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Most users ever online was 29 on October 1st 2013, 12:09 am


    Whispers in the Dark.

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    Shad0wChas3r
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    Re: Whispers in the Dark.

    Post  Shad0wChas3r on November 7th 2015, 12:46 am

    Well, after I posted the story the first time, I got to thinking; 'Shit, they're going to think I'm suicidal. I should fix that.'

    It's all story driving plot. Believe me, if I wanted to end myself, I have my ways of being capable. Though I've always lived under the notion of; 'Why the hell should I kill myself? That means THEY win.'


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    Re: Whispers in the Dark.

    Post  Shad0wChas3r on November 9th 2015, 10:24 pm

    "Thanks for all your help, Mr. Law." I nodded, as he held a hand up.

    "Considering our current circumstances, you may address me as Walter." Walter said. "We are business partners, after all."

    "So, you're a businessman?" I asked, as he nodded.

    "A businessman of sorts, indeed." Walter turned to me, a smile forming on the edge of his mouth. "However, you don't want to be on the receiving end of what I sell."

    "This is a great conversation and all, but why the hell do you want to go to Vermont?" Daniel asked, turning towards me. "You'll find nothing there but trees, and more trees."

    "You've been?" Walter asked. "Funny, I don't recall authorizing your trips."

    "It was at my own expense, Walter." Daniel shook his head. "The people are maple syrup crazed. It's in just about everything they consume! They also happen to be extremely rude to people not from the area."

    "Blighters." Walter scoffed. "Perhaps I should accompany you, my young friend, in case these heathens presume to be a challenge?"

    "I appreciate it." I nodded. "I think we should be alright, though."

    Walter nodded, placing a hand on my shoulder, before stepping out of the control room. Daniel returned his gaze to the monitor in front of him, the ever present abyss of space before us.

    "For the record, do not refer to me as Daniel." Daniel cringed. "Hearing my name sends chills down my spine. You may refer to me by my call-sign; Death."

    "Death?" I asked, confused. "That's pretty morbid for a businessman's assistant."

    "We're a unique type of businessmen." Death turned to me, his eyes almost glossed over. "Take my advice, kid. Do not associate yourself with Walter after this. As of now, you and him have the same goal. Do NOT mistaken him as your friend."

    I was confused, but the seriousness with which the man said it made me think about the possibilities. The fact that his cheek bones seemed to protrude through his skin, not through a smile, but the actual bones, intimidated me. His face appeared sunken, and I began to realize why his nickname was Death.

    "Thanks for the advice."

    "Don't thank me, kid." the man said, his glossy eyes glaring at me. "Don't thank any of us. Just do what you've set out to."

    I nodded, walking out of the control room. In the hallway, I could see Walter speaking with Grant and Jessica. It made me a tad bit curious, wondering what they were saying to one another. Upon my entering the hall, Walter turned his attention to me, before nodding curtly, brushing past me again.

    Walking up to the two of them, they smiled, ushering me into the room.

    "That guy is shady as hell." Grant shuddered.

    "I just saw you guys talking to him, what'd he say?"

    "He told us to be wary of the days ahead." Jessica shook her head. "To be wary of who we associate ourselves with. To not trust anyone."

    "Don't worry Arch." Grant nodded. "I've known you my entire life, I'm not leaving your side!"

    "Thanks." I smirked. "I figured you guys would."

    Standing, I placed a hand on Grant's shoulder, before walking out the door. They stood to follow me, but I nodded my head towards the room I had been placed in. Grant nodded, grinning from ear to ear, while Jessica smacked him on the back of the head.

    Turning my attention to the door, I stood before it. When it opened, I quietly stepped in, turning my gaze to the chair. Sitting there was Aurora, idly talking to a man sitting on the bed.

    "Mien name?" the man asked, ignoring my presence. "I am Peter, Peter Schwartz."

    "I'm Aurora." she smiled. "I apologize for my comments earlier."

    "Vorry not." he said, taking her hand. "I could not possibly be insulted by a voman of your beauty."

    "Er-hem." I cleared my throat, as Peter turned to me.

    "Ah yes, vhere are mien manners?" Peter spoke in a strange accent. "You are ze boy I patched up."

    "So, you're a doctor?" I asked, as he nodded.

    "Ja." he stood, but not before kissing her hand. "My name is Peter Schwartz, but you may refer to me as Pestilence."

    "Archie Branson." I said, stepping forward. "If I may have a moment with Aurora?"

    "Ja, I vas just leaving." he said, walking past me.

    It was weird, something about the man reeked. Perhaps it was his cologne, or his way about himself. In fact, I was surprised he could even be a doctor. He looked sickly, as if he was host to several illnesses. The thought of a Doctor in his condition, mending sickly bodies, churned my stomach.

    When he finally left, I sighed in relief, walking over towards Aurora, who smiled. Sitting on the bed, I looked upon her hand, where Peter had kissed. She seemed to finally notice it as well, her eyes looking in confusion.

    "I should probably go wash this." she sighed, her mouth forming into a frown. "Doctor Pestilence is an interesting name, eh?"

    "Not someone I'd normally have operate on me." I grumbled. "Though I feel a lot better, so I suppose it turned out alright."

    She stood, walking over to the far side of the room. There, a single sink, with a mini refrigerator sat. Was this a bedroom, or a mini suite on a ship? Regardless, she turned on the sink, washing her hands gently.

    "I got super worried when you collapsed." she said, breaking the silence. "If I wasn't piloting that Golden Eagle, I would've been right there beside you."

    "It's okay." I chuckled. "I dunno what came over me."

    "Peter," she hesitated at his name. "- said it was exhaustion. The bullet in your shoulder didn't really help either."

    "I guess so. I had some pretty vivid dreams too." I said, rubbing my forehead. "Some disembodied voice told me we needed to go to Earth. He said we would find something there."

    "Seems awfully risky." she said, walking back over, sitting back in the chair. "This you?"

    She pointed towards the blanket, as I gently rubbed the back of my neck.

    "Um, yeah." I chuckled. "You were sleeping, and you looked cold."

    She smiled, before wrapping her arms gently around me, resting her head on my shoulder. I stared at the far wall, before closing my eyes, wrapping my arms around her.

    "I'm glad you're okay. You saved me earlier, and I hated the idea of not being able to help you." she said.

    "You stayed beside me, that meant the world to me." I said.

    We sat there for a time, before she finally released herself. We sat there, smiling at each other. After a moment, it became a bit awkward, and I scanned my eyes around the room.

    "Back on Reach." she frowned, tapping her knees with her hands. "You said that-"

    "My parents are dead?" I asked, as she flinched. "Yeah. Can't say they're really dead. They just disappeared, and I was raised in foster care."

    "I'm really sorry, it was stupid to bring it up." she said, beginning to stand.

    "No, it's alright." I smiled. "I've come to terms with it. Though, I'm sorry I took you from your parents."

    Her eyes fell to the floor, and I felt my heart drop. Tears had begun to well in her eyes, as her body began to show signs of deep sadness and grief.

    "My mother died when I was born." she said, her lips trembling. "My father died years later. I was raised by my uncle and aunt."

    "I'm sorry." I said, my eyes now scanning the floor.

    "My mother, from what I've heard, was a History teacher. It seemed to be a family tradition." she chuckled, staring at her hands. "My grandmother was a History teacher, and her mother before her."

    "I guess that's why I've always been so keen on history." Aurora smiled. "Why I'm here with you. The Great War was a big moment in history, and to fully eradicate it from public knowledge is silly!"

    "You're doing it for other reasons, aren't you?" she asked, looking at me.

    "I'm doing it for the people." I said. "They have a right to know, and I'm doing it for Blaine, because his and the other Spartan's sacrifices shouldn't be in vain. They deserve to be remembered."

    "Jessica and Grant showed me the data you guys scuttled from CASTLE base. The fact that the three of you explored that place was awesome, though I feel a bit jealous." she giggled. "So, what's waiting for us at Earth?"

    "I haven't the slightest clue." I shrugged. "But I feel it's bigger than anything we could imagine."

    //////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    After exiting Slip-Space, Aurora and I walked to the window. The sight we witnessed was beautiful. Cobalt waters shimmered in the light of the Sun. So, this was Earth, huh? The blue and green planet was a bit intimidating to look at.

    "Wow." she said, her eyes reflecting the planet. "So much history on the planet."

    "Humanity's entire existence." I said. "It's hard to believe that, one thousand years ago, this was the only Planet inhabited by humans."

    "Right?" she asked, as our ship drew ever closer to the planet. "Wait, shouldn't we be stopping for an inspection?"

    "Walter, Peter, and Daniel are all businessmen. The Orbital Guard likely recognize the ship." I shrug.

    Our ship finally broke atmosphere, which explained the suddenly rattling within the ship. Aurora and I watched as fire danced alongside the hull of the ship. Shortly afterward, we were enthralled by the view. For a land that existed for several thousand years, likely inhabited for at least two-thousand, it still looked very simplistic.

    On the road were old fashioned cars that remained on the road, strange four legged creatures walked, with people on their backs. More importantly, the trees had the color of a raging fire. Reds, oranges, yellows, and even brown leaves covered the trees.

    "This must be Autumn." Aurora said. "We never really had different seasons on Reach, did we?"

    It was true, from what I had heard, the 'terra-forming' of Reach had an unfortunate side effect on the Planet's ecosystem. It had been nothing but warm, summer like weather. It stayed that way year-round. In school, however, we had been taught about Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter, even though Reach only consisted of Summer.

    "No." I shook my head, the two of us turning at the sound of an opening door.

    "We've arrived in a small town to the southern side of Vermont." Walter said. "It's name wasn't listed within our GPS, so I can't offer you that. Though, I seem to recall meeting Blaine here on several instances."

    "This must have been the place, then." I said. "What will you and Peter do?"

    "I have summoned a Pelican to escort Peter and I to my business' Headquarters." Walter nodded curtly. "When you've finished your business here, I implore you to stop by. We can have a spot to drink, and talk about further business transactions there."

    "We'll consider it." I said, as he walked out of the room. "I suppose we should check and see if anyone in town knows about him."

    The two of us exited the room, Jessica and Grant standing by what appeared to be the exit to the ship. Walter stood there, his hands around the tablet. He finished typing in something, before handing it back.

    "That should allow you to communicate with Daniel, whenever you should need him." Walter said, opening the door.

    Aurora and I met up with Jessica and Grant. I immediately regretted walking near the open door, however, as a chilled gust of wind rushed through the door. For the four of us, we weren't used to such cold temperatures. Walter, on the other hand, seemed completely unfazed.

    Without another word, we hesitantly walked down the stairs and onto the street. Walter and Peter, along with some unnamed fellow. I glanced around, people from all over were staring at us with different looks. Most of which were ones of annoyance.

    "OYE!" someone yelled from the side of the road. "Your blocking 'raffic!"

    "Fuckin' fla'landers." I heard the woman beside the man mutter.

    Walter growled in annoyance, tapping the side of the ship. Daniel took the hint, as the ship slowly rose into the air, before cloaking itself. Walter, Peter, and the unnamed man walked away, but not without giving the four of us a quick nod.

    "You gonna move some 'ime 'oday, morons?!" I heard a man shout from our right.

    Looking down at the asphalt beneath my feet, I saw strange yellow and white lines. The four of us stood on the right side of the yellow line. We looked in confusion at the man's massive vehicle, it was unlike anything we had ever seen.

    "Wha's the madder?" he groused. "You folks never see a 'ruck in your lives?"

    "What is a ruck?" Grant asked, turning to me.

    "No no! Smar'ass! I said a 'RUCK!" the man growled.

    "He's not saying his 't's." Aurora cocked an eyebrow up. "Is that part of the accent here?"

    "Yes! Now ge' 'he fuck ou' 'he way!" he warned, the machine he sat in roared.

    We glanced left or right, confused as to which way we should walk. Stepping over the yellow line, we waited for him to pass. Instead of moving his machine, however, he stared at us with confusion. His right eye twitched, and he looked at us with disbelief.

    "YOU'RE STILL IN 'HE ROAD!" he yelled.

    "How much space you need for that thing?!" Grant challenged, as the man fumed.

    "Don't worry yourself, Isaac." I heard a familiar voice from behind me. "Tell Maura I said hello."

    I turned to face the voice, as the man from my dream stood there. I shook my head in confusion, he told me he was alive in the year 2015. How was it that he was still alive?

    "You strangers aren't from around here, are you?" he asked, to which all of us shook our heads. "Follow me."

    We looked to each other, before following him onto the slightly raised asphalt on the side of this so-called 'road'.

    "This is a side-walk." he said. "Pedestrians walk here. That is a Truck, but there are other cars here."

    "Hold up." I said, before we could continue walking. "Is your name Morgan?"

    "Yep." he smirked. "I'm glad you remember me. Now then-"

    "How is it you're still alive?" I asked, glaring at him.

    "Family secret." he chuckled. "I know where you guys are going. You can either stay skeptical and get your asses run over by my community, or you can trust me and get to where you need to go."

    I was hesitant, but the others seemed to follow him without hesitation. Jessica, however, had other thoughts in mind.

    "How come you pronounce your 'T's, unlike the others?"

    Personally, I thought it was a silly question, especially following up with what I had just asked him. The others, however, seemed unfazed by the fact I just questioned his mortality, let alone the fact that I had already met this man.

    "I wasn't exposed to the accent quite as heavily as the others." Morgan shrugged. "Though there are some words I don't say the 'T's in, like Moun'ain."

    "It's very confusing, how can you imply what words your saying?" Grant asked, as Morgan chuckled.

    "Usually, we replace them with 'D's." Morgan smirked. "Hey you! You talk?"

    I snapped to attention, realizing that he was implying me. Shaking my head, he chuckled.

    "I should know better, I just saw you talking to Betty and Frank." Morgan smirked.

    "You really don't remember me?" I asked, as everything stopped around us, save him or I.

    "Exnay, on the 'we know each other'-say." Morgan growled, running his thumb along his neck.

    I looked around, my heart was racing. Everything had stopped, it had been utter silence, minus what Morgan had just said. No birds chirped, no 'cars' drove by, it was nothingness.

    "How did you?"

    "I could explain. Though, if I were you, I'd stop asking questions, and just trust the nine-hundred year old man, yeah?" Morgan glared at me with a certain coldness.

    Just as suddenly as everything had stopped, things began moving once more. I blinked a few times, before keeping up with the others.

    "We gonna lose you, fella?" Morgan asked, his head turned only slightly to catch me in his peripherals.

    "It's Archie." I said, Grant smirking. "I'm fine."

    "Say, you're from around here." Aurora asked, turning towards him. "Do you know where Blaine Harlowe used to live?"

    "Welcome to Vermont!" Morgan chuckled. "Where you know everyone in town, and usually where they live. It's a bit of a hike, but if you're patient, we should make it in about ten minutes."

    Just a short walk up the side-walk, we watched as it dissolved into the ground. The four of us hesitated, while Morgan continued his stride. He stopped, turning back towards us. There was no side-walk, yet he was still walking.

    "There are some places the sidewalk doesn't exist." Morgan said. "You're still allowed to walk here, but you have to be more careful about oncoming traffic."

    Shrugging, the four of us walked with him. It was odd, transferring from a place like Reach, where the sound of people was heavy out in public. Here, it was silent, minus the sounds of birds in the trees, and the wind rustling through the trees.

    Aurora shivered, and Morgan seemed to notice this. Pulling his over-shirt off, he wore a black t-shirt underneath. Handing her his over-shirt, she looked at it with confusion.

    "Most people would call it a parka, I call it my over-shirt." Morgan chuckled. "If I had more, I'd offer you all one."

    "You don't need it?" Aurora asked, as he shook his head.

    "I've lived in this State all my life. I'm used to below fifty degree weather. Hell, if I looked okay in shorts, I'd be wearing them right now!"

    Aurora turned back towards me, offering it to me. Shaking my head, I pushed it back towards her. She hesitated, before quickly wrapping the light button up shirt around her. In an instant, she stopped shivering.

    "It's surprisingly warm." she said.

    "Yeah, cool." Grant sighed, as Jessica smacked him once more.

    Finally, we reached another road, which intersected with the one we had been on. Confused, we stood with Morgan, who stared intently up the road, and back the way we came.

    "This is a four way intersection." Morgan said. "It's not different from a civilian Hog's road. Just look both ways before crossing."

    "There's no crosswalk?" Jessica asked.

    "This isn't the City." Morgan smirked. "If you're careful, the cops don't care."

    Once more, his eyes scanned up the road, and back the way we came. In an instant, he began to jog across the road, past the yellow line, and onto the other side. Following his example, I sprinted across, hearing the footfalls of the others behind me. When we met up with Morgan, we walked around the bend, and down a dirt road.

    "Woah wait." I said. "Where's the asphalt?"

    "It's a dirt road." Morgan said. "Don't worry, stay with me and you won't end up dead."

    As we continued our adventure down the dirt road, we were amazed, and a little unnerved, at the lack of human presence. I took a deep breath, fresh air, without the tainted smell of garbage and BO, filled my lungs.

    "Nice, isn't it?" Morgan asked, his eyes lighting up. "Oh, you guys will enjoy this."

    Just ahead of us, a small red building resided on the side of the road. It certainly couldn't have been large enough to fit a family, but in this strange place, I suppose anything could be possible. In front of the building was a sign, reading Martha's Maple.

    Morgan took us on a short detour to the red building, just off the side of the road we had been walking on. As we approached, I could see a house just behind the shack, smoke billowing from a strange, brick shaped rectangle on the top of the house.

    "That house is on fire!" Grant said, tensing.

    "Relax, it's just Johnny running his fireplace." Morgan said, placing a hand on Grant's shoulder. "They don't do oil or artificial heating in their house."

    "But it's smoking?" Aurora asked.

    "It's a wood-fire." Morgan said. "It's controlled, though, the house isn't burning down."

    Sighing with relief, we stopped just outside of the small red building. Morgan approached a door on it's front, knocking. Instead of opening up or down, or even swinging open, this door slid open. On the other side of the threshold was an elderly lady, who had her hands gently in front of her apron.

    "Hello?" she asked, as Morgan smiled.

    "Martha, it's good to see you." Morgan said, wrapping his arms around her.

    "Who are you?" she asked, blinking her eyes.

    "It's me, Morgan." he said. "You haven't been taking your meds, huh Martha?"

    "Maybe." she chuckled. "I know who you are, silly! You haven't aged in years!"

    "Thanks." Morgan smiled. "You still have your charm, Martha."

    "So, who're these cuties?" Martha asked.

    "Tourists." Morgan said. "Can you believe they've NEVER had Vermont maple syrup before?"

    Martha's eyes widened at the word, unsettling the majority of us. Within a second, she disappeared into the building.

    "What is this?" Grant asked.

    "This, is a Sugar House." Morgan said. "They make Maple Syrup in here."

    "Walter said that stuff was evil!" I said, backing away.

    "Walter Law? That guy's about as fun as a game of tag with machetes." Morgan spat. "I thought I saw him walking out of that ship with you all."

    "Don't go angering yourself, Mr. D-" Martha started, her words interrupted by a loud horn. "THANKS, ISAAC!"

    Crudely, the elder lady raised her middle finger at the vehicle roaring behind us. Turning our attention, it had been the same man from a few minutes ago, his 'truck' roaring down the street.

    "I'm sorry about that." Martha frowned. "That wasn't very kind of me."

    "He's a prick." Morgan snarled. "Where did you go off to in such a hurry?"

    "Oh!" Martha said, reaching in through the door.

    Turning back, she produced a silver tray, adorned by six small glasses filled with amber liquid. Cautiously, the four of us took one. Morgan looked at Martha, who nodded.

    "This is your lively-hood Martha." Morgan sighed. "I can't take this from you."

    "It's a taste test!" Martha chuckled. "I don't lose any profit from taste testing!"

    Morgan took one, while Martha took the last one. Morgan and Martha raised the glasses to their mouths, pouring the little content of liquid into their mouths. The four of us looked at the liquid, on Reach, we didn't have Maple syrup, period.

    "Drink it." Morgan smiled. "You'll like it, I'm certain."

    Looking among us, the others looked at me expectantly. Sighing, I lifted the glass to my mouth, an uncertain smile on my face.

    "I'm not gonna poison ya'll." Martha smiled. "Think of it like liquid candy."

    Pouring the content into my mouth, my eyes widened as a super sweet taste covered my tongue. It had a strange taste behind it, not unpleasant, in fact, it had been quite the opposite. It felt odd, when the liquid rushed slowly went down my throat.

    Smacking my lips together, I looked down at the glass in my hand. I wasn't sure what was happening, but the glass was definitely shaking.  I looked to the others, feeling the shaking feeling in my cheeks. My heart raced a little harder, as Morgan chuckled.

    "Is it an earthquake?" I asked, as Martha smirked.

    "No." Morgan said. "How do you feel?"

    In truth, I felt good. Like, REALLY good. My vision was shaky, but I felt filled with energy. In fact, I felt like I could run a five-kilometer run in a second. The others seemed to feel the same way, glancing at each other weirdly.

    "Hahahaha!" Morgan chuckled, pointing at them. "Well Martha, I guess they really haven't had Maple Syrup, look at them go!"

    "What'd you do to us?!" I growled, as he placed a hand on my shoulder.

    "Nothing. You're just having a sugar rush!" Morgan said. "It'll wear off in a bit. I'm used to this amount of sugar, so that's why Martha and I aren't shaky."

    Morgan turned to Martha, while the four of us quickly ran in place. Grant, as strong as he prided himself in, fell to the dirt and began doing a few reps of push-ups.

    "Thank you for the test, Martha." Morgan said.

    "It's good to see you, Morgan." Martha smiled. "You know, your old man's place got sold to the Harlowe's, way back when?"

    "Of course!" Morgan chuckled. "You behave now, you hear?"

    "No promises, Uncle." she smiled, before stepping back inside.

    "Wait." I said. "Why'd she call you Uncle?"

    Once again, time seemed to stop, as Morgan sighed.

    "It's hard to explain," Morgan sighed. "Put simply, I exist through time. I help people, like yourself, reach their destiny."

    "Martha is but one of the people I have helped out. She's not related to me, but it's a nickname she gave me long ago." Morgan said. "I know everything about you, your friends, and even Blaine Harlowe."

    "Because you're related to him." I stated, as he nodded.

    "Exactly." Morgan said. "Now, no more delay. We're getting you to my childhood home. I hope you still have that knife."

    Author's Notes:

    This is running on a bit too long. The next half of this will be on the next post.

    Thanks for reading!


    _________________


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    Thanks for Reading!

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    Shad0wChas3r
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    Posts : 1172
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    Age : 22

    Re: Whispers in the Dark.

    Post  Shad0wChas3r on November 10th 2015, 2:19 am

    As he said that, the world around us began to move once more. I had been ripped from my feeling of sugar rush, while the others still kind of twitched. Morgan turned to Martha, before nodding a curt goodbye.

    Walking alongside him, the others all followed along. It was a mostly silent walk, minus the idle whispers between Jessica and Aurora behind us. Grant walked with them, separating Morgan and I from the others.

    "So, why can't they move when you do that?" I asked, "Why couldn't Martha?"

    "Because I'm not helping them, or her." Morgan said. "It only works on people I'm currently assisting, you see."

    "So, if you know everything that's going on, why don't you do something about it?" I asked, slightly annoyed.

    "I can't directly interfere." Morgan sighed. "It's more of a side-lines kind of thing I do. I can help guide you places, but only sparingly."

    "Besides," he continued. "I don't know everything that's going on. I only have an idea. It's on you to determine the future, I'm just here to help."

    Nodding, we continued our somewhat leisurely walk in silence. Passing by some other quiet homes, we saw people tending to their lawns, painting their houses, or otherwise. Contrary to what Daniel had implied, these people waved, even though they had no idea who-all we were.

    "Daniel said these people were cruel and rude to outsiders." I said, breaking the silence.

    "It's a common misconception." Morgan shook his head. "We actually enjoy having tourists here. The problem is the morons that drive slow as hell to look at the damn leaves."

    "These are the same people that like to flaunt their money, and try and make us simple folk seem inferior." Morgan continued. "They also move into our State, and try to change things to make it seem more like the City, yet moved from the City because the didn't like it there."

    "Sound like real assholes." I said, managing a chuckle from Morgan.

    "No, those are people from Massachusetts, the State to the south of here." Morgan smirked. "We call 'em Massholes. Anyone that isn't from here, but act like I just described, we call 'em Flatlanders."

    "Are we Flatlanders?" Jessica asked, stepping forward.

    "No, you're Tourists." Morgan turned his attention towards her. "You're not moving here, you don't flaunt your cash, and you are actually decent human beings."

    Shortly afterwards, we stopped our pace. Morgan had taken us up a hill that stretched for perhaps a mile. In front of us, a humble blue house sat. It was two story, from the look. The front lawn was overgrown, as it clearly hadn't been lived in for many years.

    Morgan smirked, staring at the plot of land with a still face. He was clearly reminiscing on his past, while the rest of us looked at the property itself. Walking towards the house, my eyes turned to a small pond in the back of the house. It wasn't large enough to swim in, but definitely large enough to fit a few fish.

    "The house is run by a water generator, so it should still be powered up." Morgan said, turning to me. "This is as far as I go. You're on your own after this, mate."

    In a flash of light, he was gone. I stared at the spot he had been just standing, confused.

    "How on Earth did you manage to find this?" Aurora asked, placing her hand in mine.

    "Didn't you-?" I asked, stopping myself.

    I remembered Martha's reaction to Morgan when she first saw him. At first, she forgot who he had been, but after he reintroduced himself, it was as if she had known him her entire life. Did that apply to these guys too?

    Turning to face her, even the over-shirt that Morgan had given her remained. Though she didn't seem fazed at it's existence.

    "I saw this in that dream." I said. "That disembodied voice told me it was on a hill, with a blue house and a pond. Past the maple shack."

    It was a lie, but I hoped it would work. Seemingly, it had. She smiled, as the four of us glanced at the property. In the somewhat silence of nature, we heard tires on dirt on the main road far behind us. Turning my attention to it, I could see a pitch black Warthog in the distance.

    "Fuck." I said, my eyes widened. "ONI. Quick, get inside!"

    We hurried to the front door, which was miraculously unlocked. Practically barging in, I held the door closed behind me. Grant hurried to the kitchen, which was right in front of us. Grabbing a chair, he thrust it under the door knob. To our right was a giant glass window/door overlooking the pond and the fenced in back yard.

    Walking over towards it, hurriedly, I grabbed the curtains and drew them closed. Dust layered them, puffing out into my face. I struggled to keep myself from sneezing, tying the two strings closed. I had no idea if ONI was coming straight here, or if they were looking for us elsewhere.

    "This is Blaine Harlowe's home." Aurora said, glancing around in disbelief. "Look!"

    Pointing at a plaque on the wall, it read; Harlowe. Smiling, she walked over towards it, running her hand along it's surface. She frowned, thinking about what we had talked about on the ship.

    "We need to search the house." Grant said. "Those ONI guys will stop here eventually, I really don't want to be here when they do."

    "You actually need to leave." a feminine voice called from up the stairs.

    We looked in and among ourselves, before I slowly started up the stairs. Grant stayed with the others, while I looked about. In front of me, on a pedestal that appeared to withstand time, was a young woman.

    "Who- who are you?" I asked, as she crossed her arms.

    "It does not matter, leave now. she said. "I know ONI when I hear it. They messed with my family, and I will detonate this house if you do not leave."

    It was in that moment that I recognized her face from back in CASTLE base. My eyes widened, and I shook my head. I was taken so far a-back, that I almost fell back down the stairs.

    "You're Dawn Harlowe." I said. "Blaine Harlowe's daughter."

    "So you know my name, great. GET. OUT!

    "Waitwaitwait!" I said, holding my hands out. "I'm related to your father. There's been an incident."

    "I know of this incident. I've been connected with ONI's database. They're deleting every true thing about the Great War, and romanticizing how ONI stepped in and saved the day."

    "I'm trying to stop ONI from doing that. We actually have some data that was purged from CASTLE base. We saw a video with you, your father, and that monster."

    "Lasp was not a monster." Dawn shook her head. "She was a Sangheili Ambassador, and my best friend."

    "I meant no offense. Humanity haven't seen these... Sangheili, in quite some time, I guess."

    "Alright. So if you have that Data, why are you here?" she asked, placing a hand on her hip.

    "My friends and I are trying to gather all the facts, before we present them to the leader of the UNSC and the President of the UEG." I said, nodding my head in the direction of the stairs. "A friend of mine, goes by Shadow, led me here."

    "Of course he did." she sighed. "You may search this house, but I'm watching you."

    "Who're you talking to?" Aurora asked, walking up the stairs behind me.

    "Dawn Harlowe, daughter of the man we're trying to get people to remember." I said.

    Aurora took a glance at the AI of the young woman on the pedestal before me. Tears began to form in her eyes, as she sank to her knees.

    "Why're you crying?" I asked, kneeling beside her.

    "AI, long after the war, were formed from people's brains." Aurora said. "Usually, people on their death beds."

    My eyes widened, I had figured the AI was just built to pretend she was Dawn. We had never been taught that in High School, but I assume Aurora had read it in a book.

    " I don't like thinking about it." Dawn's avatar clenched her fist. "It's one thing to die, it's another to have your conscience thrust into a machine, and watch the ones you love age and die. Yet, you keep on living."

    "Before you ask, my AI was authorized to be given a Forerunner level ancilla upgrade. My matrices can continue working properly for another couple thousand years, if not longer."

    Standing, I helped Aurora to her feet. The two of us walked towards the nearest door, pulling it open. Kids toys lined the walls, neatly put away. Had it not been layered with dust, one would think that a kid lived here.

    "This was my room. When I was little." Dawn said from behind us. "My wife and I moved out in my mid-twenties."

    "Your wife?" I asked, turning around.

    How could that work? I was Dawn's descendant, if she had a wife, it would have been impossible to conceive children.

    "Don't tell me Humanity's gone back to being intolerant..." Dawn sighed. "Her name was Sona. We met when my Parents tried to get me into school."

    "You two had kids?" I asked, as Aurora turned to look at me.

    "Modern medicine is pretty awesome, isn't it?" Dawn smiled. "I don't know how they did it, they just took some DNA from both of us, and Sona was expecting. We had a daughter, her name was Summer."

    "I saw that look of confusion. Your face seemed uncertain, like you were questioning your very existence. Are you okay?"

    "Summer was my great, great, great grandmother." I said, as Dawn's eyes widened. "I saw it on a family tree."

    "That makes me your great (x4) grandmother..." Dawn pondered it for a moment. "Do you possess the family heirloom my father gave to me, and my wife gave to my daughter?"

    I thought for a moment, reaching for the knife on my hip. The only issue was, I wasn't wearing the holster. My eyes widened, as Aurora held it up beside me. In our walk with Morgan, I was too focused on questioning him, that I hadn't noticed she was wearing it beneath the over-shirt he had given her.

    Quickly placing it over myself, I held the knife out in front of the AI. A blue light scanned over it quickly, as she smiled.

    "That's it, alright." Dawn smiled. "Down the stairs, you'll find a basement door. Meet me there."

    Placing the knife back in it's place, I hurried down the stairs, Aurora quickly behind me. Grant and Jessica hurried back to the front of the staircase, looking at us with worry.

    "What happened up there?" Grant asked.

    "We found a clue. The Harlowe's have something in their basement."

    "Boy, your ancestors really dug the 'hidden basement' labs thing, didn't they?" Grant chuckled. "Door's locked mechanically, we'll never-"

    CLICK.

    "Never fucking mind." Grant grumbled.

    Walking past them, I opened the door. The four of us began down the stairs, as I closed it behind us. Lights flickered on the ceiling above us, illuminating the room below. When I cleared the stairs, a life sized projection of Dawn appeared.

    She clearly towered over us, giggling at the looks we were giving her.

    "I often forgot I wasn't human." she chuckled. "Before and after becoming an AI."

    "Who-?" Grant started, as I turned.

    "Blaine Harlowe's daughter." I said quickly.

    Silently, Dawn's projection turned to give us a clear view of the room. It looked like a miniature office, complete with desk, photo, and chair on wheels. I walked over towards the desk, where a skeleton lay on the desk.

    Dawn's projection frowned, as virtual tears flowed down her cheeks. A rusty pistol was in the skeleton's left hand, a hole in both sides of it's skull.

    "That's Sona." Dawn frowned. "I stood in this spot, all those years ago. Summer moved out of the house, after getting into a fight with Sona. Even though this AI was here, she couldn't accept how the family all but abandoned her. So..."

    She was silent, as the four of us bowed our heads in respect. One question loomed on the back of my mind, however. This implied Dawn was 'dead' before Summer left.

    "What about your father, or your mother?" Jessica asked.

    "They went missing a few months after my dad and I's visit to CASTLE base. I never saw them here again, nor did Sona. Her actual parents were dead. Her mother was killed by her bastard father, and my father and I locked him up some time afterwards."

    "Come to think of it." Dawn said. "Everyone her and I had ever known disappeared around that time. It's why I died."

    "How?" I asked, standing away from Sona's skeleton.

    A projection filled the room, Dawn having since disappeared. The video showed a world unfamiliar to us, new, shiny metal walls surrounded us.

    "It isn't like Dad to up and disappear, Dawn." one soldier man said, placing a hand on an unseen shoulder. "Besides, he was last spotted here."

    "I know, David." Dawn's voice filled the room. "That's why I've come looking."

