A/N: Merry early Xmas,everyone! I'm gonna be out for the holidays so I decided to post this now as an early Christmas special update. Enjoy!
UNSC Spirit of Fire, Shield World 0459, February 25, 2531
"Serina, can you do it?"
"It's done. You might want to hold onto something." The AI replied.
The captain promptly retreated to his chair and gripped the armrests tightly.
"Closing your eyes might help too." Serina added.
As the ship exited the planet, a purple aura enveloped the world and the lone colony ship before all three disappeared from the universe.
"Status!" Cutter barked as the lights flickered on and off.
"Unknown. The Spirit of Fire has sustained minor hull burns from the detonating Shield World. The Port side is also heavily damaged from the collision with the Covenant Destroyer. 15 of our 30 Point Defence turrets have been destroyed. MAC systems are offline, but are repairable. ATAF turret rows G-K are destroyed."
"Location?" he asked.
"Cross-referencing star charts… Apparently we got lucky. The slipspace bomb going off threw all objects within a certain radius to random points in real space. According to my calculations, we are approximately 22 years of constant travel away from Reach."
Cryo Room 3, Spirit of Fire, March 11, 2531
"Captain, I would much rather stay awake to monitor this area!" Professor Anders protested.
"Professor, there's been no sign of the Covenant for almost 2 weeks. There's nothing to do," Captain Cutter replied simply.
"But nothing, Professor," he interrupted her, "You got us all out of there alive," he keyed a code into the cryopod's door, "Now get some rest."
As the doors closed, a look of guilt crossed Anders' face, "Not all of us, Captain. Not all of us."
Captain Cutter left the room, hesitating briefly at Sgt. Forge's empty pod. The man gave his life so everyone on the ship could live.
He walked through the corridors of the empty ship one last time, all remaining personnel having gone into cryo.
"Serina, status report." He barked as he re-entered the cryo room.
"Better than last week: 10 of our 30 Point Defence turrets are still molten slag. MAC systems are online. ATAF turret rows H-J are destroyed. Repairs to rows G and K have been completed, however."
Captain Cutter sighed in resignation. The ship was still not in very good condition.
"Serina, shut yourself down. I don't want you going rampant. Use a proximity activation code to wake yourself up." He muttered as he got into his pod.
"Of course sir." Serina's voice sounded distant and unclear as the cryopod door hissed shut.
UNSC Supercruiser Everest, Psi Serpentis System, April 18, 2543
"Lt. Whittier, fire up the FTL drive. Jump to the coordinates I've sent to your terminal," Vice Admiral Cole ordered, "Lt. Smith, fire 100 of our Shiva nukes into Viperidae."
A purple disk appeared in front of the ship, shielded from the watchful eyes of the UNSC battlegroup by the horde of Covenant ships and the silhouette of the lookalike cruiser Io.
As his ship cruised into the rift, Cole sighed. If all went according to plan, he would be reunited with his URF commander and love Lyrenne Castilla. They would settle and build a life together on a remote world colonised by the URF.
Unfortunately for Cole, the multiverse had other plans.
The Valiant-class Super-heavy shook violently, throwing some of the bridge crew to the ground.
"Whittier, report!" Cole shouted as he got up from the floor.
"Apparently the planet going nova and the unstable nature of an open slipspace rupture in a gravity well changed our exit vector," The Ops station Lieutenant replied, adjusting the glasses perched on his nose, "I'm not entirely sure where we are headed."
"Have Athena analyse the coordinates. Can you drop us out?" Cole inquired.
"Negative," a feminine voice originating from the projector replied, "The nature of the slipspace flux around us is unique—and highly unstable," the image of a Greek woman with an aegis and spear appeared, "If I attempt to take us out, half the ship may arrive in Alpha Centauri while the other half ends up in orbit around Harvest!"
"Thank you, Athena. ETA?"
"Two month, four days, zero hours and one minute, sir," Athena replied, "I suggest all non-essential personnel go into cryo."
