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Veracity: The End
Posted By: Shurmantor<dyshurman@gmail.com>
Date: 4 December 2009, 1:44 am


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>>>>>>///ONI Orbital Research Platform
>>>>>>///Neptune, Sol System
>>>///June 25, 2568
>>>///1350 Hours
>///Delphi Station Recording Log


Andrew Kenderson sat straight backed in his chair, hands folded across his lap. Milavech was sitting next to him, eyes locked on the doorway to the mess hall. Kenderson had let his eyes wander, however, to a small, fixed point directly next to the doorway. The dark black speck, most likely a dried drop of blood, had occupied his attention for the past twenty minutes. As he continued to peer into its depths, Kenderson found that there was much to explore there. The miniscule dried flecks adhered to separate grains of paint chips, forming an intricate pattern along the surface of the wall. The cold hard steel surrounding the small patch of painted concrete by the doorway offered little interest or variation, but on the colored surface of the wall, on the painted and primed mix, molecules twisted and shifted in circles. Pigments blossomed and receded. And one outsider to the conglomeration, one uninvited speck of blood, proved to be, in fact, a most welcome guest to the symphony.

One dark spot on the light... one unwelcome piece of the puzzle... is that really all it takes?, Kenderson thought to himself.

He believed with all his heart that this was so. And that is why he was about to do what he was about to do.

To preserve, he remembered.

No, my friend. To prevent.


>>>>>>///ONI Orbital Research Platform
>>>>>>///Neptune, Sol System
>>>///June 25, 2568
>>>///1429 Hours
>///Delphi Station Recording Log


Kenderson slowly rose from his seat. Milavech kept his gazed firmly locked on the doorway, but twitched slightly at the movement.

The ONI officer stepped lightly over to the table beside Milavech's chair. Richard Vauxon's pistol rested upon it.

Milavech continued to stay silent as Kenderson picked up the pistol and sat down back in his seat.

Kenderson closed his eyes.

The Inner Recesses of the Mind

Greetings, child of Veracity.

Greetings, Tormanu.

Are you ready to begin?

Your plan is righteous, my master, and your goal is just. We shall not fail.

To preserve Veracity...

... and to bring light to the darkness...

... for all eternity.

It begins now.

No, my child. It ends now.

>>>>>>///ONI Orbital Research Platform
>>>>>>///Neptune, Sol System
>>>///June 25, 2568
>>>///1430 Hours
>///Delphi Station Recording Log


Kenderson slowly pointed the pistol at Milavech.

"Kenderson, if you don't trust me, just say so, okay?"

Oh, the irony... Kenderson bemused.

>>>>>>///ONI Orbital Research Platform
>>>>>>///Neptune, Sol System
>>>///June 25, 2568
>>>///2300 Hours
>///Delphi Station Recording Log


The mess hall was dark.

Power conservation would have been activated approximately five minutes after the absence of a crew check in at the interrogation room at the pre-determined time. That put the deactivation of the main power circuits at 1505 hours.

Kenderson shook his head, as if to get rid of the trivial, unimportant thoughts such as these that inhabited his conscious mind.

He strode forward purposefully, not bothering to soften his steps. By this time, Tormanu's power would have grown enough to enforce sleep on the inhabitants of Delphi Station. Kenderson could have fired off a gun in the enclosed mess hall and nothing would have happened.

In fact, that was exactly what was going to be done, although not by him.

He entered in the access code on the door panel, and walked through the open portal. He held no animosity to the dark hallway, for the shadows were his ally, the companions of his Master.

Kenderson passed Interrogation Room Omega without stopping. Tormanu was still far too weak to leave its cell; the hibernation period was a time of deep withdrawal, and recovering from it took time.

Instead, the officer turned off into the small antechamber that led to the hangar. He climbed the adjacent staircase to the Master Control Station, and then sat down in the communications chair.

He felt invisible chains of darkness clamp down on his wrists and ankles. The blackness crept around him, encircling him. The hangar entrance displayed the infinite nothingness of space stretched out before him.

Andrew Kenderson closed his eyes and let the presence enter him.

The Inner Recesses of the Mind

Let us begin.

I running through the grass. The laughter of two individuals, one male and one female, is upon my back. Small toys cover the earth. I stumble and fall, and begin to wail. The voices transform into soothing coos of reassurance. I am promised treats and rewards. I am given something for failing. I am rewarded for my mistakes. This is not the path.

