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LORC: Beginnings Act 3 Pt 5 and 6
Posted By: HWPD<disaster.nick@gmail.com>
Date: 24 February 2018, 10:07 am

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Part 5
Mombasa Streets II

Twenty-Fourth Solar Cycle, 201 Cycles: 9th Age of Reclamation [October 20, 2552: 2249hrs]
New Mombasa, Earth
SpecOps Science Major Naki 'Cimutee

The Orbital Drop Shock Trooper crept through the security gate, and walked to the edge of the roadway. The ONI building burned at the other end of the Security Zone. He took in a breath and let it out slowly. The yellow outline on his HUD laid at the bottom of his vision, another clue to the whereabouts of his squad. All he had found so far were hints and bits of ordinance shown to him by the Superintendent; the city's AI custodian.

The Super was a 'Dumb' AI, and was really difficult to get a cohesive answer out of. Instead of just telling him where his squad was, the Superintendent just took him places they had been. Not to mention it only communicated in pre-recorded messages. Honestly it did not make much sense if he thought about it; they've had text-to-speech software for like five hundred years.

He knelt down and picked up the piece of metal; it was the arming handle of a M168 Demolition Charge. If the Super was showing it to him, it was probably armed by one of his squad, Mickey's handy work if he'd guess. With a slight push of a finger, it spun freely. He tossed it out and it skipped across the water before sinking below.

A pair of Phantoms flew across the area, their searchlights scanning the platform. He dove behind a pillar and waited for them to pass. Ever since he had woken up after the crash, he had been dodging Covenant patrols all over the city. The ODSTs were the best of the best, but there is only so much one man can do alone against the Covenant. The dropships moved on, either they did not see him or they were disinterested in a single Human. The Rookie sighed again, finally a break.

The blip on his compass updated and moved back to the city. He accessed the map on his VISR and scanned until he found the next waypoint. All the way back north; at least everything had been steadily moving in the same direction. But was the Superintendent trying to get him killed?

As the Rookie turned to leave, the visor outlined something else nearby. He approached slowly, and suddenly it became apparent what it was. A Covenant Elite was sitting against the wall. It wore green armor, a color he had never seen on them before. It was outlined in yellow; much like the other objectives he had been given.

The Rookie glanced around was there something on this Elite's corpse that he needed to grab? The ODST quietly stepped over with his gun raised. All the Elites he had seen so far were dead. Why would this be an exception? He stepped over its legs. Where are the pockets on these things anyway? He didn't even know where to look. There was a pouch on the alien's left leg, if there was something on this corpse, it would be there.

Naki's sleep was disturbed by something moving her leg. She woke with a jolt, only to see a Human Trooper stagger backwards, raising their weapon. The Human fired, their SMG spewing a burst of small bullets that were harmlessly deflected by her energy shields. Naki scrambled for her Carbine, which had previously been resting on her lap. But she found that it had been moved near the Human instead. However, she suddenly became aware that she was still alive and the Human had only fired once.

The Rookie could not see anything. As soon as he opened fire on that Elite, his visor was completely filled with the Super's avatar. The expected death never came; the Rookie opened his eyes to see that his HUD had returned. ONI Tier One Asset. Capture Alive. The words were bold and in bright red and displayed alongside the Elite's yellow outline. The Super really was trying to kill him!

Though he did not understand why the Elite remained on the ground and why he was still alive.

An unseen speaker chimed somewhere nearby. "Reminder, this sector is a gun-free zone. Violators will be prosecuted with force."

The thought suddenly occurred to him that this Elite might be in on it. It had been sleeping inside the ONI security zone after all. Plus it remained on the ground, instead of rising to challenge him. It could have made its way here to surrender, only to find the building had already been sacked by its comrades. But there was no way he could take this Elite with him, it would be dead weight and he sure as hell was not going to trust it with a gun of its own.

Naki glanced in the direction of the announcement, and then back towards the Human Trooper. She was still alive, so that was a good sign. It was a bit of a stretch, but Naki raised her hands with the Human signal for surrender. She heard the musical chime of the speakers come from inside the Trooper's helmet. The sounds were muffled, but she could hear what sounded like a one sided conversation with whatever computerized voice and the Human's body language in response. There was a lot of No being projected here.

The ODST shook his head and signaled her to stand with the movement of his SMG. He seemed reluctant to allow her to move, but Naki complied. The Human walked towards her and pulled her arms down; tying them together with some kind of restrains.

"I don't want to, but I don't have a choice here. You keep quiet and stay in front." The ODST said quietly. "You understand that?"

Naki nodded her head. "Yes..." She really got the feeling that he was not up for any kind of conversation. Though as far as she understood, ODSTs worked in squads. He probably is taking her back to them. She wondered if ONI was behind this, something had been watching her in the city and she was not entirely sure what.

The Rookie grabbed the Elite's restraints and pushed her forward. "Move," he muttered. After a bit of thinking he had determined that if the Super was so intent on him taking this Elite with him, he might as well use it to his advantage. The Elite was taller than him, bigger, and it had energy shields. Using it as a meat shield would get the best results as long as she cooperated.

