Spender: Exactly! Right now we are still in the preliminary stages of infiltration and expansion of the UNSC Military. However, this operation is proving to be very risky. The UNSC is aware that The Insurrection is receiving outside help…and The Board of Chairmen has become worried. They are worried that The UNSC will discover The Trust Syndicate, and they are worried The UNSC will lash out at us and wipe us out. In my opinion, The Board of Chairmen simply cannot take the pressure…and they are starting to buckle. They are inching closer and closer to a total withdrawal from this operation. This would mean that we would have invested considerable resources and manpower…for nothing. I am unwilling to cancel this operation…but The Board of Chairmen is just about to collectively pull the plug.
Novak: You are worried that a withdrawal would cripple us…leave us without any gain…and total losses?
Novak: I can see where you are coming from. This could be very bad for us. If we cannot reap any potential gains from our investments…it could cripple our organization! However, at the same time…if you try to eliminate The Board of Chairmen…our organization could be fractured. Either way…we are looking at the destruction of The Trust.
Spender: It is why I need ODST Black Team…I need them to stop The Board of Chairmen...I need them to act as the Sword of Damocles to any soul that would threaten The Trust from the inside!
Novak: Sir…what you are suggesting is outrageous. Do you honestly think you can fight The Board of Chairmen? Do you honestly think you can beat them?
Spender: I do believe I can fight the entire Board of Chairmen. I believe I can get The Trust back on track to becoming what it was intended to be; an organization that shapes the future of mankind.
Novak: In that case sir, I will do my best to develop Black Team. However…we are on a dangerous path sir…the future is very uncertain. I have always had confidence in your ability to lead...and so long as you think you can get us back on track...you will have my support. However, like I said...the future is very uncertain.
Spender: Let me worry about that, Doctor. Leave all of the complicated planning to me. I have been through much worse in the past.
UNSC Marathon Class - The Ulterior Motive - Tye's Private Quarters - 16 Hours Later - Currently in Slipstream Space en-route to The Apex - 0700 Hours - April 19th 2015.
Tye awoke in his room. He had started to wake up from one of the deepest sleeps he had ever fallen into. His vision was blurry, and he felt very light headed. He looked around the room. He knew where he was, and who he was, but he could not remember how he got here.
Tye managed to climb back to his feet. He winced because he still had a splitting head ache.
Tyber: God…I feel like garbage.
Tye shook his head.
Tyber: I better go and see Novak. I hope he knows what is going on with me…
Tye walked out of his room, and walked through the corridors of The Ulterior Motive. As he walked, he noticed that the halls were very quiet. There were no officers in the corridors. Tye reasoned that most of the officers on the ship may have been at their stations.
Tye eventually found his way to the medical bay. He walked in, and he found Novak at his desk, working.
Novak looked up at Tye.
Novak: Lt. Vernette…what brings you here?
Before Tye could answer, he stumbled forward, and collapsed onto the ground.
Novak jumped up and ran around his desk and knelt down next to Tye. The first thing he did was check his pulse.
Novak: His pulse is erratic…something is terribly wrong!
Novak grabbed Tye and lifted him back to his feet, and dragged him over to one of the beds. Novak lifted Tye up onto the nearest bed, as he checked for breathing, by lifting his chin and tilting his head, to clear the air ways. Tye was no longer breathing. Novak immediately knew that Tye was going into cardiac arrest.
Novak then tapped his earpiece.
Novak: All medical staff the med bay…we have a Code Blue. All medical staff…we have a Code Blue!
He could see Tye still had his BDU on, as he had never taken it off. Novak sighed, as he began to tear open the BDU, and pull it off. Novak managed to expose Tye’s bare chest. Novak immediately hook up the heart rate monitor.
Novak: Damn it. Hang in there, Lieutenant. The last thing I need is to have your death on my head.
Novak moved around the bed and grabbed a shot of adrenaline. He hit Tye up with the shot, but he did not notice any change in his condition. Novak watched Tye’s heart rate continue to fall. Tye was rapidly going into cardiac arrest. His heart rate was falling at an erratic pace.
Novak turned and grabbed the defibrillator from beside the bed. He began to charge the paddles. He applied the paddles to Tye’s chest, and allowed the defibrillator to analyze Tye’s heart rate, and calculate the correct voltage. Novak hit Tye with a jolt from the defibrillator unit, but Tye was still unresponsive.
Novak then watched as Tye flat lined.
Novak: Oh no…
Novak began to charge the paddles again, as he once again hit Tye with a jolt from the defibrillator unit. Tye was still unresponsive.
Novak: God damn it kid...common…
Novak hit Tye with another jolt from the defibrillation unit. This time, Tye’s heart rate began to normalize, and he began to breath.
Novak: Thank God…
Novak stepped back as Tye began to breath, and his heart rate began to stabilize. Novak shook his head in disbelief.
Novak watched Tye for several moments, as Tye slowly came back around. Tye tried to sit up, but Novak stopped him.
Novak: Hey, hey…chill…take it easy Lieutenant. You just had a really rough ride.
Tyber: What the hell happened?
Novak: You collapsed…you nearly died. I managed to…well…keep you alive.
Novak: You walked into the med bay…and you collapsed…
Tyber: I…I did…I was feeling like crap…so I came here…
Novak: And you collapsed…
Tyber: I collapsed…cause I was feeling like crap…yes…
Novak: Lieutenant, are you alright? You seem a little...distant. You don't seem like you are all here.
Tye shook his head.
Tyber: No…I am not alright…I am far from it. I nearly died just now…that is not alright!
Tye’s voice had a tone of anger and frustration. He was starting to get angry. Tye’s then closed his eyes as he laid back down, as his head started to hurt, and his heart began to race.
Tyber: What the hell is going on with me?
Novak thought for a moment.
Novak: Lieutenant…what were you doing before you came in here? Be very specific.
Tye tried his best to think. He recalled that, before he passed out, he was raging against his brother.
Tyber: I was…I was…
Tyber: I was…thinking back…remembering something that was…very unsettling. I was angry…upset. I was not in the best of moods.
Novak: You were angry?
Tyber: Yes…I was really angry…I was livid…I felt like I just wanted to…to fucking kill him. It was…really satisfying…but…it wasn’t right.
Tye didn't answer. Instead, Tye sighed. Novak began to think. He rubbed his chin, and he turned away to hide a look of concern. He thought for a moment, and then turned back.
Novak: That is very odd Lieutenant.
Tyber: Doc…I started feeling this way when you hit me with that…cardiac regulator…that stuff you injected me with yesterday…the syringe that was labeled with the number “6”. It started almost immediately. What happened? Did I have a reaction?
Novak: Perhaps. You might have taken a reaction to it. I am not sure. It may have been stress related or it may just be something you were never able to handle that we never knew about. Either way, we will get to the bottom of it.
This was a lie. Novak knew exactly what was wrong with Tye, he was just not allowed to admit it for fear of disrupting the project and his efforts.
Novak: Let me run some more tests on you. I need to narrow down this problem before it gets serious.
Tyber: I cannot operate like this! Whatever is going on…you have got to fix this. Otherwise…I am useless to this team. If I can't cut loose and do my job on the field...
Novak: Don't worry Lieutenant. We will figure it out.
Novak nodded, and walked off. Tye, on the other hand, stayed where he was, and laid back down on the bed he was on.
Novak returned to office, and sat down behind his desk. He called up Tye's medical files on his laptop. Novak began to think to himself.
Novak: It seems the Lieutenant is reacting in a very negative way to his current treatment plan. While it is clear the desired effects are there...there seem to be side effects that are manifesting. It is very clear what happened to him; his body is rejecting the drugs. Everything was fine in the first round of treatments...but the second round was just...a complete failure. Perhaps I will forego any further drug trials for him, and strictly focus on the less intensive psychological conditioning. My best bet is to keep him under observation until his own body is able to purge the rejected drugs out of his system. However...I think he is past the worst of it now...
Novak paused in his train of thought.
Novak: I think I should also check on the rest of Black Team. Hopefully they are still on track. However...I will let them come to me. They should be due within the hour, and I would prefer not to leave with Tye on the mend.
UNSC Marathon Class - The Ulterior Motive - The Mess Hall - Currently in Slipstream Space en-route to The Apex - 0800 Hours - April 19th 2515.
