Pillar of Autumn
Posted By: Nick<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 25 May 2002, 4:31 am
[note from the author]
I have decided to pospone the Halo: Aftermath fic and get started on my work for the "Halo: Fanfiction Project". I have enclosed in this message a little bit of my version of the story of Halo. I have added and taken away from that of which you know of. In this particular chapter, the first level, Pillar of Autumn, is featured. This is only up to the point where Master Chief climbs under the blast door [ajar].
The Pillar of Autumn stood in space like a ghost. Its engines had ceased operation along with many of the weapons and scanners. The ship had been running dark for at least ten minutes, perhaps longer. With the stress being put upon the crew aboard the bridge, it was no wonder they were sweating. Their captain, Jacob Keyes, had chosen the ship to be on reconnaissance rather than battle mode in case they had found overwhelming odds of Covenant starships. Had Captain Keyes known what to expect, he probably would have altered his decision.
He was not alone in his strategy, though, the ships on board artificial intelligence Cortana was passive with the idea of being observant. She herself could not do anything physically, but with her ability to swarm computer networks, she was a dangerous piece of machinery. All AI constructs were permitted to select one appearance and she choose to be lined with data rather than abandon her mind set of being a computer and not a human. Even when she was ordered to run dark, her long range cameras had been operational. They had been looking at something. Something very unusual.
A large distance away from the Halycon-class ship was a gigantic ring shaped world. It was complete with plains, mountains, canyons, and all other geographical and weather characteristics. Cortana was having a troubled time thinking that what she saw was anything other than a mystery. Ten thousand kilometers in diameter and several kilometers thick, lined with a granite substance which had been decorated with inscribed symbols. Those symbols also puzzled her. How could something so big and so well made maintain its shape? She did not know quite what to say about the ordeal.
As for Captain Keyes, he knew what it was and he could sum it up in one word, "threat". Never had he seen this sort of entity, but he could clearly see Covenant warship flying by it. To him, this was a very bad situation. The ring had just become the last of his worries, the real objective was to stay safe and that was clearly impossible considering the amount of cruisers and frigates he counted. At least one dozen CCS ships and one of them. The odds were slim to nil for him and his crew. Keyes had been in bad situations, but not like this. Keyes looked off to a console, the radar showed no movement on the enemies part. He would have to hope it would stay that way.
Lieutenant Lowell turned around in his seat near the front of the bridge and by a wide, multiple plated glass. His uniform matched the same as all of the bridge crew, gray shirt and matching pants with a blue stripe down the middle. He could only whisper, but it was enough for Keyes to hear him speak. "Captain, the Covenant are sleeping on duty. Would you like me to find ourselves a more concealing location?"
Keyes looked at Lowell. "No, I want to remain dark until they make the first move. Oh, and Lowell," Keyes paused. "be on the lookout for any friendly ships that may have followed our path."
Lowell agreed and turned back to face his station. His monitor was blank when it came to other UNSC ships. He did not want to tell Keyes that they were going to be alone on this, so he simply choose to ignore his radar signatures for now. After ten minutes of staring at the spinning object, Lowell had become bored, thus sparking his desire to do something. He was an adventurer for as long as he could remember. He was good at being one, but it seemed Keyes was more of the experimental type.
In the meantime, Cortana's visual appearance showed on the hologram emitter near the main screen. She had her arms crossed and she was worried. "Sir, we have trouble-" Cortana was interrupted by the now rushed Lowell.
"Sir, we have movement. I repeat, we have movement. The Covenant are accelerating toward us from eleven, twelve, and one o'clock, both high and low." Lowell sat in his seat. Keyes knew this meant combat, but how many ship was he up against?
"So," Keyes shifted his body to face Cortana. "where do we stand?"
"Our fighters are mopping up the last of their Recon picket now, nothing serious. But, I have isolated approaching signatures from multiple CCS-class battle groups. Make it three capital ships per group. In about ninety seconds they'll be all over us. Is there anything you need me to do, Captain?" Cortana replied.
"Yes, in fact, there is something you can do. Bring the ship to combat alert Alpha. I want everyone at their stations." Keyes turned his view to the main screen. Cortana had highlighted the enemy ships in red and the Autumn with its Longsword escort group in green. They were highly outnumbered. In the bottom left of the screen, Keyes noticed the words "Code Red" highlighted in a neon tint of some sort.
"Everyone, sir?" Cortana asked. This was very rare for Keyes' strategy. Never had he gone as far as to order all hands to their posts. He must have had something else in mind.
"Everyone. . .and Cortana," Keyes turned to her holographic image. "let's give our friends a warm welcome."
Cortana smiled coyly. "I have already begun."
