First I'd like to say thank you to every who reviewed and to the criticism that was given. I will take all of them to heart and try to improve on my performances. That being said, this chapter is going to have a lot of... inaction... Combining two scientifically different universes and having them meet in a way that makes sense is a lot harder than I anticipated. Nevertheless, I have found a way. Sort of. My editor and loremaster has been absent due to irl problems so I did the best I can to reform this chapter without him.
To those of you who reviewed but I did not reply, the reason for that was either because I had no way to or it would require me to ruin some story bits that I have planned including some questions or requests you had made. So you guys are stuck in this mystery of what the hell I am planning on doing to the story :P
Yes I know. I'm a Rebel.
Anyways enjoy the chapter!
Year of the Empire: 22
Location: Sector K-18, Western Reaches of the Outer Rim
"Afraid there's not much left."
"What was it?"
"Droid of some kind. I didn't hit it that hard. Must have had a self-destruct."
Princess Leia Organa pressed a glowing red button before flicking a switch as she analyzed the remains sent to the console. "An Imperial Probe Droid." she said slowly as the realization dawned on her.
"Its a good bet the Empire knows we're here." Han Solo said matter-of-factly.
General Carlist Rieekan looked at the data. Even if Captain Solo had managed to destroy the droid before it noticed the Alliance personnel, the mere existence of people on the planet would have given away their position. "We'd better start the evacuation." he said, glancing up to his left before looking at the Princess.
"Agreed." said Leia. "Han, get yourself back to base. We're initiating the evacuation."
"You got it." Han said. "Never liked this freezing ice-ball anyways."
Leia cut the connection and got up from the seat, allowing the Rebel controller who had originally been at the controls to take over. She turned and faced the General. "General, how long do you think we have."
The General frowned. "Two days." He said. "Maybe even three days. It's hard to say."
"Will it be enough?" Leia asked. There was worry etched on her face. She knew that the Empire would dedicate all their resources into finding them. Especially since they had been a constant thorn in their backsides for the past three years, starting with the destruction of the Death Star.
"We'll have to think about that when it comes to it," The General said. "Long enough to get the transports off the planet."
"Is there anything you would like for me to do." Leia asked.
The General nodded. "I want you to get Rogue Squadron prepped and ready to defend the base. If the Empire comes and catches us in the middle of our evacuation, we need to be ready."
"I understand, General."
TIME UNKNOWN, DATE UNKNOWN, UNKNOWN TRAJECTORY IN SLIPSPACE
Lasky closed his eyes and took a deep breath. His mind relaxed as the stress from the past few weeks caught up with him for a minute. Even the UNSC Infinity had been through a lot recently but she still did her best to function. And the problems that had affected her were not being too kind to her. The Operation would have been a success…. If the intel on their size hadn't been wrong. What didn't make sense was the fact that ONI had missed such a large fleet. It took months to build such a large force and the Alpha fleet they had engaged was supposed to be the Remnants of the entire Storm Covenant fleet.
The door to the bridge opened and Captain Lasky looked up from the holotable to see Spartan Commander Sarah Palmer walk through the door. He smiled and looked back at the hologram in front of him. "Commander Palmer!" he said jokingly. "Things get boring for you in Spartan Town already?"
Palmer rolled her eyes at the comment. She was wearing the black bodysuit typically worn by all Spartans just underneath their armor with her semi-long brown hair bound up in a bun. "Captain Lasky, things do occasionally get tiring. But you already know why I'm here."
Lasky nodded, putting aside his joking manner for the more serious one. "Please tell me you found something."
"Nothing." She looked more angry than frustrated. "Our teams have swept this ship top to bottom and scanned everyone on board. We're double checking now but it'll take them another day before we can confirm. Unless you want me to start interrogating the eighteen thousand personnel we have on board though that might take longer than a day."
"Right," Lasky mumbled before changing the subject. "You hear what happened to Roland during the battle?"
