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"Pedal to the metal!"

Chapter 9 (v.1) - Chapter Nine: Ain’t Big Enough for the Both of Us

Submitted: December 24, 2018

Reads: 31

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Submitted: December 24, 2018



Chapter Nine
Ain’t Big Enough for the Both of Us


Private First Class Pinciotti, Private Saito, Private Ortiz, Private Newton and the Master Chief Petty Officer stood at the rim inside a glass dome observing the Kilindini Park Cultural Centre. The rumbling of a lone Warthog made itself noticed as it circled the park. A slight breeze could be heard in the leaves of the swaying oak trees. Alien chatter was carried across with the wind from the platforms over the centre pond. Shrill, screechy Jackal voices; raspy, panting, high-pitched Grunts voices and deep, growling Elite voices all made their way towards the group. Fortunately, the aliens themselves had not yet noticed the human team.

“You three,” began the Master Chief, pointing at the three marines beside Jane. “You’re our sharpshooters. Maintain elevation above the park. Aim for their snipers first.”

“Yes, sir,” they replied in unison.

They began to spread out along the curved ledge with their BR55s aimed down towards the centre of the dome. The faceless Spartan turned to Jane who clutched her SMG to her chest.

“That Warthog driver needs assistance. As long as he keeps moving, he’s a hard target for the Covenant,” the Chief began.

“But he’ll be stuck here until he dies unless he finds a way to clear the area,” Jane finished. “That’s where we come in.”

“Wait for the Warthog to pass that platform there,” the Spartan continued, pointing at the nearest circular platform on the left. “Then we jump.”

“Got it, sir.”

As soon as the Warthog passed the platform, Jane stepped forward and slid down the steep ledge until her combat boots were planted firmly on the grass. Meanwhile, the Spartan jumped upwards into the air over Jane and landed about two metres in front of her. His own high-tech-armoured feet sunk into the ground a couple of inches. What surprised Jane was how light the Spartan looked while he was in air, as if was floating down like a feather despite weighing half a tonne. However it looked though, it drew the attention of the Covenant. Green and blue rained down from the platforms above.

Jane and the Chief were shielded from the plasma fire when the Warthog driver pulled up directly in front of them. It slid a few metres, tearing into the grass as it broke suddenly. A marine with a trimmed brown goatee and sergeants cap held the steering wheel. He spoke in a southern-American accent.

“I could use you on the gun, Chief!”

Unlike the usual Warthogs that were equipped with heavy machine guns, the gunner’s position on this jeep featured a turret with a single much-thicker barrel and a digital video screen for aiming. It was an M68 Gauss Canon. Essentially, it was like a mini-MAC. The Master Chief stepped up onto the rotating gunner’s plate at the back to begin operating this beast of a weapon while Jane swung over onto the passenger seat. The Warthog drove on before the plasma could tear too much into it.

The chimes of three Covenant Ghosts whistled loudly in the wind. The purple hovercrafts coasted over the grass behind them. They fired their plasma canons at the Warthog, which swerved left and right, zig-zagging chaotically to dodge the blue energy bolts. Jane twisted her torso around in attempt to aim her SMG at the Ghost’s drivers, but she couldn’t get into position. The front of the Ghosts were already high enough that the Elite drivers were very much obscured, which made Jane’s targets very small. With the Warthog’s constant movement and the Ghosts being behind the jeep rather than at the front or side of it, it would have been near impossible to eliminate the drivers.

“Careful with that thing, Chief. She’s a puncher!” The driver yelled.

Plasma flew over the top, past the sides and splashed across the back of the UNSC vehicle; chipping away at it before the Spartan returned fire. Boom! The sound of the gauss canon’s single shot echoed throughout the dome. The Covenant on the platforms paused their fire in shock. The canon’s metal slug tore through the purple plating of the nearest Ghost. It exploded violently in an array of blues and reds. The Elite driver spun through the air along with the debris, flailing its arms and legs before it hit the ground. The remaining two Ghosts swept around to avoid the wreckage as the chase continued forwards, bending around the pond.

Jane raised her submachine gun up at the platforms. Looking down the sights, the targets in her vision bobbed up and down due to the Warthog’s intense handling. Grunts, Jackals and Elites ducked and weaved behind Covenant crates and other alien equipment while firing at the jeep. Some of their shots landed, damaging the jeep slightly further each time, but most were unable to come close to their speedy target. Very few shots came close to Pinciotti, but the aliens only needed one shot to hit the marine in order to kill her.

