Disclaimer: I forgot to do this when I posted it, silly me, and this is actually my second time with this mistake. So, I'll say this once for the story, and let you get back to it. If you recognize it, chances are that I don't own it. I own these particular variations of such things and this particular plot, but the originals themselves? Nothin'.
Back to the show!
"What is it Cortana?" He asked as he reloaded his DMR.
"I'm detecting an anomaly. It seems to be an old Earth beacon."
The Master Chief paused. "Earth? How is that possible?"
"I don't know. It's ancient, but it works. I'm putting a nav point on it."
A small blue diamond appeared on his Heads Up Display with a number next to it: 200m. Whatever it was, it was human technology and should not have the chance to fall into Covenant hands, so he went straight for it. He had to make a few small detours, but in the end he reached a structure that looked more like a tree than whatever it was. It had a lot of organic material, but it definitely wasn't all vegetation. On the edge of his motion tracker there were a lot of red dots. Enemy units. Too much Covenant to be anything small.
He opened fire upon them and killed them all with little effort and slammed in a fresh clip as he waltzed up to the opening. He pressed himself against the edge and peeked around the edge. All of the occupants, Elite, Jackal, and Grunt, were conferring. He didn't question the opportunity to lob a grenade and take them out, only regretting slightly that one survived as he put it out of it's misery.
He casually walked in, snagging a few plasma grenades. There were a number of turrets lining the hall as he made his way through.
"They're unusually well-armed for such an objective." Cortana remarked. "I mean, wouldn't they have already collected it and left? Why stay when you can just rip it out of the ground and bring it with you?"
The entire structure shifted violently for a few seconds and he got buried under a slight avalanche. When it was over, John remarked casually, "Cortana, stop talking."
Then he examined the particles from the avalanche. It had only lasted a second, but gave much food for thought. It was Covenant weaponry, through and through. And every single pistol, rifle, and shield was dead.
"What the hell is all this about?" She asked.
He stood, as he had no answers for her, then hesitated, then bent over.
"What are you doing?" She inquired curiously.
He shrugged as he put a shield, a pistol, and a rifle in pouches before continuing. He had no clue what he was doing or why, but this instinct he had had kept him alive and moving throughout the years, making things happen to him that only appear in dreams. Why question it now?
Then he came to a wall that opened itself as he passed it. It stayed open, instead of closing after he passed it, so he doubled back to it and went through it. Cortana thought about how odd it was that this structure, so penetrated by vegetation and ancient beyond belief, still contained enough power to direct them to their objective. And at the same time, she was apprehensive as to how it was directing them. If she'd had a physical body, she would shiver, and not for lack of heat.
At 50m away, a small, badly aimed explosion knocked him off his feet. It was a Hunter. He chucked his second frag grenade at it as he rolled away from its second blast, both of which blew harmlessly. He started shooting at it, catching it in the neck a few lucky times, before chucking a plasma grenade at it.
The grenade blew and the Hunter fell on its face, dead.
But human and AI did not relax. Hunters always hunt in pairs, never alone. He entered another door that magically opened itself up for him on his path towards the nav point. At 5m, he heard a loud click-clack sound, and jumped away from it.
It was the other Hunter, badly wounded, but still willing to fight to the last gooey orange drop.
It charged up the Fuel Rod Cannon welded to it's arm. He'd accidentally maneuvered himself into a spot that virtually guaranteed his death. Not like he'd get much choice on going out swinging or not.
Then all three were surprised when it just fizzled out.
All the bells and whistles available in his suit were going off at the same time, trying to rip apart his eardrums, but still clearly allowing the sounds of what sounded like Needler rounds exploding through to his brain. Then he felt his plasma grenades, all but one, pop like a cheap bubble pop effect, then watched the visible crystals in the Hunter's Fuel Rod Gun popping like Needler rounds or a cheap effect in an ancient Earth anime or cartoon. His shields were practically empty when a pneumatic *hiss* came to him, parts of a second before a large piece of metal flew faster than a MAC round through the room, crushing the Hunter like an overglorified bug.
He silently thanked whatever powers that had kept him alive and looked over at what had saved him. He dropped his DMR and Cortana was even speechless, if only for a half-minute (an eternity for an AI such as herself).
"It's a cryostasis chamber. Get close to it." She ordered, intent on scanning the large object.
He walked up to it, and life started to get a little weird. His HUD was completely disrupted, but it was almost like it was still there, in his mind. Like he was as interconnected to his suit at that moment as Cortana was. Ugh, that little burn will be nasty in the morning. How did he miss that? And how long ago did he last service his armor? There are so many things in here that should've been taken care of months ago!
Cortana was directing the suit's sensors at the beacon's location, which was on the cryo chamber. How could he tell that without her telling him?
"It's so ancient that it should've collapsed in on itself a century ago." He could hear her extremely clearly. Far more clearly than he should be able to. "It shouldn't have any power whatsoever, and yet, there's a power source in this thing that is still going, after who knows how long. In fact, it's getting stronger, like it wants attention. What am I talking about, it's an inanimate object. It doesn't have feelings."
Suddenly, it felt like something hit him, almost physically, but not. He stumbled back a bit and his HUD was back up. It felt like he was almost deaf, for some reason. But he could tell Cortana was getting mad. He backed off a bit more.
