Disclaimer: I do not own the Halo franchise or anything related portrayed on this fic. Any other original character I portrait on this fic are my original creations (Except the Rookie's personality I created for him on this fic =D

" ": Dialogue of characters Italics: Characters thoughts

Shadows danced in front of the nervous tech at the controls, all caused by the eerie blue portal that lighted the cavernous space around them. From the portal five men emerged; ODST´s, the best of the best. Their sergeant was the last to emerge, a black metal suitcase on his right arm.

¨Sergeant, you have good news I hope.¨- Colonel Ackerson surveyed the team from his small command post-¨After all, you gave us quite a scare for a few hours¨

The sergeant looked puzzled by that last comment. De-polarizing his visor he approached the Colonel- ¨Sir?¨

¨You know, we lost your signal for a few hours¨

¨But colonel, we were only gone for 15 minutes¨- The sergeant explained -¨You can even check our recording. In fact, there is something you should really see in it. You won`t believe it.¨

Some nearby techs turned to pay attention at the sergeant`s words, a thing that didn't went unnoticed by Ackerson. -¨Why don't we head to my private office sergeant. You can tell me everything there¨

As both men entered the room, the sergeant eagerly placed the suitcase in the table-¨before that, you need to see this first¨

From the case, the sergeant extracted a small statue; two prolonged spikes twisted up, dark white lines illuminated the structure but emanated no light on the table. -¨We found this colonel; we don't know what it is, but after you see the video you´ll understand why we brought it back¨

As Ackerson was intrigued by the artifact, he faintly heard someone whispering…

¨Make us whole again…¨

Chapter 17 / The Marker

¨And on floor 13 we have the mess hall, where the troops come for their daily meal or to drown their sorrow in a variety of drinks we have to offer¨

The Master chief stepped outside the transporter and ignored cortana´s description of the floor. Even without his armor, the tall Spartan was a sight of awe. But the look on his eyes showed tiredness.

¨Nothing to say huh? Had a bad night chief?¨

¨I don't want to talk about it Cortana.¨- The chief kept on walking, feeling like someone was just behind him. But only cortana´s holo image flooded the hall.

¨Suit yourself, but remember; If you need someone to talk to, I'm always here¨

The Spartan nodded and entered the messhall, dozens of marines, clones and grunts milled around the tables which were an unusual sight at 3 am. The chief recognized the haunted look in each of these men´s eyes, the same that plagued him recently.

¨What will you have sir¨- The waitress politely asked; even she had bags under her eyes.

¨Just coffee, black¨

The waitress left to fetch him his order leaving John to his thoughts; the things he saw during his sleep were like nothing he had ever seen. Not even fighting the flood had left him feeling like this. The waitress came back and handed the Spartan his coffee which John drink slowly.

ThAt woNt hElp YoU

The chief dropped the coffee and spun around to find a marine with a surprised face- ¨Chief are you ok? I was just asking how you were?¨

The Master chief relaxed and dropped his stance -¨sorry private, you just caught me off guard¨

¨Well, that´s unexpected. I thought you couldn't sneak to a Spartan¨

The private that the chief recalled as Jenkins took a seat next to him. The Spartan erased the images of that video from long ago while the waitress fetched him another coffee. -¨What can I do for you Private?¨

¨Nah, I just needed to talk to someone more sane. Don't get me wrong, but looks like everyone here is not sleeping well for the last couple of days¨

The chief related to that, the effect was even spreading to the ones aboard ships in orbit. Cortana and Dr. Halsey had theorized the fault being the stress caused by the arrival of this new enemy, the replicators, but it just didn't feel right. There was something else.

Moments passed in relative silence between the Spartan and marine.


Everyone turned to see a grunt run as fast as his tiny legs could muster screaming -¨Monsters in dreams!!!!¨ - as he left the messhall.

Jenkins cracked a small smile -¨Little bastard must have had a bad dream, right chief? ¨

The Master chief simply said yes, as Jenkins turned his attention back to the waitress he missed how the chief removed his hand from the sidearm he carried. -¨I´m turning out, it was good talking to you¨

¨Same here chief¨- Even when they barely exchanged words. As the Spartan left the messhall Jenkins kept scratching his back, he had gone to a med for a quick check about the itching but he was given a clean bill of health.

