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Aftermath by Alex Ross



Aftermath Part 1
Date: 30 March 2002, 1:38 am

     Approximately 1 day A.H. (After Halo)

The covenant armed forces focused specifically on finding away to regroup their forces after the heavy losses at Reach and to try and ascertain the location of earth. That's exactly what Omnitus had in mind, but he found something that distracted him. A remarkably tall golden elite soldier, he is both an excellent field commander as well as a remarkable fleet commander. However, he ordered all his fleet to intercept the human that had destroyed the sacred object, Halo. He questioned his own orders about diverting the fleet to intercept one Longsword fighter, but after witnessing the destructive capabilities this human possesses, he was taking no chances.
     His fleet was consisted of his cruiser, 2 destroyers, and 4 frigates. Covenant orders on board a ship were harsh. Disobeying or even questioning a commander's orders either meant instant retaliation or simply death by the commander. No one was about to question Omnitus, not even the boastful hunters because after the destruction of Halo and loss of many covenant troops, he was in a very bad mood.
     Covenant rankings were based on a combination of the warrior caste system and their religious devotion to the gods. On the bridge of a covenant vessel, the chain of command goes like this; the elites were the top military commanders, no question, and any covenant on board the bridge was either an elite or scientist. The scientist was a floating slug like creature with tentacles and they were in charge of everything technical such as radar, engine, and shield monitoring. The hunters are in charge of manual labor on board the ship, such as refitting generators or carrying cargo. Yes, they are higher in the caste system then the grunts or jackals and manual labor is such a plebian task, but they were the best at this type of labor. If they were not doing manual work, they just waited in the quarters for the upcoming battle, for their best occupation is as soldiers. As for the grunts and jackals, they were in charge of engineering, the reactor, and anything else not associated with the bridge. Some elites supervised them and gave orders to each one. Omnitus is a golden elite for a reason, which is the highest of the elite color ranks, the others being blue, black, and red. His heroic and honored commands of the ground forces on planet Reach moved him quickly up through the Covenant ranks, surpassing some of his superiors in a heartbeat.
     "Tucan drek?" a red elite shouted as he pointed on a screen that viewed the space in front of them. He basically asked, "is that him?"
     "Sine comrado sine lech." "Yes comrade yes it is." This was of course referring to the Master Chief in the Longsword. The covenant tongue had evolved into more of a Germanic tongue (as you can see from comrado=comrade) because the humans don't know it, but a major revolution in language occurred on the Covenant home world led by the "scientist" reformer Secondus. Secondus believed it was an easier language to speak and could be expanded upon more easily, but he was persecuted by the prophets (the highest covenant of the caste system) for going against the old language, which they believed, was the language of the gods. However, after much persuasion, Secondus forced the prophets to accepting the new changes for the language, believing the language would be useful for communicating with the humans if necessary. Most combat personnel were required to learn some English if interrogation practices were also necessary. Thus they incorporated the English language, a derivative of the Germanic tongue, in their language and the Covenant language itself is still constantly changing. (for the rest of the story the Covenant will speak English)
     "Prepare to dispatch interceptors."
     "How many, lord?"
     "10. If they alone cannot handle the human, then we will have to move quickly to get the fleet into battle." Elite pilots went to their banshees, but not before the ritual of the sacred light. Every covenant soldier about to go into battle dips their fingers in a dish of a glowing blue liquid water and rubs it on their chest. This leads to a mistake that many humans assume. The Covenant do not have one home world. They actually have 5. One is the main capital of the Covenant Axis and is where the prophets reside. All of the planets orbit a bright blue star that is to them what the sun is to humans. The glowing blue liquid actually comes from a rare vegetation on the Covenant capital planet. Chlorophyll is what makes the planets on earth green, while the "chlorophyll" of the covenant planets is blue. A glowing blue if it is mixed directly with water. Their bright blue star gives the Covenant and plants life, which is why they view the bright blue liquid as a sacred symbol of life.
This ritual was interrupted brusquely for all the sudden, 10 UNSC warships came out of slipspace right in front of the Covenant fleet in an effort to defend the Longsword. The stars twirled around in a fast circle as the slipspace portal closed behind them. This was a pretty good jump for a species with inadequate slipspace technology. All the covenant troops instantly went into panic and were all headed to their posts or ships. Omnitus just growled at the sight, caring little for the other humans.
     The Longsword fighter however docked with the UNSC cruiser, Liberator, and now Omnitus had no choice, but to engage the fleet with both plasma missiles and the standard boarding parties. The drop ships were necessary in case the Spartan did not fight in outer space and he wanted to try and ascertain the location of earth.
     "Triple the amount of interceptors and get the minion divisions (jackals and grunts) as well as the behemoths (hunters) to their transports. Wait...make that 31 banshees."
     "You're going too lord?"
     "This destroyer of Halo is one persistent human. I can read his mind. This one is different from the others. He was obviously bred for combat from the day he was born. There were others like him on Reach when our dropships landed. According to the study of human tongue they were called the Spartans. I have a little knowledge of human history and what I do know of the original Spartans is they were a war-like culture that almost never lost a battle."
     Omnitus was different then the other elite commanders. He may be born for war's combat and strategy, but he had an affiliation to study his enemies' culture. On many worlds he has conquered, before each planet is glassed, he secretly takes human artifacts just to observe and study. During his studies he has learned most of the human language, for covenant were faster learners than humans. He is currently reading an artifact book he found in a human museum, Greece: The Pinnacle of Civilization.
"The name certainly fits. For the first time in my life I feel challenged by a human, but I will treat him like any other human that we have encountered from the beginning of this conquest. You don't have to worry about that."



Aftermath Part 2
Date: 30 March 2002, 3:47 am

     "You senseless bastard! Why the hell did you not activate the engines when I told you to?" Cortana shouted violently. For a huge block of digital information, she had a quick temper.
     John was trying not to listen to her and was mainly focused on the poundings he heard resonate throughout Liberator. Banshees, he thought. It was just a matter of time before the rest of the Covenant fleet engages the UNSC fleet as well. His golden green armor was peppered with plasma burns everywhere and it had been one day since the escape from Halo. One day of outwitting the Covenant forces, no food, and the only person to talk to was Cortana. It could not get any worse.
     "I was trying to activate the Shiva warhead on the fighter. OK, Mom?"
     "Whatever, lets get to the bridge and talk to the captain."
     "Admiral. The commander of this ship is an admiral. Admiral Preston to be precise." He knew the Liberator had a skilled commander.
     Two marine troops ran in the docking bay towards the Master Chief, somewhat astonished at the scars on his armor.
     "Master Chief, it's good to see you alive! The admiral needs you on the bridge now!"
     The chief ran as fast as his MJORNIR armor could take him and ran clear out of the docking bay. Little did he know that after escaping Halo, the Longsword he had had brought something back with him... something horrible. The creature in the fighter gazed at the two marine soldiers in the bay with a killing instinct and it immediately leapt out of the shadows under the fighter, on to one of the marines...
     
