Disclaimer: Halo belongs to Bungie and Microsoft. It's not mine, nor shall it ever be. The characters in these stories are all original, though, and come from my head. Please, if you are intrigued and wish to use them, I am willing to give consent, but do ask, for courtesy sake if nothing else. Thanks!

It was a beautiful morning. The crimson and azure light shown softly over the rough mountains, painting a mural of color across the plain. The far off greens flowed gently in the wind that whistled between the huge rock formations. The natural valley spread out far below between the mountains. Its low rise was crested by fallen boulders, and shadows of the mountain ridges played games with the wandering eye. Big fluffy clouds drifted lazily across the sky, their masses reflecting the colors of the rising suns. The blue and red suns, rising together in the east, sent rays of their light across one another into a rainbow of color.

Arch looked down from the sky, his heart thrumming with anticipation. The soft clouds had reminded him of the gentle ships of his people, floating slowly through space just beyond sight. Sighing, he looked about at his company and companions. He would lead one such as this soon enough, but until then his was to obey, as honor dictated. About him on the shallow precipice lay six other Sangheili, making a Holy Phalanx of 7, the Sacred Number. They would need all the help the gods could offer, and so bought luck at every opportunity.

Three of the Sangheili lay near the edge, their particle rifles beside their heads, eyes pressed to the visual enhancers. Three others stood farther back, carbines in hand, waiting. The seventh was farther up the mountain, carrying both plasma rifle and Sacred Blade. He was their Crimson, and bore the burden of command and Rite on this dirty quest. The communication module, with its large purple slopes, and gentle turns, sat inside the small cave at the back of the precipice. They had been here for two weeks now, on this holy world, living in the dark recesses of the mountains, coming out only to watch, and wait.

Running his hands over the smooth shape of his carbine, and feeling the warmth of the charge canister, and admiring the full charge designator, Lok reflected on his purpose. He had much time to think on this Quest.

It had been two weeks ago when he had received word of an assignment. His Blood Family had anticipated his first Quest, but to be chosen for such an honorable one as this was astounding. His first quest out of initiation into the warrior caste of his people, having just earned his name through the Trials, and already he was chosen for a prominent Quest. It did not matter to him that it was his uncle and Lord Teacher that had chosen him as part of the Quest, or that he would be part of Miyn Ketmee's Phalanx, only that he was going to go and face the Enemy, and that was all that mattered.

The day of Passage came to hand, and he entered the Phantom to be taken up with the other initiates, glistening in their azure armor, bristling with anticipation and pent up excitement. He had not yet received his Arms of Honor, but was certain his would be worthy of his family. He would one day protect the prophets and endure as one of the Honor Guards of the Sacred Circle, wearing the ornate red ceremonial armor and crest of those esteemed warriors. This day, though, he would be Lok Dakamee, and he would be a warrior of the Covenant.

They had not told him that he was to be part of a Watchful Eye Quest, or that he would be hard dropped from space in a Consecrated Insertion Pod. Or that he would eat rations of food chaks for two weeks, or that he would probably never face the enemy. This still did not matter. The Cruiser, Sacred Trust, had passed close the planet, and released its holy cargo of pods, 49 in all. The seven teams, chosen from the most patient and honorable of Sangheili, reached the planet, and screamed into the atmosphere. Instantly, the tongue of death reached out to strike the small pods and their precious cargo. The Infidel's weapons reached far but were weak compared to the Faith of the Covenant. The energy shields and thick composite armor of the pods preached their strength, and only five pods failed to reach their surface sanctuary. Splitting open on impact, the occupants quickly moved to cover, and began trying to contact one another, all but two. One of those two was Miyn's Phalanx, Lok's Phalanx. These two fled quickly into the mountains with their heavy communication modules, and weighty gear. From there they remained, the Eye of the Prophets, ever vigilant to the movements of the Enemy, ever watchful of the Infidel's and their primitive machines.

Movement caught Lok's attention, snapping him out of his reverie. He scratched at a bug on his arm, and looked over to his comrades. The three on their stomachs slithered back like Chuka Snakes, and stood. Miyn Ketmee returned soon after.

