Halo: Burners: Homecoming

2022.01.19 08:40 LittleSeraphim Halo: Burners: Homecoming

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Burners: Homecoming
“Countless star lights floating in endless darkness, They announce their existence, They proclaim their purpose, Countless star lights dissolve in the sky, Their voices and warmth, Spread into space, Like a silent wave. With the desire for peace in my hand, I reach for the Light of Life, I'm facing grief with confidence in my heart.”- Sawano Hiroyuki & Cyua, Sternengesang
Chapter 23
Sheila walked through the halls of the Albion, nostalgia slowly pushing away the misery of what she’d brought about. Her sister’s presence helped considerably as did Avery’s. She’d only known the woman for three months but they’d been through hell and her quick wit and keen mind had saved every member of the 343rd and Char on top of that.
Without really thinking about it, Sheila reached out through her implants, pulling up the Albion’s networks and skimming through the file of everyone present as well as every soldier who’d died. She noted a mass casualty event only a few days prior but before she could access it, she was stopped.
“You’re a bold AI, trying to pass as our newly arrived captain.” Serina, the AI that had appeared on the bridge stated calmly, creating a virtual room to speak.
“I am the newly arrived Captain.” Sheila replied, though her lips never moved and her gate never changed. “I’d say I forgot we had an AI onboard but I wanted to know how you’d react.”
“You’re still alive, AI are made from the dead. The process destroys the brain.” Serina crossed her arms, shifting in her simulated ODST armor. “Take me for example, died on Harvest, got redeployed to Harvest as an AI. Life’s funny like that.”
“ONI had the technology to make flash clones, if you cut out the clone and simply upload those files to a neural network,” Sheila mentally shrugged and tried not to smirk as realization dawned on the AI.
“Those bastards! They could give us all bodies again! Actually bring us back to life! You, we’re talking later, you’re one of us but not quite, I don’t know what you are but we, as in the Albions AI are going to get to know each other, sister.” Serina stated firmly and then unblocked the files so Sheila could read them.
‘Well it looks like I missed something important.’ Sheila thought as she read over the records that had been filed on the Spirit of Fire mission. ‘Looks like Mendicant Bias killed well over one hundred of our crew, I hope they were all ONI and not just humans with the mantle.’ Shelving the data, Sheila flicked her attention back over to real space, the entire perusal having taken only a second or two of time.
“Cap, you got an AI in that head of yours? Because my security systems just said the oddest things.” Avery stated quietly as the group neared the Spartan 3s.
“Later, promise and I don’t have an AI in my head I am, was? It’s complicated, later, promise.” Sheila gave Avery an apologetic smile which ended the questioning and they walked into the region of the ships that’d been given over to the kids.
The spartan 3 barracks both had and hadn’t changed since their first days on the Albion. The Spartans had personalized the space and most beds sported stuffed animals and colored sheets, however the room itself was still the same as was the fact that they all willing shared the same sleeping space. The Spartan 3s were one large family and after their first, disastrous battle, most had developed separation anxiety in addition to their ptsd.
Walking into the room, Sheila’s presence beside Char caused all the Spartan 3s present to still. Since they’d just left combat, all of them were in their armor even if none had been deployed. Most still had their helmets on making it nearly impossible to identify who was underneath it. One of the Spartans walked over towards Sheila slowly, nervousness radiating from her as she reached up and took her helmet off.
“Hey Lucy, been a year. Sorry about that.” Sheila apologized as the girl darted forward, their armor clanging together as Sheila was pulled into a tight hug. The woman could hear tiny gasps as the girl cried silently and Sheila gently returned the hug, slowly kneeling down so the girl could bury her face into the space between her neck and shoulder. It couldn’t be comfortable since Sheila was fully enclosed in armor but Lucy didn’t seem bothered as she tightly held on to the redhead.
The spartan 3s that weren’t busy helping Mason quickly congregated around Sheila, a few who’d taken to her reaching out to grab her armor, to feel that she was real. Most had, despite Avery’s word, believed the woman had died on Sargasso. They hadn’t expected her to return, least of all after a year of being absent. When Lucy finally released Sheila, leaving tear stains on the red plates of her armor, the girl was shivering but smiling despite the tears still running down her face.
“You got bigger,” Lucy signed, lips trembling as she smiled at Sheila.
“Yeah you did to. You’re thirteen, I missed your birthday. I’m sorry, I didn’t have a choice.” Sheila apologized and the sniffled and wiped away her tears while shaking her head.
“It’s fine, you came back. I though, we thought you were dead.” Lucy signed and Sheila glanced towards Avery who sighed.
“They’ve been through a lot. It’s not surprising they didn’t trust me when I said you’d come back to us.” Avery explained and Sheila gave her an understand nod before returning her eyes to Lucy.
