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Holy Hunt : Chapter One : Warm Welcome
Posted By: OpeningAct<moores@no12tudor.plus.com>
Date: 9 December 2004, 7:20 PM

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Chapter One : Warm Welcome

Bridge of Covenant Grand Destroyer, Chronic Enforcement
Ninth Age of Reclamation
Near Holy Site, Graveyard

      The system was utterly silent, tranquil and peaceful. A small frost-covered moon sat gloomily, a sensation of mourning looming, small segments of debris and decaying bodies drifting randomly in the zero gravity. Several broken Human reactors floated sluggishly across the void, tiny embers of flame still remaining on the surface from Covenant plasma scorings. One cruiser among them remained active, however. The silvery Covenant ship that was the Chronic Enforcement whirred with life, pushing through the wreckage and leisurely crawling towards the frozen moon, Graveyard.

      The Chronic Enforcement had arrived in-system a single cycle beforehand, causing the alien vessel to be buzzing with life, each crew member hurriedly setting about to their assigned task. The bridge of the cruiser was the best example however, Brutes rushing in all directions. Venerus, High Guardian of the Council, stood atop the bridge's raised section; his shoulders slumped in a relaxed state, pawing over the images received from the ship's probes. His second in command, a considerably smaller Brute by the name of Ocarus, stood next to him, advising the High Guardian on his battle plans.

      "This Human carrier is seemingly their headquarters," Ocarus announced, circling his finger around the colossal ship. "Since it's settled upon a glacier they have a perfect view of the surrounding plains. Any assault on foot would be useless, unless we went out in full force."
      "Which would be far too costly," Venerus breathed, folding his muscular forearms. Ocarus nodded approvingly. The High Guardian paced a few steps, stroking his chin.

      "So you believe an aerial attack is the best option?," the Brute questioned, turning back to his second in command.
      Ocarus shook his head. "I'm afraid its not that simple, High Guardian," he proclaimed. "They've salvaged a load of functional weapons from the surrounding vessels. Any Phantom we send would be immediately shot down."
      "So what do you suggest then, Ocarus? Do you have a plan?," Venerus queried impatiently.
      "Yes I do, High Guardian" Ocarus responded.

      The Brute brought up another probe image. This one displayed a rocky gorge, with what appeared to be a very small Covenant Reconnaissance ship.
      "This ship constantly leaves the carrier to scout the Graveyard for anything of use. If we could seize this vessel we'd have a free passage to the Heretic filth," he said conclusively.

      "It seems simple enough. Is there a catch?," Venerus asked.
      "The valley is being safeguarded by a pair of deadly mortar tanks. I recommend that a stealthy assault be initiated if we are to quell this heresy without incident," Ocarus stated. Stealth wasn't a word either of the Brutes liked to use that often.

      "Then it shall be done. Find me a decent landing zone and then relay it to my drop squads. We leave within the cycle," the High Guardian declared stomping down the raised section. Venerus was by the door when he turned to face his second in command.
      "You are at the helm of the Chronic Enforcement until my return, Ocarus. Don't fail me," he ordered. And with that the High Guardian of the Council was gone.

Ruins of Covenant Destroyer, Fist of Vengeance
Ninth Age of Reclamation
Holy Moon, Graveyard

      The remote horizon was tinted with a breathtaking glow of orange, as the system's star began to sink below the distant glaciers. The rocky plains of crisp, white snow were littered with the decade old wreckage of long abandoned cruisers, their immense hulls spread out over the ice-laden moon. The shrill winds seemed to whisper thousands of buried secrets, long lost under the layers of frost.

      The bitter cold bit at Iva 'Yvettemee as he plodded through the freezing ruins of the Fist of Vengeance. Snowflakes had filtered through the cracks in the broken hull causing the entire ship to be lined with the frozen substance. The rookie Elite cringed as the ice crunched underneath his hooves - the sound sent a shiver down his spine.

      Ahead a gold-armored Elite by the name of Juk 'Fenamee stood, recording their findings within the cruiser on a small device, which he held within the palm of his hand. 'Yvettemee broke into a jog, approaching his superior.
      "Field master!," he called out over the whirring wind. 'Fenamee looked up from the device and gazed onward curiously.
      "What is it 'Yvettemee?," the field master asked coldly and in a seemingly irritated manner.

      "There has been an accident on the upper decking. A falling support beam has crushed one of my superior officers," the rookie exclaimed.
      "It is a loss but it does not affect our overall task. What is your point?," 'Fenamee queried, absent-mindedly returning to his work. 'Yvettemee was slightly concerned at the field master's lack of grief but his features didn't show it.
      "Many are requesting that we leave the Fist of Vengeance as it is becoming a hazard to all of our lives. They are asking that the ship be reinforced if they are to continue their work or the possibility of a revolt will arise," the Elite declared, the orders of his superiors resounding in his head.

      For the second time, 'Fenamee lowered his device, turning to the rookie.
      "A revolt," he spat. "Surely that is a little overzealous? I admit this place is falling apart but we cannot allow a single fatality to halt our work. I have my orders and so do they. Let us keep them."
      "Is that what you want me to tell them?," 'Yvettemee questioned.
      "Yes. Until that plasma turret is secured no one is leaving," 'Fenamee growled defiantly, returning to his work. 'Yvettemee stayed where he was - he hadn't expected such an answer. He wasn't sure he wanted to be the bearer of bad news now.

      "Well, what are you waiting for?," 'Fenamee roared. The awkward moment was interrupted by a shout from an Elite.
      "Field master! I've got something!," the voice bellowed. 'Fenamee turned to the source of the sound.
      "What now?," he grumbled. Slowly he trod outside the ruins, closely followed by the rookie 'Yvettemee.

