"There was only one ship," a deep voice said. There were rows of Elites wearing funny looking hats, standing at attention. At the end of the rows was a golden Elite facing two old looking aliens in floating chairs.

"One, are you sure?"

"Uh…" The golden Elite looked up, placing a hand to his split chin. "Yes, only one. They called it Pillar of Autumn."

"Why was it not destroyed with the rest of their fleet," an angry old alien questioned.

"It fled," the Elite explained. "As we set fire to their planet, and I followed with all the ships in my command."

"When you first saw Halo, were you blinded by its majesty," the holographic old alien asked.

"Uh…no I could see very clearly. It was a giant planet like ring thing that we worship."

"No, no that's not what I meant," the holographic floater snapped. "Were you paralyzed or dumbstruck?"

"No," the Elite replied, questioning the old man's reasoning.

"And yet the humans were able to evade your ships, land on the Sacred Ring, and desecrate it with their filthy footsteps! Seriously, how hard is to stop a bunch of humans? They're idiotic apes!" A large white haired ape stood off to the side, looked down at the ground awkwardly. "Um, present company excluded of course."

"Thanks," the monkey replied.

"Noble Hierarchs, surely you understand that once the parasite attacked-,"

The council members of Elites and old aliens, known as Prophets, all started muttering with rage. Everyone went quite when a really old floating alien wearing the biggest crown this side of the queen of England came up.

"You were right to focus your attention on the Flood," the prophet stated. "But these Demons, this Red Team…"

"By the time I discovered the idiots' intent…there was nothing I could do."

The Prophet council members rose to their feet, screaming racial comments towards the Elite. The Elite council looked to each other and muttered while others were fast asleep. Off in the corner, the white haired ape, or Brute, chuckled coldly with amusement.

"Noble Prophet of Truth, make an example of this split chin salamander, the council demands it!" Truth held up his hand and like a bitch, Regret went silent.

"You are one of our most treasured instruments. Long have you lead your fleet with honor and distinction. But your inability to safeguard Halo…was a colossal failure."

"Nay, it was heresy," a Prophet shouted as he shot to his feet.

"Come on," the Elite snapped. "It's not like I blew it up!" The Councilors all started shouted amongst each other. "I will continue my campaign against the humans!"

"No," Truth shouted. "You shall not." Truth motioned toward the white Brute, Tartarus. The Brute barked at two normal looking monkeys who approached the Elite. "Soon, the Great Journey shall begin." One of the Brutes grabbed the Elite's arm, but was quickly shaken off. "But when it does, the weight of your heresy shall stain your feet." The Elite was escorted out by two Brutes and their chieftain Tartarus. "And you shall be left behind…"


On a distant planet, light-years away from the Covenant, a few UNSC ships flew by on a space station that looked like a giant gun. Inside the gun space station, a human gunnery sergeant stormed into the armory.

"God damn it you all," he shouted. "Your plating was about to fail, there's viscosity in the gel layer!"

"Donut," a thick southern accent shouted. "How many times have I told you NOT to use lotion in your armor!"

"I can't help it Sarge, the armor chaffs my thighs! This new armor is much better. It's so flexible and doesn't require me to stretch out my hammies before I get in."

"Well, I guess it was all obsolete anyway. Your alls new suits are a Mark VI, just came up from Songnam this morning. Try and take it easy until you're use to the upgrades."

Sarge turned to the orange Spartan who was lounging about, watching TV. The Red commander kicked Grif in the side of the head, causing him to cry out with pain and fall on his side.

"OW!"

"Hey, what're you-,"

"Armor works just fine," Sarge said, cutting the gunnery sergeant off.

"Hey, what's all this extra stuff," Simmons asked. "I don't think I've seen this tech before."

"Oh those are just some special upgrades I got ya'll for combat. They're armor upgrades and each of your suits has a special ability. Grif, you have an armor lock feature that allows you to become temporarily invincible."

"Really," Grif questioned. The orange Spartan kneeled down and punched the ground, covered by a special shield and he didn't budge a bit. Sarge ran up and kicked Grif in the face, but it felt like kicking a cement wall.

"YEOW!"

"Sweet," Grif exclaimed. "How do I unlock it?"

"How should I know," the gunnery sergeant shouted angrily.

"Hey, this isn't cool! I want to move and stuff! Oh this isn't good!"

"Simmons," the sergeant continued. "You can project holographic copies of yourself out into battle to confuse and distract your opponents."

"Oh sweet."

