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We have started writing a book/story about the game. It has no title as of yet, but it is a very good piece of Fanfiction. It's a work in progress, so check back every few days to see what's changed.
Things had been going well enough for Warrant Officer Jacob Strabo. He had a home, a wife, two kids, and a well paying job shipping freight to and from the Outer Colonies. Security precautions had gotten a bit easier one the crew, seeing as the war with the Covenant had been over for something approaching twenty years. The Colonies of Earth were being rebuilt, and the human race was getting back on its feet, with some help from the Elites. By now, knowledge of the Halo installations and the Ark was not restricted, but rumors were spreading in the Chi-Ceti system about something called "the Flood." It was a word spoken in whispers and with horror. Apparently, the Flood was one of three things: an alien race that was once a large part of the Covenant, some sort of bio-weapon, or an alien race that lived only for making more of itself. Few new the truth, and, having met the sole survivor of either of the Halo incidents, Jacob knew it. He pushed thoughts of the Flood parasite away and turned to his helmsman. "How long until the Reach Station?" he asked. Following the end of the war, it was decided that a Repair and Refit station should occupy the space over Reach. It would serve as a checkpoint between Earth and the Outer Colonies. "Ten minutes, fourteen seconds, sir." The helmsman turned in his seat. Where are we going after Reach Station? I heard something about a special assignment." "Out towards the galactic East. Some sensor anomaly or other showed a large blip in an area where Shaw-Fujikawa engines can't get to. So, we're being outfitted with one of those Covenant engines. Hopefully, it will get us into the cluster's boundaries." "But why us, sir? Why not ONI, or some UNSC ship?" "The higher-ups need it handled "unofficially." Apparently it's a sensor dead-zone. No stars, no planets, just some obscure nebula." He turned to the helmsman this a smile. "Not that I ever said that to you. Right?" The helmsman winked at him. "Yes, sir."
* * *
Far to the Galactic West lay an uncharted region of nebula that no one, not even the Imperials, had been able to get into. Any ship that tried was destroyed by some spatial anomaly. Gunnar Drenin, a Correlian smuggler, believed he had found the solution. Having called on a favor from years ago, he had purchased an engine of a special type. It wasn't an Ion engine, or a plasma drive. It was powered by Dark Matter, though the particulars escaped Gunnar. It was supposed to be able to get him through the nebula and then get him out again. This was going to be fun. As he neared the nebula, a curious thing happened. The sensors started telling him there were contacts all around him-and that he was in lightspeed mode. A malfunction in the drive, he told himself. Nothing to worry about. Once he entered the nebula, though all sensor contacts disappeared and his viewscreen went dark. He trusted in the navicomputer, though, and it was set to guide him to the center of the nebula. Then something struck the hull. Hard. He opened the blast shielding on one of the viewports, and he gasped and nearly fell over. Outside his ship, there was a roiling torrent of...something. It looked like gas, but it moved like a liquid, flowing around his ship in roiling torrents. Floating around in it were burnt pieces of metal, torn and melted as though something within them had exploded. One such piece had struck his hull, sticking there like a magnet. Then he noticed that the other pieces, too, were slowly moving towards his ship. He shunted more power to the shields, trying to block the pieces before they hit. His ship suddenly shot forwards, pulled through the matter outside towards a single dark mass directly in front of him.
