|The Secret of Cluster
Author: Dan Steinbarge PM
A single SPARTAN-II and two Marines are trapped in the middle of a Covenant invasion. With rescue far off, will they survive long enough to warn the other Colonies of the advancing Covenant armada?Rated: Fiction T - English - Sci-Fi/Adventure - Chapters: 5 - Words: 9,623 - Reviews: 7 - Favs: 2 - Follows: 5 - Updated: 10-11-07 - Published: 07-12-07 - id: 3653798
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
IMPORTANT NOTE: Whenever the story follows the perspective of the Covenant, I will be using the Covenant names. For quick reference, these are the names of the Species in Covenant Speak: Sangheili/Elites. Unngoy/Grunts. Kig-Yar/Jackals. Lekgolo/Hunters. San 'Shyuum/Prophets. Huragok/Engineer.
Ninth Age of Reclamation
Aboard the Piercing Light, Flagship of the fleet Cleansing Crusade
"How long must these humans resist us?" Uran 'Palmamee sighed as he placed his hands on the communications console. He had been the Fleet Master of the Cleansing Crusade since they had begun their search for a mysterious 'holy relic.' It remained mysterious, only because the San 'Shyuum kept the nature of the relic secret from the Sangheili high council.
"Great one, there is a messenger from the ground side forces that wishes to speak with you." Uran turned to see the Ship Master, Uman Zerumee, on bent knee before him.
"Rise," Uran said. "In times like these, such pointless formalities are simply a waste of time."
"My apologies, Great one," Uman said as he rose to his feet. "There is a Major wishing to speak with you about some important development with the excavation."
"What is the nature of the development?"
"He wouldn't say. However, he did say it was urgent, and that he could only speak with you."
Uran again sighed deeply. "Very well. Send him to the Meeting Chamber. I will join him shortly."
"As you wish, Great one," Uman said, as he turned to a group of Unngoy that stood nearby. "Go to the docks, and inform Dam'no 'Terunee that he is to report to the Meeting Chamber."
The Unngoy all replied with a hasty "Yes, Mighty one," as they scurried off the Command deck to their new assignment. When they had left, Uman turned his attention back to the Fleet Master.
"What do you believe he has to say?"
"I cannot be sure, and it would be foolishness to venture a guess at this point. Such useless pondering only serves as an unnecessary distraction."
Uran brushed past the Ship Master, bumping him with his shoulder as he headed for the door. As it beeped and slid open, Uran grasped the door frame, and stopped. Turning his head slightly, he said, "And I do not believe it is wise for you to waste your time in such a way, either."
With that, Uran left the Command deck, and headed down the twisting corridors of the Piercing Light's interior. It was only in passing that he could take in the wonders of the inner workings of the ship. The alloy that lined the walls, floor and ceiling were thin, but incredibly strong.
The alloy was also resistant to intense heat, making it the ideal secondary armor against the humans high-density metal bolts that seemed to make up their warship's only form of artillery. The weapons were crude, inefficient, and to a high degree, ineffective. But when in high enough numbers, even the Piercing Light could not withstand a barrage of the humans cannons.
The passageways and many of the chambers also seemed unnecessarily cavernous. So much empty space made the Fleet Master nervous. He longed for the days when he was able to see the enemies that he was annihilating. His right hand tingled with delight as he remembered the way his energy blade felt, gripped in his hand as he slew humans and heretics alike. But now, the gold armor he wore that most Sangheili would feel was an honor to wear, felt to him, almost like a curse.
Uran turned a corner, and the doors to the Meeting chamber opened with a hiss. Within stood and unusually muscular Sangheili. His crimson armor, gleaming under the glow of the single overhead light, gave hint to his rank as a Major. As the Major turned, he quickly dropped to one knee and introduced himself: "Great One, I am Major Dam'no 'Terunee. I have an important matter I must discuss with you."
"Rise," Uran said. "Speak your words."
"Great One, I have a very important data crystal you must see."
Quickly, Dam'no strode to an unlit console on a far wall. As he approached, the console flickered to life, seeming almost to sense his presence, and react to it.
Dam'no slid the data crystal into a slot in the console, and a large, three dimensional video feed appeared in the center of the Meeting Chamber. The feed depicted a heavily vegetated, narrow trench. At one end was the impromptu encampment made by his forces, and the other was a severely battered human encampment.
