Phoenix Logs/Multiplayer Maps
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The wreckage of a Covenant freighter lies scattered across the amber wasteland.
This hostile environment, blood-red and battered by harsh winds, is rendered even crueler by the scorched and smoking remains of a Covenant freighter, blasted out of the sky by Forerunner defenses. The impact trench created by the crash leads down into a deep crater, where the force of the collision has destroyed the top layer of the refugia, revealing the proto-Forerunner substructure running underneath.
The unforgiving desert threatens to engulf this Forerunner bastion and all who fight there.
"I was tired. I signaled to the Grunt on the other side of the door, undid the lock and stepped back, hands held up where it could see me. The Grunt got up slowly and started walking towards it.
I had stumbled upon the abandoned research outpost a couple of days ago after a week in the howling desert wind. My entire squad had been killed in a Banished ambush, but I was saved - then damned - by a sudden sandstorm that covered my escape. Then came a week walking through the biting wind, ears dulled by the constant whine, almost delirious with starvation. I tried to cry when I first saw the outpost, but I was so dehydrated I could only choke out a few guttural noises.
With the researchers long dead the outpost was filthy and a stale smell hung in the air, but the quiet hum of the power systems after the noise of the desert felt like home. I found fresh clothes, enough food stocks for six months and a communication system that I thought I could get working within a few days so I could contact the Spirit of Fire. I ate a large meal, found a cot and fell asleep in seconds.
A crash woke me up, and I crept into the corridor to see a Grunt inside the pantry, searching for supplies - I wasn't the only one who had gotten lost in the storm. I slammed the door and locked it. Trapping the Grunt inside. He spun around, shocked to see someone else and then tried to barge through the door. But it was too heavy. He started pacing around in circles, which is when he saw my gun propped up against the refrigerator inside the pantry. We had a standoff; he was trapped, but I was unarmed and couldn't get to the food. My only hope was the communications equipment.
After three days without food, I was ravenous and having lapses in concentration. I weighed the risks and decided to let the Grunt out so I could get to the supplies. As he crossed the threshold of the door he triggered the tripwire, setting off the small explosion I had cannibalized from the communications equipment. I dragged his body to the side of the pantry and took a drink from the refrigerator. I wasn't going to be calling anyone anytime soon—but neither was the Grunt."
Report found in abandoned outpost, author unknown.
The sub-structure of an incomplete refugia stands ready to continue the Ark's work.
The Ghost skimmed the surface of the Forerunner terrain as its Elite rider deftly dodged the latest salvo of enemy fire from the Hornets hounding it, effortlessly taking a sudden sharp turn to widen the gap between the pursuers. This particular Sangheili was a confident and experienced driver, a far cry from the Ghost's first owner.
The Ghost first saw service in 2552 on the planet Reach, but it was short-lived. The young Sangheili who drove it then was overeager and reckless, so sure of the Covenant's superiority that he rushed ahead of the rest of the squad and was quickly picked off by UNSC sniper fire before being able to baptize the Ghost's plasma cannons. The Ghost sat out the rest of the battle until being collected and returned to a Covenant dropship.
In 2552, the Ghost and its new rider were deployed to the Ark where it fought in the climactic battle of the Human-Covenant war - this time piloted by a veteran Jiralhanae warrior. However, despite the Ghost pilot's combat experience he was unprepared for the Demon, who surprised the Brute from nowhere and threw his body from the vehicle.
Amazingly, this Demon demonstrated all the skill of a trained Jiralhanae in using the Ghost's tricky controls, turning the Ghost's plasma cannons against its own kind and using it as a bludgeoning tool to ram through clusters of shrieking Unggoys. This Demon, the Ghost's third driver, was the shortest owner and quickly abandoned it once it had started belching smoke from the damage inflicted upon it.
Years of respite from battle followed, as the Ghost lay dormant among the other Covenant wreckage, undisturbed. With the return of humans to the installation, the Ark started rebuilding itself and repairing the damage. Life and fauna returned to the Ark and the Ghost became home to insects and small animals, while creeping weeds grew around and into it, strangling its controls.
Then the Banished arrived and the Ghost was torn free from its resting place and repaired by Huragoks, then reshaped to fit a more brutal, battle torn Banished aesthetic and it once again had a driver and a war to fight in.
