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LORC: Beginnings Act 3 Pt 3 and 4
Posted By: HWPD<disaster.nick@gmail.com>
Date: 1 November 2017, 6:24 am


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Part 3
Two Misfits Too Many

Twenty-Fourth Solar Cycle, 201 Cycles: 9th Age of Reclamation [October 20, 2552: 1701hrs]
New Mombasa, Earth
SpecOps Science Major Naki 'Cimutee



"K`an..?" Naki muttered. He made it to this part of the city, he was nearby.

She holstered her Carbine and ran for the doors. The automatic sensors beeped and slid open, and she slid to a stop at the end of K`an's weapon.
"Naki?" He asked.

"K`an!" Naki laughed, she was glad to find someone she knew in this city.

He quickly lowered her weapon. "Naki, hush. There are Humans nearby."

Naki shook her head, there was no way they could hear them from where they were. "I know, their command post is right there."

"Are you alright?" K`an sighed.

Naki sighed herself. "Yes... I'm fine. I have just run into my fair share of Jiralhanae lately."

"I haven't yet... I haven't run into anyone yet actually..." K`an glanced around the area. "Have they actually turned on us?"

"Yes..." Naki answered. "I have encountered two different groups."

"Damn it, that makes this whole scenario interesting." K`an lowered his gun further and rolled his eyes.

Naki nodded her head back towards the doorway. "There was a pack following me through the building, but I think I may have thrown them off."

"Let's hope you have... Do you have any idea what is going on, or why the Prophet left with such haste?"

Naki just shrugged. "The Demon was getting close, I think they panicked.

"Indeed..." K`an hummed.

Naki paused for a moment as if to collect her thoughts. "So, where are you headed?"

"After the Phantoms all left with the ship. I didn't really have any plans." K`an said. Naki sighed and thought about what they should do. There were too many Jiralhanae to get back to Osala, and she could make it out on her own, Naki was sure. The only viable option was to get as far away from this place as possible. "Tell you what." K`an started. "You placed me on your roster for security, I intend to continue that. I am all yours 'Cimutee."

That was an amusing thought. She almost managed a comeback, but the door to the Hannibal building opened again. The Jiralhanae she had thought she lost had returned. They scanned the roadway and focused on the two Sangheili. With a series of roars, the Jiralhanae raised their weapons and began to fire.

The super-heated spikes sizzled passed K`an and stuck into a box truck behind him. "Shit." He pulled up his Human weapon, a Battle Rifle, and returned fire.

Naki threw her Carbine up as well, but K`an moved in between her and the Jiralhanae. It was a stupid move that prevented her from firing too. She took a few steps back and got her chance to shoot, but the Jiralhanae kept coming out of the doorway. They did not have the firepower to take this many. "Now we run!" she yelled, all the while backing down the ramp.

She spun on her heel and ran down the incline. A large building was across the avenue and one of its roll-up doors was raised just enough get under. Only they had to cross that large open area right in front of the Human command post; either way, it was their only choice. They sprinted across the roadway, and thankfully the Humans did not open fire. Naki slid under the doorway on her thigh, K`an following her in. The Jiralhanae were just across the median when the Humans spotted them, and opened fire.

Naki rolled back to her feet and grabbed the door handle, K`an taking hold as well, and slammed it shut. The sounds of gunfire and dying Jiralhanae were muted through the heavy metal door.

"You okay?" K`an asked as he reloaded his Human weapon.

"Yes," She leaned against the wall to adjust the clips on her boots. "I am fine. You?"

K`an exhaled. "I'm good. The humans didn't shoot at us, did you notice that?"

Naki shook her head. "Probably for no specific reason."

"Probably not..." K`an sighed. "Now, if I know humans as well as I think I do, those few Jiralhanae will not fulfill their attention span for too long. I would suggest that we get moving before they want to find out where we went."

Naki shrugged. "Where do we go?"

"I have no idea." He looked down at his rifle. "Anywhere but here."

They started to walk onward, through the loading area of the building. The Tterrab Industries logo was plastered above the doorway that led further into the complex.

"How did you get left here?" K`an suddenly asked.

Naki nodded her head in a half shrug. "The Phantom I was in got hit by a rocket. Ryau had to let me go."

K`an snickered. "Let me guess, you fell into the the water, right?"

"Well of course." After Naki replied, it suddenly clicked what K`an was getting at.

