Ring the Bell (A short story fanfiction)

Hey, Spartans! I’ve been playing Infinite more lately, and rereading the Novels more and wanted to write a War Games story. Let me know how you all like it!

Ring The Bell

1146 HOURS, FEBRUARY 16, 2558 (MILITARY CALENDAR) \ ABOARD UNSC INFINITY IN ORBIT ABOVE FORERUNNER SHIELD WORLD, REQUIEM.

[WAR GAMES SIMULATION IN PROGRESS]

: RUMBLE PIT [SINGLE ELIMINATION]…//

: MAP_SET/: 680-4 [ZANZIBAR]…//

[BEGIN PLAYBACK]…//

Spartan Jay G-296 slammed hard on his back, and down the concrete stairs on the outskirts of the archived War Games map, Zanzibar. He pulled the pair of M20 submachine guns from their magnetic thigh mounts and aimed them up from where he had just fallen from, expecting a fellow Gamma Spartan-III named Brianna, clad in gray and red RECLUSE-class GEN2 MJOLNIR armor to turn the corner with her BR-75 battle rifle in tow. But no one came.

Jay had known Brianna since they were five years old, tracing back to their first week arriving on Onyx back in 2544. While they were never placed on the same team as each other, they were often enemies during training exercises, and they knew each other’s personal tactics well. She was aggressive, sometimes to a fault, and preferred to use her small size and natural speed to her advantage in situations like this. Chief Mendez often chastised her about it, saying that “speed and aggression are only as useful as the mind using them”. She was smart, but Jay was the better fighter in close quarters.

He checked his radar and found that the red blip indicating his target was retreating down the hallway from where they had encountered each other, no doubt to recharge her shields and re-strategize fighting against a Spartan, dual wielding M20 Submachine Guns in close quarters. Jay scanned through the H.U.D of his MJOLNIR armor’s helmet, ignoring the repetitive beeps of his its low-shield level warning system, and noted that his ammo count was flashing red, indicating less than half a mag in each SMG he held. He carried no spare magazines, and the battle rifle clamped to his back needed to be reloaded. Jay hoped Brianna didn’t loop back around to continue the fight and press this opportunity, but if she did, he would still be able to put up a decent fight.

Jay lay there at the bottom of the stairs not moving a single muscle, nor even blinking, for another seven seconds, keeping one eye on the top of the stairs and the other on his motion tracker. The advanced sensors in his GEN2 ANUBIS-class MJOLNIR helmet that he used during his extended recon missions down on Requiem, combined with the enhanced neurological features of the RECLUSE-class MJOLNIR armor which covered the rest of his body, which helped maintain and channel his peculiar and potentially volatile Gamma augmentations, specifically the paranoia aspect of its side effects, meant that he would certainly be aware if his fellow Gamma made her return.

The sound of waves rolling onto the nearby shoreline offered a steady measurement of time passing, drawing his attention to the mission countdown timer on his HUD: 3:21. Why didn’t she press the attack? She should’ve re-engaged him by now, tossed a grenade down, flanked him from the right, something. But she never came, and now his shields were already recharged.

“Alright. I’ll find you then.”

The Spartan-III sat up, and positioned his feet under him so that he was in a low crouch, keeping his guns trained on the top of the stairs. When nobody turned the corner he placed the SMGs onto their mounts, and pulled the BR-75 from the magnetic clamp on his back. He ejected the magazine from the rifle, and slid a fresh one into the receiver, before racking the charging handle. The ammo indicator on the rifle barely had a chance to change from “00” to “36” before a blip reappeared on the far edge of his motion tracker, and a flash grenade came tumbling down the stairway.

Damn!

His visor polarized automatically as his brain processed the threat and his armor interpreted his next thought before it could transfer from his subconscious to his consciousness. The grenade detonated in an intense flare of brilliant white that, had his armor not been as fast as it was, would have rendered him blind to the fact that his old friend was now charging towards him down the stairs, using her MJOLNIR’s thrusters to propel her faster. A burst of 9.5x40mm rounds ricocheted off Jay’s shields which drained to half charge, as Brianna slammed into him, knocking his battle rifle from his grasp, and sending them both tumbling down the next set of stairs and onto the sandy beach.

