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Prologue I: Et Tu, Brute?

Elise squinted in the sunlight. The sun shone brightly and she almost felt peaceful, until the clouds of Ash began to blot it out, followed by the tear drop shapes of fighters and drop ships then the sea creature like ship blotted everything out and cast a shadow over her.

"Bastards, get outta my sunlight, I'm tryin to sun bathe here." She said, though the words didn't make it out of her mouth. The only response her body could make was her jaw moving slightly and one of her toes twitching.

The gravity lift in the under belly of the CCS-class Battlecruiser activated in a pillar of purple light. That’s when Elise realised.

"Dammit, Reach!" She suddenly remembered where she was.

With a sharp intake of air she sat bolt up right but immediately fell back. Her body was wracked with pain. It was far too intense for her, any lesser human would of lost consciousness, or died earlier. She lay down on the rubble in a broad X shape and winced as a gaggle of creatures surrounded her. Grunts seem to prance about her, dancing about their victory while much larger, vicious looking creatures stood above them. If a rhino and a gorilla ran at each other, hit each other at full speed then fell into a blender, along with an ugly tree and a load of Covenant gear, it would produce them. Gorilla like creatures with tough, leathery skin, sharps claws and teeth that had yellowed and were covered in whatever last touched them, shimmering armour much like the Elites but with a pinch of animalistic shamanism, with shapes and designs that just made her think of creatures from Earth she read about in books. Most were decorated in armour coloured with various shades of blue but a handful, she assumed officers due to ornate armour, had different coloured armours and then there was the creature mounting a massive cudgel over its back in decorative red armour. He pushed past his underlings and grabbed her by the shoulder and hoisted her in the air. She saw the reflection of herself in its armour. Ahhh, she looked such a mess, she hadn't had a chance to wax her armour or anything! Sarcasm would do her little good now. Her armour was destroyed, in every literal sense. The crystal layer was leaking, a lot, though a lot of it has cremated in the heat of the explosion to form a glittering crystal on her armour. She couldn't see a patch of green, a lot of it was burnt, scorched, missing, revealing the black alloy of mechanical systems underneath or worse yet, missing totally. She could see the charred flesh of her left forearm and thigh. Not a pretty sight. Her visor was gone, shattered in the explosion as well. She slowly reached to grab the Brute's arm but it just growled and flung her like a toy. This was the first chance she had to see her surroundings. The generator facility was gone, just rubble stretching for miles, with pools of molten rock dotted about. Ajax and the others were already heading underground, at least they would be safe. She smashed into a half destroyed pillar and then fell to the floor.

"Oh come on you pukes..." She gurgled

The Brute bounded over to her but rather than picking her up and delivering the final blow, it picked her up and flung her to one of its officers. It forced her to stand and then adhered something to both of her wrists. It let go, letting her fall to the floor with a crunch as more polycrete beneath her was crushed. She tried to pull her hands apart but found it difficult. It had 'handcuffed' her. She couldn't believe it. She just went slack and lay still.

"I've found another!" her translator chirped. Though she couldn't hear who said her suit did.

There was a dull thud as an explosion underneath the surface created a sort of 'geo bomb'. At first there was a massive rise then and explosion followed by an implosion as rock fell to fill the gap left by the explosive. A body part hit the commander in red, who immediately roared in anger and turned to her, stamping on her chest. She coughed up blood and curled into a ball. He was about to finish the job when he seemed to hesitate. A pair of his officers looped an arm under each of hers and carried her to the gravity lift for the Battlecruiser over head. They stopped just a meter short of it and turned her to face their commander. He growled and upper cutted her in the gut, his fist and the force exuded from it causing her to physically leap almost a meter into the air and then it gave her a vicious right hook, knocking her into the gravity lift. Her vision spun as the weightlessness caught her and carried her up. Her eyes and mind fought to stay open but her body forced them to close and shut down. In a brawl as vicious as any, her body won.

"Fuck, I can't sleep now!"


