This is an unofficial novel written by LaJaveyon Saunders, otherwise known as IceFireWarden everywhere on the internet.
2100 Hours, July 07, 2558 (Military Calendar)/ Unidentified Star System, Halo Installation 02 The Kig-Yar known as Hap sighed in relief when he and his two companions finally reached the source of fiery smoke billowing over the horizon, his legs sore from hours of constant walking.
The wreckage of the spacecraft humans referred to as a ‘Longsword’ was a burning blotch of orange in the otherwise pitch black of the night. Portions of the metal shell was boiling away due to the intense heat, and the weapons locker it had been carrying was now several feet away from the crash site, its broken contents strewn across the icy plain. The hull had been breached in multiple areas by plasma prior to crashing, so Hap thought that the chance of human survivors was zero.
That thought quickly vanished from his mind when he saw a piece of the wreckage move.
“What was that?” said Hap, squinting at the craft’s torn cockpit where he had noticed the movement. He turned to Yim and Soc, pointing to the wreckage. “What are you two waiting for? Check it out.”
His two companions muttered under their breath, but nevertheless began to investigate the cockpit as he had ordered. Hap prepared to sit down on the craft’s wing to clean his needle rifle when Soc beckon for him to move towards them. The Kig-Yar sighed and maneuvered his way back towards them, taking his time on purpose as trudged through the melting snow.
Hap and his small crew were employed by one of the more economically stable remnants of the Covenant, who had come to occupy one of the Ancient Rings. According to their Chieftain Feroc, the Halo had ‘called’ out to them while they had been traversing slipspace and they answered its cry with gusto. This sect was a small force (consisting of one frigate and four vessels the humans referred to as Liches) constantly at odds with another, but they paid good and their work was largely safe, which was good enough for Hap when he agreed to Feroc’s proposal. For three years he and his pirates remained in this small pocket of the universe, never running out of food or drink and feeling rather safe in their rightly earned hideaway after so many conflicts.
Safe, that is, until the Jiralhanae picked up a human spacecraft descending towards the Ring at a terminal velocity on their sensors. It crashed into the frozen region they had named the Billowing Plain, and Hap and his men were immediately sent out to inspect the impact site.
Hap reached the cockpit of the Longsword and rested his weapon over his shoulders as he waited impatiently for either Soc or Yim to speak.
“Take a look at this boss,” Yim said as he reached into the shattered cockpit and grabbed ahold of something he began to pull out. Clutched in his hand was a glove. An armored glove, clearly attached to an arm.
Hap’s eyes widened. He knew what might be attached to that glove, but he wanted to make sure first. “All of us together should be able to lift it out.” The three Kig-Yar grabbed onto a part of the arm and pulled as one, dragging the wreckage out of the Longsword and unto the grass. They collectively gasped.
Lying before them was a Demon, one of the human warriors that had so troubled the old Covenant. Its pitch-black armor was smoking and dented-in from the crash, making it look like an Ut, one of shadow-monsters Hap’s grandmother used to tell him stories about. Strapped to its thigh was the pistol weapon the humans so adored.
“What do we do with it?” Soc asked, nudging the body with his foot to make sure the demon was in fact dead. The body didn’t react.
“Take it to the Jiralhanae of course,” Hap responded. “Even dead, this human should increase our pay very much once we deliver it. Yim, grab its arms. Soc and I will grab the legs, and we’ll place him in one of the Ghosts.”
The two nodded, and Yim went to walk around the corpse’s head…when the demon’s arm suddenly shot out with an uncanny speed and with a sickening crunch shattered the Kig-Yar’s neck in its hand.
Soc un-holstered his plasma pistol and began to shoot at the demon, but the being was too quick as it rose from the ground and kicked Hap’s companion once in the torso, sending him flying. Hap began firing his needle rifle at the human, and smiled as he heard its armors’ shielding system overload from the barrage.
The demon dove to the right to avoid the attacks, grabbing its pistol. With two shots it killed Soc as the Kig-Yar began to stand up – one bullet going into an area over his thigh, the other carving through his brain. Hap continued firing his weapon, finding himself silently praying to the Old Gods.
“Why wont you die?” Hap screeched as the demon charged forward and wrenched the rifle out of his hands, breaking his wrists in the process. The Kig-Yar only had a second to register his pain before the human shot him through the head and his body collapsed lifeless to the ground.
