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Taker of Life, Giver of Death - Part II: The End of the Beginning
Posted By: Ian Barnes<panzerschreck15@netscape.net>
Date: 1 July 2002, 7:27 am

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    Little David Brothers, age nine, sat contentedly in his sandbox, building forts for his holographic troops. He looked skyward and giggled as a flock of geese flew overhead, honking as they went. Although he didn't know it yet, his birth world of Radan Six held many wonders. As he grew older, he would discover the magnificent falls, crystal blue lakes, and the lush green mountains with snowcapped peaks. But for now, he was perfectly happy with his holographic armies fighting to the death.
    Radan Six was on the fringe of civilization, in a far away arm of the Milky Way galaxy. Sparsely populated and made up of mostly dense forest, it was the perfect testing site for humanity's latest invention, the Freedom Legions. An immense army of genetically altered humans, designed to protect humanity should the need ever arise again.
    David Brothers had often seen them, although the troops didn't even notice him. He was quiet and stealthy, watching the strange men run training exercises. His parents had often read him stories about the Spartans of past, who had helped defend Humanity from the Covenant.
    David knew who both the Spartans, and the Covenant were, but had no pictoral representation to go with the Covenant. He had always assumed the Covenant to be enormous monsters with large claws, fangs, and red bloodshot eyes.
    One day, as his parents read to him, and showed him pictures of the mighty Spartans, an alarm went off in David's head. He examined the pictures closely, remembering every detail.
    The next morning, David wandered off into the forest, once again without the consent of his parents. He climbed a tree, remaining motionless for hours, waiting to see these mysterious soldiers. Finally, after hours of waiting, he saw them. Clad in black or silver armor. Not the same color as the Spartans, but the armor was strangely reminiscent of the Spartans. It was more sleek and streamlined, yes, but the original design could still be seen.
    Then, the black armored soldiers began engaging in a live fire exercise. Shooting at each other! David stared wide-eyed as silver shimmers appeared around every man when bullets hit him. He had seen holovids. The same thing happened to the old Spartans.
    David was convinced, this was the secret weapon the UNSC had been bragging about on the news lately, but had refused to say any more about. And almost in his own backyard! He could only imagine the praise that would be showered upon him at school when he told his story.
    He sat dreamily for several moments before he was quickly, but gently snatched out of the tree. He was placed on the ground, surrounded by a handful of the black-armored soldiers. He had to crane his neck upward to look at them. There were six of them. Each one carried a large weapon, an assault rifle.
    David was only nine, but he had the mind of a seventeen year old. His parents had often seen his gift, and wondered what special talents their young boy might have. Many times had his parents called over the neighbors to witness his sophisticated battles using his holographic troops. David's father was ex-UNSC, a captain. He had often openly admitted to his wife that not even he could come up with tactics as brilliant and cunning as his nine year old son's.
    There David sat, surrounded by the six soldiers. He had no idea what they wanted with him. Suddenly fear lanced through his body, and David's heart began beating like he had just run a marathon. He tried to leave, but a firm hand reached out, grabbing David on the top of his head. Whatever the soldiers were doing, it obviously involved him in some important part of it. For the time being, he was their prisoner.
    There he stood, for ten minutes, without saying a word. He was too scared to speak. His mind raced, calculating all the possible outcomes of this encounter.
    Will they kill me for spying?
    For the past ten minutes since he'd tried to escape, David hadn't looked up from the ground once. It had been eerily silent. Finally he forced his body to look up. The soldiers, clad in their black armor, stood like statues, staring into the forest keeping watch. David watched them carefully. The soldiers of the Freedom Legion, who David would soon come to know as PATRIOTS, allowed themselves nothing. They didn't twitch, kick dirt, anything. They were the most disciplined group of people he had ever seen.
    The men, like black monoliths, seemed to be waiting for something. And they were. Moments later, a medium drop ship, a Pelican-118/E appeared above a patch of trees. Its engines rumbled as it touched down in a clearing fifty paces from the squad's position.
    David immediately recognized the ship. It had been modified countless times since the waning years of the war against the Covenant. Every time it was some minor improvement. More aerodynamic, better engines, new weaponry. It upgrade came closer to the culmination of, what was in David's mind, the perfect drop ship. In his opinion, David thought it was more of an assault craft now, rather than a drop ship.
    One soldier, clad in a dull silver armor, rather than black, marched over to David. He was bigger by at least six or seven inches over every other trooper. David guessed he was close to eight feet tall, probably the squad leader.
    The enormous soldier motioned David to his feet, and ushered him towards the drop ship.
    As the entire squad hopped onto the drop ship, the squad leader made sure the area was secure, before helping his captive into the ship. Finally, once everyone was aboard, and safety harnesses were secure, the drop ship roared off into the afternoon sky.
    David had a horrible sensation in his stomach that he would never see his home again, his family. He wanted to cry, but seeing all the battle-hardened soldiers all around him forced him not to. The soldiers showed no signs of weakness, and neither would he.
    Peering out the rear of the drop ship, David saw dozens of trees whizzing by, so fast that they became a giant blur.
    Peering toward the silver-armored soldier next to him, David looked up, and spoke for the first time.
    'Am I a prisoner?' His voice was shaken, and sounded as if David required every ounce of courage just to open his mouth.
    The squad leader next to him grinned behind his helmet, and shook his head sideways. David let out a sigh of relief, and spoke again with renewed confidence.
    'Where are you taking me?'
    The squad leader, as well as several Patriots around him, let out a loud chuckle.
    'Somewhere where you're going to need every ounce of brain power and courage you can find.'
    At the squad leader's remark, several other Patriots let out another chuckle.
    David once again went back into his own little corner, letting his mind wander. Would his family miss him? Sadness and fear raced through his veins like adrenaline all the way until the drop ship touched down. It would be the last time David would ever think of family.