"Wake me... when you need me."
Those were the last words John 117 said to Cortana. She smiled softly as he laid back and was quickly taken by the cryo-chamber into sleep. Her smile had faded and she put her head down in wonder, now holding her arm. She was alone now, not even Chief there to talk to her. She had to find ways to keep going, to stay alive... to stay sane. Her time was coming soon, and she knew it... deterioration for AI's was supposed to be after 7 years... she had been commissioned 6 years ago.
Her time was running short.
She would persist regardless of this thought though, but not for herself. For him. As long as she was active, he would be awoken at any time. If she were to fall out soon, then he would most likely be lost in sub-space. Without her, the beacon would be lost. The remaining power of the ship that remained would fail. This as the thoughts, or processes in her manner, that kept her going. The question was... for how long?
The days went by slowly, if you could even call them days. Cortana kept count of the hours that had passed. It had been 4548 hours, 12 minutes and 24 seconds since there occupation of sub-space. Cortana was content at busying herself by looking through old files she had of the Forerunners. It was the easiest way to pass time. She looked at John from time to time, remembering their adventures together. Her second pass time. But her memories were not very helpful to her situation. Sometimes the memories would process even worse times, such as when she was under the control of Gravemind. Something that made her feel like rampancy was around the corner. She pushed aside all thought processes of this and went back to the Forerunner files.
What the AI had not noticed though, was that they had finally drifted out of sub-space. She had long forgotten to keep an eye out for this, for the days of being on the Forward unto Dawn took away what hopes she had for escaping sub-space. She had stopped her look over of files to cast a view outside, finally noticing that they were in deep space now. She looked on in disbelief, her forgotten hope now arising again. She put forth more energy into the signal of the beacon that had been laid out so long ago.
"I can't believe it... we might actually be saved!" She said aloud to herself. She knew that the beacon may still not be received for a few days, but this hope was much better than anything she had seen. She looked at John's pod and laid a hand on it.
"We're almost home, Chief. Just a little longer." She whispered out.
More than 72 hours passed since they arrived in deep space. still no sign of any rescue coming. Cortana waited patiently though, not letting any hope fade. Finally her sensors picked up something. She turned on internal systems and began to search for the signature. It was coming in at light speed, estimated to stop 20 kilometers away from the Forward unto Dawn. The AI set external cameras that had survived on the area of arrival.
A ship had finally come into view, but puzzeled the AI. It was not any cruiser she had seen before, but was definitely not of human origin. She searched through her archives at the speed of light to find matches, and found nothing. The ship was huge, but not quite the size of UNSC frigate. To Cortona, this ship was a complete mystery, but to those who knew the ship it was called... a Geth Dreadnaught.
To be continued in...