The artificial ring orbiting the gas giant known as Threshold, had been destroyed. The news came a mere day after the Raven's Night landed upon the planet Reach. Unsurprisingly, the Covenant had also heard the news. While the Humans cheered and rejoiced, putting aside all those emotions and feelings from their losses, and were unified in that single moment of relief and praise for everyone involved with the destruction of a powerful weapon. The soldiers that died on the artificial ring, were named heroes. On the Covenant side, it was a different story. No words of the Flood, or the possible destruction of both races and all life in the universe, were spoken about the artificial ring. The Elder's, in all of their wisdom, decided to keep this part out, and only tell the Covenant the other bad news to encourage the troops to fight harder and more aggressively. They could not simply say they made a mistake. However, the shock of the news, upon reaching planet Farthern Star and the dozen war ships, the Covenant forces suffered a great blow in their morale. The tables slowly but surely turned on them, despite their strength in numbers.
Captain Anderson spent the next few days screaming orders over the UNSC Network, the reinforcements arriving an hour before the Covenant had a chance to engage the Raven's Night, and all of its crew. Fortunately she still had good vision with her single eye, and even with her leg in a cast, it didn't slow her down one bit. With expert planning, the Covenant forces were wiped out, but in a last hoorah, they detonated their ships, choosing to go out in a blaze of glory than risk their enemy finding out the location to their home world. The blast itself destroyed many Human vessels and killed countless marines. It was acts such as this which drove the Captain. Her every breath would be devoted to winning this war.
She soon became feared by many Covenants; The one Captain that could lose something as important as an eye, and then use that loss to be even more aggressive. Captain Anderson, was soon a name to be respected and feared.
Of the very few Covenant that were captured, at least two of them was a medic, one Grunt, and one Elite. The two of them were both forced to treat the injured halo, and forced they were indeed. A metal cord was each around their necks, tight but not choking. The lines were tied to a sort of winch bolted to the ceiling, and holding the controls to wind the winch and hang the medics, was the Captain. Captain Anderson made it real clear that if any of them tried anything funny, they would both be gutted very, very slowly. Scared to death of the threat, especially from her, they set to work, the fear only sinking in further when she slammed a very wicked, and equally as sharp looking blade on a nearby table. When they were done, the Grunt, trying to impress his commander, tried to stab a scalpel into Halo's heart. He was dead before he lowered his hand to stab the injured Covenant. The Elite was simply in horror, seeing the Grunt hanging from the ceiling and a mass of blood pouring down his legs. The Captain only smirked when she heard the Elite took his own life not even an hour later.
Halo, on the other hand, was treated very well, and his recovery was well on its way. When his eyes opened, doctors rushed to make sure he was comfortable, and getting him anything that he wanted. Ice cream, he found out, really was the miracle feel good food of any patient after surgery. He was already up after just a day of solid rest and healing, though he was very weak, and could hardly walk on his own. Samantha, unfortunately, was still asleep. He found out later that she was in some sort of coma. The Needler had done more damage than anyone thought; apparently these needles were coated in a type of biological agent that no one had a cure for, at least, no one Human. It was something that Halo even wasn't aware of. The doctors couldn't do anything about it at this point. When Halo heard the news, and even though it pained him to even sit up, he sat in the chair next to her bed for three days straight, not moving a muscle, and praying to his Gods for her life.
Today was no different. He was staring at her, holding onto her hand tightly as he listened to her heart beat through the machine next to her. He closed his eyes, his prayers never ceasing, not even when he heard a knock at the door. He lifted his head, seeing Panda walk in, holding something. He smiled half heartedly, before walking up to Samantha, rubbing her other hand before he lowered his gaze.
"I just wanted you to know... I'm sorry." he spoke, his voice choked as he turned to Halo.
He nodded slowly, accepting the condolences, then closed his eyes again, returning to his prayers, being strong for the both of them. Panda sighed softly, looking her over. She looked so peaceful, laying next to Halo, and him holding her hand.
"You love her, don't you?" he asked quietly, watching the Covenant lift his head as a tear rolled down his cheek.
Panda nodded shakily, lowering his gaze once more.
"I'm glad... she... she deserves you," he whispered.
He was going to tell Halo how everyone on the Raven's Night was keeping his involvement a secret about what had happened here. The official story was: on route to planet Reach, they were ambushed and forced to make a crash landing. They managed to fend off the Covenant until support arrived. It was a lie involving the hundreds of remaining members of the Captains crew that would have made any governed nation proud.
"Oh, I umm... have something for you," he spoke, fidgeting with the object in his hands, then offered it to Halo, "I think she would like for you to have this."
Halo took it. It was a book, a very old book, and he looked at the title of it. The Holy Bible. He took in a long breath, closing his eyes again before he dipped his head in a bow. Panda just patted his leg a bit, not knowing what else to say, then squeezed Samantha's wrist again, deciding to leave the two of them alone again. Halo took his hand from Samantha's, opening the book in his hands, then stared at the words. He flipped through the pages, noticing a place marker, then turned to that page. One passage was highlighted, and he studied it. He squeezed Samantha's hand once more, taking in a long breath.
