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Warning- Hitch Hikers May Be Escaping Convicts by Spartan 034

Warning- Hitch Hikers May Be Escaping Convicts: Chapter 1
Date: 11 October 2005, 11:10 pm


Within the deep confines of High Charity, lies the heart of the Covenant Empire. Not the Noble Prophet Hierarchs, with their banter of the Great Journey. Not the fierce Elites, the Covenants mightiest warriors. But instead a race unseen by most living beings in the Covenant. They are the untouchable, the unseen, the undeserving. They live underground, beneath the shinning spires of the city. They are beaten, burned, and tortured. They slave and toil for their food, but are not given it. They are governed by the disgraced. They have no names. They are the slaves; and their only light in the darkness of life is the promised 'Great Journey'…

Chapter One


Sorah thought back to his glory days, as a warrior. He was Sangheili, one of the Prophet's blessed. He had once stood proud in shining blue armor. Now, he stood in his battered purple gear. Cowardice had earned him this place. He had fled the battlefield, away from the humans. When he had been found, he was punished. He was stripped of his armor, rank, and family name. He was not put to death. Instead, he sent to the slave chambers. He quickly became the leader of the Slave Guard. He now stood on a walkway, above his charges. There were at least a thousand of them. They were given no name. They were the slaves of the Covenant. They mined the ore needed to build machines, weapons, and vehicles. They farmed the food that fed the armies. They were lower than even the Unggoy. The typical height was between that of a Kig-Yar and a Human. They were about as strong as a human, and their body layout was remarkably similar. They had pale skin, large oval shaped heads, and large eyes. He felt a wave of ire wash over him at the thought of the loss of his honor. He frequently vented his frustration on the slaves.
Those sentenced to the Slave Guard were Elites who had been disgraced in battle. Brutes were usually assigned security tasks, but they were too bloodthirsty for this job. Unggoy were not trustworthy enough, and Kig-Yar were not strong enough. Thus the need for the Elites. It was a sentence almost as bad as death. It was devoid of honor.
The weapons given to those disgraced to the Slave Guard were simple. Each was given a whip. It was multi-pronged and quite painful. Available to the more distinguished were electrocution prods. The Guards always took joy in the use of them. And available to the leader was a plasma pistol. The armor of the Guards was different than the Sangheili Battle Suit. It was a deep purple mesh that covered the skin, and had silver armor plating covering the chest, legs, shoulders, back, and head. Only the leader had an energy shield. It was a Jackal shield, with the parameters changed. It was stretched into a long oval, protecting the Sangheili user's full body.
While the slaves were contained here, in-between trips to mining facilities, they were transfixed by the recorded sermons of the Prophets. They were repeated over and over, but the slaves seemed not to notice. The holopedestals for the guards had been broken for almost a week. Sorah walked above them on a passageway. He looked over them, searching for signs of escape. None had tried for decades, but because of the slaves' huge numbers and the small amount of guards, a revolt would be dangerous. He noticed one of them was looking at him. Transfixed. Not necessarily on him, but the plasma pistol clipped to his waist. He made the equivalent of a smile. He unclipped the pistol from his waist and held it in the air, examining it. Sorah glanced down to the slave. It's eyes quivered with fascination. Sorah locked eyes with it and let out a snarling growl. All the slaves near him dropped to the ground in terror. But the one stood, unafraid. He aimed the plasma pistol at its head and fired. The smoking body fell to the floor. The sticky sweet smell of burnt flesh filled the room. Suddenly the entire floor seemed to move. The slaves rushed in, eager for meat. They bit, clawed, pushed their way in, trying to get to the body. Sorah scowled in disgust. It was another day in the slave guard.
After his shift was over, he returned to the Guards Hub. The Guards stayed near the slaves, in exile. In the city, they were outcasts. Here, they had each other. The hub contained the living quarters for the guards, communications, and a gravlift. The only connection to the city was the small gravlift in the center of the hub. Supplies were sent down weekly. The slaves were transported to and from ships by way of large hallways, all along the holding chamber.
Sorah walked inside. The off duty guards excitedly called him in.
Ornu, one of the lowest ranked called out "The Prophet of Truth is going to speak!" he called out.
Sorah replied, "How do you know?"
"Bano has repaired one of the holopedestals!" he said.
"What has the Prophet to say?" Sorah asked himself as he sat down on a bench in front of the pedestal.
Sorah had walked in while the Prophet was in mid sentence. "-all of us, gravely concerned. The release of the parasite was unexpected, unfortunate, but there is no need to panic. In truth, this is a time to rejoice, a moment that all the Covenant should savor, for the Sacred Icon has been found! With it our path is clear, our entry into the divine beyond guaranteed. The Great Journey is nigh, and nothing, not even the Flood, can stop it." Truth spoke.
"The Great Journey! It is upon us!" shouted one of the young guards.
"Kill the demon!" Truth shouted with fury.
Sorah jumped to his feet. The holo blanked out.
Shouts of the parasite and the Demon filled the hub.
"Silence!" shouted Sorah. "We will not panic. Secure the grave lift." He ordered. They sped off to their assigned duties. The guards on duty were not called in. He walked over to a crate outfitted with communications equipment.
"Hello? Does anyone read me? This is Slave Guard Leader Sorah of holding chamber seven. I am requesting heavy weapons to reinforce our grave lift."

Warning- Hitch Hikers May Be Escaping Convicts: Chapter 2
Date: 15 October 2005, 10:58 pm


      "This is Slave Guard Leader Sorah of slave holding chamber seven. I am requesting heavy weapons to reinforce our gravlift." Sorah spoke into the communicator. He paused for a second.

      "I am the Leader of the Slave Guard, and I demand weapons be sent down here!" he spoke with the tone of a warrior, placing emphases on the word demand. A low voice answered his call.

      "How many Sangheili are with you?" the gravely voice of a Brute snarled.

      "Twenty one." Sorah spoke with frustration. He didn't like the arrogant tone of its voice, and he most certanly didn't like speaking with the filth.

      "Heavy weapons are on the way." The Brute snarled with a slight chuckle.

      Sorah had a strange feeling. Something about the way the brute spoke sent chills up his spine. He looked to the other guards. Most were young and had been sent here for the same reason he had. They were no warriors, and had practically no combat experience. A tone from the gravlift signaled incoming traffic. His hand fell to the plasma pistol at his waist.

      "Be ready." He said to his subordinates.

      They all looked at him quizzically. The youngest of them, Fasa, stood in front of the gravlift, his back to it.

      "Leader, what have we to fear? The demon will not come down here." The young guard said.

      He had spoken his last words with the attitude of an innocent child. A shadow fell over him from the gravlift. Its owner grabbed Fasa by the arms and bit down on his neck, ripping out a huge chunk of flesh. Blood sprayed from the wound, covering the walls and many of the Sangheili who stood by them. The Brute rose it's head and let out a roar that seemed to rattle the entire room. Its jaws were hideously tainted with gore. The effect the lighting had on its eyes made them look completely black, like some sort of monster.