"I was going to say..." He chuckled. "When you found me, I don't think I've ever seen you so wet."

Such an inappropriate joke, but it was exactly what K`an has done for the last few months she has known him. Naki just shook her head. It was not a good idea to egg him on.

"Sorry," K`an cleared his throat. "My humor hasn't died."

"That I can tell, K`an," Naki sighed.

"Anyway," K`an moved to change the subject. "I was on my way across the large city bridge. I had commandeered a vehicle and was halfway across to the extraction point when the ship took off without me."

"Okay?" Naki waved her hands for him to go on.

"I also found out first hand, that FTL jumps in atmosphere create quite the shock wave." K`an scratched the back of his neck through his bodysuit.

"You did not know that?" Naki cocked her head slightly at him. "I thought you liked ships and space."

"Oh I do. I've just never seen it first hand. Forgive me for not being just a few kilometers from an in-atmosphere jump more than once in my life. It is a bit of a new experience for me." K`an scoffed. Naki noticed that his rate of speech had been picking up, like he was hyped up on something.

"I have never seen one before either. But the way you said that implied that you have not even heard of it either." Naki said.

"Apologies, my words are getting a bit mixed up with all of the excitement going on around us." He took a few breaths to calm himself down. "Anyway... Do you have any sense of direction as where we need to go?"

"I am not sure. With the Jiralhanae here, it would be best to get out of the city," Naki said.

"That is what I was thinking too..." he sighed. “Though the nearest bridge is out; it is not structurally sound and there are a lot of Humans on the other side, I just came from there."

"Best to head that way then," Naki pointed out the buildings doors and down the main thoroughfare.

"Yes, ma'am." K`an nodded in agreement.

They continued out into the city, heading southbound. They re-entered the downtown corridor that Naki had done a small bit of exploring earlier, however she steered them clear of where she had encountered the Jiralhanae. It was not long before K`an began to strike up another conversation.

"So, what do you think our chances of getting out of this city alive are, Naki?" K`an asked.

"Quite high," Naki said. There seemed to be a lack of anyone in this city, and anyone they had run into had been fairly close to the major combat areas.

"I'm not so convinced," K`an responded. "How do you figure?"

"There were not that many Jiralhanae in this city before. Even if they caught our brothers off guard, and killed them, they cannot block all our routes out."

"The issue is that I am not worried about the Jiralhanae themselves," K`an argued. "I am worried about them- all of the other Covenant- that align themselves with the Jiralhanae, and the Humans on top of that. We are literally alone on this battleground."

Naki simply shrugged. "You said this city. Not the planet."

"You know what I mean." He rolled his eyes at her.

Naki decided to answer him directly. "I think that we will be able to make it out as the humans have probably evacuated this area and pulled back in case we glass the city."

"Well that doesn't make me feel any better." K`an grumbled. "Whatever, we just need to pick a direction and stick with it."

Naki looked over at him. They had covered this already. "As we agreed on earlier, away from here."

"Alright..." K`an sighed. "Maybe we should keep heading south, deeper into the city. There is bound to be a few Humans left and I would wager that we should encounter many Sangheili to aid, don't you think?"

"That sounds well enough," Naki said. The Solemn Penance's had made landfall at the southern end of the city, so the logic of more Sangheili that way held true.

The duo once again returned to silence as they walked through the abandoned streets of New Mombasa. Security gates and empty military checkpoints made traversing the avenues difficult, they had to rely on alleyways and through deserted buildings for a simple path. Thankfully whoever had evacuated, had left most of the doors unlocked; though locked doors gave way to plasma fire just as easy as a boot. Stepping into an alley through the loading dock of a clothing store, Naki noticed the sound of gunfire up ahead.

In a traffic plaza ahead, she could see plasma fire and spike rifle fire being exchanged between two sides. A panicked group of Human civilians blindly ran down the alley, pushing passed K`an and Naki without a thought.

"What the fuck?" K`an muttered.

A Sangheili's voice echoed down the narrow road. "Stand firm, brothers! We shall destroy each and every one of these blasphemous Jiralhanae! Keep fighting, for glory!"

K`an and Naki hurried to the end of alley to assist their fellow Sangheili. This was why they continued south. Five Sangheili were fighting off a large pack of Jiralhanae across the traffic circle, they were highly outnumbered.

