HALO 2:WARFRONT (Chapter One) by Adlin Yusman Yusoff
Date: 15 September 2003, 5:13 AM
HALO 2: WARFRONT
0530 Hours, December 21, 2552 (Military Calendar)/UNSC Lifeboat Firebird, Mars.
There was a stark silence as the sun lighted up the cabin. There was only the incessant beeping of the sensors and the continuous whirring of machinery as the ship adjusted itself. The ship was controlled by the internal AI and it felt as though it miscalculated as the ship swerved hard to avoid a wave of plasma radiation. The figure sitting in the only chair on the ship was rocked to reality.
"God damn it Cortana, couldn't you have woken me up in a more gentle manner?" said the lone figure sitting in the leather clad chair, as he rocked back gently, careful not to tip over. The lone figure slowly pushed himself up, and motioned his huge armored body to the window. He looked out of his view screen, and saw the sunlight bounce of the rings surrounding Saturn. He made a soft whistling sound.
"Cortana, how I wish you could see this." said the lone figure.
There was no response-just the gentle hum of the engine bay slowing itself down.
"Soon I'll be back home." He thought, and breathed a sigh of relief. How he wished for a long holiday, but he knew that Earth Central would probably debrief him for a few days before he was allowed leave. The lone figure felt as though he had been away for ages. He could barely remember the last time he sat down and had a good conversation with anyone. Then suddenly he remembered about his lost comrades who fought bravely to secure Reach, and slumped his shoulders. "I should've been there," his voice soft and strained, "maybe I could've done something."
As he slowly brought himself back to his seat, the ship made another sudden movement, and he almost lost his footing. He was about to swear at Cortana again when he saw shards of metal littered across the moons around Saturn. It looked strangely familiar he thought. He ordered the ship's AI to zoom in on the anomaly. What he saw drained the blood from his veins-it was a wreckage of a UNSC vessel, maybe even several. The ship's AI confirmed that the shards did belong to a UNSC Cruiser class ship, but its designation was unknown.
"Cause of destruction?" he said, apprehensively. He tacitly knew what destroyed that ship, and bit his lower lip.
"Hull buckling caused by extensive plasma fire." Replied the AI nonplussed.
"The Covenant." He swore under his breath. How did they acquire Earth's coordinates? All UNSC Vessels were ordered to purge all coordinates after a jump, as per the Shaw-Fujikawa doctrine. Did they snatch a vessel mid-jump? He thought that to be impossible. Nothing could intercept a ship while it was opening a rift in space; not even the Covenant. All of a sudden a foot high hologram emerged from the ship's control panel.
"Chief, sorry you had to wait. Did you miss me?" said the chirpy hologram.
"Where the hell have you been Cortana? Have you seen this?" said the Chief as he pointed to the data collected by the ship's AI.
"Oh, you already know." Said Cortana, as though she was talking to a small child who found out about something the parent didn't want them to know.
"You knew? Why didn't you wake me up?" said the Chief, his voice clearly becoming strained.
"Because I wasn't certain of it, and it wasn't until an hour ago that I was." The AI's face growing sadder, even her holographic colour was becoming a darker shade of red. "According to reports I received from Earth Central, which I had just gotten into contact with, the Covenant arrived in Earth Space, a little over forty eight hours ago, Earth Standard Time."
Forty eight hours ago? With the Covenant's planet charring weapons, he was certain Earth was destroyed. He fell on his seat, cocked his head back and breathed out hard. Why did they leave other Earth colonies intact? Saturn was practically untouched, aside from the UNSC vessel the Covenant obliterated. It looked as though they went straight for Earth, and left the other colonies for later. "God damn them." He swore.
"Wait, you said you just came into contact with Earth? Does that mean Earth's still in one piece?", said the Chief his heart pounding hard.
Thank God. At least there's still a fighting chance. Maybe our defensive systems were able to knock out some of their Terra forming vessels and left only the Destroyer class ships. "Frigate class ships can knock 'em out." His thoughts were interrupted by the roaring sound of the engine.
"Chief, I'm going to speed up our lifeboat to maximum burn. It's not going to be cozy. Earth Central needs us and it doesn't look like we're winning." Just as Cortana finished her sentence, the ship rocked back and space itself seemed to buckle from the burst of speed emanating from the ship.
