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Ascension: Chapter 5
Posted By: Dragonclaws<nogard@gmail.com>
Date: 5 June 2010, 7:55 am

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"No…" the High Councilor murmured. "I cannot accept it. Arbiter, surely you must recognize the lunacy of such a suggestion!"

"Believe me, High Council member," the Arbiter said, "No one weeps more than I at this prospect. But the evidence is solid and we must act. Oracle, tell us once more."

"The seven Fortress Worlds were designed by the Forerunners as potential offensive measures against the Flood," recited the Oracle. "When the parasite threatened to consume all my creators treasured, they activated the rings, killing all life forms in the galaxy with sufficient biomass to sustain the Flood."

"High Councilor," he said. "The Prophets tried to slay us all, and they may still succeed if we do not reach the Ark first."

"Arbiter," 'Setfethee said. "Even if this is true, are we certain the Prophets knew of it?"

He lowered his mandibles in a frown. "The Prophets have always restricted access to holy… to Forerunner articles for what purpose? There is something they did not wish us to know."

"Come now, Arbiter!" 'Lafatee said scornfully. "Which is the greater possibility, the Prophets are traitors or the Oracle is false?"

"The Prophets have always said their word was truth," he said. "The High Prophets have also spoken of the Oracles' unfaltering wisdom. To say this Oracle is false is to say the Prophets are false."

Commander 'Setfethee lowered his head in despair. "Therefore the Prophets are false," he murmured quietly.

The High Councilor sucked in a breath. "You realize if the Prophets ever become aware of this conversation, we will all be sentenced to death?"

The Arbiter looked at him in disbelief. "We have learned the Prophets intend to kill us all, Councilor 'Lafatee. Now is the time to strike first! We already are at war with the Jiralhanae, Kig-Yar and Yanme'e; now we will attack those who lead them." 'Opskitee suddenly stamped his hooves upon the ground, growling with rage.

"Do you disagree with the Arbiter's words?" 'Setfethee asked him harshly. After a long moment, 'Opskitee closed his mandibles and bowed his head.

"I do not," he said softly.

"He is right to object," the High Councilor defended him. "Since the Covenant began we have followed the Prophets, protecting them as they searched for the Sacred Rings. To proclaim war on the Prophets is simply…" he broke off.

"We warred with them once before, High Councilor. Remember your teachings. 'On and on shall old war go. Without respite my blood will flow,'" he quoted the Writ of Union. All at once, he saw the horrible truth before him. He hastened to explain to the others. "We ceased fighting when the Prophets shared with us the knowledge of the Forerunners, and formed the Covenant. The Prophets did so because they knew the war would never come in their favor, yet it was not in peace as we were taught. They knew the Sacred Rings were weapons and they intended to use the Sacred Rings to annihilate the Sangheili race… as we helped them!"

Jitji walked rapidly through the halls. He had decided to resume his original plan and stowaway on the next outgoing dropship. Fortunately, there seemed to be no knowledge of his actions as of yet. Something Jitji thanked and praised the Forerunners for, as he made his way toward the secondary entry shaft.

Turning a corner, he almost slammed into an Unggoy. Yelping, his fellow jumped back. He muttered a quick "Sorry," before continuing on. He blinked sleepily, acquiring the will to continue with an unspoken prayer to the Forerunners. Suddenly, his radio came to life.

"Attention: The Arbiter has brought two Humans into the complex. They are not to be harmed under any circumstances. Should any attempt be made, the violator shall suffer the harshest of punishments."

He gave a sigh of relief that he was not part of the announcement. Although, the wording seemed unusual. Why would the Arbiter deny the Humans to the skilled interrogators? Maybe he wants them for himself, he thought. But for what purpose? Surely he would not have time to torture them. Maybe he would want to keep them as servants? No, he thought. Such a thing was surely prohibited by the Prophets. He stretched his arms. There is no sense in trying to understand Sangheili. The radio spoke again, breaking him out of his thoughts.

