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Footbutt

Footbutt

7/11/2012 1:36:42 PM
i've been writing this story and i realized it's going to be much shorter and travel much faster than my previous stories. i resigned myself to writing a story with a contained plot, nothing too epic but just good old-fashioned Halo stuff, ya know? It takes place in 2546, just after Operation: TORPEDO. ONI has decided to send two [i]Prowler[/i]-class ships, [i]Nagamo[/i] and [i]Apocolypso[/i], to investigate a slipspace anomaly. With very limited resources, captains Galin Thorm and Amanda Greene must face overwhelming odds to secure the safety of the UNSC. At any cost. [Edited on 08.09.2012 10:25 AM PDT]
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  • amandabuine
  • Footbutt

    Footbutt

    8/9/2012 6:24:59 PM Permalink
    *** *** *** *** *** Captain Greene didn't bother changing out of her uniform and she awoke with a distinct lack of cleanliness. She quickly ran a brush through her dirty-blonde hair and washed her face before ducking out of her quarters and starting for the bridge. The corridors were bathed in dimmed red light, and Amanda could hear a distant argument coming from the female barracks off to her left. She frowned and turned down the short hallway to find two women standing, facing each other and Rolf Sorenson leaning against the doorway to the barracks with a perpetual wince on her face. Rolf and a tall woman were wearing robes and their hair dripped wet, while the female officer stood in full uniform with her arms folded across her chest. "It wasn't like that," Rolf tried to explain quietly. The tall woman with auburn hair turned from her pose in front of the female officer she had been yelling at. "Then what would you call it? 'A friendly from-behind hug'? Cause it sure as hell felt like you were feeling me up!" "Ladies," the officer interrupted, obviously on her last nerve. "May I remind you that we are on Alert Alpha and any insubordination will result in immediate isolation confinement?" She caught site of Captain Greene and saluted out of reflex, the other two unmoving. "Captain, ma'am. I . . ." Amanda held up a hand. "What's going on here?" Rolf awkwardly pulled her robe tighter and looked downcast, unable to respond under the captain's scrutiny and gaze. "A misunderstanding," she finally said. The tall woman snorted. "If you call 'assault' that, then yeah." Greene raised her chin. "Are you hurt? Do you need any medical attention?" "Well, no, but she assaulted me." The captain glanced over at Rolf who now looked almost sick with helpless frustration. She turned back to the offended woman and narrowed her eyes. Over her shoulder, Amanda could see a crowd of men gathering outside their section, some looking curious and others wide-eyed for a cat fight. "Do you think this apparent incident warranted disrupting both the female and male barracks?" The auburn-haired woman paused with her opened mouth ready for a retort, but she looked back at the officer, read her beckoning expression for cause to lock both of them up, and she seemed to deflate. "No, Captain." "Like Sergeant Brendall said, we are on Alert Alpha and any insubordination will result in immediate confinement." Amanda leaned in. "[i]Any[/i] insubordination." She let her gaze spread across the gathered crowd. "Yes, Captain," both the tall woman and Rolf said in unison. Amanda nodded slowly. "Dismissed, all of you." When the crowd turned but still lingered, she raised her voice. "Now!" Everyone scattered except Rolf and Amanda. The captain stood there, waiting until all were out of earshot. "Ensign Sorenson, of all the times to cause a disruption, you chose now?" Rolf's eyes glazed over with a tearful shine. "It wasn't what she said," she practically whispered. "Several women and I were gathered in the shower when one of them pushed me from behind and I fell forward onto Technician Thompson." Rolf looked down again. Greene sighed and folded her arms across her chest. "And why would they stage such a thing?" She shrugged and ran a hand through her wet hair. "They don't like me. Ever since I was brought aboard [i]Apocolypso[/i] people have singled me out." A few trace lines in Sorenson's psychiatric profile flashed before Amanda's mind's eye and she suddenly put the pieces together. The previous incidents in Sorenson's rap sheet were all based around conflict over her bi-blam!- tendencies, and it was one reason she was so awkward around everyone. She always feared criticism or a lack of trust, and sometimes the teasing bubbled over into all out brawls. Since Sorenson had joined the Office of Naval Intelligence at such a promising, early age, her hormonal and emotional outbursts were thrown into a tailspin when she had been brought into a group of abusive male training instructors. That first 6 months had changed her opinion of men and subsequently shaped her -blam!-ity during her developing years. It was a very complicated situation and Greene knew she had to be sensitive. "It's because of your . . . orientation?" she asked carefully. Rolf nodded. "They probably figured they could set me up to teach me a lesson or something." She pulled her robe tighter and shivered. "I'm sorry, Captain." "Don't be," she said in a sympathetic tone. Greene unfolded her arms and pulled out her personal datapad. "Tell you what I'll do." She accessed the quartermaster program connected to the ship's main database. "Since Lieutenant Hyde is on leave, and because you [i]are[/i] a brevet Second Officer, you can take his quarters for the duration of this mission." She furrowed her brow. "Would that help?" Sorenson frowned deeper than she had before. "I'm not a charity case." "Then consider it an order." She returned her datapad to her belt clip and gave a thin-lipped smile. "You're too valuable to lose to some internal barrack squabbling. And I'll see to it that Tech Thompson and her cretins get reprimanded." "Please don't," Rolf blurted out. "I'd rather just let the issue drop." Greene eyed the ensign for a moment. It was obvious that the young woman was in some emotional turmoil and it would probably be for the best to quell the problem now and end it. "Very well." She straightened up. "After you get settled in, meet me on the bridge. I'm sure [i]Nagamo[/i] isn't too far away." "Yes, ma'am." As Amanda Greene turned and headed for the bridge, her mind raced. She knew bringing Sorenson aboard was a good decision, despite her past, but if not for the ensign's quick thinking and critical insight, Greene would probably have no just reason to sustain her career. It was a kind of gamble. She just hoped it was worth the risk.
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  • Footbutt

