A/N: Due to a discussion with my beta Garion Faldor, we managed to created a new plot twist and will extend the story :), I STRONGLY advise you lot to go and read Garion's Chronicles of Utopia stories otherwise you lot will probably be left in the dark, so in essence do not do your homework at your own peril. You are all wonderful readers and reviewers and I don't want to lose you due to confusion so I'm giving you all plenty of notice. Also when I finish it and start posting check out my Dark Tides trilogy, they will take you for a wild ride ok? You'll need these stories or at least knowledge of them soon so kindly hop to ok? For me?
Chapter 31: Mapping the Ring World
Darlana looked at the map and passed a hand over her tired eyes. Blinking a few times, the elder sorceress smiled at the report from her children. So far half of the ring was under Covenant control. About a quarter was under the control of her forces with the rest being explored by both sides. The number of clashes had been growing but after the loss of the Truth and Reconciliation, plus the utter destruction of the space fleet, the Covenant seemed reluctant to engage in any major battles. Darlana grumbled to herself before flopping on her couch to take a nap.
Darlana suddenly found herself floating in a featureless void seemingly beyond time and space, before her floated a door, secured behind layers upon layers of powerful wards. With a thunderous crack the door burst asunder, forming a mass of blackness deep as the void. From within it a voice cackled. "FREE! I AM FREE ONCE MORE!"
Darlana shot up, yelping in shock. As the details of the dream began to fade, all she remembered was a door and a void. Legolas came rushing in from the other room, worry etched on his face.
"Darlana are you alright?" Darlana shook herself for a moment as her husband gathered her up in his arms and held her close. Darlana was shivering at the shock of what she had seen.
"Darlana?" Legolas asked nervously.
"I'm fine, I think." Darlana said quietly as Legolas pulled her in close, wrapping his arms around her.
"I saw part of that. What do you suppose it means?" Darlana shook her head, trying to get the scary thoughts from her mind.
"I have no clue." Darlana said quietly as Legolas rubbed her back soothingly.
"Come, let me wash your wings, it always relaxes you." Legolas suggested. Darlana smiled in relief at her husband's suggestion.
"Saves me the trouble of doing them myself." She admitted.
"Oh you." Legolas said playfully as he surprised her by picking her up bridal style and carrying her to their bathing rooms. Legolas gently pulled off Darlana's top and she extended her wings to their full width. The Elf gently took an enchanted cloth, soaked it in a basin filled with glowing orange lava, and ran it over Darlana's left wing before moving between the wing tip and the third wing vertebrae.
"I am still amazed at the powers I receive from our bond Darlana." Legolas admitted. "The fact that something that was once lethal to me is now a mere bathing instrument astounds me."
Darlana nodded in agreement as she lay facedown on a conjured massage mattress. She enjoyed the soft feel of her husband's hands on her wings. As Legolas worked slowly and methodically, Darlana began to relax. She felt him massage the soft skin of her left wing before moving to her right. Not long afterwards he moved to where her wings connected to her shoulder blades in the middle of her back. He carefully undid her bra, lifting some of the sweat soaked material to clean and air them. He walked around to the front, facing Darlana who lifted herself up to kiss him. Legolas quickly snatched the forgotten garment and walked behind Darlana, finishing the massage.
"Ok give it back." Darlana said, glaring playfully at her husband yet still lying down.
"No Darlana, not this time, my love." Legolas remonstrated gently with a smile. "You are mine here and now."
"The girls can walk in on us at any time, you know." She replied. "I've had enough traumas from walking in on my parents several times by accident and I don't want to inflict that on our girls. Now give it back."
"Several times?" Legolas asked in amusement.
"In the kitchen or living room, it was getting ridiculous." Darlana sighed.
"Ahh." Legolas replied knowingly. He understood his wife's pain, having experienced it once or twice as an Elfling. However, he still dangled the black garment out of Darlana's reach while grinning.
"You want it? Come and get it." He teased daringly. Darlana growled and she chased Legolas around with her arms crossed over her chest, while yelling at him.
Outside the bathroom Dani and Dana, having returned from a fighter patrol heard some crashing and banging intermixed with their father's laughter and mother's annoyed yells.
"What's going on?" Dana asked. Dani shrugged at her sister and looked in the bathroom. A moment later her eyes crossed and she crumpled to the floor in a boneless heap.
"What?" Dana asked in confusion.
"Scarred…for….life." Dani stuttered as she spasmed on the floor. Dana sighed and dragged her semi-traumatized sister to their room by her ankle. She could sympathize with her twin but Dani could also be a real drama queen as well.
