Galaxy 07 - Part Four - Boot
Posted By: Jillybean<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 19 November 2003, 3:53 PM
Ishe' Manatee remained silent as he approached. The assorted crew of humans, Jackals, three Elites and the sole Brute that made the Spartan's Boot camp paid Ishe' Manatee little attention.
There were forty nine beings in total. Filed into loose seven lines of seven, they all appeared to be in good health. Even the humans would complete the runs, although the Brute had failed on occasion. They were sprinters, unlike the Elites who could move for long distances at a time. Ishe' Manatee found his place in the ranks and waited.
The Elite waited until he saw the human they called 'Master Chief' approach the group. It was strange that, although Master Chief was the obvious candidate for leadership, he appeared to take his orders from the small female. Ishe' Manatee understood that Daxia was a Commander, but he also understood that the nature of the relationship between the two was not . . . linear. He could not think of a better word, his grasp of English was fragile at best.
"Are you ready recruits?" the Chief snapped at them. He was not wearing his armour today. Ishe' Manatee respected that. It was a warriors responsibility to be fit, not that of the mechanics which surrounded him.
"I'm sorry," the Chief sounded surprised. "I didn't hear my answer!"
"Sir! Yes, sir!"
Daxia took her place in the columns beside Ishe' Manatee, though strictly she should have chosen elsewhere. The Elite towered over her as they began the run.
"Cortana has found something," she began. The columns moved at a steady pace up a thick dirt track and into the valleys beyond.
"What?" the marine behind her asked.
"Ships. Lots of them." Daxia ceased talking as they passed a collection of Forerunners. The tall, gangly aliens gazed after the runners, but made no move to pursue. Once satisfied they were out of range, Daxia continued.
"When the Forerunner's picked their specimens - they must have taken the ships too. They're in orbit above us."
"But if they're all from Strayforth," a corporal grunted, "they'll all be badly damaged. Humans and Covies got hit hard."
"Indeed," Ishe' Manatee agreed. "Perhaps they have repaired them? The Forerunner are not . . . what is the word?"
"I don't know. Picky?" Daxia suggested. She slipped as they cut over the grassy hills. Ishe' Manatee suppressed the quick movement of his claws to catch her. It was a strange and . . . human . . . desire to aid another.
"Be careful," the corporal warned. "Or the Chief'll pull you out."
"He could try." Of all the recruits Daxia was the least afraid of the Chief. When in his Trainer mode, at least, the Chief was a formidable opponent. Even Ishe' Manatee had to think twice before rising to a challenge set by the human. Or the Spartan.
Depending on the human one talked to, the Master Chief was either a human like them. Or a Spartan, not like them. Different.
"Oh God," a human male said from Ishe' Manatee's right. "Not the gully."
The gully was a long, treacherous stretch of rocks that the Chief often ran the trainees through. It was difficult, since there were so many of them and the gully was very narrow in places. Ishe' Manatee had no problems leaping over the larger boulders. He came out in front of the pack and kept moving alongside the Chief. The running did not stop for a good few hours.
They came to the crest of a hill and the Chief drew up. The humans and Jackals collapsed onto the spiky blue-green grass. The Chief ordered them ten minutes rest and left the group alone for a while. He was probably setting up some trap for them later on in the track. Ishe' Manatee was not worried, he knew he would be able to handle anything that came his way.
"There you are," Daxia approached him. She was breathing heavily and she sat on the grass with a thump. The Elite watched as she grinned up at him, shading her eyes from the sun with her hand. "You ran on ahead."
"I was capable." The Elite took a look around at the humans and puffed softly. His breathing slowed as he willed his body to return to a calm state.
"Yeah. You missed our discussion about the ships. We think it's likely the Forerunners have repaired some of them," Daxia said. "After all, it is an exhibition."
A few of the surrounding humans laughed at her pompous tone. Ishe' Manatee's mandibles tensed in his own version of a frown.
"I do not understand. What is the funny?"
"She was copying the Forerunners," a marine explained. "Mimicry. Dunno where she gets the energy from," he added.
Daxia raised an eyebrow and the marine flushed. The other humans laughed at the young man.
Again, Ishe' Manatee perceived the humour, but did not understand why it was funny. One of the doctors took pity on him.
"She's in love," the doctor explained, drawing more laughter. "It gives her energy. The marine forgot."
"How does love provide energy?" Ishe' Manatee asked.
Daxia sobered up a little and leaned back, gazing into the distance where the Chief had gone.
"Chemically? Sex produces hormones which make you happy. You're more willing to do exercise,"
"Speak for yourself," muttered an anonymous wit.
