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Fan Fiction

The Last Ranger Ch. 3: The Last Week
Posted By: QuantumSheep<jasnash@optusnet.com.au>
Date: 3 July 2008, 4:09 am

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There were a few types of council chambers in the Covenant Holy City, the most notable being the ones for the High Councillors where the Prophets themselves resided. There were many other lesser known chambers, and the ones that Field Commander Shasa Refulmee was headed for were that of the Sangheili High Council, located in the same structure as the Prophet's High Council chambers.

Shasa was a veteran of the Human-Covenant war and the lesser known skirmishes which had occurred with the Jiralhanae several years ago. He was forty years old, had an excellent muscular build and a scar down one side of his chest, caused by a Jiralhanae wielding an energy blade. He was in his golden armour though so that scar wasn't visible.

It wasn't often he was called to meet with the Sangheili High Council and on the very few occasions he had done so before it had been for matters usually involving something he did that the Council did not approve. This was no different, although the type of matter was a new one for him.

The object of the matter was the twenty-one year old daughter of one of the High Councillors. She was young, attractive and was waiting for him in the corridor outside the chambers, dressed in elegant white robes. As Shasa approached she walked over to him and embraced him, burying her head into his chest.

The interior of he structure was like most other buildings in the holy city with the purple and blue mix of colours and made out of metallic materials. It was strangely silent inside the building, Shasa able to hear the warmth of her breath on his neck.

She looked up at him, a worried expression on her face.

"It was my fault…" She said, but Shasa interrupted her.

"Don't blame yourself for it," Shasa said, putting a hand on her slightly bulging stomach. He noticed that the pair of Honour Guards standing by the door were watching with obvious interest, but it didn't particularly matter.

"How long till…?"

"Five months," Liana replied, "I don't know if it will be a boy or a girl…"

Shasa shrugged.

"It doesn't matter," Shasa said, kissing her on the neck, "you shouldn't feel so guilty about all of this. I don't know what they have in store for me inside there, but hopefully they aren't planning on getting rid of the child."

Liana let go and put a hand to his face. She was almost twice as young as him and at first Shasa had never really thought it would work out, but it had. She had always had something for him since that first time they met about a year ago.

"I can intervene if things don't go your way," Liana said, "I'll be in there, you won't be alone."

"You shouldn't have to," Shasa said. He grabbed her hand and gently put it down from his face. "I think it's time I went inside now. Whatever you do, don't intervene. It'll cause more trouble, I'm afraid."

Liana looked solemn. Shasa knew he was doing the right thing, he knew intervening wouldn't be such a good idea.

One of the Honour Guards turned towards him as he stepped away from Liana. The Honour Guard saluted seeing his rank and Shasa returned the salute.

He recognized the Honour Guard as someone who had served under him several years earlier in the days when Shasa had been a Major. He couldn't remember the Sangheili's name but the Honour Guard certainly remembered him.

"Major Shasa!" The Honour Guard exclaimed. He gave the equivalent of a frown and paused. "I think I mean Field Commander Shasa…You do remember me, don't you?"

Shasa nodded. He hadn't been expecting to get caught up in another conversation with someone he knew in the same corridor.

"I'm Kelias, if you don't remember," the Honour Guard said, "I served under you during that mission to the outer colony…"

"Yes, I remember," Shasa replied. He watched Liana go through a nearby door in his peripheral vision. She was probably heading for somewhere close to the front so she could watch the meeting with the Councillors unfold from a much better position than if she had gone for the back.

"No mean to hold you up, sir," Kelias said.

"It's really no matter," Shasa replied. He wasn't in a hurry to meet the Councillors anyway and he always thought it was good to catch up with someone he hadn't seen for a while, in this case being several years. The Honour Guard had looked young then, only a Minor. If Shasa remembered correctly, Kelias had gone MIA during a skirmish with some Jiralhanae, the kind of Jiralhanae who didn't want to become part of the Covenant. Those battles were over now, as far as Shasa knew.

