Halo: Coral by Gary Melling
Halo: Coral CH1
Date: 31 March 2011, 3:57 pm
Human Outer Colony Coral: March 2552
Not once did Ibrahim think that such wonders would bestow him on lonely Coral. Such alien and elegant things, such strange and marvellous things... and yet they had so clearly been put in front of his eyes, for the entire world to see. And indeed they saw it.
Thousands of colonists were mulling around a hastily arranged waiting area, waiting for an opportunity to see what had been uncovered. Ibrahim, in his role as a councillor on Coral, had first pickings at trying to unpick what had been discovered, not that he actually knew what it could even be. It stood about 30 metres, scooped up in a large jagged crater, created from the use of excessive explosives. Made of a sort of crystallised metal substance and covered with runic inscriptions that glow a deep blue, Ibrahim couldn't fathom that anything human could have possibly had a hand in making such an object.
Totally and utterly undamaged from the excavation attempts his scientists and archaeologists were telling him that this was the tip of something larger and more expansive. That this was just an upper spire of something that was buried deep under the rock of the planet's surface. Ibrahim knew what he had to do. This was too important and could be too crucial in Humanity's struggle to just leave it be, and study at his will. His superiors needed to know.
Ibrahim called in to one of his fellow councillors in the capital city of Maquire, advised him to report this anomaly to the UNSC, told him to get them to send assistance. The cogs needed to be turned quickly, time was something no human had a great amount of in these troubled times. Any shred of knowledge would be worth something. Ibrahim hoped, and prayed to god Coral could supply it.
17th August 2552, near Skopje
Captain Akira Subo woke with a start, head dripping with beads of salty sweat stinging his weary eyes; he jolted out of his rock of a bed and raised his eyes to the blaring red klaxon on the wall. Snapping out of his sleep induced stupor, Subo Slapped the intercom next to his cabin door.
"This is the Captain, Commander, what the hell is going on!" the intercom crackled for a few seconds before he got a reply, "Sir, We have arrived, but we're not alone. The Covenant is here too."
Subo let out an exasperated sigh, "Still?! Understood Commander, power us down keep us in the dark for now, I'm on the way to the bridge" Subo was in the Elevator to the bridge in less than three minutes. He was expecting this mission to have complications, but he had hoped that the Covenant would have left Skopje to its sad fate by now. It had been five years since almost the entire world had been "glassed", an act in which the alien Covenant would barrage a planet's surface with plasma, from the safety of their battleships.
He had no idea how the Covenant knew what could still be possibly on the scarred surface of Skopje. Having been rushed off his recently achieved leave, Subo didn't quite care how they knew, or how ONI knew for that matter, all he cared about was doing his duty and getting the job done. Now the Covenant had thrown quite a large spanner in the works, now he had to rework his plans. Subo scowled to himself, damn this job.
The elevator doors slid silently open and Captain Subo stepped onto his bridge once again, "Commander Hanson, Report." The Commander swivelled and Saluted, "Sir!" the Commander had to be one of the youngest officers on the ship, and probably the youngest Commander in the entire UNSC fleet, his freckled face showed little sign of age or stress, and his enthusiastic style always reminded Subo of himself back when he was a lieutenant on his first ship. However, Subo didn't let this cloud his vision of his Commander; under his ruffled ginger hair Hanson had the potential to be one of the brightest sparks the UNSC Navy had seen, if he survived the coming months in this ever brutal war. "Sir, as requested, systems are down to minimal usage, if the Covenant has detected us they haven't made it obvious"
"Good, speaking of the Covenant, what are we up against Commander?"
Commander Hanson turned again back to a console, in which he activated a projection of the Planet Skopje, and the surrounding area. "Sir, two Covenant Frigates and a Light Destroyer are in orbit, there in no way to know how long for, but it seems they have found what they are looking for, they have forces groundside in the target area."
"OK Commander." Subo must have worn a concerned look as Hanson asked, "Our orders sir?"
Captain Subo knew all too well of the Covenants capabilities, and also of his single ships offensive abilities. There wasn't a chance in hell the Obsidian could take on three battle ready ships; they probably wouldn't even dent the gleaming hull of any of those cursed things. For a cruiser, the Obsidian was under armed and under armoured, the frailties of Halcyon-class cruisers were apparent to anyone with an eye for detail. Old, fragile and prone to errors of all types, these cruisers were now rare and rarely used, which showed the desperation of FLEETCOM and the UNSC to send its battle scarred behind on such a perilous and decisive mission.
