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Doctor Jensen

Doctor Jensen

5/16/2012 1:37:09 AM
[quote]A work in progress. I hope you all enjoy. As always, comments are appreciated, as well as constructive criticism.[/quote] [b][u]Prologue[/u][/b] [i]April 2nd, 2552 1603 hours-military calendar[/i] Location: [i]New Virginia[/i] The image of the setting sun in the distance was soon enveloped by an expanding purple balloon of plasma, reaching out and crushing all within its five mile diameter. Several seconds later a shock wave swept throughout the green valley in which the UNSC had been stationed. Moroni, Spartan B-079, braced himself against the bunker on the fringe of New Gettysburg. The shock wave tore through the city with tremendous force causing it to shake violently. Rubble from the skyscrapers next to the bunker showered down upon it. Moroni's body shuddered as the rubble struck the reinforced bunker and exploded into a thousand tiny rocks. He glanced over at his four Spartan squadmates. He had known each of them since their conscription into the Spartan III program and since they had been picked out of Beta company he had gotten to know them on a personal level. To Moroni's left stood Mafua, Spartan B-304, who at the age of four had been one of those kids that could naturally draw you in with his natural charm and jocular personality. Throughout Beta company's training he had been a source of relief for all of them. However, after the grueling training they had endured for years and the constant, bloody, missions he was not the same. Having been the comedian for many long years the big islander seemed to have lost his spark for comedy. Perhaps he had even lost his spark for life, but if he had... well he didn't show it. By the time the four of them were hunkered down together Mafua had become a shell of his former self. Next to Mafua stood Bryan, Spartan B004. He was the toughest son of a gun that Moroni had met in his entire life. They had met when they were young, while they were still training, but the two of them had never been close friends by any means. In fact they had been in brawls with each other many a time. However, after they had been pulled from Beta and had formed into [i]Zulu team[/i] Moroni had learned that he was not as bad a guy as he had previously thought. Sure he had been rough around the edges but he was a respectable soldier, a respectable man. Spartan B105, Marcus, stood to the right of Moroni. The two of them had come a long way since their early training days. When they first began the two of them had been paired up into a team for the rest of training and all of their operations. They had continued working op after op until they became the closest of friends. Marcus, always the silent type, was a crack-shot with the sniper rifle. If Moroni had to choose one of the Spartans in the squad to watch his back with a sniper Moroni would have chosen Marcus. The reason for that was simple: in several of their ops Marcus had saved his life because of fatal errors on Moroni's part. Thereafter their bond of friendship had increase exponentially. Moroni still felt like he owed his comrade a lot. Directly in front of him stood the fair haired beauty Allison, Spartan B009. Moroni was closer with only one person than with Marcus, and that happened to be Allie. They'd become close friends in their time together, closer than anyone in the squad. He had grown up with her, he had trained with her, and he had accompanied her on several operations. Many a time they had stayed up until the early hours of the morning as they tried to get to know each other and as they talked about their operations. Through all this Moroni had developed affectionate feelings for Allie. He preferred her company over anyone else's, even his good friend Marcus. Yet he couldn't tell her. It wasn't that he didn't want to tell her - he yearned to tell her- it was that he couldn't. Moroni was the squad leader, and to have a relationship with someone within his squad was unprofessional. So he tried to maintain a professional relationship with her... even if it hurt him. "Sir," began Bryan. Moroni glanced at the Spartan decked out in the Military Police MJOLNIR armor variant, "what in the hell was that?" Peering out of a slot in the bunker Moroni looked westward towards what looked like a plasma explosion. What had once been the flourishing city of Antilles was now replaced by a hot, barren, transparent stretch of glass. ODST teams Victor through Xray and an entire battalion of marines had been stationed under the command of Commander Fitzpatrick. Now all of them -at least Moroni [i]assumed[/i] all of them- had been vaporized by whatever-the-hell the Covenant had employed against them. Seeing as they hadn't seen a Covenant