Author Topic: Digital Prison [13+][Open]  (Read 3115 times)

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Offline Slaskia

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Digital Prison [13+][Open]
« on: May 14, 2011, 10:04:25 PM »
It was certainly one of the more unusual requests Dillinger had received.  Not unusual for the request itself overall, but in regards to the subject the request was directed toward.  He knew that since the war’s end they had been asking for occasional assistance from his people, but otherwise kept their distance.  Who can blame them, really?  They were responsible for the deaths of billions of people, the majority of their colonies destroyed: it would take years, if not generations for the bitterness and hatred of their kind to pass.

If it ever did. 

“Let me get this straight,” Dillinger said as he folded his hands in front of him and placed them on his desk.  “You want this man of yours placed into the Grid.”

In front of him, one of his guests, dressed in blue armor, shifted uneasily.  Dillinger had noted this one shifted a lot since they arrived here: likely his…he believed it was a male anyway…assignment.  The other two, however, showed no such signs of anxiety: both had stern expressions upon their faces.  One was clad in scarlet armor, while the other, the leader of the group, was embellished in gold armor.

“He is a criminal and placing a criminal in this…Grid…is what you do is it not?”  the gold one, responded in a gravelly voice.

Human criminals,” Dillinger stressed.  “We have never put a member of another sentient species into the Grid before.  Besides, don’t you guys, with your honor code, usually kill the dishonorable?”

“Death is too good for the likes of him, plus if we killed him he would become a martyr in the eyes of his followers.”

“Just what exactly has he done?”

At this, the Elite hesitated.  Dillinger did not know much about these aliens, but one thing he had heard about is they were not too keen on revealing any weaknesses.  “He was the leader of a sect of Sangheili that wanted to restart the war between our two species,” the Elite finally said with a sigh.  “A sect that is proving difficult to squash completely.”

“One of Kesi’s former supporters?”

The Elite growled the name.  “We do not believe so:  Sozo’s motives are different from that cur Kesi.  He wants the war to start again so our military forces are not used to resolve domestic issues.”

“I do not understand….”

“The Great Schism caused a lot of chaos.  When our military personal was depleted quickly during the initial strike, we had to pull assets from the home fleet to counter it.  To replace the assets pulled from the homefleet, security personal from the homeworld and other colonies had to be pulled.”

“Ah, I get it now,” Dillinger said.  “Just like us, if you lower the amount of security, the criminal element takes advantage of it.”

“Correct.  Sozo was just a nuisance prior to the Schism, but after…he became bolder…more notorious…and got quite comfortable with his ill gotten gains.  When we started to crack down on the likes of him when our war of the Brutes lessened, he took offense.”

“He did not like that he could no longer live the life he had.”  The Elite nodded.  “And with his experience as a thief, it was hard to keep him confined?”  Another nod, this time accompanied by a low growl.  “An escape artist…I can see why you came to us.  Thing is, I am not sure the device we use will even work on one of your kind.”

“If the process kills him, there would be no way of knowing would there?”

“We’ve never had someone die while being digitized into the Grid,” Dillinger said.  “There is a chance it could leave quite a mess.”  The thought of someone being only partly digitized made him feel a little sick.

The Elite smirked, or at least he thought it was smirk: so hard to tell with those jaws of theirs.  “Even if the process failed, we can cover up that fact easily due to the distance between him and his supporters.  So long as we are rid of him….but first, I must be assured he cannot escape.”

Dillinger thought carefully before responding:  he had to explain this in a way that wouldn’t confuse them.  “The main security feature of the Grid is that there is only one way out: a portal which is only open briefly when the convict is first put in and for the rare times when we pull one back out.  While it is open, it is constantly monitored by at three smart AIs. The AIs also monitor the various security programs designed to keep the criminals in check.  These programs are also improved upon and rebuilt as needed.”

“You make it sound like this Grid is a digital world….”

“It is a kind of…virtual reality.”

“Can you die in this…virtual reality?”

“Yes.  The death in the Grid can be is as permanent as it is here, but we have provisions to prevent that.”

“What sort of provisions?”

“Each prisoner has a special tag encoded into their digitized DNA.  This tag is an identifier of sorts, to allow us to not only locate them in the Grid should it be required to bring one of them back to this world, but also as a key to a back up copy of their coding.”

