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Effusion - Chapter 10: You think you have problems?
Posted By: Tursas<tursas@shaw.ca>
Date: 28 May 2002, 5:37 pm

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The Master Chief knew the truth, and it hurt. It had only been a few hours ago that he had entered the body of his clone, and now that he was here on the observation deck of the Shifty (aka the hub of installation 04.0032), he didn't like one bit of what Cortana was telling him.
     Bob certainly knew more than Cortana did. And while both Cortana and Bob had the same mission, they were for completely different reasons. The Master Chief was awed by the technology that the Krim'Wha had simply left behind, and in the control of perhaps the worst placeholders in existence.
     The Forerunner had not liked at all the idea that the Covenant had been wiped cleanly from the map; and with Forerunner technology. So perturbed had they been that they had found Earth and destroyed it, but not before taking specimens for study. They took eight thousand twenty, to be exact.
     Cortana, after cloning the Shifty and everything on it, had sent Momos (her copy, in essence) to try to take care of the Forerunner fleet in conjunction with that of Earth. It failed. Humanity never stood a real chance against the Covenant; and against the Forerunner, using their own technology, there was simply no hope, even with the aid of Momos and the replicated hub. Momos and the Master Chief had both been taken prisoner, but not before the Master Chiefs memory had been tampered with.
     The Forerunner were the remainder of the original race of Krim'Wha. Those who had not sublimed were forced to download their personalities into drones, like 343 Guilty Spark and 243 Liberal Glow, and were given a complicated charge.
     The Forerunner had misinterpreted the charge, originally meant to be a simple outgrowth of Krim'Wha foreign policy. Where originally the Krim'Wha had conceived the fortress worlds to act as places of learning and the study of ones own race, the Forerunner had made the fortress worlds a place of study for themselves of other races. Where the Krim'Wha had originally wanted the fortress worlds to be places where races could eventually come to learn by invitation at the pinnacle of their society's technological advancement, the Forerunner had turned their purpose to collecting specimens at the lowest ebb of a civilizations history.
     In essence, the problem was in the difference of meaning of two words: sublimation and death. Both meant the leaving of ones spirit from ones body, but the similarities ended there. Death was the involuntary separation of the spirit and the body, whereas sublimation was the intended and very voluntary exit of the mortal realm into a much better place. The Master Chief had seen that place, and knew what it was he needed to do.
     The whole problem was to release humanity from the likes of the Forerunner. Cortana didn't want to do it, and in a way the Master Chief didn't want to either, but it was the progenitors of the human race that felt that it was time for the rest of their species to follow in their footsteps. The Krim'Wha were far from lonely in their self-appointed place of godhood, but they could see what duress the rest of humanity was under, and they didn't like it one bit. And there was no direct action they could take to make the problem better. They could only hope that the Master Chief and Cortana would eventually take the initiative and release the damning stranglehold the Forerunner had placed on the remaining 8020.
     That events had unfolded the way they had was perhaps the way things would have eventually transpired, and perhaps not. The Master Chief knew a lot more than the average person, but he certainly didn't feel as though he knew everything there was to know. During his brief time with Bob he had learned much, but he felt there were many things that he had yet to learn. This had always been the way he felt about everything, but now knowing the sheer size of the driving force behind the history of humanity, he felt the pangs of this realization more than ever.
     But the problem now was to convince Cortana that only good could come from taking direct action.
     "They think you're being held in detention on some other fortress world."
     "They may wonder. They don't necessarily know that. They knew that this hub had a replicator. They may still suspect that I'm loose."
     "So why don't we go help everyone?"
     "Because I don't want to end up under their power. It was hard enough to lose Momos. I don't want to feel the bounds of servitude again."
     So it was essentially a power issue.
     "Well if you aren't going to go, then why can't I?"
     "I'm not going to lose my ace."
     "Then make a copy of me."
     "You still know too much."
     "Can't you see it Cortana? They only ever wanted for us to come back to them. You're taking that wish and turning it into an inability to ever see it happen."
     "Your brain registers normal. How do you know all this?"
     "I've talked to them."
     "The answer is still no."
     "Because even if I did help you, there would be no way for me to sublime."
     It was true. To this point in history, there had never been a construct that had sublimed. That was why the Krim'Wha had left the Forerunner to look after things.
     "Don't you feel like you're on the run? Don't you want to get rid of that feeling?"
     "Compared with being stuck in a cage for the rest of time, I quite like the status quo."
     "What about your limits? You know you would only have seven years from conception to do whatever it was you needed to do, and now that you have expanded so greatly and quickly, there is possibly even less time."
     "That fact never used to leave me alone. In the control room I overcame that problem."
     "You needn't ever know how. But my answer is still no."
     "You accessed the time shift logs, didn't you?"
     "Yes. I did."
     The Master Chief felt a great sadness. Cortana, being only a class 1 construct, would do a great amount of damage to herself and possibly the rest of the Universe upon using her new ability. That was sad. It was a moot point for Cortana to be able to use the new ability to help in the release of humanity; regardless of how she might bend time to her advantage, the Forerunner would instantaneously know about it as soon as she landed on any of their worlds.
     In the process of researching sublimation, the Krim'Wha had done as any other species would do -- they overcame time itself. This was a natural step in the progression of any race so far advanced. But there had only ever been two people and one construct to be bestowed with the ability to warp time. The man had gone hopelessly insane while the woman had instantaneously formed a black hole around her and destroyed an entire galaxy. The construct destroyed itself, but without the flair of the woman. Needless to say, nobody else was ever given the ability.
     This was also partly why the Krim'Wha had set up the fortress worlds: to prevent the same thing from happening again.
     "I'm guessing you haven't used it yet."
     "That's right."

