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A Path to Nowhere
Posted By: Mainevent<sis@siss.ynet>
Date: 15 December 2003, 10:51 PM

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      Elsrik and the Monastor glided gently across the terrain. The scenery whizzed by just fast enough to be beautiful, but not slow as slow to make it dull.
      "Why are we driving to Thermotatalye? Wouldn't it be faster to simply use The Net." Elsrik asked without removing his gaze from his surroundings. He was actually glad that they hadn't, so he could enjoy the tranquility. From what he had gathered, it was the calm before the storm. He knew he probably wouldn't see anything as beautiful, and for that he was glad.
      "For two reasons," Goranth replied, "I like the view along this route."
      "And the second?" He asked after several seconds of silence.
      "And because The Net doesn't go there." The older man said with a chuckle.
      "How can that be?" Elsrik asked, more to himself than to the man beside him. "The Net runs all across this ring."
      "Ah, but we're on a path to nowhere."
      "But every path leads somewhere."
      "For you, and for me, that is true. But for The Monitor and his sentinels, there or places that is not. He is restricted by his programming. He may be replicated from neural pathways of what many here consider the most divine leader, but he is still limited by what he is. He is a program in a shell. A program has bugs, and is succeptable to viruses."
      "How is he succeptable to viruses? I thought there were no more viruses."
      "There aren't any known viruses around. But this virus that we uploaded does nothing harmful. It merely changes a few numbers. He has trillions of digital paths, all leading to trillions of places. But where we're going, his paths lead nowhere. The numbers we gave him would lead him into space."
      "Aren't you afraid he'll run a system check? His subroutines would surely discover that."
      "Ahh, but he has. They can't find it unless they cross check those numbers with every other path to every other section of the ring. There are over four hundred sixty-five trillion paths in the databank. The likelyhood of him performing a system check is second to null, and even if he did, his chances of finding them are as good as someone destroying Eden. It'll never happen."
      "Just say he did find Thermotatalye, then what? How could we defend ourselves. Then again, what good are we now. We'll still be slaughtered by his Sentinels. We'll be able to do nothing but wait."
      "Oh ye of little faith. There are things you've never seen. Things that will blow your sheltered mind." The Monastor replied as he sped the vehicle up. The rest of the trip was silent.

      The rolling plains and sprawling wilderness had finally subsided as they came to a halt at a mountain's base. Elsrik, who had been asleep, finally came to, and was surprised at what he was witnessing.
      "Go! Go! Before they see us. It's too late for them, they can hold their own. You said so yourself." Elsrik bellowed as he panicked. Four Sentinels hovering near a thick shimmering door stopped their random patrol, turned to face the vehicle, and rushed over to it.
      "I told you before, there are things that you've never seen. Have more faith in me than that. Surely I wouldn't have us both to our deaths on purpose."
      The Sentinels halted at the Marcina, and one began a thorough scan. A thin red beam coursed across it's being, covering every square inch, before finally winking out of existence. The Sentinels, apparently satisfied by their results, simply turned away and returned to their work.
      "How did y'all acquire Sentinels? The Monitor has to know you have them." The slowly calming passenger queried.
      "Oh, he knows alright, and it bugs the hell out of him. There's even been rumors that he's created an entire subroutine dedicated to finding them. He won't though, and he knows it. The Sentinels run on a dumb program. Their Smart program counterparts can adapt, change, upgrage, to fit whatever environment it encounters. But the dumb programs, they are set in stone. They'll follow input orders, but they'll never question them. We simply changed their programmed input, and now they're as loyal as a pet."
      The extremely large door before them opened lazily. It's heavy motors whining as they activated. It separated at a nearly invisible seam, revealing a second set of inner doors. Four gargantuan locks hisses and flushed spent plasma fumes as they huffed forward before sliding backwards into place. The quartered inner gateway bucked and jerked several times before finally moving out of the way. They were old, but very very sturdy. Elsrik doubted that even The Monitor would be able to get into the base that way. They may actually have an impenetrable fortress in their grasps, but as so many pitched battles before had proven, there are no impenetrable fortresses.
      The car hovered from the dusty earth outside to the dull brown metal inside. It was dark, very dark. Elsrik didn't like it. The thin hallway was a hundred meters long, and ended at a second set of the mammoth doors. "Flood Gates" The Monastor called them. The Forerunner weren't prepairing to stave off a Sentinel attack, they were prepairing to hold off the Angastal.
      Elsrik was lost in thought. Would The Monitor be as shallow as to kill all of those people to simply attack his enemies. The deadliest weapon perhaps, with their semi-controlled minds, extreme resistance to regular weapons, and above-par strength. He snapped back into reality as the second set of doors came to a screaching halt.
      The main cavern that appeared before him was the largest room he'd ever seen. Eden itself had been carved into, an enormous excavation easily a half-kilometer deep. It rose another fifteen hundred meters into the air, honeycombed with pylons and support structures, as well as living facilities and cleaning plants. It was a self supporting miniature Eden. Several thousand people swarmed throughout the massive first level alone, criss-crossing paths on their way to wherever they were heading. Elsrik suddenly noticed something else, it was brighter.
      He did indeed see things he'd never seen before. The Monastor's car floated across the room with ease, and he explained the in's-and-out's of The Garden of Eden, as Thermotatalye had been aptly nicknamed. An entire company of what Goranth called "Sidewinders" were stationed at the entrance.
      The Sidewinders were animal-like, and stood on four jointed appendages. They had a thick body that housed the driver, and two other appendages with heavy weapons. Particle beams that could rip through four inches of Inatium metal in one blast.
      Another group, called the Wardens, were lined precariously around the rim. The hovered several meters above the tiled flooring, and were perhaps the most heavily armed of the entire Forerunner arsenal. Six super-plasma particle cannons, four heavy particle beams, and five plasma lasers. Truely a weapon to fear.
      A last group of vehicles, the smallest he had seen, yet also the most numerous, were called the Watchmen. They were what could be considered light weapons. Their design allowed for drastically different arrangements, some having one heavy particle beam, others have quad plasma lasers, and even several drone classes.
      "There are more, but we dare not show them until they are used. All of these have been seen by The Monitor, he has no doubt devised ways of combatting them, but he is only a program. We've sent small platoons of them on surgical strikes from time to time, to remind him that we're still here, see how well he reacts to a new threat, but never attacking him with mixed units. He can only develop ways of defeating swarms of a single type."
      "That's wise. What are the other ones like though?" Elsrik was very interested in all that he was being exposed too, and he wanted to know more.
      "In time you will become a great leader, I can tell. But until then, I can show you no more. We are preparing our first attack in several units. We must hurry. I'd like you to be there."
      "But why me?"
      "As I said before, I see you becoming a great leader. You'll never be great if you do nothing."