The Pillar of Autumn's many hanger bays had suddenly become active. Marines in light gray suits and metallic plates covering vital areas ran around like it was the end of the world. They had helmets was a scanning device that acted as their heads-up display. A crosshair, vitals signs, and night vision had made up all of the display menus that they would need for combat. Unfortunately for them, they had almost too little armor that those stats would even help them in a real gun battle.
Pelicans lined the upper decks of the bays. They were small transport ships that would take them to and from battles, both in space and on the ground. The average pelican was able to hold twelve people: a pilot, a co-pilot, and the ten marines who sat in the back cabin area. The ships had six jets for propulsion vertically and horizontally. The advantage to this transport was that they were well protected by two feet of think armor plating that in most cases would take the bulk of the damage done by plasma shots.
Below on the lower decks were jeeps called Warthogs and Scorpion tanks neatly placed in rows. Massive squads of marines gathered together to listen to their orders, not knowing what would be ahead of them. Some marines even joked as to how weak they thought the Covenant were, others had actually come up with plans to use the Covenant exoskeletons as coats or their own replacement armor. No one seemed to have been taking the situation as seriously as they should have.
A medium sized man walked through the group of marines. He was of African American decent, moderately muscular, and he bore a goatee. He called out to the marines harshly and ordered them into separate rows. His assault rifle was the same as everyone else's as was his decor. Finally, when the marines had done as told, he spoke some encouraging words for once.
"Men, keep your eyes down range, fingers on your triggers, and we'll all come back in one piece. Do you understand me marines?" Lieutenant Johnson said.
"Yes, sir!" All of the marine replied in unison.
"Thank exactly what I wanted to hear. Now move out and engage those bully minded freaks, double time!" Johnson said. All of the marines ran out throughout the hanger and into separate exits that would lead to several parts of the ship. Johnson walked out into the middle of the bay and watched as the hundreds of men scrambled. A voice announced that the ship was now under internal and external attack. "All you greenhorns who wanted to see Covenant up close. . .this is gonna be your lucky day. Now fight to keep this ship intact, pronto!"
Two technicians, Privates Sam Louis and Richard Holmes, stood on an overlooking deck of Cryo Bay A-2. wearing their yellow uniforms. They were observing the data being sent to them by the cryo tube holding one of the ships most valuable soldiers. The display showed his specialized suit, MJORNIR, as a transparent object overlapping his muscular body structure. The control panel's buttons were a mixture of cool blue and a flashy yellow. On the top right area of the panel, a vital signature was being sent to them showing the soldier's pulse rate and brain activity.
A sign with the words,"Unseal the Hushed Casket" blinked on the panel's text area. Both technicians looked up from the console and viewed the tube. A soft atmosphere begun draining from the device slowly revealing the tall figure inside. Louis and Holmes gasped silently. They had seen these so called Spartans before, but there was something about the reanimation process that made the modified troops more superior than normal. Private Louis signaled for Holmes to go down to the cryo tube and greet the Spartan, Master Chief; Private Holmes did as told.
Louis clicked on the intercom and motioned to Holmes that the process had just begun. Seconds passed and finally the countdown began. "Okay. Bringing low-level systems online. Cracking the case in thirty seconds." Another series of seconds passed as the two watched an increase of atmosphere leaked into the bay. The temperature began lowering degree by degree until it ceased at sixty degrees Fahrenheit. "He's hot! Blowing the pins in five!"
The tube slowly opened revealing Master Chief. His armor was a mossy green with a reflective external brace. The multi-layer outfit had several pieces to it. Out most was the reflective piece and exoskeleton looking plating, followed closely by a gel substance that helped adjust the suit to the wearer's body shape, after that was a layer of padding and a heat regulating system, lastly was another layer of padding to provide comfort. The helmet has a complex design of flaps, lights, a full face visor, and a heads-up display that was more advanced than a marines by far. All in all, the MJORNIR armor weighed a painful one hundred and fifty pounds of pressure put on his constantly flexed muscles.
Master Chief slowly assessed himself, then turned his attention to Private Holmes. He was staring at him without making any sudden movements. If he had made a quick gesture, Master Chief would gain a concussion. Private Louis was on the deck above them working on keeping Master Chief awake for the necessary amount of time to prepare the two tests the Spartan would have to take before leaving the bay.
"Tube shows green. The cycle has just been complete. Begin reanimation test sequence." Louis said. He was only able to watch the events through a thick slab of glass, but the stats being sent to him allowed the whole process to be ran from the control panel.
Holmes took one step forward toward Master Chief. "Sorry for the quick thaw, Master Chief. Things are a little hectic right now. The disorientation should pass quickly."
