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A Halo Novelization: Chapter 2: AI's and Cyborgs First!: Part 1
Posted By: MarioMTO<MarioMTO@aol.com>
Date: 6 December 2002, 3:05 pm

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       "Captain Keyes..."

            "Good to see you, Master Chief." replied Captain Keyes. He turned to Cortana. "Cortana did her best, but we never really had a chance."

            Cortana pointed to a tactical display. "A dozen Covenant ships vs. a single Halcyon-class cruiser. With those odds, 3 or 4 kills would be a miracle, but this is one of the best ships the UNSC has." She turned and looked at the Chief. "Sleep well?"

            "No thanks to your driving, yes." The Chief asserted.

            "So you did miss me-" Cortana's sentence was cut short as a powerful explosion rocked the ship.

            "Damage report!" yelled the Captain.

            "Sir, it seems as if the explosion was planted by a Covenant boarding party. Maybe an antimatter charge! We' ve lost control of the MAC gun! Hull breaches on decks D, C, and G! Sealing those areas now." A lieutenant tapped furiously on a keypad while checking the main view screen.

            "Captain, the cannon was my last offensive option!" Cortana began looking anxiously at the Captain.

            "Alright, that's enough. I'm initiating Cole Protocol Article 2. We're abandoning the Autumn. That means you too, Cortana." The Captain began to press buttons on a keypad near the AI hologram pedestal.

            "What are you going to do, go down with the ship?" Cortana asked sarcastically.

            The Captain did not catch the sarcasm in her voice. "In a matter of speaking. This ring we found. I'm going to try to land the ship on it." He pointed toward Halo. "Cortana, see if it can sustain human life and focus the long range cameras on it."

            "Refocusing cameras now. Scanning atmosphere and environment." Cortana paused in concentration for a moment, and then spoke again. "The atmosphere seems hospitable, and the temperatures are within acceptable limits. Care to take a look?"

            The Chief watched as a giant portion of Halo was portrayed on the main view screen. To him, it was completely artificial, and from the way the Covenant tried to prevent the Humans from landing on it, contained something as dangerous as the Covenant. After a while, Cortana spoke.

            "With all due respect, Captain, this war already has enough dead heroes. Going down there with the ship is suicide."

            The Captain knew that. However, the capture of Cortana was unacceptable. "I appreciate your concern, but the Cole Protocol states that the capture of an AI is not allowed, and it is for the safety of Earth. I want you to scan for possible landing areas, and upload them to my neural interface. Then shut down and prepare for transfer to the Chief's suit."

            "Yes sir." The holographic image faded from the pedestal. Before Keyes could pull the memory cube out, Cortana spoke again. "The Autumn will continue automatic evasion maneuvers until you take control of the ship."

            "Excellent work, Cortana. Thank you." The Captain pushed a button on the AI pedestal and pulled the memory cube out. He handed the cube to the Chief, who quickly put it in his helmet. When the cube was in his helmet, the Chief felt a strange presence in the back of his mind. It felt as if Cortana was actually inside his head.

            So, your suit's architecture isn't too different from the Autumn's. Cortana's voice was not coming from the suit's speakers, but from his mind itself. It was odd, and quite surprising the first time it happened to him. However, he knew that he would be working with Cortana much more, so he had to get used to it. He knew Cortana couldn't control his suit, but she could do some strange things to him, so he had to make sure that he was the one in charge.

            "Don't get any funny ideas, Cortana."

            Keyes pulled out his pistol, and handed it to the Chief. "I know that you need a weapon, so this will have to do for now. I don't keep it loaded for safety's sake, so you'll have to find rounds as you go." The Captain turned to an officer to hear the details of the fight to save the Autumn. From what the Chief heard, the fight was not going well, and the Covenant would soon take control of the ship. If that happened, the Captain's plan would fail.

            The Chief walked off the bridge, and found a pistol from a dead Marine. He continued down the hallway. When he rounded a corner, he found several Grunts standing over a dead Marine.

            "What is it? If it's dead, I get it's helmet!" A Grunt reached for the helmet.

            Another Grunt grabbed it away."No, no, I want the helmet! You get the gun!"

