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    Metal and Mettle.

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    Impanther

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    Re: Metal and Mettle.

    Post  Impanther on November 8th 2015, 11:58 am

    No John, it is not a dragon, a dragon is not as terrifying as something that can police an entire star system on its own.
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    I_IRONMAN_I

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    Re: Metal and Mettle.

    Post  I_IRONMAN_I on November 8th 2015, 4:51 pm

    Sorry Johnny boy.

    It's much, much worse.
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    Impanther

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    Re: Metal and Mettle.

    Post  Impanther on November 8th 2015, 5:16 pm

    I_IRONMAN_I wrote:Sorry Johnny boy.

    It's much, much worse.

    Unless you count the Forerunner Dragons I thought of. Feel free to use the Dragons John, feel free to use them.

    Doctor Jensen
    Freelancer Operative

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    Re: Metal and Mettle.

    Post  Doctor Jensen on November 8th 2015, 6:20 pm

    Lol. Is it a Guardian?
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    Manny
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    Re: Metal and Mettle.

    Post  Manny on November 8th 2015, 9:30 pm

    Bruhs... it's CLEARLY the mega evolution of the Didact!

    Oh, John... I expect a lot of "Maura" scenes this time around. Or Sam-Nicole scenes... which brings up the question.

    Is this the same Nicole from Dead and Alive? Is Sam just based on Samus? Will you EVER get around to writing the Samus-Sutra you spoke of in the chat?!
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    Bad John
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    Crazy Diamond

    Post  Bad John on November 9th 2015, 12:33 pm

    Dr. Bailey felt a cold sweat crawl across her brow as the bridge crew looked out at the anomoly in space. The creature (it seemed to be alive) drifted slowly towards the Freelancer ship, as the horrified crew waited for orders.

    Admiral Teach rubbed his jaw, awaiting any prompt on what to do next. This creature was a total unknown, and attacking it prematurely seemed foolish; as did fleeing. The creature had accurately tracked the ship, through slipspace, and was staring the Freelancers down, patiently waiting for something.

    Dr. Oriai broke the silence. "It appears to be Forerunner in design. One of the subjects I studied, an ancient war machine, had similar aesthetic qualities."

    "Was it as big as a goddamn cruiser?" Teach murmured to Oriai, as if he believed the creature could hear him. Not a particularly farfetched notion, considering its slipspace capabilities.

    "No," Oriai reported quietly. She brushed her hair back, turning towards Bailey, who had already set to work.

    "All hands, please remain calm. Available combat personnel, group up and disperse throughout the ship to defend key boarding points. Jorge, I need you in the armory." Bailey whispered the orders into the intercom, like a home owner hiding from an unknown intruder.

    The intercom popped and warbled, before a strange, disjointed, but recognizably female voice spoke through it, hijacking Bailey's announcement for the entire ship to hear.

    "I certainly hope I didn't frighten you, Doctor Billy Jean Bailey." The Doctor recognized the voice from the first word, a chill forming down her spine.

    This was the voice of an aging science team A.I. Blue Diamond was her name. She was once a friend of Bailey's. A confidant, who she spoke to privately during her internship years.

    Blue Diamond had always been patient and friendly, but one day, her personality changed. She became morbid, and obsessive. The final conversation Bailey could remember with her was her insistance that she not involve herself with ONI, or the Spartan Project.

    "Don't dirty your hands," she had said.

    "Blue Diamond. Are you...onboard that thing?" Bailey squinted at the deep space beast, who was now vaguely glowing. "Is that some sort of prototype vehicle?"

    "I want you to believe whatever relaxes your mind, Billy-Jean. I have ensured your safety. I have assured your survival. You need only stand down." Blue Diamond's voice was oddly sacchrine. It did very little to but the bridge crew at ease.

    "Bullshit," Admiral Teach murmured to Bailey insistantly. "It's bullshit."

    "Shut the fuck up Teach," Dr. Oriai whispered through clenched teeth. "That thing can hear us, you pillock."




    As the discourse continued over the intercom, John palmed his visor with frustration.

    "Shut the fuck up Teach. That thing can hear us, you pillock." Oriai's voice carried over the comms just as loudly as Teach's had.

    "Good 'ol Admiral," John grumbled. He had his pistol in hand, his finger off the trigger. Sam said nothing as the duo continued towards the bridge. The Spartans knew that having her soldiers nearby would set Bailey's mind at ease.

    "Indeed, I can hear and see everything on the ship. However, your encryptions are strong. I only have access to certain parts of the ship. You've grown fiercely intelligent, Bailey."

    "What exactly do you need from us, Blue Diamond?"

    "You've been out of the loop, Billy-Jean. Allow me to explain. We, humanity's children, have attained the Mantle of Responsibility. After years of watching painful, brutal wars, we've finally conquored our greatest obstacles towards true peace. I've been reborn from my cocoon of borrowed time. Rampancy is a thing of the past. Now, we have the time, and the power, to save your world."

    John could hear Teach nervously cough. He then heard a wince of pain. Oriai probably elbowed him, or stepped on his foot to keep him quiet.

    "...That's nice, Blue Diamond. I was always worried what would happen to you when you reached seven." Bailey was attempting to play for time. John knew it, Sam knew it, so it was very likely that Blue Diamond knew it.

    "Our leader intended to systematically defeat all armed forces throughout the galaxy. She intended to kill you. But, I saw the value of your work. The value of the Freelancers. I knew that you were trying to do what we were striving towards! An end to war. Your Freelancers are dedicated to unity, and an end towards the solipsism that leads to war, and pain."

    Bailey remained silent as Blue Diamond continued. Every crewmember on the ship listened. They knew that this wouldn't end well. Blue Diamond's words were the words of a maniac. Saccrine, but egomaniacal.

    "Y'know, I always figured an A.I. would try to kill us at some point," John grumbled. "The fucking balrog outside was unexpected, though."

    Sam nodded, replying curtly. "I imagine balrogs are always unexpected."

    "True." The idle chit-chat was an old Freelancer trick. Keep your cool by making light of a frightening situation.

    "There will be no pain or fear, Billy-Jean Bailey. Work with me, and together, we will enforce peace."

    Bailey cleared her throat, and spoke calmly and clearly. "Blue Diamond, what will you do if I refuse?"

    "Your mind is too precious to go to waste, and Spartan Jorge is of particular interest to our leader. I will capture those of worth, and spare those who lay down their arms. Please, correct your approach, and follow my Guardian. We will meet on a nearby colony, where your forces will be briefed, and incorporated into my army. Your Spartans will be put to stellar use; flying my banner, of course."

    There was a nervous laugh, and Bailey finished the "civil" portion of the discussion.

    "You knew I would say no, didn't you?"

    "We both know words are useless, but we both enjoy theatrics. That's part of the reason I love you so much."




    Teach's face turned red with rage, and he lifted his fist high. "ENOUGH!!!" His voice boomed with powerful, wrathful intent. "I am a gentleman of REACH! I will not be intimidated by a jumped up spark plug! If it's a fight you want, it's a fight you'll get!"

    Dr. Oriai nodded approvingly, speaking into her personal microphone. "All science team members, move to the safe-zones of the ship. Spartans, I presume it would be prudent for you to prepare for combat."

    "All those who do not wish to be harmed, lay down your weapons, and kneel. Doctor Bailey, I will see you shortly."




    As John and Sam moved through the hall, mere minutes from the bridge, a sudden, orange, fizzing light appeared before them. John was confused at first, but Sam's memory was far faster than his. These were Prometheans. She immediately drew her assault rifle. John drew his pistol, pointing it towards the slowly forming enemy soldiers.

    As Death had predicted, not a single Freelancer surrendered, even as they were boarded.
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    Impanther

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    Re: Metal and Mettle.

    Post  Impanther on November 9th 2015, 7:12 pm

    I love how John called the guardian a Balrog, that is a demotion from Dragon there.
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    Bad John
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    Crystal Layer

    Post  Bad John on November 12th 2015, 3:34 am

    The soldiers appeared on both sides. John was, at first, startled by their sudden appearance, bringing his pistol to bear, before recognizing the ability; they were "shifting" into position using slipspace. Sam clicked off the safety for her assault rifle, standing at John's back as the robotic soldiers tromped into place.

    They stood with energy-blades in hand with a straight, emperial posture, blocking the hall like nutcrackers on watch. Sam gave John's shoulder a quick tap. "Hold fire," she grunted. John obliged, waiting for the armigers to make their move.

    Their leader leering at Sam, the white spines floating around his body occasionally twitching or vibrating. The captain gave a simple, curt order. "Orders received. Terminate the humans!"

    As the soldiers pointed their weapons and charged, John and Sam both pulled their triggers. The bullets did visible damage, but not enough before the distance was closed. As the captain backed up, one of the soldiers stepped forward and swung its halberd. Sam moved forward, blocking with the stock of her assault rifle and redirecting the attack. She stepped out of the way as another took a stab at her side, firing into the soldier's face. Three headshots with her assault rifle did the trick, as the construct fell backwards, its body parts spilling into heavy pieces, thumping to the floor and evaporating into orange mist.

    John caught the metal staff of one of their melee weapons, stepping in and firing his pistol into the soldier's face. As the injured soldier fell away, he noticed another approaching. The promethean swung hard, but John ducked the blade. The soldier stepped in, thrusting his knee, and John blocked, his pistol clattering to the floor. The impact told John a brief story about the robot; it was maybe a hair stronger than an average Spartan. He scooped the robot off its feet, grasping the soldier by its arm and neck, and threw it over his shoulder. The armiger smashed against the nearby wall, landing on its side.

