Author's Note: This is it, the finale! Granted, it's mostly the tying up of loose ends, but its still worth a look. Thanks again to everyone who's held in so far, and once again, I apologize for the long delay. It's been a busy summer. Anyway, enjoy the endings!
Chapter 18: Homeward Bound
There was, needless to say, a great deal to discuss once the Master Chief and company returned to Coruscant. Granted, all on board the Forerunner vessel agreed that going into any real details regarding the Flood at that point would be unwise, so instead they simply told the brass what they wanted to hear: Revan was dead, and the Sith and Covenant had lost.
With the news that Revan was dead and that his armada had been decimated, the remnants of the Sith began to turn on one another, as had been rightly predicted. The Republic reasoned that by the time they had rejuvenated themselves, the Sith would have already completely destroyed one another, making re-taking the planets they had lost in the war a fairly easy endeavor, assuming of course that those planets had not forsaken the Republic in response to the Republic failing to protect them from the Sith…
And as it was, rejuvenation was most certainly needed. The cost of the last battle alone had been astronomically high: the Republic had lost numerous vessels in the space battle, but their ground casualties were far worse. The Republic's planetary forces had been almost completely annihilated by the Sith and Covenant hordes, with the surviving Republic soldiers numbering in just the hundreds. And though they had evacuated as many civilians as they could, hundreds if not thousands of innocent lives had still been lost in the devastating battle, including numerous senators and the Chancellor himself. And at least half of the cityscape was in ruins, if not more. Between it all, it did not feel like a victory.
Still, the only direction left to go was forward, and now that their worst enemies had been beaten back, the Republic had nothing left to fear, and very little left to lose. And so they immediately set about trying to repair that which could be repaired, those who had been evacuated returned to their devastated planet to help rebuild as well, and almost as soon as something resembling the old Senate building had been built to serve as a temporary replacement, elections for the new Supreme Chancellor were soon underway. The scars were undeniably deep, but the healing had still begun nevertheless…
As for the Jedi Order, their temple had been spared complete and utter destruction, and their most important instructors had all survived, along with the younglings, but very few other Jedi, including those from Daemon's generation, remained. Nevertheless, the Jedi Order understood that they had averted complete destruction, and for that they were grateful, knowing that the Republic that they so proudly served had suffered far worse than they had. Because crime would no doubt run rampant on Coruscant in the wake of the devastation, the Jedi elected to spend most of their time outside of rebuilding on keeping the crime level to a bare minimum. The Republic forces as they were where no longer in any condition to keep fighting…
And as for the UNSC, the Pillar of Autumn had been lost, and the legendary Captain Keyes had gone down with it. What few UNSC survivors there were held a silent funeral for him and the others who had been lost, burying the good captain with all of the honors befitting an officer of his rank and then some. Master Chief personally led the seven-gun salute that was fired off in his memory, having been left the most scarred by Keye's sacrifice. The Chief knew that he would never again see his captain bark out orders, or maintain his iron-clad resolve in the face of impossible odds, or even just get to hear his hard, no-nonsense voice that he had grown just a little accustomed to. And there was something very depressing about all of that. In some ways, it was like he had lost his father all over again, or, at the very least, a very good mentor…
And there were others mourned besides. The once proud SPARTAN Noble Team was now down to but half of its members, and only one charter member still remained. As Jun and Emile's bodies had been destroyed and Carter's had been left behind on Reach, the only way to honor the three SPARTANS was a modest display of their helmets that was the centerpiece of a monument erected to honor the fallen.
Once the UNSC funeral was done and Captain Keyes was laid to rest among his fellow fallen marines in Coruscant's own hall of heroes, the UNSC remnants, with Kat taking command by way of having the highest rank, discussed things with both the senate and the Jedi Council. It was agreed that the UNSC had been a welcome ally, but as both the Republic and the Jedi had been so utterly devastated, there was also little they could do in the way of offering them support in their own continuing war with the Covenant. Kat suggested that they locate and use the Star Forge as a game-changer, but the Jedi and Senate both dismissed this suggestion, ruling both the Star Forge and any quest to locate and use it to be far too dangerous, with the Jedi also pointing out how as an item of the Dark Side, the Star Forge corrupted all who used it, force-sensitive or not. Furious, but nevertheless forced to agree, Kat consented, reasoning that the destruction of an entire Covenant armada was a turnaround enough. As it was, Kat had other, more personal concerns as well…
Noble Six had managed to survive the loss of his arm, and now a prosthetic replaced it. He had now lost both of the hands he had been born with, with machinery in their place. There was something rather depressing about that, but at the same time, Kat couldn't help but feel even closer to Six now they had both been so physically scarred by the war, both having lost an arm each…
Kat had checked up on Noble Six frequently, making sure that he was recuperating well. During one of the times she had been in the medical bay to check on him, she had seen that Jorge was there as well, and he had also been watching Noble Six.