Commander Palmer leaned onto the holotable, studying the breakdown of the Infinity's systems on the hologram. "I did. What bothers me is that the eggheads on board aren't even able to figure out how the AI intrusion occurred. Dr. Glassman is trying to figure it out too but he's hitting a dead end. No data entries were made, and the system doesn't seem to be tampered with."
She scoffed as another holo-part of the Infinity's systems flashed red. The engine room. "I say that while we still have several malfunctions happening across the ship."
Captain Lasky sighed. "They're trying, Sarah."
"I'm sure they are, Tom." Palmer said though she didn't sound convinced.
They continued to stare at the hologram, silently watching as more systems flashed red while the ones flashing red began to turn back to their normal blue hue. After entering Slipspace, several malfunctions had occurred on the ship. Weapons systems, communications, lower deck life support, and even some of the showers had begun acting up. Dr. Glassman and the other technicians had been rushing throughout the ship, trying to fix the problems that were being incurred, solving one problem as another one popped up elsewhere. Some were mechanical while most were simply software problems. Roland had also been busy too, chasing around the unknown entity within the system while also handling 13 percent of the Infinity's systems at the same time. As a result, most of the non-essential systems and some lesser essential ones had been shut down to allow him to concentrate.
Lasky looked around him to make sure no one was near the two of them. Most of the bridge crew were working on trying to purge the problems affecting the ship's systems while the others were discussing problems with the secondary systems. But no one was paying them any attention.
He dropped his voice into a hushed tone and said, "Roland suspects ONI."
"He does?" She asked incredulously before the realization dawned on her. "Of course, he does. This isn't the first time they used the Infinity as their personal attack dog."
Lasky didn't say anything. Though they could never prove it, ONI had staged an entire biological terror incident so that the Infinity would be forced to take out a pirate Kig-Yar colony they had deemed a threat. And the facts were piling up. But it didn't feel like ONI's MO to sacrifice UNSC ships and personnel like that. Not to mention the waste of resources.
Did the ONI Prowler lead them into an ambush? He had met the Captain of the Prowler before the Operation's deployment phase and Commander Jiron hadn't exactly struck him as someone who would participate in the wiping out of hundreds of UNSC and Sangheili personnel. Maybe he didn't know? Lasky thought. It wasn't unlike ONI to keep its agents in the dark. Luckily, the Infinity had suffered no external hull damage whatsoever but next time they wouldn't be so lucky. He had overestimated the ship. Her shields had almost failed and yet Lasky had kept going, pushing the warship to its limits without barely firing any shots.
They remained silent for a while before Lasky had the nerve to ask Palmer. "How are you holding up?" It was a delicate question, but he needed to know his Commander's status in case he needed her.
"Honestly." Palmer stared at the floor, avoiding Lasky's eyes. "I don't know. I guess I'm just worried. Worried about how it all went wrong in such a short time and all I could do was sit back and watch it happen." She paused. "Sorry- feel it happen."
Lasky knew what she meant. Commander Sarah Palmer oversaw the Ground Operations for the Infinity when on deployment. Her roots were on the grounds, not the sky or space. Sitting inside a ship and feeling it start to rip itself apart…. well it was not an adventure he wanted to feel either. "Get some rest." He started to say. "You need to th-"
The navigational consoles began beeping with multiple warnings and the UNSC Infinity shook slightly making Commander Palmer suddenly alert, her Spartan reflexes kicking in. "What was that?" she asked cautiously.
Lasky looked to the navigation stations, setting his eyes on one of the officers there. "Lieutenant, report."
"I don't know, sir," came the Lieutenant's response. "Roland is trying to compile the data now."
Roland appeared on the holotank next to the navigation console. "Captain."
"Roland, what's happening?"
"I detected a slight disturbance in the slipspace field." he said casually. "I can't explain it, sir."
"Great," Commander Palmer interjected. "More trouble."
"Whatever it was, it was extremely powerful." continued Roland. "The moment has passed but everyone on board is going in a fritz around the ship."
"Any cause for alarm?" asked Captain Lasky.
"Maybe. We do know the Forerunner's have been able to manipulate Slipspace on the quantum level. It's possible something is pulling us out of Slipspace."
"How long do you think we have?" Commander Palmer asked.
