13 August 2012 @ 08:13 am

1350 Hours, August 12, 2557
Requiem Shield World
Forerunner Installation SW-0043

The road to the southern edge of the control center was a difficult drive, with the enormous Mammoth making for a tedious trip. Every bump and hole they rode over caused the vehicle to shake and tremor. The engines roared so loudly, it was a wonder the Spartans could speak to each other.

The Warrior sat to the side of the other Spartans, only engaging in conversation when it was necessary. The Librarian wasn’t certain if he was still feeling the effects of his travel through the space-time continuum or mourning the loss of the Intellect, but it was clear to her that he was not having an easy time adjusting to the situation at hand.

She walked to him and placed a gentle hand on his shoulder. “It will get easier, Reclaimer,” she assured him.

He didn’t reply, but she hadn’t expected him to.

They were travelling eighty-three kilometers southwest of the crash site. She was convinced that she would be able to make contact with the Didact there. Persuading the commander, however, had been more difficult.

“What makes you think he’s going to talk to you there?” Commander Buck had asked pointedly.

“One of your Spartans saw what I believe is a Cryptum. If that is so, then the Didact will be there,” she had replied confidently as she took a step closer to his desk..

He had looked at her in disbelief. “The glowing ball that flew through the sky three weeks ago?
That is your husband?”

“No,” she had corrected. “That object is what holds his consciousness and his body. A Forerunner would put themselves in there as a self-imposed exile. When one is in there they are cut off from the world around them.”

“Then how the hell did he orchestrate this whole thing with the Schism?” he had demanded.

“I don’t know,” she had reluctantly admitted. “But, if I am permitted to go there with a group of your people, I will find out.”

He had leaned back in his chair and pinned her with a look. “Let me guess, you want to take the Chief with you.”

“That would be preferable, yes.”

“Look, there is no way I’m going to order him to go with you. Hell, I don’t even know if he’s mentally stable after everything has gone through. The doc told me about what happened after he woke up, how he asked for Cortana and didn’t even know what was going on,” Buck had replied.

“Considering the fact that there is no record of any person successfully travelling through time, I would say that he has handled himself quite remarkably,” the Librarian had countered.

“Yeah, well, he’s a Spartan.” He had looked at her for a few seconds. “You can ask him if he wants to go. The mission is completely voluntary and I want him to know that.”

She hadn’t been concerned; she had known that the Warrior would agree to go. And she had been proven right.

“Do you have the Source?” she asked him, referring to the crystal. She knew the answer, of course, but she was trying to draw him out of his silence.

“Yes, ma’am.”

She slid in the seat next to him. “I warned your commander that establishing contact with the Didact may take some time. My husband has many qualities that are admirable in a soldier, stubbornness being one of them. Initially, he will not be happy with our presence.” She looked at him squarely. “If he grants me access, you and the others need to be ready to infiltrate the control center.”


The cabin shifted as the vehicle started to slow. Less than a minute later, the rear compartment hatch opened. The Warrior stood up and the Librarian followed his lead. Together, they led the group off the Mammoth.

As she stepped off the giant vehicle. her eyes were drawn to the cryptum. It sat in the field, dull and grey. The Didact wasn’t in there, she knew. He was somewhere in the control center in his restored body, waiting.

“What is that?” one of the Spartans asked.

“That is what held the Didact.” She looked at the Warrior. “Let us go.”

The Mammoth had stopped several hundred meters from the edge of the force field. She, the Warrior and the dozen Spartans began to make their way towards the Cryptum. When they got within a hundred meters of the shield, two Prometheans, including the Delegate appeared.

It had been a long time since she had seen that particular Knight. He had always thought she was more of a liability to the Didact, believing that he should have married within his own rate.

“That’s one hell of a trick,” one of the Spartans muttered.

She looked at the Delegate. “I want to speak with my husband.”

“He does not want to speak with you.” His rebuff was not unexpected.

“I want to hear that from him myself. With all of our history, he owes me that much,” she argued.

The Delegate’s eyes burned. If her husband didn’t have control of the Promethean fleet, she would have been frightened. She knew how deadly the Knights were. “He owes you nothing. You abandoned him in the Forerunners’ most dire hour for these...children.”

“I saved a people I deemed worth saving,” she argued, not backing down.

“Leave now. Before these ‘worthy’ people pay the price for your actions.” He reached for his lightrifle and aimed it at her.

She did not flinch. If he had orders to kill her, she would have already been dead. “I will not leave this place until I am able to speak to the Didact. I will come back every day until he grants me my request,” she warned.

“You’re not getting in.” Then, he and the other Promethean disappeared.

