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The Long Ride Home 10 - The Awakening
Posted By: Joshua Barreto<jrunfire@yahoo.com>
Date: 29 June 2002, 10:06 pm

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      Rajihn awoke to find himself aboard a Covenant medical treatment vessel. There were five in formation, creating a half circle, then one leading them giving it the formation of a ring with an arrow shooting through it. They were only three times the size of Bandits with a silver blue sheen. The haziness of his vision gave way; and a grunt gave him something to drink.
      "G-good to see you're okay!"
      Rajihn snapped his jaws at the animal. He didn't really care much for them, or the jackals. although the lesser species served with the Al'djurians, they were too stupid to realize their own slavery. Rajihn had remembered the history texts talking about how the Al'djurians had captured and enslaved the grunt species on their homeworlds. They farmed them on Al'djuria, genetically enhancing their brain power throughout the generations. Over a hundred years of treatment, and the little beings were still stupid. Oh well, it wasn't his place to value who the priests declared as the chosen tools of the gods.
      "Where are we? Why am I not suited for combat?"
      He looked at himself, as he interrogated the blue skinned scoundrel. Rajihn had just realized his armor was taken off. In war, unless you were being promoted, your armor never came off for the Al'djurian warrior.
      "Answer me now, or I shall slay you here!"
      The grunt ran off, fast enough for Rajihn's attempt to grab him to fail. He got off his hovering energy mat, and it shut down after he stepped away from it. A red armored Elite stepped into the space where Rajihn stayed. He bowed his head as is customary for respecting the leadership.
      "Warrior, though you may have let the human slip through your claws, our leadership has decided to give you a second chance. Your new armor awaits you. As a reward for your honorable bravery, you are promoted. You shall also be reassigned in a moment."
      "Aye sir."
      The Elite walked out. Five minutes later, Rajihn was equipping the new suit. After he put it on, his optically enhanced retinal HUD and com device came to life with the voice and image of Council.
      "Rajihn, your warrior spirit has inspired many. But your failure to keep watch over the human has not let our gods smile upon this day. Of course, there is a way to make an amends for your shortcomings. Our high commander has ordered for the human's execution upon sight. But his ambitions fall short of consideration for our fleet. The human is our key to destroying the flood, as well as bringing us back into favor with our beloved brethren. I order you, to capture this human. Do not slay him, but render him immobile. Do so before the others find him. I will be with you through the journey.
      Rajihn took all the information in, gave a deep breath, and growled. The enemy was creating situations that made his existence more complicated. Then he remembered how the human had rescued him from the clutches from something far more disturbing than death.
      "Elite Al'djurian Warrior Rajihn, are you willing to perform the task? If not, I could find another more suitable, but I shall deem you infected, and have you slain!"
      Rajihn shut his eyes. He grit his teeth, and breathed out the answer.
      "I humbly accept."
      "Pleasing warrior. There is a Banshee unit currently docked in Bay 7."
      "To whom does the vessel belong?"
      "It matters not, warrior. Go, claim it. We must be on our way, before Luthos gains knowledge of my escapade. I shall bring you to where others are waiting for us."
      Rajihn was puzzled for a moment.
      "I ask you for knowledge, Council. Please, tell me. What do you mean as in 'others'?"
      "I shall tell you now, dear Elite, that I am not the only one who holds these views of our commander."
      He walked down the extremely narrow corridor out of the medic station, and proceeded to docking bay 7. He saw the Banshee, magnetically attached in between the walls that made a 'U' to the outside. The bays were mere openings where small vessels could unload their passengers. He stepped in quickly, and flew off.
      He saw the black craters in the sands below, on the moonbase. Alot had taken place while he was inactive. The huge Covenant cruisers covered the air, hovering hundreds of meters above ground. Bandits and Banshees flew all over the place. Wraiths, Ghosts and troops littered the sandy dunes, in formation toward the structure. And yet above it, hovered Luthos' vessel.
      Rajihn landed where the Council had indicated. There was a large group, mostly Elites and Hunters, standing in formation facing Rajihn as he got out of the Banshee.
      "Council, what is this?"
      He saw a golden Elite armored warrior walk toward him. It was one of the commander's Lieutennants.
      "How convenient. The warrior who was saved by the human to lead us into favor with our brethren."
      "Hold your tongue Lt. Sarrion! He is one I can trust. Even through his ambitions and betrayal, a true Al'djurian warrior follows the code of Lulok. This one is indebted to the human with his very soul, and therefore would not falter from his given task. He is one that would not slay the human, even when the likelyhood of survival wanes."
      "You choose such an unworthy warrior, council. I will not let an Elite of lower rank command me!"
