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Fan Fiction


LORC: Beginnings Act 1 Pt 8 and 9
Posted By: HWPD<Disaster.nick@gmail.com>
Date: 27 February 2016, 6:19 am


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Part 8
REACH


Twenty-Fourth Solar Cycle, 145 Cycles: 9th Age of Reclamation [August 22, 2552: 1459]
Covenant DDS-Class Carrier Leveling Strength: Fleet of Particular Justice
SpecOps Major Ryau 'Cinotee



Ryau awoke to a loud banging on the door to the shared crew cabin. He opened his eyes and looked through his open door, across the hall and to Naki's closed door. He slid out of bed and shuffled over to the main door and keyed it open. D`rok stood outside, armored up and ready to go.

"What is it, D`rok?" Ryau asked, waking up.

"It is time to don your armor and get your arms from the armory. Do this quickly please." D`rok said.

"Understood..." Ryau said, he turned back into his small room and began to pull the bodysuit and armor pieces over himself.

Ryau pulled his chest plate into position and knocked onto Naki's door. "Naki, are you awake?"

"Yes, just suiting up." She said from the other side. "Go get the weapons for me, I should be ready when you get back."

"Be right back." Ryau headed out the door and hurried through the other warriors towards the armory. The inside was almost overflowing with warriors from this deck claiming weapons from the Weapons Masters. Ryau waited for his turn in line and walked up to the glass between him and the Weapons Master. "I need to pick up the kits for Science Major Cimutee and SpecOps Major Cinotee." Ryau said.

"Place your hand on the pad, Major." The Weapons Master said. He waved to his assistant who went along the racks of weapons with a data-pad. Ryau placed his hand on the pad and once again the pinch sampled his tissue. "If SpecOps Science Major 'Cimutee comes looking for her kit, you will be detained." Ryau nodded and the Weapons Master's assistant returned with two cases.

The cases were slid through the opening in the glass and into Ryau's possession. He quickly hurried past the ever lengthening line of warriors waiting to retrieve arms and hurried into the cabin. Naki had her door open and had just finished strapping together a set of Heavy Ranger armor. Its orange color reminded Ryau of something, but he just couldn't place his finger on it. 

"They chose the worst time to take my armor in for routine upgrades." Naki said in a huff. "Did you get my kit?"

"Yeah, I got it." Ryau handed her case over to her. 

She took the case and opened it up. Naki pulled out a Plasma Repeater and a Needler and placed them on her back and thigh. She leaned back and rolled her shoulders. "By the Forerunners, this harness is much heavier than what I am used to." 

"Well it also looks like it'll provide more protection than your usual armor." Ryau said. 

Naki nodded. "True. It's just a full face mask, not what I am use to, but I do see the purpose." 

Ryau pulled his own weapons, a Needle rifle and a Plasma rifle, out of his case. Ryau recognized the scratches on the weapon as the same ones that were on the gun he had practiced with D`rok with. "I guess this is mine, now." Ryau mumbled to himself. He attached the weapons to their holsters and the two headed to the hangar where D`rok was waiting. 

They took the gravity conveyor to cut past the crowds that were also going to their stations. "How are you liking this transportation system?" Naki asked. 

"It's quick, some human ships have a tram/elevator system, but only the large ships. Something this size is just below the usual." Ryau said. 

"You have been aboard one of the Vermin's ships?" a curious Minor asked from behind. 

Ryau rotated in the passage to face the Minor behind him. "Yes, yes I have." 

"I heard that the Humans self destruct if any of our warriors board." The Minor said. "Is that true?" 

"Well, not when they are in close proximity to their fellow ships." Ryau said. "They are under orders to purge their navigation databases and detonate their reactors if they are about to be overrun." 

"I see, I am Minor 'Kisolee, assigned to one of the boarding craft legions. It is a pleasure to meet one who has been aboard one before." 

"I'm SpecOps Major 'Cinotee, I take it you haven't been on board one before?" Ryau asked, deciding that maybe having some conversation would help him adjust into this new life of his. 

The Minor shook his head. "No, I have not. This is my first tour of duty with the boarding legion." 

They neared their destination and began to slow. "Well good luck, Minor. Stay safe," Ryau nodded. Ryau and Naki were pulled off the main line and towards their exit. 

After the Minor had passed, Naki turned around as well. "You're getting good at keeping your cover, having a conversation without stopping to think? You just might not need Zeik after all." Naki laughed.  

The gravity conveyor deposited them into the hallway that connected to the hangar. The other members of D`rok's lace were waiting among the waiting Phantoms

"Ryau, Naki." D`rok acknowledged them.  

Ryau and Naki both nodded and stood over by a pile of weapons crates. 

"Just out of curiosity, have you ever dropped?" D`rok asked. 

"If you're talking about from orbit, then yes. Though it has been awhile and I've been assigned to Naki's detail for the last few solar cycles." 

"Why were you assigned to her?" D`rok asked. 

Ryau was a bit confused, he thought that he and D`rok had already had this conversation. "I was one of her assistants and guards." he said. "It has been a non-combat position for the last few solar cycles."

"Hmm." D`rok paused. "As of now, we are going down with the second wave. The first has already left and is beginning the siege. The target is the heavily populated Human city, New Alexandria. I will be informed of our main objective at the officers briefing and I will fill you in as soon as I am out. Any questions? No? Good. I want you all on your Phantom in five units." 

D`rok turned and left for the meeting that was taking place off the hangar deck. K`an looked over at Sig, Ryau, and Naki. "Alright young and lively, hop aboard!" he ordered. Ryau and Sig headed for the Phantom's lift. "And miss…" K`an chuckled at Naki as she followed behind. 

They were pulled up into the Phantom's belly by the gravity lift. Ryau walked over to one of the harnesses on the wall to keep them steady during a rough descent. The Unggoy and Kig 'Yar had to stand in the center. He strapped in and secured his weapons in the receptacle. Naki hooked in across from Ryau and sealed her helmet. A puff of condensed air blew out of the filters and seals. 

They all sat in their spots for a bit, until the Phantom began to power up. It lifted off from its cradle and started for the hangar door. "Aren't we waiting for D`rok?" Ryau asked. He had not seen him come aboard while they waited. 

"No, he is going to be taking another transport down. I get the joy of leading you," K`an sighed. "The second wave has been ordered to launch early." 

"This'll be fun…" Ryau thought. "Understood." His first actual deployment against his fellow humans, and it would be lead by someone he didn't know anything about. At Least D`rok seemed to be reasonable. He also was worried about the planet they were descending onto. He had known where they were the moment D`rok had mentioned New Alexandria, it was one of the largest cities on Reach, the home of most of the main UNSC military complex and where he had spent all his time training. 

The memories of Halo were still coming back to him, but he remembered how it ended. Reach would fall, but not all would be lost. 

The Phantom shook and rattled as it dropped into the planet's atmosphere. It was more rough than the shuttle ride down to Sanghelios, being a combat drop. Through the Phantom's holographic tactical monitors projected on the side hatches, they could tell that they were in a large formation. A few other contacts appeared out of the Carrier and followed the landing wave. 

D`rok came over the squad radio, apparently in that small group that left late. "Listen, Provocation. As I said earlier, you are heading down towards the Human city of New Alexandria. I will be landing right behind you and with further brei-" The private channel closed suddenly and one of the icons on the tactical monitor winked off.  

After a few moments of silence, K`an unhooked his harness and checked their location on the monitor. Before he strapped back in, he reassured the others on board the Phantom. Turbulence hit the transport, probably UNSC anti-air batteries. K`an was back in his harness in a moment. "Provocation! We are close to our destination. When we touch ground, I will be your lead until 'Tallaham arrives. Understood?" he asked. 

"Understood." Ryau replied, almost in sync with Sig. 

Once again, the only sound was the whine of the engines and rumble of explosions. The Phantom dropped rapidly then steadied out. K`an unstrapped himself and walked in front of the others. "We have received orders to give aid to a downed Phantom on a rooftop towards the city center. Unharness yourselves and prepare for combat." K`an said. 