    "What about your baby girl, or Sona?" a female soldier replied, standing beside the first.

    "You and David are here looking for him. What about your son?" Dawn asked. "You answer that question, you answer your own."

    Suddenly, a figure appeared in the projection, directly behind the other two. A blade formed in the figure's hand, a strange, magma red skeletal face stared at Dawn. Suddenly, the projection launched itself at the figure, until we were, figuratively, face to face with the figure's face.

    "DAWN!" we could hear behind us.

    "The Admiral's admittance has been authorized. Yours, however, has been formally DENIED!" a deep, british accent stated.

    Suddenly, the projection ended in darkness. Dawn appeared beside me again, her eyes cast down to the floor.

    "Since I died, I don't actually have the recollection of where this took place. My brother and sister, David and Naomi, survived with heavy wounds. Not nearly as bad as mine, though."

    "I was brought to a hospital, as were they. They managed to pull through, but were immediately discharged from the military. I guess a sword through the stomach isn't quite as survivable, however."

    "Next thing I know, I'm here, in this house. David and Naomi had been the ones to request my AI be formed. Vicariously, I lived in this house with Sona and Summer, waiting for my parents to return." Dawn sighed, before crying.

    "There is nothing more tortuous than witnessing your family age around you, and not being able to physically comfort them." Dawn sobbed. "To watch the woman you loved kill herself, because she had the feeling of utter isolation. I hope none of you feel that."

    The four of us looked at one another, before Aurora stepped forward, attempting to place a hand on Dawn's shoulder.

    "The least we can do is find out what happened to your father." Aurora said with a firm nod. "-and make sure the Public knows what he and the others did."

    "We know he was lost on another planet." I said, thinking a loud. "I've never seen anything like that figure before, though."

    "Neither had I." Dawn said. "However... my friend Lasp frequented this house. At the end of her planet's Civil War, those kinds of things showed up. Perhaps she would know."

    "How long can one of these... Sangheili live for?" I asked.

    "When her and I talked last, five hundred years ago, she suggested that a Sangheili that lived well and took care of themselves, could survive for two-hundred years." Dawn sighed. "Damn. She'd be dead by now."

    "Not necessarily." a voice said from the stairs.

    My eyes widened, as a pair of men in skin tight black clothes stood there, pistols pointed at us.

    "Who are you?" Dawn asked, turning towards them.

    "They're renegade ONI." I growled.

    "Renegade is the improper term." one of them sneered. "We prefer to be known as the 'Preservers'."

    "Why?" Grant snickered. "Are you guys made of jam?"

    "Funny." one of them growled, clenching his pistol harder. "I'll right that one down later."

    "Stand down." the other barked. "You've come a long way from home, child killer."

    "If you assholes hadn't dug around where you didn't belong, I wouldn't have killed him."

    "HE WAS MY SON!" the man roared, fire in his eyes. "He was doing what I told him too!"

    "-and I was doing as I was told." I growled. "It's not like I intended to kill anyone that night. You trying to pin all this on me is stupid and unfair to your son. YOU ordered him to kill me, and he didn't deliver. THAT'S ON YOU!"

    "You forget who has the gun now, kid." the man grit his teeth.

    "So, that makes you a strong man, hmm?" I taunted. "Pointing your gun at someone else? Wimps point guns at people."

    The man nodded to his partner, before walking down the stairs. Walking past Aurora and the others, he made his way towards me, pistol still pointed directly at my face. Pulling it back, he smashed it into my forehead.

    My vision blurred, as I stumbled back into the desk. He stood there, cockily.

    "There, I've punched you." he said. "Now I'll shoot you."

    "Wait." I smirked, blood trickling down my forehead. "I have a couple of questions."

    "Harold, no."

    "We're killing them all anyways." Harold growled, turning. "What?"

    "Firstly, what were your goals for CASTLE base anyways?"

    "Deep inside was a bunker from the Great War, containing valuable information on this group of Super soldiers, known as Spartans. One of which, in particular, is listed as a traitor within ONI. The man that owned this house."

    "My father was NOT a traitor!" Dawn yelled.

    "He disappeared from active duty without leave." the man growled. "He's listed as AWOL, and was posthumously dishonorably discharged."

    "Shortly afterwards, an event on a Galactic scale occurred, causing the Office to cut ties with other star systems altogether. It reigned in a time of peace. As such, those of us at ONI branched off. Swearing our allegiance to those responsible." Harold continued. "Us Preservers, are constantly keeping the Public's knowledge of the event, and the Great War, a secret."

    "How the fuck does blowing up an Apartment complex prevent people from talking about the Great War? What about the people from those times that wanted to remember?" Grant barked.

    "We waited for the Generation to dwindle, and then removed the curriculum from schools and history sites. The people themselves were viewed as senile and crazy, to a Generation that never had to live through it." Harold continued. "An Apartment complex could be blamed on terrorists, or a faulty gas-line. Due to the explosion you four caused at CASTLE, we decided terrorism was the best cover."

    "What do you gain from destroying Great War evidence?" Aurora asked, as Harold turned towards her.

    "If no-one knows of the Great War, than it can not be repeated." Harold shook his head. "The Event that took place put us in a time of peace. If war broke out, it would happen all over again."

    "Are you talking about the-" Dawn started, as Harold fired his pistol at her pedestal, shutting the AI off.

    "NOOOO!" I yelled, as he turned towards me, pistol against my forehead.

    "Ask your second question already. I tire waiting for it." Harold snarled.

    "Why is it my luck that I'm going to die to a dude whose junk is sticking through his clothes?" I asked.

    Self conscious, Harold's attention went down to his groin. Taking my moment, I bashed his pistol away from me. My knife was in my hand, at the ready. Taken surprise, his hand squeezed the trigger, the bullet imbedding itself within the wall. Stabbing my knife into his left shoulder, I kicked one of his legs out.

    Turning him towards his partner, I hoisted him up to my level, just in time for his partner to fire. The others dove behind the desk, as I held Harold's arm tight. Grant leapt out of cover for a moment, making damn sure to keep himself away from the barrel of the pistol.

    Harold's partner fired again, as Harold tried to swing his head back at me. I kicked the back of one of his legs, causing him to flinch. I heard Harold grunt, as yet another of his partner's bullets had inadvertently entered him. Grant had to duck back into cover as a result. Ripping my knife from Grant's shoulder, I plunged it into his neck. Harold gargled in surprise, while I pulled it across his neck.

    Grant knew that Harold would release his grip on the pistol as a result, and took the weapon when the chance arose. Pointing it at the other 'Preserver', he fired three times. One clipped the gun of the man, causing him to drop it. The other two plugged themselves within his chest.

    Tossing Harold's corpse onto the ground, I walked towards his partner. The man hadn't died, but had fallen onto the stairs in his pain. Grabbing his ankle, I pulled him down the stairs. He groaned in pain all the way down, clutching the bullet wounds in his stomach.

    "You bastards turned your back on Humanity when faced with something you couldn't handle?" I growled, placing my foot on one of his wounds. "You're no better than the Fascists that make up the Office NOW!"

    "What will you do? Kill me?" he smirked. "You will invoke the fury of those that came before. Can you live with yourself, knowing you will single-handedly destroy everything you've known and loved?"

    I looked to the others, clenching my fist around my knife. Sighing, I placed it back into the holster, before glaring down at him.

    "Don't worry, you won't be here if that happens."

    Growling, I lifted him by the back of one of his legs, and the back of his neck. He seemed rather light, in comparison to some of the things I've lifted over the years. He struggled in my grasp, but I did not falter. Hoisting the entire weight of him above my head, I took a knee, thrusting his weight down on top of it.

    There was a sickening snapping sound, as his arms and legs fell limp almost immediately. His eyes were widened with despair, staring at me with fear.

    "Y-you're one of the-" he said, the air traveling through his lungs one last time, before he fell limp entirely.

    "That's for everything so far." I spat, before pushing his corpse off of my knee, standing once more.

    "Brutal dude." Grant said, as the other two stayed behind the desk. "What the fuck did he mean 'you're one of them'?"

    "I can answer that." Dawn appeared once more, turning towards me. "I disappeared to give him the illusion that his bullet stopped me. My chip isn't even in there."

    "Please, what do you know?"

    "When I scanned the knife, I also was able to get a DNA reading from you." Dawn said. "I ran the biometrics through the database, and you are in fact a descendant of Blaine Harlowe, in more ways than one."

    "What do you mean?"

    "It wasn't commonly known, on the account that Spartan IIs rarely had kids." Dawn said. "Each child of a Spartan II had the augments passed down. It wasn't the complete level of augmentation, as a lot of them were acquired via surgery."

    "You, however, have increased musculature, increased bone density, and even a greater eyesight and level of hearing than a normal human." Dawn said. "I would never believe those augments could pass down that far. I suppose they are just as potent each time, regardless of the rest of the genes passed."

    That did definitely explain why I was always one of the fastest sprinters in High School, or how I could walk from New Alexandria to Menachite Mountain without breaking a sweat, unlike the others.

    "So... I'm a Spartan?" I asked, as she shook her head.

    "No. You have some perks of having Spartan DNA in your system, but you are NOT augmented. If you had the full augments, you would be a Spartan." Dawn said. "You can run faster, lift heavier objects, react faster, and spot something much farther than any-one of these three. That doesn't mean you should wear Mjolnir."

    I nodded, it was a lot to take in. However, it wasn't the time to think about these things. Instead, we needed to know where we were going next, and be on the way already.

    "Alright, so what's our next course then?" I asked. "You know your dad disappeared on a foreign planet, but can't remember it's name on the account that you died. You said Lasp would know, but Sanghieli, to your knowledge, only live two-hundred years."

    "Well, hold on." Grant said. "This fucker said that wasn't necessarily true. I doubt they merc'd her. Especially if they feared an outbreaking war."

    "It's possible that Sanghielli life-span was increased, as my mother and I acted as Ambassadors between our people, and we tried to get them to accept medical methods into their culture."

    "Wait, those creatures don't believe in medicine?" Aurora asked, as Dawn shook her head.

    "For the longest time, they believed that being a Doctor was the most shameful thing in their culture. To be opened by anything but an enemy's sword was an act of ultimate shame on a Keep. They were a very honor bound people." Dawn said. "If Lasp had enough influence, and the Sangheili actually did incorporate Doctors into their culture, it's very possible that she could still be alive."

    "How does that work?" Jessica asked.

    "My mother and I had scientists that projected that, like Humans, Sangheili would triple through advanced medicine. Humans, so long as they treated themselves right, could live up to two hundred years, without cryo. Sangheili, however, could potentially live for upwards of six hundred years." Dawn replied. "That was all recorded back when I was still alive."

    "So the chances she's alive is still pretty good." Grant nodded. "Five hundred years ago, bio-foam was an exceptional medical art, but it's since been made obsolete."

    "We just don't know when the Sangheili and Humanity stopped communicating." I frowned, as Dawn smiled.

    "Lasp and I talked about four hundred years ago. She arrived shortly after Sona... well, anyways. She had bid me farewell, and she sounded awfully finite about it."

    "What was her home planet known as?" I asked, as Dawn turned to me.

    "Sanghelios." she nodded. "Been there a couple of times. I even learned a little Sangheili while I was there."

    "Would you like to go again?" I asked, as she widened her eyes, looking at me with confusion.

    "I'm an AI." she shook her head. "I can't."

    "We have a tablet, right Jessica?" I turned to her, as she pulled it out of her purse. "We can put your chip in it. You don't have to be alone."

    Dawn's avatar's gaze fell to the floor, tears rolling down her cheeks. Turning her attention back to me, then to the others, she silently nodded, a smile on her face.

    "Let me prepare myself for a hard transfer." she said. "My chip is in a module under the desk."

    Disappearing for a few minutes, Aurora had located the module, beckoning me over. Jessica handed me the tablet, as I knelt down from under the desk.

    "One question?" Dawn asked, reappearing. "How do you plan to get to Sanghelios?"

    "We have a ship. It's capable of slip-space flight." I said.

    "No offense, but... neither of you seem like pilots." she said, crossing her arms.

    "We aren't, we have a pilot."

    "I see." she said. "One more minute."

    Once again, she disappeared. My eyes widened, however, as I heard an audible beeping in the wall. None of the others seemed to hear it, bringing me the idea that it was loud enough for me to pick up on it. With a flash, Dawn appeared once more.

    "You should summon your pilot." Dawn said. "He can track your pad, yes?"

    I nodded, as she smiled.

    "Alright, we need to hurry. You can take my chip now."

    Reaching down to the module, I delicately pulled the chip, as her avatar disappeared. Holding it up to the light, I frowned. The woman contained in this chip was not only related to me, but also the daughter to a hero, who is forcibly being forgotten by the very people he sought to protect.

    Worse still, he disappeared, and never knew of her fate. I gently placed her chip into the tablet, holding it flat. Surely enough, a small avatar of Dawn appeared before us.

    "It's different, but after how long I spent in this house's hardware, it's a welcome change." Dawn said, holding her arms. "You've summoned the pilot?"

    "He's en route."

    "We should go." she said.

    The four of us looked at each other, before walking over the two dead bodies. I started to walk up the stairs, when Dawn turned towards the skeleton laying on the desk.

    "I saved you so many times before." she cried. "Why couldn't you let me save you once more?"

    The others stopped, turning back towards us. I frowned at the small AI on the surface of the tablet.

    "When we get to the bottom of this, and we find that robot who killed you? I'll break him. I'll break him until he's nothing but dust, and I will do it in Sona's memory." I said, as she turned to me.

    "You're brave." she said. "Just don't be stupid. There's two of us now, y'know?"

    Without further words, I ascended the stairs with the others. Dawn shut down the tablet, as she was now on limited power. We walked through the broken front door, and out onto the front lawn. In front of us, Daniel set down the somewhat massive ship, yet the lawn was able to fit it without much trouble.

    The four of us scrambled to it's stairs, clambering inside. I hesitated, however, turning back to the building. Parked crudely beside it was that Warthog that chased us down in New Alexandria. I felt sick to my stomach, I had killed those two men, one of which was the father to the boy I killed.

    Suddenly, the house exploded into a fireball of crimson and yellow, wood splinters landing all around us. The force of the explosion knocked me onto my rear, as I stared at the place.

    "What the hell?!" I yelled.

    "I had to. If those people had other associates, and I'm certain they did, I didn't need them snooping around in there." Dawn sighed from behind my back. "If they found any clue pertaining to our whereabouts, they'd come at us three times as angrily."

    Standing once more, I walked into the ship, as the stairs folded in behind me, the door shutting. The other three poked their head out of one of the bedrooms, staring at me with concern.

    "Dawn wanted to leave no traces." I sighed. "We're both fine."

    "Speak for yourself, that was my childhood home." Dawn said.

    Daniel stood on the far end of the hall, looking at me expectantly.

    "Did you find anything useful?" he asked.

    "Not just something, someone." I said, holding up the tablet, with Dawn.

    "Excellent." Daniel said. "Keep her away from Walter."

    "Hello, Death." Dawn waved. "How's everyone?"

    "They're still assholes." he said. "Where are you taking these four?"

    "Sanghelios."

    "Say no more. I'm sick of seeing trees." Daniel said, before retreating back into the control room.

    There was the feeling of vertigo in my stomach as the ship ascended once more. I didn't have a charge cord for the tablet, but I knew it's batteries would likely die soon. Dawn seemed to notice this as well, before turning it off manually.

    She wasn't exactly what I was expecting from this trip to Blaine's home after the Great War. Though, it definitely did clear some things up about what had happened in the past. What that other man had said kind of bugged me, however. Was what we were doing putting the Galaxy at risk? What from? It also kind of blew my mind, knowing that all of this time, I was different than the others.

    Sighing, I trudged my way down the hall towards the bedroom I had woken up in earlier today. Aurora seemed to follow me. I quickly took my shoes off, stretching as I did so. Walking over to the bed, I placed Dawn's tablet on one of the night stands. I laid in the bed for a moment. Thinking about it for a moment, I took one of the pillows, and the blanket I gave her earlier, and made for the foot of the bed, at the floor.

    "What are you doing?" she asked.

    "I'm gonna sleep on the floor." I said. "You can have the bed."

    "You don't need to." she shook her head.

    "You slept in a chair. Have the bed." I said, as she walked over, wrapping her arms around me.

    "It's a big bed." she said shyly. "We can share it, uh, as friends."

    She climbed into the bed, under the covers, as I stood there. She even placed one of the spare pillows behind her, acting as a median. Sighing, I walked over, placing the pillow down on my side. Climbing under the covers, I tossed the blanket over the both of us.

    Just as quickly as it had been placed, the pillow had been removed, and I saw her, looking at me.

    "See?" she smiled. "It's not so bad. In fact, it's pretty warm."

    It was true, the autumn air had chilled me to the bone when I stood out there. The bed was a relief, to say the least. Laying on my back, I stared up at the ceiling, thinking about everything that had transpired. Harold had mentioned that people were killed for knowing about the War, if they weren't viewed as crazy.

    Did my parents know about the War? Had they learned about it from Alyssa, or the source she learned it from? What of Dawn's brother and sister? Their kids clearly had kids, because Alyssa was related to them, but were they executed after they had kids? Still, with every answer I received, a dozen more questions appeared.

    Turning to my right, I could hear Aurora lightly snoring, she was out like a light. I couldn't say I blamed her, it was a lot to take in, and just the walk to Blaine's house was tiring for the others anyways. That's when I thought about Morgan, who was that guy, and why did his voice sound oddly familiar to me? He said he was a guide, helping people fulfill their destiny, but what did he gain from it?

    Clearing the thought from my mind, my eyes slowly drifted shut.


    _________________


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    Shad0wChas3r
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    Re: Whispers in the Dark.

    Post  Shad0wChas3r on November 13th 2015, 10:41 pm

    Author's Notes:

    Halo 5 spoilers will be shown in the following chapters. If you haven't gotten to play Halo 5, or don't wish to be spoiled, you would be wise to avoid them.

    Unfortunately, this also means that some massive plot developments of this story will be skipped as well.

    It wasn't long before I was awoken to the sound of knocking on the door. My eyes shot open, as I sat up suddenly. Aurora shifted in her sleep beside me, while I quietly got up. Walking over towards the door, I disengaged the lock, allowing it to slide open.

    Standing before me was Daniel. He sighed, his arms folded behind his back.

    "This is your bedroom, isn't it?" I asked, as he nodded. "Sorry, I'll-"

    "That won't be necessary." Daniel shook his head. "I've come to check on Dawn."

    "Walter and I's company worked in conjunction with ONI several hundreds of years ago. Dawn, her mother, and her father were all co-workers of mine at the time." Daniel said. "I watched her grow up from a very young girl, to the bright-minded woman you've met. You could say I've come to think of her like a niece."

    "You have to understand that, while what you're doing is very helpful, I still don't fully trust you, or Walter for that matter." I shook my head. "I can't risk losing everything we've done for this."

    "I understand." Daniel nodded. "I have a charging unit by the bedside. It's inside the drawer. I can't say for certain her tablet will be compatible, but it's worth a shot."

    My glance turned over towards the bedside stand where the Tablet lay. I nodded my head solemnly, thinking of just how terrible she must have had it over the past five centuries.

    "Listen." Daniel leaned back. "We're going to Sangheilios. Things may have changed pretty drastically here. I'm asking you, please bring me with you."

    "Why?"

    "I have had training with Sangheili Warriors." Daniel nodded. "Something Walter always despised. I can help speak their language, where Dawn may not be able to fully. If things get dicey, I also know how to fight them."

    Rubbing the back of my neck, I took a moment to think it all over. The ship likely had an automated system to keep it hidden and bring it to us if we needed a fast way out.

    "Sounds like you don't really care for Walter either?" I asked.

    "He and I have history. However, where I do my job because I need to, he relishes in his." Daniel clenched his fist. "His blatant hatred for non-humans is part of the reason why I don't care for him. He also has the tendency to try and trap people into working under him. That's why I've neglected to bring us to him, like he requested."

    "Wow." I frowned.

    So there was reason for us to not trust Walter. He was manipulative, and he had some beef with non-human species. Sure, I could understand Humanity having some anger with our enemies after the Great War. However, from what Dawn and Blaine had shown me in CASTLE Base, via that recording, the Sangheili people and Humanity eventually became allies.

    "Fine." I nodded. "We would be pretty lost down on Sanghelios without some kind of escort anyways."

    For once, in the entire time that I've known Daniel, he smiled. Turning from him for a moment, I walked over towards the tablet. Opening the drawer, there was in fact a portable charger. Pulling it out, I hooked it to the bottom of the tablet. An orange light appeared on the side, indicating that it was charging properly.

    As soon as this happened, the Tablet turned on. Dawn yawned, before standing on the surface of the glass. She looked up at me, pretty confused, before I walked us back to the door. Silently, I nodded for the door to the control room. Daniel took the hint, as we walked down the hallway.

    "It's been a while, Dawn." Daniel said, as Dawn smiled, nodding her head.

    "Too long, Uncle Dan." Dawn said, before turning to me. "I'm sure Daniel explained that, as a child, my mother brought me to ONI for several years."

    "He did."

    "Everyone there thought she was precious, and definitely lightened the mood in the otherwise dark place." Daniel nodded. "Of course, back then, it was very hard for my spirits to be raised. Especially with Walter constantly breathing down my neck."

    "Speaking of War, where is he?" Dawn asked, crossing her arms.

    "Legion HQ, of course." Daniel said, pursing his lips in thought. "We heard ONI's scattered comm. for the retrieval of our friend here, Archer."

    "Archie." I corrected him, as he nodded.

    "Walter donated this civilian disguised prowler for Archie and his friend's personal use. I, of course, was the one he chose for the job." Daniel's hands clenching. "At ONI, I had heard you were placed into an AI, but I wasn't sure the reasons why?"

    "I went searching for Dad, with David and Naomi." Dawn frowned. "We engaged some strange mechanoids, when one of them, their Leader- he-."

    "Say no more." Daniel said, his eyes casting to the floor. "Is there a reason we're going to Sanghelios?"

    "Before the three of us went looking for Dad," Dawn started. "I messaged Lasp and her father, informing them Dad had gone missing. I told them, that if something happened to the three of us, to relay the coordinates to ONI."

    "So, you think that Lasp is still alive?" Daniel asked.

    "Not necessarily, but if even one of her Keep members still live, they may have access to her archives. She did get promoted to the Arbiter's left hand, after all."

    "The Arbiter's left hand?" I asked.

    "Long story short, the Arbiter is the one to unite the Sangheili Keeps, which are massive colonies of Sangheili people. Think of him like the President of the UEG." Daniel explained. "Well, he has a pair of warriors that act as his personal guard. Anch and Lasp I'bort. A Father-Daughter duo that were not only his guard, but his counsel."

    "Arbiter sounds a bit more religious than that." I mused, while Dawn gave me a stare of disbelief.

    "It really HAS gotten bad, hasn't it?" she asked. "Do you even know who our enemies during the Great War were?"

    "The Sangheili?" I asked.

    "Oh dear." Dawn shook her head. "The Sangheili were but ONE race against us in the Great War. There were several other races. Together, they formed a 'Holy Alliance' known as the Covenant."

    "The Covenant worshiped a highly advanced race that died out long ago, known as the Forerunners." Daniel continued. "The Forerunners are the reason technology is so far advanced for us nowadays."

    The door behind us opened, Grant, Jessica, and even Aurora walked into the room. They all looked at the three of us, before walking closer.

    "What's up?" Grant asked, rubbing sleep from his eyes.

    "We're coming up with a battle plan for Sanghelios." I said. "These two knew each other, so I was letting them catch up."

    "More importantly, we were warning Archie about the risks of being on Sanghelios now." Dawn said. "Without human contact for five hundred years, it's very possible they may fear our arrival as a threat."

    "We'll be landing in Sunaion, Dan." Dawn said. "Lasp, last I knew, lived there."

    Daniel nodded, working his way over towards the pilot's seat. Sitting down, Grant, Jessica, and Aurora crouched down beside me.

    "As for you three, I feel like you should know the brutality of the Covenant." Dawn said. "You are on a quest to enlighten the people, after all."

    "What you are about to see is some data I found in the data you uploaded to this tablet." Dawn said. "In fact, it'll be the first time I've seen it too."

    "What is it?" Grant asked.

    "It's the first recorded encounter my father had with the Covenant. Namely, a Sangheili and three Unggoy."

    The four of us watched curiously at the tablet, as Dawn disappeared, the video starting.

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////

    "Successful deployment." Blaine reported, stepping out of the SOEIV pod.

    "Josh, ready for action."

    "Phil, prepared for duty."

    "Morgan... oh go fuck yerself."

    The scene had been from Blaine's helmet camera, by the looks of it. Three ODSTs in their signature armor appeared in front of the view, the suit's advanced HUD indicating who was who.

    "Scan the station. It's not like ONI to just go quiet on this level of discovery." Blaine ordered, the three ODSTs blinked their acknowledgement lights.

    Our view continued forward, through a corridor with flickering lights. The panels on the ceiling seemed extremely out of place, with bullet marks and scorches lining the walls. Blaine's grip on his Assault Rifle seemed to tighten, the heart rate monitor on his HUD speeding up slightly.

    "Whatever came through here weren't rebels, Spartan." Morgan replied.

    I kept quiet, but the man's voice seemed awfully familiar. I had not only heard his voice before, but the face on the right of Blaine's HUD looked familiar, if not aged.

    "That's Morgan Harlowe." I said, whispering to Grant. "That's Blaine's Dad."

    So, Blaine had met his father after all! Something about that thought had really brightened my day. Shaking the thought off, however, I continued to watch intensely at the video. Part of me had wished I hadn't.

    Carnage layered the walls. Entrails of people were strewn about the room, with dried blood on the walls. The floor itself was host to a decent pool of blood. Blaine's heart rate monitor sped up as we heard a loud thumping noise. There was a deep exhale, but it didn't belong to Blaine.

    In the corner of my right eye, I could see something shimmering. It appeared Blaine had, as well, his gun training on the moving light. Firing a few rounds, we could see the outline of something about as large as Blaine standing there.

    Firing more rounds into it, Blaine moved towards the beast. Suddenly, the front of his rifle caved in, and we watched the light directly in front of him shimmer. Blaine grunted, as he was kicked backwards and into the far wall.

    There was more thumping, the invisible creature walking around the room. Scarily enough, the motion tracker in the far bottom left of the HUD didn't light up, though the creature was clearly moving. Standing, Blaine pulled a sub-machine gun from somewhere, though I assumed it was his hip.

    Firing a salvo in a spread in front of him, a few of the bullets met their mark. This also seemed to anger the beast, a subtle hiss filling the air. A sword made of pure light formed, Blaine's heart rate increasing.

    The beast charged at him, as Blaine hoisted a fallen concrete pillar from his right. Holding it up, the beast's sword cut through it, nullifying it's defensive purposes. Tossing one half of the pillar at the clearly visible sword, the creature's shields and cloak failed.

    "Alright, now it's fair game." Blaine snickered.

    The beast roared, charging with the sword again. Blaine dove to his right, as the beast slashed the wall behind where he had just been standing. Clambering to his feet, Blaine unsheathed his knife, the very one I had in my holster. Sprinting towards the beast, he jabbed the blade into one of it's eyes.

    The beast howled in pain, swinging it's sword violently. With his sub-machine gun still firmly in his other hand, he fired a salvo point blank into it's stomach. The Sangheili doubled over, purple blood spilling out onto the floor from it's abdomen. Kicking the hand that held the sword, the Sangheili dropped the weapon.

    Ripping the eye out of it's socket, the Sangheili held it as a replacement, swinging it at Blaine. The Spartan, however, backed away from each slash.

    "Use my own knife against me, huh?" Blaine tisked. "She's just not that into you!"

    Grabbing the beast's wrist, Blaine kicked out one of it's legs. The Sangheili swung, while Blaine pivoted his center backwards. Using the momentum of it's swing, however, he turned the knife back in, towards the Sangheili. To the alien's misfortune, the Knife entered the opposite eye socket, totally blinding it.

    Placing both of his mammoth hands behind it's head, he brought it's head down, and his knee up. We watched as his knee drove the blade home, killing the Sangheili. To his right, a trio of short, stubby creatures hobbled in. Sprinting at them, he grabbed one by it's melon sized head.

    Firing the remainder of his magazine into the second creature's torso, he span the first one around, tossing him into the third one. The two small creatures tumbled against each other, landing in the far corner. Pulling a grenade from his hip, Blaine primed the grenade, throwing it at the two stunned creatures.

    Turning his attention back at the dead Sangheili, Blaine retrieved his knife. The two creatures exploded in a hail of blue blood and bits, while Blaine shook off the gore on his knife. There was a loud crash, causing him to stand.

    "Report." he barked.

    "Some unidentified ship is approaching Meridian's atmosphere, sir." one of the ODSTs reported in comm.

    "Mission priority has shifted, this station is a total loss. Locate the server room, and purge all data." Blaine ordered. "Captain Ford, Sierra-115. Requesting immediate Pelican pickup. We have engaged unknown hostiles, aliens, sir. Meridian is under attack, I repeat, Meridian is under attack."

    ///////////////////////////////////////////

    "That's all the video shows." Dawn said, reappearing.

    "It's just as well." Daniel turned from his controls. "We've arrived."

    Standing, the four of us walked over to gaze out the cockpit. The planet, for all the trouble it had caused our people, was actually pretty beautiful. Green oceans, with massive deserts, greenlands, and mountainous regions.

    "What concerns me, is we haven't been hailed by a Orbit guard yet." Daniel said.

    Almost as if on cue, the comm. link crackled to life.

    "Grakashno Kromenspar Melenda!"

    "She says; Unidentified vessel, identify yourself!" Dawn reported.

    "My name is Daniel Krieg, I'm with a group of humans in search of our allies within your hierarchy."

    "Weesnart Zrashthen dun Arbiter clan Grashka?!"

    "Why do you seek the Arbiter's clan?!" Dawn translated.

    "A great deal of conflict has befallen our race. We seek the noble wisdom of the Arbiter for assistance." Daniel replied.

    "Astrarook! Menkala Debradon Arbiter Quarikalizan!"

    "Ha! Your kind would annoy the Arbiter!"

    "We fought to help your people win the Civil War of Sanghelios hundreds of years ago."

    "CRANDITHAR, ALGOS SHE DUL N'PRASEE NEPARA TALKOOSA THAN?!"

    "Disgrace, Dul N'prasee, what is it that you are doing?!" Dawn said. "I recognize that voice. Dan, please!"

    Holding the transceiver down to the tablet, Dawn cleared her throat.

    "Mengala, dopresian koalth Lasp I'bortee sanga?" Dawn asked, turning to me. "I'm asking about Lasp."

    "By the gods." a feminine voice came over the comm. "Dawn?

    It was a shock to Grant, Jessica, Aurora and myself. Dawn had not translated the voice, yet the Sangheili on the other side spoke perfect English.

    "Yes, Lasp. It's me!" Dawn said with a sigh. "It's been too long, my friend."

    "Indeed. Warrior Kin. " Lasp said on the other side. "Though I thought AI were stationary?

    "I am being escorted by some friends." Dawn said. "We need-"

    "I'm sorry, Warrior Kin." Lasp sighed. "Sanghelios is at a time of conflict at this point. Sunaion is under siege, and without help, it will fall within the hour."

    "What of the Arbiter?" Dawn asked.

    "Thel Vadum passed some time ago. His right hand, my father, became the new Arbiter. Though I fear he may be on his last legs as well."

    "Is there anything we can do to help, er, ma'am?" I asked.

    "I do not recognize this voice. This must be the escort. Greetings, human. I am Lasp 'Ibort, current right hand to the Arbiter, Anch 'Ibort." Lasp said.

    "Archie Branson. Descendant of Blaine Harlowe." I replied.

    "You... you are kin to Dawn Harlowe? I had always wondered what became of your daughter, Warrior-Kin." Lasp said. "Sunaion is under attack by alien mechanoids.

    I thought about it for a moment. I had no combat training whatsoever, all of the conflict I had been in over the past couple of days had been isolated fist fighting. However, I couldn't risk having such a rich lead be wasted, let alone one of Humanity's allies destroyed.

    "We can send support." I said. "We'll need whatever Human records you have available, though."

    "I shall see to it that our scribes gather whatever you need, any support will be graciously accepted. Though, I cannot guarantee survival, noble escort."

    Daniel turned off the transport, turning his attention to me. The other three also gave me a look of confusion, while Dawn smiled, determined.

    "There's three sets of ODST gear in this ship." Daniel said. "I'm going down there, with, or without your permission."

    "I'm going too." Grant cracked his knuckles. "My dad spent his quality time with me, training me things they taught him in boot."

    "It's my idea, and it's my quest." I stood. "I'm going."

    "No." Aurora shook her head. "It's too dangerous."

    "If these Sangheili have any remaining records of the Great War, and the disappearance of Blaine Harlowe, we need to help them." I said, placing a hand on her shoulder. "You and Jessica need to stay here, you know how to pilot this thing, and she has coordinates to safe places if something goes south down there."

    "One way or another, I'll get that data." I said, clenching my hand into a fist. "-and I'll have Dawn send it to you."


    _________________


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    Thanks for Reading!

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    I_IRONMAN_I

    Posts : 108
    Join date : 2013-02-21
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    Re: Whispers in the Dark.

    Post  I_IRONMAN_I on November 14th 2015, 12:55 am

    "They're still assholes." he said. "Where are you taking these four?"

