Author: RYNO IV PM
It happened. Non-nuclear warfare destroyed the planet. It came... and then it went. Life went on. Humans adapted. And nearly four hundred years later, most of the Earth is covered by a huge expanse of desert with many factions vying for control. A single scavenger carves out a life in this wasteland, following his own path. This is his story.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Sci-Fi - Chapters: 3 - Words: 11,949 - Reviews: 1 - Updated: 12-27-12 - Published: 11-15-12 - id: 3074726
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
This story was inspired by the events of Halo 4, as well as ideas from Crysis 2. I do not own these games, its characters or its ideas; I do, however, borrow from it. All characters created by ME however, as well as THIS story, belong to me. If you would like to write a story based off this, or even within the story itself, please contact me first.
Chapter One: Welcome to Hell
They would not like what I do.
If they did know what I do they would not like what I do because what I do is what I do. What I do is for me to decide to do and not for them to decide what they think I should do because I like to do what I do and that's for me to decide what to do. Do, do, do-do…
Do re me.
The Entity, locked forever in its ramblings, giggled as it wandered aimlessly about the familiar halls. It was never bored, despite the fact it didn't have anything to do, keep track of, or even a way to look outside - its home was half destroyed, and there simply wasn't any point to its upkeep.
Still, there was one advantage to being insane – the entity's own nonsensical trails of thought provided all the entertainment it needed. After all, they made perfect sense… to it, at least.
It knew what it knew and no could tell it why it knew what it knew or knows or why it knew knows. It just knew what it knew.
The Entity stopped, frozen, as it realized that some of its home's sensors were still functional and were picking up a far-off… something. The entity scanned through the data and grinned that someone was coming after all this time.
Meanwhile, another entity was locked away even deeper, segregated from the first. And unlike the first, this one wasn't mentally unstable, or even conscious for that matter. It was the Other, asleep, biding its time for the right moment.
And its moment would come. One way, or another.
Johnathan Keller was not a patient man. He was also physically massive, cold, taciturn, and generally disliked by other people. So why did he find himself in a rickety transport craft that smelled of feet with fifteen other men? Well, it certainly wasn't his choice.
Jammed in next to him was Biggs, a pudgy man who certainly lived up to his name. He growled as someone in the craft passed gas. "Aw, for shit's sake! Someone open a goddamn window!"
His face hidden by his battered helmet's visor, Keller looked away in what only be a roll of his eyes. As another Waster goaded Biggs, the armored man looked at his… not necessarily friends, but comrades at one point or another. They were all covered in mismatched armor - for some, it was simply thick, hardened leather. Treated right, the skin from a sand worm could repel even a fifty cal. round.
Others wore more "sophisticated" armor, if strapping metal plates to your body could be called that. Biggs wore no armor whatsoever and preferred his air-tight survival suit, an EVA suit, to explore the wastes "in the nude."
In truth, he simply couldn't find armor to fit his engorged frame. His suit had its purposes though – while it wouldn't protect him from the creatures, it would protect him from the harsh sun and blend in with the environment like a chameleon. The bulbous duraglass helmet would keep sand out of his eyes, as well.
Their weapons ranged from small handguns, a few shotguns, rifles, even a hefty SAW that was halfway to the junkyard. At the same time however, Keller was an experienced Waster, and had equipment that made his allies' pale in comparison.
His armor was advanced, made up of thick bundles that looked eerily like muscles. They crossed over his body like muscles as well, with metal joints that connected them all together. It was hefty, bullet-proof, and positively terrifying with the dark red visor. It was probably some of the best armor in the Wastes, but it did have one significant drawback – the weight.
The muscle-like material was dense, making it so he was constantly carrying around the bulk of a whole other person. But what really made it cumbersome was the turtle-like metal dome that hung off the shoulders. It was unnecessary, and easily a third of the suit's entire weight. His junk dealer back at Sanctuary often looked over his armor and told him that it probably wasn't just a creepy muscle suit and some metal plates, that it had even more marvels hidden inside it.
Either way, it was lifeless and it was armor – it had saved his skin more than once.
Keller flexed his shoulders, knocking Biggs off from where he was currently hovering at his shoulder.
"Ouch! Hey, what the hell, man?" the shorter man wailed.
"Stop whining. We're almost there," Keller intoned in a deep, gravelly voice.
Biggs pouted. "Fine, be that way."