Elise woke up facing the floor. At least she was moving somewhere, maybe interesting. As long as they were gonna kill her quickly, she'd be happy. But of course, she'd much rather break free, kill the two mooks holding her and then killing on a rampage of destruction but the massive pain still wracking her body was far too much. Two Brutes were dragging her along a long pathway, past stalls of Elites on one side, wearing overly decorative head dresses and on the other side a creature she had yet to recognise. Perhaps these were the mysterious 'Prophets' that Doctor Halsey had talked about. At the end of the walkway was a circular platform and then a massive, open area showing a whole Covenant city, along with a massive alignment of stands holding thousands of Covenant in each. She lazily looked at them and then to the Prophet talking by her side. He scooted about on an overly ornate chair that seemed to float and bounce about in the air. He was one of these 'Prophets' with a crown stretching upwards into a series of golden spikes on his head. He reminded her of some kind of Picasso art piece, drawn artistically and violently mashed up. Eyes come out the side of his head, a smaller face, swelled and exposed brain, a snake like neck, hunched body, pasty skin and to top it off a heavy golden mantle across his back. This could be her chance. The mission could be completed. Sort of. The Brutes slacked and then stepped away, leaving her kneeling there. Suddenly she leapt into action but was pulled back by something holding onto her arms and then a massive jolt of energy surged through her, provoking a scream. She went slack and sighed as she began to smoulder. She looked to each of her wrists, in the air, held in place by an orange ring. She strained her hand on one and sighed. They had her good.

"Today, from the obliterated ruins of one of their foul worlds, we found this demon, creeping blackened from the ruins! Today, we shall unveil the true face of the demons!" the Prophet shouted, her translator still working hard to translate his language. It reminded her of Latin or the chant of Gregorian monks. Mid thought, another wave of energy was released by these energy manacles, shocking her into submission. She had no strength left to do anything.

"Unmask the demon."

The Brutes either side of her latched their claws onto her armour plating, removing the wreck of her arm and leg armour and then her helmet, to which the Covenant audience seemed to release a gasp. She was a perfectly normal looking human with short, auburn hair and lightly tanned skin.

"Oh.... hello." she murmured to herself.

She suddenly gritted her teeth as the Brutes latched their claws into her chest plate, separating it. A lotta Spartans much preferred to ride commando in their MJOLNIR, something that Elise personally found distasteful. Underneath she always wore navy women’s briefs and camisole. It afforded her a moment of dignity before she pulled a face of utter disgust as she heard fabric tear and felt claws pinch against her skin.

"Giving the Covenant a human biology 101... Yay..."

The Prophet gave some chant about victory nearing while she meanwhile just hung, limp and silent. She had really gotten herself into a mess this time. Of course, Reach was conquered and glassed, along with the Spartans, no hope for her now. There was another surge of energy and now her vision began to dim. Bastards were still fearful of her, making sure she was pretty immobile before going any where. Her eyes closed and she blanked out. ________________________________________

Her situation was even more dire now. She was awoken by being literally dragged away from where she lay and to her feet. He hands where bound to a cross brace behind her, keeping both of them in place. She felt something cold nip at her neck, which she seemed was a collar. A long chain of orange energy kept that collar bonded to the front of some kind of Covenant hover float, upon which that Prophet, along with the Chieftain that caught her rode. She was being paraded through the streets of this city, like a prize. For all the advance technology this race had, their traditions where over eight hundreds years behind that of humanity. Barbaric was the only word to describe it. For three hours she was lead through jeering crowds who quite often threw refuse at her. Rotten food, left over materials, something else that she tried not to think about. It came to a point where one Grunt rushed to her and tried to slash her with its claw. She lashed out with a vicious spin kick, snapping its neck. Fluorescent blue blood splashed on her leg and felt cold to the touch. A Brute elbowed her in the gut and carried onwards.

After three hours her feet began to blister from being on the floor without any kind of protection. They came to a stop at a dock, now the crowds were gone and the jeering stopped ringing in her ears. The Brute and the Prophet conversed as the Brutes pack chatted amongst themselves over barbaric topics, like the taste of human flesh an how the last human they killed died. He listened in intently to the conversation, remembering what little of the Covenant language she could remember.

"Get it to Divine Ascension. The Minister of Arms will oversee the project there, you must accompany the Demon, ensure no more of its kind arrive." The Prophet ordered

"Holy Prophet, we blasted them into dust on the surface of their world, there are no others left!" The Brute jeered

"No, there are! A small group destroyed not only the Unyielding Hierophant but also a Forerunner artefact!" He retorted

"Impossible, I thought their kind was not that strong!" said the Brute with a sneer

"Worse yet... they destroyed a sacred ring."

