AN: Ah, summer. The recession from the chaos of academics and stress adored by students all over the globe. I hope that I will be able to update more often. Anyways, here is the latest installment in the HaloSWEndwar saga. Thanks for all the positive reviews, guys! I appreciate it.
DISCLAIMER: I do not own Halo or Star Wars. Those rights belong to Bungie (343 Industries) and Lucas Arts. Any character(s) or object(s) not included or mentioned in each company's respective sagas are mine. All the rest are theirs.
0100 hours, April 20, 2576, (Military Calendar) \ Arkanis Sector, Geonosis System, Geonosis Theater of Operations, Alpha HQ
Lieutenant Vincent-123 fingered the muzzle of his treasured M45, calmly surveying the endless sea of desert before him. The UH-144 Falcon suddenly swerved to the right, disrupting the Spartan-IV from his reverie. Four Republic commandoes, called a "pod", were seated in the Falcon, silent and stoic as ever. Their tarnished, Katarn-class armor contrasted greatly from Vince's own blue MJOLNIR Mark-VI, technologically and in design. One ARC by the nickname of Dig, who was a newfound friend, sat by the Spartan. The Alpha-ARC shouldered him gently.
"Something bugging you, lieutenant?" he asked, voice crackled from the helmet's mouthpiece.
"Nothing, its nothing." he reassured the Special Forces clone trooper.
In fact, something was bothering the MJOLNIR-clad Spartan. Ever since the deployment from Alpha HQ, an inescapable feeling of dread had enveloped his chest. Not much could scare a Spartan, but Vince had a nagging notion that something was awaiting them.
"This is Echo 318; we are on approach to objective. ETA three minutes. Over."
"Copy that, 318. 513 is tailing fast. Over."
The conversation between the lead pilot and his told him all he needed to know.
"Station 13's coming up, boys," he called to his team, "Let's lock and load!"
The commandos nodded simultaneously, their seemingly robotic movements echoing that of Vince's own brethren. One of them retrieved a black case from the cargo hold and opened it with a click. He withdrew a dark-black blaster cannon from the box then slung it over his broad shoulders. Vince admired the weapon as the clone slowly rubbed an oil rag over its metallic surface. He had seen the Z-6 in action many times in the past, and he had like it even more than the UNSC's own, similar guns. The cannon could mow down more enemies than the LAAG. Vince turned away and looked back down the side opening.
Station 13 was a massive hulk of a droid foundry built into the side of a large canyon. Several long, black pipes rose from the top of the foreboding structure, emitting streams of sulfurous smoke into the already much-abused air. There was three main building sections, each adjacent to each other. A thin stretch of light metal projected from the side of one of the buildings, ending in a circular pad criss-crossed with landing markers.
"There's the DZ," he pointed out. "Our troops on the ground will be busy infiltrating through the hives below; our job is to clear a path for more soldiers to file in. Once we have sufficient numbers, we are to eliminate as many hostiles as we can and retrieve the plans for the super-weapon. When that's over, the demolition guys will set up the bomb and we hightail it out of here. Understood?"
"Yes, sir." They addressed the Second Lieutenant.
"Good. Now get ready, looks like we have some unfriendly company," he said.
Five Geonosian sentries were sprinting along the metal pathway, wings buzzing in an attempt to fly. One of them succeeded, winging his way towards the Falcon. Stupid move, Vince thought. What was a lone Geonosian guard going to do against a Falcon, much less seven other Republic transports and two Pelicans. Then the guard took a familiar blue orb from his hip harness and lobbed it at the Falcon.
How had a plasma grenade found its way to a remote droid foundry on Geonosis? Vince saved that thought for later; right now, his team was under the threat of being blown off the transport.
The Falcon swerved in an attempt to dodge the sticky explosive. The pilot succeeded, avoiding the crackling grenade. It detonated halfway down the ground.
The pilot cursed and unleashed a barrage of bullets at the Geonosian. The insectoid flailed, and what was left of it fell to the red sands below. The other guards, seeing that their plucky friend had failed, backpedaled back to the main entrance, firing their sonic blasters on the way.
