1120: A New Covenant – Chapter OnePosted: July 26, 2015
Hello, and welcome back, my dear, dear patrons… *giggles maniacally*
Sorry, I don’t know how that slipped out.
Anyway, we’re back with another Half-Jaw Halo ‘fic, so if you’re unfamiliar with the franchise I will helpfully direct you to the beginning section of my previous Halo riff– since all of Half-Jaw’s ‘fics seem to focus on the Sangheili rebellion during the end of the Human-Covenant War, there’s little material in this one that wasn’t in the last.
That said, since A New Covenant is a bit less than a one-shot and more of an actual “story” (albeit with heavy quotation marks!), I’m going to need a little bit of help.
*An older turian male bamfs into RIFFCOM, almost aggressively forgettable save for the high-quality medical prosthetic that has replaced most of his right-side cranial plating.*
I’d like you all to meet Commissar Gul Palavenus Rillek- industrialist, vigilante, political manipulator, spymaster, propagandist, and occasional literary critic.
“You forgot to include ‘war hero’ in that lineup.”
Fine- industrialist, vigilante, political manipulator, spymaster, propagandist, draft-dodging bullshit artist and occasional literary critic.
Gul comes from the work-in-progress ‘fic Palaven’s Dogs, in the Renegade Reinterpretations AU. Since PD deals heavily with human-turian relations after a very bloody Contact War, I thought he’d be useful to have around when we got to the similar alliance between the UNSC and the Sangheili.
“Bah. You just wanted someone with actual combat experience here in case the DRD come back.”
You don’t have any combat experience, you idiot!
“I bet I’ve assassinated more people than you have…”
Anyway, MOVING ON, most of Half-Jaw’s ‘fic library proved to be more or less like The True Meaning of Christmas, excluding A Day In The Life Of A Spec Oop Sangheili[sic] which is literally just some Elite warrior’s daily schedule.
However, one ‘fic in particular just jumped out at me, and later on you’ll see why. Ladies and gentlebeings, I present to you Chapter 1 of A New Covenant.
“This is going to hurt.”
Disclaimer: I do not own any characters from Halo they are Microsoft and Bungie’s. The only thing I own is what I add to the Halo Universe and the characters I add.
So, you own the things you add and… the other things you add.
Ack! Here they come! Gul, I’m gonna need some of that turian military genius right about now…
“Gentlemen? I’m willing to negotiate my freedom in exchange for the doughy human in the cargo pants.”
*Several DRD assault teams are wiped out by the autoturrets launched at supersonic velocity from their deployment ports.*
“I just wish there was a way to use these that didn’t require us to manually reload them after each incursion.”
I don’t know, the engineers are really busy as is…
The rating for this story is PG got violence and language.
Although oddly, while characters do curse occasionally, “violence” is almost completely nonexistent in the actual story.
A New Covenant
Chapter 1 The Alliance
Ninth Age of Reclaimation / October 2552
Well, at least he got the date right… on the Human and Covenant calendars, no less!
“Although I suppose it would have been to much to ask to get the spelling right as well…”
That puts us at the Battle Of Delta Halo and/or Battle Of High Charity (they kind of mushed into each other), when the Elites were first expelled from the Covenant by the Brute Chieftain Tartarus and forced to ally with the humans. Oh yeah, and there was also that little bit about stopping the Delta Halo megastructure itself from firing and eliminating all intelligent life in the local galactic neighborhood. Just another day in the UNSC Marine Corps, basically.
Not long after the Arbiter killed Tartarus, Commander Keyes is on a platform revolving around the central structure of the control room.
Holy tense shifts, Batman!
“Don’t call me that.”
“Because Bruce Wayne had absolutely no ambition. I’ve already done so much more as a vigilante… and I had to earn every credit of my vast fortune the old-fashioned way- exploiting batarian convict labor!”
Wasn’t RHI originally your mother’s company?
She skillfully jumps from platform to platform. She quickly takes the Index from the pillar of light, which immediately disappears. At once the room begins to shake, and the Commander looks skyward holding the Index to her chest in fear.
Oh goody, plot regurgitation!
Outside, energy is building between the spires at the top of the control room. The ground rumbles as the energy is launched skyward in a forceful blue comet. The Brutes nearby witness this spectacle drop to their knees praying The Great Journey is here.
“Looks like we’re in for more of the usual grammar, too.”
*Unloads a shotgun filled with commas into the ‘fic*
“My, those things do have a bit of a kick… Not that I didn’t know that beforehand, of course.”
Nah, it only really kicks when it’s loaded with semicolons.
I’m just… not as young as I used to be, that’s all!.”
