Disclaimer/A.N.: Spartan Ninja: I do not own Halo or anything that is Halo related. It is owned by Bungie and Microsoft. I do have copies of several Halo games. Okay, for those of you have read my profile, which isn't many, I am a Halo fan. Also, those who've seen my favorite stories know I'm into romances. So I have decided to write a story about one of the most obvious, yet underwritten, couples of the Halo universe. The Chief and Cortana. Now, before you run away, saying you don't want a romance, there will still be alien butt kicking in this story, but that'll happen later after some important events. Those of you who have been reading my other multi-chapter story "He Must Choose", I apologize for not updating but I've lacked time to write and this has been dieing to come out. Now, on with the story.
0117 hours, January 17, 2559 (Military Calendar) / Uncharted System, Aboard remains of the UNSC Forward Unto Dawn
Five years. It had been five long years since it all ended. The Flood, the Covenant, it was all over. The fight had been finished. And it was all thanks to him.
The lights of the holotank in the cryo chamber flickered on, revealing the figure of a young woman. Cortana, if she remembered correctly. Five years of solitude in the dead of space wreaked havoc on the systems of an A.I., causing their systems to slowly degenerate as time went on. Especially for an A.I. like Cortana, who was used to always having something, or someone, to occupy her time. But now she had nothing.
The woman on the glowing pedestal turned to face the only activated cryo chamber in the room. In the casket was the last of a race of super soldiers. Master Chief Petty Officer Spartan John-117. He alone had fought legions of Insurrectionist, Covenant, and Flood soldiers alike; he destroyed Alpha Halo; defeated the Covenant and the Gravemind on the Ark; and saved humanity from falling into the darkness of death. But now he is frozen, trapped in an eternal icy slumber until he is rescued, or the remaining power in the ship was drained. Cortana hoped for the former, as to not lose the person closest to her.
She reached from her pedestal to try to touch the Chief, but was unable to touch him, being only a programming. No matter how many times she has wished otherwise, that was what she was. But with all that's happened to her it was easy to forget. She stood by the Chief through the greatest conflict of human history, the Human-Covenant War. They may not have spent much time together compared to his entire career, but when she chose him on Reach, they fast friends. Together they survived events of Reach, Alpha Halo, the First Battle of Earth, Delta Halo, and the end of the Battle of the Ark. During these events they developed a close friendship, a bond if you will. And for Cortana it went even further.
The A.I. pulled her hand back, knowing that he was out of her reach, both physically and mentally. She wasn't human; she would never be more then a close friend to him. And now it may be the end of that as well. She had been alive for over seven years now, the average lifespan of an A.I. before it enters rampancy. She was now at the point where she would have to be shut down for good. But she was alone, no one could do it, and the Chief needed her. He has only been able to survive because of the cryo pod. But after running for nearly six years on a damaged ship with little power to begin with, it was only a matter of time before it ran out. The Chief would then defrost, and would die either from the improper thaw, or from the lack of supplies on the ship.
"I never really liked ships," she remembered him saying once. "Your life on a ship depends on a few in the bridge." Now was no different, except their lives relied on a few in another ship. But in all these years Cortana never detected a ship nearby, friend or foe. Of course humanity would be to busy rebuilding on Earth and the surviving colonies, the Sangheili would be doing the same after the Covenant attempted to eradicate them, and the Covenant was doing God-knows-what without a leader.
Falling into despair, Cortana's hologram sat down on the holotank, pulling her knees to her chin and looking down. "So this is how it'll end," she thought. "Floating through the void of space until the power gives way." Her hologram sighed. "Oh if only I could hear you one last time Chief. I guess then I could go in peace."
She looked up at the pod again. She had thought on so many occasions on releasing him from his icy prison so they could talk again, she needed him. But he probably didn't mean that when he said, "Wake me, when you need me."
She left the holotak to once again checked the comm channels for signals from another ship. None. She went back to the holotank. ".738 seconds," she thought. "Damn I get slower every time I check." She sat there for a few minutes, which felt like eons to the A.I. The torture of the Gravemind was nothing compared to the pain she felt out here, alone.
Suddenly, there was a sound. Not one of the static from the comm or the creaking of the ships metal or humming from the cryo pod, but one that sounded human. Cortana left the holopad yet again to check the comm. It toof about half a second before she found it. On the C band radio waves a message could be heard.
"This is Commander Tyler Hood of the UNSC New York responding to the distress beacon of unknown vessel. If there is there is anyone on board, please respond," The voice said.
"Hood, Hood, why does that sound so familiar," was what went through Cortana's electronics. Time had really messed up her memory core. Cortana hurried to respond to the transmission. After finally getting the comm ready to send, she sent her response. "This is UNSC A.I. CTN 0452-9. We have a single soldier alive on board. Request immediate extraction."
