Chapter 4 The Core

The lockdown had spread poison gas throughout the station and it did indeed kill the common infected but the special infected seemed unaffected by it. There were several more jockeys, smokers, hunters, chargers and the occasional boomer. The Spartans still made quick work of them. The Spartans found another 'safe room' on the way to the Core and stopped for a breather. Suddenly there was pounding on one of the doors. The Spartans were instantly up and had their weapons trained on the door. A muffled voice came from the other side.

"Please help! I'm not infected! Let me in!"

The Chief motioned to a Spartan who opened the door quickly while the rest of the team covered him. Outside was a man in a white coat with a breath mask on. The scientist rushed in and the Spartans shut the door.

"Who are you?" asked the Chief

"Doctor Stevens, head of the Green flu research division."

"What happened here?"

"I'm not sure; I was asleep when the outbreak occurred. We thought we had it under control. What I didn't know was that the virus had mutated…it's airborne. After the initial case we put everyone in the division under quarantine. Turns out most of the station had already been infected. I managed to get a breather mask on before it got to the living quarters."

"What about your security?"

"The ODSTs assigned here did their best but they couldn't contend with the numbers. The last I heard they had been overwhelmed by special infected. By now the poison should have killed them too. I don't know why they aren't dead yet. If you don't mind my asking what is your mission here?"

The Chief normally didn't outline his missions to civilians but since the Doctor was already working on the 'Green Flu' and he had the necessary clearance so he told him.

"We're here to retrieve blood and tissue samples from infected and medical data from the computer core."

"How much have you gotten so far?"

"We have samples from common infected and every type of special infected except the tank and witch."

"Impressive, I can already tell you there are plenty of tanks roaming the station mostly former security, but I haven't seen or heard any witches. If I can get to the security substation I can use the cameras to search for one."

"Our orders are for us to get the medical data from the computer core. The blood and tissue samples were collected on opportunity, they weren't a mission priority."

"There is a security station just outside the core. I can use it to scan the inside and give you a heads up as to what's inside."

"With respect Doctor we should get you back to our ship. We have a computer expert that can get us into the system."

"Any expert you have would have to hack their way into the system. Even a Smart AI would take thirty minutes to crack it. I already have the codes I can get in the system in five minutes."

"He's right Chief, I've already looked at the anti-intrusion software, very sophisticated even for me to crack." Said Cortana who hadn't said much during the mission.

"Can you handle a weapon?" asked the Chief

"Former ODST Gunnery Sergeant, I think I can manage."

Wordlessly the Chief handed the scientist his sidearm and ammo. The scientist racked the bolt and held the weapon professionally. The Chief then contacted the Cruiser.

"Sir, we've made contact with one of the scientist. He appears to be uninfected and has offered to help us get into the computer core."

"Excellent work Chief, continue with your mission, let us know when you need extraction."

"Will do, Sierra-117 out. Alright team, let's get moving."

The team moved through the station killing whatever special infected was left. They were nearing the core when they heard a loud roar.

"TANK!" screamed Stevens as he unloaded his pistol into the creature.

"Open fire SPARTANS!" yelled the Chief

Five assault rifles opened up 7.62 mm high-explosive/armor-piercing rounds impacted the Tank's skin and penetrated the thick muscle which acted like armor.

"Grenade!" yelled a Spartan as he primed and threw a plasma grenade.

The glowing blue orb stuck to the creature's head and exploded. The tank fell to its knees then to the deck, minus its head. The team had gone through four magazines of ammo since the mission began. The Chief turned to the Doctor.

"Is there an armory near the core?" he asked

"Yes, there's one down the hall past the core. Speaking of which the core is just around the corner." Stevens replied

"Good, move out Spartans."

The five Spartans and former ODST moved around the corner quickly and cleared the hallway of the two dozen special infected that had congregated outside the core.

"The Armory is two doors down; send some men to gather ammo while I punch in the code."

The Chief pointed to two Spartans and motioned them ahead. The rest took up position around the Doctor. "It'll take a couple minutes there are several security codes I have to enter."