I am sitting in a classroom. Small children surround me, dutifully paying attention to the teacher at the head of the classroom. She is explaining the concept of arithmetic. I am trusting my knowledge to man-made concoctions of numbers and measurements. Man knows not of the universe, therefore he can not measure it. This is not the path.

I am in my room. It is dark. Another boy is sitting next to me, assuring me that the substance that I am about to take is safe and part of conformed society. The substance is not safe. I am in the hospital, with tubes being fed into my stomach. Nothing in conformed society is unsafe. This is not the path.

I am in another classroom. The teacher is discussing philosophy. I am not paying attention. My eyes are focused on a female in the far corner. She is in rapid conversation with other females around her. My fantasy grows inside of my subconscious. I am sacrificing knowledge, however vague and incorrect, for pleasure. This is not the path.

I am with the female now. We are alone, in a darkened room. Our lips meet. I take off her clothes and kiss her body. I begin to make love...

No.

No?

Love is nothing.

Of course. I apologize.

No matter. Continue.

I begin to have intercourse with her. I am mating with another for pleasure, not for procreation. This is not the path.

I have chosen a career. It takes me into the field of subconscious study. I learn of the deepest workings of the human mind, and the motivations behind human behavior. I learn of the true nature of the soul and human actions. I believe that humanity is an intangible, unknowable force. I see not the small electrical pulses that govern the human mind. I am idealistic instead of practical. This is not the path.

I am standing at an altar in a Church. The female is standing next to me. Our eyes lock on each other as we say our vows. We swear that we will be faithful to each other. Once again, my mind is not focused on procreation. This is not the path.

I praise God the Father at Sunday Mass. Religion is nothing. There are scientific explanations for the universe, and there is no divinity. I believe otherwise. This is not the path.

I watch from the deck of a spacecraft as my world burns. I look into my communication device as the female professes her love for me. An explosion blossoms in the background of the video feed. She screams and the image darkens. I cry. Death is a natural, acceptable occurrence, and mourning it does nothing to develop the universe. I lament. This is not the path.

I am assigned to a military intelligence organization known as the Office of Naval Intelligence by recruiters. I am tasked with psycho-analyzing our enemies. My goal is to discover their hopes, wants, desires, and beliefs. These are all superficial, and any applications of such knowledge other than the development of psychological weaponry is pointless. No such weaponry is developed. This is not the path.

I am placed aboard Delphi station. Veracity is made clear to me. This is the path.

And now that you have learned, you shall serve Veracity.

With my mind and body.

And what shall be your reward?

Death.

And?

I accept it joyously, for the good of the preservation of Veracity.

Who are you?

I am homo sapien. I exist not as an individual nor as a sentient, but merely as an infinitesimal speck on the universe destined only to serve as a tool in continuing the existence of powers far beyond my comprehension. I exist to serve Veracity.

Good. You are ready.










>>>>>>///ONI Orbital Research Platform
>>>>>>///Neptune, Sol System
>>>///June 25, 2568
>>>///2330 Hours
>///Delphi Station Recording Log


Kenderson gasped as he awoke. The invisible chains that had bound him drifted off, blending with the indistinguishable shadows of the Master Control room. He stood up, rolled his head back and forth, and sighed.

Nearly bursting with the knowledge that had been bestowed upon him, the officer's steps were shaky and unbalanced as he slowly made his way down the staircase to the antechamber. Following the plan that had been made known to him in his sojourn of the mind, Kenderson entered the hangar.

The cavernous chamber echoed with each footfall. The glistening steel walls reflected the darkness, enabling it to creep around the chamber in various shapes and sizes. Aside from a few cargo containers that were yet to be opened after the last drop-off, the room was empty. The portal to the void rose to the ceiling. A revolutionary new energy field protected the entrance; invisible to the naked eye, it enabled spacecraft to fly through without waiting for a cycling sequence, yet also kept life-sustaining gases safe from the cold vacuum beyond. It was just another asset provided by the alliance between Humans and the Sangheilli.

And under Veracity, it would all be destroyed.

Kenderson sat down in the hangar, staring out into the blackness of space, to wait.


>>>>>>///ONI Orbital Research Platform
>>>>>>///Neptune, Sol System
>>>///June 25, 2568
>>>///2339 Hours
>///Delphi Station Recording Log


The distant sound of a gun-shot could be heard from the inner bowels of the station.


>>>>>>///ONI Orbital Research Platform
>>>>>>///Neptune, Sol System
>>>///June 26, 2568
>>>///0017 Hours
>///Delphi Station Recording Log


Kenderson felt eyes staring at the back of his head. He slowly turned around, expecting what was coming. He looked up into the dark Master Control Station, lit only dimly by emergency lights, and saw a woman staring at him.

