Chapter One: Dusk Chapter Two: Monument Chapter Three: Sovereign Dawn Chapter Four: Embers and Ashes Chapter Five: Resurrection Chapter Six: The Link, part 1 Chapter Seven: The Link, part 2 Chapter Eight: The Link, part 3 Chapter Nine: Voyage Chapter Ten: Equinox, part 1 Chapter Eleven: Equinox, part 2 Chapter Twelve: Rogue Chapter Thirteen: Destiny Chapter Fourteen: Hades Chapter Fifteen: High Noon part 1 Chapter Sixteen: High Noon part 2 Chapter Seventeen: Eternal Chapter Eighteen: Universe Chapter Nineteen: The Lost Chapter Twenty: Apotheosis Chapter Twenty One: Apotheosis part 2 Chapter Twenty Two: Apotheosis part 3 Chapter Twenty Three: Watchman Chapter Twenty Four: Spark Chapter Twenty Five: Inferno Chapter Twenty Six: Zealot Chapter Twenty Seven: Infinity Chapter Twenty Eight: Embers Chapter Twenty Nine: Here be dragons Chapter Thirty: Green and Blue Chapter Thirty One: Darkness Chapter Thirty Two: Dawn Chapter Thirty Three: Majesty *Finalé* The Onyx StarsChapter 1Halo-Mass Effect CrossoverBy: Sith AN: Tons of thanks to WarpObscura and Spartan303 (Jon Harper on FF) for beta-ing and helping the plot be smoothed out. Don't worry, I'm not abandoning Siege of Reach. I still plan to finish it and it's sequel Messiah Guide Me Home. Enjoy! 'The Onyx Stars is a non profit fan created story for the purpose of entertainment. No monetary, social or economic gain is made from the reading/creation of this story and is covered under Microsoft's Game Content Usage Rules which can be found at www. xbox Community/Developer/Rules. Com. Halo Franchise © Microsoft. The Onyx Stars was created under Microsoft's "Game Content Usage Rules" using assets from Halo Franchise. It is not endorsed by Microsoft and does not reflect the views or opinions of Microsoft or anyone officially involved in producing or managing Halo Franchise. As such, it does not contribute to the official narrative of the fictional universe, if applicable. The Mass Effect series is the sole property of Electronic Arts and BioWare. No infringement is intended. No monetary, economic, social, or political gain is acquired from this fan work. Chapter One: Dusk UNSC Infinity Installation 03 “Captain Lasky, we are dropping out of slipspace!” Helm Officer Devéro called out. “ETA, two minutes.” Captain Thomas Lasky braced himself against the holotable that dominated the bridge of humanity's most powerful warship. The table projected a blocky blue model of Infinity, flanked by ten Charon-class Light Frigates as they raced through slipspace to intercept the Didact and rendezvous with the Master Chief. “Understood Lieutenant.” Lasky said in response. He looked over to the right, a middle-aged man with graying brown hair and dull green eyes sat, “Lieutenant Austen. Prepare bow energy projectors, ready all forward MACs and prep Howler missile pods.” Lieutenant Eric Austen nodded, “Aye sir!” He said back energetically, hands racing across his station---the two bow energy projectors were Infinity's main armament, able to slice apart a Covenant Assault Carrier in a single salvo. Each of her four MACs could dish out over forty megatons of directed kinetic energy and a handful of Howler missiles could vaporize entire Covenant vessels. The Infinity was heavily armed, and crewed, with Humanity's best and brightest. Infinity's model on the holotable was now highlighted an eerie green as shields were raised and main weapons were activated. “Roland.” Lasky continued, the small yellow of Infinity's resident Artificial Intelligence snapped into existence on the opposite end of the holotable. “Yes sir?” The small AI asked, hands clasped at the small of his back and feet shoulder width apart. “Prep Onagers, ready the Pulse Lasers, and bring our Fortress network online.” Thomas ordered. The Covenant and Didact were almost guaranteed to be deploying strike craft, with out Infinity's CIWS suite active, they would be overwhelmed and possibly boarded. Roland saluted, “Aye sir.” The Infinity's sides were filled with black dots as the CIWS suite activated. “When we drop out,” Lasky commented, “I want Broadsword Squadrons Alpha through Hotel deployed to engage the forward advances of the enemy force. Load them with Fury and HAVOK warhead. Squadrons India through Oscar are to deploy to