Background Information: Task Force Bravo has been deployed on an off-the-books mission to Himmelen V to capture the Insurrectionist leader Jensen. Jensen is getting away on a Civilian-Liner. Locke and Drago are providing sniper cover to Bravo. And there seems to be an unknown individual who is trying to help Bravo...
Crestus dragged Zentarious along as they neared the village. Jiralhanae gathered on the edge of the village as the pair neared. A young jiralhanae in ornate attire stepped forward. "State your business stranger," he said warily.
Crestus stepped aside to reveal Zentarious. "Are you the Tra'u'lok tribe?"
The young jiralhanae drew a mauler upon seeing Zentarious bound. "Release my father immediately or die where you stand."
Crestus promptly unmanacled Zentarious. "I deliever your fallen chieftan to you. Do with him as you will."
"Charnious, I have failed the Journey. Please deliever my punishment and take your place as leader of this tribe."
Charnious sheathed his mauler as Zentarious walked forward and bowed before him.
"Father, I will not kill you. If you wish me to succeed you I shall, but I will not kill you."
"You must! Kill me! It is your right of passage and the only way you may be a true leader!"
"Father, those old ways are wasteful and barbaric. They foster lack of trust within the tribe and thus weaken it. A leader must lead without fear of assassination or constant challenge. I will not kill you. The jiralhanae as a people must adapt and evolve. The old ways hold us back. Even if you leave leading responsibilities to me you can still live as a productive member of this tribe."
"No! Kill me. It is the only way."
"We must change father. It might as well start with me."
"You are a disgrace to your name and your ancestors then," with that Zentarious charged his son and grabbed the mauler. The pair wrestled in the dirt.
"Please don't make me do this father!"
"I must!" Zentarious managed to rip the mauler from his son's hand and pointed it at his son.
"Would you kill me? Your only heir?"
"You are not fit to lead Charnious. You are weak. I cannot let my feelings dictate my actions. Good bye my son." A large jiralhane shot Zentarious with a long vicious looking rifle.
"Father!" Charnious shouted as he rushed to Zentarious's side. Zentarious was bleeding out.
"Even now you break our most sacred of traditions?"
The jiralhanae who had shot Zentarious walked up behind Charnious and looked down at Zentarious. "You proved yourself unworthy the moment you were captured and delivered by your captor. I serve the new Chief. The old ways will lead to our destruction. Chieftan Charnious will lead our tribe and our species into a new age. Your time is at an end Zentarious. Make peace with that."
The tribe's doctor rushed to the scene and after a brief examination shook his head. "I cannot save him my Chief."
Zentarous tried to speak. Charnious placed his ear by his father's mouth. "Damn you Charnious," he whispered. "Damn you and all who follow you to a thousand hells." Zentarious's last breath left his body and he was still.
"Did he say anything important?" the body guard asked.
"No. My father's ways and words are a relic of the past. We must look towards the future. We will bury him with full funeral rites. Where is the stranger?"
Crestus had disappeared.
Satisfied that Zentarious was taken care of Crestus slipped away under active camouflage.
(I'd make a seen about what Kai is going through now but sadly I don't know much about what happens on Eayn after the war, other then many Kig-yar returning to plundering each others ships followed by many many many Kig-yar being taken by sangheili to help protect sangheilios from the last of the brutes who are following truths kill order.)
Croft? We're going to need air support! There's an Innie spacecraft headed your way! (off COM, sighing) This isn't how I pictured my first mission... Cooped up in a Pelican, acting as Bravo's handler...
Bristow enters the ship, only to immediately be tackled by an Innie, who apparently was next to the airlock. The two struggle a bit, but eventually Bristow manages to unsheath his Bowie knife and he stabs the Innie in his throat.
Bristow: And stay down, you prick.
He stands up again, and moves through the dark hallways of the ship. There is no resistance.
On the nearby hillside, DAB sees Bravo departing, and lifts his Beam Rifle from the rock he'd been resting it on. He saluted them, unsure if they could see him or even if they knew we was alive. Then, he turned to walk back to the Silent but Deadly.
Meanwhile, at the New Hope Parliamentary Building...
You've checked the hall for bugs?
Triple checked, sir. We found a couple, but they're gone.
Good. Thank you, you may leave.
As the guards leave the hall, Aaron walks up to the podium, to address his government.
It has recently come to my attention that there is an ONI informant among our government.
There is a burst of chatter among the government officials.
