Disclaimer: I own nothing Halo related, except for my characters.
Note: I have decided to change around the end of I Am The Last a little bit. Instead of things starting off right away with Regret's invasion I'm going to do a bit of interaction between 'Zakamee's Covenant and the Humans on board Cairo station. I'm sorry to all you people out there that wanted more action. Also, I'm going to have to tell you when the scene shifts and whatnot because Fanfiction's auto-correct is an ass.
"So what you are saying," said 'Zakamee, "Is that the sacred rings are not devices that will culminate in the Great Journey but are instead weapons of last resort used by the Forerunners, the very beings my people hold sacred?"
"Yes." said the Human intelligence officer, Captain Robert Iverson.
'Zakamee shook his head slowly. "This knowledge goes against all I have ever known and been taught. You do understand that I cannot believe such outrageous claims without real evidence. This all goes against the very fabric of my being, the very reason that the Covenant was formed."
'Zakamee's voice had grown heated by the end of that statement but he decided to hold the rest of his anger in. Enraging his Human hosts would not be wise in light of his continued survival.
"I know that this is hard for you to believe. Your men had similar reactions, although the Grunts were less emotional," replied Captain Iverson.
'Zakamee's brow furrowed, "What do you mean, 'less emotional'?"
Captain Iverson leaned back in his chair, secure in the knowledge that he had scored a point off the Elite. "What I mean is that the Grunts were a lot more pragmatic and less zealous then you and the other Elites I talked too. Especially the ones named Grgra and Cacar. Their place in the Covenant was low enough to have escaped most of the religious dogma and propaganda that the Prophet's used to such effect against your kind. In fact, some tentative questioning revealed a deep contempt for your people and the Prophets from most of the Grunts."
'Zakamee was stunned, his mandibles working noiselessly. He had never known that the Grunts had hated the Covenant so. Of course, now that 'Zakamee thought about it, he remembered numerous occasions during which Grunts were treated little better than dogs. The most vibrant memory in his mind was his final test at his academy. He and his class of nine other Elites were given the task of acquiring a flag guarded by a large number of Grunts. The cadets were issued live plasma weapons for the test, an event that 'Zakamee questioned. 'Zakamee had been told that the Grunts were heretics and so were slated for death anyway, whether it came from the executioner's plasma spikes or the cadets' rifles did not matter. So when the time came, 'Zakamee killed them as mercilessly as he would any other enemy of the Covenant.
The thing that troubled him now was one event during that test. 'Zakamee had been rooting out the last of the Grunts in the upper level of the building that the flag was in. He and his classmates had decided amongst themselves to kill all of these heretical Grunts. During his search, 'Zakamee found a Grunt cowering in a corner. 'Zakamee had been about to strike the blasphemous heretic down when the Grunt cried out and pleaded for mercy. When 'Zakamee demanded to know why a condemned heretic like the Grunt should be spared the Grunt told him a disturbing tale. According to the Grunt, he and his comrades were just part of an infantry file that had been ordered to occupy this structure by order of their commander. He said they only fired upon the Elites because the Elites had struck first, killing some of their brood brothers.
'Zakamee had figured that the Grunts had reacted slowly because they were paralyzed by fear. After all, what mere Grunt would want to face the holy wrath of the Covenant's greatest warriors? 'Zakamee ended up killing the Grunt anyway, so as not to appear weak in front of his peers. In fact, he even told his classmates what the Grunt had said and they had all laughed at the lies of a doomed and desperate heretic. 'Zakamee had forgotten this incident until now and it took on a horrible new light. If the Prophets had lied so glibly about such a minor thing as that, what else could they have done? 'Zakamee's entire life as a warrior had been about blind obedience and religious fervor. Now that he was away from the Prophet's almost continuous sermons about the Great Journey and his fellow warriors and the need to prove himself the best by following every order and doing so to the best of his ability he seriously began to doubt his former convictions.
'Zakamee lowered his head to the dark wood table and lightly bashed it against the unyielding surface. He let out a low groan of anguish as he did this. It isn't everyday that doubt is cast upon your entire way of life and things you had taken for granted until now become exposed as the horrible lies that they are. Captain Iverson looked surprised by 'Zakamee's actions but quickly recovered. He hid a smirk behind an upraised hand and picked up the nearby phone. He dialed the number for his contact in ONI and waited impatiently for the few seconds it took to be picked up.