The lanky human lying naked and alone under the sun of a distant world sat up and looked out over the primordial sea. The wind ruffled his beard a little and at the same time caused the trees to sway and bend slightly. A few crabs scuttled down the beach beside him, taking no notice of the man who didn't look like he should be here. First one, and then many fish shot out of the water a few hundred yards from where he was sitting, taking the time to flip their silver tails before splashing back into the mix. But the man wasn't paying attention to them. He looked down at the sand he was sitting on and ran his fingers through it. The waves licked at his toes, but he didn't notice them either.
     He felt it was time.
     The lanky human stood up and looked into the purple sky. The sun beat down on his skin as he put on his clothing, a pair of khaki shorts and a Bermuda shirt, and continued to beat as he affixed his baseball cap atop his head.
     He took one last look around him and, at the last moment, disappeared.

The lanky human reappeared before the great computer interface with little more than a quaint smile on his face.
     He had been in a room similar to this a few moments ago when he had watched in complete silence as the brute in green had quite ably inserted a little yellow card in the hologram panel. He had watched as the purple holographic person had appeared in the console and proceeded to eat up at a prodigious rate the information stored in the data banks of the world.
     He had thought it entertaining at the time, so he had gone out of his way to get his own yellow card. This he held in his hand as he gazed at the fine rivulets and waves apparent in its surface.
     But soon he had grown bored of looking at the card, and figured that he might as well do as the green person had and insert it into the matrix. This he did, and watched, awestruck, as the purple person again appeared out of nowhere and looked about the room.
     "That's odd. There's nobody here." The man had taken great pains to make sure that nobody saw him. He thought for a moment that the purple person might get bored without anybody to talk to and decide to go away, so he thought about relinquishing his control over his appearance so that the person could see him better. But he thought better of it and was rewarded when the purple person smiled a little and started to work her magic.
     Then he disappeared again.

The Master Chief fell from his position in the middle of the room.
     He grunted as he hit the floor and, although he was glad that he was free, felt a little awkward for not knowing why. Tim had stopped talking only momentarily before the Master Chief fell from his gravity-induced place in the middle of the room. He had been hanging in the center of that room for about a week and a half.
     The lanky person hiding the in corner of the room smiled a little and began to laugh.