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|Shield and Sword - Reconciled *Now with more HBO!*|
|Posted By: Leviathan <firstname.lastname@example.org>||Date: 8/7/12 2:01 a.m.|
I’ve been getting busier with some new projects, so this time around I’ve asked some friends to help me with this mission. And so TDSpiral, Hedgemony, and Pete_the_Duck all have supplied their artistic talents. I’m loving this. :)
Mission Five: Reconciled
A group has convened around a large holographic table aboard the Sangheili Corvette. Projected on the table is a forested area with a clearing in the center above which an old Covenant CCS-class Battlecruiser floats. Its grav lift is active and there is a small encampment of vehicles and small structures at its base in the clearing.
Sangheili Major: “The Reconciled – the last of the Covenant. Years after their defeat at the Ark, a few surviving Prophets brought forth a new wave of propaganda: that they had been contacted directly by the gods, by the Forerunners. They were told the Covenant had been punished for their greed and arrogance, and that it was time to redeem themselves.”
Shipmaster: “And since then, they’ve mostly remained in the dark, moving silently across the void, recollecting the lost and disenfranchised… Until recently, when your UNSC lost contact with one of their Halos. The reinforcements found nothing left: no ships, no destruction, and most importantly, no ring. There is no other force powerful enough to attempt a siege like that, besides us that is…”
Cortana (appearing on a pedestal on the edge of the table): “And now they’re here.”
Shipmaster: “But how are these fools doing this? (resting his hands on the table, bending down to look at the encampment) They’re out in the open and no Sentinels are taking notice! And how did they even make it into the sphere?”
Sangheili Major: “Perhaps they speak the truth. Perhaps the Reconciled have allied with the Forerunners.”
Cortana: “I find that highly unlikely. The Master Chief – Humanity, not the prophets, was chosen to be the Reclaimers, the species to uphold the Forerunner’s Mantle and all their tools. And yet even before we entered this world, we were attacked and hunted. Perhaps if there is an intelligence behind the Sentinel army, it has been corrupted…”
With that last word, Master Chief makes an automatic glance at Cortana, who notices and gives a questioning look back.
Shipmaster (walking towards the captain’s chair): “You may be right, lady of light. And we may discover our answers very soon, but upon these Reconciled, we must act quickly.”
The Shipmaster sits upon his hovering throne and turns towards the command area of the bridge. Viewscreens appear on the floating interface in front of him. In them are displayed a panorama of a rain forest and in the distance, a Covenant Battlecruiser floating above the canopy.
Shipmaster: “This is just the beginning. If the Reconciled are here, then their navy is not far behind. We must dislodge their foothold, keep them pushed back until your human navy arrives.”
Fade to black.
“Across the River and Through the Woods…”
A small clearing in an alien rain forest. A Sangheili dropship de-cloaks a few meters above the ground as the Master Chief, the Shipmaster, and a lance of Elites disembark.
Sangheili Major: “The encampment is not far. Either by stealth or by force we will take it and storm the ship. Watch for perimeter patrols.”
This first forest area is all about stealth. At least, if you want it to be. Grunts, Jackals, and Brutes are patrolling the paths between the massive tropical trees, and with all the foliage and dark cover, it will be easy to sneak up behind them and assassinate them.
The alien trees provide plenty of opportunity. Their large roots are erected up from the ground, creating little tunnels to sneak through. As well, their branches can be jumped or boosted to, allowing for an exciting drop-assassination on the enemy below.
The Covenant… er… Reconciled themselves, are actually quite like you remember. Perhaps their armor designs are tweaked in small ways, (The Brutes do have a variety of armor options now from Halo Wars, Reach, H2, and H3, but they all have a lot in common. Perhaps there will be a variety of Brute models, all showing off different hodgepodge collections of armor from the past.) but in the end, they still very much convey the classic, colorful characters we all love to hate.
As you spiral into the encampment below the battlecruiser’s grav lift, you’ll also see classic Ghosts and Wraiths parked around, and the lovely sniper towers we’ve loved being killed instantaneously from in the past.
(If production didn’t allow for it, and since we’ve already added the Sangheili Ghost into the mix, these Covenant Ghosts could be either a re-skin or perhaps simply unusable and just be an explosive obstacle.)
