Guns of the Enlightened: Chapter 2
Posted By: Zerodev<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 27 November 2006, 1:33 am
1427 Hours, November 6, 2552 (Military Calendar)
Alien vessel Titan, Earthian Sol System
The alarm blared, much to her surprise.
"Odd, how did he slip by me?" she wondered.
Of course, Cortana had not been herself. She had not been herself since September 20, 2552 when she breached Alpha Halo's system. Her problems only grew worse when she copied herself, and even worse when he abandoned her on High Charity. For an artificial intelligence, Cortana had taken a virtual beating.
She had been busy with calculations, interfacing with other systems, going through scenarios, maintaining slipspace generator integrity, and going through more ONI files she managed to steal when the alarm blared, much to her surprise.
She tracked him through the corridors, alerting the Elite known as Unih V'ulamee about his whereabouts.
Cortana pulsed red when the prisoner was carried into the medical bay.
"How are his vitals?" she asked.
"As usual, he's pretty beat up. He'll live," said the doctor.
"Wake him up," bellowed Cortana.
"Just do it!" the AI ordered.
John did not drift back to reality this time he was ripped from a dream into what seemed like a nightmare. He was back in shackles, this time too weak to move. Pain shot up his side, as he struggled on his bed.
"Relax," said Cortana. "At least you're not stranded with a giant plant."
The Master Chief was not amused. He was, however, quite confused.
"How the hell did you get here?"
"That's classified," retorted the AI.
"Funny. Now how did you"
"You'll get all your answers when you're ready. Now is not the time. We need to get you healthy again, you're in your usual ragged shape," she said, matter-of-factly.
"For the game that trumps all," the doctor interjected.
He had not heard that voice since he was on a rebel meteor-turned-base. He thought she was long gone. Then again, he thought everything was long gone.
John's memory began to flood with images. Horrific images of mangled marines lumbering at him like zombies with tentacles, images of planets burning and friends being sacrificed. He saw Sam's burned side and Linda's lifeless body. Dr. Halsey was the only good memory he had right now, and it was damn good to see her.
"Ma'am!" he exclaimed as he tried once again to wrangle free from his bonds.
"Calm down, John," she replied, "You're in bad shape, don't make it any harder on me."
John's memory was being jogged, but he was incredibly confused at the same time. Dr. Halsey had deserted them. He had done the same to Cortana. He never thought he would see either again, yet here they were in the same room on this strange ship. Something did not feel right.
Dr. Halsey interrupted his racing mind. "John, I'm going to have to perform some surgery on you again. You've got a ruptured spleen, a torn rotator cuff, burns on 37% of your body, and you've managed to tear your Achilles' tendon yet once more. Is pain an illusion for you, or are you just plain stupid?"
John laughed, then coughed. She was right, he had always pushed himself to the limit. He was lucky to have survived this long, and even luckier to have survived his latest adventure in his condition.
The doctor continued, "Your recovery time should be ten days, but I've given up trying to calculate your actual recovery period."
Another familiar face gave an almost imperceptible nod. No one noticed. No one, that is, except John. Even then, he barely saw it.
Now it was a trio of women that had re-entered John's life. Kelly-087 was standing in the corner of the room, nearly in tears. Spartans rarely showed emotion, but the occasion was too much to bear for John's closest living friend. They shared a bond that a universe full of strife could never break.
Loved ones were resurrected. John had not felt this much happiness in a very long time. Or perhaps it was the anesthesia Dr. Halsey had begun pumping into his system.
John slipped into a wonderful dream.
"Doc, you know we don't have ten days," stated Cortana.
Cortana could not help but admire the man on the table. She may have been angry with him for leaving her, but she had not left him much choice. She thought it would be for the best. Turns out, she needed to borrow some of Spartan-117's luck to escape Gravemind and High Charity.
"The demon is a remarkable human specimen, I am amazed he is still breathing," noted the Arbiter, in an unusual display of respect for the human race.
"I would appreciate it if you called him Spartan-117, or at least John," Dr. Halsey remarked. "He's on your side now."
"Very well. This 'John' is a remarkable specimen. With a detestable name."
Dr. Halsey almost chuckled. She was relieved Cortana's automated translation software had been perfected. It was easy for her Spartans to understand the Covenant banter with their built-in translators, but it had been another matter entirely for the normal folk. Dr. Halsey had fashioned a portable translation pack she was able to plug directly into her neural link.
"I need some peace and quiet with my patient, Mr. Arbiter," she kindly stated.
"Very well. Do not delay, we have much work ahead," he responded.
She knew that. She also knew that John needed to be ready much sooner than ten days from now. She hoped John still had some life in him after all these years. More than that, she prayed.
"Silly human superstitions," Cortana sneered.
"Funny. Now help me get started," Halsey replied. Cortana was indeed different. She was amazed at how things had changed since Cortana's "birth." She set those thoughts aside and began her work. They had a universe to save.