|This article, Quantum Prime, was written by Maslab. Please do not edit this fiction without the writer's permission.|
When you sleep, what do you think of?
I think of many things. I think of what happened to me, why I’m fighting.
Why do you think about that?
Because it is me.
What is you? You are what you make yourself.
No, what I am is a reaction to what made me.
But what made you is what happened to me.
No, it happened to me.
But I am you.
And I am not you.
What did you lose?
I lost you.
And yet, here I am. Nothing happened, no reaction.
You are my reaction.
So what is yours?
Chapter One: Quantum Prime
1315 Hours, December 31st, 2573 (UNSC Military Calendar)
Jipfay toddled his way along the corridor, happy with himself. He’d just found a pretty set of crystals, and had traded them for some intoxicants, and he was as high as the sky.
Good thing he was off duty.
The methane room was nearby, and he hobbled toward it, drawing a strange look from a Minor Jiralhanae.
The next corner split in to two for a second, and he paused.
A commotion broke out, and the small Unggoy giggled. Fights between the youthful Jiralhanae were all too common and entertaining.
He made it to the corner, ecstatic that he would get to see the light show.
He reached the corner and grabbed it to steady himself.
Odd, the commotion seemed to have ‘’three’’ sets of lights from plasma rifles.
He giggled as the lights set off a pleasurable storm in his mind.
Then he noticed the green fog, a weird shape that moved fast, and seemed able to dodge most of the shots. When one did hit, it formed a splash on the giant, and set off an extreme storm in Jipfay’s mind.
He didn’t want it to stop. It seemed like hours, but the battle was over in seconds, and Jipfay was left disappointed.
The green giant stood up straight and looked at him, and Jipfay felt a pang of fear that almost broke through his fog. A Spartan, here, on the ship, the figures on his shoulder read something like D683. His trill of fear became a cascade of fear, and he backed away slowly, his reverie shattered.
The giant stood there, and then slowly walked around the corner.
Jipfay started breathing again, not realizing he had stopped, and he know what he had to do, warn everyone else that they were about to die.
He spun on his heel and came face to face with another Spartan. No, this one couldn’t be the same, but… the numbers were identical.
He never took another breath.
Why do you do this?
Because it’s the only way to end it.
End what? Your “reaction”?
I don’t want to end you.
Then what are you seeking.
How can you seek an answer when you only know the question?
Then how can I find the answer?
You need to know the question.
But you just said…
But do you know the question.
Of course not.
D683 kicked the body of the Unggoy. Small creatures, crushed underneath the weight of tyranny. They had so much potential, but he could not help them now.
He slipped off his helmet and sat on one of the Jiralhanae bodies and grabbed a nutri-bar.
Shut up and let me eat.
Is that any way to talk to me while I'm hungry?
He quelled the voices and slapped his helmet back on. Time to get back to work.
“Report! What is going on!”
The surveillance officer turned to Chieftain Damen.
“We don’t know, Excellency. Our cameras keep switching off then back on. And when they do, we find dead bodies. The latest report is four dead Jiralhanae, seven Kig-Yar, and two score Unggoy. On top of that, we have four Lekgolo down several minutes before that. It seems that this warrior is fighting his way through the whole ship, clearing the entire ship as he gets closer to us. He must be a Spartan.”
“You don’t know the half of it.”
Damen spun, and spotted four Kig-Yar already hitting the floor. He grabbed his Spike rifle and aimed at a green blur that was already engaged with two Jiralhanae guards.
He fired, as did five others, and the Spartan moved. It back sprung and dodged all but one shot. It hit, and the armor’s shield flared.
All the combatants paused, and the two Jiralhanae hit the floor.
The Spartan straightened and looked up, staring straight at Damen. All of a sudden it bent its legs and leapt 6 meters in to the air, straight at Damen, who fired the rest of his magazine at the incoming Spartan.
It flickered and disappeared.
Damen watched the spikes soar right through where the Spartan should have been.
Impossible, even if he had the newest active camouflage, the spikes should still have hit the Spartan and gored him.
He heard a soft thump behind him, and spun around for the second time in ten seconds.
And watched the last of his crew fall to the ground. The Spartan stood tall with its knife, above the body, apparently examining the cuts on the surveillance officer’s body.
He looked up, straight at Damen, and slowly approached him.
Damen felt a rush of fear, and backed away. Blood dripped from the knife blade.
