Disclaimer: I don't own Halo Universe as well as the Star Wars Universe.
FROM THE IMAGINATIVE MIND OF PINOY GAMER
IN COLLABORATION WITH [ENTER TEXT HERE PRODUCTIONS]
STAR WARS: THE GUARDIANS OF THE FORCE
Summary: The Force will not be chained to the wills of an uncaring being – it was not a puppet to be played and discarded when done. If this…this monster wanted to wrestle the control of the galaxy, then the Force will give Him the fight He truly wished to have.
ACT 2 | Part 1: (June 2565 AD | 973 ARR)
"Coming out of slipspace in three...two...one!" the technician announced, UNSC Everlasting shuddering as it exited slipspace. "We're just outside the Taris' anchorage limit, ma'am."
Captain Hazel Cutter nodded. She took a sip of coffee, staring at the dark green planet before her. It truly made her wonder what the Forerunners were doing in Taris - especially how far it was from the Aurora System. "Good, I want you to contact the-"
Suddenly, the planet lit up like a sun, blinding everyone at the helm. "SITREP LILAC!" she ordered, blinking back to clear her vision from the impromptu light show.
"All four moons are on a collision course for the planet - ETA, one minute." Lilac reported, popping up on the map table as it displayed Taris' situation. "We're also detecting multiple vessels leaving the atmosphere, broadcasting different emergency signals."
Everyone watched in horror as the moons crashed into the planet, jaws wide open as the dark green planet was destroyed before their very eyes. "Lilac...is the Enterprise among the ships?" Hazel muttered, still not comprehending what happened.
"Analyzing...found them!" Lilac replied, pumping her hand. "Playing broadcast."
"...mayday, this...tain James T. Kirk of...SC Enterprise!" a harried voice played over the speakers. "We have...med report of...lood out..in the Novus Galaxy! I repeat, confirmed report of a Flood outbreak in Novus! Initiate Halo Protocol immediately!"
# # # # # # # # # #
48 Hours Earlier…
RC-1138 of Delta Squad sighed from his overwatch position. Looking at the abandoned Republic research camp, he saw no bodies or destroyed droids anywhere. "I don't like this…" he grumbled
Republic Intelligence, along with the approval of Republic High Command, sent in a research team to link up with the University of Taris Archeological Society in Taris' rogue moon. The TAS believed the ruins were most likely to be Forerunner in origin. A few days later, the Republic researchers confirmed it was a Forerunner installation containing a Forerunner weapon system.
Only to lose contact when the spooks intercepted a Confederate transmission bearing the same thing.
Delta Squad was immediately sent in with orders to either capture that weapon system before it could fall into enemy hands or, failing that, destroy it with extreme prejudice. They only had 48 hours to complete it before the UNSC Everlasting arrived to check the ruins.
Just a regular day for Delta…or so he thought.
Upon arriving on the moon, their Nu-class transport crashed landed because the planetiod's gravity turned from Type 4 to 1 immediately. Unfortunately, the ship was too damaged for repair, leaving them stranded until they could find out what caused this problem. "Sev, what's your status?" he commed his sniper.
"We're near the camp and so far, it looks ransacked." Sev replied. "Nothing out of the ordinary in my-wait...Boss, better leg it here!"
Boss frowned, not liking the sudden urgency in Sev's voice. "Sev? Answer me, Sev!" Boss ordered, growling in anger. "Damnit!"
"Problem sir?" Fixer asked, sounding worried.
"Sounds like it," he grunted, standing up. "Let's go."
They quickly made it into camp, noting how wrecked it was. "Wonder what caused all this?" Fixer asked, picking up a cracked tablet. "Nobody just destroys stuff like this."
"Whatever it was, UNSC knows." Sev said as he walked up to them, Scorch right behind him. He threw a helmet on the ground. "Found this just about the perimeter."
Boss grimaced, seeing the cracked ODST helmet roll towards him. "What happened?" Boss asked, Fixer checking the helmet out.
