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Halo 3: The Ark-Chapter 1
Posted By: FOrunnER<raiderjake74@yahoo.com>
Date: 9 January 2005, 5:17 AM

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Authors note: Not really much to say. I'm not as into Halo anymore so my posts may not be as frequent, but I still find it interesting or I wouldn't be writing. This is a pretty long first chapter, and there are spoilers for those who havn't finished Halo 2. Oh yeah, and for those who don't know:

      "BRING THE SURVIVORS BEFORE ME", the bellow echoed throughout the dimly lit purple room. Every grin was wiped off of every face, and the Jiralhanae and there subordinates stood at strict attention as there leader, there general, entered the High Charity Worship Chamber.
       The Chamber was a large room, circular in design with many pillars embroidered with glowing gems along its circumference. The roof was vaulted a good twelve stories high, hanging from it was a massive silver chandelier of decorative display. Dominating the front of the room was an enormous mirrored window, covered in a patchwork of different colored glass like stained glass, a hologram projected just a few feet from it of a massive Halo ring. Nearly a hundred benches were all lined in rows facing the display.
       Ratakus scanned the room. He was, very nearly, appalled, and that was a hard thing to make a Jiralhanae considering they thrived on carnage and blood. The pillars that had been embroided with the most priceless gems the Covenant could find were scorched black or knocked down all together. Those gems shone no more. The silver chandelier that had projected out beautiful color displays on the ceilings had been smashed to the floor, the energy cables that had been holding it were no longer active. The benches had been uprooted and strewn about, and the giant stained-glass window had shattered into a thousand pieces, its holo-display flickered on and off.
       The Worship Chamber was one of the many holy sites sprinkled throughout the High Charity where Covenant leaders of high statures, such as council members or on occasion even the Hierarchs themselves, came to show there humble loyalty the mighty Gods. No violence had ever allowed in the Worship Chamber, as part of the Covenant oath you swore that you would never fight on Prophet-decreed sanctuaries. Fighting on holy sites was one of the highest forms of sacrilege. He had once seen a pair of Kig-Yar fight in a holy site, the next they had been beaten to near death by Unggoy 'volunteers' then hung by there genitals and paraded through the city. They had still been alive, and survived the ordeal only to rot in the jail cells.
       However the Prophets had given Ratakus permission to do whatever was necessary to rid the High Charity of the Sangheili scum. Knowing that violence was not allowed in the Worship Chamber, many Sangheili had sunk refuge there as a chance to regroup. They had established a make-shift base and his forces, not knowing what to do, stood outside the chamber dumbfounded. When the order had been given, they swept through the holy site like a wave. Sixty units later victory had been assured, and nearly a platoon of Sangheili and three pairs of Lekgolo rebels lay dead, with the same approximate numbers of Jiralhanae, Kig-Yar, and Yanme'e scattered about.
       Ratakus was still scanning the carnage when his Jiralhanae brought four Sangheili before him. Two were white SpecOps commanders, one was a gold Zealot, and the last survivor was a lowly red Major. He was by far the most injured, two of his mandible hung limp, burn marks pocketed his armor, his helmet was gone, and there was a moderately deep gash across his chest, mostly likely from the blade of a Brute Shot. They were all forced down on there knees as a trio of Jiralhanae guards a handful of Kig-Yar pointed there weapons at the four Sangheili's heads. Ratakus stood in front of the line of Sangheili. Every individual stared strait ahead and refused to acknowledge him.
       Ratakus inspected them each, then grabbed the red major's should plate and hefted him up. The Sangheili grunted but continued to stare strait ahead, one hand at his side and another over the cut across his chest.
       The Jiralhanae eyed him, "Do you want to live, Sangheili?"
       The question, he could see, had taken him off guard. The Sangheili blinked in surprise for several seconds then maintained his stoic expression. After a few more minutes of contemplating the Sangheili turned his head stared Ratakus dead in the eyes. He snarled then spat on the ground.
