In their holy city, High Charity, the Prophets of the Covenant watched in agony as the parasite seized control of the Control Room on Delta Halo. The humans had already given up, abandoned their home world and fled the galaxy as the parasite devoured world after world. This was the humans fault. All of their efforts to start the Great Journey had been stopped by the petty Demons of the cursed UNSC. The glorious Covenant fleet was larger than it had ever been, yet the Flood was too strong, and the Prophets knew they had failed the test their gods had given them. The Great Journey was ruined.

Speaking in a sermon broadcast to the whole Covenant fleet, the Prophet of Regret woefully conveyed the council's decision, "Brothers and sisters of the Covenant, it is with my greatest sorrow that I must announce the Great Journey will never come to be. The humans and their cursed demons stalled us for too long, and we were then unable to defeat the unholy parasite. Our fleets were banded together for one last effort, but now we must leave as one. Our brothers on our worlds that remain must be abandoned. Those worlds that remain clean have already been evacuated. Now we must flee. We shall wait in hibernation, and see if the gods provide for us in the next galaxy, or if, in our failure, we have been abandoned. Before we rest, I must add that your anger should not be towards the parasite, for that was the test of the gods, but towards the humans, who blocked us at every turn, and, in their knowledge that they would never accompany us on the Great Journey, fought to stay our feet, and whose fleets now make up the bulk of the parasite's armada. If ever we encounter them again, our rage and holy weapons shall cleanse the galaxy of their filth."

With Regret concluding the Prophet's final sermon, the fleet turned away from the blessed ring and made several random jumps throughout the parts of the galaxy not yet overrun by the Flood, before massing at the galactic rim. The Fleet of Burning Conviction was a conglomerate of all remaining Covenant warships, unified for one last effort to start the Great Journey, but now it would follow High Charity away, into the great beyond.

Chapter 1

After hundreds of years in stasis, the construct aboard High Charity detected it was nearing its destination, an unknown galaxy far beyond the Milky Way, outside the Local Group. The fleet dropped out of Slipspace at the galactic rim, in the Unknown Region. Little did they know, the fleet had been extraordinarily lucky in dodging all the hazards that plague space travel in this new galaxy.

Arbiter Thel Vadamee, still a believing member of the Covenant, knelt before the Hierarchs. Tartarus knelt by his side. After suicide mission after suicide mission, Thel had returned glory to the title of Arbiter. Though they regretted losing one of their most powerful political tools, the Hierarchs had restored the original meaning to the title. Now, Thel was the leader of all the Sangheili in the Covenant, and matched Tartarus in standing symbolically, but outranked him in reality as the supreme commander of the Covenant military

"Arbiter, Chieftain, do you know why I have brought you here so soon after our arrival?" the Prophet of Truth asked.

"I would not pretend to guess at the wisdom of your actions," Arbiter said, keeping his head bowed. Tartarus remained quiet.

"Because we are in a new galaxy, and we shall find a new mission that I am certain the gods will provide," Truth began, "but because we are in a new galaxy, we must put our quarrels behind us. Arbiter, Tartarus, I have been told our scans show a colony of sentient life on this planet here," Truth pulled up a projection of a planet a short Slipspace jump away, "I want you two to go down there and make contact. No one shall accompany you. If we are to keep the lower species such as the Unggoy down, then we must show unity, not strife. I think an excursion would help you two bond. You represent your people, show unity and they will follow."

"But-" Tartarus started.

"Go," Truth ordered, "Get to the Corvette Noble Calling. I don't want anyone with you on the Phantom, though. Get whoever you find on a live channel with me. I don't care who it is. Even if it's the cursed humans, you shall stay your hand and open a channel. Is that understood?"

"Yes, noble Prophet," Tartarus and Arbiter said in unison, then turned and left.

The pair walked in silence on their way to the waiting Phantom.

"If it is the will of the Prophets, then I shall tolerate you," Arbiter said, "Try not to eat whoever we meet."

"You may laugh at my ways if you want," Tartarus shot back, "But you will find my nose is an asset you will be jealous of."

The rest of the ride was quiet, except for the sound of Tartarus occasionally tapping his hammer, the Fist of Rukt, on the ground. Upon arrival to the Noble Calling, the corvette made a Slipspace jump to the nearby system.