¨clean or not, it still drives me crazy¨- Jenkins thought

The chief made his way to his, correction, his and Linda´s room. Just thinking about it made the Spartan II smile and almost forget everything about the replicators and those…

Suddenly the chief stopped at the sound of…laughter? The Spartan turned around but found no one there. Besides, that laughter sounded like it came from kids.

¨Since when are there kids here?¨- The chief wondered as more laughter, this time more deformed echoed -¨Who is there?¨

No answer, the lights seemed to die slowly trapping him in darkness. The chief wasted no time and aimed his handgun to the darkness -¨Show yourself!¨


As he turned left he saw Linda at the threshold of the door, the chief realized he had reached their quarters already. Putting his gun away he simply entered the room as Linda closed it. -¨care to tell me what happened out there?¨

¨Nothing¨- The chief lied –¨I thought I´ve heard something. It was just my imagination¨

¨since when has your imagination forced you to aim your gun at nothing?¨

Linda had a point there, but he really didn't have an answer for all that was happening to him. Seeming to understand, Linda dropped the question and hopped to bed motioning to come join her. As John climbed to bed she dimmed the lights and cuddled him.

¨Good night…¨- She barely said, the sleep getting her.

¨Night¨- John replied.

¨GoOd nIGht…jhOn…¨

The Master chief tried to ignore that voice that seem to come out of nowhere and hugged Linda closer. In the darkness he could hear it laugh but he had tried time and time again to see what caused it just to find nothing. There was an explanation for all of this, there had to be.

He remembered what Cpo Mendez had said to them all that time ago:

¨Spartans fear nothing¨

But right now…

¨WeLcoME bAck…hEheHeheh…¨

He didn't knew what to think

¨RC 01/ 138 Stop Immediately!!!!¨

Trainee 01/ 138 could hear the yells of his Kaminoan instructor but his hands refused to cooperate. Feeling something wet he looked down to see something red dripping from his hands; Blood, but not his own.

Before him, a trooper was sprawled on the floor, a red growing stain of blood emanating from his neck.

Even with that wound the trooper managed to say something before loosing the ability to speak, before he died.

¨Why eighter ?¨


Delta 38, better know as Boss to his fellow team, abruptly stood from bed after reliving that dream. Every night for the past few days he had the same dream over and over again, it was slowly eating away at his conscience but he refused it to interfere with his obligations. His bunk was wet but he knew it was from the sweating, unusual since the room had good ventilation for all 4 of them.

As a team, Delta squad eat together, slept together, and killed together.

In the dark he could see the bunks of his fellow Delta´s; Delta 40, Fixer´s bunk was well kept, his armor was neatly tucked next to him. A shame the same could not be said for the other occupant, 62 ¨Scorch¨. Said Delta´s armor was somewhat in order but lines of different explosives awaited in the nightstand for one hell of a party. A rocket and antimatter explosive launcher next to them.

¨Ohh…where have you been all my life? Such a slender form encasing Such destructive power in an anaconda surface to air…¨

Boss decided to let Scorch ans his ¨dream¨ alone and proceeded to head towards the showers to start the day. As he left the room he ignored the fact that the team´s specialist, 07 Sev, was not there. But he knew he was probably way up early practicing in the shooting range, in a drinking contest with sergeant Johnson (then again, it wasn't Tuesday) or passing the night with a female tech or marine.

¨Lucky bastard ¨- Boss thought, maybe he would try his luck with one of those female Spartans.

The showers were empty as he anticipated; no one besides him was up at 3 am anyway. Letting the water run he proceeded to get undressed and soon entered the now warm rain.

¨Why Eighter?¨

Delta 38 dropped the soap and froze, looking around he only saw the light fog made from the hot shower. - ¨Get a grip 38!¨- As he tried to focus the voice asked again, but when he tried to see if someone was playing a prank on him his vision was obscured, by instinct he tried to wash his eyes but he realized the shower was responsible; blood was pouring out making 38 jump out of the shower. Looking for a towel to clear his eyes he saw a figure slowly coming towards him from the fog.

¨No, it cant be you!?¨

Now, more closer to him, 38 recognized the same trooper of his recent nightmares. That clone from so long ago.

¨Why eighter?¨- The clone said with ease, even when his throat was sliced open.-¨We were a team, you and I¨

When faced with an incoming threat, a soldier of the republic faces it straight on. But 38 was unable to move and cowardly just closed his eyes as the clone kneeled and made a move to touch him. After a few moments of nothing, Boss gathered his courage to open his eyes only to find nothing there. No blood, clone, nothing.