    "Sanghelios."

    "Say no more. I'm sick of seeing trees." Daniel said, before retreating back into the control room.

    xD xD xD

    Funny!

    Lemme keep reading.
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    I_IRONMAN_I

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    Re: Whispers in the Dark.

    Post  I_IRONMAN_I on November 14th 2015, 1:02 am

    Arby's dead.
    Geez, all the original badasses are dead Crying or Very sad

    Hope these different faces can carry on their mantle! So many questions!
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    Shad0wChas3r
    Database Director

    Posts : 1172
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    Re: Whispers in the Dark.

    Post  Shad0wChas3r on November 14th 2015, 5:24 am

    I'd like to let everyone know that might have read Ironman's comment. NO, Arbiter does NOT die in Halo 5. This story happens to take place in the future, remember, so in this story, he dies of old age.

    The only canon this belongs to is THIS STORY! The actual Halo 5 spoilers haven't shown up yet!


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    Shad0wChas3r
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    Re: Whispers in the Dark.

    Post  Shad0wChas3r on November 17th 2015, 12:55 am

    "Listen up!" Daniel replied, tapping the side of the helmet in his hand. "This is the radio button. Pressing this enough times will change your channel. Our channel is Alpha Foxtrot Delta. This translates numerically to 1-6-4. You will remain on this channel at all times."

    Pacing between Grant and myself, Daniel seemed to have stiffened considerably more than he had been before.

    "We stick together, no matter what happens. If I tell you to do something, you do it without hesitations. If you don't, I can guarantee you will very likely die." Daniel turned to the two of us. "Keep your firearms in check, I shouldn't have to tell a couple of grown men what weapons of this caliber are capable of."

    The ship began to rock back and forth as we entered the atmosphere. It was strange, having this body armor on my person. Even as a body guard, the most coverage I was permitted was a kevlar vest. With all of our technological advancements, a lowly body-guard was still at the same mercies as they had been centuries ago.

    Daniel had supervised the two of us into kitting up for the incoming battle. In truth, I was scared. I spoke with bravado, offering my life to fight for a race of aliens I hadn't even known existed, numerous days ago. At the same time, if I didn't risk my life, and that precious data was deleted, it would be curtains for Humanity anyways.

    All in all, my life kinda sucked. Grant and I glanced out the window, mighty turquoise waves crashed upon the out of place city in the distance. Sunaion, a city of the seas. The waters touched the base pillars that held the city high, but did not once threaten the actual city itself. The door in front of us opened, my glance quickly turning towards Grant.

    Both of us placed our helmets on our heads. Diagnostics that I couldn't quite understand raced in front of me, before it cleared once more. Looking around, everything was pretty surreal. It had been the first time I had ever encountered, let alone used, a HUD before. Pressing the keys on the side of our helmets, I could hear subtle crackles as the old comm. systems activated.

    "The suit will offer you some decent protection. However, it won't last long, and it's still going to hurt a lot if you get shot." Daniel said. "Blink twice if you acknowledge."

    Grant and I followed instructions, as a pair of green lights flashed by our names on the team roster. Holding the rifle at the ready, I clicked the safety off. I still wasn't entirely sure where or why Daniel had these suits, or weapons, on hand. However, I didn't care. I was a lot happier with a gun in my hands, rather than just a knife.

    "Just warning you now, there is two of us in here." Dawn said in my ears. "I insisted for Aurora to place me inside your helmet."

    "Got it." I nodded. "Good having a Spartan at my back."

    "Don't get your hopes up, kiddo." Dawn warned. "It's a dead Spartan, remember?"

    Daniel waved his hand forward, diving out of the side of the ship. Rolling over his shoulder, he recovered almost immediately, weapon trained. On his cue, Grant and I dove out, attempting to roll on our shoulders. I growled in annoyance as I flopped onto my back, while Grant planted his face firmly into the metallic flooring.

    "On your feet!" Daniel barked, his MA5D scanning the area. "Things might look clear, we're not alone here."

    Grant and I scrambled to our feet, holding our weapons in a readied carry. It was awfully quiet for a City that was under attack. In fact, the only noise I had been able to pick up with the sound of the waves crashing at the support beams well beneath us. In the corner of my eye, I saw a bright flash of light, followed by a orange and black piece of metal.

    "Head's up. I just saw something, right side." I warned, a pair of green lights appearing in my HUD once more.

    Daniel took his left hand, pointing in the direction of the nearest door. Together, the three of us walked ever so slowly towards the doorway. As we drew nearer, the sounds of war could be more easily picked out. The battle had moved inside, and there was a chance innocent blood was being spilled.

    It was eerie, the sounds emanating from the other side of the door. Just as Daniel was raising a hand for the door controls, there was a hideous garbling sound, the likes of which that could send chills up even the bravest of souls' spine. Daniel pressed his hand to the console, the doors slid open.

    Surely enough, a Sangheili in nothing but rags fell to the flooring beneath our boots. Embedded in it's chest was a searing red sword of an unknown origin. Glancing our eyes upwards, a bulky creature towered over us. Besides it's already intimidating gaze, a pair of imposing appendages cascaded from it's shoulder.

    One of which appeared to be missing at the bend. Towards the midsection of it's bulky frame, a pair of tiny arms lunged for us. Yet the machine itself remained still, as if analyzing us. Suddenly, it leaned forward, a terrible metallic scream filling our ears. It's helmet, which had already been pretty terrifying, opened to reveal an orange skull.

    The sword latched within the Sangheili's chest suddenly disassembled itself, before flittering away into an orange data matrice. Almost immediately, the sword reassembled itself on the robot's arm.

    "Knight!" Dawn yelled. "They got an upgrade, by the looks!"

    I had no idea what she meant, but I didn't entirely like the sound of that. On the side of it's massive back, I saw a pair of golden lights. From my angle, it appeared that the two orbs were connectors to something, and that it was protecting something vital.

    Grant, Daniel, and I raised our rifles. Together, we opened fire on the abomination. While Daniel and Grant's shots pinged off of the hull of the monster, I aimed for the glowing white light. My curiousity was rewarded, thankfully, as the white light exploded. Not only did I get the joyous relief of knowing I caused it physical pain, I had also opened up a much more vulnerable spot.

    The Knight, however, did not intend to let me continue. It's head dipped low, while it's body seemingly lifted off of the floor. With it's arms spread, it slowly disassembled as a whole into an orange sphere behind it.

    "Shit!" I growled. "Where'd it go?!"

    "You wounded it." Dawn said. "You guys are the first Humans it's likely seen in forever, so it's probably calculating Humanity's fighting styles to counter you."
    "
    "Either way, it's not good." Grant huffed. "Let's just get these lizards a safe zone and look for that data."

    "They aren't just lizards." Dawn said, annoyed. "They're Saurian. More like Dinosaurs from Earth, but a lot more advanced and intelligent."

    "Halt!" I heard a gruff voice call from behind us. "I am Zul A'ronma. The Arbiter has requested that I be your escort."

    "A Zealot. Wow." Dawn mused. "Warrior, is the Arbiter in danger?"

    "So long as these abominations are suffered to survive, all of Sanghelios is in danger." Zul turned to me. "I will bring you to her at once. Be wary, these machines fight like cowards."

    Together, the four of us continued into the room. Zul huffed, staring at the corpses of fallen Sangheili around us. Shaking his head, he stoicly continued to walk with purpose. It was weird encountering the corpse of a Sangheili earlier, but a living one was even weirder. The size of Zul was unfathomable, he towered over me, easily by several feet.

    "Isn't she pretty great?" Dawn asked, as my eyes widened.

    "Zul's a she?" I asked, eliciting a chortle from the Sangheili.

    "It is a tad bit insulting to question my gender. Though I do not possess the mammary flesh of a human female. I assure you, I am in fact a Sangheili female."

    "My escort means no offense, Warrior A'ronma." Dawn spoke through my comm. "This is his first time interacting with your noble people."

    Zul stopped suddenly, holding her hand up. The platforms beneath us began to rumble. Zul's eyes were as wide as she could muster, her massive hooves slowly easing her forward. The water began to churn beneath Sunaion.

    "No." Zul shook her head. "The dormant one rises a second time."

    "The dormant one?" I asked, staring at the waves beneath us.

    From the water, a head of flawless gray metal emerged. The machine in itself appeared bird-like in appearance, as it's wings broke the water's surface. Grant and I began to back away, while the machine spread it's massive wings. As this happened, I felt the entire weight of my body forced backwards.

    I grunted when I struck the wall. Coughing, I slowly clambered to my feet. My gaze took to the massive machine looming above us in the sky. The creature, or machine, was easily as long, if not longer, than an Infinity class star-ship. To my right, the machines paused their actions, kneeling before the object.

    The Sangheili, oddly enough, were also held in place. In fact, I couldn't move myself, either. The gun in my hand felt like it weighed three tons, and the armor around myself seemed to be bearing down on me.

    There was a flash, followed by the arrival of a rather massive robot. He stood at an easy ten fet, a massive sword not unlike the Knight's formed his right arm. He stood above the machines and the sangheili with an air about him. I felt uneasy, and I could tell Dawn wasn't feeling too well either.

    "It's him." I could hear her growl in my ears. "Warden Eternal."

    "It would appear that the laws of my people have not made their mark on this people." Warden taunted in a mocking, yet smooth tone. "Accessing Human records is a punishable offense, Sangheili people. Yet you do not yield to my warnings."

    "Your robots attacked them first." I growled. "They were defending themselves."

    Warden's gaze turned to me. He did not hide his glowing orange skull face, instead, he showed it to the world without a care. Lazily raising his left hand to me, I felt the armor and the weapon around me become almost weightless. Instantly, I was in front of him, held by an unseen force.

    "Such bravado, from a clueless, desperate primate." Warden berated me, causing my blood to boil. "-and yet, I sense another presence. One I have not had the pleasure of encountering for quite some time."

    "Two of the same family tree." Warden continued. "Yet one is flesh and nerve, and the other is machine and hope. A Created!"

    "Forcibly, and by your hands." Dawn snarled from my mic.

    "You sought Spartan 115. He had more important purposes than to tend to your pathetic race." Warden chuckled at her hostility. "He served a more noble purpose, one devoid of trivial 'responsibilities'."

    "Dawn was more than a trivial responsibility! She was his daughter!" I spat. "What could a machine like yourself know about compassion?!"

    "Were it not for the fact that your flesh makes you fallable, I would say that I've come to enjoy you, Human." Warden turned his gaze from the horizon, back to me. "I am afraid that your efforts at this time must come to a halt. It was our noble Leader's wishes that the Great War between your peoples be deleted from known history."

    "What does that serve?!" I barked back. "War never changes! It was bound to happen again anyways!"

    "It is for that purpose that it must be deleted from your History. That Humanity and Sangheili interact with each other would lead to tension, and lead to another War." Warden's invisible grasp on me tightened. "The Mantle of Responsibility so decrees."

    "Urk." I groaned, unable to breath. "Take your... Mantle... and shove it."

    "I grow weary of our conversations, Human." Warden shook his head disdainfully. "This shall be the last time we meet."

    With sheer speed and force, I was launched back at the wall once more. Warden stood there, brandishing his sword.

    "You Sangheili pride yourself in your swordsman skills. I challenge you to test your mettle against the Eternal one!" Warden spread his arms, challenging the Sangheili.

    My vision was blurry, air finally returning to my lungs. Shakily, I reached for the assault rifle to my left. Raising it, I fired a salvo into Warden's back, his fellow robots recoiling in their shared pain. Grant and Daniel took my hint, shooting him in the glowing black orb on his back. Warden groaned in pain, falling to his knees. There was another forceful push, knocking Grant and Daniel to their back.

    Warden stood, his composure completely unfazed, despite his pain. My vision continued to fade in and out, Warden's gaze turning back towards me.

    "So be it. Sanghelios shall be spared." Warden said, cryptically. "This Human has spared your people, but doomed his own. Kill the Humans, Prometheans, recover the ancilla."

    With one last flash, Warden Eternal disappeared just as quickly as he had appeared. The floating machine in the air tucked it's head in, along with it's wings, floating backwards into a slip-space portal. I groaned, attempting to stand. The Sangheili, with no further distraction, fought the Prometheans before them.

    One Knight, however, stepped forward. It's face-plate shifted open, the orange skull staring deeply into my very being. I scrambled for the rifle, but it merely clicked every time I pulled the trigger. It wasn't out of ammo, it had been EMP'd by the slip-space.

    "It's okay. If you surrender, I will convince it to spare you." Dawn sighed, defeated. "You don't have to die today."

    I felt the pair of tiny arms grab a hold onto my chest armor, raising me face to face with the skull. To my left, I could see Grant valiantly attempting to bash the back plating off of the Knight. However, the metal remained snugly attached.

    Weighing my options, I either died here and now, fighting to my last breath. Or I allowed her to be captured, and lose all of my progress up to this point, only to be killed later anyways. Shaking my head, I accepted my fate.

    "We're all dead anyways." I sighed, thrusting my right fist valiantly into it's skull.

    The force of the punch did seem to do the trick, as the robot dropped me. Swinging another punch, however, did not yield similar results. Both of it's tiny arms braced my right arm tightly. I stared wide eyed, as it swung it's sword down.

    Then, it was searing pain.

    "NYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHGHHHHHHHH!" I roared, my right arm burning intensely.

    My gaze turned to what remained of my arm. Held on by a shred of muscle sinew and what little bone I had left. Blood splurted heavily from the wound, pooling at my feet. Grant's eyes widened, as he fell backwards. The Knight, relentless in it's ways, braced my limp arm, placing one of it's massive feet on my waist.

    With a push and a tug, I screamed as the remainder of my right arm was completely removed from my torso. The Knight stared at my limb with mock curiousity, before tossing it carelessly into the ocean. The Knight chittered, raising it's sword, while I attempted to crawl away with my remaining arm.

    It didn't get far, however, when the Knight fell to the floor beside me. It struggled to stand, thanks to it's bulky frame. It screeched that terrible scream, before fading away into orange ash. My vision began to blur even worse, red and black silhouettes pulsing on the edge of my vision.

    "Someone, help him! His vitals are fading fast!" I could hear Dawn yelling in my ear through the speakers.

    The last thing I saw, before passing completely out, was a two pronged, orange energy blade.


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    Re: Whispers in the Dark.

    Post  Shad0wChas3r on November 18th 2015, 8:45 pm

    Lights flickered all around me, my vision was waning in and out. I felt the sensation of being dragged, unceremoniously. My head wearily glanced about, fire and smoke, blood, shrapnel. It was everywhere. The smell of sulfur and carbon entered my nose.

    "Archie!" I could hear someone's muffled voice in my ear. "Hang on!"

    There was a muffled explosion directly in front of me, not close enough to cause me harm, but definitely close enough to feel.

    "By the gods, open this door!" I heard a voice directly behind me. "Zul, relay the order. We're tactically retreating inside the Hall of the Arbiter!"

    The muffled sounds of Grant or Daniel's assault rifles pounded against my left eardrum. The only thing on my mind, in this current moment, were relentless questions. Should I have accepted my fate on Reach, and spared the Universe this robotic apocalypse? Should I continue my course?

    How far did this go? Is there an end that justifies everything I've compromised? I didn't care what the Universe thought of me, I was doing this, because I thought it was right. Now? Now I was seriously questioning it. It was then that the realization of my actions had hit me. Humanity was going to be under attack, and it was all my fault.

    What did I have to show for it? I saved the Sangheili people a nightmare, and lost an arm. I was all for helping people, but in truth, what good came of it?

    "Listen to me." I heard Dawn say in my helmet, my hearing slowly coming back. "Blink if you can hear me."

    My body, in it's entirety, was numb. It was perhaps in part due to the fact that my right arm had been barbarically removed from my torso without hesitation. The other part was the hopelessness I felt in that moment. Regardless, I struggled even to follow her instruction.

    "Good." Dawn said. "It's going to be alright, they're getting us someplace safe. Just hang in there, okay?"

    My vision slowly started to fade again, and whatever she was saying after that was becoming so muffled that I couldn't even understand her anymore. Like that, I was out again.

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////////

    "Ugh, my head." I groaned, leaning upwards, raising my-.

    No. I thought I had raised my right arm to my forehead. However, when I gave the command, my body did no such action. Glancing to my right, I saw a bandaged stump, bloodsoaked, of course.

    "For a man that lost an arm, you have balls of brass if your head is the biggest concern on your mind." Grant said, sitting on the wall beside me.

    I gazed about the room. The walls were made of flawless stone, shining with a fine polish. Sculpted into the walls were several symbols, and even giant effigies to Sangheili of the past. Around me, several Sangheili tended to their own wounds, several mourning the loss of their companions.

    "Where is Daniel?" I asked, turning to him. "For that matter, where are we?"

    "Your friend is in the other room." Zul said from my left, a cast slung over her left arm. "As for where you are, I will leave the noble one to explain it to you. Whatever it is you came here for, I hope it was worth my people's sacrifices."

    Stomping away from us, my eyes cast to the floor. It was true, in my adventure to enlighten Humanity, I had inadvertently brought back the very reason as to why we were forced to forget in the first place.

    "Don't let her get you down." Grant said. "You really had me scared, dude."

    "You okay?" I asked, completely dodging his words.

    "Yeah. You should see the other guys." Grant chuckled, before his face returned to a grim sort. "When we were retreating into this place, your helmet took a nasty amount of shrapnel. You're fine, but Dawn..."

    "No." I shook my head. "She's not dead, is she?!"

    "No." Grant sighed heavily. "Well, not yet. Daniel's working on trying to repair her."

    Sighing with a semblance of relief, I gently placed my head back against the pillar I had been cropped up against. Closing my eyes for a moment, my left hand subconsciously rubbed my right shoulder. I winced in pain, the stub was still raw. The worst part, however, was I could still feel my right arm, as if it was still there.

    "Ghost limb syndrome." Grant said. "I'm sorry, Arch. I should've tried something. I just... I locked up."

    "No, I'm sorry." I shook my head, turning to him. "The other day, I should have just played Pokemon, and you and Jessica should have just gone on that date."

    "Those Preservers would have killed me, and you two wouldn't be the most wanted couple in the stars. Whatever planet that 'thing' went to wouldn't be under attack neither."

    "You and I both know that once you had died, we'd have been killed too." Grant sighed. "-and Humanity deserves to know it's history. Protection by means of death threats isn't protection- it's dictatorship."

    "Listen here Arch." Grant said, turning to me. "This ain't like those Superman comics. You're not going to make everyone your friend. Sacrifices must be made for the greater good of everyone. We can't all get out of this without a few scrapes and bruises. It'd be boring if everything were easy."

    "Innocent people may die because of that thing. It's up to us, namely YOU, to make sure they didn't die in vain. Otherwise, you aren't a hero, you're a douche." Grant said with a curt nod. "I've known you my whole life, and Archie Branson isn't douche material."

    "Thanks man." I sighed, turning my gaze straight forward. "I needed that."

    "You know I'm with you, one hundred percent." Grant said. "No matter what, I've got your back till my dying breath."

    Shakily, I attempted to stand. Grant noticed this, scrambling over towards me. Insistently, he pushed on my chest to try and keep me seated. Instead, I struggled. Caving, Grant helped me to my feet. Almost on cue, a Sangheili in extremely ornate golden armor hoofed over towards us.

    It's headpiece was massive and rigid, almost looking like a hack-saw in nature. Sharp armor trailed down the Sangheili's spine, almost like the dormant quills of a hedgehog.

    "Hail, escort." the Sangheili said, their voice much higher pitched than many of the others I've encountered. "I am Lasp I'bort. Arbiter and Leader of the Sangheili people."

    "A pleasure," I said, my stump moving forward. "Apologies, that was supposed to be an arm shake."

    "It is I who should be apologizing, child." Lasp nodded her head respectfully, despite the fact that she towered over me. "I had only just arrived when you were attacked by that abomination and it's guard dog. Had I arrived sooner, your arm would not be sinking to the bottom of the ocean. For that, I am shamed."

    "Do not shame yourself, ma'am." I shook my head. "Er- holy Arbiter. I would gladly give my other arm, if it meant the safety and sanctity of your people."

    "Yet your communications with our people were what caused the attacks in the first place!" Zul hissed from behind the Arbiter.

    "That is enough, Zul." Lasp said, turning to the Sangheili behind her. "As my left hand, you are to be an extension of myself. I have not disrespected our guests, and for you to do so not only shames yourself, but me as well."

    "My apologies, Arbiter." Zul bowed her head, glaring at me the entire time.

    "Do not let Zul's words fill you with grief, Escort." Lasp said. "These abominations attacked well before your ship communicated with us. She is quick to blame others for things that are outside of our control."

    "It is a shame that there are no more Spartans in your military, from what your friend Daniel has told me." Lasp recalled. "In fact, I'm surprised he still lives. As it is, I am the eldest Sangheili alive."

    "How is that, Arbiter?" I asked, as she chortled.

    "Your people, when they allied with mine, offered knowledge in medical marvels that have since eluded our people. With the introduction of these medications, Sanghieli lifespan has nearly tripled." Lasp clicked her mandibles together. "Come, I would like to give you a tour of this Hall while we have a moment to gather our thoughts."

    My gaze turned to Grant, who shrugged. Lasp placed a massive hand behind my back, ushering me forward. Together, we walked side by side, while Grant and Zul took up the back.

    "This is the Hall of Arbiters." Lasp said. "A Holy spot for the Sangheili people. It was once known as the Temple of the Ancestors some time before even I was born. Back when my race despised yours for some mute point."

    "It's so pristine." I said, taking in the intricate architecture. "In fact, it's beautiful."

    "Your words are kind. You are graced with the knowledge that you are the first Humans to set foot in this building." Lasp chuckled. "In times long gone by, such an act would be viewed as heretical. You would have been executed, as well as I."

    "Not to question your words, Holy one." Zul commented from the back. "What of the Spartan you said you had met, centuries ago?"

    "Youth." Lasp clicked her mandibles together. "It is true, Spartan One-One-Five did in fact set foot in this temple back then. Though, he entered as an honorary Sangheili. His entrance was not scribed as a Human entering, but rather as a brother of the Swords of Sanghelios."

    "You met Blaine Harlowe?" I asked, to which Lasp halted.

    "Indeed. He and my father were allies in the Great War. I had the utmost of honors meeting with him on several occasions. Dawn Harlowe, the construct that you have been escorting, was a dear friend of mine in her life-time." Lasp said, her right hand clenching around some sort of handle. "When I had received his final transmission all those years ago, I, and much of Sanghelios, mourned for him. Though, none could mourn so much as Dawn."

    "I could only imagine." I said. "I never really knew my parents well. So I never got to properly mourn them."

    "This noble cause that you have undertaken. It is a search for the Warrior, is it not?" Lasp asked, glancing down at me.

    "Yes." I nodded. "I want to know why he was listed as a traitor to my people, and why our history of the Great War has been almost completely erased. If what that robot said is true, all I need to know is why he disappeared, and why he's a 'traitor'."

    "I fear that, all I have is his last transmission. A monument that I maintained over all of these years. I viewed him as an inspiration, and I kept it so that I could remember him."

    My eyes widened, perhaps that transmission could offer us his last known location, prior to his disappearance. Perhaps it also held a clue as to why he disappeared. The trail had not died, and whatever that giant bird-like object was doing to Humanity right now would not be in vain.

    "May I ask to see the transmission?" I asked, as Lasp's head hung.

    "I'm afraid that it was heavily encrypted. When I first received it, I had a construct by my side. He decrypted it for me each time I requested. As your constructs go, however, he only survived for seven years. I did not learn how to decrypt it since." Lasp said. "I have kept it in the next room, where your friend is waiting for us."

    Without hesitation, Lasp escorted the rest of us through the massive hallway. There was an archway in front of us, and as we passed through it, I could see Daniel standing in front of an emptied altar. A repurposed blue rifle in his hands. His helmet's visor was heavily tinted brown, indicating that he was probably welding.

    "Operative, is there any sign of reparation?" Lasp asked, leaving my side.

    "Arbiter, I believe I was successful." Daniel said. "However, my suit is not compatible with having an AI chip in it."

    Daniel turned, however, as his gaze fell upon me. A subtle frown touched his face, as his gaze turned away for just a moment.

    "How you feeling, kid?" he asked, as I shrugged.

    "I'm missing an arm. Besides that, I suppose I'm doing fine." I said. "If my helmet wasn't the epitome of scrap, I'd offer to host her again."

    "Well." Daniel said, his brow furrowing. "One second."

    Turning back, he waved at us to turn away. Accepting his warning, we heard the hissing of plasma torching metal together. Whistling, we turned back. In his hand was a strange, cupped piece of metal. Walking over towards me, Daniel stopped just before me.

    "Before I proceed, I need your permission to experiment with this." Daniel said, just as rigid as I had known him for.

    "I suppose, what else do I have to lose?" I asked.

    "Arbiter, you know how to cauterize a wound?" Daniel asked, turning towards Lasp.

    She nodded curtly, as the handle in her hand ignited. The same, familiar two pronged orange blade I had seen earlier hissed into existence. She turned to me with it, as Grant stood in front of me.

    "What the hell?!" Grant barked. "You act all buddy buddy with him, and now you're going to kill him?"

    "Relax." Daniel said. "These swords burn hot enough that you can't feel the pain. The Arbiter is merely going to touch it to his stump to cauterize it."

    "Yo." I said, waving my hand. "I'm standing right here. Grant, it's not like I need a bloody stump. If his experiment can help Dawn, I'm doing it."

    Grant sighed, before stepping aside. He even was kind enough to kindly remove the gauze from my wound. Looking over, I kind of regretted it. Flesh dangled limply, ligaments that had refused to be removed, a few drops of my blood trickling to the floor. It was a mangled, chaotic look. Lasp bowed her head respectfully, before easing one edge of the blade across the skin.

    Like Daniel had said, the sword burned hot enough that I did not feel as she gently carved a layer off, rounding it off. Removing the sword, she deactivated it, placing the handle on her hip. My hand instinctively moved to the stump, as her hand lashed out and grabbed it.

    "I would not recommend that. You may not feel it, but your skin is very warm, it would not be pleasant to touch." Lasp said, releasing her grip.

    Daniel stepped forward, placing the cupped metal to my stump. THAT, on the other hand, I felt. It was like a million burning needles sinking deep into my skin, and it HURT. Growling with pain, Lasp took my hand, allowing me to clench as the pain continued. After a time, the pain subsided, and I looked over.

    Where the metal cup had been attached, floating metal pieces trailed their way down, to about the same length of my old arm. My eyes widened, as I looked at it.

    "There are some things I never told you," Daniel sighed. "If I may have a moment with Archie?"

    Grant hesitated before Zul and Lasp escorted him out of the room. Daniel sighed, running a hand through his hair.

    "I know a lot about Forerunner technology." Daniel said, pacing back and forth. "That's because I, along with Walter and a handful of others, are Humans from the days of old, millennium ago."

    "What?" I asked, turning towards him with shock.

    "We were all designed with specific abilities in mind. In total, there were eight of us." Daniel said. "Four would stand for destruction, while the others would stand for creation."

    "Walter represented War. His actions, his influences, all revolved around conflict. When he is on the battlefield, few can surpass him. He also holds the ability of charisma. There are few that deny his offers." Daniel continued.

    "I represent Death. My actions, influences, everything revolve around Death. My role was to ensure that things died when they were supposed to. Obviously, I'm not able to be everywhere at once, however, I am drawn to things that should have died, but haven't."

    "Then there is Pete and Lyle." Daniel said. "Pete you've met. He represents Pestilence. In order for there to be balance, plagues must be created. He prides himself as a doctor, but that is merely a ruse so that he can study and culminate disease."

    "Lyle is Famine, and as such has an unquenchable hunger. Though, his unique ability is to allow his DNA to morph into anything he consumes." Daniel said. "The other four are Life, Peace, Bounty, and Health. Though, I haven't seen them in literally forever."

    " Walter, Peter, and Lyle are capable of death, where I am not. Though, when they die, they are reincarnated into new hosts." Daniel said. "As such, their memories of the Forerunner era are almost nonexistant. We can sense each other, and are connected in more ways than one."

    "I'm sick of always being the one that everyone openly mocks." Daniel shook his head. "I don't have a special ability, and I've seen people I've cared about come and go. It's why I always seem so standoffish."

    "I'm telling you all of this, because I need you to trust me." Daniel said. "Walter will be looking for you soon. He feels you owe him everything, and that isn't the case."

    "This new arm of yours I borrowed from a Promethean Soldier." Daniel said, causing my eyes to flicker to my new blue glowing, black metal arm. "It even has all of the same capabilities of a normal Promethean Soldier's arms."

    Turning his head to the alter, I could see that he had been busy working on quite a bit of stuff, not just Dawn's chip. My ODST armor that he had offered me sat there, though it looked new, refined in a way.

    "With what knowledge I remember from the Great War, I was able to replicate as close to Mjolnir systems as I could. They were obviously dampened, of course, real Mjolnir would tear you to pieces." Daniel said. "You will have overshielding to protect you. The suit will move with you, increasing your reaction times and overall speed and strength."

    "Do not overwhelm yourself, however. You are still very much in control of the movements." Daniel continued. " I've even gone ahead and made it compatible with your new arm."

    "You're very tech-savvy, Daniel." I said, smiling.

    "When you've lived as long as I have, you have to find SOMETHING to bide your time." Daniel said, placing a hand gently on my left shoulder. "I've discussed some arrangements with Lasp. Zul will be escorting you wherever it is you need to go in a space Phantom."

    "What about you, or the ship?"

    "As we speak, your friends are being brought here to meet up with us. I will be taking the next ship out to return to the Legion." Daniel said. "I will tell Walter that you three died on Sanghelios."

    "Thank you, Daniel, for everything." I said.

    "Hey, it's been one helluva journey so far." Daniel shrugged. "Besides, it's also nice to have someone actually refer to me by my name, not my occupation for once."

    Squeezing my shoulder a bit, he walked past me, before stopping for a second. Turning back, he nodded.

    "As you encounter more of those Prometheans, you will be able to pick up their guns, and the arm will automatically copy the data. That arm on your body is the first of it's kind." Daniel smirked.

    "You can mimic any Promethean weapon known, so long as you've handled it. I've preloaded it with their Light rifle, a Suppressor smg, and a Boltshot pistol. You don't even need ammo, it generates ammo on the same generator as your shields."

    "Just understand that if your shields are down, don't try and reload your weapon." Daniel continued. "If things are truly drastic, the coding, from what I could tell, even allow you to form any shape you want with it. You could make your right arm a hammer, or a sword. Go nuts kid. It's all with the power of your mind."

    With that, he stepped out of the archway. Turning back to the alter, I quickly placed the armor pieces on myself. It was still bizarre, getting used to my new arm. It responded at almost a fraction of a second as close as a normal arm did. Eventually, I was fully armored. All that was left was the helmet.

    Placing it on my head, it hissed momentarily, before the HUD kicked in again. Following it's boot-up, I heard Dawn sigh with relief.

    "Never thought being an AI actually could hurt. Though, I suppose a matrix is very similar to a heart in this instance. You broke my heart, Archie. You do that a lot?" Dawn chuckled.

    "Glad to see you're okay." I nodded.

    "Likewise." her face appeared in the top right of my visor, just beneath my arm's interface. "I see you've been armed."

    "That's a pretty bad pun." I chuckled, as her cheeks reddened.

    "Sorry, I get that from my dad I guess." she shrugged. "So, have you found anything that could be useful to us? Where'd Daniel go?"

    "Back to his Legion." I sighed. "As for usefulness, the Arbiter has the last known transmission from your Dad somewhere in this temple. Apparently, he had made it universally known where he was going, but only the Sangheili and yourself were the recipients."

    "ONI probably had a semblance of what was going on and let him go." Dawn growled. "I can decrypt it, if that's the issue. I just need your to bring me to it. Should be as easy as swiping your arm across a screen."

    I could hear Lasp stepping behind me, along with Grant and Zul, as was determined by my motion tracker. Turning to face them, Lasp held out a metal spherical object.

    "Reach out for it." Dawn said. "That's a Sangheili message relay."

    "Thank you, Arbiter." I said. "Dawn is here, she'll decrypt it."

    Reaching out, my hand touched the orb. Dawn's face focused, numbers and words scrolling across my HUD for a moment. After a moment of processing, a video appeared in the middle of my visor.

    "Admiral Blaine One-One-Five." Blaine sighed, his helmet was off of his head. "Following the disappearance of Blue Team, Admiral Autumn Harlowe, Spartan Darryl-114, and I have relocated to an unknown Forerunner world."

    "Promethean presence in the area is severe. They've changed, something's different about them. No matter what strategic changes I do, they seem to know all of them." Blaine said, his eyes casting to the floor.

    "I remember this." Dawn frowned, her face turned towards the video, a tear running down her cheek.

    "S-she's dead." Blaine said, his eyes still stuck to the floor. "Met a big one. Called himself Warden Eternal. Only, there were six of him. We managed to take out four of them before he-. After she... Darryl threw himself at her killer."

    "Spartan 114 died shortly afterwards of sustained injuries." Blaine paused for a moment, noticeable tears in his eyes. "I fought the last Warden, before he stopped. I didn't even KILL the fucker. His master stopped him, pulling him back to whatever abyss he came from."

    I watched as his gaze swooped from left to right, as if he was looking for the next thing to say. Sighing with defeat, his head hung low.

