Always A Stranger, In A Strange Land
He could still feel the assembly which made the various mechanisms of his lightrifle. It felt, familiar. Why couldn't he feel anything else? He couldn't move. The lightrifle began to feel less tangible, as if it was falling away, just out of reach. He attempted to fire, but his hands betrayed him.
Straining in an attempt to remember what came before the silence. Meathrillian, The Forerunner capital world. His Promethean company had been task to...He couldn't remember. A voice broke through the dark silence. He heard it not through his ears, but instead his mind. It began to eat away at him until all thoughts were replaced by the deafening voice.
"You no longer belong to this place, you belong to me. Forget all you know, all you are. Render yourself, and sing victory, everlasting."
He struggled to silence the voice which now took hold of him. He tried to run, to flee. His legs did not move, all he could see was the blackness. Bits and pieces came, he was coupled to a Promethean company. To hold the archives of Meathrillian at all cost. He failed to recall what he was tasked to hold, and from what.
"A billion times before, and a billion times again. We consume all. You were not the first nor will you be the last."
The voice grew louder and more pronounced. It shook the fabric of his being. He wanted to make it stop, to regain his thoughts. They began to slip away, quickening with time.
"You cling to an artifact that neither has meaning, nor purpose. What you call the "Mantle," is nothing more than a lure of power. You have no power."
His ancilla, if he could perhaps shed its shards in one deconstructing purge, perhaps he could free himself from this madness. It was neurally linked, he had to break through the voice in order to execute his plan. With the last of his will, he sent the neural signal to purge his combat skin's ancilla. The pain, like a burning star shedding its outer layers. Then, he could see once more.
He was in the archives of Meathrillian, but it was not as he remembered before. The halls were thick with sickly yellow fog. Covered in organic matter, the stench of which was overwhelming. In the distance he could hear tormented wails. A tendril, which had found its way through his eye socket and down his cheek, forced his head to turn. Staring into the maw of some massive, grotesque creature. It moved closer, the head was thick, and made of the same organic matter which covered nearly all surfaces in sight. He could feel it's breath, it lingered in the air like miasma.
"Do you see, now do you see? Why you hold no power, why you never hall again? You would sacrifice your own companion, to free yourself, it only for a brief moment. So callous, selfish. We are the answer to your failings, your greed. This is why we do what we must, why we consume. All life is doomed to repeat its missteps again and again. We are harmony, the end to entropy. We are a never-ending tide that will wash over your entire galaxy, as it has billions of others."
He understood now, he remembered everything. The Flood was no longer a mystery, no longer the creature in the dark. He took his last free breaths, spoke his last free words.
"I see now. You are not the juggernaut you claim to be. No, no you are something much less impressive. You're a predator, a swindler. Preying on entire galaxies. We may fall to you, but in time you will face a foe just as devious as yourself. And you will finally be extinguished."
His eyes closed, the darkness took him once more. Loosing all sense of thought, the voice once more returned.
"Until that time, you belong to me. You all, belong to me."