The rest of Black Team was sitting in the mess hall. They were busy eating breakfast, and they were discussing the coming day.
Jonas: So...what do you guys think the good Doctor has in store for us today?
Evan: I don't know...but it sure as hell is going to be another trip through hell…or paradise depends on how you look at it.
Archimedes: I would call it paradise. It gives a chance to cut loose.
Jonas: I still don't understand why we need further training. That still gets me.
Eli: Well, you know what the brass said; we will be going up against steep odds. They want us to be prepared.
Jonas: We are prepared! We were in The ORION Project! It does not get any more prepared then that!
Eli: To be honest...I think it does.
Kraven: What do you mean Eli?
Eli: Do you guys ever wonder why they canned The ORION Project? I mean...it was successful. The ORION Projected created a whole generation of amazing soldiers with amazing talents and capabilities...only to be canned. Why?
The other four remained silent.
Eli: That is just it...isn't it? We were never told why. We were cut loose, separated, we were all assigned different jobs in different parts of the military...and that was that.
Jonas: What are you getting at Eli?
Eli: I am saying...there is something we don't know. We were replaced...we just don't know by what.
Evan: Replaced by what? We were the apex. You can't get better than ORIONs.
Eli: I seriously doubt that.
Evan: Why? Do you think that because Doc Novak thinks he can make us better?
Eli: Doc Novak doesn't think he can make us better. He is convinced he can make us better. Someone that sure...KNOWS...SOMETHING...WE...DON'T!
Evan stopped to think.
Evan: Damn...you have a point Eli.
Jonas: I have to admit...I agree.
Archimedes: Yeah...that is kind of hard to ignore.
Kraven: Well...that makes four of us.
The four men exchanged looks between each other.
Jonas: Should we ask?
Eli: I think we all know the answer we would get.
Decker sighed. He continued to eat.
Eli: Well...at least we are getting a second chance…the chance to actually serve the way we were supposed to serve.
Kraven: Here, here!
The group continued to eat, eventually finish their meals, and leaving the mess hall to check in with Doctor Novak, as was the routine every day.
When ODST Black Team had entered the Med Bay, they immediately saw Tye laying on one of the beds.
Eli: Tye!? What the hell happened?
The entire group walked over to Tye. Tye sat up on his side and looked at the rest of Black Team.
Tyber: Well...funny things actually...I...well; I walked in here...and I...
Tye was interrupted by Doctor Novak, who had heard Black Team enter the med bay.
Novak: The Lieutenant is feeling a bit under the weather.
Tyber: Under the weather my ass. I almost died.
Eli: What do you mean?
Novak: It is not of any serious concern. My analysis showed that Lieutenant Vernette was simply over-exerted yesterday. We pushed him a little too hard, and so his physiology pushed back.
Kraven: So...what does that mean? Is he going to be alright? Is he going to be removed from the team?
Tyber: Fat chance in hell.
Novak: No. It means that I have to re-evaluate how much I am pushing The Lieutenant, and at what rate I am doing it. I cannot expect him to double his peak performance in a week. It cannot be done...and we found that out the hard way. We just need to scale things back for him, and push him slower, over a greater amount of time. Remember...he is not augmented like the rest of you.
Jonas: Are you saying that we are going to have to slow the training regiment down?
Novak: Well...yes. It will. Things will have to slow down...or we run the risk of causing serious harm to The Lieutenant.
Jonas sighed. Evan and Kraven didn't react. Archimedes, on the other hand, spoke up.
Archimedes: I don't think Admiral Spender is going to like that too much. He seems like the type of person who expects results, and does not tolerate setbacks. Has he been informed about this?
Novak: For your information, Mr. Drake...that is not something you need to worry about. The fact of the matter is we are simply going to have to adjust the training regimen.
Jonas looked at Tye.
Jonas: Look...I think I speak for the entire team when I say that I don't want things to slow down. I don't think Tye wants that either. We knew, right from the start that Tye was going to have trouble keeping up. We all knew that things were going to be tough on him. However, he accepted that challenge, and I think he wants to stick with it!
Tyber: I could not of said it better myself! I can do it. Believe me...there won't need to be any slowdowns. I can handle it!
Tye forced himself back to his feet. His footing was a bit uneasy, but he got his strength back in very short order.
Tyber: I'm ready.
Jonas: You see Doc, that is dedication! If Tye was unwilling to stand up and face the challenges that he brought down on himself, I would argue that he has no place here. However...here he is, getting back on his feet, ready and willing to resume working with us. That is dedication Doc. That has to be respected!
Tyber: I am not going to let one isolated incident stop me!
Novak looked at Tye, and then spoke up.
Novak: You nearly died Lieutenant!
Tyber: Yes...and you were here, saving my life and doing your job! I nearly died...but I didn't die! I pulled through. That should tell you a thing or two about me, and my own resiliency!
Tyber: This was a minor setback is all. I can do this! Give me another chance! Don't change anything about what we are doing! Don't make it easier! Don't change a damn thing! I can do this!
Jonas stepped back. The rest of Black Team looked at Tye. Their facial expressions were ones of surprise. They did not expect this level of resiliency from Tye.
Novak: Lieutenant, are you sure about this?
Tyber: Yes. I can do this! I will shake this off. This will not affect my performance! I am ready!
Novak: Very well Lieutenant. Your next training simulation begins in an hour.
Novak sighed. He looked at Tye.
Novak: However, there are risks, and there are dangers. In the grand scheme, the risks and dangers are mine to evaluate, and yours to take. Perhaps this was an isolated incident, and perhaps it wasn't. We are going to find out for sure in the coming weeks. We will proceed as planned with no change. Report to the armory, get suited up, and report to the Simulation Deck at 0930 hours. Dismissed!
All of Black Team nodded, and saluted.
Jonas: Yes sir.
Jonas turned, and walked off. The rest of Black Team followed behind him.
Novak sighed, as the six ODSTs left the Medical bay.
Novak: That was a close one. There were too many close calls in one day. I have lies to cover up more lies. I cannot wait for this to be over and done with. I am telling these men one thing, to cover up another thing that I am not telling them. It is enough to give anyone a head ache...
Novak sighed again, as he returned to his desk, and began to look over Tye's medical records. He knew the situation with Tye was only going to get more complex. He knew he was now in rocky waters. One mistake on his part could blow the lid off of the entire process.
Black Team, on the other hand, was on their way to the armory.
Tyber: Thanks for the support guys!
Jonas: No problem Tye.
Kraven: Well, the fact that you are willing to keep with us despite what just happened to you...that takes serious guts. That is exactly what this team needs!
The six men entered the armory, and began to gear up.
Eli: I knew from the start that you had what it took to be on this Team Tye. I never doubted that you had the metal to be here.
Tye nodded, as he continued to gear up.
Tyber: Well, I need to walk the walk if I am going to talk the talk.
Tye laughed as he continued to suit up. He was in the process of strapping his boots into place.
Evan: Well, let’s just hope you don’t run into any more problems. It would be a real shame if you had to drop out becomes of some stupid limitation.
Tyber: The only thing that is going to get me off this team is death. There is no way in hell I am going to let something as tiny as a near-death experiences keep me down.
Jonas: Famous last words.
Tyber: Put them on my tombstone!
Tye was still in the process of suiting up. He had just finished putting on his chest and shoulder gear. The only thing he was missing was his helmet, and his weapons. He was ahead of the others.
Tyber: You know…just out of curiosity…how are you guys finding your overall performance? Novak has been drugging you guys in order to increase your “physiological performance”. Have you guys noticed any real change?
The other five team members looked at each other.
Jonas: Well…I have not really noticed.
Evan: Ummm…now that I think about it…not really.
Kraven: Nope. The only thing that is different is how much we are enjoying these scenarios. We talked about this yesterday, and we all agreed that killing these simulated guys can be kind of fun. When it comes to actually putting these guys down...there is nothing to think about. Point and shoot.
Tyber: What do you mean?
Kraven: Exactly what I mean. These simulations that we are running are fun. We don't think twice about pumping holes in these simulated bad guys. To us...this seems like a very elaborate and sophisticated target practice, with objectives on the side.
Tyber: You mean...you guys never get pause at all the...realism? Just...point and shoot?
