Harvest's Fall by Conrad Lauf
Harvest's Fall: First Encounter
Date: 21 July 2004, 8:58 AM
Compiler's Note: Human technology is categorised into four levels:
Lvl. 1 - The humans in the area have basic tools such as spears and bows and arrows, but are the most primitive of the four levels.
Lvl. 2 - The humans in the area have adequate knowledge of firearms, electricity, and other relatively ancient forms of technology.
Lvl. 3 - The humans in the area have a good knowledge of technology, and have achieved space travel.
Lvl. 4 - The humans in the area are currently utilising the pinnacle of technolgy, and have achieved faster-than-light travel.
DIARY ENTRY No. 1
DATE: 08 / 06 / 2520
LOCATION: Uralan sector SCRIBE: Johan Black
At approximately 6 p.m. today my village's population watched strange blue-green flashes in the dusk sky dart about like the fireflies that invade our homes. Immediately the village's communications adviser, Greg Noels, ran to his satellite radio, the only modern instrument in this small populace, to call Diemetus* for an explanation to this phenomenon. The reply was as follows:
"We have confirmation that these lights were made by spacecraft, and the UNSC has told us that they have not sent any vessels over to this side of the planet for weeks."
Many of the people in the village were horrified at this news, and two religious elders were put in the medical building after they passed out in shock.
*Diemetus is the global capital of Harvest
DIARY ENTRY No. 2
DATE: 11 / 7 / 2520
I woke up this morning to find the entire village standing in the middle of the town square, murmuring and pointing up at the sky. I looked up and saw to my amazement a massive spacecraft hovering above the planet's surface, probably about five hundred metres above us.
Its size defied logic, its body a lush, radiant pink. It was a work of art, with its outer hull smooth and rounded, and I realized that there was not a single part that wasn't curved in some way. Along its midsection was a pitch black line, dotted with forever sparkling lights. For the rest of the morning, the spacecraft stayed above us, never moving. My seven-year-old daughter Cyan clutched me tightly, whispering: 'Daddy, I'm scared.'
Naturally I put her back inside my house, telling her that it was nothing to worry about...
DIARY ENTRY No. 3
DATE: 23 / 11 / 2520
This morning Hans Kroefield, one of my neighbours, disappeared from his house. Apparently his wife and children woke to find his bed empty, with signs of a small struggle. Hans must have been gagged, as his family heard no sound at all during the night. Even more suspicious, the large spacecraft, which has now become a common sight, has vanished from our sky. I fear the inhabitants of the ship are intending to carry us all away, to perform bizarre scientific experiments on us like the now-extinct lab rat. But only time will tell the truth.
DIARY ENTRY No. 4
DATE: 31 / 12 / 2520
Today at approximately 5 a.m., a large, purple, glittering, opaque beam was directed at the village square by the spacecraft, which returned three days ago. Hans Kroefield has not returned, however, and the village's population is filled with hostility towards the inhabitants of the craft. I too, am outraged that we be treated like zoo exhibitions, and am frustrated that my neighbour has not yet been returned.
DIARY ENTRY No. 5
DATE: 01 / 01 / 2521
While I was tending to the wheat field which provides this village's food, I was alarmed to see humanoid beings descending from the beam in the village square. I gripped my harvesting scythe tightly with both hands, and walked slowly to the village centre, where all fifty-eight members of the village were standing in a loose crowd around the beam. I noticed they were also wielding various tools as though preparing to use them on the beings if hostility was present. Tools such as machetes, axes, scythes, pitchforks, shovels, mallets and even a few rifles were being held warily.
From the beam came first a group of five beings, which I must say were the most humanoid of the group. They had armour-plated bodies, topped off with chitterous mandible-lined mouths. In each taloned hand they held flickering blades, with burned with a searing blue light. They looked about them, as if making sure the area was safe, and then they moved outwards to create a perfect circle.
The village priest was heard to mutter, 'demons,' and I could see why.
Now a massive figure sitting in an elaborate throne drifted slowly down from the ship, its robes hanging over its body loosely. The throne did not reach the ground, but instead floated ten centimeters above the earthen floor. The figure, which I now came to acknowledge as their leader, looked about itself with an air of authority and curiosity. The last beings to descend were a pair of brutish beasts wielding glowing cannons on one arm, and an ornate shield on the other. Their flesh was a royal blue, with orange fleshy areas in between their joints, and they sported many towering spines on their hunched backs.
At that moment the being on the throne began to chant slowly, its voice deep and resonant like a great gong. It began to draw us forward, making us shuffle towards the purple beam in the centre of the square. Many of the armed villagers dropped their weapons, which were collected by the humanoid creatures carefully.
