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A Day in New Mombasa
Posted By: Jake Trommer<wedgefan@comcast.net>
Date: 7 October 2009, 11:15 pm

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A Day in New Mombasa
October 20, 2552
New Mombasa, Kenya

1130 Hours
      "Morning, Flagellus."
      "Ah, Kaylus, good to see you. The Packmaster assigned you to my patrol?"
      The blue-armored Jiralhanae Major gazed at the Ultra patrol leader. "That is correct; Packmaster Fiberous thought you could use reinforcements."
      Jiralhanae Ultra Flagellus swept his simian gaze across the deserted street, taking in the debris, the Unggoy members of his patrol playing their incomprehensible games, the Kig-Yar squabbling over a human corpse. Flagellus noted that this particular body looked rather succulent, especially after the roasting it had received from a Stalker team's firebombs; he'd have to pull rank on the Kig-Yar.
      "Reinforcements?" he demanded of his new underling. "My patrol is at full strength."
      Kaylus cocked his head, Unggoy-style. "Really? Then where is your Major, or your Minor for that matter?"
      Flagellus gave a derisive snort. "There is my Major," he replied, gesturing at a dead packmate, "and my Minor is around the corner."
      The other idly ambled over to take a look, and promptly returned. "Flagellus, he is attempting to load a grenade launcher!"
      "I know."
      Kaylus blinked. "That isn't standard issue for Minors. Does he even know how to use it?"
      "Danlo took it off of Major Stanlus's body, who am I to stop him?"
      Temporarily distracted by the violation of Jiralhanae regs, Kaylus blinked again. "He hasn't even had his maturity suffix added?"
      "How would you even pronounce it once he has received it? Danloh-us? Dan-louse?"
      A sudden series of explosions, the sound of Brute Shot rounds detonating, sounded from around the corner, accompanied by a sharp yelp.
      Flagellus pensively stroked his goatee. "Offhand, I don't think we need to worry."

1240 hours
      The patrol was sleeping, save for a few Unggoy on sentry duty, when the sound of jetpacks rent the air. The patrol leadership was quickly awakened as the airborne unit touched down.
      The leader of the airborne Jiralhanae was easily identifiable: his helmet had been covered by human scalps. "Ultra Flagellus."
      "Ginevus, it has been far too long!"
      "Indeed. I see your Kig-yar have feasted well," replied the airborne Jiralhanae, gesturing at the sleeping avians, who were surrounded by human bones.
      "Quite, but not before I took my share," deadpanned Flagellus.
      The airborne patrol leader gave a hearty laugh. "Brother, this actually is not a stop on my patrol, but I felt I should warn you."
      "Of what?"
      The humans have landed reinforcements via orbital drop. They have full helmets and armor---"
      "Demons?" Flagellus interrupted, gaping.
      Ginevus shook his head. "No, but they are not pushovers. And the regular human infantry are organizing. Be on your guard."
      Flagellus grasped his airborne comrade above the elbow, the Jiralhanae gesture of esteem. "And you, brother."
      "Then may both our hunts be rewarding," replied Ginevus, returning the grip. "Packmates! Activate your jump packs. We must be moving."
      The sound of jetpacks rent the air once more.

1350 hours
      Kaylus had taken it upon himself to poll the patrol's sub-leaders. "Anything that concerns you?"
      The Kig-Yar Major, an unusually---relatively speaking---contrite warrior by the name of Shaz, nodded. "We are running low on power units for our energy shields, Major. If a Phantom supply drop could be arranged, it would be quite useful."
      "How much longer can you maintain your defenses?" replied the Jiralhanae leader.
      Shaz cocked his head, thinking. "Estimate around ten hours, Major, but this looks like it's gonna be a long-term occupation---with a long-term guerilla war."
      "Agreed," said Kaylus. "Ultra Krakraz, what of your Unggoy?"
      The silver-armored Unggoy Ultra, one of the few in the Covenant Army to hold that prestigious rank, shook his head. "Same as Shaz; we need methane, and we need it fast."
