Horror: The other side
Posted By: Andres<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 2 October 2008, 9:33 am
"Master! Master!" the shrieks echoed in his vacant mind long before his exhausted brain managed to emit a response.
"Yap?" he said with one eye half opened pointing at the hatch of the his Wraith, more sleeping than awake.
"They gots him!" added the small Unggoy, his arms twirling in the air as he announced the nuisance. "The Prophet approves! Ritual!"
Rituals, thought the warrior as he humbled something similar to a chuckle, bollocks the lot of them. In his mind they were something to honor the Forerunners, whom, he was sure, had failed to partake in the battle. It was the Field Master's, utterly secret, opinion that battles were won, in the end, by preparation, tactics and logistics, not the whims of the never but ever present omniscient beings. In the end all other things that not honored the warriors were, in the end, superstitions and that, eventually, made it clear it that it was his warriors, not the Forerunners, who deserved honoring, from even the lamest of his Unggoy to the mightiest Lekoglo.
"Very well," added the amber armored warrior as he shook away all obvious traces of tiredness.
"You would prefer, Field Master," said a nearby, deep voice emanating from a violent armored Sangheili manning the communications console of the Command Wraith, "not to honor the Gods?"
"Ah," said 'Wanname as he realized he was not alone. "You know me too well, Prima Ultra."
"Some might find that
sacrilegious," added the warrior who knew him too well. His comrade of a thousand battles and the Prima Ultra, the second most senior officer of Legion X, Piyo Uttics known amongst the cohorts, silently, as Piyo the Elder.
"Are you one of those, brother?" jabbed the Field Master, his hands wrapped around his helmet, fitting tightly around his skull.
"Perhaps," said the man. "But that is something I will take to my grave, sire."
Field Master Raus Ilych 'Wanname chuckled, a first in a few cycles. "A faithful servant of the Covenant and a Heretic, you truly are an oddity my friend."
"I would not go as far as calling you a Heretic," added the Prima Ultra of Legion X Ghosts of Sanghelios. "After all, your faithful servant followed you into battle against them if you recall."
The Field Master nodded as he stared at his friend, one of the many he had that were not of noble birth, something rare for a descendant of Councilors and Supreme Commanders. In retrospect, he thought as his helmet fell in the right place, they were a pair of oddities. "Yes, I remember, when wars were meant to be fought," this jab was truly directed at the core foundations of the faith of his Prima Ultra.
Uttics raised an eyebrow. "Do you not think, sire, that the humans deserve to be fought?"
"Ah, that is the question, my friend," he said, using wrapping his hands on the hatch of his Command Wraith. "The answer, I will not trouble you with." He lurched himself of the vehicle and in one swift movement he was standing on top of the purple glacis. In front of him was the endless prairie of vehicles and living modules that spread almost into the horizon, the temporary encampment of Legion X. "Don't be late for this nonsense, Prima Ultra!"
He jumped, landing on the ground almost on top of his faithful servant who squealed away. 'Wanname glanced at the small creature, his glittering eyes emanated so much happiness that it threatened to rub on the Field Master. "Have we not gots victory sire?"
"Yes, Yap, this is a victory," he added. Of sorts, he kept to himself.
"Then why is Master so grumpy?" asked the old Unggoy loud enough for a pair of passing Sangheili minors to notice. Four raised eyebrows met the two old friends as they passed by, stamping their chestplates as they saluted their commander.
The Field Master returned the salute as quickly as the tiredness that had replaced his vigor allowed him to. It was odd for junior officers, especially Sangheili, to show any kind of emotion in the presence of a noble or a superior. In any other Legion they might face the whip, but in the end, he was used to such ill feelings of his command style. It was hard to find a Sangheili that allowed such freedom of interest of his servants.
"Not grumpy, friend," he added just audible enough for the Grunt to hear, it was even rarer to find a Field Master that said the word friend in front of a lame unggoy. "Just tired and want to get this nonsense over. Is the ritual ready?"
"Yes Master! Even the Chieftain is coming!" said the slave. Immediately the deep blue pupils of the Sangheili fixated on the Grunt, a more than obvious sing that dwindled down the excitement of the presence of the Jiralhanae tribal leader.
"I guess he deserves a Triumph, he almost participated in the battle." Battle, he thought as he progressed towards the ritual, funny choice of word when regarding a massacre.
