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Effusion - Chapter 4: Ask yourself who and why.
Posted By: Tursas<tursas@shaw.ca>
Date: 13 April 2002, 3:17 am

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"Let's start over. Tell us again what your name is?"
     "I am known among my people as Momos."
     "And tell us again what you did?"
     The conversation between Cortana and the entity calling itself Momos took an abrupt swing to start all over again as Momos tried to describe to them a deal that it had in mind to make with them.
     It had been a surprise of large proportions when the Master Chief and Cortana found themselves teleported into a room of suitable atmosphere (allowing the Master Chief's armor's air supply to recharge) looking over the deck of an unexpected, but surprisingly small, alien warship. It had been such a surprise, in fact, that the Master Chief and Cortana were called upon to introduce themselves three times, after the other entity did so, before they responded.
     "I allowed the escape of the entities that you knew as 343 Guilty Spark and the hub of this fortress world."
     "And you did this because..."
     "I saw an opportunity for both of our parties." The disembodied voice of Momos floated to them through the expanse of space from a radio beacon in the corner of the room, picked up by the comms apparatus in the Master Chiefs' suit.
     "You want us to run around destroying Halos. OK. I just wanted to make sure that we'd established that. What do we get in return?"
     "My race will fight for yours. No strings attached."
     Cortana whispered in the Master Chief's ear, "This sounds like a good deal. They seem to be very advanced, possibly as advanced as the Forerunner. Do you have any problems with it?"
     "No." the Master Chief thought in return. Cortana registered it in the neural matrix in the Chiefs' head as an answer.
     "And how many Halo's do we have to destroy?"
     "As many as you can. For each ring you ruin, we will destroy a major world of the beings you have named as the Covenant."
     "There's just one little problem." Cortana replied. "We destroyed the last Halo with a wildcat destabilization of the fusion core of the ship we arrived in this system with. It was a one-time thing. We couldn't do it again."
     "No matter. We do not mean to destroy the rings outright. We merely wish to destroy their usefulness to the Forerunner. I will supply you with transportation, weapons and training. But if you still feel uncertain about perpetrating these acts, you should give the coordinate data you have to me."
     "Not so fast, bucko. We aren't going to hand over our hard-earned information for nothing."
     "I never asked you to do so. I will simply check the coordinates against known Forerunner military positions to decipher which rings will be safe for you to meddle with. My own people could never do the tasks because all of the rings are programmed to activate and destroy any of us when we come near them. You, on the other hand, managed to get onto and away from the last ring without difficulty, so --"
     "Except for the death of every crewman aboard the Pillar of Autumn." the Master Chief finally added something to the conversation.
     "A small price to pay in comparison to what I am asking you to do now."
     "That depends on how much you value life."
     "I saw you at work. I shouldn't have expected such a statement from anybody as well-versed in killing as you."
     "A question of loyalties, then."
     "That is where we are similar. In return for your loyalty to us, we will return it to you in kind."
     Cortana waited for the Master Chief to make the next move. The Master Chief thought about the proposition for a moment.
     "How many core worlds do you think the Covenant have?" the Chief mentally asked the construct in his suit.
     "Probably hundreds. Maybe thousands. From what we understand of their military hierarchy in the field, they will probably have a central military world." Cortana replied quietly in the Chief's ear.
     "So, in return for destroying Halos you'll destroy the Covenant military hierarchy, world by world?"
     "If you so desire."
     "Then I guess we have a deal."