      The Kig-Yar leader shook his head. "You gassers always tie up our supply lines---"
      With a grunt, Kaylus backhanded the Kig-Yar across the face. "I will not tolerate infighting within my ranks!"
      Shaz shook his head sharply. "Yes, Major. My apologies, Ultra Krakraz."
      The Unggoy made a noise, the source of the human nickname for his race. "I'm used to it."
      Flagellus came padding over to the command conference. "Well?"
      "The Unggoy are critical on methane, and the Kig-Yar only have a few hours left in their gauntlet power cells, Ultra Flagellus."
      "Very well. I shall send a signal to the air group, and see if a Phantom can resupply us."
      "Thank you, Flagellus."

1435 hours
      "Patrol Five," squawked the radio, "this is the Packmaster. Prepare to receive a special operations team."
      Flagellus sniffed contemplatively. "Packmaster, this is Ultra Flagellus. Can you identify the type of team?"
      "A Stalker squad, with a Kig-Yar marksman squad attached."
      This time, the snort was not meditative. The elite Kig-Yar snipers had been trying for ages, practically since they had joined the Covenant armed forces, to be classified as Special Operations, but had yet to succeed. This had resulted in something of an inferiority complex that made the already argumentative Kig-Yar even more quarrelsome, which had occasionally led to disaster when they were attached to Spec-Ops teams, much to the displeasure of their Sangheili commanders.
      "Acknowledged, Packmaster," said Flagellus. "Patrol Five out." After hearing the click signifying the transmission's end, the patrol leader barked, "Kaylus!"
      The other came hurtling up. "Yes?"
      "We have to prepare to receive a Spec-Ops team which will be using our patrol's locations as a base of operations."
      Kaylus nodded. "Stalkers? It has been too long since we have worked with---"
      "Stalkers," interrupted Flagellus, "and a Kig-Yar sniper team."
      The Major spat. "The Prophets' will be done."
      "Indeed. I do think that you will be happy to hear that I've secured a Phantom to drop off the supplies we need, and then some."
      "Really?" growled Kaylus. "Could you be more specific?"
      "We're getting a Huragok."
      "Thorn beast excrement."
      "No. Orders from the Chieftain: as many Jiralhanae patrols as possible are to receive Huragok so we can find any artifacts that may be within the city."
      Kaylus spat. "You really believe vermin such as these might have been in possession of holy relics?"
      "Yes...but they may not have known it."

1555 hours
      "Leader!" yipped one of the Unggoy. "Human dropship incoming!"
      Indeed, the hum of one of the human transports was already audible. Flagellus wasted no time. "Kig-Yar, activate your shields! Unggoy to the front! Kaylus, on me."
      The patrol moved into battle formation, the Kig-Yar troopers forming a phalanx with their shields, and the Unggoy frantically jamming crystalline ammo into their needlers. The sound of engines had grown even louder.
      Kaylus took a second to shoot the superior Jiralhane a dirty look. "You couldn't think to request a few barricades be dropped off with the Phantom?"
      "We haven't even received the first drop yet; a fat lot of good they'd do us," retorted Flagellus.
      A cry of "Humans!" and the increase in the humming's pitch signalled the arrival of the human dropship. It pirouetted about, its troop bay door hissing open. An eagle set against a star with the letters "NMPD" were visible on its rear.
      Flagellus frowned. "I don't recognize the markings on that ship. Nor that insignia."
      "Human special operations?" mused Kaylus.
      Black-armored figures, faces obscured behind polarized orange visors, emerged from the ship. The eagle-and-star insignia was visible on their helmets.
      "I'd say so," said Flagellus. "Patrol! Attack!"
      The Unggoys' needlers blazed to life, but the human forces were either better trained or luckier. Their projectile weapons spat shells, injuring multiple Unggoy at once. Growling, Flagellus hefted his grenade launcher, loosing several rounds at the human special forces. The projectiles impacted behind a group of four humans and detonated, sending their bodies flying through the air.
