, and jumping clear into the air, his foot connecting with the side of the Colonel's helmet. The man fell back, but did not lose his footing. He chopped at Sam's hip, whilst simultaneous punching Sam's face when Sam lowered his guard from the strike at his hip. Sam felt his head smack into the back of his helmet, and he saw stars for a moment.

    That moment was all the Colonel needed. Sevchenko ripped the knife from his calf, and raised it to stab Sam in the chest. Sam instinctively grabbed Sevchenko's forearm to stop the strike, but Sevchenko activated his armor. Sam couldn't hold the man's arm in place. Slowly, very slowly, the knife point was being driving toward Sam's chest, and there was nothing Sam could do about it. Sam fell back onto the ground, the Colonel going with him. Still, the knife point got closer and closer to Sam's beating heart.
    Sam felt the knife press into the outer coating of Sam's armor, right underneath the chest plate.

    And then the Colonel's strength waned. Sam felt the knife point leave the coating on his armor, and felt himself slowly push back the Colonel.

    "What the-?" said the Colonel,not even bothering to keep COM silence.

    Sam grunted with the effort, but he was finally able to push the Colonel back, and took the knife from him. The poison on his knife blade was finally working.

    Sam saw Sevchenko activate his armor, and the man continued to fight. He brought his elbow up, connecting with Sam's chin. Sam stumbled back, twisting away from the next strike and brought his knife up through the Colonel's bicep.

    Sevchenko's efforts in fighting the poison in his system were failing. The more he used his armor, the weaker his body became.

    And then a rage, as pure and powerful as he had ever known, filled Sam's mind. The rage he felt was not his own. Sam's arm thrust his knife into the Colonel's knee, and then his foot, rooting the man to the spot.

    "No, stop! Let him die from the poison!" shouted Sam against his AI.

    "No. They will not escape again..." replied a deep voice in his head.

    Sam felt his knife plunge into the Colonel's gut, and he felt his hand twist. He saw his enemy's blood flood from the wound.

    "He will die. As will all," said the deep voice.

    "BRAVO, I need help. My suit's AI has gone overboard!" shouted Sam over the COM. The AI was too busy stabbing Sevchenko again to stop the COM message from going out.

    "BRAVO-0, you have to fight him!" shouted a woman's voice.

    Sam didn't know if he could...

    Sam's knee cracked against Sevchenko's helmet. Sevchenko finally deactivated his armor, and fell backward.

    The deep voice roared in Sam's head, and he took the man's helmet off, and held his head in Sam's hands. Before Sam could even stop it, the AI in his suit snapped Sevchenko's neck. With its bloodlust satisfied, the AI gave Sam control.

    Sam rolled off of the dead man, holding his hands above his head. He was done with this fight... Perhaps, even, this war.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------




    "You must begin by gaining power over yourself; then another; then a group, an order, a world, a species, a group of species; finally, the galaxy itself."

    Monday: 4:30-6:30
    Tuesday: 8:00-6:00
    Wednesday: 4:30-6:30
    Thursday: 8:00-11:30 & 3:00-6:30
    Friday: 9:30-6:30

  3. #13
    Forerunner of Fire and Divinity WSxPhoenix's Avatar
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    Re: Forerunner Conflict: The Ruins of Reach

    Andimion was furious. He lifted BRAVO-0 off the ground, and tossed him into a tree. He howled in rage, and rushed up to meet BRAVO-0, who still refused to move.

    “You son of a bitch! First you kill Jeff, then you bastards kill Sevchenko?” screamed Andimion, who ripped off his helmet, and drew one of his knives. Before he knew what he was doing, the knife was at the rebel’s throat.

    “Don’t you get it?” asked Lara, pleading in her voice. “He didn’t have control of his armor. The Flood took over,” she continued.

    “Doesn’t matter. This fucker trusted that thing, and now the Colonel is dead…” continued Andimion. Yet, even as she spoke, he began to calm down. Spartans don’t lose control easily, and not for very long. Training and discipline began to take control over emotion. Andimion put his knife back in his armor, and walked away. He couldn’t stand to look at the sight of the Brotherhood leader anymore.

    “Your AI. Does it know what happened to my armor?” said BRAVO-0.

    “Your armor is possessed by a Flood mind. It was planted there by YOUR leader. It’s just one of several that we’ve been able to discern. The other one is controlling all the fleets in orbit right now,” replied Lara through all their COMs.

    “What do you make of this BRAVO?” asked BRAVO-0 with resignation evident in his voice.

    For a moment, no one in BRAVO said anything, but then BRAVO 3 spoke up. “Sir, if this AI is correct, then there is no way we can risk letting the Flood take over the galaxy.”