Ryau unstrapped himself and retrieved his Needle Rifle. He grabbed hold of his harness as the Phantom banked sharply around a building. The side hatches dropped down and they got their first visual of the crash site. The crashed transport had been split in two by the crash. Ryau was surprised that anything managed to survive it, but a small group of survivors were hunkered down behind one of the pieces of debris. UNSC ODSTs were up on a ledge above the crash site, shooting downwards. 

"Provocation, be ready! We are dealing with Orbital Troopers." Kan shouted. 

The Phantom turned behind the billowing smoke and slowed rapidly, its belly thrusters flaring as it's nose rose into the air. It leveled out and K`an and Sig jumped down out of the hatch, hopping down to the rooftop. Ryau followed close behind and hit the ground nearly four meters down. Behind him, Naki jumped out and slowed her descent with bursts from her jump pack. 

Ryau rolled into cover behind a food kiosk as the ODSTs noticed the new arrivals. Naki slid in right behind him. A few bullets struck the side of the small structure and Ryau returned fire, purposefully shooting at the railing instead of the Humans. 

"Female!" K`an barked. "Go to the survivors and provide medical aid if it is needed. Ryau, you will follow Sig and I."

"Alright Naki, I'll cover you." Ryau popped out of his cover and, once again, aimed for the railing. Naki nodded and ran for the forces taking cover in the wreck. She fired her Plasma repeater from her hip and dove into cover with the others. 

Ryau moved forward and joined K`an at the base of the stairs. They moved up the stair, Ryau covering the rear. The stairs led up to a pedway that flanked the Humans' defensive position. The ODSTs had fortified their position with metal barricades and sand bags. It appeared more likely that the Phantom had crashed near their position instead of the crash happening first.

K`an signaled Sig and he opened fire with his Plasma rifle. He was able to hit two of the troopers that were more exposed. There was a high pitched whine as K`an activated a Plasma grenade and tossed it over the barricade. The grenade detonated and part of the barricade glowed bright red and sagged down into a pool of molten metal. K`an stood up on the railing and fired into the Humans' position. 

K`an vented his weapon after the screaming stopped. He turned back around and and stepped off the railing. They headed back down to the crash site, where Naki was pulling a Kig 'Yar from the main part of the Phantom. "Who is unscathed? Say aye." K`an ordered. 

Three Sangheili spoke up. Two Minors and a Major that just seemed to stand in the way of Naki tending to the wounded. The two Minors were Rtik 'Renamee and Vera 'Takalee, the latter of which had a helmet seemed to be dented inward a bit too far. The Major identified himself as Sremm 'Vakrelee, Major of the Covenant. 

"Alright," K`an said. "Naki can you handle this until another Phantom arrives?" 

"Yes, I can." Naki replied, pulling another Kig 'Yar from the wreckage. 

"Okay, stay here. I am taking Provocation and the two minors to the next lower floor to check for Human soldiers." K`an said. 

As they began to move towards the stairs, Sremm protested. "You will not leave me here with this...this woman." 

Ryau glanced over at Naki, her helmet moved as if she was rolling her eyes behind the opaque visor. K`an sighed and and let the Major join them
They headed back up the stairs to where the ODSTs had been eliminated. They found that the Humans were guarding a narrow stairwell. The small team followed it down into a large maintenance area filled with piped and ventilation ducts. The room was clear and Ryau followed the others through the maze to a door on the other side. 

Sig and K`an cleared each side of the door. "We have two elevators at the end of the hall. This is just a maintenance area." K`an said. 

Ryau quickly hurried through the corridor. The only living thing was a small potted plant on a shelf by a mop bucket. K`an called the elevator and the doors dinged open only a few moments later. For some undecidable reason, K`an ordered everyone but Ryau and Sremm into his elevator car, leaving Ryau with the somewhat annoying Major in their own. Almost as soon as they stepped aboard, the doors closed and they began their descent down the buildings side. 

The glass elevator cars left the darkened maintenance passageway and into the main section of the lift. Ryau could see the heavily damaged city. He glanced over at the other elevator car to see the Minor, Vera, licking the glass. "What the fuck........." Ryau muttered.

When he looked back out to the city, two Falcons were hunting down Banshee. The Banshee sped around the side of the building, in an attempt to double back and counter attack. Unfortunately, with six guns between the two Falcons, the Banshee flew into a wall of fire. The left wing of the destroyed Banshee was ripped apart and what remained of the craft flew into the maintenance level of the building. The small potted plant was no more.

The elevators shook and dropped. But the emergency brakes caught quickly, knocking everyone to the ground. No longer attached to the building, the elevator tubes began to lean away from the building's exterior wall. The doors dinged open, following emergency procedures. Miraculously they had stopped in a position that they could make it through into the building.

Ryau scrambled for the opening, but it was too late. The tube pulled away from the building and the elevators brakes failed. They plummeted down the side of the building. Ryau got caught on the railing along the side as Sremm went into the ceiling. Passing through the dense fog, Ryau began to panic. The elevator was not slowing down and no one would survive an impact at that speed. He reached down to the controls and flipped open the emergency access panel. Elevators that traverse these heights were required to have secondary emergency brakes that could be activated manually. He and his Spartans had used that and encountered their use while dealing with Insurrectionists before the Human-Covenant war began.

He grabbed the lever and pulled it down. The hydraulic brakes engaged and the lift began to slow. With the elevator no longer traveling at terminal velocity,  Sremm fell off the ceiling and smacked into the floor. Ryau glanced over to the other elevator car to catch only a flash of K`an standing on the top of his car. There was a crash below and Ryau's car came to a stop at street level. 

Ryau stepped out of the elevator car, Sremm was right behind him, cursing faulty Human engineering. K`an and the other Minor, Rtik were safely on the ground, but Vera was nowhere to be seen. K`an hurried past, towards the smashed car that had fallen from the other lift tube. He tried to move it off of the pool of indigo that began to spread across the debris. 

"Aid me brother!" K`an called. Ryau moved over to help, but he knew that there was a small chance that the Minor had survived the fall. The amount of blood loss was not a good sign either. With the help of Sig and Ryau, they were able to get the debris off of Vera and over to the side.

The Minor's body had been torn up from the glass and impact. Ryau sighed, there was no way that he would survive that. "A death is a death, Human or Covenant." Ryau thought. 

Everyone took a step back as Vera took a shallow breath, now that the weight was lifted off what was left of his chest. "I'll be-… I'll be alright?" The young Minor whispered. "Will I, sir?"

"Yes… yes, you will be fine," K`an said softly. 

Ryau walked off, not wanting to stay around and listen. The other Minor, Rtik, quickly moved to a light post and threw up. There was something strange about him, some sort of energy that felt… familiar. A single shot from a needle rifle echoed through the debris and brought him out of thought. Ryau glanced back towards K`an and the late Vera 'Takalee. After a small altercation with Sremm about wasting time giving Vera a moment peace, K`an moved over to a cluster of Trees. 

"Is anyone else hurt?" He asked. 

"Negative" Ryau answered, walking off to make sure the area was secure. He walked around the deserted plaza, and looked at the street. It was cluttered with abandoned cars and trucks, most were still idling. Other than K`an and Sremm arguing, the area was quiet. He was about to break into a World Cuisine kiosk and make himself something to eat, when a map of the area appeared on his ACI and the others began to come down the stairwell. 

Ryau stepped away from the kiosk and seamlessly rejoined the group. They hurried west, down the street. The mismatched group of Sangheili made it down several blocks before K`an brought them to a halt beside a Police truck. Its lights silently flashed, illuminating the dim area in red and blue. Ryau stopped and slid into position behind Sig and K`an to cover their rear. 

Suddenly Rtik's Beam rifle fell to the roadway, the three behind the truck quickly shifted their view to see that Sremm had shoved Rtik from cover to claim the spot as his own. 

"Check yourself, Sremm." K`an scolded. "We work as a team, not as individuals." 

Ryau had to move over so that Rtik could fit in behind him. Sig moved back "K`an wants us to see what is inside the vehicle," Sig said. 

