The Mind and the Master
Posted By: Cthulhu117<email@example.com>
Date: 23 October 2005, 3:41 pm
The mind hung in its antigrav bubble on the bridge of the vast cruiser and watched as the Yanme'e workers toiled ceaselessly at the fortress-world in the void below.
He watched in satisfaction; the construction of the rings was going well. For over 690,000 local years, the slave races had worked painstakingly on the rings that they so foolishly believed to be imbued with divine power. The man snorted in disgust. There was no divinity in the universe that he knew. There was only truth, untruth and the gray area composed of both.
He was momentarily distracted from his observations by the arrival of one of the higher-ranking slave races. He studied the creature quickly. It was one of the rodent-like creatures that the Sangheili called the Prophets: emissaries from the divine and messengers from the Leaders themselves. He was always disgusted by their rank, meaty smell and their limited minds. Yet they were the only one of the slave races that he could relate to.
They were not so cowardly as the Unggoy, not so savage as the Kig-Yar, and not so mindlessly destructive as the Lek'golo. But they were still narrow-minded, foolish creatures.
He turned back to the creature as it spoke, glad it could not comprehend his look of disgust. Its sibilant voice further contributed to his loathing of the thing.
"The construction goes well, my lord. Soon, if all goes well, this ring, the last of the seven that the gods commanded us to build, will be ready."
"And it will go well, Hierarch," pronounced the mind. "If it is not ready within the next five rotations of the world, then my superiors-and myself as well-will be most displeased."
He saw the unabashed terror in the thing's eyes. He reveled in it. He hated them. He hated all of the slave races. He wished that he had never been forced into contact with these undeveloped races. He hated the parasite for causing the construction of the rings to commence.
It had been untold ages since his race had dared to venture outside their own galaxy. They had the technology to, and they had no fear of the unknown. The only thing they feared was the parasite. On their grandest exploration of what lay beyond their own territory, they had encountered it. The creatures you could kill and watch as they returned to the assault. The things that crawled, walked, leapt and killed. The things that had even infected his own race, building sinister Graveminds on their stronghold-worlds.
He had always hated them worse than anything else. For all their technology, his race simply couldn't hold out forever against the Flood. The plasma blades that they'd developed recently were destroying the Flood faster than any other weapon they'd ever employed, but it was still too slow to stave them off permanently.
And so they had built the rings. For eons the slave races had worked on them, and they were nearing completion now, but they were still too slow and laborious to build. They could not construct enough to wipe the universe clean of this parasitic abomination.
He wheeled around, irritated. The Hierarch was still standing there.
"What?" he spat furiously.
"There is a...slight matter...regarding the rings," said the Prophet quietly. "We don't know how to activate the pulse."
"Pulse?" queried the mind. If only the thing would stop wasting his time.
"The purpose of the rings, lord. The reason they were built."
"Oh," said the mind. "You don't need to know. The Reclaimers will go through the process with the Monitors if the need should arise."
"Is that wise, my lord? The Reclaimers have been known to have rather unstable loyalties in the past."
"Get out of my sight," hissed the mind.
The Prophet scurried to obey.
"And on the way out, send in the Reclaimer leader."
"The-the Master, lord?"
"Yes, idiot. And hurry."
The Master lay in the cryo-freeze tube that had been prepared for him when he came on board. His dreams had ended, but he had not yet been thawed out.
He pondered how long it had been since he saw another one of his species. The Reclaimers, his race was called. But only by the Forerunners. That name was an old Reclaimer invention. The Reclaimers, the command and combat race of the Forerunners.
Nobody else called the Forerunners by this name. They did not dare. The Reclaimers did. The Forerunners could not punish them. They weren't expendable in the same way as the Unggoy, or even the Sangheili.
They were rare enough already. So many of his soldiers had died fighting the Flood. The Forerunner technology protected them better these days, but they had never been very numerous as a race.
His cryo-tube slid open. A Prophet was standing there. Squinting, he recognized it as a Hierarch-the Prophet of Regret. Like his masters, he detested the slave races. He wrinkled his nose as their stench, knowing that his helmet's faceplate would hide him from the Prophet's gaze. He sealed his helmet, unwilling to suffer their musty odor.
"What does the Commander want?" he asked the Prophet. No one but the Commander had authority to disturb a Reclaimer.
"Don't ask me. He just told me to fetch you!" There was an edge of panic in the creature's face.
The Master sighed and rose from the tube to head to the bridge, if only to pacify the Commander. Or perhaps, for something more important. He knew that the rings were almost complete.
He stopped himself. It wasn't his job to think. It was his job to obey the Forerunners. And he would do his job to the best of his ability, whatever the cost might be.