The Priestess and the Warrior - True Blue
Posted By: Jillybean<email@example.com>
Date: 4 February 2005, 4:38 PM
The Priestess and the Warrior
Dedicated to Tina - who understands ;)
Sangheil Ninth Age of Reclamation
Curled on the bed, Saia' Jalahass had a fine, Lekgolo silk pillow over her head, a matching sheet lying in a tangled mess by her feet, and a glass of Jiralhanae Brandy sitting on the bedside table.
The windows were tinted, blocking her view of the outside world. She wondered if dawn had broken on Sangheil yet, it certainly felt like she had been awake that long.
An explosion of raucous laughter from down the hall bored into her skull and she tried to roll over, only to be blocked by her distended stomach. With a frustrated groan she heaved herself onto her back.
"Orna' Fulsamee, I will kill you," she muttered.
Choosing to build a new villa on Sangheil had been Jalahass' decision. She could have rightfully ousted her mother from the traditional Saia residence as a first daughter, but it seemed churlish to remove the family from their home. And this ancient, ramshackle 'hut on a hill' as Galatash put it, had captured her imagination.
Unfortunately, Fulsamee had been called away on duty, leaving her pregnant with said ramshackle hut. Calling in the family, she had hoped they would offer her some support. They did not. The Engineers and Unggoy she had employed to refit the villa had worked quickly, and were now out of her hair. Jalahass' family were still eating her food and drinking her wine, insisting that they would not leave a Sangheili who was with child.
Jalahass was almost looking forward to the uncomfortable laying period.
Something, undoubtedly something priceless, smashed in the living quarters. Jalahass eased herself off the bed, snatching a robe from the nearby dresser, and silently stalked through to the party.
"Jalahass!" A drunken relative stumbled past, inadvertently sending the Unggoy maid flying. The little alien picked itself up, then hurried back to clean away the shards of the broken vase.
"Mother," Jalahass growled, feeling a twitch in one of her mandibles. "It is very, very late."
Waving her arms expansively, Saia' Sorenza spilled whatever it was in her glass onto the marble floor. "Do not fret, so!"
"Ah!" A Sangheili that Jalahass did not recognise approached her, edging around her mother with great care. "Priestess?"
"Yes?" Jalahass looked up at him, realising that he was sober, though very tired. He wore blue armour, with many battle scars impressed into the metal.
"I am Lia' Wuanna, I was hoping Fulsamee would be here."
Jalahass turned to one of the Unggoy. "Bring food to my private study, please?" Turning to Wuanna she gestured for him to follow her.
"I have heard about you from Orna'," she said as she sat slowly on the daybed.
Wuanna took a seat on the rugs, blinking as the sun rose above the horizon.
Jalahass clicked her mandibles and the glass tinted, the ambient lighting striking up instead. She thanked the Unggoy who set the food out, and reached forward for a bowl of warm stew.
"Here," Wuanna leapt to his feet. "Let me help you."
"Thank you," Jalahass replied. "I am not at my most graceful."
With an embarrassed smile, Wuanna eased back into a sitting position on the floor. He stared at the array of dishes that had been set out on the low table and licked his mandibles.
"Please, eat," Jalahass stressed, watching with mild amusement as the soldier tore into the foods. "I'm afraid Orna' is on duty right now. I do not know when he'll be back."
"Soon?" Wuanna asked around a lump of flatbread.
Shaking her head, Jalahass sighed. "I doubt that he will return for another few cycles of Sangheil's moons."
"That long?" Wuanna sighed. "I had hoped now he was bonded that he would be allowed more time planetside."
"It doesn't work like that. Was there something in particular you wanted? He doesn't get the chance to use the holoviewer often, but if you would like to leave a message with me . . ."
"No! I mean, no, Priestess, thank you. I was -" Wuanna floundered, his skin tinged orange.
The Priestess made herself more comfortable. "Perhaps I could help you," she suggested.
"I doubt it," Wuanna laughed, a harsh bark of humiliation.
"No, I imagine not. After all, you do not look like a Sangheili in need of religious guidance."
Lifting his head to meet her knowing eyes, Wuanna seemed to crumble under the weight of his secrets. "Oh, I am . . ."
The soldier woke, staring up at a plain stone ceiling. Sun was peeking in through the half tinted glass, casting an orange haze over the antique furniture that decorated the guest room.