"Not sure." Roland replied. "Could be seconds. Could be hours."
"Alright." Captain Lasky said. "What's the status of that AI?"
"Taken care of. I'm analyzing her remains right now." The AI said before realizing what he had said. "I mean her coding structure."
"Put in a report and send it to my datapad. Alert the crew. Get them ready."
"On it." Roland saluted before he disappeared. As soon as he did, an alarm resonated through the ship, signaling the crew to go on alert status.
"You want the ladies prepped?" Commander Palmer asked as she straightened up, her solemn attitude now gone. Lasky could tell she was getting excited. Her body language was proof of that.
Captain Lasky nodded. "Wouldn't hurt to get some Spartans ready.."
She nodded. "Will do. Roland, alert Fireteams Majestic, Avalanche and Crimson. Have them report to the S-deck on the double."
"Roger that, Commander." Roland said over the bridge's speakers as she disappeared from the bridge.
Captain Lasky could feel the excitement buzzing in the air as the bridge crew checked and rechecked all systems up to operational status. Every soldier had a duty and doing that duty meant the world to them. It gave everyone a sense of purpose. And the prospect of seeing where they were going… that was worth more than any reward.
Captain Lasky inhaled sharply as the ship shook once more. Just a slight tremor. Nothing more.
"Detecting collapsation of the Slipspace corridor," announced Lieutenant Jet.
"Alert all crew." Captain Lasky said. "Prepare for Slipspace exit."
The UNSC Infinity shook violently, the ship creaking and groaning before it exited Slipspace, transitioning into realspace at an alarming rate.
"She's going at nearly six times her normal speed, Captain." Lieutenant James stared at the console in shock.
Lasky calmly asked. "Is there anything in our path?"
"Negative. All sensors show nothing in the immediate vicinity."
"Alright. Slow her down. Fire Repulsor Engines only."
"Aye aye. Firing Engines." James said. The ship rumbled with power as the engines took their desired effect. "It'll take a few minutes before she's normal, Captain." The Lieutenant shook his head in awe. "Amazing. The Slipspace corridor actually increased our relative speed. That's never been seen before."
"That's not our biggest worry right now," said Captain Lasky, as he looked at the front viewport. All he saw were stars blanketing the space in front of them. "Lieutenant Jet, where are we?"
"I've been trying, sir," came his response. "Our astro-navigation system can't pinpoint our location. We're not on the map anymore."
The bridge went silent. All eyes turned to face the Captain. They all looked at him with a mixture of emotions etched on their faces. But the worst one he saw…. was fear.
"Okay." he said finally. "Keep an eye out for more Slipspace ruptures. When we entered the portal, the Covenant fleet was right on our tail.
The bridge crew was silent as they waited several minutes for the Covenant fleet to appear, but nothing happened.
"Roland, anything?" Captain Lasky asked finally, breaking the tension within the room.
"Nothing." Roland responded. "We're all alone."
Lasky was relieved, but also concerned. The Covenant Fleet had been right behind them and so had the Joint Fleet. If they hadn't made it through the portal meant that something had gone wrong. He had to take charge. Something was going on and he had to find out. "Okay. Scan for the thing that brought us out of slipspace. Lieutenant Ryder, get me a scan out of the sector. I want to know what's out there and if there are any."
"Aye, Captain. Initiating scan." Lieutenant Ryder punched in a few buttons before announcing, "Preliminary scans show no indication of anything in the next few light minutes. Initiating deeper scan." He pushed a few more holo-buttons before saying, "Hang on. Getting a faint lock on a gravitational field. Parallax sensors confirm a star system but we'll have to get closer for me to completely decipher what it is."
"Alright," Captain Lasky said. "Roland."
"I want to talk to the crew."
Roland nodded. "Yes, sir. Patching into the Intercom. You're good to go."
Captain Lasky straightened himself out before speaking. He had to get this right. The past week had been hard on them but right now they needed to stay calm more than ever.
