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Warrior's Fate, Part 4: Forgotten One
Posted By: maxx
Date: 19 April 2005, 9:26 PM

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Command Chamber
Field Post of The Lesser Devout Vigilant, Quiet Wind Group

      Field Post Commander Ekha 'Akstamee reflected cynically upon recent events as he awaited one of his junior patrol leaders. The arrival of another group of human warships and the sudden appearance of their fire cocoons in his area would seem to indicate that the humans were indeed preparing to shift the offensive to this side of the moon. It was strange, however, that such a small number of cocoons would be dropped so foolishly close to a Covenant strong point alone. Ekha's light defense turrets had successfully destroyed three of the eight cocoons spotted in his sector before they were able to land. But Ekha was not as pleased with his inexperienced patrol leaders, who thus far seemed incapable of accomplishing the simple task of dealing with the five remaining humans. He ordered one of the young Elites to report the details of their failure to him face to face; as such incompetence required the most thorough attention. Although annoyed by the setback, a part of him still looked forward to seeing the arrogant fool grovel with humility before him. The few young Elites Ekha had under his lowly command made no secret of the fact that they regarded him with little respect, and abundant contempt. After all, Ekha 'Akstamee was one who had been cast down and stripped of all honor. He had once been a member of a revered Elite assassin clan, until the entire clan had been thrown into a thoughtlessly planned suicide mission. It came as no surprise to him that the clan had been utterly decimated in the process. He was among only several to have survived.
      But of course the shame of such failure was placed not on the shoulders of the prophet who had given them their mandate, but on the clan itself. In accordance with tradition, the clan name had been wiped from record, to be forever cast out of memory in disgrace. The only dishonor greater than dying in such a failure was to survive it. Thus, Ekha and his few remaining comrades had been separated from each other and banished to the fate of becoming 'forgotten ones'. For the rest of their lives they would serve in menial commands that were usually reserved for the young and the incompetent. It was considered blasphemous to the sacred laws for them to ever associate with each other, or to utter the name of their former clan again. For other Elites to even befriend one of them would be a taboo. Thus, they had become virtual outcasts. To be branded a Forgotten One was a miserable fate for any Elite, let alone one who had once held the high honor and respect that Ekha 'Akstamee had. At times, he secretly wondered where his few remaining clan mates had ended up. Unfortunately, he would never know. He was forbidden to even think about them, let alone inquire into their whereabouts.
      He stopped his contemplation as he saw the door across the chamber slide open. Even though the command chamber was dimly lit, Ekha could see shame in the younger Elite's slightly dejected demeanor as he walked through the entryway.
      Ekha clicked his mandibles to indicate his displeasure. "Enlighten me to your progress, or the lack thereof," he growled.
      Yzraa tried to mask his shame behind a defiant tone. "We have lost direct contact with the humans for the time being, but it is no matter. We are following their trail and will have them in our grasp again soon."
      "And how many did you kill in the initial contact?"
      "We cannot be sure," Yzraa chose his words carefully, "The exchange of fire created much confusion. I cannot say with certainty that we killed any."
      "And why is that? Were there more humans than you anticipated?" Ekha demanded.
      "We are only sure of the five that survived their descent in the cocoons."
      Ekha gave him a look of mild disgust. "I know that you are young, inexperienced, and embarrassingly untalented. But to let a few human trespassers in our territory inflict casualties upon your unit, and then allow them to slip away, is an outrageous blunder even for you!"
      "But they had prepared an ambush for my patrol," Yzraa stammered pathetically.
      "Explain this."
      "It began when they exploded a booby trap, killing three jackals at the front of my formation. Our Banshee scout immediately flew low to investigate the explosion, only to be hit by a rocket weapon, which forced him to crash land. Almost simultaneously, the humans popped up from behind cover and blazed their rifles at us aggressively. As we began to return fire, a few more booby traps suddenly exploded near the middle of our ranks, creating momentary confusion. In the midst of this chaos I saw several grunts ahead of me fall one by one. It then occurred to me that the humans had positioned a sniper somewhere further ahead. I looked through my viewing lens to locate the sniper, but he was positioned too far back for me to pinpoint in the darkness. But I did catch a glimpse of the other humans as they withdrew. From what I could see, they seemed to do it in a very disciplined manner, working in pairs with one firing and the other retreating. They moved with impressive speed and coordination. Their covering fire, combined with continued harassment from their sniper, slowed our advance just long enough for them to escape from our sight."
      Ekha snorted. "So you lost a banshee and a handful of my troops. Yet you have nothing to show for it."
      "I would have annihilated them myself had they stood their ground and fought," Yzraa replied defensively. "But their strategy was to hit and run."
      "An intelligent strategy which obviously got the best of you," Ekha laughed. "Are you so foolish to think that such a small force would dare engage us in a war of attrition? They obviously intend to survive using guerrilla tactics... something that the best human warriors are quite adept in."
      "Enough of this!" The younger Elite finally lost his composure. "Whether or not you are in command, I will NOT be mocked by a forgotten and discarded outcast such as you! You are beneath me!"
      "Believe what you will," Ekha brushed off his insult. "Your mistake was not simply in being caught in an ambush. A good ambush can be difficult to detect. Your real mistake was to give the humans enough time to prepare such an ambush. You were too slow in mobilizing your patrol. If you had been quicker to organize, you could have overwhelmed the humans before they had a chance to step out of their cocoons."
      "How could I have possibly assembled the patrol any faster?"
      "Is that meant to be funny?" Ekha hissed sarcastically. "Your response time was horrible! You also conducted your main approached from open terrain, allowing them to see you far ahead of time. You gave up any element of surprise you may have had. As you know, another eight human cocoons fell near the Dawn Storm Group's post. I received word that three of the humans that landed there have already been hunted down and killed. It seems that a more capable patrol leader was able to take a group out quickly enough to intercept those humans before they could set up any ambushes."
      Yzraa clenched his fists, anger emanating in his voice. "Enjoy this humiliation while you can, outcast," he replied menacingly, "for it will not last long. I will lead the effort to smash these humans, and all the others who will surely come."
      "Strong words for one who has never fought in a significant battle," Ekha snorted dismissively. "Unfortunately you will not be leading anything. These human castaways have already proven themselves to be far more formidable warriors than you, and I fear that they may only be the beginning of our problems. While you may regard the grunts and jackals as mere cannon fodder, they are my troops. I will not see you waste anymore of their lives under your incompetent field leadership."
      Ekha unholstered his energy sword emitter, letting the blade flicker to life. It glowed with deadly radiance in the dark chamber, reflecting off his armor. "It is time for me to personally assume direct command in the field."
      He took a moment to gaze upon the bright blade of energy and appreciate its unique beauty before returning his attention to Yzraa.
      "And it is time to show these cunning humans just how helpless they are against a true Elite warrior."