Return to Standard IV
August 16, 2555 1102 hour
Off the Oregon coast
45.63325 N 124.71130 W
SpecOps Major Ryau 'Cinotee [ACTIVE]
The past few days consisted of exploring the fairly undamaged waterfront, avoiding angry humans and eating at the few restaurants that allowed Sangheili. However, today Ryau and Naki left Asau, Endesa and Shan at the hotel and went out to the wreck of the Mercy and Betrayal with approval from Colonel Hartford. Ryau popped the seal on the armor cases and set the lids apart. Naki took her armor out and started to suit up, Ryau did the same.
"Well, now's a good time to test out the re-breather," Naki said.
"What, you haven't tested this gear yet?" Ryau stopped right before he clicked the re-breather into place.
"Oh, it's perfectly safe, lab tested up to five thousand 'meters'. But we're field testing it remember?"
"Alright, alright." Ryau clicked it in, put his hands up defensively, and chuckled.
"Well then, let's go." Naki jumped into the water and Ryau followed promptly. They sank down to the sea floor and the armor held together. "Okay, let's get to the exposed decks," Naki radioed. They walked across the sea floor toward the rear half of the front and arrived at the jumbled mess that was a lower deck. Naki and Ryau activated their low-light vision and a bunch of fish swam out of a doorway. The emergency chemical lighting still burned dully and illuminated the floor above them. "Hmm, I think my room was up this way." Naki said heading for a doorway.
They pried a set of sealed emergency doors at a junction and Ryau checked other side. "Hey, Naki. There's still pressure on the other side of the door."
"What? Wow, try and shut the door we came through." Naki said. Ryau pried the doors back into place and created the best seal he could. Naki entered a pass code and the undamaged door slowly opened. The water in the emergency junction rushed out into the corridor beyond carrying Ryau and Naki with it.
Ryau hasty stood back up and checked the air quality with his data-pad. "Air's dead. Its all CO2, if anyone survived the crash they suffocated."
"I guess we're not taking these off then, we have four hours of air." Naki tapped her re-breather. "Follow me, my room is just up this way." They continued through the upside down corridor in two feet of water, there were leaks all over and the ship creaked from the external water pressure. They under a grav lift hatch that was still operating and it opened, a water-swollen body fell out and splashed right beside Naki. She jumped, yelped and grabbed onto Ryau. "Gods that scared me," she said releasing Ryau.
"Poor kid, must have been coming up the lift when the power cut out and the ship crashed." Ryau said looking over the body. He found an ID card in the Minors Data pad. "This was Minor Usea 'Maramasee, first deployment. Well Usea I hope your end was quick." Ryau patted the armor and picked up his helmet. "Hmm, standard issue from the Harvest campaign, I'm guessing it was passed from father to son." He tucked Usea's helmet and a folded piece of laminate paper from the corpse into his bag to return to the Minor's family. Finally they came to Naki's room, but the door was jammed and off its rails. Ryau sighed and activated his wrist blade. He cut a rough rectangle in the door plate and kicked at it tell it fell away. "Okay, get what you need and lets get out of this ship." Ryau said stepping into the room.
A blinking light under the water alerted Ryau to a corner. He sloshed over there and picked up the flashing light. It was the holographic picture of Naki and him at a bar after he had successfully completed the rank up training. Ryau chuckled, "Ha! Naki look at this," he tossed her the picture emitter.
"Wow, I had forgotten about this photo." Naki looked back to Ryau. "That was a fun evening wasn't it?"
"Yes it was." He paused as listening to something, "we must get going. This portion of the ship seems unstable." As if right on cue, the hull creaked and something snapped somewhere. "Did you hear that?"
"Yes Ryau I hear it, but I need to grab my data storage device under my desk... Which is attached to the ceiling now in the next room."
"Fine, fine where is it?" Ryau walked into a back room and spied the desk bolted to the roof. "Never mind, I see it." He jumped up and grabbed onto the desk then he pulled himself up and released the storage unit from the main system. After dropping down back into the water, he handed Naki the storage unit. "Here you go, now can we leave?"
"Of Course." Naki put the data core into her waterproof bag and headed back into the hall once again. They waded through the now waist high water to the door and shut the pressure doors behind them. The room filled with water and Ryau pried the damaged doors apart.
