Chapter 19 Return of the Spirit of Fire

A UNSC cruiser was on patrol near the covenant border. Its counterpart, an elite cruiser patrolled its border as well. Soon the sensors now enhanced with Federation technology registered a ship approaching between both borders. The Elite shipmaster contacted the cruiser asking if they've detected the ship. The captain of the cruiser confirmed it and both vessels set a course for the vessel. The Human cruiser registered the transponder of the ship as the Spirit of Fire.

"Spirit of Fire, that ship was declared lost early in the war." Said Captain Juliet Forge. Turning to her comm. officer "Send a message to Reach HighCom. Tell them we've found the Spirit of Fire." She also contacted the Elite ship and informed the shipmaster of the discovery. "Elite vessel, this is Captain Juliet Forge, we've detected a vessel on a course parallel to our borders do you read the same?"

"Captain Forge, this is the Carrier Redemption we do."

Our sensors indicate that it is a human ship and that most of the crew is in cryostasis. We'll hail the ship but I recommend you keep your distance. If the AI is still operational it might conceive your ship as a threat as it has no way of knowing about the treaty and the end of the war."

"Acknowledged"

"Spirit of Fire, this is the UNSC Cruiser Arizona do you read?" said the Captain

"Cruiser Arizona, this is UNSC Military AI Serina serial number 32891-183943-23234. I read you… Are you aware that there is a Covenant Carrier holding position not far from here?"

"I am, Serina, the war is over you will not initiate aggressive action against that cruiser that's an order acknowledge."

"Acknowledged Captain, I assume there is a cease-fire of some sort."

"Yes, there is a full treaty between us; we're sending you a summary of the war which is over by the way and recent events. It should explain everything."

"Acknowledged."

She read the file very then quickly contacted the Arizona again. "Captain, all of the crew including Captain Cutter is in stasis. You'll need to come aboard to wake them and explain everything. I'll prepare a landing bay for a pelican."

"No need I'll be over in a moment."

"Ok….. how are you-"

Serina's thought processes stopped for a full ten seconds as she processed what happened. The Captain and two other technicians appeared out of thin air out of a shimmer of blue light. "Hello Serina, I'm Captain Juliet Forge, what's the status of the ship?"

Serina quickly recovered and answered the Captain's question "The ship is currently powered down. The reactor is offline with just the batteries providing enough power to keep me and the cryo pods active."

"Ok, begin the startup sequence for the reactors." She said nodding to the two technicians she followed them to the command cryo chamber. They woke Captain Cutter.

"Captain Cutter, my name is Juliet Forge. The year is 2550. The war with the Covenant is over."

Cutter, understandably stunned was speechless. "We were in cryo for that long? The war is over? How many ships and people did we lose? How many planets? Sorry Captain, I have a lot of questions for you."

"Of course I understand if you like we'll take you to my ship and I'll bring you up to speed on what's been happening. By the way we've made a lot of technological and weapons advances since the end of the war so brace yourself." To the two technicians "Hold off on reviving the rest of the crew until Captain Cutter has been briefed but go over the ship again and double check ship systems."

"Yes ma'am."

"Please stand still Captain. Forge to Arizona two to beam up."

"Acknowledged, initiating transport." Replied the transporter chief

Captain Cutter gave her a strange look "Beam? What do you mean-"

His question was cut off as the transporter beam took him aboard the Arizona. When they rematerialized Forge immediately led Cutter to a briefing room where she showed him what happened during the war briefly described the events at Reach then Halo and both Battles of Earth and Delta Halo as well. She also introduced the intervention of the Federation and its advanced technology. Cutter was again speechless.

"I understand this might be a little overwhelming Captain but I must know the events that led to your ship's disappearance. Records indicate that your ship made a slipspace jump away from Arcadia prime but never came back. Please tell me what happened."

Cutter outlined the events on the Forerunner world and the destruction of the Forerunner fleet. He also told of the Flood, which surprised Forge because the first recorded encounter with the Flood was Master Chief's mission on Alpha Halo. He outlined the end of the campaign there with the only recorded loss of UNSC personnel being one Sergeant John Forge. Juliet looked stunned. "Forge? He was my father. You said he died?"

"Yes he had to stay with our FTL reactor to detonate it in the sun in order to destroy the Forerunner Shield World. He took out an Arbiter himself right before hand." Replied Cutter.

"Interesting, you said that you had a SPARTAN team onboard?"

"Yes, four SPARTANS from Red team."

"Good, the Chief will be glad to see them again. As soon as the reactor on your ship is up we'll take you to a spacedock nearby where we can wake your crew and bring them all up to speed."

"Ok, what about that Covenant Carrier? How are they gonna handle this?"

"We'll inform them that the Captain of the vessel has been briefed on the times and we'll be taking the vessel to a spacedock nearby."

"Ok, can we wake the SPARTANS though I prefer to have them ready for anything."

"I think we can do that." She tapped a control on the wall. "Arizona to Spirit of Fire."

"Spirit of Fire here Lieutenant Thomas reporting."

"Wake only the SPARTANs lieutenant. Leave the rest of the crew in stasis. How is the startup sequence coming?"

"All but one of the reactors are up ma'am, there isn't that much structural damage so we can tow it at warp speed." Replied Thomas

"Good, we'll get ready to tow the vessel soon."

"Yes ma'am we'll be standing by." Said the Lieutenant then the channel closed

"We should go to the bridge." Said Forge.

"Of course." Replied Cutter

They walked onto the bridge Forge said "Report."

"Captain, we're almost in towing position, course is set for Reach. We're ready to extend our warp field around the Spirit then go to warp." Said her first officer

"Good, standby." Replied Forge.

"Reach? I thought you said the facilities were destroyed and the planet glassed." asked Cutter

"Reach has been tarreformed by the Federation. It can once again sustain life. The Facilities there have been rebuilt. By the way the Elites our helping us so when we wake your crew tell them immediately that the war is over and that the Elites are our allies now. There is still bound to be some problems. So we'll limit interaction between the races for now." Replied Forge.

The Arizona got into position in front of the Spirit and locked a tractor beam onto the ship. The Cruiser then extended its warp field around the Spirit and jumped to warp. Another cruiser came in ten minutes to take over the patrol route of the Arizona. The Arizona arrived at Reach a few days later where the Spirit of Fire was docked its crew was thawed out of cryo, taken to an amphitheater and brought up to speed on current events. The Federation received a message summarizing the events and sent councilors to meet with the crew of the Spirit of Fire to help them deal with the loss of some home planets, loved ones and the shock of being in stasis for twenty-five to thirty years. Because the Spirit of Fire had been modified for military duty and was a former colony ship the Federation, in a joint project with the Klingon Empire, UNSC and Covenant Separatist developed the Helljumper class troop deployment vessel.

SPARTAN Red team met with the Master Chief and was reassigned to Blue team.