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The Tides of War Part 2 "Unforseen Alliances" Chapter 5
Posted By: Corbantis<ssrm3@lvcm.com>
Date: 23 March 2002, 4:30 am

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0640 Hours, August 31, 2552 (Military Calendar) /
Sol System, patrolling near Pluto,
UNSC command ship Saratoga

     Fleet Admiral Stanley Leonard stood on the observation deck on his command ship the UNSC Heavy Cruiser Saratoga, gazing out the view port with his hands clasped behind his back. Yesterday had been a hard day when he learned that the Reach system had come under Covenant attack. He still had not received a progress report on the fighting there, and the Admiral was worried. If Reach fell from the Covenant assault then the war would be over in a matter of weeks. He brushed the thought aside. Reach couldn't possibly fall to the Covenant, not with all the defenses there, could it? But in the back of his mind he knew it could happen. Well, the Admiral thought, if they want to kill us so bad, I'm not going down without taken some of those bastards with me.
     The Admiral sighed, and then he closed his eyes and shook his head. "Admiral, I'm receiving a report from ONI for you sir." The young woman paused as she keyed some commands into her computer display, "Its about Reach, sir. It has an Alpha priority encryption on it that requires you command codes." Admiral Leonard turned toward the young female comm. officer. "Send it to my ready room, lieutenant. I'll read it there." The Admiral said as he began walking to his ready room. "Yes, sir." Replied the lieutenant as she turned back to her station.
     Admiral Leonard entered his ready room and walked behind his desk to sit down in his chair. Once he was seated, the Admiral activated his computer. The touch screen plasma monitor came to life. It first displayed the UNSC seal, and then it went to the main menu with multiple icons. His message box was blinking, and the Admiral touched the icon to open it. Inside were three messages, two were old, but the third was the report from ONI. He opened it. "PLEASE STATE YOUR COMMAND CODE" said the computer. "Admiral Stanley Gerard Leonard, command code Alpha thirteen four six five Zulu seven nine Sierra twelve twenty-six." Admiral Leonard said to the computer. "VOICEPRINT CONFIRMED. COMMAND CODE ACCEPTED" the computer stated as the document opened. It read:

United Nations Space Command Priority Transmission
Encryption Code: Alpha
Public Key: N/A
From: ONI Headquarters, New York
To: UNSC Fleet Admiral Stanley Gerard Leonard
Subject: The fall of Reach/Casualty Report
Classification: Restricted (BGX Directive)

/start file/
Fleet Admiral Stanley Gerard Leonard,
All contact with the Reach system was lost approximately 12 hours ago. Stealth ships sent in to investigate confirm the fall of the system to superior Covenant forces. Confirmation of 100% casualties by scans from stealth ships. No survivors. Be prepared for incursion of the Sol system by Covenant forces. The Covenant might have obtained navigational data despite the Cole Protocol.
-- 250 ships confirmed destroyed
-- Estimated 150,000 to 200,000 UNSC personnel KIA
-- All reach installations destroyed
-- Weapons stockpile lost
-- SPARTAN II project lost
-- Remaining SPARTAN's KIA