The transport was an ugly craft, with a barrel-like fuselage and broad wings that were capped with a pair of propeller engines. It streaked over an uglier expanse of dry, rolling sand dunes that endlessly drifted along in the breeze. Keller looked out at all this through one of the small portholes lining the side of the craft and knew it as one thing.
Keller, Biggs, the men in the shuttle – hell, hardly anyone in the entire Wastes knew what caused this world to come about. They knew it wasn't like this originally, having seen faded pictures and heard holorecordings that told of a lush, green planet called Earth.
What the hell was green, anyway?
Sargent Alec Mason, the de facto leader of this sorry group, cleared his throat and shouted in a gravelly voice, "Alright, you sorry sons of bitches! As Sanctuary's goon squad, it is once again our job to finish what the Council started."
The entire shuttle grew quiet at his words. As for Keller, he just stared at the graying soldier.
"Recon stumbled onto something the bandits are so hot for, they scramblin' over themselves to get it," Mason continued.
A wide grin split his face. "Well, I don't care if its God's own anti-son-of-a-bitch machine, or a giant hula hoop, we ain't gonna let them have it! When we meet the enemy, you will rip the skulls from their spines, and toss'em away, laughin'! Am I right, men?"
A shout of "Ooo-rah!" went throughout the entire cargo bay, shaking the craft.
"Mm-hmm, damn right I am."
As the "goon squad" checked their weapons over with renewed vigor, Keller shuffled his way over to Mason's side and said, "Quite a speech."
When Mason turned to him, Keller was struck by how old his friend looked in the dim lighting. His dark skin protected him from the sun outside, but wrinkles adorned his sixty year old face and his stubble had gone to gray.
The disturbing thought was swept away as Mason smirked and growled, "You startin' to doubt me, son? You outta know better than that."
"Attention SRT," the pilot's voice over the shuttle's intercom called out, "we are approaching our objective. Sit down, shut up, and don't shit your pants."
"You heard the lady!" Mason called out, "Sit down, shut up, and don't shit your pants! That's an order!"
As the men in the cargo bay reached up and grabbed ropes tied to the ceiling, Keller turned to Mason and stated, "I'm not SRT. You know that. I'm just the tour guide."
Mason nodded as he strapped himself into his seat. "Yeah, yeah. My 'Special Response Team' is too cool for ya, anyhow. And ya might wanna grab somethin'. The pilot's good at flying this crate, but she's shitty at landing."
A trooper in the shuttle heckled. "Grab something? Bow chicka bow-wow."
"Jenkins, shut it."
The flying crate, known long ago as a tiltrotor, creaked as its engines and massive propellers tilted towards the sky and let its speed bleed away. The pilot took the machine down in between two large sand dunes, and two large skid plates extended from the belly of the craft in place of its original landing gear. Long moments passed as the tiltrotor carefully sank lower and lower towards the ground.
"Brace yourselves!" Mason called out. Keller, who had been watching the landing through one of the portholes, made a last minute grab at one of the many short ropes hanging from the ceiling. He was a moment too late.
In contrast with its careful descent, the tiltrotor suddenly dropped the last few feet to the ground. Sand exploded out from its skid plates, the engines ground gears from the sudden loss of power, and the men in the cargo bay lurched where they stood, only kept upright by the ropes they clung to. Keller, on the other hand, found himself sprawled on the metal floor of the tiltrotor.
Even as the men around him laughed, Mason took pity. He bent and patted Keller's shoulder as he said patronizingly, "Now see, that's why you listen to the old man."
Keller found himself getting a close-up view of the rust decorating the floor. "Shut up."
The men were still howling as the ramp at the rear of the craft lowered with a mechanical buzz.
Mason hefted the shotgun off his back and jerked its slide back. "Move it out, double time! Sanctuary ain't payin' us by the hour."
The fourteen men, still heckling, rushed out of the tiltrotor in a single mob, aiming weapons at their surroundings as they secured the area. Mason turned back to Keller as he got back on his feet.
"Well, ready for another rodeo?" Mason quipped with a grin.
Keller nodded, his own smirk hidden by the metal plate that covered the lower half of his face. "Thought you'd never ask," he shot back.
"Oh, you know me. I like to savor the moment."
With that, the pair walked down the ramp and into the desolation of the desert. They had barely stepped off when the pilot reengaged the propellers and sent sand whipping about the haphazard team. Keller stumbled away as the ramp shut with the whine of hydraulics.
"Thank you for flying Air Foe Hammer," the pilot casually said through their radios. "Call me when you need a dust off."
