A/N: This is my take on what happens two-hundered years after the Halo event and is my first time playing around in the wonderful universe created for us.
As of yet I do not have a beta reader, but if anybody knows a good Halo beta that would be awesome and much welcome.
Disclaimer: I do know own Halo or the associated people and places. Jet, Roe, the Sgt, Slip and all of them are mine.
The two ships hung in space, silently orbiting an unknown planet covered in glyphs. The remains of the Forward Unto Dawn were dark, no signs of life anywhere to be seen. Across from the leviathan a smaller, sleeker vessel waited patiently. On her deck stood the ship's captain, arms held behind his back he gazed impassively out the viewpoint. To his left, the ship AI, Slip, sat cross legged on his hologram pedestal. Data streamed along his light blue, uniformed shape.
"Scans are showing no life signs, as was expected, Sir. But, if the cryo is still up and running, even on minimum power, there could easily be someone alive down there. Either way, it's a gamble."
The captain nodded without looking over at Slip. He was in awe at the sight of the great ship before them, even in her damaged shape, the Dawn was something to behold. "Over two-hundred years ago that ship was fighting to save our entire species. And now we've found her again with the aid of beings that were once our enemies. That's a lot to take in, the irony never escapes me."
Slip remained seated, he had no answer to that comment, he often didn't understand the captain when he got sentimental, which was often. He ran through the files of the Human-Covenant War that he had access to, and a few that he didn't, to match the captain's words to records.
"Sir, records indicate that the last known location of the Dawn was a Halo ring. The Arbiter and Master Chief escaped in this ship, but only the Arbiter returned. Spartan 117 is listed as MIA and-"
The captain cut the AI off with a wave of his hand. "I know my history Slip, thank you." He then turned to a Marine who was standing guard by the doorway. "Sergeant!"
The woman snapped to attention, "Sir!"
"Gather together a Recovery Team. I want you to go over to the Dawn and see if there isn't anything worth saving. Recover the records from the computer and bring them back."
The woman nodded and gave a crisp salute once more before turning and strolling purposefully away. As she walked she spoke into the radio on her helmet. "Jet, Roe, I need you down at Hanger Bay Four, now. "
There was a chorus of affirmations from the two soldiers, both eager to get off the cramped quarters of the Alliance. The sergeant made her own way to the hanger, passing human and Elite personnel on her way there. She had to bob and weave a line through the horde. While passing a connecting corridor she caught a blur out of her right eye, before she could react to it, she felt as if she had been plowed into by a truck. The marine was thrown off her feet and into a passing engineer.
The both of them were sprawled across the floor and each other rubbing their heads. "Goddamn!" sputtered the Sergeant, "What the hell were you-" She stopped midsentence. Towering above her and the engineer was an Elite, the commander of the separatist forces on the Alliance and descendant of the last Arbiter. Even two-hundred years could not fully heal the rift between their two species.
She and the engineer remained where they had landed in a heap, not daring to move. Though the rational part of her mind told the Sergeant that A'Avar was just another soldier, that he was on their side, she listened instead to her instincts which told her that maybe if she didn't move, her enemy wouldn't kill her.
"Where are you going in such a hurry? Off to find more artifacts for the UNSC?" He watched her curiously, obviously amused at her devotion to her work.
The woman sighed, the Elite crewmembers did not usually share her enthusiasm for Archeology; none of the crew did for that matter. The only two that came even close were Jet and Roe; they would follow her to the very depths of hell if she asked them to. At least she thought they would.
In an attempt to regain her composure, the Sergeant pushed herself to her feet and drew herself to her full height of six foot two. Even then she barely came to the alien's shoulder. The engineer, obviously still shaken, took the opportunity to beat a hasty retreat.
"You know as well as me, both our higher-ups want to bring back all that we can of this stuff. There's so much shit laying around-"
A'Avar cut her off with a click of his mandibles and a deep throaty sound that she recognized as a laugh. "You should have been an archiver instead of a soldier; you would have been very good at it." He paused for a moment, thinking. "I will accompany you to the ship, There is no telling what treasures may be found. This is the ship the Demon was on, is it not?" His deep voice held a great deal of some emotion the marine couldn't place.