- * *
The helmsman suddenly looked confused. He turned to the Jacob. "Uh, sir? There's a contact moving through the nebula directly towards us." "Probably just another sensor anomaly. This nebula has been playing hell with our equipment." "No, sir. Look out the window." He did. There was unmistakably something moving towards them, slowly, but surely. It dawned on him that the outline was unmistakably a ship. "Try hailing them." "No signal, sir," the comms officer said. "It's like it's there, but not really there." "Arm the point-lasers, but wait for it to show hostile intent." What was it? Jacob stroked his chin, confused as anyone else. It didn't look like a covenant or UNSC ship. "I repeat, can you hear me?" Gunnar had been at it for at least ten minutes, but the ship refused to respond. He new he was still in the nebula, but he had never encountered a ship like that in all the galaxy. He decided that a more direct approach was necessary. He gunned the engines, moving closer. "Sir, it's moving, approximately two hundred KPH." "Keep a lock on it. If it gets too close, disable it." He had a better view of it now. On its side were some oddly shaped symbols, no language he had ever seen before. And the ship itself! No detectable drive emissions, unknown composition, and a weapon system that was completely foreign. Gunnar was having the exact same thoughts at the moment, although, he was thinking in Galactic Basic, not English. Then he saw into the opposite viewport. "Humans," he said with some relief. At least he could deal with humans. Aliens were not his thing. But these humans were different. They wore no uniform he had ever seen before. The man said something to one of the other men and made a hand motion out the window, interlocking his fingers. "He wants me to dock," Gunnar said aloud. He turned back to the controls, rotating his ship to extend the docking port. Lights started to blink on the other ship, a docking port. It was too small for a stable link, though. He decided to just spacewalk it, his curiosity overwhelming his better judgement. He donned the spacesuit and pressurized the airlock, stepping out into the nebula. "Sir, he's started towards the docking port, but I don't know if it will be compatible." The helmsman suddenly looked confused. "Wait, sir. He's, well, walking out to it." Jacob glanced out the window, noticing the bright orange figure moving between the two ships. "Open the docking hatch. Let him in!" he said, also confused about the man. The hatch slowly opened in front of him, and he stood inside the airlock, waiting for it to pressurize. The hatch closed behind him, and a hissing noise filled the room. He removed his helmet, coughing a little as he adjusted to the new mix of gases around him. The air was stale, recycled. A man walked towards him, holding out his hand in what appeared to be a greeting. Not really knowing what to do, Gunnar awkwardly grabbed the man's hand and held it there. The other man shook his hand up and down slowly, emphasizing the point. "Hello, my name is Gunnar," he said, though the man clearly didn't understand. He pointed to himself. "Gunnar." The man did the same, saying "Jacob." Jacob led him down a corridor towards what Gunnar assumed to be the ship's bridge. Then Gunnar remembered something. He pulled out a small listening unit and held it out to Jacob. He used his mouth to feign talking. Jacob said a few things into the unit, and it clicked and whirred, trying to come up with a translation. Then Jacob, figuring out what it was, went to a cabinet in the back of the bridge and pulled out a round, purple device. Gunnar spoke into it, "Hello, my name is Gunnar, and I'm from Correlia." His device beeped at him suddenly, having come up with a rough translation. "Welcome Gunnar to Navy ship Undertow. What your business?" the device translated. Jacob's device also beeped. "Anyone here know what 'Corellia' is?" Jacob asked his bridge crew. No one did, but Gunnar clearly reacted to the name. "Is that your ship? The Corellia?" After a minute, the man shook his head., saying something indecipherable. "My planet," the Forerunner device said. "My planet is Earth," Jacob responded. Gunnar gestured back out the window. "My ship Gem Opalia." The man suddenly turned around at a beeping noise coming from his suit. He put his helmet back on, said something into the translator, and walked back to the airlock. "Return with [representatives] in four [units of time]. Please do same." Jacob turned to the helmsman. "Once he's out the door take us back to Reach station with all speed. They'll want to know about this."
Admiral Cantra put his head in his hands and sighed. these peace talks were going nowhere. The translators had eventually learned the basics of whatever language the aliens spoke, but that did nothing to help their respective confusion. Scientists called it a "temporal rift," like that meant anything. The ONI guys called it the biggest threat to the human colonies ever found, and the Elites, after consulting numerous Forerunner devices, called it the "Luminous Doorway," some kind of gate to another galaxy. The aliens just called it "The Rift," and they eventually figured out how to get through it safely. First contact was, to say the least, difficult. While they were invariably both human, the two cultures were entirely alien to eachother. And the creatures the aliens brought with them! One, which had been described as a "Twi'lek," had tentacles hanging off of its head. Another, called an "Ithorian," had a head that sprouted first out and then up, and had no visible orifices other than its eyes. And yet it talked! The Elites had retreated to their private Sanction, finding the aliens to be altogether too alien. It was decided that humanity would make a better front for the galaxy. It was also decided that ONI be kept far away from the peace talks, as they had a habit of being suspicious, underhanded black suits. "Rough time?" The Admiral looked up. A woman stood there, a captain by her insignia, holding out a data pad for him. "Running in little circles tends to tire one out," he said. The talks usually consisted of information swapping, then discussion of trade routes, and then discussion of security in and around the nebula. Apparently the "New Republic" had they themselves just got out of a drawn and vicious war with "the Empire," and remnants of it still remained and often caused trouble. He accepted the data pad, reading through its contents. It was a query from the A.I. on board the Rift Station where the talks took place. His eyes went wide. "No. Absolutely not. They cannot know about Halo or the Forerunner, not yet. And especially not the Flood. Not until we confirm whether or not NOVA can move forward." He handed it back to the captain. Especially not the Flood. Common knowledge of that could prove disastrous. The