Jane fired her SMG. The bullets went everywhere. She held down the trigger until the entire magazine was depleted but didn’t hit a single target. She reached into the pouches attached to her combat uniform and reloaded ammo into her weapon all the while trying to balance on the passenger seat of the bumpy ride.  She heard another explosion from behind while she unleashed her second clip. This time an Elite’s shields flashed blue, two Grunts were hit and a Jackal flinched back. Whether or not she killed any of the creatures was difficult to see. They were all a blur that rushed off to the side as the Warthog drove past.

Jane’s seat suddenly rose up beneath her causing her to lose her balance. She caught her fall with her knee on the seat while her arm smacked the front bar above the windscreen. Wincing in pain, she climbed back into position and glanced behind to see what had caused the massive bump. The Warthog had just driven over some debris left over from the first Ghost after completing a lap around the park.

A flash of purple lit up Jane’s vision briefly, temporarily blinding her. Once it cleared, Jane saw that a small section of the plating at the front of the Warthog had been torn away to reveal the engine below. A Covenant beam rifle had hit the vehicle. Looking up at the platforms, Jane saw a Jackal Sniper stumbling to the ground. The shot at the Warthog had been accidental. The Jackal had actually been aiming at the human marksmen crouching with their battle rifles up on the ledge. The Jackal had been aiming at Private Ortiz, but Saito had been quick enough to kill it first.

Boom! Just as the Spartan fired at the last Ghost tearing it apart as he did with the first two, two more Ghosts emerged from a gap in the dome at the opposite side of the park.

“Moooore calamari!” Expressed the driver.

The Ghosts separated. One drove around the back of the pond to catch up to the Warthog from behind while the other drove in the opposite direction until it was head on with the Warthog. The front Ghost thrust forward, forcing the jeep to make a sharp right. Jane felt the vehicle tilt up with two wheels in the air before it slammed back down again. She slipped forward onto the seat before her head slammed into the back of it. She was sore but with no major injuries. The Warthog would have rolled had it tilted any further, and would have tipped the marine head first onto the ground. Jane climbed back into position and decided to ignore the Ghosts’ pursuit of the vehicle. She only needed to pay enough attention to keep her balance while staying focused on the Covenant in the centre of the park.

Jane fired smaller bursts from her SMG over the centre platforms. With the battle rifles joining in at the same time, each of the Covenant units had the choice to either face the Warthog or one of the BR marines. With the marines firing from several angles, the Covenant soldiers fell one by one.

Jane spotted the tip of a beam rifle poking out from behind a Covenant transmitter. She waited until the Warthog drove a little further providing her a better angle and revealing the Jackal Sniper behind its cover. She held down her trigger. The reptile’s narrow frame shook violently as it was hit by a swarm of bullets. Almost half of Jane’s shot managed to hit her target. The Jackal’s reacting nerves caused it to press down on the hieroglyphic trigger of the beam rifle, allowing it to fire one final shot before its death. A bright, thin, purple beam flashed from the Jackal up over the park until it struck one of the BR-wielding marines in the shoulder. Private Saito screamed as blood leapt from his bicep.

“Saito’s down,” Jane informed the Chief dutifully.

She turned back toward the platforms in search for her next targets as the Warthog continued circling them. Jane felt no emotions in regards to Saito’s death. He was not her friend. She had refused to allow herself to see him as any more than an instrument to assist her in battle, and as a result, his death meant nothing to her. She was able to shoot at her next targets with a clear mind. Saito was already a thing of the past. Is this what it feels like to be a Spartan? Jane wondered.

The skirmish within Kilindini Cultural Centre lasted a while longer, but eventually the Spartan and marines managed to take out all the Covenant without any more casualties. Once the Master Chief had defeated the Ghosts, he turned his gauss canon toward the ground units and dispatched of them one shot at a time except for two Grunts that he managed to kill with a single slug. After the area had been cleared, the Warthog finally stopped. Jane turned to look at the Spartan towering over her at the back of the jeep. She felt like she understood the supersoldier a little more. This was a man who never looked back at his dying allies, and why should he? She thought. His mind stayed clear because he concentrated on the job that needed to be done and nothing more. Maybe this was the type of solider needed to save humanity. If Jane and the other marines could be a little more like him then they might just win this war and prevent their extinction.

“Marcus Stacker,” the Warthog driver introduced himself. “Gunnery Sergeant.”

“Where are the rest of your marines, Sergeant?” The Master Chief asked.