"It ain't good, that's for sure." Scorch commented. "Are we still being jammed?"
Fixer nodded, looking up from the helmet. "Still can't get anything through, sorry." he replied before turning to him. "And before you ask, I got nothing except her name and ID."
"What's our next move, Boss?" Sev asked, turning to him.
Boss remained silent, weighing his options. With the confirmed presence of the UNSC, the whole op was over with the Republic getting blamed. On the other hand, they still had to find the research team sent in. "Mission parameters have changed." he decided. "We are now doing a search and rescue, with orders to find any survivors we come across."
"Wasn't that part of the mission?" Fixer asked, fiddling with a cracked tab he picked up.
Sev shook his head. "It was considered a secondary objective," he clarified. "Recapturing or destroying the weapon system takes priority."
"Fixer, get us the coordinates of the ruins." Boss ordered, hefting his rifle. "We're checking that place out, so break time's over."
"That way, Boss." Fixer replied, his HUD updating its waypoint to a destination 700 meters north. "Hopefully, it would be in better condition than this one."
"Scorch, you take point." Boss ordered. "Fixer, watch our six. Sev, scout ahead - don't engage even it's clankers, copy?"
"...fine." Sev grounded out, Boss fully knowing it didn't sit well with him.
The journey to the ruins was relatively quiet, the snipers reporting nothing ahead. They did find more signs of UNSC and Republic presence: an empty UNSC magazine, a clone helmet, random scorch marks, and even a broken blaster. "What happened here?" Boss asked, staring at the wrecked BARC speeder they came across as they neared the ruins.
"It was fleeing the camp, that's for sure." Scorch pointed out as everyone gathered around it. "Wonder what caused it to crash?"
"Something fast with claws." Fixer said, crouching to examine the engine closer. He pointed at the bike's engine. "See that, sir? Whatever this creature was, it was fast enough to catch up with a speeder bike and damage it."
Suddenly, Boss' comm spoke up. "Boss, this is Sev. You might want to leg it here to the ruins."
"What is it?" Boss asked, frowning.
"I think it's better if we just show you." Sev replied, sounding worried.
Boss frowned, not liking where this was going. "Wilco Sev," he said, turning to the others. "Sev found something at the second camp."
They quickly followed the waypoint, booking it as they saw Sev standing by a wrecked Warthog overlooking the cave's entrance. "Status Sev?" Boss asked. "What was so import…"
Before him was a field full of destruction: gun emplacements of UNSC, Republic, and Separatist origin destroyed, ruptured barrels evenly placed throughout the field, and broken pieces of battle droids scattered in between. "What happened here?" Boss asked, shocked at the level of destruction. The rest of the team were too shocked to even comment as they surveyed the field.
"They're trying to stop something from escaping." Sev pointed out, gesturing to the various emplacements as the rest. Boss noticed it too - all of them were facing the cave's entrance. "See how each are evenly spaced, setting up a-"
"-perfect killzone." Scorch finished, picking up an arm of a Super-Battle Droid. "I'm guessing the barrels were filled with flammable liquid, creating a firewall."
"But why though?" Fixer asked. "I mean, the research team-"
"Baaa!" an unknown female voice exclaimed through their comms, forcing everyone into cover with their weapons at the ready.
"Who the kriff is this?" Boss growled, scanning around and trying to spot someone.
"No time to explain, get into the cave now!" the voice order, sounding urgent.
Boss growled, not like the whole thing one bit. "Now look here-"
"1138, sir!" Fixer cut, sounding worried. "We have a wave of unknowns heading this way - and I literally mean a wave!"
"If you want to survive, you have to get inside that cave now!" the voice stressed. "You'll die if you don't, baaa!"
"Double time it people!" Boss shouted, everyone making a run to the cave.
Being the last one in, Boss gave one last look outside to see something appear on the horizon. Zooming in, he spotted what would probably be the ugliest creature he had ever seen: hunchback, spikes and tentacles on its back, large sharp teeth, and a wart-covered body. "What in the kriff-"
"GET INSIDE NOW!" the voice screamed just as more of these creatures arrived on the horizon before descending towards them.