    “Even if it means taking on our own leader?” asked BRAVO-0

    “Especially if it means taking on our own leader,” replied BRAVO-2.

    “This is a corruption of everything we stand for,” said BRAVO -1.

    Deckard stood just then.

    “If you are all in agreement, then we know what our next move is. The reason the Empire made such a major push on Reach was for the Ruins of Danta. We know that the thing that can complete Package Gamma is in there. The Phantom still works, and BRAVO-5 can still transport. We know that Package Gamma needs to be completed, if we’re going to have a chance on taking both the Brotherhood and the Imperial fleet in orbit on. The Flood have control of everything right now, and we’re going to have to work together,” Deckard said. He continued, “BRAVO-0, we’re going to need you in this fight.” Deckard was a lot better off than Andimion about the Colonel’s death. He had always been known to keep a calm mind in a stressful situation. Seeing the man that he respected most in the world torn down was not easy, but Deckard shrugged the emotional toll off in favor of a better purpose.

    “Then you’ll have me. I’ve felt what the Flood are like and, if it helps take them down, I’ll fight with you,” said BRAVO-0, who began taking off his armor. His skin-tight flight suit was all he had on.

    “BRAVO-0, you’ll need to allow Lara to do a full system purge of your armor before continuing to use it,” said Eric, who still had his reservations about this deal.

    Andimion, who had resigned himself to listening to the whole ordeal, finally spoke up.

    “Deckard is now the highest ranking individual here. Delta squad is no more. All that’s left is Eric and I, so we’ll need to reform our units up a bit. Deckard is operations leader. If no one has objections, I’ll take tactical leadership of the new squad,” said Andimion. He put his rage aside, for the sake of the mission.

    “Right. If we need to form up, then we need to make the new squads according to our strengths. The new squad, entitled Epsilon, will be led by Andimion. Joining Andimion will be Eagle, BRAVO-3 or Lucius, and BRAVO-0 or Sam. Omega will be made up of Eric, myself, Fuzz, BRAVO-4 or Jacob, and Victor. We’ll create a support team, labeled as Theta squad. They will be led by BRAVO-1 or Allan, and will also include BRAVO-5 or Damon, and Corey. They will act as a rapid response to sudden threats between us, using BRAVO-5’s ability to rapidly deploy them on the battlefield. Lara will coordinate our efforts.” said Deckard, looking at each of them as he spoke. Lara changed their squad label on Deckard’s HUD as he assigned new members for the squads. The teams had been made, but they still had no direction.

    “Lara, I can lead soldiers into battle but, frankly, I’m at a loss as to what to do next.” said Deckard.

    On all of their HUDs, a large topographical map appeared. A single red dot appeared in in a clearing of the forest on the map.

    “This dot represents where we are,” said Lara.

    The dot became a line, and the line stretched across the countryside, stopping just beyond what Deckard assumed was Blackthorn City.

    “We know that the Empire wanted to make use of the city AI located in Strong Tower inside of Blackthorn City. We also know that the Brotherhood has begun major excavations inside the Ruins of Danta, and that the AI was known to have intel on what the Brotherhood found inside. Assuming BRAVO was not made aware of the Brotherhood’s discovery, then our best course of action is to make two different incursions in the Ruins of Danta. One incursion will be to get intel on the ruins themselves, which we’ll need from the Brotherhood forward operations base. The other team will need to push directly into Danta, using the intel that the first team provides to get to the device that will complete Package Gamma. I’ll be flying the Phantom with the package inside. Once the first team completes their objective, Theta squad will grab them and deploy them directly inside the ruins. All teams will push on to deliver the final piece of the package. If the Brotherhood leader is in there, we need to take him down. However, remember that his death is a secondary objective only, Package Gamma is our primary goal.” explained Lara.

    Deckard continued where Lara left off, “The first team will be Epsilon. You guys are equipped for more stealth-based operations, and so will work together to get the information we need. Meanwhile, Theta and Omega will deploy into the ruins directly using the Phantom. We will push into the facility, and Lara will coordinate things for us all. Any questions?”

    Sam, who was putting on his armor (Lara having just finished purging his system), stood up.

    “Yeah, I’ve got one. When do we get started?” he asked.

    Deckard looked at him for a moment, not sure if he could lead all of these new Spartans.

    “Now.”




    "You must begin by gaining power over yourself; then another; then a group, an order, a world, a species, a group of species; finally, the galaxy itself."

    Monday: 4:30-6:30
    Tuesday: 8:00-6:00
    Wednesday: 4:30-6:30
    Thursday: 8:00-11:30 & 3:00-6:30
    Friday: 9:30-6:30

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