"Casualties?" asked the Chief.
"Parts of Northern America were destroyed, as well as certain parts of China, Europe and Africa. Earth Central has moved it's capital base to Mozambique, which is where we're headed ASAP." Replied the AI, her voice almost rushed.
The chief was startled. He was hoping to hear casualties in numbers not nations. It looks as though the Covenant did get through Earth's defenses and their terra-formers were still active. Why didn't they finish us off, he wondered, the Covenant could sure have decimated all of Earth's inhabitants in less than 24 hours. Why the wait?
"Cortana, why is Earth still intact? The Covenant must surely have the capabilities.."
"They're toying with us." Interrupted the AI. "According to Admiral Sung, the Covenant doesn't want to eat their meat raw. They're going to cook us till we're well done. The bastards."
The Chief had never heard Cortana swear before-she must be just as angry as he was. And he liked it. He wanted her to be angry, he wanted everyone on Earth to be angry. Angry enough to fight the Covenant back harder than they've ever fought before.
"Time to take the fight back to them." Said the Chief, his voice becoming clearer.
The ship was slowly moving away from the sunlight, and the cabin was suddenly draped in total darkness. It was not long now, he thought, soon both he and Cortana would be home, and fighting for their very lives.
Halo 2:Warfront Chapter 2
Date: 16 September 2003, 10:58 PM
0530 Hours, December 21, 2552 (Military Calendar), East African Protectorate, New Mombassa.
The wind was blowing foul air into the military complex-the burnt odour of scorched Earth. Soldiers were working around the clock to secure the new military base after the bombardment crippled Fleet Command Central in Geneva. There was a general mood going around the complex and it was spreading around fast-the feeling of impending doom lingered around every personnel on camp. Soldiers were trained to go through emotional distraught with a level of professionalism, but the general air of things weren't helping one iota either. Lieutenant Commander Phillip Jaro was in charge of welcoming the platoons which were arriving from Geneva. According to military sources, Geneva was obliterated, thankfully all Navy and Marine personnel were evacuated as soon as they received reports that the Covenant were using their Terra Formers to level most of Earth's planetary response forces. Just as Jaro was about to enquire on the arrival time of the first Naval platoon, he was rudely interrupted by the distinct rumble of Pelican engines. He counted four of them-three less than what he expected. As soon as the Pelicans landed, the troops hustled into order.
"Sergeant Keyes commanding officer of Naval Platoon Orion, reporting as ordered sir."
The soldier commandeered a crisp salute, which was returned in kind by his XO. Sergeant Keyes was a fairly well built man, but he didn't look a day over 25. The lieutenant commander could see that he was a fairly good looking man, and if it were not for the grease around his face and his war torn battle fatigues-and the fact that the UNSC was in dire need of any able bodied man-he wouldn't be here giving him the salute.
"At ease Sergeant, I just got wind that you were being transferred here, congratulations on your promotion."
"Thank you, sir. Sir, we lost three birds en route when we were ambushed by a squadron of Banshees about 30 clicks from here. We tried to wipe em out, but we lost 2 Naval dropships and a Helljumper Pelican in the process." Keyes said.
"What about the rest of evacs? Did they get out in time?" asked Jaro.
"The Joint Chiefs were removed prior to the attack, but our operational capacity is down by 30 percent- they really pulled one over us sir." Replied the Sergeant, straightening himself slightly.
"Are the Chiefs headed here?" asked Jaro, getting more agitated by the minute. He was clearly frustrated that he wasn't there to fight with the others.
"No sir, they are headed to Mozambique, the provisional outpost for Earth Central. Some of the world leaders are en route there as well." Replied the Sergeant, his body now stiffer than before-he looked as though he was straining under his military fatigues.
"Understood Sergeant. Now I want you to clear the field and direct your troops to this base right here," Jaro pointed to a large complex which looks somewhat like beat down garage. "Debriefing begins at 0700 hours, so I want you and your troops to take a good rest for a few hours, you all deserve it," his voice growing louder at the last few words.
Just as Keyes was done shipping his platoon into the makeshift barracks, he turned to face Jaro.
"I'm sorry if this is out of line sir, but I was wondering if Fleet Command had any news on my father? His name is Captain..."