"What?" said the gravely voice on the other end.
"This is Artifice 1. I've been debriefing the leader of the Covenant defectors and have made some headway that I haven't in the others."
The voice on the other end perked up in interest, "How so?"
"I believe I have got him seriously doubting his Prophets."
"Good, good. Keep me updated as to your progress."
"Confirmed. Artifice 1, out."
Captain Iverson, or Artifice 1, hung up the phone and looked at the Elite sitting in front of him. The alien had slumped back in his chair and was staring at the wall with what appeared to be a blank look on his face. Iverson had to wave his hand in front of Balask 'Zakamee's face a couple of times before the Elite's head snapped up and focused on him once again.
"Anything else you would like to tell me?" said the alien, his voice full of bitterness.
"No, I think that will be all for today. I would like to continue our discussion of the merits of your vehicles versus the advantages of ours but that conversation should continue after Chief Tech Cargyle returns from planet side," answered Iverson.
'Zakamee sighed and stood up. "If that is all, then I shall take my leave. You have given me much to think about."
Iverson merely nodded as 'Zakamee pushed his chair in and left the office, followed by his ever present Marine guards. Iverson waited until the door closed and then reached into a drawer for the Elite's files. He opened up the thin folder and reviewed the information there. What was known of the Elite Balask 'Zakamee was that he has been a warrior of the Covenant for three years. He had been promoted to the ranks of the, in 'Zakamee's words, 'overly paranoid' Stealth Corps one year ago but his only significant engagements were on the Halo that was destroyed by the Master Chief, Spartan 117.
According to 'Zakamee's report, he had escaped the destruction of the Halo inside of a compromised Wraith tank and was recovered by the Covenant flagship Ascendant Justice moments before the Master Chief and the remaining Human survivors seized control of it. Also, several of the other Covenant defectors said they were survivors of Halo, two Elites called Orine 'Fulsamee and Yarna 'Orgalmee, and the Grunt Rurut. Their story had them escaping in a damaged Phantom dropship. Personally, Iverson doubted their stories were that fantastic, but then again the Master Chief had escaped on a Longsword taken from the Flood infested Pillar of Autumn and the other survivors, all dead now, escaped in a Pelican.
In 'Zakamee's file, it was also mentioned that his new black Spec Ops armor was his, only due to the fact that his Stealth Corps armor was irretrievably damaged in an encounter with the Master Chief and the other Spartans. Another note of interest was the knife that 'Zakamee kept on him. While the Elite was unconscious in the infirmary UNSC scientists had studied the blade and attempted to determine what made the blade so damned sharp. Sure it couldn't hold a candle up to the power of those devastating plasma swords the Elites loved so much but plasma in and of itself was a very dangerous substance. The combat knife that was currently back in 'Zakamee's possession had the cutting power of a plasma sword without any detectable technological advances. It was the opinion of the science team that the blade was a relic of the Forerunners and an example of their technological superiority.
Iverson closed 'Zakamee's file with a snap. He would continue to subvert the Elite until Iverson deemed him ready to participate in the mission that ONI was considering. If the Elite proved willing enough…Iverson smiled. The Covenant leaders wouldn't know what hit them.
'Zakamee stalked though the Cairo's hallways, Human personel took one look at his face and determined stride and couldn't get out of his way fast enough. 'Zakamee was looking forward to getting back to what was referred to as the "Alien Barracks" and back to where things made sense again. His guards, Private First Class Mendez and Baker, were chatting with each other as they walked along behind him. 'Zakamee had caused no more trouble after the brief debacle in which he had walked down the halls in search of his armor. At that time the presence of the Covenant on the station had been a closely guarded secret and 'Zakamee blew it all the moment he woke up.
The memory lightened his mode somewhat; all of the important Human officials, all dressed up like so many plumed Dubna birds, trailing in his wake like disoriented fighters in the wake of a capital ship. The thought drew his attention to his guards. The two, PFC Paul Mendez and PFC Clarrisa Baker, had been assigned to him the whole week he had been awake and had grown uncommonly close to one another over the past few days. The were always prim and proper when an officer walked by but the minute he or she was gone - 'Zakamee suppressed a shudder at female soldiers, he just couldn't comprehend some aspects of Human culture - the two would start talking and joking with one another. Occasionally they included 'Zakamee in their conversations and he was glad for the differing opinions they gave.
