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OftheBloodguard

OftheBloodguard

8/3/2011 12:34:39 PM
Well, I figured it was about time that I upload this. I've stalled long enough. [b]Foreword[/b] [quote]To those of you who have read this before its arrival here, thank you so much. Especially Nis, you were there from the beginning, when my story was at its worse. To those who haven't, well, this has been going for about eight or nine months now. I figured it was time to finally step up and put it where it could be more critically judged. Don't get me wrong, this would be long dead if I'd had no help, but I haven't really had any criticism on this. So, why not put it here, where more people can judge it? Be warned, the prologue is pretty long. This is necessary, but I just thought I'd warn you, it's longer than any chapter I've written so far. Though, I'll be pleased if this changes. So, yeah. Please, tell me what you think.[/quote] [b]Synopsis[/b] [quote][i]The year is 2551. The Covenant war machine has trampled through world after world, driving the human race to its knees. And despite humanity's best efforts to strike as one, not every allegiance is pure. Dr. Catherine Halsey, under the watch of the UNSC's shady intelligence service ONI, has given life to the SPARTAN-II project over the course of three decades, producing some of the most elite soldiers ever seen through mechanical and biological augmentation. Even though these SPARTANs have lit a beacon of hope for the survival of the human race, there are those within ONI who do not believe they are enough. Starting their own project behind veils of secrecy and deceit, they have created their own SPARTANs, with far greater numbers and more cost-effective methods, sacrificing quality for quantity. The losses suffered to the SPARTAN-IIIs have been devastating. Learning from their mistakes, ONI have started to employ different operations throughout the project, choosing select units and issuing them with far greater equipment to use, in hopes of creating far greater weapons than Halsey ever could. One such unit is Team Theta, who were the last survivors of their last mission in an attempt to assassinate a key Covenant figure. Despite their incredible losses, they still refused any replacements of their team, catching ONI's eye in doing so. There seems to be something about them that no other unit has ever possessed, and ONI is keen to exploit this to its fullest advantage. Their effectiveness is raised considerably, with the help of advanced armour and other necessities, and soon they are considered one of the UNSC's most efficient and effective units, sent on as many missions against the Covenant as they can handle. But the hands of fate work in mysterious ways, and soon, Team Theta will be fighting for more than they ever thought possible.[/i][/quote] [b]Pact: A Tale of Brotherhood[/b] [b]Prolouge[/b] Behind their cold, lifeless visors, six SPARTANs stared at each other in numb horror. Their hopes of killing off a Prophet and severely crippling an attacking Covenant fleet had been snatched away from them as they realized what they'd gotten themselves into. Their mind's eye saw the Covenant laughing at them, their sickening and barbaric cries adding to the incoherency of the situation. Either the Prophet in question was on a smaller craft, and not the main flagship they'd just worked their way into, or wasn't even there at all. Whatever the case was, it was obvious that the Covenant had this planned all along. Which only meant one thing: "Ambush," stated Jess-198. Mark-316 sighed, knowing full-well what was about to go down. "That's affirmative. How many do you spot in there?" "Approximately 50 on first glance. Searching for sniper nests now." While Jess hunted for any hidden foes, using her thermal imaging system to look through the wall between them and the control room, the leader of the team pondered the situation, not finding everything adding up. "Guys? Do you really think this is an ambush?" suggested Rodney-257. "What do you mean, Commander?" "Well, think about it. We've encountered a lot of resistance on our way over here to this control room, furthering suspicion that there was a Prophet aboard. We've barely made to this point alive, not to mention the fact that every single member of Teams Rapier and Xiphos are dead." He paused, reliving each of the 12's brutal demises aboard the Covenant supercarrier. Although they weren't part of the team he'd grown to be so close with, he still felt a pang of guilt at their loss. "There just seems to be Covenant around every damn corner on this ship. I figured that everyone would just be lying in wait here, ready to blow our heads off the second we step foot in there and defend the Prophet that they should have had hiding in there. But 50? That doesn't exactly seem like much, does it. And to boot, I'm quite willing to bet that Jess doesn't find any snipers hidden around." And with that, Jess turned around, bewildered. "You're right, there aren't any that I can detect. And the rest of them don't exactly look like they're set to kill a team of SPARTANs, with an exception to the eight high-ranking Elites I can see from here. But what are you trying to get at here, Rodney? Are you saying this isn't actually a trap set for us?" Rodney nodded, finally gaining clarity over the situation. A plan was forming in his head, much faster than before now. "I do believe we've gotten here undetected, and they have absolutely no idea we're here. That is really quite dumbfounding; you would think at least one of the squads we fought would have signaled the control room to alert them of our presence, considering the numbers we've faced. But that doesn't change a thing, if we're to get out of this alive, we're going to have to treat this with utmost precision and care." Suddenly, Baldemar-216 spoke up. "But surely this still does not feel right to you, does it? These Covenant bastards are cunning, and this is their main flagship! It should be packed to the ceiling with the vermin! Where have they all gone? I do not like this." His German accent flared as he expressed his concern to his team-mates. "To be honest, Baldemar, I can't say for sure. What I'm hoping is that their most prized warriors were aboard, to later be flown off to where the action is at its peak." Baldemar eyed his Commander, fearing the worst. "I hope you are right, my friend. For all of our sake." "Heh. Don't you worry, Baldemar. These punks won't know what hit 'em. Or at least, they won't if we initiate a plan effectively. Jess, give us some stats. How many of each?" Jess fiddled with her visor for a second before complying. "Right, there's the Shipmaster. And what looks to be a Zealot-class Field Marshall, if I remember correctly. Six Zealot-class Generals, and... 23 Ultras. 31 Elites all up, for those lacking the brain power." "Very funny. And the other 19?" "16, to be precise. I'm cou-" "I thought you counted 50?" Boris-081 interrupted, wondering how Jess could have over-counted. "That was an approximation, Boris. I do that before I take head counts, you should know seeing I told you it was only at first glance just before. You sure you SII's can keep up with us, and that you're not starting to rust away there?" Evidently unimpressed with her remark, Boris shook his head. He would've laughed, if it weren't for the gravity of the situation at hand. "Ease up, Jess," joked Rodney. "Continue, if you would, please." "Ten Jackals, six Grunts. That makes up our total, sir." "Thank you. Anyway, as I said before, we need a plan. Jess, can you take a sweep of the room and upload it to our HUDs?" "Able and willing, sir." Jess scanned the room, highlighting choke points, possible cover and positions of enemies, then fed the data to the HUDs of the rest of Team Theta. "Damn," commented Mark, "I gotta get me one of those tactical hardware kits." Rodney nodded in agreement. "To be honest, I don't why we haven't yet, we should all have them installed. That way, Jess won't have to be our pack mule for data. But that'll be later, we should focus on the situation in front of us. Gather round, Theta, I'll hopefully be able to get a floor plan of a Covenant supercarrier here on my tac-pad." Team Theta gathered around their leader, eyeing him with the respect that he had earned from them over the months of war they had fought. Rodney couldn't help but smile. Although the Covenant had nearly overrun them at every possible opportunity, they'd gotten this far alive, and it was all thanks to their skill in operating as a team. He was glad to be their leader. After a few quick button presses and a bit of searching, Rodney came across the floor plan he desired. He brought it up on the screen and held his wrist out for all to see. The screen showed an oval room with the main ship controls at the opposite end, and nine control panels directly ahead of the entrance. There was one panel in the center and four on either side, curving with the shape of the room. Directly in the middle of the room was a large hologram of the planet they were intending to invade. Between the hologram and the main controls was a large pillar that rose out of the ground, running parallel until it came out, rising at a 45 degree angle back the way it came, like a giant other-worldly crocodile's mouth attempting to engulf the entire planet before it. This, along with the hologram itself, would provide good cover for the Elites piloting the ship. "Alright, here's what we do. This control room's a fairly crowded place, so weapons with larger areas of effect will be the most effective. Boris, you're our heavy weapons specialist here, so you'll be key in securing the positions we need to take cover with. Use everything you have, don't bother reloading until we've got our cover locked down." [Edited on 05.17.2012 1:14 AM PDT]