This also gives us the chance to try out some evolved classic weapons like the Plasma Pistol, the Carbine, and the Brute Shot. Since the Master Chief will begin with his modified assault rifle and battle rifle with full ammo, and his lance of Elites will have Needler Rifles and Plasma Swords, you’ll start to have the full range of weapons at your disposal in this level.
The main difference between the old Covenant and the new Reconciled becomes abundantly clear (which is a phrase that cannot be said without doing your best Halo 2 Truth impression) when you cross a creek running through the forest and start to notice the details of the actual encampment. The former glory the Covenant held in the great war is gone, replaced by a mere fraction of its old power. Their armor is battered and broken, their vehicles scratched, rugged, and patched, the standard Covie crates are dented and losing color, and power conduits lay free, sparking from garbled radio terminals. Even the cruiser itself looks heavily repaired from this far down.
They’ve had to make due with the bare resources they still controlled after the war, limping on for years under a new phase of religion. It is truly their conviction that holds together this fighting force now. As such, this remnant may actually be more zealous than the Covenant ever was as a whole.
As the Elite said in the beginning of the level, you can either take this area slowly, by sneaking around the encampment slowly picking off foes, or by rushing in with your lance and wiping the Reconciled out. Once the grav lift is secured, one of the Elites holds up his wrist, showing off a holographic display that he begins interacting with.
Sangheili: “Grav lift ready and locked.”
Cortana: “Wouldn’t want to make it halfway up before they figured out to press the ‘off’ button…”
When the player heads onto the lift platform, his ascent begins in first-person.
“Into the Belly of the Beast”
A small force of Grunts and Jackals faces you when you pass through the airlock into a small hangar. After they’re dispatched:
Shipmaster: “We head for the bridge. Once secured, we can use this ship as a trap for their reinforcements---“
Over the ship’s intercom: “Why have you disturbed our meditation? We seek only to bring about the next step in this galaxy’s ascension.”
Shipmaster: “A Prophet onboard? Where’s the source?”
The Elite that reversed the grav lift: “One moment... Engineering.”
Shipmaster: “Ermm. Schemes and tricks always mark a Prophet’s path... We split up. Major, take four to the bridge. The rest of us will head to the ship’s core and secure the Prophet. Their tongues are more dangerous than any weapon the Reconciled might have.”
The Master Chief follows a company of Elites through a labyrinth of corridors and hangar decks which are in disarray like the rest of the Reconciled’s equipment. You can sneak up behind Brutes patrolling and scouring the ship and perform assassinations or you can always just start making explosions and wade through their hairy corpses to your objective. Or sit back and watch an active camo Shipmaster sneak up and perform his own style of assassination with an energy knife.
As you make your way towards the stern of the ship, you’ll continue to hear the Prophet broadcast messages across the ship, like these:
“Why provoke us to defend ourselves? Rest your fury, listen to our words. I am the Prophet of Foresight. The future is secure, the past is reconciled.”
“Why will you not listen? We have been contacted by the Gods themselves. An angel wreathed in metal found us, spoke to us. It offered a way to redeem our past transgressions.”
Eventually you’ll reach the (nostalgic) starboard hangar, with multiple levels and two shield doors. Beyond the enemy, there is a strange Forerunner relic, the size of a Wraith tank, being stored in one corner of the deck. A low hum can be heard if approached.
Cortana: “This is Forerunner. It seems to be broadcasting an encrypted signal… It’s communicating with the Shield World.”
Shipmaster: “Is it important? Can we use it?”
Cortana: “I don’t know…”
Shipmaster: “Then we moved forward.”
Continuing on towards the back of the ship, you’ll soon hear another message:
Prophet: “Your mind is clouded by hate. We are not the Covenant. We are something new. And we offer all a path, even the humans.”
Reaching the ship’s engineering area, you’ll see a beautiful sight: a smaller version of the type of reactor we once glimpsed in Halo 2’s assault carrier (Return to Sender).
Silhouetted by the blue glare, a Prophet awaits you on a balcony overlooking the room, and a cutscene begins.
Prophet: “So you’ve found me. Was it worth lying waste to an entire fellowship? Do you feel stronger, more righteous with our blood on your hands?”
