Galaxy 07 - Part 8 - Family
Posted By: Jillybean<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 12 January 2004, 4:28 PM
"Did anyone else make it?"
"Just . . . dust and echoes. We're the only ones left."
While Cortana stammered excuses, John stood and walked to the window of the Longsword. He touched the glass and felt it's cold surface under his fingers. In the void of space, he saw the Flood wrecked body of Daxia sail past.
"Hey!" John leapt to his feet, his hand gripped the pudgy arm of Wallace. The little boy blinked helplessly, then started to cry.
He released the child and took a look around. He was in the tiniest room of Aislinn's home. He brushed the curtain parting aside and found himself in the living area.
"Hi!" Cortana, the little girl, was sitting at the table, nibbling on an apple. "Aunty Dax said she wouldn't be gone long. She's going to see . . . Ish Manntee . . ." Cortana thought hard about the name as she said it. "Mama's sleeping and not well still, because of the new baby. Claire went to register the baby and Mary had to go home so you're looking after us."
John said nothing.
Cortana scrambled down from her chair and took Wallace's hand. "Don't cry, Wallace," she nattered on. "Mama's sleeping and you can't wake her up."
After their little coup Daxia had done enough to ensure that she ran the Halo before she had fled to her sister's side. To find Aislinn is such a bad condition had been a shock to her, causing them to stay longer than they had intended. John must have slept, again.
He had left his armour in the Control Room under Cortana, the AI's, protection. Now in the standard UNSC uniform filched from supplies on the Halo, he felt naked.
"Is something wrong?" Cortana asked. "You look kinda . . . angry."
"I'm fine," he said to her. "Did Daxia say when she'd be back?"
"Soon enough," Mary bustled in the front door with a basket of food. "She went back to your ship, she's seeing about medical treatment for Aislinn." Mary blew a strand of hair off her face and took stock of the situation. "I'm looking after the kids for now. You can go back, John, thanks for your help."
"Good morning, sir."
John nodded to the young lieutenant on duty and went for the medical bays. After securing a transport to the Mordred - easier said than done - he had run into Ishe' Manatee. The Covenant informed him that Daxia was there.
"Is everything okay?" he asked when he entered.
Daxia turned, smiling. "Fine. Can you do me a huge favour?"
"What?" John asked, wary. Hospitals were not Daxia's favourite place, seeing her smiling in one was putting him on guard. "Can you go and bring Aislinn here? I'm going to be down on Halo today - Cortana and I are trying to sort out the infrastructure . . . what's left of it." She stood on tip toes to kiss him on the cheek and left, humming under her breath.
"Something wrong, sir?" the doctor asked, a smile playing on her lips.
"Cortana says you have to report in for a check up soon," the doctor added as he left. John pretended he didn't hear it.
"Mrs Jenkins?" Dr Janson leaned forward and gave Aislinn a gentle shake. "Mrs Jenkins, are you awake?"
Aislinn blinked and frowned at the doctor. "Who are you?"
"Aislinn." John stepped into her line of vision. "How are you feeling?"
Aislinn vaguely remembered being taken to a spaceship to be treated, but it was as if it had been a dream. She stared at John, unable to comprehend that it was actually him. "I feel good," she managed. "Better than I've been for a long time, actually."
"Yes," the doctor made a note and moved on. "We're going to see everyone on the Halo - you all need a check up and John, that reminds me, you still haven't visited."
"Soon," John promised. He helped Aislinn sit up and smiled at her. "It's been a while."
Aislinn hugged him. "It's been forever."
"When it became clear to us that we were the only humans left, the Governors took over." Aislinn and John were walking through the ship and Aislinn was explaining things from her point of view. "It went out of control." She paused at a window and looked down at the Halo. "We lost so much."
"You seem to have survived," John said. "Daxia missed you."
"Ah, you know her," Aislinn dismissed it. "UNSC first. Everyone else second. And loved ones third." But she looked touched by the sentiment none the less.
"Sir?" one of Elites approached. Aislinn didn't appear bothered. "Commander Ring is requesting your presence on the Halo."
"Tell her I'll be there immediately," John replied. He glanced at Aislinn. "You didn't seem bothered by that."
"I figure - if you'll talk to them - they're not all bad." She smiled. "I trust you."
They reached the docking bay and were met by Ishe' Manatee. He bowed his head to Aislinn, finally shaking her composure a little.
"It is good to meet you at last."
"Thanks . . . I think," Aislinn said. She glanced at John and he shrugged.
"What are you doing here, Manatee?"
"Daxia requested my attendance on the surface. She say people need to know the Covenant are not the enemy." Ishe' Manatee looked down at Aislinn and seemed to smile. "She says you and I will find much to talk about."
"Does she now?" Aislinn smiled tightly and took John's hand as they entered the little pod. "Will this thing hold?" she looked around it's flimsy walls.
"It's been a while since you've been in space," John grinned at her.
"About eight years," Aislinn agreed.
Approaching the Halo from space was a sight that would stay with you forever. Aislinn felt tears in her eyes not that saw this again.
"I'm gonna show this to Cortana," she whispered.
John glanced at her from his station. "Did you know she was Halsey's daughter?"
"No." Aislinn bit her lip. "You're not supposed to tell me. In fact - there's not supposed to even be a record of it."
"It's clear to see," John replied. "If you know what you're looking for."
"Kind of ironic actually." Aislinn stood to get a better view of the Halo.
"I hope all of the Haloers get used to Covenant so well," Manatee said, amused as he had to move out of Aislinn's way.