Kraven: Nope. The strange thing is, is that it is not the fact that we are fighting simulated soldiers either. I have done these simulations before, and I have always felt something. I have always taken that breath before making that kill. I have always flinched when I heard the sound of a bullet breaking the skin, or the sound of a man dying as the agony of his wound overcomes him.
Kraven: Now…I feel nothing, nothing at all. Now it is just point and shoot, and then move on. No flinching, no second thoughts. I have to admit…whatever Novak is doing to make us act this way is…incredible.
Tyber: That is very odd. It makes me wonder what Novak is doing.
Kraven: Who cares? As long as it works.
Evan: Well…Kraven isn’t the only one. I am the same way now. I never think about the people I kill anymore. I just don’t care. Before, I used to think about their families, their friends, the people they leave behind. Now…none of that matters.
Jonas: I also feel like this. It seems cold…but…I just don’t care about the repercussions of taking a life. I can always remember boot camp instructors yelling in my face about how taking a life is like playing God. The decision to end a life is one of the biggest we will ever make, and it never becomes easier. However...I am not so sure about that anymore..
Tye looked at Archimedes.
Tyber: What about you?
Archimedes shook his head.
Archimedes: Before I was taking lives. Now…now I am just doing a job.
Tye then looked at Eli.
Eli: Same thing with me Tye. This is just business now. I have no idea what has prompted the change…but…I find it to be far more liberating not having to wrestle with my conscious at night.
Tye looked at his team mates with a hint of concern.
Tyber: No offense guys…but that is REALLY screwed up! How are you guys going through these simulations without any second thoughts? Simulations or not…they are very real…very life-like. I have never done simulations where the training drones bleed to death in front of you! I have never done simulations where the training drones communicate, where they express such divergent personalities, or express such realistic emotion. It feels real…and you are all telling me that you feel nothing.
The other members of ODST Black team looked at each other. They then all looked back to Tye, and nodded.
Tye face palmed.
Tyber: I don’t know if I should be jealous or concerned. Perhaps I should be both?
Jonas shook his head.
Jonas: I would not worry Tye. We have already seen shit hit the fan in more ways you have. I am sure we are just more used to it.
Tyber: Perhaps. Perhaps not. All I know is that I don’t eat before coming in here. I made that mistake on day 1.
Tye shrugged, as he holstered his weapons. He then reached over, grabbed his helmet, and snapped it into place.
Black 6: Still…for people who have seen “shit hit the fan” in more ways than I have…you guys are sure as hell bloody slow gearing up.
Black 6 shrugged.
Black 6: I will meet you outside the Simulation Deck.
Black 6 gave an impromptu salute, and then left the armory. He proceeded to make his way towards the Simulation Deck. The rest of Black Team nodded, and continued gearing up. It did not take them much longer to finish gearing up, and report to the Simulation Deck.
Black team fully reunited outside the Simulation Deck, as they waited for their green light to begin.
Black 6: About time you guys showed up. I was worried I would have to make today’s run by myself.
Black 3: I wouldn’t go that far. There is no way we would let you have all the fun.
Black 6: Fun? That is an interesting choice of words Mr. Drake.
Just as Tye said this, all six members of Black Team were contacted over the comm. By Dr. Novak.
Novak: Black Team…do you copy?
Black 1: Affirmative Doctor. All points are present and accounted for.
Novak: Good. Today’s simulation is going to be an exciting one. Today…we are doing a mirror match.
Black 6: A What?
Novak: Lieutenant Vernette…are you familiar with the function of a mirror?
Black 6: Who isn’t?
Novak: I am glad to hear that. However…humor me. What does a mirror do?
Black 6 sighed.
Black 6: A Mirror shows a reflection of whatever is in front of it.
Novak: Precisely. Expand on that and think about what the notion of a mirror match could involve.
Black 6: One of two things; either we are killing a group of enemy contacts in a hall of mirrors, in which case, our scores will represent the compounded years of bad luck we will have from our rounds shattering mirrors left right, and center, or, we are looking at a six on six combat simulation, and our opponents will be each other. Both of those options sound pretty messed up.
Novak: You know...I like both of those descriptions. Remind me later to create the scenario that you are NOT doing today.
Black 5: So…which one is it? Which scenario are we running?
Novak: It will be a six verses six combat simulation. ODST Black Team…verses the newly created, and from this point known as, Black Sims. These Black Sims have been custom tailored to mirror each member of Black Team. As such, they have been aptly named Grey Team.
Black 2: To what end?
Novak: A baseline comparison to see how far you have come. The six simulated opponents have been outfitted them with skills and abilities that match what you were capable of when we first recruited you. They use your exact weapons, they will use your tactics, they will sound like you, move like you, they are as smart as you, and they even look like you. They can even lie to you and deceive you. You are, in essence, fighting your own past life experiences. I will not tell you how to beat them. I will not tell you what to expect. I will not even tell you how to anticipate and counter them…as you should know this already. Just know this; your Grey Team double will do what you do, they will follow you and do everything they can to take you down. There is no hiding from them...your double will find you no matter where you are on the ship.
Black 5: This is defiantly a nightmare come true.
Novak: You think that is bad? You have not heard the worst of it.
Black 4: It gets worse?
Novak: I have disengaged the safeties. It is now time for ODST Black Team to dance with death in a situation that is NOT in your favor, and that will NEVER be in your favor. Let’s see how good you six really are.
Black 5: Yeah, that did get worse.
Novak: It gets even worse.
Black 6: There is something worse than being killed by a simulated copy of myself?
Novak: The environment will be constantly shifting to put the situation in favor of your opponents. This simulation has been actively designed to kill you, and work against you. Just when you think you have the upper hand, you might find that, out of nowhere, the gravity in the room will double, and hinder your efforts. Hell…the gravity might even turn off, and you will find yourself in a situation where you are floating right out of cover in the middle of a fire fight.
Black 1: Shit…
Novak: But I am not done yet.
Black 3: Really? How much worse can it get?
Novak: Your simulated opponents have been outfitted with customized weapons. You will find that there are no ammunition drops available for you, but there is plenty for your opponents. Your ammo is finite…theirs is not.
Black 6: No big deal. All I need is to get my hands on one of the guns those simulated baddies are using.
Novak: You go ahead, and you try that. Let me know how that works out for you. Actually, on second thought, your vitals would tell me everything I need to know about how well that tactic worked out for you.
Black 6: Doc…you are trying to kill us!
Novak: I am simply following orders Mr. Vernette. I was ordered to create this scenario, and I was ordered to put you through it. I take no pleasure in this.
Black 6: Could have fooled me.
Novak sighed. A moment later, the door to the Simulation Deck opened. ODST Black Team looked inside, and they were met with an exact replica of The Ulterior Motive’s bridge.
Novak: Today’s map…is a new one we just finished. You will be fighting on a full scale simulation of The Ulterior Motive, and the surrounding space around it. Watch out for the hanger bays…they might just leave you breathless.
ODST Black Team all exchanged looks.
Novak: I am now ordering all six of you to enter the Simulation Deck…and begin the scenario.
One by One, ODST Black Team walked into the Simulation Deck. When they had all entered, the doors closed, and locked behind them, and the door vanished.
Black 1: Alright guys…standard formation. Black 2, Black 5…on point with me. Black 3, Black 4, provide support cover. Black 6, you are covering our six.
Black 1 raised his Assault rifle. ODST Black Team followed suit, and raised their weapons.
Black 1: Let’s move. Report anything out of the ordinary!
Black Team had left the bridge of the simulated Ulterior Motive, and began to move through the corridors. As they moved, they began to converse amongst themselves.
Black 2: This is so unreal. It is very eerie. It is unnerving.
Black 3: I think that is the point.
Black 4: No…the point is to kill us.
Black Team fell silent.
Black 6: We should try to stay focused. Distracting ourselves with this nonsense is counter-productive. We need clear heads if we are going to get through this.
Black 1: Agreed.
Black 5: With that said…does anyone have any suggestions for possible courses of action?
Black 6: I have been giving that some thought. We are fighting our own military experience. I don’t know about the rest of you…but my own military experience always told me that strength was in numbers in a hostile and uncertain situation.
Black 1: Same thing with us.