rumors in the Outer Colonies were bad enough, but if word of the truth got out, particularly about NOVA, the aliens would be the least of his problems. NOVA. The codename for ONI's little pet project was apt enough. If the slightest thing went wrong with it, no one would be around long enough to care about the aliens. Why such a stupid effort had been approved was beyond him. To even think it was possible... All thoughts of NOVA were forgotten as alarms began blaring all across the station. "Unknown vessel coming through the rift," a voice blared on the speakers. The Admiral jumped up and walked quickly to his command station. "Onscreen," he said as he walked onto the bridge. The vessel was huge. More than that, gargantuan. At least six kilometers in length. It was triangular, and at the wide end a hexagonal tower rose out of the ship. One of the aliens on the bridge looked up, and his eyes shot straight to the ship. "Imperials," he said. "Does this station have weapons?" "Shouldn't we at least meet them first? It's not like they're charging weapons." The tactical officer looked up. "Actually, sir, they are." "Arm the MAC cannons, get any ship within range to fire on that ship!" "Shipmaster," the helmsman cried. "Communication coming through from the human space station. They request that all ships able to do so move to the Luminous Doorway and aid in the defense." He looked up at the shipmaster, an Elite named Thpi 'Renoree, saying, "An invasion force!" The Shipmaster had expected nothing less. According to the holy devices they had consulted, that galaxy was almost constantly wracked by war, plague, fear, and, a few times, a great war involving something referred to as "the Force," an almost magical thing that surrounded all life. No such things existed in this galaxy, though. These "Jedi" would be hard-pressed to find followers here. Especially amongst the Elites. "Move the ships into attack position. Blanket that cruiser and fire a full spread of torpedoes." he turned to his lieutenant. "I think it's time we made our appearance." "Projectile weapons won't do you much good against an Imperial Start Destroyer," the human representative said. "Now, is it called that because it can actually destroy stars, or is it just called that?" the Admiral said. "Fire at will, Kalas," he said to the station's AI. Three Super Magnetic Accelerator Cannons fired off at the same time, rocking the station with a metallic clang. "You're projectiles are not energy-directed?" the representative asked incredulously. "No, of course not. It's just a very large magnet and a very large lump of metal." the Admiral looked at the Ambassador. "Why, yours are?" "The few that remain, yes. Projectile weaponry is not popular amongst the Galaxy. Mostly lasers and blasters, and sometimes plasma weapons." Noticing the Admirals reaction to the words "plasma weapons," he turned and said, "What about your people? What sort of weapons do you commonly use?" "Projectile. Mainly." They both turned at the voice. "And what is this?" the Ambassador asked. "This, Ambassador, this is an Elite." the Admiral gestured at the Ambassador. "Shipmaster, this is-" the Elite silenced him with a wave of it's hand. The admiral scowled. He did not like to be interrupted, much less by the race that very nearly destroyed his. The exchange had taken less than twenty seconds, enough time to fire the MACs a second time. It was unnecessary, though, as the first salvo had gone straight through their shields and punched into their hull. One shot had hit that raised hexagonal section, blowing it right off the hull. "Impressive. You would not have fared so well against one of our, ships, I think." The Elite looked at the Admiral with something approaching a smile. "A lucky shot." "You hit the bridge, that raised area." They both looked at the Ambassador. "Quite fearsome, these-what did you call them?" "MAC, or Magnetic Accelerator Cannons." "I must return to my ship. The Forerunner scanners have detected more ships coming through the Doorway." the Elite departed, and the Ambassador turned back to the Admiral. "You did not mention these Elites." "Well, as long as you know about them, you might as well know about all of them. Grunts, Jackals, Drones, Engineers, Brutes...and Prophets." He refrained directly from saying anything about he Forerunner or the Flood, or the Halo installations. Once the attack was repelled, another ship was detected, but this time it was an ONI Predator. It moved towards the station, slowly, as though deciding something. Admiral Cantra knew exactly what that something was. "Hail them. Now." The link opened. "Admiral Cantra, I regret to inform you that the alien presence has been-" "What about NOVA?" the Admiral interrupted. "Progress is slow, but with the factors involved, why would it not be? Anyway, the alien presence has been dictated as a threat. More ships have been dispatched to secure the Rift, and we've called in a favor from an old friend." An Elite in gilded armour stepped into the picture. The Arbiter was a confusing Elite. He was one of the few who did not worship the Forerunner, who did not view their artifacts as "sacred." Instead, he respected them. Not for religion, but for simple awe at the fact that a race so ancient could build worlds big enough for a population to live on. Not stations, but worlds! Atmosphere, accurate day and night cycles, animals, fauna, whole life forms! And then again, he was also a somber, quiet one, as though inwardly warring with himself about a decision made some time ago. Few new what that decision was, and even fewer new the reason behind it. Regret. That one word summed up most of it. Regret that he had so blindly followed the Prophets, regret that he had not seen the Brutes for what they really were...and regret for the Demon. The Demon. A name he had come to fear, to hate, and then ally behind, following him to the end of a world. He had escaped the destruction of the new Installation 04 and the Ark. He had escaped the Flood. But the Demon, the Master Chief, had not. When the Arbiter had awoken one the other side of the portal, above Earth, he had immediately known the Demon was gone. Not dead, perhaps, he was not so easy to kill, but definitely gone. But one decision above all caused him regret. The decision to let the humans continue their NOVA experiments. Their stupidity was unrivaled! To allow such a thing to continue existing, let alone try to use it, was tantamount to suicide. NOVA was, plain and simple, fool's gold. Really, really obvious fool's gold. NOVA was, essentially, the study of the Flood. Living Flood specimens were being experimented on by human scientists in order to make a cure for, firstly, Flood infection, but a lot of other diseases as well. And to do that, to continue the study, the Flood had to survive. And to survive...Flood needed hosts.