Right as he started to enter codes a loud scream echoed through the station. "A hoard? But all the common infected are dead." Said the Doctor

"I guess not." Replied a Spartan

A dozen common infected came around both corners. The Spartans immediately opened up mowing them down. The Spartans were quickly down to their last clip when the two Spartans sent to get ammo returned. They had both picked up heavy machine guns and were pointed both directions mowing down common and special infected by the dozens. The machine guns ran out of ammo just as the Doctor entered the last code. He brought his pistol up and waved the Spartans in while taking down a couple common infected. John-117 led the way into the Core and hit a button on the other side that sealed them in while the rest of the team secured the room.

The Core was actually pretty small in terms of actual room. Most of it was taken up by the large vertical computer core. The Doctor made his way to a terminal and opened a comm. channel to the cruiser.

"UNSC cruiser, this is Doctor Evan Stevens, Chief of the Green Flu research division. I'm sending you our digitized data in a zip file but you'll need my access code or a Smart AI to open it."

"Understood, receiving data now….transfer complete. Now get yourself outta there."

Outside the door to the core more infected gathered and began pounding on the door.

"This is Spartan-117; we're trapped in the main computer core. The door is being pounded on by common infected. Can you deploy a boarding craft to dock by the computer core?"

"We'll see what we can do 117…Alright boarding craft on the way it should open a hole near the back of the core. Doctor Stevens will set the self-destruct just before we pull you out."

"Understood."

"Standby, eta ten minutes."

"Roger. Stevens, how strong is that door."

"Strong enough to hold against a hundred common infected."

"Well there is easily two or three times that number outside. How long until they break through?"

"Probably a good ten minutes."

"That'll cut it pretty close." Replied another Spartan

"Really close. Here's what we'll do, set up some claymores at the door, back around the other side of the core and cover the Doctor from both sides. Move."

The Doctor moved to the other side with a pair of Spartans on either side with the Chief aiming through a gap in the core. The Doctor spotted a wine bottle on a console, three-quarters full. He walked over a looked at it intently.

"Doctor this isn't the time for a drink." Said John

"I don't drink but I think I have an idea that might give us a few extra seconds. Common infected, when hit with incendiary rounds or caught in a fire are highly flammable. During the original infection one of the improvised grenades was a Molotov cocktail. An alcohol bottle with a piece of cloth stuffed into the top. You light the cloth then toss the bottle. It breaks and the alcohol inside catches on fire."

"That door is the perfect chock point. Toss the bottle right at the entrance and every infected catches on fire." Said a Spartan

"Exactly, they die quickly too." Replied the Doctor as he ripped a piece of cloth from his coat and stuff it into the bottle.

"Uh…do we have a lighter?" he asked

One of the Spartans produced a flare. "Will this do?"

"Perfect."

Eight minutes clicked off the timer. Then the cruiser contacted the team.

"Spartan-117, boarding craft has attached and is beginning to burn into the station. It will take two and a half minutes to bust in so be ready to go."

"Acknowledged. Alright we've got two and a half minutes until we can leave."

The team could see a section of the back wall start to glow slightly they also heard the torch on the other end. Two minutes clicked off the timer.

The door buckled.

The Doctor readied the Molotov and lit the cloth.

The door bent in further until a single common infected got through. Then two then three.

The Doctor tossed the bottle at the door.

It landed just outside the door and burned all infected within five meters. The team tensed as fifteen seconds clicked off. The section of wall where the boarding craft was burning through was glowing white hot. The Doctor set the auto-destruct for thirty seconds giving them enough time to evac and get safely away from the station.

Then just as the wall burst forward the fire from the Molotov died down and common infected flooded the Core. The Spartans and the Doctor opened fire, mowing down dozens and dozens of common infected. Two by two they withdrew. The Doctor went in first with the five Spartans following. The boarding craft closed its airlock and withdrew the docking collar. The Core opened up to vacuum, common infected were sucked out into space.

The boarding craft returned to the cruiser just as the station exploded. The boarding craft docked the crew and passengers and air decontaminated. The Doctor locked the data regarding 'Green Flu' as TOP SECRET then proceeded to destroy the samples feeling that digital data was just as good as an actual sample.

THE SURVIVORS HAVE ESCAPED!

DA DA DA DAAAA DAAA DDDAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA