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Halo Echo by Andrew Werth
Halo Echo: Chapter 1
Date: 10 February 2015, 5:04 am
In 2517, Dr. Catherine Halsey kidnaps seventy-five children for the Orion II project. After the augmentation process, thirty-three Spartan super-soldiers remained. Unbeknownst to Dr. Halsey, six others survived the augmentation process. They were handpicked by Admiral Margret Parangosky to be her personal special ops force. Codenamed Echo team, they would be used throughout the insurrectionist war as well as the Human - Covenant War. At the conclusion of the war, Echo team was just as valuable, aiding in eliminating any and all threats to the fragile peace that was in place. Now under direction of Admiral Serin Osman, Echo still leads harrowing missions into enemy territory, all for the protection of the human race.
Date: April 2558
UNSC Reaper of Souls (ONI Prowler)
Location: Classified (Somewhere in covenant controlled space)
Deep within Covenant held space, The UNSC Reaper of Souls shadows the Covenant Fleet of Indignant Retribution. The Reaper's cloak masks their presence as they search for their target. The Reapers crew seeks the fleet's flagship, more importantly the commander of the fleet, Lat 'Onis. During the Human-Covenant war, 'Onis commanded a battlecruiser in the Fleet of Righteous Purpose. He took part in many engagements including the glassing of Reach. After the Great Schism he joined the Servants of Abiding Truth in an attempt to reunify the Covenant by eliminating the Arbiter and quieting his supporters. "We've located him sir," exclaims the sensor officer. "Very well, have Echo team report to my ready room," Captain Jones responds. Captain J.P. Jones is a career naval officer. He joined the service toward the end of the Human-Covenant war and was offered a position with ONI upon his graduation from the Naval Academy. He is one of the youngest ship commanders in the fleet but has proved himself worthy many times. He is known as daring and bold in his attacks but very mature in nature. He enters the ready room as Echo team has already assembled. At the desk is a holo-projection of the covenant carrier as well as Echo teams A.I. Samantha. Captain Jones addresses echo team, "I know you men have been asked to do a lot, but I have another tough one for you. Tensions between the UNSC and what's left of the Covenant have been strained to say the least. A week ago a civilian transport was attacked by a Covey cruiser. That cruiser was tasked by The Fleet of Indignant Retribution. The carrier Bringer of Truth is the fleet's flagship. On board is the Fleet Master, Lat 'Onis. He is to be captured and brought back to The Reaper. ONI believes he is trying to reunite the splintered Sangheili tribes so he can reform the covenant. This mission is of the utmost importance and must not fail." Captain Jones turns to Echo team's leader, Aaron, to continue the briefing.
Commander Sierra 012 Aaron rises to his feet to address his men. Aaron is the epitome of a spartan. He is a crack shot and an ace pilot. He's a brilliant tactician and a natural leader. All though equals, the rest of Echo team has always looked up to Aaron. While a superior soldier, he has suffered from a lack of respect toward authority and has been, at times, overzealous in battle. These traits that have garnered the ire of his ONI handlers have endeared him to his men and created an unbreakable bond amongst them. Aaron addresses his team, "We know the current path of the carrier and have spotted a debris field close to their current trajectory. We will leave on booster frames and be sent adrift in the field. Once the carrier has passed we will follow behind in their wake and land on the ship making our way to here," pointing to a hanger bay door on the schematic of the covenant carrier. "We will enter the carrier and find the nearest computer terminal. Samantha will locate 'Onis and we will pick the quietest way to him. We will do all we can to avoid contact till the target is secure. Make sure everyone has one silenced weapon on them. Once the package is secure, we radio Reaper for pick up. We will make our way to the nearest hanger bay and grapple gun out on pelican 2-niner, any questions." Jack looks to the commander, "What kind of resistance are we expecting?"
Sierra 064 Lieutenant Jack is Echo teams second in command, a rock solid officer and an even more loyal spartan. Jack was originally the leader of Echo team. In their first engagement, Echo team was surrounded and Jack froze in the moment. Aaron stepped up and led the team to safety. From that moment Aaron has led Echo. Though uncomfortable at first, Aaron and Jack learned to coexist and Jack accepted his role as first officer. "Resistance will be heavy. The fleet is a full battle fleet with ground forces and special ops. There is also an unknown amount of Zealots on board the carrier. The less attention we can attract, the better," Aaron responds. Echo team's pilot Vince chimes in afterward, "Those engines are going to be throwing off a lot of heat. Will our shields hold long enough?"