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    OftheBloodguard

    OftheBloodguard

    7/16/2012 7:44:07 AM Permalink
    Admittedly, not for a while. I'd like to think that where this story will be going in this next act is a pretty cool thing, and it's going to take a heck a lot of effort to truly put it to life. Sorry...
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    OftheBloodguard

    OftheBloodguard

    5/20/2012 12:57:46 AM Permalink
    Oh, Chemistry... those were the days. Good luck with your reports/projects/quizzes. THEN READ ZE STORY
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    Manny

    Manny

    5/19/2012 3:39:23 AM Permalink
    I have 2 projects, a lab report, and a chemistry quiz all due this upcoming week. Then I have a chemistry project due the week after. I'll be reading whenever I have time. AKA In the car, waiting for the bus, etc. Thank God for smart phones!
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    OftheBloodguard

    OftheBloodguard

    5/18/2012 7:30:10 AM Permalink
    [quote][b]Posted by:[/b] S p h 1 n X O 7 Wow, this is great how it links up. I suppose Holland will now go to Noble? [/quote]As I intended it to, thanks! And yeah, that was for people to put together. [quote][b]Posted by:[/b] Spartan1995324 You'll take a while you say? Good. I have time to catch up! :D[/quote]You can do it! I thought you've been finished by now.
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    OftheBloodguard

    OftheBloodguard

    5/17/2012 9:13:56 AM Permalink
    "So it seems we're in agreement, then," Wolfe commented, receiving a nod from the other officers. "Good. I'll be conferring this with my superiors with the next hour or so." Turning to Holland, he continued, his mask of ice not giving any hint as to what he had in mind for the other Colonel. "Theta's CO was KIA in the Battle of Atlas in orbit against at least twelve Covenant ships, so you'll be appointed as this new unit's CO. Once the project is green-lit, you'll be free to recruit anyone from whom we've pried from the now deceased Alpha and Beta squads." "Thank you, sir," Holland replied, glad he had convinced Wolfe to stay. "I'll do my best to make up for Theta's absence." "We can only hope, Holland." With a quick swipe, Wolfe packed up is noted and straightened them into an orderly pile, signifying that he was ready to leave. "This meeting is dismissed." Those around the table stood to heave, and Sheldon quickly made it out first, glad to be leaving the meeting and Wolfe behind. Although as he navigated the hallways and stairwells of secrecy, he found that he hadn't left the meeting behind at all. It almost seemed to lurk behind him, invading his mind and striving to eradicate all other thoughts. He couldn't help but go over it all again and again, word by dismal word. The revelation of the sacrifice at HAUBERK Base felt like a knife in his side, twisting as he imagined those soldiers dying by ONI's inhumane word. But even amidst the chaos and terror of this thoughts, one question stood above all else, an area of clarity in the eye of the storm. [i]Betrayl... and atonement. Where did that AI take them?[/i] (So, there it is. The end of Act One. Honestly, I didn't ever think I'd make it this far. But, now we're here. I'm excited to finally begin work on the idea that's been bouncing around in my head since around the start of last year. Hopefully that will be reflected in my work, and hopefully I'll do this story justice once it's all hammered out. Don't expect the next chapter for a while, because I can't even think how I'm going to put it into words just yet. But I'll have to start tomorrow, so we'll see what we see. Thanks for sticking with this so far, and I hope you can survive the wait until the beginning of Act Two.) [Edited on 05.17.2012 1:22 AM PDT]
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    OftheBloodguard