Aislinn laughed. "They will. But I'm kinda nosey, sorry about pushing you out the way."
Daxia and Aislinn embraced in the draughty corridor leading to the control room. The beggars who still congregated there looked wary. They screamed when Ishe' Manatee stepped out from the shuttlecraft.
"Please," Daxia snapped at them. The disdain in her voice quietened some of them, but did nothing to quench the wails of others. Daxia ignored them and turned back to her sister. "You came just in time."
"In time for what?" John asked.
Aislinn smirked. "What have you been planning?" she asked in suspicion.
"I've already planned it."
Daxia walked forward, out onto the flat top of the pyramid. Aislinn and John followed curiously, Ishe' Manatee on their tail.
"Holy . . ." Aislinn began. John could appreciate the sentiment. Below them stood what had to be every body on Halo. They were a huge crowd, filling the entire base of the great, snow filled valley.
"Daxia, we're miked up and ready to go," whispered one of the Mordred's crew.
Daxia nodded and stepped forward.
There was a huge cheer. Aislinn smirked and leaned closer to John. "She is such a show off."
"That might be what we need right now," John replied.
"The rumours are true," Daxia continued. "The UNSC is back in control of Halo. Halo is now the base of all UNSC operations!"
Her words were drowned out by furious stamping and cheering. The huge tear in the surface of the earth shook.
"The Elders will rule you no more! They have worked you to the ground! Sent away the miners! Sent them to their deaths!"
The miners, recently recalled from their gas planets, roared separately.
"The Elders are responsible for the loss of all your AIs! No more!"
They cheered again, louder, if it was possible.
"This is UNSC territory, my friends! And I am a Commander in the UNSC navy!" Daxia paused for breath. "And I bring you . . . Cortana . . ."
John watched, smiling a little, as a towering Cortana flickered into life above the crowd. Cortana began her speech, outlining the plans for the future. In the mean time, Daxia stepped down and grinned at Aislinn.
"Want to be part of the new government?"
"I thought you said I'd never do anything with my life?" Aislinn had her hands on her hips.
Daxia shook her head. "I can give the job to someone else . . ." she began.
"No," Aislinn laughed, arm around Daxia's shoulders. "You know I'd love to."
"Oh, here's the killer line." Daxia nodded to Ishe' Manatee and he stepped forward, into full view of the crowd. They hushed.
"The UNSC has won the war of the Covenant - by making them our allies," Cortana said, fist clenched. The crowd was still unresponsive.
"May I try?" Aislinn whispered.
"Just step there and the mics will pick you up," Daxia said.
"Is this a good idea?" John asked.
"She is the only person on this ring that didn't submit to those bastards," Daxia began. "But she's also my annoying little sister."
"You're right. I can only think of one person who can make a more persuasive argument . . ."
"Haloers . . ." Aislinn stood before them. "You know that I have opposed the Elders."
There was a murmur from the crowd. They knew.
"But you know that I have children on this ring. You know how important they are to me. To us all." Aislinn turned to Ishe' Manatee then took one of his long claws and raised it in the air. "And you know! I would never do anything to harm them."
And the crowd cheered.
"There," Daxia said. "Told you."
"Yeah. You told me," John agreed.
"You've not gone for your medical yet, have you?" Daxia asked, not looking at him, still smiling at her sister.
"Please do." Daxia walked away, going to greet her sister and Manatee. "You two are quite a team. You should be on the government together . . ."
"So what does this do?" Cortana blinked as the doctor on the Mordred pricked her finger with a tiny needle.
"It scans your blood for infections," the doctor replied, amused at the little girl's endless questions.
"And then what?"
"Well, if I find any I'll treat them and if I don't then I can send you back onto the Halo where you can go bother someone else," the doctor said, not unkindly.
"Oh look!" Cortana bounced in her seat as John walked into the medical bay. "John! John!" She waved frantically and beamed when he nodded in her direction. Another doctor intercepted him, however, and he moved away.
"You really shouldn't do that," the doctor who was treating Cortana said.
"He's a war hero, darling. And he's a Spartan. You never know with that lot." The doctor straightened and smiled. "Well you get a clean bill of health. Go straight back to the transport, okay? I've got a lot of other people to see." With this, the doctor moved on to her next patient.
Cortana had been given into a lot of trouble for going with the marines in the Pelican, but John was her uncle and surely he wouldn't mind if she went and said hello ...
She crept into the office where she had seen John go. Being so small was good, she could hide behind the desk. Not that she was hiding because she wasn't to be there . . . just that she thought she'd better wait until the doctor went away.
"I'm glad you're here, John. The Commander and Cortana have been on my back to have you checked out."
"Did you tell them?"
"John. I am first and foremost a doctor. I will not reveal any information until my patient gives me leave to. But I'm not sure that you're even a patient!"
"You haven't told them. Good. I'm hoping you'll find a cure before either of them have to worry."
"John I don't think I'll ever find a cure. You are degrading. And I don't think it's all Cortana's doing either. Some of your implants are . . . well they're not standing up to the test of time. I've looked over all the old Spartan notes that Cortana gave me but I just don't have the talent or the experience to help. I'm sorry, John, I really am."
"Can I trust you to keep my confidentiality?"
"John you can't ask me to do this. Technically you're not really a person you're UNSC property . . ."
"The highest ranking member of the UNSC is my partner, doctor."
"Which is another reason why I think you ought to tell her. Please don't make me put my job and my morals on the line for you, because I don't know how long I can do it."
"I'm not asking much."
"You're asking for my career on a plate. It's a lot to me."
Cortana thought she'd better get to the transport now.