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WHA?! Yes, that's right, Dannoh403, trying out this old series. Gosh I've written more of these than there have been SAW movies. Let me know down below if you enjoy, or if I should let the series lay to rest.

For those of you who haven't read the previous stories, this is set in the HALO universe. No copyright infringment is intended, and that doesn't even matter since I'm making no money off of this. Squad 403 was created by me, the characters are my own, and have no relation to any person's living, dead, undead, or pulled out of perdition by an angel. 


The Road So Far (Prologue)Edit

Alex-712  is the leader of a squad of Spartans, genetically altered and highly trained soldiers, who have been outfitted with unique combat armor. Over his years of service, Alex has seen plenty of good soldiers die, along with good friends. Currently, the members of his squad include Andrew, Nikki, and Eden. 

In the last story, the team's "Pelican" drop ship was shot down behind enemy lines. They manage to survive, very action hero style, but in the process, Alex loses his arm to a Covenant Elite's energy sword.

Our story begins, with a routine military operation. 

Chapter 1: Alex-712's P.O.V.Edit

"Hunter! 10 o' clock!" I hear Andrew shouting at me. I make sure my sniper rifle has a full clip, checking the blue interace in the top right of my Heads-Up-Display. Three shots left in my rifle's clip. It's not much, but if I use it right, I could bring down the behemoth armored alien lumbering towards me. I turn to where A-K (our nickname for Andrew, since he never shuts up about ancient human weapons) indicated the Hunter was, and boy do I see it. It stands around 8 feet tall, one arm boasting a gigantic green cannon and the other holding a massive shield in front of itself. I can barely make out the areas where the worm colony controlling the creature is visible through the imperfections in the armor; I doubt I can aim a proper shot at the chinks.

"I need a clearer shot!" I shout at AK, who nods and fires his SAW machine gun at the monster. The bullets bounce harmlessly off it's armor, but AK's got the Hunter's attention now. He (It?) turns toward him, and I pull the trigger, but I also don't feel it. 

I imagine myself pulling it, and will my finger to do so, but I don't actually feel my finger pressing the trigger. I don't feel the sniper rifle buck against my shoulder; however, it stays steady. I don't feel these things because I don't have a finger to pull the trigger with, or a shoulder for the rifle to buck against. All that is there is a metallic, cybernetic attachment made to look like an arm that they surgically wired to my brain. It works fine, and it's extremely mobile; unfortunately, it just feels wrong. 

The bullet I fired is a bit off, but it still impacts the Hunter's exposed abdomen. Orange goo and worm bits explode out the other side, and the creature stumbles. Before it can react, I put two more rounds into it's belly, but it remains standing. The Hunter roars in some sort of defiant, angry growl, and then levels it's cannon, which I didn't notice was charging. However, the shot of green plasma doesn't arc towards me, but AK. 

He's too busy dodging the Hunter's advance, he doesn't see the shot coming, until it impacts. His shields shatter under the direct hit and he stumbles to his knees. "AK!" I shout, switching to my assault rifle and desperately  peppering the Hunter to attract it's attention. 

But to no avail. The behemoth raises it's shield arm over my partner and friend's head, and brings it down like a club. I can hardly watch as AK's helmet caves under the blow. His visor shatters. His arms go limp. His chest deflates and I know he's gone. 

I scream at the alien in the sort of deranged primal scream that humans are known to utter when they have lost something that keeps them tethered. Something that's been holding them back from complete insanity. I drop my AR and activate my energy sword. It's yellow glow bathes the area around me like a sunset. I run at the Hunter, but a strong, inhuman arm grabs my Recon design helmet from behind. I'm thrown backwards onto the hard metal floor and see the face of one of my older archenemies. Last time I saw the Elite I only knew as the Ascetic, he had my energy sword buried in his chest. 

"Did you miss me?" he says, and plunges an energy dagger into my visor.

Chapter 2: Not One Bit Sorry About That First Chapter ^^ (Alex's POV)Edit

I sit bolt up right in the simulation room in the UNSC Philadelphia. I immediately take in my surroundings, and check to make sure the dagger is gone. It was never there. The combat simulations were designed to be so realistic that we forgot that they weren't real. AK strolls into the room, arms crossed. "And how exactly do you explain that?" he asks, nodding his helmet at me expectantly. 

"Explain...what?" I say, dazed. How did the techinicians work The Ascetic into my combat simulation? And furthermore, why did they program him speaking to me? The simulations were generally just enemies. Physical combat, not mental. 

