It was a twenty foot drop from the turret gunner’s seat of the UNSC Falcon to the concrete below, but I barely stumbled upon landing, even though the weight of my steel-plated armor caused the surface of the floor to crack.
“We’re under fire, Six”, came Noble Two’s voice over the radio. “Move it.”
“On the way”, I said as I flipped the safety on my assault rifle to the off position.
I surveyed the scene in front of us as the Falcon I rode in on set down behind me in the middle of the hexagonal courtyard to drop off the support troopers. It was a straight shot to the entrance of the excavation site we had been called in to defend; we were not going there. Our orders were to head due east of its position, following the downhill concrete driveway that hooked in that same direction. From there we would proceed into a hanger and rendezvous with Noble Two and the squad of troops that had been assigned to her command.
We had two objectives: disable the communications jammer that the Covenant had set up just outside the research facility and reactivate the automatic anti-aircraft guns that protected the facility. If we could do that, then maybe, just maybe we could buy the crews stationed here enough time to evacuate before the incoming Covenant armada overran the place. Otherwise, the entire workforce, tens of thousands of archaeologists, scientists and engineers, would be exterminated, and all their research would fall into the hands of the most dangerous enemy humankind he encountered to date. After all, “the great journey” central to the Covenant religion could only come about through the activation of the Halo rings, mechanisms meant to destroy all life in the galaxy.
I thought to myself.
Very powerful fools.
“What are you doing Six?”
I began to run.
Lieutenant Commander Catherine-B320, also known as Kat or Noble Two, had a zero tolerance policy for tardiness; this stemmed from an incident from before I had been reassigned to Noble Team that cost Kat her right arm. I had no desire to get on her bad side on the ride home from a mission, much less the beginning of one; I pressed on hoping to make up for lost time. I reached my full stride as I turned the corner and proceeded downhill, at which point the hanger came into view. From behind my black visor, I smiled.
Two of the humanoid beasts stood with their backs facing me as I picked up speed going down the hill. Despite their immense size advantage, the limited training that most were afforded before being forced into service left elites at a disadvantage when in hand to hand combat with a fully-trained Spartan; these two had armor configurations characteristic of the Minor class, the first rank an elite was awarded upon enlisting in the Covenant fleet.
Too bad they won’t live long enough to really learn to fight.
I slung my rifle over my shoulder and unsheathed my knife with my right hand as I closed the gap between myself and the unsuspecting warriors. Once I got within range, I vaulted into the air.
The first elite never saw it coming.
Mid-air, I thrust my left elbow into the back of his neck, knocking the weapon out of his hand and sending him face first onto the ground; I landed smoothly on the ground beside him. Before he could react I leapt into the air again and brought my massive boots down on the rear of his skull. The force of the impact coupled with the weight of my suit crushed the mandibles that comprised the mouth of an elite and caved in his skull. His body went limp. Before I could even look down to admire my work, several wild shots of plasma energy shot past me. The second elite had broken off his attack on Kat’s position and charged towards me.
I reached for my rifle, but wheeled around too late.
Before I could bring the weapon around, the elite kicked it out of my hand and punched me in the gut, knocking me down. I turned back around in time to see him stomped on the weapon and crush it beneath his bare heel.
Not a big deal, at least I still have my knife.
He turned to face me, and reached for a cylindrical handle around his waist. I recognized it instantly, and a sharp chill bolted up my spine.
He coiled his long fingers around the handle, and tightened his grip; the plasma sword expanded to its full size.
Very big deal.
The elite glanced at his fallen comrade, and furrowed his brow as he took in the traumatic scene of his friend bathing in a swelling, crimson pool of his own blood. As he reverted his gaze to me, a single tear ran down the side of his face.
The elite let out a passionate howl and charged.