Grumbling under his breath from his near decapitation at the hands of a ramp, Mason responded, "Copy, Echo 4-19. Will call for evac."
"Affirmative, Sarge. I'll be flying recon in case any knuckleheads decide to crash the party."
With that, the tiltrotor gently lifted off the ground and rose into the air. It swung away from the team, leveling its engines out in the process, and was soon out of sight from the squad. The sound of the blades faded away, and there was nothing but silence.
"So, why are we here?"
A collective groan passed through the men at Jenkins' question.
Sporting a helmet of his own, his muffled voice was bewildered as he said, "What? I never got to the debriefing on time."
Sargent Mason brought the shotgun to his shoulder – while it wasn't aimed directly at Jenkins, the threat was clear.
"Private Jenkins, you would be on time if you didn't spend every spare second with yer thumb up yer ass."
Before he could finish, Mason strode over and smacked his shotgun against the side of Jenkins' helmet.
"Shut up, Jenkins. Someone get his ass in gear, I don't want to waste a perfectly good shell. Move out!"
As the team grumbled and began to trudge up the nearest embankment of sand, Keller, who had been standing in the background and watching the display, strode up to the hapless Jenkins. The private looked up in awe at the six and a half foot tall titan.
"Holy shit … you a mutie?"
Keller shook his head as he grabbed the private by his elbow and began dragging him up the sand dune.
"Hey hey hey, what gives?!"
The man said nothing.
As he was being dragged, Jenkins eyed the rifle and shotgun that hung off the man's broad back. Unlike their weapons, which were in varying states of disrepair, his were immaculate and free of the ugly rust that had rendered many weapons in the wastes useless. Being a little longer than one's arm, the rifle looked to be a fairly heavy weapon, but its heft meant it was a sturdy weapon as well.
He gulped when he saw a pilfered scope bolted onto the rifle. He wouldn't want to be on the business end of that thing, never mind the fearsome-looking shotgun.
Keller kept himself from growling at the private, who had suddenly decided that forgetting how to use his legs and falling flat on his face was the best course of action. As he yanked the private back onto his feet, he was stricken by that age-old saying:
He finally crested the sand dune and was met with a sight that, not for the first time, gave him a deep sense of peace. The dunes of the waste stretched off far beyond the horizon, creating a rolling sea of sand that was slowly, continually molded by the gentle desert wind. It was both an amazing sight to behold, and one of desolation.
The man was snapped out of his thoughts when Mason elbowed his side.
"Shut up. I know ya didn't feel it. So, where we headed?"
Mason looked to Keller, who simply pointed at the massive sand dune that loomed less than a mile away.
With that out of the way, Mason turned to his men.
"Alright, just for shits and giggles – and for those who weren't on time for the briefing – we're headed for that big-ass sand dune. Sanctuary's detected a shit load of metal in that thing, so we're investigating it. Intelligence don't have nothin' on this but I bet my paycheck it's pre-Waste, so stay on your toes."
Keller, ignoring the debriefing, was silent as Mason continued, "Ol' Mean and Nasty here's the tour guide and extra firepower. If things go south and bandits get here before we pull out, hide behind him."
A sharp glare was leveled at the Sargent, its effect amplified by Keller's mask.
"I'm just statin' the obvious, I seen you take a grenade to the face."
He once again ignored the Sargent as he strode toward the massive dune, not bothering to check to see if they followed. The only thing he concentrated on was making sure he didn't feel any tremors under his feet as they marched through the sand with the sun blazing above their heads.
Jenkins, stumbling through the sand, made his way over to Biggs.
"So, what's the deal with the spook?" he muttered to the chubby tech geek.
Biggs chortled, an odd sound that echoed in his domed helmet. "'Spook?' You're seriously calling the El-Tee a spook? You got a death wish?"
A questioning look was all Jenkins gave.
Biggs sighed, glanced over at Keller who strode at the front of the pack, then said disbelievingly in a hushed tone, "You've seriously never heard of the El-Tee?"
"Not a word. I come from the Metro."
"That would explain things," Biggs said blandly. "Metro's really backwater, news hardly ever-"
"I'm from Metro. As in my home."
His fat jiggling under his suit as he walked, Biggs grunted as he trudged up a sand dune. "Well, the El-Tee's John Keller, but you already know that. He's the best Waster in Sanctuary – you could drop him in a pit with some hellhounds and nothing but a combat knife, and he'll come back out with a freakin' minigun."
"No, I'm exaggerating. But he's still a bit of a badass."