"First his hand, now an arm. I wonder if anything will be left of poor Six when all is said and done…"
Kat found herself hit surprisingly hard by that. She couldn't bear to see the man she loved lose anymore of himself. She needed him, she realized, and not just because they and Jorge were the only surviving members of Noble Team. No, she needed him for more than that. And yes, she did love him. She could admit that fully now.
It was later when Noble Six was finally up and about again did Kat choose to confront him fully. He was outside of his armor, bare-chested, examining his prosthetic arm in a mirror. As Kat watched him she found that for all of her tactical brilliance in battle, she had no idea what to say to him. But Six was the first one to speak up:
"I can still use the Force you know…the mechanical hands don't change that…"
Kat was taken by surprise, but quickly composed herself as she gave her response.
"That's…good to know"
Noble Six turned to face Kat again and she was once again face-to-face with his true face. Not a helmet. She'd already seen it several times, but not this close. Not since Reach…
Reach, it seemed like years ago after all that had happened recently. Noble Six advanced closer to her.
"Kat, listen…I…I know that things have been so chaotic right now, not just with all that's been going on with the war, but with us as well, and…" Noble Six trailed off. Kat could see that the reassuring smile he'd first worn, and the sternness and determination that had been on his face on Reach, had both completely disappeared, replaced instead by uncertainty that she knew could only be one thing. Finally, he had closed the gap between them.
"Kat…throughout all of this we've been teammates, friends, but…after all of this…Dammit, I've never minced words, so I'm not going to now: I don't want us to remain as just friends. I love you Kat. And I want us to be together long after this war's over"
Maybe Kat had seen it coming. Maybe not. It didn't matter. She was still caught completely off-guard.
Six cut her off when he gripped Kat in his arms and passionately brought his lips to hers. Initially taken off-guard, Kat quickly welcomed him and returned the kiss. Their lips separated so they could breath, and then Six kissed her again, leaning in to deepen it as their tongues started dueling furiously. Kat groaned as she and Six kept up their embrace. Finally, their lips broke apart, and they removed their clothing and armor. All of it. The two then resumed kissing one another, and were soon on the nearby bed in the room, making love. Finally, once their moment of ecstasy had come and gone, the two just laid in bed together, with Kat snuggled closely to Six.
"Do you think we can be together? Find a place here?"
Six made small smirk. "I'm positive."
"But what about the others? The UNSC still needs us…"
There was silence. What Kat said was true. The UNSC still needed its SPARTANS, IIs and IIIs both. But Six and Kat had found happiness together. A happiness that wasn't supposed to exist between them. But neither one of them cared. Six loved Kat, and Kat loved him. They wanted to be together, away from all the strife, the wars, and the deaths. But it would be selfish to abandon the human race for their own pleasure, and both SPARTANS knew it. But neither wanted to risk losing the other. As SPARTANS they could definitely take care of themselves, but Six remembered how she had come so close to dying in New Alexandria to a lucky headshot, and Kat remembered all of the brushes with death Noble Six had already suffered.
Noble Six finally responded to Kat's question:
"We'll have to go back…we both know that, but…please promise me you won't die. Please"
"You first. Ah, Six…I can't promise anything…but I will stay by you. And I do love you."
And the two lovers kissed once more…
There was quite the celebration and awards ceremony for the Republic's new allies before they were to depart back to their galaxy in The Glorious Savior, and it was clear that a real sense of camaraderie had been formed between the two group's soldiers. Jorge had even added Pazaak to his list of many card games he played, and it wasn't long before he had come to dominate that one as well. The SPARTANS as a whole had gotten much praise from their Republic allies as the finest soldiers they had ever seen, and even their cruder weapons had gained an interest among the Republic Military.
Finally though, after all had been said and done, the UNSC forces gathered on The Glorious Savior, and Master Chief and the other SPARTANS had one final exchange with their closest allies from this other galaxy. Master Chief personally shook hands with Daemon.
"I guess this is good-bye for now…thanks again for helping rescue Blue Team…their all the family I've got left…"
"Just doing a Jedi's job of aiding the innocent."
"Yeah…sorry about your ship though."
"Water under the bridge. A ship for two galaxies seems like a good trade"
Master Chief almost found himself laughing at that. "Yeah…"
"Well, may the force be with you, and your people…John"
Master Chief was taken off-guard by Daemon using his real name. Daemon smiled.
"The power of the force."
And so, after final good-byes had been said and given, The Glorious Savior took off, prepped its hyperdrive, and disappeared into lightspeed.
The UNSC frigate Olympian's Torch found itself being hit hard on all sides by not one, but a trio of Covenant super-carriers. The frigate was aflame, and it would only take a bit more punishment before being completely destroyed. The Admiral had already ordered a full scale evacuation. On board the lead supercarrier, the Elite Shipmaster sneered with sadistic glee.