Later on aboard the TSA Greenleaf, Crown Princess Darlana Greenleaf was staring at numerous tactical reports on the bridge of the 45-kilometre Star Dreadnought. She rubbed her nose and tried to think of the purpose behind the massive ring world. Understanding its nature had seemingly eluded all the members of the Greenleaf crew and the sensors were not giving many clues to it either.
"Status report?" Darlana asked the Operations officer.
"Nothing new as of yet princess." The man replied.
"Run a diagnostic on the shields, I have a feeling that we are going to need them at peak efficiency." She ordered.
The officer nodded and turned to his station. Typing in a few commands, the computer began running the diagnostic as ordered. The massive Star Dreadnought ponderously moved through space around the ring world, its destroyers on patrol for any enemy ship larger than a heavy interceptor.
3 days later
Dani, Dana, and C-117 were standing by a transporter pad along with 36 TSA and UNSC marines, all of them ready to assault the map room for this ring. The landing team would secure a zone on the island where the map room was located. Afterwards, TSA Heavy Recon Vehicles known as Hummers along with UNSC Light Recon Vehicles know as Warthogs would be deployed for scouting and anti-infantry duties. Though the Hummers were used primarily for anti-infantry, they also had some anti-armor capabilities as well; a good driver and crew could hold their own against the medium level tanks of the TSA if needed.
"Prepare for combat transport in 5 seconds!...HIT IT MARINES." The TSA marine Captain barked as the marines lifted their weapons, ready to do battle with the Covenant again. The teams appeared in shimmering light and spotted the Covenant quickly. Opening fire, the marines sprayed death with bullets and blasters, assaulting the Covenant position.
"Reloading, cover me!" A UNSC marine called out.
"Copy! AMG out!" A TSA marine replied, pulling out an anti-matter grenade. The grenade sailed out among a group of Jackals providing cover for other Covenant with their arm shields. The front line failed to notice the AM grenade as well as the several frag grenades thrown by UNSC forces. The grenades decimated the line in blasts of shrapnel and annihilating energy but a red armoured Elite managed to fire several blasts at the UNSC marines, killing four of them as plasma struck them in their faces.
"Eat this!" A UNSC marine roared at the Elite as he emptied the entire 90 round extended magazine of his MA5C assault rifle into the Elite, turning it into chunky salsa as vengeance for his comrades.
Dani unleashed a barrage of plasma from her assault rifle as well, the weapon whining as the blue pulses slagged many Covenant warriors. Fortunately it did not take long to secure the beachhead; the Warthogs and Hummers were deployed in swift order. The Hummer had the general shape of the Warthog but a wider profile whereas the Warthog had room for one passenger and a turret; in contrast the Hummer had 4 passengers to cover, a middle area for the driver, and a flat bed area for a dome covered turret.
One of the TSA captains, with permission from the twins, entered the driver's seat. A moment later the twins entered the side seats on the front while C-117 climbed in from the back and entered the turret seat. Two UNSC marines with enhanced MA5C assault rifles joined them. C-117 panned the turret around and linked the sights with his suit, allowing Cortana, the AI in his head and suit, to help the car. As the machine swiftly scanned the vehicle's specs, it gasped in shock.
"A trans-location device? TWO anti-matter reactors power this vehicle? Phasing technology on the doors and windows to allow the passengers to fire out without affecting the armor?" The AI asked incredulously.
"What's a trans-location device?" One of the UNSC marines asked.
"A short range teleport." Dani explained. "This vehicle can enter and penetrate deep into buildings by jumping to areas wide enough for it and the turret cannon can retract enough to prevent any hiccups due to space confines."
The car drove off down the beach while the better scanners on the Greenleaf uplinked to the Hummer and transmitted sensor readouts to the onboard computer, which Cortana assisted in reading out.
"Based off the sensor readouts of the Greenleaf, there are two powerful energy signatures on this island." Cortana reported. "One is obviously the Map Room. The other is marked unknown but based off the available data it's probably a guard post of sort, possibly with a locking computer to the main map room." The AI concluded.
"Then let's go that way." Dana suggested. "Captain?"
"On our way." He replied when Cortana piped up.
"With the permission of the Captain and the Princesses I will take control the automated defence system on board the vehicle."
Permission was granted to Cortana so that she could take control of the mounted missile launchers and medium swivel sentry turrets. The vehicle continued to drive along the beach for several minutes before it encountered a Covenant patrol.
"Contacts! Going hot!" One of the UNSC marines reported.
