Disclaimer: Both Halo and Star Wars franchises do not belong to me. The Halo series belongs to Bungie, or 343 Industries which Bungie created to take care of the Halo franchise. Star Wars belongs to Lucasarts in turn. Any other Franchise I will add to this story will also not be made by me, and I will acknowledge them in turn.
'Exitus acta Probat' - 'The Outcome proves the Deed'
November 10, 2584
The room was dominated by shadows, with only a single light source to illuminate the room. It was a glowing orb of glass, containing a combination of natural and artificial gasses to create a pale blue light. Abstract symbols appeared then and again on the orb's surface, not unlike a Rorschach inkblot test, and the light emanating from the orb responded in kind, painting the walls with those abstract symbols. The orb itself was being held in mid air by the small antigravity device at the bottom of the orb, which hummed quietly as it hovered over the clean desk.
A man was sitting behind the table, alternating between reading a series of folders neatly arranged over his desk and typing data into a nearby electronic pad. His face varied was hidden in the darkness, with the orb's light illuminating only the folders in his hand. The man had just finished with his task when a beep began to emanate from his electronic pad. He pressed on one of the controls and spoke into the pad.
"Yes? Who is it?" the man replied, his voice calm and composed, though one could detect a certain amount of exhaustion in his voice.
"I am sorry to disturb you sir, but your meeting is due now. She's waiting by the array." The voice was vaguely artificial, but spoke in a smooth female tone which made the AI's voice nearly indistinguishable from a normal human.
The man nodded and thanked the AI. A triangular icon suddenly appeared on the pad, glowing light blue. He looked at the pad for a few seconds, evidently deep in thought, and pressed the icon.
It briefly glowed orange for a moment then disappeared all together. Immediately, the far side of the room was quickly illuminated by a blue light. The light began to coalesce into a kind of cylindrical shape, with a human form slowly starting to appear inside it. After a few seconds, the teleportation array reached it's apex, bathing the entire room in blue light, temporarily showing the man's face, before the light receded and darkness took it's proper place. The man looked at the aged woman and, through the light provided by the orb.
"Good evening Dr. Halsey, I'm glad you could join me."
She looked at him and replied "Only because you said it was a matter of extreme importance Rear Admiral. The Reach project is at a critical phase, that planet could thrive within the next 5 years, or be barren for the next 50."
The man nodded, "I know of the importance of this project for you Dr. Halsey, both for the Navy benefit and your own...personal, stake in it. However, the current situation we find ourselves currently in is far more urgent than anything that has to do with the Reach project. Or that of any other project currently attached to it's Terraformation."
The Admiral's intent was clear to both of them, as well as the implications of his words. The Reach Terraformation Project had been ongoing for 15 years as a collected effort by UNSC. Even with the leaps and bounds that Humanity gained with the integration of Forerunner technology, Reach was still in a delicate phase of it's reformation. Even with the planet's fate so uncertain, there were still many projects riding on the Terraformation's success. From the colonization of the planet, to military bases and orbital defense platforms, to research facilities and other, more clandestine, purposes. Much relied on Halsey's efforts, and the financial backing from nearly everyone involved vaguely amused him and, no doubt, the doctor as well. Men and women who once decried her Spartan project as inhumane and useless now threw ridiculous amounts of both wealth and personnel at her. Though he privately doubted that she disagreed with those men now. Her views concerning her Spartan project were quite well known.
"Interesting..." she replied, eyes deep in thought as she sat down on the seat provided for her. She bobbed up and down slightly as the chair compensated for her weight and increased power to the antigravity generators slightly. He thought she muttered something about 'Untuned energy capacitors' but quickly became silent. They both knew that there was no need to voice the consequences of his declaration, they understood it perfectly.
He pulled out three folders, different from those he was reading earlier and placed them on his desk. He placed the first one, colored green and decorated with yellow stripes around the edges and the Spartan-II symbol on it's front, towards Dr. Halsey.
"Now, to the first matter at hand. Grey Team has been recovered."
