Beginning of the End is the first episode of Battle of Blood Gulch: Reunion. It reintroduces Sam Harrison, Jack Clay, James Templar and Kalima, and introduces Isaac Jacobs and Brian Winters.
Sam Harrison hated guard duty. Leaning against one of the outer walls of Zanzibar, waiting for an attack that wasn't going to come. CO or not, he still had to take the most boring jobs of the whole outfit. With the sun beginning to come up, he let himself fall asleep for a bit.
Suddenly, he snapped awake as he heard a faint sound in the distance. Pulling out his DMR, he readied the sight, looking for something, ANYTHING to relieve the boredom. As he waited, he heard the sound get loude, and eventually he made it out.
"aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!" was all he made out before he leaped out of the way of a flaming Hornet that impacted on the place he had been only seconds before. As he straightened, he gaped at the wreckage of the Hornet, then took a step closer.
He thought he had seen... yes, there it was! A armored hand gestured weakly from the pilot's seat, before slumping. Sam dropped the DMR, and jogged over to the hornet. His armor protecting him from most of the flames, he yanked open the cockpit and looked at the soldier inside.
He wore mostly brown armor, with an EOD helmet on top. He was slumped forward, and through the ash that covered his armor, Sam could make out a small insigna on his chest. He gasped slightly. It was ONI!
He quickly grabbed the soldier's arms and hoisted him out of the cockpit, grunting under the wait of the armor. He began pulling him back to his base, dragging him through the sand.
"Wish Sam was back," Mark Stein grumbled as he fiddled with his knife. The main building was silent, with nothing but the wind keeping people company. Stein sat with one leg propped up on a seperate chair, his CQB helmet laying on the table to his right. "Why does Sam even take the watch missions? He's CO right? He could just make us do that!"
"Quit complaining Stein," Adrianna Shepherd ordered, eyes narrowing into a glare, "Sam has the right to do whatever he pleases now that he's Staff Sergeant."
Stein snickered and waved his hand.
"Does that include you?"
Adrianna was about ready to beat Stein into the ground when Lizbeth Brennamen appeared with Sam, carrying an unconscious brown armored main into the main battery. Even with Sam's stronger right arm, the pair had trouble setting the man down on one of the tables.
Sam panted and pulled off his helmet, wiping away the sweat as Stein and Adrianna joined their other two teammates. The pair's eyes went straight to the symbol on his chest piece as Lizbeth checked his pulse.
"Care to...uh, explain..who this is sarge?" Stein asked. Sam sat down and shook his head before looking up at his team.
"He's apart of ONI. It's short for "Office of Naval Intelligence". My dad worked for them for until he died. This guy," Sam pauses, gesturing to the unconscious agent who lay on the table, "is a worker for them I guess. His hornet crashed into the derelict bridge. I guess he got shot down."
A sudden gasp from the agent caused everyone's eyes to go back to him. The EOD helmeted man slowly sat forward, holding his back then his head. He shook it, gathered his bearings and looked at the four armored blues surrounding him. His visor stopped on Sam, who just stared back.
"Staff Sergeant Harrison?" He asked, swinging his legs over the edge of the table.
"That's me," Sam answered, standing at the same time as the ONI, "and you are?"
"Son of a-" Isaac muttered, "that's what I get for letting Clay pick the vehicle-"
"Clay's alive?" Sam asked.
"Yes, he's alive. And you'll get to see him again," Isaac muttered, standing up, "Staff Sergeant Sam Harrison, I'm taking you with me. It's time to head... home you would call it."
Sam stood silent.
"I see you've been busy," Isaac said, "so I'll be back in a minute. Meet me at the Pelican." And he walked right out.
"This can't be right!" Stein exclaimed, enraged at the sudden revelation. Sam sat across from Stein on the table Jacobs sat on a few minutes before. Lizbeth and Adrianna stood off to the side, whispering amongst themselves as Stein raged.
"I know we all don't agree with the news, Stein," Sam said, obviously bitter from the news,"but this guy serves for one of the top agencies out there...I have to go."
"It's bullshit!" Stein tried to continue. Sam's glare stopped him. Stein stepped back and shuffled his feet as his CO stood. The Staff Sergeant looked over at Lizbeth, who looked up. He pointed and she nodded. It was a silent agreement and acceptance. Sam was entrusting Lizbeth with the command of the team.
