This is Baeowulf again! This is the debut of another story, this one on Halo: The Ring! First off, this is a covenant centric story, and as such, there are some things that I should say about the different characters and races.
First off, I am assuming that all covenant races aside from the M'Glek'golo and drones are primate-mammal base with certain characteristics of other animals. I have a couple reasons for this; one is that all of them have opposable thumbs and stand upright: skeletal formation of hands is unique to mammals (research into the embryos of cats, dogs, and marine mammals show that their skeletons actually form hands before conforming to the animals' actual body shape), and the only mammals that stand are primates. Also, they all have the ability to perform combat in arctic environments with no apparent extra gear to insulate and promote body heat. Also, they all have a cerebrum, a trait unique to mammals. As such, I portray the covenant races with essentially a basic human anatomy. I also assume that when the Covenant/Human war ended, the Covenant races split, with the Shan'Shyuum and the Jiralhanae on one side, and all the others forming a pact with the Humans and becoming a system called the Alliance. In this new system, I assume that each world would have a rapid influx of trade goods with the alien worlds trading to the earth and earth trading to the alien worlds, so expect quite a few references to earth-bound products and trends showing among covenant races, especially the Sangheili, because of their especially close-knit ties with the humans, and the Kig-Yar, because of their habits of raiding and piracy, as such causing them to adapt to new styles quickly. Also, some info on the races: Sangheili (Elites) have two hearts, and blue blood, possibly colored this way because their hemoglobin could be dimetallic, meaning it could possibly contain cobalt, which is blue. Also, the Kig-Yar (jackals) have a natural odor of sulfur. They tend to be left handed (though Zek and Jyn are both ambidextrous), and only the males possess spines (the females possess a kind of hardened hide in the spots where males have spines, namely the scalp and forearms, for protection from said spines during mating), and the spines change color based on the current mood of the Kig-Yar.
Now that we have the specifics out of the way, on with the show!
R'vek Kehrim'ee crouched in the trench, clutching a plasma rifle to his chest. His hearts pounded, adrenaline coursing through his veins. He was a Sangheili minor, barely inducted into the military, and already he could hear the dying screams of his comrades as they fell on the battlefield. He poked his head out from the trench, and his eyes widened in fear. Sangheili, others of his noble race, rampaged across the battlefield, killing any human troops they encountered, only to be crushed beneath the wheels of the Warthogs that sped across the barren wasteland or under the treads of the trundling Scorpions. Banshees and Phantoms sped through the air, viciously combating scores of Hornets and Pelicans, craft on each side plummeting to the ground in raging balls of flame. Unggoy stampeded crazily over the killing fields, and Kig-Yar hid behind their glowing energy shields or crouched with beam rifles on the many tall outcroppings that ringed the combat zone. The ground was stained blue and red from the blood of humans and Covenant alike, and gore covered the barren soil. R'vek took a deep breath, and leaped out of the trench, gripping a plasma grenade in his left hand while steadying his plasma rifle in his right. He saw a Sangheili major surrounded by a group of humans – holding them off, but in desperate need of assistance – and headed towards the soldiers. "Major! Get down!" he shouted, and hurled the plasma grenade into the group. The other Sangheili heard R'vek's cry of warning, and jumped out of the group, turning a complete back flip before he landed. The grenade fastened itself to the helmet of an armored ODST, and the man cried out in surprise just a moment before the small, blue ball exploded. A bright white flash exploded from the grenade, instantly incinerating the armored ODST. The human soldiers screamed as the light tore through their flesh, and their bodies exploded. The Sangheili major jumped to his feet, and ran over to where R'vek stood.
"What's your name, brother?" he shouted over the din of gunfire. Already human forces had begun to converge on their position, and the two Sangheili warriors stood back-to-back at the top of the plasma scorched hill.
"R'vek Kehrim'ee, sir!" R'vek shouted back, shooting a marine in the chest.