"Welcome back, sir. We will have you battle ready stat." Louis said as he waved his hand in the air.
Master Chief stared back at Holmes who was at the panel next to the cryo tube. He was hurrying through some information now. "Chief, please take a look around the room so that I can get a calibration reading for your suits battle diagnostics."
Master Chief looked left to right once. He now remembered where he was, the cryo bay aboard the Pillar of Autumn. It had to be at least two weeks since the destruction of the human colony on Reach, but for him, it was yesterday. He would never forget what happened to his fellow Spartans, how they died desperately fighting to save a doomed world. He saw one die destroying one of the ships. Two others at Reach also meet their fates before his very eyes, one knocked into the depths of space, the other shot to death by plasma.
They were safe from the Covenant now, all of them, except for Master Chief. He had to have been the only surviving Spartan of that attack, now the Covenant were going to try and kill him as well. He would not allow that. He had to fight. He had to do something more than watch. His revenge would be fulfilled.
"Good, thank you, sir." Holmes said. Master Chief was snapped back into reality.
"I am bring your health monitors online, sir." Louis said. In the upper right of Master Chief heads-up display appeared two lines. The line that was on the top of the two lines monitored his pulse-rate-per-minute. The lower one scanned his brain activity. Often, he would ignore these unless something drastic had just happened to him. Nevertheless, they held a high level of importance to the technicians.
Holmes checked and rechecked the status of Master Chief. "Vital signs look normal. Good, there is no freezer burn." Holmes looked at Master Chief. "Alright, sir, go ahead and climb out of the cryo tube. After that we will begin your eye test."
Master Chief calmly lifted himself out of the tube, hopped down from the four inch elevation, and directed his attention to Private Holmes. The cryo chamber shut swiftly causing a loud clanging sound of metal hitting metal. Holmes looked toward the tube in shock and then faced upward toward Louis. The private was already working on the control panel.
"We just lost power. The Covenant must be boarding already. There is not much time before they reach this area." Louis shouted out over the intercom.
"Understood." Holmes looked back at Master Chief. "Sir, we are going the have to skip out on the visual eye test. Please look to your left and right, then up and down so that we can make sure you are capable of the basics."
Master Chief looked to his left, then to his right. Good, no pain just yet. He looked up and down. The eye test always seemed pointless to Master Chief. To him it was clearly obvious that if he managed to make it to that point he was clearly okay. Science had never been his strong point anyway, he was more of the "shoot first and ask questions later" type. Regardless, this part of the reanimation procedure was minatory.
"That looks good. Do you feel any pain in your neck or retinal areas, sir?" Holmes asked. Master Chief shook his head. "Alright, we should proceed to the energy shield testing." Private Holmes motioned for Master Chief to follow him.
"Master Chief, sir, I am detecting a rise in your pulse rate and a drop in your brain activity. Are you okay?" Private Louis asked. Master Chief had not even noticed.
"No, I feel fine. May be it is because I am eager." Master Chief said. He had a deep, monotone voice with a slight spike of leadership in his speech.
"That could be it. Private Holmes, I am ready for the energy shield test now. Master Chief, please stand on the yellow square in front of you." Louis said. Master Chief stood on a moderately sized square outlined by a yellow paint. The square was surrounded by four long steel bars with what appeared to be solar panels made of fiber glass attached to them. The bars were connected by a sturdy, metal cross hanging from above hooked on by a crane of some sort. All Master Chief could say about this device is that it was some weird science project.
Not long after he had stepped onto the square did the bars begin to spin. First, slow, then fast, and faster to the point where he could not see the bars anymore. The only reason he knew they were there is because they were humming loudly. A bright white light with a small mixture of yellow lite up the fiber glass panels. He could hardly see Private Holmes at this point, let alone the rest of the room. His body felt as though it were becoming lighter. The transparent, full body shielding was taking place.
Holmes had to yell for Master Chief to hear him. "Sir, we need you to test the automatic recharge!" Suddenly the power in the room clicked out. The humming stopped which meant that the bars had also. John, with his night vision toggled, could clearly see Holmes frantically glancing around the bay. Louis was hard at work typing on the lite up computer panel.
Up where Master Chief's health monitors were placed, he could see a solid blue line growing to the size of his pulse rate's line. Good, his shielding was recharging by itself, the procedure was finished. No more tests for him at this point. Now it would be fighting against the Covenant. The very creatures who killed his Spartan friends, the beings who caused entire worlds to die, and the same enemy who Master Chief would have to protect thousands of other lives from. This time, he would make sure no one else he cared about died.
