Lands of heroes.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything related to Marvel or DC (depending on MY and YOUR opinions) or Halo (God, I wish I did though.) enjoy.
A/N: Hello to everyone who is reading this latest story to my collection, I decided on creating this because I am suffering some writers block for my Kim Possible / Darkstalkers fic, hopefully by the end I can come up with something for it, so I ask all my readers to be patient, also I am not familiar with everything Halo but I will try to be as thorough as can be.
Encounters, revivals and more.
In the vast reaches of space, the rear half of the UNSC frigate Forward Unto Dawn, floated aimlessly, with no destination apparent except that which fate decrees for it, however despite logic saying that no one could possibly be inside the derelict vessel given its condition, there were indeed two very important beings inside.
Indeed inside this ruin ship, sleeping a dreamless sleep, outfitted with a futuristic armor of black and green, laid the greatest soldier the United Nations Space Command ever produced, the Spartan II commando, Master Chief Petty Officer John – 117.
The Spartan II program was born out of necessity during the internal strife that afflicted the UNSC expansion in to the vast expanses of the galaxy; at first the change that came was calm and peaceful, but eventually civil unrest and ideological differences caused many to openly rebel against the earth leadership, resulting in the resurrection of the program under one of the greatest minds in UNSC, ONI division, Dr. Catherine Halsey.
Using the remnants of the first program the Orion project, she selected 133 viable candidates from ages 5 to 7; sadly due to budget constraints at least half would be "enlisted" John was one of those chosen, more so he has personally selected by Dr. Halsey due to several factors she had seen in him, one he was a foot taller than other 6 year olds, he was better condition from most children a clear indication of excellent genetics, his reflexes were top notch and he had the uncanny ability to predict the side a coin would land on showing an unusual amount of luck involved, so taken from his home world of Eridanus II and replaced with a clone that would eventually die forever erasing any hope of normalcy, he was inducted into a world few could ever fully embrace as we was about too.
He and the other children were taken to the planet Reach the primary garrison, shipyard and training academy of the UNSC Defense Force, were the many military divisions were located including the elite Orbital Drop Shock Troopers or ODSTs as they were called, men and woman who through the use of Human Entry Vehicles or HEVs, enter the atmosphere for precise landings on a planet, the high risks involved earned them the name Helljumpers as well as the moniker "Feet first into hell.".
Once on the base the children were informed that their lives as civilians were over and that they were needed for the safety and security of the human race, so under the watchful eye of Chief Petty Officer Franklin Mendez, they were trained in all aspects of the military, Mendez was a harsh taskmaster with them pushing them to go beyond their limitations, but he was also fair to the recruits by teaching them loyalty, teamwork and honor, he became a Father figure to the Spartans, just as Doctor Halsey would be a mother to them.
Once fully trained, they were subjected to as series of physical augmentations, that would truly make them into a soldier without equal in the military, virtually unbreakable bones, super human strength and speed, increased reaction time as well as intelligence, memory and creativity, enhanced perception, this abilities were just the tip of the iceberg as they had yet to introduce the armor that would push them over other men and women and signify their place in the military.
However the risks involved with the procedures was just as great as many of the recruits suffered horrifying deformities and deaths which left only 33 Spartans combat ready, the rest were either reassigned to other duties or perished.
John mourned his fallen brothers and sisters, for he had forged great bonds with each of them during training, they were his family now, Mendez his Father and Halsey his Mother, and John was the favorite to them and the other Spartans, he was their unquestioned leader, Mendez was proud to have him lead them into battle for he took his lessons in loyalty and teamwork to heart, Dr. Halsey favored him the most out all the Spartans for his dedication to the cause, even when she sometimes wavered due to guilt of her actions.
John and his fellow Spartans as a covert strike team, went after all threats to the integrity of the UNSC, never giving away their presence to the public, acting in the shadows, however that all changed on October 7th 2525, the day humanity would face the alien combine known simply as The Covenant, whose first contact with the human race was to burn a colony to glass and declare in one single powerful message the following:
"You're destruction is the will of the Gods…and we are their instrument."
The following years were dark in did, countless worlds fell to their might, in space the vessels of the UNSC were terribly under classed against the power of the Covenant fleets, and though on the ground humanity made themselves known as fierce foe it was always at a heavy price, that changed when the Spartans, outfitted with Mjolnir armor made by their "mother", engaged the Covenant, and for the first time in their long lives, they learned fear.
Whenever victory over the humans seemed within their grasp, they came to steal it in bloody zeal, it did not matter if they had superior technology, numbers or tactics, the super soldiers bulldozed anything that stood in their way, no fear in their hearts no doubts in their minds, truly earning the name of Spartan, no one gained such admiration and hatred as John did, his feats of valor became the things of legends were made of.
During the terrible conflict John came into contact with and ancient artifact that would change everything they knew about the human race, the Covenant and the galaxy at large, the object in case was known as the Halo, a massive weapons platform built by the precursors of all known sentient life in the universe, the Forerunners.
The Forerunners were an advanced race far beyond what the UNSC or the Covenant could ever hope to achieve, yet for all their advancements and power, they were still victim of their hubris, for a threat of unknown origin came and was ignored as nothing more than a pestilence that would pass, but time proved them wrong, it grew in strength and power, until it could no longer be contained or ignored, sadly it was too late, the Flood had come.
Their battle with the parasitic species was a futile one, every weapon, every strategy, every soldier thrown at them proved useless against an enemy who could adapt and learn its opponents tactics and abilities.
In one final bid for universal survival the ancient people made the ultimate sacrifice, the Halos complex would unleash a devastating wave of energy that would eradicate all sentient life in the universe, themselves included, they made sure to leave behind a legacy of their existence, trusting in their chosen heirs, in this case humanity, to reclaim their inheritance and learn from their mistake, so with that done they perished, and the flood slowly vanished.
The machines they left behind seeded the universe of life, for it to begin a new, however those races who discovered the remnants of the Forerunners thought them gods and worshipped them as such, they created a great empire on those beliefs, this was the origin of the covenant, who upon learning the position that humanity held, ordered their immediate destruction, for if the truth was revealed the Prophets, self – imposed leaders of the combine, they would lose all power, this they could not allow.
30 years of warfare, 30 years of bloodshed, all culminating in one final battle, where hidden truths came out, betrayed enemies became great allies and ancient foes were finally defeated, so many lives were lost some earning a high place in history, but no name greater than the man who led his brethren and mankind into victory, who now in stasis waited alongside his long time companion the "smart" A.I Cortana, created by Dr. Halsey and based off her on mind, who watched over her friend and protector.
"Good Morning John, it is now the 3 year anniversary of the battle at Delta Halo according to my still functioning data links." The A.I construct said to her sleeping guardian, as she had done for the past three years of their wandering voyage through space, she did mostly to keep a connection to something for fear of Rampancy, which lately seemed like a closer outcome for her, but given all they had encountered during the war it came to no surprise to her.
"Now if only I could make sure he was rescued before I go mad it wouldn't matter." She thought.
She had left the beacon on the moment her Spartan when into stasis, however all likelihood of rescue diminished with each passing moment, she remained hopeful though, their track record had proven that when all seemed lost, they would always find some way to pull through.
"Sss…not again." She said as another attack hit her, making her take on a shade of red before subsiding, lately it seemed to happen more frequently.
"I just need more time John, once you're safe everything else is irrelevant." She said to the capsule that held him.
Her requests were answered when the Dawn's still functioning sensors detected a planet in the distance, naturally she was both cautious and overjoyed at the prospect, cautious because given the fact they were in unknown territory it could be a covenant loyalist planet or worse flood infested, still it would mean her Spartan would stand a chance to live, so she made a compromise, she booted up the dormant systems she shut down to conserve energy, and sent clarion spy drones to scan the planet, while she began to thaw out John.
After several minutes, the procedure ended and the capsule opened with a hiss, John stirred for a moment before his Mark VI booted up and administered the necessary stimulants.