Sierra 077 Vince is the ultimate pilot. He can fly or drive anything better and faster than any other human. As long as it has an engine, he can pilot it. He has a very cold and rough personality. Some of the ONI doctors worried about his inclusion into the spartan program fearing a mental instability. This trait was exactly what Admiral Parangosky liked most about Vince. He would be willing to take on any task without as much as a second thought. Aaron informs the team "We will use the power from the Gauss cannon to boost our shielding, trading fire power for defense. The boosted shields will have enough strength to make it through to the ship. Any other questions?" asks Aaron. The team nods in agreement and with their mission clear, Echo makes their way to the hanger bay. A silent calm washes over the team as they focus on the mission at hand, knowing the danger the lies in front of them.
The Reaper makes its way to the debris field and de-cloaks as Echo exits the hanger bay and takes their positions. Before long the covenant fleet streams past and Echo team begins their pursuit. The ride up to the carrier is rough. The heat being thrown off by the carrier's engines is immense, the small booster frames getting thrown around like dice. Echo manages to maneuver past the engine blast and up to the hanger entrance. The booster frames land with a thud as the magnetic landers suck tight to the hull of the covenant carrier. The team exits their boosters and approaches the hanger door. Aaron and Evan peer into the bay.
Sierra 016 Evan is Echo teams Scout/Sniper. He's an expert marksman and an extremely stealthy scout. He has always been the pretty boy of the group. Blonde hair and blue eyes have made him quite the ladies' man, and gotten him plenty of ribbing from the rest of the team. He and Aaron have developed a good friendship over the years. Anywhere Aaron would go, Evan would be right at his side, earning him the nickname shadow. Evan peers into the hanger to reconnoiter the situation. Evan informs Aaron, "I've got two grunts guarding the entrance. They're sleeping." Aaron smirks, "Lazy little sloths. Take them out quietly." Evan pulls out his silenced magnum pistol and activates is active-camo. He enters the hanger bay and slides up to the two sleeping grunts. He pulls out his knife and plunges the blade into one of the grunts skulls. The other grunt awakens, startled as Evan de-cloaks and lands a single headshot directly through the cranium of the second grunt. Evan signals the rest of echo with the distinct six tone whistle of Oly Oly Oxen Free, or all clear. The rest of Echo team enters the hanger bay and Aaron makes his way over to a terminal near the doorway and plugs his A.I. chip in. Samantha pops up and begins searching.
Samantha has been Echo team's A.I. for two years now. Commander Aaron carries her in his helmet but she is able to monitor the entire team wirelessly. She's blonde with reading glasses and a British accent. She has a bit of a sassy elegance to her. She was cloned from a doctor that worked for Oni several years earlier. Samantha runs a quick search of the ship and locates 'Onis. "I've got him. He's three decks up and eight sections forward. We can take a service tunnel up from here and there will be a corridor on your left. We can take that all the way forward. I'm marking a waypoint now. Pull me commander." Echo deftly moves forward through the ship, taking out several guards and sentries along the way. They approach the door to 'Onis's quarters and prepare to move in. The door pops open and the team rushes in like a gust of wind. They move so quick that 'Onis is on the ground and cuffed before he even realizes what has happened. Aaron orders Ryan and Silas to secure the prisoner for transport.
Sierra 032 Lieutenant Ryan, Echo team's intelligence officer, is Echo's resident genius. He can hack into any system, human or covenant. He is also Echo team's medical officer and engineer. If Echo team needs to destroy something, he knows just where to hit it. He's the youngest member of Echo, making him the "little brother" of echo.
Sierra 091 Silas is one of the biggest spartans on record at 7'4" and 325 lbs. His specialties include heavy weapons and hand to hand combat. Off the battlefield he is a gentle giant with a heart of gold, on it, he's a ferocious fighter and as loyal as they come. Aaron depends on him as Echo's rear guard. His favorite tool of destruction is the shotgun that he commonly wields. Aaron radios back to the ship, "Reaper, we have the package and are moving to extract." Captain Jones responds, "Roger that Echo, pelican 2-niner is on standby."
Echo moves through the narrow corridors towards the extraction point when they are confronted by a squad of jackals. Aaron shouts, "Hostiles forward, weapons free." The team opens fire as a hail of bullets makes short work of the overmatched foes. Echo hastens their pace now as the entire ship is awash with the sound of alarms. The entire ships garrison has been alerted to their presence. It won't be long before more trouble is headed their way. About fifty yards from the hanger they encounter a large group of twenty covenant soldiers. Echo splits, taking cover in doorways. They begin working through the hostiles, gunfire ringing throughout every nook and cranny of the hallway, as they take out their foes, one by one. "Watch the right side Vince. You've got two coming up," warns Aaron. Vince turns his pistol and drops two grunts with two precise headshots. Two elites charge toward the team. Aaron signals to Evan, "Two on the left moving up. You got them?" Evan trains his sniper rifle on the two approaching elites and lets two shots fly. The 114 mm ammo screams through the air as both rounds hit their targets. The squish of flesh and crack of bone ring out as the two elites drop dead in their tracks from two bull's-eye head shots. Echo clears the hallway and guardedly approaches the hanger bay door.
The door opens to fifty plus covenant waiting as they enter the room. The entire team fans out like a tidal wave, rolling up the enemies as it crashes upon them. "Three coming up the middle, Ryan watch the prisoner. Silas, come up to support!" Aaron calls out above the fracas. Silas steps to the forefront wielding his M90 shotgun. With three mighty blasts he drops the three sword wielding elites in succession. Their corpses fall to the deck with a thud. Jack signals Aaron, "Four coming up on your left commander." Aaron turns, producing two spartan knives. He thrusts both knives down striking one in the face and the other in the neck. The two trailing grunts turn and run. He sends one knife whistling through the air as it hits one of the cowards in the back of the head. He simultaneously pulls out his pistol and drops the other one with one shot clean through the back of the skull. He walks up to pull his knife out of the grunt when he hears the sizzle of an energy sword an energy sword behind him. He turns on a dime and sinks his knife into the side of the camoed elite. Aaron then stands and looks at the wounded elite as it de-cloaks. He raises his second knife and buries it deep into the elite's throat. The look of terror on the elite's face is haunting as his life is extinguished and his body crashes to the floor with a thump. Calmly, Aaron turns to his team and orders them to ready their grapple guns. Aaron reaches down and grabs an elite ranger helmet off the deck and slaps it over 'Onis's head. "Here, you're going to need this," he quips. The pelican takes its position outside the hanger bays shield. Echo fires their hooks out into the pelican's back door. They hook up to the lines as a team of elite zealots bursts into the hanger bay. Aaron looks up at them as the grappling line tightens. He raises his hand towards the zealots and waves with a smirk as the entire team gets sucked out of the bay. The pelican reels them in and plunges into the hanger bay of the de-cloaking Reaper. The ship re-cloaks and slips away into the shadows.
