Hermes Trismegistus, Epilogue
Posted By: Tursas<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 14 November 2001, 2:03 am
Report to J. Larsen, President of SolCore High Council.
Dated: 1:02pm, 23 July, 2527
Transfer Stamp: Eyes Only
This report is due to reach the remote communications arrays on and in the orbit of Pluto by or before 3:40am on 25 July, 2527, from whence it should be relayed directly to you, via satellite, at the present seat of the Council in Mexico City, North America.
Dear Mr. President,
Sir, we've done it.
In the lurch of the destruction of Reach and the near obliteration of the fleet, we now inform you that we, the crew and ground force contingent aboard the late SCS Pillar of Autumn, did, in accordance with the Cole Protocol, set a random course with the ships resident AI in the hope of drawing away a portion of the Covenant fleet from the final approach of Sol. The course actually followed, upon further analysis before the eradication of the ship, was found to be substantially different from that ordered by the late Captain Ruth M. Pritlow. We believe that the ships AI, Cortana, changed the ordered course under the influence of foreign and as of yet undiscovered information, to, ultimately, the great benefit of the human race.
Upon arrival in the uncharted and supposedly random system, we found to our great surprise that not a piece of, but rather, the complete Covenant invasion force had followed us. Battle commenced forthwith. However, as it had hitherto been standard for the Captain and the crew to operate the ships systems with only redundant assistance from the ships AI during battle, protocol changed in this instance by order of Cortana. Before the first shot could be fired, the computer locked out all manual control of the ship and all emergency systems, assuming full command. When Captain Pritlow discovered this she ordered an immediate shutdown of the ships AI, fearing that it had gone rampant or somehow been turned by the Covenant to follow their bidding.
However, as battle commenced it became clearer that Cortanas only immediate wish was to do as much damage to the Covenant force as possible. The Covenant will not soon forget the day that Cortana twisted their capital ships in knots and destroyed upwards of fifty percent of their present heavy and light fighter forces.
It was during the space battle that Chief Engineer D. Cecil Higgins, under the direction of the Captain, manually deactivated the AI in the ships core, while maintaining the rudimentary systems such as life-support, weapons and navigation. With control of the ship reinstated, Captain Pritlow assumed that she would be able to continue the fight in the same manner as Cortana had directed it. However, without the help of the ships main computer, we believe that the Captain lost track of the huge numbers of ships on the opposing side. SCS Pillar of Autumn began to take substantially more fire than could be supported by the shielding systems, and all too soon the main engines and the ships guns were disabled. The Captain ordered that the crew and ground troop contingent prepare to repel boarders.
It is believed that before being deactivated, Cortana, knowing she would need a place to hide, and knowing the result of reinstating control of the ship to Captain Pritlow, ordered with the stamp of the late Commander Russell Perry, the activation of the single Coriantumr class cyborg on board, and downloaded herself into its redundant cognizance buffers. We assume you know of the arrangement that was decided upon by the late Admiral Green regarding the distribution of the cyborgs among the several capital ships before the devastation at Reach.
To be brief, after the Pillar of Autumns engines went off-line, the Covenant began to blow holes in the hull and send in an expeditionary force. The battles inside the ship lasted for about ten minutes, in which time it became readily apparent to everyone that the ship could not be held. On the Captains command, escape pods and dropships laden with supplies, equipment and men began to disperse from the ship.
It is only now that I mention what it was that our forces began to evacuate to. The system that the Pillar of Autumn jumped into consisted of four main celestial bodies. First, there was the star of the system; a very old yellow star within an estimated 500,000 years of expanding to a red giant. Second, there is within the inhabitable region of the star, a yellow gas giant that the Cortana christened as 'Threshold'. Orbiting Threshold is a blue moon Cortana named as 'Basis'. Neither of these planets have the atmosphere conducive to human survival, though the surface gravity of Basis is about half that of Earth. However, the most interesting part of the system is found in neither of these two bodies. Orbiting at a Lagrange point between Threshold and Basis is an environment comparable to the Chapra space hub orbiting Mars, except on a much, much larger scale. This ring has an approximate diameter of 10,000 kilometers. Unlike the Chapra hub, there is no rigid ceiling to hold the atmosphere in. The effect of the rings' spin holds in the atmosphere and imparts a synthetic gravity about .89 that of Earths. Cortana gave it the name 'Halo' when it was first discovered. It was to this ring that our forces evacuated and it was the Captains order that we organize here and wage a guerrilla campaign against the Covenant; our numbers being not nearly enough to engage them in open conflict. The cyborg reached the habitable surface of the ring intact. Chief Engineer Higgins and Commander Perry were able to escape with several survivors in the emergency command module Nautilus. Captain Pritlow made it to an escape pod and was captured by the Covenant before being rescued by the cyborg.
However, it was not the Covenant against which we spent the entire two weeks of conflict. Highly organized teams of crack troops rivaling the capabilities of our cybernetically enhanced warriors began to attack in force without warning at nearly all of our positions all over the ring. We believe that these crack troops were the response of the creators, or the curators, (nobody is sure which) of the ring to the invasion of their home world. Their attacks were fierce and very nearly extinguished any hope of survival for both human and Covenant ground forces.