Boss didn't wait to be told twice - he immediately ran deeper into the cave as the ground rumbled. Spotting his team inside an out-of-place doorway, his eyes widened as Scorch started firing behind him. Unclipping a detonator, he threw it behind him and heard a satisfying Boom! as he reached the doorway.
Fixer pulled him in as they retreated inside, the doors closing shut. "Glad you made it inside, sir." he said, clapping Boss' shoulders.
The door clang, making everyone pointing their weapons towards it. "You're not out of the woods yet," the voice declared as they heard scratches and growls behind it. "Meet up with the rest. Oh, I'm UNISOD AI Dolly by the way."
Boss and Fixer shared a look. "...fine - but we want answers, Dolly!" he stressed, frowning. "Move it, troopers."
They quickly made their way to Sev's position, Fixer leading the way. "So that's a Forerunner structure…" Scorch muttered as they reached the rest in a large cave the size and length of an AT-TE. Hunter, who was at the other end of the cave, quickly spotted them and waved.
"Glad you guys could make it, sir." Sev said, helmet off, as they reached their position, a circular platform with a console before it. Boss noted Scorch was setting up a couple mini turrets nearby. "We got enemies arriving soon."
"They got into the cave?" Fixer asked, his tone in disbelief.
A small hologram of a four legged creature Boss vaguely recognized as a Terran sheep appeared by a console. "Nope, this is their secondary hive…so to speak." the sheep answered, surprising everyone. "And yes, I'm Dolly the Sheep, the first clone made by Terrans."
"Why the kriff did you lead us here then?" Boss asked, gritting his teeth.
"This is a Forerunner Teleporter." Dolly replied, gesturing towards the platform they were on. "This is the only way out of the moon right now. Unfortunately, I'm still trying to reconfigure the system to direct it to my position, so you'll have to hold this area until I do so."
Boss groaned in anger before turning to the rest. "Scorch, set up a minefield near the entrance. Fixer, help me set up defenses." he ordered. "Sev, you're on overwatch. Dolly, how much time do you need?"
"Five minutes," the sheep answered. "Unfortunately, the hive arrives in three."
# # # # # # # # # #
They heard the growls first.
By then, Delta Squad was safely inside the platform, weapons pointed at the only entrance into the cave. Boss originally wanted the entrance blown up but Dolly dissuaded him, arguing the debris would act as a makeshift projectile against them. She did relente on mining the entire approach. "Scanners picking up the contacts!" Fixer called out, everyone tensing up.
"Overlapping fire, understood?" Boss ordered, pointing his DC-17 rifle at the entrance.
The...creatures (Boss wasn't even sure how to describe them) burst through the hall, snarling and growling as everyone fired away. The bodies started piling up, creating a makeshift barrier that started clogging up the entrance. Suddenly, the body barrier burst outwards as a huge ape-like, fleshy creature rushed towards them.
"Focus fire on that thing!" Boss shouted, unloading an entire magazine at it without effect.
"Grenade out!" Scorch yelled, his launcher whumping as the grenade hit it directly in the face. The creature stumbled back, face mangled as it roared in pain. Boss heard a rocket wooshed past by, it's upper half gone instantly.
By then, the creatures have spilled inside the hall, their carefully laid defenses slowly failing. "Dolly!" Boss shouted with urgency. "Any time now!"
"In a second." the AI replied in a calm tone.
"We don't even have a minute!" Fixer screamed. "Reload-"
Suddenly, Boss felt he was flying as a bright light encompassed him before he was unceremoniously dumped on someone. "Uh…what the kriff was that?" someone asked, Boss got off the person he was on…
...only to see it was a Nimbus Commando he was on top of.
