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Taker of Life, Giver of Death - Part VI: Unwanted Guest
Posted By: Ian Barnes<panzerschreck15@netscape.net>
Date: 4 August 2002, 11:19 pm

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    In the ensuing aftermath of the Covenant's attack,the world of Radan Six was transformed from a lush jungle world into abarren wasteland completely devoid of life. While the Freedom Legions,armies of genetically enhanced warriors, tried their best to stop the oncomingCovenant onslaught, in the end they could do nothing but stand by and watchtheir planet turn into a lifeless skeleton.
    In the beginning, the Covenant forces attacked withhundreds of fast-attack craft and dropships. Taking every city on the planetby storm, the Covenant spared no one. While the Freedom Legions were madeup of hundreds of thousands of soldiers, only several thousand stayed behindto stay the Covenant invasion. The whole of the Freedom Legion had to surviveif humanity was to have any chance against this new threat. A brave handfulof Patriots stayed behind to prevent the Covenant from reaching the loadingzones where thousands upon thousands of Patriots were being loaded ontowhat would soon be cloaked frigates who would transport the Patriots toplaces where they could further protect humanity.
    The Patriots who stayed behind reported some finalmessages before they were overrun. They claimed that the Covenant theywere fighting seemed almost robotic. They were stronger and faster thananything the soldiers had ever seen. One man even reported watching anElite strike a marine with his gun. The Patriot's armor crumpled like analuminum can. Eventually, the struggling Patriots were overcome by thesheer numbers which the Covenant had displaced onto the ground. Reportsindicated the the Covenant outnumbered the marines ten to one. But evenin death, the marines saved hope for the rest of humanity.
    Once the ground invasion was complete, and Covenantcommanders reported there were no survivors, all Covenant forces withdrewfrom the planet. Once all troops were away, the full wrath of every Covenantcruiser was evident. Hundreds of plasma shots streaked through the atmosphere,boiling away water and jungle alike.
    Within minutes, under the immense firepower of theCovenant fleet, the entire surface of the planet would be coated in a layerof glass.
    Only a tiny fraction of the Covenant forces hadbeen sent down to the surface, and they had an overwhelming victory.


    David sat on the bridge of one the many cloaked frigates.He longed to get a glimpse of the enemy fleet, but the properties of thecloaking field prevented external viewing. He shook his head in disgust.
    It should have been me down there! Not my men.
    The squad leader had almost decided to order themen onto the ships, but made the horrible realization that someonehad to stay behind to ensure the safety of the others.
    Lives spent, not wasted.
    David sighed. At a rough estimate, what had oncebeen a fighting force comprised of three hundred fifty thousand cyborgs,now became three hundred twenty-five thousand. A fourteenth of the entirearmy, lost in that escape. Yes, the UNSC has more men. But that was justwhat they were. Men. Even Patriots were hard pressed to hold back the Covenant.Sadly, normal marines would be no more than cannon fodder.
    As David tried to stare out of the opaque window,an energy spike slammed into the ship like an oncoming train. All the lightswent black, and David heard some crew members yelling amongst the confusion.
    'Shields are at 30%!'
    'Cloaking field is unstable!'
    'FTL engine shields are cracked, we will need timeto repair them!'
    The squad leader had no idea what happened. Possiblya new Covenant weapon. But that was unlikely. He didn't think the Covenantwould venture to far from plasma. Panic had now encompassed the ship. Commandcrew and other officers were running about checking instruments and shoutingorders.
    David knew the ship was in trouble. If power wasn'trestored soon, the cloaking field would eventually dissipate, leaving onlytheir friagate, open to Covenant onslaught. But then, as soon as it haddissappeared, the power returned with another jolt. The engines were stillcracked, but they could be repaired later. An FTL jump was not an absolutenecessity at this point.
    As cheers resounded through the bridge, one officercalled out.
    'Captain! You better take a look at this!'
    The Captain of the frigate, a portly man and balding,waddled over to the officer's station.
    'What do you think this is Captain?'
    The Captain shrugged his shoulders, and returnedto his post, completely unamused at the single screen which was completelyblank, except for one long number: 18-1-12-21-1-14-4-4.