“What is the purpose of this…back up?”

“When a prisoner dies in the Grid, the system automatically resurrects them at their initial arrival point after a set period of time.  The good thing is, they do not remember anything between the point of entry to their ‘death’.”

“Why is this a good thing?”  the Elite asked.  “From what I have heard about your judicial system, rehabilitation is your main goal:  would not their ‘forgetting’ what happened defeat that purpose?”

“The Grid is used as a last resort for criminals that cannot, or refuse to be rehabilitated, and yet death is not an option, like your ‘friend’ you want put in.” Dillinger explained.  “The only kind of criminal we don’t allow into the Grid are hackers.”

“Why not hackers?”

“’Users’, as we are called when we visit the Grid, have the ability to manipulate the system if they figure out how to do so:  this includes creating other programs.  While most that figure this out use it just to make their lives in the Grid easier and more pleasurable, others, especially those that have some hacking experience, have tried to manipulate the system itself in an attempt to escape, or even to take control over one of the smart AIs.  Thankfully, the Grid is completely self-contained so they cannot get out onto the public networks and the AIs have standing orders to do a purge immediately if they feel the prisoners are becoming a threat to the system as a whole, or are close to escaping.”

“Hmmm…has anyone actually managed to escape?”

“Not to my knowledge and even if they did, the room they would materialize in is always secured when not occupied, not to mention it is constantly monitored via security cameras.”

“I see.”  The Elite paused a moment before asked.  “Should by some chance we want to bring him back, what is the process to do that?”

“When we get a request to bring someone back, we send in a specially trained agent to track them down and bring them to the portal.  The AIs are tasked with assisting the agent in any way they can, which is to include preventing other criminals from trying to interfere, or following them back out.  A purge is usually performed immediately after a successful extraction.”

The Elite was silent for a moment, his expression distant as he apparently digested this information.  “It sounds like our informant was correct in saying this Grid would be our best option for detaining Sozo.  How soon can he be put in?”

“The machinery is always ready to ‘fire’, so to speak.  How soon we can put him in the Grid will depend on how quickly you can get him here.”

At that the Elite chuckled.  “I have him waiting in a secure transport, guarded by a team of Ultras.  I can have him brought in immediately.”



Sozo growled and briefly tested the restraints once more, looking for a weakness.  He found none this time, but he knew there had to be one somewhere: there always was.  The problem was that he was constantly being watched, so he couldn’t do more thorough tests.  Still, it looked like that Field Master really did his research.

His hands were bound behind his back with shackles made out of a metal, with a thick solid bar two feet long separating his hands.  A similar device bound his feet and over both his hands and feet were thick leather bags.  Over his head was a metal cage, meant to keep a captive Sangheili from biting, but prevents a skilled Sangheili from using his mandibles like fingers just as well.  Most embarrassing though was the fact that the restraints were the only thing he had on:  he was otherwise completely nude.

Around him were four Ultras, all with their weapons drawn and their gaze fixated solely on him.  Beyond them was not much of anything besides the seats of a typical military transport: he was sitting on the floor in the middle of two rows of seats on either side, facing the front where a closed door separated them from the driver.  Behind him was the main exit out of the vehicle, which was currently closed.  He wasn’t sure where they were parked at, beyond it was somewhere on Earth.  Why did they bring me here? he wondered.  Do they honestly think a human jail can keep me contained?

“Can’t you open a door?” he asked.  “It is getting stuffy and smelly in here.”

One of the Ultras growled, but that was the only response he got.  He had been hoping for a verbal retort, or even better, a kick, to give him an excuse to kick out in turn.  However, these guys were too disciplined to fall for that kind of bait.

“So…where are we, fellas?” he said.  Maybe he could get more information on where they were.  “Don’t tell me you brought me all this way just to sit here in a stuffy vehicle all day.”

“Someplace where we hope we can put you away for good,” one of the Ultras sneered.

Sozo burst out laughing.  “You think a human facility can do where our own has failed?  You are fools!”  he said.  “You just made it that much easier to accomplish my goals when I escape again!”

“Do not count on that,” a familiar voice said.  Sozo looked behind him to see an equally familiar face:  Field Master Rile ‘Kanjin.  “This is no ordinary prison.”

“Ordinary or not, there is no jail I cannot escape from,” Sozo chuckled.  “I will get out again, you will see.”

