Kerian: Note to all readers; the following takes place about 10 years after the closing events of Halo 3. This is all based off of my Machinima series that I will soon (hopefully) be making. I do not claim ownership of Halo, or any games made by Bungie.
Dark Rising: The Short Story
By Kerian Halcyon
They say that Spartans are experts at all kinds of warfare save for tactics in outer space. A Spartan is best when he's on foot and on the ground, and battles in orbit, away from solid earth and away from the gravitational pull of any landmass, are something as alien to them as the Covenant.
As a Spartan himself, Spartan-301 would have to disagree.
The darkness of the Covenant ship almost matched that of his short time on the planet of Reach after it fell; cold, cruel, and buffeted mercilessly against the elements. Save for the occasional hum of a computer, the distant drone of the powerful fusion engines, or even the minor sounds of battle outside as the mighty Whale-like ship chased the experimental Infiltrator craft in the deep recesses of space, the Destroyer was as silent as the planets that it glassed during the Covenant War. The silence seemed to penetrate even the very soul of the crewmembers of the Destroyer as they walked back and forth on board the ship.
The kind of silence that was perfect for an ambush.
A pair of Elites walked up to the two computers in the center of the almost empty cargo bay. The ship, the Claws of Mercy, had recently engaged yet another one of the UNSC's orbital platforms in the Charbydis system. Very few people knew why the Loyalists were so interested in this region; possibly because there were few UNSC army outposts in the region or because of the amount of strange artifacts in the system. Nevertheless, the Loyalists have been doing their best to isolate the entire system and ensure that no UNSC ship could escape and call for help.
They just didn't expect that Spartans would get involved.
The HERMES-Class Infiltrator, Titan Oranos, had barely managed to escape the Manger when the Loyalist Destroyer attacked and sent in a raid on the station. The reason why the purple and blue ship was empty was because the Destroyer had to pull out quick to deal with the speedy little ship, as if the Loyalists suspected that the tiny Corvette had a slipspace drive on board. It wasn't long before the starship managed to get within firing distance, and a small dogfight soon followed suit.
The Elites obviously didn't see the Bumblebee escape pod just outside their range pull in and dock near one of their vehicle-jettison pods.
There was a pair of silent thumps, and the two Elites went down, holes in their heads. A Spartan-III in Scout Armor, wearing a Mark V helmet, poked her head out from the corner where she sniped the two unsuspecting aliens only a few moments before, her Sniper rifle cocked back in the process of reloading. As if on cue, her five other companions, led by a red Spartan with EOD shoulders and a similar Mark V helmet, came out of the shadows like wraiths in the darkness.
The six of them gathered together and scavenged the weaponry of the two Elites, passing them amongst each other before picking up the carcasses and hiding them in the darkness. One of the Spartans, wearing blue armor, quickly mopped up the purple blood with a rag he found in the bin he was hiding before joining the others.
"Alright, men," said the Spartan in red armor, "Let's get going. We have to disable this ship quickly if we are ever going to deal with these Loyalists. Chamberlain, you're on point. Jackie, you stay in the back; take out anybody up front before they sound an alarm. Jacobs; you remain behind and see if you can get as much equipment as possible inside the Bumblebee before you get the package set up. Move out, Spartans!"
"Yes, squad leader!" the Spartan-IIIs replied silently.
The "package" that the red Spartan was in fact referring to was a HAVOK tactical nuclear warhead that they brought on board. The powerful bomb was going to be a last resort in case they couldn't disable the ship and get it back on the Manger, where it could be disassembled and used as a means to get people off of the system and back into UNSC controlled space. Sure, the presence of a Covenant vessel will bring a red flag up, but the Spartan-IIIs would cross that bridge when they came to it.
The five Spartan-IIIs walked forward carefully, leaving their brown compatriot behind. He hastily began taking Plasma Cannons and other weapons out of the cargo bay and into the docked escape pod, making sure everything was packed easily enough so that they could have room to leave later.