¨Why?¨- 38 asked no one as he slumped down the floor -¨Why now after so many years?¨

Alliance City/ conference room

¨The replicator and Asuran forces continue to push further into Borg controlled space, the collective is meeting them in both fronts but as the last footage showed us this is a war they cannot win.¨- Thel Vadam, The Arbiter of the Sangheili, gave his scheduled report from a secure slipspace transmission to the people present but he watched in annoyance as most of them seemed to ignore him. Jack O´Neill was plain asleep, his head glued to the table. Keyes noticed this and decided to take action.

¨Cortana, can you give them a wake up call?¨


A quite loud alarm flared trough the room that had those asleep up and running.

¨I´m up! I´m up!¨- Jack yelled as he jumped out of his chair.

¨Good to know¨- The Arbiter drily remarked. -¨Asides of some present that Do pay attention to important matters (like Zeratul, Seven of Nine or Thor) it seems there is a lot of deprivation of sleep going on in the city.¨

¨I apologize Arbiter, we just can't get some good rest from a few days ago.¨- Keyes sincerely said.

¨No need to apologize Captain Keyes. Anyway, how is the delegation that we sent to the predators? Have they made significant progress? ¨


Psw- 405/ Predator controlled world.

Sam crashed down hard as the predator in front of him (that had just moments ago tackled him with a force of a scorpion tank) went to retrieve his spear to finish with the Spartan. Sam saw this and shaking the pain away he jumped back at his feet and the massive Spartan went to retrieve his own spear. He had just reached it when the predator pounced with a killing blow that Sam blocked out of pure instinct. As both exchanged swipes Sam awaited for the predator to get a bit close, when he did the Spartan dropped his spear, grabbed the predator´s and head butted him so hard his visor cracked open. If he had shields it would have been fatal for the predator.

As the predator fell down, Sam immediately pointed the tip of the spear to his neck. He had won.

The cheers and yells from Predators, elites, Protoss zealots and Spartans filled the coliseum. Sam dropped the spear and gave the Predator a hand to get up. Both warriors recognized each other´s fighting skills and left the arena as a Heavy Predator and elite zealot jumped down. The predator revealed razor sharp wrist blades as the elite activated dual plasma swords.


¨We received report of Spartan 034¨- Keyes replied to the Arbiter -¨They´re just brief saying everything is going ok¨

¨I see¨- The Arbiter said -¨Well, if that is all for today then I take my leave. I will return to the city in one day. Until then be safe¨

The transmission was off and Keyes turned to the ones present -¨Moving to other matters, Seven has your team succeeded in making the modifications of the anti replicator weapon¨

¨Yes , we have¨- The former Borg commander replied -¨Combining it with the infinity modulator we can now use a limited number of times¨

¨I may be mistaken here, but doesn't infinity stand for you know, Infinity?¨- Jack asked.

¨The modification changes the frequency of the weapon a very high number of times, but the replicators have proven very efficient to adapt to it. I estimate even more if they assimilate Borg technology.¨

Delta 38 was hearing everything Seven said, but he couldn't understand it, not with that dead clone standing just by the door. As he blinked, the clone was gone.

¨And the refitting of UNSC ships?¨

¨Going smoothly¨-Cortana answered –¨Almost 30 percent of our capital ships are already fitted with asgard or Protoss shielding¨

¨Yes, but it won´t be as effective as we would have hoped.¨- Thor added -¨given the time and resources we cannot fit a shield as strong as we did with the Daedalus class ship.¨

¨We´ll take what we have¨- Keyes replied -¨Having shields is already something big for most ships.¨

As the meeting ended everyone left to do their chores around their fleets, Delta 38 was about to leave but recalled something and pulled back double time -¨Captain Keyes¨

¨Yes 38 ?¨

¨I forgot to tell you, clone advisor Sierra 14 wants to meet you at 0700 hours tomorrow morning.¨

¨Oh really! Do you know what for?¨

¨Cant say much, he asked me to be quiet bout it. But I will say it´s a surprise, quoting his words. Just be here tomorrow sir¨- Message delivered, delta 38 left leaving Keyes wondering just what surprise awaited him.

The Rookie had his back to the wall while his fingers clutched the M6 silenced pistol as it was a life beacon. Counting to 3 he jumped, rolled around in the sand and fired two times.