He and the Commando stared at each other, both surprised by the other's appearance before the latter scrambled forward to land the first punch. Boss immediately threw his guard up to block the attack, countering it with a gut punch. The Nimbus stepped backwards, forcing him to miss before getting a kick to his stomach. The Delta leader stumbled back before launching forward, grabbing and kneeing his enemy in return. The Jabiimi grunted in pain before smashing his head onto Clone's head, separating the two.
Suddenly, an ear-splitting sound forced them down. With it gone, the sound disappeared as he panted, ears ringing. 'What in the seven hells was that?'
"Y'all done duking it out?" a tired, feminine voice asked. Looking up, Boss saw a limping UNSC trooper leaning by the wall. "If any of you start fighting again, the-"
She then collapsed, crying out in pain. Hostility forgotten, the two rushed forward to help. A quick look showed her injuries came from a fall, with her leg definitely sprained or broken. "Cato, bacta patches now!" the brown haired commando ordered, a large Jabiimi rushing forward to help.
"Secure the area!" Boss barked to the rest of the Clones and Jabiimis. He then removed the helmet, revealing a pretty brunette underneath it.
"Baaa!" Dolly greeted as she materialized in the middle of the room, scaring everyone. "No need, they won't reach us."
"Gods damnit, don't do that!" a female Nimbus exclaimed, the AI appearing directly before her. "If you were real, you would have died."
"Baaaa!" Dolly bleeted. "Focus people, we have far more worse things to deal with. Atlas, Boss, carry Widow and follow me, baaa!"
With that, Dolly trotted forward and left the rest behind in confusion. "I'm not imagining things, right Ursa?" another Nimbus asked.
The one named Ursa nodded. "You're not, Altee. I'm as lost as these clones are."
"Looks like we're working together, Seppie." Sev groaned, sounding defeated. When Ursa gave him a glare, he raised his hands in defense. "Hey, I'm as happy as you are!"
"Hey, you coming or what?" Dolly yelled back.
The two special forces trudged after the AI, Boss and Atlas didn't even grumble as they carried Widow. "Where exactly are we, Dolly?" Atlas asked, eyeing the distinct UNSC architecture.
"UNSC Shadow." Widow grunted, wincing from whatever wound she got. Without prompting, Boss gave her a bactashot, making her sigh in relief. "Thanks…"
"What exactly happened?" Boss asked. "Our debrief said we were rescuing a Republic research team."
"Republic research team?" Atlas repeated, eyes narrowed. "We were told this was a CIS research team!"
The spook snorted as the two leaders glared at each other, wincing. "Stow it, boys. Neither are to be blamed for this mess - a Taris native with a grudge against both sides started this clusterfuck."
Boss frowned. "The Republic walked into a clusterfuck?"
"Both walked into the clusterfuck." the Jambiimi growled. "Let me guess, both sides messed him up."
They finally hobbled into what looked like a Terran command center: a central holotable displaying Taris, terminals around it displaying some data, and darkened viewports. "Place her there," Dolly ordered, butting her head at a couch/bed hybrid near the center.
"Sit rep, Dolly." Widow ordered, wincing as she was laid down. She then eyed the two commanders. "Got any other questions?"
Boss and Atlas shared a glance. The Nimbus Commando tilted his head, the meaning clear. "What happened to the research team?" Boss began.
"Dead." Widow answered, wincing. "As I said, Dr. Kataro Mak'rah was angry at both sides. After finding out that the ruins had a 'Forerunner weapon system', he decided to test it against the two."
"And afterwards?" Atlas asked, frowning. "When we landed, the makeshift landing pad had dead clones and droids defending it side by side."
Widow grimaced. "Once he released the Flood." she explained. "My team forced both sides to cooperate...though it was futile in the end."
Before he could ask further, the klaxons started wailing. "BAAAA, WIDOW!" Dolly screamed, sounding frantic. "The Rakghouls have started transforming into Flood Combat Forms!"
"The what?" Atlas asked, sounding confused.
"Parasitic alien species that can wipe out an entire galaxy." Widow explained, cursing. "Rakghouls are some sort of local creatures that have a metamorphic virus. Anything else?"