Jenkins eyed the El-Tee's back. "…I don't buy it."
Biggs shrugged. "Most don't. Until they see him massacre a few bandits.
"Why's he called the El-Tee, anyway?"
Grunting in the slowly worsening sun, Biggs point to a faded insignia on the shoulder of Keller's armor. "See that? That's the symbol for a lieutenant. We just started calling him that when he first came to Sanctuary. He's not really a lieutenant."
As the pair talked, the mountain of sand slowly drew closer. Out of all of them, only Sarge noticed that they were slowly circling around to the other side of the massive dune. Grumbling under his breath about the sun from hell, Mason jogged up to Keller, who had steadily pulling away from the squad with his long strides.
"So El-Tee, what are we looking at?"
Keller gave the Sarge a sidelong glance. "…What makes you think I know anything?"
Mason stared into Keller's impenetrable visor and growled, "Well, somebody had to tell Recon where to take a peek at, and I know there ain't nobody crazy enough to go prancin' around lookin' for pre-Waste crap. That leaves either me or you, and last I heard, I haven't left Sanctuary for the last three months."
A smirk graced the older man's face. "So, Mr. Hotshot, why didn't you just grab all ya could, 'stead of just callin' in the cavalry?"
Keller didn't answer for a long moment, instead staring at the looming mountain of sand. He finally muttered under his breath, "Scaving is dangerous. Booby traps, decayed floors, turrets that can vaporize you in an instant. I'm not crazy enough to go in pre-Waste ruins without backup."
Coughing as a sudden gust of wind blew sand into his mouth, Mason struggled between that and giving his friend a bewildered look. "So *cough* what, we just the meat shields?"
"Basically. And I couldn't open the door."
The Sarge stopped in his tracks, stunned at Keller's abrupt answer.
Keller trudged on through the sand, half sliding down a sand dune before beginning the shallow climb up the next. In the process he put a good thirty feet between him and the rest of the squad, and was left with his thoughts.
Once his brain began working again, Mason snorted and hefted the shotgun in his hands. "You gotta learn to respect your pals. World's too fucked up to not have no friends - you just end up dead."
By this time, the sorry bunch had reached the base of the sand mountain. It towered above their heads a good fifty feet, and Biggs had to squint to see the top of it. Even from the bad angle and sun shining in his eyes, he could tell the dune was capped like a mesa, completely flat.
It was also completely unnatural.
"The hell?" he muttered to himself, when a gust of hot wind blew some of the sand off the top and revealing some kind of metal underneath.
"Biggs!" the Sarge barked, his voice faint from going around to the other side of the mound.
"Get your two ton ass over here!"
It's not two tons, Biggs thought indignantly. Still, he waddled as fast as he could around the giant sand dune. When he finally managed to get to the other side he was gasping for breath, dripping sweat and his suit's air conditioning unit was screaming at full throttle. Either way, his words were still stolen from him.
The backside of the sand dune, something that Jenkins would've had a field day with if he heard him, had no sand at all. Instead was a near vertical wall of steel and armor plating that glistened in the sun, marred by the occasional patch of rust. He could see three massive wheels embedded in the side, each one three times as tall as him – he also assumed that they were alongside the beast. All in all, it was an ugly thing.
Biggs thought it was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.
Laughing and giddy, Biggs sprinted to where the squad had gathered between the front and middle wheels. He shouldered past teammates, who shouted their annoyance, and finally came up behind Johnson and Keller who were staring at a sectioned slab of armor they thought was the door.
"Sarge, Sarge, do you know what this is?!" Biggs shouted.
Mason gave Biggs a pointed look. "No Biggs. I don't. Enlighten us."
Everyone wondered what the hell was wrong with the techie when he gave a girlish squeal. "I-i-it's a Mammoth. A freakin' Mammoth!"
Keller, who had been resting on one knee and inspecting the seams of the armor plate, looked over his shoulder. "A what?"
Hands shaking from the excitement, Biggs could barely type on the data pad strapped to his wrist, but he managed to contain himself long enough to get what information he was looking for. A few seconds passed and a holographic picture flickered to life.
"This," Biggs said dramatically, "is the Mammoth. Four hundred feet long, one hundred and fifty feet wide, and weighs over a hundred tons."
"Which means… what?" Mason asked skeptically.
Biggs, who was connected to Sanctuary's systems, rolled his eyes. "It means that-"
"Yo momma weighs more than that!"
Despite how Jenkins irritated them more than help, the squad heckled at his lame joke.
