Posted By: Mainevent<Ahem@Mainevent.net>
Date: 12 December 2003, 11:03 PM
Elsrik was cold, and wet, and lonely. The beautiful day he had begun only minutes ago suddenly seemed like a hellish nightmare. His brother, friends, and members of his family dead. Betrayed by the insidious A.I. monstrosity known as The Monitor. He had to run. To tell someone, anyone who would believe him, about what happened. Then again, that was the problem. Who would believe him? A haggard figure shows up at someone's doorstep, claiming that the Forerunner's most holy figure was lying to them. Betraying them. Killing them. That the Angastal wasn't what they had been led to believe. It was hopeless, not a soul would believe him. Until seconds before his tragic death, not even his brother had believed him.
The low thrumming sound echoing from the canopy was eerily familiar. He couldn't place his finger on where he knew it from. A thick orange laser cut into the tree only centimeters before him, igniting the soaked embers in an instant. Splinters sprayed like shrapnel into the puddles of water at his feet, but bounced harmlessly off of his tough skin. Sentinels! The Monitor must have sent them to deal with stragglers, or possibly the creatures themselves. But why would The Monitor send Sentinels to attack what he believed was their diving resurrection. Elsrik wondered to himself as he lept over a fallen trree and rolled under it. UNLESS! He never thought they were the divine resurrection. That this whole thing was an extremely elaborate scam. But why? Why would he do that? Lasers once again cut through the fallen tree with no more resistance than butter. One of them once again missed him by a very slim margin. He tucked his feet and rolled between two thin saplings, and was on his way downwards. It would be a long roll, as he was on the downward slope of the ring's enormous landscape. The Sentinels hovered patiently at the edge of the trees, only two or three following behind him. Why are they sending such a precious few Sentinels to stop me? Then it struck him like a ton of bricks. He dug his gargantuan fingers into the soil, several nails ripping violently off, blood flowing from his ragged cuts. His body slammed against his shoulders, dislocating on of them.
But instead of the reassuring peace he had expected, he was instead flinching from the sharp pain coursing through his body. He was lucky, but still too late. The "small" cliff the temple facility was located on was actually three thousand feet high. He dared not to look down, at the specks of trees below. The ocean that branched endlessly before what seemed like finally falling off into space itself.
He strained to pull himself up, onto the solid earth below. His biceps, triceps, neck, shoulder, annd back muscles all flexed in unison, aching like pinpricks every second. Lactic acid was building up on them, and he could feel it, the burn. If only he could get onto his stomach, then he could push himself up with his feet. He felt a pop in his neck, and the sharp pain that accompanied the snap of muscle, but he was on his stomach. Legs frantically clawed at the dirt under him, pushing him easily onto the clifftop.
He rolled onto his back, heaving deeply. The three search-and-destroy Sentinels that were sent to follow him were unfortunately still waiting for him. Three particle beams split the air with a snap as Elsrik performed a quick sit-up and rolled onto his knees. He pushed into the ground with his legs, and began a dead sprint into the small gap leading between a thick patch of enormous boulders. It was a tight fit, with etches of dust and several loose pebbles coming aloose and falling to the sandy floor. The metallic menaces behind him were just barely too large to fit between the crags, and fluttered above the rock formation.
Elsrik's neck and arm were pulsing, their pain getting worse by the second. His legs were giving out as well, tired from the sudden strain. His mind was racing too fast, and he missed seeing the rock before he tripped on it. His body landed with a dull thud, a deep gash across his forehead swelling with blood. It had all happened so fast, however, that he never even saw himself fall.
It was night before he began regaining conciousness. The flood of memories and pain all storming his mind at once, a mental and physical barrage that nearly sent him into shock. His brother was dead, Sentinels were chasing him, he had dislocated his shoulder, snapped countless muscles in his neck area, and there was a thick dry puddle of blood from the gaping wound on his face. Worst of all, no one would believe anything he told them, after going over all of it again in his mind, he wasn't sure he did.
He listened carefully, for any sign of those damnable robotic beasts. Nothing. He rolled onto his left side, and propped himself against a boulder, while using his good arm to help pull his weight up. The crevice he was fallowing would lead him to a small village near the temple. If they wouldn't believe him, they could at least give him medical treatment.