"Arbiter," the Shipmaster called out, "Contact! There is some kind of a starship orbiting that planet."

A massive wedge shaped ship bigger than a Covenant battlecruiser hovered in the space inf front of them. Tartarus looked on silently as Arbiter conversed with the Shipmaster, "Is it derelict?"

"No," the Shipmaster replied, clicking his mandibles, "There are many lifeforms aboard. What is the Prophet's will?"

"Attempt to make contact," Arbiter ordered, "If it succeeds, Tartarus and I shall take a Phantom over to their ship to meet them. The Prophets wish to speak with them.

Aboard the Resurgent Class Star Destroyer, Commander Ilco Valk watched on the holotable as the stormtroopers marched through the streets of this planet whose name he had already forgotten. The troopers were taking 'recruits' from their families and restoring order. That was the punishment for attempting an uprising against the First Order. The planet was rich in raw materials and would become a new shipbuilding yard for the First Order.

"Commander," a technician called, "New contact! Unknown ship, unknown classification, unknown origin. It lacks any ID."

Through the viewport, Valk spotted the rather small ship. It was purple and organic in shape, unlike any ship he had ever seen. It resembled one of the creatures from the oceans of Naboo.

"Hail them," Valk ordered, "I want to know what they are doing here."

"I have a connection," the tech said, "Putting them through."

On the holoprojector, Valk was surprised to see several aliens of whose species he could not place. They looked like big reptiles, but clearly were active by the way they moved about. They were also quite large, standing well over seven feet tall. They all wore armor that looked ceremonial and ornamental, as if it served a greater purpose than simply protecting the wearer. Valk spotted another creature, this one looked like a Wookie, but much bigger and bulkier. It had a mohawk atop its head and carried a massive hammer in one hand.

"Humans!" the alien wearing silvery armor roared. Interestingly, the alien seemed to know his language, "Is there any place not tainted with your filthy presence? Have you not done enough? You plan to plague us, even after ruining the Great Journey! Must the cursed UNSC meet us at yet another turn!"

"Slow down there," Valk said, "You're not in the territory of this UNSC. This is First Order space. Why do you not possess an ID?"

The big hairy creature now spoke up, "As much as I would like to eat your mongrel hide right now, the Hierarchs demand an audience. They shall decide the ultimate fate of your 'First Order'."

The alien in the silver armor then opened a link to someplace else. Now Valk looked at a trio of heavily ornamented and hunched creatures. These, he assumed, were the Hierarchs.

"Humans? What blasphemy is this?" One on the side said.

"Greetings, vile creatures," the one in the middle said, "I see we have left one of your factions only to find another. No matter. Without the Flood at our backs, we shall have no difficulty eradicating you. With your deaths, the path of the Great Journey may once again open."

"I'm not sure I understa-" Valk began.

"You don't need to," the alien said, then the link was cut.

Valk sounded the alarm on his ship and brought it around, gliding through space towards the smaller craft. The ship lit up, and projectiles crackled through space towards his ship.

"I detect superheated plasma," the scannings officer said, "It won't take much to melt our shields. They weren't built for this. Use of plasma as a weapon is unknown as far as I know."

Sure enough, the plasma projectile barrage took the shields down to thirty percent. The star destroyer, however, was almost in range.

"Commander! New Contacts!" a tech called, "lots of them!"

"My god," Valk breathed as he looked through the viewport. Thousands of ships appeared through what appeared to be portals, most of them were far larger than his Resurgent Class, then something else appeared. It was shaped like a mushroom and almost three times as big as the old Death Stars had been.

Before he could comprehend it all, plasma torpedoes from the nearer warships struck his ship and obliterated it completely. He could not have called for help even if he had wanted to. The Covenant had jammed all communications in the area.

As the destruction commenced, Arbiter and Tartarus had already gone their separate ways, per the will of the Prophets. Arbiter boarded his personal flagship, the CSO class supercarrier Undying Resolve, and Tartarus returned to High Charity. Arbiter dispatched Rtas Vadum and the Shadow of Intent to begin ground operations on the planet. Arbiter had convinced the council not to have it glassed, since the planet contained tons of naturally occuring warship grade nanolaminate.

This would be the new home of the Covenant and their first world taken in the wars to come.