    Footbutt

    8/9/2012 6:24:09 PM Permalink
    Chapter 4 Galin Thorm awoke groggy. He forced his eyes to open and found his room was still dark. Since his alarm was connected to the environmental controller in his cabin, he knew by the lack of a warm orange glow that should be filling his room that he still had a while before his scheduled wakeup. He turned onto his side, expecting to find Kandis still asleep next to him, but she wasn't there. He blew a frustrated sigh out his nostrils. Despite staying awake for her arrival late last night, Kandis had apparently chosen to sleep in her own cabin. And now, for that reason, his "late to bed, early to rise" routine was denying him an adequate block of sleep before a long day ahead of him. Galin rolled back over on his back and stared at the ceiling, forcing his mind to ease. [i]She's just in one of her moods. She'll snap out of it once the mission is in full swing.[/i] Galin rubbed his eyes and sat up. The burning in his eyes subsided and he spun 90 degrees to place his bare feet on the floor. "Jovan," he croaked, his voice strained. The AI flickered into existence on the pedestal next to Galin's terminal, basking the room in a soft green glow. "Yes, Captain?" "What's our ETA?" he asked, standing in the process. Galin started for the personal lavatory and bit back a curse when he found a pair of Kandis' undergarments in the doorway. It was a careless way for a cleaning crew or an uninvited guest to suspect their Captain was breaking regulations. He scooped them up and tossed them in the bin that connected to an incinerator near the ship's engines. "We are still 7 hours and 22 minutes out." Jovan rotated to follow the captain. "All systems are nominal. We are still in full Stealth," he added. "Good." Galin made it to the sink and splashed some cold water onto his face. "That's all for now, Jovan." When the room plunged into darkness from the AI's absence, Galin switch on the lavatory light, wincing at its brightness. His morning routine beckoned him, though he loathed working out this early, but his mission briefing wasn't for another three hours. [i]Might as well.[/i] Moments later, Galin was dressed in his physical training outfit and heading towards the galley/fitness room. Even the late shift crewmen would be finished with their cleaning of the area and the place should have been vacant. But when he was still a dozen paces away, he heard the shuffling of feet and short, calculating breaths coming from the small gap in the double doorway. When he entered, he saw something he wasn't prepared for. With movements faster than anyone he had ever seen, a teenage girl was delivering blow after blow against a workout dummy, its thick base nearly pitching backward with every third hit. Sweat drenched her loose-fitting shirt, and her short black hair glistened in the overhead lighting. Her skin was dark, but not as dark as Galin's, with an earthy tone to it. There was no mistaking who she was. She was halfway through another fighting move, this time with her hands positioned high above her head, when she finally noticed him. "Captain," she greeted without labored breath. She casually rested her arm upon the dummy's shoulder and smiled. "I'm surprised to see you here so early." Galin's brow furrowed. "I could say the same to you." He then frowned. "I thought Spartans always trained with their armor on. Something about reflex enhancement?" Nicole offered a half smile. "I already ran through my regiment with my MJOLNIR. I'm just finishing up the morning with a cool-down workout." She let her gaze drift downward. "Sometimes it's good to feel your own sweat and potential, you know?" He didn't fully, not in the way she was thinking, but he nodded anyway. He glanced around the room and found nearly every piece of equipment had been dragged out of storage. "If you need me to go, I can come back later. I don't want ONI finding out I held up a Spartan honing her skills," he said lightly. She narrowed her eyes and tilted her head slightly. "Why would ONI get upset about that?" The report of Operation: TORPEDO flashed before his eyes. "They can easily replace a lowly ship captain, but you Spartans . . . well, let's just say I'm honored that ONI entrusted me with bringing you along." Her gaze drifted down again, this time remaining fixed for a while. "I'm the only one assigned to this mission, aren't I? There's no Spartans or ODST squads waiting aboard [i]Apocolypso[/i]." Galin held in his breath for a moment. If he were talking to any other officer or specialist he would have cut the conversation off long ago. [i]But a Spartan deserves to know[/i]. "I think ONI is leaving us to fend for ourselves. I'd like to call it HIGHCOM's confidence in us as a unit, but I fear the UNSC is just too spread out to muster any sort of immediate response." He sighed. "But if there [i]is[/i] something big waiting for us at our destination, trust me; we're not going to do anything rash. The Office of Naval Intelligence has always calculated the cost before handing down orders." The Spartan snorted. "Not from what I've heard." She shook her head and waved a hand to dismiss further dialog on the subject. "I'm sorry, sir. Didn't mean to sound subordinate." Galin swallowed, hearing the harshness in his words. "No, you're right. When you've been an officer for as long as I have been, you start to automatically response in platitudes." "I understand, sir. And thank you for talking." She grinned passively and took a look around the room, as if noticing her path of destruction for the first time. "Do you want me to put all of this stuff away or leave it out for you?" "Don't worry about it," he said. "And thank [i]you[/i] for talking." Spartan-458 threw a quick salute and walked out, picking up her backpack in the process. As Galin watched her leave, he realized that ONI had picked the right Spartan for the job. She was still young but possessed an understanding and maturity that some of his own peers lacked. It was refreshing. Despite their lack of knowledge of the mission, he was now even surer of his crew and their abilities. Suppressing a yawn, Galin began to stretch. *** *** *** *** *** [i]Covenant.[/i] The entire bridge crew sat completely still as Melissa continued to narrow down the possible Covenant ships with cloaking systems. It was as if the AI was the only working individual in that moment. Greene snapped herself out of her daze and started issuing orders. "Sensors, focus everything you've got on that ship. Melissa, bring us to full stop, quietly. And maintain full Stealth." She spun around and gave Sorenson a respectful nod. "Nice work, Rolf." "Captain," Melissa said. "The ship appears to be holding steady several kilometers above the moon. They won't be able to enter the Slipstream until they clear lunar orbit." Amanda set her jaw. As cautious as she naturally was, they couldn't let a supposedly damaged enemy ship escape without know why it was so deep in UNSC Space. "Melissa, bring us in, but keep us outside of any know Covenant weaponry range." "Yes, Captain." It was another half hour before Melissa came back with the final description of the Covenant ship. It looked like a modified Corvette that appeared to be retrofitted to house the cloaking systems, and other unidentified protrusions rose along the ships port and starboard sides. Melissa labeled it as a Corvette, for its sheer size and shape, but it was obvious that this vessel was designed for a special purpose. To Captain Greene, it was unsettling to see such a mighty Covenant ship in a state of dormancy within visual range. [i]Galin's going to flip when he sees this.[/i] After [i]Apocolypso[/i] had been safely in position for nearly four hours, Amanda decided to try and grab some much-needed sleep. The Covenant ship was still unmoving and its shield and cloaking systems were locked in a pattern of malfunction. Melissa concurred that the pattern was random and not some sort of false display to lead them into a trap. It was unnerving to the entire crew, but with [i]Apocolypso[/i] on station, waiting for the Covenant ship to come to life, Melissa assured Captain Greene that there was no immediate threat. Sorenson agreed. "Melissa, I'll only be gone for a few hours, but alert me the moment anything changes. Follow protocol AJ-719 if you are unable to reach me in time for decisive action." Amanda stood and walked out of the bridge.
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  • Deaf Teletubby

