1143: A New Covenant – Chapter FivePosted: August 16, 2015
Greetings and hello, my fine patrons! Once again, we plumb the depths of A New Covenant, a ‘fic where humans and Elites put aside their differences to work towards the common goal of sitting around and doing absolutely nothing.
Previously, we got to watch yet more pointless logistical dithering as the Sangheili retrofitted Cairo Station with a number of technologically dubious additions, a bunch of people’s characterization got erased, the Arbiter got replaced with a Pod Sangheili, and the lamest Covenant fleet in the history of the universe got its collective ass handed to it by somebody else’s OCs.
“Fortunately and unfortunately, after this chapter the narrative starts to move away from simply being dull, and starts to head in some rather… unusual directions. You might be glad that after this chapter, this will be the end of the extremely boring section. You are mistaken.”
“Chapter 5 is called ‘The Two Missions’, and opens with the ISO 2413(Revised) Standard Half-Jaw Disclaimer.”
Fortunately, this time we are given a location stamp of “Sol System Earth” which, while terribly phrased, is at least correct. Oh, and you guessed it, “Reclamation” is still misspelled.
Everyone was in the hanger bay making preparations for the simultaneous missions.
“Leaving no personnel on the command bridge to manage the station’s orbit. It drifted into the atmosphere and burned to slag. The end.”
Commander R’tas looked at Simyaldee and said, “Are the Mirratord warriors ready for the assassination of the Prophet of Truth? With his death the Covenant will be in disarray.”
The Covenant would already be in disarray if you idiots had let the Chief kill him instead of attending a stating-the-obvious meeting!
Simyaldee replied as he checks his weapons, “Yes, Leader, they are ready. The one you chose to lead the team is a very competent warrior. As for my team, we are ready for what awaits us at the Ark. Do you think we will run into any pockets of Covenant in Carson City?”
Commander R’tas replies in a solemn tone, “I’m not going to say we won’t but it doesn’t hurt to be prepared.”
And if we do find any Covenant, they’ll probably just explode randomly without us doing any work again.
The Sangheili and the Humans continued to make last minute preparations on the ships and weapons when the Arbiter and the Master Chief walked onto the hanger bay. Both seemed deep in conversation about the up coming mission. The Arbiter turns and walks up to Commander R’tas who is still discussing plans with Simyaldee. The Arbiter looks at Commander and says, “Pardon me, Brother. But the departure time is about half a unit. We need to get everyone into their drop ships.”
Commander R’tas said loudly, “Listen up everyone. The time has come to board the drop ships. We will be departing for our respected missions in a half unit, that’s thirty minutes in Human time.
One “unit” is equal to one hour??
Not only does that mean that the Marines will be sitting in their dropships for 30 minutes before mission go, which seems kind of long to me… but in chapter 2 they were worried about a Flood army that was still 15 hours away from two Phantoms’ worth of guys!
Make sure you get all your weapons you will need and enough extra ammunition and power cells. To victory.”
“In other words, we know that all of you are hideously incompetent excuses for soldiers, but this time please try not to utterly cock up…”
The five Pelicans and five Phantom drop ships departed the Cairo. Each carrying personnel and vehicles that will be used for the two missions.
“Oh, good, I was worried they’d bring along a pile of supplies they had absolutely no intention of using, and/or steal equipment already reserved for another mission entirely!”
Each team going to the opposite ends of the Earth.
I checked. Mombasa and Carson City are not directly opposite each other relative to the Earth’s center. So much for that theory, then.
One team made up of two Pelicans and two Phantoms are going to stop a great weapon. The other to stop an enemy. Both missions will stop the destruction of the universe.
Ummm, no. The Halo Array can “only” sterilize this galaxy. That’s certainly bad, but it won’t destroy the universe.
And the second mission… well, now that Truth is completely separated from the Ark, relieved of his massive planet-glassing fleet, and apparently not particularly plugged into current events in general, I don’t think he’s in much danger of accomplishing anything any time soon.
The Arbiter gets on his com link and says to Commander Keyes, “Commander, our teams are ready. The Monitor is to show us the way to the Ark. Keep your eyes open.”
Commander Keyes replies, “Yes, Arbiter, you do the same. Our landing zones are one click apart.
It’s spelled with a ‘k’.”
You stay in the area where you land. Our team will come to you. Stay hid in the trees. If you see any Covenant let them have it.”
Sergeant Johnson getting into the conversation says, “Arbiter, if you see any Elites let them know Humanity is on their side.”
The Arbiter replied, “Will do. If your ground forces don’t know about our alliance, now would be a good time to inform them.”
“… … …
And you’ve seriously waited until now to tell your troops to stop shooting each other?”
