The Mind and the Master Part 2-The Intangible Avenger
Posted By: Cthulhu117<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 29 October 2005, 12:29 pm
Section 1: Rise and Shine
The Master hurried down the winding corridors of the Forerunner battle cruiser Intangible Avenger.
He didn't know what the mind controlling the ship wanted, but if a Reclaimer like himself was involved, you could bet it was important. He was certain, though, that it would have something to do with the Halos.
He knew a bit more the next second, though. There was a huge explosion that rocked the whole ship and a terrible scrape of metal from the ship's chassis. He knew what would happen next. He'd seen it all on the holovids, and what happened after it.
The Flood were on board.
He cursed. If the parasite learned that a Reclaimer was on board and brought that information back to their Gravemind, he'd have all the Flood in the sector heading after him. He didn't want that. He didn't even have a gun.
As he pushed through the ship to the bridge he saw with horror that the Flood were getting there first. If the Forerunner on the bridge was captured and turned into a hellish Gravemind, he wouldn't stand a chance, and neither would the Halos. The Flood could use a ship this size to destroy them easily.
He pushed past a cowering Unggoy crewman only to see three Infection Forms greedily devouring the screaming creature. A Sangheili down the hall howled in agony as a Combat Form snapped his backbone like a twig, yet got up again as the Flood infected him. He was interrupted from this pageant of terror by his arrival at the bridge.
The nerve center of the ship was in lockdown. The doors were shut, the blast doors were shut and the DNA forcefields that prevented Flood access were up as well. He was stymied. He looked at the security pad and entered his serial number-code: 04708792711. Although this clearly confirmed he was a Reclaimer, the mind obviously wasn't taking any chances. The doors stayed shut. He scowled, and punched through the door.
The regulator crystals in his suit were setting off alarms in his helmet as he stretched tham to their limits and tore through three feet of titanite bidruniavate. The door parted before his fury like a knfe before butter.
He stepped onto the bridge. The mind was still there. The Flood weren't. The mind turned around as he approached.
"My Lord," said the Reclaimer. Not out of respect or inferiority, neither of which he had much of, but out of sheer reverence for the mind. A wonderfully impressive creature. Even for a Forerunner, it was surpassingly intelligent.
"I am glad you are here, young Naij," came the voice of the mind. The Master shuddered. Naij. It was the Sangheili word for his kind. It meant, quite simply, "claims-again" or reclaimer. It was the root of his race's name, but it seemed crude coming from the lips of a Forerunner. Assuming they had lips, which he was pretty sure they didn't.
"What do you need me for?" asked the Master.
The mind paused for a second and then said, "Look at the ring below. It would be the perfect trap for the Flood, don't you agree? Trap them on there, and if they ever escape from the ring, there won't be anyone left there to stop us from activating the Halos and wiping them out."
"Yeah," said the Master slowly, "but there is one problem."
"And what would you call that?"
"The Flood aren't on the ring. They never were on the ring. They never will be on the ring. In fact, at the moment they are on the ship."
The mind seemed to sigh. "I know," it pronounced.
"So what happens now?" the Reclaimer wondered aloud.
It was a long time before the mind spoke. "Do you see this?" he said, showing the Reclaimer a strange shard of crystal.
"That looks like a slipstream field aggresor."
"It is the prototype," said the mind, half to himself. "The prototype of a new breed of them, that will be able to pass our knowledge on to those who come after.
"The Flood want it. They know that the coordinates of the Halos are recorded on it. Anyone who carries it will be pursued by the Flood for as long as they can chase him.
"So you see, the Flood will be on the rings."
The Master could scarcely believe his ears.
"I have to be Flood-bait?" he said incredulously.
When the mind spoke again, you could almost think it was smiling.
"No, Reclaimer. The shard is the bait. You are the hook."
Section 2: Make Way For the Shard
The Master was not pleased. If it weren't for the genetic modification that forced him to obey Forerunner commands, he might have flat-out refused. But he couldn't say no. So he didn't.
The Forerunner's long whiplike arms reached over to an armory rack. A plasma double-blade and a Reclaimer MX160 Shotgun were deposited in his arms.
"Standard anti-Flood armament," the mind said. "Besides, I happen to know you like the MX160."
It was at times like this that the Master smiled. He did so now, glad for the billionth time that the helmet concealed his emotions.
"Good luck," said the mind. "You'll want it."
And so the Master drew the shotgun, stepped through the hole he had made, and was immediately attacked by a trio of combat forms. He was glad he had loaded the shotgun on the bridge. He pulled the trigger. There was an incredible recoil and a earsplitting bang as a 4-gauge shell tore the Flood apart.
A lone Infection Form meandered toward him, so he quickly used his double-bladed plasma sword to hack the bodies up so they could not be reanimated.
He walked into the main recreation area and saw a Lek'golo warrior. Only it wasn't anymore. Some Flood had succeeded in controlling it. The Reclaimer quickly backpedaled, hoping it hadn't heard him.
But it had. He had no time to dodge as it leapt thirty feet to reach him and struck him a savage blow across the face, nearly breaking his neck. He went sailing through the air, coming to rest against a bulkhead, pasted to the wall upside down. He saw a heavy M34 AVB Rocket Launcher lying nearby. He dropped the Shotgun and hefted the launcher, but the Flood Hunter was too quick. It was upon him before he could fire, and the launcher was struck from his hands.
He fell to the deckplates, spitting blood into the inside of his helmet. The Flood Hunter stepped on him with one immense boot.
Any other living thing would have been crushed instantly by the 3500 pounds bearing its weight down on them. But the Master's type 12 armor was strong enough to protect him from instant death. Even so, the man could feel the breath being crushed out of him. Drawing the the plasma blades, he hacked three times at the beast's leg. The thing howled in torment before smashing the Master into the air once more and through an exercise bench.
The Flood Hunter had made a fatal error. It had knocked the man across the room, and landed him right on top of the M34 Rocket Launcher.
The Master got up, grinning mercilessly.
"Heads up, bastard," he spat through his bleeding mouth.
There was a hiss of air releasing.
There was an explosion.
A trail of Reclaimer footprints headed through the yellowish gore to the lifepods.
As the Master walked into the empty lifepod and plotted a course for the Halo beneath him, he was thankful that the lifepods were right next to the bridge.