      By this point, the Unggoy had been overwhelmed, with only Ultra Krakraz attempting to hold the line, the rest screaming and panicking. One of the humans laughed before a needler barrage from the Unggoy Ultra impaled him through the throat.
      "Kig-Yar!" barked Kaylus. "Charge plasma pistols, then commence volley fire!"
      Kig-Yar Major Shaz echoed the command, but as the tips of the ten plasma pistols glowed green, a series of beam rifle rounds whistled out from nowhere, killing three of the four remaining humans.
      "Hold fire!" Flagellus commanded the unseen newcomers. "I thank you for your assistance, but I wish to interrogate this one."
      The response was a final beam rifle round through the last human's head.
      Flagellus spat disgustedly. "Very well, then. I take it you are the special operations team we were informed of?"
      "That's right," said a voice from behind the patrol leader.
      Flagellus turned around to discover a fellow Jiralhanae, clad in the black armor of a Stalker, standing behind him. "Just because you have Active Camoflauge does not mean you have to abuse it."
      The other, face hidden behind the visor and integrated laser sight of his helmet, cocked his head thoughtfully. "Funny, I don't see you wearing it. I am Special Operations Commander Hyrenus."
      "Major Flagellus, Patrol Leader."
      Nodding, the Stalker officer exchanged grips with the patrol leader. "As should be obvious, my Kig-Yar snipers have taken up positions on the rooftops. Any human who comes by will be pulverized."
      Flagellus snorted. "Very good. We should be receiving a supply drop soon, but it was called in before we knew you were coming. Is there anything you need that necessitates a second drop?"
      Hyrenus shook his head. "No, we are in good state. If you'll excuse me, we have patrols to run."
      Thus saying, the Stalker faded back into invisibility. Flagellus waited until he could be certain the other was gone, then shook his head exasperatedly.

1645 hours
      Flagellus was gnawing on a human leg, savoring the succulent flesh, when his Kig-Yar Major approached him. "Yes, what is it, Shaz?"
      "We just received a transmission from War Chieftain Fiberous, patrol leader. The Packmaster wishes to personally inspect our unit."
      The patrol leader yawned. "Prophets be praised we have an understanding leader. I heard that the packmaster for Patrol One insists his forces shine their armor when he comes by to inspect."
      Shaz jerked his head sharply up and down, the Kig-Yar version of a nod. "Indeed. I'm gonna go prep my men. If you'll excuse me, Patrol Leader..."
      Nodding, the Jiralhanae dismissed the Kig-Yar. "Kaylus! Get over here!"
      Kaylus looked up from gnawing on the human bone he'd found, and ambled over to his superior. "Yes, Flaegllus?"
      "The Packmaster is coming by to inspect the patrol. We're lucky Fiberous does not want us to spit-shine our armor, but see to it that the Unggoy are as presentable as possible."
      The Major nodded and moved off to find the rest of the patrol, shouting for Ultra Krakraz to have his Unggoy fall in for inspection.
      For his part, Flagellus made sure to scrape the human offal and blood off of his armor, and shine the blade of his grenade launcher. Even though his packmaster wasn't a martinet, it didn't hurt to keep one's gear in good order.
      It wasn't long before War Chieftain Fiberous, his bodyguard contingent of blue-armored Jiralhanae in tow, came padding up to the patrol's location. "Patrol leader!"
      Flagellus stomped up, and clapped his fists against his shoulders, the one Sangheili custom the Jiralhanae had seen fit to borrow. "Packmaster. It is an honor."
      Fiberous swept the assembled patrol with his iron-hard eyes. "Indeed. I see your Unggoy are looking inordinately clean...if you wish for a transfer to War Chieftain Kinellus' pack and Patrol One, let me know."
      "N-no Packmaster. Not in the slightest."
      The Chieftain nodded gravely, then broke out into raucous laughter. His bodyguard, sycophants all, looked at each other nervously then followed suit.
      "Ha ha ha!" laughed Fiberous. "It is all right, Flagellus. Your patrol has never disappointed me. Where is the Stalker commander?"
      "Gallivanting around the city looking for humans with his team, no doubt," responded the patrol leader with faint disdain. "He left a pair of Kig-Yar snipers to keep our area covered, though."