“I doubt that very much,” Rile growled.  “Grab him and follow me.”

Sozo felt two hands grab him by the arms and watched as two other Ultras pick him up by the legs.  He was carried like this out of the transport and until a rather unimpressive human building, where a human security guard started leading the way.  Looking around, he felt confused, for this didn’t look like any prison he had ever heard of.  Then again, this was run by humans: humans likely did things differently.  The prison cells may be deep underground for all he knew.

After a few minutes they arrived at a small room.  The room was bare save for a single stool:  the only other items in the room were a pair of cameras in opposite corners of the ceiling and a strange, cylindrical device jutting through the back wall.  There was no bed, no sink, no toilet:  this was worse than the cell he stayed in on the ship, which at least had a toilet!

“Will the restraints be a problem?” he heard Rile ask the guard as the Ultra’s sat him on the lone stool.

“No, sir,” the human replied.  “The programs will remove them once he is put in.”

Programs? What are they talking about? Sozo thought.

Before he could ask, everyone else left the room, the door sealing shut behind them.  He was alone in this room.  Alone…at last.  With a smile, he started to test his restraints with more vigor: if he could get the bags of his hands perhaps….

His efforts were interrupted by a humming sound, like something being activated.  He turned around to look at the odd cylindrical device he saw earlier, noting that now it was emitted a faint greenish blue light in the center.  Sozo quirked an eye ridge, but otherwise ignored it, figuring it was nothing dangerous, let alone important.  Before he could resume working on the restraints, however, there was a bright light, accompanied by an intense, tingling feeling all over his body.  He cried out in shock, closing his eyes out of reflex.

When he opened his eyes again, everything looked…different….

Offline Slaskia

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Re: Digital Prison [13+][Open]
« Reply #1 on: May 15, 2011, 10:44:06 PM »
Sozo looked around, thoroughly confused.  The room looked now to be made of some kind of dark blue-green material and generally looked much more clean…sterile even.  Turning around to look at the door, he saw that there were strips of blue-green light lining the edges, but those did not seem to emit enough light to account for the amount of light in the room.  Looking at himself, he saw he too was now a blue-green hue, likely due to whatever kind of light was being used here.

“What, by the Rings…,” he muttered to himself, noting that both the cameras and the odd device were now absent from the room: it was just him and the stool.  At least he was still alone, so forgetting about the odd change of environment for the moment, he returned his focus to his restraints.  Unfortunately said restraints felt just as secure as they were before things changed.

Then he heard the door open.  When he looked toward it, he saw two armored humans walk in, but they too, looked odd.  The clothing they were wearing was completely black, with red lines of light running down various areas in simplistic patterns.  The armor itself looked vaguely like the Spartan armor he had seen in videos and pictures from during the war.  This fact gave Sozo pause: despite the fact that he could see no recognizable weapons on either of them, he had heard enough about Spartans to know they didn’t need a weapon to kill someone.

Stay calm, he told himself as the two Spartans approached.  And bide your time.  Just do what you usually do:  observe for weaknesses, plan, then execute.

He watched as one Spartan bent down and cut off his foot restraints with some kind of cutting device and picked it up.  “What, they didn’t give you the keys to these things?  How rude of them,” he quipped as the Spartan then walked over to a bin that had slid out of one of the walls and dropped the remains of the restraint into it: the bin then slid back into the wall where it came from.  Sozo noticed at this point the Spartan had some kind of disk on his back, though there was no telling what it was for: it could be a fancy battery pack for those fancy lights for all he knew. 

Neither had Spartan responded to his comment.  Instead, they each grabbed one of his arms and escorted him out of the room:  at least he was being allowed to walk under his own power this time.  The walls of the hallway looked to be made of the same dark-green material, however the floor was covered with panels emitting a faint blue-green light and the ceiling was a reflective black.  As they walked he saw there were more rooms like the one he was just in, their doors wide open:  they looked just as bare and empty as the one he just left.

At the end of the hallway was an elevator: more like a lift really due to a lack of surrounding walls.  Like the doors, the only light sources were strips of light decorating its surface in a simple pattern.  The Spartans guided him onto this lift and the lift started to rise automatically once all three of them were onboard.

