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A Halo Novelization: Chapter 1: The Pillar of Autumn
Posted By: MarioMTO<MarioMTO@aol.com>
Date: 7 November 2002, 12:33 am

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The Pillar of Autumn slowly headed toward the giant ringworld, Halo. On the bridge, all was quiet as everyone stared at the giant object. It had rivers, lakes, mountains, valleys, and plains, but it also looked quite artificial due to the strange symbols and it's shape. Then, the calm voice of Captain Jacob Keyes. sliced trough the silence.

   "Cortana, all I need to know is, did we lose them?"

Cortana, the Pillar of Autumn's AI, was still observing Halo. Each AI chose their own form, and she had chosen the body of a woman, completely purple, and with numbers running down her body. She turned and faced the captain.

"I think we both know the answer to that."

"We made a blind jump here...How could they have-"

       "Got here first? The Covenant ships have always been faster than us. As for tracking us all the way from Reach, well, in Slipstream space, my maneuvering options we limited. She looked at a tactical display as she finished the captain's sentence.

"We were running dark, yes?", the captain asked.

"Until we decelerated. No one could have missed the hole we tore in slipspace. They were waiting for us on the other side of the planet.

"So where do we stand?" asked the captain.

       "I have isolated approach signatures from multiple battlegroups. Make it three capital ships per group. And in about ninety seconds they'll be all over us."

       "Well that's it then. Bring the ship to Combat State Alpha, Cortana. Let's give our friends a warm welcome." , the Captain ordered.

       "Yes sir."

         In the main hangar bay of the Pillar Of Autumn, several Marines were sitting around, chatting, and cleaning their weapons. Suddenly, the loudspeaker blared out.

             "Attention all combat personnel. Please report to your action stations. Fifth Platoon, move to secure airlocks on Deck 11. Fourteenth Platoon, rendezvous with 22nd Tactical at Bulkhead Charlie 14."

       With those words, Marines all around the bay jumped up and started running around, driving Warthogs, and flying Pelicans.

       A large group of Marines had gathered in a group. Most of them were putting on combat armor, each with a scrolling display over one eye, containing weapons information, health indicators, armor integrity, ranking of other Marines, and infrared vision. A Sergeant strolled among them, making sure that all was in order. He did not wear any armor, and had a gray cap. When the Marines had put on all of their armor, he spoke to them, his voice reaching out to all the troops.

       "Men, we have led these dumb bugs out to who knows where to keep 'em from getting their filthy claws on Earth. But, we stumbled onto something' they're so hot over, that they're stumbling' over each other to get at it. Well I don't care if it's God's own anti-son-of-a-bitch machine, or a giant piece of crap, we're will to let them have it! What we will let them have is a belly of lead, and let them drown in their own blood! Those bastards could not have picked a worse enemy than the human race!" There was a short pause as the sergeant took a breath. "AM I RIGHT MARINES?"

"Sir yes sir!" came the reply.

       The Marines all stood up and started to move toward Pelicans and combat stations when the loudspeaker blared out again.

       "Attention all personnel. We are re-engaging the enemy. External and internal contacts imminent."

         "Well, all you wimps who wanted to see the Covenant up close, this is your lucky day!" the Sergeant yelled while grabbing his shotgun. The Marines picked up their weapons, checked their suits, and rushed off to their combat stations, not knowing that they would never return to a human planet again.

        The two technicians stared at the SPARTAN-II. To them, the Spartans looked more like the Covenant than the species they were trying to protect. Almost perpetually in their green armor, they had near-legendary status in the military. Each Spartan had the power of ten Marines, and they all were well protected with advanced armor and shields. They were humanity's only hope against the Covenant juggernaut. However, despite all the victories on the ground, the Spartans were helpless against the Covenant dropships. One by one, they glassed the human planets, but the planets of Earth and Reach were well hidden from the Covenant. An automated Covenant probe on the ship Iroquois had revealed the location of Reach, and the Covenant sent an enormous armada to destroy it. The Spartans went to the planet to try to stop the invasion, but all were killed as the merciless Covenant aliens glassed humanity's one and best hope of defending Earth. However, miraculously, one Spartan had made it out and had been cryogenically frozen. That was the last Spartan, the last super soldier that could stop the Covenant.