After about one minute, the lights flickered back to on. Private Louis looked hesitant, more so than before anyway. "The Covenant are much closer than I thought. Activating security protocol, the doors are locking." He paused. "Wait, the captain is established a private communication, patching it in."
"Bridge to Cryo Bay Two, send up the Chief immediately. This is priority one." Keyes strong voice echoed in the cryo bay.
Private Holmes turned toward the intercom. "Sir, we will have to skip the weapons diagnostics and I-"
"On the double crewman!" Keyes interrupted him.
"Aye, aye, sir." Holmes turned to Master Chief. "The skipper seems a little jumpy. We can find you some weapons later. Sam, you had been get to your Evac group."
"Affirmative. I just have to reset the computer and I am out of here." Louis said.
A heavy banging began pounding the door next to Private Sam Louis. It was the Covenant. They were trying to get through. Louis clicked random buttons to the intercom and asked desperately for the security team. By then it was too late, the Covenant smashed the door inward at Private Louis causing a large amount of sparks to arise in the room. When it all had cleared, two new figures were standing in the room.
Each was a biped shaped creature, at least eight and one half feet tall, and armored with either blue or maroon plating. A transparent blur hovered around both, they had full head shielding much like Master Chief's. Their helmets covered every part of their body but the turquoise eyes and multi-jawed mouths. Both Covenant soldiers made an equal impression when compared to with Master Chief; strong, fast, intelligent, and agile. These specific troops were known as Elites, mainly because they were the most dominate of the four discovered Covenant species.
They were carrying plasma rifles. Neon blue guns that possessed the ability to shoot bursts of plasma rapidly, thus melting or tearing through a portion of whatever it hit. They were leveling their weapons to Louis. Just one shot would end up in Louis's death, he was as good as dead.
Both Elites fired several rounds into the helpless technician. He fell to the floor with holes in his body ranging everywhere from top to bottom. Blood trickled on the station floor and making its way to the Elites. He had died before he even hit the ground, those ruthless monsters. Master Chief could see them rejoicing in their victory over the human by tossing his body to the other side after taking whatever valuables he had.
Private Holmes turned to Master Chief. "Come on, we have to get out of here," Master Chief stood their looking at the station where Louis just died. "Sir, we have to go now. The Covenant will be here soon."
Master Chief looked at Private Holmes and agreed. Both ran to the nearest door leading to the bridge. A hall with a think set of pipes lining it entire left side lead to another sliding door. This one was made of glass rather than purely metal, so it was clear to see the marines fighting in the distance. Holmes ran to the door and began typing in a series of buttons.
Something was not right. If the Covenant really wanted to catch both of them they would have been here already. Master Chief used one of his heads-up display options to zoom in on Holmes. The technician was vigorously working out the code to get through the door. That is not all Master Chief saw, a strange mechanism next to the door, it was not the locks, but rather a device counting down to something. No, wait, it was not counting it was scanning for movement. Once the doors opened. . .he had to tell Private Holmes.
Master Chief ran toward the private just before the sliding doors slide open. Seconds later, the device beeped long enough for Private Holmes to look at it. A explosion hit so hard at Master Chief was flung to the far side of the hallway. Holmes, however, was killed by the blast instantly. If Master Chief did not have his shields enabled, he would have died as well, no question about it.
He struggled to his feet while watching as the flames engulfed the entire area from where Holmes had been to were Master Chief had been standing. He would have to take a alternate route. Master Chief looked around the area and saw an open space in the wall where the pipes were being repaired. That was going to have to be his new path. He climbed between the pipes within the gap in the wall. The Chief had to get to the bridge, the Covenant would surely be after it next.
He ran to another door, an unlocked one, and continued down the small hallway in front of him. Halfway there the wall shattered as an explosion hit. Master Chief ducked to the ground and covered his head as the debris hit his shields. A thirty kilogram piece of the wall pinned him down, for a few seconds. Master Chief pushed against the wall and lifted it above him and threw the piece aside. He managed to reach the door leading to a storage area.
Luckily for him, the blast doors jammed before closing because of one of the previous explosions. He crawled under it and proceeded into the moderately sized room. A pair of marines were having a gun fight with a group of Elites. Master Chief ran to them and knelt down behind a metal barrier designed to protect humans from the plasma shots from the plasma rifles.
"Chief, thank God you're here. We have been stuck here for almost ten minutes trying to fight off these brutes. We could sure use a hand." One of the marines yelled to him.
"What I really need is to get to the bridge." Master Chief said.
"You won't get far with those punks shooting at us." The marine said. The marines handed Master Chief a standard pistol.
"If you both attack at the same time upon one of the Elites, I should be able to reach the blast door switch." Master Chief said.