Not a single bullet hit the brute drawing .

¨Man, you suck¨- a nearby ODST said as he fired to his own target.

¨Meh, I had him¨- The rookie meekly said -¨I just felt pity for him.¨

¨That thing won´t feel pity when he guts you. You shouldn't either¨

The rookie turned to see a female ODST firing to her own target, if her unusual 4 bullet shot Br55 wasn´t enough her red fiery hair was enough to catch the rook´s attention.

¨Maybe. Or maybe DK just wants his banana¨

Melissa McKay cracked a rare smile as he eyed the ODST, unlike the other helljumpers nearby, this one was in full gear, and even his visor was polarized so she couldn't see his face. -¨Private, you do know this is just a shooting range. Why all the gear?¨

¨In war, one must be ready at all time¨- The rookie said feeling like a badass. McKay just thought he was a noob. -¨Anyway, care to give me some pointers beautiful¨

¨It´s Major McKay¨

The Rookie was dumb folded.

¨As the Major of the ODST´s¨

¨Ohhh!!! Cool¨

¨Is this guy for real?¨ – Melissa thought. -¨We´ll, I can give you some advise, private…?¨

¨The Rookie¨

¨Rookie? Anything else?¨

¨Nope, although the sarge sometimes calls me F.N.G. Whatever that is?¨

¨Fucking New Guy, figures¨- Melissa thought -¨anyway, ready?¨¨

¨Born ready¨- the rook aimed at the brute target.

¨When you see and enemy, point your gun at him and fire¨- Melissa explained -¨And if you find yourself surrounded scream real loud so that the big boys can come save you, you got all that?¨

As Melissa left, the Rookie stood up and watched her leave. The other ODST approached the Rookie´s target and saw countless shell but not a single one had found home. -¨Man, how did you became a leatherneck in the first place?¨

The rookie without looking raised his gun and fired once, the bullet passed mere inches of the ODST´s head and scored a bulls eye in the brute´s head.

¨I got lucky¨- The Rookie explained as he left the ODST scared shitless.

Roy Fokker, commander of the Vf-305´s finished with the maintenance of his fighter as the onboard Ai double checked the systems.

¨All reads green roy¨- Melisa, the fighter´s onboard Ai said trough the fighter´s speakers. -¨Anything else you want me to do today?¨

¨Yeah, start her up¨- Roy grabbed his helmet -¨Let´s take her for a spin¨

The Vf-305 soared out of the city´s hangar and danced around the clouds. While Melisa responded to the air control hailing them, Roy closed his eyes and pushed the fighter´s nose down for a quick descent. When he opened them he was shocked to see darkness of space.

¨What the fuck? Melisa did you…¨

He stopped mid sentence when he recognized the cockpit of a longsword fighter. The planet below was Eridanus III, currently being glassed by Covenant cruisers.

¨Roy snap out of it!!! I need backup!!¨

Fokker recognized the voice of a fellow flight mate, Erick, but that fight was from over 7 years ago. The UNSC had lost Eridanus III a long time ago, and most importantly he had left the fighter role when he got demoted.

¨Come on man!!! ¨- Erick yelled by comm. – ¨I have two damn seraphs on my tail!!!¨

Forgetting the why and focusing on the now, Roy snapped the fighter for an intercept course to save his friend. -¨I´m coming man, just hang thight.¨

The seraphs plasma cannons were narrowly dodging the longsword fighter as Roy was force to listen to Erick's screams. Even at top speed his fighter just wasn't gaining on them, in fact, it looked like it was getting further away. A lucky plasma shot hit Erick´s fighter causing one of his thrusters to start malfunctioning

¨Damn it!¨- Roy decided to try and lock onto the seraphs from this distance, to his surprise it locked on. Which was unusual for this distance but he didn't care. -¨This time I will save you pal¨

Two missiles flied from the underbelly of the longsword straight to the seraphs, as the orange glow of the rockets gained on the covenant fighters he watched in shock as they flied past them and headed straight to Erick´s fighter. -¨Erick eject!!!¨

It was pointless, the longsword was instantly vaporized in a great ball of fire. Only a fraction of Erick´s scream made it to the comm. Followed by static. The two seraphs turned and headed towards Roy but he just watched them not making an attempt to shoot or evade them.

¨Pilot disengage course now!¨

Roy had failed again to save his friend and the only thing he wanted now was to die, like he should had that day long ago.