      Sorah snapped on his shield raised his pistol. The Brute tossed away the body and leapt on another guard, ripping into him. He fired twice into its back, to no effect. The alien turned on him, eyes wide with fury. It rose to its full height, towering over Sorah. The monster's fur suddenly stood on end. Its scream of pain echoed throughout the chamber. A Sangheili stood trembling behind him, holding an electrocution prod. The Brute swatted him away like a fly, then pounced on him. A deafening explosion rocked the room. Sorah looked over to see three more Brutes leaving the gravlift. The captain held a brute shot. The leader then looked to his Sangheili. None were standing. Fasa's dead eyes stared up at him. Sorah turned toward the door and ran.

      He ran down the crisscrossing walkways toward the opposite side of the chamber. Every guard he passed he warned. He was headed for the service corridor that connected chamber seven to its adjacent chamber, number six. He had to warn others.

      When he reached his destination, the only thing visible was a small bubble shaped pod sticking out of the wall. Sorah clipped his pistol to his waist and hesitated. The dying cries of the guards caught his attention for a moment. He placed his hand in the middle of the pod. It hummed and emitted a soft green glow, then slid open. Sorah deactivated his shield. It wouldn't fit in the narrow passageway ahead.

      He ran at a full sprint down the tunnel. Only a faint glow lit his path. The hatch opened automatically at the other end, and Sorah reactivated his shied without braking stride.

      A guard called to him "You run like a Kig-Yar! Why the hurry?"

      Sorah had no time to talk. He could see the Hub in the distance. Everything looked okay. After several minutes he finally made it there. There were no sounds of battle. Nothing looked disturbed from the outside.

      When the Sangheili walked through the door he froze. Five pairs of black eyes were looked on him. Sangheili blood was everywhere. A quintet of Brutes was hunched over the mutilated guards, there claws covered in blood. Their captain rose and leveled his brute shot at Sorah with one massive arm. The Sangheili leapt out the door and off the elevated walkway, into the mass of slaves below.

      They darted away from him, scrambling over each other to get away. Sorah heard the orders of the captain and jumped to his feet. The hunt was on. He ran for his life and watched the slaves part in front of him. He could hear the Brute's snarls growing louder. He couldn't outrun them. Suddenly an energy sword materialized out of nowhere, right in Sorah's path. He threw himself to the ground as it hummed over him. The top half of a bisected Brute flew over him. He looked over his shoulder. The blade danced and shimmered, slicing the three remaining Brutes to pieces. A Spec-Ops Warrior faded into view. He kicked a dead brute in the face.

      "Vile beast! May the Prophets damn your race to death!" he shouted at the dead creature.

      The smell of burnt flesh filled Sorah's nostrils. His eyes darted to the slaves that encircled him. They looked ravenous.

      "We must go!" he shouted to the warrior as he rose to his feet..

      "Flee from a single Brute? You truly are a…" He began to snarl at Sorah, but he too noticed the expressions of the slaves.

      The two Sangheili stood back to back. Sorah drew his pistol.

      "I will lead the way, you keep them off our path." The warrior whispered to Sorah.

      He threw a plasma grenade into the crowd and rushed at them with his sword. The slaves swarmed in behind the two Sangheili and devoured the dead Brutes. Bits of flesh and fur flew up into the air while the starving creatures piled in around the bodies. Sorah and his companion arrived below a walkway. The slaves ignored them as they rushed in for food.

      "How are we to climb up?" asked the Spec-Ops soldier.

      Sorah drew out his whip and wrapped it around the walkway. He pulled it to ensure that it would hold, and then began to climb. The warrior grabbed him by the leg and threw him to the ground.

      "Know your place, coward!" he spat at the guard.

      The warrior put away his sword and grabbed the whip. Just as he lifted himself off the ground, the Brute captain tackled him to the ground. The soldier grabbed his sword, but the Brute slapped it away before the Sangheili could ignite it. Rage flooded Sorah's body. These beasts had killed everyone he knew. His 'family'. He wanted revenge.

      He stepped up in front of the Brute and overcharged his pistol. The monster had the warrior by the throat and was shaking him violently. It looked up at Sorah and roared, sending bits of spittle flying. He pointed the pistol to its face and fired. The headless corpse slumped on top of the warrior. He tried to shove it off collapsed. Sorah reached down and pulled it off him. The warrior picked himself off the floor, coughing. Sorah scooped up his sword and handed it to him. He took it and clipped it to his side.

      "Perhaps I was wrong before. I give you my thanks." He said.

He then walked over to the whip and pulled himself up.

Warning-Hitch Hikers May Be Escaping Convicts: Chapter 3
Date: 19 October 2005, 11:25 pm


      Sorah scrambled up the makeshift rope just as the slaves overcame their fear of him and rushed in for the meat. He unraveled his whip from the walkway and followed his new acquaintance. The warrior's jet-black armor made him look almost invisible in the dim light. The Spec-Ops soldier turned around.

      "Why do you follow me?" he asked.

      "You saved my life, my lord." Sorah said as he bowed to the high-ranking Elite. "I am at your service." Disgraced or not, Sorah respected the chain of command. Elites of this stature were near-divine.

      The warrior eyed Sorah over with disapproval. "You saved my life as well. We owe each other nothing." He said.
His eyes fell to Sorah's feeble weapons. "Besides, you are no warrior. You will die at my side, if you follow me." He turned and began to walk away. "Your life is not mine to command. The Prophets sent you here. It is their will that you guard this filth." he said without looking at Sorah, gesturing to the creatures below them.

      "What is happening? Why have the Brutes betrayed us?" He asked.

      The Elite sighed and turned.

      "I will not be rid of you until one of us is dead, will I?" he asked himself. "Follow me if you wish, but I will not stick out my neck to protect yours." With that he continued on his way. Sorah noticed he was walking away from the exit.

      "Where are you going? The exit is that way. In the hub." Sorah told the Elite.

      "If I did not know that, how do you think I came in?" the warrior said without looking back.

      "There is no other way in. Unless you came in through the loading docks." Sorah joked.

      The Elite only grunted. Sorah stared at him in disbelief.

      "Things are not as calm as they seem. Follow me and I will show you."

      Sorah followed him as he was told. There was a hole melted into the wall at the end of the walkway big enough for a Sangheili to squeeze through. It had gone through several feet of alloy. The Elite must have had heavy weapons. He ducked though it, and Sorah followed.

      On the other side of the wall Sorah expected to see several rows of large cigar shaped transports, used to ferry the slaves to worksites. Instead he saw a huge melted crater and a 4-meter wide hole in the wall covered by energy shielding. A crashed Seraph fighter lay a dozen meters away from the opening. Sorah guessed that was how the Elite had come in. He slowly walked around the crater to the hole. His eyes grew wide as he saw the destruction that lay before him.