As the treaties were signed and the talks continued, a new face appeared in the group of Ambassadors. It was a human in simple robes, with a small metallic rod slung at his belt. A Jedi, they called him. A being with control over the Force. He was there to serve as a representative of the Jedi Order, a major group in the other galaxy. There were two new Admirals at the UNSC's side of the table as well. One was named Joseph Staper, the other did not give his name. The second one was not much for words, saying only a few words here and there. This confused the Jedi. He had found these other humans to be talkative, trying to get their ideas out as fast as possible. The Jedi was also confused by the apparent lack of Mitichlorians. Thus far, he had encountered none of the creatures, sensed them in no one. Except, that is, this other human. His thoughts were interrupted as a tall alien in golden armour walked into the room. "I apologize for my tardiness. I was...delayed." "Gentlemen, this is the Arbiter. He is the leader of the Elites," said Staper. "Arbiter? That's your title, I assume?" The Arbiter looked over at the Jedi. "Yes." He sat down beside the second Admiral, exchanged a few whispered words, and said, "I represent the remains of my race. We prefer to be called Sangheili, but if you wish, you may call us Elites." He very nearly spat the word "Elites." The Prophets had given them that name, and like the fools they were made out to be, his ancestors had accepted the it with open arms. The Jedi seemed tense, almost worried by something. His eyes suddenly snapped wide open, and he gasped. The others looked over at him, confused. He grabbed his head in his hands, as though something were trying to pull it off. "Arbiter," he said quietly. The Arbiter looked at him. "What is NOVA?" The Arbiter seemed taken aback, as though the Jedi had just slapped him. "Come. I will show you." The Elite lead the Jedi out of the room. He said something to the two Elites standing outside the door. They looked vaguely surprised, and somewhat amused. They spoke back to him in the Sangheili tongue. "So, their stupidity finally gets the best of them?" the Arbiter said. "Well, dispatch a battle fleet. I will link up with them soon." "What is going on?" asked the Jedi. "You will find out soon." The Arbiter lead him to a small viewing station some ways away from the conference room. He turned it on, selected a tiny red button, and typed in a lengthy code. "What can I do for you, Arbiter?" asked a disembodied voice. The A.I. on the station was named, for undisclosed reasons, Halo. "Bring up all information regarding Halo, the Flood, and the NOVA project. download it into my personal datapad and encrypt with my passcode." After several minutes had gone by, the Arbiter handed the Jedi a small metallic object and said, "This should suffice. Show it to no one from your galaxy. It will delete itself after you've finished reading it. And I do want that back." The Arbiter walked to his ship, told the Helmsman to disengage from the Reach station, and set the coordinates for Delta Halo. The Jedi had not been seen or heard from in several hours of returning to the Ambassadors' ship. No one knew why. His name was Master Iho. He had been pouting over the Halo data for those last six hours, amazed at the wealth of knowledge and the utter insanity of it all. The closest thing he could think of to this Flood parasite was the Death Seed plague, and that was too terrible to think about. Then he read the data on the Forerunner. He instantly recognized a connection between the Forerunner and the old Rakatan Empire. There wasn't much data on the Forerunner, though there was a mention in the pieces of their vast database about an "Interdimensional Rift," which they classified as being just as, if not more dangerous than, the Flood. Only once had they ever tried to go through it. They were not pleased by what they saw. A vast, supposedly Infinite empire was in control of most of the Galaxy. Their arrogance was boundless, there war machines terrible. But the Forerunner changed that. They unseated the Rakatan Empire, throwing the Galaxy into a dark age lasting thousands of years. And then Hyperspace travel was rediscovered, and with it, Galactic civilization. The Jedi went back to reading about the Flood Parasite. He eventually came to the NOVA document, and he realized that these humans were not unlike the old Rakatan Empire. Arrogant, thoughtless, even stupid. To allow such a species to survive... Then he read the document about NOVA's way of dealing with the host issue. And he bent over and threw up. It was a reasonable reaction, even for a toughened Jedi, because the way they solved the issue was...inhumane. He had seen much in his time as a Jedi (and even before that), but this was...unforgivable. It had to be stopped. He had to destroy NOVA. He read a final entry into the NOVA data, added just hours ago. He almost laughed, but at the same time, he very nearly vomited again.
