Posted By: Frensa Geran<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 19 July 2003, 2:16 AM
"Upon Hill so high, clouds circle the Hero, mists of cold and shimmers of steal shall greet you beyond the Gates of the Dome. You're troubles do not end Human Girl, darkness hides more than light..." Marla closed the book.
The path beyond the campsite was no different than the one before, unchanging, thick and smelling of stale air. The darkness was unbreakable, both Jack and her had their flashlights, attempting to follow the straight narrow road.
Like a laser, the first glimmers of light from the rising sun hit the back of their heads, warming them as if to greet. Marla smiled and turned back ahead. She turned off her flashlight and gazed forward at the path the sun had just revealed. It continued for a few feet, then a door.
Marla gazed at it mystified. "It looks like the building just fell there on the path. No courtyard or steps. Just... a door." She said to Jack.
"Ah, tis our first test." He said matter-o-fact like.
"T - test?" She responded in a worried voice.
Jack did not answer, but simply took our "The Prophecy" and turned to page 20:
"Though the night cast deep shadows of pain in your heart girl, 3 tests shall be tried on you. Only the true Reclaimer of the Hero will pass."
He then turned a page:
"The first Test is of wisdom. A door shall lay ahead, but up above, a window..."
Marla looked up about 30 feet from the door, seeing a large four-pane window shining in the light of the two suns. She kept reading:
"... that will be lit like a beacon. One way in will cause death. The other shall set you free."
Marla's eyes widened. What if she wasn't the right person? What if she chose the wrong entrance, killing her AND Jack?
"Jack, what if this is all wrong? I may choose wrong. I could KILL you!" She said, handing back the book.
Jack did not seem worried; on the contrary, he was smiling from ear to ear. "The test is working..."
Marla gave him a confused look.
"It is meant to make you ask these questions. Test your resolve to save Humanity. Only you can be strong enough to choose. I have full confidence in you." Jack said, putting his hand on her shoulder.
Suddenly her fears drained from her through his hand. Jack did his best not to show his missing teeth when he smiled. The idea that she was saving all Human kind was so reassuring that nothing could stop her. So she began to think, tapping her index finger on her chin.
The first thing she noticed was a rope ladder extending up to the window next to the door. It was obviously very old, and most likely very dangers, as it swayed in the small breeze that could make it through the thick foliage.
The solution hit her in the head like a brick. She looked up again at the window, noticing the light from the suns fly through glass.
"Of COURSE!" She shouted finally, waking Jack up who was resting next to the door. He looked like he was going to have a heart attack.
"My dear, if you couldn't do that again, I'd appreciate it." He said, looking to her, "So what have you found?"
"I can climb the rope ladder, look through the window for danger, and if there is, I go through the door. If there isn't we just break the window and go in." She said, it seemed so simple.
Jack nodded his head in approval.
"Wait a sec!" She hollered.
"Yes dear?" He responded innocently.
"You went through these tests with my Dad huh? You know the answers to them all! Why didn't you tell me?" She said, a bit more amused than angry.
"Yes I know the answer to this one, and the next one. The final one, I regret I do not know." He said, looking down.
Jack shook his head, his wrinkles rippling, "Your Father wasn't the one remember? The last test made him realize this."
Taking a moment of very peculiar silence, she began the rope ladder. "It is so simple." She was muttering to herself, taking the first step.
The ladder broke in her hands, as if it was held on strings. It snapped so far from the top she or Jack could never reach it.
"Damn! Ow!" She muttered repeatedly, rubbing her hands.
Jack stood there, trying to hold back a laugh. Marla eyed him.
"You knew that would happen didn't you?"
"Nothing... nothing... not a damn thing!" Sarong, the Elite that was pestering Marla shouted in his dark purple quarters. He was at his desk, scrolling his a screen of files and information. He typed in as many different searches he could think of.
