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LORC: Beginnings Act 2 Pt 1 and 2
Posted By: HWPD<Disaster.nick@gmail.com>
Date: 30 May 2016, 8:52 pm

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Act II

Part 1
Installation 04

Twenty-Fourth Solar Cycle, 172 Cycles: 9th Age of Reclamation [September 20, 2552: 2209hrs]
DX-Class dropship Cicada-227
SpecOps Science Major Naki 'Cimutee

The Spirit arced down to the surface of the ring. In the minutes following their arrival to the fleet, Naki had been practically jumping with excitement. A Halo was one of the most holy objects the Covenant had ever spoke of, not even mentioning the technological value in such a discovery.

Unfortunately her excitement had been cut short. "I can't believe that San 'Shyuum barred me from going down to the surface." Naki growled. "He just wants his teams to get all the credit for any discoveries."

"Well I can see that hasn't stopped you." Alea said. "How did you get us clearance to leave?"

"I went over his head, while the Prophet of Stewardship declared this a religious matter, the Supreme Commander wasn't so happy relinquishing command of his assets." Naki let out a small smirk.

"So we're disobeying the orders of a Minor Hierarch, but following the orders of the Supreme Commander?" Ryau asked from his spot along the wall of the dropship, obviously worried that this may somehow bring his secret to light to the wrong people. As far as Naki knew, Ryau had been a good warrior for the Covenant in his new life.

"In a way, yes. I heard that they weren't able to make contact with High Charity, so there is no proper chain of command." Naki said. "I took advantage of that."

Ryau stepped out and pulled Naki aside. "You do remember what happens here, right?" Ryau said in a hushed tone, just barely audible over the sound of the engines.

She glanced over to Alea, who was walking towards the other prong of the dropship. Probably to check on the supplies. "Yes, that is why I deliberately asked the Supreme Commander not to place me on the control room search teams... if they sent me, the Covenant may actually activate the ring..." She sighed. "I'm too good at my job."

"Well, where did you have him send us then?" Ryau asked.

"We're going to an island down spin from where that Prophet's teams located the Silent Cartographer. I'm going to see what we can get out of this ring before, you know what, happens." Naki nodded and stepped away.

"We just need to-" Ryau was, as usual, interrupted by an announcement.

"Science Major, we have received a message from the landing zone. As you requested, SpecOps Major 'Valhamee is already on site and secured the area."The pilot announced.

"You had Sig go secure the island?" Ryau asked. "I thought you went in on the first run?"

Naki sighed, "I needed to get Sig off the ship, with D`rok's wedding disaster and how he seems to worry too much about K`an, Sig needs something to take his mind off all that."

"So you do care." Ryau chuckled.

"Yes, and it's good to know that you do as well. Considering your predicament."

Ryau sighed, "Well ever since... this...happened." Ryau gestured down to his body. "I've felt...different. Mentally, like I've lost some of my training." He looked back towards the door to the prong, to be sure that no one was listening. "It might just be that we're back together, but it's just something I've noticed."

Naki looked down at the Device on Ryau's wrist, she had been worried that her assistant had ignored her and followed the Prophet of Truth's orders. He wanted her to use the Imprint function on the subject to make them more cooperative, but once she realized it was Nick, she called that part off. However, her assistant must have gone around her back. "Well... perhaps you have."

Ryau gave her a look, like he knew she wasn't being entirely open about the project. He was about to say something, but stopped. He shook his head, clearing whatever thought out of his mind. "Well… At least we can actually be together now."

"Yes... It will just be me, you, and Alea for a few cycles." Naki joked.

Ryau just shrugged slightly. "But you two will be mostly busy with the technology and things."

Naki nodded slightly. "Well, if you are not enjoying my company then I can always stick you with Sig on some patrols." She gave a sight, teasing grin, knowing full well how he tried to avoid being alone with Sig.

Ryau groaned. "Please don't... I like Sig, but I do not want to be impaled by his length… as K`an would say."

Naki had to giggle at that, "You're even starting to sound like a genuine Sangheili."

"Well, no thanks to you," Ryau smiled back. The conversation went quiet as the two thought on what they once had.

"Ryau..." Naki spoke softly with a sigh as she crossed her arms and looked down slightly. She really didn't want to bring it up now, but she was sure that they were both thinking the same thing. With another sigh, she decided to go for it. "I know we had something special back then... but it was a long time ago." She sighed very softly as she looked up at him. "I do not know if we still would have that fire. So much has changed."

"I understand, but what's to stop us from trying again?" Ryau asked as he tilted his head slightly.

"It is because we are different now..." She looked over her shoulder to see if Alea was still gone. "I am different now..." She looked down once again and tightened her arms in front of her.  

Nick had been her life once, and at a sudden moment it had all been taken away. For years she had yearned for her to find him, but she had grown older, and found others that filled the hole she had. But relationships that never held, failed proposals, and deaths of the ones she cared about, kept it open. When she had found Nick on that planet, it was like he was back from the dead, now that he was standing before her, she didn't know how to handle herself. She wanted him; she was single and so was he. Despite whatever arbitrary policies the Prophet of Truth had placed on the aftermath of the Project. Ryau was hard to resist. She would admit that he appeared far more attractive than he was long ago, whether that be because of her different perspective on her past, or some other reason.

"Naki..." Ryau's hands tenderly gripped her shoulders. "I don't mind you know."

"Still..." She looked up unable to put her feelings to words.

"Oh, quiet..." He spoke soothingly. "I want to make us work again."

"But I am far from who I was..." Naki looked back on her past  "I no longer have the hair or the body you loved..."

"You have nice hips..." He smiled a bit stupidly, causing her to blush slightly.

"That is quite flattering, Ryau, but we can not base a relationship on..." Naki was about protest against her own hips until Ryau did something she did not expect.

Ryau suddenly took their moment of privacy and leaned into her, kissing her deeply on the mouth. This was bold for Ryau, even as a warrior and with his hardening from his training. While it seemed like he didn't know how to properly kiss as a Sangheili, it was only the catalyst he knew he needed.  Naki's internal defenses instantly melted from such an unexpected act, "To hell with procedure."

As Naki was pulled against Ryau's armor, she silently guided Ryau's face into the correct position for a kiss. Things continued down the swiftly tilting slope as she inturn pressed herself against him. The kiss elevated slightly as her mandibles spread his so they would be interlocked. She wanted this, she had thought about this ever since she had seen D`rok and M`riana begin going through their early bonding before their marriage. She realized, as she deepened the kiss as she embraced his neck with her grasp, she would have what she wanted by the end of the war.

"Excuse me!" Alea interrupted the two from the door of the prong.

"What is it Alea?" Ryau pulled away and asked her quite sternly.

"Nothing..." She answered, clearly questioning even speaking up.

