The Priestess and the Warrior - The Heretic and the Revolutionary
Posted By: Jillybean<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 13 May 2005, 11:28 AM
The Priestess and the Warrior
AN: It's been fun :)
The Heretic and the Revolutionary
"Do you ever think we drink too much?"
Hera' Solatta turned incredulous eyes on her long time friend, watching as the High Priestess approached her with a glass of rum in hand.
"In general, I mean," Jalahass said. "Do you know how much rum I've gone through in the past day?"
Smoothing out her robes, Solatta accepted the glass and took a long sip. "I have a feeling you're going to tell me."
"Two bottles." Jalahass sat opposite, rubbing at her mandibles in anxiety.
"No news?" Solatta asked gently.
"None." She blinked quickly, glancing out the window as she watched the ruins of the Halo drift past. "There's a . . . a rumour."
"I heard it," Solatta assured her. "That he's the Arbiter." She downed the pearly pink liquid in her glass, wiping a claw over her face. "I don't believe it. Why would Truth do that?"
"Fastest way to kill him," Jalahass murmured.
"But he was sentenced to death," Solatta sighed, shaking her head. "No, I don't understand the politics of it, so please don't explain it."
"Don't explain the reasons for why we're going to war?" Jalahass asked sceptically. "We'll argue another day. Has the last transport vessel left?"
"They have," Solatta stood, steadying her head-dress with one hand. "And best of luck to them."
"Yes," Jalahass got to her feet, brushing foreheads with her old mentor. "Now I want you to leave the city."
"There are barely enough Priestesses left in the convent to keep it running," Solatta berated. "I can't leave now."
"Leave now or forever hold your peace," Jalahass warned. "I have a feeling that when I start to run, the rest of High Charity will be long gone."
Forerunner Installation Halo Ruins The Ninth Age of Reclamation
Fulsamee didn't question who this Heretic was. But he probably knew him. He knew a lot of the warriors on this team, including the prestigious Special Operations Commander, nick named Half-Jaw by his underlings. This was an honourable platoon . . . the kind Truth didn't give a Grunt's litter about. He watched as Half-Jaw ordered his grunts forward, not foolishly, but with great intent.
"Arbiter?" Half-Jaw queried, his grossly disfigured face twitching with amusement. "What concerns you?"
"Nothing," Fulsamee murmured, trying to get used to the sound of 'Arbiter'. The duties and the honours rolled over him, his chance to redeem himself in front of the council, in front of the Hierarchs, and in front of the Forerunner. The Forerunner which, if Half-Jaw's disdain for Fulsamee was any indication, still played a strong part in the beliefs of every Covenant. Sometimes, secluded on his cruisers with a Mate who blasphemed as soon as she breathed, he forgot that the Forerunner ruled over his species with an iron claw.
A Phantom soared overhead, burning through the orange skies. Fulsamee could feel the heat of the thin air as he sucked another breath into his lung.
Slipping into active camo, he tensed his fingers around the hilt of his sword. The others would not reveal themselves until he began, his whirling dervish of destruction. How many of the Sangheili through this door would he know? And why was it so much harder to cut out the heart of infestation when the heart bore a face he recognised?
The doors slid open and he vaulted through, igniting the sword as he dropped onto the first Elite he saw. The sword plunged through the soft flesh at the neck of the heretic, the smell of seared meat reaching Fulsamee's nose.
"Heretics!" screeched a rampaging Grunt, and Fulsamee had no more time to waste on this fallen enemy. He swung backwards, cutting off the barrel of the nearest heretic's carbine.
"Fool!" The heretic lifted his chest to begin his final battle cry, but Fulsamee lunged forward, cutting the honourable battle rage off before it left the heretic's chest. With a vaguely surprised expression, the Sangheili fell, bouncing off the deck. Fulsamee moved on, he had no honour any more.
Half-Jaw paid the Arbiter little attention. The warrior could do his job, at least. The years of sitting on cruisers hadn't dulled his skills, and for that Half-Jaw was thankful. He was well aware that Truth had sent the Arbiter here to die, on the hope that two Jackals could be killed with the one stone. If the Arbiter took the Heretic out, then marvellous. If the Arbiter died as that happened, well it was simply an added bonus.
Half-Jaw wasn't a fool. He knew that Truth, Mercy and Regret were not fond of him. His allegiance was first, foremost and always to the Forerunner, and not to the Hierarch as they would wish. But he shared their contempt for the Arbiter and for the Heretic. He killed a passing heretic Grunt, smoothly breaking the creature's neck with a blow. Still . . . it worried at him, like a Hatchling with a bone.