"This is Captain Lasky." he started. "We have exited Slipspace and there is no sign of the Covenant fleet that was trailing us. However, that also means that the UNSC will not be with us either. There is also no sign of another Forerunner structure in our immediate vicinity." He paused to let the revelation sink in before continuing. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Lieutenant Austen twiddling his thumbs nervously.
"But that doesn't mean all hope is lost. Our long-range scans have detected a gravitational field. We will be entering Slipspace in a minute to get a better look at it. I want everyone to stay alert. Captain Lasky, out." He nodded to Roland and the A.I. cut the connection. "Lieutenant Jet, plot a course to that gravitational field."
"Aye, sir. Course plotted. Awaiting your orders."
Captain Lasky tilted his head. That course plotting was too quick. It was as if Jet had already prepared it. He smiled.
"James, how's that speed?
"Three times of what she normally goes and decreasing rapidly." Lieutenant James replied.
"It'll have to do. Lieutenant Jet, adjust coordinates for re-entry accordingly. Stand by to initiate Slipspace jump."
"Standing by," came the Lieutenants' response.
"Lieutenant James," Captain Lasky said finally. "Keep her steady."
Lieutenant James gave a small smile before saying, "Aye, sir."
A Slipspace rupture emerged in front of the Infinity and the mighty ship sailed through it.
Year of the Empire: 22
Location: Sector L-14, Western Reaches of the Outer Rim, Five Galactic Sectors away from Hoth system
A dark robed figure looked out into the deep emptiness of space, the window providing little disturbance to what he could see. The vastness of the galaxy. The turmoil that it was in.
And the power. The power that befell his fingertips and raged through his body. Or whatever was left of it.
A small distraction from the security foyer brought him out of his thoughts, causing him to turn away from the window and walk down the command walkway of the Executor-class Super Star Destroyer. His figure caught the attention of several officers from the crew pits below before they focused back on their duties. The slow and heavy breathing coming from his breathing regulator inspired much fear around him. He breathed it in, smelling the pungent odor secreted from their bodies. Some thought it was right to not show or feel fear whenever they saw him. Only a fool would choose such a path.
"We have thousands of probe droids searching the galaxy. I want proof, not leads!"
"The visuals indicate life readings."
"It could mean anything. If we followed every lead-"
"But, sir, the Hoth system is supposed to be devoid of human forms."
Darth Vader stopped behind the man who had caused the commotion, Captain Piett. He seemed to be pleading Admiral Ozzel on a matter. Beside the two men, General Veers watched calmly. He was standing at attention during the whole ordeal and had nodded slightly in respect when he noticed Vader approaching.
"You found something?" Darth Vader asked, his overwhelming presence immediately turning the two squabbling men's attention towards him.
"Yes, my lord." said Captain Piett as he began playing the report on the screen. The image of a Power Generator loomed on the screen with the snow and the ice blanketing the frigid landscape. Vader studied the image for a second.
"That's it." Vader said as the Force whirled around him, solidifying his resolve. And there was something else… something…. Familiar…. "The Rebels are there." Vader allowed himself a little smile as he saw the frustration on Admiral Ozzel's face.
"My lord," Admiral Ozzel looked like he was trying to be calm, but the pettiness was still evident within him. Admiral Ozzel would have to be looked at carefully. His incompetence was becoming….. unbearable. "There are so many uncharted settlements. It could be smugglers, it could be…"
"That is the system." Vader knew he was right. The Force was never wrong. "And I'm sure Skywalker is with them. Set your course for the Hoth system. General Veers, prepare you men!"
Darth Vader turned about without waiting for a response and marched down to prepare for the oncoming battle. He knew he was right. He could feel it within the Force. Nothing mattered except for the capture of Skywalker and his Rebel friends.
And then he felt it. The shift. A force so strong that it caused him to pause in his stride. A powerful change in the Force lurched throughout his body. It shook him to his very core; unknown to what was happening. It took him a few seconds before he could push the turmoil aside, but it made him fearful. Fear of what had happened. But that fear quickly turned into anger and then into rage. The rage calmed him down and he regained control of himself.