Damen missed the ramp and stumbled backwards, catching himself. Looking up, he saw the Spartan’s helmet filling his vision.
“What do you want?”
“I want you to live.”
The Spartans fist crashed down on Damen’s head.
Is it possible you don’t even have a question?
Why would I fight then?
I know, it’s not what-
It’s how and why.
It's time to visit a friend.
Oh goody, I like visiting friends.
2200 Hours, January 2nd, 2574 (UNSC Military Calendar)
The next man who walked in to the bar was larger than most. Joel finished cleaning the glass he was holding and put his hand underneath the counter and was ready to grab the M5D pistol he kept under there. It was old, and never used, but it could put a whole in a man the size of a softball.
The man glanced at Joel and approached the bar, sitting on one of the stools.
Shit, it’s him.
“Yeah, it’s me.”
How did he-
“Know what you’re thinking? Because I know you.”
“You’re very good. What do you need?”
“I need to communicate with the Reborn Fire.”
Joel’s heartbeat doubled. His eyes flickered over to the eight men sitting at two different booths. They were examining the man who had just entered, and had begun to shift in their seats.
Joel blinked, and the men stood.
Immediately the newcomer spun and grabbed a bar stool, smashing it in the face of one of the men, breaking his nose.
Another whipped out an M6D pistol and fired at the newcomer, who flinched as the bullet bounced off his crystal weave body armor. The armor was very thin, and could stop ten-gauge buckshot or a 7.62 mm assault rifle round.
The newcomer recovered and grabbed the pistol, twisting it around under the man’s chin and pulling the trigger.
Joel was already out the back door, and sprinting down the alley. He unlocked the doors of his car and drove in. He placed his finger over the scanner and the car warmed.
Just as he was about to floor the accelerator, the door was ripped off its hinges and thrown in to the street. It hit the front of a car and bounced off. The car pulled over and the doors popped open, with people yelling at the large man standing over Joel.
Joel was ripped out of his car, and felt a blow to the arm. He screamed as his humerus shattered, and was thrown on to the hood of his car.
Joel fought through his pain and looked up in to the eyes of Spartan-D683.
“What did you expect to escape from?
“Just like death, you can’t escape me.
“Now tell me what I need to know.
“Tell me you know what I need to know.”
D683 leaned closer to Joel, and whispered to him as the angry people behind him approached him:
“Tell me: where is Phoenix Team?”
Phoenix Team. Why do you need them?
Not them. Their leader.
What’s so interesting about him?
His innate skill at knowing his enemies and how to defeat them.
0547 Hours, January 3rd, 2574 (UNSC Military Calendar)
Master Chief Petty Officer Wings-D339 strode through the new Interspecies Union Ragnarok class destroyer, fully armored, but with his helmet off, and attached to his back.
The new ship surpassed anything the Covenant or UNSC had ever built. Huragok had provided the technical expertise, fine tuning the ships, while humans had provided innovation. The engineers, both human and alien, had outdone themselves, using a combination of human and alien technology.
Two ODSTs stood to either side and saluted,
Wings returned the salute and continued on his way. The halls weren’t very wide, being designed for function rather than aesthetics. Everything on the flagship had been minimized without compromising its ability to work, and yet the ship measured at over six kilometers in length.
Publicly, it didn’t exist, but among SpecOps and ONI operatives, the ship was fast becoming a legend, even though it hadn’t even made its maiden voyage.
Wings approached the entrance to his quarters, and felt a tingling in the back of his mind. It was that little bit of him that always knew something was wrong. He shifted his combat knife loose and keyed open his door, hand ready to unsheathe the knife.
His foot hit the other side of the division on either side of the door, which immediately slammed shut.
Now he was sure something was wrong. The door wasn’t supposed to close until he was three feet from it. And to get it to change you had to know every inner working about the security system behind it. And no one onboard that he knew could change it. In fact, there was only one person he knew that could do such a thing.
He spun, his foot following his sight. It collided with an armored wrist, which was reaching to grab him. They both slammed against the wall, and another hand reached out to grab his ankle. Wings twisted, brining his knee up to his chest and grabbing the hand. His grip slipped and the attacker twisted.
Wings fell to the ground, hard, and his attacked sprung on him. He spun, this time with his fist connecting to the side of a helmet, and the man flew a meter away from him and crashed in to the wall, momentarily dazed. Wings seized this opportunity and leaped upon him, grabbing him by his throat and lifting him against the wall, and punching him in the solar plexus, further dazing him.
