Author's Note: The First rule, The Doctor always lies.

Chapter 4: Rekindled

"Well that was anticlimactic."

Captain Allana Lalonde stared at the unconscious bodies of the ten humanoids who commanded the alien ship. They were out cold.

"I was hoping they'd put up a fight," the Spartan-IV remarked, his armor a pristine blue, "but I can't say I'm complaining. Besides, this probably helps prevent any medical complications from wounds."

"I know that, soldier," Allana replied, "It's just… It would have been fun to put the fear of 'god' into them."

Inside his helmet, the Spartan smirked, "I know what you mean. I'm a bit disappointed too, but it made my job so much easier."

Allana sighed, "Alright, no use moping over it. Dismissed."

The Spartan walked away, and a couple of ODSTs began putting restraints on the gray-uniformed men. That was what intrigued Allana; they looked completely human. A quick DNA scan revealed that there were some genetic variations, but for all intents and purposes they were human. Theories and conjectures flew around her mind for a minute, but for the moment she shelved them. She'd talk it over later with the shipboard AI, Rose.

The starboard hangar bay of the Concorde was cramped; the remains of the enemy ship had barely fit through the doors; the Sabres and Pelicans had been shoved aside to make room for the sizable hulk. What remained of the ship was a mess; it was more a twisted hunk of metal than anything else. It was hard to believe that it used to be spaceworthy.

Not much was salvageable from the debris field and the derelict, although they had an intact computer systems and weapon. The sidearms from the aliens and that cannon from the ship would certainly yield some interesting technologies in the future. Or at least, Allana hoped they would.

"It looks bigger in person," Toshiko remarked as she walked up to Allana, "I find it hard to believe that that wreck almost blasted me and my crew to atoms."

"Not to mention your ship," quipped Allana, "I expect the altertümlich Stone Angel will have to be decommissioned because of this."

"About time too," Toshiko scoffed, "I take pride in her, but in this day and age she is a flying death trap."

Allana rolled her eyes, "Blame it on the UEG and their verdammt budget."

"Amen to that," Toshiko nodded, "Watashi wa fune no watashi no doji de sō nagaku ikinobite kita no ka wakaranai."

Allana looked confusedly at Toshiko, "Pardon?"

Toshiko shook her head dismissively, "It's nothing."

The Concorde's intercom crackled to life, and Rose announced, "Captain, the Forerunner Monitor is requesting to talk with you."

Allana nodded, "Patch it through."

After switching over, Vortex said, "Ah, Reclaimers. May I suggest that we make our way back to our home galaxy? The inhabitants of this one may attempt to find their missing ship."

A nearby holographic pedestal sprang to life, and the avatar of Rose formed. She appeared to be a young high school student in a simple dress, holding a random academic book. She pushed her glasses back up on her face and adjusted her hairband, which held her short hair out of her face, "I concur, Captain. The risks we take with our presence here increase exponentially with every passing minute."

"Alright," Allana agreed, "the UNSC can send a full expedition later."

"Is it alright if we ride piggyback on this ride?" Toshiko asked, "I'm not sure the Stone Angel can survive a Slipspace trip on its own right now, if ever again. There is a lot of structural damage."

"Approved," Allana nodded, "Let's get underway."

Before the Concorde left, several Archers streaked from their pods to incinerate the remainder of the debris in the area. Then the Frigate, along with a truly massive fleet of Forerunner ships, approached the massive Forerunner Slipspace Gate. A colossal disc formed, through which nothing could be seen. With roaring engines, the fleet dived into the rupture; heading home.

[[Join us at 7:30 for "Lost Ships of the War", where we will debate the fate of ships like the Spirit of Fire.]]

A behemoth of a ship, 2.5 kilometers in length, streaked its way across the stars, gliding on pure momentum. Its engines were dark, and no running lights could be seen on the derelict ship. On one side, scorch marks and torn metal indicated a battle long past. To the observer, this ship would just be seen as a large piece of space debris.

However, the ship's sensors were still operating, and they picked up something. This activated subroutines in the computers, which started up an AI that had not seen use in 56 years.

As she began to thaw the crew from cryo sleep, she spoke the first words uttered on that ship in over five decades.

"Captain, wake up. Something has happened."