Flood Containment Cells breached. Station self-destruct deactivated by parasites. Flood xenoform moving towards docking areas. Defenses inoperable.
The Jedi activated the deletion sequence for the data, but he saw one last line before it was destroyed.
---FLOOD ESCAPE IMMINENT---
The Arbiter's ship dropped out of slipspace just as the bombardment began. The battlefleet (ten Covenant Destroyers) was in formation around a station orbiting Delta Halo. There was a single ship docked to it, and that was the aim of the bombardment. Delta Halo. The Arbiter remembered profoundly his experiences on the surface of the ring-world. He had captured two human leaders and the Sacred Icon -or rather, the Index- just before Tartarus had attempted to kill him. He remembered the Gravemind Chamber, the uprising of the the Sangheili, and the stopping of Halo's firing. With some satisfaction, he remembered also the death of Tartarus. That had marked the end of the Elites, the end of the Covenant oppression over his race. Those two human leaders, Sergeant Johnson and Miranda Keys, had died well. Miranda was trying to save Johnson and stop the firing of the remaining Halo rings, and Johnson had died destroying the Ark. The ship docked with the station burned and exploded as a plasma torpedo impacted upon and exploded against its fusion drive. The resulting blast destroyed the station. Ten minutes later, a human fleet arrived, just five minutes, the Arbiter noted, after the Flood controlled ship would have launched into slipspace. "Had we not intervened, they would have been long gone by the time your ships would have arrived! What would you have had us do?" The Arbiter's contempt was undeniable. "NOVA was folly from the beginning!" "NOVA was supposed to help against the Flood. We could have succeeded where the Forerunner had failed." The Admiral leaned forward. "We could have made a cure for the Flood. But you just shot whatever hopes we had straight to hell!" "Had I known what you were doing at NOVA, I would have destroyed your station long ago! Letting the Flood survive for study, this I can understand to a degree, but giving them live hosts...that I cannot tolerate. Your 'ONI' is corrupt." The Arbiter moved towards the door. "As is anyone who funds their projects." "You were right to focus on destroying the Flood, but the loss of this station will be costly." The Arbiter's contempt was borderline rage. "The last being to speak words such as those is a Flood-consumed corpse now." Both Admiral looked up in surprise. The Arbiter's rage was barely controlled, but they knew he wouldn't attack him. But the thinly veiled threat about the Flood couldn't be let go easily. "Arbiter." Both the Arbiter and the admiral he was talking to turned at the voice. "There is also the matter of this Jedi." The Admiral who had spoken was the same who sat beside the Arbiter in the conference room. "What does he know?" "Enough," was all the Arbiter said. During the heat of the argument, no one heard it coming. Not one person. The silenced bullet pierced the target cleanly, exiting out his back and sticking into the chair behind him. The only indication that the Ambassador was dead was that there was a pool of blood rapidly swelling beneath him. Same bored expression, still had his head resting on one hand, but he was definitely dead. The uproar this caused was not a small one. The Admirals leaped out of their chairs and the Marines brought up their Battle Rifles. The Jedi activated his lightsaber, and the remaining five Ambassadors jumped to the sides of the room. Their bodyguards raised their weapons as well, pointing them at the Marines. Then everyone stopped moving. "This could be an issue," said the quiet Admiral. That was how it started. A single shot into a heated argument, a single assassination, that was all it took. The instant the Ambassador died, a fleet of Imperial warships dropped out of the Rift, firing their guns at any target within range. They were followed closely by carriers, supply ships, and medical vessels. The MAC cannons went online, blasting holes in the ships, but that really did nothing against the actual size of the fleet. Then the third Admiral, silent for almost the entire duration of the treaties, spoke three numbers into the comm-bead in his lapel. "117." A moment later, a large, green-armored figure smashed through a fake wall in the side of the room, knocking down to of the bodyguards before the rest opened fire. Laserfire splashed against his shields, draining them quickly, before he reached the third bodyguard and smashed his face in. He moved to the fourth, then fifth, disabling each one easily. The Ambassadors looked on in total surprise as their guards were defeated by a single person. But then the figure encountered the Jedi. The ensuing battle was, to say the least, blinding. The armored figure whipped out a glowing, triangular blade, which deflected the Jedi's lightsaber effortlessly. The green giant slashed, sending the Jedi tumbling back and out the hole in the wall the Spartan had just made moments ago. When one of the Ambassadors finally braved a look, he saw the two in a deadlock, their blades stuck together. The room around them was destroyed, burnt, and all around in a state of chronic disrepair. The deadlock broke, but there was no winner. The two combatants circled, eyeing each other. Then the window in that room, weakened by the flying blades of the two, flew out into space, sucking them with it. A blast shield closed around it, locking in the air. And so the War began.
