DAWN

Part 1: Harvest

Prologue

Mendiciant Bias sped through the space surrounding Installation 4B. The Reclaimer must not fall to the Prometheans. He had to save him...

The damaged Forerunner Monitor reached the portal about seven seconds before the Forward Unto Dawn. Frantically, he fired his energy beam into a broken piece of metal - welded it on in flash of ruby laser - repaired. Linking his white manipulation beam into the main power slot, he directed his internal power into it.

The Dawn fully immersed itself into the portal, and with Bias's dying burst of power, he directed the back half of the Dawn towards the Milky Way - there wasn't enough power to calculate the subspace jump to the Sol System...

The Forerunner monitor's super casing cracked with a green flash, the last reserves of power into the Portal...

.

...And the back half of Forward Unto Dawn randomly jumped into the Milky Way..."Chief? Can you hear me?"

.

"Chief? Can you hear me?"

John slowly came into conciousness. What had happened?

Cortana sounded relieved. "I thought I'd lost you, too."

John floated by his MA5C, snagged it and shoved it onto his back. "What happened?"

Cortana sounded preoccupied. "I - I'm not sure. When Halo fired, it shook itself to pieces. Did a number on the Ark. The Portal couldn't sustain itself. We made it through just as it collapsed."

John continued to float, pushed himself forward and stopped at the sight of the slowly cooling down side of the ship, still glowing red from the Slipspace transition.

Cortana sounded pentient. "Well... some of us made it... I think we jumped, but... it collapsed when we were in slipspace."

John turned and floated back to the bay and entered Cyro 2.

"But you did it. Truth and the Covenant, the Flood..."

John examined the AI terminal, decided it was fit, and plugged Cortana in. Her hologram appeared, and for a second, she looked like a normal AI. No signs of torture on High Charity, the rampancy flooding her thoughts.

"It's finished." She'd said exactly the same thing after Alpha Halo.

Turning off his flashlight, John considered it. "Cortana..."

She re-appeared.

John shook his head slowly. "No. It's never over." Placing his rifle on a rack, he examined the cryotubes.

Cortana said, "I'll drop a beacon, but it'll be a while before anyone finds us." She paused, wondering weather to say it, then said, "Years, even."

Joh clambered into a cryotube. Cortana watched him sadly. "I'll miss you."

Sometimes she had a flash of emotion, real emotion that she had picked up in her rampancy. But this... Was simply Cortana.

John his last look around that he would take in years. "Wake me. When you need me."

The cryotube hissed shut.

Hello! This will be different for once. An attempt at civilian life, strangely. It sure doesn't sound like one... But you'll get it. And plenty of action. And please R&R. It's common courtesy.

Kimjel, out.