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The Fallen: Chapter 4 Section 1
Posted By: Hikaru-119<hikaru119@email.com>
Date: 22 July 2003, 2:29 PM

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Chapter 4 Section 1: New News
2000 Hours November 16, 2553 (Military Calendar)
On Board the Leviathan, On Sol System Patrol Near the Mars Ship Yards

      The Chief sat down along with the other Spartans out of their combat armor inside the Leviathan's briefing room. The others were patiently wondering what their next assignment was, unlike the Chief. He was remembering every time he was on this ship. His memories were always disturbing; most of them seeing God only knows how many planets being glassed. It was a long wait before the power doors at the back of the wide room opened. Stepping through were four men in uniform. One was a short man with graying temples accompanied by another who was not much taller, but definitely younger looking. Another was cleanly shaved and wore the uniform of a marine officer. The last was in a completely different uniform to that of the UNSC. The words Defenders of the Homeland were stenciled above the top right pocket of his B.D.U.'s. The Chief didn't recognize the last two, but he knew the shorter man and quickly stood at attention.

      " Admiral on the deck! " he barked. The others rose in unison and waited for the Admiral to pass by. The Chief gave a salute when Stanforth stopped in front of him. He returned the Chief's salute and ordered them to take a seat. They sat down in unison and watched the pair go to the front of the room. They stopped by a massive holoprojector and activated it. There was a projection of what looked like a gas giant accompanied by a single moon.

      " Good to see you Spartans. Been too long since we last met. I have good news for all of you. Feel free to ask any questions during the briefing. Seems we managed to find some spare Mk III combat suits for you, but before we get to that I have some other news. " Stanforth's voice began to lower after this last sentence. He gestured to the hologram with a remote in his hand. He pushed a button and several strings of combat data flashed by. First what looked like on a ship, then down on the ground, and they continued flashing until he pushed another which zoomed it in on a massive ring shaped object.

      The Chief recognized every second of it and knew it as his own combat recording from a year ago. He still had nightmares from his experiences on Halo. The Covenant, Captain Keyes, the Autumn...the Flood. He quickly snapped out of it and listened to what Stanforth had to say.

      " Fourteen months ago a ship known as the Pillar of Autumn was stranded on this artificial ring world. " he began saying. " The ship was originally intended for capturing a Covenant vessel which would help bring this war to a close. Unfortunately it failed its mission. " A cinematic rolled showing Halo's demise. A flash of white light at one end that almost looked like a stellar diamond on the ring and then it split apart. " Instead it and its crew eliminated roughly three hundred Covenant vessels with the help of Master Chief Petty Officer Spartan John-117. " Another button was pushed and the hologram of the ring disappeared and went into standby mode. The Admiral began to stroll around.

      " After the ring was destroyed we automatically assumed that it was the only one and we abandoned the Spartans' last mission before Reach was lost to capture a Covenant vessel. Praying that we wouldn't have to. " He paused a moment and reactivated the hologram, but instead Cortana and a star chart appeared. " Fortunately we have defeated the Covenant in the Sol System except for in a few scattered cities on Earth's surface, which are being dealt with right now. Of course the cost of this victory we estimate are over four billion casualties system wide.

      " In addition we have captured a Covenant cruiser and have intercepted an encrypted message which Cortana will explain right now. " The Admiral nodded to the slender AI

      " This is mainly about that transmission I managed to intercept while we were on the surface. So try not to get bored. " A series of symbols began to plot out points on the star chart. " What it is, is a complex number of geometric figures that match with currently known constellations. All of which point to one specific point in space. It is in a star system some nine hundred light years away. I am confident that these are coordinates that the Covenant are going to head to. If we go by their beliefs then it is another Forerunner artifact. " Cortana said.

      Mischief entered her voice then. " Of course I didn't need to go based on the Covenant's assumption. Considering it was by a very similar transmission that I found Halo. " The Chief's hand shot up into the air. " Go ahead Master Chief. "

      " What do you mean by a very similar transmission? " he asked.

      " Back a little over a year ago a transmission was captured at Sigma Octanus IV. The transmission was unable to be deciphered by normal humans. That is because they were all going in the wrong direction. When fleeing Reach during its demise I remember reading the transmission and noticed it matched with the star charts when put together. I used the coordinates of the transmission to jump to Halo. Only problem was the Covenant decided to follow us right after they got done with Reach. Their problem now. Those that were foolish enough to follow were destroyed. " she replied. The Chief's hand retracted and he withheld comments for the time being.

      " We are going to jump to these new coordinates in six hours after the repairs are finished on the Leviathan. When we go we will be accompanied by the surviving six ships of the Leviathan's battle group the Gemini class cruiser the Odin commanded by Captain Darrell Mortensen. Volunteering to assist us is the Sol System Defense Militia Fleet's prized javelin destroyer, the Michigan commanded by Captain Gary Griffes. " All of the Spartans involuntarily gave confused looks. They never heard of a militia vessel being allowed to assist on something of this classification. It was understood that militia only got involved in their own system's affairs. Still it was one more ship on their side, even if it belonged to civilians. " General Kits will also be on this operation. He'll have command of all ground based operations. " Cortana waved away the star chart and looked directly at one of the Spartans. " Dale-119 you said that you explain to your squad leader that you would explain what was happened to you and the other Spartans. Please inform us how you intended to do this? "

      The petty officer stood up and firmly gave his answer. " Ma'am I intended to give the details by showing the combat records from between the fall of Reach and our escape. "

      " Very well. I'll access your CSV and play the highlights your combat recordings. " Cortana responded. The Spartan retook his seat and waited. They watched the AI " close " her eyes as green code ran horizontally along them. She disappeared and an over sized showing of what happened appeared where she once was.

