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Warning-Hitch Hikers May Be Escaping Convicts: Chapter Five
Posted By: Spartan 034<zack_034@hotmail.net>
Date: 4 December 2005, 1:46 am

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WARNING-Hitch Hikers May Be Escaping Convicts: Chapter 5


      Braken sniffed the air. The stench of the Flood was growing, mixed with it the smell of Sangheili. Enemies were coming. He looked at a trio of Unggoy that were huddled in a corner. "Go. Look." He said pointing toward the door. The weak little creatures scrambled away from him. Once the Sangheili were gone, the Jiralhanae could do whatever they pleased. Braken looked forward to feasting on Unggoy. Most other Jiralhanae disliked the taste, but Braken liked 'chilled meat' as they were referred to. Screams from the walking meals he had just sent out alerted him. He lifted his plasma rifle and marched toward the door.

      'Inka sliced the lead the grunt's chest open and grimaced as the cold blood splattered against his face. "Even out of ammunition, the brute shot is a valuable tool." he thought to himself. The other two creatures stopped in their tracks, doubled around, and ran for cover. Plasma bolts flared on 'Inka's shields from the door. The soldier rolled to his left behind an octagonal crate.

      "Come out coward! I just want to play!" taunted the brute. Lances of green light burned through air just feet away from the elite's head. The enraged beast climbed on top of the crate and hurled itself at Bora. 'Inka lashed out with instinctual reflexes. A satisfying spurt of blood confirmed the hit before the brute even landed. It fell hard on the stub that had once been its right foot and rolled a few times before coming to a stop. 'Inka leapt the dozen feet over to the creature and sank his bayonet into the alien's remaining ankle. It would never be walking again. Sorah and the other elite advanced cautiously as the brute let out a rumbling, erythematic growl. It was laughing. "You don't even know, do you?" it chortled between hysterical snorts. "The last one didn't. He still believed the Proph-". 'Inka silenced him with the blade. Sorah regretted it, but didn't let it show. He wondered what it had to say.

      "Lets go." The Spec-Ops soldier ordered. The elites went through the doors, followed by the grunts. The new followers fell into rank without orders.

      After what seemed like two rotations of fighting, the trio arrived at their destination, minus the less capable grunts. The Sanctum of the Hierarchs. Sorah could not believe where he was. The ground he stood on was holy, and he did not deserve to tread it. He looked over to 'Inka. "Excellency, I can follow you no more. I cannot set foot here. I am not worthy." 'Inka replied without even a glance.

      "Then so be it. I release you from my servitude. " Sorah didn't move, but accepted the fact. He was no warrior. But before he could turn away 'Inka told him to stay. The Warrior looked the Guard over. He had few minor burns and cuts and a plasma rifle in his hand, but that was not all that was different from when 'Inka had first seen him. The guard now had a fire in his eyes. He had proven himself many times as a warrior. His tenacity was impressive. "Are you still willing to fight?" The black armored elite asked. Sorah flexed his shoulders. "When this is over, I will request a special favor from the council. Many Sangheili have fallen. We must fill the ranks. You have proven yourself as a warrior many times over, and I would support a request to the council to have your name reinstated and your status as a warrior replaced." He said. Sorah did not believe what he heard. Such acts were not unheard of, but were uniquely rare. Especially in these times, when the council tended to ignore the Sangheili requests. "Follow me if you crave your honor." He returned to his path, both followers in tow.

      The trio entered the foot of the massive spire unopposed. Bodies of all kinds littered the large room at the bottom. But one stood out in particular. It appeared frail and weak. At least the top half did. The other half, the waist and below, floated about 3 feet off the deck. Both halves were covered in intricate robes, which had been singed black by fire. The golden crown had fallen from its head and it lay several feet away. It was a Prophet, and it had been slain with a plasma sword. "Those beasts! They have slain Prophets, and with the sacred weapon of the Sangheili no less!" 'Inka bellowed. Sorah was mortified. Bore showed little emotion. Movement snapped all three soldiers to battle readiness. But the creature that stepped through the door was no enemy. It was an Honor Guard. The Imperial Protector eyed the soldiers over and then the Prophet.

      "Weep not. The treacherous filth died by my hand." He gloated. 'Inka's eyes flashed with wild rage. The protector, noticing 'Inka's fury, tried to console him. "Have you not heard what has happened? The Prophets, they have spurred the Brutes into this uprising."