“Hello again, D683.”
D683 tilted his head down to look at Wing’s face. “Hey there, Wings.”
“What do you want.”
“Just a chat.”
Wings let go, and D683 dropped to the floor with a thud. Wings walked over to his desk and sat at the chair, examining his ankle. It was beginning to throb, but he judged that it was just a pulled muscle and let it throb, stretching it out.
D683 stood and massaged his wrist. It was definitely sprained, and his chest burned from where Wings had punched him.
The door slid open and Major Forge looked in at the two Spartans, both with helmets off now. He glanced between the two. Wings knew there’d probably be about twenty ODSTs behind him in the hall, and he held up a hand.
“Just a surprise, sir. We’re good.”
Forge nodded and backed out, and the door slid shut again.
The two Spartans looked at each other. Wings spoke first.
“Explain to me why you’re here, and why you felt you needed to attack me.”
“Just a test, nothing more.”
“Now what do you want here?”
“I want you to tell me how to get in to the mind of a Jiralhanae.”
Wing’s nose twitched, the Spartan equivalent of folding your arms and snorting derisively.
“First of all, how would you get a Jiralhanae to listen to you before he attempted to ‘avenge his kinsmen’? Second, why would you want to get in to his mind?”
“I have plans.”
“You always do, it’s the way you work.”
“So why not help me?”
“After all that training, you’d think it’d be obvious.”
“Not everyone sees the enemies as you do.”
Wings ticked his fingers on the desktop and glanced up at the ceiling.
“It’s easier to figure this out if you tell me what you want from him.”
“I want him to defect.”
Wings froze for an instant, and then resumed his tapping, examining D683.
“You want a creature that has likely been brainwashed from birth to give their lives to a xenophobic cause, has been trained unwillingly to follow a rigid code, and has been unknowingly shifted to the lower end of the IQ spectrum, and you want to completely turn him around?”
“But you could if you wanted to.”
“Naturally, find me in a week.”
Chapter Two: Defects
0000 Hours, January 7th, 2574 (UNSC Military Calendar)
“When I said one week, you took it seriously.” Wings commented.
“You know me.” Quantum said.
Damen was held by neural breakers in the middle of the room. The rings around his shoulders and waist kept the Jiralhanae Major from moving his arms and legs.
The Delta Company XO strode over and leaned down to Damen’s eye level.
“You know who I am?”
The Jiralhanae glared up at him. “You’re the one they sent me to kill.”
“You’ve slaughtered our warriors, desecrated the holy artifacts-“
“Why are they holy?”
“They were left by the holy Forerunners, the gods.”
D683 soon grew bored with the questioning. He knew Wings was leading the Brute down an alley he couldn’t get out of. But Wings was the only one Quantum Prime knew had the patience for that sort of thing.
And that was why Wings was the only one Spartan D683 looked up to.
So it begins.
My conscience demands it.
I already forgave him.
I haven’t forgiven him for what happened to you, Kate.
1734 Hours, May 13th, 2569 (UNSC Military Calendar)
Kate-D5102, smashed the door open and stepped in.
“Clear.” She said, and moved to the middle of the room.
Hal-D683 followed with the rest of the team. “Is it here?” He said to the team’s demo-man, Darwin-D510.
“It is, just let me get the charges planted, and then we can get out of here.”
Hal turned back the way they’d come, covering their six. The other three unoccupied members of his team, Kate-D5102, Rio-D937, and Carol-D2053, followed suit as Darwin began setting demo charges on the main energy line.
Hawk Team had infiltrated the Covenant cruiser about ten minutes ago. It was currently docked two hundred meters above the surface of a small moon, under repairs after a minor skirmish with a UNSC frigate. The Spartans were just here to finish the job.
A Jackal popped his ugly head around the corner, and Kate dropped him with a burst from her battle rifle. An Unggoy waddled out, spotted the body, and looked down the corridor at the Spartans.
So Rio gave him 3 7.62 mm rounds in the head for his trouble.
“Done.” Darwin said.
“Move out, Hawks.” D683 said.
Hawk Team fought their way back through the cruiser and in to the gravity lift. Stepping in to it, all five Spartans floated down to the ground, landing on a small plateau.