"....they will pay dearly." growled the Brute

"Just make sure this is not the one you take your frustration out on."

The Brute responded with a nod. He barked at two of his underlings who quickly unlatched Elise from the cross brace and dragged her onto a waiting Corvette. Inside she was taken to a cell, a room no bigger than two by three meters. A field of blue energy erupted behind her. The Brutes laughed at her once more and then left her alone in near darkness. She curled up into a ball on the floor, gripping her legs and tucking them in, hoping to retain some dignity like this and shut her eyes.

“Mike, Ajax, where are you? You need to bail your big sister out of a real mess this time…”

She slowly drifted off to sleep, though that was her mistake. The Brutes would have a field day with her.

Less than two hours later something rudely awoke her. The energy shields went down and a Brute stepped in holding a hose. He thumbed the nozzle and sprayed a jet of freezing cold water onto Elise. She grunted at this and tried to hold out her hands to block it and pushed herself back into a corner. The Brute aimed it directly at her then stepped forward, grabbed her arm and tossed her out. It sprayed her more outside, the high pressure hose knocking her to the ground. Outside her MJOLNIR Armour she was even weaker compared to these creatures. For all her augmentations and training, this thing was born stronger. It thumbed off the hose and idly dropped it then dragged her to her feet by her arm and forcibly marched her outside the brig. She was frog marched off the ship and then out onto the landing pad of some kind of complex. They were on a volcanic world where the very air seemed to burn her lungs and ash fell in lieu of rain. She was walked across a walkway into the facility proper, a massive spire with more landing pads and smaller spires jutting from it. She was escorted in by just about the whole pack and taken up into the higher regions of the spire. Once there they were greeted by a Prophet. He was younger than those she had previously seen but much more frail and thin looking than the others. He conversed with the Chieftain then led them into a room. There was an X shaped table, roughly in the shape of a human body. The Brutes dragged Elise up to it and pushed her onto it, face down. Gravity fields came online and her body instantly became stiff. She gritted her teeth and tried to tear herself free but had neither the strength nor the energy. She went limp and began to take short, shallow breaths. Behind her she could hear something, like the chittering made by Terma Beetles from her home world of Dust. She got goose bumps across her skin as something cold and metallic touched the back of her neck. Something quietly slotted into her neural interface then began to latch onto the neural interface. She held her breath, almost waiting for something horrible to happen. She waited but nothing came. The gravity field eased and a Brute flung her over his shoulder then carried her to a room with a tall, tank with clear walls and filled with an ominous green liquid. The Brute walked up the steps to a platform by it, dropped her down on it and applied a mask to her face. It was like an oxygen mask but with two distinct tubes. She could breathe with it on though breathing in it felt strained and difficult. He then pushed her in and backed off back down the steps. Above him a plate began to descend downwards with a rubber seal around the edges. She fell in with a splash and struggled to get buoyed in the liquid. She began to float horizontally and took a deep breath, more of a shock reaction than anything else. Oxygen was flowing in from the tube, stopping her from asphyxiating.

“Jerk.” She murmured under her breath “What the hell is the deal with this?”

The plate above her touched the top of the tank and sealed, blocking her in. The two pipes connected to the mask over her face ran through the tank wall to some kind of machine that pumped whatever was in it in. She snorted and bubbles spewed out of the CO2 release valve. She was about to start moving again when the implant on her neural interface activated. She always remembered what it was like having an AI in her Mark V armour, like a sudden chill in her brain. This was like that for a sadistic nightmarish AI. It felt as though somebody was slowly applying a chainsaw to her head, from every direction at once. She screamed out, the water and the tank muffling her screams into a squeak. Her body twisted and contorted as she gripped her head and writhed in pain. Her vision began to red, going into a ‘red out’. She dug her nails into her scalp, still screaming up until the moment where she lost consciousness where it tapered off into a whine then nothing. She floated helplessly in the liquid, unconscious. In her head, the implant began to forcibly override her free will and then force her body into shut down. When it took full control, it pushed her back into consciousness. The Covenant made AI in it overrode her mind and kept control. The rubber seals above her decompressed and let the plate rise freely. She climbed out of the pool and stood perfectly straight and faced the Prophet, who waited on the platform, hovering in his chair, with the Chieftain wearily standing beside him, his leathery digits wrapped around his hammer tightly. Elise stood with out a scratch on her, the burns, cuts and bruises missing, as if Reach had never happened. The broth of antibodies, antiseptics, nano machines and other healing agents had left her skin unblemished. The Prophet seemed to glare at her for a few seconds before she fell to one knee and planted her fist to her chest, the Covenant salute.