"Then silence yourself." Ryau said, appearing even more out of character.

"Uh… very well... I did not realize I was interrupting something." She turned quickly and returned to the other prong.

"Now... Where was I?" Ryau looked back to Naki with a grin before leaning back in for another kiss.

Roughly half an hour later, the Spirit circled the island and began to settle in front of a building with a red glyph. Naki glanced over to Ryau with a slight smile, now that they were leaving the dropship, they had to be all business once again, and unfortunately they needed to continue to hide their feelings for one another until the war reached its conclusion. For if information made its way back to the Prophet of Truth, they would have a big problem.

The hatches dropped open and Naki dropped down onto the ancient metal platform. The Spirit fit the U-shaped opening almost as if it was made for it. Sig approached, being flanked by part of the Unggoy detachment that went down with him, "Hello, Naki." Sig smiled as he reported in.  "I have explored the majority of the surface of the island with my Lance and have deemed it to be safe, as you requested." He beamed at a job well done. 

"Thank you, Sig." Naki said. "Have you seen any ways into the deeper structure below?"

"Negative.  We were told not to venture below the first level of the facility as per previous orders.  I know things changed when you took over but there was no change to that standing order." He stopped in thought. "We did not want to upset you so I decided to follow the original orders."

"Okay, we'll get started right away. I want you to divide your Unggoy into three teams and send them over to the other structure, Alea will lead them there. You, Ryau and I will take your Kig-Yar down into this one, understand?" Naki looked towards the ocean, there was a sound rising in the distance.

"Yes. Yes of course." He turned with his finger to his ear so he could begin to give orders to his Lance only to turn back after a moment, hearing what Naki had noticed. "Do you hear that?"

Suddenly, four Human dropships appeared off shore behind one of the massive sea stacks. Their nose guns opened fire, sending bullets across the landing zone. Naki dove behind the Spirit for cover, as a spray of bullets struck where she had been standing moments before. The dropships continued on, heading for their real target further up the ring.

"Naki, are you okay?" Ryau asked from where he had taken cover.

"Yes, Ryau I'm alright." She glanced around, it appeared that no one had taken fire. "Change of plan, Sig. I want all your forces on patrol up here. I don't want any Humans interfering with us down in the installation below." Naki peeked out behind the dropship.

"Consider it done!" Sig stood before giving the appropriate orders to his troops.

"Alea, Ryau, let's head inside." Naki reached back into the Spirit and grabbed her field pack and data-pad from the floor. She pointed to a trio of Unggoy. "You three, take the cart and start delivering the cargo crates into the structure."

They nodded and went to work, the Unggoy each pulled a small hovercart out of the Spirit. The cart split in half and clamped around the cargo pod, lifting it off the ground. Naki led her group into the structure embedded in the cliff.

Naki looked up at the roof, the ceiling went up, high. It appeared that all of the superstructure above this room was empty space, the overall size was just for architectural expression. Ahead of her sat a door, and on either side of the chamber, green walls of some sort of energy pulsed.

"Are these teleporters?" Alea asked, approaching one of the green energy walls.

"I would presume so." Naki replied. "Once we are fully set up, we'll send a probe through, see where they lead."

"So what will I be doing here?" Ryau asked.

"You are our security detail." Naki winked. "I would rather have you, than a team of Unggoy to clog the halls. Let's see what lies beneath the surface, shall we?"

Naki approached the doors on the far end of the structure, they parted to reveal a long ramp down into the bowels of the ring. She placed her hand to her ear and contacted Sig. "I'll need two of your Kig-Yar as well."

"Of course, Naki." He confirmed before ordering two of his minor scouts to join her side.

The first batch of crates arrived from the Spirit, and Naki had the Unggoy drop them off in one of the open alcoves. She pulled off one of the lids and removed a set of lights just as the Kig-Yar entered. She handed each of them a cluster of adhesive lights and pointed up towards the ceiling. "I need you two to set these up near the top, at two unit intervals. When you finish this room, follow us down into the installation with lights every eight units."

The two Kig-Yar nodded and went to work, they would use the varying support struts and decorative carvings to climb up to where they needed to work. Kig-Yar scouts were good climbers, there was a reason they were always in hard to reach areas.

"And down we go." Naki said, heading down the ramp. The ramp turned and deposited them into a small narrow room, The walls glimmered in gold and black plating, small blue status lights blinked behind small openings, signifying steady operations. Naki smiled, she always appreciated Forerunner ascetic.

Alea stepped towards a wall and ran her fingers across the golden surface. "Even in such a small space, the Gods' always have such magnificently simple style that brings out beauty." 

Naki nodded. "Yes… it's always calming in their spaces." She glanced up the ramp and radioed to the Unggoy. "I need one of the Uplink crates placed here. The spot will be marked by a light stick." Naki pulled a stick out of her pack and tossed it on the ground, the stick lit up a bright blue and rolled against the wall. 

She walked into the main room, it was some sort of observation area for a large device. The upper level was empty from what she could tell, either it had been cleared out millennia ago, or the tools were hidden by some other Forerunner technology. The device in question was just sitting in the middle of the room. Electricity arced from one plate to another, and occasionally struck one of the nearby support pillars. 

"Stay clear of that. We don't know what that is." Naki said. "Do not want either of you getting electrocuted." She trusted Ryau, but it was Alea, Naki was worried about. Alea was far from her best student, and the only reason Naki approved her graduation was to get her away from the life she once had. 

As Naki had learned, Alea 'Vinika came from a small state east of Zelso called Vanik. It as a poor and conservative state in a region that was traditionally wealthy. If Alea failed Naki's course, she would return to her state a failure. Naki could not allow that. Alea didn't excel anywhere, and unfortunately, even at the end of two solar cycles, was unable to pass the Forerunner language exam. Naki passed her anyway, and wrote a transcription program for Alea's ACI. 

Grateful for Naki's help, Alea graduated and went to work in the field. The next time Naki heard from her, was nearly four solar cycles later on a report about a failed experiment. Alea had uncovered a Forerunner installation on a Sangheili fringe colony, which turned out to be a weather control station. Naki assumed Alea had hoped to use her discovery to prove that she was worth her rank. Only when she activated the system, she had failed to stabilize a weather system and instead caused a series of vortexes that wiped out a series of farms and destroyed the ship of the attending San 'Shyuum adviser. Thankfully, one of Alea's assistants managed to shut the system down before they struck the city-state.

Naki shook the memory from her mind and looked back to the unknown device. "We will save that thing for last."

"Understood, ma'am," Alea acknowledged.

Naki walked through the rest of the room, setting lightsticks in places where she the Unggoy to set crates up. Another doorway led out onto a balcony overlooking what seemed to be a bottomless shaft. 

"Long way down…" Ryau peeked his head over the edge.