Jay was the first to recover. Having once again fallen backwards down the stairs he forced himself into roll as the two separated, and came up on his feet. He pulled the SMG from his left thigh mount and sprayed at the enemy, who was scrambling from her stomach to recover in the sand, while at the same time beginning to return fire, one handed, with her battle rifle. Jay continued peppering her shields until they overloaded and popped as his SMG clacked empty.

He threw the SMG from his hand, pulled a frag grenade from his belt and primed it. Knowing that her increased forward momentum, mixed with her currently unstable footing would almost certainly prevent an effective change in direction, even taking into account her integrated MJOLNIR thrusters, Jay underhanded the grenade just ahead of Brianna as his own shields diminished and popped from her continued unwavering assault.

Brianna stumbled awkwardly as she watched the explosive impact the sand two meters in front of her, and tried to reverse direction to no avail. Her thrusters flared in an attempt to correct her stance and veer her away from the explosive, but it was too little too late. The grenade detonated in a plume of glassed sand and shrapnel, blasting the Spartan-III backwards, irrecoverably damaged.

“THREE ENEMIES REMAINING!” the War Games AI announcer boomed over the battleground.

“Sorry, Bri. But this match is mine.”

Jay shouldered his rifle and swept his surroundings from left to right, starting at the upper half of the stairs, and worked his way down to the far side of the beach over a hundred meters away. When he determined that the area was clear of hostiles, he strode to Brianna’s armor locked body and did a quick scavenge of her ammo and equipment. She had one extra magazine for the BR-75, one Forerunner pulse grenade, and an M6H Magnum. Jay took all of it, placing the ammo in a pouch on his chest, and the grenade on his belt, before taking the magnum, checking its magazine to confirm it was loaded, and placing it on his left magnetic mount in lieu of the SMG.

With that, the Spartan proceeded up the stairs along the ruined wall of the power station, making sure that he kept an eye out for any potential traps set up by his old rival. He found one. An elaborate double tripwire setup, in which one obvious wire was set up to a pair of frag grenades, and the second was hidden in the shadow of an overhanging fern where it would be tripped if the target simply stepped over the first. The second wire was connected to a Forerunner pulse grenade which upon activation, was aimed to startle the target backwards and into the first tripwire, resulting in a kill.

So that’s what she was up to? Nice try, Bri.

Jay examined the passageway once again to ensure he didn’t miss a possible third trip wire, before stepping over the trap, which would now cover his flank. He proceeded through a doorway in the wall, and entered a stone hallway with a set of stairs which lead further up and another that lead down to the complex’s entrance on either side. He took the upper set of stairs and proceeded to the corner at its end, where a break in the wall overlooked the station’s main approach vector and entry way, and offered a four meter drop into the complex itself.

From there he could see the majority of the northern half of the complex, including the far edge of where Red Team spawns during a match of Team Slayer, through the station’s massive Turbine rotation. He could also see just past the power station’s main gate entrance, so that he could better watch for anyone flanking him from the lower set of stairs he didn’t take. It was a powerful position which let him potentially cut-off any sort of rotation between several of the main points of cover on the exterior side of the map. He could even see the location of the energy sword spawn, its twin blades shimmering deadly arcs of plasma from its hilt. But that was too obvious a play. There were probably already traps set up on the approach to the sword, and if not, the other Spartans were certainly watching it even this late in the match.

Unfortunately for him however, Jay didn’t currently possess one of the map’s Series 99 sniper rifles, which meant that any target he fired upon would likely escape with nothing more than depleted shield levels, which greatly nullified his position. Unless they were some sort of dense idiot who didn’t know how to properly use cover that is. But they were all Spartans on this field, and you didn’t get to be a Spartan if you didn’t understand the basics of combat.

Or maybe, if they were just in such a bad position relative to Jay’s current perch.