"Well, I guess we found the fight." Naki brought her Carbine up and moved to cover the other Sangheili.

"Yes, shall we give them a hand?" K`an asked and he too moved with her.

One of the Sangheili took a trio of spikes to the throat and dropped to the ground. Naki and K`an moved in, firing at the Jiralhanae pack. She took cover behind a Human vehicle
and fired across the hood. The Sangheili had better cover than the Jiralhanae, and that worked towards their advantage. Naki and K`an had managed to tip the fight and the pack was killed in just a few moments of intense fighting.

Naki dropped back behind the vehicle and set her Carbine down across her legs. Fighting like this was not as bad as running from the Jiralhanae, but it was not something that she did often.

"Are you alright?" K`an asked, standing up from his position.

She looked up at him. "Yeah... you?"

"I am just peachy." K`an looked over at the other Sangheili that were coming over to their position. He leaned over and offered his hand to help her up. "That was some nice shooting."

Naki grabbed his hand and was pulled back up to her feet. "Thanks."

The Ultra looked over the two of them. "Hello brother... and sister. It was quite the blessing to have your aid in that fight, thank you."

She nodded. "You're welcome."

There were only a few of the Ultra's forces left, Naki only counted three survivors. The others were firing shots over the heads of the Human civilians that had stuck around. "Are you two alone?" the Ultra asked.

"Yes," Naki answered. "Though there was another Ultra in a warehouse north of us, but she may have moved on already." She hoped Osala had.

The Ultra huffed slightly at the notion of the other Ultra being a she. "That is not good news. I had nearly a whole garrison of warriors when the Jiralhanae first turned on us. Now these Sangheili are all I have left."

"I have not seen any others..." Naki replied.

"Damn, and now we must not only deal with the Humans, but now the Jiralhanae as well."

K`an shook his head. "For now I think we should focus on the Jiralhanae, sir."

The Ultra snapped his attention to K`an. "Excuse me?"

"The Humans are not a threat anymore," Naki defended K`an. "Their forces in this city are scattered and broken. Right now, all we need to do is survive the Jiralhanae's betrayal and regroup."

The Ultra disagreed. "Not a threat? This is their homeworld. Of course they are a threat. Even their civilians in numbers are dangerous. Have you soaked your head lately?"

Naki shook her head. "What I am saying is that there are not enough of their forces in this city to cause worry. Most of their civilians have fled or have been killed already." She shrugged, she was really looking to persuade them not to hunt down civilians and let them get out. This war was about over. "I walked from one side of this city to the other and I encountered only Jiralhanae, no Humans."

"Well we just saw several." The Ultra growled. "I believe it is best that if I or my warriors see any Humans, they shall be gunned down."

Naki frowned. "Ideologies like that are the reasons this war is stretching on."

"It is not your place to argue the politics of this war, miss. How about you return to the keep and stay out of our way," the Ultra snarled.

She growled at the Ultra and the need to pull rank upon him rose. The deployment was still classed as artifact recovery and that was her domain. But then K`an brought his attention upon himself. "How about you shut your fucking mouth."

The Ultra spun on his armored heel. "Watch your tongue, Major."

"Watch your own privilege, dickhead." K`an replied.

The Ultra stood up against K`an, trying to show that he was larger than the rifleman. "What kind of heretic are you, Major? Do you really wish to trample in my path?"

"Take your path elsewhere."

"I will not allow you to make a fool of me in front of my underlines," the Ultra growled.

K`an smirked slightly, "Too late." Naki sighed and stepped back, once again K`an took things a bit far. She was angry but would rather get out of this city with numbers.

"Very well." The Ultra turned to the warriors behind him. "Watch the perimeter. I will be but a minute." The other Sangheili began to walk off and the Ultra's hand slid down to his leg, where Naki saw the hilt of an Energy Sword.

Without waiting for the duel, K`an pulled up a Human pistol and shoved it into the Ultra's face, bypassing the energy shield. He pulled the trigger, blowing the back of the Ultra's head off.

"Goddamnit K`an." Naki cried, but not in sadness, more of annoyance.

The Ultra's dropped to the ground and one of the Majors aimed their Carbine at K`an. "What is the meaning of this?!"

"It is better to have lived a day as a Wise Man than live a lifetime as a fool." K`an answered as he lowered the Magnum back to his side.

