A Roman In Blue; Chapter 3 – A Halo Short Story
Above a Home
JULY 15TH, 2531
ARRIVING ON DESTINATION ECTANUS 45
Aiken stood on the bridge, waiting for the captain as he ran a few orders through his subordinates. He was first on the bridge as always, he loved this ship as any captain of a ship would, that is, if he was indeed a captain. So the Lieutenant made sure to have it running and purring like a kitten. He stood in front of the glass panel in the room, staring at the information it gave him.
“Turn twenty degrees starboard. I want this ship docking with Station Delta as soon as possible and standing at the ready for the remaining repairs.” Aiken spoke, his arms clasped across his chest as he stepped away from the panel and towards the window.
He looked out into the void black beyond for a few seconds before turning to MeHaffey and McConnel down in the pilot’s area beside him. “Be as gentle as you can with this bird,”
MeHaffey looked up at him with a smile. “Have we ever been rough with her, sir?” She retorted with a snort, getting her attention back to her controls.
Normally the Lt would say something back, to put her in line after her little joke, but these weren’t normal times. The Lt knew this, so he allowed her the levity of the joke as he gave a chuckle. The Captain came through the doors, making his way down the side of the small hall littered with consoles and people working at their posts.
He gave his good mornings and greetings to the crew and stopped right by a coffee machine where he would obtain his favourite morning drink and pour himself a cup from the small dispenser they had set up on the bridge for the sake of commodity and allowance to be right then and there for when duty calls.
“Captain has the con!” Aiken called out, looking at the man who quickly approached. “Good morning, sir,”
Aiken said his arms wrapping behind his back as he remained tidy in front of the Captain, Webb was also a very tidy man himself, worn, but the man still found a way to look like he was apt to regulations.
“Morning, Lt,” Webb said, a pause to drink his coffee as he stared out into the black. “Status?” Webb asked Aiken as he looked straight at the man beside him.
“All systems are nominal, sir, we’re running a course to Station Delta right now,”
Aiken said, as he looked out the window, the planet, which looked just like a twin of Earth, but a perfect Earth. At least in his eyes, it laid there in front of them getting closer by the second.
“We’ve already been greeted by the Halberd-class UNSC Sprint in Flight’s captain, on wide FLEETCOM broadcast, sir.” Webb nodded, his arm behind his back as he stared at the incoming planet.
“Very good,” he said before turning around, looking at the man beside him taking a quick drink from his cup. “I want you to go with a small party to the surface, greet them in person and provide them with the cargo that we carry for them.”
To which Aiken stared at him for a few seconds, he thought it’d be Webb himself going down there, nevertheless, he nodded. “Yes, sir.” He turned his gaze away enough to see the planet, and it wasn’t long before they were docking with Station Delta.
Once docking procedures were done and the ship gave a light rock as it came to a halt and docked with the station, Aiken turned away and headed out of the bridge, straight for the hangar deck-7, on the way recruiting two Marines in basic olive drab cammies and brown kevlar ponchos over their battle fatigues, who followed the Lt immediately towards the hangar bays.
“No weapons, just standard issue handguns.” Private Chance and Akintola both acknowledged the order quickly as they came upon the hangar bays, to see an airman waiting straight outside their cab.
The marines would instantly strap themselves with a pair of M6 pistols from the nearest cache to the pelican, yellow jackets would still be loading the last few crates into the bird’s cargo bay and on their way out they would acknowledge their XO with subtle a ‘sir’ before they would head for their next task. The hangar deck was full of life, marines running PT on the sidelines being escorted by their first officers, technicians doing repairs, pelicans being having the care they deserve to offer the fidelity they always showed.
The D77-TC Pelican, purring like a kitten already just waiting as per captain’s orders. “Took your time, sir.” the pilot said with an incredibly thick german accent, it was the Second Lieutenant. Fredrick Müller, he was a pain in the ass, but he was the best.
“Have anything better to do, tonight, Fredrick?” He gestured the two marines inside, and he followed suit only to be followed by Fredrick shortly after. “No, sir,” he responded. “Then let’s get to it,”
Fredrick headed into the cockpit picking up his helmet on the way inside that rested on one of the many littered crates inside, hopping on and sitting down on his seat and began preparations for liftoff as Aiken and the marines sat down and strapped in. There were quite a few crates inside, Aiken counted 9 large crates all either labelled with ONI markings, UEG’s or UNSC, a simple cargo run.
“You ready?” Fredrick called from the cockpit peeking his head from the pilot’s seat to the cargo hold area and Aiken gave him the ok.
“We’re ready. Do your thing, airman,” Aiken said, albeit jokingly with the Second Lieutenant, he quickly responded with a short laugh and the cargo hold’s ramp began closing as one of the Privates punched the button beside him as he sat on the last seat row.
“Roger that, sir.”
