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Covenant Theater: Part 2 - Restless Nightmares, Endless Conflicts
Posted By: Alex Ross<aross8@cinci.rr.com>
Date: 17 January 2003, 4:12 am

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      Hijacked phfor vessel, 5 hours after escape

      Tarshon slept peacefully in one of the phfor ship's chairs. The enforcer was kept guarded by two jackals and was allowed to sleep as well, though it could not rest easy, not with weight on his mind that he would be court-martialed before the greatest empire in the universe and possibly never find solace in returning to the homelands he betrayed.
      Tarshon flinched in his sleep, for a dream interrupted his mindless slumber. By the looks of the chaotic movements the dream turned out to be a nightmare...

      "For the gods sake, run!" Yelled a gold elite. The last surviving covenant ran for their lives to the dropship that would meet them at the LZ. Thick labyrinth jungles slowed them down. They were running totally blind in the middle of the night, and only had the sound of the dropship up ahead to guide them. Only about 500 more yards, the then blue elite Tarshon thought.
      The ambush failed terribly; all they had to do was sneak up and destroy their communications. Who knew they had fucking landmines around that precise location, Tarshon wondered angrily. A mine was set of by a careless jackal, which resulted in the destruction of everything below the torso, leaving nothing behind except half a corpse and plenty of purple blood on the ground. The nearby guards heard the disturbance and immediately opened fire on the covenant ambush team. They were quickly routed into the jungles, near the camp. Tarshon watched in terror as he witnessed sniper fire cutting down most of the team, and it was sheer luck that Tarshon escaped unscathed.
      Now he was running for his life in fear. Fear not only of the distant engines behind him, but of not making it to the dropship. Tarshon's worst horror was confirmed. The moment the surviving members of his team emerged from the jungle at the Landing Zone, the dropship lay in ruins, a smoldering pile of fire and leaking plasma batteries.
      "COMRADES! PREPARE TO DEFEND YOURSELVES!"The gold elite shouted. The grunts were terrified and immediately took cover in the flaming wreckage; the other covenant, just catching on to the grunts' plan, followed. The LZ was a flat plain surrounded by the jungle, so they were essentially trapped. If they escaped into the forest, they would not be available for pickup and will probably face their demise, by THEIR evil hands. What's worse, he realized the enemy was moving in from all directions. Immediately the damned humans emerged from the jungles where they had come from and tried to nail Tarshon's team down in the wreckage. Assault rifle ricocheted off the dropship's hull all round them and one bullet hit a fleeing grunt trying to take cover, killing it instantly.
      "WE NEED REINFORCEMENTS. I SAY AGAIN, WE NEED BACK UP ASAP!!"The golden elite shouted this in an earpiece that only commanders can use. Tarshon watched as the jackals blocked what they could with their shields. He observed each of his elite comrades' shields getting weaker and weaker as they surfaced from the wreckage occasionally trying to hold the humans off. The engines the ambush team heard were those of a large vehicle that dwarfed even their own wraiths, and was possibly the only thing that could stand up to them. The behemoth emerged from the forest, readying its turrent on their position.
      "GRENADE!!"one of the grunts shouted. Tarshon didn't seem to hear the cry as he was staring in awe at the human vehicle. The fragmentation landed right in front of Tarshon, and then he caught notice immediately. All he could do was stare at the archaic creation, and feared even to move for fear of getting shot. Which way to die? Too late. The explosion engulfed Tarshon whole...