            The first Grunt reached for the Marine's gun, and looked at it. "Ooooooh! Look at the nice and shiny gun!" yelled the Grunt, obviously satisfied by the weapon. The Chief, who was disgusted by them, ran around the corner, surprising the Grunts.

            "Bad Cyborg!" The Chief pulled the trigger on his shotgun, killing the Grunt who was still admiring his newly acquired gun. The other Grunt was running in circles, screaming for help. The Chief pulled out the pistol that Keyes had given him, and with a quick headshot, he gave the Grunt .45 caliber brain surgery. After walking further down the hallway, he entered the Cafeteria, where there were two Marines fighting off several Elites and Grunts.

            "Covering fire! Watch out for those Elites!"

            "I know, I know! Grenaaaade!"

            There was a sudden wave of chatter on the COM system as a squad of Marines chased two Elites into the cafeteria. The Chief dove behind a table when a Grunt threw a grenade into the air. It bounced once, then landed on the ground. The three-second fuse burned down, until a plasma explosion flipped a table into the air, landing on the unsuspecting Chief. The table weighed over 60 kilograms, but with the MJOLNIR armor, it could be lifted easily. He grabbed the table and used it as a melee weapon, swinging it at the Covenant forces. The Grunts ducked the swing, but the Elites, all being well over eight feet, could not get out of the way in time. Their shields flicked out, allowing the next swing to smash them to the ground, killing most of the Elites, and the ones that survived were wounded, allowing a grenade to put them to rest.

            The Grunts, being the cowardly things they were, began to run around in circles, screaming and yelling. the Chief pulled out a plasma grenade, stuck it to one of the Grunts, and then ran out the other side of the Cafeteria.

            What was that for? That grenade could have killed you! Grunts aren't that stupid, you know. You really should be more careful about those things. Cortana muttered, quite angry with the Chief.

            "Well, my idea of combat is not about hiding. If I didn't stick a grenade to that Grunt, we would have been stuck in the Cafeteria for a very long time. Now, I need to know whether to go right or left. I don't know this ship too well." the Cheif asked when they had come to a split in a hallway.

            Going right will lead to some airlocks. It's possible there still are some life pods to the left. The Chief followed Cortana's idea, only to find several Marines standing near the empty airlocks. Suddenly, one of the airlocks started to shake, as if something was trying to get through the sealed doors. It collapsed as a plasma grenade went off, killing the Marines and throwing parts of the door all over the area. Grunts streamed out of the airlock, followed by an Elite. They immediately opened fire on the Chief, spraying a huge wave of plasma. His shields flared yellow as most of it impacted immediately. he ran behind a corner, and pulled out his pistol. He slowly looked around the corner, and saw the distinctive armor of the Elites. He fired three times. The first two bounced off its shield, and the third hit its head, killing the alien instantly.

            "They got Elite! Run!" A Grunt screeched out its fear in a high-pitched voice, causing a scene of mass panic and chaos. They all ran back into the boarding craft from where they entered the Pillar of Autumn. All of the Grunts stood in the craft, quivering with fear. The Chief walked carefully around the corner only to be surprised by the fact that nothing was in the corridor. Then he heard the panicked squeal of a Grunt from the boarding craft, and he quickly threw a grenade into the airlock. The shockwave of the explosion killed the Grunts, and the Chief, fascinated by the Covenant ship, entered the boarding craft.

            The ship was mostly empty, except for two clear cubes with a red sphere in the center that sat in a small corner. They were about 30 centimeters wide, and high, and each had what looked like an energy transfer device. The Chief, confused by the cubes, decided to ask Cortana. "What are these things?"

            I don't really know what they are, but I'll try to find more data on them. Cortana paused as she checked her knowledge on the Covenant. They seem to be an overshield, which will supercharge your shield to 300%. They don't affect the shield generator, so they will not cause an overload. However, since they don't affect the generator, the shield cannot be increased back to 300% after the overshield is drained. I suggest you try one of them.

The Chief moved to one of the overshields and picked it up. When he touched it, he heard a strange noise in his helmet and his shield indicator went from blue to red to green. "What was that?" he asked Cortana.

            I've adjusted your shield's indicators for the overshield. Cortana replied.

            Since the airlock did not have any lifeboats left, he backtracked to the split in the hallway and took the left.