"Though I walk... through the valley of the shadow of death.... I will fear no evil: for thou art with me, thy rod and thy staff... they comfort me."
He lifted his head, closing the book as he turned to face Samantha. Her eyes were open, and she stared at Halo, with a gentle smile before he leaned in closer. He smiled a bit as well, placing the Good Book by her side, then rubbed her hand gently.
"I'm glad to see that you're alright," she whispered, closing her eyes as she squeezed his hand gently.
Halo dipped his head gently. To be honest, he had felt a lot better, but he wasn't about to say anything to Samantha. He just squeezed her hand and leaned closer.
"I'm glad I get to see you one last time," she whispered, watching him place a hand on her chest.
"Samantha," he growled, tilting his head a bit, then watched as she placed her hand to his chest.
"I love you," she whispered, taking in a long breath, watching him draw closer.
"I... love you too," he growled, moving a bit closer.
She felt his breath on her face as he moved even closer, her lips touching his for a long moment before the two parted. She opened her eyes again, rubbing his armor less chest as she smiled weakly. Halo took in a sharp breath, feeling her heart start to slow, and streaks of warmth begin to travel down his face.
"Do not cry," she whispered, sighing softly as a few of her own tears trickled down her face.
Halo lowered his gaze slowly, closing his eyes as he felt his breath come to him in gasps, "Thank you... for showing me a new faith."
"No... thank you, for returning mine," she whispered and smiled faintly, "Angel's Halo."
Halo tilted his head slowly, his eyes closing as he rubbed her chest gently, "My name...," he growled, understanding the 'Halo' part now.
She closed her eyes, nodding her head gently, rubbing his chest a bit more, "I will see you again," she whispered, her breath slowing, her hand slipping from Halo's chest. Halo took in a long breath, lifting his head as he felt the tears streak down his face. He slowly stood, taking the book in one hand, then swayed his free arm, bowing respectfully to Samantha before closing the door on the way out.
Captain Anderson was standing on the bridge of her ship, talking with Katrina, and happily to do so, when the lift doors opened. Halo walked in, holding the book tightly in his hand, trying to stand tall and proud, given his injuries, and walked behind Anderson. Katrina noticed him first, the Captain turning around shortly, then looked up at his face, noticing the wet marks. He didn't even have to say anything. She nodded slowly in understanding, moving closer to him as she lowered her head. Katrina looked away briefly, watching the two, and several others began to hear the unspoken words pass through the bridge. Everyone was silent for a long time, the Captain sniffling a bit. She wasn't as religious as she should be, yet she spent the last three nights praying to God that Halo and Samantha would be together. Perhaps this was God's will, or perhaps a sick joke. She didn't know what to think of Him now.
Halo lowered his head once more, turning, and headed back to the lift. He clutched the book tightly to his chest, the doors opening at his presence, before he stepped in. The walk to his barracks was a long one, everyone he passed giving a solemn nod. Again, he tried his best to stand tall, but everyone he passed by, knowing they wouldn't have heard the news yet, and didn't want to appear weak in front of anyone. He knew he had done something that no one could have thought possible. He was the first to create acceptance between Humans and Covenant. But the cost... was it too high of a price to pay? Trying to look strong, failed him. He passed by several Humans that looked at him concern when his tears fell freely down his face. He just locked himself in his barracks.
Samantha's funeral was arranged a few days after. The necessary repairs to the ship were under way, and soon they would be able to head back into space. For their service to mankind, those that wanted to return to Earth, were granted so, and the Raven's Night would soon be making its final trip back to home. The repairs gave them enough time to hold this small ritual for Samantha. She would be buried amongst the highest spot of the terrain, so she could always over look the beauty of the sun setting across the lands. The entire crew attended the decidedly Covenant Farewell, dressed in their finest uniforms. Samantha was wrapped in cloth, her body being carried to her final resting place, and behind, a weakened though determined Covenant trailing behind the six of them. He tried his best to make his armor look at its finest, polished painstakingly, yet covered in the scars of battle.
Everyone saluted the paul bearers as they walked by, Halo holding onto Samantha's bible tightly. When she was laid in her final resting place, dirt was placed over her, while Halo placed his hands together, closing his eyes before falling to his knees. His voice was deep and guttural, speaking of his Gods and their Last Rites in the Covenant language.
Captain Anderson stepped back, raising her hand into a salute for Samantha, though looked at Halo with a look of concern as he swayed a bit. He hadn't eaten or slept for the last five days, and it showed. When Halo finished the Rites, he stood, bowing his head deeply in respect as everyone took a long moment of silence. Even Katrina was here for the ceremony, her hand by her forehead, staring at the grave. The Captain lowered her hand, everyone else following suit, and slowly everyone started to head back to the ship, no one making a sound. It was Covenant custom to praise their fallen in silence, only the sounds of nature allowed to speak their sorrow. The Captain continued to stare at the grave, while Panda looked to Halo. He nodded slowly, patting metal covered arm gently, then turned away and made the long walk back to the ship. Anderson simply turned to Halo, her gaze meeting his, her head nodding slowly before she patted his back.
