by Glitter Pen
An unarmored Master Chief must stop a mysterious intruder.
The mission to re-take the human outpost called Lonely Tower had been a success but the casualties were high. The covenant had put up one hell of a fight. Master Chief had gone in with a team of fifty soldiers but only fifteen survived. Many were in need of medical attention. They trudged behind him as he walked toward the crew who were waiting at the bottom of the ramp.
A door opened at the far end of the shuttle bay and the ship's captain strode into the room. He was a man of medium height with dark brown skin and neatly trimmed black hair.
"Captain on deck," John said. "Attention!"
Everyone in the room snapped to attention.
"Welcome back, Master Chief." The captain started to circle him. "It looks like an explosion hit you."
"Several explosions, sir," John replied. He could feel the painful burns on his left arm--they throbbed fiercely. "The covenant forces were difficult to eliminate."
The captain looked at the fifteen survivors and frowned. "At ease, soldiers," he said.
One of the survivors fell over and hit the deck with a thud. Two others rushed to aid him.
"We took heavy casualties," John added without glancing back.
"I see," the captain said. "We've sent in more ships to secure the outpost."
"Good to hear that."
"There'll be a briefing in two hours."
"Sir, yes sir."
"And, we'll send some technicians to fix that armor."
"Sir?" John tensed up at the thought of being without his armor. A kernel of anxiety formed in his stomach and spread through his body like tendrils of ice.
"I'll have Crewman Newton find you something to wear."
John wanted to complain but knew that his armor needed fixing.
Crewman Newton approached him and said, "If you'll follow me, Master Chief, I'll show you to the medical bay."
"Lead the way," John said.
The medical bay was sectioned off into several private rooms. It looked like every other part of the ship: the walls were silver with many flashy control panels.
Five technicians stood in the first section.
"Good day, Master Chief," a tall woman said. "How are you feeling?"
"We'll take a look at your injures once we've removed your armor."
John stood still as the technicians removed the damaged armor. They placed the pieces on a nearby worktable as they happily chatted about their families. Loneliness filled John. He wondered how the other Spartan soldiers were doing; they were the closest thing he had to family. Only a few remained alive.
Fifteen minutes later, the technicians were done. John cringed when he saw the damage to the back of his armor. Black splotches covered what was once shiny dark-green. A stale burning smell drifted through the air.
"Now let's take a look at that burn," the tall woman said as she leaned closer. "I see you've been burned before."
She carefully dressed the wound with an anti-burn ointment and wrapped his arm.
A door opened and Crewman Newton arrived carrying a bundle of clothing.
"It's the biggest we could find," he said and handed him the pile.
"Thanks." John quickly put the clothes on, careful not to tear the material. He was much stronger than the average human was--about six times stronger. The feeling of nakedness clung to him even while wearing the new clothes.
"I'll show you to your quarters, if you're ready," the crewman said. "We cleared out a room for the Spartans. It's very secure. The captain is also sending you a case of improved guns. I've seen them. They're really cool looking."
"When will they arrive?"
"After the briefing."
"Thanks for your efforts. Show me the way to the room." John took one last look at his armor before leaving the room. The door closed behind him and his anxiety increased.
The crewman led him through a series of corridors and larger hallways. The crew members they passed made an effort not to stare but failed. His enhanced hearing easily picked up their whispers. Most of the crew wasn't tanned, but judging from their comments, he looked "deathly pale." John sighed. Who had time to waste lying under a sun when there was a war going on?
Crewman Newton stopped at a large door and entered a password. He programmed the door to open with a retinal scan from the Master Chief.
"So this is it," the crewman said and gestured to the medium sized room. There were several over-sized beds on one side and a door to a bathroom on the other side.
"Nice," John said.
He expected the crewman to leave but the young man stayed in place, nervously fiddling with something in his pocket.
"Do you play chess, sir?" the crewman asked. "There's a chess club meeting in fifteen minutes if you want to get in a game before the briefing. The gaming room is right beside the mess."
"Chess?" John walked further into the room and looked around. The crewman seemed good-natured, he thought, but he acted as if they were good friends and this irked him.
The crewman waited awkwardly for a reply that never came. "Well, I better get going," he said. "Let me know if you need anything." The crewman left the room but forgot to salute. The door slid closed.
John sat down on one of the beds. He felt more relaxed now that he was alone.
However, a few minutes passed and boredom started to set in. He considered going to the gaming room to play chess. Chess was a good game; it would help him keep his mind busy. He had played against his Spartan teammates many times. He had also played against the Artificial Intelligence named Cortana and she had cleaned the floor with him.
There would be a lot of talking in the gaming room. No, he couldn't bring himself to go and socialize with a group of complete strangers. Not now, anyways.
A chill passed through him. He pulled a blanket around him and went over to the thermostat. The room's temperature was 22C. It was warm enough. The cold must be anxiety. His hands felt cold. He rubbed them together to generate warmth.
He decided that sleep would be the best thing for him and set the alarm to go off in an hour. He lay back on the bed and tried to relax.
An hour and a half later, the alarm beeped. Its shrill sound startled John. He sat up quickly, amazed at how fast the time had passed. He ran a hand through his hair. It was getting too long. He didn't have time to trim it but he did have time to shave. He searched the supply bag beside his bed for a new razor. There was an unopened package of razors in the bottom. He grabbed it and headed toward the bathroom.
