Part II, Chapter Eleven

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19 September 2552 (Military Calendar).

L.C.S.F 'Bourbon', orbiting planet designate 'Delta-Phi'.

The Halycon-class cruiser travelled at a steady pace around the planet as Captain Theodore 'Ted' Cavill surveyed its many environments through the bridge's portside window. The Corporation had 'found' this place and set up shop just over six years previous. They flooded the place with scientists for whatever reason they wanted but there was no mistaking that something was down there making the spooks happy. And of course, they needed orbital security. Cavill was first on Mosley's payroll. So here he was now - tired, bored, and daydreaming of his younger years.

A motion from one of his bridge crew caught his attention.

"Sir. Slipspace signature, huge".

"On the screen please Lieutenant".

The large rift in space appeared beside him, and there was no mistaking the sleek, insect-like ships emerging from it.

"Oh shit, it's the bloody Covenant" Junior Lieutenant Sato swore loudly.

Seven Covenant ships - six cruisers and a capital ship - bubbled into normal space, not too far away from their position. One of the cruisers broke off instantly. The Bourbon's companion ships, the Shoot To Kill and Astral had already engaged. Hasty, but necessary. In Cavill's book, the only good Covvie was a dead one.

"Let's hope there'll be a lot of those" he muttered to himself darkly.

"They've launched their first salvo sir, orders?" Sato called to him uneasily.

"Bring us around, fire Archer missiles A through K!"

Eleven plumes of smoke left the ship and ventured out into the darkness of space. The Covvie ships had pinpoint lasers that could shoot most of the missiles down before impact. But some would still hit. It would be enough to take out their shields.

Streaks of plasma came towards the L.C.S.F battlegroup.

"First salvo, brace!"

The Astral veered clear of the shot. The Bourbon also came out unscathed, its hull barely blistered from the missed attack. The other counterpart, however, wasn't so lucky.

The light frigate Shoot To Kill burned up in a ball of fire that quickly dissipated in the vacuum. It received most of the plasma, which burned through its bow to stern in seconds. There was no lifeboats detected on the monitors.

Cavill saluted the brave men and women who gave their what? The Lykaon Corporation's interests? They weren't fighting for humanity's survival, they were just doing what they were told to do. They were mercs, hired assets and UNSC deserters. Just like he was.

And they died for a damn paycheck.

"Sir we have a clean shot at the cruiser! Our missiles broke their shields, they're vulnerable!" Sato called, pulling her short hair into a tight black ponytail.

"Fire the MAC!" Cavill responded, snapping to and gripping the edge of his personal console tightly. The Magnetic Accelerator Cannon was one weapon no warship could go without. It was essentially a giant coilgun that fired a massive metal projectile. It could split a Covenant ship clean in two if used right. And with a large shudder and whump the superheated slug streaked through space, joining the Astral's own shot.

"MAC round set to hit in twenty seconds" Sato told Cavill.

"They've returned fire, plasma, Astral is a little too close for comfort, sir" another bridge officer called from behind him.

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