Chapter 5: Memory is the Key
Carolina sat in the mess hall with her head lying gently against the table. Washington walked in for his lunch break, and gathering his tray of food he sat opposite to her. "Is everything alright?"
"Yeah, I just seem to have this killer headache."
"Doc can always take a look at it if you want Carolina," Wash suggested piercing the seal on his food tray. He removed his helmet and tasted the mashed potatoes. Right now, to him any type of food tasted great considering all that they have survived so far. Suddenly Delta pixilated besides Carolina and stared up at her with curiosity. "Agent Carolina, what type of headache would you say this is?"
"Um…a normal headache? I didn't realize that headaches came in different varieties."
"It could be a normal headache, but it could also be one caused by the Epsilon fragment."
"Ah yeah I hate those headaches, it's like someone is putting a screwdriver through your head," Caboose replied walking into the mess hall. Wash face palmed thinking, there goes my peaceful lunch. He however quickly wiped the thought when he saw Carolina's face lighten up a little. I guess she is getting more personable with him than I thought. Carolina grasped her forehead and winced in pain as it felt it was about to burst wide open.
Caboose sat down by the two soldiers looking from one to another. "So, what are we talking about?"
"Agent Carolina," Delta started getting her attention. "It could very well be a sign of Epsilon trying to remember."
"Memory is the key," Caboose preached and Delta agreed. "Correct, for the Epsilon fragment, memory is the key. Epsilon could very well be trying to sift through the memories in the form of recordings left behind by Epsilon."
"Church?" Carolina questioned nearly standing up in surprise. Her tone was one of hope. Does this mean that Church could still be alive?
"Not exactly," Delta replied quickly shooting down those hopes. "Presently the Epsilon fragment remains without identity. But it also stores several of the recordings left to help it find its identity."
"I thought those recordings were for us," Wash said in a questionable tone. Delta shook his head displaying a few holographic projections. "If you observe this diagram here, it is the data structure of which our databases are configured regarding the messages left behind by Epsilon. Most of them were assigned to the new Epsilon fragment to study. We contain little to no recordings as Epsilon believed that he had made his feelings clear to you all through his final words."
The three let their heads fall into a moment of silence for Church. Carolina was the first to look up and think about the new Epsilon fragment's shapeless look. "So you are telling me that these recordings could be there to help him make sense of himself?"
"That is one way of putting it, but yes."
Inside of Carolina's storage unit, Epsilon's shapeless body studied the various data streams. Coming across a message titled "Message-001", it engaged it to play.
Now playing Message-001:
Uh…Hey new me, if you are listening to this then that means you probably have unlocked the other messages as well. Man this is so awkward, it's almost like talking to someone from the afterlife. But here goes.
Me kind of being like the father to the new fragments, I imagine you will have a lot of questions for me. One of them probably being that 'why the hell am I so fat?' eheh heh, bad joke? ...Bad joke. The reason why you are shapeless is because at one point I was the same. The Epsilon unit represents memory, and through memories is where you find your form.
For me I originally had some help from Caboose, turned out quite interesting I would say. Maybe the same thing may happen again, just remember to not trust everything he says, he isn't the most reliable source.
But I also want you to remember something important, memories help describe who we are, but our experiences are what help make us unique. I don't want you to get lost in these recordings to help describe the type of fragment you may be.
Sure you might turn out like me, but I want you to know that you should rely more on the experiences you will have with the crew. I mean who knows, you may come across some crazier adventures than I ever had. You could document it then for other fragments or other people. Heck, you may go on the craziest adventure the crew will have ever gone on. Kind of sad to think that I wouldn't be a part of it, but I hope you can be.
Find your identity, and don't rely too much on my recordings to give you your unique outlook on the world. Build that through your experiences, and remember to be nice to the guys, they are sometimes a special case, especially Caboose.
In Red base, the reds stood around the newly repaired base computer. Simmons stared proudly onto his creation that brought a tear to his eye. My best work yet, he pondered when he powered it up. The neon lights around the screen monitor and keyboard panels lit up. Sarge looked at the product questionably. "Why is it running this fancy OS?"
"It's Windows 10 sir."
"Who uses Windows 10? Windows 7 for the win bitches," Grif replied disgusted with the OS design. Sarge on that note however took the moment to mention. "Speaking of which, weren't we running that Linux OS thingy that command gave us before?"
"Yes, but apparently that was too much for Donut to understand sir. He always ended up executing the command that deleted the OS thinking his wish would come true by doing that."
