Halo: The Installation

And of course, one final part, one extremely crucial part. Thank you everyone who has reviewed, I really hope that I've catered to your wants. If not, well, at the very least, I can say that I actually finisheda Halo 3 novelization. A rare feat, is it not?

Eh-heh-heh...I'm gonna be honest, I delayed this deliberately. Don't hate me! I've also been fixing all the grammar errors, and adding in those grey line breaks.

So, let's begin the thank yous, to reviewers and other things.

ghostleon: Thanks again for the confidence and praise, mate. Glad that you've enjoyed this.

slik: Here we are, and yeah, it certainly has been a wild ride. Especially the Warthog run – ahhhh! I'm okay.

Sileq: Hope I put in enough of the Arbiter for you, and that I was able to cater to your wants.

Legionary Prime: As one of my earliest reviewers, I can only give my deepest thanks.

Ny'kle: Thanks. Sorry about a few of the waits.

SpiritOfSherwood: (Still haven't got the Fog Skull). You and me both, mate.

ReverseSceptile: You didn't think that I was going to forget my first reviewer, did you?

Alpha B. A. 7: Oh, thank you! I'm glad that I could provide the experience. I feel your pain (well, kinda, I don't have Xbox LIVE so I miss out on a lot of Halo stuff.) Lucky you, I still haven't played Halo 2's campaign. Like I said, I might keep up the work, it depends how much wants me to do a Reach or 4 novelization, and on how long I take a break from this. I'll probably wait for the last Kilo-Five book to come out before I'd even think of starting on 4, for example.

Geronimo: Course I remember you. Actually, now that you've brought them up, doing the squad-based fights is tugging at my interests. I put myself down and handicap myself all the time; it's just the kind of person I am. I probably exaggerate it a fair bit, but while you're here, check out Peptuck's "Halo: The Arbiter," if you haven't, it hasn't been touched on for ages, but it's damn good, and Peptuck is much more military-minded then I am, so a lot of the tactics make more sense, which puts a bit of pressure on me. I was also worried about making the same mistakes that Dietz did for Halo: The Flood, which was pretty good, but skimmed over the combat a wee bit, and the Master Chief is quite different. Hell, I'd probably base Noble Six on that iteration. But thank you for your praise, I really appreciated it!

All the guests, thank you for taking your time to leave a review.

Youngbountygirl: Thanks for telling me how to do those line things.

Halo Nation: Thanks for providing the transcripts and walkthroughs that I referred to/reworded for this novelization. Well, not that you knew that I was doing this, but still, thank you!

My best friend: Thank you, so, so much for getting this game for me.

Bungie: Of course, the makers of such a great game, and may we all wish you well in your quest for world domination, especially as Destiny looks so badass!

A small group of Marines had gathered on a hillside near the now-shutdown Portal to the Ark. Fleet Admiral Lord Terrence Hood looked at the horizon, before he turned to the Marines, removed his hat, and began his speech.

"For us, the storm has passed. The war is over. But let us never forget those who journeyed into the howling dark and did not return. For their decision required courage beyond measure..."

As Hood spoke, he remembered the final burst of energy as the front half of the Forward Unto Dawn entered the Earth's atmosphere, and crashed into the Indian Ocean.

"...sacrifice, and unshakable conviction that their fight, our fight, was elsewhere."

An engineering crew had cut into the Dawn's hull with torches. They'd peeled back the metal and then they'd all stepped back in awe as a massive bronze-armored Elite emerged from the wreckage.

He looked down to see the Arbiter standing solemnly with the Marines at the memorial, head slightly bowed. Hood regarded the Elite as he continued his speech.

"As we start to rebuild, this hillside will remain barren, a memorial to heroes fallen. They ennobled all of us, and they shall not be forgotten."

Admiral Hood put his hat back on, and saluted to his men.

Master Sergeant Marcus Pete Stacker saluted back, and he turned to the other Marines present. "Present arms!" he ordered.

Seven Marines raised their battle rifles and each Marine fired a single burst of three shots, three times: a 3-volley salute. The bullets fell over the Ark Portal, now closed, deactivated and silent, with Mt. Kilimanjaro standing out against the evening sky.

Later, Hood and the Arbiter stood alone at the Memorial, a fragment of a Pelican wing, decorated with pictures of the fallen, including Lieutenant Commander Miranda Keyes and Sergeant Major Avery Johnson.

"I remember how this war started," Hood said, reminiscing of days past. "What your kind did to mine. I can't forgive you. But..." and now, Hood held out his hand to the Elite. "You have my thanks," he said sincerely. "For standing by him to the end."

The Arbiter almost hesitated, reached out, and he slowly shook Admiral Hood's hand. After letting go, Hood's eyes were drawn to one part of the memorial in particular.