"Not really, they become self conscious after a few minutes so don't drag it out too long. Donut can drop a barrier that heals and rejuvenates your team since we don't use medical kits anymore. And Sarge, you've got a…"

"YEAH-HA-HA," Sarge laughed as he flew around at full speed all through the armory. The Red commander activated his jetpack as soon as he heard the word. His flying and swooping caused the gunnery sergeant, Simmons, and Donut all to hit the ground. "You knew just what I wanted! Aside from a dead Grif!"

"God damn it, you're screwin up my armory! Turn it off ya idiot!" Sarge slowed down and hovered in the air, looking at his jetpack without deactivating it.

"I've never heard of Spartan-II soldiers getting these," Simmons stated. "I thought they were only for the Spartan-III soldiers."

"Simmons," Sarge shouted, "Our armor is the most advanced armor ever constructed by the UNSC! If the low-tech Spartan III soldiers could support this type of tech, then what kind of topsy-turvy world would we live in when more advanced armor couldn't have the same technology that the primitive Spartan III armor had?"

"Well maybe if the game designers-,"

"Simmons! Stow that remark!" The Red commander deactivated his jetpack, planting both feet on the ground firmly. Sarge looked back over his shoulder, admiring his new toy. "I've always wanted one. Who ordered it for me?"

"Me of course," a gruff and tough voice replied. Everyone, except Grif, turned their heads, seeing Sergeant Johnson walking in, wearing a slick and formal white shirt. "I remember you told me you wanted a jetpack, so there ya go."

"Sarge," the Red commander said to Johnson with a tearful tone. "I can't thank you enough. But if you were getting gifts then why didn't you-,"

"Grif is still a soldier of the UNSC, and after Reach, we could use all the Spartans we can get, even if they only kill a Grunt or two. Why does he have his fist in the ground?"

"The idiot activated his armor lock and doesn't know how to unlock it," the gunnery sergeant replied.

"Well, drag him on the elevator," Johnson ordered. "We can't keep Lord Hood waiting all day." Simmons and Donut both got behind Grif and started pushing him.

"Damn it Grif, I said to watch your weight," Simmons groaned.

"Hey, find a diet that works for me and I'll lose weight!"

"I have you a whole list of diets," Donut grunted. "What'd you do with it?"

"Used it as a napkin…" The three Reds finally got onto the elevator as Johnson and Sarge walked on casually.

"How's my helmet," Sarge asked Johnson as the elevator doors closed.

"Alright, so do you all know how this is gonna work," Johnson asked. "We walk in, some marines start cheering for us because we're just that amazing, then we enter a room with a bunch of admirals, generals, all sorts of high up ranks. Lord Hood is going to present us with medals, you accept them."

"What the fuck, where are we supposed to put medals," Grif asked. "We're wearing armor, it's not like we can just pin them onto our nice cloth made shirts."

"Shut up Grif," Sarge snapped. "I brought my box of medals." Sarge reached back and pulled out a small box that put most jewelry boxes that boyfriends got their spouses to shame. Sarge opened it, revealing dozens of various medals.

"Whoa," Donut exclaimed.

"Amazing sir," Simmons added.

"Yep, I've got just about every medal there is in ass kicking and degrading my soldiers there is. Except Sergeant Johnson's medal of revolutionized ass-kicking!"

"That's a tough one kid," Johnson stated. "They named the medal after me and it took me quite awhile to get it."

"Wait, how does that make any sense," Simmons questioned. Just then, Grif shot up, yelping with shock. The orange Spartan shook his head clear.

"Great, I'm back," he exclaimed.

"Good," Sarge replied before punching him across the face as hard as possible. Grif cried out and fell to the floor while Sarge simply shook his fist loose. The Reds turned around, seeing a few dozen marines applauding and cheering for them. "Men, make sure the cameras catch your good side!"

"Yes sir," Simmons replied, eager to serve any order Sarge gave him.

"Fuck that hurt," Grif muttered as he slowly rose to his feet.

"I was told there weren't going to be cameras," Donut fussed, "I didn't even dress up or anything."

"Folks need a hero er…four, Donut," Johnson stated as he approached the door, pressing the open button. "So smile will ya? While we still got something to smile about!" The door opened and Johnson and the Reds entered through a very bright, white light for some reason.


Back with that golden Elite at the beginning of this chapter, he was walking forward with the two Brutes behind him. On the sides were Elite honor guards acting as security. Tartarus was already at the end of a ledge, enticing a crowd of thousands of Grunts, Jackals, and Hunters. As the Brutes approached and put the bindings on the Elite's wrists, Tartarus turned around.