Watching the Arbiter pace outside the Heretic's sealed door, he wasn't denying the grudging respect he felt for the warrior's skill. A warrior must always what is in their hearts, for honesty is freedom.
"Get your warriors out of here," the Arbiter said, his concentration fixed on the representation of the station.
And as Half-Jaw did so, he couldn't help feeling that he was playing into Truth's hands . . . and that never made him feel better.
High Charity the Ninth Age of Reclamation
Tartarus shook his fur out with ill-concealed glee as he set foot in the Hierarchs chambers. The silence on the ride up from the Phantom with the Arbiter had been delightful. The Arbiter, much vaulted saviour of the Sangheili race, was too afraid to speak with Tartarus, Chieftain of the Brutes.
"Noble Hierarchs," he gravelled, bowing before the two Prophets. "I bring you the Oracle."
Two of his henchmen stepped forward, their paws gripping the shining, blue sentience.
"Ahh yes," Truth smiled coolly. "The Great and Almighty Oracle. Tell us, Oracle," his eyes rested on the orb. "Tell us of the Great Journey."
Pulsing with light, the Oracle chirped up. "I have no idea why you members insist on - "
The Oracle was cut short by a pulse of high intensity data, a sharp purple beam cutting into the metal flesh of the creature. Tartarus lifted up the data-stick, removing the source of the Oracle's 'pain'.
"The Great Journey," Truth continued. "Tell us of our Forerunners."
The Oracle hesitated for only a moment before it began again. "I would be most glad to enlighten you, but I can assure you that there is no Great Journey and that on - "
Tartarus moved forward again, pressing the transmitter into the back of the Oracle.
"Containment!" the Oracle screeched, it's blue light flaring up. "Containment is - necessary!"
"Enough, Tartarus," Mercy purred, holding up a hand. He waited for the Oracle to reassemble its thought processes, before he let his hand fall. "Again, Tartarus."
"Containment!" it shrieked, the words echoing through the chambers.
"They won't let you see him," Solatta murmured, playing with the hem of her robes in agitation. "You know they won't."
Jalahass glanced up from the console she was working on. "Oh stop worrying and hand me that sonic screwdriver." She held her hand out, impatient until Solatta reluctantly handed the tool over.
"You used to lead me into these things when we were junior Priestesses," Solatta hissed. "And I didn't like it then!"
"No one forced you to come along," Jalahass smirked as the console obligingly released its control console.
"You were my charge, I'd have been out of the convent if I'd let you go anywhere alone." Solatta didn't say anything else as the door to the private chambers of the Arbiter slid open. "You know . . ." she hesitated as Jalahass stood, fully intending to march inside. "They wouldn't have locked the doors if they didn't want people to see him."
Turning to regard her old friend, Jalahass extended her long claws. "Go home, Solatta. Go home to Sangheil. You can't stay here anymore."
"You know too much," Jalahass shrugged. "Go." Without a backward glance, she stepped into the darkness of the chambers.
Solatta hesitated, blinking into the void. "Forerunner forgive you," she murmured, touching her forehead. Glancing down the corridors she wondered which was the quickest way to the docks.
The darkness of the Arbiter's chambers was oppressive. The only glimmers of light came from the purple power nodes on the very edge of her range of vision. Once, as a young Priestess overseeing the Festival of the Arbiter, she had made a pilgrimage here and meditated for a whole day. She'd escaped and bribed a street urchin to meditate for her. It was a pity because a frame of reference could really help about now.
There was a swish of movement behind her; she could feel air running across her robes. Without a second thought she lashed out, swinging around to face her would-be attacker, only to stumble in the blackness.
"Relax, Saia'," Fulsamee chuckled. "It's only me. Although you're lucky there are no guards."
"Well I was going to rescue you," she muttered, casting her gaze around for any hint of her Mate.
"With what weapons?" He had moved, she spun, trying to keep up with his voice.
"Guile, charm and wit," she muttered, backing into something.
"I missed you," he touched his forehead against hers. "But you can't stay here. We'll be at another Sacred Ring soon."
"The Heretic . . ."
"Please. Saia, don't."
She hesitated, and then pulled away from him. "Good luck, Arbiter."
"We didn't know him," he said as she reached the door. "We didn't know him. He wasn't one of ours."
It made her feel a little better.
High Charity In Orbit over Delta Halo the Ninth Age of Reclamation
Jalahass hurried down the corridor, trying not to trip over her ornate robes. She'd given up with the head-gear, carrying the High Priestess's crown as she ran.
The white clad warrior paused, turning to face her with a vaguely amused expression. The smile on his face got lost somewhere around the region of the grossly disfigured jaw.
