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Halo: Siege of the Rings by The Wraven

Halo: Siege of the Rings Chapter 1: Beta Gabriel
Date: 23 March 2002, 6:35 pm

This is a story.
A story of journeys.
A story of battles.
A story of life.
A story of death.
A story of tragedy.
A story of destruction.
A story of humans.
A story of covenant.
A story of forerunner.
A story of earth.
A story of heroes.
A story of defeat.
A story of victory.
A story of halo.
This is a story.

Halo: Siege of the Rings

Chapter 1: Beta Gabriel

2300 Hours, September 4, 2552 (Military Calendar) /
Threshold system, orbit around planet Threshold

     "No. I think we're just getting started."
     "Is there anything you want? Food? Water? Rest?"
     "Yes. A covenant neck right between my two hands"
     "You want to know where earth is?"
     "You know?!"
     "Before we left Reach I stored the position of all remaining human systems on a distant data path, so that even if I was captured, it would be difficult for the cov..."
     "Can you take us to the closest one?"
     "That would be Beta Gabriel, but with this ship's lack of slipspace generators, it would take us 1295 standard years, ten months, six days and twenty hours to get to it. We need to contact a ship based there. Most of the ships in that area went to Reach to defend it after the covenant attacked. However, there were three frigates near finished construction: the Evening Sun, the Napoleon, and the Musket. They had no fuel, so they could not go with the other force. Their launch dates were set to be the three days after the attack came. They were not present at the battle when we left. Maybe they are still there. Would you like me to send out a distress call?"
     "Won't that give away our position?"
     "Well, yes. We could try getting back on our own engines. You could go into cryo..."
     "Point taken. Send a distress call"

0100 Hours, September 5, 2552 (Military Calendar) /
UNSC Evening Sun, defensive orbit around Beta Gabriel Prime

     It even haunted him in his dreams. His first command of a ship and he couldn't even take part in the battle for Reach. Captain William Stark just couldn't take it. It had to be his ship that didn't get filled up first. It had to be him that got left behind. By the time he was ready to go, the Reach had already been glassed. And the covenant were gone.
     Captain Stark sighed. Now all he had to do was wait for the covenant to come here. Or worse, Earth.
     "Captain Stark sir!" said his communication officer, Lt. McBradley
     "Yes Lieutenant?"
     "We have a distress call from longsword fighter number 23189 AC at coordinates 4872.5, 0104.3"
     "You know what to do. Send out a small transport to pick it up. Why do you need me?"
     "Sir, that longsword was stationed aboard the UNSC Cruiser Pillar of Autumn."
     "Yes, sir. I've checked my records 5 times, it doesn't make sense, but that's what the records say. Also, the signal says that there are only two survivors. Advanced AI construct Cortana, and, here's the biggie, Master Chief Petty Officer SPARTAN John 117."
     Stark was shocked. "When was this signal sent?"
     "About two hours ago."
     "Was it confirmed?"
     "Yes, by the Napoleon and planet HQ."
     "Get the Evening Sun ready. We're going to pick him up personally."
     "Yes, sir!"
     Captain Stark couldn't believe this. A SPARTAN. Alive. And he was the one to bring him back.
     His biggest question was what had happened. He had a few hours to go on the trip, so he could think. Surely, there were no Covenant left. An advanced AI construct can't send a signal to a planet that the Covenant haven't already found. It was against their programming. No. The Pillar of Autumn had to have destroyed at least twelve Covenant capital ships by itself. Maybe those modifications that had been installed on the Evening Sun were more than they seemed.

