Shadowrun crossover with many realities...

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Re: Shadowrun crossover with many realities...

Post by Praeothmin »

Chapter 41

His first impulse, which he resisted, had been to grab the grenade and then thrown it back, but then he remembered that these grenades stuck to what they struck, and so he did the only thing he could: he blocked it with the pilfered weapon, the grenade sticking to it, after which it started pulsating rapidly.
Knowing the explosion was impending, James threw the weapon as hard as he could over the adjacent pipelines, but the grenade had barely made it over the pipes when it blew up, blue plasma washing over him, draining his shields and throwing his to the ground.
Looking for his ManHunter, he quickly found it, but noticed it had been partially deformed by the explosion.
He heard many footsteps coming up the ramp, and recognized them as human, so he called out to the incoming Marines so that they wouldn’t shoot him when they exited the structure.
When they came out, he asked for and received a heavy pistol and two spare clips.
Taking point, his shields having come back, he advanced cautiously, dispatching enemies as they appeared, making sure none of them were in any shape to represent a menace to the Marines.
Once all of them were out in the open, under the watchful eyes of Lt. Hicks, Cortana called out to Foe Hammer so she would come and pick up the survivors.
As the Marines climbed aboard the drop-ship, called a Pelican, James appropriated himself with another couple of spare pistol clips, and relieved one Marine of his rifle.
The man was only too happy to oblige, giving his rifle wilfully to the armored monster who had saved them, and brought them to safety.

As the Pelican lifted off to fly the survivors to the UNSC camp, Cortana piped in the Comm channel.

“I am detecting another lifeboat further up in the mountains, to the South-East.
We should go there immediately, as I am also detecting a Covenant drop-ship inbound for that location.”

Cue “Danger Zone” from the Top Gun soundtrack

James and Johnson jumped in the Warthog, James driving this time, as he knew his enhanced reflexes would allow him to better maneuver the jeep and use the best possible speeds.
And speed they did use, for after they had recovered Lt. Hicks, James had put pedal to the metal, almost going through the Warthog’s undercarriage, and he never lifted his foot while getting to the Marine survivors’ location.
They encountered only token resistance, as the Warthog’s front fender impacted heavily on an escaping Elite, while Johnson and Hicks fired at the smaller fodder aliens.
The jeep then shot on through the lines of aliens, careening in a gorge, bouncing against the walls, always going full throttle, and eventually the beating James was giving it started to take its toll on the vehicle.
But its job was done, for as they rounded a bend in the gorge, they came in a rocky valley and saw that the Covenant Drop-ship was just positioning itself to drop its troops so they could attack the Marines’ positions.
James slowed down near a grassy knoll, and then yelled “Jump now!” to Hicks and Johnson.
The two men obeyed him instantly, and as soon as they were off, James floored it again.
He laid low in the driver’s seat, as the Covenant troops had seen him and had opened fire, but they scattered in wild panic as he continued on, straight for the Drop-ship.
At the last instant, just as the ship was trying to escape by getting airborne again, James aimed the warthog at a low, inclining rock, jumping in a tuck and roll right before the Warthog hit it, jumping high in the air to impact the Drop-ship just as it was finally gaining altitude.
Before James could hit the ground, the ensuing explosion threw him backwards to land roughly on the ground, just as it incinerated the aliens closer to the ship, and threw the rest flat on the ground.
The impact was brutal, the shields flickering and dropping, the armor absorbing the brunt of the impact, James body absorbing the rest.
Even though he was completely encased in armor, hitting the ground took away James’s breath and stunned him.
He heard shouts and through hazy eyes he saw forms approach him, but he couldn’t make out if they were friend or foe, and his FOF apparently wasn’t working after the fall.
His hearing was also out, a shrilling noise continuously present, one that prevented concentration from James.
He was a sitting duck, and he knew it.

Cue “Demon Hunter – My Heartstrings Come Undone” from the Resident Evil 2 soundtrack

He shook his head, trying to regain his senses, fearing even his resilient body could be experiencing the effects of a concussion, but eventually his vision did refocus, his hearing stopped ringing.
When he could finally see clearly, he saw the bodies lying on the ground around him, all of the enemy, all of them dead.
He got up and went in for a closer examination, and noticed that they all had huge holes in their bodies, the kind that a sniper rifle would make.
He thanked Hicks silently, and went to gather his weapons, found only his pistol, then looked around for Marines and enemies.
He found neither, but he realized that the valley he was in was small, and had many rocky outcroppings in its middle, and that these outcroppings apparently created some kind of maze where enemies could hide and ambushes could be laid.
To his right, there was more grassy terrain that went farther in the valley.
To his left, the ground went slightly up, the far wall of the valley curving to the right, enclosing the rocky outcroppings.
There was debris from the Drop-ship, fires were still raging, and James thought he saw movements beyond the wreckage.
He advanced cautiously, favouring his left leg which he realized he must have twisted when he landed after the explosion.
Pain was there, meaning the injury was greater than his Pain Compensators’ capacity to drain.
As he made his way around the burning wreckage, using larger rocks to mask his approach, he saw an Elite come up to a Marine who was on his back, moving weakly.
From James’s location, he could only see the Elite’s upper body, and the Marine’s shoulders.
The elite was looking down at the Marine, its maw open as if to laugh, then it pointed its weapon to the defenceless Marine’s head, and fired.
James tried to shoot it before it could kill the Marine, but as he had drawn his weapon and taken a step forward to shoot, his left foot had stepped on a small rock and his left knee twisted, pain flaring up in it, and so his first shot went off its mark.
The Elite went down, hiding behind the rock as soon as it had fired.
Cursing his bad leg, he ran as best he could, and then jumped over the rock hiding his enemy, firing four shots blindly as he somersaulted over the surprised alien.
He landed badly, his left leg buckling under him, and he fell to the ground, losing his grip on his Pistol.
He turned around in an instant, ready to roll away from the Elite’s return fire, but he saw it was in no shape to fight.
James’s shots had hit it in the right shoulder and left leg, and it was down on the ground, looking frantically for its weapon.
James found his, got up and grabbed it, and walked towards the alien to finish it off.
But then he stopped, for he saw the Marine’s body, the one that had been shot in the head, or rather, James saw his upper body and the rest of his head, for his lower body, from the navel down, was covered by a huge boulder, almost as big as the one James had vaulted over.
It had probably fallen from one of the rocky outcroppings higher up, and had crushed the Marine’s body to a pulp under it, blood escaping from the man’s mangled body.
The Elite had not killed a helpless man, James could see, but it had abridged the suffering of a mortally wounded enemy soldier.
What James had taken for a callous act of savagery had in fact been an act of compassion.
He stood there, dumbfounded, for what seemed like an eternity to him, studying the face of his wounded enemy.
The Elite was no longer looking for its weapon, its concentration fully on James, curiosity clearly apparent in its eyes.
These aliens had appeared to him as cold and ruthless as the acid borne ones, yet the one in front of him had shown him he wasn’t.
Even worse, looking at the way James had conducted himself in the battles against those enemies, he couldn’t rightly believe himself better than them, as he had been as hard, as vicious against them as he had perceived them to be against the surviving Marines.
James opened his visor, so the Elite could see the expression on his face.