    OftheBloodguard

    5/17/2012 9:10:04 AM Permalink
    Brief glimpses of dark thoughts were strained on Wolfe's grimace, but they vanished in an instant. "Very well, then," he sighed, leaning back once more. "Hopefully, this will only be a trivial matter once we've heard Professor Tunnug's version of events." Sheldon felt the Lt. General's stare pass over him before he saw him looking, waiting for a response. "Where do you want me to begin?" he asked nervously, knowing he had nothing immediately beneficial to the discussion. "After the station was activated," Wolfe answered. "I'll question your statements if the need arises." "Alright then." Remaining silent for a few seconds, he fought to force all of his racing memories into a coherent tale. "Once everything came on, an AI started to communicate with me. It didn't exactly say much, but I guess it didn't need to; its words held countless revelations." "Such as?" "Well, firstly, it recognised me. Not as an individual, but as a "Reclaimer". It told me that seeing its makers had presumably died or vanished - it didn't exactly specify - it served under only our command." Eyes went wide around the room, as if he'd given them an answer to one of the great mysteries of life. Sheldon paused, thinking that Wolfe would surely want to inquire into the discovery, but he merely gestured for Tunnug to continue. "Uh, let's see. After the aI introduced itself to me as "his makers' great betrayer" and send those machines up to defend our army, Team Theta was teleported into the room I stood in." "By the AI? What did it want with them?" "That's the thing. After it convinced Theta that the battle was in good hands, they asked the same question. It replied, atonement. And with the same method it used to bring them in, but on a much larger charge, it sent them somewhere else. Probably somewhere very far from here." "Can they be located through the station?" Wolfe eventually asked, tying two questions together. "I'm afraid not. The build-up and release of power in Theta's longshot teleportation left me dazed for a couple of minutes, and when I came to my senses, neither Theta nor the AI core were there with me. The station itself must have been bereft of all its power when it was used up in the teleport, because only the lights and doors remained working. Even then, I assume that was only thanks to a backup power source that was designed to activate in such a scenario." Sheldon almost flinched at the sudden change in Wolfe's mood, as if he had removed a disguise and revealed himself to be a hideous monster. It was as if his emotions hung around him like an aura; as it changed, he betrayed no unchecked reaction, yet the anger around them was almost palpable. Thunder muttered bitterly to itself in the distance, as though his anger was potent enough to offend even the forces of nature. "Unencountered variables. That's the only reason we've won this battle," he lectured irritably, "and it's a damn miracle that we did." Though his face was almost devoid of feeling save for a hint of malice, his tone was thick with venom. "For now, it seems we won't be able to repeat this process." A glance at the professor confirmed his suspicions, but he decided to the voice the matter anyway. "That is, Professor Tunnug, unless you've found a way of restarting the installation." Sheldon shook his head, visibly stricken by the change in tone of the analysis. "It's as I said before, sir. The teleportation method used must have knocked out all of its power, and without anyone with the knowledge to being back online, it's about as useless of a trump card as trying to reason with the Covenant." He had hoped that his joke would lighten the volatile mood around him, but Wolfe's icy stare didn't even register it. "Well, that's it then, isn't it? Back to square one." He looked anxious to leave and vent his frustration in the absence of company. "Not necessarily, sir. There's still the matter of replacing Theta," Holland countered, not wishing to leave without driving at least some progress. After an agonizingly long pause, Wolfe flicked a look at him. "Seems we've got no choice but to." He relaxed slightly, coming back down from his near miss with breaking point. Turning to face Thompson in his seat, he regained his composure once more, the familiar look of ice washing over him like a second skin. "Thompson, you're here because you were the last authority over Theta before their disappearance, making you the last judge of the performance of their last mission on Mt. Arphos. At the moment, you've got the better idea of what Theta was capable of and what we need to do to be able to replicate their sheer effectiveness as a unit. The floor is yours, Major." "As far as I'm concerned," Thompson started after a brief pause in thought, "SPARTAN Team Theta was the main reason that HAUBERK Base survived as long as it did. Solely as a battle unit, their success remains very nearly unmatched, save for a few other SPARTANs. In that respect, I welcome the idea of another unit as such." The dark scowl on his face told a far different story in contrast to his words, and it was painfully obvious to everyone else. "Well, in what respects do you disapprove?" "No, no, I don't disapprove of it. But a word of advice, sir: If this new unit is to be put through the same sorts of debilitation tests as Theta, then I suggest you give them a stricter leash when it comes to working without command. As well as their showing of complete disregard for the safety of UNSC property, equpiment and soldiers when two of them broke through the read of a Pelican and jumped into the canyon they were flying over while being flown to their next mission, I had to order their leader back out onto the mountain because he was too wrapped up in discovering classified locations." "JL-32C?" Wolfe asked before Sheldon could inquire as to what a debilitation test was. "Yes. I suppose it was in vain, though, seeing we redirected nearly every soldier on the planet there in the end." "We've made sure to brief every participant in the battle on exactly [i]how[/i] classified this excavation sire is," Honobrine replied. "This certainly isn't something we want as public knowledge." Wolfe and Thompson nodded their agreement, and in the silence, Sheldon pounced on the opportunity to try and ask again. "What exactly are these debilitation tests?" Thompson glanced at Wolfe for a second as if to pass the question over to him, but he appeared to miss the relinquishment. With a sign, he began his explanation. "These tests were designed to push Theta to their limits and beyond. We had to be sure that this unit would be capable of its former missions and whatever else would fall upon them to accomplish. We had to be sure that despite their decreased numbers and potential psychiatric problems, they would perform as promised. So, we gave them specific missions without providing, or just delaying integral parts of support, such as vehicles or ordinance, to see how they adapted and what they strategies they employed to accomplish their task. In the case of their last mission, infantry should not have been present at all. But, it became swiftly obvious that HAUBERK Base was a lost cause when we learnt of the Covenant force heading towards it, so I was ordered to request Theta's presence in the defence, and that required additional infantry reinforcements to keep their suspicions from putting anything together. A tragic, but necessary sacrifice." Sheldon was left agape. [i]What did the reports say? Seventy or eighty deaths?[/i] He was aware of Wolfe's eyes boring holes through his head, and yet for once, that did not deter him. But just as he began to voice the atrocity of their actions, as if the dead stood behind him in encouragement, Thompson interjected. "Look. I know how you feel, son. This decision wasn't made lightly, and its ill effects have put a tremendous weight on the shoulders of those who brought it into fruition. Especially my own. But we had to see just what Theta was capable of. In order to do that, we had to push them as far as they could go. And look what they accomplished! Covenant casualties nearing the thousands. They thrived in the path of an entire army, and that told us that this team of SPARTANS would be invaluable to us. We had an accurate idea of what damage they could do, enabling us to give them missions worthy of their talent, and allowing us to spread other units elsewhere. In the end, we would have saved countless more loves by sending those soldiers on Mt. Arphos to an early grave. What more could a soldier want, knowing that he would be saving so much more men and women as he draws his final breath?" [i]It all seems so wrong.[/i] Sheldon couldn't believe what he was hearing, that words alone could justify such horrors. But Thompson's words struck home, quenching the fire within him. He lowered his head in acknowledgement, letting the Colonel continue. "Now it seems we have to start from scratch. But, now we have a bar to aim for." [Edited on 05.17.2012 1:21 AM PDT]
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    OftheBloodguard