Below him, thirty meters ahead, Jay noticed a Spartan-IV kneeling in cover behind the railing of the station’s Blockhouse ramp, completely unaware of the Spartan-III’s position on his flank. He gazed through his battle rifle’s scope, and watched as a Spartan in blue and white shifted back and forth in his cover, anticipating when he should make his move. Jay debated opening fire on the Spartan, and claiming an easy kill on an unsuspecting target, but something about their apprehension made him question if he should be so hasty. He decided against it for now. Had this been a normal match of Rumble Pit he wouldn’t have hesitated to lay into the target immediately, and risk giving away his position to whoever they were nervous about, because he would just respawn at a random point. But this was not a normal game of Rumble Pit. This was a free-for-all, single elimination match in which if you were “killed”, you were out of the game entirely. At the end of the match countdown, if there were still multiple Spartans standing, a tiebreaker bell would appear on the ground floor underneath the ramp to the Turbine Wheel itself. Whoever rang that bell would win the match.

So he would bide his time, and observe carefully from afar, anticipating that this Spartan knew something that he did not.

Just like the old days.

One minute passed and the Spartan-IV was no closer to moving than when Jay first spotted him. Although they had begun to scan their environment to ensure nobody was sneaking up on them while they were trying to make their decision. Jay had been forced to shift into cover down the hallway a few feet to the top of the staircase when the Spartan-IV looked his way, before chancing a glance back around the break in the wall to see that his target was still there. The Spartan was now in a low crouch, ready to spring into the open and to their next point of cover at the base of the Turbine’s housing. A second later, and they were up and moving, a plume of dirt kicking up as his MJOLNIR armor stomped into the ground and propelled them forward hard and fast. But no sooner than when he stood up and stepped from cover, did the telltale CRACK of a Series 99 sniper rifle echo throughout the complex, and the Spartan dropped to the floor in a heap, sliding across the sand strewn surface.

“TWO ENEMIES REMAINING!” the announcer’s voice said, confirming the “death” on the Spartan below.

Jay traced the bullet’s rapidly vanishing vapor trail, and found that it originated from somewhere on the far platform on the third floor of the power station’s main building. But he couldn’t see anyone there. He magnified the optics in his faceplate and noticed a subtle shimmer in the sunlight’s heatwaves. A minute shift in light and detail as the wind blew dust particles around the ghostly figure, made the slow movement of a Spartan wielding an SRS99-S5 while making a zone sweep became more obvious.

Active Camouflage.

Had Jay not been a Spartan-III who trained half his life with, alongside, and against fellow Spartan-IIIs utilizing their signature Semi-Powered Infiltration armor, which came standard with Active Camouflage, he was certain there was a good chance he would not have seen this threat. In fact, he was lucky that the enemy hadn’t seen him earlier from their position, as they were likely also fixated on the Spartan down at the Blockhouse who was now dead.

As it was however, Jay now possessed valuable intel that would help him navigate the soon to be hectic final minute of this match. Sure he didn’t know where the last Spartan was exactly, but he knew that they had to be either in the Turbine’s Control Tower to the west, or inside the main Power Station itself, loitering until the bell spawned for someone to ring and win it all.

Jay backtracked down the stairway and outside to the bottom set of stairs, and crouched at the half-wall to conceal himself from the sniper’s location. He aimed his battle rifle at the Control Tower to see if he could spot the remaining Spartan, but came up with nothing. No movement, and no shimmering active camouflage.

Good.

With luck, that last Spartan would be inside the power station, and he would be free to move to take this tower uncontested. Jay turned to the Turbine and watched its rotation. It was massive. Each of the three blades on it were easily ten meters long and six wide. Large enough to cover him from the sniper as he made his way to the debris-covered boulder up ahead, and once again as he crossed the open space to the stairs leading to the Control Tower.

He watched it rotate a full revolution once more, paying close attention to the speed at which it turned, and exploded into a leap down the fifteen steps before using his MJOLNIR’s thrusters to immediately change his course direction, and into the cover of the boulder once he landed.

“ONE MINUTE REMAINING!” the AI announced for everyone to hear.