"This is what you came all this way to show me?" Uran asked.
"Yes, Great One. Watch."
The video feed began to play. A patrol of Sangheili Minors were suddenly obliterated by several crude explosives. This caught the attention of the rest of the Sangheili within the camp, who then ran to investigate. Uran watched in horror as nearly a hundred of his warriors were cut down by even larger explosions. Only half a dozen survived, who continued along the narrow trench toward the human camp.
"Stop the video," Uran said, disgusted. "I've seen enough."
The video stopped, and then faded, as Dam'no removed the data crystal, and the console lights dimmed once again.
"What was the meaning of that?" Uran asked.
"That," Dam'no said, "Was the ambush and ensuing slaughter of all the Sangheili troops assigned to guard the camp. As of that moment, the only ones left on the whole planet are the ones assigned to guard the dig site."
"What are you getting at, Major? You waste precious time with your talk."
"The humans responsible for the attack attempted to enter the dig site, but were spotted by our perimeter guards."
"I assume they got away. Otherwise, you wouldn't need to be here."
"Yes, Great one. As you surmised, they managed to escape. They were last seen at a rocky outcropping along the inner perimeter of the dig site."
Uran paced the floor. This was a sudden change. A group of humans were able to wipe out the majority of the Sangheili presence on the ground, and breeched the security ring around the dig site. With so few Sangheili commanders on the ground, the coherence of the ground side troops would quickly dissolve. More would need to be moved in.
"The solution is clear," Uran said. "We must send in a strike team to seek out and eliminate the humans. They must not find the artifact."
"Agreed, Great one," Dam'no replied. "However, may I make a suggestion as to the team's make up?"
"I suggest a group of Special Operations Sangheili, Unngoy Ultras, and at least a single pair of Elite Lekgolo."
Uran was shocked at the suggestion. "What is the purpose behind so many specialist warriors?" Uran questioned. "Any team will do."
"Normally, Great one, I would agree. However, these humans are led by something we have only recently encountered in their forces."
Dam'no jogged over to the console, and slid in another data crystal. Another video feed came into view. Within a cluster of rocks, two human soldiers crouched, their primitive weapons leveled. But there was a third.
This third was much larger, and encased in a green, reflective armor. As the video played, the green-clad human, leaped forward, and began to wrestle with a cloaked Sangheili warrior. In just a few seconds, the human's compatriot had killed the warrior. The green-clad human then looted the Sangheili warrior's body, took his weapons, and again crouched with the other two.
The video froze, then faded, as Dam'no removed the data crystal.
"Moments after this video was recorded," Dam'no said, "the ground underneath them gave way, and they all fell into the maze of corridors beneath. Until we access the layout of the facility from the core, we won't know where they are."
"How close are you to unearthing the core?" Uran asked.
"We are but hours away. I would wager that by the time I return to the site, it will already be unearthed. When we do, we will know exactly where the humans are located."
Dam'no drew a few paces closer to the Fleet Master.
"Great one, you are the only one with the authority to assemble such a powerful group of warriors. But it is essential that they are ready to be deployed when the humans are found."
Uran pondered this. He would need to scour the fleet's personnel in order to find the warriors Dam'no was requesting. But he was right. He was the only one with the authority to make such a request.
"Well, then," Uran said, with a sigh, "they shall all meet you at the center of the dig. However, you will accompany them in their search, as their newly promoted Commander."
Dam'no bowed his head. "I thank you, Great one," he said, as he knelt. "I will not disappoint you."
Uran left the Meeting Chamber, and found himself invigorated. The idea of a warrior worthy of such a powerful team of specialist troops reminded him of the first battle he took part in. He was to quell a heretic uprising on a lunar station near his home planet. He faced fierce warriors, all of which had experience far beyond his own. And yet, the thought of superior warriors did not frighten him; on the contrary, he found it exciting.
And so the idea of this human requiring such special attention – the feeling was amazing.
Uran strode on to the command deck of the Piercing Light, his head held high. As he entered, he handed the Sangheili at the communications console a data pad.
"I want you to hail the personnel commanders aboard all the remaining ships in the fleet," Uran said, "requesting they send us information on the types of troops listed there."
The Sangheili scrolled through the list, and gasped. "What could possibly warrant such a powerful team?"
Uran laughed, and collapsed into his seat at the center of the command deck.
"It's for a human," he said. "A single human."