Naki was pushed along in front as the ODST guided her back out into the main part of the city. There was no sign of the rest of this Trooper's squad outside the gates. She was then pushed toward one of the security gates, still nothing. "You do have a squad, right?" The ODST did not say anything as he continued to push her along. She realized that this might be the Rookie, the ODST. Her chances of getting out of this city were now even more up in the air.

He pushed her a few more times, until Naki settled into his walking pace. Since her legs were so much longer than his, it was borderline uncomfortable; the ODST wanted her crouched in a hunched combat stance, one that she was never fond of. Suddenly, she was shoved down behind a planter box. The Rookie pulled her confiscated Carbine off his back and targeted a glowing spot on a rooftop; a Kig-Yar sniper. Naki was surprised that the Kig-Yar had not seen them first; with all the different sensors and optics on their visors. The Carbine fired and the Kig-Yar on the rooftop fell to the ground in a heap. And as soon as the corpse hit the ground, they were on the move again. She was pulled and pushed along again. If she wanted, Naki could easily overpower the Human, and that was quickly becoming an attractive idea.

The security gate slid open and into the next sector and it was much more 'busy' compared to the others Naki had visited. There was a destroyed Scorpion tank just outside the door, and the debris from large roadway barriers littered the area all the way until the next traffic circle. It was not busy in hostiles, just in stuff. This sector looked like a war had gone through; not like the still pristine sectors on the other side of the ONI building. The Rookie walked through, keeping an arm on Naki's restrained arms as he held his SMG around her.

Naki wanted to complain about being a meat shield, but the ODST projected a sense of anger towards her. The Rookie walked briskly; there was still no sign of enemy activity in the sector, just lots of dead bodies.

The road into the next sector lead into a traffic circle with a small covered pay phone plaza. A dead Mgalekgolo was collapsed over the stairs, a few surviving worms wriggled on the ground beside it. The Rookie walked them over to collect a few magazines of ammunition from an ammo crate on the ground.

Naki heard it first; a dull thumping running towards them. She glanced around and could not find the corpse of the other Mgalekgolo anywhere. "Oh no..." Naki turned and then dove out of the way as the massive armored creature swung its shield through the air where the ODST had been standing moments before. He had seen the Mgalekgolo as well and moved in the direction opposite her. Unfortunately the Human's weapons were insufficient against the armor of a Hunter. The Human term fit well.

Breaking the restraints was simple enough, Naki just pulled her arms apart and the plastic snapped. She looked across the traffic circle for something, anything to fight the Hunter with. An overturned truck had slid against the small center structure and spilled some of its cargo. Gardening equipment. Naki spied a long metal tool, small bits of sharp metal attached to a chain, a chain saw. She lifted the machine with ease, and it thankfully whirred to life. With a few pulls of its trigger, the chain spun around. It had been ages since that sound had graced her ears. However it was a bit disappointing that it lacked a gasoline motor.

The Mgalekgolo was busy trying to smash the ODST, but the Human was quite the acrobat; they were dive rolling and jumping every time the massive creature came close. Naki recognized that the Hunter was in a berserker mindset, with its' bond mate dead, there would be no calming it down. It showed its back to her, the orange worms exposed along its midsection. She revved the saw and charged at the massive lumbering creature.

The Lekgolo worms that make up a Mgalegolo were very soft and fleshy compared to the heavy armor they wore, and the bladed chain cut through the exposed worms with ease.

Orange blood and chunks of gore splattered across the ground and up Naki's front. The colony howled in pain and reacted. Whole worms fell from the traumatized form, spilling to the ground. The alloy spine that helped the worms maintain their shape for days snapped as the metal chain cut through the delicate material.

With a mighty groan, the Mgalegolo collapsed into a heap of writhing worms.

It would not last forever, this colony and any survivors from its bond brother would unite and repair the damage inflicted upon it. That was, until the Human ODST primed a frag grenade and tossed it under the torso plate. The remaining Lekgolo worms were completely annihilated, leaving nothing but a scorch mark and some orange gore.

With the current threat taken care of, Naki tossed the chainsaw aside and offered her hands to the Rookie to restrain again. This was a moment of trust. She had to show the Human that she was not out to harm him. The ODST took a new set of restrains from his belt, but then stopped.

The Rookie sighed and put the plastic zip-ties back into the loop on his belt. The Elite had broken free of the last pair. He was preoccupied by the Hunter and it had not run off. Then it had killed the Hunter for him in one of the most bloody methods he had ever seen, and then offered itself back up to be restrained. He wasn't sure if it was showing that it could be trusted, or placing its trust in him. Either way, every human part of his mind was telling him this was a bad idea, but having another gun at his side would make this night a hell of a lot easier.

The ODST reached back and placed Naki's Carbine back into her hands. It was honestly not the response she was expecting. "Uh... well thank you?"

The Rookie grunted a response. "Same rules apply as before."

Naki nodded, "understood."

The ODST resumed pushing her along; though this time she had the means to defend herself. The road was clear again for a while. The occasional car fire still managed to smolder under the constant drizzle of the rainstorm. There were two directions they could go, hostiles either direction according to her tracker. The Rookie guided them right and up another uniform incline. A familiar whine came from around the corner; the engine of a Ghost.

