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A Second Last Chance: Book 1, Chapter 6 - 343 Guilty Spark
Posted By: Torch99<caesartorch@quidnunc.net>
Date: 8 July 2002, 7:02 am

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      Most of the Hoplites had seen the Elite ambassador, and the ones who didn't heard it very quickly.

      "Is the Chief actually talking to one of them?" asked one

      "Must be; they've been in there for a few minutes. I thought for sure I would hear some gunfire," another answered. Small debates were going back and forth among the soldiers...all of them. Claudius and Clonus were alone in the medical bay, except for Pvt. Conley, who was in a deep, sedated sleep. The two SPARTANs had been ordered to the bay by the Chief for reasons of secrecy. They were having a discussion.

      "Yea, Omega Unit was on patrol, and then a convoy of Elites materialized a number of meters out in the open. It was luck that none of my Hops opened fire. As a show of peace, they sheathed their plasma rifles and swords. I ordered my patrol to stand by. Then that one me and Tiberius escorted in took a step forward and asked to speak with the Chief. I asked him his business, and he said that it was urgent. I allowed him to come unaccompanied into the camp. I called Eta Unit in for backup in case of deception," Clonus concluded. Claudius tapped his head saying, "Always thinking. So could you infer any info from him?"

      "Well, from what I gathered, all his troops were pretty rattled, and what looked like his bodyguards gave him quite a verbal battle about coming in alone. However, he silenced them and came in. I did notice that he had a bulge in his chest armor pocket though."

      "What the hell could they want with us?" Claudius wondered aloud.

      Falshim had been busy giving general details to the Chief, all the while with Tiberius' M90 muzzle on him. He told him the mission had originally been a rescue one, seeking info about the Truth and Reconciliation. They had not found it, but found life signatures on Basis. Then he stopped.

      "Master Chief, information I have...not for ears of underlings. Possible to alone talk?" Falshim said in his awkward English. Chief nodded in agreement as he saw the Elite pat his chest pocket and draw out computer readouts. The Elite sat down after Tiberius had disarmed him completely. "I'll be waiting outside, Chief," he said.

      "State your case, Covenant; I got bigger problems than you." Chief started. The Elite looked none too happy.

      "Indeed you do, Master Chief," Falshim started. He now talked in regular, perfect, and confident English. He saw Chief's confused head cock. "Hmm, don't look so surprised 'Chief'. Any good commander knows the power of deception. I know you have been doing it to me since I arrived, hiding some of your SPARTANs to hide your real strength-.now onto business. Before I left, our cruiser, Independence, was thoroughly scanning the moon. It showed an immensely massive concentration of Flood warriors, all over it. I decided to take some printouts to use on the battlefield; I thought it might give us somewhat of an advantage. I now show these to you," he handed over the papers and continued, "to illustrate the direness of both our situations. We read close 250 human warriors, not including odd signatures...SPARTANs.

      "The number of Covenant left now total one hundred-forty four. Alone, we stand no chance against countless Flood attacking from all directions. You, however, are in a much better situation than my brethren. You chose a wise location to establish a foothold. You have a full circle of dense forest all around you. You have excellent air support, and have many more men than I do.

      "But how long will you be able to hold out during a prolonged large-scale assault from all sides? Your Longsword ships force you to extend your border of defense." Falshim went on.

      "...Okay, Falshim. I understand. What is it exactly that you came here for?" Chief asked.

      "Master Chief, Decimator of Covenant, I propose that we fight alongside each other to combat the Flood scourge. Together, with the best of the best on both sides, we have a fighting chance against an enemy that will overrun the universe if not culled here on this moon!" Falshim exclaimed, making his final statement. The sun had been rising all the while, and it now poked through some cracks in the command center's structure. The rays illuminated the Covenant Lord's four-walled mouth as he prominently bared his teeth. Chief was already uneasy, and that sight did nothing to help his bad feelings. Yet there was logic in his argument. He looked back at the printouts. According to them, there were thousands of Flood, of all kinds inhabiting this place. How did they get there? That was a question Chief would've liked to know.

      "Falshim," he said, rising, "your argument has much merit. However, how I feel will not change the hearts of my men. Your kind have killed their friends and family. I doubt they will allow this alliance to take place, but I will assemble them and talk to them," Chief said solemnly. He called Tiberius in to escort Falshim out to his army. "I will come out personally and tell you what my men have decided," he said, waving his hand for Tiberius to take him.

