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Halo: Twisted Origin Chapter 4
Posted By: Pinkuh<pinkuh@gmail.com>
Date: 18 September 2006, 9:58 am

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Chapter 4: Twisting fate

      A few more words were said by Truth to the counsel, and every last word was in his own tongue. Anna watched patiently and swayed to the strange music that rumbled from Truth's throat. She was nearly asleep standing when Truth's singsong voice changed back and dismissed the counsel in Elite. Her toes were hurting and she had long ago gone back to resting on her heals. Anna could hear voices behind her as the guards stepped up to surround her, Tokuamalee, and the now newly pronounced fleet commander. Unlike yesterday people were filtering out at their leisure and none of the guards was forcing them from their seats. Anna kept her eyes focused on the bottom part of Truth's floating chair.

      "Dervish?" Truth said drifting over to the three standing on the small platform. "Your flagship and fleet await. You are going to be given relatively small assignments till you are comfortable with controlling the fleet. Are you sure you want to take this assignment, as it seems to me to be a little out of your league...?"

      "Noble Hierarch," the captain said, his tone almost offended. "I have been waiting for a chance like this for a long time. I need to prove myself to you. I will bring you many glorious victories in your name. I will prove myself worthy to you."

      "Good then." Truth said stroking his chin thoughtfully. "Guards, escort the captain to the armory and get him outfitted. I have several tasks that will be waiting for you as soon as you take your place. May the Great Journey favor your decision, and may you bring honor to this covenant."

      Anna quickly whirled around to face the captain. The Guards were already surrounding him. Anna looked over to Tokuamalee who also had a surprised look on his face. They were rushing him out. The captain looked at Tokuamalee, then at Anna. His mandibles quivered and a noise so low that Anna could barley hear it echoed through the room. Anna felt her body moving on its own, she was raising her hand out towards him has he turned with the guards. Anna watched as he left feeling rather choked up about the fact that he wasn't allowed to say goodbye. When the door finally shut behind the small entourage Anna turned to face truth again. Sniffling she stood back up on her toes and looked straight forward.

      When she felt eyes boring into her she ventured a glance up. Her eyes locked onto Truth's and she scowled in spite of herself. Keeping her eyes locked she startled Truth by sniffing as loud and as long as she possibly could earning a sour look of distaste from the Prophet.

      "Ugh..." Was all he could spit out before turning and motioning to Regret. "<Come, you two, follow me.>"

      Anna began to follow on Tokuamalee's heals again as he moved. It would be a while before Anna could understand what was being said, so as the future of her being was discussed she went into her own imaginary world with the animals that she adored.

      Tokuamalee glanced behind him and noticed little Anna was trailing him. At this point he was just going to let her follow. From the way Truth's hands worked themselves, there was a lot of information to be passed, and Tokuamalee sure wasn't going to deny the Prophet his outlet. Somewhere in the back of Tokuamalee's mind he realized that he was only a lieutenant and that he shouldn't be thinking about talking to the Prophets about any matter that wasn't ceremonial, but something about the way Truth looked at Anna, and something about the way Truth's lips moved as he mouthed silent words, made Tokuamalee's curiosity peak.

      Tokuamalee watched Truth's every move, just like Truth's guards watched his. Truth's eyes darted back to Anna again and a look of pure disgust crossed his face. Tokuamalee turned so he was facing forward yet kept his eye on Truth. Truth had reached around the underside of his robes and had pulled out a small plasma blade not unlike the one Regret had used on Anna's stomach the day previous. He was fingering the activation switch as he watched Anna walk.

      "<There are many reasons that I should have had you both killed, Sangheili.>" Truth said his singsong voice taking a cold turn. "< In fact I should have you killed now for what Regret spoke to you of in confidence.>"

      Tokuamalee stiffened his walk unintentionally. He kept his eyes forward and his breathing under control.

      "<By all means, if the Forerunner have brought you a conflicting message, please don't hesitate to do away with me. I still don't know why I am even permitted to walk beside you.>" Tokuamalee said rather earnestly.