      The fierce winds of the blizzard hit 'Yvettemee like a train as he stepped outside. Incredibly, it was even colder out on the plains. The pair stumbled towards the Elite who stood over what looked to be a transmitter. The rookie felt sorry for his kin - he had probably been out here all day.
      "I just picked up headquarters. Apparently they're hearing echoespossibly
from an interstellar craft. They advised us to be on alert," the freezing creature stated.
      A series of tremendous thumps followed the statement.

      'Fenamee looked up into the darkening sky and drew his plasma sword. 'Yvettemee shared the sight - a lone cruiser floating in low orbit.
      "So the ancient hierarchs have finally drawn their blade" he announced over the roaring wind. Alert the troops and activate the beacon. The Jiralhanae are here" he declared coldly.

      Venerus stood calmly within the confined drop pod as one of his brethren slammed
the hatch shut. Once again he cursed the size of the equipment. They had been built for
Elites, not Brutes and especially not one of the High Guardian's size. He suddenly realised he'd yet
to pay his respects to his troops. They were about to give their lives - the best he could
do was give them his gratitude. He keyed his communications channel on the dial in front of him.

      "For those of you about to fight for the fulfilment of our Covenant, I honor the
blood of your families. Let your name be known through the ages - none shall be forgotten
," he cried. "For the journey!" A deafening roar went up over the comm. channel and Venerus grinned. It was time to kill.
      "Ocarus, begin the launch sequence" he commanded.
      "Yes, High Guardian" Ocarus replied roughly.

      The pods dropped one by one, accelerating towards the moon's surface. Searing heat began to bubble around Venerus's drop pod as he entered the atmosphere. It didn't bother him however - very soon the temperature would be drastically different.

      'Fenamee watched as the first of the pods burst through the thin wisps of cloud above, shooting wildly towards the surface. They glowed with the red hot heat of the rapid entry, firing through the frosty air. The trio of pods ploughed into the snow, the sudden change in temperature causing them to give off steam. The hatches popped open and the three Brutes leapt out of the cylinders. The lone Elite warrior stood before them, snarling.
      "You Jiralhanae should never have set foot on this holy site. None of your kind shall survive my wrath!" he bellowed.

      The field master executed a vertical swipe at the closest ape, the searing blade sizzling through the thick fur and ragged skin. Blood exploded from the wound and the Brute cried out in pain falling to the floor, attempting to scramble his guts back inside his body. The other two, though slightly shaken by their comrade's demise, opened fire with their Brute plasma rifles.

      'Fenamee hit the deck, lying face down in the snow as the beams of plasma twin-lanced above him, directly where his head had previously been. With a swivel kick he took another Brute down to the floor, before grabbing the ape by the scruff of his neck and forcing his plasma blade through the creatures spine and out through its stomach. Using the Brute as a shield, he scooped up a fallen plasma rifle and fired at the only remaining enemy. A series of consecutive shots later to the ape's face and the trio were dead. Beads of sweat ran down the Elite's face but he knew only too well that there was no time to rest.

      Two more pods crashed into the frost, pile driving forward. The Brutes emerged from the canisters and immediately charged at the field master. 'Fenamee fought them back with a horizontal swipe which narrowly missed both of the apes. The first, the proud owner of a Brute shot, lashed out at the Elite with the butt of the heavy weapon. The Field
master leapt over the rusty blade before dispersing of the Brute with a blow to its neck, cutting its head clean off. He looked up to find the second had disappeared, only to discover the ape was right behind him as a muscular forearm wrapped around his throat.

      "Heretic scum," he breathed. "You shall pay for the blood you have spilled!". Slowly, 'Fenamee felt the Brute increase the pressure around his neck, and gagged as his lungs began to tighten. The strength of the ape was phenomenal - his eyes felt like they were about to pop out of their sockets. But as the Elite's lifeforce began to fade, he heard voices and the unmistakable whirr of a Covenant carbine. Moments later, 'Fenamee felt the Brute's grip loosen, the ape collapsing in a bloody lump. He too fell to the floor, rolling onto his back.

      "Field master!," a voice called out. 'Fenamee opened his blurry eyes, to see Iva 'Yvettemee offering his hand, carbine smoking. The field master looked up to see he had gathered three other Elites, also wielding plasma swords.
      "You do not know how timely your intrusion was 'Yvettemee," 'Fenamee announced gratefully. "I thank you."
      "Field master," one of the other Elites cried. "More drop pods inbound!" 'Fenamee looked up, a grim look upon his face. There had to be fifteen at least. He climbed to his feet and faced his kin.
      "Let us rally the troops and fall back to the beacon. We'll hold them off there" the field master commanded. The other Elites nodded and sprinted back to the Fist of Vengeance. 'Fenamee took one last look at the approaching Brutes before doing the same.

      Venerus hardly felt the tremendous thump as his pod collided with the icy ground, but he did feel the tremendous cold, however as the hatch blasted open. The freezing blizzard was a startling change in temperature from the scorching interior of the drop pod, the sweat on his forehead immediately disappearing. He wondered how the Forerunner ever had inhabited such a location.

      Venerus watched as the scattered drop pods impacted against the ground all around him, his brethren beginning to amass. One by one they gathered round him.
      "Let us drive onward through this Heretic encampment. Hunt them down and slaughter each and every last member of their number," Venerus yelled over the storm.
      "But do not underestimate their warriors. Together they have already eliminated five of our kin" he acknowledged the dead Brutes.
      "Let us move! Nothing shall stand in our way. Let our hands be bathed in blood by nightfall!" Venerus roared. The Brutes let out a quaking holler of approval. The High Guardian loaded a fresh battery into his carbine. He growled.
"To the Hunt."