Jay watched the wheel spin a third rotation, and sprinted as fast as he could from behind the boulder, and towards the stairs ahead of him 25 meters away. He crossed the gap in five long strides, then proceeded up the staircase double-quick as he swapped his battle rifle for the SMG and scanned the landing for any targets once again. Clear.

Jay continued up the ramp leading to the top of the tower, where he knew he would have a great line of sight on the sniper, as well as the other Spartan should they leave the main building. He holstered his SMG and brought his rifle to bear once again, keeping it lowered so that he could see all the possible points of approach towards the bell, and crouching behind a steel barrier for cover. He looked on the third floor platform where he had previously seen the camouflaged sniper and saw them crouching where they had been before, only now they were watching the approach to the bell on the ground floor.

“TEN SECONDS!”

It was then that Jay spotted a Spartan-IV in dark blue GEN2 ENFORCER-class MJOLNIR armor peer out from the far middle entrance on the bottom floor of the Power Station, directly below the camouflaged sniper. They wielded a Type-25 Covenant plasma rifle often favored by Sangheili Elites, and on their back looked to be a BR-75 battle rifle.

As far as Jay could tell, neither of the two Spartans were aware of the other’s presence. Something that he knew he could easily exploit. He aimed through the scope of his BR-75 and placed the reticle on where he assumed the magwell of the SRS99 would be. He couldn’t exactly see his target since it was cloaked, but he knew the profile of the sniper rifle well, and the approximate size and positioning of the sniper wielding it. He wanted to decommission that rifle, because in the right hands it was the superior tool in this situation. That sniper had the ability to instantly shut down any person unfortunate enough to go for that bell once it spawned, and he would rather not engage a cloaked Spartan on overwatch alone.

Then he fired a three round burst. 

The first bullet missed by mere millimeters, but the second and third connected with the sniper rifle’s magazine and sent sparks flying as the weapon’s metal frame burst open. A heartbeat later, Jay adjusted his aim slightly and fired a second burst of 9.5x44mm which connected and flared the sniper’s shield. The Spartan’s active camouflage flickered and failed, revealing a Spartan-IV wearing GEN2 LOCUS-class MJOLNIR armor, who was now plainly visible to the Spartan below who realized there was a target above him.

“TIME! RING THE BELL TO WIN!” the AI declared in an urgent tone.

In the shadow of the Turbine, between its main housing, and the clustered support pillars leading up to the wheel itself, a freshly polished silver bell appeared hanging from a pole in the concrete floor. It sat right next to a pair of fusion coils which glowed intensely, creating the potential for one big kill box centered around the bell.

Just like Chief Mendez’s tests. There’s always one last obstacle to look out for at the cusp of victory.

All eyes turned to the bell for a brief second before the ENFORCER Spartan reared their plasma rifle and fired upward at the Spartan-IV on the landing above him. Hot bolts of plasma energy splashed against the metal deck at the LOCUS Spartan’s feet, and began burning away their shields.

The LOCUS Spartan, having been utterly surprised at being the one ambushed instead of the one ambushing, stood up from his position and retreated to the back of the platform, and around a corner to safety.

Below, the ENFORCER Spartan, seeing this as their opportunity to Victory began sprinting for the bell across the courtyard. But Jay had predicted this outcome and already held the confiscated Forerunner pulse grenade in his hand. He side-chucked the grenade which landed directly in front of the bell, exploding outward in an orange sphere of ionized particles, blocking the Spartan-IV’s advance, and encasing the two fusion coils. The Spartan skid to a halt a few steps from the edge of the sphere as the coils violently erupted in a shower of superheated, liquid plasma and shrapnel which rained down on the ENFORCER Spartan, searing away at their energy shields and sending them flying backwards from the shockwave.

Jay leaped down from the Control Tower ten meters up, and landed in a shoulder roll on the sandy slope at the tower’s base. The bell was straight ahead of him now, thirty meters to victory. Multiple Spartans left standing or not, if he rang that bell, he won the training exercise. He made a mad dash for the bell, M20 SMG and M6H magnum in hand, and he was halfway there before a hail of bullets and plasma bolts poured around him and splashed against his shields, draining them to a quarter strength. Ahead of him, passed the bell, and standing only a few meters from each other, the two Spartan-IVs were firing at him in unison.