The navigations officer, a red major, named Cjad Larkee, got on the com and said, “Mombassa team, there is a storm that is going to hit near the city. It will mask your approach. Land in the wooded area outside the city. It will give you some added cover. Good luck. Ark team out.”
Ok, this is another one of those moments where I just have to stand back and ask “whaaaaaaat?”.
The first Arbiter mission in Halo 2 involved infiltrating a mining platform sunk into the atmosphere of a gas giant. There, a large Jupiter-style storm system is about to hit the platform, contributing to its destruction in the end of the mission and explaining why the heretics on it did not see you coming. I have no idea what a similar setup is doing on Earth, or for that matter why the Ark team can apparently see it but the assassination team can’t despite being closer. All I can conclude is that Half-Wit’s writing is so unoriginal that, if not within reach of other people’s OCs to rip off and blandify, he will just grab and re-purpose concepts directly from the games he is supposed to be writing AUs for.
Commander R’tas pacing back and forth with his hands behind his back, started the speech he gives his troops at the start of every mission, “When we joined the Covenant we took an oath.”
The group of Sangheili looked at Commander R’tas as if he just lost his mind then shouted, “According to our station! All without exception!”
Commander R’tas continues, “On the blood of our fathers, on the blood of our sons, we swore to uphold the Covenant.”
The Sangheili even the Arbiter are wondering where he is going with this shouts, “Even to our dying breath!”
Commander R’tas looks straight at the troops and with a look of bloodlust in his green eyes calmly states, “The Covenant betrayed us all. They have shed our Brother’s blood and caused us to shed our Brother Race’s blood.”
The troops responded by shouting, “And for that they must DIE!”
Why, why, why oh whyyyyyyyyy are we rehashing the first Arbiter mission line for line? Literally the only things changed here are the “charges”, from heresy to… whatever this Brother Race thing is.
Commander R’tas continues as the group of Sangheili work themselves into a cheering frenzy, “We are the Forerunner. We shall overcome any obstacle. We shall be victorious. Death to the Covenant!”
The whole group Sangheili gave a war cry, “Wort! Wort! Wort!”
“And that’s it. These characters are all so bland, they have achieved hive-mind synthesis and become a group Sangheili!.”
The team going after Truth landed in a wooded area outside New Mombassa.
Despite the outskirts of the place being almost entirely savannah.
They proceeded toward the ancient Forerunner ship that Truth came in. the group came upon a squad of Sangheili trying to hold off a band of Brutes.
“Supported, I’m sure, by a gang of Grunts and a division of Drones against a force of Flood.”
The leader of the Mirratord came up to a gold Zealot and said, “Don’t fire upon the Humans. They are our allies now.”
“Shit, man, now you’re making me feel guilty about that field hospital we just razed.”
The Zealot named, Klein Darsadee, looked at the Mirratord leader and the band of troops behind him and said, “As you wish. I’m just glad to have reinforcements. Our numbers have been dwindling since the ship that had once been on our Holy City arrived. The Brutes have betrayed us brother.”
The Mirratord leader replied calmly, “I know Brother. The Prophets also betrayed us.
There is much you do not know. And we don’t have time for me to explain it. But when we are through here I will take you to someone who can.”
The team joined the Sangheili squad already there in the fight.
Wait, so this entire infodump was occurring in an active firefight?!
The Brute’s numbers started shrinking with all the plasma fire and bullets. Soon the pocket of Covenant were no more. They all started making their way to the ship.
Truth, still on board the ancient Forerunner ship, was watching all this from his view screen. He turns to the Brute captain there and says, “Get your men back in the ship. We are going to have to abort the mission.”
I think that firefight was so bland, the Prophet of Truth himself just got bored and left.”
The brute captain replied, “Yes, noble hierarch. ”
The group of Humans and Sangheili watched as the Ancient Forerunner ship lifted off. The Sangheili gave a roar of disgust. The Mirratord leader got on his com link and said, “Commander R’tas, our mission is a failure. Truth knew we were coming. The scum went running. When we get back to the Cairo I’ll turn myself over for punishment.”
“Well, that ended quickly. I suppose it helps that Truth didn’t really seem to have anything to do in New Mombasa anyway.”
Commander R’tas replied, “Punishment is not necessary.
“Yes it is. But not for you. For the author.”
You will have another chance. He will be back. Now escort the Humans back to the Cairo then I have a mission for your squad. Find the ones we once called Heretics. Tell them what is going on. Get their assistance. Bring them here. But tell them not to harm the Arbiter.”
The Mirratord leader replied, “Yes, excellency.”