The Spartan-IIIs moved as silently as ghosts. Their guns raised and loaded, they checked each and every nook and cranny for signs of any hostiles. Their motion sensors keyed in for any resistance; so far only five green dots showed on each of their helmet displays. The halls and rooms of the ship continued to stay silent as they each made their way through the darkness of the ship.
Suddenly, Chamberlain, a Spartan in green armor with Security shoulders and a Mark VI helmet, held his hand up quickly. The four other Spartans held still. The recognizable motion blips showed up on their sensors as two or three hostiles began making their way down the halls of the ship.
The Squad Leader moved forward, and sneaked a peak around the corner, well aware of the risks. He spotted the three aliens right away, though what caught him off guard was the color of their armor, a sure sign of rank if he remembered correctly. Two were wearing red armor with white details, Majors of high ranks. The third was an Ultra, an Elite commander in white armor. This one had steel-grey details, indicating that he wasn't just a commander, but also a powerful shock trooper as well. The Brute-based weaponry that the Elite carried helped prove that theory, as the Elite was carrying a Brute Shot and a Gravity Hammer.
The Squad Leader brought his head back quickly. He could not tell or fathom the reasons why any Elite would be carrying Brute Weaponry. If he remembered correctly, the Elites hated Brutes, and considered wielding their weaponry just as bad as wielding human weaponry before the great Schism. Then again, the fact that these Elites were fighting against proper peace terms was a mystery even beyond his fathoming.
The Squad Leader began using rapid hand signals, indicating the threat and how to deal with it. The four other Spartans nodded. One of them, Chamberlain, put two fingers in front of his visor, the universal Spartan depiction of a smile. The Squad Leader nodded back, glad that Chamberlain was optimistic about this ordeal. Squad Leader gave a couple of quick hand-signals for the plan, and speedily got out a large orb from a magnetic seal on his hip.
The Squad Leader tossed the orb down the hall. A slight explosion followed by a blinding light from the hall rippled through the room. The Elites groaned in disarray at the flare, blinded by the intense light.
Jackie popped out and rapidly pulled the trigger three times. The sniper bullets hit the three silhouettes on-target, and the Elites fell without another sound. The flare died as fast as it came to life, revealing the bleeding bodies on the floor.
The five Spartans grabbed the grenades left behind by the three Elites and made their way across the hallway. Almost as soon as he passed the dead aliens, the Squad Leader almost came to a stop. A gut feeling exploded in his brain, telling him a thousand times over that something just wasn't right.
After he got within five feet, he stopped and quickly turned around. The white Elite, incredibly, had somehow managed to stay alive after getting shot in the neck. Crouched on all fours, the Elite coughed blood once before lifting a foot up and striking at a console on the side of the wall. Almost instantly, an alarm went off as the Elite fell dead, drowned in his own blood.
"Spartans, move!" The Squad Leader muttered.
The five Spartans went down the hall quickly. As they did, the sounds of war cries began to reverberate through the ship. An unfortunate Elite managed to walk down a side-passage in their path. He fell with a groan as another Sniper bullet went through his head.
Two more Elites were a little faster. Before anyone could react, they rolled down the same passageway and tossed a pair of grenades at the oncoming Spartans. The Squad Leader acted quickly by tossing a pair of his own, accurately striking the two grenades. The grenades bounced off of each other and exploded in the air.
Gunfire exploded through the halls as Chamberlain opened fire with his Assault rifle. The shredder rounds first bounced off of the Elites' shields before penetrating and exploding in their guts, killing them instantly. Chamberlain reloaded the gun to ensure he had a full package for their next conflict, and the five Spartans ran down to the ship's bridge.
They arrived sooner than they thought they would. The Destroyer wasn't at all that big compared to the other Covenant ships. Neither was the bridge, though it disguised some very awesome firepower on board. It also happened to be filled with at least 20 Loyalist personnel, every one of them armed.
The Spartans wasted no time firing at the aliens. At least five Elites went down before the rest of them got enough bearings to return fire. Plasma and bullets went flying back and forth on both sides, though it didn't take long for the firing to stop.
When it was finished, the five Spartan-IIIs surveyed their handiwork. The bridge was a mess, though none of the control-systems were hit at all in the firing. The Elites were all in contorted positions of death, their blood oozing openly from bullet-holes that peppered their bodies and through their shielded armor.