    "I'm continuing my search. It's my duty as a Spartan to protect Humanity, no matter the cost." Blaine said. "I will find a way to retrieve Blue Team, locate Fireteam Osiris, and stop these damned Guardians."

    Blaine's face stopped, staring off into space for a moment, before his fist slammed the metal beside him in anger.

    "Those fucking AI. Trusted them my entire life, we ALL did. When I get my hands on his chip, I'll make sure I crush it with every ounce of my being. Then, I'm finding this 'Created Leader', and make sure they feel my pain." Blaine growled. "To anyone out there that receives this, tell my daughter Dawn that I love her. Do NOT allow her and her siblings to come after me."

    "I expect this to be my last transmission." Blaine shook his head. "I've left my last known coordinates in the encryption to this transmission. If I am not located within a day or two's time, do NOT come here."

    "Spartan 115, over and out."

    With that, the video ended, and I knew my answer. Blaine Harlowe wasn't a traitor, he had been scapegoated because of his last transmission. If what he said to Dawn at CASTLE base had been any hint, he was the last Spartan II known alive. Naturally, ONI thrust the blame on Blaine so that they didn't receive backlash.

    Clearly, Blaine and the other Spartan IIs hadn't stopped the Guardian threat. ONI decided to destroy all historical evidence of the Great War after the Guardian's subsided to prevent future attacks. However, they also decided to discontinue and delete all traces of the Spartan program to double protect themselves.

    Their greatest heroes, also now doubled as their only scapegoats out of the trap they had put themselves in. Reduced to nothing but dust and echoes, the Spartan IIs were only a myth as time went on. Preservers wanted to keep the peace, but retain information on the past, while the current ONI cared only for themselves. One way or another, innocent people were dying, and they were going to stand by and let it happen.

    Not only was I more determined than ever to get the real truth behind what happened;

    I was going to finish what Blaine Harlowe had started.


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    Shad0wChas3r
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    Re: Whispers in the Dark.

    Post  Shad0wChas3r on November 23rd 2015, 3:43 pm

    Author's Notes:

    I forgot to mention in the previous Author's Notes that this story is on an alternate timeline than the actual canon. That doesn't mean this is non-canonical to MY stories, it just means that the canon in THIS story is NOT the same as the Game's canon.

    Any characters that are deemed dead in this story DID NOT die in the game's story line. The spoilers for Halo 5 I mentioned earlier was the identity of Warden Eternal, and the other is whom this Created leader is.

    An update is in the works, I just wanted to slow it down a bit. No point in rushing/over loading you guys.

    Thanks for reading, as always!


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    Manny
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    Re: Whispers in the Dark.

    Post  Manny on November 25th 2015, 1:43 am

    Are those two things the only spoilers?

    I'll be honest.. I haven't really read any updates since you warned us about potential spoilers. It's not because I don't want to read it!
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    Re: Whispers in the Dark.

    Post  Shad0wChas3r on November 25th 2015, 1:56 am

    Don't worry Manny, I knew that the spoiler warning was the reason you weren't reading/posting.

    The only Halo 5 spoilers in this is the identity of the main antagonist and their assistant: Warden Eternal. Everything else, while may pertain to the story of Halo 5, have been twisted for the sake of this story.

    If you don't want the big bad's identity spoiled, than reading ahead is not advised. If you don't mind about that, and cared only for the fate of Chief/Locke, you won't have to worry about that. They are mentioned in this story, but what happens in the game to them is NOT mentioned. Fictitious events occur in this canon instead.


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    Re: Whispers in the Dark.

    Post  Shad0wChas3r on December 26th 2015, 11:56 pm

    Author's Notes: I have not given up on this story. After a brief hiatus, I've reinvigorated the ideas for which I want this story to go.

    I'm not yet ready to actually post the next update yet. However, I was kind of bored today, and just got done watching a whole bunch of movie trailers for no particularly good reason other than I was 'stare at my white walls' level bored.

    So, I decided that I would write a small teaser trailer in the style of an Action movie. It'll hint at plot points coming up, and give any current readers something to provoke thought.

    The song lyrics are for 'Failure' by Breaking Benjamin.

    Also, this will be written in the third person, not the first like the story itself actually is. I hope you enjoy, and a Merry belated Christmas to all of you!

    [Life will come our way,
    It has only just begun.]

    Dense, black smoke wafted high above the cityscape, giving the illusion of a tremendous thunder storm rolling in. In the street, fire rose from destroyed cars and burning buildings. People sprinted for their lives, the mechanical beasts showing no remorse for the scurrying people. The foolish and the brave stood their ground, however, brandishing whatever weapons they could. Ranging from baseball bats, to metal shovels, the people of Xion IX fought back against the metallic insurgence.

    [The world will die alone
    The frail will fall below.]

    There was an echo above the screams and weapons fire. Just at the perimeter of the city, a giant metallic bird-like structure floated, it's 'tail' dipped in the cerulean lake that the city ported. With a massive pulse, cars and people alike flew through the air, almost weightless from the concussive force.

    A lone purple ship descended through the billowing smog to the city below them. The sides of the ship opened, as a pair of individuals in black armor stood there. One with a metallic right arm, the other holding an old model MA5D in his hands.

    [Time will take our place.
    We return it back to one]

    The man on the left of the duo looked down at his robotic right arm. Recent, painful memories of his arm flooded to the forefront of his mind. Red hot pain, tearing of flesh. The orange glow of the Knight's skull, screaming in his face.

    At that visual image, his eyes snapped awake and focus. Turning to the man on his right, the two knew there was a big fight ahead of them. There was the clomping of massive footfalls behind them, an ornate gold armored Elite standing behind them. With a flick of their wrist, an orange two pronged sword fizzled to life.

    [The calm before the cold,
    The long and lonely road.]

    Glancing back down at the carnage beneath them. The man with the robotic arm lifted his right arm. With a single thought, the arm reformed itself into that of a rifle unlike anything he had ever seen. It's barrel was elongated and narrow, with a subtle blue glow running beneath the metal itself. The HUD of his helmet shimmered a gentle blue in response, and a warm, beaming smile from a young woman greeted him.

    [Look for the light that leads me home.]

    With a nod of her head, the three warriors tensed, weapons at the ready. As the ship got closer to the ground, the three braved the jump to the concrete.

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    A crater formed beneath the man's feet as he braced his right knee. Forty years he had fought a war he never wanted to fight, but here he was still. To his left and to his right, robotic creatures descended upon the civilians he swore to protect. Marines' rifles firing at the robots, careful not to hit any innocent people.

    Looking down at his right hand, a pair of metal tags rested gently. Clipping them magnetically to the inside of his neck armor, the man stood. The crimson and cobalt of his armor had long since weathered, the marksman's rifle in his hand's specialized fire decal had also seen much better days.

    [Tired of feeling lost,
    Tired of letting go.]

    Standing, the man easily towered over the Marines and people around him. Marching forward, his rifle held in his hands, people yelled to him, arms outstretched. Shrapnel, hardlight, and ballistics danced around him in the all-to-familiar dance he called the 'Chaotic Tango'. At that particular moment, however, his priorities weren't to support these people. His real prize was waiting for him, just up ahead.

    [Tear the whole world down,
    Tear the whole world down.]

    Continuing his self cadence, the man had a slight delay in his step. His mind raced, searching for something, anything to grasp onto to contain himself. He was broken, and he always would be. He couldn't ever be fixed, but he could be content. His icy blue eyes pierced the visor of his helmet, staring down the metallic bird in the distance. His muffled breaths echoed in his visor, his vision bobbing up and down as he continued his march.

    [Failure]

    The word echoed throughout his mind, as his grasp on the weapon intensified. Marines called out for help, as the robots around them descended on them without mercy. Picking up his pace from a subtle march to a formidable trot, the man continued on his path. On the far side of the street, seemingly directing the robots, a massive robot pointed his cold steel fingers at the undeserving humans, a massive sword by his side.

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    The two men stared at the robot pointing at the Humans. The robot relished in the unsanctioned slaughter of the innocent people just desperately trying to live their every day lives. The two, however, knew that this robot had been here once before. They had encountered him before, and they knew of his ruthlessness.

    [Drive the cloud away,
    We will fall from last to none.]

    The three warriors sprinted down the metallic streets, their footfalls rippling off of the anti-gravity field that the cars that once frequented the roads used to propel themselves. Using that same force for their own benefit, the three boosted forward. The man with the MA5D fired his weapon into a pack of crawling robots, with pincers for mouths.

    Meanwhile, the man with the robotic right arm fired a trio of hard-light rounds from his right arm's rifle. Using his momentum, he flipped over the head of one of the robotic Soldiers. With a well timed shot, the robotic hominid disintegrated into orange ash.

    With a shy wave, the innocent people sprinted towards the nearest emergency shuttle. Surprisingly, people of military descent stood at the bottom of the shuttle's stairs, firing their weapons at the encroaching robotics.

    [The dark before the dawn,
    The world will carry on.]

    With a quick look up, the man with the right arm rifle saw the massive robot turn towards him. Raising it's intimidating sword, the man grit his teeth, clenching his left fist. There was a flash of blue light in his HUD, seemingly emnating from the massive bird-like construct behind the massive robot.

    [Look for the light that leads me home.]

    ///////////////////////////////////////////

    What had once been a trot escalated into a dead on sprint. His rifle tucked to his chest, the giant man in red and blue armor charged at the massive mech with the sword. Getting within a suitable range, the man stood his ground, firing his marksman's rifle at the massive robot with extreme prejudice.

    The bullets, however, carelessly richocheted off of the robot's flawless metal body, seemingly without much effect. With a gaffaw, the Warden raised his blade, it's metal shimmering in the daylight. Rushing at the man with the rifle, the man barely could react in time. Holding his rifle up, the matte black weapon clattered to the ground in two pieces.

    [Tired of feeling lost,
    Tired of letting go.]

    Clenching both of his fists, the man stared at the rifle. Yet another memory of his past, forcibly removed from him thanks to this robot. In an act of defiance, the man raised both of his arms above his head, catching the second down-swing of the sword just above his helmet. With a bit of effort, he threw back the beast's sword.

    Closing the gap between the two of them, the man's massive fists hit the robot's chest armor with the speed and force of a high speed locomotive. The sound of metal grinding against metal screeched throughout the streets, the man and the mech fighting amongst one another.

    [Tear the whole world down,
    Tear the whole world down.]

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////

    Diving to his right, the man with the robotic arm narrowly avoided decapitation from the unpredictably close swing of the mech's sword. Rolling over his shoulder, he fired a few high velocity hard light rounds to the mech's face plate. Groaning in annoyance, the mech rubbed it's face, before brandishing it's sword for another swing.

    Jumping backwards to avoid the swing, the man's right arm changed it's form once more. This time, it formed a shield of sorts, made of the same material as the sword swinging against him. Holding it up, the man grunted as a bone chattering swing echoed across his arm shield.

    [Failure]

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    With a slight adjustment of momentum, the man in the red and blue armor wrapped his gargantuan arms around the robot that easily stood twice his height. In a full body tackle, the two scuffled across the asphalt, battling for dominance of strength.

    The man, however, had everything to lose, and fought as if the Universe depended on him. The robot, however, fought with a single purpose, to protect his master. As the two of them rolled around, the man in the red and blue armor growled, tearing the robot's right arm off at the elbow.

    Swinging it deftly at the mech's face, it stunned him long enough to throw punch after punch into it's face. Kicking the man off of him, the robot stood, sparks flying from it's face. Producing a newer sword, the mech swung upwards, while the man tensed. Calculating his movements, the man activated the thruster pack on his back just so to launch him towards the robot, but to the right enough to avoid the upwards swing.

    [Tired of wasted breath,
    Tired of nothing left.]

    Jumping with the last bit of energy he could muster, the man clung on to the robot's torso. Defiantly, the man scrambled around the beast, as it swung aimlessly in a vain attempt to stop him. Kicking his mighty right foot out, the man's blow shattered the robot's left leg completely. Falling to it's right knee, the robot grunted in pain.

    Turning almost immediately on his boots, the man thrust a mighty right hook into it's remaining foot, blasting it off. The Warden pleaded about personal boundaries, as the man jumped off of the creature's back. Floating in the air for a moment with his thrusters, he clenched his right fist. Plummeting down on it's back, the Spartan used the entire weight of his body into the punch on the glowing black spot on Warden's back.

    With a shout and a whirling noise, the robot's broken pieces swirled around in the black sphere on it's back, before disappearing completely.

    [Tear the whole world down,
    Tear the whole world down.]

    ///////////////////////////////////////////

    The young man grunted as he clashed into the other man. The two of them groaned, the Warden standing over them triumphantly. Holding his sword high above his head, the young man with the missing arm's friend shoved him off.

    Turning back, the sword descended down on his friend. Before it met it's target, however, the same glowing orange sword clashed with the flawless metal one. There was a sizzle, the robot and the Elite clashing swords in a fight for dominance. The man with the robot arm took his chance, pulling his family's knife from it's holster on his hip.

    Jumping at the mech, with it's back turned to him, he used the anti-gravity field of the road to extend the height of his jump. Shakily, he landed on the mech's back. The Warden struggled, attempting to shake him off, but his attempts to do so allowed the Elite to slash him a few times with their sword.

    Grasping the knife, the young man thrust it into the glowing black hole on Warden's back once. Cascading to his knees, the Warden turned his head back, unable to move. Stabbing the orb a few more times, an unknown force pushed the man off, as he tumbled down the road.

    Roaring in pain, the Warden's limp body decimated itself with the black hole on it's back. There was another flash from the bird-like mech, as the man raised his right arm to shield his eyes.

    [We bury the sunlight; Failure]

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    The Spartan stood with a huff and a puff, as the metallic bird above him sent another shockwave through the city. A peculiar glow formed on it, as he raised his arm to block the blinding light. The civilians and Marines that had survived the nightmare watched, however, as an orange light overtook him.

    -and he was no more.

    [We bury the sunlight; Failure]

    //////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    With some help from his fellow warriors, the young man recovered from the massive shockwave the Guardian had emitted. His suit's systems were a little wonky, but the young woman's face beamed at him gently.

    There was an orange light around the three of them, as the civilians they saved stared in awe. With a smile, the young woman spoke.

    "Daddy's waiting for us."

    Whispers in the Dark Part Two: Failure

    Author's Notes: Like I said, I hope it provokes some thought. Mostly, it was me giving you a taste of what's to come. Perhaps give you a little insight into what happened in the past, and what the future might look like.

    If you haven't gotten it at this point *though I'm certain you have*, the other point of view in this teaser was Blaine. The idea behind this teaser is to be symbolic of Archie following Blaine's footsteps. They may be separated centuries apart, but they are fighting the exact same battle.

    I hope you enjoyed, updates will be arriving soonish.


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    Shad0wChas3r
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    Re: Whispers in the Dark.

    Post  Shad0wChas3r on January 3rd 2016, 1:55 am

    Ragnarok

    "Pardon?" I asked, shaking my head lazily.

    It had been two days since Grant, Jessica, Aurora, and I had gone to Sanghelios. It had been just as we feared. Sigma Octanus VI was under siege by those sentient robots. Despite whatever agreement Daniel had made with Zul and the Arbiter, the Arbiter herself vowed to escort us four where it was we needed to go.

    "Ragnarok." Dawn said, her avatar appearing to the right of my HUD. "The Norse end of days. Y'know, the apocalypse?"

    "Sounds like a party." I sighed, sitting myself up. "Why is it relevant?"

    "Don't play stupid, Archie." Dawn warned, scouring at me. "Sigma Octanus IV is under attack. People are dying down there."

    "I know." Archie said. "How could I not? This whole 'quest' of mine is the reason they're dying in the first place."

    There was a muffled yawn to my right, as Aurora lifted herself off of the cold metal floor. The Lich we were riding in sure was fast, and impressive to behold. However, it wasn't very accommodating to sleep in.

    "What's the matter?" she asked, wiping sleep from her eyes.

    "Dawn and I are just talking." I said. "Don't worry."

    "Don't worry?" Aurora said, sitting up. "When I saw you with that arm the other day, I was terrified. You could have very easily died down there."

    "Thankfully he didn't." Dawn said, using my helmets external audio systems. "Though, he's got Harlowe blood in his veins to some degree. We don't tend to die as easily."

    "Well," Aurora said, gently rubbing her neck. "What were you guys talking about?"

    "Ragnakor or something like that." I shrugged.

    "Ragnarok." Dawn corrected me. "Like I was just telling Archie here, it's the-"

    "-Norse Mythology's predictions of the end of the world." Aurora said, twiddling her thumbs. "You're talking about Sigma Octanus IV."

    "Y'know, it's not your fault." Aurora continued, sitting closer to me. "From everything I've heard, you were a man that was just doing his job. You got hit with a severe case of 'wrong place, wrong time'."

    Dawn nodded, as if to silently agree with Aurora. With a puzzled look on her face, she seemed to be contemplating something. Every now and again, I could see her eyes drift from something to her right, and then to me.

    "Archie." Dawn said, looking to me with saddened eyes. "I was browsing through that data my father and I left in Mount Menachite's ONI base. I found something that I think might interest you."

    There was a flicker of light from the bottom of my helmet. With a click, it fluttered quicker and quicker, displaying a video upon the far wall. On the other side of the camera, a man sat. Years of stress and lack of sleep were very apparent on his face. His head was devoid of most hair, minus the circle goatee upon his face. His eyes seemed almost distant, the once prominent brown coloring had faded with age.

    "CPO Franklin Mendez, Retired UNSC NavSpecWeap." an off camera voice announced what I assumed was the man the camera focused on. "One of the most decorated Marines of his time, a skilled hand-to-hand combatant, and compassionately known as the expert mind that trained an era of super soldiers. Am I correct in these accounts, Mr. Mendez?"

    Mendez' eyes looked longingly off of the camera. I could see a flicker of some sort in his eyes, as if he was deep in thought. His eyes scanned left to right, a well of tears forming in the corner of his right eye.

    "Yes." the man replied weakly, albeit with a stern undertone. "I was the man who, ultimately, trained the Spartan IIs into who they became today. "

    "So, it's true that ONI, Doctor Catherine Halsey, Captain Jacob Keyes, and yourself were all involved in the indoctrination, physical AND psychological abuse of some eighty children? Many of which were below the age of seven?"

    "I was young. I was stupid. I was a soldier following his orders-."

    "-You, Mister Mendez, were a monster." the disembodied voice replied. "Nothing more."

    "I have my regrets of my actions from that time, yes." Mendez said shakily. "You can't deny, the Spartan IIs were a major success. With their efforts, the Insurrection was quelled way faster than it should have. When the Covenant came, it wasn't a matter of ethics anymore. Had I not done what I had, the Covenant would have killed us all."

    "Yes, the legacy of a Government that sanctioned several children's abductions, along with acts of cruelty and neglect, were preserved as a result."

    "You're the damndest Spook I've ever talked to." Mendez replied, feigning a stone face.

    "I know when a man is trying to hide his shame, Mendez." the woman continued. Before the end of this interview, you will be like putty in my hand."

    The man's visibly widened, as a crackling sound filled the room. Behind the man, a Marine with a shock baton stood. Sparks crackled from the front of the weapon, as the Marine dragged it across the metallic walls.

    "Tell me about Spartan-117, John." the woman said, as I could see her hand land on his shoulder.

    "One of the finest soldiers I ever trained." Mendez replied, glancing up at her. "The Master Chief, as you know, has attained every single medal and accolade the UNSC could distribute, minus the POW medal."

    "As a recruit, how was John?"

    "I could sense a fire within him." Mendez replied, his eyes scanning the far wall, lost in his memories. "He broke several of my assistant's fingers when they tried to take that damn quarter away from him."

    "So, he had an affinity to luck?"

    "Not just luck," Mendez smirked. "The boy was a winner. Every action he took, every motion he made; he did so with purpose. One of the very first challenges I proposed him with, he won it before I could finish my sentence."

    "John was unique, and dare I say it, I think he was my favorite of the Spartans. It was hard for him not to be. He had something about him, a charisma I had never seen before. His drive was admirable at best, though in that regard, he had but one rival."

    "You're speaking, of course, about Spartan-115." the woman turned to face him, her face still unseen by the camera. "Tell me about Blaine Harlowe."

    "Yes. You're husband. Mendez said, his eyes falling to the table.

    "If there were a word to describe each and every one of my Spartan recruits, and I could only use one," Mendez paused. "Blaine's would be Determined.[/i]"

    "Unlike 117's brash attitude, and ingrained strive to win every engagement he was encountered with, 115 was different. His actions were less about victory, and more about persevering. The moment I met 115, I won't lie to you, Vice Director, I was frightened." Mendez placed both hands on the table. "I was in the service for well over fifty years prior to my retirement in 2554. In that time, the only true moment of fear I ever held was in that one instant with Spartan 115."

    "Explain what transpired, Mr. Mendez."

    "In his first day at the camp, I awoke 115 as I had with any of the other late riser recruits; a baton to the stomach." Mendez winced at the screams of the children. "Where many of the other kids screamed bloody murder, Spartan 115 stared at me through the duration. Certain hatred was in his eyes, as if he knew something about me I didn't even know at the time. At the time, I had threatened him, but in truth, I was scared."

    "You mean to tell me you were frightened by the death glare of a ten year old boy?" the woman asked, stopping her pace for a moment.

    "You're his wife, you must have seen him give someone 'that look' once or twice before. Coming from an augmented Spartan, that glare is an almost assured sign that you'll be visiting Lucifer shortly." Mendez shuddered. " If you can imagine a ten year old boy giving you that look. It could only be described as the feeling of hot needles piercing my heart, running up my spine, and ice forming at the base of my skull."

    "Like 117, 115 exhibited qualities of a fine leader. Though, I could not risk allowing 115 become Squad Leader of the Spartan Recruits." Mendez nodded. "Where John is a Leader that would die for his men, Blaine was the recruit that seemed to rush into the fight head first. Not to say he wouldn't die for his men too, he just seemed so eager. Like he accepted being a Spartan. He was tactically gifted, and with a proper scout at his disposal, could have easily trumped John in any engagement."

    "Can I ask you a question, Ma'am?" Mendez asked, causing the woman to walk to his side again.

    "I suppose."

    "Your husband always seemed to be one step ahead of me during his training." Mendez shook visibly in his seat. "Don't you think it's weird that a ten year old boy knew everything from dismantling a weapon and reassembling it, to how a military cadence works, without ever spending a second in the military?"

    "It seems odd, yes. However, I assure you that Blaine's background does not suggest Insurrectionist involvement, if that's what you're getting at."

    "It's part of the reason why I suggested he be transferred to S.C.O.R.E." Mendez said. "If there is one thing I can end on about Spartan 115, it's this-

    Mendez stood from his chair, albeit shakily. All Aurora or I could make out was both his legs, and the legs of the woman interrogator.

    "Imagine the most potent fireworks you can acquire legally. Snap them in half and pour all of their contents into a frayed metal barrel. Add in a few sticks of dynamite. Those fireworks represent what I did to your husband. The barrel is his psyche, and the dynamite is his temper. Light that puppy, and nothing will survive."

    "What are you getting at?" the woman asked.

    "I do not envy the man that makes that man snap." Mendez said. "It's why I've done everything in my power to attempt to get Spartan 115 out of the Admiralty. With his Augments, and his influence. He makes that Walter A. Law and his Legion look like a bunch of chumps."

    "What you're saying is-"

    " You ever read a comic book before?" Mendez stepped closer towards her. "A Super Villain is usually formed when a Super Hero breaks."

    Before the woman could continue, the video cut short. Dawn held a look of shame on her face, virtual tears streaming down her cheeks. Aurora and I exchanged glances, as I held my right hand out. Materializing in my hand, Dawn's avatar slid to my palm, sitting in a 'w' pose.

    "What happened?" I asked. "You okay?"

    "No." Dawn shook her head. "No I'm not."

    "Alright." I nod. "What happened."

    Dawn shook her head, as Aurora and I exchanged looks once more.

    "D-" Dawn paused, her eyes avoiding my visor. "Do you remember when you and I first met, in my old house? How I died looking for my father with my siblings?"

    "Yeah." I nodded. "Warden Eternal killed you."

    "Do you remember how Warden implied he had my father in custody?"

    "Yeah, something like 'The Admiral's admittance has been accepted. Yours has been declined'?" I asked.

    Without another word, Dawn pointed towards the far wall. The projector in my helmet produced yet another video clip. This time, it was a street side security camera. Fire rose up from the rooftops, smoke billowing from burning buildings and wrecked cars.

    Those robots from Sanghelios, Prometheans as Dawn had called them, ran amuck throughout the City. Above one of the small stores, an automatic banner displayed the words; Welcome to Sigma Octanus IV.

    The camera zoomed in, however, to the visage of a mobile UNSC base. On the side of the mobile base, was the word Mammoth in big, white text. The massive machine stopped, as compartments along it's side opened. Mobile covers and sandbags were scattered directly in front. Marines poured out of the massive rig in the dozens, before a single Spartan stepped out.

    A precision rifle rested on his shoulder. Miraculously, the camera swapped closer to the Mammoth, allowing Aurora and us to see Blaine closer. His armor had changed from the last time either of us had seen him in a video, yet the colors remained the same.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------

    [Five hundred years ago]

    Blaine stood, as the Marines piled out of the Mammoth and into their battle positions. The Prometheans had set themselves within the City of Freedom's Pride. Looking down at his neck, he could see the pair of dog tags dangling from his armor. Darryl and Autumn were dead. Killed by that massive Forerunner mech.

    Clenching his fist at the thought, he was happy that at least Dawn and the others were safe. Though, he knew that if he didn't do this now, they were all as good as dead.

    "Set up a defensive perimeter around the Mammoth!" Blaine barked, the Marines saluting him. "Spartan IVs are escorting civilians throughout the City to this location. Give the enemy no quarter!"

    "Admiral One-One-Five. How pleasant to see you once again, and without those annoyances you called company." a voice called upon the wind.

    Directly in front of him, the giant mech, who identified himself as Warden Eternal, stood in the middle of an intersection. The Marines tensed, as Blaine held up a hand. He knew from experience that normal ballistics didn't work on Warden. They would need a Scorpion, Rockets, Railguns, or to shoot him in the back.

    "You pride yourself in the protection of your people. I have heard all about your efforts from my benefactor. What I see here is nothing but slaughter. "

    The Warden stood, his sword resting gently in the tarmac, his metallic palm on the pommel of the sword. Almost leaning against it, Warden appeared to be studying his free hand.

    "If you would only join me, as others have done before you, all of this pain would go away." Warden remarked, waving his hand. "Those other two knew nothing of the beauty that the world will be under my benefactor's careful tending. They could not comprehend it."

    "Darryl was more of a warrior than YOU will ever be!" Blaine barked. "Autumn, she was smarter than any COMPUTER could ever hope to accomplish."

    "Do not kid yourself, Admiral." Warden said with a sadistic tone. "Can you guarantee the safety of your family right now?"

    Blaine's heart raced. Warden knew Darryl and Autumn were dead, as he had been the one to cause them. How could he have possibly gotten to Earth? In a flash, Blaine turned his frequency to Dawn's. Upon no reaction, he tried David, or Naomi's. Finally, he dialed in Phil and Josh.

    "Blaine?" Josh asked, causing Blaine's heart to drop even lower, Josh almost never called Blaine anything other than sir or freak. "No, Phil. I'm not going to be the one to do that."

    "He deserves to know. He-"

    "What happened." Blaine said, fear in his voice.

    "It's Dawn, Blaine." Phil said, as shivers crawled throughout Blaine's form. "She went out searching for your last known position. You've been off the grid for a few weeks, Blaine."

    "WHAT HAPPENED?!" Blaine roared, the Marines turning towards him.

    Blaine turned his back, pacing up the ramp of the Mammoth, while Warden lazed on the intersection behind him.

    "She-uh." Phil sighed, choking up. "She died, Blaine. About a week ago. I'm sorry."

    "No." Blaine said, staring off into the distance, while sinking to his knees. "Not her."

    Warden stood, his interest peaked, as the Spartan shook his head.

    "NOT MY BABY GIRL!" Blaine roared, the Marines behind him freezing. "Not after everything I've endured, all the pain and suffering I went through. This isn't how this ends."

    "Sir?" one Marine said, walking up to him.

    "All I wanted was a family. A purpose in this life other than fighting foreign wars. I wanted a reason to wake up in the morning, besides pulling the trigger on a fire arm."

    "I WANTED MY LIFE BACK!" Blaine roared, as the Marine backed away. "Dawn WAS my LIFE!"

    Stopping, Blaine breathed in deeply and heavily. Slowly standing to his feet, the DMR that once was in his hands was now placed on his back. The only sound in the general area was the wind howling through the skyscrapers.

    "Warden," Blaine asked, without turning his form. "Let me ask you something; When someone is broken, and has got nothing to lose. Does he fight harder, than someone who has everything to lose?"

    Warden stood there, almost puzzled by the question, as Blaine turned back to him, his helmet disassembling itself. His gaze was towards the floor, and while his face from the side seemed stiff, a giant grin adorned his face.

    "He heh heh. I guess you're right." Blaine chuckled. "Here's a better question-"

    Taking a mighty step forward, Blaine's head snapped upwards, as his right eye opened. A glowing red iris appeared where his otherwise blue one would have been.

    "Do you want to have a bad time?" Blaine asked, pointing towards Warden. "'Cause if you take another step in any direction that isn't backwards..."

    There was an expulsion of energy coming from Blaine, causing windows to shatter in the nearby buildings, and the ramp beneath his feet to groan in protest.

    "You are REALLY not going to like what happens next."

    The Marines surrounding Blaine looked at him, before casting their glances over towards the Warden.

    "You think a fancy display of humanly affection will really deter me from my task?" Warden said, flipping his sword and catching it. "Don't insult me like that.

    With a powerful stride, Warden took one step forward, challenging Blaine.

    "Hehehe." Blaine chuckled. "BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"

    Warden Eternal stopped, as the Spartan stood there, his head thrown back in maniacal laughter. Turning his attention to the nearest Marine, he grabbed the man by his throat, wrenching the SAW forcefully from his hands.

    "You don't want to pick a fight with me, tin can." Blaine said. "I was MADE for war."

    Holding the mighty LMG in his hand, Blaine cracked his neck.

    "You want a war?" Blaine twisted the barrel on the gun into a ready position. "I'll give you a war."

    Author's Notes: Short, but that's because I want to spend my Birthday with the family. In the next installment, we'll see just how bad of a time Warden Eternal is in for.

    Will Archie truly be fighting for one of the UNSC's greatest heroes' legacy? Or is Blaine Harlowe the traitor everyone actually made him out to be?


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    Shad0wChas3r
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    Re: Whispers in the Dark.

    Post  Shad0wChas3r on January 4th 2016, 11:49 pm

    Author's Note: This installment DOES contain Halo 5 spoilers. This installment, for those of you who haven't played Halo 5 yet, will disclose whom the big bad is for the game. Viewer discretion is advised.

    Planting his right foot firmly into the ramp that he had been standing on, Blaine pushed off with a mighty step. Bounding over a wall of sandbags and Marines, Blaine's SAW opened up fire. A blanket of bullets erupted from the front of the Light Machine Gun, the armor piercing rounds just barely doing enough cosmetic damage to hurt Warden.

    Firing the entirety of the barrel at Warden, the Forerunner mech started to swing his blade in a circle in front of him, effectively deflecting further rounds from hitting him. Dipping low, Blaine slid on his knees, leaning all the way back as he slid between Warden's legs.

    Without further hesitation, Blaine jumped back to his feet. In the distance, a Phaeton was advancing in the air above them. The Orange Forerunner ship was clearly there to offer fire support to Warden. In his dead sprint, Blaine tossed the empty SAW to his side, before wrenching a mail box out of the sidewalk. Swinging it with all of his might, the old fashioned, obsolete hunk of metal soared towards it's target.

    The Phaeton, however, disappeared for a brief moment, dashing to it's left to avoid the incoming object. Opening fire on the Spartan, Blaine jumped off of his right foot, ducking into a nearby alley. The nearest fire escape presented itself. Jumping up, his arms expertly caught the railing of the old metal walkway. Turning backwards, Blaine flattened his feet against the wall, jumping up to the next flight on the opposite building.

    He continued to do so three or four times, before finally reaching the roof. Activating the active camo module on his armor, Blaine ducked his head in, charging towards the Phaeton's position. Diving off of the roof, Blaine crashed on top of the rig.  No matter how much the machine tried to shake the Spartan, however, he did not let go. Clenching his right hand into a fist, Blaine struck the external engine of the machine, fire erupting from the sophisticated air vehicle.

    With very little in lateral and horizontal control, the Phaeton was going to crash. Leaning with the machine, Blaine guided the Phaeton with his weight, pointing it square at the Warden Eternal. Preparing himself, Blaine pushed off with both of his boots. Flipping backwards, the force of his downwards thrust launched the Phaeton like a meteor at Warden.

    Landing on the sidewalk on both of his feet, the concrete beneath his feet cracked from the impact. Balling both hands into fists, Blaine charged at the Warden, while the Phaeton exploded on impact. Though it didn't appear so at first, the impact had done quite the number on Warden.

    Thrusting himself shoulder first into Warden's torso, the massive Spartan II had just enough leverage to make the Warden stumble backwards. The M6D pistol on Blaine's hip disengaged, ejecting itself into the grasp of his right hand. Bringing it up almost immediately, Blaine fired a salvo of rounds. Warden growled in annoyance, swinging once, twice, three times at Blaine. Blaine, however, back-stepped on each of the swings, chuckling with each miss.