Vice Admiral Cole nodded numbly as most of his hopes came crashing down. All he could hope for was that they came out in one piece. So much for a secretive retirement, he thought.
Covenant Corvette Ardent Prayer, in orbit above Reach, August 14, 2552
"Well, I've got good news and bad news," Jorge announced as he turned to Noble Six. "This bird took some fire and our thruster gimble is toast, which means the only way off this slag heap is gravity."
"And the good news?" Six asked.
"That was the good news."
"At current velocity, fifty-three seconds to..." Auntie Dot's voice piped in.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah," Jorge interrupted Dot mid-sentence. Reaching up, he undid the seals to his helmet and took it off, letting it drop to the floor behind him.
"Bad news is, timer's fried. I'm going to have to fire it manually."
"That's a one way trip," Six noted.
"We all make it sooner or later," Jorge replied humourlessly, "Better get going Six; they're going to need you down there."
With a quick yank, the dog tags around his neck snapped. He hesitated, holding them for a brief moment before passing them to Six.
"Listen," he said as the younger Spartan grasped his hand. "Reach has been good to me. Time has come to return the favour. Don't deny me this."
Hefting the smaller Spartan into the air one-handed, Jorge duck-walked to the edge of the barrier shield before saying one last thing:
"Tell them to make it count." With that, the Spartan-II gave the III a good shove, sending Six free-falling over and into the atmosphere of Reach.
As Six fell, he saw a purple aura envelop half the Covenant Supercarrier, before disappearing with the corvette, the centre of the Supercarrier, and Jorge.
UNSC Forward Unto Dawn, the Ark, December 11, 2552
The Warthog made the final leap and landed in the Dawn's hangar bay. The Arbiter immediately dismounted from the turret and made a break for the bridge. The Chief, however, simply plugged Cortana into a nearby terminal.
Immediately, the ship's engine roared to life as the battered frigate attempted to make it to the Portal before Installation 04B blew up.
"Hang on…" Cortana shouted as the Dawn reached its destination, purple glow enveloping them.
No one noticed a small golden orb follow them and latch onto the port side of the ship. And no one noticed the Portal beginning to fold in on itself. As the Dawn entered the Portal to Earth, it collapsed, slipspace ruptures occurring randomly, the power source in the Ark having been damaged by the firing of Installation 04B.
The ship shook violently, throwing John to the floor. After a moment, the Spartan stood up.
"Cortana, what just happened?" he asked.
"I'm not entirely sure. I believe the Portal collapsed when we fired the Halo. I've referenced the star charts, however. We're home."
John couldn't help but sigh in relief. However, he couldn't help but feel that something was off…
Onyx Dyson Sphere, April 2, 2553 (Real time), November 13, 2552 (Dyson time discrepancy)
"Well, the Huragok have this place running." Halsey commented to no one in particular.
An explosion rang out somewhere in the facility.
"Ma'am, I think that crazy Monitor found us. Permission to engage?" a battered and promoted Lt. Fred-104 asked as he gripped his stolen Light Rifle tightly.
"Negative. I'm almost finished configuring the slipspace portal. Team Katana should be 'thawing' out… NOW."
As soon as the words left her mouth, the 5 Spartan-IIIs burst from the pods, gasping for breath.
"Ugh… What happened?" Dan-G246 mumbled as he rubbed thee back of his head.
Suddenly, as his HUD came back online, he noticed that there was a Lt. Junior Grade standing in front of him.
Instincts honed over 6 years of military training took over and he saluted sharply, simultaneously taking stock of the situation.
The rest of the team were busy adjusting to their surroundings. James-G007 was dusting off his SPI armour, typical him—always playing cool. Cassie-G119 was trying to wrap her head around the fact that Dante was dead, they had always been close. Gordon-G004 was staring at the MJOLNIR-clad Spartan-IIs in pure idol worship. Lance-G212 was saluting right next to him, just like the overly-professional kid he was.
"At ease, Spartan," Fred replied, "You ready to go?"
