Effusion - Prologue
Posted By: Tursas<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 16 March 2002, 7:09 am
"I'm picking something up. I think you should hear this Chief."
İİİİİ"All right. Put it on the audio."
İİİİİThe random patterns of static filled the canned air of the Longsword as Cortana programmed the speaker system to read from all channels. The Master Chief let it wash over him, searching for patterns, voice messages, anything that could be deemed important.
İİİİİ"...There was something you wanted me to hear?"
İİİİİThe Master Chief sat back in his pilot chair and waited. The static continued to wash over his ears. Then he caught something very faint.
İİİİİ"They will be very sorry to hear what happened. Yes they will. I'll tell them myself. They'll have to believe me, and they won't like it, but I'll tell them."
İİİİİThe voice wasn't too clear over the rest of the static, but he could hear it - and more importantly, recognized it - all the same.
İİİİİ"Can you isolate the channel?"
İİİİİ"No. Every few milliseconds he changes the frequency. It's almost like he wants someone to hear him."
İİİİİ"What did he say before?"
İİİİİ"It was a distress call to anybody in the area. Don't worry, I didn't reply. I think it would be better if -"
İİİİİ"- And why will they believe me? Because I'm still alive and they're all as good as dead. All gone. Bye, bye."
İİİİİ"Who's he talking about?"
İİİİİ"It must be the Forerunner. Who else could he conceivably want to talk to?"
İİİİİ"Right. I don't think he would want to talk to us after what we did to his Halo."
İİİİİ"- Now what were the coordinates for the hub? At least they had the foresight to keep that from destruction."
İİİİİ"Who the hell is he talking to? I think he must have snapped after the blast."
İİİİİ"You don't think he was already a little on the crazy side when I found him?"
İİİİİ"He found you, if I remember correctly. He's been programmed with too much -"
İİİİİ"- Oh. There it is."
İİİİİ"Where is he?"
İİİİİ"Heading around to the other side of Threshold."
İİİİİ"Can we follow him?
İİİİİ"I think the engines have cooled down enough."
İİİİİCortana re-activated the engines and set their course to follow 343 Guilty Spark around the hugeness of the gas giant Threshold. The inky blackness of space pushed in around them, punctured only by the bright band of the Milky Way Galaxy before them.
İİİİİ"What was he saying about a hub?"
İİİİİ"I didn't have time to tell you until we were heading back to the Pillar of Autumn, and then I forgot. While I was stuck in the Control Room I came across an old contingency program file telling what should be done in case of various events. The last item in the list was a plan for what the monitor and sentinels should do if Halo were destroyed. It detailed how -"
İİİİİ"- I am a genius -"
İİİİİ"- Detailed how the central hub of Halo would fold in on itself and reappear on the other side of Threshold, where the remaining staff - him in this case - would regroup and make the jump to grid coordinate 0057.3489784556.1983458963.4928439862 -"
İİİİİ"Wait a minute. There are four numbers in that sequence. What kind of coordinate system are they using?"
İİİİİ"Does it really matter? What could be so important about the addition of one extra coordinate?"
İİİİİ"Are you telling me they can travel through time?"
İİİİİ"No. The extra number delineates a galaxial coordinate."
İİİİİ"Galaxial coordinate? They can travel between them?"
İİİİİ"Just curious. How many are there?"
İİİİİ"Count them yourself."
İİİİİ"What happened to you? Ever since the Control Room you've been acting funny."
İİİİİ"- Oh. Hello."
İİİİİ"Who's he talking to? If it's us I want you to warm up the weapons."
İİİİİ"There must have been a sentinel that survived."
İİİİİ"Those things couldn't survive a blast like that. They couldn't survive an overcharged plasma shot."
İİİİİ"Hello Guilty Spark. Have you had a nice day?"
İİİİİ"Who the hell -"
İİİİİ"No, if you must ask, hub. I can't for the life of me figure out if anybody else survived the destruction of the ring."
İİİİİ"No survivors here, Guilty Spark. They all turned inside out when I warped. It's unfortunate that their race should be so fleshy, I've been scrubbing for the past ten minutes and still can't get the blood off."
İİİİİ"Very interesting. The files I went over never mentioned a construct on the hub. But it couldn't be anything else. Funny that they should trust a computer like this."
İİİİİ"I'm sorry to hear it, hub. The flood on this former installation have all been dispersed as well."
İİİİİ"How many files did you go over?"
İİİİİ"All of them. He must be bouncing a directed signal off of the hub. I didn't think he would be so annoyed as to make conversation with himself."
İİİİİ"All the flood gone, Guilty Spark? Surely some of them will land on the moon and live long enough to be collected."
İİİİİ"Can he do that?"
İİİİİ"He tricked you into believing you could save everybody. Why not?"
İİİİİ"Not only that, hub, but it was the Reclaimer who destroyed the ring."