“Major, what are you doing?” Cortana asked, slightly panicked.

James ignored her.

“I’m sorry!” He said, not sure if the huge alien could understand him.
“It seems I misjudged you.
I didn’t know your kind was capable of compassion.”

The big alien didn’t answer, it simply continued to stare at James.
The big man advanced slowly towards the Elite, holstering his weapon, and getting his medkit out.
He kneeled next to the surprised alien, knowing full well the creature could attack him at that instant.
It didn’t.
He took out clean gauze and bandages, and took care of the big alien’s wounds as best he could, fearful of using any disinfectants, not knowing if they would actually help or wound the creature further.
His job done, he got up, took a few steps back, nodded to the Elite, and turned to leave.

“I did not know your kind was capable of compassion either.” A big voice rumbled at his back.

James turned around to face the Elite.

“It seems we are both guilty of misjudging the other.” It said with its deep, booming voice.
“And thank you for tending my wounds.
I hope we meet again on the battlefield.
It would be an honor to fight against you.”

James nodded, turned around, and jogged away, looking for the surviving Marines.
He found a passage between large boulders, and followed it very carefully.
He tried raising his team over the integrated Comm unit in his helmet, but he only received static.
The boulders he was going through were very high, and the passage he was following was narrow, making them perfect for an ambush.
He stopped, looked at the boulders on each side, and decided travelling on the top of the boulders would yield better vantage points.
He jumped up using his full strength, and when he was at the apogee of his jump, he extended both his legs, one on each side of the passage, and used them to lock his body in place.
Then, using his hands as anchors, he ascended, one foot going up, the other being used to push himself up, then his hands locked his body in place while the other foot was brought higher than the first, and he repeated those movements until he was at the top of the boulders, seven meters up.
He slowly lifted his head over the lip of the boulders, and quickly looked around.
Seeing no enemy, he lifted himself up and over on the top of the bolder to his left, which was the widest one.
Crouching, he advanced as quickly as possible while making very little noise, going to the edge of the boulder he stood on, never going close to the edge unless he was certain no one was hiding there in ambush.
His position allowed him to see that there was some sort of clearing in the middle of the maze created by the boulders, and when he listened carefully, using his augmented hearing to its maximum, he thought he heard some noise coming from the clearing.
Jumping over passages that were at some points close to two meters wide with ease, always careful not to offer himself as a target, he made his way towards the noise.
As he was closing in on the clearing, he went to a crawling position before slowly, and very carefully, approaching the edge of the boulder he was on.
He arrived at the edge of the boulder, and looked down.

The clearing was wide, almost fifteen meters across, and was circular in shape.
But when he looked in it, his heart skipped a beat, because before him were his two companions, Sergeant Johnson and Cpl. Hicks, as well as half a dozen human survivors, all kneeling on the ground in the middle of the clearing, weapons in a pile at the northern side, next to a passage.
They were guarded by two Elites and three smaller aliens with shields, all of them alert and on guard.
James had to move back a couple of times so they wouldn’t see him because one or the other would look up to where he was lying.

“This is a trap.” Cortana told him.
“They’re waiting for you.”

“You think?” He asked sarcastically.
“Don’t worry,” He said, “I’ll handle it.”

He knew it was an ambush, of course, as he was certain, after all he’d done, that the enemy knew about his capabilities, and knew that the guards affected to watching the Marines would not be sufficient, that in fact, they would barely slow him down, unless it came down to unarmed combat, which he did not intend to happen.
But he also knew that people laying ambushes rarely had the patience to see things through, especially the ones who were used as cannon fodder.
He continued to observe the guards, patiently noting every movement, every action to see if they could be some sort of coded messages to the enemy in hiding.
He did not see any pattern of movement, though, but after over an hour of patiently waiting, lying on his boulder, occasionally looking around to ensure he wasn’t being crept on, he was rewarded.
One of the smaller aliens looked for a few heartbeats to the north of the clearing, close to the Marine’s weapons pile, and then turned away.
James saw that the boulder there was shaped in a way that created some sort of canopy, and he could see that this canopy was deep enough that aliens could be hiding under that boulder and he wouldn’t be able to see them from his position.
He backed up, and thought of a way to free the men with a minimum of losses, but no matter how he twisted and turned all possibilities in his mind, due to the unknown number and type of enemies hidden under the rocky canopy, he always ended up with a plan that left at least half the men dead, to one that left him and Johnson, and possibly Hicks, alive.
James simply abhorred those numbers.
He was still thinking about possible issues, a plan slowly forming in his head when he heard a deep, booming voice come from the clearing.

