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Halo: Siege of the Rings Chapter 1: Beta Gabriel
Posted By: The Wraven<nhmis@cox.net>
Date: 23 March 2002, 6:35 pm

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This is a story.
A story of journeys.
A story of battles.
A story of life.
A story of death.
A story of tragedy.
A story of destruction.
A story of humans.
A story of covenant.
A story of forerunner.
A story of earth.
A story of heroes.
A story of defeat.
A story of victory.
A story of halo.
This is a story.

Halo: Siege of the Rings

Chapter 1: Beta Gabriel

2300 Hours, September 4, 2552 (Military Calendar) /
Threshold system, orbit around planet Threshold

     "No. I think we're just getting started."
     "Is there anything you want? Food? Water? Rest?"
     "Yes. A covenant neck right between my two hands"
     "You want to know where earth is?"
     "You know?!"
     "Before we left Reach I stored the position of all remaining human systems on a distant data path, so that even if I was captured, it would be difficult for the cov..."
     "Can you take us to the closest one?"
     "That would be Beta Gabriel, but with this ship's lack of slipspace generators, it would take us 1295 standard years, ten months, six days and twenty hours to get to it. We need to contact a ship based there. Most of the ships in that area went to Reach to defend it after the covenant attacked. However, there were three frigates near finished construction: the Evening Sun, the Napoleon, and the Musket. They had no fuel, so they could not go with the other force. Their launch dates were set to be the three days after the attack came. They were not present at the battle when we left. Maybe they are still there. Would you like me to send out a distress call?"
     "Won't that give away our position?"
     "Well, yes. We could try getting back on our own engines. You could go into cryo..."
     "Point taken. Send a distress call"

0100 Hours, September 5, 2552 (Military Calendar) /
UNSC Evening Sun, defensive orbit around Beta Gabriel Prime

     It even haunted him in his dreams. His first command of a ship and he couldn't even take part in the battle for Reach. Captain William Stark just couldn't take it. It had to be his ship that didn't get filled up first. It had to be him that got left behind. By the time he was ready to go, the Reach had already been glassed. And the covenant were gone.
     Captain Stark sighed. Now all he had to do was wait for the covenant to come here. Or worse, Earth.
     "Captain Stark sir!" said his communication officer, Lt. McBradley
     "Yes Lieutenant?"
     "We have a distress call from longsword fighter number 23189 AC at coordinates 4872.5, 0104.3"
     "You know what to do. Send out a small transport to pick it up. Why do you need me?"
     "Sir, that longsword was stationed aboard the UNSC Cruiser Pillar of Autumn."
     "Yes, sir. I've checked my records 5 times, it doesn't make sense, but that's what the records say. Also, the signal says that there are only two survivors. Advanced AI construct Cortana, and, here's the biggie, Master Chief Petty Officer SPARTAN John 117."
     Stark was shocked. "When was this signal sent?"
     "About two hours ago."
     "Was it confirmed?"
     "Yes, by the Napoleon and planet HQ."
     "Get the Evening Sun ready. We're going to pick him up personally."
     "Yes, sir!"
     Captain Stark couldn't believe this. A SPARTAN. Alive. And he was the one to bring him back.
     His biggest question was what had happened. He had a few hours to go on the trip, so he could think. Surely, there were no Covenant left. An advanced AI construct can't send a signal to a planet that the Covenant haven't already found. It was against their programming. No. The Pillar of Autumn had to have destroyed at least twelve Covenant capital ships by itself. Maybe those modifications that had been installed on the Evening Sun were more than they seemed.

0600 Hours, September 5, 2552 (Military Calendar) /
Threshold system, orbit around planet Threshold

     The master Chief waited. Maybe they had taken Beta Gabriel. Maybe the ships were destroyed. Maybe they got Earth.
     "Chief, I have a ship on screen. Its silhouette matches a human frigate. Want me to hail it?"
     Maybe they were coming to pick him up.
     "Hail them as soon as they come out of slipspace."
     "Affirmative. ETA in 46 minutes"
     The Master Chief could wait that long. He had already waited a day. What's another...
     "The ship is coming out of slipspace, Chief."
     "You said 46 minutes!"
     "Yes, the ship seems to be faster than normal ships. If I could access ONI files here, I could have known earlier. Well, at least they're here"
     Greenish light began to gather and swirl as the frigate exited slipspace. The portal opened and out came...you guessed it...
     "Covenant frigate exiting slipspace!"
     "What kind of weapons does this thing have?"
     "Normal longswords are armed with twenty archer missiles, however, this on had ten taken away to allow for a miniature MAC gun. Its projectile was meant to destroy any Seraph in one shot. I don't think they'll be of any use against a Covenant capital ships. I don't know what to do."
     "Run dark until that human frigate comes. We can board and then go back to Beta Gabriel on that frigate."
     "But the Covenant will outrun us, find Beta Gabriel... glass it."
     "Not if I can help it. Arm all the weapons on this thing. As soon as our frigate comes out of slipspace, tell them to warm their MAC guns. Then transfer pilot control to me."
     "Will do, Chief."
     Ten minutes went by. The Covenant didn't see them. Twenty thirty. The Ship saw the wreckage of Halo. They went so close that the chief thought he could almost see the ships in the launch bay of the enemy frigate. Forty minutes. They were still safe.
     "Cortana, get ready." whispered the chief.
     Those last few minutes were the most tense. The chief could swear the ship saw him. It passed right over him heading away from halo. ETA in thirty seconds, he thought. Green light began to swirl around just like it had those long 46 minutes ago. But not because of the human ship, oh no. The Covenant ship was leaving. The ship seemed to stretch, condense, then vanish. No sooner had the Covenant frigate left, that the Evening Sun arrived out of slipspace right in front of them. Whew, that was too close.
     "Open a channel, Cortana."