The Falcon positioned itself nose-front towards the Geonosians and fired its machine guns. The guards fell under the barrage. The helicopter moved to side, allowing her troops to land. Vince felt his boots hit the metallic landing pad, then waved for the Falcon to leave. The sunglass-bearing pilot saluted and rose into the sky, back to Alpha.
Dig and the pod of commandos gathered around him, looking for guidance.
"We move now," he stated. "Hopefully, not everyone was alerted by the gunfire, so we should be okay for the time being. Dig, you take point."
The ARC nodded and lead the way, DC-15 held at ready position. The others followed, careful to check the front wall for any sign of hostile movement.
The main door was already open wide, letting the Spartan and his team in.
They entered into a dimly lit corridor, overhead lights blinking slowly, then they shut altogether. An acrid stench filled through Vince's filters. The commandos and Dig put on their night vision goggles, the bulky eyepieces covering up their blue visors. Already possessing the ability to see in the dark, Vince didn't bother.
Their feet clacked noisily off the holed metal path, and Vince thought he heard the sounds of throaty clicking. The lights turned on, and Vince discovered that there were pockets of space made in rows along the walls of the hallway, all carrying clusters of angry Geonosian soldiers.
"Open fire!" he ordered without hesitation.
Vince brought up his shotgun and blasted an unlucky sentry a few yards back, his entrails trailing loosely after him. The clones fired, bringing down more of the, fortunately, unarmed aliens. Vince saw three of the Geonosians running towards a side hatch cut into the organic walls. They opened it and withdrew several sonic blasters.
Vince chucked a fragmentation grenade at the trio. The explosion and shrapnel ripped them apart. The other aliens, seeing the armory, rushed to it. The elite soldiers mowed them down without remorse, but a few of them were able to reach it. Vince felt a sonic blast hit him in the chest. His shields flared, and his shield bar whittled down an inch. Suddenly, an alarm blared somewhere inside the foundry. Dispatching the alien that had shot him, he raised a gloved hand to his helmet.
"Enemy contact, I repeat, enemy contact. Our position has been neutralized."
"Affirmative. Attack group is heading towards the station. Over." Ayala said from Command.
The number of enemies lessened to a few, and Vince and the others cut them down. Dozens of Geonosian corpses littered the corridor, steam rising from their wounds. Vince walked over to the door and pressed a panel. The entryway opened.
The main factory was a huge cavern filled with mechanical gadgets and devices, all assembling together to create battle droids. An orange light blanketed the room, and Vince could feel the heat waft through his filters. Vince ducked as a huge crane revolved near his head, carrying a vat of boiling lava. A conveyor belt ran smoothly along the center of the factory, transporting unfinished droid parts. The lieutenant looked back and nodded at the clones behind him.
He took a few steps back and leapt onto the conveyor. The structure rumbled as he landed, but the Spartan steadied himself. He found himself moving forward as the belt carried him further along the factory. The rest of the clones jumped, and they managed to land right behind him. Vince pointed to an open ledge to their bottom right.
"According to the schematics the spooks procured, that door should lead down to the Control Room. We'll shut down the droid production factory then find the plans."
Vince jumped again, landing squarely on the metal ledge. Once the team was all there, he opened the door.
And almost collided against a Super Battle Droid.
He raised his M45 and blasted the thing before it could shoot. The Spartan kicked the remains off the platform and down to the fathomless chasm of the foundry.
The corridor was dark, and the night vision went on once more. They continued to move, then a deep rumble made them pause.
"The attack must be starting," Dig commented, head raised as dust seeped from the ceiling.
"Then we have no time to waste," Vince replied. "Let's move."
They continued to make their way down the factory, ears peeled for any sounds of movement. The group made it to a door, and an inscription on the side read: Control Room.
Vince stepped back and kicked the door open.
A few Geonosians were seated at the controls, but stood up when the entrance pulled apart from the outside. Vince blew them apart, their blood splattering against the security screens. The Spartan kicked aside their corpses.
"Dig, find the location of the plans," he ordered the ARC. "It's bound to be here somewhere."