      Truth turned and put the blade back into his robes with a sigh. "<The Forerunner have not brought me such a message.>" Truth said, the disappointment dripping through his voice. "< It is fortunate timing to say the least, however. The Forerunner may have indeed given you that message. We have been dealing with rather... strange rumors. Demons, spirits, and things we have not dealt with since the rebellions of the previous ages.>"

      Tokuamalee nodded sagely as he noticed they were approaching a Gemini. Quickly he looked down to Truth. "<Surely you don't want to take me into there.>" Tokuamalee said, panicking. "<Only the most pure can enter!>"

      "< I think because the Forerunner chose you to deliver this message, you and the girl shall be safe from the security measures.>" Truth said speeding forward. "< I have a meal in there waiting, as well as an entourage to fit the girl with proper clothing. She is going to wind up being more trouble then her apparent worth.>"

      The doors opened and the guards stopped. Tokuamalee continued walking forward with Anna following without any complaints so far. The doors opened to a hallway and then they closed. Truth pressed his hand against a wall and the floor began to move upward. Anna started and gripped onto Tokuamalee's leg, startling Tokuamalee.
"Where are we going?" Anna asked.

      "<To the Prophets' Gemini.>" Tokuamalee said, looking down and watching as her face scrunched up.

      "Stehporp....." Anna said releasing the Elites leg and pointing over to Truth. " Him? Prophet? Stehporp?"

      Tokuamalee nodded, his mandibles clicking together. Anna began to think very hard, her face scrunching up in concentration. Truth scowled down to her.

      "<Why aren't you answering her in her own tongue?>" Truth said, his expression changing slightly to include curiosity.

      "<She has no need of that foul language.>" Tokuamalee said, with a rather truthful disgust. "< I myself hated learning it, it is so harsh and unnerving, the only reason I put myself to my studies in it was to please the Hierarchs. >" Truth's expression softened and he chuckled a little, making Tokuamalee tense up.

      "<As truthful as that is, Sangheili, her retention of the Human languages is going to be key to her tasks.>" Truth said as the floor slid to a stop.


      "<We have learned things, Sangheili.>" Truth said, the door sliding open into another hallway. "<Because of your position right now as caretaker of the girl I am going to tell you exactly what's going on.>"

      Tokuamalee didn't like the tone Truth was taking. As they walked through the short brightly lit hallway to the area beyond Tokuamalee started to get the inkling that Truth was only playing hardball with him right now because he needed to keep up his appearance. Tokuamalee quickly looked back down at Anna who in turn looked back up at him and smiled. Something in the way her eyes were shimmering told him that right at the moment she was picking up more then should have been possible.

      The small group stopped and made Tokuamalee realize that they were now in a rather large atrium with a rather imposing statue of a prophet holding a Halo above his head. Tokuamalee was momentarily awed. Everything in the room was perfect; he could even hear the small calls of the tiny flying creatures that liked to nest in High Charity's highest walls. However his momentary awe was lost when he looked down at the base of the statue and found several female Elites as well as several female Soraths basking and bathing in the pond at the statue's feet.

      Soraths were a luxury few could afford, their numbers were dwindling due to disease that ran rampant through their ranks. It was a weak species that was originally added to the Covenant ranks solely for their physical appearance and their "abilities" to attract and please the Prophets in ways that Tokuamalee didn't dare think about. Tokuamalee held back a sneer as he watched the Elite females try and tend to the vain creatures. It was disgusting. For an Elite female, watching the Soraths was a task that many loathed, and often times females were completely ostracized from the group simply for their dealing with such wretched creatures.

      "< It's amazing!>" Tokuamalee said attempting to ignore the Soraths as they pranced and splashed through the water, acting like nuisances.

      "<Yes, it is.>" Truth said, watching the girls in the water almost hungrily. "<A true sight to behold.>"

      Yeah, right. The Prophets' big "meditation area" is a giant whorehouse, Tokuamalee thought bitterly.

      "<Come, we are taking lunch on the Balcony,>" Truth said, turning away from the pond and floating up a ramp that lead up to another lobby with a giant knobby tree.

      "<Lunch... food?>"

      Tokuamalee and the prophet both spun around to face Anna with wide eyes. Anna stared back suddenly surprised at their quick movements.

      "yrros..... yrr.... Sorry..." She said putting her hands up defensively. "I didn't mean... to offend..."

      "<No, no offense, little one.>" Tokuamalee said, turning back around to face the bewildered Truth.

      Truth glanced at Tokuamalee, raising a brow. Both of them looked back to Anna who was now staring directly at Tokuamalee, but with that same face she had before.