Black 6: So…we should not split up. We need to keep our cohesion if we are going to get through this. We need to be able to reply on each other, and trust one another. If we cannot do that, we are going to die.
Black 4: That is a good point. We need perfect chemistry and perfect cohesion. We need to work together.
Black 6: Exactly!
Black 6 paused.
Black 6: It is also safe to say that there are two people on this simulation deck that know each of us PERFECTLY…down to the slighting idiosyncrasy.
Black 5: Our simulated duplicates.
Black 6: Yes! We should try and take advantage of that! We can predict ourselves best. That is the key here!
Black Team nodded in agreement. They had their plan of action, and they were inclined to see it through. Black Team continued to move through the ship, keeping their eyes open for their opponents. However, minutes began to pas. Minutes turned into a quarter hour, and still, they were met by nothing...not even a single sound.
Black Team stopped when they reached the mess hall.
Black 1: We have yet to find any trace of these guys. So far...nothing.
Black 3: If they are as good as we are...then I am not surprised we are not finding any trace of them.
Black Team kept their eyes sharp. They feel silent, and they kept their wits. However, at that moment, they heard something.
Black 4: Listen...do you hear that?
Black Team fell silent. They could hear the feint sound of footsteps. The steps were moving slowly, and very cautiously, as if trying to avoid being heard. Black Team knew that this HAD to of been the simulated opponents they were told about.
Black 1 started to give out hand gestures to direct the rest of Black Team to take up position in the mess hall. Black Team was about to ambush their simulated opponents, and make this a quick a decisive kill. It only took Black Team a moment to take up defensive, and well concealed positions in the mess hall. They spread out, almost evenly, to avoid any potential collateral damage from explosive weapons.
All of Black Team waited. They heard the footsteps stop just outside the mess hall, but they could not see anything. The situation got tense, and their breathing began to slow, as the anticipation started to drill into their minds.
Just as Black Team started to get nervous, they saw several smoke grenades get tossed into the mess hall.
Grey 1: Smoke out! Move, move, move!
The Simulated members of ODST Black Team started to move into the mess hall. They were fully prepared for this type of combat environment, with their thermal imagining already enabled, and their weapons primed.
ODST Black Team had to break their focus to enable their Thermal Imaging. This slight distraction cost them a valuable advantage, as each member of Grey Team had moved in to engage their counter parts, and only their counter-parts.
Grey 1: Take your targets! You know which ones you are assigned to. Take them down!
Each member of ODST Black Team saw this, and they immediately found themselves in close-quarter combat with their counter parts. Grey Team had every intention of getting up close and personal.
Each member of ODST Black Team found themselves to be outmatched by their simulated counter parts in multiple ways. The Simulated counter parts were clearly moving faster than ODST Black Team was capable of. The reaction time of the simulated counter parts was better, the power behind their hits was greater, and ability to anticipate attacks was better. ODST Black Team found themselves in a situation where they could not capitalize against their opponents simply due to the fact that their simulated counter parts had perfectly executed their attack, their subsequent assault, and were able to anticipate every move that their respective originals could make. It was as if the reflection had jumped out of a mirror, and proved itself, in every way, your better.
Black 1 was the first to realize this, and he knew that a change in tactics was required. He knew that this was a losing fight, and that if something was not done, then they would all end up dead.
Black 1: ODST Black Team...fall back and re-group! Situation is deemed unattainable!
However, despite the order, Black Team found themselves having a vast amount of difficulty getting away from their opponents, as they were given no quarter, no breathing room. The simulated counter parts of ODST Black Team were many times more aggressive and unrelenting.
Black 5: Having a little trouble with that order! I can't get away from this guy! He just won't back the fuck off!
Every attempt that Black 5 made to try and hit his simulated counterpart was blocked and redirected. Black 5 was unable to land a single hit.
Black 2, on the other hand, was able to get away from his own simulated counterpart. Black 2, being the highly proficient with CQC, had very little difficulty dealing with his opponent. Black 2 was able to catch his simulated counterpart off guard, and trip him to the ground.
Black 2: Hold on!
Black 2 reached to his side, and drew his automag. He took aim at each of the other simulated counterparts, and fired a single round at each of them, impacting them right in the chest, knocking each of them back, causing them to stumble. This break in Grey Team’s attack, allowed for ODST Black Team to recover, and regroup. As each member of ODST Black Team found themselves with more room, they took aim with their weapons and laid down suppressing fire, forcing each of the simulated opponents into cover.
Black 1: Keep the fire up. We have to keep the hostiles in cover long enough to formulate a strategic retreat!
The rest of Black Team nodded, as the continued to fire. They started to back up, slowly moving out of the mess hall, as they continued to lay down suppressing fire.
Black 4: popping smoke!
Black 4 pulled out a smoke grenade, pulled the pin, and tossed it into the mess hall. The mess hall began to quickly fill up with smoke, as Grey Team was both under persistent fire, and now blinded by the thick grey smoke.
ODST Black Team, on the other hand, began to fall back, as they retreated, keeping tabs on the six. ODST Black Team managed to give their simulated opponents the slip, getting a much needed reprieve from their first encounter. However, ODST Black Team never stopped moving. They kept on the move, staying ahead of their simulated opponents.
Black 3: Did you guys see that? Those things were unbelievable. I do not remember being THAT aggressive.
Black 4: To be honest...I am not surprised. You heard what Novak said; he has stacked the deck against us. He has deliberately designed this scenario to test our limits.
Black 1: Yeah, well, how the hell are we going to beat these guys. They know our every move.
Black 6: Wait...hold on a second...
Black 1: What?
Black 6: Wouldn't that be their Achilles Heel?
Black 5: How so?
Black 6: Think about it. When we first engaged these...simulated soldiers...what was our first reaction? Naturally...we engaged our mirror. That is just human nature. We engaged the enemy we knew best, and that was ourselves.
Black 2: I have to agree with that.
Black 1: So, what do you suggest?
Black 6: Mix it up. We should change our targets. We should not be fighting ourselves, but rather, fight someone else on the team…someone else that we would have an advantage against in some way.
Black 4: I don't see how that helps. We go from fighting an enemy that knows everything about us, to an enemy we know nothing about.
Black 6: Exactly...that is where our advantage comes from. Think about it; we can either fight enemies that can counter our every move, or enemies who won't know what is coming at them. We know nothing about them, and they know nothing about us. Every man has his secret tricks of the trade that he never shares with anyone. This is the time to lay them all down on the table and pit them up against our opponent.
The rest of Black Team thought about it. One by one, they each nodded.
Black 6: There is only one thing we need to figure out...who takes who?
Each member of Black Team began to exchange looks. They each began to think about who would be best suited to take the other down. Each member of Black Team chimed in on this.
Black 1: Well...we have to take a very good look at where we are. We are in closed quarters, and some of us are geared with long range weaponry, or weapons not suited for close quarter combat.
Black 2: So are our enemies. These simulated versions of us are geared in exactly the same way as we are.
Black 3: This evens the playing field in that respect.
Black 1: Right. So, the trick is...we have to get to the one place where long range weapons are actually practical.
Black 4: The Hanger Bay. It is the most open area of the ship. Lots of room to move around and lots of places to take cover.
Black 1: Exactly.
Black 5: Are you suggesting that we agro these simulated guys down to the Hanger Bay?
Black 1: No, but now that you mention it, that would seem like a good way to catch them in a trap.
Black 6: I would agree. If we lure them into the wide open hanger bay, we could do some serious damage with a well placed trap.
Black 5: Alright, that sounds good and all, but, how are we going to draw them down to the hanger bay. Remember...these guys think like we do. They know all our tactics. They will be able to sniff out a trap at a moment's notice.
Black 4: Five has a point.
Black 6: Well, not really. Like I said...we have to mix and match opponents. Don't you guys remember what Novak said?
Black 1: Novak said a lot of things.
Black 6: Do you remember, near the start of the briefing, when he said that our doubles will hunt us down, and find us no matter where we go?
Black 1: Yeah.
Black 6: Put some thought into that...and ask yourself; how the hell would our doubles know where to find us?
Black 5: That is a good question. With that said, how literal do you think he was being? Do you think he meant they know where we are at all times or that they are just quick on their feet and know our habits enough to know where we would hide?