While he couldn't see her expression, protected as it was by the folder, he could see a barely noticeable shaking in her hands as she read the report of Grey Team's recovery. She completely ignored him for the next fifteen minutes, going through the files with surgical precision and an almost fanatical zeal as Lecter softly drummed a five pattern beat on his desk. After a while, she waved her hand at him, which could either be taken as a dismissal or a gesture to continue.
Lecter decided to think of it as the latter. "As you can see, this information must be kept secret for as long as we can possibly do so. The Great War and The Pacification War has taken it's tole on us all. A discovery of this magnitude insures that, for all real practical purposes, we may have to engage in another possibly Intergalactic war sometime in the next few decades, 25 or 30, if we're lucky. As it stands however, we are at an extreme disadvantage.
While our overall population has finally reached acceptable levels after all these years, we still have so much left to do. Another war, at this moment, would cripple us for decades to come if this unknown party would initiate first strike upon us. So, as of November 1, 2584, with the full support of HIGHCOM, UNSC, and the tentative approval of the Federation of Allied Species, I currently hold supreme authoritative powers in pursuit of Operation: BERMUDA. These powers can only be withdrawn with the full cooperation of both the UNSC and HIGHCOM. I have called you here doctor, because we will have need of your unique expertise. While I have no wish to force you doctor, I would suggest that you help us in our goals. As you have before."
Doctor Halsey looked up at him, having finished leafing through the report. Her eyes showed a mixture of incredulity, amusement, and annoyance. "For what, pray tell, do you require from me then Rear Admiral? I have been absent from the Galactic stage for more than 20 years. Though I can imagine what exactly you will ask of me and I will be more than happy to assist you in the creation of AIs, smart or otherwise."
Lecter kept quiet, finding nothing to gain from being baited so obviously. UNSC Tech has advanced so much since the Great War that a Smart AI that Halsey would be known for dealing with would be insufficient for the UNSC's needs now. What's more, Halsey knew exactly what he was asking for, next to her skills in AI programming. He passed her a second folder, this one with the ONI symbol on it and the words 'Tacitus' written in small letters on the front. Halsey gingerly took the folder, as if expecting it would burst to flame at any moment, and began reading the first few lines. Lecter kept a careful watch of her eyes, spotting the transition from guarded, to intrigued, then interested, then horror, then back to guarded.
She looked at him with such a disappointed look that plainly demanded he feel ashamed at himself for even suggesting Tacitus to be created. Lecter brought himself up to this full height as he sat on his chair. He was about to continue speaking when Halsey interrupted him.
"No. No debates. No arguments. To be perfectly frank admiral, I've heard them all. In fact, I've probably defended them all as well. I've written so many reports whose main point is 'For the greater good' that I could, quite realistically, justify anything you wish me to. You want me to assist in the creation of the first Reach-class Smart AI. Which, from the specifications of the Contender-class, speaks volumes about that conflict when such a pacifist race would resort to such ruthless means of achieving victory, and which also speaks volumes about us that we are willing to adopt it. For me, however, It would require only a conflict of equal desperation for me to even condone this...creation. From what I've seen though? Not enough, not nearly enough. This...project of yours, lacks proper ground to stand on, justification for it's existence. Yes, you believe there is an immediate threat to the safety of this galaxy. However you do not show me the specifics you have splashed in black ink. While all this talk of defending the galaxy is good and well, you have honestly shown me nothing to be convinced off."
She leaned on his table then, and began counting off from her fingers. "From this, I can draw several conclusions. The first would be that there is nothing coming, and you are blowing excessive hot air over what seems to be the unfortunate deaths of three Spartans. Or you are deliberately hiding things from me, for whatever reason. If it is the former, then I have really nothing to say to you. If it is the latter, then you will tell me what I do not know Admiral, or this conversation is over. I will not be part of such horrors again, nor will I buy our salvation with innocent blood until I know all, and I mean all, the facts. I have made my position to your predecessor quite clear Lecter, I will not be part of such monstrosities again unless the fate of our galaxy literally depends on it. No matter who stands with you or who you control, I will not compromise in this."