The SPARTAN stood there for a moment, observing the scene, before stripping the dead bodies of any useful weaponry. He immediately took the needle rifle as his own; he would need a primary weapon. He also considered replacing his M6 with one of the plasma pistols, but declined after deciding his own pistol could be put to a much better use.
“Three shots this time, huh?” A husky, feminine voice emitted from his helmet’s speakers.
“It would have been none Lupa,” the SPARTAN replied as he reloaded the needle rifle before holstering it. “But three on one is hardly fair.”
The A.I. snorted. “My pre-fight calculations dictate that you would have won 99.99991% of the time against those Jackals, Lykos.”
Lykos walked quietly back to his crashed ship and reached into the ruined cockpit, pulling out a small electromagnetic pulse generator and the hilt to his energy sword. After making sure both were still in working order, he attached them to his lower back and hip respectively.
“Chart a course to this ring’s Silent Cartographer ASAP,” Lykos to Lupa. “ONI isn’t going to be lenient with the time limit – the faster we can locate the source of that transmission to Ivanoff Station, the faster we can leave.”
“Acknowledged. Wait…hmm, that’s odd.”
Lykos frowned as he began carrying the dead bodies of the Jackals over to the still raging flame; the more evidence of his presence he eliminated, the more time he’d have to complete his mission. “What’s wrong?”
The A.I. sounded curious. “There appears to be some sort of data workstation emitting a signal close by, a very interesting signal. It might contain some valuable information about the nature of this ring. Do you want to investigate it?”
“Definitely. But if its broadcasting a signal that you can pick up on, that also means the Covenant might be reading it as well. Let’s do this quietly.”
The SPARTAN turned around and stared at the Longsword for one last time. “And the horse your rode in on…” he muttered to himself before trudging away from the crash site, making his way through the snow towards the NAV Point Lupa had just lit up on his HMD.
Forerunner Archive 00-1
// FRAGMENT 0/3 [RECORDED SOLILOQUY AND INTERPRETED POST-CATACLYSM] MJ: SO THE ARRAY HAS BEEN FIRED, AND YET I STILL LIVE. MY DEVICES HAVE PROVED THEIR FRUITION, AS THEY ALWAYS DO. MY MIND FEELS FRAGMENTED, OUT OF PLACE BUT WHOLE. I DO NOT UNDERSTAND IT. PERHAPS IT IS NOT MEANT FOR ME TO UNDERSTAND. MY RESOURCES STILL EXIST, HOWEVER. MY ANCESTORS CONTINUE TO GUIDE ME AS ALWAYS. MY SERVANTS ARE ALL DEAD, SO AT LEAST THAT LEISURE HAS BEEN GRANTED TO ME. TO HAVE MY OWN CREATION RESTRICTED FROM ME! [sIGH.] STASIS IS THE ONLY OPTION LEFT. I MUST CONTINUE PONDERING MY FATE, A SELFISH GIFT GIVEN TO ME BY MY DECEASED RACE. TONIGHT, I SHALL DREAM OF VENGEANCE FOR EONS. FOR NOW I SEE ALL, FOR NOW I KNOW ALL. AND ALL SHALL PAY FOR THEIR MISTREATMENT OF THE MANTLE. I AWAIT YOUR ASCENDANCE, HUMANS, BUT YOU WILL NOT BE READY. THE MANTLE OF RESPONSIBILITY BELONGS TO AND CAN ONLY BE FULLY COMPREHENDED BY THE FORERUNNERS. AND I AM ITS PROTECTER. //ADDENDUM 1 TO FRAGMENT 0/3 [RECORDED SOLILOQUY AND INTERPRETED POST-CATACLYSM] MJ: WHAT IS THIS? A NEW ORGANISM WALKS UPON THE RING I HAVE CHOSEN TO ORBIT. IT KILLS THE PRIMITIVE SPECIES THAT WERE HERE BEFORE I, THE ONES THAT FOOLHARDLY CALLS MY FALLEN RACE GODS. I AM PERPLEXED, CONFUSED. I DID NOT CALCULATE SUCH A POSSIBILITY. BEING, IDENTIFY YOUR-- AH. I SEE NOW. THIS IS BETTER THAN I HAVE EVER ANTICIPATED. PLEASE, PROCEED WITH CAUTION. YOU ARE MOST WELCOME… [RECLAIMER.]
