• Published 21st Jul 2019
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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 Five

September 19th 2552 Final hours.

Her mouth felt dry and her eyes burned but it was only with incredible effort that she could bring herself to blink, to look away from the glowing weapon pointed at her face. The women had a hand around Twilight's horn, clasping it tightly as she stared down the griffon behind the Unicorn.

“Killing me would be very foalish” her words, spoken in English, drew a thin smile across the women's lips but she did not break eye contact with the Griffon.

“I am sure your friend over there would agree with you.” She held the plasma weapon in her hands with ease, a familiarity that even Twilight and her long years with the weapon did not possess.

“My name is Twilight Sparkle what's your name?” even speaking slowly and carefully she could not prevent her voice cracking, she tried desperately to remember how much energy her pistol could discharge and how much heat dissipation her shields could manage but the formula blurred in her mind and all she could remember where the firm words of her big brother.

‘When someone takes you hostage you need to keep calm and polite, tell them your name and learn what they want you to call them, most of the time they won’t give you a real name.’

“You may call me Doctor Halsey, Tell me exactly where I am as succinctly as possible.”

‘Talk normally and never complain or comment needlessly, do whatever they tell you to do unless it will directly result in your death.’

“You are on a Battlecrusier in orbit of the ring, roughly forty thousand kilomiters from its closest tangent.”

‘Do not attempt to escape unless you are certain beyond any doubt that you can do so without danger to your life.’

“What authority do you have Twilight Sparkle?”

“I am an Inquisitor and currently have command authority over this Battlecruser and a Frigate as well as all ground forces and crewmen of both capital ships.”

“I have a deal for you Twilight” the women’s eyes did not waver from the Griffon and the pistol in her grip was steady.

“I would be very happy to discuss this deal with you Doctor Halsey, perhaps we can do it while we are more comfortable, I can get you some food and water if you would like?”

“No. You are currently collecting jettisoned cryo chambers, are they all being collected here?”

“Yes, I was going to catalogue them for transport to a habitable world where other humans are currently living.” That caused the Doctor to glance down at her with an odd, worn expression, her mouth pulling inward and the faint colour vanishing.

“I want your friend over there to go and search for a particular cryo pod, its display will readout S dash L dash zero five eight. I want that chamber brought into this room then you and I shall be left alone, in repayment I will give you the encryption codes for all local UNSC communication, I will be asking for more things in the future and I have much more to offer.”

“I am going to start speaking to my friend behind me, to tell her what she has to do, is that okay?”

“Go ahead.” Twilight relayed the command to her Champion and heard the light tapping of talons getting slowly farther away, then the chime of a door unlocking followed by the crisp sound of the door opening, after a few moments the door closed again and Doctor Halsey’s shoulders noticeably relaxed.

“Now you are going to stand wherever I tell you, if I see that horn glow I will kill you, if you respond to anyone speaking to you without me telling you to I will kill you, you may respond to me but you will be silent when I tell you to be silent, do you understand Twilight?”

“Yes Doctor Halsey.” The Doctor relinquished her grip upon the Unicorn horn

“Explain your abilities in relation to that horn.” Doctor Halsey began to slowly move around the room and look at the fabricators and supplies present while keeping Twilight in her view.

“My Equestrian physiology allows me to absorb and store the magic present in the universe within my body. I am a member of the Unicorn tribe granting me this horn that can exploit the magic around myself, or within myself, to alter reality in a variety of ways, my friend is a member of the Griffon tribe but we are the same species.” Human records, the very few that Twilight had been able to collect, did actually speak of magic being used by Humans in ancient times. It was likely that it had been stripped away from the Humans by the forerunners for heresy and largely forgotten.

“You can interbreed?” Twilight balked at the sterile delivery of the question.

“Well... Yes, not the two of us, we are both female but the two tribes can, all Equestrian tribes are the same species.” Doctor Halsey nodded thoughtfully as she began to order components from the machines, it seemed Twilights theory of Humans having a good grasp of the common Sangheili language had a great deal more weight behind it now.

“There is a massive physiological distinction between you and that Griffon, she could absorb and store magic too?”

“Oh, well I mean in relation to other species Equestrian physiology is more efficient at storing and using magical energy, Humans do it too, all living things we have studied store magic, some inanimate things too.” Doctor Halsey continued to move about the room using a wide range of fabricators as if she had used the Covenant devices before, the components she was producing where simple and it looked like she was trying to build some kind of portable computer.