      "Did he?" replied the Packmaster. "Kig-Yar sniper team! Report down here to me now!"
      Two blue shots rang out from the rooftops, hitting just in front of the Chieftain. Flagellus jumped; he had never seen such insolence on the part of even the admittedly obnoxious Kig-Yar sniper teams.
      Fiberous's bodyguards looked at each other worriedly, readying their carbines in case the Chieftain chose to take offense.
      But once more, the Chieftain burst out into laughter. "A bold jest, my Kig-Yar comrades, but please, come down. I wish to inspect such excellent snipers for myself."
      Grumbling to themselves, the two Kig-Yar descended. Unlike their infantry comrades, Kig-Yar snipers wore no external identifications of rank, but the Major was easily identifiable by his massive head-spines. That, and his rude matter. "Yes, what is it, Chieftain?"
      Still grinning contentedly, Fiberous removed the ceremonial hammer from where it had been magnetically affixed to his armor's backplate, and slammed the blade down on top of the senior sniper.
      Blue blood splattered the patrol. The junior sniper team member actually looked as if he would faint---and considering the unique circulatory systems of the Kig-Yar, that would be no small feat.
      The Chieftain stared down the remaining sniper. "Let that be a lesson to you---I do not tolerate such flippant behavior within my ranks. Discipline must be maintained at all times, especially fire discipline. Am I understood, sniper?"
      The sniper's response was to simply collapse onto the ground with a dull thud, prompting a quickly stifled laugh from Unggoy Ultra Krakraz.
      Fiberous eyed up the body, then once more drove his hammer down blade-first onto the Kig-Yar's head. The laughter quickly died out. "Patrol leader, are any of your Unggoy or Kig-Yar trained in the use of a beam rifle?"
      Flagellous glanced back at Major Shaz and his Kig-Yar lance. The avian NCO bobbed his head sharply up and down and advanced forward. "Chieftain, I trained as a marksman before joining the infantry."
      The packmaster snorted. "So be it. Take your sniper rifle, and assume your position."
      Shaz nodded. "It will be done, Packmaster."
      Fiberous nodded. "It had better." The Chieftain turned to face Flagellus. "You run an efficient patrol, Ultra Flagellus. Keep it up, and there may very well be Captain's horns in your future."
      The other saluted. "Yes, Packmaster!"
      Grunting, the Chieftain took his leave, his four-man bodyguard team trailing in his wake.
      Flagellous watched him leave, then called over his second. "Kaylus, appoint a sub-major to command the Kig-Yar infantry. Nothing against Shaz, but he'll be too far removed from the scene."
      "It will be done, Patrol Leader."
      "And alert me when that Parasite-cursed Phantom arrives. We've been waiting far too long for it as it is."
      "It will be done."

1730 hours
      "Leader!" squeaked the Unggoy sentry. "Phantom inbound!"
      Flagellus roused himself from his slumber. "Get me the radio. Now!"
      The Unggoy scurried off to retrieve it, returning with the bulky contraption. "Here you go, Leader!"
      Growling, the Brute Major snagged the headset and pressed it to his jaw. "Incoming Phantom, this is Patrol Five leader. Identify yourself."
      Intercepted human transmissions had revealed that their pilots exhibited a remarkable degree of emotional control. This was not the case with the Jiralhanae. "Flagellus, you Flood-raped son-of-a-thorn-beast, is that you?"
      "Indeed it is, Kinetus. Do you have the supplies I requested?"
      "Indeed I do. Unggoy methane tanks, Kig-Yar energy shield generators, and one extra-special piece of equipment."
      "You can just say Huragok, Kinetus."
      "Perhaps, but it certainly spoils the drama. We're overhead now, activating grav lift for dropoff. You might want to have your Unggoy stand---"
      There was a dull thud, accompanied by an Unggoy's squeal.
      "---Back," the pilot belatedly finished.
      "Just deploy the Huragok and get out of there before I try to determine my grenade launcher's potency as an anti-aircraft weapon," Flagellus growled disgustedly.