"Alright," Ryau said. The truck was a police ordinance transport, so Ryau had a pretty good guess of what was inside. Sig activated his wrist blade and cut through the locking mechanism, allowing the doors to swing open with ease. Inside was an array of Human weaponry. Suddenly there was a loud crack of a SRS99 Anti-Materiel rifle. Sremm's shields flared bright blue and broke as the bullet glanced off his chest.  

"Get down before your head is taken off!" K`an yelled. 

Ryau watched Sremm dove behind another emergency vehicle through the small windows on the side of the truck. Sig left the back of the truck to go report to K`an. Ryau looked around, the only other person in the vehicle was Rtik, and he wasn't looking over. He took that moment to search through one of the crates for some kind of communications device. he could at least alert the UNSC to his existence, that he had not perished on Standard. Unfortunately he heard Sig and K`an approaching. He dropped the lid of the crate and went back to looking out the window.

Sig showed up alone and sent Rtik to stand guard with K`an. "We need to inventory the weaponry." He said. 

Ryau nodded and Sig went over to one of the weapon crates. He struggled with the tamper proof locking mechanism. Ryau knew how to open it, since it was a standard issue supply crate. "Here, open those two latches, then press the center button inwards." 

Sig tried it that way and the box clicked open to reveal about six MA5s, blue and silver police colors. The next case held some heavier weapons, M319-D6 SAW. It was a light machine gun based off the MA5 platform. 

"What we got?" K`an asked loudly from the back of the truck. 

"I have unlocked several of the weaponry from their bindings.  We have explosives and we have a long range rifle on the bench there." Sig said. 

K`an picked the Sniper rifle off the bench. "We need to use this weaponry as there is a supply here. Waste nothing that we cannot afford to lose.  Sig, hand me one of the light machine guns and you two pick your choosing." He said. 

Ryau was confused as Sig handed K`an the SAW and took an MA5 for himself. Sig looked over to Ryau to answer for his hesitation. "I thought that using Human weapons was ...forbidden?" Ryau said. 

"First off, it is your decision. In history when we fought all who opposed and as a proud race, we treated the oppositions wielding with the utmost respect, as if they were a fine art or craft." K`an answered. "That demographic was set by the ignorant. I say that if it is your life in your hands, you use what you find and comfort with." He paused as he pulled the bolt of the rifle back loudly, "no offense to our engineering or the forerunners, but our beam rifles are crap to the human long rifles..."

"Hmph. alright then." Ryau said, picking an Assault rifle from the crate. 

"Any thoughts on such a topic?" K`an leaned forward and turned his head to show that he was listening. "No? I didn't think so." He pulled his head back and turned back towards the door of the truck. "They brainwash you for so long, it's hard to see the light. Now... let's get to work gentlemen." 

"My battery is dead, sir!" Rtik shouted from outside.

K`an looked back at Sig and Ryau. "You two are to go that way and fire at the group of Humans," K`an pointed towards the middle of the road, the direction the rear of the truck was facing. "Distract them and I will take care of the sniper and that gunner. Now go!"

Ryau looked over at Sig and he nodded. Taking up the rear, Ryau and Sig dropped down to the roadway and ran along the road. Two Warthogs had shown up, either alerted by the sniper or the gunfire. Ryau pulled the trigger of the MA5, the bullets spraying wildly. He aimed for the spaces between the Army troopers causing them to drop to the ground without actually hitting any of them. 

The gunner on the Warthog turned the turret to them and opened fire. Ryau and Sig dropped behind a car as bullets peppered their shields. The glass shattered and Ryau blindly fired through the vehicles cab. There was another crack from a rifle and the fire from the Warthogs turret ceased. Ryau popped his head over to see the gunner fall back, his arm falling into the empty driver area and landing on the accelerator. The warthog sped off into a convenience store on the corner.  

A second crack came from K`an and the bullet slipped into the rubble of the building the Troopers were covering. Ryau assumed K`an had just taken down the enemy Sniper. The Humans began to retreat into the building and the gunfire ceased. However, Ryau recognized a new rumble that began to rise. Behind another building, a Scorpion tank crashed through the small cars that blocked its path. 

"Armor!" Sig shouted loudly. "Ryau lets go, on the left, back down the street."

Ryau and Sig sprinted down the street perpendicular to the road the tank was traveling down. The Scorpion fired and the round slammed into the building above the police truck. The others in the group soon joined up as the tank rumbled down the street behind them. 

"Do not stop until I say!" K`an yelled as he ran ahead of them.

They continued down the street and around a corner. When they made it around K`an quickly turned around and lined up a shot. The shot was obviously blessed, the bullet found a fault in the armor and passed through the canopy into the pilots head. With its pilot dead, the tank plowed through a department store on the side of the road. Enough critical supports must have been damaged and the entire front of the building crumbled into the street. The cloud of gray dust burst out and filled the street. 

"Nice shot, sir!" Sig called from beside Ryau. 

"Let us not dwell on the past, please," K`an replied. "Let us get moving."

Sremm sat down on a planter box. "No, let us take five, we just outran a Tank!" He complained.

"No," K`an rolled his eyes. "We must keep moving."

"I am not moving!"

"I will only say this once, Sremm, do not forget who is the elder and who is the youth. Who is the shepherd, and who is his flock." K`an growled at Sremm.

"You know not of what you speak of, you crazed senile."

"Child!  I will beat you like the woman you act like. I will break you to the effect that your ancestry shall feel" K`an shouted.

Ryau thought that it was going to go further but K`an stopped and placed his finger to his ear. Listening to something over the COMMs. K`an looked around at the group. "Sremm gets his wish… rest for five" K`an said and walked into an alleyway to get away from them.

After a while Ryau watched Sig approach K`an in the alley. He couldn't hear everything, but the next thing K`an said was louder than the rest. "Tallaham is KIA… his Phantom... was shot down."

Ryau stopped twiddling his thumbs. He hadn't known D`rok for long, but he seemed like someone that Ryau could trust and follow without worry. No offense to K`an but it didn't seem like the same could be said for him.  

"I'm glad he's gone!"  Sremm said. "I never have to see his rotten old face again. I'll finally be promoted."


"What did you just say?"  K`an growled and gave Sremm a stare that made Ryau back away from the Major.


"The commander and I didn't exactly get along." Sremm answered smartly.

"I think I know why," K`an said.

"What are you implying, Major?" Sremm seemed offended.

"You have a big mouth!"

"What I have, Major, is a reluctance to follow orders from someone clearly beneath me!"

"Are you saying that you run this outfit, child!?" K`an yelled, standing now.

"I'm saying that I refuse to follow an old man lost in the past!" Sremm retorted.

"Both of you shut up!" Rtik yelled, clearly agitated by the uproar. Ryau stepped back and away from the loud altercation.

"Oh shut up, idiot.  You were never useful in this entire situation!" Sremm yelled back.

"Maybe I could have helped if you'd moved the 600 unit alloy beam off of me!" Rtik shouted.

"It matters not, you can't shoot!" Sremm said. 

"I'm only a bad shot when you stand in front of my weapon insisting you can hit the soldier on the machine gun from there. I've hit smaller targets from at least fifty times as far and you know it!" Rtik yelled.

"As a higher ranking officer, I am entitled to do whatever I wish with my squad. You have no jurisdiction here." Sremm gave a hard shove to Rtik, pushing him away like nothing.  Sremm pointed a finger at Rtik. "You will face charges of insubordination should you make it out of this alive, I assure you. And you," Sremm looked at K`an. "I owe nothing to you or your idiotic woman that you consider a friend!"

At that moment, Ryau saw K`an snap. He dove into Sremm, taking them both to the ground. K`an repeatedly slammed his fist into Sremm's face. Sremm only able to block some of the blows. Ryau watched the two struggle and fight until a round from a sniper rifle whizzed through the air and stuck the ground not far from his head. 

"Sniper!" Ryau alerted Sig. He caught a glimpse of the barrel sticking out of a buildings window. "Third floor, second window from the corner." Ryau dropped the Assault rifle and pulled his Needle rifle from his back. He and Sig moved to cover and returned fire at the sniper while their commanding officers fought in the background. 