¨Roy Fokker, get up!!!¨

Roy recognized the voice of Melisa and abruptly opened his eyes to face a Protoss carrier in front of him, acting fast he moved the Vf-305 away from a collision course. Both his fighter and carriers shield flickered as they made brief contact but resulted in no damage by either party.

¨Roy you owe me a big explanation of why you almost crashed us to that carrier!?¨- Melisa furiously asked as she relayed an apology and fake malfunction explanation to the high templar in the carrier.

¨Wish I knew darling, wish I knew…¨

Alliance Elite cruiser Watchful eye/ replicator controlled space

Thel Vadam, better know as the Arbiter, sidestepped a slash from his sparring partner R´tas Vadum, mostly know by fellow team members as the Spec ops elite, shipmaster or just Half jaw.

¨I agree with you that the human ¨Ackerson¨ is not to be trusted Arbiter, but if they keep him active is because he might be somewhat useful in the war.¨

The Arbiter agreed with R´tas, but he was far from trusting the human - ¨Even when he has given the alliance good Intel in the past I suspect his motives are ulterior, he kept the human´s Spartan III project a secret by most of his race.¨

¨Can you blame them¨- Half jaw blocked a swing of the Arbiter´s stun sword with his arm shield and retaliated -¨During the war with us we constantly tried to pry information from them, if the covenant had found the location of the Spartan III homeworld we could have glassed one of their main beacons of hope like we did to Reach.¨

¨True, but I feel like he is up to something. We must finish our survey on the replicators and return soon to the city.¨- The Arbiter avoided a stab and directed his blade to R´tas neck, but found a blade perilously close to his heart.

¨A draw it seems ¨

Secluded space in alliance city/ Colonel Ackerson´s ONI division

The tight space was covered in xenomorphic structure as the Alien queen watched her surroundings like looking for something. Unknown to Colonel Ackerson and DeSilva, the queen was afraid. Something was coming soon to this place, and whatever was coming was going to kill them all.

¨I can´t explain it sir¨- Ackerson´s lead scientist explained to his superiors -¨She reached full mature status but she simply won´t lay eggs.¨

¨You better have that, thing, planting eggs soon or I will simply be forced to give this assignment to someone more competent. Is that understood? ¨

¨Yes sirs, I´ll get my team…¨

¨Just get it done¨- Ackerson and deSilva left the highly armored chambers where they kept the queen. ODST´s in every exit nervously guarded the area while sentry turrets and Cyclops units surrounded the queen´s chambers in case one of those things came out. Ackerson had pulled quite a number to have that alien queen here under that pesky Ai, Cortana´s nose and he expected results. If he could breed alien warriors then the UNSC could give their enemies a run for their money.

Spartan 117 awoke to a sunny day; the fields were living green as the gentle breeze moved the grass in harmony. He had full armor for an unusual place but he felt no threat whatsoever, uncharacteristically of him he lay down in the grass and removed his helmet to see the clouds. He, Sam and Kelly used to sneak out at night to do the same during their training back on Reach.

¨John what are you doing there? Come join us¨

The chief saw Kelly also in Mark 6 armor minus helmet, she waved him to come join her and the other Spartans as they gathered near a structure; it was two curved spikes going up with a white glow that just by looking at it made John happy. The chief acknowledged Kelly and stood up to go join his brothers.

¨Don't do it!¨

The chief suddenly stopped and watched as a man in a weird armor yelled at him from afar. The man´s visor reminded the chief of the clone commando´s blue T line but this helmet was several glowing green lines. He frantically tried to get John to pay him attention waving his hands in the air.

The man said more but the words lost meaning to John...

The master chief stood up from bed as he realized once again those nightmares had plagued his dreams, next to him was Linda but unlike him she was fast asleep.

¨3 am¨- The chief noticed the same hour, this was not just a bad case of bad sleep anymore. Something was going on in the city.

¨wAnNa pLAy…¨

The Spartan turned to the far corner of the room to see two yellow eyes looking back at him, in the shadows he could see the figure of what looked like a 3 year old, a deformed dark skinned 3 year old. Without removing his gaze from that thing he extracted his gun from the nightstand and removed the safety.

¨ThaT wOnt do AnYThinG…¨ - The thing replied as he played with something, something that sounded squishy, the chief didn't want to know what it was. -¨wE Will cOMe SOoN… aND wE wILL pLaY WItH yoUr sOuLs…¨

The thing leaped at the chief with a shriek.