    Deaf Teletubby

    7/21/2012 5:01:04 PM Permalink
    Great story Our books are very similar, can you check it out and tell me what you think? There is no Covenant in mine though! Click on "SRT Story" www.HaloSRTclan.webs.com [Edited on 07.22.2012 10:38 AM PDT]
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  • S p h 1 n X O 7
  • Footbutt

    Footbutt

    7/20/2012 3:01:52 PM Permalink
    thanks! this will be shorter chapters and faster pace (hopefully) than my previous stories, so check back often! the action might seem less up front, but i plan on fleshing it out. thanks for reading, guys!
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  • S p h 1 n X O 7
  • Footbutt

    Footbutt

    7/20/2012 11:27:42 AM Permalink
    *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** "Captain, a moment of your time?" Amanda Greene flinched upright. She had dozed off in her command chair and her right arm had been propping up her tired head. She blinked away sleepiness and composed herself before turning around to face Rolf Sorenson. "What is it?" Even though the ensign looked even more tired than Greene felt, she still appeared focused on the task at hand. "Ma'am, I believe we can solidify the theory of this anomaly." She motioned to her screen. Greene straightened up fully in her chair and pointed to the main viewscreen. "Bring it up here." After a moment hesitation of shyness, Rolf transferred her screen and the moon data on F342w 3L was replaced by a plethora of equations, mathematics, and hand drawn diagrams. The captain cracked a smile. [i]Now I know why she felt nervous at the attention[/i]. "What have you concluded?" "There's a good chance that the radiation levels--that we've already detected with our long-range sensors at the anomaly site--line up with the signatures we find in FTL drives." She switched the view to a chart of multiple makes and models of various UNSC and Covenant ships. "We can rule out smaller ships, such as [i]Prowler[/i]-class vessels, but the larger ones . . . well, there are a few possibilities." As she spoke, certain ship-types dimmed and the ones remaining brightened and were brought forward. "From a Covenant Corvette to a UNSC Cargo Hauler; they are all capable of producing such a massive disruption that [i]Raven's Call[/i] detected." Amanda nodded. Sorenson's file stated that she had an IQ level that rivaled most top researchers in their collective fields, but it was her tact for analysis that was one of the primary reasons Amanda had brought the promising ensign aboard. Aside from her social awkwardness and a few odd reprimands in the past, Sorenson had amazing potential in the Prowler Corps. "I concur, Captain," Melissa spoke from her pedestal. "There are still a number of possibilities as to what exactly caused their drive to falter, but . . . " Greene frowned. "What is it, Melissa?" The AI cleared the main viewscreen and the previous image of the moon nearest the target location was back on the display. A red dot appeared on screen, hovering above the moon's thin atmosphere. "Captain, I have something." Amanda nodded. "Go ahead." Melissa tilted her head to the side ever-so-slightly. "I'm getting faint readings of an oscillating energy signature. There's some magnetic distortion from the moon itself, but I believe I can lock it down if we cease our lateral course adjustments." "Do it." It was a few minutes longer, but when Melissa turned to face her, the AI's expression was as serious as ever. "The sensors are picking up a fluctuation similar to a ship's cloaking system activating and deactivating at random. It's as if the mechanism itself is failing." Greene felt her stomach grow cold. "What profile does the energy signature match?" Melissa turned to face forward and the text on the viewscreen sent a shiver down the Captain's spine. The AI folded her arms across her chest. "Covenant." The word hung in the air like smoke from a cabin fire. Greene swallowed hard. [i]This mission just got a lot more complicated.[/i]
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  • Footbutt

