1159: A New Covenant – Chapter Eight and EpiloguePosted: August 30, 2015
Hello, my loyal, long-suffering patrons. Previously on the Half-Jaw boredom fest that is A New Covenant, the Prophet of Truth let his giant fleet get smashed by the humans’ and Sangheili’s even gianter fleet in an action sequence that was only ninety-nine percent sclerotic, while a bunch of Marines harassed one of their buddies to the point where she decided to hook up with an Elite named Marly instead of listen to their pathetic attempts at flirting.
Our unfortunate soldier then got crammed into a Longsword fighter alongside three other gunners, burned her arm, and opted to have a completely non-sexual lifetime monogamous partnership with the Elite rather than just, you know, punch the guy who was harassing her in the jaw or something.
“Chapter 8 is entitled “A Joyful Occasion”… and it’s joyful indeed. After having bombarded with massively overpowered ‘protagonists’, monumental ignorance of the Human-Covenant War, incredible blandness, howling sexism, and the most boring prose I, personally, have ever encountered… today the ‘fic will end.”
Onward, warriors. Fear neither pain nor death! Onward to the end of A New Covenant!
“I don’t know, I’m thinking this might be closer to Half-Jaw’s level:”
The Arbiter was in Lord Hood’s ready room discussing the abrupt departure of the Covenant. Lord Hood said, “They’ll be back.”
The Arbiter said, “I know. But the question is when and how many.”
“And how long we’ll need to talk about them when they return.”
Just then the intercom on Lord Hood’s desk crackled, “Lord Hood there are two people out here who need to speak to you and the Arbiter.”
Dammit, is that family from Palo Alto demanding that we “arrest the Covenant” for sending invisible ghost agents to steal their dog again?
Lord Hood said, “Send them in.”
Marlie’ and Shae walked in the door and saluted.
Lord Hood stood and said, “At ease. Please be seated. What is it we could do for you?”
“A mercy killing seems appropriate.”
Marlie’ and Shae looked at each other. Marlie’ was the first to speak. He looked at the Arbiter and said, “Nobel Arbiter.
It is our desire to become life mates in a bonding ceremony. I know it would be the first of its kind. But you know when a Sangheili loves it is for all time.”
The Arbiter said, “Yes, Brother, I know. But this will be a first. Have you thought this through?”
“Nope. Not in the slightest.”
Lord Hood unable to contain his shock said, “Yes, Private Gibson. Have you thought about how this will effect the two of you? What about children?”
Dear GOD I hope not!
Shae spoke up, “Yes we have thought about it. No we can never physically mate.
And I still think that despite the rest of your relationship making absolutely zero sense, you’re just a bit too quick to throw in the towel here. A genital sheath isn’t the end of the world, after all.
We could never have children. But with this war you and I both know there are orphans we could adopt.”
“No, please no!”
I’m already positive these two would be worse with kids than Molesto The Clown.
Marlie’ added, “There are also orphaned fledgling on Sangheil who could use parents.
“And aren’t just being absorbed into another keep for… some arcane reason.”
All we want is to show everyone we want to be life mates. To share our lives together in a life bond.”
“To live our life lives together on a life planet doing life things, at least until Marlie’ gets caught engaging in a life duel with our life neighbors after consuming too much ‘life water’, spilling the lifeblood of their life daughter and receiving a life sentence.”
The Arbiter stood and looked at Shae and said, “You know how some of the Humans feel about us. You have seen it. How do you think they will react to seeing you and Marlie’ being bonded?
“Badly, I’m sure.”
In Sangheili culture a bonding is for all time. It can’t be broken.”
Actually, it makes perfect sense for Sangheili (religious?) law to have absolutely no way to permit divorce- it fits perfectly with their honor-before-reason approach to… well, everything, really, and more importantly if a Sangheili warrior doesn’t like his current mate he can just go out and grab as many others as he can. And because of that (and also due to the unpleasant history of such concepts on Earth) I’m calling it.
Stupid Sexist Sangheili counter: 7!
Shae looked at the Arbiter and Lord Hood and said, “Marlie’ and I aren’t bonding for everyone else. We are bonding for each other. And I was raised in a family who doesn’t believe in leaving the other when times get tough. If my father had lived. He and my mother would have been married for 25 years now.
“That’s… not really a particularly long time, in the grand scheme of things. They were mated (or doing that other weird thing humans do with the rings and plant pods and everything) for a few years, then had a daughter and stayed together just long enough to put her through boot camp. Or they would have, anyway, were it not for the fact that the male apparently died at some point potentially long beforehand!”
