He lied motionlessly in his tomb, awaiting the time when he should be resurrected.
The ghost whined over the sandy floor of Rune. The three luminescent vehicles gliding endlessly in search of someone they'd never seen. "The Green Devil," they called him. None of the Elites on the patrol had seen him, but they knew. They had heard. The stories of the artifact Halo; the defeat soon-after.
The first of six recon ghosts came to a rest at a small oasis. Lush greenery flourished miraculously in the lethal heat. Constant sunlight beat heavily down on the ground; shimmers of heat rolled into the atmosphere. Water from an underground spring bubbled up into the small pond.
"We will rest here momentarily. Then we must continue our search. Refill your water-sacks and eat if you must. There will be not one more stop until we find him." 'Rola Zakamee clacked menacingly.
He had only been a field commander for a week, but his ego stretched that into years. To him, he was the most tactful strategist to ever graduate the Citadel. He reminisced. The most sacred of all schools, the Citadel was tucked away at the heart of High Charity. Foremost producer of the leading military minds for the Covenant, it was an indispensable asset.
His minors grumbled, not with dissent, but with a lack of hope. They had been scowering the desert on this forsaken planet for six cycles already. The recon team was tired, hot, and extremely irritable. Field commander or not, if 'Zuka rubbed them the right way, he may just have an accident.
The field commander removed a pair of sense-heighteners from a small pouch. He hefted the device to his eye-slits and combed the area. Sense-heighteners were ovular metal cylinders. Their luminescent purple metal was the same as every other Covenant device. There were two holes for eyes, and a long thin slit for the sensors opposite.
The thin laser meticulously searched every square inch of ground, looking for anything suspicious. It was too hot for thermal differences to register; he switched it to ground differential. Three large black squares appeared, highlighting the sandy patches inside. 'Zuka was curious.
He searched higher, and came to rest on a rock formation. Five large stone pillars arranged like a hand, with the thumb and forefinger collapsed onto each other. Time? Or for a reason? he wondered quietly. A shimmer. He zoomed in on it. The glint of sunlight reflecting off of metal.
The device outlined the object. It appeared to be a forearm, and fingers. A rock obscured most of it, but had revealed enough. 'Zuka parted his mandibles in a triumphant grin. They had finally found the Green Devil, and it was apparently resting.
A thick thwap echoed off of the several scattered trees, followed by a roar. 'Zuka pivoted 180 degrees instantly. A large hole had revealed itself, and the four other Elites were staring into it. One tightented its fist in anger. 'Zuka approached cautiously.
At first glance he missed the body inside. His eyes first directed to the plasma sword humming ominously three units down. The hole itself was six units deep, and bristling with sharp carved spikes. How could I not have seen this? He was answered as the wind blew several fallen elephant leaves off of the tree stumps they were covering.
Definitely the Green Devil's doing. He would pay severely. 'Zuka glanced back; the arm hadn't moved. It must not have heard the roar from so far away. He nodded in approval to his theory. He had barely even heard the roar from where he was over the whipping of wind.
"You three, board your Ghosts and flank around those rocks; but wait until I give this signal." 'Zuka ordered as he held up his forearm, and wrapped his four fingers together in an alien fist. "Meanwhile, you two will come with me, and catch the Green Devil off-guard."
The Elites nodded, and moved out. He hoped the hover-bikes' engines wouldn't disturb him, he wanted the creature as disoriented as possible. Not having seen the creature himself, he had heard the rumors many times before. This time though, he would die. He had specific orders to kill; they'd tried to capture him before. Unsuccessfully.
Two Elites raced up on both sides of 'Zuka, and stopped short of turning the corner. 'Zuka motioned to the hand, and then made a grabbing motion. They understood. He would grab the exposed forearm, and they would jump him then.
Three, two, one. Go!
He dove to the ground behind the rock, and yanked the arm as forcefully as possible backwards. It gave way easily. Too easily. He looked at his prize, it was a severed forerm; an Elites! There was a small mettalic circle attached to the end. The thump of an axplosion reached him before the blast; which pushed the gigantic boulder down onto his surprised back.
It broke his shields instantly, and crushed his skeletal structure. He breathed heavily as the sand piled up around him. The two bodies of his comrades were strewn in pieces around him. A head, blood, pieces of flesh. A trap, 'Zuka realized all to late. The three Ghosts throttled forward single-file to cautiously see what had happened.
The grit burned his eyes, but he didn't blink. He watched in disbelief as the sand rose up violently. The shine of sunlight off the jade-green surface sparkled in his eyes. The Green Devil rose up from beneath the sands, and yanked the third driver forcefully from his Ghost. He kicked the vehicles rear hard, sending it in a tailspin that clipped the second Ghost.
There was a silent snap of bone, and the Green Devil faded away. 'Zuka blinked. His vision was cleared. The Ghost he had damaged with the third vehicle jerked violently as the tail of the third slammed into his plasma cannons. They were useless. He blinked again.
The last undamaged Ghost, the first one, turned to fire. Six light-blue shards of energy pierced the Elite driver's skull, and it toppled helplessly to the ground. Its Ghost quietly settled down beside its late owner. The Green Devil held a plasma carbine in its vile claws. Another blink.
The second Ghost's pilot jumped down angrily, and took the standard fighting stance. The Devil pulled the carbine's barrel up to face him, but it was quickly knocked away. 'Zuka smiled. The Elite launched a sloppy anger-driven punch that was countered easily. The green menace ducked, grabbed the Elite's forearm, and snapped it over its back. A quick follow-up landed in its mid-section, crushing the various abdominal muscles and organs.
'Zuka spat up blood, and blinked once more. The Green Devil hopped onto the abandoned Ghost. It hovered majestically above the sand. Blue-green orbs of plasma jolted into the last Elite's body, sending it shuttering to the ground near pock-marked puddles of molent glass.
The Green Devils golden eyes turned to face him once, before he turned away and glided off. 'Zuka couldn't inhale. He tried, but he couldn't. The world closed in on him. He sucked as hard as he could, but no air entered his lungs. An invisible wall seemed to build itself in his throat.
He lowered his head solemnly into the sand, and closed his eyes. The Green Devil flashed into his mind one last time, before the darnkess overtook him.
The Chief watched the dunes rise and fall like waves in front of him. He brushed the encounter behind him. Cortana chimed rhytmically in.
"I detect a downed CCS capital ship three hundred kilometers ahead. But it should be extremely fortified, and almost impossible to access."
"Don't worry." He answered with a calm that was more unsettling than reassuring.
"I hope you have a plan." She replied dryly.
"I do." The standard answer from him. It was useless trying to change him she thought to herself.
"Would you like to tell me?"
"I'm going to get there, I'm going to get in their ship, and I'm going to kill them." She wasn't shocked, but amused. Cortana had never thought he really was THAT suicidal. She'd just have to wait to see.