      What was shown was a view from a pilot of a Pelican dropship. The Pelican swooped in from high above and penetrated the columns of black smoke that filled the air. On the radar thousands of contacts registered and they could be seen with ease.

      Covenant all many sorts were scattered across the battlefield below. Banshees, Wraiths, Spooks, and other pieces of armor made their way through the human line like a hot knife through butter. They say a flash of orange light in front of the dropship and watched as five Banshees went up in smoke. The screen looked as though it was falling and then it came to a slow stop.

* * *

      " GO! GO! GO! " Fred barked as he waved the twenty-four Spartans out of the Pelican's rear bay door. Spartan-119 was the last off. He grabbed his modified S2 AM from the pilot's seat and immediately engaged. Eight sabot rounds were fired and eight Grunts lost their heads. He reloaded and followed the other Spartans to a hold out point were a company of marines were desperately holding out.

      " Thank God it's you people! " a marine yelled. Fred went over and stopped by the marine and his particular squad.

      " What's the situation over here marine? " Fred asked. He damn well knew what it was, but he needed a confirmation from someone other than in his group. The marine fired the last of the ammo in his current magazine and slapped in a new one.

      " Thousands of 'em. We've managed to hold off the ground wave so far, but I've gotten reports that-" The marine stopped talking and fell dead. His charred corpse fell to the ground and smoked away as his armor plating melted through and met the other side. The Spartans continued their engagement. Every three minutes one of them was injured or killed. Warthogs went on suicide runs never to return and the screams of dying men were everywhere.

      " Damn it all to hell! " a marine lieutenant yelled. " FALL BACK! FALL BACK TO THE COMPOUND! " He yelled. The remaining bits of the company fired their weapons as they back stepped their way into the entrance of the fusion generator they were defending. The tall camouflaged building was scarred with large portions of armor plating melting away. Most were shot dead as the thousands of Covenant warriors advanced. Marines began to set up explosive charges to get the Covenant as they were coming. After they were set they entered the structure and fired from pre-established hold out points.

      " I'm sending a message to the Autumn! " Fred yelled taking cover as his shields recharged. His signal was bad and parts couldn't heard over the explosions happening all around them. " This is bad. Reactor complex seven has been compromised. We might be able to save number three. " He stopped and pointed to Kelly who was helping with the explosives. " Set off those charges now! " Twenty plumes of dirt, metal, flesh and bone were suddenly flung into the air. " Be advised Pillar of Autumn, groundside reactors are being taken. Orbital guns at risk. Nothing we can do. Too many. We will have to use the nukes. " Fred cut off the signal and began firing next to Dale. Thirty plasma rifles opened fire suddenly and killed the two Spartans next to him.

      He looked at them for a spilt second and grabbed Peter-098 and dragged his wounded body along with him. All the while firing the sniper rifle as though it were but a pistol. Peter fired when he could and was dragged out of there.

      " Shut the blast doors! " he yelled into the radio. A faint screeching noise could be heard and the complex slowly became darker until a dozen over sized lights from above snapped on illuminating the entire area. Most of the Covenant had been cut off from the complex, but too many had gotten through. Three Banshees had entered along with nearly a hundred other troops ranging from Grunts to Elites. Dale stopped and looked down at Peter.

      " Can you get up? " he asked reloading his weapon. Peter forced himself upward with his thoughts.

      " I'll move the suit with my mind. Even though my leg is broke I think I can make it. " Peter replied. It would be a hard move, but he was a Spartan and therefore would not give up. Dale felt a hand on his shoulder and slid back around what was behind him to see it was one of his fellow survivors.

      " We're all that's left! Now let's fall back with the others! There's safety further inside the complex. We need to make it to the tunnels to CASTLE. We might be able to survive in there! COME ON! " The Spartan said firing the last of his MA5B's ammunition. The three of them backed away and ran as fast as they could avoiding incoming plasma fire as they went.

      The ground was suddenly jolted and a large explosion was heard as they made it to the reactor's sub levels. A wave of heat penetrated clear down to this level and went away as fast as it came.

      " Must of been the nukes. " Peter said.

      " Yeah, let's just keep moving. We're almost there. " Joshua-137 replied grabbing a dead marine's rifle and ammo. They kept moving for several minutes going past the dead and dying. The numbers of survivors were getting better the further they went down. Eventually they came to a stop when several thuds could be heard from above.

      " What is going on up there? Are they setting off more nukes? " Dale asked. A marine was nearby and his face was full of horror and blood.