However, the Sangheili hope and pray it’s not too late to stop the great weapon. In space, the blue energy moves toward the center and meets with the energy already there. The entire mass implodes upon itself, and then explodes outward, creating a fantastic light show, but causing no harm to the ring.
Who cares about the stupid ring? That’s the one place in the galaxy that wouldn’t be sterilized if Halo fired!
The Sangheili cry out with glee,” Wort! Wort! Wort!”
I feel I should mention that yes, this is actually a thing.
And then, basically, we get slightly less grammatical version of this…
… except instead of cutting out early we get to see 343 Guilty Spark identify the Ark’s canonical presumed location on Earth (it’s not actually there, but the portal leading to it is).
We’re even told by Sergeant Johnson that “the third planet in the Sol system” is in fact Earth, in case we’re all idiots who thought he was talking about Neptune or something.
The Arbiter looks at his Sangheili brothers and says with urgency in his voice, “Brothers we must get to a cruiser. That must be where Truth is heading. By the Rings we shall bring Truth and his blinded army to defeat. We shall be victorious. Make haste our Great Journey has begun.”
Johnson, looking for a cigar, says with a hint of contempt in his voice, “Now listen here split lip. Earth is our home. If anyone is going to save her and stop this Ark it will be us Humans.”
Ok, aside from the second-grade sentence structure this almost sounds like something the actual Johnson would be saying right about now.
“For that matter, he just spent a good amount of time as a prisoner of Brutes. I’d be more than willing to forgive his decline in form as the result of head injuries or simple dehydration.”
The Arbiter feeling insulted and a little hurt turns to Sergeant Johnson
Better give it the other barrel, Gul.
and says, “No need for the insults. We helped each other here, on Halo. Why can’t we help one another on Earth? Both our numbers must be shrinking. The Brutes are trying to exterminate my race.”
Johnson sarcastically interrupts, “You mean like you were doing to the human race.”
“Good show, man!”
Yeah, Sarge is in fine form today!
The Arbiter thinks back to the long years of the war. Remembers all the death and suffering the Sangheili have caused to the Humans. With a heavy heart the silver armored Sangheili finally says, “Yes. But at the time we were following the false prophets. We were following orders. Like any warrior with a hint of honor would, like you would if you were in our position.
Did… did the Arbiter seriously just try to employ the fucking Nuremberg Defense to escape responsibility for the War?!
“No, no, no, that is not something you do. It took my media team literally decades to get the humans and quarians off of our humps for the Diaspora and the Second Contact War- both of which, I must remind you all, were a generation removed and didn’t involve attempted genocide. And it required, over and over again, admitting how much we’d shamed ourselves by following the Council’s orders. It wasn’t something anyone could find honor in, and it wasn’t done overnight.”
Also, I’d like to reiterate that the Sangheili were the only Covenant species to get a seat on the High Council. They were the ones deciding how the war would be conducted, and running oversight on the Prophet Hierarchs’ expansion of power! And yet they get off Scot-free, while the other Covenant species, who legitimately had no say in the matter and were often abused by their “betters” in the caste system, are still on the table for indiscriminate murderizing. Egad!
But, now our eyes are open, we are not blinded by the propaganda needed for a needless war. I’ll make you an oath. On my honor, my races honor, we shall never harm another Human again. We shall shed our blood beside you. Defending your home world. Now and for generations to come.”
we shall never harm another Human again.
Whoa. That is an incredibly sweeping, hasty, and utterly boneheaded pronouncement. It’s unenforceable, given without any sort of consideration whatsoever, and entirely capable of hamstringing their species legally, diplomatically, and militarily “for generations to come”.
“So, still perfectly in character for the Sangheili.”
All the other Sangheili roared in agreement. Johnson looks at Commander Keyes and with uncertainty says, “Can we trust them?”
“No, because they are clearly insane.”
Before Commander Keyes could answer a white armored Sangheili came to the Arbiter’s defense and the defense of his race
Oh, hello again, Rtas. Will you be punctuated correctly this time?
and says, “We are a race built on honor. Honor to us is very important. You take away our honor then you make us no better than a filthy Brute.”
And you’re still talking like this is a Covenant First Readers Book.
The Arbiter places a hand on the shoulder of the Sangheili. The Arbiter continues his speech as if never interrupted, “For a long time there were Sangheili who thought the war was uncalled for.
No there weren’t. Well, there were some, but purely on the fringes of your society.
That your race had more that once proven yourselves battle worthy.
“Which, considering what happened to the last race the Sangheili thought were “worthy opponents”, would have resulted in humans being pushed down onto the bottom of the Covenant caste system and enslaved instead of wiped out utterly.”