Kate walked forward. “Pelican’s a kilometer east, sir. I suggest we-“
Three particle beams lanced out, smashing in to Kate’s helmet. One of the beams punched through her shields, shattering her visor and spraying blood everywhere.
“No!” Hal roared, and brought his battle rifle around. He sighted two of the Jackal snipers and let rip, two bursts catching both of them in the heads.
The other three standing members of his team knocked the third sniper out with a long rattle of assault rifle fire, and the Jackal died.
D683 ran to Kate’s body and dragged her to him.
Her visor was pulverized, and she no longer had a face. The particle beam had ripped in to her helmet and rebounded back to the front, burning away everything above the lower lip.
Rio knelt beside D683, her voice shaking. “Sir, we have to move.”
D683 picked up Kate’s body and slung her over his shoulder. “We’re not leaving her.”
He ran as fast as he could carrying the extra half ton of weight, making what should have been a two minute sprint in to a ten minute march.
A marine private stepped out with a grin.
“Got the cruiser rigged to- oh fuck.” His face fell. “Oh shit, I’m sorry, oh shit, oh shit…”
“It’s alright, private.” D683 said, setting Kate down. “Just tell the Commander that we plan on making it back to New Quebec with all haste.” The private went in to the cockpit and left the four Spartans in the back. For the first time ever, Hal felt a tear slide down his cheek.
“You alright, Chief?”
Quantum Prime turned to see Wings behind him. D683 wasn’t fooled. The MCPO was an expert at knowing what people were thinking, even if he’d just met them.
“You’d know, wouldn’t you?” Quantum Prime said.
“It’s always polite to ask.”
“You finished with Damen?”
“And how is he?”
“Imagine if you’d just had everything that you fought for, lived for, and breathed for ripped away from you in a few hours. If he didn’t have those neural breakers on he’d be clawing himself open with his bare hands. I had to put a spinal inhibitor around his neck to keep him from beating his head against the wall.”
“Not good, then?”
“No, he’s suicidal.”
“Alright. So what do you want in return?”
“I need to speak to Hal.”
We can’t let-
him do that-
it would start-
to unravel everything-
we’ve fought for.
We’d be no-
“In the next room.” The last four words were spoken out loud.
Hal straightened, looking plainly at Wings, adopting a perfect military stance.
“Hal is here. What do you need, sir?”
“What is your real plan here?”
“You know I can’t answer that.”
“Which one of you can?”
“None of us. We’re only able to answer questions that the others can. Besides a few exceptions.”
“Then tell me what you want with Damen.”
“I’m planning on turning his entire tribe against him.”
Wings nodded. “That’s crazy, but it could work. It would have to be you, though.”
“Why is that?”
“I’m only good with people who actually listen to logic.”
0700 Hours, January 28th, 2574 (UNSC Military Calendar)
Damen’s conversion had been long and hard, but now he at least didn’t try and beat Quantum Prime whenever the Spartan walked in to the room. Instead the Jiralhanae just stood in the middle of the Significant Valor’s cargo bay, staring off in to space.
“You’re going to have to speak sometime.” D683 said.
“What would I have to say to you, human?” Damen said, spitting the word human out like a bad piece of meat.
So he does.
“So then tell me what I can do for you?”
“You can give me a reason to fight for a cause. You’ve told me you want me to fight the Covenant, to help turn my tribe against them. But why would I do that? They are happy.”
“Were you happy? That Spartan showed you what is wrong with following the Covenant.”
“And they serve it happily.”
“Looking back, were you really happy following a rigorous course of life to be ended at a whim by a single being, one who didn’t deserve to make that choice? Do you want your clan mates to suffer the same fate? Even if you have to kill every one of them, don’t you care enough to want them to be free of that tyranny?”
Damen hung his head. D683’s words had pinched a nerve.
“What do you demand of me?”
Now we’re starting to get somewhere.
Chapter Three: Orientation
1300 Hours, February 1st, 2576 (UNSC Military Calendar)
“And I have to stay aboard this ship the entire time?” Damen snorted, glaring disgustedly around at the corvette’s gray hull. A human hull, no less.
“Yes, you know there are plenty of Sangheili who dislike humans, and all of them have a hatred of Jiralhanae.” D683 said patiently.
The Brute warrior snorted, and his armor plates clacked. D683 knew Damen would be reaching for his Spiker.