"Sir?!" The Major did not understand what K`an was talking about.

"I have survived this entire war in the thick of things and I will not have some deranged officer be the death of me," K`an said. "If you wall want to survive this: you will lower your weapons at once, listen to me closely, and follow my lead. Do you understand?"

The other Sangheili lowered their weapons and talked among one another. "Fine, Major. We will follow your lead." They did not seem pleased.

"Good. You have a minute to gather your thoughts before we head south." K`an nodded, turning to Naki. "Anything you'd like to add?"

"No." She was not entirely happy with the way K`an handled things, but there was nothing she could do about that now.

K`an sighed and looked down at the Magnum in his hand. "That was exciting..."

"I guess... If you like shooting your own kind." Naki sighed. "You know, we can try changing minds without shooting for once."

"I doubt he was one of those who would change." K`an humphed.

"You never know..." Naki argued.

"He also was in appropriately speaking to my female friend. That was unacceptable."

"Still, not a reason to kill someone though..."

K`an rolled his eyes. "Then press charges. I regret nothing."

Naki crossed her arms and grumbled. "Well what now, K`an?"

"Like we said, we head south." K`an nodded and turned to the others. "C'mon Sangheili, it's time to move!" The remaining members of the Ultra's group did not complain, and they fell in line behind K`an and Naki.

They made their way deeper into the denser part of the city. The structures blocked out the sun, leaving them all in a perpetual shade. They only stopped walking when they came to a fork in the avenue they had been following. K`an walked down them each for a short ways as he thought aloud about which way to go next. Naki was fine with letting him lead the way now, she would rather not be responsible for getting them stuck somewhere. Having the ability to blame it on him would come in handy in the future.

He chose a route and waved them along to follow him down. Naki found it strange that they had not seen anyone in the city this far in. Other than the civilians at the roundabout, the city seemed dead. There should have been some sign of the Human military. Though then something began to echo around a building. Engines. Three of the Human's Warthogs drifted through the intersection and then stopped.

"Get inside!" K`an ran for a doorway and slammed through the sliding glass door.

The turrets spun and began to fire down the roadway. Naki wasted no time sprinting for the door. She dove in and then rolled out of the way so that the others could follow. The space was a small lobby for a printing office of some kind. It offered very little in the department of cover. "This is not good."

The Minor pointed out the doorway. "What are we going to do? I saw one of their tanks down the road!"

"Shut up and follow me." K`an ordered. "Let's get upstairs!"

The staircase was obvious, just behind the receptionist's desk, and went up into a fairly open cubicle floor. "We should find another way out." She suggested. "Their tank can't be everywhere at once."

"From the look of the building, there are windows all around it. We could exit pretty much anywhere from the second floor. Don't you think?" K`an replied.

Naki took a look around the cubicle area and hummed slightly, "Yes" They remained at the top of the stairs for a moment, just to be sure the Humans did not attempt to pursue them. The vehicles moved on and passed, but Naki did not hear the tank.

"Okay, let’s just wait a moment and think. Take a bit of a breather, it doesn't seem like the Humans really care much for us." He looked towards the three Majors. "Stand guard here."

Naki walked towards one of the interior doors. The doorway led into the print shop and its windows faced an alley, which was probably their best option to get out of the building. Her eyes caught the Minor wandering towards the windows that overlooked the street. "Hey, don't-"

He disregarded her and continued to peek through the tinted glass. K`an sighed. "We just need to keep track of them. As long as the Humans are not in the building, we are fine." Naki gave him her 'seriously' look.

"Sir," the Minor called. "Their tank is just outside."

"Thank you, Minor. Now stay away from the windows." K`an looked back at Naki and returned her expression with a silly gesture. "My only concern is that we probably will hit an influx of Humans while we head south. I would imagine most of their important sectors are at that end of the city."

"Yes, except that is where the Prophet landed." Naki said.

"Still... If I know Humans well enough... they like to put their ONI build-" K`an was interrupted by an explosion tearing through the air. She was thrown into the print shop as the ceiling collapsed and part of the floor gave way.

Naki pushed herself off the floor; the air was thick with dust and smoke. "K`an!?" she called.

There was no response and her ears were ringing.

She focused on the Lance roster in the corner of her ACI. K`an's name was still there, and the bio monitor indicated he was still alive. He must have jumped clear, or was pushed by the debris. Naki heard a faint yelling, but it was soon drowned out by the Human's machine gun tearing through the wall from the street side.

