First things first, I wondered for the longest time if going after the Ascendant Justice again would make sense. They have ships this time around. The thing is, I needed the Justice if I was going to get the Engineers into this story. Because I need the Engineers, I wanted to do things with them that would set up other changes and story elements further down the line.
After talking it out with Crow, my Beta, I came to the conclusion that there was a way for it all to make sense. It all relied on Zek selling the idea of a home base, a mother ship. A big space for everyone to live and a decent spot to refuel and resupply as the Carrier in general is built for longer excursions into space. Meaning it has excess fuel for a whole fleet of sorts. So basically, the Ascendant Justice is now in a support role with the Corvettes acting as extra arms. It allows them to do more by giving them a command and control center. In general, it's just sound reasoning to steal a bigger ship, especially when you got others chasing you.
Of course, Zek had his own motive as you saw, he wanted a carrier for himself and used the UNSC to get it for him. It was beneficial to everyone in the end, but he still lied about his intentions and put people's lives at risk more or less for his own ends. I don't think we'd appreciate being told we're doing one thing and find out it's for another reason entirely. So yeah, Zek has had his first real spat with the UNSC. They are not happy and it has colored their perception of him, mainly it's confirmed the stereotype, that Kig-Yar are all sneaky, underhanded conniving crooks. And to be honest, Zek wouldn't argue with that statement too much. He'd probably just respond "You say that like it's a bad thing."
Another element of the fight was Cortana's battle with the AI. Now before anyone starts, remember, I know what a Covenant AI is. They don't make their own, they steal them and because they suck at caring for them they go insane. Need I remind you, this wasn't really my doing anyway, it's in the book, First Strike, which this story partially follows. More on that later. Point is, Covenant AI do exist, they're just not made by the Covenant. Sorry if this is abrupt, but I'm kinda tired of having to deal with this complaint whenever Covenant AI show up, like I just made the shit up myself. I didn't, it's canon, complain to the people who made Halo if you think it's a contradiction.
Anyway, I wanted to do a bit more in representing the cyberspace landscape Cortana finds her in. I felt it was a good way to speed up the battle and make more interesting. By cutting to her, we get past the boring parts and get to the meat of the fight. I didn't want this to play out the same damn way as other boarding actions I've written have. I've done so many, specifically each of them starting out a new story, that I really wanted to mix it up some more. Cortana and EDI in cyberspace fighting the Covenant AI was my way of doing so.
You noticed Cortana was rather cold in her execution of the AI. I borrowed some of that from First Strike, but it's mostly my own interpretation of how Cortana views other constructs. She doesn't have the same kinship with them EDI and Legion naturally possessed. She views them very black and white. Either they're her colleagues, or they're her enemies and she feels no shame in killing one. EDI is a bit more disturbed at the thought of killing another synthetic lifeform, as seen in a lot of her conversations and appearances in the games.Cortana has no such reservations, because, screw it, it's survival and they're in the way of that. I'm thinking that's the UNSC mentality, or maybe Halsey's. Yeah, definitely Halsey's.
I might as well address now then. I have still not played Halo 5. I have it. I have not played. Yes, I am well aware what happens in it. No, I do not particularly like the idea. Mainly because I feel like Halo did a really good job so far not giving into the cliche of robot apocalypse and AI just eventually going evil. It just feels wrong and nonsensical. I don't like. As a result, I'm probably not going to keep this story going into the narrative of Halo 5. I'll end the chronicles at Halo 4. Honestly, I feel like 4 was a natural end point anyway. But whatever, that's for another day.
As for First Strike, which again is partially what we're following, this where you'd going to see far more extreme departures. Suffice it to say, you will see the general beats of that story play out, but they will be different in context and meaning. Also, one element of the story's plot will be expanded upon, but I'll save that till later. Just know for now, you're probably not going to get the same story you read. I have an opportunity here to go my own way a little and I'm taking it.
Anyway, that's it for now. I forgo titled sections this time because there wasn't that much to say. This chapter is just one big fight scene more less. Not much to comment on there and I already talked about the tensions between the various groups. I can say, you'll see more Varvok's rivalry with Shepard soon enough.