In a few minutes the entire village was crammed onto the circular area covered by the beam, and with a strange tingling sensation, we ascended into the belly of the ship. As we reached the hull the leader's voice rose sharply and then ended with a sharp click of its tongue. Immediately I, along with the rest of the villagers, passed out cold.
I have only just awoken from my slumber, and have found myself in a sickeningly pink room, its walls rounded and smooth. Guarding the only possible doorway is a pair of the humanoid creatures, armed with what look to be automatic firearms. The room is about ten feet across square, and there are nine other villagers in here with me, all still asleep. I am feeling extremely drowsy and will now end this entry, and try to sleep off this tiredness.
Harvest's Fall: Second Encounter
Date: 30 July 2004, 8:45 AM
DIARY ENTRY No. 6
DATE: 02 / 01 / 2521
Just thirty minutes ago I awoke from my slumber, and was immediately pulled to my feet by one of the humanoid guards. My fellow prisoners were still unconscious as I was frog-marched out of the room.
Once we were in the brightly-lit hallway they slapped a pair of cold steel hand-cuffs onto my wrists, and half-dragged me down a labyrinthine path of corridors, all bustling with life. Everywhere small creatures with respirators and fin-like humps garbled to each other in their scratchy voices, which I was surprised to hear were speaking twisted English. They took little or no notice of me, and carried on with their daily duties. I managed to get a glimpse of the rooms on either side of the hallway, and in one room saw two of the large, blue, lumbering ogre-like beasts battling it out in a make-shift ring, swinging their alloy shields at each other in frenzied swipes. Around the ring were jeering and yelling spectators, egging the competitors on and waving small purple chips around, which I guessed was their currency.
Patrolling the halls were the humanoid beings, and accompanying them were lithe creatures bearing opaque shields and possessing disproportionate eyes.
For further reference, I have decided to name the small, fin-backed creatures Grunts, as they seem to be the slaves of the race, the shield-bearers Jackals, because of their lean, hungry look, the humanoids Elites, because they seem to be the specialist group, and the ogre-like beasts Hunters, because they are probably at the top of the food chain.
Suddenly I found myself in a room that defied logic with its immense size. It had a dark purple carpet running dead straight along the floor, stretching from the doorway in which I stood, to what was obviously a throne at the back of the room. Seated on the throne was the leader I had seen in the village earlier, with a pair of Hunters flanking it. The Hunters, to my surprise, were a golden yellow, rather than the royal blue earlier. I guessed these were the leader's personal guards. On the outer sides of the Hunters were banners, tall, thin, and elaborately designed. The leader also had a ceremonial rune inscribed on its forehead, probably for special occasions such as this one.
Then the leader spoke.
It was a disturbing experience, as although the leader's lips spelt out alien words, inside my head I could understand it in complete English.
(Bring the human forward) it said, gesturing slightly with its elongated hand.
Trembling, I was forced to walk forwards by the pair of Elite guards.
The leader asked me, (What is your name?)
I stuttered, 'My name is Johan Black, scribe to the settlement of Chiron, on the planet of Harvest. Who are you?'
(My name is Lachesis, Atropolos of The Pilgrimage , cruiseship of the Covenant fleet.)
'And what exactly is an "Atropolos"?'
(We are the religious leaders of the Covenant races, and are gifted with occasional glimpses into the near future. To your people we would be known as prophets.)
'What is this "Covenant" you speak of?'
(The Covenant is the name for the collection of races that have been united in their support of their gods, which have all turned out to be very similar in descriptions and roles.)
I was beginning to feel sick in my stomach. Lachesis' echoing voice in my skull was also beginning to give me a splitting migraine. I knew I would not be able to continue this conversation for much longer.
'Why have you taken us aboard your cruiser, Lachesis?'
(Ancient carvings on the walls of the Ancients on our homeworld told of great destruction to our people, brought by creatures that greatly resemble your race. We are verifying these prophesies.)
'And if the carvings are accurate?'
(Then you and your fellow humans shall be destroyed.)
At this point in time, I passed out cold from the extreme pressure my brain was under.
I woke up back in my holding cell, and tried to get rid of the pain with sleep, despite being repeatedly questioned by my companions.
DIARY ENTRY No. 7
DATE: 03 / 01 / 2521
Again I was taken away from my cell and companions by the two guards from the previous day, but to a completely different part of the ship. We entered another massive room, only this time it was completely bare, save a large desk in the middle of the room, which I guessed belonged to Lachesis. The walls, to my astonishment, were completely lined with intricate pictures and diagrams. The guards left the room.