     "Sir, we surprised the covenant with MAC rounds (powerful red slugs that lowered an enemies shields and knocked a ship out of position with great force) and managed to destroy two of their frigates, but those banshees are ripping through our armor awfully fast. Two banshees have been destroyed so far and... PLASMA MISSILES LOCKED ON US SIR!!!"
     The admiral stared at the window as he saw three big sparks emerge from the covenant cruiser and head straight toward his vessel. " Get ready for emergency thrusters!"
     "Aye sir!" When the plasma missiles almost met their mark, the emergency thrusters propelled the whole ship to the right, all the missiles missing and flying behind them. To the admiral's horror, he now saw 10 troop transports heading towards the Liberator, firing furiously. They were heading straight for the docking bay where the master chief once was!
     "Damn! Shut those doors Mikaso!"
     "Yes sir!" Lt. Mikaso did what he was ordered. The docking doors were slowly shutting, but all the sudden they were jammed and the troop transports entered in the dock all in one piece.
     "Master Chief, this is the admiral. Summon my troops from their locker rooms, armed and ready, and lead them to the docks and send those covies to hell!"
     "Understood." The radio said back.
     "Mikaso, fire missiles from bays 1-12. Make those banshees scrap. Then launch the Longswords."
     
     Omnitus grinned in his banshee gleefully as he saw the troop transports land inside the UNSC vessel. He eyed a UNSC destroyer charging up its MAC cannon and headed straight for it. The destroyer immediately fired missiles to take down the suicidal commander, but Omnitus veered through them perfectly and fired a green torpedo straight into the MAC cannon. Fire spewed from the cannon and the entire front section of the vessel split in half. The ship was permanently out of commission.
     All the sudden, two Longswords tailed him and both fired missiles. Omnitus did a somersault and both missiles flew by harmlessly. The fighters then fired 50mm cannons and gained speed on Omnitus. A second destroyer saw what this banshee did to its sister ship and was charging up its MAC cannon to fire on the Covenant cruiser. Omnitus once again headed straight for the UNSC destroyer, but decided to try something different. He then flew far away from the vessel and summoned two escort banshees to fly near both wings. The Longswords were now in pursuit of 3 banshees and once again Omnitus charged the UNSC destroyer with a frontal assault. The MAC cannon fired and all three banshees veered out of the way and it did not see the Longswords behind the 3 banshees. The banshees then separated leaving the Longswords at the mercy of the powerful MAC. The shot vaporized them instantly.
     While reveling in his triumph a little too much, he spotted two missiles heading straight towards his banshee. Too late to maneuver. Both missiles hit the banshee and he was now badly damaged. Even through the hull of the banshee, sparks flew and pieces of metal started falling and one crushed his leg. Omnitus's leg was bleeding, but he was too mad at his carelessness to care. In rage he decided instead of going back to his ship for a new banshee, he would fly into the Liberator's docking bay. He plowed the ship forward through space, dodging the fire fights from both sides and saw the battle in the docking bay between UNSC troops and his own. The covenant were using their dropships as cover against the marines near the entrance to the docking bay from space. He hovered over the middle of the battle, and jumped out of his banshee, while it was moving forward, onto a marine, killing him in one blow from 20 feet above. Omnitus's shields recharged and he stood quickly up on the docking bay floor and saw a marine sniper eyeing him from a great distance, near a lot of crates . The sniper did not take into account the abandoned banshee that was flying and descending straight toward him. The banshee crashed onto the floor and slid into the sniper's position, shattering his skeletal structure and slamming his remains against the wall. The rest of the marines retreated in alarm, which now gave the covenant control of the docking bay.
     All the covenant troops looked at their commander in awe as he activated his glowing saber and brought a plasma rifle in the other hand. He was unstoppable. He slowly walked up to the elite commander, still staring at Omnitus in awe.
     "Holy sh-"
     "What's the fleet status?" Omnitus asked quickly.
     The red elite came back to his senses and informed him that they had lost 2 frigates and one destroyer. The fleet was losing, but they had boarded the UNSC flagship, which gave them the advantage.
     "All troops, prepare to storm the bridge."
     All the covenant troops checked their weapons and were preparing to move out when all the sudden the legendary Spartan with 10 marines stormed the docking bay. The MC and the Marine did a grenade barrage right in the middle of the covenant forces. All the grunts and jackals fled as the grenades let loose their fury, killing about 10 of the little minions. One knocked Omnitus to the side, but did little damage. The hunters got in front of the Omnitus, defending him from the marines' barrage of assault rifle bullets with their shields. The hunters fired their mortar cannons and two marines fell to the ground, one without a head. Omnitus saw the Spartan through the hunter line and looked upon him with a vengeance. He would kill him. He was certain.
     
     Admiral Preston now was very worried. During the battle in the docking bay the UNSC vessels had destroyed both the destroyers escorting the cruiser and another frigate with their MAC cannons. The UNSC to covenant ship ratio was now 6:3 for they had lost 2 destroyers and 2 frigates. He was not worried about fleet strength, he was worried about the covenant troops that were storming his vessel.
     "Smith get a fix on what's going on downstairs with the Chief and-"
     Before he could finish his statement he instinctively lifted his pistol out of his holster and pointed it to the air duct network above him. His forehead was sweating now as he stared upwards.
     "Sir, what's the matter?" Mikaso inquired.
     "There is something in the air du-"
     A tentacle shot out of the air duct and grabbed the admiral by the face dragging him up in the ceiling. Everybody on deck lifted their pistols and the guards on deck holstered their assault rifles at the scene. They heard violent fighting above and then a violent scream. What followed next was the eeriest silence ever. Then admiral's body fell to the floor with one of his arms severed and his face totally gone. Many gasps from the crew followed and most of them ran in horror, not knowing what to do without their commander. Behind the fleeing troops, two human sized creatures emerged from the air duct with tentacles on one arm and one human arm. Then many spider like creatures emerged from the air as well with embryonic sacs on their backs. All the creatures had a parasitic like appearance. They had survived.



Aftermath Part 3
Date: 31 March 2002, 4:40 am

     The chief finally took down the hunters by distracting them away from the lines and shooting them in the back, their weak spot. This left the elite, grunt, and jackal lines wide open for attack. However, the jackals activated their shields, formed and awesome phalanx, and took to the front line. The elites and grunts fell back to their dropships on the other side of the hangar near the entrance from space, as well as an unusually tall golden elite. The covie dropships lifted off, probably to return to the ship for reinforcements, but this left the marines at the mercy of the jackals.
     "Any ideas for breaking this line? They fight to the death to protect their commanders." John-117 asked Cortana.
     "Grenades would do nicely"
     "Sorry, fresh out." Then all the sudden John saw 10 incredibly huge humans run through the door to the docking bay with 5 toting rocket launchers. They were the ODSTs (orbital drop shock troopers or the UNSC's special forces) and they launched missile mayhem on the jackal lines. The explosions threw the jackals in disarray and they tried to retreat back to dropships for cover, but the five ODSTs without rocket launchers plowed the retreats down with assault rifle fire.
     "Master Chief sir. They took the docking bay near the front of the ship, near where the escape pods are. We need to get the admiral, set the self destruct sequence, and get the hell out of here." The ODST was not easily shaken by this chaos, a trait John admired in a non-Spartan.
     John obeyed the order and joined the special forces in the hall and went into the cafeteria. They welded the doors shut with metal bars and all stood around a cafeteria table. The special forces commander spoke, Lt. Gibson, spoke up. "Welcome to our squad Master Chief. Alright listen up." He pulled out a map of the vessel from his pocket. It was a great coincidence to board a ship with one of the best fighting forces ever. "We are now near here, in the rear docking bay on the left side of the ship. In order to escape it is imperative that we take the docking bay near the front of the ship so we can use the pelicans to escape. If they are "out of order" then we'll use the escape pods nearby. Three dropships are in that docking bay and 4 are in the docking bay we just left. They will probably leave the docking bays and come back with more troops for each docking bay." This was not good. If the covenant keep piling in troops, the admiral will surely die. The Lt. communicated with his second team near the northern docking bay by radio and was just informed that reinforcements have arrived in the northern docking bay and the dropships in the southern docking bay are on their way with more troops. That was quick. "Our first destination is the bridge. Alright let's move out."
     