      At least a hundred ships lay dead in space. Hundreds more fired lances of blue flame at each other that streaked past as if in slow motion, ripping through shielding and hulls and casting the atoms of crewmen into the void. Huge swarms of Seraph fighters weaved in and around the burning hulks of starships, snapping flashes of plasma at each other.

      Sorah looked back at the Spec-Ops warrior. He stood atop the Seraph fighter that lay bent a twisted on the deck, also gazing at the battle.

      He spoke softly "The fleet is tearing itself apart at the seams. The Brutes…" His hands curled into tight fists. "They are slaughtering Elites on almost all of our ships. I was stationed on the carrier Reverence when the Brutes attacked. I saw my leader die at the hands of the beasts…" he began to tell his story...

      "My unit was in the loading area of the ship, disembarking from our Phantoms. We were to be sent after the demon, reinforcements to Noble Regret's troops. But we were recalled. Not long after that we received news that the Prophet of Regret had been slain. Then the airlocks opened. My commander and only three of my comrades were able to escape. We were headed for the command deck when a pack of Brutes ambushed us. My commander fought valiantly, but there were too many. He ordered us to get to High Charity, and warn the Prophets of this rebellion. We could not make it to the drop pods, so we went to the fighter bays. We were each able to take a fighter, but the ship fired on us…I do not know whether the last of my comrades survived or not."

      He paused, looking through the stars as if searching for them.

      "How can the Prophets allow this?" Sorah asked.

      "The Prophets, in all their wisdom, were deceived. They have been showing the Brutes two much favor as of late. The beasts have become filled with greed." He said, turning to the fighter's hatch

      "I have lost all those dear to me as well." Sorah said softly. "Perhaps we may work together to-."

      "Bah! Do you know who I am?" He said as he leapt back on top of the fighter. "I am one of the Prophet's blessed! When they order strike teams to destroy this insurrection, I will be in the front!" the Elite cried out. "You will be in the back, the one to burn the bodies." He calmed down slightly. "But until the Prophets call us to order, you will assist me." Sorah should have known better. The Elite would never ask for help. But he certainly would 'allow' it.

      The warrior's features softened. "My name is 'Inka Tuolumee. What can I call you?" he asked.

      Sorah was taken back by the huge social gesture the soldier had shown him. "I am Sorah." He said. 'Inka certainly changed moods quickly.

      "Well then, Sorah, be ready for battle!" 'Inka said with vigor. He reached inside the fighter and tossed Sorah a laser Carbine. Sorah held the weapon with awe. His kind was forbidden from weapons such as this.

      "I cannot, if- "

      "Do you want to avenge your hoard or not?" he said, holding one of the weapons himself. He slid in a fresh energy cell, and then tossed Sorah a few of them. "You do know how use this weapon, do you not?" Sorah shifted his shoulders, the Sangheili counterpart to a nod.

      "Good. Then let us hunt!" he exclaimed.

      The two Sangheili stood in the Guards Hub. 'Inka gazed up at the gravlift. Sorah tried to keep his eyes away from the horror that surrounded him.

      "What is the area above the gravlift like?" 'Inka asked.

      "It has been years since I was up there. When I was last there, it was a small room with only a pair of Sangheili sent there from below. They were replaced with Brutes before this." Sorah said.

      "Let us ascend." 'Inka said. He stepped into the gravlift and was whisked away. Sorah took one last look around and wished he hadn't. He followed the Elite.

      'Inka eased to a stop at the end of the lift. A pair of Brutes turned toward him. "Fools." 'Inka thought. He tossed away his carbine and brandished his sword.

      When Sorah arrived at the top, 'Inka greeted him by tossing a severed Brute head at his feet. "They were not the fighters they thought they are!" he exclaimed. He was exuberant.

      'Inka retrieved his carbine before the two exited the small room. They were now in a brightly lit room 'Inka realised with shock that the lights were normal. It was his eyes. What he hadn't realised was how dark the slave chambers were.

      "I have not been in the light for years." Sorah muttered. "It…hurts." 'Inka also realized for the first time the discoloration of Sorah's skin. The lights in this area seemed like a sun compared to the ones in the chamber. Sorah blinked his eyes for several seconds. "I cannot see!" he cried.

      "I am sure that it will return to you with time." 'Inka replied. "Stay. I will secure the area." He said as he left the room.

      Sorah knocked over a crate. He tripped over it and fell to the floor. He bristled when he heard the doors open again. A foul scent filled his nostrils. He rolled over on his back and pushed himself against a wall with his legs. "'Inka? Is that you?" he asked cautiously. The stench was horrible, and yet slightly familiar. Cold realization hit Sorah like a stone. It was the smell of humans, but with something different. Sorah heard a growl-like gurgling. It was not from any creature of the Covenant, but something else. A fear filled him. An instinctual fear.

      "Die, parasite!" a Sangheili called out. Sorah came to his senses and snapped on his shield. There was the whine of a plasma rifle, then a soft thud. Sorah's eyes widened.

      "Who is there?" he asked.

      "Bah. Over so soon?" an Elite complained.

      "Who is that?" Sorah asked. He managed to stand. His sight was slowly returning, but it was not clear. He could make out a dim shape in front of him. He leveled his carbine at it, squinting. Before he could speak, the shape leapt in front of him. It grabbed the barrel of the carbine and jerked it from Sorah's hands. It clubbed him upside the head with it, and Sorah went unconscious.

      'Inka lashed out with his sword, slicing a Combat Form in half. It slumped to the floor with a slurping thud. A burst from a human weapon curved up his back. 'Inka swung around with his sword out, lashing off the arm of a former Elite. The limb fell to the ground with the finger on the trigger, the recoil causing it to spin sending rounds flying everywhere. Tentacles sprouted from the wrist of the creature's remaining arm and lashed at the Elite. 'Inka's remaining shields flared out. He grabbed the monster's wrist and snarled at it before he cut it in half at the waist. A door opened, and hundreds of Infection Forms poured in.

Warning-Hitch Hikers May Be Escaping Convicts: Chapter 4
Date: 29 October 2005, 5:52 pm


      Sorah awoke groggily. His hands reached out for a weapon, but he had been stripped of all of his. He could finally see at least. The sound of plasma fire made him jolt with surprise. He looked to his right and saw an Unggoy clad in green armor firing a portable plasma turret. An elite in crimson armor stood next to him, firing a plasma rifle. Sorah tried to rise but was knocked down by an unseen being. An elite spoke. "Leader, it has awoken."

      The red elite turned and looked Sorah over. "Who are you?" He asked over the continuous firing from the grunt.