“I address the armored human warrior.” It said.
“I am Krec’Loak’Hor, leader of the Sangheili warriors and lesser castes you have faced in combat.
I know you are out there, close by, I can feel it.
We have your friends, though I’m sure you already know that.”
The voice was powerful, charismatic, the tone was firm, and the speaker clearly held immense resolve.
“I was told of your great skill, warrior, was told by one of my most trusted subordinates of your compassion, but most of all, I was told of your great honor, which is why I am offering you a choice, warrior, and it is one I know you’ll consider:
I am offering you the chance to free your comrades, to gain their lives.
Face me in single combat, a fight to the death, as nature and the Prophets intended, no armor, no weapons but our bodies.
If I win, I will take your friends as prisoners of war.
If you win, my men will allow you and yours to leave unharmed to rejoin your clan, to fight in another battle.
This, I swear!”

There was a brief pause before the alien talked again.

“If you refuse, warrior, if my subordinate’s evaluation of your honor is wrong, then I will kill him, and then kill all your friends, this I also swear.”

James quickly re-analyzed the situation, and quickly came to one conclusion that allowed for a maximum number of saved lives: he had to accept the Elites leader’s offer.
As he rose up, he heard the plight of Cortana in his Comm:

“Don’t do this, Major.” She pleaded.
“The Sangheili are dangerous, they are a race of warriors, and their leaders are the most dangerous of all, not like the weaklings you’ve faced before.
And unlike you, their armor does not help their physical prowess.” She stated with finality in her voice.

“I know,” James replied, “But I have no choice.
This is the best chance I have of saving these men, and I will take it.”

“You truly are a Spartan, Major.” Cortana said.
“Though I’m not sure if it’s a compliment or not.”

Turning on his external speakers to the max, James got up and said:
“I accept your challenge, Krec’Loak’Hor, leader of the Sangheili.”

And regretted it instantly.

For the Sangheili leader was easily identifiable, standing a full head above the other Sangheili, close to nine feet tall, and half across.
He was a regal sight in his golden armor, his helmet resembling ancient earth Samurai’s.
His skin was of the deepest grey, with lavender eyes which shone intensely.
Almost as impressive was the half dozen Sangheili standing guard around him, one guard favouring an injured shoulder and leg.
All the Sangheili were looking at James, standing tall atop the boulder, and the Marines lifted their eyes as well.
James saw Johnson smile, and Hicks, his visor up, only nodded at him.
He jumped down, his armored form easily taking the seven meter drop, his half-ton form cracking the rock he fell on.
He righted himself up, and advanced towards the surviving Marines.
He heard someone whisper “it’s the Master Chief, we’re saved”.

“I accept your offer!” He said again, to the apparent delight of Krec’Loak’Hor.

The Sangheili guards made the Marines get out of the center of the clearing, and had them sit with their backs to the largest boulder, fanning out around them so they could not escape.
James started to remove his armor, as did the Sangheili leader, the main difference being the Sangheili leader needed to remove his piece by piece.
The Sangheili were surprised when they looked at James, the human remaining big even out of his armor, his six and a half feet frame, with broad and very muscular shoulders clearly apparent in the skin-tight underarmor suit he wore.
The difference between James and the other Marines was the same as the difference between the Sangheili leader and his troops.
Still, when the two warriors approached one another, James looked small indeed when faced by the Troll-like Krec’Loak’Hor.

“I would know your name, warrior, for whether I win or lose this fight, my people will record what happens here, and it will join all other great battles the Sangheili have waged in the past.” Krec’Loak’Hor said with his deep voice.

“My name is James Reynolds, and I am honoured to be part of your people’s history.” He replied, hoping indeed that the fight would last long enough to be worthy of figuring in the Sanhgeili’s historical records.

Cue “Throwing Punches” from the Underworld soundtrack

The Sangheili leader saluted James in what was a close imitation of a Japanese bow, which James replicated.
And then they both fell in their combat stance, the two opponents staring at each other, knowing full well only one of them would get out of this fight alive.
Knowing the fate of the humans depended on him, and fearing the big alien’s capabilities, James started probing the giant’s defences.
A quick right spin kick delivered to the giant’s knee was absorbed when the alien simply turned his leg to James’s left and bent with the impact.
An uppercut in the giant’s stomach was partially deflected away from his body, the rock hard abdominals tanking the rest of the force of the punch.
The follow-up left hook from James did impact the Sangheili’s face, but the big alien partially retracted his head and the punch barely fazed him, if at all.
A direct right kick to the inside of the creature’s left thigh only served to push James away, just in time to retract his head and avoid a punch that would have taken it clearly off.
James retreated to a comfortable distance, and was dismayed.
While the Sangheili had been surprised by James speed and strength, he was very resilient, and extremely good, for he had reacted perfectly to all of James’s attacks.
James knew then and there that his chances of winning had taken a huge drop, and that the fight was going to be long and gruelling.
The only upside was that his injured leg seemed to respond well, at least at the moment.

