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Halo Chronicles, Part 1: Contact
Posted By: Otokam<ueno@its.caltech.edu>
Date: 23 January 2000, 9:42 a.m.

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The ship's klaxons erupted in a desperate wail as the ship's sensors lit up at the sudden presence of the enemy fleet. The Pillar of Autumn was hurled out of formation by the artificial gravity wells created by the unfolding vessels. The Covenant had arrived.

The Captain, jolted out of her seat, stumbled to her hands and knees and sprang to action. "Status! What the hell is going on here!" But before anyone could respond, she caught a glimpse of the short range sensors, to be greeted by hundreds of red blips where there had been nothing but hard vacuum just moments before. "My God, they're everywhere!" she muttered. And then "Red alert! All hands to combat stations. Commander Freisler, what's our status?"

"Thumpers, sir! They folded right on top of us!" the X.O. replied, as the Pillar took yet another jolt. "Their graviwaves knocked us 67 cliks, 43 by 2 degrees. The fleet's been hit pretty bad!"

And on top they had. The Covenant had appeared literally inside the combined human fleet; the force that pushed aside the Pillar had rendered smaller, less fortunate ships on either side to pieces, as other vessels collided in the confusion. The Captain stared in horror at the sensor readings, which registered a human fleet three quarters the strength of what it was before the attack.

"Helm, get us back in there! We're not going to sit on our asses while the damned bible-thumpers tear our fleet apart! Tactical, target the nearest enemy and fire at will!" she ordered. The Pillar of Autumn turned straight for the heart of the enemy formation, long range batteries blazing. Once in range, her main guns opened on the enemy, joining the rest of what remained of the combined fleet.

As the captain waited in anticipation, the red dots began to disappear one by one. Suddenly, the bridge crew cheered in celebration. "We've scored multiple hits, sir!" cried out commander Freisler. "They're dropping like flies!"

The joy shortly turned to apprehension, however, as the tactical officer shouted above the clamor, "Captain, they're not shooting back!"

"Affirmative, sir," interjected the communications chief. "The entire fleet reports the same phenomenon. Not one of them Thumpers has fired a single shot at our friends. Like they all dropped dead or somethin'."

"Cease firing." The captain barked, even as the Pillar's forward batteries shot off a burst. "Hold your fire! Chief, hail the nearest enemy ship. Lieutenant Radoslav, what do your sensors tell us about these bastards?"

"Very peculiar, captain. The readings do not match any known Covenant profile. There are no signs of any weapons, or a communications device."

"Well that explains why they aren't acceptin' our collect calls." Chimed in the chief.

"Thank you very much, Mr. Connelly. Contact the rest of the fleet with our findings. Now Lieutenant, what else can you make of them?"

"From what I can tell," replied the Radoslav, "they appear to be... unmanned."

Just as he finished his thought, Connelly reported, "Incoming fleet-level transmission from the MCS Elysium, captain."

"Very well, put it through."

A slightly accented voice blared over the Pillar of Autumn's main intercom system, "This is the Lord Admiral Roberto Montgomery-Soleil of the Martian Confederation Dreadnought Elysium. This is a fleet-level order to retreat. The fleet's sensors have revealed the latest invasion by the treacherous Covenant to be nothing more than unarmed probes sent to disrupt our formations. We have suffered heavy losses to these cowardly assaults. We must fall back and regroup, before the main battlefleet arrives. I have uploaded the rendezvous spacetime coordinates into your navigational mainframes. Ah, yes. In addition, one of our casualties was the UES Themosticles, and along with it, our commander in chief, Admiral Halifax. I have now assumed total command of the fleet. Montgomery-Soleil, out."