The Preserver [H&R6]
Posted By: Jillybean<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 14 September 2003, 11:02 PM
Halo's and Ring
"Name?" The commander sitting at the desk said.
"Ring, Daxia, Lieutenant." Was Daxia's reply, accepting the swipe card she got from him that would enable her access to all the Kheezheekoni's systems. The Kheezeekoni was a Platform ship, something for fighters and and marines to launch off of. She circled Earth constantly at the moment, lazily deploying troops to intercept the Covenant assault teams.
"You're on drop duty Lieutenant." The commander said. "Pelican Tango-Alpha 451." The commander said and Daxia was filed into the mess hall with all the other new blood.
But there was no new blood in this war.
She had been on a new ship before, she had been able to mix and mingle with her fellow pilots, mechs and marines before. But before she had never been on Halo, felt the desperation that clung to her.
She hesitated at the notice board, trying to delay meeting anyone. She read the notices, one in particular caught her eye.
Did you join for ill-fitting boots?
Loud bangs, bad pay
And watching officers take the loot?
Stand up and say
Marines! Open mouth insert foot!
I'd quit for a lay
Daxia smirked and signed her name underneath with all the others. She didn't believe these things damaged morale, she believed they strengthened camaraderie and she knew that was important.
And she couldn't put off finding a table to eat at any longer. She sat down at the edge of a long row and accepted the tray from the young member on mess duty. She started eating, hoping no one would notice her.
But it was not in the crews nature to let someone sit alone. Two women and four men eased themselves along the benches to sit with her.
"Hey." Said the first guy, a pilot by the looks of him. "Eddie Cruso." He extended a hand. "That's Bill Trenton, Annie Groves, Craig Rhymes, Sarah O'Neill and Alex Flanders." He grinned at her. "Now you know us and you're not a loner any more. Where you from?" He asked, the others grinned at each other, waiting for an exciting story.
"The Pillar of Autumn." Daxia replied, shovelling the unidentifiable mush into her mouth. The others glanced at each other, now very curious.
"The Pillar of Autumn?" Annie Groves asked, she was a marine judging by the buzz cut and muscles.
"The very same." Daxia said, staring into the empty air between Bill and Eddie opposite her.
"So. Is it true, the rumours?" Craig asked, sitting forward in his seat.
"I don't know what those rumours would be." Daxia told him. "What I do know is that me and the Spartan are the only ones left." She dropped her fork to the tray. "If you'll excuse me, I'm not hungry."
She walked out of the room, heading towards the crew quarters. The sergeant assigned her a bunk and she lay there, trying to sleep. There was only so much sleep she could manage in a day though, and the relative quiet atmosphere of the crew quarters brought the sound of Flood Spores to her ears. She sat and headed back through the Kheezheekoni's corridors, not sure where she was going.
"Hey!" It was Annie's voice. The burly marine caught up with her. "I had friends on the Autumn, I deserve to know more." She demanded, slamming Daxia into a wall.
"I'm not authorized to give you that information." Daxia replied levelly.
"Goddamnitt!" Annie shoved her against the wall again. "I want to know!"
Daxia kicked the marine in the shins, her fist driving forward and hitting her in the vulnerable spot where the shoulder plate of her armour would meet with the chest plate, of course, Annie wasn't wearing armour so the blow was all the more forceful. Annie stumbled back in the narrow corridor, hitting the opposite wall. She grinned viciously.
"Oh come on girlie." She purred. "You gotta have more than that in you."
"Hey look!" Someone shouted in Daxia's peripheral vision, on either side of them a small crowd was forming. Daxia ran at Annie, missing deliberately and using her momentum to send her flying up the wall, in the small area it was possible to run up the wall and land on Annie's back. The marine landed on the floor and Daxia slammed Annie's face into the deck plate.
"Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!" The chanting began, echoed eerily by the clicking of Flood. Daxia made to slam Annie's face into the deck one more time but the Marine hadn't lived this long for nothing. She drove her elbow upwards and into Daxia's ribs. She rolled, kicking Daxia off her, following with two punches to the chest. Daxia hit the wall again and Annie drove her fist into Daxia's face.
