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Halo: Siege of the Rings Chapter 2: Back to Work
Posted By: The Wraven<nhmis@cox.net>
Date: 30 March 2002, 7:27 pm

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1200 Hours, September 5, 2552 (Military Calendar) /
UNSC Evening Sun, returning to orbit around Beta Gabriel Prime

     "Captain?" Cortana asked.
     "Yes, Cortana?" he replied.
     "I'm receiving a message from Beta Gabriel Prime HQ. They say they want the Master Chief and I to go to the primary HQ debriefing station. It's encrypted, so it must be somewhat urgent. The only craft that I can see that is in your docking bays is our longsword. Permission to take it planet side?"
     "Granted. Just purge the ship's computer of all the files you downloaded to it, and release your safeties."
     "Searching...done. I'm ready."
     The Captain reluctantly pulled Cortana out of the AI slot. It had been so long since he could make AIs do the computation for him. Only on his first post as a navigation officer, had he the luxury of having an AI. But that was before they became so precious, before Harvest, before the Covenant. Those days were so different from now, he thought. Only isolated rebels here, some fanatic factions there, but otherwise, peace... and no Covenant. Still, there was hope. Maybe that gargantuan ring was the secret to all this. The writings on the walls, the strange technologies, and those mutated creatures could be a secret to undoing the Covenant. Then again, it could make them fight all the harder. Only time would tell.

     As the Master Chief scanned Beta Gabriel, he wondered how soon it would be until he could crush another pathetic Covenant life. He was also at the same time overjoyed to be back with his own species. He hadn't spoke to another humanoid besides Cortana since he met the monitor. What had become of that indestructible ball of deceit?
     "Master Chief petty officer SPARTAN John117 please report to docking bay 2 ASAP. Prepare for atmospheric entry to Beta Gabriel."
     It was easy for the master Chief to make it back to the docking bay. Besides the signs here and there, his advanced brain was a steel trap. It was a blessing around these UNSC ships. He could also vividly remember the deaths of his fellow SPARTANs that seemed so long ago. A blessing and a curse, he thought.

1230 Hours, September 5, 2552 (Military Calendar) /
Beta Gabriel, Planet Defense HQ

     "He's arrived, sir."
     "Good. Where is he?" asked Rear Admiral Frederick Hoodley.
     "He's right outside your office now, sir"
     "Bring him in, petty officer."
     "Yes, sir."

     The concrete bunker somewhat reminded the Chief of the Reach planet HQ. Now he would be debriefed for at least a month. He needed to fight. Every fiber of his being urged to crush the Covenant. A petty officer strode out of the Admiral's office with that familiar space walk. He used to be stationed on a ship. The Admiral must have liked him.     "Admiral Hoodley is waiting for you, sir."     "Admiral Hoodley" the Chief said.
     "Master Chief, you now know that anything you have witnessed between the Pillar of Autumn jumped away from Reach and now is strictly classified."
     "Yes, sir"
     "Now, I will need to see your AI construct, so that she can transfer all she knows of this encounter to the planet HQ primary AI. Oh, I almost forgot. Meet Kridilla."
     At that moment, a tall and slender red figure appeared on the Admiral's desk. He had armor-like silver skin on his arms, head and chest. It had no visible mouth, and the only other different spots were bright gold eyes on its face.
     The long arm pointed its finger out towards a slot on the desk. "Please insert your AI here." Said Kridilla in a high and resonating voice.
     John put the AI into the slot. He could hear the beeps from the information transfer. Kridilla' silver patches grew brighter as he received the information. Secretly, however, Cortana used her access to almost all files known to this AI. She was most interested in the shield technology from the Covenant. She only hoped he hadn't detected her.
     "Transfer complete." said Kridilla.
     "Good. Now, chief, we can get to business." Said Admiral Hoodley as he waved Kridilla to turn off. "Normally we would debrief someone who encountered something this important for weeks. However, you are too valuable to the UNSC. You will be put back into service as quickly as possible. Since you and Captain Stark seem to have taken to each other, and since the Evening Sun is one of the most durable ships in the fleet, you will be posted there immediately. Your first mission will be to..."
     "Admiral." interrupted Kridilla. "I think you should reconsider his launch destination. The ring he encountered is one of at 6 in the area known by the human species. They all can wipe out every human system. If one is triggered they all activate unless the activator device is not available to its monitor. The Covenant are currently trying to selectively use these rings to wipe out humanity. We need to stop them."
     "Tell Captain Stark, Kridilla."
     "Cortana?" asked the Chief.
     "I couldn't translate most of the information in my short time in the control room. Kridilla must have the whole planet's computer system's free space to translate it. I had no way of knowing."
     "We're going to have to accelerate your schedule. You leave now. Kridilla is already telling Captain Stark to ready the Evening Sun. Two more ships that were coming here to reinforce the planet's defenses, a destroyer, the Turpitz, and a carrier, the Yamato, will also assist you."
     "I've made the necessary arrangements. Permission to ready the sub-SPARTANs, Admiral?" asked Kridilla.
     "Granted. Get them onto Pelicans. The master chief will go up on one of the new longswords to be stationed on the Evening Sun."
     "Sir," the Master chief said, "sub-SPARTANs?"
     "Yes, Chief." The Admiral said as he removed Cortana and handed her to John.
     "Who are they, Admiral?" asked John.
     "They are the third wave of 45 SPARTANs who have not yet seen combat. They have advanced MJOLNIR suits equipped with shields. You will be their commanding officer, since you are the only live SPARTAN with combat training. You can choose your weapons here."