"What the frak?" Boss exclaimed, feeling confused.
Dolly bleeted. "All Rakghouls in the planetoid have started transforming." she said, sounding worried. "I'm also picking up increased reports of original-strain Rakghoul activity in the Lower Levels."
Widow groaned, completely ignoring the confused looks of Clone and Nimbus Commandos. "Break protocol and inform the UNSC Enterprise about the situation. Inform the highest commanding officer of the GAR stationed here as well."
"Now wait a damn minute!" Atlas growled, fixing his glare at the two UNSC personnel. "What in the hell is going on?"
"Go, I'll handle this." Widow ordered, Dolly bleating before leaving. Taking a deep breath, she gave them all a look. "What was your mission briefing regarding this?"
Boss eyed the seppie beside him. "Search and Retrieval, prioritizing on a Forerunner weapon system."
"Similar orders," Atlas said. "However, no one mentioned anything about parasitic aliens."
"That's because no one was supposed to know." Widow answered. "We already informed your respective governments not to touch Forerunner Installations. Seems the war made them desperate enough to ignore our warnings."
Boss made a move to argue only for Widow to cut him off with a glare. "Both sides knew it was a Forerunner site months before we even knew about it. The only reason we know was through intercepted Republic and Confederacy communications."
"You mean you've been listening to our comms?" Ursa asked, jaw hanging.
The spook scoffed. "Did you really think we wouldn't?" she answered. "After that clusterfuck in Aurora, UNISOD didn't want to be caught unprepared again."
Boss winced at that reminder of the short three-way battle among UNSC, CIS, and GAR in the Aurora System, just after the first battle of the war. It resulted in the destruction of both 'diplomatic' GAR and CIS fleet, a strongly-worded protest from the UEG, the creation of the Clone Trooper Rights bill, and the opening of a Terran Embassy in Raxus. "Right, sorry." he mumbled.
Widow waved him off. "Regardless, we have better things to worry about." she pointed out, pressing a button on her forearm. "Namely, the Flood-Rakghoul hybrid."
The holotable lit up, showing one of the uglies Boss and his team killed earlier. "Oh kriffing hell!" Altee exclaimed, looking sick. "They're even uglier up close!"
Boss couldn't argue with that - the creature looked like an offspring of a Kowakian monkey-lizard, a Gamorrean, and a Nautolan, with the baby experiencing 99's growth process malfunction. It had three tentacle-like appendages on its head, it's skin pale yellow, sharp claws dripping with green pus, and a snarling look on its face.
"This is one of three hybrid forms we encountered earlier, designated Ravager." Widow explained, slapping a BatcaPatch onto her side. "Primarily melee-type, any wound you get from its slash will infect you immediately."
Another version of the Ravager popped up, except this one had spikes. "Designated Spiker. It can create spikes with its hands that can be thrown at a target. Spikes can also infect the target if one's not careful."
The next creature was more of a bloated version of Ravager. "Finally, we have Spitter." she said, gesturing to the fat, glowing hybrid.
"Let me guess, it spits acid." Atlas deadpanned.
Widow gave a humorless chuckle. "Worse - the spit burns through armor and transforms the victim into another Spitter."
Everyone cringed at the revelation. "Our armor won't withstand these kinds of attacks, Boss." Fixer pointed out, sounding worried before glancing at the Nimbus. "Same for yours, I guess.
Before anyone could comment, klaxons blared once again. "WIDOW, WE HAVE A PROBLEM!" Dolly screamed, popping up on the table. "Someone activated the teleporter on the planetoid. I managed to shut it down but a group of Flood spores managed to get through!"
"What's the situation groundside?" Atlas asked, rushing towards the holotable.
"Lower Levels have been overrunned by the original-strain Rakghouls. Also, confirmed reports of Flood Combat forms attacking both sides. Captain James Kirk already ordered a mass evacuation, taking no chances." the AI reported. "General Luminara Unduli's padawan, one Barriss Offee, took command of all space vessels in the port and is cramming them with as many people as they can."
