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Tau Chi II: Ch. 4 - Genesis
Posted By: Myth
Date: 10 January 2009, 8:33 am

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Tau Chi II, Centauri System
Battle Group Prophet's Blade
Aboard: Confession's Price

Sarkmere Talom'ee gazed sullenly at the dilapidated hanger bay of the Confession's Price. A human capital ship had put two of their kinetic rounds directly through his shields, leaving the heavy slugs to collapse two entire sections of the central launch bay. He had left the Bridge to inspect the damage for himself with Commander Kadan'ee at his side.

       Dozens of Covenant soldiers lay strewn about the bloodied deck, torn apart by the internal explosions of the countless shuttles destroyed by the humans' precision firing. Sark stared at the limp form of one of his brightest lieutenants; the Sangheili's intestines spilling out due the absence of the warrior's lower half.

       Only a fraction of the carrier's hanger bay was operational, nearly crippling the support craft for its main purpose. Sark seethed with hidden anguish, and burned with unexpressed anger. Under his command the Prophet's Blade had obliterated four entire human battle groups, in addition to crippling several others, only to have them wound his flagship in their death throes.

       Only five UNSC capital ships remained intact, among them the human supercarrier that had perforated his ship's defenses. An unforeseen amount of the humans' interceptor craft had limited his abilities to board the enemy ships effectively, and thus allowed the surviving vessels to retreat to the far side of the planet.

       Sark had withheld his forces from pursuing them, instead electing to allow the orbital path to deliver them back to him when his fleet had regrouped and rearmed. He crossed his arms in front of his chest and sighed loud enough for Kaln to detect. The Special Operations Commander turned to address him.

       Sark spoke first. "It is an alarming reminder." The Sangheili officer said quietly.

       "What would that be, Supreme Commander?" Kaln asked, puzzled at Sark's chosen reaction to the carnage.

       "That a race so seemingly weak and barbaric can inflict this measure of destruction upon the most powerful and technologically advanced war machine in the galaxy." Sark had not lifted his gaze from the mutilated corpse of the Elite lying at his feet.

       Kaln looked to consider saying something, and after a moment of thought, committed to it. "...The Prophets feed us fallacies that the humans crumple beneath the might of the Covenant, withering before the blast of holy fire…refusing to defend themselves, willingly baring their necks to our swords so that they may be cleansed…

       "Tell that to the thousands of our own lying dead on the dozens of worlds that the humans have fought defending to the last man…they are the greatest adversary the Covenant has encountered in its history, a united front of the brightest races of the galaxy are held at bay by a single species dealing losses upon us that are not matched even by the Sangheili-San'Shyuum Wars." Kaln looked away from his comrade bashfully. "Forgive my tongue, Excellency. Every Sangheili lost, is a loss felt, and a friend lost…"

       "I understand perfectly, Kaln. Such motivations drove me to commit the atrocities against the Jiralhanae aboard my decks." A glimpse of regret painted the expressions of Sark's face. "I fear that with Tartarus's rise to power within the Hierarchy of our Covenant…that perhaps my actions were…injudicious."

       "…I agree, Commander. With the Jiralhanae gaining positions of power, the murder of their soldiers under our orders may cause us grief in the near future. Despite my views of the Hierarchs and their ambitions, they are our ruling body, and defying them may very well mean death."

       "Politics will have to await our return to High Charity. We will finish the humans in this system and report to Imperial Admiral 'Jar Wattinr'ee's summons." Sark answered, storing his worries concerning the Covenant for later examination.

       "What did the Imperial Admiral ask?" Kaln asked. Xytan 'Jar Wattinr'ee, the commander of Sangheili Forces within the Covenant since the death of Tal Xanar'ee in the closing months of the 29th Age of Doubt.

       "Apparently Supreme Commander Vadam'ee of the Particular Justice is standing trial for high crimes against the Covenant, and 'Jar Wattinr'ee wanted his fleet masters present for the council."

       "So it begins…"

Aboard: UNSCDF Cerberus
Combat Information Center, TAC Bridge

Jeremy Hale clutched the edges of the terminal before him, gasping to replenish the air lost from his most recent fall to the deck. He tasted the metallic consistency of blood. He spat the crimson fluid to the deck and smeared it with his boot.

