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Halo Chronicles, Interlude 1.1; The Tyco
Posted By: Otokam<ueno@its.caltech.edu>
Date: 24 January 2000, 6:39 a.m.

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"And this, is only the beginning." A proud, confident Rudolph Montgomery smiled to himself as he stepped out of his personal transport, onto the red carpet leading to the steps of the now defunct Mars state house. The unmistakably red Martian landscape was as beautiful to him as any on earth. Troops from the 1024th orbital insertion legion of the Unified Earth defense corps stood at attention (council's compliments), while his personal bodyguards escorted him through the massive crowd that had come out to witness the arrival of their new ruler.

It was no secret that Montgomery had been pulling together his assets for the last year and a half. Many analysts had predicted a run for the presidential seat of the UESC, while others believed he was working to complete the construction of his own colony vessel, in direct competition with the council's already announced plans for a second interplanetary expedition. No one, however, could have anticipated Montgomery's next move. Under the tightest security, he met behind closed doors with representatives from the council's most powerful provinces (the North American Confederation, Greater East Asian League, United Africa, European Union, and the Inner Belt Mining Conglomerate), and with President Vikram Alexander Kumar, who had replaced Buend'a after the latter's retirement two years before. After a week of negotiation, Rudolph Montgomery emerged as the sole owner of Mars colony.

News of the unprecedented transaction spread like wildfire. Rudolph Montgomery, the nanofabrication mogul who had made hundreds of trillions off of lucrative contracts during the construction of the Marathon, had purchased the colony of Mars for an undisclosed amount. Within days of its announcement, his had become the most widely known name in the Sol system. The public was stunned, and the media were hungry. News stations all around Sol scrambled for interviews with the man of the hour, but Montgomery was still hard at work. His orbital factories had secretly finished repairing the last of the surviving CRISTs, and he and his entire estate were already en route to the choicest real estate on the red planet.

The public was confused. How did a man like Rudolph Montgomery get his hands on Mars? And what could he possibly want? Only the Unified Earth Space Council knew better than to ask questions. President Kumar and his staff were elated with Montgomery's offer. Mars had been a steady drain on the UESC treasury long before the third war, and after the successful launch of the Marathon, earth would have liked nothing more than to obliterate Mars from its collective memory. The council's apathy toward its derelict colony had become so great, even the once feared MIDA, realizing the futility of their work, phased itself out of existence. Future historians call Montgomery's purchase one of the most pivotal moments in humanity's interplanetary history, third only to the launch of the Marathon and the subsequent destruction of the Phfor empire.

His arrival had drawn millions of weary, famished Martian colonists in attendance. As Montgomery took his first steps, he felt a twinge of fear as he felt those millions of pairs of eyes watching his every move. As the main beneficiary of the Marathon's launch, there was much about him for them to despise. However, the mass was silent; Montgomery had acted so quickly and his moves were so unprecedented, the Martians were more befuddled than angry. In any case, years of famine, poverty and riots had left Mars too tired to act. Rudolph completed his march to the state house without incident. Mars, Earth, and all of humanity waited in silence as Montgomery prepared to speak.