The Librarian turned back to the Warrior and the Spartans who were waiting expectantly. “Come, we will try again tomorrow.”

“That’s it?” The Warrior sounded disappointed.

“It’s all we can do.”

The rest of the day passed slowly. When the moons were halfway through the nighttime sky, the Librarian started to walk through the camp that had been set up. Most of the soldiers left her alone, even coming across as frightened by her.

The Warrior, however, displayed no such compunction.

She found him on watch at the edge of camp. He held a lightrifle in his right hand. From this distance, he looked like a warrior-servant from the days of old.

But he was not, she reminded herself. Though he might have been the one whose deeds had been foretold, there was no missing the humanity in the man in front of her. He ate. He slept.

He mourned.

She walked to where he stood. She longed to understand this Warrior in front of her. The records she had accessed on Earth had testified to his mighty deeds, but left out the person within the armor. “I am sorry for the delay, Reclaimer. I did speak of my husband’s stubbornness before.”

He nodded. “We’ll wait as long as we have to.”

“It might be a while,” she warned. “Your commanding officer believes that your technicians will be able to circumvent the control center’s security measures, but I assure you that they will not be able to override them.”

“Cortana did.” It was spoken so softly that she wondered if he realized that he had spoken out loud.

His slip intrigued the Librarian. It was the first time he had spoken about the Intellect since they had walked the halls of the Infinity. “She must have been a remarkable construct.”

He stayed silent for a few seconds. The only sign of any inward turmoil was how his grip on the gun tightened.

“Reclaimer?” she prompted.

“The Delegate wanted me to hand over Cortana. They called her the Intellect.”

There was an unspoken question in his statement, but the Librarian wasn’t willing to answer it.

The Warrior pressed forward. “You know what they wanted with her, don’t you?”

Of course she did; it was part of her reason for requesting passage on the Infinity, to see the prophetic Warrior and the Intellect together. But the construct had succombed to rampancy and the Librarian had been wrong in her assumption. “It doesn’t matter now, Reclaimer.”

“It does to me.”

She considered the man in front of her. He almost seemed protective of the AI, even after her destruction. Maybe there had been some truth to the Augury.

“There was a portion of the Mantle’s teachings that spoke of a Warrior and the Intellect. It was believed by some that these two beings would bring an end to the Flood infection,” she started to explain. “It was the connection that the two of you shared that drew my attention to you and your construct.”

She leaned against the large bounder and looked out to the horizon. In the distance, the empty Cryptum loomed. “The Forerunners never created an interface like what you had with your construct. The idea of having such a connection would have been considered sacrilegious to the Mantle’s teachings. When I was reviewing the records of your world and I learned about you and your construct, I couldn’t help but to be reminded of the Augury. I would assume that the Didact has heard about the two of you as well.”

She turned and faced him. “My guess is that he wanted to destroy her before a cure for the Flood could be found, that way he could justify his plan to alter the timeline,” she finished.

The Warrior shook his head. “Cortana never said anything about knowing a cure.”

“It is possible that she never knew of it. The data she had collected on Installation 04 and her time with the Gravemind would have been too much information for her to fully process,” she replied. A moment of silence passed. “Still, she must have been a magnificent construct to not give into the temptations of a Gravemind.”

“He told her she could live forever if she gave in and told him about her solution,” he said slowly, as if recalling a memory.

“She was tested by the promise of eternity,” she murmured.

It didn’t make sense to the Forerunner. All of the evidence pointed to the fact that she had found the legendary Warrior and Intellect and yet the construct’s program had been terminated. She felt a wave of annoyance wash over her. This was why she hadn’t clung to the words of her ancestors.

“Are there any other writings about the Warrior and the Intellect?”

She couldn’t tell if he believed her claim that he and his construct were the legendary duo. But, he couldn’t disguise the concern in his question, a query that she would not answer. She straightened. “I will let you return to your duties, Warrior.”

She hoped he didn’t notice her slip, but something told her that the Reclaimer had been aware of her mistake.

The next morning, the Warrior approached her, ready to escort her as she attempted to make contact with the Didact. She nodded in greeting and then led the way to the designated spot. As they approached the shield, she expected the Delegate and his companion to appear, but they hadn’t yet shown up.

Was today the day she would finally be reunited with her husband?

She drew a deep, calming breath and walked forward. When they were within sixty meters of the shield’s edge, a whooshing sound came from behind them. The Warrior spun around first, the other Spartans quickly followed. The Librarian, suspecting who was there, turned slowly.

It was a reunion 100,000 years in the making.