"The Infidels continue to arrive. They grow more numerous with each Sun Pass. Soon they will be as many as the grass that grows in this valley, and we shall be forced to cleanse them from the Heavens, instead of here, as Honor demands. Why have we not moved? Why do the Prophets keep us here?" Fausla Esmee was never afraid of expressing his thoughts. The rest of us knew how to keep our mouths shut. Miyn looked up from his Guide Eye, catching the eyes of Fausla.

"Heresy leaks like water in your soul. You should watch your shadow, lest it reach out and bite your back at the battles greatest moment. In victory, you beg the gods for defeat? Do not trifle me with your whining, Esmee, and remember your place. There is a reason you wear the skin of azure. Do not think your station something that it is not."

Fausla drew away from the eyes of Ketmee, trying to become small, invisible. It did not work.

"We will report with what we have found. The Prophets believed that an immediate Eye was necessary to watch these Infidels. I have faith that they have vision, and so I watch. The Prophets are wise, they would not waste our lives or honor if it was not necessary." Ketmee slowly turned, looking each Sangheili in the eyes. The moment danced silently in the wind, and then passed. With a flourish, Miyn disappeared into the cave. The others spread out, Fausla Esmee and Mort Shatomee went into the cave after Miyn, to guard his spirit during the brief commune with the Master Commander onboard the cruiser above. Shir Mesmee crawled back onto the ground and brought her weapon back to her eye. The round flukes of her helmet, denoting her gender, glistened in the light of the morning, and reminded Lok of the early rise at the waters edge of his Blood Family's station back on the home world. He missed it, but only for a moment. Lok was too old, and far too courageous for memories to bother him.

The hard drop had been wonderful. The rush of adrenaline was intense as the planets gravity caught his pod like a Lokgolo's vice grip and pulled him into freefall, the air screaming against the grooves of the pod, creating an eerie moaning. The Cry of the Fallen, it was called. Honor to the dead of a thousand landings. His mind had focused on that sound, his heart pounding in his ears, thrumming the life through his body. Such courage it must take, to do this into an actual battle, he thought vaguely. The crack of Infidel weapons had pulled him from his thoughts, threatening to grab onto his soul and wrench it from this realm into the lands beyond, where he would serve the gods as a soldier to forever battle the Blasphemous. It was not his time, though, and soon the hum of the grav reductors overpowered the sounds of flak. With a loud THUNK! the pod made landfall, and the front blew off to expose the darkness of night. It took only minutes to find his Phalanx and enter the mountain.

Lok laid himself down next to Shir, and brought his Carbine up to his eye. The scent of sin wafted up from the valley. There below lay the base of the Enemy. It was in four structures, one an armored vehicle barracks, another half sunken into the soft earth, filled with soldiers, and covered on top by rotating turrets to fire down the holy warriors craft. The other two consisted of a listening post, its high tower set full of communication and sensor equipment, and the fourth housed a large weapon, capable of firing upon the ships of the holy Covenant beyond the planets orbit. That was not why they were here. They were here for something else.

Miyn returned, dread in his voice.

"The Master Commander wishes for a prisoner to answer his questions. Once that is accomplished, we are to cleanse the large cannon of the Infidels, and rain holy fire upon their fragile bodies. The blessed army of the Covenant requires a place to land, and they could not fly close enough to release landing craft with the cannon operational. We are not Ivory Sangheili, masters of shadow, but we have been granted a quest worthy of our trials." The small cruiser, Sacred Trust, carried upon it only 98 Sangheili, and the only veteran members needed to remain with the Master Commander for his final attack upon the Infidels. Therefore, the only Sangheili available were already on the ground, in position. They had air dropped in at night. If they had taken Phantoms, the humans would have picked up the energy signatures from afar. As it were, the seven Phalanxes had closed around the human installation, dodging patrols and open ground, waiting for the word.

The Sangheili gathered back into the cave, and charged their weapons and shields. They would wait until nightfall, when the eyes of the Infidels became weak. Miyn Ketmee prepared his plasma rifles, while the others spread out carbines and particle rifles. Each took two plasma grenades, silently blessing their fortune for the weapons of the gods. They settled down, the seven warriors, to wait and rest for the night's battle. This night, there would be great glory, or horrible defeat.