ship in that direction it was only logical to conclude that it had [i]not[/i] been a plasma bombardment. That left only one logical conclusion. Moroni opened his mouth to voice this conclusion but Allie beat him to the chase. "A bomb," she said in her sing-songy voice. She flinched at her own words and it looked as if her breath had been taken away. Bryan tilted his head slightly. "A bomb?" he asked, his voice flat. "Apparently so," Moroni said, lost in thought. Bryan shook his head, but not in disagreement. "They have never employed the usage of bombs against the UNSC before, Moroni. Why now?" For a moment there was an eerie silence. They each carefully considered; in a situation like this though it was difficult for them to predict the intentions of the Covenant. "Perhaps," Marcus suggested hesitantly, "perhaps they were looking for something. Maybe they found it and took it, eradicating Antilles in the process, or perhaps they didn't find it and the outcome was still the same." "I doubt they found it," said Allie. "There'd be no reason to destroy the city with a bomb" "Not if they found what they were looking for," Marcus told her. Mafua shifted uncomfortably. A slight tremor reverberated throughout the makeshift bunker. "What could they find here?" Mafua asked in his naturally deep voice as he braced his large hand against the wall. Moroni shrugged casually his armor bobbing up and down. "I don't know," he admitted. Turning to Marcus he asked, "Have the Covenant ever been recorded taking an interest in one of our cities?" Marcus held up a finger as he searched the database built into his armor. They waited for a moment. "Not recorded. That's not what I think though," Marcus stated. "What do [i]you[/i] think?" Moroni asked. "Based on the post battle reports I'd say they're interested in most every planet they've bothered to land troops on." Moroni nodded. "Then they're here for [i]something[/i]," Allie stated. Silenty the Spartans glanced at each other. They were all thinking it. [i]What the hell were the covenant on New Virginia for?[/i] Only Bryan chose to voice it. "Then... why?" asked Bryan, throwing out the question like a dagger. He tapped the seals on his helmet and tugged it off. His unkempt brown hair, an inch longer than regulation, poofed out from his head. In what seemed to be a gesture signifying he was stumped Bryan scratched his scalp. His other hand loosely held onto his collar. Moroni subtly looked at his other squadmates. They appeared to be deep in thought; Allie's arms were crossed over her chest and her chin tucked was into her neck. Mafua's hand was placed on the grip of his M6K pistol in a subtle sign of frustration. Bryan's confused expression confirmed the impression Moroni had gotten from him earlier. Though Moroni couldn't see his face hidden behind the visor of his scout helmet, he knew that Marcus was deep in thought. Only speaking when it truly mattered Marcus tended to get caught up in the actions of others; he was a man of few words, preferring to let his actions speak for him. And they did. A sudden tremor tore through the ground, shaking the bunker with such violence that the four Spartans braced their bodies against the walls of the bunker. Moroni slid along the wall towards the viewing slot on the north wall. Upon reaching it he peered out into the increasingly darkening skies. [i]It's much to dark. What happened?[/i] In answer to his thoughts a thunderous clap filled his ears -which was immediately filtered out by his sound filters- and a streak of lighting arced across the sky. The beginnings of a portal five miles to the north could be seen from Moroni's position. [i]Slipspace rupture[/i]. The portal expanded rapidly and from it emerged the bulbous hull of a Covenant Carrier. "Crap," muttered Moroni as he tried to raise a channel to HIGHCOM. Static erupted from his comm link. [i]This is just what we need.[/i] "Slipspace transition!" he yelled after switching his comm to the team's channel. "Let's get out of here! Bryan, helmet on. The rest of you, ready your weapons and expect enemy resistance at any time." Immediately after the tremors beneath them began to recede and the Spartans were moving. Pulling his MA5B assault rifle from the magnetic holder on his back Moroni checked the ammo counter; the clip was full. He ejected the clip to confirm it visually and felt a sense gratification when he slammed it home. The others followed suit. That didn't surprise him, they had been trained since "boot" to trust their eyes over technology. He pushed past the four Spartans as he moved to the exit hatch. Gripping the release hatch he glanced over at his team. Bryan had secured his helmet, the rest sat patiently with their weapons at the ready. [Edited on 05.17.2012 10:16 PM PDT]