Lecter's face visibly twitched, as if controlling himself from throttling the woman. It was to be expected really, Halsey's reaction to the news, but it was no less irritating. He pulled out another folder, completely white with only a single, roughly triangular, symbol placed in the middle of it. After quickly disabling the security measures over the folder, he slid it over to the doctor.
That got her attention, and she immediately took the folder and read through the contents. She continued to read through it, her face becoming increasingly blank as she read. Lecter spoke 'Yes, I have deliberately hidden things from you. Which, in hindsight, seems rather useless considering who I'm talking to but, nonetheless, you will get what you want.
He stood up and began walking around the room, "Number one, the Sanghelli were the ones who alerted the Halcyon Class III Cruiser, Star of Midlothian about the Prowler. They did not come aboard the ship, only attempting to communicate with the ship and then calling for UNSC assistance. The Midlothian, as well as several other cruisers arrived there within a day or so, as they were scouting for potential planets to be Terraformed before they received the message. Luckily for us, the Midlothian's captain was intelligent enough not to directly communicate with HIGHCOM and used the Prowler's emergency communications device to contact us. After that, he managed to lock that entire UNSC Battle Group in an information blackout with any other element of the UNSC and had the patrol the surrounding area for any possible clues before Battle Group Zeta reached them."
"Number Two, despite having disappeared for over three decades, none of them show any sign of aging. That, alone, would not raise too many questions for us. Cryogenic sleep, Slipspace and many other options exist for answering those questions. However, there are faint traces of unknown radiation present on the entire ship, nor does cryo sleep explain why the onboard computers of both the Prowler and Grey Team's MJOLNIR Armor seem to still believe it's 2554."
"Number Three, the slashes across your Spartans' bodies were too intricate for energy swords. Slashes and stabs too precise and...elegant, for them to have come from a Sanghelli. However beyond that, the shape of the energy weapon is all wrong, it would have to be a single blade of energy, much more in line with traditional Human swords to have created that damage. Which either meant a particularly eccentric old man with too much time, money or both in his hands, or another party which we are not aware off"
"Number Four, the energy marks on the marks of the Prowler are inconsistent with Covenant plasma damage, from during the Great War or now, under the scientific advancements made by the Federation. They seem weaker, but much more precise than the Plasma that the Federation races use. Also, considering the fact that the Prowler's stealth abilities, we must also assume that this unknown party has means of detecting stealth technology."
Halsey was quiet. Her hands leafed through the folder with economic force, looking through design schematics and data collected from Forerunner information banks. "So, I suppose you wish to create Tacitus because of our current difficulties in Forerunner technology?"
"Yes." Lecter replied simply. No words need be said beyond that. The limitations that were implemented on Forerunner technology was only really apparent upon discovery of their Warships. While every other tech found on deposits round the galaxy were accessed with little to no trouble, the ones explicitly used for warfare were denied to Humanity. Which, considering what the security defenses did to the Federation when they found their own cache, was quite good luck.
Not to say that could not be analyzed. Reverse engineering of recovered Forerunner tech had catapulted Humanity's technology many times over. However the weapons of those who came before, were still out of their grasp. It was hypothesized that an AI based on Forerunner tech could shed light onto why exactly the weapons were under lock down, hence the need for Tacitus, or at least one of the needs.
Dr. Halsey looked at the designs "I've often wondered why, from what we learned of their last days, why they only sent one Contender to fight the Flood, and one Contender to fight it's brother. Wouldn't sending more than one be the more logical choice? It certainly wasn't because of their resources, they could afford to build another Contender right after the Original's defection didn't they? This...this answers many questions..."
She looked at Lecter then, "I believe that I can create this. If the information in that...folder is true." as she motioned to the white folder on her desk. "However considering the Federation accepts you being in control of ONI, I can assume they know of this as well? I can also hope that no one else knows of this?"
"Yes." he replied. "The UNSC Battle Group is currently under ONI's custody. I requested, in person, that my counterpart in the Federation knows of this situation. As it is, they have sworn themselves to secrecy, as have the Federation Battle Group. But...that is not all I have to ask of you."
