Halo: The Recovery: Part 2
Posted By: witelancer<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 23 November 2003, 12:24 AM
September 18, 2552
Epsilon Eridani system
In geosynchronous orbit over the former UNSC Reach facility
The Council of Prophets on board the Covenant cruiser Valiant conferred and withdrew to their discussion chambers. 'Nosolee's tracker had given them the location of the filthy human flagship-the Leviathan. The general impression of the Council was that any human ship was unworthy of such a glamorous title, and thus even the name of the human ship was an affront to the gods. Now, the Prophets would endlessly debate the benefits and risks of a frontal assault on the UNSC fleet, which would complete the slaughter of the human forces in the sector.
While the Council debated, the Covenant army was cleaning up what was left of human resistance on Reach. Although the Covenant's brutal "glassing" of the planet had killed most of the human fighters, small pockets of their "Marines" and "Naval Personnel" were holding out in the deep caves the humans had dug many years ago. Most of the Prophets heard this news and thought of the rodents that many Elites had hunted in their youth. How appropriate that the vermin hide like rats, thought one Prophet in particular.
The Covenant fleet, one hundred and fifty seven ships in number, orbited through the Reach system, searching for any human ship foolish enough to enter the system. Covenant dominance seemed complete.
September 18, 2552
Five thousand feet below the surface of Reach, in an abandoned titanium mine
Dr. Halsey paced back and forth relentlessly in one of Reach's many deep caves. They had once been titanium mines, but following the UNSC's conversion of the planet into a military base, the mines had been commandeered for use as research facilities and shelters capable of withstanding a hit from a thirty-megaton nuke. Now, following the UNSC's defeat in orbit, the few surviving UNSC personnel had crowded into the caves. Five hundred Marines of the 107th Airborne Assault Division had narrowly escaped the "glassing" of the planet's surface and were now desperately trying to keep from being discovered by the Covenant.
The chamber she occupied had once been an administrative office. The square, stone room had a few pieces of cheap premolded memory plastic furniture, and a powerful radio that used Mount Hathcock as an antenna. Halsey walked over to the gray radio box.
"This is Dr. Halsey to any UNSC forces. Do you copy?" she queried.
The radio spat back static. Of course, there's no answer, thought Halsey. No one even knows we're down here. They could care less, especially ONI.
Just as Halsey was about to turn off the radio in disgust, a sudden transmission burst from its speaker.
"Dr. Halsey! This is the Prometheus! Where are you?"
Halsey, who was astonished, ran over to the mike.
The Prometheus couldn't be here, thought the scientist. "We're in the caves under Reach, holding out as best we can. Can you lend us some assistance?"
"Uh... that's a negative, Doctor. Admiral Stanforth specifically ordered us not to pick any fights. We'll be back, Doctor."
"Prometheus! Listen to me! You've got to—"
The radio signal was cut. Halsey's hopes deflated once more. A sudden thud got her attention. She whirled around, half-expecting to see a Covenant Hunter behind her. But it was only Sergeant Richardson, head of this particular cave's security, closing the pressure door to the room behind him.
"Doctor? The Covenant are coming down the tunnel. I suggest we move as quickly as possible," he said.
"Covenant? Here? Already? Well then, let's get a move on, Sergeant!"
September 18, 2552
The very boundary of the Reach system
On board UNSC destroyer Prometheus
Captain John C. Jenkins watched as ten Seraph-class fighters dove towards the Prometheus's bridge viewport. The vaguely piscine fighters fired pulse lasers which struck the hull around the viewport with tremendous force. Jenkins' lips curled and then he cursed.
"Bridge to 50-gunners," he said into an open channel, "let them have it!"
The Prometheus brought its point defense system of 50 mm autocannons to bear on the Seraph fighters. The single ships exploded with nary a sound in the cold vacuum of space. Jenkins cursed again. Here we are, he pondered, on the edge of the Reach system, and the Covenant have already found us!
"Sir—the frigates are moving in," said his executive officer.
The Prometheus had been on the run ever since entering the system. Now, as she had approached the asteroid belt, two frigates had come out of Slipspace behind her. They had been moving closer and closer, trapping Jenkins between a rock and a hard place. He had no choice but to fight his way out.
"Guns: arm the MAC cannons and Archer missile pods. I want the missiles impacting with the heavy rounds," said Stanforth, "and make them good solid hits."
"Aye, sir. MAC capacitors at sixty percent and charging at the rate of two percent per minute," said the lieutenant that manned the weapons console.
"Navigation: set our bearing to 180 only after I tell you to. Guns: You may fire when ready."
"Sir! The Covenant ships have fired their plasma torpedoes!" exclaimed a junior grade.
"Hold steady. Guns, what's your status?"
"MAC capacitors at ninety, ninety-two, ninety-four, ninety-six, ninety-eight, full charge! Firing now, sir! Archer missiles away!"
Two thumps could be heard through the hull as two tungsten-carbide projectiles fired from the Prometheus's MAC cannons. Twin lightning bolts shot away from the destroyer, accompanied by hundreds of Archer missiles. The UNSC ordnance passed the incoming Covenant plasma torpedoes and smacked into the two frigates. The MAC rounds impacted, causing the shields flash and then implode. Huge, gaping holes appeared in their sides. Then, before the shields could come back up, the Archer missiles impacted, exploding in orange fireballs all over the surface over the cruisers. The Covenant ships detonated orgasmically, spraying the backdrop of space with orange fire and flame.
But the Prometheus wasn't safe. The frigates' plasma torpedoes were still inbound. The deadly energy weapons could eat through a destroyer like the Prometheus with no trouble.
"Navigation: take us into the asteroid belt! Use emergency thrusters to dodge the asteroids and plasma torpedoes! Reactors to one hundred thirty percent!" screamed Jenkins in desperation.
The lieutenant at navigation and the XO frantically and maniacally tapped commands into their consoles. The Prometheus rattled and swiftly turned around. The plasma torpedoes continued to hound the Prometheus like a pair of hungry predators. The Prometheus entered the asteroid belt, and rocks immediately began to pit and impact the hull. Using the chemical thrusters implanted at six different strategic hardpoints on its hull, the destroyer deftly dodged grinding asteroids. It slipped out from behind a monstrous, city-sized asteroid.
The plasma torpedoes did not. The weapons slammed into the asteroid, causing it to explode and shower the nearby asteroids with rock dust and little bits of plasma.
The bridge crew cheered and celebrated as the destroyer sailed free from the asteroid belt a few minutes later. However, they couldn't celebrate for long. Jenkins gave orders to return to Delta Hexanus. The destroyer accelerated on an outbound vector, tearing a hole in the space-time continuum and using its Shaw-Fujikawa translight generator to escape from the Covenant.