Created and Consumed (Chapter 5)
Posted By: Zyrra-Chylde-Aisha
Date: 20 May 2006, 10:17 pm
Doxo was still not pleased with me for days after our disagreement; he was still convinced that I had a polluted mind and that my lying would get me into trouble with more than just him in the long run. Despite my apologies, he wouldn't speak to me.
"Cheer up Zyrra, I'm sure he'll change his opinion soon…" Jurdo attempted to console me, "… I mean, how long can Doxo hold a grudge for?"
"Maybe a written apology this time?" Ehle suggested, I elbowed him sharply in the ribs.
"It wouldn't bother me so much if I knew what I was apologising for…" I glowered at Doxo's back as he marched past, "I don't even know what I did wrong!"
"You contradicted him. He hates that." Ehle wheezed.
"Go figure…" I muttered before entering the room which would seal my fate.
Beside me an older Sangheili inhaled deeply, "Ahh, the smell of carnage is fresh this morning!" he commented. I sniffed the air also; it smelled of carbon, this wasn't surprising; there were scorch marks all over the Evaluation Arena. I was, though, slightly troubled by another aroma wafting through the room, blood, real blood, not the synthetic kind which we encountered in training.
We assembled in our rank lines, the least experienced and least favoured stayed toward the back of the formation, as a result, the larger and inadvertently more popular warriors were pushed toward the front. Doxo, Ehle, Jurdo and I were all bunched up in the middle, competing for a look to see what was going on.
"Why don't they do this in order of height, you know, the tall ones first and the squirts last?" Ehle asked, naturally because he was one of the taller elites.
"Maybe because they know that you're a lost cause as the first demonstration Ehle?" I jeered, my comment possessed truth, the demonstration was to be on our skills as a marksman, we had to hit a target one hundred and eighty-five feet away from us three times on the bullseye, no practise shots. Ehle couldn't hit a Lekgolo at forty feet with an optical aid.
"When called, come to attention!" a voice boomed over the loudspeakers, "Ahnathee, Huka! Jorunadee, Dewa! Laveramee, Jega! Kataratee, Lega!"
One by one, Elites broke from their formations and walked into the arena.
"Jiserramee, Zyrra!" My name was called and I looked to Jurdo.
"That's you, sheesh even I'm not that stupid!" he whispered, shoving me forward.
"Oikumee, Ehle!" The names were being read from a list, I heard Ehle step forward and stop beside me, we exchanged uneasy grins, "Hurriamee, Jurdo!" I suppressed a smile when a whimper sounded from between the shoulders of the Sangheili formation, Jurdo joined us, "Tahnamee, Doxo!" Doxo strode to Jurdo's side and stared ahead at the judges. "Serracree, Morta, my, my, again Morta?" the announcer sounded amused, my mood darkened when I saw out of the corner of my eye, the same elite who had tried to destroy me weeks ago. I failed see how a malicious killer could come across as amusing.
The remaining Elites were summoned to the front, a group of twenty-or-so, each varying in age and structure. There were a few unfamiliar faces; some were far too young to be even considered Academy material. Once assembled, the remains of the Sangheili not chosen were ordered to sit; a resounding shuffle and grumble of not being selected followed the command but quickly dulled.
A magnificent Sangheili Commander in elegant silver armour stood flanked by a Zealot on each side. Half of both left jaws were missing, probably cut off by plasma or broken in hand to hand combat; he was quite experienced as well. "Warriors!" He called to the assembly, "Today you will be required to perform specific tasks in order to determine which position you will take within the Covenant! Not all of you will be chosen! Those who are chosen will be awarded new armour and crests befitting their new rank! Those who are not will be reassigned into their Gudili Academy ranks and given further training! Each decision is final and cannot be altered by any influence but the Prophets'!" This was about the time where I could almost hear Jurdo's heart pounding in his chest, if there was one thing he feared, it was his own skills being judged in a serious manner. "Begin!"
We were evaluated in a variety of ways, each method more difficult than the last. The first task was marksmanship, miraculously Ehle didn't perform as badly as he had first thought, his surprise was obvious when he hit the target all three times directly in the centre, I would have checked his equipment for alterations, which I did when I was called for my attempt, I found that the rifle used for the task had been tampered with and a retrial was ordered, much to Ehle's distain, but even without the enhanced weapon, Ehle managed to get two out of three bullseyes.
I had a little trouble releasing the steam hatch on the weapon, it overheated in my hands and scalded my palms but I still hit two of the three bullseyes required. Doxo and another Elite by the name of Tekra obtained a perfect score without hesitation, while Jurdo managed one along with Dewa, Huka, and Morta while Lega failed to hit any target at all. I suspected sabotage. The catch of his weapon was jammed and he had to pull exceptionally hard on the trigger to make it fire, in his efforts to pull the trigger successfully, he failed to aim before he did so, his three beams shot harmlessly into the ground. No retrial was conducted despite his objections.
Next was small arms fire, again Ehle surprised himself, we all did excellently in fact. The only Elites who didn't do well were Huka and Dewa, who had their turns after Morta. Everyone excelled in Sword battle, Doxo, Ehle, Morta and I each got a perfect score, Jurdo faltered on one manoeuvre losing a couple of credits for that but overall he did well. Infiltration came toward the end of the day, severely tampered with was this task, someone had recoded the system so that not even the judges could crack it, they found it suspicious that only I and Morta could manage to recalibrate the whole server to return to normal for the examination to continue. Thankfully we were given the benefit of the doubt and allowed to continue to the next test.