"Hey there sleeping beauty, enjoy your nap?" asked with mirth his long time ally and friend.
John replied by giving her the Spartan smile.
"What is the situation Cortana? Are we being rescued?" he asked her.
"Negative on that front John, we've been adrift for three years now." She replied.
"What is it then? Are you all right?" he asked with as much concern was possible for a Spartan to give.
"Well there's good news and bad news John, which do you want to hear first?" she asked touched by his concern for her, though he would not be pleased when she told him the truth, but she owed him that and so much more.
"Bad first." He said.
"Figures, John I am in the beginning stages of rampancy, I don't know how long I have left, but I will try to stay sane enough until you are safe." She replied as she gave him a sad smile.
"I see, what is the good news then?" He said as he bowed his head at her not happy with that news, still he would try to find a way to save her, he promised his friend Johnson to do so, and he always kept his promises.
"It appears that we are drifting towards a planet, I have sent clarion spies to determine the nature of the planet, the data should arrive soon, but if all goes well than at least you can be safe until a rescue is made." She said as she hoped it would help him perk up.
"All right, how are we on supplies and power?" he asked choosing to push back his friends condition to the back of his mind to focus on the current situation.
"Well thankfully we still have a good supply ammunition and weaponry on board, so personal defense is safe, there appears to be a fully functional Albatross dropship, two Pelicans and one Longsword in the hanger bay so in case we have to scuttle the Dawn we can use them as shelter, some warthogs and mongoose are still operational, as for food and water you'll have to check, the Dawn's fusion reactors are still functioning so all in all we are good John." She spoke to him.
It was at that moment the data from the drone returned and she quickly reviewed it.
"John the data the drone sent suggest a rich nitrogen oxygen mix, there seems to be a healthy selection of flora and fauna and…" "Gasp"
"What is it Cortana?" she asked when she gasped.
"John there signs of a civilization there, no visible life forms but their design suggests a Forerunner presence there." She finally said.
Johns mind raced at the possibilities from a functional vessel that could be salvaged from a possible flood infection, still the likelihood of that worst case scenario was a stretch given the fact that the native wild life seemed fine, but then again everything looked fine on the first Halo then…
Cortana though not seeing his face knew he was thinking the same thing as her.
"Is there any way to detect a possible Flood infection?" he asked in all seriousness.
"Negative, the drone wouldn't be able to detect them if there dormant or if there in hiding, still we have a choice to make John, we either take the chance or wait here, it's your call" she said as she gazed at her Spartan.
After a few moments he answered her.
"We go but we go preparing for the worst, I'll start loading up the ships, while you find us a landing zone, get us near a halfway point to the city, hopefully we can something to salvage and maybe even something to help you." He said with authority.
"John…" she said touched by his resolve to help her.
"You will be fine Cortana, besides who else is going to watch my back?" he said with as much humor he could, no easy feat but it was the thought that counted.
Several hours later
"We are prepped and ready to go Chief" Cortana spoke from within the armor as they seated themselves in the Longsword.
John had chosen to take the Longsword from a tactical point of view, as it had better weapons and speed than the Pelicans or the Albatross as they were loaded up to the brim with weapons vehicles and supplies.
"All right, all systems are in the green, and we are good, beginning take off." John spoke, slowly the engines came to life and soon lifted off the pad while the bay doors opened, the other vehicles soon followed suit as they were piloted by copies of Cortana.
Several hours later.
John had managed to land in a clearing the spy drone had found near the ancient city, the carrier vessels landed 5 miles north of his position to ensure less chance of damage should the city prove hostile, so once everything was secure he took one MA5C Assault Rifle and a Carbine which he placed on his back along with several magazines of ammo for the rifle, a pair of M6 magnums, a pair of Covenant Blades, a variety of grenades both human and covenant make, once armed he chose to use a mongoose as oppose to one of the Warthog variants, better stealth and more maneuverability and access as oppose to the larger vehicle.
He rode until he was 1 mile from the city; from there he left the vehicle while placing a NAV marker for later retrieval, he hiked the rest of the way, despite the distance it was a small nature walk to him given his augmented body as well as the boost he got from the armor so fatigue and exhaustion were practically not an issue or him, he reached a cliff that overlooked most of the cityscape and took out some binoculars to get a better view.
From what he could tell from its structure it was definitely Forerunner in design however what caught him of guard was the fact that it seem intact and not just in the sense that was free of infection but that there was no signs of deterioration.
"I don´t understand John, how could it be intact? It´s been thousands of years since the fall of their civilization, how can it still look like someone's still living in it?" The artificial being spoke to her protector.
"Who knows? Maybe there is some Huragok and sentinels taking care of it." He commented, which given what they had seen from the beings and the machines it was a possibility still…
They decided to venture into the abandoned city and see if there was anything that could be salvaged or a means to communicate with Headquarters for extraction.
As they neared the city John got the distinct feeling they were being watched, this left him slightly disturbed the closest thing a Spartan came to fear, and he did not like it one bit, he kept his senses sharp in case of trouble.
He had reached the city´s entrance when his senses suddenly screamed at him to take cover unfortunately it came too late as a small pulsating missile came from seemingly thin air and struck the ground in front of him, the force behind the explosion was such that the armors shields gave out immediately and flung him like a rag doll, his last conscious thought was hearing Cortana screaming his name before darkness took him.
Several hours later.
"Guh…" John voiced as consciousness returned to him, he didn't know how long he was out but it felt like years to him, he instinctively brought his hand to his eyes to rub the grogginess out of them, however he was startled when he felt skin on skin contact, he looked at himself and confirmed that indeed he was out of his armor and wearing some sort of medical gown.
That set on edge immediately, it was no easy feat to remove the armor, there were safeguards that prevented that, and then there was Cortana…
"Where is she?" he thought with some alarm, however any further thoughts were interrupted by the arrival of someone he did not expect.
"I see that you are awake at last Reclaimer, good." The artificial voice said.
He turned to the direction from where it originated from, and came face to face with a monitor, its eye a brilliant green.
"Who are you?" he asked wearily, his lasts encounter with Guilty Spark fresh in his mind.
"I am Offensive Bias, greetings." The now identified monitor explained.
John was surprised at this, according to Cortana Offensive Bias was the successor of Medicant Bias after the Gravemind compelled it to rampancy, he was also the one who decimated the remaining fleet of Flood controlled vessel after the activation of the Halos.
"Is there something the matter Reclaimer?" the ancient A.I asked after sensing John silence.
"What happened out there? Where is my armor? And where is Cortana?" he asked in hopes of answers.
"My apologies Reclaimer, the defensive systems I left on after my hibernation period activated when they sensed your arrival, since they had no way of knowing your intention without my guidance they fell back to their default settings to ensure the safety of the complex, you were attack by one of the sentinel major's in the area, after they scanned your body I was awaken immediately, your genetic pattern coincided with those chosen by my creators as their successors, so I set out to heal your injuries, however your internal organs suffered much trauma which forced me to insert within you a experimental treatment to ensure your survival, that is a nano colony of bio Huragok design originally to combat flood infection as well as heal many forms of damage, your combat skin was heavily damaged by the sentinel's missile, and if you are referring to your construct she was removed from the remains of your combat skin, my scans revealed her to be in the beginning stages of rampancy, so she was still salvageable, I was forced to temporarily shut her down, her emotional state was increasing her condition, I had her sent to our repair ward for repairs and if possible an upgrade." It replied.
John was a bit disturbed by the fact that he now had living machines in his body still if was the only way to save him, he could live with that but first thing first, then there was the news about the MJOLNIR, it was disheartening to her the armor was damaged but came to no surprise he had been in constant combat thus making repairs impossible, but at least Cortana was safe and getting the best help possible to ensure her survival.
"Can I see her?" John asked the monitor.
"As you wish, follow me please." It replied.
As they made their way to the teleportation platform John decided to speak to the machine.
"Why were you in hibernation?"
