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The Mind and the Master Part 4-The Monitor
Posted By: Cthulhu117<spartan_eric_271@yahoo.com>
Date: 18 November 2005, 10:03 pm

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Section Five-Quirky, My Ass

On Alpha Halo 04, there was, contrary to the Master's hopes, also a Monitor.

He was called 343 Guilty Spark. He had two personalities. When the Huragok had made him a hundred years before Halo 04 was completed, they had, to put it mildly, screwed up. Badly.

Making an AI is not in itself a difficult thing for a Huragok, but it's just that there are a thousand places where you can make a mistake. For example, the algorithm that governed a Monitor's personality had a space left for multiple personalities. It wasn't difficult for even a Huragok to make an error in the personality quantity without noticing it. The one that had created 343 had made just such an error.

One of the Monitor's personalities was perky and irritatingly user friendly. The other was demented. It hated the Forerunners for ordering it to be brought into being and being too careless to notice its flaws, damning it to an eternity of insanity.

Since Installation 04 had been completed over two thousand years ago, the Monitor had been sitting in Halo's Library and muttering to himself, and, on occasion, his Sentinels. When they would listen. Which they never did.

But Guilty Spark didn't care. As long as it didn't distract him from his hatred of his makers, it was fine by him. Well, half of him.

"The Forerunners hated us. They wanted us to suffer like this. They had created our hell for us and put us in it."

"No! The Forerunners care about us! They honored us by putting us in such an important place."

"Important! A place we can never leave? A place where there is nothing to do but what they tell us to do? If that was an honor, we hope we never see a punishment!"

The Monitor had no idea that the Forerunners might ever use the Halos. He had simulated over three thousand Halo-firings without ever actually believing he'd need to practically apply this.

He paused in his constant mutterings to note that life forms were arriving on the ring. He recognized their lifesigns. The Forerunners had called them Flood. They were coming to the rings, just as his orders had told him that they would.

But one of the lifesigns wasn't Flood. It wasn't even Sangheili, the mighty servants of the Forerunners. It was a Reclaimer.

Until now, the Monitor had only told his Sentinels to trap the parasites in containment centers. But a Reclaimer was an emissary of the Forerunners, and he didn't want anyone reporting his insanity to his creators.

So he decided to kill the Reclaimer. His perky half insisted that he couldn't, he had to prepare for the ring's activation, and that he had to clean up the Flood so that the Reclaimer would not have to fight for his life. He paid it no attention until he realized it was right. His programming did not allow him to kill the Reclaimer personally, and he knew that any Reclaimer could easily overwhelm his Sentinels.

However, there was a vast supply of slavering zombies arriving on the ring every second. They would be more than happy to do his dirty work for him, however unwittingly.

He quickly adjusted the plan of the Index retrieval to suit his goal. He would bring the Reclaimer into the Library to be overwhelmed by the Flood, rather than straight to the Index. If the Reclaimer died, Spark would take the Index himself and activate Halo, regardless of protocol. If not, he would activate Halo with the Reclaimer quickly before the Reclaimer could figure out what Halo did.

He would do this. He could not fail.

Section 6-Fourth Floor: Reclaimers, AIs, Strange Lack of Flood

The Master hated teleportation. It made him sick, dizzy and entirely unfit for combat. Nevertheless, he was dropped into a war zone as soon as he arrived on Halo 04.

If this is less overrun with Flood than Gamma Halo, he thought, I shudder to think what Gamma Halo looks like by now. He used his Plasma Rifle to cook an unwary Combat Form. He looked around as he fought furiously. He was in a swamp. A swamp swarming with Flood. In the skies, his keen eyes pierced the foliage and fog to spot the Intangible Avenger emerging from slipspace overhead.

As he battled the Combat Forms with a rapidly dwindling supply of ammunition, a Monitor descended from the trees nearby with a slew of floating robotic warriors. The floating blue orb was apparently humming animatedly to itself.

"La da diii, la da da da dum," it mused loudly. "Ba bi da da da duuuum, la la la diiiii, da dum," it concluded its irritating ditty.

The Master was on the verge of shooting the thing. Here he stood, fighting innumerable hordes of parasitic beasts with the paltry help of the Sentinels' lasers, while the Monitor of Installation 04 floated there, composing an easy-listening tune.

It started as if noticing the Master for the first time. "Oh, hello!" it said even more loudly, and then returned to its mindless humming.

The Master could stand it no longer. "HEY!" he howled at the AI. It looked at him again and identified him.

"Ah, Reclaimer! I am glad you are here! The Flood is spreading! We must hurry to retrieve the Index so that we may activate Halo. The Index is in the heart of the Library, which is covered in Flood. This way, if you please."

The Master dissolved into golden vapor again. He rematerialized in the Library. From what he'd studied of the rings' layout, he wasn't anywhere near the Index that was required to activate the rings. Apparently, everyone was inadvertently placing him in harm's way today. First the mind had given him a gun with three shells in it. Now he'd have to fight his way through the Library. He couldn't count on the little AI for assistance; it was fairly obvious that Guilty Spark was...erm, mentally challenged.

He was running out of patience. He had no time for this.

On the back of his suit was an emergency thruster pack. When he had donned his armor, he had been told to never, ever use it unless he was prepared for pain and nausea.

Well, he told himself, he couldn't get much more nauseous than he already was. And activated the thruster pack.

With a thump, some sort of control stick slid out of his left gauntlet. It molded itself into the shape of his right hand. He pressed the red button on top of it.

There was a sonic boom as he shot straight up so fast that when he hit the ceiling, he kept going. The same thing happened at the next ceiling, and the next, and the next. The thruster pack didn't peter out until he hit the roof of the facility. He found himself near an elevator that had a huge bluish-green energy beam shooting through it.

The small AI flitted up through the hole he had made and tsked. "That was inefficient, Reclaimer," he pronounced. "You could have asked me first before wreaking unimaginable devastation on my facility." It did not seem unduly worried, despite what it said.

"The Index is down there, at the bottom of the elevator shaft. When you reach the bottom floor, the energy field guarding it will deactivate," it continued.

The Master looked askance at the AI. "Why aren't there any Flood here?" he asked the Monitor.

"The Flood are too occupied with my Sentinels to cause much trouble," Spark responded. "But more importantly, even the Flood are unable to jump through the hole that you created. That floor was titanium manganate, Reclaimer. You are quite durable! Hee, hee, hee, hee!" he admonished the bemused Master.

The Reclaimer was a little bit creeped out to be nearby Guilty Spark, so he walked to the elevator. It began to descend as soon as he walked onto it. As he reached the ground floor, he noticed a luminous green object int he elevator's center. It was the Index. He took it and stared at it for a second, before it was sucked by a xaser beam into the innards of the Monitor.

"Hey!" barked the Master. "Give me that back!"

The Monitor was evidently surprised. "Reclaimer, protocol dictates that I must transport the Index to the Control Room."

The Master knew that the AI was right, but he didn't want to trust Spark with anything that was even mildly important.

Then he teleported again, and the Library dissolved before his eyes. He knew then that they were headed for the control room of Alpha Halo.