Chapter 18: Plans in Motion
As the crew floated lifelessly in space, the fragments did their best at keeping their declining condition stable. Gamma looked at Iota and Eta who both shook their head in disappointment. Their failures continued to pile on top of one another ever since this whole operation began. Where they gained a little ground, but lost a lot in exchange. Gamma turned to the sudden illumination of light their way.
Good, they are finally here, he thought increasing the beacon's strength. The crew onboard the lifeboat noticed the increasing strength and pinpointed the location. This revealed three more beacons. Captain Muffins looked out into the direction of their find while twirling his moustache. Hmm…That did not go so well then. He ordered his helmsmen to take the ship in slowly towards the pinpointed location.
"It's not looking good sir. According to the info we are getting here, they are at the risk of flat lining," said one of the lifeboat information officer.
"Then we best retrieve them soon ja." Muffins stated crossing his arms. They came upon the group. Everyone activated their oxygen supply upon being instructed to do so. One of the crew mates opened the door and held tightly onto the handles to the sides of the door. He fought hard against the forces that wished to evacuate him out into space. As soon as the whole life boat depressurised, he was given the green light to retrieve them.
Muffins activated his built-in radio and contacted the ship carrying the freelancers. "What is their status?"
"They will need some serious medical work help to patch up the beating they took sir."
"So simply put, it's all bad ja?"
"Um I guess?" the soldier replied shrugging his shoulders. Muffins nodded his head instructing them to intersect at a certain point on their map with their ship. "We shall regroup for now."
"Uh oh, they aren't looking too hot either," the soldier retrieving them noted from their limp body. From just touching them he could tell that their bones were broken in certain places. There was some heavy damage done to them from their crash course towards Sector-D. One of the soldiers took this moment to try and lighten up the mood. "I didn't know you were into that type of kink Dave."
"Quiet!" Muffins declared earning silence all around. "We must retrieve them as quickly as possible and make our escape. This is no time for jokes. Also Dave, I respect your kinks but we are on duty man. Come see me in my quarters after hours, I have something fascinating to show you."
"It's a trap!" one of the crew members suddenly shouted sticking out their head. Muffins threw an ammo cartridge at the soldier. "No one asked for your opinion Buttmunch."
Dave entered with Simmons and looked back. "Okay, that's the last of them."
"Good, now let's make for the meet up point. Drive away driver man, cho! cho!"
They slowly flew under the radar, avoiding all detection by the space colony and finally made it to the meet up point. Over the ship wide communication, the other lifeboat communicated the following. "Sir, we don't have many supplies on board this ship."
"Neither do we," another soldier added from behind Muffins. He rubbed his chin and looked at the planet in front of them. "Can we make it to the nearest UNSC controlled space station?"
"Counting for the supplies needed to keep everyone from Blood Gulch stabilized, no."
"Then we make for the planet at once!" Muffins stated with everyone looking at it. One soldier raised his hand and asked. "You want us to land on that hunk of rock sir?"
"Ja, I do! Any problems?"
"Well, isn't that the place that hates UNSC presence in general?"
"Ja! It is a brilliant plan then no?"
"Private, come here for a moment," Muffins asked leading the young man to the exit door. He gave the signal for oxygen and suddenly opened the door. "You were saying?"
"I think it's a brilliant idea sir!"
"You have a bright future ahead of yourself on my crew," Muffins replied sitting the shaken Private back down. "Now make for the planet!"
"Yes sir," the pilots replied as they powered up the engines and began to fly far away from the space colony. Muffins looked back towards the destruction they had all caused and gave a salute to anyone who was still stuck on the station. May luck see it fit to guide you all to safety my Blood Gulch homies.
Equal looked out of his office and felt the change of scenery to be unwelcomed. He missed the freeway that ran by their building in Sector-D. Now situated in Sector-C, he had taken over one of his other offices. Like nearly everything else, there was a backup of everything here. Equal's office was located in all of the sectors. Each was designed the same and contained the same updated data. He saw the people walking about as if nothing had ever happened. But neither this sector, nor any other was affected by what happened in Sector-D, so it only makes sense I suppose.