I know what a commitment is and what it takes, Sir.
“No you don’t. You didn’t spend the last 70 years raising an asari girl as your daughter, so kindly shut up.”
And as far as I’m concerned if anyone doesn’t like it and don’t want to see it they can look the other way.”
I wish we could, Gibson. I wish we could…
The Arbiter looked at Shae and then to Marlie’ then said, “Marlie’ do you feel as she does?”
Marlie’ replied, “Yes, Arbiter. I do. I feel the sacred feeling of love for the Human Shae. I have had plenty of Sangheili females to want me for a mate. I’ve had them through themselves at me for all the battles I have been in.
Oh, you mean all the battles you turned on your active camo and hid from?
“Also, what is it supposed to mean mean to have a mate ‘through herself‘? Is this some kind of human thing? Can you have a mate through someone else?”
I really, really hope not.
but I have turned them all down because I was waiting for the sacred love. I love Shae and I will until I take my last breath.”
Lord Hood looked at the Arbiter and said, “Arbiter, you know if we allow this union then there will be some that oppose it. But then again it could show how strong our alliance really is. There could be others who want the same as these two but are afraid to come forward,” he looked at the happy couple then said, “Many years ago when an interracial couple wanted to get married people looked down upon it. But now it is common. I see no reason why these two shouldn’t be wed.”
“Actually, I can sort of see where he’s coming from here. Building an alliance is as much a hearts-and-minds game for the general public as it is a matter of maneuvering the high-level officials, and my propaganda team does in fact spend a good amount of time injecting human-turian romantic relationships into fictional media while publicizing the ones that have worked out well in reality. It’s a difficult topic to address properly, but in addition to providing a wonderful platform for cultural exchange, simply getting members of the general public to see their potential allies as attractive can do wonders.
Of course, the sort of relationship depicted here is no doubt going to set human-Sangheili relations back to the Harvest era if not worse.”
The Arbiter said, “I agree.”
Lord Hood looked at Shae and said, “Once the ceremony is complete you will no longer be allowed to go on missions like today. You will be permanently stationed to a desk job.”
“Well, fraternization, dereliction of duty, and gross incompetence immediately spring to mind…”
True, true, but we both know that’s not what the author meant.
Stupid Sexist Superiors counter: 8
Shae looked at Lord Hood and said, “Understood.”
Marlie rose from his chair and put his right hand on the Arbiter’s left shoulder as a show of respect then said, “I would like you to perform the ceremony.”
The Arbiter feeling a little proud said, “I would be honored.”
I’m not sure if that’s a thing Arbiters can do. Their role in the Covenant is sort of as a last-chance weasel option for disgraced Sangheili to reclaim some of their honor, and once their mission is done they are usually expected to die. I don’t think they are civil authorities, and they sure as hell aren’t clergy.
Lord Hood stood and said, “Now listen, since this is an Elite Human ceremony. I think both of us, the Arbiter and I, should do the ceremony.”
Ok, I don’t think that’s a thing UNSC Navy officers can do either.
“I agree. When a turian decides it’s time to settle down with a permanent mate, his or her superiors are really not supposed to get involved.”
Marlie’ looked at Shae and then to Lord Hood and said, “We’d be honored.”
Shae took Marlie’ by the hand and said, “Come, my love, we have a life bond to plan.”
Marlie and Shae left to go to what will soon be their quarters to plan their public display of their love.
You know, despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that this relationship is supposed to be completely non-sexual, a lot of lines describing it come across as poor euphemisms for something or other extremely dirty.
Lord Hood looked at the Arbiter and said, “The fleet will remain in yellow alert. But this union will bring a little joy to a bad situation.”
“Because, you know, a tense defensive action between massive Covenant attacks is the perfect time to pair off for life.”
The Arbiter replied as he rubbed his mandibles,
“Speaking of things extremely dirty… if you’re going to do that, at least go somewhere that isn’t filled with humans.”
Unless, you know, that’s what the Arbiter is into or something.
“That it shall. If you will excuse me. I must go and prepare for the ceremony.”
“And that he does, rehashing the exact same conversation he had with Hood over a communications link to that Commander Pharr person on their flagship and asking for a script for the whole mating-with-religious-overtones ceremony.”
Commander Pharr being caught off guard be the Arbiter’s answer said, “Say what!?