      "I am the Leader of the Slave Guard, commander of holding of Holding Chamber Seven." He said rising to his feet. He stood strait up, and noticed that he was a little taller than the red elite. That might be in his favor. The red elite grunted and turned back to the door. Sorah looked at the elite who had knocked him down. He was a minor elite, covered in blue armor. In his arms was cradled a carbine. Sorah looked the room over. It was small, and had a gravlift in the center. The only door was covered partially with crates, with only a small opening that the plasma turret was seated in. The blue elite followed Sorah's gaze to the gravlift. "It leads to the upper districts." He said. The blue soldier then walked to a small opening at the other side of the room. He came back with Sorah's plasma pistol, whip, and shield.

      "Here." He said, gruffly dropping the gear into Sorah's arms.

      "Where is my Carbine?" he asked. As soon as the words left his maw, he realized his mistake. The soldier sent a blow to Sorah's head, toppling him to the ground.

      "You are lucky we did not kill you just for possessing it. And now you ask for it back?" he fumed. Sorah collected his things and backed away. He guessed the blue elite held his weapon.

      "Where is the Elite I was with? The Spec-Ops soldier?" Sorah asked trying to change the subject.

      'Inka bellowed a war cry as the wave of Flood fell on him. He slashed at them with his sword, swatted them away with his hand free hand, and even went so far as to bite one that got close enough to his jaws. He felt one slide it's tentacle into his spine. He would not die like this. The warrior saw a plasma rifle lying across the room. He ripped the parasite from his neck and dove for the weapon.

      The warrior solemnly pointed out the door. Sorah walked over and stood behind the Grunt on the turret. The hallway was almost completely filled with flood. Hundreds of rangers and dozens of combat forms all melted under the fire from the turret, but it seemed that for every one that fell with two more came to replace it. "Leader, we will be overrun. We must retreat." The blue soldier said. The red elite backed away from the door, still firing over the grunts head.

      "Go. We will seal it off from the top." he said. The blue elite stepped into the lift, followed by the red one. The grunt looked back in terror.

      "Me no want die! Help!" he cried at Sorah. The guard fixed his shield onto his arm, clipped his weapons to his waist, and stepped into the lift. The grunt hesitated, then dove for the gravlift, letting off on the turret's trigger. A thick tentacle wrapped around his leg and pulled him into the mass off flood.

      It seemed that Sorah would never stop ascending. When he finally reached the top, the two Elites nearly shot him. He was in another small room, with no idea where he was in the city. The blue elite shoved him out of the way. "Back." He warned. He primed a plasma grenade and dropped it on top of the closed hatch. It fused the hatch closed, and melted a good chunk of the bulkhead around it. The molten metal rose up in a bubble before it cooled, the force of the gravlift acting on it. Sorah thought about the Spec-Ops elite. He was surely dead, now a vile combat form. The guard turned away and followed his new companions.

      'Inka burned every one of the monsters that stood to oppose him. A combat form reared an arm back, tentacles outstretched. The elite burned off its arm, and then vaporized the body. He fired the rifle so feverishly that the front began to glow white-hot. Panels on the side popped open and the excess heat vented out. A new wave of somewhat dead-like creatures came at him. 'Inka tossed the rifle away and ignited his sword. He attacked with renewed vigor; killing everything he laid eyes on. Suddenly, the flood stopped coming. It was as if someone had turned off a switch. 'Inka's eyes darted to every dark corner, searching for anything to vent his frenzy on. The whole room suddenly shook under his feet. A loud bang came from the wall at the far side of the room. The room shook again, and the wall bent in towards the elite. 'Inka grabbed the last plasma grenade from his belt and held it at the ready. The wall thumped again. 'Inka wasn't going to wait. He activated the explosive and tossed it against the wall. It bounced off and landed on the ground, its light growing in intensity. A rumbling growl vibrated the fine hairs in 'Inka's 'ears'. The grenade went off, vaporizing a large portion of the wall and the numerous bodies that were plastered to it. The soldier cautiously advanced on the hole. A gigantic shadow suddenly burst from the darkness. It was bigger than even a Lekgolo. The huge being squeezed out of the hole and swatted 'Inka away with a massive tentacle. The soldier slammed against a wall and slid to the floor. He looked up at it.

      It was Flood, but none like 'Inka had ever seen nor heard of. It resembled a carrier form in shape. Several stalks of sensory tentacles protruded from a hole in the middle of its body, the same kind found on combat forms. It stood with a hunch but was still over 10 feet tall. A huge pair of tentacles sprouted from the front, extending almost eight feet before they sprouted into four smaller cilia that spread out like hands. It stood using them and a thick pair of legs. The joints on the legs were extended almost six inches out of their sockets, beyond where they looked like they should be on any sort of creature. The body was large and bulbous in the torso, and thinned out as it neared the waist. 'Inka noticed a peculiar skull protruding from the front of the creature, and ragged tuffs of hair covering the back. It was a Brute, horribly twisted by the parasite.

      The sensory buds on the front of the monster probed the room, searching for prey. 'Inka stood, slowly. It turned towards him, all probes aimed right at him. The beast emitted a low rumble then swung a tentacle in a wide arc, intent of smashing the elite. 'Inka rolled to safety, missing the blow by mere inches. It slammed into the wall, leaving a long indentation. The warrior noticed a pair of arms dangling out between the tentacles. They both held plasma rifles. He rolled to his right and picked up a dead combat form to use as shield. Plasma burned the limp corpse, vaporizing the extremities. 'Inka charged the monster holding the body before him. Plasma still hit his legs, but his shielding took the brunt of it. The beast swung a tentacle low to the ground. The black-clad elite hopped gracefully over the attack and swung his sword below his legs, lopping off the appendage. It fell to the ground; twitching and squirming like a worm. The monster screamed in anger. It reared up at its full height, almost fourteen feet tall. The soldier dashed at its legs but it leapt away with incredible agility. It turned around and leveled the plasma rifles in 'Inka's general direction, filling the room with super-heated gas.

      'Inka was a proud warrior, but he knew when he was in over his head. He ran for a nearby door and fled. The elite ran down several hallways and large rooms, cutting down anything that stood in his way. The monster pursued him, smashing through other flood forms to get at the warrior. 'Inka found himself in a hallway covered in burn marks and filled with bodies. It had only one exit at the end, partially sealed off with crates. Someone had made a stand here. He charged through the door and slid into the gravlift. A tentacle grabbed his ankle. It was strong. Strong enough to pull him down against the flow of the gravlift. "You will not kill me!" he shouted. He lifted up his leg and lashed out at it with the sword. The released tension shot him up like a bullet.