The clone dutifully sat by one of the control panels and started typing, helmet fixed onto the shifting screen. The screen polarized into the view of a security camera, and it showed a dark room, centered with a massive holoprojector. The hologram was in the shape of a revolving sphere, half-constructed to show the inside. Certain individuals were hurriedly racing across the room, being attended to by various assistants.
Judging by the list that the Republic gave the UNSC, those individuals happened to be some of the major Separatist leaders.
"Isn't that Wat Tambor?" one of the commandos pointed out.
"Apparently," Vince answered. "Look at that man sitting on that big swivel chair. Familiar to you?"
The man in question bore white hair, folded neatly back his scalp. He had imperious black eyes, and a dark black-red suit complete with a cape.
"Kriff, that's Count Dooku!" Dig exclaimed.
"There's no way we'll be able to retrieve those plans if he's there." A commando said, despairing.
"Stow it, trooper," another growled. He went by Axol, and he was the team leader of the pod. "There's always a way."
Vince ignored them and moved to the side of the room, gloved hand pressed to his helmet.
"This is Lieutenant Vincent-123. We have secured the Control Room and managed to discover the location of the plans. Unfortunately, Count Dooku is in the facility. Requesting permission to engage."
Dig began to protest, but Vince cut him off with hand gesture.
"Negative. Wait for assistance. The Seps have cut us off in the canyon. The majority of us made it through, but some are still stuck there. We are attempting to rescue them, and at the same time, we are attacking the foundry. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT engage the Count."
The connection cut before Vince could reply. He stifled a curse. He faced the troopers.
"Stay here. If you see any droid or Geonosian attempt to come in, shoot away. You got that?" he commanded, pumping his shotgun.
"You can't be serious-"
"I'm dead serious. Dig, you're coming with me."
Dig nodded hesitantly.
The pair raced out of the room, leaving the commandos in a bewildered state. Dig raised his wrist and pressed a button. The schematics of the foundry erupted from his wrist device, and he turned it with his finger.
"The room where the Count is in should be down this hallway."
They sprinted down the hall, weapons ready. Five thin battle droids appeared out from the corner, guns raised. Vince and the ARC shot without hesitation, easily avoiding the droid's terrible aim. The machines crumpled, mechanical limbs breaking apart. The duo rounded the corner and came to a door guarded by two Super Battle Droids and a lone Geonosian.
"Clankers!" Dig warned, emptying a cartridge into one of the droids. The other lifted an arm, red laser splashing against Vince's shields. The Spartan grunted and lobbed a fragmentation grenade. It rebounded off the metal door and landed between the battle droid and the Geonosian. The alien let out a surprised squawk, and then smoke and shrapnel enveloped them.
Vince lifted an armored leg and kicked the door open. Dig followed with a thermal detonator into the room. The resulting explosion caused several cries of alarm and pain. Vince peered in and saw a lavishly clad Neomodian writhing in pain, half its green wrinkled body torn apart. The other leaders poured out of the room via a side hall, alien bodies scampering in fright. Vince withdrew his sidearm and shot a pale, tall, dome-headed humanoid in the legs. The "man" screamed and dropped to the ground, clutching his injured limbs. Robed assistants dragged him away, leaving a trail of blood.
"You just shot San Hill," Dig whispered in awe.
"He important?" Vince grunted, peering through the smoke for the real objective.
"Important? He's the Chairman of the Intergalactic Banking Cla-"
An invisible force promptly pulled Dig into the smoke. He let out a shocked yell then disappeared. Vince cursed and leapt into the room. When the smoke cleared, the sight of a grinning Count Dooku, lifting an impaled Dig with one hand, greeted him.
"Well, well, well," the Jedi-turned-Sith drawled darkly. "If it isn't the famous SPARTAN-IV the UNSC so proudly utilizes."
Dig choked horribly, attempting to grab the red lightsaber sticking out of his white breastplate.
Vince felt a surge of rage, but he pushed it down.
"Give me the plans and surrender, Dooku." Vince warned, M45 raised threateningly.
"I am afraid that cannot happen, Spartan." The Count replied, throwing Dig's body away. The ARC hit the wall, slumping to a bleeding heap on the floor.
"Then I'm going to have to kill you." The Spartan responded.