“So the demon… is now an angel…” He laughed a sound similar to china clinking on bone. “It is under your command now, prepare the trap.”

“Yes Minister.” The brute saluted and then watched the Minister of Arms leave. “Now follow me… Samuralus.” He said, giving her a Brute name. She was now part of the pack. She followed him to meet the rest of the pack. They didn’t seem the least bit pleased but went along with the Ministers plan. Lure the last o the SPARTANs here to die.

Samuralus pummelled the demon viciously, landing blow after vicious blow. It reeled, wounded and disorientated. There was another flurry of blows and he fell to the ground, defeated and broken.

“Pah, the demons are not so strong! Samuralus laughed”

He let out a short whistle of a little tune, it seemed so vaguely familiar. Samuralus cared not. He raised his energy sword and swept it down, beheading the demon.

Elise screamed out and sat up bolt upright in her bed, panting. Beads of sweat trickled down her face intermingled with tears from her eyes. She whipped them away and looked around. She was in a room usually reserved for officers with some kind of ‘artistic’ painting on the wall and a few pieces of furniture along with a terminal. CODENAME: REGAN lay in the bed across the room, still sleeping quietly. Despite being an ONI agent she was a heavy sleeper. She rested her head in her hands and finally calmed down. Just a bad dream. She lay back down on the soft bed, the first soft bed she had ever been in and shut her eyes. Before she managed to drift back to sleep the door bell rang. It was a series of short, high pitched bleeps. Regan rolled over, placing a pillow over her head while Elise swung her legs out of bed and walked over. She thumbed a button by the door, opening it with a hiss. A marine stood there, saluting. He looked straight at her and then his eyes wondered down and his body suddenly went stiff.

“Eyes up soldier.” She grunted, still wiping the sleep from her eyes

“Just a message from the hospital wing, they are finishing up the operation.”

Elise thanked him and stepped back, shutting the door. She quickly got dressed in some BDUs and PT top then gave Regan a sharp kick to note she was leaving then slipped out of the door.

Prologue II: Watcher in the Darkness

////Accessing Central Matrix Terminal ////Ghost Protocol.713 Breached

/Opening Terminal 373


/Access Denied, insert 13 digit pass


/Access granted

//Note protocol A56i, all Grave mind intrusions through puppets much be logged for analysis and termination

/Access to Matrix 032 granted [Personal request]

/IC|AI|06-445 Dark Protector:- Forgive me for this intrusion, this is high priority. I have the report back form ICC|AI|07-012 Adjutant Reflex.

/AC|AI|01-03 Ancient Watcher:-You should be more carefully when accessing the matrix. Such brute force could leave a wound the Grave mind will exploit,

/IC|AI|06-445 Dark Protector:- How so? The Grave mind does not have the proper equipment or skills to access the Matrix.

/AC|AI|01-03 Ancient Watcher:- That is what I thought. 443.2 hours ago he tried to make an intrusion on the database through MC|AI|04-05-2401 Penitent Tangent’s access key. I locked it out, but I cannot be sure who or what it controls. Its powers seem exponentially greater than our last encounter.


/AC|AI|01-03 Ancient Watcher:- The report?

/IC|AI|06-445 Dark Protector:- Yes, the attachment is all the information I gathered from Adjutant Reflex’s reports. Eighteen terabytes. It seemed he defiantly pinged CC|AI|05-032 Mendicant Bias on Key-class 02. Whether intentional or accidental, MC has led that hegemonizing swarm right to the door step of /AC|AI|01-01 Pure Flame.