    "I thought you computers were supposed to constantly run combat diagnostics?" Blaine mocked. "Maybe that's why the Forerunners gave you a million bodies. They knew you'd NEED them!"

    Jumping backwards, Blaine crouched on his haunches. Behind him, a skyscraper had him pinned, with Warden directly in front of him. Sprinting at the Warden, Blaine faked a dive to the right, instead sliding from underneath the Warden's legs again. Continuing his sprint, he turned back, firing his pistol as he went.

    In front of him, a Scorpion tank that had been commandeered by a Promethean Soldier turned the corner. Activated the thrusters on his armor, Blaine swerved to the right to narrowly avoid a tank shell.  He knew it took precisely three seconds for the tank to reload, even if the pilot was a machine.

    Jumping up onto the tread of the tank, Blaine grabbed the barrel of the tank. Just as he did so, the thruster systems in his suit recharged. Boosting himself forward, Blaine used the momentum, and all of his strength to lift the tank up and over his head, the barrel in his hand much like the handle to a two handed weapon. Planting his feet firmly into the concrete, Blaine tossed the tank over his shoulder and into the nearest building.

    It crashed and rolled through what appeared to be a designer clothing store. Fire riddled the exterior of the land tank, as it finally exploded, the Promethean Soldier inside confirmed KIA. He could hear the heavy footfalls of Warden's sprint behind him. Turning just in the nick of time, Blaine sidestepped the downward slash, back-stepping the predictable horizontal slash.

    "C'mon Warden? You think I'm just gonna stand there and take a hit?" Blaine shrugged. "As a spiritual successor to command the Promethean forces, you're a piss poor example to follow. I had more trouble with the old Knights!"

    "Silence, you worm. You insults are without merit, and I have yet to be defeated by you."

    "Apparently, you've got about as much memory in that processor of yours as an old 20th century desktop too." Blaine chuckled, continually back-stepping Warden's numerous swings. "I seem to recall killing at least three or four of your bodies with the others a few weeks ago."

    "SILENCE!" Warden roared, his left fist plummeting to the concrete beneath their feet.

    Blaine jumped backwards, flipping as a shockwave erupted from the point of impact. It was enough force to knock Blaine back, but he held true to his stance.

    "Oh, I must've struck a faulty servo." Blaine taunted. "Not even my daughter could match your temper tantrums, and she was plenty fussy."

    "I bared witness to her spats of temper when I slayed her with this very sword." Warden hissed. "It shall do you the father, as it did to the daughter."

    With a mighty over head swing, Warden's sword came down at Blaine. Blaine, however, lifted both of his hands above his head, catching the sword on both broad sides of the blade. Stopping it, there was a wave of dust that kicked up from his feet, a small crater forming at his feet.

    "No." Blaine growled. "I'm not going to let myself die, not until I break your leader's AI chip in my goddamn hand."

    With a mighty boot to Warden's midsection, Blaine successfully wrenched the sword from Warden's grasp. Flipping it in his hands, Blaine swung a few times, Warden Eternal back-stepping each time. Jumping backwards, Blaine raised the sword above his head, striking it down into the concrete. With the force of the blow, the concrete created fissures that surged forward from Blaine's position. Pillars of rock and concrete jutted out of these fissures, striking the Warden in his midsection and legs.

    Leaving the sword in it's position, Blaine thrust his fully body into the Warden's torso. With the momentum Blaine had gathered, he practically dragged Warden Eternal through the entire ground floor of two skyscrapers. When he finally stopped himself, Warden rolled across the floor.

    They were now inside of a History museum, this one focused solely on the Human-Covenant War. As Warden rolled, Blaine's eyes scanned the room. He knew that every weapon in this museum was fully functional, on the account that they were actual weapons used in the war. An act of owning authentic memorabilia. To his right, one of the cases had been shattered by the Warden during his roll.

    Grasping the handle of a hammer about the height of Blaine, Blaine charged Warden one last time. Warden stood, albeit shakily, as Blaine approached. Sparks shot up one of Warden's legs, as some sort of fluid oozed from his energized skull. With a mighty swing to his left, Blaine's hammer made purchase on Warden's torso.

    "You can do what you want to me." Blaine growled.

    As the Gravity boosters in the hammer initialized, Warden was sent soaring to Blaine's immediately left. Rolling across the floor, Warden groaned as his body took on astronomical damage. Before Warden could fully stand, Blaine swung the hammer to the right this time, launching Warden to Blaine's right.

    "You can say what you want about me." Blaine snarled.

    Warden groaned at every bounce on the marble floor, crashing through the fall of Reach memorial exhibit. Crashing through a model of the Pillar of Autumn, Warden sat on the floor, his arms wrapped around the two halves of the Autumn.

    Blaine marched towards Warden, his helmet still disengaged. Red iris' glowed intensely in his eyes. Gripping the hammer in his hand, Blaine's march was slow and methodical, Warden grunted, the servos in his arms and legs were now malfunctioning as a result of his beating.

    Then, Blaine stood there, the head of the hammer held beneath Warden's 'chin'. Pushing upwards, he was forced to stare up at the Spartan's face.

    "Fuck with my family though?" Blaine challenged, gritting his teeth, his eyes flashing a more brilliant red. "You're gonna have a bad time."

    Swinging the flat side of the hammer's head down underneath the Warden, Blaine had intensified the anti-gravity effect of the hammer, launching Warden up towards the ceiling. With a crash, Warden fell upon Blaine. The Spartan wound up for a mighty swing, the head of the hammer crashing with a scrape against Warden's torso. Warden growled in pain as he sailed through the air to the nearby metal wall. With the force he hit the wall, he had dented it, however, the wall remained sturdy, and he bounced back towards Blaine once more.

    Winding up for a follow up swing, this action of swinging at Warden, and Warden bouncing off of the walls in all direction happened several other times. Each one performing irreparable damage to both the Warden's chassis and the museum itself. Blaine, on the other hand, could give two fucks less.

    Upon Warden's final approach, Blaine flipped the hammer in his head, the bladed side ready to strike Warden. Swinging upwards just as Warden was going through, the blade caught in Warden's synthetic neck. Using his might, Blaine flipped the mech over his head, slamming Warden full force into the marble at his feet. A crater relative to the size of Warden Eternal formed beneath the mech. Sparks erupted across his body, as Warden was unable to move.

    Blaine walked over, crackling the joints in his hands. His hammer remained embedded in Warden's neck. Without hesitation, or another word, Blaine wrapped his massive right palm on the edge of Warden's 'chin'. With a tug, wires became exposed, more sparks filling the air.

    "I am the Warden Eternal! I AM IMMORTAL!"

    With a mighty tear, Blaine successfully, and quite brutally, ripped Warden's head from his shoulder. Holding the head in his hand, Blaine stared into Warden's eye sockets.

    "You're nothing but scrap metal. When I find Cortana... she will be too." Blaine snarled. "After what she made John and the rest of Blue team go through. After all the innocent blood she's spilled. I'll make sure there isn't a single matrix left of her."

    "You're different than the Master Chief. 115." Warden said, shakily. "Where he fights for a sense of duty, and a childish desire to win. You're different. I wonder, what do you fight for?"

    "I fight for those that don't get a chance to win." Blaine said coldly. "For those unfortunate souls out there that are looking for a purpose in this cold, harsh, unforgiving Universe."

    "I fight, and will continue to fight, for my family." Blaine growled. "I fight, so bullies like you and your damned Creators have something to fear when you go to bed at night. That's what I fight for."
    "Today though?" Blaine shook with a mixture of grief and rage. "Today I fight for my daughter, and her memory."

    To Blaine's right, a trash bin resided, virtually untouched despite the condition of the rest of the Reach exhibit. Slamming Warden's head into the bin, Blaine clenched his fists.

    "Get dunked on." Blaine spat into the rubbish bin, before his helmet reassembled itself.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    "Holy shit." I mused.

    The majority of the fight we had witnessed was through the eyes of several security cameras. I had been impressed when I witnessed the fight at the Orphanage a few days ago. However, what Autumn and I had just watched was not just a man with nothing to lose fighting for the memory of his family.

    No, I saw a clash of the Titans. Both combatants represented the Leadership of their faction. Blaine was a symbol of Humanity and how far it had come at the time, and Warden was symbolic of the Forerunners, what they had been, and what would happen if he succeeded.

    However, I couldn't help but feel a pang of regret begin to form in my heart. Both Dawn and Blaine had been tricked into believing the other's fates. Dawn believed the Warden had taken her father away to some far away place, and Blaine had believed that she was safe. Wherever Dawn had died, Blaine had been several weeks before, and had only just returned a week after her passing.

    In the palm of my hand, Dawn seemed to be curled into a ball. I couldn't blame her. I didn't know Blaine Harlowe as well as she had. However, something about him in this particular recording seemed off compared to the other recordings I had seen of him. I knew instantly what Mendez had meant in that prior interview. Blaine, and the other Spartan IIs, were strong individuals.

    However, they were no stranger to mental inconsistencies, as a result of their psychological and physiological abuse. Blaine, as Dawn had told me, once worried her mother when they first met. Spartan John-117, the Master Chief, took death as a natural way of life. He honored the dead in his own way, by preserving their memories.

    Blaine, on the other hand. Death wasn't viewed as natural to him, it was either something he feared, or he anticipated. If he couldn't anticipate it's arrival, it bothered him to no end. He couldn't handle the emotional stress it laid upon him. Dawn told me of one story where Blaine had snapped a dude's wrist during her older brother and sister's augmentation procedures, because he was transporting the drop-outs to the morgue for cremation.

    "That's awful." Aurora piped in, interrupting my chain of thought. "It must be terrible thinking that your daughter is safe, just after your brother and wife die in front of you. Only to find out that she had died, to the same cause, a week prior."

    "I died because he was missing for weeks." Dawn said. "I even went to New Alexandria on Reach, and carved on his tree because I thought he was dead."

    "He must have been trapped in a slip-space bubble just after his engagement with Warden, after your mother and uncle died." I said. "I remember learning about that in Physics that slip-space bubbles were suspended 'rifts' of time that could preserve life for decades, even centuries, maybe longer."

    "He must've reappeared in normal space about a week after you went searching." Autumn said, sliding closer to me, leaning down towards Dawn's avatar. "I'm terribly sorry, I wish there was something I could do."

    "You might not be able to." I said, pulling my hand closer to my face. "-But I can. I'll talk to the Arbiter. We're going to Sigma Octanus IV. Your Dad's last known position, according to this video, was defending civilians for evac."

    "If we can find a clue to how to stop these bird-like constructs, it's by following in his footsteps, like we have been." I continued. "We know now why he was deemed as a traitor to the UNSC, and why the Great War is a taboo nowadays. It's all about stopping this madness once and for all."


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    Shad0wChas3r
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    Re: Whispers in the Dark.

    Post  Shad0wChas3r on January 5th 2016, 10:45 pm

    Within a couple of hours, the Lich we occupied had broke into atmosphere above Sigma Octanus IV. I could barely make out the Guardian towards the Northern Hemisphere of the Planet.

    "My apologies, Escort." Lasp said. "This is as far as I can go. Our agreement was for me to escort you to non-combat zones. As the Arbiter of my people, I cannot sacrifice myself for anyone but my own people. I hope you understand."

    "I do, Arbiter." I nodded. "If you can grant us a 'Phantom?', Dawn can help us take it from here."

    "That is the least I can do, Escort." Lasp replied. "I have already disengaged a Phantom on the lower levels. It is your property now, honorary members of the Swords of Sanghelios. Go now, bring honor to your people!"

    With a hurried pace, I stepped out of the room. Grant, Jessica, and Aurora waited for me just outside of the door. Quickly, we descended to the lower floor of the Lich, where a purple, squid shaped ship awaited us. There was an ominous glowing purple beam underneath the ship, though Dawn had told me it was a gravity beam.

    Standing inside of it's light, the four of us transported into the Phantom. Glancing around, the interior wasn't much different than the Lich's, albeit the size comparison. Following Dawn's waypoint, I navigated into the cockpit of the ship.

    "Press the triangular button, then the orange square, the purple diamond like shape, and pull that lever." Dawn said, highlighting the controls. "Aurora, could you join us please?"

    Following Dawn's instructions, I pressed the buttons in the order she had requested. There was a hum throughout the ship, as it started up. My stomach arched momentarily, as the Phantom lifted slowly off of the Lich's landing zone.

    Holding my arm out, Dawn's avatar appeared in the palm of my metallic arm. She pointed out further controls, explaining what each button and lever controlled. It was no surprise that Aurora was designated to be our honorary pilot. I had taken a chance to speak with her on the way to Sanghelios, she had a lot more pilot's training than she had originally explained to us. To pay for her college education, she had taken up a transit job as an interstellar Golden Eagle pilot.

    Familiarizing herself with the controls, I could see from the ship's primary HUD that we were now completely clear of the Lich. With that, the Lich and the Arbiter herself jumped out of the system, back to her homeworld. As resourceful of an ally as Lasp would have been, I knew it was for the best. Zul had been far too injured to follow along with us, and the Arbiter was much too important to her people to jeopardize.

    Besides, this was our issue. There was no point in dragging more people into the fray. The Phantom shifted, before descending towards Sigma Octanus IV. Surely enough, the Guardian floated above the ocean that Freedom Hills ported out to. It almost seemed like a carbon copy of the battle that Blaine Harlowe had participated in five centuries ago.

    "What do you plan to do?" Aurora asked suddenly, surprising me. "What's here?"

    "The Admiral was last seen here." I replied. "That means that something happened here that lead to his disappearance. If Blaine had made it out of this battle without disappearing, Dawn would have likely seen him in his old house."

    "You're implying he was dragged away, kicking and screaming?" Aurora asked.

    "Please," Dawn turned to her. "Don't put it that way. It was bad enough to see Daddy all worked up. Don't give me that mental image."

    "Right, I'm sorry." Aurora huffed is sadness. "From what Daniel told me the other day, while you were passed out in that bed. Forerunners like these mechs had access to a teleportation system. He said that back then, Blue Team and an ONI Fireteam; Osiris, went missing shortly after an encounter with a couple of Guardians."

    "Yeah, that was Dad and Mom's mission." Dawn nodded. "To locate the two missing teams."

    "Well, they were teleported when the Guardians were summoned to God knows where." Aurora said, her eyes focused on piloting the Phantom. "What I'm saying is, it could be possible there is a connection. When Warden said that the Admiral's 'Admittance has been acknowledged', that implied that he was wanted by Warden's boss."

    "You're right." I said, thinking back on it. "Blue Team, from what Daniel told me, was the Master Chief and his team of highly elite Spartan IIs."

    "Fireteam Osiris consisted of Spartan IVs though." Dawn quipped. "Warden killed my mother, and even my uncle Darryl, who was also a Spartan II."

    "That's the kicker." I frowned, rubbing my chin with my left hand. "Why spare Osiris, but not your Mother or Uncle?"

    "You gotta look beyond it, bro." Grant said, walking into the cockpit. " Mrs. Harlowe and Darryl Harlowe were related to Blaine. Maybe it was a conflict of interest on the Created Leader's behalf."

    "He's right. We have no substantial proof that Osiris survived their trip to the Guardian's destination." Dawn crossed her arms. "Very few representatives, AI even, knew of Uncle Darryl's involvement with the Spartan II program. That still doesn't make entire sense, though. Why spare the Spartan IIs? I know they were important, but it seems oddly specific?"

    "Wait." I snapped my fingers. "Blaine in that last recording mentioned a Cortana. Is that a person?"

    "She was an AI. Died in orbit above Earth, from what Dad told me." Dawn said, before her eyes widened. "Oh my god. She survived."

    "Who was she? Besides being an AI?" Grant asked.

    "Cortana was the Master Chief's personal AI. Or, at least they acted like they were bonded. Who knows, it may have been a personal bond. It would explain why the Spartan IIs were taken, however." Dawn nodded. "Dad always said that Cortana was a clone of Doctor Halsey's brain. If Dr. Halsey's regret over her treatment of the Spartan IIs were transmitted, along with Cortana's emotional connection to the Master Chief, it would make sense."

    "Cortana was likely formed before Uncle Darryl's induction into the Spartan II program, which would explain her lack of knowledge that he was a Spartan II." Dawn continued. "As for Mom and Osiris, she didn't want them interfering. She wanted to gather the Spartan IIs, and form some sort of family."

    "Or, this 'event' that the Preservers told us about was her doing, and she was sparing them from the devastation." I replied. "Either way, if what you say about a Guardian teleporting, we need to find a way on board the damn thing."

    "Woah woah woah!" Jessica piped up. "I don't know about you guys, but the idea of boarding one of those seems highly impossible. Even if you did manage to do so, if the Slip-Space field didn't tear you to shreds, you'd be land-locked wherever it ended up."

    Standing there, I glanced down at the city-scape that was beginning to form in front of us. Fire rose from the streets and the buildings throughout the City. Time seemed to slow down for me, however, as I tensed. In my vision, I could see a flash of orange energy racing towards our Phantom, heading right for the for of us. Turning towards Aurora, I placed both of my hands on her shoulder, diving for the floor. The other two noticed my reaction, diving for the floor.

    Within mere seconds, the lance of orange energy struck the hull of the Phantom we resided in. It shook, purple smoke billowing out from the hull. Glancing down at Aurora, I chuckled nervously. Helping her onto her feet, I realized that this Phantom was doomed.

    "There's no other option, we're going to have to jump." I said.

    It wasn't my favorite plan, considering how there were only two jet packs available. Aurora seemed to pick up on this, looking in and amongst us.

    "How? There's only two packs, and there is four of us!"

    "We share." I said, quickly fastening one pack to my back.

    Hurriedly, Grant did the same. Dawn manually activated the troop bay doors for us. Wind howled inside of the troop bay, the four of us standing in a line at the edge. The City was beneath us, and within seconds, the anti-air cannons would annihilate this Phantom. Grant and I simultaneously pushed both Aurora and Jessica out of the ship. Jumping out immediately, the two of us dove head first towards each of the girls.

    Wrapping my arms around Aurora, Grant followed in a similar fashion to Jessica. The girls screamed in our ears, while Dawn took to the comm.

    "I know it's scary, but please try to calm down. I need to tell Archie and Grant when to activate the packs, or else it's curtains." Dawn said through our external stereos.

    After a few moments of cascading, Grant and I flipped ourselves, so that the four of our feet faced the ground. With Dawn's carefully timed calculations, we activated the jet packs on our backs. Gently gliding our way down to the street level, I released Aurora the moment our feet touched. There was a brisk slap across my helmet, followed by her immediate cussing.

    "Don't ever do that again." she growled, as Jessica gave Grant a similar talk.

    Above us, the Phantom's debris cascaded towards the chaotic streets. With a flare and a crash, they skidded along the metal, anti-gravity induced roads. In this day and age, no cars actually touched the ground. They were all operated automatically using anti-gravity thrusters in the roadway. There was a shrill screech in the air, causing the four of us to shudder.

    My right arm scattered into several different pieces, before reforming itself into a Light Rifle. My suit focused my eyesight, the scope of the weapon floating in front of my helmet. The cool thing was, the scope actually gave me a view of what the barrel was seeing, not necessarily what was in front of my eyes. Being that the rifle was my arm, not a separate entity, it was hard to aim it like a traditional rifle.

    That being said, this little feature was the perfect answer to the issue. By seeing what the barrel saw, not just my own view, it made it immensely easier to aim, and my arm didn't have to move to an uncomfortable position for my still raw shoulder.

    Just up the road from us, I could see the Warden Eternal standing there. His sword was mounted over his shoulder, as he stood there, as if waiting for something.

    "History, regrettably, is always repeating itself; Human." Warden said, as I and the others tensed. "This is what Cortana wanted to prevent from happening. I suppose it would have been better if I had just finished off the Admiral's accursed blood line."

    "Blaine Harlowe kicked your ass in this very City." I said, walking towards him.

    Grant's eyes widened, as he and the others reached out to stop me. However, I wasn't going to back down. Before, on Sanghelios, I had some level of fear for this thing. However, after what he made the Knight do to me, I realized he was nothing more than a pawn. Useless in his own right, he was not a Leader, he was a boss. He had no compassion, he didn't care for anything but misery and destruction.

    I was done being afraid for my life, I was done fearing every second of my existence. If I died, I was going to ensure that I died making a difference.

    "I intend to repeat that portion of history." I growled, my Light Rifle pointed towards him.

    "You are aware of our encounter. Then I will bestow the same question to you as I asked of him." the Warden slacked his shoulders, planting his sword in the road. "He fights for the defenseless and the misunderstood. He fights for the confused and the unfortunate. What do YOU fight for?"

    "I fight for a tomorrow. This world is Kill or Be Killed. Peace, unfortunately, comes at a terrible cost." I replied. "I'm fighting to ensure that EVERY race has a tomorrow. INCLUDING Blaine 115, and the other heroes of old that died, but were not remembered!"

    "Bwahahahahahahaha!" Warden Eternal threw his head backwards. "Foolish primitive! Who ever said the Admiral was DEAD?!"

    "WHAT?!" Dawn's eyes widened, in her corner of my HUD. "Daddy's alive?!"

    "No more antics, Human. I admire your bravado in the face of impossible odds." Warden remarked. "I'll up the ante for you. If you are able to defeat me in combat, I will grant you access to the Guardian. From there, you can see for yourselves the answers that you seek. Though, some secrets are rather left alone."


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    Shad0wChas3r
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    Re: Whispers in the Dark.

    Post  Shad0wChas3r on January 9th 2016, 2:14 am

    Song Lyrics for 'Warriors' - Imagine Dragons are included in this installment.

    Warriors- Imagine Dragons

    This is War- Thirty Seconds to Mars makes a small cameo towards the end.

    "ARCHIE!" Grant yelled from behind me. "Don't do this! It's too damn dangerous!"

    As a child you would wait
    And watch from far away.

    "No." I said, my gaze never leaving Warden. "The other day, I was content sitting behind my video games, being a part of an endless cycle of ignorance and lies."

    But you always knew that you'd be the one
    That work while they all play.

    Gritting my teeth, I trained my rifle on Warden's helmet.

    In youth you'd lay
    Awake at night and scheme

    "That ends today. I can't sit down and accept this injustice any longer." I continued. "I stand here, able to look the Warden in his soulless eyes, because of the sacrifices of numerous men and women centuries ago."

    Of all the things that you would change,
    But it was just a dream!

    "Had it not been for their selfless sacrifices, Humanity would never have overcome the Covenant. NONE of us would be standing here." I pointed towards Warden with my left hand. "YOU wouldn't be standing here, you'd still be in whatever closet your masters hung you up in!"

    Here we are; don't turn away now~!
    We are the Warriors that built this town~!

    "You would suggest that the answer to War is more War?" Warden mocked. "I once thought of you as intelligent, I regret that decision."

    Here we are; don't turn away now~!
    We are the Warriors that built this town; from dust~!

    "I'm saying that Humanity didn't get where it did by sitting around with our thumbs up our asses." I growled, the wind picking up around us. "Humanity is a species of survivors. No matter how many times we've been pushed to the breaking point, we bounce back. We'll always come back, until we win."

    Time will come
    When you'll have to rise

    "Humanity lost that, when your 'Cortana' decided that she would rule over the Universe." I stared at my clenched fist. "She cared about the Spartans so damned much, but compromised so much more in the aftermath."

    Above the best and prove yourself,
    Your spirit never dies!

    "Millions died to her Guardians." I yelled, anger welling within my stomach and rising. "Families were split apart! The very same reaction that her creator, Doctor Halsey had when she stole the Spartan IIs from their homes."

    Farewell, I've gone to take my throne above,
    But don't weep for me

    "This whole situation took my own Parents from me!" my left fist clenched, the knuckles popped aggressively. "So no, Grant, I'm not going to stop. I'm going to expose Humanity to the truth of the Universe. I'm going to make sure that this kind of thing never happens again."

    'Cause this will be
    The labor of my love

    "More importantly," I said, pointing to my chin. "I'm going to push this fucker's shit in, just for making me feel worthless."

    The two of us took a battle ready stance, as Grant, Aurora, and Jessica watched with bated breath. Holding his spare hand out, Warden laid it out flat, before curling his fingers in a 'come at me' motion.

    Here we are; don't turn away now~!
    We are the Warriors that built this town~!

    Firing a few high piercing rounds at the Warden, his sword expertly came up, deflecting the hard light rounds in separate directions. Charging at me, his sword lightly dragging across the asphalt, I dove to my left to avoid the sword swing.

    Here we are; don't turn away now~!
    We are the Warriors that built this town; from dust~!

    Tumbling along the ground. My right arm took the form of a sub-machine gun. Sprinting straight ahead of me, I turned my right arm to fire a couple of small salvos at his torso. To my relief, a few of the rounds actually met their mark, while the others were deflected expertly.

    Here we are; don't turn away now~!
    We are the Warriors that built this town~!

    Focusing my attention forward, a Knight attempted to clothesline me with it's sword. Sliding on my knees, my boot hooked onto it's foot. Tumbling forward, I could hear and feel Warden's massive footfalls chasing after me. Laying there, splayed out in the street, I shifted my weight up towards my head, reverse somer-saulting to my feet.

    Here we are; don't turn away now~!
    We are the Warriors that built this town; from dust~!

    Holding my Suppressor taut, I unleashed a massive salvo. Warden's sword swung in a wide circle to deflect the rounds, but as before, some rounds had actually managed to pierce through. Stunned by the slight damage to his servos, I made my move. Charging forward, I grasped for his sword with my right hand. Just as my hand reached out and touched the pommel, Warden, grasped me by the neck.

    Choking, I could feel the oxygen leaving my lungs from his grasp. Grant, who had once been spectating, stood quickly from his cover. Firing the entirety of his clip into the Warden's back, I felt oxygen return to my lungs as I was dropped. Warden turned to face Grant, anger in his eyes.

    A warning to the people, the good and the evil
    THIS. IS. WAR.

    Jumping backwards, I continued to try maintaining my breathing. Dawn appeared in my HUD with a concerned look on her face, silently warning me that Warden does not play fair. Too bad for him, a street boy like myself didn't necessarily fight by the rules either.

    To the soldier, the civilian, the martyr, the victim
    THIS. IS. WAR.

    Lashing my right arm out, the metal pieces scattered for a moment, before reforming into a replica of the Warden's own sword. The weapon was easily twice my height, but the beauty of my synthetic arm was that it was capable of holding itself up without strenuating my body.

    It's the moment of truth and the moment to lie
    And the moment to live and the moment to die
    The moment to fight, the moment to fight,
    To fight, to fight, to FIGHT~!

    Rushing at the Warden, I kept my sword at the ready. Surely enough, Warden struck downwards. Gritting my teeth, our swords clashed. The force of his blow was enough to chatter my teeth in a very uncomfortable manner. However, I did not relent, I continued an onslaught. Our two swords continued to make contact with one another, the clashing of metal on metal echoing throughout the nearby block.

    To the right! To the left!
    We will fight to the death!
    To the edge of the earth,
    It's a brave new world from the last to the first

    Ducking under a few slashes that came at me, I became much more comfortable with the fighting style I was employing, realizing that Dawn was actually assisting me vicariously through the armor. Whenever Warden's back was turned to him, Grant fired a clip of his ammo into Warden's vulnerable point.



    To the right, to the left,
    We will fight to the death
    To the edge of the earth
    It's a brave new world, it's a brave new world

    The two of our swords locked on each other. Warden leaned down to stare me directly in the visor, as I glared back at him through the visor. He had no possible idea that I possessed even the slightest modicum of strength inherited by the Harlowe family, nor that my armor allowed Dawn to assist me in whatever ways she could. Together, the two of us clashed once more, the blow from him caused me to skid backwards a ways.

    A warning to the prophet, the liar, the honest
    THIS. IS. WAR.

    Aurora and Jessica hunkered down behind a totaled car, they would occasionally warn Grant about any potential threats around him. Mainly Crawlers that wandered too close, or Soldiers that were bored. Once again, Warden and I advanced on each other, swords homing in on each other to clash.

    To the leader, the pariah, the victor, the messiah
    THIS. IS. WAR.

    Sparks erupted from our two blades, as they continually danced against each other's surfaces. In truth, I was started to get worn down. I had high stamina, and thanks to the slight advantages I had from biological augmentation, I was able to keep to some level of par with the Warden. However, I wasn't a Spartan like Blaine, and if I didn't end it soon, I wouldn't make it. None of us would.

    "ARCHIE!" Aurora yelled. "YOU CAN DO IT!"

    It's the moment of truth and the moment to lie
    And the moment to live and the moment to die
    The moment to fight, the moment to fight,
    To fight, to fight, to FIGHT!


    Pushing back against his blade, I ducked under a retaliation swing. Lifting my sword up, I was able to deflect another over-head slash. Grant unloaded what I assumed to be the rest of his ammo into Warden's back. Surely enough, Warden began sparking at his back. An eerie, misty white and black smog seemed to overtake his form, as his legs began to twitch.

    To the right, to the left,
    We will fight to the death
    To the edge of the earth,
    It's a brave new world from the last to the first

    This was my chance! With a mighty swing upwards, I disarmed the Warden Eternal, his sword flying head over pommel down the street. Slashing at his torso a few times, I winced at the sound of metal scraping a more resilient metal. It was almost as ear piercing as the sound of nails on the chalkboard.

    To the right, to the left,
    We will fight to the death
    To the edge of the earth,
    It's a brave new world, it's a brave new world, it's a BRAVE. NEW. WORLD~!

    With a few more slashes, Warden hunched over, grasping at his torso. His body convulsed from the damage I had brought upon him. With a wince, I realized I too had not walked away unscathed. The adrenaline from the fight had brought away the almost unbearable pain of a gash on my left arm. With a swing downwards, my sword arm severed his right arm. Grunting with pain, I kicked out one of his knees, shortening his form.

    "Wait." Dawn said, stopping my right arm from decapitating him. "Reach out for him."

    With a bit of hesitation, my right arm reverted back to it's default state. Reaching out, Warden winced, as I watched Dawn's avatar seemingly walk in air between my hand to Warden's face. There was a flash of blue from within the Warden, as the Guardian in the distance seemed to groan again.

    "Dawn?" I asked, Grant, Jessica, and Aurora cautiously approaching.

    "I'm here." I heard echo from the distance. "Believe it or not, I'm in the Guardian!"

    "So, you can get us to wherever the source of this problem is?" Grant asked, shouldering his rifle.

    "You humans are foolish to believe this Universe would belong to a primal race such as yours." Warden hissed, on his knees.

    "Shut up." I said, smashing my fist across his metallic chin. "You just got dunked on by your average every day human. You lost all rights to talk trash."

    Taking Dawn's knife from my hip, I span the metal in my hand, before plunging it in the black sphere on Warden's back. With a hiss and a pop, the same misty purple, white, and black smog over took the robot. Pieces of him that had scattered during our fight hovered, seemingly drawn to the swirling black vortex that the orb had created. With a shout, he disappeared once more.

    Honestly, the revenge felt pretty fucking good. Aurora looked at my left arm, concern marking her face. Jessica, on the other hand, planted a smooch on Grant's cheek. The two baby doll eyed each other, while the people of the colony sighed in relief around us.

    The feeling of everyone's eyes on us was a little intimidating, though I was happy that we stopped the attacks momentarily. If nothing else, the victory today bought these people enough time to flee off world. Though, if we didn't find a stop to this madness on the other side of that Guardian, there wouldn't be any reason to bother.

    "I found him!" Dawn's voice echoed throughout. "C'mon, Daddy's waiting!"


    _________________


    \\'Boyo\\'

    Thanks for Reading!

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    Shad0wChas3r
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    Re: Whispers in the Dark.

    Post  Shad0wChas3r on January 9th 2016, 1:54 pm

    "How exactly can we hurry?" I shrugged. "The Guardian you're in is kilometer's away!"

    Dawn chuckled, as a golden ring formed around my friends and I's waists.

    "Tch. You kids these days and your inherit laziness." Dawn grinned in my HUD.

    In a flash of golden light, the four of us found ourselves inside a small confined room. The only form of illumination in the otherwise dark, metal room was the rays of sunlight peering in.

    "Comfy?" Dawn asked, as the room around us shook. "I'm going to take us out of atmosphere before we jump."

    "Why?" I asked, as Aurora placed a hand on my shoulder.

    "A Slip-space rupture from a rig this size would leave a crater at least three times the size of New Alexandria on the planet."

    "Oh." I chuckled sheepishly, rubbing the back of my head. "Good plan."

    The Guardian shook around us some more, as we stood in a line in front of the view port. Based on how high up we were, I could only imagine we were in the Guardian's right eye. As we rose high above the city, I could see the civilians staring up at the Guardian with wonder. This had been a generation that hadn't known conflict. They were mindless drones, continuing their every day lives, never wondering what the stars may contain.

    "That was pretty fucking metal, Arch." Grant smirked, turning towards me. "Sorry I doubted you."

    "No need to apologize." I grinned. "See how I lopped that fucker's arm off?!"

    "Hell yeah dude!" Grant clenched his right fist. "That was some top tier soldiering right there!"

    "Men." Jessica giggled, shaking his head, as Aurora nodded.

    "Don't give me all the credit though." I placed my metallic hand on Grant's shoulder. "I couldn't have done it without you and Dawn."