"Indeed it is, I don't see any way to the bottom...if there is a bottom" Naki said, glancing at the sides. The depths of the shaft were shrouded in a dense fog, hiding whatever lay below. "Perhaps there is a lift beyond that other door." They walked back into the main room and approached the door on the far side. The glyph on the door flashed green and opened. Beyond was another series of ramps that continued downwards. 

"Well, it's not a lift," Ryau said. "I'll take the lead," Ryau moved ahead of the group and began down. 

Alea quickly ran her hand over her armor's pockets and pack, before heading back towards the exit. "Sorry, Naki. I left my data-pad in the Spirit. I will meet you after you've gone deeper." 

"Okay, do hurry though." Naki waved her off. "Let's go, Ryau." 

Alea up the exit ramp as Ryau and Naki started down into the deep unknown of the Forerunner structure. Suddenly there was a deep warning tone and the door behind them slid shut. "What the hell?" Naki muttered. She approached the door and waited for it to part, only it remained closed. The green glyph had turned red. 

Ryau had his Needle Rifle up and was watching down the ramp. "What just happened?" He asked. 

"We just got locked in…" Naki hit the door with her palm. She switched on her radio. "Sig! What happened up there? I think the security system was activated." 

"I am not entirely sure... but I am hearing reports that the Humans are attacking the teams on the other island." Sig paused for a moment. "Why, what happened down there?"

"Of course it would be the Humans.." Naki mumbled. "The door locked behind us, Ryau and I are stuck in a ramp room."    

"Is there anything we can do to get you out?" Sig asked.

"Alea may be able to get through the doorway. The security may not be too hard." Naki said. "If there was a terminal on this side, I would do it myself."                 

"Alright, Naki. I shall send her your way as soon as she gets her…" He paused as he sighed annoyingly. "Data pad…" He could be heard telling Alea to head back down quick as she was needed. "Seriously. How in the Gods do you forget that?" Sig then turned his comms off.

"Okay well.. Alea is on it." Naki sighed and hoped that the security lockdown would be lifted by some other way.

"What do we do?" Ryau placed the Needle rifle on to his back. 

"We wait." Naki said.

"Since we have some time…" Ryau spoke affectionately, and slowly stepped up to Naki only to turn around as he pointed pointed to one of the maintenance ports on his shield generator. "The ACI has been giving heat warnings. Think you could check it out?"

Naki laughed and looked to the ground. "That ass." She thought. "Yes, Ryau, I can. Take a seat on the ground and I'll take a look."

Ryau sat on the ramp and set his Needle rifle and service pack to the side, clearing his back of obstructions. Naki popped the seal on the generator and used a wire from her data-pad to make a hard connection. Most of the status lights blinked good, however the temperature regulator was sending a warning sign. 

Naki pulled a small tool kit from her thigh, the ultra thin pieces were meant to slide through Forerunner seams so she could get access to the hard wires, but they would have to do for working on Sangheili armor. She popped the secondary cover off and used a small magnifying lens to get a good look at the sensor. A metallic black paint flake had managed to slip inside the system, it had adhered to the small sensor causing it to report a higher temperature than normal. 

"It looks like some paint slipped through the plating before they gave it to you, or most likely when we had it sent to the smith for cleaning." Naki said. 

"So I wasn't in danger of my back exploding?" Ryau chuckled.

"No, your armor is fine. Just let me patch this backup." Naki used a different micro tool to carefully scrape the paint away. Almost immediately the status light changed from a rapidly blinking orange to a steady blue. Naki quickly replaced all the shielding and plates, then closed it back up. 

"All good?" Ryau asked.

"All good." Naki confirmed, There was a bang on the door, and Alea waved through the small window. Naki sighed and took a rations pack out of her pack. "With Alea on the door, we might be here a while." 

"What? You don't think Alea can do it?" Ryau asked. 

"Ryau, there's a reason why Alea called me to that Forerunner beacon on Reach. She is not very good at her job. The only reason she can do it is because I gave her a transcription program for her ACI."

"So how long do you think it'll take her to get through the door?"

"I would say… maybe another twenty minutes. Unless she realizes she could patch my data-pad wirelessly into the system and have me open it. But who is in a hurry here?" Naki smiled. 

A high pitched beep echoed through the corridor and the door turned green once again. It slid open and Alea's data-pad dropped to the ground. 

"Or not… I guess not all of her brain was in her ass…" Naki muttered. "Good work Alea." 

"Uh… What happened? I did not finish breaking through security." Alea asked, quite confused.

"Well… never mind then," Naki sighed. "Either way, thank you for trying." 

"You are welcome," Alea retrieved her data-pad from the ground.

With the installation reopened, they continued on down into the building. The U-shaped ramp sent them into a smaller room, as Naki walked on inside, she could see the massive shaft through a window. A small holographic interface flashed to life as she walked past. On her left, a second room was host to a large trench with some sort of pipe at one end, whatever that was for was currently beyond her. A metallic grate blocked access to a ramp that must have led to another level. 

The last section was a small booth that extended out into the shaft, the windows allowed full view of the top and sides, as well as the bottom. A holographic representation of the shaft gloated in the center of the booth. "This must be the control room for this area." Naki said. 

"I agree, something here must open the ceiling access." Alea said.

"We'll take a look at that later. It's not a priority until we see everything here." Naki nodded and walked over to the stairs that continued further underground. "I need the cutters to get through this grate." 

"I will take care of that." Alea said. She turned on her heel and walked back up the ramp. She was only gone for a few moments before coming back with a crate in tow. 

"Mhmm." Naki popped the lid off and removed the plasma cutter from the case. "Shield your eyes." This would not be the first time Naki had used a plasma cutter before, it was actually very common for her. Many Forerunner installations favored thick metal grates over ramps that led deeper into the installation. Commonly, caches of technology were tucked away behind them. She placed the eye shield over her face and activated the cutter. The super heated plasma sliced through the ancient metal with ease. 

The grate clattered to the ground and slid down the ramp. "Alea, you are to remain here and act as a relay. Until the uplink crates are set up, we'll need someone to relay messages up to the surface… it is taking the Unggoy a bit long to set them up…" Naki muttered. 

"I will look into it, Naki. While you are Ryau are exploring below, may I look at the control room?" Alea asked.

"Yes, you may. Be careful, we don't know all of what this place controls." Naki said. 

"Understood, ma'am." Alea walked over to the control booth and synced her Data-pad wirelessly. 

"Onwards, Ryau." Naki pointed on. She wished, that she and Ryau could have more personal time, but the Supreme Commander had requested that all their time on site be recorded by their helmet cams, so they had to continue to act like nothing had occurred on the Spirit.

They walked on beneath the grate, not knowing that they had inadvertently doomed the patrolling warriors above.