An hour later, he was at the clearing. The boulders split to either side, and their was a small walkway. Downslope a little further was the village, the faint aura of their lights winked above the treetops. His feet were on fire, and his legs were constantly shaking. The rocky path was unsophisticated, but then again, nothing about the top-side of Eden was. The Monitor had specific instructions that it be preserved as well as possible, for the reclaimers. Elsrik had never heard in any of the Kahras (Divine Prophecies) of the Reclaimers. The Monitor, however, had on several occasions spoke of the mysterious figures. "They will be our salvation, they will be our purity. The one's to guide us forever into eternity." He said. Elsrik knew better though, he had seen the so called "Reclaimers". They had killed his brother, and slaughtered his friends.
The main street was silent, houses dark, and all was still. Fear raced down his spine like cold mercury. He drudged to a nearby shop, and peered inside. The lights were off, but he noticed movement inside. Is it one of the Angastal? Or a shopowner? Surely a shopowner will help me. He thought. He rapped the door with his knuckles. The metallic partition slid slowly into it's recess, and Elsrik rolled into the room with wreckless abandon.
An older man, who looked to be in his early hundreds from the small barely eight and a half foot stature, only stared at him with empty eyes. Wheeling out a long cart, he ushered Elsrik onto a nearby bench, and piled the cart with supplies.
"I need-," Elsrik began, but was cutoff midsentence.
"You need to let me do my job." The man interjected. "Dislocated right shoulder, snapped semi-cephalo muscles, mild concussion, and extreme lactic acid build-up." The man shook his head as he finished his prognosis. He had been, or was, a doctor from Elsrik's guess.
"Their coming, the Sentinels. You must warn the town. They will kill you all for what I've seen." Elsrik pleaded with the man, but he simply put a heavy hand on his shoulder, and motioned for quiet.
"My son, they've already been. They are quite persistant. Wouldn't stop asking about you, well, I'm guessing it was you. We told them we knew of no such person, but you can't get anything through their stubborn programming. They rounded the entire village, save myself who was hiding in the closet, downslope and..." His eyes disappeared again, regaining the cold look they originally had. Elsrik was in too much pain to let the man be, he needed help as soon as possible.
"I'll give you time to tell me, if you can help me." He told the man, who snapped back to reality with a thrust of energy.
He was groggy, heavy, and everything ached. It was a dull ache, but more than noticeable. His vision blurred, cleared, then blurred again several times before finally focusing. The short man was asleep in his chair next to the plasma conductors. His shoulder had been fixed, and his muscles repaired. The gash in his head was healed, and his weary muscles felt refreshed. Whoever he was, he was an excellent physician.
The sun was already up, and several farm animals roamed the street carelessly. Looking for food, or their owners, they were confused animals.
"How long have I been asleep?" He asked the shuffling figure behind him.
"Two weeks. It was pretty powerful medication."
"No kidding." Elsrik replied, they both laughed. A first in a long time, for both of them.
"We must leave today. I have gathered supplies and a Marcina from one of the resident's homes. They won't be needing it. It'll only be four hours until we're there. And then you can do what you need to do."
"And what is it that I need to do? What's four hours away?"
"Temotatalye is four hours away." The man subconciously checked both of his shoulders for any listeners, even though he knew there were none.
"Temotatalye is real? I thought it was only a story. They said that the settlers just disappeared, or had been killed. Rumors spread, but no one listened. Who would have believed that their were those who didn't believe The Monitor was just. Those who spoke out suddenly disappeared. I always thought they had been silenced by the Guardians."
"No, but they would have been had we not helped them."
"The Forerunner. We are an ecclectic organization that supports our freedoms. Not having them handed over to that dim-whitted automaton and his cronies. We only want it as it was before. You too have been killed by the Guardians. Or at least that's how the Sentinel databank will show you once we're in Temotatalye. They can...arrange...stuff." He said with a chuckle.
"I never got your name," Elsrik said, "Mine's Elsrik Andagall."
"I am Monastor Goranth Melnoris."
The shock of his words was similar to that of a tidal wave concentrated on his face. A Monastor on Eden. It was unheard of. The Monitor was surely unaware. The Monastors were religious leaders whose influence rivaled even his. Their influence alone wouldn't have been tolerated by his artificial mind, all of his logic algorithms constantly warning of the possibility that someone could turn. That dissent could spread. That there was a certain percent chance that something would happen. It made him ruthless and effective at the same time. What he had learned today was nothing short of blaspheme, but he somehow believed all of it. It wouldn't be long before they, the dissidents, made their stand.
The Afahad, or Great War, had been prophecied before, but only now was the threat so real. It wouldn't be long before Eden was turned to hell, and he would be a part of it all.