"Hard to believe he's dead," was all that Hood could manage as he gazed at the memorial.

The Arbiter looked away from the memorial, towards the Shadow of Intent, which was hovering silently in the sky.

"Were it so easy."

The Arbiter left the memorial, slowly walking down the grassy hill. His Separatist Phantom slowly lifted off, and the craft headed back to the Shadow of Intent, which was hovering in about the same position the Portal to the Ark once was.

Disembarking the Phantom, the Arbiter saw all the Elites present in the hangar stop and turn to face him. The Arbiter looked around the hangar, and began to walk towards the door that would lead to the bridge.

There was a flourish of movement as N'tho 'Sraom, followed by a squad of SpecOps Elites, raised his arm in a salute. Usze 'Taham and a band of Elite Ascetics followed suit, as did every other Elite present, all as the Arbiter walked past them.

Stopping at the door, the Arbiter nodded, and saluted back to the Elites, before entering a grav-lift that would take him to the bridge.

Emerging from the grav-lift, the Arbiter met with Shipmaster Rtas 'Vadum on the bridge, who was looking at a holographic image of the Earth.

"Things look different," remarked the Shipmaster, acknowledging the Arbiter's presence with a slight nod. "Without the Prophets' lies clouding my vision." The white-armored Elite turned to the Arbiter. "I would like to see our own world - to know that it is safe," admitted 'Vadum.

The Arbiter, following a human trait of comfort, placed his left hand on 'Vadum's shoulder. "Fear not," he reassured his former commander. "For we have made it so." The Arbiter clenched his other fist to his chest, over the heart, and then walked towards the gravity throne.

As the Arbiter walked toward the command chair, 'Vadum clenched his right fist to his chest likewise."By your word, Arbiter," he replied solemnly.

Thel 'Vadam, the Arbiter, took his seat on the command chair, the one normally used by Rtas 'Vadum.

"Take us home," he said to the bridge crew, and they nodded back respectfully.

As the Shadow of Intent powered up and left the Earth, to rejoin the remains of the Covenant Separatist fleet in space, the Arbiter thought back to the memorial.

Underneath the print "UNSCDF March 3, 2553", he had carved the English number "117" into the metal of the wing, and the rank of Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy had been taped to the upper right of it as a tribute.

"Chief? Can you hear me?"

The Master Chief, very much alive, awoke floating in zero gravity in a debris-filled hallway on board the Dawn to the sound of Cortana's voice.

Cortana sighed in relief as the Spartan began to move. "I thought I'd lost you, too," she admitted.

The Master Chief looked at a gaping hole in the hallway. He drifted to a floating MA5D assault rifle, and holstered it, then began to drift to the end of the hallway. "What happened?" he asked curiously.

"I'm not sure," replied Cortana. "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."

The Chief reached the end of the hallway, which opened up into empty space.

TheForward Unto Dawnhad been sheared in half, it was now floating in a cloud of its own debris, still red-hot from the sudden Slipspace slowdown.

"Well... some of us made it," said Cortana sadly as the Dawn's remaining half continued to drift aimlessly in unknown space.

The Master Chief turned around and began to drift further inside the ship. He eventually found a working row of cryotubes, complete with a holotank to plug Cortana's data chip into.

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

The Chief plugged Cortana's data chip into the holotank and her avatar appeared standing on the pedestal.

"It's finished," she said.

The Master Chief turned off the flashlight on his helmet. "It's finished," he agreed. He placed his assault rifle in one of the rackets on the wall.

"I'll drop a beacon," offered Cortana. "But it'll be a while before anyone finds us."

The Chief nodded, barely hearing her as he climbed into one of the cryotubes.

"Years, even," pointed out Cortana desperately as the cryotube door began to close. "I'll miss you," she said sadly.

It seemed to take an eternity for the Spartan to reply, in that moment, he was more tired than he'd ever been before, and he welcomed the embrace of cryosleep. "Wake me," he said to Cortana as the door closed over his visor. "When you need me."

Cortana looked up in surprise, smiled, and nodded. The cryotube closed and sealed, freezing the Master Chief in preparation for when he would next be needed.

Cortana stood on her pedestal silently, in such close proximity to the Spartan, but more alone than she had been in her entire lifespan, and she turned her face away from the cyrotube, unable to bear the sight of the still form that lay inside as she began turning off all the unnecessary systems of the frigate.

Four years, seven months, and ten days after Halo Event.

The back half of the Forward Unto Dawn slowly drifted towards a silvery-grey planet.

The planet eclipsed its star at first, but the star slowly emerged from behind the planet, casting light upon its silvery metal surface momentarily before blinding the view from the frigate completely.