How Kelias had ended up from MIA Minor to Honour Guard was beyond Shasa but he was curious to find out. He realized he was running late now for his "meeting" (he thought of it more as a "trial", although he wouldn't have much of a defence) and he knew as well as anyone in his position that the Sangheili High Councillors weren't the most patient kinds of people.

"You were my first commanding officer," Kelias said, "you inspired me, Commander."

Shasa gave an unsure expression. Inspired? He never really thought he had that much of an impact on his troops.

"You see, my father had been the one to force me into the infantry," Kelias continued, "I never really wanted to join the military, but what happened on that colony when we were fighting the Jiralhanae…You inspired me to amount to something."

Shasa simply nodded. He was waiting patiently for the Honour Guard
to finish up the conversation but there wasn't much of a hint that it would end soon.

"Just a question," Shasa said, cutting off Kelias who had been about to speak, "you went missing during the battle. You were presumed dead…"

"I was lost in the jungles," Kelias said, "I was picked up a few days later by a reconnaissance craft. You didn't know?"

"No, I didn't," Shasa replied bluntly.

Kelias chuckled. "Do you remember how you saved me?"

Shasa gave it a moment's thought. He certainly couldn't remember, especially something that long ago. He had been thirty-one when he had been sent with a squad of fifteen Minors, simple infantrymen, to spearhead an assault on a Jiralhanae stronghold in a jungle on a planet on the outer regions of Covenant controlled space. Memories of more recent battles, mostly against the humans, came into his mind. None were helpful and a few weren't ones he wanted to remember.

"Tell me how I saved you," Shasa said.

"A Jiralhanae had me by the neck, energy blade about to slit my throat," Kelias said, "you came into the room and simply blasted the disgusting beast down. How could you not remember?"

"I've saved a lot of lives in much the same way," Shasa said. This was true enough and Kelias gave an unnecessary chuckle.

"I never got round to thanking you," Kelias said.

There was a pause. Shasa tapped his left hoof impatiently.

"Are you going to thank me?" He asked.

Kelias nodded.

"Thank you," Kelias said. He paused before adding, "I think you better go inside now, the Councillors are waiting."

Shasa nodded again. Now that he was finally away from the Honour Guard he realized that maybe he couldn't remember Kelias since he had thought that the young Sangheili was annoying, too talkative. This was especially true with what had just happened.

The double doors opened and Shasa stepped into an ovular room, purple-blue in the colour of its metals. Lights were embedded in the ceiling and by the walls. About five rows of seats were up on both sides and at the far end of the room. Most of these seats were empty, although the ones furthest at the front at the end of the room were occupied by about fifteen to twenty Sangheili Councillors, adorned in the elaborate headwear they wore and the decorated white armour that went with it. Some muttered quietly as he entered and shaking off the slight nervousness that threatened to throw off his concentration, Shasa continued into the hall, taking a position towards the front. He could see Liana standing at the front row, looking towards him with a worried expression.

Shasa recognized one of the High Councillors, Liana's father Relyxta. He was possibly the most powerful of the Councillors, being head of the Sangheili Council itself. It was because of him that Shasa and the other Councillors were here. He was glaring with some noticeable hatred at Shasa and putting a hand up to signal for silence he looked straight down towards the Field Commander and shook his head.

The rest of the Councillors fell silent. Shasa stood where he was, saluting in the typical manner.

Relyxta ignored the salute and brought his hand back down to his lap. He was sitting on the Supreme Councillor's highly decorated seat, a few holographic panels hovering above the arms of the chair, containing notes for himself about the matter and what to say. Relyxta was in his mid sixties, which was still kind of young for a Sangheili. He insisted on going into some battles despite the fact he was one of the most important Sangheili on High Charity. He had three sons, all of them older than his only daughter and all of them serving in some branch of military. He was protective of his daughter especially.

"Field Commander Shasa Refulmee," Relyxta said with noticeable distaste, "you do know why you are here?"

Shasa nodded.

"I do, Excellency," Shasa said.

"You do realize the extent of what you have done?"

"I do, Excellency."

Relyxtan continued to state the obvious which Shasa simply played along with. It soon came to the important parts of the "trial" though, when Relyxtan began to state out the actual "crime" itself. It was only a crime since his daughter was involved, Shasa knew this. However,
Relyxtan had the entire support of the Sangheili High Council since he was their leader. He could sway their opinions easily into his favour.