She leaned in closer to make him out in the darkness, and another shape rose up behind her. She gasped silently as the shape crashed into her, plunging an object into her back. She fell out of sight.

Veracity.

Peering deep into the darkness, Andrew checked his watch. It had been a gift from his wife. The small hands moved silently across the white face of the clock.

It read 12:17.

Kenderson laughed.

>>>>>>///ONI Orbital Research Platform
>>>>>>///Neptune, Sol System
>>>///June 26, 2568
>>>///0146 Hours
>///Delphi Station Recording Log


Kenderson rose from his seated position on the floor of the hangar. His role in the plan was about to begin.

The antechamber remained lit by the dim, red glow of emergency lights. As he was about to walk out the door, the Intelligence officer saw a figure contorted into a ball on the ground. He knelt down to get a closer look.

Victor Milavech held his knees in the grip of one arm, while his other hand was tightly gripping the silver cross strung around his neck. The man was muttering prayers, incomprehensible in his delirium.

Andrew cocked his head to one side, studying the Russian as if he were a mildly intriguing specimen in a lab. He remained still for a moment, his eyes fixed on the spot where Milavech's hand met his cross. A voice slipped out through the darkness, sending a cold shiver down the spine of the servant.

Leave him.

Kenderson rose obediently. He turned toward the antechamber's exit. The air there was displaced, waving and sliding around a dark, nearly invisible object floating serenely in the dull light. The anomaly continued to pulsate as it spoke.

He is not to be touched.

"The plan dictated that only one was to be left alive when I began my work," Kenderson ventured.

The plan has changed. Do not question Veracity.

Kenderson bowed quickly.

"I am sorry, master. I meant no disrespect."

Go to your task. Once you end the life of the female, your journey down the path will be complete. You must take the life of another, not for a reason or for a cause, but for the simple sake of destruction, in order to comprehend Veracity. I will remain in the hangar until you return. Then... then I can be free.

The sound of Kenderson's footsteps slowly shrunk and diminished as he quickly left the antechamber.

Tormanu slipped through the darkness towards the hangar. It made sure to weave a path as far away from Milavech's inert form as possible.


>>>>>>///ONI Orbital Research Platform
>>>>>>///Neptune, Sol System
>>>///June 26, 2568
>>>///0149 Hours
>///Delphi Station Recording Log


With his first task inside the reactor room of Delphi Station taking little more than ten seconds, Kenderson sat down to wait. According to the pressure gauges on the reactor monitoring station, the build up of heat inside the reactor caused by the re-routing of the coolant gases would eventually become too much for the station to take. Destruction was estimated at 0700 that morning.

Abruptly, Kenderson stood up and walked toward the door. Before he reached it, however, it opened in front of him. A figure stood at the mouth of the entrance. Kenderson brushed by it on his way out.

He waited several minutes, following a strict timing schedule that had been burned into his memory, then re-entered the reactor room. The constant cold presence that Kenderson had felt since the afternoon before remained with him, like eyes on the back of his head, as he headed towards the back of the chamber. A ventilation panel rested on the floor. Above, movement could be heard in the vents. Kenderson reached down and clasped the panel, then lifted it into place below the gaping hole in the ceiling.

On his way out, he flicked a switch, sending copious amounts of coolant gases into the vents.

Kenderson thought he heard a cough before he closed the door, but put the thought out of his mind.


>>>>>>///ONI Orbital Research Platform
>>>>>>///Neptune, Sol System
>>>///June 26, 2568
>>>///0152 Hours
>///Delphi Station Recording Log


The antechamber emergency lights remained active, despite the fact all other emergency lights on the station had winked out. The red glow gave a sinister look to the face of Victor Milavech as his mouth moved quickly, whispering prayers into his closed palm.

Tormanu's presence lessened for a moment as it basked in the near-fulfillment of its plan. Kenderson felt the crushing weight of its gaze vanish for a moment.

He bent over and grabbed Milavech's shoulders.

"She's in the vents. Find her. Save one."

The officer ran his hands down into Milavech's pocket and pulled out the M6D pistol.

With that, Kenderson felt the presence return in a flash of searing pain, demanding he return to the Master Control room and finish the night's work.

Andrew obeyed, leaving Milavech to ponder his words.