Kicking the sheets away he surveyed his surroundings, eyes resting on his suit of armour, discarded by the door. He had been tired when he'd went to bed.
He headed down the long, cool corridors of Fulsamee's home, wondering if his friend loved it here. The mountains could be seen from every window, and the villa itself faced the long road down to the city. He passed by the spotless reception room and wondered where all the Sangheili had got to.
"Excuse me, Excellency," a small Unggoy bowed before him. "Priestess Jalahass wonders if you would like to join her on the balcony."
"Sure," Wuanna nodded.
Blinking, he was led onto a bright veranda, overlooking a steep cliff with a clear river running through the gorge below.
"Wuanna," Jalahass smiled at him, turning the holoviewer down. The news bulletins nattered on silently while Jalahass gestured to the feast laid out on the wrought iron table. She was curled up on an arrangement of pillows and rugs, a shawl over her shoulders.
"Are you cold?" Wuanna asked, sitting opposite. He eyed the flatbread and fruit puree.
"Not really," Jalahass rubbed her arms despite this. "The pregnancy plays havoc with ones senses. Eat, Wuanna, don't just stare."
Properly chastised, Wuanna dipped a hunk of the bread into the puree and chewed thoughtfully. "Where did the party go?"
"I told them to clear off last night." Jalahass stretched, arms raised far above her head, even her mandibles tensing. "I insisted that I didn't need their help."
"Are you sure?" Abashed, Wuanna quickly apologised, eyes downcast.
"Quite sure," Jalahass drawled. "I'm not completely incapacitated. Though, I feel like I'll be like this forever." She patted her distended stomach and smiled at him. "You seemed to be distressed last night. I thought a good sleep would put you to right, but you still appear nervous." Nestling down into the pillows, she reached forward for the reheated stew. It was the only food she could comfortably consume these days. "Would you like to tell me what's wrong?"
Wuanna's eating pace slowed and he found himself staring up at the mountain range, watching the large avian creatures soar on the thermals.
"If you'd rather not, that's fine," Jalahass assured him. "I am a Priestess, you'd be surprised the things that Sangheili tell me."
"Excuse me, Priestess," another Unggoy approached.
Wuanna noticed that they all wore the same colours, the soft red robes trimmed with gold. An antiquated tradition, but one that rung a chord in Wuanna, it created a sense of family in the underlings.
"What is it, Ahana?"
"The Practitioner is here to see you," Ahana waited for her orders, almost regretful to disturb them.
Jalahass sighed deeply. "Send him in. Thank you, Ahana."
"The Practitioner?" Wuanna asked.
His hostess wriggled her mandibles in annoyance. "They like to check up on me, oh - every five minutes?" With a little chuckle she leaned forward. "I know that the Lineage is important, believe me, I know." The little exasperated eyeroll led Wuanna to wonder how often the Priestess had been lectured on the subject. "But I am fairly sure the Forerunners would not have created a Laying process which would put the mother at risk. I feel fine. Awkward, but fine. The world treats me as though I was made of glass."
"I hadn't put Fulsamee down as the father type," Wuanna ventured. "He's a fine Brother, I don't doubt his loyalty for a moment, but this beautiful home and children . . ."
Jalahass laughed. "When he got his orders to ship out I didn't know I was pregnant. He was . . . polite . . . when I told him about it." She nodded in acknowledgement as the Sangheili practitioner came out onto the balcony.
Wondering if he had touched on a dangerous subject, Wuanna stayed quiet.
"If our bonding survived accusations of Heresy, I'm almost sure it would survive a child," she winked at him before addressing the newcomer. "Practitioner, I wasn't aware I had an appointment today."
Sniffing through exceptionally long mandibles, the Practitioner crouched beside her. "I thought I told you that chairs would be preferable to rugs?"
"This is more polite," Jalahass told him wryly.
"Hmm," the Practitioner took some readings with his portable scanner, making the occasional disapproving noise. "And isn't it rather chilly out here?"
"I'm dressed warmly," the Priestess continued in her long suffering tone. "Any more advice?"
"Have you been eating well?" the Practitioner stole a glimpse of the contents of her cup. "I see not. There is insufficient protein in that."
This went on for some time, and Wuanna continued eating until he was full, then he watched the transparent holograms silently mouthing the galaxy's news. By the time the Practitioner had packed up his tools and had been escorted away, the sun was baking the stone walls of the villa, warming the Sangheili comfortably.