      "<She is learning,>" Truth said shaking his head and continuing to a set of doors that led out to the balcony. "<This is part of the reason why she is staying here.>"

      Tokuamalee nodded as they reached a table and chairs. There were Grunts holding up small silver trays, each one of them had a band across their eyes and ears. There was another group of female Elites waiting, their heads bowed and eyes lowered. Tokuamalee waited for Truth to get situated at the head of the table.

      "<May I be frank with you, Hierarch?>" Tokuamalee said, waving a hand to Anna, stopping her from climbing onto the chair.

      "<Yes, you may, but I have the right to refuse to answer.>" Truth said, motioning for the three to sit.

      "<Sir, I was curious, what do you think the Forerunner had in mind for this child?>" Tokuamalee said, taking a seat. <"The vision, it was a blur to me, so much hit me at one time that I couldn't decipher it in the least.>"

      "<Ah, yes,>" Truth said motioning one of the servants over to fill his glass. "<Their messages are often cryptic, and hard to decipher. However, this one was the single clearest messages we have gotten from them.>"

      Tokuamalee didn't need to be surprised at this. He had truthfully formed his own conclusions about the vision over the course of the night. He knew Anna was the catalyst for something big, one final cog in a giant mechanism. He knew she would be the winning point for the Covenant, if they kept her long enough. However, he knew better then to voice his opinions. The more innocent he seemed, the more ignorant he was, the less likely he was to die an untimely death.

      "< In order to understand what they want for her, I am going to tell you a small little secret I have learned on my latest journey,>" Truth said taking a sip of the wine in his glass. "<As her caretaker you should be informed of what she is going to be used for.>"

      Tokuamalee cringed internally, he didn't like the wording of that last sentence.
"<There have been rumors floating around the ranks, I am sure you have heard them, and you yourself have had to quell your soldiers fears about a new human menace that has begun to take aim at our covenant.>" Truth said motioning for the servants to begin filling Tokuamalee's and Anna's plates. "<Demons, Wraiths, bringers of death. We have suffered our first true defeats in these recent months. I am sure you have heard about Jolanathee group.>"

      Tokuamalee nodded understandingly. It was common knowledge amongst the higher ranked men that Jolanathee, another Elite with the same job as Tokuamalee, was killed in battle, and only two members of his battalion survived. There were many rumors floating around those soldiers, both who had been committed. They had seen demons. Human men with scars running down their bodies, bloody looks in their eyes, a group of humans that cut through the Elite group like a sharp knife. However they were discredited and ignored. Even people in Tokuamalee's battalion made jokes on the sly about the veterans who had returned. It was common thought that they had lost it.

      "<They were telling the truth.>" Truth said seriously causing Tokuamalee to sit up strait. "< I had made it my personal goal to discredit the rumors of these Human Demons. However, I fear that I only wound up proving that they do indeed exist. These demons have names. They are called 'Spartans'. They are Human super soldiers, built from the ground up. To be frank with you they make the Elite ranks look silly and disorganized. Right now they have been the single reason we have hesitated in our campaign. If we start losing troops will start losing faith in the covenant. The Forerunner will see this through to the end, however the common being will see hard times and rebel, just like they have before.>"

      Tokuamalee had begun to partake in the food, slipping a delicately cut piece of meat in his mandibles as neatly as he could. His mind was whirring along at top speed as he swallowed his food and listened to Truth.

      "<Lucky for us the Humans have sent a transmission detailing every process these Demons have gone through.>" Truth said taking a tiny bite of his food. "<To attempt to prevent too much damage from them, I have decided that I am going to do the same to 150 of our young. I am going to put them through the Spartan training to a point. They are going to be the Covenant's secret weapon. They are going to get training beyond that which any other soldier has ever gotten.>"

      "<Sir!>" Tokuamalee croaked before he could catch himself.

      "<What, Sangheili? Speak your mind.>" Truth said momentarily watching Anna as she Ate.

      "<The suicide rate in our first training sessions is astronomical as is!>" Tokuamalee practically yelled. "<Sending children, especially those who are just barely out of the survival stage, into training like this would yield bad results. The morale falling alone about children getting military training would...>"

      Truth held up his hand and smiled ever so slightly, making Tokuamalee feel momentarily like an uneducated child himself.

      "<The morale won't fall, be there a success or a failure.>" Truth said his hands moving to clasp one another. <"The Humans, if they knew their children were being kidnapped and tampered with they would have warred against one another. No, these children are not going to be missed. The humans had an idea that was wonderfully simple. Flash clones.>"

       "<But, Truth, the Covenant! Human techniques! Since when have we ever had to lower ourselves like that?>" Tokuamalee couldn't help but momentarily cower when Truth's fist made contact on the table so loud that even the servants jumped.