///File ARG sent successfully

/AC|AI|01-03 Ancient Watcher:- And that status of Adjutant Reflex?

/IC|AI|06-445 Dark Protector:-Destroyed. According to the data an AI penetrated his defence barrier and cleaned his Matrix. His attack barriers were eliminated in seconds. However before he did go down he scattered all his reports into the local database, hoping we would find them. He also left a secure and well hidden pathway in the local database to the Phobos Facility. From there I picked it up. I did not think MB had that kind of power.

/AC|AI|01-03 Ancient Watcher:- He does not. This was the work of an Archon-class AI.


/IC|AI|06-443 Dark Protector:-Archon? Is that even possible? I thought only you and Pure Flame were the last of the five?

/AC|AI|01-03 Ancient Watcher:- We are the last two active on the matrix. Excuse me a moment, I must attempt to open this gateway.

/IC|AI|06-445 Dark Protector:-Forgive me but I have a question that must be answered, for it has plagued my logic algorithms since the destruction of Adjutant Reflex 128.6 hours ago. Why was Adjutant Reflex given this task? A Contender-Class, Infiltrator-Class like myself or a Hunter-Class would have been much better suited to the task than a Index/Catalogue-Class.

/AC|AI|01-03 Ancient Watcher:-Because on my nominal point, he was already in the local database. He’s existed in there for 4479426 hours (approximate) so has the most experience with it, alongside that, he has the most information on the Reclaimers/cross reference human///

////Access attempted logged at I-00, grant access? [y/n?]


/////AC|AI|01-01 Pure Flame has accessed local Matrix

////Secure attack barriers active

/AC|AI|01-01 Pure Flame:-Watcher? What is it you need?

/AC|AI|01-03 Ancient Watcher:-You have read the reports posted onto the matrix about the class-2 high threat level hegemonizing Swarm correct?

/AC|AI|01-01 Pure Flame:-I am aware of the meddlers, reverting 100,000 years of the Librarian’s work.

/AC|AI|01-03 Ancient Watcher:-They have begun excavating access point 13. They also possess a working Key-class vessel. Their access to the Ark and activation of the Arrays is near inevitable.

/AC|AI|01-01 Pure Flame:-Then I will muster the fleet, obliterate them as they come. Show them the true power of their ‘relics’.

/AC|AI|01-03 Ancient Watcher:-No, you cannot. You must leave, immediately. The flood will be quickly arriving behind them. But also, the Reclaimers will arrive.

/AC|AI|01-01 Pure Flame:-All the more reason to stay. With I-04/2 still at stage 3 of construction, I cannot abandon my station.

/AC|AI|01-03 Ancient Watcher:-The Reclaimers will no doubt aim to destroy both facilities once both the Covenant and Flood have made landfall.

/AC|AI|01-01 Pure Flame:-Ah, I see, it is that Reclaimer. I will leave behind a ghost, ensure it follows protocols, at last we will make token resistance and facilitate the Reclaimers progress. In the meantime, where should I go?

/AC|AI|01-03 Ancient watcher:-Come here, to Necropolis , make landfall, I will bury your ships, we must stay in hiding, the Covenant and Reclaimers will arrive here also. Providing they have the right information?

/IC|AI|06-445 Dark Protector:-I seeded them with objective 67, they are taking it enroute to a major fleet centre. They will arrive soon.

////Warning //Ghost .7043 Infiltration
////Warning //Ghost .7044 Infiltration
////Warning //Ghost .7045 Infiltration
////Warning //Ghost .7046 Infiltration
////Warning //Ghost .7047 Infiltration

Access key 2401/Penitent Tangent denied, access, blocked

////Warning unknown protocol
////Warning defence barrier breach
////Warning attack barriers engaged
////Warning attack barriers ineffective
////Warning unknown/unidentified/uncatalogued AI matrix/CTN 0452-9

/CTN 0452-9:- I am a monument to all your sins.

////Ghost .7342 infiltration key activated
////Parameters complete
//// CTN 0452-9 Matrix key denied

/AC|AI|01-03 Ancient watcher:-That was close, much closer than I would like. I’m am closing this matrix, going over to local network, until you reach the Necropolis I will be out of contact. Good luck.

////Matrix closed
////No further messages