The Didact stood there, unarmed, with his hands folded in front of him. “You don’t take orders very well.”

“I never did,” she replied, swallowing a lump in her throat. It had been so long.

“That is very true,” he answered solemnly. The Librarian hadn’t been prepared for the raw pain in his voice. How long had he mourned her decision before locking himself in a Cryptum again?

He looked at the Warrior. “You should be more discerning of the company you keep, Lifegiver.” Then, in a flash, they disappeared.

And rematerialized in the war room of the control center.

Only the Warrior had been transported with her and the Didact. She frowned. The Warrior couldn’t reach the Inner Chamber being under the Didact’s watchful eye.

The Didact stood in front of the Reclaimer, inches from his visor. “So, this is the creature that destroyed the Halo installation. Annihilated the Ark itself! You are fortunate that I have not ordered your death!”

The Warrior remained silent.

“The only satisfaction I have received is knowing that you have lost something of great value as well.” The contempt was unmistakable. “Tell me, Reclaimer, do you ever wonder if there was something you could have done different to save your construct?”

The Warrior tensed slightly, but still said nothing.

The Librarian narrowed her eyes. Her husband’s notorious temper had been steeped with cruel bitterness.. “Enough, Didact. I wished to speak with you. Not the Reclaimer.”

The Didact huffed, but moved away from the Warrior. “So speak.”

There was no traces of the sadness in his voice that she thought she had sensed earlier, only animosity. She flinched at his hardened demand.

Yes, she had known that her decision to stay on Earth had been extreme, but so was his acquiescence to activating the Halo array!

“Stop this madness. Allow the Reclaimer to eradicate the abomination that you created,” she implored.

“Why should I do that? So you can leave me here and follow them again?” he spat. “Perhaps you are not nearly as wise as I had once thought.”

She refused to be hurt by her husband’s unkind words. “I was left with little choice because of what was being planned with the Halo rings!” she argued. “I stand by my decision to remain with the humans. Can you still say the same of your choice?”

He took two steps towards her. The Warrior raised his weapon at the Didact. The Librarian lifted her hand, stilling his movements. She knew that despite his anger, her husband would never hurt her.

“Why do you think I created this? Because of that choice!” He spun around and started to pace. “Bornstellar’s memories came to me in my dreams. His abilities allowed for me to build the Schism and remain conscious during my time in the Cryptum.”

“Not even the Builders would support this!”

“They created the Halo Array. Do not underestimate their drive for self-preservation, Librarian.” He pivoted on his heel and walked to her. “I will stop the Precursors’ judgment before it comes into existence. Things will then go the way they should have.”

“Are you not any less arrogant than them for thinking you know what is best for the universe? We made our choices. Let those who came after us make theirs,” she said.

“You always did care about other species more than your own kind,” he shouted. “These humans are below us! They always have been and continue to be as such.”

“I saw us as the forerunners to a new era.” She looked at the Warrior to her side. “There were some things that even our people could not achieve.”

He shook his head in disbelief. “You speak of the prophecy. You mean to tell me you think that he is the Warrior?”

“You spent your life chasing after trying to follow the Mantle. You would be willing to turn your back on the writings when the signs are so obvious?” she challenged.

“You mocked me for centuries about my dedication to the Mantle. Now you claim to be a believer in the ancient writings?” he exploded.

She would not back down, despite his ire. “I believe in certain aspects of it. There are too many similarities for this to be mere coincidence. But, I will never indiscriminately follow everything that was written. It was that kind of blind faith that led to a mindset that brought our kind’s destruction.”

“You still manage to surprise me, even after all of these years,” he said. He started to pace in a tight circle. When he spoke again, he was more calm. “I would have never thought you would ever consider their teachings to be valid.”

He paused and looked at her. “You have given me much to consider.”

Then, unexpectedly, the Librarian and the Warrior were transported outside the control center again. The Spartans that had accompanied them looked at them, guns drawn.

“What just happened, Chief?”

“We made first contact,” the Warrior said simply. Then, he walked to the Mammoth.

The rest of the day brought apprehension on everyone’s part. The Warrior watched the control center as if he could see what the Didact was up to. The Librarian forced herself to walk away from camp during the evening to meditate.

It wasn’t as successful as she had hoped it would be.

Just as the suns began to set, she walked to the Warrior.

“Commander Buck has ordered Chief Lasky and the rest of the Spartans here as backup,” he said as she stepped next to him. “They will be here in the next hour.”

“If he feels like that is wise, then he must do what he thinks is right,” she said.

Both of them knew the extra manpower wouldn’t be able to protect them from the will of her husband. He could take them at any time and they would be powerless to stop him.