"It was needed in order to slow down rampancy; I place myself in 100 year interval sleep periods, awaken to take note of any changes then return to hibernation, I was at the half way point of this cycle, when I was awakened."
"What planet is this?" he asked curious as to why this planet was the one the A.I chose to reside in.
"This is the home world of my creators, and was once the very heart of their empire, Onasis Prime." It replied.
That stopped him cold; he turned towards a window and gazed at the city he was in, and to think that this was where the greatest civilization to ever exist came from, a people who managed to forge a technological empire that far outstripped anything the UNSC or the Covenant could ever hope to achieve in his lifetime.
They reached the platform and the monitor activated it, a yellow flash latter they were in another room and another corridor in front of them.
They finally stopped in front of door at the side was a writing he could not understand, but more than likely indicated the room's purpose, they went inside and he saw the various advanced terminals that showed the same language the forerunners used.
They stopped at one pad, and there the monitor shed a small beam of light, soon enough Cortana's holographic avatar came into view.
"John! You're all right." She said quite happy to see her protector alive.
"Yes thanks to our host here." He said as he motioned to the monitor.
"Who are you?" she asked the monitor, though not as weary as John given her time in the presence of both Guilty Spark and Medicant Bias, helping her discern the that not all of them were rampant.
"I am Offensive Bias, construct." The more advanced A.I said to her.
"You were the one who faced off against Medicant weren't you?" she asked.
"Yes, my fellow A.I Medicant after being coerced into Rampancy by the Flood consciousness Gravemind, required my creation, I did what was necessary to ensure the victory of my creators final plan, however I should thank you construct." It said.
"Thank me? What for?" she asked curious.
"The data in your memory core indicated your encounter with my predecessor, showing that my efforts to save him were not in vain, and yes I am aware of your protocols regarding your home world, I have not learned its location, and even if I did it would soon become irrelevant given my future objectives." Offensive spoke to the duo.
"What do you mean "your future objectives"?" she asked, voicing the question on John's mind as well.
"My primary objectives after the sacrifice of my masters were to ensure the reseeding of life they collected after they were gone, protect the legacy they left behind until you came to reclaim it, ensure you had the means to learn and use the legacy and finally my total deactivation before suffering rampancy." It said.
"But you look fine, why must you deactivate yourself?" Cortana asked as she found it quite perplexing the monitor's objective to ensure its "death" before giving in to madness.
"It is only logical that I wish to ensure that my existence ends with the completion of that with my creators sought to protect, should I allow myself to go rampant I put at risk everything they sacrificed themselves for, that is something I will not permit, too much has been lost, I will ensure your safety and safe return to your people Reclaimer, for only then can I say that the mission has been accomplished and my existence held meaning." The monitor said, and though he was not a living being one could sense the determination it had to accomplish its final request.
Cortana could respect the monitors desire to see his mission to the very end, and John understood what it meant to strive for an ideal.
"So do you happen to have any vessels with slipspace capabilities around?" She asked the monitor.
"Sadly all we have available are scrap yards, and not enough materials to construct a fully functional ship, and the key ship I used to return here was too damaged to function anymore so it was scuttled, if I had something to work with then it is possible we could create one." It replied.
"Then we're in luck the vessel with which John and I came through to this region of space was damaged while traveling through slipspace, it may be just what we need." She said.
"Hmm, I shall need to inspect the remains first, let us head towards the communication relay; there we can observe the vessel in question, construct you have been given priority access to travel through the networks I shall signal you when we have arrived there." It said.
"Why can't she used her data cristal?" John asked.
"I am currently having the Huragok and Sentinels upgrading her housing to accommodate her new upgraded status, right now she is the equivalent, by my standards at least, what you refer to as a "dumb" A.I, no offense intended." It said to her.
"None taken." She replied with a pout, to which John just chuckled.
"However her housing must be upgraded to not only contain her program but also have the necessary tools to assure her long service." Offensive replied.
"I see will my armor still be able to keep up with her?" John asked.
"No it must also be repaired and upgraded first, however I left that for a latter time to focus on healing your body, as you suffered massive internal damage from the missile, how your combat skin withstood the force is quite perplexing, still that is for latter come let us adjourn in the relay." It answered.
"Of course." He said there would be time to see what could be done for his armor latter.
After a few minutes the soldier and the monitor arrived at the communications relay, Offensive gave the signal for Cortana to join them, he then once again transmitted the beam of light into the advanced computer system, booting it up and commencing the search, it wasn't long that the planets long range scanners found the derelict vessel and began to transmit information to the monitor.
"Yes, this will do nicely, with the remains of the other vessel here I can have the Huragok and constructors not only rebuild your vessel but improved it as well, I shall send some guardian sentinels to tow it back here to begin immediately." The monitor spoke.
"What are guardian sentinels?" asked John having not faced that particular class.
"Observe the screen." It said as it changed to a shot of a hanger of some sort.
Nothing happen for a few moments until the shot began to vibrate, that was when they saw the cause as a massive machine began to rise, followed by another then another until they totaled four in number.
John and Cortana were in awe at the devices, they were as tall as a 15 story building, and resembled a massive sheathed sword, a large red eye at the top.
"These are the Guardian Sentinels, used as escorts to key ships, protectors of installation 00 as well as well as heavy artillery platforms during the war, their primary weapon is the energy beam located in the eye, it is capable of melting through 3 feet inch plate of armor with a concentrated beam or atomize 2 miles worth of land with a radial blast, it also serves as missile platform, firing up to 200 missiles of differing yields, except fusion missiles those are reduced to 25 because of their high destructive capacity." The monitor said casually.
"Talk about firepower." Cortana said.
"While they retrieve your vessel, we should see your construct new housing and what can be done to upgrade your combat skin to more acceptable levels." The Monitor said to them.
"Wait; is it possible for the communications systems here to contact Earth?" Cortana asked, as John also turned to look at the machine for its answer.
"Regrettably no, though there is plenty of power, your current level of technology is not advanced enough to receive the message at our current distance." It replied.
"Can we bounce it off another relay or strengthen the signal?" John asked this time.
"It would require an active relay closer to your system and even strengthening the signal runs the risk of causing system wide failure, however I will endeavor to aid as best I can." The ancient A.I replied.
"Thank you for trying, I would also like to aid in the upgrade of the armor if you will permit me, I have some ideas that I wish to implement." Cortana requested.
"Very well, however let us adjourn to where your new housing is being constructed." It said as it floated to the door.
They reached the room in which two Huragok or Engineers as they were known in the UNSC were meticulously working on something; Offensive gave of a series of tones that drew the attention of the artificial creatures they parted ways and headed towards the monitor, John chose to see the new form of Cortana's data crystal.
He was surprised by its size it was at least half of what he originally carried, instead of a blue crystal was a violet one in its place.
"Well I always wanted a new coat of paint, not too thrilled by the size though." Cortana spoke as she looked at the new crystal through the monitor.
"Actually that is one of the crystals used in lower ranking monitor such as those in the Halo arrays, and will be more than adequate for you, it is also much more durable and resistant." Offensive commented after finishing its talk with the Huragok.
"Really? That is interesting, but won't that require changing the neural interface with the Chief?" she asked as she addressed the monitor, John facing as well to ascertain the implications of this.
"I don't believe that will be a problem, the nano colony flowing through his body would provide the necessary adjustments to accommodate the interface." It said to her.
"Wait, what nano colony?" she asked as this was the first she heard of this.
" Ah yes, you have yet to be informed, you see when you were attacked by the city's defense system, the Reclaimer's combat skin already damaged nature provided enough protection to absorb much of the impact as it could, sadly his internal organs still suffered severe trauma, he was brought before me in critical condition, therefore I chose to introduce into his body an experimental nano colony of bio – huragok, that were developed during the war with the Flood, it was believed at the time that the Flood could be purged from the host during initial contact, the colony would be tailor made for the subjects DNA and remove any foreign DNA that was deemed harmful for the subject, essentially purging the subject of flood infection, however with Medicant's betrayal at the time, left no opportunity to put the experimental procedure into action."