      "<Confound it Sangheili!>" Truth roared. "<The only Aliens in this Covenant that know about this is myself, and now you. If any word of this project were to get out, it would be all your doing. Do you not think I know how much the masses despise Humans? I despise them most of all! But you as a military leader should know to take and digest tactics in order to improve. The humans have devised a smart tactic, we in turn will digest it and counterattack accordingly.>"

      Tokuamalee was momentarily stupefied before the cogs in his brain began to click.

      "<That is.... wow,>" was all he could get out, causing Truth to suddenly laugh.

      "< I thought so too!>" Truth said sipping a little more of his wine. "< I had this plan all worked out before I had even touched the ground here. Anna there was unexpected, but we can use her as a control. 150 of our children against one Human. Your scientists would love to watch over and dictate the goings on of such an adventure, wouldn't they?>"

      "<Yes, yes they would!>" Tokuamalee said taking a drink of his wine. "<They would indeed.>"

      Tokuamalee's mind was doing flip-flops to the point where he could barely keep what was in his stomach down. He quickly looked over to Anna who was currently feasting on a blood melon leaving drippy stains on her cheeks and chin. How was he going to get her through this mess? He cursed silently until Truth's words came back on him.

      "<Wait, my scientists?>" Tokuamalee said, looking quickly back up to truth. "<You mean I am going to be put in charge of the project?>"

      "< In a way yes, your people are going to be involved, and you yourself are going to play a key roll in the children's education.>" Truth said. "<However I have already decided a set of Trainers, three of which are higher ranked then you are. You will have two other equals and you three will split the underlings. You will all have your own groups, though yours will be the largest. I want no part of this experiment to go un-cataloged. Since you are also the caretaker of the girl, I suggest that you start training her in your species' ways every chance you get when she is not busy with training. Of everyone in the experiment we need her to survive the most, watching a human grow and learn is invaluable to us. We can exploit her growth and survival for our own purposes.>"

      "< I see...>" Tokuamalee said rubbing the bottom of a mandible. "< I would need Engineers with me, they would help my men along greatly.>"

      Tokuamalee turned to Anna again, who looked like she finished and was wiping her mouth with one of the clean rags provided.

      "<Not only that but we could train them to heal her, so that the Humans we do capture and interrogate will live longer.>"

      "<Oh that's a splendid idea!>" Truth said, the giddiness not hidden in his voice. "<Come Sangheili we have much to discuss, we shall leave the girl here, my servants will fit her for clothes.>"
Tokuamalee looked at Anna, who looked back up and smiled slightly.

      "<Girl, I am leaving with the Prophet, these servants will take you and fit you with the proper clothing,>" Tokuamalee said watching again as her face scrunched up in concentration.

      "Tokuamalee, eko," She said still confounding him and the prophet. "adoogh ebeh llaw eya."

      "<How long again has she been with your crew?>" Truth asked, floating up to the little girl.

      "<This is the second full day,>" Tokuamalee said glancing nervously over to her and dropping into his own species common tongue. "Truth, there is something beyond special about this girl, her mind is as sharp as a tack, the Forerunner sure as hell knew what they were doing when they chose her, she is going to be hard to match. If the Humans got a hold of her..."

      "<Chances are they would have done something similar,>" Truth said falling into the high registry of the Prophets' native language. "<She is a fast learner, we must be careful what we speak around her, who knows what she has learned from out conversation alone.>"

      Tokuamalee secretly gave a little cheer when Anna replied back to him. The fact that she was a fast learner meant that it would be easy for her to catch on and keep up. Scared for his life at the moment Tokuamalee was playing it overly cool with the Prophet, hoping that his uneasiness could he hidden. Quickly he stood up and waved to Anna.

      "< I will be back in short order, follow the women, they will help you,>" he said, turning to leave.

      "<Ladies, keep good care of this young girl and bring her down to the armory.>" Truth said earning a solemn nod from one of the head mistresses. "<Fit her with training clothes, ten sets, fit her with children's training armor three sets, and outfit her with the proper weapons.>"

      The Ladies gave a murmur and a nod.

      Anna quickly stood and walked towards them, causing Tokuamalee to cheer yet again. Whether or not it was her being brave, or her not realizing the danger, she was deeply impressing him and the Prophet with her fearlessness. Tokuamalee smiled to himself as he followed the prophet out of the room....