The soldier nodded, "But I wouldn't get my hopes up, almost everything else we find is dead, and this looks just the same."
With the imposing figure of the Elite at her side, the Sergeant made her way to the hanger, Jet and Roe were already standing by the Pelican and at their feet was an assembly of weapons they had obviously snatched away from the quartermaster in a hurry.
Jet smiled upon seeing her, a big toothy grin. "We took the liberty of getting everything ready.
Roe nodded at his brother's words, "Sorry we didn't grab any Covie weapons A'Avar, we didn't know you were coming too.
The Elite shrugged one massive shoulder, choosing to ignore the comment about him being a "Covie". "It is of no matter. He patted the plasma pistol slung low on his thigh, and gestured to the needle rifle on his back. At his waist was a collection of grenades and a drop-shield. "I anticipated your mission."
That settled the matter, the humans loaded themselves up with firearms and grenades. They all carried plasma and frag grenades along with a magnum, but aside from that, each marine had personal preferences for secondary weapons.
Jet favored the shotgun and assault rifle, considering himself a good enough shot with the pistol. And if that failed, well, a good grenade toss or two would take care of anything that was left. Roe chose an assault and DMR out of the pile as he was an expert marksman, while the Sergeant preferred a battle and assault.
"I don't see much use of a sniper in a ship Ma'am," Roe explained the absence of his truly favorite firearm, "We won't be far away enough from anything that wants to kill us to allow me a good clean shot."
The sergeant just shrugged. "You two work well in a team."
Once satisfied that her troops were ready, the Sergeant directed them onto the waiting Pelican where they took seats and strapped themselves in. The pilot, an older marine with slightly graying hair, waved to them from his spot. She returned the wave with a thumbs-up, and with a nod the pilot returned to his seat upfront and took them out into open space to make the short trip to the Forward Unto Dawn.
Jet kept up a steady stream of chatter, their way of hiding his nervousness, the woman knew. Judging from the tone she figured he was contemplating what they might find on the ship. Nobody though, voiced the one thought that was on all their minds: Would he be there? The unasked question left a heavy atmosphere.
The talking stopped when the Pelican neared the drop point. There was a huge gaping maw in the side of the dead ship, cables and sheets of metal hung from it, their jagged edges reaching out to the smaller ship is if tentacles trying to draw it in. Some debris floated around the leviathan, creating a miniature asteroid field to navigate through causing the Sergeant to wish, not for the first time that there was some sort of window or viewport for her to see out of. The deck vibrated up through their heavy boots as the Pelican settled into the hanger. The pilot's voice buzzed over their radios. "Sensors show no air in here. Your suits have one hour of air. Make sure you're back here before then." There was a pause before his voice came back, "Thank you for flying Air Marine!" Then with a click he was gone from the radios.
"You all heard the guy. Pressurize suits and move out." The Sarge then turned to A'Avar; his armor wouldn't be enough to protect him.
"Don't worry. Look to your men and I will stay here. I'll keep an eye on the computer and watch for danger." That was his usual job anyway, to monitor the marines and be a back-up in case they needed it. Every drop-ship now carried extra-vehicular suits for Separatists that accompanied the recovery teams.
With a grateful nod she turned and left with Jet and Roe on her heels. There were no lights anywhere of any sort; the soft glow the planet gave off did not penetrate far into the ship, so they instead turned on their helmet lights. The beams broke up the darkness, casting shadows along every surface.
The three soldiers felt like they were entering a tomb, not a single sound carried in the vacuum. "Where to Boss?" Jet's soft voice crackled over her radio.
"First priority is the cryo, see if anybody is down there. If they are, then it will be much easier to get the computer running long enough to get the information we came for if they could give us the codes to get in." Again the unasked question hung in the air, making the silence more profound.
Roe pulled up the layout of the ship on his HUD, after a moment of studying the map he pointed down a corridor to the right. "Cryo's that way ma'am, twenty meters then we have to go up. There is an old service elevator there, not running of course." He shrugged, "Shouldn't give us any trouble, in zero G all we have to do is float up the shaft, disengage magnets on our boots and up we go."
The Sergeant nodded in his general direction, "Up the shaft it is."
"Bow chicka wow-wow."
