Purity: A Halo novel by Jason Rieger
Purity: A Halo Novel
Date: 15 November 2009, 3:15 am
UNKNOWN LOCATION, Approximately the year 2555
"Master Chief, are you awake?"
I know that voice anywhere. All of the delightful digital nuances.
I open my eyes and see the blur of soft blue binary through my reflective golden visor. My vision focuses onto a set of piercing azure eyes. Cortana.
"Long time no see, Hero." Cortana voice is as luscious as always, she is a phenomenal achievement in artificial intelligence programming. If ever I had a weakness
I gently flex my body and my MJOLNIR exoskeleton armour instantly responses, raising me into a sitting position. I remove my eyes from hers (I'm sure it takes most of bionics to do so) and scan the room.
I am perched of a slab of either polish rock or dull metal, visual scans are inconclusive. The floor of a similar substance stretches off in every direction. No walls, no roof. It feels like the Library
"Bet you have some questions?" My thoughts came back to her. "You might atleast compliment me on my clothing." She raised her arms and twirled. I noticed that she was wearing a full length dress, high collar and flared sleeves, the works. Zero and ones glistening down her like rain drops. She looks like an Admiral's wife. Very un-Cortana-like.
"I know I'm not the usual pre-pubescent boy's wet-dream, but I've changed." We always like her one-sided conversations, one of the many reasons we were so well matched, or so some of my many psych report say. "Changed in so, so, so many ways, but I'm not the only one
Suddenly a bright light blooms beside Cortana, a very familiar light.
I reached my hand over my shoulder to grasp my M4 Assault Rifle, magnetically held to my back-plate and ensconced within my force-shield. Of course it wasn't there. Nothing I hate more then being unarmed, well within this suit I hardly 'unarmed', but un-ranged unarmed is what I hate.
343 Guilt Spark materialized. "Do not be alarmed, Reclaimer." It chimed, its dull optical camera swiveling. Its life-less plated metal frame sliding within itself, reforming as it panned for electromagnetic frequencies. "Once again you have been chosen for assistance."
I slide my legs of the altar-like block I was on, firmly setting my feet on the ground - the gravity must be weak where we are as my armour felt light. If I could just distract Spark for a second, I could spring over to it and slam it like the floating ball it was.
Cortana spoke. "Now, don't do anything rash, Master Chief. Sparky just wants to talk." Cortana was always very good at peace keeping, leveling my destructive urges. "He has a proposal for us."
'He'? I didn't believe that I had a jealous bone in my body
But Cortana and Sparky
Insane. Unless this wasn't really my Cortana
I approached Cortana, activate all direct scans. Was this the A.I. that had share so much
That had saved me so many times
"Sorry, Master Chief." She said lowering her head. "I have a confession to make." She gave a little wry smile, looking into my eyes. I could see tears welling in her eyes, or atleast the holographic projection of them.
"I am not your Cortana." The words hit my like a frag grenade. "During the fall of the Pillar of Autumn, Spark was able to copy my program. I am an exact copy or else I believe so. I have been learning what I could from 343 Guilty Spark, educating myself about the Forerunners, their rise and their fall. The Flood and the Haloes, the Covenant and the threats to humanity. We have some very dire news for you."
Not my Cortana. A copy, a clone, a doppelganger. This is a trick, one of Spark's twists of the truth, a trap.
I turned to leave, unsure how to escape but determined. I notice a figure lurking off to the side crouching, somewhat familiar
I felt my past converging, a noose tightening around me and my demons returning for me
"Reclaimer." The dull monotone started again. "Please listen. There is much knowledge that you need to assimilate. If you are uncooperative, you and Cortana will have to be deleted." 343 Guilt Spark's hovering, unblinking eye held no remorse to its threat. "Of course it will inconvenience for the plan but there are other options."
I glanced at Cortana, she rolled her eyes. We wouldn't go without a fight but I preferred not to have her at risk.
I returned to Spark and stood at ease. The figure off to the side has disappeared.
"Reclaimer, please do not ask any questions, everything required of you to know will be told to you, but no more." Spark began, that comment brought a slight frown from Cortana, as if a cloud had passed in front of the sun. "The Forerunners, Masters of 343 Guilt Spark, need to be stopped." That proved it, 343 Guilty Spark has gone rampant, acting way outside of its programming parameters. Time that it was deleted and yet Cortana was nodding her head so I focused on the droid's spiel
"The Forerunners have gathered much knowledge from your encounters with the Flood and have discerned some weaknesses. The Forerunners stand outside of time, monitoring and weaving their epic intrigues. Time matters little to them, only the genocide of the Flood, so that they may return. For all their magnificent achievement, they could not withstand this animalistic parasite and so withdraw themselves from the corporeal world.
"They built to Haloes to ascertain antibodies for the virus that is the Flood. Yes, the Haloes can be trigged for destructive purposes as a last result, but sentient races are allowed a chance first. Each world known to the Forerunners was decreed a Halo to encompasses their planet, turning with their equator. Their Haloes were built with the same atmosphere and environment as their allotted race, and means were incorporated so they could venture onto the Halo. The Forerunners assumed that sentient races would naturally choose their elite to match wits against the Flood and when one race eventually defeats the Flood the Forerunners will return once again as the apex race of the universe, rewarding and enslaving the victors.
"Now focusing on the Covenant's races, for, as with you as a variable Reclaimer, stopped the Flood on of the Earth-bound Halo. That Halo was designed and being sent to Earth, the gravity was predisposed for Earth, as was the flora and terrain. Grasslands, oceans and beaches, perfect for mankind's elite. Unfortunately the Covenant happened to discover it before it reached its destination. Fortunately your vessel was in the area and investigated. The rest, as your species says, is History."
Cortana whispered behind her hand, "Sorry but I've also been rubbing off on him."
"Four other races, not including the Flood, dwelt on that Halo when you arrived. The Unggoy, or vulgarly called Grunts; the Kig-Yar, or similarly named Jackals; the Sangheili, or the Elites;" (at this Cortana glanced off to the side) "and the Mgalekgolo, or unreasonably named Hunters.
"The Forerunners has seen to send a Halo to each of these race's home planets. Haloes that contain Flood spores and the ability to detonate all Haloes through out the systems, eradicating all life, the Flood food source.
"And now, Reclaimer," Spark continued, hovering closer, "your role in this theatrical episode. You will be sent to these planets that have been encircles by a pre-disposed Halo, where you will eliminate the Flood threat and save the Covenant races from extintion."
I raised my gauntlet to bottom of my helmet, rubbing my 'chin'. As always, I believed 343 Guilty Spark had fed me what it thought would motivate me. Fabrications and miss directions are its bread and butter. Going to distant planets
The enemy of my enemy is my friend? Well, a lesser enemy anyway.
"Offerance of any assistance is proffered," Spark trying to squeeze an emotion from its circuitry, "any weapons you require, as well as a guide." I looked up as Cortana, a guide that was created and fed only the information I was allowed. It hurt not to be able to trust Cortana.