      "DAMNIT!!" Tarshon yelled as he woke up in the chair. Another elite immediately went to his aid.
      "What's wrong commander?!?" The blue elite questioned with fear.
      "Those...tho-this wound...is...is tearing my face apart. I can handle the pain though. Don't pity me bitch!"
      "Sorry sir." Tarshon was awestruck that he caught his involuntary lie. The words just came to him so quickly.
      "Any response from fleet command?"
      "Nope, apparently no one has intercepted our distress signal. We are still on route, for our turf, but we are still in phfor territory. We lack slipspace generators to propel us even out of the outer rims. We should also keep our eyes open just in case. Some phfor ship might question our trajectory, but so far, no encounters."
      Tarshon stared at the resting enforcer, and immediately felt a rage surge with in him, the rage being born from the lack of knowing what the hell was going on.
      "Wake him up." The two jackals poked at the enforcer until the pathetic creature awakened. Tarshon approached the enforcer slowly and kneeled before it. "There was a motive for our capture, wasn't there? Your encounter with our crew, you wanted to know something right?" The enforcer stared soullessly at Tarshon. Now that it had seen its comrades executed in such a horrific and merciless manner, it had mixed feelings of fear and a determination not to help the enemy. The enforcer answered nothing. Tarshon reiterated. "Why were we captured? We know for a fact your slave economy is booming and you have an active...well it was active...neutrality with the covenant empire." The enforcer stared blankly still, refusing to yield. Tarshon rose off the ground and sighed in mere frustration. "Well I guess it doesn't matter now. We'll find out anyway. You could have saved us the effort."
      Tarshon turned to walk to the cockpit to observe the radar, but stopped when he heard the enforcer growl something.
      "What'd you say?" Tarshon asked forcefully.
      "We want it!! NOW!!" The enforcer got up and began to limp its way to the bewildered red elite. "WE WANT IT NOW DAMN YOU. WHO SAYS YOU'RE THE CHOSEN ONES? WHERE HAVE WE SEEN THIS IN WRITING?!? WHY DO YOU INSIST ON BEING SO ARROGANT? YOU MAY HAVE IT, BUT WE'LL GET IT!" The enforcer was rendered unconscious by a blue elite from behind due to a substantial gun butt blow to the neck.
      "What the shit was that about? I saw a passion in that creature's eyes!" The blue elite wondered.
      Tarshon was for first time in his life afraid of this new threat. The Testament Empire...how could they have known? This would take time to set right. He didn't know what the phfor wanted, but Tarshon new for a fact that if they hadn't revolted on that world, they might have given it to them...whatever it is. But also if they had been captured, Tarshon knew they wouldn't have been slaves; they would have been prisoners of war.