Black 6: I think our simulated doubles know where we each individually are at all times. I suspect that the simulation is cheating, and providing our opponents real time data on our location. If we split up...they will split up. It would be the only way to keep us all on the defensive at all times.
Black 3: Wait...if that is the case, how the hell are we supposed to take separate targets if our double will always come after us?
Black 2: Well...there is one way. You see, as you all may know, we are each equipped with subcutaneous transponders that allow us to be pinpointed by other naval forces that are looking for us. This also doubles up as an IFF transponder which allow our HUDs to isolate our position and identify friendly targets and hostiles. It might be possible to rewrite our own transponders and change the IFF to someone else on the team. It is a complicated procedures, but I have done it once, in the field with nothing more than a PDA. If Black 6 is correct, and our transponders are being used to relay information to our simulated counter-parts...then it would be very easy to confuse them in such a way to allow us to mix and match targets.
Black 1: How long would it take to do?
Black 2: Not long...perhaps 5 minutes for each of us. The question is, however, who takes who?
Black 6: That's easy. We take the person we would have the best chance against.
Black 6: Black 3...you should take Grey 2. You have the range advantage. Lead him down to the hanger bay, and smoke him in the most open area on the ship.
Black 3: Agreed.
Black 6: Black 2...you should take Grey 4 in CQC. If there is no way in hell he would dare use a Rocket launcher in closed quarters, such as corridors. That shotgun of yours will also help in tearing through his heavier gear.
Black 2: Good call.
Black 6: Black 4...you should be assigned to take Grey 3. Black 3 has the lightest armor, which makes him the most vulnerable to high explosives.
Black 6 paused again. He looked at Black 5.
Black 6: Black 5...go after Grey 1. You will be able to out range his Assault Rifle him in the corridors with your DMR.
Black 5: Right...good idea.
Black 1 looked at Black 6.
Black 1: What about you and me?
Black 6: Black 1...you take Grey 6...my simulated counter-part. You have the most weapon specializations out of the all of us. You know every weapon in the UNSC like the back of your hand, and you can make music with the Assault Rifle. On top of that...you should be facing an opponent who is neither as fast or as strong as you. Remember...I was never augmented...and if the simulation is a true reflection of our abilities...well...he should not be as strong or as fast as you are.
Black 6: Which leaves me with Grey 5.
Black 1: Are you sure that is a good idea?
Black 6: Of course. I know quite a bit about Black 5. We have run ops together, and I know him better than I know the rest of you, which is saying a lot seeing as how I just spent the last minute or so running off who should fight who.
Black 2: Alright...let me see if I got this straight; Black 3 and Grey 2; me and Grey 4; Black 4 and Grey 3; Black 5 and Grey 1; Black 1 and Grey 6; and finally Black 6 and Grey 5. Is that right?
Black 6: Perfect.
Black 2: Alright...give me a bit of time to work my magic.
UNSC Marathon Class - The Ulterior Motive - Simulation Deck Observation Room - Currently in Slipstream Space en-route to The Apex - 1015 hours - April 19th 2515.
Novak had been watching the combat scenario play out. He had watched the entire conversation between Black Team. He had never seen anything like this before in his life. He began to take records of what he had seen.
Novak: Project Black Team - entry 41. The mirror match simulation is currently underway. The initial skirmish with the simulated opponents yielded an expected result. ODST Black Team was unprepared for the level of difficulty that they were hit with. However...they managed to regroup, reform, and retreat in order to analyze their engagement and plan for a second encounter. They seem much more prepared this time around...with a very interesting plan.
Novak: It seems that Black 2 posses the technical ability to modify UNSC Transponder information. This fact was not known by either myself, or anyone else for that matter. It is clear that Black 2's technical expertise is vast, and has been seriously underestimated. Black 6, on the other hand, seems to have figured out that their simulated opponents Do have real time location data on them via their transponders. For what Black 6 lacks in his...enhancements...he makes up for in sheer tactical prowess and his situational awareness. The kid has a sharp mind. Very little seems to get by him.
Novak paused again. He began to think.
Novak: With that said...it seems that Black Team has discovered a way to turn the tables in their favor. I did not anticipate that they would do this. They have completely changed the outcome of this scenario. I must admit...we underestimated Black Team. When they are together...they posses such a wide variety of skills and abilities, to the point that they seem to be prepared for almost anything we can throw at them. It will be interesting to see how Black 2 managed to circumvent the security on the Subcutaneous Transponders. I have never seen it done before.
Novak watched Black Team on the monitors for some time. Roughly 25 minutes passed before Novak's attention was broken by the sound of someone entering the room.
Spender: Dr. Novak...report?
Novak turned to see Spender walk into the room. Spender was reaching into his pocket. He pulled out a pack of cigarettes, and lit one up.
Novak: Well...I have been observing ODST Black Team in the simulation deck. They are currently running the program that you designed...you know...the one that pit them against copies of themselves?
Spender: Yes, yes. How are they doing?
Novak: Well...I think they are going to beat it.
Spender: The program was not designed to be beaten Doctor. Can you please explain how a program intended to match Black Team in every way, and outperform them, is going to be beaten?
Novak: Well, as you know, the simulation was designed to push them to their fundamental limits Each member of Black Team would be met with an adversary that knew them better than they knew themselves. However...this is no longer the case. It seems Black Team has found a way to circumvent a large portion of the simulation.
Novak: It seems...nobody knew that Black 2 had the technical know-how required to hack UNSC Transponders.
Novak: Black 2 has almost finished re-writing the transponder IFFs for the entire team. He has changed each member's IFF to identify as a member of Black Team that has any kind of tactical disadvantage against the person in question.
Novak: For example...Black 3 specializes in long range, hence, the use of the Sniper Rifle. Black 2 changed Black 3's transponder IFF to trick Grey 2 into taking chase after Black 3, as opposed to Black 2. The end result is that Grey 2 will be walking into a combat area that is tailored to Black 3's specialty, and allow Black 3 to quickly do away with, and kill, Grey 2.
Novak: It is very fascinating.
Spender: They are very resourceful it seems.
Novak: It is because of this, is why I think they are going to win.
Spender: Black Team is going to be phenomenal. I can say that for everything that we have done...ODST Black Team is going to be the best thing we will have ever created. Truly...they are a monument to the sheer determination and willpower of The Trust. You have done excellent work Doctor. You have exceeded expectations with Black Team.
Novak: I am sure that this is just the start of what we can expect from them.
Spender took a drag of his cigarette, as he watched the computer monitors, and observed Black Team.
UNSC Marathon Class - The Ulterior Motive - Simulation Deck - Simulated Deck 5 - Currently in Slipstream Space en-route to The Apex - 1030 hours - April 19th 2515.
Black 2 had finished making the modifications to the transponders for the entire team. He placed his PDA back into his holster.
Black 2: Alright guys...we are good to go. We can now split up, isolate our targets, and take them down.
The rest of Black Team nodded.
Black 1: Good luck everyone.
Every member of Black Team went their separate ways, putting as much distance between each other as possible. Their goal was to separate their simulated opponents as much as possible, and pick them off one by one.
UNSC Marathon Class - The Ulterior Motive - Simulation Deck - Simulated Hanger Bay 1 - Currently in Slipstream Space en-route to The Apex - 1045 hours - April 199h 2515.
Black 3 was the first of the group to reach his destination. As he walked into the hanger bay, he looked around. Every step he took echoed in the wide open bay. There were piles of boxes everywhere, as well as a few Pelicans.
Black 3: No doubt that those Pelicans do not work.
Black 3 kept his eyes open, but he did not see anyone or anything in the hanger bay. The only thing he could hear was his own footsteps. After sweeping the hanger bay, Black 3 decided to set up a sniper nest in the hanger bay. He looked around and saw a ladder, leading to an upper catwalk. Black 3 climbed this ladder, and situated himself on the upper catwalk. He drew his sniper rifle again, and took the safety off.
Black 3: This is as good of a place as any to set up. Just have to keep an eye open for any hostiles...
