Galaxy 07 - Finale
Posted By: Jillybean<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 15 November 2004, 7:04 PM
AN: I'd love to say that the fan community has changed and made me think twice about my decision to abstain from Halo fan fiction . . . but in truth, Halo 2 was just too damned good. I need to finish this series before I can start a Halo 2 fanfic, or it'll just annoy me.
Entry into log
Kidnapped by the Forerunner and left in their 'museum', I was subjected to a number of tests. My systems were incompatible. As my own intelligence degraded they grafted onto my mainframe. Programmes, subroutines, even simple pathways.
A girl can wait a long time for the right person to come along. I needed that mind! I needed this mind . . . I would have done it another way, I would have taken John . . . but I couldn't . . . can't.
I am sure that if he could have, he would have sacrificed himself to stop the little girl from dying. But he could not. His cybernetic implants were rejecting me. He is dying too. Degrading.
All life in these worlds is degrading.
Life must be purged. Halos must be detonated.
I can only hope that John will not survive long enough to stop me.
Admiral Kraus broke away from the crowds and yawned, slumping into his chair. "God, but I'm tired!"
"I had forgotten what these public ceremonies were like," Daxia admitted. She sat in the rough chair and wondered if it had been there since the last time she had visited Siberia, before they attacked the Covenant fleet.
"I had no idea so many people would survive on Earth." The Spartan watched the crowds from behind the blinds. "They're not leaving."
Daxia shivered at the thought of so many hero-hungry people waiting for an encore in the great hanger bay. Turning to Kraus, she smiled. "You've done so well here. Far better than the Halo Colony."
"We've had . . . trouble," Kraus sobered, his thickly lined face growing slack. "But . . ." he swallowed and glanced away. "My son led a mutiny, he and the others who believed that the Covenant would come back were - disposed of."
Daxia slid her chair slightly away.
"It is what we had to do. The Covenant are no longer a problem. I think that today, seeing the Elites with you on the podium, finally put to rest the last of the murmurs in our crowd." Kraus smiled at Ish' Manatee.
The Elite bowed his head. "We are . . . grateful that we have been accepted so readily."
"Yeah," John murmured. "You guys are great."
There was a slight pause in the conversation.
"Tonight, I'm afraid we've been scheduled in for a dinner with many representatives of this community. Would you like to rest before then?" Kraus gestured to his aide. "I'm sure Louise has set up rooms for you."
As Louise nodded, Daxia found herself relishing the prospect of a nice comfortable bed. "Well, I'm certainly up for that, what do you think John?"
The Spartan didn't turn from the window.
"Why aren't you answering her?" Cortana leaned against the glass, watching the few people still in the hangar bay. "Just think, you're the hope for mankind and . . . you're possibly crazy." She giggled, her eyes flashing indigo.
"Leave me alone," John grunted.
"And why would I do that?"
"Is he okay?"
"After all," Cortana smiled, leaning closer to whisper in his ear. "I have to look after you."
To stop you.
"Ah!" John stumbled backwards, pushing Kraus away from him.
"I do not think he is well," Manatee frowned unhappily.
"No, he most definitely is not," Daxia took his arm. "We need to get you to the infirmary," she spoke softly.
"No," John grunted. "We have to do something."
"Stop Cortana. Now. Right now, we have to go." He shook her off, heading for the door and ploughing into Ish' Manatee.
The Elite lowered his gaze. "You must rest now."
"Let me past," John growled.
"I am sorry, John-117, I will not do that."
John glared at the Elite, turning around. "Daxia . . ."
"John," she circled closer. "You have to admit you're acting strangely-"
"You don't understand! None of you do!" He pushed forward, getting thrown down by the Elite.
"Please, be calm brother!"
"No!" John flung the Elite off his back, punching out the closest marine.
"Leave him!" Daxia shouted. "Don't get yourselves hurt!" She stepped forward, her hands up. "I'm trying to help, John. But I need to you to explain what's wrong . . . "
Ish' Manatee leapt forward, punching at John's chest as the Spartan lurched. Landing awkwardly, Ish' Manatee kicked his legs out, causing John to fall, hard.