       A Covenant boarding craft had just slammed into the hull only a few meters above the Bridge view port. The result resembled a child picking up a toy and shaking it for all he's worth. Klaxons deafened him. More boarding ships had pursued them into the orbital path that carried them away from the Covenant dreadnoughts, with the intention of dispatching troops to gut the ships from the inside.

       Hale reached under the desk of his shattered console to a holster plastered to the underside of the station. He removed the sheathed pistol and strapped the device to his hip. The naval officer removed the M6C, dragging back the slid until it clicked sharply. He replaced the firearm and recovered a pair of twelve round magazines as well, clipping them to his belt.

       Hale opened a small cabinet and retrieved a D-DACT device. A Dismounted Data Automated Communications Terminal that would allow him to perform his duties away from his station. He synced the PDA with his display and stepped up, out of the Pit.

       Marines were barricading positions outside the Bridge entry points, overturning tables and dragging ballistic shielding into place. Hale ran past them, encountering throngs of similar groups performing identical duties. He traveled two decks up, and turned down a starboard corridor that released him near an Operations Room on the sixth deck.

       The room was set adjacent to the Marine Barracks and only a few dozen yards from the launch bays and armories. Several logistics officers sat behind terminals here, managing the small scale necessities of a ship as large as the Cerberus. A weapons locker was set into the far wall, its shield raised, revealing two BR55HB rifles lying in their casing.

       A long table ran the length of the room, littered with ballistic helmets and web gear belonging to the officers working the stations, their weapons, however, were nearby, strapped away under their shoulders.

       Hale's D-DACT beeped impatiently as his system forwarded him information. The message pertained to the names of the survivors of the Kai Sao operation.

O-3 HALE, J.
CONCERNING: Surviving members of surface team.
       3rd Battalion: 82nd Orbital Drop Marines
       JULIET: KIA

              Marine C306: E-7 Stormare, Ethan J.
              Marine E402: E-4 Holland, Andrew A.
              Marine E436: O-3 Bradley, Liam J.
              Marine B501: E-2 Hartley, Ryan A.
              Marine C203: E-2 Hayes, Darren C.
              Marine G107: E-3 Jones, Connor K.
              Marine B190: E-2 Sucre, Diego E.
              Marine C447: E-4 Chavez, Jonathon E. KIA
              Marine E129: E-2 Dominic, William G. KIA
              Marine G678: O-1 Canfield, Walter H. KIA

       Hale looked up from the display as the survivors filed into the operations room. Captain Bradley led the column, his pearl white ballistic armor blackened with grime. A battle-scarred helmet resided in the crook of his left arm.

       The others followed him in, adorned identically to Bradley, each of them smeared with the crimson blood of their dead teammates. Wolcott entered a few seconds later, removing his flight gear. The Marines sat around the table and looked expectantly at the Tactical Operations Officer.

       "Captain Bradley, before we get started, I want you to know that I'm sorry for the loss of your men…" Hale said awkwardly.

       "Yeah. Lieutenant, if you could?" Bradley urged.

       "...What the hell happened down there?" Hale asked, as much out of curiosity, as it was his duty to be there.

       Bradley let out a long sigh as he turned towards Stormare. "…The thing is Lieutenant, is that we don't really know what the fuck happened. Canfield had first squad, over near the structures in Kai Sao." Bradley paused and gestured at his gunnery sergeant. "Stormare's the only one that came back from first."

       "Sergeant?" Hale asked the younger Marine.

       Stormare looked up to regard the Operations Officer. Hale recognized the voice as the Marine shouting over the COM as his squad died around him. "We didn't go in with Foxtrot and Juliet, Kirilenko had us watch the entrance. The COM went nuts, and we heard gunfire and screams. Kosov from Juliet came out, along with another couple guys, the Major too. Something was right on their tails though…fuckin' cut them to pieces."

       "Did you recover anything from the bodies?"

       Stormare reached into a pouch on his chest plate and produced a small pile of dog tags, and a small microchip retrieved from the helmet of one his deceased teammates. "The chip came from Kirilenko, I don't know what's its worth…the magnetism inside the structure might have tampered with the video feed, but the COM recordings should be intact…they're on a separate system than the video."