Black 3 held his sniper rifle close, scanning the hanger bay from the upper level. Several minutes passed and Black 3 was yet to see any sign of his opponent. Black 3 sighed, as his impatience was starting to mix with his anxiety. Black 3 felt that something was seriously wrong, in the sense that he felt like he was the one just waiting to be killed. Black 3 knew that he had been stationary for too long, and that he needed to relocate. Just as Black 3 pulled away from his scope, he was attacked from behind by Grey 2. Grey struck Black 3 in the side of the helmet with the butt of his Shotgun, knocking Black 3 to the ground, and causing Black 3 to drop his Sniper Rifle over the railing, onto the ground below. Grey 2 had come from an access hatch that was located on the upper catwalk. As it turned out, the positioning information Grey team had on the real Black Team was highly precise, allowing for more sophisticated and stealthy approaches.
Black 3 looked up at Grey 2. This was the first time that Black 3 managed to get a good look at who he was fighting. Grey 2 looked very much like the real Black 2, in terms of the armor he wore. However, Grey 2 had some very important differences. The visor of Grey 2 had a red hue on the edges of the visor, and the BDU that was being worn was more like the standard issue BDU, as opposed to the darker BDU that had been assigned to Black Team.
Grey 2 looked down at Black 3, as he readied his Shotgun.
Grey 2: Very strange...you are not Black 2. Black 2 does not use a Sniper Rifle. No matter...I am confident that you will die all the same.
As Grey 2 took aim, Black 3 reached for his side arm with his right hand, and pushed Grey 2's shotgun barrel out of his face. The weapon discharged just as Black 3 finished pushing it out of the way, causing the buck shot to tear apart the catwalk just to the left of Black 3's head. This caught Grey 2 off guard, thus giving Black 3 enough time to raise his feet, and thrust both of his feet right into the gut of Grey 2. Grey 2 stumbled backwards, and dropped his shotgun. Black 3 knew he had a very good chance to put his simulated opponent down for the count, so he drew his Automag from his holster, took aim, and fired the full clip into the chest of Grey 2. Black 3 watched his opponent stumble back with each bullet that he fired, but Grey 2 did not go down. In fact, Grey 2 remained standing, as if nothing had happened. Black 3 look on, in total shock, as his entire clip had run dry, and his opponent was still standing.
Black 3: Holy shit...
It was at this moment knew that the simulated opponents they were up against were defiantly more durable than the average human, and that the amount of effort needed to take one of these simulated opponents down would be more than was initially expected.
Black 3 knew he had to up his game fast, because his opponent would give him no quarter. Black 3 quickly got back to his feet, and charged at Grey 2, and tackled him right over the guard rail, right down to the hanger bay below. Black 3 was on top of Grey 2, as both of them came crashing down to the lower level. Black 3 was jolted from the fall, but Grey 2 was not phased in the slightest. This became very apparent to Black 3, when Grey 2 pushed Black 2 off with little to no effort. Black 3 slid across the floor, as he watched Grey 2 get back to his feet.
Black 3: Oh man...this idea was way better on paper than in practice...
Black 3 forced himself back to his feet. He backed up as Grey 2 ran towards him. Grey 2 had drawn his knife, as he slashed forwards and to the side, trying to kill Black 3. Black 3 kept on evading and dodging the CQC experts attacks, but was quickly losing ground.
As Black 3 backed up, he could see his Sniper Rifle on the ground, behind Grey 2. He knew he had to get to his weapon, but with the constant pressure from his opponent, finding the time to get by, grab his weapon, and take aim, would prove to be very difficult. However, despite this, Black 3 knew he had to try. Black 3 waited for Grey 2 to thrust his blade to the side, so he could take advantage of an open area to duck under, to get behind Grey 2. After only a moment, Grey 2 thrust his arm from left to right, slashing sideways at Black 3. This gave Black 3 the chance to slip by his opponent, and retrieve his Sniper Rifle.
As Black 3 picked up his Sniper Rifle, he turned, and was faced with Grey 2 slamming his arm down, with the blade of his knife pointing down. Black 3 raised his Sniper Rifle, and met Grey 2's forearm with his Sniper Rifle. Black 3 took advantage of this, and used his right foot to kick Grey 2 back. Black 3 then raised his Sniper Rifle, and fired a round right into the chest of his opponent. Grey 2 stumbled back. Black 3 then took aim right at his opponent's head, but Grey 2 evaded, and jumped out of the way. Black 3 began to back up, keeping his scope up, and keeping his lock on Grey 2. Grey 2 seemed more inclined to stay behind cover where Black 2 could not hit him. However, Black 3, being as proficient as he was, did not necessarily need a clean view on anyone to be able to hit them. Black 3 took quick looks around the hanger bay, taking note of the contours and the angles in the room. As Black 3 looked around, he managed to formulate the needed angles in order to perform a trick shot that would allow him to hit Grey 3 behind cover. Black 3, in one swift movement, aimed upwards, and fired at the wall at an angle. The bullet from the Sniper Rifle ricocheted off the initial target point, impacted a supply crate on the second level catwalk, and ricocheted downwards, right into Grey 2’s head. The round went right through Grey 2's head. Black 3 simply grinned as he heard the fatal impact, and the sound of the visor shattering from the bullet going right through the helmet casing.
Black 3: So...all it took was a round between the eyes. Well...that's one down. Hopefully, the rest of Black Team is faring well.
Black 3 reloaded his Sniper Rifle, and left the hanger bay, going out to search for the rest of his team.
UNSC Marathon Class - The Ulterior Motive - Simulation Deck - Simulated Deck 9 - Currently in Slipstream Space en-route to The Apex - 1105 hours - April 199h 2515.
Black 2 was walking through the corridors on Deck 9. As Black 2 as walking, he began to notice that the lights in the corridor started to shut down, section by section. As the lights turned off, Black 2 toggled his night vision mode on his VISR.
Black 2: Alright...this adds an unwanted element to the situation...
Black 2 continued to walked through the halls. He was coming up on a 4-way junction. Black 2 hugged the wall as he hunched down, and started to pick up the pace. As Black 2 approached the 4-way junction, he checked his corners, only to find that the area was clear of any hostiles. Black 2 sighed, but continued on. Black 2 walked for a few more moments, keeping his eyes forward. Black 4 could see that was coming up to a corner, about 40 feet ahead. Black 2 kept his Shotgun raised, ready to fire.
However, Black 2 was forced to hit the deck when he saw Grey 4 turn the corner, and fired off both rounds from his Rocket Launcher. Black 2 heard the rockets go right over his head. The rockets impacted the wall of the corridor roughly 20 feet behind Black 2. The resulting explosion disorientated Black 2, allowing Grey 4 to take the first offensive opportunity. Grey 4 walked towards Black 2, reached down with his left hand, and grabbed Black 2 by the back of the neck, and proceeded to lift him upwards, and toss him into the wall, all in one fluid motion.
Black 2 slammed into the wall, but did not fall back down to the ground. Instead, Black 2 remained standing, but his knees were weak, and his chest was to the wall. Black 2 slowly turned around, but was met with Grey 4 slamming his Rocket Launcher into Black 2's gut like a baseball bat.
Black 2 fell to the ground again, and he had the wind knocked out of him. He could see the feet of Grey 4 pacing back and forth. Black 2 was unsure why Grey 4 was walking back and forth.
Grey 4: You are Black 2.
Black 2: Very astute...
There was silence from Grey 4. He simply continued to pace back and forth.
Black 2 didn't know why his opponent was unable to make a decision. Despite this, Black 2 used this time to try and formulated a counter attack to help him put this simulated ODST on the ground permanently. Nothing immediately came to Black 2's mind, however. He was in no position to retaliate, let alone, take control of the situation in such a way that would allow him to deliver a fatal strike. However, Black 2 was given an opportunity when Grey 4 lifted him up once again.
Grey 4: In the end, it does not matter who you are. After I finish you off...I will just go and find the real Black 4, and finish him off.
Black 2 had no intention of being killed by little more than a computer simulated. Black 2 managed to break free from Grey 4's grasp, and push him away. Grey 4 stumbled and dropped his Rocket Launcher, as Black 2 ran forward and jumped, kicking Grey 4 right in the head. This knocked Grey 4 back once again. Black 2 knew that he had to keep the pressure on his opponent, but he was not expecting how fast he could recover.