Sounds like an easy mission… except for the part where the Arbiter killed all the Heretics in that gas mine mission I mentioned before!
The squads left Earth and went back to the Cairo. The Mirratord squad went to dock with a cloak enabled Frigate and made preparations to go to Threshold, the last location of the Heretics.
Commander R’tas radioed the Cairo to let them know of Truth’s escape, but the ancient ship went to slip space as soon as it left Earth’s atmosphere.
“And if the two of you hadn’t spent so much time gibbering, you might have been able to send a frigate or three to intercept it!”
Also not sure why Truth doesn’t just jump inside Earth’s atmosphere, as Covenant and Forerunner engines are known to be able to do that and the shockwave would have very effectively covered his escape, but I guess the Covenant is trying to be more environmentally friendly now?
Truth was headed for High Charity. But when he got there he discovered both the ring and his city were gone.
“Not destroyed or orverrun by Flood as they were in canon, mind you, but simply gone.”
Truth screamed, “Damn the Sangheili! Their incompetent race has stalled our Great Journey. Set a slip space course for Tallus. I must speak with the Prophet High Council.”
There’s no such planet in Halo, and the Prophet High Council is dead.
The trip through slip space was uneventful.
Much like this ‘fic.
Truth had his ship land near enough to the High Council chambers that he had to make little effort to get there. Once inside the atmosphere was tense. Truth looked at the Prophet High Council. Finally one of the council members spoke. It was a councilor not much older than Truth, named the Prophet of Fear,
The. Prophet. Of. FEAR.
How the hell did he ever get on the High Council with a name like that?
“I didn’t think I’d see you so soon. Why have you come?”
‘I’ll tell you why,” said a much older Prophet named Grace, “He allowed the Brother Races to get back together.”
Truth who normally knew what to say was suddenly speechless. Grace continues, “Tell me Truth. How did you loose control of the Sangheili? We fought for so long to get them to destroy the Humans. They were never to leave the Covenant but you cut them loose.”
“Why are you asking him this? The High Council is SUBSERVIENT to the Hierarchs, not the other way around.”
Truth said nervously, “A hierarch was murdered. The Sangheili could not keep us safe.”
Fear said angrily, “They weren’t suppose to keep you safe. That is what the Brutes were secretly doing. You were to keep the Sangheili blind. If that meant feeding their egos then so be it.”
“And this little ‘conspiracy’ of the Prophets’ is just… unimaginably stupid.”
Grace added, “Ages of planning has went down the drain because of your hatred of the Forerunner. Now we are going to have to destroy both races instead of just Humanity.”
Ages of planning has went down the drain, Gul. Ages of planning has went down the drain.
“I know. Such a pity.”
Fear looked at Truth in disgust then added, “You will go back. Humanity must be destroyed.”
Truth said as he lowered his head, “But my city has been destroyed.”
*whap* “It wasn’t ‘your’ city, it was the Covenant’s. And people say I have issues with entitlement.”
Grace said angrily, “So that is why you came here with your tail between your legs? We will give you another city.
Because apparently the High Council had like 50 or 60 High Charities just sitting around somewhere, waiting for the day when the Covenant would need a backup capitol city. Because the Covenant can just hollow out, power, pressurize, and furnish entire small moonlets on an industrial basis now.
You know, for that matter, hasn’t Rillek Heavy Industries been hiring incredible numbers of experienced zero-g workers more or less constantly for the last 20 years?
But Fear and I are going with you. You will go back to the Human home world. You will find the Ark of the Halos. Then you will plant the virus in it, as planned.”
As opposed to just… activating it?
Fear added, “Then we will destroy Humanity. Only they have the means to find a way to stop our greatest weapon.”
Truth looked at the High Council then said, “Shall I take the weapon with us? And unleash it on Earth.”
The Prophet of Grace, whose actions are unlike his name, smiled then said, “I don’t think that will be necessary. Especially if you do your job right. Which we will be there to see to. Our reign of the universe is almost at hand.”
Truth smiled an evil smile then said, “Death to the Forerunner!”
Wait a minute, what? I thought the Flood was their greatest weapon! And it didn’t work!
Back on Earth, the Ark team landed outside Carson City. The city was in disarray. Commander Keyes found the site where the Arbiter and the other Spec Op team landed. They had received some minor casualties from a sniper in a building twenty meters to the north, Commander R’tas and Simyaldee took them out.
“It’s a bad, bad sign, brother and sister Librarians, when your action sequences compare unfavorably to a weather report.”
The Monitor, true to it’s word, led the group to the Ark. The site was the site of a large archaeological dig.
The site… was a site.
