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The Iron Hands of the Prophets (Part 5): Sword of Light
Posted By: MadJackal
Date: 25 March 2004, 4:40 AM

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      The blackness of space was somehow calming to Soka Summakee. He admired its beauty and its peacefulness. Once again, Soka was sitting in a Phantom dropship with members of the 17th SOCAST, the troops under his direct command. Nicknamed the Infidel Stompers, the 17th Special Operations Combined Arms Strike Team was one of the best Special Ops units in the Covenant military. Soka was proud to have them under his command. He and a single squad of Infidel Stompers were en route to the Covenant Cruiser Sword of Light.
      Under the ruse of trading supplies, the Phantom had been allowed to quickly come over. The dark caste ship that the Sword was hunting was badly damaged and was trying to limp away. Seeing that his prey could not escape, the Ship Master of the Sword had decided that it couldn't hurt to delay his destruction of the dark caste scum for a little while, especially since Soka had said that he and his troops aboard the Invisible Truth were in dire need of supplies.
      What the Sword's Ship Master didn't know was that the inbound Phantom contained the best squad in the Infidel Stompers, who were armed to the teeth and ready to capture the ship.
      Soka, learning from his mistake on the surface of Eden, had brought both a plasma rifle and a plasma sword with him so that he would have a weapon to use in every situation. He also carried twelve plasma grenades. Around him were the members of Purity in Spirit Squad, the only squad in the Infidel Stompers composed entirely of Elites. The Strike Team's designation as Combined Arms meant that it had Grunts, Jackals, and Hunters, as well as Elites, but the command squad was still an all-Elite squad.
      "Friendly Phantom, we are dropping shields now and you are cleared for docking bay 3A."
      The pilot answered, thanking the operator for his kindness. The Phantom flew into the bay and flared to a stop. The Elite to Soka's right raised his needler and pointed it at the door as he undid his harness. Soka unhooked his harness as well and pulled out his plasma rifle. The dropship stopped a few meters over the deck and opened its bay doors. Letting out a battle cry that shook the docking bay, the Infidel Stompers leapt from the Phantom, emptying their weapons at enemy troops.

      Kolz was the Elite put in charge of overseeing the transfer of supplies from the docking bay into the Invisible Truth's dropship. It was dull duty, perfect for a low ranking Elite like Kolz. He had to sit and watch as the Grunts and Engineers moved crates back and forth. How inspiring.
      The Phantom flared to a stop in front of him and began to sink to the deck. The Grunts under his command moved in, preparing to make the transfer of supplies. The doors fell open on the dropship and instead of crates and Grunts, black armored Elites jumped from the dropship, weapons blazing. The Grunts around the dropship were immediately blown backwards as plasma tore through their armor and flesh. The Engineers cowered behind crates as the black armored Elites stormed past them.
      Confused, but smart enough to realize that these were not friendly Elites, Kolz raised his weapon and began to fire.
      He fought valiantly, putting out a large amount of fire, but the combined fire of so many Elites took down his shields in a matter of seconds. Plasma struck his armor, melting through it and charring his flesh. Screaming in pain, Kolz collapsed to the ground. He reached for a plasma grenade, activated it, and threw it as hard as he could in the direction of the enemy Elites. They saw it coming and jumped out of the way. The explosion shook the floor of the docking bay, but it did nothing except to damage the shields of a few Elites.
      Kolz knew it was over. He struggled to his hands and knees and then sat up, his plasma rifle raised in a vain attempt to fire. His vision blurred from the pain of the plasma burns, but he could still see the Elite that walked over to him, his right arm held off to his side. In the Elite's hand was a deactivated plasma sword. The Elite triggered it and it glowed to life, illuminating the Elite's face and armor in the darkness of the bay. The Elite's armor seemed to come alive in the glow of the blade, filling Kolz with fear.
      Everything about Elite armor had been designed for both intimidation and effectiveness. The angular helmet gave off an aura of hatred that Kolz was feeling all too well. The eerie black armor seemed to shimmer in the light and the jagged armor on the Elite's forearms seemed that much more threatening. Kolz found himself unable to fire at the Elite, the demon that appeared before him. It strode up to him, raised the glowing energy blade, and brought it down on Kolz's head with blinding speed. The demon in the Elite armor was the last thing Kolz ever saw.

      Soka stepped back from the Elite he had just killed and let its body slump to the floor. Dark purple blood spilled out onto the deck from its head, forming a pool around its upper body. Soka turned and looked back at his Infidel Stompers. He gave out orders. He and three other Elites were going to make their way to the bridge. The rest of the Infidel Stompers were to hold the bay, creating a distraction so that Soka and the three Elites could slip into the bridge with active camouflage. Soka had exchanged his previous armor for the camouflage armor just for this mission. It meant that he did not have shields, but that was a sacrifice he would have to make if he wanted to get all the way to the bridge unnoticed.
      He reached down and tapped the button that activated the camouflage. He watched as his hand slowly faded from view as a result of the light bending camouflage. The other three Elites with the camouflage followed suit. Soka knew the way around this class of Covenant warship like the back of his hand. In fact, the Sword of Light had the exact same layout as the Invisible Truth. He found the door that would get him to the bridge and slipped through it, followed by the other camouflaged Elites. The rest of the Infidel Stompers took up defensive positions around the bay, under the protection of the Phantom's gun turret.

