• Published 21st Jul 2019
  • 3,272 Views, 234 Comments

Halo, Equestrian Covenant - Shady Steps

Twilight Sparkle and her Covenant forces fight a bloody battle against the Human transgressors as a dark thing stirs deep below.

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Chapter One

August 30th 2552

This ship, Twilight Sparkle decided, was much too small. The purple Unicorn was flanked by her honour guard, Griffons each carrying an ornate and ancient projectile weapon, bright white armour and a rounded reflective helmet covering their faces, at this moment they were pressed against each other in a vain attempt to give Twilight as much room as possible in the Type-52 dropship, the small craft, rated for thirty passengers, seeming ill suited to the fifteen ten foot Lion-Eagles.

Twilight herself had a simple white and purple uniform denoting her role as a servant to Celestia as well as her family colours, she also had an oxygen mask in case the craft lost pressure an unlikely event given the pedigree of her pilot and she was confident enough in her magic to protect her from the void anyway. There was a lurch as the shuttle passed from space into the protected atmosphere of the hanger and her pilots voice rang out over the ships com informing her that they had entered the hanger but were refused a berth.

“Inquisitor! Come in Inquisitor!” Twilights collar barked at her in the frustratingly familiar voice of Thel 'Vadamee, Supreme Commander and subject of the Unicorns current investigation.

“This is Inquisitor Sparkle, how can I help you Supreme Commander?”

“Are you responsible for the ship currently trying to land without authorisation in my hanger”

“I am in fact on that ship right now, I have decided to relocate my investigation from the Indomitable piety to your battlecruiser, it should allow me to observe the battle more effectively, Were you aware that the ship you had assigned me had a slipspace malfunction? I would have arrived days after the battle had taken place!” There was a pause and Twilight felt the lurch of a magnetic lock engaging.

“This is absurd, you have chosen this moment to delay me, this is a sensitive tactical maneuver and you...” Twilight cut him off.

“The fleet has lost over one hundred and fifty ships in this battle, this could be the greatest loss of life The Covenant has seen in a decade and as Inquisitor I demand to be present to observe, by the treaty that binds us together you are obligated in this matter to defer to me”

“Indeed” Thel 'Vadamee replied, seemingly unconcerned “Your absence from the battle would have been a tragedy, I am glad you were made aware of the malfunction just moments before we were to depart. I shall have a room made up for you, I will regret that your accommodation upon my ship will not meet... Equestrian levels of comfort, you will do nothing to impede my ability to command this fleet.”

“I shall be on the command deck shortly” Twilight cut the communication and sighed in frustration, The Sangheili collectively and Thel in particular had made her investigation into the defensive war against the humans frustratingly difficult. She had been charged by the Princesses months ago with the investigation and had been shuttled from one planet filled with surrendered humans to the next. The war, from what she had seen, was being conducted exactly as it should be, human attacks into colony worlds owned by the covenant were being repelled and werever a human civilian population was encountered they were treated fairly and in accordance with military law.

But she had seen nothing but the aftermath of conflict, her attempts to observe an actual battle had been met with ancient accords dictating that no equestrian was to be conscripted to battle, malfunctioning ships that delayed her transport, excuses of the danger presented to her being too great. for months the Sangheili had refused to allow any amendment to the accord that allowed an Equestrian to Volunteer to be present at a battle, the obstinate attitude of the Sangeili had been, for some baffling reason, supported by the High Prophets.

Even with that minor legislation granting her, in theory, access to the Human instigated conflict she was still met with the seemingly impossible task of gaining access to the forward elements of the fleet.

Twilight might well be finished with her report but she had sworn she would observe this war and you don't observe anything after it's happened! She had to see the war going on to know if the war was just, this battle against the human homeworld would not only be a conclusion to the war but a conclusion to her work, she could finally declare this a just war and return to the warm fields of Equis and to the comforting embrace of her mentor, besides if the humans were to loose here then they might surrender and her oath to observe the war would be impossible, she would dishonour her entire house.

One by one her honour guard stepped over to the gravity lift and descended into the hanger, Twilight waited a moment for her pilot to exit the cockpit, the short mare wore a suit rated for the harsh reality of space, its soft blue plates and shiny reflective helmet was well worn and in some places it had been chipped away to reveal the silvery metal under the enamel coating.

The bulky middle of the suit betrayed her as a Pegasus, the padding there was so her wings could sit comfortably, an antigravity pack had been affixed to her suit to allow her to manner in space. The suit was also meant to allow a Pegasus to remove the antigravity and life support units to allow terrestrial flight but if that was actually possible Twilight did not see how.

“Inquisitor” the mare nodded her head.

“You will accompany me at all times, and you will only speak to me, you may ignore any address that is not made by a shipmaster a minor prophet or myself, remember this is a warzone, things can get messy but you are not to intervene, we are the mind of The Covenant, not the sword.” Twilight paused looking at were the mares eyes would be if she could peer through the reflective helmet.

“Understood Inquisitor Sparkle” The mare hopped forwards and descended into Thel’s flagship, and twilight soon followed.

The Bridge of the Seeker of Truth was quiet as Twilight, flanked on her right by one of her Griffon Honour guards and on her left by her pilot, strode forward towards the command platform.