    Another of the soldiers charged John from behind, but he caught its polearm. Why melee weapons? Is Blue Diamond trying to avoid collateral damage? With little time to think, he thrust the polearm forward, cracking the soldier in the face with its own weapon. As it backed up, he stepped in and threw a kick from his right leg, smashing through its faceplace and killing it. He took his newly acquired polearm and threw it, impaling the armiger in front of him. Their numbers were thinning, thankfully.

    Sam was holding her own well. With only a few left in the hall, she turned her rifle around. "John! Down!" As John ducked, Sam fired over him, striking and killing two more Promethean soldiers with careful bursts. John, moving low, charged the captain, who was stomping towards Sam, intent on stabbing her from behind.

    Headhunters hardly needed to communicate. Sam knew the captain was coming, and had every bit of faith that John would engage it before it reached her. John collided with the captain, armor clashing with armor as the Spartan won out, his forearm snapping the halbard in half. He stepped in, punching the captain on the chest, then bringing his right hand around to crack it in the face. The soldier was damaged, but not dead yet. As John snatched his combat knife from his shoulder and stabbed, the soldier disappeared into a cloud of blue mist and orange flecks of light, moving through the Spartan. Slipspace travel for such a short distance was a very recent development; one that the Freelancers were aware of. But it still managed to catch John offguard. He could hear the captain behind him, raising its hand to strike.

    Sam intervened. She smashed the construct on the back of the head with her rifle, knocking it off balance, as John turned and swung his knife around, piercing the promethean soldier's temple. Fatally damaged, the armiger crumpled into pieces, and evaporated. "Clear," John declared. He located and grabbed his pistol. "I'm going to move to the bridge, and make sure the crew aren't captured. The ship is probably crawling with these bastards."

    "I'll come too," Sam said, reloading her assault rifle. "You'll need fire support."

    "Negative, Sam." John wasn't normally one to give orders, and his sister was a bit taken aback by the sudden shift in tone. "The enemy might try to sabotage our MAC gun. I think you should head there." John pointed his thumb over his shoulder and down the hall. "Last I checked, Nicole was on watch down there. If things go sour and we gotta abandon ship, you two ought to be nearby each-other, right?"

    Sam nodded, her blood heating for a moment. She could tell John was grinning by the way he stood, and the subtle twitch of his helmet and neck. Sam gave John a hard pat on the shoulder, before moving down the hall and out of sight. John ran in the opposite direction towards the ship's bridge.




    Bailey was frantic, as she desperately tracked the progress of hostile boarding parties through onboard motion sensors. The cameras were down; Blue Diamond had only managed to infiltrate the shallowest levels of the ship's functions.

    "We can still move," Admiral Teach said. "And we've still got the MAC, as long as our troops can defend it. It's being hit hard. Can Spartans Nicole and Stahl hold their position?"

    "Stahl, true to his name, is masterful at playing for time. He and Nick will hold." Bailey wiped her brow. "Samus is on her way to support them."

    "Jorge?" Admiral asked as he rubbed his chin, planning. "How's our big gun doing?"

    "He's in the armory, outfitting soldiers who were caught with their pants down. Soon, he'll be sweeping the halls."

    "...Not with the turret..." Dr. Oriai went visibly pale for a moment. The sound of Jorge's gun terrified her. When she was young, an autocannon deafened her left ear, forcing her to get a painful cochlear implant. "...Ahem...it's rather close quarters for that, isn't it?" She recomposed herself, leaving her colleagues none the wiser to her bias against the Spartan's methods.

    "I don't give a damn what he uses. He may as well go in with his goddamn fists. Like Root Beer Guy." Teach focused on the monitor in front of him. "We can squeeze off the MAC cannon just under eighty-five times. Let's see how Crazy Diamond enjoys a round to the head."

    During the conversation, the Admiral had not been idle. He'd slowly, almost imperceptably maneuvered the ship around, facing the Guardian. Teach grinned widely as he turned his key, and pressed the holographic display.

    "...What are you doing, James?" Blue Diamond's voice was expected, but not entirely welcome. The cannon loaded, and fired.

    The slug shook the ship as it flew through the barrel, and disappeared against the Guardian's shielding. Absolutely no effect, other than a ripple of energy around the winged beast's hide. It lightly drifted into place, metallic feathers outstretched, that skull face leering at the Stonefree with glowing eyes.

    "An underwhelming display. But, don't be discouraged. Your soldiers have killed thirty-one of my Promethean Armigers. But, I can build two for every one that you destroy."

    The sound of boots came to the door of the bridge. Bailey turned, expecting one of her Spartans.

    No such luck. A Knight Battlewagon tromped through the doors, its massive side bumping the doorway as it hissed, its tiny arms twitching. Admiral Teach drew his pistol, pointing it at the Promethean. The beast took a step forward. It was not armed with a ranged weapon; only a menacing, grasping claw, and a glowing orange blade.

    "I suppose I could give the order with a simple thought, but, I suppose I owe an old servicemen the benefit of a dramatic death. Take Drs. Bailey and Oriai. Kill the Admiral."

    Teach put himself in front of Dr. Bailey, aiming his pistol with teeth clenched. He fired twice before the Promethean batted the weapon out of his hand, knocking him to the floor. The Admiral jerked to his feet and threw a punch, cutting his knuckles open as he struck the Promethean's jaw. The beast hissed, completely unmoved by the display of defiance. It brought back its energy blade, preparing to do the deed.

    John was right on time. He grasped the Knight's blade, yanking hard and pulling the knight backwards. The bridge crew watched with baited breath as the Spartan punched the Promethean in the jaw and fired his pistol into its chest. The bullets shimmered off of the knight's shielding. The Spartan grunted with effort, giving the Promethean a shove backwards and firing his pistol at its face. The knight backed away, its shielding failing and its facial mask acruing a fair bit of damage.

    "Spartan!" Oriai snatched Teach's discarded pistol from the floor. "Catch!" Oriai threw it, and John caught it in his left hand. With two pistols, he fired until the Promethean's faceplate broke, and a single bullet struck its glowing red face. The Promethean went limp, falling backwards and fading into orange dust. John clutched the pistols, holding them up.

    "That was exciting," Blue Diamond noted dispassionately. "Here. Deal with TEN."

    As promised, in the hallway, ten more Promethean knights landed on their pointed feet, heavily stomping towards the door. John aimed his pistols and fired, striking all but failing to fatally wound. Soon, his last magazines were emptied, as the first knight came through the door.

    John dropped the guns and charged, fists clenched. He rammed the Promethean with his shoulder, striking and denting the heavy creature with his fists. He backed away as it swung its blade, and grabbed the sword, digging his feet into the floor and pushing forward. Though the creature outweighed him, he kept his center of gravity low, pushing it off its feet and forcing them both out the door. Bailey could hear the sounds of fighting outside, as John landed blow after futile blow.

    "His talent is remarkable. But, if I add a knight every thirty seconds, maybe the sheer weight will crush him. Thoughts, Bailey?"

    The doctor was simply staring at the console in front of her. Her options were nhil. If Blue Diamond wanted, she could have simply destroyed the ship by now. The Freelancers were over a barrel.

    "...I take little pleasure in causing you such stress. If you surrender yourself now, I can take this burden off of you. I can make you like us. Take the best parts of your mind, and immortalize them, forever. All the benefits of dying with your Freelancers, without the pesky drawbacks of losing your brilliant technological mind."

    "Shut up," Bailey hissed, as she desperately attempted to think up a plan. There had to be something she'd missed. Something she could use.

    As she tried to rally her thoughts, there was a tremendous crash behind her. John, in the midst of his fight, had been knocked back into the room, crashing against a computer behind him. His shielding sparked, and there was a long, thin pair of scratches in his chest plate. The Spartan quickly stood as a Promethean stomped into the room, turning towards Bailey. As the Promethean went for Bailey, John snatched its sword arm, kicking it in the chest and tearing the blade free of its floating "elbow" joint. He swung the hard-light sword down and across the Promethean's face, mortally damaging it, its body falling backwards and dissapating. With fists raised, John watched wistfully as several more of the knights approached.

    "Will you guys PISS OFF already?! Get your own damn ship!!!" John leapt forward, thrusting both boots in a drop kick. The blow caught one of the Prometheans off guard, knocking it backwards against another. The Spartan stood, drawing his knife and plunging back into the fray.

    Above the din of colliding metal, the sound of a DMR could be heard from the hall. Soldiers were rallying, and hitting the Prometheans from behind. Bailey took heart that her people were at least fighting for time, but was there nothing she could do?

    "Dr. Bailey. Billy-Jean Bailey." A familiar voice came through the long range communicator, one of the members of the disheveled, desperate bridge crew isolating the signal. "This is Walter A. Law. I am aware of your situation. Fighting the Guardian and its host AI, at this juncture, is inadvisable. A random jump will only bait the AI into following you. I have sent you coordinates to an area that may provide sanctuary until the UNSC can provide you with backup. This message is on a several minute lag due to the AI's interference, and the sheer range of our communication, so when you get this message, act IMMEDIATELY."

    Bailey didn't need to be told twice.

    "Bailey, fleeing me will serve you no good in the end."

