Author's Notes: A fusion crossover of Halo and Neon Genesis Evangelion. This prologue kicks off roughly 2 years post Halo 4.
Addendum: Because the new Reclaimer Saga has yet to be finished and since Cortana's death was left with a note of finality, she will not be appearing in this crossover outside of flashbacks and brief mentions. I realize it's something that's still up in the air at this point, but my reasoning is that her 'death' left the Master Chief ideally exposed for character development and I feel it would ruin the emotional impact of her passing to conjure up (what would have to be) a convoluted reason for her return.
EDIT, Jan 10, 2016: Published this story six months before Halo 5 came out. Plotted it out a year before that. Canon can do what it wants, I'm still not bringing her back.
Thanks to Apoc326 and Zimary for beta reading.
All feedback is welcome.
Disclaimer: I don't own these things.
Rite of Reclamation
/Wardens without a Key
1632 Hours, May 4, 2560 [Military Calendar]
61 Virginis System, Planet Minister
Ash fell from the sky.
Kojo "Romeo" Agu brought a hand up to shield his eyes from the mid-day sun as he set his gaze skyward. For three days the thing had been hovering over the city, waiting – watching. No one knew how. No one knew why. The air trembled, bursts of wind upsetting dirt and trash scattered along the streets. The city's fall-out sirens began to wail in response, the air-shaking thooms of unseen blasts soon echoing over them.
Ships, fire dancing savagely along their torn hulls, cut through the clouds as they screamed towards the metropolis below. Following them down was a massive figure of gleaming silver and white. Its feet were pressed together, arms folded over its chest. Its head was sharp and angular – not unlike depictions of the ancient Egyptian Pharaohs and the striped crowns that hung down to their shoulders.
Whether it was the blazing sun glinting off the metal or his human eyes playing tricks, for a moment Romeo could have sworn he saw a halo form over the things head.
"My God..." He uttered.
As if in response, the invaders eyes opened.
A low whine began to emit from the construct, its hands and feet glowing fiercely. It brought its arms away from its chest, a smaller pair detaching and unfolding in a mechanical manner from its chassis. It spread all four of its arms open and raised its chin in the air – the glow of its orange eyes brightening to a blinding degree. Screaming city-goers scattered, but Romeo found he could not look away. Just when he thought he might go deaf from the rising mechanical whine – it stopped.
For a moment, the world held its breath.
Then light discharged from it in a perfect sphere, expanding rapidly outwards. The orange-tinged curtain struck Romeo – reducing his corporeal form to ash in an instant. Millions of screams echoed across the planet all at once as their very beings were broken down to their most elemental composition. As the light encompassed the planet, the digitized minds of its occupants retracted with the sphere, drawn back to the alien construct's core.
Its work done, the entity folded its arms back in place, bringing its legs up to its chest and burying its head in-between its knees.
Then a sliver of purple light cracked in the air around it.
They had arrived in-system minutes ago, only to witness a great sphere of orange light cast itself around the colony. What looked like a pair of massive white wings spread into the sky, translucent and bat-like.
Then the light receded – and nothing more happened.
"What the hell?" Captain Lasky breathed, recognizing that light. "Have you made contact with the Harbor Master?" he asked, seemingly to no one.
The ship A.I. Roland winked into existence nearby. "Yes, Captain, he's... in a bit of a panic." Lasky's expression twisted, a question forming before his jaw dropped when Roland linked camera feeds to his display.
The images flickered from city to city as the A.I. patched into each network. Lasky's stomach began to twist as they flashed by endlessly, each revealing a world devoid of life. There was not a single soul left on the planet. A population of 800 million and there was no one.
Minister spun peacefully below, as if nothing was amiss. He almost wished there was some sort of destruction or carnage to stand testament to the atrocity that had just occurred. But only the sprawling cityscapes were left as lonely monuments to its inhabitants, standing like gravestones in the howling winds.
A heavy silence resonated throughout the bridge. Lasky let out a shaky breath, removing his cap and letting his arm fall back to his side.
"Sir! Slip-space rupture detected!" A crewman called and cast a piggybacked feed to his screen, revealing a large thing of steel and hard-light: a chaotic void of purple and blue opening up before it. At once he recognized it. It was the reason the Infinity was even out this far. For three days, this object had hovered over one of Minister's cities. It refused communications, or at least none of the methods used to make contact worked. Then the Defense Fleet had attempted to make physical contact. After that, well...
"Get me a firing solution!" Lasky barked, swallowing his awe and disbelief. "Hit it with the S-8 – one and two."
"Aye, aye – MACs charging!"
"Sir – a planetary strike?!" Another of his bridge officers exclaimed. "What about the colony?"
