Guerilla: Could you say that again?
Posted By: Mainevent
Date: 28 December 2004, 5:43 AM
"Welcome," his scratchy voice said in a surprisingly pleasant tone, "we have much to talk about."
"Hear him out. At least stall him long enough for me to root through subsystems for something to work with."
The extremely uneasy Spartan continued to sit quietly before the Prophet. A sly grin was drawn across its wrinkled brown face, and it was loving every second of the awkwardness. Sitting before the Prophet of Brotherhood was the "Demon". John mused to himself the thought of leaping onto the frail, bony creature's chair and ripping its throat out. That would've been suicide, but it was amusing nonetheless.
"I'm listening," he said where the creature could hear him.
"I'm not one to tarry around a subject, and as such I'll be brief. All is not well with the Covenant."
The Brutes guarding the Prophet all stared confusedly at each other, their stained, yellow teeth showing through snarling lips. This news was as much a surprise, apparently, to them as it was to John. But they said nothing, and continued to watch the "Demon" intently.
"A storm has been long brewing amongst the Council members; a storm that threatens to tear everything the Covenant have worked for apart at the seams. And I am very afraid that storm has arrived."
As he spoke there was a startling thrum of sensors as the gravity lift reactivated. The familiar purple glow columned to the roof for several seconds, but nothing emerged. It deactivated with a distorted shudder and pop as the energy supply faded..
"The Prophets of Truth, Mercy, and Regret have long been planning for this war, and I believe they are the very reason behind it. The brothers are responsible for several recent assassinations, of that I am sure. I am also incapable of doing anything but watching idly as they plot our demise. For that, I have come to you for help."
"This, your excellency," one of the Brutes began, "is heresy! You will be tried for treason for what you have said here today, and I for one will not allow you to bargain with this heretic!"
It's guttural growls were fierce and riddled with anger, but they were short lived as the ominous sizzle of plasma swords buzzed from behind the Brute guards. The two guards adjourning the center Brute fell quickly to their knees. Pools of dark blood oozed slowly from the massive cuts down their spines. A brute shot fired through dead fingers, bouncing uselessly into a corner and erupting into a miniature ball of fire.
John saw them now; the three cloaked Elites who'd apparently arrived on the grav-lift. How had he not seen them earlier? He quietly berated himself for such a blunder. Was his age finally getting to him? No time to dwell on that now. The center Brute struggled fiercely against his foes. His massive curved blade caught a surprised Elite in the face, slicing his mandibles cleanly off. Dual plasma swords arced down brutally, into pieces of metal and bone, before the creature finally ceased moving. Oddly, the Prophet hadn't flinched during the entire ordeal.
This Prophet's got balls, John thought to himself as the two sat directly across from each other in the empty room. An intent glare bypassed the thick, reflective face mask of the Mjolnir armor, and chilled the Spartan to the core.
A purple crescent-shaped reflection slid across the glass-like metal as the Prophet moved to a nearby wall. He slowly raised a single, bony gray hand to a projection. It was a projection of Earth. Its crystal lakes and dark blue oceans were encompassed by large patches of dark green and grays. Floating silently above it all were the thick, white cumulus clouds that patrolled like sentinels around the sphere.
"Your home world is captivatingly beautiful. It is quite shameful that the Council has decided to send its full fleet on her. The broken and battered resistance your armies will amass cannot stop the might of the Covenant crusade. Not for lack of will, but for lack of power. After tonight I will be branded a heretic and hunted by my people."
He pointed to one of the hundred battle-clusters orbiting Earth. The alien dialect scrolling above it was foreign to him, but Cortana translated it instantly: Cairo Station. The massive orbital super-MAC platform was a formidable opponent, but it was only one of a hundred. The Covenant fleets that would descend on Earth would be five times that number, and with their enhanced slip-space capabilities, it was almost impossible to catch them before it was too late.
"If you're not going to kill me then I'm going to stop them," John said as he began standing up.
The snarl of plasma swords accompanied his movement, but the Prophet quieted them quickly. John moved slowly towards the gravity lift, and surprisingly it activated before him.
"You would sacrifice your race for lack of patience?"
John stopped cold at the question. Was he actually about to abandon this singular proposition for peace? He knew that Earth would fall should the Covenant come, and he'd almost balked at an offer of help. His head turned slowly so that he could see the Pride of the Covenant. Such an insignificant and brittle creature to lead such a formidable opponent; although, humanity must have appeared the same through their eyes.
"What exactly are you offering?"
"I'm offering my meager fleet of thirty four. Although I believe there are others who will follow my cause should the time come."
"And in return?"
"In return, you allow us unrestricted access to the holy ruins on your planet."
"What holy ruins?"
Cortana hummed curiously into his helmet. She cross referenced known subterranean ONI and military bases with the location of the Forerunner facility found on Reach: fifty matches. She used geological ground surveys to check what type of bedrock the facilities were located on, and their relative location to ancient aquifers: six matches. Her logistics subroutine kicked in, and pointed to three main locations; the various Indian ruins located on South America, Central America, and Egypt. The technology used in Incan and Aztec pyramids seemed to shadow further technological advancement than their Egyptian counterparts, meaning that the area around Egypt would be the most likely place to find a Forerunner artifact. Unfortunately, the bedrock and soil conditions around Egypt didn't match, and wouldn't match for half a continent. The closest viable place to the Egyptian site was the ONI instillation at New Mombassa. If the Forerunner ruins were in fact located under yet another ONI base, she could easily rule out coincidence. There was something ONI was hiding; something that began this war.
"In due time. For now, you must return to your planet and make this proposition to your leaders. We wouldn't want any, misunderstanding, would we?"
"No," John responded warily, "we wouldn't."
Misunderstanding? Why would there be a misunderstanding? The deal was either on or off, there couldn't be a simpler plan, John's lips wrinkled into the closest thing he had to a frown.
"How will you know if they accept?" He asked calmly.
"We will position ourselves around your dead planet, the one from which you escaped previously. Before the sacrilege of the holy artifact. There, you will meet with our fleets, and negotiate the terms of our truce. I urge you be most haste in your return, I cannot tell how much longer the Council will stall their attack."
"I'll need a ship."
"It has been arranged. As a token of our hopes for peace, I have arranged for my most trusted leader to escort you to your planet."
John stepped silently onto the gravity lift; the white-armor clad Elite directly beside him. There was an expectedly awkward silence as the two foes were forced to peace. The memories of the Spartans who died on Reach floated back into his thoughts. He was taught to suppress his emotions, but at times it was so very hard. Ika 'Aslumee was also deep in thought, that of his comrades who died on the great artifact. How he wished he had been there to stop its destruction; at the hands of the very person he was now sworn to protect. The Grand Prophet's Chamber was still densely packed with Elites. All snarled or watched intently as a seething anger filled the room with tension.
"Well, this is very..."
"I know Cortana,"
"Do you trust him?"
"You're actually asking?"
"Just making sure you hadn't gone soft on me."
"Don't you have nav-routes to plot?"
The Chief emerged into the very bay he'd arrived in. The body of the Jackal had been removed, but the thick pool of blood remained. The air was thinner here, he could smell the difference through his mask. It had the metallic odor of space dust mixed with...something. It was odd, but noticeably there. On the center level was a small craft, comparable to a Prowler or Corvette class cruiser. Built for speed and silence, and sparsely armed. This trip would be awkward, and the reception at Earth decidedly more-so.