reinforce Ivanoff's defenses. If I remember correctly, it only has a a dozen Mark 2 Onagers and those will most likely be overwhelmed.” “Understood sir.” Roland said. He paused for a few seconds, “Squadron leaders report green. They are readying their craft now.” “Thank you Roland.” Lasky said. “Of course sir, just doing my job.” The AI commented before disappearing. “We are dropping out of slipspace....” Helm Officer Devéro said, “Now!” Infinity looked up and out of the Infinity's expansive bridge windows. The aurora-like colors of Slipspace vanished in favor of the red and black hues of space around the Halo ring. In the distance hovered seven CCS-class battlecruisers escorting the monstrosity of the Didact's flagship. They were just outside of Infinity's effective combat range of 120,000 kilometers at a little over 200,000. “Designated squadrons, launch.” Commander, Air Group Lieutenant Commander Peter Sebastian called out from his station to the left of the bridge. Lasky looked at the holotable's display, six hundred F-41 Broadswords had spilled out of Infinity's launch tubes. Half were racing towards the Seraph Fighters, Phantom Drop Ships and Lich Gunships and the other half were racing towards Ivanoff station, blowing Seraphs out of the sky with high powered missiles and pulse laser strikes. The ten Charon-class Frigates flanked Infinity on the top and the bottom. Their shields were raised and weapons ready, the few fighters the 500 meter vessels carried had launched raced towards Ivanoff. Lasky walked away from the holotable and shook his head at the warped portion of the floor in front of the bridge windows. It was were Infinity's original commander, Andrew Del Rio, had been vaporized by a Promethean pulse grenade when the robotic abominations had stormed the vessel. “Priselkov, open communications to every vessel in range. Helm! Bring us into firing range!” Lasky shouted as he took up position at the fore of the bridge. “Aye sir!” Priselkov replied, “Communications open!” “This is Captain Thomas Lasky of the UNSC Infinity. For too long, your kind terrorized ours. But now, we are the giants, and you the powerless. We will do what you did to us. Prepare.” “We are in range.” Devéro said. “Austen, open fire!” Lasky said, “Burn them from the skies!” “Aye sir!” Austen responded, “Bow energy projectors firing! Bow energy projectors away!” The Infinity advanced forward and from her bow, two brilliant silvery white beams lanced across space, slamming against the Covenant battlecruisers amid-ship. Shields held for all but a second before they popped like a soap-bubble and the sleek, predatory craft crumpled like tissue paper. Two CCS cruisers instantly vanished in puffs of blue and purple fire. “Fire MAC one.” Lasky said. “Firing MAC One, aye.” Austen said, “MAC away.” One of Infinity's MAC fired, a 6 ton slug transversing space quicker than an eye---or Covenant sensor, could see. The slug impacted with the force of a fifty-megaton bomb but due to the kinetic properties all of the energy was imparted on a certain region. The shields of a CCS cruiser vanished and the vessel exploded into glittery fragments. Roland popped up on the holotable. “Remaining CCS cruisers are moving towards us.” he informed Lasky, “Plasma torpedo impacts along shield sectors alpha 1, beta 2 and charlie 10. No damage.” Lasky crossed his arms and smiled faintly, a plasma torpedo back in the day could easily gut even the largest of UNSC vessels. Not now though, with Forerunner enhanced shields, human ships could survive an entire battlegroup firing on them. “MAC two, fire!” “MAC two, firing. MAC away.” Austen said. Another CCS cruiser exploded into debris no larger than the size of a baseball. “MAC three.” Lasky started, “fire.” “MAC three, firing. MAC away.” There were now only two battlecruisers remaining as the fifth died, speared amid ship and now in two parts, expelling flame and debris as it listed uselessly in the void. The Covenant Cruisers turned and engaged their main engines, quickly trying to escape the battle and recover when a 50 megaton nuclear bomb detonated in their midst. Shields overloaded and hulls boiled before the vessel's spines snapped. “This is Squadron Echo, Charlie Charlie Sierras down.” The speakers on the Infinity