Generational competition. They’d rather team up against the Spartan-III and fight each other in the aftermath, than to let him win by outsmarting them.

He staggered against the incoming fire and watched his shields drain to nothing as he reached the sloped wall at the base of the Turbine’s housing structure, and a plasma bolt struck against his ribcage where the titanium MJOLNIR plating did not cover. It melted away at the exposed techsuit like fire to thin paper, and seared through his skin to the sensitive muscle underneath. The pain was blinding and rolled throughout his body, and in that moment, it made him very angry. He felt along his ribcage and his hand came away slick with blood. This was his win. He would not back down literally ten meters from victory and watch as these Spartan-IVs wrestled over who would ring that bell.

Alarms blared in his helmet as his shields worked to recharge, and his GEN2 MJOLNIR’s biofoam injectors did their job, filling the wound with painful self-hardening liquid. Bullets and plasma bolts continued firing off, but no longer in Jay’s direction. They were fighting each other now, and assumed that their engagement would be over before the Gamma had a chance to effectively recover.

But recovery in a situation like this for a Gamma was optional. Getting shot only made a Gamma Spartan more angry and lethal. His psychological augments would be coming into effect right now to help get him through the next fight and to that bell first. His vision came into extreme focus as the blurriness faded and his head cleared. Twenty seconds. That was all he needed.

Jay embraced the pain and rounded the corner, bringing his dual wielded weapons to bear. The Spartan-IVs were in close now, slugging it out with each other as they fought tooth and nail to inch closer to the bell. Just as one got the upper hand, the other would find a way to trip their opponent, enter the mount position, and start a barrage of punches and elbows before scrambling away to the bell themselves. The sound was thunderous as Spartans in quarter-ton titanium MJOLNIR armor hammered away at each other.

This didn’t stop them from noticing Jay the moment he turned the corner though, their motion trackers pinging his movement. The LOCUS Spartan pulled an M6H sidearm from his thigh and rolled into a kneel, firing past the bell, while the ENFORCER Spartan stood and sprinted on an intercept course for Jay.
The duo’s impromptu teamwork was good, Jay had to admit. But it wasn’t the best, and it possessed one glaring mistake that he would be sure to capitalize upon: The current space of engagement was not big enough for safe lines of fire. Between the four tight formation pillars the LOCUS Spartan was shooting through, and the massive figure of the ENFORCER entering the fire zone, there was a high probability of friendly fire. Jay just had to leverage that fact to eliminate one hostile before focusing on the other in likely hand-to-hand combat.

Bullets pinged off the titanium plating on Jay’s armor as he aimed his own pistol as best he could at the Spartan and returned fire. The Spartan-III then shifted his attention from the LOCUS to the ENFORCER Spartan who was about to tackle him, and threw himself to the floor, rolling away from the bell, and into a line in which the ENFORCER was directly between the two Spartans and in the direct field of fire of his fellow Spartan-IV who continued to empty his magazine. As he rolled, Jay sprayed what remained of his M20 SMG into the knees of the ENFORCER who’s shields were already sparking in depletion.

High-velocity armor-piercing rounds ripped into the knees of the bare MJOLNIR armor and tore through its protection, as more bullets struck the ENFORCER Spartan in the back from his temporary ally. Combined, the gunfire sent the Spartan-IV into an unrecoverable tumble as his legs gave way and 250 kilos of MJOLNIR came crashing into the sand covered concrete like a brick house. Jay pushed himself into a standing position and put the last bullet from his M6H into the back of the Spartan’s head for good measure.

“SHOWDOWN!” the AI boomed.

The Spartans stared at each other, then glanced at the bell. They were roughly an equal distance from the objective, with Jay being a few feet closer which meant that whoever was faster was going to win. Jay’s ribs still burned from the plasma bolt, but his augments and armor would see him through. He could reach it.