"Copy that. Targeting with the turret. Opening fire." C-117 replied.
Bright blue pulses of plasma fire struck the Covenant forces, killing them almost immediately. The group drove on, their weapons ready for any more Covenant. The group had also gotten warning of Hunters. These massive blue armoured aliens made up of colonies of telepathic worms that formed the powerful warrior. these beings were some of the most feared forces in the cabinet, fighting in pairs called bond brothers these beings tended to destroy the lighter vehicles of the humans. Hopefully, the Hummer would be able to handle the monstrosities.
At the entrance to the guard post, numerous Covenant defence forces could already be seen. The forces consisted of numerous red and blue armoured Elites, at least 30 Grunts, six Jackals, and two Hunters. Sadly the Covenant forces had spotted the Hummer and were already opening fire on it. Blue plasma bolts were exchanged with green, along with glowing pink needle missiles and the bright green flashes of the Hunters' fuel rod cannons.
The turret and shields of the Hummer gave the vehicle a great advantage and it tore through the lightly armoured Grunts with ease. One of the Hunters ended up being rammed by the vehicle and knocked off the cliff to the ground below where its back was broken by a large rock. The Hummer's turret and four passengers opened fire on the outclassed Covenant warriors, destroying them quickly. The Hummer then turned down into the large gate to the guard post. It quickly moved down a hallway where the warbles of an Elite in red armor caught their attention. The zealous warrior opened fire with its plasma rifle, but the weapon in its hands was not powerful enough to breach the shields on the Hummer. Between the UNSC marines, Dani, and the turret, the Elite died quickly and the group continued driving down the ramp; though it was a bit of a tight fit for the wide vehicle it managed to squeeze through. The large military vehicle drove through a large door to find many toppled blocks of some sort blocking their path. Not long after a pair of Hunters approached and opened fire, two hits from their weapons dropping the shields to 90%.
"Cortana take them out." Dani commanded as the AI construct took control of the dorsal mounted swivel missile launchers. Erring on the side of caution, the AI hit the large Covenant warriors with three 5-isoton warheads each. After the blasts cleared, the huge warriors had massive chunks blown out of them, even through the supposedly impenetrable blue armor they wore.
"Ummm." Was all Cortana could say at the power of the missiles.
"These things are built to take on a tank Cortana." Dana reminded the computer to which the AI made a vague noise. The AI quickly recovered enough of its wits to find and use the repulsor beams to clear the makeshift barricade so the vehicle could continue. They continued on through the building into a circular room with a holographic computer in it.
"As I thought, this is a control room for the main door to the map room. Shut it down so the Covenant can't lock us out" Cortana said.
One of the UNSC marines hopped out and with a few experimental pokes at the computer, managed to hit the right button, unlocking the door to the map room.
Soon a couple of Covenant Elites came around the corner and began firing on the marine. He yelled and opened fire as he broke for the Hummer. The marine was lucky as he dove through the shields the moment the plasma fire was about to hit him.
"Floor it!" He yelled. The TSA marine Captain grinned as he drove right at the Elites, ramming them and throwing them off the huge cliff behind the locking mechanism, sending them to their doom. The Hummer spun around and began driving back out of the building and down the beach, intending to rendezvous with the other building of interest on that part of the Ring World.
The Hummer passed several Warthogs and Hummers with Marines of the TSA or UNSC onboard. That group joined the main Hummer with the Princesses and C-117 forming an escort of sorts. The convoy continued down the beach and found a half-slagged Warthog with two UNSC marines and a TSA marine exchanging weapon fire with a large Covenant group while taking cover behind a large fallen tree.
A Covenant Grunt squawked in surprise as he watched the huge convoy arrive and fled with a scream of fear. The group of vehicles opened fire on the out-gunned Covenant forces, which were quickly destroyed under the firepower of machine guns and plasma machine guns.
Splitting up from the convoy, the main Hummer drove on from where the Covenant forces had been fighting and found the way past blocked partially by the tree. Fortunately the Hummer's plasma weapon, combined with its powerful missile launchers, managed to make quick work of the humongous tree and continue on its way.
Driving up the pass, the Hummer found itself suddenly engaged by numerous Grunts and a red armored Elite backed up by two blue armored Elites as well. Gunning the engine, the Hummer sped off, mostly ignoring the Covenant forces, though they did send off a few parting shots.
Arriving at a large circular area, the group discovered a building of unknown purpose long since abandoned. From the wreckage, two Covenant Hunters engaged the Hummer. The Hunters fired extremely powerful green plasma blasts at the vehicle. One hit causing the shields to flare like a brilliant blue bubble around the vehicle.