>>>>>>///ONI Orbital Research Platform
>>>>>>///Neptune, Sol System
>>>///June 26, 2568
>>>///0158 Hours
>///Delphi Station Recording Log


"It is done, master," Kenderson proclaimed.

He stepped back from the Master Control Station, then lifted his eyes toward the hangar exit. Although it was unnoticeable, the shield had been lowered, letting the vacuum of space burst into the hangar. The few crates on the steel floor were sucked out in the blackness.

Finally... it is over. The time of waiting has ended. Now the cleansing can begin.

Kenderson turned around to face Tormanu. The satanic silhouette seemed to pulsate with triumph, and its cold, unfeeling tendrils grew sharper and more noticeable in the confined space of the Master Control center.

The servant bowed to his knees, keeping his eyes on the floor.

"Master, I have served you faithfully with the utmost of Veracity. I humbly request that, before I give my life willingly to preserve the truth, I learn of the glorious universe that shall rise from your wisdom. Please, grant this wretched lost soul his wish."

Tormanu shifted subtly.

Very well, homo sapien. Perhaps you have earned that right.

It gasped forward towards the window, as if staring out into space.

My makers desired a continuation of organic life. They desired the continued rein of the glorious product of evolution that was sentient existence. I, and my companions, were tasked with preserving this great cause. After the rings were activated, we went into hibernation, until the time that organic life would evolve to the point of needing protection. And so we waited.

Andrew could feel the cold presence slowly lessening, as Tormanu began to spread his influence throughout the entire universe, letting his conscious form inhabit every corner of the stars.

The race of homo sapien, undeserving of the title "organic", to our dismay, evolved to the point of true sentiency. Its violent tendencies nearly destroyed itself time and time again, although we were too far away to stop the violence. Or too far buried... under millennia of rock and dust, millennia of ignorance and lost knowledge. There was nothing we could do.

With exaggerated slowness, Andrew dipped his hand into the pocket of his fatigues.

Then, the glorious randomness of the universe came to our aid. With your discovery of the Ark, I was able to return to the center of galactic civilization. For long I had only observed humanity, but then I was able to see the plethora of races that had inhabited the universe whilst I slept, all equally violent and self-destructive. The madness had to end.

His fingers gripped the pistol.

I could not contact my fellow preservers, although I felt them attempt to reach out to individual homo sapiens in order to understand the universe that had sprung up during their hibernation. Their attempts were... unsuccessful. I myself needed time to absorb this new universe around me. When I first attempted to exert dominance over the lifeforms on this station, my attempts resulted in madness in my servants. I knew I needed more time to recover, although thankfully not as much time as I had expected.

Kenderson slowly pulled the pistol out of his pocket and placed it behind his back, careful not to raise his eyes.

And now, now that the plan is complete, now that I can be free, and now that the foolish inhabitants of this station understand Veracity in their eternal sleep, I can fix the wrongs that the homo sapiens have done to this universe. They will all be cleansed, I will start the species anew, develop it in the form my makers saw fit. Organic life can not destroy itself with these petty notions of religion and emotion, of love and honor. Organic life must be logical in order to succeed. I will make it so.

Tormanu drifted back towards Kenderson, although the officer still could not feel as strong a presence surrounding him as before.

The universe will be glorious my servant. But you shall not live to see it.

At last, through the last vestiges of their mental connection, Kenderson felt Tormanu's consciousness fully fly from its physical form, tearing into the universe around it, beginning the influential process of annihilation that would eventually kill all it deemed fit to destroy.

And he felt the tangible shield that had kept its physical form safe from harm fade away.

Kenderson smiled as he stood up, and raised his pistol.

"That's all I needed to know."

He fired twice, and the rounds tore into the black form that drifted silently in the control room. Bits of dark substance flew outward from the wounds, screeching and writhing in agony as they smashed against the viewport.

Tormanu struggled to return his diffused consciousness back into himself, struggled to force it back onto Kenderson. And he succeeded.

Kenderson laughed at the blob's feeble attempt to re-gain control.

"You never controlled me, you arrogant machine. I just needed you to believe so in order for you to let that damn shield down. I was always the puppeteer in this, me!"

Kenderson fired another round into the blob. It writhed and screeched in agony, the sound tearing through the silence of Delphi Station, bursting and slipping through the stationary particles that filled the air.

Why, why has Veracity failed me? WHY?

Kenderson fired one more round.

"Same reason it failed for Belansky. Same reason it failed for Milavech. You're not as strong as you believe, Tormanu."

Tormanu gasped in pain, falling to the floor, as the bits of it evaporated from the glass surface of the viewport.