Daxia hadn't live this long for nothing either, she ducked and ran into Annie, colliding both of them into the opposite wall.
"That I learned from an Elite." She muttered, driving her palm underneath Annie's chin and forcing the marine's head back.
"That I learned from a Jackal." She spoke louder now, grabbing Annie's neck with her hand and bringing the marine's face down onto her knee.
"That I learned from a marine." She kicked Annie to the deck and drove her boot into the small of Annie's back.
"That I learned from a Spartan." She was shouting now, Annie leapt to her feet, to be confronted with a pistol. The muzzle fingered Annie's face and everyone went dead silent. Daxia smiled calmly.
"That I learned from the Flood." She finished, her voice carried to the entire crowd. "They're coming. They killed the crew of the Autumn, they killed my sisters husband, they killed my friends - ultimately they killed Captain Keyes." Daxia pulled back a little, slipping the pistol back into the waistband of her jogging pants. Annie was bleeding profusely, her nose looked broken. Daxia met her eyes. "You want to know what happened to your friends? If they were lucky the Covenant killed them. If they were really lucky they died instantly in the blast from the Autumn's reactions. You don't want to know what the last option was."
"Lieutenant Ring!" Captain Agata snarled. The crowd parted instantly. "Accompany me to the bridge at once!" Her voice shivered with rage. Daxia nodded formally to Annie and followed the captain.
"What did you think you were doing!" Agata roared, spit flying from her mouth. Daxia concentrated on the a charred mark on the floor of the bridge.
"Well Lieutenant! What did you mean by brawling on my ship!"
"I was preparing them, sir." Daxia replied.
"I'm sorry - I failed to notice 'captain' or 'admiral' on your resume!" Agata was screaming now, right in front of Daxia.
"Sir, with all due respect-"
"Shut up." Agata snapped. "You are hereby demoted to the rank of ensign. You are also on mess duty. God help me Ring, I'll see you never pilot again."
"That would be a great loss to the fleet sir." Daxia pointed out calmly.
"If we weren't at war I would put you in the brig." Agata hissed. "You even look over the line, and I will confine you there. And I know how much you like silence." Agata felt vindicated at the flash of panic in Ring's eyes.
"You have no idea what's coming Captain." Ring murmured. "If there are Gods, I pray they look out for you more than they did for Keye-" She was cut off by a sharp slap. Agata stood, quivering. The entire bridge was silent as Daxia slowly turned her head around. The ensign refused to pay attention to the slap. Agata swallowed.
"Captain Keyes was a great man." Agata said. "I won't hear you say a word against him. Mess duty. Now."
"Is there something wrong Chief?" Cortana asked as they headed for a Covenant drop point. Their mission was simple, secure the moon base area and eliminate all Covenant in said area.
"Nothing." The Chief replied, launching a grenade into a cluster of Grunts. The Grunts went flying, one knocked an Elite out cold. The Chief leapt from the crater he was hiding in and ran forward, grabbing a plasma pistol as he simultaneously discarded his spent Needler. He crouched and overloaded the pistol, taking out an Elite and burning his hand.
"You seem off your game." Cortana replied as he punched a Jackal's shield out. He had reached the compound wall of the moon base. He flung a plasma grenade at the nearby Hunters, pleased when it stuck and blew the already injured Hunter to pieces.
"Marines! Follow me!" He called out to those still sheltering in the craters. "I'm not off my game." He added to Cortana. He pulled the shotgun and fired rapidly at the blur in front of him. A cloaked Elite fell to the ground, dead. One marine managed to get to the door panel, hacking it and commanding the door to open. The Chief covered him from two approaching Jackals.
He entered the Moon Base, firing two shots at an Elite and finding another Hunter hiding behind the storage crates. He spent the shotgun, ducked underneath the Hunter's shield and spun, overloading the plasma pistol into the soft flesh at the small of the Hunter's back.
"Base secure!" A marine called.
"Maybe I am a little off my game." The chief admitted to Cortana.
"Any ideas on how to rectify that?" Cortana asked as he took a quick sweep of the room. The Chief hesitated, wondering if there was. "Well?" Cortana asked.
"We have work to do Cortana." He replied.
