The Angel's Halo
By: Sinead

Epilogue

People were back aboard the Cairo, watching as swarms of fighters came and waited in formation. Master Chief looked at Lord Hood, who seemed twitchy about this new alliance. But the elder man sighed, shaking his head as the out-of-armor Spartan stood at ease behind him. "Where's that emissary?"

"Coming. Aboard one of those craft."

The AI, a fully-trained Agni, appeared upon the pedestal, his face grave. "We're being hailed, sir."

"Which one?"

Agni pulled up the grid, pin-pointing the craft. "That one."

"Put it through."

A smiling, familiar face appeared, framed by red hair while she talked at someone off-screen, her head propped up on a fist. "Yeah, well you can take that attitude and stuff it, for all I care." She grinned. "Not that I do, really, but . . ."

Lord Hood cleared his throat, causing the woman to look at the screen, snapping to attention. "Sir! Sergeant-Major Willow Takayuurei reporting in."

"And the report is, Sergeant-Major?"

An inquisitive Elite face looked over her shoulder, causing her to curse and shove him away. "Successful, if trying my patience."

"Mah! Like you would have patience in the first place?" came the translated reply.

"Arbiter, I'm talking with my superior here. Shut. Up."

The Chief let one corner of his mouth twitch in a grin, but suppressed it as Lord Hood let Willow back on board the Cairo, then cut the communication and look at John. "Go and greet them."

"Yes, sir."

And thus when Willow appeared at the door on the side of the fighter before the Arbiter did, she smiled, dropping to the deck. Nervous UNSC military members watched as the eight-foot Elite did the same, but his attention was upon the woman. "You said that someone would greet us."

"And I am," came the gravely voice from Gravemind's cavern.

The Elite looked at the sad-eyed man, seeing skin that should never be that white, noting a great intelligence behind those eyes, as well as the knowledge that this should be a rough transition period. But how could this sad-eyed man kill so many?

Willow had long discarded her helmet, and she stood between the two who had both been deemed outcasts by their respective peoples. "Sir, I want to formally introduce you to Arbiter, sometimes called Dragon. Arbiter, this is the Master Chief, Spartan-117."

"Called Demon by your kind." The eyes started taking on warmth. Tension bristled upon all sides, but the three in the center of the room took no notice as the Master Chief held out his hand, saying, "And I am honored to meet the one who has kept our intel officer safe."

Arbiter clicked his double-jaw in a smile, taking the human's hand and squeezing it firmly, replying, "And it is an honor to meet the human who has evaded all attempts that were sent to kill him. I thank you for giving this woman her dreams and aspirations. She has also saved me in many times when I didn't have strength left."

Their hands parted, and the three walked back to where Lord Hood was monitoring movements of craft and such, each matching their paces in a perfect parade march.

It was the beginning of a new era in the human-Covenant war.

And there were many new facets to explore.