John pulled the trigger, but realized he had no gun. The room was empty besides him and Linda and he had just gotten up again.

¨Another dream…¨

Jenkins tossed and turned on his bunk but found no relief, that damn itch was in full swing again.

¨Fuck this!¨

Storming up, he put on his boots and headed towards the bathroom to splash fresh water on his face. Letting the cold water out he dipped his face in it and looked at the mirror.

Almost instantly he jerked away, the mirror reflected his face for an instant, but a face he never wanted to see again.

He was flood again.

Repeating a mantra on his head he looked again and was relieved to see his normal human face. Getting out of there and trying not to tremble too much he headed towards the nearest infirmary to attend his itch.

After nervously waiting for a good 7 minutes a tired nurse beaconed him to enter the doctor´s office, the doctor on night duty looked up from his desktop.

¨Mr. Jenkins, the Itching again I suppose¨

¨Doctor, you have to give me something. That cream you gave me last night didn't do jack shit!.¨

Sighing, the doctor stood up as Jenkins kept scratching his back. For the past couple of nights Jenkins had visited him to complain of a non existing skin problem. The private knew he was close to driving the doctor insane with all the night visits, if the doctor got fed too much he could send a report to psychiatric wing to evaluate if Jenkins was mentally fit to be a part of the marines, and they really needed everyone up to fight in the war.

The doctor knew nothing was wrong with him, but he needed to finally convince Jenkins. So he would do the most logical thing; a full scan to show Jenkins there wasn´t anything wrong with him.

Strapped to a table, Jenkins watched as the scanner went up and down his body while the doc patiently awaited the results. He knew he would find nothing out of the…

¨Oh my god

Jenkins noticed the loss of color on the doctor and asked -¨what´s wrong with me doctor, please tell me?¨

¨Nothing private, j-just that you were right. There is a skin rash caused by low level radiation, let me get something and you will be on your way¨

Jenkins didn't buy any of it, but decided to play along. The doctor left the room in quite a hurry which only fueled the private´s doubts. Standing up he approached the screen with the results and was horrified when he read the bold red words.


Jenkins stumbled back while two flamethrower marines rushed to the room.

¨Wait please no!!¨

The marines incinerated Jenkins as he screamed in agony.


Several marines got up when they heard Jenkins scream, it was another nightmare. Jenkins knew he was loosing his mind.

Conference Room/

Keyes rushed past several people as he made his way to the conference room. He knew he was late, not by much but still, those restless dreams were getting to him. As he reached the door Keyes straightened up and proceeded to go inside; a clone advisor and Zeratul were eyeing the schematics of a ship Keyes recognized as a clone star destroyer, when they saw him they turned to him.

¨Captain Keyes¨- The clone advisor approached him to shake his hand.

¨Advisor¨, Zeratul ¨- Keyes returned the shake, feeling slightly embarrassed -¨Sorry If I made you wait too long¨

¨Not to worry¨- Zeratul replied -¨We still have plenty of time left¨

¨Besides, Delta 38 hasn't arrived yet. But we will have to do without him¨- Advisor Sierra 14 added, and then he turned to the protoss dark templar -¨Then it´s settled, Zeratul will stay in command of the city while we get back¨

¨Excuse me?¨- Keyes was lost for an instant -¨Get back from where exactly? ¨

¨A demonstration Terran¨-Zeratul answered -¨Do not worry, I will keep the city safe until your return.¨

Keyes replied his concern wasn't for the templar being command; Zeratul was more than qualified for the job, he was just curious to know where he was going. Sierra 14 hailed his ship by comm and he and Keyes were beamed onto the bridge of a Star destroyer.

¨Sierra 14, Jacob Keyes, welcome to the Winged Dagger¨- an UNSC admiral said to both men. Keyes rarely saw any admiral in the secret wars, let alone ¨The¨ admiral Cole.


¨At ease¨- Admiral Cole said -¨I´m just for the ride, we want to see how good you really are with command of a ship, besides this isn´t my bridge, it´s Sierra 14´s¨.

¨And now it´s yours Keyes¨- Sierra 14 finished the sentence.

Keyes knew with the autumn in bad shape he would probably be handed command of another ship, but an UNSC ship - ¨But admiral, this is a republic ship, shouldn't it be more logic for me…¨

¨Relax ¨- Sierra 14 interrupted -¨It´s just for the duration of the small test. Aegir, set a course. Captain Keyes, you will be briefed along the way¨.