"What are you doing?" Her voice wasn't all that level, but seemingly calm at least.
"You're angry at an inanimate object." Sometimes, he has found that stating the obvious is a better idea than saying anything else or saying nothing.
And it seemed to work this time. She calmed down and gave him the order to come back for it after they had dealt with the current objective.
"Echo 418, comin' in for extraction of unknown technology." She reported to a dispatcher on the ship. Paperwork was so dumb in Parker's opinion, and she had developed a mindnumbing documentation system for these jobs to avoid as much paperwork as possible. Sure, you still had to file the flightplans, and a few descriptions, but her oral documentation covered everything else quite well for her.
She set down the Pelican to let out the marines and the Spartan riding with her to connect chains to the structure. There were places made for it all over the structure's body and the work went quick. Then they climbed aboard the Pelican to watch as the group of four Pelicans tried to pull it from the ground. They failed until a Longsword came to help. Then the bay doors on the Pelicans closed to keep in the atmosphere as they left the planet.
When they arrived back at the ship, they couldn't really get it past the hangar they landed it in. It was a lot bigger than the Longsword, and that thing barely fits in and out of the bay as it is.
In the end, they just converted the bay into a science bay, leaving in many of the Warthogs and Pelicans as well as the Longsword, but basically put up a giant tent around it.
The outside was obviously a bulkhead designed to survive a reentry, maybe even several in quick succession. The dirt surrounding the bottom was tightly packed and held by a root system that baffled a few people as to why it would do that, and the roots themselves contained traces of compounds and radiation that they couldn't replicate or even identify.
The tree had grown around the structure itself, even going so far as to incorporate it as a part of it's very being. Roots replaced wires effectively in places. There were random objects here and there, but at least most of the Covenant had been cleared out. There were a lot more bodies in there that had died of odd wounds or mysterious causes than anyone would've guessed.
And that cryostasis chamber? Well, nobody can figure that out.
A month after they had discovered the structure's outermost chambers, they tried entering an inner chamber and got blasted for their efforts. Two turrets had popped out of nowhere and blasted them, stunning them with a set of severe stabbing pains to the small intestines that took an hour to straighten out in the sick bay. That afternoon, Cortana was really moody. She kept snapping at people for random things, especially the small stuff. Eventually the captain came up to her and ignored her thinly veiled insult that served for the day's greeting. "Cortana, what's going on ?"
She considered getting really angry at him for a few seconds, then gave up and sighed. "I don't actually know. I've just been really absent-minded. Really."
"And do you know why?"
She struggled for a second, fidgeted, then mumbled out, "I don't know."
"Then tell me what's on your mind and I'll know for you." He said gently. He'd been known to be a good psychiatrist back on Earth, but no one had considered it was a big part of the reason why he was so good at being a leader. He used his talent for being a good psychiatrist (one of the best in fact) as a way to keep his soldiers sharp, capable, and ready to fight the enemy instead of each other. Not to mention sane.
She looked around a bit, like a person looking for a way out, then said, "It's the tech we acquired. Whenever we've done anything invasive, like trying to gain access to many of the rooms or to open the cryo chamber by force, it retaliates. Especially the cryo chamber. The only thing like that we've managed to do without an attack is remove the chamber and put it into cryo 2. And one other thing, sir."
"What is it?"
"The chamber itself, it doesn't have a power source."
"How is that possible? It has plenty of power to-"
"That's just it. The power isn't coming from any sort of pack or generator to keep the bioform alive. The power is being extracted from the bioform. It's barbaric. And the power levels, along with the power itself, just," She struggled for the right words for a moment, "Feels wrong. Like it's not supposed to exist."
He had a very worried look on his face, but Cortana never noticed.
"But no matter how hard I try, I can't bring myself to put out the order to destroy it, even if the only thing that might work is a nuclear blast or a slipspace rupture. It's like there's this need to protect it."
Then her attention was pulled back to reality as a beep interrupted her. "Sir, you're not gonna believe what I just found."
"There's this keypad at the bottom with an access number. I'd assumed the numbers were just random symbols because of how they were written backwards, but I'm putting them in now to see what happens." As Corporal PT Jock pushed the buttons 7-4-3-4-5, he prayed that it wasn't some sort of practical joke or authorization to self-destruct. It wouldn't be the first time he'd done something like this and blown up.
Well, it would be here in real life.
When compressed air blew out pneumatically he smiled. It hadn't blown up. He went to what could be assumed to be the front and watched in awe as it opened. He never heard Cortana yelling at him that the locator beacon (which was still running) had suddenly turned off and the energy levels were spiking to potentially dangerous levels, rather like a bomb going through the authorization process to blow.
And then it opened.
And then a fist materialized out of the mist millimeters from his face going fast enough.
He flew back, and was later unsure if he'd been out cold before or after he hit the wall.
Then the fist pulled back and a tall form stepped out. It moved too fast for Cortana to get a good look at it until it stopped minutes later, seconds before it just fell over as if dead. It was a human woman, with green flesh and black hair. Then life went on like it was on automatic, nothing getting through to Cortana's mind, until the green-skinned woman woke up again.
A/N: Please read and review. And if things don't make sense to you yet, that's because I haven't gotten far enough in the story to start explaining things. Don't worry about it for now.