A Second Last Chance: Book 1, Chapters 1-2
Posted By: Torch99<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 12 June 2002, 10:08 pm
There is one small difference between this story and how it follows Halo. For the purposes if this story, 343 Guilty Spark is the leader of the Flood.
As a first time writer, I would really appreciate any and all feedback on what I have. Tell me what you like, and also tell me what you don't like. Thanks for reading!
Book 1: A Second Last Chance
Chapter 1: Contact
"...No, I think we're just getting started."
SPARTAN John 117 uttered these words and removed his helmet to see the destruction of Halo free of his visor.
"Chief, we should get you into hypersleep soon. You've been awake for over 36 hours, and those were some pretty stressful hours."
"Yeah, I probably should. We need to get the nearest colony, Cortana. It is absolutely imperative that the Flood—" started the Chief.
"I know that, Chief; I've already set coordinates for Sigma Amplon, the nearest colony. I've also already sent a subspace message to Moonbase Curtillian on Pluto. The fleet should get the message soon, and we should get out orders awhile after that."
"Okay, that's good enough for me," the Chief said. His training had taught him to go long periods of time without sleep to maximize his efficiency, but even super soldiers had their limits.
The Chief entered his chamber on the small Longsword and soon was in cryosleep. Cortana, plugged into the ship's computer, went about the business of maintaining the ship's systems. While she did this, she pondered. She pondered about humanity's chances. She pondered about the strength of the Flood. She hoped it was a moot point; they should've been wiped out by the explosion of the ring and the Pillar of Autumn.
She pondered for hours and hours. She lost track of the time, as she had no real use for it. But then the silence of her thoughts was interrupted by a small blue light shining systematically in the middle of the console. It was home.
"Longsword 71, 71, this is UNSC Moonbase Curtillian, we roger your distress. Is anyone there? Longsword 71, is anyone there, please respond."
"Curtillian, this is 71, I read your transmission," Cortana spoke.
"71, report your status, this channel is secure."
"Curtillian, I need to speak with the commanding officer of that installation. I have information for Level 5 Security."
"71, it is not the procedure of this base to trouble the commanding officer during this hour; he's sleeping. I will have to be sufficient. Proceed."
"You go tell your CO to get his ass on the link, because I have information that could quite possibly be vital to the long term survival of the human race," Cortana stated harshly.
Maybe it was the slow night, or maybe the Com officer believed her, but something enticed him to go wake Colonel Treeling. The Colonel was pissed, as he was never to be woken when he was sleeping. But with the "safety of the human race at stake", he rose to find out more.
"Hello, Longsword 71, state your business," he said gruffly.
"Colonel, does the word Peloponnesus mean anything to you?"
At this, the Colonel suddenly perked up and was no longer tired. He motioned to his Comm officer to get on a link with Earth. "Yes 71, I believe the Peloponnesus was where the ancient Spartans lived, was it not?" he said not too quickly.
Cortana then knew that the Colonel knew about the SPARTAN project, and was one of a privileged few. Her asking of the question let him know the same thing.
"Yes, it is. I assume you are the commanding officer there. I need a link to Earth, a direct one, and I need it now."
"Roger that, may I ask your designation?"
"Cortana will be just fine," she answered. "UNSC will recognize me."
The Earth link was established quickly, and many Military Council members were able to be present.
"Okay, Cortana, we've got you. We thought you were dead. I'm assuming you have good news then!" an older sounding voice cackled across the channel.
"Analyzing. I am speaking to Admiral Tock, is it not?" Cortana told more than asked.
"Yes, that is true, Cortana. I am here along with almost the entire Military Council. Please tell us what happened. The last word we got from that battle group was that the Autumn was the only ship left, and the last remaining SPARTAN. We were unable to ascertain the slip coordinates, and have heard nothing since, until now. We feared you and John dead."
"No, not dead, but not far from it..." Cortana said. She recounted the entire two days, beginning with the battle near Reach, and ending with the destruction of Halo. She left out a few details which were better suited to be revealed when they were talking face to face. There was something about talking on a link that made it so impersonal. The graphic details and extreme possible danger humanity was in somehow didn't reflect its true severity on an audio link.