Relax! He isn't here today. He's called in sick. The informant is Alex Smith. Yes, surprising, I know.
What are we going to do? Capture and interrogate him?
No, we cannot let ONI know we are on to them. Therefore, we will continue acting as normal, and he will remain in the government. However, what I am about to tell you all is completely confidential. He cannot be allowed to know.
Many of you will have heard the rumours of a strange armoured person walking into the center of New Utgard. I can confirm, these rumours are true, and that the person was none other than the SPARTAN DAB-101.
Has he returned for good?
No, I'm afraid he's already departed. He came to call in a favour. Seeing that New Hope and FaSUM wouldn't exist without him, and that even if they had, both would have been destroyed by Shim's idiocy without him, I could hardly refuse. He took a Stalker-class stealth vessel named Silent but Deadly, and requested that we ensure that ONI believes he is still here.
But that'll put New Hope at risk!
I am well aware of the risks... But I'm not about to let him down, and nor should any of you be.
Meanwhile, on board the UNSC Port Stanley...
Osman is having a video communication with none other than Admiral Parangosky.
Of our two informants in New Hope, one has been out of contact for some time, and our other is currently ill, but is reporting that rumour is DAB's still in the city. I'm currently having a fleet of prowlers amassed, led by the UNSC Aladdin to attack the planet, and force them to hand him over...
"'Thral, all I need is a little information about some stolen huragok. And weapons prototypes."
"I want to help you Commander Vlassam, but as you know my services come at a price. I don't deal in C.B.U.s anymore. But for old times sake and the reputation of your credit I will tell you that a kig-yar ship mistress named Kre'sheck Thrawnro was in the market for huragok up until recently.
As for the stolen weapons that information will cost you. I'm sorry Vlassam, but I have to make a living."
"I understand 'Thral. Thank you for the tip. I hope to employ you again in the future."
"Anything for my best client."
Phillipae closed the transmission. Getting the Black Seraphs back on their feet was proving more difficult than he had at first imagined. All Black Seraph vessels except the Zealous Fury were missing and the majority of agents were either stranded, undercover, or dead. To make matters worse, Phillipae's veritable fortune in Covenant currency was now worthless everywhere except core sangheili worlds.
Phillipae sat back looked up at the ceiling and sighed. He closed his eyes and drifted off. He had been awake for at least twenty-seven Earth hours and they had taken their toll.
His dreams were no less unsettling than they had been since last he slept.
"It would seem you learned a thing or two about strategy in your absence Taybab. This is the first time you've ever beaten me."
"Does Nolia still live near the geysers?"
"Unfortunately Taybab, she died last winter. Her dwelling was not warm enough and she froze."
"Nolia is dead?"
"Yes. I'm sorry. I know you felt affection for her."
"I would have asked her to be my mate."
"Just your only mate? Have you let sangheili custom rub off on you?"
"Marriage, as they call it, seems more special and sacred. It also stops other males from mating with the one you love."
"This coming from an atheist," Zayvey chuckled as he poured himself another cup of tea and emptied the pot. He went outside for a moment to fill the pot with snow for another brew and returned. He stoked the fire for a moment and set down again. Taybab had already reset the chess board.
"I've seen things Zayvey. Terrible things. I've done even worse. What do you believe happens to us when we die?"
"Ah, the question that philosphers, theologians, and scientists of all species have tried and failed to answer. Truth be told, I do not know. I simply live a good life and do the best I can with what I have. What more could any deity ask of me? If there is nothing after death I will not know and if there is I trust I will be dealt with fairly."
"You're agnostic then?"
"If you feel the need to label it then I guess so. I never gave much thought to it. I can never no for sure until I die and as I am in no hurry to die I avoid thinking about it. What ever you have done Taybab, I am sure you have done it for the greater good."
"I hope so. You know Zayvey, it occurs to me that my kind usually dies off. Brave unggoy typically do not live long enough to reproduce. That is why our race is dominated by cowards. Because they survive. But they usually do so under subjegation. What does that say about our people?"
"It means that natural selection and circumstance favored the cowards because unggoy are the weakest of species in the physical and often the spiritual sense. We act for the sake of self preservation and rarely for anything else. Sure there are zealots who charge into enemy fire with grenades in their hands, but they kill themselves off in the process and thus are uncommon. It is because of our environment Taybab. Were it not for being so powerless in the face of the Covenant we would likely be a much prouder people."
"I have always hated what we are seen as. I have strived to contradict the stereotypes."
