Parcel o' Rogues 3 - This Charge of Beginnings
Posted By: Jillybean<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 7 December 2004, 6:40 PM
Parcel o' Rogues
This Charge of Beginning
"Cortana . . ." Miranda eyed the ship they were fast approaching. "I thought you said this ship wasn't heavily armed."
"Relatively speaking, ma'am," Cortana replied.
"Don't worry, Miranda," Cronus added. "I have this all under control."
"He means -" and the Pelican dived out of the way of a plasma blast. "That we have a plan."
Miranda didn't worry. She never worried. Brushing over the AI bickering, she turned to face her 'crew'.
Whitey had assured her that the Grunts Jey-Jey and Gah-Jin would be loyal to their cause, adding that Grunts could be invaluable if a Commander recognised their potential. He had always sought for Grunts on his team.
Jackals, he had continued, were not so highly thought of by his kind. Any Jackal speaking of Heresy should be treated with extreme caution, as their tiny minds did not grasp anything beyond the will of the Prophets.
Danny Coltrain and his brother, Doctor Graeme Coltrain were sitting on the Pelican's seats, watching her patiently. Their similarity struck her, though Danny had his messy hair shorn back and could have easily beaten down his older sibling. Miranda hoped the relationship would not interfere with their mission, she would not hesitate to separate the two if it had to be.
Sarge Johnson, her fathers favourite. Now here was where her emotions interfered. Losing her Uncle Avery would . . . unsettle her. He had survived many combat situations, she hoped he'd survive this one too.
Kate Donnell, the tech, was pale. She had a magnum in her hands, the gun seeming to dwarf her.
As Miranda watched, the Arbiter placed a hand on the tech's shoulder, gripping an inactive plasma sword with the other. Kate sat a little straighter and met Miranda's gaze.
"Are we all ready?" Miranda asked, cursing the words the moment they came out. She could have said many other things.
"We are indeed," Whitey loaded his scrounged shotgun.
"Ma'am," Mark called from the cockpit. "We're being hailed."
The AI were silent, debating with each other perhaps.
"We are unsure," Cronus admitted. "There appears to be a member of the High Council onboard, leading a task force, but I don't think this one is trustworthy."
"Who is it?" Whitey pushed forward, his fist clenching and unclenching.
"Fera 'Talsamee," Cronus replied. "These actions do not fit my profile."
"Fera," and Whitey grinned, his missing mandibles twitching at the stump. "Tell her we are coming to her aid."
"Her aid," Sarge repeated, stepping around to look Whitey in the eye. "I hope she's a damn sight prettier than you ugly bastards."
Whitey cocked his head, musing on the thought.
"Fera 'Talsamee is one of the most gracious and beautiful Sangheili I have ever had the good fortune to meet." Whitey turned to the Arbiter for support. "Yet, I imagine you will find her as hideous as I find your women."
"Thanks," Kate piped up.
"We're docking in a secured landing bay," Cortana announced. "Let's see how far you trust her."
"This is unexpected," Cronus spoke with her in an aside. "Fera 'Talsamee is not the sort to betray the Covenant."
"Then we'll keep an eye on her," Cortana promised.
"Fera!" Whitey stalked down the gangplank of the Pelican, lifting his hand to ward off the two Elites at her side.
Fera 'Talsamee inclined her head, the large headdress bobbing. She eyed his human companions with an aura of distaste, and neither Whitey, nor the Arbiter missed it.
"I see you have survived, Arbiter," Fera 'Talsamee turned and whispered something to the scarlet armoured Elite on her right. "And yet the Prophets are dead. You have failed your duties again."
"This time for the better," Whitey interrupted. "Fera 'Talsamee, you know how the Prophets have betrayed us. I spoke with you."
Fera inclined her head again, but this time she seemed saddened. "Indeed, your Excellency I have to confess that I lied." The Elites beside her lifted their weapons.
The Arbiter pushed forward, lowering his centre of gravity and spreading his arms, trying to shield the humans behind him. Jey-Jey aimed an overheated plasma pistol at Fera 'Talsamee, his arms quivering with the buzzing green energy.
"Put it away, Jey-Jey," Whitey murmured, his shoulders sagging.
"Do as he says," Fera 'Talsamee snapped. She reached for her belt and pulled out the hilt of a plasma sword. "Kneel, Arbiter. You shall die as you should have, before you disgraced the name of the Sangheili."
The Elites at her side jerked their rifles at him. The Arbiter had only his own sword, dormant in his hand. They had to have seen the unobtrusive hilt, it would have been a foolish Elite indeed who did not. Still, he lowered his arms slowly.