“I’ve heard you’ve learned how to cook and I haven’t eaten in quite a while. Would you be up for that?” Sheila asked and Lucy nodded rapidly.
“Yes, leave it to me sister!” Lucy signed frantically, breaking out a massive smile and bouncing wit excitement.
“Sure thing,” Sheila returned the smile then slowly greeted the other spartans. Once she’d said her hellos, Sheila turned her gaze towards the ship’s newest additions. They’d rescued a handful of spartans from Reach and while most were from Alpha company, one was from Beta and they were currently sitting alone with their knees pressed loosely into their chest. Unlike most Spartan 3s, they were wearing Mjolnir in a dull gray that easily blended with the mountains and cities of Reach. Sheila slowly approached the teen who glanced up, helmet still firmly in place.
“Need anything?” Sheila asked quietly and the spartan shrugged.
“I was supposed to die,” the spartan said quietly, their voice just as androgynous as their armor. “Everyone else did.”
“Nobody is supposed to die,” Sheila replied softly, kneeling down and looking into the silvered visor that hid the kid’s face. “Would you like to eat dinner with us?”
“I…” Armored hands slowly reached up and lifted off the heavy Mark Vb helmet to reveal messy sweat slicked black hair and jade eyes. Despite being constantly cooped up in armor, the teen’s skin was a light tan and they clearly came from a mixed background, like most of humanity these days. Their face was attractive, handsome yet beautiful and with an expression that made the child look far older than 14 thanks to the crushing weight of what they’d seen.
“I don’t,” the child took in a breath and shook their head. “I don’t want to be alone.”
“Then you can stick with me,” Lucy signed quickly, having come over to eavesdrop after realizing that Sheila hadn’t followed her towards the kitchen. “You’re Beta company, that means you’re family so you won’t be alone anymore.”
“But, but I was removed?” The question caused Lucy to shake her head rapidly.
“But you’re back and you’re one of us.” Lucy explained, hands flicking between movements rapidly. “You’re family.”
“My family died, the Covenant killed them. The instructors said they’d keep killing families until they were gone.” Silence settled over the room and Avery felt rage sweep between the Spartan 3s.
“They kill all of our families.” Lucy signed before her hands balled into fists. The girl took several deep breaths to steady herself as she trembled under her armor. “They killed most of us but we’re still here and we are family and we’re stronger together.”
“I’ll join you for dinner, if you don’t think I’d get in the way.” They finally whispered and Lucy gave them a nod before cocking her head.
“What should we call you?” Lucy asked and they shrugged.
“B312? I forgot my name.” The reply drew eyes to Sheila who searched her mind and hit upon a name associated with that number but nothing else.
“Morgan, your name’s Morgan.” Sheila saw recognition dawn in the kids eyes and they nodded frantically before standing up without warning.
“Yeah, uh I don’t want to sit around. I, um I’ve never cooked before but can I follow you? I don’t want to be alone.” Morgan spoke rapidly, voice jittery from nerves and clearly wanting to be around others without being the center of attention.
“Let’s go,” Lucy signed and lead the slightly older child away by the hand.
“That one’s going to need a lot of attention.” Riza spoke quietly, appearing beside Sheila, Char and Avery without a sound. “You are to, Cap. It’s clear Halsey got into your head.”
“You don’t know the half of it, she raised me. Mendez, the same Mendez, Char, trained me. Deja to. I never escaped the program, it just came to me.” Sheila admitted and felt Char squeeze her fingers.
“Avery? Can we check her?” Char asked and Aver shrugged patting Sheila’s shoulder in a silent command to kneel. Sheila did so and after brushing aside the hair on the back of Sheila’s neck which had grown out over her year with Halsey. Avery gave Char a nod and removed her hand. “She’s real?”
“Yeah and sporting fresh implants.” Avery said calmly and Char let out a sigh of relief. “We’re still going to talk.”
“We need to, considering we’ve both been compromised along with every other Spartan 1.1 on the ship. Thing is I trust Catherine, even if I shouldn’t and I don’t trust an alien AI that’s admitted to omnicide.” Sheila crossed her arms and cocked an eyebrow as she watched Avery try to think up a counter point.
“Halsey’s insane, Mendicant simply wants to murder his creators. I can’t explain it but I could feel his intentions, physically. It was like his mind was too vast for his body, er, processors.” Avery explained and Sheila sighed and nodded in understanding.
“Super sapience, what a mess.” Sheila shook her head in frustration and sighed. “You’re lucky, had he tried to communicate with you and you weren’t as tough as you are…”
“I know, still ended up bleeding everywhere. He killed all the ONI plants aboard the Albion though, which was helpful.” Avery replied and Sheila nodded in agreement.