The sound of the fight slowly ceased and was followed by a dull thump somewhere below. Ryau and Sig stopped firing when the sniper rifle clattered to the ground below the window. He turned around to see that they were the only ones on the elevated courtyard. 

"Where did they go?" Ryau asked. 

"They went over the edge." Rtik answered. 

Sig hurried over to the railing and looked down. "Sir, are you alright?"

"Yes, I am fine." K`an called from below. "How are you two holding up?" 

Ryau glanced over and looked down, K`an was standing over what appeared to be an unconscious Sremm. "Fairly well, sir." He answered. 

"Same here, sir." Sig noted. 

"Good…" K`an grumbled. He left Sremm on the ground and hurried up a set of stairs to rejoin the group. "Youth." K`an addressed Ryau. Ryau grumbled and his eye twitched. "How much ammunition do you have left?" 

Ryau checked his ammunition cases along his waist. Not much but if they were using Human guns, they would be able to resupply off the bodies. "Two cartridges for my Needle rifle and three magazines for the human rifle." Ryau said. 

"Good, keep that Human weapon close. As I said before, we may need all we can carry." K`an said, and retrieved his weapons from the ground. "Are you ready to continue on?" 

Ryau nodded. "Of course." The sooner they got out of there, the better. 

K`an glanced up towards the sky and tried to contact someone in command. But judging by the lack of a follow up, Ryau assumed that whatever window that had allowed connection earlier had passed. 

"Alright," K`an looked down at Ryau, Sig and Rtik. "One of you three needs to get to the top of one of these buildings that goes through the fog." 

"Do we not have a visual system that we can use to see which building penetrates the fog layer?" Ryau asked. 

"Negative, sorry." Sig said. 

"Maybe the Humans has some sort of device in one of the lockers?" Ryau had definitely seen one back in the truck. 

"They might… but where to find them." K`an gestured around like he thought Ryau meant in the middle of the road. 

"Sir," Sig said. "If we sent someone to the top of that building, they could act as a midpoint to command on the Battlenet!" He pointed his finger to a nearby apartment complex.

"Very good, Sig. Always good to have a Tech on the ground." K`an said. Ryau rolled his eyes, since that seemed like the very plan that K`an was going to suggest a moment earlier. "Who volunteers?" 

No one spoke up, not wanting to leave the group and go up alone. Ryau glanced around and spotted a tree nearby. "We draw sticks? Shortest has to go up." He suggested. 

Sig tilted his head. "Do we have sticks?" 

Ryau walked over to the tree and plucked a branch off, snapped them into various sizes and brought them over to the group. "Now we do." 

"Let me see those, Cinotee." K`an held his hand out. Ryau passed them over and K`an shuffled them up. "Go ahead, youths." 

Ryau and Sig drew sticks of similar size, while the Minor pulled a small twig from K`an hand. Rtik grumbled and started towards the door to the apartment building. They made their way to the door and covered the lobby as Rtik headed for the stair case. 

"Tell me when you have reached the top. Minor. " K`an ordered. 

"Got it." Rtik called out, letting the door close behind him. Ryau sat behind the cover of the building's front desk and waited with K`an and Sig. First, five minutes passed, then ten. 

Ryau glanced around the untouched lobby. An advertisement for the 2552 Reach Galactic Cup hung on the wall. Being bored, Ryau thought of something to talk about. "Their civilians think they're winning the war." He said. 

"Oh?" Sig said, "that is good!" 

"Really?" Ryau tilted his head. "You think so?" The conversation had already steered in a different direction than had had expected. 

"Yes… If the civilians don't think they have a chance, then they wouldn't support the military." Sig said. "No military support means that it would be no contest. It is just the right thing to do… Don't you think?" 

"It would make our jobs a hell of a lot easier," K`an spoke up. 

"Yes, but if the civilian population doesn't know how they are doing in a fight for their survival, how do they expect to hold out?" Ryau put forward. 

"...That is the game that must be gambled." Sig said.

Finally, Rtik came over the radio. "I'm here!" He panted into his mic, probably having run the entire stairwell. 

Without responding, K`an set up the relay and called Command. After a few moments, a waypoint for extraction appeared on their ACI, seven kilometers away. 

"Alright Rtik, return when possible, good work." K`an said. 

Ryau happened to glance over the desk and out the doors. A Warthog had managed to get through the road debris and was targeting the group of Sangheili in the lobby. Ryau leapt to his feet. "K`an! Incoming hostiles!" 

The Warthog's Gauss cannon fired and punched a hole in one of the building's pillars. "Move! Across the street, into that lobby." K`an motioned out the side door, towards a small restaurant across a side street. 

Ryau jumped over the railing and rolled down the access ramp. They sprinted into the restaurant, the gunner fired twice, but failed to hit anyone.  

"Go deeper into the building." K`an ordered. 

Ryau ran through a doorway into an internal hallway, it turned right and Ryau took cover on the corner. 

"Everyone alright?" Sig asked. 

"I'm fine." Ryau said. 

"As am I. Let us keep moving." K`an said. 

Sig looked back. "What about Rtik, sir?" 

K`an paused. "We will have to leave him. The area just got too heated. Ryau, stay on my left and keep cautious." 

Ryau nodded and moved to his left. "Should we not leave him a message?" 

"I don't think we can. Especially if he is up in the fog." Sig pointed out. 

"Let's quickly write it on the wall, should he come back down. Something like: Had to move." Ryau suggested, he wasn't use to leaving a fellow soldier behind. 

"With what?" K`an asked. 

Ryau waved his hands around him. "There are charred pieces of tree and metal all around, the very least we can do is carve it into the wood paneling." 

Outside a series of explosions went off and the sound of footsteps echoed down the hall. "We do not have time." K`an said. 

"We cannot just leave him," Ryau demanded. 

"First lesson of the fray: Don't get attached." K`an shoved Ryau forward. "Now move, Majors!" He barked. They quickly moved down the hall. Most of the doors were closed, and the ones that were open were devoid of life. It occurred to Ryau that since arriving at street level he had not seen a single Covenant or Civilian casualty. The hall emptied into a small indoor garden. A squad of Army troopers stood guard among the trees, 

"Majors," K`an ordered softly. "Activate active camo." He pressed a button on his wrist and faded from sight. His position was visible by a purple outline on Ryau's ACI. Sig vanished next and Ryau had to figure out which button activated the generator. In just a moment, he too disappeared. 

They snuck along the wall and passed the troopers. The other side of the garden was another lobby for the restaurant, set on a busier street. K`an dropped out of camouflage and Ryau and Sig followed suit. 

"Which direction?" K`an muttered. 

"In the general direction of the marker." Ryau said nodding his head up towards the building that was marked.

"Which street?" K`an asked. 

"Well you're the leader." Ryau responded. 

"Thank you, Major Obvious…" Kan growled. "Now come." He turned away from the restaurant and started up the street. At the other end was one of New Alexandria's sector security barriers. The Army had locked it down and set up a small road block in the intersection. A single Gauss Warthog sat in front. 

K`an activated his camo, so once again, Ryau and Sig did as well. They took cover beside some of the small human vehicles as the Warthog started to roll forward with a patrol of Troopers. "Be at the ready, Majors." K`an softly spoke. 

Thankfully, the patrol passed by without noticing the hidden Sangheili and continued down the street. "Are we clear?" Sig asked quietly. 

Ryau looked up and over the car and saw the Warthog turn a corner. "Yes, we are." He whispered back. 

"Alright, across the street and under that overhang." K`an pointed over to an recess in the front of a building. 

Ryau and Sig looked at one another, Ryau didn't want to be the first across and he assumed the same was for Sig. Reluctantly Ryau moved out and crossed the street in a half crouch with Sig right behind him. He slid into cover in the darkness and saw another Warthog sail down the street, narrowly missing K`an. 

"Is everyone still good?" K`an asked as he too slid into cover. Ryau and Sig nodded, they had made it over without incident. "Alright, is there an entrance through this building?" 

Ryau looked around and spotted a doorway that had been locked with its doors open. "Over here. there's an open door." 