      Covenant Capital World, Capital Palace

      Omnitus read the report on his holographic screen.
      "Let me get this straight. There is a phfor ship out there sending a distress signal in our language and asking for assistance?"
      "Not only that sir." The red elite in the room with him showed him the end encryption for the message. The language was different.
      "That's the [forerunner] symbol on our backs! If that's the case, those are our soldiers onboard that vessel. They must have escaped somehow. Send word to Danterus to ready his ship for departure and intercept that phfor vessel."
      "Are you sure they are ours?"
      "Aren't you?" Omnitus said while pointing to the forerunner symbols on the holographic message that hovered above his table.
      "Yessir. Sorry to wake you sir." The red elite ran outside of Omnitus's palace suite. Both prophets and high-class elites dwelled in the palace capital. The palace was on the 105th floor of the capital complex, and the palace itself was 8 stories added on. The suites surrounded the main atrium, which dwarfed anything the universe had ever seen in terms of size and beauty combined. Omnitus turned off his holograph and walked out of his suite and emerged on a walkway, circling all the way around the side of the atrium on the eight floor. The atrium itself was 80 yards in diameter. He looked down at the ground floor over the balcony and observed the elite forerunner symbol in the center of the circular floor. The floor was a perfectly hued shade of dark blue, and the forerunner symbol resonated gently from a darkened light blue to a slightly brighter state. Six majestic pillars sprout up around the symbol from the floor to the ceiling, but there was something neat about them; they were made of water, water gravitational manipulated to form pillars that gently rippled. They were beautiful in the sense that during nighttime, they glowed a light blue on the outside, by a special lighting technique around the pillars,that gave the ripples themselves a profound beauty. The lights were on the sides of the balconies on each floor and shined directly into the aqua pillars. This was purely decorative of course, not structural. Also there was a10 foot cylindrical wall around each of the pillars on the ground floor so no one could touch and disrupt the water, especially the playful grunts. The pillars were also far away from the balcony railings so no one could reach out and make contact.
      Omnitus looked around at other symbols of luxury and technological superiority that filled the atrium. The atrium lighting was performed by hovering light blue spheres that hovered near the walls and along the railings, held in place by hidden anti-gravity projectors. The rest of the atrium was shaded the same dark blue as found on the ground floor, where the specific light-blue orbs reflected off the organically curved and shining walls beautifully. The walls were outlined with a radiant gold trim that matched his armor, and also some of the walls had covenant inscriptions on them, usually prayers or quotes from various leaders. The walls also curved outward and inward in random areas, just like an ocean's waves would, giving even the walls some form of nature's characteristics as well.
      Above him, directly above the forerunner symbol on the ground and in the middle of the six aqua pillars, was a transparent diamond dome, the covenant's greatest achievement. Finding an abundant amount of diamonds, scorching them at the hottest of temperatures, curving the hardest material known to man, and refracting its light so the diamond was transparent was the ultimate symbol of power and majesty. Had humans visited this place in peace, they would have considered the palace the dwelling of the seraphim or some elvish holy land (Lord of the Rings anyone?). But what Omnitus saw beyond the dome transcended even the majesty of the dome itself. The nighttime sky, clear of clouds and ample with stars was in perfect view. But furthermore, something else dwarfed the stars. Omnitus stared awestruck at a certain star. So far away, but close enough so as to discern it from the stars. All of his luxuries paled in comparison at this sight, but he realized it was actually outside the covenant solar system. The star marked the direction of the nearest ring to the solar system and glowed a magnificent blue.
      Omnitus's mind was then mesmerized by a pang of painful remembrance. The stories. They were so hard to accept. Halo was a constant reminder of the forerunner's malevolent nature. The holocausts, the destruction, the war. The covenant had prevailed, but for what? To live their lives in paranoia on a grand scale? That was no way to live, but once the last of the forerunner were exterminated, he thought quietly, it would all be over. But now, what if the phfor...never mind, he thought to himself. The phfor aren't that drastic. Are they?
      Omnitus continued to stare at the heavens in that very direction, unaware that out of the corner of his eye on the same floor was another elite with a glowing dagger. It walked slowly behind Omnitus, closing the distance ever so silently...

      Slave ship, two more hours later

      The blast of the grenade knocked Tarshon back into a clump of the rubble, throwing out his shields. He was now open to enemy attack. His comrades were now on the other side of the wreckage with no cover except for the jackal shields. Tarshon, realizing the situation, allowed his shields to recharge, and leapt out of the wreckage. He charged the human soldiers head on with only a plasma rifle. The humans were concentrating their firepower on the cluster of exposed covenant troops. This is exactly what Tarshon needed.
      He let loose a deft blow on an unsuspecting human's jawline, unhinging the creature's lower jaw and pushing the upper jaw bone structure back into the mid neck section, where the oxygen flows. The man fell to the ground a split second later. His buddy turned to fire at Tarshon, but Tarshon had the quicker finger and sent a three shot burst into the man's chest, exposing the man's rib cage. The human armor was light, for these were mere army units, not marines.
      Tarshon continued his somewhat clandestine charge at the human lines. He ambushed two more guards by attacking from the side. After knocking both humans to the ground, he unsheathed a glowing dagger and made sure the small creatures squirmed no more. He got up, but was pushed from behind by what appeared to be a human commander. The shove knocked him off his feet and sent his face into the dirt. Tarshon cocked his head around and watched as the human aimed the gun at his eyes, but noticed behind the human that a barrage of needler rounds were in the process of attaching to the man's back. The human screamed in agony as he felt each one slice through his skin, and fire the gun wildly into the air. And then the finale. The needlers detonated, ripping a gash in his back that destroyed his vertebrae bone structure and splattered blood on Tarshon's shield. The shots were made by elites who, catching on to Tarshon's bold move, provided suppression fire. The blast sent a shockwave through the ground as the human tank fired a round at the dropship zone. His gold elite commander was dismembered brutally by the direct explosion in front of him, and half of the covenant forces in the dropship ruins were annihilated as well. Tarshon turned around at the blast impact moment, and was now lacking any hope of survival what so ever.
      He finally arose from the ground only to face a new nightmare within a nightmare...

