I was in a rush. Sorry.

Nevada

The Foder pickup truck rumbled through the desert at night, with an unusual lump that was covered in black sitting in the bed. The truck's occupants, two farmers, were smoking and talking at the same time.

"How am I supposed to know where the police are, Bob?" Steve asked.

"I don't know, just drive to Nevada City, they should have a police patrolin' over there."

Steve was outraged. "Nevada City! That's about 100 miles away!" he complained.

Bob shrugged. "What d'ya wanna do with the thing we found? Bring it home and cook it?"

Steve sighed. He shifted gears and drove a bit faster. If they had to go to Nevada City, they'd better do it fast. The Foder accelerated, it's hydro engine pushing in more water pressure. Bob threw away his cigarette and lit another one. He looked out the window.

"Shit. Steve! Steve! You'd better stop the truck. I think those aliens want their machine back."

Steve looked out. He saw three figures calmly moving towards the pickup.

"Ya think we can outrun 'em?" he asked quietly.

"I d'know, but it looks like they mean business."

The pickup screeched to a halt. The three figures walked up to the pickup truck. From the farmers' point of view, the shapes looked like a shadow in three dimensions.

"I believe you have something that belonged to us." A cold, menacing voice quietly stated.

Steve pissed in his pants. He was frightened by the aspect of dying at the hands of a three dimensional shadow.

"Uh, yeah. We have somethin' that, uh, belongs to you. Right? Yeah, we do."

The shadow motioned to the other two figures, and they heaved the covered machine out of the pickup. Bob gulped.

"Thank you for finding our cloaking device for us. We are most pleased." The shadow said, emotionless. He raised a human pistol.

Two shots rang out into the night.

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Officer Ted Hunts stared at the hologram.

"Seventeen days?" he echoed.

"Yes, seventeen days. Now, though, it's more like sixteen." The AI replied.

The AI's name was Solopsil. Solopsil was a core AI of ONI, who worked secretly under the nose of Jonathan Apathy. Solopsil was an old AI, same grade as Cortana. Hunts and the Control Room staff rarely got to ask Solopsil anything. Solopsil was like a ghost.

"So, we have seventeen days to prepare for our destruction." Hunts sat cross-legged, eating a hamburger.

"Either that, or find out how powerful the enemy really is."

"Uh-huh." Ted Hunts took a bite and set it down. "Apathy is already preparing for war."

"So is the Admiralty. Did you see the parade of Marines yesterday, going out to war?"

Hunts looked up. " War? With whom?"

"Why, with Apathy, of course."

"What!" Ted Hunts jumped up, astonished. Marines couldn't attack ONI. Earth depended on it.

He frantically rushed towards the emergency exit, just as faint gunfire sounded outside.

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Command Bridge, Divine Enterprise, orbiting Pluto

'Shozamee ducked behind a large potted plant. He fired wildly in the direction of his attackers, then rolled away. Just moments ago, about a hundred shadows armed with Covenant weaponry sprawled out of the abandoned Elite vessel, showering the Elites and their allies with plasma. 'Shozamee threw his plasma rifle at a shadow, listening in satisfaction at the following thump. He looked around. The shadows were more disciplined and intelligent than he had previously thought. They were circling them, herding the defenders towards the middle of the room.

"Shoot the ones near the door!" he commanded.

The nearest commandos aimed their carbines at the door and fired. Shadows dropped. 'Shozamee retreived a pistol from a nearby dead Grunt and started running for the door. Pretty soon, more Elites followed. They dove through the door and landed on the purple surface.

"We have to find the emergency escape vehicle!" he growled.

An Elite Guard stepped up. "Sir, the bridge EEV was jettisoned as soon as those shadows entered the bridge."

"Then we'll have to find a regular EEV." 'Shozamee went up to a wall and clicked his key code into the holo panel. The wall retracted, revealing five carbines. He tossed three to his Elites, and then held two for himself.

"These shadows will soon regret ever invading the stronghold of the Elites. Let's show them what we're really capable of!"

The Elites roared in approval. 'Shozamee then led them down the corrider. As if on cue, nine shadows lept from above. 'Shozamee gave the signal for confrontation, and bashed a carbine into the skull of a shadow. The other Elites fired their weapons. One minute later, it was all over.

"Casualty report." 'Shozamee said.

"We lost three, sir. Five of us are still able to combat." An Elite reported.

"Very well. Find an EEV for yourself, I'll catch up later. There's a matter I need to attend to."

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Near the fireplace, a figure was looking at the headlines on the report. He scanned for any Marine casualties, then scanned for Elite casualties. He then flipped to the military page, searching for anything he might have missed. He then got up for a cup of coffee.

The figure sat back down, staring at the news. He longed to get back into combat, but his leg wasn't healed yet. He would have to wait. He took a sip out of his coffee, and sighed. Then, the phone rang.

The figure picked it up, listened, and said, "Damnit, can't you see I'm retired?"

He listened some more, and smiled, "Don't worry. Your 'Last Spartan' will be there."

He then hung up and limped to the bedroom, where his suit of armor was waiting…

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Please R&R. Also, feel free to make criticisms, comments, or suggestions. I might listen to a suggestion.