"Okay, 'Cinotee. Take point." K`an said. 

Ryau didn't move for a moment, he was surprised that K`an was allowing him to do something without berating him or calling him a child. He was also confused as to why he seemed to use Human military instructions, although spoken in Sangheili, the words were the direct translation. There was also the small instance of him also using hand signals that closely mirrored those used by Marines. Ryau blinked and then refocused on the task at hand. 

He moved through the open doorway and swept the looted lobby beyond. The building once had been home to what appeared to be a telecommunications company, a competitor to Vyrant Telecom which was also located in the city. Ryau crept forward and completed his sweep of the lobby. He spied a blinking sign that announced that there was an intercity tram station on the thirty-fourth floor. 

"Shall we see if the tram is still working?" Sig asked, which put Ryau's mind in motion. Using a tram to cross the streets would save time and contact with Human forces. 

"Would they still be in operation?" K`an asked. 

Ryau looked around at the two other Sangheili. "At the very least they would be manual. and faster than on foot."

"And what is the possibility of alerting the Humans?" Sig questioned. "Is that worth the risk? For I would rather suffer a sore heel as opposed to another fall from a structural failure." 

"Depends on how damaged its superstructure is. We have yet to begin orbital bombardment correct?" 

"Hmm… Will it be fast enough to be efficient?" 

Ryau pointed over to a map below the tram sign that showed the stations. "That map shows the tunnels going directly to the building that was marked for us. It is far more direct than walking the streets." 

"But what will happen if we are discovered on the transport? Will they destroy it?" Sig seemed to have endless questions. 

"From what I saw while we were outside, the tunnels are enclosed." Ryau said.

"Are you sure?" Sig prodded. Apparently Ryau was the only one paying attention to his surroundings while they enjoyed their pleasant walk through the city. 

However, before Ryau could continue, K`an interrupted him. "He must be Sig. Did you not read his credentials? Ryau was at the top of his class in Combat Intelligence Studies. Even in the margin higher than you, Sig." 

Ryau just blinked in response. "Have I done something that changed K`an's view towards me?" He questioned himself. 

"Very well." Sig muttered. 

"Lead up the stairs, Sig." K`an ordered. Sig started up the stairs and K`an motioned for Ryau to follow beside him. "Come along now, 'Cinotee." They climbed the stairwell of the building, the sound of gusting wind could be heard echoing down the shaft, a sign that this building had not been spared damage on its upper floors. "I will apologize for getting after you earlier, Major."

Ryau glanced over at K`an and then up at Sig leading the group. "Apology accepted…" Ryau said slowly. 

"If you want the honest truth… I never give too much respect to the well-studied until I see them hold their own in a firefight." K`an began. Now Ryau understood the change in attitude. "I have seen many young warriors fall who have excelled in the studies… I never was one much for the studying" He sighed. "I just was always good at fighting… Gods, I've seen the start of this war and all the way through… It needs to end soon" K`an looked to Ryau for his input. 

"Well I… think… it will be ending soon, or else I wouldn't be here right now." Ryau muttered. 

"What do you mean by that?" K`an asked. 

"Nothing…" Ryau attempted to abort that line of conversation." Nothing." 

"...I used to share the same thing…" K`an muttered in return. "I mean, look at history. Look at the number of warriors the 'oh righteous beyond space' Covenant has thrown at the Humans.  It's a bit outlandish, don't you think?" 

"It is only proportional to the amount that have not been sent against them. That will be… our saving grace in this war." Ryau said. 

"Hmm.. well maybe if we sent-" K`an was cut off by Sig. 

"If you two are going to endlessly banter politics, I will turn around and kick you both down these stairs." Sig chuckled. 

"He is right," K`an paused. "We should quiet down a bit." 

The group continued up the stairs, passing floor after floor. Finally, Ryau saw the numbers thirty-four painted onto the wall by an access door. "Here we are." Ryau pushed the door open and they walked out into an abandoned station. The lights flickered as an explosion shook the building below, a few papers blew across the floor, there was not a Human in sight.

"So where is the transport?" Sig asked, looking around the empty station.

"If its not here, then I'd assume it was stopped at another station." Ryau nodded towards a bank of flashing evacuation screens. "Probably disabled because of the Covenant's arrival. We'll have to walk the rest of the distance, or until we find the tram."

K`an glanced both ways down the tunnels. "Okay, lets get going, youths." He hopped down onto the tracks. 

Ryau knew better than to try and walk along the trams rail. He hopped onto the raised maintenance walkway that ran between the two tracks. K`an and Sig both looked to Ryau and joined him on the walkway. They walked along the track for quite a bit, passing station after abandoned station, all evacuated and empty. They had to climb over the burring hull of a Pelican that had been shot down and crashed into the suspended tunnel, other than that there was not much structural damage.

Eventually, the tunnel ended in a maintenance area. Tram cars were suspended for repair and parts strewn about work tables. Ryau nodded over a sigh over a door. SinoViet Center: North Tower Access.

"That's our building, right?" Sig asked. 

"Yes, it is." Ryau said. They passed through the door and found themselves in a similar maintenance passageway as they had walked through hours earlier. The door slid open to a small common room, probably a relaxation area for the buildings employees. A bank of elevators occupied one of the internal walls. 

"Now all we have to do is go up…" K`an growled. "Is there and elevator anywhere?" 

"They're over here." Ryau pointed over to the doors.

"But which one?" Sig asked. 

Ryau, slowly getting annoyed by Sig's lack of understanding how basic technology functions, rolled his eyes. "Press the button and find out." 

"What button?" Sig asked again, looking at the small two button control panel with a concerned look on his face.

Ryau couldn't believe it. He had used an elevator on Sanghelios that operated just like the Humans' did. It was the most basic system there was. Ryau pointed sternly at the button with the up arrow, the button above the one with the down arrow, and at the top of the panel. "The UP button." 

Sig leaned away from the button and raised an eye ridge quizzically. "You do it."

Ryau had to resist the urge to slam Sig's face into the small button. "Fine," he growled. Ryau walked over and simply pressed the button and the doors to Sig's left dinged open. 

"If this is the way then lead on, Major." K`an waved Ryau towards the elevator doors. 

Ryau sighed and walked into the lift. "This is going to take a while…" 

The Sangheili piled into the spacious lift that ran up the center of the office building. Soft music played from the speakers automatically as they ascended. 

"None of you are going to start licking the windows on me, right?" K`an asked out of nowhere. 

They sat in silence for a bit, Ryau just listened to the music until an explosion down below knocked the power to the office out. The elevator shuddered to a halt in between floors and the lights winked out. Ryau tapped his wrist and his ACI switched to low-light mode. His vision flashed and everything was lit up like a night with a bright moon. It was different than the UNSC system he was use to working with. K`an pried open the doors and climbed out onto the floor. Ryau and Sig followed behind him.

"I guess we're taking the stairs," Ryau said. 

"Then lead on." K`an gave Ryau a shove in the back. 

Ryau glanced back with a glare and raised his weapon. He lead them through the maze of cubicles and offices towards a door marked fire exit. He opened the door to a stairwell that went upwards. The elevator had only stopped with five floors left to go. As they approached the final door, Ryau tossed his MA5 to the side, and ditched any ammunition cartridges he was carrying. He could hear the others doing the same as weapons and bullets bounced down the stairs.  

Ryau shoved the heavy door open and took a gust of wind to the face. "Here we are." He said. 

"About time," Sig raised his arm to shield his face from the wind. 

K`an squinted in the wind and glanced around. "Is the Phantom here yet?" 

"I don't see one." Ryau looked around the cityscape, but didn't see a Phantom anywhere nearby. "But we're out of the fog, communications should be back up." 

For whatever reason, Sig took it upon himself to call for their pick up. He walked off to the other side of the rooftop to make the call.
"So…" K`an started and looked to Ryau. "What do you think after your first day with us?"

"Not something I'd like to do again." Ryau gave a small shrug. Working with the Covenant didn't sit right with him, even if though he knew the war was almost over. 

"Aw c'mon, kid." K`an chuckled. "The day would have been more entertaining with D`rok around." He looked down and off to his side.