"No, not me, Master Chief." Cortana responded. "Over there
A shape loped from the shadows. Tall and lean, a killing machine. A nightmare dredged from humanity's darkest fears. A Sangheili
but a friend
"Arbiter." I say, as the whip thin, over two and a half metre tall goliath emerges from the shadows. His static force shield shimmers, glinting around his bladed helm and advanced chest plate.
"Demon." He replies.
Standing toe to toe with a natural enemy is always a buzz. We have a history, Arbiter and me, but he's still a Sangheili, an 'Elite', a Whoop Whoop dude.
Unarmed like this, we're evenly matched. His well-trained muscle against my powered hydraulics. We have worked together when in need but I have slain too many of his kind to be comfortable, as has he
"This little drone must have offered you much to have you stand at peace in front of your nemesis." Arbiter mouthed, his mandibles out of sync of the words as my MJOLNIR audio translated (another gift that I owe Cortana for).
Spark hovered between us. "Transportion for you, Reclaimer, and Dervish-" Arbiter cringed at this name (or what I assume was a cringe) "is now available to the Unggoy home planet that has been shackled by a Halo. Make your way from the planet to the Halo, destroy it and purge any affected Unggoy.
"Arbiter has an inbuilt Flood spore detector," Arbiter tapped his helm at this, "for I cannot risk him getting to close to the Flood. Arbiter knows the Unggoy world and their many dangers, he can assist you, Reclaimer, on to the Halo but he will not enter the Flood's holding chambers. I will immediately withdraw him if proximity alert is activated. He must be protected for my plans to come to fruition."
"What's to protect me?" I said.
343 Guilty Spark hovered into my golden visor. His dull orb reflecting back my golden domed square, as my visor reflected back his unfeeling, uncaring eye. "Your armour." The monotone dripped from Spark's speakers.
"Ah, the sacred Spartan armour." Arbiter roared, something that might be a laugh sounded. "The only difference that saved your pitiful species."
"Master Chief is more than that damn armour!" Cortana cried through clenched teeth, scowling at the droid and the alien.
After a moment silent, Spark started up again. "Let's proceed. Any equipment you need is behind you as no further assistance is available until the Flood in exterminated."
Turning, I now saw that the matt black altar was laid out with weapons.
A M6D Magnum placed beside M4 Assault Rifle with a BR55 Battle Rifle adjacent and a M-90 Shotgun; a set of SMGs flanking a Sniper Rifle and even a Rocket Launcher. A Plasma Pistol and a Plasma Rifle were unusually positioned beside two Energy Swords, a Carbine and a Beam Rifle and a hedgehog of a Needler. Lastly were two little neat stacks of four Frag Grenades and four Plasma Grenades.
Arbiter moved first, I tensed, but then I tried to relax, focusing on our past trust.
His four digit hand immediately grabbed both Energy Swords, hooking them over his shoulders. He scooped Plasma Grenades into a waist pocket and he chose to carry a Plasma Rifle in hands, then withdraw.
I advanced. Looking at the options in front of me. A world of the Unggoy, Spuds, and the Flood, Zombie Spuds.
I picked up the Assault Rifle, checking its balance, sighting its line. It was a piece of perfection. Swinging it over my should until my magnetic back plate held it, I judged the Shotgun, Sniper and Rocket. Direct, distance or destruction.
Who am I kidding? I never fire until I see the whites, or the pale purple, of an enemy's eyes. The Shotty has it. I grab it as a hook on the Frags as well.
Let's get this show on the road. I slightly nod to Cortana and I see 343 Guilty Spark iris contract to a point.
Cortana gracefully glides towards me, closer and closer, a slight Mona Lisa's smile on her lips. She raises her hands, palms out, and I feel I am doing the same. I blink and she's gone but suddenly she is in my head, it feels like a hole in my soul has been filled.
Then the teleportation light encompasses myself and Arbiter
Purity: A Halo Novel Pt. 2
Date: 18 November 2009, 9:18 am
2: CHAPTER ONE
BALAHO, UNNGOY HOME PLANET, 2009
I was standing in pale red mist. The ground was unnaturally hard, scorched. The sky was so thick with low hanging clouds I felt I was under ground. Well, 343 Guilty Spark said that there was a Halo up there somewhere.
"The Halo's just beyond the haze." Cortana spoke within my head. I smiled. It's good to be free of decisions, all I had to focus on was actions. Kinda like marriage…
The gentle breeze of my entry wafted the mist away from me, my view was that I was standing shallow crater, in all directions huddled Grunts- curled up as they do sleeping.
A form brushed beside me and I raised M-90 Shotgun in reflex.
It was Arbiter, he Plasma Rifle now clipped somehow to his waist, striding forward, he booted the closest Grunt. Grey chunks flung into the mist, white spores whorled around Arbiter's foot. Had the Flood done this? Is this a new form of 'infected'?
"Damn mushrooms," spat the Sangheili, an impassive breather over his mandibles. "You can see why the Unggoy sleep where it suits them. Here on Balaho they just drop and blend in. Anyone of these mounds could be a Grunt."
With a field of so many mushrooms I could see why it would be it difficult for an invading army. Never underestimate a Spud.
"Let move, Demon," ordered Arbiter, "we have much ground to travel in little time. I have the co-ordinates to the Elevator… and I hate this murk." He hunched and leapt away, his long legs eating up the ground. He moves fast even for a Whoop Whoop dude!
I pushed my legs, hydraulic joints powering me after him. I switched to infrared vision, eliminating most of the swirling flame-hue mist, reds mixed with oranges and yellows. Avian shapes occasionally drifted over. Swarms of fire flies swirled about, so bright on the infrared scale that they might even be made from fire.
I paused when I saw that Arbiter had stopped in amongst the mushroom, looking down.
I slowly advanced. Something cold on the thermal slithered past, a rock python? Cold enough to be made from rock… I could see a pattern here…
He spoke when I was close. "Demon, look at this Grunt." He prodded a mushroom that look like any other, even in infrared. "We have dissected many of the Unggoy, discovering that the methane, though they need it to survive, is also a narcotic. A hallucinatory, they don't even know reality from fantasy." He scoffed (I really stretched the term 'scoff' when a applying it to a Sangheili.)
"It must amuse you to know that some may see you as the foulest hell-spawn, while others could have seen you as a cute, little fluffy doochok." Again he rumbled that must be a laugh. "Why do you think we abuse them so? We are not so cruel to our lesser, we just need violence to get pass their drug-addled brain."
"Drugs may make the Sangheili bearable but only a lobotomy could make the Brutes tolerable," Cortana quipped.
Arbiter booted a bit harder and the Unggoy flipped on to its side, short legs and arms waving like a tortoise on its back. "Wake up, Grunt, your Master commands it."
The Spud raised its triangular head, blinking its beady little purple eyes. "Hello, friendly milbac tree." The Spud's high pitched voice was as painful as always. "I see you have a berry for me." The Grunt's arm reached out toward the Sangheili. I glanced down to see that Arbiter had a Plasma Grenade in his fist.