      "Swallow your pride fool! For it is I who commands you from this point on, not he! Rajihn is merely a representative, a physical manifestation of myself, the leader of our search party."
      The Elite growled and resumed his position within the formation. Rajihn felt a fear run through him, for he knew the nature of his kind. When the chance was given, the Elite would surely find a way to get Rajihn out of the picture. He felt within his heart the turmoil of code and obedience. Whether he was to obey the word of Luthos, and slay the human, or follow his code, and keep the human alive. Oh well, all he knew was that Council had just ordered him to perform a duty. That is all he needed at the moment. Council gave a final briefing.
      "As is known throughout the fleet, the human is within the base. He has within him knowledge to take command of it, or destroy it. His heading is in no doubt, the control center within VILO. It is there that the 'head' is most likely to be, so we must make our way to it softly. Our fellow warriors would impede our progress if they knew of our intentions."
      The Golden Elite stepped out from the ranks, barked an order, and ran into a nearby Bandit. The entire group did likewise, taking up seven Bandits, as they took to the airs and headed toward the structure. Rajihn took the lead in his Banshee. Suddenly, a transmission came in.
      "Warrior, state your heading and intentions!"
      The Al'djurian on the other side was Luthos.
      "Commander? Forgive me, I...I was ordered..." he was cut off by Council.
      "Luthos? You were charged with the task of capturing humans for our cause. When word of the flood outbreak reached your ears, you decided to take it upon yourself to destroy them. The decision to slay the human is unacceptable. I, and others in the fleet, have agreed, that you are not considering their well being. That human is the only hope to gain redemption from the death that awaits us from the rest of the Covenant. I plead with you now, let us pass, and capture the human. The Flood are certainly in our second objective, but our mission now is the human."
      "Council, you have betrayed me. The destruction of the flood comes first and foremost! I have no time for your sentimental decisions. With the filth's downfall, our brothers would surely forgive us!"
      "Luthos, let us be! Our paths are different now, but shall merge in the end!"
      With that, came the sounds of turrets blasting, plasma mortars tearing the air, and the screeching sound of Seraph fighters. The posts down by the structure's entrance started blasting away at the Bandits. The dropships returned with plasma fire of their own. They rolled and turned to avoid fire from their former comrades.
      "Council, I hope this bloodshed are the signs toward our future convergence!"
      One of the Bandit's columns blasted with a firey loudness. It broke open, spilling out its inhabitants to the ground 80 meters below. It spiraled as a fireball, making the smoke that came off look like a long, snaking beast of the air. It hit the sands below, sending the soft dirt in all directions, as the other column opened up. The Elites that survived the crash, along with two Hunters, immediately took cover from the turret blasts.
      "We have bee----own----need assistance!"
      An Elite cried from his seat, as others bowed their heads, and put their claws on their hearts.
      "The Elites below need our help! We mustn't abandon them!"
      Rajihn heard his comment. He just shut his eyes and told them with a loud voice.
      "There is nothing we can do for them. We must leave them to fight off our other brethren."
      Suddenly, the screeching sound of the Seraph fighters filled the air again, this time, alot closer.
      "Bandit units, prepare for Seraph attack."
      The Bandits turned their guns from the targets on the ground to the flying fighters. Plasma rounds flew back and forth from the two parties. Four Seraph fighters picked off one more of the Bandits, sending its firey purple body crashing to the sands below.
      "All units, concentrate your fire upon one fighter at a time!"
      Rajihn caught one passing by him with a fuel rod blast. It spun violently, and tipped the wing of another, sending them both into the structure's wall.
      "We are near the entrance to VILO'S tunnel system. The fighters cannot pursue within its confined space."
      The fighters continued their pursuit until Rajihn and his Bandit units disappeared into the structure's main access tunnel. Each Elite's apprehension died down after they knew they were basically clear.
      They all looked at each other, and bowed their heads as they let a quiet moment pass in memory of fallen friends-and former friends. The only sound made in their journey was that of the loud hum of the vessels as they made their way down the enormous, downward spiraling tunnel.
      "Council, I shall destroy your existence, if this human is found slain!"
      "Fret not, warrior. He is alive, his history is evidence of it."
      As they flew on, small groups of the flood warriors shot at them. The turrets disposed of them easily, mostly ignoring the non-armed creatures whenever they jumped in the air. They continued on, as the soft blue glow gave way to a greenish brown fog and overhanging bulbous sacs that burst forth with floodlings, filled the tunnel. The humming soon faded, as each of the Bandits flew into the dark, dank fog.