      From the Phantom's purple-hued grav lift floated another purple object. Tentacled, with a monocular helmet fastened over its head, it hummed mournfully as it descended towards the patrol's position.
      "Enjoy, brother," radioed Kinetus. "I must be leaving."
      The Phantom floated away, leaving Flagellus to survey the object of his good fortune.
      Almost serenely, the Huragok floated over to the patrol commander, humming its indecipherable song. Flagellus eyed it up, then asked, as tentatively as a Jiralhanae could, "Can you hear me?"
      The Huragok emitted a new snatch of song, then bobbled up and down.
      "Good. Search the area; let me know if you uncover any relics."
      A new melody signalled the Huragok's approval, and it departed, the spot-lamp in its helmet monocular activated, sweeping the buildings.
      Flagellus's armor crackled, and he looked down in surprise at the energy enveloping his body and power armor.
      Kaylus, also affected by whatever this was, padded over, looking contented. "Overshield projectors," he explained. "Another upgrade they've given to our Huragok."
      "Impressive," replied his superior, a rare compliment. "See to it that it's adequately protected."
      "It will be done, Packmaster."
      Flagellus watched his newfound asset survey the area for a time, then walked off to see if he could find a human corpse the Kig-Yar had overlooked.

1850 hours
      Night had fallen, and the air of a ghost town had grown even stronger. In an attempt to liven things up, Flagellus called for a command conference.
      "Has the Huragok found anything?"
      Kaylus shook his head. "No, Patrol Leader, it has not."
      Flagellus nodded. "Sub-Major Grak, has your lance been re-equipped as needed?"
      The newly appointed leader of the patrol's Kig-Yar snapped to attention and gave the jerky nod that was a hallmark of his species. "All energy shield generators replaced as needed, Patrol Leader."
      "And what of you, Ultra Krakraz?"
      "Most of us have the methane we need, but that supply drop was short several canisters. I have six Unggoy who will die if we're not resupplied within the hour, including my Major."
      The patrol leader swore. "Very well, I'll contact the air wing. I recommend you salvage what you can from your dead comrades."
      "Already working on it, Leader."
      "Very good. Major Shaz, do you have anything to add?"
      "Negative, Patrol Leader," crackled the voice of the newly anointed sniper.
      "Very well, then, carry on. We shouldn't have to linger too much longer in this accursed place."
      Later, Flagellus would reflect, he probably should have chosen a less karmically attractive remark.
      The sniper round that rang out from the darkness slammed into Major Shaz's neck, nearly severing it. As the Kig-Yar collapsed, his death grip triggered his beam rifle, loosing two wild shots.
      "Sniper!" barked Flagellus. "Everyone take cover, now!"
      "Did you see where it came from?" cried Kaylus.
      "No! Did you?"
      "No, Leader!"
      "Floodspores!" spat Flagellus. "Sub-Major Grak, form a phalanx! Charge plasma pistols, stand by to commence volley fire!"
      Krakraz, still standing his ground in a display of the courag that had won him his silver Ultra's armor, looked curiously at his Jiralhane leader. "And what of my Unggoy?"
      Covenant military doctrine was clear on that, and Flagellus could not allow his grudging respect for the scrappy reptoid NCO to get in the way of good tactics. "Get in there and kill him. At all costs."
      The other nodded grimly, "Yes, Leader." Krakraz turned to face his squad. "All Unggoy! On me! We're goin' after him!"
      Flagellus watched the aliens toddle off into the darkness. "Patrol, hold here! We'll let the Unggoy lure him out."
      But the Unggoy had long since vanished into darkness beyond any Covenant member's ability to see through, and no one offered to support the admittedly bold squad.
      This time it was the rattle of a human sub-machine gun that tore through the night.
      "I have muzzle flashes!" cried Kaylus
      "Good," said Flagellus. "Krakraz, we have him. Get your men to cover."