“Your prowess was not exaggerated.” The Sangheili leader said reverently.
“This will be a glorious fight.” He finished with a laugh.

And then he attacked.
To James surprise and total dismay, the giant moved like a mongoose, delivering his attacks with speed and power.
And unlike the Sangheili warriors James had faced a few hours earlier, this one was not predictable.
James, the man who was used to take the fight to an enemy, to wade in an enemy’s reach and deliver devastating attacks, was on the run.
The giant’s long reach and immense strength meant James could not block directly, or he would have been seriously hurt by the impacts of those blows.
So he evaded like a crazed monkey.
A spinning kick forced him to roll over it in mid air.
A powerful backhand had him bend over backwards in a bridge position, which became a handstand to evade a descending punch, spinning on his hands to deliver a kick to the alien’s head, and flipping in the air above another kick to get back to his feet.
A charge had James jump over the Sangheili leader, planting his hands on the alien’s back and kicking the back of his opponent’s head to jump away and land far behind Krec’Loak’Hor.
If this frustrated the alien leader, he didn’t let it show as he continued pressing the attack.
A knee attack to the face became a spring board, allowing James to jump over two crushing arms intent on grabbing him, opening Krec’Loak’Hor up for a knee to the face which, again, barely fazed the giant.
James landed farther back and quick stepped a couple of times to keep his distance from the monster facing him.
And so it continued for almost an hour, James jumping and twisting every which way to evade and counter, but he was getting tired, and his injured knee was making its presence felt ever more.
His only solace was the fact the alien leader finally showed traces of James’s blows, proving to the MACO leader he wasn’t invulnerable.
But he hadn’t slowed down much, while James had considerably.
Every miss was continuously getting narrower, and James knew the hits would come even closer still if the fight was allowed to continue.
James knew he had to change tactics, and so he did.
He decided to use the closer blows to start targeting pressure points and muscle joints.
But he didn’t have time.
A knee attack designed to force James to jump up was followed by a straight right punch to the face.
He reacted quickly by crossing his arms in front of him, but the blow simply pushed both his fists in his face.
He felt his nose get crushed, saw stars and then flew through the air to hit the side of a boulder.
He dropped to the ground, still on his feet.
As Krec’Loak’Hor advanced, he rushed the giant and speared him in the knee, bringing the giant down, howling in pain.
Finally, James thought, the Fragging alien shows some pain.
They got up at the same time, but James struck first, giving everything he had in an epic uppercut, and heard the cracking of a braking jaw just as the giant alien descended a huge hammer blow to James shoulder.
James went down on his knees, but tried immediately to get up and grab the alien’s head, but his attempt was stopped when Krec’Loak’Hor grabbed both his hands with its own, the huge alien’s hands completely enveloping James’s.
He lifted the human up, high in the air, looked at James in the eyes, and said “I’m sorry!” before he started pulling on James arms.
As the strain became unbearable, as he felt his arms were about to give, James replied “So am I!” before swinging his legs up, his right feet hooking the back of Krec’Loak’Hor’s head while his left went up against his forehead.
Before the big alien could react, James used all his considerable might to push with his left leg while pulling with his right.
Krec’Loak’Hor tried to resist, but his powerful neck muscles could not compete with James’s legs, and a loud, wet cracking sound was heard as Krec’Loak’Hor’s head twisted to his left and continued on to face the giant’s back.
Both combatants fell to the ground, limp, unmoving, only one of the two still breathing.
The truth always depends on which side of the fence you're standing... ;)
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Re: Shadowrun crossover with many realities...

Post by Praeothmin »

Chapter 42

James woke up in a tent he didn’t recognize, nor did he remember how he had gotten there.
He looked around and noticed it was a field Hospital, like those he had seen so many times during his military service.
Even the equipment was similar to the one he was used to.
Strangely enough, he was the only occupant out of twenty possible patients.
The Mjolnir armor was in a corner of the tent, closed so it would not take up too much space, standing upright by itself.
James felt good, refreshed, and felt no pain, which meant his wounds, if he still had some, had healed enough so his Pain Compensators would be able to overcome the pain signals coming from his battered body.
He checked his nose, and felt it was back to its normal appearance, if only slightly larger than usual due to swelling.
He noticed a chart at the foot of the bed, so he took it and read it.
It mentioned he had suffered hairline fractures in three ribs, the file mentioning normal, un-augmented ribs would have cracked and most likely punctured a lung.
It also said his nose had been broken, and that his left knee had been sprained and both shoulders dislocated.
Examining himself, he could only agree with the assessment of his wounds.
He got off the bed –after making sure he was wearing shorts- and tested his body.
It responded like a well-oiled machine, proving to him that whoever had worked on him had done a great job patching him up.
As he was looking around for his underarmor, the tent flaps parted and James saw Doc come in, still in armor but with his helmet off, followed by Johnson, Hicks, Hudson and Wilson.
He noticed there were two guards outside the tent, and wondered why they were there.

“Well, well, well, looks like somebody took some time off after rescuing our sorry asses.” Johnson told James, a huge grin on his face.

James could only smile at the comment, knowing full well, having gotten a very good measure of the man during their mission together, that it was the Sergeant’s way of thanking him for saving their lives.

“Glad to see you up and about, Sir.” Hicks said, his face still a mask of stoicism.

“Daaaaayyyymmmmmnnn, Major, when they brought you in, you were so fucked up, I thought Hicks had gone and mistook you for an enemy.” An enthused Hudson said with a large smile.
“Glad to see you were only up against an actual enemy leader.”

“Shut up, Hudson!” Hicks and James said at the same time, James fully smiling and Hicks displaying what could pass as one as well.