      He heaved a sigh of relief. The warrior, trained to be the best, was fatigued. He'd been fighting in hand-to-hand combat for hours, and after fighting that beast…something made him look up. Instinct perhaps. His head slammed into a closed hatch. He pushed against it, fighting to keep his distance. He ignited his much used sword and pressed it against the bubble that had been the hatch. It burned a hole in the middle of it, but the opening was too small for the elite to get through. The warm glow of the metal spread towards 'Inka's hand. It sent burning pain through it as the metal began to melt again. He pressed his armored forearm against it. 'Inka shifted his arm again when it began to mesh with the bubble. He moved the sword around, burning a bigger swath in the metal. The air grew hot and began to condense. Drops of water formed in the air and on the Elites body, only to evaporate into steam from the intense heat. 'Inka breathed heavily. He wouldn't last much longer. Finally the bubble of alloy burst, and the elite rose up. He floated in the lift for a second before his center of gravity shifted, then collapsed to the ground. His sword fell from his grip, and the failsafe kicked in, vaporizing the handle. He nearly passed out, but pure will kept him going. He rose to his hooves and was about to leave the small room when he noticed the end of the tentacle still grasping his leg. He pried it off and continued on his way. "I need a weapon." He said. He felt a sense of irony but didn't know why.

      Sorah fired his plasma pistol as accurately as he could. The shot rang true, and a Kig-Yar fell to the ground. 'Leader' as the red elite demanded to be called, clubbed an Unggoy to death with a plasma rifle. The blue elite, Bora, exterminated a group of Kig-Yar from atop a crate. "Come. We must continue." Leader ordered. They were headed for a gravlift that would lead them to the main city. But Brute-led forces stood in their way. Leader walked without caution at the head of their small group. He was a blind fool. A frenzied brute leapt from a pile of bodies and pounced on him, sinking its claws deep into the unarmored area between the elite's chest plates. Leader's chest split open, spilling his organs all over the place. He screamed his last outcry as the brute tore his lungs out. Bora slammed the butt of his carbine into the beast's rump. It snarled at him and replied with a backhand to the face. Sorah cracked his whip over the brute's back, drawing blood. It roared at him before it rose from the dead elite and charged at Sorah. He rolled out of its path and scrambled away. The Brute slid into a wall and turned to pursue his meal. Suddenly it screamed in pain. Sorah looked over his shoulder and saw its head rise high into the air and its eyes roll back into their sockets. There was a sucking sound and the beast slumped over. A black armored Sangheili stood in the doorway holding a brute shot with the bayonet out.

      Sorah dropped to his knees. Bora walked over to see the incident. One of his mandibles was bent at an odd angle, clearly broken. He cast a forlorn look at his commander before he saw the elite. He too bowed in the presence of the Spec-Ops soldier. "Excellency." He said. Sorah was in awe. That this being had survived the Flood, and spontaneously arrived here to his rescue, proved to him that the warrior must certainly be divine.

      "What areas do our enemies control? How did the parasite arrive here?" the exalted one questioned Bora. He stood.

      "The Brutes control most of the upper districts, and the Flood have captured and spread quickly through the lower ones." Bora replied. "It was the human ship that had followed Noble Regret's carrier. It was taken by the Flood. The ship arrived inside the city and spread the parasite."

      "We must reach the Prophets. The Honor Guard is many, but I fear that many may have been slain. You will both follow me." 'Inka ordered. The group continued on the path that Leader had led them, and arrived at the gravlift with minimal opposition. 'Inka ascended first, followed by Bora, then Sorah. They arrived in another small room. Sorah followed the two warriors out the door. Outside was the main city. Sorah gazed in wonder at it all. He had not set foot here for years. The Forerunner tower stood in the center of the city, shining in ambience. "We must continue." 'Inka ordered.

The Guard's Hub sat empty. The mangled bodies that filled it lay motionless. Small insects nibbled on them, then scattered at the sound of the gravlift's activation. A single flood carrier form arrived at the bottom. It probed the room for food but found nothing. But outside it sensed food. Lots of food. It fell to the ground and began to swell.

Warning-Hitch Hikers May Be Escaping Convicts: Chapter Five
Date: 4 December 2005, 1:46 am

WARNING-Hitch Hikers May Be Escaping Convicts: Chapter 5


      Braken sniffed the air. The stench of the Flood was growing, mixed with it the smell of Sangheili. Enemies were coming. He looked at a trio of Unggoy that were huddled in a corner. "Go. Look." He said pointing toward the door. The weak little creatures scrambled away from him. Once the Sangheili were gone, the Jiralhanae could do whatever they pleased. Braken looked forward to feasting on Unggoy. Most other Jiralhanae disliked the taste, but Braken liked 'chilled meat' as they were referred to. Screams from the walking meals he had just sent out alerted him. He lifted his plasma rifle and marched toward the door.

      'Inka sliced the lead the grunt's chest open and grimaced as the cold blood splattered against his face. "Even out of ammunition, the brute shot is a valuable tool." he thought to himself. The other two creatures stopped in their tracks, doubled around, and ran for cover. Plasma bolts flared on 'Inka's shields from the door. The soldier rolled to his left behind an octagonal crate.

      "Come out coward! I just want to play!" taunted the brute. Lances of green light burned through air just feet away from the elite's head. The enraged beast climbed on top of the crate and hurled itself at Bora. 'Inka lashed out with instinctual reflexes. A satisfying spurt of blood confirmed the hit before the brute even landed. It fell hard on the stub that had once been its right foot and rolled a few times before coming to a stop. 'Inka leapt the dozen feet over to the creature and sank his bayonet into the alien's remaining ankle. It would never be walking again. Sorah and the other elite advanced cautiously as the brute let out a rumbling, erythematic growl. It was laughing. "You don't even know, do you?" it chortled between hysterical snorts. "The last one didn't. He still believed the Proph-". 'Inka silenced him with the blade. Sorah regretted it, but didn't let it show. He wondered what it had to say.

      "Lets go." The Spec-Ops soldier ordered. The elites went through the doors, followed by the grunts. The new followers fell into rank without orders.

      After what seemed like two rotations of fighting, the trio arrived at their destination, minus the less capable grunts. The Sanctum of the Hierarchs. Sorah could not believe where he was. The ground he stood on was holy, and he did not deserve to tread it. He looked over to 'Inka. "Excellency, I can follow you no more. I cannot set foot here. I am not worthy." 'Inka replied without even a glance.

      "Then so be it. I release you from my servitude. " Sorah didn't move, but accepted the fact. He was no warrior. But before he could turn away 'Inka told him to stay. The Warrior looked the Guard over. He had few minor burns and cuts and a plasma rifle in his hand, but that was not all that was different from when 'Inka had first seen him. The guard now had a fire in his eyes. He had proven himself many times as a warrior. His tenacity was impressive. "Are you still willing to fight?" The black armored elite asked. Sorah flexed his shoulders. "When this is over, I will request a special favor from the council. Many Sangheili have fallen. We must fill the ranks. You have proven yourself as a warrior many times over, and I would support a request to the council to have your name reinstated and your status as a warrior replaced." He said. Sorah did not believe what he heard. Such acts were not unheard of, but were uniquely rare. Especially in these times, when the council tended to ignore the Sangheili requests. "Follow me if you crave your honor." He returned to his path, both followers in tow.