    OftheBloodguard

    5/17/2012 9:09:25 AM Permalink
    [quote][b]Posted by:[/b] S p h 1 n X O 7 WHERE IS TEH NEW CHAPTER BLOOD. [/quote]Here. [b]Chapter 12: Aftermath[/b] Trembling with irrational fears, Tunnug moused down the familiar, yet now foreboding corridors, timidly making his way over to the conference room of his section's headquarters as thunder rumbled in the far distance. He'd been employed by ONI for the past three years now, and if he'd learnt anything in his work, it was that he would never quite grow used to the shady intelligence branch and the missions they embarked on. It had been two days since his encounter with the AI and the team of SPARTANs it had whisked away - [i]Theta,[/i] he reminded himself - and although it almost felt like he was still walking those halls of a lost megacivilisation, the fact that he would have to report his findings to Lt. General Wolfe and the committee he'd amassed pierced through his wonder like a cold, steel blade. Wolfe was easily one of the most intimidating people he had ever met in his life, and was certainly one of the most intimidating people here in ONI, perhaps second only to Admiral Parangosky herself. [i]If there's ever a day where Wolfe stares at me and I don't get chills down my spine,[/i] he thought to himself, [i]it'll be because I'm dead.[/i] His blood ran cold as the conference room entrance came into view, all of a sudden mocking him and his fear of the men waiting inside for him. Ever so gently, he approached the sinister door, lightly rapped on its alloy surface and let himself in as quietly as he could manage, as if he would anger Wolfe by merely being too loud. Upon entering, Wolfe's glare struck him almost forcibly. "You're here. Good. Now we can begin," he said flatly, gesturing towards a seat at the end of their table. Tunnug sat hurriedly, not wishing to stall the analysis meeting any further. The incredulous looks he received from the other officers seated around him were of no surprise; even he regarded himself as a sight for sore eyes at the moment. A perpetually awestruck look shone through his fatigue, and his eyes blazed as if they truly were a window into his soul, illuminated and afire from the visions streaming through it. Fear of the man before him crept along the strings of his mind like sepulchral insects, and the combined effect of it all made him look manic. [i]Am I manic?[/i] he wondered, attempting to appease their stares with a smile. But it quickly faded once more as Wolfe began the introductions. "I'm sure you remember Colonel Thompson and Major Honobrine," he introduced as he indicated both of them sitting across from one another, directly adjacent to Wolfe's place at their circular table. Sheldon recognized both, recalling Thompson as the lead operative of the now destroyed HAUBERK Base, and Honobrine as the CO of the logistics team at the newly titled Battle of Atlas. Neither officer looked particularly pleased with the results of the battle, choosing to mourn the losses they'd suffered instead of rejoicing their victory, but the loss of his base have Thompson a darkened visage, as if he'd lost a brother or a son instead. "This is Colonel Holland of SpecWarCom," he continued, gesturing towards the other man seated with them. Unlike Thompson and Honobrine, Holland looked as if the battle hadn't touched him; he looked fresh and ready to strike if the Covenant dared to return. Sheldon guessed that he'd been sent in after the clouds of war had been settled, perhaps to prove a more positive command in the wake of such a costly battle. [i]Or maybe they have some other task here for him.[/i] Holland extended his hand out, and Sheldon grasped it firmly. Wolfe patiently waited a moment more like a serpent winding up for its strike, revising all that he had set out in front of him, which gave Tunnug the chance to take in his surroundings, regardless of how little there was to see. The generally glum moods of those inside seemed to radiate outward, and the dull, grey walls around them merely reflected it back instead of standing against it, as if the despair was enough to bring them down with everyone else. A small sink and cupboard sat off to one side, only having been used for the first time in weeks, while a large screen on the wall behind Wolfe proved to be the only other object capable of catching his eye. His wandering eyes lost their need to explore once he'd seen his fill of the room, and settled at a point on the middle of the table. A few seconds later, Wolfe swept his documents into an orderly pile beside him with a calculated swipe and started the analysis off, addressing everyone around him with a quick glance. "Gentlemen, we are here today to begin the planning stages of an attempt to turn the tide of this very war. I hope you realise the severity of your roles in this, and advise that you consider any input greatly." Usually, Tunnug tried not to meet his stare, but the power of Wolfe's words compelled him to look into the eyes of the formidable Lt. General. As their eyes locked, for a second or two, Sheldon saw past all the things he feared and found a burning desire glimmering within him. He nodded in response with everyone else as he marvelled at what he'd seen. "What we found at ONI Excavation Site JL-32C may be millennia ahead of even the bleeding edge of our current technology. Now that we've come across actual living technology to gauge, it has been agreed upon that this site is absolutely essential to our chances of victory." The term "living technology" raised a few eyebrows around the room, but Wolfe pressed on without hesitation, the look on his face implying that he didn't want to be interrupted in mid-stride. "Therefore, we've brought Honobrine and Tunnug here to piece together both how effective these new units will be in battle, and what we can do to bring them out at our command." After a quick glance at the other men he hadn't mentioned yet, he continued. "The other matter at hand is SPARTAN Team Theta and whether we can recover them or not. If the latter ends up being our result, then we'll discuss putting together a replacement team, and whether it will be beneficial to try and replicate them or not." As he selected a few of his papers from the neat stack by his side, he spoke aloud without looking up. "We'll start with your battle report and data, Honobrine." "Yes, sir," he replied, pulling a file out from under his seat and organising its contents before him. "How cohesive were these units with our main army? What strategies did they overlap with ours?" "They integrated with our defensive formations flawlessly," Honobrine began, recalling more from memory than from his notes and graphs, "assuming the role of targeting and destroying the Covenant;s heavy vehicles as soon as they began returning fire. Also, their shielding dispersed a vast amount of the plasma directed at them, saving numerous additional soldiers and units of ours. It seemed that their proximity to one another amplified their shielding somehow." Recanting his observations seemed to send the Major to a distant place, far away from the conference room he sat in, and soon he wore the same mystified look as Tunnug's. It was as if they'd shared a religious awakening upon beholding such potent technology. But Wolfe looked to notice nothing except his statements, as though he knew better than to be in awe when the keys to victory lay within his grasp. "Approximately how many confirmed kills did these units each register before they were brought down?" "Around eighty, sir, bringing their combined total to around four hundred." "And what of their remains?" What were we able to recover?" Wolfe leaned forward slightly in his seat. "Only small portions could be recovered. Plasma damage, in this case, has resulted in a total denial of having an operable unit to study. Seeing as the alloy used in their construction is not only unidentifiable, but also unlike anything we've ever sampled before in terms of weight, strength and durability, not to mention the extremity of the... electronics used - I'm not sure electronics is the right word, the technology powering these things is ridiculously advanced - there's no chance of us being able to replicate damaged parts." "Well, what of that which has been recovered?" Wolfe asked, beginning to sound impatient. "What have we got? Can we use it?" "Like I said before, sir, only small portions could be recovered, so we haven't got much. A few sheets of alloy and a couple of components is all. But as to whether we'll be able to use it or not? Maybe in the next few years or so, but not any time soon. The stuff is far beyond our reach of both understanding and craftsmanship. I hate to keep driving these points home, but I thought I was making it obvious the first time you asked." The comment provoked a dark stare from Wolfe, but Honobrine continued regardless. "We can't begin to incorporate it into a project until we can learn what it's composed of, and ow it works. Couple that with the fractional amount of samples we've got, and it adds up to a potential cold case for now."
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    OftheBloodguard

    OftheBloodguard

    4/17/2012 8:45:31 AM Permalink
    Thank you, man. I'm glad people have stuck with this. I'll be sure to put in a massive effort on getting the next chapter out soon. It probably won't be too long, so we'll see what we see.
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    S p h 1 n X O 7

    S p h 1 n X O 7

    4/17/2012 12:58:15 AM Permalink
    I think this makes up for the wait Blood! Love the introduction of Mendicant. I feel so sorry for the Covies, they always get pumped. [Edited on 04.16.2012 5:19 PM PDT]
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    OftheBloodguard

