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Tha Arbiter: A New Take On An Old Friend
Posted By: Aleks G.<haloaleks1992@hotmail.com>
Date: 24 February 2007, 3:55 am

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"When you first saw Halo, were you blinded?" Truth questioned the zealot, and his hover chair bobbed as he waved his arm to his head.
"Blinded?" The zealot questioned.
"Paralyzed, dumbstruck?" the prophet clarified his words.
"No..." the elite stretched his response, and anger crept into his voice, how could they be accusing him for what the demon had done to the Sacred Ring?
"And yet…" Mercy interrupted his thoughts, "you managed to let the humans land on the sacred ring, and desecrate it with their filthy foot steps!"

The Zealot remembered the event like it happened moments ago, A lone human ship had tore out of slip-space directly beside the Sacred Ring and started shooting, it killed four of his ships and took heavy damage when it crashed on the ring. He refused to fire on it with any heavy weapons, for fear of damaging Halo. His decision to do so, however, ended up in its total destruction. He was being tried for heresy, and nothing he could say would change the council's decision. He was brought back to total consciousness by Tartarus' deep voice;
"You've drawn quite a crowd." the elite looked at the masses piled on the dozens of floors, ready to watch him be punished, and tried to force his hands from the energy bracelets he had been pinned to. Grunts, jackals, elites, brutes and hunters all shouted at him, condemning his heretic soul to hell, and threatening his place in the great journey.
"If they came to hear me beg, they will be disappointed." The elite was stricken by his own bravery, and even Tartarus seemed impressed, even if for a moment. The massive brute then cocked an eyebrow and asked the elite "are you sure?"

A hissing noise attracted the elites attention, he looked to his right and saw a glowing red light emanating from the claw-like pedestals he was pinned to, at about the height of his chest. Another light appeared on his left, and the beams joined together at the centre and burned his body, heat and pain flared through his body. He reflexively struggled and reared his head back to scream. The intense pain had not prepared him for what was next though, and he weakly watched as a long spire slid out of the platform he stood on. Tartarus grabbed the weapon, and faced the blunt end toward the injured elite, the red glow from the tree-trunk sized weapon indicated it was hot, and Tartarus took pleasure from every moment of suffering he inflicted on the elite.

Two brutes came from either side, released the elite from the energy cuffs, and removed his golden armor with force, not even taking the time to release any of the dozens of clasps holding it together; instead they snapped them in half. The elite had lost consciousness during his vicious de-crowning and he floated in a free world for the longest time, images of halo, and the battle on its surface flashed through his mind. He remembered the flood, and shuddered when he saw his partner Akre 'Sunafumee get engulfed by a horde of infection forms, and then having to kill him as it tried to attack him.

He came to staring at the deep purple floor sliding beneath him. He glanced down at his feet dragging on the ground, then looked up to see two brutes dragging him, and Tartarus leading them, one brute complained about carrying the elite.
"How much further must we heft this baggage? Any cell will do." The other brute pointed to a cell full of jackals, they squawked and reached through the bars.
"Why not toss him in with this lot? They could use the meat."
"Quiet," Tartarus groaned, "he's not meant for the jails, the hierarchs have something… special in mind." A door moaned a warning signal as it opened behind him. The brutes dragged the elite's lifeless body onto the gravity lift and lowered to the floor below. The former zealot glanced at the high structure the brutes were carrying him to, and instantly recognized what it was. "Noble prophets of Truth and Mercy," Tartarus greeted the prophets waiting in the tall structure, "I have brought the incompetent"
"You may leave Tartarus." Truth spoke with a smooth voice that echoed off the walls of the mausoleum.
"But… I thought-" Tartarus tried to object.
"And take your brutes with you" the prophet ordered.
Tartarus groaned ordered his brutes to release the elite, and then left with them.
The prophet moved toward the elite, now on his hands and knees. "The council decided to have you hung by your entrails and your corpse paraded through the city, but ultimately the terms of your demise are up to me. But we know you are no heretic, this is the true face of heresy…" the prophet touched a button on his hover-chair and a small hologram of an elite appeared on the armrest.
The hologram spoke: "our prophets are false, open your eyes my brothers, you leap into a faith that will bring ruin to us all, the great journey is a-"
The prophet stopped the hologram recording. "This heretic… and those who follow him… must be silenced," his voice tightened.
Mercy added his own comment to the heretic leader's comments,

"This slander offends all who fight to uphold the covenant"
But I can no longer command ships- lead troops into battle" the elite commented, bewildered as to how he could manage such a task.
"But as you are… do you know where we are?" The prophet asked.
"The mausoleum of the arbiter" the elite answered, still on his knees.
"Here rests the vanguard of the great journey," the prophet spoke as he turned to hundreds of sealed coffin doors on the walls, all with glowing red lamps on their surfaces, "every Arbiter from first to last, created and concealed in times of extraordinary crisis." Mercy cut in again, his shrill voice made the elite cringe, "the taming of the hunters, the grunt rebellion, were it not for the arbiters, the covenant would have broken long ago" truth waved his arm and a pod lowered, then opened to reveal the suit of armor tailored for the arbiter.

The elite stood, and glanced at the prophets. "What of the council?"
Mercy's answer was grim, but true, "the tasks you must undertake as the arbiter are perilous, you will die, as each arbiter has before you, the council will have their corpse." The elite considered this; it was either death, or a slower death with as much combat he could cram in before then. Either way was a loss, but he hoped that the slower path would also offer an escape from the homicidal council and their blood-thirsty decision. He stepped towards the pod and retrieved the beak-like helmet, put it on, and turned to the prophets, "What would you have your Arbiter do?"