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Operation False Prophets: AI Constructs and Cyborgs First, Again
Posted By: Ian Barnes<panzerschreck15@netscape.net>
Date: 20 February 2002, 4:58 AM

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İİİİThe Master Chief sped away from the Halo in the remaining Longsword, watching as the magnificent ring erupted into flame and burst into millions of fragments. John couldn't help but be sorry for the marines who had still been alive on the Halo when it was destroyed, if there were any left. If there were any, his only consolation was he saved them from a much more horrible and painful death. The Flood. As John watched the Halo detonate and chunks of spinning ring were sent hurtling through space, he sat again, and thought about the Halo.
İİİİThe Flood, it was over. Cortana didn't think so, but John had to go with his insticts on this one. CPO Mendez always taught him to trust his insticts.
İİİİMendez would be proud of me. Thought the Master Chief. John wondered what had become of Mendez and the second batch of Spartans. Had they been on Reach when it fell? He could only hope not. Those Spartans including John were humanity's last hope to ward of the Covenant. And even then, John wasn't sure it would make much difference. The only thing that could save them now was the Spartan's original mission. That mission required one critical thing however, a Covenant ship. John's mission had never really begun, considering they were forced to defend Reach. Well, that mission still needed to be completed, and the Spartans had never failed, or rather John had never failed. The other Spartans had failed, they died. But John's current mission had already encountered a snag. There were no Covenant ships to be boarded. John decided it would be best to find whatever forces the UNSC had left, and go from there.
İİİİ"Cortana, where would we find the best location to regroup with UNSC forces?"
İİİİ"According to my calculated rates, there should be very few colonies left by now. Since the colonies are now spread close toget-" John slapped his helmet, a little trick Doctor Halsey had taught him. Cortana would ramble for hours if no one stopped her.
İİİİ"Cortana, please answer in English."
İİİİ"The best colony to travel to would be.... Earth itself. I know the right direction, but I have no idea how far we are from Earth. It could be days, weeks... I don't know."
İİİİ"Damnit." John said. "By the time we get back, there probably won't be an Earth. Cortana, please tell me these ships have a Shaw-Fujikawa generator."
İİİİ"Yes, but these ships are not designed for Slipspace travel. Its reactor is only half as powerful as one in a normal UNSC warship. Therefore, take whatever estimate I gave you before and double it."
İİİİ"Cortana, take us out in normal space for another ten minutes so we can make sure no Covenant ships escaped, then enter the Slipstream."
İİİİ"Very well Master Chief."
İİİİThe ten minutes passed slowly and awkwardly. Neither John nor the AI spoke. Both sat and pondered the events of the last few days. John recounted his events from the point of awaking from cryosleep, to running the final leg into the Longsword and escaping, leaving behind the greatest find humanity has ever seen, and blowing it to smithereens. So little was known about it, yet it seemed like a galactic Pandora's Box. John believed both Cortana and that odd construct 343 Guilty Spark, knew more than they let on. John's only theory was Cortana witheld information in order toİ retain the power to keep John focused on his mission. John himself knew that if he understood everything about Halo, nothing could stop him from trying to find another and harness its power. Yes, he thought, if Cortana knew more, she was right to keep it from him, for the time being.
İJohn watched the countdown timer on his HUD reach one minute. He heard the Slipspace generators warming up when Cortana's voice pitched in.
İİİİ"One minute until Slipspace jump. Area looks secure. Shaw-Fujikawa reactor's shakedown 98% complete."
İİİİJohn watched as the timer reached thirty seconds. John felt that feeling of anxiety that he had felt a hundred times. His saying still held true.
İİİİThe last few steps of any battle are the most dangerous.
İİİİThe cockpit turned red and warning klaxons blared in John's ears.
İİİİ"Cortana! What the hell is going on?"
İİİİCortana cooly replied. "Object detected at 3 kilometers."
İİİİJohn looked out the window and saw nothing, or so he thought. John's eagle-like eyes stared into the darkness, and found something. A shadow, a ghost. The sunlight hit it at the right angle for an instant, and revealed the object. It was exposed for only an instant, a normal human wouldn't have seen the colors, but John did. It was a ship for certain. The hull was a dull purple. John's eyes widened and Cortana detected a quickening of his pulse. John's adrenaline spiked and he gripped his chair. John couldn't believe it.
İİİİ"A stealth ship." John muttered. "What's it doing out here? Cortana, do you detect any readings, energy, movement, anything?"
İİİİ"No sir. It appears to be dead in space."
İİİİ"All stop, turning off all non-essential systems, I want to be running dark. They haven't noticed us yet, I want to keep it that way."
İİİİ"What do you have in mind?" Cortana asked cautiously.
İİİİ" I'm going to finish my mission."
İİİİJohn read the display in front of him. According to the reading, the ship was about 100 meters long. A "small ship". Much larger than the Longsword, but a crew of probably no less than 50-100. John rose and walked to the weapons locker. Neither Cortana nor John had the codes to open it, since they were never designated to fly this ship. That wasn't a problem. The Master Chief drew back his fist and smashed open the door of the locker, Titanium A, the same material used in starship battle plate. He withdrew a Jackhammer launcher, an eight gauge shotgun and a thruster pack. The shotgun would be risky, the noise drew lots of attention, but John had discovered that the shotgun worked devilishly well against the shieled elites, especially in close quarters like a ship. John returned to the command chair.
İİİİ"Cortana, I'm planning to board that ship. I need you to calculate how long it will take to reach the ship at maximum speed using the thruster pack, and coordinate it so every single weapon this ship has it hitting theİ Covenant ship seconds before I reach it. Since there are no energy readings, it must mean no shields. The missles will punch a hole in the ship, and we can get in."
İİİİ"Very well, missles are coordinated. Ready when you are. I can remotely fire the missles once we are away."
İİİİJohn moved towards the airlock, opened it, stepped inside and closed the door behind him. He opend the second door, pushed himself into space, ignited the thruster pack and sped toward the ship. Over the roar of the thrusters, John heard Cortana yell "Missles Away!" John looked back to see several HE Anvil II's streaking toward the target. They overtook him and John watched the missles impact and leave a gaping hole in the hull. A second later, John slammed into the hull, grasped and pulled himself inside. They were in.