"For the benefit of the rest of the Council I will state your crimes," Relyxtan said, "your crimes which have affected my daughter in a severe and serious way."

Shasa nodded. Relyxtan was making it sound worse than it actually was. It was obvious the High Councillor didn't want him to go unpunished.

"You had a secret affair with my only daughter," Relyxtan said simply, "this had been going on for over a year, am I correct?"

Shasa nodded again.

"Yes, Excellency."

"You secretly stole away my daughter's virginity without telling anyone else," Relyxtan said, "and now she is to be the mother of an illegitimate child. That is something we cannot let go unpunished."

There was a bout of muttering from some of the other Councillors.
Shasa couldn't tell whether they agreed or disagreed, though. He stood up straight and looked straight towards Councillor Relyxtan, keeping a neutral expression.

"She is your daughter, Excellency," Shasa said, "which may lead some to think that this trial is merely to settle a personal matter of yours."
Relyxtan shook his head.

"It is Sangheili law…"

"It is because you cannot accept that your daughter has fallen in love with a seemingly unimportant Field Commander such as myself," Shasa said. Arguing with a High Councillor was considered a stupid move by some but Shasa suddenly felt determined to make his point.

"She and I knew that we would be kept away from each other if you found out," Shasa said, "you wanted her to bear the sons of soldiers. You would have her as one of those females that simply bear swordsman and who never get married, only the playthings of some ageing soldier like yourself for about a day so they could continue the so-called 'swordsman' gene."

Relyxtan looked annoyed, although Liana had told Shasa all of this. Relyxtan wanted her to become an asset to the Covenant, bearing sons of experienced soldiers who were swordsman themselves rather than get married and have a small family.

There was another bout of muttering from the other Councillors. They seemed to nod in agreement, at least some of them did as far as Shasa could tell.

"I can offer your daughter marriage," Shasa said, catching eyes with Liana. He smiled as she did and continued speaking. "A simple family life."

Relyxtan just shook his head, looking quite annoyed.

"My daughter deserves better than you for one matter," Relyxtan said. He was about to continue when a Councillor sitting on a row behind him stood up.

"I have something to add," the Councillor said. He looked down at Relyxtan, who looked offended at the interruption and then he looked towards Shasa.

"This trial is most definitely a personal matter of the Supreme Councillor," the Councillor said, "and I'm afraid that it has already become a farce. We must decide now and whether to continue or not, and if we do, Supreme Councillor Relyxtan will be asked to leave the chambers."

Relyxtan stood up, angry and frustrated. Shasa stood his ground, keeping a neutral expression.

"You can't do that!" Relyxtan exclaimed, "the Commander must be punished, at the very least for not asking for the permission of the father before becoming involved with his own daughter!"

The other Councillor paused for a moment, deliberating on the thought.

"It has come to the attention that we need experienced soldiers for something that has only just been created," the Councillor said, "the Rangers, they call it. I think a unit of its type could use someone like Field Commander Shasa, to be in charge of the troops that have volunteered."

Shasa wasn't sure what the Councillor was talking about but it sounded like something he could survive.

"I'll go with what the Councillor is saying," Shasa said, "regardless of whether you like it or not, Relyxtan."

Relyxtan was silent and looked down, watching Shasa from the corner of his eye. The other Councillor nodded.

"Then it is done," he said, "Field Commander Shasa, in violation of the most sacred of traditions and laws, will be demoted to Major and put in charge of the new 27th Rangers Unit."

Shasa nodded. He had been sure Relyxtan had had something far worse than demotion in store but the odds had been shipped in Shasa's favour and he wasn't about to deny them.

He nodded, glancing at Liana, he was smiling. He would be meeting her once this 'trial' was over, that was for sure.

Ariana opened her eyes, being woken by a low groan close to her head. Jeras had his arms around her and was holding her close while he slept quietly, only just stirring in his sleep as Ariana woke up. He had his head behind hers and she could feel his breath on her neck, which was warm and made her skin tingle slightly.