The quickened steps of Captain Piett was heard as the officer made his way to Darth Vader. "Lord Vader," he announced, his breath nearly gone from running to him and fear in his voice. His face was as white as a sheet.
"What is it, Captain?"
"The Emperor commands you to make contact with him." Now the fear made sense. The Emperor himself had contacted the Executor.
Did his master sense it too? The disturbance in the Force? What would he say to him? It did not matter. Whatever the problem was, he would solve it.
Without responding to the Captain, he quickly made his way to his meditation chambers. It took him barely a few minutes to make the journey but all the while he wondered what he would say. Stormtroopers stepped aside for him and stood at attention, officers hustled about getting ready for the ensuing battle and, before Vader knew it, he was already inside the room and striding towards the holopad in the corner. He kneeled to the empty space in front of him before the flicker of a hologram came to life. "What is thy bidding…. my master?"
"There is great disturbance in the Force." The Emperor enunciated every word slowly. Vader could feel his master pouring all his power into those few words.
It was true. "I have felt it."
"We have a new enemy." The Emperor said with certainty but with a hint of hesitation. "Tell me, my friend. What do you think it is?"
Vader waited for his master to continue. He did not know who or what it was but the mere existence of something….. changing in the Force was proof enough.
"Your silence speaks for you, Lord Vader." The Emperor continued. "You are powerful in the Dark side of the Force. But the knowledge it possesses still eludes you."
Again, Vader said nothing. The Emperor was simply restating what he was thinking. And it boiled him with anger. And his Master knew it. It was the exact reason he was doing it.
"Perhaps you think you are incompetent."
Darth Vader's emotions went from anger to sudden shock and outrage. The Rebels were in reach and Skywalker was within his grasp! There was no finer moment than the one present. Why would his Master aggravate him at his moment of triumph?! Unless… it was another one of the Emperor's plans. One that required time and patience. And that could only mean one thing. "No, my master. I am not. We have the rebels where we want them. Soon they will be wiped out."
The Emperor sounded pleased with the statement. "Goooood, my friend. Very Good. I see now that I was mistaken. Perhaps you do know exactly what is happening."
"Only the turmoil that the Force is in."
"Then you still have much to learn." The Emperor straightened up, content rolling off of him. Content that his apprentice had not surpassed him. Something that Vader had grown to hate. "The future… ah I see them in some….. interesting circumstances. Which is why I have contacted you. But now I change my mind. Continue the hunt. Return to me when you are finished."
"It will be done, my Master." Vader said. The Emperor smiled and the hologram snapped off. Darth Vader stayed there, kneeling on the holopad, his rage forcing him to tremble as he tried to control it. He breathed it in, the strength of the power coursing through him.
Plasteel began to groan around him as the superstructure bent to conform to his will. Support columns began to condense slowly as the Force wrapped around it, crushing the alloy at the molecular level. The control he exercised on the room itself was only a fraction of his power. He could extinguish the life out of anyone in the ship, even the tiresome Admiral Ozzel. But he didn't. He stood up and dragged the anger into him. His body coursed with the Dark Side of the Force as he turned and walked to his Meditation chamber.
The word calmed him down before his rage returned to him. The mere thought of the man who had failed gave him anger. But Luke… he was the real target. And he would do everything in his power to find him. Vader tapped a button on the console in front of him and his meditation chamber began to descend. Darth Vader consumed himself in the Dark Side of the Force with only one name resonating in his mind.
TIME UNKNOWN, DATE UNKNOWN, UNKNOWN SECTION OF SPACE
"Scans show a planetary system." said Lieutenant Ryder, his voice extremely optimistic. "Six planets and an asteroid belt."
Captain Lasky rubbed his chin as he surveyed the reports given to him. He walked around the holotable slowly, gathering his thoughts on the mystery of the system they had stumbled upon. "Any kind of discernable data that would indicate a shield world?"
Roland replied for the Lieutenant on that, "Negative, Captain."
'I've gone through the preliminary data twelve times," insisted Roland. "There's nothing."
Captain Lasky sighed. He hadn't expected it to be so simple, but he was expecting something a lot more than just rocks and dust from the system. "Try again. We have to make sure about this system."
