Sam stared at the three cryopods sitting in the Cryo 2. Stared at Thom. Thom was talking and -

Oh yeah. Thom's talking to you.

"Uhh, what was that, sir? Didn't get that."

Usually the senior officer would have reprimanded the junior crewman, but there was no time.

"Initiate the thawing sequence."

Sam danced his fingers over the pad. "Yes sir... done, sir."

Cortana's 'unseal the hushed casket' flicked across the screen. Sam noted it. "Sir, security lockout overridden. Thanks, Cortana."

The cryopods began to warm up and...

...John ran.

As fast as he could.

His six year old body tripped through the hedges, no longer knowing its skill, Kelly and James tumbling after them. The Mother/Halsey/Cortana figure behind them was enveloped by the dark shape with a roar.

The MAB5 in James's arms was too big for him, as he aimed it he tripped and fell, the dark shape enveloping him, too.

"James!" Kelly shouted, turning and running back. John stopped and shouted. "No! Kelly! You'll get yourself killed!" James, he could handle, but Kelly was his best friend. Kelly... was Kelly. He couldn't let her die.

It was too late. Kelly stopped when she saw the dark shape absorb James, growling and roaring at her. She backpedalled furiously, it was faster - faster than Kelly - and rolled over her. John heard a brief scream and he completely snapped.

Grabbing the MAB5, his six year old arms let a burst loose, knocking him backwards onto the ground. And now the shape was angry. Very angry, and he screamed his fury, fury of his helplessness and anger at the shape, fear forgotten...

John slowly came to as the cryopod opened.


Two strobes flashed across his Neural Interface, Tech Chief Thom Shephard and Tech Officer (3rd Class) Sam Marcus.

Sam... The name cracked an old wound that had never healed.

A nearby cryotube hissed open. John - still adrenaline going from his dream - sighed with relief as he saw it was Kelly, and also James's cryotube opening, too.

There was a big, ugly freezer burn running down Kelly's back from the plasma wound she'd taken on the Circumference. But that was the bread-and-butter of SPARTAN life, enduring pain without recognition.

The Tech Officer hissed something about "freezer burn" when he saw Kelly and shouted something down to the Tech Chief. John hadn't been listening, but he heard the explosion.

The last thought that Sam had as the door blew down was, we were too late. We're screwed.

James gasped as a crimson armoured Elite - the maroon armour of a veteran, John noted - entered the cryo control room. Giving an angry growl, knowing he'd come too late, he leveled his plasma rifle at Sam's head and blew it off.

"Sam!" shouted Thom. He ran towards the cryobay doors, did a series of double takes, turned, and made hastening motions at the three Spartans. Kelly took the initiative the wrong way.

"With respect, sir, we need to go now," she said urgently. James cocked his head to one side and looked at her hard.

Kelly turned slightly red and opened the weapons locker, spilling parts of three MNJOLNIR Mk. VI suits out. John and James instantly began picking them up.

The elite above them growled and fired two energy beams into the transparent material. It blackened, but didn't break.

Growling, he smashed the window.

"Aaah!" yelled the Navy Officer. Ducking behind a cryotube, he screamed, "I'm a cowardly fool!"

In two fluid motions, Kelly snagged Thom's M6D and fired three shots into the Elite's head. It's shielding failed and it collapsed, cleanly de-brained.

John grabbed the falling plasma rifle and shot the rest of the grunts following the Elites. Needle guns and plasma pistols fell to the ground.

The three Spartans quickly suited up and James overcharged the shield regenerator - it would only probably live so long, anyway.

John quickly took in everything:

One (almost) useless, fearful Navy Tech. Kelly flipped him his M6D back, and he seemd to calm with the feel of the weapon.
One needler. Almost empty.
One needler, broken. John quickly scooped up it's ammo
Two teammates, armed with Plasma Rifles and Pistols.

They were good to go.

Thom re-asserted himself. Saluting to John, he shouted hurridly, "Sir, how do we get out?"

John surveyed the cryobay. The smashed window, he could get out there, but Covenant probably lurked there. Too bad, the door's locking mechanism was busted, broken shut. They'd have to take the window.

Vaulting himself up and hauling the Tech after him, he looked around: one door was broken down, the other pointed back to the landing.

"You wait here," he said to James and Kelly. "I'm going to the bridge. If I'm not back or don't call in 10 minutes, come find me. OK?"

The Tech saluted. John'd forgotten about him.

"Yeah, you," he addressed the Tech, "You get back to your station."

The Tech reloaded his pistol and ran down the hallway. John took an alternate route.

Yeah, I was silent too long. This chapter is not finished. Please R&R. It's simple courtesy.