Halo 3: The Ark, Chapter 2- A Legacy Desecrated
Posted By: FOrunnER<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 23 January 2005, 8:36 AM
Authors Note: The time of posting is about 1:30 in the morning for me, so I really hope you all like this once. I'll give names to all the chapters in this series, I meant to title chapter one 'Arbiters Escape' but I forgot to type that in. I hope you guys enjoy, and I'm sorry if theres any trouble reading it, I'm beat.
And for those who don't know:
Halo 3: The Ark-Chapter 2, A Legacy Desecrated
Ratakus pulled with all his strength, his iron-hard muscles strained against his stubborn enemy. A pair of Jiralhanae attempted to help him, but he turned his head and let out a deep growl. He would do this by himself.
It finally started to give way, the metallic supports keeping it in place groaned and buckled. The Junior Chieftain gave one final pull, and the crypt slid out of the wall neatly. He used his plasma sword to slice off the top of it. The Sword was quickly becoming his trademark within the Covenant forces, many still had not gotten used to the site of a being allowed to carry such a magnificent weapon.
On the inside of the purple box-like container was the body of an Sangheili, nearly perfectly preserved and dressed in a magnificent suit of silver armor that shone in the Mausoleum's now dim lighting. The Sangheili had its chins raised and eyes closed, one of its hands was over its chest, covering a ragged puncture wound. Purple blood had long ago crusted over the skin and armor on that part of the body. It's pose signified dignity and pride, a warrior that had sacrificed his life for the greater good of his empire.
This concept was lost on the two Jiralhanae that had been nearby. The two unceremoniously dragged the body out its resting place. One grabbed its legs while the other grabbed under its arms, and they threw the body into the air. It landed on a pile of dead Sangheili nearly ten feet tall, all of them bearing similar armor. All of them former Arbiters.
Ratakus and his forces had taken the Mausoleum. That wasn't surprising, he had known that victory was almost a given. What was surprising was that there hadn't been any resistance. Every Sangheili and Lekgolo that had holed up inside the Mausoleum had been killed, including a Councilor. However whatever entity had done this had not targeted only the Sangheili and there allies. Nearly a dozen Jiralhanae and supporting Yanme'e and Kig-Yar infantry had also been smited, no doubt the remains of and assault force .
Surely at least some of the damage done they had inflicted upon each other, but had a third party not been involved at least one side would have a few stragglers left that would have been able to claim the Mausoleum, but there had been none left alive.
Well, that wasn't completely true. An Unggoy had seen the entire battle unfold from his shadowy corner, a hiding spot for the cowardly creature. After some severe beatings it had revealed that the human abomination had been responsible for the carnage. The Demon, the Destroyer of the Ring, the Master Chief.
Ratakus had sweeper teams combing High Charity in search of it, but he doubted it was still onboard. The Prophet of Truth had departed on the Forerunner ship en route to Earth, and Tartarus had left with the Sacred Icon along two high-ranking Human prisoners in tow. There was nothing that the Demon could possibly want on High Charity now, so it most likely had left the city by one mean or another. Perhaps it had taken one of the escape pods, they fired from the High Charity periodically now. Either way, he had to admit to himself that right now the Demon had been a help to him. His forces now held the Mausoleum uncontested thanks to his deed, and they could now carry out the Prophets will.
Several bodies rained from the sky, all of them also former Arbiters. Some landed in the huge pile, others didn't. Those that missed were dragged over to it by Kig-Yar standing nearby. Ratakus had just pulled out the last crypt from the wall within arms reach, now Jiralhanae with anti-gravity packs (scavenged from High Charities main armory) and Yanme'e were working on getting the ones higher up. Most of the Jiralhanae were working in pairs with several Yanme'e to pull the crypts out. Ratakus took great pride in the fact that he had managed to pull one out on his own. Each one had been sealed into the walls with metal braces that were 'welded' into place. Pulling one out by ones self was an rather large accomplishment, even for a Jiralhanae.
All the bodies in the crypts were as perfectly preserved as the day they had died, however for most that meant they weren't in very good shape at all. The one that Ratakus had recovered had been one of the better looking ones, chest wound and all. The majority of those pulled out were missing limbs or body parts of some kind, arms, legs, heads, torso's and so forth. It was not uncommon for the bodies to have many scars along the surface of the skin. Some of the more severe ones looked as if they had been charred black, others look like the skin had bubbled and melted while it was still alive. The bodies condition all depended on the circumstances in which they died. Some had been blown apart and parts of them never found. He had opened one crypt earlier where nothing had been left of the body save a head and a spinal column, like some sort of sick staff. He had toyed with the idea of keeping it and using it as such, but decided it would burn with the rest.