"You've drawn quite a crowd," the chieftain stated.

"If they came to hear me beg," the Elite began, "then tell them all to FUCK OFF!" The crowd booed and shouted to kill the heretic.

"Well, that's enough for me," Tartarus stated before waved his hand up. Two beams of energy struck the Elite's armor, causing him to shake and twitch with pain.


Back towards Earth, the Reds and Johnson entered the MAC gun's bridge where many more officers wearing white applauded and cheered for them. The group approached the man in front, Lord Hood, and saluted him.

Hood returned the gesture, "Gentlemen, we're lucky to have you back." A random officer whispered to Hood who nodded then turned to a small pedestal. "Go ahead Cortana." A familiar purple avatar, but with longer hair, popped up.

"Another whisper sir, near IO, we have probes in route."

"I'm sorry but we're going to have to make this quick." Hood turned around to grab the medals. Cortana turned to the two sergeants and smiled.

"You look nice," she said with a smile.

"Thanks," Sarge and Johnson replied simultaneously. The two exchanged looks between one another before looking back to Lord Hood.

"Sergeant Major, the Colonial Cross is awarded for acts of singular daring and devotion, for a soldier of the United Earth Space Corps…"


"There can be no greater heresy," Tartarus shouted to the crowd. "Let him be an example to all who would break our Covenant!" The crowd cheered, calling for blood.

"Split his chin even more," a Grunt shouted.

"Serve the squid face on some calamari," another shouted.

Tartarus turned his head then barked to his two Brutes. They looked at each other and to the Elite whose armor was now charred. He looked to the two monkeys like he wasn't just burned to a crisp. The Brutes quickly grabbed the Elite's chest plate and pulled it off.


Back on the Cario space station, a young woman walked up next to Sarge and Johnson. "Who's that," Grif asked in a whisper.

"How should I know," Simmons snapped, keeping his voice down. "Probably some bitch who got her rank from blowing her commanding officers." Grif and Simmons chuckled to themselves.

"Commander Miranda Keyes," Lord Hood said loudly.

"Keyes," Grif and Simmons shouted. Sarge, Johnson, Miranda, and Hood all looked over towards their direction.

"As in Captain Keyes," Grif asked.

"That's me," Miranda replied, her tone questioning Grif's intelligence. "Captain Jacob Keyes was my dad."

"Can you shut the hell up now Grif," Sarge snapped.

"Thank you Sarge," Miranda said with a smile.

"Not a problem ma'am."

"Yeah, just wait until she finds out you broke her father's face," Grif muttered.

"As I was saying: Commander Miranda Keyes, your father's actions were in keeping of the highest traditions in military service. His bravery in the face of impossible odds reflects great credit, upon himself, and the UNSC. The Navy has lost one of its finest." Hood handed her a medal which she took with a solemn nod.


Back in High Charity, a naked Elite hung loosely after a savage beating from the Brutes. A glowing brand came up and Tartarus took it in his hand and stepped forward. The Elite looked up, raising his eyebrow muscle curiously. Tartarus huffed and narrowed his eyes curiously.

"I said if they want to hear me beg, then they can fuck off…and they're going to be disappointed…"

"I'll soon change that," Tartarus snapped bitterly.

"Bring it bitch!" The Elite snapped its mandibles at the Brute, causing him to pull his head back a bit with shock. Tartarus growled then slammed the brand against the Elite's bare skin. The Elite kept his mandibles shut, trying not to give in. As Tartarus started twisting the brand slightly, making sure it burned within the Elite, he threw his head back. Tartarus grinned, knowing he was going to scream in pain.

"FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!" Tartarus chuckled and removed the brand, holding it out for one of his Brute flunkies to take it. The Elite lowered his head, staring directly at the white haired Brute. "Hey, you." One of the Brutes pointed to himself with a dumb expression on his face. "Yeah, what's you're name?"

"Frank," the Brute replied.

"Hey Frank, can you tell Tartarus, I think his grandmother was here trying to work me over." The Elite honor guards chuckled quietly, trying to keep their composure. Tartarus growled then socked him across the face.

"Finish him," Tartarus ordered. The two Brutes approached the Elite, cracking their knuckles.

"Oh, are you Tartarus' sisters? Cause all of you Brutes look the same: UGLY AS HELL! And your mothers look like males! And they have hairy knuckles!"

