Dust and Echoes [H&R 4]
Posted By: Jillybean<email@example.com>
Date: 14 September 2003, 10:58 PM
Halo's And Rings
AN: If you want more frequent updates - blah blah - go to www.fanfiction.net where the entire story is hosted as I write it.
Dust and Echoes
Daxia awoke on a bunk, facing the wall. Initially her mind didn't register this and all that raced through her head was the endless clicking and clacking of the Flood. They were coming closer - louder and louder-
She cried out and fell from the bunk, her sudden movement caused the lighting to come on, lighting every corner of the cramped sleeping quarters. The noise of the spore receded as she saw where she was.
"Are you okay?" The MC hovered at the door, half hiding behind the bulkhead. Daxia ran a hand through her hair, snagging where it was matted with blood and sweat. She swallowed, trying not to cry.
"I need a shower." She sniffed, looking up at him.
"There's one on board." The MC replied, he looked a little uncomfortable and made the short journey through to the cockpit. Daxia pulled herself together, standing and crossing the corridor to the tiny little bathroom on board. She switched on the Resonance Shower and stripped her jump suit off.
The Resonance Shower thudded against her skin, lots of little sound waves beating the dirt and grime off her. The constant throbbing of the engines under her feet was like a lullaby.
After a long time she knew she couldn't waste the power anymore. With a sigh she slapped the shower off, running a hand through her short cropped blonde hair and delighting in the fact she could. The MC had left a clean jump-suit at the door, which she changed into, gratefully. She cleaned her boots in the shower and but them back on, glancing in the small mirror. She looked human and that was enough for her.
"Hey." John said as she entered the cockpit. He had a long scar running up the back of his head, visible only as a bald line in his short hair. She nodded and sat in the co-pilots chair, checking a few things about their course and settings.
"Mechs." John said, but not without affection. He leaned back in his chair, scrutinizing the stars outside. "We got a long way to go and the Longswords aren't built with cryo-stasis.
"I guess a few recuperative days aren't going to kill me." Daxia replied, shifting a little, feeling her ribs ache. She sneaked a glance at the chief out of the corner of her eye, he was watching her doubtfully, as if he thought she was going to break at any moment.
"John?" She asked.
"I'm okay." She promised, smiling at him. "Really." She stood, but didn't dare stretch and crack another rib. "Where's your armour, you said you wanted me to have a look at it."
"It's in the left compartment." Cortana replied for the Chief, who was at loathe to put Daxia to work.
"Are you sure you wanna -" He began, she glanced at him.
"I'm not an invalid." She snapped, taking the armour out and setting it on the deck before her. "Why don't you catch up on some sleep?"
John watched for a while as Daxia started on the armour, she ran the usual pre-system checks, but while they were running she inspected the armour, noting each dent and patch and inspecting the wiring for anything physical. By the time pre-system check had come up with all the flaws it could find, Daxia already knew where most of them were.
John yawned, standing and heading for the bunks. He took the top one, lying down and closing his eyes, but he didn't sleep. Instead he regulated his breathing, cleared his mind, delved deep into a centre of calm inside his mind. Finally, when he was so closed to the world he could have been dead, he drifted into a dreamless sleep.
Daxia worked easily, allowing herself to be lost in wires and systems. By the time she was finished the suit was as good as she could make it. She looked up at the stars and sighed.
"Something wrong?" Cortana asked. Daxia smiled a little.
"No - yes. Oh I don't know." Daxia sighed, her smile becoming wry. "Sometimes it hits me - we're all that's left. We'll never Mendoza or Stacker or . . ." She trailed off. "It hits me and I can't take it any more."
"We did what we had to do." Cortana said firmly. "We saved hundreds of life by destroying the Covenant armada and the Flood. Imagine what would have happened if the Flood had been allowed to get off of Halo?"
"No." Daxia said softly. "I don't want to imagine that Cortana." They were silent, but Daxia could still hear the vindication of Cortana.
So for the next few weeks Daxia slept, ate rations and toyed around with the chief's armour. In the same manner the chief trained, ate rations and ran battle simulations with Cortana. Thought processes weren't too good for either of them, nor was the loneliness.
Daxia's secret was that she never let there be silence. She played music from Cortana's files or she talked nonsense. Anything but the silence, because she heard the clicking of Flood Spores growing in the distance.
Noise was good. Noise made sure she wasn't alone.
"We're nearly at Earth." Cortana said, breathless with excitement. The MC gave Daxia a reassuring look as she helped fit the last piece of his armour on.
"Home at last." He said, Daxia nodded and stepped away from the chief, sitting down in the co-pilots seat.
"Cortana, how long?" The chief asked, sitting down. Cortana hesitated.
"Uh - guys?" She asked. "We might have a problem."
Daxia looked out of the window, seeing the battle scarred face of earth and she wanted to cry.
"Let's just turn around and leave." She murmured. The chief didn't reply.
"Let's see what the our troops are talking about." Cortana said, tapping into their controls. The MC slammed his helmet on, jamming it tight.
Pilot: "Sir! They just folded in--inside our formation!"
Admiral: "Son, I need you to calm down."
Pilot: "...look, additional contacts - moving to engage [static]"
Admiral: "[static] ...and get your picket back to rally point Alpha."
General: "Admiral, you can't let them maintain orbit."
Admiral: "I'm trying, general, but we've lost advantage within the lunar perimeter."
Admiral: "My frigates are combat ineffective, and the fighters... they don't have enough punch to take out a Covenant assault carrier."
General: "Your pilots let up, and down here its the goddamned apocalypse!"
The MC handed Daxia a space suit. She didn't question his decision, but quickly got in.
General: "I'm asking you to retarget the orbitals!"