Part 2
Isolated Infinity

Twenty-Fourth Solar Cycle, 172 Cycles: 9th Age of Reclamation [September 20, 2552: 2327hrs]
Installation 04. [Alpha Halo]
SpecOps Science Major Naki 'Cimutee

Naki and Ryau walked up the ramp. The series of tunnels had panned out to nothing important, just leading even deeper into the inner workings of the ring. It was a job for one of the mapping drones Naki had brought along. They had been below for nearly ten minutes, and it appeared the the Unggoy had finished unloading the cargo crates marked for this part of the installation. 

"Well the crates appear to have been fully unloaded. Let's go up to the main level and take a look at those teleporters." Naki said. 

"You're just going to send a probe through, aren't you?" Ryau asked. 

"That is usually how it starts off with teleporters. Tests to see where they go, the effects on passage, basic things like that." Naki started up the ramp, out of the basement. "Teleporters of this design are quite rare across Forerunner installations, the most common are black pads that run throughout a facility."

"You know… if I'm remembering this correctly… the type that's here was only found in one kind of place…" Ryau mumbled. 

"Yes… they were most commonly in the 'arena' areas." Naki said. "Never in any mainline sectors." She knew exactly what Ryau was referring to. In her oldest memories, she could remember that the multiplayer maps from the original Halo game were the only places that the style appeared.

The two left Alea behind on the lowest floor and made their way to the entry area on the ground floor. Naki opened a supply crate and took out a small silver sphere. It was similar to a holo-drone, they were manufactured by the same Armory. She thought about using the Kindler mapping device, only that would be good if the teleporter exited inside a cave. 

Sticking with the first probe, Naki walked over to the portal and tossed Ryau the control pad from the case. "Sync up with the probe." She turned it over in her hands. "It's probe Thirty-two."

Ryau glanced down at the control pad and swiped through the screens. "Alright… and…done." 

The small light on the side of the probe lit up and it hovered a centimeter above Naki's hand. With a light push, she sent the drone into the green wall of energy, and in a flash it had vanished.

"Let's see the pad." Naki said, holding out her hand. Ryau quickly passed it over and she got a look at the readings. The probe registered a 148.3 millisecond delay between points, indicating that the receiving end was quite close. The positioning system pegged its location less than a hundred meters above them. Naki looked up and saw the probe's icon appear on her ACI. 

Ryau glanced up where Naki was looking. "So it's close then?" 

Naki activated the camera on the probe and was greeted by a fish eye view of a Sangheili rear. "Erm…" With an accidental tap of a key, the probe accelerated forward, lightly booping them on the ass.

At the moment of contact, the Sangheili jumped in surprise, the microphone on the probe even caught an audible "Eep." Immediately after he landed, the Sangheili spun around to face the small drone. With a solid kick, the probe was sent spinning out of control off the side of the cliff face.

Naki furiously tapped the stabilizers in an effort to save the probe. Thankfully it stopped mere centimeters from the sand and water below. Running a quick diagnostic, the probe indicated that it was still intact. Naki took control and piloted the small, grenade sized drone back up to the top of the cliff.

As the camera came back into focus, it revealed that there was a single Sangheili standing nearby the teleporter receiver node. Sig was clearly not pleased and his confusion could be sensed through the link. He looked around quite bashfully before vacating the spot. Naki guided the probe forward and began to follow Sig.

Unwilling to continue the charade, Sig drew his Plasma Repeater and fired a burst of plasma at the drone, missing all of his shots on purpose as he hoped to get his point across.

"Sig. I need you to inspect the drone. If it's damaged I'll have to send another through." Naki said through the intercom speaker built within the drone.

"Naki!"Sig answered with a soft growl. "Be more careful with where you try to place your drones. My posterior is not a landing pad!"

"Well, Ryau was flying it when I sent it through." Naki looked over at Ryau and gave a teasing smile. She knew about the awkward interactions between Ryau and Sig. It was cute to watch.  

Sig gave quite the blush at this. "Please let it not be true…"He groaned in annoyance. "He could not wish to tease me that badly."He grumbled lowly.

"I'm sure it was an accident, those controls can be very sensitive." Naki said.

"And I am sensitive to his actions!" He barked out angrily as he picked up the drone in his hand to inspect it. "Your imbecilic toy looks of the most pristine condition, your majesty. Now fly it away from me!" With a few quick taps, the drone hovered out of Sig's hand and zoomed away.

"Why would you say that, Naki?" Ryau pleaded.

"Well you were the one piloting it when it went through. And besides, I think that Sig is good for you.. just not the kind of relationship he wants."

"Oh, but why can't he have that kind of relationship with somebody else?" Ryau groaned. "You took the controls from me, anyway." 

"That kind of relationship is frowned upon in most Sangheili states. So in turn, it's not so common out in the fleets." Naki said.

"Surely with the amount of connected societies, Sig is bound to find someone." Ryau said in turn.

"And Sig thinks that someone could be you." Naki tapped Ryau on the nose.

"Great…" Ryau sighed. "Well I suppose that he would look better in a dress than you." he play

"If that is what you want, then have at it." Naki giggled.

Ryau just responded in silence. A moment later, the probe flew back through the doorway and then landed back in its case. Naki popped open a small compartment on the drone, and used the cable inside to make a hard connection with her data-pad. She downloaded the hard data to her personal data-stick for later analysis.

"Don't worry, Ryau. This is all just me poking fun at you two." Naki said. "Especially after what we did in the Spirit."

Ryau grumbled and rolled his eyes. Naki ignored him and laughed to herself. Over the next few minutes, they tested the other portal, to find that it led to a metal platform on the other side of the island. It really seemed like this place was a closed system. Other than the shaft they had found below ground, there did not seem to be any way off the island.

Sig walked into the room, and Ryau avoided eye contact with the other Sangheili. After just a moment, Alea came up the ramp, staring intently at her data-pad, Naki was about to ask if everything was alright, but Sig beat her to it. "Miss… Do you not understand that?" he asked with a raised eyeridge.

"I have not been the best at reading the Forerunner language… and my interpreter program is not functioning at the moment." Alea answered.

Sig blinked at this several times. "Wait a moment… You are in the Science Division, more specifically the Forerunner Exploration ranks… And you can not read the Forerunner language?"

"Well...I am actually no longer part of the Forerunner division… I was only with the Fleet of Holy Respite to oversee the installation of a replacement reactor system on a cruiser. They sent me down to the surface of that planet because one of the Lances found a Forerunner site and I was the only person with any kind of experience…" Alea said. "I got caught up with Naki and ended up aboard the ship with you all."

Naki glanced over, Alea had not told her that she had left the exploration division over the last few weeks that they were catching up. "Why did you not tell me, Alea?"

"I was worried that you would be disappointed in me. I always wanted to work in the same division as you… to do the things you do... but they revoked my status after the accident." Alea fell silent.

