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The War Machine
Posted By: GLADIATRRR3000<gladiatrrr3000@hotmail.com>
Date: 13 July 2007, 4:03 am

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       Sean Macinroy felt pain. Good, he thought to himself. That means I'm alive.
       Sean opened his eyes, and the darkness greeted him. He briefly wondered if he was blind. Computer static popped in front of his eyes for a second. Bright orange letters appeared in front of his eyes and just as quickly disappeared.
       Helmet, Sean thought. Right, the helmet is broken.
       Sean groggily sat up and fumbled with the straps that held his helmet in place. Finally, all the straps undone, he pulled off his helmet. He blinked a few times to adjust to the light. When his eyes had cleared a gasp escaped his lips.
       "Holy shit." He muttered.
       He was on a hill, which was in the middle of what looked like rolling prairies. The prairies extended miles in every direction. However, off to his left, there was a huge structure rising up from the horizon. Sean looked up and around and realized the structure connected to the other horizon. "It's a goddamn ring." He said to himself.
       Back on the Pillar of Autumn, he had only minutes to awake from cryo-sleep and hop into his Human Entry Vehicle. Covenant had attacked their ship, Sean knew this, but he had no idea where the Autumn was. Major Silva had briefed him and the other Helljumpers back on the Autumn. However, the Major hadn't mentioned they'd be landing on a goddamn ring.
       Sean looked around for his HEV. Twenty paces behind him lay the flaming wreckage. Several containers filled with supplies had managed to fall clear of the wreckage, but most of what was meant for Sean's survival lay burning in the flames. He stood up, winced at the pain that was everywhere in his body, and walked towards the HEV.
       Only by a miracle was Sean alright. Bruises, cuts, concussion, yes. But broken bones and other serious damages weren't present. Sean scavenged through the undamaged supply containers and wondered if his luck would hold.
       A single pistol and several magazines of ammunition, a dozen MRE's, a canteen filled with water (though some Helljumpers had a habit of replacing the water with alcohol), a flashlight, and an extra pair of combat boots. Shit, Sean swore to himself.
       There were enough supplies to survive for a few days. However, Sean had lost any way to contact or reach his fellow Helljumpers. With a broken helmet he had no way of communicating with Major Silva, and with a broken HEV Silva had no way to tell if Sean was alive.
       Still, Sean had been lost before. He looked up at the giant gas planet in the sky, looked at the angle the HEV had landed, and made a best guess at where the other HEV's would land. After filling a (now heavy) backpack with the remaining supplies, he took a deep breath and began walking.

       The Artificial Intelligence registered the sudden tectonic impact and began running diagnostics. Thousands of years had not dulled the AI in any way. It had no personalities or delusions of identity, and therefore had no problem in monitoring the more mundane occurrences over the thousands of years. Occasionally it had found incoming asteroids on a collision course and had to send out the Sentinels to dispose of it, but nothing had ever come close to disturbing the Ring. However, the last few Objects had been too close to produce a counter-response. The AI had been pondering whether or not to dispatch security to quarantine the Objects, however it had detected language on the radio bands.
       Once the discovery of intelligent life had been made, the AI sent notice to 343.
       Intelligent life has his job.
       The AI went back to monitoring space.

       The silence was complete. It was as quiet as space, save for the occasional dripping sound off in the distance. The darkness was so thick one could have it fill all the senses; it was like swimming in blackness.
       The enormous, steel-gray walls were bare, save for the patterns of the Ancient ones. They were once covered in His glorious Flesh, spreading hundreds of miles in every direction, covering the walls of the underground tomb.
       Now, after thousands of years, the Flesh had receded. His Children had gone into a deep slumber under His command. No use in wasting energy while trapped in the vast recesses of space.
       He had no physical body, but in His mind he sighed. He sometimes wished He could Sleep with the rest. However, then there would be no one to wake the Masses.
       Like every other millennia since the Loss, he played through the last Awakening in his mind. He felt pride at the accomplishments, regret at the lost battles, and sorrow at the eventual Sleep He had to endure once again.
       But almost as a comfort, He felt a nagging at the back of His mind. Something was happening.
       Almost immediately, the ground shook. The sound of it almost pained His mind. After thousands of years of silence, there was once again noise. The ground continued to shake. Bits of metal and stone rained from the ceiling.
       He wondered what had hit the Ring. Surely They would not let it be destroyed.
       Then the idea came into His mind.
       Life. It was the only thing They would let near the ring.
       He could feel hundreds of His Children being crushed to death in their Sleep, but he did not care. He was filled with an emotion he couldn't place.
       Was it… Delight?
       Yes, He felt delight again after thousands of years. Laughter echoed through His mind. And as the echoes faded away, His Children awoke.
       Millions of them. More than could be counted. They awoke and shared in His delight. The silence was now filled with the cries of millions of tiny voices.
       The delight was dulled away, however, and a new feeling took its place.
       He smiled at the thought, felt millions of His Children smiling, and commanded them to feed.