Hawk Chronicles: Supplemental
Posted By: Vector40<email@example.com>
Date: 26 October 2001, 12:31 am
Chronicles of the ***Silver Hawks***
And now the matchless deed's achieved,
DETERMINED, DARED, and DONE.
-A Song to David, Christopher Smart
C.O. Third Fleet Marines
General Burmingham (FL)
"Silver Hawk HQ, Quaker Mountains"
Captain Banning, C.O.
END ROUTE (DISPATCH)
I'm responding personally to your query, because I think that nothing else would suffice. Rather than pawn you off on some junior officer or aide who doesn't have all the eggs, I feel obligated to answer this myself, in only in some vague hope of redemption.
Not just because I'm discussing matters so sensitive that if I gave it to my secretary I'd have to jail him for the remainder of the war.
First off, let me say something that I'll likely be repeating: I'm sorry. On behalf of the Fleet, on behalf of myself, you have my humblest apologies.
If anything that I say is to make sense, you're going to need the background. And, in this case, most of the background can be summed up with a single sentence:
We were trying to win the war.
In one fell swoop. As you know, the home of the Covenant, the centralized base that's home to their communications, control, logistics, and breeding programs, is housed in the downed (or more properly, landed) supercruiser Penitent's Oath. All previous frontal assaults, no matter how enthusiastic, have always met with utter failure when we've tried to take it. Why? Simply due to the space-class shielding, the sort of thing that's impenetrable to all but the most powerful capital ship armament. Our small arms, our artillery, the best of our ground-based forces just break against it like so much water.
The Mjolnir Project was designed to end all that.
You see, it was our crown jewel, our ace in the hole. It was going to chop off the head of the Covenant, clean up, and take us home, too, all in one blow. How? By housing the very latest in super-atmospheric weaponry, combined with the best shield-penetrating science our techs could come up with, and dropping it all on a mobile, armored platform large enough to carry it and tough enough to stand anything the Covenant could throw at it, short of pulling in the fleet from orbit and fire-strafing half the Halo.
It was called Thor's Hammer. We've been working on it since the beginning. Last week, the prototype—which, in this instance, is more or less the full build—went final.
And the day after that, we lost contact.
You know the rest, or most of it. We sent in Recon 7, the cream of our SpecOps division, to gather information and see what's what. Partly because one of our dwindling number of firebases had dropped out of touch—but mostly, because that's where we had hangered the Hammer.
You don't know it, but I just laughed out loud. It wasn't supposed to be black like that, you know. It must have made quite the impression. In truth, it was designed with a full active-camouflage hull. It can be just as easily be pure white. But that feature was never implemented.
Anyway, when we lost Recon as well, we knew we were in the shit, if you'll pardon my language. Not only were we ninety percent certain that the base had fallen, but the more honest among us realized that we were out of our league. If Recon couldn't handle it, we didn't have anybody who could.
So we sent for you.
So much for the facts. Now, you'll want to know—why weren't you told?
Damn good question, if you ask me.
It's true that we were technically justified in withholding what we did. Your men and yourself have absurdly high clearances, but a full-bells Fleet Secret badge—well, let's just say that there's only about twenty of them in all of SolCore. So we had the legal right.
But if we weren't quite so half-assed, it would have clicked that maybe, just maybe, sending you to do our dirty work gave you the need-to-know.
I've already dismissed a dozen of my cabinet brass over this. Don't shed your tears for them—they didn't know their stars from holes in the ground.
Okay, let's get down to brass tacks. You raised some specific points in your letter, and I'll endeavor to answer them.
First and foremost: To our credit, no, we were not aware that the Hammer was active. As far as we were aware, the keycodes were still encrypted, the hidden hanger was still—well, hidden—and the warm-up sequence couldn't be initiated by anybody beside me, my XO, the base's commander, or the lost ship's AI, Cortana.
But it was. We still don't know how.
And as it happens, the matter is mostly academic.
You destroyed it.
Continuing: The ship was, indeed, intended to have a full suite of sensors and pickups—but, again, at the time of its testing, the only frequency active was infrared. And here too, I don't know anybody who was aware of this fact but myself, my lead tech, and the destroyed AI.
The weapon you were inquiring about: It's something, isn't it? We called it Lightwind. You make the fifteenth person ever to have seen it fire, including your team. Truly beautiful. One thousand megajoules delivered, coherent and nondrifting over a period of one second. Not lightspeed, but damn close.
The development team is going to have a shit when I tell them about your man's trick, though. We knew it could be broken relatively easily... but to disperse it, all the way to the component white light, so far down the spectrum as to be harmless, with a simple fire cloak? Amazing. Absolutely amazing.
As for... well... Let's just say you found the ship's one weakness. We never thought it was a liability—a phased light charge, directly down the muzzle, at the very instant of amelioration? It was always POSSIBLE, but it was considered more likely that the ship would be sucked into a spontaneous black hole at the moment of its launch. No joke.
David Armstrong is recovering, from the jungle bug and from blood loss. All of the Recon team sends their regards. Lieutenant Carpenter says to say that he looks forward to working with you in the future.
Said it rather ironically, too, and irony's scarce in that boy. What'd you do to him?
Your polite request that we revamp security in our intranet has been taken into consideration, and the sarcasm that accompanied it, duly ignored.
The unexplained disappearances of our field teams has dropped down to one half of one percent, the usual "accepted" number for such things. I don't know where they get these numbers, but I'll go with it.
Your special circumstances fee has been transferred, with a bonus, to your account. I'd give you a busload of medals as well, but that can wait until we're off of this spinning wagon wheel.
In any case, Captain, I want to thank you again, and to wish you the best of luck. I hope that we'll be able to collaborate again in the future. I'll try to make sure you're kept up to date on the most recent news from the front—you keep me attuned to the readiness of your force. Rest up.
And never forget what you've done.
General Sorenson Burmingham, Fleet Grade, *5*, Third Marines.