"I see, but how does this aid the Chief? Since he doesn't have infection." She asked.
"I modified them to also repair the damaged organs and tissue, his unique physiology was taken into account, so they also have repaired several micro fractions detected in the metal that covers his bones, the burn out sections of his modified nervous system and any other imperfections that could lead to severe injuries or misshapes, they also serve to slow down his aging and use whatever natural toxins his body produces as fuel for themselves or as resources to convert to restore damage, and should the subject choose, they can be deactivated and absorbed into the bloodstream without repercussions." It said to the pair, who listened intently to the monitor explanation.
Cortana thought the implications of such a technology could put an end to so many diseases for humanity; perhaps even heal the Spartan II's that suffered such tragic deformities during the augmentation procedures.
John also thought this, many who were damaged by the procedures could be healed, possibly enough to make a full recovery or at least to function in more than just strategic capacity.
"But first we have to make it back, and for that to happen we'll need the Dawn to be up and running." He thought.
"How long will it be until our ship is restored?" he asked the floating machine.
"My estimates indicate that your vessel should be restored in approximately 4 ½ months, since all resources available will be dedicated to its restoration and modification." Offensive spoke.
"Guess we got plenty of time to fix the armor and add some new additions to it." Cortana said out loud.
"What are you going to do?" John asks.
"Now John, it wouldn't be much of a surprise if I told you." She said with a smirk, John merely rolled his eyes at her antics.
4 ½ months later.
Time had gone slowly and peacefully for John, Cortana and the monitor, once the rear section of the Dawn arrived and reconstruction began.
John spent his time training, and adapting to the latest enhancement to his body, they kept him from ever feeling worn out or tired, increased his senses as well, however that was without the aid of his armor, when the time came for the suit to be ready they melded well with the interface, it was also the day he and Cortana received quite shock, one that was very welcomed by them.
John was in one of the food courts inside the housing complex that Offensive had cleaned and stock for the duration of their stay on the Forerunner home world, he was dining on a dish made from the local fauna that although he could not pronounced the name tasted quite pleasant, it flavor was reminiscent of roasted chicken, the vegetables were also quite fresh and left a pleasant feeling to him, his meal however was interrupted by Cortana's call to him.
"John, you have to come here quick the armor is ready, and Offensive wants to show us something to." She spoke through the monitor her image appeared in.
John was up in less than a minute he had been anxious and a bit excited as to what the end result of the A.I's work, Spartan's having spent a good portion of their lives in the MJOLNIR never felt all that comfortable out of it, but given the circumstances he had bear with it, as the final results according to them would be worth it.
He came to the facility where Cortana's new data crystal was made, he found it rather appropriate, he went inside and immediately stopped upon seeing the final version.
The suit was still the same height and color but seemed less bulky than before, as he got closer to it he could see the green armor plating thickness was reduced by half, the inner body suit seemed to retain the same shape, he noticed that armored sections of the forearms, thighs and the back of the calves seem to have a glowing out line, on the back were nacelles, the section that held the fusion reactor seemed smaller by at least half, making him wonder what exactly had been done to it.
"Like what you see John?" asked Cortana as her human size hologram, courtesy of Offensive, made an appearance, she could tell from his body language that he was curious as to what had been done to the armor.
"What exactly am I looking at here Cortana?" he asked.
"The result of a month's hard work John, I present the MJOLNIR mark VII, trust me even you are going to love this, don't you agree Offensive?" she said as she turned to look at the monitor.
"Yes, though we could not give the full range of abilities, the combat skins my creators had, we have made certain that you are fully capable of handling even the most daunting of tasks." Monitor said as he went to a terminal that activated a holographic representation of several key parts of the suit.
"The outer and inner shell has been replace with a lighter yet denser alloy used in the armor plating found on key ships, this alloy was designed to withstand heavy impacts as well as withstand extreme conditions of heat, radiation, as well as cold and humidity, the nano weave body suit adds to the armors protective capabilities thus ensuring your safety, the gel was reformulated for this modification ensuring reducing high impact blows more tolerable levels." It said as Cortana took to explain in Layman's terms.
"These means that you could take a Gauss round at point blank range and still keep fighting, this new alloy also reduces the Mjolnir weight by half, and since it was designed to withstand energy based weaponry, the Covenant loyalist plasma and energy based weapons would be practically useless against you, it would take a platoon to take you down if you stood still." She said.
"The power plant of the suit is neither plasma or fusion based, but something much more powerful, essentially a small star powers the suit, making you a man sized Dyson Sphere, this was necessary in order to power certain functions in the suit, but there many safety precautions, even IF something manages to breach the containment field or some mishap occurred the pack would shut down all functions and collapse the star rendering it safe, the ship will carry facilities to restart it and repair it. " Offensive spoke.
"Incredible, what functions require the use of such a powerful energy source?" John asked awed by the things he had seen so far.
"As you can see from the glowing outlines on the thighs, calves, forearms, there can be seen an energy there, these are actually compartments that use was is called flatspace technology, slipspace on a smaller scale, these are used to store items, only the number of items stored are far greater than ever before, the forearms store a pair of energy daggers, the back of the calves store booster engines that permit flight for long periods of time using the nacelles on the back as maneuvering thrusters, whether on a planet, in space or underwater, they also served to provide boosted jumps up to 2 to 3 stories high." Cortana spoke.
"The Force – Multiplying, Reactive circuits and Reactive Metal, have all been upgraded to increase your abilities be a factor of 8, making you stronger, faster and react beyond what the mark VI was capable of, the new circuitry within the suit will greatly aid your construct in processing power by a factor of 4." Offensive said to the Spartan.
"The shields are three times stronger than before, also the recharge is just as fast, another reason for the new power system, is the optic camouflage we have installed in it, unlike past version this one has the advantage of hours of use without overheating, the only way for it to be detected would be for something to impact with enough force to activate the shields, it can't be used underwater though, your helmet has been given several vision modes such as X – ray, thermal and the sound processors have been boosted to act as a form of echo location." Cortana spoke next.
"Finally it is pressure sealed with 12 hour oxygen supply and a renewable oxygen filter in case of emergencies, it also includes an updated bio foam mix, and this new formula can provide better treatment of mild to heavy wounds, until your nano colony heals you." Offensive said to him.
John was for what he could consider the first time truly surprise with just how powerful the MJOLNIR was, Cortana picked up on this.
"Well what are you waiting for John put it on, I want to check put the new BIOS we installed as well as my new accommodations." She said with a smile as she downloaded herself into her chip.
"You don't have to tell me twice." He said as he proceeded to suit up.
Once done he could immediately tell the vast improvement and power in the suit, on his HUD he could see an icon for the vision modes, weapon, shield, power bars, he grabbed the chip and inserted it into the new slot and felt the cold shiver that always announced Cortana's presence.
"This is amazing John! The speed and power with I can process information is incredible, and I have so much storage capacity, it's like when I first came online on Reach." She said.
"I'm glad you're happy with it I know I am." He said to her.
"I am pleased that you find the upgrades to your liking, now there is something else I wish to show you, for it requires your immediate attention." The monitor spoke.
The Spartan and A.I followed the ancient machine to the medical ward were John had been place when they first arrived, there they could see a medical table covered in half cylindrical dome, something inside of it, the monitor got closer and proceeded to check peer at a screen that appeared on the surface of the dome, they came closer and peered inside and were shocked by what they found.
"It's Commandeer Keyes!" Cortana exclaimed as she saw the person inside the capsule.
Indeed the woman who led several key assaults on the Covenant the most important on Delta Halo, where she met her end by the hands of Prophet of Truth, was inside the capsule.
"What is she doing here?" John asked.
"The constructers and Huragok found her in a cryo stasis capsule, and brought her to my attention, I placed her here so as to revive her." Offensive said to the duo.
"How? She is dead, her wounds were too severe too survive." Cortana said to the monitor.
