Halo 3: The Ark- Chapter 3, The Enemy of my Enemy, is my Enemy?
Posted By: FOrunnER<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 20 March 2005, 7:59 AM
Note: Okay, I'm really sorry that this took so long to get out. Three factors contributed to this: 1) there was a recent death in my family, my Uncle, which I had to deal with, 2) an unfortunate series of computer problems. I'll try to update more regularly now but I can't always guarantee steady release dates. I know the authors notes make the story look 'unprofessional' but I personally could care less, I'm 14 for Christ's sake. You don't like it, don't read the story.
Halo 3: The Ark, Chapter 3-The Enemy of my Enemy, is my Enemy?
Blood red-plasma slashed against the polished bronze column, melting the century old stone into droplets that splashed about the room. Natural sunlight filtering in from the open roofed room illuminated three Jiralhanae armed with Brute Plasma Rifles, and another three supporting Kig-Yar pulling up in front of them. The plasma fire had Lao 'Lasomee and his two purple-armored Commando Sangheili bodyguards pinned down behind separate columns like his own spread throughout the room.
'Lasomee primed a plasma grenade and threw it in the general direction of the enemy troops. The Sangheili waited for the plume of plasma to follow, along with the satisfying squawks of the Kig-Yar infantry as they were engulfed in the blast. 'Lasomee stepped out from behind his cover and quickly surveyed the destruction.
A shallow crater had formed in the room where the enemy squad had once been, a ring of blackened stone encircling the damage area. Two of the Kig-Yar had been killed in the blast, one Jiralhanae was moderately injured, and the rest had been severely disoriented. Before they could regain there composure, 'Lasomee stepped out from behind his cover and activated a plasma sword.
"RRRRRAAAAAAAAGGGHHH!!!," 'Lasomee let out an earsplitting battle cry that reverberated around the room.
The cry seemed to shake the Jiralhanae and there single Kig-Yar follower out of there daze, but by then it was to late. 'Lasomee crossed more than half the distance to his target by the time that they saw him. The Jiralhanae he was running at, a Captain judging from the small red flag waving from his shoulder, had jumped in the different direction than the rest of the group to get away from the blast and was therefore isolated.
Isolated or not, he was armed and well-trained, and there was nothing but open ground between him and the angry Sangheili rushing at him. The Captain brought up his plasma rifle and let out a withering barrage of fire, the bolts bitterly biting at Lasomee's shield. He didn't slow, but the Commander absently realized that his shields were drained to nearly 40%.
'Lasomee braced his knees, all four of them, against the ancient Forerunner tile. In an instant, he pounced on the Jiralhanae Captain who was still several feet away from him. The surprised ape threw its arms up to defend itself but it was pathetically useless. Even the thick hide and dense, Kevlar-like layers of muscle couldn't withstand the super-fine plasma 'blade' contained within the swords magnetic envelope.
'Lasomee easily gutted the Jiralhanae with his sword, and performed an uppercut with the weapon that nearly bisected his enemy completely. Purple blood splashed against the Sangheili's weakened shields, illuminating the field of blue energy around him.
He instantly came under fire from his flank, the other side of the blast crater, where the rest of the Kig-Yar and Jiralhanae were positioned. Lasomee' retracted his blade and ducked behind another one of the bronze pillars that dotted the room. He managed to get behind it just in time to avoid an overcharged bolt from the Kig-Yar's pistol, he could hear the air crackle as the deadly gas rushed by him.
At the same time 'Lasomee ducked behind cover, his bodyguards returned fire with there plasma rifles. The Kig-Yar had his side facing to them and was instantly taken out, but the Jiralhanae fanned out and returned fire. They wouldn't be caught by another easy grenade, that trick wouldn't work twice. However they were so busy watching for grenades and shooting at there enemy, they didn't realize that the door behind them had just produced two Sangheili. Both of them had dual plasma rifles
They didn't to hesitate to fire, a near solid beam of energy erupted from the newcomer's guns and tore into the backs of the Jiralhanae. They stumbled about at tried to withstand the barrage, but they could not. Skin melted away and muscle was lit aflame, both creatures died as a gory, smoldering mess.
'Lasomee and his two guards emerged from cover. Just as 'Lasomee was about to address the two, a rather battered Zealot with a Carbine at his side squeezed between them. He cast a glance around the room and locked his eyes on to the Commander.
"Excellency, there retreating. We've won!!," The Sangheili's excitement was obvious.
'Lasomee listened closely. He observed that, indeed, the sounds of battle had changed. The constant zap of plasma bolts being fire had died down immensely, and the begging's of a victory cheer was starting to arise amongst his forces.