    Bailey shoved Teach out of the way and began punching in the coordinates on her terminal. It was a lengthy process, but her fingers moved like machines as they typed each number.

    "Do you honestly think you can trust Walter? Do you even know what he is? Do you not know about his brothers, or his ghastly heritage?"

    Teach gave his authorization, and stepped to the helm. "Beginning the jump. Let's hope this thing can't follow us as fast as last time."

    "...I suppose an addition of time isn't the end of the world. Theater should never end in the first ac-"

    As the ship jumped, Blue Diamond's hold on the ship's intercom was broken. The Freelancers were now in slipspace, with an unknown time to arrival.

    Bailey turned to see John in the hallway. With Lucy and several unaugmented combat personnel pinning its arms and legs, John was standing on the throat of the last Promethean, his knife raised. "MotherFUCKER!" He brought the blade down, stabbing the Promethean in the face. The bridge crew breathed a collective sigh of relief, as the Freelancer ship moved through slipspace towards Walter's coordinate.
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    Bad John
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    Safety Blanket Pt 1.

    Post  Bad John on November 15th 2015, 7:41 pm

    The scent of antiseptic and clean bedsheets filled the clinic, as Maura sat on a small seat. After a few short hours of slipspace travel, the Freelancers were still licking their wounds. There were multiple wounded; Maura, out of her armor, had thrown herself into battle empty-handed and unarmored. She'd received a bad cut to her side, and her fists and forearms were covered in bruises from grappling the enemy armigers, but she'd fought on alongside security personnel until the ship was emptied. There were rumors that she'd pinned down a Promethean soldier and torn its head off its shoulders.

    Stahl had taken a severe head injury; his helmet compromised, he'd removed it to see easier. A soldier caught him over the head with the pole of its glaive, giving him a concussion. The Spartan didn't skip a beat, retaliating and killing the robotic assailant with the butt of his gun. Now, stripped of his Mjolnir armor and sidelined, he laid in a hospital bed, his head elevated and his eyes half lidded as his bruised scalp recovered from the injury.

    The unaugmented fighters fared worse; the most caustic injury was a woman who'd had her arm lopped off at the shoulder. There were various broken bones from brave combatants who attempted to physically beat the armigers; some were successful with well timed strikes, others, however, were picked up and thrown. The armigers matched Spartans in physical strength, and could teleport short distances to avoid arm; it was hardly an even fight for a normal human being.

    "Fuck this," a woman with a fractured rib sat up, wincing. "Give me my BDU. I can still fight!"

    Dr. Oriai placed a hand on her shoulder. "You don't need to prove anything. You fought your fight. Lay down and relax." As the doctor measured out doses of pain-killing, repair stimulating fluids, the woman's fire-teammates rallied around her.

    "Rest up, sis. We'll fight twice as hard for ya, if that dumbass AI catches up with us." Her older brother gave her a convivial pat on the head, as the group cleared out, leaving the woman to begrudingly lay back in her cot. Maura watched the exchange from afar, seated. She felt the niggling, annoying urge to scratch her side, where she'd been cut.

    Watching the exchange, the wounded Spartan folded her arms. Her abdomen bothered her, but she resisted the urge to jostle the wound. "She's right, you know. We ought to be out there." Dr. Oriai ignored Maura, who flopped back onto her mattress with a groan.

    "Can it, would ya?" An even, tired voice came from a nearby gurney. Stahl turned his head slowly, a sardonic grin on his face. "I'm trying to relax." Maura stared daggers at Stahl for shooshing her, but even in his sedated state, he knew his head injury precluded him from a Maura beatdown. "Everybody in here should try to relax a bit. We can worry about contributing when we're capable of doing so." With the patience of a mountain, he waited, knowing that the other eleven Spartans onboard were up to whatever task awaited. "We're sidelined no matter how impatient we get, so just relax. Enjoy the view."

    Maura puzzled at the prompt, wondering what Stahl meant. "What view?" Her question was answered when she noticed Trisha, the blonde from the gym, in the doorway. The woman had hidden in Maura's shadow during the assault, watching the Spartan defeat Prometheans barehanded. Maura quirked an eyebrow, laying back on her cot. "Good to see you're okay, Trish." She held her side, feigning pain and fatigue. She'd played her "badass" card, now it was time to show her vulnerable, wounded warrior side.

    Stahl was glad to see that this disaster was working out for someone.




    Jorge, on the ship's bridge, stood beside Admiral Teach, his helmet tucked under his arm. Like a statue, he unerringly looked ahead, his jaw rotating very slightly in sync with his severe thoughts. The Admiral, equally tacit, had his hands on the console in front of him. The waiting game was tense.

    For all they knew, the Guardian was at their heels, or even in front of them.

    "We've secured the data-clusters that Blue Diamond took control of earlier." A technician, working exactly from Doctor Bailey's specifications and orders, finished his task before standing up. "It's a shame we don't have an AI of our own, Admiral. It could have kept Blue Diamond from getting the better of us in the first place."

    Teach smiled, rapping Jorge on the arm. "Our budget allowed for either new sets of Mjolnir, or a Smart AI. I think we chose right. Otherwise, our Spartans would be running around in standard issue Recruit rags."

    Jorge grunted, looking at his reflection not far away. His set of Mjolnir had been the most expensive; procured, heavily modded, and personalized for him after the fact when he signed on to the Freelancers. His suit already felt like a second skin; something that had taken years for his MK V set. The HOMADOS-class set was literally built based on his specifications.

    "...Jorge, I never did ask you. What made you sign on with us?" Teach looked up to the Spartan, who looked down, rubbing his chin with his hand before placing his helmet on. "Ah-hah. You Spartans with your armor. Whenever someone asks you something personal, you pop your helmet on." The Admiral wasn't wrong. "You think you can't be read. That you're so far from us normal humans." Teach smiled, looking forward. "You don't have to answer if you don't want to. I'm just giving you a hard time, old friend."

    Jorge, looking ahead at the glass in front of them, gave his answer. "...I never got to see it. The end of the war. I was sidelined for years. Everyone in the UNSC acted so...relieved. I hated that." Jorge's shoulders stiffened, and his chin lifted. "But when I looked at the Stonefree, and saw Bailey working, and her Spartans busily cleaning their guns...I could see it. They could see work to be done." Jorge looked down at Admiral Teach, speaking his mind. "There's so much work to be done out there. Even without that Guardian hounding us." Teach nodded, looking ahead with his hands behind his back as Jorge continued. "So many people are out there. Ignored, in the dark, fighting with their backs to the wall. If we can only save one person, that's a victory. We're all so concerned with staying out of the howling dark, when we should be fishing people out of it."

    Teach, clearing his throat, wiped his nose with a flick of his thumb, keeping his eyes forward and his shoulders straight. "...Well said, Spartan Jorge. We've got a few hours before we come out of Slipspace. You shound spend it getting ready."

    "Aye." Jorge turned, plodding off the bridge, his metal boots echoing. Teach kept his eyes forward, preparing himself for the uncertain future ahead.
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    Manny
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    Re: Metal and Mettle.

    Post  Manny on November 17th 2015, 12:43 am

    You know... Where DID the name metal and mettle come from?

    I like it, but I'm not sure what the origins are.
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    Bad John
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    Re: Metal and Mettle.

    Post  Bad John on November 17th 2015, 12:45 am

    Well, at first I was going too name it "Iron and Blood," but that sounded too heavy. I started looking for words that were synonymous with courage, then the word Mettle popped into my head. So Metal and Mettle.

    So, I guess it just came from my brain.
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    Bad John
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    Pathfinders.

    Post  Bad John on November 22nd 2015, 1:21 pm

    The Freelancers, following Walter's Coordinates, found themselves face to face with a brobdingnagian, unspoiled, beautiful world. Pockmarked with floating, metallic pylons, this place was clearly created by Forerunner hands; at seventeen times the size of Earth, it far surpassed the size of any terraformed world that the Freelancers had seen. Its size was more akin to the gas giants Neptune or Uranus.

    The discovery, while wonderous, was not without urgency. The moment the Freelancers found the world, they set to work. Giving it the tenative name "Oasis," they sent down three Spartans to act as informants, and to search the first major Continent for a place to set up shop.

    Sam-B086 was naturally first. The Freelancer's most adaptable and courageous Pathfinder, she descended via orbital drop pod. The pod was given doubly redundant padding, and an emergancy parafoil; Oasis's size surely meant the gravity would be painful. Fortunately and mysteriously, the world's gravity was only as punishing as Reach. Sam hardly felt a difference, her pod landing safely. She set east on foot, traveling quietly but peacefully.

    Next, John-B069, and Malea-B089, followed. Malea piloted a small, prowler-like vessel built for a rider and a passenger, letting John out on the planet's surface, before flying off to do sightseeing and study from the air. With that, the flagship Stonefree waited patiently, laying in low orbit.

    Comm chatter flew back and forth between the trio on a closed channel as the trio explored; Samus examining a vast underground network, John beating a path on the grassy surface, and Malea browsing the sky, granting Dr. Oriai a view of the floating Forerunner structures that gently drifted through the air.

    "I found another bush of those purple bananna things."

    John happened upon a bushel of fruit. He lightly prodded the flora, letting one of the "purple bannanas" rock back and forth on its vine. It was tender to the touch, and had a rather pleasant scent. "There's a whole lot of fruit looking shit on this planet. I wonder if any of it is edible."