[[2.5 kilometer vessel on approach. Sentient life detected onboard. Ship is out of range of advanced bio-scanners. Activating Sentinels and Enforcers. Standby…]]

The crew of the Phoenix-class Colony ship-refit ran about like ants, bringing the ship out of its long slumber. The Bridge crew dusted off consoles, booting them up and began to scan readouts from the ship's many systems. Captain James Gregory Cutter and Professor Ellen Anders stood in front of the Bridge's Holotank, which the ship's AI, Serina, was projecting her avatar on.

"What exactly is it, Serina?" Captain Cutter asked, staring at the hologram of the colossal space station. It had a circular center, with four large arms extending outwards. Four smaller arms sat in between the other arms. Green and blue, the colors of a habitable planet, covered the massive construct. Towards the center, though, it seemed as if the land had been scorched to a pitch-black shade.

It looked like a flower.

"I'm not sure, sir," Serina replied, "but the design practically screams Forerunner."

"It's amazing," Anders commented in awe, "the Forerunners liked to build big, huh?"

"Although I was wondering," Captain Cutter mused, "why aren't we back in UNSC space by now?"

Serina seemed quite embarrassed, "My apologies, captain, but according to the sensor logs, the ship got caught in the gravity well of a planetary body and slingshot us in an entirely different direction. My subroutines should have notified me. I don't know why they didn't."

"Well, what's done is done," the Captain shrugged, "we should take this opportunity to resupply. I'm sure there are materials on the station that we can salvage."

"We should also take this opportunity to do some research," Anders spoke up, "the scientific potential that lays in such a structure is immense. If the Covenant aren't there, this will be a golden opportunity to get our hands on some Forerunner technology without having to blow it all up."

"I agree, Captain," Serina added, "We should take every chance we can get. If you feel that we can spare the time, I would also like to land the Spirit of Fire for some repairs. The superstructure isn't holding up well, and it would be wise to repair our heavy deck guns."

"Do it," Captain Cutter nodded, "We should also land some ground forces first to secure the area. Put our forces on alert."

Serina grinned, "Way ahead of you, sir."

The 2.5 kilometer long refit colony ship streaked towards the construct, decelerating as fast as it could. As it did so, Pelicans, Longswords, and Albatrosses jetted out of the hangars, making their way to the surface as the Spirit of Fire began to descend into the artificial atmosphere.

"Sir" Anders said to Captain Cutter, "I would like to go down with the landing party."

"It's too dangerous," he protested, "We don't know what's down there."

"Our lack of knowledge is precisely why I should go down," she countered, "I need to help assess the situation, and nobody on this ship is more familiar with Forerunner technology than me. My presence could mean the difference between this mission going off without a hitch or the death of the entire landing party."

Captain Cutter rubbed his chin while thinking about it, "Alright," he conceded, "but you're to be guarded at all times."

"Understood, sir," Anders nodded, before leaving the bridge.

Nobody said a word as the Captain went back to the holotable, reviewing the data from the sensors.

"Captain," Serina broke the silence that had fallen over the Bridge, "I'm detecting a lot of debris above the construct. I don't recognize a fair amount of the ship classes, but I can tell you one thing."

The holotable changed to display the derelicts of a battle long past. Bulbous purple ships floated abandoned next to a few blocky, gray ships.

"The Covenant were here, and so were the UNSC," The AI stared at the debris field, "There were more Covenant ships than UNSC, so why are there so few UNSC derelicts, and so many more Covenant ones?"

"Maybe they had a brilliant commander," the Captain suggested.

Serina shook her head, "No, only a few Covenant ships show signs of damage from our types of weapons. Most of them display Plasma damage, and a few of them look like they were cut by a high-intensity beam. The Covenant were fighting each other."

Captain Cutter pondered this information. There were separate factions within the Covenant? Did the UNSC ally themselves with Covenant insurrectionists? Whatever the case, it gave him a great sense of satisfaction to see so many destroyed Covenant ships, yet at the same time gave him an equal amount of confusion. Maybe the answers to this were on the ring.

"Of course, radiological readings indicate that this battle happened nearly 35 years ago," Serina remarked nonchalantly, "We've been gone a long time."

"I meant to ask," Captain Cutter added, "exactly how long were we gone?"

"Over 56 years, sir," Serina grinned, "I'm sure we all qualify for a senior discount."

The Captain laughed a bit at Serina's attempt to lighten the mood, "Well, no sense in trying to make conjectures. Let's focus on the task at hand."

"Aye, sir."

[[Tune in this Friday to catch the new episode of Yayap and Pals! You'll be moved to laughter and tears as this group of misfit Unggoy attempt to arrest a syndicate of Kig-Yar pirates in this hilarious sit-com produced by Balaho Extratainment.]]