“Welcome to my bridge Inquisitor, I believe this is the first time we have met in person.” sitting in his throne and looking at a strategic display Thel 'Vadamee cast an imposing figure, it was rare for a Sangheili to stand taller than a griffon.

“Not for a lack of effort on my part I assure you” Twilight turned and began to ascend the ramp, to her surprise an equestrian seat had been affixed in place next to the shipmasters throne, a courtesy she had not expected and one that was very impressive to arrange in such a short time, had Thel anticipated her presence?

“The worst of the battle is over, however the humans have mounted a formidable defence of this system, what is worse, the humans have devised a cowardly tactic, in the past we have used orbital bombardment on military targets, on this world, Reach the humans call it we see the first deployment of military structures interlaced with civilian installations” Thel turned towards her, “It is my deepest regret that such targets had to be taken, and the lives paid to end this war without human civilian casualties has been massive”

Twilight looked towards the strategic displays before her and gasped, orbital weapons platforms with power supplies buried under civilian structures, orbital hospital facilitates used to shield warships, lists of ships and divisions, not active in the occupation, but lost.

“The battle is very much in or favour now, but it still burns brightly, estimates put our losses at Over 262 ships and tens of thousands lost attempting to silence the orbital weapons platforms.”

Twilight shook her head, her hoof tapping the display showing her the mounting losses and despicable tactics used by the Humans, Thel continued.

“With the interlacing of Civilian and Military targets we were unable to gain any dominance in and around the planet itself, this has allowed the humans an unprecedented level of tactical flexibility.”

Twilight frowned cocking her head, something about the display was wrong, it was a three dimensional image of the planet with highlighted military targets “the cities are too small” she turned to look at Thel who paused and waved a hand, promoting her to continue. Twilight quickly reversed the display and began searching for population centuries and farmlands as she did the calculations “The population of this world would be between five hundred million and eight hundred million.”

“I have also noticed this discrepancy”

“This is not the Human homeworld.” Twilight slumped at the implication “One third of the fleet wiped out for a military outpost...”

“You now understand the resolve of the Humans, they destroy the monuments of the forerunners, they defy all attempts at diplomacy, they use their own civilian populations as shields” Thel paused before continuing “They will never capitulate, never cease there heresy, never allow us peace until we find whatever world they crawled out of and contain them there. The kindness of the Equestrian is wasted upon them, your love of the broken and savage has cost us much.”

The ship shuddered as it exited slipspace and Twilight did not find the strength to argue.

Twilight found herself glad for the seat as she stared out upon the burnt scraps of hundreds of ships, despite fighting for days it seemed that human resistance still burned brightly, several satellite cannons still had power from human held ground installations, several human ships were clustered around the satellites, the remainder of the human armada no doubt.

Turning, Twilight observed Thel as he began to organize and assume command of the ships in this system, despite the horrendous losses at the hands of the humans it seemed that over one hundred ships were still battle ready.

Hours passed, with the orbital cannons still active the battle in space could not be concluded, the four remaining human ships could not be destroyed, Twilight watched helplessly as brave Covenant gave their lives in the service of the great journey. She resolved that her report would include a scathing condemnation of the human conduct here.

“Why have they refused to surrender!” Twilight blurted out, rounding on Thel in one of the rare moments he was not busy with commanding this bloody mess.

“They are evacuating Demons Inquisitor” Thel turned his head “The humans are intent on spiriting away horrible weapons and unholy abominations, the deployment of demons on this world has been unprecedented also, perhaps this world is the spawning ground of-” Thel paused looking towards something that caught his eye, Twilight turned to the displays.

The human ships were moving, turning away from each other and there were telltale signs of emanating power, they intended to jump into slipspace.

“Reports are in, the demons have disengaged from the ground battle, they must be on the ships” Thel called out furiously “Formation thirty three, chase target mark one, formation Eleven, chase target mark two”

Twilight’s nose twitched, her eyes drawn to the human craft, a feeling that she could not ignore.

“Supreme Commander, fleet formation one will chase target mark three” Twilight turned to Thel who stared at her before turning to his display.

“Fleet formation fifteen will chase target mark four, all ships in proximity to Seeker of Truth, you have been reformed into fleet formation one, you will slave yourself to my navigation computer, we will chase target mark three.” he paused to turn on a privacy screen, preventing his voice from travelling beyond the command platform.

“Explain yourself Inquisitor” the Sangheili growled dangerously, Twilight paused and tried to justify her words to herself.

“Six transports were detected leaving the surface, one for each of the other fleeing ships but three docked at target mark three, if you were going to evacuate demons you would deploy them in any ship available but the majority would go to the most important ship.”

“You are under the assumption that the craft could have docked with the other fleeing ships but were unable to.” Thel countered looking down at the little mare.

“Trust me Commander, I have a good feeling, we want to intercept target mark three”

One by one the human ships fled and the assigned task forces followed them, the superiority of Covenant technology would allow them to arrive at the destination before the humans, no doubt after a battle like this the Shipmasters would be eager to enact revenge against the fleeing human ships and Twilight found she couldn't care less.

Author's Note:

I made a handy chart to help you visualise the new additions to the Covenant :)