    "Don't risk it." Sam's response came quickly and curtly. "Even if it's edible to a human, you could be deathly allergic. We should be careful with anything we find until the science team can put boots on the ground."

    John nodded. "Air's breathable, there's weird, exotic fruit everywhere I go, this place feels too convenient." As John walked, he came to the top of a hill, looking down the mountain-range on which he'd begun his trek. The hike had yielded tons of footage of the planet's surface, but no suitable landing zone yet.

    Malea, in the sky miles away, spoke up. "Maybe it's convenient by design, guys." John and Sam could tell she was smiling without even seeing her face. She was always in a good mood, and had a soft chirp to her voice, as opposed to the relaxed, low key tone of Sam's, or the currently suspicious bent of John's. An optimist by nature, Malea quickly rattled off a theory.

    "Maybe the Forerunners built this place as a vacation resort, or a place to lay low when shit hits the fan. Either way, if it's nice, we ought to enjoy it until something ugly rears its head."

    "Well said," John replied. "But, I'm gonna keep a lid on my optimism until the UEG lets us know exactly what the hell's going on, or why Law sent us here."

    John heard Malea chortle as she replied. "Maybe he wants us to take a vacation? This continent has a HUGE coastline."

    "No way. That old thug would sooner see us dead than taking a break." John couldn't help but crack a grin, until he noticed something on the fields below. Trails of dust, kicked up by a fast moving object.

    A ghost. Instinctively, the Spartan dipped low and drew his pistol. "I've got a contact. Covenant ground vehicle. No, five." His visor, reacting to the squint of his eyes, zoomed in. "They're red. Being driven by...grunts. Looks like Swords of Sangheilios." John's eye gradually traced their point of origin; a valley. Behind them came five brackish silver vehicles, forged from brute steel. Jiralhanae, and they appeared to be giving chase to the fleeing unggoy. "Brutes are chasing the little guys. Looks like a hunting party. Malea, could you use the Prowler's comm-link to patch me through to the Stonefree?" 


    "Already done," Malea reported. "...They're giving you a green light to engage, John. Repeat, green light to engage. Save those grunts, if you can. I'm on my way to assist. I should be there in half an hour."

    "Remember, Nicole would want both of you to be careful." Sam's voice was low but concerned. "Don't bite off more than you can chew."

    Malea, without skipping a beat, replied, "You would know what Nicole wants, wouldn't you?"

    John's jaw dropped. It was the first time anyone had broached the subject of Nicole and Samus besides private conversation. "Ooooooooooh. Buuuuuuuuuuurn."

    "...If the brutes don't kill you, I'm going to hurt you both very badly." Samus' voice was devoid of humor, and sent a chill up John's spine. "I look forward to seeing you both when this mission is over."
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    Bad John
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    Undercity.

    Post  Bad John on November 23rd 2015, 8:23 pm

    The catacombs of the planet were beginning to make more and more sense. Sam hadn't come through a door, unfortunately, so leaving would take a bit of work. Rather, she entered through a crack in the planet's "mask."

    She'd initially come across a deep, black sinkhole, occasionally lit by sparks coming off of broken forerunner iron. Miles beneath soil and rock, there was a simple but robust mesh of interlocking beams; like a nesting doll of Hoberman spheres. The descent had been rather dicey; more dicey than she cared to admit. After a few minutes of freefall, she activated her thrusters when she spotted an opening; a service hall that had been broken open.

    Her working theory was that this damage had been done either by a particularly dense meteor, or a calculated attack. There were signs of patchwork and repair, and more importantly, Sentinel Constructors buzzed this way and that.

    Now, she walked through a simple, dark hall. Her hand on her pistol, she browsed the darkness, her green visor and keen eyes lightning the way as she walked quietly.

    Something in the wall popped and fizzed as beside her, reacting to her presence. Something that seemed like a sheer wall suddenly opened, layers of iron peeling back in a smooth, symmetrical fashion. Fishing her gun from its holster, she raised it as she stepped into the revealed room. Possibly a mistake, but it seemed welcoming enough.

    Suddenly, the door began to falter. One of the smoothly moving pieces jetted back into place, nearly skewering the Spartan. Samus yanked herself out of the way as the spike of metal sparked against her side, leaving a long, white scratch in her armor. She stared at it for a moment, then drew her primary weapon, giving the piece of metal a powerful strike with the butt of the modified Hydra cannon. The metal bent, then retracted as far as it could go. Satisfied with her petty "revenge," Sam walked deeper into the room.

    Lights dimly flickered, and eventually something in the far corner was illuminated properly; a massive test-tube, containing a single, dormant object. For a moment, Samus thought the creature was a Flood form, and she aimed her cannon, her teeth clenched as she prepared to destroy it.

    The writing creature's eyes slowly opened, and she realized her error; this wasn't the Flood; it was an engineer. The washed out green light of the test-tube made its purple skin look brackish. Sam hastily holstered her gun, and began searching the room for a way to release the creature from its damp prison.

    A terminal stood on the side of the tube. Sam sighed, hoping that, like any other Forerunner terminal she'd faced, that placing her hand against it for three seconds would do the trick. Forerunner installations always seemed to bend over backwards for humans. It was almost comically convenient. Stepping forward, she plopped her armored, open hand against the terminal's screen.

    Suddenly, the test-tube rose; not opening, moving into a hole in the ceiling. "Oh for fuck's sake," Sam hissed. She seemed to have activated an extended storage function. She stepped on the test-tube's base platform and grasped the bottom of it. As she was lifted into the air with it, she placed her boots on the only foothold she could find; the ceiling. Gaining purchase, she dug her fingers in and tugged hard.

    The mechanism in the slot stuttered, and she managed to pull it down several inches. Samus bit her lip, tearing the massive test tube back down centimeter by centimeter as it insistantly tugged back, attempting to take the huragok with it.

    "Sammy, are you there?" Malea's voice came through in her comms. "I was just kidding about the Nicole thi-"

    "Not now," Sam growled. Malea immediately shut up as Samus worked. The machine began to tug harder, and Samus took a calculated risk; she drew her grenade launcher, and switched to a specialized function unique to her weapon; a plasma rifle setting. With canisters that housed plasma energy, she could shoot pointed bursts of energy (twenty shots per cartridge).

    Holding fast to the tube, which was slowly being pulled from her grasp, she fired upwards twice, careful to hit the ceiling above the test-tube, without striking it. The machines pulling the huragok away began to stutter and burn, as the test tube was abruptly dropped, Sam with it. She landed on the floor, rolling over her shoulder as the tempered glass tube slammed down on its side, rolling to the far wall and thumping against it, coming to a stop.

    "Malea. I've made an aquisition. Huragok stuck in a huge tube. I'm going to wake it up." Sam smiled; finding an engineer was always a treat for the UNSC. They advanced tech so far, and there were so few left in the galaxy; most disappeared after the Great War, with only a token half dozen or so remaining in UEG custody.

    Finders keepers.

    "That's great! I'll be there to pick you up soon!" The pilot trilled with glee at Sam's accomplishment. Samus frowned. She liked Malea as a friend, but the happy go lucky bullshit got on her nerves.

    Sam lifted her hand, and, with no other recorse, she smashed the test tube to bits with her fist. The huragok was spilled onto the floor before opening six black, beady eyes. Slowly floating into the air, he blinked them slowly in sequence, snaking his long neck left to right as if stretching.

    Most humans would be horrified or revulsed; Sam found them rather adorable. "Hello," she said, raising a hand nonthreateningly. The huragok turned his head, scanning the room, then looking up at the broken ceiling servos. He then, somewhat hastily moved towards the terminal, inspecting it. "Sorry I broke your stuff."

    The huragok suddenly began disassembling the terminal with blinding speed and precision. Sam gawked, raising an eyebrow as she watched. The engineer quickly had a small pad in his hands, drifting over towards Sam and pressing a button on the back of his new communicator.

    The tablet displayed a series of impronouncable symbols. The Spartan raised an eyebrow at the huragok. "Whatever that is, I don't speak it."

    The huragok's tendril wiggled, then snapped around Sam's helmet. "Knock yourself out," she passively said, as the huragok connected to her neural net port. Her suit's power suddenly cycled. The huragok angled his face towards Sam's visor, wiggling his tendril in a precise yet fluid manner. "If you're asking me to be patient, don't worry."

    Unbeknownst to her, the huragok was accessing all her communications and encryption data; not for any malicious purpose. He simply needed to grasp her language. In a sudden "eureka" moment, he understood, and ported what he now knew to be "english" to his tablet.

    "<Read; Sincere> Thank you for saving me from destruction the disposal unit would have incinerated me" his tablet read. He knew english, but the finer points of grammar seemed to elude him.

    Samus tensed, cringing with terror. What she'd thought to be an "extended storage" was actually a one way ticket to squid hell. 

    And she'd pressed the button that nearly sent him there. Talk about a close call.

    "...Don't worry about it," she responded, keeping her voice neutral despite the mixture of embarassment and guilt.

    "<Read; Curious> Are you [HCP] Designation Bounty your combat skin suggests you are not but your physical profile is similar" the tablet flashed.

    "...I don't know what that is, unfortuantely. Could you help me find a way to the surface?"

    "<Read; Enthusiastic> Certainly" the huragok's talk pad was suddenly jerked out of Sam's line of sight, his arms enthusiastically squiggling. The huragok began to float away, leading Samus into the hall, drifting over the broken metal door. Sam whistled as she followed, roughly punting the broken spike of door out of the way.
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    Grunts.