As a side note, it should be said that among the weapons of the original inhabitants of the ring were several very lifelike constructs resembling individuals of both the Covenant and human races. During the course of the fighting, there were about a hundred confirmed sightings of assimilated human servicemen and seven confirmed sightings of unidentified human biological bombs. In every instance where one of our men came into unprotected contact with the noted look-alikes, our men would unavoidably die; in the case of the identified reanimated corpses, our men would be slaughtered in pre-planned ambushes; in the case of the unidentified biological bomb, our men would die of sicknesses that one of our doctors remarked stem from viruses resembling common germs from the early 21st century. It is believed that Chief Engineer Higgins and everybody inside the Nautilus died from one of these biological attacks. The remainder of the crew of the Nautilus, including Commander Perry, is believed to have died in an air attack at the hands of the Covenant.
The situation by the end of the first week was very grim. At the end of the first nine days more than 80% of the personnel who had originally landed on the ring were dead, with that number rising quickly. It was only a matter of time until we would all be wiped out, but thanks to Cortana and the cyborg that didn't happen.
At the end of the fighting, before Cortana took off in an unclassified starcruiser to work her independence into reality, she told us how she had outwitted the original inhabitants of Halo. Apparently, whenever any soldier died, the body would be transported covertly to a special underground manufacturing complex where the body of the deceased would be either repaired and reanimated or taken apart and rebuilt molecular chain by chain into one of several models of the crack troops mentioned earlier. These troops would be transported instantaneously by a means of teleportation that we have not previously encountered to a central hub from which they would be dispersed throughout the ring and into space aboard the Covenant warships to attack both the Covenant forces and our men. It was by this stratagem that the inhabitants of Halo planned to subdue all resistance. Fortunately, before their victory could progress to completion, Cortana somehow figured it all out and attacked the hub directly. The battle was very fierce and most of the human attackers did not survive, but somehow they came through. The hub also happened to be the point where the AI directing the assaults of the 'makers' was physically stationed. Thus Cortana wiped out the abilities of the original inhabitants of Halo to pose any further threat.
It should be of interest to you to learn that among the information retrieved from the hub are the galactic locations of both our own and the Covenant home worlds, as well as several others that Cortana stated she was going to visit.
This communication is being sent from the Covenant support ship Tranquility in God. The makers, before defeat, managed to clean to extremity all Covenant personnel from their starships. Thus, we have also come into control of the Covenant war fleet. I should not need to point out the advantages of this development.
Attached is the coded galactic location of Halo: encryption card SC3865Br. We firmly believe that Cortana managed to eradicate the remainder of the Covenant forces on and around Halo, but are not sure whether reinforcements will be dispatched or are enroute.
Thank God we are alive.
Jared B. Holman
Acting Commander SolCore rifles, 8th regiment.
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So that's that.
Probability theory says that if you find enough people who read through every chapter from week to week, some of them are bound to be sitting in front of their computers screaming, "WTF! THAT WAS FAR TOO SHORT!!" Some of them may even go so far as to send hate mail for ending the series so abruptly. The only problem with probability theory in this situation is that only about 30 people have/will actually read this document, and even fewer have read the series all the way through from start to finish. (30 is a completely random value, of course, because Louis didn't tell me exactly how many people have been reading it.) Of course, then there are those who are really annoyed by this series, and only read it because they wanted to make sure there weren't too many swears in it. I have to side with the second group because way back in June I didn't take the time to consider how much it would take to keep the story going. I'm also disappointed with the level of my writing in many places.
Some may wonder what happened to Bob. Personally, I could care less. Bob was a killing machine who himself destroyed many people and their lives in the name of the state. He may be a hero, he may be considered a god, but believe me when I say that you don't want to choose him as a roll model (if you're looking for one.)
That brings us to the name. Why on Earth would I choose to call the story 'Hermes Trismegistus'? The answer lies in the compound structure of the two words:
Hermes - a variation on the word herpes. Like the disease, this story would just not go away.
Tri - Tristar, Triangle, Triad, Trickle. All good words begin with 'tri'.
smeg - the Red Dwarf fan in all of us should be able to explain this.
is tus - the story belongs to the world now. It's yours. But you gotta tell me if you're going to reproduce it.
To tell you the truth, though, there is a little more meaning to the name than that. Hermes Trismegistus was one of the names of the old world god known by such names as Mercury and Thoth. He is associated with Wednesday (like Thursday was named for Thor.) In the form of Thoth, he acted as an arbiter among the gods, as Hermes he acted as a messenger of the gods. As Thoth, he had his left eye torn out by Seth, the venerable dark lord. The name Trismegistus means thrice greatest (born three times in the case of this piece of fan fiction). Hermes led the souls of the dead to Hades. The English occultist Francis Barrett in Biographia Antiqua wrote that Hermes "communicated the sum of the Abyss, and divine knowledge to all posterity." There's probably other stuff out there.
So in closing, I would like to thank:
Iain M. Banks,
the late Douglas Adams,
ABBA remix CD's,
Heckler & Koch, GmbH. (I hope I don't get sued),
Ambrosia Software (I'm still waiting for EV3),
All those religion classes I took, for giving me something to write about when I ran out of ideas (which was fairly quickly),
and all yer mothers...
...but not in that order.
As a final post-note, I would like to say, at long last, that all connections, real or implied, between this story and anybody reading it, or between it and entertaining media to be released shortly (you know who you are) are completely coincidental. Either that, or certain persons really do have access to a mind control ray.
Have a Happy Launch Day, Everybody.