"True but the body continues to transmit a low level electrical current even though the brain is no longer active, using that and cloned organs, as well as a nano colony tailor made to her genetic pattern, I can restore her vital functions, however her brain will need time to recuperate from being shut down, thankfully the stasis made sure to preserved her body in an acceptable condition, do you wish me to bring her back?" it asked.
"Yes, bring her back." John said without hesitation, he may not be able to bring back his friend Johnson or so many others, but this was an opportunity they could not pass up, if anyone deserved this chance she did, she gave her life to stop the Brutes and Prophet from achieving their goals, and was shot in the back by a madman.
"I'm sure Dr. Halsey will be pleased with this." Cortana said to him.
"I wasn't aware the Doctor was connected to the Commander." The Spartan spoke privately to his A.I companion.
"You wouldn't given the fact that she is her Daughter." Cortana replied.
It would be interesting to note that in the history of the UNSC no Spartan was ever caught off guard so quickly from hearing shocking news, nor ever truly made to gape like a fish, thankfully the helmet block that from the monitor, though not from Cortana, who found this rather amusing.
"…I see, then she will be quite happy to know this." He replied after getting his thoughts in order.
"How long will it take to revive her Offensive Bias?" She asked.
"She will awaken on the day your vessel is completed." It replied.
The day had come and the Dawn was back and better than ever, it size rivaled that of a destroyer and its weaponry surpassed one, the armor was twice as thick made from a mix of Forerunner for the outer plates were 80 cm thick, the rest was Titanium and Vanadium of very high quality, the circuitry and on board computers were given a total overall taken them beyond peak efficiency, the reactors were replaced with a energy reactor similar to the one that powered John's suit making it powerful enough for several upgrades such as an energy shield that far surpassed the Covenant shields, as well as a cloaking field better adapted from certain ONI vessels, the integration of two modified MAC cannons, what made these special was the superconducting metal used allowed faster more powerful shots and the ability to fire three shots each, as well as two energy projection cannons on the underside of the pontoons, this fired a concentrated energy beam for 30 seconds, wasting anything in their path, defensive turrets and lasers were added for good measure, along with additional missile pods of Forerunner make and modified UNSC missiles.
He thought the UNSC will benefit greatly from the ship as it would take a good number of vessels to take her down; his musings were cut short by the monitor's voice announcing what he and Cortana had been waiting for ever since they heard of the Commander's revival.
"Raclaimer it is time to awaken her." Offensive announced knowing he would arrive as quickly as he could.
He was correct as the Spartan came in only a few minutes of the announcement.
"Is she awake yet?" he asked it, seeing that Keyes was out of the capsule and in the same medical garment he wore once.
"I was just about to do so Reclaimer." He said as he turned towards her and projected and energy beam to the temple.
At first nothing happened, but then there was a twitch of her fingers, finally a groan was heard from her.
"Ugh…wh…where…?" she spoke.
John went to her side and spoke to her.
"Easy, Commander, I got you." He spoke to her.
"Chief? Is that you? What happened to me? Why do I feel so tired?" she asked as she tried to orient herself.
"It's a long story, and you have to rest first, trust me when I say it is very complicated." He said to the weary woman who had been returned to the land of the living.
"All right, but I expect a full accounting, soldier." She said trying to muster as much authority as she could.
"Yes ma'am." He replied, with a smile "Ever the soldier" he thought privately.
"…and after the portal seared the rear half of the Dawn, I placed myself in stasis, then after three years of drifting Cortana woke me up, after finding the planet, we landed got into a bit of trouble, found the monitor and he rebuilt the Dawn, the Mjolnir and brought you back." John said finishing the story of what happened after her "death", except the part where he knew she was Dr. Halsey's daughter, since it wasn't his business.
"Amazing, so the war, it's finally over?" she asked amazed at what she had miss out on, she was more active now that she had a time to adjust, they were currently in the residential area where John stayed, she was dressed in her uniform, replicated to an exact match.
"Yes, for the most part the loyalists are still out there but we got some Covenant factions backing us, the Elites did not take too kindly to the approved slaughter of their people by the Brutes and Prophets." Cortana said in her avatar form.
"I bet, hopefully together we can get rid of the loyalist faction." She said
"And thank you Offensive for bringing me back." She added as she looked at the monitor.
"I was merely doing what I could to help Reclaimer, now your vessel has been fully stocked and armed, I have loaded the still usable Slipspace lanes that will lead you out of this star system as well as how to return to it, since your people will most likely wish to see study the legacy left by my creators, I have also loaded the codes so as to recognize you as the new owners of the complex, now all there is left is two things, please follow me." He said to the two humans and A.I, which they did.
They were now in another section of the complex; a lab of some sort, in front of them was two deactivated monitors, one with two "eyes" in a straight vertical line, the other with four eyes in a diamond pattern.
"As you know, now that I have fulfilled my primary functions, I shall shut down permanently, before that however I must ensure that your people have the means to understand the technology of their ancestors, and have someone to safeguard the masters home world, to that end, I have created these two monitors whose programming is a combination of my own and Medicant Bias, programming and personality matrix." The monitor said as he projected to beams into the successors.
They activated at the same time and floated towards Offensive.
"You shall be known as Redeeming Bias, you shall travel with the Reclaimers and aid them as best you can, do you understand your mission?" It spoke to the four eyed machine.
"Yes, I shall endeavor to meet all their expectations." The newly named Redeeming Bias spoke, Offensive made a nodding motion then turned towards the other monitor.
"You shall be known as Reckoning Bias, you shall oversee that this world is kept safe for the master's inheritors, then aid them in understanding that which has been bequiefed to them, you shall do so for as long as you retain stability, do you understand your mission?" It asked.
"Yes I understand and accept my mission." Reckoning Bias replied.
"Very well, then it is time, Reclaimer I require your aid in this." It said as it floated to a pedestal, there it landed and was enveloped in a field of pale blue light.
"Press the blue button in the center of the console, it will erase my core and render me useless." It spoke.
"Are you sure this is what you want?" He asked the one who they owed much.
"Thank you for your concern, but this is what I desire, I have fulfilled the will of my Master's, I have no regrets and am thankful that I lived to see your coming, you have done what my master's failed to do, you defeated the Flood, and made certain that their legacy is spread to the rest of your people, and for that you have my gratitude, I wonder though is there something awaiting a being such as myself at the end of my existence?" The monitor asked solemnly Cortana chose to reply as she appeared in her holographic form.
"Who knows what awaits beings such as us at end Offensive Bias, not even humans know that answer but I believe that it is not end that matters, but the journey to it that defines us and in the end makes us understand who we were, and if we can go into that next phase of existence accepting ourselves and the choices made with no regrets, then maybe what waits us is a far grander journey than what we could ever imagine." She spoke to the end.
Offensive processed her answer and found no fault in the words spoken.
"Perhaps you're right, the only way to know is to take that first step, thank you for your words…Cortana, now then if you would please, Reclaimer." It said to John, John nodded but before he pressed the button he stood straight and saluted the machine, the commander smiled at his actions and also saluted the one who brought her back.
"Very well, Offensive Bias may your journey be one worthy of you and know that you have served your creators with honor and dignity." He said as he released the salute and pressed the button, there was no great fanfare or explosive result, only the fading light from the machines single eye, still the ancient technological marvel would be remembered.
"Are all systems ready Cortana? Redeeming?" Miranda asked seated on the command chair of the reborn Forward Unto Dawn.
"All systems are "Go" for launch Commander." Cortana replied.
"Confirmed Commander." Redeeming Bias spoke.
"Chief, status?" she said to the man sitting in tactical station.
"All vehicles and weaponry are secured, all bulkheads sealed, and engines are primed and ready Commander Keyes." He said.
"Very well, Reckoning we shall begin launch have all unnecessary personnel stand cleared." She said to the monitor on screen.
"Understood Commander, all Huragok and constructors are cleared, you may launch now." Reckoning spoke.
"Confirmed, begin ignition sequence." She spoke to the two A.I's on the bridge.