        The two technicians wore yellow uniforms, indicating that they were crew, not soldiers, and they had no armor or weapons, either. They looked down at the cryo tube from the observation deck of Cryo Bay 2, the cryo bay designed for the Spartans, but since all but one had died, there was only on occupant, the last Spartan, the Master Chief. While the two techs checked his vital statistics, and recorded the conditions, a message appeared on the display panel: Unseal the Hushed Casket .

        "Whoa...What the...Sir?" asked the first tech.

        "Right, let's thaw him out." The second tech hurried down the ladder to the cryo deck.

        "Okay. Bringing low-level systems online. Cracking the case in thirty seconds!" The first tech yelled through an annoucement system. He pushed several buttons on a control panel, and then pulled down a lever. White steam poured from the cryo tube. "He's hot! Blowing the pins in five!"

       The tube slowly opened, giving a dramatic air to the chief as he appeared through the steam. "Tube shows green. Cycle complete." The first tech announced as he checked an indicator on the observation deck.

        "Sorry for the quick thaw, Chief. Things are a bit hectic right now. The disorientation will pass quickly." The second tech walked up to the Chief.

        "Welcome back, Chief. We'll have you battle ready stat. I'm bringing your health monitors online." The first tech's voice echoed throughout the cryo deck.

        "Vitals look normal. No freezer burn. Okay sir, go ahead and climb out." The second tech paused as the Chief climbed out of the tube. "Take a quick walk around the cryo bay and meet me at the shield station."

         The Chief walked to the far wall and back to the tube. The wonders of Slipstream travel, he thought. It had been at least a week since he had moved, and he'd rather fight in a battle than be frozen and put in a tube for a week. He remembered the fall of Reach and all his lost friends, fighting to the last breath to save Reach. But he knew that if he was here, the others were probably dead. Personally, he would have fought and died with his friends, but he had to continue, no matter what the losses were.

        "Chief, follow me to the shield test station." The second tech took the Chief to a square surrounded by two bars that were hung by another bar on the ceiling. The tech walked to a control panel and pressed a button. The bars began to spin rapidly, and an orange glow covered the Chief. The bars stopped, and a shield indicator appeared on his HUD. "I'm testing the automatic recharge now." The tech pushed the same button and the shields disappeared. The Chief had a warning alarm in his helmet and the empty shield indicator flashed red. After about 5 seconds, when the suit built up enough power, the shields slowly recharged.

        The captain's voice came over the loudspeaker. "Bridge to Cryo 2, Send the Chief to the bridge immediately."

        "But sir, we will have to skip the weapons diagnostics and-"

        "On the double, crewman.""Yes sir. Chief, it seems as if the bridge is in a hurry, so we will have to get you weapons later. Follow me."

        On the observations deck, there was a loud banging on the door. The first tech pressed random buttons and called for security, but the banging grew louder and louder as the door finally succumbed to the smashing. On the deck appeared several Covenant Elites, one of the alliance's best soldiers. They were roughly 8 feet tall, and had full body shields. They had different color armor for each rank, and carried assorted weaponry, although the ones the Chief saw carried plasma rifles. They wore blue armor, indicating that the Elites were of a minor rank. The Elites growled once, then shot over ten bolts of plasma into the helpless technician on the observation deck. The tech was dead before he hit the ground. As the Chief rushed out the door, he saw the Elites pounding on a control panel, trying to lock the cryo bay doors. However, by the time the doors were locked, the Chief was already out in the hallway.

        Somewhere on the ship, a plasma torpedo hit, causing the ship to shake with force. Apparently, it had hit near the cryo bay because a fuel line next to the locked door exploded, killing the tech and draining the Chief 's shields. The door now blocked by a raging fire, the Chief had to find another way to the bridge.

        He made his way down the hallway to an intersection where two security personnel were holding off an Elite and several Grunts, which were the most common type of Covenant.