      "Silence heretic. The Prophets have not betrayed us." 'Inka snarled. Sorah stepped back from his leader. He knew what was about to happen. Bora did the same. The two disgruntled Elites circled each other. The Honor Guard ignited his plasma sword.

      "Do you challenge me?" he asked softly.

      "To the death, heretic." 'Inka growled. In a flash both warriors were upon each other. The Honor Guard swung the blade down from above, trying to slice 'Inka's head in two. 'Inka swung his bayonet up to the Protector's wrist, cutting through both shields and sinew. Tossing away his brute shot with one hand, he caught the dropped blade as it fell in the other and plunged it into the Honor Guard's stomach.

      "You are blind. The Honor Guard, it has been replaced. By the Prophet's order." The dying warrior panted. "If you will not believe me, then look around." He pointed at a fallen brute slumped against a crate. Its stomach was cut open and its innards covered the floor, but the shining armor that adorned it was not tainted. The ornate panels covered its shoulders, thighs, and head. The traditional spear lay over its lap, bits of flesh still clinging to its end. It was blasphemy. Impossible. A mockery of the Sangheili and the binding Covenant. Surely the brute had merely stolen the armor. It was a singularity. The beasts were always attracted to things that shone. 'Inka was sure that neither Sorah nor Bora had seen it. They didn't need to know.

      "Vile heretic." 'Inka cursed at his brethren. He pulled the energy blade out from the body and let it slump to the ground. "Go on ahead and secure the area. I will join you in a moment." 'Inka ordered. His followers left the room. "No one must know what has happened." he thought as he pried the disembodied hand from his new weapon. The warrior clipped the sword to his waist and walked over to the brute's body. He cursed it in the name of the Prophets and ignited it with a plasma grenade. He then walked over to the dead Honor Guard. "Vermin." He said. "There can be no truth as you have spoken it." But at his heart he knew it was truth. And he didn't like it.

      Sorah eyed the shadows closely as he and his companion traversed the narrow passageways. His suspicions of an ambush paid off when a pack of brutes opened up on them as they passed through a door. A shotgun blast tore through Bora's shields and punctured his gut. Sorah was able to duck for cover just as an explosion destroyed the door. The room beyond was typical of those on High Charity. It had two levels. The upper one had four doors with a walkway that circled the whole room. In the center was a small hub with a gravlift in the center. The lower level was an atrium, filled with small trees and patches of grass.

      The lower ranks of the Covenant, namely Unggoy and Jiralhanae, commonly took human weapons as trophies. While it was not uncommon for Unggoy majors to carry human pistols, the brutes seemed to take to possessing bigger human weapons. Shotguns, rifles, sometimes even 'Es-Em-Gees'. And rocket launchers.

      Sorah charged through the newly formed crater and fired away with his plasma rifle. A lucky bolt struck one of the brutes in the face, toppling it to the ground. Sorah dove off the platform he stood on into a small atrium below. A brute jumped in after him. The guard whirled around to face the new threat just in time; his shield kicked back and flared, sending a shotgun blast back into the brute that had fired it. Sorah leapt up into a small gravlift in the center of the atrium and was lifted back up into the second level. He came face to face with the brute that wielded the rocket launcher. It screamed at him before it slammed the weapon against Sorah's head.

      'Inka charged through the smoke filled crater just seconds after Sorah. He leapt through the air, slicing a brute in half as he went. The elite advanced on the hub quietly. He heard a body, too light to be a brute, hit the ground. "A shame." he thought. The soldier swung around the wall and faced his opponent. The Brute stood over Sorah's body, shoulders hunched. It was in the middle of reloading the launcher. 'Inka swung his sword in a wide arc, cutting the rocket launcher in half and severing the brute's right arm. It screamed as it fell backwards into the gravlift. A plasma grenade hovered in front of 'Inka's face for a brief second, then shot up the lift. "Vile animal." 'Inka thought. Sorah coughed.

      He knelt down next to fallen guard. His skull had been crushed, but he was still breathing. He would transcend the physical soon. "I am sorry, my brother. You shall prosper in paradise."

      Sorah raised his head feebly. "Brutes." He muttered. "Many." His hand rose and a long, slender finger pointed up toward the gravlift. His hand fell to the floor. His body shook for a moment, then he passed on. 'Inka stood up and stepped into the gravlift. Sorah had given vital information.

      The warrior shot up through the lift at breakneck speed. He noted a large area melted out of the gravlift walls from where the plasma grenade went off. If the things ever returned to normal, which his faith told him it would, it would take ages to repair the damage. The hatched popped open, and an active camouflaged 'Inka burst into combat. Before the brutes at the top new what had happened, 'Inka had cut through all four of them. He continued on his killing spree, slaying seven more brutes before the alarm was raised. The elite deactivated his sword and pressed himself against a corner.

