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Rogue Hunter : Encounter
Posted By: OpeningAct<moores@no12tudor.plus.com>
Date: 25 September 2004, 8:59 PM

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Ninth Age of Reclamation Covenant Holy City, "High Charity," Livestock Grounds/ Fourth Luminous Orbit (Translated For Human Readers.)

      It seemed to stretch on for ever, an eerie world of utter silence and bright purple lights - the whole planet glowed like a crystal ball. Jagged skyscrapers cut through the wisps of cloud hovering innocently above, like an eccentric swordsman stabbing his rusty blade through a victim's spongy flesh. The entire city had a very monotonous feel to it, cold and heartless, a product of over-population. The purple "utopia", was the holy city, High Charity, the fundamental pillar of the Covenant empire.

      Kia Kristomee stared blankly out at the endless ocean of serrated towers, clicking his mandibles impatiently, awaiting the scheduled arrival of his customer. The elderly Elite loved the grand city, loved it's majestic look and it's incredible efficiency - it was his home. He resided in a bazaar, where he sold miscellaneous and unique items, items of great value. Due to the rarity of his products, purchase could only ensue at an appointment - most individuals wouldn't be able to afford a single item of his stock anyway. Still, this didn't put a halt to business as appointments were arranged regularly, and when customers came, they came to buy. There was sometimes fierce competition for particular products; occasionally meaning Kristomee received a rather bloated amount of credits, compared to his asking price.

      Unfortunately, a good percentage of his stock had either been acquired illegally or, was in fact illegal. The bazaar had been investigated several times by the authorities, but although Kristomee was old and frail, he was also very crafty. On every occasion he had been inspected, the Elite had replicated what the shop was registered as - a bazaar that sold parts for racing Ghosts. Kristomee would set up the shop filling the shelves with Ghost parts, thrusters, alloy plating or even new plasma engines - he would salvage anything for the authorities to pass his store. The Elite would even bring fake customers in to complete the illusion, and every time so far, it'd worked like a charm.

      Kristomee stared out of the entrance to his store, a gentle drone echoing through the bazaar. The Elite recognised the calming hum as the sound of the skyscraper's gravity chute rising up the structure. Someone was heading up. He swiftly removed his plasma pistol from it's holster and aimed it squarely at the bazaar's entrance - it never hurt to be careful. There was an abrupt halt to the droning noise, as the gravity chute stopped at Kristomee's floor. A dark figure hovered before him.
      "Good evening" the Elite stated.
      "I'm here on behalf of the bounty hunter, Damakalis" the creature announced plainly. This eased Kristomee's mind. Only he knew who was on his appointment list - unless the authorities had bugged the store. But that was just paranoid.
      "Come in" the Elite declared hesitantly. The creature emerged. He was squat, his bright orange armor polished. Assorted collection of items were strapped to a large leather belt, varying from a wrapped up body bag, to a common plasma pistol. Kristomee marvelled at how he could ever have been so haunting. He was only a Grunt.

      "Is it still within your possession?" the Grunt queried anxiously. Kristomee strolled behind his counter and very slyly, he tallied a new sale on his console.
      "And what item would that be, my little friend?" Kristomee questioned, placing his large hands down on the counter.
      "The Twin-Barrelled Plasma Blaster. Hurry up, Damakalis wants this to be a quick transaction" announced the Grunt nervously, turning his head from side to side, ever searching for an invisible assailant.
      "I couldn't agree more. Do you have the fee?" Kristomee asked, staring down at the little creature.
      "Yes. Five-thousand credits" the Grunt proclaimed, brandishing the currency and resting it down on the counter.
      "Very good" Kristomee exclaimed happily, a wry smile spreading across his repulsive face.

      The Twin-Barrelled Plasma Blaster was one of Kristomee's rarest and most expensive products. It was a favorite among both bounty hunters and mercenary's alike, for it's brute power, enough of it to cut an unshielded Elite in half. He was almost sad to see it go as the Grunt exited the bazaar, weapon in hand, leaving Kristomee five-thousand credits richer. Little did the Grunt know, he'd just made an incredible mistake.

      Kristomee watched ecstatically as the small memory globe showed it's holographic contents. It illustrated the grand city of High Charity, demonstrating it's eternal maze of structures. The Elite spotted the skyscraper of which he resided in, highlighted in green, and noticed a small red dot descending slowly down the building. The Grunt, or rather the TB Plasma Blaster. It had worked perfectly.
      "Excellent" he chuckled, "Simply excellent."

Seven Luminous Orbit's Later

Ninth Age Of Reclamation Covenant Holy Command Vessel, "Inner Peace," Hovering In Orbit Above Human Planet, Haven (Translated for Human Readers.)