The Spartan-IV burst forth from his crouch, towards the bell, using his MJOLNIR’s thrusters to give him a speed assist. At the same time, Jay flipped his SMG around so he was grabbing it by the stock and threw it as hard as he could at the Spartan-IV. The gun connected with the helmet, and having been thrown by a genetically augmented supersoldier, enhanced with the strength of a set of MJOLNIR armor, and impacting against the titanium alloy of another set of MJOLNIR, shattered in half on impact and sent the gun showering down like rain. The force slowed and knocked back the Spartan-IV on his approach, and Jay used this opportunity to spring forward himself to intercept his enemy and engage in close quarters combat.

His thrusters fired at max burn, propelling him forward fast enough to body slam the Spartan-IV off their feet. The Spartan-IV rolled backwards and came up sprinting back at Jay, their right arm poised to strike. Jay slipped the punch to the outside of his opponent, and countered with a purposefully sloppy cross which left his burned ribs wide open for a baited attack. His punch however still landed hard on the side of the Spartan-IV’s helmet, cracking the titanium shielded visor on that half of their helmet. Despite this, the Spartan’s body barely recoiled as their own augments and willpower allowed them to simply tank the enhanced punch. Then the Spartan-IV answered with the expected left hook to the burned tissue on Jay’s side. It was going to hurt, but he was already braced and ready for the pain.

Big mistake!

A jolt of agony shot through him like lightning, and his vision blurred slightly once again, but this was what he wanted. More pain meant more strength, which he would need for what he had planned.

He trapped the Spartan’s arm against his side using his right arm to clutch it tight. With his left hand, he pushed hard against his opponent’s body, forcing the trapped arm to become rigid before bringing it up until the elbow locked in place. The Spartan-IV pummeled against Jay with their free hand, his MJOLNIR denting repeatedly against the thunderous strikes while they tugged their arm in an attempt to free themself. A futile act. The arm was Jay’s now, and it was as good as broken.

Jay kept the arm taut, applying downward pressure with his left forearm, while forcing their arm upward with his right, all pressure on the elbow.

Then using all his strength, multiplied by his MJOLNIR, and compounded by his psychological Gamma augments in effect due to his plasma injury, he jumped. Straight into a thruster assisted backflip which lifted the Spartan-IV from the ground and snapped the elbow joint in their arm in two, before Jay let go midair and the Spartan-IV went plunging to the ground five meters behind Jay, their arm a disfigured lump encased in MJOLNIR armor.
The Spartan-III stood to his full height and looked back to make sure his enemy was not able to continue. They couldn’t. The Spartan-IV was already rolling to their knees, struggling in vain to stand back up and fight as their arm dangled useless against the ground, but they couldn’t manage it. And it wouldn’t matter. Not right now.

Jay walked to the bell and grabbed the short length of rope attached to it before ringing it three times.

Victory never sounded so good.

2 Likes

Because, even 40 years after it was first done by the Spartan-IIs on Reach, the bell exercise still serves its purpose well.

NICE.

Holy Crap it’s, Orca!

I haven’t seen you in years bro! But then again, I haven’t really been active here in that long either.

I absolutely LOVE the bell test. It’s such a simple objective that gets turned into a Spartan level chess match.

I’ve been getting into more fanfiction writing for Halo recently, and was about to post the follow up story to this one, and the first chapter in a longer storyline. Just in case you’re interested.

Thanks for the feedback, man! I appreciate it.

1 Like

Its gonna take a lot more than an angry fanbase and some slow material releases to get me to stop likin’ this franchise my man, thats a PROMISE!

Was refreshing to read some good centered fanfic again honestly.

Same here. Halo is one of the greatest franchises in gaming, and poor design choice and content isn’t going to break the legacy it’s already built. I just bought Rubicon Protocol a few days ago, and it’s awesome so far!

I’m glad you liked my story! I had to take a break from writing Chapter 3 on the longer story I more recently posted, but I’m back at it now. I tell you, reading the books is extremely helpful in getting my descriptions and stories right.