"Stay out of range Commander; I wouldn't be surprised if those ignorant bastards are just ignoring us." Akira keyed the intercom, "Major Tarraty, Colonel Aduriz, report to the bridge immediately"
Hanson raised an eyebrow but didn't enquire as to the Captains logic; he knew he had a plan. Captain Subo turned his attention back to the bridge, "Lieutenant Obi, confirm we have three FENRIS warheads on board?" the petite lieutenant on the weapons station snapped her head back with a "confirmed, sir"
Subo thought about this, nuclear warheads were usually a last resort, or when there weren't many other obvious options. Subo wondered if they had reached that stage already. He knew though, the Covenant would shoot those warheads out the deep space before they were halfway to their designated targets.
Moreover, firing those warheads within any sort of proximity to the Obsidian could result in a terminal overload of all electrical systems and be concluded with swift destruction from any Covenant stragglers. Decisions, hard decisions were going to have to be made. He needed to disrupt the Covenant long enough to get marines groundside, without charging head on into certain oblivion by taking on three Covenant warships.
Subo was interrupted in his thoughts by the strides of two men behind him, "Permission to enter the Bridge, Sir!"
"At ease" replied the Captain, "both of you" the two figures slackened and relaxed. In front of Captain Subo stood the two highest ranked Military men that Subo could wrestle out of the UNSC on such short notice.
Major Carlton Tarraty, already in his marine fatigues, holder of two purple hearts and a bronze star stood on his left. He was twice the size of Subo, with his face almost permanently screwed into a frown, with dark piercing eyes staring straight forward, almost looking through the Captain. Subo knew he could trust him on the battlefield; he was a warrior pure and simple.
The man who stood on his right however, was a different story. With a slight frame, and wearing plain black overalls, the arrogance that oozed of this individual was old news to the Captain. As you would expect from a member of the ODST's, also known as Orbital Drop Shock Troopers or "Helljumpers" as they would prefer, they believed they were the best of the best, and they were probably right. Short blonde hair matched his baby blue eyes, giving the impression that old Colonel Aduriz was a soft touch, but Subo knew better than to believe that. Aduriz had survived the battle of Arcadia almost 20 years earlier, him and all the other Helljumpers were no boy scouts. He was a fine soldier, of that there was no doubt.
"Colonel, Major. I have a plan to get you boys down there on the ground. It's not guaranteed to go off without a hitch, and I fully expect it won't. Major, you and your marines will be landing a half a mile from the initial drop site, the Covenant hold that area now, and you're going to take it back. I want your men ready ASAP for a hot drop. Colonel, your ODST's will be heading down to Skopje the only way you know" Aduriz cracked off a thin grin "once the Pelicans are out of the bays and down on the planet, I want you straight out of those blast doors and landing on the Covenants front door to give the good Major a helping hand, understood?" both of the troopers said a muted "yes Sir", psyching themselves up for the task already, Subo liked that. "Right then, let's get to it" they both snapped off smart salutes, "aye sir!"
Major Tarraty strode down to the barracks through endless corridors of grey metal, his square looping frame barely fitting in the tight spaces that sometimes crept up on him in these poorly built cruisers. He had no idea what Captain Subo had planned, but that wasn't his job, he had his.
Zulu Company was going to be the first down on Skopje, Surprisingly, Considering ODST's were onboard and they usually got the first pickings. Tarraty didn't know whether he welcomed or loathed this news, either way, those aliens wouldn't know what hit them. Zulu Company consisted of almost 200 UNSC marines, along with the 111th Alpha Platoon, whom Tarraty concluded where here because the Captain had needed some extra firepower to bulk up the numbers.
Along with an attachment of Scorpion battle tanks and a number of Warthogs, Tarraty was confident that they could come through this alive, along with the information they needed to gather from Skopje before the Covenant.
Tarraty was fully aware of how vital it was that the Covenant didn't get their claws on what could possibly be a war ending shard of Intel, a set of coordinates that would lead the aliens straight to the heart of humankind, Earth.