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Those Who Fought: Chapter 2
Posted By: Wandering Attention<gryphonwing55@hotmail.com>
Date: 22 June 2006, 2:18 am

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Thank you to those who overlooked the uninspired title of this fanfic and read it anyway. Comments and criticisms are welcome from anyone who does so.

Those Who Fought: Chapter 2
Betrayal and Escape

      Wings' first thought was that she had one hell of a hangover. Her head throbbed hideously and her mouth tasted like old socks. Her eyes popped open as she recalled what had happened: the raid, the ambush, her capture…Wait. Capture?
      She sat upright, and her suspicions were confirmed. She was in a cell of sorts; perhaps a storage room by the lack of windows, and it was definitely a human-made building. The only change that the aliens had made was to replace the door with a buzzing energy field, produced by a small generator on the floor.
      Resisting the urge to touch what must have been a spectacular goose-egg on the back of her head, Wings stood to inspect the 'door.' It felt solid and unyielding under her hand, which stung slightly for a while after she removed it.
      A Grunt had noticed movement in her cell, and came over to investigate. Seeing her awake and moving, it chittered over its shoulder before turning back to Wings. The human's face was contorted in an insane snarl. The Grunt bolted, uttering little shrieks of terror.
      Wings dropped her 'rabid-dog' expression and grinned at this very minor win. But that faded, too, as a pair of Elites stepped up to her cell. She made the brief, futile attempt of slipping past as the barrier dropped, but only got a swat across her lump for her effort. She was hauled back into the room by the red-armored Elite while white-armor stared her down.
      Das 'Tiromee faced the Human, idly inspecting it. The sheer variety found within this race was astounding. For example, this individual was of medium build, with a slim frame. Its face, too, was sharp-planed and angular. It had a mane of brown-gold hair clipped short over its skull, and stared at him fearlessly from greenish-brown eyes. Interesting, that Humans were unafraid in captivity, yet seemed terrified on the battlefield.
      "Human, you have two options: tell us what we ask or face the consequences. Where is your base?" he said via a translator. No response. He nodded to 'Rakurolee.
      It felt worse, ten times worse, than when Wings had stuck her finger in a light socket as a child. Her whole body spasmed madly and her legs gave out from under her. She hung from Red's grasp, slightly surprised that she wasn't smoking.
      "For every time you refuse to answer, that will be the result. So tell us: Where is your base?"
      Wings, though dreading what would come next, spat at the monster's feet. Red, without any prompting, pressed something into her back and the pain returned.
      "You are loyal to your cause," her interrogator noted, "so perhaps it would be easier to tell us the origin of this." He held up her stone-and-crystal pendant by its cord.
      Wings' felt her face betraying her surprise as she reflexively glanced up at him. Still dazed by the last shock, she inconsequentially noticed that the creature had one blue eye and one green eye. She had apparently paused too long in her response, as a third jolt ripped through her. This time she screamed, a back-of-the-throat hiss.
      Odd-eye looked at Red as though confirming something. He produced a tiny handheld computer, which projected a three-dimensional map of the surrounding countryside. "Perhaps it would be simpler for you to indicate where you found it on this map. I truly did not have much hope that you would be intelligent enough to respond verbally." The remark stung slightly, and Wings briefly wondered why it irritated her more than the actual interrogation.
      It was strange that they would be asking about her necklace, though. It was just a trinket she had found in the caverns. How could it be important?

      'Tiromee only had the patience for a few more questions. He left the Human huddled in the corner of its cell, cursing his luck silently. Of all the Humans he had had to pick from, he had taken the only one incapable of communication.
      "It may yield information yet, Excellency," 'Rakurolee offered, trying to placate his superior. He could tell that 'Tiromee was getting desperate in his quest to retain his rank. "Eventually it will realize that cooperation is easier than fighting-"
      "Silence!" 'Tiromee barked. 'Rakurolee was about to mumble an apology when he heard the change in the battle-net chatter that had alerted the Commander. The two Elites stared at each other in shock and horror.