Lizbeth stepped in front of Sam, saluting. Sam did the same, before walking off to his room. Adrianna stared after him, paused for a moment or so, and then went after him.
Sam folded the photo of him and his dad and tucked it away beneath his chest piece before sliding his dad's tags next to his own. It was all he needed. As he turned away to go, his eyes fell on the only photo that had occupied his nightstand.
His hand enclosed around it, bringing up closer. It had been taken a month ago, during his and Adrianna's fourth anniversary. It was taken underneath the sea wall's arch, Adrianna and Sam wearing their casual attire. Their heads were tilted, looking deeply into each other's eyes with their hands hooked together. Adrianna leaned into her boyfriend, a smile on their faces.
Sam looked at it for another minute before removing the frame, folding it up and placing it beneath his chest plate, next to him and his dad.
Thin arms wrapped tightly around Sam's stomach, pulling him close into an embrace. A chin placed itself lightly on his shoulder.
"I don't want you to go..." Adrianna whispered. Sam lowered his head and sighed before turning in her grip, wrapping his arms around her as well.
"I love you Anna...and I promise, I'll come back in one piece." Sam swore, smiling down at her.
"You better, I'm going to hold you to it. But if you die, I'll drag your sorry ass out from hell or down from heaven just to kill you myself." Adrianna replied with a smirk. It vanished when Sam pressed his lips against hers.
Sam slowly made his way toward the pelican, Isaac standing in the bay with a hand against his comm. Noticing Sam, he quickly hung up and stepped out.
"Say your goodbyes? We're not coming back for a while." Isaac informed as Sam stopped in front of him. Sam grinned as he grabbed his helmet in both hands.
"We're going back home," Sam replied, sliding the helmet on, "of course we're not coming back for a while."
Isaac grinned, "Darn right. Okay, Rocket Shoes is waiting at Point Delta, but we have another checklist... hmm... Alexander Song and Lawrence Martinez are next... but it looks like someone else is near them.." He hopped into the Pelican, grunting slightly, rubbing his shoulder. He looked back at Sam, "You might be meeting someone else."
"Someone else? Who?" Sam asked.
"Let's just say he has some experience with the threat we're facing. Oh, and we must be arriving.... n-!" Isaac's words were interrupted when something slammed vicously onto the side of the Pelican, sending them quickly crashing down.
Sam groaned, but Isaac was already on his feet, wripping open the door, firing off a few shots of his Battle Rifle. "Crap," he said, looking out, "they're not supposed to have breached the bulkhead yet!" He fired at the incredibly warped, inhuman beings charging at them, each firing from a gun held.
Sam groaned again and pushed himself to his feet, feeling a little out of it from the force of the landing. Shaking himself out of his daze and stumbling over to Isaac's side, he drew his DMR and tried to get a lock on on what was attacking them. He paused and hesitated when he saw the inhuman creatures.
"What the hell are those things?!" Sam shouted to his comrade, finally pulling the trigger of his weapon.
"Pfhor!" Isaac yelled back, "mostly troopers, but if we have terrible luck, we'll get a hulk!" He quickly reloaded.
"Pfhor?!" Sam responded, confused and pretty sure he was in a dream. Maybe the crash knocked him out and he was imagining things. But if that weren't the case, he didn't want to find out. Maybe it would end soon if the fight kept on long enough. His DMR clicked empty and he hit the 'eject' button, dropping the empty clip and sliding in a new one.
"Pfhor!" Isaac yelled, forgetting that Sam had not yet been briefed, "an infestation appeared on Tau Ceti a few years ago, but thanks to the Marathon, we managed to send them back. But they've invaded the galaxy!" He paused, then gasped slightly. A figure jumped down, seizing a Pfhor and sliding a knife into it.
"Wait, Marathon?! The hell are you-?!" Sam didn't finish. He watched the figure as he proceeded to slice one of the Pfhor. He raised an eyebrow and glanced over at Isaac.
"Friend of yours?!"
"Something like that," Isaac muttered, "YOU'RE A BIT LATE!" he yelled at the figure. The figure shrugged, before yanking out a plasma repeater and starting to mow down bits of the Pfhor. "But, yeah, the Marathon. Heard of it?"