I have showed you the path, homo sapien. Even if you were not under my control, surely you must see the logic in what I must do. Organic life must go on!

"You're just an artificial creation in the end. Despite all your abilities, despite all your power, you were manufactured, constructed; just like this gun I'm using to kill you. How can you, a mere machine, possibly understand what it means to be alive? You believe we must exist simply to exist, you believe that there are scientific reasons for everything? You believe everything can and should be explained by a calculation? Sentient existence is more than that! LIFE is more than that!"

Your words reeeeeeek of the polluttttttion of ignoranceeeeee in the ssssshhhhing light of Veracity....

"No Tormanu. They encompass all that it means to be truly alive. All that it means to have sprung from the womb of another. All that it means to have loved, lost and felt."

"Goddamnit I did get a reward for falling, I did listen to my fifth grade teacher, I did ignore my college one, I did cry for my family, I did believe I could make I difference, and I fucking loved that girl! And you..."

"...You can do none of that."

But... Veracity... the... truuuuuthhhh

"Truth is only a perception."

Kenderson fired the last round in the clip.

Bonds broke, small machines were vaporized, noises were blasted outward, darkness receded, cold grew warm, the air grew lighter, and the shadows shortened.

And Tormanu, Life Preservation Model 876-501, pride and joy of the Forerunner Prosperity Syndicate, was destroyed.


>>>>>>///ONI Orbital Research Platform
>>>>>>///Neptune, Sol System
>>>///June 26, 2568
>>>///0319 Hours
>///Delphi Station Recording Log


His legs crossed and his arms folded, Andrew Kenderson stared out at the infinite emptiness of space. It had taken almost half an hour for the hangar to re-pressurize due to the power outage, and from then on Kenderson had not changed his position once. Several thoughts flew through his head, but most of them were blatantly overshadowed by the single, painful realization that continued to cross his mind.

I killed them... he thought, over, and over again.

The footsteps that slowly grew louder behind him eventually grabbed the distressed man's attention. He turned his head sideways, and caught Milavech standing in his peripheral vision.

The Russian emulated a broken man. His fatigues were ragged and torn in several places, and his hands were bloody. His dark hair was tousled and ravaged across his forehead. A cold, unfeeling grimace was etched into his face.

But the worst part was his eyes.

They had seen too many things; things done by the hands that they helped control and things done by hands they did not control. All were terrible, and all were haunting.

Kenderson did not even flinch at the destroyed appearance of his new companion, he felt no surprise, considering what the man must have been through. However, he did need to ask one question.

"Covez... did you get her out?"

Milavech's head dropped.

"I found her. Right after you told me.She inhaled a lot of coolant. She's resting in the dorms now, but it doesn't look good."

Kenderson's head slowly spun back around towards the hangar entrance.

"It's not your fault. She never stood a chance."

"I went up into the Master Control room," Milavech stammered, as if hesitant to believe what he had saw, "and I saw what was left of the Thing. Is... is it over? Did you kill it?"

"It's name was Tormanu," responded Kenderson, "and yes, its dead."

Milavech stood still, his face betraying no sign of emotion. His eyes seemed to stare vacantly into nothingness.

"That's good."

"I killed them, Victor. You know that, right?" Kenderson asked in a flat voice.

"Who?" inquired Milavech, sounding genuinely puzzled.

"Lin, Belansky, Covez... they're all dead because of me."

"No," said Milavech. Suddenly, his posture seemed to strengthen. His eyes gained a bit of light and his face began to shift from its shocked appearance. The ability to console someone else, the ability to tell someone everything was going to be okay, that feeling of satisfaction that came from helping someone; the Russian needed that badly now. And it gave him strength.

"You did not," he continued, "no one could have stopped its influence. Belansky came close... but I... it doesn't matter. Do not blame yourself."

"You don't understand," Kenderson whispered, "I was never under its influence. It never affected me in the first place. After that first episode, when I attacked you, I never felt under its control again. I don't understand how I was able to resist it, but the whole time I was in control. And I saw everything too, I saw its plan, I saw what it was going to do and how it was going to do it, I saw the entire night outlined for us all, how we would die and when, down to the last minute. And I didn't do a damn thing."

"I don't... what do you mean?" asked Milavech, a hint of fear creeping into his voice.

"I could have stopped it at any time. I could have warned all of you what it was going to do, I could have used its plan against it, I could have stopped it... but I didn't. It's my fault they died. I could have stopped it."