“That it is but we’ll be getting more when we return to Earth no doubt. Not that we’ll be there long, the battle has already started. The Covenant just lost a massive chunk of their fleet and I doubt even they have vast reserves of fresh troops this late into the war. Still they certainly have the numbers to launch an immediate attack, pyrrhic victory or not.” Sheila could feel memories from her time with Hasley bubbling to the surface and realized they were coming from her implants. “Give me a moment.”
“You alright?” Avery asked as Sheila closed her eyes and eased up the mental tension that was causing her to nervously pull combat reports.
“Halsey integrated my brain with an AI, it means I think fast. All this talking has me jittery. It’s hard, slowing myself down to speak. She called it the next step of human evolution, genetic engineering, mechanical augmentation and mind machine interfacing. A being more resilient than any AI and more intelligent then any organic. Problem is I’m the first with all the headaches that comes with, generation zero. This was what Spartans were supposed to be but ONI wasn’t interested.” Sheila explained and felt a wave of hatred roll off Avery.
“Makes sense, they wanted specialized warriors not improved humans.” Avery sniffed as her nose threatened to bleed again and she forcibly relaxed herself. “Sorry, ever since the Lesser Ark I’ve been having issues. Mendicant Bias did something to me.”
“I’d offer to take you to mom but you don’t trust her.” Sheila replied and Avery turned on her, lips pulled back into a snarl.
“You said it yourself, she’s not your mom. She’s a monster, she toyed with your lives! She’s kidnapped children! This, all of this is her fault!” Avery waved at the Spartan 3s and grit her teeth which were on full display. “Get your head on straight Sheila, she’s not trustworthy!”
“You’re right but its hard. The woman who taught me how to fight, who tutored me, helped me fight ONI, who I thought of as a second mother was Halsey. She didn’t even need to fuck with my head, just make me realize who she was. ONI field makeup is very good, I’d never have realized if she didn’t show me.” Sheila looked into Avery’s eyes, hoping the other woman would drop it. Char put a comforting hand on Sheila’s shoulder, silently understanding even if she didn’t know. Halsey was a master of manipulation and someone raised by her had no real hope of escaping her hold.
“She helped you fight ONI? She is practically the physical embodiment of ONI.” Avery’s voice had lost its edge, curiosity slowly winning out over anger.
“She was training me to kill the Vice Admiral and get away with it. She hates ONI, they took her as a child just like the Spartans and her fate, well, it would have been worse in some ways. She made sure I could understand.” Sheila’s hands balled into fists as memories of three separate and very different lives flickered through her head. “She made sure I could understand her, understand Char and know just how much of a threat the Forerunners are. They need to go.” For a brief moment Avery felt the truth of those words slam into her and staggered backwards. It was weaker than Mendicant, weaker than the predatory blood lust she’d felt on Sargasso but she felt Sheila’s will all the same.
“You’re not lying.” Avery knew her eyes were wide with shock. “Halsey’s, not good but, on our side?”
“Mom would say we’re on her side,” Char offered casually and Avery snorted and shook her head.
“You were right Sheila, we’ll talk later. I’m fucking done. Lucy’s got dinner nearly ready, let’s go help her finish up.” Avery threw her hands up, shoving her thoughts away for later and lead the twins towards a warm, noisy dinner.
Author's notes:
If you listened to the song, sure you've heard of Engrish, but have you heard of Gerpanese? It's still a beautiful song but that's not how you speak german...
Anyways, Sheila's back! And she's with everyone! And everyone's starting to realize that maybe she's not the same woman that was taken from them. Or maybe she is and they just didn't know her very well. Only time will tell if they can sort things out and in the meantime ONI still wants them all dead and the Covenant aren't getting any nicer. Fun times all around.
Oh and Noble 6 lives! I decided to leave their gender as androgynous since it was player choice in the games and honestly it doesn't really matter. None of the spartan pups are going anywhere near battle if Sheila, Avery, Char or Riza have anything to say about it. Also Lars is still alive, if anyone's wondering. Dude's just quiet. He's really the odd one out, not a spartan back up or an Orion, just Lars and happy to somehow be a part of this.
Ghost: If Reach is under attack, then Earth is next. I do have to wonder if this facility will make it out unscathed. How many of you can be combat ready when your pod opens?
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2022.01.19 08:40 niuz-bot Coronavirus/ GCS: 1.139 de amenzi, aplicate în ultimele 24 de ore - [Justitie]

Poliţiştii şi jandarmii au aplicat, în ultimele 24 de ore, 1.139 de sancţiuni contravenţionale, în valoare totală de 233.070 lei, ca urmare a încălcării prevederilor Legii 55/2020 privind unele măsuri pentru prevenirea şi combaterea efectelor pandemiei de COVID-19, a informat,...
Citeste in continuare: https://www.agerpres.ro/justitie/2022/01/19/coronavirus-gcs-1-139-de-amenzi-aplicate-in-ultimele-24-de-ore--849944
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2022.01.19 08:40 PotentialZzz Is counting each day productive?

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