Black 2 was almost caught off guard with a retaliatory strike from Grey 4, in the form of a swift left hook. Black 2 managed to duck, and dodge this attack, and follow up with a swift right hook to the side of Grey 4. This caused Grey 4 to stumble sideways into the wall. Black 2, on the other hand, stood up straight, and gave Grey 4 a roundhouse kick, connection his boot with the side of his opponent's' head. This caused Grey 4 to fall to the ground.
Black 2 knew that he had a moment of reprieve, which he used to try and retrieve his Shotgun. Black 2 stepped away, and grabbed his Shotgun, which was laying on the floor not far from where Grey 4 had gone down. As Black 2 picked up the weapon and turned to take aim, he was tackled into the wall by Grey 4. Once again, Black 2 was taken aback by how quickly Grey 4 had managed to recover. It was becoming very clear to Black 2 that his opponent was very capable of exceeding his own physical limits. Black 2 had to keep this in mind if he was going to manage to emerge victorious.
Grey 4 had pinned Black 2 to the wall, as both of them wrestled for control of the Shotgun. Black 2 was losing the struggle for the weapon, but he was not prepared to give up. Instead of pulling, Black 2 used Grey 4's own strength to his advantage, and pushed forward, pushing Grey 4, to the other side of the corridor, and slammed Grey 4 into the wall. The force impact managed to loosen the grip Grey 4 had on the Shotgun, and Black 2 was able to retrieve his weapon. Without hesitation, Black 2 put the Shotgun right up to Grey 4's chest, and pulled the Trigger, discharging the weapon at point blank range. Grey 4 flew back, but was not out. Black 2 cocked the shotgun, as he discharged the weapon again at point blank range, tearing apart Grey 4's BDU. Black 2 repeated the processes until he had discharged all six shells right into the chest of Grey 4.
Grey 4 fell to the ground, motionless. Black 2 looked down, as he reloaded his Shotgun, content in his victory.
Black 2: Well...that is one down. Hopefully everyone else fares just as well.
Black 2 backed away, then turned to walk off. However, as he did, he heard Grey 4 shuffle, and get back to his feet. He then heard Grey 4 begin to run. Black 2 turned at the last second, and took aim right at the head of Grey 4, and pulled the trigger, removing the head of the simulated ODST.
Black 2: Resilient little bastard...like a Zombie.
Black 2 sighed, as he watched Grey 4 hit the ground for the second time. Black 2 then hefted his Shotgun, and turned to walk off, intent on finding any one of his team mates to see if he could lend a hand.
UNSC Marathon Class - The Ulterior Motive - Simulation Deck - Simulated Main Armory - Currently in Slipstream Space en-route to The Apex - 1125 hours - April 199h 2515.
Black 4 had entered the armory portion of the simulated Ulterior Motive. He took a look around the room, and noticed that every rack was empty. Black 4 knew this was going to be the case, so he was not shocked by this. He walked further into the armory, checking his corners as he moved. He knew that at any moment, he was bound to be attacked by Grey 3. Black 4 knew that Grey 3 was going to perform a range attack. There is no way someone who was an expert with a Sniper Rifle would want to go CQC on anyone. Black 4 knew that as long as he stayed with tight corners, and smaller rooms, Grey 3 would have no chance at winning.
As Black 4 began to rig the area with traps he could use to surprise Grey 3, a sniper shot rang out from around a corner, and ricocheted right into the armory. Black 4 instinctively hit the ground, for had he not, he would of taken the sniper round right in the head.
Black 4: Damn it…that’s right…Black 3 can trick shot.
As Black 4 tried to get back to his feet, another shot rang out, and another bullet came ricocheting into the armory. Black 4 dropped down again to avoid being hit. Grey 3 had been firing trick shots into the armory to avoid getting close, and the shots were coming incredibly close to hitting Black 4. Black 4 began to roll on the ground to try and get out of the way. However, as he rolled, he continued to come under fire. Grey 3 somehow knew that Black 4 had been trying to roll out of the way, and the adjusted angle of the ricocheted bullets proved that.
Black 4: How the hell does this guy know where I am at any given time? This is nuts!
Black 4 was unable to get back to his feet, as he was pinned by sniper rounds that had ever increasing accuracy. Black 4 knew that if he did not think of something quickly, he would find himself picked off, by a sniper, who was around the corner. Black 4 analyzed the room. He reasoned that there was something in this room that was allowing Grey 3 to take such precise shots. Sure enough, after a quick analysis of the room, Black 4 noticed that there were several security cameras in this room. Black 4 reached to his side and grabbed his sidearm, and while still on the ground, took aim at every security camera in the room, and shot them out one by one. After Black 4 had done this, he noticed that the sniper fire had stopped. Black 4, however, was not sure if this was because he shot out the cameras, or if Grey 3 was trying to trick Black 4 into a false sense of security. Either way, Black 4 had to make a move. His only choices were to stay on the ground, or move out and fight back. Black 4 chose the latter.
Black 4 immediately jumped up from the ground and charged out of the armory. However, as he did, he took a dive forward, and rolled out of the armory. As he did, a sniper shot rang out, but missed Black 4. The bullet from the sniper had impacted the wall exactly where Black 4’s head would have been had he not of rolled. Black 4 recovered from his roll, and took aim at Grey 3, and fired his weapon off, emptying the entire clip. Several of the rounds from Black 4’s Automag had impacted Grey 3’s chest, while a few others had impacted Grey 3’s Sniper Rifle, causing Grey 3 to lose the grip on his Sniper Rifle, and drop it.
Black 4 saw this, and began to reload his Automag. At the same time, Grey 3 pulled out his Automag, and began to fire. Black 4 was forced to roll back into the armory, and into cover. As Black 4 did this, Grey 3 tried to pick up his Sniper Rifle, but Black 4 took aim, around the corner, and fired again, hitting Grey 3 once more. Grey 3 stumbled back, and was unable to recover his sniper rifle. Black 4 saw Grey 3 stumble, and he knew this was his moment to strike. Black 4 emerged from cover and took aim, but as he did, Grey 3 had decided to fall back, to try and put some distance between himself and Black 4. Black 4 took chase after Grey 3. Black 4 knew that he had his opponent on the run, and that sooner or later, he would have Grey 3 cornered.
Black 4 took chase after Grey 3. Both men bolted through the corridors. Black 4 had his Automag raised, as he fired it off while in pursuit of Grey 3. Due to the intensity of the speed that Black 4 was running at, his aim was a bit off, and most of shots missed. However, one of his shots impacted the leg of Grey 3, thus, causing him to stumble to the ground. Black 4 was able to catch up, and the first thing that he did was deliver a running kick into the side of Grey 3. The force of the impact caused Grey 3 to roll a bit in the direction that Black 4 had kicked him.
Black 4 knew that he had this fight in the bag.
Black 4: For all of the trouble you put me through…you went down rather easy.
Black 4 aimed down with his Automag, and aimed right at Grey 3’s head. Black 4 scoffed at Grey 3, as he pulled the trigger. However, nothing had happened, save for a clicking sound coming from the gun. Black 4’s clip was empty. The instant that Grey 3 had heard this, he jumped right up, and knocked the gun from Black 4’s hand. Black 4 was taken aback by the burst of stamina on the part of Grey 3. Black 4 tried to retaliate, but Grey 3 had managed to deliver a kick right to the chest of Black 4, sending him backwards, and onto the ground.
Grey 3: You should have counted your bullets.
Grey 3 jumped up into the air, and came crashing down on the chest of Black 4. The knocked the wind out of Black 4, and injured his midsection. Grey 3 simply laughed, as he jumped up again, and reached to his side and grabbed his sidearm.
Grey 3: Let me show you how it’s done…
Grey 3 took aim at Black 4, and turned his gun sideways for vanity reasons. Grey 3 did this to taunt Black 4. Black 4 saw this, and knew he had to act quickly. In one fluid motion, Black 4 reach to his side, pulled out his combat knife, and threw it upwards, hitting Grey 3 right in the neck. Grey 3 dropped his Automag, and he began to stumble back. Black 4 knew that he could finish this fight. Black 4 got back to his feet, and began to back up. As he did, he drew his rocket launcher from his back, and took aim at Grey 3, who was now roughly 25 feet away. Black 4 took aim, and then fired his Rocket launcher, aiming for the wall that was just to the left of Grey 3. The rocket hit its target, and exploded with a fury that Black 4 knew all too well. The explosion propelled Grey 3 to the side, right into the adjacent wall, nearly incinerating Grey 3’s armor, and killing him on impact.