Equal heard the door open behind him and he saw in the window's reflection that it was Justice. She situated herself in front of his desk and he slowly turned to stare at her. "How can I help you Justice?"
"Everyone in our army is curious to know what will be done with Captain Tucker and his allies?"
"Captain Tucker," Equal mused thinking of the Blood Gulch crew and how the low level soldiers were able to cause such immense damage. "If he is found alongside anyone that helps him or his allies, kill them."
"Does that apply to Captain Tucker as well?"
"Yes, there is no need for mercy towards him. It's too late for that," Equal said as his tone got a little harsher with every word uttered. He walked past Justice and excused himself. "Feel free to show yourself out."
"Where are you going?" she asked in concern of his well being. He stopped by the opening door and looked down at the floor. "I need to pay someone a very important visit in the residential areas."
Someone you say, Justice pondered shaking her head. She knew who he was going to, and she could only hope that they took the news well. Equal took the elevator down to the garage level and took a free vehicle. He had a soldier escort him through the various Sectors of the colony until they finally reached the residential sector.
"Pull up by that house," Equal pointed out to the soldier who confirmed his directions. Gently bringing the jeep to a stop, Equal departed with all that he needed. "I need you to wait here."
Equal stared at the door of the house and let out a deep built-up breath. It's now or never, I suppose. He walked up to the door and pressed the door bell. From behind the door he could hear a young girl's voice and footsteps rushing towards him. Following the girl were the footsteps of an adult. The door swung open as the girl cheerfully greeted their guest. "Welcome home da-"
The girl saw that it was not her father. In fact it was someone they never expected would visit their home. The mother quickly rushed up to her daughter's side and bowed her head in respect. "Equal, sir, this is quite a surprise visit."
He could not say anything. Seeing the young girl's ecstatic face quickly turn to somewhat disappointment saddened Equal even more. Forgive me, please. Equal asked if he could come in. The two made way for him and led him to the living room. As Equal sat down, he was offered tea or coffee, both of which he turned down. "I'm not here for long. It is a matter I was hoping to discuss with you in private miss."
The wife took one look at Equal and knew something was wrong. She could see his quivering lips. The daughter looked back and forth between the adults and held onto her mother's apron tightly. "Mommy, what's going on?"
"Honey, can you please go to your room? Take Mr. Bubbles with you, I'm sure he would love to spend some time there," the mother suggested holding up her daughter's favorite soft toy. She happily hugged him and rushed off to her own room. The wife sat opposite to Equal and held her hands together. From the silence she could tell it was something very bad. "This doesn't have anything to do with my husband, does it?"
Equal's head fell low telling her all that she needed to know. Her once strong and composed face began to break down. She shook her head as the heaviness of the moment began to settle in. "No…"
A tear escaped her eyes and Equal offered a tissue from the nearby box. She wiped her eyes and thanked him. She did her best to harden her heart for the news. "Please, just give it to me straight."
"Pure," Equal began looking down at the ground. He had his head in his hands. "He…died fighting valiantly against our enemies. But in the end he was bested. Rest assured that there will be an official funeral precession for hi-"
"The one who killed him," the wife asked again beginning to break down into even more tears. "Is he dead?"
Equal looked at her speechless, the amount of hate in her eyes far exceeded what he felt when he saw Pure's remains. He nodded his head at her noting. "Yes, his killer died alongside him."
"Good," she uttered endlessly wiping her eyes of the tears that refused to stop. Equal sat back and cleared his throat. "There were…there were others involved as well. These other people managed to escape the station after causing us a lot of damage. You will hear an official announcement about this later today. But the reason I tell you this is to let you know that they will be hunted down once we have a clue of their whereabouts. We have our best people working on this case."
"Good," she again uttered feeling rage brew deep in her mind. "There should be no mercy for the animals that killed my husband! Show them no kindness! They must pay for what they took from us."