“Scattered,” he replied. “Not dead. We got separated when the Scarab passed over.” He paused then continued. “Our mission was to take down some AA turrets. A plan is a beautiful thing when it works, but when it doesn’t, it’s ‘cause we were ambushed by a giant, walking death machine! They radioed before you got here. They’re all holed up in some command post near the city centre. Don’t suppose that’s where you’re headed?”

“There abouts,” answered the Chief.

“Then let’s pedal to the metal!”

The Warthog drove forward towards the gap the Ghosts had emerged from earlier. As the vehicle turned into the gap, Jane saw from a distance Ortiz and Newton crouching over Saito’s body. His relaxed hand still sat over his bleeding shoulder. The jeep passed into another smaller section of the culture centre. The park was similar to the last, albeit half as wide and with a slightly different layout. As they turned towards it Jane heard a chirp from a terminal on the wall.

“Healthcare on demand,” it said.

As Sergeant Stacker drove them into the park, Jane realise just how long it was going to take them to reach the city centre. If every area was filled with Covenant like the last park had been and now this one was, they’d surely run out of time. She saw an open archway for the Warthog to drive through at the other end of the park. The problem was that it was blocked by several Covenant ground troops, a Wraith in front of ground troops and several Ghosts swimming around the parkland between the Warthog and the Wraith.

The Wraith was the Covenant’s answer to the UNSC’s Scorpion. It was just as destructive, but far more common. The huge body took the form of a sapphire-blue, egg-shaped pod they lay with its smaller end pointed forward. It was kept afloat over the ground by four short wings akin to that of the Ghosts’. A wide compartment opened at the top to reveal a great mortar canon, which the Wraith now fired.

An enormous ball of blue plasma that dwarfed any Jane ever had seen in person was pushed out through the Wraith’s opening. It surged forward through the air before gravity took its toll and pulled the heavy sphere down with a crash. The energy splashed metres in front of the Warthog. Sand, grass and rock erupted from the ground, leaving a black pit for the jeep to manoeuvre around before the Wraith then unleashed a follow-up mortar shot at its enemies. Ghosts swirled around them while Warthog swung from one side of the park to the other, trying to race onwards to the opening at the end.

“Concentrate your fire on the Wraith,” Cortana called from the Spartan’s helmet. “That’s the biggest threat.”

Jane held her SMG down at the Ghosts that zoomed each way past the side of the Warthog while the jeep barrelled forwards, never slowing. She heard booms from the gauss canon as the Chief shot each one at the massive mortar tank. Due to its insane mass, the Wraith was much slower than the Ghosts. Its gravity thrusters exerted most of their energy trying to keep the Wraith in the air. Very little power allowed it to speed forward or strafe to the side. For that reason and thanks to the unexpectedly skilled driving of Gunnery Sergeant Stacker, the Master Chief was able to destroy the Wraith before it could destroy the Warthog. That said, the Warthog was far from pristine condition. Jane suspected only a couple more shots from a plasma canon would be enough to ignite the engines and light up all the Warthog’s riders for good, which was why they had to get out of there fast.

“Damn, Chief!” Stacker exclaimed. “You just got egg all over the carpet. Hah!”

Blue plasma fire whizzed past as the Warthog navigated a path around the ditches caused by the mortar canon and general scenery of the park. They drove around the wreckage of the Wraith and directly towards the exit. Several Elites and Jackals blocked the path. The Warthog didn’t stop. It left a messy trail of purple and indigo beneath the arch as it drove through.

The vehicle was then forced to slow down to drive around tight corners formed by manmade water features beneath the edge of the smaller dome. Jane felt cool droplets hit her face as they passed by a large waterfall running down the side of a tall mirror. She saw the state of herself and the Warthog in the wavy reflection. They looked better than she thought they would. They still had a chance.

Before they knew it; Jane, the Master Chief and Sergeant Stacker had exited out into the central streets of the great metropolis. The segmented roads crossed over one another below the bright sky as buildings towered over them on either side, the tops of which shrunk away into the distant clouds. The sun’s rays danced across the glass windows of the skyscrapers. Lights shone from the road, from the builds and from the many signs around the city. The signs provided directions. Some labelled their complexes or advertised industries that owned the buildings. Many of them still flashed red with messages instructing New Mombasa’s citizens to evacuate. Jane also saw that many buildings had their glass shattered and parts of the walls caved in. Cars lay abandoned in some places but nowhere near as many as there’d been in the highway tunnel.