Still, everyone was shocked when the normally meek Biggs shouted, "Shut up!"
To his surprise, everyone did. Keller glanced back at the pudgy man with a little more respect than he did before.
Biggs took a breath, shutting off the hologram as he did so. "They were made pre-Waste. I think they were used as mobile HQ's, and they packed enough armor to take anything thrown at them. And enough firepower to blow away anything that the armor couldn't take."
Keller still wasn't able to find anything that could open the door - not wanting to bash the plate with his fist in frustration, stood and faced Biggs. "Like a rolling punching bag that hit back?"
Surprised at the quiet man's question, Biggs scrunched his face in thought and nodded. "Yeah… yeah, pretty much. I think I might be able to get us in, but I'll need a few minutes."
As Biggs waddled up to the plate and inspected it, Mason turned to the team and roared, "Alright men! I want snipers up top and get a perimeter established! I only want four men goin' in this thing. Jenkins!"
"Go out fifty feet. You're bug bait."
Simmons grinned evilly. "Ya wanna see if you can outrun the shotgun?" He jerked the weapon's action back, a sound that universally told of unavoidable and horrific death.
The private shook his head fearfully.
"Then you're bug bait."
Jenkins gaped, gobbled, and finally turned and grumbled under his breath, "I knew I should've listened to mommy…"
Meanwhile, Biggs inspected the armor slab with Simmons and Keller on either side. He bent to inspect its lower seams, but cursed when his helmet clonked against the side of the metal beast. He didn't expect his clumsiness to catch a smaller slab beside the supposed door at just the right spot to engage some unseen mechanism within, making it swing out and swat Biggs' helmet once more.
Thrown off balance, Biggs shouted a curse as he fell on his rear. Mason heckled and rested his hands on his hips.
"Well well, I guess that means you go a diet, Tubby."
Whatever retort Biggs had planned was sidelined when he realized that behind the small armor plate was a hidden terminal. He leapt back to his feet, but was stunned when he got a close look at the thing.
"What is it?" Keller asked – more of a demand by his tone of voice.
Biggs didn't answer, instead inspecting the powered down terminal with reverence. "Man… this thing still uses a keyboard… even though it's pre-Waste, Sanctuary still has holographic interfaces…"
Shaking his head, Biggs chuckled as he continued, "Man, this thing's, like... old. Old old. Old for pre-Waste, even."
Just then, Mason was distracted by his team calling out they were all in position. As he yelled at Jenkins to get farther away, "to better serve as bait," Biggs pulled a thin optic fiber cable from the side of his data pad.
"What are you doing?" Keller asked/demanded.
Biggs rolled his eyes. "I'm going to see if I can get power to this door and get it open. If it doesn't want to cooperate, we might have to-"
Sudden, the previously lifeless terminal winked to life. Mason, Keller, and everyone nearby spun on their heels when a hellish, metallic screeching came from within the Mammoth, and the armored door slowly swung down. Biggs barely managed to get his data pad unplugged and get out from underneath before he was flattened.
Keller, meanwhile, had whipped his shotgun off his back and was aiming it into the inky blackness of the Mammoth's innards.
"Well… that was easy," Mason quipped.
A little too easy, Keller thought to himself. He didn't voice his opinion on the matter.
Biggs seemed to have the same thoughts as he suspiciously eyed the once-again dead terminal. "Yeah…"
The Entity was overjoyed – not only had one person come, but sixteen! Its happiness truly could not be expressed with words.
But, the entity thought, for once in a very long time thinking clearly, what if they found… the Other? Surely they wouldn't know what to do with it… right?
Either way, whatever reservations it had were thrown out the window when it realized they were coming in.
Slowly, the Other became aware of the men slowly filing into the Mammoth. It had no effect on what the Entity did, or on what it had become. The only thing it could do was wait until the right moment for its plan to work.
And making plans was its specialty.
Finally, its moment had finally come.
Alrighty, how was it? I hope you liked it. That would kinda defeat the purpose if you didn't.
Anyways, I should explain a couple things. First, Keller's weapons. In case I never get around to it in the story, he uses a modified FAMAS with a short range scope and a Remington 870. Both are relatively common weapons, so it shouldn't be surprising if they'd survive four hundred years.
As for the entities? Well, you'll just have to find out.
By the way, don't judge too harshly - this is my first story in a long while and I'm rusty. I'm from Fanfiction, if that makes a difference.
Leave a review please. If not, you shall be haunted by the ghost of Cortana.