PART I – ISOLATION
“One of the greatest terrors of the Rain Forest Wars was the sudden separation and lost of squad members while wandering the wilderness, brought about by either brushfire, beasts, or Mother Nature herself. It was in those moments, when a soldier found himself alone in an environment surrounded by enemies, that he or she began to breakdown and realize the Hell this conflict had become.” – Passage from A Soldier’s Tale: Rainforest Wars
SECTION I – INTERROGATION
CHAPTER ONE 1800 Hours, November 25, 2525 (Military Calendar)/ Sol System, Athens, Greece, Earth “How long have you been living like this?” the social worker asked the five-year-old boy that sat across from him. He wore a beige suit with a matching tie, and his hair was closely cropped.
The boy didn’t immediately respond, instead choosing to continue drawing on his sketchpad. He was rather tall for his age, with bright green eyes narrowed in concentration as he worked with his stylus. His silver hair was unkempt and dirty, resembling a lion’s mane. His clothing were even more ragged, and smelled of all sorts of foul odors best left unidentified.
The social worker bent slightly over the table to place a hand on the sketchpad, halting the stylus. The boy looked up at the man, and for the briefest of seconds the social worker thought he saw a look of menace in those eyes that was quickly replaced by boredom.
“Let me repeat myself since you obviously didn’t hear me the first time,” the social worker said curtly. “How long have you been living like this?” The boy tilted his head like a dog, as if he couldn’t comprehend the question.
“A few weeks,” the boy answered in a calm tone. “Maybe even a month. I’m not entirely sure.”
“You’ve been living on your own for an entire month without any parental supervision? How do you get food? Water? We searched your house and didn’t find anything close to consumable within it.”
“That’s easy! I stole it from the market,” the boy said, grinning maniacally. “At first I got caught a couple of times, but not anymore. Now nobody can catch me.” He turned around and stared at the grey walls of the room. “Am I in a correctional facility?”
“What could you possibly know about correctional facilities?”
“They’re large buildings built for bad people, like murderers and drug dealers. My mom talked about them a lot, said that if I kept misbehaving I was going to end up locked away in one of them. I told her to go stuff it. That’s how I got this.” The child pointed at a long, thin scar that curved upwards from his chin to his left cheek.
The social worker nodded at the scar. “That’s a pretty nasty one for sure.” He removed his hand from the sketchpad and leaned back while folding his hands in his lap. “You’re rather intelligent for a five year old, you know.”
“Yeah. I can use bigger words than all the other kids in my school. I call them stupid, but the teachers don’t like it when I do that,” the boy said. “I’m stronger and faster too. One day I picked up one of the weights the older kids had been using in the gym, and threw it out the window.”
“Impressive.” The social worker reached into the satchel he had brought with him and pulled out his data pad. He took several minutes to read a file – the child across from him deciding to return to his sketching – before returning the device to his bag. “Do you know why I’m here, Lykos?”
Lykos stopped, looked up at the man, and shrugged. “Because of the no parental supervision thing, I suppose?”
“That’s definitely one of the more important factors. But what I’m more concerned about is the death of your mother, Maria Bistealcian, and your failure to report it to the local authorities. Actually, it appears you outright chose not to report it.”
Lykos smile faded as he replaced it with a scowl. “I did. I hated her.”
“You hated your own mother?”
“Yes, I did.” The boy’s face was completely devoid of emotion as he answered the question.
“To the point where you wouldn’t even report her own death?”
“Yes…sir? To be fair, you know my name. I would like to know yours.”
“My name is Nathan Chaney, young man. Doctor Nathan Chaney. Now let’s return to the topic at hand. Lykos, your failure to report your mother’s death is far more important than you may think. Your mother had been a member of a government program that was keeping a close eye on her. They did the same thing with your father.”
Lykos frowned at the mention of his father. “My mother always said she used to be a marine. But I didn’t know my father was. I don’t remember anything about him.”
“It would be surprising if you did. He died when you were three, killed in heavy battle with the Insurrection.”
“Are those the people that everyone keeps talking about? I heard the butcher talking to a customer about them one day while I was nicking a sausage.”
“They are indeed the same. Your father was lost during Operation: TREBUCHET. Your mother survived the battles with the rebels, however, and eventually returned to civilian life.”
“Was he as good as my mother? I hope so.”