     Omnitus was on a troop transport of 3 heading back to the docking bay they just fought in. He escaped the fight to get reinforcements. The northern docking by was now filled with 4 troops transports each carrying 6 elites. This time, he was taking all elite fighters. He stared at the variety: red, blue, gold, and the special black division, the most feared of covenant forces.
     "There is no honor in cowardice. You all know what you must do" Omnitus yelled. The elites nodded, knowing the job at hand; eliminate the Spartan threat, once and for all.
     
     The special forces met up with the second team and they were glad to see the Master Chief there for sure. Lt. Mikhail of the second team informed them that of their 15 men, they lost 5 to the elite divisions that just landed in the northern bay.
     "How bad was it?" inquired the Master Chief.
     "Pretty bad. We took down 8 elites, but to my recollection, I count 16 more alive."
     "16 more?!"
     "Not only that. They have sabotaged our pelicans and there is a covenant frigate keeping its distance from the Liberator, but it is ready to fire on any escape pods that jettison."
     Cortana than suggested, "Lieutenant, how about using the covenant dropships to escape? I can interface with the controls."
     Gibson looked doubtful, but agreed to the idea.
     "Then we have to act fast before those troops transports leave and get more troops."
     "We managed to get some of these from 3 elites before we retreated here." Mikhail revealed 3 optic camouflages. This would prove to their advantage. However, the door to the northern docking bay exploded and the covenant troops rampaged through, plasma rifles firing. Master Chief got ahead of the ODSTs taking most of the punishment with his shield. Gibson threw the Chief a rocket launcher and the chief let one fly straight at the elites coming through the door. Two elites fell dead from the impact, while many others were severely injured. Then elites from the other side of the hall charged towards the surrounded squad. They were the ones from the southern docking bay. All the humans saw the entrance to the vehicle armory. There was no way to get to the covenant dropships now and all made a run for the door. Three ODST units went down trying to get to the door. All saw two scorpion tanks and a few warthogs. Perfect.
     "Hurry, take cover," Cortana barked. Two of the special forces welded the doors shut into the armory.
     "I've got an idea. Everybody hide," the Chief ordered. He told Mikhail and Gibson too use the optic camouflages. The rest of the special forces hid behind the warthogs, tanks, and scattered crates in the room. The Chief and two commanders positioned themselves so effectively that the elites were sure to be in for a surprise.
     
     Omnitus watched as the elites were trying to break down the 6-inch thick titanium doors that led into the vehicle room, but to no avail.
     "Stand back" Omnitus said. The 32 eager elites stood back as their master planted plasma explosives on the doors. Omnitus ran back and the doors literally flew into the next room due to the explosion. The elites poured in to the room going to sides of the room as well as to make a barrage of plasma fire toward anything that moved. Omnitus pushed ahead of his elites to get a glimpse at his enemy with his glowing saber at hand. Nothing moved. Everything was completely silent. The elites listened and looked everywhere and nothing, except the looming vehicles around them, appeared to be a threat. In his own tongue, Omnitus told all the elites to begin a search of the whole area, not taking into account the stealth figures sitting in the cockpits of the tanks.
     
     "Now!!!" the Chief ordered from above in a pelican hanging on the ceiling. The two tanks roared their engines to life and both launched powerful shells onto the lines of elites. The two shells alone murdered 10 elites, but it was not over yet. The ODSTs came out of hiding and rained grenade hell from afar on the elites. Nine more elites fell victim to this onslaught and now the ODSTs opened fire with their assault rifles on the elite lines. The elite lines were in total chaos and now the Chief jumped from above and kicked an elite smack in the face while shooting another in the head. The moment he landed, he was met by a deft blow from a powerful gold elite that destroyed his stealth camo. The chief's shields dropped instantly and he was sent flying. The chief landed on the side of a warthog and caught a blurry vision of the same gold elite running towards him, sword ready to taste blood.
     "Chief, move for the love of God!" Cortana screamed. John immediately rolled out of the way and the elite brought the sword down on the warthog instead, slicing through the metal like fabric. The chief stayed down on his stomach now because he had rolled into the line of fire between the ODSTs and the elites.
     "What the hell?" the Chief wondered as he saw the gold elite jump over the line of fire to a certain pillar along the wall of the vehicle bay. It sliced it in half and to the Chief's horror he saw the pelican hanging above him detach and start on a descent towards him. The chief jumped out of the way and did not see the disastrous thud as the ship crushed one of the scorpions. Two of the special forces turned to fire upon the behemoth elite. To their horror, the elite cloaked and jumped into the air. Both of the troops were wondering where it disappeared.
     "Where the hell-"
     Then one of the ODSTs looked at his comrade who was lifted 5 feet into the air through his stomach by a vicious sword. All he could was watch in amazement at his friend screaming to death, impaled on the devil's sword. Blood flowed out of him like never before. Can a human possess such mortal blood? The elite tossed the body from his sword across the vehicular armory and punched the head of the other ODST right in the face, knocking his head off. The ODST had actually come to his senses, but it was a little late for that.
     "OH MY GOD", the Master Chief exclaimed as he saw this super elite. It was time for retaliation. The Master Chief lobbed a frag at the elite lines, threw back the rocket launcher to Gibson, to which he fired a rocket smack into the super elite that was actually still cloaked. The shields flickered, but still held!
     "Jesus Christ," Gibson gasped as he saw the elite charge for him. The Master Chief jumped on a warthog cannon and fired immediately at the golden death.
     "Oh shit", John said as he saw the elite turn and lob a plasma grenade at the warthog. This one was different. As he saw the glowing red object heading for the warthog, he knew what was coming next. The new grenade exploded on impact, throwing the Master Chief off the now ruined warthog. Before the chief could rise on his feet, a loud impact resonated throughout the hall, knocking every soldier off their feet. The steel frames that cascaded along the ceiling came crashing down throughout the vehicle room.
     