Jeras opened his eyes and held Ariana tightly. She turned around so they were face to face. She put a hand to his chest as he rolled onto his back, grunting and looking tired.

Ariana had always had a liking for him, ever since they had met. He seemed the nice, soft-spoken type and having gotten to know him she was sure about this fact. Jeras may have been gentle and understanding, but he was lazy when it came to something he didn't want to do.

Jeras went onto his side and put a hand on her. He put his head close to her and kissed her on the side of her mandibles.

"I must have had too much to drink," Jeras said, "I don't feel too well…"

Ariana smiled.

"No need to think about that," she said, running a hand down his muscular chest, "you're here with me and I do have some time before I have to leave."

Jeras smiled as well and planted her mandibles amongst hers, wrapping an arm around her and shifting so he was on top of her. Ariana giggled as Jeras began running his hands down her sides, kissing her chest and making love to her again.

Jeras slumped down into the bed beside her once he was done and lay silently for a few minutes. Ariana snuggled up close, resting her head on his chest as he started to rub her back.

"I don't want you to leave," Ariana said, breaking the silence, "these Rangers…I don't know Jeras, I just have a bad feeling…"

"Hmm?" Jeras sounded absent-mindedly. He obviously hadn't been listen.

"I said I have a bad feeling," Ariana said, "you should just stick to something else, like the regular infantry…"

There was a pause as Jeras thought about his answer. He didn't sound too keen on joining these 'Rangers' either but Ariana could tell he would still want to go.

"I have mentioned this many times," Jeras said, "I tried to join the infantry and will not try again. If they don't want me I won't bother trying to join up. It's a waste of time."

There was another long pause before Jeras continued.

"I want to amount to something," Jeras said, "I don't want to spend my life living in an untidy apartment and drinking. I want to show my mother that I can amount to something, and I will amount to something, Ariana, and nothing you can say will change my mind."
Jeras sounded a little frustrated so Ariana kept silent for now.

"I promised my mother I would amount to something," Jeras said, "maybe I could rise through the ranks, become a well-respected officer. It won't be easy but I can do it, I know I can."

"You'll most likely amount to be just another casualty," Ariana said, "it may not be because of the humans, they might not be anything you can't handle." She shifted where she lay, looking up towards Jeras' face. He looked solemn and deep in his own thoughts. "It's the Jiralhanae that I worry about. They aren't trustworthy…"

Jeras laughed.

"Them? Why worry about them?" He asked, "they'll be under control soon enough."

Ariana took a moment to answer.

"I don't want anything to happen to you," she said, "I'm just worried, that's all."

Jeras rubbed her on the back some more. He looked distant as far as she could tell.

"Jeras, are you listening to me?" She asked, "it doesn't look like it…"

"I am listening," he said, "and I do understand why you're worried. You're worrying too much, though. I'll be fine, Ariana." He paused and looked down towards her. "So, I think that's settled…" He trailed off as a familiar beeping sound broke his train of thought. He reached over to the bedside table and picked up the holo-messenger. Ariana watched as he read whatever had come through, his expression changing to one of slight amusement.

"Well, that was the officer I met yesterday," Jeras said, putting the messenger down and looking towards Ariana, "I'm in the Rangers, scheduled to be shipped out next week…"

Ariana was silent as Jeras milled over these thoughts. He was in the Rangers, the Major having done a thorough background check. He had made it out in the message that backgrounds didn't really matter, they were just routine. The Rangers needed everyone they could get. It didn't seem to be the most popular branch of military around…

"Are you sure about this?" Ariana said, "I just can't shake the feeling that something will happen to you…"

"Nothing will happen to me," Jeras said, "and it's not like I won't come and see you. Every chance I get I'll come find you, but I don't know if I'll get too many chances…" He trailed off. "You should just stop worrying. I'll be fine. The war might end before I finish my training anyway."

Ariana yawned and sat up. Jeras watched as she climbed out of the bed and started on her way towards the bathroom.

"Where are you going?" Jeras asked.

"I'm going to wash myself," she said.

Jeras paused, smiling.