/end file/

Press ENTER to close file

The Admiral pressed enter and turned off his computer. He just sat in his ready room in silence, thinking over what he just read.
     Reach had fallen.
He shook his head in disbelief. How could this have happened? Of all the planets besides Earth, he never thought Reach would succumb to the Covenant.
     As the Admiral sat in uncertainty in his ready room, the ready room's intercom crackled on, and the tactical officer came over the intercom. "Admiral, sir, we are receiving some strange telemetry from the Pluto orbital space station that I think you should take a look at." Admiral Leonard sighed, he hoped the data wasn't what he was guessing it was. "I'll be right there." Replied the Admiral.
     He got up and exited his ready room, and then he walked over to the tactical station.
     "I hope it's not the Covenant, tell me it's not, son." The Admiral said to the tactical officer. "Sir, it just exited slipstream." The officer looked up gravely at Admiral Leonard. "Well? What is it son?" Asked the Admiral again. "It's a small fleet of Covenant ships, sir." The Admiral looked more sternly at the young man. "How small, Lieutenant." Said the Admiral. "Two destroyer class ships and six frigate class ships." Stated the officer as he looked at his monitor. The young officer looked up at the Admiral. "Should I initiate the Cole Protocol, sir?" Asked the officer.
     Admiral Leonard shook his head. "No need to son, they know about Earth now." The Admiral walked over to where the main battle screen was. There was a small AI pedestal connected to it. "Noa." Admiral Leonard said the female AI's name. "Yes Admiral?" Said a calm female voice as Noa's slender form projected from the AI pedestal. She was dressed in a white toga with her tanned transparent skin clearly seen. "Put the ship on combat alert alpha, Noa. Prepare point defenses." He said to her. She nodded and faded out from the AI pedestal. The ship's interior lighting dimmed to a red hue as the alarms sounded. He turned to his comm. officer. "Lieutenant Fyke, send a message to the fleet that the covenant have found Earth." He marked a NAV point in the path of the Covenant battle group on the battle screen in front of him, which displayed a map of the space around Pluto.
     "Have the fleet rendezvous at these coordinates to repel the attack." "Yes sir." Replied the officer. The helm officer, Lieutenant Dunn, turned towards the Admiral. "What's going to happen sir, is Earth going to be destroyed?" The Admiral looked at the young officer. "I'll make sure that never happens, Earth won't fall." The helm officer nodded uncertainly to the Admiral as he returned to his station.
     But for Admiral Leonard, he didn't know what would happen.
     And he had a bad feeling about this.

