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~Chapter 19: The End~ Jackson opened the Pelican’s door, Banshees swarmed the sky. Every so often the sunlight was blocked by the aircraft's. His vision turned to the side, there; a Covenant Supercarrier drifted in the distance, plasma cannons fired upon the ground and the sky. “Jackson, close that door. We can’t risk Ash getting hit at all. She’ll die. I’ve managed to get her body into some kind of hibernation, but like I said. She can’t get hit, otherwise she’s done for.” Junior said, he stood up against Jackson. Almost all of their teammates were dead, killed, or injured because of this Spartan. Junior started to think they would’ve been better off without him. “I know.” Jackson said. He pulled down the Machine gun turret. It sort of just hanged there from the roof. He took one last look over at Ash, before he ripped the turret off and shut the Pelican’s doors, as then he proceeded to the top of the Pelican. Where he would meet his fate. The first thing he saw as the hatch opened, were eighteen Banshees. They all zoomed past him, none turned around and none stopped. “Caelin. How long before arrival?” Jackson asked as he stood on the hatch. The sky was full of Covenant, but they were all headed in one direction. “I presume twenty minutes, sir. That’s if no firefight’s are engaged, as well as this Pelican keeps up at this speed. This one wasn’t designed to go this fast, sir.” Caelin replied back. She maneuvered the Pelican underneath two Phantoms headed straight at them. Yet, they didn’t engage. They just continued on their path. Jackson turned around and headed to a seat in the Pelican as the hatch closed. “Archangel, anything new on the battlenet?” Frank asked. Seeing as how he was not capable of receiving anything. “Yes, it seems the fleet has arrived. Warlord is back, but they’re up in the atmosphere. I’ve managed to briefly contact them. We’ll need to use a Longsword back at the camp to get back, if not, we’ll look for the next closest thing.” Archangel said, as he remembered himself try to contact whoever shot the MAC rounds. “That makes more sense...” Junior spoke up. He turned and looked directly at Runner. “So, sweet cheeks. How’s it feel to no longer be the only female ODST, now that Anne has joined the team?” “I really do not care.” Runner replied, disgrace in her eyes. Junior just laughed. “Alright you guys, we are approaching camp. It’s under attack at the moment, so if we want out of here, we’re going to have to push through.” Caelin yelled from the cockpit doorway. Jackson, Archangel, Magnus, Runner, and Joseph stood at the doorway. Weapons ready, pointed out the hatch as it started to open. “Alrighty guys, you’re good to go. Secure us a Longsword.” Caelin and the pilot landed the Pelican, just as the five opened fire when they jumped out. Grunts and Jackals were everywhere. An occasional Elite showed his face for every 50 Grunts. “We stick together, covering fire in all directions. Let that be in front of us, or behind. You will open fire on the target.” Jackson ordered, he held his knife and ran it through an unsuspecting Jackals throat. The Longsword wasn’t very far away from where they landed. It was just swarmed in Covenant, and whatever remained of UNSC troops. Joseph ran up to an Elite, he pulled the trigger on his M60 as fast as he could before he had to swap magazines. The Elite was shieldless, but reached for his energy sword. Joseph noticed instantly. His thruster pack activated, and Joseph slammed right into the Elite. Knocking it on the ground and out cold. “Caelin, we’re at the Longsword. Archangel is inside, setting up the controls. Runner is in there with him, for cover protection against any unseen enemies. Magnus, Joseph, and I are all eliminating what threats are left. I advise you head here now.” Caelin could hear the rapid gunfire in the conversation with Jackson. She turned and looked at the others. “They’re ready.” Junior and Zeff looked at her. “Frank, help cover fire with Junior and lead the way for Zeff and me while we carry Ash. Anne, cover our backs please.” They all looked at her, but none of them argued. They couldn’t lose their leader right now, and this plan seemed pretty solid for a two minute walk. They pushed through the wreckage. Vehicles were on fire, damaged, or unharmed. All in variety, Covenant and UNSC. A ghost laid underneath a hornet, and a Phantom’s ruins were crashed on top of a Scorpion. “What happened here, happened fast.” Junior spoke to the group, he aimed his shotgun at every corner. “Yeah, no kidding. This place is a complete mess compared to what was here yesterday. I never thought something like this could’ve happened the very next morning. It’s unbelievable.” Zeff was saying as he carried Ash over his shoulder. He