“I only gave you your armor and weapons back because I know that I could take you in a fight, even if you got me by surprise. Don’t make the mistake of killing yourself. Just do the honorable thing and save your tribe.” The Spartan said calmly.
Damen harrumphed. “Least you could have done was to get us a real ship, not this piece of-“
“And where was I supposed to get a Covenant ship, and even if I could have how would I sneak one in to orbit above and Interspecies Union planet?”
“A brute and a Spartan working together is odd enough.”
“Which is why you have to stay in the ship, and don’t forget that I can always get you back in to those neural breakers.” Quantum Prime said, leaning forward and reaching under the console. Damen stood his ground.
“There’s no need for that. I may not be nearly as smart as you, but I’m not an idiot.”
“Good, then quit complaining.”
You are pushing it, Hal.
Hey, it was our plan, not his.
“Welcome to Sanghelios, Spartan. What’s your business here?” The Sangheili Major said, his crimson armor glinting in the high noon sun.
“I have business with your Kaidon. Is he here?”
A mandible click. D683 had only a few ideas what it meant, there were different kinds of clicks, apparently. “He is.”
D683 brushed by him. “Good.”
The Major followed him. “He’s not just available at any time, human, and-”
“He is right now.”
Thel ‘Vadam turned to the entrance door as it banged open, and a Spartan with D683 emblazoned on his pauldrons walked in. A low rumbling came from the Arbiter’s throat, and he began to reach for his energy sword.
“You’re not welcome here, Quantum Prime.”
Then which one of us is?
I’m trying to talk, Rio.
“I know I’m not, and I’m sure I’ll be even less willing to welcome me here after we talk.”
“And why would I let you talk?” Thel said, grabbing his energy sword hilt off his thigh plate. Several Sangheili guards let out low growls and picked up their weapons. The mood in the entrance hall was definitely tense.
“Because I’m working on a plan to crack the Covenant, and I need your cooperation.”
Thel was intrigued, but highly skeptical. He’d heard almost every plan ever written to defeat the Covenant, but most were too grandiose or too ignorant of Covenant culture.
“How do you plan to do that?”
“By gaining the trust of the Jiralhanae.”
A reflexive growl came from Thel’s throat. “Ally ourselves with the Jiralhanae? Impossible!” He advanced towards the Spartan.
“Escaping back to your old prejudices so soon? Don’t you remember what my boss has taught you?”
“You’re not your boss. Now leave, before you insult me further!”
Hal-D683 didn’t move. “Not until you listen.”
“Guards.” Thel said.
Six guards activated their energy staffs and advanced on Hal. He crossed his arms and waited until they were almost upon him.
As one Sangheili reached out to prod him with the staff, Hal’s armor shimmered. Silver tongues of liquid plasma wrapped around him, encasing the Spartan in a silver shell. And then he disappeared. It had all happened in an instant.
“What?” Thel said. He’d never seen anything like that before. Or maybe had…
“Quantum displacement device.” A voice above and behind the Arbiter said. Thel looked up, and saw D683 standing on the upper balcony. “It’s very handy for getting out of situations that you don’t want to be in.”
“Get out of my Keep.” The Arbiter growled.
Another flash, and the Spartan stood by the doorway.
“Fine.” He said, turning to open the double doors. “I won’t waste my breath.”
You need to learn how to talk to people.
I know, Darwin.
1130 Hours, September 11th, 2570 (UNSC Military Calendar)
Hal felt a fist smash in to his helmet, and he was knocked flying. The Brutes had hit his team fast, slamming in to them with gravity hammers. Darwin and Rio were already out cold, and they’d just managed to wrestle Hal to the ground.
Bastards, He thought, wrestling with the apes as they struggled to get a neural inhibitor on him. Let me up.
Hawk’s leader fought with a berserk passion and managed to slip out of their grasp. He activated his gauntlet knives and dug them in to one Brute’s chest. The large warrior simply roared and grabbed Hal’s wrists, holding the Spartan’s hands to his chest and preventing him from moving.
Hal felt his body to rigid as the collar snapped around his neck. He was dragged over to a cart and dumped in on top of Rio and Darwin’s still forms. Darwin had a crack on his forehead, and a trail of blood oozed down his face.
Hawk Team, one of the best teams of Spartans ever assembled, was well and truly captured.