"Oh, it's sooo cute, Master Chief," sarcastically pleaded Coratana. "Can we keep him?"
Arbiter shook his head. "You see, Demon, he thinks I'm a tree" chuckled the Elite, squatting down to look at the Unggoy, on this planet it needed no breather covering it mouth. Its mouth was small and what I thought was a tongue was more straw-like as it flicked, tasting the air.
"Oh, by the way, Demon" said Arbiter. "I hope your shields fully charged…"
Grunts started popping up in all directions; this docile Spud must have sent out a warning! Surveying around the mushroom grove I could see a dozen Grunts had srang up, all holding Needles, this could get messy! I jumped left as the multiple Spph! Spph! Spph! sounded as hundreds of slivers of pink seeked towards me. My armour started klaxoning almost immediately as a warning as I slammed my shotgun into the first Spud's face, blue blood spraying as it crumpled.
Arbiter shoved his Plasma Grenade into the traitorous Grunts face, where it stuck. I didn't see the outcome but a felt it. Sangheili must use a weapon once it is drawn, I suppose this applies to grenades, even though he seemed to always have some weapon in his hands…
Pointing the shotgun towards another Grunt I made sure the pellet spread would take out as many 'mushrooms' as possible, not knowing if some Spuds were still pretending. I glanced out at Arbiter, who had both Energy Swords out and charging, dicing the Unggoy in a fury of slashes and cutting a swath through the mushroom as he moved, also eliminating any pretenders.
"Move this way, Demon," the Sangheili bellowed. My armour was blackening from the hits that penetrated my failing shield but none hits have pierced through to my body yet. I turned to follow when a scream made me turn back. Damn, a Suicide Spud was charging, a Plasma Grenade in each hand. Well, if it wants to blow, cop this, and I hurled a Frag at his feet, leaping towards Arbiter as the explosion rocked the earth… well, Balaho… ground.
The Elite let me up to what look like a grove of trees. The mushrooms had stopped and the Grunts had appeared to have given up the chase. The Sangheili had dropped into a crouch, looking around, as I placed my back against a tree.
"I'd be more careful if I was you, Demon," warned Arbiter. I glared at him, a bit put out that he was blaming me for alerting the Grunts when I noticed large, billiard-ball sized fruit hanging from the tree I rested against. They looked somewhat like Plasma Grenades… I jumped back, rolling away from the explosive-strewn tree. Again I heard to rumbling laugh of Arbiter. "Yes, this berries are explosive, absorbing much methane, but they are only explosive enough to break apart the harden ground, to spread their seeds. Until we radiate them with infused plasma they are only a mere Sangheili play toy. They are naturally sticky, the avian puchtah grasp them, use their straw-like mouth to suck to sticky slime coating and drop the remains, spreading the milbac's seeds. Symbioses… like most species."
We rested for a moment, lost in our thoughts.
"What would a Sangheili know about symbioses… they are religious zealot that only exist to obey their Prophets," Cortana remarked.
"But I shouldn't overload your thoughts though," said the Sangheili, breaking the silence. "We're not sure what you're thought capacity is…" Whoop Whoop dude insults? Had we become this trusting? Almost enough to forget that Sangheili are that perfect killing machine, natural Spartans before the genetic modifications. The funniest thing probably to a Sangheili is watching an enemy slowly and terribly die, that or Will Ferrell movies.
We're off and racing again. "We need to get to the fire field," said the Elite, not even panting even at this speed (well, I wasn't either!), but before I could ask what the fire fields were my infrared vision went crazy. The pulsating lights blinded me and I automatically shut down my vision. I could great whooshes and I had my Shotgun out, swinging around for danger, when eventually I could see I saw great pillars of fire jetting up across a field. The Fire Field.
I was just coming to a stop when my legs became entangled. I tried to keep balanced but my legs were ensnared and I fell, slamming into the hard packed ground. Lying on my side I saw thorny brambles entwining around my legs. These brambles had large spiky flowers clumped on them and it looked like these flowers were moving towards me. My vision had now recovered enough to notice that the spiky plants were pink, twinkling like crystals.
Arbiter's hand reached in and tore me from the brambles as the flowers released their pink crystal shards with the miniature sound of Spph! Spph! Spph! Needler flowers!
"Get on your feet and run, Demon," bellowed the Elite.
"Good advice," encouraged Cortana, "you do have me inside here now too!"
As I charged forward I could see the ground forming a bubble in front of me. Arbiter slammed into me knocking me to the side and the ground burst into another jet of flame, shooting into the sky. I keep my feet but I could see smoke steaming off Arbiter's skin. He glared at me and we both kept moving.
"Master Chief and Arbiter," Cortana reported, "I have the Elevator bearing at twelve degrees." We adjusted our bearing without comment; apparently she could broadcast to Arbiter as well.
I could now see the blue field humming on a hillock, ruby hues swirling around it and obscuring the sky, and, I assume, Balaho's Halo. Around the hillock were squatting mushrooms that we both knew were not mushrooms. I checked that my M-90 Shotgun was fully loaded and Arbiter unclipped his Plasma Rifle. Our battle cries could not be translated, more animal then alien, more primitive then species-al.
The first Grunt sprang up to meet my cry, is usual purple-grey carapace was midnight black, its limbs were clumped with Needler-shards, and its back was adorned with sticky Plasma Grenades. I raised my shotgun to blast it but discovered it had tackled my legs; all of its limbs wrapped around me tighter then the brambles. An explosion happens moments later, consuming my force-shields, leaving me vulnerable. The little black Spud was oozing blue blood but it wasn't finished, rolling over me and sticking many of its grenades to my legs and groin. I was seriously screwed and Cortana screamed.
The Plasma Grenades went out, flipping my legs out behind me and over my head and landing on my back.
Arbiter stood over me. "Get up, Fool, they're just berries. I told you they need to be infused with plasma to be effective!" I glanced down, expecting to see my legs gone, but my legs were patched in black spots but intact.
"Get to the Elevator," Arbiter screamed. "What wrong with you, Demon? Getting tangled in the Needlers bracken- the Unngoy don't even harvest them until their fully grown- and now being taken out by a Grunt. By the Prophet, you are not the Demon, the Covent's greatest adversity; you are a mere human, worse then the Flood, the worst parasite in existence!"
Yes, I was having a bit of trouble adjusting to Balaho, but worst then the Flood? I don't think the Sangheili was correct, even though we humans did like to sow our seeds across the universe, we never devoured another race. Commerce is more important then consumption. Why is my mind wandering like this? What am I thinking? I think that last explosion really did something to my head. Evaluating humanity… I'm a soldier! Fight, defend, die… and Cortana thinks the Sangheili are zealots.
"Lift your game," Arbiter yelled into my golden visor, "or I'll going to gut you and leave you for the puchtah to pick clean."
