Purity: A Halo Novel
Posted By: Jason Rieger<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 15 November 2009, 3:15 am
UNKNOWN LOCATION, Approximately the year 2555
"Master Chief, are you awake?"
I know that voice anywhere. All of the delightful digital nuances.
I open my eyes and see the blur of soft blue binary through my reflective golden visor. My vision focuses onto a set of piercing azure eyes. Cortana.
"Long time no see, Hero." Cortana voice is as luscious as always, she is a phenomenal achievement in artificial intelligence programming. If ever I had a weakness
I gently flex my body and my MJOLNIR exoskeleton armour instantly responses, raising me into a sitting position. I remove my eyes from hers (I'm sure it takes most of bionics to do so) and scan the room.
I am perched of a slab of either polish rock or dull metal, visual scans are inconclusive. The floor of a similar substance stretches off in every direction. No walls, no roof. It feels like the Library
"Bet you have some questions?" My thoughts came back to her. "You might atleast compliment me on my clothing." She raised her arms and twirled. I noticed that she was wearing a full length dress, high collar and flared sleeves, the works. Zero and ones glistening down her like rain drops. She looks like an Admiral's wife. Very un-Cortana-like.
"I know I'm not the usual pre-pubescent boy's wet-dream, but I've changed." We always like her one-sided conversations, one of the many reasons we were so well matched, or so some of my many psych report say. "Changed in so, so, so many ways, but I'm not the only one
Suddenly a bright light blooms beside Cortana, a very familiar light.
I reached my hand over my shoulder to grasp my M4 Assault Rifle, magnetically held to my back-plate and ensconced within my force-shield. Of course it wasn't there. Nothing I hate more then being unarmed, well within this suit I hardly 'unarmed', but un-ranged unarmed is what I hate.
343 Guilt Spark materialized. "Do not be alarmed, Reclaimer." It chimed, its dull optical camera swiveling. Its life-less plated metal frame sliding within itself, reforming as it panned for electromagnetic frequencies. "Once again you have been chosen for assistance."
I slide my legs of the altar-like block I was on, firmly setting my feet on the ground - the gravity must be weak where we are as my armour felt light. If I could just distract Spark for a second, I could spring over to it and slam it like the floating ball it was.
Cortana spoke. "Now, don't do anything rash, Master Chief. Sparky just wants to talk." Cortana was always very good at peace keeping, leveling my destructive urges. "He has a proposal for us."
'He'? I didn't believe that I had a jealous bone in my body
But Cortana and Sparky
Insane. Unless this wasn't really my Cortana
I approached Cortana, activate all direct scans. Was this the A.I. that had share so much
That had saved me so many times
"Sorry, Master Chief." She said lowering her head. "I have a confession to make." She gave a little wry smile, looking into my eyes. I could see tears welling in her eyes, or atleast the holographic projection of them.
"I am not your Cortana." The words hit my like a frag grenade. "During the fall of the Pillar of Autumn, Spark was able to copy my program. I am an exact copy or else I believe so. I have been learning what I could from 343 Guilty Spark, educating myself about the Forerunners, their rise and their fall. The Flood and the Haloes, the Covenant and the threats to humanity. We have some very dire news for you."
Not my Cortana. A copy, a clone, a doppelganger. This is a trick, one of Spark's twists of the truth, a trap.
I turned to leave, unsure how to escape but determined. I notice a figure lurking off to the side crouching, somewhat familiar
I felt my past converging, a noose tightening around me and my demons returning for me
"Reclaimer." The dull monotone started again. "Please listen. There is much knowledge that you need to assimilate. If you are uncooperative, you and Cortana will have to be deleted." 343 Guilt Spark's hovering, unblinking eye held no remorse to its threat. "Of course it will inconvenience for the plan but there are other options."
I glanced at Cortana, she rolled her eyes. We wouldn't go without a fight but I preferred not to have her at risk.
I returned to Spark and stood at ease. The figure off to the side has disappeared.
"Reclaimer, please do not ask any questions, everything required of you to know will be told to you, but no more." Spark began, that comment brought a slight frown from Cortana, as if a cloud had passed in front of the sun. "The Forerunners, Masters of 343 Guilt Spark, need to be stopped." That proved it, 343 Guilty Spark has gone rampant, acting way outside of its programming parameters. Time that it was deleted and yet Cortana was nodding her head so I focused on the droid's spiel
"The Forerunners have gathered much knowledge from your encounters with the Flood and have discerned some weaknesses. The Forerunners stand outside of time, monitoring and weaving their epic intrigues. Time matters little to them, only the genocide of the Flood, so that they may return. For all their magnificent achievement, they could not withstand this animalistic parasite and so withdraw themselves from the corporeal world.
"They built to Haloes to ascertain antibodies for the virus that is the Flood. Yes, the Haloes can be trigged for destructive purposes as a last result, but sentient races are allowed a chance first. Each world known to the Forerunners was decreed a Halo to encompasses their planet, turning with their equator. Their Haloes were built with the same atmosphere and environment as their allotted race, and means were incorporated so they could venture onto the Halo. The Forerunners assumed that sentient races would naturally choose their elite to match wits against the Flood and when one race eventually defeats the Flood the Forerunners will return once again as the apex race of the universe, rewarding and enslaving the victors.