      Tarshon awoke once again. The lack of food the phfor gave the POWs had damaged Tarshon's metabolic rate and induced sleep quite frequently in times of low activity. However, if it ever came to combat, no matter what his condition, sleep would be the last thing on his mind. His comrades had the same problem of course.
      "Sir, contact on radar! It's covenant!" a blue elite exclaimed. Tarshon's heart leapt as he heard those words. "It's Danterus's flagship, Judgment, and we just received a signal from Danterus himself that we are to fly to docking bay 7. ETA with Judgment, 9 minutes." Every single member of the covenant crew exhaled a sigh of welcome relief. It had been 2.5 days since they were captured, 2 days spent in the phfor ship on delivery approximately half a day in the vessel during their escape. "Judgment is in phfor territory sir. If we're caught-"
      "I know I know." Tarshon acknowledged. Just then a massive contact appeared on radar behind the slave ship. It turned out the massive contact were 5 phfor destroyers. Apparently they came through slipspace and the slave ship's radar just missed them. Tarshon's thoughts were then filled with anxiety and terror. If those ships contacted the phfor capital, they would know of the covenant's presence in their space. That would be the spark to ignite a major war that could engulf all races in the vicinity of the covenant solar system. Tarshon turned to the said blue elite. "YOU HAD TO OPEN YOUR MOUTH!"