      " I didn't sign up to die like this. " He said. The marine then sighed and looked down to the ground. A moment had passed and the man completely broke down. The surviving Spartans watched the marine and looked between him and the way they came to make sure no stragglers were right on top of them. The explosions from above did not cease. Reach was being glassed and everyone underground knew it. Their hope for survival and rescue was nearly zero.

* * *

      Cortana had fast-forwarded through more of the footage until the date read November 12, 2553. What was seen before them had changed from inside a structure to black space. The sky was filled with distant stars. A ship could be seen off in the distance as well. A much smaller ship appeared and came in towards the camera.

      " This is shuttle pod three. We read you Spartan. Glad at to hear from ya. " A voice said through the radio. The shuttle had come in and did not give off the standard flame of re-entry. There was no atmosphere to re-enter. The pod flew down and stopped in an impact crater on the surface. The back end opened up and a man in a form fitting space suit waved the Spartan over. The camera moved towards the pod and turned to see four dozen others in space suits come out towards the shuttle. Another dozen came and carried four objects that looked like under sized torpedo casings. On the top of them the banner of the UNSC was painted on them.

      The camera had a hand move in front of it as the Spartan gave a salute to the casings as they were carried on board. Three more shuttle pods descended to Reach's surface and gathered the rest of the survivors. The pods lifted off the ashen rock and left it.

      " Good thing we found you people before we headed back to space dock. If we hadn't of come here on patrol we never would have heard your distress call from way down there. " The pilot of the shuttle pod said. No reply was given from anyone. The shuttle pods began to dock with the ship above and painted in bold white letters along the destroyer's lower port side was the word Deliverer. The file ended and the hologram shut down after they had docked with the ship.

      The Master Chief looked over to his comrade and took a good look of the expression on his face. His emotions may of well have been chiseled in stone for there were none expressed. A long minute had passed before anyone spoke another word.

      " That explains three of you, now what about the rest? " Cortana asked. Kirika-013 rose her hand.

      " I'll give you the abridged version. " the short, black haired, female Spartan said. Cortana and the others allowed her to continue on without interruption. She stood up and turned to the squad looking onto them with her red-brown eyes.

      " At the same time Reach came under attack three of us, petty officers Lucas-015, Mirelle-056, and I were in the Acamar system. We successfully performed our mission there, but were force to retreat to the Sanctuary when things in orbit went sour. " She said starting out. " When we got on board we immediately came under attack once again. The ship was nearly destroyed, save life support and communications. About thirty of us hid inside the center section of the ship with enough rations to last us a while. We sent out a distress call and were picked up a two weeks ago on the Deliverer.

      " The crew informed us of the Reach disaster and we requested to see the planet ourselves. Our request was granted and we picked up the other survivors from the battle. Immediately following we headed for the Mars Space dock and arrived here in time to help out MCPO Spartan-117. That's how we made it out ma'am. "

      The Spartan sat down and an unusual noise echoed in the briefing room. It was a slow and steady clap from the Captain Griffes. The Chief looked at him quixotically and then at Captain Mortensen as he joined in. They ceased slowly after seeing the Chief's puzzled look.

      " Good job Spartans. Now let's see if you can it for us again. " Stanforth said. " Stand while receiving official orders. " The Spartans stood at attention in unison. " You are to report to the Odin on the next shuttle pod out with Captain Mortensen and receive your Mk III MJOLNIR armor. Chief the repairs on your suit have been made and it has been placed on the Odin. " The Admiral continued with, " Following this you are to familiarize yourself with the civilian weapons and the newly issued firearms of the UNSC in the Odin's test range. After this make any requests for the upcoming mission and they will be granted. You are dismissed. " The Chief snapped a salute for the squad. Stanforth returned it and the Spartans exited the briefing room single file.

      When they had left, Griffes turned his attention from the Spartans to Stanforth, as did Mortensen and Kits. The Admiral took a look at both of them and activated a video sequence. Life size holograms of the known Covenant ground units flashed through every ten seconds going in the known order of rank. It ended with an accelerated tour of Halo before it restarted and went through the process all over again. He watched the hologram and spoke.

      " Tell me gentlemen how many times how you actually seen a Covenant up close and personnel? Once? Twice perhaps? " Stanforth asked. " Or maybe you never have. "

      " I've been involved in three separate engagements groundside. " Griffes said. Stanforth nodded his head with approval.

      "Can't count that high Admiral." Kits said half chuckling.

      " Once sir. " Mortensen replied. " When my ship was nearly taken over by them. Why do you ask? "

      " Because I need to know if you can take them on and break down. I need you as my sub-commanders both space and ground to be strong in the weeks ahead of us. " Stanforth said. He paused letting out a sigh. " We may have defeated most of the Covenant here today and that is good enough for me. But we can not afford to lose any more battles from here on out. Not since we've been attacked in our home system. On top of that we can only pray that the Covenant don't know how close they were to ripping the human race apart. If the odds were slightly tipped, we would be so much floating junk out there. "

      They watched the Admiral as he watched the recording intently. " We won't fail. " Griffes said. " My men will defeat the Covenant alongside yours. It is also our duty to fight them. We can't afford to lose, just as you said. " Stanforth allowed himself a small smile and left for his bridge.