"I had thought we might make peace with these aliens. I had thought we might open trade with them, learn of their culture, better our two galaxies. I see now how flawed that view really was." -Jedi Master Jan Fiin
"Another ship is coming through the Rift. It's much bigger than the last two!" The sensors officer was inexperienced, not knowing how to handle a combat situation like this. In the last two days, ever since the assassination of Ambassador Jence, nearly ten battles over the Rift had occurred, all of them ending in stalemate. This latest one had been the longest, lasting nearly six hours so far. Twelve Mon Cal cruisers and nearly thirty Corellian Corvettes had been destroyed, but the battleground was littered with the burning hulks of enemy ships. Most were the large ships commanded by the Sangheili, but there were a few of the more dangerous ones as well. The human ships, though few and weakly armored, took a toll on the fleet unprecedented since the Death Star battles. It wasn't easy for them, though. Turbolasers and energy lances reaped through them like a scythe, and the bomber squadrons were devastating. This new ship was large, perhaps six kilometers in length. It was a scaled-up version of the Sangheili ships that had been coming through the Rift, but with human MAC cannons attached to it. The ship opened with those, sending thirty-ton depleted uranium projectiles into the Republic cruisers. At the same time, plasma cannons on its sides glowed bright white and launched great beams of plasma at the smaller ships, the destroyers and carriers. The fleet responded in kind, Turbolasers and torpedoes pounding against their shields. Fighters were launched, A-Wings and X-Wings, and then counter-flights were launched by the Human-Covenant hybrid ship. "Tell the Star Destroyers to focus fire on those projectile weapons. They must be destroyed." Captain Duustal Traln stood in the command pulpit of his refitted Star Destroyer, the Crystalline Dagger, directing the forces in the fleet around the Rift. He cursed silently. Three hours. Three hours after the Ambassador was assassinated, a Covenant fleet arrived at their doorstep, not giving them a chance to put together a proper defensive line. Instead, he had to call in any ship in range to help them hold the Rift. "The Star of Adega reports significant hull damage. They're pulling out. Gold wing has been destroyed. Eighteen destroyers are drifting or destroyed. We have taken minor damage." The sensors officer was about to say something else, but he was cut off by a large explosion to the right of the ship. "Star of Adega ...destroyed." His look of surprise was total. The Star of Adega had been a huge ship, not easily destroyed by much of anything. Ninety seconds later, the human-covenant hybrid exploded, its engine core stuck by a torpedo. "That's right, the ship was destroyed with moderate losses. The fleet is rotating out for repairs and refits, and the Kuat Drive Yards have given us full access to their resources." Captain Traln looked at his commanding officer. "Sir?" "This is disturbing. One ship destroyed the Star of Adega. One ship. And yet you destroyed it easily. Why is that?" “As my report said, sir, their projectile weaponry pierced our shields. When we switched to the Particle shields, they began attacking with their energy weapons. We destroyed them easily enough. Their ships have weaker shields and armor than what we are used to.” “Hmm.” Lieutenant Commander Dergan read the report again. “Have the military science division work on a solution. And have them start working on a way to close this rift.” “Sir, they already did. What the found out about it is extremely puzzling. First of all, we can’t close it. Neither can the enemy. Second…well, you may want to read this for yourself.” Traln handed him a folder. The Commander read through it quickly, and then noticed a particular line. His eyes went wide. He had been a part of the science division some time ago, and he knew what this meant. “Have every ship within range of the Rift itself scan its graviton emissions. Immediately. This Rift could be extremely dangerous.” “You’re sure of this?” the quiet Admiral from the conferences looked at the scientist. “Oh, yes. This is supposed to be impossible…but it obviously isn’t!” “So when we send ships through that Rift…” “Yes. We just make it bigger. And stronger. The Rift itself is less than thirty centimeters wide right now, but we can send ships through because of the Funnel Effect.” “So this Rift is a small…” “…Black Hole?” the Commander yelled. “We are parked outside of a tiny Black Hole?” “Yes. And though it’s relatively tiny and weak, it is a tear in reality. You see, sir, we’re not just traveling to another Galaxy through that thing…” “…we’re traveling to another Dimension. Another reality! It’s a real Quantum Singularity! They aren’t supposed to exist, but they obviously do! And here’s the biggest part: Not only does it send us into another dimension, it sends us through time!” The Admiral stared at the scientist for a long minute. “I’ll…give your report to the President Greene.” Admiral Edward