"How about if I come in with you?" He asked.

"Not today, Jeras," Ariana said, the door sliding open as she approached. She stepped inside and locked it behind her.

Jeras was left lying in the warm bed, trying to figure out, for one thing, what he should actually do today. It would be another one of those days which he would spent hanging around in his apartment, drinking and not doing much else.

Thinking of drinking, he glanced around the room and found the bottle of whiskey from earlier yesterday sitting on the bedside table. He grabbed it and took off the cap, downing its contents and then storing the empty bottle away into a bedside drawer. At least it wouldn't clutter the floor in there.

He could hear the shower in the bathroom get started as he sat up in the bed. If Ariana was really that worried about him, maybe he should forget about this Rangers business, just for her sake.

He realized that he was having second thoughts about it now because of her. He shook his head, trying to figure out whether or not he should go through with it.

If it meant he would be making something of himself by going, he would do it. He was already getting tired of his life here on High Charity, Ariana was the only real thing to look forward to. If he left, he would barely be able to see her. There was even a chance he wouldn't ever see her again, so he thought that if he was going he would make the most of his time with her.

Jeras was about to get up when the messenger beeped again. This time it was an actual video link, so picking up the device he opened the link and saw a rather pleased looking Kenas on the screen.

"You hear the news?" Kenas asked.

"If it's about us getting into the Rangers, then yes, I've heard it," Jeras replied.

"Well, I'm happy," Kenas said, "nothing at all wrong with it. Soon enough we'll start our training and become the most elite fighting unit around…We're going to end up as very decorated officers, I can guarantee you that…"

Jeras simply nodded. Kenas was always like this when something he considered "good" happened to him, he would always become confident and beaming with pride.

"I wouldn't get so confident," Jeras said, going along with his friend's ambitions, "but if we're going to end up highly decorated officers as you say, then I guess I'll make my mother very proud of me indeed…"

"So, you're just doing it for her?" Kenas asked.

Jeras didn't answer straight away. That wasn't the only reason, but it was one of them.

"I'm going to show her that her only son can amount to something," Jeras said.

Kenas nodded.

"Whatever you say," he said. He paused and took a look at Jeras, frowning.

"I tried calling you last night," Kenas said, "but you wouldn't answer. Were you out?"

"Yes, I was out," he lied, looking up as Ariana opened the door of the bathroom and stepped out. He put a hand up, gesturing to her to stop where she was. He made sure to have a good look at her since she was standing there without any clothes on before turning back to Kenas.

"If you want to talk, call back later," Jeras said, "I'm going to be busy for a while…"

Kenas didn't have a chance to reply since Jeras simply ended the video link and put the messenger back down on the table. He turned to Ariana and smiled.

"Who was that?" She asked.

"A friend," Jeras replied. There was a pause before he added, "so, when do you have to leave?"

"In a few hours," Ariana replied, stepping over to Jeras and sitting down beside him. Jeras put an arm around her and held her close. He would make the most of whatever time he had left with Ariana for the following week, he would make sure of that.

There were very few Sangheili engineers around, they were something of a commodity now since the introduction of the tentacled Huragok. However, a simple floating gas bag of tentacles couldn't be taken out into battle and hope to have any chance of surviving, so there were still a select few Field Engineers for the battlefield work.

Ever since he had been young Sesha Qualemee had been fascinated with engineering, always taking up an opportunity to fiddle and fix something. His abilities may not have been as quick to fix something as a Huragok but they were almost as good as theirs. He wasn't well respected in his unit since he had never actually seen any action, always being forced to stay behind while the infantry went off to the frontlines. Not that Sesha cared so much, he wasn't all that into killing and the glory of battle.

Sesha was nineteen, bordering on full adulthood. He was slightly younger than most of the infantry in the unit and was often the one to be picked on and pushed around. Sesha did stand up for himself and had done so on numerous occasions, which kept the bullies at bay for a while.

Sesha was more athletic than he was strong, being the fastest soldier in the unit. Since he hadn't been on the frontlines he hadn't been able to put his speed abilities and engineering abilities to good use although the officers seemed to think he might be useful. Whenever it came to selecting soldiers for a mission the officers tended to pick the oldest, most experienced ones so Sesha was always left out.