       He chuckled. Ratakus un-clipped a Brute Plasma Rifle from his side. The Sangheili glanced at it then raised his head high in a very dignified stance, awaiting imminent death. The Plasma Rifle was shoved into his hand.
       "All you must do, Sangheili, to earn your life and your place in the Covenant back, is to shoot him", a long, hairy finger extended at the Zealot.
       The other Sangheili to turned there heads towards the red major and the Jiralhanae Ratakus. The Junior Chieftain, for his part, was all but bursting out from laughter inside. He would not let the Sangheili live regardless of whether he killed his brethren or not, but he enjoyed pushing the limits of there loyalty.
       The Sangheili, puzzled, looked at the plasma rifle as if he had just been given some incredibly difficult puzzle to solve. The rifle was raised and aimed at the Zealot, both of them shared a look and nodded.
       The blow came so fast that most would not have been able to react in time, but Ratakus had expected it before-hand. The Sangheili attempted to swing his rifle back around and knock him on the side of his head, but Ratakus already had one big hairy arm up to block it. While he was blocking the Majors attack with one hand, the other was already plunging a captured plasma sword into the warriors side. It let out an ear-splitting scream that reverberated throughout the room, which was soon muffled by a gurgle in its throat. The white-hot sword was plunged through and through, however the Sangheili still refused to die. Ratakus pulled the Sangheili towards him on the blade and began twisting it, tearing up its internal organs. A small stream of purple blood escaped between its mandibles as it finally went limp. He was pushed off the blade like a piece of meat.
       The rest of the Sangheili roared with anger and broke there bindings with concealed swords of there own. They didn't even make it two steps before plasma and Needler fire from every conceivable direction punctured there bodies. They all fell with sizzling burns covering there bodies like swiss cheese, one flew apart into several bloody chunks afterwards from a needle explosion.
       Ratakus stepped over the bloodied bodies, and raised his sword high. A cacophony of noises arose in the chamber, growls and hollers from his fellow Jiralhanae, screeches from the Kig-Yar footmen, and high-pitched buzzes from the legion of Yanme'e in the rafters. It all conjoined into one skull-splitting cheer that some claimed they could hear from even the Lower Districts. Victory had been assured, the Sangheili rebels and there followers had been cast down, and at the very least every creature in the room knew they had assured themselves a spot in the Great Journey. The Prophets will' had been done.
       Ratakus forces nearly trampled each other as they charged out of the room. The Brute had sent them into a blood lust. Those filthy beasts let the Prophet of Regret die, and for that they could be granted no mercy. They would avenge the fallen leader....

       Ratakus trailed his rampaging troops. The captured plasma sword was a remarkable weapon, it was a shame that for so many years it had been wasted in such incompetent hands. He held the sparkling sword the light, the blood from his latest kill cast a purple shadow across his face. He grinned and deactivated the weapon. There would be many chances to use in the near future.


       Meanwhile, unbeknownst to them, another, greater presence watched them rush out, interested and slightly amused. It to had forces that thirsted from blood, but for now they would work in the shadows. They would wait until the Reclaimer completed or failed to complete his mission, then they would strike. They too would grant no mercy. ......


       The room had suddenly turned dark. It was creepy, its vast size made it feel like a gigantic cavern. The lack of security at her back made Miranda nervous. Some sort of mechanical hum whirred to life within the depths of the control room, and a dim, seemingly source-less light filled the room.
       A screen suddenly popped on in front of her. Several small rings spread out along a holographic surfaces, each one with a line of unique symbols sprouting from it with what she could only imagine was technical data. One ring had several breaks along its surface and was flashing red, no doubt Installation 04, and another ring was flashing green. Perhaps the one the were on.
       A glowing purple light was in the center of the display, spider-webs of energy connecting to the other installations. As she was studying it 343 Guilty Spark floated down from above carrying what would have been, at any other time, a very comical creature. It was Sergeant Johnson, hugging the Monitor for dear life as he crossed the chasm, he alternated between cursing in several languages and pleading with numerous divine entities ('OH GOD, DON'T LET ME DIE. OH JESUS.'). Johnson let go of Spark after crossing the perilous drop and nearly kissed the ground he stood on. Miranda ignored the sweating Johnson and addressed Spark.