"You froze up out there!" AK half-shouts, bringing me back to reality, "After I went down, thanks for the cover, by the way, you completely froze! You didn't move until a freaking Grunt took you down! We didn't even complete the mission, whereas Eden and Nikki sent a record time. Do better, sarge."

"Froze? Did you not see what happened out there?" I ask, rubbing my close-shaved head, blinking my eyes rapidly. 

"See what? You alright there?" he says, concern seeping into his voice.

"Yeah, fine, must have been a glitch in the system. I'll talk to the techies later," I say, and Eden and Nikki suddenly walk in.

"Hey slowpokes," Nikki says, looking at a data pad with our scores on it, "Oh wait, not slow, 'Did Not Complete Mission'." The two spartans shake their heads, chuckling. 

"What exactly happened?" Eden says, squinting, "I mean, you guys never beat us, but you always finish the objective."

"Technical glitch," I lie again, whatever happened was no glitch, "I think I got a bad batch of the simulation serum." 

"Uh huh, well, make all the excuses you want, I'm going to go get some grub," Nikki says, though something about the way she looks at me makes me think she isn't buying my subterfuge. AK and Eden follow, but I opt to stay back for a minute. 

After they're a safe distance down the hall, I immediately call up the same simulation and plug myself in. I sit on the table and insert the IV into my skin. I see the serum slide down into my arm, and the world disappears.

Chapter 3: Confrontations (Alex's POV) (Felt like writing two chapters, sue me)Edit

I'm standing on a war torn battlefield. Dead bodies, human and alien, surround me. I'm holding a shotgun, there's a Designated Marksman Rifle on my back, and a pistol on my leg. And of course my sword. I bring up my shotgun and swing it around, checking for enemies. The field is relatively flat, and I don't see anything. That's when an elite in the corner of my vision stands up and fires a fuel rod at my face. 

I hit the ground hard, and watch the green, sizzling plasma streak past me, exactly where my head had been. I dropped my shotgun, so I grab my pistol and put about five rounds into the elite. Its shields pop, and the last bullet impacts his brain and he goes down. 

I hear something like faraway artillery fire. Then I notice it's closeby clapping. "Braavo," says The Ascetic from a few feet away. 

"You," I growl, igniting my sword in one hand and aiming my pistol with the other, "What are you doing here?" 

"Amazing you're still self-aware in these simulations," he says, not answering my question, "Most impressive."

In response, I fire my pistol. His shields don't even flicker. Of course they don't. I had to electrocute him to take down his shields the first time I killed him. "You're dead."

"And apparently I'm not. Funny how that happens. Wasn't easy though, lots of hiding. I had to wait until the perfect moment to come out and start looking for you," he says pointedly. 

"Well, you can't do much but lower my simulation scoring from in here," I chuckle, firing another useless round at his head. 

"But this way I can learn your new weaknesses. We've been apart for far too long, you wretched Demon," he says, in a mock inviting tone. "I'm not much danger, but in here you're also completely armless to me."

I grimace. Of course the simulation left me with my mechanical arm. As if it didn't bother me enough in the real world. "Not much help unless you can sneak onto a heavily guarded UNSC frigate in deep space."

"Sneak on? Nooo, I thought I'd just walk in through the hole my ship's about to blast in your hull. See you then," he says, then he's gone. My training kicks in and I can tell he is behind me. I try to turn but he plunges his sword through my chest. "See you on the other side."

I awake in the simulation room again, and can already  hear the blaring alarms and explosions. 

Chapter 3: Alex's POV (Sorry, it's a bit late)Edit

I sit up in the chair so fast the straps holding my wrists snap like twigs. Luckily I had been in a hurry to get into the simulation, so my armor is already on and in order. I grap my helmet my the table by the chair, make sure I have my sword and pistol, and set off towards the bridge. 

How in the world did the Ascetic manage to locate us in deep space? How did he hack his way into my simulation? How in the world am I going to kill that little punk a second time? Lots of questions run through my mind as quick and aimless as me running the halls. Strange how blaring alarms and the threat of imminent destruction tend to throw off one's sense of direction. I slow my pace, jabbing at the controls on my TACPAD. Three green blips appear on my screen, and my first guess says they're on the bridge. 

I push a button and an objective marker appears on my visor's HUD. The tiny arrow reads "403 meters".

Great. 

I dash through hallways, following my minimap to the objective. Every now and then I see marines in hastily donned armor run past me, carrying everything from medical equipment to pistols. Even more eventful is when a plasma bolt strikes the ship, melting a few feet of the outer hull. Someday our factories might decide to implement shields into our frigates like the covies do, but today is not that day. Until then, I have to hope the hull is thick enough not to fall apart under the intense heat of the plasma fire. 