Equal silently nodded his head at her words. He couldn't say anything else, and he didn't want to say anything else. They both mutually agreed that Pure's killers needed to be killed. It was the only way for them to repent for their crime. He slowly stood up and took out a contact card. He gently placed it on the table and looked up at her with slight pity. "Should you need anything, contact me on my personal number. Remember, we will be here for you."
He turned around to leave, leaving the widow to make sense of her own sorrow and loss. He exited the house and took in a deep breath. He looked all around and wondered about hate. Just how many of you are filled with hatred in your hearts? Locus, you tried to stop me from using hate as my fuel. But with you trying to stop us, you killed many. That only increased the hate. You achieved the opposite of what you intended, how could you stand to utter such nonsense as using diplomacy then?
Equal sat in the jeep and instructed the soldier to take him back. He took out his tablet and contacted Truth over a secure channel. He heard the aloof voice of his soldier greet him from the other side. "Yello, what's up boss?"
"Truth, I have a mission for you."
"Okay, I'm listening."
"I need you to go to a planet we have speculated to contain another one of the swords and retrieve it. Losing Captain Tucker's sword was quite a shame, but if we can get another one then we may be able to launch our attack on the UNSC sooner than anticipated. Understand that this mission is of great importance, it will effectively decide how soon we can act to obtain our vengeance."
"So, no pressure then," Truth replied jokingly and followed up with a confirmation. "I understand the mission, I will head out immediately. Will all the info I need be transferred to my tablet?"
"Yes," Equal replied. "But the pilots of your ship will also have it, so rest assured that information will not be an issue."
"I look forward to a positive resolution," Equal said before cutting communications. He placed it in one of the compartments and watched the scenery. We must prepare for a war will come soon, and with it so shall our vengeance.
A vent kicked open in an empty hallway. Tucker exited first, followed by Caboose, then by Lopez, then by Doc and Sarge. They looked around and no one was in sight for several meters. Good, thought Tucker as he explored the area and led the crew to an exit door. He opened it a crack to peek outside and found that the streets were far busier than the ones they had been in before. Great, where did we exactly come out to?
He turned back to the others and said. "Okay, so good news is that we are out. Bad news is that there is a shit ton of people outside so we may not be able to move around as much as we thought we would."
"Why not just keep our heads low?" Caboose asked and everyone looked at him shaking their heads. Tucker even went as far as to sarcastically say. "Yeah, you do that first Caboose. If it works, we will be sure to catch up on this then. That is if they don't find you and persecute you first."
"You are all just jealous of my idea," Caboose replied pushing past the others and walking in plain sight. God rest his blue soul in peace, Sarge thought as he saw Caboose enter the crowd. A few minutes later, there was no screams of horror or cries for help. Everyone looked around at one another confused. Doc couldn't believe this. "C- Could it have worked?"
"I don't know, Caboose's plan working…something sounds sketchy here," Tucker replied skeptically. But he didn't know what else to do. "You know what? Fuck it! I'm going to try it."
Tucker walked out with his head low and no one screamed. Doc and Sarge were both impressed. They both agree to go out at the same time but maintain some distance from one another. It worked for them. The only one left was Lopez. Sarge looked at Lopez from afar and communicated over the radio. "Come on Lopez, just keep your head down and keep on walking in our direction!"
Lopez took one step outside and everyone's eyes were turned on him. "[Dafuq?!]"
A child pointed in the robot's way with a shaky voice. "Mommy, why is there a Spanish robot here?"
Everyone covered their mouths as they gasped loudly. Lopez felt his CPU overheating from the anger and shouted. "[FUCK YOU, YOU RACIST PRICKS!]"
Lopez ran through the crowd and into the back alley. The others made a break for it further down the alley and into the complex network. They all stopped to catch their breath as Tucker shook his head at Lopez. "Man, why did you have to screw that up? That was so easy Lopez!"
"[Up yours]," he replied holding up the middle finger towards Tucker. Sarge looked around and saw that there was no other life in plain sight. "So uh, what do we do now boys?"
