Guerilla: The Truce Shall Set You Free... Or Something
Posted By: Mainevent
Date: 3 January 2005, 2:46 AM
The covenant cockpit was unpleasantly small for two seven foot something behemoths. John was tired of the luminescent purples that seemed to glitter over every Covenant surface. Though he wished there was more luminescent purple and less fiery Elite in the ship at the moment. The milky white armor thrummed of energy shields and life support.
Cortana snatched the controls from the Elites powerful grip wordlessly. It's mandibles parted in obvious shock and confusion, and its cold eyes peered into the Chief. He shrugged silently and took a seat in the form-fitting gel cushions that served as seats. They were surprisingly comfortable, but John didn't dare let his guard down.
The ship slid fluidly into the eerie void, heading for Earth. The irony of the situation was startling. Only months earlier, breaking Cole Protocol would result in automatic court-martial and arrest; and now John was willingly leading an Elite to Earth. Though that particular article seemed useless now; the damnable beasts were close to attacking Earth's doorstep. The Prophet of Brotherhood seemed to good to be true, and that unnerved Cortana and Master Chief immensely. But what other choice did they have?
If there were ever an awkward silence, it seemed Cortana was more than ready to break it. She portrayed herself in hologram form on a small pedestal between the two armored titans. Her "skin" was green, an odd neon green- the same color she'd had while on Halo.
"Tell me about the Great Journey Ika," she ordered calmly.
"You vile specimen! Speak not of the sacred pilgrimage!"
She'd hit a nerve. John tensed uneasily in his seat. His hand naturally balled into a tight green-armored fist.
"Calm down," John said with obvious tension, "let's not do anything stupid."
"I'm sorry for offending you. I merely wished to understand your religious practices. So that I may be further enlightened to your wisdom."
"There is nothing for you to know. The Great Journey will cleanse the universe of the impure and blasphemous. The Jiralhanae and Kig-yar care nothing of our plight, and the Yanme'e know nothing besides eat and kill. We give them a gun and point them away from us, and they go willingly to their deaths. Even the Unggoy are more respectable creatures than the new Covenant. We have become impure, and the Great Journey is our only hope."
So there was an honest rivalry between the Covenant; that much Brotherhood had not lied about.
"What ruins are there on Earth?" John's questions were less tactful, but no less important.
"I know not the specifics of what the great Prophet Brotherhood searches for, only that it shall be our salvation. I have overheard him speak, in his private quarters, of an Ark. He believes it to be a ship that shall carry us on our Journey."
"A ship," Cortana began through John's comm. channel, "on Earth?"
"You, Demon, are not the monster Truth portrayed you as. You seem strong and worthy as an opponent, but not so that you should have survived as you have."
"It helps to be lucky."
"What of your shangleihi?"
"Your children," Cortana translated for him instantly.
"I have no children"
John stared quietly into the stars. Thinking about his childhood, the scant crumbles of what he knew about his family. He wondered if his children would be like him; if ONI would make them into monsters too. But somewhere in his heart he wondered what they'd be like, and if he'd be a good enough father.
"They would likely be honorable warriors." Ika said quietly. The ship was once again silent, but it wasn't an awkward silence. Both of the great warriors sat in personal contemplation as the cruiser buzzed through the darkness. Cortana was surprised at how humble both men seemed after such an insignificant conversation. There was emotional bond formed there that she couldn't understand, but then again she was a simple complex A.I.
"We're here," Cortana alerted them.
She began a "mayday" beacon on all of the standard UNSC frequencies as the teardrop exited slip space. Within fifteen minutes seven massive cruisers appeared on the horizon. A communications uplink was established with Commander Dimitry Wolf of the Seventh Column.
"Admiral Comforth is en route to our location for an immediate debrief of your situation. E.T. A. is forty-five minutes. Commander Wolf invites you aboard as temporary guests of honor."
"With all due respects to Commander Wolf, that may not be possible at this time. Please send our gratitude and tell him we would be pleased to oblige him at a later date."
"Roger that Cortana. Give the Chief all our best, everyone here's rooting for him. Kill a couple of those sons of bitches for us ma'am." Ensign Howell ended energetically.
Ika understood now the passion and ferocity that drove these humans. They didn't require terrific wins and superior technology for moral, they needed hope. This Chief, he was their hope. His very existence drove these puny humans to fight unlike anything the warrior Elite had ever seen. Once he'd surrounded hundreds of them with numbers ten times that size; and they'd nearly won. He understood the new urgency the Prophets had placed on his head. Killing this one human would be more painful to them than losing a thousand ships. His commanders obviously understood his importance as well; yet, they still sent him on missions even Ika would hesitate to undertake.
Admiral Comforth's ship arrived with an escort of no less than five carriers and three destroyers. The stone gray metallic hull reflected Helios' light dimly, giving them an aura of death and despair. John had never understood if that was to psychologically effect the Covenant, or if it was humanity's subconscious acknowledgement of their fate. The super-soldier had never been fatalistic, he was nearly emotionless as an effect of his training, but he did understand his enemy more than anyone else cared to admit. Where others smiled jovially and laughed at jokes about the "squid heads", he understood that it was a nervous response to a situation they couldn't control. That was perhaps the most nerve-racking perspective of this entire damn war was that no matter how many times John and his Spartans won, their battles seemed meaningless in the long run.