Shipmaster: “I served under your brethren. Your kind bathed my hands in blood before I could even walk. Our honor, our glory - still stained with the lies of your kind.”
Prophet: “But one is not all, and all is not one. I am not Truth, I am not the Covenant. Would you truly be so ignorant to weigh us down with our predecessor’s guilt? Does the son of a thief deserve to be whipped for something he simply did not do?”
Shipmaster: “You ARE the thief. I know you. You were the Prophet of Prophecy not so long ago. You decided what planets would be the next to be eradicated and glassed. You directed whole continents to be burned with the mark of blasphemy. You turned our armies towards an ignorant victim. You pointed my blade away from the real demons. But now it’s come back to you.”
At this, the Shipmaster Rtas stomps forward with blade drawn. The Prophet inches back against the edge of the balcony.
Prophet (a little hysterical): “And no one is deserving of redemption? You would not let me learn from my mistakes?”
Shipmaster: “Tell me why you are here. What you want. And I may kill you quickly.”
Prophet (half laughing, half afraid): “Whether by my commands or not, the Reconciled will have this holy shrine.”
Shipmaster: “What is so important about it? It is not a weapon like the rings.”
Prophet: “This shrine is not some cudgel. It is the tomb of a god. And we will have it opened. But you are blind... and will never see the light. I will make sure of it.”
The prophet presses a switch on his gravity throne. A noise blasts through the room. The blue light of the ship’s core flares brighter and with more irregularity.
Shipmaster: “What have you done?”
Prophet: “You underestimate the Reconciled. We are not bound together by power or fear, but by belief. I would gladly die to see you kept from interfering with my brothers’ sacred work.”
Cortana: “The core is destabilized. Get me to a terminal, Chief!”
Master Chief runs to a pedestal nearby and lets Cortana loose on the ship. In the background, one can see the Shipmaster lift the Prophet off his throne by his throne and throw him down into the core.
Cortana: “I think I can stop it. Shipmaster, I would advise you to withdraw in case I can’t.”
Shipmaster: “All Sangheili, muster at the starboard hangar for evac. Major, contact the ship and bring in a dropship.”
The Elites begin high-tailing it out of the room. The Master Chief is the last to leave. But only a few yards down the corridor, there is a troubling noise. The door still open behind, the Chief turns back to see the core not explode – but simply wink out of existence. In the quiet, the lights begin to blink across the entire ship.
Cortana: “Well… I did stop it.”
The ship begins to lurch as the power drains away. The Elites look back and forth to each other.
Shipmaster: “Lock your armor, warriors!”
The ship lurches back the other way, slamming the soldiers into the wall of the corridor as the last light goes out.
Outside, the ship’s grav lift dissipates as the cruiser drunkenly floats towards the canopy of the forest as its repulsor lifts (not a very Halo-y term, I know…) destabilize. Then the power is completely gone and the angled ship crashes the last thirty feet into the forest. Blue explosions rip through the side of the ship that bore the brunt of the impact, but being the core was off-line, major destruction was averted. Still, spaceships aren’t designed for something like this, and the ship is twisted and broken as trees come tumbling down and more small explosions pepper the ship and the surrounding forest.
The camera zooms out far as the ship finds its resting place in a rain forest now on fire.
“Landing. Falling… Same Thing.”
The Chief’s vision is coming back. Blurry, and winking, the player can see through their glitchy HUD John's hands pushing his prone body forward through small, crooked pathways of bent metal. His vision focusing, the Master Chief drops through an opening onto… dirt. Somehow, he’s been blown free of the crash’s epicenter, near the tree cover. Master Chief stands and his HUD begins to stabilize. The player can see through the fragments of hull and trees a great blaze starting up in the background.
Cortana: "Hang on Chief, I’m stabilizing your power pack--"
Cortana shuts up as the Spartan turns around. In front of him stands a … Forerunner Sentinel? But it’s massive, and designed like no other. It seems to have legs, and wings. It has a tail. Most strangely, it has a face.
And a voice. It is a mournful chorus. Quietly and almost… embarrassed, it begins:
“I brought them here. But I did not know you would be waiting. Last time we spoke - - no, you are not…”
It stops, then draws back and then a little louder with more confidence:
“I am sorry. You are not him. Not yet. But you are still a Reclaimer… The Reconciled have served their purpose. They brought us together.”