      "Commander, I count 5 phfor warships." A red elite informed his commander.
      "Prepare to open a hailing frequency and initiate the computer translators. I want Seraph pilots on standby alert. Begin the battery charge on the Judgment." Danterus was hoping though that he didn't have to use Judgment, a powerful weapon only available only in three of the thousands of covenant vessels. The weapon fired a compressed form of plasma at higher temperatures, a greater velocity, and in greater quantities. Once the weapon was charged, the ship could fire two powerful shots at 3 second intervals. The plasma shot was said to do critical damage twice as powerful as the MAC round employed by the human race. Danterus's ship Judgment was the first in its class of new vessels and of course the weapon itself was bestowed the same name.
      Danterus was nervous. Not only was he caught with a phfor slave vessel with covenant onboard, he was in phfor territory. The covenant had nothing except Tarshon's unit as evidence that the phfor made the first aggressive move, but if both Danterus and the slave ship were wiped out, the covenant would never know of the potential threat that loomed over their empire. To top it off, the phfor must have intercepted the distress signal from the slave ship and knew the covenant fugitives were still alive and the phfor probably knew why Judgment was here. If that's the case, anything that ensued now would end in conflict.
      "Delay hailing frequency order. Continue Judgment battery run, pinpoint a firing solution on the five phfor vessels with charged missiles, activate defensive pulse laser batteries, and bring the engine from 50 to 75% capacity." All the other elites on the bridge turned to look at their commander, knowing the ominous thought in their minds that battle loomed. The phfor were expecting an explanation via communications of course on why a covenant flagship was in their space. The last thing they expected was an immediate attack. "Deploy seraphs! Have 4 escort the slave ship." After that everything happened at once. "Designate enemy vessels p1, p2, p3, p4, and p5 according to proximity towards us. Once you have a firing solution, launch a salvo of missiles at p1 and p2. All seraphs are ordered to engage 3 remaining destroyers. Make it happen!"
      Seraphs glided swiftly out of the docking holds, numbering 20 all en route to the destroyers. Four more were deployed to the slave ship, which was slowly flying to the Judgment, but not fast enough. The missile salvos were deployed, and all the phfor ships immediately went to evasive maneuvers in a desperate move to dodge the attack. The missiles 15 seconds later impacted their targets, destroying the phfors' shields and tearing gaping holes in the ships' armor. The plasma melted through the armor and passed through two deck layers, consuming any phfor crewmembers in the vicinity of the breach and disrupting pressure and gravitational systems onboard the ships. The aftermath of the attack left two ships drifting defenselessly in space. The seraphs began their assault opening a barrage of plasma burst fire on the phfor destroyers. The destroyers retaliated, activating laser batteries that targeted the seraphs. They were saving their main weapons for Judgment.
      "Sir, the phfor have retaliated with missile salvo!" The missiles glared orange on the display in front of him. There were about 18 missiles total, all heading for his ship. Unlike the phfor, Danterus had the element of surprise and plenty of reaction time to dodge the missiles. That time was waning though.
      "Come left 45 degrees and up 15 degrees. Concentrate pulse laser fire on incoming missiles! Engines to full flank speed!" The ship accelerated upward and to the left in an attempt to bring the majority of the pulse lasers on the ships sides bearing down on the phfor missiles. Blue streaks of pulse laser fire spewed from their cannons, and managed to shoot down 6 of the missiles. The rest arced from the port side to the aft of Judgment. Now the remaining twelve were in furious pusuit behind him. "Bring us right 90 degrees and down 13 degrees. We'll make a death run for the opening between ships p4 and p5. Alert all seraphs to remain outside our trajectory (and the missiles' trajectory as well of course)." The ship turned to face the phfor vessels clustered together, and Judgment sped toward the opening between ships p4 and p5 that was getting smaller as p5 was moving closer into the cluster. No tactics. The cluster formation was exactly what Danterus anticipated...and wanted.
      "Sir what about our comrades on the slave ship?" A blue elite asked apprehensively.
      "The four seraphs will guard the vessel. Now we will pass between p4 and p5. I want pulse fire to fire off at both ships. Then once we have passed, and the ship p5 has occupied the area just passed through, their own missiles will hit p5, possibly destroying the enemy vessel." His words were those of an oracle. Fifteen seconds later, the ship passed between p4 and 5, launching pulse laser fire at both vessels, but sustaining damage from the laser batteries marking the destroyers' hulls. The covenant ship's shields merely rippled from the blasts as it sped out of effective targeting range. Judgment passed only 100 meters from the destroyer's hull. The missiles in pursuit slammed into destroyer p5. Thanks to the pulse laser fire and the early attack by the seraphs, the ships shields were nonexistent. The impacts incinerated the hull and decompressed the ship, leaving nothing now but a powerless derelict.
      "Damage report!" Danterus barked.
      "We're at 85% shield capacity sir. The seraphs are returning to their attack on destroyers p3 and p4. Judgment is at 95% sir."
      "Bring us into a 180 degree turn back to the phfor ships and prepare a firing solution on destroyer p4." The seraphs continued to engage the destroyers. They possessed pretty effective shield generators, and reflected most of the firepower the phfor threw at them. Out of the 20 that attacked the destroyers, only 3 were lost in enemy action. The other four seraphs escorted the slave ship outside combat zone.
      A seraph then fired a fuel rod slug into the engine itself, and the phfor ships' engine finally gave into the onslaught. The engine core detonated, severing the rear section from the rest of the ship in a gargantuan explosion. Destroyer p3 was no more. The last destroyer launched a missile salvo, this time locked on for the seraphs. Four fire flowers blossomed in space as 4 seraphs fell victim to the missiles. The remaining seraphs managed to evade. Just then a large blue orb ripped through the destroyer's hull through the bow and came out unscathed in the rear. A chain reaction of explosions erupted in the engine area of the phfor destroyer that the Judgment shot's path inside the ship, splitting the ship in half. The Judgment orb had torn a pathway through the ship and as a result, the shot that had already decompressed the ship made contact with the wiring in the phfor destroyer, igniting instantaneous fires, one which destroyed the engine core, which resulted in the series of explosions just witnessed. The covenant cruiser had finally proved that the phfor were dealing with an unconquerable foe. The second shot the Judgment charged was clearly not necessary.
      "Brilliant tactics commander! Also, no phfor communications were intercepted. We don't have to worry about phfor reinforcements now" A blue elite exclaimed approvingly. Danterus humbly nodded and ordered the 4 seraphs escorting the slave ship to return to Judgment.
      Danterus, despite the mission being considered a success, still sought to punish the phfor. Once he heard what Tarshon had to inform the covenant of though, that meant what happened with these phfor destroyers was only a prelude of a conflict yet to come...      

