Effusion - Chapter 6: Isaiah 42:7
Posted By: Tursas<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 26 April 2002, 9:52 pm
"You were saying earlier that the flood was held in containment for millions of years? Why did Guilty Spark imply that I had been there before? What really happened Cortana?"
The Master Chief was walking down one of the few access hallways on board the Shifty, Momos' ship. He did this - on top of all his other training regimens - to stay fit, keep his mind supple, and pass the time. Since coming here, Cortana had preferred to stay inside the Master Chief's suit; she seemed to be afraid of sharing a system with an alien AI. He had no qualms with this, as he had no qualms with the excruciatingly bare patch of hallway that he had slept on for fifteen hours straight. He had been awake ever since he had caught some shut-eye on board the dropship enroute to the containment center where Captain Keyes had been turned by the flood.
"The flood was released the second time by other sentient beings on installation 04, much like us. Those beings came from planets in our galaxy via starships. When the flood was released that time, the Monitor took one of the other sentient beings through the process of retrieving the index and uniting it with the core."
"But wouldn't that have killed everyone on Earth as well?"
"You forget that humanity has not been around very long. At the time of the pulses, the dinosaurs were knocked out of existence. The reuniting of the index with the core DID kill all life of suitable size for the flood. It left behind enough for humanity to grow out of small marsupials into monkeys, sub-humans, and finally into two-legged beings that walked upright."
"What was the point of killing all 'suitable' life in the galaxy if the flood would kill them anyways?"
"The Forerunner chose our galaxy, and installation 04 in particular, as the holding pen for the flood because there was relatively little other life in it at the time. Most worlds at the time were uninhabitable, Earth included. The reason for wiping out all life in the wake of the escape of the flood? To prevent other galaxies from being infected and keep the Forerunner zoo alive."
"A zoo, eh?" The Master Chief reached the main weapons locker of the Shifty. He picked up a gravity rifle, his M90 shotgun, eight replicated fragmentation and plasma grenades and enough ammunition for both guns to keep him happy for a while.
"The Forerunner have an interminable fascination with living things; especially sentient and semi-sentient living things. They treat all other species like animals. This means that whenever a race is wiped out, specimens are kept on hand for study and play. This included the flood, which did eventually die out entirely in another galaxy because they couldn't find enough food to sustain themselves."
"And that's why there were no other species on Halo? They wanted to keep the flood segregated?"
It was an interesting point of trivia that one of the Shifty's capabilities was to physically duplicate just about anything with the use of the onboard duplicator. Food, ammunition, weapons; just about anything could be duplicated by simply placing the item on a tray and this into an oven-like aperture. Next was needed a specification for how many duplicates were to be built, and the specifics of where to store them. It was a very handy device and, apparently, worked on the same teleportation principals used to ferry the Master Chief and Cortana from the Shifty to the various places they had visited for the week that they had been with Momos.
"There were other species kept on Halo originally. There were races of sentient trees and such, but nothing as dangerous as the flood. When the flood was released the first time, all the other species in the galaxy were under the threat of being turned. It was a matter of either the flood leaving the galaxy and eating all sentient races in the Universe, or minimizing the threat by sacrificing everybody in the Milky Way. 343 Guilty Spark told this to the first Reclaimer, and hence the monologue about you having done it before. As for why he thought you and he were the same person? Well, millions of years alone will do that to a person."
The Master Chief liked to have those few points clarified. The idea that in fact the flood was simply a dangerous pet hidden in a cage and then released by the Covenant was comforting to him. It meant that the release of the flood would have happened eventually, regardless of who did it, and that he could perhaps now put behind him the ache of personally killing everybody on the Pillar of Autumn. The Master Chief headed back out of the weapons locker and into the center of the ship.
"The flood were only held on that specific ring, weren't they?"
"That is correct. Why would the Forerunner double, triple or even septuple the chance of the destruction of the rest of their zoo?"