“Man, I can never say anything around here.” Whined Hudson.
“I always have ta be the strong, silent type around you guys.” He finished, almost with a straight face.

Doc went up to James and moved as if he wanted to examine him, but the big man let him know he was fine.

“Look, Chief, I know you’re a tough guy, especially after the whoopin’ you gave to that big Elite, but you better let your Doc check you up, in case you still need some treatment.” Johnson said.

“Don’t worry, I’m fine, I checked myself up and compared what I noticed to what my file said.” James replied, donning his underarmor after finding it.
“If I needed more treatment, I’d know it.”

“You Spartans get full medical training too with the military one?” A surprised Sergeant Johnson asked.

For only a heartbeat, James hesitated, but then he remembered that he was impersonating someone else, in a reality he knew next to nothing about, except for the fact they were at war with some alien races on a Dyson Ring.
He did not know what these Spartans he was impersonating knew, or didn’t know, and so he gave the only answer he thought would fly.

“You’d be surprised what we Spartans know.” He said.
“But I can’t tell you: classified!” He finished.

As he suspected, it shut the man up, but James saw it didn’t make him happy.

“I wish I could tell you, Sergeant, but like you, I have to follow orders.” He added, and noticed the words had the expected effects, because Johnson’s expression softened up a bit, and he nodded understanding.

“Well, I know you Spartans are a top secret project, which is why I allowed only your own Medic to work on you, and why I posted those two guards outside to ensure your privacy.” Johnson said.

“Much obliged.” James replied.
“Our supervisors will appreciate your professionalism.
I’m curious though: how did we get back here?” He asked, intrigued.

“Well,” Johnson started, “When their leader kicked the bucket, they stood and saluted you both.
The limping Elite then told us you were a great warrior, and that they would respect their leader’s word ‘cause you deserved it.
They gave us back our equipment, let us call Foe Hammer, and helped us carry you and the armor back ta the clearing in the valley, and then they left.
They’re honourable folks, I’ll give’ ‘em that.”

“Speaking of calling the cavalry,” Doc piped in, “We received a message from our project supervisor a few minutes ago, and they wanted to talk to us when you were available.”

“Well then I’ll leave you guys to your secret communications, and I’ll go back ta surpervisin’ my men.” Johnson said.
“By the way, Chief,” He added as he left, “All the guys you saved wanted me ta thank you fer rescuin’ their butts, and fer kickin’ some Covenant ass.”

He faced James, saluted, and left.
James looked at Doc, and asked the question that had been burning his tongue for the last couple of seconds.

“How long have I been out, Doc?”

“Almost a day.” Doc answered.
“Which is why you’re in such good shape.”

“Well, I’m certain your knowledge and expertise helped a lot.” James said, knowing he’d be in worse condition if Doc hadn’t been there.
“Not sure their Doctors, if they have any, know how to operate on a slightly different human.”

“Slightly different my a…” Hudson started to say, but then everyone looked at him, and so he finished simply with “Oops, sorry, shutting up right now.”

James looked at Doc, smiling, and asked:
“So, what did the Musashi have to say?”

Doc’s face became mirthless, which worried James a bit.
He came closer, and with a sidelong glance at the Mjolnir armor, whispered the answer knowing James’s enhanced hearing would get every word.

“They did not send the armor for you.” Was Doc’s whispered answer.
“They beamed the armor and the armor’s occupant separately, as you know, both going to sickbay.
They say that not long after the armor had been beamed aboard, the ship’s systems suffered a computer glitch, but then all functions came back normally.
Except that navigation was taken over, without any way for them to retake control, and then the Musashi was returned to the Ring, where the armor was beamed off, and your armor was beamed in Transporter room 3.
Then the ship systems came back online, under full control of the crew, which allowed them to get away and hide from the alien ship behind the nearest planet.
They later discovered the message that was sent to us through the ship’s Comm system.
Analysis of what happened, coupled with our recent experience with AIs showed a trace of one controlling everything on the ship, all at the same time, and worst of all, the AI in question took less than thirty seconds to completely control the ship.”

James knew, after all the time he had spent on the Musashi, that the security on their systems was top notch, and they had been beefed up after the take-over attempt by the Cylons.
For an AI to take control of the entire ship in less than thirty seconds, it had to be extremely powerful.

“Then, after the armor was beamed to you, there was one immense communication burst sent to it, as if the AI was dumping itself in the armor.
Since then, nothing, except for an occasional small communication burst to the armor from the Musashi.
The Captain let it go on because he thought it might be useful, but they’ve put systems in place to purge all traces of the AI should it be needed.”

“They’d find it incredibly difficult, but not impossible.” A soft, whispered feminine voice said, coming from the armor’s speakers.
“Although it is quite unnecessary, I assure you.”

“Why did you deceive us, Cortana?” Asked James, still calm despite what he had learned, a question which he voiced loudly and had the effect of getting the attention of all the Marines in the tent.
He was certain the AI didn’t have any dark intentions, and that her actions had been born of necessity, but he wanted to know with a hundred percent certainty.

“Major,” Cortana began, “If you will let me, I would like to tell you why I did what I did.”

A long moment of silence passed before James understood that Cortana was actually waiting for his consent.
This intrigued him, so he decided he’d play along.

“Go ahead, Cortana!” He said.
“Although I don’t know why you’re asking for my permission at this point.”

“Simply because I respect you, Major.” Cortana said, sounding apologetic.

“Why?” Was James’s simple question.