"Very funny, but I don't think-"
Vince blitzed him, finger already pulling the trigger of the shotgun. Dooku's eyes turned to slits and he sidestepped with abnormal speed, avoiding the shells. Vince swung his shotgun, intending to melee the Confederacy leader in the head. The Count ducked and slashed the air with his crimson blade. Vince managed to dodge the man's strikes, thanks to his genetic enhancements. Dooku feigned to the left, and the Spartan brought his shotgun up in an attempt to block it.
A dangerous mistake, one Vince realized too late.
Dooku cut the MJOLNIR breastplate in a diagonal arc, depleting most of Vince's shields. Then he followed with a savage slash, slicing his shotgun in halves. Dooku smirked triumphantly and Force-Pushed Vince back against the wall, earning a grunt of pain.
Dooku rushed him, lightsaber up. He brought it down, but the Spartan lifted a palm and clutched the Count's fist, stopping the strike. He stood and wrapped a hand around the stunned Sith's throat, gripping harder each time he spoke.
"You made a mistake in fighting me, Count." Vince said, voice low.
The man coughed, and saliva hit the front of Vince's visor. He smiled evilly, making Vince hesitate. Dooku lifted his arm to the Spartan's helmet and pressed his palm to the top.
"Oh really?" he rasped.
Pain like nothing Vince had ever felt erupted around his body, like waves of electricity coursing through his skin. The shields dissipated, leaving only Vince and his armor to withstand the Sith lightning that enveloped him. Dooku escaped from the Spartan's grip, hand still clutching the soldier's head.
"It's been fun, Second Lieutenant Vincent-123," Dooku chuckled. "No doubt your friends will find your and the clone's body. They'll rethink their actions the next time they find me."
Vince vaguely heard the sounds of gunfire through his pain. He felt the Count release him, and he fell to the ground. Through his HUD, he saw a familiar orange figure burst into the room, flanked by ODSTs.
"Kill the Count!" Reese ordered, firing his own MA5 at the Sith.
Dooku snarled and twisted his lightsaber in protective arcs, deflecting most of the bullets. Since lightsabers were not designed to protect against projectiles, however, some found their target.
Count Dooku howled in pain as a bullet impaled him in the shoulder, spurting red blood. Dooku charged the soldiers, crimson blade humming dangerously. An ODST screamed in pain as the former Jedi cut off his right arm. The elite soldiers scattered, but another Marine fell to his onslaught. Reese cried in anger and defiance and slammed his assault rifle on Dooku's back. The Count whirled and lunged, lightsaber knocking Reese back a few steps.
Reese dropped his weapon and tackled the taken aback Count. They hit the floor hard. Dooku wheezed for breath as the 1 ton pressure of the MJOLNIR armor pinned him to the ground. Reese drew his pistol and prepared to fire. The sidearm wobbled in the Spartan's grip, then twisted to the side. Reese was pulled into the air and down to the ground again.
Vince painfully turned his steaming head and saw a smirking Dooku striding over to the fallen Spartan. Reese attempted to rise, but before he could, streams of blue lightning burst forth from Dooku's outstretched hand.
Vince croaked out a warning, but it was futile. The lightning coalesced around Reese, depleting his shields. He writhed on the ground, biting back screams that threatened to spill from his clenched mouth. He shakily withdrew a combat knife from its sheath and threw it at the Count. Dooku laughed harshly.
The blade stopped in mid-flight, tendrils of lightning forming a web around it.
At this point, the remaining ODSTs started to fire. The bullets pinged off an invisible force-field around the Sith, dropping harmlessly to the ground. Dooku curled a lip and willed the combat knife into the air. The weapon pierced one of the Marines in the chest. The ODST fell to the floor, inert.
Vince attempted to rise, gripping his pistol in the process. Finally, he stood. Lifting his gun in the right stance, he fired. The lightsaber appeared and deflected it. Dooku grinned darkly.
Suddenly, a pair of Droidekas rolled out from the side hall and positioned themselves, blue spheres forming around them.
"Take cover!" an ODST hollered, hiding behind an overturned desk.
