The Great Journey: Prologue - The Locklear Incident
Posted By: Random 14-Year-Old<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 12 January 2005, 6:49 AM
Corporal Locklear grabbed a can of C-7 off the dolly and dropped Dr. Halsey's crystal on the deck. He quickly covered the thing with the foaming explosive. It hardened to a stiff resin in a matter of seconds. Locklear grabbed a detonator, inserted it into the foam, and connected it to a timer.
Why had the doc given him this to guard? She said because the ONI spooks wouldn't have the guts to get rid of it if they had to ... would maybe even let it fall into Covenant hands. That made sense, but, at the same time, there was something not quite right with that explanation.
Locklear looked at the monitor and the pinpoints of light that now almost blotted out the stars.
He had his own reasons to blow this thing up—like not wanting to die in another space battle. Like maybe getting some payback for Polaski's death. The Covenant rat-bastards wanted it so bad? Well, screw them, too.
"This one's for you, Polaski," he whispered.
Locklear set the timer for three seconds, and punched the countdown. He dived for cover behind the robotic dolly and covered his head.
The brilliant flash of sapphire light was the last thing he ever saw.
--Halo: First Strike by Eric Nylund / Pg. 284
THE GREAT JOURNEY: PROLOGUE - The Locklear Incident
Admiral Danforth Whitcomb felt the pressure of the situation weighing down on him like a dense block of titanium-steel alloy. Dr. Catherine Halsey, who had been entirely trusted during the travels through space, had just kidnapped one of the Spartans and escaped to unknown locations. In addition, Corporal Locklear, for whatever reason, had blown up the most magnificent discovery in human history. And now he was dead. Worst of all, Whitcomb had just awarded the Master Chief permission to execute his suicidal mission. The admiral eyed the Spartans as they exited the Officers' Club, along with Sergeant Johnson.
"Damn it!" Whitcomb cursed, and hit his fist on the slender oak table. Lieutenant Haverson looked up from his silent pacing.
"There's something I need to tell you, sir," Haverson said. "Something that I didn't want the Spartans to hear."
"Why do I think that it's more bad news?"
"When I was investigating the crystal's explosion," Haverson paused and took a deep breath, "I didn't actually find Locklear's body."
Whitcomb didn't understand. "What do you mean? How can you not find the body of some lunatic that decided to blow himself up in the narrow corridors of this vessel?"
"I searched everywhere in the area. I even traced the corporal's path to the very position that he should have been in when the crystal exploded. But Locklear just isn't there."
"So, what exactly are you suggesting?" Whitcomb asked skeptically. He was a veteran in space warfare, but a hardcore ODST disappearing into thin air just wasn't feasible. "Locklear was squeezed into Slipspace, just like the crystal?"
"Unlikely," a woman's voice interrupted, and Cortana appeared on a holographic projector pad. "The unique qualities of the artifact wouldn't be able to 'crossover' into Corporal Locklear. Despite that, I can't help but thinking that the missing crystal and the missing corporal are in the same place. Wherever that is."
Whitcomb rolled his eyes and added, "And I can't help but thinking why you're such an eavesdropper."
Cortana smiled and took it as a compliment. "Also, I was wondering why you decided to keep this from the Spartans, Lieutenant?"
Haverson shrugged and replied, "They would be all over the case. I saw the way they were keeping something from us. I bet they even know about Halsey's agenda—"
"Lieutenant Haverson," Cortana grew irritated, "I agree that Dr. Halsey has betrayed us, more or less, but I believe that the Spartans are as clueless in the matter as we are. They aren't 'hiding something,' either."
"I guess you should know, huh?" Haverson retorted, "You've spent some time in the Master Chief's head, right? Know all his deep—"
"Please!" Whitcomb interrupted. "Right now we need to focus on getting to Earth before it's too late. We can't afford to spend time quarrelling over trust and whatnot."
"Actually," Haverson continued, "I think we should spend some more time investigating the true nature of Locklear's incident, which is why I brought up its true nature in the first place." Both the admiral and Cortana were surprised.
"I don't care how badly you want to give that artifact to ONI," Whitcomb said sternly. "I also don't care whether Locklear is floating in Slipspace, atomized in the air, or locked up in a supply cabinet somewhere on the Gettysburg. What I do care about, Lieutenant, is the safety of mankind's home world. Maybe once Earth is saved and the Covenant are burning in hell, we can look into Locklear's incident a little deeper. For now, I'm just adding him as KIA. You can tell ONI all about that crystal when we're home free."
Cortana changed colors to a deep green hue, and informed, "The Spartans are almost done preparing for their mission, Admiral."
"Yes, yes, their mission... I suppose you need to give the Chief that copy of yourself. Let's get down to the docking bay and make sure they don't die in Slipspace without getting a chance to slaughter some Covenant."
Lieutenant Haverson was disappointed, but he still went with Whitcomb to oversee the Spartans' preparations. He was convinced that there was a connection between Locklear's accident and Halsey's departure. And even if Haverson did have to wait until his return to Earth, he would eventually discover what it was all about. Accept the idea that the greatest discovery of humanity was lost in Slipspace? Not a chance.