"and that in turn makes more happy hormones." Daxia did not include more technical terms because Ishe' Manatee's grasp of English was not the best. Nor was her grasp of science.
"It's more than that though," the doctor continued thoughtfully. "Love is a lot more than just sex."
"It's supposed to be. At any rate," the corporal glanced meaningfully at Daxia and ceased talking.
"Are you ready trainees?" The Chief returned and the group pulled themselves to their feet reluctantly.
Ishe' Manatee witnessed the strange expression on Daxia's face. She looked almost angry. Was it because of what the corporal had said? Or perhaps not. Ishe' Manatee was not experienced at reading humans.
On returning to the Covenant barracks Ishe' Manatee was instantly aware of the unsettled air. A Brute standing at the far side of the vaulted corridor leered at him.
"Is there something I ought to know?" he asked. He could hear the gentle clicking of Elite's behind him. Their clawed feet tapped against the ground.
"We. Are. Not. Pleased," rasped the Prophet who hovered before him. The Prophet levelled his gaze on Ishe' Manatee and clicked disapprovingly.
"May I enquire as to why you are displeased?" Manatee asked. He was careful not to slip into English, the common language of the humans. It was a habit that he had grown into in the past few years.
The Prophet before him hummed lowly. Behind Manatee, the Brutes advanced a step.
"Your collaboration with the humans is . . . unacceptable." The Prophet slid backwards in his chair. "Renounce them and identify those other traitors. You may be allowed to keep your life."
"There is no honour in my life if I renounce my beliefs," Manatee growled.
"Your principles are those of the Gods!" The Prophet roared. "Kill him!"
His first instinct was to whirl around to face the Brutes. But Ishe' Manatee knew better than to turn his back on a Prophet. He lunged forward, whipping around to keep his vulnerable back to the wall.
The first Brute lunged forward with a powerful punch. Manatee ducked and drove his elbow into the creatures chest. There was a vulnerable spot on the Brute, just below the jaw, where the skin was tender. Ishe' Manatee grabbed the loose fur with his right claw and dragged the Brute around. With his other claws he made a pointed edge and drove upwards - into the throat of the Brute. It roared in pain and stumbled off.
An Elite ran towards him. Manatee met the blue armour head on. His greater size forced the younger Elite backwards. They tumbled to the floor and Manatee snapped the Elite's neck.
A Jackal leapt onto his abdomen and ripped at the back plate of his armour. Manatee bellowed furiously, flinging the Jackal aside. It's spine broke as it impacted with the far wall.
A second Brute came at him. The huge creature bore its weight onto his back, forcing Manatee back on to the ground. A Hunter leapt into the fray, it's spines clicking madly.
In the battle, Manatee had turned away from the Prophet. Now he paid for that fault. It stabbed him with a taser, able to hit flesh because the Jackal had weakened his armour.
Manatee collapsed, his vision swimming. His mandibles slackened as he tried to draw breath into his tight chest. He could make out the forms of the Brutes, Elites and Hunters that were hulking over him.
"Kill the traitor," the Prophet ordered. Then it left Manatee to his doom.
One of the Elites reached down and ripped the scarlet back plate from Manatee's armour. He snarled viciously, grabbing the clawed foot of a Hunter and pulling with all his might. The Hunter crashed to the ground, disrupting the rest of Manatee's assailants. He rolled out of the way and grabbed a little Jackal by the throat. He used it's shield as he backed away from the other Covenant in the room.
He had nearly reached the door when another of the Elites growled softly.
"Why are you doing this Ishe' Manatee? You were always one of the greatest warriors we possessed? Forget this foolishness," he begged. "I do not want to have to kill you."
"You do not see," Manatee prepared to set the Jackal down, relatively unharmed. "The Prophets. Our Gods. They were wrong! The Forerunner destroyed as a race. We have lost all that we gained. I am not following Gods who bring me here."
"The Gods will lead us out!" the Elite exclaimed.
"They do not exist."
Manatee flung the Jackal at them, to stall their approach. He sprinted down corridors and into the open mess halls. His body was failing, battered and bruised as it was. He could smell his burned flesh from the electric shock.
"Manatee!" Another young Elite caught him and helped him stand. This one was on his side.
"Warn the others. The Prophets have branded us traitors. They will try to kill us all. Ask the humans for aid," he instructed.
"Do you think they will give us aid? They do not like us much," the Elite said doubtfully.
Manatee growled. "They had better."
"I shall take you to the Commander Ring." The Elite decided. "She will know what to do."