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  • S p h 1 n X O 7
  • OftheBloodguard
  • Doctor Jensen

    Doctor Jensen

    6/18/2012 7:32:43 PM Permalink
    Another update. Sorry it's taking so long, just editing chapter one. Coming soon. Thanks for reading and for your patience.
  • Doctor Jensen

    Doctor Jensen

    5/25/2012 6:23:36 AM Permalink
    Just an update on chapter 1: I've currently finished writing the first chapter and am now in the process of editing it. It should be released rather soon. -Doctor Jensen
  • SemiproMocha3
  • Doctor Jensen

    Doctor Jensen

    5/19/2012 3:39:54 AM Permalink
    Thanks Sphinx. Means a lot. Next chapter is being worked out. Thanks for all of your patience.
  • S p h 1 n X O 7

    S p h 1 n X O 7

    5/18/2012 3:24:24 AM Permalink
    I'm a new reader! Good work Jensen! Love how it is ATM. [Edited on 05.17.2012 7:24 PM PDT]
  • SemiproMocha3

    SemiproMocha3

    5/18/2012 1:39:04 AM Permalink
    Well this is the first time i've seen this, but i'll start reading it when i can, i like your other work too.
  • Doctor Jensen

    Doctor Jensen

    5/18/2012 1:31:28 AM Permalink
    You guys are the only ones that have said anything, though I suppose that's not a big deal. [Edited on 05.17.2012 5:50 PM PDT]
  • OftheBloodguard

    OftheBloodguard

    5/17/2012 8:14:55 AM Permalink
    I can say I know that feel, man. Good to see this in the light of the public. Hope everyone likes as much as me and Spartan, breh.
  • Doctor Jensen

    Doctor Jensen

    5/16/2012 2:09:59 AM Permalink
    I'm actually fairly close to finishing the first chapter, I just don't want to release it too fast.
  • Manny

    Manny

    5/16/2012 2:07:42 AM Permalink
    You know after seeing this for the fourth time... It's still good. However you are going to make us wait a long time for the next update won't you? I know that feel bro... I know that feel.
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  • Doctor Jensen

    Doctor Jensen

    5/16/2012 1:40:12 AM Permalink
    "Good," was all Moroni said as he started the crawl back to the opening. It took him a moment to do so, but he made it. He stood tall and sprinted up the stairs. Into and down the hallway he ran, urgently trying to make his way back to his comrades. At the end of the hall he encountered Bryan with his helmet on. Moroni informed him of the situation and told him to stay with Marcus. Once Bryan acknowledged his order Moroni was bounding down the stairs to inform the rest of the squad of their predicament. His speedy descent mirrored the urgency of their predicament. He ran with purpose, allowing nothing to hinder his progress. The leader of Team Zulu had a team to think about. He wouldn't allow the Covenant, much less [i]themselves[/i], to hinder their progress. They couldn't fail, or the consequences could potentially be very high. [i]No,[/i] he thought, [i]we won't fail.[/i] [quote]So there ya have it. This is the beginning of my fan fiction which I'm not working on a ton right now because school is ending, but I am working on it. I hope you appreciated the prologue. Feel free to comment. Thanks, Doctor Jensen, MD[/quote] [Edited on 05.15.2012 5:40 PM PDT]
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  • Doctor Jensen