Halo Echo Chapter 2
Date: 14 July 2015, 4:44 am
33 Years Earlier
The telemetry monitor on the wall beeps out a steady rhythm as the nurse leans in to give the patient an injection. Beep
"He's crashing Doctor." "50cc's of epinephrine, stat!" barks a voice from the shadows. The nurse leans in and injects the drugs into the now motionless patient. "No effect. What do you want next?" The doctor edges from the shadows with a dejected look on her face, "What's the point? Will there be any difference from the others?" Doctor Catherine Halsey steps toward the patient for a closer examination. "Damn! I had such high hopes for him too. Patient Sierra Zero One Two, time of death, fifteen forty-three." The nurse wheels the gurney down a long dark hallway. The walls are cold and damp this far down in castle base. A slight squeak from the gurney's wheels is heard as it winds the labyrinth of halls in ONI's top secret research center buried deep underground on Reach. Finally the nurse stops and enters a small medical bay. Already in the room are five other gurneys with nurses by each one. A group of officers enter the room led by a diminutive, elderly woman. As soon as she enters the entire room is aware of her presence. "What's their status?" she demands. The lead doctor in the room turns to her and informs her, "Good to go Admiral." "Good, wake them up." Each nurse leans over to plug the heart monitors back in. As the monitors begin to beep again, each patient is given an injection and they begin to come out of their state of unconsciousness. They each awake and look around the room. They glance down at their physical form having just undergone the final phase of their painful augmentations. They were true Spartans now. The elderly women walks forward to address them, "Men, I am Admiral Margret Parangosky. I am the head of ONI and your new commanding officer. You have all been pulled out of the Spartan project for a special assignment. Codenamed Echo Team, you will be going on top secret missions led by me directly. You report to me and me only. Each of you possesses a certain skill or attribute that make you invaluable to this team. Your training with Doctor Halsey is over. You belong to ONI now." The spartans look at each other and snap to attention and salute the Admiral. She returns a salute and exits the room.
Over the next few days the members of echo team begin getting used to their new physiques. They adapt quickly to their changes, being able to run faster and jump high than ever before. They're able to lift three times their body weight and have the reflexes of a cat. Several days later the members of Echo team meet with Parangosky.
They enter the Admiral's office and line up in front of her desk standing at attention. She greets them with a stern voice, "At ease men." They wait as she examines a field report, reading it through a pair of bifocals slid down to the tip of her nose. She looks up at the spartans with an examining look and removes the glasses. "Men, this team has been assembled for one reason and one reason only, to carry out my orders. When I give an order I expect it to be carried out, no matter the cost. Is that understood?" Echo responds, "Yes Admiral," in unison. "Good." She walks over to stand in front of Jack. "Jack, you are now the leader of Echo team. I am promoting you to Lieutenant Junior Grade. Command of the team and its success depend on you." Jack steps forward so Parangosky can pin the bars on his shoulder. He salutes her and steps back into line. The decision makes logical sense. Jack was always seen as a critical thinker. The others looked up to Aaron more but Parangosky saw in him a disobedient side. He was never shy to question orders or change plans in the middle of an attack. Sometimes his plans seemed wild and outrageous. Jack always had sound reasoning and judgment behind his strategies while Aaron tended to use gut feelings and intuition to lead him. Parangosky continues, "Your first assignment is the planet Arcadia. We have had several reports of increased insurrectionist activity planet side. The UNSC Point of no Return will take you there and serve as your operations platform. You will receive your orders once you reach Arcadia. You will be making one stop on the way. Chi Ceti IV has a special operations and weapons testing facility where you will receive your new armor. Good luck Echo." The team salutes and leaves the office. After Echo leaves, one of Parangosky's aides looks over at her, "I thought the Mjolnir armor wasn't ready?" "By the time they get there, the first sets will be finished," Parangosky replies. "Halsey is not going to like you stealing her armor," quips the aide. Parangosky gives a glare back, "What Catherine doesn't know won't hurt her."
At the ship yard, Echo team gathers the few personal belongings they have and enter their new home. The UNSC Point of no Return is a stealth cruiser utilized by ONI section three as a reconnaissance and top secret operations platform. Commanded by Nathanial J. Tolbertson, the ship carries a crew of 539 on board as well as an entire squadron of long swords and pelicans. The ship is the largest in the fleet to possess stealth capabilities. Those stealth capabilities make it the ideal platform for launching special ops missions. Echo team finds their way to their cramped quarters. "At least we don't have to share beds," Evan states with a smirk on his face. "Not funny," replies Silas looking unamused. At over seven foot tall, the spartans barely fit in their bunks. "Apparently the UNSC has not made all the ships spartan accessible yet," Vince says with a joking expression and a playful elbow to Silas. "It makes no difference anyway, we'll be hitting the cryo tubes shortly," Jack informs his team. The team finishes getting settled and they make their way to the cryo-chamber deck. The journey to Chi Ceti IV will take a month and a half. The second leg to Arcadia will only be a couple days and won't require cryo. The rest of the ship's crew settles in for the long trip as the ships A.I. takes over the long trek.