“So, they stuck you guys on prison duty after the war?” Sozo asked while they waited for the lift to stop.  “That must be humiliating…warriors like yourselves reduced to….”

“Quiet, User,” one of the Spartans barked in an odd, metallic sounding voice.  It reminded him of how someone sounded when there was a ton of feedback on a communication line: very…unnatural.  Even odder though was what the Spartan called him.

User?  What the hell did he mean by that? he thought.  However, considering the currently company he had, he felt he best not push his luck.

The floor the lift finally stopped at was much different than the last.  Here the walls were a much lighter grayish blue-green.  The floor and ceiling were the same, but with the addition of strips of the same blue-green light running down the hallway length, the light itself ‘pulsating’ down the strips every few seconds.

The Spartans guided him down this hallway until they came upon a much bigger room.  This room was largely circular in shape, with a brightly lit circular section in the center that was roughly five feet in diameter.  Beside this pad were two pedestals, one on either side, the tops of which were also brightly lit.  On either side was a darkened rectangular alcove, though he could see nothing in either.  Around the room, roughly at each ‘corner’ was a vaguely human shaped statue:  besides those and the pedestals, the room appeared empty.

He was led to the lit section in the middle. The moment both feet were in the center, two brightly lit wires flipped over top of them: they must emit a kind of stasis field, for from that point on he could not move his feet at all.  The two Spartans then got to work on his other restraints:  first came off the cage on his head, followed by the hand restraints.  When the hand restraints came off, they forced his hands each over one of the pedestals and similar device that was used on his feet activated.

Boy I bet o’ Rile wished he had these things in our own penitentiaries, Sozo thought as the Spartans now took up positions on either side of the door.  Out of the corner of his eye he saw one of the ‘statues’ open, revealing a female human.  Looking around, he saw that the other three statues also had female humans.  All of them were wearing a skintight grey and white suit with the similar light strips decorating parts of it, only this time the lights were white.

As one, they walked toward him with an exaggerated high step: Sozo found the spectacle slightly disturbing.  In less than a moment, they were right next to him, invading his personal space.  “Uh…,” Sozo said with a smirk.  “Ladies, while I appreciate the attention, you’re not my type:  I am not attracted to humans.”

The women however, seemed to completely ignore his comment while looking him up and down, seemingly studying him.  Then he felt something start climbing up his legs.  Looking down, he saw a black material just materialize over his body.  It didn’t cover his whole body:  it stopped at his wrists and the top of his neck.  The new suit reminded him a bit of the bodysuits he wore during his brief time in the Covenant military.

“I bet a lot of Sangheili would love to have this kind of tech for putting on bodysuits,” he commented as he looked himself over the best he could, considering he was still restrained.  “Those bodysuits were such a pain to get into….”

Again, the women ignored him.  This time though they split off into pairs, walking toward the dark alcoves on either side he saw earlier: it was then he noticed a disk on their backs like the Spartans, though again their purpose wasn’t clear.  As they approached the alcoves, two floating bins, both brightly lit on the inside and baring some kind of armor, slid out of the wall and opened.  The women grabbed these pieces and approached him once more, their movements still completely synchronized.

They placed the arm pieces on him first, followed by the legs, chest and finally his back.  As each piece was attached, it ‘expanded’ to cover more of that particular part of him, the new ‘sections’ appearing out of nowhere like the suit did.  When the armor was fully on, strips of light, colored purple, activated all over his body, again in simplistic patterns.

“Well, at least you know what my favor color is,” Sozo quipped.  Like before, the women did not respond to his comment.  He was getting tired of being ignored: the Spartans at least told him to shut up.

In front of him a rectangular pedestal rose from the floor.  Near the top was a circular hole that was brightly lit by the same color light as everything else in the building.  Floating in the center of this hole was a disk shaped object:  the same type of object he had been seeing on everyone’s backs since the change.  One of the women approached this pedestal and reached to remove the disk form its place.  As she did so, a feminine voice sounded overhead.

//Attention, prisoner.  You are about to receive an identity disk.  Everything you do will be imprinted on this disk.  If you lose this disk, or fail to follow commands, you will be subject to immediate deresolution.//

He had no idea what ‘deresolution’ meant, likely some kind of punishment considering the context of the rest of the announcement.  At least it referred to him as a ‘prisoner’ and not ‘user’ like the Spartans did and at least he knew what those disks were now, somewhat at least.  This whole thing was still rather confusing.