      Shipmaster Uke Vanamee stood contently at the helm of the Covenant Holy Command Vessel "Inner Peace", in what the crew liked to call the Central Nervous System or CNS. Vanamee was a very smug Elite, an individual that if human, would laugh out loud at his own jokes. Orders and requests flashed frequently onto the many monitors that were placed before him, as the loyal workers that spent almost their entire lives inside the CNS frantically typed away. Vanamee's pearl white armor shone a dull violet, courtesy of purple footlights constantly firing rays of artificial illumination. Only he was honored sufficiently to wear white-colored armor, as he was considered the most important Elite alive and for good reason; he was the Shipmaster of the Prophet's private vessel, the most honorary position for one of his kind.

      Usually the Central Nervous System was a sanctum of peace and solitude, but today it was slightly different. About a hundred of the universes best bounty hunter's and mercenaries stood around Vanamee, their arms tucked calmly behind their backs, not one of them daring to move. There would be no escape if they did.

      Vanamee's eyes scanned through the vulgar crowd, recognising more than a few of them. The Brute Tatarus, the High Prophet of Truth's lapdog, apparently also a part-time bounty hunter. The Birds Of Prey, a deadly mercenary group comprising of a dozen vicious Jackals. Exodin, the universes richest Grunt - evidently he planned to become richer. Some of the best. But not the best.

      "Ika Damakalis" Vanamee's voice boomed over the massive crowd "An individual who has eliminated hundreds of high ranking personnel for both the humans and our own war effort. And possibly the universe's deadliest bounty hunter." The crowds muttered nervously. Floating directly behind Vanamee, a plasma screen sat, portraying a most fearful individual. He was an Elite. He wore dark goggles strapped enigmatically across his eyes, with deep vertical scars running down the rest of his face. A Hellfire jetpack and the long, slender shape of a Covenant Beam rifle were also fastened to his back. A long jacket made of a leather sort of material was worn over a few plates of battle armor. The Elite looked absolutely menacing. He was the Rogue Hunter, Ika Damakalis.

      "For his capture, the holy ones will issue you fifteen million credits. Remember, we want him alive" Vanamee roared. Gasps could be heard echoing throughout the CNS. The bounty was incredibly high, such a hunt came up once in a blue moon. But still, everyone knew it. Whoever managed to capture the legendary Ika Damakalis would deserve every last credit.
      "Find Damakalis!" Vanamee bellowed, his voice resounding through the 'Inner Peace'. As the bounty hunters and mercenaries departed for their respected vessels, Vanamee wondered to himself; how would he go about detaining Ika Damakalis?

      Only five units later, Exodin stood before his large mercenary ship, surrounded by a squad of Brutes guards. He held a small spherical object within his pudgy claws. It had been a bargain at fifty thousand credits. He watched gleefully as the object activated, showing a tiny red dot soaring across a mini universe.
      "He's in a fast moving craft, possibly Seraph-class. Melanois IX system. Let's move" Exodin exclaimed excitedly.

      The Brute, Tatarus, observed Exodin as he flew up his ships gravity lift, a spherical object clutched in his little hands.
      "He's up to something" Tatarus murmured.

      The engines thundered vigorously, a white hot spout of flame bursting from it's tail thrusters. There was a deafening roar and Exodin's mercenary ship blasted out into the tangled tunnels of slipspace.

      Inside, Tatarus stood contently in the armor of one of Exodin's guards. It's former possesser lay still on the deck below the Brute, it's neck mangled grotesquely. The Brute smirked. He was in.

0500 Hours, 3 September, 2553 (Military Calendar) Aboard Frigate Osiris, Currently Stationed in Low-orbit Above Human Colony, Haven.

      Lieutenant Frank Rowley sat sleepily before the monitor of his computer station, perplexed at the muffled audio clips that kept invading his system's speakers. He picked up his mug, full of fresh coffee and took a small sip. Almost immediately he dropped the mug and spat out what he'd already drunk - it was extremely hot and had singed his tongue. Rowley stared grimly down at the shattered mug and sighed. He'd only been awake for ten minutes, having taken a short nap after a prolonged shift last night - the Covenant had begun their siege on the human colony Haven yesterday evening and almost everybody had been working overtime. Apparently these audio clips had been dubbed 'extremely important', important enough for the ship's A.I to awake him. Rowley rubbed his eyes groggily and got back to work, ignoring the ruined mug.

      "....been cornered...they're coming." The audio clips sounded once again, and once again it had cut out at the most important points.
      "Churchill, where are you?" Rowley asked. A small A.I apparition appeared before the young lieutenant, taking the appearance of a bald and portly man.
      "You called sir?" Churchill acquired. Named after the famous prime minister Winston Churchill, the A.I had a certain British charm.
      "Did you catch the clip's source?" Rowley questioned Churchill.
      "Indeed I did, sir" Churchill replied. The A.I recited the source from his memory banks and the lieutenant scribbled it down.