     "I've had it with waiting. Attack that vessel, but don't destroy it! Our courageous commander is onboard." Muteka was the second in command aboard the covenant flagship, and now authorized a barrage of plasma missiles fired at the Liberator. "Make sure the ship has taken enough damage only so it can't fire or defend itself." He had no knowledge however that the Liberator would not fire a single shot again after what took place on the bridge....
     
     The vehicle armory was in ruins. Everywhere metal poles, pipes, and whatever covered the floor. No one survived, except for a very dazed Master Chief. His shields slowly recharged and he got up off the floor examining the room.
     "Cortana, what's the situation with the admiral?" No answer. His head must have been banged pretty badly. He took off his helmet for the first time in a long time, revealing his thick black hair and aggressive appearance. He was a soldier indeed. He opened up the back of his helmet. Good, the chip for Cortana was intact, but the encryption reader was in shambles. As he was putting his helmet back on, he heard a moan only 5 meters away.
     "Mikhail! How bad are you hurt?" He noticed a cut right in his upper leg, too which there was no escape from death's grip. Just then, movement behind him caught the chief's attention, and he turned around to see a transparent hand punch him square in the chest, knocking the chief to the wall. The thud probably resounded throughout the ship as the Master Chief became immobile from the impact. It was the golden death he saw as it decloak with a special glowing dagger. All Mikhail could do was scream in agony before the golden figure severed his head from his body.
     The elite then charged at the MC to which he was too shocked to react. It grabbed the MC by the neck and pinned him against the wall, 3 feet in the air. The elite examined the face of the legendary Spartan closely while raising the glowing dagger to John's face, still in a chokehold.
     
     Omnitus eyed his new caught prey. This is the legendary Spartan? He is just like the others, he thought silently. No different. Now he would see if this warrior could fight in his true form.
     
      The MC was gasping for air and looked in horror as the elite lowered the dagger to his armored stomach. The elite started slicing through the body armor of the Spartan, taking large gashes of metal and armor lining apart, during which the whole time the MC was screaming defenselessly. Loud sparks of scraping metal filled the room. The elite constantly slashed at the armored stomach with the MC terrified of what would happen if the dagger cut through the whole nine yards. Then it started cutting the armor on his arms, quickly going for his legs, and finally his neck. With one hand on the human neck and one hand on the armor, the golden figure pulled John out of the armor and threw him back into the metallic ruins covering the floor, away from the wall. John was too astonished to wonder why he was still alive to actually notice that his armor lie useless and in pieces on the floor. He only wore a pure white t-shirt and military issued pants. He glanced up at the ruthless creature. Then it did something shocking. The golden elite ripped off its stealth camo and its shield generator, which were about the size of cigarette packs, and crushed them with his hand. What power, John thought instinctively. It threw down its plasma rifle, staring at John the whole time, and threw John something peculiar. It landed with a light tapping sound, a little black semi circle with a grip, but it then suddenly came to life and a glowing blue saber jutted out of it. Then the elite itself pulled out a duplicate sword. John understood now. Honor was at stake here and he had to fight for it. John picked up the sword and carefully stood up on top the ruined metal. He stepped forward threw the fires around the room to the elite standing in the middle of a flat area. Now the area was an arena.
     "Now we fight for who we truly are," the golden elite stated. John was impressed by the way he used the English tongue, but he knew the task at hand and quickly charged.
     



Aftermath Part 4
Date: 14 April 2002, 1:08 am

     Muteka had just ordered a salvo of plasma missiles launched at the last of the UNSC's frigate. The blue balls of fire immediately melted the armor lining of the ship away and the commander was too late too stop the decompression in the breached hulls. The ship imploded to half it's size and was dead in space. Muteka now focused his aim at the 2 destroyers escorting the Liberator.
      "Charge main turrent batteries and prepare to fire another salvo," Muteka himself was a golden elite. Although he was not nearly as skilled as his commander, he indeed was a worthy one. Muteka watched as a red elite went to the other side of the bridge to complete the commands. The bridge of the cruiser itself was a large rectangular room that had mostly purple tones and had an organic feel to it. A large ramp in the center of the room was where the commander stood with computers all around him at the top of the ramp. At the sides of the room were computers as well, where other elites and scientists operated. Beyond the top of the ramp on the wall was the viewing screen to allow the commander to see the battle up ahead.
      "Barrage is away," the red elite stated. Muteka was satisfied to see the salvo split up to intercept both destroyers. Just then something caught his eye. "Evasive maneuvers! 30 degrees down!" Muteka had reacted in time, but it was still too late as he saw the MAC rounds from each UNSC destroyer slam into his ship. The ship's shields immediately went offline. The rounds shook up the bridge and he was thrown off the ramp. He was cursing too himself the whole time on the ground. A blue elite immediately went to aid his commander.
      "Are you all right my lord?"
      "Prepare to fire pulse laser fire on those devils and any missiles that are launched! Now!" He watched as his plasma missiles hit their mark, rupturing the front sections of both destroyers. This alone did serious damage to the destroyers, but did not put them out of action. Just then missiles streaked out of the pods lining the destroyers and were all inbound for his ship. Muteka was not about to give the humans the satisfaction of a victory, but he wished his commander was here...

      "AAARRRRGGGHHH!" The gold elite let out a loud roar as John severed a gash of flesh off its chest with his saber. Purple blood flowed to the floor, but that only seemed to make it mad. John had a large but superficial gash on his left arm. Fortunately it wasn't the arm using the sword. The elite charged at John and took a large jab for his stomach. John deflected the elite's sword downward and rolled to the left out of attack range.
      "You'll never win you devil," John shouted.
      "Devil? You destroyed sacred ground. Better watch who you call devil!" I guess everybody knows about Halo, John wondered. The elite brought the sword down to John's head to which he met with an offensive block, pushing the elite's sword back. It was now a struggle of strength, with pushing the other's sword back being each contender's goal.
      "You know Spartan, I saw others like you when I landed on Reach. They put up a good fight before I sent them to what you call hell!" This easily set John on edge. His comrades slayed by this aberration? John brought his left leg up during the sword struggle and kicked one of the elite's arms hard. Before he could bring his leg down, the elite grabbed it and pulled the leg behind itself, making John fall to the floor. He lay on the ground unable to move. The elite brought his sword down to kill the Spartan to which John blocked with all his might. Slowly, but fiercely it forced the sword farther down near his face and glow of the sword was so intense it nearly blinded him.
      "Now Spartan. Go to hell!" The elite drove the sword to where the tip almost touched his forehead when the elite was all the sudden pushed from behind and was sent flying over John. John's pupil's adjusted quickly from the bright light of the saber and he saw something that should have been dead.
      "The flood?!?" John saw a mutated marine with a assault rifle aim upward towards his chest. John rolled to the side, dodging the incoming fire, and threw his saber at the creature, killing it instantly. If there was indeed a soul in the creature it sure as hell wasn't there now. He saw the elite fighting similar creatures all around. John had no time for this. Without his MJOLNIR armor, he was susceptible to infection. To his horror he saw many of the flood spores poor through the airducts into the armory, ready to infect anything. He picked up the saber and started to make a run for it.
      "Give my regards to Satan asshole," John yelled at the elite before running out the door. He still had Cortana's chip and needed to get to the bridge of the Liberator in order to do 2 things. Ensure that the flood cannot pilot this ship at all and get Cortana to start the self-destruct sequence. It was going to be a busy day.