They secured the moon base without much trouble. The Chief returned through the hastily set up triage centre, he conditioned himself not to pay too much attention to the young men and women that lay, waiting for treatment or . . . something worse.
"We should report back for further orders." Cortana said softly, intruding on his thoughts. He nodded, starting for the command area when a young marine caught his eye. One arm had been blown off and she had burns up the left side of her face. A doctor was trying his best to ease her pain, but every time she moved she hissed between fractured teeth.
"Chief?" Cortana pressed.
"I'm going." The Chief said, walking briskly past.
"Ah - yes Master Chief." Captain Margrave turned to see him. "The Covenant are making a temporary withdrawal from this section, they're redoubling their efforts on the Jupiter Moon colonies, we'll be heading there in a few hours. You did well today son."
"It's my job sir." The Master Chief said, slinging his gun over his shoulder. Margrave nodded.
"The Kheezheekoni took down a Covenant transport before it got to Earth in the last hour." Margrave did not notice that the Spartan became a whole lot more attentive. The Kheezheekoni was the ship Daxia was on. "And they captured a Prophet."
"Good for them sir."
"Trouble is, the Prophet is refusing to speak to us. He's in the Kheezheekoni's brig and the Kheezheekoni is coming to Jupiter with us. The Prophet keeps saying Captain Agata is not worthy for him to talk to, we hope he might see you as more worthy and talk to you."
"Why not ask Lieutenant Ring to talk to him, she knows about Halo. She might be able to taunt him out."
"Ring?" Margrave sounded doubtful.
"I'll talk to the Prophet sir, but in the mean time - what harm is there in trying?"
"What are you doing? Don't play with that!" Bill exclaimed, jerking back from Craig at the table in the mess hall. Craig turned the dormant plasma grenade over and frowned.
"It's not working." He said.
"It might start working if you're not careful." Sarah pointed out, leaning back to allow the crewmember on mess duty to put her tray on the table. She noticed it was Daxia Ring and glanced at Annie, just a few seats down. The marine didn't seem to care.
"How do these things work anyway?" Craig asked, still turning the blue ball over and over again. "I mean - I've the Covenant use them but I really don't understand how."
"What are you doing with a plasma grenade anyway? And in the mess hall?" Alex asked, he was from Australia and it showed in his accent.
"I got it off of one of the Covenant we got from that carrier ship." Craig answered. "Feel it - it's soft."
"Ew." Sarah said, prodding the side of the grenade and retracting her finger quickly.
"It's a chemical membrane." Daxia said, on her way back up to the kitchen. She stopped, unable to stand their wondering any more. "The very specific amount of kinetic energy released first by a throw and then an impact triggers a chemical reaction which breaks the membrane and ignites the plasma."
"Huh." Craig said, regarding the blue ball in a new light. "Cool."
"How does it stick to humans but not the walls?" Sarah asked, curious.
"Actually it sticks to objects with kinetic and heat energy. A moving vehicle can be targeted too." Daxia blushed. "Sorry to eavesdrop."
"No biggy." Annie said. Daxia grimaced a little.
"And I'm sorry for - you know."
"No biggy." Annie repeated. "You're pretty messed up right now, I understand that." She teased. Daxia scowled at first, but then laughed with the others.
"Oh yeah." She said. "I'm really messed up right now."
"Ensign Ring." Agata snapped from behind her. Daxia spun.
"Report to the brig. We received a transmission from command, they want to try you with out Prophet." Agata did not sound happy about it.
The brig was a well lit area with security heavier than the bridge. The Prophet sat on a low bench, surrounded by bars and forcefields. He pulled his tattered robe around him, his huge head was bowed. He looked up when Agata and her commander entered. His large head shivered, revealing spikes and blobs at intervals over his skull.
"Ah-Ghata." He growled in his sketchy Common. "You may ask but I still not tell. You not worthy Ah-Ghata."
"Stow it prisoner." Agata snapped, levelling a gun at the Prophets head, just for fun. "If I had God's they'd hate you just as much as your Gods hate me." She stepped away and nodded to Daxia. "Get him to talk Ring. If you can."
Daxia stepped a little closer to the cell, the Prophet looked at her and laughed gravelly.