"And that is one of the reasons why I don't want to. War shouldn't be entertaining." Ryau said. 

"Well... you could be dead." K`an said bluntly. 

"Again, another reason. Doing this again only increases those chances." Ryau glanced idly at the Device that remained attached to his wrist. 

"Its war… it happens." K`an sighed again. "If you stick close to D`rok and keep your head on straight you will be just fine."

"I know that," Ryau said. "I am very experienced in fighting, but I don't plan on staying in a combat position that long."  

"Well, is there anywhere you would rather be?" K`an chuckled.

"Hmm, perhaps back in the Science division." Ryau said. The idea had suddenly struck him that he could ask Naki for a transfer into her division. After all, why would the Covenant want one of their newest toys out on the battlefield.

"I could understand that. Make us some better weapons, kid" K`an said. 

Before Ryau could respond, the whine of a Phantom overtook the wind. The purple craft slowed to a hover over the rooftop and deployed its grav-lift. Sig headed up first, followed by Ryau. Oddly the dimly lit interior was a welcoming feeling to him. He glanced around and placed his plasma weapons in a receptacle to recharge. 

Standing off to the side, was Naki, in her gold Ranger harness. She was spattered with purple and fluorescent blue blood, and paint chips and dents riddled the armor. He had to wonder what she had been through. 

She removed her helmet as he approached. "Glad to see you survived." Naki said. 

"Yeah, you too." He replied. "What happened?"

"Well, its suffice to say… I'm glad I was wearing this helmet."

Part 9
The Hunt

Twenty-Fourth Solar Cycle, 146 Cycles: 9th Age of Reclamation [August 23, 2552: 1759]
Outskirts of New Alexandria, Reach
SpecOps Major Ryau 'Cinotee



After being picked up from the rooftop in New Alexandria they were flown to the Leveling Strength and were able to rest and rearm for the night. Almost immediately they were sent out in the morning to the top of a mountain outside the city.

Ryau stood beside Naki on top of the sparsely forested plateau at near the summit. The team had been assigned to provide protection to an engineering team as they assembled a communications jammer. At first thought, he felt that a team out in the mountains would not warrant a SpecOps team keeping watch, except when he considered that there may be some refugees or Human soldiers that fled the chaos below taking shelter in the forests.

Naki, being the local expert on nearly everything, kept watch over the teams of Unggoy and Huragok to be sure it was assembled correctly. In addition to this jammer, and the ring that surrounded the city, there were many more sprinkled across the downtown area. Naki glanced around and her mandibles formed a frown.

"Something wrong, Naki?" Ryau asked.

"Well it's just that we are saturating the area in communication jammers. Only a few of these placed around the city should be enough to block communications over the entire area." She said, she waved her hand across the view. "Instead, we have clusters of five located in three sectors, inside the ring we are assembling now."

"That is strange... " Ryau said. "Something doesn't feel right."

"No, its not right." She turned around and looked towards him. "Whatever it is, I'm glad we are not going back down there."

"Agreed." Ryau let his face form a rough smile. Beside them, the jammer hummed to life and readouts scrolled across its many interfaces. Their ACIs flashed momentarily as the device interfered with the signals.

"I should go let K`an know they've finished." Naki said.

"Alright, I'll wait here." Ryau walked over to a cluster of empty crates and took a seat. He glanced down at the Device that rested on his arm. He had taken the thing off the night after he had awoken in this new body, it had left two purple bruises on his underarm. Ryau pressed the release and it popped free. The skin beneath was pale grey, no spots from the device. He was distracted as he heard K`an call his name. "What is it?" He called back.

"Pull out some rations for the lance. Naki, go inform the others to feel free to eat their own rations."

Ryau sighed and reassembled the forearm piece and the Device hissed as it sealed against his skin. He stood up and walked over to the Spirit they had rode. Ryau pulled open one of the small cargo holds and retrieved a case of field rations. He drug it out and set it down between everyone.

Sig walked over and took his and Ryau grabbed two for him and Naki. He walked over and handed it to her. Ryau removed activated the meal's heater and the small battery in the case warmed up the food that sat inside. The indicator light turned and Ryau pried the lid open. A puff of condensation rose off the rations and Ryau found he had mutna beef and morla rolls. Where as a Human MRE was a series of vitamin bars and nutritional supplements, the Covenant ration packs were filled with preserved meats and breads that were somehow kept fresh.

Ryau munched on the food and waited for K`an to return to tell them they were going  back to the ship. However K`an came back over. "We need to get going, come on." He nodded towards the Spirit.

Ryau and Naki stood up and followed Sig aboard. There was a bit of commotion outside and K`an came in and closed the drop bay doors without their pilot. "What's going on?" Ryau asked.

"Do not be bothered by it." K`an said and started the Spirit's main engines. "It was just a simple act of insubordination." The Spirit lurched as K`an took off and headed down the side of the mountain.

"No, not that." Ryau said. He assumed that something must have happened between K`an and the pilot for some reason. "What are we doing? We're going towards the city, not the camp."

K`an didn't say anything for a few moments, thinking over what he was going to say. "There was a Demon sighted within the city. We have been tasked with defeating it." The Spirit leveled out and no one said anything. To Ryau, he understood what was going to happen, he had been having memories of his past come back to him ever since he and Naki had reunited. He just hoped that this group wasn't one that the Spartan kills. K`an continued, "I'm sorry... I do not know how you all feel about this task."

Ryau swallowed. "We just need to get it done."

"Do you honestly understand what must be done?" K`an asked.

"Yes, I do." Ryau nodded. "More than you know..." He thought as he sighed.

"Alright, hold on." K`an warned. Ryau gripped a hand rail on the ceiling and the Spirit dropped sharply again. He had to use his leg to hold himself in place as the Spirit neared a vertical free fall. K`an, who was unfazed by their angle of descent, suddenly pulled the craft upwards and narrowly avoided the jungle of skyscrapers below.

The Spirit vibrated from their speed as Ryau pulled himself out of the cargo pod he had been thrown in by K`an's maneuvering. "What the fuck, K`an...." He grumbled, but no one hear him. He stood up and walked over to K`an. The control panel was flashing red and speed warnings flashed across the screen, K`an casually dismissed them with a wave. Their waypoint was substantially closer than it was before the drop.

The air breaks were thrown and the reverse thrusters activated. Ryau was once again thrown, this time face first into the wall besides the communications station. K`an paid no attention to Ryau's adventures in perpetual motion.

K`an reached over Ryau to activate the Spirits comms. "This is Special Operations team, Far Beyond Provocation. We need multiple transports of heavy reinforcements to head to inner city Jammer three. Is anyone close?"

Ryau chose to just stay where he was and listen to what was happening over the radio. A response came quickly. "This is Phantom two-two-Veko Belonging to the Guiding Light. I am currently holding a pair of Mgalekgolo. We are available for deployment." Another transport answered K`an.

K`an glanced around the controls. "Remain on standby for now."

"Understood. Standing by." Two-Two-Veko responded. "We will remain on your tail."

The Spirit banked sharply around a building, passing only a meter from its glass skin. From Ryau's position on the floor, he had a good view of the Spirit's control screens, though the view was mirrored. Their waypoint rested above a building with an illuminated blue medical symbol. He partially recognized it as the New Alexandria Medical Center.

Though before they moved to the landing pad, the Phantom that was following them peeled off. "Far beyond Provocation. This is Two-two-Veko. We have received new orders to reinforce inner city jammer one." The pilot said.

Before K`an could respond, command came over all channels. "All lances. The Demon sighting has been confirmed. Jammer four has been destroyed. Strengthen all defenses."

"Which jammer is it heading to?" We will respond." K`an asked.

"Unknown. Tracking has been thrown off by inclement weather. All jammers are being assaulted by Human forces." Command said.

"Which is in the highest need of aid?" K`an asked.

Another voice came over the radio. "Far Beyond Provocation, you are to continue to provide support to Ultra 'Valnsee at jammer three. Your orders have not changed."

"Very well." K`an sighed.