Milavech's moment of strength collapsed in on itself. He visibly shrunk, his shoulders sinking and his legs buckling. His eyes were opened wide in shock. Not just at Kenderson's admission, but at the undeniable fact, simply from the way his voice was flat and serene when he said it, that the man was telling the truth.

He stepped around Kenderson's legs and stood directly in front of him, blocking his view of the hangar entrance. Kenderson's eyes remained fixed straight, staring right into Milavech's stomach.

A punch hit him square across the jaw. His head snapped to the side painfully. Andrew kept his arms crossed and his legs still as two more blows rammed into his cheeks. Another hit him above the eye, and a cut opened up, dripping blood down his face. Milavech's hits just kept coming for what seemed like an eternity.

And Kenderson felt like he deserved every one.

At last, the beating was over. Milavech stood stock still, his knuckles dripping blood onto the floor. Kenderson remained in his same position and said nothing as his face burned.

"Why?" Victor seethed.

"I needed to make sure it let its guard down. To let down its protection. And it was watching me so closely; if I told any of you, it wouldn't have mattered. But its no excuse, they're dead because of me."

Kenderson looked up into Milavech's face. His expression remained unreadable.

"I sacrificed their lives to kill just one, worthless, machine. I'm no better than it is... treating a human life as a mere tool for the 'greater good.'"

Milavech sat down next to Kenderson, holding his knees up to his chest.

"On my first drop, back in 2550, my battalion was tasked with eliminating a Minor Prophet on some Mid Rim world called Darius. This was the furthest the Covenant had ever come into UNSC space, and we had to halt their advance. Killing this Prophet was the key."

Kenderson's eyes returned to the bright stars masked against the blackness.

"We camped on this ridge-line that overlooked the main settlement. It was a huge city, taking up an entire eighty square kilometer valley. Darius may have been a Mid Rim colony, but its economy worked like an Outer Territory world; agriculture was the main trade business and farms were all around. I guess once the UNSC realized all their Outer farm planets were getting wasted they decided to reporpuse some Mid Rim colonies. The point is, Tebtholou was the largest city around. And that was where his prophet was going to land to coordinate his attack on the system.

Milavech picked at some torn threads hanging from a rip in his sweater. He kept his eyes firmly fixed on his sleeve.

"The Prophet suspected he was going to be assassinated. He stuck to the center of the city, where he thought he would be out of range of sniper fire. This, of course, made it impossible for him to reach the Covenant vessels stationed outside the city that would fly him off planet. So he needed a way to draw us out."

Milavech paused for a moment. He closed his eyes and sighed, as if conceding to the fact that there was no way he could put off the point of the story any longer.

"He had been holding the entire city hostage for three days; to interrogate different workers on the functions of this particular planet and the system as a whole. But they had served their purpose. So every day he would bring a thousand of them into the city square, in clear view of our spotters and shooters, and have the Jackals and Grunts eat them alive. He started with the men, then moved on to the women, then moved on to the children. I still hear their screams..."

Milavech swallowed.

"We could have stopped them at any time. We had a good five dozen men, and at least six hundred Covenant troops were in that square every morning. We could have taken them all out in the span of five minutes. But we knew that was what the Prophet wanted; for us to give away our position so he could smoke us out. So we waited. Eventually, he ran out of people to kill."

"I guess he assumed that there was no creature in the universe, especially not a pathetic human, that could witness that carnage and not do anything about it. He figured that there was, in fact, no one out to kill him. When he floated out towards his ship in that hover-chair of his, my Sergeant shot him right in the head. That prophet killed over 500,000 Human beings. My entire batallion killed just one Covenant leader."
Sixteen of the men in my battalion ate their gun's the next day. Three days after that, the Covenant operation in that system collapsed without leadership. We were evac'd off the planet in a week. The brass said that billions of lives were saved. All we knew was that half a million had been lost."

Milavech finally looked towards Kenderson and saw that the officer was returning the stare. His face slowly collapsed, and he broke down into tears.

As Kenderson cried gently into his own hands, Milavech turned back toward the stars.

"It was not the right thing to do. It was the only thing to do."

Slowly, as the dawn arrived, the Neptune's penumbrae was lit by the sun's rays. The planet began to rotate into the light and into visibility, fast seas of blue revealed to the two men sitting in the hangar. The bright glare of the sun shined into the hangar, casting light onto shadow and sending the darkness scurrying backwards.

A single ship sped towards the station from somewhere near Saturn

And Andrew Kenderson wept for lives lost, for battles won, for sacrifices made, and for victories gained.





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