"Well then, R'vek, let's try to get out of here alive!" The Sangheili major un-holstered and activated an energy sword, the ancient Sangheili weapon's blade snapping to life with a loud shock. "Tell me; how many battles have you been in, R'vek?"
"This is my first!" shouted R'vek, putting bolts of plasma in the skulls of two human soldiers while dodging a burst of fire from a human firearm. The major grunted in reply, and darted off into the crowd of humans. R'vek couldn't pay attention to him; he had his own battles to fight. R'vek brought his rifle to bear, firing into the masses of enemies, slowly making his way towards the human base. He fired left and right, a human soldier falling with each shot. Bullets ricocheted off of R'vek's shields, and suddenly he felt a sharp pain in his leg. He looked down, and saw a trickle of his own blue blood dripping down his thigh. R'vek's face paled. He turned and ran, only to find himself surrounded. R'vek grimaced, and leaped into the crowd, smashing his opponents' skulls with the butt of his rifle, firing shots into their growing number. Bullets tore through his flesh, and finally R'vek dropped to one knee, clutching his side in anguish. Suddenly, there was a huge crash. The humans turned, and what R'vek saw gave him one last surge of hope: a Scarab had entered the battlefield. The enormous mobile base sent huge bolts of plasma raining down on the combat below, bright beams of energy from its twin laser cannons slicing through the air. R'vek began to crawl away while the humans were distracted, and slumped into a trench, panting heavily as he heard his shields recharge. Suddenly, there was a huge explosion. R'vek looked out from the trench… and saw the Scarab collapsing in upon itself. In a flash of blinding light, the immense machine exploded. R'vek screamed in pain as a huge chunk of armor plating struck him in the back. The large piece of metal forced him to the ground and crushed his right leg into a mass of bloody flesh and shattered bone. The downed Sangheili watched helplessly as his comrades fell by the score, fighting until they died. He pulled himself out from under the wreckage when he saw one soldier, a soldier feared by all Covenant forces: the Demon. The Demon cut his way through the Covenant legions like a hot knife through butter: every time he pulled his trigger, a Covenant soldier fell dead to the dusty ground. R'vek crawled away, desperate to escape, his eyes wide in abject terror. He felt a sharp kick to his gut, and rolled over to see the Demon standing above him. R'vek was looking down the barrel of a gun, the cold steel amplifying his horror. Slowly, the Demon's finger tightened on the trigger, and –
R'vek Kehrim sat bolt upright in bed, panting furiously. He ran his hands over his war scarred body, and checked over his prosthetically enhanced right leg, relieved to find that nothing bore wounds. R'vek had changed both physically and mentally from his time in the war: his body wasriddled with scars from bullets, shrapnel, and burns, and his right leg was as much metal as it was flesh. For the most part, his scars had dulled and faded over the years since the end of the war, but three, star-shaped scars showed clearly in his right soldier. R'vek looked down to his side, and smiled softly as he saw his mate sleeping beside him, her chest gently rising with each breath. R'vek lay down, and wrapping his mate in his arms, fell back to sleep.