Now, the Ghost was now closing in fast on its target. Shades of azure flashing by in a blur as the Elite manipulated it up and down the ramps and curves of the Forerunner terrain. The power resource was now in sight, protected only by a few enemy ground troops. The Elite fired the Ghost’s plasma cannons and forced them to scatter, leaving the resource open for him to capture. The Elite eased off on the accelerator and the Ghost hummed to a slow crawl.
The warning whine of several Hornets came too late, and as they emerged from behind the Forerunner tower, the Elite was cut down in the crossfire of their autocannons and fell from the Ghost's cockpit. The Hornets continued onto their next target and the Ghost sat silent and awaited its next driver.
On an isolated battlefield in an isolated war, old strategies return to relevance.
"Poor kid never saw it coming."
Corporal Kyla Emmett pulled the edges of a tattered UNSC banner over the lifeless body of a young Marine they'd all just called "Matthews." Kyla had seen plenty of action as a member of Boomerang Company - even well before this latest excursion to yet another otherwordly alien installation. The seasoned ODST had expertly dispatched the enemy scout responsible for their party's latest casualty, but it wouldn't make a difference in the long run if things didn't change quick. She was part of a dwindling resistance force stationed at Fort Jordan - a scrappy outpost set up on a strategically-located island on the Ark's surface.
"Probably because we're still here."
"Which begs the question..."
Even behind that gold-mirrored faceplate Kyla knew the facetious face he was making. She ignored him and gave a final once-over at their lifeline - a lone remaining Mastodon APC that allowed them to traverse the artificial island scavenging for supplies. Not to mention, it offered at least some sort of protection from the remaining Banished forces that lingered on with seemingly no other priority than to make their lives miserable. Jacob knew good and damn well why BOTH sides were still there. The UNSC had come here looking to set up camp near a downed Covenant craft in the hopes of salvaging anything the technicians on the Spirit of Fire might find useful. Not long after, the Banished came looking for it as well, led by a Jiralhanae warlord who had too much pride to call for backup. Immediately the Banished took down their long-range comms, and a battle of attrition began. For weeks numbers on both sides had been dwindling, and it seemed a final clash was not only inevitable, but soon at hand.
Kyla was joined by two remaining members of her ODST contingent within Lotus Squad, as well as a specialist sniper, the sardonic Hellbringer, and three - well, make that two now - frontline infantry. A number that made it easy to fit in an M650 but difficult to win any wars.
"We're out of time, Corporal." The transmission came crackling through her headset, carrying the voice of their sniper who had set up shop at the edge of their local comm range in the hopes of giving whatever early warning they could. Ristyx was on his way, and most Banished warlords weren't known for their diplomacy. The corporal slapped the side of the Mastodon and gave a signal to the others.
"We're making another run for it?"
"No Jacob," Kyla said calmly as her helmet fully polarized. "no more running."
Verdant grasslands overrun a Forerunner facility suspended on the edge of the world.
A clash of familiar and alien environments characterize this battlefield; lush grassland and sandy beaches are punctuated by several monolithic Forerunner structures, creating unnatural 'islands' among the landscape. The sleek but complex designs of the Forerunner ramps and lightbridges that branch off from these islands form multiple paths over the natural chasms of the environment as factions clash to gain control over valuable Forerunner resources.
A remote transport route bisects the crystalline wilderness.
"I watched as my scattered recon team were swiftly picked off one by one by the two Elite Ranger patrols. They must have been watching all along, waiting for us to split up as we scouted the area for power nodes. The Elites had the element of surprise, the numbers and the high ground.
My only advantage was that they hadn’t spotted me yet, but as soon as I took a shot, they'd be able to pinpoint my position. I checked my ammo—six bullets for four Elites. Our Pelican pick up wasn't scheduled for another hour, and I could follow the Elite's movements from the glints of light bouncing off their carbines as they reflected the crystals lining the platform. If I didn't act now, they'd have me pinned.
I reprogrammed my spotter drone to patrol three points on the map and sent it off. As soon as it broke cover, I engaged my cloaking technology and made for the opposite direction. One of the Elites bellowed something and their carbine rounds pinged off the Forerunner structures as they tried to shoot the drone. While they were distracted I made a dash for the nearest teleporter and jumped in. I was lucky, and I appeared above them at a blind spot. I aimed and fired. Even before the Elite hit the ground I had already entered the teleporter and back where I started.