    Doctor Jensen

    5/16/2012 1:38:16 AM Permalink
    Not knowing how to respond, Moroni simply nodded, the corners of his mouth lifting into a slight smile. Looking down he suddenly found himself very interested in his experimental Mk V helmet; this was more of a distraction, a means of keeping his eyes from making contact with Allie's eyes. He felt like a fool for not being able to respond; his mind had numbed and disallowed him from thinking. [i]Damn,[/i] he thought, [i]Thought I'd gotten control of this... issue.[/i] Moroni realized that, being the squad leader, he should be taking command and make sure they were getting ready for anything. In a swift movement he put his helmet back on his head and sealed it. "We need to barricade the entrance," he observed. "But we need to do so lightly so we'll have an exit," he said hoarsely while running a hand through his auburn hair. "We don't want to be caught off guard if the Covenant happens to be sweeping the city." Allied nodded, attached her MA5K to its magnetic holder, and walked over to the couch. Moroni attached his MA5B to its magnetic holder and walked around the desk to move it. Slowly he crouched into a stance that would enable him to move it effectively. With his augmented muscles such a task was menial and he was able to shift the desk in front of the door in a matter of seconds. He looked over at Allie, who was shifting the couch effortlessly towards the door. In a matter of seconds the couch was piled atop the silver desk. Moroni never ceased to be amazed her graceful movements. It was almost mesmerizing. "Nice work," Moroni grunted. "Now make su-" he was cut off by the [i]tap-tap-tap[/i] of someone descending the stairs. He pulled his MA5B from its holder and wheeled around to take aim at the stairwell door. Next to him Allie put on her helmet and leveled her MA5K. "Think it's Bryan?" she asked. Moroni nodded. "We'll see," he stated as his finger hovered in front of the trigger. The stairwell door squeaked loudly as it swung open. From it emerged the familiar armor clad Spartan Bryan. Moroni relaxed and lowered his weapon. Bryan was almost assuredly down their to give him his report on their situation. Bryan bounded over to him in less than five strides. He saluted in the most nonchalant way possible. "Moroni, sir, you need to see this. That Covenant carrier you asked us to track? It's parked in the northeast quadrant of New Gettysburg near Mount Cyna. They're dropping a -blam!- load of troops also, which look to be setting up a headquarters of sorts." Moroni tilted his head and fiddled with his gun in thought. He furrowed his brow in confusion. "They're setting a headquarters here?" Moroni asked. Bryan nodded in response. Turning to Allie, Moroni said, "Stay here; watch the entrance and wait for Mafua to get back. When he, does inform him of the situation and prep yourselves for combat." "Understood," Allie stated. "Good." Moroni looked back at Bryan. "Lead on." Bryan nodded, turned, and sprinted towards the stairwell door. It was then that Moroni realized that the situation was much more urgent than he had originally taken it to be. With that thought in his mind, he followed his squad mate and together they began to traverse the stairs. Not but five minutes later they had ascended fifteen stories. As they reached the door to the door to the fifteenth floor Bryan glanced back at Moroni. "Marcus is stationed in the lecture room at the end of the hall. He should be lying underneath the raised platform at the bottom of the stairs right next to the observation window," said Bryan. Bryan led him out of the stairwell into the hallway and pointed at a room at the far end of the hallway. "He's in there?" Moroni asked. "Have I ever misled you?" Bryan asked. Moroni chuckled. "Well..." he began. Bryan held up his index finger. "Boot doesn't count." Moroni laughed once more. "Guess you're right. Either way, I'm going to see what the situation is. Stay frost," Moroni said. With that he strode past Bryan and towards the end of the narrow, dimly lit hallway. As he walked he noticed the walls were covered in pictures and quotes. [i]Inspirational quotes perhaps?[/i] he thought, not bothering to actually take the time to observe what they said. Quite honestly he didn't have the luxury of time. [i]Perhaps another time.[/i] After approximately thirty seconds of walking, he found himself at the entrance to the "Lecture room" as Bryan had called it. It certainly looked like a room in which lectures would have been given. The room was shaped like a cylinder, with rows of soft chairs that extended down to a platform raised three feet off of the ground. Along side the seating area two rows of stairs stretched down to the platformed area. The walls were colored a dim blue and gave the room the room an eerie feel to it when the lights weren't alight. Moroni inhaled deeply and descended the flight of stairs rather quickly. [i]Now where'd Bryan say Marcus was stationed?