The front door made a beeping noise.
John stopped in his tracks. It beeped again. He felt a surge of annoyance and put the razor on a desk. Then, he went over and opened the door. UNSC soldier Sergeant Chris Cory, one of the fifteen survivors who made it off the outpost alive, stood in the hall holding a large box. The Sergeant was a large man, standing at 6'3" with a black goatee and a smooth complexion.
"I'd salute but I have my hands full, Master Chief," he said with a grin that didn't reach his eyes.
"I was told those guns were supposed to be delivered after the briefing," John said.
"Sorry for the interruption, sir."
There was something off about the Lieutenant. He voice sounded empty.
John scratched his head. Maybe I need more sleep. He was starting to see danger when there wasn't any.
"You can put them over there, Sergeant." John gestured to the empty area near the far wall.
"You've got to see the new MA5K-B rifles," Sergeant Cory injected more enthusiasm into his voice. He set the box down and carefully removed the lid.
John raised an eyebrow. He always liked seeing new weapons. He moved beside the sergeant for a closer look. The guns were clean and unscratched. The overhead lights made them gleam. They looked almost the same as a MA5K rifle.
"They fire more rounds than the regular MA5K," Cory said.
John reached in to pick one up--
A white light formed in front of the Sergeant. The soldier twisted and tried to stab John in the neck with an energy knife. John reacted without thinking and grabbed the Sergeant's wrist. He squeezed but didn't hear anything break. The wrist felt like metal. John squeezed even tighter to no effect.
"Infidel!" the sergeant said in an electronic voice. "Demon!"
A robot. This was new. His heart started to pound.
They struggled for a minute. The robot's strength matched his own. John leaned in with all his weight and tried to break the robot's arm against the side of a table. They almost fell over together.
The robot struck at him with its free arm and John jumped back.
John tried to circle the robot but it kept itself between him and the weapons box.
John took a quick glance at his surroundings, trying to find something to use as a weapon. There were only beds, tables and a few chairs.
"So much for a "secure" room," he muttered.
The robot charged toward him with the energy knife, slashing it back and forth. It was a glowing blur and John knew it would be impossible to get a hold of the robot's wrist again.
He slid to the side and grabbed a chair. Then, he ran in and swung it at the robot's head.
The robot slashed out with the knife, creating a glowing red line across the back legs of the chair. One of them fell off and hit the floor with a clang. The smell of burnt metal filled the air.
John lunged forward to stab the robot with the remaining two chair legs. He managed to push the robot back several feet. It almost fell. John made a run for the lid of the weapon's box. The robot moved forward in a blur and John had no choice to strike out with a sidekick. It hit the robot in the center of its chest but the point of the energy knife sunk into John's thigh. He cried out in pain while the robot stumbled back a few more feet. Its holographic projection flickered off for a moment, revealing the metal underneath.
Time slowed as John limped toward the lid. Pain surged in his thigh but somehow he managed to grab the lid just as the robot charged again. He swung it as hard as he could at the robot's legs, knocking it on to its back so hard it dropped the knife. John raised the lid and brought it down on the robot's neck. The metal give way with a screech. He struck down again and the robot's head rolled away. Sparks shot out of the headless body.
"Demon!" the robot's head hissed. The light in its eyes flickered and went out. The hologram faded completely, leaving behind the blue-grey, metal skeleton.
John sank to the floor in relief. The pain in his leg was so intense his eyes watered.
The door of the room opened and several armed soldiers burst in. They scanned the room and moved in for a closer look at the robot.
"Are you alright, Master Chief?" the squad leader asked.
"Yeah," John said, trying to catch his breath. He had just survived an attack without his armor. Warmth filled his body as he contemplated that fact. His heartbeat slowed to a regular pace.
An alarm went off from somewhere inside the robot's body.
"Everyone, out of the room!" John yelled. "Now!"
The soldiers took off toward the door. John limped behind them as quickly as he could. They all made it into the hall. The doors closed behind them just as a device inside the robot went off. A loud boom shook the floor of the deck. Several lights flickered and died. A fire alarm started to wail.
"That was close," one of the soldiers said. The others grumbled in agreement.
"I need to get to the medical bay." John leaned against the wall.
"That injury looks nasty," the leader agreed. "We'll escort you there."
"There might be other robots on board."
"Oh." The leader's eyes widened as he thought about that.
"We need to round up the survivors and scan them. They'll be in the medical bay."
"We're with you, Chief," the leader said, "but I don't think your armor is ready yet."
"It doesn't matter."
The leader made a signal and one of the soldiers gave John a gun. "Let's move out," he said.
John followed the other soldiers toward the medical bay. If there were any more robots, he wanted to be there--armored or not.
Author's notes: I'm not sure when this little event would take place. I'm not an expert on the Halo universe. John is an interesting character to write about. He's quiet. So much so that I'm not sure I portrayed him accurately. I think he's very likable for his bravery. I like that he feels responsible for the other Spartan soldiers. I dislike that he doesn't have much of a social life. It's kind of sad. He's all business.
P.S. I forgot to add Cortana to this story. I'll have to fix that soon.