Cortana: “What are you?”
“I am a War Sphinx, a walking gravestone. I was the child of the Begotten, and I was entombed in this machine to never be forgotten, to never let the price of my life be diminished.”
Master Chief: “You’re the first Forerunner machine on this planet that hasn’t tried to kill me.”
War Sphinx: “I do not belong to this sorrowful installation. I have been masking the Reconciled presence from the Monitor’s tests; I can continue to do that for you.”
Cortana: “You were aboard the cruiser, the relic in the hangar. That’s what you were communicating to the Shield World. But why is the Shield World running these ‘tests' in the first place?”
A few explosions and plasma fire are heard in the background.
War Sphinx: “The Didact will have to answer for that. But I think for now, you should join your friends. They will need your help. And when you are ready, I will help you.”
The player resumes control as the War Sphinx moves away into the forest, into darkness. Looking back towards the central crash site, one can see a large battle has commenced. Brutes that survived the crash and those that were out on patrol are surrounding the Sangheili survivors that have dug in among the wreckage. The Brutes are en masse and have brought a handful of Wraiths and heavy weapons.
Cortana: “Let’s get in there.”
Now the player has one helluva of a big battle to experience. For the more brave players, they can dive in, flanking the Brutes from the forest cover, or for the more calculated, head back and regroup with the Shipmaster and the Sangheili.
After taking down most of the Wraiths, Sangheili dropships begin to land behind the Brute forces and disembark reinforcements. The Shipmaster then leads a charge into the heart of the enemy, cutting a path open until he meets the reinforcements upon the ruined grav lift platform. Out of sight, a massive Brute Chieftain is spawned, and comes barreling through the ranks, swinging Elites into the air with his gravity hammer a la Sauron.
A ‘boss’ of sorts, it will take a lot of firepower to take him down. But you won’t need a magic Johnson sniper. :)
Upon the victorious battlefield, the ending cutscene plays. Dropships are arriving to pick up the wounded as the Sangheili Corvette moves into sight. The Master Chief and Shipmaster meet in the midst of the smoking field.
Shipmaster: “It was honor to fight beside you today, Spartan. We have kept the Reconciled from gaining an important foothold. When the humans arrive in force, these fools will have nowhere to hide. Of course, we still have the infernal machines to conquer.”
Cortana: “About that… I think you need to meet a friend…”
---End of Mission---
Next time on Shield and Sword...
The War Sphinx leads our merry band of warriors to a massive Forerunner installation which is actually a monitor itself. As you work your way inside its massive inner workings, you have to face both the Reconciled and the Forerunner Sentinel Army before finally learning why the Sentinels and their monitor wants you dead. And Pete_the_Duck has graciously supplied an awesome preview of these battles to come!
|Shield and Sword - Reconciled *Now with more HBO!*||Leviathan||8/7/12 2:01 a.m.|
|Damn it, Levi! Stop being so awesome!||Gravemind||8/7/12 4:43 a.m.|
|Re: Shield and Sword - Reconciled *Now with more H||kidtsunami||8/7/12 6:13 a.m.|
|I wanna plaaaaaaaaaaaaaay *NM*||JDQuackers||8/7/12 8:35 a.m.|
|Re: Shield and Sword - Reconciled *Now with more H||padraig08||8/7/12 9:16 a.m.|
|Re: Shield and Sword - Reconciled *Now with more H||TDSpiral||8/7/12 12:36 p.m.|
|Re: Shield and Sword - Reconciled *Now with more H||bluerunner||8/7/12 1:24 p.m.|
|Re: Shield and Sword - Reconciled *Now with more H||CaneCutter||8/7/12 1:25 p.m.|
|Re: Shield and Sword - Reconciled *Now with more H||Chewbaccawakka||8/7/12 5:21 p.m.|
|Re: Shield and Sword - Reconciled *Now with more H||SonofMacPhisto||8/7/12 7:16 p.m.|
|-.-||uberfoop||8/7/12 7:59 p.m.|
|Re: Shield and Sword - Reconciled *Now with more H||PerseusSpartacus||9/23/12 5:41 p.m.|
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