We started charging for the pulsating disc, a shimmering field encircled it, little flecks shot upwards like inverted rain. Unfortunately, it was surrounded by black clad Unngoy, suicidal little buggers.
Switching my M-90 Shotgun for my M4 Assault Rifle I was back in the game. Plucking a Frag Grenade, Arbiter slapped a Plasma Grenade to it side, and I lobbed it. The power of domestic and alien technology can not be underestimated; the blast was beautiful and terrifying. Black Spuds were flung aside as we powered into the Elevator's field, assault rifle strafing and Arbiter has hit Plasma Rifle out, balancing between melting the little guys and not overheat his blaster.
We had reached to apex of the hill, yards from the Elevator's levitation field, when we saw a outlay of brambles. A great hedge had been grown here, bristling with fully grown Needlers. The Needlers' buds all twisted toward us as we crested the hillock, as if they were sentient, and we stopped dead in our tracks, to stunned, and wary, to move.
Garbled voices could be heard behind us as the Unngoy regrouped. We were soon to be surrounded.
"Grenades, Arbiter," I said, taking my three remaining grenades from the sash. Arbiter slopped his three together with mine, making a kind of grenade volleyball. I jumped up, my hydraulics joints throwing me high as I yelled "Spike" and 'spiked' the bundled deep into the hedge.
The detonation coupled with the Needler's shards blasted me out of the sky, tumbling me down the hill, slamming through many black Spuds. Flaying through the air, Arbiter words still stung me, so I tucked my legs up, rotated and stuck out for the ground, landing, sliding then charging forward, M4 out blasting and gun-butt thwacking any Spuds on the hill.
Back on top of the hill, Arbiter was lying flat on his back, stunned from the shockwave. I stood over him and held out my hand. He shook his head, rising without my assistance, muttering things my translator couldn't translate.
"Let's get to the Halo, Demon," Arbiter ordered. "The longer we take the more chance that the Flood has spread." With that we both stood in the centre of the Elevator, looking up as it levitated us through the blood-red mist and clouds…
Purity: A Halo Novel Pt. 3
Date: 6 December 2009, 5:17 am
3: CHAPTER TWO
BALAHO'S HALO, ABOVE THE UNGGOY HOME PLANET (OR THE UNNGOY HOME PLANET, Whatever!), 2009
Screaming through space, flying within the Elevator's field, Arbiter and I shot through the hazy ruby clouds of Balaho, to be encased in another set of misty red-hued clouds.
Back on a Halo
I had returned home
It was mind-blowing to think that the technology of the Forerunners was able to encompass a planet's equator with a Halo
the anti-gravity fields that would be needed to be in flux so that it didn't rip the planet apart
we are mere ants to these technological giants
and like ants they didn't care treading on us.
The mist parted and out walked, actually hobbled, an Unggoy. It was dressed in yellow and purple robes, flared at the neck and arms; donned in something of a crown, glittering in pulsating gemstones; and flanked by a dozen or so black clad Spuds, all armed with Needlers. I was really getting tired of Needlers!
"Greetings, Ones-Not-For-Our-Land," said the Unggoy 'king?'
"Sorry, Master Chief," said Cortana, "that's the closest translation I could do
It's not so easy when all these Unggoy are speaking archaic!"
Archaic? What does she mean by that? No time to ask, King Spud was speaking again
"We greatly thank thee for this new land," regally intoned the king. "We offer our humble selfs to any of your needs for compensation."
"Stupid Grunts," bellowed Arbiter, reaching to draw his Energy Sword, "all we ask is that you die, painfully yet quickly!"
"Arbiter," I said, placing my hand on his arm, knowing that once that that sword was drawn there would be death. He glared at me, I could see him considering killing me as well.
A flash suddenly blossomed from my visor and Cortanta was standing before us all. Clad in her usual tight fitting part-bikini, part-lingerie. Zeroes and ones slid up and down her taut form. I'm not sure if Unggoy have females, I'm not sure of their anatomy, but I'm sure all of them went 'sss-zwing' when they looked at her.
"Greeting esteemed Unggoy," proclaimed Cortana. "Your kind is in terrible danger. A great evil resides on this new land and it is of great import that all Unggoy leave this place before much harm is done."
The King of the Grunts looked down, actually grinding its toe into the ground like a naughty schoolboy. "We have been here several cycles of our land, and many of our kind have not returned. I was hoping that your strange giants had answers."
"These two are my guardians, Master Chief," she intoned towards me, "and a Sangheili. We are here to protect you. Take all you are able and flee, never to return, we will do the rest."
King Spud nodded. He sent he guard off in all directions with curt orders to gather all of his race and return them to the Elevator. So far, so good.
"Let's move, Demon," Arbiter said. The king raised an eyebrow (well, a ridge above its eye) at this title. "I'm aching to kill, if not these Grunts then it must be the Flood. Only, pray to the Prophets, that I can get them before the drone takes me."
Cortana flickered and was gone. She was back inside my head, "The Unggoy declared their kings on the bias of resistance to the hallucinatory effects of the methane gas," chatted Cortana. "With this inclination the race may have bred the trait out of their kind
that is if the Brutes never increased the dosage in the face masks!"
We passed trails of Unggoy peacefully. We got a few surprised expressions, but we continued uninhibited. I could feel the curve of the Halo us we lopped along, the never-ending spinning, the snake that has swallowed its own tail.
The path soon gave way to rubble, first just little rocks but the quite larger until we had to climb over most. Maybe this was a basic method of weeding out the weak of a race so only the strong could continue. The mist had become a dead darken red, flecked with static electricity that played havoc with my sensors.
We found several dead Unggoy with no apparent cause of death, scared to death? We picked up a couple of torches, old medieval style ones with the stick and burning end, off a former Spud. They still burned and gave us slightly better view in the gloom. Better then my weapon's light that just reflected back at me in this mist.
Strange that fire could burn on a methane planet and not set the place on fire. As with the Pillars of Fire, the methane and vapour levels must be balanced so that fire can burn, but not spread
But isn't water vapour made from oxygen and hydrogen, two flammable gases, and with methane added
Shut up! I yelled silently to myself. You're a damn soldier not a chemist! Something was buzzing within my head, calculations and computations were trying to consume my mind
I shut it out and got on with the job.
We eventuality come to a big mound of boulders, dead Unggoy strewn all over its side. This was unusual. When do the Flood waste hosts? What killed them?
On top of the mound was a deep hole, kind of a volcano, a red mist brewing from the maw and rippling out over the sides.
"Well its pains me to say that is as far as I go, Demon," Arbiter cursed. "By the Prophets, if I go any further this Neeka of a drone will withdraw me. Just goes to show, never trust a robot
" He glared at me, looking like he was close to tears
I nodded and descended, flaming torch held high.
"Well, just you and me now, Master Chief," purred Cortana. "Alone as last."
Halfway down, a burning missile spun down past me, Arbiter had thrown his torch ahead of me. I looked up; he was a mere shadow on the mound's lip.