      Muteka had had his fill of punishment. The pulse laser fire was not enough to stop a swarm of Archer missiles heading into the cruiser. They had punctured the port side of his vessel. He had watched the impacts of the Archer missiles. Once impacted, they blossomed like fire flowers all over his ship. One had punctured so far and managed to damage the main reactor and the ship was now dead in space. The bridge was engulfed in flames and everybody on the bridge was either dead or dying.
      Muteka looked around his ramp at the sea of fire around him with rage and despair. He charged a plasma rifle from a dead elite nearby and put it to his head.
      "Forgive me Lord Junata." After uttering the words honoring the head prophet, he pulled the trigger.

      John saw a flood soldier ahead of him in the hall leading towards the ammunition armory. He charged at it and brought the saber through the creature's head. The head split in half and the creature fell to the ground lifeless. He opened the door to the armory and immediately grabbed an M90 combat shotgun and all the ammo he could carry. He grabbed a marine backpack and put his saber and spare ammo in it. It was time for him to get to the bridge. Before he exited the armory he noticed another door in the dimly lit room. The door read "Restricted Access. All Unauthorized Personnel May Not Enter". The admiral can wait half a moment, John thought. Then he noticed another sign on the door, which was the symbol for a biohazard. John didn't care and entered anyway. Good God! He saw row after row of tall metallic canisters in the room filled with G-219. G-219 was a strong type of nerve gas invented in the 24th century in order to deal with rebel factions on earth. The factions disagreed over all the countries uniting to form the Republic of Earth and preferred their separate countries. Most people did not share the same view and the conflict turned violent and the Republican special forces gassed many enemy barracks with this lethal gas. First of all, it caused paralyzation and then instant death. What was it doing here? He saw a computer terminal labeled ONI on the screen. Figures they're in charge of this. John started to type keys on the screen randomly to get it to function.
      "Would you like to learn about Operation Viper?" the computer asked in a gentle feminine voice. John touched "Yes" on the screen and a presentation came on screen.
      "Operation Viper is the extensive use of G-219 nerve gas throughout the covenant campaign in order to eliminate the threat. Through its use in grenades, rockets, or even bullets, G-219 is designed to neutralize enemies in a wide radius with quick results. A 1/2 a pint amount could take out a major battalion of covenant by conventional missile. Grenade launchers have been fitted with G-219. Once inhaled, the enemy is instantly paralyzed and dies a fraction of a second later." John couldn't believe that the military would stoop so low as to use biological terror against the enemy. Yes, G-219 did its job effectively, but if used improperly or for worse matters, captured by the covenant, it could cost the lives of humans as well.
      He saw a type of armor on the wall that said "Project Mjolnir".
      "Looks like Viper was going to be in the hands of the Spartans!" John was surprised. ONI did not trust the Spartans and had usually relied on their prized Orbital Drop Shock Troopers, who now of course lay in ruins. Why shift this operation to the Spartans? He didn't care right this minute and quickly tried putting on the armor and succeeded, along with a newly issued helmet. Not only did it project teammates and the crosshair for his gun, but it had infrared vision and projected levels of G-219 in a certain area. This uniform was specifically designed for Operation Viper and next to where the armor was, was a grenade launcher, fitted with G-219 rounds. Who knows, if he were the only left in a certain area, he would use them against the covenant. Or the flood. He sprinted out of both rooms and quickly made his way to the bridge. What he found was bodies of marines that littered the floor in the stages of mutation and with a special mutation like Captain Keyes near the bridge controls, the Admiral. John quickly destroyed the mutation and brought out Cortana's chip and inserted it into the bridge's controls.
      "Miss me?" the MC asked.
      "Thank God! I thought I actually "died" when I went dark. Wait a minute. I'm analyzing the structure of your armor. This is not the same model. What happened?"
      "Long story. Can you activate the self-destruct sequence?"
      "No problem." John watched as the symbols raced furiously across Cortana's body. "There, 12 minutes. Will that suffice?"
      "More than enough," The MC answered. "Method of escape?"
      "According to surveillance there are a couple covenant dropships in the docking bay near here. I can fly us out of here if you allow me to interface with the controls."
      "Will do." The MC detached Cortana from the bridge controls and back into his helmet. He sprinted 65 miles down the hall. That was 15 mph faster than his last suit. He learned something knew every moment.
      "I've just got one question Cortana. How did the flood get onboard this vessel?"
      "My best guess is that there were flood on the Longsword to begin with. Remember, the door to the Longsword was open when we got there. " Then he realized it. When he was making a run for the Longsword on Halo, the door to the craft was indeed open when he got there. There might have been a few flood creatures waiting for him onboard! But, they waited a whole day to strike? They could have killed him when he was alone onboard the Longsword. Why strike now? Perhaps they were getting more intelligent about when the best time to look for a host is? It didn't matter right this second. Sure enough when he got to the docking bay there were 2 covenant dropships. And a lot of Flood.
      "Cortana, you went through this ship's program on the bridge. Did you scan for human survivors?"
      "Yes I did. None were detected by my scanners."
      Upon hearing this, the Master Chief instantly launched a G-219 nerve gas grenade into the center of the room. The gas flooded the whole docking bay and it instantly paralyzed and killed all Flood life in the area.
      "Good, the nerve gas have effect on the flood, which probably means they have an effect on the covenant as well." Cortana answered. "Looks like the ONI spooks did something right for a change." The MC ran for the covenant dropship's cockpit and hopped in. The seat was actually rather comfortable. In the back part or neck of the dropship there were actually two seats. The one farthest forward was the cockpit and the one farther back controlled the turrent.
      "Cortana, get ready." The MC wired Cortana's chip with the covenant dropship and the ship instantly blared to life and slowly exited the docking bay.

      Whatever this gas was it killed everything behind him. The brave elite quickly ran to the docking bay near the rear of the ship. He entered the giant room, ruins of human troop transports everywhere, but there was one covenant troop transport left. Omnitus made a run for it across the vast bay. Just then flood poured out of the airducts above him and landed right in front of him, cutting off his escape. He had no shield and at that moment he saw a purple blip in the middle of space from the docking bay doors. The Spartan no doubt. He had no choice but to fight his way through. Omnitus drew his saber and in doing so slashed a flood soldier in half from the bottom up. Green blood flowed to the floor and the two pieces of the flood fell to the ground. He punched the head of a mutated elite clear across the room and stabbed another in the chest, lifting it clear off the ground. The opposition was quickly disposed of. Omnitus made a run for the cockpit and checked the computer system of the dropship. Good, this was the dropship he rode in on.
      He quickly punched a holographic button and exited the cockpit. He watched the shield between the two troop carriers of the dropship. A special type of banshee decloaked. Instead of being purple toned, this one had a bluish silver tone. Omnitus recalled the specs of the ship quickly. Not only did it have the standard plasma cannons, but it had a quick charge fuel rod cannon, capable of doing 25% more damage and charging 40% faster than the normal cannons do. The banshee also was installed with a new shield generator that could take decent amounts of punishment. By the miracle works of the scientists, this beautiful craft was custom made just for him. Omnitus lowered it from the dropship's shield and Omnitus quickly entered the banshee.
      "Trenga a huego." -"Here we go."