Such an occurrence was not for today, though as they were engrossed in each other as never before. 'Zakamee reached the entrance to his barracks and they walked off to sit with several other guards near the door. Slightly miffed, 'Zakamee opened the door and stepped inside. The first thing that hit him was the faint smell of methane; one of the Grunts tanks must have been leaking again. The next thing he noticed was the babble of voices coming from the central table. A number of Humans were sitting around the table and teaching the Covenant gathered around them the intricacies of the game called 'poker'. They were playing with colorful chips the marines had brought with them and by the looks of things, Cacar was cleaning house.
"God damn it, man!" exclaimed one Sergeant, "How the hell did you get so good at this game?"
Cacar raked in the bet he had just won and shrugged. "I guess I just have Fate on my side is all." Fate being a minor religion among Grunts that the Prophets discouraged, but tolerated.
As the Grunts chattered about Cacar's latest win and the Sergeant sighed and dealt out another hand, 'Zakamee walked around the table to where a lone Elite stood staring out of the view port at the Human's home world, Earth. Drak 'Jasakee turned his head slightly as 'Zakamee's approach but returned to his gazing just as quickly. As 'Zakamee walked up to the Elite, 'Jasakee spoke.
"It is frustrating, is it not?" asked 'Jasakee. 'Zakamee had a good idea about what 'Jasakee was talking about but decided to humor the easily irritable Elite.
"What is so frustrating, 'Jasakee?"
'Jasakee gestured angrily at the blue globe hanging outside the window. "That. We are so close to the home world of our most hated enemy and we cannot do a single thing to it. We do not have an army to invade it nor a fleet to conquer it. That is what is frustrating."
"I understand your pain, 'Jasakee," agreed 'Zakamee, "But the Humans are our allies now. If we had an army of our brethren they would be as likely to attack us as they would the Humans."
"You are not telling me all of it."
"True. Our Human hosts have told me many things. The most important of which is the fact that the sacred rings are only weapons of mass destruction. That the Prophets have been lying to us from the beginning."
"Ha!" laughed 'Jasakee, "The Human officer told me the same lies. I did not believe it for a second. The Prophets would not lie to us. Us, their eternal protectors; sooner would a Hunter learn to speak then such a thing to happen."
'Zakamee than told 'Jasakee about what the Human had said about the Grunts and what he had remembered from his last day of training.
"Bah!" exclaimed 'Jasakee when 'Zakamee had finished, "Those Grunts were heretics and no doubt about it. Shows they were even more cowardly than the normal breed when that heretic attempted to feed you such a ridiculous lie."
'Zakamee heard what was said but he could see in 'Jasakee's eyes that he was deeply troubled by this information, but the other Elite's pride refused to let him show it. 'Zakamee nodded to 'Jasakee and walked back to the main table. The poker game had ended and the Humans were cleaning up. When they left, the five marines promised to come back next week. The Sergeant also promised bloody revenge on Cacar if the Grunt didn't lose a bit when he got back. Cacar merely grinned and waved, as did a few other Grunts.
With the Humans, and thus their source of entertainment, removed, the Grunts separated into little groups and talked amongst themselves. The other Elites were off somewhere else in the station and 'Jasakee was still sulking, so 'Zakamee lay down on his uncomfortable Human bed - it was way too soft - and reached for the book he had been reading. For the next hour or so 'Zakamee was immersed in the world of Beowulf and the fascinating archaic language that it was written in. It was completely unlike the Human language that existed today.
Shuffling footsteps approached 'Zakamee and the Elite reluctantly put down his book. He was at the part where Grendal dies, but duty called. Grgra was stumping over to him so 'Zakamee rolled to his feet and accepted the white armored Grunt's salute.
"Hello, excellency." Grgra began, knowing how 'Zakamee hated being called that, "I have something important to report."
'Zakamee perked up. Nothing really interesting had happened during his whole stay on Cairo station and so this was a welcome surprise. He motioned for Grgra to continue.
"The other Grunts and I, with some collaboration with your Elite's, have come up with a name for our unit. I believe it aptly sums up our situation."
"What is it then?" asked 'Zakamee.
"We have decided to call ourselves the Oathbreakers. Also, to make sure our Human allies don't shoot us accidentally I proposed some liberal application of different paint schemes."
'Zakamee had tuned out Grgra after he gave 'Zakamee their new name. As the Grunt kept talking away, 'Zakamee rolled the name around in his mouth, testing the feel of it.
He liked it.