"I will not kneel before you, Fera 'Talsamee. I am the Arbiter. I do not fear you." He drew himself up to his full height, the Elites stepping forward, weapons at the ready.
At that moment Jey-Jey's weapon went off, knocking the Grunt backwards. One of Fera's guards turned and poured plasma into its body.
"Enough!" Whitey roared, leaping in front of the plasma and scoring himself on the arm. Growling, the Commander crouched by the body of his fallen comrade.
"Arbiter?" Fera 'Talsamee asked softly.
Slowly, the Arbiter stepped forward, starting to bend his knee.
"Don't." Miranda shifted, shooting a glare at Johnson when he tried to stop her. "343 Guilty Spark, tell her!"
"The function of the Halos-"
"Silence, Oracle," the Arbiter reprimanded. He looked up at Fera 'Talsamee's eyes. "Will you happy with my life alone?"
"I give you my word."
The Arbiter kneeled, bowing his head. He heard the soft crackle as the plasma sword lifted, as the mind behind it judged the trajectory through his neck.
He heard Fera 'Talsamee's gasp as she brought the blade downwards, saw her weight shift on her feet.
The fingers curled around the hilt of his sword flicked the switch, and he brought the igniting sword over his head, bringing its newly born blade into the path of his executioner.
"Your word means nothing to me," he growled, pushing upwards.
Fera 'Talsamee stumbled backwards, crashing into one of her henchmen.
With a roar, Whitey leapt for the other, tackling him to the ground. The two aliens grappled with each other, the plasma rifle firing wildly. Gah-Jin barrelled into Miranda, taking her to the floor and pinning her there.
"Stay down, ma'am!" Sarge yelled, kneeling and peering through his scope at the blur of movement. "Hold it!" He squeezed a shot off at the first Elite, but could not hit Whitey's opponent.
"You will not harm me," Fera 'Talsamee grated. She stared up the Arbiters blade, meeting his eyes. "You will not harm a female. Our laws prohibit it."
The Arbiter hesitated, the blade melting Fera's elaborate helmet.
Whitey roared in victory, pushing the broken body of the other Elite off of himself. He gave his limbs an almighty shake.
"You okay?" Sarge asked.
"I am fine," Whitey turned to their prisoner. "Now, Fera 'Talsamee. Tell us how many others we can find on this ship."
There was a soft clink as the Chief's armour settled to the deck.
"Chief, get off that ship, now," the voice murmured, tinny in his ear.
There was the taste of copper in his mouth, and when he inhaled, liquid bubbled into his lungs.
"Master Chief! Spartan-117 you will reply!"
"Here," he grunted. This was just another test. The words came out garbled, the teeth knocking around in his jaw mixed up his sounds, his tongue was too thick to work.
"Chief! Get off that ship!"
"Hood," John murmured. He lifted one trembling muscle, but collapsed to the deck plating once more.
"Chief! Chief, can you hear me?"
A cloven foot stepped in front of the Spartan's visor, and four fingered hands lifted him.
"Can you hear me?"
"Hood," he murmured again.
His stomach tensed as he was lifted into the air and borne away.
"Speak with me, Demon. We have much to discuss."
He was once more on the deck, though the colouring was different, darker.
It's all a test.
His saviour sat at the controls, inputting a course.
"We will be lucky to escape the blast wave," he was told, before he felt the uncomfortable numbness of slipspace.
Fera 'Talsamee crouched in her cell, her grey hands folded neatly in front of her. The forcefield glimmered, but there was no guard to keep her quiet. Only the oppressive failure poised on her shoulders.
The door hissed open and one of the humans walked in. Slight, and dark haired, with the sickening pale skin that some humans wore. Ill.
"Leave me," Fera 'Talsamee commanded.
The human did not. She tapped a few commands into the console beside her and the forcefield disintegrated.
"Foolish human," Fera unfolded, towering over the woman in her jail cell.
The woman considered her, blue eyes taking in every inch of the unarmed Elite. "Tell me about Cronus," she whispered.
With a snarl, Fera 'Talsamee lunged forward, hands outstretched to snap her puny neck
Donnell stepped back, batting that hand away and firing a plasma pistol into 'Talsamee's ribcage.
"You and I will talk." Donnell told the crumpled female. "And you will not tell anyone about us."
"That's odd," Cronus flicked up, a small blue human male on a pedestal.
Miranda raised an eyebrow.
"A glitch," Cortana appeared beside him. She glanced at his new appearance, but resisted comment. "In the cells."
"It's fixed," Cronus hastened to assure the Commander. "But it's . . ."
"Odd," Cortana finished. "We'll run a diagnostic."
"See that you do."
AN Please refrain from hijacking any comment threads on these stories, it's painful enough reading the 'constructive criticism' as it is.