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10 August 2012 @ 12:05 pm
Fac Fortia et Patere (14/16)  
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0605 Hours, August 27, 2557
Control Center, Requiem Shield World
Forerunner Installation SW-0043


The Delegate was up to something.

The fact that she and the Intellect had encountered no resistance during their way to the Inner Chamber alarmed the Librarian. She knew that her husband and the Warrior were both skilled fighters, but the leader of the Promethean AIs would not be easily defeated. She chose to not voice her concerns to the Intellect who was leading them down the hall, her weapon ready to protect them.

“This wasn’t quite the reunion the Didact was expecting,” the Intellect said as they neared a set of doors. “He didn’t realize the Delegate’s power had grown so strong.”

They walked through the passage. “The Delegate has always been disapproving of our marriage. He has been determined to separate me and the Didact for centuries. He believed it was a poor use of judgment for my husband to marry outside his rate,” the Librarian replied.

The Intellect nodded. “I know.”

There was still so much the Librarian didn’t know about the Intellect and the process her husband had used to bring her data back to life. Had her husband implanted his own thoughts and memories in her as he had with Bornstellar?

“How did you learn of that?”

The Intellect must have sensed the concern in her voice. “It’s not what you’re thinking,” she assured her. “The answer is much more mundane; I hacked into the Didact’s personal logs. He talked about you and the history between you two a lot.”

“You were able to access the data stored in his armor?” Even she didn’t have access to that information.

She shrugged. “Old habits die hard, I guess.”

They walked for several minutes before the Intellect spoke again. “Since you asked a question, mind if I throw one your way?”

She reckoned she knew who she wanted to ask about. “Go ahead.”

The Intellect’s steps slowed. “Did you really strand yourself on Earth with prehistoric humans rather than return to the people and world you knew?”

The Librarian was so surprised by the fact that the Intellect hadn’t asked about the Warrior, it took her several seconds to formulate an answer. “I believed that humanity had something remarkable about them, that they would take the place of the Forerunners someday, and I wanted to be a part of that, yes.”

“You left the Didact.”

“My husband and I had been separated for centuries. Such distance was not uncommon with our people,” she defended.

The Intellect shook her head. “I don’t think I could have done the same thing. Leaving the Chief alone to fight a war, even one that was doomed.”

“The connection the two of you share is different than the one the Didact and I have. Yours is deeper than love, bounded by trust,” the Librarian said, subconsciously quoting the Augury.

The Intellect paused, then turned slowly towards her. “It was you, wasn’t it? You uploaded that data to my matrices in the control center before the Schism was activated.”

She was impressed that the Intellect remembered that time; her data saturation levels had been so high at the time. “I did try to transmit the entire Augury to you, yes. It was my attempt to stop the Didact and Delegate from going through with their ill-conceived plan,” admitted the Librarian.

“Does John know what the prophecy says?” She seemed nervous at the idea.

Her reaction intrigued the Librarian. The depth of how close the Warrior considered the Intellect had been clear to the Forerunner from the time he had awoken on the Infinity.

“No. I did not tell him the Augury.”

Immediately, the Intellect relaxed.

“You do not want him to know what it says?” she asked curiously.

Cortana started walking again. “It’s going to be difficult for him to adjust with this--” She gestured towards her body. “--without thinking about some Forerunner prophecy.”

“I believe that you underestimate the Warrior’s ability to adapt,” the Librarian countered.

“Maybe I need some time too,” she said softly.

The Librarian didn’t reply as they continued making their way to the Inner Chamber. They turned another corner where the ground sloped downwards. At the end of the passage, there was a large door that led to the outer chamber, but it was secured.

The Librarian stepped to the control panel by the door and entered a long string of codes. When she and the Didact had been in the Bloc, he had confided that he had reset Requiem’s systems to their prior state, allowing her to have access to the planet’s security systems. After she pressed the last button, the light above the door turned green. It rolled back, granting them entrance to the outer chamber.