Black 4: That’s how it is done…
Black 4 sighed with relief, and put his Rocket Launcher back on his back. He then turned away, and went to search for his compatriots.
UNSC Marathon Class - The Ulterior Motive - Simulation Deck Observation Room - Currently in Slipstream Space en-route to The Apex - 1150 hours - April 199h 2515.
Spender and Novak continued to watch the simulations play out. Novak and Spender were both astounded by the tactics and the methods that ODST Black Team had been employing to beat their opponents.
Spender: Black Team is very good at what they do. I have to admit…I am very impressed.
Novak: They have certainly exceeded expectations on this test. Based on what I have seen thus far, I am prepared to project that we will continue to see cunning and advanced tactics from them from this point out. They are really coming into their own…and their performance against opponents that are clearly superior to them in every way tells me that I have been successful in pushing them beyond their limits…expanding their limits.
Spender: A step in the right direction, for sure.
Spender: With that said…I am excited to see what Black 6 will do
Novak had a look of curiosity on his face.
Spender: He is not as advanced as the others…yet he clearly has skill. I am curious to see if he will supplement what he lacks in physical performance with mental performance. If he is able to devise a way to survive this, through sheer tactics alone…I would consider him as the viable leader of the team. Leaders need not be the most physically capable, but they must be mentally capable. Leaders must have vision, foresight, and most of all…a superior tactical mindset. A brilliant mind is unstoppable…a force to be reckoned with. If someone can out-wit and out-think their opponent…then the battle is already theirs.
Novak: You would consider Black 6 as the leader of Black Team?
Novak was unsure about this.
Novak: This could upset the others. I know for a fact that Black 1 has a keen eye on the leadership role.
Spender: He may have a keen eye…but I have the all-important final say in the matter.
Spender: If Lieutenant Vernette prevails…he will have won my respect, and defiantly the respect of his peers. It would go a long way in justifying the decision to establish him as team leader. It would also go a long way in securing his loyalty to us. If we put him into a position of command…he will be far more likely to remain loyal to us in case of any…unforeseen circumstances. We both know that Black 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 are going to be very susceptible to our ongoing conditioning. Their loyalty is assured. However…Lieutenant Vernette will have no such conditioning, at least, not to the extent that the rest of Black Team will eventually undergo. We need everything we can use to keep Vernette on our side.
Novak: If you say so sir. I just hope you are right. I would hate for something like petty jealousy to dissolve all of our work.
Spender: Take it from me, Doctor…I am an expert in this matter.
UNSC Marathon Class - The Ulterior Motive - Simulation Deck - Simulated Main Barracks - Currently in Slipstream Space en-route to The Apex - 1200 hours - April 199h 2515.
Black 5 had entered the main barracks. His DMR was raised, and he moved slowly through the barracks, each step was a silent one. Black 5 had his eyes scanning the room, non-stop, looking out for any trap that had been set, or hostile that was waiting. Black 5 knew that he was to expect an attack from Grey 1. He knew Black 1’s tactics well enough to be able to anticipate what Grey 1 would try to do. However, Black 5 felt a degree of uncertainty. He kept Novak’s warning in mind. He remembered how Novak said that anything could happen to tip the balance against Black Team. Black 5 had to remain mindful of this.
Black 5 had done a full sweep of the barracks, but found no trace of Grey 1. Black 5 resolved that Grey 1 had either not caught up yet, or that Grey 1 was doing a very good job of waiting, and hiding. Either way, Black 5 had to move on. As Black 5 moved towards the exit of the barracks, he noticed a shift in the deck plating. He then realized that the gravity on the deck had nearly doubled. Black 5 was caught off guard by this, but he didn’t want to let this stagger him for too long. However, just as Black 5 began to regain his footing and balance, he saw a frag grenade roll into the barracks, coming right for him.
Black 5: Oh…shit!
Black 5 turned and jumped back, dodging the brunt of the blast, but being thrown backwards. Black 5 was able to put enough distance between him and the grenade in order to ensure that he was not seriously injured. However, Black 5 was still very much dazed and winded from the explosion, and subsequent impact with the ground. Black 5 found himself to be partially incapacitated by what he assumed was Black 1’s sneak attack. Black 5 struggled to get back to his feet. However, before he was even able to climb back to one knee, he felt a hand grasp him by the throat, and lift him to his feet. Black 5 could clearly see Grey 1 in front of him. Black 5 could see himself in the reflection of Grey 1’s visor.
Grey 1: It seems I was right…
Grey 1 paused for a moment.
Grey 1: I knew you were not Black 1 the moment I began to take note of your movement patterns on the ship. The sensors said you were Black 1…but your tactics said you were something, or someone else.
Grey 1, holding Black 5 by the throat with his left hand, punched Black 5 in the gut with his right hand multiple times, eventually culminating in Grey 1 tossing Black 5 across the room, into the wall. Black 5 hit the wall and fell to the ground. Black 5 was still dazed and injured from the grenade explosion, and combined with the difficulty breathing as a result of the heavier gravity, Black 5 was having a difficult time composing himself, and getting himself back into fighting shape.
Grey 1 gave Black 5 no quarter, as he continued his assault. Grey 1 attacked Black 5 on the ground, by sending hard left and right kicks into the sides of Black 5. Black 5 groaned in pain with each kick.
Grey 1: This is so pathetic. I almost feel bad for you. Part of me just wants to put a bullet in your brain and be done with it.
Grey 1 paused for a moment.
Grey 1: However…the other part of me wants to literally beat you to death with my bare hands. I have to admit…beating you to death with my bare hands seems a whole lot more interesting.
Grey 1 grabbed Black 5 by the back of the neck, and forcefully dragged him back to his feet, and then proceeded to toss Black 5 into the nearest wall, with as much force as possible. Black 5 hit the wall, and slide to the ground. He could not believe how hard Grey 1 was hitting. Black 5 felt like he was being hit by sledgehammers as opposed to fists and feet. Black 5 knew that if he did not think of something fast, he was going to end up dead.
Grey 1 paced back and forth, watching Black 5 on the ground. It was almost as if Grey 1 wanted Black 5 to retaliate, in order to have some challenge.
Grey 1: Come on…get up!
Black 5 simply waited. He decided to bide his time and take as much time as possible to rest as well as think of a plan of action. Grey 1, on the other hand, began to quickly run out of patience, as he once again grabbed Black 5 by the throat, and lifted him back to his feet. However, Black 5 was prepared to retaliate, as he pushed Grey 1 back with as much force as he could muster. Black 5 then moved forward, and hit Grey 1 with several left and right hooks, culminating in a fluid motion that enable Black 5 to kick Grey 1 right in the chest, knocking Grey 1 right into a wall.
Black 5 watched as Grey 1 slammed into the wall. Black 5 moved forward again, but was met with a swift right hook from Grey 1. Black 5, however, was able to evade by recoiling quickly, and then following up with catching the wrist of Grey 1. Black 5, holding the wrist of Grey 1, pushed back, and pinned Grey 1’s wrist to the wall. Black 5 then used his other hand and grabbed his combat knife from its sheath, and then proceeded to slam it through the hand of Grey 1, into the wall, effectively pinning Grey 1’s right hand to the wall with the knife. Black 5 then took a few steps backwards, and charged at Grey 1, and jumped into the air, and slammed his right foot into the chest of Grey 1, and then propelling himself into a back flip, pushing himself backwards, and landing right where his DMR was. Black 5 then picked up his DMR and took aim right at the head of Grey 1, and fired the rifle, killing his opponent in a single shot.
Black 5 simply grinned behind his helmet as he stood victorious.
UNSC Marathon Class - The Ulterior Motive - Simulation Deck - Simulated Engineering Deck - Currently in Slipstream Space en-route to The Apex - 1230 hours - April 19th 2515.
Black 1 had been sweeping the main engineering deck. He moved around the tight spaces, around the large machinery and numerous control consoles. Black 1 had his Assault Rifle at the ready. Black 1 was not as concerned about his opponent, as he knew that Black 6 lacked most of the training and augmentation