"Where's the general?" Boss asked, standing beside the Confederate Commando.
"Leading a delaying action."
"Wasn't she informed of the threat?" Widow hissed, limping towards them as well as Altee supported her. "It'll be pointless."
Dolly bleeted. "The captain said the same thing. Didn't really stop her though."
Widow groaned. "Don't worry, the general would delay them long enough to evacuate." Boss assured.
"I'm more worried if she gets infected." Widow muttered. Manipulating the holotable, she brought up an image of a spore. "This is the Flood spore. Once it enters you, you're infected with no known cure."
She then brought up an image of a Terran with… "What the fuck is that?" Sev exclaimed, everyone staring at the monstrosity.
"This is a Marine Combat Form." Widow explained. "This is the basic end result of a Flood infected. One thing about them is that they can still use whatever they were holding."
It then dawned on Boss what made the Terran worried. "A Jedi Combat Form…" he muttered in fear, everyone hearing what he realized.
Atlas cursed. "It's already hard enough to fight a Jedi, how difficult would it be for an infected one." he groaned, turning to Widow. "You sure there's no cure?"
Widow raised an eyebrow. "Unless you're willing to kill all sentient life within the next 25,000 light years, no."
Widow grinned, bringing up an image of a ring. "This is the Halo, one of six remaining intact Forerunner structures." she revealed to the shocked commandos. "It was built as a last-ditch effort to stop the Flood from consuming the Milky Way Galaxy."
"H...how?" Ursa whispered, fear laced into her tone.
"It releases an energy pulse that kills all living creatures within its given range." Widow explained. "The last time it was used was... well, there's a reason why the Forerunners are considered as an extinct civilization."
"Widow, the Upper Levels have been breached." Dolly announced, shocking everyone. "Captain Kirk ordered all forces to retreat to the Spaceport. General Undila is on a fighting retreat - well, she's trying to prevent a rout, actually."
"That fast?" Sev asked, sounding incredulous.
The spook sighed. "It's a 100% infection rate, trooper." she said, looking tired. "Dolly, any luck with the Forerunner countermeasure?"
"Countermeasures?" Fixer asked, sound confused.
"From what our eggheads extracted in the Aurora ruins, this planet was used as a testing facility for anti-Flood countermeasures."
"You're hoping we can use something against the hybrids." Boss guessed, getting a nod.
"I have two possible locations." Dolly interjected. "So far clean of infestation though there are scattered packs of Rakghouls in them."
The AI then tilted her head. "Just got confirmation of Forerunner structures rising at each axis of the planet." she reported, the holotable showing Taris. "I-WOAH! They're activating, enclosing the planet into some sort of planetary shield!"
The holotable lit up, showing Taris being engulfed. "Why a planetary shield, though?" Altee asked, looking confused.
Everyone turned to Widow, who was staring at the holo-image of Taris. "Remember, Taris was a Forerunner installation dedicated to Anti-Flood countermeasures." she explained. "It shouldn't be surprising if they have ways to contain an outbreak."
"So a reverse planetary shield then?" Ursa suggested, frowning. "Instead of stopping people from getting in, it stops them from getting out?"
That...that made sense. "Where do we deploy?" Boss asked, catching everyone's attention. "We can help with-"
"Denied," she cut, shocking everyone. "The eight of you are going to clean up this mess by activating the other Forerunner countermeasures."
"Right now," she interrupted, eyes narrowed. "Every single person in this room is all that stands against a galactic-wide extinction that your governments started in their mad dash for power
Boss shut up, knowing they really had no choice at the moment. Atlas looked like he came to the same conclusion. "Fine," he sighed. "Where-""
"Taris is lost."
"What?" Atlas gasped, eyes wide. Around him, everyone had varying looks of shock as they took in the news.
"Baaa, Taris is lost." she repeated. "I lost contact with General Luminara, her last report was ordering a bombing run over the spaceport. Currently, the Tranquility is holding orbit just below the energy shield under the command of her padawan."