Cortana finished. The Council didn't interrupt her at all for two reasons. One, they wanted to hear the situation as quickly as they could to start planning. Second, they were utterly astounded by what they heard. The sheer dynamics of it were mind boggling. They were completely silent for a minute after she stopped talking.
"Admirals?..." she interrupted.
"Yes, Cortana, we're still here; just trying to take it all in." Admiral Hacket said weakly. "Cortana, give us a few minutes to ourselves, would you?"
"Affirmative, Admiral; standing by."
The link was placed on hold while the Council members started talking. All of them had gathered now. Members from all branches of the military were present, including the all but obsolete Terran Air Force high commanders. Order was brought to the hustle and bustle by Brigadier Admiral Troy.
"Gentlemen and ladies, given the news just received, let us discuss possible plans of action."
All the officers looked around at each other. Since Cortana, the newest and most advanced breed AI created, was incapable of reprogramming, all information she provided was the absolute truth.
Tock, after glancing at all the men and women around him in their multi-colored uniforms and seeing the approving answer in their eyes, spoke first.
"I assume we are all in agreement that we all know what must be done." One by one they nodded in assent. Rear General Longtak spoke next.
"Do we want to wait for them to reach our outermost colony? Or do we act now, with them still out there?"
"They're still susceptible to Covenant. They're gonna want to know where their cruiser went, and they're gonna follow. I, for one, move to mobilize now," Lt. Col. McBride chipped in. He was well respected as a brilliant tactician, and he knew he held weight. He had commanded the UNSC fleet at the battle of Nuh-Grange where UNSC forces outnumbered 1.5 to 1 defeated the Covenant fleet. This was due in part to skilled pilots and tact, but also that the Terrans acted extremely swiftly, so much that the enemy was not able to react quick enough to form a planned retaliation.
Troy was silent, pondering, making mental lists of pros and cons of acting with swiftness. The pros outweighed the cons. He switched the comm signal on.
"Cortana...can you reach these coordinates I'm sending you?"
"......Yes, it'll take us a while, but we can do it within 24 hours. These Longswords don't have slip capability."
"Good. You just worry about getting there. We'll have some people there you and the Chief might be interested to meet...."
Book 1: A Second Last Chance
Chapter 2: Congregation at Martonis
22 hours later
Task Force: Tranquility
Orbit Above Martonis
Designate: Class III Ice Planet
Captain Sammons looked out the huge bow windows at the planet below. From space, it looked like nothing more than a white ball of ice. Space didn't lie. His battlecruiser Adonis was at the head of a massive fleet of destroyers, cruisers and battlecruisers. This task force had two assignments. The first was a predetermined one to recon a location where there was evidence of large-scale Covenant mobilization. The operation, coded "Blackbird", was not primarily seek and destroy. It was "loose recon", which meant they had orders to engage if necessary. The second objective was a recent assignment, very recent. Sammons had gotten orders direct from the UNSC Council Chief of Staff. Sammons was one of the only persons aboard that knew of it. He was carrying secret cargo.
As the SPARTAN program was coming to a close, the UNSC Council decided to store a small contingent of SPARTAN warriors on Earth. It was implemented in case of a situation like the one that befell Reach. Better safe that sorry.
Now with the threat of the Flood, these super soldiers were heated up and ordered to the front lines. There were eight of them. Together with the Master Chief, there were nine. However, that was not all. For the past two years, a select group of the finest colonial marines had been enrolled in a secret training program personally led by the UNSC Battle Tactic and Maneuver Specialists. These select few participants learned how to better fight the Covenant in all terrains and situations. Special armor was constructed for the graduates which was twice as strong as the standard marines'. It was also specifically designed to be more resistant to the energy weapons the Covenant wielded. Like the MJOLNIR armor, this type had an onboard computer that regulated various aspects of the armor. It had environmental settings, and a stronger metal alloy that allowed much better heat resistance than the standard issue. Their helmets had infra-red capability that could sense the heat signatures the stealth Elites left.