"I'm getting out of here, K`an!" She yelled over the sound.

There was not much she could do to rejoin them. Humans on the street below and Jiralhanae spreading into the city, and she could not stay here. Naki retrieved her Carbine, which had slid against a fabricator of some kind. She fired twice and pushed the shattered window out of the way, before dropping into the alley.

The alley led back towards the road, and she could hear a Human yelling at their Tankmaster about how he could bring the building down on top of them. They were distracted. Naki put her Carbine on her back and sprinted out and across the street, into another alleyway. Her best bet was to get out of the city by the eastern bridge, if that had survived the Space Tether collapse, and that was on the other side of the city. A city that was now extremely dangerous, even more so than earlier in the day when there had been a larger Human population.
She kicked open a door, into a small convenience store. Traveling through the buildings would hopefully be safer than the streets.

Part 4
Mombasa Streets

Twenty-Fourth Solar Cycle, 201 Cycles: 9th Age of Reclamation [October 20, 2552: 1901hrs]
New Mombasa, Earth
SpecOps Science Major Naki 'Cimutee




Naki crept under the jammed security gate in the shopping plaza. Much of this part of the city was locked up tight, and the doors refused to budge. She was lucky to find this gate open. Her ration packs had been lost in the fall, and it had been almost a full day since she had anything to eat. With all the running she had been doing, she strongly desired some sustenance. The place she just entered, however, would not provide food, but it will give a means to gets some.

The small speakers in the ceiling chimed a greeting. "Welcome to African Trust, Banking with pride. An Associate will be with you shortly."

The Humans had vending machines all over the city, but they too were built to last. That Jiralhanae had torn off her wrist blades and the locks held up to her slamming the butt of her Carbine against them. The polymer glass over the teller stations in the bank was broken down. Naki leaped up onto the counter and swept the space beyond for any Humans. It was clear, at least of any live Humans. There were three dead bank employees. All sporting gunshot wounds, not plasma burns. Other Humans were the killers; even during the end of the world were Humans greedy creatures.

She hopped down to the other side of the counter and set a duffel bag she had procured from one of the nearby stores onto the ground. Naki began to fill it with small bills from the tills.

The only realistic source of food on this planet would be vending machines. No self-respecting Human would serve her food once she got out of the city. "I'm already part of a genocidal group of religious extremists... Adding bank robbery to the list is just adding to my impressive resume." Naki joked to herself.
Once the tills were empty, Naki moved on to the back. The vault was wide open, and bills were strewn all over the floor. Naki set her bag on a cart and began to scoop them up off the floor. She stopped to look at one of the bills and realized that the amount of Human currency in her bag would probably be enough to buy herself one of their small ships.

"I...think that's enough," Naki muttered. "I must be approaching my annual salary." She was well paid for her position in the Ministry.

She zipped up the bag and climbed back over the counter. Naki made a bee-line for the nearest vending machine. Hot-n-Cold, Straight from Boston, URNA was printed across a board above the machine. As she approached, the machine chimed "Hello, Welcome to Hot-n-Cold. Please place your thumb on the transaction plate."

Naki hesitated for a moment and then shrugged anything could happen. "What the hell, why not," she said while pulling off her glove and placing her thumb on the metal plate.

The Machine buzzed. "Error, unrecognized thumbprint. Checking data-connection... Error. Unable to connect to network." The small screen flashed and shut off. It came back on a moment later. "This machine is in cash-only mode. Sorry for the inconvenience."

"Oh, on the contrary, this is better." Naki laughed.

"Unrecognized dialect. Please speak clearly in English." The machine chimed again. "What would you like, customer?"

"Oh, right." Naki mentally switched over to the English language. Being multilingual from 'birth' always came in handy. She had to think deep into her mind to remember what she use to get, a number began to jump out at her. "Yes, I would like a coffee, five creams, and five sugar."
They did not have coffee back on Sanghelios; the closest thing she could find was Vela tea. But that did not have a flavor close to what she remembered.

"One Coffee. Would you like any thing else? Customer?" The machine asked.

"Uhm..." She scanned the menu. "Two burritos."

"Thank you. That will be... Fourteen Fifty." The cash slot lit up green and waited for her to pay.