"Not really," Sam shrugged, lowering his weapon a little. "I thought it was a game...or was it a symbol?...But yeah, you might need to fill me in on it."
"The UNSC Marathon was one of the earliest faster-than-light transports ever created," Isaac panted, pausing to fire some shots, "it had just arrived on Tau Ceti when it was borded by an unknown race. That was years ago."
"So how are they invading the galaxy if the Marathon managed to send them back?" Sam asked, slowly getting what Isaac was getting at. He paused and fired off three more shots into some Pfhor that got too close. He glanced over at the other figure. Just who the hell was that?
"The Marathon pushed them back," Isaac said, "though it hardly dented their forces. There was a small war, one that was never publicised, and they left for an unknown reason. Now they're - CRAP!" A frag detonated inside the Pelican, sending them both smashing into the walls. The figure returned, tossing another grenade.
Sam roughly pushed himself up off the ground, leaning heavily against the wall. He growled and reached down, grabbing his M6D and aiming. Granted, one handed firing of a magnum wasn't the brightest idea, but Sam had enough of groaning and being flung around today.
"Just...go...to...hell!" Sam shouted angrily between shots.
The figure whipped around, waving his arm frantically. "He means retreat!" Isaac said, quickly leaping to the controls and slamming the door of the Pelican shut. He quickly started up, Pfhor weaponry pinging outside.
Sam slowly slid down the wall, his gun falling out of his grip. His shoulder began to hurt as the adrenaline from the fight slowly gave away. He grunted and shut his eyes, breathing in and out slowly. He then snapped them open and looked over at Isaac.
"What the fucking hell just happened?!"
Isaac was breathing hard, rubbing some sweat underneath his helmet. He looked at Sam, shaken. "We set up a barricade on this planet. Apparently, the Pfhor overwhelmed the guards. They're not strong, but they have insane numbers. We're retreating to Point Delta. Our friend will pick up the two we came for. Let's just hope we beat the Pfhor there."
"Who else are we picking up? I heard you mention Larry, Song and Rocket Shoes." Sam questioned, moving to a seperate seat off the ground.
"Rocket Shoes is at Pt. Delta," Isaac said, "Winters will pick up Martinez and Song." He paused. "Unless the Pfhor reach them first."
Sam's eyes seem to harden and he looked down a little. Fear began to slowly slide through his veins, making his heart beat quicker. He didn't care much for Rocket Shoes, but he worried for Martinez's and Song's safety.
"Anyone else?" Sam deduced that, if Isaac had recruited him and was going around picking up members from the former Red and Blue teams of Blood Gulch, there had to be more.
"Chief and Killgrave are at Pt. Theta, a outpost somewhat close to them. They beat back a Pfhor assault a bit ago. Templar's at command, reverse einginneering some Pfhor tech with Maddox. Alexa's with a group of ODSTs on Reach, fortifying it's defenses."
"Good," Sam mumbled, leaning back and closing his eyes, "no one's dead yet..."
The Staff Sergeant slowly drifted off to sleep, assured by the presence of the ONI agent that nothing would interrupt it. And that he would soon be back in the presence of good friends.
"Hey, wake up. We're here." Isaac shook Harrison awake. "And someone's waiting for you."
A blue-and-cobalt armored hand stuck itself out for Harrison to shake. "Staff Sergeant Harrison? I'm Brian Winters. It's good to meet you." Winters turned to Isaac. "You still owe me for taking out those tangos."
"I know." Isaac said, "I'll buy your lunch in the mess hall."
"I was thinking something more along the lines of access to the com's room."
"*Sigh* Fine, if you must."
Sam yawned as he managed to get himself to his feet. Idly wiping his eyes and tucking his helmet beneath his arm, the Staff Sergeant nodded at Brian and turned to Isaac. He cocked his head and grinned sheepishly.
"Where are we exactly?"
"Point Delta," Winters said, "it's a high tech comm satellite array... in the sky. There's a station built around it, but we've found it useful in taking out the Pfhor."
"Sir!" came a voice of an average grunt, running up to Winters, "Pfhor units have been sighted!"
"They swarmed Arcturus, were pushed back by the Zanzibar outpost, and are heading here."
"Zanzibar took some light casulties."