It took several moments for a response to come. "Thank you Miss for informing us. Glad to know our trip wasn't in vain. We will send a pelican and extraction team to get you and your soldier out of their. ETA is about 20 minutes. Over and out."
Relief filled Cortana's senses. Or would if she had any. After what felt like millenia she was getting the Chief and herself back home. Now that she had made contact with humans she needed crack open the Chief's cryo pod. Going through procedure she started to thaw him out. After bringing him back to the land of the living, she opened the casket. Pouring out of the pod came the frosty steam of defrosting ice. The only sounds that could be heard was the mist condensing and… breathing? Yes breathing! The Chief was defrosted and alive.
Cortana waited in anticipation to finally see her John walk out of the cryo pod. "When did he become my John?" she questioned herself. Her hologram manifested itself once again in the holotank so that she was the first thing the Chief saw. She wanted to give him a warm welcome.
After moment of waiting she saw movement coming from the pod. Followed by the breathing becoming louder. And finally she heard him speak. "Groan." Well, sort of.
"Welcome back Chief," Cortana said in her playful tone. "I hope you enjoyed your beauty rest."
He didn't respond. He just stepped out, or more precisely, floated out of the cryo pod towards Cortana. When he got into arms reach of the holotank he grabbed hold as to not drift away. "Cortana, what's the situation," he said flatly.
"Same old Chief. Always getting right down to buisness," she said teasingly. When he made no move to reply she decided to answer his question. "Their here Chief."
"Who's here," he said, an undertone of alarm in his voice. He moved to glide to his Battle Rifle, but what Cortana said next stopped him.
"No Chief, it's not the Covenant, or the Flood. We're being rescued." That stopped the Chief in his tracks.
"How long have we been out here?" he asked as he turned to face her again.
"If my internal calender is correct, almost six years." Silence filled the room. Cortana wished she could see his reaction, but his armor on, all she saw was her hologram's reflection in his visor.
Then a thump broke the silence, reverberating throughout the ship. It was followed by the many smaller thumps. "Seems that company has arrived. Lets meet up with them and get out of here," Cortana said.
"Right," was the Chief's response. He went to yank Cortana's chip from the holotank, and in the time it took for him to grab it, Cortana poured herself back into her portable home. He pulled the chip out of the tank and inserted it into the back of his helmet. As usual when he did this, he felt as if ice cold mercury was being poured onto his brain. But strangely, it didn't feel as cold as usual. He'd normally ignore it, thinking he was just used to it after inserting her chip into his head so many times, but this time it was definitely warmer. Knowing this, he started to worry about Cortana. He asked, "Are you okay Cortana?"
It took her a moment to respond, bringing up little red flags everywhere in the Chief's mind. "Yeah, I'm fine," she finally responded in a slightly pained voice. He turned on his helmet lights and started pushing off the bulkheads to find the rescue party.
He knew she was lying. She was never slow before except right after the Halo events, but she'd fixed that. And the only time she showed pain was during those visions of her with the Gravemind. But after all these years she should have recovered. This must've been something different. Now that he remembered it, it had been over seven years since she was made, meaning that she was going through rampancy now. That means that she was possibly a danger to those around her. She would have to be shut down when they got back to Earth or whatever planet they would be headed for when they were rescued. But he knew she wouldn't hurt anyone, at least not willingly. He couldn't stand the thought of losing her. After all the challenges they had faced and overcame together, they would be seperated once again. But this time, it'd be for good.
No. He wouldn't let it happen. They'd been through to much for it to end like that. He went to hell and back just to save her from the Flood and Gravemind and he'd gladly do it again. Sure he said he went back to get her for the index, but deep down, he knew that he would've gone any way. She was his best friend and more. She was the one person he could trust to have his back for him. He felt at ease when she was near him. And she was the last person he had.
The Spartan II project and the Human-Covenant War had taken so much from him. First he lost his family when he was abducted. Then he lost half of his brothers and sisters to the augmentation process. Then more then half of them died on Reach. When he got back to Earth all he had was Fred, Will, and Linda. He hadn't heard of them since thei return. Halsey had taken Kelly to God-knows-where and Grey Team was still behind the lines when he was on Earth. The rest were dead. Captain J. Keyes, Commander Miranda Keyes, Avery Johnson, and so many others were gone. He'd be damned if he let her go.
Continueing through the ship, the sound of boots on metal became louder. How they were walking in zero-gravity was probably some kind of new magnet technology. Soon he could here chatter over the comm channels.
"You guys find him yet?" a male voice asked.
"Negative," replied another.
"Nothing here," said a female voice.
"Did anyone check cryo?" the first voice asked.