"Attention: All Unggoy assigned to methane pit-3, report to the guard stations at once."

Well, now they know about me. Although, they hadn't yet realized it was him. And as long as that guard doesn't remember my name, I'm free. He continued toward the entry shaft.

Heretics! Fools! War with the Prophets? They had truly succumbed to madness! Worse still, the Arbiter was protecting the Humans. He would not be able to slay them with the two veterans guarding his prey. His casual attempt to persuade the guards proved useless and, no matter how horrible the Humans were, he would sooner kill himself than harm a fellow Sangheili. He would have to wait for the chance to strike to unveil itself.

The Arbiter had left the Humans in the High Councilor's quarters so they could 'assist in planning a strategic assault', while he visited the facility's healers. Eito, who had taken damage in the battle, chose to join him. Not together, of course; it would be improper to do such a thing. Instead, he had taken a longer route.

He listened as the intercom announced several orders pertaining to Unggoy as he walked, thinking how odd it was. Could the Arbiter be preparing them for an attack? If that was so, why did they not simply state it in the announcements? It made little sense. He decided to speak to a Sangheili veteran passing through the hall.

"Greetings, warrior," he said, holding up a hand in greetings.

The veteran stopped at once. "Greetings, Excellency," he raised his own hand.

"I am Eito 'Opskitee, servant of Ship Master Gerka 'Setfethee," he introduced himself, lowering his hand. This was excellent – the veteran would surely answer any of his questions in an attempt to further his own career.

"I am Tsuku 'Lermugee."

Now that the introductions were complete, he continued. "Perhaps you would know why there have been numerous calls for Unggoy?"

'Lermugee shifted his mandibles to indicate affirmation. "Yes, Excellency. An Unggoy has damaged the airlock controls of a methane pit, sealing inside a Sangheili guard."

Eito's mind raced. An Unggoy traitor? This had to be the work of the Humans! "Was the Sangheili harmed?" he asked.

'Lermugee tightened his mandibles in a denial. "The guards became aware of it rapidly and cut an opening, saving the Sangheili at the expense of the Unggoy held within."

"Unggoy can be replaced easily," he said dismissively. But perhaps if he were to examine the affected Unggoy, he would be able to prove the Humans' malignance. "Are you aware which Unggoy is the traitor?"

"I am not, Excellency," 'Lermugee admitted. "Perhaps Commander 'Neporee knows this answer."

He dismissed the veteran; he was of no more use to him. Yes, I will make contact with the guards. He headed for the nearest guard station.

Jitji paused. He had reached the guard station placed beside the secondary entry shaft. Dozens of Sangheili were present, but there were no other Unggoy in sight. How unusual…


A Sangheili minor was behind him. He nervously turned and bowed his head. "Yes, Excellency?"

"Unggoy, state your pit assignment," the Sangheili barked.

"Pit-1, Excellency," he said truthfully.

"Your name?"

He paused, and then answered, "Kopok, Excellency." It was the name of an equal he had served with as a security monitor, who he knew rested there.

The Sangheili paused to examine a handheld pad. "On your way, Unggoy," he said after what had appeared to be a very long moment.

He bowed respectfully, "Me thank you, Excellency."

The Sangheili nodded, and left Jitji to continue on his way. That was close, he thought in relief. He continued toward the station's armory. If the design was identical to the primary station, the armory would lead into the shaft.

Sure enough, as he entered the room filled with weaponry, he saw a door on the far side… guarded by an Unggoy. This Unggoy wore the red armor of a leader, complete with a helmet ridge to signify his rank. The Unggoy turned to see him staring. "Who you?" the Unggoy asked.

Searching for a believable story, he decided to tell a partial truth. "Eh, me Kopok. Me be demoted to guard." In an attempt to seem authentic, he discreetly shelved his pistol and began loading a needler.