"Decide on our next move I guess," Tucker replied going to the nearby steps and taking a seat. The others sat down all around and put their heads together. Doc however was at the brink of giving up already. "Look guys, I don't mean to be a downer but, what can we really do with just the five of us?"
"A lot," said Caboose. Tucker scoffed at the response asking. "Like what?"
"Come on, you can't give up like that!" Sarge replied pulling out his shotgun. "We made it through the worst. Surely we can make it through whatever else this Equal fella has to throw our way."
"Sarge, losing more than half of us is not counted as making it through the worst," Doc added with O'Malley taking over. "That is a matter of perspective. For example, seeing Grif excavated into space only to meet a brutal end counts as a win in my book."
"See, O'Malley knows what I'm talking about! Also we can't just do nothing hoping for things to get better," said Sarge itching to take action. They all agreed, but what could they really do? They all put their heads together but could not come to a much more comprehensive plan other than kick Equal's arse. Sarge let out a sight. Why am I not surprised? Kick arse, for god's sakes that isn't even a military term! They should make it one now seeing as how often we use it.
"Yeah, this is the best plan we have right now then," said Tucker knowing this plan was better than no plan. "Plus, I want to avoid another war."
They all agreed remembering back to Chorus. They all took a moment of silence for the soldiers that lost their lives on Chorus, and then stood up to decide on a direction to go in. Caboose looked at the others worriedly and asked. "But what about the others?"
"We can't do much about them right now Caboose," Sarge replied even though he hated that response. "They are on their own."
"Yeah, we will just have to have faith that they are still alive," Doc added. "And that we will all see one another again."
"Just gotta have faith," Tucker repeated as they started to walk away. But before they could take more than a few steps from their spots, they heard a door open in front of them. Outlined by the light inside the building was a man.
"Captain Tucker?" asked the man with a hoarse voice. Tucker looked at the others and said. "Um, yeah."
The man motioned for the crew to follow him. Tucker stopped Caboose from innocently going with him. "Hold on, who the hell are you?"
"My apologies for not introducing myself. All you need to know is that I'm a friend of Locus' and was tasked with helping you and your friends after his passing. We don't have much time Captain."
"Okay, but how do we know that you are telling the truth?" Tucker questioned stepping in front of everyone else. The man nodded his head and took out a dog tag. He held them out the door and waited for Tucker to reach over. Tucker studied the dog tags and looked up at the man covered in robes. "What is this?"
"A dog tag, they belonged to Locus from when he was in the military. I also have this audio recording from Locus," the man replied playing the recording. Upon hearing Locus' voice and how Locus vouched for the man, they all decided to follow him. Stepping inside the building, they all saw that it descended downward several steps.
"Kinda creepy in there," Caboose noted seeing how the light faded the further along the stairs went down. They all slowly started to follow the man with Sarge being the last. He looked outside one last and closed the door behind himself. He activated the light on his gun and followed the others.
Soon, they descended completely down the dark steps and were met by an equally dark tunnel. They all began walking deeper and deeper into it hoping for the best. Trying times are sure to come, they all thought. Here is hoping that we can cause some major damage to you Equal and bring down your resistance group.
A/N: That is it, it is done! Now I can move on to the next and final season of this story.
Thank you for sticking to the end with this one. I hope you look forward to the sequel in which more is explained as well as a resolution to this storyline.
Thank you to all those that favorite, added this to their alert list and reviewed/commented on this story. I hope you were able to enjoy it so far and look forward to a much darker season 16. I hope you were able to find enjoyment out of this story and look forward to the next entry in this trilogy.
Also just a heads up (this only applies until Season 16 has not been posted), there may be a considerable delay before anything is posted. I want to take the time to plan things out for that one rather than use the same writing structure as I did here. Which was basically go in and do some writing on the spot. If Season 16 is already posted and you are reading this, well then I guess wipe it from your memory… :P
~ Monty Mason