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A New Year's Day, Chapter 3
Posted By: Guilty Spark<guiltyspark@charter.net>
Date: 15 December 2002, 9:08 am

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[February 3, 2558. 1530 hours. Aboard the USNC Concordia orbiting Luna II.]

"Shields up! Bring us back to full alert," Halsey said as he turned to leave the room. "Bella, I'll see you on the bridge." Halsey left the room and boarded the nearest turbolift. The doors to the lift closed and Halsey commanded,"Bridge." The turbolift accelerated up and sped Halsey towards the bridge with a soft hum.
Halsey pondered the developing situation. The Concordia - being a Halcyon-class cruiser - was obviously more than any scout ship could chew. It was one of the first USNC ships to be fitted with new weaponry compliments of stolen Covenant technology. Turbolasers. It was a derivative of plasma technology, but didn't pack the same punch. However, what the turbolasers lacked in quality they made up for in quantity. They required less energy and a smaller footprint than their plasma counterparts, meaning you could arrange more of them on your ship. A lone Covenant heavy cruiser would think twice before tangling with a ship like the Concordia. This isn't a heavy cruiser it's a scout ship, Halsey thought.
The turbolift slowed then came to a firm stop. The doors opened and Halsey stepped onto the bridge. Some crewmembers stood staring out the main view of the bridge. He looked past them and there it was, the small ship they had encountered just hours prior. As Halsey approached, the crewmembers dispersed, returning to their bridge stations. Bella materialized nearby.
"Jamison, status," ordered Halsey.
"Nothing, sir. The ship is just sitting there... doing nothing," replied the lieutenant.
What in the world does this Covenant want, thought Halsey.
"Captain, the energy levels coming from that ship are off the scale," Bella said. "I've never seen anything like it."
"Is it building to self-destruct?"
"No. It is sustained, but... it's not plasma-based..."
"Comm! Multiple contacts bearing 0-7-1," Jamison broke in.
About eight kilometers off the starboard side of the Concordia, nine Covenant warships dropped out of slipstream. A heavy cruiser, two frigates and six destroyers. Immediately the frigates moved forward to engage the Concordia.
"A Covenant welcoming committee. That's what are little friend lured us into," Halsey said under his breath shaking his head at his inability to see this coming. "Helm, evasive maneuvers. Delta Tau." The Concordia turned away from the small scout ship to face the new threat.
As the first Covenant frigate came into range, a beam of intense, white light shot past the Concordia from her aft. The beam penetrated the frigate, travelling across its fore section slicing like a knife through the gleaming hull. Small explosions erupted along the fissure being created by the beam until the frigate imploded. The resulting explosion shook the Concordia and heavily damaged the remaining frigate, setting it adrift - no propulsion, no helm control. It would eventually meet its fate on the surface of Luna II. The destroyers broke formation and, along with the heavy cruiser, moved to engage the Concordia.
"Bella, where in the hell did that come from?" shouted Halsey.
"The scout ship, I think."
"What the..."
At that moment, the scout ship moved past the Concordia positioning itself in front to engage the oncoming Covenant ships. The Covenant ships - in unison - began firing at the Concordia and the scout ship. Some of the shots found their targets. The Concordia was rocked, absorbing the hits and sustaining serious damage to her shielding. We won't last long, thought Halsey. He noticed the scout ship was gone. Destroyed.
"Fire! Concentrate on the destroyers."
The Concordia returned fire. Her turbolaser batteries burst forth raining a firestorm on the approaching destroyers. Many shots found their mark. One destroyer was severely damaged - it would be joining the doomed frigate. Two other destroyers lost weapons but still had propulsion. The remaining three destroyers pushed ahead with the cruiser not far behind. The Covenant were about to have their day with the Concordia.
"Comm! Contact bearing 3-1-6! It's the scout ship," Jamison said in disbelief.
Behind and to the port side of the destroyers, the scout ship materialized. "A cloaking device," Halsey and Bella said looking at each other.
The scout ship emitted two white beams focused on the destroyers' aft sections. Before they could react, they exploded, breaking one of the destroyers into three large chunks hurtling through space. The Concordia erupted with another volley of fire at the last charging destroyer. As the destroyer simultaneously returned fire, it exploded. The Concordia found its mark.
The destroyer found its mark, as well. The Concordia was disabled, turning slowly, but thankfully moving away from Luna II. Weapons functioned, but no propulsion! "We're a sitting duck," said Halsey. "Where is that cruiser?"
"Sir, the cruiser is retreating," replied Jamison.
"I guess we have our little 'friend' to thank," injected Bella.
"Damage report," requested Halsey.
Bella stood with eyes closed and her hand to her forehead. "Engines down. We may be able to get secondary thrusters online in an hour - no word on the primaries. Shields down to nearly three percent. Long range communications are out. Minor hull breaches on deck thirty-two. Sixteen fatalities and about twice as many injuries - some of them serious. Overall, I would say we were lucky."
Halsey faced Jamison. "Where is that scout ship?"
"About 2 kilometers off our starboard side, sir."
"Hail them."
Jamison hailed the tiny ship. Halsey turned to Bella, "What do you make of this little 'friend' of ours?"
"Beats the hell out of me."
"What kind of energy did you say?"
"I didn't. It's definitely not plasma-based. I've never seen anything like..."
"Sir, they're responding to our hail."
"On screen."
The bridge view flickered and was replaced by a holo-screen. The screen filled in with a large, dark figure. It appeared to be humanoid. It wore some sort of armor - not distinguishable on a holo-screen. Its eyes almost seemed to have a faint glow.
For a brief moment, no one said anything. Then, it spoke,"Hello, Captain Halsey. We are who you refer to as the Forerunner."