The destroyer droids fired, non-stop red bolts of lasers hammering against the Marines' obstructions. One soldier rose and pulled the pin off a grenade, but was quickly cut down. Vince cursed and retrieved his own grenade, waves of pain speeding through his body. He yelled and threw it at the general direction of the two droids. The explosion gave the ODST's a chance to counterattack, and they did.
One droid shattered to pieces, while the other continued to fire. Vince attempted to rise, but a polished boot slammed down onto his hand. Vince looked up and saw the gloating face of Count Dooku leering down on him. He looked in another direction and blocked bullets fired at him by the Marines. By then, the remaining droideka had been eliminated, and the five ODSTs left had changed their direction of fire. Dooku leapt into the air, red lightsaber whirling like helicopter rotors above his head. He carved apart an ODST, sending scorching limbs into the air. The soldiers smartly scattered, firing at the Count.
The Sith was too fast, however.
Dooku pounced and stabbed an ODST through the chest, then withdrew and beheaded another. The two remaining ODSTs dropped their assault rifles and drew their sidearms. Dooku avoided the pistol shots and slashed out in a horizontal sweep.
The elite soldiers fell, bodies sizzling.
Dooku inhaled deeply and released. He turned his attention to the two prone Spartans.
"These soldiers are efficient, but I have faced better. Surely you did not think that this would be enough?"
"Go to hell, Dooku." Reese seethed.
"Not today, I'm afraid." Dooku replied. "No one will help you, my friends. I have entirely devoted my defense remnant to holding off any enemies approaching this room. Unfortunately, help came in the form of your orange friend here."
Vince looked to Reese appreciatively.
Dooku extended both arms in front of him, and once again, blue lightning discharged from his wide palms.
Vince raised both arms in an X in front of him, gritting his teeth against the assault. Reese mimicked him, giving a defiant roar. Dooku glared and strengthened the attack. Vince could feel the heat intensify, yet he took a step forward.
Dooku opened his mouth, a foul cry emitting from his throat. The room lit up in a bright flash. Vince blacked out, hazily registering the feel of colliding against the wall. In his period of near-unconsciousness, he picked out a few words spoken by the sinister Count.
"Leave the lieutenant," he heard Dooku order. "Bring the orange one. Make sure he is unconscious at all times. Is my transport ready?"
"Yes, my lord." a Geonosian warbled.
After a few excruciating moments, Vince blearily opened his eyes.
A group of Geonosians and Super Battle Droids were hauling Reese through the corridor. Reese's MJOLNIR armor was practically steaming; Vince couldn't tell if he was dead or alive. He struggled to cry out in protest, but all that came out was a haggard croak.
Suddenly, the arrogant visage of Count Dooku blocked his vision. The man arched a delicate and thin white eyebrow, grinning slightly as he noticed Vince twitch.
"Still alive, are you?" he remarked. "I think I'll let you live. I will enjoy playing these games in the near future. Say hello to Skywalker and Kenobi for me."
He rose from his crouch, ink-black cape swirling behind him like liquid. Just as he stepped foot into the hallway, he turned, as if remembering something.
"Oh, yes," he said lightly. "Do say farewell to your Spartan friend. You won't be seeing him for quite some time. Goodbye, Vincent."
The Count left the torn, cluttered room. Vince dropped his head in defeat. He turned his head and saw the bleeding helmet of Dig the ARC looking back at him, accusing him of his death. Vince bit his lip.
The hours went by quickly. He distantly recalled being carried by Paul and Xavier, soot-stained medics working hastily to treat him. He remembered put in a Warthog, and the drive back to HQ. The battlefield around the foundry was destroyed. The remains of vehicles and droids littered the sands, mixed with the fallen corpses of soldiers. Vince remembered the distant boom as the demolitions team blew the factory apart.
He lay on a stretcher, armor piled onto the corner of the canvas tent. He stared blankly at the ceiling, catching brief glimpses of the dusky sky through empty spots in the tent. The flap opened, and he saw Paul and Xavier walk in, fully decked in their armor. Vince stared into the visor of the Xavier.
It had been a long time since he had looked at himself. Seeing his pale face shocked him.
Sharp features, but not too sharp to resemble a hawk. A creased forehead, sitting atop thin brown eyebrows. Domed cheeks slightly flushed from the lack of cool air. His sad gray eyes stared back at him through the reflection. He knew the look in those stone-cold eyes.
