Halo Echo: Chapter 3


I know it’s been some time since my last post. Life gets in the way at times. Here is the next instalment of my piece. Please leave any constructive criticism or even shoot me a like if you enjoyed it. Previous Chapter: https://teabagordie.com/2015/02/09/halo-echo-chapter-2/

 

“Where in the hell do you get off telling me how things are going to work.” Admiral Parangosky scowls in a condescending tone. Aaron stands in front of the Admiral unfazed at her verbal assault. No one has ever dared to question the Admiral much less tell her how things were going to work. Aaron turns to the rest of the team and signals for them to leave the office. He turns back to Parangosky, removing his helmet and placing it ever so gently on the desk between himself and the Admiral. He looks at the Admiral as she gives him a furious scowl. He looks back down at his helmet and takes a deep breath contemplating his next words very carefully. These words could determine, not only his future in the UNSC, but his very existence. The power the Admiral wields is great and typically unforgiving. Not many have gone up against her and survived to tell the tale. He slowly raises his eyes to her and begins. “I said, I am now the leader of Echo team and any orders or battle plans come through me for approval. If this is a problem then you can find yourself a new team of spartans.” The Admiral looks at Aaron and rolls her eyes in frustration realizing the predicament she is in. Where would she get a new team of spartans? Doctor Halsey had all of the other spartans training on Reach. It would be impossible to acquire a new team now. Aaron knew this and used it to his advantage. Parangosky grits her teeth together as she realizes her worst fear has come true, Aaron now ran Echo team. “Listen Aaron, I need to know I can count on Echo team to carry out their missions. Can I count on you to carry out my orders?” she looks at him questioning. “Till my last dying breath Admiral, the problem lies in the execution of your orders. Due to faulty ONI intel, we ended up being surrounded. I saw it coming but Jack insisted on following your orders. We need the ability to think creatively and change battle plans as needed. We don’t operate in a vacuum out there,” raising his voice as he speaks. The Admiral looks down at the helmet on the desk and ponders for a second on what to do. She reaches into one of the desk drawers and pulls out a set of lieutenants’ bars. “Very well, I am giving you a battlefield commission as a Second Lieutenant. Echo team is yours now Aaron.” The Admiral leans over and pins the bars onto Aaron. She then leans out the door and signals the rest of Echo team to once again enter the office.

The Admiral reaches for her data pad to bring up Echo’s next mission. “The planet of Harvest has been out of contact for several months. Efforts to contact the planet have failed and the only message received was from the scout vessel Argo which confirmed arrival and went dark as well. Battlegroup 4 was sent to ascertain the situation. Upon entering orbit the Heracles spotted a ship of unknown origin that proceeded to open fire destroying the two ships accompanying the Heracles in a battle that lasted less than one minute. The unknown ship was said to have taken no damage. The Heracles managed to get to slipspace but only after sustaining heavy damage. I need you men to join the Point of no Return on a scouting mission to get a better idea of what we are dealing with.” Aaron nods in acknowledgement and the team leaves for their ship.

The trip from Arcadia takes several weeks but when they reach the Epsilon Indi system the Point of no Return exits slipspace well out of sensor range of any ship as to avoid detection. The ship is able to use its stealth design to slowly venture toward sensor range of the planet. In orbit of the planet is a large purple vessel. This was the vessel that had destroyed Battlegroup 4 in under a minute. Captain Tolbertson decides to take a cautious approach and keep the ship in a synchronous orbit on the opposite side of the planet. From there the ship can freely move pelicans to the surface so Echo team can investigate properly. Once they reach the planet’s surface the marines are horrified at what they find. The entire city is burned to the ground and the planet’s surface is solid glass. Only shells of the very largest buildings still stand and no signs of life are evident. Echo team moves into the city’s central square in hopes that there are survivors in the city evac shelters. Fire and smoke fill the area choking the air completely out. The entire city center is deserted and desolate. Ryan begins accessing the cities central network in hopes of getting some information of what transpired. “I’ve got something Aaron,” Ryan states. The team converges on the monitor to see a video stream from the cities central vid net. The team watches as ape like creatures, covered in long fur, wielding spikers, plasma rifles, and the ever dangerous brute shot, charge at the colonial militia as they make a vain effort to repel the onslaught. The overmatched militia is quickly defeated and the city is overrun. A few units of UNSC marines make valiant stands but are outnumbered and quickly fall back. “It looks like most of the civilians made it out,” Ryan observes on the video of the evacuation through the space elevator. “Good, these brave soldiers did not die in vain at least,” Aaron responds. Ryan downloads all of the video feeds that were still useable and they destroy what’s left to prevent anything from falling into enemy hands. Echo returns to the ship and with the help of the ONI operatives, compiles a loose organization and threat assessment of the new alien faction. The aliens call themselves, The Covenant.