Chapter Four: Debrief
1614 Hours, February 3rd, 2574 (UNSC Military Calendar)
"I take it that the diplomacy did not go well?" Damen asked, standing upright as D683 reented the ship.
Shut it, Darwin.
Well his race are the ones who-
I said shut it!
"The Sangheili never really liked me."
Damen raised a bushy eyebrow. "And why is that?"
Quantum Prime sighed. Since the Jiralhanae Chieftain had learned to question things, he hadn't bloody stopped!
"Because... I slaughtered a fairly large amount of Sangheili from the Vadam family."
The Jiralhanae didn't move. "Not that I really care about them, but why?"
He doesn't deserve to know.
Kate, he deserves to know what his kin did to me. We're the ones who don't deserve to know...
1130 Hours, October 15th, 2570 (UNSC Military Calendar)
Hal-D683, Darwin-D510, and Rio-D973 were suspended in the air by gravity beams. Their limbs had been forced in to a spreadeagled configuration.
None of the three Spartans lifted their heads when they heard a door slide open, then shut. Booted soles slammed against the floor. Hal estimated there were five Jiralhanae and twice that number of Unggoy.
"You Demons are very stubborn." A grating voice said, and all heard the clink of containers being opened and tools being taken out of them. There was no doubt what they were for.
"We'll just have to see if we can change that." The voice continued, and the gigantic figure stepped in to a shaft of light.
Hal glared as he found the Judicator's eyes glaring in to his. He didn't say anything.
"I know you are the leader of this... team." The Judicator said, turning away to let two smaller Jiralhanae move in to position in front of Darwin.
"You know our questions, now I expect answers." The giant ape concluded. "And your subordinate will suffer for it."
A grunt of pain made Hal look up, and he saw one Jiralhanae running a small machine along Darwin's arm. As the machine passed over his flesh Hal saw that only muscle remained.
They were stripping the skin off Darwin in a most painful fashion.
"Bastards..." Hal grunted and jerked as hard as he could against his bonds. It was no use. He couldn't even budge his arms or legs.
The Judicator grinned as Darwin growled. This process was painful.
"Start with the outer layers and move in. That's what this does." He glanced over and saw Hal's stormy expression. "Sounds painful, doesn't it? Oh don't worry, we'll repair him when we're done with today's session. But every day he'll get weaker and weaker as the pain gets worse, until eventually there will be nothing to repair."
Hal opened his mouth to respond, feeling that he had to say something, but was cut off by a tremendous scream from Darwin. The torturers had reached his torso, and he could feel the flesh being violently scraped off his ribs.
Hawk's leader found that, besides insane anger, he felt slightly perplexed. Spartans were able to ignore all but the greatest pain. The Judicator had said that the pain only got worse, so the amount of pain Darwin was in was probably not enough to make him scream.
Hal concentrated less on the noise and more of the substance of the pained yell. Then he understood what Darwin was saying, in a long, drawn out bellow:
Then the Jiralhanae pulled the machine away. Hal and Rio found themselves looking at a human that looked barely alive, all the skin torn from his body.
"This is where it really starts to hurt..." The Judicator laughed as the two torturers moved back in.
Hal somehow managed to tune out the sound of Darwin growling in pain, knowing that he could not, under any circumstances, let the Covenant know what they wanted to know...
It was going to be hard.
1620 Hours, February 3rd, 2574 (UNSC Military Calendar)
"I have never known my breathren to play with their food."
Play with their food? Why that son of a-
D683 nodded. "The average expected lifespan for any being under that kind of torture is about two weeks. Darwin lasted more than two months."
1045 Hours, December 24th, 2570 (UNSC Military Calendar)
Darwin coughed. Hal tipped a cup of water to his lips, and the Spartan slowly drank. It hurt even to do that.
The body of Spartan D510 had once been the epiphany of physical prowess, bearing marked resemblance to an Olympic runner. Now he looked frail and weak. Repeated shaving of his muscles and their reparations had worn his physique down. Now it cost him a lot just to raise an arm.
"This is it for me." Darwin groaned. Rio had been pacing, but now crouched beside the cot on which Hal sat with Darwin's head in his lap.
"Shut up." Rio said firmly. "You know that the others won't let us rot this long. They'll find us."
There was a rumbling outside. Darwin smiled. "My heart is gone, Rio. Even if you could get me to a medevac in time, I'd never survive the ride back to the ship."