crackled. “Captain Lasky, the Didact's vessel is bringing it's main weapons to bear on us.” Roland reported, his voice tinted with fear and trepidation. “All frigate, break! Fire at will!” Lasky ordered, quickly walking away from the bridge windows as heavy titanium-carbon armor plates slid down. He felt hydraulics mechanisms slowly depress the bridge deeper into Infinity's armor belt. Holographic displays snapped into existence, showing everything from the perspectives of the thousands of cameras on Infinity's hull. “He's firing!” Roland cried. The Infinity was rocked by an impact as the Didact's plasma lance splashed against the shield. Sparks erupted from conduits on the bridge. Roland fell to his knees, “Shields are at fifty percent and falling! Another hit and we are gone!” He shouted. “Helm! Evasive maneuvers!” Lasky said, stumbling towards the holotable and bracing himself against it. The Infinity banked away, her three main engines propelling her away at a breakneck pace. “Roland, fire all starboard weapons, pulse lasers, archers, I don't care!” Lasky ordered. “Aye...” Roland said. Pulse lasers, 70mm railgun rounds, and 15cm MAC slugs lanced out in the thousands. The ordinance impacted harmlessly against the Didact's shield. “He's charging up for another shot!” Roland shouted, “If this was a Forerunner battleship and not a picket ship we'd be dead already!” - - - Ivanoff Station Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy John-117 sidestepped a barrage of plasma fire, throwing his two ton form into a wall. He ducked and rolled, bringing his MA5D up and peppering the lead Sangheili minor with 8mm saboted armor-piercing rounds. The solid tungsten rounds shredded the torso of the massive alien, blood and organs slapping against the wall behind the creature before it finally collapsed dead. John pushed off the wall, pile-driving another elite, tackling the much larger warrior. John retracted his arm, made a fist, and punched through the Sangheili's skull. It crumbled as soon as his fist made contact with the bone and before the Sangheili even knew what happened, the brain had been destroyed. The Master Chief retracted his fist---it was coated with blood and brain matter. He rolled as another Elite charged him, grabbing the serrated obsidian blade on his hip and driving it through the alien's shield. The reptile roared in pain as the blade pierced its armor and into its back. John twisted the knife and pulled it out, finishing off the elite with a precise punch to the back of the head. “John!” Cortana said in his radio. “What?” He asked, MA5D clattering at devastating the lance of Grunts and shield-bearing Jackals. “The Didact, he's pulling off!” She said excitedly, “The Infinity and her frigates just arrived in system.” Lasky is braver than I believed. John thought, “What about the cruisers? What are their status?” A single energy projector hit from those Covenant cruisers could vaporize the station and the asteroid it was built on. :Just a second.” Cortana replied, her voice momentarily becoming much more digitized. It was her Rampancy, it was slowly killing her. “I'm detecting the debris from several and the radiation from a 50 megaton nuke.” “Infinity isn't holding back.” John commented. “No, they're not.” Cortana said, “John.” “Yes?” he responded, sidestepping a plasma grenade and caving in a Grunt's chest with an open-palm hit. “If we can get to Infinity and if we have enough time, I can recompile my neural net.” Cortana said, desperation in her voice. “I'll get you there.” John said firmly, he dove through an airlock as the entire compartment he had just been in vented, a ASGM-10 missile from a Broadsword detonating against the station. “You promise?” She asked, voice again digitizing with the fringes of John's HUD becoming static for a moment. “Yes.” John affirmed, “I will get you back to Infinity. And we'll be okay.” “Thank...” Cortana struggled. “Cortana, please relax.” John pleaded. “I need you to relax and focus on finding me the HAVOK so we can destroy the Composer.” “Okay.” Cortana said defeatedly, “HAVOK, 30 megaton, level 1.” “Thank you Cortana.” John said. “You....” She started, her voice changed and his helmet began to have lines of static racing down it. “This place will be