      The Unggoy Ultra's comm was only static, but a single high-pitched wail sounded above the SMG fire: "You want some, human? Hunh? I'm going to rip off your helmet, and shit down---"
      Krakraz's taunt was interrupted midway through by a harrowing scream that raised the hackles on both the patrol's Jiralhanae.
      Kaylus was the first to recover. "Flagellus, we should pull back, call for reinforcements."
      "No. We can take him."
      "Flagellus, we've lost a third of our forces, we---"
      Kaylus never finished his thought, because that was when one of the four-wheeled human reconnaisance vehicles known as Mongooses soared over an off-ramp, into the patrol, and tore Kaylus's head off.
      The rider dismounted, his black armor blending in with the night, and opened up once more with his sub-machine gun in an attempt to try and suppress the Kig-Yar lance. His full-helmet's visor gleamed silver in what little light there was, and Ginevus's warning regarding human special forces that had landed via orbital drop came to Flagellus's mind.
      He had evidently caught the human soldier's eye, for the not-quite-demon ceased firing long enough to nod.
      Flagellus swivelled to face the terrified Kig-Yar. "Commence volley fire!"
      The ten members of the lance loosed their plasma balls, which the human narrowly dove to avoid. Removing something on his belt, he threw it into the midst of the Kig-Yar who were busy charging a second volley. Pausing long enough to flip off a mocking salute, he jumped back onto his vehicle and hurtled off into the night, mockingly honking the Mongoose's obnoxiously high-pitched horn.
      The grenade exploded two seconds later, taking out the entirety of the Kig-Yar, and leaving Flagellus and the Huragok the only survivors of Patrol Five.

1940 hours
      Fiberous shook his head disbelievingly. "Let me see if I understand this, Patrol Leader. A single soldier, a single, solitary human soldier annihilated your entire patrol, save for you and this Huragok?"
      Flagellous looked up at the Huragok, still hovering at his side. "That is correct, Packmaster."
      The Chieftain sighed, his ornate helmet swaying ponderously. "You're not the first; I doubt you'll be the last. We've been receiving reports all over the city of Covenant members who've had their entire unit by a single human who isn't a demon. We've been attempting to consolidate them into a hunter-killer unit, but we haven't had sufficient leadership...until now."
      The Ultra groaned. "Don't tell me. You want me to hunt down this human?"
      "Show me my team."

2000 hours
      Flagellus shuffled away from his hunter-killer team's assembly area, the Huragok still following, and shook his head. "This is ridiculous. Completely ridiculous. I doubt these soldiers were team players even in their old squad."
      The Huragok emitted a whistle. Flagellus had no idea what it had said, but he was happy to have someone to vent his concerns at.
      "I have a Mgalekgolo who lost his bond-brother, and who also happens to be so insane, I'm surprised his Lekgolo can still form a cohesive being. Two Kig-Yar snipers who are on the verge of killing each other, two Kig-Yar infantrymen who are scared shitless of the snipers, and five of the most cowardly Unggoy I've ever seen."
      The Huragok whistled again.
      "Yes, and you. For whatever good that does me."
      This time, the whistle had a distinctly offended tone.
      Once again, the Jiralhanae hazarded a guess at the meaning. "Yes, I know you augment the defensive aspects of my unit...it's the offensive bit I'm worried about."
      Flagellus's Huragok companion whistled mournfully.
      "Ah well," said Flagellus. "Orders are orders. Let's get the team moving."

2130 hours.
      The two Kig-Yar pointmen suddenly halted in front of a large archway. Flagellus gestured for the rest of his team to halt, then shuffled up to their position. "What is it?"
      "P-p-possible contact ahead," stuttered one.
      Flagellus peered down his carbine's scope. Yes, there was something moving up ahead in the plaza, near the comm booths. "Squad, take cover. Sniper One, Sniper Two, take the high ground, fire only on my signal. Kig-Yar infantry charge plasma rifles. Unggoy, arm Fuel Rod Guns, stand by to commence volley fire on my signal."
      The patrol's sole Mgalekgolo rumbled. Raynar Glar Tynod had lost his bond brother to the human, and had spoken only of taking his vengeance. Flagellus wasn't fluent in the language of Lekgolo, but he vaguely understood, "and me?"