The Squad Leader quickly came up to the control systems. He quickly hand-signaled to the other team members. Chamberlain and the blue Spartan, Renald, quickly got the bodies out the door, save for their weapons, and tossed them. They then proceeded to bolt the doors, ensuring their protection while they were on board. Jackie and the other Spartan-III, Leah, got to the controls alongside the Squad Leader and began translating the Covenant language.
It wasn't long before they found what they were looking for: The controls for the ventilation systems. The Squad Leader began typing in on the controls and selecting a few key places to start venting oxygen; he made sure that the Cargo Bay and the Bridge were sealed off from the rest of the ship before they did so. After doing some careful modifications, he pressed the button, and vented all the air out of the ship.
Before anyone could say "Hold your breath," a rush of air came and went outside the blast-doors. The Squad Leader checked the blips aboard the ship to make sure that nobody was left alive. No lights blipped on save for one in the cargo bay and the five in the bridge. After a sigh, the Squad Leader deactivated the vent systems, and began pumping oxygen back into the ship, glad that the mission was at last a success.
He clicked on his radio and patched it in through the ship's computer, sending a signal to the Titan Oranos outside. "Titan Oranos," he said, "We're done here. The ship's ours. All Covenant Loyalists have been taken care of. Let's head back to the Manger."
"Sooner than you think, Tyson," said a female voice, "But I'm afraid we've got a problem. You guys have to leave the ship and get the hell out of there. I've got some bad news."
"What's the problem?" the Squad Leader asked.
"Turns out the Covenant Loyalists must have tried calling for help while you were on board," the voice said, "An Assault Carrier is floating right within a few hundred kilometers of our position and is heading our way. I think a tactical retreat is in order, but if I'm not mistaken that means leaving your prize. I'm sorry."
The Squad Leader, Tyson, sighed. All that hard work for nothing. Now, the only starship capable of a slipspace jump under UNSC control was the Titan Oranos. There was no way they were going to get help that easily, not with their current mission at hand.
Tyson clicked his radio back on. "Alright," he said, "Get our pod door ready for pickup, and get ready to jump in-system back to Charbydis IX. We need to hook up with the Angel of the Night. That's our best bet before we get rid of these Covenant bastards. We'll make sure to leave a little parting gift for these guys. Over and out."
"See you when you get back, Tyson," the female voice said, and the connection was terminated.
Tyson reloaded his Battle Rifle in defeat. The other Spartan-IIIs looked up at him from their positions, sensing the obvious submissiveness of their Squad Leader.
"Pack up all the weapons you can," Tyson said, "This mission's a wash. We're heading out. Leah! Quickly get on the intercom and tell Jacobs to load the HAVOK. We're going to give these so-called Loyalists a little example of Spartan hospitality."
"Yes sir," Leah said silently. She hooked up her radio and began speaking through her mic, undetected outside of her armor. Chamberlain shrugged his shoulders, his optimism replaced with regret. Renald, always silent, shook his head in defeat.
Tyson felt bad inside. His Spartans weren't trained to cope with losing. They only knew how to win. This recent series of battles was their first real experience with war, something Colonel Travis, their creator and funder for the Spartan-III project, had not anticipated when he sent them to Charbydis IX. Without another word, Tyson picked up a couple Needlers and a Beam Rifle, and made his way to the cargo bay, followed behind by the rest of the Spartan-IIIs.
It wasn't long before their Bumblebee, heavy with Covenant Weaponry, took off from the side of the Destroyer and abandoned the newly adorned ghost ship. By that time, the Assault Carrier had covered the distance to the Destroyer by almost 80%. The Bumblebee barely managed to get away before the ship began to hail the Destroyer in search of life forms, narrowly missing them in the scan.
A HAVOK Nuclear Warhead had absolutely no chance of taking out anything as big as an Assault Carrier on its own. Such a thought would be like asking an Ant Lion to attack and harm its mammal counterpart. However, if a Covenant vessel happened to have its shields off once a HAVOK exploded, the resulting EMP could shorten out their circuitry and leave them dead in space for about five hours.
