A Demon Never Dies-III of III
Posted By: Cthulhu117<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 17 May 2007, 9:48 pm
A Demon Never Dies
Valor is of no service, chance rules all, and the bravest often fall by the hands of cowards.
Ninth Age of Reclamation
Covenant Holy City Clear Morality
The hum of the reactor was not loud, yet it reverberated in Zara's bones. The throbbing in the center of her chest would not stop. She realized now that she didn't have far to go. This was as close as they could get to the reactor without fliers. Good thing, because she was fading pretty quickly.
The Jiralhanae had not returned. There was too much critical equipment in here for them to risk an ambush. Not that that would have stopped them; they couldn't have put that thought together themselves.
Zara could feel that she wasn't bleeding anymore. Now, she just felt empty, like all her innards had been surgically removed. It was not a pleasant feeling.
Her boots hit the floor at the wrong angle, and she stumbled. Naf's hand managed to hold her up, even as she threw out her hands to break her fall.
The noise made one of the Demons, the smallest one, turn around. It was the male with the soft voice. "Are you holding up, Major?"
Zara was so surprised that he cared about her that she took several seconds to form a response. "I will survive. For now, at least."
The Demon raised its shoulders and lowered them again. It was not a gesture Zara recognized, but she guessed it was a sign of indifference. "I think you had better stay behind," it said finally.
"No," Zara said flatly. "I will keep following you."
The Demon raised its shoulders again. "Have it your way, then. But I have warned you."
As the Demon turned around, Zara made her move. Lunging forward, she slammed the back of one armored fist into the base of the Demon's skull. It—he—slumped silently to the ground.
Somehow, the other Demons had noticed. The female fired three shots from her carbine, cutting Zara's shield to half power. Zara leapt at the Demon, trying to draw her energy sword, but the Demon gripped the barrel of the carbine and swung it at Zara's head like a club. Zara's shields collapsed, and she tasted blood.
With a burst of sudden, painful strength, she leapt back to her feet. With a powerful snap-kick, she knocked the female Demon off balance. Drawing her energy sword, she held it to the fallen Demon's throat.
Suddenly, Jay-zonn was there, twisting under Zara's blade and leaving a horizontal slash-burn through her armor and across her chest. As Zara instinctively recoiled, he brought an armored boot down on her shin, tearing the skin back. Zara cursed and swung her blade in a zigzag pattern, using 'Jnusree's Shield.
The Demon fell back slightly, shaking his head, and then swung his sword back into something that looked very suspiciously like 'Tumunree's Opening. If Zara hadn't known better, she would have sworn that this Demon was a sword-master.
As she continued her defense, concentrating on preparing to dodge, the Demon suddenly leapt forward and headbutted her in the chest. It felt like a Lekgolo had run her over. Worse, actually. Lekgolo didn't have this kind of power.
She blacked out momentarily as her head cracked against the ground. When she woke, 'Tefedee and Jay-zonn were arguing again.
"You seem to be failing to recognize the fact that she just tried to kill us," the Demon's icy voice hissed. "She knocked David out, and she nearly the same to Melissa. I will not allow that. She has betrayed me, and I am not going to spare her just because you say so, Elite."
Naf's voice was full of rage. "You would kill her, Demon? You will kill me first, then!"
"Silence," Jay-zonn warned. "You had better hold your peace. While we're arguing over her, your Grunts have all wandered off. Why don't you go find them?"
"We don't need the Unggoy now," Naf snarled. "We are nearly there. Just run ahead, plant your bomb, and get back here."
Jay-zonn seemed on the verge of saying something else, but then nodded. "I need to you to do it. For maximum yield, we'll want the self destruct on too. Go ahead, activate self-destruct with a medium getaway time, then put the bomb on the console. To activate it, hit the top left button, the center button, the bottom left button and the top right button. Understood?"
Naf's hooves receded. Zara became aware that the Demon was crouching next to her.
"Remember what I told you?" he whispered, almost inaudibly.
"I wasn't joking. It is time that this war was ended."
Zara nodded again.
"I will end everything."
"Now, get up. If you want to kill something, now is the time."
He pulled Zara to her feet. Zara could feel that she was bleeding again.
Suddenly, there was a howl. It was quickly repeated in chorus. And then, thousands of Jiralhanae poured into the room.
Jay-zonn walked over to the other Demons, pulling them to their feet. Zara could hear Naf's hooves again. Distantly, she heard his voice: "It's done. We have a tenth of a unit till the self-destruct goes." Zara did not put any meaning to his words. If the Demon really did plan to end everything, there was no point to when it would happen.