      "You can go down there and have your revenge."
      Tynod grumbled with insane pleasure, and clanked down into the plaza, assault cannon already glowing green as it charged up to fire.
      But the human commando was not to be caught so off-guard. His silence sub-machine gun rattled to life, bullets slamming into the Mgalekgolo's armor. Tynod simply kept charging, his assault cannon spitting round after round.
      The human dove for cover behind a statue, and Flagellus could see a glint of metal as he drew another weapon. "Sniper One, what is that human arming?"
      "I don't have fucking eyes-on, you dumbass!" came the reply.
      Cursing the amalgamation of misfits he commanded, Flagellus switched over to the other sniper's channel. "Sniper Two, what has that human drawn?"
      "It's a goddam rocket launcher! Get that dumbass Hunter out of there!"
      Switching over to the all-hands frequency, Flagellus cried, "Tynod, he has a rocket launcher! Get out of there!"
      The Mgalekgolo made no reply, continuing to lob rounds from his assault cannon.
      "The Parasite take him!" spat Flagellus. "Unggoy Major, do you have a targeting solution on that human?"
      The Unggoy section leader yipped in the affirmative.
      "Commence volley fire!"
      Five fuel rod guns thundered to life spewing their deadly green blobs at the human.
      Two rockets roared back in response, slamming into Tynod. The Hunter's roar was cut short after the second rocket bisected him, his disparate worms spilling out of his armor. A follow-up from the human in the form of a firebomb ensured that the Lekgolo wouldn't be able to reconsolidate.
      That was when the fuel rod rounds slammed into the ground near the human's position, obscuring him in a fog of green haze.
      Flagellus barked, "All units, attack!"
      Beam rifles and plasma pistols came to life, dumping blue and green rounds into the area that the fuel rod volleys had hit. Flagellus, peering down his carbine's night-vision-equipped scope, let loose a few rounds of his own. This is for my patrol, human.
      "Team, cease fire!"
      Silence once more reigned in the plaza.
      Flagellus turned to face his two Kig-Yar scouts. "Make sure he's dead. Snipers, cover them."
      Chattering nervously, the two avians cautiously moved through the archway into the plaza, heads spastically bobbing as they looked in all directions.
      The Huragok, floating serenly overhead, whistled mournfully, and an energy pulse crackled over its armor. Flagellus breathed in inward sigh of relief as the overshield covered his armor. "Kig-Yar, report!"
      "No sign of---"
      The report was rudely interrupted by a rocket that slammed into the ground in between the Kig-Yar, sending the two avian corpses flying through the air. The Huragok gave a squeal of alarm as it bobbed to avoid one.
      Flagellus, for his part, swore. "Snipers, light him up!"
      "We can't fucking see him, Godsdammit!"
      A glint of silver shone from in the plaza: light reflecting off of the human's visor. It was facing in the direction of the Jackals. "Snipers, get out of there!"
      The warning was delivered too late; a rocket roared to life and hurtled into the snipers' nest. A pair of squawks once more rent the night.
      "Unggoy, fire!"
      The fuel rod guns once more thundered to life, sending their green blobs of death towards the barricade behind which the human had taken cover.
      Flagellus watched the conflagration envelop the concrete barricade. "Switch to needlers. Get in there and take him out."
      The Unggoy Major yipped a command at his file, and the Unggoy squad cautiously advanced on the human's position, needlers at the ready.
      "I'll cover you with my carbine," Flagellus said over the radio. "Just fire when you see him."
      Still making nervous noises, the Unggoy spread into a fireteam wedge, anxiously shaking their needlers to ensure they wouldn't jam up.
      A black shape eclipsed the light of a human comm console on an overhead walkway. "Major!" shouted Flagellus. "Up high!"
      "Fire! Fire!" shrilled the Unggoy Major, and the needlers blazed to life.
      A few of the rounds actually hit their target, and Flagellus was satisfied to hear a grunt, and see his adversary stagger.