Returning fire with the turret and a single rocket, the Hunters were quickly turned to slag.
The entrance to the map room building was obvious on all the Hummer's sensors as they entered the main area outside the building. Finding that the Covenant troops guarding it had already been killed by a small airstrike from a passing Drake class atmospheric fighter, the Hummer proceeded down the ramp into the building, the marines on board alert for any enemies that might be hidden nearby.
The Hummer switched to hover mode as it proceeded down the ramp since the turns were rather sharp. Fortunately hover mode gave additional control over the vehicle allowing the corners to be taken easily. Down the final ramp, a gold armored Elite called a Zealot was waiting with a two-pronged plasma sword in its hand along with two Covenant Grunts on either side of it, supporting him.
Seemingly indifferent to the threat, the vehicle drove straight down the ramp, smashing and crushing the helpless Covenant forces under the bulk of the vehicle. At the bottom of the ramp was a now unguarded door with two green lights on it. Taking in the door's size, the Hummer began charging up its trans-location device. It took a minute for the device to reach full charge, but by the time it had finished the target coordinates had been programmed into the computer. The Hummer suddenly disappeared and reappeared, sitting inside the narrow corridor beyond the door.
Backing down the hallway, the Hummer found itself in front of massive chasm; the gap was so large that a standard Darlana class ship could have dropped down the shaft without touching either side. C-117 using the zoom scope on the turret he was in and fired a single purple plasma bolt down the shaft. Even using the zoom scope, the plasma bolt left the commander's vision before it hit anything.
"Big gap." Dana quipped, looking through the rear camera on the Hummer at the tremendous opening.
"Indeed. There is no such record of any structure like this on either the TSA or UNSC databases." Cortana informed them.
"Well let's go the other way then." Suggested the TSA marine Captain driving the Hummer.
With the hover mode active, the Hummer was as silent as a whisper as it turned another corner. Suddenly it came upon an Elite working at a computer and completely unaware of the Hummer's presence.
The Hummer's turret switched to the quieter, more compact indoor anti-infantry cannon and the secondary mini-autoturrets deployed. With so many automated and manned defences, the Hummer was designated a building clearer for a good reason.
Foregoing any of these weapons, however, Dani instead threw a knife at the Elite with all her strength. Being a half-Dragon, the knife cut through the Elite's shields like butter, the blade burying itself so deep into the Elite that the point of the blade was embedded in the computer console.
"Heh, enchanted knives work wonders." Dani chuckled as the vehicle drove on.
"Great shot. Save some for the rest of us, would'cha." A UNSC marine joked to the elder twin, having seen the shot on a sensor screen. The Hummer floated up a ramp to a side where four sleeping Grunts could be seen.
"Seriously?" The marine exclaimed. "These guys sleep anywhere…can they hear us?" He asked.
"Not in hover mode and any bullets you fire will be silent to the outside because of the shields dampening the sound." The TSA Captain named Raxxus Frostwing informed them.
"Perfect… hey Captain, you a Dragon?" The UNSC Private asked curiously.
"Yes, a full silver. Now focus marine." The Captain muttered loudly.
"Ah, yes sir, firing." The Private muttered as a bullet shredded a Grunt. The body tipped backwards, spilling blue blood everywhere. There was no reaction from any of the other Covenant so the marines quickly killed the other three Grunts as the Hummer passed by them. The group continued on unnoticed by the Covenant, at least for a little while. Before long, a blue armored Elite noticed the vehicle destroying the forces it was commanding. The Elite was smarter than the others; while it did roar in surprised anger and fire off a few shots it also ran for cover.
Frustrated with her inability to line up a clear shot, Cortana fired a rocket at the cowering Elite as it fired out from cover. The rocket blew the Elite and the five cowering Grunts behind it to oblivion in a fantastic display of overkill. Another inconvenience dispatched, the Hummer continued down its path through the facility until it came to another door. The trans-location device powered up and hopped the hovering heavy recon vehicle through the door and onto a descending ramp where it continued down. As they continued on their way the group soon came across two dead UNSC marines surrounded by Covenant bodies, including an Elite in red armor with a combat knife buried between its eyes.
The tags and ammo were collected from the UNSC marines and their bodies dematerialized into the data cargo cache of the Hummer while the guns were kept as spares for the two UNSC marines.