"I swear," Jalahass muttered darkly. "Once I'm agile again . . . he'll be one of the first to go."
"I'm glad to see you're warming to me," Jalahass surmised. "So, why were you so tired when you got here last night?"
"I'd travelled a long way," Wuanna did not miss a beat, but his short answer only frustrated the Priestess.
"Orna' didn't tell me you were so stubborn. Though he did tell me that you nearly killed him the first day you met."
Wuanna laughed. "Yes, that was . . . not my finest hour."
Settling back in her pillows, Jalahass' eyes sparkled. "I've been dying to hear about it."
Rebel Occupied Unnamed Planet Ninth Age of Reclamation
An explosion of grass and dirt to Fulsamee's right blinded him, set his ears ringing, and threw him flat to the rocky ground.
A tiny flower stared up at him, seemingly bemused by the battle being fought in its home. The open grassland was unused to such violence. Under the bright light of it's twin suns, the grass bowed before the might of the blood being rained upon it.
"Excellency!" A Lekgolo swooped down, grabbing the back of Fulsamee's armour and dragging the Elite to his feet.
With a sense of regret, Fulsamee was swept past the flower, and flung unceremoniously over the Hunter's back.
"Excellency," a young Special Operations Sangheili crawled over the damp earth to reach Fulsamee. "Oh . . . Oh Forerunners . . ." Blanching, he turned away.
Another explosion rocked the cave to its foundations.
"How far down does this go?" Saty 'Dahasamee limped to his feet, cradling his shattered arm against his white armoured chest. "We can't stay here."
"Quite far, the scouting Kig-Yar couldn't find the end," the younger Sangheili replied. Licking his mandibles, he glanced back to their leader. "Should we leave him?"
"No!" 'Dahasamee snarled. He nodded to the two Hunters. "Carry him." Taking a quick survey of his chances, 'Dahasamee realised that his only chance was to move further into the tunnels. The Brute army outside would know where they had retreated to, but they couldn't fight their way out.
Arms scooped Fulsamee up, bearing him over the grey stones, blurring them beneath him.
A little, tuneless song filtered through the haze. Sleep tight . . . Honour is yours . . .
Long fingers soothing away all his hurts, and a kindly smile.
The smell of tired, ill flesh.
Fulsamee started awake, the sudden movement sending sharp pain down the left side of his body.
"Oh! Stay still, Excellency," Kiz 'Taahilmee grabbed at him, only making the pain worse.
"Off me, fool!" The words came out blurred.
Saty 'Dahasamee crouched down, filling his line of vision. "Steady, Excellency, you took a bad blow to the head. What do you remember of the battle?"
Aware of a steady dripping on the boulders beside him, Fulsamee peered around the dank cave. Emergency lighting had been installed, but that did not give him much confidence. Employing the soft, purple beams meant they could go no further.
"I remember our dropship crashed," Fulsamee murmured.
"Go on," 'Dahasamee said. He had two Kig-Yar crouched by Fulsamee's head, their hands on his helmet.
Fixing his gaze on the shadows cast by the purple lights, Fulsamee gritted his mandibles together, forcing the words out. "Ambush. The rebel forces were waiting for us. We were forced down to the plateau after losing Glory Company."
"We lost Vengeance Company also," 'Dahasamee told him.
"Yes, they have Banshees. They bombarded the grasslands . . . I - ah!" He lost his concentration as the Kig-Yar pulled off his helmet. The shapeless rock face swam in front of his eyes and a worrying numbness spread over his body.
"What did you do?" 'Dahasamee asked, working on Fulsamee's skull.
Closing his eyes, Fulsamee fought to keep conscious. "I ordered the defence of the drop zone, we had to wait for rescue."
"Do it!" Fulsamee stooped, grabbing a Needler from a fallen comrade. He vaulted forwards, keeping low in the long grasses. He knew 'Dahasamee wasn't pleased with this plan of action, but there was no possibility of their lone three companies surviving this onslaught
What were the Brutes guarding on this little back-water planet?
Flying through the air he landed in the middle of a strike team, firing a round of Needlers into the back of their Captain, feeling that much more alive with every glassy explosion. The other three were not put off by his wild plasma shots, crouching low and advancing.
Sweeping backwards, Fulsamee raised his guns, noticing the darker grass, a length to his right. A hollow in the ground. He saw also the limp in the middle Brute, the odd mince that belied his weakness.