      That satisfaction abruptly vanished when the human fired off a rocket at the Unggoy. An explosion and five pitifuls wails cut through the nighttime silence.
      The silver-mirrored visor swivelled in Flagellus's direction, and the human once more gave a mocking nod to the Jiralhane commander. Then he triggered his rocket launcher.
      Flagellus braced himself for nothingness.
      He was bound to be gratified, for nothing happened; the human had expended all of his rockets.
      Turning to face the Huragok, Flagellus barked, "Advance with me, so I can retain your shields!" Then he charged, firing off suppressive shots from his carbine, feet pounding the concrete pavement.
      The human unclipped a long-barrelled weapon from his backpack, and swivelled to point it in the direction of the Jiralhanae. Flagellus skidded to a halt too late; the sniper cracked, and the slug slammed into his armor, penetrating the overshield that his Huragok gave him. Growling, Flagellus threw himself behind a walkway ramp. "Take cover!" he shouted at the Huragok. "Or he will get you as---"
      Once again, the warning came too late. With a loud clang, a sniper round slammed into the Huragok's armor, activating the self-destruct mechanism.
      Flagellus had neither seen nor worked with a Huragok prior to this one, so he had ignored the issuing of the suicide devices. But this Huragok had proved an able and loyal ally...and now it was going to be killed by Flagellus's bretheren. There was nothing the Jiralhanae Ultra could do save watch the only other survivor of Patrol Five fly high into the air as the suicide armor acquired the best altitude for maximum dispersal of its explosives, the Huragok it contained squealing and squirming pathetically. The Huragok's monocular fixed on Flagellus, and though it could show no emotion, the Jiralhanae could tell the creature was begging for help.
      Flagellus sighted down his carbine scope and shot the Huragok in the head.
      The tentacles went limp, but the corpse continued to rise. The hum of the suicide device increased in pitch, then was drowned out by the explosion.
      Flagellus threw himself underneath the ramp, praying none of the bomblets hit him. Smaller explosions wracked the plaza, then the night was silent once more.
      Keenly aware of the loss of his overshield, Flagellus poked his head out from behind the ramp.
      The sniper round that cracked out took his helmet with it, along with his power armor.
      A rage came over Flagellus, more potent and powerful than one he had ever felt before. The anger at the loss of not one but two units under his command, the needless demise of his loyal Huragok, the friends he had lost, all burst to the surface. Hooking his hands into claws, he charged, screaming an incoherent cry.
      The next sniper round pierced his legs, sending him crashing to the concrete howling in pain. Flagellus clutched at his leg, trying to stem the tide of red and blue blood gushing from his femoral artery.
      Jumping down from his perch, the human approached Flagellus, boots lightly splashing in the water puddling the street. A black pistol was clipped to one leg. He must have swapped his rocket launcher for it, Flagellus thought.
      Groaning, Flagellus tried to bring his carbine in line with the human's head, but his pain-wracked body wouldn't let him. He was reduced to moaning incoherently as the human splashed closer.
      Will he eat me? Flagellus asked himself. We eat them, it only makes sense they would do it to us out of a sense of vengeance.
      But the human had other plans. He knelt on one knee next to the Jiralhanae, and swept the simian alien with his grim visor. He shook his head.
      Then he took off his helmet.
      He looks no different than any human I have seen, thought Flagellus. The man's hair was tousled and sweaty, no doubt from its time inside the helmet. But due to some trick of the light, the face remained as inscrutable and alien as it had behind the silver-mirrored visor, with no features discernable.
      The human shook his head, and drew his pistol.
      An execution. At least he means to make it quick
      But, once more, the human had other plans. Instead of a single shot to the skull, a quick death, he shoved the pistol into Flagellus' groin and pulled the trigger.
      The Brute cried out in pain as the human dumped the contents of the entire magazine into his crotch. Then continued to cry out as the human proceeded to hit him with the pistol butt in the same region. A savage smile spread over the human's face, and he slowly stood over Flagellus, savoring the results of his sadism.
      End it. Please. End it now.
      The human's pistol cracked once more, and Flagellus left this mortal coil.