The cruiser, a Revenant class ship, docked immediately in one of the Stalwart and Tenacious's carrier bays. Cortana requested Admiral Comforth should meet the ship in the bay with a squad of ODST if possible; with the explicit instructions that they should hold fire, no matter what they see. Comforth sounded confused, but haltingly agreed. The teardrop shaped Revenant forked at the rear, and between the prongs extended a thin ramp. John absorbed Cortana back into his suit, and walked down the small metallic ramp extending from the back of the ship. He'd never liked or trusted space ships, but he felt surprisingly at ease now.
Two large, reinforced doors at the center of the bay opened to several silhouetted figures. Admiral William Benjamin Comforth stepped uniformly into the landing bay. His creamy white hair barely nudged from under his black rimmed cap. Four rows of medals were hung on his chest, and three gold sleeve devices rested on the left shoulder of his royal blue dress uniform. He was a stark contrast to the twelve heavily-armed special forces soldiers accompanying him.
Thick black, polished leather boots were tied up to the calf. Dark gray battle dress uniforms were hidden under thickly padded and armored chest-plates, as well as knee and elbow pads. Large, round shoulder guards made the soldiers appear much larger and bulkier than they were; granted that several of the men were startlingly large. They held their weapons firmly across their chests, ready to fire at a moment's notice. John watched their eyes as they approached. It was a methodically tuned walk, and they watched everything. These weren't sloppy recruits, these were hardened veterans.
John stood firmly at a salute as Comforth approached. The old man stood before the green-armored titan with a wry smile. He inspected the suit carefully, having never seen a Spartan in person before, and walked around it several times before returning to face the Master Chief.
"Welcome aboard Master Chief. I've heard a lot about you; I'm sure we all have," one of the ODST gave an audible grunt, "We're all very glad to have you and Cortana on our side."
"Admiral," Cortana interrupted through John's suit speakers, "pardon my rudeness, but we have an issue of extreme importance that command must be made aware of."
"Then you come to my office and we will discuss it."
"There is someone who must come with us though."
"There are more survivors aboard your ship?" Comforth asked warily.
The dull thunk...thunk...thunk of metal on metal reverberated from the Revenant. A dozen weapons automatically trained themselves on the ship, and the ODST deployed silently, pulling Comforth behind them as they formed a protective shield. John held up a hand in the universal "wait" stance as Ika came slowly around the ship. He stepped instinctively between the eight-foot-three monster and the shock troops, a move he never could have imagined making before.
"What's the meaning of this?" Comforth yelled ecstatically.
"That is what we've come to discuss."
"Stan...Stand down. Do not fire," he ordered waveringly. "my office, five minutes." The admiral glared at John before turning quickly around and storming from the bay without another word.
"That didn't go so well." Cortana announced dryly.
"So you noticed."
John approached the Admiral's Quarters slowly and with Ika at his side. There were twice as many shock troops now, and each carried a shotgun and sidearm. The Orbital Drop Shock Troops preferred the M6D "Heavy" pistol for its range, accuracy, and power over the "clunky" standard issue M6C Magnums. Two of the guards, with blue and white "military police" bands around their arms, halted the Chief.
"It stays here, Admiral Comforth only wants to see you."
"IT," John pronounced frankly, "is coming with me sergeant."
"I'm sorry sir, but I have my orders."
"If you ever want to see your family, or your planet again, then I suggest that you step aside and let us through."
"Is that a threat, sir?"
"If this Elite doesn't speak with Admiral Comforth immediately, it will be a promise."
The sergeant swallowed heavily, contemplating his options. He could disobey a direct order from a superior officer, or attempt to arrest a Spartan. He stepped aside and nodded to his partner. Admiral Comforth was visibly surprised as the Elite entered the room, but he said nothing. A dark amber tinted bottle of Elysium Cognac sat on the polished mahogany desk. The room was dimly lit and very comfortable; it reminded John of Master Chief Petty Officer Mendoza's office.
"What are we talking about that is so important you brought an Elite into my office to talk about. And this better be good."
"Sir, the Covenant have proposed a truce, sir."
Comforth stopped mid-sip, and stared questioningly at the two figures before him.
"The Covenant have proposed a truce?"
"Sir, a rogue faction of the Covenant have offered their assistance to us, should we provide them with access to suspected Forerunner facilities on Earth"
"Does he speak?"
"I do understand your language," Ika said with his deep baritone voice.
"And all of this is true?"
"The Prophet of Brotherhood does not deceive you, and to propose such is heresy." The Elite began, but John shook his head to stop him.
Comforth dialed several digits into his personal monitor. A video link with High Command appeared, and the seven presiding admirals and twelve generals all sat around a large table.
"Admiral Comforth, what is so important that you have disregarded all security protocols to contact us directly?" One of the Generals, a slightly and pale little man with weasel eyes, asked gruffly.
"A faction of the Covenant military has proposed a truce."
The men on the screen began talking quietly amongst themselves. A pudgy, white haired Admiral with a thick, bushy beard spoke into the feed.
"And what proof do you have? Surely the council can't take only your word on a matter like this."
Comforth rotated his monitor so that the small camera built into the frame faced the Elite. The line was silent. The monitor swiveled back to face the admiral, and the council began talking amongst themselves again. After several minutes they quieted.
"Admiral Comforth, you are hereby instructed by the High Command of Earth to escort the Covenant diplomat to Earth, where we will meet you to discuss the terms of a truce."
The video cut into blackness and was replaced with the blue and white United Nations symbol: a grid-patterned globe surrounded by olive branches. John watched the man behind the desk fill with energy as he patched himself through to the Bridge.
"Admiral Comforth, what may I do for you sir?"
"Head us for Earth, full speed."
"Roger that sir. Full speed for Earth."