Lecter took out a folder from his desk, with the symbol of a Bird of Prey with it's wings spread up in the air, with an energy sword on it's left talon and an assault rifle on it's right. Dr Halsey took one look at the folder's title and gave Lecter a look that could have glassed Reach all over again. From the rumors of what Dr. Halsey did when HIGHCOM requested her, he decided to count himself lucky. She looked at him straight for 10 seconds and, with the finality of a Plasma round to the skull "No."
Lecter prepared visibly prepared himself "Doctor, as much as I know how you dislike the notion of the Spartan-IV program, the discovery of Grey Team has changed everything. We no longer need the Spartans to clean up insurrections who believe that genocide upon the former Covenant Races is acceptable, or to move them against the Sanghelli, Jirlhanae or the other races. We need them for this. If we are right, and another civilization is out there, then we must be prepared for another war. We know next to nothing about this civilization, whether they will cooperate with us or desire our deaths, but the deaths of our Spartans do not bode well. We must be prepared that they would kill us as readily as the Covenant did, believing anything else would be tantamount to suicide."
At this point, all semblance of control left Halsey as she stood up and began lecturing Lecter like a mother would lecture her child. "I will NOT allow any more children to die for us Admiral. No more. Our Fleet is more than capable of protecting us now. The modifications to all existing UNSC ships have allowed us to protect what we currently have. The Archangel Program would put our fleet to the same level as the Covenant fleet before. The Necropolis-Class Cruiser already in production proves that the idea around the new fleet is sound. The Spartan Program would take decades to complete. The OBELISK Class will be in production within a Year, which, judging from what I've seen of the design, would mean anything following that would be more than capable of defending us. We would have hundreds, maybe even thousands of those ships by the end of the Spartan program, considering our current production capability, and the likelihood of finding and constructing our own Dyson Spheres, that number would likely be conservative. You do not need the Spartans."
"Perhaps, but the additions of the Spartans would not have any negative effects to BERMUDA, in the contrary actually. You can feel it as well as I do, can't you Halsey? The resentment. The chaos that practically seethes in the air from our worlds? It is minuscule for now, but it would only increase over time. We've had to redirect funds into civilian projects for BERMUDA and, quite frankly, the civilians are not pleased. But they are sober for now, soon they will thirst for blood. The Federation's blood. A conflict could very well erupt before the Envoy drones even reach the destination! The addition of the Spartans to BERMUDA would insure that the citizens be pacified. We also hope that the addition of the Sanghelli to the program, and of Humans to the Sanghelli Elite programs, be the first step to insure unity. As it is, I'm quite thankful the rebels haven't caused any trouble for us lately."
"Still, if unity is all that you are after then why not the use of androids? Use them to unite the civilian populace if you want, the Spartan's combat aptitude would make it as though there was no difference. Considering our technology, that should be simple enough."
"Perhaps." Lecter conceded "The thought has crossed our minds before. But imagine what would happen should they figure out we lied to them about the Spartans. They have accepted the Spartans are flesh and blood, though they continuously deceive themselves over the MIA files. They believe the Spartans are the best humanity has to offer and they are right. If the news got out that they were robots they would demand an explanation right before portions of our Fleet go and commit bombing runs on Federation worlds! It is too risky, they must be human."
"It is also a risk of what would happen should anyone realize we kidnap children and train them to be killing machines. If anyone were to come across those files the public outcry would be incredible, and the drop of morale more so."
"Do not worry about the control of our secrets doctor, I can assure you that we have that under our control very nicely. But my point still stands, they would be Gods of War, and a symbol to both the Federation and Humanity that we will not accept Genocide lightly. That folder proves that it is a distinct possibility. Now, will you help us with the Spartan program as well?"
Halsey gave a frustrated sigh. "One last question Lecter. If we do find out that this civilization is both willing and able to wipe us off the face of the universe, what would you do?"
Lecter answered without hesitation. "Let the public know about it in such a way that the war seems inevitable. The ensuing panic and outrage of another war would cause more power to be handed over to the UNSC to insure a swift end to any hostilities before it happens. We will then do what is necessary doctor. As we always have."
