Posted By: Adlin Yusman Yusoff<firstname.lastname@example.org>
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.