    Footbutt

    7/20/2012 11:26:39 AM Permalink
    Chapter 3 Even though she was only 16 years of age, Nicole was still considered a seasoned soldier. Her Spartan training had made her into a fighting machine--even if her prior mission parameters never tested that fact. Her hand-to-hand combat skill was better than most of the other Spartans and her smaller stature was something that did not hinder her abilities in the least. She was still slightly taller than the average male, and being as young as she was, she still turned some heads as she walked down the [i]Nagamo[/i]'s main corridor towards the galley. Donning on a simple crewman's uniform she had found in the barracks, Nicole ducked inside the small mess hall and blended right into the dozen others eating. She noticed the floor wasn't tiled but rather softly course, like some training complexes she had been in. When she spied the partially opened shelves along the far wall full of workout equipment that she realized the galley doubled as a gym. Given the size of the ship, it was no surprise that various sections served more than one purpose, but it made her wonder what ONI had done with the room normally designated for physical recreation. From a table to her right, a mumbling voice interrupted her lull. It was Professor Sorvad slowly typing away on a datapad. He was seated alone against the wall, blowing warming breaths into his hands every so often. Despite his introverted disposition, Sorvad [i]was[/i] the only person she kind of knew aboard [i]Nagamo[/i], so she poured two cups of steaming coffee and walked over. She set one cup in front of him and held on to the other while still standing before him. When he ignored the friendly gesture, Nicole cleared her throat to get his attention. Without looking up he growled, "I don't drink that intoxicant." "Neither do I." He tried to hide it but she could see his eyes traced the swirling steam emitting from the cup. Sorvad continued to ignore her for a pair of breaths, but then he took the cup with both hands and slowly raised his head. His brow furrowed as he frowned. "Who are you?" Nicole sat down on the opposite side of the rectangular table and gave a flat smile. "I came here with you from Reach." His eyes narrowed and he seemed to hold his question in his thoughts before verbalizing it. "I didn't think Spartans would be so . . . young." He studied her with his intelligent eyes. "You can't be much older than my daughter." She shrugged and leaned over her cup, the heat warming her body. Nicole tried to ignore his visual scan of her face, but he was searching for something, that was for sure. He suddenly straightened his spine. "You are Filipino, correct?" Nicole perked up, slightly surprised at his conclusion. She nodded. "My wife's step-sister was from a city on Mars called New Legaspi. She had the same eyes as you." "Huh," was all she could think of. That was the same place of her birth and she was wondering about any more details Sorvad would have on this step-sister in-law, but it appeared his moment of friendliness was over and he returned to his datapad. She raised her chin at him. "What's that?" He sighed and held up the datapad. "Captain Thorm gave me the preliminary data on this 'slipspace anomaly' and I've been reviewing it ever since." He frowned. "Did you not receive such a thing?" She shook her head. "I see now why they asked me to come." He stirred a little in his chair, trying to find a different way of sitting without appearing to be too obvious. Sorvad held the datapad up. "Years ago I was running comparisons on various satellite surveys across established and possible colonies. When I started detecting patterns, I was asked to join up with the Office of Naval Intelligence." He leaned in, almost conspiratorially. "Evidence of Artificial Engineering that wasn't Human raised the security levels, and I was brought on and given a position very close to a friend of yours, Dr. Catherine Halsey." Nicole forced a smile. "What does that have to do with this anomaly?" "Isn't it obvious?" he asked, pulling his head back and frowning. "I'm a xenoarchaeologist. They must be hiding the fact that this is an extraterrestrial find of a long-forgotten race." She wanted to ask why ONI wouldn't tell him as much, but she figured he would site some secret code of interpretation that only scientists are allowed to know. But if he was right, then from the details she had been given, she was the only military asset given to a two-ship force sent to investigate. Nicole didn't know whether to feel honored or worried. Sorvad frowned when his datapad beeped a negative tone. "Well, at the very least we know the anomaly is not man-made." He set his jaw and continued to work, shutting off the outside world once again. Nicole sighed. The professor was interesting. He got excitable and even anxious when talking about his work, but there was something hidden behind his discomfort of being aboard [i]Nagamo[/i]. His argument with the captain of [i]Teveden[/i] about not wanting to leave Reach and his standoff with Thorm and Jokling crossed her mind. When he began drumming his fingers on the table she spied his wedding ring and something clicked in her brain. "Family. You don't like being away from your family," she said conclusively. He ceased his drumming and slowly raised his head. Sorvad gave her a look that said "why wouldn't I be?" But he offered a thin-lipped smile. "Let's just say that I like to keep them close. Sára, especially." "Your daughter?" His smile vanished. "Yes." Nicole narrowed her eyes, forcing herself to concentrate on his words, the way he said them, and the previous statements he made. It was Intelligence Work that she took to well, after all. To Nicole, Sorvad's protectiveness of Sára, sounded like it had come from a past event where she was in danger. [i]Or perhaps an illness?[/i] She returned her roaming gaze back to the professor and found him eyeing her suspiciously. She stood abruptly. "Nice meeting you, Professor." Sorvad nodded and his entire body slackened a bit. "Nice meeting you, Spartan." She brought a hand and tapped her breastbone. "It's Nicole." He shook his head. "It's Spartan. [i]That[/i] is what [i]you are[/i]." He returned to his datapad without further explanation. Nicole stood there in stunned amazement. Anger started to brew in the back of her mind, but she forced a calming breath and turned to go. [i]That is not all that I am[/i]. She ducked down the corridor, no longer hungry.
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  • OftheBloodguard

    OftheBloodguard

    7/20/2012 7:23:44 AM Permalink
    You! You're back! :D This is awesome, as I've come to expect with your work. And now with something to do with ilovebees? YES. Keep it coming!
  • Doctor Jensen
  • Footbutt