your home. This place will be your tomb.” “Cortana!” He shouted. “I'm sorry!” She cried, “We need to hurry!” John's heart sunk, Cortana as barely holding on. The ramblings, the slowness, everything signaling rampancy had come to an apotheosis onboard Ivanoff station. “Okay, just hold on Cortana.” He said, voice uneven. John turned and ran towards the elevator, quickly punching in 'LEVEL 1' and feeling as the cube of steel dropped, descending deep into the asteroid. John checked his weapons, an MA5D firing 8mm saboted AP tungsten rounds and a M395 Designated Marksmen Rifle chambered with .338 Lapua saboted DU-AP rounds. The elevator came to a screeching halt and the door slowly opened. John grabbed his DMR and snapped it up, photo-reactive panels on his armor changing to blend him in with the environment. It was dark in the ordinance bay, however his night-vision suite rectified that quite easily. Instantly, four squat figures appeared in his night vision. They were outlined in red and John recognized their movement. They were Grunts. He quickly dispatched them, four pulls of the trigger and four upper torsos of the aliens vanished as the hypersonic round punched through their skulls and detonated their methane breathing tanks. John looked to his motion detector, it was clear with only the faint grey outline of the 30 megaton HAVOK warhead directly in the middle of the room. He took a tentative step forward, scanning the room, looking for the slightest shimmer of air to identify a cloaked stealth elite. He scanned with thermal vision and infra-red. Nothing. He sprinted towards the HAVOK and pulled it's warhead from the main body of the missile. He examined it closely, activating the stand-by mode. He turned away and placed it on the small of his back, the magnetic seals latching onto the football sized nuke. John activated his radio, establishing a link with the Infinity. “Infinity, this is Sierra-117. I need support to evacuate the crew of Ivanoff station.” “Chief, this is Lasky. I can't bring Infinity in or the Didact will destroy us---it's cat and mouse out here. Our weapons won't dent his shields.” “Sir, I have a warhead with HAVOK grade ordinance. If you can punch a hole through his shields I can destroy his ship form the inside.” John explained, “But first, I need Ivanoff station evacuated.” “Roger that chief, Frigate Obsidian 1 is en route.” Lasky responded, “Eta, thirty seconds. They are slipping in.” “Thank you sir.” John said. “No thanks necessary chief. Just take this bastard out!” An explosion drowned out Lasky's voice before fading “Reorient us, main battery, prepare to fire ” “Sir, where is Battlegroup Dakota, a full Battlegroup should be able to breach the Didact's shields.” John asked. “I sent them to Earth. Incase we failed, the Home Fleet would be able to be bolstered by Dakota and stand a chance.” “Understood.” “Lasky out.” “Cortana?” John whispered, “Are you there?” “Yeah I am Chief.” She said, voice firm. “I'm ready.” - - - UNSC Infinity “Obsidian 1 is away.” Roland reported, “Obsidian 1 has arrived at the station. Commander will bug out when evacuation is complete.” Lasky nodded, “Thank you Roland.” A massive boom drowned out all other noise on the bridge, “Report!” “Energy torpedo just blew out the shield generators in sector twenty. We have decompression.” Roland responded hastily, “Emergency shielding activated. Huragok and techs are diverting forces there.” Lasky shook his head, Infinity was taking a beating, “Helm! Expose our port side, full broadside of Archer and Rapier pods! That should give him a bloody nose.” “Or a slightly uncomfortable pinch.” Roland retorted. “Shut it.” “Aye sir.” The Infinity brought its port side to face the Didact---thousands of missiles erupted from their casing and raced forward towards the Didact's mothership. Pulse lasers lanced out, vaporizing the missiles with little effort. A few made it through but detonated harmlessly against the powerful energy shields. “Reading a slight drop of the Didact's shield strength. It's at 79 percent.” Roland said dishearteningly. “Every weapon on this ship, enough power to destroy a continent and that damn thing won't break.” Lasky braced himself against the holotable, “Divert all Broadswords from interception duty, have them barrage the Didact with their missiles. Obsidian two, three, four and five are to converge on the shields at the top of his vessel. Obsidian six, seven, eight, nine and ten, focus MAC fire on his bottom shields.” “Aye.” The Infinity's escorts zoomed around the Didact's vessel, missiles, rail gun slugs and pulse lasers splashing harmlessly against the Forerunner shields. Her frigates took up firing positions from five thousand kilometers away while Infinity dueled the Didact at fifty thousand. 