I lost the notes for Salvaging Rapture. Just assume that Big Brother kicked the squad's collective butts ^^.

Anywho, here's a new story. I'm sure that most Halo fans can tell where this is going.

*Warning* MASSIVE spoilers for the ending of Halo: Reach. Of course, I go a different way with it, but it's still pretty spoilerific.

August 30, 2552

It was finished.

The Covenant Cruiser menacing the last ship off of Reach had been destroyed. With the skies momentarily clear, the Pillar of Autumn prepared to cast off, ready to leave the last major fortress of humanity behind. Six, the last surviving member of Noble Team, was left on the docks, watching as the craft prepared to make a break for orbit.

That package. If it really was the key to humanity's salvation then all their sacrifices were not in vain. There was nothing left to do but take the Covenant invaders head on and kill as many as possible. Noble Six turned around, back to the Autumn, and began to walk away.

A Pelican dropship swooped in overhead and actually began to swoop in for a quick pick up. The airtight back door opened up. A member of the flight crew motioned for him to come aboard; Six's HUD identified him as a Lieutenant Frye.

"Get aboard!" the pilot's voice echoed through the Spartan's helmet.

"What are you doing, ma'am?" Six asked.

"Saving you, what does it look like? If you don't hurry up we're all going to die!"

Noble Six took a quick glance at the Pillar of Autumn. Could they even make it to the ship in time? They might as well risk it. Augmented Spartan reflexes allowed the super-soldier to both take the Kukri off of his fallen comrade and climb into the dropship in half the time it would take a standard human.

"We'll be cutting it kind of close." the pilot said. She closed the back hatch to prevent anyone from spilling out the back during acceleration. Both Six and Lieutenant Frye stumbled to the cockpit to observe the maneuver.

The pilot was taking the Pelican towards the kilometer-long cruiser at a speed and angle that would be considered reckless in even the most desperate combat situation imaginable. Her target was an aft hangar bay already filled to capacity with troopers and vehicles fleeing the abandoned planet.

"We're not going to make it!" Frye said.

"We'll make it." Six and the pilot both assured him in turn.

The Pelican skidded into the hangar just as the last of the disposable thrusters detached from the hull of the cruiser. Their antics clipped the paint of several warthogs and sent some marines scattering for cover.

A cheer broke out amongst the crew of the hanger, starting with the marines who were still picking themselves off the floor.

Noble Six, Captain Carol Rawley, and her flight crew had just become the last group of humans to escape the surface of Reach. There was reason to be thankful; reason to celebrate.

"Captain Keyes is going to want to know you're alive." Captain Rawley said.

"Yes, ma'am." Six said, and marched to the bridge at the nearest opportunity.

"Captain Keyes." Noble Six began. The entire system of Epsilon Eridani being a declared combat zone, saluting was discouraged despite being in an enclosed, secure ship.

"Lieutenant, my God, you made it." Keyes was inserting Halsey's package into a pedestal on the bridge of the ship. The repairs completed, the Autumn's AI construct appeared on top of the pedestal, a purplish network of hard light. It took the appearance of a woman strikingly similar to Doctor Halsey.

"That tickles."

Captain Keyes nodded. "Hello Cortana, your upgrades are complete."

Cortana seemed to stretch and flex as the upgrades booted up. She turned to Noble Six. "I suppose I have you to thank for this. Good kid. I suppose this package'll help with my processing power. There is some interesting data in here at the very least."

"We will be picking up one final asset in orbit. After that, we will make a random jump in accordance with Cole Protocol."

"Aye aye, Captain." Cortana said.

"Six, I need you to stay on guard. Be prepared for possible Covenant boarding actions." Keyes said.

"Yes, sir."

The Pillar of Autumn was nearly in orbit, now. The bridge windows played host to a scene of devastation as Covenant cruisers and assault carriers began the final sweep of the planet.

Jun was still down there, somewhere. Could he and Halsey possibly hope to survive for more than a couple days? Maybe they could return to Reach after the fighting was over and look for survivors.

Six settled in and awaited the operation to retrieve these orbital assets, whatever they may be.

I'm going for more of a beige, laconic prose this time. It is less influenced by writer's block!