He had never known his parents so they hadn't been an influence on him. He had been abandoned as a newborn in a city on Sanghelios, picked up by a disgruntled war veteran. This war veteran had been more or less a father to Sesha and had gladly introduced him into the unit as a regular soldier.

Sesha was the only one in the barracks this morning, sitting at the desk in the corner and working on a Covenant Carbine rifle. He knew what he was doing for one thing, attempting to upgrade it for his own personal use. It wasn't much of a challenge but it helped pass the time away. He had already upgraded the optics and so was working on the weapon's power output so it would use less energy when fired.

Sesha was dressed in the typical orange armour of an engineer, making it easy for him to be identified. He didn't like the colour but there wasn't much he could do about it, the last he needed was to get in trouble for not wearing regulation armour.

He was the only one in the barracks because the fifteen other soldiers had recently been sent off for the frontlines. Sesha, in his time spent in the unit, had watched soldiers come and go, both young and old. It was easy to tell who a new recruit was from their bright eyed look and excitement filled aura. They were also the type that had less chance of returning alive.

Sesha flicked a switch on the desk and a holographic panel appeared in front of him. Keying in a few buttons a holographic target appeared down the end of the barracks. Swivelling in his seat he raised the upgraded Carbine and fired, hitting the target in the bullseye. He grinned to himself at the job he had done on the weapon and back around, only to see a familiar figure standing in the doorway.

"Commander, I didn't know you were there…" Sesha began, but trailed off. The fifty-seven year ld Sangheili Special Operations Commander simply smiled at him.

"You have some talent with that weapon," Commander Terlas said. Terlas had been the soldier to find Sesha as an abandoned newborn and had been the one to raise him in his own manner. He had trained Sesha in the use of weapons and close quarters energy blades and had proved to be a more fatherly figure than anyone else Sesha had known during his lifetime.

"You don't need to call me Commander," Terlas said, "you never have needed to."

Sesha shrugged.

"I guess so," Sesha said. He put the Carbine back onto the desk and tried to determine why the Commander looked concerned all of a sudden.

"I'm getting a little annoyed at the way I'm always being left here," Sesha said, "it didn't seem such a major thing to me before but now…now it's just frustrating."

The Commander nodded, giving an understanding expression.

"I know how you must feel," he said, "but I don't have much control over who gets chosen and who doesn't. I've tried to get you selected before but I've never been successful…" He paused. "You must know that engineers like yourself are a disappearing kind."

Sesha knew that, after all he should know that. He was an Engineer and he knew as well as any other one that there were very low amounts of their type in the Covenant. It may not have been the case ten years earlier, but today it certainly was.

"You're probably wondering why I came here to see you," the Commander said. Sesha nodded in agreement and the Commander placed a hand on his shoulder.

"I've watched you grow up, Sesha," the Commander said, "you've been as much of a son to me as I have been a father to you. I think it's about time you made something of yourself, you're ready, you're old enough…"

Sesha wasn't too sure where the Commander was going with this but he sat and listened, curious as to what he had in store for him.

The Commander sighed. He looked concerned, downbeat even.

"It'll be hard for me to let you go, Sesha," the Commander said, "but like I said, I feel you are ready…You're a better marksman, a better melee fighter than half of the soldiers in this camp…"

"Thank you," Sesha said, "that means a lot to me…"

"No need to thank me," the Commander said, "I only speak the truth, Sesha. If it were up to me I would have already sent you into battle to claim glory for yourself…but my efforts to ensure that have been in vain…Which is why I've arranged you to be transferred."

Sesha clicked his right mandibles, the equivalent of mild surprise (and a raised eyebrow).

"Transferred? What do you mean?" Sesha asked. He wasn't too concerned about this but he had a feeling it meant he wouldn't be seeing the Commander for a long time.

"I'm transferring you over to the Rangers," the Commander said, "they need an engineer like you, they have no need for a useless Huragok, especially in battle. You're a necessity to this Rangers unit, so you'll be well respected."