Sheppard turned and left the lab, heading towards the Mess. He needed a good cup of coffee, or maybe a sedative. A Quantum Singularity…that was bad enough. But a Black Hole to go with it was even worse. Four days later, Darth Titain’s fleet arrived to “help with the defense” of the Rift. The Republic wasn’t happy to have him there, but they needed whatever help they could get. In another two days, Admiral Mitth’raw’nuruodo arrived with his battle fleet. Then came a most unexpected ally: the Mandalorians. They came out of the Rift itself, tearing through time and space like paper. No one was expecting the Mandalorians, as they were supposedly extinct. That was when it was discovered that the Rift did not just traverse realities, but also time as well. With this knowledge, the Republic decided to send a call through the Rift to the Old Republic, and their Grand Army. Similar things were happening in the other galaxy as well. Covenant ships and UNSC ships were all parked right outside the Rift, waiting for something to cross it. Something did. It was large, perhaps 16 kilometers long and 4 wide. Its surface was peppered with turrets, machine guns, plasma weapons, and two very large cannons that no one had seen before. They were the twin Eversor cannons, great and powerful ship-to-ship combat weapons. Inside the capacitors for each, a chain reaction between anti-matter and matter built up. When this energy was released, two bright mini-suns existed for an instant before the power was dumped into the massive barrels and directed towards the target. There were MAC guns and Archer Missile systems as well, and there was a centralized launcher that fired god-knows-what. Following behind this was a massive fleet, five hundred ships all told, of Covenant and Human ships. A communique came through from the flagship, which identified itself as the Fist of Dorn. “I am Admiral Daniels of the Fist of Dorn. We have come to your aid. Where should I station my fleet?” The bridge crew of the Argonaut was completely confused until Admiral Sheppard stepped onto the bridge. “Well, send him the coordinates.”
“All ships at station keeping, sir. We are prepared for battle.” “Thank you, Joseph. What’s the status of the other fleets?” The sensors tech looked at the display for a moment. “Green, sir.” Joseph turned in his chair. “Wait. Wait, that’s not right. The Rift, sir. It’s fluctuating.” He looked up at the Admiral. “There’s something big coming through.” “From where? When?” “The other Galaxy. It’s a fleet sir. A large one, by the looks of it.” “Alert Admiral Sheppard.” The Admiral turned to the Weapons Station. “Bring the Eversor Cannons back online. I want all available flight personnel ready for muster.” He looked at the forward viewscreen. “This will be a long one.”
Darth Titain’s fleet came through the Rift at approximately eight o’clock in the morning on Saturday, January 19th. The first ship through was a Super Republic Star Destroyer. Following behind it was a fleet of fifty-one ships. Then came Grand Admiral Thrawn’s fleet.
The opening salvoes started at 8:23 AM. Admiral Daniels opened with his Eversor Cannons, blowing two ships out of Grand Admiral Thrawn’s fleet. Thrawn responded by ordering an all-out charge against the Fist of Dorn.
Darth Titain’s fleet moved forward, the leading ships activating a stealth generator. Admiral Sheppard responded by firing the twelve stationed Super MAC Cannons at the last known trajectory of the fleet. Then Darth Titain’s fleet was among them, and all concept of strategy disappeared. Broadside after broadside pounded into the fleet, burning through shields and hulls as quickly as a knife through butter. Then the Arbiter’s fleet arrived. His flagship, the assault carrier The Shadow of Intent, deployed seraph fighters the minute it was in range. It’s plasma cannons opened up, driving bright blue bolts of plasma into Darth Titain’s fleet. In a matter of seconds, the sustained fire took out the leading ships. This soon became a hollow victory, however, as a ship, Leviathan-class, slid through the debris field and opened a burning tirade of lasers and torpedoes. Something struck it in the side, hard. It was a ship, built specifically for ramming. Its prow was glowing with the heat of short-range cutting lasers as it burned through the Leviathan’s hull plating.
Twelve hours of space combat. The toll was massive: five hundred UNSC ships, fifty-eight Elite vessels. The opposing force was even more damaged, though they had many more ships. The ratio was close to one in every three ships destroyed. When the Fist of Dorn rallied its ships and formed a wedge that burned, the battle had been presumed won. It hadn’t, though, as Grand Admiral Thrawn’s ships had also formed a cutting wedge. The two struck each other with titanic force. The ensuing battle lasted only half an hour, but that alone accounted for almost thirty percent of the damage for both sides. The end of the battle came only when Admiral Sheppard’s fleet pushed the remainder of Thrawn’s ships back through the Rift. Darth Titain and the Republic quickly followed. The Rift was held, if only just.