0933 Hours, August 31, 2552 (Military Calendar) /
Sol System, Near Pluto,
UNSC command ship Saratoga

     The Sol fleet of thirteen warships was shortly reduced to the Saratoga and two surviving destroyers. The battle wasn't going well.
     "Admiral!" Yelled the tactical officer, "The destroyer Bismarck's engines have been hit, she's going critical!" Just then the destroyer named Bismarck exploded in a ball of nuclear fire. Admiral Leonard shielded his eyes, even though the view port dimmed from the sudden flash of light. Luckily, the Bismarck had a Covenant frigate close to it. The enemy ship was caught in the explosion. Its shield glowed white and then collapsed; the alien ship was destroyed with the Bismarck.
     Just then the Saratoga took a direct hit from a Covenant plasma torpedo. "Sir, the aft sections are burning! The fires' spreading!" The chief engineer yelled from his station. "Seal those decks and vent the atmosphere! Now!" The Admiral quickly said to the engineer. "Fires' out, sir." The chief engineer said, partially relieved. His fingers danced across the computer screen. "Decks thirty through thirty-seven are gone sir, they.. they burned away." The officer said in horror.
     "Fire control to the main cannon is offline sir, ammunition levels nearly depleted." Reported the tactical officer. The Admiral had underestimated the enemy fleet.
     When the battle started, things seemed to be going fine. Admiral Leonard had grouped his fleet in a tight wall formation.
     That was his grave mistake.
The enemy took advantage of the situation by immediately launching a volley of plasma torpedoes at the Admiral's fleet. Most of the UNSC ships were too close together to effectively maneuver to avoid the deadly torpedoes. In an instant half the fleet was reduced to ionized titanium particles. The Admiral ordered the remaining ships to break and attack.
     They engaged the enemy fleet and managed to take down two more Covenant frigates, leaving only one more. The destroyer class ships were a different story. They had taken little damage during the exchanges of fire between the two fleets, and when the Saratoga, Bismarck, and Yorktown began to fall back, the enemy ships gladly pursued.
     Now that it was down to the Admiral's ship and the UNSC destroyer Yorktown, things were looking bad. "Fyke, how long until reinforcements arrive?" The Admiral asked the lieutenant. "Their ETA is twenty minutes sir." She said as she braced herself against her station as the Saratoga took more enemy fire. Twenty minutes? Thought Admiral Leonard. By then he might be dead and Earth with him. "If anyone has any suggestions on how we can last for twenty more minutes, speak up!" Yelled the Admiral to his crew.
     No one had any ideas. Except Noa. "Admiral, if you let me fly the ship I could navigate us into the nearby asteroid belt." She put her holographic hands on her hips, "I would be able to dodge more of the plasma torpedoes in there." She stared at the Admiral. "Do it then Noa!" He said quickly. "Taking control of the ship...now" as Noa spoke, the Saratoga veered toward the asteroid belt. She rolled and jinked the big cruiser side to side as if it were a fighter, dodging enemy fire with ease.
     As they approached the asteroids something unusual happened. The pursuing enemy ships changed their heading back towards Pluto. Noa brought the Saratoga to a halt and maneuvered the ship around 180 degrees to face the diverging enemy ships. "Admiral sir, I am getting new telemetry from sensors." The tactical officer punched commands into his computer. "It's a new Covenant fleet. It's huge! Picking up over three hundred and fifty ships." The officer said, astonished. Moments later the armada exited slipstream in ten perfectly formed wall formations consisting of thirty-five ships in each group.
     What surprised the Admiral was the fact that the two destroyers heading towards the covenant armada were opening fire on these new visitors, and the armada was firing at the destroyers. In a matter of minutes the new ships vaporized the two Covenant destroyers. "Noa, did I just see those Covenant kill their own ships." Asked the Admiral in disbelief. Noa's image appeared over the AI holo projector. She nodded her head as she "looked" on at the Covenant armada. "Yes, they did destroy those two remaining warships," She paused as she accessed the Saratoga's sensors, "Odd.. their weapons are powered down and their shields are down." She looked puzzled. AI's never got puzzled.
     Another heartbeat passed before anyone else spoke. The comm. officer broke the silence, "Admiral, the lead ship of the Covenant armada is hailing us. It's an audio and visual transmission sir." The Admiral pointed at the main battle screen as he spoke. "Put it up here lieutenant." The officer did, and the screen came to life, displaying a gold Commander Elite with silver shoulder pads. "Greetings, human. I assume that you are the commander of your fleet, seeing as the smaller vessel follows you." The alien said in a deep, guttural voice. Admiral Leonard stared at the alien in brief disbelief. Yes Stanley, he is talking to you, the Admiral thought to himself as he stood in silence. "Yes, I am Fleet Admiral Stanley Gerard Leonard of the UNSC Navy." He paused as he put on his best diplomatic face. "And who are you?" He asked the alien.
     The Elite put his fist to his chest. "I am Commander General Bre'sadi Vorskray of the Covenant Naval Forces and brother of Supreme War Master T'soll Vorskray." The Elite paused to smile; at least that's what the Admiral thought that facial expression was. "Actually, that title is probably former General since I joined the Revolutionary Coalition Forces." Said the Elite.
     Admiral Leonard crossed his arms over his chest. He suspiciously raised his eyebrow at the Covenant General. "Why did you help us? I thought we were an "Affront to your gods." The elite laughed at the question. "That is not true, the Prophets only conjured up that lie to gain power. Our gods love all life. That's what the real Prophets taught before they were killed by the power hungry ones." The Admiral nodded his head. "So why have you come here then? Are you going to help our people?" Admiral Leonard waited for a reply.
     "Yes. We will help you, for you are what we fight for. The Coalition's goal is to end the oppression of the Prophets. What they have done to your people is wrong." The General slightly bowed his head. "We wish to form an alliance with your people. In doing so we will push back the Prophets' plans and liberate your race." The Elite paused. "We will still need your help. We have more ships than this and not enough people to crew them. In order to defeat the other forces we will need great numbers of ships. We could teach you how to operate the other ships so that you may fight with us." The General looked directly at Admiral Leonard.
     "I'll contact my superiors, I'm sure they would be happy to form an alliance. I know I would." The Admiral smiled at the alien on the screen. "Contact me when you speak with your leaders. In the meantime my forces will spread out to protect your home world. I am certain my brother knows what happened, and he will most likely attack again soon." The Elite yelled something in his own language to someone off screen. "I bid you luck with your task, Admiral." "Same to you." Said Admiral Leonard as he cut the transmission.
     The Admiral turned towards his helm officer. "Lieutenant Dunn, set a course for Earth at whatever speed is possible." "Eye, sir. The engines can go up to sixty-two percent. Setting course." The officer's fingers danced across the monitor as he piloted the ship toward Earth.
     "Well everyone, things are looking better all ready for the Human race." The Admiral Said to his crew. They nodded their heads as they worked.
     And as the ship lurched forward to that blue and green jewel floating in the darkness of space, Admiral Stanley Leonard smiled, seeing as the Human race finally had a chance to fight back the Covenant...