    Footbutt

    7/19/2012 11:39:54 AM Permalink
    *** *** *** *** *** *** Captain Amanda Greene tried to keep her expression relaxed, but the skin around her eyes and nose tensed into a wince. It was a habit she had to fight every time her ship came out of the Slipstream, never completely knowing what the black void of slipspace would suddenly morph into. Even after all these years it was still a nervous tick. From the pedestal beside her, Melissa, the ship's AI, peered curiously at her. "If you are worried about the brightness of the local star, I can have the viewport polarized." Greene smiled. "Yes, please," she breathed, masking her true discomfort. [i]Apocolypso[/i] was under three minutes out to the system where the slipspace anomaly had been reported. The ship was already running dark and silent, and the crew was in place, ready for action. Melissa was poised, seated cross-legged on her pedestal, and her gaze swept casually across the bridge. To Greene, she was an interesting AI. Melissa was the most advanced AI she had ever encountered, yet she still returned to child-like poses and mannerisms. [i]Perhaps it's something she'll grow out of,[/i] Greene pondered. Either way, she was efficient, fast, and helpful. In the past, she had dealt with AIs that had no initiative, only responsive programming. This next generation of UNSC AIs appeared to be very promising to Greene. "Fifteen seconds," the navigation officer called out. Amanda straightened in her chair and braced herself. "Three, two, one . . . ." Stars, both distant and near, blossomed into existence, with one brightly shining locally off to port. Three gas giants were within range of visual scanners and Melissa quickly brought up initial data in rectangular brackets based upon the previous ship that had discovered the slipspace anomaly. Density, range, mass and chemical makeup all filled the tiny windows that Melissa provided. A trio of moons that orbited the farthest gas giant held little data to reveal, and the reports began to come in. "Comparison data shows the same planet configuration," one officer said. "Slipspace exit was clean. We are holding steady," added another. Melissa stood slowly. "Captain, I'm not detecting any transmissions across any spectrums. Solar radiation [i]is[/i] partially clouding our sensors. To get an accurate reading of the rest of the system we'll need to begin a partial reconnaissance orbit. At the most sensible speed, it will take approximately 53 hours." She turned and faced Greene. "Shall I begin?" Frowning, Greene looked out the viewport. "Melissa, calculate the location of the slipspace anomaly according to the current orientation of this system. I want to know exactly where it happened and where that location is now. If it was close to a moon or planet, there might be a possibility of finding some aftermath, whether that is debris or radiation spikes." "Yes, ma'am." Greene looked over her shoulder and found Ensign Rolf Sorenson seated at her console towards the rear of the bridge. Her bright blue eyes blinked back tiredness. Being a "Second Officer in training", Rolf was eager to fulfill her duties and that of the absent Lieutenant Nicholas Hyde, and her presence on the bridge spoke of her commitment. "Melissa," she prompted, turning back around. "Go ahead and commence with the recon orbit." Greene activated her comm unit. "All hands, we'll remain at Alert Alpha until we know fully what's going on in this system. Secure decks 1 and 7." After a few moments, Melissa came back with the Greene's first request. "Captain, after calculating the planetary bodies' most likely orbits of several weeks prior, the anomaly would have happened closest to F342w's third moon, F342w 3L." On the main viewport, Melissa added additional data and a single green point illuminated the empty space just outside of F342w 3L's lunar orbit. It expanded into a green sphere that encased the nearby moon. Captain Greene squinted her eyes intently, hoping what she was about to order wouldn't lead them to their doom. "Make a direct course for that moon, full Stealth." The AI nodded and set the ship on its new course. "Captain?" Greene spun around in her command chair to see Rolf looking worried. She walked over to the ensign's station and stood beside her. "What is it?" she asked, her eyes tracing over the navigation data on Rolf's screen. "Captain," she began, her voice barely audible over the normal din of the bridge. "No disrespect, but are not our orders limited to 'holding station?'" Green leaned in closer. "We won't be detected, Sorenson. If it's the Covenant they won't be able to find us, and any Insurrectionist vessels are just as blind." Rolf swallowed, perhaps wondering how far she should press the issue. "And what if the anomaly was cause by something else entirely? An interstellar event or a new species we haven't encountered yet?" "For now, we're just going to recon the target area, nothing more until [i]Nagamo[/i] arrives." As she offered a brave smile and stood, she could sense a tingling in the back of her mind. The concept of the anomaly being caused by something completely unknown hadn't crossed her thoughts in a realistic sense, but it was a possibility. "I want a full sensors makeup on the entire system as we head in. Keep a tight beam on that moon and adjust course laterally every hour but remain on the same heading." Greene took a deep breath and let it out slowly as she headed back to her chair. [i]Galin Thorm, you better get here fast.[/i]
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  • Footbutt