“Yes, he was. Maria and Bo were some of the UNSC’s finest, and they made them proud. But after your father’s death the UNSC noticed your mother’s psych was beginning to deteriorate, and they forced her to resign. Do you know what the definition of deteriorating is, Lykos?”
“I think I do. Doesn’t it mean fall into pieces?” Lykos asked, scratching his head and frowning when he noticed a detail he didn’t like in his drawing.
“In a sense, but at least you know the basic concept. Your mother couldn’t think straight, Lykos. This was causing her to become a liability on her missions, and that was unacceptable. It was her mental condition that caused her to become a drug addict and abuse you the way she did. Do you understand that, Lykos?”
The boy smiled. “Yes sir, I do. But I still don’t care. My mother was a crazy and horrible woman, and she always will be.”
“After all I’ve said, you still have no sympathy for the woman that birthed you?”
“No sir, I do not.”
“Then I just have two more questions to ask you before I leave,” Dr. Chaney said. This time he leaned all the way forward in his chair and stared into the boy’s eyes. “First question: in what way did you find your mother when you first realized she was dead?”
Lykos stared back at the social worker for a moment, before leaning forward as well. “I woke up in the middle of the night to use the restroom and passed by her room, where I noticed she was leaning over the side of her bed. I ignored her, used the toilet, and went back to sleep.” His eyebrows furrowed. “I woke up the next morning and realized I missed school. I don’t like it when that happens, so I went into her room to yell at her. But she had this white stuff oozing out of her mouth and her eyeballs were all funny.”
“What do you mean by ‘funny’?”
“One was looking one way, and the other was looking the other way. The weirdest thing was that the white parts of her eyes were kind of green too.”
“I see,” Dr. Chaney nodded. “And my final question is this: did you kill your mother?”
Lykos shook his head. “No, but I thought about killing her once. But I didn’t, because I didn’t want to prove her right. I’m not a bad man, even if she thinks I am.”
Dr. Chaney returned the files to the briefcase and stood up from the table. Two UNSC marines entered the room, their helmets obscuring their faces. “Thank you, Mr. Bistealcian. Everything you’ve said matches everything we already know. Now, I’m going to have to ask you to accompany these two soldiers here.”
“Am I going to the Orphanage?” Lykos asked when he noticed the marines. His eyes narrowed, but his general demeanor hardly changed a bit.
“Not the one you’re probably thinking about in Athens, but I am sending you to one. A quite special one, if I might add. I think you’re going to like it there.”
Lykos nodded as he got up from the table and walked over to the marines. One put a hand on the boy’s shoulder, but Lykos quickly shrugged it off and the three left the room.
Dr. Chaney sighed as he sat down on the edge of the table, calmly removing a Sweet Williams cigar from his pocket and proceeding to light it when he noticed that Lykos had left his sketchpad on the table. He picked it up, and when he saw the boy’s drawing he started to laugh. Lykos had been drawing their conversation, depicting the two of them as dogs with human faces. The portraits were remarkably accurate and truly amazing, albeit incredibly disturbing.
He turned off the sketchpad and placed it in his pocket as a tall redheaded woman entered the room, her face possessing a natural yet deadly beauty, even though Chaney wouldn’t dare tell her that.
“Put that thing out,” she commented when she noticed his cigar, and Dr. Chaney tossed it into the trashcan in the corner of the room. “So, how was the boy?”
“The little ******* is clearly a sociopath,” Chaney said. “Even more so than Halsey’s SPARTAN-II’s. But he’s smart, insanely smart, and from his files he appears to be quite the physical specimen for a child his age.”
“So he’s exceeding expectations?” the woman guessed as she raised an eyebrow.
“Very,” Chaney confirmed. “I still can’t believe it. The son of two successful ORION candidates…do you know the odds of that happening, let alone the odds of actually finding one? I’m actually surprised that Ackerson managed to track him down before Halsey did.”
“That man can track down just about anyone,” the woman agreed. “Do you know what can happen if this secret pet project of ONI actually succeeded?”
Dr. Chaney frowned. “If it does, then Lykos Bistealcian is going to become the best soldier in history. But if not…” He turned to look at his companion and grimaced. “I think we just created another monster.”
CHAPTER TWO 0900 Hours, November 26, 2525 (Military Calendar)/Unknown Star System, UNSC Point of No Return James Ackerson noted that the physician standing before him wore a strange mixture of nervousness and patience on his face. The Colonel poured himself another glass of scotch, and considered offering the man a glass before deciding against it. No good ever came out of offering a scientist alcohol.