The Unggoy narrowed his eyes in a frown. "Why you demoted?"

"Me fail to alert 'Neporee of Arbiter's arrival," he said truthfully.

"Me hear 'Neporee think Arbiter Jiralhanae," the Unggoy said, looking at him disapprovingly.

"Why me demoted," he explained, indicating his orange armor and small air tank. Now that the matter of who he was appeared to be without scrutiny, he addressed the door. "Why you guard door?"

"Leaders say 'no let Unggoy pass'," the Unggoy explained. "Me not know why."

Jitji tried to think of a way to have the Unggoy let him through. However, his 'mission' had been very hard on him. Filled with fear and desperation, he was unable to think of a peaceable approach. He raised the needler and aimed it at the leader, saying vehemently, "You leave door!"

The Unggoy's eyes widened in shock. Then, he quickly raised a small radio to his mouth and said, "Crazy Unggoy here! Name Kopok!"

"No!" Jitji pulled the trigger and watched in horror as the stream of needles raced toward him. The Unggoy dropped his radio and ran from the stream. The stream followed him and struck his air tank. He fell to the ground as the needles burst, ripping a hole in his methane tank. He let loose a moan as he began to suffocate.

Horrified at what he had done, Jitji hastily grabbed some extra ammunition and entered the shaft. Inside were five Phantoms and three Seraphs. He walked over to the farthest dropship, deciding it was least likely to be occupied and boarded it. It quickly became apparent that there were no others on board, and Jitji tried to relax while still horrified he had killed a fellow Unggoy.

He considered trying to pilot the dropship himself but decided that would be suicidal and reverted to his plan to stowaway. He opened a secondary storage compartment for Unggoy and, shoving everything to the side, slipped inside. With the backup methane tanks at close reach, I should have enough air to complete the mission, he thought to himself as he prepared for a long wait.

Hita 'Befuwee carefully watched as the Unggoy made its way over to the armory. There was no reason for an Unggoy to arm itself at this moment, making such actions suspicious. Especially because the Unggoy had identified itself as Kopok, and his data told him the Unggoy named Kopok served at the primary station. Protocol was to report this to his Commander. However, if this was the traitor, 'Befuwee wished to have the honor of killing it himself.

He entered the armory to find a red-armored Unggoy dying on the floor, a hole burnt in its tank. Excitement came. It was the traitor.

"Excellency…" the dying Unggoy moaned softly.

"Worry not, Unggoy," he told it. "The traitor will be found." He grabbed a pistol from the shelves and ended the Unggoy's pain. Placing the pistol back on the shelves, he picked up a rifle and hunted for the traitor.

It was easy to see no vehicles had been taken, which meant the traitor was still within the shaft. He began searching through the vehicles to see if it was hiding in them. Not long after he started, numerous other Sangheili appeared to join his search. 'Befuwee felt disappointment; he had been hoping to find the traitor himself.

At last, only one vehicle remained unsearched. 'Befuwee followed two others into the Phantom. Feeling certain the traitor would not be in a main room, he opened the storage compartments while the other guards searched elsewhere. To his great pleasure, there was indeed an Unggoy in one of the compartments.

"I have located the traitor!" 'Befuwee said in triumph. He grabbed the Unggoy and pulled it out struggling. He took the traitor's weapon and threw it to the side. He heard someone board the dropship behind him. Good, another to witness the execution. He raised his rifle, ready to smash the traitor's skull, when a strong hand took his wrist. He turned to see a Sangheili dressed in the white armor of the Special Operations Forces.

"You shall not kill the traitor," the Sangheili said calmly, releasing his wrist.

"Yes, Excellency," he said at once, startled at the intervention. "May I question why I am not allowed the honor?"

"There is an Arbiter present in the complex," the Sangheili replied. "It is his honor."

Although disappointed, he certainly understood the Arbiter's rights and did not object as the Sangheili took the traitor away.