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Glass and Steel: Pt. 7
Posted By: Random 14-Year-Old<i-rule-2008@sbcglobal.net>
Date: 11 September 2005, 8:12 am

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Part 7: Save a Life, Take a Life

The shadows were encroaching upon Ren's position. Every time he rounded a corner, desperately trying to escape, he could see the shadows in the corner of his eye. He did not know what he was running from, since the monsters were always behind a bush, or a sign, whenever he turned his head to look. But when he faced forward again and ran faster, he could hear their quick footsteps behind him and he could see the dark shadows they cast on the ground.

The shadows were now right beneath his feet—but how could that be, since the sun was in front of him and would cast shadows backwards? The monsters had that kind of power, Ren imagined. They could cast their own shadows wherever they wanted, and right now they were putting their shadows at Ren's feet, just to frighten him.

Ren knew this was a nightmare, it had to be. But no matter how much he told himself that his own dreams were controllable, the fear of the shadow-casting monsters kept him running.

Suddenly Ren was in a horizontal position, obviously having fallen off the edge of the Earth. But that was just a phrase—he had fallen off the edge of High Charity, not Earth. Silly Ren.

A chill ran down Ren's back, the instinctive response of the body to a sudden freefall—but he felt a rush of relief following that chill when he found himself in bed. Looking around, he realized it wasn't his bed, but rather, he was in a room he had never seen before.

A gunshot. A gunshot had awoken Ren so suddenly. It had saved him from the monsters and thrown him off the edge of—what was it? Right, he had fallen off the edge of Luther. Dreams were ridiculous sometimes.

"Aghh..." Ren groaned as he crawled out of bed. He looked down at his arm, which was stinging like crazy, and saw that somebody had crudely wrapped it in some old gauze. He made his way across the room and stumbled, nearly crashing into a dusty TV that sat on a table. Ren's legs were like jelly, uncontrollable and swaying every which way.

"I have tried my best to be helpful, thoughtful, and caring!" a voice yelled somewhere else in the house. "I rescued that damn boy! I brought you your son! And now, as I try to help you people, you don't give a damn what the hell I have to say!"

Ren forced his legs to move and pulled himself into the hallway, searching for the direction of the voice.

"Oh, I don't know anything, don't listen to me, I'm just a stupid retard!" the voice yelled, sounding more tense. " 'Seraph fighter'? 'Assault carrier'? Yeah, you think this is bullshit now, but believe me, when this godforsaken house goes up in flames, you'll be sorry you didn't listen to me!"

Ren trudged slowly down the hallway, which emerged into the living room that he had been in before he fainted. Mrs. Jiles was sitting in a chair, and both Mr. Jiles and Howard Gaffer were standing up, staring at each other in a tense standoff. Howard held his gun in his hands, and was pointing it directly at Mr. Jiles's head. Mr. Jiles was unarmed.

"They don't just come in small parties," Howard whispered fiendishly, shaking the gun slightly. "Their whole goddamn fleet will come and destroy all of us! The sky will turn red with the blood of Luther, the ground will split into pieces, and what you once knew as home will be melted, shattered, and desecrated! This world will become a melting pot of glass and steel, annihilated by the entity that is the Covenant!"

Howard rested his ominous monologue to take a deep breath, and in the silence Ren could hear a girl crying. There, on the couch in the middle of the room, was Jeffery Jiles still lying unconscious across the couch, and Ariana, sobbing as she held onto her dying brother.

"Ariana!" Ren croaked almost involuntarily, and suddenly the whole room had their eyes on him. Howard whipped around and before he knew it Ren was looking down the barrel of Howard's pistol.

"You!" Howard seethed with satisfaction at the sight of Ren. "You saw the Sangheili! Tell them the truth! They won't believe me!"

Ren looked from Howard to the gun to the others. Ariana was staring at him, tears muddling her face. "Sangheili...?" Ren muttered, his heart beating faster with every second.

"The Elite!" Howard exclaimed. He looked desperate—desperate to prove that he was right. And if he didn't—somebody could end up dead. "The alien! It attacked you, don't you remember? And you saw the crashed ship, too!"

"Yeah..." Ren agreed, praying that Howard would lower the gun if somebody agreed with him. "I saw the ship—and that's where I found him." He outstretched his arm and pointed at Jeffery, almost lifeless as he laid on the couch. Apparently Ariana could stand it no more—she got up, pushed past Howard carelessly, and reunited with Ren, crying her eyes out. She dug her face and arms into him, and he wrapped his arms around her as she sobbed onto his shoulder.

"Right...you saw the ship..." Howard said mindlessly. He watched as Ren and Ariana hugged each other, and with each passing second he seemed to grow weaker and weaker. Suddenly the gun fell from his hands and dropped on the ground. "I'm sorry...it's just that...we don't stand a chance—we're all going to die!"

Without warning there was a loud thud, and Ren and Ariana looked up to see Mr. Jiles with a steel picture frame in his hands. On the ground beneath him, knocked unconscious, was Howard.