0600 Hours, September 5, 2552 (Military Calendar) /
Threshold system, orbit around planet Threshold

     The master Chief waited. Maybe they had taken Beta Gabriel. Maybe the ships were destroyed. Maybe they got Earth.
     "Chief, I have a ship on screen. Its silhouette matches a human frigate. Want me to hail it?"
     Maybe they were coming to pick him up.
     "Hail them as soon as they come out of slipspace."
     "Affirmative. ETA in 46 minutes"
     The Master Chief could wait that long. He had already waited a day. What's another...
     "The ship is coming out of slipspace, Chief."
     "You said 46 minutes!"
     "Yes, the ship seems to be faster than normal ships. If I could access ONI files here, I could have known earlier. Well, at least they're here"
     Greenish light began to gather and swirl as the frigate exited slipspace. The portal opened and out came...you guessed it...
     "Covenant frigate exiting slipspace!"
     "What kind of weapons does this thing have?"
     "Normal longswords are armed with twenty archer missiles, however, this on had ten taken away to allow for a miniature MAC gun. Its projectile was meant to destroy any Seraph in one shot. I don't think they'll be of any use against a Covenant capital ships. I don't know what to do."
     "Run dark until that human frigate comes. We can board and then go back to Beta Gabriel on that frigate."
     "But the Covenant will outrun us, find Beta Gabriel... glass it."
     "Not if I can help it. Arm all the weapons on this thing. As soon as our frigate comes out of slipspace, tell them to warm their MAC guns. Then transfer pilot control to me."
     "Will do, Chief."
     Ten minutes went by. The Covenant didn't see them. Twenty thirty. The Ship saw the wreckage of Halo. They went so close that the chief thought he could almost see the ships in the launch bay of the enemy frigate. Forty minutes. They were still safe.
     "Cortana, get ready." whispered the chief.
     Those last few minutes were the most tense. The chief could swear the ship saw him. It passed right over him heading away from halo. ETA in thirty seconds, he thought. Green light began to swirl around just like it had those long 46 minutes ago. But not because of the human ship, oh no. The Covenant ship was leaving. The ship seemed to stretch, condense, then vanish. No sooner had the Covenant frigate left, that the Evening Sun arrived out of slipspace right in front of them. Whew, that was too close.
     "Open a channel, Cortana."

0647 Hours, September 5, 2552 (Military Calendar) /
Threshold system, orbit around planet Threshold

     "See anything, Merlin?" Captain Stark asked his main pilot, Lt. Pearson, nickname "Merlin", from his working magic at the controls.
     Pearson had already been at the controls at four major battles against the covenant, including Harvest and Sigma Octanus. The ships he piloted had already gotten 7 kills, and none had gone down. Captain Stark was surprised that Pearson hadn't been given command of the Evening Sun. Well, at least he's on my ship, thought Stark.
     "Negative. Transferring lateral, forward and aft cameras to visual analysis computer now. All yours, Captain"
     The captain studied the display, nothing. Where was the longsword?
     "Sir! Receiving a message, sir! It's from the longsword!"
     "Put it on speaker."
     "I am Master Chief Petty Officer SPARTAN John 117. Requesting permission to be taken back to Beta Gabriel."
     "This is Captain Derek Stark of the UNSC Evening Sun. Permission granted. You may transfer you ship's controls to my ship so it can take you in. I've heard a lot about your kind, son. It'll be an honor to have you on board."
     "Yes, sir, captain. Thank you, sir."
     The longsword drifted slowly towards the docking bay. This frigate looked somehow...different to the Chief. It was the normal size for a frigate, about a fifth the size of the Pillar of Autumn. The shape was similar, besides a huge bulge in the middle, and the armor was the same, except for stubby antenna-looking things protruding like longitude and latitude markers across the hull, but it just looked...different. Hmm. As the longsword got closer and closer and closer, something strange happened. A yellow water-like surface rippled away from the docking bay entrance. This ship had the same king of shields that his armor did. That's what the bulge was for. Very nice.
     When he docked in the bay, there were people all around it scrambling for an honorable entrance for a hero. Some hero he made, he thought. Killing all those marines that were left on the ring. Not to mention failing Keyes and the rest of the crew. If they only knew what he had done. The longsword rumbled as it touched down. John could hear the cheers of some of the people there next to his ship. Then came a hissing sound as the ramp door slowly opened.
     "Master chief sir!" said an ensign. "Sir, the Captain wishes to see you on the bridge. He wants you to bring your AI, as well."
     Behind him he saw the same rippling effect that he had seen when the shields first opened.
     "I'll have to ask the UNSC engineers how they did that." Cortana whispered to John.
     The inside of the ship looked very similar to the Pillar of Autumn. Maybe it had some more of the special technologies the the Pillar of Autumn had, as well.
     The bridge, however, looked nothing like the Pillar of Autumn's. If Cortana was to fly this thing, she would have to take a while to get used to it. Instead of many different chairs in rows along the wall, there was on row of seats along the front of the bridge, with one large screen in the center, and on medium sized screen right in front of that. This ship was definitely more than it seemed. In front of the large screen, a man spun around to see john. He recognized the captain emblem and saluted.
     "Hello, Captain, sir!"
     "At ease soldier" the captain responded. "What is that wreckage out there?"
     Without a word, the chief took Cortana out and slipped her into the AI slot. At least that was the same.
     The display quickly turned to recordings, info and data about halo, all of which john knew too well. Finally, Cortana explained how they detonated the Pillar of Autumn and ended up here.
     "One Question, captain" Cortana said, "If the SPARTAN's mission was so important, why didn't the Pillar of Autumn get those shields?"
     "For two reasons. One: the technology would have made the Pillar of Autumn get almost totally rebuilt to get it. Second: these shields were designed a month after the Pillar of Autumn was selected, stalling your mission even further."
     "Okay. And Captain?"
     "Yes Cortana?" replied Stark.
     "May I Fly this thing back to Beta Gabriel Prime?"
     "You could probably do it better than me. Permission granted."
     "Calculating...done. I'm ready, captain"
     "Are you ready, Chief?" asked Stark.
     The Chief got on last glance at Halo and said "Let's go"
     When he got in the cryo bay and went under, it seemed a moment until he was being woken up again.
     "He saw the same ensign that greeted him at his ship ask him "Do you want to take a look at Beta Gabriel?"
     The chief almost jumped for joy. Of course he wanted to see it. He had heard before that it was more of a hot desert planet. He didn't care. Humans controlled it. It was paradise.