I was one of them. But then I would have been killed for heresy and my family labeled heretics for me even speaking those words. Now things have changed. We are no longer part of the Covenant and don’t follow their laws. It would be an honor to fight by your side.”
Johnson, grinning as he lights his cigar, says, “The feelings are mutual. Besides, my people were getting tired of getting our asses dusted by you.
What??? Come on, Sarge, don’t just roll over and show ’em your belly like that…
I’ll see to it no Elite is harmed by a Human.”
“since, as solitary Marine NCO entirely cut off from any outside communications on an alien installation with maybe four actual surviving men under my command, I can of course make far-reaching and definitive statements on behalf of the entire labyrinthine technocracy that makes up the UNSC government.”
The Arbiter looks at Johnson and corrects, “Sangheili. We are called Sangheili”
Johnson looking dumbfounded says, “Hell man, I can’t even pronounce that.
“And the genuine Sergeant Johnson returns once again!”
My people called you Elites because you were super achievers, the best at what you do.”
“… or not.”
The Arbiter looks around the room at his brothers seeing them swell with pride at the statement this dark skinned human made.
Are you sure that’s pride and not just the early stages of Flood infection?
Not to mention feeling the same pride himself, says, “I speak for all of us when I say, you may call us Elites. I must know one thing though. Why do you let your females fight?”
You have your first chance to converse civilly with members of an alien civilization after thirty years of brutal, nonstop warfare… and this is what you ask?!”
Commander Keyes, looks at the silver armored Elite, feeling insulted, says, “I’ll have you know, I’m a high ranking Commander in the UNSC. And I don’t like being talked about as if I were inferior.”
Well, the sentiment is in the right place, but I would have imagined Miranda’s reply being something more along the lines of “This is why. (*blam* *blam* *blam*)”.
That, and commas, are not, a general purpose, sentence glue.
The Arbiter looked questioningly trying to understand why she was angry.
*RIFFCON is struck by a sudden, overpowering sense of deja vu as all the characters transition from currently doing things to having just done them.*
I fucking hate tense shifts.
A Zealot, named Pharr Eojadee, steps forward, looks at the Humans and adds, “I come in defense of our beloved Arbiter and our race. In our culture a female doesn’t fight. She knows all our weapons and how to use them. But only for her protection and the protection of her fledgling. A female is regarded with the highest of honor. They are priestesses of our faith. Some become High Council members. All have a high place in our society.”
“Ok, putting aside the fact that making Sangheili females priestesses of the Covenant religion means that with the change of governments many of them will probably end up killed in brutal and creatively painful ways, and that ascent to the High Council seems to be through military service so these hypothetical female Councilors would have to be promoted in some other way…”
… this is actually pretty close to the Sangheili’s “separate but equal” idea of sex roles in canon, in particular the fact that females train with weapons right alongside the guys, only to stay at home and sit around all day tending their kids. However, while it might just be the events later on in the ‘fic coloring my perception, it seems like their backwards, feudal culture is actually being portrayed as a good thing here.
The Arbiter raises his mandibles in what would be equal to a smile and says, “See why I asked?”
“… Not really, no.”
I’m pretty lost over here, too.
Commander Keyes looks at the three males standing in front of her, feeling as if she had just received a lecture from her father.
WHY??? Captain Keyes was always shown to be incredibly supportive of his daughter’s decision to follow in his footsteps.
Then says, “In our society male and female are equal.”
Wellllllll…….. while what we see of the UNSC demonstrates no legal restriction on female participation in… anything, really, depending on the area the actual sex ratios of soldiers vary wildly from 15-85 to 50-50. So I’d say that while they’ve come miles from us in terms of whipping sexism, it’s not quite dead.
“True, but the good Commander is representing herself to an alien audience, so I can’t blame her for putting the UNSC’s ideals over its implementation. It’s what I would do in her place, at least.”
Just then and not a moment too soon, the Arbiter’s radio crackled, “You still alive Arbiter?”, on the other end was the voice of R’tas Vadumee, the Spec Ops Supreme Commander and one of the Arbiter’s closest friends.
Wait a second, if Rtas (still no apostrophe!) is up on the ship, then who’s this random silver-armored douche wandering around the control room?
“The galaxy will never know.”
The Arbiter answers, “Yes,” then quickly adds, “Did you get control of the cruiser you were after?”
R’tas answers in a tone that is all business, “Yes and in the process freed a group of Sangheili warriors that were being held captive. One being our beloved nephew, N’tas.”
Oh, goodie gumdrops, an incoming OC!