Sesha hadn't really heard much about the Rangers, although he had a feeling the Commander would enlighten him on the matter a bit.

"I doubt you have heard much about them," the Commander said, as if reading Sesha's mind. Sesha nodded.

"They're a specially trained unit of troops dedicated to doing the most difficult and dangerous of missions," the Commander said, "the training course itself is very tough, very harsh, much harder than training for the regular infantry. I feel you'll do fine, though.

"The missions themselves will involve fighting in the vacuum of space itself, with the appropriate equipment of course…The idea is for Rangers to be dropped onto the exterior, of, say…a human space station," the Commander explained, "they're to fight their way inside and disable as many important systems as possible and secure a suitable landing area for the main boarding party.

"Rangers are also used for spear heading ground attacks, which is a dangerous prospect in itself but very valuable for the main infantry force. Rangers secure enemy occupied areas ahead of the main force to save on casualties and make the war a little bit easier."

Sesha took this all in as the Commander explained it. These Rangers sounded dangerous, but he was willing to accept the transfer. He would no longer spend his time sitting around in a barracks upgrading weapons for himself, weapons that he probably would never use himself. This time he would make something of himself, become an officer in the most suicidal group of Sangheili around.

"Do you want to go, Sesha?" The Commander asked, "I'm not making you leave…"

"I'll go," Sesha replied without hesitation.

The Commander nodded.

"You should start packing your belongings. You'll be leaving in about a week, but I've arranged for you to stay in an apartment near the spaceport where the ship will be leaving. Take the chance to make friends with other recruits who may be there. You'll need all the friends you can get, especially in a unit such as the Rangers," he said. Sesha stood up and saluted.

"I'll make you proud, sir," Sesha said.

"Just do what you feel is right and you'll get through it fine," the Commander said, "I look forward to seeing you again some time in the future."

Sesha nodded, dropped the salute and proceeded to pack his belongings, which included armour, upgraded weapons and just regular clothing. He didn't have anything really personal, after all, he had spent nearly his whole life living in a barracks. He was used to military life, it had been the only life he had ever known.

He turned around to look back at the Commander but he was already gone. Sesha sighed and took his pack of items, stepping outside into another typical dark morning on High Charity. The military compound was large with many short buildings such as barracks and offices. It felt strange leaving the place he had called home for such a long time, but it made him feel kind of free at the same time, especially when he went through the front gates and took one last look behind him at the compound. It was the beginning of a new chapter in his life, one which would turn out not to be as good as it sounded after all…

She countered her brother's blow with a simple parry, knocking the energy blade away and lunging forwards. Their blades were merely holographic for training use only, but they were able to cause pain. The hologram went straight through her brother's chest. He grunted and fell backwards, looking up at her as she put the blade against his neck.

"Fourth time in a row," Dezar Dalenmee said, smiling weakly, "I didn't think a female could be that good…"

Relina Heleness simply smiled in her usual, bright eyed manner. She lowered the blade and helped her brother up. They were the same age, having been born as twins (not identical twins, obviously) although Dezar, being male, was far more muscular than Relina and thus weighed more. She grunted as she helped him up and deactivated her energy blade, the hologram disappearing into thin air.

They were both twenty-one and of the pair, Relina was the more reckless. She was often deemed as a "slightly crazy likeable female" and Dezar didn't think much different. What annoyed Relina was that a female Sangheili couldn't be much more than a nurse of medical officer, so there were no females serving in the army itself. She had always wanted to be in the infantry on the frontlines, actually fighting the enemy rather than taking care of wounded.

"I must be getting rusty," Dezar said, deactivating his blade. The training room they were in was square with a slightly padded floor to make it easier on the body when someone was knocked over.

Relina nodded. Dezar had never been good at any sort of melee combat, so Relina often took the chance to train with him so they could learn from each other, Dezar learning from her more so than herself learning from him.

"You should practice on your technique," Relina said, "it's never been too good…You should always attack first, never wait for your opponent. Waiting is not a wise move."

Dezar nodded and picked up his water canteen from the nearby bench, downing the contents quickly.