3 ton slugs lanced out of the frigates and slammed into the shields of the Didact with the force of a megaton bomb each. Yet the Forerunner vessel remained unflinching as it continued its attack on the Human dreadnought. “Fuck!” Austen shouted, “Obsidian 2 just got hit by the Didact's energy lance. She's venting atmosphere, the captain and crew are escaping in life pods and the AI has set a course to crash into the Didact's ship at full speed.” “That's a multi million ton vessel.” Lasky commented, “At max speed she'll have some behind her.” Lasky ran the calcs through his head, a gigaton of kinetic energy would be exerted by the collision---maybe enough to let a small gap for the Chief to get in. “Sir, a Broadsword fighter has left the launch bay of Ivanoff station. It's at full burn towards the Didact's space mini-van.” Roland commented. It was true, the Didact's ship wasn't even a full Forerunner war vessel---it was a private cruiser. Lasky smiled, “It's the Chief!” He said, he looked over to Tactical “Austen, sync up out bow energy projectors and bow MACs for a full barrage!” “Aye sir!” “Helm, bring us about, get me a clear targeting line on the vessel's center of mass!” Lasky added. “We'll hit this guy with everything we got! Load bow Archers with Fury tac-nukes.” “Aye sir.” Helm Officer Devéro responded. “Engaging engines, full burn.” The Infinity swung it's bow towards the Didact, shields flaring as plasma bolts impacted the powerful human shields. “Our shields are at fifteen percent. Energy is bleeding through and we are receiving damage to the dorsal hull.” Roland commented. If it was the old Titanium-A they would be dead now. The new Aegis composite armor that the Infinity and the rest of the fleet were outfitted with was a composite material of Titanium-A3, Carbon, Steel, and laced with meta-materials---it could survive a beating. “Prepare to fire.” Lasky ordered calmly, “Time until Obsidian 2 impacts the Didact's shields?” “Fifteen seconds.” Roland replied. Lasky nodded, “Fire!” “Aye! Firing full bow weapons.” Austen said. “Bow weapons away!” The Infinity's bow was consumed by a massive flash as four MAC rounds went tearing out of their barrels and raced towards the Didact's vessel. Two high-powered energy projector beams lanced behind them. They struck as one with Obsidian 2---enough power to render a continent uninhabitable, finally allowed a small hole to be created in the Didact's shields. - - - Broadsword 9 “The Infinity did it! The Didact has a breach in his shields!” Cortana said, shocked. “Now Chief, now!” John engaged the Broadswords afterburners and felt the small strike craft rocket into the hole in the Didact's shields. He quickly entered the firing number for the HAVOK missile mounted under the nose of the fighter. The screen flashed red, the launch computer was fried. He was beneath the Didact's shield, the nuclear detonation would be compressed and contained, amplifying the 30 megaton detonation and completely vaporizing the Forerunner craft. However, if he couldn't launch the missile, then the Didact's vessel would be safe. “I am another lost child, another lost mind.” Cortana croaked in his ear. Her rampancy was becoming worse and worse, “Dam nit!” She cried, “John, I'm sorry!” “Don't worry.” John reassured her, “It's okay.” “No, its not John!” Cortana said, “I'm putting you in danger.” “No, you're not.” John said in response, he tensed, “I'm going to be okay. And so are you.” “Ok.' She struggled, voice fluctuating. “I need you to launch the missile so we can end this and get you back to Infinity.” John said, “And then, we are going to get you fixed.” Cortana steeled herself and John could hear her hissing in pain, “Launching missile. Once it's deployed we have a five minute window to