After what feels like two eternities, I throw myself through the doors of the bridge, snapping off a quick salute to the captain. "Sir," I say, catching my breath. 

"At ease, Lieutenant," he grumbles, looking down at his data pad. "We're initiating Cole Protocol."

"Cole Prot-" I sputter, wrapping my head around the idea, "You're gonna blow up the Philidelphia?"

"We're carrying a somewhat, sensitive package we don't want the covies getting their hands on," he explains, "But no, we're not going to blow up the ship. We're taking a slipspace trip, but we're not putting any co-ords in the computer."

"That could put us literally anywhere," says Eden, who had apparently been listening, "The covies just dig out this 'sensitive package' from a planet we smash into," 

"It's a chance we have to take," the captain says, straightening his back, "In the meantime, we need your squad, spartan-712, to get the ship's AI out of here." The Artificial Intelligence, the somehow sentient computers that maintained the ships functions. An AI could be life or death in a combat situation, since they could offer crucial advice. Some of them, however, could prove to be insufferable. 

"Of course, sir," I say, "Are we planning to dispose of it?" 

The captain shakes his head, "No, spartan, you've got to make sure nothing bad happens to this AI. It is our sensitive package, seeing as it's not our tech."

"What?" says AK, suddenly intent on our orders as well. "You're saying it's covenant?"

"Actually," Nikki says, looking up from a datapad, "this says you found it on a Halo installation? Forerunner technology, and you want one of us carting in around in our helmets?"

The captain purses his lips and focuses on his boots, "That information is classified, but since I probably won't live to regret saying it: yes, it is Forerunner.  We have no idea what sort of secrets it has on it. We need to get it back to Earth, where it can be safely analyzed."

I look at my assembled team. If anything goes wrong, that AI could lose it and disintegrate it's user, or all of us, depending on it's mood. I've risked a lot for a lot less, but I simply can't risk the lives of all my friends and squadmates at the hands of a possibility. Or can I? That AI could have valuable information, or it could just contain the universe's best apple pie recipe. Still, as a spartan, it's not my job to refuse orders. I stick my hand out to the captain, who pulls out a data chip from his pocket. 

"Godspeed, Spartan," he mutters, nodding. I take the chip and reach behind my head. I find the slot AI data chips generally get inserted into when needed, and click the small device into my head. 

And the world around me shatters. 

Chapter 4: Alex's POV (I'm writing this at midnight because I love you all.)Edit

It takes me almost too long to understand what is happening. Explosions surround me. The sounds of death and horror seem to be cut off suddenly. I see the bridge around me through a haze of orange light. After the shaking dies down, I take inventory of the situation. Somehow I'm on my back, but my boots have magnetized to the ground. Everything around me is charred black and belching smoke. Some sort of purple machinery lays in a heap against a wall. 

"Obviously one of those 'Covenant' pilots tried to pilot its craft into our vessel," says a stern, accented voice.

"Who said that?" I say suddenly, reaching for my pistol out of instinct. The image of a tall, well kept man appears on the floor in front of me. He glances at me quizzically, as if scanning me. Because of my disorientation, it takes me a moment to realize the man is entirely orange. And translucent.

"I did, of course," he says, "I am 7A22 Illusory Abnegation."

"And that means?" I ask, taking my finger off the pistol's trigger.

"I am the Artificial Intelligence that was given to you by the former captain of this vessel." says Illusory Abnegation, surveying the ruined deck.

"What do you mean former?" I ask, though I can tell by the carnage that the Captain is dead.

"I'm afraid him and the other deck officers perished. They do not possess the vacuum sealed helmets that you so called 'Spartans' own," the flickering man says, gesturing to three crumpled forms on the deck. "These others seemed to lost consiousness after that craft flew into the bridge. Their vital signs are normal for the situation."

The entire bridge crew. Dead. All of our intelligence, not to mention the only person with the authority to activate the Cole Protocol. If the Covies board the ship and find the navigational computers, then they'll have the coordinates to all of the UNSC's colonies. If this ship isn't destroyed or flown away, then humanity could fall in a matter of weeks. 

"You know that I can process your thoughts through your neural interface with me," Abnegation says softly, "And I understand your plight. I infer that it is now upon us and your three inert partners to destory this vessel?"

I straighten my back, and feel the bones in my spine pop in protest. I put the magnum on my hip and say to the AI, "That's exactly what we're going to do."

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