Though none new it, the first battle at the Rift would be the last. Soon, using all the power of the Rift and the experimental Dark Matter drive on the Gem of Opalia, the New Republic came up with a hyperdrive that would let them jump to hyperspace inside the enemy’s galaxy. Hyperspace travel there was believed impossible, but it wasn’t. Not anymore, at least. This meant that that they could jump to hyperspace the moment they came out of the Rift. And that meant that they could go anywhere in that galaxy, strike at any target they came across.
At close to the same “time”, the engineers and scientists (both Elite and Human) used a multitude of Forerunner devices to modify plasma and fusion drives into a single, great engine, which was situated just outside the Rift. It could hurl them through the Rift with enough speed to send them crashing straight into slipspace when they cleared the Rift. Which meant that they could do pretty much the same thing as the New Republic.
The Assassin crept through the bowels of this great Slipspace Cannon, checking to make sure his armor was still working to keep the immense radiation from burning him. The Cannon, though perfectly safe for ships, was not without its own dangers. The two massive reactors for it, both nearly a hundred meters across, put out immense amounts of gamma radiation into the surrounding space. Ships were, by default, shielded from such, but people tended to get cooked. He knew, even without looking, that he could only last a few more hours this close to the engine core. It didn’t matter, though, because he had done what he was sent to do. He had facilitated the Great War, the war that would destroy one of the two galaxies, if not both. His task was complete, and the future was better for it. The War had destroyed Earth the first time around. It was because they were unprepared for it. Having just come out of the war with the Covenant, humanity had been severely crippled, without any substantial fleet or defenses. The Reach Station had just been completed, but it was still essentially empty of crew. The Master Chief was gone, presumed dead in the action at the Ark. Now they were prepared. They were fighting. Time had been fixed. The Assassin continued on his way, grabbing the rungs of a ladder, pulling himself up and over the next set of stairs. He was making great progress, he knew, but he had nowhere to go. He could not go back through the Rift, that much was certain. As he climbed out of the last airlock, he saw the outside of the Slipspace Cannon. He was amazed. The sheer size of it…it was at least thirty kilometers long. This was truly the greatest achievement of humanity up to this point. It could send a ship as large as the Forerunner dreadnought into Slipspace with less than ten percent of the run-to-jump. That alone was an amazing feat. The ship barely had to move and it could accelerate into Slipspace. He pushed off of the cannon at an angel towards the barrel. It would take him at least twelve minute to get inside, then perhaps another twenty for them to test the cannon again. He would be in position by then. Right in front of the barrel.
With the new engines both sides now had, they were able to effectively launch surprise attacks against each other. While most ended in small skirmishes and failed missions, some occasionally got through…
Tatooine. An ugly, barren wasteland orbiting a binary star. No one really saw any monetary value in it. Sure, the great Luke Skywalker was from Tatooine, but that didn’t really count for anything. Tatooine. A dead world. Once, millions of millennia ago, it had oceans. It had trees and flowers and soft cuddly animals. A paradise. That was until its star was corrupted and it split into two different bodies. Tatooine. Worthless. So why was everyone fighting over it?
At approximately 13:19 Standard Time, four fleets of warships dropped out of Slipspace. Admirals Daniels and Sheppard, the Arbiter, and a fleet captain named Preston Langley were the commanding officers aboard these particular fleets. The defenders arrived in short order, almost within minutes of each other. The commanding officers were Grand Admiral Thrawn, a Mandalorian named Steven Olson, a fleet directed by Diga the Hutt, and a massive Sith fleet lead by three different Sith, Darth Dracus, Darth Xizov, and Darth Titain.
The board is set, and the pieces are moving.
The four fleets moved swiftly towards the great tan planet beneath them. Fighters and landing craft were launched in short order. The star port was taken in minutes. The rest of Mos Eisly fell soon after. The assault went smoothly until the enemy fleets dropped out of Hyperspace. Thrawn’s fleet moved swiftly towards the main group of enemies, several sections of Daniels’ and the Arbiter’s fleets. The Sith fleet moved towards Sheppard and Preston Langly’s fleets. The Hutt’s fleet moved to Tatooine itself and started a counter-assault on the ground forces, already entrenched in the desert sand. The Fist of Dorn and the Chimaera immediately exchanged fire. The Fist opened with the Eversor cannons, and the Chimaera opened with a broadside of Turbolaser batteries.