      The trio entered the foot of the massive spire unopposed. Bodies of all kinds littered the large room at the bottom. But one stood out in particular. It appeared frail and weak. At least the top half did. The other half, the waist and below, floated about 3 feet off the deck. Both halves were covered in intricate robes, which had been singed black by fire. The golden crown had fallen from its head and it lay several feet away. It was a Prophet, and it had been slain with a plasma sword. "Those beasts! They have slain Prophets, and with the sacred weapon of the Sangheili no less!" 'Inka bellowed. Sorah was mortified. Bore showed little emotion. Movement snapped all three soldiers to battle readiness. But the creature that stepped through the door was no enemy. It was an Honor Guard. The Imperial Protector eyed the soldiers over and then the Prophet.

      "Weep not. The treacherous filth died by my hand." He gloated. 'Inka's eyes flashed with wild rage. The protector, noticing 'Inka's fury, tried to console him. "Have you not heard what has happened? The Prophets, they have spurred the Brutes into this uprising."

      "Silence heretic. The Prophets have not betrayed us." 'Inka snarled. Sorah stepped back from his leader. He knew what was about to happen. Bora did the same. The two disgruntled Elites circled each other. The Honor Guard ignited his plasma sword.

      "Do you challenge me?" he asked softly.

      "To the death, heretic." 'Inka growled. In a flash both warriors were upon each other. The Honor Guard swung the blade down from above, trying to slice 'Inka's head in two. 'Inka swung his bayonet up to the Protector's wrist, cutting through both shields and sinew. Tossing away his brute shot with one hand, he caught the dropped blade as it fell in the other and plunged it into the Honor Guard's stomach.

      "You are blind. The Honor Guard, it has been replaced. By the Prophet's order." The dying warrior panted. "If you will not believe me, then look around." He pointed at a fallen brute slumped against a crate. Its stomach was cut open and its innards covered the floor, but the shining armor that adorned it was not tainted. The ornate panels covered its shoulders, thighs, and head. The traditional spear lay over its lap, bits of flesh still clinging to its end. It was blasphemy. Impossible. A mockery of the Sangheili and the binding Covenant. Surely the brute had merely stolen the armor. It was a singularity. The beasts were always attracted to things that shone. 'Inka was sure that neither Sorah nor Bora had seen it. They didn't need to know.

      "Vile heretic." 'Inka cursed at his brethren. He pulled the energy blade out from the body and let it slump to the ground. "Go on ahead and secure the area. I will join you in a moment." 'Inka ordered. His followers left the room. "No one must know what has happened." he thought as he pried the disembodied hand from his new weapon. The warrior clipped the sword to his waist and walked over to the brute's body. He cursed it in the name of the Prophets and ignited it with a plasma grenade. He then walked over to the dead Honor Guard. "Vermin." He said. "There can be no truth as you have spoken it." But at his heart he knew it was truth. And he didn't like it.

      Sorah eyed the shadows closely as he and his companion traversed the narrow passageways. His suspicions of an ambush paid off when a pack of brutes opened up on them as they passed through a door. A shotgun blast tore through Bora's shields and punctured his gut. Sorah was able to duck for cover just as an explosion destroyed the door. The room beyond was typical of those on High Charity. It had two levels. The upper one had four doors with a walkway that circled the whole room. In the center was a small hub with a gravlift in the center. The lower level was an atrium, filled with small trees and patches of grass.

      The lower ranks of the Covenant, namely Unggoy and Jiralhanae, commonly took human weapons as trophies. While it was not uncommon for Unggoy majors to carry human pistols, the brutes seemed to take to possessing bigger human weapons. Shotguns, rifles, sometimes even 'Es-Em-Gees'. And rocket launchers.

      Sorah charged through the newly formed crater and fired away with his plasma rifle. A lucky bolt struck one of the brutes in the face, toppling it to the ground. Sorah dove off the platform he stood on into a small atrium below. A brute jumped in after him. The guard whirled around to face the new threat just in time; his shield kicked back and flared, sending a shotgun blast back into the brute that had fired it. Sorah leapt up into a small gravlift in the center of the atrium and was lifted back up into the second level. He came face to face with the brute that wielded the rocket launcher. It screamed at him before it slammed the weapon against Sorah's head.

      'Inka charged through the smoke filled crater just seconds after Sorah. He leapt through the air, slicing a brute in half as he went. The elite advanced on the hub quietly. He heard a body, too light to be a brute, hit the ground. "A shame." he thought. The soldier swung around the wall and faced his opponent. The Brute stood over Sorah's body, shoulders hunched. It was in the middle of reloading the launcher. 'Inka swung his sword in a wide arc, cutting the rocket launcher in half and severing the brute's right arm. It screamed as it fell backwards into the gravlift. A plasma grenade hovered in front of 'Inka's face for a brief second, then shot up the lift. "Vile animal." 'Inka thought. Sorah coughed.

      He knelt down next to fallen guard. His skull had been crushed, but he was still breathing. He would transcend the physical soon. "I am sorry, my brother. You shall prosper in paradise."

      Sorah raised his head feebly. "Brutes." He muttered. "Many." His hand rose and a long, slender finger pointed up toward the gravlift. His hand fell to the floor. His body shook for a moment, then he passed on. 'Inka stood up and stepped into the gravlift. Sorah had given vital information.

      The warrior shot up through the lift at breakneck speed. He noted a large area melted out of the gravlift walls from where the plasma grenade went off. If the things ever returned to normal, which his faith told him it would, it would take ages to repair the damage. The hatched popped open, and an active camouflaged 'Inka burst into combat. Before the brutes at the top new what had happened, 'Inka had cut through all four of them. He continued on his killing spree, slaying seven more brutes before the alarm was raised. The elite deactivated his sword and pressed himself against a corner.

      Three squads of brutes entered from three of the many doors that lined the room. One of the creatures was just feet away from 'Inka. He sniffed the air. "It smells of Sangheili here." He said. He sniffed the air three more times, his head gradually drifting to face 'Inka. The elite watched the brute's eyes dart around, and he gloated inside at the face the brute made when he recognized what stood in front of him.

      A few feet away the captain of the brute pack turned around in horror as two of his pack was killed. He was about to scream for help when he himself fell under the blade. In combat, nothing mattered to 'Inka. Nothing but the fight.

      A few rooms away a brute frantically called to anyone on the comm. He had fought the flood and was scared. Because they were coming. In his haste he broadcasted on all channels.

      "Ship master, we are receiving a transmission from High Charity."

      "Ship master, plasma conduit five has been destroyed. Decks seven to five have been damaged." Another voice proclaimed.