"Good. I trust the excavation is proceeding as planned. Soldier, escort Staff Sergeant Harrison to his quaters in the lower decks. Officer Jacobs and I need to discuss something."
Sam frowned but didn't object. Technically, since he was a simulation trooper and the fact that he was a SSgt, he didn't have any choice in the matter. Nodding at the soldier, Sam slipped his helmet back on.
"Lead the way."
The soldier hummed slightly as he led Sam to a small, standard army room. "So, know anything about Winters?" he asked.
"I can open the door at 12," Isaac said, removing his helmet as they walked. Winters was walking loosely, occasionally stopping completely for a few seconds. Isaac looked at him, looking worried. "Is it acting up again? I thought it was removed?"
"Well..." Isaac still looked doubtful, "if you need anything, talk to me. I'm your friend."
"I don't have the pleasure of friends."
It was late at night. Most of the base was asleep. Suddenly, pounding came on Sam's door. "Open up," Winter cried, "and arm yourself!"
Sam jolted awake, sweat dripping down his forehead. It took him a minute to realize what was going on and he quickly grabbed his M6D before cracking open the door.
"We're under attack!" Winters said, "a Hulk's inside the base!"
"What?! How the hell did it get in?!" Sam shouted, pushing the door all the way open and joining Winters in the hallway. He briefly checked his pistols clip and nodded at Winters to go ahead.
Winters cocked his battle rifle. "It... smashed it's way in. The only thing that can really take it down is either AA fire or orbital bombardment. As we have neither, we're going to light it on fire." He stopped, yanking a flamethrower off the wall.
"ALERT! ALERT!" came a voice on the wall, that was somewhat familiar, "PFHOR HAVE ENTERED THE BASE! REPEAT, PFHOR HAVE ENTERED THE BASE! EVACUATE! HULK PRESCENCE DETECTED!"
A gold-armored soldier darted quickly towards them, talking loudly and to himself. "No! We have to get out! If the Pfhor get their hands on an AI... we're screwed! Sam, it's you!"
Sam raised an eyebrow in confusion.
"Staff Sergeant Templar!" Winters growled, "what are you doing?"
"Umm... trying to get out with Kalima... isn't that protocol?" the gold soldier said, scratching his head.
"No! Protocol is to defend the base until we're absolutely sure we can't push the Pfhor back."
"We've never been able to push them back!"
"Wait a minute," Sam paused, looking closer at the gold soldier, "Templar? You're here too?! And you've still got that whacky AI?"
Then he paused again, before turning to Winters.
"You've never been able to push the Phfor back?"
Winters shook his head. "Whenever they attack, we can kill a ton of them, but we always have to retreat. We have a lot more success when we attack. Whoever's on the offense usually wins."
"... And she's not a wacky AI." Templar said, sniffing.
Sam stared at Templar for a full minute blankly.
"I think you've grown a bit to attached to it Tempy..."
Sam then shook himself out of the daze induced by Templar before turning to Winters.
"Which way to that...hulk?..."
"Oh, no." Winters said, "I'm taking out the Hulk. You and Templar head to the landing bay, get a Pelican running. I believe Templar is qualified."
"Yes, sir!" Templar said, pulling Sam towards the hangar, kicking him in the back. "Tempy?!" he hissed.
Sam yelped and held his back from the kick, glaring over at his friend. He muttered under his breath as he followed along.
"Would you prefer Tempy or Jimmy?....Or how about Jimpy?" Sam mockingly asked, removing his hand from his back. He quickly skittered away to avoid another hit of retaliation from James and made it to the center of the hangar. Glancing around, he made his way over to one of the two pelicans parked.
"Great," Templar said, running towards the Pelican.
The door of the hangar shot out, nearly beheading Templer and crushing the other Pelican. Through the door crashed a impossibly large, grey creature which could barely fit through the door. It wore light red armor on it's chest and shoulders. It sniffed briefly, then let out a massive roar.
Sam's eyes widened and his jaw dropped as he observed the massive creature. His heart began to beat fast and fear quickly took hold. His gun fell out of his hand and he backed up, before sprinting to the only intact bird.
"I THOUGHT WINTERS WAS GOING TO KILL THAT THING!!!!"