By now, the Elites had figured out where my shot came from, taken cover and were searching for me, but now I was behind them. I aimed and took out another of them and they yelled in surprise. I ducked back into cover and waited. My drone was now reaching the final point of its patrol and as it floated past the spooked Elites, they overreacted and blasted it out of the sky.
Taking advantage of their panic, I fired off a wild shot to ricochet off some crystals and jumped back through the teleporter as they swung round in the direction of the ricochet. I was back above them again. They were shouting something angrily at each other, and I saw one gesturing towards the teleporter. I took another shot and one of the Elites fell back. The last Elite finally spotted me, but it was too late. He didn't even get a chance to raise his gun.
As I collected my team's tags, I checked my rifle. One bullet left. I figure I'll save it for the next Elite."
Report PVT. G. R. Scott, sniper detail
The battles fought at this Forerunner array will echo through history.
A monolithic Forerunner structure dominates this environment, sitting atop a churning whirlpool that harnesses the power of subterranean rivers and waterfalls that flow into the ocean. Though one side remains unsullied by the war, the other is pitted with large breaches in the surface as the Banished tunnel downwards to plunder the Ark's valuable resources.
A sleeping giant protects this ancient landscape.
"The skeletons of wrecked Covenant ships, slowly being buried by shifting sands, should have acted as a warning to us. When I warned the Jiralhanae leading our mining expedition that we should act with caution, he only snorted and called the wrecks merely 'ghosts of the old war'. The Unggoy chattered amongst themselves nervously, and I knew they too had noticed the charred terrain. Pocked by heavy blast points. The Jiralhanae roared and gave the nearest Unggoy and a swift kick as a warning to the others, and shot me an angry look for daring to scare his rabble.
When we reached the site. I stayed on guard while the Jiralhanae ordered his Unggoy to prepare the mining equipment. They had just breached the surface when I felt the air move. I screamed a warning and managed to dive into cover as the first salvo exploded the rocky outcropping where I once stood. I lay on the ground. dazed from the blast and smelled a sickening burning odor, followed quickly by a jolt of searing hot pain. My sword arm had been severely burnt and the light from the blast had temporarily blinded me. I heard the Jiralhanae barking orders to his panicked Unggoy, but his cries were quickly cut short by another blast. My sight had cleared enough that I could just make out a large shadow hovering over the panicking Unggoy, who scattered as I sunk into unconsciousness.
When I awoke. Our attacker had disappeared and the only things left were our mining equipment - damaged beyond use - and the body of the Jiralhanae served as the iris of a newly created crater."
Report of Jato 'Ratum, only survivor of the mining expedition
Lush woodlands conceal an immense Forerunner storage facility.
"The storage facility was only a couple of klicks out as we pushed through the woods, and after a long exhausting march I could feel the rest of the team relax a little. After all the alien sights we had seen, the familiarity of a cool breeze and the smell of those large trees was a comfort, and for a short while we could almost forget where we were.
That was our first mistake. Something shimmered out of the corner of my eye and lifted Dimitri into the air. He lurched violently to the left as the cloaked Elite swung his sword free of his victim and Floyd shouted 'Elite!'. We fired off several rounds at the spot where Dimitri had been standing, but the Elite had already melted back into the trees. We still outnumbered him seven to one, but I wasn't about to follow a cloaked Elite into the trees so he could pick us off one by one.
We popped our grenades.
A minute later, we slowly pushed through the burning trees, picking splinters out of our uniforms. There was no sign of the Elite, but the shallow stream beyond was streaked with purple blood. I collected Dimitri's tags and blinked to get the sting of smoke out of my eyes. We wouldn't forget where we were again."
Journal of Private D. Wood
Rolling sands carry the ghosts of fallen warriors through arid wilds.
The weight of Forerunner history lays heavy upon this beautiful but wild environment. Desert winds moan at the edge of a vast Forerunner gate that protects a long-forgotten secret; the ship-seed of an ancient Forerunner Despair-class fighter, dormant for a hundred millennia.
Volatile liquid churns and boils beneath the uncertain amber surface.
Scorched cracks and violent crystal protrusions scar and pock this rocky amber terrain, torn by eruptions from the explosive molten fluid energy that bubbles and smolders beneath the surface. Pressure forces up huge bursts of the liquid, quickly solidifying into huge crystals and trapping invaluable volatile raw power inside. Nearby, an elegant Forerunner structure stretches out over the precipice overlooking endless desert dunes, housing a lift that drops deep to the solemn Archive below.