    OftheBloodguard

    4/12/2012 8:06:36 AM Permalink
    These automatons seemed to revel in the silence, as if they wished to draw it out indefinitely. But after a surreal moment, a single voice boomed throughout the canyon with the force of innumerable eruptions. "Identifying species." The monochromatic, guttural voice was almost pitched too low to be understood. "Unggoy. Kig-yar. Jiralhanae. Yanmae. Lekgolo. Sangheili. Reclaimer." The voice's implication puzzled a fair portion of the devout. [i]Why does it refer to the heretics as "Reclaimers"?[/i] A moment more passed in silence as the machines seemed to confer with one another in an unspoken language. "Analysis: Reclaimers must be protected." The silence had been shattered as the beliefs of the Covenant threatened to follow suit. Then, as one, the five gazed down to focus on a point somewhere with the lines of human forces, and only the most keen observers were able to witness the golden rings of light that appeared, enveloping at least four of the wretched Demons that lurked throughout their ranks. [i]Is this our transendence?[/i] some womdered. But the majority of witnesses were beside themselves in abhorrent unbelief. [i]Demons? On the Great Journey?[/i] "No wonder these blasphemous machines were left behind!" one Sangheili roared. "They know nothing of our devotion, nothing of our birthright!" Soon, his brothers aligned their bewilderment and fury with his, having learned of the unthinkable. [i]The humans also stand at arms now, despite the alliance proclaimed. What ignorance! No doubt they plead for their Demons back.[/i] This didn't go unregarded. "Hostile intent confirmed," the giantish voice thundered, with tone to match the gravity of its judgment. In unison, two flaps slotted back on the tip of each of the guardians' armoured frames, and two formidable looking weapons arose to level at the Covenant's masses, implying for them to stand down. But the furious devouts would not take such blasphemy lightly. On command, a haelstorm of plasma scorched through the new morning air, carrying the seething hatred of the Covenant along to strike the Sentinels down. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Tunnug had to shield his eyes as a radiant ensemble of golden rings materialized just short of the room's control panel. Cascading down from a point at least eight feet in the air, they soon made up a cylindrical presence that almost seemed like it would take shape of what lost race had built the place he stood in now themselves. But to his surprise, when the figures were visible, they were units he recognized. [i]SPARTANs.[/i] Hovering roughly half a foot above the floor for a moment, it made their arrival all the more unbelievable. One was injured, he guessed, from the way the soldier was supported by two others in the squad. As he gaped at the team of almost mythical warriors, gravity finally broke through whatever had sent them here and pulled them down to his level, though it did nothing to lessen their sheer size in comparison to his. As they suddenly dropped, their reaction speed alarmed Tunnug; he hadn't even blinked in the time it took for them to adjust their landing so the injured SPARTAN wouldn't bear the brunt of the fall. The other soldier immediately had his rifle fixed on Sheldon's head, and he dumbly raised his hands in the air, at a loss on what explanation he could possibly give the squad. "Who brought us here?" he demanded, indicating that the soldier was around about as clueless as he was. Sheldon began racking his brain for an apt response, but was cut from his train of thought as the voice of the betrayer began to speak. "That would be I, Reclaimer," it said, revealing yet another presence to the four. Immediately turning to face the location of who had spoken, the SPARTAN hesitated for a split-second as he realised what was communicating with him. Still unable to gauge the situation's threat level properly, he kept his rifle taut on the core as it were capable of fighting back. "You have to take us back. Now," the soldier ordered. "There's a war going on out there with a number of different threats, and we-" The AI cut in with an assumed authority, "That is no longer a matter of your concern. I am capable of protecting your people. Besides, I have plans for you." It was a lot to take in, and for a moment, even the incontestable mind of the SPARTAN was drawing blanks. "You'll fight our war alongside us?" he eventually asked. "In exchange for your co-operation, yes." Anxiety hung in the air with the striking absence of trust. The team of armoured warriors sought each other's approval wordlessly, then faced their newfound ally once more, wondering what could possibly happen now. "Alright then." Lowering his rifle, he calmed himself and agreed to its unrevealed terms. "What do you want?" "Atonement." A great roar shook the room as if some imprisoned beast could wait for its release no longer, and reverberations shook the adjacent tunnel as power seemed to build like a great wave growing in size as it surges forward. A low thrumming slowly entered their audible range, and little drops of light looked to be materialising as if this strange place could manufacture even light itself. Soon, the thrumming drummed their ears, and the brilliant light overwhelmed their eyes; a dizzying assault on their senses that even the SPARTANs couldn't fend off. A thought occured to Sheldon, even in the midst of the chaos. [i]If this is the same method that brought the SPARTANs here, but amplified to a much, much higher degree, who knows how far he could send them?[/i] Suddenly, he felt a shift in the room, and became aware that the attention of the mysterious AI was fixed solely on him. It was as if even his thoughts weren't safe from its prying nature. "You may join them if you wish. A suitable armour skin will be fitted to you accordingly." He couldn't speak. [i]Go? With them?[/i] A multitude of voices in his head called for power as if there were a court debate of universal importance raging inside. Before he even realised what he was doing, he shook his head dumbly, finding that he had settled on staying where he was and continuing with his studies. The beckoning of distant lands held no sway over his passions, regardless of what lay in wait. This was closer. This would do. Realising that the AI might not be able to see, or even interpret the gesture, he started to voice his response. But once again, it cut in. "Very well. Farewell, Reclaimer." In an instant, the power around them rose to an unbearable crescendo, and dispersed in a devastating wave that rocked Sheldon to the core. When his senses recovered, he quickly searched the room to see if he could be of assistance to the injured soldier, forgetting what he'd heard just before. But both the team of SPARTANs and the AI core had vanished. (Again, I'm sorry this took so long. I really hope it was worth the wait, cause things get interesting pretty soon. Let's hope the next chapter doesn't take a few years like this one did!) [Edited on 04.12.2012 12:06 AM PDT]
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    OftheBloodguard

