Rossbach's World (story)

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"As the first official piece of post-Halo 5 story, I wanted to focus on some of our secondary characters in the Halo Universe to see how Cortana's actions were affecting them. What happens when absolutely everything you knew about the world this morning has changed by the time you go to bed? How the hell does someone cope with that? Also, Osman and BB are two of my favorite extended lore characters, so I thought it would be great to spend some time with them to find out if anyone but Roland refused Cortana’s siren call and why.
By the way, I’ve been asked what happens after the last sentence, which does initially feel like a bit of a cliffhanger. But answering that question would spoil all the fun of discussing the events amongst yourselves.
— Brian Reed[1]

Rossbach's World is one of several short stories in Halo: Fractures: Extraordinary Tales from the Halo Canon. Written by Brian Reed, it follows Serin Osman, Black-Box and Terrence Hood during and after the events of Halo 5: Guardians in October 2558.[1]

Plot synopsis[edit]

On the morning of October 28, 2558, Admiral Serin Osman, waking from a nightmare of her childhood and life as a Spartan-II trainee on Reach, reads HIGHCOM briefings and listens to a pre-recorded message from Black-Box, telling her that he has secured himself with the rest of HighCom's AIs and that she should soon leave Bravo-6 with Admiral Terrence Hood. Following BB's instructions, Osman collects a briefcase addressed from one Commander Spartan Rossbach at the security station. As Cortana's message of galactic unity under the Created is heard throughout the complex, Osman and Lord Hood make their way to the top of the HIGHCOM tower, where Spartan-IV Orzel awaits them near a readily automated Prowler. Outside, a single Forerunner Guardian looms over the city of Sydney, and despite attacks from Broadswords and the UNSC Plateau, it remains undamaged and unleashes a powerful electromagnetic pulse wave. As Osman's Prowler takes off into orbit and jumps safely to slipstream space, the remaining ships are disabled and begin to fall from the sky, impacting the city below.

After a series of random slipspace jumps, their Prowler lands on an uncharted planet where Rossbach's cabin retreat is well prepped and stocked for their long stay. In the days that follow, Lord Hood launches slipspace reconnaissance probes to pick up any new UNSC frequencies, only to hear Created broadcasts coming from the Sol system and a distress message from the UNSC Sentry of El Morro. After a few days of ensuring there was no connection to the outside world, Osman opens the briefcase which houses nine chips containing the secured military AIs, including the newborn Sankar AI and Black-Box. Once activated through a datapad, BB explains to Osman that they are on Rossbach's World, a newly-discovered planet named after a shell personality of his and whose existence has been kept hidden away from any database. Black-Box reveals that although he believes Cortana's logic is sound, he does not agree with how she executed her plans for peace. Feeling it was only fair to save Osman, Hood, and Orzel, Black-Box brought them to the planet and also secured the other AIs before they had a chance to join the Created. He then leaves Osman with a choice to make, whether to destroy the HIGHCOM AIs or not. In the weeks after their arrival, Lord Hood begins to drown himself in liquor, convinced that the situation would have been avoided if he had prevented John-117 from returning to service following the incident on Requiem. Osman tells Hood he isn't at fault and for days she herself stalls with making a decision about the AIs inside the briefcase. On one early morning, she takes the briefcase with her on a jog through the nearby forest and soon ponders taking the proper course of action. The story concludes with Osman contemplating whether she should destroy the AIs to prevent them from disclosing any military secrets to the Created, decide to recruit them as Dr. Catherine Halsey had once done for her and the other Spartans, or speak with each of them and grant them the choice of joining Cortana.