Sea of Steel: Part Three
Posted By: Omniscient<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 02 August 2001, 5:23 am
Location: Aircraft carrier Alcatraz, somewhere on Halo.
The loud speaker sounded, "All crew to your respective briefing rooms. Repeat, all crew to your respective briefing rooms." A group of seals who had been transferred to the Alcatraz looked up from cleaning their weapons, puzzled.
"What do you suppose is going on?" said one of them. Apparently, no one had noticed the IT engine transport them from Earth to Halo. Everything seemed normal.
"Must be a drill," said another. "Hell, it's not like we need one. We've been getting three to four drills a week. Their over-drilling us. We'll be so used to drills, that we won't be ready for the real invasion when it comes! Oh hell, let's get it over with." He stood up and holstered his weapon at his thigh. Soon the others stood up and they jogged off to the briefing room together.
The ship felt like a circus on the inside, with people running every direction to get to the right room. The outside was still and quiet, however. No one had gone on deck yet. Patrick was waiting in the briefing room that had been designated for the seals, while the captain of the ship had gone to one of the larger rooms to instruct the main crew. There were exactly one hundred seals, from four different ships. They showed up in the briefing room in full stealth battle gear with pistols at their sides. Patrick greeted them as they entered the room and sat down in the arranged seats.
After everyone was seated, Patrick began his speech.
"As you probably all know, I am General Patrick Hall, in command of the United Earth Defenses against the Covenant. Gentlemen, what I am about the tell you, the reason you were called here, is going to seem unbelievable. Until you step outside, that is. Anyway, here is the story so far. A while back, we received the remainder of a human message from Halo. That message told of some secret device that Halo was housing. We assume it is of Covenant technology, however the Covenant show no sign of knowing where or what it is. In fact, they seem as clueless as we are. In the past month, both human and Covenant forces have scoured the surface of Halo in search for this device, both groups under the impression that acquiring this device will ensure their victory in the war. This is a race that the human marines were hopelessly losing." Several of the seals laughed at the slight emphasis Patrick put on "marines". "Gentlemen, this is a race we can not afford to lose. That is why we sent aid to the marines on Halo. That is why you are seated here today. No, this is not a drill. This is the real thing." He paused for a moment, some of seals seemed like they almost understood, but most were still lost. Then the four seal leaders, who had been informed of the IT engine and the mission to Halo, stood up and walked to the front of the room. Lieutenant Commander Ray Louis, leader of Alcatraz' seals was the first to speak. He introduced himself to the seals who had transferred from other ships, and then began where Patrick left off.
"When you step outside in a few minutes, you will see a new feature has been added to the horizon: a ring. On a clear day, you can follow that ring with your eyes until it vanishes behind the gas giant that it orbits. Welcome to Halo. You are the aid we sent to Halo, to help the marines in their search for this "secret". It wasn't easy for me, or any of the commanders you see before you, to keep this secret from you." He talked faster and louder, to drown out the comments and murmuring of the seals. "We know we directly disobeyed standard protocol: a mission like this should have been voluntary. But, it's too late now. We're here. Commander Griffith has some more details. Commander?"
"Thank you, Lieutenant," said Commander Griffith, in thick southern drawl. He cleared his throat and stared out at the gathered seals. They were impatient, anxious to know what was really going on. "Folks, I don't know what to tell ya to convince ya that yer on Halo. You'll just have to see for yerself. But before ya do, I have some orders. We are still fighting a war, remember. My group, all seals from the Barracuda, are to grab yerselves some flame throwers from the armory.... Nocturne, yer on rockets...." he checked the list that he held out in front of him. ".... Alcatraz and Alaska, you'll find some upgraded assault rifles in armory number two. Any, uh, questions?"
The room was silent. Maybe this was the real thing.
"Excellent," he continued. "Once yer armed and ready, mission details and coordinates will be transmitted to yer HUD. Yer first mission is to rendezvous with the remaining marine forces. So, grab yerselves some weapons, and head on up to the deck."
Meanwhile, the captain had changed his mind and decided to take the easy course and call all regular crew men to the deck, instead of meeting in the briefing rooms. He proved right away that they were, indeed, on Halo. The men were amazed by the magnificent view, the curve of the ring world stretching upward from the horizon on both sides of the carrier. They blinked for a long time. After half an hour of just standing around and slowly beginning to talk amongst each other, the captain got down to business. He sorted out the fighter pilots, the drop ship pilots, the gun crews, the missile crews, the radar and radio operators, and gave them all their respective orders. An hour later, when he had finished and the men had completely come out of shock and were able to move again, the seal teams emerged from below decks, fully armed. The first few to reach the deck stopped dead in their tracks, jamming up everyone behind them. Louis, Griffith, and the other leaders made their way through to the outside. Even though they had been prepared for the arrival on Halo, there was no way that they could have been ready to comprehend the full magnitude of it.
"Wow," said Ray Louis. "That is beautiful." They had been lucky enough to land in water, though not a very large mass of it, and the waves slowly undulated beneath them, more freely then on Earth. Perhaps there was less gravity? Louis thought of this, and he jumped. Nothing unusual. Felt the same as Earth. Griffith looked oddly at Louis, wondering why he just jumped into the air, but before he could ask, he saw that Louis was staring at something. Something in the air, slowly coming closer. They both turned and looked wide-eyed at each other. They were thinking the same thing.
Then a yell from a crewmen some ways off confirmed their suspicions, "Covenant inbound!"