Slowly a powerful hum could be heard from the engines, this was followed by a burst of energy as they began to push the vessel away from the platform, higher and higher it climbed until it was passed the city and still it rose into the skies of alien world.
"We have cleared upper atmosphere Commander, and are now in orbital alignment." Cortana spoke.
"Very good Cortana, How is the ship holding up Redeeming?" she asked the advanced A.I.
"The hull integrity is 100% and holding, shields at 100% and holding, engines working at 100% and holding." It replied.
"Very good, prepare to engage Slipspace drive, we shall first head to the nearest planetoid, if all goes well then we shall embark to planet Earth." She spoke to her small crew.
They all acknowledged the order, and soon enough the drive was activated and the portal opened in front of the vessel, slowly disappeared into it. 300 000 Km, to the east of their original location another portal opened and out came out came the vessel.
"Status?" Keyes asked.
"We're in the green Commander, all system register no problems." Cortana spoke.
"Excellent, what was our travel time in Slipspace?" she asked the Forerunner A.I
"6.4 seconds" it replied.
"Incredible, with this drive we will reach earth in no time at all, very one final test, send a message to Reckoning, tell him we shall now proceed to our final destination, and should prepare for his part in the operation." She ordered.
"Message has been sent." He replied and less than a minute later he received a reply.
"Message has been acknowledged and is preparing for his part in the operation."
"Very well, initiate Slipspace jump, per Cole protocols."
And once more a portal opened and the war vessel plunged into the abyss.
Earth – Sidney, Australia UNSC HIGHCOM headquarters.
In the office of one Fleet Admiral "Lord" Terrence Hood, the man whose name was on the door could be seen discussing the latest reports and findings by the scientific team on shield world Onix, with him was incredible enough the Ship Master Rtas' Vadum of the Neo - Covenant Navy who was meeting them too provide aid in the research of the Forerunner outpost as a show of friendship and the scientist who discovered and for some time was trapped on the ancient but heavily advanced outpost, Dr. Catherine Halsey, who was on an advisory basis, much to her displeasure, but given the fact that she did leave without authorization under false pretenses, she considered herself lucky that they did not take her out back to be shot, thankfully CPO Mendez and the Spartans vouched for her.
Frankly he could not blame the woman for trying to help her Spartans, he understood her guilt in what they had been subjected to what was taken from them, but times called for desperate measures, and the results spoke for themselves, even now the Spartans were out there keeping order in the inner colonies and keep watching out for the Covenant Loyalist seeking revenge on humanity and the traitors to their cause, they lost many good men and women out there, but the one that always brought a bit of sadness was the greatest of them all the Master Chief Petty Officer John – 117, the hero of the UNSC, his loss was as hard as that of Admiral Preston Cole, the search for the missing section of the Forward Unto Dawn, seemed a waste of resources but Dr. Halsey and the Arbiter insisted that he was alive out there and given his track record he had to agree that was the only reason all UNSC vessel kept an eye out for it.
He was about to ask the progress and discoveries made, when his personal A.I came online with news.
"Fleet Admiral Hood, we are receiving a transmission from the Vega system." The A.I spoke.
"What sort of transmission?" he asked it.
"Unknown all the officers in charge get is a strange series of tones." It replied.
"Then why was brought to my attention?" he asked slightly annoyed.
"Because at the end of the tones, it reads to Dr. Halsey." It replied.
That got a reaction from both the Admiral and the Doctor.
"Me? How curious? Do you have a sample of the message?" she asked.
"Yes, do you wish for me to play it Admiral Hood?" It asked while discreetly looking at Rtas', the Sangheili, he of course noticed but took no offense, it would take many years for his people and those of the Neo – Covenant to earn their total trust.
"Do you wish for me to leave Fleet Admiral Hood?" the alien asked.
"No, it could be something involving the loyalists we may have need of your help if so, play the message Churchill." The Admiral spoke, to which he nodded in return and thanks.
The message played out and the Doctor immediately knew what it was.
"Admiral we must respond to this message, it's from one of the Spartans, I know it." She said to him with urgency.
"How can you be certain doctor, it could be a ploy by the loyalist." He rebuffed.
"No, this code is known only to the Spartans, me and CPO Mendez, we must answer, it could be information about the loyalist." She said adamantly.
The head of the earth defenses thought it over quickly and decided to oblige her.
"Churchill inform HIGHCOM of the arrival of myself, Dr. Halsey and Ship Master Vadum, to the communications relay." He said as he stood up from his desk and went to the door followed by the others.
Once they arrived there all personnel stood before the presence of the highest ranking officer and awaiting his orders.
"At ease, who was the one who intercepted the message?" he asked the congregated officers.
"I did sir!" a young woman of twenty spoke.
"What's your name?" he asked her.
"Ensign Rebecca Valens, sir!" she replied in crisp military fashion.
"Very well ensign, how did you trace the source of the transmission?" he asked again.
"Yes sir, I was at my terminal scanning for Loyalist chatter, when my scans reached the Vega system it immediately tracked a signal, at first look it seemed irrelevant, but upon closer inspection I found it repeated itself, I closed in on the signal and found a seven tone message which finished as being addressed to Doctor Catherine Halsey, up till now the analysts can't make heads or tails of it." She said.
"No need, Dr. Halsey knows the nature of the message, and given its nature I assure everyone here that if it proves authentic then it will be deemed both high priority and classified, do I make myself clear people?" he asked the people there.
"Yes Sir!" they answered as one.
"Good, ensign show us to your terminal and assist Dr. Halsey in any way she asks." Hood spoke to the ensign.
"Sir! Please this way doctor." She said as she took the three to her station.
"I still have the location set ma'am, and it is still going strong, though I am puzzled by its nature." She said to the doctor in a respectful tone, she may not be military but this woman was responsible for the Spartans and was one of the most brilliant minds in the UNSC.
"How so ensign?" she asked.
"Well despite the fact that the Vega system is light years away from us, the signal is coming in as it was just around the corner, I think that this signal is being strengthened somehow, but to do that would require lots of power to do so." She spoke.
Dr. Halsey took that into consideration as she analyzed the signal.
"She is right Admiral Hood, someone is boosting this signal to reach us." She spoke to the Fleet Admiral.
"For what purpose doctor? You say it's in a code only known by yourself and the Spartans, so who could possibly be out there, all the Spartans are currently deployed in various sectors, none of them near that system." He questioned as he was quite confused and worried.
"There is only one way to know for sure sir and that is by replying." She said to him.
He thought it over and agreed with but first some precautions.
"Very well but I want every system secured in case this turns out to be trap." He said.
She nodded and the networked encrypted and firewalled in case of attacked.
"Network is secured, sending reply now." She said as the message was sent to its destination.
"Sir, the signal changed, it sending back another message." Valens quickly spoke.
"What does it say now?" he asked.
"It's requesting permission for visual communications with us." She answered.
"Very well put it on the main monitor." He ordered.
"Visual coming in now." She said as the large monitor came to life, what they saw gave them quite a shock.
"I thought they were dead!"
There on the screen were two people the UNSC thought both lost and in one case dead.
"Fleet Admiral Hood Sir! Commander Miranda Keyes, call sign Nightingale, serial number 21561204, is reporting in Sir!" She said with respect and authority as she saluted.
"Master Chief Petty Officer, John – 117, reporting in Sir!" he also said as he saluted.
The Admiral returned the salute albeit a bit weakly as he was in shock at what he was seeing.
"Miranda is that really you?" Halsey asked with a bit of fear that this was a dream or some sick joke.
"Yes it is." She said as she gazed at the hopeful expression of her mother "Could my death really have affected her so much?" she thought to herself.
"How is this possible? Johnson video recorder showed you died, you were shot in the back by Truth." She said as she had seen the event after returning from Onix, to her it was just another failure on her part, so many lost opportunities, she thought she couldn't feel any worse than what she had done when she gave her up to her father, but watching her die at the hands of a mad man hurt like nothing ever could.