"Collect the Covenant weapons. Sadly we do not have the ability to replicate UNSC ammo onboard this thing without extensive modifications from parts we do not have. Fortunately, we do have some replicating ability for TSA weapons." Captain Frostwing said to the marines. The men quickly obeyed while C-117 covered them with the turret.
About 5 minutes later a mix of Human, TSA, and Covenant weapons filled the secondary weapon cargo containers inside the Hummer. The group continued to drive until a Grunt squealed at seeing them a moment before one of the auto-turrets killed it. A small hidden Covenant platoon, including a pair of Hunters, attacked them in response.
"Diverting power to shields from secondary systems." Cortana spoke.
"Thanks Cortana." Captain Frostwing said as he drove towards the Hunters.
"They're coming from behind." One of the UNSC marines called out.
"Commander, take out the Hunters. Cortana, save the rockets for later; we can replicate them but I'd rather save them for now. Marines, cover the rear. Princesses, I would suggest taking out the supporting forces and then assist the Commander." Captain Frostwing said.
There was a series of acknowledgements as the auto-turrets assisted the marines and Princesses by shooting at the Grunts, Jackals and Elites.
The HRV drove forwards with all guns blazing. The main turret fired on the Hunters, their powerful plated shields melting slightly under the force of the plasma as they huddled down behind the massive shield as much as possible and fired back with powerful green plasma bursts that caused the reinforced shields on the vehicle to flare into the visual spectrum as they absorbed the attacks.
"Shields down to 95%." Cortana called out as one of the Hunters succumbed from several plasma blasts to its orange faceplate. The twin Princesses had finished off the Covenant in the front, though most of the Covenant forces were flanking and coming from behind.
"Commander, the front auto-turrets and us will deal with the Hunter, help your marines." Dani ordered, knowing what she was doing. The Commander obeyed while Cortana took charge of the auto-turrets. The UNSC AI fired on the Covenant troops with the auto-turrets helping.
"Gah, damn Jackals and their shields." The other marine grumbled as his bullets either pinged off the arm shield or the wall it was using for extra cover.
"Keep firing, we'll get through eventually." The first marine growled as he kept shooting until C-117 took out the Jackal's shield gauntlet. "Thanks for the assist sir." The marine said as he finished off the Jackal that he was shooting at.
"That's the last of them." The other marine crowed successfully as he finished off the last Covenant Elite behind them. "Heh, they weren't expecting this kind of firepower to come at them." The marine chuckled to himself and the rest of the crew laughed in agreement though C-117 was as stoic as ever behind his helmet and gold visor. The Hummer drove down another ramp, turning the corner until they came to another door; this one was much too small for the vehicle to drive through. The door opened when the HRV approached and it trans-located through the door to kill the surprised Covenant light forces behind it.
The HRV drove through the lower building until it came to a series of ramps. Driving down the ramps on hover mode made the trip quicker and finally the recon vehicle made it into the map room after killing the guards. Activating the map, Dani opened her comlink and connected to the Greenleaf.
"Dani to Greenleaf."
"Go ahead Dani." Her mother said.
"We have activated the map room. You should be receiving the transmission soon. Requesting pickup and transport to new coordinates."
"Deploy your disposable transport enhancer beacons." Darlana said.
"Copy that." The beacons were deployed and the Hummer was beamed up and transferred to a new location.
A/N: Done and done… 3 months I am so sorry, life sucks sometimes. Sorry for the repost... editing things I missed originally.
Hummer class Heavy Recon Vehicle.
Roles: Heavy aggressive recon, deep enemy territory/convoy/supply suppression, partial anti-armor role.
Weapons: 8 plasma auto-turrets (plasma calibre equivalent to standard alliance plasma assault rifle). 1 Mark III medium anti-vehicle turret 20 isoton plasma burst turret. 1 Mark III medium indoor anti-infantry 5 isoton turret. Six swivel 5-10 warhead varied isoton missile launchers. (Turret is enclosed in armoured dome)
Passenger capacity: 4 (6 with turret manner and driver)
Additional equipment: Translocator site-to-site transporter (built-in), deployable translocator beacon, sensor drones, and deployable disposable transport enhancers.
Protections: Dual mark V shield generators, mark 7 ablative armor generator, enclosed carriage with phasing technology reacting similar to shield technology.
Additional notes: This design is meant to head deep into enemy territory and harass, bearing weapons and protections able to take up to, and in rare cases beat medium and heavy tanks. Able to crush any law enforcement or National Guard capabilities except en mass. The HRV is meant to force the army to pull heavy hitters from the front lines to deal with the infiltrating HRV.