'Lasomee charged through the beings between him and the door, friendly or not. The SpecOps Commander ran up the ramp in a near sprint, the five Sangheili he had left behind tried hard to keep up with him, especially his body guards. He and the entourage trailing him followed 'Lasomee up several more twisting stone ramps of the surprisingly primitive Forerunner temple.
They reached there destination after several more flights, the upper-most floor of the temple. The Forerunner architecture in this particular building was sloppy at best, the construction had crumbled against the wind of time and was more bland compared to other Forerunner marvels. It was essentially a large, square tower with some smaller rectangular buildings at its base. The whole thing overlooked a grassy plain with numerous hills, boulders, and a sparkling purple ship in the background many miles away. More recently, craters, bodies and demolished scenery were part of the otherwise serenely tranquil sight.
The same path 'Lasomee had used to attack this temple from was the same way the occupying force was now retreating. His view on the top floor, which had large, open windows looking out over this battlefield, allowed him a very good vantage point. Even without a visual aid, he could see the line of reluctantly retreating Jiralhanae regrouping in the distance.
Covering there collective asses was a line of lightly armed Kig-Yar, Yanme'e, and the few remaining Wraiths they had left. It wasn't much, but it was enough to keep 'Lasomee's rebels from pursuing. Such a move would have been impractical in first place, but it was the kind of move the overzealous Brute Commanders would anticipate.
From somewhere below, a trio of Fuel Rod blasts arced over the field at the Wraiths. The first round landed behind the tank and merely jolted it, but the driver made the mistake of scooting up slightly....right into the next two. The heavy radioactive projectiles smashed through the protective armor like tissue. The cockpit of the craft collapsed completely and entombed the driver. The other Wraith, witnessing the death of his partner, decided to pull back. Fuel rods chased him but he managed to move out of the rounds effective range.
Finally, several Phantoms came in from the proverbial 'east' and let the remaining Wraith and Yanme'e/Kig-Yar troop make there own hasty retreat. Most of the rebels caught out in the open were mowed down the by crafts heavy guns, the rest were forced to take cover. This continued for several seconds before more Phantoms and Banshee escorts appeared.
The new arrivals opened fire......on the Phantoms stationed over the field. They fired bolt after bolt of plasma blasts and fuel rod rounds at the gun-ships.
The new arrivals were manned by 'Lasomee's own troop, the air wing of there fledgling army. Most of the craft had been salvaged from battle or had been stationed at Jiralhanae camps that had been overrun. Apparently the Jiralhanae forces hadn't suspected that 'Lasomee had any sufficient air forces, just as he had hoped. They were caught completely off guard and attacked from behind and above, the only two places where a Phantoms guns couldn't reach.
Some attempted to turn around and fight, others flew off, abandoning the battle altogether. The ones that turned around immediately came under fire from ground troops, most of the small plasma bolts that merely scorched its hull were no threat, but Fuel Rods and fire from a scattered handful of ground vehicles did.
One of the Jiralhanae Phantoms finally fell, a fuel rod from a harassing banshee managed to penetrate the armored cockpit. The ship took a nose dive and impacted in the middle of a lightly-wooded forest, sending a plume of dirt and shredded tree's into the air. A second later some critical component overloaded, and a blight flare of plasma followed the debris. With the ground forces having already made there retreat anyway, the rest of the enemy Phantoms took this as there cue to leave, flying back to the same east-bound direction they had come from. Back to the Holy Vanguard.
As the battle cry grew around him, 'Lasomee turned a deaf ear. Instead of celebrating, he gazed longingly at the Flagship and all that it could offer. He would make sure that he got it. Soon.
General Khans himself joined the reconnaissance team he had assigned to watch over the Elite army. That formation had been marching parallel to his own forces, survivors that managed to get off the Flood-infected In Amber Clad. There best chance for getting off of this ring and warn the UNSC of the Flood threat was to capture a Covenant ship. In Amber Clad had had some of the best Covenant-tech researchers in the UNSC on board, and thankfully most had already been grounded so they could study the ring. They would be vital in piloting the ship.
Unfortunately, the only ship within feasible grasp was the largest ship Khans had ever laid eyes on. After 25 years of fighting the Covenant, Khans always knew one thing for sure about them: big meant important. Important, for both humans and Covenant, meant heavily guarded.
His assessment turned out to be right, the aliens had had the resources to established a defensive perimeter miles away from there grav-lift. A string of well-armed guard-posts and bases encompassed a roughly circle section of land around the lift, mostly in the lightly wooded areas or open, grassy fields. The thicker forest was devoid of enemy emplacements but were most likely patrolled by ground units.