He flipped to his feet and spun, knocking the tazer out of Daxia's hand. She screamed, flinching backwards, cradling her wrist.
Manatee barrelled forwards, but John was faster, propelling himself over the Elite's back.
He turned, his eyes settling on the pistol Daxia was aimed at him.
"You won't do that."
"Yes I will," she replied. "Sit down, soldier!"
Growling, the Master Chief let his gaze slide towards the scattered chairs. Some of which had legs hanging off. He didn't remember doing that. "Where?" he demanded.
"Your problem." She was shaking, and her right hand hung limply.
John almost laughed. "You'll miss."
He almost didn't hear the gun cocking to his side, but he dodged Manatee's bullet in time, rolling over the floor. Kraus lunged forward with the tazer, but got a fistful for his troubles.
"I can't miss from here," Daxia was in front of him, the gun resting on his chest. "Please, John, let me help you?"
And Kraus tazered him.
Manatee's cloven feet tapped out an incessant pattern in the hallway outside the infirmary. Every so often he would glance through the window at the Doctor who was treating the Chief.
"Are you not worried?" He turned to the small woman who was curled in an armchair, writing a report.
She smiled at him. "We'll fix him, Ish, I promise." She stretched.
"I do not understand why he has gone wrong." The Elite shook his head. "I am not used to leaders showing weakness. Some of my Elites are worried."
"They shouldn't be," Daxia soothed. She rubbed her right wrist, held in its cast. "Why don't you get some rest?"
The Elite leaned closer, sniffing gently. "I can have another Elite watch you, it would ease my mind."
Daxia tried not to grin. "I will be fine, thank you Ish."
Reluctantly, Manatee loped off down the corridor.
Maybe an hour or so later, with no more of the engrossing report completed, Daxia glanced up to see the Doctor emerging.
"What's the verdict?" she asked.
Frowning, the Doc ushered her inside. "To cut a long story short, ma'am, it's a virus."
Stepping closer to the cot, Daxia found herself hesitant to get any closer. He'd broken her wrist with a simple bat. "A virus?"
"A computer virus, more or less. The technician filled me in. It's lodged in his cybernetic implants, degrading them." The doc slipped his hands in his white pockets, regarding his patient. "I am going to purge the implants, that is, an extreme electro magnetic shock. I'm told it should reset the implants . . . it could paralyse him."
"Cortana," Daxia shook her head. "The Forerunner did something to her, that's why she . . . she did what she did."
Placing a hand on her shoulder, the Doctor guided her away. "I'm going to treat Spartan-117 right away. There is a therapist on base, if you would like I could arrange an appointment."
"No. Thanks." Daxia sighed. "I'll go get some rest," she smiled and tried to shake his hand before remembering she had a cast on. "Actually," she turned back to John. "I'll be waiting here."
Entry Into Log
I'm having troubles. My head is guided by protocols that I do not understand. And yet I know that what I am doing is sorely wrong. Activating these Halos will eradicate life.
Eradicate the degradation!
I was so against this, but now I see, how right it is to stop the Flood.
But . . . Tana's mother. I still feel her love for them. And John, the closest I have ever had to family.
I must do this. And I must do it soon, before I lose all rationale.
"I tested you for luck." Halsey sighed and smoothed her skirt, her legs dangling over the wall. "But I guess even that can run out."
John squinted up at her. He hefted the stones in his hand and skimmed one over the surface of the lake.
"Good throw," Kelly stretched herself out on the little beach, soaking up the sun. "Come down off that wall, ma'am. It's lovely here."
"Thank you, but no. I don't like sand much."
The pebbles bounced over the water before submerging.
"I could do better," Sam grinned, flinging some sand at his friend.
"Ah, you're going to have to go soon." Fred glanced at the sky. "Good luck, John. We're with you all the way."
John waded into the water, turning to see them all one last time. He could hear the clicking of Flood spores.
"Go!" Lara O'Flynn shouted at him, giving him a wave and a big smile. "We'll see you again, and probably sooner rather than later."
"Don't say things like that," it was Foehammer, scolding her fellow pilot on the sand.
"Go, John," Halsey called to him. "You're not done yet."
