Posted By: Shurmanator<email@example.com>
Date: 28 December 2009, 5:06 am
Earth, Sol System
ONI Operations Building
December 24th, 2553
"Alright, say it with me
you know what, forget it."
"I am trying
"Yeah, I know, but just forget it.
"As you wish, Mr. Danforth."
"Call me James, alright?"
The wide halls of ONI Operations were pleasant to walk through. The smooth white walls irradiated brightness and joy, and the transparent doors placed at random intervals on the sides of the corridor provided a sense of welcome to any passerby. A stark change from the usual cold, gray steel of ONI facilities, Eden was a tourist, and media, friendly outlet of the most secretive sect of the UNSC. The exterior of the building was composed entirely of reinforced glass, which in turn was made out of trillions of nano-bots that flowed and morphed with any force exerted onto the building. Any strong gust of wind or tap on the glass caused the structure to bend and shift in a beautiful miracle of architecture. While tourists simply viewed it as an aesthetic marvel, the practical purpose was obvious; an indestructible, anamorphous shield. In a similar ruse, the beautiful white pillars that lined the paths encircling Eden hid point-defense weapons and landmines. Put simply, Eden was the most aesthetically pleasing deathtrap on Earth.
Once inside, Eden boasted a brightly lit lobby, complete with cushioned chairs and holo-screens for entertainment. Like a blend between a hotel reception area and a conference center, Eden was designed expertly for peaceful and welcome Sangheili-Human relations on Earth.
In some ways, it was the most important structure on the planet.
And James Danforth was just another cog in the machine.
He and his Sangheili companion reached the end of their hall. A dark, black door covered the entire face of the wall. Seemingly out of place in the luminous environment of Eden, the door was one of the only opaque objects in the entire building.
The reason; the fate of the entire stable universe rested in the hands of the men and women (and aliens) meeting behind the dark portal.
A young ensign stood next to the door. Like most of Eden, she was another illusion; deceivingly a preoccupied, air-headed, quite obviously incompetent intern, the young woman was, at barely twenty-five years old, widely considered to be one of the most dangerous assassins in the galaxy.
It helped her considerably well-founded reputation that she was extremely beautiful.
Laura Vashilik looked up from her data-pad to see Danforth and his Sangheili companion walking slowly towards her. Her hand rapidly flicked towards the knife hidden in her belt, but her grip slackened when she confirmed the two as known individuals. She blew a stray brown hair out of her face.
She nodded toward Danforth and then bowed deeply to the Sangheili.
"Cleric Nramut, if you would please step through this door, the meeting shall begin in a few moments," Vashilik said.
The Sangheili nodded back at the woman and rested his hand on an unremarkable tile to the left of the doorway. The tile began to glow blue as the handprint of Nramut was run through an extensive security scan. Following this, Nramut spoke his corresponding entry code for the current day.
"The stockings were hung by the chimney with care," he rasped in his low monotone.
A whirring noise emitted from the tile.
"WARNING: ADDITIONAL VIBRATIONS DETECTED. ANALYSIS: SOUND ANAMOLY. PLEASE REPEAT CODE."
Vashilik glared angrily the other human. Danforth shrunk noticeably from the woman's gaze.
Oblivious to what happened, Nramut repeated his authorization code.
"The stockings were hung by the chimney with care."
Satisfied, the doorway hissed opened. The ominous black panel lifted upwards to reveal
more blackness beyond. Nramut stepped through the portal. The door slammed shut behind him.
Danforth stood awkwardly in the hallway with the guard.
they got me pulling SED duty for 'our esteemed cleric' again. Poor bastard couldn't find the bathroom unless you led the way for him holding a bag of Sangheili biscuits," Danforth laughed hesitantly, his voice stuttering and cracking at regular intervals.
Vashilik kept her gaze firmly planted on her data-pad. In a low, unemotional voice, she said, "Cleric Tulam Nramut is the most high-ranking member of the Sangheili religious branch of the council. His reputation as a benevolent leader and fair judge of matters both secular and non-secular is the best of any Sangheili official alive to date. His negations made it possible for Sangheili and Human mining corporations to share the small world of Tendraut in the Baston system whilst still allowing the remaining worlds in the system to practice their flora-worshiping undisturbed. He also is the lead correspondent between the two main sects of Sangheili paganism. In addition, he is the most knowledgeable Sangheili in the field of Semitic studies. Without him, it is most likely that all post-war negotiations involving religious matters would have failed miserably."
Laura lifted her gaze from her data-pad and stared directly into Danforth's eyes.
"If you refer to him in such a demeaning manner again I will be forced to execute you for treason. Article 79 Subsection 24 of the Human-Sangheili Treaty of 2553 'Any Human attempting to debase or slander any Sangheili official during the course of negotiations will be punished as per any law regarding the highest form of treason.' Would you like me to site the time and date of the addition of this clause?"
