Posted By: Firerwolf<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 28 September 2011, 2:04 am
Shar scooted a bit closer to her mother. She stared down at the photo album on her mother's lap. She smiled at the photo of her father in his military uniform. He stood tall in the picture, like the hero he'd been.
Her father had died a year ago when the Covenant killed him. She didn't remember much about her father, but her mother loved to tell her stories. She'd tell her stories of how he'd fought rebels in the outer colonies, saved civilians in the wake of insurrectionist attacks. The few memories that Shar had of her father were happy ones. Birthday parties, days at the park when he was on the planet.
Still, as she stared at the picture she felt that it wasn't fair. He'd been taken from her so early, before she'd really gotten a chance to know him as well as she wanted. She'd always figured that he would be there when she graduated from high school, when she started her career and found her way in the world, and when she got married. None of that could happen anymore. He was gone forever.
Shar pushed these thoughts from her head. Her father's death had haunted her since it had happened, keeping her up at night as her mind focused on her loss. She looked over to the next picture in the book. She didn't recognize the child in the picture. "Mom, who's that?"
Her mother frowned at the picture. "That was your cousin. She died when she was 6, long before you were born." She became silent and Shar looked up at her mother. The woman stared at the picture, her eyes unfocused as she was lost in the memory. Shar gripped her mother's arm a bit tighter and it snapped her out of her thoughts. She looked down at her daughter, smiling sadly. "I'm sorry dear. She was just such a sweet little girl. Her death was a tragedy."
Shar curled up against her mother. There seemed to be so many members of her family that were dead—cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. It almost seemed like there was nothing left of their family. Shar wondered if perhaps it was only a matter of time before she and her mother joined them, if there was any way to escape the fate of her family. Shar snapped up and looked out the window. Sirens rang through the air, sending a spike of fear through her. They could mean only one thing; the Covenant.
"Go pack a bag, sweetie. Only the essentials." Her mother forced her up and Shar ran through the house. She ran to her room where she pulled out the bag that she kept hidden away. Since her father's death her mother had made sure they would be ready for evacuations. They had drilled over and over what to do if the sirens went off, preparing for this day. She moved to her dresser and started to stuff her clothing into the bag. Her hand shook as she did, struggling to try to stay calm. Had fate finally caught up to her? Did they even really have a chance of escape? She stuffed the clothing in as tight as she could and zipped up the bag. Then she unzipped it, moving to her closet where she grabbed the kit that her mother has stored there. It had been her father's, a survival kit that included a knife, rations that wouldn't expire, and some medicines. Her father's words rang in her ears telling her that she never knew when the kit would come in handy. The six-year-old pulled her bag over her shoulder and ran out to the living room.
Shar looked out the window and could see the Covenant cruisers hanging in the sky outside. There were three of them, beautiful but deadly all at once. They were sleek like sharks and a looked to be shades of blue and purple. She'd never seen anything like the cruisers. Their lateral lines glowed with plasma and, although it sent fear through her veins, she stared in awe as the light spread forth, through space. Smaller phantoms descended toward the planet.
Shar's mother moved into the living room. "All right, honey, remember to stay close and don't stop running. We'll make it to the evacuating ships." Shar nodded and her mother grabbed her hand.
They ran out of the door and toward their car. Her mother stopped as a shadow passed overhead and Shar clung to her mother's arm. She looked up and for the first time saw a phantom up close. It wasn't as beautiful as the ships in the sky, more menacing than anything. Her mouth was wide open as she watched it move effortlessly through the air. Shar felt her mother's grip on her hand tighten and she was pulled toward the car with more force. The craft slowed and eased to a stop fifty meters away from them. A large tank was released from the craft, landing on the ground but hovering over the dirt. The wraith slid over the ground like oil over water. The cannon on the back rose up and glowed a soft blue.
Shar's mother turned and ran as fast as she could. The tank fired and Shar's world turned into a bright flash of light. She tumbled end over end until she came to a stop, five meters from where she'd started. Shar rolled onto her stomach and looked around. Her ears rang and her eyes hurt. She spotted her mother and crawled over to her, trying to ignore the pain from hitting the ground. Her eyes grew wide as she looked down on the vacant face of her mother. The light was gone from her eyes and the side of her face was burnt from the plasma. Shar felt tears well in her eyes and she shook her mother, trying to wake her. The skin was still a bit warm under her hand but it was growing colder by the second. "Mom? Mom, wake up!" She started to shout as she pleaded with her mother to wake up.