       "What' that?", she pointed to the light in the center of the display.
       It answered bluntly, a rare commodity, "A beacon"
       "What's it doing?"
       Sounding more like his regular self, "Communicating with super-aluminum speeds with the frequency of-"
       "Communicating with what?"
       "The other installations", it decided to explain further to avoid being caught off guard by anymore exceedingly basic questions. "Secondary protocol. In the event of a canceled firing sequence, the entire system moves onto standby status. The other Installations are now ready for remote activation".
       It added with an irritated huff, "Except for Installation 04"
       Miranda ignored the last quip. She had more important things on here mind. "Remote activation? From here?"
       It chided, "Don't be ridiculous"
       Johnson, annoyed that he was still sweating, growled "Listen tinkerbell, don't make me-"
       Miranda put a hand on his shoulder. "Then where? Where would someone go to activate the other rings?"
       Spark cocked his 'head'. "Why, the Ark of course"
       "And where, Oracle, is that?"
       A giant figure stepped in from behind Miranda and Johnson. The Arbiter and an escort of six Elites returned to the middle of the platform after having disposed of Tartarus body over the side of the chasm. Johnson noted with discomfort how the group surrounded there position. This new alliance was something he may never get used to.
       The Monitor was now completely lost. It turned its 'head' from Miranda to Johnson to the Arbiter then back. For it that was the most basic question they could ask, comparable to asking a full grown adult where his own head was located.
       It's tone suddenly turned suspicious. "I must ask why Reclaimer's. Are you repealing your decision not to activate the rings?"
       Johnson laughed. "Ha! Now why the hell would we do that you dumb bucket of bolts-"
       "ARBITER!!", one of the Elites surrounding there position yelled. The Arbiter and, subsequently, every other head in the room jerked up. Sentinels, dozens of them, were drifting upwards form the chasm below them. Both the shielded and non-shielded variety surrounded them, including an Enforcer. All of them had there laser cannon and/or energy motors armed.
       Everybody on the platform had a weapon up and ready. The Arbiter aimed a Carbine, Johnson hefted a Beam Rifle, Miranda produced a Magnum, and the half-dozen Elites around the loaded/charged/activated various weapons. Even with each of them aiming at a different Sentinel, there was not enough to cover all the targets and more were floating up. Within another thirty seconds those dozen Sentinels and single Enforcer became three dozen Sentinels and three Enforcers. Even as the Arbiter searched for possible weaknesses, strategies, or even escape routes, he became aware that the situation was entirely hopeless.
       The Monitor floated out of arms-reach and started humming. The machine was oblivious to the glares it received from every living creature in the room. When it saw fit, it explained. "Protocol requires me to assist the Reclaimer or Reclaimer's in any way possible. However, if the Reclaimer's actions directly interferes with any part of the protocol itself, as if by removing the Index during the critical count-down moment, then I am authorized to assume the Reclaimer has become rampant and intervene as necessary".
       It turned to Miranda. "Please turn over the Index to me. There is still time to find another Reclaimer and get the countdown back on track. I can assure you that your deaths will all be as painless as possible-"
       Miranda shot it. The bullet sparked off of its housing and elicited nothing more than a scoff, "I am sorry that you have not seen the reasoning in my offer. I quite enjoyed my time with you while in captivity", its next comment was direct at the Sentinels, but purposefully made loud enough for them to hear. "Kill all but the female. Bring her to me so I can retrieve the Index, then dispose of her"
       Before the Sentinels could do just that, an explosion rocked the room. Somewhere up high above, a Scarab energy weapon had punched through the layers protective alloys surrounding the roof of the control room. The lighting of the room suddenly changed from dim to extremely bright as the late-morning sun shined in from outside.
       A large piece of debris speared one of the Enforcers, and a shower of smaller debris knocked out several Sentinels. A few of the mechanical contingent attacked there group, but they were dispatched fairy quick. The majority had already floated farther upwards to face whatever was coming out of that hole.