Suddenly the Spirit vibrated as a CCS-Class Battlecruiser rumbled above. Its repulsor engines causing everything below to shake. Ryau could see it stop out over the city. K`an stopped the Spirit over the landing pad of the hospital. Ultra 'Valnsee's Phantom was lifting off from the rooftop. Sitting on the adjacent pad, was a Falcon, two dead Army troopers were slumped over the side turrets.

"Far Beyond Provocation, this is Ultra 'Valnsee. We are moving to secure the lobby and I have sent my Sangheili Rangers forward to deal with the Demon." The Ultra said over the radio "Standby until we need you."

"Understood" K`an replied. He rolled his eyes, thinking he was the only one in the cockpit. They were hovering near the glass skybridge that connected two of the hospital buildings. The jammer had been placed at the end of the bridge.

To Ryau, the position of the jammer was not a good one, it could easily be accessed by anyone in the other tower. That was probably how the Army troopers had managed to get there behind the Jiralhanae that had formerly been guarding it, and did a terrible job.

The Spirit's cameras peered into the skybridge, they could see the bodies of the Jiralhanae along the path. "Ultra 'Valnsee, this is Far Beyond Provocation. I have a current view of what is going on the pathway to where the jammer is. I will keep you updated." K`an said.

"Attention. Jammer three has been destroyed." Command announced.

Ryau watched the Rangers jump into the massive skybridge. They quickly engaged the Spartan that walked out of the cover where the jammer had been placed. Bullets and plasma went back and forth, the Rangers attempting to flank the Spartan with their jump packs. Unfortunately, as Ryau expected, the Spartan cut down all the Sangheili.

"Ultra, the Demon has slain the Rangers. He is going towards the lobby." K`an urgently warned the Ultra. The Spartan looted the corpses for grenades and a replacement for the Plasma pistol they were carrying on their hip. Then they continued for the lobby.

"Far Beyond Provocation, you're clear for entry!" The Ultra shouted. "The Demon-"There was a gargling noise before the Ultras headset cut off automatically.

Ryau decided to sit up finally, only at that moment K`an also decided to suddenly start the Spirit up at full speed. Ryau slid across the floor and hit the back plate again.

"Command, the Demon has made it past Ultra 'Valnsee and has escaped the area." K`an said.

"Understood. Current sightings place it heading for jammer one. Proceed at you digression." Command reported.

K`an frowned. "Very well." He cut the link and glanced down the left prong. "Cinotee! Come here."

Ryau pushed himself with his legs and slid back between the communications panel and the pilot's seat. He looked up at K`an from the floor. "What is it?"

K`an's head shot around and down towards the floor. He sighed and looked back at the control screen. His sigh was that kind someone makes when in total disbelief. He stared at the screen for a moment. "Whenever you decide to rejoin me from the floor, we need to re-evaluate our situation."

Ryau pulled himself up with both seats and sat down at the communications station. "Alright. What is it?"

"The plan has changed. The Demon got through the jammer." K`an paused as he concentrated on flying the Spirit around a series of buildings.

"So I heard." Ryau said.

"We need to think about how to go about this. I will not have us just running blindly into a building after the Human. Do you still have a record of the city layout?" K`an asked. "The one from when we were on the ground?"

"There are some Beam rifles in the Spirit's field armory. I did not keep the map." Ryau said. "Though we could set up on top of a building." He was thinking of some ways they can stay out of conflict with the Spartan but still seem like they were in combat.

"I mean to ask, how is your memory. Do you remember that Human tower? SinoViet, was what it was called?"

"Oh, yes. The one with the green chevron over there." Ryau pointed at the building on the screen.

"Very good. I want you to play navigator, find a building overlooking the landing station of the building where jammer one is located." K`an said.

Ryau nodded and sat down at the communications station and looked over the controls. Reading their labels, Ryau pressed a few buttons and the communications station switched over to a navigator's seat. He used the various cameras to scan the buildings ahead of them. Most were so tall that their rooftops could only see part of the club's exterior pads. Ryau sighed, "There are plenty of buildings in the area, but they're too tall to see the inside of the landing area,"

"Find me one, Cinotee." K`an ordered.

Ryau went back to work, and as the Spirit rounded a corner, a smaller building sat in a perfect position overlooking the club's landing pads. "Well that's perfect. Hell, it's even lit up purple." Ryau thought to himself with a slight chuckle. "Got one." Ryau said to K`an and placed a waypoint on the building. "Looks like we'll be just at home there."

"Not likely. If there's no women, it's not my home." K`an smirked. "Unless you want to share." That last part was quietly said with a laugh.

"What was that?" Ryau didn't think that he heard the last part right.

"I said not likely." K`an said, suppressing a small grin. The Spirit suddenly turned sharply towards the waypoint. They drifted over the building's rooftop and settled down over its extended landing pad. "Cinotee, grab me one of those rifles and a viewing set." K`an barked and stood out of the seat. "Sig, you take the helm of the Spirit and remain nearby."

Ryau walked over to the Field Armory and pulled the Beam rifle free, the viewing set that was in the box was the kind designed to fit over a Kig 'Yar's head. Ryau tossed that over his shoulder and found a universal design sitting underneath a set of replacement Unggoy breathing masks. Behind him, the left prong's door opened and wind and rain blew inside.

"Cinotee, you're with me. Lets go!" K`an waited by the open hatch.

Ryau passed K`an the Beam rifle and hopped down onto the illuminated floor. K`an dropped down behind him and Ryau moved to the ledge. "Here we are, good sight lines to the doorway and rest of the deck."

"Yes..." K`an agreed for once. "Now lets get set up." The two moved down a floor to the balcony that had the best vantage point. K`an and Ryau knelt down at the edge and set up their position. The viewing set had a small deplorable stand to steady it. It was supported by an energy field and a small plate descended. Ryau guessed the magnetic fields acted as some sort of spring. Using his finger, he pulled the plate of metal back until it was perpendicular with the viewing set. He released it and it bounced back, but instead of a twang, there was a strange wobbly sound. Ryau looked up to see if K`an had noticed, but the Major was too busy making sure the Beam rifle was in working order.

K`an looked up. "Have you ever used one of the viewing sets before?"

"Yes I have. But they are not commonly used since the Kig 'Yar visors do it all at once. Sangheili sniper teams are rare on the battlefield." Ryau looked the device over once more. While it was true he had received some minor training it its use while in Varo, they didn't go over much.

"I agree, the Sangheili would rather be in the fray than to sit and wait." K`an sighed and dropped down onto his belly. "That is one thing I do not like about us as a species. There is a high percentage in the population that work on a one track system."

Ryau moved down next to K`an. Like the conversations they had earlier, Ryau enjoyed the conversations with actual Sangheili about themselves. "Could you explain? He asked.

"Oh so you are willing to talk on such manners?" K`an asked as he looked down at the building below.

"We touched on it before..." Ryau said. "But Sig threatened to kick us down the stairs."

"Yeah, he gets his panties in a bunch whenever politics are brought up." K`an chuckled.

"Why's that?" Ryau asked, also slightly confused with the phrasing.

"His father is a politician, I don't know, I didn't meet the guy. D`rok would have known..." K`an trailed off. "Anyway, what was your question?"

"Well, explain what you meant earlier." Ryau glanced down the viewing set at the balcony.

"Well…" K`an started. "I think it festers from the extreme religion that runs the entire Covenant. We as a race- Er, all of the races together are raised to follow and not to think."

"Possibly, but there are always the ones that don't follow the flow." Ryau said. "Like you."

"Maybe a part of it is that most of the military is made up of youthful individuals." K`an admitted. "It seems that the ones who are free thinkers have too high of power to be so. Somewhat dealing with heightened benefits. Do you think?"

"I think it's the opposite of that, the free thinkers don't have any power to try and push some of the changes. Like what happened when Zelso changed some of the laws which in turn altered some traditions." Ryau suggested.

"Interesting..." K`an paused to think. "Then I now think it is a mix of both of our beliefs. It makes sense." He shifted his stance and aimed around. "Apologies for talking so much on these social topics."