Halo: Siege of the Rings Chapter 2: Back to Work
Date: 30 March 2002, 7:27 pm

1200 Hours, September 5, 2552 (Military Calendar) /
UNSC Evening Sun, returning to orbit around Beta Gabriel Prime

     "Captain?" Cortana asked.
     "Yes, Cortana?" he replied.
     "I'm receiving a message from Beta Gabriel Prime HQ. They say they want the Master Chief and I to go to the primary HQ debriefing station. It's encrypted, so it must be somewhat urgent. The only craft that I can see that is in your docking bays is our longsword. Permission to take it planet side?"
     "Granted. Just purge the ship's computer of all the files you downloaded to it, and release your safeties."
     "Searching...done. I'm ready."
     The Captain reluctantly pulled Cortana out of the AI slot. It had been so long since he could make AIs do the computation for him. Only on his first post as a navigation officer, had he the luxury of having an AI. But that was before they became so precious, before Harvest, before the Covenant. Those days were so different from now, he thought. Only isolated rebels here, some fanatic factions there, but otherwise, peace... and no Covenant. Still, there was hope. Maybe that gargantuan ring was the secret to all this. The writings on the walls, the strange technologies, and those mutated creatures could be a secret to undoing the Covenant. Then again, it could make them fight all the harder. Only time would tell.

     As the Master Chief scanned Beta Gabriel, he wondered how soon it would be until he could crush another pathetic Covenant life. He was also at the same time overjoyed to be back with his own species. He hadn't spoke to another humanoid besides Cortana since he met the monitor. What had become of that indestructible ball of deceit?
     "Master Chief petty officer SPARTAN John117 please report to docking bay 2 ASAP. Prepare for atmospheric entry to Beta Gabriel."
     It was easy for the master Chief to make it back to the docking bay. Besides the signs here and there, his advanced brain was a steel trap. It was a blessing around these UNSC ships. He could also vividly remember the deaths of his fellow SPARTANs that seemed so long ago. A blessing and a curse, he thought.

1230 Hours, September 5, 2552 (Military Calendar) /
Beta Gabriel, Planet Defense HQ

     "He's arrived, sir."
     "Good. Where is he?" asked Rear Admiral Frederick Hoodley.
     "He's right outside your office now, sir"
     "Bring him in, petty officer."
     "Yes, sir."