     The master chief had never seen the S2 FD Saber sniper rifle before. He told Cortana to put its specs on his HUD. Impressive. It could propel a normal sniper rifle projectile at speeds nearing mach 2. And it was half the size of an S2 AM. That would almost be enough to blow a hole through the hunter's armor. He might use it. That way he wouldn't have to tote that heavy Jackhammer around. Still, he could kill anything as long as he had a pistol and a shotgun. He picked one of each up and headed for the landing strip. There were three pelicans out there-fully loaded. The sub-SPARTANs. It might be amusing to see what he was like at that age.

1500 Hours, September 5, 2552 (Military Calendar) /
UNSC Evening Sun, defensive orbit around Beta Gabriel Prime

     "So let me get this straight, Cortana. Admiral Hoodley wants us to leave nothing but two frigates to guard the entire Beta Gabriel system?"
     "That's what he told us. Maybe they're getting more reinforcements from the Alpha system." Cortana radioed in from the approaching longsword.
     "You mean draw defensive starships away from Earth? Impossible. Only Admiral Stanforth himself could authorize that. And even he couldn't do that without the consent of the Earth Assembly. And you know how long they take."
     "All I know is that we are going to stop the Covenant from taking those rings whatever the cost." added John. "If the Covenant use those rings Beta Gabriel is destroyed anyway."
     "I guess you're right, Chief. By the way, your sub-SPARTANs are here. We're ready to jump to slipspace anytime."
     "Roger. Over and out."

0730 Hours, September 18, 2552 (Military Calendar) /
UNSC Evening Sun, en route via slipspace travel from
Beta Gabriel system to coordinates 5623.89, 8802.52

     "How much longer will it be, Cortana?" asked lt. Pearson."Shouldn't be but three hours from now.""Then why in the world did you get me up from cryosleep now?"
     "You understand that I have to go to the ground assault on the ring. You'll have to pilot this thing. I wanted to give you a few pointers. First, the Covenant want to use the rings, not destroy them. Therefore the best place would be..."
     "Inside the circle of the ring. And the Yamato needs to be protected, so we put it in between the destroyer and us. Furthermore, we can use the ground teams to transport the nukes inside the control rooms to shatter the ring so it will be unusable. To provide further safety for the ground..."
     "Okay, okay. Sorry for getting you up early." interrupted Cortana. It's about time to wake up the crew."
     "What about the you-know-whos?"
     "They've been up since two day ago. The Chief wanted to drill them in specific tactics to kill Covenant, and especially flood."
     "So the fate of humanity in one man and 45 children. Going against thousands of thousands of enemies. Not very good odds. For the bad guys."