He dropped the Plasma Rifle, igniting a grenade and hopped over the top of the middle Brute. He had guessed correctly and the creature was too slow to catch up with him. Rolling on the soft dirt he fell into the ditch, sheltering from the explosion of body parts.
"Stay with me, Fulsamee," 'Dahasamee growled.
"The Phantom couldn't make the pick-up," Fulsamee hissed through gritted teeth. He thought of Galatash, orbiting the planet on the huge, new Covenant Cruiser. Why hadn't he offered back up? What was happening in space right now?
He hated being so helpless.
"Just one more stitch," the Kig-Yar helper clucked at them.
"Then it all gets confusing."
"You were caught in the blast of a plasma cannon. I thought you were dead." 'Dahasamee shivered. "I am glad I do not have to tell your pretty mate that I was responsible for losing you."
Fulsamee laughed, just a little. "We're at a dead end, aren't we?"
"Yes," 'Dahasamee thanked the Jackals. "We'll have to stand and fight."
The Ascendant Justice In Orbit Ninth Age of Reclamation
"We may have to give them up for lost," the Prophet of Fury was saying.
Galatash tried not to listen, his fingers curling over the hilt of his energy sword.
Glancing at him, Nakaka tried to respectfully shut the Prophet up, but Fury had had his mind set.
"We shall not lose another cruiser to the Brute rebels! The Thunder was unfortunate, but losing the Justice can be prevented!" Slamming his fist down onto the throne, Fury glowered at the Elites in front of him. His jowls quivered, straining to stay silent.
Before Fury could explode, Galatash turned to face him, making an effort to sneer. "This is a tactical decision, Noble Prophet. We will not leave."
As if to emphasize Fury's outrage, the Justice shook.
Jalahass' Villa Sangheil Ninth Age of Reclamation
A marble figurine stared Wuanna down, its unpainted eyes boring into his soul.
"It's from an archaeological dig," Jalahass said, mistaking the statue's malicious intent for Wuanna's interest. She smiled fondly, patting the miniature Sangheili on the head. "It brings me luck."
They'd moved inside once warm, heavy rain began to fall. The Priestess didn't tire of Wuanna's stories, sharing a few of her own. It had dawned on the soldier that he trusted Jalahass, he trusted anyone who laughed when they heard Orna' used to fear the dark. But Jalahass had crowed with delight upon hearing the story, upsetting her pillows and prompting a coughing fit.
If there had been nothing else, that alone would have won him over.
"Ahana," Jalahass paused by the little Unggoy. "Have you inventoried our supplies? I don't know how much the party ate."
"I have, Priestess," the Grunt bobbed on her feet, her mask covering the cheerful equivalent of an Unggoy smile. Excusing herself from the study, the Unggoy left them.
"It's my intended," Wuanna blurted out, unable to face the statue off any longer.
Jalahass glanced at him, mandibles slack with confusion. "Come again?"
"My intended." He rounded on her, frantic. "Her name's Kin' Olapaa."
"Sit down," Jalahass instructed. "And tell me what's wrong."
"The dowry wasn't the problem, my family's very rich. But Olapaa and I . . . we were so in love." Glancing up at the Priestess, he didn't see the understanding he had hoped for. "We were foolish, and . . ."
"I cannot help you if you do not tell me what's wrong," Jalahass said, very softly.
"She fell pregnant, before we were Bonded. Her parents wanted the child killed so I . . ." he clenched his lower mandibles "I took extended leave and kidnapped Olapaa, hiding her. Our families can't alert the authorities without dishonouring themselves and-"
"Enough," Jalahass held up her hand. "Where is she now?"
"She's staying in the city," Wuanna stood. "I should go back to her. I had hoped Orna' could have -"
"Could have done what?" Jalahass said tightly. She shook her head and leaned back on the plush daybed. "Go and fetch your intended."
She watched the soldier leave, confusion playing over her face. A simple mistake, yet one that the Forerunners condemned.
Her beautiful home, her Honourable Mate, her healthy pregnancy - all blessings from the Gods.
"And I have been so good for so long," she muttered. "Ahana?"
The door hissed open and the Grunt hobbled in, looking up expectantly.
"Ahana, I misfiled something, could you please contact the convent and ask them if they have a copy of the Bonding between Kin' Olapaa and Lia' Wuanna? I have a horrible feeling I've not sent them one."
"Yes . . . Priestess," Ahana's face wrinkled as she processed this. "Would you . . . like me to pull up the forms for you to fill out?"