      "Put it through." The zealot ordered. "And target the enemy carrier."

      A gruff Brute voice echoed through the bridge from the speakers. Something was wrong with it. It was afraid. Unusual, but after all, there were surely some Sangheili near the traitor.

      "-lood! The parasite- -here! All ships must ---troy any transp--ts coming from High--."

      "I doubt that message was meant for us." The zealot mused as his ship rattled from a plasma bolt.

      "Ship master, fighter bay three has been destroyed." One of the officers piped up.

      Another officer spoke up. "Ship master, the message is coming from the main dome. The Sanctum of the Hierarchs." The zealot looked strait into the eyes of the one who had spoken.

      "Send a lance of dropships. Have them be loaded with Spec-Ops troops." The shipmaster ordered. "They must be prepared for Flood."

      A final transmission came through the speakers. "Warning, --ch hikers--ay be escaping con-!." A scream of death punctuated the sentence.

      'Inka removed his sword from the back of the final brute will satisfaction. He stepped out of the comm room and looked at results of his work. Gore covered the room, and in several places the bulkhead had been blasted away. His eyes roamed up to the air buffers on the ceiling. Green smoke was steadily flowing through. The flood had been busy. So busy that the entire Sanctum would have to be vented to out to space if it was to be cleansed. 'Inka stepped out the only door he had yet to go through. It was a balcony with a grand overview of the city. For the first time 'Inka saw the human ship embedded in the side of the dome. A Phantom flew overhead, trailed by a pair of banshees.

      A flock of birds flew into view, banking and diving in the wind. 'Inka was transfixed on them. One of the banshees flew through them and clipped one of the animals with its wing. The creature spiraled down in a vortex of feathers. The rest of the flock descended on it and began to tear it to pieces. 'Inka walked up to he edge to watch it fall. It was gone before it fell fifty meters. But he didn't see that. He was distracted by the waves of flood crawling up the side of the spire. Hundreds, possibly thousands of combat forms. Mixed among them were the gigantic flood forms that he had faced before. This was a battle he could not possibly win. But he did know when his body was found, he would be identified and his name put down on the records. The Prophets would bless him and his linage.

      A low rumbling from the center of the city caught his and the flood's attention. It steadily rose into a deafening rumble. The great spire, the glorious testament of the Forerunners, was leaving. The Prophets were on that ship. 'Inka knew that. He didn't know how, but he knew.

      That familiar growl made him look over his shoulder. A wall of flood had encircled him. They were keeping their distance, wary of the sword the elite held, but any moment they would move. 'Inka picked a plasma grenade off his belt and turned to face them. With no small amount of shock he realized what they had been. They were the slaves. Hundreds of them, with more steadily pouring in over the edge. For several seconds neither he nor the flood moved.

      A trio of phantoms passed through the entryway at the top of the station. They passed within a dozen meters of the Forerunner ship, the crews inside at awe of the vessel's brilliance. They veered sharply to level themselves out and stayed near the top of the dome. In the lead ship, a Spec-Ops leader addressed the copilot.

      "Magnify twenty–five times on the Sanctum of the Hierarchs. The balcony on the far left." He ordered. The copilot obeyed and displayed the image on a holopanel. A single elite, surrounded by several hundred flood. Not just an elite, but a Spec-Ops warrior. "Order Group two to pick him up."

      "Yes comm-" he stopped in mid sentence at the horror he saw.

      The flood moved all at once. 'Inka fought harder than ever.

Warning- Hitch Hikers may be Escaping Convicts: Chapter Six
Date: 30 June 2006, 8:05 pm


      Ship Master Talo' Jamamee eyed the tactical displays in front him with an experienced and methodical eye. Seven of the ships in his battle group were molten slag, and the remaining three were now lost in the broiling chaos. Friend or Foe displays were worthless, as nearly every vessel in the fleet was shooting at each other. For all he knew he was shooting his own ships. His communication displays were filled with reports of uprisings and betrayal. Condensed data from almost every channel of the battlenet scrolled through the air in front of him, telling him of the bloodshed underway. One hologram showed the small three-dimensional image of the rebellion's leader. The brute, called Cruciatus, had proclaimed himself Supreme Commander of the Fleet, claiming he had been blessed by the Prophets to take the position. Talo' damned the beast for his blasphemy. The vermin was trying to rally the lower ranks of the Covenant to obey him, to rise up and overthrow the Sangheili. Jamamee was sure that the squad of Spec-Ops Elites that stood guard on the other side of the control room's blast doors would be enough protection. Not that the zealot needed it. If they fell, he was a master of the energy blade.

      An explosion rocked the deck below the Ship Master's hooves, interrupting the battlenet reports in front of him. A plasma bolt had sunk its way into a lower deck and was boiling through the ship. The casualty reports were still scrolling when Jamamee scowled. Almost all of the crew killed were either Sangheili or Harugok. A pity.


      A dropship swooped in low over the veranda scorching everything that moved in plasma. It's gravlift snapped to life for just a few scant seconds, scooping up the warrior's body, as well as several clinging infection forms, just as it began to fall. The body was passed to the front of the craft, where a pair of Sangheili descended on it. A small blade was produced by one of the pair, which was used to cut the spores off its chest. The writhing masses were dumped in a container where a small flash of light disposed of them. One of the two Sangheili removed the corpse's battered breastplate and placed it in the same receptacle. The other stowed its knife and slowly began to pull the penetrators out of the body, careful not to tear them and leave them inside. With a snarl the body's right hand rose off the deck and curled into a shaking fist, much to the surprise of the medics. 'Inka Tuolumee would not die like this.

      A white clad Elite, an Ultra, ignited his sword. "You will turn back, honored one. No one may enter the control room by order of the Ship Master." The one he addressed reached down and retrieved a plasma sword from his own belt, hidden in the ornate paneling and designs of his armor.

      "I believe I may be exempt…"

      The two Sangheili stared each other down for several seconds before the Ultra backed down. "You may enter." He grunted to the exalted being. The royal passed through the doors into the protected room full of pomp and circumstance. He ignored the poorly hidden stares from the crew as he arrogantly marched up the ramp to the command pedestal.

      "I have vital news for you, excellency." He addressed the Ship Master mockingly. "The Kig-Yar are actively rebelling, as well as the Yanme'e. Many of the squad leaders have been slain. The Unggoy are still loyal, but their allegiance is bound only by fear. The Lekgolo are of course loyal." The zealot turned his gaze on the newcomer with only a faintly hidden expression of disgust.

      "I am aware of those facts." The Ship Master motioned towards Cruciatus's image. "And I have been for some time. It seems we are at war," Talo' stopped before he called his royal guest a fool. "Honorable one." The Aristocrat grunted in acknowledgment. "The instigators are being gathered and dealt with accordingly, as well as any collaborators." Talo' turned back to his displays and continued to monitor the situation. They flickered as the cruiser took another hit.