ĘThey had many test trials to prove their skill, and only the ones who had passed the rigorous tests remained. In the entire program, there were three full companies that were battle ready, and another dozen or so in the making, but they were not even approaching completion. For this mission, two full companies were traveling, with the third to remain on Earth, just in case.
The fleet made a stop to deploy the marines under the guise of intense training on the iceworld. In one of the Longswords sat the eight SPARTANs. The rest of the 288 marines came down in twelve Longswords, plus multiple cargo-modified Pelican dropships with mostly Warthogs and even a couple Scorpion Tanks. They arrived at a small base with minimal structures. A battered Longsword was present, and a 7-foot tall giant with camo green armor stood with arms crossed in front of it.
The Hoplites (the title of the graduated marines) gathered in front of the Chief and were silent. They recognized the supreme authority he held. After the ranks had been assembled, the other SPARTANs came up behind the Hoplites and stood. Cortana and the Chief had been told about the new super soldiers from the Council, and were expecting them, but in the deep ranks of Hoplites, their large statures were barely visible.
The Chief wanted them up there with him. "Would the following soldiers join me up here: Caesar-Diablo, Tiberius-Beast, Crassus-Spitfire, Brutus-Suicide, Claudius-Sinner, Titus-Icewind, Magnus-Warhawk and Clonus-Accipiter."
They walked up in a single file line. Caesar was first, clad in silver hued armor. Tiberius was visible in red, Crassus in blue, Brutus in black, Claudius gold, Titus was teal, Magnus had indigo and Clonus in purple. The purpose of the double name was simple. On an extended mission, the SPARTANs had been given two interchangeable names to confuse any enemy who was observing or survived. It was assumed that the Covenant were capable of listening in on all un-encrypted channels.
The Hoplites were to the point of stupefication. Nine super soldiers all assembled in their glory; how could this task force lose?
The Chief briefed all on the situation, getting right to the point. He must maximize time efficiency to curb any Flood threat. He had a bad feeling they were already on Basis from Halo, and he wondered if all of Halo had been destroyed by the blast from the Autumn.
The Hoplites numbered 288. One company was 144 soldiers. These were further divided into platoons. Platoons had 36 troops. Each platoon has three squads, numbering twelve. They boarded their ships with the promise of intense and perilous battle.
The SPARTANs were on the lead Longsword, and the journey had taken a little less than a day. Two days had passed since Master Chief left the ring world. He hoped they hadn't reached Basis, the moon orbiting Threshold. He hoped to God they hadn't gotten anywhere else.
He opened all channels. "This is the Master Chief. As we speak, Cortana is scanning for a beachhead location. When we land, even if cleared, assume that a shitload of Covenant or Flood will be there."
"Ready Chief, I found some coordinates. They aren't fully cleared; I'm reading the closest signatures less than a kilo away from it."
"Okay people, listen up! We have an LZ. It's got some cover, but it ain't fully cleared, so lock and load. The enemy might have some air support, so I will be going in first with my squad. Radio will come when it is clear," Chief transmitted. "Rogers" flooded the air back to him.
"Chief, do you think they really escaped?" Cortana asked.
"I don't know what the hell to think anymore. Could be Flood, could be Covenant. Could be goddamn animals! All I know is I got both weapons loaded and a full load of grenades."
"When we get down there, employ defense pattern Sigma." Chief said. The others nodded in unison. The ship began to rock violently as they entered the atmosphere. It wasn't long before the familiar zap-zap-zap of plasma was heard and felt hitting the ship. Luckily, the Terrans had not been expected.
The Chief shook his head, suddenly angry. "Fuck!" he exclaimed and pounded the wall next to him. Crassus, at the controls, yelled back to them. "Hold on fellas! I got multiple hostiles"—plasma streaks toward cockpit and melts most of windshield—"extremely pissed hostiles! Impact in ten, nine.........three...welcome to hell, SPARTANs!"