The powerful backhand smashed the orange armored Grunt across the hallway where its flight was halted by the durasteel bulkhead. The impact flattened the alien's methane tank and the super-cooled gas sprayed out of the ruptured container. The Grunt, its back broken, gurgled quietly for a few seconds until shock and lack of air stilled its breathing. Meanwhile, the Oathbreakers continued to fight on behalf of their human allies. 'Zakamee waved his hand around to relieve the sting from hitting the Grunt with such strength. The reason for 'Zakamee's fierce attack huddled in a crook in the wall where one bulkhead met another. The human female was staring at 'Zakamee with a mixture of confusion and terror on her face.
"You all right?" queried a small voice from behind 'Zakamee.
"I am fine, Grgra." he said to the Grunt behind him, "It just never gets any easier."
The two were speaking in the Covenant common tongue and so the human was tracking the conversation by watching their mouths move. 'Zakamee motioned for Grgra and the other four Grunts of his half-rank to continue on; 'Zakamee then turned slowly walked toward the human. He kept his hands away from the plasma rifle and shotgun he had acquired during the fight. As he knelt down in front of the human, she flinched, anticipating a deathblow.
"Calm yourself, human." spoke 'Zakamee in English, "I am not here to hurt you."
The woman just gaped at 'Zakamee, clearly unable to comprehend why an Elite was speaking to her in her own language.
"If you proceed down that corridor-" 'Zakamee pointed down the passage his half-rank had just emerged from, "-then you will find a detachment of Marines waiting to escort you and any other survivors to a safe place near the interior of the ship. Go quickly, I cannot predict when another Covenant patrol could venture into that area again."
His duty done, 'Zakamee straightened up and turned to follow Grgra and the others. He drew his plasma rifle and checked down both turns before moving forward. Behind him, he heard a whispered "Thank you" and then a scrambling noise as the human ran off. 'Zakamee nodded to himself and activated the Covenant BattleNet. Instantly, reports and cries for help in a variety of Covenant dialects poured into his helmet's receivers. 'Zakamee grimaced as he lowered the volume of the radio. His team had found out that they could still access the BattleNet and therefore learn about Covenant plans easily. The only problem was that the sophisticated network forgot all of 'Zakamee's set preferences when he turned it off. Narrowing his search, 'Zakamee isolated the high-priority transmissions coming to and from the Cairo.
"Curse these humans to the blackest depths of the abyss! We walked right into-"
"Requesting reinforcements in section 3D of the human platform, we were attacked by the Demon and-"
"The bomb is almost in place, soon these unholy scum will be wiped from the face of the universe."
'Zakamee froze when he heard that last transmission. There was a bomb on the station, which certainly changed things. A few more seconds spent listening to that band resulted in 'Zakamee learning that the bomb and its guardians were heading to a small docking bay near the center of the Cairo. The Elite flipped off the BattleNet and ran toward Grgra and the other Grunts. They saw him coming and automatically scattered and took up defensive positions, obviously expecting to see a horde of enemies pursuing their commander.
"What's wrong, Excellency?" cried one of the Grunts as 'Zakamee skidded to a halt.
"We need to find one of the Marines," gasped 'Zakamee as he kept running, "They have a bomb!"
The Grunts looked at one another for a moment and then Grgra bashed one of them on the head.
"You heard the boss! Let's go!" ordered Grgra. Running as fast as they could, the Grunts hurried to catch up with their commander.
Hearing the sounds of gunfire ahead, 'Zakamee swerved down a side corridor and came up to a partially blocked doorway. Through the unobscured portion, 'Zakamee saw a line of Marines firing down the corridor. As Grgra and his Grunts came up from behind, one of the Marines tossed a frag grenade toward whatever Covenant they were shooting at. In the midst of the throwing motion, the Marine private had turned his head just enough to see 'Zakamee framed in between the barrier and the top of the door. As the grenade exploded, the private raised his rifle and fired at 'Zakamee while shouting for his comrades to help.
The bullets pinging off his shields, 'Zakamee ducked and deactivated his plasma rifle. Waving the shut off weapon above his head, 'Zakamee announced that he was on the Marine's side and wouldn't open fire.
"The only good Covie is a dead Covie!" screamed one corporal as he fired a burst that snatched 'Zakamee's rifle from his hand.
Deciding that discretion was the better part of valor, 'Zakamee shouted back that the Covenant were placing a bomb on the station and then he and the Grunts high-tailed it out of there before the Marine's started tossing grenades. Exiting the corridor, 'Zakamee checked the BattleNet and tried to find the locations of the rest of the Oathbreakers. Just now, splitting into individual ranks didn't seem like such a good idea. Tapping Grgra on the shoulder, 'Zakamee gestured down a passage.
"In that direction is some heavy fighting. I believe Yarna's rank is involved and there has also been intermittent contact with the Demon." said the Elite.
"Then we should lend our assistance," replied Grgra.
Up in the bustle of the Cairo's command bridge, Admiral Hood was receiving a report from a Marine squad with a disturbing story. The Admiral turned to one of the ensigns manning a sensor station and issued an order.
"Ensign! Scan the entire station for a large explosive. If you find anything, tell the Master Chief immediately."
"Yes, sir!" snapped back the ensign as he furiously began typing commands into the computer.
However, just after the ensign had begun his search, another disturbing report came in from another ensign.
"Admiral Hood! It looks like the Malta has fought off their boarders!"
A few other officers started a cheer but Hood just got a cold feeling in the pit of his stomach. Seconds later, the Malta exploded. The Athens followed soon afterward.
"Come on, people. Find that bomb! Let's prove that bad luck does not come in threes!" ordered the Admiral and then he mused to himself, "Those Covenant traitors might turn out to be useful after all."