"Contact! Another contact! Oh god, there's so many of them!"

"Shut it, Ensign!" Allana snapped at one of her Bridge crew, "Rose, Sitrep."

The Concorde's AI appeared in a flash of light, "We've jumped right into the middle of a Covenant Armada!" she frantically stated, "We're outnumbered 201 to 1 exactly. Reading a single CSO-class Supercarrier, 60 CCS-class Battlecruisers, 40 Destroyers of varying tonnage, 70 CRS-class Light Cruisers, and 30 SDV-class Heavy Corvettes… I find no sign of the Forerunner fleet… The likelihood of our victory is slim, captain."

"Status of Dr. Zeng and our landing parties?"

"They are still on the station, but are under fire. Patching them through now Captain."

One of the viewscreens flickered to display a view of Lieutenant Powers from a camera mounted on his shoulder.

"What is it, Captain Lalonde?!" he shouted out over the din of plasma fire and the cracks of supersonic bullets.

"Do you require assistance, Lieutenant?" Allana asked, slightly worried.

"We can hold out indefinitely, Captain!" he yelled, "Worry about yourselves!"

The connection terminated as one of the bridge crew cried out, "We're being targeted! Over 400 plasma torpedoes inbound, and they're charging they're energy projectors! Detecting over 4,000 Seraphs! They are on an intercept course!"

Allana cringed, then steeled her resolve, "Rose, take control of our emergency thrusters and avoid those energy projectors. Charge the MAC and warm up all our weapon systems. Shunt auxiliary power to engines and shields. Launch our Sabres and have them run interference and keep those Seraphs off us. Full speed ahead, evasive maneuvers, pick targets of opportunity and fire at will! We are the UNSC, and we will not go quietly!"

The Concorde's engines roared, catapulting the Paris-class Heavy Frigate forward at blinding speeds as the side hangars disgorged its payload of antiquated Sabre fighters. Against equally-dated Covenant equipment, though, it was a fair fight.

The point defense guns and Archer pods came alive as they joined the pulse laser turrets in a symphony of destruction. Seraphs streaked towards the frigate, only to be torn to bits by the ship or by its Sabre escorts. A few Shivas screamed away from the diminutive frigate to impact on nearby CSS-class Battlecruisers, making their shields flicker and collapse. Archers filled the gaps in between the UNSC ship and the Covenant armada as the little frigate dived right into the mess of alien vessels. The Concorde spewed firepower in every direction as its MAC barked once, sending the specialized "shield cracker" round directly into a CRS-class Light Cruiser, stripping it of its shields before a pair of plasma torpedoes from the same frigate slammed into its hull, melting it into a blob of slag.

The Prowler attached to the Concorde's hull added its own Shivas to the mix, annihilating a careless Destroyer; leaving nothing but immolated metal.

The Covenant ships descended on the lone ship as it swerved and spun, barely dodging plasma torpedoes and the lancing energy projectors, making the Concorde's shields spark and shimmer as they scraped the powerful energy weapons.

Allana Lalonde gripped her chair for dear life as the ship's inertial dampeners struggled valiantly to negate the G-forces imparted on the crew by the ship's wild maneuvering. She was doing an insane amount of damage for being only one ship, but at the rate they were burning through ammunition, they would soon have nothing left to fire.

Then it would be over.

"Oh dear," 1304 Iridescent Vortex murmured as it stared as the human ship's predicament. Even though they were certainly doomed, they were putting up an impressive fight against the immensely superior force.

"Such bravery must be acknowledged," the Monitor said to itself as it brought its fleet out of stealth mode, "the Reclaimers must survive."

Ten Forerunner Keyships, four Forerunner Dreadnoughts, and a single Forerunner Battleship appeared, all hard angles and geometric shapes.

In the Concorde, Captain Lalonde witnessed the appearance of Iridescent Vortex's military fleet.

"About damn time," she thought, as the Concorde rocked from the impact of a plasma torpedo.

The Flagship reminded her of the Didact's ship from Requiem, Mantle's Approach, and the Dreadnoughts looked exactly like the ones found in various Shield Worlds.

The Covenant fleet momentarily stopped their assault to gaze at the magnificent Forerunner fleet. Many Jiralhanae Shipmasters bowed their heads in homage to their Forerunner gods.

Then the Forerunner ships opened fire.

