Yeah. This was long overdue.

And yeah, I know I made a lot of mistakes in the previous 13 chapters (like the Reds and Blues being able to see each other's facial expressions despite still wearing their helmets), sooooo… I'll fix those later, I guess… .;

Anyhow, as predictable as it would be for me to finish this along the same lines of the Halo 3 ending, I thought it would be more creative to put a little deviation to the story. Enjoy.

Red vs. Blue: The Spartan Rejects

Episode 14: Living in a lie within a lie

: LANDING ZONE, THE ARK

: FORWARD UNTO DAWN

The ground quaked beneath them. The ship's alarms were blaring at red alert. Soldiers ran by in the corridors ahead, each shouting orders and equipping themselves with weapons and gear. Watching this all from a darkened maintenance access way, an unsettling knot twisted in Church's biomechanical insides. Something was wrong and the cause is not of their jailbreak.

"My feet are shaking," Caboose gazed down at his vibrating boots. When he rested the Gravity Hammer on the floor (Tucker gave it to him because it was too heavy and bulky and not sexy-looking), it shook as well. "Now my Hammer is shaking too."

Donut trailed his eyes after a heavy-loaded Marine, "Man, they must be really mad at us. That guy's carrying a flamethrower!"

"No…" Church adjusted his helmet back on, double checked his ammo counter and kept his ears open for announcements on the P.A. system, "…They're scared, of something else."

Sarge side-glanced at him, "Scared of what? The Brutes? Bah! These guys are all just a buncha yellow-bellied—"

On the button, one soldier came up to one of his friends right in front of the access way. The darkness of the tunnel was all that kept the two Marines from seeing them. "Any signs of them yet?"

"Negative. But I heard some of those rocks landed in the valleys near here," the other replied. Then, someone on the P.A. finally said, "All hands, prepare for launch."

When the Marines left, a baffled Doc turned to the other Spartans, "Rocks? They're afraid of rocks?"

Grif abruptly retired the subject, "Who cares what they're afraid of? We should be worrying about other things, like how we're gonna get off this ship!"

"Well, we can always borrow a Pelican from the launch bay," Tucker suggested as he moved on ahead, "I'm sure they won't miss one."

OOOoooOOOoooOOO

"Shipmaster's Carrier is out of commission, Chief. I need you to take down Truth. The Flood's just going to put pressure on him and accelerate his plans. Punch through the cliffs! Get inside that Citadel!"

Washington switched off his radio and set his sights toward the colossal angular structure jutting out from the wintry backdrop behind him. The Flood…Hmm. The director mentioned something about this, but he really didn't go into any detail. Well, in any case, this just means I'll have to be careful. He speedily analyzed the notes forwarded to him by the ONI spies posted near the Silent Cartographer. The information they gathered was a big help in tracking down OMEGA. However, according to their accounts, it was not them who discovered the rampant A.I.'s location; rather, all credit goes to a ragtag group of Reds and Blues.

Reds and Blues…? What are those simulation guys doing here? He was certain the director told him that all the Reds and Blues were sent back to Earth and its colonies. Most were put into rehabilitation and the rest had either gone home or were stationed as local militia. Due to the configuration done to their neural implants, any official military regime should refuse their enlistment. So how did these guys get in?

Before he could contemplate this any further something body-slammed him from the back. "AUGH!" He cried out and was mashed face-first into the snow. His assailant began to pummel at his spine, beating him to death. Washington reached for his dropped battle rifle and edged it toward him with his fingertips. After a couple unsuccessful tugs, he finally grabbed hold of it by one hand and filled half-a-clip into the assailant. The thing howled like a wounded animal and flopped on top of his back. Juices and gore saturated the Recovery agent's armor.

Pushing the body off of him, Washington rose and took a good look at his attacker. Needless to say, it was the most nastiest thing he had ever seen. Like some monster or freak experiment out of a videogame. Most likely this is the Flood the director had told him about.

His motion sensors then picked up more red dots heading in his direction. Perhaps its friends heard its dying call. Whatever they may be, he sure as hell do not want to find out.

He skated down the cliff and stumbled upon a company of Grunts and Brutes fending off more of those vicious creatures. Carefully avoiding detection, he snuck over to a Prowler that was flipped upside-down, rolled it onto its runners, and hit zero-to-ninety for the Citadel. His thievery, however, didn't go unnoticed. The other Prowlers fired blue plasma shots at him, nicking his vehicle and damaging the left passenger seat. If it weren't for the Flood, they would've gone after him in hot pursuit.

