AN: Here it is! The second story in the Endwar saga. I hope you enjoy, because things are going to race by really quickly.
DISCLAIMER: I do not own Halo or Star Wars. Those rights belong to Bungie (343 Industries) and LucasArts. Any character(s) or object(s) not included in each company's respective sagas are mine. The rest are theirs.
1030 hours, May 14, 2576 (Military Calendar) \ unknown coordinates…
The Fleet of Impassioned Vengeance.
The last known remnant of the once-mighty Covenant hegemony. Comprised mostly of CCS-class battlecruisers, assault carriers, and corvettes, the fleet was a far cry from the majestic display of naval power of the former Covenant empire. One thing, however, reminded the dispassionate thousands sheltered inside the fleet of their old strength.
The Covenant Supercarrier Unmerciful Fist.
Two bulbous sections divided at the midsection, the prow ending in a curving hook. A steel-like metallic color different from the lavender sheen of the other ships. Gigantic, to say the least. A craft so overwhelming that not even a UNSC fleet could withstand its weaponry.
In this ship sat the High Triumvirate.
The Prophet of Reclamation pondered silently, wrinkled palm resting against his jutted chin. Dressed in elaborate robes fitting for a ruler of his status, he was the only San 'Shyuum worthy of the title of Highest Prophet. His cunning among the former Council earned him renown, yet he still could do nothing to prevent the downfall of the Covenant. He had many years to recuperate, however. Reclining on his ornate hover chair, he felt like he had all the time in the world.
"The wheel of time is turning ever faster," the Prophet of Enlightenment croaked beside him, purple skin sagging around his elongated neck. Being the most curious of the three, he would often make prophetic comments like this. "The events that have been foretold are approaching."
"Yet, my brother," The Prophet of Retribution wheezed harshly, chiding the other with a single mottled finger. He considered himself the strongest and most zealous of the High Triumvirate, and his sudden bouts of fury and violence accounted to that. "Our enemies wish to halt the Great Journey in its inevitable advance. We must crush them as they did us. Only then will our vengeance be enacted."
"Patience, fellow Prophets," Reclamation interjected, voice silky and smooth. He continued to stare out into space from the domed observation deck, mind churning in thought. "It is a virtue that should be treasured. One of you wished to stand by and wait for the Great Journey to commence, the other wishes to speed it using our own methods."
He swerved his decorated throne so he was facing the silent duo.
"I support both propositions. We must wait patiently for the glorious end, but also strive to reach it. It is a paradox, one in many during our fleeting lives. But the great Forerunners willed it, so we must follow it."
"How will we act?" Retribution asked fervently, laboriously leaning forward to catch the attention of his leader. "What shall we do to break the spines of our hated foes?"
During this moment, the main hatch opened, and a massive Jiralhanae clad in intricate crimson battle armor walked in the room. A polished headpiece covered most of his upper skull, curving down his temples and ending at hooked tips around his carefully groomed beard. The high-ranking Jiralhanae bowed in submission in front of the Prophets.
"Blessed Triumvirate," he recited, careful not to meet his eyes with theirs. "I bring good tidings from our loyal brother among the enemy."
"Rise, Alarus." Reclamation ordered.
The Jiralhanae Army Commander did so, standing proudly in his armor.
"Tell us what you have heard." Enlightenment said.
"Honored Prophets," he said, deep voice so low and scratchy it was almost a growl. "Our pack brother, who is masquerading as a friend of the traitors, has sent us the coordinates of the Holy Relic."
"The revered Gate World?" Retribution hacked delightedly.
"The very same, honored one."
"This is excellent news, Alarus," Reclamation said. "You are a most valuable asset indeed. Prepare the fleet, Commander."
"For invasion, exalted one?" Alarus inquired, although he already knew the answer. His blood sang for combat, and he relished the thought of doing battle with the Sangheili and humans once more.
Alarus bowed and strode out of the Chamber, thinking excitedly of blood and battle.
"So it begins, my brothers…" Reclamation drawled, leaning back in his chair.
"War has finally come," Retribution cried weakly, slamming a feeble fist on the armrest of the throne. "It is time for this fleet to live up to its name!"
"The blood of our enemies will stain the ground once more, and the Great Journey will begin its fated transcendence."
"No longer will we wait in the shadows," Reclamation whispered. "No longer shall we wallow in the sea of self-pity that has drenched us."
His brothers agreed, nodding their heads passionately in silent approval.
"When fire, ash, and glass consume the souls of our enemies," they said in ardent unison. "The Covenant shall reign again."
1030 hours, May 14, 2576 (Military Calendar) \ Core Worlds, Coruscant, Supreme Chancellor's Chambers
"So," Chancellor Palpatine said. "The prophets begin their strike."
He exhaled, resting against his plush leather seat. Events had unfurled like a curtain, falling exactly where he had willed them to go. The UNSC and CAS were gaining public approval, sure, but all that would come to an end. He would make sure of it.
The holoprojector placed in front of him on the surface of his desk beeped, and the immaculate figure of Darth Tyrannus materialized into view. His digitalized form shifted spasmodically, a result of bad signaling and the heavy amounts of electronic obstructions put into place to keep out prying eyes. Palpatine straightened, demeanor transitioning from relaxed to serious.
"What is it, Tyrannus?" he asked, voice lowered to a sinister croak.
"My lord, the preparations are almost complete. OPERATION: FIST is in its finishing stages."
"And the Spartan?"
"He barely made it through. I must say, these warriors are of the toughest breed. He lasted at least twelve hours under the surgical procedures until he blacked out."
"I trust that you did not use anesthesia?"
"Of course not."
"Good," Palpatine smirked. "He will have experienced so much pain that his human mind will fold under the pressure. We will then remold him; make him ours. This "Reese" will be key to completing the project."