Halsey's face was impassive. She was reading through all the folders, not bothering to look Lecter in the eye as she spoke. "Indeed. You would unite all of us at the expense of this other Civilization then Lecter?"
The man shrugged "I would not want to commit genocide for no real purpose, it would be a useless endeavor. But neither will I hesitate if the price of unity demands it. It will all really depend upon what the Envoys will find, all of this is still in the formulation stage. We are analyzing all possibilities, from an alliance to a war of extermination."
Halsey stood up then, leaving the files on the table. "How would that make us any better than Truth, Mercy or Regret? They sought to burn an entire civilization that was a threat to their unity and peace at the expense of those who were in their way? You would become exactly like them Lecter."
"Did I ever deny I was doctor?"
She looked at him for a few moments before walking towards the teleportation array. "The limited population we currently have will mean that the number of Spartans candidates would likely be lower than the Spartan-IIs. However the improved medical procedures should insure a more than 95% success rate."
"Glad to hear it." Lecter returned to the information on his desk, looking through files and information transcripts from agents in the field. Halsey stopped at the array, her hand over the holographic activation panel."
"As a matter of curiosity, Admiral. This machine they are evidently constructing, the information my Spartans died to transmit. What is it's code name?"
Lecter smiled briefly as he continued to work. "The Death Star doctor. We know next to nothing about it besides that but I'm sure that you can hypothesize what it would do from the name itself."
The doctor stood there for a moment, then disappeared in a flash of blue light. Illuminating the room for a second and then vanishing.
The Echelon series
The decision for the Echelon series was a direct result of the Pacification War, mainly due to increased conflict around Human controlled space. After the Aurora Incident, demand for an effective combat warship grew, culminating into what would be called the Echelon series. Derived from scavenged Forerunner and Covenant technology, the Echelon series was designed to augment the combat capabilities of existing UNSC warships. By November 2555, the Forerunner-based technologies would create the Echelon II-Class and in May 2557, the Echelon III-Class Vessels.
The Echelon Class II was an effort by the UNSC to create Warships that could go one-on-one against Sanghelli or Jirilhanae warships. The first effort would be upgrading every existing warship that had survived the Great War with technological improvements designed to increase the warship's battle capability. Included in these upgrades would be an Artificial Gravity generator, augmented armor capable of withstanding a plasma torpedo, the ability to perform micro-Slipspace jumps due to an improved slipspace drive, and 17 other more minor adjustments. The most important of them all however, would be the inclusion of an onboard Shield Generator, derived from technologies taken from Installation 05. However, the Shield Generators were vastly inferior to Sanghelli and Jirilhanae technology, often being nothing more than a mild inconvenience when tested using Sanghelli Plasma Torpedoes. The shield is potent enough, that a direct hit will negate enough energy that the ship will be allowed to escape, though with significant structural and electronic damage.
With the rediscovery of the Onyx Shield World on October 2556, and the naval shipyards within, work on the Echelon III-Class began. Unfortunately for the program, a larger focus was put on the Archangel Project, and work on Echelon was slow. On March 2557, the first Necropolis-class cruiser was built on the Onyx shipyards and mass production of the Necropolis began. With the conclusion of the NECROPOLIS program, more effort was put into the Echelon III program. By this point however, the status of the program had changed. Echelon III would be formed with a mind on supplementing the new Necropolis Class Battlecruisers and any succeeding naval warship.
By the project's completion on May, the Echelon III had several distinct advantages to it's earlier cousin. The first would be a total redesign of the ship's Shield Generators, in light with recent discoveries on the Onyx shield world. The new design would enable a Marathon-Class Cruiser to withstand a little more than a single Plasma Torpedo or 2 MAC rounds, thus closing the gap with Sanghelli shield technology to reasonable levels. Along with this breakthrough is the addition of a point defense laser system to counter Fighters, and a Long Range Camera Laser system, which would be the laser equivalent of the MAC system already in use. These, along with other improvements, finally closed the gap between Great War-era Sanghelli Fleet and the UNSC Fleet.