Sig sighed heavily at such a predicament "Alea… You still should not even need an interpreter for the language." he looked her over in a faint bit of disbelief. "Here… Look." He began as he moved beside her and pointed at the large blurred out character in the top left corner of the panel. "This is the symbol for the word 'open.' Notice how it is blurred out? That means it is inactive for use." He looked to her for a moment to see if she was following.

"Yes… I got that far." Alea said with a hint of annoyance. "What I am having difficulties with is this." Naki walked over as Alea pointed to a string of Forerunner characters on the image she had captured. Naki knew what they said, but she was interested to see how far Sig's knowledge went.

"This line of text right here…" He pointed out the lightly highlighted line of characters on the other side of the control screen. "It reads. 'Surface Access control. Maintenance rate identification code required. System access prohibited to all lower rates.'" He read it again slower as he traces his finger along it to subtly try to imprint some teachings onto her.

"Hmph… thank you." Alea turned on her heel and headed back down into the lower structure without another word.

"I did not know that you could read Forerunner, Sig." Naki said.

"Yes… I can…" He shook his head as Alea left.

"Where did you pick it up?" She asked.

"Well it is simple really… I read it from several books. You know I like to read; what else do you think  I do all day on my data-pad?"

Naki laughed. "Oh, I always thought you were looking up pictures of males on duty." Honestly, she thought it was fifty-fifty, Out of the corner of her eye, she spied Ryau walking through the teleporter to get out of the room, the quickest point of escape.

Sig's face grew quite colorful as he stammered slightly in protest. "No! Of course not!"

"And how exactly can we be sure?" She asked with a giggle.

"Do you know how much of an uprising would happen if K'an found out I... was homosexual?" He exclaimed nervously. "He is taller and stronger than I…" He waved his hands suddenly. "No. no. no. no. no, absolutely not! Naki, please… You seem to not really care that much of my preferences, but in the name of the Gods be hushed! I do not need such a thing to be open for the universe to know."

"Well, it's all in good fun here. I wouldn't say it to anyone that didn't know already." Naki said, getting serious.

"I would greatly appreciate that… I usually keep it quiet… I would be surprised if D'rok even knows…" He looked down, thinking.

Before Naki could respond, there was a loud clunk which echoed across the island, followed by metallic grinding sound. "Alea what did you-"

Alea came over the radio before Naki could finish. "I don't know whats going on the controls lit up and suddenly the surface hat-"

Ryau cut her off in turn. "Naki! Get up here, you need to see this. The top of the shaft is opening."

Without missing a beat, Naki turned and stepped through the teleporter, For a split second, a wave of nausea flashed over her, she felt the familiar feeling of being stretched and then knitted back together that she had come to associate in the many times she had interacted with the Forerunner teleportation systems. In a flash she was standing above the structure, in the open air.

Ryau stood at the edge of the small canyon that cut the island in two, and she quickly approached him as the grinding came to a halt. In the valley below, the massive hatch covering the maintenance shaft had slid to the side, completely opening it to the weather.

"Ryau…" Naki asked. "Do you think that is big enough for a Spirit?"

Fifteen minutes later, their Spirit had been fully loaded with the supplies Naki believed they would need at the next location. Sig was currently on the line with a mission handler trying to get additional warriors and support brought down so Naki could take some with her. But from where Naki was standing, the conversation did not sound like it was going well.

"Naki!" Sig called. "Could you get on the line and help me deal with the dispatch?"

Naki sighed and activated her headset. "What is the problem?"

"Who am I speaking with, now?" The Handler asked as if annoyed.

"This is SpecOps Science Major 'Cimutee, I'm in charge of this operation." Naki said.

"Alright… What would you like?" The Handler asked.

"What SpecOps Major Valhamee asked for. He was relaying my request." Naki sighed. She does not usually deal with mission handlers, in most of her experiences, she had a direct line to force deployment on any ship.

"Yes… about that. We can not allocate what he is request. The most I can send to him is two Type-twenty-six Shade Turrets."

Naki grumbled. "Well I need the additional forces. We located a tunnel that leads elsewhere on the Ring and I do not wish to split my forces here."

The Handler sighed heavily. "Very well… I am sending a lance Unggoy and a file of Kig-Yar on top of his Shade turrets. That is all I can do."

"Why is that? What is going on that prevents me from getting my requested numbers?" Naki felt a slight growl rise in her own voice.

"We are very busy up here, miss 'Cimutee, and there are much more pressing matters than what you and Major 'Valhamee are currently doing." Naki let out the growl when the Handler did not use her rank, she had worked hard to achieve her position

"There are thousands of warriors up there that are not deployed, and each ship has hundreds of dropships, Explain why you cannot task one of the thousand you are not using to come here," Naki complained. "Gods, I miss Zeik." She mumbled under her breath.

"No, we can not do that. I am sorry." He sighed, maybe he hated his job. "There are very important events going on right now that are very well above your grade."

"Do you even know what this rank allows me to know?..to do?" Naki asked. "I have a direct line to the Hierarchs. If there is something going on, then it is not because it is above my rank!" She spat. "Fine. Just send what you can." If something was going on, which prevented her from getting her forces, and she had yet to be notified, it must be bad. And there was only one really bad thing on this Ring.

"See, Tair'ee? This is why I hate doing this job!" He angrily barked off of the mic. "...Yes… Yes I know! The budget does not allow for me to so what I want!" There clearly was some internal issues with the ship's mission handler staff today. "You don't do the budget, Tair'ee, I do!" The sound of the headset being placed back over the Handler's head was heard through the connection. "Cimutee?"

"What?" Naki sighed.

"I am sending you exactly what I told you I would. If it is still an issue I recommend sending another request in an hour or so."

"Fine, thank you." Naki cut the connection. "Well Sig, did you hear that or do I need to repeat what they said?" She was a bit irritated now.

"No… I shut it off as I hate dealing with those idiots."

"Well, you are getting Shade turrets and I am getting only six replacement units to take with me." Naki said. "When they get here, send them into the Spirit, I will be waiting inside."

"Yes, Naki. Thank you." Sig said, as Naki walked back into the Spirit.

The Spirit was fully warmed up and ready to go by the time that the reinforcements arrived. As she had requested, Sig directed them into the ship. "Alright, pilot. Let's go." Naki waved into the cockpit. 

"Yes. Major." The copilot said, tapping the switch to close the hatches. 

The Spirit lifted off and circled the island, Naki found her way to a seat beside Ryau and strapped herself in. "Ryau, I don't know how much more time we have." She whispered to him. Alea and the other warriors were in the other prong.

"Well.. neither do I. I don't remember enough." Ryau whispered back. "But we know the signs, right?"

"Yes, we'll keep a good look out while we're down there." Naki pulled a screen down from the ceiling and set it to view the Spirit's front camera. 