      "I'm going to have a talk with the CINCSPACEFLT (Commander-in-Chief of the UNSC space fleet) about why he would use biological weaponry."
      "According to the files installed in your suit, the admiral doesn't even know about it, thanks to the spooks at ONI." The Master Chief then spotted two UNSC destroyers from the turrent seat he was seating in, which after firing two MAC rounds at the now ruined covenant cruiser turned their missile pods towards the covenant dropship that both him and Cortana were now in.
      "Cortana to Cherokee. The Master Chief and I are the only survivors of the Liberator and need immediate boarding."
      "Affirmative, but we are a bit far away. It will take 10 minutes to get into protection firing range. For that 10 minutes you'll be pretty exposed without protection. Fortunately, the last of the covenant ships has been destroyed. The reason we're so far away from your position is we were in pursuit of the flagship, but that's no longer a threat."
      Cortana started to accelerate the dropship towards the Cherokee, one of the two destroyer survivors of this costly battle. There was approximately 6.5 minutes left until the Liberator would become a great ball of fire. Different symbols raced across her body and all the sudden Cortana assumed an alert posture.
      "Chief, I've got a radar contact, closing awfully fast. I surmise it's a covenant banshee. Not only that... it came from the Liberator!"
      "What?" The Chief asked quietly but filled with agitation. "It can't be, it just can't be!" The Master Chief was now locked in a state of panic.
      "Sorry, Spartan," a deep, guttural, and all too familiar voice intruded over the communications link. "Hell had no vacancies."



Aftermath Part 5
Date: 16 April 2002, 1:18 am

     No, no, no! Why didn't that sicko die back there in the cruiser, the MC thought to himself quietly. Now a banshee was in pursuit of their dropship. Not very good odds.
      "Cortana, how's a cumbersome craft like this supposed to outrun or outgun a banshee?"
      "Calculating possibilities. I'm sorry Master Chief, but the odds are not in our favor." The MC's heart beat rapidly upon hearing that answer. Back in his training days he was bred for combat to the point where losing was unacceptable. Chief Mendez had helped him learn that, but now with the most brilliant AI telling him that the possibilities of victory were practically slim, almost destroyed him. He had to take things into his own hands. He would win.
      "Cortana, does this dropship have any other weapons besides the turrent?"
      "Negative, there are no other weapons. You have to use the turrent. Yes it's inaccurate for covenant technology and doesn't have great power, but we have no choice. Let me show you how to use it." A blue joystick appeared in front of the MC popping out of the all purple control panel. It didn't seem to have any buttons at all, but when the MC gripped the joystick itself, the turrent gave a loud roar and a purple plasma shot streaked across space.
      "So the whole front part of the joystick is one big firing trigger."
      "Yes. Look in front of you." A holographic viewing screen appeared on the curved wall in front of where he was sitting. It revealed the vast space around them as well as a covenant crosshair on the screen. When he moved the joystick to the right, the turrent moved to the right as well, showing him a different view of space. There must be some camera attached the turrent to allow this, the MC thought.
      Cortana's body appeared near the joystick. "I can transfer myself back to the pilot's chamber of the dropship in a minute, but I want to make sure everything is under control."
      The MC saw the banshee appear on screen, heading left for a couple of seconds, but then it started to turn straight for them. "Yes, everything's fine. Pilot us to the Cherokee's protection radius as fast as you can while dodging the banshee."
      "Alright. Happy hunting." Cortana's image disappeared just as the banshee fired its first fuel rod cannon shot. The shot impacted the dropship sending part of the front section drifting into space. The MC was startled by the swift attack and instantly retaliated. Blazing plasma streaked across the blackness of space between both craft. The elite was excellent in controlling the inaccuracy of the plasma cannons and the dropships's armor was slowly melting away. The MC made a direct hit.
      "Oh yeah! I'm the ma-." Suddenly he saw a liquid effect around the banshee that continued rippling for 3 seconds, but then disappeared shortly after.
      "Cortana, that bastard has shields!"
      "Hmmm." She thought quietly. A long pause followed as the MC was constantly rotating the turrent to bear on the banshee and for the whole time, never letting off the trigger.
      "What's the power source for the engine of this ship?" asked the Master Chief during the clangor of one of the fuel rod cannon shots on the dropship hull.
      "The ship seems to run on a plasma source, not too different from their weapons." That nailed it.
      "Cortana, divert 50% of engine power to weapons."
      "I'll try. That is not an option the covenant used on Halo with their dropships. I don't even know if I can do it, but I will try to reroute the plasma energy."
     
      Omnitus noticed that the dropship was slowing down. What was he up to? He saw the destroyers in the distance and wondered why the Spartan would slow his course that was indeed bound for safety. He would make sure the human could pull no tricks.
      He ceased his plasma mayhem and found the ship's vulnerability in an instant.
      "Try and dodge this human!" The elite said to himself as he quickly ascended above the dropship.
     
     "Cortana, we have a problem." The MC watched helplessly as the banshee disappeared from the turrent's line of fire.
     "Oh shit. Brace yourself!" Cortana yelled just as the MC found out what his elite friend had in mind.
     
     Omnitus now had the dropship right where he wanted it. He halted his ascent and brought the banshee on a straight descent towards the dropship. On his viewing screen, the crosshairs centered on the dropship's bridge. He let the fuel rod cannon charge itself and then pulled the trigger.
     
     The blinding projectile impacted right on the bridge section of the dropship. The bridge shook violently and all the lights went dark throughout the chamber. Sparks flew throughout the chamber, which was also combined with the reverberations of the impact that resonated throughout the entire ship. The viewing screen was filled with static, but the MC glanced at an obscure object fly by and immediately fired back. The screen filled with purple light as the newly supercharged plasma shots, thanks to Cortana, were discharged and all the shots made home before the banshee retreated out of range.
     "Damage report." Ordered the MC.
     "Engines are at 70% maximum, but the turrent remains at 100%. Armor is at 55%. I don't think we can take another shot like that." Then all the sudden the MC remembered something.
     "How long until the Liberator self-destructs?"
     "On my timer, it says 2 minutes, 36 seconds." It could work, the MC thought. "Cortana I want you to plot a course directly towards the Liberator.
     Divert 50% of max weapon energy to the engine for an extra oomph. I have a plan."
      "Spartan. You will join your comrades in Horas (Covenant equivalent of Hell). I will see to that right now!" The banshee made a U-turn from its retreat and accelerated towards the dropship.
      "I see you've made real friend out there."
      "Cortana, step on it!" The dropship immediately accelerated to top velocity and actually matched the speed of the banshee. Cortana was good for a lot of things now a days. "What's the banshee's distance from us time-wise?
     "Time-wise? It will take approximately 4.56 seconds for the banshee to get to our original position." Cortana answered. The MC realized they would never make it to the safety zone alive.
      "Cortana I want you to set an average speed towards the Liberator so that are time towards the Liberator is the self-destruct sequence's timer, minus 4.56 seconds. We will hold this current speed assuming that the banshee has no more speed to gain. After we have passed the ship, divert the rest of weapons energy to the engine for more acceleration."
      "Master Chief, you will rarely hear this from me," remarked Cortana. "But that is brilliant."
     