His train of thought was interrupted by the flickering of lights. They shut down for several seconds, then switched back on, but even dimmer than before. This disturbed Ratakus. Ever since the Forerunner ship had disengaged, power problems had run amok within High Charity. A series of generators had been strung throughout the holy city, but they had never been intended to power the whole city. Jiralhanae had evolved on a planet with only a distant red-dwarf as a sun, so they were fine with little light. However in no light they were blind as a Sangheili, and therefore just as vulnerable. Ratakus didn't like that.
He motioned to a nearby Jiralhanae, his personal assistant Bratakus. He was not particularly tall for his species but was broader than most, a lack of left eye was his most distinguishing feature. Bratakus had made himself known throughout the Covenant for his open hatred for the Sangheili, even before the Civil War. A quarrel with an Sangheili Zealot, 'Argomee, resulted in a scuffle within spitting distance of a holy site. The Zealot had pulled a plasma pistol on him, but Bratakus had overpowered the Sangheili's gun hand and forced it to his own temple. The matter had been simply forgotten by the Prophets. It had been one of the first early signs of the Prophets being discontent with the Sangheili's service.
Bratakus moved towards him.
"Have the troops hasten their work. The Mausoleum Tower has encountered several blackouts since our arrival, and I do not wish to be here when power fails completely"
Bratakus bowed his head. "The last crypts are being opened now. We have amassed nearly all the bodies"
Indeed it was true. The walls of the Mausoleum had been stripped clean, only the top most ring of crypts were left, and the Yanme'e and Jiralhanae Rangers were already working on removing them. They let the crypts drop to the ground from some twenty-odd stories, most broke open on impact and made it much easier for the Kig-Yar and Unggoy (those that were still loyal to the Prophets word) to get to the bodies. The pile had heightened.
As per decree of the Hierarchs, as part of the Sangheili's punishment in addition to being hunted down to extinction, every official record of an honorable action taken by a Sangheili to protect the Covenant would be dismissed and, if possible, erased from the Covenant archives. The mere presence of the Arbiters corpses were such a record. They would soon be erased.
The Sangheili may have been weak and incompetent, but Ratakus knew that they were no fools. Whatever leadership remained amongst the scattered rebel forces must have realized that there Mausoleum was in peril the moment the Prophet declared all Sangheili 'heretics' and ordered there complete extermination from the Covenant. It was an awkwardly indefensible position, simply being one small tower in the middle of a hollowed-out large tower. There was no logical reason for the rebels to have chosen it as a mustering point unless they realized that several thousand years worth of Sangheili ancestry and honor was at stake. They had been trying to prevent exactly what was happening now. They had failed. Just like they had failed the Prophets.
The last body had been gathered. Two Kig-Yar appeared from a corner of the room hefting rather large looking weapons. Each one had a long, hose like barrel with a brightly glowing end and a thick, stocky purple body that they held under them. The weapons were Incinerators, the equivalent of plasma flamethrowers. They were too cumbersome for frontline use, mostly they were used for sterilizing fields of bodies after Flood engagements, to make sure that there was nothing left for passing spores to infect. Today they would be used to scour away a different kind of parasite. A 1,000 year-old parasite that had been embedded within the Covenant since its formation. The Sangheili legacy.
The Kig-Yar charged there Incinerators and let loose a wall of blue flames. They licked at the edge of the bodies and refused to catch fire for several seconds, then finally burned bright. The blue-white flames spread until the entire pile became engulfed in flames. The chemicals that had been used to keep the bodies so perfectly preserved released a nauseating odor. It overpowered the whole room and, apparently, every living thing in the rooms senses.
The Yanme'e turned a slightly paler shade of green (although changes in skin color was the most emotion those creatures ever showed). The Kig-Yar, who's diet consisted of mostly carrion by nature, vomited or ran out of the room covering there mouths. Even the majority of the Jiralhanae covered there noses or at least stepped away from the stench. The few Unggoy in the room weren't bothered by it at all, there own self-contained methane atmosphere blocked it out.
Ratakus stepped forward and breathed a deep, drawn-out breath. To him it was not a nauseating smell at all, but a smell of success. Once the nausea was set aside, this would be an invigorating morale boost for his forces, even more so than the victory at the Worship Chamber. More importantly, once news spread, it would strengthen the Sangheili's resolve. Make them angrier. Make them stronger. Give him more of a challenge.