Pvt. Archibald Van Damme
Serial Number : 349-546-814-210-447

      "If you do not further require my assistance, I am needed elsewhere on the ship" Churchill announced.
      "Go" Rowley said, waving a dismissive hand at the A.I. There was a blinding flash and Churchill vanished. The lieutenant typed the private's name and serial number into his system's military database without delay and awaited the results. He didn't have to wait long as the Van Damme's profile appeared upon his monitor.

Age : 23
Born : 12/9/2530
Hometown : Boston, U.S.A
Enlisted : 18/2/2549
Previous Honors : None

History : Part of brief ground confrontation on planet Reach, prior to glassing. Narrowly escaped with serious plasma injuries, to the right leg and chest. Signed into St. Richard's hospital for six months. Recently returned to active duty.

Currently : Stationed at ONI RANCH facility, guarding Admiral Samual Kearth until further notice.

      Rowley stared at the screen in dumbstruck horror. The private was stationed with an admiral! Hurriedly, the lieutenant clicked at a link on the bottom of the profile, that would provide a recent feed from the private's helmet's camcorder. A new window appeared and Rowley gasped. The screen showed no image, only words.

Pvt. Archibald Van Damme, KIA.

      "Oh, shit" the lieutenant breathed.

Ninth Age of Reclamation, Melenois IX System, Seraph Cockpit, Pursued By Mercenary Ship (Translated For Human Readers).

      The Seraph rocked wildly once again, another plasma bolt impacting on the small craft's tail. It was a brutal hit, the sizzling plasma stripping the outer edge of the fighter's thick armor. Inside the ship's cockpit, the Seraph's pilot wrestled with the controls, trying to break out of the spin that the streak of plasma had sent them on. The Rogue Hunter. The Elite achieved success and just in time - a second beam of plasma narrowly missed the escaping craft. Damakalis breathed a sigh of relief. That had been close.

      "Your excellency, bring us around for another pass!" a voice yelled out from behind Damakalis. The Elite recognised the squeaky voice as that of his Grunt companion, Henslig.
      "You will only get one shot Henslig" Damakalis announced over his shoulder.
      "That is alright my liege" the Grunt proclaimed "That is all I will need." The Elite nodded and turned back to the task at hand. Defeating the ominously large ship before they themselves were conquered.

      The Seraph soared back across the void, gunning forward at maximum power, all the while, the two turrets on the port side of the enemy craft continuously churning out plasma at it. The nimble Seraph effortlessly swerved in and out of the stray shots coming at it face on, while flying ever closer to the massive ship. Henslig sat in the small craft's turret, his stubby hands gripped tightly around the reins. He watched intently as the Seraph began it's fast dash across the side of the large ship. Henslig fired. The sickly green blast of plasma soared towards the heavily armored ship, with incredible pace. The shot was perfect. The bolt of plasma collided into one of the ship's plasma turrets, transforming it into a big lump of molten slag. But the Grunt stared in horror at what they'd done. When Damakalis had drawn the Seraph in very close to the ship, trying to give Henslig a good shot, he had also given the enemy's second turret a clean shot. They were never going to miss from that distance.
      "Excellency, divert more power to the shields" he screamed. Damakalis's response was instantaneous, his spindly fingers dancing across the keys. The shields raised to sixty percent and just in time. The Seraph was hit again and again with white hot plasma. Small bolts of electricity flashed across the Seraph. The shields were overloading. Slowly power faded from the small craft and the lights went out. Damakalis stared around in pure horror. They were dead in space.

      Henslig watched as the colossal enemy ship loomed over them, hovering menacingly above.
      "What are they waiting for?" he questioned. Damakalis was sitting comfortably, his arms crossed. He shrugged. Henslig was about to reply when he felt a sudden lurch.
      "Your excellency, what's going on?" the Grunt asked nervously. Damakalis looked up hauntingly.
      "Why my loyal companion, they're reeling us in" he whispered softly.

      A loud whirr resounded throughout the Seraph - they were using the ship's gravity lift to pull them in. Henslig's face remained rather calm, but Damakalis could tell his mind was in a fearful frenzy - he knew well how to hide his emotions. But suddenly the Grunt's eyes lit up.
      "I have a plan" he proclaimed.

      Slowly the Seraph ascended through the holographic chute of anti-gravity, towards the large ship. It floated through into the innards of the enemy craft coming to a halt and sat in the gravity lift's loading bay.

      Exodin sat contently in the control room of his mercenary ship, guarded by a dozen Brutes. He had just been informed that Ika Damakalis's ship had been captured. Another 15,000,000 credits he thought to himself happily.
      "My liege, would you like to observe his capture?" the lead Brute asked.
      "Make it so" he exclaimed joyfully.

      A Brute squad surrounded the Seraph, their weapon's taut at the craft's hatch. They rammed through the entrance and began their search of the interior of the ship. They overturned everything, searched everywhere. But they found nothing.

      Exodin watched as the ugly face of a Brute came up close to the camera and the Grunt watched, intrigued. There was a look of deep regret on the Brute's features and Exodin frowned.
      "They're gone" the Brute stated softly.