[/i] He looked around, then towards the raised platform. Two long strips of wood kept it standing. [i]Right, Marcus is underneath the platform,[/i] he thought to himself. He crouched and examined the opening; it was clearly large enough for a fully armored Spartan III to maneuver in. Shrugging to himself Moroni laid on his stomach and crawled into the dark space underneath the platform. His visor automatically brightened as it adjusted to the lack of light. At the end of the tunnel he could see Marcus shifting his position as he observed the Covenant. Moroni crawled towards his position until laid next to the Spartan. "Sitrep?" Moroni asked, not bothering to voice greetings to his good friend; he knew that the Spartan, with his advanced hearing, had already heard him. Marcus had the ears of a fox. "Covenant forces are gathering at the fringe of northeastern New Gettysburg near the base of Mount Cyna. Few minutes after I sent Bryan to retrieve you they began to drop some form of digging equipment." "Digging equipment? Where's it headed?" Moroni asked, feeling a sense of dread. Were the Covenant setting up a dig operation then the Spartans would need to sabotage it. "I had lost them for a minute behind the various structures, but, like I said, I found them heading towards Mount Cyna. Looks like they're setting up shop there." "Are they excavating from the mountain?" Moroni asked. His heart began to pound against his chest rapidly. The mission would be complicated by Marcus's answer. Marcus took a moment to stare at Moroni before looking back into the scope. "Like I said, they're just setting up equipment. I don't know whether or not they're excavating anything from Mount Cyna," he said. "Alright, keep watching them. I'm now authorizing the use of the squad channel. Make sure that as soon as they start digging you contact me. Encrypt you channel; encryption key bravo. I'll give the same instructions to the rest of the squad," said Moroni. Marcus simply nodded. "Troop strengths?" Moroni asked. "By my count I would say approximately four thousand infantry. In addition, the carrier dropped four Wraith tanks, eight Revenants, and two dozen Ghost light assault vehicles." Moroni put his tongue against his cheek in thought. Certainly a carrier could deploy more than four thousand troops; that meant the Spartans could easily be overwhelmed by troops. [i]Count yourself lucky that they haven't found you,[/i] he told himself. It was a reassuring thought to think the Covenant forces hadn't discovered them yet. Even if it had been less than twenty minutes. He voiced this to Marcus. "Seems like they'd have a lot of extra troops penned up within the carrier, yes," said Marcus who was still observing Covenant troop movements through his scope. Moroni had a sudden thought. "Banshees. Did they deploy Banshees?" Marcus shook his head no. Moroni sighed in relief; banshees were a nuisance that they couldn't afford to worry about. That was a nice break. He looked at the carrier in the distance for a brief moment, then started crawling backwards. He paused. "Anything else to report?" he inquired. "No. Other than what I've already told-" Marcus suddenly stopped speaking and looked more intently into the scope of his sniper. "Wait. Looks like a couple of infantry squads are breaking off from the headquarters. I'm not sure what they're doing, they might be kill-teams. Give me a minute." A thrill ran through his body; the possibility that the Covenant could be sweeping the city was a very bad one. They couldn't be found, not yet. He needed to do anything, he needed to do [i]something[/i]. But he couldn't; he needed to wait for the confirmation from Marcus. Impatiently he shifted positions. Moroni had never been a patient man; he was a man of action. Finally Marcus spoke. "Confirmed. Kill teams are sweeping the city. Not sure for what reason, but they're sweeping nonetheless," said Marcus in a matter of fact tone. Moroni frowned. Zulu team couldn't be detected; they need to observe the Covenant dig operation (or whatever the hell it was) and find out what, precisely, they were searching New Virginia for. They needed to be there to rob the Covenant of their prize. "Keep me posted Marcus. Notify me if the kill teams near us. Understood?" Moroni asked in a commanding tone. "Yeah," Marcus whispered. Moroni started to crawl back towards the entrance, but faltered. "Marcus," he began, "those kill teams could close in on us at any time. I need you to be ready to move at a moment's notice." Marcus glanced back at him. "We'll be ready," he assured Moroni.
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  • Doctor Jensen

