I've always loved the Dragon Age and Halo games, particularly for the universes that the developers have created for them; they're so creative, detailed and well thought-out, and for me how much I enjoy a game is influenced by how well its universe and setting are designed. I'm also a fan of certain types of cross-over stories which, when done right, I find quite enjoyable. When my over-active imagination was added to the equation, the idea for this story was born. After reading many great stories on this site, it felt right that I should contribute and give something back, thus I decided to turn my idea into a story.
While this story is a cross-over between two of my favourite game franchises, it will not be the type where both worlds are simply smashed together, mixing a great deal of both universes into one pot. I quite dislike those stories as, in my opinion, they are far too chaotic and keep me irritated with countless unanswered questions and emergent flaws that remain not dealt with. Instead I plan for this cross-over to be of the variety where a single specific element from one universe is introduced to the other, or more specifically, a Spartan is sent into the Dragon Age universe, in the setting of the second game. I find these types of stories easier to deal with and they provide more opportunity for certain themes to be explored, I find.
But before I go any further, I'd like to bring a couple things to your attention. Firstly, not only is this my first published story, it is also my first attempt at any sort of creative writing beyond mandatory junior high English-class assignments; it would be much appreciated if you kept this in mind when forming expectations or submitting any reviews you might wish to make. Secondly, a tremendous thanks goes out to Diabo, for without his kind support and encouragement, this story most likely would have been nothing more than an interesting, but unrealized, idea.
Disclaimer: The Halo and Dragon Age series belong to Microsoft (specifically, 343 Industries now) and BioWare respectively. I own nothing except my original character.
Word-count: 3 139
Explosions rocked the ship and gunfire and battle-cries, some human but most not, could be heard as Spartan-039-2 crept through a dark and confined service tunnel, slowly making his way towards the frigate's hangar. Just before the service tunnel opened up onto a main corridor, the Spartan IV came to a halt and, upon hearing most definitely inhuman voices ahead, activated the active camouflage system on his Mark III Semi-Powered Infiltration armour and peered out of the tunnel to survey the corridor; the camouflage on the newer Mark III functioned in the same manner as the Covenant's version during the Human-Covenant War. He caught sight of two brutes, three jackals, and about five or six grunts, along with a handful of dead marines, occupied the section of the corridor the marines were obviously defending. Since the corridor led directly to the hangar, the intruders would have to be eliminated, he concluded. Deciding that stealth would be the easiest way to do so, the Spartan withdrew and checked to make sure his outdated assault rifle was loaded and the silencer in place before attaching the weapon to the magnetic strips on his back; the new weapons based on particle-beam technology were more effective in combat, but the older weapons that still used powder and bullets were, when equipped with silencers, better suited to stealth than the new variants. He then drew one of his combat knives and crept back to the threshold where the service tunnel joined the main corridor.
Just as one of the jackals was passing by, the Spartan shot an arm out, grabbed it, and then slit its throat with the combat knife and pulled it back into the service tunnel all in one fluid motion, before darting ten metres across the corridor to hide behind a square vertical support beam. Thanks to his armour's active camouflage, he had remained unseen. He then sheathed his combat knife, drew an M6C/SOCOM silenced pistol and waited for one of the aliens to notice its comrade's disappearance.
Sure enough, another Jackal, noticing the small purple splatter of blood in front of the service tunnel entrance, drew its plasma pistol and began to make its way over. The Spartan took aim at the creature, which was now entering the tunnel and, as soon as it was out of sight from the rest of its allies, shot it in the back of the head. One more down. He then crept around the back of the pillar and peered around to the other side of the corridor.
Most of the grunts were clustered at the far end, one brute was making its way over to the service tunnel, and the other brute and remaining jackal were about halfway between the advancing brute and the grunts. All were now aware of a threat present and had their weapons drawn. He would need to act quickly.
The Spartan replaced his pistol with a frag grenade and combat knife and waited for an opportune moment to strike. Just before the first brute turned his back to the Spartan to face the service tunnel entrance, the Spartan lobbed the grenade into the group of grunts. It exploded and took out four just as he leapt onto the back of the first brute and reached around and jammed his knife into its throat, ripping it out sideways and using the rapidly dying creature as a meat shield against the other brute, jackal, and remaining grunts who had now noticed the soldier and had opened fire.