    "All I did was help put your arm where it needed to be. Grant did the most of the work." Dawn said. "I'm initiating Slip-space measures. We should be arriving at our destination shortly."

    "Wait, what?" Aurora asked, looking up towards the ceiling. "How can that be possible? Slip-space from Reach to Earth took several hours."

    "When my father was your age, Slip-Space travel from Reach to Earth took WEEKS." Dawn replied. "The Forerunners built this rig, and they could generally travel the distance from Earth to the Galaxy's edge in a matter of minutes."

    Aurora's eyes widened, imagining how advanced the technology had to have been. Taking this brief moment of silence, I initiated the reload function for my arm's weapon systems. The overshields that Daniel had installed on the armor popped, an annoying alarm began to wane in my helmet. After a couple of seconds, my helmet told me that the weapon systems were fully charged and my shields were at fifty percent and rising.

    "I hate to say it, but I've deposited some Forerunner weapons in the corner of the room. Wherever we're going, it's very possible that we'll be under attack." Dawn said. "Especially if the Warden Eternal has as many bodies as this Guardian tells me he does."

    Surely enough, in the corner of the room, a weapon rack appeared on the wall. Aurora and Jessica hesitated, walking over towards it. Grant walked however, his eyes practically as big as saucers. Placing his hands on what I could only assume was a shotgun, he hoisted it. The cool thing about the weapon was how it reacted.

    Fragmenting into several floating metallic pieces, they swirled around his right arm, before forming around his hand in the perfect carry position. The remaining pieces swirled down towards the ammo pouches on his armor.

    Aurora hesitantly placed her hands on a small pistol. Much like the shotgun that Grant just picked up, the weapon fragmented before forming around her hand in a ready position. Jessica, on the other hand, placed her hand on a very elongated rifle. Looking at it, I ran my hand along it's form. My helmet informed me that the weapon systems in my arm had been updated.

    "Binary Rifle. Very potent weapon." Dawn said. "Grant picked up a Scattershot, a shotgun with bouncing hardlight pellets."

    "We should get you ladies comfortable with your weapons." I said, taking a hold of another pistol on the wall. Turning behind us, I noticed that Dawn had been kind enough to form a target of some sort on the far wall.

    Squeezing the handle of the pistol, it fired a trio of bolts, which seemingly homed in on the center of my target. Aurora raised hers, following the same steps I did. Placing the pistol back on the wall, I stepped to her right. Glancing over her shoulder, I propped her arms up a bit, pushing them in for her to keep her arm a little more rigid.

    "Take a deep breath, and exhale just as you pull the trigger." I coached, as Aurora did so.

    A trio of hardlight bullets, unguided, shot right into the center of the target. With a smirk, Aurora turned towards me, the pistol in her left hand. With both of her eyes on me, she smiled warmly, firing a salvo at the target. Placing her right hand on my torso, she chuckled.

    "I was a pilot, remember? Always had protection on me." she smiled, before pointing at the gash on my left arm.

    Pulling the hoodie she had been wearing off, she tore off a part of the sleeve. Wrapping it firmly around my arm, she tied it off. I winced at the soreness, but appreciated that it was at least covered. Granted, it probably should have been cleaned, but we didn't have the resources at the moment.

    Both of us turned, however, as Jessica laid on the floor. Looking through the scope of her Binary rifle, we watched a pair of orange lasers pointing at the dead center of the target on the far wall. With a breath in, she gently squeezed the trigger, a larger, more menacing pair of hard-light beams surged forward, practically melting the far wall.

    "While a precision weapon, that weapon has the capability to kill most enemies with one pull of the trigger. Granted, the beams have to maintain contact for a couple of seconds, but it is still lethal nonetheless.

    Grant looked at the far wall, aiming his Scattershot at the target. Suddenly, the weapon in his hand disintegrated.

    "That wouldn't be wise, Grant." Dawn continued. "I said they were bouncing hardlight rounds. You've seen how the Prometheans turn to orange ash? You get killed by one of those rounds, you'll turn into that same ash. Just know that it's a very powerful gun, and you can have it back when we arrive."

    Yawning, I was much more tired than I had originally anticipated. Sliding down the wall, Aurora sank down beside me.

    "Earlier, when the Warden asked what you would fight for?" Aurora asked. "You said that this situation took away your parents?"

    "My parents worked at the same facility I had. You could say they were file handlers at ONI. Very low rung. When I was six, they both disappeared, and I never saw them again." I sighed. "When we were in Castle Base, I discovered that they had stumbled upon data on Blaine Harlowe."

    "Because he disappeared without a trace, being the last Spartan II Humanity could depend on, he became a traitor in the eyes of the people." I continued. "If people started digging, they knew that people would find out that ONI didn't attempt to fight against the Guardians. They surrendered. Blaine may have disappeared, along with Blue team, but ONI straight up gave up on their people."

    "So, Blaine was a handy scapegoat." Aurora nodded. "Your parents probably found something pertaining to this-"

    "-and were killed. Yeah." I said. "I was serious when I said that I wanted to expose the truth to the people."

    "How?" Aurora asked. "No-one will believe us."

    "Sigma Octanus IV, I recorded all of it." I smirked beneath my helmet. "Dawn recorded Sanghelios. She has documentation of our encounters with the Preservers at her childhood home. I have all of the Spartan II data with her. When we take out this current threat, I'm storming ONI Headquarters, and using their systems to televise everything Universally."

    "I just want you to be safe too." Aurora said suddenly. "You're all I've got left in this world."

    "What about your family?" I asked, as she shook her head, tears streaming down her cheeks.

    "My mother died shortly after I was born." Aurora said. "My father couldn't handle the stress of raising a child himself, especially being an interplanatary pilot... so-"

    "He killed himself." she cried, as I wrapped my arm around her. "Old lady Alyssa raised me, so I always called her grandmother."

    "I remember you mentioning something about Alyssa the first time we met." I nodded. "I had no idea that was your situation, and I'm sorry I dragged you into this."

    "Are you kidding?" Aurora smiled, resting her head against my shoulder. "This has been a fun adventure. I'm with a group of people my age, trying to set the Universe right. I always used to feel worthless after my father... y'know. Ever since I met you, however, I've felt life had meaning, and by doing this, I feel like I'm actually going to accomplish something with my life."

    "Alright guys, we're about two minutes out. Archie, I'm splitting myself so that I still have some control over the Guardian. Place your hand on that terminal in the corner and reclaim me, please?"


    _________________


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    Shad0wChas3r
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    Re: Whispers in the Dark.

    Post  Shad0wChas3r on January 10th 2016, 10:07 pm

    Shortly after the Guardian Dawn controlled arrived at our destination, the same familiar golden light over-took the four of us. Glancing around, the planet we found ourselves on was rather beautiful. Flora and Fauna could be seen as far as the eye could see. Vibrant colors meshed with the green of the forested area we ended up in.

    "Where are we?" I asked, as Dawn's Avatar appeared in my HUD.

    "From what the Guardian's systems told me, we're on a Forerunner world known as Genesis."

    "Genesis?" Jessica asked. "Doesn't that translated to 'Origins' in some way?"

    "How fitting." Aurora shrugged. "If the Guardian gravitated here, that means this is probably it's home."

    My right arm shifted it's form back into that of a Light Rifle, as we slowly trudged through the meadow we had ended up in. Sadly for us, the sun had began to settle beneath the horizon, so we had little daylight left. Keeping a gentle pace forwards, Grant took the back of the group, maintaining an open eye on our flanks and behind us.

    "Can anyone here me?" Dawn asked, her eyes quickly scanning my face, a wink on her face.

    Holding a finger up to her lips, she shushed me. We listened for a moment, and when neither of the others answered, she scanned my face some more.

    "Don't speak, only listen." Dawn warned, sending shivers down my spine. "When we arrived here, I felt a presence. It was not a good presence."

    "Cortana knows we're here. If she's anything like what my Dad always told me about, she's no dummy. She likely knows we're here to put a stop to her reign." Dawn continued. "There was another presence, however, and that one felt more warm and inviting. Maintain your wits about you."

    I was confused, why would I keep this a secret from the others? Was it because she feared that one of them were secretly going to help Cortana? Almost on cue, she seemed to answer my question.

    "Look, it's not that I don't trust your friends. My father always told me to keep my bases covered." Dawn sighed. "He had a friend in boot camp, Randall Aiken, Spartan 037. He was the kind of soldier that believed in the promise of Valhalla. Randall always said that Soldiers were much like Gods. Though, instead of gifting life, they took it. He very frequently told my father that when a Soldier found their mortality, they got scared."

    "Frightened soldiers start making choices," Dawn said, staring intently in my eyes. "Choices that make the fear go away. You four aren't soldiers, and this is a very dangerous place. You need to make sure that everyone is in their right mind."

    "Understood." I said, rising the other's interests.

    "What's up?" Grant asked from the back.

    "Dawn told me that the rotational spin of this planet meant sun-down was going to be in approximately." I paused, as she held up two fingers. "-Two hours."

    "Then we're burning daylight." Grant said. "Let's pick up the pace."

    So we did. Our light trot turned out into a bit of a jog. Aurora and Jessica stayed right up behind me, while Grant ran backwards. I didn't know what bothered me more, the silence in the air, or the inescapable feeling of being watched from the shadows?

    Surely enough, the minutes turned to hours, and the sun began to set in the distance. My stomach began to grumble, in truth, the last thing I, or any of us, had had to eat in the past three days was that small cup full of maple syrup.

    Thinking about it for a moment, I was partially wondering what Morgan was doing in this moment. He said he helped people, guiding them to their destinies. If he was helping me, did that mean he helped Blaine too? If he had helped Blaine, why did he set him up to this?

    "I don't know everything that's going to happen. I just have a pretty basic understanding, my help just kind of happens on the spot." I remember him saying.

    "Just who are you?" I whispered to myself, as Dawn's eyes focused on me.

    "Huh?" she asked. "Did you say something?"

    Jessica and Grant had opted to go gathering food and twigs from the forest. They had come to the conclusion to grab everything that looked relatively safe, and have Dawn identify them when they returned. Aurora and I, however, had managed to make a small fire, and sat in front of it.

    "The other day, I met this man named Morgan." I said, as Dawn's eyes widened.

    "Did he tell you to refer to him as 'Shadow'?" she asked, the tone with which she asked sent shivers down my spine.

    "Yeah, actually." I nodded. "You knew him?"

    "He's a fucking twat." Dawn cursed for the first time in a while, red in her cheeks, as she glared at some unknown source. "He guides people to their 'destinies'. When he was helping my father, he lead him to the Spartan program. I have no doubts he led him here, too."

    "That doesn't sound like a bad thing. I mean, your father probably fought his heart out here, before he disappeared." I shrugged.

    "He was the one that lead me to my death." Dawn growled, as my eyes widened.

    What?! Morgan had lead Dawn to her death?! Was his involvement on this whole journey a way to get all of us killed? In that moment, the gentle breeze in the air stopped, even the fire's flames stopped dancing.

    Eerily they turned blue, as I heard feet crunching the ground behind me. Standing, I pointed my arm rifle at Morgan, who stood there. His face was straight, without a smile, nor a frown on it. His arms were crossed against his chest, as he cracked his neck. I tried to fire my weapon, as it stalled in my hand.

    "That would be really unwise." Morgan said to me, unmoving. "If there is one thing Dawn and I could ever disagree upon, it's the notion that I'm the villain."

    "You lead her to her death!" I yelled at him, completely ignoring the fact that he had just suddenly appeared behind me. "What the fuck are you?!"

    "A young man with a lot of vivid dreams." Morgan replied, staring at me with his cold eyes. "An architect to the fictional realm. An Author of fate."

    What did that even mean? Author of Fate? Architect to the fictional realm?

    "I have a distinct influence over this world, and countless others." Morgan said, pacing around me, an eerie thickness in the air. "Everything that I can imagine, I can make a reality."

    Pointing a massive finger at me, he stopped, glaring at me.

    "The head-strong hero, from a very troubled past." Morgan grinned. "A man who was so down on his luck, that he needed an escape."

    Continuing his pacing, silhouettes of both Grant and Jessica appeared in front of him. I turned to face him, as he stood between them, wrapping his arms over their shoulders.

    "Two loyal companions, who, although bicker to high-heaven, are inseparable." he smirked. "Both who have been with the hero from a very young age, even if he didn't recognize it."

    "A potential love interest." Morgan continued, pointing to Aurora. "A girl who comes out of the abyss of the hero's self loathing, and saves him from himself."

    "You're not human." I growled, clenching my left fist, my right arm frozen.

    "On the contrary, I'm the most human." Morgan stopped, arms now folded behind his back. "A man that is no stranger to isolation, to regret, to heartbreak."

    "A man who, despite all the world throws at him, continues his day to day life. A survivor of all that life sends his way. Despite the injustices in his life, especially the events of his childhood, he always manages to put others before himself." Morgan turned his back to me, glancing up at the stars above. "A man that always looks to the stars for the answers to life's most pressing questions. A man that wishes for a brighter future."

    "You're delusional." I growl. "A psychopath!"

    "Socially awkward is slightly more accurate, but not entirely truthful." Morgan shrugged. "I am capable of empathy, and I tend to have a bigger heart than you may be lead to believe."

    "In the most cliche of novels, there is always a man from a poor upbringing." Morgan spoke loudly, into the silent abyss. "He, despite his poor treatment, always has the drive to help another person in need. Because he knows pain."

    "In these novels, the poor man discovers a guiding spirit, someone that will push their life on the right track. Someone that would lead them to their destiny in this world." Morgan paced circles around me. "They find what they want in this life. Most times, they live happily ever after."

    "Me?" Morgan paused from behind me, causing me to shiver. "I have yet to meet those kinds of people. I have yet to be the inspiration I strive to become."

    "As a result, I bring myself here. To this world. Where I can find myself. Countless lives have I followed, each and every one of them have a similar background."

    "Tell me, Archie, how many similarities do you share with Blaine Harlowe? You know that comic book your co-worker read all the time? The Destiny novellas that author wrote? Those were MY creation!"

    Woah. Morgan created the fan stories for Destiny, and the comic book that Bryce constantly read?!

    "If you had read about those characters, you'd recall that they all had their parents detached from their lives, right around until they reached adulthood? How they had a love interest that always seemed just out of arms reach? That their childhoods always seemed to be oh so terrible?"

    He was right, the foster home I moved into was quite terrible. I was constantly scolded by my foster parents, and I hardly interacted with them, my biological parents dead and gone from a young age. I spent most of my childhood living with Grant. My foster parents never harmed me, but they were rather strict and very persistent in making sure I didn't rebel against them.

    "Blaine Harlowe had a similar past, did he not? You witnessed how his father gave him up for adoption because he didn't feel ready to assume the responsibilities without his wife. You saw how he was tormented by his peers, and whipped into the perfect soldier by another, foreign set of parents?" Morgan resumed his pace. "Each of these people, Blaine, Drake, Bryce... even you. All were attempts to find myself."

    "Something happened that night with Sonya, didn't it?" I asked, as he clenched his fists.

    "DON'T YOU FUCKING DARE!" Morgan roared, the volume of his voice escalated impressively, yet devastatingly in my ears.

    "Sonya told me that I had yet to find who I was. What I was meant to be in this world!" Morgan grit his teeth. "She told me I was BROKEN! A fragment of what could have been a beautiful soul!"

    "How does this apply to me then?!" I yelled back, as he stomped forward, finger prodded into my chest.

    "You're in the same predicament as ME pal!" he growled. "You're searching for answers in a world of grossly perverted ideas of peace. A world of uncertainty and censorship, where the brightest of heroes are marked as traitors and cast to the shadows. You know your name, and you know why you do what you do. Tell me though, have you ever thought of the endgame?"

    "The endgame?" I asked, as he continued to prod my chest.

    "Yeah, what was going to happen after you exposed these truths and cleared Blaine Harlowe's good name?" Morgan said, as I avoided his gaze.

    "I never really thought of it. I've been so caught up in searching for these answers, I never really took a moment to think about myself."

    "Exactly!" Morgan said. "So, am I the villain, if I'm planning on helping you forge your destiny? Helping you find yourself, in hopes that in the process, I can find myself?!"

    "I can't say for certain." I shook my head. "Why did you lead Dawn astray?"

    "I didn't lead her astray." Morgan shook his head. "If she and Sona hadn't had that kid, YOU wouldn't be here. However, if she stayed alive, that would have endangered their kid."

    "So... you killed her off because it meant I would survive?" I asked.

    "With Dawn gone, Sona would be so broken that their daughter, Summer, would distance herself. With that, it ensured she would not be hunted. Blaine, as a result, would come here to Genesis, and YOU would arrive here."

    "So, why am I that important?" I asked. "How does me saving Blaine Harlowe, help you or I find ourselves?"

    "How the fuck should I know?!" Morgan grit his teeth. "All I know is there is a method to my madness, a certain therapy to guiding you and countless others in the way that I do."

    "I told you before, boyo, I don't hold all the answers." Morgan sighed. "I just have a very basic understanding. It's like Sonya said, I'm a good person, I'm just a broken mess, looking for something to mend me. To make me whole."

    "I help others, because I cannot help myself." Morgan calmed himself, placing a hand on my shoulder. "Look. Trust that I am watching over you, and will help you with what you need. Dawn, I know you're listening. Understand that this choice was for the best."

    "Was it for the best? Or was it for your perverted, unquenchable need for acceptance by your peers?" Dawn hissed through my external stereos. "To shock the others like you?"

    Without another word, I found myself turning in place, sitting back on the ground. There was a rush of wind, as the fire returned to a red and orange coloration, the breeze picking back up again. Dawn and I stared at each other, confused by what had transpired. I didn't even begin to acknowledge that everything he said alluded to the fact I was fictional. The imagination of a man lost and confused, a chaser of the shadows.

    In a way, I thought of my existence as more of a poem. Tragic, yet beautiful and, to some extent, inspiring. Dawn seemed to get the same idea, as a smile creeped up on the corner of her mouth, not so because of her empathy for Shadow. Moreso, that she was relishing in the poetic influences in her life.

    Lazing back, my gaze focused on the stars twinkling above. Despite the capability to explore them at will, they also brought a sense of closure to me. It was bizarre, along with the feeling of closure, it also brought me more of a sense of wonder. Was this Universe capable of absolute peace, where Mankind and it's allies could explore and learn as a coalition?

    Where research didn't go to weapons, war, or self preservation, but rather, at discovering new things, making life, while answering the questions of the Universe.

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    The sun shone in my eyes, as I slowly leaned up from my nap. Miraculously, the four of us had been able to sleep on this alien planet without being disturbed. Stretching my arms, I realized that I still hadn't eaten.

    Beyond the coals of the fire, I could see a myriad of fruits and vegetables. It appeared that Aurora was up too, quietly munching on a handful of exotic purple berries.

    "Morning!" she beamed me a quick smile. "Surprised you didn't wake sooner, with all the times I had Dawn check the food."

    "This man rarely wakes up. You should really not push yourself so hard, Archie." Dawn said.

    "I won't stop until this is all over." I said, causing Aurora to frown.

    "Well, you need to eat, then." she said, holding her hand out.

    In her hand was a bunch of the exotic purple berries, all seemingly attached to each other in a bundle. Pulling my helmet off for only a moment, I popped a trio of them into my mouth. They had a mixture of sweetness and tartness to them. In fact, I was fairly certain they were grapes of some sort.

    "Tasty." I smacked my lips. "What are these things called?"

    Aurora giggled, as I heard Dawn chuckling from my helmet.

    "They're grapes, you blockhead!" Aurora attempted to hold her laughter in. "Forerunners and Humans weren't THAT genetically different."

    "Oh," I said, rubbing the back of my head in embarrassment. "I guess that explains why they tasted like grapes then."

    Looking at the pile of fruits, I picked up a handful, mostly a pair of fruits that resembled apples, or oranges. Unlike the grapes, however, these fruits did NOT taste like the fruits they resembled. Yet, they were rather sweet, and filled me with much needed energy.

    With my fill of food, I replaced the helmet on my head. The suit's diagnostics booted up, before completing. In that moment, I was glad that I had. Suddenly, I rolled backwards, turning in one swift motion. in that time, my right arm formed a Light Rifle, as I trained it at the orb on my motion tracker.

    "I have you in my sights, if you're friendly, identify yourself or be fired upon."

    "Oh my! There is no need for violence! In fact, this is a moment of rejoice!" a small, spherical robot fluttered out of the treeline. "You are the second set of Reclaimers I've had the pleasure of encountering, and after all these years!"

    "You're pretty upbeat for a Forerunner construct." I said, uncertain.

    "You would be upbeat if you spent an eternity alone, with little company! Prometheans are known for their cold, lethal, and unique 'charisma'. I am 031-Exuberant Witness, Monitor and proprietor of Genesis! Exuberant nodded her form. "Unlike prior contact with my fellow Monitors, I insure you that my primary directive is to keep Genesis and it's facilities in working orders, with a secondary directive to protect and guide any Reclaimers to the Domain."

    "The Domain?" I asked, lowering my rifle.

    "Alack! You are unaware of the Domain's primary purpose? I shall inform you!" 'she' replied in her usual cheerful mood. "Created several million years before the end of my creator's Empire, the Domain has served as a informational hub of the Universe."

    "Say what?" I asked.

    "The Domain is a central hub that withstands the test of time. Maintaining and distributing knowledge spanning the course of the Universe's history. From the Forerunners and their Empire, your specie's ancestors, and even the Precursors."

    "Oh yeah." I coughed nervously. "I knew that."

    "I knew you had it in you, Reclaimer! There isn't much time! An ancilla has wrongfully initiated the Reclamation! If she succeeds, there could be devastating ramifications for your species and it's allies!" Despite the graveness in her words, Exuberant's words continued to sound cheery and warming.

    Grant and Jessica slowly rose from their slumber, having listened in for the majority of Exuberant and I's exchange of words.

    "We have our own job here." I said. "We're looking for an AI, Cortana?"

    "Sometimes, you really make me question the fate of the Universe." Dawn sighed, placing a hand to her forehead in my HUD. "Ancilla is the Forerunner word for AI. She's saying Cortana is here, and she needs our help getting her out."

    "I sense your ancilla. You have a unique presence, m'lady." Exuberant floated uncomfortably close to my helmet. "Is your name, per-chance, Dawn Harlowe?"

    "Yes!" Dawn replied suddenly, causing me to flinch.

    "Oh thank goodness! Warden sent me a rather upset Reclaimer a few centuries ago. He identified himself as Blaine Harlowe. A Lord of Admirals, for your people. Exuberant continued. "He single handedly destroyed thirty of the Warden's bodies, before I had no choice to encapsulate him within a Cryptum. In his angered state, I feared he could not be reasoned with."

    "What the fuck is a Cryptum?" I asked.

    "Scanning dialect for the word 'Fuck'." Exuberant mimicked my voice on the word 'Fuck'. "Oh my, there is no need for such language. A Cryptum is a meditative sphere designed by the Forerunners. Inside is a slip-space sphere that keeps the host separated by time."

    "So, Blaine really is alive." I said, a smirk appearing on the corners of my mouth.

    "Of course!" Exuberant nodded her form. "Such a fine specimen should not be wasted. He is a grand addition to my collection."

    "Collection?" I watched Dawn's right eye twitch. "You think my father is a MUSEUM PIECE?!"

    Before I could respond, my right arm lashed out on it's own, gripping Exuberant by one of the strange handle like formations on her hull.

    "TAKE. ME. TO. HIM!"

    "It would be my pleasure." Exuberant replied cheerfully, pulling away from my arm's grasp. "The Cryptum is just ahead. However, because of Cortana's influence, it would take the direct interaction of a Reclaimer to open it."

    Looking in and amongst ourselves, the four of us quickly gathered our weapons. Exuberant floated off in the direction we had been headed the day before. Part of me thought that Exuberant's stumbling upon us was no act of pure luck. I liked to believe that Morgan influenced her to find us.

    The four of us, inspired as ever, sprinted after the monitor. Exuberant hummed a cheerful tune as we went along. In the distance, I could make out the flawless material that was traditional with the Forerunner structures I had encountered. Towards the top of the inclined building, a black sphere floated above us, blue and red light spewing from the cracks in it's hull.

    To our surprise, there was a sequence of loud thuds echoing in the area. It confused, and frightened us simultaneously, because we had no idea what was making that noise.

    "I should admit, it's most fascinating." Exuberant said. "Your Lord of Admirals is most persistant. Despite the nature of the Slip-space containment, he seems completely able to move.

    There were more thuds, causing the four of us to pause. Those thuds were Blaine inside the Cryptum?! We looked up to Exuberant, who seemed to notice the halt in our progression.

    "It appears the meditative nature of the Cryptum is not enough for him. My scans indicate that, as a being with the ability to manipulate time, he is immune to the restraining properties brought about by the Cryptum!" Exuberant continued. "My sensors are aware of your heightened sense of fear. I believe that you stand a seventy-five percent survival rate, should you tell him you have his ancilla."

    "Ah fuck no." Grant shook his head, as the thudding continued. "I saw how he grabbed that Marine by the throat when he was pissed."

    "He won't calm down." Dawn sighed. "Dad is very protective of our family. He believes my mother and I are dead. I won't lie to you, Archie. He might attack you."

    "What?!" I said, as she nodded.

    "But he also doesn't deserve to be caged up, that's part of the reason he's so irritated." Dawn sighed. "If there is one thing my father hates above all, it's his hatred of feeling useless."

    The thudding continued, as the four of us looked upon each other. My head sank, as I stared at my boots. I had the family knife on my person, and if I could just show him Dawn, there was a chance he could calm down.

    However, I have seen first hand how Blaine Harlowe fights. When he was fighting that Sangheilli in the Orphanage, he dispatched it in MINUTES. When he was pissed off, and fought Warden in Freedom Hills, he destroyed Warden practically in seconds. My heart raced, I was about to meet my new hero. However, I wasn't sure what would happen if I opened it.

    Dawn was right, he didn't deserve to spend eternity in a cage, as Exuberant's pet. However, I don't think I or my friends deserved to become the victims of a half millennium of bottled, fatherly anger. On the other hand, I had come way too far to back away now. If Blaine was able to be convinced, we could expose the truth, and more importantly, get Cortana out of the Domain.

    Sighing one last time, I clenched my fists. Walking up the singular ramp, the other three slowly walked behind me. Exuberant floating just above my left shoulder, hiding to some extend behind my helmet. The air was thick, and my heart thudded in my chest. To be honest, I was scared as hell. The closer I got, the louder the thuds echoed.

    Scarier yet, the closer I got, the more the thuds sounded like deep, angry church bells ringing. Continuing my course, the others stayed close behind me. I felt Aurora's hand grasp my left one. Turning to face her, she smiled. It was an uncertain smile, but genuine all the same. Finally, a podium rose from the ground in front of me. Two spheres, one red, one blue, sat on the podium.

    "Touch the orbs, and you will awaken the Lord of Admirals."

    My heart skipped several beats, as the thudding continued, even picking up their pace and ferocity. At this time, I wasn't sure if I was freeing a man, or a monster. Either way, I had to do it. I had to know the truth. Was Blaine the hero? Or was he the villain?

    Closing my eyes, and gritting my teeth, I placed both of my palms on the orbs. Red and blue light emnated from both in their respective colors. There was a burst of air and light from the Cryptum, as it seemed to shift around in place. Directly in front of me, where a few of the cracks had crossed, a ramp was forming. The light, or lack there of, from the orb, sent shivers down my spine.

    The four of us waited with bated breath, as there thud of metal on metal was heard. I, unfortunately, was in the worst position. The other three were out of sight to my left and right, and the podium I was standing in front of was right in front of the ramp.

    That's when I saw him. Poking out from the shadows, blue and red armor saw the light of day for the first time in five centuries. My heart stopped for a second, as his helmet snapped almost instantly to me. I cringed, as Dawn seemed to turn around, facing him. Hunching over, both of his fists clenched, as he took a fighting stance.

    "Oh fuck!" I yelled, backing away as quickly as I could.

    My enhanced perception allowed me to watch him, practically in slow motion, kick off of his right foot. He charged down the ramp towards me, and the closer he got, the bigger he appeared. Within seconds, he towered above me. I coughed as I felt a massive hand wrap around my throat, my eyes staring directly into his chest.

    Grant and Jessica trained their weapons on the Spartan, as Aurora stared in disbelief. I couldn't breath, my arms reaching up to my neck. Despite my best efforts, I couldn't break his grip. He must have been aware of the other's presence, as a magnum ejected from his left hip, his gun immediately trained on Jessica.

    The front of his helmet began to disassemble, as I could make out the familiar pale white skin. A black circle goatee, and two piercing icy- wait, why are his eyes red?!

    "Oh no." Dawn said, staring up at him with me. "DADDY, STOP!"

    This only seemed to irritate him more, as he grit his teeth, the grip on my neck tightening. The look on his eyes were crazed, almost delusional. My vision was slowly fading, as I felt my right hand raise up to his face. In my hand, Dawn's avatar stood there, fists on her hips.

    "I SAID STOP, DADDY!"

    That seemed to be the trick, as I was thrown backwards. I skidded backwards a few feet, before I slid onto my feet. Looking up, I saw him cracking his knuckles, walking down the ramp towards me.

    "What did you do to my daughter?" he asked darkly.

    Author's note: Passive Aggressive Author's note here.

    Not that there are currently any readers here, I feel obligated to get this out there. The interactions between Archie and I all are plot devices! Do NOT confuse those words as anything other than story elements.

    That being said, Blaine Harlowe has made it into the picture, and our first interaction with him is hostile. What will happen, when two of my protagonists get into an actual, canonical interaction with each other? Will Blaine get over his grief long enough to see the truth, or will Archie's journey end at the hands of his hero?

    Thanks for reading, silent lurkers.


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    Shad0wChas3r
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    Re: Whispers in the Dark.

    Post  Shad0wChas3r on January 11th 2016, 12:01 am

    "I- *cough* I didn't do anything!" I pleaded.

    "My daughter is an AI in YOUR possession!" Blaine snarled.

    "I didn't kill your daughter, Warden Eternal did!" I shakily stood, the air returning to my lungs. "God damn it, I searched the Universe looking for you!"

    "I specifically ordered people to stay the hell away. This became my fight, and I am going to finish it."

    "A fine job you did, too!" I growled, bracing myself on my knees. "You got CAPTURED!"

    "Archie, I wouldn't advise this."

    "No, Dawn. Morgan told me that I needed to find who I am, and who I want to be." I fully stood, right fist clenched. "I want to be the man that isn't afraid of my future. I want to live happily, by Aurora's side, and find enjoyment in my day to day!"

    "I won't be frightened by anything anymore. I don't care how many times you beat me down." I said, tapping my right arm with my left one. "I will always get back up again, to defend my future! You and I are no different, Mr. Harlowe. We wanted a better future, we wanted to make the most of the time we have left in this world."

    "Just a week ago, I was frightened for my life because of a man three years younger than me pointed a pistol in my face." I chuckled. "Now, I'm staring down one of Humanity's biggest and brightest heroes. I haven't been through what you've been, Mr. Harlowe. However, I assure you that I won't give up without a fight."

    "Wanna have a bad time?" Blaine asked, holding a hand out. "'Cause you are REALLY not going to like what happens if you don't give me my daughter's chip."

    Standing rigid, my right arm formed a Light Rifle. Even if he was her father, he was in no state to have her chip right now. For all I knew, he might destroy it because he couldn't believe she was an AI now. Taking the hint, the bass in his chuckle sent my heart off track for a moment.

    "Can't say I didn't warn yeah."

    I knew that he was superior in all forms of combat, so my only option at this point was to wear his stamina down long enough for him to listen to reason. Being a Spartan II, built for it, my chances of being successful were slim and none, and slim left town.

    Looking over at Aurora, however, seeing the worry on her face, I knew that I had no choice. If Dawn was destroyed, there was no evidence to take down the Preservers and ONI. Blaine was merely hear-say, despite his unique armor and augments.

    He charged at me, as I fired a trio of rounds. All three struck, the shields on his armor glistening from the impact. I could tell by the way they were looking that they were close to breaking. I didn't actually want to hurt him, I just needed to buy some time.

    "Dawn, you do the talking. I'm gonna try and wear him down. Use this time to talk some sense into your old man before he makes me into the consistency of a steaming portion of school sloppy joe's."

    Thanks to my residual genetic augments, I was able to avoid punch after punch. Knowing full well that just one of them would be enough to incapacitate me, or even kill me. Backing away from everyone of his numerous swings, I also had to duck a few, jumping backwards at the occasional kick.

    "You that helpless?" I heard Morgan say, feeling a presence on my left shoulder. "You really want to impress him, you're actually going to have to hit him."

    "My guidance has killed numerous people, but I won't let him kill you."

    Clenching my right fist, I jumped back from one punch, before using the thrusters on the back of my suit to boost myself forward. Swinging a mighty right hook into his visor, Blaine's shields actually popped, his hand instinctively reaching for the area that he had been struck.

    "You called me Valkyrie, right?!" Dawn said, her avatar appearing in my right hand. "As my father, you were Odin. The Norse King of Valhalla. David and Naomi made me into an AI, on the chance that you returned, I could still be with you."

    "It's been five hundred years, Daddy." Dawn said, her voice faltering. "I've waited so long, and Archie was kind enough to bring me to you."

    "Five. Hundred. YEARS?!" Blaine roared, an unusual power emanating from him.