“Major, you went to the Master Chief’s help, you promised him to help people you didn’t know and then sent him to your ship where you knew he’d receive the best treatment, and then you set out into danger with your crew, not knowing what you would encounter, or if you would even find anyone still alive.
You donned the armor when I sent it to you without a second thought, and you played along, pretending to be the Master Chief for the humans to accept you and let you help them.
You lost one of your men, and when the lives of many of ours were threatened by the Elites, you even accepted to fight the Sangheili leader without any armor, at your disadvantage, again to save people you did not know.”

“I did what anybody in my position would have done.” James said honestly.
He did not feel he had done anything more than any one on his team would have, and he felt that he didn’t deserve to be made something he didn’t believe he was: a hero.
“And the last fight was also to save Hicks, one of my men.”

“Major, you could have rescued him to the doom of all others if you had truly only cared for him.”

James could not deny that evidence.

“And because of your actions, you may have well changed the course of this war.” Cortana continued.

“What? I only fought against a group leader, that’s all.” James said, doubting the AI’s analysis of the earlier events.

“You do not know how the Sangheili think, which is why you do not understand what is transpiring here.
Major, the Covenant is a regroupment of different alien races in which the Sangheili serve as war leaders because of their martial prowess.”

James understood why, as he had rarely faced such dangerous foes before.

“They respect strength, courage and honor, and an opponent that displays these traits is a highly respected adversary.
Up until now, their leaders, the Prophets, had depicted humans as weak, and worst of all, without honor, and I’m afraid our dealings with them up until now had proven them right.
When you spared that Sangheili because you understood he had shown mercy to the injured Marine by killing him, you showed humans also had honor.
You instilled doubt in their belief that the human race was unworthy, and that we only deserved to be eliminated from the galaxy.
When you accepted the fight against their leader, without armor or weapons, you again showed great honor, but also showed great courage in the face of a much stronger opponent.
And when you finally overcame their leader, the Sangheili understood.
They understood that their Prophets had lied to them.
They understood that they’d been made fools, and for such a proud race, this is unacceptable.”

“They sound like Klingons.” Doc remarked.

“Kling who’s?” Hudson asked, but a look from James and a mouthed “later” shut the man up.

“I’ve been monitoring their communications with the help of the Musashi, and received updates once every hour.
These were the bursts the Musashi kept reading.
Major, the Sangheili are leaving the Covenant!
They decided they could no longer follow Prophets who would lie to them, as this shows hypocrisy, and a great lack of honor.
While they still have no plans to ally with humanity at the moment, this is still a great blow against the Covenant war efforts.
Without the Sangheili, the Prophets will now have to rely on the Jiral’Hanae, a race the UNSC knows as Brutes.
They are slightly stronger than the Elites, less intelligent or honourable, but just as dangerous, and they have no qualms about being lied to, as long as they benefit from it.
Except that they are nowhere near the tacticians the Elites are, so the Covenant war effort has been greatly slowed, because of you.
We may even be able to negotiate a truce, or even an alliance with the Sangheili.
So when you return back home to your reality, just know that another human race has benefitted from your presence.”

James was about to ask her how she knew about their reality jumps, but then remembered it had taken her less than thirty seconds to control the ship, and so she could have taken any information she wanted from its databanks.

Suddenly, all their communicators chirped and a message came through:

“This is Cmdr. Teramak to MACOs, come in please.”

“Major Reynolds here, Cmdr.” James answered.

“We’re inbound to your location and will be in transporter range in less than twenty seconds.
We’ve detected multiple alien ships coming this way, heading straight for the Dyson ring.
Be ready for beam-up when we arrive in range.
Teramak out.”

James looked around, and saw his men were ready to leave, the loss of their comrade still in their minds.
He looked at the Mjolnir armor, and addressed Cortana:
“Please tell the Master Chief to tell Johnson the rest of the team had to leave, and that they said goodby.”

“Will do Major!” Cortana answered.
“Good luck getting home.”

Good luck with your negotiations.” He said.

And then a familiar tingling sensation came over him, and the tent started dissolving in a golden shimmering veil.
He blinked, and then the familiar walls of Transporter Room 3 came into view.
They had a welcoming comity, he noticed.
Newt ran over to him and jumped in his arms while Boomer and Ripley just stood next to the technician’s console and smiled at them.

“We’ve got them, and our guest is safely back with his friends.” The Transporter Tech said to the communication system.

“Excellent!” Captain Kirkinger said, “Have Majo…”

And then he was cut off when the ship suffered a complete power failure.
The deck shook a bit beneath their feet; creaking noises were heard, but this time, no cracking sounds, which James thought was a good omen.
Or at least, he hoped so.
The truth always depends on which side of the fence you're standing... ;)
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Re: Shadowrun crossover with many realities...

Post by Praeothmin »

Chapter 43

Cue “Faith” from the Equilibrium soundtrack

This time, power came back rather quickly, telling James the ship had been thoroughly repaired while his body was doing the same in the Med-tent on the Dyson Ring.
But he had a more pressing matter he wanted to attend.

“Bridge, this is Major Reynolds.” He began after reaching for the communication button on the Transporter console.
He looked around the Transporter room and noticed the nervousness in the faces of the people around him, all except for Newt, who in her blissful ignorance just continued to look at him with a great big smile on her face.
“Where are we this time?”

“Major Reynolds, this is the bridge.” Answered Teramak.
“We appear to be in orbit around a planet.
We will call you later to discuss this, but for the moment, no enemy is in sight, and it seems we’ll be able to breathe a bit and get our bearings before we plunge headfirst into trouble.” He finished.

The last part had been uttered with mirth, as James could almost hear the Commander’s smile while saying the words due to the lightness of his tone of voice.