"High Priestess," Half-Jaw bowed respectfully. "What may I do for you?"
"I just spoke with Truth," she gasped, leaning on the wall to regain her breath. "This is suicide."
Half-Jaw's expression clouded, and he turned from her.
"You can't lead your warriors into this!" she exclaimed, reaching forward to grab at his forearm.
"You think I don't know?" He spun on her, spittle flying as he yelled. "But, High Priestess, unlike some I have honour and I have a duty to perform and I shall do as the Hierarch asks!"
"Even when it's wrong?" she snarled back.
"That is not for you or I to decide," he said, drawing himself up. Regaining his calm composure, he bowed once more to her. "Now if you'll excuse me. I must go to the surface, there has been an issue regarding the containment with the Flood."
"And if ever there were demons," Jalahass said bitterly. She saw his odd expression, and pulled the crown onto her head. "If you'll excuse me, I must go and give a speech about 'right' and 'wrong' to our waiting Covenant. But I ask you," she stepped forward, glaring at him. "If you don't choose what's right. Then who will?"
Half-Jaw watched her storm off, his mind not eased by the encounter.
Jalahass hesitated as she stood on the podium in front of so many Covenant for her daily address. Her pre-approved speech from Truth was burned into her mind, every last word of it.
And beneath her was a sea of expectant faces. Sangheili, Unggoy, Lekgolo, Kig-Yar, Jiralhanae, Drones, Prophets and Engineers. They were waiting for her.
And far, far below her, the Arbiter was no doubt fighting for his life. Perhaps he'd managed to join forces with Half-Jaw, but more probably not. Her speech made no mention of the terrible struggle facing the Covenant, of the wily Flood that had been released on their Sacred Ring. Her speech detailed the achievements of past Hierarchs and past councils. Look to them for inspiration, Truth had told her to say.
"High Priestess?" one of her juniors coughed politely.
"Yes, I know," she began, about to start a different speech entirely.
"No. Noble Truth is broadcasting a message."
Jalahass whirled, watching the holographic representation of Truth clutch the Sacred Icon. Behind her, the gathered religious members of the Covenant 'oohed' appreciatively. The rumble of their whispers was deafening her.
She almost didn't notice the look of panic in Truth's eyes, but her mind picked up on it, transferring feelings of warmth as Truth raised his arms in terror.
Demon was good for something.
Jalahass didn't bother looking at the crowd. With a satisfied smile she headed off the podium, peeling the crown from her head.
"High Priestess!" shrieked the junior, trying to calm the crowd. "High Priestess, do something!"
"I am doing something," she replied, throwing the crown at the poor girl's feet. "I'm resigning. Congratulations."
The Honour Guard transferred their attentions to the junior, as their training dictated. Jalahass shed their protectiveness like a second skin. With a feeling of freedom, she turned her back on the convent and headed into the city.
Delta Halo The Ninth Age of Reclamation
These humans reminded Fulsamee of playful Hatchlings. Their methods were not always the best, but they showed surprising ingenuity. From his hiding place behind a bulk head, he could hear Tartarus bemoaning the reduction of his shield. The Arbiter wouldn't have thought of using the sniper to pick away at the Brute's defences, but then again, the Arbiter wasn't such a good shot as this Sergeant Johnson.
In his shoulders, one of his muscles protested at every movement. There was a dull ache in his head, one that even the exhilaration of finally taking Tartarus down couldn't erase from his mind.
The heavy Brute stepped closer and Fulsamee moved. He through his weight behind the lung, sending the tip of his plasma sword slicing through the great beast's belly. Even as he gutted the loathsome traitor, he could hear Miranda leaping for the Sacred Icon.
Tartarus looked into Fulsamee's eyes as he slumped against the Elite. "My Great Journey begins," Tartarus hissed, his eyes glazing over and his tongue lolling out.
Fulsamee ripped the blade out from the creatures flesh, stepping backwards over the body of a dead Councillor. He had never been so sure of the blatant lies surrounding his religion.
The Oracle was talking to the humans, and Fulsamee dropped the sword, approaching these new allies. "And where, Oracle, is that?" he asked.
High Charity the Ninth Age of Reclamation
With only a gun and old, battered armour, Jalahass didn't hesitate to wriggle through the air vents on the Forerunner ship, the prize of High Charity.
The ship vibrated, preparing to break free of these earthly tethers, and she braced herself against the wall.
If she could, she'd kill Truth herself.
Unbidden, a phrase from the First Prophet of Joy's speech appeared in her head.
We shall not find ourselves free, until we first understand that freedom is sometimes being wrong