"That would be helpful, Ahana."
"Right away, Priestess."
Jalahass glanced out the convex window, looking to the sky.
"Don't punish me for this . . . please . . ."
Unnamed World Ninth Age of Reclamation
"We need to fight." Fulsamee leaned against the damp walls, pushing himself to his feet. He caught sight of his discarded helmet, a fist sized boulder embedded in its metal skin. Resolutely, he returned his attention to the motley crew before him. "Our backs are against the wall."
"The Rebels haven't come down here yet," 'Taalhimee spoke up.
Shooting a quick glare at the insurgent, Fulsamee continued. "We'll extinguish the lights, then the Kig-Yar will scout ahead. You have the best eyes for the dark." He waited for their chirrup of approval, before he continued. He only had four Sangheili, and a few more Unggoy, but they were all capable of active-camo, except him. His suit was too badly damaged. "The Brutes haven't come down here for a reason. They're toying with us."
Of course they are, because it's so like them.
Why did he have Saia' in his head, ridiculing his tactics?
I'm just pointing it out . . . there is a reason they're not here. I hardly think they have the intellect to play with their prey.
If that's so Priestess, what are they looking for?
How should I know? I'm just a figment of your concussion addled imagination. Work it out for yourself.
"Excellency?" 'Dahasamee seemed concerned by this lapse in concentration.
"There's definitely nowhere else to go?" A quick glance around the cave confirmed this for Fulsamee. This was a dead end.
"Why do you ask?"
"It's almost as if the Brutes are . . ." he fought for the word, clicking his mandibles absently.
"Afraid," guessed one of the Grunts. "They haven't set foot in this tunnel system."
"So what are they waiting for?" Fulsamee asked, eyeing the Grunt.
"What do they fear?" 'Dahasamee corrected. He shifted his weight, flexing the fingers on his broken arm and wincing. "It's not pain."
"They fear the Gods," 'Taalhimee grew uncomfortable as the others stared at him.
"I want this cave searched," Fulsamee growled.
As his soldiers reluctantly kicked about the rocks, Fulsamee approached the pair of Hunters.
"I want you to go up ahead, give us an early warning if you see something coming. When we need to get out, I'll want you two at the front."
They grunted in approval for this pro-active plan.
Watching them lurch up the incline, Fulsamee hoped he wasn't sending them to their deaths.
"Excellency?" 'Taalhimee eased back from the base of a very large boulder. A very thin line ran up the centre.
"What's that?" 'Dahasamee leaned over the younger Sangheili, running the fingers of his good hand over the crack. "I don't think that's natural."
"No," Fulsamee eyed the Kig-Yar. "Your fingers are small, can you pry it open?"
With a little squawk, the Kig-Yar tried, one by one, to ease the rock apart. It remained steadfast.
"Bring that light over." Fulsamee squatted, running his claw down to the base. His fingers bumped over a tiny groove, too shallow to see. Gently, he pushed his fingers into what was a perfect fit, and then he touched the parting.
The boulder split, jumping aside for him. Inside, a glowing blue crystal blinked out at them.
"By the Forerunner . . ."
"What is it?"
Fulsamme grunted, lifting the crystal and slipping it into his belt. "A souvenir for my Mate. This was what the Brutes were guarding, let's move out!"
Falling into place behind his Excellency, 'Dahasamee peered around the blue clad hips to try and see the object. "Is that . . . wise?"
"Do you have another suggestion?" Fulsamee asked quietly.
"It's just," 'Dahasamee caught himself, glancing at the younger soldiers up front. "I was always told that Forerunner artefacts should be treated with reverence."
"Reverence does little good if we're dead." Fulsamee paused, placing a hand on the chest plate of the Special Operations armour. "Trust me."
"Your Mate would agree with this?" he asked, a tremour of doubt still in his voice.
No, she'd actively seek my death, you idiot. "Absolutely," Fulsamee butted heads with him. "Trust me, Brother."
The Hunters had come to a halt a few lengths up the tunnel, hunched behind their shields.
"There are sounds of Rebel activity up ahead," a Grunt reported.
Licking his mandibles, Fulsamee took a Needler from one of his soldiers. "We have the Gods on our side," he told them. "Galatash, can you hear me?"
The transmission crackled with static.
"It may be the artefact," Fulsamee half murmured to himself. "We'll proceed. Slowly. Let the Brutes see our spoil."