The conglomeration of creatures formed a valley with their bodies, a canal of sorts for the rite. As soon as all the chosen cratures from each cohort of Legion X were filed up randomly the ceremony began. A ceremony that disgusted the Field Master in charge. It started as always, two sangheili warriors appeared at the end of the passage one of their hands fixed tightly into the shoulders of the defeated enemy, a relatively tall human, ragged, beaten, and filthy.
A single push thrust the human into the valley of warriors, it's feet mingled together tumbling the rest of it to the sides to find one massive sangheili Major who slapped it across the canal to find a rarely stocky Jackal, who pushed and spat on it across to the other side. This was the demise of the human, mocked and spitted, the last walk, a walk of shame.
The human commander remained static during the ordeal, somehow untroubled as he was thrown like a doll from side to side, hindered by some invisible barrier from the mockery, far from terrified by alien creatures that surrounded him, that wanted to. Before he reached the end of his ordeal he was pinned on the ground firmly on the shoulders, shadowed beneath the Field Master.
'Wanname inhaled patience as he waited for the unnecessary blather. A second later a disembodied voice echoed through the lines. "So we present to you, our Forerunners, the commander of this plight to our great encounter."
Momentum built, echoes of offering and prayers filled the lines of the ceremony. In a second they all vanished as all eyes focused on the Field Master. 'Wanname gripped the handle of his sword gently, lovingly, his tired eyes fixed on the human. In a single, smooth move a silvery glimmer of hot light erupted out of nothingness, forming the unbreakable form of a two headed plasma sword.
He scrutinized the human before the killing blow, meeting eyes with one of the kind for the first time. Blankness had filled the blue pupils of the human, no lines of worry or regret scarred his untouched face, no traces of fear in his pose. His only visible form of submission was his knees on the ground, and he was there visibly by sheer force. 'Wanname's eyes traced across the battle weary features of the human, scrutinizing the blank expression, looking for a give away of any trace of panic.
His blade somehow fell to his side, an unexpected weight on his shoulders. This human was resigned to his fate, with dignity. Only one type of creature in the universe could achieve that small measure of peace before death, a warrior. The realization made it all even more difficult, he was about to slay one of his kind, not of his species, but of his trade.
The human officer raised his head, scrutinizing the sharp edges of the weapon that was surely to bring his demise. His blank expression suddenly changed, perfectly and obviously readable for the warrior and everyone near. It was an expression that was as unexpected as anything in the galaxy, a smile. Not mocking, the man was not crazy, neither was it daring. It was that of happiness.
The most decorated warrior in the armies of High Charity recoiled, suddenly realizing that this human was human was a great warrior. It was the last moment of its life, not spent with loved ones or comrades in the field of battle, but in the face of a glorified executioner. The human had neither waited or expected his last moment for a long time, yet he was ready for it. Raus 'Wanname remained inert for a moment, all the faces of his legionaries filled with eagerness their eyes lit up, waiting for that final blow that was surely and definitely to seal their victory... and somehow honoring the Forerunners.
'Wanname returned the gaze, filled with the exact opposite intentions. In retrospect, one knew exactly what was going to happen the other was filled with doubt. An eternity passed as one warrior looked at another until finally something happened. "My brothers, deactivate your translators." Only a second passed before every Legionare of the Ghost of Sanghelos obeyed the voice that they all knew, the old, hoarse voice that had led them to victory.
Just by thinking 'Wanname activated his vocal translator. It took him a moment to speak, to find the perfect words for the occasion. Only the sole question asked between soldiers was obvious, a simple greeting in the martial life. "What's your duty, human?"
'Wanname had not finished speaking before two things happened, two very different events engulfed the environment of the ceremony. Indignant blasts generated among his warriors, sacrilege repeated uncountable times in a matter of seconds and then the tall human commander recoiled with amazing surprise, the least thing he had expected had happened.
Before all the indignant cries and reprises along the parade manage to build they were cut short by one loud roar. Baton firmly in hand, the Prima Ultra of Legion X had stepped into the middle of the formation, his intentions clear to everyone. All voices fell silent under the pressure of discipline in authority.
'Wanname knew, even if his actions were sacrilegious in the eyes of his comrade, he would not tolerate any type of insubordination, especially if the principles collided. For him a defeated enemy was nothing more than filth in need of pruning, less worthy than the lamest Unggoy. A Field Master lowering his stature this low, was beyond unthinkable, but the thought of any type of mutinous behavior aimed at his sworn friend forced his hand and his will. He kept his baton high as he stared down the legionaries.
