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Into the Fire is a short story written by Kelly Gay. The novella originally appeared in Halo: Fractures - Extraordinary Tales from the Halo Canon, but was later added to Halo: Smoke and Shadow as a prologue.

Plot Edit

The story opens in the city of New Tyne on the colony Venezia in January 2557, where Rion Forge oversees a sale of salvaged weapons to a Sangheili customer. Drinking at a bar with the money earned a month earlier selling Forerunner tech, she considers the financial rewards for recovering and using a luminary to hunt down other relics while sitting with a fellow businesswoman, a T'vaoan salvage dealer named Nor Fel who she provided a stasis field generator to earlier that day. Having formed a close business relationship over the past few years since her mate's death, Nor Fel trusts Rion enough to go on a salvage mission to recover an object that would keep them wealthy for the rest of their lives.

Rion returns to her ship and prepares her crew for a new mission; this displeases Lessa and Kip, who were promised time off after a six week journey. Rion and Lessa head to Tiny Birds, a bar in New Tyne run by Rouse popular among alien customers. There, Rouse provides Rion with a single photograph of a ship, demanding 40,000cR for the location and 25% of the revenue. After some negotiation, they agree on 10,000cR and 15% on the grounds the aged appearance of the ship could mean it was already cleaned by salvagers. The two leave the bar and head onboard their ship, the Ace of Spades.

Onboard the crew conduct a meeting over their new job. Kip is the first to express concern, as he believes they will be recovering a UNSC ship, which salvaging is restricted due to the UNSC Salvage Directive. Niko assures him however that the directive is unenforceable due to the Post-War condition of both the UNSC and the UEG's control over the colonies in general, and the few Outer Colonies in particular. Rion, otherwise, sees no problem to be had with the UNSC, who are known to re-buy recovered materiel from New Tyne anyway, though she is unwilling to take WMDs to the depot and instead offers to report it to the Salvage Directive. With the crew in agreement over the mission, Rio confirms the ship is in the Ectanus 45 system, which the UEG lost in 2535 with the glassing of Chi Rho. A small post-war settlement exists on its moon, Eiro, with the ship crashed nearby.

The Ace of Spades arrives in the system and lands on Eiro, a frozen wasteland. The crew depart in heavy winter gear to begin their search on the moon's dark side. Finding the ship, Kip immediately identifies it as the wreckage of a Halcyon-class cruiser, a class he once had a model of as a child. Examining it closer, they find only a quarter of the ship (the foreward section) at the location, it having been cut in half in what Cade theorises to have been some kind of Covenant energy beam during the Battle of Chi Rho. Rion orders the crew to split up to search for anything salvage-worthy: she and Kip are to check the communications; navigation and weapons systems; Cade to one of the armories near the bridge, and Lessa and Niko to the medical bay and the cryo-chambers. The crew begin their search by walking through the sliced 'rear', which Rion ominously compares with a gateway to hell due to the collapsed decks near the cut.

Rion and Kip get close to the bridge after 45 minutes of walking; despite having a map of the ship the damage to the ship is extensive and many corridors unusable. Rion and Kip notice that in all that time they found no corpses of the crew, though are hopeful the ship was successfully evacuated. As her father disappeared with the missing UNSC Spirit of Fire twenty years earlier, Rion sees it as her duty to report everything they can to the families of the crew and its marine complement so they finally have closure. They get within meters of the bridge only to find that blast doors were lowered over that section. Kip notices the ship's name on one wall, identifying it as the UNSC Roman Blue. Rion alerts Niko over her radio to their discovery, who begins looking up records on the ship. Cade meanwhile reports in that the ship crashed with a profitable payload of body armor; thermite paste; jet packs, various rifles and small arms along with "heavy ordnance" which the crew by Rion's rules are to keep onboard and report to the UNSC. Lessa reports her search of the medical facilities as somewhat productive, though it is significantly damaged and she has yet to check the pharmacy for drugs to salvage. Niko meanwhile notes the ship had ejected some of its cryo pods before crashing, with the rest of the bay in a bad condition. He continues that there is no recent talk on the ChatterNet on the Roman Blue, and dubs it a ghost ship; Rion suspects this means the UNSC to be actively restricting communication on the ship and decides to leak information on its location and the cause of its destruction to the families when the UNSC compensates her for the discovery.

Rion sends Kip off to help Niko, and decides to continue her exploration of the ship alone, going to the Captain William Webb's quarters to find more information that could help the families of the ship's crew. There, Rion recovers a data chip, which she places in her commpad to provide her with personal logs. Rion reads an entry from March 2531, which she recognises as the date of her father's disappearance. In the log, Webb describes being fresh on board following Captain Hood's transfer to the UNSC Burlington while the Roman Blue undergoes a month of repairs following its unauthorised engagement with the Radiant Perception near Arcadia. Webb laments the loss of the Spirit of Fire, which he blamed on Hood's engagement allowing the Radiant Perception to recover a buoy it left detailing its course. As the log ends, the ship begins to shake. Cade reports that someone is firing at the ship. Rion orders the others to evacuate the ship and ignore her, despite being so far from the way out. Rather than go with them, she insists on searching the ship further for any data relating to the buoy.

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