The dropship did a single orbit over the open shaft as the pilot assessed his options before coming to a stop directly over top. The main camera tilted downwards and they began to descend into the hole. It was a close fit, but the shaft widened out after they passed the lip. "Just continue downwards, Pilot" Naki radioed. "It should bottom out into a larger tunnel network." She pulled out her data-pad and began to track their progress down the shaft with the Kindler scan she had done while they were loading the Spirit. 

It was a long, and slow descent. Naki spied a few interesting landing zones that piqued her interest, but she wanted somewhere with a view of the sky. It was a mystery to how many experiments were conducted on a Halo, let alone what they did. From what she had learned on other Forerunner installation, the Halo rings weren't used as laboratories for long, but the time scale of the conflict with the parasite was skewed beyond understanding. Being part of the Ministry of Special Sciences let her have access to some very privileged information.

In fact, they were responsible for locating much of the information that would later help reclassify much of the Forerunner language over the past centuries. Which was probably why the Ministry was shrinking so much. The San 'Shyuum did not like being corrected. If anyone was to speak about the information they uncover, they are either; killed, disappeared, or sent to the Geleterose Installation. Naki always treaded the line between acceptability and deviance.

"Ma'am, we have reached the bottom of the shaft." The pilot said over the ship's speakers. 

Naki returned her attention to the camera screen. The shaft had bottomed out into a massive, wide tunnel. There was a thick layer of fog, and Naki could even see the curvature of the Ring make the tunnel appear to disappear into the ceiling. "Head up spin." Naki tapped the screen to put a directional indicator for the pilots. "Actually hold on a moment. Open the doors to the right prong. I need to send set something up."

"Uhm. Understood." The Pilot said, bringing the Spirit to a stop.

The hatch dropped open and Naki pulled the Kindler mapping drone from its case. She guided it out of the ship and had it attach to the right prong magnetically. It activated and began to map the tunnels. "You are good to continue."

The Spirit continued on through the tunnel, and the continually updating map showed hundreds of small outcroppings and secondary tunnels branching off. "How far do you want us to go, Major?" The navigator asked.

"Let us continue on until we find another vertical shaft. I will send the mapping probe up to see if the shaft goes all the way up." Naki wished she would have more time on the ring. She wanted, desperately, to unlock the secrets of its construction, but Naki knew their clock was ticking. 

They flew in silence for quite a while. Ryau was silent, looking at something on his data-pad. Naki glanced over his shoulder, the top of the document read; The State of Zelso and the Verano region, an in depth history. It appeared that Ryau was looking into the history of the area he was supposed to be from. Naki nodded to herself, it was a good idea for him.

"Major Cimutee, we have found a vertical shaft." The navigator announced. 

"Very good." Naki made a few adjustments to the Kindler and sent it up the shaft. As it ascended, about mid way up, it detected something in the middle of the tunnel. It was only a partial scan of something large, "...so that either means that there's something hovering in the middle," she mumbled to herself. "Or something is on its way do… Pilot move us away now!" 

The Spirit violently reversed, knocking Naki sideways into a seat. A dark grey craft dropped out of the shaft and accelerated towards the Spirit. The Human dropship screamed by, its nose mounted gun strafed the hull of the Spirit, punching many holes in the left prong's plating. The co-pilot returned fire, scorching and melting the exterior plating of the Human ship's engine pods. 

"Alea! Are you okay?" Naki shouted to the other side of the dropship. She leapt out of the seat and ran over. 

There was a fit of coughing, as Naki opened the door between sections. Smoke poured out of the doorway and the pilots activated the fans to clear the air. "Yes, Naki. I am still well." Alea called back. 

"Is anyone hurt?" She asked. Naki received an all clear from everyone. The Kig-Yar squawked in response. She nodded and checked the damage, the shots had passed clear through the upper plating, and embedded themselves a bank of empty crash seats They would need to close off this prong if they hoped to make orbit.

"It's all clear, miss Excellency." An Unggoy reported. 

Naki gave a sigh of relief and supported herself on the bulkhead. "Very good… Pilot, once the Kindler returns, continue on. We will not be going up that tunnel. When we regain contact with the surface, alert them of the Human activity."

"Understood ma'am." The pilot nodded from his seat beside her. "How is the damage?" He craned his neck to see around the controls.

"They shot through the hull. Everyone survived." Naki nodded. There was a slight beep from the Kindler's control panel as it returned down onto the front of the dropship. "Looks like it is back in place."

The pilot nodded and slowly continued down the tunnel. Once again, there vertical shafts were few and far between. The first two the had come across were capped at the top by some sort of dome. However, eventually they came across a tunnel that looked nearly identical to the one they had come down in the first place. 

With a clear exit at the top, they rose up the shaft. Naki noted that this area did not seem to have a control station for the surface access, it felt unusual. They returned to the bright sunlight of the system's star in a vast, rocky plateau. It was broken up by various box canyons and rock piles. Either the Ring's designers wanted a large desert, or the unchecked weather systems took a real toll on the area. 

She scanned the horizon for any clue to why the shaft had been placed in the region. A flash of light caught her attention, and another one a half kilometer away. Naki pointed at the pilot's screen. "Go there." 

He nodded and flew towards the canyon the beams of energy had originated. The canyon in particular was shaped like the Human number eight. If one was to walk a channel, they would never reach an end, an infinite cycle. There were two towers on either side of the canyon, occasionally blasting energy into the sky. 

"Find a place to land, we'll set up here," Naki ordered. 

The Spirit located a clearing and set down. When the doors opened, Naki was one of the first to step out. From the air, they had not seen any signs that there were any Humans around, so it seemed relatively safe.  

The Unggoy and Kig-Yar massed beside her awaiting her commands. "Alright, you all split up and search the area. If you find any doorway, or signs of activity, alert me immediately." They all nodded and fanned out across the area. 

Ryau dropped down from the Spirit. "From the look of this place we got from the air, we should have really brought along a couple of Ghosts." 

"In the long run, yes that would have been a good idea." Naki laughed. 

The Spirit's engines powered down, and the pilots stepped out into the warm air. "Ah, just like home," the pilot smiled.  

"More comfortable than the island we were on." Their co-pilot agreed. They must have been from a more arid portion of Sanghelios.

"Then you two can set up the tents." Naki said, "I'm sure that you'll pick a good place." 

"Fine, Major 'Kisovaiee and I will set up the camp." The pilot nodded and returned to the interior of the dropship.

Naki glanced around at the site, there was a large structure that was identical to others found across the ring. Each one shot energy into the sky for some unknown purpose, Naki had not yet gotten the chance to look into one to figure out why, and she did not have access to the data from the Prophet of Stewardship's science lances.