Several weeks later the ship comes out of slip space and enters orbit around Chi Ceti IV. Echo team boards a pelican bound for the surface. They fly up to a large base with a maze of interconnected buildings. Once landed, they are quickly escorted to a room with a strange elliptical looking machine in it. A team of engineers enter and call Jack forward. He enters the machine and it starts to move. The robotic arms making a whirling sound as they place pieces of armor on his chest first followed by his arms and legs and then a helmet to top it off. The machine returns to the start position and Jack steps forward awkwardly trying to gain his balance. The armor clinks and ratchets a bit as he moves. 064 emblazoned on his chest plate, he begins to walk around getting used to the movements of the armor. The more he moves the less stiff and awkward it looks. Aaron steps up next to receive his armor followed by the rest of the team. Once they all have gotten their armor and assured it's in proper working order they board the pelican and return to the ship. The ships engines give a thunderous roar as it enters slip space and disappears. Echo team uses the next few days to break in their armor. They fight each other testing the armors durability and maneuverability. They throw each other around the hanger bay like a bunch of wild kids, playfully laughing as they land without pain or damage. Soon the fun and games would come to an end as their mission approached.
Arcadia is a planet covered in dense jungles and large oceans. The three million people who call Arcadia home are concentrated in large cities. Deep in the jungle, several miles from the city of Daylam is an ONI outpost. The outpost was engaged in research on some Forerunner ruins in the area but as of recently had suffered several raids from insurrectionists looking for weapons and supplies. Admiral Parangosky comes up on the ONI secure channel to brief Echo team personally. "Several weeks ago a Skyhawk jet crashed deep into the jungle. Before we could reach the wreckage a group of insurrectionists had pillaged the craft taking with them four scorpion missiles. They also unknowingly took the jets CPU drive which has led us straight to their hideout. I want you men to infiltrate their encampment and burn it to the ground. Secure the missiles and radio for pelican retrieval." Jack stepping forward asks, "What about prisoner's ma'am." "Take none, it's time we send a message to these rebel scum," she answers with a look of distain. The Admiral had little respect for the rebels which made her ruthless when dealing with them. She also tended to underestimate their enginuity. Echo loads into their drop pods for their fourteen mile plunge. The Point of no Return takes up its position in low orbit above the suspected insurrectionist base. With a click and a thud the pods are in free fall mode hurdling toward their landing zone. The flame and heat are intense as the pod punctures the Arcadian atmosphere. Nearing the ground the pods braking rockets give a quick blast as the pod jerks back slowing to meet the ground. With a large thump the pod lands. The front door pops open and the team exits their pods. Ryan brings up a quick map of the area as Jack and Aaron begin to plan. "I don't like this, something seems off," Aaron states. Jack looks at him with a puzzled look, "What is it? I figured you would be the first one to charge in there." "It doesn't feel right. These guys are smarter than this. It smells like a trap," Aaron says, a look of concern weighing heavily on his face. Jack thinks for a minute and weighs his options. "We have our orders. We must complete them." Aaron shakes his head in disagreement but reluctantly follows the rest of the team. If they were going to die, then they would die together. The team walks several miles through the jungle to the coordinates provided to them.
"What the hell! Where is it?" Vince exclaims as they are in an empty field. Jack, confused, turns to Aaron as a rocket whistles past his head. "Incoming! Hit the deck!" shouts Aaron. The entire team hits the deck as gunfire begins to rain down upon them. They take refuge in a drainage ditch dodging the gunfire whizzing past them. Aaron looks around as best he can for an escape route. They are completely surrounded. Aaron looks over to Jack whose face is still buried in the ground and shouts, "What are your orders sir." Jack lies there, unable to move or speak. Aaron realizes he is going to have to act if they are to survive this. He looks over to Silas, who is carrying an M41 rocket launcher. He signals Silas to hand it over. Aaron turns and fires upon a wall that several rebels are hiding behind. The rocket glides through the air leaving a trail of white smoke as it finds its target. With a large explosion the wall comes tumbling down as rock and fire go flying through the air. In the confusion, Aaron directs his teammates through the hole in the wall. They quickly make a hasty retreat. Aaron looks back to see Jack, still lying on the ground, unable to move. He grabs ahold of him looking directly through his helmets shield. "Do you want to live?" he screams to Jack. Jack nods his head in agreement. "Then move your ass soldier," pointing to the hole in the wall. The two of them make it through the wall and they fall back several hundred feet to gather and regroup.
