Tug o' War
Tug o' War is a short story included in the 2010 reissue of Halo: First Strike. It details the adventures of Oliver Birch as he struggles to complete his fetching run on time. The story also explores some of the mechanics of slipstream space.
Taking place after the Human-Covenant War, Tug o' War details the adventures of Oliver Birch, a fetcher working for Warner & Ives, who makes a living out of prospecting wreckages of starships for Shaw-Fujikawa Translight Engines. In the debris field over the glassed colony of Biko, Birch recovers a Slipspace drive from the Marathon-class cruiser UNSC Dresden. Back on Galileo's Worst Enemy, a tug Birch uses for in-system travel, he discovers that while the drive is made to look like a commercial model built by the Oros Trading Company, it is actually a "saddle box", a type of drive used for military experimentation.
Birch also struggles with a personal problem: he has arranged a date with Gretchen Navarro, a woman on Tribute, but he is already late for delivering the slipspace drive for the ONI at Cygnus. Due to the distances between the systems, it is impossible to make it to both in time. Birch formulates a plan to mount the saddle box on his ship, CAA Butterworth, and program it to make a series of automated jumps to Cygnus while mounting the Butterworth's old drive to Galileo's Worst Enemy. Birch plans to use the tug to drop out of slipspace near Tribute while Butterworth continues its course to Cygnus. Once there, Birch explains to his dog Mabel, the ship will play an automated message and a verbal claim of continued ownership to the dock workers, and his contract handler known as Steve will be there to receive the drive.
However, after the plan is put in motion, something goes wrong with the jump. The Galileo's Worst Enemy begins disintegrating under the stresses of slipspace as it leaves Butterworth's cargo bay. Birch and Mabel manage to jettison out of Galileo's Worst Enemy in a cryo-chamber before the ship is torn apart. Birch drops an emergency locator beacon as they fall asleep, awaiting rescue.
- Halo: First Strike (2010), Adjunct