"I am sorry you do not wish to come with us. I was hoping you would get a chance to see Samantha's home one day." she whispered.
Halo lowered his head, taking in a short breath, then looked to the setting sun, the golden glows flowing over the hills and the rivers, causing him to force a small smile.
"I think... she has found a good home." he growled.
The Captain nodded slowly, parting her mouth a bit as she tried to hold back her sorrow. She took in a long breath and closed her eyes.
"That Elite... he was right, wasn't he? About this being your idea?" she asked, looking back up at Halo with questioning eyes.
Halo simply closed his eyes, thinking about that before he frowned, "I... honestly don't remember. But... it should not matter. I am grateful fate led me down this path."
Anderson smiled a bit, nodding in agreement before she looked down to where Samantha lay.
"If this ever comes up... about you and Samantha... and being on my ship..." she spoke quietly.
"I understand... you do not know me." he growled softly.
She just frowned at that, "I'll burn in hell before I ever say something like that," she spoke and raised her gaze to meet his, staring into his black, surprised eyes, "if this comes up, I'll tell the story true."
Halo just nodded slowly, taking in a long breath before he watched the Captain offer him a hand. He gently took it, shaking hands with her before she turned her gaze away. He smiled a bit, then reached into his pack, placing something in her hand. It was a book of matches and two of her cigars. She looked back up to him, smiling a bit as she took them. She chuckled a bit, then lifted one up and placed it in Halo's mouth, striking a match later.
"Human custom to smoke a cigar," she whispered.
She just chuckled when he tried to inhale some smoke and started coughing slightly. But Halo didn't want to offend her by not accepting it. The Captain lit her own cigar, puffing on it gently before letting a stream of smoke escape her lips. She and the Covenant was quiet. So quiet they both could almost hear the grass bending with the wind. Halo merely stared at the valleys before him and the setting sun, while the Captain closed her eye and took in a long breath. She nodded slowly, her head lowering before she turned on her heel and made the long walk back to the drop ship. A soft sound of the Covenant caused her to stop and look back to see Halo turning towards her.
"May the... Gods... take care of you." he growled, bowing low.
The Captain turned completely to face him, closing her eye before she placed her feet together and lifted her hand for a salute, "And may the Gods take care of you." she choked, turning on her heel once more to head back to the ship.
Halo turned back to the grave, kneeling before it as he closed his eyes. He removed his helmet, placing it on the soil before he laid down, taking in slow breaths as he felt a wave of calm wash over him. He stroked the book, finding comfort in the act, his breathing slowing a little each time. The clouds floated in front of the sun, sending streaks of light across the sky, meeting Covenant eyes, as though it was for Samantha and him. He stared at the beams of light for a long while, until the sun was almost set. When it was almost out of view, he closed his eyes and sighed ever so softly.
Captain Anderson stared at the stars through the window on the bridge, her hands behind her back as she thought about the events that transpired on this very ship. Lost in her thought, she didn't notice Panda walking up behind her, holding a bundle. He cleared his throat, and she turned around, looking to him and the bundle.
"Halo... wanted me to give you this when we were star bound, Captain." he spoke, offering her the bundle of cloth.
It was Samantha's shirt of her uniform, folded neatly, and inside, was something hard. The Captain opened the shirt, reaching inside the pocket, and stared at the identification that rested on an Elite's armor. Where the name was blank before, held simple scratches. She turned it over, smiling a bit upon seeing a message.
"Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord," she turned it over, looking at the name scratched into the front, "A. Halo."
She lifted her head, wiping her eye slowly as she stared to the stars, the shirt and the plate being placed on the console. She took in a long breath, a soft smile coming to her lips as she glanced about the stars, a beauty to her that she had never taken the time to really see for what it was. Her gaze then looked to the comet soaring through space, staring at the white tail of the large chunk of rock. She slowly lifted her cigar to her mouth, placing it in her lips as she lit the end. She smiled. Everyone on the Raven's Night, would call Halo a respected soldier.
Alexis would call him a hero.
Halo stood amidst a clouded sky, pillars of light shining in all directions before he turned around, his gaze searching around in confusion. Looking forward once again, he saw something. Samantha was there, smiling warmly at him. She was bathed in a warm light, her hair looking as though it was truly on fire as she walked up to him.
"Hi there." she spoke sweetly, holding still when he touched her face, cringing a bit and giggling, "your hands are cold.
He just smiled and slid his fingers down her cheek.
"Come on, we're going to be late."
"Where are we going?" he asked, feeling her take his hand and sway a bit on her feet.
"I don't know." she spoke coyly, then grinned as she looked into his eyes, "Let's find out together, okay?" she asked, squeezing his hand tightly.
He smiled widely, staring into her eyes for the longest time, as though he could do that until the end of time.