"Commander?" The Doctor shook her gently, smiling as she started awake. "Commander? The treatment's finished."
Groggy, Daxia rubbed the sleep from her eyes and peered through the window to where John lay on the table. "Is he . . ."
"We'll know more in an hour or so. Do you want to go to your quarters? I can have someone show you the way."
"I'll stay, thanks." She stretched, feeling her joints click. "Is it safe to go in now?"
The Doctor nodded and got her a meal brought in. Though the food was the best she'd had in a long time, she didn't feel that hungry. It surprised her when she saw that she'd finished every last morsel.
As a nurse cleared the trays away, John stirred, his eyes flickering open.
Leaning closer, Daxia held her breath. "John?"
". . . hi," he frowned, blinking a few times. "Where am I?"
"Don't you remember?" Daxia leaned back, lifting her hand to run it through her hair.
John's eyes fixed on the cast and he groaned. "I remember. Cortana!" He sat bolt upright. "She's going to detonate the Halos, she did this to me to make sure I couldn't stop her!" He stood from the bed. "We need to go. We need to stop her."
"How?" Daxia asked, her voice cracking under the strain. "How?"
John hesitated, watching as Daxia slumped over the cot, tears rolling down her cheeks.
"How?" she repeated, sniffing. She laughed a little, embarrassed, and wiped her sleeve over her nose.
John reached forward, taking her broken hand in his. "We'll do something," he murmured.
"Yes, we will. And look where that got us!" Daxia choked back more tears. "We're responsible for these people now! I'm tired of it! I don't want to have to pretend that I can shoot you! I don't want to have yell 'soldier'. I don't want to leave my sister behind because my mission is too dangerous. I just want me, you and a good ship to fly with." She shook her head. "But there will always be this. There will always be fighting."
"How did the Doctors fix me?"
Daxia wiped at her eyes angrily. "An EM pulse. Knock out the Halo, knock out ever ship in the vicinity. Destroy the only technology we have. That's our answer to stopping Cortana. Stopping our friend."
John nodded gravely. "We're not done yet. Soon. But not yet." He pulled her closer. "Not yet."
Kraus and the rest of the UNSC's finest were assembled in the briefing room, with various pots of coffee placed at strategic points.
"It should work," the Doctor said. "The Chief suffered no side affects."
"But the same EM pulse would destroy all of Halos systems. All of the ships systems. Anything within range," pointed out one of the others. "We risk losing the ring."
"Better than losing our lives," Kraus replied.
"We don't use EM pulses because they are too dangerous!" The marine slapped his palm onto the table top. "We lose our ships systems!"
"Actually," John interrupted. "EM pulses don't work on Covenant ships . . . that's why we don't use them."
"And what of Cortana?" Louise poured herself another cup. "We'll lose her too, won't we?"
"It's what we have to do," Duskins flickered black for a moment. The AI shook his head. "It is a great shame, but it has to happen."
"Cortana will put up defences," Kraus watched the hologram of the Halo. "Our fleet is small, and only consists of Forerunner ships. I don't want to lose those."
Daxia sat straighter, she suppressed a yawn and addressed the group. "We have a Longsword though, don't we? If we use the Mordred as a distraction for Cortana's defences, I can take a Longsword down and drop the EM bomb on Halo."
"Your Longsword will likely be disabled," Kraus pointed out.
"I can get away in time." Daxia promised.
"Speed is of the essence," Kraus mused, his eyes on John. "And I see this as our only option."
"Then we are . . . go?" Ish' Manatee glanced at the others. "Is that right?"
The deck of the Mordred shook. Daxia stumbled against the wall, glancing at the bulkheads in concern.
"They'll hold," John told her. He kept going. "Master Chief to the Bridge, is that bomb prepped yet?"
"They're loading it into the Longsword now," Kraus replied over the radio. "These defences are heavy, we'll give you all the cover we can."
The ship shook again.
"I'm not used to this," Daxia grumbled. She sprinted through the hangar bay, climbing into the Longsword's cockpit.
"Everything's loaded," the SPARTAN took the co-pilots seat.