As soon as there was a brief lull in the enemy fire, the Spartan de-cloaked, dropped the now-mutilated corpse and, noticing that the other brute made to charge after him, fled back into the dark service tunnel. He only took a few steps before he squeezed himself into a small recess in the tunnel, flattened his back to the wall, re-cloaked, and drew another combat knife as he waited for the charging brute to pass by.
Predictably, the brute ran past the small alcove without noticing the Spartan, thanks to his active camouflage and the near-darkness of the tunnel. As soon as the brute passed him, he ran after and tackled the larger creature to the ground. The brute roared in pain as he stabbed it in the back multiple times with each knife. The Spartan proceeded to wipe his knives clean on the alien's fur as it died before sheathing them and pulling out his assault rifle. That left two grunts and a single Jackal.
Preparing himself, Spartan-039-2 leapt back out of the service tunnel, de-cloaked, and charged across the blood-soaked corridor towards the remaining enemies. Two short, silent bursts from his assault rifle and the jackal and first grunt were down before they could get a shot off. The last grunt brought his plasma pistol to bear, but was too late as the Spartan, who had by now covered the distance to the grunt, cracked the butt of his weapon against the grunt's skull, easily caving it in thanks to his enhanced strength and thus killing the small creature.
With all enemies blocking his path eliminated, the super-soldier continued onwards to the hangar.
The Spartan sighed in annoyance. What was supposed to be a simple mission had turned into a nightmare. A Forerunner artifact, a strange crystal roughly the size of a football, had been discovered in one of the Outer Colonies and was taken to a UNSC-operated science outpost on the same world for study. Unfortunately, this was around the same time the local Insurrectionists began acting up, and a raid on the outpost took place shortly after the discovery, resulting in the crystal being stolen. The objective of Spartan-039-2's mission was to infiltrate the Insurrectionist facility that the crystal had been taken to and to recover the valuable artifact. Due to the significance of the crystal as a possible means of advancing human technology further, stealth was required rather than raw power and thus the Spartan had been equipped with the Mark III SPI armour rather than his usual Mjolnir Mark VIII powered assault armour.
Once the crystal had been safely recovered, the plan was to deliver it to a facility on one of the more secure Inner Colonies. The problem with plans, however, is that they rarely work perfectly. Spartan-039-2 had successfully recovered the crystal and exfiltrated back to the frigate. But just as the ship was about to transition to slipspace to make the jump back to the Inner Colonies, a battle group of what appeared to be Covenant Remnants emerged from slipspace and attacked the ship. The timing of their arrival seemed almost spiteful. However, instead of trying to destroy the human frigate with their superior numbers, they instead took out the frigate's engines and sent wave after wave of boarding parties to break into the ship. The Spartan could only assume that they were intent on snatching the crystal for themselves.
But the mission wasn't a failure yet; the captain still had a plan, one last-ditch attempt to transport the crystal to safety. The Spartan was ordered to make his way, with the crystal, to the lone Pelican drop ship in the main hangar. There he would receive further instructions from the captain.
After making his way through a series of thankfully empty corridors, the Spartan passed through a set of blast doors and onto the relatively large elevator that led to the different levels of the main hangar. Walking over to the holographic interface, the Spartan selected the bottommost level of the hangar, where the dropships, ground and atmospheric vehicles were stored. The lift sprang to life immediately after the blast doors sealed shut and quickly but quietly descended the numerous levels of the hangar; within seconds the Spartan had reached the "ground" floor.
The blast doors slid open to reveal a large rectangular room large enough to house about fifteen or so pelicans that would normally be attached to the ceiling side by side via docking clamps, while still affording plenty of room for a small fleet of ground vehicles that would sit on the floor. However, the large hangar was completely empty, save for a lone matte-black pelican resting on the floor on the far side of the room, which the Spartan proceeded towards.
The super-soldier circled around to the back of the dropship, punched in a code on a keypad next to the hatch, and entered the vehicle as soon as the doors slid open. It must have been one of the newer models, he noted, as the pilot's and co-pilot's seats were positioned next to each other, reverting back to the original design of the dropship. He removed the crystal, in its magnetic carrier harness, from the small of his back and placed it on the co-pilots seat while he took a seat in the pilot's chair and awaited contact from the bridge. He didn't have to wait long before the radio in his suits com systems crackled to life.