"In both excel and are unique."
"I will want to say hello to those in the village."
"You can do that after playing one more game with me right?"
Mean while somewhere on Eyan among the mannor of the mother of Kai
His mothers mother is hear with him at the table, numbers of dinner with family so far, lost count. She is happy to see him after all these years. She asked him: "Hey when you where serving the covenant military, who did you spend more time under the command of, apes or alligators?"
Kai: "Uh, what?"
His mothers mother: "You know, apes or alligators, we all know of how centers after the sanshyuum have made a covenant with the sangheili, they then play the harlot with those huge hammer swinging bullies. Where you more often under the command of apes, or alligators?"
Kai: "I did not keep record, but the sangheili, they seemed as if people who watched years of marshall art movies while taking drugs, and in the name of honor would slap and spit on someone for the horrid crime of not being born a sangheili, jarilhanae how ever, I don't have to make it up, in their culture if you don't bring up a child in abuse and yet have them respect you into adulthood your a bad parent, no really, one actually told me that, see my quills don't revel me a lire."
his mothers mother: "Brutes hate everyone, but why do the elites hate the Kig-yar? I want to know incase I turn to dust before desert" she says completely joking "why? why do they hate us?"
Kai: " Jul it was the covenant, if I walked up to a sangheili and asked why they hate us it would have simply killed me for heretic curiosity, at least I wasn't hated by the last ones I ever been with. Hey can anyone tell me when the seraphs are coming back? I mean, travel a few billion light years hear and for me and not knowing I am on another super continent, that would be, unfair."
(Their are many things I can't control, the biggest 2 being mortality, and my memory, I tried talking to death him self about the easier one, but he only said "its not my job to decide how much time you have, its my job to bring you home when its time." and I said "home? what do you mean by." and then he hung up on me, as if he had better things to do then talk to me. Does he have any idea who I am? how disrespectful.)
"I hope you don't mind me calling to say hi, its night, the light from Chu'ot is making it hard to sleep, I'd put a certain over the window but its just, so beautiful. You finding peace in what's left of the galaxy?"
Phillipae watched as he flew out on his phantom. The bomb was in place. No one would reach it in time. When his phantom was outside the blast zone he watched as an indescribable explosion of thermal and luminal energy engulfed the city turning it into little more than slightly radioactive dust.
In the space of five seconds, an entire city of civilians had been obliterated. Were they innocent? This world had declared cessesion secedation from the Covenant. Their resources had been aiding anti-Covenant forces. They were heretics, worthy of neither pity nor mercy. But did there really need to be all this blood shed?
Phillipae watched somberly. A couple hours later he landed at ground zero with the rest of his team to inspect the damage. He came across a black outline of a number of people. From the imprint Phillipae judged that they had been sangheili who were blasted against this crumbling concrete wall.
As they worked there way out Phillipae found a child's doll that had miraculously survived the explosion. Phillipae knelt on one knee examining it. It was heavily singed and had only survived because it had been buried in the ash of what Phillipae presumed had been the owner. He saw the happy childling that must have been playing with it only a few hours previous. Because of his actions, that childing would never do anything more than play with her doll.
Phillipae got up and ran for the phantom. He had seen enough. He needed to get out of here. The kill was completely confirmed and the spirits of the dead were still here tormenting their murderer. Phillipae ran and ran, but the phantom seemed to get farther and farther away with each step.
The screams of eight million extinguished lives filled his ears and head. He collapsed on the ground screaming.
Phillipae woke up panting hard. He looked at his terminal. Kai had left him a message. He fell back on his bunk and listened as his hearts slowly came back down to a resting heart beat. Parangosky had done many a comparable thing. Maybe not on such a scale as nuking a city and even if she had he doubted she had walked where her victims had. She took the easy way out and seperated herself from the task that needed to be done.
If a train could only be stopped by killing someone and you could either push the person in the way of the train or pull a lever Parangosky would pull the lever. Phillipae had already pushed the man himself. He knew on a much more personal level the consequences of his actions however necessary they might have been at the time.
Parangosky had been and still was the bane of his existence during the Human-Covenant war just as both their predecessors had been nemeses even if they did not learn of their identities for the majority of their time serving.
How could one feeble human female be so dangerous? Was she haunted at night by the things she'd done?
It hardly mattered. She acted in what she believed to be the best interests of humanity and her opinion on her species best interests included the extermination of his race. He could not let that happen. And despite the bonds he had forged with humans over the past year, if it came down to picking between his species and theirs', he knew who he would choose.