Hard Light and particle beam weaponry tore through shields like tissue paper and immolated hulls with little resistance. The ships spawned thousands of missiles which bridged the multi-kilometer gap in milliseconds. As they neared the enemy, they opened up tiny Slipspace ruptures, and disappeared into them.

A split second later, many Covenant Battlecruisers and Destroyers exploded into fireballs of plasma as the missiles emerged from Slipspace inside their ships and impacted their reactors.

Shocked out of their reverence, the Covenant fleet opened fire on the Forerunner ships. Energy Projectors, Plasma Torpedoes, and Pulse laser fire ineffectually splashed against the advanced shields. Iridescent Vortex let out the AI equivalent of a growl as he struggled to reboot the weapons systems, which had overloaded after millennia of disuse.

One of the Keyships lost its shields, as the sea of weapons fire overloaded the barrier and slammed into the ship itself. Hyper-advanced alloy stood valiantly against the waves of plasma, but it too gave way. The Keyship simply ceased to be.

The Forerunner fleet broke formation, and accelerated to knife-fighting range. Broadsides of pulse lasers and hard-light guns bridged the gaps as the ships pulled up alongside each other.

As the Covenant armada moved its attention away from the Concorde, the little frigate indignantly fired its MAC at a CSS-Battlecruiser, popping its shields before slamming a Shiva into the enemy hull. The ship was incinerated, reminding the Covenant that the humans weren't out of the fight yet. A few CRS-class Light Cruisers pulled away from the main group to engage the frigate, keeping it busy as it ran out of ammunition and heavy weapons to fire.

A Forerunner Dreadnought emerged from a battle with five CSS-Battlecruisers and 10 Destroyers, leaving its opponents broken and drifting as its own hull trailed smoke and flames. It turned and began to engage a wolf-pack of 12 SDV-class Heavy Corvettes.

The CSO-class Supercarrier fired its twin energy projectors, which bit into the wounded Dreadnought, carving deep gouges into the hull. The ship's running lights flickered as it slowly died. As the last external signs of life faded, the entire ship went up in a spectacular explosion. Several dozen ships were consumed in the blast as the Forerunner ship's reactor went critical.

"You dare dishonor the legacy of my creators with these imitations?!" Iridescent Vortex screamed on all communication frequencies, "You dare make these cheap… cheap… KNOCKOFFS?! You call that a particle beam cannon?! I'll show you a particle beam cannon!"

The Forerunner Battleship suddenly accelerated, ramming through a couple of CSS-Battlecruisers that made up the defensive line guarding the Supercarrier, and fired a blinding beam of white light at the CSO-class Supercarrier. All throughout this, the Battleship was under withering fire, which only made its shields sparkle. The Supercarrier's shields, on the other hand, stood no chance as they collapsed, allowing the beam to immolate the front half of the Supercarrier. The rear of the ship drifted, before shields sprang back into place around the remnants of the once proud ship. The remains of the ship opened fire on the Battleship, launching plasma torpedoes from its remaining weapons emplacements.

As the crews of the Concorde and the Stone Angel witnessed this scene, the possibility that Iridescent Vortex might be rampant crossed the minds of both captains.

"Hm," the Monitor scoffed as the plasma splashed uselessly on the shields, "you are resilient, but that will not save you."

Before any further action could be taken, a massive Slipspace portal tore open near the group, disgorging a multitude of frigates, cruisers, and destroyers, before the colossal bulk of the UNSC Infinity barreled out of the rift.

"We got your signal, Concorde," it broadcasted, "did you save any dessert for us?"

Allana smiled at the image of the Infinity even as the Concorde's shields failed and pulse laser hits began to gouge the hull, "Glad to see you, Infinity. We could use a hand here."

"Standby, hold onto your hats," came the reply, as the Infinity's fleet lined up their MAC guns.

MAC rounds, Shivas, and Howler missiles screamed away from the UNSC fleet, engulfing the Covenant ships. The Infinity came alive as its missile batteries, Onagers, MACs, Super MAC, and energy projectors smashed and carved the Covenant into so much space dust.

In a single Alpha strike, most of the remaining Covenant ships simply ceased to be. The few Covenant Corvettes and cruisers left panicked at the decimation of their armada, and retreated into Slipspace. The bridge crew of the Concorde breathed a sigh of relief as they began to put out fires that had sprung up on the deck. The frigate listed slightly, sporting some rather nasty hull breaches and a damaged port engine. Scorched hangar doors slid open so the remaining Sabres could land.

The Stone Angel undocked with the Concorde and headed towards the Slipspace Gate to extract their landing party.