The light of the fire glinted in his eyes. A grin slowly extended across Ratakus's face.
Meanwhile, somewhere within High Charity, a pair of Jiralhanae and a pair of Sangheili fought one another. They occupied a corridor in the Lower Districts, therefore there was no light to illuminate the battle. All power to the 'low priority' parts of High Charity had been lost. The only light there was the brief illumination given off by the blind exchange of red and blue plasma.
Watching there firefight in an out of the way corner was a lone Unggoy. The orange Minor, Jajawz, suckled a food nipple contently while he waited. He was confident that neither the Sangheili or the Jiralhanae could see him, and he did not plan on revealing himself until one side had one out. He'd stick with whoever ended up being the strongest. Until then all he had to due was enjoy the tangy-flavored nipple.
The attack was fast and silent. So fast that the little Unggoy didn't even have time to drop his rations. A hard, fleshy spike penetrated his neck, splattering luminous blue blood against the dark purple bulkhead. JaJawz made feeble grabs at whatever appendage had impaled its throat, but it was no use. Even as the Unggoy drew its last dying breaths, it was dragged off into the darkness by the unseen attacker. Little JaJawz had just become the launching pad for the Floods siege of High Charity.
The Arbiter could feel the passage narrowing as eased down through it. The Elite was not claustrophobic, however he became increasingly aware that the passage was getting even narrower the deeper he went. Just as he feared his broad frame would no longer fit, it finally opened up into a large, dome-shaped room.
The grav-lift lowered him down the room and dropped him a slight hexagonal depression in the flooring. His feet finally, thankfully, hit solid ground. The Arbiter raised his Carbine as he scanned the room, aware only now that the weapon had but three rounds left.
He was in the center of a large, rectangular room whose walls somehow morphed to become the dome that towered overhead, a few Sentinel portals hung along the walls but from what he could see they were all destroyed. That could have been the work of his Elites, but they weren't there. Miranda, Johnson, and the other two of his kind that had gone down before him were not waiting for him at the gravity lift as he might expect. This heightened his apprehension, a 'chill' ran down his spine.
The room his was in was lighted in the typical fashion of there lords, an indirect illumination that somehow lit the whole area. Well, at least half the area in this case. That source less glow left half the room dark, and no matter how hard he tried the Arbiter could not penetrate that thick black veil.
Something gurgled behind the veil. Something slithered. The Elite could hear it clearly. He crouched and waited for it to approach.
He waited for what felt like infinity. Seemingly nothing stirred behind the darkness, he wanted to call out to his allies, but he feared that if there was another entity in the room he did not want to alert it to his presence. Just as he was about to call out anyway, even if just to bring out his unseen foe so he could face it once and for all, he was stopped again.
There was another gurgle, or maybe a low growl was the best description. It was to his left. It was closer than the first, much closer. Its origin could not possibly be more than two feet away. The Arbiter spun on his heels and fired a shot in that direction, but hit nothing. Something brushed against his back, grazing the back of his battle armor. The Arbiter growled in disgust and annoyance. His attacker was scouting him, assessing its target. It used tricks and shadows to hide itself, it had no honor.
The Arbiter stepped backwards as he activated his cameo. His mandibles parted in what passed for an evil grin amongst his race, he would play by this unseen foes rules. He slowly circled around the lighted area of room, sticking close to the wall and away from any direct light sources that would reveal him. No doubt his enemy was doing the same if he had any experience in stealth, so it was likely they would bump into each other.
As it turned out, his foe was not well versed in stealth combat. From his vantage point in the corner he could clearly see a shimmer in the air, one that had a vaguely Elite shape. It darted around the Arbiters last visible position, as if trying to find him.
He took aim with the Carbine, and emptied the last two round of his gun. Both were dead on, and the Active Cameo of an Elite Combat form shimmered away. At the same time, the Arbiters own Active Cameo disintegrated, finally giving both enemies the chance to see each other. The Combat Forms first instinct was the rush towards the Arbiters position like its ass was on fire, ignoring the blasts of plasma that splashed against its back from the darkened portion of the room. The Arbiter himself dropped his useless Carbine and activated a plasma sword, he intended to meet this parasite head-on.
The distance between the two closed in seconds. The Arbiter was the first to lash out, his reach with the sword was slightly longer than the ex-Elites. The energy blade washed against a defunct shield system and lightly slashed at its chest, spraying black ooze out of the wound.
