"Chief? Can you hear me?"
The Chief's eyes fluttered open as he found himself floating in a debris filled hallway. He drifted towards a nearby wall and extended his arm out towards the wall, before gently pushing off of it, allowing the Spartan to slowly drift down the corridor. "I thought I'd lost you too." Cortana said, relief obvious in her voice. The Chief examined a gaping hole in the frigate's hull for a split second before turning on his helmet mounted flashlights, which slowly flickered to life. As he did so, he heard a faint ping of metal behind him. Swinging his head around, he spotted an MA5C before quickly grabbing it. Satisfied there was no major damage, he took the assault rifle and clipped to a magnetic holster built into the back of his armor, before drifting to the end of the hallway.
"What happened?" the Chief asked.
"I'm not sure." Cortana began. "When Halo fired, it shook itself to pieces. Did a number on The Ark. The Portal couldn't sustain itself. We made it through just as it collapsed."
The Chief reached the end of the hallway, which opened up into the endless void of space. The ships debris was still red-hot from the sudden Slipspace slowdown.
"But you did it. Truth and the Covenant. The Flood..." Cortana continued as the Spartan drifted into a room with a row of cryotube. He plugged her into a nearby holotank, which Cortana's blue form appear on. "It's finished."
"It's finished." the Chief repeated, in his usual calm demeanor. He then switched off his helmet mounted flashlights and placed his assault rifle in one of rackets on the wall nearby.
"I'll drop a beacon. It will be awhile before anyone finds us." Cortana stated as the Chief climbed into a cryotube. "Years even." The door began to close. "I'll miss you." she said somberly.
"Wake me, when you need me." said the Chief as the cryotube sealed with a lengthy hiss. Cortana nodded, smiling, as the Master Chief was frozen.
"Mayday mayday mayday," Cortana began, "this is UNSC FFG-201 Forward Unto Dawn, requesting immediate EVAC, survivors aboard. Prioritization code Victor 05-3-Sierra 0117.”
Cortana hovered gingerly on her holotank, The focus and dedication she gave to him, what she would be willing to do for him, would make her seem like his guardian angel. There, sadly for the Smart AI, wasn't much to around the remnants of the frigate Cortana and her company were stranded on.Watching over The Chief and tinkering with his Mark VI MJOLNIR Powered Assault Armor, were two of the only three things she could do. The only other, significantly less fulfilling and tedious task, was repeating the same message that she had repeated millions, no, billions, possibly trillions of times over the past twelve years.
And of course, the lack of activities the AI could perform on the desolate frigate left her with a lot of time to think.
And at her age, thinking could prove deadly for an AI like Cortana. Cortana was honestly shocked she was still functioning at the ripe ole age of fifteen years, well beyond the standard seven year life that has been set for smart AIs like herself.
Cortana then realized that she had been sitting there in a trance-like state, watching over the Spartan like some sort of stalker.
'You almost are, in a way,' a voice inside of her said.
The AI ignored this voice, as she learned long ago that arguing with this part of her only sped up her path to rampancy.
In an attempt to escape that haunting voice in her 'head', Cortana once again began to say the only thing she had really said in the past couple years. "“Mayday mayday mayday, this is UNSC FFG-201 Forward Unto Dawn, requesting immediate EVAC, survivors aboard. Prioritization code Victor 05-3-Sierra 0117.”
She went on like this for hours, repeating the same message over and over again, like some sort of cadence that the Marine recruits would chant during their physical training sessions. It was also... therapeutic, in some ways. It gave Cortana something to do, which in turn distracted her from thinking and slowing down her rapid decline towards the final stages of rampancy and her inevitable demise.
As she continued to recite her plead for help, a shrill alarm started sounding off on a nearby control panel. After a seconds delay, the AI accessed the control panel and took a moment to examine the data it was displaying.
The control panel indicated that one of the Dawn's few remaining short ranged sensors picked up a large, unidentified object nearby. After a few moments, Cortana accessed an external camera attached to the hull of the ship, which was still surprisingly working after twelve years of floating in space. The AI spotted a large Forerunner object in the distance, with what looked like similar to a slipspace rupture floating in the middle of it.
The Dawn's hull suddenly shuddered and creaked as the frigate began to slowly change it's course, sending it straight towards the portal. Alarms started to screech as the portal's pull started to cause damage to the frail remnants of the Dawn. Explosions erupted throughout the ship, causing chunks of the hull to violently rip away.
Cortana knew immediately that she needed John more than ever. She activated the Spartan's thawing sequence. The unfreezing process would be quick, which was typically painful and very dangerous for the average human, but there was no doubt in the AI's mind that Spartan-117 could handle it.
"Wake up Chief! I need you!" the Chief heard Cortana shouting as he began to stir. "Please!? Wake up John!" the Spartan shook himself awake as his senses and memories came flying back. The cryotubes door burst open as the Spartan forced his way out, his helmet mounted lights flickering to life as he propelled himself over to holotank where the AI was standing.