    Doctor Jensen

    5/16/2012 1:37:40 AM Permalink
    "Everyone prepped and ready to move?" Moroni asked. He received four acknowledgement lights on his heads-up display. "Good. Mafua, you've got point. I'll pop the hatch for you; watch out for hostiles." "You got it bossman," Mafua said, raising his M319 grenade launcher. "Allie," Moroni turned his head to her, "you've got the rear." She nodded the affirmative. Marcus looked at him expectantly, the barrel of his SRS99 Sniper rifle resting on his shoulder. Bryan stood next to him, his BR55HB Battle rifle hanging loosely from his hands. "Marcus, Bryan, I want you two to follow closely and keep your eyes peeled." "Sir, what exactly is our objective now?" asked Bryan. "We need to get as far away from that carrier as possible," Moroni stated. Bryan shifted his shoulders as he were about to respond. Moroni, knowing Bryan's natural urge to fight, clarified. "I know what you want to do. But we don't have the firepower to face an ship-full of Covenant troops Bryan. You know it, and I know it." Bryan sighed. "Acknowledged," he said; Moroni could detect a tinge of frustration in his voice. "Right, radio silence from here on out." Four acknowledgement lights winked green on his HUD. "Mafua, you're up. Popping the hatch in three." Slightly raising his riffle Mafua nodded. Moroni held up three fingers and slowly dropped them until his hand was balled into a fist. He pulled the lever sharply and was gratified to see the hatch explode up from the bunker. Spartan B304 pointed his weapon outside and cautiously took a few steps onto the pulverized streets of New Gettysburg. He swept his weapon from left to right and raised his hand to motion Zulu team forward. Moroni stepped out into the rubble filled street; his body was tense as he raised his MA5B cover them. Bryan followed closely, then Marcus, then the rear guard Allie. Moroni cautiously observed the desolate city surrounding him. The city had been evacuated five days before the Spartans had been stationed there. When the Spartans were given their orders, they were told that they were to be stationed at New Gettysburg after the evacuation to observe Covenant troop movements. Now that Moroni thought about it, it was a very odd job to give Spartans. Why waste such valuable assets observing the Covenant when they could be out on the frontlines? It really didn't make sense to him. [i]Perhaps ONI knew something we didn't,[/i] thought Moroni, as he thought of the carrier. The thought of the carrier pulled him back to reality. Save for the sound of gravel crunching underneath their boots, New Gettysburg was eerily silent. [i]Good place for an ambush,[/i] he observed as he took note of the unbelievably tall skyscrapers, the could-be sniper nests, and the numerous alleyways littering the city. Noting that Mafua had stopped for a moment to let the team get in position Moroni turned to Marcus and Bryan. He pointed at their visors then at the rooftops. They nodded confirming that they understood his order to watch the skyscrapers. He beheld Allie steadily gazing back at him from under her visor. He simply nodded at her, knowing that she would watch their backs with careful precision. Swiveling around Moroni faced Mafua, who had been waiting patiently for them. He nodded for Mafua to continue leading them forward. Without a second glance he was leading them through the city. While navigating the rubble-strewn streets of New Gettysburg the air was pierced by the distant hum of the Covenant carrier approaching the city. Mafua, fully aware of the approaching ship, motioned for them to take cover inside of a black tower at the center of the city. He glanced back at the ship, and increased the pace of the squad dramatically as he saw the ship closing the distance between them rapidly. Moroni glanced back at the ship and increased his pace twofold. He could hear the hum of the carrier become a distant roar. Along with that the ground began to shake slightly; the ship was getting closer. Remembering that he had ordered them to keep off the radios, Moroni switched his mic to external speakers. "Get moving Zulu team, that carrier is almost on top. We can't have them finding us; we'll be heavily outmatched," Moroni ordered them. As if on cue, the ground began to shake with an increased intensity than it previously had. Moroni staggered but continued to run; the team's pace was suddenly decreasing. He could feel the tremor continue to increase in strength as the carrier bore down on them. Their hearts pounding and adrenaline pumping through their bodies the Spartans made one final effort to close the 50 foot gap. About 15 feet from the entrance of the tower an especially strong tremor tore through the earth. Moroni stumbled and caught himself; he heard a loud mass smack against the earth. Skidding to a halt Moroni wheeled around, his weapon