      On the bridge of the Sword of Light, Ship Master Palma frowned as his AI brought his attention to one of the screens. The screen showed a team of Special Ops Elites firing upon his men in docking bay 3A. It didn't make sense, but yet, it happened. He replayed the fight and watched the Elite with the sword kill a blue armored Elite that had been in charge of the supply transfer. "Send in as many troops as we can spare. Do not send them into the bay. Have them set up outside every exit of the bay until we can see what is going on. Call Prophet Lokna to the bridge. He needs to see this. Maybe he can explain," Palma ordered.
      "Yes Ship Master," his AI responded.
      There was not a Prophet aboard every ship, but Lokna had wanted to see the destruction of a particularly troublesome group of dark caste members, so he was present aboard the Sword of Light. They had followed them to this planet, a long abandoned backwater world that Palma had never been to before, but that the dark caste scum were trying to flee to.
      "What is it, Ship Master?"
      Palma spun around and saw Lokna moving towards him on his floating chair. "There has been a troubling incident in the docking bay, and I was wondering what you would make of it, Excellency." Palma said, bowing.
      He then showed the Prophet the surveillance footage of the takeover of the bay. "My troops have surrounded them. They are trapped there. They cannot leave unless we drop our shields, and they cannot break out of the bay. What should I do with them?"
      "Kill them. It's this world, it is cursed. This whole system is cursed. That is why the dark caste bandits always flee here. What ship did they come from?"
      "They came from the Cruiser Invisible Truth, which is also in this system."
      "The Truth? They aren't dark caste! What is this? Be wary, Ship Master. Dispose of the troops in the bay and destroy the dark caste ship. Then we will find out what is going on with the Invisible Truth."
      "Yes, Excellency," Palma said.
      In the middle of that conversation, no one had noticed that a door had hissed open and then closed. A guard thought he saw something in the shadows by the door, a faint distortion of the light, but it was gone a few seconds later and he attributed it to his lack of sleep. Ship Master Palma turned to look at the Prophet when he thought he saw the air ripple around him. His experience kicked in and he shouted out a warning to Lokna, but it was too late. A plasma blade came to life and pressed itself against Lokna's neck. Palma gasped and started to take a step towards Lokna when an invisible arm grabbed him from behind. Palma felt the cold surface of a plasma rifle pressed against the side of his head.
      "Put your weapons down or the Ship Master and the Prophet die!" the Elite with the plasma sword said. The guards obeyed. Two black armored Elites materialized behind the guards and policed their weapons.
      "Ship Master, order all of your soldiers aboard this ship to stand down!"
      Palma hesitated, but the Elite yelled, "Do it! Now! Or I'll kill this Prophet!"
      Palma obeyed. His troops were just about to charge into the docking bay when his order came over the battlenet.
      "I've got incoming dropships. Lower your shields!" the camouflaged Elite ordered.
      Palma obeyed. The shields dropped. Five Phantoms entered the docking bays and the rest of the Infidel Stompers poured into the Sword of Light's docking bays. Within the hour, the entire crew had been contained in the ship's brig and other isolated rooms. The process began again, just like it had when Soka had taken control of the Invisible Truth. A few immediately volunteered to join Soka's growing army, most took more convincing, and some would not join.
      While he worked on enlisting the crew of the Sword into his ranks, Ship Master Ruka, Soka's friend from the Invisible Truth, managed to hail the dark caste ship and soon, everything was under control. Lokna was alone in his own cell block aboard the Sword, just like Ronu was in the Truth to prevent them from lowering morale or keeping undecided prisoners on the side of the Prophets.
      The dark caste ship released all of its dropships to ferry its members down to the surface to link up with Jukka's dark caste band on Eden. Soka was happy. He was developing quite a force here, and it had not even been a single day since the takeover of the Invisible Truth. He had two Cruisers in pristine condition and one badly damaged dark caste frigate. With the inclusion of the new dark caste troops, he now had enough soldiers to form an entire division. The problem was the group of Covenant who did not want to join.
      He ordered all of the prisoners that still refused to join them executed except for the two Prophets. They could not afford to have to deal with disloyal troops. If the situation became dire and they had to defend one of their ships from attack, the last thing that they needed was a group of enemy soldiers behind their backs, even if they were unarmed. If the enemy got to them, they could easily arm the prisoners. Also, killing them saved Soka the trouble of feeding and supplying soldiers who were useless to him. That would let his supplies last much longer before they would have to go on a raid to get more.
      Soka Summakee laughed as he boarded the dropship that would take him back to the surface of Eden. This crazy rebellion of his just might work. It just might work. Perhaps, after the flames of this rebellion had died down, the corrupt Prophets would see the error of their ways. Perhaps the fighting spirit of his legion of soldiers would echo throughout the Covenant Empire, and the Prophets would have no choice but to listen and to eliminate the corruptness within their own organization. Maybe Soka's Iron Hand rebellion would be the dawn of a new era of glory for the Covenant Empire.
      Soka sure hoped so, because in the end, his army did not stand a chance against the full might of the Covenant military. Once the Prophets found out the true scope of their rebellion, they would bring all hell crashing down on their heads. And Soka did not think that they would be able to survive. There was a chance, but it was slim. Of course, Soka did not tell anyone that. If his men found out that their own leader was harboring doubts about their ability to succeed, then morale would plummet.
      But Soka would fight, no matter what the odds. He could not escape it. It was his destiny to be here and fight. He would fight until he and all of his soldiers were dead if that's what it would take for the Prophets to hear them.
      There was no way for Soka to know it, but at that exact moment, a breeze filtered through the shrine in Fortress Dark Horizon underneath the mountains on Eden, rustling the tattered and bloodstained banner of the Iron Hands.

To Be Continued