Before leaving Harvest, the Admiral radios with one more mission for Echo team. Outpost Gamma is an ONI research facility in the Vigrond highlands. ONI was conducting top secret research on some ancient artifacts found in the area. Echo was to secure the data for transfer and destroy the building and all its contents. When Echo arrives the building already has visitors. These were new creatures, tall, agile, lizard like creatures that wear protective armor. They carried the same plasma rifles that the brutes had but they also carried something else, a four foot long sword made of hard light. This weapon could slice through anything like a hot knife through butter. Aaron knew these creatures were not to be trifled with. Echo manages to enter the building without detection and they find a spot to watch the new enemy for possible weaknesses. Aaron radios the ship about their new discovery. “Echo one, do you copy?” asks Captain Tolbertson. “Go ahead Captain,” responds Aaron. The Admiral wants you to complete your mission and if possible capture one of these new enemies. She has some questions she’d like to ask.” “Roger that Captain, Echo will execute.” Aaron turns to his team and signals them to move out. Echo makes their way down into the bowels of the base. They get positioned on both sides of a narrow corridor as thee elites make their way down. Aaron is the first to make a move as he reaches out to grab one of them by the throat. The elite quickly reacts and pushes free from Aaron’s grasp as he pulls out a plasma rifle. The rest of Echo team opens fire on the elite. The short bursts of bullets ricochet off the energy shields harmlessly. “They have some kind of shielding, suppressing fire!” Aaron barks at his team as they open up with a hailstorm of lead. Aaron strikes outward at the elite in front of him with the butt of his rifle striking it in its large mandible jaw. With a small  pop, the shields of the elite collapse and the elite falls to the ground in pain. Aaron pulls out his M6C magnum pistol and puts a single round through the back of its skull. The elite slumps to the ground in a lifeless heap as bright purple blood flows from its cranium. Echo takes cover behind a wall as more elite’s converge on their position. Echo begins a suppressing fire forcing the enemy to take cover themselves. The two sides exchange fire for several minutes while neither side gains an advantage. Aaron moves around the flank of the elite’s and manages to kill three of them using his DMR rifle. The DMR has surprising effectiveness against the enemy shielding as he moves to turn their flank. Aaron is about to move forward when suddenly a team of new elites enters the battle. These elites wear a muted pink armor with a helmet of great prominence. They move like a pack of wolves, in perfect synchronization. Aaron begins firing on them and quickly finds their shields to be of greater strength. Aaron orders the rest of echo to move forward to suppress the oncoming threat. One of the new elites charges at Aaron with his energy sword drawn. Aaron raises his rifle to stop the sword from coming down and striking him. The rifle stops the sword but is disabled in the process. Aaron quickly spins to the side of the elite and with a quick thrust, submerges his spartan knife into its side. The elite writhes in pain and lets out a scream as he falls to his knees. The others are quickly taken down by the rest of echo and the elites begin a full retreat. Aaron bends down to retrieve his knife as the zealot lays on the floor struggling to breathe. “Looks like we have our prisoner, radio for evac, they’ll be back soon,” as he struggles to catch his breath. The pelican lands quickly and whisks Echo back to the Point of no Return. The ship’s crew works at a furious pace as the covenant ship approaches them. The Covenant vessel closes into weapons range as the Point of no Return narrowly escapes to slip space.

Echo’s prisoner sits in a chair in a dark, cold room, feet chained to the floor and hands bound together behind him. The elite’s breathing is heavy and labored no doubt from the six inch knife wound in its side as bright purple blood drips to the floor making a subtle pitter patter. Silas and Vince stand at the door with weapons drawn, at the constant ready. Aaron enters the room with the rest of echo in tow. He looks down at the elite and with an almost psychotic look speaks to the elite. Artemis, the ships A.I. translates, “You’re going to tell us everything we need to know, aren’t you?” The elite replies by spitting a mouthful of blood at Aaron, splattering his face shield. Aaron turns toward the communication terminal where Admiral Parangosky is watching in person. “You sure you want me to do this?” Aaron questions. “We need any information you can get, by any means necessary,” the Admiral replies in a cold and emotionless tone. Aaron turns and strikes the elite in the face breaking the creatures jaw. The crunch of bone is slightly muted by the blood oozing from the elite’s mouth. For the next several hours Aaron and Vince take turns beating and torturing the elite. Ryan and Silas stand outside the room listening as the elite lets out blood curdling screams. Ryan and Silas didn’t have the stomach to watch. The door opens and Jack exits with a scared look on his face. He looks toward Ryan and Silas and says, “Had to take a break,” with an exasperated look. Suddenly a gunshot rings out followed by a thud to the floor. The door flings open as Aaron is holstering his pistol. “We got what we need. Open a comms channel to the Admiral.”

 

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