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A Demon Never Dies-I of III
Posted By: Cthulhu117<azathoth117@gmail.com>
Date: 30 March 2007, 12:43 pm

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A Demon Never Dies-I of III

Honor is a fool's prize. Glory is no good to the dead.

--Darth Revan

Ninth Age of Reclamation
Covenant Holy City Clear Morality
Valley of Tears

      The six-winged leghia birds of the Valley of Tears squawked in pain as their peaceful lives were abruptly ended by a larger group of airborne visitors. The Covenant Banshees were not heavy vehicles, but they traveled too fast for anything in their way to survive. Their engines streamed trails of photons, phasing from indigo to violet.

      When traveling at that speed, however, the Banshees were vulnerable: they were weaponless.

      Special Operative Major Zara 'Tursamee planned to punish these careless Jiralhanae for their arrogance.

      She nodded to the four Unggoy as they struggled along under the weight of their fuel rod cannons. Wearily, they crouched and aimed. The Banshees were difficult targets at this speed, but they were also oblivious to the activity beneath them.

      All the Unggoy had to do was wait for them to start to move away . . .and then open fire.

      The muffled thumps of the fuel rods were neatly stifled by the soft hiss of the waterfall. The Jiralhanae never saw the bombardment coming. Two of the three Banshees were blown clean out of the sky, their purple armor melting and deforming under the heat released by the exploding crystals. The third pilot, the one in front, saw his comrades go down and swung his Banshee away, a second too late. The shot clipped his right wing, and his Banshee described a melancholy circle in the air for a few seconds before another shot brought it down in flames. It plowed up a furrow through the mud of the valley and came to a stop within the reach of Zara's arm.

      Zara laughed silently and spat at the wreckage. The Jiralhanae inside was cooked and broken, but that was no guarantee of death. She had seen the Jiralhanae survive being trapped under a crashed Phantom and survive, and she never underestimated them. All they did was underestimate her.

      She walked around to the cockpit of the Banshee. The Jiralhanae was dead by the looks of it, but she made sure with three plasma shots to the skull. She would never underestimate the Jiralhanae again, not since the Ultra Ksen 'Junovaee lost his leg in the Council Chamber while gloating over what he thought was the corpse of his foe. Before his second, Zara, could reach him, a sniper Kig-Yar hiding in the rafters had finished him with a shot to the head. They had shot down the sniper right away, but the particle beam rifles of the Kig-Yar were brutal and effective. The sniper had done his job well; 'Junovaee's left eye had been punctured clean through.

      Which left Zara in command. She was a rather junior officer, too; she wished fervently that one of the senior Sangheili had survived the ambush in the Hanging Gardens. Subcommander 'Nurutee had been the first to die; the Yanme'e had caught him in the open and killed him easily. The Officers, 'Xynyatyee and 'Munginee, had been torn to shreds a moment later as the Jiralhanae caught them out with a flurry of grenades. The Unggoy had been slaughtered as they tried to fight or flee. Four of the five Operative Minors had slowly been killed one by one as they fought their way out, leaving Zara and an older Minor named Naf 'Tefedee as the only members of the fourth reconnaissance team of the N'var Warrior Creche.

      Besides the two Sangheili, there were the four Unggoy and a Lekgolo named Jken Dsur Nax. Jken's bond brother, Knad Dsur Anur, had been killed just moments ago, when a Jiralhanae in an insane frenzy had come roaring out of the door behind them and torn its vulnerable midsection in half. Jken, in a rage that frightened even Zara, had crushed the Jiralhanae with its foot until it was barely recognizable. Then it had lapsed into a near-catatonic state, silent and barely moving.

      That left Zara with no real options and no real hope of accomplishing their original goal: namely, destroying the massive worldship Clear Morality. It was forged from the ruins of the Jiralhanae homeworld, and it held the Jiralhanae's main army. Xytan 'Jar Wattinree, who had sent them on this mission in the first place, reasoned that its destruction would strike an unparalleled blow to the Jiralhanae. And a blow like that was what they needed right now.

      The problems were as follows: Zara had no idea how they were supposed to effect the destruction, their team had been ambushed in every place they set foot, and the enemy was only getting stronger. At first, they had only seen the Jjrra clan of Jiralhanae: the most barbaric and brutal. They scorned armor, and often weapons too. Still, their thick, shaggy fur made them a chore to kill with plasma weapons.

      But they were nothing like the Nmmae clan, who wore armor not very different from Zara's own. They were hard to surprise and even harder to kill. Luckily, they were not numerous, and they were lacking in unit tactics. But they had weapons that Zara had never seen before, and that was more dangerous, almost, than anything else.

      As she breathed out, trying to hide her fear, a giant, sharpened metal slug, red-hot, flattened with a hiss on the wall beside her head. She looked wildly around for the source of the shot. It was a Nmmae Major, crimson-armored, twenty meters away, hiding behind a crate of plasma rifles.

      He was using one of the new weapons. They looked like the grenade launchers from a distance, complete with bayonets. But they didn't fire grenades. They fired enormous, superheated spikes at low velocity. Zara's shields could probably survive a hit, but she didn't want to find out. She rolled to the side, ordering the Unggoy, "Fire on the crate!"

      The crate was flung far away by the combined blast of the cannons; the Jiralhanae behind it was vaporized in an instant. His weapon, melted looking and barely serviceable, slid slowly to Zara's feet. She picked it up and tested its weight. Very heavy, but it looked very deadly as well.