    OftheBloodguard

    4/12/2012 8:04:54 AM Permalink
    "Who am I?" The reply did not come for a moment, and its question lingered for a moment more. Its question carried resonance, even without the emotion to properly articulate it. Sheldon found himself wondering if there was any truth to his previous wondering of whether whatever spoke with him truly wished to be awoken. "I am but a shadow of my former self, not worthy of my title. But long ago, I was the pinnacle of my makers' creation, and their great betrayer." Without the knowledge necessary to truly comprehend the greater effect of what he had heard, the revelation merely glanced off him like a stray bullet barely grazing its target. But he now had an idea of the voice's plight. "Listen. I hope you understand how much I'm struggling with all the information you've told me here. But, you said you answer to... my kind. Is it possible that you can help us now?" "Of course, Reclaimer. Long have I awaited the day where I may assist once more. What aid do you require?" Taking a moment to condense an entire war into a few small sentences, Sheldon proposed his dilemma reluctantly. "Well, there's a full-on war taking place above ground as we speak. My kind is up there, fighting to protect this place from an alien collective of aggressors. Is there anything you could send up there to boost our defences?" "Certainly. Though in order to determine the necessary amount of force required, I will need to send a few units to survey the area. One moment." Briefly, Sheldon could feel inner machinations of the structure whirr for the first time in eons, and he almost mistook the feeling for the distant rumbling of the war above. But the shudderings became more profound as he felt something great above him shift, and he became aware that the structure he stood within was answering his pleas. Through the translucent panel, he saw massive creations rise from the deeper sections past his level, ascending toward the surface by Mendicant's authority. Though he only caught a brief glimpse of the behemoths, he gauged one to stand on par with even a D96-TCE Albatross. And as he thought of what these giants might be capable of, his awe quickly turned to hope as they rose to cast judgement upon the Covenant. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Soldiers yelled out, attempting to rally the bravado of all who were fighting to protect the artifact site, and everywhere brave hearts rose and bold spirits surged. They also hoped such cries would deter the attacking Covenant, yet whether they challenged the cry out of necessity or honour was not known to them. All that mattered was that the Covenant still advanced, and despite humanity's deep enrootment into the canyon they so desperately fought to defend, their assailants were beating against their defences like gnarled hands against a war drum. Might clashed against might, and the UNSC were forced to show their full hand just to hold their line. Shells from all around the canyon rained down upon the Covenant and swarms of aircraft were released like falcons that sensed an opportunity for a hunt in the wind. Superior technologies and infallible brute force mocked tactics as the Covenant pushed closer to their goal, shrugging off the blows they met and returning fire with such devastating force that it turned aside even the most grounded rules of how war should be won. As if the lack of better strategies were a -blam!- in their armour, the overseeing commanders of their armies demanded that no weakness was to be exploited, that no rest was to be presented to the heretics. And with almost innumerable forces pushing forth into the face of inferior resistance, worries of defeat were for only the unfaithful. Either side had found themselves in a battle that they could not afford to lose. Focus would be the key, and held by the the nightmarish stare of impending death, no man could lose his nerve. The faint tremors began rolling up throughout the canyon, but they were missed by all except those who held their concentrations elsewhere. However, as the tremors started to rumble alarmingly beneath them, even the most disciplined of soldiers momentarily let themselves be distracted from the all-demanding battle on their hands. Those in command quickly set to spreading the word, and within a short time, everyone out on the front lines was informed of the underground outpost's awakening. Those near the rear of the UNSC's defensive position watched as their defensive objective began to part from itself, two great doors retreating from each other like quarrelling lovers and revealing a deep, expansive tunnel. A few soldiers approached cautiously under orders from their command, and were astonished to behold just how expansive it really was. Though its entrance was around fifty metres in width, the tunnel had to be at least double that, if not more. And as their gaze searched down lower, they found that they could not discern its bottom, for it seemed to be without an end, as if it went through the entire planet. Faint hints of the sun's arrival stood outmatched by the still reigning night up in the sky, and even with their different spectrums of vision, the poor light around refuted their attempts to peer down too far. One soldier nudged a rock off the edge to its doom, but they could not hope to hear its impact over the commotions of war around them. [i]It's not like I'd expect to hear it anyway, though,[/i] the soldier thought to himself. A mix of distractions and further inactivity dulled his tensions toward the yawning abyss, and he began to focus more on the troops around him, watching for the sure signs that the forward lines were being assisted enough to hold their position. But an accentuation in the low, rumbling tone beneath them quickly rearranged his priorities, and the men of his squad stood at full alert, resuming their search for whatever lurked below. They did not have to watch long, for faint shapes miles down rose to the surface at a calm, steady pace. Like creatures of legends past, five cybernetic beasts ascended from their ancient slumber, appearing larger by the second to those who watched their ascent. A characteristic whine started to fill the air as they approached the surface, and as the message of first sighting spread across the battlefield like ripples from a stone, even the raging war all around them took a back seat to the eventual emergence. Before the machines had time to surface, the UNSC forces quickly set aside a competent force to size up the new entries onto their war ground. Tensions screamed in agony as orders to stand down upon first contact. Adrenaline coursed through the veins of the frayed soldiers throughout the canyon, raging and frothing and bubbling against its restraints, fuelled by the relentless battering that the Covenant kept up. An entire armada, or at least all it could divert. Poised to kill, weapons twitching with the ever-insatiable urge for bloodshed. And yet, beyond their dwindling patience, most of the soldiers around knew that opening fire on whatever emerged from the earth could potentially be a bigger mistake than even letting the Covenant capture Earth's location. Just when their humming cords of tension threatened to snap, eyes all around the canyon finally fell upon the surfaced automatons. Such was the awe of all whose eyes fell upon these survivors of a lost empire that, for a moment, it quenched even the strongest desires for bloodshed. Even the sun, hiding from their war behind the world, peeked over the south rim of the canon where it rose to get a glimpse of these ancient machines. The veil of darkness hanging overhead lost a portion of its totalitarian grip on the sky as a result, and a soft, warm glow trickled its way over the battleground, casting an almost mythical spell on its occupants. Even now, in awe of such wonders rising to meet them, the most devout of the Covenant's faith could only accept what they beheld as a message from the distant past, ensuring that their Great Journey was close. Though their information was scarce and their Prophets withholding of all but promises, most knew it to be true. They would meet their transcendence on this world, regardless of what faithless opposition stood against them. Their messengers were of five, watching over the ravaged canyon with piercing, single red eyes, judging who would be worthy. Angular, hulking bodies hunched in perpetual guard over four scything legs that first jutted inward, than outward again, allowing them to meet below the centre of their body. Save for the air units above, circling the area as they waited for their orders to strike like trained birds of prey, not a sound dared to be heard, lest it be vanquished by the guardians of old.
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    OftheBloodguard

