Posted By: AbbeyLynn<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 24 January 2007, 9:55 pm
We jumped in and there it was, as they said it would be. I expected to see something other than what I had originally imagined. You know? How you hear about something, whether in great or minor detail, before you see it yourself and the actual thing is far different than that which you had conjured in your mind. Not this time. This time, for the first time, I truly felt like I had seen the future. The way the ring floated beside the moon, the way the sunlight ricocheted off of its metallic outer layer, and sliced across its far side, brightening the dense foliage and deep oceans on its inner circle and making evident the day versus the night. At this distance, the ring made me think of Eryn, and how much I wished that she could be here for this. Or maybe just be here for me.
Major Urdang entered the launch deck at a fast, but controlled, pace. In toe with her, and dwarfing her with his seven-foot frame and jade metallic armor (which must have added at least 4 inches to his appearance), was the Master Chief. The man, and I use that term loosely, who had survived Reach, destroyed a Halo, had apparently gathered the intel needed to end the conflict, and, after this mission, will likely give humans the key to unlocking the greatest mysteries of the universe. Or so we were told. I stand here with my fellow pilots, warming up our birds, because this brute of a human/not human has convinced Central Command, and more importantly Admiral Wills that there is a Halo that holds more than just a self-destruct button and it is, according to this Spartan, the one that resides just over my left shoulder, out the window, and less than 2,500 kilometers from Victoria, or as I call it, "home".
"...we are going in hot and fast on this one. You drop Master Chief here and his squad where he tells you, and you bug out. That's it. I'll let him tell you where you're going. Low profile. No warthogs on this trip, we're on foot until we achieve our objective. Now, let me remind you that even though you see nothing out that window but a pretty little ancient artifact of death, I implore you to be on your toes as if you were flying directly into a Covenant convoy. All of our sensors are quiet, and it appears we've finally gotten the jump on them this time, no pun intended...you liked that, Karl?"
Karl had laughed. I bit my lip to avoid it. Not because puns strike me as particularly amusing, but because when Karl laughs, he looks ridiculous.
"...we do appear to be alone out here, but if one of you gets shot in the back while unwrapping a pack of dried figs, I swear to God, I will think bad things about you for eternity. Stay focused. We have no reason to believe that the Covenant are not already down there. And we cannot know if there will be another flood situation. This ring does seem to be different, though. And if we know about it, then the smart side of my brain, the part that doesn't drink and gamble and do other stupid things like light hairspray on fire, tells me the Covenant do as well. Chief..."
"We don't know exactly where we're going, or what we're looking for aes-"
"Great." Sarcasm. Karl. Of course.
"...aesthetically speaking. We've adjusted the sensors on your Eagles to be highly sensitive to ion emissions. When we start picking up a lot of those, we'll know we're close. I'd also guess that our comm systems will blackout, or at least get a lot of interference."
"So as long as everything seems fine, then we're nowhere near it," I offer.
"Right. I have a feeling you'll know when we're close. Regardless, it should not take very long to find. The ring is not terribly large, and you have the fastest ships with the best pilots I've seen in the fleet."
"You're damn right!" Gregg affirms the Spartan's suspicions that we may be awesome. Is he buttering us up? I don't know yet. Maybe. I can't tell with that ridiculous visor over his face.
"I'm done," Master Chief says, this to Urdang.
"Okay, pilots. Load in. As soon as your Eagles are ready to fly, were loading bravo squad and echo squad into the three birds. Al, Master Chief is with you."
"Sir." I respond, dully, accepting. Proud because they clearly want him in the best pit, but also pissed because I don't like Master Chief. A guy can save the human race and blah, blah, blah, but that doesn't mean you want to have drinks with him and trade bad date stories. Also, he'd be ordering me around in my own bird, which, as you can imagine, drives me insane.
"Karl, get in there, fire it up," I say without looking at him, "...and no dicking around with the jukebox this time, the Spartan is on board."
Gregg and Jake run over to their Eagle, appropriately dubbed Cowboy (not for the tough, rugged breed of human, but for the kings that Gregg so often seems to pull out of his ass on poker night), as Reds (newly promoted) and Dawk (newly new) load up into MaryJane. I'm the last to step off the deck and into the pit of my bird, through the short seats, and shallow benches and into the throne, where Karl waits with controls lighting up like pinball lights. I put my helmet on and run through my routine. The usual. This mission, though. The usual? I don't know. Maybe.
Victoria has not seen much action since Zanetta, where we lost Eryn. Where I lost Eryn. For months it's been recon (not fun recon), escort, and drilling. The Captain was grateful for the time to rebuild his crew, but I fear we may have become soft. They picked us because we're low profile. They put us on this sit because the Covenant would not look our way. I guess the concept of morale isn't completely alien to them. The major capital ships are off fighting the war. A war that I was told 11 hours ago is nothing but a diversion for this mission. Part of me wants this thing to be smooth because I don't know what Reds and Dawk will do face to face with Covenant fighters, but another part of me wants this thing to go bad so I can die fighting, and take some of those bastards with me. Eryn would be happy to see me, I think, especially with a few Covenant spirits under my heel.
Maybe putting Master Chief in this Eagle isn't such a hot idea. Oh well.
I hear the chaotic clatter of marines shuffling into my pit, and I wince. Master Chief comes last. While the others strap in for the insertion, he paces slowly up and down, watching them, I assume. Once they seem settled he walks toward the throne, and stops just behind me. He is an amazingly intimidating presence. His size, the shadow he casts over you, the sound of his breathing, and something more. An energy that comes off of him in waves and makes me feel like an ant. I always hated feeling like an ant. The last boy who made me feel that way ended up with a bloody ear and one less molar. He presses a button over the head of one of the privates, so I can hear him in my helmet, and speaks.
"We're ready, Lieutenant."
"Roger that, Master Chief, sir," I say, immediately regretting the edge in my voice. He doesn't seem to notice. Or care.
"MaryJane, you with me? Cowboy?" I ask. The speakers in my helmet crack, buzz, and both support ships report in. "Chief? Can we get this bay door open, so we can get out of here?"
"Thirty seconds, Lieutenant, we're clearing our people out of there."
"Good, good." A minute later the red and white lights begin the spin to life, indicating that the bay will be open to space in seconds. "Karl, switch main aux to engine, and give me a boost on my mark."
"You got it, boss."
The bay door slides open, and I take a look back at the Master Chief. He is staring down at me. At least, I think he is. I can't see anything but the smeared reflection of myself. He says nothing and I think, what does he do when there isn't a war? Could he work a farm and have children? Read to them at night? Teach them to be polite? I turn back and see that Karl is staring at me. "What?"
"Your boost is online, my lady."
"I told you, don't call me that. Gregg, Reds, I'm going...stay close. Three, two, one, mark."
Karl gives us some juice and I feel the weight of the Eagle lifted and suddenly the controls become sensitive and sharp. I edge the weight forward with a short burst, and the window to the universe widens. When I'm clear I fire my engines and find within myself a sudden desire to see the Master Chief fall on his big metal ass. But he stands firm and we speed steadily away from home. I turn to face the objective, the ring, the Halo, and our radar beeps to announce that our two partners are in formation. I take one more look at the Spartan and think of Eryn.
"Relax, Lieutenant, I'll be out of your way soon and you can head home," he says suddenly.
I don't plan on coming back, I think but do not say.