       The answer was fairly unexpected, a Pelican nose dived its way through the hole and ran over a couple of Sentinels on its way. The rest of them opened fire on it, burning deep gouaches into its titanium bulkhead, but it was another one of the Enforcers that scored the kill with its energy motor. The Pelican plummeted like a rock down the chasm, narrowly missing there floating platform and disappearing into the depths below.
       The crash was still echoing through the room when the Banshee's dropped in. Immediately they started making mince-meat out of the Sentinels and harassed the Enforcers with there fuel rod cannons. However something wasn't right.
       The Arbiter, with his trained eye, noticed it first. Most of the Banshee's dropping into the control room were heavily damaged, that in itself wouldn't have been all that unusual if there was a big battle outside. However he got the feeling that the damage on the flyers were not the result of battle, but of bad flying.
       One of the banshees managed to scrape its left 'wing' against the wall of the Control Room until the anti-grav pod on that side was ripped off, forcing to craft to permanently fly at an unnatural tilt. Another of the Banshee's did nothing but loop-de-loops until it collided with the under-carriage of the Enforcer. And finally, this is how he found out for sure that the Banshee's were not piloted by Brutes or Elites, one of the pilots abandoned his craft altogether. The combat form fell from the rider-less Banshee and onto the wide back of the second Enforcer. It grabbed hold with one gnarled hand and fired a scavenged SMG into the machine with the other. Virtually no damage was done, but the Enforcer was distracted from the main battle as it attempted to shake off the boarder.
       However the Elite-Human alliance had there own problems separate from the battle above. In addition to the Sentinels sent to dispatch them, Covenant forces were sent pouring through both of the control room doors. The Brutes engaged them at the same time the Sentinels still below also engaged them, and chaos consumed. Flood controlled aircraft and Sentinels were battling above, Brutes, Jackals and Drones were mounting a defense against the Sentinels below and simultaneously trying to mount an offense against the Arbiter's Elites and there human alliance.
       The Arbiter rapidly fired Carbine rounds and sent a Brute captain to the ground with a trickle of blood flowing from its forehead. Johnson managed to take down one of the Sentinels with a beam shot, it exploded and showered a trio of Jackals below with shrapnel. A purple armored 'commando' Elite managed to slice apart a Brute that had made the leap to there position, another red armored Elite was blown apart from the waste down by Brute Shots, and Miranda used a few well placed Magnum bullets to shoot a Drone that had been fluttering about.
       It was no use, more just kept filing in. Thankfully they kept most of there attention on the equally large Sentinel force, if either side had turned there full attention to there small band they would have been instantly overwhelmed.
       The Arbiter unleashed the rest of his Carbine clip onto a passing Sentinel, and turned his back towards the battle. He stared intently at the holo-panel and started punching in symbols as fast as his four-fingered hands would allow.
       Johnson fired off a shot with his Beam Rifle and was forced to wait as it cooled. He turned and shouted over his shoulder at him, although he could still barely be heard, "What the Hell are your doing!!"
       "We cannot win this fight, and our escape route has been blocked by the Brutes", he replied calmly, even as a stray plasma bolt was absorbed by his shield.
       Johnson put the Beam Rifle to his shoulder and fired again, this time at a Banshee as it dipped in low in an attempt to turn an Elite into a blood splatter, it succeeded and flew off. Johnson's Beam missed but the pilot didn't seem to be interested in him anyway, it swooped back up and came under fire from several Sentinels. He grunted, "You turning your back on a fight, split-lip!!"
       The Arbiter growled in mild annoyance, "We must protect the Icon from the Brutes and the Sentinels at all cost, which means that this 'Commander' of yours must also be protected. I am attempting to reverse the gravity lift transcending the three platforms so that it will take use down to the lower levels. The shaft at the bottom of the control room on Installation 04 connected directly to the underground tunnels circumcising the rings, and I am assuming this rings control room has a similar entrance to those tunnels. It may be our only means of escape"
       He explained all this while standing calmly in the midst a raging firefight, occasionally catching stray shots on his shields. Those shields were now down to half percent yet the Arbiter had not even flinched when those projectiles hit him or, for that matter, even blink. He was completely focused on his task. The Sergeant had to admit that the Elite had balls.