"It's a shame how you females can't actually be in the military," Dezar said, "you would make an excellent addition to any squad."

Her brother had said this a few times in the past so Relina just nodded. Dezar was probably right, but he wouldn't know much considering he was a mere Minor in a regular infantry team.

Relina picked up the regulation medical robes she had bundled up on a nearby bench, slipping out of the training suit she had on and putting the robes on in their place. She glanced over at Dezar, who was at the doorway talking to an officer in crimson armour. The officer pointed towards her and Dezar nodded.

She had a loose indication of why the officer might be here but she stood where she was anyway, waiting for the officer and her brother to walk over. She recognized the officer as a Major Grashlan, another disgruntled war veteran who beared quite a few scars from previous battles. There seemed to be a lot of those on High Charity.
Dezar frowned as he stopped in front of her.

"This Major here…do you know him?" Dezar asked.

Relina ignored the question for now as the Major began to speak.

"Good morning Relina," Major Grashlan said, "I suppose you know why I'm here?"

Relina nodded. Dezar didn't look too sure about what was happening.

"Why's he here?" Dezar asked.

"Who's he?" Grashlan said, nodding towards Dezar.

"My twin brother," Relina said. Grashlan nodded and then continued.

"You voiced interest in joining the new Rangers division, am I right?" Grashlan asked.

This was true. Relina had voiced her interest, especially after she had heard that the need for an experienced medic was high and that this medic would actually be serving on the frontlines itself, rather in an aid station miles behind the battlefields. The needed medic could be either male or female but must be Sangheili and would go through the same training as all the other regular Rangers.

"Yes?" Relina asked, hoping for a specific answer.

"Well, I've processed your request. You're in," Grashlan said. Relina breathed a sigh of relief. After all her time as a medic she might actually participate in some real fighting. She had heard the Ranger's training course was tough but she wouldn't want to join if she didn't know she could handle herself. She was certain she would make it.

"Rangers, Relina?" Dezar asked, unsure of what to think, "are you sure about this?"

"We need experienced medics like your sister here," Grashlan said, turning to Dezar, "and if it's what she wants to do, you leave her be."
Dezar just nodded in response. He didn't look like he wanted to start an argument with the Major.

Grashlan turned back to Relina, smiling.

"Welcome aboard, Relina," Grashlan said, "I've sent you the necessary information of where to go and when to your datapad. To put it simply though, you'll have to come over to a spaceport in six days. All the other new recruits will be there and you'll be shipped out to the training camp…"

"Where's the camp?" Relina asked. Grashlan just shrugged.

"I'm not actually sure where it is," he replied, "I know it's on a barren world, though. Somewhere insignificant, so you'll have no outside influence there."

He patted her on the shoulder.

"I must be going now, though," he said. Ha paused and looked her in the eyes. "I can just tell you'll be an excellent addition to this new branch of military."

Grashlan turned around and left the room. Dezar looked at his sister, frowning.

"You never told me this…"

"I didn't think I had to," Relina replied. She was about to start out of the room when she felt her brother put a hand on her shoulder stopping her and making her turn around. Dezar looked worried, looking her in the eyes.

"Are you sure about this?" Dezar asked, "you don't have to do this…"

"I want to, Dezar," Relina said, "it's my decision, no one else's."
Dezar sighed, shaking his head.

"I've only heard a bit about what these 'Rangers' do," Dezar said, "and
it doesn't sound like the kind of combat I would want to do."
Relina laughed.

"You afraid of flying through the vacuum of space, afraid you might get frozen or something?"

She knew her brother well enough that a few taunts like this would have his bravado running up high. He would try and prove himself if anybody taunted him about his abilities, whatever they may be. Dezar took a deep breath, obviously annoyed at the comment.

"I'm not afraid of space, no…"

"Then how about you join up?" Relina asked, "or are you just afraid?"
Dezar shook his head. She could tell he was getting frustrated.

"No, I'm not afraid!" He exclaimed suddenly, "if I have to join these damn Rangers just to prove it to you I will join."

"Good," Relina said. Her brother stormed out of the room, most likely trying to catch up with Major Grashlan.