¨Understood¨ -The small asgard looked alien from his command console next to the clones, but he was needed in the star destroyer until the clones could fully master the asgard technology installed, like beaming technology and the added slipspace drive that the ship used.

¨Now Keyes, we need to put your skills to the test¨- Sierra 14 explained to Keyes -¨We are going to give command of an UNSC ship to you, but first, we need to see if you really are as good as reports say you are¨

Keyes was beginning to understand, but this ship was very different from of the autumn, besides, it missed what made the autumn what it was; his bridge crew and most importantly, Cortana.

Cole guessed right and added -¨we know this ship is unlike any UNSC ship, but we need to see if you can handle any type of combat situation in different scenarios, we need to prepare for anything when we face the replicator´s once more.¨

¨Very well¨- Keyes gave up fighting it and asked for a quick brief on the Star destroyer. To be honest, he was thrilled for the chance of trying out this ship. As Sierra 14 showed him the basics, Cole wondered if it was a good idea what they were planning to do after the test.

¨Eigther, guess what ¨

The still young clone trooper looked away from his study panel to his best friend. - ¨Shhh, we can't talk during class Zechs¨

The advisor thought he heard chatter and turned to them -¨ 01/138 , 01/166, is there something you want to ask?¨

¨No sir!¨- Both recruits replied in unison. Satisfied, the advisor kept doing his roundup.

When he was away from range, 66 turned to 38 - ¨Anyway, I overheard an advisor saying they needed more clones for the commando unit.¨

¨So ? everyone already knows that¨

¨But listen; they aren't going to clone new commandos. They are selecting a few of the regular field trooper batch. And it´s from number 01/101 to 01/180¨

This news made 38 forget the study altogether and pay full attention to his friend - ¨Are you sure! ¨

¨You know me eighter, I wouldn't lie about something as big as this¨

All clones were bred to fight for the republic with unquestioned loyalty, but Eighter and Zechs had always dreamed of being more than just regular troopers. Call it a genetic memory defect when they were born, but it was because all clones had a part of their original host within them, Jango Fett.

They wanted to be more, to be the best they could be. And now they were going to be just that…


¨So you do remember eighter…¨

Delta 38 was looking from a balcony to the sky; he tried to ignore his companion next to him. Zechs, the dead clone he kept seeing everywhere.

¨The two of us; we were going to be fighting shoulder to shoulder. But you betrayed me eighter.¨

¨It wasn't like that¨- 38 tried to explain, but Zechs kept on talking.

¨Oh really, then why did you kill me? Why did you slash my throat and leave me to die like that, huh? Why old friend?¨

Delta 38 had no answer for that, he barely remembered any of that day. It was all blurry to him; he was fighting Zechs to decide which of them would be leader in a commando unit. It was a competition, nothing personal, but something went terribly wrong. And it was slowly killing 38 from the inside.

¨Enemy ship is coming for another pass¨

¨Bring all turrets to bear, open fire at will¨- Keyes addressed from the bridge of the destroyer.

¨Yes sir!¨

The aclamator ship made a quick jump into lightspeed and then another one to face the destroyer head on. The small ship knew it was no match for the destroyer and boarding it was out of the question when Keyes released fighters for point defense. So it was coming for a collision course. Thinking fast, Keyes made course calculations and relayed them to the clone at the helm. The clone knew the risk when he got them but obeyed.

¨Helm, get ready to engage.¨

¨Yes sir!¨

The aclamator was quickly approaching them when the destroyer changed course at the last minute and passed the aclamator from the left side. While the fighters protecting the destroyer suddenly went to harass the small ship, the destroyer made a bone jarring U turn that shook the entire ship and faced the aclamator´s engines.


The Destroyer cannons disabled the enemy ship as the fighters returned to the docking bays.

¨Good one.¨- Sierra 14 said as he surveyed the aclamator ship - ¨That´s 3 wins for Keyes now¨

The two aclamator ships returned to formation and sided the destroyer as their escort. The ships weapons had been lowered to 20 percent to avoid any permanent damage during the simulated fights.


A comm. Channel opened to show the arbiter from his command chair inside the Watchful eye.

¨Arbiter, I didn't knew you would be here?¨- Keyes asked.