Coming from the helmet radio, she wasn't sure exactly who it was that made the comment, but the sergeant's money was on Jet. He could be so immature. The marines carefully worked their way to the elevator, reporting in on nearly everything they passed, not that there was a lot, most of the contents of the hanger and corridors had ended up outside.
Once the recovery team made it to the elevator, they took a moment to be sure the way up was clear of obstacles, which it was, and then another two or three to be sure it was stabilized, it would hold. The marines slowly worked their way up by moving hand over hand while allowing their legs to dangle free.
"Recovery Alpha, how are you making out? Contact?" the thick walls of the ship and its insulation broke up the message, it sounded more like: "Ho- you-king-lpha-tact?"
"Come again A'Avar. Repeat: Come again."
This time the message was clear. Upon hearing it the sergeant smiled behind her helmet, she and the others were standing in the doorway of the cryochamber. Seventeen pods were lined up along the corridor, some with a small pedestal for the hologram form of an AI to stand upon outside.
"Jet, run a scan, see if one of these is running on any kind of power."
"Roger." The young man pulled a small datapad from an outer pocket and flipping on the power, readied it. Moving to the middle of the long corridor he paused and turned slowly in a full circle, the pad remained silent. "Nope, nada, nothing. This is a dead ship Sarge. With no power like this, given a few more years her orbit will collapse completely and she'll fall into the atmosphere and burn up. Look." He turned the pad to face them; on the screen was a chart of the Dawn's orbit over the hundred years.
Roe and the sergeant nodded, she took a breath. "Well, I guess we check them all one by one and if we find something…then we'll all be attending a funeral."
The twins nodded solemnly, they understood. It was gruesome business, but that came with being part of a recovery team. There had been a war; people had died, two hundred years later they were left to clean up the results. Sometimes they found somebody still alive in cryo, but more often than not, the recovery teams were collecting dog tags. Back at UNSC HQ there was a huge display case where the collected dog tags were hung, under each one was a small plaque where the name and age of each soldier was given, along with other information that they found fit to disclose.
They always used to say that a Spartan never dies, they're just missing in action, the recovery teams knew better. Following beacons on their armor, more than half of the missing super-soldiers had been found. The UNSC had a special section for those dog tags, in a smaller display case, away from the public eye. Many spaces were still unfilled.
The three marines slowly made their way along the row of cryo tubes. Each time they got to one, they formed a semi-circle around it, holding their breath as Jet opened it with a hiss. As each pod would turn out to be empty, they allowed their breath to hiss out between their teeth. It was slow work making their way down the line.
"Recovery Alpha, what is your status?" the voice of the Captain crackled over the radios.
"Slow, Sir. We've made our way to cryo." The sergeant gestured for her soldiers to keep working while she held the conversation.
"Have you found anything?"
"Negative Sir. At least not yet, there is no power as I am sure Slip made you aware. Each pod has to be opened manually."
There was an audible sigh on the other end before he continued. "Alright. When you're done, make your way to the bridge. We still need those records from the computer. There should have been an AI chip in the main computer, bring that back and I'll have the techies see what they can make of it.
In her helmet the sergeant nodded, of course he couldn't see, but before she could open her mouth to answer, her speaker were assaulted with the combined shouts and curses of the twins.
"Get it off me! What the hell is it?"
Surprised by the sudden noise, and not expecting for them to have found anything, she was halfway to ripping off her helmet at the cacophony before stopping herself.
"Sergeant? What is going on down there?" the captain again, he must have heard.
"I don't know, but I'll find out." She turned and made her way down the corridor of open pods as quickly as she could. The sight that met her eyes though, made her stop in her tracks.
Jet and Roe were standing in front of the last cryotube in the row. Roe was bent almost double, dwarfed by something he was attempting to hold up. It must have fallen out of the tube when they opened it. She squinted her eyes, trying vainly to see what it could be. Whatever the thing was, it was a lot larger than the young marine.
Cautiously the sergeant moved in, her light inching towards the group. When she was within range, the beam fell on them. Roe finally was able to move out from under his load, huffing at the effort. With no gravity, there was no "clank" as it did not strike the ground. Instead, it just floated innocently where it was deposited.
At least, the sergeant assumed it was an "it". Until her helmet light fell upon an orange visor.