A fortnight passed without any progress. Commander Buck was getting annoyed by the impasse, but there was nothing he could do with his ship still stranded on the planet’s surface.

The Warrior had not complained about the repetition of the days’ events. When he wasn’t on watch or resting, he was busy training the Spartans, instructing them on the everything from surveillance to hand-to-hand combat.

After fourteen days of hearing nothing from the Didact, the Librarian unexpectedly heard a familiar sound floating through the air one early morning. She looked ahead at the control center.

The Didact was waiting.

The Spartans on watch were closer than she or the Warrior. They approached him with their guns drawn. The Didact seemed to barely notice the weapons that were aimed at him though he was, as he had been the day he had first revealed himself, unarmed.

“Stand down,” the Warrior ordered as they walked up to her husband.

The Spartans took a half-step back and lowered their weapons.

“I need to speak with you again,” the Didact said. He looked at the Warrior. “Both of you.”

Then, they disappeared again.

The Didact barely waited until they had remateralized to start speaking. He moved to stand in from of the Librarian. “You still wish for me to allow this Reclaimer to destroy the Source and seal the Schism?”

“I do.” She reached out and took his hands into hers. It could have been wishful thinking, but she thought she felt him lean into her touch slightly. “It is the right thing to do, Didact..”

He looked at her for a few moments. Then, his shoulder sagged slightly. “What if I allow him to do that? What happens to our legacy? We would never be able to achieve the status we had before the Array was activated.”

“Perhaps,” she said gently, “we are not meant to have that privilege anymore.”

He squeezed her hands before releasing them. “Do you truly believe the construct was the Intellect?”

“I do.”

He said nothing for several seconds. “I have a confession to make. A couple of years ago, my Prometheans intercepted a damaged copy of 04-343 Guilty Spark roaming the galaxy. Looking for you,” he said.

To the side of her, the Librarian noticed that the Warrior tensed at the mention of the Monitor.

“They accessed his data. He was trying to find you to report the similarities between the Reclaimer and his construct and the prophecy of the Warrior and the Intellect. When the Knights realized this, they initiated contact with me here on Requiem,” the Didact said. “My plan to use the Schism was already established, but I couldn’t turn my back on my dedication to the Mantle’s teachings. I had to see them for myself.”

“As if my providence, I discovered their vessel was going to pass through this system. I coordinated with the Faithful to set up an attack in attempt to retrieve the construct. Having their ship land on the planet was not part of the plan, but I still used their presence to my advantage,” he continued.

“It didn’t take long for me to see the depth of the knowledge the construct carried within her matrices once she entered into Requiem’s systems.” He looked briefly at the Warrior. “The wealth of information she contained had been mostly undiscovered by the Reclaimers. However, I remained unconvinced to stop my plan and ordered for the Prometheans to capture her. She was too dangerous to fall into another’s hands.”

“As you know, they managed to flee from my Knights, despite her condition. Later, she entered the control center’s systems and I was able to access more of her data.” He tilted his head, as if studying the Librarian. “You were right, there is a cure for the Great Infection.”

Her heart sped up. She knew that there was a way to deal with the Flood without causing a mass genocide. “You know it?”

He avoided her question. “I accessed the Bestiarum,” he confessed.

Her brow furrowed. What would he want with the genetic records of the species that had been taken to the Ark? And what did that have to do with the Cure?

“You might have wondered why I waited so long to meet with you. Dreaming...sleeping is difficult,” he said. “But, I finally did it.”

A worried feeling settled in her stomach. Why did she think that her husband had done something potentially foolish?

“Did what?” she prompted.

“Accelerated the human growth process.”

The pieces of what he had done started to fall into place. “Did you...”

“Figure out a way to perform a merging between an AI and a sentient? Yes, I did.”

A shadow moved in the corner of the room. The Warrior turned towards the figure, gun drawn, though the Librarian doubted he would keep his weapon trained on the person for long.

She was wearing an updated version of the Forerunner armor. Her height was short compared to the Librarian’s tall stature. She didn’t miss the uncharacteristic sixth finger on each hand. The woman reached up and took the helmet off her head, revealing a head of brown hair and a pair of purple eyes. The Librarian needed no further confirmation that as human as she appeared, this woman contained Forerunner DNA.

“The Intellect has...evolved,” explained the Didact.

She looked at the Warrior. A soft grin stretched her lips. “Miss me?”

The Warrior’s hold on his weapon faltered. “Cortana?”

She smirked. “You know, you’re a lot shorter than I remembered.”

Chapter 12
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