In the outer chamber, the Didact and the Warrior stood. Each held a weapon in their hand, ready to eliminate any threat that stood in the way of victory. The warrior of the past and the Warrior of the present, together.

“You cheated,” the Intellect accused the Warrior. There was mirth in her voice.

“Do you still have it?” he asked, not responding to her comment.

She held out the case. “You know I keep what I steal. Or what you stole in this case.” She considered him for a second. “Maybe ONI was right to think I would be a bad influence on you.”

“Go,” the Didact instructed the Reclaimers. “Destroy the Source. We will remain out here in case the Delegate arrives.”

The Warrior and the Intellect nodded and made their way to the Inner Chamber. The small room was surrounded by windows that allowed the Reclaimers to be seen. Inside, the Librarian saw the transparent enclosure that would contain the Void that would destroy the Source.

The Didact’s solid footsteps approached her.

“I must admit something to you,” he said, following her gaze. “For a long time --for millenias-- I believed that you and I were the fabled Warrior and Intellect. You had wisdom and insight that even the Builders did not possess and I had the universe's largest army at my disposal. I believed that we would usher in a new chance for our people to thrive.”

He looked at her. “It never was us, was it?”

“No.” She faced him and placed her hand on his arm. “It wasn’t, but that doesn’t mean that our actions won’t make an impact to these peoples who have succeeded us. You have already done the universe a great deed by restoring the Intellect.”

She looked back at the Reclaimers. “Does she know what information she has?”

“The cure?” He shook his head. “Not yet. I believe it is to the Intellect’s advantage for her to learn of it on her own accord. She will remember it when it is time for the knowledge to be discovered.”

The Librarian was tempted to argue, that the cure from the Flood infection should be brought to light immediately, but with no threat of a Gravemind, she was content to let the issue lie.

“And you are accepting of the Source’s destruction?” she asked, glancing in the direction of the Inner Chamber. The Intellect was working quickly at the console; the Warrior stood ready with the Source in his hand.

“Accepting, yes, though against my better judgment. I still believe that we as a people are better equipped to deal with the Flood and the fate of the Universe. But, your insight has proven correct in times past. I will trust in it now, as I should have before the Halo Array was activated.”

He abruptly pulled back and spun to face the door. “Stand back. The Delegate is approaching.”

She may have been unarmed --a conscious decision she had made when she fled with the Intellect-- but she was unwilling to move away from her husband. The fate of the Schism and its Source was in the hands of the Warrior and the Intellect now.

The Sentinels moved by the door, ready to attack.

The lights dimmed briefly. She risked a look at the inner chamber. A small dot four centimeters wide was hovering in the middle of the apparatus. The Void was starting to form.

“How long will it take?”

“Several minutes. I will hold him off. They will be protected,” he assured her.

She believed in her husband’s skill as a soldier. He hadn’t been Supreme Leader of the Forerunner Army without reason. “I know you will, Didact.”

Another ten seconds passed. Then, the main chamber door slid to the side. The Delegate stood there alone. His armor had been damaged; the pieces hung awkwardly from his shoulder blades. His helmet had been knocked off. His burning skull caused shadows to dance across the room.

“It is too late, Delegate,” her husband said commandingly. “The Reclaimers will destroy the Source and the Schism will be deactivated.”

“You overestimate your power, Didact,” the Forerunner AI spat. Suddenly, the Sentinels dropped to the ground, powerless. “I control this planet. I will restore the timeline to the way it should have been, then the Knights will have our rightful place in history.”

“You would turn against your leader?” the Didact asked.

“You have turned against your people! Just like she did! Bias was right to be convinced by the Gravemind,” he shouted. “Arrogance and pride are the Forerunners downfall, but I will go back and show you the errors of your ways. Then it shall be the Knights, not the Flood, that will succeed the Forerunners.”

“You speak madness. You are rampant, just like those who came before you,” the Didact replied.

“But not the Intellect. Isn’t that right, Commander?” He bared his teeth. “You are like her. Putting the Reclaimers ahead your own kind. That is madness!”