"I have John and the ally he made to thank for bringing me back." She said at those in the relay.
"How did you accomplish that Chief? And what's this about an ally? And what have you done to your armor?" Terrence asked the soldier who stood behind the once believed dead woman.
"Is this a secure line sir?" he said as his line of sight showed he was looking at the Elite.
Vadum knew what he was referring to, he took no offense by it, and he knew the Spartan was only protecting his people, much as he also did.
"Yes it is Chief; Vadum is with us as part of the alliance we have with the Separatists or Neo - Covenant as they are now called." The Admiral replied.
"Very well sir after the destruction of Delta…" "…And with Offensive's passing and with Redeeming and Reckoning's help we managed to communicate with you." He finished his report.
"Incredible, absolutely incredible, to think that you actually found the very core of the Forerunner empire without meaning too, and the armor looks incredible I can't wait to analyze it, you really are most lucky of your kind John." Halsey said with a smile "And maybe this time I can finally make up for all the lost time from my daughter if she'll let me." She thought privately.
"Well just in case we're transmitting all relevant data to you now Doctor." He said to her.
"All right, get those data stores ready people I want triple back up's, no screw up's or you answer to me personally." The admiral spoke in a no non sense voice while a flurry of activity was around him.
"Beginning transmission now." Redeeming Bias spoke.
"Transmission received, commencing with data storage." One of the people there spoke.
After some minutes…
"Transmission is done and stored Sir." Valen said as she observed to proceedings.
"Very good ensign, as for you Commander when can we expect you to return?" he asked.
"With the Forerunner drive we will arrive in…" she was cut off by Redeeming.
"Warning! Incoming Slipspace portal opening take evasive action!" the monitor said.
"He is correct Commander, whatever it is its big!" Cortana said.
"Cortana take evasive action! Engage cloak and shield; Chief arm all defensive and offensive capabilities, now soldier!" she ordered.
John was in action before she even finished the order.
The Dawn quickly became invisible and move from its current position, not a moment too soon as the area they were in was engulfed in a large portal of energy, and from it hundreds of ships came out, all of a design they were familiar with, Covenant.
"Redeeming are we still transmitting to Earth?" she asked as she saw the fleet continue to pour out of the portal.
"Yes, we are using a subspace frequency of Forerunner design so it will not be detected." The monitor replied to her as she nodded her thanks not only for the answer but to the additional fact.
"Good Lord! External sensors register up to 500 vessels out there, 150 Assault Carriers, 150 carriers, 150 cruisers and rest is Heavy Infantry Transports and personnel carriers." Cortana said with alarm.
"What is the insignia they bear Commander Keyes? Is it golden in color?" Vadum asked over the line as he saw no one else was going to by the sheer expressions of shock they were all expressing.
"It is the Red Covenant insignia." She replied as she had already determined the nature of the question.
"Then there can be no doubt that is a Loyalist fleet." The alien Commander spoke.
"Where the hell did they keep such a fleet? The Assault Carriers alone should be next to impossible to have so many standing by and where was it during the war?" The Admiral asked making no effort to mask his anger at the situation.
"I cannot say, the Prophets kept my kin out of the loop after the assassination of the Prophet of Regret, we were viewed as failures and many of them used as cannon fodder while the Brutes reaped the rewards, however I remember after the defeat at the hands of your Admiral Cole they may have kept in reserve many vessel that could be spared should such another incident occur, however with the split between my brethren, the Unngoy and Malegekolo Schism, they may have recalled all those still loyal to the lies of the Prophets and Brutes and now have decided to unleash it against us and your people as well." The Ship Master spoke.
"That makes sense Admiral, with less resources they could be planning to even the odds seeing as we our stretched thin as it is." Halsey spoke.
"How soon could our fleets arrive should we recall them now?" he asked.
"Not soon enough I'm afraid, Sir most are out in the inner colonies providing relief or quelling riots by pirates or rebels, about half could get here but it would not be enough to stop a fleet of that size, not even to slow them down." Ensign Valens said as she finished the calculations.
"Ship Master what of your people can they provide aid?" Hood turned to face the large alien.
"I would have to send word to the Arbiter immediately, but at best half of our ships could arrive and at least give you time, but that fleet will inflict heavy damage before they would arrive." His voice grim at end.
Throughout this the Chief was reflecting all variables and strategies, he looked at the star charts they had and a plan could be seen forming.
"Cortana, Redeeming I require your input." He spoke loud enough to be heard over the chatter, which stopped to see what the soldier had to say.
The A.I's joined him at the tactical terminal to see what he required, after a few moments Cortana exclaimed rather loudly the credibility of his idea.
"Are you out of your Mind!" she said.
"Though theoretically sound in practice this plans does leave much to be desired." The monitor spoke.
"What are you planning Chief?" Miranda asked, hoping the man could provide a solution to the current crisis.
"I plan to make use of a combination of Admiral Cole's last stand, the raid of Unyielding Hierophant and our exit strategy with the Gettysburg/Ascendant Justice." He replied calmly.
"Explain yourself soldier." Admiral Hood spoke as he did not like the implications involving what is known as "Cole's last stand", as it is a well known fact that though the man succeeded in defeating a massive fleet with just one vessel and a large quantity of FURY Tactical Nuke Missiles, his final fate was unknown, he also read of the incident involving G.A.J and its bout with abnormal Slipspace, but that was the result of a Forerunner artifact.
"Right now a fleet this size must rest before making another jump, also because they must at least know we could have ways of detecting them, so my plan involves both weakening the fleet and making sure that even if they do survive that they meet a nasty surprise, by opening a portal that leads to the coordinates 2819 - 3210 of this system." He spoke.
Doctor Halsey went to the terminal and inputted the data coordinates.
"Yes, it leads to a black hole." He said to her, knowing she was not going to take this well.
She wasn't the only one as the Ship Master had to admit that not even the bravest of his people would dare such a move.
The Admiral was even less pleased as he did not want more martyrs in the fight against the loyalist's.
"But that's suicide Chief! How do you plan to weaken the fleet anyhow?" he asked the armored man.
"With a precise nuclear strike." He responded.
"You must be referring to the 50 fusion missiles in the armory do you not?" Redeeming asked.
"Yes, since their three times stronger than our FURY Tac Nukes, the will make a dent, also the fleet is unaware of us so they will not be able to raise their shields in time, and even if they do they shall be considerably weakened for the next phase which would be to take them all into slipspace and then leave them near the event horizon of the Black Hole." He explained.
"All right but there is so much that could go wrong, first of all how many missiles do we launch? Too many may disrupt the slipspace portal too little and a good portion of the fleet survives, and then there's the fact that we may be caught in the black hole ourselves." Cortana spoke in a grave tone as this plan had many ways to go wrong.
"Will do it." The Commander said much to shock of those who heard her.
"Commander, there must be a better way; surely there must be some solution to this that will not end in both of your deaths." Doctor Halsey spoke out loud "Damn it I just got them back and now I might lose them both again." She thought.
"If there were more time then perhaps, but if we can make a difference now then we must take this opportunity, you know these to be true Admiral." She spoke to not only her mother but her commanding officer as well.
"All right Commander, do what you must but do all you can to survive as well, too much blood is on those bastards hands, and I will not have more shed for their fanaticism." He spoke to them both.
"Understood sir, we shall endeavor to follow through with your expectations, though I know not if we can meet them, we shall strive to do so, besides we have already cheated death once, we may do so again, so keep a light on for us." She spoke with a grin.
"May whatever luck you live by Spartan holds out now, my brethren and I shall ensure the threat of the Prophets and those under their banner shall end in your names should you fall, I pray that is not the case as the Arbiter hoped to see you in battle once more not as an enemy but once again as an ally." The Ship Master spoke as he saluted the Spartan in UNSC fashion; he was followed by all those present.
"Stay safe, all of you." Doctor Halsey said to them all but looked straight at Miranda.