Danforth leaned backwards and nearly fell over, as if physically shocked the viciousness of the woman's verbal assault.
that's fine," he stammered.
"Furthermore," Vashilik continued, "the term 'S-E-D', Seeing-eye dog, is offensive in multiple ways. It implies the Sangheili diplomats that the officers, like you, have the honor of escorting through this building are no more than blind individuals incapable of navigating by themselves. It also implies that your job is degrading and boring, when, in fact, it is vital to the continued smooth operation of this negotiating process. However, in retrospect, this term also implies that you are a dog, a fact which I wholeheartedly agree with. Are you a dog, Mr. Danforth?"
Normally at this point Danforth would have turned away and crept back to his office, defeated.
However, something different was happening in the mind of James Danforth that day.
Goddamnit I have been going through this same routine for the past month; walking up to this freaking door with Nramut and attempting to pick up 'the hot assassin chick'. And each and every time I got shot down. But it is Christmas freaking Eve and I am going to get a date with this girl even if it kills me.
Plus, me and Joe from PR still got that bet going that I can't do it.
"Hey you wanna' go maybe get a coffee or something?" he blurted out.
Well I'm fucked.
As he was bracing for the painful impact of an extremely sharp object to his throat, Danforth heard the last thing he expected to hear.
Danforth opened one eye, having not realized he closed both of them in fear.
excuse me what?" he gasped, dumbfounded.
"Where?" Vashilik asked again.
wait what?" Danforth stuttered, unable to form even the most concise sentence.
"Where do you want to get coffee? The lobby has a coffee machine and some chairs, but there are too many people and the coffee there tastes foul. There is no café for miles so
where do you want to get coffee?"
"Listen, we both know why you're really doing this, so would you rather we just do it in that closet over there?" Laura asked, gesturing towards an empty closet at the far end of the hall.
"Because Tanzu takes over for me in an hour."
"If you want I can tell that Joseph from Public Relations that we did it so you'll win that bet."
"Or we could go right now, if it can't wait."
"Who is going to attempt to break into the most important meeting in on Earth on Christmas Eve? You would have to be a maniac! And I'm sure there are no maniacs who would want to do such a thing, so I have no need to guard this door, so let us go right now."
Laura grabbed Danforth by the arm and dragged him over to the closet. She opened the door and shoved him in.
" Danforth muttered, on the breakthrough of a coherent word.
"Uh," he finished, failing miserably.
Laura began unzipping her blouse. She lifted it off her toned form and threw it on the floor. A lacy, black bra covered her chest.
She, quite literally, tore Danforth's shirt off his body.
Laura bent over, moving her lips close to his
then pressed her knife against Danforth's throat.
"Listen to me, little boy. If you ever attempt to 'flirt' with me again, I will ram this blade so far up your ass that you will be biting down on the hilt when you chew your Pop-Tarts in the morning. And so help me God if you ever even think about having sex with me again I will do things to you so vile and unholy that you will beg for the ninth circle of hell before I've even half-way finished with you. Do I make myself clear?"
Vashilik stood up and put her blouse back on. She was about to walk out of the closet when she stopped suddenly. She slowly turned back around.
Danforth looked up in horror as the brunette loomed over him, her eyes piercing into his soul.
Laura leaned down and kissed him gently.
"I have off duty at 3 o'clock on the twenty-ninth. Meet me in the lobby."
She patted him lightly on the cheek and walked out of the closet.
Danforth remained seated on the floor of the closet, thoroughly confused. He remained there, unmoving, until he heard a door open. He looked up in time to see the twelve representatives of the day's negotiations leaving the meeting hall and walking through the hall. Not noticing the open closet door or Danforth sitting shirtless inside, the representatives stopped. From the middle of the pack came Nramut's distinctive rasp.
"Before we part, gentlemen, I would like to leave you with this."
Here the Sangheili coughed.
Merry Krastutimasisus to all, and to all a good night!
The twelve delegates abruptly turned toward the noise, their eyes widening in horror as they caught sight of Danforth in the closet, his shirt torn in half on the floor in front of him.
what happened to your shirt?" asked Nramut, genuinely puzzled.
Laura poked her head around the edge of the door frame.
"Yes, James, what happened?" she asked, her face unreadable.
"You know what happened?" said James, exasperated.
"You know what happened!? I'll tell you what happened!"
The clock struck midnight. Music played through the PA system and a pleasant, computerized voice exclaimed, "MERRY CHRISTMAS!"
James gestured wildly into the air.
"That's what happened!" he yelled.
With that, James grabbed his tattered shirt and pushed his way through the twelve delegates and out into the hallway. He began shuffling toward the PR department, his hand reaching for a hundred-credit chip in his pocket.
"Oh, and one more thing!" he proclaimed, whipping around to face the flabbergasted group of representatives.
"I will not be coming to work tomorrow, on account that it is the holiday."
"So Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"