The Rookie's reaction was almost instantaneous; he grabbed her and moved into the shadows of a doorway. The Ghost slowly hovered by, an Unggoy on patrol. The ODST popped out of cover and fired a burst of his SMG into the Unggoy's head. Its body slumped over against the controls and accelerated into an overturned police vehicle. With another nudge, they were on the move again.

Naki glanced around the roundabout the Rookie had led her to; broken trees and cables strung between buildings. A bent Sniper Rifle was dangling on one of those cables; how it got there she had no clue. The rookie probed the rifle with a metal pole and knocked it free. He picked it up, and just stared at it. She shifted her footing and inspected the area a bit more closely. There was no Covenant activity nearby that she could tell, and her radio on her Ministry channel had been dead ever since she landed. This ODST was looking for his squad too.

The walk to wherever the Human was being lead to next was quite quicker than the last. Mostly due to the fact that there had been little Covenant forces on the route he had chosen to take. The object at Kikowani Station was just one of the Humans' Biofoam canisters. They had walked across half the city tracking down two seemingly random pieces of UNSC equipment, yet they all had some sort of significance to the Human. However, judging by his reaction to finding them, Naki would guess that he was getting frustrated with the lack of meaningful progress. The sector they were in was a dead end, so any further exploration would be back towards the other end of the city. Again.

She glanced back as he tossed the canister onto the ground. "Another bust," he muttered. The Rookie suddenly placed his hands to his helmet, like he was listening to something, and a Phantom Naki had been keeping an eye on suddenly changed course and snapped its searchlight on. "Follow me," the Rookie started moving again.

They rounded a building and quickly wiped out a lance of Unggoy that had the unfortunate idea to check out the street over. The ODST moved with purpose, unlike the slow and stealthy trek across the city; they were going loud.

There was a lone lance of Jiralhanae in the courtyard ahead. Just a normal lance would be a challenge, unfortunately this one was led by a Chieftain. Naki dove for cover as soon as she saw its' golden helmet.

"Sangheili!" one of the Jiralhanae shouted, pointing over to her position. They seemed to ignore the smaller Human entirely.

A live Spike grenade slammed against the planter box she had chosen for shelter. Too many guns were trained on her to move, so she grabbed the grip of the grenade from around the corner and gave it a healthy toss back towards the Brutes with seconds to spare. The ensuing shower of spikes gave Naki the distraction she needed to gun down one of the closest Jiralhanae with her Carbine. Killing them quickly took unloading a full cartridge into the Brute's head in quick succession; unfortunately they move a lot so that strategy only works when they're surprised or distracted. While they were still distracted, she moved behind an overturned bus.

Naki glanced around for the Human as she ran, maybe a two pronged attack would work better with communication. Though, much to her surprise, the ODST was not nearby. The Human had used the distraction she caused and slipped past the Brutes and was entering a building on the other side of the courtyard.

"That bastard..." While she was slightly hurt at his abandonment, she was just his prisoner; she did understand that to him, she as an alien responsible for destroying his species.
Though now she had a new dilemma. Naki was alone against four Jiralhanae and a Chieftain with a Fuel rod gun. The odds were not in her favor. She could disable the Fuel rod, it would only take a few well-placed shots, but then the others would be on top of her.

Without taking her eyes fully off the Jiralhanae reflection, she brought up the local roster list of Covenant forces in the area on the late Ultra's data-pad. She had to know what she was dealing with. The list took a few moments to come up and displayed the forces in the area. There were a lot of Sangheili in the 'perished' category. Naki flipped the list over to living forces; if any Sangheili were still in the city, they must have disabled their identification disks. What remained were Jiralhanae, Unggoy and Kig-Yar, not to mention the occasional Mgalekgolo pair. One of those pairs were nearby.

According to the local sector map the Solemn Penance had made, the Mgalekgolo was just up the next street. A somewhat... risky plan was forming in her head.

Naki picked a plasma grenade from one of her pouches and glanced out at the Jiralhanae. They had spread out a bit, looking for her. She quietly pulled open the rooftop hatch of the bus and stepped inside, being mindful of the broken glass the littered the ground inside. There wasn't much inside, some Human bodies that had probably been killed by the initial invasion force. Naki payed them little mind as the Jiralhanae walked just outside the vehicle.

"Where did it go?" One of them asked, standing just outside the hatch.

"The coward must have just fled. I can still smell its scent." The two Jiralhanae walked back towards the Chieftain.

"Do we follow, brother?"

"No, my belly aches and the meat has finished cooking."

She slowly crept to the shattered windshield and looked towards the courtyard. The dumb Brutes
had actually clustered back together to share some sort of unidentified meat. Tossing the plasma grenade into them would take them out, but they would scatter immediately; unless she disguised the grenade somehow.

Naki checked the ground around her feet and picked a briefcase that had fallen onto the floor. It was thankfully unlocked. She inched back towards the windshield, being mindful of the broken glass that littered the floor. It would have to be fast; she had to disable the Fuel rod gun immediately after tossing the case. The Chieftain was off on its own, still sweeping the streets with his gun at the ready.