Rio rose and strode to the other side of the cell. Hal knew Darwin was right, the Spartan was just too weak.
Darwin squeezed Hal's hand, his voice weak. There were footsteps on the floor above. "The Hawk's will... always live Hal. Remember that... nothing can... truly kill... us."
The Spartan gasped once, then breathed no more.
Footsteps on the stairs were heard. Rio positioned herself at the back of the cell, her face contorted in anger, ready to die fighting.
The door slid open, and a Spartan in Mjolnir armor was framed in the doorway. "D339" was stenciled on his shoulder plate. His helmet turned to pass over Rio, who had gone almost completely limp, and on to Hal, cradling Darwin's body.
Hal looked up and slowly shook his head, not feeling any shame at the single tear that fell from his eye.
"Just half an hour earlier. Why couldn't you have been here just half an hour earlier?"
1625 Hours, February 3rd, 2574 (UNSC Military Calendar)
There was a short silence, in which Damen simply asked another question without batting an eye.
"What does that have to do with slaughtering some Sangheili?"
Quantum Prime squeezed one hand in to a fist. "They insulted my family, so I insulted their race. They attacked me, and I defended myself. And in Sangheili culture, family comes first. Since it was self-defense they couldn't bar me from their cities, but that doesn't mean they have to like me."
"I see." Damen said. "Where are we going, next?"
"Your homeworld: Dosaic."
Chapter Five: Set Up
0617 Hours, February 7th, 2574 (UNSC Military Calendar)
"You do know how dumb this is, don't you?"
"Your clan is the most trusted. I need you to keep them distracted during the festivities until I'm done."
"And what are you going to be doing?"
"Killing your High Prophet, Intuition."
Damen blinked and stared. "Kill a High Prophet? You're insane!"
D683's grin was devoid of humor. "Killing the Prophet will shatter the Covenant, giving the humans a chance to recover. Bliss and Faith will follow the same path as well."
The Jiralhanae chieftain shook his head. "I fear your plan won't work-"
"Don't you get it? Do you not understand why I saved you? I want to save everyone. I'm smart enough to realize that this is not possible, so I make do with killing a few to save many. I know I may fail, which is why I want you to help your clanmates. Teach them what you've been taught, but be smart about it." The strange Spartan looked out of the cargo hatch and down at the waiting Jiralhanae. He moved towards the cockpit of the Phantom so that he wouldn't be noticed. "Good luck."
Damen gathered himself up and dropped down the gravity lift to meet his people.
He had work to do. And he understood, quite clearly, that either one of them had to succeed.
D683 guided the Phantom over the ocean and towards one of Virtuous Enlightenment's many hangars. A message was sent to him, querying the dropship for proper clearance codes. He gave them and settled in.
The instant he settled down, the Spartan activated his camouflage and slipped out of the Phantom before the Huragok descended on it.
He knew where he had to go. Damen had told him everything he needed to know: where the Prophets were, where they lived, and what little the Jiralhanae Chieftain had known of their daily schedule, most of which was taken up in the Chamber of Congress.
He allowed himself a gentle laugh. Fool. To actually think that he a Spartan of the United Nations Space Command would actually forgive the Covenant and attempt to save them all!
Quantum Prime snuck off in to the shadows, nothing more than a Ghost in the Covenant city.
2254 Hours, October 15th, 2573 (UNSC Military Calendar)
Rio-D973 and Hal-D683 didn't bother with stealth anymore.
A rocket blasted it's way away from Rio's launcher, slamming in to a group of Jiralhanae. The two Spartan's suits were splattered with the blood and gore of battle.
Hal's assault rifle vibrated in his hands, sending a wave of lead in to several Unggoy. He reached a hand forward and pulled the trigger on his G58 grenade launcher three times. Three consecutive grenades sailed out and hit two Hunters and a cluster of Jackals.
"You take the left corridor, I'll take the right!" Hal called out to Rio.
"On it!" She yelled back, dropping the smoking M41 and whipping out her C70 Assault Shotgun. Rio ran through the door on her left, and Hal went through the one on the right.
The two Spartans fought their separate ways through the corridors, until they reached the bridge.
"Here we are." Hal muttered to himself. Rio chewed her tongue. Hal had been acting stranger and stranger since Darwin had died. She's woken up at night to hear him talking to himself in his sleep. The scarier thing was that his voice kept changing pitch, like he was holding a conversation with himself.
