The Codex: Chapter 1 - The Gathering Storm
Posted By: Dagorath<email@example.com>
Date: 5 October 2005, 2:00 pm
And lo! I saw within the ground a bole, and reaching up towards the misty sky three graceful horns, which rose up to a point. Beneath this silver dish there was a form of shapely metal, deep within the rock. Its mighty engines beat upon its face, forever powering its holy quest. In this metal fortress underground was housed the knowledge of its parent race: their ways, their words, their very way of life. For whomsoever finds this hallowed list, learn of all the ancients’ holy sites. From Ark to Homeworld to the Sacred Rings, the one who holds the Codex holds them all.
The Covenant Holy City of High Charity hung like a mighty jellyfish in the deeps of space. Massive cruisers drifted lazily about it, like tiny silvery fish. In the utter silence of space, nothing could be guessed of the political turmoil and backstabbing within the enormous structure.
A flight of Banshees circled outside the Sanctum of the Hierarchs, the main governmental building of High Charity. Inside, an Elite in golden armour was being interrogated on a dais.
“When did you receive this transmission?” a quavery voice asked. Its source came from a withered-looking Prophet on a high platform before him. To his right was a holographic Prophet, in like ornate dress. Behind was a figure, shrouded in shadows. On tiers of seats to either side, Elites and Prophets alike leaned in closer.
“I picked up the message just under a cycle ago. It was faint, but the message was clear. The Codex has revealed itself.”
“Why did you not report this until now?” the Prophet demanded.
“I sent scouts to investigate, but they found a human presence on the planet,” the Elite replied.
“And because of your rashness, the humans have been alerted to our presence,” the holographic Prophet scolded. He waved his semi-transparent arms. “Your failure borders on heresy.”
“I thought it necessary to act with haste –“
“You have not acted with haste but with recklessness!” the first Prophet yelled hoarsely.
“You were right to investigate the signal immediately,” said a voice. It came from the figure in the shadows. He was in fact a Prophet, in even more elaborate dress than the other two. His eyes glinted. Gliding forwards from between his fellows, he cut across the first Prophet smoothly. “However if the humans realise the importance of their accidental discovery, they could inflict incalculable damage upon its holy structure.”
“They will not,” the Elite announced. “Even now, my forces are poised to take the planet –“
The spectators on the tiers to either side shouted in disapproval. Looking up, the Elite saw the Council frowning shaking their fists at him.
“I have never wavered in the quest to fulfill our Covenant,” the Elite shouted over their voices. “I have never before failed the Council and I will not do so now.
“We will recover the Codex,” he announced to the Prophets before him.
“Prophet of Truth, silence this wretch,” the holographic Prophet whispered to the Prophet in the middle. “He has jeopardized everything –“
Truth raised his hand and the other broke off immediately. “The Covenant does not forget those who serve it faithfully,” he said softly. “Although your actions could have lead to catastrophe, your military prowess makes you indispensable to the Covenant.” He paused. “You have our blessing.”
The Elite turned round and saw two Brutes approaching to lead him off. He clacked his mandibles angrily and shook them off. As he padded towards the doors at the far end, he heard the Prophet’s voice again.
“But Praetor,” came Truth’s voice. “Do not fail us again.”
And the Elite was silent.
Over a beautiful planet not too far away from where the Praetor had been given his most important mission yet, two Spartans exchanged jokes on a mountain installation. Though exchange was not the right word.
“Well, I took the car,” said Blue 2, who was tall and wiry. “But by that time I only had one wheel left anyway.”
“What happened to the other three?” Blue 1 asked wearily. She was slightly shorter than the other and held her battle rifle in a rather bored way.
“One word,” said Blue 2, drawing two fingers across his visor in a “smile” gesture. “Needlers! ” He laughed loudly.
Blue 1 was completely silent.
There was a sound of footsteps. Blue 5 appeared round the corner, and both Spartans turned towards him. He cringed slightly, as though their joint attention was too much for him.
“Ah, sir?” he said. “I think there’s something you need to see.”
“What is it, Daniel?” Blue 1 asked tiredly.
“W – well,” Daniel stuttered, “well, I’m not sure, er, I don’t want to start a panic” – Blue 1 could see him wringing his hands - “machines do break“ - he laughed nervously - “you can’t always –“
“Daniel, what is it?” Blue 1 interrupted.
“The Slipspace scanner is showing that something massive just jumped in system,” Blue 5 stammered.
“Massive like what?” Blue 1 asked apprehensively, after a pause.
“Er, it’s roughly the same size as the Covenant fleet that attacked Reach,” the other replied.
“Where’s it headed?”
“Er, it’s holding in geosync orbit over the Olympia cave system.”
Blue 2 spoke up. “Isn’t that where Green Team’s stationed?” he asked.
Blue 1 swore. “Green Team,” she said over the COM system, “this is Blue Leader, do you copy? Jeff, respond! Hello?” She breathed out heavily. “Dammit,” she swore again.
“Delta Base,” she said, switching channels. “This is Blue Leader. We’ve discovered an incoming Covenant fleet holding orbit directly above Green Team’s position. Do you copy?”
“Copy that, I’ll tell the Chief,” a voice replied. “I think you guys oughta get back here.”
“Roger that,” Blue 1 replied. “Blue Team, pack up!” she shouted, raising her head. “We’re heading back down the mountain!”
Blue Team jumped at the command. As their commander cracked her fingers in anticipation, they loaded their weapons and ammunition onto their Warthogs before jumping on and twisting the ignition keys.
In two minutes flat, Blue Team had started down the mountain.
“Chief, this is Red 5. The Covenant invasion force has been detected in orbit,” the voice which had answered Blue 1 earlier on rasped across the COM channel. “I think the war just got here.”
“Roger that,” the Chief replied. He was much older and broader than the rest of the Spartans on the planet and had considerable knowledge on the battlefield. He had been famous for his military prowess in his earlier days – very famous – but somehow had gotten demoted and landed in this hellhole.
“Red Team, suit up!” the Chief yelled. “We’ve got incoming!”
The Spartans under his command fairly bounced to the armoury. They grabbed battle rifles and SMGs, shotguns and sniper rifles. Red 2, who was a born pyromaniac, grabbed a rocket launcher, or what the Spartans fondly called the “Spanker”.
Red Team jumped onto their Warthogs, while the Chief got lethargically into the Scorpion tank outside their base. As they set out, Red 2 hoped to finally succeed in his dream of blowing up a Covenant Battle Cruiser. The fleet orbiting above was pretty big, and his hopes were high. Many opportunities meant a high percentage of success.
The Chief wished to be once more hailed as a hero, as he was in ages past. This was the first time this corner of the galaxy had been assailed. Today might be his lucky day.
Unknown to the Spartans, the battle for the Codex had begun.
Author's Note: I have no idea why, but I really hated Blue 1's voice in this episode.