There is no colony! Lasky wanted to shout, the crushing realization hitting him again. All that remained were barren reminders of civilization. His expression hardened, "Prepare to fire." He said, turning again to look upon Minister.
Even with the considerable mass of the Infinity, he still felt the rumble of the twin MAC rounds as they left their barrels – a muffled double-crack echoing throughout the massive warship. He only saw the projectile itself for a moment as it sped at a fraction of the speed of light towards the planet. In any other situation, it would have been a good thing there were no civilians on the surface – because this was about to reduce Minister's largest city to ash and dust. But an enemy that could wipe out a population of 800 million people in mere minutes absolutely warranted the carnage that was about to follow.
An intensely hot corridor of expanding air caved into the atmosphere as the MAC rounds rushed downward. By then much of the projectiles had dissolved into a cushion of super-heated plasma – and they hit the construct with all the power of a dozen nuclear warheads, before blasting outward in a fiery splash of superheated shrapnel.
Lasky, as Captain, had never fired a Super-MAC into an atmosphere, and his eyes widened at the rapidly expanding umbrella of destruction. 300 Petajoules of thermal radiation expanding at 50 clicks – and counting. It was almost a good thing any and all civilians were absent – if the radiation had not roasted them to death, the 500-PSI wall of overpressure that followed would have crushed them to pulp.
From orbit, they all could clearly see the spreading crater of red and orange as the firestorms – created by the immense amount of heat – continued to rage across the surface. For many of them, it was an all too familiar sight.
"God have mercy..."
As the waves of heat and smoke cleared, the construct became visible: hovering within the cradle of fire. Its armor was charred black and scorched in more than a few places – but it was otherwise unharmed by the most powerful weapon in the human arsenal.
Before Lasky could order the firing of another salvo, the slip-space vortex swallowed the construct whole – and they both vanished.
The bridge hummed with the life of its machines, the tactical display clicking with glitching frames every moment or so. He never liked this particular CIC. For all of the Infinity's cutting edge in 26th century technology, a TacDisplay that couldn't run without chugging through fluctuations in power seemed unreasonable. As if an afterthought, he registered someone sobbing behind him, filling the void of white noise the ship had created for them.
A headset cracked onto the floor, making him jump.
"Sir," his comms officer said, an evenness forced in his voice, "you need to see this."
The Ensign routed several feeds to the main screen. Displayed before him were three more UNSC colonies, camera images shifting to barren streets, ships drifting dead in orbit: satellite video recalling the same horrifying display of annihilation they had only witnessed the end of.
"We're under attack."
1900 Hours, August 11, 2560 [Military Calendar]
Sol System, Jovian Research Facility near Callisto
"What are we going to do?"
Truth be told, Keel did not have an answer; not yet. Everyone was still reeling from the catastrophe at Antarctica. Their long-awaited prophecy had nearly been shattered to pieces at their feet – it seemed no matter what man did, they could not escape the far-reaching influence of the Forerunners.
"We rebuild – Adam has been awakened ahead of schedule. We will have to act swiftly now." Someone said.
The room was set almost completely in darkness, dim florescent rays falling down upon each councilor and casting heavy shadows upon their faces. This was only the second time since the formation of their covenant that the councilors of SEELE had ever met in person, but recent events warranted such, despite the inherent danger.
From his spot by the ribbed portholes that revealed the twinkling void of space, Keel heard another councilor speak up, "He is right – the clock is ticking. According to the scrolls, we only have 15 years to prepare before his seed matures." Said Seele 02. Keel knew all of their names – and they knew his. But with nearly all of their meetings occurring as sound-only, you learned to refer to one another by number since you never knew who might be listening. With time, name and number became synonymous.
A vaguely Russian accent followed, its owner leaning forward upon the ringed table in an annoyed fashion, "What of the Watchers?"
What of them indeed? Through long years of study, they had translated the warning of God's judgment. At first they had mistranslated, then they had misinterpreted. Despite the Tablet and all of its wisdom, there were pieces to the puzzle that were still missing.
"As far as we understand, they are not likely to return until they realize they have initiated the wrong protocol." Seele 05 answered, "when the Angels come for us, so too shall the Watchers."
Silence fell over the gathered council once more as they contemplated their grave error. If they had simply been allowed to make contact with Adam on their own, perhaps their current predicament could have been avoided. Or perhaps it would have gone much worse. It was only by the grace of the Lance that they had been saved.
"Adam was cast out of Eden long ago, to think he survived and has returned..." Seele 03 broke the silence.
"Is highly unlikely," Seele 06 sneered. "They and their technology were destroyed."
"Yet here we are confronted with a being that is of neither man nor Forerunner." Seele 02 said, "the Precursors were not without foresight, they knew of the end that was to come."