      Anna quickly walked up to the tall females, her mind reeling. She didn't know what to expect from them. Turning around she watched as Tokuamalee and Truth went through a small teleporter and disappeared. The Servants went into motion just about faster then Anna could track. Anna watched, analyzing them as they moved. Each girl knew exactly what they were doing, and in no time flat the table had been cleared, the only thing left a peach-sized fruit that had made its way to the floor. Without thinking too much about it Anna scooped it up, brushed it off, and stuck it in her sleeve for later....

      She had to shift some of the other food she had stored too. While the Prophet and Tokuamalee were talking Anna took careful pains to grab and eat as much as she could as well as stash as much as she could without being caught. She also took careful pains to start digesting and finding patterns in the language they spoke. Her mind was so active she had forgotten where she was and nearly had forgotten what had happened that led up to her being here with the rushing females.

      One of the females stood beside her silently and regarded her with a curious eye. Anna decided that these were the best ones to practice on, since they weren't of any status, so they wouldn't care if she botched the language.

      "S....so," Anna said tripping over the pronunciation. "Who... what wilil wee bee doingmh?"

      The female regarded her again this time with surprise written over her face. The others began to form up around her and began whispering quietly. No one answered Anna.

      "Y... You can... Talch." Anna said turning so she was facing the female with her neck craned upwards. "I amnoth itportant. You can talch."

      "Little one..." The female's still, deep voice said. "How long have you been here in the presence of the lieutenant?"

      Anna thought about it for a moment before holding up two fingers to the Female.

      "Two daises, Humanh," Anna said nodding and assuring herself.

      "How long have you been studying our language?" Another slightly higher pitched voice perked up.

      Anna scrunched her face up as she tore apart the words in her mind and re-organized them into something understandable. The girls shifted impatiently as Anna thought.

      "Fooreh aboot a...." Anna said searching and scrambling to produce the right words. "Day, or... soah... Not teh goot yet....."

      "A Human child, only on High Charity for a single day, has already started to learn the language." The lead female said. "It is a frightening situation for us now, come girl, follow us."

      Follow seemed to be one of those words used often, so Anna caught on without having to think to hard on it. The women began to talk fast, leaving Anna in her own little world. She watched as they began to walk out the same way they had entered. She watched as their graceful legs moved inside the loose fabric of their pants. As the fabric would lift Anna got to see their feet, which were glossed and painted with intricate designs. The hooves made hard contact with the ground, causing Anna to shudder involuntarily as she imagined her tiny bare toes under the gigantic hoof. The fact that she somehow managed to work her way into the center of the group made her jumpy for her feet. As the females walked they became more animated, and seemed to almost forget where she was.

      That was until one of the Soraths came prancing up to the party.

      Immediately the females surrounded Anna and danced around her, as the Sorath attempted to gain access to the girl. Anna scowled and gripped onto one of the female's legs, causing the female to squeak, but to hold steady.

      "Come on, I just want to see her." The Sorath said, her voice so sickeningly sweet that it reminded Anna of some of the caretakers at her school.

      Between everything that had happened, Anna didn't want to deal with the sickeningly sweet female attempting to gain access to her. She snorted in thought before something hit her.

      "I have no need to be pestered by the likes of you," Anna said speaking as clearly as she could. "Be off with your kin and leave us be."

      Anna let go of the female's legs and began to walk forward. The females quickly followed. The Sorath continued to pester them, but the females bottled up.

      "Oh come on, I just want to see her," The Sorath whined.

      "Listen," The lead female Elite seethed, coming inches from the Sorath's face. "I have no need for your stupid games, and right now your bruises will be a mark the Prophets will forgive me for. So you and your kin clear out of our way or face our wrath!"

      The Sorath jumped back, but not enough to avoid the Female elite's strong punch. There was a bone crunching wet thud, and then a loud splash as the Sorath landed in the shallow pool at the base of the statue. The Female Elite made a loud clicking noise and a Hoot. The other Sorath cowered.

      Anna watched as the Elite momentarily raged then turned and motioned for the others to follow her. Anna quickly followed them out the door of the Gemini and into the hallway. The guards regarded them and nodded if only slightly to the lead female in the group.

      Silent whispers were being passed between the guards and the women as they walked. Anna knew there was more going on here then meets the eye.