The tank moved, approaching the young girl. There were two large bangs and a pair of rockets sped through the air. They impacted the tank and it burst into a shower of blue fire and smoke. Shar turned, trying to figure out where the shots had come from. Long lines of smoke still hung in the air, marking their trail. She looked to the other end of the trails but found no one and nothing to have shot the rockets.
She was suddenly pulled up into the air and found herself in the arms of an armored figure. The person ran for cover and Shar clung to the olive green armor for dear life. It was hard to find a place on the cold metal to grip. Two more rockets sped through the air and impacted the side of the phantom, knocking it out of the sky.
Shar looked up at the figure that still held her in its arms. The sight of the MJOLNIR armor left her in complete shock. The golden visor shielded her from seeing the person's face, but she was pretty sure that it was a human. It wasn't a normal human, standing at seven feet—there was no way that a person could naturally be that tall. Another of the figures appeared in identical armor, though it had a set of scorch marks along the metal plates. The two were silent and Shar watched them, confused. She wondered why they were just staring at each other and not talking.
Finally, the figure that was holding her looked down at her. She stared up at the reflective faceplate, wondering what the person had in mind. It was a bit unnerving to her to not be able to see the person's face. "Are you unharmed?" The voice was gentle and feminine, not what Shar expected. This walking tank was a woman.
Shar nodded her head. "I'm all right." A third figure appeared and looked at Shar. It raised a hand in greeting, while it shouldered the rocket launcher. He must have been the one that destroyed the tank. Shar raised her own hand and waved to him. "Who are you?" The words slipped out of her mouth, though she was stuck by a sudden fear that they wouldn't like her asking questions. The last thing she wanted to do was anger any of them.
"We're soldiers. We're going to help you get to those evacuation transports," the female Spartan informed her. The calm tone of voice soothed over Shar's worries.
"Soldiers?" Shar felt much more at ease with that knowledge. She felt safe around soldiers—they would protect her. She smiled at them and nodded, clinging to the female Spartan.
"If you're done playing with the kids, can we continue? Let's get moving," the lead soldier said, his tone holding a hint of impatience.
"Be nice, John. She's just a kid, and she just lost her mother." The female soldier stood, turned, and started to walk toward the main town. It had been where Shar's mother was going to take her before the wraith had attacked them.
Shar was forced to hold onto the Spartan tightly as they took off at a full run. She didn't even know that people could run as fast as these three were. She watched as familiar scenes passed her—homes of friends, her school, stores that they visited. All of them had been attacked. Burn marks and cracks covered the walls where the aliens had come through and destroyed as much as they could. Shar wondered if it meant that all of her friends were gone, everyone she knew.
The soldiers didn't slow until they reached the edge of the city. As soon as they reached the buildings things went bad. They met a group of grunts that opened fire on them. The Spartan that was carrying Shar dodged to cover, away from the plasma. Shar heard the plasma crackle near her head and she shrunk in as close as she could to the protective grip of the Spartan.
The woman set Shar down in an alley, peeling her arms from the armor. "Stay here." The words were cold and forceful, and Shar knew that she shouldn't go against them. The Spartan then ran out, raising her rifle, and joining her fellow soldiers in combat. Shar heard the sounds of bullets flying and of grunts barking in rage and fear. She knelt down in the shadows and tried to remain hidden as she had been told. She could hear the sounds of more grunts and some bird like sounds of jackals down the street.
A shadow passed over and a grunt backed up toward her, trying to hide from the Spartans. The five-foot-tall orange-armored alien didn't even notice her. Here stood the enemy, the one that had taken her father and mother from her. The one that had taken her other serving relatives in the recent years, the ones that were trying to take her home. Her hand searched around on the ground and found a rock the size of an apple. She moved slightly forward and let her anger take control of her. She struck out with the rock, hitting the grunt's bent leg. The limb gave out and the alien fell to the ground with a surprised bark. Before it could react, Shar moved forward, smashing the rock into the alien's skull. Tears streamed down her cheeks as she thought of her lost family. Each hit echoed in her ears, imprinting into her mind. She hit the grunt until it stopped moving.