Khans had been trying to figure out away to get through this network without half of his force being roasted, however it had turned out to be easy.
Another force, apparently made up of Covenant troops, had engaged that perimeter and pushed through. Khans had been riding that groups coat-tails ever since he had learned of them, letting them take care of all the heavy work while they followed through the already cleared-out sections enemy territory. There was no honor in doing so, but he wasn't interested in honor. He was interested in surviving.
Khans had been thoroughly confused about reports Covenant-engaging-Covenant, until he analyzed his scouts recon reports. He, like his advisors, had become convinced that a civil war amongst the Covenant was to blame. The details weren't important, Khans only interest that this civil war had greatly weakened his enemies, and given him a fair shot at taking that Flagship.
He would have to deal with the Elite-led army clearing his path soon though. Although they had helped him significantly, there destination was obviously the same as his, the Flagship. Taking them out before they reached it was a priority, but a priority that Khans bided his time on. There were still plenty of miles to go, and many more Brute outposts that the Elites could clear for him.
They had been moving randomly about the tunnels for what felt like hours, and they were making virtually no progress. The Arbiter had done his best to lead the group through the maze-like corridors of the underground facility, but without a map he could have very well been leading them in circles. Not that Miranda could blame him, she knew she couldn't have done better herself.
The group finally decided to hole up for a while in a small, triangular room they had found buried within the maze. It was bare and made of cold gray steel, the only noteworthy feature was the light display on the ceiling with shifted through different color frequencies in a seemingly random fashion. The humans sat in a corner of the room while two of the Elites guarded the entrances, the third sat in another forlorn corner.
Johnson slipped a shell into his shotgun as he eyed the Arbiter, who was diligently watching one of the rooms two entrances for approaching hostiles. Ever since the first combat form they had met surprisingly little Flood resistance and only a few scattered Sentinel guards to boot. No, Johnson was more worried about....other potential enemies.
Miranda saw the glare in Johnson's eye. "Sergeant, what's the problem?"
Johnson sighed and pulled out a cigar, "Mam?"
He offered it to her. She turned him down and stared pointedly at the cigar that was already in his mouth. He reluctantly spat it out.
"There's no problem 'mam, just keeping an eye on our new friends", he spoke louder than she would have liked.
"Sergeant, I am ordering you to set aside whatever problems you may have about this alliance. We need them if we are going to survive", she whispered loud enough just so that he could hear. None of the Elites had appeared to notice the conversation, but she was growing more uncomfortable by the minute in there presence.
Johnson was silent. Silent to long for Keyes's taste.
"Johnson, acknowledge that order"
He gave her a hard stare, "Do you honestly trust them?"
There was almost menace in his voice as he switched that deadly glare from the Arbiter to Miranda. She was even more disturbed by the lack of honorific at the end of his sentence, so far Johnson had treated her with the utmost respect. Apparently she had struck a nerve. However she didn't confront him on his tone.
His question had been a good one, and Miranda seriously considered it. Was she really about to trust the aliens that two generations of Keye's had sworn to kill? What made her so sure that she could trust them? They didn't really need to protect her, they could just kill her now and take the Index. So why didn't they?
Miranda stopped and considered their situation. They were lost in an underground maze that no doubt held more Sentinels and Flood than they had yet encountered, and were under the questionable 'protection' of three Elites, one apparently revered to a near-god status amongst his peers. They didn't have anywhere to run, and it was unlikely the Arbiter and his cronies would let them anyway. Miranda realized that her level of freedom depended solely on the Arbiters will. Johnson, no matter how good a soldier, could not feasibly fight through three Elites. Simply put, they were prisoners.
The Commander was careful not to reveal this information to Johnson. She was afraid of the possible reaction, "We don't have a choice"
Before he could try to drag her back into debate, she braced herself against the wall and stood.
"Ma'm, what are you doing?"
Her answer was cryptic, "Doing some reconnaissance"
Johnson saw where she was headed, the Elite that was fixing his armor in the corner. Alarmed, Johnson went to go after her when a heavy had laid on his shoulder. He spun around and nearly pointed his gun at the Elites face, but checked himself. It was that one Commando Elite, the one in the purple armor.
It grumbled simply, "Your turn"
Johnson saw it was gesturing to the far entrance, it was his turn to guard there rear.
"Why don't you-", he stopped. He had orders now, orders from the Commander to play nice with these squid-heads. Johnson simply grumbled and hefted the shotgun, watching over his shoulder as Miranda neared the injured Elite.