"Well, that was a timely save," Toshiko commented to Wilkins, who replied, "Yeah, that seems to be happening a lot lately."

[2587, November 18th]

An entire galaxy away…

[2 BBY, The Maw, Chimera]

"Sir," an Imperial Officer at the Chimera's sensor station spoke up, "Patrol Cruiser Sega has disappeared from our sensors."

"What?" Commander Palleon replied incredulously, "You mean interference has made it disappear, right?"

"I'm not sure, sir."

At the vague reply, Palleon looked over the officer's shoulder, who replayed the readings. The recording showed the Sega's signal strong and steady, right before the area was flooded with radiation. When it cleared, the ship was gone, and not even active long-range sensors could pick up any sign of the ship. This was particularly distressing; the Empire didn't skimp on the quality of their sensor arrays, and a simple diagnostic confirmed that the sensors were fine.

This was something new; something different.

"Admiral," Palleon addressed Thrawn as he patched himself over the shipboard comm system, "Something has happened that requires your attention."

[2 BBY, Coruscant, Emperor's quarters]

Emperor Palpaltine stared at the holographic visage of one of his Admirals, Thrawn. He absolutely detested the alien's red, glowing eyes and scaly skin, but he valued his tactical skills, which were something that most of his subordinates lacked.

"What seems to be the issue, Admiral," Palpaltine grinned mockingly, "found something you can't handle?"

"No, something rather… odd has happened. I'm sending you the data now."

Palpaltine read the report as it downloaded onto his computer. He scowled. Normally he would just write this up as a random anomaly, but the Force was raising some rather alarming red flags, and if there was one thing the Emperor trusted in his life, it was the Force.

"You were right to alert me to this, Admiral," Palpaltine nodded, "this relates to a… suspicion I've been having lately."

"Do you know something about this?" Thrawn narrowed his eyes suspiciously.

"Nothing that you could comprehend," Palpaltine dismissed him.

Thrawn snarled, "With all due respect, sir, this happens to concern men under my command; men that could for all I know could be dead or dying as of this moment. I deserve, no, it is my right to know any relevant information! I demand-"

"You don't get to make demands of the Emperor, Thrawn!" Palpaltine snapped rather irritably, "Know your place!"

Visibly shaken, the Admiral lowered his head, "Forgive me, my lord."

With no further words, Palpaltine terminated the connection.

In truth, the Emperor didn't really know that much more about this whole situation, but he couldn't let Thrawn know that.

He should just forget all about this, and move on with his life, but something told him that there was more to this. The Force warned him that something was coming; and it could potentially bring his world crashing down around him.

Author's Note: Thanks to NeoDarklight, Follower38, and Brodur for BETAing this chapter.

In reply to SpartanDog1's review… What? I can't find anything in Halo lore to support your argument. Look, I know you want me to beef up Halo to ridiculous levels, but that's just not going to happen. I think we can all agree that Halo MAC guns are extreme overkill against Imperial ships, so even with retrofit ships, the UNSC is going to kick Imperial ass. Just relax, you will get your curbstomp. Shoosh-pap, my friend. Shoosh-pap.

Anyways, sorry about the lack of a firefight between disgruntled Imperial officers and a Spartan. No, that Spartan is NOT John-117. Do you really think such a distinguished war hero would be assigned to a backwater excavation team?

Also, for you Star Wars fanboys out there; don't worry, Imperials have a countermeasure against MAC guns… sort of. Remember Ray Shields? Sure, they suck power like a motherfrakker, but they can deflect physical projectiles. They didn't save Star Destroyers from the asteroid field, but they can probably mitigate the effects of an Alpha strike.

I know there are some plot holes, but have no fear, chapter 5 will be one big exposition between a few characters. Or fear the exposition, whatever.

A little FYI, all UNSC ballistic weapons are now coilguns. Heheh, Stormtroopers are in for a nasty surprise.

And I WILL NOT be adding weapons to the Haloverse that have no basis in books or the games. The UNSC will not suddenly be wielding magical light whips. However, we may just be seeing some Needler missiles… heheheheheheh…

Anyways, hope you enjoyed this chapter. As always, review, favorite, and follow.

With the advent of Chapter 5 will come the simultaneous launch of my ME/Halo fanfiction, "Fifty Shades of Overkill". It takes place in the same universe as "The Bow and the Gun", and can be read without knowledge of Mass Effect… mostly. If you're a fan of UNSC curbstomps, read the upcoming fic. THAT is the mother of all overkill stories.