She pushed open the hatch and left the bus behind her, dropping the lit Plasma grenade into the case. Naki threw the briefcase at the Jiralhanae group and shouldered her Carbine; dumping another cartridge in the Chieftain's direction. The Brutes were confused by the black leather box flying towards them, until it landed with the high pitched whine of a charging grenade. They attempted to flee before it exploded, but it was too late. The pack was engulfed by the searing plasma; all-the-while Naki's Carbine shots connected with the Fuel rod in multiple places.

The Chieftain threw the useless weapon away and roared a challenge at Naki. Just as she had planned, which meant she could probably start running. She took off down the street, heading for the Mgalekgolo markers. The growling from the Jiralhanae was a good signal to her that he was chasing her down. Of course, her entire plan relied on the behavior of different species to match up to stereotypes. So far things were working, but anything could mess up and lead to her death.

Naki rounded the corner and there was one of the Mgalekgolo, standing in the middle of the roadway. If she timed it right, there would only be milliseconds between her diving out of the way and a spray of incendiary gel. She fired a few shots into the armored back of the massive creature, gathering its' enraged attention to her. However, instead of its cannon, the Mgalekgolo raised its heavy shield into the air with a roar.

"So much for that plan!" Naki thought. She waited until the apex of its swing and dropped to her knees and slid across the road surface. There was a wet smack as the Mgalekgolo's shield connected with the Chieftain's form. Naki could not stick around to see what happened; the intersection was filled with more Covenant forces. She threw herself off the ground and booked it back towards the courtyard area. The ground rumbled at the Mgalekgolo chased her down; or tried to, there were many drawbacks of being a creature of that size.

She slid around the corner and ran into the building that the Human had disappeared into. With any luck, she would have just lost the Hunter. Naki hid against a wall inside the entry way and let the Mgalekgolo wander into the now quiet courtyard. Frustrated that it had lost its attacker, the Mgalekgolo swung and smashed the side of the over turned bus, crushing the front inwards. It stomped off, back to its bond brother.

Naki sighed and started to walk further into the building that she had dashed into. It was a maintenance corridor of some kind, leading down into the building below. There were papers strewn all over the floor. A sign over a security checkpoint identified her location, only a little bit: Superintendent Data Center Maintenance Access. Small blips of memory were popping into her head; she followed the passageway until it ended in an open elevator shaft.

Glancing down the shaft, she was greeted by an endless hole and a cable gently swinging back and forth. "Great... I know where he went."

Naki stepped back and ran her fingers across her head, taking off her helmet a bit. It was not the best way to descend a shaft. She would have prayed for a jump pack if she believed in the gods. This Human was her only chance at getting out of the city with the possibility of surviving. She took a few steps back and then leapt across. Gripping the cable with both hands, Naki was glad her gloves were thick. She slid down into the darkness below.

Note: Like half of this is a sort of Novelization of DataHive... I wanted to avoid it but I sorta walked into this one.
Part 6
Now leaving New Mombasa

Twenty-Fourth Solar Cycle, 201 Cycles: 9th Age of Reclamation [October 21, 2552: 0012hrs]
New Mombasa, Earth
SpecOps Science Major Naki 'Cimutee

The friction between her gloves and the cable was starting to heat through. Naki tightened her grip, however, when she saw the elevator car rapidly approaching. The armor on her legs prevented her from using them to adequately slow herself, so she slammed into rooftop and rolled off the side.

"Damnit," she muttered. Naki rose to her feet and surveyed the area she had ended up in. It was another maintenance area, security doors on the other three doors. The Rookie was there, and was leaning against the wall. "Oh, so you waited!?"

The ODST simply nodded once and turned to walk through the security gate. She had been making a lot of noise up top, which he had taken notice of even seven levels down.

Naki pulled her Carbine from her back and moved to follow him once again. She was inside one of the Humans' massive Artificial Intelligence data centers; the machines that ran their cities. Getting a look at it would be fascinating. She walked over towards one of the screens that were displaying various readouts and other information from the system. However when Naki got close, the screen was replaced by the emoticon of the Superintendent. Operation Terminated scrolled across the ticker bar on the bottom of the screen.

With a hint of annoyance, Naki slapped the screen with the butt of her Carbine, leaving a sizable crack in the display. She was this close to learning the secret inner workings of Human Artificial Intelligence, not that it was really an end goal of hers; Forerunner machinery was still superior in almost every way.

The Rookie led the way, and Naki provided what help she could. The twisting corridors of the data center were wide, but filed with various forms of cover. Unggoy and Kig-Yar easily hid behind them. While ammo for her Carbine was rare on the surface, it appeared to be plentiful on the bodies of Kig-Yar down below. The fighting was relatively easy with just the small cannon fodder that the Covenant typically employed. The Jiralhanae were strangely absent.

That was until they entered the Data Stacks; a tight series of corridors where the memory cores of the AI were located. As soon as they had entered, Naki nostrils were assailed by the stench of Jiralhanae. They pushed deeper into the Stack chamber, fighting through the lances of hostiles. They came across a Human police officer fending off the Jiralhanae with a shotgun.He racked back another shell and took aim at Naki as she walked through the doorway. "Woah, Trooper, watch out."