Zek crouched in the rafters of the large ship, holding his needler close to his face. The young Kig-Yar smirked; ever since the end of the war, it had all been profit for him. With the Covenant dissolved, there were countless people who wanted certain groups to… go missing, and decent assassins were hard to find. In fact, Kig-Yar snipers and mercenaries were essentially the only competent killers for hire, and former Covenant soldiers were the best. Zek was a former Covenant scout and raider: he specialized in getting in, killing the target, and getting out. Zek steadied his aim as he saw the group of Jiralhanae pass beneath him, and sighted his target: the Prophet of Justice. The "holy" Prophet had worked through the utter destruction of any who opposed him, and had ruthlessly slaughtered hundreds of innocents. It was no surprise Zek's client wanted him dead. Zek slowly tightened his finger around the trigger… and fired. The pink, crystalline needles sped through the air and buried themselves in the back of the Prophet's head. The Prophet of Justice fell to the floor, dead before he hit the ground, and Zek dropped to the floor in the middle of the startled group of Jiralhanae. "Well, Brutes, looks like you made pretty shoddy bodyguards," Zek said, smirking at the bewildered Jiralhanae. Finally, one charged him, a gravity hammer raised high above the Brute's head. Zek's response was to put three needles in the Brute's face. The charging Jiralhanae's momentum carried him forward as he died, and Zek dodged out of the way of the corpse. The body smashed into another Jiralhanae, and the gravity hammer crushed the Brute's skull. Zek felt a breeze on his head spines, and activated his shield and brought it up behind him… just in time to block the incoming gravity hammer. Zek sank to his knees under the blow, and his energy shield shattered under the heavy weapon. Zek cried out in pain as he felt the fragile bones in his arm snap like dry kindling, and grunted as the Brute drove his knee into his stomach. The other two Jiralhanae grabbed Zek by his arms, hoisting the panting Jackal to his feet, while the one who had kicked him punched Zek across the face. The Kig-Yar spat out blood, and along with it, a sharp tooth.
"Not so tough no, are we, Jackal?" said the Jiralhanae mockingly as he rammed his fist into Zek's stomach. Zek felt his ribs snap, and winced in pain. He smiled, and looked the Brute in the eye.
"Yeah," Zek panted heavily, blood dribbling from his mouth, "but unlike you, I'm not dead." The Brute smirked and raised his hammer high above his head… just as a bright beam of energy pierced his skull, drilling a clean hole straight through his head. The other two looked around cautiously, and just before they died, they were able to catch a glimpse of their opponent. Two more beams of pink energy lanced out from the shadows, and the Jiralhanae slumped dead to the steel floor. Zek fell to the floor, the support from the Jiralhanae leaving him. "Heh, took you long enough," he coughed, a grin splayed across his lips. A lithe female Kig-Yar sauntered out from the shadows, smirking. She wore short shorts and a low cut vest, exposing her stomach and the top of her bosom. A beam rifle was slung across her back, and at her hip she wore two plasma grenades and a knife crafted of the same crystalline material as the needles from a needler. On her hands, she wore black, fingerless gloves, and on her feet, black, toeless shoes.
"At least I'm here, right?" she said, smirking. Zek laughed, pushing himself to his feet with his good hand. The female walked over to him, and helped him up. "Besides, I just couldn't help watching you get beaten to a pulp… again." Zek laughed more, slinging his arm over the female's shoulder.
"Jyn, someday you're going to kill me," he said, smiling. Jyn laughed quietly, helping Zek limp toward the hangar.
"Only by not being there to save your spines," she replied. As they reached the hangar, Jyn helped her mate into their ship: it was sleek and black, with red streaks running down the sides: the Scythe. It had a slight crescent shape, and was about the size of a house, making use of the space with relatively low ceilings and narrow hallways. The Scythe was both their base of operations… and their home. "Besides," Jyn whispered seductively into Zek's ear, "your injuries prove you fought hard. Maybe I'll… reward you tonight." The spines on Zek's head turned a bright red at her comment, and Jyn laughed; after all this time, Zek still blushed at her more suggestive innuendos. As they boarded the ship, Jyn set the autopilot to take them to Sanghelios. She helped Zek to their bedroom, and the last thing she did before falling onto the mattress with her mate was to activate the bomb she had placed aboard the Jiralhanae flagship.
R'vek slipped out of bed, pulling on a pair of briefs. It was then that he smelled the coffee. R'vek smiled; if there was one thing he liked about the alliance with the Humans, it was their trade goods. From denim to coffee, Humans had some amazing products, and R'vek was all too happy to reap the benefits. He pulled on a pair of pants and a shirt, and walked through the room and into the kitchen. As he entered, he saw his mate, Tira, at the stove, preparing a slab of meat while a pot of coffee brewed on the countertop. She wore a thin, pink robe that came down to about her mid-thigh, and her shapely back was facing R'vek. R'vek smiled, and walked up behind her, wrapping his muscular arms about her slender waist. "Good morning, beautiful," he said lovingly, rubbing his neck against Tira's head. She smiled, and sighed slightly, leaning into his body.