'Are these the carvings of the Ancients?' I asked.
(Yes, although these are mere casts of the originals.)
'May I by allowed to inspect some of them?'
(Of course. Mind you, most of these would make no sense to you whatsoever, but there is a couple that would greatly interest you.)
Lachesis hovered over to a portion of the wall. I realized that there were deep lines running vertically down the walls, to separate different stories from each other.
Lachesis pointed to the top left point of the "page", and said, (Start here.)
'Before I begin, what year does this prophesy occur in?'
(In human years, it would begin four weeks from now. But please, start reading.)
I began to decipher the carvings, and have written them down in chronological order. They are as follows:
1. Humans land on an unknown planet, and begin to barter with the Covenant. Peaceful interaction seems to be in place.
2. Humans have some disagreement with the Covenant and leave the planet, while the Covenant begins to manufacture weapons of war.
3. The humans return to the Covenant homeworld and catch them off guard, and mercilessly slaughter all.
4. During the planetary battle, a small fleet of Covenant ships flee the planet, and start to colonize a nearby planet.
5. The humans find the new planet, and obliterate it with an orbital strike. There are now no Covenant left in the universe.
I stepped away, sadly shaking my head. 'No. We wouldn't do such a thing as genocide. We'd at least leave all civilians or stop the slaughter if the Covenant surrendered.'
I noted that the ship the humans arrived in was unmistakably a Halcyon-class cruiser, a ship that had only just started being produced by the UNSC three months ago.
(Do you deny these are humans in the carvings?) Lachesis asked.
'They are definitely humans,' I replied, and realized what I had just admitted to.
'But please, let this village live! We are pacifists, and would never partake in any kind of war.'
At this I dropped to my knees, out of exhaustion or just to be in the position of begging.
Lachesis seemed to smile, although to a human child it would probably scare them to death.
(We shall see, Johan. We shall see.)
Lachesis clicked his fingers, and the Elite guards took me back to my cell.
In my cell, my fellow villagers were hungrily devouring fresh fruit, vegetables and bread, such as carrots, lettuce and eggs. I guessed the food had been taken from our village stores, and helped myself to some bread and lettuce, and for the rest of the day thought about what had just happened.
DIARY ENTRY No. 8
DATE: 04 / 01 / 2521
Today I was allowed to explore the rest of The Pilgrimage , but on the condition that wherever I went, an Elite bodyguard was to go with me. Lachesis explained that there were many Grunts and Jackals, that, should the opportunity arise, would happily kill me and send my flesh to a skin-trader on the Covenant home world, which I found out was called Laomedon, or in the Covenant language, "Place Of The Ancients".
My bodyguard's name is Lychaon, and he is known to his people as a "Keeper of Light" or, in their tongue, Angelius. His armour is midnight blue, with bright turquoise crooked lines running across it, resembling lightning flashes. He stands one foot above me, with a powerful physique, and is armed with a plasma Kraken rifle, a specialist version of the plasma rifle, with the difference being that this rifle fires its payload with enough force to throw a man back ten feet. The rifle hangs around Lychaon's stomach, attached by a black, leather sling that comes over his neck.
Today I was astonished to see Elites training on their rapid assault vehicles, known as Ghosts. They are very fast and maneuverable, and heavily armed. Lychaon took me down onto the training ground, and as we reached the field, I suddenly realized a Ghost was heading straight for me. I screamed to Lychaon for help, who fired a shot at the attacking Ghost, which was hit on its protruding wing right in front of us, not a metre away from crushing me. This caused the vehicle to spin around 180 degrees and hit the ground in an explosion of blue flames.
The rider was thrown from his saddle, and as he hit the ground Lychaon was already on him, swinging the double-handed Kraken rifle into his stomach, cleaving into the Elite's stomach with the serrated and long bayonet. By the end of the savage beating, the Elite was dead and Lychaon was standing above the broken body, panting slightly with battlelust.
"That was Creolen, a devout soldier of the Covenant, who, as you can tell, believes that humans should be killed like animals," he explained in his low, growling voice.
I asked, "Are you hurt at all?"
He shook his head, but at the same time grimaced as he pulled a smoking shard of metal from his arm with a wet tearing sound.
"Not any more," he replied, with a barbaric grin.
After this encounter I was taken back to my cell for security reasons, and the rest of the day was extremely uneventful. I now realize that this ship is a dangerous one, and that any Covenant is potentially a threat to my fellow villagers and myself.