"This is Captain Moreau, we've been tracking your progress, Spartan; well done. The Covenant Remnants have disabled our engines and until we can bring them online we're basically sitting ducks. But our slipspace drive is still functional. The plan is to use it to tear a hole in front of the ship but instead of the frigate going through, you and your pelican will. We've uploaded slipspace coordinates to one of the neighbouring Outer Colonies to your pelican and as soon as you reach those coordinates, you'll transition back to normal space in much the same manner as the long range stealth orbital insertion pods. From there you'll transfer ships and deliver the crystal to the Office of Naval Intelligence headquarters in new Alexandria, on Reach. Do you understand, Spartan?"
"Sir, yes sir," answered Spartan-039-2 in his deep, resonant voice.
"Good. Ready your pelican; we'll be opening the door shortly. Good luck, Spartan."
His new orders received, the Spartan IV keyed in the ignition code for the pelican which gently rumbled to life and began hovering just above the floor of the hangar. Sure enough, the atmosphere from the hangar was vented and a rectangular segment of the hangar floor beneath the dropship began swiveling downwards. As soon as there was sufficient space to manoeuvre, the Spartan dropped the pelican through the hatch and into the black void of space.
Although, truthfully, the space outside the frigate was anything but empty. Chaotic would perhaps be a better description, as a fierce battle raged on between Covenant Remnants and the UNSC frigate. Starfighters of both sides smashed each other to pieces, exploding like brilliant orange and blue fireworks and showering the area with debris. Boarding craft were split open before they reached their intended target, spewing their "cargo" and floating adrift, almost resembling a dead creature. Streaks of plasma, shot from the Covenant's ship-mounted cannons, bathed the area in bright flashes of blue. There was a strange, detached sort of beauty to all the destruction, if one could somehow overlook the fact that people were dying over a small crystal.
But Spartan-039-2 had been given his orders and had no time to spare for finding beauty in chaos. He plotted a course along the bottom of the immobilized frigate to avoid getting sucked into the dogfight that was raging on between the frigate and Covenant vessels and was soon joined by an escort of two Sabre class starfighters. Most of the Covenant fighters left the pelican alone but the occasional few that tried to intercept the Spartan were quickly destroyed by the coordinated fire of the two Sabre escorts.
As Spartan-039-2 and his escorts neared the front of the frigate, the space directly in front of the tip of the frigate began to shimmer, distorting the light that passed by in almost the same manner as hot air over an open fire. The magnitude of distortion increased as bolts of electricity arced around the area. Then suddenly there was a bright flash as the portal to slipspace was opened, appearing as a pitch black orb through which no visible light emerged, rimmed by bright blue energy that also snaked across the surface of the portal in tendrils resembling lightning.
As soon as the portal opened, the Spartan piloted the pelican straight towards it while the two Sabres that had been escorting him broke away from the dropship to re-engage the enemy fighters. As the pelican made contact with the portal, the blue energy surrounding it began to envelope the dropship, encasing it and gently drawing it inwards. The portal quickly deteriorated shortly after the Spartan crossed the threshold, sealing him in slipspace until he reached the coordinates of the colony he was to transfer ships at.
Unlike normal space, slipspace appeared pitch black. This was due to the fact that in slipspace, there was nothing that produced light, not in the visible spectrum at any rate; there were no suns, no stars, and usually the only matter that existed in slipspace were ships that utilize it for faster-than-light transportation.
Also different was the incredibly bumpy ride that the pelican was experiencing. The dropship was jostled so hard it was almost as if it were a plane flying through an area of extreme turbulence. In fact, Spartan-039-2 had to strap himself in with the restraining harness in the pilot's chair to keep from being thrown out of his seat. But this was explained by the fact that in slipspace, instead of travelling in a smooth, three-dimensional environment, ships were actually traversing a set of eleven dimensions all tangled up and flowing over each other, sort of like a crumpled up wad of paper. The immense mass of starships stabilizes the surrounding slipspace to a degree, however smaller ships, such as dropships, experience considerably more stress due to their lighter mass. Thankfully, the newer variants of the pelican dropships had upgraded armour plating and increased reinforcement.
As a result of both the relatively short distance between the colony worlds the Spartan was travelling between, and technological advancements in slipspace technology since the Human-Covenant War, the trip would only take about an hour.