Naki pulled a twenty dollar bill from her bag. Well, technically it was not a dollar; it was a UEG Credit, which was such a generic term for currency. At least the Covenant kept the name Sangheili had used; the Gek. She inserted it into the slot, and the machine took it.

"Thank you. Dispensing products." A small slot opened up containing a cup of coffee, and another held two paper wrapped burritos.

She took the coffee and sniffed it, the aroma definitely smelled right. Naki held the cup up to her mouth and poured it over her tongue. Immediately she spat it out and wiped her tongue with her hand. "Gah, that tastes terrible." The coffee was bitter and tasted like burned roots. She looked at the cup and tossed it over her shoulder. Naki should have known better, coffee was an acquired taste as a Human, and it had been decades since her last cup.

"Could I get a water?" She asked the machine, still reeling at the disgusting flavor.

The machine beeped and a complementary cup of water was dispensed. Naki took it and the plate of burritos and walked over to a small table nearby. The table only came up to her knee and sitting in the chair looked comical. Naki was glad that no one was around to see her sitting like that. It was like sitting in a chair made for children.

Naki was glad that the burritos were at least edible. They were not made of the same things she remembered, Soy alternatives to the beef and cheese. Not that she would have noticed if she had not read the package. Nothing tasted the same anymore. Whether that was due to five hundred years of change, or being a different species now, she had no idea.
With her hunger sedated, Naki made her way out of the shopping center and out to the streets. The area she had just entered was well sectioned off. There were not any Jiralhanae in the sector she was currently in, but large security gates prevented her from walking on into another sector.

She managed to find a doorway into another office space. The narrow corridors and cubicle farms dumped her into a large courtyard. Debris from the orbital tether were all about, hanging from buildings and crashed on the ground. There were plasma canisters scattered across the plaza. She sniffed the air. Kig-Yar were nearby.

A step forward and beam rifle fired, just barely missing her shoulder. A series of squawks echoed from somewhere above, they were angry but not directed at her. Another cackle, a different voice. Her radio cracked, and she turned it up.

"Sorry, Sangheili, Ren thought you were Jiralhanae." It was one of the Kig-Yar. "I set him straight. We will cover your progress through this sector. The path ahead is clear. This place is cursed."

Naki stepped out and waved to them, then motioned to her COM piece to signal that she understood.

"The gate to right is locked. Path through alley open." The other Kig-Yar said.

She nodded her head and ran up the stairs. The smoldering remains of a Wraith sat beside the melted hull of the Human's Scorpion tank. The alleyway passed through a small residential area, no Humans around as far as she knew. Her motion tracker pinged an unknown nearby.

Naki swung her head, rifle up, and saw a Human trying to back further into the shadows. As their eyes connected, Naki wished she could have overlooked the Human. She was tired of fighting them, and the Human was probably thinking that there was only one way of saving themselves. The Human ran, screaming, out of the darkness.

The Human female jumped at Naki with a small knife. Naki knew that this Human did not have the strength to break her shields with that blade, but she did not want to kill another. The female landed on Naki's arm, and tried in vain to stab her in the neck. The blade just slipped off the shields.

With ease, Naki pulled the Human off of her left arm and pushed her away. "Stop, you cannot harm me with that weapon."

The woman looked around wildly. "W...what? You're not going to kill me? You speak English?!"

Naki slowly nodded. "I am tired of this fight. I am a Scientist, not a warrior."

"What do you mean..?" The woman mumbled. It was obvious that she was terrified.

"The lines in this war have shifted and my compliance with the Covenant is no longer needed." Naki lowered her head. "It will not last and your kind will be safe, finally." The Human's face was full of confusion, and Naki tossed her Needler to the Human's feet. "Take that, it is low on ammunition, but it is better than your blade. Head north, but do not go the way I came, there are Snipers there."

The Human looked at her and then down to the weapon. She grabbed it and stumbled up from the ground. "Th...Thank you." The woman ran into the building and disappeared.

Naki sighed and re-shouldered the duffle bag. The alley ended alongside a main road. As soon as she stepped out, the security gate to her right began to open. She immediately raised her Carbine and prepared to fend off whoever opened the door. However, as the doors fully parted, she saw that no one was there.

One of the screens nearby flashed with an arrow. "Lanes open to all traffic." chimed from an unseen speaker.