As the ramp slowly began to close shut, there was a light hiss of air as the light was shut out of the pelican’s cargo hold area, leaving only the dim red lights inside it. The engine began to purr louder and louder as Aiken’s stomach twisted at the unnerving feeling of taking off. It threw him off every time as he felt his feet levitate from the ground, but in reality, he didn’t levitate, the vehicle did.
He felt the ship rock to the side as Fredrick began departing from the hangar bay, heading downstairs, once it was safe enough to stand, and he wouldn’t lose his footing and land face first on the thick, titanium plating, Aiken stood and headed directly for the cockpit, making sure to look out the cockpit to the planet below as he supported himself with the corners of the doorway.
“Enjoying the view, sir?”
Fredrick said as he shook in his chair, the atmosphere slowly starting to phase the aircraft as they cut through it like a bullet, fire engulfing outside the cockpit as it descended into the planet’s surface, fire that would die out after a few seconds and would allow Aiken to see the planet below in all its beauty.
Fredrick corrected their approach and vector towards the base. “Quite so,” Aiken said.
He turned away to approach the console beside the cockpit outside of it and began tapping on the screen, reading diagnostics of the ship, Fredrick was always impressive in his flying, the Pelican was barely suffering.
“Akintola, open the ramp.” He ordered the Marine as he turned to see him and gestured at the button beside him. Inside the cockpit, the second lieutenant would instantly sound off the COMs “This is Tango-Two-Three, Camp Guarnere, we’re approaching your vector in less than two mikes,”
“Yes sir,” Akintola replied as he reached the button once again and punched it, the ramp began to lower and the Aiken approached it as he stared out into the horizon as they flew past the ravines and mountains, holding himself with a support on the side of the Pelican.
The Pelican began to slow down, decreasing its thrust as it descended, arriving at their destination, and not long enough, they were touching down on one of the many landing pads in the base> There was a marine in full gear directing the descent with two green glow sticks in his hands directing them to their designated landing area, once the aircraft touched down, the man turned away, enough to let the air wisp by him as the engines lifted all the dirt from the ground
Aiken stepped down the ramp as the pelican began to power down, and an officer in pure black overalls approached him with three marines, the marines walking directly past him to gather up the crates that were brought straight from Reach. Aiken eyed the woman carefully while she approached him, his hand stretched out to shake her own.
“Lieutenant Commander. Richards Aiken, ma’am.” the woman in black grabbed the hand and shook it as she stared inside the pelican’s cargo hold to see the crates being lifted and carried out. “Careful!”
She called out to the men, as she then focused back on the man in front of him. “My apologies, Lieutenant, Captain. Maya Rey. Nice to meet you, Lieutenant,” she said as she stared directly into his eyes unwavering almost as if she was testing his resolve just with a look.
“Nice to meet you too, ma’am” The Lt nodded as he looked inside the pelican to see the last few crates being carried out, he then looked back at the officer before him.
“Captain Webb would be here himself, but he stayed to monitor the repairs that are left, ma’am.” She nodded and gave a smile to the man, Aiken thought it was incredibly forced, or fake, ONI always was very much a mix of those two things.
“I’m sure there’ll be enough time for us to greet, just focus on protecting this planet and its inhabitants, Lieutenant. It is a home, for research and for all of us.”
Aiken looked at her for a few seconds and proceeded to nod. A home. Certainly looked like it to him. “Will do, Captain.”
“Good, now come, we must discuss the safekeeping procedures,” she said turning around and started for the nearest building from the landing marking. Before doing so, he gestured to the Marines to stay put.
She began to head down towards a small headquarter to which Aiken followed, heading inside through an open doorway which inside would reside a holo table and a couple of officers and COM technicians at the ready listening to every transmission in and out to every active unit. Some of which were garbled, others even had gunfire which peaked the Lieutenant’s interest.
“We’ve been dealing with Innie uprising ever since a larger contingent of UNSC forces arrived here back in ‘28 replacing what little CMA presence there was. There was a small rebel contingent which has since grown, we’ve been running constant patrols in every city and town on this planet.” She gestured at the holo table, showing a map of the region.
“Outpost Two-One-Alpha, Cape Vernillo, Base Anders and us, we’re all green, they haven’t reached these sectors yet.” She pointed it out on the map, before swiping left and the map moved to the nearest region.
“Outposts Korengal, Riddick, Ancilla and Lasair City, these are hot zones,” she leant back from the table just enough to look at Aiken. “We need the reinforcements that your ship arrived with to help secure these zones.”
He rubbed his chin in thought, a frown visible in his features as he thought to himself that it wasn’t enough to fight an alien aggressor that hoped to kill us all, but we’d also have to fight our own. His train of thought was quickly interrupted by an agonising moan in pain of a man that was issuing artillery orders and was cut off, possibly by enemy fire.
“Well, seems you’re gonna be in good hands, ma’am.” He gave a nod. “We’ll protect this home from land and above.”
Pleased by this, the Captain nodded, “Let’s get to it, then, root out these rats.”