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Effusion - Chapter 2; Purple suits you
Posted By: Tursas<tursas@shaw.ca>
Date: 30 March 2002, 2:54 am

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The Master Chief was dreaming a dream in which he was fighting all alone against an unstoppable foe. But although the foe was unstoppable, it seemed to him that there was no real malice between he and it. The score was 2 to 1 for the foe.
     "I think you'll find a fishbowl underneath the cushion of your chair."
     The Master Chief stood up, turned about, and lifted the cushion of his very plush seating ornament. As predicted, the fishbowl was there, with a little crab and a goldfish circling through the water.
     The score was now 3 to 1.
     "That fish is going to jump out of the water and land on the coffee table any moment now." the Master Chief predicted.
     "Wrong. Again."
     The crab floated up towards the fish and grabbed it in its large pincer. It then proceeded to stuff the fish into its minuscule mouth, until at last only the tale poked out, all folded up and still twitching.
     The score was now 4 to 1. The time between the last two points had been about thirty seconds. Obviously, they had not been playing very long.
     "So I was wrong about that... no worries, I can still win."
     "Your mind is far too small. You do not exercise the abstract portions of your brain well enough. Hence you cannot win. My, oh my. Is that your tentacle?"
     Indeed, a large purple tentacle had grown out of the Master Chief's helmet, and hung like a braid of hair from the back of his head. The weight of it took a lot to compensate for, leaving the Master Chief feeling very weak indeed. The old man sitting in the plain wooden chair across the table from him smiled slightly behind his sunglasses. The score was now 5 to 1.
     "I don't like this game."
     "Then wake up."

The crushing gravatic power of Threshold, pulling him towards it semi-permeable center, thrust him down through the clouds of a gas storm. He was falling at a prodigious rate now, and there seemed to be no end to this ride in sight. The gases that swirled and swept past him were highly poisonous, to be sure - half a breath would cause complete and total biological death - but his armor had a short supply of air contained in one of the inner recesses of the backpack assembly. There was so little oxygen and so many toxic substances present in the atmosphere that the filtration attachment in his helmet had powered down instantly upon contact with the gas and thus relinquished life support to the other system in the suit. Soon enough the pressure would become too great to protect against, for although he could maneuver in space where there was very little to hold things together, here there was altogether too much. He would eventually be crushed like an empty tin can jumped on by a three hundred pound semi-giant.
     "Chief! Are you still alive?" the voice of Cortana shouted in his helmet.
     "I'm as close to alive as possible, under the circumstances."
     This was indeed true. From the moment that he had been teleported, he had lost complete control of the situation. As a matter of fact, he believed he had lost control the moment he had awoken aboard the Pillar of Autumn little more than half a week ago. He didn't like to admit it, but that was the way of things. He could always say that he had never lost control of the immediate situation - with the exception of now - because he had never lost a fight on the ring, but there was the weight on his shoulders that the entire crew was dead. He believed he must have been the perpetrator of this crime, as though his own survival was the weight against which the other was balanced. But Cortana had survived. And Guilty Spark. And the hub.
     "There must be some way out of this." Cortana again.
     "Try activating the maneuvering pack."
     "It wouldn't work, not here."
     "Then I guess we're already dead."
     "Not if I can help it. But I think congratulations are in order; we have just broken the sound barrier."
     "Joy." The Master Chief could feel the pressure around him beginning to build to intolerable levels. It wouldn't be very long now...
     Almost too fast to be perceived, a glistening square of energy fizzled into life in front of them, just a few seconds before they passed through it and out into space on an orbit around Threshold. The physical transition wasn't marked, as there was no real bodily pressure change between the two extremes of existence; the suit's life support functions saw to that. Soon, however, the fit relaxed back to normal levels.
     But they weren't out of the frying pan yet; there was still the issue of having enough air to breath.
     "What happened?"
     "I don't know. We've been teleported out into space. But by whom... I have no idea."
     The Master Chief and Cortana floated for a while.
     "I've got a fix on the Longsword. It's 30 kilometers in front of us on this orbit. I can get us there with your maneuvering pack. I don't know if we'll get there in time for your air supply to diminish too much."
     The Master Chief looked towards the nav point indicated on his helmets HUD. He couldn't see the Longsword behind the red square, but it must have been there, otherwise Cortana wouldn't have mentioned it.
     "Do it."
     Cortana activated the maneuvering pack and increased their velocity on their current vector until they were well on their way to meeting up with the Longsword.
     "Something tells me this was far too easy."
     "What the hell is this all about? First we find out that 343 Gnarly Shit survived, then that there was a construct on a hub that also survived, then that we survived as well. What the hell is wrong with the world? Does everybody have to survive? Or is it just this day of the year?"
     "They've really gotten to you, haven't they, Cortana?"
     "No. That is why I pulled you out of that flat spin. I believe that you can be of assistance to us. Would you like to discuss this further on my ship?"
     By now Cortana had calmed down a little. "And who are you?"
     "Would you like to discuss that as well?"