"John..." she began to say in a weak voice.
"I'm here!" the Spartan exclaimed as a large explosion caused a nearby door to fly open. He quickly stowed Cortana's chip in his helmet and pushed off the holotank to speed down the hallway. The inertia carried him forward until his armor's thrusters powered up, allowing for better navigation through the badly damaged ship. The Chief ducked and weaved his way through the large amount of debris floating through the Dawn, he noticed a M363 Remote Projectile Detonator floating among the debris. The Spartan shot his arm out and grabbed it, firing it at a large piece of twisted metal in his way. Suddenly, he stopped his movement by grabbing onto a protruding girder and magnetized his boots to the floor, narrowly stopping himself from launching into the void of space. He threw the sticky detonator aside and grew concerned with what he saw. Beyond him was a portal, and they were heading right for it.
"Chief, you may want to hold onto something." Cortana said as the Chief ran back the way he came and into an elevator. After checking to see that it was still operational, the Chief put Cortana's chip into the elevator's holotank.
"Get me to the motor pool!" the Chief ordered.
"On it." the elevator quickly descended and within seconds, the door opened to reveal the motor pool. The Chief retrieved Cortana from the holotank and exited the elevator. He looked around, soon finding what he was looking for. He jumped into a nearby warthog and strapped himself into it.
"Chief, what are you planning?" Cortana asked.
"What does it look like I'm doing?"
"It looks like you are planning to go on a Sunday drive in space." the Chief could imagine the smile on her 'face'.
"Just trust me on this."
"I don't have much of a choice, Chief." Cortana replied dryly. The whole frigate shuddered as it entered the portal. After about ten minutes the Frigate exited, revealing a large terran planet, large enough to be gravitationally pulling the Dawn towards it.
"What the hell?" the Chief said as he examined the planet.
"I don't know where it came from, but we're heading right for it. Brace yourself!" Cortana exclaimed as the Forward Unto Dawn started descending into the planets atmosphere.
Twilight Sparkle sat in her observatory, scanning the stars above with the telescope Princess Celestia had given her for her birthday. She was gazing at the Little Dipper as something streaked across the sky, catching the purple unicorns attention. "Wow..." she muttered under her breath, before turning away from the telescope. "Spike!"
Spike quickly ran up the stairs and made his way over to Twilight. "What is it, Twilight?" he asked, slightly out of breath.
"Come and take a look at this." Twilight motioned Spike towards the telescope. He looked through it and let out a small gasp.
"A shooting star!" he exclaimed enthusiastically.
"I know, isn't it wonderful?" Twilight said, admiring it through her window. After a few moments of observing the object, Twilight noticed something strange about the object's trajectory. "Spike, is it just me, or is it heading right for us?"
Spike examined it closer. "It seems like it is, huh?" The object suddenly grew much bigger as it passed overhead, a long trail of smoke streaming behind it.. Both of them ducked for cover as they heard it crash, its impact causing the library to shake violently. They ran outside and looked over the horizon, noticing whatever it was crashed on the edge of the Everfree forest.
"Come on Spike, let's go investigate this." Twilight said eagerly.
"I don't know about this Twilight..." Spike muttered.
Twilight rolled her eyes and smirked at Spike. "Come on Spike, what's the worst that could happen?"
"You know, I'm getting sick of waking you up." Cortana joked as the Chief awoke. Apparently, he was knocked unconscious in the impact. "Looks like your luck hasn't run out yet, Chief." He unstrapped himself and put Cortana into a nearby holotank.
"Is the beacon still online?" the Chief asked.
"Yes, it got a little damaged on entry, but it is working just fine."
"Where are we?"
After a seconds delay, Cortana replied. "I'm not sure. This planet doesn't show up on any star maps. However, I do know this planet is on the edge of the Milky Way Galaxy."
"How's the ship?"
"You can look around and see for yourself. It's trashed."
"How are we on weaponry?" The Chief wasn't about to take any chances. This is a new world; it could be housing hostile life forms. Hell, it could be a Covenant Loyalist stronghold.
"I'll have the elevator take you to the armory. It seems to still be working. Meet you there." And with that, Cortana's form disappeared. The Chief unstrapped himself from the warthog and made his way into the nearby elevator. The doors closed behind him as the elevator began it's ascension towards the armory. Upon exiting the elevator, the Chief found most of the weaponry that the armory held scattered on the floor, but many appeared functional. He grabbed four grenades, a sniper rifle, and an assault rifle. Cortana's blue form materialized as the Spartan clipped the sniper rifle to his armors magnetic holster built into his back . "And exactly what are you planning to do?"
"This is an unknown planet, right? Then I should probably figure out if this is a safe area to hold out. Is there any life in the area?"
"My scans show what may be a possible settlement not far from here. Be aware, several life forms are coming from it, I'm not sure if they are friendly or hostile. Be careful, Chief."
"Always." the Chief answered, slapping a magazine into his assault rifle.