"Yeah, nothing here," said a fourth voice. "It's still cold though. Must've been thawed out a couple of minutes ago."
"Roger that," the first voice said. "Keep looking, we'll find him."
"Maybe we should wait," Cortana said in his helmet. "They'll never find us this way. The Chief just stopped, opting for a silent agreement. He grabbing onto a bulkhead he planted his feet firmly on the ground. His other hand went towards his BR, just in case.
They floated there while the footsteps grew louder. Soon there was a light coming from down one of the halls. It grew closer and soon enough the Chief could see the outline of an ODST in his headlight. Soon voices could be heard over comm again.
"Guys, I've found him," the female voice said. "He's near the reactors."
"Roger that Cass, meet us at the Pelican. Over and out," the first guy finished.
The ODST known as Cass turned to look up at the Spartan. His shear size was intimidating alone. He was over two meters tall and the Mjolnir armor only made him look even bigger. That with the knowledge of him spending most of his life fighting the Covenant made one wonder if he was really human. She opened up a comm channel with the Chief. In a slightly shaky voice she said, "Follow me," and started walking in the direction she came. The Chief soon followed, pushing off from the floor to bulkhead to bulkhead. After what seemed like hours walking through the corridors, they reached the Pelican with three other ODSTs waiting by the back.
"It took you long enough," one of them said.
"Oh shut up Jake," Cass responded. "We have what we came for." With that the Chief drifted into sight of the Helljumpers. They looked up and if their faces could be seen one wold see them stricken with awe and amazement. Before them stood, or rather floated, a living legend.
"Officer on deck," the one known as Jake said has he brought his hand to his head in a salute. The others followed.
"I think you mean off deck," one of the others said, pointing out the fact that the Chief was floating.
"Stow it Jesse," said Jake. With that said soldier fell silent.
"At ease," the Chief said, returning the salute.
"It's an honor to meet Master Chief," Jake said, reaching out his hand to shake the Chief's. The Chief returned the gesture, taking his hand in his and giving it a firm shake, then let go. "I'm Jake, this here is Jesse, the squad jokester," he said, motioning to said ODST to his right. "The soldier that brought you here is Cass, and the silent one here is Rick." He motioned to his left at the last ODST. "Now that the formalities are taken care of, lets go." With that Jake turned to enter the rear of the Pelican, followed by Jesse and Rick and finally Cass. The Chief soon followed, floating into the Pelican.
"We've got him Adler, get us back to the ship," Jake said over the comm. The five soldiers stapped on the harnesses as they prepared to take off. Things quickly got quiet in the dropship, even when the Pelican was moving. The only sound that could be heard was the humming of the engines. The Chief's mind once again drifted to the topic of Cortana. Since they were found by the ODSTs, she hadn't said a word. Cortana always had something to say, whether it was information for a battle or just ease the tension, she was never quiet for long.
He opened up his private channel with Cortana. "Hey Cortana, are you okay?"
"Hm? Yeah, I'm just fine Chief," she said slowly in a depressed tone..
"No you're not," He said in a firm voice. "You aren't acting like your smart and witty self. I can tell that something is up. Now please tell me what's wrong."
He heard her sigh in defeat, knowing there's no way out of this. "It's just-," she started, then stopped to think. "It's just that, I'm old now. I'm past the life expectancy of an A.I. and I'm starting to go through rampancy. As soon as that's found out I'll be shut down for good." She stopped again in thought. "I don't want that to happen. I've wasted most of my life aboard that wreck of a ship, waiting for us to be resued, but now that we're out… I don't want to die. Chief, I-I-I-," and with that she broke down crying. It hurt him to hear his partner and closest friend crying like that. He knew he had to do something, so he did the only thing he could do.
"Cortana, Cortana," he said, trying to calm her down. "It's okay. I won't let you go. I will find a way to get you out of this mess, even if it costs me my life. It's my promise to you. And you know me. When I make a promise…"
Ccortana stopped her crying at hearing the Chief make his promise for her. "You keep it," she finished for him. "Thank you Chief. For everything." She wanted to say more, but the voice of the pilot interupted her.
"This is your pilot speaking. ETA to the ship is about five minutes. Prepare for landing and re-introducton to gravity."
This was the moment both the Chief and Cortana anticipated and dreaded. They would finally be re-united with their people, but the Chief would have to fight again to save Cortana.
End of Chapter
Spartan Ninja: So, what did you guys think? Love it, hate it, tell me how you feel. I want you all to enjoy this story, but I need reviews. Please do so by pressing the big white and green button at the bottom of the page. I've done my best in making sure the info here matches up with real Halo info, but if there are any mistakes, feel free to tell me. I am also looking for a better title for the story. If you have any ideas, put them in your reviews, I will put them all into consideration. Thank you for reading, and please review.