She passed through her doorway, on the far end of the bridge.
The doors slammed shut, and there was a massive explosion. The two Spartans were knocked off their feet. Rio felt herself being lifted in to the air by the throat, held by a massive hand. She attempted to bring her shotgun to bear, but felt it smashed from her hand.
Opening her eyes, Rio stared in to a familiar face.
"You!" She roared, and heard another voice yell the same. Hal was rising to his feet, and threw himself towards the Judicator.
A shield materialized, dividing the bridge of the ship in two. Hawk Team's leader bounced off of it.
Rio was smashed against the shield, and heard a sizzling as her armor melted. Another tremendous smash and she lay stunned on the ground, staring up at the Judicator. The giant Jiralhanae was raising a gravity hammer...
"God dammit!" Hal screamed helplessly as the Judicator brought the hammer down.
Rio closed her eyes as the head of the hammer descended, oblivion rising to greet her.
Time to kick some ass.
Hal strode in to the room, deactivating his camouflage. The six Jiralhanae guards roared and rose, reaching for their weapons.
Silver bands encased Hal, and he disappeared, reappearing behind one of the guards.
A flash of a knife, and he was gone, the Jiralhanae falling to the ground.
Another flash, and he appeared in front of a Jiralhanae who'd grabbed his energy stave. Two slashes from his gauntlet knives send the Brute's hands flying one way and his head the other. D683 grabbed the stave and shifted position again, this time behind two Jiralhanae. He stabbed one and shot the other. The final two had risen, and grabbed their spikers.
A hail of bright orange spikes sailed towards Quantum Prime, but he merely shifted again.
A stab and a slash and it was all over.
"Bravo." A voice said from the shadows, and a form floated out from them. Intuition.
"I suppose you are here to kill me?"
"Yes." Hawk said, dropping the stave and pulling out his sidearm.
"I'm afraid that's not going to happen."
D683 began to turn, but then felt a blinding pain in his back. Looking down, he saw emerging from his belly the tip...
Of a gauntlet knife?
The blade retracted, and D683 found that he couldn't feel his legs. Running a quick check on his armor, he found that the quantum displacement device was inoperable. D683, in a flash, understood just who his knew assailant was.
"You're an asshole." He said as strong hands turned him over.
Wings-D339 stared coldly down at him. But there was something painful in his gaze.
"I know, and I'm sorry, Hawk. You're all getting to big for your shoes."
D683 laughed. "So, you understand us?"
The MCPO nodded. "I do, and I have for a while.
"I'm here to tell you that your plan won't work."
"Shatter the Covenant, that's what we were born to do! That is what I am doing!"
"I know, but you haven't thought it out. Killing the Prophets would drive the Jiralhanae insane. The humans would not survive."
D682 glared at Phoenix Team's leader, then craned his neck to glare at the Prophet. "So it was you... when they asked us who you were working with-"
"Yes. I am working with the Prophet of Intuition. I am going to make sure that humanity survives. And the Covenant races, if I can help it. Will you give up your fruitless endeavor?"
Hawk Team turned their collective head to gaze steadfastly at the one they had, for so many years, loved.
"We will not."
Wings sighed. "Very well. You leave me no choice."
Spartan D683 closed his eyes, hearing the click of an SM6D being cocked.
Wings paused as Hawk Team spoke for the last time.
"Take care of Damen when I'm gone."
Spartan D339 looked up at Intuition, then back down at D683.
He pulled the trigger.
Wings returned the sidearm to its holster and gazed sadly down at the body of what used to be one of the greatest Spartans that had ever lived.
Correction, He thought to himself. Spartans.
"I suppose you are angry at me for this."
"Why is that?"
Wings tore his eyes away from Hal's body and looked at Intuition. "They chose their path, and it would, no matter what, have lead to their destruction.
"However," he continued, and edge creeping in to his normally apathetic voice. "If you ever attempt to trap one of my Spartans like that again, I will bring everything you love down around your frail little head."
Intuition nodded. "You would be destroyed in the process." He said, watching D339 gathering up Hawk's body and placing it on a gravity gurney.
He looked at Intuition. "I don't care."
And then he left gently pushing the gravity gurney, with the Spartan's body on it.
The spirit of Hawk Team, one of the greatest Spartan teams to have ever existed, after having been torn asunder for years, brutally ravaged again and again by many foes, was finally laid to rest.