       While the Sergeant was both keeping his eye on the Arbiter and trying to hold back a wave of enemies, Miranda had drifted from the main body of the group. A Jackal that had managed to traverse the platform had a large grin on his face as he lifted his overcharged pistol, the green glow made him look like some kind of warped monster.
       It was surprised when the seemingly frail human let off a series of quick, accurate shots with its small projectile weapon and rolled out of the way. Most of the bullets either missed completely or hit its shield, but either a very lucky or very accurate round had managed to hit the wrist of its shooting arm. The alien screeched and dropped the pistol, covering its bleeding wrist with its other hand.
       Miranda had completed her roll and now found she had a perfect angle on the Jackal. She fired another trio of rounds and made three neat holes in the Jackals chest. It fell backwards over the lip of the platform, then floated back up. Up on the back of a Sentinel that is. Another one quickly followed it, both had there laser cannons trained on her.
       She closed her eyes, and flew through the air as she was she was knocked to the ground. One of the Arbiters Elites had shoved her aside and absorbed the punishment of the Sentinels lasers on his own shield. The Minor unleashed its own punishment with dual Plasma Rifles. A constant wave of blue-white energy dissipated against the lead Sentinels shields for what seemed like eternity...then finally broke through. The machine seemed to rock in the air as if it were being physically punched, and exploded as the metal protecting its engine evaporated.
       The Elite turned its rifles on the second Sentinel, but it was to late. The laser fire burned through his own shields and cut through his chest. Miranda got to her knees and found her fallen pistol and expended the last of her clip but she may as well have been throwing marsh-mellows. She nearly jumped when it exploded, she still hadn't even broken through its shielding.
       Johnson had expended the last percentile of energy in his Beam Rifle and un-slung a Shotgun as he ran to her. The black man hefted her up with one arm and shouted, "With all due respect ma'm, don't EVER do anything that stupid again"
       She shot him a look.
       "I would have to agree with the larger one", Miranda looked over Johnson's shoulder. The Elite that had shoved her out of the way of certain death was miraculously standing, holding the smoking wound in its chest with one hand, the other grasping one of its plasma rifles. It seemed to have much trouble breathing.
       She was about to thank him when another large explosion sounded overhead. One of the Sentinel Enforcers overhead blew apart piece by piece as its frame finally buckled under the impact of multiple fuel rod rounds. Its flaming carcass fell down chasm, close enough to Miranda's position that she could feel the heat from it.
       "We need to get the HELL out of dodge", said Johnson. He grabbed Miranda and pulled her away, the Elite that had saved Miranda followed.
       The gravity beam in the center of the platform had changed from white to a dark, dark purple. The Arbiter was no longer typing symbols on the console, he had his Carbine up and was covering the purple commando Elite as it was zipped down the shaft in a dark beam of light.
       The Arbiter glanced at them, "Go, I'll cover you from here"
       Miranda had no objections, there was no need of force from Johnson as she was led to the lift and stepped in, the heroic Elite bringing up there rear. They zipped down the beam of light and into the darkness below.
       The Arbiter watched them step in out of the corner of his eye and refocused his attention. He fired several more shots from his Carbine and knocked down two more Brutes, and a sailing plasma grenade took care of tightly-packed group of Jackals. Two of his brothers were still trapped amongst the horde of Sentinels and Brutes, but they would not make it in time. He would still not leave them till he was sure.
       He watched as one of them was felled by an Brute Berserker, it pinned him down and pounded its fist on the Elites chest until the armor caved in and bone broke. The second made skilled use of several grenades and Needler fire to dispatch a group of Jackals and Brutes attacking him, but was ultimately shot in the back by a Sentinel.
       There was no more time for delay, the Arbiter turned around and stepped into the beam. He was zipped down into the darkness with the rest of his comrades. The lift shut down behind him.....