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Halo: Smoke and Shadow is a novel written by Kelly Gay. It was released on November 28, 2016. The beginning part of Smoke and Shadow's was the short story Into the Fire in Halo: Fractures - Extraordinary Tales from the Halo Canon.
- “Find. Claim. Profit. In a post-war galaxy littered with scrap, it’s the salvager’s motto. And with a fast ship and a lust for adventure, Rion Forge has certainly made her mark on the trade. When the discovery of a wrecked UNSC cruiser brings Rion’s past back to haunt her, stirring fresh hope into a decades-old wound, she’s hell-bent on finding answers: What really happened to her father and his ship, the Spirit of Fire? This digital-first enovella also contains the complete text of Kelly Gay's short story “Into the Fire,” originally featured in the collection Halo: Fractures.”— Official summary
Part One: Into the FireEdit
- Main article: Into the Fire (short story)
Part Two: Luck by a LadyEdit
The crashed UNSC Roman Blue is being bombarded from a ship orbiting Eiro. Rion Forge's equipment picks up the increasing heat on the hull, indicating plasma is being used. Deep within the wreckage, Rion knows her chances of survival are slim as the hull begins to melt. The floors and walls begin to twist and turn as the ship collapses in on its starboard side. Rion, her suit suffering damage, jumps out of an opening and onto the moon's surface. Her suit is so hot from plasma exposure it sublimes the snowy surface she lands on and covers her in steam. Rion takes cover behind a rock as the heat front from the plasma weapons spreads to the surrounding area. She passes out from the heat.
Rion wakes up later to find the Roman Blue totally destroyed, but with Eiro and the Ace of Spades intact with no sign the attacking ship even sent a landing party to clear out the people on the planet. Rion briefly considers the perpetrators to have been salvagers, as the profession was notorious for its deadly rivalries during the Human-Covenant War. However, with the war over there has been no need for violent competition over the spoils of war, and Rion points out to herself the absurdity in destroying potential prizes to steal. Rion concludes therefore that the Office of Naval Intelligence was responsible for the attack.
When the Ace of Spades arrives at Rion's position, she orders Niko to find a nearby communications satellite and find information on the ship that attacked the Roman Blue. Rion then leaves to take a shower. There, she starts thinking of her first job as a crewman on the cargo ship Hakon. There the aging condition of the senior staff led to growing disorder among the crew, with Rion killing a newer crew member, Sorely, six years into her service. Gaining full respect from the crew and the staff, she received training in how to run the ship, finally doing so when the two senior officers died. When Rion returns to duty, Niko gives her an update: the nearest comm satellite is orbiting Chi Rho, and the attacking ship is virtually undetectable when not in combat. Rion and Cade discuss the likeliness of ONI just happening on the ship at the same time as them. It doesn't fit, and they suspect they have been tracked ever since leaving Venezia. Moving to the issue of their exploration of the ship itself, Rion reveals to the crew having found information on the missing UNSC Spirit of Fire - that the Covenant ship Radiant Perception picked up a navigation buoy dropped by it to alert the UNSC of its intended course. Their salvage mission is thus changed to finding the Radiant Perception's wreckage and the buoy.
As the Ace of Spades takes a slow course to the satellite over Chi Rho, Rion asks Kip for standard schematics for the CPV-class heavy destroyer. To make sure the mission is profitable and not just a personal quest, she plans on recovering its luminary. Kip has never heard of one, which he learns is due to a lasting taboo among ex-Covenant in discussing luminaries with the spiritually unclean. The entire crew is ecstatic at the prospect of being the only salvagers with the ability to detect Forerunner technology, and Rion serves out a rare bottle of Alt Burgundy to celebrate. While the others are away, Rion confides in Cade that they probably won't find the buoy, though the UNSC certainly would not have had time to recover it back from the Covenant. One of the Ace crew members, unknown at the time, sends a coded Hahn in regards to the recent discovery of the Roman Blue, revealing himself to be an ONI agent known only as "67159-021127". He suspects Hahn of being behind the glassing and informs him that Rion is aware of Radiant Perception's recovery of the buoy at the Battle of Arcadia.
Rion sends a message to Nor Fel via the comm satellite asking about Covenant destroyers. Fal is hesitant to get involved as the Covenant remnants and pirates are more than willing to take out anyone who could recover a wreckage before them. Rion demands for money; having paid Nor for the location of the Roman Blue and lost equipment in the attack as well as the wreckage, she finds it a worthless sale. Aware of the Kig-Yar race's obsession with collecting things, she knows the threat of refund would make Nor more approachable. Rion quickly relaxes her demand and instead asks for the Covenant Navy's logistical records on the Radiant Perception, particularly relating to its current fate. Rion is more sure of success this time, as its active career so early into the war would show a decent record.
Kip; Lessa and Niko continue their search through comms logs and UNSC archives for references to the Radiant Perception. Cade meanwhile messages old service pals looking for anyone who remembers the name in passing. Kip is annoyed at his lack of findings. As the ship was part of the first wave at the war's beginning, its movements would have been especially noteworthy. However, he has found significant gaps in the logistical accounts. Rion reminds him that glassed colonies don't have good records. Rion gets a transmission from Nor, which she has directed to her quarters. Nor finally has information on the ship. Based on her findings, it crashed on the planet Laconia in February 2531 shortly after the engagement with the Roman Blue, which Rion concludes as them having had no time to transport the buoy to another ship. The Covenant refused to salvage the ship when they found the Mgalekgolo had murdered the survivors and multiplied exponentionally. Now Nor's service to Rion is complete, she gives her the bad news: another salvage crew has disappeared. This time it is Ram Chavla's after transporting Forerunner technology over the glassed Mesa. Nor suspects various crews over the past year have been killed on the orders of Gek 'Lhar, a Sangheili commander and salvager from Hesduros loyal to Jul 'Mdama. As a crashed Covenant ship, the Radiant Perception is the kind of artefact he would be looking to salvage.