"Yes, Captain," said Roland.
"Sir, I'm detecting an energy pattern coming from the sixth planet of the system," Lieutenant Ryder called out. "It just appeared on the surface of the planet."
The holoimage of the planet appeared on the holotable. A small bubble covered the northern edge on the temperate band near the equator. Whatever it was, it meant that there was something on the planet that generated power. Something that was not made naturally. They had to find out what it was. "Prepare to execute another slipspace jump. Bring us over that energy bubble."
"Aye aye, Captain.".
He pressed a button on the holotable, "Lasky to Palmer."
The response over the intercom was near instant. "Reporting, Captain."
"Prep your selected Spartan Fireteams and a small Recon Squad. Roland will send you the coordinates for deployment." He nodded to Roland who sent the information directly to Commander Palmer's suit HUD. "Find out what's inside that energy shield. Be on the ground within the hour. Travel light.
"Understood, Captain," came her smooth reply. "Recon only. We'll find out whatever that thing is hiding."
He cut the connection before leaning onto the holotable, studying the holoimage of the planet. "That Shield World brought us here for a reason," mumbled Lasky. "Let's see what the hell it wants from us."
"They're just… sitting there." Leia finally said, breaking the silence in the command center. Everyone stared at their screens as they waited in anticipation at the massive ship that had jumped in above their base. Long range sensors had detected the ship in sector 12 before it made a small hyperspace jump above the planet. The Shield Generator had been raised almost as soon as it appeared. General Rieekan had immediately ordered the base to prepare for the impending ground assault. But the ship had made no movement for the past half hour. None that they could see anyways.
"Whomever they are, sweetheart." agreed Han. "You thinking about saying hello?
"No," General Rieekan spoke quietly but assuredly. "They could be an Imperial scout."
Han couldn't argue with that logic. The Empire had always been crafty when it came to hunting them down. But lately, fighting the Empire had become a norm for him. Take out a few bucket heads over here, blow up this guy over there, and steal a few datacards from some random Imperial Duchess that nearly cost all their lives. Han shuddered. It was a life. A life that didn't pay much but….. it was still a life. Not to mention all the people on his side. But it was a life he was going to have to abandon.
"And what if they're not?" asked Leia. She looked regal, despite her battered appearance. The way her hair was in a bun with a circular crowned braid that made her look older than she really was. Normally that would be a bad thing for most women, but it made the Princess look more mature since the first time he had seen he-.
Wait. What was he thinking?
"That ship is the length of a Dreadnought." The General responded calmly. "We've already determined that it is armed with several weapon emplacements. I do not want to take chances on this."
"It could be a colony ship of an undiscovered civilization reaching out into the galaxy." Leia argued. "How much of the Western Reaches of the Outer Rim do we actually know about?"
That gave him a pause. What Leia said was true. Even though the Western Reaches had been almost fully discovered, much of it was still quite unknown. "She's right." Han agreed. Still. Something bugged him about that ship. His gut told him that they were dangerous. And he always listened to his gut. "It could be anyone. But the fact that they came here after that Imperial probe reported our location can't make it a coincidence."
One of the Rebel controllers called out. "Detecting several ships exiting the unknown vessel. They're heading towards the edge of the shield."
"Alert the men," said General Rieekan as he signaled to another controller who immediately began contacting the different teams in the field.
"Echo Station Five-Seven, this is Echo Base. The unknown capital ship has deployed ships in your vicinity. Alert all ground personnel at your position. Stay Sharp."
"The energy bubble seems to be a type of energy barrier that prevents anything coming from space." Captain Lasky recited to Recon One aboard the six D79-TC Pelicans and three D96-TCE Albatross that were now descending towards the gelid planet. His image was holoprojected to all ships at the same exact time so that all three Fireteams would be getting their mission together. "However, that does not prevent anything coming in from the ground. Sort of like an umbrella protecting the ground targets. If this is like any other Forerunner shield that we have encountered, it means that there will be an access point somewhere that will allow us to deactivate it."