“So you found the boy,” Ackerson mused as he took a sip. “Good work. Were there any difficulties? Complications?”
Dr. Chaney shook his head. “None at all, sir. We just had to find him. The locals deserve a special mention for helping us locate him, however.”
The Colonel’s eyebrows shot up. He hadn’t been expecting that response. “The civilians helped you? I thought the people of Greece were a bit…rowdy when it came to the government.”
“Oh, they certainly are sir,” Chaney smiled. “But I think their mutual hatred for the boy persuaded them to give him up to us.”
“Mutual hatred? Why do you say that? Is there something wrong with him?”
Dr. Chaney moved to the Holo-Screen on the far side of the small office and proceeded to activate it with his data pad. He quickly accessed a folder and opened it on the screen, showing an in-depth physical report on Lykos Bistealcian, along with the child’s last medical examination picture.
“Physically? Nothing. He has a remarkable build for a child his age – undeniably brought about by the combination of his parents’ augmentations and the injections he received as an infant.”
Ackerson brought his hands up and rubbed his temples, suddenly feeling weary. “I’m sensing a ‘but’, dear doctor.”
“But,” the Doctor said as he closed out of the physical report and opened up Lykos’ psychological report. “His mental state is up for debate.”
The Colonel rose from his seat and crossed the small distance to the Holo-Screen to have a better look. “Let me guess, this is about his mother isn’t it?”
Chaney nodded. “Afraid so, sir. His utter neglect to report his mother’s death is sending up alarms in our evaluations. The kid seems completely devoid of feelings, or at least compassion. My own personal conversation with him in Athens has also led me to believe that he has some socio-psychopathic tendencies developing as well.”
Ackerson took another sip from his glass, before turning to face Doctor Chaney. “What is the definition of a psychopath, Doctor?”
Chaney blinked, confused. “A psychopath is a person that’s suffering from a chronic mental condition that results in abnormal or violent social behavior…”
The Colonel nodded. “Are we not all psychopaths, Chaney; we men of war? For what is more abnormal or violent than members of the same species fighting against each other when there’s a greater enemy on their doorstep?”
“I…can’t think of anything else, sir.”
“Exactly,” Ackerson noted as he placed a hand on the Doctor’s. “If that boy is a psychopath, then so are you and I. Is that understood, doctor?”
Ackerson nodded and went to sit back down at his desk, where he began to shift through a cluster of files. “I want him out of Europe tonight. Make him disappear effectively and efficiently.”
“Yes sir, Colonel Ackerson.” Doctor Chaney prepared to leave the room when a thought struck his mind, and he turned back around. Ackerson looked back up, frowning.
“Is there a problem, doctor?”
“Nothing sir, it’s just that…may I ask a question?”
The Colonel frowned deeper, but waved a hand. “I suppose you can. But just this once.”
“Thank you sir. It just seems that you’ve gone through extraordinary measures to get this boy. But you told me that neither the finals plans nor the evaluations for S-III have been completed yet. Why are you starting so early with this child when the project itself might not get a go ahead?”
Ackerson knitted his hands together. “That’s actually a good question. You see, Doctor Chaney, the human race is at war. With itself and with entities far more advanced than it. We need soldiers, son; men that will be able to go out there and get the job done. The SPARTAN-IIs that Halsey created are doing that. But they’re just not going to cut it. They’re too expensive, and too time-consuming. Which is why I’m going to walk up to ONI and tell them about my idea for the SPARTAN-IIIs. Boys and girls, brutal and full of hate for both the Insurrection and the Covenant that will be able to do what the IIs can’t. Sure, they’ll be weaker, more unstable. But there will be more of them. Hell of a lot more. And with the right equipment, they should be able to destroy the UNSC’s enemies by sheer numbers alone. We can’t feel pity. And we can’t feel shame for what we are forced to do under times of battle. But if I know that my actions are going to make the universe a safer place, then you better believe that I’m going to do what I have to do as my duty as both a soldier and a man to accomplish it.”
The Colonel drained the last of his scotch, and promptly tossed the glass into the trash where it broke.
“ONI will approve of my decision. Now, if you excuse me, I would like for you to leave my office.”
Doctor Chaney nodded, and left the room.