     "Now, number 67, where do you shoot flood with a shotgun?" ordered the Chief.
     "Always shoot for the head, sir!" returned the trainee.
     "Good. I've taught you a lot over the past few days, but knowing isn't everything. Right after I found the flood, I saw marines running for fear away from the flood. A hardened helljumper was screaming and shooting at me like a paranoid freak. I've even seen one of them get so freaked he fainted. These flood are no joke. Like I've told you, their swing can almost down your shields in two swipes. Always stay as far away as you can."
     "But when you stay far away, what weapon should you never use, number 4?"
     "The S2 AM sniper rifle, sir!"
     "Cortana to master chief. ETA in one hour. Ready weapons and get to landing craft. Sensors show the presence of resistance."
     "Well, SPARTANs, it's our time to shine!" said number 67.

1000 Hours, September 18, 2552 (Military Calendar) / pelican bravo 34,
coordinates 5623.89, 8802. 52, orbit circling gas giant Source

     "Cortana, we're preparing to take off in our pelicans." radioed in squad leader Zachary number 67.
     "Be careful SPARTANs. The Covenant don't know we're here. We don't want that to change. They have our ships outnumbered. If they find us, you have no way of getting off. Stark out."

1100 Hours, September 18, 2552 (Military Calendar) /
Forerunner fortress world installation 006, (codename) halo

     The surface was way too familiar. The Chief stepped out of the Pelican and told Cortana to project a map of the control room and where to go from the exit to the tunnels. It looked just like the place where Foehammer had dropped him off weeks ago.
     "Got it, Chief."
     "Right. SPARTANs, we have armor support in the outside area, but these hallways are loaded with covenant. Don't worry, the vehicles are safe. The Covenant wouldn't use them if their lives depended on it. Time to get your first piece of actions, SPARTANs."
     The SPARTANs entered the first hallway. Nothing. However, they could all hear Covenant activity in the room.
     The Chief silently crept into the room. He made a hand signal that meant throw a grenade at this target. Suddenly a jackal caught sight of them. The chief made a waving down signal to confirm the order. Each grenade found its target. Ten grunts and jackals were down, but the elite's shields had held.
     "Black 67 and 65, take the blue elite behind the wall. The rest of you form a perimeter around the entrances to the center." the Chief said over the COM channel. "Cover me."
     One of the two SPARTANs sent to the cowering elite threw a grenade to force him out of his spot. Black 67 then opened fire with his assault rifle. The elite fired back. Black 65 jumped in front while black 67's shields recharged. The elite fell dead after twenty bullets in its abdomen. Meanwhile the other SPARTANs set up the perimeter trapping the two elites inside
     The chief with grace shot both with the shotgun's wide cone of fire. He then gave each a complementary pistol shot to the head. Area secured.
     They moved to the next room and spied a gold elite and ten spec ops grunts, but in the back of the room stood two hunters. All in all, 5 fuel rod guns to take out first. Time to put the saber to action.
     The chief lined up three grunts in his sight and pulled the trigger. Black 53 then used his saber to down one of the hunters. Just then, the fuel rod gun coupled with stray grenades of dead grunts exploded, killing two more grunts. By then the Gold elite had spotted them. Bad news. He picked up one of the plasma grenade of the dead grunts and threw it at the elite's plasma sword. He threw the sword at Black 53.
     "Duck!" yelled the Chief.
     The sword just barely missed and collapsed as it hit the wall and exploded. The Gold elite unslung a plasma rifle and shot wildly at the door. He was too late. Black 67 had already stuck another plasma grenade to his head. The elite charged toward the SPARTANs but was too late the grenade exploded while he was still fifteen feet away. The hunter's gun flashed-but there was nothing there by the time the shot hit the wall. One of the SPARTANs gunned down the remaining five grunts. The chief shot the other hunter in the head and back with a pistol. Then opened the door to the outside. He saw four scorpions, eight warthogs, and ten wraiths.
     More bad news.