I wrote this post this morning as part of a job application for Franchise Writer for the Halo Video game. By the time I wrote the piece and did some editing the job was no longer listed. Oh well, at least I got a post out of it.
The acolytes sat prone in deference before the Ur-San, which meant first-teacher in the mysterious language of the Forerunners. Ur-San could remain in silence for days, the acolytes would never protest. He searched the students, the youngest only seven, the oldest an acolyte Ur-San had known since childhood. It cannot be you old friend. Who would probe the Mantle in some new way? Open a new vein to bleed out truth as yet unseen? The child with strong knees, not yet addicted to the hallucinogenic incense that filled the halls? Or the woman, perhaps some feminine mystery would unlock the final secrets of the Mantle? No matter, thought Ur-San, class must begin, and with that he taped the small bowl that sat at his feet and the acolytes came to attention.
Ur-San spoke in a soft voice, hardly more than a whisper. This was to force the acolytes to listen with their blood. He never colored his speech or used inflection as a means to underscore his own beliefs. That would create platitude regurgitating sycophants. Ur-San was looking original thought, not homilies. Thus he taught the Mantle as one would teach an instrument, by introducing the notes and allowing the student to discover the music.
Ur-San opened his lecture as he always did. The Mantle of Responsibility was bequeathed to us by the Forerunners, given them by the Precursors. The Mantle’s great strength is none can prove its validity, only believe in it. The sun can be taken for granted because its existence is beyond doubt.
The Forerunners were goodly masters that sacrificed themselves in the protection of all life in the galaxy. The Forerunners valued the bio-diverstiy of our galaxy, a diversity the parasites of the Flood have always sought to devour. The Mantle gave us peace and slowed the ugly race of progress. The Forerunners gave all and protected all, until the great Flood came and only the Forerunners were armed and prepared. Life almost gave way to the symbiotic slavery of the Flood parasites. The confluence of the Flood and the Forerunners losses left some humans to doubt their faith. Many amongst humanity believe that they are the rightful benefactors of the Mantle.
Who can say who, or what is right? Ur-an asked his students. We can only play the notes authored by someone else, in hopes of finding a new song. Ur-San ran his hand over the first folio of The Eld, his fingers caressing the brass of the emblem that embraced the front cover. We begin with the first prayer. And so another classes journey began.