Even while this deep into the city, Jane could still see the space elevator and Covenant carrier between gaps in the buildings. They were getting closer to being directly beneath the looming spaceship. The elevator was a marvel. How it managed to be that large and that tall while defying gravity caused Jane to stare in disbelief; at least until the Warthog had driven passed the gap in the buildings Jane had been staring through. The jeep made multiple turns and drove down a number of streets. They encountered no Covenant. Jane felt lighter and safer than she had for hours. That was until she saw the sight ahead as the Warthog made its last turn.

“There are many marines trapped inside that building,” Cortana announced.

The building was at the other end of one long, straight road that was several lanes wide and separated by a grassy island down the middle for opposing traffic. Two walkways overhead connected buildings and footpaths together without interfering with the road. Jane spotted at least two Jackal Snipers atop the walkways, two Wraiths between the Warthog and the building and a Phantom dangling overhead with two Ghosts ready to drop onto the battlefield. 

“My marines are cooped up in that building,” said the Sergeant. “They’ve joined the Four-Oh-Fifth; A-Company. The Lieutenants been killed. Not sure who’s in charge now.”

Jane couldn’t see how they were to reach the building. The Warthog may have been fast and they had an expensive gauss canon in their hands, but two Wraiths and a Phantom as well as Ghosts and Covenant Snipers were too much for them to handle. She had discovered in the second park that there was little she could do against Ghosts with an SMG from a Warthog’s passenger seat. If there was any chance she was going to survive this battle and do some damage against the aliens while she was at it, she had to leave the vehicle.

“Sir,” Jane called to the Sergeant over the rumble of the Warthog. “I need to get out.”

“Negative, Private.” Stacker replied. “What’s your reasoning?”

“I can do more on the ground than I can from here.”

“It’s gonna be a tough fight,” the Sergeant said, “but…”

He pushed down on the break to slow the vehicle. Jane climbed out onto a sidewalk without the Warthog ever actually stopping. It sped off as Jane hit the ground in the shadow of one of the buildings. She sprinted up a set of steps to the closest walkway and found one of the Jackal Snipers at the top. The Jackal was too close to aim its beam rifle in time. It dropped its long weapon to the ground and reached for the plasma pistol that was attached to its waist. The Jackal then received a mouthful of bullets from Jane’s submachine gun before it could grab the pistol. That was the last of Jane’s SMG ammo.

She looked over to the other walkway and saw the purple glow of the second sniper raising its beam rifle toward her. She dived behind the body of the Jackal she’d killed. The sniper held its fire. Jane reached around and modified the corpse’s position so that it fully covered her human frame. She dropped the SMG and reached around for her magnum. She then lifted a small section of the Jackal’s dead body and squeezed the handgun underneath it, pointing it in the direction of the other sniper. Sliding into a slightly better position for her to peak through a tiny space underneath the Jackal’s neck, she fired as soon as the sniper was in view. The shot hit the sniper in the knee. Jane rose up and fired four more shots. She saw purple spirt from its forearm and neck as it fell backwards. Purple flashed nearby as the Jackal’s beam missed Jane while it fell off the walkway onto the road below. 

Jane looked back down at the streets. She was astonished at what she saw. Sergeant Stacker was pulling up beside the command post. The Ghosts were destroyed, the Phantom had fled and one of the Wraiths sat completely immobilised on the flat road. Blue fire crackled from the centre of its pod. The last Wraith was spinning slowly, trying to rid itself of the Master Chief who crouched over the top, holding onto it as if on a bucking bull. He pounded his fist into a sapphire plate at the top and tore it away from its broken hatch, throwing it onto the road. He fired his shotgun into the confused Elite Minor who sat within. Jane slightly regretted that she missed the fight.

Jane walked down the footpath toward the marine’s building. As she approached, a Pelican holding a Scorpion underneath dropped down gently behind her. The Gauss Warthog was now empty. The Master Chief stood beside it. Stacker had already entered the building to check in on his squad. Jane and the Spartan were greeted by a marine named Corporal Perez.

“The Lieutenant got hit as soon as we dropped in,” Perez said. “Sergeant Banks is up top. Come on, I’ll show you.”

Jane trailed behind the Spartan as Perez led them up several staircases within the building. She felt the eyes of the other marines watching her as she passed. They were astonished by the presence of a Spartan super-soldier and bewildered by the lone soldier who ran at his heel. Jane noticed that stacks of UNSC medical cases were present. She thought back to Saito who’d been shot in the shoulder. Had they had biofoam nearby at the time, perhaps they could have stopped the bleeding from his shoulder. Jane cursed herself. She had no reason to linger on the past no matter how recent it was. She didn’t even know the man.