"The bubble stretches for five kilometers from a central location. Recon One will be divided into three units each led by a Spartan Fireteam. Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie. Majestic will lead Alpha, Avalanche will lead Bravo, and Crimson will lead Charlie. You will be deployed in three separate locations."
Below him, the holographic image of a terrain was shown. Three points were highlighted, each equidistant from each other creating an equilateral triangle within the circle.
"You will use Warthogs to scout the area on land. We haven't found any remnants of Forerunner technology, but it could be buried below the shield that are making sensor scans difficult. You all know the gravity of the situation. We need to find out what's under that shield or we may never be able to get home. Doctor Glassman will join you as soon as you have located the terminal. Majestic will be taking point on this one. Good luck, Recon One. Infinity out."
The holographic image of Captain Lasky faded away, only leaving silence in its wake. Nobody spoke for a while as they checked their gear and ammunition.
Spartan Gabriel Thorne was the only one in his team sitting down and staring at his Recruit helmet. Every Spartan had customized their helmets and armor to their liking, a way of designing them to fit into their own personalities and specifications. A way for the UNSC to show the civilian population that they weren't merely robots. They called it customization. He called it propaganda.
Thorne looked up to see Spartan Naiya Ray standing over him, her brown eyes looking at him like he was a little kid. "I'm alright." he replied with a smile.
Ray had been the new addition to the Fireteam five months ago. Her previous experience with Spartan Fireteam Jackknife was…. painful to deal with. The fact that she had lost all her teammates at the Battle of Ealen IV would leave anyone with a hole in their heart. But that didn't let her stop being a good soldier. Time and time again, she had proved to Fireteam Majestic that not only was she good at what she did but also that she had everyone's back in a fight. And that she was a good friend.
"Of course he's alright." Spartan Anthony Madsen said from across the Pelican. Madsen was checking his SRS99-S5 AM sniper rifle, clicking and charging the rifle every few seconds before fixing a minute error in the rifle. "It's not every day that you find yourself lost in a different part of the galaxy. And that's nothing compared to finding a whole new Forerunner world to explore." The sniper looked up and grinned at Thorne. "But seriously though. Are you alright? You look like you had a date with a Jackal last night."
Thorne heard a cough and a giggle from whom he could tell was Hoya, his bald ebony head shining in the Pelican's dim light. Even Thorne and Ray cracked a small smile at the terrible joke. "Give it a rest, Madsen." Hoya said, his deep voice rumbling over the team like an engine passing by.
"Oh don't tell me you're not concerned too."
Hoya didn't say anything and he didn't need to. His silence gave Madsen his answer. And Thorne understood as well. They were a team. Of course they were worried about him. The only one who hadn't spoken up about his behavior was Tedra Grant which didn't surprise him. Grant was the most calm when it came to missions like these. She was focused and always on task. But by her actions and body language right now, he knew she was thinking the same thing.
The Pelican pilot's voice came over the speakers. "Thirty seconds to drop site."
"It's nothing." Thorne finally said. "Let's get this over with."
Ray nodded before turning away and re-checking her gear. Thorne picked himself up and put on his helmet before grabbing his MA5D assault rifle. He secured the Type-3 active camouflage module on his hip clip and prepared to get out of the Pelican. His team gathered behind him and did the same. The Pelican rumbled as the thrusters fired downward, slowing their descent until they came to a complete stop. The sun shined off the reflecting white surface as the ramp opened to reveal the snow-covered surface. Thorne's HUD instantly enacted a filter, reducing the glare from the sunlight reflected off the ground and allowing them to see properly.
He glanced at the temperature reading. It read as -44 degrees Celsius. Their suits had been designed to handle the coldness of outer space. Compared to that, this planet was a cakewalk. Literally. The powdery snow gave way under their boots as they strode out of the Pelican, surveying the area around them. The squad next to them, coming from the second Pelican, was similarly looking at the land and taking in the environment. But this squad wasn't particularly human in that regard.