Jay-zonn nodded. Zara noticed for the first time that he seemed very tired. The other two Demons nodded with him, and then they removed their helmets.
Zara had never really looked at a human before. These things didn't seem natural in the least, even for humans, but she was not unduly surprised. All three were pale and scarred. The female had straight brown hair reaching to her ears. The other male was shaven, with dark brown skin and white teeth. But Jay-zonn was something strange. His skin looked like it had originally been some kind of lightish tan color, and his hair was still dark and curly, but he literally looked like a corpse.
His skin was so pale that it was almost blue, and his hair was plastered by sweat to his scalp. Although he was obviously well-muscled and looked very strong, his head and neck were covered in cuts and abrasions, not to mention the beginnings of a bruise on his forehead where he had headbutted her.
Three helmets fell to the floor, and Jay-zonn spoke in reflective, quiet tones.
"When we first came here, we promised one another that we wouldn't die faceless," he said.
Zara cocked her head. "What do you mean?"
The Demon looked puzzled. "I'm sorry?"
"I thought a Demon never dies."
Jay-zonn nodded, and a hint of a smile came over his face. "Yes," he said confidently. "That's right."
Belisarius, Alpha Jiralhanae of Clear Morality, looked at the ring of corpses choking the reactor control center. He shook his head and turned to his assistant, the Unggoy Uninu. "How did two Sangheili do all this?"
The Unggoy's voice was not as squeaky as most of his kindred; he was actually able to string a sentence together. "May I remind you, Excellency, there were Demons with them."
The Jiralhanae snorted. "They are dead, I presume."
The Unggoy nodded enthusiastically. "Yes, Excellency. One of them had an energy blade, however. We estimate he was personally responsible for the deaths of over a hundred of your warriors."
The Jiralhanae growled appreciatively. "A hundred? Amazing. Even one of our Chieftains could not do such a deed. A pity that the Demons are beyond redemption. We could do with such mighty warriors."
Uninu coughed and turned away, pretending he hadn't heard that bit of blasphemy.
Belisarius walked gingerly between the corpses until he found two humans in green armor. Demons, all right. Curiously, they wore no helmets. Belisarius looked near their bodies, hoping to find the energy sword, but he found nothing.
"Hmph. After a battle, intelligence goes first," the voice of the Unggoy commented. "The search teams report no energy blade to be found, Excellency."
"Know your place, Unggoy," the Jiralhanae barked, but there was no force in his order. The bodies were piled the highest near the reactor control terminal. Here, on the pile, lay the body of a Sangheili in black armor, manged beyond recognition. Belisarius wrinkled his nose at the smell, and started to tear the pile of bodies apart.
At the bottom, he found two corpses and two guttered energy swords, the hilts stained with black blood. One of the dead was a female Sangheili, a Special Operative of some kind. The other was a third Demon, sword still in hand, helmet off.
"In the name of Ash-Varus," Belisarius whispered reverently. "Those were proud fighters."
"Excellency! Over here!"
Belisarius was startled from his reverie by the sharp call of Uninu. Walking over to the Unggoy, he found him examining the reactor control terminal. The screen had been slagged by a plasma blast, but sitting on the floor near it was some kind of human technology, about the size of his head. He picked it up and frowned.
"Do you know what this is, Uninu?" he asked the Unggoy.
On the side of the device, he saw human letters printed. He read them: E R I N Y E S. They didn't seem to mean anything. Maybe it was an acronym?
The Unggoy fiddled with the device for several seconds before admitting, "I am not sure, Excellency. Perhaps it is some kind of homing beacon for their vessels?"
The Jiralhanae sighed. "I shall bring it to the Huragok for analysis." Taking it in his hand, he turned and received the surprise of his life.
The "dead" female Sangheili had just grabbed his left foot from behind. She was saying something, but he could not make it out. He felt sorry for her. Even if the Sangheili were heretics and infidels, there were terrible wounds on this creature's body. No wonder it had seemed dead.
"Have peace, Sangheili," he said kindly, crouching beside it. "You and your allies fought bravely until they fell. Even the Demons were great warriors. You have earned a righteous death."
Her voice was fading now. Leaning close, he tried to make out her words. "What's that you say?"
Exactly ten human seconds later, the first and last ERINYES tactical nuke ever made detonated.
Belisarius wondered, as he and all the rest of Clear Morality evaporated suddenly into a whiff of carbon, why someone dying would waste their time to say something like that.