     The concrete bunker somewhat reminded the Chief of the Reach planet HQ. Now he would be debriefed for at least a month. He needed to fight. Every fiber of his being urged to crush the Covenant. A petty officer strode out of the Admiral's office with that familiar space walk. He used to be stationed on a ship. The Admiral must have liked him.     "Admiral Hoodley is waiting for you, sir."     "Admiral Hoodley" the Chief said.
     "Master Chief, you now know that anything you have witnessed between the Pillar of Autumn jumped away from Reach and now is strictly classified."
     "Yes, sir"
     "Now, I will need to see your AI construct, so that she can transfer all she knows of this encounter to the planet HQ primary AI. Oh, I almost forgot. Meet Kridilla."
     At that moment, a tall and slender red figure appeared on the Admiral's desk. He had armor-like silver skin on his arms, head and chest. It had no visible mouth, and the only other different spots were bright gold eyes on its face.
     The long arm pointed its finger out towards a slot on the desk. "Please insert your AI here." Said Kridilla in a high and resonating voice.
     John put the AI into the slot. He could hear the beeps from the information transfer. Kridilla' silver patches grew brighter as he received the information. Secretly, however, Cortana used her access to almost all files known to this AI. She was most interested in the shield technology from the Covenant. She only hoped he hadn't detected her.
     "Transfer complete." said Kridilla.
     "Good. Now, chief, we can get to business." Said Admiral Hoodley as he waved Kridilla to turn off. "Normally we would debrief someone who encountered something this important for weeks. However, you are too valuable to the UNSC. You will be put back into service as quickly as possible. Since you and Captain Stark seem to have taken to each other, and since the Evening Sun is one of the most durable ships in the fleet, you will be posted there immediately. Your first mission will be to..."
     "Admiral." interrupted Kridilla. "I think you should reconsider his launch destination. The ring he encountered is one of at 6 in the area known by the human species. They all can wipe out every human system. If one is triggered they all activate unless the activator device is not available to its monitor. The Covenant are currently trying to selectively use these rings to wipe out humanity. We need to stop them."
     "Tell Captain Stark, Kridilla."
     "Cortana?" asked the Chief.
     "I couldn't translate most of the information in my short time in the control room. Kridilla must have the whole planet's computer system's free space to translate it. I had no way of knowing."
     "We're going to have to accelerate your schedule. You leave now. Kridilla is already telling Captain Stark to ready the Evening Sun. Two more ships that were coming here to reinforce the planet's defenses, a destroyer, the Turpitz, and a carrier, the Yamato, will also assist you."
     "I've made the necessary arrangements. Permission to ready the sub-SPARTANs, Admiral?" asked Kridilla.
     "Granted. Get them onto Pelicans. The master chief will go up on one of the new longswords to be stationed on the Evening Sun."
     "Sir," the Master chief said, "sub-SPARTANs?"
     "Yes, Chief." The Admiral said as he removed Cortana and handed her to John.
     "Who are they, Admiral?" asked John.
     "They are the third wave of 45 SPARTANs who have not yet seen combat. They have advanced MJOLNIR suits equipped with shields. You will be their commanding officer, since you are the only live SPARTAN with combat training. You can choose your weapons here."

     The master chief had never seen the S2 FD Saber sniper rifle before. He told Cortana to put its specs on his HUD. Impressive. It could propel a normal sniper rifle projectile at speeds nearing mach 2. And it was half the size of an S2 AM. That would almost be enough to blow a hole through the hunter's armor. He might use it. That way he wouldn't have to tote that heavy Jackhammer around. Still, he could kill anything as long as he had a pistol and a shotgun. He picked one of each up and headed for the landing strip. There were three pelicans out there-fully loaded. The sub-SPARTANs. It might be amusing to see what he was like at that age.

1500 Hours, September 5, 2552 (Military Calendar) /
UNSC Evening Sun, defensive orbit around Beta Gabriel Prime

     "So let me get this straight, Cortana. Admiral Hoodley wants us to leave nothing but two frigates to guard the entire Beta Gabriel system?"
     "That's what he told us. Maybe they're getting more reinforcements from the Alpha system." Cortana radioed in from the approaching longsword.
     "You mean draw defensive starships away from Earth? Impossible. Only Admiral Stanforth himself could authorize that. And even he couldn't do that without the consent of the Earth Assembly. And you know how long they take."
     "All I know is that we are going to stop the Covenant from taking those rings whatever the cost." added John. "If the Covenant use those rings Beta Gabriel is destroyed anyway."
     "I guess you're right, Chief. By the way, your sub-SPARTANs are here. We're ready to jump to slipspace anytime."
     "Roger. Over and out."

0730 Hours, September 18, 2552 (Military Calendar) /
UNSC Evening Sun, en route via slipspace travel from
Beta Gabriel system to coordinates 5623.89, 8802.52

     "How much longer will it be, Cortana?" asked lt. Pearson."Shouldn't be but three hours from now.""Then why in the world did you get me up from cryosleep now?"
     "You understand that I have to go to the ground assault on the ring. You'll have to pilot this thing. I wanted to give you a few pointers. First, the Covenant want to use the rings, not destroy them. Therefore the best place would be..."
     "Inside the circle of the ring. And the Yamato needs to be protected, so we put it in between the destroyer and us. Furthermore, we can use the ground teams to transport the nukes inside the control rooms to shatter the ring so it will be unusable. To provide further safety for the ground..."
     "Okay, okay. Sorry for getting you up early." interrupted Cortana. It's about time to wake up the crew."
     "What about the you-know-whos?"
     "They've been up since two day ago. The Chief wanted to drill them in specific tactics to kill Covenant, and especially flood."
     "So the fate of humanity in one man and 45 children. Going against thousands of thousands of enemies. Not very good odds. For the bad guys."