"Good morning," she said softly, taking her eyes off of her cooking for a moment. "Sleep well?" R'vek flinched, and Tira noticed. "What's wrong?" she asked worriedly. She turned around in his arms, smiling seductively. "I wasn't too much for you last night, was I?" R'vek laughed, grinning playfully.
"No, I slept fine… but not until very late!" he replied, obviously trying to hide something. Tira looked him in the eyes, and sighed.
"It was the dream again, wasn't it?" she said, her eyes concerned.
"The one with the Dem—the Chief?" R'vek stopped mid-sentence, his eyes distant, some long past sense of terror welling in them. "Yeah," he replied. He had almost referred to John 117 by the old Covenant term for the lost "hero", the Demon. R'vek's eyes narrowed; to him, the human who had killed so many of his brothers and crippled his leg was still nothing more than a Demon. He had seen the Spartan fight; how he mercilessly gunned down his opponents, regardless of rank or status. R'vek himself had been shot by the Spartan; three times in the shoulder. The only reason the Spartan hadn't killed him was a lucky break: as the Demon pulled the trigger, he had been shot in the shoulder by the Sangheili major R'vek had met earlier. R'vek had escaped with his life, but at a terrible cost: his right leg was crippled horribly, having to be completely replaced with bionics, and he had three, star-shaped scars along his collarbone. Tira hugged him tightly, and R'vek noticed that he had started shaking.
"It's okay, he's gone," said Tira, whispering into her lover's ear. R'vek sighed, and melted into her shoulder, holding her tight.
"Damn war," he muttered, a single tear rolling from his eye, "messed my life up." R'vek smiled, and pulled out of the hug, his hands on Tira's shoulders. "But I guess one good thing came of the war," he said.
"What's that?" asked Tira, gazing into his eyes.
"I met you." Tira smiled, and the two nuzzled their heads together affectionately, enjoying the simple closeness of one another. R'vek sniffed deeply, and pulled back. "Now what was it you were making for breakfast? Based on my nose, it's something good!" Tira smiled, and turned around, pulling the pan from the stove. A slab of meat was on the iron surface, spices adorning its reddish-brown flesh. A single egg was cooked over it, and R'vek could see a slight dusting of salt. The two young Sangheili smiled, sat down, and ate.
Zek sat up in bed, rubbing his head. He had a headache that felt like he had been hit by a gravity hammer… then he remembered that he had been. He looked to his side, and saw his mate, Jyn, sleeping peacefully, her naked body enveloped in the folds of the sheets. He smiled, and crawled out of bed, pulling his clothes out of the tangled mess on the floor. He pulled his outfit on, not bothering to shower; his natural odor would cover up his sweat. Zek made his way to the bridge of the Scythe, checking their progress towards Sanghelios on the ship's navigator computer. The computer read that they were three clicks away from the planet, and sure enough, Zek could just barely see it in the distance from where he stood, a tiny blue-green dot that grew slightly larger with every passing second. Suddenly, he felt a stabbing pain in his arm. He grabbed it… and remembered that it was shattered. "Right… blocking a gravity hammer means a broken arm," he muttered to himself, staggering towards the ship's medical ward, gritting his sharp teeth. He grabbed a med pack, and began sifting through its contents. He smeared the medigel over his arm, and wrapped his arm in bandages, making sure to properly set the bones. After Zek finished bandaging his arm, he wrapped it in a sling that hung from his shoulder, and applied medigel and bandages to his abdomen. The well muscled Kig-Yar rolled his shoulders, smiling as he heard the satisfying pops from his stiff joints. Suddenly, he heard the bridge door slide open. He whipped around, muscles tense, but relaxed as he saw who it was. Jyn stood in the doorway, a thin sheet wrapped around her naked form. The tension left Zek's muscles, and he smiled. "Morning, Jyn," he said, slowly walking over to his mate. The two embraced, smiling.