"So we are faced with their twisted children again. But these Watchers... whom do they serve?"
Yet another question without an answer. Keel turned slightly, watching the twitching hologram spinning serenely amidst them. Once, it had seemed there would be no end to the golden age of man. He was young back then, studying Colonial Politics on Earth. But like all great ages of man, it inevitably came to an end: leaving behind nothing more than ash and ruin.
It was a message from God. Despite their prestige and power, mankind was a corrupt and vile beast. He recalled one of the old stories, when God had cleansed the Earth with a great flood.
The Sol System, Terceira, Concord, and a handful of outposts and underdeveloped colonies was all that remained of their grand empire. Although the remaining colonies in their outer reaches had survived the Onslaught, they could hardly be considered a part of the UNSC. With their crippling fall from power, the planets had crumbled entirely to Insurrection. The Inner Colonies were akin to little more than a galactic graveyard now.
God's great flood had indeed swept Orion clean, or at least it soon would. Their only hope now was to build an Ark.
"They must be Angels –" Seele 05 shattered the quiet, "they must be Precursor – it is the only way they could generate an A.T. Field powerful enough to survive the Infinity and communicate with Longinus."
"We don't know how Watchers generate a field." Seele 07 interceded, leaning back in his seat exasperatedly, "all we know is that they are weaker compared to Adam's..."
"It does not matter how – an A.T. Field is what it is... what should be of greater concern to this council is that the Watchers were addressed in the Tablet – what was left of it – and we were utterly blind to it." Seele 08 spoke up at last.
"Indeed," 12 agreed, "we are apparently missing much information from the Black Moon. We thought they were sent as our trial, not to impose Lilith's will upon us."
Seele 09, emboldened by 08's forward manner, hesitantly spoke, "Is this not the trial, to persevere in the face of overwhelming odds? We must prove that we are worthy of Primordium, just as those before us did."
"But the Forerunners failed," 02 protested, "their immortality was as false as their right to the Mantle. Judgment was cast upon them twice, and both times they were deemed unworthy."
"Whatever their failings," 07 said, "our research of the Black Moon yields an unquestionable link to the Forerunners. The technology is... incomplete, improvised, even. But there is no doubt Lilith and the Forerunners share a connection."
"Then these Watchers are, in truth, of Forerunner descent – another machination of the Didact?" 12 boomed in that dominating Eastern accent of his.
05 nodded in hesitant agreement, "Based on the scattered array of reports, we can determine that a device much like the composer was used at every colony the Watchers came to."
"So they are harvesting human souls? This was not mentioned in the Tablet..."
"Indeed it was not. However, we know for a fact there was more than one Composer device, and I doubt the awakening of the Watchers is the Didact's doing... he was defeated at New Carthage." Seele 03 cast her gaze around the council, "we may be dealing with other Forerunners... or this may be some sort contingency to keep us from achieving Primordium."
Seele 11 made an annoyed tsk, "But they generate A.T. Fields, just as Lilith and Adam do. Can we truly rule out the possibility that they are Precursor creations?"
"Regardless of their origin," Keel cut in sharply, becoming increasingly agitated that they were bothering to discuss this at such length. They would have all the answers in due time, "It clearly does not involve composing life on Earth as they did the colonies – and we can determine that there is a clear link between the Watchers and Lilith. In light of this, the Ceremony cannot be delayed any longer."
Silence fell over the gathered council. Keel's eyes settled on 10, who had remained silent throughout the meeting.
Seele 04 broke the quiet, "You are right, as always – now more than ever mankind needs this – if nothing else than to ensure our very survival."
Determination set 03's jaw. "Primordium will be ours."
Keel nodded approvingly, turning his gaze back to the space beyond the port holes. To have learned so much and fallen so far – it was indeed time. Knowledge was man's power, yet they were so ignorant of the universe around them. The Founder's Tablets were truly beautiful in their simplicity, and Keel was compelled to repeat the entry aloud: "Then shalt the past be as one with the present. Then shall the memory of all be retained. Free shalt thou be from all retrogression. The things of the past shall live in today."
As he said the words, he felt his spirits rise. The stars seemed brighter – present, even; like flecks of glistening particles under water. As though all he had to do was reach out his hand and seize them.
Though destruction and damnation had been wrought upon them, they endured – they lived. Like the legends of the Phoenix, hope sprang eternal from the ashes.
Keel's heart soared, and in that moment he felt young again.
It was a Neo-Genesis.
A glorious new age.
"Have faith," he said, "after all these years. After generations of searching, of flying close to the sun only to be burned – the prophesized time is at hand." He turned to them again, his communion, so that his newfound confidence and faith was plain for them to see.
"It is time to begin the Rite of Reclamation."