Looking down into the pit, Arbiter's torch crackled on a bell door - like on top of a pre-spaceflight submarine, a dome with a round wheel of a handle.
I pushed Arbiter's torch aside and stuck mine in a crack between boulders. Crouching down I placed both hands on the wheel and turned, it creaked open, a light breeze wafted out
I was suddenly engulfed in flames that shot up the craters hole. I felt like I was standing in an erupting volcano.
"Shut the door," screamed Cortana, "it's bleeding out a high oxygen content." I slammed the bell door and spun the wheel. Something was scrabbling down the rock, without the torchlight it was pitch black in this pit. I raised my Assault Rifle at the hulking figure closing as it formed into Arbiter. He muttered things like "Shut up, Drone" and "The Demon is in trouble" as he descended.
"We're OK, Arbiter," sent Cortana, "just an oxygen flash fire, nothing that would disable the Master Chief."
Arbiter nodded and handed me one of his Energy Swords. "This creates no spark," he said and took my Assault Rifle. "You may keep your Shotgun, it is most effective against the Flood, but do not you it unless you are prepared to die."
With that he began climbing the boulders, still muttering to 343 Guilty Spark via com.
Stomping on all torches so they didn't every have a glowing ember, I reached for the bell-door again. The oxygen must have killed the Grunts. Was it a trap? A mistake? Whatever it was it was a mystery and I didn't bother with mysteries.
Opening the bell-door, I saw a tunnel of flesh. No other way to describe it. Pulsating, pumping, slimy flesh. No hand rails, no ladder.
Taking a deep breath, I stepped over the edge and slid - feeling like a blockage in an American's artery the thin chute pushing up against me, constricting against me.
The suffocating chute eventually gave way and I was falling in a large cavern. The same flesh-like roof stretched away, curving into walls with gaping holes - that was all I noticed when I hit a bladder: a large heaving bulge, twisted with veins and pus-oozing boils. I was spread-eagle on my back, mixing with the slime and feeling like a Jiralhanae's lunch, watching the little spores swirling in the air, hoping none I my recent scrapes had weakened my suit's seams. One little mite and I could be zombiefied.
The old familiar squirming/plopping noise started. I leaped up, sword humming at the ready.
Clouds of dull balloons wiggled from the holes in the wall. Sickly white heads on creepy tiny legs swarming towards me. I cursed Arbiter, my M4 Assault Rifle would have made mince meat of the little bulbs. An Energy Sword would be useless
I considered the Shotgun, this cavern full of oxygen and a spark would fry these parasitic suckers
I stood there, watching all direction as the flood of the, eh well, Flood continued, advancing to the bottom of the lump I stood on. Then they stopped, rearing back with their feelers tasting the air. Amassing, waiting, hungering
I stood there on my island with the ocean wanting to leap up and inject it's spawn into my face!
"We need to get deeper into the Halo, Master Chief," Cortana told me. "I can't access any plans so you will have to try one of those holes."
Humph! A mass sloshed out of 'one of those holes'. Several bulbs glued together with little stumpy legs waving. It brake-dance-snake'd towards me. Several others 'humph'ed out of more holes as well, similarly 'snaking' towards me, rising up on their stumpy legs and waddling as they got closer.
They swayed as they waddled; pushing their way through the Flood pods, inching closer until they also stopped at the bladder base. Were they scared of the Energy Sword I was waving back and forth? Are they worried about this bladder I stood on? Don't they like to smell on me?
The mass suddenly shifted, a decision must have been reached. A weight sloshed behind me, I spun to see a pod sack had jumped onto its belly and was swelling. If it blew I knew my shield would be consumed and any attack after that made me a sitting duck.
In a split second the entire Flood came at me like a tsunami, little balloons leaping, more pod sack swelling to blow. 'Stuff you Arbiter' I mentally cursed and switched to shotgun as the bellies burst and the blast struck my shield, klaxons going mad as the alert went into overload. My face was full of wriggling feelers, my back heavy as they sought an opening. I pulled the trigger, a great cone of shredded spore sacks sent little mites whirled thick in the air, followed by a wave of flame feeding back at me. The heat wave hit me and I was falling.
It seemed that I was falling for longer then the floor. The bladder must have burst
I was falling deeper into the Halo. I thrashed to get the little buggers still plastered to me as I struck a fleshy wall, the tunnel was curving. I whipped out the Energy Sword and thrust it in the wall
what could it hurt? It slowed me, though it whined extremely loudly at the power drain, and I eventually ceased my slide.
Staggering with the slope, thrusting my sword into the flesh floor if the slip started again, I found myself at the lip of a drop. Eww
maybe I shouldn't have referred to the tunnel opening as a 'lip'. The mouth double eww of the tunnel dropped into a 'larger than the previous cavern' cavern. A glowing lake was beneath me, filling the cavern, bloated Unggoy floated in the sludge
Ahh, there's the missing Spuds.
In the exact centre, approximately, of the cavern was a set of consoles. Metal blades stuck up from the goo, holographic readouts scrolling up and down screens. Between the consoles was a mass, a big lump of cancer with tentacles protruding into the metal surfaces. It twisted around and looked up at me with an Unggoy head wearing a crown
looks like King Spud never made it to the Elevator.
"DEMON" it hissed at me and the lake of gunk came alive. Unggoy forms started jumping up out of the slime, none could reach me but some were reaching the walls and then scurrying like spiders towards me. I looked back up the fleshy tunnel
'Could I possibly climb it?' I thought just as a gust of wind came whooshing down the tunnel
something big was coming rushing down the tunnel. Great, a Motivator
I felt like a Wipeout contestant (cheque's in the mail ABC)!
"Those consoles will have the codes and programs to self-destruct the Halo," piped in Cortana. "Get me down there, Master Chief."
I dove into the ooze, Energy Sword first, and instantly claws were raking my MJOLNIR. I thrust my way in the general direction on the Proto-King Spud.
Guard! Turn! Parry! Dodge! Ha! Thrust! I fought my way to the computer terminal through the Grunt-infested muck. I found a smooth metal edge and dragged myself up over the edge and face to face with the Unggoy formerly known as King Spud.
"Master Chief," it slurred. "Demon
" Vivid memories of Captain Keyes assaulted me
The pain and blasphemy the Flood have caused
The disgrace they forced upon Jacob
Cortana sprung into being. "Won't be a sec, my hero," promised Cortana.
I turned and booted in the head of an ugly climbing up behind me. They would pay; every single little spore would suffer as Captain Keyes did. I no longer had the Energy Sword, lost in the gunk. Good, Shotty time! (All I needed now was to replace one hand with a chainsaw!)
The M90 Shotgun came free into my hands and I pegged one out of the air in mid-leap. The weapon made beautiful music. Click-Boom a dozen times and then the held breath of anticipation as I plugged rounds back in chamber from my belt pouch. (Now, where did that belt pouch come from?)
King Spud just watched nonchalantly, occasionally muttering, but unable to disconnect itself from the terminal.