leveled and his finger on the trigger. The sight of Allie sprawled on the ground caused him to take his finger off the trigger. He glanced back at Mafua. B304 stood with both Marcus and Bryan at the entrance of the building. He turned his head back around and ran as fast as he could to Allie. Grabbing her by the shoulders he lifted her to her feet; without saying a word they sprinted through the entrance and into the tower lobby. Not a second later the Covenant carrier passed overhead. "Damn good timing," Bryan muttered. "You know that's right," Mafua agreed. Marcus nodded in silent agreement. Outside the thunderous roar of the carrier's engines was no longer audible. It was instead replaced by a dull hum. "Are they still in the city?" Bryan asked. Moroni shook his head. "I'm not sure." He turned to Marcus. "I need you to check it out; Bryan will be your runner. Find a suitable floor for observation and when you find out what the sitrep is send Bryan down to relay the situation to me. In the meantime Mafua, Allie and I will keep watch on the bottom floor in case of hostiles." "Acknowledged," Marcus stated flatly. "Yeah, great idea Moroni," Bryan said, his voice dripping with sarcasm. "Can I get you anything else?" Moroni grinned behind his visor. "Yeah, how 'bout a bowl of chili?" he quipped. "Oh you got it sir. First batch I come across is yours." "Good," said Moroni. "Now you two get moving, we need to know what the situation is." Together they turned around and searched for the stairwell; they found it on the east side of the room and quickly entered. Moroni surveyed the main lobby. The scene in front of him was unkempt to say the least. A large silver desk near the north wall that had been used by attendants was overturned, its contents spilled onto the ground. Behind the desk several chairs were toppled over, blocking two doors on the north wall. Furniture, such as chairs and couches, populated the south wall behind Moroni. The west wall sported a lone door that stood defiantly, daring anyone to cross its boundaries. Next to the door a bookcase that had once been stocked with intriguing books was now depleted of its store of knowledge. The eastern wall was mostly barren save a first aid kit, a fire alarm, and the stairwell door. "Mafua," Moroni said, turning to the big man, "I need you to check for a back door to our temporary home. We don't want any covenant forces sneaking up on us, now do we?" "I sure don't air," Mafua agreed. "This back door. If I find it, what do you want me to do?" "Simple. Barricade it." "You're the bossman," said Mafua who nodded and took his leave this time, exiting through the door on the west wall. Moroni shook his head in admiration of his Spartans. They were good soldiers, always doing what needed to be done, always taking the initiative. In truth they were better soldiers than Moroni could hope to be, he was just a better leader. that was the only reason Kurt had chose him to lead Zulu team. He swept the negative thoughts away in an instant. [i]We may be in a bad spot here, there's no time for me to get caught up in my disabilities.[/i] Moroni grabbed at the seals of his helmet and pulled it off as he turned around. He was stunned to see that Allie too had removed her helmet and was giving him a puzzled look. Moroni studied her face for a second until he felt unsettled. He scratched at his scalp enthusiastically before he spoke. "We should-" he began before he was curtly cut off. "Why did you come back for me?" she asked. Moroni swallowed hard. There were two reasons he had ventured back to her. The first reason was personal and was unprofessional. It was a feeling he thought he had repressed in himself; turns out he had been wrong. But he wouldn't reveal that reason to her now. Instead he would give her a reason both professional [i]and[/i] personal. "You're my teammate. When I saw you freeze up I knew that I needed to act. So I acted," Moroni told her. Technically he wasn't lying to her, he just wasn't telling her the complete truth. He felt that it wouldn't be that big of a deal; Allie would probably never find out anyways. Allie shook her head. "I could have gotten up myself; all I did was trip," she said sheepishly, her mouth forming a hard line and her expression becoming totally unreadable. "I saw my teammate on the ground and followed my instincts. You know I wouldn't let harm fall on you," said Moroni. He shrugged slightly as if it were nothing. Allie crossed her arms and examined his face closely. Her eyebrows knitted together and she pursed her lips. Neither of the Spartans spoke for a minute; Allie stared at him a moment longer, trying to decipher where or not he was telling the truth. After a moment she relaxed her expression. Her tight lips curved into a light smile. "Well, thank you," she almost whispered.
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