“Horns are the only means of altering reality in this manor?”

“No you can make devices that can be used in the same way, but they are often unstable and only work under particular circumstances, a spell can change dramatically depending on gravity, heat, weather, celestial bodies and other local fanomina you can bu-”

“Do you have spells that have medical applications?” Doctor Halsey cut Twilight off as she began to place all the components she had fabricated onto a single workspace.

“Well I am not a medical practitioner, I know some basic spells that can allow me to close simple wounds or treat burns. There are a few spells that allow me to see inside a body like I did with you and see if anything is wrong. I also have a spell that allows me to slow the passage of time in a living being somewhat but it only works if they are not resisting or not conscious.” Doctor Halsey paused to look at Twilight before looking down at the plasma pistol in her hand.

“I don’t have a great deal of options in this situation, the occupant of the cryogenic chamber will require surgery, if you provide aid and the occupant lives I will offer you information about UNSC and ONI operations, Forerunner facilities and the location of the Human homeworld Earth” Twilight's eyes widened as the value of such information if legitimate struck her. As she spoke Doctor Halsey was slowly putting the computer together one handed.

“That is a good deal.” Twilight mused “Who is this occupant? Why would you betray the Human government for them?” The plasma pistol slowly lowered and Halsey sighed softly.

“She is my daughter, I want to take her away from all of this, I would take all of them away from this war.” Halsey looked at the computer, a short glance and a sharp crack sounded out in the air, three bolts of plasma rung out and cascaded into the ground passing through the area Twilight had occupied.

The door to the fabrication room opened.

“I do want to help you Doctor Halsey, I want to accept your deal. However we cannot negotiate with my life in danger.” Twilight, now safely in the corridor and blinking the madness such a rapid teleport inflicted. She was safely behind a bulkhead with twelve of her griffons, they had came rapidly when they had learned of the danger she was in and waited outside until they had an opportunity to rescue her.

“You can move from one point in space to another, that is a very impressive ability! It's almost unbelievable that the Covenant does not make wider use of this ability and it’s clear military applications.” Halsey called out crouching behind a counter and pointing her plasma pistol at the doorway.

“If you surrender the weapon then we will not harm you and we can work on saving your daughter's life, if you don’t then my guard will be forced to rush you and will not be gentle. I am sure you understand we cannot allow you unrestricted access to the machines in that room.” Twilight glanced back at the reflective helmets arrayed behind her.

They were ready to move on her word, and that depended on Halsey.

The doorway became hazy for a moment, the only indication of the presence of the colossal beasts. They approached the Doctor who stood facing a wall with her hands pressed against the wall, the plasma pistol left at a workspace on the other side of the room.

Six of them, impossibly big and quiet. Without a word one of them silently stepped forward and grasped Halsey by the shoulder with a startlingly articulate hand edged with long piercing talons and led her away, she offered no resistance.

“Thank you Doctor, now I think we can discuss a deal tomorrow after we are both well rested. Take her to another brig, no contact with the other Humans but offer her the same treatment.” Twilight offered the women a smile.

“I will be looking forward to it.” the Doctor replied as she was led away.

Twilight trotted into the room, lit her horn and grasped her plasma pistol. Returning the pistol to its magnetic lock on her side she began to search around for the computer Halsey had created and found it wedged between a fabricator and a wall.

Pulling it towards her she knickered in annoyance at the cracked screen, the mare settled herself down on the floor and spun the device around only to find that the seam of the computer had been melted shut, easy enough to do with a charged plasma weapon. She began to pry at the display with arcane might until it shattered and she could brush the shards onto the ground, as expected the internals of the machine were still active.

Connecting her holographic display to the computer was relatively easy given that the parts involved where all standard covenant affair. Twilight was met with a simple mathematical encryption that delayed her little more than a minute, it seemed that Halsey had made a modulating pulse device, a quick check and Twilight did find an undersized slipspace beacon in the components making up the computer, its range was so small it could barely make it across the system rendering the devices capacity to call in reinforcements insufficient. Twilight read the message that had been pulsing across the system in slipspace.

>500-700 SLEEPERS

Twilight copied the message to a new document and ripped the computer apart in her magic sending its remains into the recycler shaking her head. Humans did not possess slipspace communications technology and this Halsey had clearly overestimated the range of the device she had created, no one outside of the system was ever going to hear her message.