“Before you plunge us into trouble, you mean.” James replied.

“Exactly!” Was his only answer before the channel closed.

“Sir, you may want to have your wounds checked out completely by the Doctor before we head out again.” Doc told James.
“I did what I could, but you aren’t completely healed, and before we’re thrown into danger again, it might be a good idea to ensure you’re at peak efficiency.”

“You’re right,” He said, “And so, to ensure you’re all running at peak efficiency, you should all get some rest.
I’ll call you when I need you.”

They left the Transporter room at the same time, but went their separate ways, Boomer following James, while the others went back to their quarters after expressing their happiness at their return, and their sadness at Heyes’s death.

They walked a bit in silence until Boomer broke it.

“I’m glad you’re back.” She said.
“I heard about your fight with the alien.
I want so much to tell you it was dumb, James, that you could have gotten killed and then everybody would have lost: You, because you’d be dead.
The survivors, because they’d be prisoners of angry aliens.
The Musashi, because it would have lost one hell of a crewmember.”

She stopped talking, and continued silently for a moment, but James didn’t interrupt her, didn’t say anything, because her body language told him she still had something to add.

“And I would have lost something I value very much: you.”

She stopped walking , and so he stopped as well.
She was looking at him, her eyes in his, her hand slowly raising towards his face, brushing his cheek gently, then going to the back of his neck, just as she was getting up on her toes, her lips slowly coming near his.
His thoughts were racing, he wanted to tell her that she shouldn’t, that he was already with someone, that Valis was the one for him, but despite all his great strength, despite the willpower that had allowed him to live when he should have died, he couldn’t move, couldn’t bring his hand up to push hers away, until he realized that he couldn’t, because he didn’t want to.
Their lips drew ever closer, James’s heartbeat racing ever faster.
And then the magic was gone, brought to an end by the “ding” of Turbolift doors opening close by.
Boomer took a step back, quickly withdrew her hand to her body as if it had been burned, shook the trance from her eyes, and turning back, quickly made her way to her quarters.
James stood there, unsure of what to do, lost in the face of the emotions welling up in him.
He cared for Valis, that much he knew, but he realized that he had come to care for Boomer very much as well.
He was so immersed in his thoughts that he barely registered the “Hello Major” the passing crewman sent his way.
He turned around, still shaken, and went to the Sickbay, almost hoping Valis would not be there.

She was, and upon seeing him, she flashed him one of her great smiles, which almost buckled James’s knees in the process.
Luckily for him, she was busy with a patient, an Ensign with serious burns over his left arm and his face.
James didn’t worry thought, for the Ensign was in good hands, and with Valis’s skill and the Federation medical technology, he knew the woman would be back to work within a couple of hours, and the only trace of her injury would be the pinkish color of her newly regenerated skin.
He found a Nurse who could take care of him, and so within half an hour, his wounds had been completely healed.
By then, Valis had taken care of the Ensign’s face, and was starting work on her arm.
She flashed James another smile, which he returned, and then he left quickly, mouthing “new mission, gotta go” before exiting the room.
Her beautiful eyes simply flashed him an understanding look before she went back to work on her patient.

Cue “La Dame des Neiges” from the soundtrack “Le Pacte Des Loups”

Having slept for over a day in the Medical Tent of the UNSC Marines, James was fully rested, and so he went directly to the bridge, almost hoping for an enemy attack so his brain could stop thinking about Valis and Boomer, and the strange situation he was in.
As he entered, he was almost taken aback by the calmness of everyone there, as if the situation was now an accepted fact of life aboard the Musashi.
Repairs almost fully completed, the bridge crew had gone back to standard shifts, scanning the surrounding stars and checking on the ship’s systems to ensure their smooth operations.
People were moving with practiced ease, and the bustle and panic of the last few days was almost like an afterthought, James judged by the way people were moving around.
It was then he realized how completely different life in Starfleet was from his old one in Seattle, on Earth.
Every time the ship jumped, James was nervous, and had the immediate urge to know where they were and what had happened.
But to these people, he realized, this was just one more day in Starfleet, and as long as no enemy was waiting for them at their arrival point, life simply continued on.
This represented what James had been told was Starfleet’s first and foremost motto:
To explore strange new worlds and discover new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one had gone before.
And while in their native reality Starfleet was fighting a war, this ship, thrown so far from it, could do what its people had enrolled in Starfleet for, they could actually satiate their curiosity and their wanderlust, being prevented from going back home by an uncontrollable entity.
And James started to like it, he realized.
While his life was still full of violence, and his capacity for it had been what had motivated the Captain in giving him the leadership of the MACOs, James relished the fact that now, he used this violence for a greater good, a greater purpose.
That his presence aboard the Musashi allowed him to help people instead of helping only himself.
It had been a dream of his for as far as he could remember, to be able to help people, to right the wrongs of his world, where greed and human misery existed side-by-side, where the strong never looked down to see the weak they were stepping on.
But he hadn’t seen any way to do this in his world, the system having been built so that the strong preyed on the weak, and the weak had no way to fight back, except by becoming strong, which required you prey on the weak.
The vicious cycle could not be broken in James’s reality.
But on the Musashi, born from a future Earth filled with a human race that had beaten its baser instincts, from a Federation founded on peace and equality where poverty was no longer tolerated, he could actually strive to help people.
He was no longer sure he wanted to go back to his reality, his old life.
He would have to think hard and long about this.

The Captain heard the doors to the Turbolift open and looked back.

“Ah, Mr. Reynolds.” He said with a smile.
“You look well considering the opponent you faced.
Even Captain Kirk had to create some sort of weapon when he faced such a powerful opponent.”