"Ten minutes 'til self-destruct, Master Chief," warned Cortana. "There's an exit just over your left shoulder. I'll let Arbiter know where to meet us."
The charge was frantic, life balanced on a knife edge, just the way I like it. I threw myself through an open bell door, beating the Flood spawn back, slamming and sealing the door while they were still grasping me. Arbiter stood up behind me and stuck a flaming torch into a several arm at my feet, burning it to ash. I noticed that he didn't have my Assault Rifle but mention it because he just would have thrown away it, being inferior human toys.
"The drone states that infestation of this area poses minimum risk to me" intoned Arbiter. "It has kindly allowed me to reside."
"Six minutes to the Halo tears itself apart. We need to get back to the Balaho's surface so Sparky can transport us," informed Cortana. "You can't be transported from the Halo, Master Chief. It's complicated."
We began to jog back to the Elevator. Coming over a ridge we looked down into the mist, forms were emerging.
"By the Prophets," swore Arbiter. "I know Unggoy breed fast but how many did they have on this Halo?"
About a million infected Unggoy lurched in the blood-red misty valley. Well eight-hundred and seven four thousand odd, but it might well have been a million.
"Uh, Sparky," radioed Cortana. "We may need some assistance
"I regret this greatly, Cortana," responded the drone. "The rift that I will open will be unstable, being a bit large then a belt pouch full of shotgun shells you told me send earlier, Cortana. The unstable rift will need to be closed by a large explosion."
"Will the multiple explosions of a Halo blasting the Flood back to the Dark Ages be sufficient?" asked Cortana, I could hear her eyes rolling in her tone.
"Judging from my calculations," replied 343 Guilty Spark, "the destruction of Halo should be sufficient."
A bright light burst before us, a searing pain that didn't cease. My eyes adjusted to see a shape in front of the glare. A M8088 Main Battle Tank, more commonly known as the Scorpion. Its massive 90mm High Velocity Cannon that fire tungsten armour-piercing ballistic-capped rounds at incredible speed and its cuddly 7.62mm AP-T (armour-piercing tracer) medium machine gun. If I was every reincarnated into something non-living, this would be second the list. First place has something to do with Cortana's clothing
"The main gun's mine, Demon," bagged Arbiter. "If you wanted it you should have spoke up sooner," he chuckled.
I jumped it and linked to driver control, wrapping my hand lovingly around the machinegun's handles. Let's punch it.
We shot forward and my machine gun came to life
maybe not so non-living
and the Flood were cut into very small pieces. Arbiter blasted and the ground, and several Flood parts, flew into the air. We crunched over inert infected as we charged but the stream seemed endless. Every one I shot two more filled it place, they were swarming up the tank. The main cannon had fallen silent. Arbiter had vanished. I linked into the cannon control and blasted, seeing the Elevator out the corner of my eye. I punched an Unggoy zombie that was clawing its way in. Cortana was screaming in my ear. I heard the dreaded phrase 'ten seconds to go' and something about the rift expanded out of control. Bright stars erupted as segments of the Halo began to float away. The Scorpion was being tipped over by a mass of bodies. I was floating free of gravity, using shotgun blasts to propel me towards the purple glow of the faltering Elevator. A strange expanding rift tugged at my legs, stretching like a piece of taffy. The Elevator pulse pulling down, then shutting off and floating me off into space
. Lots of floating
A light pierced my soul
"Welcome back, Reclaimer," monotoned 343 Guilty Spark. "Let's get to the next planet shall we."
I lay on the black altar in the ever expanding room. I didn't think my legs worked. Luckily my shotgun had gone or I would have made my arms work and had some improvement done to Sparky, mainly reducing him to dust.
My suit had several errors flashing on my visuals. I might be a genetically engineered super-solider but I wasn't Superman. If I was I'd met my kryptonite and gone twelve rounds with it and it had found my glass jaw!
"Please stay still on the table, Reclaimer," ordered Spark. Jolts of static electricity dance up and down my frame. My brain flashed black and blue and red. I drag myself up in panic.
My error messages had vanished. I held up my arms for inspection. My suit was perfect. No claw marks, no plasma burns, no stretch wrinkles from being half dragged through a rift
"Well, Demon," stated Arbiter, as always sneaky up on me. "Let's go visit the Jackals
Purity: A Halo Novel Pt. 4
Date: 31 December 2009, 12:12 pm
4: CHAPTER THREE
EAYN, KIG-YAR HOMEWORLD, 800 AD
Matter transport is always a kick
a kick in the guts. I shimmered on top of a mountain peak. A great mountain range that curved off in all directions, below the massive peaks clouds brewed, stormy and dark. The orange-tinged dark blue sky beheld a large orb, from my previous history class, it was the planet Chu'ot.
"This is pretty, my love," Cortana teased. "Maybe we could return on our next holiday
On the horizon the Halo peeked over, check.
"This way, Demon," stated Arbiter. "We are easy targets here." He began lopping along a ledge, a Brute Shot cradled in his arm. "The Banshee factory is not far
Banshees? Huh? We're on the Jackals' homeworld
home of pirates and the flightless birds! We'll I suppose oceans could be below those clouds and I suppose the Kig-Yar would away yearn for their lost flight.
"Just another glance at the equality within the Covenant." Cortana was beginning a sermon. "The Unggoy develop plasma technology and then the Plasma Rifle and the Sangheili prohibit them on religious grounds; the Kig-Yar built Banshees and the Sangheili ban them from flight. No wonder the 'lesser' races despise the taller races, not to mention the pacifistic Huragok advances in understanding of the Forerunners and Yanme'e antigravity discoveries."
Her voice droned on as a wife's would and I looked at the rocky range, jogging.
The mottled slopes of the metal-ore rich peaks beheld many nooks and crannies, ample hiding spots for the Jackals. Little saplings eked their way out of the ore thick ground near the dense clouds, these branchless trunks probably suck their moisture from the fog, straggling for sunlight, and larger trunks thrust out further in the mist, better established and most like what the Kig-Yar would make their pirate boats from.
Tiny little furballs darted between the main feature, which was rocks. Pale, yellow tinged jagged boulders; mottle green stones; orange flecked with purple rocks
and this one just turned suddenly to dust
I then hear the 'psst-yeow' of a Particle Beam Rifle!
I turned my head, raising my M6G Magnum pistol and enhancing the scope until I saw a Jackal lying on its stomach, an arm angled so its personal energy shield cover its top half and the rifle sticking out from under the half-dome.
I considered switching to the Sniper Rifle that Guilty Spark supplied me with but I would be hard pressed to find a weak point in the Jackals placement. I blinked and the Jackal was gone, it must have slipped back into crevice
this could get annoying.