get out of here.” “Cortana.” John said. “Hold on, just a little longer.” There was no response for a second and John felt Cortana struggling to speak. “Hurry.” Was all she said. The ASGM-10 missile mounting the HAVOK nuke shot out from the Broadsword's nose, racing toward's the Didact's center of mass. John banked his fighter away, engaging the engines at full power. He crossed the distance between the Didact's shield and hull quickly and burst out of the shield as the nuke detonated. “This is AI Roland to all UNSC forces in area, prepare for immediate departure. Obsidian squadrons, all Broadswords return to Infinity.” John's radio blared. Another AI? John thought, Could this be something to help Cortana, “This is Sierra-117 to Roland, respond.” “This is Roland, how may I help you sir?” The AI politely asked. “I need you to establish a link with Cortana and start confining the rampant splinters.” John said, “It'll hold her through until a more permanent solution can be devised.” “Understood sir, linking now.” The other AI said. “Uplink established, beginning confinement.” “John.” Cortana whispered, “Thank you.” - - - UNSC Infinity “Obsidian is returning now. We have ninety fire percent of Broadswords docked, waiting on Echo Squadron and the Master Chief.” The CAG reported to Lasky, “ETA two minutes until we can jump to slipspace.” “Thank you Commander.” Lasky responded, he looked over to Austen, “Keep pressure on the Didact, that nuke is going to be going off in a few seconds----he can still shoot it down with a pulse laser.” “Aye sir.” Austen replied. Roland flashed into existence on the holotable, “Sir, Echo just landed. We are just waiting for Master Chief now.” “Open a com channel, Roland.” Lasky said. Roland nodded as the channel was opened, “Chief, we are prepared to jump. What's your status?” It was a few seconds before John responded. “Sir, engines are failing. I am coming in for a crash landing, clear launch bay nine.” “Do it!” Lasky turned to Roland. “Evac that hangar and seal it off.” “Aye sir.” - - - Broadsword 9 John swore as the Broadsword he was piloting smacked into the hangar deck of the Infinity. It bucked, bouncing off the solid steel deck and spinning as it touched the ground again. Warthogs, supply crates and other items were crushed as the multi-ton strike fighter devastated the hangar bay. It's engine gave one last puff and slammed the fighter into the wall. The engines vomited out sparks and John could smell smoke in the cockpit. Looking around, he unlatched the flight harness and climbed out of the cockpit. He was disoriented, dizzied even and fell to the ground with a loud crash. Looking up before he succumbed to unconsciousness, the Didact's vessel became a brilliant star as the warhead detonated. The blast was amplified by the shields and when they failed, only scattered debris was left. John's head felt too heavy for his body and he let it fall. The black abyss of unconsciousness seemed to welcome him, and despite his resistance, overcame him. - - - John and Cortana sat on the edge of a cliff on Requiem, the artificial light reflecting off of the moon high above in the artificial sky. His helmet was off and Cortana's holochip rested gently on top. She sat cross legged and he with his armored legs stretched out, palms flat against the ground and enjoying the sterile air of Requiem. “John.” Cortana said. He looked over to his companion. Cortana drew her legs close to herself, letting her head rest on her now upright knees. “I want you to know that no matter what happens to me, I'll always watch over you.” John's expression became stern, “I won't let anything happen to you.” Cortana dropped her arms from hugging her legs, “You can't stop it John.” “Yes.” John replied. “Yes, I can. I won't lose you.” Cortana reached out and gently touched his helmet. “But you will John. I'll be gone, they'll assign you a new AI. It won't be me.” John made a fist and slammed it into the ground, “I won't loose you. Not again!” He responded. “I kept my promise to come back for you on High Charity---and I'll keep my promise now.” “To get me back to Earth.” Cortana stated, “Back to Halsey.” John nodded, “Yes.” “John, my problem could cause me to hurt you.” Cortana said sadly. “I don't want that to happen---I