Posted By: Ape Man<email@example.com>
Date: 18 January 2000, 3:59 p.m.
In a dream, I was at Tau Ceti. Only it was not in its present state, torn by stellar wind and singed by the fury of dying atoms. Rather, it was the seat of a glorious empire, spreading out beyond Hanelt. Nearly to the accursed Halo.
Much to my chagrin, I found that the emperor was my father. A man who I never knew well enough to judge, although my mother always called him "A horrid, horrid man. He got what he deserved." As a child, I never believed her. I could never understand how she could have lived with him for so long should she be speaking her true feelings.
He spoke to me. Simple, yet eloquent. Modest, yet wise. Far from the beastly portrayal of my mother. "Do you wish to die?" Shockingly, I at last understood his words, though it took some time for I was still in awe at his majesty, his wonder. Quickly, pressured and forced, I uttered a simple no in response. "Loyal subjects," he began anew, this time addressing all of his advisors and councilmen. "What do you know of honor?"
As if on cue, "Honor is what binds a man to another, and comrades to their fallen. Heroes are honorable. Murderers are not. Emperors are honorable. Dictators are not."
"But Emperors are not honorable, my subjects. The only true honor comes from heroism." He paused, and smiled at me, great auburn beard smeared across his face like some sort of long-haired, symobiotic creature which feed from his blood in exchange for wisdom. "Tell me, child, do you wish to be a hero?"
"Yes, sir," I answered, head still to the earth. I would not allow myself to udnermine his greatness by showing disrespect.
"My subjects, tell me of heroes!"
"Heroes are those who value not their own lives. Only through death can honor be achieved. Only through death can heroes be born. There are phoenix', rising from settling dust. Spirits, flitting proudly through a newfound world of non-life."
Once again, he addressed me. "Child, you say you do not wish to die, yet you wish to attain heroism. How can this be true?"
"I don't know, sir."
And my father's parting words were harsh, biting. "You will never be a hero."
When I awoke from that dream, the Sons of the Jjaro were once again visting the camp. This time, I avoided their conversation, as their deep-minded, long-term philosophy was simply too much in times such as this. Strangely, I did not seek Milboq, either, though he was no doubt near the turrets, cleaning his weapons and preparing for war. I found myself yearning to speak with Cortana.
Her chilling conversation still fresh in my mind, I vanquished all logical thought and preapred once more for combat. Somewhere, perhaps from reality or from a deep, forgotten corner of my subconscious, a voice whispered Shakespeare to me. "Whether 'tis nobler, in the mind, to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing, end them. To die, to sleep."
And the soft whisper of plasma batteries firing carried across the wind, and I could make out Milboq perched atop his beloved turret, hurling nova heat down upon his approaching foes. With as much conviction as I would have preparing for Death, I readied my own weapon, a simple antimatter acceleration device, and sheathed a peice of anicent scrap metal to my belt. With a twitch of my wrist, narrow tubes dropped from my armor, stnading silently nearby, and clicked snugly into sockets along the left side of my skull. In instants, the suit envoloped me, amoeba-like, and then solidified once more. A faint cerulean glow emanated from my back, as shields sprang to life.
The Covenant were approaching quickly, heavily-laden with weapons and the will to fight. Herds upon herds of them. Vaguely, I realized they were not herds but ranks, organized and steady. Reinforced wings, with thinner center lines. Artillery appeared in the distance, belching faint speckles of irridescence.
Taking position along the outer wall of our camp, nothing more than an embankment of muddy earth, my father's words came once again to mind.
"You will never be hero."
At the moment, tumult broke out as the first shots were exchanged, and I gently depressed the trigger. I recall thinking how little difference I would make in the coming struggle.