"There is no point stopping. Your shield will protect you, Demon," Arbiter told me. "It is highly unlikely that two beams will hit you before your recharge." He suddenly dropped to his knees and thrust his arm into a gap in the rocks and dragged out a thrashing Kig-Yar. The thing was holding a Plasma Pistol in its three finger talon; I could hear the pistol hum as the Jackal overcharged it, batting Arbiter with its energy shield as a distraction. I think the Sangheili was trying to force his Brute Shot's barrel into the Kig-Yar's beak.
I stepped forward to yell a warning about the overcharging pistol when Arbiter flexed his arm, snapping the Jackal's neck and then tossing the corpse off the cliff into the clouds below. The pistol discharged harmlessly into the air.
"Ha ha, Neeka, may the Prophet take you," called Arbiter and spat blue-tinged phlegm after the Kig-Yar. Gee, I love hanging with a psychopath!
A few more 'pings' from hidden Jackal, even the occasional 'phhe-ting' from some Carbine Rifle. The standard Plasma Pistol shots didn't bother us but overcharged Plasma Pistol were our main concern, these meant that a Jackal was close and a full charge might blast us off the mountain! While scanning all direction I also watched the Halo lifting higher in the sky as we traveled.
We soon came around a peak of a precipice and we saw a leveled section. Steel girder platforms spanned a high basin. Buildings were haphazardly placed on the decking, energy shield roof, doors and the occasional wall hummed. Snipers bunker pocked the surrounding peaks.
We hear the whine as we saw a Banshee descending out of the dark sky. It was smaller then the standard Sangheili Banshee but I could see the bones of what it would become. Five more quickly swooped into towards us and began firing, twin Plasma Pistols mounted on each arm. Ducking back, I blasted with my Magnum.
As always Arbiter was more direct, raising his Brute Shot he exploded the half dozen from the sky, and I think he only fired four shots!
We leaped down the cliff face, pouncing onto the metal platform. Swarms of Kig-Yar came pouring out, defending their facility of flight. The Kig-Yar maybe cowards but this facility most likely was the only way they could become airborne, the reclaim their flight.
Arbiter was just swinging the Brute Shot's massive blade on its butt, dismembering any Jackals that got within his elongated arms reach. Occasionally he would blast a shot when he heard the whine off a Plasma Pistol charging. I followed in his wake, loosening a shot at a Jackal that Arbiter had decided as no threat. He had a single Energy Sword strapped to his back either 343 Guilty Spark couldn't get another sword or Arbiter was rubbing in the fact that I had lost the other - but he would rather decapitate the Jackals with the thick blade.
We tread over the corpses and came to a door that was just an energy shield. Arbiter slapped a Plasma Grenade to the domed door and slightly turned - he even slightly slowed his step as it exploded. In through the doorway, we jumped over a balcony, landing amongst the assemble line of the Banshees. A group of Banshee 'scientists' looked up at us.
"What is this?" said a scientist; purple tattoos marking the Kig-Yar's face and arms. "First your great ring transmits these blueprints for this magnificent flying vessel and now you want to destroy them and us!"
Arbiter paced forward, bored, he raised his arm, ready to snap another neck.
I didn't pause to think I just struck the Sangheili from behind, my shoulder driving him into a half assembled frame, it must have had an electrical current running through it because he flashed with lightning and was thrown backwards. He then collapsed in a smoldering lump.
"I will not attack the unarmed." I stated, just as three simultaneous overcharged pistol shots hit me and I hit blackness.
My awakening were not a good one. I was suspended above a chasm in a cage of thin metal bars and the floor of a molecule thick energy shield. No, not the best, nor was the fact that I shared it with Arbiter, slumped and luckily still unconscious.
"I wouldn't like to be you, Master Chief," joked Cortana, "when Arbiter wakes."
Hopefully the energy field would be switch off the before then!
"Oh, by the way," continue Cortana, "I can't reach Sparky, must be the proximity of Banshee assembly line causing interference. You know, all that machinery and what not. I can't imagine how the Kig-Yar are able to cope with the Forerunners technology. Most of the Covenants great advances have been stolen, or sent perhaps, from the Forerunners. Why do you think names like Banshee, Wraith and Ghost are chosen? It's some bad pun from an invisible race.
"Anyway, I hope I can reach Sparky before we fall too far
OK, time to escape. I grabbed the bars and was jolted back. Nope not that way! Unfortunately the jolt had also woken up Arbiter.
"DEMON!" Arbiter does a good King-Spud-as-a- zombie impersonation (see previous chapter). He sprang to his feet, bashing his head against the ceiling and jolting himself. Eek, from bad to worse.
Luckily he was interrupted by a voice shouting at us. "Please explain, Aliens." A xenophobic Kig-Yar stood a few metres from us on a cliff edge, bellowing. It held Particle Beam Rifle traced on us, its personal force shield covering most of its form partially shielded with us in a cage, this must be a brave Jackal! "Tell us of the band in the sky, why is it that you give us our greatest wish to fly then descend to slay us? We will never submit to a hierarchy, no matter how advanced, we are Kig-Yar."
"Cortana," muttered Arbiter, "do what you do."
"No probs, Oppressor," quipped Cortana. Arbiter growled. 'Don't poke the bear', I muttered, the Sangheili glared into my golden visor. Best I keep silent
Cortana materialized beside the Jackal and several things happen at once. Firstly the force field beneath us vanished and be began our plummet; also several sniper rounds blurred through Cortana; and the air instantly filled with a score of Banshees.
I grabbed a bar, my arm spasmed with the current but I held on, my other hand grabbed Arbiter foot and I swung him - inverted - towards to ledge. My hand was slipping down to the bottom of the bar (it felt like a one-handed contest on a baseball bat to see who bats first), I got to the pointy end and my hand came loose. For a split second we were going sideways instead of down.
Arbiter tips of the fingers clipped the edge of the ledge and we pivoted downwards, slamming into the cliff's metal face. I quickly used Arbiter as a ladder and got myself up and over, spinning and pulling him with me. The Snipers were now using us for target practice, my shield was nothing and the particles were boring through me. Arbiter took a few hits and his purple blood was spattering onto the deck.
Cortana had flared into a bright red Mgalekgolo, drawing fire as she did her best hulking Hunter impression, a giant bipedal spikey terror.
A thought then occurred to me
with my friends' skills maybe I could go into a holodrama business
then another thought occurred
I must be losing a lot of blood.
We managed to slug our way to some shelter and Cortana beamed back inside my head.
"I've done an extensive scan and I know where your weapons are located," she told us. "I didn't spend my time sleeping like you guys." Arbiter growled.
She signaled the local and we sped off. Luckily the path was mostly shielded by buildings and after some quick dashes and some more sniper hits, I really didn't mind that Arbiter snapped a few necks along the way.
We eventually came to a Market. Yes, a market. The entire Kig-Yar militia was chasing us, and we had to stop to shop. Well, technically we were tourists.
Our position was elevated so we perused into the streets. The Kig-Yars were packed in thick, haggling. Everything you could think of was on display and a few things you could think of too!
We walked down into the throng as wares were flung into our view. We may have been aliens straight out of a war zone but commerce did not judge.