The Swords of Sanghelios stretched out their hunched backs and breathed in the cold fresh air, a roar of triumph emitting from their mouths as their mandibles opened wide. Being cooped up on a ship for two weeks was not unusual. But even Thorne could understand that this fresh air was definitely better than the recycled ones on the Infinity.
"Ah screw it," said Madsen as the Sangheili's cries began to die down. "Permission to remove our helmets."
Under the helmet, Thorne smiled a little before responding, "I don't see why not. This is Fireteam Majestic. Requesting permission to take off our helmets for a short while."
Over the comms system, another voice came through. One of the other Fireteams was piggybacking. "This is Fireteam Crimson. We wouldn't mind if we could do the same. The Swords seem to really like the air."
Thorne could tell Commander Palmer was eye rolling even before she spoke. "Fine." She said, begrudgingly. "But it's your head on the line."
"Understood, Commander." Thorne replied. He gave a look to his squad and they all took off their helmets.
The air was freezing. The temperature reading wasn't kidding. The dry, cold air clenched Thorne's face and stung his esophagus as he breathed in the air. Despite its harshness, his brain welcomed the feeling. The oxygen in the air was pure; purer than any starship could recycle.
Thorne heard a whoop from Hoya as the man bent back and gave out a massive yell of joy similar yet shriller than the ones given by the Sangheili. The entire Fireteam was beaming. But their joy was short lived as the coldness began creeping to their heads. "Alright helmets back on." Thorne said as he slid his own back into place. Nobody complained as they did the same. They were too happy from breathing in the fresh air.
The wind bellowed as the Albatross partnered with them began its descent. It landed on the ground with a thud before the cargo bay ramp door began to lower. Thorne turned to his squad and gestured to the Albatross. They nodded back and made their way to the cargo ship. A few moments later, the Sangheili Squad joined them.
The Sangheili squad consisted of five Sangheili Covert Majors and an Ultra, all high-ranking officers of the Swords of Sanghelios. Normally Covert Majors would operate squads of their own, commanding Sangheili Minors, Unggoy, and Kig-Yar into battle. But these Swords had been specifically hand chosen by the Arbiter himself to serve on the UNSC Infinity. Their deep red armor was a stark contrast to their immediate surroundings. However, what they lacked in camouflage, they made up for that for their own active camouflage equipment and personal plasma swords. But the one who caught his attention was the Sangheili, clad in silver pearlescent armor, that led them.
"Ultra Nakheem." Spartan Thorne nodded to the Elite in respect to which Ultra Nakheem reciprocated.
"Spartan Thorne." The feminine voice of the Sangheili female resonated through his comms system. "Normally I would be happy to converse however, despite our love for the Infinity, we do wish to return home as soon as possible." Nakheem's tone was sharp yet her eyes showed concern.
"I understand." Thorne knew that she meant well but he also understood her reasoning. A few days ago, the Sangheili had lost as many brothers and sisters in arms as the UNSC had in the failed ambush. Not only that, but they were still embroiled in their civil war. This last push was to end the Covenant once and for all. Now they may never know. "We'll catch our ride home as soon as possible."
"Thank you, Spartan." The Ultra turned around and marched back to her squad, barking out orders in Sangheili to the Majors.
Thorne spoke into the microphone in his helmet. "Alright, Spartans listen up."Green blinking lights flashed on his head-up display, receiving the confirmation that they were listening. "We split up into two teams of three. Hoya. Tedra. You're with me. Madsen, you lead the other two. We take a Warthog each and initiate a search. Report anything that you see."
"Copy that." replied Madsen. Everyone else gave nods. "You think we'll find anything?"
"We have to. There is no other choice. Remember, we need to find out what happened back home. Not just for us but our allies too." Thorne pinged Commander Palmer on the net. "Thorne to Commander Palmer. Alpha team is beginning the search now."
"Roger that." Commander Palmer replied. "Crimson has already started their search. I suggest you get a move on. Good luck, Spartans."
There was a moment in the last chapter when it hit 343 views and I did a little dance of joy and had a massive smile on my face. Yup. That made my day then and there. Then real life hit me. (proceeds to stab self)
The next chapter will be even better I swear! Mainly cause its First Contact.