"That was close," he gazed back at the retreating Prowlers.

When he returned his vision to the front, he found someone sitting in the gunner position. Instinctively, he aimed his rifle at them, but the stranger spoke before he could pull the trigger.

"Are you going to kill me, Wash?"

Washington's finger froze. He recognized this voice. "Tex? How…? What…? …You're supposed to be captured by OMEGA."

The black-armored Freelancer turned in her seat and said in an insulted tone, "Really, Wash, you think I go down that easily?"

"No, it's just…" Washington was still taking in her sudden appearance, "I wasn't expecting you to be here."

Tex then faced forward and fiddled with the weapon controls, "O'Malley was trying to use me to activate…the Ark." She finished her sentence while casually taking down a few pursuing Drones and Jackals, "Whatever he was planning, it was just another one of his world domination plans, so I could care less." Then, she gestured down at the Elite sleeping in the passenger seat on the right, "Anyway, this alien and I escaped, but we still have a problem."

Her last statement made Washington feel like there was something more to be said. "And what's that?"

"First you tell me why you'rehere."

"You make it sound like I'm a bad guy."

"Well, you are still working for the director, am I right?"

Washington tightened his grip on the wheel. Sharp as always. "In a way, yes. But I have my reasons."

Tex waited for an explanation. When she didn't get one, she pressed on like the subject never existed, "You heading to the Citadel?"

"Yeah. My orders were to find O'Malley."

"Then I guess we can work together. For now."

Her indirectness was throwing him off. She is hiding something. As much as he would like to touch on the matter further, he knows better than to ask. Tex is not one to fancy being questioned, be it by friend or foe. The last person who did ended up in a body cast. With this in mind, Washington figured it would be best to not get on her bad side. "Looking for some payback?"

"That and I have a kid to save."

"Wait, you have a kid?"

"Just shut up and drive."

OOOoooOOOoooOOO

"So, uhh, how are we gonna get across this area undetected? Any ideas?" Simmons asked the other soldiers squeezed around him in the shadowed maintenance tunnel. Beyond the hatched sliding door ahead of them is a launch bay chock full of Marines, crewmembers, aliens, cargo, ships, and lots and lots of weapons and artillery. The plan to hijack a Pelican seems less than possible now with so many eyes watching for escaped Spartans.

The Reds and Blues slowly backed up and hid themselves in the shadows to avoid being seen.

"Oh, gee, I dunno, Simmons," Church's voice heavy with cynicism as he turned his head toward his fellow Blue's general direction, "Hey, Tucker, this was your idea. What do you suppose we do now?"

Tucker shrugged, "C'mon man, it was only a suggestion. Y'all went with it."

At that moment, a loud explosive sound went off throughout the ship. Everything quaked violently and the bulkhead shuddered under duress. The Reds and Blues all cried out and stumbled about against the walls and onto their knees. The hull moaned and creaked noisily as a telling of how damaged the ship is.

"—!" Donut squealed and quivered in fear with his hands over the back of his head and his visor pressed to the floor.

When the floor became less shaky, some of them pulled themselves up with the help of the close walls around them and looked about in confusion.

"What the fuck just hit us?" Church took hold the wall to steady himself once more when more vibrations rippled through the ship.

Tucker moved two steps forward and peered down the tunnel before them. At the end of it past the doors revealed panicking crewmembers scampering this way and that. Even more ominous than this sight was what happened after that.

"THEY GOT IN! QUICK! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!" screamed some of the frightened crew. All of them stampeded in one direction like fleeing deer from a predator.

The Reds and Blues literally almost jumped out of their armor when a Flood combat form pounced out of nowhere onto one unlucky crewman and began dismembering him and eating his face. Right in front of the doors of the maintenance shaft.

"Sweet Sasquatch!" a startled Sarge shouted.

Much to everyone's dismay, the Red leader's yell alerted the combat form. It glimpsed up instantly and bolted into the hatched doors, ramming into them. Everyone on the other side of those doors yelped and backpedaled with weapons drawn at it as the monster continued to repeatedly smash itself against the doors.