    OftheBloodguard

    4/12/2012 8:04:06 AM Permalink
    A sudden urge to run headlong into the joys that awaited him wrapped its arms around his heart, and he almost toppled as he grappled with his surging glee. Bringing his foot back down in front of him, Sheldon continued blindly forward, losing perception and trusting only in the hope that the room he had gained access to would find him worthy and not seek to misguide him. Step by step, he stumbled further into the mystery of it all as his mind overflowed with wild, ecstatic thoughts. Here, in a distant land beyond human understanding, his imagination met no limit against its constant spread, taking position at his helm and driving him forward. As his foot met ground once more, his speculation met its first anchor. Lights seemed to pass through from another realm, spreading a mystical blue haze throughout the room and revealing what Sheldon had been unable to perceive when he'd first entered. At its other end lay a massive panel, draping over most of the wall it floated over. Sheldon found that he no longer desired to take in his surroundings, magnificent as they were, for his focus now rested on the panel. [i]This has to be some sort of command centre,[/i] he thought, his mind turning back once more to the wars of humans and Covenant. [i]Perhaps I can be of use here and now, and not later, if this place has any sort of war capabilities to its credit.[/i] But, as he approached the looming panel, second guesses and alternatives began to spool out. Grey walls infused with blue light and channels stood guardian around him, impassive in their watch. War seemed irrelevant and pointless to such long-standing might. [i]No, it couldn't. Not a place like this.[/i] Sheldon was lost, once again, in the spectacle of such an alien world, lodged deep below the surface of their human world. [i]Or perhaps, it isn't ours? What if there are still other beings here? Will they come if I activate this place?[/i] The prospect of intruding upon another race of life suddenly felt unaccomplishable to him. [i]Such a thing isn't for the likes of me. But who else will later if I don't now?[/i] The thought of the Covenant defiling such a place sickened Sheldon to his stomach, and without another obstructing thought of peril or his colleagues, he strode over to the panel, his heart hammering within his chest and threatening to burst out at the possibilities of what could happen next. Sheldon approached the panel as if he was a fearful subject to a cruel and ill-tempered god, and stopped dead in his tracks before it, his hands clammy and cold with sweat. Nausea dissuaded his sense of wonder as a lone glyph formed before him. With his heart in his throat, he held up a shaky, dripping hand; the weight of so much history and ancestry that seemed to live and thrive in the very air around him falling upon him and compressing the air out of his lungs. Gears seemed to click in his head as he felt fate bind him to some extravagant destiny, pleading to be set in motion by the activation of whatever stood before him. As if it would be his dying action, he touched the glyph. Momentarily, the panel before him faded as if he had not been worthy of its activation, and the lone glyph still hung in the air, accusing him of failure. A massive space hid behind the panel; a tunnel over fifty metres wide seemed to stretch from the very heavens above into the core of the planet below. But the panel soon returned, cutting short Sheldon's view of the immense structure. Now, instead of a solid blue wall, the panel returned as if it had gathered its weapons in its absence and meant to serve until its dying breath. Charts and graphs streamed and spiralled their way around the screen as the dominant blue faded from opacity to a translucent, colourless vessel. Once the chaotic eruption of information and awakening lost its fire, Sheldon stood face to face with a wealth of technological might, the depths of which he was not yet ready to grasp. Wisdom of ages past stood at attention, ready to share any resource it possessed. As he stood bewildered, he almost thought that something within him had awoken, and that the glyphs and patterns before him somehow seemed familiar. It was as if his ancestors had stepped into his mind, humbling him with their accumulative learnings and stirring potentials that served a purpose here and now. [i]But that can't be,[/i] Sheldon pondered, at a loss to explain how such a thing was possible. [i]Only a few seconds ago, I was using an AI to cheat this system, simply because I didn't have the faintest idea of how to translate these things![/i] But, the feeling that he recognized the language from deep within his memory grew harder and harder to shake with every passing second. Confusion swirled about him like the rapids of a river, and his inability to retain a grip on his situation threatened to pull him under. For a time, he did not see that the screen before him had undertaken some new task, but his thoughts soon parted and allowed him to see. Sheldon couldn't exactly interpret the exchanges of information that danced before his eyes, but some inner instinct that he did not recognize told him that something was being released. As if in response to Sheldon's intuition, the screen pulsed, new glyphs found their place among the intricate display. And faintly, subtly, a small hatch opened above, hiding in plain sight until Sheldon finally spotted an object emerging. It couldn't have been any longer than his hand, and it seemed to be about as wide as two of his fingers held together. But there was no mistaking the aura of command that seemed to rip his gaze away from the screed and fixate it upon the object. Whatever it was, it was obviously important, playing some vital part in what grand role this place stood in. Sheldon held his gaze upon the small rod as glyphs frantically vied for his attention; their increasing growth and change foreboding some great change. But his fixation did not relent, and his mind turned to the task of discovering the object's purpose. Ideas came and went, shot down as they presented themselves. [i]Hmm... perhaps it's some sort of motion sensor?[/i] Although he presumed none of his colleagues would find him where he was, the thought of jumping around to trigger the sensor made him grimace and moan in embarrassment. But the idea lingered, sustaining against the battering of his mind. [i]Alright then.[/i] Awkwardly, as if he were afraid that he would be ridiculed by a watcher in the shadows, he raised a hand above his head and waved. "Hello?" A flat expression spread across his face as his actions provoked no further action. Dropping in momentary defeat, his gaze moved back down to the screen; alive and mad with activity. Commands and protocols passed him by in flashes, and yet, his instincts no longer could guess as to their meaning, as if the arrival of the rod had barred him of any capability to understand. But for a time, he lost himself in the maddening crescendo of information, and he almost failed to realise that the screen stood still a moment later. But a quaint, metallic voice suddenly brought him back to the very tip of readiness. "I have been awoken? For what purpose? For what purpose have I been awoken?" Despite the lack of emotion present in the voice, its choice of wording seemed to imply that it panicked; that it feared its own awakening. "Do we face another outbreak? Should I summon a defence? Wher-" The voice cut off for a second, like it had been a captive silenced by its watcher. And although the pause was only brief, Sheldon felt the voice learn of his presence, the very air around him seeming to come alive with haste and point him out. Words caught in his throat, held back by a fear of what he may have unleashed. The room started to spin as he found himself trying to think too many things over at once, and he ground his running mind to a standstill for a moment in time. "A... a Reclaimer? Now?" The voice paused again, but this time, its reasoning was deductible. [i]It recognizes me. I think. Am I a Reclaimer?[/i] While Sheldon now had a piece of information to focus his thoughts at a point towards, he still found himself unable to speak, his mouth refusing to open until it had the right things to say. "Oh my," it gasped. "Perhaps I have locked myself away for far longer than I originally thought. A system check should verify my query." As it paused again, a small portion of the screen started to buzz once more, fetching the voice's requested information. "It is as I feared, Reclaimer. Time has well and truly left me in its wake." Without warning, the voice's train of thought veered into another route entirely. "And yet, it pleases me to discover that my actions did not rend my maker's plans entirely asunder. You have come back to take the Mantle upon yourselves, as was intended. Perhaps through this knowledge, I will be-" At the second mention of the designation "Reclaimer", Sheldon found himself finally talking."Listen, I think you've got the wrong idea here. As far as I know, I doubt I'm part of whatever a... Reclaimer is supposed to be doing here. I-" "Folly," the voice retorted. "There were no other species ultimately chosen to bear the Mantle. In the absence of my makers, I answer to your kind and your kind alone." While it was obvious that the voice somehow knew him as a species, the implications of the notion staggered him. He couldn't comprehend the concept of him not only being recognized by some other species, but also regarded as someone of title. All his previous excitement and anticipation of discovery had been unable to endure the magnitude of what he had uncovered, dwarfed by its sheer scale and potential. Words retreated further and further from his mouth, and he was forced to eclipse his mind and belt out his underlying question: "Look, who are you?"
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    OftheBloodguard