"Now focusing on the Covenant's races, for, as with you as a variable Reclaimer, stopped the Flood on of the Earth-bound Halo. That Halo was designed and being sent to Earth, the gravity was predisposed for Earth, as was the flora and terrain. Grasslands, oceans and beaches, perfect for mankind's elite. Unfortunately the Covenant happened to discover it before it reached its destination. Fortunately your vessel was in the area and investigated. The rest, as your species says, is History."
Cortana whispered behind her hand, "Sorry but I've also been rubbing off on him."
"Four other races, not including the Flood, dwelt on that Halo when you arrived. The Unggoy, or vulgarly called Grunts; the Kig-Yar, or similarly named Jackals; the Sangheili, or the Elites;" (at this Cortana glanced off to the side) "and the Mgalekgolo, or unreasonably named Hunters.
"The Forerunners has seen to send a Halo to each of these race's home planets. Haloes that contain Flood spores and the ability to detonate all Haloes through out the systems, eradicating all life, the Flood food source.
"And now, Reclaimer," Spark continued, hovering closer, "your role in this theatrical episode. You will be sent to these planets that have been encircles by a pre-disposed Halo, where you will eliminate the Flood threat and save the Covenant races from extintion."
I raised my gauntlet to bottom of my helmet, rubbing my 'chin'. As always, I believed 343 Guilty Spark had fed me what it thought would motivate me. Fabrications and miss directions are its bread and butter. Going to distant planets
The enemy of my enemy is my friend? Well, a lesser enemy anyway.
"Offerance of any assistance is proffered," Spark trying to squeeze an emotion from its circuitry, "any weapons you require, as well as a guide." I looked up as Cortana, a guide that was created and fed only the information I was allowed. It hurt not to be able to trust Cortana.
"No, not me, Master Chief." Cortana responded. "Over there
A shape loped from the shadows. Tall and lean, a killing machine. A nightmare dredged from humanity's darkest fears. A Sangheili
but a friend
"Arbiter." I say, as the whip thin, over two and a half metre tall goliath emerges from the shadows. His static force shield shimmers, glinting around his bladed helm and advanced chest plate.
"Demon." He replies.
Standing toe to toe with a natural enemy is always a buzz. We have a history, Arbiter and me, but he's still a Sangheili, an 'Elite', a Whoop Whoop dude.
Unarmed like this, we're evenly matched. His well-trained muscle against my powered hydraulics. We have worked together when in need but I have slain too many of his kind to be comfortable, as has he
"This little drone must have offered you much to have you stand at peace in front of your nemesis." Arbiter mouthed, his mandibles out of sync of the words as my MJOLNIR audio translated (another gift that I owe Cortana for).
Spark hovered between us. "Transportion for you, Reclaimer, and Dervish-" Arbiter cringed at this name (or what I assume was a cringe) "is now available to the Unggoy home planet that has been shackled by a Halo. Make your way from the planet to the Halo, destroy it and purge any affected Unggoy.
"Arbiter has an inbuilt Flood spore detector," Arbiter tapped his helm at this, "for I cannot risk him getting to close to the Flood. Arbiter knows the Unggoy world and their many dangers, he can assist you, Reclaimer, on to the Halo but he will not enter the Flood's holding chambers. I will immediately withdraw him if proximity alert is activated. He must be protected for my plans to come to fruition."
"What's to protect me?" I said.
343 Guilty Spark hovered into my golden visor. His dull orb reflecting back my golden domed square, as my visor reflected back his unfeeling, uncaring eye. "Your armour." The monotone dripped from Spark's speakers.
"Ah, the sacred Spartan armour." Arbiter roared, something that might be a laugh sounded. "The only difference that saved your pitiful species."
"Master Chief is more than that damn armour!" Cortana cried through clenched teeth, scowling at the droid and the alien.
After a moment silent, Spark started up again. "Let's proceed. Any equipment you need is behind you as no further assistance is available until the Flood in exterminated."
Turning, I now saw that the matt black altar was laid out with weapons.
A M6D Magnum placed beside M4 Assault Rifle with a BR55 Battle Rifle adjacent and a M-90 Shotgun; a set of SMGs flanking a Sniper Rifle and even a Rocket Launcher. A Plasma Pistol and a Plasma Rifle were unusually positioned beside two Energy Swords, a Carbine and a Beam Rifle and a hedgehog of a Needler. Lastly were two little neat stacks of four Frag Grenades and four Plasma Grenades.
Arbiter moved first, I tensed, but then I tried to relax, focusing on our past trust.
His four digit hand immediately grabbed both Energy Swords, hooking them over his shoulders. He scooped Plasma Grenades into a waist pocket and he chose to carry a Plasma Rifle in hands, then withdraw.
I advanced. Looking at the options in front of me. A world of the Unggoy, Spuds, and the Flood, Zombie Spuds.
I picked up the Assault Rifle, checking its balance, sighting its line. It was a piece of perfection. Swinging it over my should until my magnetic back plate held it, I judged the Shotgun, Sniper and Rocket. Direct, distance or destruction.
Who am I kidding? I never fire until I see the whites, or the pale purple, of an enemy's eyes. The Shotty has it. I grab it as a hook on the Frags as well.
Let's get this show on the road. I slightly nod to Cortana and I see 343 Guilty Spark iris contract to a point.
Cortana gracefully glides towards me, closer and closer, a slight Mona Lisa's smile on her lips. She raises her hands, palms out, and I feel I am doing the same. I blink and she's gone but suddenly she is in my head, it feels like a hole in my soul has been filled.
Then the teleportation light encompasses myself and Arbiter