Dammit, Gul, if you sell me out again…
*The entire DRD expeditionary force is obliterated by the impact of a self-propelled asteroid into the desert outside RIFFCON.*
“All right, I may have saved a few of the replacement High Charities for personal use.”
The chief anthropologist walked up to the group and said, “You won’t be able to get into the facility. The door won’t open.”
Ok, I’ll admit that while not exactly the same thing as an archaeologist, it might be useful to have an anthropologist around at a dig site to provide a more in-depth analysis of the society that made whatever it was you were studying. And for a sufficiently large or important site, there might be multiple anthropologists on call, with one directing them and serving as a liaison with the main research team.
“That, or Half-Jaw simply does not know what an anthropologist is.”
Sergeant Johnson stepped forward and said, “We just happen to have a key.”
Which is another line from Halo 2. Does Half-Jaw think that repeating stuff from the setting the ‘fic is currently in is supposed to count as a reference? Does he think it’s ironic or something? Does he think it will make us forget everyone is horribly OOC???
The Monitor floated to the anthropologist and said, “Reclaimer, it requires both brother races to open,” then turned to the Arbiter and Commander Keyes and said, “Go to the control panel. Sangheili on the right Reclaimer on the left. Put your hand on the control pad.”
The Arbiter and Commander Keyes done as the Monitor instructed.
“And they done did it good.”
The control panel placed a silhouette of each race’s hand on the wall. They placed their hand into the silhouette. The door opened.
You seriously expect me to believe that an entire team of highly-skilled xenoarchaeologists never once thought to put a human hand on the human-hand-shaped light, and look up whatever alien species had the hand shaped like the other light, and see if that opened the door?
“Maybe this is the same team that was originally put in charge of studying Elite genetics.”
The group walked into a building that no one has been in, in over one hundred thousand years.
Well, that no one had been in, anyway. Because, you know, there are people in it right now.
They continued down a long corridor until they came to another door with the same silhouettes as before. The Arbiter and Commander Keyes placed their hands in the silhouettes as they did at the main door. The door silently opened. The group walked into the control room.
“I’m on the edge of my seat. What if… the control terminals have those little draw-a-symbol smartphone locks on them?!”
Just then an advanced Human AI appeared wearing brown armor similar to the Sangheili armor.
And just what, exactly, is an advanced human AI doing in a facility that hasn’t been touched in the last ten thousand years?
The Sangheili dropped to their knees as the AI began to speak.
The AI said, “Greetings, my name is Noah. This is… Excuse me for a moment,” the AI turned as if looking for something or someone then said, “Mo’ab come our guests are here.”
Just then an AI that looked like a Sangheili appeared.
Ok, so yeah, the Halo main trilogy includes a fair number of Abrahamic allusions, mostly relating to the Covenant religion and the last days of the Forerunners. However, here we have two AIs in the Ark, one of which is named after the guy who built the Biblical Ark (painfully obvious) and the other of which is named after… Lot’s son? Or perhaps just a city in Utah…
It was dressed in armor that looked exactly like the armor of the Arbiter. Not only the armor, but the Sangheili looked like the Arbiter.
For some inexplicable reason that is never once followed up on.
The AI that called itself Noah began to speak, “Now let’s start this again. Greetings, my name is Noah. This is my brother Mo’ab.
“Wonderful. The gun pointed at the head of the universe is being held by the documentary cameraman from District 9.”
We are of the Forerunner society. Welcome to the Ark.”
Mo’ab continued, “This facility will control the seven Halo rings. We are the creators of this facility. Well, we are the likeness of them. We have been waiting long for you to arrive.”
Oh, hey, we’ve got a Forerunner First Readers book, too!
Then we get a whole long section where the Arbiter explains, again, the recent history of the Elites and Covenant to Forerunner Abbot and Forerunner Costello, including the fact that Elites are also called Sangheili, and then the Halo Array is finally shut down.
Noah said, “We’ll accept that. The threat of the Halos are no more. But the threat from the Prophets is still real. You must seal this facility. The Prophets can never find it. Do not destroy it. Place a guard outside the door, but never have both races present at the same time. The Prophets could use that to get in. When the threat from the Prophets is over. Return to learn your heritage.”
“This is an interesting mix of sensible security, and utter insanity. What is this one guard supposed to do when the Covenant appear in force and try to burn through the doors?”
Mo’ab said, “Only you can open the Ark. If you need us we are here. But for now we must say Goodbye.”
“And I must say good riddance.”
With that said the two AIs disappeared. The group walked out the door, sealed the Ark, places guards in the area, then returned to their drop ships. The Arbiter said, “Let’s return to the Cairo. Truth and his Covenant will be returning.”
To Be Continued…
“And it only goes downhill from here.”