don't want to hurt you.” John leaned down, “You won't.” He reassured her. Cortana looked up at the night sky. “I want to know John.” “Yes?” He responded, looking at her eyes. They reminded him of Reach's twin moons. “If they give you a new AI.” She asked, “Would you take it?” John was taken back by the question. “Would I take another AI if offered? No.” He responded firmly, “You and I are a team. And we will always be one.” She smiled, “I thought so.” She new what he meant. John smiled back, the first time he had smiled in a long time. “Sir.” Another voice said. He looked around. “Sir!” - - - UNSC Infinity “Sir.” Roland said, “I am detecting an energy build up in system, I suggest we leave immediately.” Roland reported calmly, seemingly preoccupied with something. Lasky was still staring at the sparkling debris of the Didact's vessel. A nuke shouldn't have been enough to destroy a Forerunner vessel---even a space mini-van. He thought. “Sir.” Roland said again. “Yes, jump us to Slipspace. We're done here.” Lasky responded, looking over his shoulder. “The station took too much damage, it'll need repairs.” “Aye sir.” Roland acknowledged, “Helm, course is plotted. Jump us.” “Aye.” Devéro said. “Entering Slipspace. Destination, Sol.” The Infinity banked away from the asteroid belt, a shimmering blue and black portal appearing off her how and swallowing the six-kilometer vessel whole. Lasky stared out at the window, watching as the strands of slipspace energy whipped past the Infinity. He still personally couldn't believe the Infinity was under his command, the most powerful vessel in the UNSC fleet under the command of someone a few decades ago was ready to leave it all. Then Corbulo happened. Elites and other Covenant rained from the sky, slaughtering everybody. His friends, teachers, peers. Everybody died. Silva. He closed his hand around the shard of Hunter armor that hung loosely from his dog-tags. The Master Chief, John, had saved his life that day---he had a life debt to the man. And so did Humanity. “Sir, the Master Chief has been moved to Infirmary Alpha. He has several fractured ribs, several organs with contusions, a broken pelvic bone and a broken arm. Possible concussion too.” Roland reported. Lasky's eyes shot wide open, and he pivoted towards Roland. “I want the best Doctors on the ship attending to him, I don't care if you even have to get the Huragok to help.” “Sir.” Roland saluted. Lasky was about to turn away when something came up in the back of his mind, “What about Cortana?” He asked. “Sir?” Roland asked. “Cortana.” Lasky said firmly, “The Chief's AI.” Roland, if he had lungs, would have inhaled heavily. “I have established an uplink with her and we're trying to sift through the rampant splinters and destroy them. It's a lengthy procedure but I have hope it will at least give her time to plan on reconstructing her neural net.” “Can the Huragok help?” Lasky asked, Cortana was as much a hero as John was. “Aye, they can sir. It is possible, these being genuine Forerunner creatures, that they have advanced AI techniques to delay Rampancy.” Roland pondered, crossing his arms and shifting weight to his right hip. “Do it. Cortana is,” He tried to find an adequate word, “she's beyond important to Chief. He walked through hell and back to get her and he'll die for her.” “I understand sir.” Roland said, “I'll do my best.” He was about to deactivate his avatar projection when Lasky said his name again, “Roland. Keep Glassman away from Cortana.” “Aye sir.” Roland agreed. Glassman was a notorious enemy of Doctor Catherine Halsey, the person who Cortana called 'mother' and who she was based on. Alarms blared across the bridge. “Sir!” Devéro shouted, “Slipspace field is fluctuating!” Roland's expression began tense and he looked up, “Damn it. Sir, we need to drop out now or the Infinity will be torn apart.” “Do it!” The Infinity shuddered as it tore its way out of FTL. Lasky instantly knew something was wrong, Slipspace didn't cause any force to be exerted on the vessel when it left the sub-dimension. As the aurora of Slipspace vanished, Lasky was greeted by a purple, blue, and white nebula and a multi-pronged space station looming thousands of kilometers away. “Raise shields!” He barked. This wasn't Earth.