HERO OF HUMANITY
All of which came up with the same information, a few paragraphs about his armor capability, year of creation, and last known location. But the last known location was "Pillar of Autumn" which got him nowhere.
He threw the small computer across the room, causing bits and pieces to smash into the walls of his cramped quarters.
Xexec, his roommate walked in, staring around at the shredded pieces of metal. "Peeved are we Sarong?" He said laughing.
Sarong merely sat there, teeth shaking as he growled some curses. "What do you want Xexec? Come to badger me about my failure with the Human. Go ahead, I've heard it all."
Xexec shook his head, an innocent tone in his voice. "No no no Sarong, I merely wanted to give you some tips of fighting. You know, when you take on that 90 year old hermit again?" He said, chuckling at his own joke.
Noticing he crossed the line, Xexec left. Once he did, Sarong stood up to find something to beat up, which later turned up to be a Jackal he found outside the hall.
"No Marla, of course not." Jack replied.
"Yes you did, you DID know that would happen." Marla said, stamping her foot.
"NOW how will I find out which way through?" She said to herself.
Jernid, a small Grunt trader was walking down the straight and narrow path, a chef's hat on his head, and a big backpack of worthless goods on top of his methane container. He seemed happy, relaxed and for the most part, not a normal Grunt of 1000 years ago.
He was on his daily route from Hundrid to Grechic, a small mining colony over the Parsec Mountains. The cool breeze tingled on his bare legs, making him giggle to himself. He was completely ecstatic at the good life he lived.
"Hey..." He said in a high-pitched voice, spotting two Humans by the first crossing. "Wonder what they're doin'!" He said happily.
He skipped towards them, humming a tune. Once he reached them, he realized they where both in a big argument.
"WHY can't you just tell me?" A small Human girl said.
"Marla please, calm down. If you just think, you can figure your way across." An old man responded.
"But I don't..." The girl said, before eyeing Jernid.
"Hello!" Jernid said merrily. "My name is Jernid, I'm a Trader. Would you like to buy some goods? I got apples, cheese cake and a few good oranges, fresh from the orchard!"
Marla didn't stop staring, her mouth open. A Grunt, they are Covenant! Why doesn't Jack shoot him?, Marla thought. But to the contrary, Jack began to barter with him.
"Hello Jernid." Jack said. "Well, we're quite fine when it comes to food. Do you... uh, by chance carry ammo? Weapons even?" Jack asked.
The suddenly merry Grunt lowered his voice, his eyes narrowing. "I didn't want to say it, but yeah, I got some. Shotgun bullets, pistol bullets..." Jernid said.
"Some shotgun bullets please." Jack said, handing the Grunt metal coins from his robe.
Once the transaction was made, the Grunt walked by them, staring at the broken stepladder, giggling to himself. "Which one feel for the step ladder trick?" He said.
Jack laughed as if he knew the Grunt for years, pointing to Marla.
The Grunt squealed, opening the wooden door. Beyond the door was... nothing. The road just seemed to continue on from there.
Jack threw his hand on his forehead. "Damn Grunt. I was hoping you'd figure it out. Oh well, we got two more trials for you to go. Better hop to it." He said, lifting himself up from the dirt and grabbing his walking stick.
On the other side of the doorway, was the same exact straight and narrow road. It seemed to go on to the end of the horizon.
"Where does it end?" Marla asked, mystified.
"Miles. Near then end is a small hill. From there it's just jungle. It was amazing, that hill. It was so perfectly shaped. Your Father named it the Dome.
"Pray to our Gods we don't get executed for this." Xexec said, strapping himself in to the purple orb. It was a very cramped fit, and there was only enough room for a small engine and computer console.
"We're going to be fine. Once the Prophet sees we captured the girl and stopped her from finding the SPARTAN, we'll be heroes. Have Faith." Sarong replied, piloting it out of the gigantic Docking Bay.
"Have Sense..." Xexec said under his breath, praying to himself.
To Be Continued...