0647 Hours, September 5, 2552 (Military Calendar) /
Threshold system, orbit around planet Threshold

     "See anything, Merlin?" Captain Stark asked his main pilot, Lt. Pearson, nickname "Merlin", from his working magic at the controls.
     Pearson had already been at the controls at four major battles against the covenant, including Harvest and Sigma Octanus. The ships he piloted had already gotten 7 kills, and none had gone down. Captain Stark was surprised that Pearson hadn't been given command of the Evening Sun. Well, at least he's on my ship, thought Stark.
     "Negative. Transferring lateral, forward and aft cameras to visual analysis computer now. All yours, Captain"
     The captain studied the display, nothing. Where was the longsword?
     "Sir! Receiving a message, sir! It's from the longsword!"
     "Put it on speaker."
     "I am Master Chief Petty Officer SPARTAN John 117. Requesting permission to be taken back to Beta Gabriel."
     "This is Captain Derek Stark of the UNSC Evening Sun. Permission granted. You may transfer you ship's controls to my ship so it can take you in. I've heard a lot about your kind, son. It'll be an honor to have you on board."
     "Yes, sir, captain. Thank you, sir."
     The longsword drifted slowly towards the docking bay. This frigate looked somehow...different to the Chief. It was the normal size for a frigate, about a fifth the size of the Pillar of Autumn. The shape was similar, besides a huge bulge in the middle, and the armor was the same, except for stubby antenna-looking things protruding like longitude and latitude markers across the hull, but it just looked...different. Hmm. As the longsword got closer and closer and closer, something strange happened. A yellow water-like surface rippled away from the docking bay entrance. This ship had the same king of shields that his armor did. That's what the bulge was for. Very nice.
     When he docked in the bay, there were people all around it scrambling for an honorable entrance for a hero. Some hero he made, he thought. Killing all those marines that were left on the ring. Not to mention failing Keyes and the rest of the crew. If they only knew what he had done. The longsword rumbled as it touched down. John could hear the cheers of some of the people there next to his ship. Then came a hissing sound as the ramp door slowly opened.
     "Master chief sir!" said an ensign. "Sir, the Captain wishes to see you on the bridge. He wants you to bring your AI, as well."
     Behind him he saw the same rippling effect that he had seen when the shields first opened.
     "I'll have to ask the UNSC engineers how they did that." Cortana whispered to John.
     The inside of the ship looked very similar to the Pillar of Autumn. Maybe it had some more of the special technologies the the Pillar of Autumn had, as well.
     The bridge, however, looked nothing like the Pillar of Autumn's. If Cortana was to fly this thing, she would have to take a while to get used to it. Instead of many different chairs in rows along the wall, there was on row of seats along the front of the bridge, with one large screen in the center, and on medium sized screen right in front of that. This ship was definitely more than it seemed. In front of the large screen, a man spun around to see john. He recognized the captain emblem and saluted.
     "Hello, Captain, sir!"
     "At ease soldier" the captain responded. "What is that wreckage out there?"
     Without a word, the chief took Cortana out and slipped her into the AI slot. At least that was the same.
     The display quickly turned to recordings, info and data about halo, all of which john knew too well. Finally, Cortana explained how they detonated the Pillar of Autumn and ended up here.
     "One Question, captain" Cortana said, "If the SPARTAN's mission was so important, why didn't the Pillar of Autumn get those shields?"
     "For two reasons. One: the technology would have made the Pillar of Autumn get almost totally rebuilt to get it. Second: these shields were designed a month after the Pillar of Autumn was selected, stalling your mission even further."
     "Okay. And Captain?"
     "Yes Cortana?" replied Stark.
     "May I Fly this thing back to Beta Gabriel Prime?"
     "You could probably do it better than me. Permission granted."
     "Calculating...done. I'm ready, captain"
     "Are you ready, Chief?" asked Stark.
     The Chief got on last glance at Halo and said "Let's go"
     When he got in the cryo bay and went under, it seemed a moment until he was being woken up again.
     "He saw the same ensign that greeted him at his ship ask him "Do you want to take a look at Beta Gabriel?"
     The chief almost jumped for joy. Of course he wanted to see it. He had heard before that it was more of a hot desert planet. He didn't care. Humans controlled it. It was paradise.