The shotgun fired and smacked against Naki's shields. They flared and burst, but none of the small pellets made it through her armor and bodysuit. Stunned for just a moment, she jumped into the connecting corridor and hugged the wall. After a few moments, she shouted out to the Officer. "I know it's hard to believe, Human, but I am actually on your side!"

The Rookie waved at the Officer, barely stepping between him and the corridor. "It is telling the truth, believe it or not. I am taking it in as a tier one asset."

"You're letting it run around with a gun though?!" The Police officer stammered, and waved his gun towards Naki's position.

"Well, desperate times call for desperate measures..." the Trooper mumbled.

The Officer grumbled, "As long as it stays in front of me..." He nodded back towards the large data storage core "So I've been trying to get to the next level to check on my team, but this stack is locked down tight."

Naki waited for her shields to recharge before stepping back out into the room, the Officer had his weapon raised slightly in her direction the whole time; Naki kept hers down and away instead of returning his action.

The Rookie stepped up to the console, but before they could do anything, the locks clicked and the Superintendent chimed over the center's announcement system. "Welcome, access granted."
While his eyes were hidden behind a golden mirrored faceplate, the Officer turned slightly to the Rookie. "Huh, guess you have the magic touch."

The stack slid up, releasing a hiss of freezing air. Only a rising buzz came from the darkness beneath. "Buggers, look out!"

The NMPD officer and the Rookie opened fire with their shotguns, blowing the insectoid creatures apart. Naki never worked with the Yanme'e much, hive creatures which the Covenant used when Huragok were not available. However they were likely the easiest of the client species to kill. In seconds, the swarm of Yanme'e was obliterated.

The next level down was dark; the lights were out for whatever reason. Naki wished she had night vision on her ACI system, yet another upgrade she had forgone. At least the police officer had a flashlight on his weapon. As the light illuminated enemies, Naki fired. It was not the best arrangement, but it was the best she could do.

Thankfully her identification tag system still worked, her ACI identified Jiralhanae everywhere; active camouflage keeping them hidden. The Rookie must have noticed as well; shotgun blasts sounded thought the corridor making extremely short work of the Jiralhanae.

They passed through another series of data-stack which allowed them access to level nine. The police officer seemed hesitant as they dropped down; like he didn't want them going down there with him for some reason. The air was cold and everything was coated in a thin layer of frost. The lights were muted but functioning, unlike the level above. The enemy forces here were quite varied at first, but then the variety dissolved back into a single pack of Brutes.

Naki did her best, but Chieftain had forced the Humans back to cover leaving her out in the open. She attempted to slide behind a column only to meet a Jiralhanae Major there instead of a safe haven. "Oh... shit."

The Brute roared and smacked her across the helmet, sending her world into spiraling darkness.

Naki coughed and opened her eyes. Her arms were bound and she was on her back, lying on some sort of cart, something Humans called a pallet-jack if she remembered correctly. Her arms were bound again, this time with something stronger than plastic ties. She was inside some sort of control room, all Naki could see were a series of computer stations. "Hello?" Her voice was hoarse and throat was dry. She doubted that she had naturally been knocked out for as long as it seemed.

The Human trooper walked over from around the computer console; there was another Human with him, a female in similar armor as him. The woman stepped in front of the Rookie. "So she's awake... While I trust this Troopers judgement, I was not about to let you into this secured area unrestrained." The Human took a small folding chair from the wall and spun it around to face Naki. "So, who are you, and why would you surrender to this ODST."

Naki shifted herself to sit up further. "I am... former... Special Operations Science Major Naki 'Cimutee. And... your artificial intelligence guided me to your headquarters in this city, I thought that this Trooper was sent to collect me."

"Artificial intelligence?" The woman mumbled, "The Superintendent?" She looked back towards the Rookie, who nodded subtlety.

"The Super blocked up my VISR when I went to shoot it." He spoke in a reserved manner. "Said it was a Tier-one asset."

"Hm... strange." The woman said. Naki looked over her armor, and spied a name on the chest plate. Dare. Dare spoke again, "Anyhow, We've heard of your kind before. Green armored Elites hunting through ONI facilities before the glassing begins. What do you do?"

"Well... I study Forerunner technology; you know what that is do you not?" Naki said, cocking her head slightly. "Though others do anything from studying your kind to planetary survey; but few reach the level I am at."

"Forerunners; those ancient ruins out there in the galaxy right? Yes, I know of them." Dare kept a flat face, still not giving away any emotional hints. "What makes you so special then?"

"I am... was... one of the highest ranking Science officers in the Covenant. My mission here was given to me by the High Prophet of Regret, to investigate the artifact located somewhere on this planet." Naki looked away, wondering if it was a good idea to reveal what Project Leau was. She would, only if this officer needed more convincing.

"What would it take to get you to tell me what you know about this, artifact?" Dare asked.

"I am just looking for transport out of here. This city will not last long at the rate the Covenant up there are going" Naki said.

"I can see what strings I can pull, but I don't think we'll be able to take you with us when we make our move." Dare said. "You've just got to tell me some to see if ONI will bite."