"Well... I guess I am going this way..." Naki muttered, walking through and the doors closed behind her.

A big 6 was painted over the security gate. It appeared that the power to this sector was out; thankfully night had not completely fallen yet. There was a lot of structural damage in the buildings around her, fires burned and papers fluttered around. Walking along the road, all she had found were bodies. It looked like someone had come through in the last hour or two and killed all the Covenant in the area.

At the far end of the road, a portable shield emitter had been set up; effectively blocking that end off. The controls for that class of shield were usually synced up to the commander's armor, so it was unlikely that she would be able to disable it. Jiralhanae did not have the codes for such a thing. A high ranking Sangheili must have set it up before the Jiralhanae attacked.

That left her available path options down to one, back into a small alleyway. There were Human bodies here, Marines. But also more Covenant corpses, these Humans did not go down without a fight.

As she crested a hill, she spied something beneath a pedestrian bridge. A dead Sangheili was lying face down in a pool of his own blood. Naki approached cautiously. He had been dead a while, probably a victim of the Jiralhanae surprise attack. There were more bodies in the alcove. Naki counted at least nine spread out. Each of her fellow Sangheili had been killed by the spikes that stuck out from their wounds and the walls around them. The human word Believe had been written in bold letters above them.

She sighed and knelt down in the middle of the massacre. Her fellow brothers, cut down by the Jiralhanae, back stabbed by their fellow Covenant. Sure the Sangheili and Jiralhanae were always at each other's throats, but her kind would never betray that mutual trust in a warzone.
Naki was relieved to find none of her students among the bodies. But it led to another question, where had they gone. Had they gotten off the Mercy and Betrayal before it was too late? She hoped so. Perhaps they had made it aboard the Solemn Penance.

If she had a working headset, then she could make an announcement for them. But her radio had been damaged in the Seraph crash. Then it hit her, there were headsets all around her. However wrong it felt to scavenge from the dead, it would be a leg up on where she was now. Naki pulled the helmet off of an Ultra nearby and disconnected the headset. It was a different model than the one she had, with incompatible parts; she would have to put the whole thing on her head instead of fixing hers. Thankfully the power receptor was universal.

Naki took hers off of her head and plugged the other in. Her armor's communications system indicator went from amber to green, meaning that it was functioning correctly. She tuned the radio to the Ministry of Special Sciences' encrypted frequency, any of her students or interns would have that channel open at all times. "This is Science Major Naki Cimutee of the Mercy and Betrayal. Are there any fellow survivors on this channel?"

The channel hissed and popped, there was nothing answering her call. Naki sighed, it was a long shot, but it was possible that they were somewhere else. The planet's sun had begun to set, casting the city in an orange glow. She should probably be on her way. Naki did not plan on spending the night with the dead.

Naki reached down and retrieved the Ultra's data-pad. It should have the command codes necessary to bypass the energy barriers. She followed her footsteps back down the ramp, though before she could reenter the alley, more signs lit up with arrows pointing towards a maintenance doorway. "Please walk, please walk."

Naki decided to follow them again. Whoever, or whatever, was controlling the signs was not a Jiralhanae, so she believed that it could be trustworthy. Even a Human would be better at this time. The passage way led to the other side of the roll-up gate. The lighting in this area was still out. A massive piece of metal dangled out of the building she was next to and hung down against a garbage truck.

She looked out over the open area and spied a group of Jiralhanae and Unggoy in a small garden area in the middle of a traffic circle. Turrets were mounted behind railings and they had communication towers situated around them. It appeared to be a small field command post. Naki ducked back into the shadows, hoping not to be seen by them.

"I cannot go that way..." Naki muttered.

Beside her, a small ticket kiosk flashed and she glanced over at it. A camera view of her was displayed, but then it switched over to another camera showing a series of energy barriers that were surrounding the traffic circle. A yellow square highlighted them and indicated the barriers as an 'Illegal Traffic Obstruction.'

A small speaker chimed. "Unlock... Unlock."

Naki cocked her head at the screen, how did whatever that was controlling this know that the Ultra's data-pad could do that. Had she been guided towards the pad in the first place?

She took it out of her pocket and brought up the controls. Jiralhanae could not do this, whatever it was had to be on her side. With just a few taps, Naki shut down all the energy barriers in the sector. The Jiralhanae in the traffic circle were confused, they did not understand why their protection had vanished.