      The trio of dropships abandoned their attempts to land at the Sanctum of the Hierarchs. It had been completely overrun by thousands of Flood, so many that in some spots it was hard to make out the structure itself. They arched through the sky, exchanging fire with a lone Banshee before turning to advance on the fallen human ship. All contact with the area had been lost; the last reports had screamed of masses of the Parasite swarming from the vessel. Perfect work for Spec-Ops troops.

      The three transports set down on the back of the ship itself, deploying their landing gear and locking themselves down. The Elites used several holes blown open by secondary explosions to enter the vessel.

      The troops split up and advanced through several scarred and crumpled hallways before the first group found evidence of Flood. Cautiously one of the black clad warriors placed a hand on the four-meter growth protruding from the wall. The reaction was heard even outside the ship. "What was that?" an Elite in the command group asked.

      The Leader shifted his head, both trying to get a better view of the dark hallway and to hear better. "Second unit, respond." He tilted his head again. "Second unit, respond." After a quick and somber nod he ordered his troops to advance.

      The Aristocrat was an honorary warrior. His armor was fashioned after ancient designs, and it was in many ways reminiscent of both the Arbiter's adornment and a Sangheili councilor's. A large silver crest extended from the back of his head, engraved with ornamental designs cast in blue. His armor was somewhat thicker than normal, embellishing the small protrusions on his forearms while not appearing too dramatic. The shields built into it were roughly as strong as the Ship Master's, giving him more than adequate protection. As for armaments, he carried the ceremonial energy sword hidden in an interlocking panel on his belt, along with an ancient and ceremonial metal dagger, more of an artifact than a weapon.

      He was a member of the Sangheili's royal clan; it was his ancestors who in the days of the Covenant's infancy had defeated a powerful enemy, its name forgotten but the memory of its destruction still legend to the lower castes. He was one of the last few remaining of his linage, and his seed had not yet been passed on. If he died, it would surely mean the end of the one of the greatest Sangheili clan of all time. On the other hand, the Aristocrat's every step seemed to raise Talo's ire. He pondered these facts as he contemplated killing his unwelcome company. He had stayed his hand once already when the Aristocrat had overridden his command. The results of his meddling had resulted in a pair of 'enemy' capital ships destroyed, as well as the Shining Brilliance avoiding a collision with a devastated frigate, but the pride of a Ship Master was not easily overcome.

      "We must pull out to the other side of the planet. Let our shields recharge. Find out who is loyal." The Aristocrat mused. He looked at Talo' expectantly for a moment before he again went over the zealot's command. "Move us out of this battle. Around to the other side of the planet."

      "Belay that order. We shall stay and fight." Talo' ordered. He turned on the Aristocrat and finally vented his frustrations. "This is not your ship to command. Your linage be damned, I am the master of this vessel." He turned back to his subordinates. "Continue on our course."

      The Aristocrat swatted Talo' upside the head, sending him toppling him off of the platform. The crew, always loyal to the master of the ship, was indifferent. Everyone in the room knew who the better strategist was, and they also knew who was giving out the orders now. "Report." The new master commanded.

      "Ship Master, boarding parties are inbound. Point defense systems are non-operational." One of the crewmen informed the commander. "We will be boarded in thirty units."

      The Aristocrat looked down on the enraged zealot who seethed at the foot of his platform. "Leave my sight, you disgraceful beast." He ordered. Talo' screamed at the noble and drew his sword. "I have no time for this," he sighed before calling the Spec-Ops troops into the room. "Execute this insubordinate filth."

      The Spec-Ops leader reluctantly squared a plasma rifle. "Commander, do not do this." The zealot pleaded. "He is a foo-"his words were cut short by a torrent of plasma. It took all five soldiers two full seconds to penetrate the Ship Master's shields, but only an instant to burn him away.

      "Ship Master, boarding craft are fifteen units away."

      "Deploy all remaining Seraph fighters and make ready for evasive maneuvers." The Aristocrat moved the battlenet reports off of the main view screen and replaced them with a larger display of the maelstrom. He quickly formulated a plan. "Move us toward the shipyards of the city. We will lose the boarders there."

      "Yes excellency."

      " Is that all?" The Ultra asked, remarkably nonchalant.

      "Yes, you me leave now. And take that body with you."

      'Inka groaned as he pulled himself off the floor of the dropship and groggily assessed its surroundings. He took one step towards the back of the craft before he collapsed against the wall, coughing up blood.

      "Mighty one, you must rest. You die if you move." 'Inka snapped the Grunt's neck with a quick backhand to the face. He looked at the remaining three creatures.

      "My weapons, bring me my weapons." He ordered.

      "You should must rest, Hero." 'Inka slowly looked over his shoulder. A Red armored Elite, the co-pilot of the craft, walked up the ramp from the cockpit. "You cannot expect to fight? You armor is not even functional!"

      'Inka gave the Elite a questioning expression. "Hero?"

      "Do you know how many of the Parasite you fell in the Sanctum? Even the Arbiter would be hard pressed match your kills. You may be declared a Zealot when this is over."

      'Inka closed his eyes and remembered. Yes, he had killed many. He remembered the Honor Guard, and his message echoed through his mind. "Maybe I shall…"

      The Shining Brilliance glided just five hundred meters above the surface of High Charity. It gracefully arced to port, avoiding a massive plasma bolt as it impacted the side of the city. Debris and molten slag mushroomed out into space, mixed with it vented atmosphere and hundreds of bodies. The cruiser continued to port, moving down towards the maze of structures that protruded from the bottom of the planetoid. It glided as fast as was safe to travel between several docking spires, some of them dozens of kilometers wide at the base. Hundreds of vessels flashed by in the view screens; some half-completed, some half-destroyed, and some attached with dozens of tubes and gravlifts for refueling. Small puffs of flame erupted over the bow of the cruiser as transport craft shattered over its bow. Engineering pods scattered out of its path only to collide with each other and the surrounding structures. Clouds consisting of thousands of soldiers in vacuum suits swarmed around the docks, the intensity of their fighting mimicking the ship battle around them.

      "Bring us down towards the bottom of the docks." The Royal One ordered. The Brilliance dived 'down' in space. It was forced to stay just meters off the docks, darting to port and starboard when needed to avoid obstacles. Behind it a hundred blue exhaust puffs flared to follow.

      "Ship Master, enemy ships are gaining. We will be overtaken in ten units."

      The Aristocrat touched a node on his helmet and spoke over the intercom. "Warriors, we will be boarded ten units." He paused, and then switched over to the fleet wide battlenet. "If these Brutes wish to dance in our blood, then by the Rings we shall let them! But we shall not let it be easy! No, for on behalf of every Elite that may fall, a hundred more shall rise to take his place! Now rise, Sangheili, rise! Finish the fight!"