They rose at a controlled decent to avoid causing air bubbles in their bloodstream and broke the surface minutes after leaving the ships debris field. Ryau hopped onto the floating dock beside the ONI research rig and helped Naki up beside him.
"Yup, gear works just fine," Ryau chuckled after removing the re-breather. Then he suddenly removed his armor and stripped down to his underclothes. Naki stared at him with a look of confusion and he jumped back into the Pacific. He resurfaced a moment later. "Damn! I forgot how cold this was." Ryau swam around the dock a bit before getting out again.
"How'd it feel?" Naki said with a laugh.
"Cold, but it felt cold to be home again. Well as close to home as we can get."
"What has it been thirty years since we last saw Seattle?" Naki quietly said looking at her hands.
"Something like that, but that's the past now, we've found a future that we're actually good at. Who'd a thought, I'd be a soldier and you'd be a scientist. Sure, we were sort of thrust into them but we've made it this far."
"True, true." Naki smiled. "We have our future together."
There was a buzz of vibration from Ryau's armor case. He picked up his data-pad and checked the message that had just been left. It was from Colonel Hartford, "Major, ONI sent another prowler to Standard last week, and the only response we received was a quick burst of information. That's usually trigged when the craft has been extensively damaged or destroyed. My higher ups fear the worst, and they've bumped your mission up to today. The Venice refit fell behind so they're sending you on the Tahoma, it's a new ship that just came out of the factory a month ago but its all set up and ready. The Venice's crew has already been transferred and a Pelican's waiting on the pad, get here as quick as you can." Ryau stuck the data-pad in his pocket and started to quickly pack his armor back into its case.
"Ryau, what's wrong?" Naki asked taking the clue and packing up as well.
"They've bumped our mission up to today, we got to go." Ryau shut the lid on the armor and waved for the Pelican on the Rig's pad to start up. The Pelican's engines whined as it lifted off the pad moments later and headed back for Seattle. An hour later, the Pelican landed on the old Colman Dock at the Ferry Terminal. Shan, Endesa and Asau met them there and loaded up their own armor cases and supplies.
"What's this about a ship disappearing?" Auva asked.
"ONI says a prowler sent a data packed usually sent before the damage is to heavy." Ryau answered.
"Oh... Well that's not good," Endesa chimed in.
"No, no it is not."
The Pelican flew over SeaTac and right into the starboard hangar of the UNSC Tahoma as the ship itself was lifting off. Colonel Hartford met them as the Pelican's hatch opened. "Sorry about the quick pick up. Follow me, I'll take you to your squad lounge and introduce you to the other members of your team."
They loaded their gear onto a cart and pushed it through the halls. "Other members? I wasn't told that this was a joint team as well," Ryau asked concerned.
"They volunteered for the position of working with members of the Sangheili. So I don't think you need to worry about how they'd treat you as a commanding officer." Hartford said keying a door. It opened into a spacious room with some benches, sort of, like a cafeteria and armory mixed. Three humans sat around a table.
The one wearing ODST armor saw Hartford and Ryau; he stood up and saluted, "Major, Colonel." The other two quickly did the same.
"At ease. Major, this is Staff Sergeant Foss, he said he owed you a favor," Hartford raised an eyebrow.
"Major Cinotee pulled me from the wreckage of a Longsword on the Ark, sir." Foss said.
"Ah, I see. This is Corporal Cannon; she's on loan from the Forerunner dig sites that you no doubt came across in the battle of Reach. And lastly Corporal Dosh, and is a very good sniper."
"Very well. Alright, this is Minor Endesa 'Nelum, Minor Asau 'Asaos and Shan 'Vekatam. They've been trained in basic Special Operations. This," He motioned to Naki. "Is SpecOps Science Major Naki 'Cimutee, she is one of the few surviving holders of that rank and is an expert at Forerunner tech."
"Glad to meet you all," Foss said nodding and sitting back into his seat.
A Technician entered the room and glanced at Ryau and his fellow Sangheili. "Once we jump into slipspace, everyone is going into Cryo until the ship drops out. Standard procedure for all non essential personnel, so if you all will follow me." He turned and went back out the door. Ryau glanced around at the group still in the room and then followed the Technician. The others followed swiftly down the hall.