      He was astonished. Omnitus was barely keeping up with this dropship that, by all means, should be slower than a covenant constructed dropship. Perhaps this human is the devil that the gods claim him to be. But the one thing that astonished him the most is the Spartan turned away from the safety zone.
      Now Omnitus had had his fill of trickery. His banshee's shields were down after the supercharged plasma he fell victim to. He was too reckless to care. Omnitus continued on a straight path towards the dropship and opened fire with his plasma cannons, unbeknownst to the danger he was facing up ahead.
     
      "Hold your fire, Chief." Cortana stated. "We don't want him to veer off course even a little."
      "But, the target is not even moving. I could destroy it."
      "I've studied his moves Master Chief. He's a little more cunning than follow-shoot tactics. Besides this was your plan and I like it." The MC looked at the timer Cortana projected which read 45 seconds left. But they had 40.44 seconds to reach their goal. A fuel rod cannon shot impacted on the backside of the ship to the left of the bridge, which with its incredible velocity, angled the ship slightly off course.
      "Cortana, correct for distance and speed lost."
      "Already done." Now there were 38 seconds left and they were an easy target. The banshee's cannons were slowly ripping the armor of the dropship apart. The control panel's readout showed that the armor was at 35%.
      "Look it's getting closer." John saw that the dropship was closing the distance fast towards the Liberator awfully fast. "Try and stay 5 meters above the top of the ship when we pass over it."
      "Got'cha, Chief. Brace yourself." Another fuel rod cannon impact reverberated throughout the dropship and severed the right compartment that carries troops. The Dropship now was L-shaped, but that did not slow them down for the engine was not there.
      "Damnit! That bastard is gonna kill us." Now, nineteen seconds remained.
     
      The elite was now bewildered beyond all belief. He had subjected this dropship to a tremendous amount of punishment, yet the dropship fired no shots. This Spartan is obviously crazy, Omnitus thought. He would continue this pursuit for approximately 20 seconds and by that time he was sure the human would meet his end...
     
      "Nine seconds left till Armageddon," Cortana remarked with a somewhat digital agitation.
      ...8...
      ...7...
      "Get ready Cortana. Godspeed for us both."
      ...5...
      "NOW!!!" The dropship skimmed the top mid-section of the Liberator with 4.56 seconds left to spare.
      "Get us the hell out of here!" The MC ordered immediately as the ship began to accelerate.
      ...3...
     
      Omnitus followed the exact path the dropship took, but now he knew this was not something an ordinary human would do.
      "This is too suicidal for a human. It must be a trick!"
      ...0...



Aftermath Part 6
Date: 2 May 2002, 12:51 am

The flood! They're coming out of no where. Got to get out of here. Back to the Control Room. Cortana, what the hell are you saying? Guilty Spark you bastard, I'll kill you. Must destroy Halo. There's the Longsword. Got to run...
     The events tormenting the Chief's mind ceased and he woke up instantly, alert but weary eyed, and saw his chamber consumed in darkness all around him. Immediately, he saw stars ahead of him and reached for the controls to adjust the screen to have a look around, but they weren't there. In fact when he looked where the controls were, he saw more stars. He used the infrared projection in his helmet armor; everything was stone cold. No heat signs anywhere. He adjusted himself in the seat to look around the chamber feeling extremely lightheaded while doing so.
     "What...the...hell..." he was so exhausted when he woke up that he didn't take into account that the stars in front of him were not projected on any screen. They were real. When he looked farther into space, he saw the front part of the dropship with the cockpit and one troop carrier wing. That was his dropship! But somehow, he was in his dropship. Then he realized it.
     "I'm sitting weightless in my part of the dropship that somehow split from the rest of the ship." He reached out to touch the stars and felt nothing that felt like a wall. In fact he felt nothing at all. No screen indeed. He recoiled his arm in alarm, realizing that he was actually sitting in the middle of space. If he took off his helmet, he would instantly die, no question. Furthermore, if he unlatched his safety restraints, he would drift off into space endlessly.
He recalled the events of the banshee chasing him and how it took a clean shot at the bridge of the dropship. Then he remembered the chase towards the time bomb Liberator. That was it, he thought. The bridge of the dropship was weakened so badly, that the shock wave of the Liberator's destruction probably caused the bridge to split in half. How did he survive the decompression of the ship. Right now, he was just glad to be alive and thankful that the Mjolnir armor could serve as a space suit.
     "Cortana, what is my oxygen capacity?" No answer. Then he remembered he installed Cortana into the bridge of the dropship, which was now drifting in space about 5 kilometers ahead of his position. He had to get there, but he needed to find out his oxygen supply. There was an armored cover on his wrist that was part of his armor and when he opened it, he saw various buttons. One said "Menu" and he pressed it. Various links popped up on his HUD and one was labeled "Oxygen reserve". He navigated the controls so that he could go into that link. Once in it, he saw 8 hours 40 minutes and 27 seconds of oxygen left. That was so specific it made him feel like he was strapped to a bomb. He saw another link labeled "thruster control". He navigated the link selector toward the words and pressed it. A blueprint of his armor came up on the HUD and flashing in red were the locations of the thruster packs on his armor. There were two secondary thrusters, one on each foot, and one primary thruster on his back. "This maybe the only way to get to Cortana. I ought to take it." The Master Chief entered the link called "course projection" and a crosshair appeared on screen. The MC, using the controls on his arm, focused the crosshair on the dropship ruins and set the distance to approximately 5 kilometers.
     "Will you proceed" the message flashed on the HUD. The MC confirmed this and a15 second countdown ensued until the thrusters fired. Suddenly, the stars twirled ahead of him and a massive covenant flagship entered near the dropship ruins. It was larger than any covenant ship he had ever seen. The ship immediately fired two plasma missiles at the two UNSC destroyers lying idle in the distance, probably assuming that he was dead. These missiles were different, thought the MC as he saw brilliant flashes of white light speed instantly to their targets, and rip the two ships in half. "Oh shit! The thrust will give my position away!" Ten seconds were left as the MC rushed to find the cancellation button, which he discovered was non existent. He had no choice and aimed his body at the front half of the dropship ruins ahead of him. The thrusters blared to life and he quickly jetted out of the turrent capsule, heading for his target. The primary thruster rushed him forward and a couple of seconds later, the secondary thrusters fired in reverse, allowing him to slow down and grab the other part of the dropship. He grabbed the hull, and pulled himself into the darkness of the pilot cockpit and hid out of sight of the flagship's scanners. He observed the controls, seeing that Cortana's chip was still intact. He inserted the chip back into his helmet and was greeted with a confident hello.
     "I knew you'd pull through Master Chief."
     "How in the world did I survive the decompression of the ship?"
     "Before the Liberator's shock wave hit, I pressurized the ship to that of space, so there would be no pressure change from interior to exterior, and then you were knocked out. Personally, I thought you were done for."
     "Thanks for the confidence in me, but right now we have a bigger problem. A massive covenant flagship just entered our area. I thrusted over here to get you, but I don't know if they saw me or not." Just then, a covenant dropship appeared from above and behind him, with its turrent aiming true for his head. There was no where to run. "I think I know now."
     One of the cargo doors opened. The MC assumed that they wanted him alive. Why of all people, would the covenant want him alive? If he went, the covenant might find out everything: the technology in his armor, G-219, and the location of earth. This was all though brutal interrogation of course. But if the MC went, and was willing to use the best of his wits, he might be able to find out everything about them. If he could escape with the information, he could live to fight another day. He was willing to take that gamble. He thrusted to the open cargo door, beckoning his arrival, and managed to get inside. The door closed behind him.
     "I hope you know what you're doing," said Cortana.
     "So do I, Cortana. So do I."