¨I was informed by Sierra 14 that you would be here and decided to join you in surveying this test. I have collected our brethren from the predator home world and we are ready to return to the city if you are all finished here.¨

¨Actually, there is one last test we need to do¨- Sierra 14 added -¨All ships, return power to normal levels and prepare for combat¨

¨What is next advisor? ¨- Keyes asked kinda lost about why had they prepared for combat, according to deep scans, there wasn't any enemy around them in over 100 lightyears.

¨Aegir, start it up¨- the advisor said to the asgard and then turned to Keyes. -¨We need to test you in one final test; live combat. Aegir has just activated a low range Asgard core to attract a small replicator ship¨

"What!?" – Keyes asked surprised –" Advisor, we cant take that risk. The replicators ships are far too powerful, even for 4 ships"

" Three ships" –The advisor corrected –" Arbiter, you will not engage by any means, keep your ship cloaked in case we need beaming extraction if things go haywire"

" The more reason you must not do this" – The arbiter supported Keyes case but the onboard Asgard dismissed his worries.

"We have previously scanned the surrounding 200 lightyears to monitor the progress of a small replicator frigate. The ship is quite far from Borg controlled space where currently most of replicator forces are now. We are quite safe Arbiter"

Keyes felt it in his gut that this was a wrong idea so he decided to put his foot down -"Even so, I am forced to delay that order. You will not activate that core by any circunstances"

"Too late "- Cole informed Keyes –" The replicator ship has just detected us and its coming our way"

"Damn it" – Keyes thought, but it was too late to say anything else, resigning he took his place back at the commanding spot –" Acclamator ships raise shields and reroute all non essential power to weapons. Prepare all fighters for liftoff at my command."

Aegir, the Asgard onboard, looked at his console and displayed the current position of the replicator ship for all to see –" Replicator warship will arrive in approximately 2 minutes"

"Wow, those things are fast"- A clone murmured.

The red dot was closing fast to their position when it suddenly disappeared from their radar, leaving Keyes and the others dumbstruck. –" Aegir, where is the ship? "

The asgard rechecked his console and informed –" the Protoss observers that were tracking the ship have stopped transmitting any data. That is very odd. "

"Could they have been destroyed ?" –The arbiter asked when the answer appeared before them. An unknown ship that could match the size of a covenant carrier materialized from slipspace. Keyes and the others examined the ships unique figure: a large oval ring ship with a big white energy sphere housed in the middle.

Keyes also noted something else; while the clones, the Arbiter, Cole and Sierra admired the ship with curiosity since it was clear it wasn't from replicator origin, Aegir seemed to recognize it.

" That is an Ori warship"- The asgard informed them.

Keyes wanted to ask more about these "ori" but he focused on the ship instead. The ori warship approached attack range but only stayed there doing nothing. Deciding not to attack yet, Keyes ordered a clone to hail them.

"No response sir"

"Our scanners cant tell us anything except this; their shields are massive, sir" – Another clone informed.

Keyes feared that, it seemed that energy sphere in the middle of the ship was responsible of powering the ship like he assumed.

" Sir! The ship is charging weapons"

"Reinforce forward shielding! Prepare all weapons to counterattack!" -As Keyes barked orders the Ori warship fired a long line of gold energy straight at the star destroyer.

The last thing Keyes felt was the entire ship rocketing as the enemy fire hit them.


Well, after a long hiatus I'm back! Missed, forgotten, hated ?. Working Monday to Saturday is a bitch, which leaves me with little energy to write, but a lot of inspiration =D

This chapter is only half of the story, chapter 18 will conclude what I started in this chapter. More will be revealed as the Ori begin to make their presence more noticeable while the replicators wage their war against the Borg, which will leave the rest of the races with an uncertain fate surrounding them.

Until next time, hopefully soon

Next chapter:

The master chief studied the man before him, he seemed like between 35 and 40 but his eyes could say he was well over a hundred. Fighting those necromorphs as the man called them could be very tiredsome.

The man took a seat on the floor, trying to catch his breath when the green armored giant ( as Isaac could describe him) took a seat in front of him and spoke:

"Thanks, for back there"- The chief said, referring as how Isaac saved him from those necros that got the upper hand. –" My name is John" – The chief offered as he extended his hand.

Isaac cracked a small smile and returned the greeting –" I'm Isaac, Isaac Hayes."

Both men shook hands with newfound hopes of getting off the Ishimura alive.