With her head held high Twilight carried herself to her room, the ship was well into its sleeping shift making the trip a solitary one even with the constant presence of the guards about her. The moment she entered the long barrack outside of her room her communication device activated.

“Inquisitor, I hear you had some trouble with a prisoner” The calm voice of Savo 'Sralcamee, if anything he sounded amused.

“I don’t know what the Human was trying to accomplish, getting herself killed I suppose.” Twilight knickered in annoyance as she spoke willing her abused limbs to carry her father.

“It's hard to understand the motivations of the good and pius at times Inquisitor, don’t waste your time contemplating the thoughts of the heretic.” Twilight entered her room and shut the door.

“You are right, I will just get some rest while I can this has been an exhausting mess of a day” Twilight tried to pull her soiled and dirty uniform away but only managed to pull away a ruined strip of cloth off her abused body.

“Sleep well Inquisitor, I will also be retiring shotly.” Twilight wished the Shipmaster a good night sleep and cut the communication and began the slow painful process of stripping the ruined uniform from her body. Blood, dirt and expired medical gel had ruined the uniform and wide sections being cut or torn had rendered thin fabric into a sopping mess of rags. Dropping them unceremoniously into a pile Twilight sighed as the cold air pressed against her form, the many lacerations that covered her body had been rapidly closed but where still tender.

Filling a wall mounted Sangheili refreshment bowl Twilight brought the antiseptic water over her body in large globes of magically suspended fluid. The Sangheili did not consider baths a worthwhile space investment, soon the bowl was brown with the material scrubbed from Twilights person.

Turning to the sleeping slab the mare quickly died herself with a spell and set herself down hissing in pain and finally allowing herself a moment to contemplate the day she had endured.

Alone, without a reason to put on a brave face anymore, Twilight curled up on the slab, the faint warming elements under the ribbed plating offering incredible comfort to the weary mare. The Inquisitor gave thanks for the considerable soundproofing present in the bulkheads around her as she began to sob, at first some pointless effort was made to resist, Twilight bit her lip and pressed her face into the warm slab under her.

The little mare found sleep eventually.

September 20th 2552.

When Twilight awoke she discarded the brown rags on the ground into a waste receptacle and proceeded to begin her preparations for the day. Food ration, cleaning herself, checking task force and fleet reports. Eventually the shockingly small list of chores where completed and Twilight left her room.

On one of the tables was a freshly fabricated white and purple uniform, her guards and pilot all snapped to attention as she entered the barrak before the pilot began to speak.

“I fabricated you a new uniform Inquisitor.”

“That is excellent thank you Major, please reserve a transport for this afternoon, we have a lot of work today.” Without wasting Twilights time with questions Major Dash quickly made her way out of the barrak with two of the griffons. Twilight took the opportunity to regard the new uniform, it felt heavy and odd in Twilights arcane grip, a quick examination was all it took to understand why, the material was purple with white colouring covering most of it.

The Major had somehow requisitioned a considerable amount of nanolaminate and had used it to fashion the uniform. Twilight was not an expert in material sciences but she was sure that using the material in such fine work was well beyond the capacity of any fabricator. A Huragok would likely be quite capable of working the material but would have had to be specifically instructed.

Putting the mystery aside for a moment Twilight simple put the uniform on and left with the rest of her guard, she had to check on the human stasis chambers and she was more than a little curious about Doctor Halsey’s daughter.

Twilight made her way though the ship noting the odd looks directed at her from the few crewmen she encountered on her way. The hanger itself was an odd buzz of activity, dozens of crewmen and ground forces where milling about whispering, Twilight even spied the distinctive gold armour of Savo in a crowd around one of the Human stasis chambers turning towards the group she began to trot.

“Inquisitor, we have made quite the catch.” Savo 'Sralcamee turned an odd look on his face. Looking past the shipmaster Twilight spotted the stasis chamber’s electronic display, S-L-058 was displayed proudly on the display as well as a lot of tightly packed medical information.

Then she saw what had drawn the attention here, most of the chambers had the transparent alloy on its face obscured by ice rendering the occupant hidden from view, but here someone had brushed away the ice. Her blood turned cold and her mouth suddenly felt very dry as the little Unicorn peered into the chamber.

And into the cold, reflective faceplate of a sleeping Demon.