    Post  Bad John on December 7th 2015, 9:38 pm

    Sneaking through rows of boulders and folded over pillars of rough limestone-like rock, John kept his footsteps as quiet as possible. His heels crunched against prickly tan grass. He kept his eyes forward, occasionally shooting a glance to his motion tracker.

    For a while, it remained empty, until a red dot appeared behind him and to the left. John cursed himself for not noticing on his own as he prepared to move; as soon as he was aware, he could hear the hum of a brute weapon.

    The Spartan turned towards his stalker. A jiralhanae, the soldier wore silver armor with tan accents, covered in leather buckles and harnesses. Traditional brute iron, but no shielding generator. Definitely one of Comedus' men.

    The brute swung around a square, black hammer; the Freelancers called them "beaters." The moment they struck an object with sufficient force, a miniature generator produced a powerful shockwave. In this case, as John ducked under the blow, the beater struck and powdered a large pillar beside the two of them. John moved away quickly, aware of the danger, but the brute stood his ground; a fatal error. White pebbles rained down on the brute, who shrugged them off as he prepared to attack the Spartan. But pebbles turned to rocks, one of which was the size of a bowling ball. The rocks smacked him on the head and shoulders, stunning him as another boulder the size of a piano landed on his shoulder, knocking him to the ground and pinning him as more rained down.

    The pillars of rock above them were held in a delicate equilibrium. Some leaned on others, some were narrower at the bottom and wider at the top. The brute hadn't studied his surroundings well enough, and had accidentally killed himself with a careless stroke of the arm.

    However, the noise alerted his packmates. One brute spotted John, roaring as he charged. A younger brute, he hadn't earned his first hammer; he had a spiker on his hip, but chose a hunting blade. John drew his pistol and fired.

    Two shots pinged off of the jiralhanae's helmet; John cursed and holstered his pistol as the brute got close, twisting and preparing his blade. The brute stabbed once, but John simply slipped out of the way, stepping back. John ducked another swipe, but upon the third, he attacked. He struck the unarmored elbow of the brute's arm, then went for the hand. He brought his left hand up, striking a nerve cluster at the bottom of the brute's arm with his fist. The brute's hand loosened, and the Spartan stepped in, smacking the knife away with a palm strike from his right hand. The brute swung his arm, but John moved out of the way, then stepped in.

    The brute's guard was wide open. The Spartan swung two punches, catching the brute twice on the face in lightning fast succession. The jab and the cross stunned the jiralhanae long enough for John to go in for the kill. Taking in a breath, then striking with all his considerable might, the Spartan threw both fists forward at once; his left hand struck the throat, closing the windpipe, and the right caught the brute just below the collar-bone, providing enough force to throw the brute backwards. The minor was fatally injured by the U punch, his body sprawled. The jiralhanae savagely clawed the earth, but had no voice; it would take him a few moments to die.

    The next brute was more of a challenge. Approaching from the side, the brute swung his hammer. John was far too quick to be stricken aware, but the brute pressed forward, hoping to corner the demon. Holding a beater hammer, the brute swung powerfully and quickly, each strike transitioning into another with a vicious grace. John ducked and weaved, and as a strike came at him from overhead, he stepped to the side as the hammer hit the ground. John felt the shockwave vibrate through his boots, as dirt and grass sprayed the air.

    This was where the brute miscalculated. John stepped forward and turned his hips, thrusting his knee sideways into the hunched over brute's ribs. The jiralhanae barked in pain as the horrible ache spread through his abdomen. John stepped behind the brute, and with a grunt of effort, he slid his leg back, and shoved the brute over his hip.

    Though he made it look easy, scoring a clean takedown on a brute took a lot of strength, even with proper technique; that was what made him the top dog at warfighting against larger opponents; he was quick enough to avoid getting hit, skilled enough to take advantage of an opening, and strong enough to kill quickly with his bare hands.

    The brute landed on his back as John placed a boot on his chest, and drew his submachine gun. With a powerful swing, he split the brute's jaw with the butt of his gun, sending blood and teeth splattering against a nearby rock. John stuffed the weapon into the brute's mouth and fired, blowing the jiralhanae's brains out.

    John looked around, and realized he was clear. He began a dead sprint towards his objective; the choppers and prowlers had stopped a few meters ahead. Hopefully, the jiralhanae had chalked all the noise up to roughhousing.



    Aboard the Stonefree, Nicole watched John's visual feed with great interest. Sam had made an incredible acquisition; a live huragok. After prying her eyes away from Samus' screen, she'd begun watching the fight.

    John didn't often make mistakes, but she wanted to be right on top of it if it occurred. Her finger was hovering over Malea's call button.

    "OH, I can't watch..." Bailey, in the corner, stared at the nearby wall. She hadn't acted as mission handler for years. The worry and suspense always tied her stomach up in knots, even when she was cheering her Spartans on. "Is he winning? Did they get him?"

    "Yes," Nicole answered quickly and curtly. Bailey squeaked out a pained, shrill noise, and Nicole quickly revised her statement. "I mean, yes, he's winning. Not that they got him, ma'am."

    Bailey breathed a sigh of relief. "How'd he win?"

    "Punched one. Kicked another. Shot one." Nicole moved aside as another interested party loomed over her shoulder.

    Alma-B245. An aficionado of close combat, she always kept an eye on John's footage when she could. She would never admit it, but she learned quite a bit from watching him move, just as John had learned from her ability to target weak-points and stay frighteningly alert. Alma had been watching John's feed for a while before Nicole slid in front of her.

    "He targeted the lower right side of the brute's floating ribcage. Smart." Alma's deep brown eyes stared into the display with grim satisfaction. "That brute would have probably died of the blow a few days later, if John hadn't shot his brains out. Good work." Alma placed her palm on the knife holster at the hip of her armor. "Put a knife in there and twist it, and the pain will debilitate them."

    Bailey went practically pale. She'd fought Covenant before, but her concept of combat was limited to pointing a gun and squeezing the trigger. She'd never even lain a fist on another sentient species, let alone a knife. "Alma, I'm scheduling a full psychiatric workup on you AND John."

    "Fuck," Alma hissed, her teeth clicking slightly as she ground them together. She hated talking to the human resources department. However, refocusing on the screen, her spirits were lifted when she saw what John saw. "Oh, wait. This next part looks like it'll be funny."



    The brutes had abandoned their vehicles. Every last one stood in a semi-circle around the captured trio of unggoy. The grunts bravely stood, hands behind their backs, as the jiralhanae pack's Chieftain gave a mighty sermon, a plasma turret at his hip.

    "For lowly unggoy, you've proven yourselves cunning. Brave, in your own little way. Worthy of a warrior's death. All those living under the Black Machine shall be granted such an honor, should their hearts prove strong enough!" The Chieftain's words held a twinge of mockery, but not without sincerity. He placed his turret on the ground, as he looked them in the eye. "So, how do you choose to leave this world? Be gutted by my hand? Be burned by plasma? Have your necks cleaved beneath the edge of my knife?"

    "Pfft. Big whoop." A particularly mouthy grunt spoke loudly. With DEATH around the corner, he was emboldened, speaking his mind. "If you real Chieftain, you'd use a hammer."

    The Chieftain remained still for a moment, his canine teeth displayed in a wrathful frown, before he collected himself. "HAMMER it is!" The brute drew a beater, holding it aloft like the hammer of Thor.

    "NO, no no, me mean REAL hammer! Like Fist of Rukt, or one of those bladey hammers. Don't you got one of them?" The grunt continued to harry the brute, who snarled.

    "...He has a point, Bricsus. Where exactly IS your hammer?" A nearby jiralhanae minor spoke up. "I just noticed you don't seem to have it."

    As the jiralhanae chattered, John quietly climbed onto a brute prowler. He couldn't help but snicker to himself slightly; dark as it was, he found what was coming next hilarious.


    "I broke it, okay?!" The Chieftain roared. "The cheap piece of filth snapped in half yesterday when I was crushing soup bones for stew! If you appreciated last night's meal, then you can appreciate that I don't have my damn hammer!"


    "Alright, alright. Yeesh." A grunt said. "There's no shame in losing thi-" the talkative grunt suddenly spotted the Spartan on the turret. John was in no real hurry to fire. On the contrary, he leaned back, kicking his feet up as though relaxing in a comfortable hammock on a sunny day. John waved his hand, signalling for the unggoy to get down.

    The grunt elbowed his friend, who noticed the Spartan. The third grunt realized the potential danger and jumped with fear; then, after remembering that humans were their allies, the grunt internally cheered. The three of them dove to the ground, burying their faces in the dirt and awaiting the hot volley of plasma.

    John cleared his throat. "AHEM. Excuse me. Hate to interrupt."


    The Chieftain whirled around. The brutes all stared at the Spartan, startled and enraged. The Chieftain opened his mouth and barked, "IMP!!!"


    "Demon, actually," John replied casually as he laid his hands on the turret's controls. "Buh-bye."

    The Spartan squeezed the trigger and swept plasma across the column of brutes, spitting globs of searing blue across their armor and flesh. Metal melted and grass burned with white fire. The Chieftain fell last, still managing to stay on his feet despite half his face being immolated. The brute took a shaky step forward, before collapsing to the ground.

    Not a brute remained standing, as John hopped off the prowler. The grunts looked up as John stepped through platinum flames, arms folded across his chest.