Admiral: "And let more of them slip the kill zone? That's insanity!"
Admiral: "There's nothing more I can do!"
Pilot: "The core defence is too intense. Our grid is maxed, I don't think we can last another run!"
Cortana decided it was time to intervene. The Chief was marching through the spine of the Longsword, Daxia following. He took a gun from the rack and Daxia sighed deeply. Cortana opened a channel.
"Admiral, tell your men to hold their positions. Reinforcements are on the spoke."
Admiral: "The entire fleet is engaged, Cortana. With respect, what the hell sort of reinforcement have you got?"
Tech: "It's passing below your position ma'am. proximity zero ."
The chief grabbed a magnetic line, hooking it between himself and Daxia. The mech gave him a very evil look through her helmet.
"Need I remind you that I'm only human?" She asked as he started to pull the emergency release.
"Could have fooled me." He replied. "Get behind me."
"What if you miss?" Cortana asked curiously. The Chief pulled the emergency release and the docking bay doors slid open. The pull of the stratosphere on Daxia, even crushed behind the MC as she was, was enough to make her gasp.
"I won't." The MC replied and he flung all three of them out into space.
Mendoza had once told her that she hadn't lived until she'd stratosphere dived. She'd told him that any past time that had a 40% survival rate was not her idea of a good time. And that was when you were landing on a specially prepared ship - not a Covenant assault carrier.
Still she had to admit, watching the earth hurtling towards her was somewhat fascinating, if not downright scary. And the assault carrier - it looked too far away. It was never going to pass beneath them in time.
The MC knew exactly what to do, he manoeuvred himself to land first, feet scraping along the carrier. Daxia would have continued out into space if not for the grav line - as it was she jerked to a stop, grabbing at the smooth metal of the carrier.
"Do you know what the odds of that jump were?" Cortana said speculatively.
"If you tell me I will scramble your code up so much you won't be processing anything." Daxia grunted, pulling herself along the grav line to stand with the MC. Her grav boots held firm to the carrier.
"You're a programmer too?" Cortana asked in surprise.
"You'd be amazed the things a single faulty wire in a MJOLNIR suit could do."
"Ladies." The MC said calmly, pointing to the ship beneath them. "We have work to do."
They broke in to the ship, entering the familiar purple corridors. Daxia wished to God she wasn't here.
"Okay." If Cortana had hands Daxia was sure she'd be rubbing them together. "Let's get down to business. I think a core overload would be fun, don't you?"
"Why mess with a winning formula." Daxia muttered, the MC patted her shoulder, detaching the grav line.
"That's the spirit."
The Covenant did not expect them, some of the Grunts were even sleeping. Cortana led them firstly to the hangar bays, which the MC secured. Daxia picked up a plasma rifle, tossing it between her hands.
"Do you see that?" She asked, nodding towards what looked like a big souped up Banshee. The chief looked at it.
"Could you fly it?" He asked. She turned her helmeted head towards him.
"Do I look stupid? Of course I can fly it."
"Look out! Incoming!" Cortana called.
Daxia dropped and rolled, coming up underneath the souped up Banshee. She aimed her plasma rifle at the Elite's coming at them and fired. The MC ran straight at them, punching one and shooting another at close range. His shielding glowed as he was attacked, but he made short work of them.
"Dax! Come on!" He called, waiting for her as they ran for the engineering room.
The MC shoved her unceremoniously to a control panel the second they entered the Covenant's version of an engineering room. He then proceeded to shoot anything and everything that moved, keeping her alive long enough to do the job. By now the Covenant were on to them but in a sort of hazy way.
They don't know about Halo. That's not who these guys are. We're new to them. She realized, working feverishly as she tried to interpret and arm at the same time. Cortana was helping as best she could by calling up relevant files, but even she was struggling with a completely foreign system.
"Ah - chief?" Daxia said, her eyes catching sight of a purple bar that was fluctuating when she pressed a certain button. "When I say so - shoot that big green tower thing."
"Is that a good idea?" Cortana demanded, freaking out a little as Daxia slammed the button.
"Do it!" She cried. The chief fired into the tower and the ship shook violently.
"This is Cortana to all human task forces in the area - please evacuate area as soon as possible, thank you." Cortana said as the chief and Daxia belted down corridors, ignoring the panicked Flood.
"Minutes left minutes left minutes left!" Daxia chanted as they broke into the hangar bay once more. She made a dive for the souped up Banshee and took out the Grunt on guard duty with a quick blast from her laser pistol.
"Let's go!" Cortana cried as they powered up. They soared from the attack cruiser and Daxia cut all engines.
"What are you doing?" The MC asked as they started to plummet thousands of feet per second. The cockpit started to heat up. Behind them the carrier exploded, causing a chain reaction in any nearby plasma engines. That were on.
They crashed into the pacific ocean with an almighty slap. Daxia thought it was probably the best belly-flop ever. She deserved a medal. As the souped up Banshee floated to the surface again the Chief opened the cockpit. He climbed onto the roof of the ship, pulling Daxia up too. She took off her helmet to watch the explosion debris from the Covenant ships above, and possibly some of the human ships too, fall around them.
"They'll burn up on re-entry." Cortana said. "And here come the cavalry."
"A pelican." Daxia mused, grinning at the Chief. "Didn't think I'd see one of those again." They watched the ugly ship skim the water towards them and raised their hands to show they were peaceful.
"Put your hands on your head!" Shouted a marine, aiming her rifle at them. "Don't move!" She roared as they begun to do so.
"We're friendlies." The Chief assured the marines who were proceeding to cuff their arms in front of them.
"You'll wait till debrief Spartan." The marine snapped at him. She looked at Daxia. "And you - whatever you are. You'll wait too."