By now the woman had retrieved the disk, walked back to him and handed the disk to one of the women behind him.  He felt the disk being latched onto his back and he felt an odd tingling sensation: this went away after a few seconds.  It was only now, that one of the women spoke: “Mirroring complete.  Disk activated and synchronized.  Proceed to cell block,” she said in a monotone, but mechanical voice.

“Sheesh, does everyone here have weird voices like that?” he asked.

No response.  Instead, the women walked backward toward the points they originally appeared from.  They stepped into the hollow statues, which then sealed around them.  At this point the two Spartans approached him once more and grabbed him by the arms:  only then did the restraint devices deactivate.  Sozo noticed this time that they both had a long staff like weapon in their free hand:  red light strips ringed around about the last third of either end of the staff.

Considering how weird everything has been for the last several minutes, he decided not to try to find out what those staffs could do to him.  Instead, he allowed the Spartans to lead him back to the lift, where again they went up.  He didn’t bother to strike up a conversation again, considering the track record he was on right now.

The floor the stopped at this time was again different than the others.  This time, everything was in hues of orange, with the lights red like the ones on the Spartans.  The wall on his left was transparent and through it he could see the cells of the prison at last.  They looked vaguely like Covenant brig cells, with red energy force fields serving as the cell doors, but from this distance he couldn’t make out much else.  He could see that many of the cells had occupants, humans of different shapes and sizes that had suits with purple lights like he did.  Sozo also noted there were plenty of guards; some looked like normal humans, while others were of the Spartan variety.

They stopped in front of a set of transparent doors, where they were scanned.  Once the doors opened he was taken into the cell block itself, where the other inmates took immediately interest in him.

“Ooooh!” one man cooed as they walked passed.  “Looks like they brought a Covie into the Grid!”

“What!? Man, that means the games are going to be even more brutal from now on!” another groaned.

Grid?  Games? Sozo thought as they stopped in front of an empty cell.  More confusing things. One of the Spartans deactivated the force field in front of the cell and then he was pushed in, rather roughly in fact.  By the time he had turned around, the force field was active again and the Spartans walked away to do whatever duties they had prior to his arrival.

Sozo took a look around his cell.  It was no bigger than a standard Covenant cell and it had a shelf he supposed was his bed.  Unfortunately, this was human sized, so at best he could use it as a seat:  sleeping wise it looked like it he was sleeping on the floor.  Both side walls had windows so he could see into the neighboring cells.  There was one thing he realized was missing.

“Wait a minute...,” he growled as he looked around.  “Where’s the toilet?”

“Don’t need them in the Grid, Covie,” one of his neighbors replied.  “Nothing you consume in the Grid is…ah…wasted.  Oh and don’t bother using your disk on the force field, or the cell walls in general:  your disk cannot be used in here.”

“What are you talking about?”  Sozo asked, walking up to the window so he could see the man.  The man was young, probably in his 20s, with long blond hair.

“This.” The man removed the disk from his back and held it up so he could see.  “They are used as weapons in the Disk War grid.”

Sozo removed his own disk and held it in his hand.  “How can this be a weapon?  I see no cutting edge on it.”

The man laughed as he put his disk back on his back.  “You will see when it is your turn to participate in the games, Covie.”

“My name is Sozo, human,” Sozo growled.  “What is a ‘disk war’ and what do you mean by games, or ‘Grid’ for that matter.”

“Ho boy, you have a lot to learn…and the names Que.”

“Then how about you explain to me where I am exactly.”

“The most secure prison in the world, if not the galaxy,” Que said with a flourish.

“I got that much you idiot.”

“Now, now, mind the name calling: it would lower the chance of me being charitable and explaining it to you in terms you can understand.”

Sozo growled warningly.  “Do not mock me, or I will make you suffer the first opportunity I get.”

“Alright, alright.”  Que held up his hands and approached the window.  “You know about computers and artificial intelligence right?”

“Yes, what of it?”

“Well, basically, you and everyone else here, are in a computer.”

Offline Slaskia

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Re: Digital Prison [13+][Open]
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2011, 10:15:09 PM »
“What?” Sozo said, not quite comprehending what he was just told.  “How is that possible?”