When Daniel replied in the affirmative, the elder Spartan nodded and passed him an M6D.
"Ash told me you worked best with a pistol. Let's see if you really are that good," Fred said.
An explosion rocked the facility again, causing the light bridge leading to the only entrance to flicker briefly.
"They're here, sir!" Kelly-087 shouted, raising her MA5K
"Kelly, take O and As the IIIs and ambush them by the door. I'll be right with you. Mark, Linda, give us some covering fire. Team Katana, protect the good doctor, will you?" Fred issued his orders.
"Oh, don't worry about me, Fred. The warp is almost programmed. I should have it done in a minute or two."
"Then you'll be protected for a minute or two," SCPO Mendez wheezed as he adjusted his body to have a clear shot at the door with his shotgun.
Miraculously, none of them had died during their 10 day stay in the shield world. During that time, they were able to find a colony of friendly Huragok, a rampant Monitor who believed that the Forerunners were still alive and that the Reclaimers were to be exterminated and a massive Forerunner bunker which was strangely uninhabited.
However, they were not without injuries. Fred cracked his shin bone. Ash was shot in the foot. Linda was hobbling after she tore her Achilles tendon falling too hard. Mendez was shot by a sentinel while protecting the doctor.
The door blew inwards, revealing a Monitor with a deep red eye and ten sentinels.
"Surrender, Reclaimers, and submit yourselves to have your memories stored and catalogued. It will do you no good to resist."
As one, the Spartans opened fire. Two of the sentinels fell immediately to the insane amounts of lead that were poured on them, while three more were blown into oblivion by Kelly's fragmentation grenades.
"How dare you! I'll have-" the Monitor never finished that sentence, for at that precise moment 3 shots from Linda's SRS and 2 from Mark's Binary Rifle shattered the Monitor's shielding and tore straight through his eye. The burnt and lifeless chassis of the Monitor fell to the ground with a clang.
The sentinels immediately fired their beams at the sniper duo, causing them to roll out of harm's way. The Spartans turned and opened fire again.
While the chaos of battle surrounded her, Dr. Halsey managed to configure the portal.
"It's active!" she shouted.
Two more went down as Team Katana opened fire, causing one to switch targets. Unfortunately, it missed and hit the control panel, a miss which resulted in its demise.
Fred withdrew his knife from the last sentinel's sparking body, "Is the portal ready?"
"I-I'm not sure. The control panel is fried. The system probably got damaged heavily. I don't even know if it's stable."
More sentinels began pouring into the room.
"I guess we'll just have to find out." Fred replied bluntly, "Spartans! Fall back to the portal. Covering fire! Take the Huragoks with you. I'll be the last to leave. Everyone else, in the portal. NOW!"
They all piled into the portal, Fred and Tom giving covering fire. As soon as Tom stepped backwards into the portal, Fred primed his last grenade and threw it on top of te wires before disappearing after his comrades into the portal.
UNSC Infinity, Te (Lekgolo homeworld), March 9, 2559
"Slipspace engines charged!"
"Good, jump us to the opposite end of the planet, we need to shore up the defences before the Loyalists break through." The recently promoted Captain Lasky ordered.
"Captain, reading multiple slipspace ruptures from… right in front of us," horror filled the young Lieutenant's face.
"What? Abort jump! ABORT JUMP!" Lasky shouted.
Unfortunately, the Captain's orders came too late. As the Infinity tore a hole into slipspace, a Loyalist destroyer emerged from a slipspace rupture from right next to theirs.
The intermingling ruptures merged, slicing the destroyer clean in two. Immediately after that, the Infinity soared into the now unstable rupture.
A/N: Okay. I just named every controversial slipspace manoevre/explosion and made the Dawn make it intact through the portal. Anyways, all is not what it seems. Mass Effect, coming right up next chapter!
P.S. Just so you know, this fic will take a back seat to my other fic, The Toa from Earth in terms of update priority. I'll update every time I get a chapter up or something.