* * *

      Luthos was enraged that the Council had betrayed him. It was now clear that he had to act fast, before things got out of hand. Upon opening up a comm channel to every warrior, he gave his speech.
      "Our cannibalistic adversary's demise is at hand. The prize in which we seek, the honor and prestige within our beloved Covenant shall come into fruition with the realization of our victory over the flood. We are now going to the interior of the base, where our destiny awaits us. Come, my warriors, fight with honor, and with the zeal of martyrs, as we destroy the uninvited inhabitants of our strong moonbase!"
      The sounds of each Elite cheering and letting out their gutteral roar was deafening. All over, each Elite's bloodlust increased significantly. Luthos stepped onto the elevator platform, along with his escort and went down into the structure.

* * *

      Master Chief remembered hearing a recording from his Spartan warriors on Reach. They were under heavy attack, defending Reache's last line of defense, the batteries of the super MAC guns.
      "Sustenance fluid has been drained. Picking up internal wounds in Hazel, Joshua and Glenn. Broken ribs and a torn ligament in Kelly. Jake's lower spinal column is fractured. Dana is recuperating quickly. I'm attempting to inject an unknown Covenant medical fluid into them. Should I procede?"
      Master Chief didn't think twice. He just wanted to save them.
      "Yes, do everything possible."
      "Injecting fluid now."
      Joshua and Jake began to show signs of life, while Hazel began to convulse. They all coughed up the fluid, mixed with their own blood. Except kelly, she just wouldn't move.
      "Joshua of Red team and Jake of green team are both coming around. Hazel is reacting to the fluid, it's a mixture of unknown proteins and coagulatives that is doing some good for her. Glenn is slowly coming awake. Kelly is unconscious. Reason unknown Chief."
       A beeping sound came on from the command console. Suddenly, each Spartan's tube began to fill with a gas, as each of them coughed and gagged for air. Kelly still wouldn't move.
      "Cortana, what's happening?"
      "There's an automatic termination procedure, that if the Spartan's were rescucitated without authorization, they'd be killed. I'm attempting to override..."
       The Chief sprang into action. He ran up to each and every containment cell, and broke open the glass tubes with the butt of his gun. He pulled each of the warriors out one by one. Cortana had millions of alien numbers and symbols running through her body as she shut each cell with an energy barrier.
      She was the last one Chief ran to. He grabbed her, right before the energy barrier activated. A few seconds later, a bright blue light filled the room as the gas ignited. The glass tubes were melted, along with the wires and the wall around it.
      "Kelly, wake up." He cradled her in his arms for a few minutes. The others were still trying to stand up. Dana crawled over, in her puking state, and tryed CPR. Chief could only count on luck.
      "Come on! 1-2-3-4 and..."
      Kelly jerked, and went into convulsions as well. She spat out fluid, and began coughing. It was a relief for the Chief, to see his Spartans alive. He immediately picked her up, and put her into her MJOLNIR armor, and connected her neural implant. In five minutes, she was moving, although clumsily, but moving.
      "Good...good to see you...sir...I...thought I was..."
      "It's fine now blue two. Just try and relax. The armor will keep you moving, to minimize the damage potential to your ribs and your shoulder."
      The rest of them instinctively tried to stand up and salute the Chief. They didn't realize that he was there, or was the one that saved them. He saluted them, and gave them the order to stand at ease, if they could.
      "Needless to say, you aren't on any UNSC vessel at this moment. You have been captured by the Covenant for reasons unknown, and are in the middle of something far more perilous than the human-covenant war. We're on a military moonbase of the Covenant known as VILO, and are about to fight off against one of the most vile creatures that both of our kind have had to ever face. Cortana, give them an update."
      Cortana gave them a heads up once they had their suits on. They still moved slow, and occasionally had to remove their helmets to throw up. Still, they moved as one, and the Chief wasn't more proud of his team of Spartans ever. They had overcome difficulties of unimaginable preportions.
      "Chief, there's a munitions case around here somewhere. They need to stock up on weapons before going out. There's also battery units that they can recharge over there, under the casings."
      He lifted some Covenant crates, and pulled out some energy crystals that refilled their shields, and overcharged them. They found the munitions case, and pulled out a good amount of grenades, plasma rifles and Glenn pulled out a fuel rod gun.
      They all moved out into the hallway, proceeded into a nearby elevator, after observing the pieces of the blown up infected Hunter. The blast door of the elevator closed, and all seven Spartan cyborgs went down.