Part Three: Double DownEdit
The Ace of Spades approaches the Procyon system. Arcadia, Rion notes, is more plasma scorched than other worlds due to the Covenant being needlessly excessive in the glassing process of this planet-sized vacation resort. The nearby planet Laconia meanwhile is observed as a cold, volcanic world that was completely ignored due to its lack of human habitation. The crew observe Laconia more closely to find the wreckage of the Radiant Perception. Finding the Radiant Perception, they observe that its power core is still operational and providing auxiliary power. They spot that a well-armed Covenant freighter is also on the planet. Life signs are detected on the planet, which Rion reads as proof Gek 'Lhar is on the planet.
The crew get ready to land on the planet and walk the projected three kilometers to the wreckage. Niko announces the completion of a buoy detector he calls "Diane", which will identify any object broadcasting on any radio frequency. Rion notes that one of the life readings has not been identified, and assumes it to be the Lekgolo colony Nor warned her about. Though they could wait for the creature and the Sangheili team to destroy one another, she and Cade agree that that the Sangheili could call for reinforcements and they must see themselves on a time limit. However, Cade ruins Rion's plan to recover the buoy from the bridge undetected by revealing the assumed four meter tall Mgalekgolo's life signs are coming from that very area, and that it is highly likely there is a second one evading detection. Needing a new plan, Rion suggests using a set of retired Sangeili active camouflage devices they received from a group of Zealots six months prior before a trip to Sharps III.
Cade and Rion walk along Laconia's volcanic surface. As they approach the Radiant Perception, it becomes clear it was downed by a MAC round to the midsection, towards the bow. They enter the ship through the hole, quickly finding the corridors filled with corpses. Past the landing bay, they find the two Mgalekgolo, with one judged to be dead and the other dying and unmoving. Leaving Cade to observe the living Mgalekgolo, Rion checks out the equipment in storage at the bridge. When she stumbles onto the buoy, the creature wakes up and stomps its legs, challenging her. Cade shoots it from behind, triggering it to prepare to charge at him instead. He is frozen with terror at the sight of the creaure coming at him and is s knocked down. The creature quickly dies after Rion shoots it, too old and weak to continue. She suspects the death of its bond had had a serious psychological affect and it wanted to die.
As Cade and Rion get ready to leave the ship, they detect the approach of the Sangheili team, who they theorise also learned of the Mgalekgolo's death. Cade is bleeding after his fight with the Mgalekgolo and has a argument with Rion over his competency. Rion insists he is perfectly fine, but Cade is ashamed that he was so scared of a Mgalekgolo near its death and not those in their prime he encountered during the war. The two return to the Ace of Spades without incident, though Rion is left wondering just why the Sangheili didn't go after them.
As the crew celebrate their recovery of the buoy, Kip alerts to the approach of a human lifeform. Rion identifies the figure on sight as Ram Chalva. Moving her sights to the Covenant freighter, she spots a large Sangheili directing the others in firing at Ram. Rion quickly deduces that he is their prisoner and they are using him as target practice, sending him running to the only other humans on the planet to get their attention.
The Ace of Spades takes off from the suface and flies towards Ram in the hopes of giving him a fighting chance. It touches down again briefly to allow him to get aboard. Rather than escape, however, Rion orders the ship's weapons be activated and aimed at the Covenant freighter. Unwilling to fire a missile in case the Radiant Perception it hit by debris, Rion opts for the autocannon. At this moment, the Covenant freighter captain works out their plan and orders three dropships to launch. Beaten, Rion orders their departure.
ONI agent 67159-021127, now revealed to be Kip, makes another transmission from the Ace of Spades to Hahn. He thinks about the recent bioterrorist attack on Sedra where his family was killed including his partner Talia, who was six months pregnant when killed. Hahn approached him, then known as Silas Kipley, then a drunken wreck and offered him a chance to use his engineering genius to help humankind recover from the terbulent post-war environment. Agreeing to Hahn's offer, he was to be given a job on a salvage ship, where he would keep ONI up to date on their recovery of dangerous equipment to make sure it stays out of the hands of terrorists. It was then his name was changed to Kip Silas. Kip understands none of the crew has terrorist sympathies, but also knows that Rion is too good at her job and that a very profitable haul inevitably means more weapons flooding the market.
Rion checks up on Chalva, who is being heavily medicated to treat the deep cuts all over his body and the tissue damage from plasma exposure. He is placed in a cryotube to keep the pain away as they head back to Valenzia.
Niko meanwhile tinkers with the buoy. Over the course of the night he writes various decryption codes in an attempt to hack into the buoy, but is constantly denied access to a message recorded by the UNSC Spirit of Fire's AI, Serina. He is almost asleep when the final process works. He fetches Rion to examine the message:
- “Professor Anders captured.
Obtained lock on her signal.
Covenant ship leaving Arcadia, preparing slipspace jump.
Intercepted communication... Hard coordinates obtained.
Spinning up FTL drives.
Intend to follow.
The coordinates surprise Rion greatly. The Spirit of Fire's role in the Battle of Arcadia was little understood, let alone what happened after. The coordinates indicated it successfully left the system into uncharted space, explaining easily why no wreckage was recovered. Rion's happiness is cut short however when Lessa notifies her that the Covenant freighter is on approach.
Part Four: Snake EyesEdit