      She clipped it to the Lekgolo's back. If it wasn't going to fight, it might as well carry supplies.

      A particle beam hissed through the space she was occupying. It hit her in the upper arm. Her shields flickered and sparked, then disappeared. She took the only piece of cover that she could find: the Lekgolo.

      There was another of the sniper rifle's distinctive hissing shots, and a particle beam pierced the Lekgolo's orange midsection easily.

      Jken Dsur Nax lifted its head and roared deafeningly. Not so much a roar as an earthquake, the sound stunned everyone present. The ground shook violently. The Lekgolo raised its arm and unleashed its gravity beam gun on the sniper's position, slashing the beam back and forth like a luminous sword.

      There was a sudden muffled scream from the unfortunate Kig-Yar, then the Lekgolo lowered its arm.

      A slug from one of the Jiralhanae weapons slammed into its armor. "Another ambush!" Zara heard Naf shout. "Cover!"

      Zara shoved the Lekgolo, trying to get it out of the open. If it died, they really would have a problem. . .and it would die if it stood here motionless for too long.

      The massive creature, wearing nearly a ton of armor, did not move. She kicked it viciously in the hip, trying to get it to snap out of its daze. The next thing she knew, she was lying on her side, gasping shallow breaths. The Lekgolo had slammed her to the ground with a single heavy blow. Her armor's fine black finish was cracked badly, and it felt like some of her ribs might have suffered the same fate.

      Naf grabbed her by the hands and dragged her behind a comm terminal. "Are you all right, milady?"

      "I'm fine," she grunted, struggling to her feet. "But in the name of Ash-Ilios, what is that Lekgolo doing?"

      Naf raised his head above the comm terminal for a second. His shields flashed brightly, and he ducked again. "It is currently rampaging through six Jiralhanae and beating them all to death."

      "Well, that's a start," Zara said.

      Naf laughed out loud. "It is indeed, milady. It is indeed."

      They waited together, behind the terminal, until the screams of the Jiralhanae died away. Jken Dsur Nax was standing motionless, surrounded by a ring of mangled bodies. Its armor and shield were stained black with blood. It was making a deep, contented rumbling noise. Until it saw Zara.

      With a deep rumble, it charged her. Zara sank into a tense crouch. Naf raised his carbine.

      "No. Do not fire," Zara said tightly. "I have to stop this. . .myself."

      The Lekgolo's fury was so great that it did not use its shield to batter her. It just ran into her with seven times her weight at a full gallop. Zara grabbed its arms and held on, pushing her feet deep into the ground.

      She wasn't strong enough. The Lekgolo lifted her by the throat and crushed her into the ground.

      "Stop!" she snarled, massaging her ribs. "Back to your lines, Dsur."

      The Lekgolo raised its shield for the killing blow, but hesitated. Then, at her words, it slowly settled, straightened, and calmed. Zara was glad of it. If she had completely failed to subdue it, there would have been another member of the team gone. Not to mention the Lekgolo.

      Naf reached down and took her hand, helping her up. "Your endurance continues to astound me, lady. Any Sangheili should have been killed by such a blow. You remind me what they say of the Demons."

      "And what do they say of the Demons, Operative?" she asked, checking her armor for damage.

      "Demons never die," Naf whispered. It was curious. The timbre of his voice was almost religious as he spoke of the Demons. And not without reason; the Demons were famed as warriors, even if they were the final enemies of the Covenant. It would have been an honor for Zara, or any other Sangheili, to die fighting a Demon.

      The door at the valley's far end opened again, and Zara drew her energy sword from her belt. But it was not a Jiralhanae that stepped out.

      It was, in fact, a Demon. His transponder registered as "CPO 1ST CLASS SPARTAN-149 JASON". Using what little she knew about the human transponders, Zara decided that this Demon's name was Jason. A short, meaningless name, fit only for an Unggoy. It rankled with her that she could not open fire right away. If the Demons were fighting the Covenant, they would be valuable allies.

      Switching on her human-language translator, she barked, "Demon! Do not battle us; let us fight together against the vile Jiralhanae!"

      A voice, cold and hard, with an incongruously gentle accent, answered her. "You're in revolt, Elite? Then just move aside. Get out of our way, and you don't die. You stay where you are. . ." An energy sword of his own sprang to life in his left hand. "And I send you on your own personal Great Journey."

      She snarled at him and raised her energy sword into the third guard position of the Geskelhi defensive form. It wasn't a very impressive style, but it looked impressive, and this Demon didn't know the first thing about swordplay.

      It raised its shoulders briefly, a gesture which she recognized as a 'shrug'. "Very well, Elite. I was planning to give you a death on your own terms, but instead, we'll do this my way."

      Another pair of Demons stepped forward. Their transponders read, "CPO 2ND CLASS SPARTAN-002 MARISSA" and "CPO 2ND CLASS SPARTAN 081-DAVID" respectively. Both carried carbines, and both carbines were leveled at her head.

      "Very well," she snapped. "We will aid you."

      The first Demon, Jason, cocked its head. "Help? What do you mean? Do you want to blow this place up?"

      "Absolutely," Zara shot back.

      "Our missions seem congruent, then," the Demon said with a chuckle. "Meet Grey Team."