"Morning," replied Jyn softly, her eyes closed. She felt Zek pull away, and opened her eyes. That's when she noticed his bandages. Her eyes widened. Crap! she thought, I forgot to bandage Zek's wounds before last night! Zek smiled, knowing what was going through Jyn's head. The awkward moment was broken when Zek's stomach grumbled loudly. His left hand flew to his gut, and he smiled embarrassedly.
"Suppose the, erm… action last night's made me hungry," he said, embarrassed, his spines slowly turning red. Jyn smiled, and quirked her eye.
"So eloquent, Zek," she replied, smirking. "I'm going to go get dressed, then we can eat." Jyn walked out of the room, swerving her hips from side to side in a seductive manner. As the door shut behind her, Zek whistled.
"Wow," he whispered, staring at the door his mate had just used, "she really is something else." Zek walked to the kitchen, and pulled a pan from the cabinet. He opened the refrigerator, and pulled out a package of bacon, one of his personal favorite human foods. Zek ripped the package open with his sharp teeth, and began to cook the bacon in the pan, watching hungrily as the fat popped and the bacon curled. When the bacon was cooked to the point where it had the normal bacon flavor but was still soft, Zek turned off the stove, and began to scramble 4 eggs in another. As he cooked them, he sprinkled salt and some spices and sausage from his native planet onto them, and finally, when the eggs were a reddish-yellow color, he turned off the stove. Zek tasted the eggs, and smiled in satisfaction: they were just right: slightly salty with a vibrant, spicy flavor. Just as Zek was serving the plates, Jyn walked into the room, wearing her signature vest and shorts, but with water evident on her skin. Zek rolled his eyes, smiling to himself; ever since they had gotten a shower from the humans, Jyn couldn't get enough of the thing. Jyn smiled, and licked her lips as she saw the food Zek had prepared.
"Hmm, looks good," she muttered, slowly tasting the eggs and bacon. Her body shivered slightly as the eggs entered her mouth; they were perfect. Zak pulled his chair back, sat down, and ate.
R'vek picked up the plasma rifle from a long rack of weapons, standing facing the wall. His eyes were stern, and his face was knotted in concentration. A loud beep sounded, and R'vek whipped around, opening fire instantly. Targets popped up across the room from him, some enemies shaped like various flood forms, brutes, and prophets, and some allies, shaped like humans or other covenant races. R'vek fired with a fury, blasting apart the red enemy targets to smoking ruins, tearing them apart even as they emerged from the floor. Each shot he fired met its mark, and despite his rapid rate of fire, he never hit a blue ally target. That is, he never hit a blue ally target until the end of the drill. As he destroyed one of the last red targets, an ally target shaped like the Spartan popped up. R'vek's eyes widened and his heart quickened as adrenaline was pumped into his system, and his instincts took over. He fired shot after shot into the Spartan target, blasting it to shreds of smoking cardboard. Even after the target was demolished beyond recognition, he continued to fire, eventually destroying even the target's metal base. Suddenly, the lights in the training room dimmed, and his rifle discharged its battery. R'vek sighed, knowing that he had failed the test yet again. He walked over to the weapons rack, and placed the rifle back onto it, gazing longingly at the beautiful plasma swords that hung from the elite weapons rack. He walked out of the room, cursing himself: at this rate, he would never earn his gold armor and swords. The commander of the MTF, or Military Training Facility, strode over to him, a look of disappointment on his face. The commander was an old Sangheili who had seen his share of combat, and was now retired from active duty in order to train the younger recruits like R'vek.
