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Halo: Forerunner - Section 3 Ch 34
Posted By: Joshua M. Uda<imagine@uvtag.com>
Date: 17 December 2010, 9:08 am

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Chapter Thirty-Four

      "Will you be long, Executor?" asked Sufis as he ushered Didact from the command deck.
      Didact paused to examine the crew of officers as they went busily about their duties. No one seemed to be paying any particular attention, but he was cautious all the same. He looked to Shipmaster Sufis and leaned closer before mumbling under his breath, "Do not wait for me."
      Sufis raised one eyebrow and frowned, but he understood the undertone of the order.
       "Very well," he said. "All the better. I have a subjugation to attend to nearby."
       "Alseron?" queried Didact.
       "Yes," answered Sufis shortly.
      Didact smiled knowingly, "Tier 4, aren't they?"
      Sufis attempted a smile, but his face contorted awkwardly as his hateful eyes and the sneering lines around his nose fought through the feigned expression to reveal his disdain for the arrogant Executor.
       "Yes," he said again with unnaturally pleasant deference.
       "That must be frustrating," remarked Didact as he turned to leave.
      Sufis said nothing, but looked with lustful eyes at the Executor's back as it turned to him. He imagined plunging a plasma blade between the Ancient's shoulders and closed his eyes involuntarily as he savored the thought. It was the most satisfying sensation.
       "Sufis," the Shipmaster nearly jumped as he was startled from his homicidal fantasy, "I'll be sure to check your progress before I return to Siora," said Didact. "In case the situation proves too frustrating."
      Sufis managed to keep his expression neutral and nodded, "An honor, of course, Executor," he lied. "Your adept observation and shared insight would be most welcome."
      Suddenly, Didact stepped uncomfortably close to Sufis and leaned into the Shipmaster's face. Sufis was surprised and tried to stand his ground but pulled away reflexively.
       "There will be no sharing of insight between us, Shipmaster," said Didact coldly. "I will ensure that you follow protocol. There will be no further deviations within this fleet, and your emotional stability is suspect by all but the wise!" Didact bore his teeth as he continued, "That would be me, Sufis. I do not suspect your limitations; I am certain of them. And as a courtesy, I warn you to check your aggressive instincts. Whatever you may think of your own abilities, you have never attempted to lay harm to someone of my caliber. It would not go well for you."
      Sufis' eyes filled with fear, not for his life, but for his position. He had never imagined that his thoughts were so transparent, yet he had been warned by older Forerunners to be wary of the impeccable insight and intuition of Ancients. He stammered to respond.
       "My lord, I assure you I would never think to…"
      A flash of blue light streaked across Sufis' field of view from the corner of his peripheral vision, but before he could identify its source or even think to respond, he felt the pulsating heat of Didact's plasma blade near his throat. He froze, knowing it was too late to do anything, and shocked that anyone could move so quickly and with such precision.
       "See to it that you never do," said Didact calmly as he de-energized his blade.
Sufis looked around the command deck nervously. All eyes were fixed on Didact as he was enveloped in orange light and vanished from the ship. The Shipmaster was utterly humiliated, yet he had honestly begun to question his own capabilities against the Executor. He decided to heed the warning and check his vengeful rage. It could wait.


      Didact was surprised by the sudden darkness as he rematerialized in the reception area. He rarely visited an installation unannounced, and he had become accustomed to being greeted with some fanfare. This visit, however, was meant to be a surprise if nothing else. He had been chasing Lithiel and her ward across the galaxy for two years and had always been one step behind, but here, he was certain they would be delayed. This stop undoubtedly had a purpose, and he knew Lithiel would need time to complete the work on her agenda, despite her skill.
      A sudden burbling caught Didact's attention. He immediately recognized the low-pitched chatter and instantly charged his sword rifle. Blue light filled the darkness and illuminated the hulking silhouettes of two large creatures as they sidestepped with a dipping motion, away from the weapon's line of fire.
      Didact scowled and raised the blade of his weapon. The creatures reeled back and roared together as they prepared to attack.
       "Stop!" shouted a voice from a dark corner in the spacious chamber.
      The creatures froze and began to back away cautiously. Didact kept his eyes fixed on the beasts, but lowered his weapon once they were out of reach.
       "Why do you insist on keeping these feral creatures as sentinels? After what you've done to them, they aren't much of a force to reckon with," he said casually, "and hardly worthy to stand guard for a princess."
      The figure did not step from the shadows, but her soft voice answered, "They are loyal… to a fault, and still quite formidable, despite my alterations."
      Didact turned from the Sangheili guards and stepped toward Lithiel, but the creatures sprung forward and blocked his path, spreading their fanged mandibles wide as they roared again in warning.
       "You always hated mechanical constructs," he laughed. "I wonder if you might ever create a superior biological sentinel?"
      There was a sudden blur of motion and a muffled thud. Both Sangheili toppled to the ground in pieces, bisected at the torso. Didact de-energized his blade once again and continued forward.
       "You have no idea what I've created," said Lithiel from the shadows.
       "All I need to know is that your creations do not follow protocol. A sentinel cannot attack a principal. Your Sangheili are apparently unhindered by that constraint. How unfortunate for them."
      Lithiel stepped from the darkness as Didact neared. He paused, unable to control his initial reaction to her beauty.
       "I am not here for you," he said softly.
      Lithiel's eyes seemed sad, and Didact pondered the meaning of what he had just said.
       "Are you sure?" she asked pointedly.
      Didact struggled with his conflicting emotions, but answered honestly, "No, I am not sure."
       "Come with me," said Lithiel. "I will take you to him."
      Didact was shocked, and then suspicious, but Lithiel turned and began to walk away, so he followed, pausing to look back at the dead Sangheili.
       "Don't worry about them," said Lithiel over her shoulder. "They are easy to fix."