The Librarian willed for the Void to be fully established. She knew firsthand the devastation that a rampant AI could cause.

“Stand down, Delegate,” the Didact said evenly. “If you do such, I will permit you to exist until the time when your matrices cease to function.”

“Never!” Then, he pulled his left hand from behind him and activated a light sword. The Librarian recognized the weapon from the UNSC mission logs she had watched. She knew how deadly they could be.

“Watch out!” she cried as she ducked for cover.

Her husband, despite his speed, was not able to move out of the way in time. The plasma blade sliced across his abdomen, breaching his suit. He fell to his knees, clutching his middle.

The Librarian’s heart lurched. There was no creature, Forerunner or human, that would be able to survive such a wound. Blood stained the armor and dripped on his gloved fingers. He gasped for air as he gritted out, “You are a traitor.”

She moved to her husband’s side, not fearing the wrath of the Knight.

“To who? My own kind? I am not.” He laughed bitterly. “Enjoy these final moments when you will watch the Great Plan come into fruition. Perhaps, if you are lucky, when I go back, I will allow you to live as my servant.” Then, the Delegate started to cross the room to where the Warrior and the Intellect were.

The Void was only half-grown, the Librarian saw. The Reclaimers needed more time.

“You must protect them,” the Didact wheezed. He slowly lifted the rifle he held. His grip was limp, his hand trembled. “He will do whatever it takes to make sure he retrieves the Source.”

The Librarian reluctantly took the weapon. Destroying life --artificial or sentient-- went against her conscience. As a Lifeshaper, she respected all forms of life. Still, she could not allow for the Source to remain.

She stood and faced the Delegate. “Do not move!” she warned.

He paused before he turned around slowly. “I do not fear you, Lifeworker. You, the one who refused to support the destruction of the Flood in its entirety, would terminate the AI that saved your life not once, but twice?”

“I will if I must. The Schism will never be activated again.”

“You are as foolish as you were when you decided to stay on Erde-Tyrene. Put the weapon down and go to the Didact while you are still alive. There will be no place for you when I go through the Schism,” he sneered. Then, he purposefully turned around and strode towards the Inner Chamber.

She fired once as a warning. “The next time, I will not miss.”

“The Reclaimers have a saying that is wiser than most of their drivel: actions speak louder than words. Your threats mean nothing to me.” He pushed his hand on the door control.

The Librarian squeezed the trigger.

She watched as the glowing shot sailed across the room and hit the Delegate in his exposed skull. He exploded into an eruption of sparks. She stood there for several seconds, looking at where the Delegate had stood.

“Beloved.”

She closed her eyes in sorrow at the sound of the Didact’s strained voice. They had never been fond of pet names for each other; the only other time he had used that name was to console her when their children had died.

She dropped the gun and went to his side. He was dying and there was nothing she could do it stop it. She placed a gentle hand on his chest.

“Do not allow the Reclaimers to forget the history of those who came before them.” He coughed and shuddered under her fingers. “Perhaps they will learn from our mistakes and endure where our people stumbled.”

“They will remember,” she promised.

He gripped her arm forcibly. “I have heard whispers. About the Precursors. They are still watching.”

The Librarian frowned at the implication of his words. “You know this?”

There was a long pause before he spoke. “There have been indications. The Ark. Something is there. It has been cut off from...” He trailed off.

“From?”

“Everything. The Intellect. Has been given access to the Builder’s Way. My gift. To the Reclaimers...”

The lights flickered. She looked at the Inner Chamber; the Void was nearly full-grown. It would soon be time for the Source’s destruction.

Her husband tensed and groaned. It pained her to see him suffer in such a way. “What can I do to help?”

“Live.” His breathing was more forced. “I love you, Lifegiver.”

A tear slipped down her cheek. She leaned his forehead against his. “And I love you, Supreme Commander.”

Then, the Didact breathed his last breath.



Chapter 15
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