"Jesus…" Widow exclaimed, wincing in pain as her wound acted up. "And the Enterprise?"
Dolly shook her head. "Holding pattern alongside Tranquility and the rest of the ships. Captain Kirk has launched a No-Fly Zone over the planet, shooting down any spacefaring vessel to prevent potential outbreaks among the survivors."
"Then we'll need to assault those sites you mentioned earlier." Boss stated, looking at the spook. "My team can handle one site, the Jambinis another."
Widow shook her head. "None of you are splitting up." she shot back, raising her hand to stop any protest. "If you think a four-person team is enough to handle a planetary Flood outbreak, then you're sorely mistaken."
Boss stopped short, seeing her point. 'Doesn't mean I have to like it.' "Fine…what's the play?"
# # # # # # # # # #
"Everyone suited up?" Widow asked the assembled Republic-Confederacy force.
"Little tight around the waist but I can live with it." Scorch quipped, referring to their new exosuits.
Given that their current equipment barely stood up against these hybrids, Widow allowed them to wear ODST Flood Containment Armor - a Spartan-like BDU meant for Flood combat. Unlike regular ODST armor, the FCA was heavier, durable, and airtight, capable of withstanding all but a rocket to the face.
"Alright, let me give you a brief overview of your HUD," Widow began, the nearby holotable showing all the icons Boss could see on his heads up display. "The Visual Intelligence System, Reconnaissance suite."
She gestured to the display. "VISR gives you real time tactical information derived from the local friendly network it's patched into, allowing you to remain in contact with command via comms or network."
Widow then swipe the screen, showing a map with legends. "It has two main components: NAV and INTEL." she listed, pointing at the map. "NAV makes up for your lack of motion tracker - instead, it gives you a birds eye view of your current location and nearby enemy positions, working alongside your IFF tracker."
Pointing to the set of legends, she continued. "INTEL, on the other hand, is your mission objective listing. On the right-hand side, a picture depicting the user is shown along with a symbol denoting rank and name of the operator. On the left-hand side, the current location is shown along with a logo of the organisation, agency, business, or entity associated with the location. Any questions?"
"How do we access those functions?" Fixer asked.
"The helmet has a built-in neural interface that allows you to mentally command NAV and INTEL to appear." she explained. "Just give the mental command and you'll bring it up."
'NAV?' Boss thought. To his surprise, his HUD changed to show a map of his current location. 'Interesting...'
The HUD changed, returning back to its original state. "Kriff, this is a lot better than our current HUD!" Scorch exclaimed. "Anything else we should know?"
Widow nodded, swiping right. "VISR also allows users to access your 'STAT'." she replied, making air quotations. "You can see your ammo count, equipped grenades, suit integrity, and shield status. Be advised though, VISR is only compatible with Terran-made equipment, any NovuTech would not be read."
Boss heard Altee snort. "It's not like our weapons make a dent on them. I emptied my cannon on one and it didn't flinch."
Scorch whistled, giving the Jambiimi an impressed look. "Damn...you use a cannon?"
"Which is why you get to use UNSC equipment." Widow continued, gesturing to weapon racks nearby. "Don't worry about the ammo, I can resupply on the move. Heavy weapons are on the right, regular ones are on the left."
The impromptu alliance made their way to the weapon racks. Boss scanned all of them, seeing standard UNSC weapons such as BR55s, M20s, and even a couple of M45D shotguns. The Heavy Weapon rack was even more impressive: a couple of M57 Pilums, three M343A2 Chainguns, two M555 Cannons, and one ARC-920 Railgun, Hydra MLRS, and M6E Spartan Laser each.
"Dibs on the M-triple-5! "Altee proclaimed, rushing to grab the cannon. She turned to Widow, her eyes pleading. "Can I keep it?"
Boss already knew what his brothers were going to pick. Sev was predictable, choosing the SRS99 Sniper Rifle and a M395 DMR. Fixer went for a short to mid range outfit, picking up a M739 SAW and BR55. Scorch was having a hard time, though. "So hard…" he groaned, holding on a Spartan Laser and a Hydra MLRS.
