Author's Note: This is the first time I wrote a Fanfic so please forgive any mistakes. This is also a pilot to see your reactions to the story. This story takes place after Spartan Ops and everything before the end of episode 10 of season 1 will be the 'history' of this story. Please review once you're done.
Edit: Since many people disliked this chapter so much, I decided to edit/update it before I continue with the story. I also changed the rank and rewrote most of the chapter, so do not be surprised and do not worry; it does not affect the rest of the story much. I do hope it's not too much of an info dump either. Don't forget to review!
Chapter 1: An Unprecedented Discovery
With the Sun slightly obscured by the brown dust that is Martian soil, setting on the horizon to the East, two figures march in total silence in towards a line of cliffs in the distance in an otherwise an outwardly empty open desert with nothing but the crunch of soil underneath their boots being the only sound heard. But this worries Private First Class Micheal of the Alliance Army, as in an open Martian desert such as this, the sound can be carried for miles without anything to obstruct it. Being new to the planet, he is unaware of how dangerous the local fauna can be. Sure they were briefings about it but he did not expect himself to be out here so he did not pay attention.
He glanced back at the taller Sangheili who had almost literally dragged him out here. The Sangheili, being more military minded, talked to everyone about coming out here to get to know the lay of the land. After many rejections, R'tas 'Moram first tried to convince him to join him instead of going on leave, but upon failing; decided to just drag him out here. Not that he wanted to join the military in the first place.
Citizens of the Alliance had two choices upon reaching the age of maturity of their respective races; one year of military service or two years of civil service. Those who wanted out quick joined the military or if lucky enough, are pardoned from the mandatory service altogether. Since he failed to be the first to be pardoned, he decided to do what most did, join the military. What a great idea that turned out to be.
Cracking his neck, he notices not for the first time that soon it will be dark and they have to find shelter. Although he thinks the Sangheili accompanying doesn't mind sleeping in the open. He turned back and saw the Sangheili, seemingly unconcerned about the fact that there are only a few moments of daylight left looking at something in the distance or perhaps just daydreaming.
"Hey, R'tas," he called out.
The Sangheili merely turned his head and stared at him with beady brown eyes filled with curiosity.
"Know where we are heading?" Micheal asks calmly.
"I think we are going to the cliffs. There should be caves where we can seek shelter," R'tas said flatly.
"Sometimes I wish you can be more open," he said before adding "You keep to yourself too much,"
"I am with my own thoughts,"
He is starting to think that R'tas had failed his English exam, or at the very most passed as he seems to lack vocabulary. Since humans are the most populous in the Alliance compared to other races and English being the most widely spoken; it is only natural for it to become the lingua franca.
Thinking back to how inferior humanity was to the Covenant when they first encountered, they had come so far to the point that the Covenant and the UNSC had joined up. Just because of a famine.
Years ago, a famine spread across Covenant worlds, one at a time. It started slowly at first, appearing as small manageable ones causing minimal damage. Then crops across the entire Covenant failed at once overnight. Livestock quickly died out and there were severe food shortages.
Even the UNSC was affected although somehow managed to recoil from the loss of food. UNSC efforts to help the Covenant plant new strains ended in misery and failure. The Arbiter even begged on his knees, a place no Sangheili has ever gone to, begging for the UNSC to share their food.
The UNSC reluctantly agreed. As time went by, there seems to be no sign of the end of the famine. Eventually the Covenant Empire collapsed. Population losses were massive even with UNSC help but nothing like what they had wrought upon humanity a few years prior. Somehow, somewhere, a deal was struck. The Covenant Empire and the UEG will become a single entity. The System Alliance was born.
While each planet governs itself, they all ultimately answer to the Alliance. Like states self-governing in some areas and the central government dealing with the rest. The seat of government was moved to the newly re-terraformed Reach and the military capital to Sanghelios once things improved. And they did, and surprisingly quickly too.
"Penny for your thoughts?"
"What? Oh it's nothing,"
"Then tell me how we are going to get to those cliffs before dusk. That's when the desert is most active. It will be crawling with wildlife, many dangerous," R'tas hissed.
"Hey it is your expedition! I thought you have planned for everything before we came out here," he replied slightly annoyed.
"I did not account for your short legs,"
He snorted in response to the insult. He did not want to start an argument.
Now that he mentioned it, they needed to get to the cliffs which are at least another 4 kilometers away, find a suitable cave, since R'tas is taller than him by at least a head and start a fire with only an hour of daylight remaining. Even though the nights are not as cold as it was before the terraforming of the planet centuries ago, it still was cold. And he did not want to be feeling chilled to the bone for a few hours before falling asleep. He had no doubts that R'tas will be able to survive the night alone and the look in his eyes says so.
He concluded that R'tas was genuinely concerned for his wellbeing as they could survive together in the open if they can start a fire. Although he may or may not be as fit as he is now the following morning while R'tas would most likely be unfazed.
As he completed the thought, the ground beneath his feet gave way and he plunged into the darkness screaming. After falling a considerable distance he hit the ground beneath him on his side, but not as hard as he thought he would.
"Are you all right?" A voice from above inquired.
Groaning, he turned onto his back and looked up. He felt as if he was staring into a light that penetrated the darkness around him. The way he believes Christians see the light as they died. And so he does the first thing that came to his mind.
"Are you an angel?" Instead of hearing anything comprehensible, or even remotely familiar, he heard to him what sounded like a string of clicking and hissing noises coming from above him which he presumed is Sangheili.
"I am just kidding R'tas. I'm fine," Micheal said as he painfully stood up brushing the brown dust off his similarly colored fatigues that has gathered on him from the moment he set out on this trip while observing his surroundings, his eyes readjusting to the grim impenetrable darkness.
"I will lower a rope into the hole and get you out of there," came again the voice, echoing of the walls of the cavern. If that is what it is. He fumbled prying into his backpack he has been carrying for the past 6 hours looking for a flashlight. It felt like minutes have past when he finally found it.
As he turned it on, he could see that it was a tunnel. This tunnel led to a dust encrusted metal wall about 20 meters on one side and stretching another 30 meters on the other side leading to a brown wall. The sides of the tunnel are very wide, roughly as wide as the tunnel is as tall.
Upon closer inspection, the tunnel seems to be supported by pillars which are, like the metal wall, dust encrusted. He knew instinctively that they were metal, and know that he thought about it, could not explain why. The architecture looked alien, not Covenant, human or even Forerunner. And he had seen quite a bit of Forerunner architecture before.
"What do you see," a voice, which had been silent the whole time and no doubt R'tas's interrupted Micheal's train of thought as a rope is lowered.
"I don't know." He began. "But I think we discovered something big,"
Edit:There you have it! Improved chapter 1. I will try to stick to my promise on posting a new chapter around Christmas but quite a bit has turned up so I may be delayed a little. Don't forget to drop a review!