"We need to get Jeffery to the hospital fast!" he said hurriedly. The entire time Howard had had him at gunpoint, Mr. Jiles had been formulating the next course of action. "Everyone load up in the car, quickly!"

Ren pulled Ariana to her feet—the ordeal had obviously taken a lot out of her—and they walked out the front door to Mr. Jiles's car.

"Are you okay?" Ren asked her. She wiped away some of her tears and gave a weak nod.

"I'm fine..." she tried to say in a reassuring voice. "But—but what about you?"

"What about me?" Ren replied jokingly, attempting to lighten the mood. "So my arm got scratched up, so what?"

Ariana smiled. They got in the back seat of Mr. Jiles's Dodge Debye 2540 and waited for Ariana's parents.

"So..." Ariana started, apparently clueless as to what to say. Or maybe she knew what to say, but had no idea where to start. "You—you found a crashed alien ship? And my brother was there?"

"Yeah..." Ren said, reluctant to tell the story. "It was at that field you always go to—the one we met at...and there were tons of people there, all trying to get a good look at who was injured." Ren clenched his fists—the ignorance of people sometimes...

"My brother," Ariana said. "And then you went to my house—and there was an alien there?"

"And it attacked me. That's when Howard came and shot it before it could kill me." Ren could feel the bulge in his pocket—the energy sword he had taken from the Elite.

Ren and Ariana watched as Mr. Jiles came outside with Jeffery in his arms, whose limbs were hanging lifelessly to the ground. "Here," Mr. Jiles said, putting Jeffery in the back seat with Ariana and Ren. "Hold him tight—he will not wear a seatbelt because I don't want to put any pressure on his body, so just—just hold him tight, okay? And Ren—"

"Yeah?" Ren looked into the man's worried eyes.

"Do your parents know where you are? Can we take you to them?"

Ren felt sadness as he remembered his parents and his home. It seemed like so long ago that he had left home to go see Ariana. He had disregarded his father's advice on girls as stupid, and he remembered how he was told to be home soon, because a storm was coming in...

"They know I'm here and they said it's okay," Ren said, straight-out lying.

"Good..." Mr. Jiles said, and he closed the car door and went back inside the house to get Mrs. Jiles.

"They know where you are? How?" Ariana asked with confusion.

"I lied," Ren said. "I can't let your dad waste time to drop me off at my house. We need to get to the hospital as fast as possible."

With that, Ariana leaned over and hugged Ren, clinging to him like they were going to die. And maybe they were, if Howard's pessimistic opinion was correct.

"...don't believe me!" a voice yelled from inside the house. Ren and Ariana looked through the doorway and saw Mr. Jiles, frozen in the wake of Howard's regained consciousness. His voice could barely be heard from inside the car. "...studied the Covenant! I used those UNSC files to learn of our enemy! We have a common enemy, my friend! A common enemy!"

A sudden gunshot shattered the air, and Ren watched in horror as Mr. Jiles dropped to his knees, then toppled over onto the ground.

"No!" Ariana screamed. "Daddy!"

Ren could see Mrs. Jiles now, as she attempted to claw at Howard's face in a fit of rage. Another gunshot, and the woman fell to the ground.

"Noo!" Ariana moaned through uncontrollable tears. Ren was frozen in place, paralyzed by fear, shaken with shock.

"Hey!" Howard yelled when he heard Ariana's screams coming from the car.

Horror took complete hold of Ren as Howard made his way outside towards the car. He had to do something—he had Ariana to protect, her brother to protect, and while he was at it he might as well save his own life for once. Ren forced the fear from his body and climbed into the driver's seat of the car. He found the ignition, but not the keys—

"Hey!" Howard yelled. The man now stood directly in front of the car, pointing the gun straight through the windshield at Ren.

"There!" Ren said frantically as he saw the keys on top of the dashboard. He grabbed them, fumbled nervously, and finally put the right key into the ignition and started the car.

"Wait!" Howard called. "The Covenant! You need to know how to beat them! Wait!" The man kept his gun pointed at Ren, his finger quivering on the trigger.

Ren shoved the gear into reverse and slammed on the gas. The car lurched backward and they were almost to the street when Howard fired his gun. Glass shattered, and now there was a bullet-sized hole in the windshield. Ren, not knowing for sure if he or anyone else had been hit by the bullet, continued to pull the car into the street.

"Damn it, listen!" Howard yelled from the driveway, almost screaming now. "I know what they're here for!"

Howard, in a fit of frustration, threw his gun at the car, which hit the windshield and made a giant web of cracks that blocked Ren's vision. He turned the car, shoved it into forward, and hit the gas as quickly as he could.

The last thing he could hear from Howard's mouth as they sped off was a mess of random words, like "forerunner tablet" and "trace signal."

Ren stared blankly into the broken windshield, not seeing where he was going, only seeing where he had been. He began to cry.