A sudden squawk burst from the hologram, dispersing the Count from bodily form then rematerializing.
"Hurry, Dooku. I sense the work of their infernal AIs."
"The Prophets are beginning their attack on Sector 01 as we speak. Our contact is approaching the Slipspace Activation Chamber, as we commanded. Soon, we will have powerful allies with us."
"It is not enough, I'm afraid. Our enemies our too strong even for the Confederacy's power. We must rely on our superior numbers until my plan comes into fruition. Then, and only then, will our empire rule."
"Very well. Tyrannus out."
His form dematerialized, and Palpatine crushed the tiny holopad with a clenched fist. All traces of their conversation were soon eradicated by the security software and AIs. He chuckled to himself, gathering his luxurious cloak about his pale body. Everything was coming together just as he had anticipated. He stood and faced the observation window, staring hard at the Jedi Temple in the distance.
"Soon, Jedi, you will all be dead." he whispered. "Then the Sith shall have their revenge."
1100 hours, May 14, 2576 (Military Calendar) \ Sector 01
They came silently and swiftly, like sharks from beneath the depths of the sea.
They came with their sleek, bulbous ships, bringing fiery retribution down to the ambushed people below.
Forests were scorched to cinders, entire lakes vaporized to a wispy mist, and buildings obliterated.
Paradisio, the city under construction, was burned to the ground. The plan for a city so grand it would top even Sanghelious, was wiped away like a stain. Countless thousands died under the inferno of glass and heat, reminiscent of the Great War from years ago. The Defense Fleet, taken by surprise, rushed to the planet's defense.
They were crushed. The floating hulks of dead UNSC and CAS carriers, frigates, and destroyers drifted miserably in the heated atmosphere of the Gate World, sorely outnumbered and outgunned.
Jiralhanae Major Kartanus crouched beneath the shadows, dark beady eyes scanning the hectic Activation Room with determined patience. Adjusting his blue Power armor around his muscular, squat, and thickly furred body, he stepped out from behind the pillar.
"Kartanus!" one of the pack traitors called, covering his head from the rocks and debris that fell from the cracked ceiling. "They have ordered us to halt the beachfront advance! Come!"
"I do not obey your orders anymore, traitor." Kartanus growled, withdrawing his Spiker from his waist belt.
Curling a lip in mad satisfaction, he fired.
The glowing shards of needle-like projectiles raced across the room, hitting the other Jiralhanae's large chest. His shields brightened then depleted; the Brute Captain Ultra's eyes widened in surprise, then fury. By then, however, it was too late.
The Jiralhanae fell, body torn and bloody from the Spiker shots. Kartanus smirked and kicked the body with contempt. True, the captain had been fair, but his treachery to the Covenant was just too much.
Kartanus sprinted down the chaotic room, avoiding falling debris as he went. Soon, he heard the sound of gunfire and the whir of bullets as they trailed the Covenant spy in pursuit. The snarls of a Brute pack followed close behind, close enough he could feel their hot breath hit the back of his neck.
Giving a final roar, he leapt and grabbed the closest human he could find, a pale-faced young man wearing a ballistic helmet two times his size. Snapping the unfortunate man's neck, he grunted and slammed the human's open but limp palm down to the Coding Panel on the obelisk.
Kartanus dropped the dead human and turned, firing his Spiker with zealous rage.
"Long live the Covenant!"
A grizzly looking man in combat fatigues approached him, a cast slung around one arm and a metal brace supporting his torso. His wide, brown eyes shone with malicious hatred as he threw his assault rifle to the ground and flexed both his wiry, muscular arms.
"That boy served in my platoon, traitor." the man spoke, quivering voice barely a whisper. "I'll kill you with my bare hands…"
"You will try, puny human!" Kartanus barked. "The soldiers of the Covenant are the-"
The Marine charged the gloating Jiralhanae, wrapping both his arms around his wide midsection. Kartanus grunted in mild surprise but recovered, hammering the man with both his fists. The human male roared in pain and fury and let go, unsheathing a shining combat knife from its scabbard. Kartanus opened his mouth in challenge, not expecting that the act would prove to be his downfall.
First Sergeant Holloway jammed the serrated knife into the Brute's open maw, earning a choked whimper of pain and shock.
"That's for humanity, bastard." The veteran snarled, twisting the blade forcefully.
Kartanus gurgled blood, moving his eyes up to the cracked open ceiling. The faint, purple-blue underside of a Covenant cruiser filled the open space. He lifted a weak arm, as if to try to grasp the ship from where he lay.
Holloway pushed the arm down with open contempt and wrenched the knife free from the Jiralhanae's face. The Brute made a quiet noise then went still.
Holloway gasped, trying unsuccessfully to stand. A pack of Brutes raced over to him, propping him up with their strong limbs.
"You fought with the strength of ten of us, Sergeant Holloway," one of the Brute Minors remarked, a little begrudgingly. "The Jiralhanae shall sing of your courage one day."
"Yeah, yeah." Holloway breathed, waving a flaccid hand. "That's good and all, but we've got a big problem."
He pulled away from the primate-like aliens' grip, eyes focused on the gigantic portal that had formed above the planet. Covenant after Covenant were being dragged into the azure vortex, followed closely by the newly arrived 117th Fleet. As the portal closed, he sighed.
"This war just got a whole lot more complicated."
AN: How'd you like it? It wasn't my best, I can tell you that. It'll have to do for the meantime. Anyways, feedback and constructively criticize. R&R!
P.S: Who's excited for Halo 1 Anniversary (November 2011) and Halo 4 (Holiday 2012)? I know I am!
FOREVER REMAIN ETCHED IN DIAMOND