The Commander was careful to make her footsteps heavy as she approached, she didn't want to accidentally surprise this thing. She mentally smacked herself on the forehead. She probably couldn't have snuck up on it if she tried.
As she got closer she watched as the Elite, the same blue Elite that had saved her earlier, fixed his armor plating. As it removed its breast plate, Miranda got a glimpse of wound that had been inflicted upon it. It was very neat and precise, a small circle ringed with charred flesh and meat along with dried blood that had crusted over the skin. Miranda noticed that the wound looked almost identical to the type of wound created by medical lasers, but much deeper and with no painkillers passed out beforehand
She watched as it re-atched its chest plate after injecting something into the wound and inspected its weapons, the SMG's that Sarge had so generously given up. The other purple Elite had rejected the gun on some moral issue or another, so it's blue counter-part got both SMG's while the purple guy got both Plasma Rifles, despite there lack of affect against the Flood.
The Elite was aware of her presence but made gave her no acknowledgement and simply continued to inspect one of the weapons clips. Miranda didn't really know how to start the conversations, she tried several different varations in her head but discarded them before they became spoken word. Just as she had decided on what to say, the Elite spoke up.
"Your weapons are strange, human. They operate much like our Carbines and Needlers, but fire primitively simple munitions. You manage to propel these munitions with crude chemical explosions in the barrel.
Yet despite its unbalanced and cumbersome design, your weapons are still fairly effective against our troops. And the Flood. If I remember correctly this particular model is best used in pairs", he grabbed the other SMG beside him and held both weapons up.
Miranda was stiff. Apparently the members of the Covenant were given the basic lessons on how humanities weapons functioned. All the better to understand, and kill, the enemy. The corps did the same thing vice versa.
"That's right", she said uncertainly. She decided to get this over with so she could leave this thing to itself. It made her uncomfortable.
"I would like to thank you", she said slowly, "for assisting me earlier"
She didn't say 'save'. She didn't want to give it any sense of superiority.
The Elite stared at her. It's eyes didn't even blink as it spoke, "You hold the Index, therefore you must be protected"
Miranda nodded. There wasn't really any clear answer to that statement, which was just fine with her. More the reason to leave.
As she turned around to walk away, she felt it get to its knee's and stand behind her.
It's voice didn't have the pitch of a command. It sounded more like a plea. Despite there bleak situation, the thought of an 8ft tall alien warrior pleading with her was amusing. Before she thought about it she turned around to face it.
It stood not a few feet away from her, no helmet and bare chest. She noted that without the helmet, the Elites head was almost comically small in proportion to its body. The armor probably made it bulk up, better to scare the enemy.
It tilted its head to the side as it regarded her. "Why did Tartarus need you to start the Great Journey?"
She nodded her head, "You were there. You know damn well that wasn't going to start any Great Journey. Just a mass grave"
It considered, "Yes. But still, why were you needed?"
The Commander thought back to when she had been a prisoner. First when her dropship had been captured by Covenant forces as she fled In Amber Clad, then to the time spent in High Charity's brig, being ferried from that city to Halo, and finally to the control room, where Tartarus had forced her to start the countdown that nearly eradicated very sentient being in the galaxy. During the ride aboard the Phantom 343 Spark had dutifully informed Tartarus that only a human could insert the index into Halo's Control room.
Tartarus had bluntly ignored Spark's warning and attempted to do it himself. The index had passed straight through the holo-panel like it was thin air. After trying several times, he had finally turned his attention to Miranda and tried to make her do it. That's when the Arbiter had come in. She didn't know why a human had to start it, when she had confronted Spark about en route to Halo the little machine had simply commented that humans were the 'Reclaimers' of the Forerunner. It said that statement like she had questioned a fundamental fact of the universe.
Miranda nodded her head, "I don't know. The Forerunner machine, Guilty Spark, gave me some cryptic bullshit."
The Elite considered and stared off into space. As Miranda watched it she got the feeling that this Elite was a bit odd, even among its own kin. It abruptly stuck out an outstretched hand. Miranda resisted the strong urge to flinch. She realized that the creature was offering to shake her hand.
It spoke to her, "I have learned through observation between your officers that the clasping of hands is a mutual sign of respect"
Miranda was stunned into silence. After several seconds of no response, the Elite spoke again, "I am Obi 'Kajomee, Minor Rank, formerly a warrior of the Covenant Empire. What is your title?"
Miranda was still wary of the creature before her, but for some reason she trusted it enough to give it her name. "Miranda M. Keyes, UNSC Ship Commander"
For the first time ever, Human and Elite clasped hands with intents of friendship.