“ENCOM, a company that has been around in some shape or form for a number of centuries, developed a means of digitizing organic things like you and me and entering a computer system, or Grid as it was called, way back in the 1980s.  At first, they used this tech for making games, virtual reality and such, but at some point some big head CEO realized that putting people in the Grid made for the perfect prison.  No need to feed us, tend to medical needs, hire security guards, nothing.  They just have all those Programs out there do that:  all they have to do is keep the computer running and the hardware involved maintained.”

Sozo was still having a hard time understanding.  “So you mean…those Spartans…”

“The guards?”  Sozo nodded.  “Yeah, they don’t bleed like you and me: they just fall to pieces...literally.”  The man chuckled.  “Still scream nicely though when they derez.”

“Derez?”

“Deresolution.  It’s what’s to them as death is to us.  Not that killing them does much mind you: those damn AIs will just create more of them.”

“Aren’t AIs just programs themselves?”

“I think AIs are more akin to a digitized human brain than things like these Programs.  Hell, I’ve heard some Programs refer to them as ‘demi-users’:  they pretty much worship them as if they are deities.”

“But doesn’t that imply that ‘Users’ are more powerful here than the AIs?  And we are Users, right? So we should be worshiped?”

Que laughed.  “I wish man, but no.  The Programs here know the difference between a ‘good’ User and a ‘bad’ User.  I think it has to do with the color we have been assigned.”

“The purple lights?”

“Yeah.  Every inmate I’ve seen had purple lights.  I have yet to see a User here that wasn’t a Prisoner...As far as I know anyway.”

Sozo raised an eye ridge at that.  “What do you mean by that?  Wouldn’t be easy to tell different colors?  Or are you colorblind?”

“Ech, it’s best you know this anyway, though you won’t remember should you end up dying in the games.”

“So you can die here?”

“Aye, but you don’t ‘stay’ dead in this place it seems.  I’ve seen inmates die in the games, then the next day I see them alive and well, but don’t remember shit from what happened before. It’s like when you die, you are reverted back to a ‘checkpoint’ like in a video game and have to start over again.  Hell, I’ve probably died dozens of times since I got here, but don’t remember any of my ‘deaths’.  I wouldn’t be surprised if you have died a few times already and just don’t remember it.”

That possibility sent a shiver down his spine.  The thought of having died many times already, forgetting everything he learned each time, rather depressing.  “So we are pretty much immortal here, in a sense,” Sozo muttered.  “Has anyone ever died…permanently?”

“Besides the Programs, not to my knowledge,” Que admitted.

“How about leaving this place?  Has anyone managed to escape?”
“I hear of folks managing to escape the prison itself and into a city beyond the prison walls, but out of the Grid?  Nope.”

“A city?  What would a bunch of Programs need with a city?”

“From what I hear, Programs, when they are not ‘working’ live ‘lives’ similar to how we do. The need to eat, rest, and so on.”

“So they are pretty much primitive digital humans.”

“That’s one way to put it I guess.”

Sozo sighed and paced around his cell for a few moments, thinking.  So far it sounded like escaping was going to be a bigger challenge than he originally thought.  The memory wipe from each ‘death’ was going to be the biggest hurdle to overcome.  “Has anyone ever tried to leave notes for themselves, in the evident they die?” he asked.

“What, like writing on the walls and such?” Que responded.  “If you can find something that will actually leave a mark on them, you are free to try, as I haven’t.”

Sozo growled faintly in frustration.  Then he remembered something about the AIs.  “Wait…you mentioned before that the AIs can recreate any Programs that get ‘killed’ and are even referred to as ‘demi-Users’.”

“Yeah, so?”

“If we are Users, shouldn’t we have the same abilities, if not more so?”

“As far as I know, yes,” Que replied.  “Apparently it was a User that created everything you see here in the Grid.”

“Really now….” Sozo looked out of his cell and looked at his surrounding with a newfound appreciation.  “So we have the same potential….”

“Yes and no.  You see…, the ability to create things in the Grid is not an innate ability: it must be learned.  Most people, which sadly includes yours truly, are not capable of understanding how it is done.  You basically have be a computer nerd to even have a chance.  That or a fast learner.”

Fast learner I am, Sozo thought.  “Have you seen any inmates ‘create’ anything?”