That's it. That's who this kid was. He was Captain Keyes' son. He never knew the Captain, but from what he had heard, the Captain was one hard-core son of a bitch.
"Unfortunately, inter stellar transmission's been down since the Covenant bastards came to our front lawn, so we haven't heard anything from the Pillar of Autumn since she left the Epsilon Eridani System. Sorry I couldn't have given you better news son, you look like you could use some." replied Jaro.
Keyes was clearly affected by the lack of news about his father, but tried to remain adamant.
"How long have been a soldier son?" Jaro asked, his expression lightened.
Keyes breathed a sigh and said, "Since the Covenant declared war on us sir, I was enlisted."
Jaro eyed him and realized that he probably had other things planned for his life, but the war took a toll on everyone. Goddamned Covenant, he thought. He placed his hand on Keyes shoulder and told him that he was a brave soldier and a good man, and that he shouldn't be brought down by negative thoughts. "Keep a sharp mind and a big heart," he said, "You're gonna need it, we all do."
As the Sergeant paced himself to the makeshift barracks, Jaro put his hand over his eyes and watched the sun rise- such beauty, he thought, and he swore that he was not going to let the Covenant rob him and his kind of the daily pleasures they experienced-even if it was as passing as watching the sun rise and set each day. Just as he was about to head to the command center he was interrupted by the buzzing of his communicator.
"Jaro, we need you back here on the double, we've got some good news for a change." Said the voice on the other end.
"What is it about Admiral?" asked the Lt. Commander, his heart beating faster.
"We just received a feed from a UNSC lifeboat off the rings of Saturn," said the Admiral, clearing his throat, "It's Cortana, the AI from the Pillar of Autumn, she's bringing back a survivor."
A survivor? Yes, clearly that would be good news, but not as encouraging as he would've hoped. The Admiral must clearly have been distraught by the war to be so excited over a single survivor. Just as he was about to ask who the survivor was, the voice continued his sentence.
"Phillip, it's not just any survivor," said the Admiral, his tone brightening.
"It's a Spartan."
A Spartan? He thought they all died during the battle for Reach. But even if what the Captain says is true, what is one lone-albeit genetically enhanced soldier going to do against a horde of Covenant forces? He had heard stories about the Spartans' strength and agility but he had yet to see one in the flesh. Assuming the Spartans were as strong as they were said to be, they only have one of them, and he's going against some impossible odds. May fortune favour the brave, he said under his breath and marched his way to the Command Center.
Halo: Warfront Chapter 3
Date: 20 September 2003, 4:37 PM
0645 Hours, December 21, 2552 (Military Calendar)/UNSC
Lifeboat Firebird, Orbiting Earth. The view from the lifeboat's tiny window screen was grave.
The Covenant armada was massive-the chief counted at least 2 dozen carriers and
many more 'Seraph' class ships. But something wasn't right. While an armada of
this size would clearly be enough to wipe out any planet in the known solar
system; it didn't make sense why the covenant would bring an entire armada and
circle around orbit like sharks waiting for its prey to go soft. They
could've glassed us a long time ago, he thought. "Chief," said a soft female voice, interrupting his train
of thought, "I was just in contact with Admiral Rundell. He says that things
aren't going well out there." The Chief took another glance out the window, and was
surprised to find out that there were only a dozen UNSC frigates engaging the
Covenant armada; and they didn't seem to be doing well. What happened to the
rest of the fleet, he wondered. Destroyed? Unlikely, he thought. The debris
surrounding Earth's orbit-filled with both Covenant and Human vessels alike-was
not large enough to warrant an assumption that a massive space engagement had
occurred. Did the Covenant attack come in at such an inopportune time that Earth
was unable to compose a reactionary force? Possibly. Where was the mighty UNSC
fleet when it was needed the most? "Our extraction point at alpha-six-niner has been changed.
The Prometheus is locked in combat-she can't pick us up chief, "
Cortana's voice dropped a notch, "we're on our own." "Is there a way for us to punch a hole through the
battlefield?" asked the Chief. "Not without blowing us out of the sky," replied the AI. "Any ships inbound for Earth? There are only a dozen ships
out there, where's the rest of the fleet? Have they all been destroyed?" the
Chief asked. "Negative, the Admiral explicitly ordered all battle ready
ships to hold their positions," Cortana's body suddenly changed colours and an
astral chart appeared all over her holographic image. "The Covenant's got us
cornered pretty bad, but we've got an ace up our sleeve." Red dots started emerging everywhere on the astral chart.
