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Homeworlds XXVII
Posted By: Mainevent
Date: 24 April 2004, 3:12 AM

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UNSCProphet's Will Bridge

      "What were the supplies?" Capulet asked Lee quietly. It wasn't a secret, he was just out of energy.
      "Eight crates of weapons, specialized to the Spartans' specific needs. Ammunition. Oxygen tanks. Space maneuvering packs. And the NOVA bombs are in bay six. Along with a small contingent of ODSTs assigned to protect them." The A.I. responded casually. Lines of code scrolled down his beard's silky smooth strands of hair.
      "Good. How long until we arrive in Covenant space?"
      "Sixteen hours."
      "How exactly are we getting them to the planet again?"
      No response. Capulet raised an eyebrow curiously. He hadn't even noticed his foot tapping the floor uncontrollably. Was it his nerves, or was he just trying to keep awake. The mission reports had been very unsettling.
      There was never a ninety-eight percent casualty rate. He knew that. Ninety-eight percent? How the hell did that happen? All of the Spartans would be together. If something went wrong, they all paid for it. There was no ninety-eight percent.
      He could refuse the order. Meet with them in private. See what they wanted. No need to make a rash decision. It was the first, and most likely the last, time humanity would actually have a chance to sit and speak on peaceful terms. If you could call the terms peaceful.
      Capulet didn't want to send his Spartans off to die, but he didn't trust the Covenant an iota. His Spartans? How had that happened? He rubbed his temples with his thumbs and closed his eyes. He wasn't thinking straight. Sleep. He needed sleep.
      "Sir. Sir!"
      "Yes Lee?"
      "Did you hear me sir?"
      "Hear you what Lee?"
      "I don't know sir. I don't know how they're getting to the planet."
      "How is it possible that HighCom overlooked that? They couldn't have. That's what they're paid to do. Unless they know something we don't. But how could they?"
      "It would seem that everyone knows more than we do at this point sir. You may get some rest. I'll wake you in eight hours."
      "No, I can't sleep. I have to...I have to prepare. Get the men ready. Supplies, logistics. I have a million things to do."
      "I can handle them sir. After all, what's a battle A.I. good for when a silly human goes and takes over?" Lee smiled to Capulet and gave him a friendly salute. It was amazing. They really did have a life of their own.

UNSC Prophet's Will Barracks

      John stared as his assembled squads. Forty-two bodies working for a single purpose. To win. Several were field-stripping their weapons; others were cleaning them. A couple of the more tech-heavy units were mulling over the specifics of the MJOLNIR Mark VI.
      The Mark VI was truly a magnificent beast of burden. It increased his operational payload twenty times higher than he could perform normally. It's software suite updated his neural implants, giving Cortana more room to breathe. Nightvision and thermal vision modes were now standard, and his reflexes were heightened even further.
      Word had gotten out that there were NOVA bombs on board. He'd heard of them, but no one had seen them in action. Whatever they were for, he had the eerie feeling his team would be finding out soon. An entire contingent of ODSTs had even been assigned guard duty. They were tough as nails, as far as regulars went. But they were no match for a Spartan; they were far from regular. They were as alien as the Covenant were.

Tslein aog Shaon, Train of the Holy Ones

      Prophet Jorn sat on his pedastle silently. He'd led an attack against his fellow men; his fellow Prophets. But it was necessary. He knew it was. They were going to foolishly continue defying the gods' wills by attacking the humans, and incurring the mechanical demons' wraths. Two had survived the attack, and for that he was glad.
      "Master Jorn, we are underway. We found papers of a clandestine meeting between the Humans and the Prophets. it would appear that they were going to betray the Humans."
      "I'm not surprised. Very little surprises me anymore."
      "You'll know why if you listen."
      "Was that contempt?" Jorn turned to the elite standing before him. Former Field Master, now a rebel, 'Zak was a very strong Elite. He was also very powerful. He'd instilled a fierce loyalty into his men; who were constantly at his side. Especially so the two Brute twins Aron and Aros.
      "No sir, merely a statement." 'Zak didn't fear the Prophets. He never had. Even less so now that there were only five known Prophets still around. He was the only one who knew their secret. They couldn't get rid of him if they wanted to. He'd set them up. It was perfect.
      The Prophets were a dying breed. They lived an extremely long time. Unfortunately, there were no more females of their species. When they died, they all died. That's what made the Forerunner technology the Humans possessed so valuable. That's what made the whole war. There was nothing religious about this slaughter. It was purely the Prophets' own vanity that had almost wiped out an entire intelligent species.
      'Zak had come close to being killed before, but one quickly understands how important blackmail can be in a tight situation. He'd made up an ingenious system of keeping his secret a secret, but there never was a system. No one besides him did know, or ever would if he died. That's what made his system so perfect. Not having a second man meant that the Prophets could look the second link all they could, but they'd never find him.
      It bought him time, but most importantly, it bought him power. He was able to speak with relative impunity to the Prophets, as long as he still retained an outward air of solemn respect. A respect he never held. 'Zak was intuitive, and by nature, hated the Prophets. He wasn't sure if she should just put an end to all of them and let their pathetic species die out once and for all.
      Once they found the replication technology they were after, his information wouldn't matter much anyway. He only existed because his information mattered. When it disappeared, he had the strange feeling he would too. A feeling he couldn't shake off no matter how much he tried.
      "What exactly is it I should know?"
      "I'll make it short and sweet. They have data about us that we can't risk losing. We have to get it back. Even if that means breaking the treaty."
      "We cannot break the treaty! It will be the doom of us all. That is why we are like we are in the first place. Because of our dirty and backhanded policies. No more. We will not break the treaty. You will have to find another way to get what you need. One that requires no one is hurt. That is all, you may leave."
      "Yes sir." It was no use argueing. 'Zak bowed, turned, and left. Those very same policies he was using were created by the Prophets. First they go to war because of their ignorant vanity, and now they refuse to win it because of their surprise enlightenment. When would those fools realize that they were still at war? When would they realize that their religion was all bullshit, and that they had to finish what they'd started with impunity, or they'd take every species in the Covenant down with them?
      'Zak didn't know, but it chilled him to the core that there would be a day he'd have to find out. Or would he have to make sure that the day in question never came? Yes, that sounded very good. Very good indeed.