    Footbutt

    7/19/2012 11:39:15 AM Permalink
    Chapter 2 She hated every minute of the shuttle ride up to [i]Nagamo[/i]. Nicole-458 refused to strap herself into her seat and decided to ride out the thick atmosphere of the moon by standing up in the hold of the shuttle. The ship bucked and rocked, but she held on to the overhead crossbeam with one hand easily. [i]At least[/i] this [i]is kind of a challenge[/i]. Nicole wondered if ONI seemed to have made it their goal to keep her from real combat. Most of her assignments had been mop-up duties or Marine babysitting. She rarely saw her fellow Spartans, only hearing of their heroic tales from others, and she doubted this new mission would be anything worth sharing with them. Behind her, an older man securely strapped into his seat mumbled something in a language she didn't understand. It sounded bitter . . . and old. He was a professor of some kind, though she really didn't care. All he had kept saying to the captain of [i]Teveden[/i] was how he couldn't leave Reach, but the UNSC frigate left anyway, making a slipspace jump to some remote system. She sighed. With little information revealed, the frigate was called back to Reach for some other "important" mission and dropped both her and the professor off on a forest moon. They had waited at the small UNSC outpost for only a day before [i]Nagamo[/i] arrived, and now the silver-haired man was beginning to grumble like he did back on [i]Teveden.[/i] The shuttle's shaking abruptly ceased as they broke away from the moon, and Nicole turned to the cockpit's forward viewport. Outside the stars shifted as the pilot vectored on a heading towards a distant dark shape that could only be [i]Nagamo.[/i] Even from the distance, Nicole could make out the angular outline of the [i]prowler[/i]-class vessel. It was nothing special. She had been on several before. The pilot steered the shuttle to dock alongside the larger ship. With little finesse, the sounds of metal scrapping against metal made the professor grunt in protest. The docking maneuver complete, the side door of the shuttle opened up to a dark interior and two smiling faces. A dark-skinned man, even darker than Nicole's own tone, stood proudly while the slightly shorter, much paler woman stood uneasily at his side, suggesting she'd rather not be present--despite her expression. In compete contrast, the professor angrily unbuckled his restraints and quickly marched over to the opened door. "I demand to know why I am being held against my will," he said without preamble. Nicole was surprised to see the two [i]Nagamo[/i] officers hold their expressions. "Dr. Laszlo Sorvad, I presume? My apologies for the inconvenience of this meeting." The professor's chin rose and Nicole imagined his expression was one of puzzlement. "Yes, well, I need some answers," he said a bit more calmly. "And you shall have them." The captain looked up at Nicole with tension forming around his eyes, almost as if he were hiding some distant painful memory. "Spartan-458, welcome aboard [i]Nagamo[/i]." She wanted to point out that she had not officially stepped onto the [i]prowler[/i]-class ship, but nodded anyway. There was no need to openly defy a ship's captain over something so menial. Nicole then brushed past Sorvad and ducked down the docking collar, only to turn back to see the professor pausing. Sorvad seemed to be locked in a stare that went back and forth between the two officers until the captain stepped aside, motioning the civilian professor. "Please, Dr. Sorvad. We are on a tight schedule and I don't wish to arrive late." "Late to where?" Sorvad asked with narrowed eyes. The female officer folded her arms across her chest. "Doctor, if you don't come aboard now we'll have security force you to--" The captain held up his hand to forestall her rant. "We are going to investigate a slipspace anomaly. I have a good friend who is waiting for us to arrive with the both of you." He glanced at Nicole then back to Sorvad. "With your expertise and this Spartan's combat skills, I should hope we can handle the situation before it can get out of hand." While his voice was very much under control, it took on an edge of challenge. "If you'd like to stay here, the next slipspace-capable ship won't be arriving for another six months, though I'm sure you can learn to barter for food and supplies with the dozen crewmen stationed on the moon's outpost." Nicole smiled behind her visor. [i]I like this captain.[/i] Sorvad worked his jaw, keeping himself under rigid control. He took one last look at the shuttle's interior then marched past the two officers, grumbling again in his native tongue. When he stepped sideways past Nicole she looked back at the officers and the female just shook her head. The captain straightened up. "Lieutenant Jokling, would you see Spartan-458 off to her quarters while I catch up to the Professor?" "Yes, Captain Thorm." Jokling motioned with her hand and the two women headed aft. Their short walk took them deeper into the ship and just past the crewmen's main barracks. Jokling wasn't much for talking or elaborating on this slipspace anomaly investigation. But that was okay. Nicole had learned long ago that, when in her armor, the least amount of words she spoke, the more she was left alone. Her room was small, but it contained all she would need for the duration of her stay. The accoutrements, whether planned before or after they sent word to [i]Teveden[/i] to bring her here, were facilitative to a Spartan. She even had a storage locker large enough to place her armor in. [i]It would do,[/i] she decided. [i]At least it's bigger than a cryo-pod.[/i] "Captain's scheduled a briefing in a few hours, but I'd recommend getting as much shut-eye as possible. This trip shouldn't take too long." Jokling seemed to force a smile then left, closing the door behind her. [i]What a fun bunch[/i]. She waited for almost half an hour before exiting her room and pausing in the hallway. She could have easily queried the shipboard AI for a map of [i]Nagamo[/i], but instead she decided to do her own tour of the ship. In the end, it wasn't much different than other [i]prowler[/i]-class ships. Just more crew than she was used to. As she walked down the darkened corridors, her mind kept going back to what the captain referred to as a "slipspace anomaly." Images of a UNSC rescue op, an Innie ship blowing out its main drive, and even Covenant ships setting a trap flashed before her mind's eye. Whatever it turned out to be, it would hopefully be something worthy of a Spartan's skills. When she returned to her quarters to find a message queued up on a datapad left for her, she sighed. The journey would take another day and a half and the captain had decided to delay his meeting until the day of arrival. She wondered if the arguing professor had anything to do with that. She looked down at the sturdy-looking bed, beckoning her tired mind and body for rest. "Jokling, I think I'll take you up on your offer."
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    Footbutt