He pushed the thought away. Having contingency plans was good, but not when they blinded one's present judgment.
Phillipae got up and began running around the corridors to get some exercise.
(((joking) (( 24 years earlier Parangosky finds her self surrounded by 7 sangheili looking at her smiling menacingly, 1 holds a camera while the other 6 take turns giving her weggies. Parangosky "I swear one day revenge on your entire race for this!"))))
Croft: Exemplary work, Bravo. Now that we've decapitated the organization, moving supplies to and from the colony should go smoothly. Unfortuantely, you won't be getting any medals for this one. But I offer you my thanks.
Gardener: And mine too. You have absoultely no idea how much this means. What you did, what you've done, who you stopped, how you did it. Man, I wish I had you guys on Charlie.
(Unfortunately, Locke should get going now. In the Halo: Nightfall second story "Seed of Honor", which happens in February 2555, Ramos says "We're sixteen missions in and the man is still a mystery to me".)
(I hate posting after myself, but I guess this is an exception. Let's try Thel's style.)
A group of Pelicans carrying crates of rations and other supplies take off from the hangar, dropping down to the impoverished planet below. Members of the ship's crew cart various boxes around on trolleys, while the rest are prepping the Sword's last Albatross, Survivor. Survivor is the final reminant of the Sword's military missions and operations. It served first in Daego, then in New Jerusalem where it was hit by an unbelievable fifty-two heavy plasma shots. Later, it transported troops to Shanghai, the Carribean, and the Rhine, becoming the last of its kind. The crew of Survivor have changed faces more often than the troops they ferried, but the craft was always the same.
On the port side of the ancient wonder was the hangar-crew's primary coordinator, James Property. A rather grumpy, unlikeable man, Property grunted more often than he answered, and ignored more often than he listened. He was known for being strict and thorough, some said he could spot a petrol spill from five knots out, and a slacking janitor from eleven. He once was a Major, head officer of the crew, the highest rank in the hangar's grey-clad staff. But in 2550, he was demoted by a dumb AI with a sense of humor. Private Property was, from then on, always referred to by his rank and name, both as a means of revenge from his crew and a way to lighten the mood during the war. Property hated it.
"Hey, Private Property!", Hadhoud called in a mocking voice one day, "We need to see your deed to the land, 'cause this hangar ain't yours!" "Yeah", Scampi quickly agreed, "Otherwise you're officially evicted!"
Now they were all gone, most of them anyway. And Property was just as bitter as ever. Even after the war, he still found something to moan about. Whether it was his name, his position, or his life.
(I am retconning what I have said about Covenant currency. I realize that even after the fall of the Covenant it would make sense for sangheili, jiralhanae and the rest to continue dealing in the same currency they had been even if it has a reduction in value and no one is around to moderate it.)
(Hey guys. I am sorry about my inactiveness but I have had alot on my plate between standardized tests and work. For now on you guys can use any of my characters as you please while I am gone until I return, which for now may be a while.)
Nicholas wakes up. The plasma pistol lays at the foot of his bed. He gets out of bed and gets ready in the regular military fashion. He then checks his mailbox (he is on a spaceship). In his mailbox contains an envelope.
Curious, he opens it. Nicholas starts reading it but stops at the third sentence. He grabs a chair, sits down and takes a deep breath.
Nicholas "I was always told I would leave the military in a wooden box. Apparently budget cuts are just as deadly."
He reads the rest of the paper and gets on a civilian cruise liner as soon as he can. His plans are to tour the galaxy.
Crestus entered a pub and sat down. He ordered a mug of ale and gulped it down with relish. Doisac had not changed much since his last visit. It was still charmingly primitive despite the majority of jiralhanae being space capable.
"What do you mean he is unavailable!?" Phillipae shouted at the holo screen.
"I mean that the Arbiter cannot speak with you."
"Do you know who I am Minor!? I am Commander of the Black Seraph division of Covenant intelligence. I have collaborated with 'Vadam before. He knows me. I must speak with him and you are not going to get in the way of that."
"I am sorry Commander, but the Arbiter has his own problems to deal with."
"I'm sure he will be pleased to hear that one of his underlings offended one of his best possible allies in this time of uncertainty."
"I will inform him of your call. You will simply have to wait patiently Commander. The Arbiter is trying to contain multiple uprisings and he has numerous angry shipmasters vying for his position and power. He does not have the time to spare on whatever it is you wish to speak with him about."