It returned with its own melee attack, the hardened whip-like appendages sprouting from its wrist slapped at him. The surprising force of the blow sent the Arbiter stumbling backwards and momentarily stunned him, he absentmindedly noted that his shields were down to fifty percent. Before his could gather himself enough to even think about brining up his blade to his defense, another whip-like blow knocked him flat on his ass and dropped his shields down to a tenth of a percent. This time he managed to roll his way out of a third (and what would have been the final) successive strike. Within an instant he had gotten back onto his feet and brought his sword to bear. He had misjudged the close-quarters capabilities of the parasite, he would make sure it did not happen again.
However it didn't appear that that would be necessary. The Combat Form was not longer interested in him, it had turned to the two tantalizing entrées that had emerged from the darkened section of the room. The two Elites that had escorted the humans Commander were rushing at the parasite, trying to distract it from there temporarily weakened leader. There combined energy bolts at this range didn't seem to hurt it, but it did annoy it significantly. It made another rush, at them this time. The two aliens admirably held there ground, firing there plasma rifles in full automatic.
As the Combat Form continued its rush, unperturbed, the human soldier called 'Sergeant Johnson' shouldered his way between the two towering behemoths.
"Hah!! Let me show you boys how a real weapon works!", Johnson brought up his gun and aimed.
The parasite made a large leap to cover the last bit of distance between it and its potential prey, plasma bolts still having no effect whatsoever. Johnson fired the shotgun as it came bearing down upon him, kicking against his shoulder and sending definitive BOOM!! echoing throughout the room. The effect was instantaneous, the bit of shielding that had managed to reform around it instantly fell and the whole sickly creation came apart. Three main pieces rained down on them, the lower torso, the right-side upper torso, and the left-side upper torso, along with many more chunk sized fists. The infection form inside was visible for a split second, before it to came apart in its own zit-like fashion.
The fading echo of the shotguns report had silenced the room, or at least the startled Elites in it. Johnson was all talk ("God damn it, I knew I should have brought an extra shirt. Got all these nasty pieces of Flood chunks on me...what is this? What is this? This better be really fat finger or else I am going to KICK SOME SERIOUS ASS!")
The Arbiter ignored Johnson's increasingly candid remarks and approached the two surviving Elites, a purple armored Commando and a blue armored Minor. Both had plasma rifles in hand, both probably running low. The Commando had a few scuffs in hi armor, but the Minor was in more serious shape. He had a neatly-cut hole running straight through his chest, from his practiced eye the Arbiter could see it had been cut between the Elites two hearts and just above his main air sack, the latter of which had probably been clipped as showed by his trouble breathing. If the shot had been off by a matter of millimeters he would not be alive.
Both the Elites bowed there heads, the Commando stepped forward. "Excellency, we are sorry we did not come to your aid, but we feared of revealing out position to the parasite. We needed to conceal the Commander before doing so"
He nodded. "Pay it no mind, what is the status of your weapons?"
Both Elites examined there rifles.
"21% charge, Excellency"
"13% charge, Excellency"
"As you can see those rifles are woefully ineffective against the Flood. It would be in your best interest to find new ones"
A new voice entered the mix. The human female, the one with the Icon, Miranda, strode over to them. "Johnson, give them your SMG's"
Johnson gave her a disapproving look "Mam, I..."
She put a hand on his shoulder, "Just do it Sergeant"
He grumbled and handed them each one of the submachine guns strapped to his thigh rigs. He gave them both five clips of ammunition and a brief tutorial on how to work the gun.
While he was doing that, Miranda addressed the Arbiter. "We need to get to a ship as soon as possible. We cannot let Truth activate the Ark, he'll destroy everything"
Her tone caused the Arbiter to give her a look. Miranda was sheepishly reminded that she had no official command over these aliens, and indeed a being as such high stature as this 'Arbiter' fellow might not appreciate being ordered around.
Still, if he was angry he bit his tongue. "We shall make our way to the surface and join with Commander Lao Lasomee's rebel forces. He is gathering Sangheili rebels and there loyal Unggoy and Lekgolo allies throughout the Delta Halo to launch a siege on the Regrets former Assault Carrier, Holy Vanguard. The intention was to use that ships firepower win the fleet battle in orbit, but I could convince 'Lasomee to repurpose that craft for a journey to the Ark, although we have no idea where to go"
Miranda responded, "We'll figure that out once we get there. We should probably muster with General Khans forces in the valley for the assault on the carrier. I'm betting we could smooth over our alliance with Khans and this Commander 'Lasomee of yours"
She absently nodded to herself, "It all sounds good. Alright, which way the surface?"
The Arbiter cocked his head, turned around as if looking for something, then looked back at Miranda. He shrugged.