Naki nodded. "Very well, the High Prophet came into possession of a device which showed the location of this planet. I was brought in to oversee the Science operation and I have in-depth knowledge of some military research projects. If you get me out, I will tell more." She offered, holding her hands out in a motion of giving.

"Hmm... We'll see what ONI thinks about that." Dare stood up from her seat and walked to the other side of the room with a data-pad in hand. She was out of view, but Naki could still hear her voice. "At least the data-net connection survived those idiots... now to see if anyone is listening..."

She looked up at the Rookie and offered her hands up to him. "Can I have my hands back, please?" The Rookie shook his head and walked back to Dare. Naki grumbled and dropped her hands back into her lap.

A few minutes went by, just sitting in the corner with nothing interesting to look at. There was the occasional beeping from the consoles all around, and buzzing, lots of buzzing. There was a fresh Yanme`e hive nearby; that explained all the Drones in the tunnels. She glanced down at the mission clock on her ACI, and saw that she had been out for more than a few hours. What were they waiting for, more troopers to arrive? And what happened to that Police officer? Her throat was still parched and her water bottle was under her arm, impossible to get to with her hands restrained.

It was not the most comfortable ten minutes she had endured, but it seemed like it was coming to an end. Dare returned from the other side of the room and directed the Rookie to cut her restraints off. "Well it looks like more aren't coming. So I am going to need your help to get down there and secure the asset in the core." She stepped back as Naki stood up to her full height of two point five meters and stretched. "I, um, managed to secure an exfil outside the city limits, one that should be able to take you as well. We just need to get through this next part... the Hive."

"I can do that, Human." Naki nodded and then took a long drink from her canteen. "Did you bring my weapons in with me?" The Rookie shook his head, and tossed her one of their small SMGs. "Oh... I guess this works... its small."

"That will have to work." Dare said, "There will be plenty of ammo in these tunnels. NMPD retrofitted their security stations throughout this facility back when the Insurrection had threatened Earth infrastructure. They added M7s when the Covenant war began."

Dare headed towards a door that led deeper into the data-center. They formed up and followed her through another set of winding and twisting corridors that looked the same as the last four Naki and the Rookie had fought through. Somehow it appeared that the ONI officer had managed to memorize the exact path they needed to take. Naki was impressed, this facility was as insane as a Forerunner installation, if not more so.

They passed down into the ventilation tunnels, the Covenant had set up a few supply crates along the corridor. Naki found herself another Carbine to supplement the SMG the Humans had given her; though the Carbine proved virtually useless while they fought through the Yanme'e hive.

Somehow, enough of the insectoid creatures had been unleashed from the Hierarch's ship and had managed to construct the rudimentary tunnels of a hive in the last few hours. It was quite a feat, but Naki wondered if the Yanme'e knew that this area was going to be glassed anyway in the end. She was covered in slime and guts once they made it through, the Yanme'e virtually exploded whenever they were struck with enough bullets. It was not a pleasant sight.

Naki dropped down another shaft, as soon as the Dare and the Rookie had cleared the bottom; apparently the elevators for this area were offline. The bridge over to the Artificial Intelligence's core was arcing over a vast pit of coolant. A group of Jiralhanae were on the other side, trying to cut through the door with their plasma weapons with no visible effect other than a few scorch marks.

"It won't be long before they smash through that door. Let's take them out. Now!" Dare dropped down to the main floor with the Rookie close behind. Naki stuck to her position and switched over to the Carbine. Her energy shields had kept her safe this long, they deserved a break.

She waited until the Humans began the engagement, and then started to hammer the Brutes with radioactive ammunition. The Jiralhanae were caught by surprise from both at range and close up. With three guns, it was a quick fight. Naki's shots overloaded shields and the Humans' SMGs cut through the armor and flesh with ease. The Trooper tossed a grenade towards the crate the last Brute had fallen back to. It exploded, sending the crate and the Jiralhanae off the side into the coolant below.

Dare glanced around the site. "That's all of them."

The doors to the core lit up green. "Welcome, Access Granted," chimed the speaker nearby.

Dare glanced at the Rookie, and then to Naki. "You, stay out here and hold off any reinforcements that come our way. Trooper, with me."

Naki nodded and pushed over an empty weapon crate and took cover behind it. Anything that came after them would either come from the way they did, or from above. Either way, this was the best place to wait. Dare and the Rookie headed inside of the Core chamber, so she waited.

It was not long before a pair of Phantoms appeared from the burning hole above. They settled down to the sides of the bridge and began to deploy their complement of troops. Naki looked at the two plasma grenades and last few cartridges for her Carbine. "Oh gods... this is more than I am prepared for..." She prayed to the Gods, that if they somehow existed, that her shields would keep her alive through this encounter; they had not given in to the incoming fire just yet.

The lance of Unggoy and Kig-yar marched into defensive positions across the bridge. Naki fired the SMG across the bridge, and a few Unggoy fell, but the Kig-yar stood strong. Switching over to her Carbine, she placed shots through the small hole on the Kig-yar's shields. An Unggoy waddled over and tossed a plasma grenade into her place of cover. She leapt out and slid in behind another place of cover. Coming from above, Jiralhanae wearing jump-packs slammed into the bridge deck to reinforce the other forces.

