Halo: The Recovery: Part 7
Posted By: witelancer<email@example.com>
Date: 25 November 2003, 7:29 PM
September 27, 2552
In geosynchronous orbit over Reach
On board the Blue Wind
Boronado whirled form the view screen to Thompson. "How much longer, Lieutenant?"
"Sir, with our present orbit degrading as it is, it will be two more hours, Captain."
The Blue Wind, for some mysterious reason, had been in the clear for the past hour or so. So far, the mission had proven to be relatively simple. The Covenant that were in-system had offered only token resistance. The Blue Wind had torn apart any Covenant ship foolhardy enough to engage it. A score of wrecked frigates, destroyers, and even a cruiser lay in the wake of the Blue Wind, either having been blasted apart by MAC rounds or knocked out commission with pulse lasers. This is too easy, thought Boronado. The Covenant were supposed to have more than a hundred ships in the system.
As if in response to the Captain's thoughts, Lieutenants Dirksen, Ford, the AI Diana all cried out, "Sir!"
Boronado spun around with startling speed. "What is it?" he asked.
"Thirty Covenant ships at bearing 020! They're already warming up plasma weapons!"
"Diana—reinforce our shields. Ford—set our own course to 020. Heston: arm a MAC heavy round. Dirksen: reactors to three hundred and ten percent. Activate the superchargers," ordered Boronado, surprised at how deftly he handled the crisis. The Captain actually felt like vomiting all over the bridge—yet he appeared to be very calm.
"Yes sir!" they all shouted.
The Blue Wind rotated on her axis to face the enemy ships. The rumbling of her overstressed fusion reactor could be felt through the floor of the bridge. Lieutenant Heston shouted, "MAC guns are hot! Firing now, sir!" as a trio of white-hot projectiles shot away from the Marathon-class cruiser.
"Heston: Archer and Shiva missiles as well. I want our pulse laser system to engage the nearest enemy ships."
"As you command, Captain."
The Blue Wind's Archer missiles fired out of their cylindrical canisters. The exhaust trails of hundreds of missiles twisted and snaked amongst the Covenant ships. Shiva-class nuclear missiles were fired. The boxy, square-headed missiles lanced straight into the middle of the Covenant armada. A miniature sun burst amongst the Covenant ships. Shields flared with EMP radiation. Many ships were simply disintegrated in the explosion. Other bounced around, losing their shields but not much else. As the UNSC cruiser knifed in towards the Covenant fleet, many of the alien vessels fired their plasma torpedoes. The red-hot weapons seemed to track the Blue Wind, impacting on the cruiser's shields. The shields diffused only a few of the torpedoes; then they cataclysmically failed.
"The shields have overloaded, Captain!" said Diana.
Boronado sucked in one huge breath and held it. Three more plasma torpedoes impacted on the Blue Wind's hull.
"Reactor is overloading, Captain!" screamed Ford.
The last thing anyone on the Blue Wind heard was the ominous sound of the three Mark Ten fusion reactors going to critical mass. A second thermonuclear supernova burst forth within the Covenant fleet. The blindingly bright ball of fire produced so much illumination that the Grunts on the surface of Reach saw a second sun. By the time the flame died out, there was only the occasional piece of shrapnel to greet any onlooker.
The Blue Wind had gone down—but it had taken thirty top-of-the-line ships with it.
October 3rd, 2552
Six thousand feet below the surface of Reach
The Elite kicked aside Sergeant Richardson's limp corpse and advanced on the cowering Dr. Halsey. The UNSC scientist huddled in the corner of a storage room, surrounded by the intermingled corpses of Covenant shock troopers and Marine bodyguards. She tried to stand and flee, but the alien fired his plasma rifle, knocking her down to the ground. She felt a sharp pain in her chest and she knew it was over. But she thought about Cortana, who was her very image, and she knew she would live on. She didn't even see the alien pull the trigger. All she knew was that there was only one hope for Earth and UNSC: Cortana and the Master Chief.
Sol system, in orbit around third planet, Earth
The Longsword tore a hole in space-time. Inside the cockpit, the Master Chief looked at Cortana and said, "It's nice to be home."
Stanforth's fleet lasted less than a week. Covenant forces attacked the Delta Hexanus system once more. The UNSC forces fought bravely but were hopelessly outnumbered. The Prometheus narrowly escaped destruction, and Stanforth was able to return home without his fleet. More of the Inner Colonies fell within weeks. The Covenant juggernaut continued on its inexorable march towards Earth.
Dr. Halsey died at the hands of the Covenant. No human was known to be left alive on Reach as of October 2552. The Covenant then destroyed the underground cave system, ensuring that any survivors would never be able to escape. The alien war machine seemed unstoppable.
And so, the only hope for Earth lay in a small, Phyrric victory in an unknown system. One Longsword interceptor returned to Earth, carrying one cyborg and his Ai construct—SPARTAN-117.
And so, the stage was set for a final battle as a Covenant fleet entered the Sol system.
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