That is unprecedented. Can it be possible?”
Lord Hood and I are allowing this bonding. If you would like to see it then I suggest you talk to Spec Op Marlie’ Chesewee,” the Arbiter said.
Commander Pharr shakes his head trying to make sense of what he just heard said, “I will. Here is your file. Will Commander R’tas be attending considering he is his commanding officer?”
The Arbiter said, “I do not know. The preparations are being made as we speak. Thank you.”
The Arbiter said, “Cortana, could you have a copy of this file translated into the Human language?”
Because, you know, there is only one.
“Although to be fair, the UNSC does use English for all of its signage, et cetera, so it seems that by 2552 someone went and established it as a standard trade language for all human commerce.”
Cortana said, “Yes. It will take a moment or two.” Cortana disappeared then returned a moment later and said, “Are you trying to be funny? How did you get a copy of a Human marriage ceremony?”
The Arbiter said, “A Human marriage? What do you mean? that is a Sangheili life bond ceremony.”
Cortana said, “Here, I’ll translate the Human marriage ceremony to your language. I’ll display it here,” she points to the display on her left, then continues, “This is the file you received from the Seeker of Light here,” she points to the right.
The Arbiter’s mandibles drop as he looks at the screens, “Why they are identical,” he said still in shock
Regaining his senses the Arbiter said, “Cortana, translate them back into Human and put them on those two screens there. Human on the left and mark it. Sangheili on the right and mark it too. I need to speak with Lord Hood.”
The Arbiter gets on his com link and said, “Lord Hood I need to see you in the communications room. I’ll explain when you get here.”
Lord Hood walked in and looked at the screens and said, “Why are there two copies of a Human marriage ceremony on the screens here?”
The Arbiter answered, “It’s not. This one,” he points to his left, “is your marriage ceremony. And this one,” he points to his right, “is the Sangheili life bond ceremony.”
Lord Hood said in shock, “Why they are the same.”
The Arbiter said, “I know. The thing is our life bond ceremony is a sacred ceremony that hasn’t changed since ancient times. It is the one ceremony that the Prophets allowed us to keep.”
Lord Hood said, “Ours hasn’t either. This here shows that our races were once combined. Here is our proof.”
“Ok, first. Half-Jaw, you do realize that there are as many different ‘marriage’ rituals as there are human cultures- namely, many.
Even assuming that, as with my own people, expansion into space has homogenized the UNSC, what makes the author so terribly sure that the ‘marriage’ that ends up predominating will be the Americanized Protestant version we see later on?
And why is that version the ‘special Forerunner ritual’ passed down from on high?”
To make matters worse, this… idea completely ignores the fact that rituals and traditions change with time. Either Half-Jaw is completely ignoring that, or he expects us to believe that all of these changes, in Elite and human history, somehow “looped around” to garble the original and then randomly restore it.
It doesn’t make any sense!!!
Marlie’ and Shae planned their bonding down to the last detail.
And we’re going to be told about every bit of it.
Lord Hood and the Arbiter sent a message to the Humans and Sangheili alike that no remarks were to be made to or about the couple. All were invited to attend the joyous occasion.
“An excellent show at ginning up the illusion of support while dramatically exceeding one’s authority to suppress dissenters! I couldn’t have done it better myself!”
Note that the Grunts and Hunters were pointedly not invited.
The Arbiter and Lord Hood took their jobs seriously. Shae had picked Commander Miranda Keyes to stand up with her as her Maid of Honor. The Master Chief was to give her away.
Hellllloooooooooooooooooo loaded phrasing!
Stupid Sexist Sangheili counter: 9
Marlie’ picked his life long friend Sole’ Sagotee to be his Sangheili Brother of Bond.
“His lifelong friend who we know from… lunch, basically.”
It was just a matter of a few hours until the ceremony.
Sole’ looked at Marlie’ and said, “I’m honored to be your Brother of Bond.’
Marlie’ feeling extremely nervous said, “Do you have the ring? I don’t want anything to come of it.”
Whatever the hell that means.
Sole’ replied, “I have it and nothing will happen to it. Now will you calm down. You’re as nervous as a Grunt who just shot the hull with a fuel rod cannon.”
Lord Hood and the Arbiter were checking on the last minute preparations when 343 Guilty Spark floated in and said excitedly, “A Forerunner Life Pledge. How exciting I haven’t seen one of those in over one hundred thousand years.
And, if we’re lucky, we won’t have to sit through another for one hundred thousand more.