Better still. Not only could the Master Chief take solace from the fact that he couldn't have helped events, but he had assured that life in the Milky Way would not be wiped out again because of the flood. The gun pointed at the head of the Universe had been unloaded, disassembled, welded into a ball and flung onto the trash heap.
"But just because the flood are gone does not mean that things are as they should be..." the now familiar voice of Momos registered in the Master Chiefs headset. "The things the Forerunner do to their collections are less than, how shall I put it?... humane."
The Master Chief and Cortana knew enough about that point of Momos' doctrine to both give many series' of lectures to students wanting to learn some of the more grotesque tendencies of the most powerful race in the Universe.
"... And although the flood were an interesting species, to say the least, there should have been no net to catch them when what you would call 'natural selection' decided they were not worth working to keep alive. But the Forerunner were adamant about keeping them around, and this galaxy has suffered at their hands long enough, thanks to you..."
This brought up a point of importance in the Master Chief's mind. "What would they do to me if they found me now? The Forerunner, I mean."
"... Undoubtedly they would kill you... The Forerunner wanted to sacrifice the population of this galaxy to preserve the rest of their compilation... Why would they spare you for destroying the last remnant of one of their most prized exhibits?..."
"I see. So there is no chance for me, then."
"... Only if they catch you..."
"Ok, I think we're ready to go." the Master Chief said into his headset. He was standing now in the center of the room where he and Cortana had teleported into the Shifty.
"... If you say so... Be forewarned that you may experience discomfort and maybe amnesia from the effects of the teleportation..." it was always the same spiel when Momos was going to teleport them somewhere. "... Thus I am sending your construct with you to remind you of your purpose when you arrive..." For some reason, Cortana was virtually immune to the 'effects' of teleportation. "... And if it so happens that you die from the jump, your construct will take your place and perform the mission for you..." That was always the difficult part. The Master Chief couldn't imagine why he would die from such a jump. Unless his body was teleported in two different pieces there didn't seem to be any reason for such a stated risk.
The bubble appeared in front of his eyes and began to close in around him. He could feel his feet being sucked into the other side of the teleporter, followed by his knees, thighs and groin. His face experienced the tingly feeling as his hands and arms were enveloped as well. Then he blacked out.
"Hello again, my son."
"You again? I thought you had had enough when you beat me the last time." The Master Chief spoke this aloud to the old man with a tinge of apprehension. He remembered still how the old man had beaten him in the game of impossibilities when the Master Chief had first been forced through the teleporter so long ago. The important thing was that the Master Chief realized this now. It couldn't be construed as anything more than a biological reaction.
"It's not a biological reaction."
"We both exist at this moment as spirits in an imperceptible dimension. Your body at the moment is not dead, but simply acting solely on the experience and data in your brain. You have theoretically died, as your conscious being has left your body, but -"
"- Screw this! I'm outta here!"
"- so the control room must be that way." A pointer came up on his HUD. "Unfortunately, there are no banshees to lessen the length of the walk we are about to undertake." Cortana was reading to him a set of stats about where they were.
"Sorry, I tuned out for a second, could you repeat that? Never mind." The Master Chief's brief dream left him a little confused, but he could easily remember what Cortana had said, although he had not been there when she said it. That was a little hard to explain.
It was 25 kilometers to the Control Room of this Halo. The species incarcerated on this ring included semi-sentient fungi, crazy octopus-like creatures that sentiently swam about the oceans, and several varieties of fish that they both ate, among other things. After deactivating the support circuits for the rings' sentinels and Monitor, the Master Chief and Cortana would travel via the established teleportation grid to the incarceration cells to release all of the different 'safe' species (and destroy the more aggressive ones), so that they could begin their self-determined existences again.
"Are you feeling ok Chief?"
"I'm fine. I think I may have temporarily experienced one of those teleportation-related mind-shifts that Momos keeps talking about."
"Interesting. Your brain didn't register any abnormalities except for when you asked what I had said. Do you think we should tell Momos?"
The Master Chief thought about that question for a moment. Was there really a point in reporting something so completely beyond everybody's control and of no real consequence?
"No. I don't think we should tell him yet."
"If you think so."