    7/11/2012 1:39:13 PM Permalink
    *** *** *** As customary, Galin stood halfway into the joined collars, with Kandis two steps behind and to his right, and greeted Captain Greene with a smile and a handshake. Greene was about as plain as a woman could look, which was one of the reasons ONI selected her for training. Her dirty-blonde hair could be tucked up underneath her cap or draped over her broad shoulders, while her complexion was light enough to take on the hue of any light that was shone upon her. She was fit, but not overly muscular. "This is Lieutenant Kandis Jokling, ONI Analyst," Galin introduced. As the two women greeted each other, Galin could tell that underneath Kandis' smile was suspicious jealousy. Greene motioned to the other, younger woman to join her at her side. "This is Ensign Rolf Sorenson. She's still getting her feet wet," Greene added with an abbreviated smile. Galin nodded to the petite, blonde woman. Her skin was light, her face freckled, and Galin would place her age as barely out of her teens. Her forced expression spoke of someone on her first assignment, longing for the creature comforts of home. "Pleased to meet you." "Would you like to see the new and improved [i]Apocolypso[/i]?" Greene asked. The four of them traveled down the docking collar and into the darkened interior of the ship. [i]Apocolypso[/i] was identical to [i]Nagamo[/i] in layout, but the former had had many recent retrofits, as marked by the patchwork of cables running along the corridors' ceilings. Greene gave a brief tour, starting with the bridge and ending with the central conference room, and Galin was quite impressed. "It is just me, or are you carrying half the crew Nagamo has?" he asked, while taking a seat across from Greene. "We are running at 53 crewmen right now," she conceded. "Thanks mostly in part to Melissa, our new AI." The yellow avatar of a tall, slender woman with long flowing hair appeared on a pedestal on the right side of the large viewscreen at the head of the table. Melissa gave a polite bow. "Captain Greene is too kind." She merely smiled. "Yes, well," Greene said, more to fill in the awkward gap between small talk and business. "I'm afraid our planned debriefing will have to be put on hold. We received a Slipstream Packet from Reach while we were waiting for your arrival." She nodded to Sorenson who pulled out a datapad and linked it to the viewscreen. A few static images flashed up on the screen, mostly containing cropped areas of destruction and rubble. "I'm sure by now you've read the Operation: TORPEDO report?" "We have," Galin said soberly. "Then you know how dire the situation is becoming." Greene nodded to Sorenson again, and the holo-projector at the center of the table lit up to display a view of the know galaxy. The view zoomed in on a portion of space between their current location and Reach. A glowing red dot pulsed into existence marked with a triangle of coordinates. "A fellow [i]Prowler[/i]-class ship, [i]Raven's Call[/i], was returning to Reach for maintenance on their stealth systems when it caught a slipspace disruption in an uninhabited system." The holographic image showed the plotted course of [i]Raven's Call[/i] along with the signals approximate origin. Galin leaned forward. "That's nowhere near any UNSC outpost or even an Insurrectionist base." "[i]Raven's Call[/i] wasn't able to completely lock on to the source and Captain Ongro didn't want to risk being detected." "So we have no idea what it is?" Kandis asked a little too bluntly. "It could have been cosmic radiation bouncing off the local star. If Ongro's stealth systems were malfunctioning, his sensor could have as well." "I doubt it," Sorenson said apologetically. "It was a wide spectrum burst, not a solid wavelength. From that data Melissa and I can only speculate that it might be from a slipspace-capable ship attempting to enter the Slipstream but apparently failed to do so." Greene sighed. "[i]Raven's Call[/i] was the only ONI ship to be operating in the area, so we know it's not one of ours." "Are you sure this isn't some Spartan training exercise?" Kandis asked more gently this time. Green shook her head. "No. That system is only on the star charts for navigation purposes. There's no inhabitable place to set up shop." "Which doesn't mean the Innies haven't moved in," Galin pointed out. "So what are our orders from HIGHCOM?" Greene blinked her hazel eyes. "[i]My[/i] orders are to head to the contact zone and hold station. [i]Your[/i] orders are to rendezvous with the Frigate [i]Teveden[/i] and pick up some new . . . personnel." "Personnel?" Sorenson handed Kandis a pair of datacards as Greene nodded. "The details are in the files; I'll let you be the judge of them privately." She sighed wearily. "I think the Prowler Corps has us spread too thin, and my concern is that ONI wants us to tackle this with minimal resources on our own." Greene frowned. "I don't know what's waiting for us, but as soon as you pick up your new additions, [i]Nagamo[/i] is to join us at the target system." "I'll send Jovan the rally coordinates," Melissa put in. Captain Greene's shoulders slackened. "We'll recon the area and hopefully have enough data for a more in-depth analysis when you arrive." Galin chewed on the inside of his cheek for a moment, mulling over the information. It wasn't a lot to go on, but nothing [i]Nagamo[/i] set out to recon ever had overwhelming amounts of datapackets waiting in the message queue. [i]A mystery ship, ONI looking to salve its own wounds from the loss of 296 Spartans, a few 'classified' personnel . . . I guess it's only a few degrees off our regular vector.[/i] He quickly stood, suddenly feeling a sense of urgency about the mission. "Then we should be going." He was pleased to find Kandis at his side before he got his words completely out. "Be careful out there, Amanda." Greene rose and Sorenson mirrored Kandis' position."You too, Galin." She opened her mouth as if to say more, but she merely nodded and threw a quick salute. Galin returned it swiftly and headed back towards the docking collar. Once they were inside the conjoined passageway Kandis came alongside Galin. Detecting her mood, he spoke before she had a chance to ask. "Greene and I go way back," he said with a partial sigh. "I've known her since officer training school and we're [i]just[/i] friends." Kandis was silent until they both were back aboard [i]Nagamo[/i]. As Jovan sealed the blast door and began to retract the docking collar, she turned to face Galin. "I'll upload the data to Jovan and get started on the analysis," she said plainly, without any trace of emotion. She spun on her heel and headed aft. Galin breathed a heavy sigh and was about to reach out his hand to stop her, but a pair of techs stepped into the hallway a dozen meters down and he knew he had to be discreet. He watched as Kandis didn't bother moving or slow down and the techs hastily parted to either side of the hallway to avoid a collision. She was upset, that much he had gathered, but it would pass. The tech on the left raised an eyebrow when they came to a stop in front of the Captain. "How'd things go, sir?" Galin paused for a moment, wondering if the tech was referring to Kandis or the meeting with Greene. Shaking his head to clear his mind, Galin looked at the man. "Like always. As soon as we're clear we're outbound for another rendezvous." He turned and started for the bridge.
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    Footbutt