James ignored the reference to a Captain he had never heard about and simply smiled.

“By now you should know I can take quite a beating.” He said to the Captain.

“Yes, quite, in fact I’m not even sure our shuttles can take as much, although you wouldn’t have to if you were a better fighter.” He said with a grin.
“But don’t worry my big friend, today will be a slow one.
We are in orbit of an ice planet, and scans indicate indigenous life forms, nothing too big, and only one humanoid, with almost human life signs.
No technology, no settlements, nothing.
Oh, and no silicon life forms either.”

“That will be a nice change of pace” James replied.
“I guess I’ll go and have a talk with our humanoid friend in order to learn where we are, then.”

The Captain’s nod and smile told James he had guessed his mission correctly.

“I suppose this can wait a day, so that my crew can rest a bit?” He asked.

“It can, Major, that way YOU can rest too.” Captain Kirkinger pointedly replied.

And so James left the bridge and headed to his quarters, where he spent the rest of the day reading up on Captain Kirk.
He learned about the legend, and the more he read, the more he understood how close the legend was to the actual man.
Captain Kirk had had an illustrious career in Starfleet, making first contact in a number of missions, defeating all manners of enemies, some even considered Gods.
As he went to bed, late that night, falling into a deep, recuperative sleep, he understood why a Captain who had lived over a hundred years ago could have become such a legend.

When he woke up the next morning, he called his team, and told them about the mission.
He mentioned his intention of going in light, and so selected Boomer because they needed a pilot, Hicks and himself for firepower, and Hudson as the Comm specialist.
They assembled in James’s room, reminding him he’d need to request for a better planning room, and he explained the mission quickly.
They loaded up light, equipping themselves with heavy pistols, Hicks and James getting Phaser rifles in case they needed more firepower.
They wore mostly form fitting armor under heavier, warmer clothing made of Kevlar.
They would be protected both from enemies and the weather.

“Man,” Hudson said, “This reminds me of the way I dressed for my last date.
The dame was as frigid as the North Pole.” He said laughing.

James looked at Boomer, wondering if she was finding the joke funny, and noticed she had been looking at him.
Their eyes met, and she quickly lowered her head, pretending she had issues with her webbing and ignored him for the rest of the preparations.
He let her to her thoughts, but decided they’d talk right after the mission.

Cue “Supression” from the soundtrack of the movie Equilibrium

They left the Musashi half an hour later in the Raptor, Boomer’s expert hands guiding the craft to the last known coordinates where the humanoid life form had been detected.
As they entered the planet’s atmosphere, strong winds buffeted them, although they were nowhere near as powerful as the winds on the Colonial colony world from Hudson and Hick’s reality, and so Boomer had no problem keeping the small ship steady as they descended ever closer to the surface.
From their vantage point they could see the area they were going to was strangely shaped.
The ground was full of what appeared ridges, creating what up in the air looked like fingerprints.
The closer they were, the greater the gap between each ridge appeared to be.
They could not land the ship on those ridges, and so looked for a more appropriate landing spot.
What resembled a mountain was detected, and they approached it to take a peek.
The Tricorders were detecting the humanoid in the direction of the mountain, but as they approached it scans were disrupted by something in the mountain.
Adjusting their tools, they learned that the mountain contained highly magnetic ore, as well as some low level energy readings.
This lead the team to surmise that the mountain in question was most likely an old artificial structure, its exact nature having been lost through time, buried under tons of snow and ice.
They found an opening in one side of the mountain, some sort of opened passage, protected from the winds by natural arches and the high walls on each side.
Boomer guided the ship easily between pillars and below archways, and eventually found a small area where she could safely land the small ship.
The landing gear lightly touched the ground, Boomer easing gradually on the thrusters to see if the weight of the Raptor would be supported.
When she was confident it would, she cut the engines off and the Raptor landed with a small thumping sound.
The MACOs opened the door of their ship, Hicks and Hudson exiting in unison covering every angle.
James followed them and looked around.
Seeing nothing, the group started their search for the humanoid they had detected.
They split up, James working alone, knowing he could cover more ground alone, and even get to places no unaugmented human could.
Boomer, it was decided, would stay behind and watch the ship, her Cylon strength and resistance making her the perfect choice for a guard duty she would have to perform alone.

They had been exploring for a while, communicating their progress at regular intervals, James having even climbed high up in the icy structure, when he lost the Comm signal.
He wondered if he had gone too far and thought that the same energy signals disrupting their Tricorders was also having an effect on their communicators.
He was about to turn around and head back when he spotted something in the snowy sky.
Using his augmented vision, he zoomed in on what he had at first thought to be a bird, only to realize it was a ship.
It looked small, but it was rather far and so he couldn’t truly evaluate its size.
Fearing possible trouble, wondering why the Musashi hadn’t warned them, he turned back and quickly made his way to the ship.
When he got there, his heart stopped.
Boomer was on the ground, blood caking her face.
James’s first reflex was to run to her to assess her situation, but his training took over, and so he surveyed his surroundings before he went to her.
Seeing nothing, no threat, no enemy, knowing full well the enemy could be invisible, he went to his fallen comrade.
While he still kept an eye out for potential dangers, he quickly checked on Boomer’s condition.
Her pulse was strong, and the copious amount of blood that was in the snow came from a gash in her forehead, and James knew these wounds were always bleeders.
He opened the Raptor’s side door, and gently laid Boomer inside.
He took out his field Med-kit and took care of her wound.

“You made three mistakes.” A deep, throaty voice said behind James.
The truth always depends on which side of the fence you're standing... ;)
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