Right on cue, a burst of flame sent the Hulk stepping back. Winters ran in, firing like there was no tommorow from the flamethrower. Right behind him came a red-armored soldier, flying clumisly from rockets on his boots. As he took aim, the Hulk raised it's hand, smashing into him.
The Hulk hurled Rocket Shoes into a wall, where he fell down, leaving a streak of blood.
At that moment, Winters leaped on top of the thing, drawing an knife. He scowled, slamming it brutally into the Hulk's eye. It let out another roar. "GO!" Winters yelled. Templar grabbed Sam and hurled him into the bird, slamming the door shut.
Sam immediately got up, slamming his fist against the door. He could still hear the occasional roar and the burst of flame. It couldn't be happening, so close.
"We have to help!" Sam shouted with fear, "Rocket Shoes and Winters are still out there! We can't leave them to die!"
"I've been working with Winters for years," Templar said, "he'll survive. And if Rocket Shoes survived that, Winters will help him. Kalima, what's our best course of action?"
"I believe that our greatest course of action is to regroup with Commander Krayson and Admiral Carpenter back in orbit, aboard the Daughter of the Sun. From there, we can bombard the surface, whip out Pfhor prescence for a time."
Sam paused when he heard the names. Carpenter was a good one. His eyes narrowed, brow furrowing. His fists clenched tightly and he whirled on Templar.
"Commander....Krayson?..." Sam practically hissed.
"Yeah, Krayson," Templar said, "brillian tactician. He's been leading the resistance against the Pfhor from aboard the Daughter of the Sun since the whole thing began. Most of our victories are due to him. Why?"
"Leaving orbit," Kalima reported.
Sam lowered his head, glaring at the floor.
"That son of a bitch nearly killed me and my team back in Blood Gulch before having a 'change of heart' and spared us..." Sam muttered.
"He was gathering intel," Templar said, "it's because of him that you're here. He decided you had what it takes. Be honored. He rarely gives compliments... but I'm sorry about Zanzibar."
"Heading towards the Daughter," Kalima said.
Sam shakily sat down on one of the pelicans seats and rested his head in his hands. Zanzibar was gone, he knew it. Mark, Lizbeth....Adrianna....all gone. He closed his eyes and let the tears flow.
Templar looked over. "Hey, it's okay," he said, "I've lost a lot of friends too... and Winters has got it really bad."
Sam shook his head and lowered it more. His heart ached. He slowly reached into his chest plate and pulled out the two pictures he had carried with him, raising them so he could see them clearly. The one with Adrianna and himself was slightly crinkled, and the one of him and his father was still as neat and folded as it was when Maddox delivered it five years ago.
"First my dad....now the woman I wanted to marry..." Sam let out a strangled, hollow laugh, "life sure does like to fuck over certain people..."
"My home planet is occupied," Templar said, "Winters' wife and two kids are missing. Presumably dead... but you heard the guy, there are survivors at Zanzibar."
"Arrival at the Daughter." Kalima piped up.
The ship slowly pulled into the massive hangar bay. Troopers ran around, delivering messages about Pfhor movements, while the bridge was clearly visible through a small plate. A cobalt armored soldier was holding a datapad and talking to a Mark V wearing, blue-armored soldier, both pointing at the datapad as reference.
"Yeah," Sam muttered as he got to his feet, slipping his Mk.V helmet back on, "guess I shouldn't complain." He paused as he looked about and then back at Templar. "Where do we go?"
"To the bridge," Kalima said.
Sam and Templar made their way to the bridge. Krayson and Chief had finished their discussion over the datapad. Chief was lounging in the captain's chair, while Krayson was pacing slightly, talking to other peoples. As Templar took the lead and ran up front, he spoke to him.
"Captain Krayson," he said, "we lost Pt. Delta."
"Bloody hell," Krayson said, "the bombardment's gonna have to happen then."
"Certainly," Chief's voice said, "good to have you back, Sam. Where's Winters and Clay?"
"We had to leave them behind." Sam informed, crossing his arms behind his back as he nodded at his previous father-like figure. He also briefly nodded at Krayson, putting his feelings aside for the moment.
"Winters was taking out a Hulk, sir," Templar said, "... I believe Clay to be KIA."
"Bloody hell!" Krayson said. "That's it, begin the bombardment! I'm not letting one of those buggers getting away this time!"