"I make no promises to you Doctor, Ship Master, but we will try to so." He said as he returned the salute along with the Commander who also looked at the Doctor silently.
And with that the transmission ended.
"All right Cortana, bring up any ship schematics we have on the fleet see where we can hit for more effective damage, Redeeming begin calculations for number of missiles, and multiple slipspace jumps in the conditions we established, John have all systems prepped for the operation." She ordered.
After an hour the preparations were set and the ship in position, they chose to go for the center of the Fleet for maximum damaged as the carriers were around there, it was also the most spacious for the Slipspace portal for the exit and then transportation of the remaining fleet.
"All right on my mark fire 25 salvos into the designated coordinates, Cortana the moment they launched you get us out of here, wait for the emanations to weaken them slip him and we drag them along for a last ride." Miranda spoke.
"Beginning countdown T- minus 60 seconds." Redeeming spoke as the clock began to dwindle down to nothing until…
"FIRE!" the Commander ordered.
The Fleet did not see it coming, one minute there was emptiness the next a human vessel appears and fires 25 missiles and disappears into Slipspace, they were so shocked they failed to raised the shields until the first missiles detonated in a flash of energy, the effects were felt immediately as the sections targeted by Cortana though heavily armored against normal UNSC weaponry was nothing against the Forerunner equivalent of a Nuke at point blank range.
A third of the carriers were destroyed as the sections holding their reactors and weaponry were torn through and their cores breached sending more explosions into space and thus more debris were launched and caused more damage, another third was disoriented and ended up slamming into other vessels, the remaining carriers were still functional but their shields to the brunt of the powerful weapons, the cruisers also suffered many casualties reducing their number by half, and they lost all the transport vessels.
Not a moment latter the Dawn made another appearance only this time they opened portal that was as massive as the one used by the fleet, as the new forerunner star reactor was powerful enough to open such a thing, the fleet having no real semblance of control was pulled in.
In the sector established by John as the kill zone for the fleet the Dawn came out at full speed, while the fleet followed, the fleet commanders saw what awaited them as the massive cosmic phenomenon loomed in all its ghastly glory ahead.
"Full power to the engines! Get us out of here before were caught in the gravity well." Miranda yelled to the A.I's.
"Full power achieved we are pulling away, safe distance to Slipspace in two minutes." Cortana spoke.
"Warning incoming attack, shields at full." Redeeming spoke before several impacts could be felt.
"Guess those Covenant bastards; want to drag us down to hell with them." Miranda said grimly.
"We are out of the gravity well, engaging drive now." John spoke.
Unfortunately one of the remaining Assault Carriers fired their cannon at them just as the portal opened, though off the mark and weakened by the awesome gravity of the singularity it still headed for the Dawn.
"INCOMING!" Cortana yelled.
"Shields at maximum, brace for impact!" Miranda yelled as the energy hit and actually pushed the Dawn into the portal.
Location unknown, time unknown.
"Ugh…" voiced John as consciousness returned to him and sat up from his impromptu nap on the floor.
"Is… Is everyone alive here? Commander? Cortana? Redeeming?" he asked.
"Groan" "What happened?" asked the commander as she got off the floor where she was thrown too after the hit from the energy beam.
"I'm here John, a little rattled but fine none the less." Cortana replied.
"My systems appear to be functional Reclaimer." The monitor spoke.
"Commander, are you all right?" the Spartan spoke as he help her up and into the chair.
"I'm fine Chief, but I have to ask again, what happened?" she spoke.
"My guess is the energy beam though weakened still managed to hit us, if weren't for the Forerunner shields and armor we would be dead right now." The earthen A.I spoke.
"How is the ship?" she asked.
"The hull shows no signs of damage, the drive is in need of repairs from stress, there are some internal damage in certain sections, I have deployed Huragok to them and the drive, engines shows slight damage and misalignment sending constructors to correct damage, communications are down, ship efficiency down to 70% " the monitor spoke.
"Well it could have gone worse for us, Cortana check the star charts see where we are." The Commander ordered.
"Processing… interesting, it appears we are near gamma quadrant of the Sol System just 3 hours away from the outer rim." She asked.
"You mean were close to our solar system?" she asked hopeful.
"It would appear so." She replied.
"All right once the engines have been repaired we make for earth." She said.
4 hours later, near Pluto.
"We are now passing Pluto and nearing Neptune." John spoke.
"How are repairs coming along?" Keyes asked the monitor.
"Drive is 80% repaired, all internal damages have been dealt with, and communications will be reestablished in ten minutes, ship efficiency is now up to 95%" it replied.
"Thank you Redeeming." She spoke.
"Now passing Uranus." John said.
"What do you will happen now Chief?" Miranda asked, taking advantage of the peace after such a dangerous mission.
"I do not understand the question Commander." He replied as he looks at her through the visor of his helmet.
"Let's drop rank for a moment John, call me Miranda or Ms. Keyes and what I mean is what will you do now that the war is over?" she asked the man.
"I do not know Ms. Keyes, I assumed I shall do what is ordered of me by my superiors, I assume that there is much need of us to deal with the Loyalists, then there is most likely much unrest in the inner colonies due to the war." He spoke.
"Then when all of that is done, what do you plan to do afterwards?" she asked curious of what he planned.
"Either remain in the military or be discharged I suppose, there would not be much need for me and the surviving Spartans once peace has been established." He said.
"I see…but could you adapt to a civilian life?" she asked again wishing she could see his face to look at his reactions.
"I do not know, but I could try if that is expected of me." John replied though he did wonder if he could accomplish such a thing, he was in the military since his life as a Spartan began, to leave that behind would be quite strange for him.
"Communications have been reestablished." Redeeming cut in.
"Finally, contact HIGHCOM; inform them that we are alive and that the threat has been dealt with." The vessels acting captain said to Cortana.
"Understood, sending." She replied however after a few moments she frowned.
"I don't seem to be able to raise them on any channel, Commander." She said to them.
"Are the communications still damaged?" she asked not liking the implications.
"No, all read that we are transmitting fine, but I'm not picking up anything, in fact we are close to Jupiter I should be able to make contact with the Jovian spaceports, but nothing it's like it's not even there." She said as worry was starting to set in.
"Is the cloak available Redeeming?" she asked.
"Yes it is." It replied.
"I want engines at full once we are near Mars, engage cloak, something is definitely not right here." She said, John silently agreed with her.
Passing lunar orbit.
"We are now halfway point between the moon and in visual range of Earth." Cortana spoke.
"Put it on the monitor." Keyes said as she, John and the Monitor joined Cortana near her holo emitter.
"This is not good."
There on the monitor was Earth, but the differences told them much, Africa seemed untouched by the Covenant, there was no Cairo Station, no vessels flying around.
"What is going on here!" Miranda asked visibly unsettled.
"This doesn't make any sense, why is New Mombasa intact? And where is the station?" John added.
"Uh guys you're not going to believe this but I just hacked a communications satellite, that from the looks of things seems to be late 20th century make, and well, according to the date we are in the very start of the 2000's, meaning we were sent back 556 years in time." Cortana spoke.
"What! That's impossible how could we have travelled back in time?" The Commander now even more distressed, John didn't show it but he too did not like the implications of that.
"Actually I don't think we were just sent back in time." She added as her investigations showed her some startling facts.
"Are we in an alternate reality perhaps?" Redeeming asks though from the tone it doesn't seem like much of a question.
"He is right, take a look at the monitor." She said as images began to run.
"Cortana, please tell me that I'm not seeing what I think I'm seeing." She said not quite sure if the images are real or not.
"They are indeed real I'm afraid." She said as the images showed men and women fighting in colorful costumes against others, some seem to be flying under their own power, others firing beams of energy from their bare hands or eyes, lifting objects not even John could with the armor on by strength alone.
"Those are real life, honest to goodness superheroes and villains." Cortana said with no humor in her voice whatsoever.
The Commander summed up the situation in two words.
John concurred; they had stepped in it deep this time.
To be continued…Possibly