The Arbiter thinks of how glad he was to hear that a member of his family is still alive. He also hopes his sister and her mate made it off High Charity when the Brutes betrayed them.
“Considering that Sangheili are raised in communal creches (a fact mentioned in the exact same book as their insistence that females guard the homestead, mind you!) and forbidden from learning the identities of their biological fathers, it’s highly unlikely that he knows who his sister is.
And considering what happened to High Charity, I’m sure they’re both perfectly fine and being forcibly absorbed into a tortured gestalt consciousness as we speak.”
Then we get an extremely boring passage about whose “warriors” will go with whose “warriors” where, the Arbiter makes a rather non-rousing speech that seems to include the Grunts and Hunters in the rebellion despite them quickly being forgotten, and then this happens:
The Monitor, seemingly forgotten by everyone, floats in front of the Arbiter and Commander Keyes. He looks at both of them and says, “This is indeed wonderful. Things are becoming as they once were. I’m so happy to see The Brothers coming together again.”
Both the Humans and the Sangheili look at the Monitor in shock. The Arbiter takes a step forward his boots making a clanging sound on the stone floor.
It should be noted that in-game, the Arbiter’s walk sound on Forerunner stonecrete is more of a muffled “clop clop clop”. The little details matter.
Breaking the silence he says, “Oracle, could you enlighten us in what you mean?”
*COLLISION ALERT* *COLLISION ALERT*
Text wall, dead ahead!
The Monitor says, “I’d be happy to.” Both races gather around the Monitor as he begins his story, “The Forerunner were not a race. But a collection of races made up similar to the Covenant. It was made by the two brother races. The Homo-Reptilian and the Homo-Sapiens. If the two of you, the Monitor looks at the two races Sangheili and Human then continues, “were to check your DNA it would show that you were almost the same the only difference in the two is the small amount of Reptilian DNA. The brother races the Sangheili and the Reclaimers were a peaceful people. The Sangheili were a military people the strong hold of the Forerunner society much like you are today. However, the Reclaimers were knowledge searchers and technology creators. The weapons that the Sangheili used then and the Covenant use today were all created by the Reclaimers. All the other five races that made up the Forerunner were put together by the two brother races. Sangheili. This will explain why you were able to find the other races,” everyone was silent. The Sangheili and the Humans just looked at one another, the Monitor continues, “The Grunts and Hunters also made up the seven races. By mere instinct was why they sided with you when the Covenant betrayed you. I’m so excited the reign of the Forerunner is returning.”
Let’s just take this one a little bit at a time:
The Monitor says, “I’d be happy to.” Both races gather around the Monitor as he begins his story, “The Forerunner were not a race. But a collection of races made up similar to the Covenant. It was made by the two brother races. The Homo-Reptilian and the Homo-Sapiens.
Ok… yeah, it’s always been implied (until Halo 4 completely screwed it up, anyway) that humans were direct biological descendants of the Forerunners. However, including the Elites in that history opens up a lot of odd questions, including why certain high-level Forerunner artifacts (such as the Halo rings themselves) will respond automatically to human users but not to their supposed co-creators.
“That, and it elevates the Sangheili to a level of ‘specialness’ above all of the other Covenant races and implies a direct connection to the humans. A bit… Suvian, if I may characterize it that way.”
Also, “Homo Reptilian”? Really??
If the two of you, the Monitor looks at the two races Sangheili and Human then continues, “were to check your DNA it would show that you were almost the same the only difference in the two is the small amount of Reptilian DNA.
*whap* *whap* *whap*
Tenth-grade biology, Half-Jaw. Learn it.
Ok, just going off the top of my head, there’s no such thing as a universal “reptilian DNA”, it makes no sense for alien species that even in the Forerunner era evolved on completely separate planets to have similar DNA, and you’re also asking us to believe that in the thirty years the humans have been studying Covenant technology and biology in the search for any sort of advantage that could help win the war, nobody thought to sequence the Sangheili genome and discover that it was 90-odd-percent human?
The brother races the Sangheili and the Reclaimers were a peaceful people. The Sangheili were a military people the strong hold of the Forerunner society much like you are today.
Ok, first off, why do humans get to be referred to as Reclaimers but not their “brothers”? If they were both originally Forerunners, that would make their descendants all Reclaimers.
“That, and it took the Monitor all of two sentences to contradict himself about the nature of Forerunner-Sangheili society- were they peaceful, or militaristic?”