"Thank you," Frank replied. The second Brute punched Frank one the barked something. The two Brutes then started to wail on the Elite's body.


Back on Cario, Lord Hood had made it to the Red Team. "Private Franklin Delano Donut, the medal of Paula Dean is awarded to those who manage to make even the grimmest of situations into a French themed tea party involving human and Covenant alike…even if the aliens were to be killed by Sarge two minutes later." The Red commander let out a few quiet chuckles. "And the medal of Ewww, Sticky is awarded to those who can stick an enemy with fragmentation grenade."

"I just wrapped it in chewing gum," Donut said cheerfully. Hood held the medals out to the pink Spartan. "Um…sir, not to be disrespectful, but can you send those medals to my wife?"

"WIFE," Simmons and Grif repeated, nearly falling over with shock.

"Yeah, Tiffany," Donut stated, "Have you guys met her? I know Sarge has."

"Yep, went over there for the team evaluation. Donut, tell your wife that I'd love to get the recipe for her strawberry shortcake!"

"Sarge, you know it's her family recipe," Donut replied.

"What the hell," Grif snapped. "Donut has a wife."

"And twelve kids," Sarge added.

"TWELVE," Simmons repeated.

"Good lord," Grif shrieked.

"Sarge, we only have ten kids. Twins eleven and twelve are on their way!" Donut turned back to Hood, who had a slight look of annoyance. "Oh, sorry sir."

"It's okay Donut," Hood assured. "I'll have these sent to your family right away."

"Thank you sir." Hood turned around and handed the medals to another officer who threw them into a brown envelop with bubble wrap for protection. "Private Dexter Grif, we don't have a medal for your laziness and incompetence and continuing disrespect for your superior officers, so I'll just give you this kick in the nuts." Hood thrusted his foot up, nailing Grif in the crotch. Grif groaned and fell onto his knees.

"Ow…"

"However, we do have this gold medal for being the winner in the UNSC eating contest." Hood knelt down and placed the medal in Grif's hand.

"Thank you sir," Grif muttered with a meek voice before groaning again.

"Private First Class Dick Simmons, the Brown Nose medal is awarded to those who have such low self-esteem that they blindly follow any order and worship their superior officer with fanatical devotion." Hood placed the medal in Simmons' hand.

"Sir, thank you sir, you look very nice today sir, I appreciate the medal sir, thank you so much sir, are those new shoes sir?" Hood shook his head then approached Sarge.

"Sergeant um…" Hood looked towards Johnson, the only person who knew Sarge better than anyone.

"Hey, I called him 'Maggot' in Sergeant School," Johnson replied. "I don't even know his real name, and I looked through his record."

"Sarge," Lord Hood continued. "The medal of Incomprehensible Violence is awarded to those that…well commit various crimes of incomprehensible violence. The medal of Ass Kicking is awarded to…well all of these medals basically say why they're awarded." Hood handed over two more medals to Sarge.

"Alright, when I retire I'm gonna have to have two refrigerators to put on all these medals on!" Suddenly alarms started going off.

"Slipspace ruptures directly off our battle cluster," Cortana stated.

"Show me," Hood ordered. There were images on the screen of Covenant ships, and a UNSC fleet heading towards them.

"This is Fleet Admiral Harper, we are engaging the enemy!"

"Bitch, I know you're not doing something without my orders," Hood shouted. "Form a defensive perimeter around the cluster." Hood turned to Miranda. "Commander get to your ship, link up with the fleet."

"Yes sir," Miranda replied with a quick solute then she was gone.

"You're got the MAC gun Cortana, as soon as they come into range, open up!"

"Ooh," Sarge said. "A women with the biggest, most destructive gun in the world. Now that I find sexy." The three Red soldiers looked over at their commanding officer quizzically.

"Well you'd better hurry up, otherwise you might miss the fireworks." Cortana winked before her avatar disappeared.

"Sarge, were you just flirting with an AI," Grif asked.

"Well I would've flirted with your mother, but I can't since you were the horrible byproduct at a turd manufacturing plant!"

"Sir," an officer shouted. "Additional contacts, boarding crafts and lots of em!"

"Ah those dick-heads," Hood muttered. "Red Team, defend this station!"

"Yes sir," Sarge shouted. The Red commander punched Grif directly in the face, causing him to cry out and fall to the ground. "I need a weapon," Sarge told Johnson.

"Right this way," the human sergeant replied with a sinisterly happy tone.