It appeared that the site was some sort of compound, the buildings and exits to the canyon were semi blocked off with the a strange pipe wall and there were towers near every opening. Naki looked up at the cliff walls, nestled into the rock were metal platforms, "Perhaps at one time, turrets were mounted over top." Naki thought to herself. 

She placed her hand to her headset. "Make sure no one touches anything. This appears to have been a secure site at one time."

The string of acknowledgments came from her warriors as Alea walked up to her. "What would you want me to do, Naki?" 

"You're to head go to the top of the beam emitter. See if you can find an entrance into whatever this place was. Take an Unggoy file. Ryau and I will check that bunker behind the Spirit." 

"Yes, Naki." Alea nodded and started for the tower's ramp. She waved to the Unggoy file and took them along. 

"Ryau, take a bedroll and enough rations for a few days. We may be down there for a while." Naki pulled a bedroll and a sack of supplies from the Spirit. She clipped the bag to her back and handed a similar pack to Ryau.

The small bunker had ramps on two sides, but a there was a doorway on the back side. The small square room had a sealed door on the other side. Naki took out her data-pad and searched for an open network of any kind. The door control glowed red and was not showing up. "So I will have to do this the old way…" Naki mumbled.

"Well let me see if I get lucky." Ryau reached out to tap a random button on the panel. Only when the Device on Ryau's wrist came into close proximity, a new symbol appeared on its screen and the control panel flashed green. "Erm… is that normal?" 

Naki walked over and pulled Ryau's arm away from the controls. She looked over the Device, the new symbol read as Override. Something that was not expected from it. "That's new…" Naki mumbled. "It appears that the Device will override some Forerunner security systems." 

"You didn't know that it could do this?" Ryau asked. 

"No, when it was recovered, the only information it gave was how to synthesize the serums required for species change. Nothing mentioned that it could unlock doors." Naki tapped the blinking symbol and nothing happened. 

"Uh, please don't do that, I don't want to turn back into a Human in the middle of a Covenant science camp." Ryau looked back towards the door. 

"Do not worry. If you don't turn back by accident while in combat, this won't cause that either." Naki joked and tapped the open button on the door's control panel. The heavy doors parted to reveal a downwards ramp. Following it down, they were led into another square room with another ramp. The various other doors were sealed and their control surfaces were blank. 

Ryau and Naki continued downwards and deeper into the ring. It was almost like they were undoing the vertical progress they had made with the Spirit. As they went deeper, the air became cold and damp, and the ancient metal was wet with moisture. A faint rumble could be heard from somewhere deeper in the tunnels. 

In the depth of the installation they found the source of the rumble and why the surface was so dry. At some point in the history of the Ring, a river must have found its way into the corridors below and rerouted itself somewhere completely different. The chamber ahead was entirely flooded, a waterfall fed the underground reservoir at the far end of the room. It left down a raging torrent an equal distance away. 

"Up there," Ryau pointed up towards a ramp that lifted out of the water. A green lit door sat at the top. 

"Well all we have to do is get across this." Naki took her pack off and held it over her head. "It doesn't seem that deep."  

Ryau removed his bag as well, as they began to wade through the water. Their path took them across the center of the room, there was a vertical shaft that appeared to go straight to the sky. Naki stopped when she felt the ground begin to tremble.

"Get back!" Naki pushed Ryau backwards and leapt forward. A burst of energy shot out of the water, filling the air with steam and breaking their energy shields. They were directly under one of the beam emitter towers. 

"Ryau, you alright?" She asked, trudging through the water and giving him a hand back to his feet. 

"Yes… I'm fine, but my bedroll is soaked." Ryau grumbled.  

"It'll dry quickly," Naki said. She looked up the shaft quickly. "Alea, send down two of the Kig-Yar. It's a pretty straightforward path to us. We've found a series of tunnels." She said over the radio.

"What about me?" Alea asked.

"I need you to keep the line open and investigate the compound above, send a Transceiver node down to the flooded room. Hopefully then we can remain in contact." Naki said.

"Yes, miss 'Cimutee." Alea replied. "Sending the Kig-Yar now."

Once the Kig-Yar arrived from the surface, they started off again. The water came up to the Kig-Yars' chest and they squawked in annoyance of having to get soaking wet. The one T'vaoan, named Tik, held his Needler above his head, a move that was not actually needed for many Covenant weapons. Thankfully, the corridor on the other side of the room was dry. They walked for hours, Naki using the Kindler to map their path so it would be easier to find their way out when the time came. 

Eventually the endless series of doors, hallways, and sealed off rooms opened up into a large hexagonal shaped lab. They were on the upper catwalk. It seemed that this was indeed the end of the facility that they had access to. The catwalks ran around into another separate corridor where a ramp went down to the main floor. 

Naki came to a stop at the base of the ramp. "Well it seems that we've gone as far as we can." She took a look at her data-pad's clock. "We'll stay here for the night." 

"I don't think we'll be able to communicate with the surface down here." Ryau commented as he removed his bag from his back. 

"No, we passed the dead zone as soon as we went two floors below the relay. If we found another shaft to the surface that would be another story." Naki said. She slowly approached a curved wall inset between the the two catwalks. As she got closer, the entire wall lit up with holographic screens. Her data-pad blinked in her thigh pocket as it automatically connected to the Forerunner network that just came into existence. 

"Interesting…" Naki mumbled. It was unusual for something to automatically connect, the last time it had happened was when she had first found The Device. It forced a connection and downloaded the necessary information right onto her system. However, this one only seemed to give her access to a long dead system.  

The network hosted a collection of logs belonging to whatever Forerunner scientist had called this certain location home. Naki tapped a few buttons and began to copy them onto her personal data-stick. The logs were encrypted and whatever had come before had become corrupted over the millennia. With the network's files downloaded to her data-pad, Naki stepped away from the control surfaces and set up her bedroll beside Ryau, underneath one of the catwalks. 

Ryau was on the ground, fiddling with his own data-pad. "Is your data-pad running slow?" He asked. 

Naki looked down at her own system. She tapped an icon, and it did indeed take a few seconds longer than normal. A few taps later and she had opened the data-pad's processes and her screen was suddenly filled with lines of code and information. Only it was not being downloaded, but sent away. Something was pulling information off her data-pad.

They were disconnected from the Covenant Battle-Net so this was not a tap by Hierarchs nor was it compromising the security of the fleet. Naki's eyes shifted over to her wrist armor controls, whatever was going through her data-pad was doing the same to her armor.

She ignored the intrusion and took a closer look at the network. Naki sent a ping to the system to explore the connections. It appeared to originate in the room, but all the data it was siphoning off was being sent somewhere else.

"Yes, it is running slow. I'll find out why." Naki said. She stood back up and walked over to the control surface. Scouring over the words and panels, Naki found the stations standard signal analyzer.