As Tyson had hoped while looking through the Titan Oranos' viewscreens, that's exactly what was going to happen.
The Assault Carrier was obviously going to dock with the Claws of Mercy when the HAVOK's timer went off. About 10 megatons of nuclear firepower doused the ship, stopping the giant vessel cold in its tracks. If Tyson knew anything about Covenant ships, the area the now destroyed Destroyer had gone off was right next to the ship's engines, knocking the ship out cold. He sighed in relief; they may not be going home any time soon, but at least that Assault Carrier was done with for now.
A light-blue and red armored hand touched his shoulder. He looked down to see the armored figure of Amanda Grey, codenamed South Carolina, an ex-Freelancer.
"Are you alright?"
"I'm fine," he said, lightly brushing the gloved hand off, "Why do you ask?"
Amanda brushed her light-brown hair with her gloved hand, patting her Mark VI helmet with the fingertips of her other gloved appendage.
"The fact that your mission didn't go quite as well as planned is probably a start," she said.
"So?" Tyson replied, looking back at the viewscreen, "At least Plan B was successful."
"That's still not going to get those Marines on Charbydis IX off planet," she said, "Without a working Slipspace drive there's no way we're getting them out of here; not without help. You and I both know that the Destroyer you just blew to hell was their only hope of getting out of here and getting backup from Earth."
"I know," Tyson said, "But all the same, it doesn't mean that we can't try again. For now, we just stick to the plan, and that plan is to make sure that the Covenant Loyalists don't get their hands on the other Precursor Artifacts."
"And how exactly are we going to accomplish that plan?" Amanda asked.
"Miss Grey, that answer is a relatively simple one."
A green hologram popped up from the console in front of the two Spartans. The hologram, an AI in green Mark V armor, looked at them each in turn before chuckling to himself.
"How exactly are we going to accomplish that, oh mighty Delta?" Amanda asked sarcastically.
"Simple and obvious," the AI chuckled, "We just play follow the leader."
A new image showed up on the viewscreen. Several Covenant Frigates hovered around a second Assault Carrier before turning away from the system.
"I took the liberty of sending a tracking device disguised as a piece of debris to that Assault Cruiser over there," Delta said, "My guess is that while the rest of the fleet remains behind to guard this system, that group over there are going to be on their way to the next Precursor artifact."
"And we'll be right in tow," Tyson said.
"Well, that answers my question," Amanda said.
"It's all elementary, my dear Amanda," Delta said, "Plan ahead and not even your enemies can see you coming. Now, if I'm not mistaken they are getting ready for a slipspace jump."
Tyson could see that the AI was right. The oblong, whale-like ships began to ripple at their bows as they prepared to enter the dimension that allowed faster-than-light speed possible. Tyson could see that the window of opportunity was closing fast.
"Alright," Tyson said, "Spartans on deck. Alpha Company teams Blue, Red, and Green prepare for slipspace jump. Red team, on deck. Disable all weapons systems. Let's get moving like we're being paid, Spartans. We've got a job to do!"
"Sir, yes sir!" shouted several voices in his headset.
Amanda shook her head, though whether out of sarcasm or out of admiration Tyson couldn't tell. She placed her light-blue helmet back on her head and proceeded to type in commands on board the tiny starship.
"All vectors set," Delta said on the intercom, "Engine cores are hot. Shawa-Fujikawa slipspace drive is charged and ready for use. Weapons systems offline. Ready for jump."
"On my mark," Tyson said.
He wanted to make sure the Covenant didn't see them jump. The Titan Oranos may be the fastest Slipspace traveler in the UNSC fleet, but he knew that their ship could barely catch up with any of those CSS-Class Battlecruisers, and they certainly had no hope of outrunning anything as big as an Assault Cruiser. All they needed was a slip-up, and they'd exit slipspace right in front of the fully charged plasma cannons of over half a dozen capital ships.
He waited until the last ship was about to exit through Slipspace: The Assault Cruiser. Such a giant vessel awaiting its partners to go on ahead probably meant that a very high official was in charge, someone with great status amongst the Loyalists, and someone who knows to keep an eye on his troops.