     "Now, number 67, where do you shoot flood with a shotgun?" ordered the Chief.
     "Always shoot for the head, sir!" returned the trainee.
     "Good. I've taught you a lot over the past few days, but knowing isn't everything. Right after I found the flood, I saw marines running for fear away from the flood. A hardened helljumper was screaming and shooting at me like a paranoid freak. I've even seen one of them get so freaked he fainted. These flood are no joke. Like I've told you, their swing can almost down your shields in two swipes. Always stay as far away as you can."
     "But when you stay far away, what weapon should you never use, number 4?"
     "The S2 AM sniper rifle, sir!"
     "Cortana to master chief. ETA in one hour. Ready weapons and get to landing craft. Sensors show the presence of resistance."
     "Well, SPARTANs, it's our time to shine!" said number 67.

1000 Hours, September 18, 2552 (Military Calendar) / pelican bravo 34,
coordinates 5623.89, 8802. 52, orbit circling gas giant Source

     "Cortana, we're preparing to take off in our pelicans." radioed in squad leader Zachary number 67.
     "Be careful SPARTANs. The Covenant don't know we're here. We don't want that to change. They have our ships outnumbered. If they find us, you have no way of getting off. Stark out."

1100 Hours, September 18, 2552 (Military Calendar) /
Forerunner fortress world installation 006, (codename) halo

     The surface was way too familiar. The Chief stepped out of the Pelican and told Cortana to project a map of the control room and where to go from the exit to the tunnels. It looked just like the place where Foehammer had dropped him off weeks ago.
     "Got it, Chief."
     "Right. SPARTANs, we have armor support in the outside area, but these hallways are loaded with covenant. Don't worry, the vehicles are safe. The Covenant wouldn't use them if their lives depended on it. Time to get your first piece of actions, SPARTANs."
     The SPARTANs entered the first hallway. Nothing. However, they could all hear Covenant activity in the room.
     The Chief silently crept into the room. He made a hand signal that meant throw a grenade at this target. Suddenly a jackal caught sight of them. The chief made a waving down signal to confirm the order. Each grenade found its target. Ten grunts and jackals were down, but the elite's shields had held.
     "Black 67 and 65, take the blue elite behind the wall. The rest of you form a perimeter around the entrances to the center." the Chief said over the COM channel. "Cover me."
     One of the two SPARTANs sent to the cowering elite threw a grenade to force him out of his spot. Black 67 then opened fire with his assault rifle. The elite fired back. Black 65 jumped in front while black 67's shields recharged. The elite fell dead after twenty bullets in its abdomen. Meanwhile the other SPARTANs set up the perimeter trapping the two elites inside
     The chief with grace shot both with the shotgun's wide cone of fire. He then gave each a complementary pistol shot to the head. Area secured.
     They moved to the next room and spied a gold elite and ten spec ops grunts, but in the back of the room stood two hunters. All in all, 5 fuel rod guns to take out first. Time to put the saber to action.
     The chief lined up three grunts in his sight and pulled the trigger. Black 53 then used his saber to down one of the hunters. Just then, the fuel rod gun coupled with stray grenades of dead grunts exploded, killing two more grunts. By then the Gold elite had spotted them. Bad news. He picked up one of the plasma grenade of the dead grunts and threw it at the elite's plasma sword. He threw the sword at Black 53.
     "Duck!" yelled the Chief.
     The sword just barely missed and collapsed as it hit the wall and exploded. The Gold elite unslung a plasma rifle and shot wildly at the door. He was too late. Black 67 had already stuck another plasma grenade to his head. The elite charged toward the SPARTANs but was too late the grenade exploded while he was still fifteen feet away. The hunter's gun flashed-but there was nothing there by the time the shot hit the wall. One of the SPARTANs gunned down the remaining five grunts. The chief shot the other hunter in the head and back with a pistol. Then opened the door to the outside. He saw four scorpions, eight warthogs, and ten wraiths.
     More bad news.