The entire group looks at each other wondering what had just happened. Their first mission a failure, there would be hell to pay with Parangosky. Aaron looks at the rest of the men pondering what to do next. He looks over at Jack who has his head in his hands. He's a complete wreck, unsure of anything now. Aaron wondered if he would be any good to them at all. "What's your status?" Aaron grumbles at Jack. "How could I be so stupid? Why didn't I see that coming?" Jack questions himself. Aaron kneels next to him, "Any one of us could have missed it." Jack looks Aaron in the eye, "You didn't. You saw it coming as soon as we landed." Aaron draws in closer to Jack, "We still need to get out of this mess. What are your orders?" "I've had my chance and failed. We all know Parangosky should have made you leader anyway. What are your orders?" Aaron stands and looks at the rest of the team. They all look back at him, looking for guidance. He ponders for a second and lets out a sigh. "All right, Ryan, bring up the map." Ryan pops up the 3D map out of his TACPAD on his wrist. Carefully examining the local terrain Aaron points to a river. "There, any kind of encampment is going to need fresh water. If we follow that small stream we should eventually find them." "So we are going after them?" Vince questions. "Yes, we have to complete our mission. We are just going to do it the way we should have in the first place."
Walking through the Arcadian jungle, Echo makes their way down river. The stifling heat, the uneven terrain, and the dangerous wildlife lurking about make it all the more challenging. Evan walks a few hundred feet in front of the rest of the team scouting what lies ahead. The river comes to an elevation change which creates a spectacular waterfall. Down below Evan spies the insurrectionist encampment. "I've got them Aaron," he radios back to the team. Aaron signals the others to stay put and take cover as he moves forward to have a look for himself. The encampment is right next to a holding pond at the base of the waterfall. It has several large tents with a make shift building or two. Aaron uses his HUD to identify the scorpion missiles. Aaron radios back to Jack and the others, "Missiles located, move forward to my position." Aaron places Evan at the top of the waterfall as sniper protection. The rest of the team moves down the valley to the outskirts of the camp. Aaron tells Jack to take Vince and flank the side of the base once the three of them move in. They take up their positions and begin to move forward. They move into the outskirts of the camp like a cat on the prowl. Once they are in position a shot rings out from Evan's sniper rifle. The bullet goes whizzing through the air as it finds its target. With a thwamp and a thump the lookout in the tower falls to the ground in a heap. The entire camp is startled as Echo moves in with ferocity and precision. A small exchange of fire takes place. The rebels try in a vain effort to put up a fight but to no avail. Echo moves so fast through the camp that many throw down their arms and run in fear. They finish sweeping through the last of the buildings and secure the camp. "Ryan, radio to base. Enemy camp located and secured. Send the pelican." Aaron looks back to the wooden shack where the scorpions were located. He throws open the door and to find all four missiles sitting in the middle of the floor. He looks to the others and smiles, "Mission accomplished men. Good work." A short time later the pelican flies over head and lands. One of Parangosky's subordinates is on board. "What the hell are you doing way over here," he shouts. Before Jack can answer Aaron steps forward pointing to the ONI officer, "Look here you little paper pushing nobody. Thanks to your crap intel, we walked right into a trap. We found the encampment, we found the missiles, and I sure as hell am not going to listen to you question me and my team. Do I make myself clear?" The ONI agent has a look of terror on his face as Aaron is aggressively shaking his fist at him. The agent quietly sits down on the pelican's bench and doesn't say a word all the way back to base. Echo team lights the buildings on fire and blows the ammo dump before boarding the pelican. Echo team is in a jovial mood on the flight back to base. Aaron hangs on to the back lift gate as his team sits there joking happily about their successful mission, proud of what they've just accomplished. Aaron gives a bit of a gleeful smirk then turns to look at the ground speeding by them. Their first successful mission behind them, Aaron contemplates what he will say to the Admiral.