Naki fired the SMG and send a hail of bullets into the back of one of the Jump-pack Jiralhanae, and the backpack exploded. It sent the Brute spiraling up into an overhead support beam with enough force to crack its neck. A trio of plasma bolts from an Unggoy splashed across her shields, causing them to pop. The meter atop her ACI flashed and warned her that the system had to cycle, unfortunately all that was left of her cover was just a half melted pile of slag.

She unloaded a small burst into the attacking Unggoy's head, just as its last volley of plasma seared passed her waist. Naki hissed as her bodysuit blistered and melted in multiple places, but it took the brunt of the damage like it was designed for. There would still be skin damage, at most she would have what humans called second degree burns, but it had to wait.

Suddenly her body was enveloped by a teal overshield. It came just in time as glowing red spikes were deflected from her form by mere milliseconds. The Human's had emerged from the data core and they had a Huragok in tow. "That's right!" Naki shouted inside her head. "The target was the Huragok in the AI's core!"

The Humans charged forward, boosted by the Huragok's shields, and laid waste to whatever Covenant forces remained. It was a welcomed relief to Naki, their stay in the core felt way too long. "Protect the Engineer!" Dare shouted as they moved swiftly across the bridge.

Naki hurried across behind them, keeping the Huragok covered from behind. She held the SMG in one hand, and held her last gel pack to her waist; it was not enough but she had used most of her kit on the Ultra Osala earlier in the day. At least it numbed some of the pain. Another ODST trooper waved to Dare.

"Veronica! Over here, hurry," he shouted. However, he paused and lifted his rifle at Naki. "Woah wait, is this what you meant by green?"

"Yes, let's go." Dare hurried by the trooper strolled to the door.

The Huragok, however, did not follow. It hovered over to Naki and whistled, its tentacle patted her helmet. Naki did not interact with Huragok much; they generally stayed with the San'Shyuum and were hoarded by their expedition ministries. "So you were the one that was guiding me to do that stuff." She rubbed its head and it squealed in delight.

Her small sentence in her native language must have spooked the ODSTs. "Hey, back away from that purple... thing!" Buck ordered. "Rookie, you get between the two. Don't want any colluding."

Naki stepped back and let the Rookie take the Huragok through the doorway, following Dare. "I was just thanking the Huragok for saving my life. It is the one who guided me to your trooper's path."

"Yeah, well do it later. I don't have time to police the two of you." Buck muttered and guided Naki into the next room. They dropped down into another service corridor. "So Veronica, about these assets, feel free to fill me in whenever."

Dare gave him a look. "Not now, Buck." The next door slid open and her tone changed to a whisper. "Quiet, don't wake them."

Naki saw why seconds later. There were dozens of Yanme'e latched to the ceiling, fast asleep. She, being the tallest of the group, had to crouch down and slowly walk across to the next room. Any Yanme'e would jump at the chance to kill a Huragok, whenever one was brought in nearby, it would displace the Drones' pecking order in the Fleet.

Once they had a few doors between them and the hive, the only thing blocking their escape from the Data Center was a locked door. Dare's passcode did not work, but the Huragok did not need one. It went to work on the door, interfacing with its electrical systems. It was always a wonder to watch them work.

Buck nodded his head over to the Engineer as it worked. "I've seen hundreds of these things today, why is this one so important?"

"This engineer knows what the covenant is after, if I could safely capture more I would. What they know can win the war." Dare replied.

"...Oh," was Buck's only reply.

Dare shot him a look, "You haven't killed any of them have you?"

"No..." Buck slowly started, but he gave up half way through. "Okay, maybe one... or two."

Dare scoffed. "Nice work."

Naki's attention was drawn away from the conversation as the Engineer let out a series of delighted whistles. The door flashed green and slid open; there were more Drones, a lot more. However, they slept, blissfully unaware that this small team was making their way out right under their sensory nodes. The door on the other side led to something good, the elevator. It took a few seconds for the Huragok to power up the system, but once it did they were home free, atleast that was Naki thought was the proper saying.

The doors slid shut and the lift began to climb. Buck removed his helmet and got a whiff of the Huragok's gas sacks. "Oh lord that thing stinks..." He laughed. "Kinda' reminds me-" Out of nowhere, Dare walked up and punched the Trooper right in the jaw. Buck was stunned for a second, as was Naki and the rest of the misfits. "Hey! What was that for?"

Dare took a step back and shook her hand from the pain. "For abandoning the mission," she stated.

Buck waved his hands in the air. "What mission?! You dropped off the grid, my squad was scatt-" He was cut off again, this time by a passionate kiss. Dare leaned back to allow him to breath. "...And that?"

She laughed, "For coming back."

The Engineer glanced to the Rookie, who in turn glanced back, and then the two looked to Naki. She could definitely sense the awkwardness that was shared amongst species. The two Humans noticed the trio's reaction and buck cleared his throat. "You did good Rookie, no doubt, but we're not out of this yet. I've got a warthog out on the waterfront highway, and there 'aint room for all of us... so we're gonna' have to figure something out."

Dare glanced to Naki and then to the Huragok. "The Engineer is the priority asset. There is a secondary evacuation point that we were going to use before. Can you make it there on your own?" She asked Naki.