Xavier and Paul saluted Vince. He shakily returned the gesture. Xavier approached him carefully, as if one misstep would shatter him to pieces.
"How're you doing, partner?" he asked tentatively.
"Fine…I guess." Vince answered hoarsely.
"We know about Reese," Paul added, arms crossed. Vince didn't know if it was in a condescending manner, but he assumed it wasn't.
"I failed," was all Vince said.
"Not entirely," Paul responded quickly. "We did get the plans for the super weapon. The Count was too busy playing around he apparently forgot to bring some important material with him.
But he got something else instead.
Vince didn't let those words issue from his mouth. Partly because he didn't want to damper his comrades' spirits, and partly because he knew that was what they were all thinking.
Vince sighed and lay back on his pillow, savoring the lush softness. Before he knew it, he was asleep.
Paul and Xavier traded looks. Giving Vince one last worried glance, the pair left the tent, leaving the exhausted Spartan to his dreams.
Vince replayed the past event in his brain, constantly berating himself for his failure in defeating Dooku, saving Dig, and recuing Reese. As he thought, a tiny detail stuck out from the rest.
"It's been fun, Second Lieutenant Vincent-123…"
Vince's heart began to hammer inside his chest. His name was only known by close friends and higher-ranking officers. ONI wouldn't let that information slip from their grasp easily. How could this have happened?
How did Dooku know his name?
Reese awoke gasping for air. He coughed furiously, hacking up droplets of blood. After a few painful seconds, he tried to register where he was.
He could tell he was lying down. Lying down on top of a freezing metal table, arms shackled at his sides. He also learned he was without his familiar MJOLNIR Mark-VI, dressed in only a threadbare hospital gown. There was a single overhead light, positioned directly above his face. His augmented eyes adjusted to the light, and he looked around groggily.
He was in a dark room, shadowed mysteriously around the edges. He twisted in his cot, attempting to use his superhuman strength to break free of his bonds.
"I am afraid that won't work, Reese." a crisp, familiar voice spoke from some unknown spot.
"Let me go, Count." Reese seethed in fury. His veins bulged from his muscular forearms as he strained to release himself.
"That will most certainly not be happening, my SPARTAN-IV friend." the evil voice drawled. "I need you here for the time being. You are a curious specimen, Reese. A specimen we would like to closely inspect. You see, you and your fellow Spartans are something this galaxy has never seen. Something we covet very much. You are the key to the secret of the Spartan, Reese. With your help, we can possibly replicate your genetic augmentations. What do you say? Will you help us?"
"You already know the answer, Dooku." Reese said, trying to calm himself. His siblings always commented about how he was so calm in the face of danger. That and his famous speed were what defined him. Well, there was no running from this situation. So his patience and endurance was what he had left.
He heard Dooku sigh in feigned disappointment.
"I expected as much."
Suddenly, hulking silhouettes materialized from the shadows, red lights blinking on and off threateningly. Reese realized they were machines. The mechanical droids positioned themselves above the Spartan, spindly limbs preparing to dive in for the kill.
"These droids will uncover the secret to your enhancements." Dooku explained. "I already have the best technicians from the Techno Union and Baktoid Armor Workshop working on your armor."
As the machines descended upon him like arachnids, the voice of the Count echoed in his ears.
"Good luck, Reese. Stay alive for me, will you?"
Not much could make a Spartan scream, but in a few hours, they could be heard through the walls.
AN: Dun, dun, duuuun! How's that for an ending? Sorry about the horrible start, guys. I started getting into the groove in the middle of the chapter, so I made up for it.
Regarding the story: The works of the Covenant spy can be clearly seen throughout this chapter. If you didn't figure this out beforehand, well, here it is. I just wanted to clear that up.
*IMPORTANT NOTICE*: I have decided to divide HaloSWEndwar into segments. This being the preliminary relationship between the three governments. My next story will be named Endwar: Breaking Point. Basically, the whole story will involve the twilight years of the Clone Wars and get into Order 66. Thanks for the reviews, people, I appreciate it tremendously. As always, R&R!