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Operation False Prophets, Chapter Two: If I had Pink Hallways, I'd Make Somebody Pay
Posted By: Ian Barnes<panzerschreck15@netscape.net>
Date: 21 February 2002, 6:53 AM

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››››The Master Chief got up groggily, and shook off the thruster pack. It floated lazily out into space.
››››"Cortana, check for motion."
››››"Negative Chief, there seems to be no one aboard."
››››John reached into his satchel and retrieved the M90 shotgun. It was an impressive weapon. It coud propel an 8 gauge round with such force, not even an Elite's shields could withstand one round at close range. He smiled. He examined the hallways. They were all too familiar. Pinks and purples were the colors of choice by the Covenant. He'd always wondered why. The doors in this area had already sealed to prevent depressurization in the rest of the ship. He remebered how to open one of these doors, he thought. He walked up to one and fumbled with the different buttons, pushing them all until the door slid open.› He proceeded carefully, there was a hallway to his right, left and straight ahead. He carefully checked all of them for Covenant.
››››Great.› He thought. I've been on this ship for two minutes, and I'm already lost.
››››"I'm already looking.... straight ahead. Go straight for 20 meters, a left and a right, and we should be on the bridge. It's a total of about 70 meters of walking. You can handle that right?"
››››The Master Chief didn't answer. He wasn't up for jokes. John proceeded straight, then carefully turned a left. Still no one around. John thought it reminded him of CPO Mendez's assignments, there was always something hidden, and he just hadn't found it yet. He walked down that hallway, and turned a final right. In front of him was a large door, larger than normal. John walked to the keypad, filled with cryptic symbols. He sighed. He hated pushing buttons like this when most of them could be doing completely undesirable things. Finally, after several seconds, he hit the right button and the door slid open. As the door slid open, John expected to find the bridge crawling with Elites, jackals or something. Instead, John saw a single Elite staring out into the blackness of space. The room contained half a dozen pillars. And many holo panels projectors, but no holo panels. This stealth ship seemed to be running dark.
››››"Chief, I can take control of the ship. but you have to get me into those terminals."
››››John began to advance into the room, which almost turned into a complete catastrophe. On his way in, John almost tripped over a grunt, curled up on the floor. Curious how they slept on the floor like animals. They were the only Covenant he had ever seen sleeping. Maybe the others didn't need to sleep, he had no way of telling. Anyway, those grunts would be a problem. John scoped out the rest of the room, and discovered the room was covered with them, at least twenty. If he went after the Elite, the grunts would wake up and keep him trapped in the room. That would be disasterous. On the other hand, John could try to quietly kill the grunts, then the Elite would pose little threat. The only risk there was if a grunt didn't die instantly, they could scream pretty loudly. John decided to go with the latter option.
››››As the Master Chief crept into the room and ducked behind a pillar, he reached both hands out, and with lightning speed, snapped the first grunt's neck. The only sound heard was the sound of the grunt's neck breaking. John sighed and proceeded to repeat the process with the rest of the grunts. Every time bones crucnhed, John heard Cortana make noises of disgust. John smiled, sometimes he almost felt sorry for the grunts who were sleeping, almost. After the room was cleared of grunts, John crept up to the Elite. When John was directly behind the Elite, he stamped his foot. The Elite wheeled and let out a growl. But it was only a a tenth of a second later when the shotgun shell found the Elite's open mouth. The Elite's shields flickered, died and the shell passed into the Elite's brain. The body and the empty shell hit the deck simultaneously.
››››John put away his weapon, and searched the control panels. Cortana exclaimed.
››››"There!" As John was looking at the central panel. John went to place Cortana into the computer, but the socket was filled. They must have AI's as well. John removed the current cube, dropped it onto the floor and crushed it with his boot. He inserted Cortana into the socket and the systems powered up. Cortana took several seconds to sift through the entire database for the ship.
››››"Apparently this ship, the NightCloak has been stationed here ever since the Pillar of Autumn arrived. According to the ship's log, most of the crew is out in several small ships searching for any sort of escape pods, either Covenant or Human. Cortana searched for a few more seconds.
››››"Chief, we have a problem, there are no navigational databases, they were probably in the AI or whatever it was you destroyed. We only have one alternative, hoping someone knows how to get home. I'll try to pass as their shipboard AI, hopefully they won't notice, and you'll have to hide."
›John sat and pondered this for several seconds. Cortana spoke again, obviously hurried.
››››"Chief, if I'm interpreting the Covenant systems correctly, we have inbound ships at one hundred kilometers. Hurry and find a hiding spot.."
››››John hurriedly glanced around the room, and found what looked to be an air vent. John primed the shotgun and shot a whole in the grating. It was 4-5 meters up, John jumped and just barely grabbed it with his fingertips and pulled himself up. The Master Chief sat in the small vent. Cortana could still talk to John, but her ability to slightly increase reaction times, as well as her ability to make calculations for him were gone. However, he appreciated the alone time. Minutes passed and John heard the hiss of the birdge door opening. In came one of those odd floating aliens which John had seen on Sigma Octanus, and flanking it were two shadows, blurs, but John followed them. After several seconds, he heard growls, akin to Elites, as they found the bodies scattered on the floor. The Elites turned off their cloaking devices, and a white shimmer appeared around them, then disappeared. John watched in amazement. The camouflage worked only when the shields were not activated. Curious, why then did it work with the him?
››››When the Elites seemed convinced that the room was secure, they sealed off the bridge, and walked to the control panels. The floating alien didn't seem convinced the area was secure, but followed the Elites to the holo panels anyway. The floating alien which seemed to be a scientist began typing in commands at a furious pace. Cortana was chatting with John the whole time.
››››"Apparently, Covenant AI's take on a very secondary role. They are used only to double check calculations made by these scientists. Apparently those aliens are incredibly smart, I've been able to decipher most of their computer systems, and it's actually quite simple. But the most amazing thing is these scientists remember all the navigational data. They have nothing to protect. If only humans could do that, we wouldn't need the Cole Protocol."
››››Suddenly, the ship lurched forward and began to move. Both the Elites began to clear away the bodies while the "Floater", as the Spartans had nicknamed them, piloted the ship.
››››"Cortana, where are we headed?"
››››"The Covenant homeworld. This ship was ordered to recon this system, and report back. It's approximately two light years from our current postion."
››››"Two light years?" John replied.
››››"Oh yes, I forgot to mention. All this time we believed Covenant ships use Slipspace generators. They don't. It's something else, something incredible. Apparently Covenant ships generate wormholes which bend space for an instant, making the position and destination adjacent for just an instant. The ship travels to the destination, the generator turns off and the objects move farther apart again. This two light year journey should take no more than a second. Amazing isn't it? It was theorized long ago, but no humans ever thought it possible."
››››John felt the ship accelerating even more. For a second, everything went white, then returned to normal.
››››"Wow!" Cortana exclaimed. "This is almost unimaginable. Chief you definitely need to see this. Everything is so advanced.
››››We are docking with some sort of space station. From there we should be able to pilot a dropship down to the surface. That will certainly lower our profile than trying to steal a stealth ship."
››››"Understood." The Master Chief said. As soon as we dock we're getting the hell out of here."