Who is taking the pledge?”
The Arbiter said, “A Sangheili and a Human.”
The Monitor said in an even more excited tone, “That is great news. Your ancestors would be proud. It was common back then.
“And I’m assuming that those pairings at least involved mates who would actually, you know, mate…”
I’m so glad to see it coming back.”
The Arbiter said in a serious tone, “The two races bonded with each other? Monitor when this ceremony is over you will have to explain.
What, really, is there to explain? It’s not a complicated concept.
But for now we have a ceremony to attend. Do you want to come?”
The Monitor replied, “I’d love to.”
The ceremony was in the observation deck on the Cairo. The place that Marlie’ and Shae hold dear. The place where they had their first date.
The place that we don’t even think exists. There’s no mention of an observation deck on the schematics, although many rooms do have fairly large windows.
Lord Hood , standing in a crisp white uniform, opened the ceremony welcoming all who attended. The audience was a mixture of Sangheili and Human.
“Yes, the Grunts and Hunters are disinvited as usual.”
That also points something out to me- the Elites are also referred to by their proper name Sangheili, but I have yet to see the same courtesy afforded to the Grunts (Unggoy), Brutes (Jiralhanae), or Prophets (San’shyuum).
“Just another propaganda tactic from our good friend Half-Jaw. Keep the unlikable races referred to by their pejorative nicknames.”
Blah blah blah, they go through the wedding vows and ring ceremony, and despite the fact that “human” and Elite marriages are supposed to be “identical” it’s in fact a synonym replacement of the wording in a stereotypical romcom wedding. “Health and sickness” versus “sickness and health”, that sort of thing.
Lord Hood stepped up and said, “I now pronounce you life mates. Marlie’ you may now kiss your bride.”
Marlie’ and Shae share a kiss before everyone.
Try to kiss that. Try.
The Arbiter said, “I present you with life mates, Marlie’ and Shae.”
Lord Hood dismissed the ceremony to a reception in the Mess Hall. Shae and Marlie’ cut the traditional Sangheili sweet bread as well as the Human traditional wedding cake, that Marlie’ loved.
Adding yet more support to the idea that “sangheili sweet bread” is in fact just Space Poptarts.
Life was good for now.
To Be Continued …
In a little splort of an Epilogue, in fact! You ready, Gul?
“Let’s do this!”
The Epilogue is set in 2558, in the “Tenth Age of Redemption” which, while at least spelled correctly, is not, in fact, a thing.
The attacks on the Forerunners by the Covenant continue. Truth, the Prophet leader of the Covenant has went into hiding. The Ark for now is safe.
Yoda, you are not nearly as wise as.
Trade between the Humans and the Sangheili have increased. Both home worlds, Earth and Sangheil, have ambassadors and both races on them. The alliance that was made by the Arbiter and the Humans has held strong. The Sangheili and the Humans have learned to trust and live together, the same way they did so long ago.
“Criticizing the current state of affairs is now grounds for summary execution.”
Even the Arbiter and the Master Chief has become close friends. They go on recon missions together and watch one another’s back. One is rarely seen without the other.
That must make alone-with-the-females time at Vadam Keep pretty damn awkward…
The sharing of technology has went to the combining of ship styles.
“Good. So now those boxy UNSC starships will be painted purple!”
All ships are now cloak enabled. The slip space drives the UNSC once used were replaced be the slip space drives the Sangheili had.
Thereby ensuring curb-stomping capacity for decades to come!
“Hey, don’t knock it, with the profits from all of those refit contracts, I can afford to open three new orbital dockyard facilities in the Hierarchy Midreach. You don’t want to put the good people of Vol Paragom out of jobs again, do you?”
The assassination attempts on the Arbiter still continue. But are not as frequent considering the Arbiter usually has Mirratord and Spartans with him at all times.
“Meaning that the Arbiter will now end up being assassinated by a Mirratord or Spartan.”
The Arbiter divides his time between Sangheil and Earth, having a home on each.
The cost of making that many long-range Slipspace jumps for no discernible reason must be, if you’ll pardon the expression, simply astronomical.
Top Forerunner scientists are currently working on a cure and a vaccine for the Flood. They are aided by Sergeant Johnson, who seems to be immune. Soon the Flood will be history. As it should be.
… because I’m going to activate the Halo Array and make sure they all die happily ever after!!! EYAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAA!
Dammit, you’re no fun at all.
Until next time, friends and neighbors. See you in the comments section.