        A plasma grenade flew near the security personnel. Not knowing what to do,
they frantically tried to move it away, but when the three seconds were done, it exploded, throwing the dead bodies right toward the Chief. With the explosion, blast doors closed, sealing the Covenant off from the rest of the ship.

        The Chief continued to walk down the hallway, and found a scorched, half-jammed blast door. He checked the door's control panel, but it was just a charred piece of scrap metal, so he crouched under the door and made it to the other side without much difficulty. The next hallway had scattered fights between the Covenant and the humans, so he was not noticed by anyone. Heading around the corner, he ran directly into two Elites standing side by side, effectively blocking his way.

        The Elites, quite suprised by the Spartan, rolled to the side and muttered something in an alien language. They fired their plasma rifles at the Chief, and the bolts hit his shield, each shot being absorbed by the yellow shield. Unarmed, he ran back the way he came from, and the Elites followed him, matching his speed. While still sprinting, he picked up a plasma grenade from a dead Grunt, activated the fuse, and threw it at one of them, sticking it on to the Elite. These sticky grenades might come in handy later, the Chief thought. He picked up the rest and continued down the hall.

        The first Elite disappeared in the giant ball of plasma from the explosion of the grenade, but the other's shields flared blue for a second and kept on following the Chief. Well, if they won't give up, I won't either. The Chief threw another grenade at the Elite, but it dodged it and kept on running. He grabbed a pistol from a dead Marine, fired it three times, then it ran out of ammo. He made it to a pair of Marines, who had just fought several Grunts.

        "Chief, they need you on the bridge!" yelled a Marine while he fired at the Elite with an assault rifle.

        "This Elite was chasing me when I was unarmed and it's blocking the way to the bridge, so I need you to help me get rid of it!" the Chief said to the Marines.

        "We have to get to our evac group, so we can't help you, but maybe this will." The other Marine gave his assault rifle to the Chief and the Marines headed down the hallway to some life pods. The Elite had taken cover behind a supply barrel when the Marines started shooting, but now, the Marines were gone, so it started to chase the Chief again. He checked the assault rifle and saw that it still had 46 bullets left, so he turned and raised it at the Elite. The Elite stopped running and pointed its plasma rifle straight at the Chief. They both had an open shot, and who ever fired first would probably be the last one standing. This is unacceptable. I need to change the odds. The Chief saw a 50-kilogram barrel of fuel near the wall, and with his superhuman strength, hurled it straight at the Elite. It was knocked to the floor, but its shields took most of the beating, so it got up, and raised its gun again. The barrel, however, was just a distraction. The Chief dashed forward, shooting the assault rifle at the Elite's head. Its shield already damaged, the Elite fell to the ground, dead from the hail of bullets.

        The Elites gone, the Chief started to walk toward the bridge again. His rifle was out of ammo, but this time, the way was mostly clear, until he met a large group of Marines fighting off many Grunts. A Marine came up to the Chief, and spoke with an Austrailian accent.

        "Chief, the Captain needs you on the bridge, ASAP!"  The Marine led the Chief through a door into an armory devoid of weapons, but filled with dead and dying Marines. The walls were covered with blood, and the Chief could hear their screams of pain and agony. They must have really fought hard to protect the bridge. the Chief thought. He knew that if the Covenant took the bridge, there would be no more hope for Earth, because important data was there, and the ship didn't have a chance to initiate the Cole Protocol, an important directive that stated a ship's data.

        The Marine led the Chief out of the armory and out into another room, where there more groups of Covenant and Marines fighting. When the Chief arrived at the bridge, he saw Marines guarding the door. Then, the Austrailian pointed to the insides of the bridge.

        "Captain Keyes is waiting for us, sir!" The Marine led the Chief past several stations for weapons, officers, communication officers, navigation officers, and an AI's computer. Finally, he arrived at the command area, with tactical displays and an AI hologram stand. The Captain was standing there, looking out the bridge windows. He was about fifty years old. He wore a gray uniform, and also had stripes on his shoulders, indicating his rank. To the Chief he looked familiar, like an old friend. After a short pause, he spoke.

        "Captain Keyes..."