    7/11/2012 1:37:50 PM Permalink
    [b]Halo: Only the Bold [/b] Chapter 1 [i]12 July 2546 Location Unknown UNSC Nagamo,[/i] Prowler-[i]class[/i] Inside the central security conference room, the report remained suspended in the air between the two officers. The title header "Operation: TORPEDO" flickered in a two-sided holoform before Captain Galin Thorm advanced the pages of data through the complete report. Seated across from him, Lieutenant Kandis Jokling stirred in her seat. With the final page displaying the commentary of the operation's ONI Lead, Galin felt his stomach grow cold from the facts. [i]296 Spartans--dead.[/i] It was almost too many to comprehend. "What a waste," Kandis muttered, slowly rising out of her chair. "All of those Spartans, all of the equipment . . . and for what, to slow the Covenant Front in one Sector?" Galin's brow furrowed. "The destruction of the refinery will set the Covenant back months. We'll use that time wisely to build up our defenses or evacuate the systems on that vector." Kandis' blue eyes flashed a stare at Galin as she started pacing. Her pale skin contrasted her long black ponytail swaying with her short steps. "And then what? We try to take potshots at them, hoping they don't find Reach or Earth or--" "--I know, Kandis," Galin said wearily. His eyes grazed over the projected losses for either side and the numbers didn't help him feel any better for the sacrifice of those Spartans. "That's why HIGHCOM sent us this report. If we can figure out ways to halt the Covenant's progress, we might find ways to stop them altogether." Galin ran a hand over his face and scratched at his beard before folding his hands across his chest. "Call it motivation." She paused briefly before coming around to his side of the conference room and leaned against the table, facing him. Kandis looked down into his deep brown eyes and she forced a smile. "We both know we're in desperate times. Humanity is running on a lot more than motivation right now." Galin returned her smile. "Self-preservation, for one. Duty. Honor . . . " His eyes flickered to the report and he knew the bold red number of 296 would be forever burned in his memory. "Sacrifice." Kandis reached out and took his hand in hers. "Then let's make sure we do our part." He pulled her closer and their lips met. The softness of her lips reminded Galin of the first time he met Kandis many months ago. She was a bright, young ONI Analyst assigned to [i]Nagamo[/i] to round out his staff, but he soon found her knack for troubleshooting--and troublemaking--a two-sided lure of his affections. Kandis Jokling was all sweetness underneath a hardened exterior. Though nearly 15 years apart in age, they complimented each other well. Galin was almost 40 and his dark skin was beginning to wrinkle around his eyes more and more each day. Unlike most ship captains in the UNSC, Galin had purposely kept himself in top physical shape, while Kandis was still in the twilight of her youth and still had a gymnast's physique. Galin wanted to wrap her in his arms, but a ping on the center console pulled him away from their kiss. Kandis sighed and gave him a quick peck on the cheek before walking around to her previous seat. Galin smoothed over his uniform and straightened in his chair. "This is Captain Thorm." "Captain," the young male voice said over the comm. "We're about to arrive in the Epsilon Eridani System." "Thank you, Lieutenant." Galin quickly stood, catching a puzzled look on Kandis' face. "We're going to Emerald Cove," he explained. Kandis nodded, but let a smile tug at the corner of her mouth. "So, back to work?" She lowered her head and crossed over to him, running her hands against the back of the chairs playfully. Galin knew her body language all too well and held up his hands in quiet, gentle protest. "Another time, Kandis." "There won't always be another time," she whispered, repeating her go-to saying that had kept Galin from returning to his quarters alone many times in the past. But she stopped her advance and she nodded again. "I know; now's not the best time." She raised a slender eyebrow. "Later?" "Of course." Their relationship was completely against ONI regulation and it was highly possible that his 'separation' to his wife Heather back on Reach would be finalized into a legal divorce as soon as he came in to dry dock, but Kandis . . . [i]She has been worth the risk[/i]. He gave her a quick kiss and started for the door. "What are we doing at Emerald Cove?" Kandis asked, already snapping back into a professional, official manner. He keyed the door open with his access code and flashed a smile. "Visiting an old friend." *** *** *** On the bridge of [i]Nagamo[/i], Galin took his seat in the command chair and nodded to the shipboard artificial intelligence, Jovan, which stood on his pedestal to the right of the Captain. "Status?" Jovan, who chose to display his avatar in the manner of a cultured professor who was constantly looking down his nose, stood with hands collected on his rotund belly. "The ship is running in full Stealth Mode, and we'll be arriving . . . " The blackness of Slipspace reverted into a star field that was largely consumed with a green and blue planet dead ahead. " . . . Now." Galin didn't have to order his crew about the usual arrival protocol and the bridge was soon filled with updates. "No Covenant transmissions detected." "No other ships in the area." "Our exit vector is clear." Jovan tilted his head slightly. "Incoming signal, Captain. It's coming from the far side of the planet." He looked up. "It matches ONI profile." Motioning with his hand, Galin nodded to the communications officer. There was a burst of static before a female voice spoke. "This is the UNSC [i]Apocolypso[/i], Captain Amanda Greene, hailing UNSC [i]Nagamo[/i]." Galin activated the comm on his command chair's arm. "This is Captain Galin Thorm. Good to hear from you again, Greene. It has been too long." Out of the corner of his eye, he spied Kandis quickly glance over in his direction from her station along the portside consoles. "Our initial scans show the system to be clean, but I assume you've had more time to sweep the area." "That's affirmative. We're in the clear, though I would recommend we stay Silent for the duration." Greene paused before adding, "if you could sync your AI to mine, we could begin docking maneuvers." His eyebrows rose slightly. AI synchronization was really only reserved for Orbital Platforms or other, larger ships that had higher-end AIs with the capabilities to temporarily link their processes with other AIs. "ONI hasn't spared any expense with your ship's upgrades, have they?" "Comes with too many faithful years of service," Greene gloated. "Something you're unfamiliar with." Galin laughed lightly. "See you soon. Thorm out." He nodded to Jovan. "If you may." The [i]prowler[/i]-class ship began a slow rotation to starboard and muffled thuds could be heard from the docking collar being extended. It would latch onto [i]Apcolypso[/i]'s collar and Greene's own AI would pressurize the passageway.
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