Although, after a little while, the soldier noticed something odd: the crystal, which he had to hold onto to keep from bouncing around the cockpit, had started to glow, emitting a pale white light. And yet more interestingly, the closer he got to his destination, the brighter and more intense the light grew. How strange; the crystal wasn't doing anything like this before the jump to slipspace. Although it certainly wasn't unheard of for Forerunner artifacts to behave differently in slipspace. But did it mean anything? Was the crystal doing something? Or was it merely as simple as an object reacting to different laws of physics in some odd way? In the Spartan's extensive experience, though, things were rarely as simple as they seemed.
As the pelican was arriving at the coordinates, the crystal was shining almost as bright as a small flare and practically hummed with innate energy. Only the helmet's polarized visor kept the light from overloading the Spartan's sensitive eyes. A hole to normal space was now being opened and as the pelican made contact with the portal, the crystal released a small shockwave of some sort of energy that reverberated throughout the dropship before dissipating; it also stopped its emission of light and grew dark once more.
But something was wrong. Instead of being gently drawn into the portal, as it was when entering slipspace, the pelican was forcefully and violently ejected across the threshold, and then promptly shut down once in normal space. Had the crystal released an EMP burst? With the dropship's systems offline, Spartan-039-2 would not only be unable to travel, but would also be unable to communicate to other ships in the area that he was immobilized. He would be paralyzed until the pelican's systems came back online. This was not good, at all.
And to complicate matters even further, it appeared that instead of reappearing in orbit around the planet, the portal had actually spit the dropship out into the upper regions of the planet's atmosphere. Combined with the fact that the dropship had just been disabled, this meant that the Spartan had effectively just been thrown into a free fall. Why couldn't anything ever go according to plan?
Peering out of the cockpit's windows, Spartan-039-2 could make out a large landmass far below that appeared to have vegetation similar to Earth's or Reach's. There were large islands off one of the coasts, ocean off another that appeared to worm its way into the continent, forming a long narrow sea. Without knowing the directions of the poles of the planet, the Spartan didn't really have any indication of direction to work with. Thought at least he appeared to be plummeting towards this land mass, rather than into the open oceans.
Refocusing his attention to the dropship, the Spartan frantically attempted to bring the engines back online. The controls, however, remained unresponsive. Cursing, he tried again, only to be met once more with silence from the dropship. A third attempt was met with further failure. Glancing outside, he noted that the pelican had already fallen below cloud level and appeared to be heading for a mountainous region by the coast of that long narrow sea. Time was very rapidly running out.
The pelican was plunging to the surface of the planet at a downwards angle and the nose section in which the cockpit was located would be the first part of the dropship to smash into the ground. But perhaps the dropship would crumple or buckle in such a manner that the troop bay, located further back, would experience somewhat of a cushioning effect to reduce the force of the impact. Perhaps. The odds of survival couldn't be worse than in the cockpit.
Not wasting what precious little time he had left, Spartan-039-2 made his way out of the cockpit into the troop bay, strapping himself into the furthest back seat, no easy feat considering he had to fight against gravity due to the angle at which the dropship was plummeting to the ground.
Each moment before the pelican finally hit the ground seemed to last for a dreadfully long time, due to the Spartan's enhanced nervous system and the adrenaline surging through his body. For one painfully long stretch of time, he dreaded the inevitable. For another seemingly interminable moment, he raged at his inability to alter the situation any further.
And then the dropship met the ground.
For a split second, he recalled slamming his head into a bulkhead with tremendous force, and was aware of a sharp pain in his lower abdomen that burned as hot and as bright as a star before darkness overtook him.
Then there was nothing.
And there's the first chapter. I hope it wasn't too bad. To those who either are unfamiliar with the Halo universe or didn't catch the hint(s), in relation to the time line of the Halo universe, the events of this chapter are set in the future. (Though "future" is a relative term and depends on the meaning of "present," so let us define "present" as the end of the Human-Covenant War, or in other words, the point in the Halo time line at which the story in Halo 3 is concluded.) But in future chapters this relation will be irrelevant since my character is now in the Dragon Age universe (and because the flow of time in one universe is independent of the flow of time in another).
Also, you may have noticed that I hardly described my character. The reason for this is that I'd prefer to do it from the point of view of the Dragon Age characters, some of whom he will meet in the next chapter. In terms of physical ability, I plan on my character being more or less equal to Spartan-II commandos without their Mjolnir power armour (which further enhances their abilities for those of you who didn't know).
I would like to get the second chapter out before my fall term at university begins, a week and a half from now; but, perhaps because I'm a new writer, writing doesn't actually come easily to me, so it will take time and I can't promise anything.
And with that, I'm off!