     The commander of the flagship, Danterus, was a golden elite who was eagerly hoping to see combat. Although highly trained, he has never seen ship to ship combat. The ship he commanded, Judgement, is the largest and most advanced ship in the entire covenant navy. The ship itself is roughly 5km long and possesses enough firepower to glass a planet all by itself. The reason for its titanic size is its ability to sustain massive amounts of punishment, but still manage to fight at nearly full strength. Also, the size was merely a symbol of power.
     Danterus's orders from the prophet council were simple. Make a rendezvous with all ships that had survived Reach and lead the survivors towards what the humans called the "solar system". Once there, they would conduct a fleet-search for the human home world and end the human threat once and for all.
     Danterus observed the dropship on screen carrying the lone survivor to the ship's cargo bay.
     "Prepare to take the prisoner to the barge."
     "Just a minute, Danterus," a voice boomed behind him. Danterus turned around to see a massive gold elite, somewhat limping towards the ramp leading up to where he was standing. The gold elite slowly stood up straight, once in front of Danterus, and upon seeing the mangled elite's face, he recognized him.
     "My lord! We tried to establish contact with your fleet when all the sudden we got static and we assumed you were in a battle! We tried to ready this ship as fast as we could, but obviously...we were too late," exclaimed Danterus, looking at the ruins of the battle that ensued before they arrived to the rendezvous point. "How did you survive?"
     "Never mind that. Position numerous guards in the docking bay and prepare to take him to the interrogation chamber."
     "Yes lord." Danterus turned back to the controls while Omnitus marched off the ramp. He himself had it all planned out: learn everything that is to be learned including enemy fleet strength, the Spartan's weakness, and the human home world's location. After obtaining this information (by any means necessary), he would satisfy his rage by killing the Spartan personally, while he was defenseless of course, and move to make humans extinct forever.

     The MC regretted leaving the M90 and the G-219 launcher back at the dropship ruins, but never the less he did not want to alert an army to his position with his gunshots on a massive ship like this. All the sudden, the dropship's engine ceased. An eerie silence followed for about 3 seconds, and then the cargo door opened, revealing dozens of jackals aiming their pistols at him. Aggressive growls filled the docking bay and the MC did the only thing he could, surrender. Two blue elites stepped through the jackal ranks, both carrying what appeared to be glowing combat batons, and ordered the MC off the dropship. The MC did as ordered and was handcuffed by a plasma sphere, binding his hands together. He was forced through several halls, decorated with liquid-like walls that reflected his image. The grunts that were working in the halls stopped to admire the legendary human knight. The MC scornfully growled at them, which of course, scared some of them half to death.
     The blue elites stopped at a door in the middle of a narrow corridor and pushed the MC inside, shutting the door behind him. He looked forward to see a blue wall with what appeared to be restraints on the wall. Above him, and above the door, there was what looked like a plasma turrent, pointing to the wall with the restraints. This place was a damn torture room!
     "Cortana, I think I should go to radio silence. I don't want the covenant to know of your existence."
     "Affirmative, Chief. Good luck." The chief did not like the sound of those words at all. A red elite walked into the room, escorted by 4 jackals with yellow shields. All raised their guns towards him.
     "Take off your armor and your clothes, now!" The handcuff sphere deactivated, liberating his hands from restraint. After hearing the sharp order from the elite, he did as was told. While getting undressed, the chief was dreading what was coming next and in his head took a vow.
     I swear by everything holy that I in no way will aid the covenant in any way possible, no matter what the cost or the pain.
     The chief was now stark naked, not only literally, but he felt naked without Cortana's assistance, and thought he heard two jackals converse on the size of his "masculinity".
     "Tie him down." The jackals grabbed him and forced him into the restraints on the wall. Plasma wrapped around his arms and legs, pinning him to the wall. He was trapped. The elite then went to a computer terminal on the left wall. The wall was cold against the chief's back, but judging by the size of the plasma turrent aiming at him, it was going to get warm real fast.
     "Human. You will answer questions or suffer. Understand?" The MC braced himself for whatever was coming next. "Where is the human home world? Tell me now!" The MC in absolute defiance, just stared at the elite, uttering no words, no aid. All the sudden, a glowing blue crosshair appeared on his abdomen, projected from the turrent. "WHERE IS IT HUMAN?" The chief knew that pain was his life and summoned enough courage to accept that fact.
     "Shove it up your ass." Instantly, a blue plasma bolt shot out of the turrent and ruptured his abdomen. The chief let out a painful scream, but not nearly as painful as the wound. "DAMN IT. UGGGHHH..." The chief stared at the wound, where blood flowed down his legs and onto the floor. The wound tore off mostly skin and some skeletal muscle, not to mention leaving burn marks that were charcoal colored.
     The blue crosshair relocated to his left kneecap. "Human if you don't tell me where your world is, you will suffer more." The red elite barked. The MC, now with blood seeping into his lungs, merely spit blood at the elite, to which this was met with a plasma shot to the knee. The second time he was shot, he did not scream out in pain. The first shot had drained him of that type of energy. White parts of his kneecap bone were now exposed, along with the nerve endings, which intensified the already excruciating pain. The crosshair relocated and the turrent fired on his left elbow. The burning sensations from the plasma almost made common fire pale in comparison. This time he did something that would have been totally unexpected from a Spartan; he cried.
     "You stupid worthless piece of shit! Go take your little toy gun somewhere else!!" The blue crosshair now relocated to the left part of his chest, near midsection, right where his heart still managed to beat. The chief didn't care, for he was slumped over with his head towards the ground in shame.
     "The original power capacity of that turrent was 1/3 our main weaponry. For you we increased it to 2/3 for effective superficial wounds. Anymore, and I would be able to study your anatomy." This was not the red elite speaking. The chief looked up and through his teary eyed vision, he saw an elite in the doorway that should have been dead. He noticed that the elite was maliciously grinning at the sight of him strapped down and in agony.
     "You sick bastard! How did you surv-." Before he could finish his sentence, the turrent above the door, aimed for his chest, fired.

     Note from now on, the name of my series will be called The Rescue, but it will involve the same sequence of events that took place in Aftermath.





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