    The Commanding officer of the Covenant's flagshipon this mission growled as he was thrown to the ground when the energyspike slammed into the Covenant ship. Shields flickered and died. Sectionsof the ship caught fire and had to be sealed off.
    The Commander gazed upon the view screen along witha bewildered command crew as a number faded in and out: 18-1-12-21-1-14-4-4.Several minutes later, the power returned and the Covenant fleet pulledout of orbit and jumped back home to deliver their report to Warlord Zerr.


    It had been several days since the fleet had returnedhome, and the Warlord was less than pleased of the outcome.
    'Niuva, we took five thousand casualties?'
    'M'Lord, the casualties we inflicted must have reachedinto the tens of thousands, not including civilians. Their warriors foughtwell. But we fought better.' Niuva smiled.
    Zerr grinned for several moments while it seemedas if a light had gone on in his head.
    'So this was what I could not see. The Devils havea formidable army. This is why I could not see the outcome. The greatestevent in the history of the universe, and its fate has not yet been decided.Very well, Niuva, our next attack will commence when the moons have met,and the sun is at its peak.'
    Niuva stood thinking for a split second before noddingand leaving the room.
    Zerr marched into his main chamber, and sat downat a terminal, attempting to access the actual records of the battle, hungryfor knowledge. As he attempted to open the files, the screen blanked, leavinga simple strand of numbers: 18-1-12-21-1-14-4-4. Zerr slammed hisfist into the table next to him, shattering straight through it.
    A guard quickly ran into the room.
    'Quickly, what is wrong with this terminal?'
    'M'Lord, I am but a simple servant, I-'
    The Warlord cut him off, lashing out with one hand,grabbing the Elite by the throat, and snapping its neck like a small branch.That was another side effect of Zerr's increased neron doses. His strengthhad become incredible. More so than that of his gentically enhanced creations.Zerr cringed. Every day he was becoming less and less of what he was, andmore and more of something else.
    'Guards! Send for my warmaster!'
    Eager not to be punished like their counterpart,the guards sprinted off. Several minutes later, Niuva entered Zerr's chamber.
    'What is it M'Lord?'
    'I believe we have a virus in our HomeNet. I commandyou to get a specialist in here now, and purge our systems of this blight.I want it done by tomorrow.'
    'It will be so, M'Lord.' Niuva nodded and walkedsilently out of the room.
    Zerr took a stroll around his immense undergroundpalace. It was something he had not done for many years. The palace wasquite a marvel. It had taken ten years to build, even with several milliontroops slaving over it every day. Many of his creations had died buildingthis palace, but it didn't matter. For every Elite that fell, Zerr couldcreate a hundred more in its place.
    The Warlord marched around all day, examining hiscreations. Everywhere he went, Elites stood, unwaivering in their stance.He knew his troops feared for their lives every time he passed. But Zerrdid not want to kill. He did it out of anger, or necessity. Zerrwished his subjects wouldn't fear him, only respect him.
    Zerr finally realized he been walking all day throughhis massive underground palace. Deciding to return, he quickly paced throughthe hallways back to his main chamber. It took him almost an hour to walkall the way back using the shortest route.
    When the Warlord returned, he found a Covenant scientisthard at work trying to destroy the virus that had invaded the network.
    'How are you doing?'
    The scientist was so startled, it dropped its toolson the ground, and nervously picked them back up.
     'Almost..........done, M'Lord. The HomeNetshould be free of the virus. I purged everything.'
    'Excellent, I will test it now.'
    Zerr powered on the holopanel, and the screen wentblank, and displayed a long strand of characters: 18-a-12-u-1-n-4-d.
    'I don't know how this could have happened M'Lord,I purged everything!'
    The now enraged Warlord raised his fist, and justas he was about to strike down the scientist, the screen blanked and themessage 'Awaiting Command....' appeared.
    'Superb work. It appears everything is working.Now move along.'
    The scientist floated off, and Zerr walked off tofind Niuva.
    As Zerr walked off, the holo panel began flashingthree different numbers, one after the other, in a looping pattern.