    "Archie. I'm sorry, but I can't seem to reach him. I think it's because he can't accept the fact I'm dead. Exuberant's actions gave him time to think."

    "-and a thinking, frightened soldiers makes choices." I sighed.

    Thankfully, I watched as Exuberant escorted the other three out of the area. Aurora and Grant were hesitant, but went. They knew that neither Blaine nor I were going to back down.

    "Fuck today." i sighed, as Blaine charged at me again.

    "Focus on using your right arm. It has enough strength to parry him, and actually be effective." Dawn sighed. "Just please, don't kill him. I promise, he's a good man."

    Boosting at Blaine, I swung my right arm again. My hit met it's mark, grappling his right arm, I swung my knee up and into his torso a couple of times, as he walked backwards against the blows. Dawn forced my arm to disintegrate so that Blaine couldn't grapple me in return. Dodging backwards, Blaine advanced, swinging wild blow after blow at my face.

    Flipping backwards, my right boot snapped up and under Blaine's helmet. I don't know where I was getting this, but I appreciated it. Landing back on my feet, I rushed at him. Before I could swing, however, he wrapped both of his massive arms around my torso, flipping me expertly over his shoulder. My heart stuttered, my eyes widening as I saw him swing his mighty right fist down where my head was.

    Rolling to my right, his helmet actually dented the metal beneath it. Instinctively, I swung my left boot up and into his visor, knocking him back a ways. Standing to my feet, I boosted again. I knocked both of my knees into his chest again, before swinging a right hook across his helmet. Following up with a back hand, Blaine stumbled backwards. He wasn't out of practice... he was toying with me.

    "Game's over, boyo." Blaine said, cracking his neck.

    Within an instant, much faster than I could comprehend, his right fist slammed into my midsection. I heard several crunches, as blood and bile erupted out of my mouth. Sailing backwards against the ground, I winced every time I landed and bounced.

    As I lay there, I began to think on what Mendez had said about the Master Chief and Blaine. Both were hyper competitive, and did whatever it took to win. Master Chief hated losing, but knew when to back out. Blaine, however, rarely lost, and was much more persistent. In this instance, I was his opponent, and he didn't want to lose to me.

    "Ugh." was all I could muster, Dawn's eyes were wide and welling with tears. "Hey, at least I got you out of the house."

    In my HUD, my heart rate monitor was slowing to a crawl, and I could barely keep my eyes open. Not only was I in shock, but that punch had done a number on my internal organs.

    "You'll be fine." Dawn said, as I felt a sudden sharpness in my torso. "Daniel put in some state of the art medical appliances in the suit, they'll tend to your wounds. In the meanwhile, I need your help."

    "H-how?" I asked, as I heard Blaine's slow steps approaching.

    "I want to help you, but you need to give me permission."

    I coughed, I didn't know what kind of help she was offering, but damned if I was going to argue. She knew her dad, and he was gonna kill me, so I needed all the help I was going to get.

    "Okay, do it."

    "Oh, you'll still be fighting. Dawn winked. "I'm just evening the playing field. Initiate override!"

    In an instant, there was a blinding golden flash from Dawn's avatar in my HUD. Wincing at the brightness, I could also tell it was stopping Blaine in his tracks. Looking back at her avatar, her once blue eyes glowed gold, as she smirked confidently.

    "Wha-what happened?" I asked.

    "Long story. Daniel put a sub routine in the armor to allow me to assist you in combat. This mode allows your armor to function well above standard capabilites, without causing you physical harm. We'll call it Protocol: Goldenheart."

    There was another flash, and I felt energy welling up within my tired muscles. So much so, that I felt stronger and faster than ever before. Before I knew it, I was back up on my feet. There was a bit of burning sensation in my eyes, as I clenched my fists. The usual blue glow in my right arm replaced by a vibrant golden one.

    "You got spirit, boyo. I'll give you that." Blaine said, cracking his knuckles. "You will give me my daughter, though!"

    "She's not going with you, not until you calm down." I shook my head.

    "Then you and your friends will die!" Blaine growled, a dark red aura was now visible around him.

    "It's a family gift. Just... be careful. I don't want you to kill him."

    "No-one's dying today, Mr. Harlowe.

    Before I even knew it, I was on top of him. The two of exchanged blows at one another, gold and red pulses of energy emnating off of us. I could see out of the corner of my eye as Grant and Aurora watched, mesmerized.

    As he swung outwards, my right arm latched on. Pulling him close, I whipped my helmet up and into his. Despite our height differences, I had been able to pull his head down to my level. Thrusting my right foot into his chest, he skidded backwards along the ground, bounding along the ground. He slammed into the side of the Cryptum with a grunt.

    Standing, he clenched his fists harder, as his helmet disassembled itself.

    "RYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!" he yelled, an insane pulse of energy exploding from him.

    In a flash, he was on top of me. Ducking under and retreating, I avoided the majority of his blows. Those that I didn't, I blocked with my right arm. I don't know what this sub-routine in my armor had done, but I felt amazing.

    Ducking low, I swung my right knee up and into his stomach, knocking him backwards. He recovered quickly, boosting his elbow into my helmet. I grunted as I was sent flying backwards down the ramp. Whatever Dawn had initiated definitely dampened the blows that I had taken, and I stood almost immediately.

    "I want to reunite you and Dawn, but in your current state of mind, I don't want to compromise her safety!" I yelled, clenching my right fist, as it formed a hammer. "I've escorted her all this way safely, I don't want her own FATHER to be her demise!"

    Dashing up the ramp, I slammed my hammer across his helmet, swinging a mighty blow into his chest, before kicking him square in the chest. He fell upon his back, growling in annoyance. Crouching low, we both charged at each other, a massive wave of energy erupting from both of us upon our collision.

    We both slid backwards, huffing and puffing.

    "I know you're upset. I would be too if people I cared about were killed, and then I was held captive, only to find out I've been gone for five hundred years." I called out to him. "I can't say I've known the pain, but I want to help you, Mr. Harlowe. The world has forgotten about you and your fellow Spartans!"

    "I want to help them remember their greatness, the good they did for the Universe. I want them to recognize them all as heroes, I want their sacrifice to MEAN something." I said. "I can't do that without your help!"

    "I don't want to fight you." I sighed, taking my helmet off.

    "Just last week, I started an epic journey across the stars, chasing the shadows of Humanity's past. Not only to look for you, but to find myself. I used to be an underpaid Security Guard, Mr. Harlowe. I don't want to be remembered for that, I want to be the guy that brought back the legend of the Spartans, and reminded people that there is so much more in the Universe than being gears in a machine."

    "I witnessed the crushing moment when you were dropped off in that Orphanage. I saw how the UNSC, the people you swore to protect, took the knife to you and made you more than human. I watched as you made a special trip through New Alexandria to save Lucy and the Orphans." I said, my voice shaking. "I saw how you became a hero, a leader, and an inspiration to the Sangheilli people. Your daughter has told me stories of the man you were, the man I believe in."

    "You're better than this, Mr. Harlowe." I said, shaking my head. "-And I don't care how you feel about yourself, you are a hero and an inspiration. If you weren't, I wouldn't have risked mine and my friend's lives for the past eight fucking days."

    "I mean, I lost my fucking arm, Mr. Harlowe." I said, tears pooling in my eyes, pointing to the mechanical arm. "The last thing I want to do, after all of this work, is to have you be the enemy. 'Cause you should know that, while you mean a lot to Dawn and I, the friends I brought with me are my world. It took me eight days to understand that, but if you would danger them, I'd put you down like a sick dog."

    "I don't want to think that. I want you to help me save the Universe from the injustices Cortana has caused all of us. To get revenge for your Wife and your brother. To personally take out Warden Eternal for what he did to your daughter." I said, holding my right arm out. "-But I can't do it without your help."

    Blaine stood there, his fists unclenching, as his head hung. His helmet disassembled completely, as he sank to his knees. Burying his head in his hands, I think I had finally gotten to him.

    "I don't want to give up on you, Mister Harlowe." I said, picking my helmet off of the ground. "None of us do."

    The other three took the hint, approaching Blaine from behind. Slowly, I walked towards him, kneeling beside him. Even in this position, he still practically towered over me. Holding my right hand out, Dawn appeared, standing there.

    "D-Dawn." Blaine said, his voice cracking, his body shuddering. "I'm so s-sorry kiddo. I wanted to protect you. To make sure you had the future I never did."

    The four of us watched as our hero broke down into tears. Here was a man with no hope, nothing to look forward to, nothing to fight for. Here was a man, lost to time, who had no-one that loved him. Here was a man, that was raised for war, and never fully got to feel compassion.

    "Daddy. Dawn cried. "You did everything you could. I just couldn't live without you or Mom. I needed to go look for you, I needed closure."

    Aurora and Jessica were tearing up, as Grant's bottom lip quivered. Placing his hands on his hips, Grant turned in spot, turning his back to us. I knew his type, he was the kind of guy that publicly couldn't be seen crying.

    "You kids UNSC?" Blaine asked stiffly, his gaze still on Dawn.

    "In a sort, yes." I replied. "The UNSC is more of a disciplinary group now for troubled youths, and less of a military. We are, however, citizens under the UEG."

    "Then I still have a job to do." he replied gruffly, standing. "I vowed to ensure a brighter future for everyone under the UNSC and the UEG."

    "Admiral Blaine Harlowe, Spartan One-One-Five." he said sharply.

    "Archie Branson- erm, crazy son-of-a-bitch?" I replied, to which he chuckled.

    "You're not augmented, but you definitely are my descendant." Blaine said, placing a hand on my shoulder. "I'm impressed, you put up one hell of a fight. You need medical assistance?"

    Dawn's avatar shook her head, it was true, whatever medical appliances Daniel had put in the suit did the trick. It was as if Blaine had never hit me, though I knew he had.

    "I'm Grant." Grant said. "It's a pleasure to meet you, sir."

    "I'm Jessica." Jessica said nervously, offering him a hand.

    "I'm Aurora, and... you are my biggest hero." Aurora said, hugging him.

    This caught the Spartan off guard, as his eyes widened, before he returned the hug. Part of me felt like the hug reminded him of hugging Dawn. I was glad, in the fact that it seemed to make him feel better.

    "Right then." Blaine cleared his throat. "You guys know my mission here was to locate Blue Team and Osiris, yes?"

    "Yep." I nodded. "Did you ever find them before Exuberant here locked you up?"

    "Affirmative. Blue Team was locked in a device similar to this one, and taken with Cortana off world. Osiris, on the other hand... they did not make it."

    "Damn." I sighed. "Alright, well, we have access to a Guardian. Did you happen to find out where they went?"

    "Negative." Blaine shook his head. "However, I have a chilling idea that I don't want to believe."

    "What's that?" I asked, as he looked down at me with gloomy eyes.

    "She brought them to where it all began." Blaine said. "Halo."

    Author's Note: No, Osiris isn't dead in the game. Also no, Blue Team doesn't get taken by Cortana.

    These are all canon to this story only. We're nearing the end of this story, but I hope that you've all enjoyed what I've done so far. This was a bit of an experiment, and based off of initial feedback, it was pretty well received. So I may consider doing more First Person stories in the future.

    If you haven't already, and if you enjoyed the First Person aspect of this story, I ask you to please check out the CP: Unity in Hell teasers in the Xenomorph Archives SubForum. That story is likely going to be my next project, but it will require reader interaction if it's going to be successful. It's ambitious, but I'm kind of excited to try it.

    So, how will I conclude this story? We've hunted the Truth, and discovered why Blaine was listed as a traitor, why the Government is trying to hide the Great War, and even found what became of Blaine and his family as a result. I suppose we'll have to find out in the next installment.

    Thanks for reading!


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    Shad0wChas3r
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    Re: Whispers in the Dark.

    Post  Shad0wChas3r on January 11th 2016, 10:57 pm

    "That seems the most likely. Exuberant piped up from beside me. "Cortana's emotions had been extremely out of balance since her arrival here."

    "We need to get to Delta Halo." Blaine said coldly. "You seem to be good at restricting people access to the outside world, but do you think you can manage a ride for us?"

    "We have a Guardian." I said, pointing my thumb at my chest. "Dawn helped us jack one from Warden Eternal."

    Blaine nodded, while the others rustled on their feet. Turning back in the direction we had come, our heart's sank as the Guardian we had arrive on, sank back into a slip-space portal.

    "Fools, I granted you the ability to come to Genesis. I said NOTHING about leaving!"

    There was a glowing blue and black orb in the plateau just in front of us. The five of us tensed, as several Warden Eternals stood before us, swords slung over their shoulders. Clenching our fists, Blaine and I looked at one another.

    "Spartans have a unique way of making things happen." Blaine taunted, tilting his head to Grant. "I need a weapon."

    Without hesitation, Grant looked to the weapon locker to his right. Grasping a Scattershot, he tossed it to Blaine, who caught it by the barrel. Quickly, I tapped the weapon with my hand. Within a second, my right arm formed a Scattershot.

    "That's a neat trick, guess I never noticed it before." Blaine chuckled.

    Quickly, my hand went to the back of my helmet, before I could get there, however, Blaine's hand stopped me.

    "She trusts you, boyo." Blaine nodded. "If my little girl has trust in you, than I trust you completely."

    Grant, Aurora, and Jessica ducked behind one of the many guard rails. Exuberant's purple eye socket glowed red, as she hovered over our shoulders. With a smirk, my heart thumped into overdrive. Together, Blaine and I charged at the Wardens. There had to be about twenty of them, if not more. Sprinting faster than I could imagine, Blaine was almost at the bottom of the platform.

    Leaning down, he presented me with his back. Boosting to gain momentum, I jumped off of the square of the behemoth Spartan's back. Scattershot at the ready, I was high above the crowd. Pointing my right arm down, I fired several salvos into them. The Wardens groaned in pain and annoyance as the bouncy projectiles bounded in and between each other.

    Blaine, while I took the air, barreled through the first couple with his shoulder. Stopping suddenly, I watched as the two Wardens that he managed to push skidded along the ground. Landing on one's face, I stuffed the barrel of my Scattershot into his face. He growled in pain and anger, the orb on his back sucking his broken body into the abyss.

    Flipping off at just the right moment, my feet made purchase on the chest of another Warden. Jumping off with all of my might, I fired my Scattershot at the Warden directly in front of me. The cluster of projectiles from all three rounds struck him in the chest, dispatching the monstrocity.

    My attention turned to Blaine, who smashed out one of Warden's legs with a mighty punch. As the Warden body fell onto it's hip, he swung his right boot up and into it's head, launching it right at the Warden to my left. Dropping to my hands and knees, I tabletopped the stumbling Warden, causing him to crash into the other behind him.

    Rolling forward, I stopped on my right knee, firing a precise Light Rifle round into the nearest Warden's orb. Stunning him, I boosted myself up onto his back, producing the knife from my hip. Planting it into the orb, it shlorped, much like the consistency of thick, fresh mud. After a few stabs, the Warden Eternal fell to my knife.

    Around us, the combined fire coming from Aurora, Grant, Exuberant, and Jessica caused several Wardens to fall rapidly. Blaine stopped one's sword mid swing, before bringing his mighty right foot up and into it's abdomen. Ripping the sword from the Warden's hands, he turned it in a wide arch, slicing several Warden's in half, before impaling the sword's original owner.

    I won't lie about how I felt, I felt like a god damn badass. Something straight out of those action movies. Dodging the swing of one Warden, I formed a hammer out of my right arm, the ammo depleting on my weapons. Parrying the strike, sparks raised from the metal. With Dawn's partial influence, I was able to at least knock the blade aside.

    Jumping up on my right foot, I used my thrusters to blast me up to the Warden's level. Swinging the hammer to the left, I used my momentum to flip over the Warden's shoulders. Landing behind him, I swiftly knocked one leg out with my hammer, before swinging it down on his head in a crushing blow.

    To my horror, however, for every Warden we killed, three more took it's place. Blaine was a Spartan, but after him and I's spat, there was no way we could keep this fight up forever, especially if the others were running low on ammo.

    Suddenly, there was a flash of orange hardlight, which stuck the back of one Warden. The Warden screamed in pain, disintegrating into a fine orange dust. From it's point of impact, more projectiles like the original one branched out, splashing against a handful of other Wardens, yielding a similar reaction.

    The Wardens, Blaine, the others, and I all stopped to face our assistant. Standing there, Morgan glared at the Warden Eternal, a massive cannon on hoisted onto his shoulder. The dirty blonde hair that made up the man's head had bangs that reached down to his cheek. A crazed look was in his blue eyes, steam rising from the cannon on his shoulder.

    "Morgan?!" I yelled, as Blaine punched and finished off one Warden Eternal.

    "Warden." Morgan said, ignoring my call. "It's been a while."

    "Have we met?" one Warden in particular asked.

    "Consider this our formal introduction." Morgan said, as crimson energy formed in his cannon.

    Firing a massive bolt of hardlight at the Warden mass, it splashed across the Warden's chest, disintegrating him and any other bodies that were in a five feet vicinity. Luckily for me, I was no-where near the blast.

    "Blaine, Archie, get the others out of here." Morgan said. "This cheating son of a bitch wanted to break one of my rules."

    "Rules?" I asked, as he shook his head.

    "Zeus, Blaine's Personal AI. Warden Eternal tried to make him immortal, but I shut that operation down right fucking quick." Morgan growled.

    The Wardens spent no further time to begin focusing on Morgan. Some of the Warden's charged a glowing orange beam in their face, before launching it at Morgan at high speeds. In a blink, however, Morgan seemed to faze like smoke away from the bullets.

    "You think you're special because you can call upon bodies from all throughout time?" Morgan stood there, as golden runic symbols floated in the air behind him.

    Blue and red armored Spartans stepped out of the golden symbols, each outfitted with different armor permutations than the Spartan beside me. Not only him, but several other Spartans, and the occasional trio of ODSTs accompanying the many Blaine clones.

    "Those are all me." Blaine said from beside me, flabbergasted.

    The other Blaine's and their entourage, however, seemed unfazed by the sudden appearance of their copies.

    "I've been doing that LONG since you were made!" Morgan shouted, a booming shockwave erupting from his mouth. The planet shook around us, as Blaine, the Warden, the others, and I all stumbled to gather our footing. "Why do YOU get to be special?!"

    For every Warden Eternal, five copies of Blaine and his entourage appeared from the golden symbols. The Blaine I knew stood beside me, head hung low.

    "My father, Josh, Phil, Dawn, Autumn, Darryl, even Craig." Blaine chuckled, before roaring with laughter.

    "Wait, what's going on?!" I asked Blaine, as the army of Wardens stared down Morgan and his army.

    "Each and every one of those versions of me you see there, each are a different continuity of my life that I've lived. I didn't know I looped that much, but it's a beautiful scene." Blaine explained. "Some of those groups have my original team, my cousins Josh and Phil, my father Morgan, and my Uncle Craig. Others have my brother Darryl, my wife Autumn, and my children David, Naomi, and Dawn."

    A golden ring formed around Blaine and I's waists, as we appeared beside Morgan, alongside Grant, Jessica, Exuberant, and Aurora. Behind us, an army of some thousands of Blaine and company stood rigid and ready to fight.

    "I left you guys a surprise just off of this plateau." Morgan said, his eyes never leaving the Warden Eternal's. "Hope five hundred years hasn't made you rusty, Blaine?"

    The Blaine beside me shook his head, before offering a thumbs up. Grant, Jessica, and Aurora stood in utter confusion at the scene that was slowly playing out in front of us. Hell, I was confused as all hell too, I just knew that this was pretty badass.

    "This is MY story!" Morgan pushed me out of the way, advancing. "You have NO place trying to high-jack it!"

    Scurrying out of the way, the battlecries of some thousands of Spartans and ODSTs sprinted past us in the direction of the Wardens. From the side-lines, we watched as the two armies clashed. For every combatant on either side that died, a couple more replaced them. I couldn't believe what I was witnessing, before I felt a hand resting on my left shoulder.

    Blaine tilted his head to the left, as my friends and I followed his lead. Exuberant decided to follow us, suggesting that she may be needed. Behind us, the sounds of war, and Morgan's roars of defiance, echoed through the trees. Suddenly, the five of us crested the hill, through the treeline. Blaine chuckled, as Dawn's avatar's eyes lit up like a Christmas tree.

    "Morgan, you spoil me sometimes!" Blaine cheered.

    In the distance, a rather massive ship seemed to be floating in mid-air, encapsulated by a slip-space bubble. It was definitely UNSC in design, though I had never seen it before. It wasn't Infinity-class, that much was for certain.

    "Daddy," Dawn asked through my helmet. "Isn't that the Aura of Armaggedon?

    "Yeah, it is." I could just sense Blaine smirking beneath his helmet. "-and it just so happens to be our ticket out of here!"


    _________________


    \\'Boyo\\'

    Thanks for Reading!

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    Shad0wChas3r
    Database Director

    Posts : 1172
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    Re: Whispers in the Dark.

    Post  Shad0wChas3r on January 13th 2016, 12:45 am

    Author's Note: This is the final installment, readers! It's going to be a bit lengthy, considering how much I'm going to put into it. Loose ends, and any plot holes in particular will be wrapped up and explained here.

    So, I hope you have some popcorn. Also, I hope you've enjoyed this story. It was bizarre doing it from the first person, but I thought it was pretty damn fun.

    Earlier someone mentioned that the beginning of this story sounded an awful lot like a #HunttheTruth style story. It was definitely an inspiration of this story, and I wanted to finally write a story where Blaine actually wasn't able to save the day, and the repercussions that happened.

    I know this wasn't particularly fair to the Master Chief and the other characters lovingly crafted by Bungie, and to some extent 343. However, as a fan story, I couldn't have one of my most prominent Protagonists NOT hold some responsibility for the changes to the Universe.

    Looking back on this project now, I see how truly inspired this story was to the Halo 5 advertisement campaign. Instead of Locke hunting down the Chief and the Truth. It was Archie hunting down Blaine and the Truth.

    I hope that the flashback scenes fleshed out Blaine, Dawn, Autumn, and Darryl's characters a bit more. 'Cause it's very likely that after this story is finished, you won't be seeing them very much anymore. I've practically sapped any and all ideas I could possibly come up for them, and it might be time to move on.

    Doesn't mean they'll disappear forever, that wouldn't be fair to them and the many years I spent sculpting them. However, I need something new and fresh.

    Anyways, thanks for reading so far, and I hope you enjoy this final installment.

    Note: This installment has two songs' lyrics posted. The first is 'Knights of Cydonia' by Muse. The other is 'Castle' by Halsey.

    Blaine stepped around inside of the bridge of the UNSC Frigate. I didn't bother asking how he knew of this ship. Instead, I basked in the majesty of the UNSC's history.

    "This was my Dad's frigate, if you didn't know." Dawn winked in my HUD.

    "Huh, I was just wondering what kind of an attachment he had with this ship."

    Glancing around, I saw a pedestal in the center of the bridge. Grant beamed from ear to ear, his helmet slung under his arm. His eyes were full and bright, eager to look at all the military hardware. Jessica, on the other hand, immediately searched for the nearest map of the ship. We hadn't showered in at least a week, and I could understand her desperation.

    Walking over towards the pedestal, I pulled Dawn's chip out of my helmet. Before I could press her into the pedestal, however, Aurora's hand grasped onto my metallic wrist.

    "Archie." Aurora said, a concerned look on her face. "You and I need to talk."

    "If it's what I said earlier, I'm sorry, it was heat of the moment."

    "No." Aurora shook her head. "I'm flattered, but it's something else."

    "Can it wait?" I asked. "We're so close to ending this, then, we'll have all the time to talk as we want."

    Smiling at her, I placed my left hand on her shoulder, before fully pressing Dawn's chip into the pedestal. Suddenly, a holographic avatar of Dawn stood, just above my height, beside me.

    "That's a little better." she smiled. "A little less compressed in here. Also gives me the feeling of being home."

    "Yeah." Blaine said, running his hand along one of the walls, before bowing his head. "Home."

    I hadn't even thought about it entirely. Blaine was five hundred years ahead of when he should have died. His daughter was the AI that accompanied us, and every member of his family and friendship were dead. No matter if we kept him company, it had to be a living hell. If Dawn's stories of their family life were true, than I'm certain he missed it more than anything else.

    "It's a long shot." I said, approaching him. "-but I'm sure we'll find a way to get you home, Mr. Harlowe."

    "Blaine, please." Blaine shook his head, waving me off. "I don't do formalities."

    "Blaine." I nodded. "We'll find a way to get you back. If we can find a way to stop this..."

    "Are you implying we send him back in time?" Grant asked, scruntching up his nose. "I don't think that's possible."

    "Warden Eternal can do it, considering how he replaces his broken bodies from time and space." I retorted. "ONI or someone have to have something that can manipulate time."

    Dawn rubbed her chin, pondering something, before turning to us, a fist on her hip. Suddenly, the ship around us roared to life. Blaine, Grant and I marched to the viewport of the ship, while Aurora stood in the corner.

    Before I could blink, a blue orb formed directly in front of the Frigate. Despite the technological marvels of the thirty first century, we had lost the ability to obtain Slip-space travel so quickly. As the Aura began to enter the portal, Dawn appeared behind us.

    "You three should hear this. It's not good." Dawn frowned.

    Suddenly, a comm. channel crackled to life, the signal boosted by the advanced technology held on the Aura.

    "We lost track of the primary subject and his company, Madam Director. The Anomoly has also left Sigma Octanus IV. Based on previous comm. chatter between them, we have reason to believe that they've jumped to his location, ma'am."

    "That was sent about the time we arrived on Genesis, according to the log." Dawn frowned. "Worse still, listen to this."

    "The target and his company has been located, Madame Director. They've located Subject Allfather. Shall I interfere?"

    "Negative." a woman's voice crackled into the comm. "Allow our ally do the work."

    Was she talking about Warden Eternal? Was ONI allied with Cortana and Warden? ONI kept the peace, so that Cortana didn't have to use the Guardians?

    Before any of us could speak, however, the comm. chattered once more, with a new life.

    "Madame Director. They've acquired a UNSC Frigate. Designation Aura of Armaggedon. Priority subjects have entered Slip-space and I am in hot pursuit."

    "Do we have a target designation?" Blaine asked, as Dawn folded her arms behind her back.

    "Yes, Daddy. Do you need me to run a course correction?" Dawn asked.

    "Yes." Blaine smirked. "Kid, the Arbiter still alive?"

    "Lasp 'Ibortee?" I asked. "Yeah, we saw her a few hours ago."

    "No shit." Blaine nodded. "Dawn, change course to Sanghelios. Get me an open link with the Arbiter, please."

    There was a whirring sound within the Aura's controls, the colors out in the slip-space stream we inhabited changing colors. Suddenly, a screen appeared in front of the glass, as Blaine squared his form up. Following his suit, Dawn, Grant, and I mimicked as best we could.

    The Arbiter stood in the camera, a look of confusion on her face. When she realized whom she was facing, however, she stepped backwards, clicking her mandibles.

    "By the gods. As I live and breathe, the All-father returns!" Lasp pressed a fist to her chest, bowing her head. "My friend, how are you?"

    "It's good to hear and see you again, Lasp." Blaine nodded. "Or, I should say Arbiter, noble one. Congratulations on that, by the way."

    "As it is good to hear from you once again. I am honored to stand in your presence once more, and humbled that my efforts with the Escort bore the fruits of glorious victory."

    "Just as poetic as ever." Blaine chuckled. "Listen, Arbiter. I know it's been five hundred years, but I need a favor right quick."

    "I would be honored, Admiral." Lasp continued.

    "We have a tail." Blaine cocked his head to the right. "ONI agent that's out for my entourage and I. We're in slip-space, on our way to Sanghelios now. I think I'll need a plasma torpedo or three, if you can spare?"

    "I will have a CSS Battle Cruiser inbound, noble one." Lasp saluted, before closing the comm.

    Come ride with me,
    Through the veins of History.
    I'll show you a God,
    Who falls asleep on the Job.

    "I guess now is as good a time as any to ask," Blaine sighed. "Why is ONI hunting us?"

    "After Cortana's success on Genesis, with her fleet of Guardians, I assume she made a contract with ONI. They surrendered the UNSC, broke the treaty with the Sangheilli people, and would police Humanity. In return, Cortana's Guardians would leave us alone, and return to dormancy." I shrugged. "Samantha Marquis is the current Director, if memory serves me. She's about as cold hearted as they come, from what I've heard."

    And how can we win?
    When fools can be Kings?
    Don't waste your time,
    or time. will. waste. you.

    "ONI actually split following this." I sighed. "There were the Preservers, old ONI followers who wanted to bury ONI's shameful acts during the Great War, and Neo-ONI. They want to keep all knowledge on the Great War, the Forerunners, and the Spartan program under wraps."

    "Neo-ONI originally wanted to bring me and the others in to keep me locked in the depths of ONI. I would be held prisoner, but they wouldn't kill me- or, at least they said they wouldn't." I growled. "The Preservers, however, wanted our blood because we knew ONI's dirty little secrets, and I may have killed one of their Agents during my old job."

    "So, we're really all we've got?" Blaine held a look of confusion on his face. "Arbiter seemed distressed, I won't ask much more from her."

    "What do you suggest?" Grant asked. "I mean, you were a tactical genius, weren't you?"

    "I wouldn't say genius." Blaine smirked. "However, I did have a couple of bullshit plans that worked well in our favor."

    "If ONI wants to pick a fight, we'll give them one." he continued. "Firstly, we need to get to Halo and stop Cortana."

    No-one's gonna take me alive!
    The time has come to make things right!
    You and I must fight for our rights!
    You and I must fight to survive!

    "Hell yes." I grinned, pumping my fist. "I've always wanted to take the fight to them for what they've done."

    "It's funny." Blaine shook his head. "I've become the very thing I was created to destroy; an Insurrectionist. Funny how the Universe works, yeah?"

    The ship thrust forward, as we exited Slip-Space. Surely enough, a lone purple ship loomed near the Planet's atmosphere.

    "Ma'am, we've arrived back at Sanghelios. It's possible that they mean to- wait, WHAT THE F-?!"

    A trio of cobalt and magenta missiles soared through the void of space, racing towards the ONI Prowler behind us. With a concussive force, I watched the magnificent crimson/orange explosion illuminate the hind quarters of the Aura of Armaggedon.

    [quote]No-one's gonna take me alive!
    The time has come to make things right!
    You and I must fight for our rights!
    You and I must fight to survive!


    "I see you've found your ship, Admiral of Fleets?" Lasp asked, appearing before us again.

    "Indeed, Arbiter. Thank you for your help."

    With one last flicker, the communications closed, the alien ship turning it's back on us, returning to it's planet. Suddenly, another video appeared on the glass in front of us. Their appearance was silhouetted, though I could tell a woman sat behind the camera.

    "You think you're clever? I've been tracking your every moment since you've left Reach, Archibald Perry Branson. Do you truly think I'll allow you to compromise all that the Office has strived to achieve?"

    "It wouldn't be nearly as much fun if you bent over and took it, Madame Director."

    "I see your wise-cracking attitude from your father is finally showing." her silhouette shrugged. "It's a pity, you could have been reunited with them."

    "Bullshit!" I growled. "They died when I was young!"

    "On the contrary. Once they were discovered for knowing ONI's darkest secrets, I personally had them relocated into the Office. I saved them from the Preservers. You, on the other hand, had eluded me until just the other day."

    "If you had only just taken Agent Stamford's offer while you had the chance. Now, you've gone beyond the point of no return. Fret not, I won't kill your parents. However, I can no longer allow you to live. You know too much."

    No-one's gonna take me alive!
    The time has come to make things right!
    You and I must fight for our rights!
    You and I must fight to survive!

    "If my parents are who I've discovered they are. They wouldn't want me to bow to your will." I growled, clenching my right fist. "I am a descendant of the Harlowe family. We don't back down without a fight."

    "You and your Office have broken your vows against the people you swore to protect!" I pointed at the camera. "For that, I cannot forgive you! My family's ancestry were a bunch of heroes, many of them offering their lives for the good of the Universe. Sacrifices, which you fuckers at the Office threw away, and BURIED!"

    "You can come for me." I growled, as Blaine stared at me with shock. "Just know this; you're gonna have a bad time. Now, if you'll excuse me; I have a job to do."

    Turning away, I hadn't even noticed that my right arm had formed into a Light Rifle. Walking away from the communications, the barrel of the rifle slid across the floor. I could feel Aurora and Grant's stares as I walked out of the Bridge.

    No-ones gonna take me aliiiive!
    The time has come to make things riiiiight!
    You and I must fight for our riiiiights!
    You and I must fight to surviiiiive!

    As I left, I saw Jessica approaching. She seemed distraught, no doubt because she couldn't find a functional shower. Frowning as I passed, I merely nodded my head towards her. My parents had been alive all this time?! Shaking my head, I knew better. It was ONI, they were trying to get in my head. It's as Frankie had said back on Reach, ONI were manipulative bastards.

    On the off chance they were alive, however, I couldn't let them stop me from doing what I had already spent so much time on. I was exhausted, I was beaten, and in many ways I was broken. However, I was also inspired, I was determined, I was going to keep going until I knew the Universe was safe. I was going to keep going until Humanity tasted actual freedom and peace.

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    Not to long after we had destroyed our tail, we were back in Slip-space once again. I sat in what I could only assume was Blaine's old quarters on the ship. Sitting on the edge of the cot, my head was in my hands. I heard the door slide open, as Aurora walked over. Yet again, she had that concerned look on her face, one that I didn't really want to see in this moment.