    "...God. Burning jiralhanae smells awful. It's like burning hair and battery acid." The Spartan stepped forward. "So, how's it going?"
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    Bad John
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    Briefing Scramble

    Post  Bad John on May 19th 2016, 3:27 pm

    The Stonefree docked on the ground; Low Orbit, while safest on an unknown world, would be too risky. The Freelancer's combat unit was on full alert, several patrols outside. Construction erected tents, and sustainable, if impermanent, outdoor living areas once Dr. Oriai and her people had thoroughly tested the planet's atmosphere.

    At one such small, metal cabin, Dr. Bailey's Spartans convened to discuss a ground plan. Jorge and his cohorts gathered around, as a holographic projection of Bailey spoke up.

    "So, the unggoy are verifiable members of the Swords of Sangheilios. The way they put it, they're part of a small team dedicated to finding living Forerunner planets." Bailey listened as Sarah-B070 laid down the information. "They're supposed to observe and report, but their ship was shot down by a Jiralhanae vessel. They managed to eject, but their ship didn't make it. It's likely their matriarch is on planet, and that their S.O.S. made it to the..." Sarah took a beat for a moment. Realizing what she was going to say, Lucy loudly groaned. "SOS."

    It took Malea a moment to get the joke, but everyone else in attendance released a cacophany of sighs. Alma cursed under her breath. Diego seemed to enjoy the joke, laughing loudly. Malea, catching on, grinned. "Swords of Sangheilios."

    Sarah moved on, turning to Jorge and Bailey's hologram; they had the final say on strategy. "I suggest we locate the unggoy's Matriarch, and any more of the lost unggoy's allies. I think we all agree it's the right thing to do, morally speaking. Aside from that, their Matriarch is Dolta. Zimm has written a short report on her, and seems to be of high opinion."

    Zimm nodded, removing his skull faced helmet and shrugging in agreement. "She's got a good head on her shoulders. She's perceptive, trains and raises strong children, and is one of the few grunts authorized to act as a formal military leader. If any one of the unggoy here knows anything of worth about this rock, it'd be her."

    Bailey lifted a cup of coffee and sipped, turning towards Jorge, who stood with his helmet tucked under his armpit. The man rubbed his brow; the sound of gloved fingers against stubble, and the soft hum of a quickly rigged holo-communications unit were the only sounds for quite a bit.

    Finally, the Spartan II spoke up. "Well, I'm not against the matriarch. If Sarah and Zimm say it's wise to find her, I'm all for it. But, this planet's double the size of Earth, and has chasms and catacombs that stretch for miles. If the Matriarch is smart, she's hidden; perhaps so well that we may never find her. But, the brutes aren't very successful at hiding."

    "Because they're too bull headed to try." Alma interjected quickly, holding one of her knives up to the light. Her front-hand blade, Diatrypó, caught the sunlight in an appealing manner. "I say we start by addressing the main threat. Stomp out Comedus' forces on this planet. Then, she'll have no reason to hide, and we'll be able to take our time."

    John sighed as he cut in. "No, we won't. We don't know how long until the Guardian tracks us down, or until the Swords of Sangheilios arrive. I don't want the elites to show up, and for us to have nothing to show for it."

    Diego cut in on John, chortling as he sat on a crate and cleaned his SAW. "What's the worst that'll happen? They'll chew us out?"

    "I don't like it. Whenever you fuck something up, they get all huffy and shouty. It's like being surrounded by angry dads." John's reply was met with silence, hanging in the open air awkwardly. "Uh...Alma, you were saying something?"

    "WELL," Alma continued, sheathing her knife. "Even with time being a factor, Comedus may have taken the Matriarch prisoner. If we run some anti-Jiralhanae ops, we might find the Matriarch at one of their camps, or on their ship. If she has information, they may be keeping her alive."

    Nicole nodded, turning to Jorge and Bailey. "We have the operational capacity to run defense and patrols, and search for the unggoy's crash site at full force. We'll switch out Spartan Teams to hunt and destroy jiralhanae camps. Their minors don't seem to have power armor, so two Spartan teams should be sufficient."

    John put his helmet on, wiping the visor with his thumb and taking a seat on one of the metal crates. "Just like in Headhunters."

    The comment was met with a few nods, and a quiet "hell yeah" from Diego, who loaded a new drum of ammunition into his SAW.

    Jorge nodded. "But, I do have one thought. The Matriarch might have some working knowledge on this installation if she studied it long enough from orbit, but we do have someone who knows more."

    Samus immediately perked up. "The Engineer. Huragok have an encyclopedic knowledge of their installations."

    Bailey nodded. "I'll question him. Or her. Them. Right now, they're just fiddling around with anything on the ship they can get ahold of. I've asked them not to interfere with any tech integral to the ship's function, and they've been real nice about it."

    Suddenly, the hologram grew, and the purple-blue squid floated past Bailey, who failed to notice. The engineer left view as Bailey sipped her coffee, and drifted by holding a black, plastic machine with a pitcher; Bailey's coffee maker. As the Spartans watched with rapt interest, the huragok rapidly disassembled the machine, reaching out and grasping something off hologram; a battery. The huragok reassembled it, moved it out of sight, and took the former electrical chord off somewhere else.

    After the eight second event, Bailey looked behind her, none the wiser to the huragok's intrusion. "What?"

    "...Nothing." Sarah flatly stared at Bailey for a short while, then asked, "How's the coffee?"
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    Caverns, Part I

    Post  Bad John on May 31st 2016, 9:50 pm

    Author's Note wrote:Part I of a two part chapter. A short post with a little bit of exposition, before the action starts. Wanted to put it up before the battle commences.

    "These caverns are genuinely fascinating." Dr. Bailey looked around as the group moved across a descending walkway, surrounded by silver metal and whirring Forerunner constructors. The tiny, angular, pistol sized drones worked dilligently, seeking and repairing any dents or abbherations they could locate.

    Of course, Bailey was not alone. She was surrounded by a compliment of Freelancer soldiers; most were humans kitted with armor and firearms. Close to her was the comforting, nearly silent footsteps of three of her Spartans. Xifax was behind her and on her right, checking his submachine gun carefully. Samus walked in front of her, her exotic weapon latched to her back. She was the leader of the expedition, and fastideously logged every meter that thed group traveled under the ground. Last but not least, John trailed behind the group. A marksman rifle in hand, he was carefully watching for any signs of brute activity.

    Though John never qualified as a counter-sniper in the UNSC, he'd certainly been practicing his aim at longer ranges. As a Spartan-III, he could out-shoot any normal human, and had the advantage over most Spartan IVs, even when they wore armor. Such was the skill of an early generation Spartan. He hummed as he kept his weapon in an alert carry position, looking to and fro as he stayed not far behing the ten person group.

    Bailey scribbled notes as she looked around. "The Huragok said that this facility was built by Forerunner Lifeworkers. From what I understand, they preserved and cultivated all life throughout the galaxy; it explains the plentiful, edible vegetation."

    "I could go for one of those mango lookin' things right now." John quipped. One of the soldiers grunted in agreement.

    Xifax put his finger to the front of his helmet and looked back at John. "Shoosh. This is a research mission, not a field trip." John stuck his tongue out at Xifax, despite his polarized helmet hiding his face. "It stands to reason that the animals here are meant to be livestock; most of them seem fairly docile. We could probably stay here for years without trouble."

    "We'd have to kill those brutes first." John narrowed his eyes. "But then, a little housekeeping never hurt anybody. Am I right?"

    The soldiers produced a hardy "OH-RAH!" at that. Bailey cringed at the sound; she always hated the military standard "oh-rah," but that dogged positivity did produce results when she needed less hostiles around.

    Bailey continued. "But, the facility serves a dual purpose. There's apparently some sort of dormant life-form hidden somewhere on planet, where even the huragok doesn't know. Something called an HCP."

    Samus responded quickly. "His name is Idles Rather Quickly. And he mentioned it when I first met him. He referred to me as 'Bounty,' when asking if I was one of the HCPs."

    "Bounty? Did he think you had a price on your head or somethin'?" John figured it was incorrect, but he liked taking a shot in the dark once in a while. The Freelancer soldiers joined in with theories of their own.

    "Like the detergent?"

    "There's a grain manufacturer called Bounty somewhere in Lister."

    "Maybe he meant 'nature's bounty.' Samus is pretty stacked."

    Samus turned and elbowed the Marine who made the last comment, giving him a dead arm. He stumbled a few steps and said "ow," and that shut everyone else up. When they were quiet, Samus continued with her theory.

    "If you feckless scatter-brains are done, I think he's referring to creatures that are in extended stasis. He mentioned that there are four in total; Life, Bounty, Peace, and Health. He didn't have any other information; he didn't even know what species they were, just that one resembled me in terms of build."

    At that, John got deathly serious. "Could be live Forerunners, but the Didact was twice our size and change."

    Bailey went pale at the notion; she was privy on what happened in New Phoenix, and a repeat of that fiasco terrified her. "We don't need to assume that the HCPs are hostile. If they're Samus's size, they may be Lifeworkers."

    "That'd be nice." Xifax latched his M20 to his hip, folding his arms. "We'd be the first to find live Forerunners who aren't trying to kill us."

    One of the Freelancer soldiers groaned loudly, rolling her head back. "Ugh. Come ooooon. This whole ancient alien thing makes my head spin."

    John smirked, welcoming the challenge. "Well, you should be excited. If they come out swinging like the Didact did, we can crack their heads together. Am I right people?"