      Three squads of brutes entered from three of the many doors that lined the room. One of the creatures was just feet away from 'Inka. He sniffed the air. "It smells of Sangheili here." He said. He sniffed the air three more times, his head gradually drifting to face 'Inka. The elite watched the brute's eyes dart around, and he gloated inside at the face the brute made when he recognized what stood in front of him.

      A few feet away the captain of the brute pack turned around in horror as two of his pack was killed. He was about to scream for help when he himself fell under the blade. In combat, nothing mattered to 'Inka. Nothing but the fight.

      A few rooms away a brute frantically called to anyone on the comm. He had fought the flood and was scared. Because they were coming. In his haste he broadcasted on all channels.

      "Ship master, we are receiving a transmission from High Charity."

      "Ship master, plasma conduit five has been destroyed. Decks seven to five have been damaged." Another voice proclaimed.

      "Put it through." The zealot ordered. "And target the enemy carrier."

      A gruff Brute voice echoed through the bridge from the speakers. Something was wrong with it. It was afraid. Unusual, but after all, there were surely some Sangheili near the traitor.

      "-lood! The parasite- -here! All ships must ---troy any transp--ts coming from High--."

      "I doubt that message was meant for us." The zealot mused as his ship rattled from a plasma bolt.

      "Ship master, fighter bay three has been destroyed." One of the officers piped up.

      Another officer spoke up. "Ship master, the message is coming from the main dome. The Sanctum of the Hierarchs." The zealot looked strait into the eyes of the one who had spoken.

      "Send a lance of dropships. Have them be loaded with Spec-Ops troops." The shipmaster ordered. "They must be prepared for Flood."

      A final transmission came through the speakers. "Warning, --ch hikers--ay be escaping con-!." A scream of death punctuated the sentence.

      'Inka removed his sword from the back of the final brute will satisfaction. He stepped out of the comm room and looked at results of his work. Gore covered the room, and in several places the bulkhead had been blasted away. His eyes roamed up to the air buffers on the ceiling. Green smoke was steadily flowing through. The flood had been busy. So busy that the entire Sanctum would have to be vented to out to space if it was to be cleansed. 'Inka stepped out the only door he had yet to go through. It was a balcony with a grand overview of the city. For the first time 'Inka saw the human ship embedded in the side of the dome. A Phantom flew overhead, trailed by a pair of banshees.

      A flock of birds flew into view, banking and diving in the wind. 'Inka was transfixed on them. One of the banshees flew through them and clipped one of the animals with its wing. The creature spiraled down in a vortex of feathers. The rest of the flock descended on it and began to tear it to pieces. 'Inka walked up to he edge to watch it fall. It was gone before it fell fifty meters. But he didn't see that. He was distracted by the waves of flood crawling up the side of the spire. Hundreds, possibly thousands of combat forms. Mixed among them were the gigantic flood forms that he had faced before. This was a battle he could not possibly win. But he did know when his body was found, he would be identified and his name put down on the records. The Prophets would bless him and his linage.

      A low rumbling from the center of the city caught his and the flood's attention. It steadily rose into a deafening rumble. The great spire, the glorious testament of the Forerunners, was leaving. The Prophets were on that ship. 'Inka knew that. He didn't know how, but he knew.

      That familiar growl made him look over his shoulder. A wall of flood had encircled him. They were keeping their distance, wary of the sword the elite held, but any moment they would move. 'Inka picked a plasma grenade off his belt and turned to face them. With no small amount of shock he realized what they had been. They were the slaves. Hundreds of them, with more steadily pouring in over the edge. For several seconds neither he nor the flood moved.

      A trio of phantoms passed through the entryway at the top of the station. They passed within a dozen meters of the Forerunner ship, the crews inside at awe of the vessel's brilliance. They veered sharply to level themselves out and stayed near the top of the dome. In the lead ship, a Spec-Ops leader addressed the copilot.

      "Magnify twenty–five times on the Sanctum of the Hierarchs. The balcony on the far left." He ordered. The copilot obeyed and displayed the image on a holopanel. A single elite, surrounded by several hundred flood. Not just an elite, but a Spec-Ops warrior. "Order Group two to pick him up."

      "Yes comm-" he stopped in mid sentence at the horror he saw.

      The flood moved all at once. 'Inka fought harder than ever.