At the top of the stairs, Jane exited onto a large balcony that connected to an empty courtyard atop the first few levels of the building. A few marines sat beside some coms equipment with a large portable antenna that reminded Jane of the space elevator. One marine was crouched over a heavy machine gun turret that they had pointing back to the streets below. Jane noticed the Scorpion that was delivered by the Pelican now sat in the streets facing away from the building to defend it from any more Covenant that might arrive.

Sergeant Banks wore no cap or helmet. His hair was cut flat at the top. His skin was dark, and his face was clean-shaven.

“When I asked for reinforcements,” Banks began, “I didn’t think they’d send a Spartan.”

Jane felt a little ignored, but it came as no surprise. She herself had been amazed by the Spartan on Cairo Station. He was a super-human galaxy-saving hero. She didn’t know how exactly he’d earned any of those descriptions, and she didn’t suppose she’d ever have the clearance to find out.

Suddenly, Jane felt a faint tremble in the building below her boots. A familiar mechanical sound came from around a turn in the wide road ahead. She saw one leg first and then the other creeping out like a spider from its hole. It turned its large body toward the group. Jane could feel its bright green eye piercing right through her.

“We got trouble!” Sergeant Banks exclaimed.

“See this look?” Said the marine at the turret. “It’s terror!”

“Marine, did I give you permission to start bitching?” Banks replied.

The Scarab kept crawling forward. Despite them being a few storeys above the ground, the Scarab was still higher. Jane reasoned it must have been at least thirty metres tall.

“I don’t think it’s stopping,” Bank’s said. “Get your heads down!”

Jane braced herself as she watched the Scorpion tank tilt its main canon upwards. It pointed it directly at the underside of the machine’s long belly. Simultaneously, the panels around the Scarab’s eye opened up as it charged its own main canon while looking down at the tank. The Scorpion fired first. Its explosive shell struck the gigantic walker, but it did little damage. The Scarab then unleased its green mining beam in reply. The Scorpion all but completely dissolved under the Scarab’s fire. A black stain was left in the ground where the tank had been.

“That thing,” started Banks, “Is really starting to piss me off!”

The Scarab looked directly forwards again and continued its journey through the city. It was heading right for them. Not for the first time today, Jane was faced with the very likely reality that she was about to die. To her surprise, the Scarab did not fire. It just kept walking forwards. It’s going to crash into us, Jane thought. It did not. Instead, it lifted its front legs and climbed over the building into a gap to the left. Jane heard a splash. There must have been water behind the building. It continued around to the back of the skyscraper.

“Master Chief,” came Cortana’s voice beside Jane. “I think it’s time we kill us a Scarab.”

“It’s over here,” Corporal Perez called over him com. “Around back.”

“What are you going to do, Chief?” Banks asked.

The Spartan paused before answering.

“Catch a ride.”

The Chief re-entered the building and made his way toward the back. Jane retrieved a battle rifle on the way through before exiting out onto some metal grating on the other side of the building. The area behind the building consisted of a massive canal. The grating Jane stood on was that of a high walkway that stretched along the edge of the building. Several bridges ran from the walkway Jane stood on and joined to a twin walkway along a building across from her and the Spartan. There was little railing to keep them safe from slipping into the water below. Jane peered down. She realised she might have been a little in-over-her-head here. A fall like that would very likely kill her, and if not, she wasn’t willing to risk it. She leaned back against the building wall behind her.

“Stay there,” said the Chief.

If there was any order Jane was going to disobey in her life as a marine, it was not this one. The Scarab came in from the left. It was treading through the water down below about to pass beneath them. The Spartan continued.

“We won’t evade those plasma repeaters if it sees us.”

While Jane understood what the Chief was saying, she didn’t see the solution. How were they to get to Covenant carrier’s gravity lift with this invulnerable Scarab walking about. Just as Jane was having these thoughts, the giant machine passed under a bridge in front of them. The Spartan’s boots clanked loudly as he sprinted forwards over the bridge. Then, he jumped.