"Excellency," growled 'Taalhimee, "surely . . ."
Aiming the Needler at the insubordinate, Fulsamee gazed coolly down the purple spikes. "Are you no better than the Rebels?"
"Excellency! No!" 'Taalhimee was shocked, never had anyone dared to criticise him, son of a prestigious Sangheili Lineage. His parents had the ears of the Prophets!
"Question me once more," Fulsamee flicked the muzzle of the gun away, eyeing all of his troops in turn. "We must be unified. We must be steadfast. We are the finest warriors that the Ascendant Justice has to offer. Are you ready to embark upon your Great Journey?"
"Then trust in the Gods! And trust in your guns!"
With a roar that thundered off the cave walls, the Hunters barged forwards, breaking into the main entranceway.
All the Brutes saw was shining blue armour, before they were trampled underfoot. A few managed to launch some grenades, the explosions ricocheting off the stone, sending up shards of deadly splinters.
Fulsamee ducked, aware that his head was completely unprotected. He caught sight of a glimmer, setting upon the Brute Captain; it had to be 'Dahasamee, compensating for his injury with stealth.
"Jackals!" Fulsamee yelled, lunging behind them as the Kig-Yar fell into formation. Creeping into the light, the Kig-Yar dived behind a knoll and took up their positions, firing back into the fray with a deadly accuracy.
A scream of pain heralded the first Brute victory, and 'Taalhimee fell to the dirt, a gaping hole in his armoured gut.
Moving swiftly, Fulsamee covered the ground between him and the murderer, vaulting onto its back and aiming the Needler into its skull. He squeezed the trigger and . . .
And was forced backwards in a brilliant flash of blue light.
He bounced, skidded and finally came to rest several lengths from the battle. Flat on his back and gulping at the air, he was completely unable to breathe. His skull hurt, his bones were on fire . . .
"But ultimately the terms of your execution are up to me."
"I am already dead."
There was something in front of his eyes, a bulbous metal container, and inside was something Fulsamee wanted so very badly.
"Your ignorance has already destroyed one of the Sacred Rings, it shall not destroy another!"
And a Demon.
The light slowly faded, replaced by occasional red flashes.
"Hans . . ."
With a sigh of relief, the older Sangheili slumped onto the earth. "By the Forerunners," he grinned down at him. "I would not have enjoyed explaining your death to Jalahass."
Jalahass' Villa Sangheil Ninth Age of Reclamation
The furious yell echoed through Jalahass' house, so she assumed someone was looking for her. With some effort she pried herself off of her anti-grav mattress, glancing at the chronometer.
Ahana was pushed through the door by a large, irate male Elite, her little Grunt feet unable to move fast enough away from his kick.
Folding her arms, Jalahass felt her mandible twitch in annoyance. "I beg your pardon," she said. "I don't think I know you."
"You!" Jabbing a finger into her chest, the intruder stood uncomfortably close. "Oh I know what you did, Priestess."
"And I can smell brandy on your breath," Jalahass coughed. "Please, leave my bedroom and preferably my home."
Slightly taken aback that his onslaught wasn't having the desired effect, the drunken Sangheili staggered backwards. "You ruined my daughters life."
Out of the corner of her eye she saw Ahana pick herself up and creep off, hopefully to fetch some sort of authority.
"In case you hadn't noticed," Jalahass waved to her swollen stomach, "I'm not in any condition to be cavorting with daughters."
"Insolent Grunt-Whore!" he raved, swiping at her.
Ducking, Jalahass stumbled, feeling the first stabs of genuine fear.
"How dare you assault me?" She winced, feeling the soft shell in her stomach bend.
"I know my daughter was not Bonded, Kin' Olapaa, do you recognise the name?" He circled her, still incensed. "It was for her own good! Wuanna was a bad influence. Our Lineage! Destroyed because of you!"
It was an unfortunate time to feel the first contraction, Jalahass gritted her teeth. "If you'll look at the documents, I Bonded them many days before the pregnancy was detected. Your Lineage is fine."
He spat at her. "You think you can play in our lives?"
Closing her eyes against the demands of her body, Jalahass remembered the sun drenched planet she had been stranded on for her First Rites. Burned skin had hurt more than this.
"She was too young," her assailant sobbed. He sat heavily on the anti-grav.
"Old enough," Jalahass grunted. "What would you have done? Murdered the Hatchling at birth? The Gods abhor that."