    "You okay?" she asked, as I looked up at her.

    "Not really." I sighed. "I can't tell if Marquis was lying or not. However, if my parents are alive, I can't just sit here and let them continue to be prisoners of a war they never wanted to be a part of."

    "At the same time, I can't stop everything to run a suicide mission to ONI's front doors. I'm just trying to get my head in a good place, so I can stay focused."

    "I see." she said, gently hugging me. "I just want you to know that I cherish every moment we've had together. The other day, I saw a confused young man, who seemed to have lost his light. Now, however, I see a brave young man, a fire in his heart."

    "I appreciate that," I sighed. "I hope you don't mind, but I need to really take a nap. I'm pretty tired still from that fight with Blaine."

    "I bet." she smiled, before her face returned to a look of concern. "Just remember, I have something I need to urgently tell you."

    /////////////////////////////////////////


    My eyes fluttered awake not to long after. Curled up beside me was Aurora, who I knew was pretty tired out too. It was pretty stressful going through these war-zones without much experience. I was only able to cope the past couple of days because of my inherited augments.

    Carefully, I rose from the cot, making sure not to wake her. Standing, I rolled my left shoulder. Walking through the door, I knew the Bridge was immediately to my right, and down the hall a few feet. Walking in, I saw Blaine sitting in the Captain's Chair, Dawn 'sitting' beside him.

    "I see, I never knew that you and Sona had that kind of a relationship." Blaine said, rubbing his chin. "I know it's a bit late to say this, but understand that your mother and I would have been very supportive of your marriage."

    "I know you would have." Dawn smiled, gently rubbing her forearm. "Sona was the worried one."

    "So, that Archie kid is my great, great, great, great, great Grandson, eh?" Blaine chuckled. "Definitely has the family spirit. Really impressed me earlier. Takes balls to take a Spartan II on like me."

    "-and win." Dawn giggled, as Blaine shrugged.

    "My head wasn't clear, and you helped him use Goldenheart." Blaine shook his head, eyes closed. "Still, it's just as well that you did."

    It was touching to see the two of them reconnecting after all these years. Dawn looked the happiest I had seen her since meeting her. Blaine himself actually managed to crack a non-forced smile. Still, I could see by the solemn look in his eyes, he knew as well as I that, no matter how close of a match she was, Dawn was not actually his daughter.

    His actual daughter died five hundred years ago, and this computer shared a likeness to her that would almost fool any person into believing it was actually her. It was much like what she had described of Cortana. She was a clone of Doctor Halsey, and yet, she was not Halsey.

    Still, I felt that this moment brought closure to Blaine, something he never would have received having been couped up in that Cryptum. This moment alone, made everything that I had sacrificed worth it. I had followed this man's life, from his troubled childhood, to his rise to Legendary status, to his greatest fall. I fought him in hand to hand combat to snap him out of it, and I managed to win.

    Drooping his head, Blaine seemed to be thinking a similar thing. I couldn't possibly imagine how it felt to be trapped in a time-less space, reliving your worst nightmare, day in and day out, for five hundred years. With no such release like death.

    "I thought I pinged the Aura not too long ago. Admiral Harlowe, are you there?" my eyes widened, it was Daniel!

    Surely enough, on the screen in front of me, Daniel gave his usual uninterested face.

    "I'm here. Death, it's good to see you." Blaine nodded.

    "Actually," I interrupted, stepping forward. "He prefers Daniel now."

    "Archie Branson. I'm glad to see you managed to bring the Admiral back from the shadows of the Universe. Unfortunately, things are pretty hairy right now. All the Inner Colonies are keeping a special eye out for you and your friends." Daniel sighed. "I wouldn't recommend coming this way. Seems you really shook the hornet's nest."

    "I mean, I did essentially tell their Director to shove it." I shrugged. "We're en route to a 'Halo', or whatever. Blaine thinks Blue Team is there. "

    "Say." I continued, snapping my fingers. "In the past five hundred years, have you ever experimented anything pertaining to time travel?"

    "Well." Daniel grimaced, rubbing the back of his neck. "Yes, I completed one prototype, however, it needs a temporal paradox in order to properly function. If I were to activate it without one, it might send someone either five seconds, or five hundred thousand years back in time. The paradox would help stabilize and allow us to manipulate the course of time, why?"

    "When we've finished our business on the Halo Ring. I want you to try and send Blaine back home. That way, he can permanently stop Cortana." I sighed. "To give him another chance."

    "I know where you can find a paradox, too." Dawn nodded, pointing to her pedestal. "Daddy'll know what I mean."

    "That'll destroy you." Blaine shook his head. "-and even then, we don't know if it'll work."

    "I'd rather try and fail, than never try." Dawn said, her avatar placing a hand on his shoulder. "You taught me that, remember? Besides, I'm just a computer, I'm not actually Dawn Harlowe, and you know this."

    "I know." Blaine shook. "Don't remind me, please."

    "I'll have it fired up and ready. Just make sure you get here, Blaine." with that, the communications ended.

    Grant stepped forward, arms crossed.

    "If we're going to try and send you back home, sir. Why don't we just do that first?"

    "Cortana is afraid." Blaine turned to face him. "She knows we're coming for her and Blue Team. If what John told me is true, she still has the index for the Halo Ring."

    "Meaning?" Jessica asked.

    "Halo is a super weapon that fires concentrated light throughout a certain galactic radius." Blaine continued. "It kills anything big enough to host a parasite known as the Flood. The Forerunners used it long ago, when the Flood began taking over our worlds. It kills literally EVERYTHING bigger than a household cat."

    "Oh." Grant stared, wide eyed. "Fuck me."

    "Halo needs time to charge, especially after all this time. Knowing the ring she's on, it hasn't been properly maintained, as it's Monitor was destroyed at the Battle of the Ark." Blaine continued.

    Just as he said that, the ship lurched ahead once more. On the far side of the abyss, we could make out a looming loop in space. I assumed this was Halo, considering it resembled a Halo. Blaine's fists clenched, the knuckles cracking immediately.

    "One of you needs to stay up here." Blaine turned to Grant, Jessica, and Aurora. "In case things get hairy down there, Dawn here can instruct you how to use Orbital MAC rounds."

    "Jessica." Grant said, turning to her. "You stay."

    "No," she shook her head. "I'm not leaving your side."

    "I'll stay." Aurora frowned. "I know how to fire a MAC Round, so I'm best suited."

    "Careful with that." Blaine warned her. "One mistake, and we won't have the time to realize you made a mistake."

    With that, Blaine turned on his boots, hustling out the door. Grant, Jessica, and I scrambled after him. Following the Spartan into a service elevator, he pulled a switch on the side of the elevator. A compartment opened, showing a set of ODST armor, and a silenced SMG.

    "You know how to put on the armor?" Blaine asked Jessica, who shook her head. "Grant was it? Get her kitted up. No-one under my watch is going in unarmored."

    "You should all know, we're going straight for the control room. I have the sense that Cortana is waiting there. Unfortunately, this also means it's likely to be heavily defended. There is a good chance we'll be shot out of the sky. I'll pilot to the best of my ability, but make sure you've got a firm grasp." Blaine ordered.

    When the doors opened, a lone Golden Eagle waited for us, as if fate had left it for us. Scrambling inside, I joined Blaine inside of the cock-pit, while the others took a seat. Blaine closed the ramp, activating the Eagle for take-off.

    After a moment of warming up it's engines, the bird lifted off of the ground. I felt a bit nauseous, however, I knew I had been through much worse. Suddenly, the weapon systems appeared in my HUD, smart linked with my suit.

    "You'll be giving us fire support, Archie." Blaine said in comm. "I believe in you, boyo."

    As we descended into the Ring's atmosphere, I was taken aback by what I had seen. Despite the structure of the Ring, it's environments were spot on, completely unaltered by the constant slope of the ring-world. As Blaine had suggested, Prometheans littered the massive structure in the distance, which I could only assume was the control room.

    When we were within range, I could see Hardlight rounds floating into the air towards our position. Blaine swiveled the Golden Eagle to avoid the rounds, as a trio of Promethean styled air-ships materialized out of no-where. Blaine pulled back on the stick, as my hands clenched onto the controls in front of me. This was no different than the video games I had played in my apartment.

    Placing my reticule on one of the machines, I fired a pod of Archer missiles. The lone pod surged forward, before detonating and separating into several miniature rockets. The projectiles honed in on my target, splashing across it's hull with a multitude of explosions. Dematerializing, it's friends attempted to return the favor.

    Twisting his controls, Blaine caused the Eagle to go into a corkscrew, attempting to avoid the oncoming projectiles. Unfortunately, our radar showed one missile gaining on us.

    "BRACE!" Blaine barked, as a massive explosion riddled the back of our Eagle.

    I heard a scream, as my head turned the corner. My eyes widened in horror, the ramp had exploded off, and Jessica was no-where to be seen! Grant sat there, staring at the gaping hole in the back of the Eagle. His Scattershot sat in his lap, his right arm outstretched towards the hole.

    "DAMMIT!" I growled, focusing on our tails. "Bring us around, I have some unfinished business with these cocksuckers."

    Blaine nodded, performing a barrel roll, and reducing the Eagle's speed. Just as expected, the Promethean ships appeared within my crosshairs. Unloading the chain turret on the front into their hulls, they erupted into fire, before disintegrating. However, before one disappeared, a lone missile stuck one of our thrusters. The Eagle flew shakily and erratically. Flipping, I groaned as I shook in my harness. Out of Blaine's control, the Eagle descended towards the door.

    There was a thud, and I saw only black for a moment.

    //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    When I came too, Blaine was trying to help me out of my harness. Outside, I could hear Grant's shouts of pain. Using my arm, I formed a sword, before slicing the harness off. Falling to the 'roof' of the Eagle's cockpit, I hurriedly stood.

    Blaine stepped out first, as I clambered out behind him. Grant stood there, blood coursing through several wounds on his torso. His helmet sat on the floor beside him, a giant crack in it's visor. Blood trickled out of the corner of his mouth, his eyes staring at the encroaching Prometheans with determination.

    "Grant!" I yelled, as he smirked.

    "Get inside!" Grant waved his left hand towards us. "I'll keep them off of you!"

    "Grant, no!" I yelled, as he shook his head, stepping closer towards the horde of mechs.

    "COME ON!" Grant barked, firing his Scattershot at anything that dared get too close. "YOU FUCKERS TOOK MY GIRLFRIEND! WHY DON'T YOU TAKE ME TOO?!"

    "GRANT!" I yelled, as Blaine grabbed my left arm, pulling me towards the door. "GRAAAANT!"

    "He's sacrificing himself so we can do our job." Blaine said. "He'll be remembered. Just don't waste this time!"

    "GRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANT!" I yelled once more, my right arm reaching out for him.

    He turned towards me, a grin on his face, as a trio of Knights charged at him. With a curt nod, I could make out him saying something.

    "In this world, it's Kill, or be Killed." he smiled, as the door closed between us.

    Sinking to my knees, my eyes widened in shock. My heart raced, as a cold sweat ran down the length of my body. Tears began to well in my eyes, as my closest friend died on the other side of the door. Bowing my head, I clenched my teeth, attempting to swallow what had just taken place.

    After all of this time, eight days of hell, I lost Grant and Jessica to fluke circumstances. Bashing my right fist against the door in anger, I left a considerable dent in the metal. Placing my hand up against the door, it slid down the metal.

    He and Jessica had been rather quiet since we had left Reach. I knew they really didn't want to be involved with this, but they came because Grant wanted to be there for me, and Jessica wanted to be there for him. That's when it finally hit me. My body rocked with sorrow, the tears streaming down my cheeks.

    "I'm sorry." I moaned out into the darkness. "I'm so so sorry."

    Blaine stood over me, I could feel his gaze on me. It wasn't a gaze of pity, though. It was one of empathy, he, better than anyone, had known loss.

    "You have to soldier on, boyo." Blaine said quietly. "For them. You have to make sure the mission gets done. We do this, and I promise that when I go back, I'll make sure this never happens."

    Of course, I also knew what it meant for me. Following the family tree, my existence was due to Blaine's disappearance. If Dawn hadn't gone looking for Blaine, Sona wouldn't have broken down, and Summer wouldn't have ran off. There was a very good chance that, if Blaine managed to alter the time-line, I wouldn't exist anymore.

    Funnily enough, however, that also meant that I wouldn't know if I didn't exist. There was a certain comfort to that, though, knowing that Grant and Jessica could be alive, and well together. They wouldn't have to worry about anything, they could live the adventure filled life they wanted. He could buy his video games and weights, and she could fill their house with shoes and designer clothes.

    "Spartan One-One-Five, stand down." a feminine voice entered our comm. "Join Blue Team and I. We can be a family, a REAL family. Halsey was a monster, and may have manipulated you, but I want to make it up to all of you."

    "Make up?" Blaine asked. "You're pet dog killed my Daughter, my Wife, my BROTHER!"

    "You want to talk to me about Halsey being a monster? She gave me a LIFE!" Blaine barked. "Without the Spartan Program, I never would have met Autumn, I would have never had Dawn. I never would have met my brother Darryl, or my father Morgan, or my cousins Josh, Phil, or Craig!"

    "Halsey didn't ruin my life, she gave me a better one!" Blaine paced back and forth. "She regretted what she did to us kids, but if she hadn't, NO-ONE would be standing here to regret her actions!"

    "Don't give me that bullshit that you want to give me a better life!" Blaine roared. "-because you TOOK my life away from me!"

    "I want to give you a future of peace."

    "IT ISN'T PEACE, WHEN YOU POINT A GIANT WEAPON AT THE HEAD OF THE UNIVERSE!" Blaine screamed into his mic, his voice actually cracking. "IT ISN'T PEACE, WHEN YOU KILL MILLIONS OF INNOCENTS OF PEOPLE, BECAUSE YOU HAVE MOMMY ISSUES!"

    "Your actions haven't just broken my life." Blaine said. "I have a young man with a bright future ahead of him. Thanks to you, his best friends are dead, and the Government he once trusted is hunting him. Tell me, Cortana, how is THAT peace?!"

    "I-I didn't think tha-."

    "How hilariously ironic!" Blaine snarled. "The computer program didn't think for once! You know nothing of true pain, of true isolation. You don't know the fear of death."

    "Sure, you had an expiration date of seven years. I'm sorry you had to live with that over your shoulder. You were an incredible asset to the UNSC." Blaine continued. "Us Humans? We made AI because we missed the people we based them off of. You were made, because you were going to help John cope with Halsey's inevitable death."

    "We have expiration dates too. We have a limited time to make connections with people, possibly have a family, and enjoy our short time. That's called FATE!" Blaine sighed. "What gives you the right to change everyone's fate? You once fought with Master Chief to rid the Universe of tyranny, and now in a twist of cruel fate, you are the Tyrant."

    Standing, I placed a hand on Blaine's upper arm. In the distance, a giant black orb was forming. From it, Warden Eternal stood, though sparks flew out of his many joints and ligaments. Blaine tensed, as I shook my head.

    "Go." I told him. "I went on this journey to find out who I am."

    "I found myself." I smiled meekly. "I am the Fate Changer. I go against all of the odds, and turn them in people's favor. I started as small as shooting a young terrorist in the face. Now? Now I can fight a Spartan in hand to hand combat and win."

    "Take the back way." I said. "She's sure to have left a ship there for you to take."

    Blaine paused, calculating what I was planning on doing. Of course, it came to his attention that I had all knowledge of the Spartan II program, it's affiliates, and even the events of the Great War, including the destruction of the Ark.

    "Good luck, sir. I hope you get a better future." I said, as Blaine placed a hand firmly on my shoulder.

    "Good luck to you, Spartan." Blaine squeezed my shoulder.

    Turning towards Warden, I could see him limping pathetically towards me. His sword was snapped in half, as he dragged a bum leg in my direction. Raising my Light Rifle, I planted a firm round into his forehead. Much like the other countless bodies that Blaine and I killed, this one seemed vaguely permanent, as the black orb exploded, instead of sucking him in.

    I didn't realize it until just now, but the impact of the Golden Eagle had actually done a number on my left leg. In fact, I was surprised I hadn't noticed it sooner. It was broken in several spots, but most sickening of all was how it had torn some flesh in several places. Limping forward, the next door opened. Surely enough, a black Cryptum waited in the center of the room.

    Blue light spewed out of it's cracks, and I knew Blue Team was likely inside. A hologram stood in front of the console, her hand outstretched towards, a strange 'T' shaped object in her hand.

    "You are not One-One-Five." Cortana said, turning to me.

    "No, I'm not." I said, my right arm sparking as it formed into an Incineration Cannon. "Put it down, Cortana. It's all over."

    "It will never be over, not until all traces of the Great War are eradicated."

    "Scars never fully mend, Cortana." I said, limping towards the console. "No matter how much you wash them, or try to cover them up, they are always there."

    "This is Blaine, I'm away."

    "If you cared truly about the Spartan IIs, you would never have allowed their sacrifices be forgotten." I said, my gait slowing quite considerably. "John-117 was listed as a traitor to the UNSC, because of you. The UNSC is all he had in this life, and you stripped it from him."

    "If you truly have a heart in you, you'll put that key down and surrender." I said, as the pain from my leg became too unbearable.

    Suddenly, the Cryptum began to float away, as Cortana pushed the Index into the console. Turning to me, she walked in my direction, a motherly look in her face.

    "I accounted for many things. You were one I wasn't quite expecting. Who are you?"

    As I watched the Cryptum continue to float away, I had every knowledge that she was on board it. Dipping my head, I sighed one last time, before snapping my eyes up at her.

    Without answering her, I fired my fully charged cannon at the console.

    There was a massive explosion, as the key inside was destroyed. With the firing key broken, the installation was unsure of how to react. Without proper maintenance, as Blaine had suggested, from lack of a Monitor, the installation began to crumble around us. The Cryptum was victim to the collapsing ring world. I knew I was technically killing a handful of Spartan IIs. However, I also knew that Blaine could manage to go back in time and fix this.

    "I'm nobody." I smiled, as a wave of white light overtook me.

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    Aurora's Perspective

    My heart sank as I watched the Halo Ring implode. Dawn also seemed to take this poorly, sinking to her knees beside me. I watched a lone ship flying towards the Aura, but knew based off of Blaine's latest transmission, that it was him.

    I hadn't even had a chance to tell Archie what I needed to tell him. Who I really was, and what my purpose was. When Blaine approached and docked inside the Aura, I turned to Dawn, who silently nodded. I didn't want to see anymore. Archie sacrificed himself for his mission, and I couldn't bear to watch anymore.

    Walking out of the Bridge, I pulled the sleeve of my shirt back, revealing my wrist-watch communicator.

    "Agent Matthews reporting." I sighed, a slight shakiness to my voice. "Priority Subject is terminated."

    Tears began to well up in my eyes, as the Director responded.

    "Well done, sweetie." Marquis replied. "Come back to us with the Aura and Blaine. You'll be living very well from this day forward, I'll see to that."

    I didn't want that. Not anymore. When I first met Archie a week ago, I hadn't even realized he was my mark. He was just too nice of a guy for ONI to want to hunt down. Even with his talks of Blaine Harlowe, I had assumed he was just listening to the stories of Old Lady Alyssa.

    I hadn't lied when I said she had raised me. My mother was the Director of ONI, and wanted no part in my life until I was old enough to become her personal agent. My father had indeed killed himself, solely because my mother practically talked him into it. After getting to know Archie, I couldn't believe it when I was informed of my mission.

    It was then that I remembered back to the Space Elevator, when I was cascading to my certain doom, no thanks to Agent Stamford's bluntness. Archie had risked his life to try and save mine, and I would never forget it. Every step of the way on this journey, he had protected people he thought was innocent.

    Even the Aliens he had known nothing about, he even gave up his right arm for them. The tears cascaded down my cheek, as I sniffled and sobbed. Blaine walked up to me, placing a hand on my shoulder. I brushed him off, and walked down the hall and into the quarters where Archie and I had napped.

    Sick of all these people talking, sick of all this noise
    Tired of all these cameras flashing, sick of being poised
    Now my neck is open wide, begging for a fist around it
    Already choking on my pride, so there's no use crying about it

    Sitting on the edge of the cot, my fists clenched. Shaking my head, I knew what I needed to do.

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////

    I had informed Blaine and Dawn of my original mission, and told them of my plan. Blaine seemed skeptical of course, but thankfully Dawn believed me when I explained that I needed revenge for Archie. As a result, Blaine took Dawn's chip out of the Aura. He used the Promethean ship to branch off, seeking out Daniel and his time machine.

    Before she left, Dawn had been kind enough to type in the Slip-Space coordinates for ONI's new Headquarters on one of Saturn's Moons. As my ship approached, I gave my authorization, docking in the allocated hanger.


    I'm headed straight for the castle
    They wanna make me their queen
    And there's an old man sitting on the throne that's
    Saying that I probably shouldn't be so mean

    My mother had filled my head with delusions. Saying that I would eventually be her replacement. I didn't want to run an institute like that. Archie's parents were in fact alive, however, I wouldn't call being a vegetable a life. As I stepped out of the Aura, a Security Guard smiled at me.

    His eyes widened, however, as the knife in my hand plunged into his neck. Blood splattered on my face, as I dragged it across. Falling in a heap at my feet, I took his assault rifle. An alarm bell rang throughout the establishment, as locking mechanisms formed on the doors.

    I'm headed straight for the Castle.
    They got the Kingdom locked up.
    And there's an old man sitting on the throne that's
    Saying I should probably keep my pretty mouth shut.

    Looking down at the Harlowe Family knife that Archie had left in the quarters, the blood on the blade a reminder of his sacrifice. Pressing a button on my watch, a MAC round from the Aura blasted a massive hole into the door of the Office, tearing a hole clean through several hallways and doors.

    To be honest with myself, I actually hated her. I never quite understood why I ever wanted to follow her in the first place? She was the one that abandoned me, so why didn't I abandon her? Was it because I was afraid I'd be hunted by my own Mother?

    Oh, all these minutes passing, sick of feeling used
    If you wanna break these walls down, you’re gonna get bruised
    Now my neck is open wide, begging for a fist around it
    Already choking on my pride, so there's no use crying about it

    Derrick Matthews, my younger brother, was a delusional mess. Mom had him completely brainwashed into believing everything we were doing was just. He relished in killing people that resisted the Office, taking sick pleasure in the way the blade entered their bodies. He even had a name for the sound it made.

    He stood behind me, machete in his hand. I knew the crazed look in his eyes, and I was well aware that he wasn't about to let me kill his precious Momma. He advanced towards me, slashing my left arm with the blade. I winced for merely a moment, before tripping him up.

    As he fell to the ground, I fell with him, plunging my friend's knife square into his face. He squirmed for a moment, until I twisted, destroying his brainstem. Clutching the wound on my arm, I dropped the assault rifle in my hand.

    I'm headed straight for the castle
    They wanna make me their queen
    And there's an old man sitting on the throne that's
    Saying that I probably shouldn't be so mean

    More alarms rang throughout the facility, as I followed the hole the MAC round had made. I knew where that bitch's office was, and I wasn't going to stop until I had her dead. It was my personal means of atoning for all of my sins.

    I'm headed straight for the castle
    They’ve got the kingdom locked up
    And there's an old man sitting on the throne that's
    Saying I should probably keep my pretty mouth shut

    Of course, with my luck, the door to the Director's Office was surrounded by heavily armed guards. Knowing my mother, of course, she wasn't sitting behind her desk. She was inside, knowing full well that I would be coming.

    With another click of my wristwatch, a trio of MAC rounds, one right after the other, came through the hole and punched into the incredibly durable metal that made up the door. Blasting a hole into the wall, I smirked.

    There's no use crying about it
    There's no use crying about it
    There's no use crying about it
    There's no use crying about it

    Stepping into the room, I held my knife at the ready. Surely enough, Nova, my eldest sister, laid on her back across the desk. The concussive blast from the MAC rounds had surely pushed her back. She was just as bad as Derrick, except she was usually the one that decided who lived and who died.

    She stood, albeit shakily, and passed a letter opener in both hands. She was a very skilled hand-to-hand combatant. She also was Mom's personal body guard, and I despised her just as much as I did my mother.

    I'm headed straight for the castle
    They wanna make me their queen
    And there's an old man sitting on the throne that's
    Saying that I probably shouldn't be so mean

    Charging at her with the knife, she stood there, nonchalant. As I got close, however, I cursed myself for being so damn predictable. Fire erupted in my left side, as her letter opener stuck out of my side. Gritting my teeth, I slashed my knife across her throat, before kicking her over the desk.

    One last door remained between me and my mother, and my vision was fading fast. Reaching down, I grabbed Nova's hand, before placing it up against the palm reader, knowing my DNA was likely ripped from the database.

    I'm headed straight for the castle
    They’ve got the kingdom locked up
    And there's an old man sitting on the throne that's
    Saying I should probably keep my pretty mouth shut

    As the door opened, my eyes widened as a golden sphere awaited me in the darkened room. Diving to my right, a massive surge of golden energy erupted from the door, blasting a mighty hole straight through. In the distance, I could hear the Aura taking a mighty hit.

    The Fist of Sparta, the one weapon my mother had managed to keep under Cortana's nose all this time. I knew that consecutive uses would generally lead to the machine having to charge. Poking around the corner, I heard her say the phrase Atomic Fire, before another energy surge blasted towards me. Yet again, I ducked away.

    Straight for the castle
    They wanna make me their queen
    And there's an old man sitting on the throne that's
    Saying that I probably shouldn't be so mean

    After the surge ended, I charged into the room, knowing the weapon would need a five minute cooldown to charge. However, I wasn't expecting the pistol. Groaning, I gripped my stomach, blood oozing out of the wound. Another round struck my right shin, shattering the bone and causing me to take a knee. Tears welled up in my eyes, it hurt like hell.

    However, she didn't know that I had planned for this. She stood over me, grinning cockily, thinking she had one. However, something I had learned over the past eight days is that people in close relation to the Harlowe family, don't tend to lose without a fight.

    I'm headed straight for the castle
    They’ve got the kingdom locked up
    And there's an old man sitting on the throne that's
    Saying I should probably keep my pretty mouth shut

    Opening my sweatshirt, I revealed a decoy bomb I had on my chest. This future was doomed anyways, ONI had sown the seeds of despair and doubt so deeply into society that no-one was capable of self awareness. I had to hope that Blaine was successful in going back in time, and would fix the course of the future. More importantly, I hoped this time around, Archie Branson could actually be a somebody.

    Pressing a button on my wrist watch, all I could see was the muzzle flash of the pistol, before the Aura of Armaggedon, rigged to explode, detonated the entire moon. Before I was vaporized, however, I smiled.

    Here's hoping for a better future.


    _________________


    \\'Boyo\\'

    Thanks for Reading!

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    Shad0wChas3r
    Database Director

    Posts : 1172
    Join date : 2013-01-16
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    Re: Whispers in the Dark.

    Post  Shad0wChas3r on January 13th 2016, 1:14 am

    Epilogue

    There was a mighty flash of golden light, as Autumn and Darryl covered their eyes. Warden Eternal stood, confused, as a lone Spartan stepped out. Blaine Harlowe stood, checking over himself, before looking over towards Autumn and Darryl.

    "Remember me?" Blaine chuckled, cracking his knuckles. "I know how to beat you now, and this time, I'm living my life!"

    //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    I sighed lazily, placing my feet on the table. A pair of slippers kept my feet warm, as I yawned. Holding the small electronic device in my hand, I was surprised as Aurora's lips planted themselves on mine. Placing the machine down for a moment, we embraced, as she sat on the coach next to me.

    "Whatcha doing?" Aurora asked, as I chuckled.

    "Well, as a high-ranking member of ONI, like my ancestors before me, it's only fitting I be keeping my mind sharp!" I smirked, brushing a lock of her hair aside. "Grant and Jessica wouldn't stop messaging me pictures from their honeymoon, I felt like I was losing brain cells."

    "Those two are really cute together." Aurora smiled.

    "They're good people," I nodded. "They deserve to be happy."

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    "This is Sierra One-One-Seven." John said, Blaine standing beside him, alongside Autumn, Dawn, Darryl, Naomi, David, Fred, Linda, Kelly, and the entirety of Fireteam Osiris. "The AI Cortana... is officially retired from active duty."

    "She's not the only one." Blaine said, turning to Autumn, and his kids. "Serin will understand. I need time with my family. So, I'm retiring from my position of Admiral."

    Dawn's eyes lit up, as she wrapped her arms around him. Blaine paused for a moment, remembering the future that he hoped he had changed. A future where his daughter was merely an AI chip, and unable to give him hugs like this.

    "I'm doing it mostly for my kids, though." Blaine smiled, pecking her on the forehead. "They have a future, and I want to be in that future."

    //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    I smiled at the picture on the coffee table. It had been a family photo taken five hundred years ago. Blaine Harlowe, my ancestor and once the leader of the UNSC, posed in a picture with his wife, Autumn, his daughters Naomi and Dawn, and his son David.

    I couldn't escape the feeling that I had met Blaine Harlowe personally, however there was no reason to fret over it. As a tradition, my family has remained in a high seat at ONI for countless generations. The Harlowe family had sworn to protect Humanity and the helpless, and we have each done so.

    "You're always staring at that photo." Aurora grinned, resting her head on my shoulder.

    "It's a great family heirloom. Reminds me of where I came from, and what I'm doing in this world." I replied.

    Turning my attention back to Aurora, I saw that she also had a handheld electronic in her hand as well.

    "What, you wanna play too?" I chuckled, as she nodded cutely. "Alright then."

    In the corner of my eye, I saw something flashing, I turned my attention towards it. A shiny suit of blue and red armor sitting in the corner of my room. A single ray of sunlight trailed in through the window, glinting off of the visor of the helmet. The numbers one-one-five painted on the chestpiece. Smiling, I felt a sudden jolt of inspiration.

    The two of us booted the game up together, as a hologram of an old man in a lab coat appeared before us.

    "Hello, and welcome to the World of Pokemon...!"

    Fin.

    Author's Note: Thank you all so much for reading this. I know the amount of readers kind of dwindled over time, and I'm sorry if that was because of how the story was turning out.

    However, the tale is finished, and the Universe is set to the way it should be. Like I mentioned in the previous post, this is the last story that we will see the Harlowe Family primarily involved in.

    Any future Halo tales will have potential cameos by these characters, but will not focus on them. I started Blaine the year Halo Reach came out, which was 2010. As Vale had mentioned, as a character, Blaine has grown, molded, and changed over these past six years.

    He and his family will forever have a special place in my heart. He will always be remembered as the character that I liked to experiment new things with. The scene where I appeared and summoned numerous Blaine's, Darryl's, Josh's, Phil's, Autumn's, Dawn's, David's, and Naomi's was symbolic to the amount of time I have spent redacting storylines and retconning factors.

    Each of those Blaine's and their entourage were a different iteration I've written here, or those that didn't actually get published. Warden Eternal annoyed me in that his character could claim new, fresh bodies from the past and future, without blow-back from time. It also kind of reminded me of Blaine, who I kept giving new things to, using old and new ideas to culminate him into who he is today.

    I wanted his final story to have an actual heartwarming ending, where his actions actually did in fact improve the lives of many, and he didn't die.

    No, I'm not done writing on the board, so save your prayers on that Razz . I just won't be continuing with the Harlowe family in any iteration.

    Again, thank you all so very much for reading and following Blaine on this six year journey. Even with Halo 6 coming, it's time he hung up his helmet and let Master Chief do his thing for once ;P .


    _________________


    \\'Boyo\\'

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    Shad0wChas3r
    Database Director

    Posts : 1172
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    Age : 22

    Re: Whispers in the Dark.

    Post  Shad0wChas3r on January 19th 2016, 8:16 pm

    Considering the fact that the Harlowe Family story has finally come to a close, wouldn't you know it, an actual character creator that makes almost realistic faces became available today.

    If you haven't heard of Black Desert Online, it's an Online MMORPG game that's currently in beta. However, the devs released the Character Creator for free today for people to build their characters for the Closed Beta, the next Beta Test, and the Full Release.

    I gave it a download, and despite almost nuking my computer with how much shit it can let you do, I was actually able to create the characters I've envisioned all these years, and make them look as if they were real people like you or me *well, as close as possible.*

    We'll start off with the big man himself; Blaine Harlowe.

    BlaineHarlowe:

    Next we have his wife; Autumn Harlowe.

    AutumnHarlowe:

    Finally *of all that I've made so far*, their daughter; Dawn Harlowe.

    DawnHarlowe:

    As time goes on, I hope to have an image gallery containing a face for each and every one of the characters I've developed. Including, but not limited to; David, Naomi, Josh, Phil, Morgan, Craig, Darryl, Butch, and Katie herself.

    Considering how extensive the program is, though, I wouldn't expect too many right off. These three alone took me at least an hour each.


    _________________


    \\'Boyo\\'

    Thanks for Reading!

    avatar
    Manny
    Freelancer Operative

    Posts : 1348
    Join date : 2013-01-17
    Age : 22
    Location : The Great White North (Canada)

    Re: Whispers in the Dark.

    Post  Manny on January 29th 2016, 11:52 am

    REALLY glad I checked in here again. Those faces are awesome!

    Still haven't read the rest of the story because I'm still trying to catch up with Halo Lore before watching the Halo 5 campaign. Don't worry, I WILL read this someday.

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    Re: Whispers in the Dark.

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