Chapter 18: The Beginning
"Maybe we should start with where we are." The girl said.
"Uhhh, yeah, let's start with that." Karla said, her puzzlement still obvious.
The girl blinked. "Oh, I'm sorry, you probably don't recognize me while I'm in this form. Let me change into one you'll probably feel more comfortable in."
Suddenly, the girl seemed to age in front of Karla's eyes. In an instant, the ten year old girl morphed into a thirty to forty year old woman. Suddenly, it hit Karla, through pictures and many vague memories.
"Mom?" Karla whispered.
The mysterious being nodded.
"How do I know it's really you?"
"Well, that's really all up to you, isn't it?"
Karla took a closer look at the being claiming to be her mother. She couldn't explain it, but Karla had this feeling inside of her that felt so familiar, but could not quite place it. It was the feeling of being safe and belonging, without having to care about anything else in the world, at least for a little while. Living a life focused around years of constant war had made Karla completely forget what it was like to live without its horrors. She could only remember one time where she never felt that way.
When she was with either of her parents.
"Oh my god…"
Karla found it difficult to hold back her tears, but fortunately, years of military training and hardening managed to beat out sentimentalism. There were some times were emotion was acceptable, but this wasn't one of them.
"You never used to be so stoic, Karla." Maya smiled. "But I could understand why."
"How are you alive?" Karla narrowed her eyes. "And why do you all of sudden have superpowers?"
"I would love to try and explain it all to you, Karla, but there just simply isn't any time for that right now. This is an extremely rare opportunity for me to communicate with you directly without arousing suspicion. So please try and listen."
"Okay." Karla nodded, her military side taking over again. "Then let's start off with what this place is."
"Well." Maya began to sit down just as a chair materialized out of nowhere. "I know how much you don't like science, so I'll put this as bluntly as I can. You, Samantha, about 3,000 Marines, a good deal of Covenant troops, and large portion of New Mombasa were actually pulled into the Slipspace wormhole instead of being outright destroyed."
This was exactly why Karla disliked Slipspace. So many unexplained physics issues.
"So you mean to tell me we got warped here through Slipspace?"
"No, I mean to tell you that you're actually in Slipspace. Well, a Slipspace bubble more specifically."
Karla shook her head and sighed. She was suddenly having a huge headache.
"I understand if this is a little too much for you." Maya said sympathetically. "It's not every day that this sort of thing happens."
"Where is everybody?" Sam asked, looking around her. "Where's Sam, my squad? Wheres-"
She was about to say "Ronald", but stopped there. However, she had the feeling that Maya knew.
"A side effect of the Slipspace bubble being formed was that it contained a time-dilation field."
Karla raised her eyebrow and glared at Maya. It was an expression she used to convey that she didn't understand a word of what was just said without looking stupid. Maya immediately got the point.
"A time-dilation field is basically this bubble where everything inside of it either moves slower or faster than the flow of time outside of it. Right now, everything in this time-dilation field is moving far slower than the time passing in reality. Right now, you and me are the only ones here with any awareness to what's going on because I cancelled out the time-dilation field's effects on you."
"So…" Karla made it appear as if Maya would naturally continue and summarize everything up.
Maya smiled and sighed. "Everybody else is frozen in time, just like a very large and more comfortable cryo-pod."
"Okay, so what are we doing here in the first place?"
"Ah, now we start getting to the meat of the issue." Maya grinned. "You see, there are really only two important reasons- no, three- why I'm involved in all of this.
"The first reason is to ensure that humanity survives. You and Samantha were placed here, at this vital turning point in time in the hopes that your actions will help tip the balance in favor of humanity. However, some of my… colleagues don't quite agree with my methods or agenda, but unlike me, none of them were exactly human in their past lives, so they're not as biased when it comes to the outcome of this war."
"Uh huh." Karla kept playing along.
"The second reason is to ensure that you and Samantha survive. At least long enough to have children."
Karla coughed. "What?"
"Sorry." Maya laughed. "I probably said that a bit too bluntly. What I meant was that you and Samantha are… special to say the least."
"Yeah, and explanation on that would also be nice."
"Have you ever had the feeling that you were somehow different? That you could do things that nobody else could?"
"Now that you mention it…"
Karla could now suddenly remember various events in her life. Events that never seemed to make sense at the time. She never really suffered any serious illnesses, and recovered very quickly from many injuries that would have been incredibly debilitating or even fatal. Come to think of it, Karla couldn't remember a time where a serious battlefield injury would keep her down for long.
"Goddamnit, so that's why Paccone always stays behind me!"
"Yes, you possess the uncanny ability to recover quickly from wounds. It does have its limits, however, but I've managed to keep you covered during those rare moments."
"Well, what can Sam do?" Karla asked, suddenly realizing that Sam might have been hiding things from her.
"Samantha has been manifesting some interesting abilities, and has a great amount of potential. She has incredibly quick reflexes, bordering on premonition, and a sort of extrasensory perception."
"So… she's psychic?"
"Quite possibly. You're really quite lucky. Few people can claim to be the precursors to the next stage of human evolution. It's really quite amazing." Maya could barely keep the excitement out of her voice.
"Did you do this?" Karla asked suspiciously.
"Oh no," Maya shook her head. " I definitely would have been caught if I tried to do a crazy stunt like that. You might want to try asking Scohar though, he's been at this far longer than I have."