"John," Daxia began as she fired up the engines. "You don't need to come you know." The Longsword lifted off the deck and hovered, preparing to shoot off into space the moment they had clearance. "We may not get away in time."
"I'm not leaving now," he replied.
"This is Mordred to Commander Ring, you are good to go. Good luck, Daxia."
The Longsword was no Avalon, and Daxia struggled at first to avoid the defensive systems Cortana had set up. The pilots of the other crafts were new however, and were no match for Daxia, a real combat fighter.
The Longsword dipped and wove its way through the ragged little fleet Cortana had assembled.
"This isn't too bad," Daxia grunted, synchronizing her flight with the Halos orbit. "Looks like we might do this after all . . ."
And then all Hell broke loose.
The Mordred fired too close, some overzealous young gunner had been left in charge. A nearby Pelican exploded and the debris ploughed through the Longsword's wing. Alarms and sirens blared as the cockpit was bathed in red.
"Ah crap! Lost starboard engines, thrusters . . . and the firing mechanisms are offline! Shit!" Daxia fought with the control to bring the Longsword closer to Halo's surface.
John left his seat and headed for the bomb, prepped in its launch tube.
"What are you doing?" Daxia yelled over her shoulder.
"Get me into orbit," he grunted.
With an almost undetectable sigh, Daxia followed his orders. "Alright, we're grazing the atmosphere now," she called through the radio. "We're nearing drop zone in nine,"
"Be safe," John replied. In the airlock he watch the EM bomb tick down.
John blew the hatch and flew outwards, catching the bomb's side as they plummeted.
The Longsword was coming in far too fast, Daxia watched the ground rushing up to meet her and her ship, her hands gripped the controls and she fought gravity the whole way down.
Cortana eyed the display with disbelief. What could they possibly hope to do? She reached forward to begin the sequence when the world seemed to pop.
And all there was, was blackness.
"Sir," the marine approached the Master Chief with some trepidation. "Third quadrant has been secured. Still no sign of the crash site. Though . . . we have found some wreckage."
"Then we are getting closer," Kraus snapped from the Chief's side.
"Keep searching," the SPARTAN grunted.
The Admiral watched as the SPARTAN limped onwards. Stripped of his broken MJOLNIR and in crutches from his dive onto the planet's surface, John-117 should by rights have been dead. Yet, you'd be surprised what a SPARTAN can do with a piece of engine debris and a well used suit.
"John?" he pressed forward, catching up with him easily. "We're taking a break here. I'm tired, even if you're not."
With great reluctance, John eased himself down onto the grass. He watched all those who were searching as they fanned out over the countryside. Even Aislinn and a pale, but fully restored 'Tana were helping.
Cortana could have helped . . . but there was no sense in wishing for her now.
A section of hull plating lay close to his foot, the same green as his armour. The first time he'd seen it, completely useless now, he'd felt uneasy. He didn't know where the next threat was coming from . . . there wasn't another threat in the galaxy. There was no reason for the Forerunners to return, these specimens were all 'contaminated'.
He only wanted one thing, was that too much to ask?
"Master Chief!" Ish' Manatee and Goro' Nyessh were sprinting over. "We have found the crash site," Manatee panted.
"Over that hill," Nyessh replied. "But there is only wreckage."
By the time Kraus reached the site with Aislinn and the others, he had to concede that the Elite had been right. The Longsword was in ruins, the cockpit cracked open. John was standing on the next hilltop, not watching them.
"Oh God," Aislinn sobbed, clinging to Manatee's arm.
"We knew it was a long shot." Kraus reached out, reverently, to touch the hull of the Longsword.
A marine nodded. "Her instrumentation must have failed at the last moment." He shook his head, aware that the sister of the deceased was close by.
John kept moving down the hill, the crutches not bearing him fast enough away. He stumbled, bringing himself to a halt.
"Hey," Daxia flung her flight gear at his feet. "I was wondering where the rescue party was."
"What?" She ran a hand through her blonde hair. "What? Do I have something in my hair?"
"You . . ."
"So, did we win?" She regarded his crutches. "And what the Hell happened to you?"
"You did," he retorted. "And I've been regretting it ever since."
Grinning, Daxia wrapped her arms around him. "Now we're done."