When the alien was dead, she stared down at the rock in her hand. It was splattered with bright blue blood. She dropped the stone from her hand and took a step away from the alien. She didn't feel any better. The grunt's death didn't bring back her father, or mother, though she liked to believe it might have saved another child's father or mother. She was cold toward the action. The grunt had deserved to die. She felt a weight in the pit of her stomach as she looked down at the caved-in skull of the grunt. She'd done
to another living creature. She wasn't even sure where it had come from. She'd never even killed an animal, always having fought to convince her mother to trap and release pest creatures rather than poisoning them or killing them.
A second grunt appeared, plasma pistol raised. Shar looked over at the alien. Her eyes closed and she waited for the shot to hit. It never came. Shar opened her eyes. A Spartan, armor splattered with alien blood, stood over the corpse. The butt of his assault rifle hit the alien's head, caving it in with ease. The figure looked at the child and then looked over as another Spartan arrived. "Kelly, keep an eye on that kid before she gets herself killed."
Kelly moved over to Shar and picked her up. She looked down at the dead grunt. "Did you kill that?" Shar nodded her head, her eyes unfocused, and she clung to the armor once more. "Nicely done, kid. I don't know what John's so worried about. Seems you can handle yourself." There was a cheery tone in the woman's voice that seemed odd to Shar. How could someone be happy about death? Still, something in her words set Shar at ease. This person saw what she did as a good thing, not a crime, not a terrible travesty. She didn't feel as bad about having taken the life.
The Spartans moved off, toward the space docks. They stopped 100 meters away from the transports that were taking civilians up to the waiting ships above. Marines tried to keep order as the women and children were moved ahead of others. The crowd filled the area and soldiers moved among the people, trying to grab children who clung to families. Mothers and fathers cried as they pushed their children away, toward the arms of marines, determined to see that their child survived.
Kelly knelt down and set Shar down on the ground. "Go join them." The Spartan motioned to the crowd. "They'll see that you get off the planet."
"What about you?" She looked at the three soldiers, wondering why they weren't going as well. She didn't want to leave them behind. They'd protected her, been so nice to her. She didn't want them to die as well.
"We have to stay. We're going to do everything that we can to keep the Covenant from taking New Harmony." Kelly looked at her fellow Spartans. "We have to stay and fight." The words were determined and Shar felt a pang of envy. She wished she could be that confident. Right now her world was shattered, and likely about to be glassed by the Covenant. She'd lost the last of her family and was all alone. She didn't know where she'd go or what the future would hold for her.
Shar wanted to stay, but she knew she couldn't. This planet was all that she had left and she didn't want to leave it to the Covenant. She didn't have the ability to fight like these Spartans did. They were big, strong, and had battle armor. She didn't have any of that. She nodded and moved over to Kelly, throwing her arms around the female Spartan's neck. She hugged her, then let go. "Thank you, Kelly."
"Any time, kid." Kelly stood up then took a step away from her. "Go on." She took a few steps back and stood next to the leader Spartan.
Shar hesitated, then look over at the lead soldier. "Thank you, John." She then looked at the final soldier. "Thank you, whatever your name is." She waved to them one last time and turned, running off toward the civilians.
"Cute kid." Fred commented.
Shar was swept up by the crowd and found herself lifted up by a soldier. She was moved to the front of the line with the other children. Shar ended up crammed into a shuttle next to another young girl with brown hair and blue eyes on one side and a black haired girl on her other side. They sat in the shuttle as it moved up to the ships above, just waiting to see if they would get blasted out of the sky. Somehow, they survived. The children were either reunited with their families or, if they were like Shar and had none, they were moved to an orphanage on one of the still UNSC controlled planets.
Shar had dreams of the three Spartans from that day forward. When the man had come to offer her a chance to get revenge on the Covenant, to become a soldier, she jumped at it. She was going to make the Covenant pay for each and every death that they'd caused, in her family and on all the planets they had glassed. When she'd seen Kurt, she recognized the armor right away. She knew that she was being given a chance to be like them. She was going to be like them, and stop the Covenant.