The Cryo Bay was on the lower levels of the ship; down a lift and through some corridors they came to the large hangar like room. Ryau looked over the Cryo pods, they had a new design to them and were more vertical to take up even less space. "Okay, are you sure the pods are calibrated to our physiology?" Naki asked the Technician.
"We've spent much time working with other Sangheili on proper calibrations, almost all pods in the human fleet have the proper protocols in place to gave Sangheili sufficient nutritional supplement." He turned and motioned to a room labeled Bio-Lab. "I'm sorry to have to place you in there but it is the only place where you will receive as much privacy as possible, as you need to strip down to avoid injury."
"Uh, very well," Naki said while walking though the doors. The others followed and left the Technician and Colonel Hartford in the main cryo bay. Ryau and Shan placed the armor cases on the tables and secured the rest of their gear. They stripped down and got into the cryo pods. Naki pressed the activate button and hopped into her own pod.
"Well here we go," Ryau's pod shut and sealed.
September 2, 2555 0432 hour
UNSC Tahoma Cryogenics bay B, Bio-Lab
SpecOps Major Ryau 'Cinotee [ACTIVE]
Ryau slowly came to as the emergency wake-up drugs took effect. He was lying on his back when the pod's door opened. Out side, his pod lights flicked and sparks flashed across the room. He swallowed the nutritional supplement and muttered, "What the hell...?" He sat up and grabbed his body suit he had placed in the receptacle on his pod. After suiting up, he climbed out of the pod. Above him, Endesa's pod hissed open.
"Wha-ahhhhh!" She vomited up the nutritional supplement while she fell and screamed. Ryau moved under her and caught her before she landed on Naki's pod. She coughed up anything that was left took some deep breaths. He set her down on his pod's gel layer and looked to Naki's pod. The words Emergency De-Frost flashed on the small keypad. Moments later her cover opened and she sat up.
"What happened?" She asked looking about the sideways room.
"Absolutely no idea." Ryau replied. He moved under Asau's pod as it opened and he caught her. Gulping down the nutritional supplement, Asau thanked Ryau for catching her. On the other side of Naki's pod, Shan's opened. "Everyone find your armor and suit up. I pretty sure that this wasn't supposed to happen." The ripped open the lids to the armor cases and suited up in the advanced armor. Endesa dropped her re-breather and it bounced across the floor and fell through the open doorway.
"Damn I'm not getting that back am I," she said looking to the door.
Ryau climbed over his cryo pod and looked down the doorway. The main cryo bay was torn open. He could see soil where the opposite wall should be. "Holy hell no Endesa you're not."
"What? What do you see?" Naki asked.
"The entire opposite wall is gone, there's just dirt there now."
"Oh my "
"Oh my is right," He switched to his radio. "Anyone receiving? This is SpecOps Major Ryau Cinotee, please respond." All he got was static in return. After trying a few more times he finally gave up. "Well, time to leave."
Ryau inched down the near vertical floor down to the dirt. Steam and smoke rose out of the hole in the side, making the non-slip floor very moist and almost blinding them. The rest of the group followed and they reached a divider that acted well as a ledge. Stepping across that, the divider creaked and bent slightly. "Okay, easy, easy," Ryau said moving to a doorway. From the doorway, the general quarters alarm still sounded and the flashing red and yellow lights illuminated pieces of debris and walls. Once in the hallway and out of the onslaught of steam and smoke, Endesa coughed and quickly moved down the corridor to the nearest hangar bay following the signs painted on the floor.
A terrible smell filled the air as Ryau and Naki ducked under exposed supports and broken deck plates. Surprisingly the corridors were empty of bodies or equipment. It gave the impression that everyone had been expecting the crash and had abandoned ship in enough time or had made it to their action stations and there were bodies elsewhere. They came to a junction that had collapsed from the floor above, there was blood splattered around a beam that had pierced the wall but there was not a body in sight. Suddenly a harsh screech shot through the corridors over the ongoing alarm.
"No... It can't be," Naki whispered.
Ryau stared down the dark hallway it had come from "Oh shit..."