looked at everything. It was like one of those horror scenes of a wreckage. An ear-piercing scream was heard from their left. Which distracted everyone and made them turn to look. A Marine ran through the wreckage, engulfed in flames, the smell of his burnt flesh immediately filled the air. “You gotta, you guys gotta help me! The... They’re destroying everything, they’re coming for you next! They’re... They’re... They appear out of nowhere! You gotta run while you still can!” Junior shot the Marine. “Good call, corporal. I would’ve done the same if it was you.” Zeff sounded astonished. “There it is, the Longsword awaits us.” Caelin pointed at it. Two Phantoms flew overhead and dispersed troops. Jackals, Grunts, and an Elite. The other one let out two Hunters. “We need to move fast, and now.” Caelin helped Zeff run with Ash, ensuring her safety. Jackson, Magnus, and Joseph ran up and shot the Covenant as they ran to cover Ash. Frank and Anne stopped to help. Jackson deployed a Drop Shield just as the Hunters fired their charged assault beam. Allowing Frank to pull the trigger on the sticky detonator that was attached to one of them. As the shield dropped, he fired another and instantly detonated it upon impact. “All clear!” Frank exclaimed and headed towards the Longsword, just before he noticed a Spirit come in at a ludicrous speed. He looked up in horror. The Brute Chieftain was the only one on deployment. “Everyone, stand clear of the targets drop zone!” Jackson barked the order, then jumped back about ten feet away from the zone. The Chieftain jumped out, and swung his hammer, to see who was close. Which was no one. Everyone opened fire, as it ran. Archangel came out of the Longsword bay on the exit strip. Jackson lowered his Battle Rifle, and looked up in horror. He screamed, but no words came out. He only heard Archangel’s. “Zeff! Look out!” Zeff turned around to look, dropping Ash on Caelin. Which did some damage to both of the two. The Chieftain swung his hammer at the left side, where Ash was, and hit Zeff in the same area Ash was hit. Except a lot worse, since this was the other side of the hammer. Zeff looked up at the Brute. There was nothing he could do at this point. This was his grave. His teammates rounds did nothing. The Brutes shields still flickered. They couldn’t kill him in time to save him. There was only one thing he could do. Finish his mission, which was to protect Ash. His arm fell to his belt, he remembered his one and only spike grenade. This was to be used on Lan Chorus as an alternate plan to kill him, if they were to ever find him. There was no choice now. He wouldn’t be there to see that damn wretched Elite fall. With little will to do so, Zeff grabbed the grenade. His body screamed not to do it, but he must. It was his duty. The Brute held the hammer over his head now, going in for the swing. Zeff looked up at him, and activated the spike grenade and slammed it into the Brute's chest. The Chieftain startled backwards, fear showed on his face. He swung his hammer, but the grenade detonated. Spikes cleared open the Brutes chest and armor, and a few blew into Zeff’s head. It killed both of them. “Zeff!” Jackson yelled as he ran over to him, he saw the slots where the spike went inside his head. It was done, Zeff was gone. So was the Chieftain. Jackson grabbed Zeff’s tags, with sorrow, and slowly stood up. “Jackson, let’s go now! Prometheans are starting to show up!” Archangel ran over to him and yelled at him. Jackson heard the Prometheans, and ran back inside the Longsword where everyone was waiting. Caelin had her right arm broke and the wrist. Ash was buckled up safely, and all who didn’t have a place to sit, stood and held on tight. “Sir, shall we go?” Frank asked. “Yes. Take us to UNSC Ambient. They need the medical attention.” Jackson grumbled, Archangel could tell he was not happy with this recent event of Zeff. He was a good soldier, and died doing his job. He respected that, but there was no way he could ever repay him. Frank pulled them into the atmosphere where all their fleets ships laid out, opening fire on opposed Covenant ships. UNSC Ambient was the furthest away, but out of range of the battle. That was their target, and that’s where they are going to head. They all sat in silence as Frank guided the ship towards their safety, and away from this vicious Brute world. First Dexter, then Michael, now it’s Zeff. Jackson was ready to say his motivational speech when they got back. More than ready. He looked over at Ash, who was still unconscious but miraculously still alive. She was like a sister to him. They were all like brothers and sisters to him. They were his family. From where he comes, his duty is to protect his family. Which is exactly what Zeff had done for them. ~End of Chapter 19~