      "So you're telling me we're just leaving her to die out there?!"
      "What would you have me do? Order all our fighters to charge in and likely die just to save one person? They aren't fools, Hotshot, and neither are you nor I."
      Hotshot glared, shoulders heaving, biting back an injudicious reply. David Behr, the closest thing the cavern-dwellers had to a governor, stared back levelly with only a faint spark of irritation in his deep-set eyes. He had known the Mahar twins for years, and excused Hotshot for this rare display of anger.
      Though it's almost as much despair and fear as anger, he thought sorrowfully. It's almost as like one twin can't function without the other's presence. "Wings, too, is wise enough to see that a rescue would be suicidal," he added after a moment. "And would she die without telling you first?"
      Hotshot gave a bitter half-smile, but not even a ghost of her usual good humor returned. "Only if death surprised her."
      It wasn't the answer Behr would have liked, but she left his 'office' with that remark before he could respond. He just sighed. The twins' interdependence cut both ways: they were remarkable fighters and leaders, and made an exceptional team, but injuring one in any form affected the other deeply.
      Deeply enough that one would die to follow the other?

      Lying on the hard floor was painful, but less so than moving into a more comfortable position, so Wings just remained where she fell. Her captors stood right outside her cell, apparently speaking to one another. She signed a few nasty things at their backs out of spite, knowing it was useless and still not caring.
      They both stiffened suddenly and Wings froze, thinking they might somehow have seen and understood. However, they both ran for one of the computer terminals, activating it in haste. A holographic image appeared, and she squinted, trying to make out what it was.
      A floating space-pope with bad teeth, was her eventual conclusion. It spoke in an odd singsong chant that she, unsurprisingly, couldn't decipher. The Elites' reaction, however, was emphatic as they began racing about and shouting orders to the other beings in the room. But before long the image flickered and faded out to be replaced by that of an Elite. Its armor was unusually intricate and stylized, and a mostly spherical machine floated behind it. Wings' captors skidded to a halt to hear what this new apparition had to say.
      This transmission was interrupted as well. But unlike the last time, it was by something happening in the room itself. A group of massive, apelike beings all but tore the front wall down to get inside. There was a brief pause, broken by a roar from Odd-eye. He leapt towards the intruders, an energy blade appearing in his hand. His surprised victim didn't stand a chance.
      Wings had no clue what was going on as the two groups opened fire on one another. The only thing she could make out is that things had gone to hell in a handbasket.

      'Tiromee was practically blind to everything except his blade and his opponents. There was NO WAY that he could let these filthy beings usurp the Sangheili so easily! Between his frenzy and the support if his troops, the Jiralhanae were cut down in moments.
      "Commander," 'Rakuolee said, just a little frightened by 'Tiromee's rage, "more Jiralhanae are being sent by the Prophet to subdue the city. Too many for us to stand against if we remain here."
      'Tiromee paused to recover himself before replying. "Then we find a more defensible position. Our ships are overrun, and cannot escape into space. The city is not an option, even if we rejoin other units there."
      "That leaves only the rural areas, where we have no supplies or resources…"
      'Tiromee looked directly at the captive human. It stared back, face unreadable. "We may yet." He turned to the remaining soldiers under his command. "Do any of you wish to remain pawns of the traitorous Prophets who would kill us all? Or will you stand with the Sangheili under the Arbiter for survival?" 'Tiromee felt invoking that personage would turn more in his favor. The Arbiter had his information directly from the Oracle, a source of irrefutable knowledge. The Prophets, too, had this information, yet pursued the fallacious 'Great Journey' to its genocidal conclusion.
      All of the Sangheili there gave assent. The Unggoy, trained for blind obedience to their Commander, did the same. The Kig-yar, though more independent-minded and having less integrity, agreed…hesitantly. No Lekgolo or Yanme'e were stationed here to take a side, so their loyalties would remain a mystery.
      "Then we will make our stand…Elsewhere." 'Tiromee ordered two Minors to remove the Human from its cell and bring it along. The unit moved out under his command, but as it entered the maze of broken ground, 'Tiromee found his attention drifting to the captive again. His own idea repulsed him, but more than his pride was at stake.
      He would have to ask the Human for help.