From the Other Side: Homeworlds Tie-In
Posted By: Mainevent
Date: 21 March 2004, 4:49 AM
From the Other Side: Old Wounds Reopened
The Dawn of Dusk exited slip-space with a jolt. She was undergoing extensive repairs for the damage the humans had inflicted, but she wasn't near done. Monitor 343 Guilty Spark sputtered silently near the ship's control center. Silence wasn't something he was prone to be, and neither was the control panel. He could access the ship and gain control from any panel he chose, he had already inserted data miners and local taps at several key points, so that he could remotely pilot it if need be. Something felt odd to him, he couldn't place it, and it scared him. His attempts at turning off his emotions subroutines were successful, but whatever was bothering him moved on to his logic subroutines. Nothing he did could shake the feeling. It wasn't normal.
He ran another system scan while his lesser Sentinels carried out the task he had assigned them: continue repairing the hull and return to the Local Nexus. The scan took the better part of three hours, but time was nothing to a machine; especially a machine that had an operational record of over 100,000 years. He didn't like the power on the human's ships though. It tasted strangely odd, like the difference between hard and soft water.
The scans came up negative, he knew they would. He'd run three already. Always negative. He had even checked his virus definitions with Monitor 384 Early Dark; they matched. What was it? What was there? Nagging at him, biting at his heels. Tugging on his arm like a needy child. He turned his logic subroutine off momentarily, and then restarted it. Hopefully tripping any bug in the program up, and screwing it up enough for him to detect it. It didn't though. For now the emotions subroutines would stay off.
The Local Nexus was operating at full capacity, and its massive signal readings emanated as far out as his ship was, three hundred million miles away. It was an enormous structure built by the Forerunner to be the forefront for any communications. It operated consistently through both slip and normal spaces, and any relay it sent out could be received within an hour. The speed of light in slip-space was thought non-existent by both the humans and the Covenant because they couldn't see it. It was in reality quite the opposite. Light traveled much faster than normal, and was in essence turned into something altogether different. Combining the upgrade in light speed with the extremely complicated understanding of how sub-space operated gave the Forerunner an incalculable advantage.
With the dissolution of the Forerunner race came an emptiness. The Local Nexus sat unused, much like many other Forerunner artifacts, for over 100,000 years. Then, just as abruptly as it had been decommissioned, it was restored. Displaced Sentinels and Monitors flocked to their "home" for operational reports after Installation 04 was destroyed. Finding it vacant, they reactivated it. It slowly grew into their command center. All of the Monitors from across the expanse of the universe were gathered in the Nexus. Guilty Spark was no exception, his return to the Nexus was 'Objective Alpha' on the various sensor arrays and processors that constituted his being.
He couldn't pull himself to link up to the Nexus however. The possibility of an undetectable risk infecting the entire Sentinel core was unacceptable. No, it was acceptable. Was it acceptable? His logic subroutine was malfunctioning to an extreme degree. There was definitely something inside of him. Something playing dirty tricks on him. His electronic mind pulsed violently with information. Data cache after data cache passed back and forth in desperate attempts to discern the correct course of action. He couldn't do it. He could do it. He didn't know. Every time he made a decision his mind would change.
The Subroutines he had pre-installed on the ship correctly asserted from his actions that he was undergoing a level-4 system error. It would immediately send out an assessment and halt discontinue the Dawn of Dusk's progression towards the Nexus. How the virus had gotten into his systems he wasn't sure, but what was sure is that nothing he knew of could erase it.
The Dawn of Dusk exited slip-space twenty million miles off Local Nexus' port. The virus didn't stop the monitor from a quick-progress scan. In fact, it welcomed it. The virulent spicules unwound themselves for him, releasing its grasp on his system. Whatever was inside of him wanted to know what it was going to have to face just as much as he did. He couldn't feel it holding him back anymore, but he could feel it peering out through his eyes. Taking in everything there was.
Elsrik Andagall could never have anticipated the far reaching effects his plan would have. He'd only meant to save the Forerunner on Eden. But now, nearly 120,000 years later, in a remote region of space, his work was once more paying dividends. Could the actions of one well-meaning youth's hasty decision really save a race he couldn't even know existed. One in its infancy at the time of infection. If it couldn't, than it sure the hell could help; and they would need all the help they could get.