"Let him be the judge of that."
"'Vadam keep out." The screen went dark and disappeared.
"Blarg blarg blarg!" Phillipae shouted
<Commander, we have finished disecting the infiltrator.>
"Bring it up Balance. Show me what you found."
The huragok returned to Phillipae's quarters with the quarantine computer in hand.
<It is a human ancillia fragment. A very powerful one. It tried to commit suicide multiple times during the disection process. It is registered to the UNSC's Office of Naval Intelligence. It seems to be a new tool as we have not encountered a version of infiltration ancillia this virulent. It behaved as a virus. Its purpose we surmise is to decimate and enemy's ability to engage in cyber warfare while being capable of being selective.>
"Can you reverse engineer it?"
<Certainly. It would be easier in the skunkworks, but we can easily create schematics for use when we are capable of produceing ancillia.>
"I am still in the process of reconnecting the Black Seraph Division. When High Chairity was infected we lost a lot of cohesion. Please continue with your work huragok. We are paying a visit to Sangheilios."
(I have an idea for our next mission. The UNSC would receive a distress call saying that the ship carrying the last Casket (the one we found on the Ark) was attacked by an unknown Covenant faction that eventually acquired the Casket. Then we would pick up a signal coming from an unknown planet. Suspecting the signal was coming from the Casket, Bravo and the other Task Forces would be sent to investigate, only to find that it was a trap.)
(It ought to be around early May 2553. We'll say it was kept secret because of the sensitive nature of the Caskets, and so nobody knew the ceasefire had been broken. Do you want to do the briefing or shall I?)
The Zealous Fury exited slipspace in the Urs system. It took a few hours to reach Sangheilios' orbit.
Phillipae acquired the necessary permissions for a landing and took the phantom planet side. He was in his combat harness again. Phillipae briefly wondered at how humans had both combat and dress uniforms as well as something called fatigues. In the Covenant you were either in uniform or not and since the uniform was the armor itself it made things nice and simple if a bit uncomfortable at times.
Phillipae exited the port and flagged down a taxi. It was an antique ground car that sat upon physical wheels instead of anti-grav drives. He paid for the necessary fair to reach 'Vadam keep and spent another two hours getting through 'Vadam security.
Once inside he worked his way towards the conference chamber. He was stopped by the two guards who stood on either side of the entrance.
"They are in session warrior. You may not enter until they conclude."
"How long will that take?" Phillipae asked annoyed by his already compounded list of delays.
"Half a unit at best. One and a half at worst as they will take a brief recess even if they aren't finished."
"I need to see the Arbiter and all this bureaucracy is heavily hindering my efforts. I will not tolerate further delay."
One of the guards cocked his head to one side. "And what makes you so special warrior?"
Phillipae stared at the guard like he was an idiot. "Look at what I am wearing. Do you see my insignia?" he gestured to the holo symbols on his chest and shoulder indicating his rank.
"What is that supposed to mean?"
"As you can clearly see, I outrank you by a lifetime and the expectency of yours is shortening by the microt."
The guards assumed a defensive posture. "Sit down and wait or leave. Do not threaten us or the councilors or you shall die where you stand!"
Phillipae rolled his eyes and retreated back down the hall. An hour later the councilors exited the chamber. Phillipae spotted the Arbiter in an instant. Thel 'Vadam was dressed in simple robes.
"Commander 'Vlassam? What are you doing here?"
"I came to meet with you Arbiter. The bureaucracy in 'Vadam state has really slowed things down recently. I recommend you speed things up a bit. Few have shown me the respect due my station and rank."
"I will see to it that you are not treated this way again Commander. I value your services highly and any words you have to say should get to my ears as quckly as they leave your lips."
The Arbiter lead Phillipae into his study. The study was lined with book cases and an armor case which contained a set of the silver symbolic armor worn by Arbiters of old. On the wall opposite to the armor case was an ignited energy sword. It had a wide blade and was of an orangish tint instead of the blue and purple of traditional T-1s. A plaque below it read Prophet's Bane. In the center of the study sat a black wood desk with a computer terminal sitting upon it.
The Arbiter gestured for Phillipae to sat and then sat himself.
"I was unaware that you and your people had survived the Great Schism."
"If you didn't know we were active then my people must be doing their jobs."
"Indeed. Am I right to suppose that this is more than a social call?"
"Yes Arbiter. Firstly, I want to declare my loyalty to you and your cause. The Black Seraph Division is an ally of the Swords of Sangheilios."
