Halo: The Cole Protocol
Tobias S. Buckell
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In the first, desperate days of the Human-Covenant War, the UNSC has enacted the Cole Protocol to safeguard Earth and its Inner Colonies from discovery by a merciless alien foe. Many are called upon to rid the universe of lingering navigation data that would reveal the location of Earth. Among them is Navy Lieutenant Jacob Keyes. Thrust back into action after being sidelined, Keyes is saddled with a top secret mission by ONI. One that will take him deep behind enemy lines, to a corner of the universe where nothing is as it seems.
Out beyond the Outer Colonies lies the planet Hesiod, a gas giant surrounded by a vast asteroid belt. As the Covenant continues to glass the human occupied planets near Hesiod, many of the survivors, helped by a stronghold of human Insurrectionists, are fleeing to the asteroid belt for refuge. They have transformed the tumbling satellites into a tenuous, yet ingenious, settlement known as the Rubble--and have come face-to-face with a Covenant settlement of Kig-Yar . . . yet somehow survived.
News of this unlikely treaty has spread to the warring sides. Luckily for the UNSC, this uneasy alliance is in the path of the Spartan Gray Team, a three-man renegade squad whose simple task is to wreak havoc from behind enemy lines in any way they see fit. But the Prophets have also sent their best---an ambitious and ruthless Elite, whose quest for nobility and rank is matched only by his brutality . . . and who will do anything to secure his Ascendancy and walk the Path.
past the fence using a tunnel they'd dug together a week before. There were caches of food and simple weapons in the forest, buried under trees. But they'd both stopped well clear of the edge of the forest. "What'd she tell you?" Jai asked. Adriana had tears streaming down her cheeks. "I can't tell you." "But you're not going to go, are you?" "No. I like this too much to go," she'd said, with that odd Adriana smile that Jai was now always comfortable seeing. "Me either." They'd both sat on
"Yes . . ." One of the black-uniformed men punched Keyes in the stomach. Faison stepped forward, but Keyes waved him back as he coughed. "Then I'm pleased to report I'm under no obligation to treat you as a citizen, Lieutenant Keyes." Esquival smiled. "The problem is, you have a position of power over your men. Such speeches, while admirable, are given from that position of power. Many possible citizens might feel compelled to go to jail who wouldn't otherwise." "It'll all end," Keyes said.
irresponsible to not have a backup plan." "I'll tell you what's irresponsible. Irresponsible is promising the Kig-Yar Slipspace engines, taking their payments of nifty little weapons and shipping them back to the colonies, but then pretending to warehouse those engines until you've got them all gathered up. When you never intended to hand them over." "Damn it, Bonifacio," Diego shouted, "the council voted to proceed with the Exodus Project. It's a backup plan. Once we have enough Slipspace
bridge, helping out where needed. "You have the mass driver primed to shoot their shields out, just in case this doesn't work?" he asked Juliana. "Yes, but at that point we have to assume that even the Jack-als won't believe that the attack on their ship was by escaped UNSC, if that comes into play." Keyes doubted they'd believe this was the work of a lone UNSC vessel anyway, but Juliana wanted a door out, in case they found no plans by the Jackals for the Rubble. Privately, Keyes felt the
out by all this. He and Jeffries hit it off pretty quickly." "Jeffries was the one who was killed?" "Yeah. Nice guy. Great pilot." Delgado stopped. "I'm sorry to hear about it. But I didn't kill him." The other pilot nodded. "I know. Come on. They're going to get Finlay patched up and calmed down. For all his testiness, you can trust him in the air, you understand? But we still should give him some space." Delgado nodded and followed the pilot away. The plan was to have the Midsummer Night