"Pick the Hydra," Widow suggested. "The Spartan Laser is for vehicles, MLRS is for CQC and urban pacification - very useful against Flood and Rakghouls."
Scorch stayed quiet before putting down the Spartan Laser, thanking her. Boss then tossed him an M45D. "Thanks Boss! What're you choosing?"
Picking up a MA5D, he maglocked it behind him before hefting a chaingun. "Not taking any chances."
"Looks like you're all good," Widow said. Boss turned and saw that the Jambiins were armed and ready: Atlas had a MA5D and a M6D, Altee had a M555 Cannon and a M45D, Cato had a ARC-920 Railgun and a M20 SMG, and Ursa had a M395 DMR and a BR55.
Suddenly, his HUD blinked green. "I've updated your NAVs." Dolly explained, appearing before then. "Let me just land Shadow. Oh, before I forget, move to the round platform in the middle."
"Where exactly are we going to land?" Ursa asked as they complied. "Are we being teleported again?"
Widow just smirked as she moved to a control panel near the platform. "Have a nice drop!"
'Drop?' Boss frowned before finding himself floating. "Widow, what Kr-"
The platform they were standing on suddenly opened, making them descend down in a controlled manner. "Anti-Grav platform!" Fixer exclaimed via comms.
"Thanks for the heads up, Widow!" Cato shouted sarcastically, his arms flailing about.
Thankfully, they landed gently on the ground as if they hopped off a transport. Around them was a barren, desert-like environment with what looked like huge, pulsing tentacles wrapped around rocks and boulders. "What is this place?" Atlas asked, weapon at the ready.
"Hey...uh, commanders," Altee began from behind them. "You may want to see this!"
"What is it Al…"
Boss' eyes widen, his mind trying to grasp the image before him. Instead of the sky, all he saw was the land curving upward. In the center (was it really the center?) a shining ball of light that illuminated the land around them. However, the most glaring feature were the flesh-like tentacles all over the place - wrapped around rocks, crawling from the ground, or laying about.
"Widow, where the kriff are we?" Boss asked, readying his weapon with the rest following suit.
One could practically hear the smirk on Widow's face. "Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the hell known as Taris Shield World."
AWESOME NOTES AND NOTIFICATIONS:
Welcome, everyone, to the 2nd Arc of "Star Wars: The Guardians of the Force" or as I like to call it, the Flood Arc.
To begin with, I hope everyone is safe with the COVID-19 virus we are experiencing right now - and before you ask, I was not inspired by the recent events. I had already planned on making the Flood appear in Arc 2 as early as 2016, with the first two chapters only being re-written around early 2020 (during the Iran-US word war). In fact, I haven't updated Arc 2-Part 2 since February focusing mostly on my studies and work.
Back to my original message, I hope those who read this is safe from COVID-19 - especially the frontliners (doctors, delivery people, grocery workers, etc.) who are out there making sure we are still alive. To those with it, I can only offer words that you can overcome it.
I would also like to address some points:
- In case you want to correct my Forerunner knowledge that there are basically more than six forerunner structures, please remember that this is the POV of a Clone Trooper who has next to no idea about the Forerunners. Widow is deliberately lying to them, making them think that all that remains of this civilization are ruins.
- The hybrid Flood-Rakghouls are literally infected Rakghouls AND Flood. Remember, the SW lore states that Rakghoul plague can turn anyone into a Rakghoul at a slower pace. With that in mind, I decided to combine these two parasitic forces into one - hereby creating the Flood-Rakghoul parasite. More information regarding this new parasite will be revealed as the story progresses.
- the story will not revolve around this group - if you remember, there is also a Rakghoul outbreak in topside Taris. The only thing I want to say it...Left 4 Dead.
Anyway, enjoy this early release of "Star Wars: The Guardians of the Force"! Please leave a review, comment or constructive criticism for me!