      "One more thing, Master Chief," Falshim interjected. "The second my people lost contact with Independence, they started preparing another rescue mission. This time, they will send an entire task force. Once they get here, the Flood will be properly destroyed, and then it will be your turn. It would behoove you to have powerful people of my stature and that of my army that respect you and act on your behalf. We are much like you; we do not like to die. Your help will in turn help assure your safe passage off this moon. I don't believe you will leave this place before all Flood fall, and that means waiting for my Covenant brethren. Essentially, if you do not have my support, as a prominent Covenant Lord, high in our homeworld's hierarchy, you will be destroyed by my kin. Keep this in mind." Falshim slammed his hand into the middle of his green armor, the Covenant salute, and walked out to his forces.

      Suddenly Chief realized something he had meant to ask Falshim. "Falshim! Wait a moment! Did you perhaps see a round, floating object on the battlefield while fighting?" he asked curiously.

      The tall general turned and his four-walled mouth formed what looked like a frown. "A little blue object that spoke very arrogantly and appeared to be leading the Flood?"

      Chief stared back and formed a small smile inside his helmet. "Yeah, that's what I'm talking about. Can you recall anything he was saying? Anything at all would be helpful."

      "Well-let's see. He was saying that 'you're weapons will do nothing against these creations', a lot of stuff like that. Then when his forces lost, he fled. Why is it of significance?"

      "Oh, well, that thing, 343 Guilty Spark, almost tricked me into releasing the Flood onto the entire universe. It was Cortana who saved us. He basically oversaw the Flood on Halo. He probably led a few of them to this place, and because he's here, I'm sure he's looking for a way to get the Flood off Basis and into the rest of the universe." Chief shook his head.

      "I will alert my warriors," Falshim stated, with a glimmer of hope in his deep, growling voice.

      This time to talk to the troops, Chief used the comm system. He didn't want to risk bringing in his patrols.

      "Attention all troops: it has been brought to my attention that this moon is infested with thousands of Flood. I received evidence of this from the Covenant who have been stranded here. There is a possibility that it is staged information. However, I believe that is not likely, especially because their commander gave me the info after he knew that within this camp reside nine SPARTAN warriors, and we outnumber them two-to-one.

      Their commander, a Lord Falshim, has proposed that the Covenant and Terrans form an alliance to combat the Flood. I have been told that a Covenant task force will arrive here probably in a few days. The Lord has given his word that we will be granted safe passage once the threat has been eliminated.

      I told Falshim that I would leave it up to my men, and whatever they decide, I will follow suit," the Master Chief finished.

      Chief was surprised at the mixed emotion. Some wanted to leave the Covenant alone. Others wanted to form the alliance, and many wanted to kill the Covenant. The troops became an unorganized mass of arguing soldiers. Chief had had a feeling this would happen. He was about to call them to quiet when Brutus radioed in to Chief.

      "Sir, Lord Falshim has just made a suggestion. In my opinion, it is worth discussing," he said, rather excitedly. Chief couldn't help but be interested.

      Chief and Claudius made their way through the trees, which held the Terran camp secret for seventy-five long meters. Falshim stood there with what could be called a smile on his face.

      "Master Chief! I have some new information you will want to know. A few hours ago, I sent out a group of Special Op Elites to gather any info they could find. They arrived back a few minutes ago. Ajit! Gratyam froehouch, unab!" he authoritatively spoke. A silver Elite stepped forward to Chief. "Master Chief, my scout squad came upon the ruins of an old city roughly 20 kilometers from this position. It was heavily guarded, but the enemy was doing nothing, almost as if they had no reason to be there. They were not even patrolling! With the strength of our armies, victory would be assured!"

      "Hmm-interesting," Chief muttered. He couldn't help but wonder if it was a trap.

      "Oh, and one more thing," Ajit stated. "The one you call '343 Guilty Spark' was there as well."

      Chief perked up a bit. That was definitely worth investigating. He thanked the Elites for the information and went back to camp.

      Going back to camp, Chief called Spar 3 (Crassus,Tiberius,Claudius) and Spar 2 (Brutus,Magnus,Clonus) together. They would be the advance scouts to provide proof of the Covenant findings. They would travel on two Warthogs. That left sufficient men for camp defense, whether attack be from Flood or Covenant.

      An hour and a half later, the SPARTANs came back and reported the findings as affirmative. During this time, the camp had not suffered any attack. Chief began to get slightly worried about this. Nevertheless, he did not want to pass up this opportunity. Tiberius reported at least two hundred Flood present. Falshim again entered camp under Titus and informed Chief that the Covenant would be going as well. Chief was skeptical still, but if the Covenant proved themselves in this battle, he might have to make the alliance decision all himself. He quickly made plans and mobilized his army.