"Well, how far is it?" Naki asked. The entire point of staying in the city for this long was a guaranteed way out; having to find her own way, irked her.

A data-pad was produced from one of the ONI officer's pockets. She handed it over to Naki, showing their current location on the lower half of the city. A dot pulsed on the mainland, just on the other side of the river; it would be a long walk, but not as long as yesterday. "This is the location. You can keep the pad, and if we make it out of this city with Buck's plan, I'll let the recovery team know it will be only you."

Naki grumbled and slipped the small Human data-pad into one of her ammunition pockets. "Fine, that will have to be acceptable... I will part ways once we reach the surface then?"

"Yes, that'll work." Dare nodded. "Speaking of..." The lift slid to a stop, level zero.

The streets outside were abandoned. Naki did not hear any sounds of fighting like she had the night before. Either they were all taking a break, or the Covenant had successfully overpowered the remaining Human resistance. If she was going to go off on her own, she might as well do it now.

Naki took the data-pad out and looked at the map layout. She plotted a course and nodded to the trio of ODSTs. "I suppose I am leaving now. Perhaps I'll see you again soon."

Dare was the only one to reply to her and that was a simple maybe. The Engineer whistled and waved one of his tentacles at her as she headed into a nearby building.

Now that she had an actual map to guide her escape, it went much quicker. There was a bridge just to the north which should lead her over to the base of the Space elevator and then into a section of city on the mainland called; Kongowea. Sneaking passed Jiralhanae checkpoints was easy, their attention was drawn back on themselves as the most common topic for discussion Naki heard was the perfect temperature at which a Human roasts the best; not really something she wanted to know.

The late Ultra's command pad proved to be an invaluable tool as well. The Jiralhanae had not revoked its command codes or access to the upper echelon of the Battle-net. The Sangheili division however, was dead. There were some queries from hours ago, but nothing new; and her ministry had not had any activity except her own. It made her sad, that all her interns that she had been teaching for the last four years had been likely killed.

"Fuck!" Naki shouted. Her hopes of a speedy escape were destroyed as she took a few cautious steps up to the road deck of the bridge. When the Space Elevator had collapsed, some of the massive support rings had fallen directly down around the base of the tether, one was now barely peeking out from the waves where there should have been a bridge.

She glanced from side to side, looking for any way to make it over to that side of the river. There was something in the water, near the other side. Naki brought her Carbine up and utilized its zoom to see what the object was. There was a boat, chugging along towards inland, and there was a Sangheili on the boat... She zoomed to the max level her ACI and Carbine would allow. It was K`an... And there was a Human on the boat with him?

"What the hell?" She muttered, lowering the rifle. What was K`an doing with a Human? "K`an!" Naki yelled, waving her left arm in the air. "K`an, come back!"

However, he did not seem to react, or even hear her. The boat kept heading up river. "Why did I think he was going to hear me from here...?" She muttered. With another sigh, she stepped back away from the edge and checked the Human data-pad for another route.

There was apparently another highway, only an underground tunnel that led over to the mainland. She would have to back track along the last avenue, and find an onramp down to the lower level. Naki walked through the nearest set of security gates. Much to her surprise, a Spectre was crashed up against a highway divider. Plasma burns seared the side, and the corpse of a Jiralhanae sat in the driver's seat.

She walked over and pressed the release on the cockpit; the restraining cage slid up with a hiss. Naki pulled the corpse out of the seat and sat down herself, taking a second to adjust it to her stature. Pressing the ignition switch, the motor rumbled to life. "Oh thank the gods..." She backed it away from the divider and headed towards the tunnel. The Human data-pad held the command codes that allowed her to pass through the highway security barriers that sat every thousand meters. If Dare had not given it to her, she would have been trapped.

The Tunnels were partially flooded, but thankfully the anti-grav Spectre meant that it didn't hinder her progress. By the time she returned to the surface, Naki found that she was now quite close to the massive column of smoke that was the Slip-space crater. Glancing back over her shoulder at the city, her eyes were drawn to the new wall of smoke. The entire northern half of the city was gone, burned away by a fleet of Battlecruisers digging into the surface. This was an important moment; they had uncovered the portal.

Oh what she would give to be part of the exploration team that will go into that structure; but it was the Jiralhanae in charge now. The task would be given to San'Shyuum and Huragok. Not that it's unusual, but the fact that she had been a member of the team that would go down. She sighed and started again, headed out of the city.

The highway turned towards the coast and out of the old city, and gradually it became less and less dense. The marker for the extraction point was located inside a Marine preserve. Naki had not seen any evidence of the Covenant yet this far from the city center, however there were no Humans either. The people out here had enough time to evacuate.

There did not look to be a road that led further into the Marine preserve, so Naki brought the Spectre into a spot alongside the waterfront boardwalk. There were posters and stands advertising some sort of animal tours later in the day.

She took a deep breath and looked out at the water. "Almost out of here..."

There were footsteps behind her. Naki turned to face a pale Human, flanked by a team of ODSTs. He looked up at her and smiled. "Doctor Cimutee, I presume?"

Naki nodded but frowned. "How many times do I have to tell you people, I am not a doctor."