"It will be good to have you with us Commander. Any intelligence you can provide in the coming days will be invaluable."
"The Office of Naval Intelligence has plans to work against all sangheili. They do not descriminate between your forces and those of the Covenant remnants or other rogue factions."
"I am aware of this Commander, but as you are aware I am trying to install a formal peace treaty and hopefully from their prosperous relations with the UEG. The spies do not represent their entire race."
"And yet they wield the most power. I intend to take action to safeguard our home and our cause."
"History has shown that the BSD works best when left to its own devices, however, I do not want you to cause an international incident."
"There are other matters to discuss and of course we must establish an official and permanent office for your Devision in 'Vadam State."
(And now Sasuun is the only member of Bravo that isn't an ODST.)
May 10, 2553
UNSC Look Out Below, Earth orbit
The members of Bravo are being briefed by an officer.
Officer: Just yesterday, that Forerunner weapon you found on the Ark--the Casket--was being moved to an ONI facility on Oban. However, the ship carrying it was attacked by... Covenant ships.
Hartley: The treaty has been broken?
Officer: The Arbiter and his forces aren't responsible for this. We suspect the attack was made by a rogue Covenant faction who still opposes humanity.
He grabs a data pad.
Officer: Either way, the Casket was taken. Six hours ago, a prowler picked up a signal coming from a yet-to-be-colonised tropical planet in Oban's system called Ascoria. We want you, and the other Task Forces, to investigate that signal, and see if it's coming from the Casket. As the Sword of Giants is off doing freighter jobs now, you will be deployed from the recently-commissioned Autumn-class heavy cruiser UNSC Look Out Below.
Rick: More like Space Zombies than a separate species. By the way, has anyone watched the new movie which was released 2 weeks earlier? I heard it's setting is in the 21st century. It'd be cool to see the technology of that time. All the Naval personnel are talking about it.
Bristow's pod lands on the top of a little hill. Bristow pulls the lever, and the hatch of the pod shoots off. Bristow clicks his M7S and SOCOM out of the pod, and holsters them. He grabs his M45E in his right hand and hops out of the pod.
The Arbiter was leading Phillipae down deep beneath 'Vadam Keep. "These catacombs have been used for centuries for burial, storage, and in the days before the Covenant by sangheili scientists who worked in secret to decipher the gifts of the Forerunners.
I believe that they will make a nice base of operations for you. Unfortunately, I can offer no resources beyond that space."
"Thank you Arbiter. I will put what ever you give me to good use. What is your first order?"
"Maintain The Sword's security. Find any way possible to disrupt our enemys' operations. Do not start any new wars. We are too weak for that."
"I understand. Might I be allowed to select new agents from your best?"
"I will give you my recommendations."
"I am still working on recovering my network. We nearly lost everything in the Schism."
"Indeed. Phillipae, I know your value. It is good to have you with us."
"I live to serve the good of our people Arbiter. You must be the face of our people. I have been and always shall be the blade in the dark."
The Arbiter chuckled. "Many an Arbiter has completed tasks that your warriors might have been assigned to. The difference is that Arbiter's have historically been expendible."
The pair made their way to the surface.
"I understand the difficulties we face with the humans. They are just as divided as we are. I believe that Hood has goodwill, but so many other groups would like to destroy us once and for all."
"I respect Hood. He treated my warriors and I fairly when it might have been easier on him to just execute us."
"This war has taught me many things not the least of which is the realization that humans and sangheili are not so different. None of us are. Even the Forerunners were fallible."
"Indeed. Arbiter, may I ask you a personal question?"
The Arbiter nodded.
"What do you believe?"
"About what exactly Commander?"
"Do you believe that there are gods? What were the Forerunners? Is there any meaning to our existence?"
"I do not believe the Forerunners were ever gods, but I prefer to not advertise that fact. I do not know the answers to those questions Vlassam. I have been searching for answers myself. At the moment, I am content to be the Arbiter. My purpose is to ensure the safety and prosperity of our people. That is my purpose in life now."
"I will begin converting the space you have given me into a permant head quarters as soon as possible."
"Good. Sangheilios is not strong but if we can all become united as one nothing will be able to threaten our home again. Remember that Commander. Unity is what we strive for."
(You know in the halo universe, I have discovered the meaning of life. Take my advice, don't look for it, you will only be disappointed. Just enjoy it and live a good life, and don't worry about anything else.)