A/N: The idea for this was given to me by Speed5ter69 of RT. I will be using various canon and original characters as well as multiple points of view, so the POV will be posted at the top of the chapter each time. Anyway, enjoy Halo's answer to the zombie apocalypse.
EDIT, PLEASE READ: Ok, new readers, just so everything's clear the story was started before season 10. So a lot of things are going against the current RvB canon. Sorry about that. I'm going to have to ask you to ignore that, please. I hope it doesn't bother you.
Agent Massachusetts 'Massa'
Artificial Intelligence: Pi (Curiosity)
The rainforest was beautiful.
Massachusetts couldn't remember the last time she'd seen anything like it. Most of the simulation bases she'd been to were set in scrubland or ice, places she would never be comfortable in. Massa loved the greens and browns of the place, and the splashes of colour found on fungus and birds. She could happily spend her life out here –it wasn't as if she couldn't find her own food, and there was an abundance of clean water up a small mountain. Rainforests were Massa's favourite places.
However, one of her teammates disagreed profoundly with her opinion.
Michigan fell once again, cursing up a storm that scared off many small birds. No one offered to help him up, so he was left to stagger to his feet. His usual yellow armour was brown more than anything else, giving him the appearance of a badly bruised banana. On the bright side, it offered far better camouflage, like Massa's and CT's. Mich glared straight at Massa, as if his predicament was somehow her fault.
"You never take me nice places anymore, baby," he snapped sarcastically.
"Keep it quiet," Massa growled. Massa, Mich and CT had been sent for recon purposes. As per usual, they'd been given the sketchiest of all details about precisely what they were supposed to be doing reconnaissance on.
Maybe it will be something big, the voice inside her head suggested. Like, important. What do you think?
No clue, she thought back, and she nearly laughed at her AI's instant displeasure. Pi, or 'the voice inside her head', had a perpetually curious, wondering nature and was never satisfied with vague answers. Massa thought he would be much more use to an interrogator like Indiana, but she wasn't complaining. She genuinely liked her AI.
"What are we looking for again?" Mich asked, ignoring Massa's warning look.
"A bug," CT replied.
"There were reports of large, spider-like creatures in the area. We were ordered to check it out, so we're checking it out. There have also been three reported disappearances from this area's Red base," Massa said, cutting off anything Mich had to say. "Quit complaining."
"This is stupid." The comment hadn't come from Mich; instead, it came from a small, armoured, light grey glow next to his head. Mich's AI, Eta, was a thoroughly dislikeable creature that seemed incapable of finding interest in anything. He was also the reason Mich's complaining had increased ten-fold, and part of the reason why CT didn't mind not getting an AI as much as South.
"The 'quit complaining' was a blanket statement, Eta," Massa said, keeping her voice low. Massa was team leader, which would've been a much easier role with anyone but Mich. She got along well enough with CT, who seemed to have the ability to keep her mouth shut when she had nothing to say.
Everyone was silenced by the sound of gunfire.
Instinctively, Massa ducked low, heading for cover behind the tall, buttressed roots of a giant tree. The gunfire had either not been aimed at them, or the person firing was a lousy shot –the ground had been sprayed with bullets metres away. Gunfire came again, closer this time, and CT joined Massa behind the roots. Mich was behind a fallen log.
"Sounds like SMG fire," CT commented.
"Massa, I have noticed something interesting," the orange glow of her AI appeared, like an angel on her shoulder. "I am detecting three human-sized targets with UNSC neural implants. However, the implants have been disabled in the manner one would expect after death." More gunfire interrupted him. "It would appear the hostiles are already dead."
"Your AI malfunctioning?" CT asked, peeking around the tree.
"Shut up," Massa said immediately, bristling at any insult to her AI. Then, evenly, "What do you see?"
"Three guys, just like he said," CT confirmed. "But… they look off."
"Off how?" Massa said, cautiously looking over the roots to get a look for herself. Mich was peeping out behind his cover, too.
The hostiles were indeed 'off'. Their armour was cracked and had patches torn off, and the skin underneath looked greeny-brown, easily blending into their surroundings. The armour only had small patches of regulation red, the rest completely covered in an organic-looking gunk of the same greeny-brown. They carried SMGs, but they held them awkwardly and the walked with an eternal stumble.
But the most disturbingly 'off' thing about them was the giant antenna-tentacle thing sticking out of their shoulders.