Though progress on the Echelon series has been indefinitely halted, due to efforts of the Archangel Program, the Echelon series has still left it's mark on the UNSC fleet. The Echelon Classes, at present, holds more than 78% of the UNSC fleet, protecting it's colonies against Kig-Yar pirates or Insurrectionist forces against the Government. Though somewhat aged at this point, in both maintenance and technology, the Echelon class continues to protect numerous UNSC colonies across UNSC controlled space, and the UNSC continues to produce them to this day.
The idea for this story came to me by way of playing Halo Reach just a bit too much (Legendary while going solo is a bitch). Mainly, it was during the actual glassing of Reach and the UNSC's efforts to evacuate the survivors, specifically when the Jirilhanae ship fired on the escaping civilians. I thought 'How likely would peace be after the Human Covenant war?'
According to the Halo wikia, there were 23 Billion human lives lost during the war. Granted, most of the people who's loved ones died are dead themselves, but there's still the fact that there will be people resentful at the Covenant for that. I personally doubt that humanity would really be at peace with the remainder of the Covenant species after so many have died, at least for the first few decades or so. At the very least, children who survived their own home worlds being glassed would never forgive the Sanghelli who lead them for most of the war. Or the Prophets who demanded Humanity's extinction. Or the Kig-Yar or Unggoy who actively fed on the dead. No way, and some of them would go into the military. Some of them would become Generals and Admirals. Even if a fraction would forgive the Covenant, it's a given there would be those who wouldn't. Though the entirety of the Prophets being hunted to extinction would help matters with everyone involved, it is unlikely that that would be enough.
Then there's the issue of Forerunner technology. The coordinates at Onyx would still be hidden somewhere within ONI, considering it's importance as the Spartan-III training ground, so the UNSC would eventually find it again. If the Shield World in Halo Wars was any suggestion, there's a good chance that there would be weapons, or weapon schematics hidden inside the Onyx Installation. Considering that the Forerunners could use 'Premature Stellar Collapse' as a readily available tactic against the Flood and were stopped only because of ethical concerns, at least in the beginning. Yeah, you could expect some truly horrific weapons.
As for why Star Wars exactly, I wanted a series that would present a challenge to Forerunner technology (which all the races would undoubtedly try to scavenge), yet not curb stomp them into oblivion. According to the Forerunner's Technological Achievement Tiers, Star Wars as a whole would stand somewhere in between Tier 1 or 2 maybe. Tier 1 being Forerunner level and Tier 2 being Covenant. This would, roughly, make for some interesting conflict.
Concerning crossoverness, I am currently undecided if I will add more franchises into the mix. While there are some whom I would be extremely excited to include, there also have to fit in with the general theme of the story. Following that line of thought, anything related to Fantasy is out by default.
So, that's basically it. Please write polite reviews politely. First fan fic so there's likely to be grammatical errors that some might pick up that I haven't. Note also that there's likely to be very few characters from the Halo series itself showing up. Most are either lost in space (M.C and Cortana) or Dead (Johnson and Miranda Keyes). Rest assured though that the Arbiter will show up...eventually...maybe...still unsure about Sanghelli life span to be certain...yeah.
Finally, yes I know I said finally in the last paragraph don't bugger me about it, If I could get someone to beta read my stuff before I send it out, it would be greatly appreciated. I'm new here, so I don't know that many people. Which is code word for 'I'm a lonely bastard, help needed.'
Finally got around to editing this chapter. While I'm somewhat pleased that I managed to keep things relatively same, I've made a few changes. Matters about the Obelisk and Mausoleum class has been replaced with the Archangel Program, as I had only a vague understanding on how the new gen ships would worked at the time. The Mausoleum class was supposed to be a Cruiser like ship, but eventually got phased out when it's purpose got merged with what would be the Monolith-class Superdreadnought, which mixes the purpose of both of them.
I also added that note that the UNSC were continuing to build the Echelon series since it seemed to say that work on them ceased entirely. All in all, not much change. Though I'm weirded out as to why, exactly, Halsey's name kept disappearing when I updated it originally. Weird.