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Well Enough Alone Part V - Waiting Game
Posted By: Ryan<meotadog@hotmail.com>
Date: 30 April 2002, 6:30 pm

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UNSC head-quarters: 50 km south of Los Angeles, California.
00:03 (The second day)

The doors to the office slid open, klaxons still blaring beyond the doors. Ryes led the way, stepping past confidential documents which were carelessly strewn on the floor. Commander James Moore followed closely, taking his seat facing the Admiral's cluttered desk. Ryes took her seat, swiveled to face Moore, and quickly leaned back; her arms now crossed impatiently.
"Nonsense... the Master Chief, not coming back? I find that highly un-likely, given his performance prior to; and following the battle of Reach. Please explain to me what in gods name you were talking back there."
"Seems to me Raul was playing us all for fools, his orders clearly stated that John:117 should participate on a search & recon mission. He was given the orders directly, I was not informed of any specifics. It has come to my attention that all three dropships involved were shot down, along with a Evac bird I sent in as a pro caution. I can only assume that he-"
"Alright. Assuming that number 117 has been... eliminated... What do you propose we do?"
"Vice Admiral Raul is our obvious target, ma'am. He's been a protestor of the SPARTAN project since day one - and now he's crossed the line. Though I'm of no authority, I'd suggest an immediate appointment with a court-martial."
Ryes sneered; she had offered her comrade promotion numerous times, all of which he had refused. Ryes thought about it quite often, Hell, He'd be Vice Admiral by now if he wasn't such a noble bastard...
Commander Moore was 44 years old, Ryes was two years his senior. Both had joined the military at the age of 16 - the youngest inductees ever during peace time. Debra Ryes was an Admiral's daughter, hence her early enrollment. What set her apart was an unusual relationship with a rather stubborn Marine; Moore. James had been inducted thanks to his father; a deceased military hero with more ties than red blood cells. The two had met onboard the small Frigate "Athens", 27 years ago.
Debra quickly stood, and marched towards the door.
"I'll send the order. As for you, James, I'm assigning you to one of our newer ships: The Alaska Territory. Expect to be part of a unique mission - one typically suited for SPARTANS. I'll get Cpt. Louis to brief you once you're on board. God speed, James."
"Same to you, Dragonfly."

UNSC Battleship: Uniden - En Route to intercept Covenant Assault Fleet
00:28 The Second Day

The bridge of the Uniden was larger than most, 25 ceiling-high consoles lined the room. Captain Rick Wong took his seat; a leather chair embrasened with the letters "United Nations Space Command: Uniden". His mind was a hive of worry, his palms were coated in a slimy layer of sweat, and his face was a pale white. Only five more hours and the largest Covenant Assault in human history would take place against Earth; and only a half hour remained before his ship was within firing range of the fleet.
The holotank on the bridge lit up, flickered briefly, and emerged a male AI with a striking resemblance to a cave man. Though he was technically a "smart" AI, the bridge crew referred to him as if he were the stupid variety; as his voice sounded very much like that of a metal retard. After glancing around the bridge for a few moments, the brain-dead AI turned toward the aggravated Captain,
"Engines holding steady at forty five percent, Captain. MAC gun charging... She'll be hot by the time we're ready," said Butch. It's creators - who died on reach - named him Butch for obvious reasons, such as the half-eaten slab of beef he grasped in his left palm.
"Glad to hear that, Butch. Continue as you were... there isn't much we can do, anyway."
"Shall I continue on our current course, then?," asked the AI with a particularly stupid look on his un-shaven mug, "I need to know what your orders are."
"I just gave you them, piss-head. Intercept course: aka: Suicide."
Butch seemed saddened by that, and let out a short whimper before vanishing into the Holotank.
"As you wish... meany...," sniffled out Butch through the holotank's speakers.
Wong tapped a small button on his chair's left arm with the word "AI mute" inscribed on it. The sobbing noise dissipated, and the bridge returned a dead quiet.

Covenant V-Wing fighter, 25 minutes distance from the Covenant fleet.
00:52 The Second Day

After a few atmospheric checks, the Master Chief was satisfied and removed his helmet. The cockpit was alarmingly cramped, not to mention purple. John had often wondered why the Covenant fancied that color like they did, but was given little opportunity to think about it. His job was to win, not to study. The buttons of the small craft were all foreign, just as all Covenant language was to John. Despite the comprehension barrier, John curiously tapped a few holographic buttons; his fingers crossed that one of them wouldn't be "eject". After a few useless taps, one button revealed a map of the entire area. Earth's solar system could be seen on the left edge of the map, as well as numerous colonies that he was familiar with. One stood out: Reach. His mind began to drift again, but quickly jutted back to the matter at hand - John saw something was very wrong with this map. A small distance from the dot indicating his current location, was a massive swelling of purple, moving at a very brisk pace - considerably faster than human cruisers.
That must be a Covenant fleet... no... it's too large! Besides, how could the Covenant have found Earth?
A few moments past as John pondered this. For one thing, that massive purple area must easily contain five hundred ships, which is more than humanity had left! It was settled, this was a Covenant fleet. John glanced down at the Navigation, and after a few seconds of complex algebra he had calculated a course. Imputing the course took a few more minutes, but the Fighter quickly burst to life. It's engines began to hum quite loudly, and the fighter jolted to life as it veered into slipstream space. ETA: 22 minutes.