'Wanname remained static, his eyes fixed on the human that was soon to die, seemingly unaware of the silent commotion in the ranks of his enemy.
The human stared blankly at 'Wanname for a dozen seconds before his mental composure was regained, and an answer was given. "Colonel Pedro Ruiz, UNSCMC, serial number romeo-juliet-one-five-eight-two-zero-zero-zulu."
The standard response given by any interrogated martial human did not surprise the Field Master, it was routine. "Yes, human, I know from your insignia the rank you posses in your armies-" the human spat a chuckle.
"No army, splitchin," said the offended human. "Marines."
'Wanname grinned, the human military made the same distinctions as his own, ironic. He even found amusing the allusion the humans had for his kind, so true in their oddly formed eyes. "Where are you from, human?"
"You would like to know that, don't you?"
"Yes," was the honest answer. "But I am certain a proud warrior like you would never divulge such a secret." The man withheld his answer, his eyes fixed on the executioner. "I just have one question to ask you, with your indulgence."
The human returned a gaze that was as curious as it was insulted. "You are just about to destroy one of my people's world, and you have courtesy?" the human Ultra, the equivalent rank in the Covenant military, now exchanged parts with the Field Master, his eyes examined the features of the enemy carefully. The alien face was unreadable; the eyes however portrayed a different picture. This, splitchin, was truthfully asking. He nodded.
"Why, in the face of certain death, do you maintain your calm, your discipline and your honor?"
The human recoiled again, differently. For the first time an antagonistic emotion formed in the outlines of his face. "If it were you in my place, would you be different?"
'Wanname flinched inertly, the collision occurred solely in his mind, and soul. He felt his grip loosen around the hinge of the sword. "No, human. But in the end, when this war is over, your kind will become extinct. If think I would have hope."
The human laughed immediately, loudly, a forced snarl came from the Prima Ultra. "No, four chins, that's the point. This is the first world of my people you have found; you caught us in a cowardly attack." The human waited for a reaction that never came. "No, splitchin, someday a guy like me will show you heathen the human again braced for an absent violent reaction- bastards that you were wrong to mess with us."
'Wanname grinned once more, far more obviously than the first time. In all his experience as a warrior a single lesson was common with all battles, the enemy was always more alike than was likely to be admitted. Evidently the same was true for this human, a warrior more like the Field Master than anyone else. Throughout his years in the battlefield 'Wanname had learned that it was always the politicians, martial or civilian, who started the carnage.
The answer to the question of his Prima Ultra became beyond obvious. If it were up to him, the warrior, the Human War would have never started. In the end it was always the young warriors mangled by the sword, those innocent of origins the clash of civilizations. "It is sad that we meet this way, human. In other times we could have shared some thoughts, as students of war."
"War?" the human spat. "Is that what you call this? Your kind is about to cremate a few million of innocent civilians, women and children alike, from above. No, splitchin, this is not war, its genocide. You even think my kind will be extinct."
'Wanname remained silent, the logic of the human too clear for him to hear, to real. He had always pictured him self as more of a warrior, a very profound student of war, a real academic of everything related to the arms, a mythical warrior poet. The words honor, duty and courage were not just blank rhetoric indoctrinated to motivate warriors; they were the perspective on the reality in the battlefield. A moral compass, as it was, to be followed to the end. Yes, this human was right.
Throughout his service he had taken his Legions to the forests of Dosiac to quell rebelling jiralhanae, to the icy mountains of Balaho to pacify warring unggoy tribes, hunted through the stars pirate Kig-Yars and defeated the Heretics that roamed the twenty third age of doubt. Never had he enacted so violently on a kind, and never without a reason for war. Not only was the human right, the Field Master had been terribly wrong. "Yes, my friend, you are right. A warrior must obey his orders, no matter what of the personal outlook on the matters. Is it not?"
Colonel Pedro Ruiz shook his head slowly, his eyes closed. "No, splitchin, it has nothing to do with duty," the human returned his eyes on the Field Master's, his expression unreadable again. "And if your duty is genocide, then you are just a glorified murderer, not a warrior." The man bowed his head immediately. "Now, let's not waste more spit than we have too. I have my family to see again." A humble prayer emitted as a hum.
'Wanname inhaled hundreds of thoughts and emotions collided inside his very being. His elbow arched backwards, his upper body stretching as much as he was allowed by his encumbering upper armor. The sword plunged into the human Colonel, one of the humans whom he would never forget.