Just as quickly as the dots appeared it vanished, and was replaced by UNSC
vessel designations. The chief knew what they represented, and he cracked a
smile under his Duranium enforced helmet. "Galaxy class Star-destroyers? I never
knew we had so many." Said the chief, clearly surprised. "They didn't want the Covenant to find out-only a handful
of military personnel were informed. And me of course." Cortana replied, with a
wide grin on her face. The Chief signaled for Cortana to show him a visual of the
vessels on standby. "Just give me one second. Let me patch through one of the
lead ships." A few seconds later, her foot high holo projection faded
away and was replaced by a video feed of the fleet. There were over four dozen
warships (about half the size of a frigate class starship) orbiting the dark
side of the moon. Fleetcom had figured that since the Covenant had passed all
the outer colonies, they would overlook Luna as well-and they were right. The
ships exhibited a green hue from their guiding sensors, and according to rumours
which the chief had heard; these ships had artificial gravity which might
explain the relatively small size. The lack of a longitudinal rotating gravity
generator might just make this ship maneuverable enough to cut through the
field. But how did a fleet of this magnitude avoid detection-surely the
Covenant's scanners were known to detect even a bug on a starship. How did we
get away with four dozen galaxy class ships? "Cortana, are we jamming their scanners?" the chief asked. A moment later, the video feed blinked off and Cortana's
image reappeared. "I bet you're wondering why the Covenant's not doing
anything to those ships orbiting Luna." Cortana replied. "The Galaxy class
starships are equipped with a state of the art stealth modulator. They're
invisible to all forms of scanners-and thanks to those guys back home-we've
found a way to fool the Covenant's scanners as well." At least we'll still have the element of surprise on our
side, thought the chief. Earth still has a fighting chance just as long as we're
able to punch a whole through the Covenant fleet. The Chief keyed in a few
commands on the console in front of him, and ordered Cortana to patch him
through to Admiral John Rundell who was stationed aboard the Archimedes. He was hoping to hear the voice of a calm general on the other end of the feed,
but what he heard caused his genetically enhanced heart to stop beating. "Sir, they've just broken into our formation!" came a voice
from one of the galaxy class cruisers-on a broadband frequency. The Spartan hurriedly activated the video feed, and saw a
dozen slipstream gateways opening-and about two dozen Covenant carriers emerged
from the rift in space. The Covenant were renowned for their pin sharp accuracy
in determining a jump point, but he never knew that anyone could make a jump
within a star system without missing the target by a few planets. The
Covenant vessels which were waging the battle over Earth's orbit, turned to face
the new threat emanating from the Lunar sector. The voices over the general
frequency grew louder and with every passing minute-the tension in their voices
were reaching its boiling point. Suddenly a booming male voice came in amidst
all the radio chatter. "I want you to calm down." Boomed to lone male voice."This is General Havoren Hague, Chairman of the Joint
Cheifs. I repeat, I want you to calm down." Barked the General. "Norton," said the General. "Yes sir," replied an AI which was standing five feet away
from him on a holographic module the size of a peanut. This AI was created in
tandem with the Cortana project, he even looked like Cortana if it wasn't for
the obvious male elements on his holographic projection. "Give me the ETA on the seventh and thirteenth fleet." the
General ordered. "Approximately, 8 hours, 25 minutes, and 15 seconds sir."