      Covenant Palace
      Time where last part left off

      Omnitus perceived a shadow against the circular. He saw it was an elite shape, but in a hostile stance. He slowly turned around only to be kicked in the face, by a giant hoof. Purple blood whipped to the side, over the balcony the balcony, and into a water pillar. His blood was forever a trademark of the palace. Omnitus fell backwards, catching sight of his foe, a shiny copper colored elite. Only special assassinations required these elite units. With that grave thought in mind, Omnitus rolled to the side and barely dodged the dagger swipe that impacted the ground he was on a second ago. Omnitus quickly rose and threw a roundhouse kick into the copper elite's chest. A shield flickered and faded.
      "What business does an assassin have with the Commander-In-Chief of the entire covenant armed forces?" The only answer that Omnitus received was a charge knocking him against the wall. The copper elite ripped an orb light out of its anti-gravity location and hurled it at Omnitus. He relocated his head a split second before the orb shattered against the wall he was leaning on. Hot plasma seeped out of the shattered orb as the assassin walked slowly up to the pinned golden elite. Omnitus gave the impression he was severely weakened...false impression. He let his leg reach out and sweep kicked the copper elite to the ground. Omnitus leapt to his feet and performed a crushing stomp right on the spinal cord of the copper elite. The shields took most of the punishment, but Omnitus kept his foot down on the now pinned creature.
      "WHO SENT YOU?!" Omnitus shouted, probably waking up everybody else in the palace. The copper elite answered nothing. Omnitus grabbed the creature by the neck with a god-like grip and dragged the elite to the wall. He immersed the head of the pinned creature with both of his hands into the glowing hot plasma from the orb on the ground. The puddle itself was one inch thick and did not dissolve through the floors, for with this kind of lighting sytem, the floors were plasma proof. The creatures face was shoved deep into the plasma, and the shields immediately flickered out. At that point the copper elite screamed a muffled scream. His arms and legs flailed in despair for all he could do was bear the pain of plasma incinerating his eye sockets as well as the rest of his face. Omnitus raised the elite's face out of the plasma, with most of its face being desecrated by the plasma. The creature's face was bleeding profusely and the blood dripped down the creature's armor, giving the once beautiful copper shine a grotesque look to it. "WHO SENT YOU?!?"
      The copper elite, choked up blood spilling purple blood on Omnitus's armor, for the plasma had made contact with the creature's vocal cords. "N-N...Nev...er!" Upon hearing this word quite clearly, Omnitus re-immersed the copper elite's face into the hot plasma and the creature screamed bloody murder. Steam now rose from the smoldering face with blood pouring into the plasma, and the struggling eventually grew less and less until it was just periodic twitching. Ten seconds later, the twitching ceased. Omnitus threw the body aside in rage. The head was now an exposed facial skull area covered in blood and marked by plasma scorching all over the bone structure. It would be a pity if that creature was actually still alive, that's for sure, Omnitus thought.
      He rose from the ground, reentered his suite and with the push of a button summoned security. He knew now that the person who wanted him dead had lost the element of discreteness and all the covenant would be on the lookout. He wondered now what the hell was going on. A covenant ship hijacked, the possibility of a galactic war if diplomacy and security were not employed, and a war on three fronts: human, phfor, and whatever covenant traitor who's trying to have him assassinated.

Note: I remember the good ol days where I believe their names were Zenith and Jonas were making their own Halo real time movies on a professional level. I of course was not bestowed with such an education in that field, let alone a gift like they possessed. It was pretty damn cool. It would just be interesting to see if them or any other 3D designer could try and design my idea for the covenant palace in a still picture or something like that. Just a suggestion, but one I would like to build on.