However, the Reclaimers were knowledge searchers and technology creators. The weapons that the Sangheili used then and the Covenant use today were all created by the Reclaimers. All the other five races that made up the Forerunner were put together by the two brother races. Sangheili. This will explain why you were able to find the other races,” everyone was silent. The Sangheili and the Humans just looked at one another, the Monitor continues, “The Grunts and Hunters also made up the seven races.
HJ, you do realize that you just made the Forerunners into an exact structural duplicate of the Covenant, just with the humans in place of the San’shyuum?
“Although I for one think it makes sense for the Covenant to be structured similarly to the Forerunners, considering the Covenant’s tendency to ape other, more material aspects of Forerunner society in canon. But not like this, of course.”
By mere instinct was why they sided with you when the Covenant betrayed you. I’m so excited the reign of the Forerunner is returning.”
I am… just completely unable to make heads or tails of that first sentence.
“Let’s just leave it there and move on. It’s not like it will ever mean anything…”
The Arbiter was the first to break the silence, “You mean we are the descendents of the Forerunner? I thought they were destroyed when Halo fired.”
The Monitor replied, “No you are the Forerunner. Yes the Forerunner society was destroyed. But on each of the seven home worlds the seed of each of your races was left.”
So, it’s basically the canonical history of the Forerunners, just with the Sangheili rudely jammed into it like a Flood infection form.
“Were there any other races of the Covenant in the Forerunner?” asked Commander Keyes still trying to comprehend all this.
‘No,” replied 343 Guilty Spark, “But the long time enemies of the Forerunner the Prophets and the Brutes were the ones to create the Flood. They took their DNA and spliced it with the Brothers’ DNA. Resulting in their weapon.”
Ok… so if the San’shyuum and Jiralhanae were actually the enemies of the Forerunners and creators of the Flood, how did they manage to survive the firing of the Rings?
Commander Keyes says, “That would explain why they can so easily infect us.”
343 Guilty Spark replies with a sense of urgency, “Yes. It also explains why you must get to the Ark before your natural enemy.”
The Arbiter gives a curse in his native tongue, turns to the Sangheili and angrily says, “That explains everything.
“No it doesn’t. It raises an entire host of questions and answers none at all!”
The treacherous Prophets used us all. They tried to enslave our races. They tried to have us exterminate our natural brothers. Damn them! They must have known all along.
“Well if they did in fact know this, then why in the Great Limestone Desert did they decide to worship the Forerunners as gods?!”
No wonder they were in such a hurry to have the filthy Brutes. Damn the Prophets and Brutes.”
Pharr walks up to the Arbiter and says, “Arbiter, what shall we call our New Covenant?”
The Arbiter looks at Johnson and Keyes trying to think of a name that would fit what they would be representing.
“I don’t know, considering that you now have the support of roughly half of the original Covenant species, “New Covenant” doesn’t seem so terrible of a choice in and of itself.”
Commander Keyes looks up a light clicking inside her head
Painful metaphor is painful.
and says, “How about we go back to our original name? How about we call the alliance what it was always known as The Forerunner?
“How about no? Not in the least because, before that one strange bit in Cryptum, we all sort of assumed that the Forerunners did not, in fact, call themselves Forerunners, seeing as at the time they were alive they weren’t ‘forerunning’ anything at all.”
The Arbiter joyfully says, “It always brings a blessing and luck for a female to name something. Since we need both now. We shall go with what the female says. The New Covenant shall be called The Forerunner.”
“Fair enough, I suppose. It’s still a terrible name, but the Covenant species do seem to have a history of naming things terribly.”
The Sangheili all gave a roar of approval and cheer, the Humans even joined in. R’tas hearing all this from outside couldn’t help but give a roar himself then says over his comlink, “If the party can wait for the rest of us, I’ve landed a Phantom outside. That is if you still need a lift.”
“No, I was thinking we’d just leave the ring by quickly flapping our arms, and then hold our breath once we got out of the atmosphere.”
You really don’t want to know how they planned to transition to Slipspace.
The Arbiter clicks his mandibles in what would be equal to a Sangheili laugh. Then says, “Come, my brothers and my new allies. Onward to glorious battle. Death to the Covenant and all who blindly follow them! May nothing stand in our way.”
Blah blah purple Sangheili speechifying blah.
With that the Humans and Sangheili proceeded to make their way out of the control room. Commander Keyes radios the remaining humans. Telling them about the alliance and their way off this ring. She gives them the location of the alien drop ship and tells them not to fire their weapons on any Elite. The Arbiter does the same for the Sangheili that are stranded on the ring.
Ok, I’ll freely admit that this isn’t very good, but parts of it actually manage to make it up to “Okay”. Sometimes people are even mostly in character!
It will get worse.
To Be Continued…..