“Create from thin air, no.  Modify an existing item, yes.  Usually the first thing I see them do is make their beds more comfortable.”

Sozo looked at his own bed.  ”I can see why: I know I cannot fit on that thing.”

“And one of your guy’s beds probably would take up most of the cell.”

“Indeed.”

“So tell me, what year was it when you were put in here?”

“I am not familiar enough with your species calendar system to convert it from my own,” Sozo said.  “But what I can tell you is that the war between humans and the Covenant is over.”

“Really?  I am going to safely assume humanity won the war, considering you are here and this place is still running.”

“Aye, but Earth is pretty much all you have left.”

“Wha…what!?”

Sozo couldn’t help but smirk a bit as he added.  “And you wouldn’t even have Earth if my kind had not switch sides at near the end.”

It was Que’s turn to look confused and Sozo was enjoying every moment of it.  “You mean you squid faces are allies to us now? How the hell did that happen?”

He snorted at the insult, but said with a smile.  “Mind the name calling: it may affect how charitable I am in telling you this.”

“Great, we have an Elite that is a smartass.”

“We call ourselves sangheili, so I suggest you remember that…at least until the next time you die.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah.  So spill already.”

“I am only a civilian, so I only heard this second, perhaps even third hand.  Basically the leadership in the Covenant betrayed us and tried to do to us what we were ordered to do to you.”

“Ah good o’ karma…it can be a bitch can’t it?”

“It wasn’t only that, but we discovered that our whole religion was a lie. The Holy Rings we thought would be our salvation and ascend us to godhood like the Forerunners before us, were instead weapons of mass destruction designed to wipe out life across the entire galaxy.”

“Jiminy crickets!  Why would anyone make such a weapon?”

“I am not entirely sure, but I have heard whispers among war veterans about an entity out there that is a threat to everyone, human and Covenant alike.  An entity that even the most experienced warrior feared.  The Rings were likely made to combat this entity.”

“Must have been a pretty bad ass creature if it put fear into the hearts of the Covenant.”

“Indeed.”

Several minutes of silence followed, the topic of conversation having run its course.  Sozo was going over all the information he had been just been told in his head.  He needed to figure out how to leave notes for himself should he die, so that he didn’t have to ‘relearn’ all this information again.  Que had been helpful so far, but Sozo knew that he could not rely on him to keep telling him this every time he came back to life.  Eventually Que will end up dying and at that point he would likely no longer know the information he has.

He took his identity disk, which he still had in his hand, and studied it carefully.  There was a groove around the outer edge, though he could not tell if the groove served a function.  Perhaps some kind of cutting edge popped out when activated.  He attempted to active it, but then remembered what Que told him:  the cells were coded to prevent that.

Before he could ponder much more, he saw something move out of the corner of his eye by his bed.  Turning, he saw a door opening up, revealing a circular glowing platform.  “What is this for?” he pondered, walking up to it.

//Attention prisoners,\\ The female announcer he heard before said. //Please step onto the platform to participate in the games.\\

“Oh yeah?  What happens if I don’t want to play?”  Sozo growled.

“You’ll get derezzed right where you stand,”  Que said.  “You’re better off just going along with it, though in your case, best hope you don’t end up on the light cycle grid.”

“Why is that?” Sozo asked.

“Because I doubt the light cycles are compatible with you,” Que replied.  “Best get going, before the AI get’s testy.”

“Fine,” Sozo grumbled as he stepped onto the platform.

There was a flash of light and when he could see again, he no longer saw the confines of his cell.  Instead, he was in a large room that was divided into individual hallways with transparent walls.  At the end of the short hallway was a lift: he could see there were eight lifts in all.  Around the room, he could see various prisoners and programs heading for the lifts.  A couple of prisoners glared at him as they passed by.

“You are going down, Covie!” one of the growled.

“Heh, we’ll see about that,” Sozo smirk as he headed for his own lift.  Once he stepped on it, it started to rise: it rose through the ceiling and stopped within a floating enclosed transparent platform.  This platform, along with the other seven, were in a massive room.  An arena, Sozo realized as he looked around at the crowds of Programs cheering.  It seemed, that not only were prisoners forced to play these games, but they did so for the amusement of the local Programs.

Sozo felt a bit insulted by this new information.  If they want a show…, he thought with a growl, his hand tightening around his disk. I’ll give them one.