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Taker of Life, Giver of Death - Part III: Dreams Into Nightmares
Posted By: Ian Barnes<panzerschreck15@netscape.net>
Date: 11 July 2002, 11:48 pm

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    Zerr, Warlord and ruler of all Covenant forces, satin frustration on his royal dais. The magnificent throne was carved froma single piece of glass. Light entered, twisted through a maze, and exited,filling the massive throne room with thousands of different, unique streaksof light.
    Several meters away, at the bottom of a flight ofstairs, lay the body of an Elite. Lying in a pool of its own blood, itwas a lifeless testament to the awesome power of the warlord. The assassin'sweapon, still being grasped by the lifeless hand, was unused.
    Zerr growled, someone would have to clean up themess. He ordered for his Warmaster, Niuva, to have several of his men assistin the clean-up.
    In the twenty years since Zerr and his armies hadreturned to the Milky Way, they had done very little. Several raids hereand there. But the outcome was always the same: Complete destruction ofall humans in an extreme state of efficiency. There was never even timefor a distress call. The results never changed, one hundred percent oftargets eliminated, zero percent casualties.
    Zerr shook his head.
    No, one thing has changed.
    Zerr himself had changed. He had been taking increasingamounts of neron every day. He had to see the outcome of his work. Butevery time he peered towards Earth, his visions were blocked from him.Only Earth, surrounded by an Abyss. Nothing more, nothing less, every time.But the increased dosages had been changing him.
    Now, rather than seeing the future, he wasthe future, and present, at the same time. Zerr offered himself an exampleof his latest powers.
    During the latest assassination attempt, not onlydid Zerr witness the event through his own eyes, but through the eyes ofthe assassin, his Warmaster, the wall, the air, Everywhere. He was himself,and everything else at the same time. He both saw the fear, and felt thefear of his assassin. This new power disturbed Zerr. It was the only thinghe truly feared. The Warlord was terrified that this power wouldeventually destroy him, drive him mad. Zerr clenched his eyes shut, tremblingwith anger, sadness and fear.
    What have I made myself into?
    He reopened them several moments later to witnesshis Warmaster, and several other Elites dragging off the body of theirfallen comrade. It was a deranged comrade, but a member of the clan nonetheless.The assassin would be given an honorable burial. The killer couldn't beblamed.. He simply didn't realize what he was getting himself into.He couldn't have possibly known until seconds before his death.
    Zerr's head drooped, and he sighed heavily. SeveralElites standing guard nearby glanced toward their leader, assuring hiswell-being, then returned their gaze toward the wide entry way into Zerr'schamber.
    Rising from his glass dais, Zerr retired to hisprivate bed chamber. Laying his exhausted body down onto his extravagantbed, he slept. Or attempted to. His body was racked with nightmares, andhorrible visions.
    Zerr had experienced this same dream every nightfor many years. It was always the same, spare the ending. Each time, theending stretched on a little longer, adding more to his terrible dreams.This night, Zerr envisioned himself, alongside thousands of his warriors,as they battled human forces. To Zerr's expectations, his forces were slaughteringthe Devils, when a rumbling shook the ground, and a blinding light filledthe sky. The light encompassed everything for a split second, then in theaftermath which followed, there was nothing.
    The Warlord awoke with a scream, ushering in halfa dozen of his guards, who helped Zerr to his feet. After several minutesof helping their Master gain his bearings, the guards parted his bed chamberand returned to their previous posts.
    For several minutes, the Warlord sat on his hover-bed,dripping with sweat and out of breath. As a precaution, Niuva had beensent to examine Zerr. He entered the bed chamber silently, his gold armorshimmered in the moonlight which shone through Zerr's window. Zerr satfacing the doorway.
    'Ah, Master, you remembered this time.' Niuva grinned.
    'Remembered what?' Zerr carried a confused lookon his face.
    'My lessons about not leaving your back to an opendoor.'
    Zerr grinned.
    'Niuva, you forget, I knew you were coming hereeven before you did. That particular lesson matters not.'
    'Very well M'Lord. My guards say your nightmaresare troubling you again.'
    Zerr hung his head. 'They are.'
    'Well M'Lord, these visions seem to correspond toour Great Plan. Perhaps we should postpone our armies until these visionspass. Perhaps, it is a sign from God, signaling us to-.'
    Zerr held up a hand, shaking his head.
    'No, no postponing. Everything shall continue asplanned. My saying still holds true.'
    The ability to see the future does not grantus the right to change it.
    'Try and get some rest, M'Lord. Tomorrow we begin.'
    Niuva gave a curt nod before spinning around andexiting the room.


    Zerr awoke the next morning, donned his armor, andmarched into the throne room. He stared straight ahead into the eyes andsouls of his guards, showing off his courage. He would need all of it inthe coming weeks. His armor rustled and clinked as grieves and boots, gauntletsand chest armor collided together. Beaneath his armor, the dark green skinglistened with sweat. Zerr had never been more nervous.
    Zerr's Na-Grer, Niuva, spotted his master amongthe guards and quickly approached.
    'M'Lord, your armies are ready. Here is the battleplan I have drawn up.' Niuva handed a scroll of holo-paper to Zerr. Afterexamining the document for several moments:
    'I concur with your tactics. It will be over swiftly.But it will last long enough for the Devils to know our presence. For there,we will move on other planets.'
    'M'Lord, why don't we destroy Earth itself?'
    Zerr shook his head and stared at the ground.
    'Because, Na-Grer, I have waited three hundred yearsfor this. I want to know of the fear, I want to see the fear when eachand everyone one of their worlds begins to crumble.'
    'Very well, M'Lord. Our troop ships await your orders.'
    Zerr grinned, chuckled, put his hands together behindhis back, and spoke.
    'Commence attack on...-'
    'Radan Six, M'Lord.'
    'Ah, yes, thank you Niuva. Have our carriers proceedat your leisure.'
    'M'Lord, do you wish me to accompany our forces,for morale?'
    'No, you have more important duties here.'
    'Yes, M'Lord.'
Niuva barked a series of orders into his com. Curious, Zerr openeda holo-link to a camera on an orbital plasma cannon. Dozens of carriers,each capable of carrying several thousand men, entered the Slipstream oneby one, until the entire fleet had vanished from view, leaving behind emptyspace filled with a greenish glow.