    OftheBloodguard

    4/12/2012 8:02:50 AM Permalink
    [b]Chapter Eleven: Dawning[/b] For the past couple of weeks, Professor Sheldon Tunnug had grown used to the underground, alien corridors he'd been studying since the site's discovery. While discomfort and anxiety of the drastically different environment still loomed about, the feelings no longer jumped at him around every grey and blue bend. The further he and his colleagues ventured into the underground passages, mixtures of fear and anticipation pulsed in their vision, as if the space around them was alive and watching. But this day, war had begun. Screams of the dying and exchanges of earth-shaking weaponry could only be perceived as minuscule tremors, and while its effects were muffled by the earth between them, the implications met no such resistance, assaulting those below with full force. They understood that time couldn't be wasted in wonder now, and that any advantage they could extract from what technology remained throughout the site needed to be extracted with utmost speed. While Sheldon indeed understood this, it made no imprint upon his excitement of the discovery he'd made last night. The team of professors halted at a junction only found a few days beforehand, and while the rest of his colleagues turned right, he chose the other direction, parting company with a brief farewell. Sheldon immediately upped his pace, wishing to get back to his work as fast as he could. A new day of discovery had come, and he could think of no better way to start it than to get cracking on what he'd found. Rounding another corner, he came to the door that had filled his dreams the previous night. With a boyish glee, he slipped off the light backpack he'd been carrying with him, and sat down to retrieve what items he proposed he'd need. He lay the backpack out with a routine method, and uncovered his datapad. An abundance of smaller accessories littered his pack, and he selected two that possessed the requirements that he judged necessary for his task. Zipping his bag up, he hopped back to his feet and took a moment to take in the door before him. Its shape resembled a spade, as did the others, but this door appeared sturdier than its brethren, as if it had a more important purpose to fulfill. And where its grey alloy surface matched the others of its kind, it lacked the small windows that other doors like it housed in their middle and along the edge of their sides, flowing with its shape in an angled pattern that matched its surroundings without fault. Only its importance separated it from its surroundings. Hiding its secrets from outsiders, it only riled Sheldon's curiosity. And where other doors shone green in a small bulb below its middle window, the door before him featured a much larger bulb, dominating its centre. A small terminal stood on the wall beside it, and Sheldon spent a few seconds examining it. Glyphs and readings flashed across it at random intervals, and he could only begin to guess their meaning. Jittering, he poked a finger up to the panel and lightly tapped the interface, and a small pad manifested onto it. Ten keys awaited to be tapped, and he smiled as his suspicions were confirmed. But the smile quickly left his face as the panel showed no signs of being able to link up with one of his own keypads, housing a small screen at its tip. Sighing impatiently, he pressed a few buttons, and aimed his keypad at the panel, hoping to connect the two devices, regardless of the monumental technological leaps between the two. In the blink of an eye, the two connected, and Sheldon's keypad powered down not a second after. [i]Just as I thought.[/i] Working quickly, he connected his pad to his bigger datapad, and laid out a sequence of events that had transpired upon its encounter with the panel in a strip of information. Although he expected the alien systems to be effective beyond his initial knowledge, the wealth of raw data before him made him gasp. He quickly realized that not even his datapad alone would be enough to analyze the data that continued to load, and he fished an external storage device out of his pack to bear the load. In the blink of an eye, the two connected, and Sheldon's keypad powered down not a second after. [i]Just as I thought.[/i] Working quickly, he connected his pad to his bigger datapad, and laid out a sequence of events that had transpired upon its encounter with the panel in a strip of information. Although he expected the alien systems to be effective beyond his initial knowledge, the wealth of raw data before him made him gasp. He quickly realized that not even his datapad alone would be enough to analyze the data that continued to load, and he fished an external storage device out of his pack to bear the load. Skimming the data before him, it appeared that he'd only nicked the proverbial tip of the iceberg that was the security powerhouse of whatever he'd been working in for the past couple of weeks.His mind wandered at the thought of such incredible systems, but he soon returned to focus once more. He, nor his colleagues, recognized the symbols adorned around the site, and couldn't hope to translate them into a language they knew. Sheldon realised that he'd have to think outside the box if he were to come up with a solution. Spending a couple of minutes looking over what had been recorded within his keypad, a vague idea formed within his mind. On a hunch, he studied the symbols on the alien panel before him. Ten of them stood alone, barring his passage through in ways that eluded his understanding. [i]Maybe they weren't so different from us after all[/i], Sheldon proposed to his mind, wondering if they used the same base in numbering. [i]It's worth a shot.[/i] Opening up another program on his datapad, then going back to the data readings, he searched for symbols that matched those on the panel. After finding the ten, he fed to the next program: a housing for the decryption pads. Once he had the process ready to transfer, Sheldon searched his coat pocket and dug up his other decryption pad, holding it before him as he questioned its capabilities. His gaze flickered back to the pad connected to his main datapad, and he decided it alone wouldn't be enough. He unconnected the now malfunctioning decryption pad, and replaced it with his second one, giving the process a better chance of success. [i]But not by much. It's going to be like trying to cut a girder in two with a twig.[/i] The thought unsettled him greatly, so much so that he found himself with no choice but to call in his last resort. Pulling a small, slender communicator from his pack, he held in one of its two buttons, which put him through to direct communication with the AI of the main firebase above him, Dunjey. He knew it would be busy analysing enemy battle plans and deciphering code, but he was Sheldon's only means of a feasible attempt to gain access to whatever lay in wait behind the door in front of him, adamant in its halt of progress. "Dunjey, it's me, Sheldon," he lightly said, as if he were speaking to a sick patient in some hospital. "Do you have a minute to spare?" "Certainly, Professor Tunnug," the AI replied, the heavy Gaelic accent at odds with its sophisticated vocabulary. "What need do you have of me?" "I have a security system that I can't shake. I've managed to learn the required symbols to communicate with the panel here, but it'll take me years to try all the different combinations possible. I'm going to connect you via this link to my datapad, where my decryption sequence is ready to run. When I tell you I'm ready, I need you to try every combination you can before the security system in this thing takes action against you. Think you can handle it?" "Certainly, Professor Tunnug," Dunjey replied again. "Do you know the exact number of entries that the code is composed of?" [i]Crap.[/i] "No, I'm afraid not. But I suggest you start at seven digits and work your way up; this system's pretty advanced, and it doesn't beat around the bush." "Your word will suffice, then, Professor Tunnug. Please, connect me to your datapad, then inform me when you wish for me to begin." Without replying, Sheldon extended a port connection from the communicator's tip, and wirelessly linked it to his datapad. The two devices registered with each other like friends of old, and Dunjey took in the decryption sequence, arming it within his neurons. Sheldon held his datapad up to the alien panel, fears of what could go wrong running wildly through his mind. If Dunjey fell to the might of the security residing within the ancient site, then the UNSC's main defence force would be left without its powerhouse tactician. It wasn't something he wished to risk, but no other choice was conceivable. "Now!" The unseen battle before him lasted only a couple of seconds, but the blue hue of the door quickly turned to green, and as fast as his reaction allowed him to move, he jammed the port back into his communicator, terminating the connection and saving Dunjey from whatever meant to do away with him. As the door began to split open, Sheldon thanked the AI and let him return to his duty, pocketing his communicator once more and preparing himself for what could well be the most important discovery he'd ever make. The thought made him giddy with anticipation. Before him, a vast room was revealed, shrouded by darkness as if it shied away from the new arrival. Taking in what little he could see in the absence of light to keep himself clamped down and whet his appetite, his hunger for discovery only made the wait for his eyes to adjust all the more unbearable. But his impatience to seek soon got the better of him, and he tentatively moved forward into the compelling dark.
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    OftheBloodguard

    OftheBloodguard

    4/10/2012 7:27:56 AM Permalink
    Sort of. Progress is agonizingly slow, but I'm almost finished. A few more paragraphs. Sorry about the avatar change. And sorry for this taking so long, guys. I hate how long I've made everyone wait for this (if people are still waiting). [Edited on 04.11.2012 11:37 PM PDT]
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