With the press of a button, a map of the region flashed before her. An icon appeared above her location on the map, with a line extending off towards the gas giant the Ring orbited. Curious as to what could be there, Naki tapped the end of the line.

The hologram shifted and zoomed towards the planet's surface. It highlighted some sort of station that hung into the planet's atmosphere. "I wonder what's there…" Naki mumbled. "Ryau, is anything else behaving strangely?" She glanced back over to him on the floor.

Ryau checked his data-pad and then his armor like she did. "Well… The Device, there are a lot of panels that just appeared, just scrolling some sort of information" 

"So this is scanning our armor, data pads and even another Forerunner Device… What could this want?"
Suddenly, a voice came from one of the screens. It was a soothing, almost nice voice. "my Goodness!" It said in Sangheili.

Naki stepped back from the wall. "By the Rings?" 

The voice spoke again. "Finally… a scientist," It paused. "You are a scientist, right?"
She still was not entirely sure what she was listening to was not a recording. "Yes… yes I am."

"Very good! I am quite pleased to find a scientist… Why is this a rarity for your species?" The voice asked.

She sighed. "Uhm, well they mostly do not favor the knowledge aspects of life." Naki looked back towards Ryau, he rose from his bedroll to see what was going on. He walked over and silently stepped behind her.

"That is not very desirable… Either way,I will be quite direct with you. I need your help, Sang-heili." It was definitely a male voice on the other end of the communication line, however it sounded semi artificial.

Naki was suddenly curious, "With what?" Whatever this creature or Associated Intelligence was, it appeared to be very old. Perhaps even Forerunner in nature.

Almost immediately, the latter idea was put to rest. "Well, unlike the wretched Forerunners who built these idiotic mass extinction devices, I have nearly completed a project that would completely solve the issues with the crafted enzymatic compound that everyone seems to label as the Parasite."

With the implication that the entity on the other side of the com-line was not Forerunner, yet appeared to be just as old or older, made Naki even more curious into the thing's final point. "Well, how can I help with something like that?" She asked.

"I need someone to put the final pieces together." The voice said.

Naki wanted to know what she was talking to, and she wanted to know it as soon as possible. "And, who and what are you?" 

"My name is Prey'Teir…" There was a rumble from the other side of the com-line. "Actually… It would be best that I told you in person."

Naki glanced to Ryau to see what he thought about it. He just shrugged and shook his head. "Okay… when can we expect you?"

"Within a little while. Before the planet completes a full rotation." And with that, the communication ended. The line between the Ring and the Gas Giant disappeared and all the screens winked out of existence.

Naki pulled up her data-pad and checked its systems, whatever had been going through them had ceased as well, along with the network that had been in the room. Though the files were still there. "So… we'll be getting a visitor tomorrow." Naki said.

"So it seems… that was weird though. It talked like it wasn't Forerunner." Ryau glanced over to the Kig-Yar who had also had their interest piqued, the two had gathered just below the slightly raised platform the control area was on. 

"It might be older… a construct from before the reign of the Gods." Naki suggested. She knew Ryau was not a scientist, but he did know quite a lot about the lore of the universe in the time before they were taken into this reality. However, that had been over thirty solar cycles ago, he may have lost much of that knowledge. 

Ryau looked up, trying to remember something deep in his mind. "I… maybe the Precursors?" He rubbed his forehead. "I don't remember much about them." 

"Right… I didn't think about them." Naki smiled at Ryau, being as smart as she was, there were still things that she forgot. "There have been sparse mentions of them across the Forerunners' worlds. In our religious texts, they were noted as being a rival to the Gods, which the Forerunners vanquished in an epic battle millions of solar cycles before we came to being." Naki walked off to the side of the platform, as if moving would help stir thought. "They are also sometimes mentioned as the Gods of the Gods. It honestly depends on which teaching of the Great Journey you look at." 

"Is that what we be meeting?" The other Kig-Yar squawked, Naki made note that his name was Yun, though telling the two apart would not be difficult at all. 

"It seems possible." Naki said. "Good thought, Ryau. Either way, we'll still stay here for the night. We will prepare in the morning." 

The two Kig-Yar nodded and went back to their bedrolls, chattering excitedly about the prospect of meeting such a religious figure. Naki walked back to hers and removed her helmet. Ryau sat beside her and tapped her data-pad. "What kind of things did you get?" He asked. "Maybe it might explain what we just heard." 

Naki slapped herself in the head. "I completely forgot about that." She pulled her data-pad from her hip and ran an auto-decryption program on the entries she had pulled from the network. 

The program broke through the encryption of the first three entries fairly fast. The others remained locked, she would have to work on them herself. The dates for each entry were lost to time, Naki had no way of recovering them, or the amount of time that had passed between them. 

ENTRY ONE"Today has been very exciting for my assistant and I! We have been working on performing different types of pings throughout the galaxy and we received a response. While I know this may not be all that important or safe as finding a way to destroying the Infection, but we have found that the entity that replied was of non-organic make up; something that could definitely not be the Flood."

ENTRY TWO "To much of the surprise of our facility, the entity I had mentioned in my previous entry had somehow discovered our location and joined us in person. We now have the pleasure of meeting an actual Precursor ancilla. It has been several millennia since any Lifeworker has recorded one of these ancilla's in operation. What seems to be the most amazing thing is that it seems to be excited to work with us... We are going to see what it has to offer."

ENTRY THREE "By the Mantel, he has a lot to talk about. Prey'Teir, the name he identifies himself by, has told us much about somethings I, myself, did not know and do not fully understand. It is quite amusing to me though, as vast as his knowledge is, his vessel of choice seems quite subpar to what we have seen in the Domain. He claims to have built his own body chassis from parts of ancient armor and the components of other exotic machines. Strange, but it is acceptable I suppose."

Naki scrolled through the short entries. She was somewhat disappointed to find that they held very little actual data, but a look into the life of a Forerunner was still interesting nonetheless. 

"Well?" Ryau asked from his own bedroll.

"You were right, Prey'Teir is Precursor. It seems like the Forerunner that wrote these entries had come across him and he wanted to work with them as well." Naki glanced over. "I wonder what prevented them from finishing, was it the Halo activation?" 

"It probably was that. I seem to remember that the activation was not known by most Forerunners." Ryau said. 

Naki looked over to the Kig-Yar, they were busy watching some sort of holo-vid on a data cube. "You know, Ryau. If we didn't come into this world in the middle of a war, we could be the two leading Forerunner scientists. We could revolutionize what the Covenant know about them." Naki laughed. 

"There is always the reality that comes after this war is over." Ryau said. "We will be able to do so much," he laughed as well. 

"We will… But in the immediate future, we'll probably have a busy day tomorrow. We should get some sleep." Naki lied back into her bed and held a tab. The pillow inflated beneath her head, to her desired size and firmness. She sighed and closed her eyes, quite a busy day indeed.