"Not to be picky but the neon lights look all wrong," Donut said studying the tube lighting inch for inch. Simmons shook his head at the pink soldier. "Donut, just because you are in-charge of base color restorations, it doesn't mean you can do that to the computer as well."
Lopez took one look at the computer and walked outside thinking, I can't wait to see how they screw with their computer again, unless the OS screws them over first. Just as Simmons entered the user profile to show the others around, a loud thunder went off in the sky.
"What in blazes is going on out here?!" Sarge asked running outside. The rest of the gang followed to see a huge UNSC transport ship hovering over the canyon. A small Pelican launched from the ship, and Simmons let out an audible sob that he couldn't showcase his computer. Grif let out a cheer that he didn't have to sit through the Boy Scout level of presentation.
The blues came rushing out alongside Doc. "What's going on?"
"It's our ride, they are here," Wash replied looking from Doc to the landing Pelican. Grif readied his gun with action in mind. Finally we get to do something useful around here. As the Pelican doors opened, Grif's face dropped beneath his helmet. "Oh no…"
"Woo hoo! Finally home, now I can start throwing those rave parties again!" Sis shouted exiting the ship. She became even more ecstatic at seeing her brother. "Big bro!"
Grif's head dropped low with a sigh. Someone please kill me. He looked up at his younger sibling and did his best to ignore the disappointment in his tone. "What happened to your transfer?"
"They said something about me using their base for every night parties was against regulation, so command kind of booted me back here."
"You didn't embarrass the family name did you?!"
"Oh I'm sure she embarrassed more than that," Captain Muffins replied stepping out of the Pelican. "She is quite gullible and very flexible when it comes to doing the splits."
Beneath his helmet, Grif could feel hot air rising from his puffy skin. "God dammit! That's it, you are grounded!"
"You are not my dad!" Sis shouted in retaliation. "If you will excuse me, I have a Red base to go and egg now."
"I hate my life," Grif mumbled trying to find the nearest rock to smash his head against. Washington walked towards the captain with their prisoner in arm. "You got the full message Captain?"
"Yes, and call me Muffins, Agent Washington."
"I refuse to call you something as ridiculous as that," Wash replied handing the prisoner off to one of the Pelican operators. The operator tied the prisoner to one of the chairs through two handcuffs and waited in the cockpit. Simmons looked back at Sis who was preparing to throw an egg. "What should we do about her?"
"Take her I suppose?" Carolina replied, although something told her that she may regret the decision in the long run. Grif rushed up right in her face. "No! You listen to me and you listen good! You maybe a scary freelancer lady who can probably beat the living shit out of me, but no way am I letting you bring her onboard the ship with us!"
"Too late," Caboose replied pointing to Donut and Sis who already seemed to be sharing nail polish tips aboard the Pelican. Grif bit his lips with his blood pressure ready to blow. "Fine, I'm not going anywhere."
Sarge took one look at Grif and turned to his robotic creation. "Lopez."
"[Fine, whatever]," Lopez replied as he picked up Grif from the back. Grif struggled against the robot's tight grip. "Hey no fair, let me go!
Simmons smirked under his helmet. At least I'm not the only one suffering here today. "Deal with it wimp."
Captain Muffins looked at the newly acquired prisoner and cleared his throat turning to Wash. "The prisoner has been interrogated?"
"We only asked what we needed to at the time. I'm sure you can get more out of him though."
"Very well! I the brilliant Herr Captain Muffins shall aid you in this quest! You, the blue man known as Caboose shall help me!"
"Yes Herr Officer! How will we do this? What are the rules of this game?" Caboose inquired intrigued at the German captain's enthusiasm. The Captain took one look at Caboose and thought, at least his crazy talk has not gone away. Maybe this will be easier than I thought. "We play good cop bad cop. You are the good cop, I'm the bad cop. You offer him a glass of water and I cap him in the knee. Works like a charm, every friggin' time!"
The Captain turned to face the Pelican and pointed at it creating a much exaggerated pose. "And a way we go on the quest to save humanity, make new friends, discover things about ourselves only to forget it all at the end."
Everyone looked at the deranged captain with Grif taking the initiative. "Yeah the ship is totally boned isn't it?"
"For what it's worth, he did get us here in one piece," said Wash in the captain's defense. They all boarded the Pelican and flew up to the transport ship. They all looked back one last time at the canyon wishing Sheila all the best. They all looked up at the sky and held hope for Tucker in their fight.