Orbit

Far above the drama currently playing out within the embattled town of Borger, a strange ship hovered motionless in the outer reaches of the planet. Strange for the planet's inhabitants perhaps, but for Peter-B312 the shape would have been the easily recognizable figure of a Phoenix-class colony ship, its blocky frame shadowed by the mass of the world looming over it.

Inside the bridge of the UNSC Colorado, a single man stood pacing the deck, hands clasped behind his back and deep in thought. His graying hair and worry-lined face only served to heighten his nervous expression as he turned toward the comms officer. "Any signal from him yet?"

"Negetive, Sir. I'm not picking up any life sign readings or radio chatter from Noble Six. I'm sorry, but the energy wavelengths radiating from the planet's surface are really messing up our long-range communications equipment; being this high up in orbit is scrambling any kind of signals we could be getting from him. Unless we bring the Colorado closer to the surface…"

"I know that, but I don't want to risk exposure to the population unless we've got no choice. Boost the power to the array and expand the scans to 500 meters around Noble Six's approximate landing zone. Keep trying to ping him until you get a fix on him."

"Roger that Captain Hernandez."

Jose Hernandez was the commanding officer of the Colorado, one of the last remaining Phoneix-classes still in service in the UNSC Navy. It had originally been slated for decommishing inside Reach's Azord shipyards, but in light of the recent losses sustained at the siege of Sigma Octavus, she had been hastily reactivated and undergone a major overhaul of repairs and rearmament in preparation of a possible assault on Reach, a prediction that had become an all too horrifiying reality. She'd barely managed to escape orbit in Reach's final moments after picking up a high ranking officer, his bodyguard, and a badly wounded SPARTAN from the surface of the doomed world. After placing the man into a cryo-tube, Hernandez had been given the strangest set of orders of his entire military career.

The man rubbed his eyes. "An entire year of playing cat and mouse with the Covenant wolf packs to get to a planet that should not official exist, all for the benefit of a single soldier." The doors behind him hissed open admitting a single person onto the brig. Turning around, Jose frowned slightly as he recognized the man. "Colonel Holland. I sincerely hope to God you know what you've gotten my ship and my crew into."

"I know, Captain Hernandez. I must apologize for making you take such a long detour around the system, but this was unfortunately essential. I cannot stress the importance of this world to both ONI and the rest of HIGHCOM." Holland said. "Precautions had to be taken to ensure its secrecy, and if it weren't for Reach's destruction, we'd have to be following ONI's precautions to the letter, no matter how extreme they are."

"I'll say they would have been extreme." Hernandez replied, and a little of his frustration bled into his words. "'Immediate destruction of all ship-board AI's upon arrival? Armed escort? Threat of execution if protocols are breached in any way, shape or form?' Colonel, I've never seen so many damn regulations regarding the safety of a single planet like this in my entire life. Hell, not even Earth has this kind of paranoid security when it comes to its location. Instead of a straight shot that would take two months, you order us under ONI command to take an alternate route that takes an entire year to complete. And after all that you load up one of your injured SPARTANs into a HEV and drop him to the surface to 'let it heal him up?' Forgive me if I sound a little put out Holland, but all of what you've told me since we've got here sounds completely crazy; this is all beginning to try my patience."

Holland sighed. "I understand completely. But there was no other option. The SPARTAN in question had some...unique needs that only this world can provide."

"Which you have failed to elaborate on so far."

"In due time Captain."

Holland gazed out at the planet above them. "…Ten years."

"Pardon?" Hernandez asked.

"It's been ten years to the day that I came here. That day so long ago, my mistakes cost that young man a family he should have had. I couldn't do anything to save them…but I'm not going to give up on him. Not now. Not when he's so close to coming back to her."

Hernandez kept quiet, not quite sure how to respond to the colonel's odd statement.

At that moment the comms officers yelled out, "I've got something! Signals faint, but it's enough for positive ID. It's him!"

"Finally. Launch a Pelican and get him back up here."

A/N: New chapter. I'm sorry, but lately I've been having more and more difficultly adding on to this story. I've been seriously considering a rewrite. I'm going to wait and see until I can get my hands on the new Valkyria Chronicles 3 Complete Artworks when it comes out so I can have more reference material to work with. I'm glad you guys have kept up with me so far, so thank you, all of you, and send me a lot of PMs to tell me what you think.