He waited until the ship's bow had halfway entered the makeshift Slipspace rupture…
"Hang on to your helmets!" shouted Delta.
The HERMES-Class Infiltrator was much faster at creating and entering Slipspace ruptures than any known Covenant Ship, making it an engineering marvel amongst UNSC technicians. With barely even any time for its crew to feel any nausea, the ship jumped, speeding through slipspace like a torpedo. The viewscreens, unable to capture any real light, fizzled for a moment before going blank.
Baros 'Jarumee growled as he saw the tiny ship exit into slipspace faster than the naked eye could follow. He seethed in rage. The demons had outsmarted him yet again since he first saw them, and he knew it was only a matter of time before it tore through his rank.
The Fleet Master wiped a piece of blood from his golden armor, hoping no one would notice the tiny cut that signified their leader's honor was bleeding, even if it was lightly. That was a result of what happened when the Claw of Mercy exploded in a fiery rage similar to a sun, stopping their ship cold in space, and knocking her crew around like a rag doll. Baros had received his gift when he managed to fall off of his chair and land on the computer console, where a data-card had managed to penetrate through a loose section of his Zealot gear.
His arms were crossed as he sat back on his now upright gravity chair. The rest of his crew had gotten back up from their short roller-coaster ride, though everyone seemed to have lost some sort of dignity one way or another. The demons had caught them off guard; not only that, they caught him, Baros, off guard. He swore inwardly that it wouldn't happen again…by the Forerunners it wouldn't!
"Major!" Baros barked, "Report!"
"Fleet Master," the Major said from his console, "the blast had managed to knock our engines out cold. There's no real damage, but the Fist of the Gods' engines are going to be offline for at least an hour. Subdeck B-19 has been obliterated from the explosion of the Claw of Mercy."
"Close off B-19, and close the vent systems in that area so that we aren't venting atmosphere."
"Already done, my lord."
Baros sighed. This was going to be a long day. General Greiva wasn't going to be too happy about what happened. Oh well…even great leaders had their failures; he just had to make sure that, as Fleet Master, it wouldn't happen again.
He looked back at the viewscreens viewing the empty corner of space where half of his fleet had been moments before. His cousin, Artras, had been sent under his orders to retrieve the other artifacts so that they could be brought back here to the planet that the humans called Charbydis IX. He didn't know why General Greiva had specified this place as the planet to unite the seven Overshields, but it didn't really matter to him. All he had to do was get the seven Precursor Artifacts in one place so that the Warlord of Annihilation could select a prized warrior to act as the mighty wielder of the Overshields, becoming invincible and able to destroy the human race.
He didn't know if the demons had gotten wise to their plan or not, but the fact that they were following Artras's forces could not be good. For now though, he had to deal with more pressing matters, and that meant dealing with the human forces here.
Baros glanced back down at the healing cut on his shoulder. He vowed that someday he would make very one of those demons bleed a thousand-fold for what they did to him. Until that time, he would remain patient, and he would be waiting.
Kerian: To get a couple of things cleared up, I'll explain some details now that this is over; basically, the Covenant War has been over for 10 years, and a new group of Spartans (SPARTAN-IIIs named after the supposedly non-existent group that were wiped out on Onyx) has been created specifically to deal with rebellion and to ensure that marines can have backup while recovering from the long war. However, Covenant Loyalists, Elites sent out on a mission to retrieve Precursor Artifacts and arrived back to see their Covenant in ruins (and now are hell-bent on revenge), have decided to finish the job where the first Covenant left off. Called Loyalists by free Elites (Pro-Covenant Seperatists) and by the UNSC, this Second Covenant has two missions: 1. Retrieve seven legendary Precursor Artifacts called the Overshields, and 2. Wipe out all of human life and any Elite that is remotely considered Seperatist.
Now that I've cleared that up, I hope you guys enjoyed this! This is probably one of several short stories I will make to promote this series (I recently got an Xbox 360 and Halo 3: Hopefully I will get enough materials to make this Machinima, Dark Rising, possible). Hope you enjoyed it! Me, out.