Old crone Jackals shook their strange fruits or furballs on metal skewers at passerbys. Hunched forms tinkered with small objects, vast arrays of jewelry or trinkets displayed on boards in front of them. Soldiers stood on street corners, eyeing everyone, strangely with small purple flags in each hand, yet unstrangely Plasma Pistol at their waists. Unplumed Kig-Yars danced on tall crates, a leash and chain around their necks and attached to a pudgy sleaseball.
"Most of your weapons are over at that junk shop," stated Cortana. "We will obtain them and then focus on the acquisition of your Sniper Rifle, Master Chief. We'll definitely need it when we assault the Eayn Halo."
The junk shop had a bargain bin of hand guns in front of it. Plasma pistols of many shapes and sizes; hand crossbows; ballistic guns with plasma explosion mechanism; sawn-off Carbine Rifles with enlarged barrels; and my M6G Magnum pistol. I suppose once the rounds ran out it would only be a lump of alloyed titanium
I picked it up, puzzling why was it still loaded. Wasn't the shop owner worried about theft? I looked around and saw various glints of snipers positioned in advantageous points, then I realized that none of the Kig-Yars had their personal shield on. The shields must be banned from the market and a would-be thief would never know when a sniper bead was trained on him. An effective anti-theft procedure.
The owner came out already talking his sales pitch, he was absently twirling a small bright purple flag, brighter then his vibrant yellow plumes. "Yes, yes, very good choice. Very fine for a great warrior as you. You kill many with this fine piece. Yes, new to my shop, very new. New innovation, one of a kind, very rare. Yes, good price for you, very good. You do have money, no?" It plumes stood up at this question, an imitating of a question mark.
I stood there stunned trying to decipher his question, wondering why his small flag was waving so close to the side of my head. Arbiter smoothly slid between us.
"I have money, Neeka," Arbiter spat. "I will purchase the toy gun for my companion. I will also require the large canon and sword of plasma that you would have obtained in the same purchase."
"Tut, tut," the Kig-yar replied. "The pistol may be purchased for a good fee now but the other two you mentioned are collector items. They will be auction at my next available chance. If you leave your contact details and, say, a deposit of 100 granars I will be able to inform you of the schedule for the afore mentioned auction."
Arbiter hands clenched. His last speech must have been the most he's ever 'negotiated' in his life, it went way beyond anything the Sangheili culture every allowed. Were my scruples wearing off on Arbiter? Fat chance!
The Kig-Yar merchant flag waving had slowed close to Arbiter's head, almost stopping their flutter. That bothered me.
Arbiter breathed. "Perhaps, we could discuss it within your shop. We are pressed for time, perhaps you have seen the giant Halo encircling your sky. The canon we can compensate for, I imagine it would not be that sort after and the sword can be overlook." Arbiter bit his tongue and waited. Did they have valium for Sangheili? Had he taken the whole box?
The Jackal held the moment just to be dramatic enough then said, "As you wish, Elite." He turned and re-entered his shop.
Arbiter paused at the title. Coincidence? I wonder. Maybe it has a different meaning for the Kig-Yar
I flipped my Magnum and we entered the shop.
Any thoughts for an ambush on the shop owner were quickly dashed. (Maybe that's why Arbiter was being so subtle.) The only difference between outside and inside was that inside had less cover. No roof, spaced out benches, and no throng of the shoppers. They must switch on a force field roof for when it rains! If it rains
Old Yellow Plume led to a small shielded box, he phased it off and pulled out Arbiter's Brute Shot. Our grenades also lay in the there and Arbiter nodded at those. The merchant complied and packed them onto bench with one hand, his other still fluttering the flag lazily - did have a nervous twitch?
Arbiter then unhooked a small pouch that was attached to his waist and placed it in front of the merchant. The merchant nodded then the flag stopped right in front of Arbiter's face.
'Psst-yeow' sounded in triplicate. Arbiter was already under a bench when the Sniper shot ricocheted of my helmet. I dropped and Arbiter tipped the table over as beams burn into it. The Brute Shot clumped into the ground while the grenades just rolled everywhere.
"Cortana," yelled Arbiter. "Where is my Glory?"
"Behind the back wall," she replied, "but considering - "She was interrupted as the back wall was blaster out by Brute Shot and Arbiter leaping through the dust.
I charged after Arbiter, skimming up what grenades I could along the way. We dove into the back room as soldiers were bursting in the front. The room was adorning with swords, ceremonial and functional. Metal broad blades hung with the needle-point crystalline stilettos; curved force shield based polearms were mounted with a harden-ceramic, holed and canister hilted flame cudgel; a modified Particle Beam Rifle with a barrel that resembled a groove sat along side Arbiter's Energy Sword. Pay dirt!
Milliseconds later, Arbiter strapped on his 'Glory' and blasted out the next back wall, which led to a steep cliff face, down.
Now I had fallen quite a few times in my years (most ended in a quick respawn (try not to think of that in a story format, it will mess with yer head)) but that drop through the clouds would have more then just my arms flailing.
I turned back and grabbed the modified Particle Beam Rifle off the wall just as the owner came through the hole flanked by many soldiers overcharging their Plasma Pistols. The Jackal merchant hissed at me, his plumage erect and angry. I flipped the switch on the clunky rifle and a beam shot out into the merchant's gut, no, not a shot but a continuous blade. The energy blade thrummed, bucking as if alive. I swept left trying to control it and the beam burnt a line in the wall and beyond. I swung right and scorched another line. The unusual weapon then shut off, it was out of charge. I dropped it and walked back into the shop, Magnum leading, and for some reason I found my self humming a bars from Ray Parker Jnr classic 'Ghostbusters' or was it Huey Lewis and the News song 'I Want A New Drug' (now you can't possibly get a more obscure pop-culture reference then that!) .
The owner and soldiers were sliced in half, smoldering messes on the floor. The shop front was scarred and burnt.
I walk out into the street and all the shoppers were dead, likewise sliced and diced (like a Ginsu Knife (well, possibly more obscure)). Buildings burnt spasmodically, probably where something flammable was struck. The occasional dancing girl writhed on the ground, her crate being tall enough to save her body but not her legs. A black line could be traced along the mountain face where the beam blade had sliced it.
The carnage look like Godzilla had just battle Mothra
(and now I'm just reading names of the internet in my quest for obscurity, hey, hang on! I already have that!)
Arbiter brushed past my numb form. "Good work, Demon," he complimented. "It's good working with a psychopath." He chuckled. "A few less Neeka."
We walked silently. No Snipers fired upon us, perhaps our omnipotent wrath had scared them
Cortana told us that my Sniper Rifle was back at the Banshee Assembly. We walked uninhibited into the compound. My rifle was on a bench, various drawing had been taken from it. I pick it up, unconcerned with the drawings.
Arbiter had chosen two of the largest Banshees and was placing a mask over his face.
I slumped into one of them, hit the on switch and powered out the flight bay, hooking up towards the Halo.