"L-Look! It can't get through!" Simmons nervously tried to reassure the others as well as himself.

However, when the doors began to give way, Tucker squawked, "Wanna bet?"

More combat creatures flocked the exit behind the ramming Flood form, crushing their hopes of having to only take down one enemy. The tunnel echoed with the sound of tearing metal of the weakening threshold.

"Fuck this, RUN!" Grif turned tail, threw up his hands in the air, and ran like the dickens in the opposite direction. For once, everyone had to agree and followed suit, wailing as they retreated along with the orange soldier.

Making it to the other end of the shaft, they were met with the mutant roars of even more incoming combat forms approaching them.

"Holy mother—! AHHHHHHHHHHHH!" the Reds and Blues flailed and about faced, running back the same way they came. Only, they were stopped again by the arrival of the Flood coming from the launch bay.

Grif huddled to the floor in defeat, "This is it! We're zombie food!"

"Grif, fire your weapon, you gutless wimp!" Sarge ordered as he opened fire on the Flood with his trusty shotgun. The others, and a reluctant Grif, also fired upon the encroaching monsters, seeing as how they had quickly ran out of options. Doc was the only one hiding in the middle of the group like a scared child.

"I don't wanna be eaten!" the medic bawled and curled up on the floor.

Simmons howled over the din, "Sir, there's too many! We're not gonna survive this!"

"FIRE! FIRE ALL YA GOT!" Sarge hollered at the top of his lungs.

OOOoooOOOoooOOO

"Huh? What?"

The Prowler Washington and Tex were riding on suddenly flickered once like a ghostly image. When the vehicle blipped again, Washington attempted to push some buttons.

"What the hell? It's not responding to me!"

"LOOK OUT!" Tex jumped out of her seat to the side and rolled across the snow.

Washington glanced up and saw the fast approaching rock outcrop and leapt from his seat as well. The Prowler collided with the rocks; but instead of blowing to pieces, it halted at impact, flashed and disappeared.

OOOoooOOOoooOOO

SECURITY BREACH DETECTED.

HOLO TRAINING GROUND 0019 SYSTEM FAILING.

REBOOTING SYSTEM.

LOADING… 1% complete…

"You ever wonder why we're here?"

26% complete…

"We are in the future, things are very shiny here!"

69% complete…

"Bow chicka bow wow!"

70% complete…

ERROR. SCANNING SYSTEM. PLEASE STAND BY…

SEARCHING FILES…

…FILE [CLASSIFIED] IS CORRUPTED. ATTEMPTING QUARANTINE…

SYSTEM FAILURE!
SYSTEM FAILURE!
SYSTEM FAILURE!
SYSTEM FAILURE!
SYSTEM FAILURE!
SYSTEM FAILURE!
SYSTEM FAILURE!
SYSTEM FAILURE!
SYSTEM FAILURE!
SYSTEM FAILURE!
SYSTEM FAILURE!
SYSTEM FAILURE!

OOOoooOOOoooOOO

Sister's magnum clicked empty as the last bullet casing dropped to the floor. Soon after, one by one, each soldier's weapon ran out of ammo. Tucker and Caboose tried melee attacks on the hideous monsters, but were shortly overwhelmed.

"AHHH! It's got me!" Doc shrieked when a combat form tackled him.

Three of the Flood forms pushed and pinned Sarge to the wall. The only thing keeping them from gnawing on his bones is the spent shotgun he put between them.

Everyone else fell to a similar fate, each brought down by the rabid snarling creatures.

Grif yelped while being pummeled by four more combat forms, "WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!"

Just when it seemed like death had arrived for the Reds and Blues, Caboose's body glimmered like a hologram.

"Huh?" the blue soldier took a glimpse at his hand, which fizzled and intermittently fade from sight. Soon, each flicker momentarily blinded him. Dark, light, dark, light.

"Wha-what's going on? Hey—!" a voice of panic rose from Tucker as he too began to shimmer away along with the others, including the Flood and their surroundings.

Witnessing all his teammates and rivals strange disappearance, Church whipped his head from side to side desperately searching for them. As much as he hated those guys, the sudden lack of familiar company and, even more so, everything going into oblivion scared him.

"What the hell? Caboose? Tucker? Guys?"

OOOoooOOOoooOOO

—SYSTEM TERMINATING—

OOOoooOOOoooOOO

: To be continued…