"Its f-" Ryau's scanning spotted a Falcon accelerating towards the Vyrant Telecom tower. "K`an, here it comes." He tagged the Falcon with the viewing set. It should have been pinged to K`an scope and Assisted Combat Interface.

"I see it," K`an said.

The Falcon lowered and opened fire on the Covenant forces that patrolled the balcony. The VTOLs guns tore the Unggoy and Kig `Yar to pieces, leaving nothing alive. It settled on one of the pads and the Spartan pulled itself out of the cockpit and hurried into the club. Ryau sent a status ping over the radio to the forces inside. He got a single ping, and then a constant tone.

"That was him." K`an muttered. "We will wait for him to exit the building. I have a very well placed shot. Is there an open comlink to the forces inside?"

"No, it seems they've gone dark since the Spartan entered. Either they're dead, of those Jiralhanae don't know how to operate their radios." Ryau said.

"Both are equally possible, but I do not find myself surprised if it is the former." K`an grumbled. The command channel buzzed with an alert that the jammer had been destroyed. Suddenly the CCS-Class Battlecruisers that had positioned themselves over the city activated their glassing beams. The sky lit up and the ground shook.

"The hell!?" Ryau flipped over on his shoulder. The roar of plasma scorching the planet surface shattered the glass on the rooftop. "They've started glassing."

"Pay attention, Ryau! Its coming out soon." K`an called to bring Ryau back to his task.

Ryau fumbled with his viewing set as a wave of static passed over them. He shoved the thought of the glassing out of his head and concentrated. The doors down below opened and he saw the foot of the Spartan step into the threshold. Only the two Sangheili didn't get a chance for the shot, their shields were peppered by bullets from behind. Ryau jumped up and leapt for cover behind the building. K`an turned around and fired his Beam rifle at the Army troopers that had come out of the roof access hatch.

K`an's shields burst and several bullets ricocheted off his armor. "K`an!" Ryau called and returned fire with his Needle rifle. "Get over here!"

Ryau provided suppressive fire and K`an launched himself into movement. One of the Troopers scored a lucky shot with their DMR and nailed K`an just above his right upper knee. His leg gave out as he about to pass behind the wall.

"MotherFucker!" K`an shouted. Ryau reached out and grabbed K`an by the lip of his shield generator. He pulled K`an far enough behind the wall that they would have a few moments of safety. K`an called for Sig to pick them up as soon as possible. "Ryau! Get us some ground." He struggled to get the Plasma pistol free from its clamp on his hip.

"I'm working on it!" Ryau shouted back. He was keeping the Humans suppressed as he pulled K`an along the floor, there wasn't much he could do. They didn't make it that far before Ryau had to reload, giving an opening for the Humans to move in. K`an began to fire with his Plasma pistol and sent a volley of green plasma towards the Troopers.

Ryau drug K`an back around the other corner, firing his Needle rifle one handed. Out of nowhere, the whine of engines grew louder and suddenly the building shook. The Humans were thrown off the rooftop, blood and body parts were behind them. One of the prongs from a Spirit shot by, trailing sparks and bits of metal.

The Spirit circled around in front of them and lowered its hatch for them to board. Ryau pushed K`an onto the hatch and then hopped on himself. He had to pull him further into the troop bay. The hatch closed behind him and Ryau lifted K`an up and put him in one of the crash seats.

"Get us out of here, Sig." Ryau easily transitioned into command mode and began to take control of the situation. . He gripped one of the handholds as the Spirit accelerated away from the site. "Command, this is Far Beyond Provocation. We were unable to kill the Sp-Demon. We were ambushed by...Vermin as we were about to take the shot." Ryau glanced down at K`an's name. "Retmmaree is injured and we are heading back to the Leveling Strength." He clicked off the receiver.

The response didn't come for a few moments. "Understood. This is Communications officer 'Sannwikhee. Report has been logged. S-"

'Sannwikhee was cut off by the command line. "All forces are to evacuate the city. You have five unites to to vacate the area."

Overhead, a trio of Battlecruisers rumbled into position. "Shit. You heard them, Sig. Get us out of the city." Ryau knelt down to look at K`an's wound. The bullet had passed through the leg, shattering the bone.

"Only five minutes?" K`an cringed, the puddle of blood on the floor widened slightly. "That is hardly enough time to get out of the city."

Ryau sighed and pulled a medical kit out of one of the storage compartments. "Its plenty of time, K`an." he assured him. "Do you want me to stop the bleeding?"

"Only if you promise not to flop around the cabin, like you did earlier." K`an chuckled darkly.

"Well Sig is driving now, he's much smoother." Ryau opened the medical kit and looked through the medical kit and found one of the gel pads that he had seen in Varo. He pulled out a specialized tool that glowed blue when it was turned on. If he remembered correctly, it was something that would cut through the bodysuit, but not the skin.

"Sometimes comfort is not always the ideal tactic." K`an said.

"And sometimes we want to get there alive." Ryau retorted and removed the armor pieces on K`an's leg. He cut away the body suit at the thigh and second ankle, then placed a dab of antiseptic and a pain killing paste over the wound.

K`an winced for a second, but then grinned and rolled his eyes. "Whatever Cinotee, I'm an excellent pilot."

"If you say so." Ryau said.

"Hey, don't be so quick to judge.[I] I have placed first in a handful of prestigious completions of aerial skill."

"Bullshit." Ryau pulled the leg brace out and looked it over. It attached at two ends of the leg and had a thick plastic film between the alloy clamps. Glancing at the instructions, he gripped the two halves and easily bent them to fit the natural bend of K`an's leg.

K`an laughed "Yeah, you're right. That would be something would it not."

"I guess, but I really don't peg you as the pilot type." Ryau shrugged. He clamped the brace to the leg, and sealed the other side of the plastic. As he pressed the activation button, the clamps shrunk to fit and created a seal between the metal and K`an's skin. An electrical charge went through the bend and made it stiff. An few moments later the space between the skin and the film filled with a healing gel. All appeared to be working.

"Well, as a child once told me... If you say so." Ryau frowned as K`an burst out in laughter, which quickly died down as he winced from the pain. "Ryau, I like you. Can I buy you a drink?"

"Of course." Ryau chuckled to himself. "Well, I'm done here, don't fuck it up, or I'll knock you on your ass like I did D`rok."

K`an laughed and shook his head in disbelief. "I'll have to hear that story later." He got quiet for a second. "Much later."

Ryau stood up and gave K`an a pat on the shoulder. He walked into the cock-pit to check on Naki and Sig. Sig was concentrating on the controls, and getting out of the city.

"What happened?" Sig asked, glancing over a bit.

"We were ambushed before we could fire on the...Demon. K`an was shot in the leg, but he is doing alright." Ryau said.

"I would surely hope so, it would be devastating if we lost him." Sig said in the most serious voice Ryau had heard anyone use while talking about K`an.

"That it would be." Ryau nodded and walked on to the other prong to check on Naki.

She was at the far end of the troop bay with data-pads strewn about. "Alright, 'Vinika. I got your data here. I'll try to get to your site soon." She spoke into a headset. "Now what kind of site is this?" Ryau knocked on the bulkhead to alert Naki to his presence. "Oh, hold on 'Vinika, I'll have to get back to you.... Yes I will as soon as I can." She took off the headset and looked up to Ryau with a slight smile.

Ryau smiled back and pointed back towards the other prong. "K`an got shot on the leg. He's patched up, but can you go take a look at it? I think I got it on right but I've never used one of those before."

"Oh," she frowned. "Are you okay?" Naki looked around at Ryau's form.

"Yeah, I made it through just fine." Ryau twisted his torso to prove to her that all was fine.

"Okay, good. I'll go check your handy work." Naki stood and went to check on K`an's injuries.

Ryau sighed and sat down in one of the crash seats. He waited there as they ascended into the upper atmosphere to dock with the DDS-Class Carrier they had launched from a few days earlier. Fighting his fellow Humans was hard enough, but now it was the planet he had regarded as home for most of his life. He knew there was nothing he could do to stop it, just do whatever he was told and hope he didn't do something wrong to make this all for nothing.





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