"What would you know!"
A boot connected with her spine and she screamed despite herself.
"A lot!" she yelped. "Priestess! Remember?"
At that point Ahana burst in, wielding a plasma pistol. The gun was quivering with green energy and the Grunt let it fly.
Jalahass exhaled shakily as the Sangheili fell to the floor, his skin shrivelled away.
"Ahana . . ."
"Oh Gods forgive me, I have sinned!" The poor Unggoy was inconsolable.
"The Practioner! For Gods sake the Practioner!" Jalahass shrieked. "NOW!"
Ascendant Justice Slipspace Ninth Age of Reclamation
The Prophet of Fury eyed the blue crystal. It glowed, magnificently lighting the dark quarters on the Justice.
"And you say you could not attack the Brute?" He turned his throne around to view the young Sangheili.
"Well, something blew us apart. A Needler would never backfire like that," Fulsamee shrugged. He glanced at Galatash, his Commander leaning against the wall on the opposite side of the room.
"Indeed," Nakaka confirmed. "It was the flash from the artefact that drew our dropships to that location." He whistled under his breath, grinning at Fulsamee. "Incredible, isn't it?"
"Yes, yes it is," Fulsamee swallowed. "There's . . . something else, Noble Prophet."
"Oh?" The Prophet raised an eyebrow. "Care to enlighten me?"
"I . . . I had a vision." Fulsamee didn't know where to look. "I saw a Demon, plaguing us and . . . I saw an Arbiter called in the near future, to help us defeat the Demon."
"Interesting." Fury looked to Galatash and Fulsamee couldn't decipher the expression on his face. "I suppose you will be wanting to return to your Mate?"
"Yes, Noble Prophet."
The Prophet stroked his jowls thoughtfully. "Yes. Well, when we reach High Charity you will have to answer to the Hierarch, but then I will ask for you to be put on leave."
Sangheili Medical Facility Sangheil Ninth Age of Reclamation
"Let me get this straight." Priestess Saia' Jalahass stared down the trio of Practioners that had been treating her. "You've taken my child."
"To a nursery!" The regular Practioner almost yelled this. He flung his hands in the air and stormed out.
The female, more used to placating patients, put a hand on the Priestess' arm. "The best education, the best food - and no danger. You see how dangerous it can be in the house of two high profile Sangheili?" The Practioner nodded her head, as if she thought it would somehow sway Jalahass.
"I don't care," Jalahass stated. She forcibly removed the Practioner's hand from her arm. "I'm leaving."
"No!" The remaining two medics shouted at once.
"Now," Jalahass growled, kicking off the anti-grav. "And if you stop me I will kill you."
"Priestess you're not-"
But she had already walked out.
High Charity Ninth Age of Reclamation
Fulsamee made the familiar walk to the Council chambers take as long as it could. He was beginning to tire of it. One day he would return from a mission and not have it end in an enquiry.
Priestess Hera' Solatta was waiting for him at the doors, her hands neatly folded over her azure skirts. "Excellency," she said warmly. "How are you?"
"Tired," he managed a grin for her. "Have you heard from Jalahass?"
"Well . . ." Solatta's entire demeanour changed. "I heard rumours."
Cocking his head, Fulsamee was about to ask what when he was ushered inside.
The Council halls were not full, apparently the Councillors were tiring of his visits too.
The three Hierarchs sat at the far end.
"Noble Truth," he noted. "Congratulations on your promotion."
"Why, thank you, Orna' Fulsamee." Truth smiled at him. It was as insincere as Fulsamee's words.
"Yes," Grace coughed. "Please, Fulsamee, lets make this brief. I know your Mate is in the city to see you."
"Ah . . . of course," Fulsamee interjected smoothly. Of course he knew that.
"Saia'," he exclaimed when he entered his quarters. "What are you doing - you're not fat." He was drawn off course as he noticed her slim figure.
"They took it from me!" she whirled on him, rage burning in her eyes.
"Uh . . ."
"My child," she returned to wearing down the deck with her pacing.
"Wait, who dared . . ."
"The Practioners! For my own safety. To raise the child in a place appropriate for its station!" she spat. "Orna' I want it back. I never even got to see it hatch."
Fulsamee ran his fingers over the healing scar on his head. "Yes, where's the nursery?"
Taken aback, Saia' Jalahass blinked at him. "You'll . . . you'll come with me?"
"Yes," Fulsamee said. "Of course I will."