İİİİİ"What do those coordinates resolve to that you mentioned earlier?"
İİİİİ"I don't know. When the Forerunner built the rings they put all the location data in code, to prevent anybody who didn't know the solution from gaining access to all of the other locations. It took me hours to crack the coordinate strings. I don't think that even the hub knows where everything is."
İİİİİ"Those pesky Reclaimers. They're never up to much good, are they?"
İİİİİ"Why don't we ask him?"
İİİİİ"Don't play with me, hub. You know the protocol as well as I."
İİİİİ"He's almost there, Chief."
İİİİİ"I said, why don't we ask him?"
İİİİİ"Are you ready to trust ANOTHER one of these psychotics?"
İİİİİ"Can you think of anything better to do?"
İİİİİ"We could head back to Earth. It wouldn't take any more than a few weeks. We might even get there in time to help out."
İİİİİ"Are you laughing at me, Guilty Spark? Do you remember the last time you laughed at me?"
İİİİİ"I don't think it would work out. We never had much of a chance against the Covenant, even on the ground."
İİİİİ"I remember very well, hub."
İİİİİ"Are you saying after all we've been through that you want to forget about Earth altogether? What kind of a soldier are you?"
İİİİİ"Don't make me do it again, Guilty Spark."
İİİİİ"I've been fighting the Covenant longer than you've been in existence. I'm too old and too tired to fight on another world that'll be glassed anyways. And on another, and another..."
İİİİİ"What difference would it make if you did, hub? There is nothing left for me to protect. Nothing left for you to transfer, except for me."
İİİİİ"Have you forgotten who you are? You're the greatest soldier humanity has ever seen. You have come through where billions of others would have perished."
İİİİİ"Achilles would have done better."
İİİİİ"Now that you mention it, I think you're right, Guilty Spark."
İİİİİ"Achilles was a myth, Master Chief."
İİİİİ"So were you, a couple hundred years ago."
İİİİİ"You know I'm always right, hub. If it weren't for me, where would everybody be?"
İİİİİ"Shouldn't your hormonal control systems be preventing this depression?"
İİİİİ"Let me guess..."
İİİİİ"Does it really matter?"
İİİİİ"Yes. You'd normally be jumping up and down to get back to Earth. You'd want to protect humanity to the bitter end."
İİİİİ"I don't think that this is a normal situation."
İİİİİ"... Assimilated by the flood?"
İİİİİ"What does it matter? Nobody will remember you for how you couldn't help allowing everybody on the Pillar of Autumn to be changed by the flood."
İİİİİ"That's perfectly right, hub. If it weren't for me, everybody would be living in containment cells."
İİİİİ"What will I be remembered for?"
İİİİİ"Nobody would be living, Guilty Spark. They would all be flood."
İİİİİ"They would all have died at the hand of the flood."
İİİİİ"That depends on your personal philosophy about death."
İİİİİ"So why don't we go back to Earth and die defending humanity?"
İİİİİ"You're the one who brought us here. You tell me."
İİİİİ"That's right, hub. Everybody would be flood. Until they degenerated, that is."
İİİİİ"What does he mean by that?"
İİİİİ"Flood aren't naturally stable in any form. Their disease is degenerative, like some of the older human maladies. The only reason they existed for millions of years on Halo was because they were held in suspended animation, which they were brought out of by the Covenant. They were originally meant as a weapon - a weapon that gradually died as it ran out of food to consume. Do you remember the bodies they were stockpiling on the Truth and Reconciliation? They did that to prolong their existence. By leaving more food for later, they gave themselves a better chance of surviving longer. He's almost there, Chief!"
İİİİİ"So there's no chance that the flood will spread to other worlds?"
İİİİİ"That's correct, Reclaimer. Why would the Forerunner preserve a weapon so long-living as the flood you have described as to jeopardize their own existence?"
İİİİİThe Master Chief quickly grabbed the helmet lying on one of the Longswords control panels beside him and put it on. It locked into place with the rest of his armor.
İİİİİ"How did he find out about us, Cortana?"
İİİİİ"Cortana? What an interesting name for your construct. She has certainly cut me deeply, Reclaimer. Pity you didn't give her to me earlier; we could have reclaimed the flood with plenty of time to spare."
İİİİİ"How did he find out about us, Cortana?"
İİİİİ"You wanted to talk to them. I simply opened the channel."
İİİİİ"Warm up the weapons, Cortana."
İİİİİ"Why would you do a silly thing like that, Reclaimer? You survived the destruction of the ring because you ran away. I survived because I was built to last."
İİİİİ"This was all one big trap, wasn't it?"
İİİİİ"Why, whatever do you mean, Reclaimer? It was standard procedure for me to fold away from the ring and then gather the attention of the surviving witnesses. Luckily for me, you were the prime motivator for the destruction of this installation, and now you will face the consequences. Hahahahaha!"