"HA! Another pack of human vermin doomed to die at our Covenant's hand. Their whole race will burn all too easily…"
But then, out of nowhere, came a vessel that this Covenant super-carrier had never seen before, suddenly bearing down on them. On board, Kurt gave the order:
"Bring those bastards down"
"It has been weeks since my husband and master has disappeared and the invasion failed. And unrest grows amongst the remaining Sith, I have seen it. They're convinced Revan will not return, so they fight amongst themselves. The betrayals mount. And no matter who wins, the Sith will lose. There is no one left with the power to control the Star Forge, though many have already tried and failed. I've watched them be devoured, their life drained from them as they attempt to tap into its power. Knowing what we do of the builders and their fate, I am beginning to think that Revan did not ever intend us to keep the Star Forge. To continue to use it would mean the end of the Sith. I have done as Revan asked I do in the event of his disappearance and remain here, but he has been gone for too long, and I will wait no longer. Whoever survives this "Sith Civil War" if any, shall not be the ones I wish to follow. There is only Revan. Only he can shape this galaxy as it is meant to be shaped. He lives still, this I know. If he will not return, then I shall follow and discover why. I cannot remain here, not knowing. I've become certain that there is something he remembered in the Unknown Regions. It is a technique he learned while fighting the Mandalorians, that allowed him to control the last of the Jedi, who fought beside him, and slay those who would not. And he fears it is still out there…and silent for far too long…"
And with this, Bastila Shan ended her Holocron recording. She stepped out of the room, locked it with the Dark Side of the Force to ensure that none could open it, and left the academy on Korriban with HK-47 at her side. Together, the last two followers of Darth Revan boarded his ship, the Ebon Hawk, and began their search for their master…
Supreme Commander Thel 'Vadamee had been disgraced.
It had taken the Elite weeks to return to his own galaxy by way of a stolen smuggler's ship. Upon his return to the Covenant Capital High Charity, he was forced to relate the entire story of the Fleet of Particular Justice's encounter and alliance with the Sith, their corruption at the Sith's hands, the Halo Ring, the ring's destruction, and ultimately, his escape back to High Charity. Though initially condemned and ridiculed as a madman, Thel ultimately managed to convince the council and the hierarchs that he spoke the truth.
It was just a shame that the truth yielded a no less merciful sentence then one for a madman.
In addition to being punished for pursuing an alliance with humans, Thel was also held accountable for the sacred ring's destruction. And so Thel 'Vadamee was stripped of his rank and tortured for all to see before being dragged nude before two of the three hierarchs, the Prophets of Truth, and Mercy, respectively, in the Mausoleum of the Arbiter of all places. The Prophet of Truth eyed Thel with callous harshness.
"The Council decided to have you hung by your entrails and your corpse paraded through the city. But ultimately, the terms of your execution are up to me."
"I am already dead."
"Indeed. Do you know where we are?"
"The Mausoleum of the Arbiter."
"Quite so. Here rests the vanguard of the Great Journey. Every Arbiter, from first to last. Each one created and consumed in times of extraordinary crisis."
The Prophet of Mercy spoke up, with a voice that was old and withered, but no less contemptuous then that of his counterpart.
"The taming of the Malekegolo, the Unggoy rebellion. Were it not for the Arbiters, the Covenant would have broken long ago!"
"What does the Arbiter's glory have to do with my shame?"
"I am disappointed Thel. I would have thought you knew the ways of the Covenant by now. Or have you truly become a full heretic?"
"No holy one! I know…The Arbiter is given to those who have been disgraced…those such as myself"
"Correct. Though you can no longer lead troops into battle as you were, if you become the Arbiter, than we will let you loose on our enemies once more with our blessing."
Thel looked at the set of archaic steel-gray armor that was now presented before him. He did not spend much time considering. What choice was there really? Best to accept his destiny…
Thel grabbed the helmet. It was cool to the touch, and as he placed it on his head, he turned to the two Prophets.
"What would you have your Arbiter do?"
Revan sat meditating in his escape pod when he was suddenly shaken out of his inner thoughts by the sound of the accompanying Elite's voice. Only it was not the Elite's voice. It was a darker, groggily voice…a voice that sounded unlike anything Revan had ever heard before.
"You…you are of a unique breed…a fusion of flesh and elements, pride, and power…you are comfortable in your existence, your mind fully concluded, yet always hungering for more…"
Revan raised an eyebrow.
"And who might you be, exactly?"
"I…I am a monument to all of your race's sins. And I have questions about this world…this strange world that I and my children do not understand. And you will answer them."
Revan smirked as he gave his reply:
"All right. Shoot"
Author's Note: And that my friends, concludes what is without a doubt the largest single piece of writing I have done in my life thus far. I am extremely pleased with how it turned out, and I'm definitely quite grateful for all of the reviews I've gotten up to this point. Thanks to everyone who held in for so long. I hope you all enjoyed this. And may the Force be with you.