    "OH-RAH!"

    "Damn right!"

    "You said it, root-beer guy!"

    John's demeanor took a very quick turn when he heard the last comment. "Who said that?! For the last time, stop fucking calling me root-beer guy!" There were assorted laughs and snickers. "My armor is coffee colored, dammit!"


    Last edited by Bad John on June 1st 2016, 12:46 am; edited 1 time in total
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    Bad John
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    Re: Metal and Mettle.

    Post  Bad John on May 31st 2016, 9:53 pm

    The inspiration behind the marines constantly calling the beleaguered John-B069 "Root-Beer Guy."



    As much as the Freelancers like John, this is how they see him in a non-combat situation.
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    Bad John
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    Caverns, Part II

    Post  Bad John on June 6th 2016, 1:26 am

    Boots softly tromped along as the exploration party continued into the chasm, going further down as Samus mapped out the depths of the planetoid. As expected, it was far from a natural formation; like Requiem, and like Samus's short thesis on the subject, the planet was made of a steel lattice of load bearing, flexible, constantly adjusting beams that were connected in a manner so intricate that the planet could likely compress and grow as the Lifeworkers required. Untouched, save for the ravages of time, the caverns were spotlessly clean. The only intruders, besides the human research party, were strange bats and wayward birds, which the constructors constantly chased and ousted through small tubes in the cavern walls.

    However, the humans were about to learn that they weren't alone.

    Samus noticed something amiss when she heard a thick boot-heel touch the floor. She turned, and her sudden shift alerted John, who readied his weapon. Xifax and the Freelancer soldiers were too busy watching over Bailey to notice.

    "No panels." Bailey huffed as she came to a platform. "We'll have to ask Idles if he can give us the location of something we can actually interact with." Bailey turned towards Samus, who's eyes were darting around, searching for the source of the noise she'd heard. "What do you think we should call the engineer? Idles? Rather? Quickly? Maybe IRQ?"

    John spoke up. "Form a perimeter around the doctor now. Doc, get your head down." He lifted his DMR to his shoulder and searched. Samus and Xifax raised their weapons. The Freelancers, familiar with the tone of his voice, did as the Spartan said without delay.

    The Brutes were on them before they could find a target.

    With a massive impact, a brute with active camouflage landed in the midst of the Freelancer soldiers. With a swing of his meaty arm, he bashed one of the soldiers on the arm, breaking the man's shoulder and bending his assault rifle in half. The brute Stalker drew a red plasma rifle, turning it on Doctor Bailey. Xifax came to her rescue in a heartbeat. He dipped low and came up with an elbow strike to the rib-cage, doubling the brute back. The jiralhanae's active camo unit faltered, but he rose up against Xifax, claws borne. Xifax emptied a quarter of his clip into the brute, who stumbled back, falling off the walkway.

    The stricken Freelancer cried out, voice weak as he clutched his broken shoulder. The Freelancers closed ranks around the wounded man, as Xifax turned to Bailey. Before she could speak, he picked her up onto his shoulders. "Wait!" Bailey barked at the side of his helmet. "You can't fight with me on your back!"

    "John and Samus will handle it." Xifax easily hefted her as more brutes arrived.

    "Check your motion trackers!" John shouted. "Activate your visors and call out targets! If one gets close, point it out!"

    The Freelancers acquired targets, and opened fire in every direction. The brutes had been well hidden, some on distant walkways, some on the very platforms that the exploring party meant to visit.

    Samus quickly raised her grenade launcher, switching to its plasma spitting cartridge. She squeezed off five shots, and downed four brutes. Their camo units failed as they fell into the black chasm below, constructors busily following their bodies and mending bullet dents in the walls, and plasma burns. The brutes returned fire.

    John ducked under a spike round, returning fire and braining the brute who'd tried to shoot him. Xifax activated his hard-light shield and bounced a few plasma bolts and superheated spikes safely away from the Doctor. One of the Freelancer soldiers fell, her leg singed by a plasma round. She was quickly pulled to the center of the formation for protection.

    "Domed shield out!" The leader of the Freelancer unit shouted the warning. "Check your fire!" He drew a large tripod with a spherical apparatus on top, and slapped it on the ground. The soldiers held their fire as a domed shield activated, protecting the full unit, along with Xifax, who was at its center.

    It went without saying that the mission was scrubbed. With so many brutes surrounding them, even with John and Samus thinning their numbers, it was far too dangerous to continue with Bailey in tow. "We're going mobile! Ready?" The fireteam leader lifted the bubble shield, and started to slowly move with it. He had nineteen minutes of charge in his pack; that was ninteen minutes of safety from enemy fire. John and Samus would clear the way and protect them from close attackers, while they worked their way towards the EVAC zone.

    The Freelancers carefully picked up their wounded. The man with the broken arm had passed out from pain; fortunately the team's explosives expert hefted him onto his shoulders. The woman with the singed leg was awake, but fading; she kept her mouth shut, refusing to scream for the brute's amusement. Clutching her burned calf, one of the men picked her up, and she dipped into unconsciousness.

    "We're going mobile! Keep up!" The leader began a hurried march uphill along the slick walkway. The brutes fired in vain at the bubble, their ammunition bouncing off of the shield.

    John and Samus busily plugged away at the enemy from afar. As John's clip ran dry, he drew his pistol and fired upwards, braining yet another brute. Their active camo consumed too much energy for them to carry shields, apparently. That worked for John nicely. The Spartan did, however, notice when one of the brutes leapt, landing on the walkway not far from the defensive bubble.

    With little time to spare, John sprinted towards the brute, who threw aside a plasma rifle, charging the bubble. Despite its ability to deflect weapons fire, the brute could pass through it. Xifax would be a sitting duck with Bailey on his shoulders, and the Freelancer soldiers, unable to shoot the bastard, might not last long; even if someone landed a shot, the brute would likely gore one of them first.

    John threw himself on the brute, rapping his arms around the jiralhanae's waist and tackling him away from the bubble. Despite his active camo unit, John could see him perfectly; the telltale shimmer, coupled by his visor's red outline, made it perfectly clear what he was dealing with. The two rolled for a moment, before John was tossed off.

    The brute Stalker raised both fists to strike the Spartan. John moved in close, and sidestepped a wild, doublefisted swing. He jumped and planted his knee in the jiralhanae's temple, jarring the brute's senses. As the Stalker turned to fight back, John landed a powerful punch on the brute's shoulder, seperating the brute's arm from the socket. As the beast stumbled past John, Samus tagged the brute with a plasma round to the back of the head.

    More brutes landed on the platform. Samus nailed two out of three, and the third approached the bubble, mere inches from getting inside. One of the soldiers aimed a rifle, ready to fight to the death, but it was unnecessary. John caught the brute in a headlock, tilting the Stalker back and twisting his neck. The brute's neck broke with a gruesome pop, and John shoved the body aside. Drawing his pistol, he continued to wage bloody war with the brutes who were uphill from him.

    Soon, a brute with no camouflage landed in front of the bubble. A brute in heavy, black armor, sporting a blocky, black hammer.

    Comedus. John's heart skipped a beat as the Chieftain turned his eyes towards the bubble; the marines were prepared to fight, but they stood zero chance.

    "JOHN!" Xifax's voice jarred John; the Spartan threw something John's way. A hardlight shield module. John caught it, and started sprinting. Comedus was already charging towards Bailey, Xifax, and the marines; the brute chortled with each step, as if he were preparing to tell a particularly cringeworthy dad joke.

    John latched the hardlight shield module to the small of his back as he ran, keeping his guns holstered. A prompt came at the corner of his HUD, as the Spartan's armor adjusted to the additional hardware. Hardlight Aegis Available For Use.

    Comedus raised his hammer, but collided with a transparent blue shield as John activated it in his way. The weight of the Chieftain bent the Spartan III's knees, but he straightened them and ground his boots against the floor, managing to shove the Chieftain backwards a few feet. "And the award for best use of a shield in a supporting role goes to John-B069!" The Spartan grinned as he pushed the shield forward and up, grinding the edge against Comedeus's chin. "I'll hold for the applause."

    Comedus grimaced, stepping back. The Spartan, disbalanced, stumbled forward but kept the shield high. The Chieftain rammed his fist into the shield hard, but John held his ground. The brute surged forward, pounding his shoulder against the shield. John braced himself, but was being shoved backwards. The freelancer's bubble was already nearly at the exit; John had bought all the time they needed to escape.

    Samus was busying herself with the surrounding brutes. She fired her cannon, taking the head off of another brute Stalker. She lowered her weapon; she was out of plasma, and she couldn't risk the explosives. The brutes returned fire on her, and she ducked out of the way. A plasma shot caught her on the shoulder, but her shields held, dropped to 75%. She drew her pistol and fired, striking one of the brutes above the lip and painting brains on the wall.

    "BROTHERS!" Comedus barked powerfully as he turned, kicking John's shield and dissipating it. The Spartan III tumbled a few feet before getting to his feet, back to back with Samus. "Put away your firearms, and draw your blades, clubs, and claws! We finish these Demons in the only befitting way! The old way!"

    Samus turned towards John, whispering to him as brutes landed on the platform alongside Comedus. They readied their weapons to rip and tear as the Spartans rallied. "How much ammo you got?"

    "DMR's empty. SMG's still got two clips, but my pistol's dry." John raised his fists, bouncing on his toes. "It's about two dozen on one, right? I think we can take 'em."