The last task was hand to hand combat, this I felt I did horribly at, I stayed in the ring for a mere two minutes before being plucked off of my feet and chucked from the battle arena. Doxo lasted a grand of three minutes, only because he managed to knock out his opponent within the first two minutes so that he could boast about it throughout the third. Jurdo, surprisingly, was able to outsmart his opponent, letting him believe he had sprained his wrist in the last task. Jurdo managed to fight single handed for ninety seconds before being forced to add his second hand he pinned the warrior down, and had to hold him for a further sixty seconds before being allowed to return to his place. Ehle's performance was spectacular, it was obvious that close combat was his speciality, he dodged, blocked and served with such precision it impressed even the Commander who was seated quietly on the edge of the ranks. He even applauded a throw which sent Ehle's opponent several feet across the floor.
The other performances were rather mediocre, boring in fact, generic moves used for generic warriors, there was very little variety in their performance. Morta was the last.
"Alright, Serracree, let's hope there are no more of your tricks this time, I want a fair fight."
Morta spread a grin over his scarred face, "Of course…"
The Commander must have seen Morta fight before, what did he mean by tricks? I hadn't the time to speculate before the bout was called to a start. "Begin!"
The Elite facing Morta was much larger than he was muscle-wise; the height difference was reasonably distinct also. There was at least a foot's height difference between Morta and his opponent. The Elite's name was Coenu Kylressimee, I heard some of the other Gudili talking about him while we sat on the sidelines, he was a Molta Spec. Ops. Commander, he was renowned as the top infiltration specialist in this part of the Covenant and he was also incredibly dangerous. As the chatter continued between students, Jurdo, Ehle and I watched the battle.
Morta opened with a forward attack, being blocked easily, it took me a while to figure out this Elite's plan, he focussed on the enemy's face. Being an Elite of shorter stature, I would have gone for the legs, they were rarely guarded as well as the chest or face and were an easy target for anyone at a height disadvantage. Yet this Morta character persisted, much to my irritation, to attack Coenu's upper body.
I wanted to yell at the fool, he was going to lose, this Morta was supposed to be a killer, he wasn't displaying any of his boasted skills at all, what I wanted to know was why he was being trialled, he had already been given rank as Molta Spec. Ops Infiltrator Second Class. I lost track of the battle momentarily while I pondered over it and missed a throw performed by Coenu, slamming Morta to the ground. The loud crack of armour hitting crete brought my attention back to the brawl. Morta lay on the ground almost unconscious while Coenu dragged him by his foot toward the edge of the ring. I smiled satisfaction when boos and hisses erupted from the ranks for Morta's poor performance.
"This battle is over!" Coenu cooed; punching the air and lapping up the attention, I would never understand the male infatuation with popularity. He picked Morta up by one leg and let him dangle there like a sack of meat.
"Not yet…" Morta hissed and kicked Coenu in the mouth with his free foot; instinctively Coenu dropped Morta and held his face, screaming out in pain. When dropped, Morta landed on all fours and leapt for Coenu's throat, clasping his hands around the thick muscle and cutting off the air supply, it took a while for Coenu to realise he couldn't breathe but when he did, he punched Morta in the gut and shoved him away. Neither let up for the next seven minutes, exchanging blows with each other, their endurance was remarkable, but I couldn't help but believe that they were toying with each other.
Beside me Jurdo yawned, "Jees, I wish one of them would win already…"
"Something isn't right…" I shared my concern for the battle, "… Morta has been given ample opportunities to defeat Coenu, why hasn't he taken them?"
"Maybe he wants to beat Coenu in a special way?" Ehle suggested on my other side, "Coenu is waiting until Morta is worn out, he doesn't realise that Morta is an Elite who specialises in endurance training. His efforts are fruitless if his goal is to outlast him. Morta on the other hand, he has a plan that may work, he's battled these Elites before and he knows each strength, each weakness, if there is a window of opportunity to be had, he knows where it is."
"What's his plan then smarty-armour?" Jurdo huffed, "Or do you just 'pretend' to be a know-it-all?"
"Shh!" I hissed, "Watch, and then afterwards we can discuss this, I'd like to see this so-called plan and your moaning is distracting me…" I heard Jurdo grumble but he silenced.
The ninth minute came and went, Coenu began to slow down and his hits were less accurate, Morta slowed to make it look like he too was gradually becoming more fatigued.
When he thought he had Morta down, Coenu thrust forward with a tackling move, Morta dodged easily and drove his elbow into his ribs, winding him easily. Coenu fell to the ground and gasped for air. Morta stood over him and grinned at Coenu's shocked expression.
"Morta, finish the battle already, the Academy doesn't teach bore tactics." Gura called from the sidelines.
Morta shrugged and looked back down to Coenu, "So… how would you like me to crush you?" Crush? What did he mean?
"Just do it, don't pester me with empty threats…" Coenu seethed.
"Very well…" Morta leaned in, "It seems these guys want a show… I think it's time I gave them one…" I saw Coenu's eyes widen in fear before Morta gripped him by his head and twisted it backward, a deafening crack resonated through the silent room and the ranks inhaled all at once. Shock stricken faces turned to sickened expressions as Morta picked up the seemingly dead Coenu and dragged him from the ring, waving his limp hand to the spectators.
It made me sick to my stomach when applause followed his return to his place.
"Warriors!" the Commander stood and walked to the front of the assembly, "I commend you all on your performances today, even if some of you feel you have done poorly." He glanced to Lega who had done worst of all of us, "Do not let any judgement lay on your minds, it will only untie your focus while you train. You will know your fate within the week. Stand." The entire room stood. "To your barracks."