       Hale reached across the table to accept the offered hardware. The other Marines described the nature of their assailants, revealing little to nothing other than they appeared in the broken armor of their teammates, firing an assortment of human and Covenant weapons. No one wanted to be the ones to say the word, but the description was perfect.

       Private First Class Sucre shifted uneasily. "They were like fucking…zombies or some shit." At the mention of the word, several of the other men looked at him quizzically, and then reluctantly nodded agreement.
       It made sense from what he had seen from Wolcott's HUD cam, but it was surreal realization. The pieces fit into place but his brain refused to verify the results. Hale turned the chip over in his fingers. "Alright Marines, I'll take a look at this and get back to you if I need you."

       The leathernecks filed out of the room, and disappeared into the depths of the carrier. Hale pressed a key on the surface of the table and a small device emerged from the façade of the table top, sporting a small display pedestal and a bank of data ports. The lieutenant slid the chip into the first port with a satisfying click.

       A loading screen spread across the display, determining the nature of the new hardware. Within seconds the task completed, producing the text data written onto the chip, and began to play the audio through a small set of speakers.

MISSION CLOCK: 0234 hours


       Marine [C103]: Alright ladies, I want a tight dispersal! You know the drill and I want it done right, go!
       Marine [B555]: Pelicans are clear, Sarge! We've got all our boots on the deck.
       Marine [C103]: Alright, Kosov, find out where Fox and Alpha landed, I can't see shit in this snow.
       Marine [K871]: Two hundred meters to our north, Sergeant. There's no need for the runner, pole's playing hell with the COMs.
       Marine [C103]: Yes, sir.
COM: Movement, static
       Marine [B338]: Hey, Sarge! I think I found what we're looking for.
       Marine [C103]: Maddox, I swear to God if you don't keep your voice down…
       Marine [K871]: Whaddaya got, Corporal?
       Marine [B338]: Pair 'a Covenant Phantoms, lookin' real cozy down there.
       Marine [K871]: That's it?
       Marine [B338]: …That's all I got.
       Marine [K871]: That's a ways across the valley, Fox is closer, radio Stetson and tell him to move in without us.
       Marine [C103]: Wilco, Major.


       Marine [E762]: It's fuckin' dark in here.
       Marine [G119]: Beats the blizzard outside, Thomas.
       Marine [C103]: Keep it down, Marines…
       Marine [B555]: Shit!
COM: Movement, weapons' clicking
       Marine [B555]: We're good, there's a Bravo Kilo right here though that's torn to shit.
       Marine [B338]: Who the fuck did that? Those bastards are tough.
       Marine [K871]: Keep moving, Marines. Maybe Foxtrot cleaned the Brutes up for us ahead a time.
       Marine [C103]: You heard the Major, Juliet. Move your asses.


       Marine [E762]: What the hell was that?
       Marine [C103]: Dunno.
       Marine [G448]: What the fuck!
COM: Weapons' fire, static
       Marine [C103]: Clear!
       Marine [K871]: Report!
       Marine [B555]: Maddox is down. Thomas, too.
       Marine [K871]: Shit. Try and raise Fox and Alpha again.
       Marine [G119]: Still nothing, Major.
       Marine [E112]: Um, Major? I think I know why Fox hasn't been answering our calls…
       Marine [C001]: Ah, shit. That's Campbell…or what's left of him.
       Marine [B376]: I think this is Ramirez over here…
       Marine [B555]: Somebody better tell me what the fuck is going on down here—
       Marine [C103]: Contact!
COM: Weapons' fire, high static, movement
       Marine [B555]: We gotta fall back! Too many!
       Marine [C103]: Move, Marines! We've gotta—
       Marine [G448]: Sarge!
COM: Incomprehensible speech, screaming, weapons' fire, static

NOTICE: Device is internally damaged. Further recordings have been corrupted.

       Hale stared at the monitor for a full minute before removing the chip. Hearing a story told to you was one thing, hearing it in first person sent shivers down his spine. Hearing their screams of terror and unspeakable pain. These were the screams of the paralyzed with cold horror, a horror that even the greatest Covenant warriors could not inspire. Something had happened in the structures below the Kai Sao mountain ranges, and Hale was not so sure that humans, or anything else was meant to unveil it.