Jane looked onwards in shock. The Master Chief dropped right off the bridge down onto the Scarab below. The mechanical walker looked different from up above. Its body reminded Jane of a picnic basket. She knelt down on the uncomfortable grating and shuffle forwards to get a better view as the Scarab kept walking. Elites, Grunts and Jackal Scouts spilled out over top of the Scarab from a doorway that lead into it. The Master Chief engaged in a firefight with them, firing his shotgun while strafing left and right to avoid Covenant fire. From up above, the skirmishers looked like flies on a dog’s back, but Jane could still tell who was winning. Once the Spartan had eliminated his targets, he entered the doorway into the centre of the big bug. The Scarab got further away from Jane as it trod forwards through the canal.

A Pelican flew in over the bridge before Jane after she had been distanced from the Scarab. This variant of the UNSC Pelican had a heavy machine gun and missile launcher at the front. Jane was sure it was going to engage the Scarab in battle, but instead, it turned its passenger compartment towards her.

“No!” Jane uttered in surprise at what she saw inside.

Every seat in the compartment bar one was occupied by a marine. Jane looked at the faces. She recognised Sergeant Banks, Sergeant Stacker, Corporal Perez, Private Ortiz, Private Newton and Private Saito all alive and well. Saito was a little drained of colour and held his arm in a sling, but considering Jane had assumed him dead, he was looking more spritely than ever. She realised she had left him for dead. Had Ortiz and Newton not been present, no one would have gone back for the man. If Saito had died, that would have been on Jane. She was relieved to see him alive, but at the same time, she felt a unpleasant pinch at the bottom of her stomach. Her head went cold as she stared at the marine she’d met on Cairo. Finally, she started laughing.

“We’re detecting movement from the Covenant carrier,” Banks told the laughing marine with a quizzical expression. “Commander Keyes thinks it’s starting its engines. Get in, marine. We’re leaving this sector.”

Jane stepped up into the Pelican and sat in the remaining free seat. The dropship then flew over the canal to the Scarab. The walker had stopped moving, and now stood drooped over with its legs bent. It had been immobilised. Jane watched the Master Chief step out onto the roof of the Scarab as the Pelican was lowered towards him. As it swung around to let him in, Jane noticed the purple beam below the Covenant carrier begin to fade away. It was drawing in its gravity lift.

The voice of Sergeant Major Johnson barked from the Pelican’s cockpit.

“That’s right, motherfuckers! Run!” He yelled.

“Not if we can help it, Sergeant,” transmitted Miranda Keyes. “Return to In Amber Clad.”

“Roger that,” he replied.

The Spartan stood upright within the compartment, gripping the mesh below the Pelican’s ceiling as it soared high into the sky toward the UNSC frigate which flew in the direction of the Prophet of Regret’s carrier. Just as Jane planted her feet on the floor of In Amber Clad’s hangar, the voice of Fleet Admiral Lord Hood spoke over the open com channel.

“Status?” Hood asked.

“Sir, the Prophet is bugging-out.” Keyes replied, “Request permission to engage.”

“Negative, Commander. I'll vector two heavies for starside intercept.”

Jane stumbled her way looking for a safer section of the ship as it continued flying. Meanwhile, Keyes piloted the In Amber Clad from within the bridge at the front of the frigate. Lord Hood’s face appeared over a digital screen before her. She watched through the front window as the Covenant carrier began gliding toward the space elevator. A nearby officer sitting in front of his own control panel called to the Commander from his station.

“Ma,am, slipspace rupture off the target's bow! It's going to jump inside the city!”

Miranda turned back to the screen in front of her.

“There’s no time, sir!”

“Green light!” Hood replied. “Green light to engage!”

“Punch it!” Keyes yelled to her bridge crew. “Get us close.”

“Ma,am, without a destination solution-“ the officer began.

“We are not losing the ship!” She cut him off.

A small blue light appeared like a twinkling star at the front tip of Regret’s carrier. It grew rapidly in diameter until it formed a ring around the front of the ship. It was a tear in slipstream space. The carrier launched itself forward, propelling into the blue unknown of slipspace and disappeared from the cityscape. Miranda Keyes’ In Amber Clad thrust forward closely behind it. The tear flashed closed just as the UNSC frigate slipped through. This was the first case ever that the UNSC knew of in which a spaceship, and now two spaceships, had jumped into slipspace from within atmosphere. Just as the tear closed, it unleashed an explosive blast of energy. Blue light shone in the sky where the carrier had been like a second sun. Its energy swept over the city. The space elevator creaked and bent in reaction to its force. Cars, trucks, trees and other objects were lifted off the ground by the blast and launched away from the centre of the city. The entire metropolis was submerged in blue light before it eventually faded.

For the first time in history, the city of New Mombasa now lay completely silent.

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