Replied the AI. God damn it. We won't even make it past the hour. "Norton, what's the status on the Neutron bombs?" the
General enquired, his voice sounded shaky. "T-minus 48 minutes 07 second, sir. May I remind you sir,
that the deployment of the Neutron bombs over Earth's orbit will wipe out the
entire UNSC fleet, not to mention the risk of shattering the Earth's atmosphere
as well." The expression on the AI's face changed to suit the grimness of the
situation. "I know the costs involved Norton-and I hope to god that it
doesn't have to come to that. But I will not hesitate if it does come to that- I
will swipe down our foes with the hand of god itself, and may he forgive me for
the consequences of my actions." 0700 Hours, December 21, 2552 (Military Calendar)
Provisional Fleetcom HQ, Mozambique. The General was stationed on Earth, in the provisional
Fleetcom HQ in Mozambique. He could see the battle raging over the dark side of
the moon (through his extremely large wallscreen), but clearly he couldn't
really feel what was going on. At the bottom left of his wallscreen, there was a
casualty report which showed how many ships had been lost-the tally showed a
number- 06-00. It was like a Hoverball match, except this time, the home team
wouldn't be able to stay for the closing ceremony. How he wished he was up there
with those brave men and women, fighting for the lives of every living breathing
person on this planet and all the other colonies which surround it. He could
hear every single spoken word and see every single UNSC vessel fighting for the
fate of the human race-it was the battle of the line, and things weren't looking
too bright. "Patch me through the Archimedes." Said the General,
as an AI transmitted his request. "Unable to comply sir, the Covenant's jamming our
frequency, we're starting to lose contact with the fleet." Replied the AI,
nonchalant. Bastards. Suddenly a broken feed came through the
voicecomm. "Additional contacts sighted all over the place..." the
interference grew louder and the General could barely make out the last few
words. "I want you to get to rally point Alpha." ordered the
Admiral, trying to sooth the soldier down-hoping he had heard his order. A bright flash of light covered the wallscreen-one of the
UNSC Galaxy class vessels, The Omicron, was burned to a crisp by one of
the Covenant carriers thermal cascade weapon. The tally increased to:- 07-00.
The General grimaced, but continued to transmit his orders through the voicecomm.Please, let me get through. "General, a covenant carrier has just landed 10 clicks from
here," said one of the military personnel, "They've deployed there troops sir-"
he stopped to swallow a large gulp of saliva, "ETA, 20 minutes." Shit. The Provisional base hasn't been properly
prepped for a full ground assault, even the perimeter cannons were still being
calibrated. We need some reinforcements, and we need them now. "Lieutenant," the General said, looking through the eyes of
the man who told him the news, "Give me the logistics." "30 Battalions comprised of Elites, Brutes, Hunters and
Jackals, and about 6 dozen assault vehicles in sorties, sir." Replied the
Lieutenant. 30 Battalions. They both looked into each other's
eyes and knew there and then, that they didn't have the necessary firepower to
fight back the covenant invasion. How'd they discover the base so quickly? "General, I have Admiral Jonathan Rundell on voicefeed
one," the AI said, taking the General away from his thoughts. "Admiral you can't let them maintain orbit." The General
said with a grim voice. "I'm trying General but we've lost our advantage within the
perimeter. Those fighters don't have enough punch to take out a Covenant assault
carrier. Much less 12 of 'em." "Your pilots are fighting as hard as they can Admiral, but
down here, it's the goddamned Apocalypse." The General said, his tone growing
harsher. "We've got war on our hands and I don't think we can hold out for long.
I'm asking you to re-target the orbital cannons..." "They've been knocked out General...There's nothing more I
can do.." interrupted the Admiral. Suddenly a cool female voice punched through the
interference laden communications loop. "Admiral tell your men to hold their
positions-reinforcement is on the spook." Cortana said, while the Chief was
moving towards the emergence hatch. He grabbed a pair of MA5B assault rifles and
a dozen grenades. His HUD resetted and the MA5B's ammo count appeared just below
his regenerative shield bar. His MJORNIR armor flashed as the shield tested
itself for consistency. "The entire fleet is engaged Cortana-with all due respect
what the hell sort of reinforcement have you got?" said the Admiral through the
Chief's internal communicator. The Chief finally reached the emergency exit and tapped a
few buttons on the console in front of him. The duranium enforced gate pried
itself open and space swirled its way inside the depressurized cabin. The Chief
was holding on to a pillar, the MJOLNIR suit reacted to the depressurizing cabin
and his shields dropped a notch. "Are you sure about this?" Cortana asked, clearly sounding
worried. "You got any better ideas?" the Chief replied, unfazed. Just as he was about to let go of the pillar another random
voice came through the feed.
"We are unable to hold our position, I repeat...unable to
hold our position..proximity zero..there's too many..." the voice crackled and
suddenly there was silence. The Chief slowly peered his visor over the pillar and
prepped his suit for the jump. "What if we miss?" asked Cortana, sounding slightly
apprehensive. "I won't." replied the Chief as he jumped into the abyss.