1428 Hours, September 12, 2552 (Military Calendar) /
UNSC Longsword N049, Threshold System's Edge
The natural, unfiltered light was alien to the Chief. In the beginning of the MJOLNIR project, it had been difficult for the Spartans to adjust to the active lenses of their helmets, but by now, the chief's armor had become as much a part of him as his own flesh. As he broke the seal on his armor for the first time in days, the chief shaded his eyes from the harsh rays of Threshold's star, and surveyed the cabin of the longsword. He knew his mind should be on the task at hand; finding and rejoining and remnants of the UNSC to receive new orders. He was sure his current mission of capturing a covenant ship could now be deemed over, but had an uneasy feeling about it. Although they had been in many unsuccessful battles, the Spartans and the Chief personally had never left a mission incomplete.
But the chief could not keep his mind off of what had just taken place. He tried to make some sense of it. So many thoughts flooded his mind it was hard for him to concentrate any one of them. The only other Spartan that he saw off planet Reach had been Blue two, who he had placed in cryo after the battle. She had been dead at the time, but he had hoped a NAVY surgeon could revive her. It was an unthinkable fact for him, but he was likely the only Spartan still alive.
"Mind uploading me into the longsward computer?" Cortana asked.
The Chief removed the memory card containing Cortana and inserted it into the fighters holo display. Her transparent violet image flashed up on the holo panel.
"I suggest you get some rest for now. I can handle things from here."
"Right." It was then that for the first time the chief realized how tired he was. He had not slept in well over seventy-two hours, and was exhausted. The chief did the best he could to put his thoughts behind him for the moment. He removed the rest of his armor and climbed into one of the rear berths of the longsword, and tried to fall asleep. There was one cryo tube on the fighter, but fatigued subjects placed into the frozen state of cryo sleep experienced harmful side affects. For now, he would enjoy natural, unregulated sleep.
They would be safe only if they left the area immediately. Although all local Covenant forces had been eliminated, the disappearance of dozens of capital ships would not go unnoticed. New covenant forces could arrive at any moment. With the Chief off duty for the time being, Cortana had complete control over where to take them. Reach would have been the logical destination for a returning Spartan, but it had surly been glassed by the Covenant. A secondary command planet had never been established because it had always been thought that one would never be needed. Now, there was no sure place to go. Cortana decided Earth was the next best choice; though every ship going to Earth was another chance for the Covenant to learn of its location. It was a risk she was willing to take.
"Chief, our current destination is Earth. I have set our exit vector and we will reach minimum velocity for the jump to slipstream in thirty seconds. Powering up the Shaw-Fujikawa generators." Cortana said. "Rescanning. Still nothing."
The fighter began to rumble as the translight generators began their startup sequence. The chief climbed out of his berth, stood, looked back towards Halo, and saluted the thousands of human lives that, he was sure, had been spent. As they accelerated out-of-system, the chief watched the debris of Halo continue to drift apart. Just as they began to make the transition from normal space to slipstream, the chief saw small distant spots of space around Threshold begin to boil and turn a blue green color. The incoming objects never had a chance to detect the longsward before it made the jump and vanished from ring No. 004 forever.