"Hold your fire!" Massa tried ordering the soldiers. They fired again, forcing the Freelancers to duck back behind cover. "Worth a shot," Massa shrugged.
"Alarm," Pi said, suddenly flashing bright red. "Multiple small targets incoming. Initial estimations at twenty-two strong. Contact in thirty-two seconds."
Massa jumped up to take another look, letting a few rounds loose from her Magnum as she did. The rounds hit one soldier squarely in the chest, but barely slowed it down. The 'multiple small targets' were fast, beach ball-like things that were heading straight for them. Massa tried shooting at them but they were bloody fast –CT had more luck with her assault rifle, taking out three in a burst. The things popped like balloons.
Mich was going to work with his BR, but his aim was erratic at best.
The soldier-things continued to pull the trigger, though it appeared that their SMGs had simply run out of ammo. CT stopped firing to reload, and then one of the smaller things launched itself at her.
CT fell back, dropping her assault rifle as she struggled to keep the thing away from her face. Up close, Massa thought they looked like giant parasites, the beach-ball body atop what looked like dozens of legs and a few antennae. Massa aimed carefully and fired, the bullet exploding the thing right in CT's visor.
"Thanks," she said, and Massa was unsure whether CT was being sarcastic or not as she tried to get as much of the thing's muck of her visor and picked up her rifle.
The rest of the beach-ball things had arrived, and Pi coloured the most immediate threats red on her visor. The soldier buggers were still a long way back, their smaller counterparts far quicker. Massa took out one with the remaining two rounds in her Magnum, before backing off and reloading. The automatic weapons were far more effective against these creatures. Putting her Magnum back in its holster, Massa reached for her shotgun, hoping the shells would have a better effect.
"Only four of the little guys left," Pi told her, highlighting each with a blue marker.
CT took out the closest two with her rifle, and another one leaped at her. Massa shot it out of the air. Looking around, she saw the last blue marker retreating back behind the ex-soldiers. The soldiers were mere metres away, and their right arms looked more like one big claw. Mich opened fire at one, and each round hit their mark –the left most creature's chest. The thing staggered, but did not stop.
Unable to stop thinking about all the zombie movies she had seen in her life, Massa aimed at the middle creature's head and fired. The blast from the shotgun destroyed its head and the antenna-tentacle on its shoulder, and the creature collapsed. It did not move. The remaining two walked right past their fallen comrade, not even pausing. CT fired at one's head, and it slowed down considerably but did not completely stop.
Pausing for a moment, CT lowered her aim to the thing's shoulder, and fired. The thing dropped. Mich, getting the message, aimed straight for the last one's shoulder-antenna and destroyed it.
"Too easy," he smirked.
His teammates shared a long-suffering look and Massa tapped her radio.
"Pilot four-seven-niner, I think we found what we're looking for," Massa said. Slowly, she approached the downed soldiers' bodies and grabbed the video-logs from their helmets, securing them onto her armour.
"Got it, Massachusetts. On my way, over," Lucy replied.
The team headed for the extraction point, weapons ready. Mich no longer complained, and Massa no longer appreciated the beauty of the rainforest quite as much. They all looked for the small creature that got away, and constantly jumped at birds. They arrived at the extraction point with no incident.
The Pelican landed and the hold opened, letting the Freelancers on. Mich sighed and took off his helmet, revealing matted pale blond hair. CT followed suit, though didn't take her eyes off the forest. Massa left hers on.
"Alarm!" Pi and Eta announced, both flashing red.
Massa turned to see the blue marker flying at the Pelican.
"Close the door!" she ordered Lucy. The hold door slowly made its way up, but not nearly fast enough to stop the beach-ball.
It landed right next to CT, but the angle wouldn't let it jump straight onto her like its companion had. Instead, the beach-ball launched itself at Mich and latched onto his face. Mich cursed, his voice muffled by the demonic creature he couldn't get off. Massa jumped forward and kicked it off, and CT stamped on it. It was easily crushed beneath her boot.
"What the fuck was that?" Lucy yelled.
"It's a long story," Massa told her.
"I'm fine. Y'know, just in case anyone's worried…" Mich muttered, stroking a cut on his cheek. "I hate those fucking things. I don't give a shit what they are, I fucking hate them."
"Well, that's over," Eta said, sounding bored once again.
The Pelican took off, and headed for the Mother of Invention.