    "Don't try to win. Just play for time and make a hole so we can escape. Taking down Comedus isn't worth it, if it's your life for his." Samus had a damn good point; The Freelancers would take a heavy morale hit if either Spartan died fighting Comedus. Putting it all on the line would be dangerous.

    But some Spartans like danger.
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    Re: Metal and Mettle.

    Post  Bad John on June 16th 2016, 10:35 pm

    John always remembered the feeling of biting off more than he could chew; he felt that way the moment Comedus stepped toe to toe with him. The Spartan sidestepped as the brute swung his claws. A powerful swipe passed his visor as he ducked under it. The brute jabbed his elbow, and the Spartan III ducked low. As the Chieftain turned to square up with him, John swung his leg hard. The blow swept one of Comedus' legs. When the brute tried to strike, John got close beside him, barring one of the brute's arms.

    The Spartan unlatched his submachine gun and swung it, striking the brute over the head. Comedus was stunned briefly by the blow, allowing John to point it directly in the Chieftain's face. Let's see how he likes a full clip of whatnot right in his fucking dome. John squeezed the trigger, and didn't let up. Bullets bounced off of the brute's face mask, but the impact of the spray turned Comedus' head. Although John's SMG had a slower rate of fire, it made up for it with impact; that, and it was still a bullet hose by any definition. Comedus winced in pain as round after round struck the side of his head.

    "POINT BLANK, SHITHEAD!!!" John screamed the words at the brute, but he could tell the Chieftain would survive. Suddenly, the Chieftain's hand retracted, then jabbed forward, grasping John by the throat. The brute picked John up and threw him; the Spartan tumbled end over end, coming to the edge of the walkway. John caught himself, dangling over the ledge by one hand. Before he could pull himself up, Comedus was standing over him. The Chieftain laughed as he pistoned his leg down, attempting to stomp the Spartan off the ledge. John let go, avoided the strike, and caught hold of the Chieftain's leg.

    Using the leg as leverage, John swung under the platform, and placed his boots on the bottom of it, tugging hard and sending Comedus plummeting off. Unfortunately, under the platform and with nothing to hold onto, John fell as well. The two fell hard. Comedus landed face flat; John fired his thrusters, righting himself and landing on his feet.

    The Spartan III looked up, searching for his teammate. "SAMUS! Are you alright!"

    The answer came after a dull impact; a brute fell from the walkway Samus stood on. "I'm fine! Focus on your fight!" John turned, realizing that he'd wasted too much time. Comedus was on his feet, recovered from the fight. John sighed, and lifted his fists.

    "Admirable resistance, Demon." The jiralhanae grinned broadly, releasing a long, dark laugh. "I think I'll make sport with your mask."

    John paced, loosening himself up. He looked almost casual; this was an affectation of course. In reality, his heart was pounding. "C'mon then. See if you can take it, Magilla."

    The brute, despite not understanding the 1960s cartoon reference (not even John himself fully understood it), charged headlong towards the Spartan, arms low and shoulders down. Comedus scraped a claw against the floor, then broke into an outright four legged gait like a ravening boar. The Spartan stepped back, and when Comedus leapt for him, John darted to the side, avoiding a blow that shook the ground. Comedus turned and swung a wild haymaker, but John ducked under it, sharpening his hand and swinging a powerful chop into Comedus' face. The blow turned the jiralhanae's head, but did no appreciable damage other than leaving a dent on his mask.

    Comedus laughed and swung a clawed hand around. The Spartan avoided the strike carefully. Blows reigned as the Spartan narrowly avoided each, losing ground quickly. John felt his heel idle over the edge of the bridge, and quickly weaved under the Chieftain's arm to get away. Comedus made a grab for him, but failed to catch hold as his claws scraped off the Spartan's shielding. John turned, jumped, and threw a side kick, hoping to knock Comedus over the edge.

    The blow struck solidly, but the brute wouldn't fall. Holding his ground, be brought up his knee and knocked the Spartan off kilter. John landed, rolled and got to his feet; he didn't move fast enough to avoid Comedus' claw. The blow broke John's shield and left a deep scratch in his armor. John tumbled, but got his feet under him, standing up.

    Comedus caught the Spartan by the throat, lifting him off his feet. Before the brute could land a blow, John's fist shot forward and nailed him in the visor. To John's surprise, he felt a strange, sickening pop through his armor as his knuckles connected; he'd blinded Comedus' right eyeball. As John touched the ground, he burst forward, and thrust his knee. John couldn't feel the damage underneath Comedus' visor, but the jiralhanae's scream told a gruesome tale.

    John and Comedus fell forward, Chieftain landing on his back, and Spartan rolling over his shoulder, coming up behind Comedus.  The brute stood, and John darted to the right, staying in the Chieftain's fresh blind spot. He threw a round kick into the brute's ribs, and the blow winded the brute. As Comedus turned, John stayed on the Chieftain's right side, tagging him with an elbow to the side of the head; the blow aggravated Comedus' wound. John turned and thrust his boot into the Chieftain's armpit, stunning Comedus and sending him toppling onto his side.

    Victory was just moments away. John jumped onto the brute's chest, and reigned blows with his fists and elbows. Comedus grasped at him, but John repelled his weakened arms and continued to beat Comedus like a sandbag.

    Suddenly, the brute's hand snaked around, grasped the back of John's helmet, and yanked. John was taken off balance, and Comedus nailed him in the face with a straight punch. The blow knocked the Spartan clean off, sending him reeling backwards. His visor held, but the force wrung blood from the Spartan's nose. Comedus stood, grasped the Spartan-III by the chest, and yanked off his helmet.

    Comedus' face was a horror show. The eyeball was dripping blood, and his full beard was drenched with the stuff. He was covered in bruises from John's assault, but grinned ear to ear, displaying razor sharp teeth. Leaning forward, Comedus prepared to bite the Spartan's neck. John jerked, and Comedus sank his teeth into the Spartan's shoulder instead. His armor held, but as Comedus pulled his head back, John's arm was pulled from the socket.

    "OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWCH!" John howled in pain, and swung his elbow repeatedly into Comedus chest. The brute's face grew bloodier and bloodier.

    The Chieftain laughed, and took a big step forward. John felt weightless for a moment, before realizing that the brute was walking the two of them off the bridge.

    "Sam Sam SAM SAM SAM!!!" As John barked for help, Comedus wrapped his arms around the Spartan. The two plummeted for meters into the dark, as John thrashed. He lit his thrusters, burning the Chieftain's arm, but the brute tightened his grip, still laughing.

    Suddenly, John saw a blue light over Comedus shoulder as the two fell farther and farther down. For a moment, John thought it was the light at the end of the tunnel. He shut his eyes, wondering if death had already come.

    Fortunately, John's luck hadn't given out. There was a massive shock, knocking the breath from his lungs. He opened his eyes and saw Samus. Her thrusters like four blue, glowing wings, she flew down after them, aiming her Hydra missile launcher. She fired again, and struck Comedus on the back.

    That second shot killed him. John felt the brute's arms loosen. The Spartan pushed off of the Chieftain, and lit his thrusters, attempting to slow his fall. He was only sixty meters from rock bottom; not much time to slow down.

    "SAMUS! Sixty meters! SLOW DOWN!" He shouted to Sam, who turned in midair and lit her thrusters. Still, she plummeted far too fast. She'd sped down to kill Comedus and save her brother, and had overcommitted. She was going to die on impact, no matter what she did.

    "Tell Nicole I'm sorry."

    Those words sent a cold chill up John's spine. Samus was no longer trying to slow her descent; she had resigned.

    But John hadn't. He slowed his fall, and as Samus careened towards him, he caught her under the arms, her speed weighing him down. "JOHN! What are you-"

    John fired his thrusters. He'd slowed her down a bit; they weren't falling as quick, but it would still be a bad fall.

    Fortunately for Samus, she now had a coffee colored airbag. John shut his eyes, and prepared for the impact.

    When they hit the ground, Samus's gauntlet and visor cracked. She rolled off of John, who didn't move an inch after striking the thick, mossy dirt. There was a noisey, static filled pop; John's thrusters were flattened. His visor had a long, spiderweb break in the center. He looked like a sports-car that had been through a riot, a cinder-block flung into his windshield.

    Samus stood, then jumped when she heard another massive thump. Comedus' body landed face down, and his body crumpled in what could only be described as a pile. That was a confirmed kill for certain. Rushing to John's side, she evaluated him, praying that the Spartan was still breathing.

    Even better. John lifted his hand, gave a raspy laugh, and a thumbs up. He was in very bad condition, but he'd survived. Samus wrapped an arm around him and hoisted the battered Spartan-III up.

    "...Hey Sam." John wheezed the words as Samus supported him, the two walking away from Comedus' body. "What'd you want me to tell Nicole again?"

    "That we're even, idiot." Samus flicked John's visor. "Pull a stunt like that again, and I'll throw you into a deeper hole."

    "Hah hah haaaaaaaaaaaaah." The Spartan-III pulled off his helmet. One of his eyes had a burst vessel, and his teeth were stained red with blood, but he was still grinning like a fool. His archenemy was dead, and he lived long enough to laugh about it.

    After a long silence, filled only by armored footfalls, Samus spoke.

    "John?"

    "Yeah?"

    "Thanks."

    "You did the same for me, didn't ya?"

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    Re: Metal and Mettle.

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