"My kind not let females work. No point." He laughed again. "Ah-Ghata not worthy - why should you be? You are still Suckling. How is it you say? Child. A girl child." The Prophet rustled the spikes on his head. Daxia supposed he was laughing.
"This was a big waste of my time." Agata muttered sullenly. Daxia looked to the men in control of the force field.
"Let me in. I want to talk to him in the same cage."
"Let her." Agata interrupted the officer. "It doesn't matter."
The forcefield deactivated and Daxia stepped inside the first wall. Then the bars slid open and she stepped into the Prophet's territory. He looked at her, curious despite himself.
"Eager to prove yourself. But Girl-Child you remain."
"I'm 29. Don't tell anyone." Daxia said, staying close to the door. The Prophet snorted, it sounded like an explosion.
"My kind live thousands of years."
"Not the ones on Halo." Daxia said calmly. The Prophet stood instantly, towering above her. The guards outside leapt into action, ready to shoot the Prophet, Agata waved them down.
"You speak not of what you know." The Prophet coughed. Daxia raised an eyebrow.
"I know about Halo. I know more than you."
"Lies! You Girl-Child deceive!" The Prophet lunged for her, wrapping a hand around her neck. "I could crush you now."
"Is that what your gods decree? I know about Halo. I was on the Truth and Reconciliation. I met the Flood and I survived." She said, wondering about the wiseness of this idea. Why was no one intervening - surely Agata didn't hate her that much?
"Lies! Lies!" The Prophet was becoming quite frantic, he leaned so close to her his salmon pink lips were brushing her nose and forehead. "You know nothing!"
"I know you were scared of your Gods own weapon." Daxia choked, trying to move her face away from him. The Prophet dropped her abruptly, slithering away back to his bench.
"What is the name of . . . the thing that thinks but does not live . . . what is it's name that that guarded Halo?" He asked, trying to judge if she was really telling the truth.
"343 Guilty Spark." Daxia replied. The Prophet whined loudly, piercingly.
"And on Halo - you were with the cyborg?" The Prophet asked, looking like he knew the answer.
"I was." Daxia rubbed her throat a little nervously. The Prophet shook himself vehemently.
"No! Yes some said the cyborg was indeed He but no! Not a Girl-Child! I can not see it!" He moaned for some time in this vein, while Daxia turned to Agata.
"Get me out of here." She said.
"You're getting through to him." Agata was smug. "Keep talking." She prompted. Daxia swallowed then looked back to the Prophet.
"The cyborg." She commanded, trying not to let her voice shake. "Tell me more about him."
"Some . . . no, I will not tell you." The Prophet said.
"Tell me or I will order these people to shoot your head off." Daxia said, though she doubted she had any authority whatsoever. The Prophet looked at her.
"Some believed the Cyborg to be the Reclaimer." The Prophet said reluctantly. Daxia nodded.
"343 Guilty Spark thought so." She said.
"Alhye ahie bue kuya Gorrrhy." The Prophet dropped to the ground, prostrating himself in front of Daxia. His stream of gibberish confused her.
"What's he saying!" Agata yelled.
"I don't know!" Daxia cried frantically. "I don't speak - Prophet."
"I apologize, oh Preserver." The Prophet said. "I beg your forgiveness."
"Uh . . ." Daxia glanced at Agata who urged her on. "You'll be forgiven if . . . if you can explain yourself."
"Preserver I did not understand. The Prophecies say your form is always that what we would expect - who better to destroy the humans than an innocent? I did not see at first, I beg forgiveness."
"You think I'm one of your Gods. You think John and I are your Gods. To destroy the human race." Daxia laughed.
"No. The Reclaimer is the vengeful force, he will destroy the universe. The Preserver is the peaceful force, he - she, will save our race." The Prophet corrected. "This is done by the destruction of the humans."
"Let me out." Daxia said very quietly. The guards aimed their weapons as Daxia escaped from the cell.
"Well then Preserver." Agata said. "Bit of a step up from ensign, isn't it?"
"With all due respect - I'm a little freaked right now to take jokes." Daxia shivered, rubbing her arms.
"I'd be freaked too." Agata said darkly. "You got the rest of the hour off. When we get to Jupiter we'll need you as a pilot."