A New Year's Day, Chapter 4
Posted By: Guilty Spark<email@example.com>
Date: 18 December 2002, 6:46 am
[February 3, 2558. 1600 hours. Aboard the USNC Concordia orbiting Luna II.]
Silence fell across the bridge. Crewmembers looked up from their consoles and stared at the figure looking back at them on the holo-screen.
Halsey took a step forward. "We appreciate your assistance. But, you have me at a disadvantage. You know my name but I don't know yours."
The being replied, "Imhotep." Two figures appeared behind Imhotep. "This is Djoser and Tetiankh-Kem," as he motioned to his right then left. "We are explorers and have been examining this system for resources. I am curious. This planet is far from your more developed systems, yet your people and the Covenant have repeatedly fought to control it. Why?"
Halsey nodded. He knew when to lay out his cards and when to hold them close to his vest. He chose the later. "It's funny you should mention resources. We have found Luna II to be rich in iridium and titanium - both are valuable resources to my people. But, I imagine the Covenant like Luna II for military reasons. We know they have used the planet as a jumping point for invasions into our systems." Halsey added the last bit hoping to create the impression they knew what was going on around Luna II. He didn't like being caught with his pants down, and he felt uncomfortable with the idea the Forerunner - regardless if they were hostile or not - may have been watching since the Concordia's arrival two days ago. "Is Luna II part of your territory?" Hasley asked, turning the subject back to the Forerunner.
"We lay no claim to the planet. It lacks the resources we seek."
"What resources would that be? Perhaps we have access to them and could provide you with what you need. It's the least we could do to repay you for your assistance."
"Thank you, but it is a rare item and difficult to acquire. We could not impose such a task upon you. Your ship has suffered damage. Are you in need of assistance with the repairs?"
He is holding his cards close, too, Halsey thought. And, changing the subject. "Thank you, Imhotep. We appreciate the offer, but we have the situation under control. We should be on our way within the hour."
"Good luck then, Captain Halsey. We have urgent matters to attend to and must be on our way."
"Hold on. My people have looked forward to meeting your people. We have so many questions. When will we meet, again? How will we contact you?"
"Soon. Very soon. We will contact you."
The holo-screen faded. Seconds later, the Forerunner ship slowly turned then sped away, quickly vanishing from sight.
"Bella?" asked Halsey.
"I am reading some sort of hyperspace signature. They're gone."
"Send a sitrep (situation report) to Fleet. Secure band, high-level encryption. Have my command staff meet me in my ready room in twenty minutes."
[February 3, 2558. 1630 hours. Inside Camp Eagle, a USNC special operations marine outpost half a light year away from Luna II.]
Two men sat in a small, low-lit conference room reading a sitrep from the Concordia.
"My God, he did it. The son-of-a-gun did it," said Colonel Bryce McFarlan. "Bull Halsey drew them out. We were right. The Forerunner are on Luna II."
"Yeah, we were right. But, Hawkins' team was supposed to make the contact. Instead, they ended up KIA. Something is wrong with this. On top of that, this is not a 'contained' situation," said Colonel Hal Montgomery, a slow stream of smoke rising from his pipe.
"Don't piss on it, Hal. A Covenant strike team ambushed Hawkins' team. They got careless and paid the price. It's stated clearly in Bull Halsey's report. Besides, he runs a tight ship. He will keep this sealed until he comes hear for debriefing."
"Are you sure he won't leak?"
"Without a doubt."
"Are you going to let him in on our friend?" Montgomery motioned to a large, cylindrical container reaching from floor to ceiling in the center of the room. It contained a light blue, thick liquid. Floating inside the container was the body of a Forerunner.
"Let me think about that," replied McFarlan.
[February 3, 2558. 1700 hours. Aboard the USNC Concordia orbiting Luna II.]
Halsey paced the floor of his ready room. His command staff - Commander Saul Torres, Lt. Commander Adrian Pasdar, Lt. Commander Byron Black and Lt. Doug Jamison - was seated around a round onyx table. Bella stood nearby.
"We are going back down to Luna II to find out what is really going on. Time is of the essence. Adrian, I need a special ops unit for this one."
"We have six Spartans ready, sir", she replied.
"Good. Then, I'll begin the briefing. Two Pelicans will insert at our previous LZ. One will carry marines and the other will carry the Spartans. Our goal is to make this appear as a clean up mission. The marines will be tasked with recovering stray ordinance and equipment that appear to have value. The Spartans will be in active camou and insert during the commotion of the cleanup effort. The marines will load material on the dropship previously occupied by the Spartans, then return to the Concordia. The Spartans are going to follow the course previously taken by Hawkins' team to see what they can find. Any questions?"
"Sir, how will the Spartans maintain active camou?" asked Black.
"We will implement a new form of active camou that runs off the shielding generated by the Spartan's battle suit. It's a very low drain and should not be of concern," replied Torres. "If the Spartans go undetected, then they should have about twenty-four hours of active camou."
"This mission will last no more than eighteen hours," added Halsey.
"When will the team insert, sir?" asked Pasdar.
"Tomorrow at 0630. Adrian, a snowball like Luna II affords little cover. The Spartans are going to need to be fully prepped for that environment. Stealth is vital."
"That's all. Dismissed."