A faint rumble beneath Naki's boots started to become more noticeable. A security gate nearby chimed, signaling that it was opening.

A few moments later, a massive Human vehicle rumbled down the hill. It was heading straight for the traffic circle at speeds she did not think a vehicle that size could achieve.

Before the Jiralhanae and Unggoy could react, the tracked vehicle slammed into a cluster of cars. They acted as a ramp for the crawler to roll up, and slam down upon the Covenant. The Jiralhanae were crushed beneath its mass, and the machine destroyed the communications array that was just beyond. It came to a stop, resting on the traffic circle and carnage.

A follow up crawler skidded to a stop, with sparks shooting out from its tracks just behind the first. Naki blinked at the scene. That was not what she had been expecting to see. The screen chimed with a simple circle and two half circle eyes, playing some cheerful tone. "New Mombasa Police thank you for your cooperation."

The screen winked off, and the music stopped. Naki was alone again it seemed.

She hopped over the railing and back down to the roadway. Jogging over to the traffic circle area, Naki glanced back up the road the crawlers had come from and saw the gate was locked once again. Though now that the energy barrier was off, it opened that roadway for her to continue down. Naki did not walk down that street for long, as she soon recognized the position of the cars and the bodies in the street. "Oh gods damn it. I went in a circle..."

The gate ahead she had gone through to get in the sector was locked, but it appeared that the security gate up an incline just behind her was open. "Why does it feel like I am being funneled somewhere..."

Naki walked up to the big security gate, hurrying passed tall barriers and sandbag fortifications. They had been abandoned for a bit; judging by the look of the cooled pools of metal from plasma strikes. The Humans had wished to defend this area for a reason. The small control console flashed while awaiting manual activation, so she slapped the big override switch and the doors slowly hissed open.

Hugging the close wall on her right, Naki crept through the shadows. A massive 10 was painted on one of the walls; Humans had a strange way of numbering their sectors, six led to ten? In what world does that make sense? "Earth... apparently..." she thought.

There was heavy damage to the area, the Humans and the Covenant had fought a sustained battle in this sector and this was a small one. She crept through the Human defense line, one of their Scorpion tanks sat disabled at the top of the rise. It was partially buried in sandbags, turning it into some kind of stationary turret.

That was when she saw it, stamped into the metal of a security gate was the symbol for the Human's Office of Naval Intelligence. Usually she would have panicked, but maybe ONI would be able to get her out of the city... if she surrendered herself that is. Naki was alone, and it was getting less likely that she would be able to get out on her own.

She would be taking a big risk; they could just shoot her on sight. Though, there was that thing that had been guiding her path. Perhaps it was the Humans. Naki stepped around the Human corpses that sat behind their fortifications. The security gates were sealed tight, so there was no way she could get in that way. To her left, the sliding doors sensed her and automatically opened.

"Well, I guess that is the route I am going..." Naki turned and slipped into the building. It was much less imposing than she had expected from monolith that was the Humans' ONI. The lighting was warms and the walls were an earthy granite. A stark contrast from the other ONI installations she had been in. Though, she knew all too well that there were hidden security devices all over the place; and without her data-pad she was going in blind.

She soon realized that this was no more than a large entryway, all the stairs lead down to a single set of doors. They also slid open upon her approach, opening up into a small lobby. Several elevators lined the walls, probably to get to offices in the wall that surrounded the complex. Naki walked in with Carbine raised, there was still nothing here. Slowly, she crept through the empty space. The next set of doors were ahead, but their glass was cracked and polarized to its maximum settings. A faint glow of orange pulsed from the cracks.

Naki deemed that there was no threat in the lobby and quickly pushed on. The doors ahead refused to open. She attempted to push them aside, but it did not move. With a grumble, Naki lifted her foot and kicked the door out from its track. It slammed to the ground; the thick blast proof glass remained intact.

"Well... Shit." Naki sighed. "There went that plan."

The Office of Naval Intelligence building burned. Its facade shattered and crumbling, as massive fires raged inside. She would not have been able to make it there anyway; the bridge had been destroyed by way of demolition charges as far as she could tell.

"...Forget it... I'm going to rest here for a bit." Naki fell back against the wall, and slid down onto her rear. It felt good to finally be off her feet, but she needed a new plan to get to safety now. However, that was a thought for after a little nap.






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