"Okay, this is getting to be way too much for me." Karla shook her head in agitation. "From what I've seen, you're basically a god. What's with all these limits and rules on what you can do?"
"Believe me, Karla, I could wipe the Covenant out of existence just by sneezing the wrong way. I would love to end the war right here and now, but you have to realize that there are many others out there like me who can undo my changes or strip me of my powers. Extra-dimensional beings like me aren't exactly supposed to be meddling in the affairs of the physical realm, so I have to be subtle about it."
"Being a Captain, I can completely understand how you feel." Karla frowned. "By the way, what was that third reason you were going through all this trouble?"
"Because you and Samantha are my little girls, and I would move heaven and earth to protect the both of you." Maya said, emotion heavy in her voice.
"Alright, I'm convinced." Karla raised her arms into the air. "So what do we do now?"
"Well, the only thing you can do now is wait. Eventually, the Slipspace bubble will lose its cohesiveness and dump you back into realspace."
"Wonderful. And I'm guessing our destination is going to be completely random."
"But it'll somehow be in a place that has air and atmosphere, and where me and Sam can do the most good for humanity."
"Two for two."
Karla frowned. "And I suppose we're going to have to make do with what we have now."
"Not necessarily." Maya grinned and waved her hand again.
Suddenly, a massive object materialized out of nowhere and came to float next to where Karla and Maya were. Upon closer examination, Karla saw the military markings and emblems painted on the side of the object, and realized it was a UNSC military space station.
"That is in fact the long-lost Nassau Station. Funny story, really. The whole station was caught in a freak Slipspace anomaly and was trapped in a little space-time bubble. I'm sure you'll appreciate what's inside of it, though."
Before Karla knew it, she suddenly found herself inside the actual station. Somewhat disoriented by the sudden teleportation, she found herself face to face with a hulking red giant.
"Holy shit!" Karla yelled as she jumped back and pulled out her pistol in surprise.
Finally, her rationality caught up with her and she held her fire. Karla gasped at what she saw. She was face to face with an actual SPARTAN II, though it was clad in red armor instead of the traditional green everybody was so fond of. Karla also realized that it wasn't moving. She then remembered about the time-dilation field Maya mentioned. This Spartan must also be frozen in time.
"I would like to introduce you to Petty Officer Second Class Spartan-458." Maya suddenly materialized out of the air behind the Spartan. "I daresay that this is exactly what you need."
Karla leaned forward to examine the Spartan more closely. It looked like the real deal, MJOLNIR armor and all. Though she had never actually fought in combat alongside one, Karla had heard many stories about these things, plus she was in spitting distance of the most famous one ever just hours before. From what she could gather, the Spartans were basically one-man armies, each one worth more than a thousand normal Marines.
"I thought the rest of them were all killed off on Reach." Karla said.
"Now now, don't believe everything you hear." Maya laughed. "There's a reason why the UNSC never lists Spartans as KIA."
"Well, I feel a whole lot safer already." Karla looked around. "Got any other hidden goodies in here? Starships? MAC cannons? An entire battalion of Helljumpers?"
"Well, you'll find plenty of experimental weapons and supplies in the station itself. You're going to need them once you reach your destination."
Suddenly, everything seemed to blur for a moment, as if the entire station were trying to refocus itself in the lens of a camera.
"Well, time's up." Maya said sadly. "Remember what I told you, and try to keep to Samantha out of trouble, though she just seems to love finding it herself."
"You're telling me." Karla agreed.
"Oh, and you really should spend more time with that Sergeant of yours. He reminds me a lot of your father when I first met him."
"What?" Karla was about to ask her mother something else when everything went black.
Karth: Covenant Core World
Karth was once the jewel of the entire Covenant Empire. It possessed some of the most powerful and highly trained armies in the entire galaxy, its massive shipyards produced countless ships for the grand armadas that made up the Covenant fleet, and it was a center of culture and religion for countless Elites. The planet was considered a paradise by all who stepped foot on its soil, and a utopia for those that hadn't.
However, once the Covenant Civil War started, everything changed. Once word had reached the planet that the Prophets had betrayed them, almost every Elite on the planet rebelled. Since Karth's population was an combination of various species, roughly ninety percent of the population sided with the Seperatists, while a small number of Loyalists stubbornly held on to what territory they had to protect the Prophets residing over Karth. Meanwhile in space, Separatist and Loyalist fleets viciously dueled each other, filling the skies above Karth with fire and burning metal.
Meanwhile, the site of the heaviest fighting was Karth's capital, Serrano, the Loyalists' final stronghold. While the Separatist forces had the numbers on their side, the Loyalists had strong defensive positions and had quite a number of the Prophets' most highly trained Brutes. For the moment, the battle was caught in a vicious stalemate, with neither side able to push the other out of the city.
That is, until an entire human city and space station suddenly materialized out of nowhere and landed in what were once residential hab blocks.
Karla took one look around and immediately realized that the architecture of the buildings outside the city looked very familiar. It looked like the same style Covenant ships were designed…
Author's Notes: For those of you that don't know, Spartan-458 is actually a character from Dead or Alive 4, so I don't that character or the game in any way. Legal matters aside, All or Nothing is now concluded. The story will continue on into my next fic, Conflict of Interest. Keep your eyes out and keep reading!