"R'vek Kehrim," said the commander, making notes on the clipboard he clutched in one hand, "99% accuracy. Highest firing speed. Veteran of the Covenant/Human war. All in all, our finest student. A shame that your reaction to the image of the Spartan still holds you back." R'vek hung his head, ashamed that his personal sense of fear had yet again overridden his sense of duty. The commander walked up to him, and placed a hand on his shoulder, an understanding look on his face.
"R'vek, I understand how you must feel now that the Spartan is regarded as a hero by our people. I saw him kill countless of our brothers, and the destruction he wrought." The commander sighed deeply, thinking. "Times have changed, R'vek. Old hatreds must be wiped away; we are in a new age. Old soldiers like us need to change with it." R'vek's eyes narrowed.
"With all due respect, brother," he said, his voice grim, "I don't think you can understand my feelings toward the De—the Spartan. You didn't see what I saw." R'vek steadied himself, breathing deeply. "He took my leg, brother. He looked me in the eyes from behind that cold mask, all the while slowly tightening his finger on the trigger of his gun. I saw him murder countless of my personal friends, and I nearly saw him kill me. I am sorry, brother, but I don't think you can ever understand the terror that that Human inspires in my soul." The commander looked R'vek in the eyes, searching them for any lies, any discrepancies, any sign of bias. All he saw was fear, fear still present from a memory long past. The commander realized for the first time just how young R'vek had been when that day had happened: six EY had passed, and now R'vek was 23 EY of age. When R'vek had lost his leg, he had been just 17 EY old, a mere child, and he had had to face death. The commander's eyes slowly widened as he realized this, and he realized that R'vek was right: he could never understand what it must have been like for him.
"You're right. I can't." This was all the commander said, in a haunted voice, before turning and walking slowly down the halls. R'vek felt a buzzing from his pocket, and pulled out his communicator. It was a small rectangular device, with a screen, a joystick, an answer and end call button, and 10 buttons each labeled with a different number. He looked at the screen, and saw that he had a message. He opened up the message, and two words displayed on the screen: You're late. R'vek cursed under his breath; he hated dealing with those two. R'vek rolled his eyes, cracked his neck, and strode down the halls towards his appointment.
Zek smiled as he hit the send button on his communicator: that should make that stuck up Sangheili's hearts jump a beat or two. Zek knew how R'vek hated being late to anything, and how much he hated dealing with Kig-Yar of Zek's profession. Zek tightened his fingers around the data-chip Jyn had downloaded from the Jiralhanae vessel's computer; this information was worth a lot of credits. Apparently, the Jiralhanae had discovered something big before Zek took them down, something to do with the old Halo rings. The government, which Zek still "technically" worked for, didn't want to give him any more details, but Zek was fine with that, as long as he got paid. Zek smiled as he heard the heavy footsteps of a Sangheili approach the door, and his grin widened as he saw the doorknob turn and the door open.
The Prophet of Innocence sat in his chair aboard the Jiralhanae ship, scowling. The dead Jiralhanae on the floor in front of him had told him that the ship sent to investigate the Ring had been destroyed by a pair of Kig-Yar assassins, and along with it the Prophet of Justice had been lost. The destruction of the ship alone was unacceptable, but by two Kig-Yar?! They were practically vermin, not worth the time it took the Prophet to scrape their gore from his shoes! Innocence noticed his hand growing warm, and looked down to see that he had clenched his fist to tight that his clawed fingers had drawn his own blood. He leaned back in his chair, thinking, tapping his claws against the metal armrest. While the recovery ship had been lost, the messenger he had killed had told him that the Kig-Yar responsible had taken the information and were en route to Sanghelios. Already, his Scepter had been directed toward the planet, and he was growing ever closer to exacting revenge on the Covenant that had betrayed him, and to the final completion of the Great Journey.
Alright, so what do you think? I hope you like it; I've been putting this together for a while now! Anyways, I hope you like this, and more will be up soon!