Disclaimer: I don't own anything.

Thel slowly walked into his new, temporary dwelling that was provided for him and the other Sangheili by the human superior officers. He casually examined the room's traits.

Compared to some of the quarters he had resided in during the war, the room was plain. The floor was made of dull, steel colored tiles. The walls were wallpapered with a cool shade of blue. Sunlight made its way through a window near the bed.

He walked over to the bed and sat down. Once he was seated on the bed, he removed his helmet and set it next to him. Silently, he sat there. He tried to reflect on all the deeds he had committed. In addition, he thought about the events he went through during the war. Unfortunately, the only memory he could not stop thinking about was his failure to protect Halo…and his punishment that had followed.

He could feel all the Sangheili and San 'Shyuum councilors glaring at him. Their gazes felt like blades ready to sever him at any moment. His two hearts had raced when the Prophet of Truth said, "Soon the Great Journey shall begin. But when it does, the weight of you heresy will stay your feet. And you shall be left behind."

The walk to the ledge where he would be branded seemed like an eternity. Once he was cuffed, the energy beams pierced his armor to his flesh. The intense heat felt like the tips of many energy daggers. The pain was almost unbearable. The pain did eventually stop. However, the Jiralhanae then put their vile claws on his armor and yanked it off.

He hung there, practically lifeless. He could feel the heat coming from the brand when Tartarus grabbed it. It got hotter and hotter as he stepped closer. The Jiralhanae chieftain pulled it back and then-

Thel immediately stopped his thoughts there. That was all in the past and nothing would change it. He slowly lifted his hand to rest it against the mark that was forever inserted on his flesh. He sighed. Then he rested on the bed, letting his thoughts wander.

Thel walked into one of the station's many trams. The door was about to close, but stopped when a mysterious force pushed them back. He noticed a human female had walked into the tram. As the tram started to move after the doors shut completely, the female walked to the opposite side. Thel could not help but notice something... unusual about the human. She had entered the tram so quickly and quietly that he did not notice her until the tram's doors opened. Her body language seemed to give off something different compared to other humans he had met.

She seemed to carry her stature with acute composure. Her figure was thin, yet well-built. The back and sides of her short, black hair was tapered into her head while soft edges were created right around. Something about her slender stance nagged at him, pushing him to find out why she sparked his curiosity. Other than those few distinct qualities about her, she was pretty much like all humans he had seen and met...

Is she really? he thought.

Soon, the tram slowed to a stop. When the doors opened, the woman turned. Thel watched her every move. Her movements were smooth like water. As she passed him, she gazed at him. His eyes made contact with her azure colored irises. Her gaze appeared almost alien. He could not look away from her hypnotizing stare. Then she closed her eyes and walked fluidly away.

Isabel walked into the Mess Hall. After she got a water bottle, she examined the room for her companion Lexi.

The Mess Hall was a light-filled, grand room with a cold, tiled floor. The walls were the color of eggshells with a border of blue along the top. There were a few tall windows on the far right side of the room. The many tables and chairs didn't leave a lot of space to walk. They left just enough space so someone would not have to step on other people's toes or turn their bodies sideways to get through. The occupied tables did not help Isabel's search to find Lexi. Closing her eyes, she thought about her friend and her characteristics.

A small smile appeared as she thought about her friend's personality. When she opened her eyes again, she saw Lexi sitting at a booth near the windows in a far corner of the room. She was in a relaxed position with her arms stretched all the way across the back and her eyes closed. She laughed and walked over to her.

"Hey," she said.

Lexi opened one of her eyes to see Isabel. Smiling, she said, "Hey, Izzie."

Isabel sat down on the opposite side of her friend. "Guess who I ran into on the tram today." She opened the water bottle and took a drink.

Lexi opened her eyes once more and gazed at her friend. "Who?"

"Guess," she said with a devious smile on her face.

Lexi lied her head back while she thought. "I suppose you won't give me any clues to whom this person is."

Isabel laughed. "All I will say is this person has a very unique position among his cohorts."

"Hmm, well, that narrows the individual down to a few hundred." When she sighed, she blew a strain of her golden blond hair out of her face.

Isabel laughed again as she took another drink from the water bottle. She continued to watch her friend struggle to figure out her little riddle. Suddenly, she spotted an all-too-familiar looking Sangheili walk into the Mess Hall along with a few other Sangheili that trailed behind him. "Don't look now, but the answer just walked in."

Lexi raised one eyebrow at Isabel. Then she got up from her casual position, scooting over in order to peek around the booth's edge. She saw Arbiter and his Sangheili walk into a booth not too far away.

"The Arbiter?" she asked as she turned back to Isabel who simply raised both her eyebrows with a smile. Lexi took another peek at the new arrivals. "Did you now?"

"I did."

Thel listened to his fellow brethren converse as he looked around the Mess Hall. The humans and Sangheili were avoiding each other at all times. None of them attempted to, what the humans say, "make nice." An invisible line that divided the two species had separated the room.

Maybe setting up this treaty was not the best idea, he thought.

Slowly, his thoughts turned toward the mysterious human he met on the tram. He wanted to know what it was about her that intrigued him. She was only human after all. Her species did not have a whole lot of special traits, but...she did.

He sighed. Leaning against the booth's side, he crossed his arms. Why was this bothering him so much? The nagging feeling from earlier surfaced again. This time, it was harder for him to shake it off. He struggled to find out why this feeling of curiosity was so strong.

One of the Sangheili took notice of Thel's behavior.

"Are you feeling well, Arbiter?" he asked.

Thel nodded. "I'm well, brother. Just thinking. There is no need to fret about my health."

"Very well," the Sangheili said and returned to the discussion.

"Did you two talk?" Lexi asked.

Isabel shook her head. "No, but I could feel his eyes on me the whole time."

"Was he checking you out or setting up a target?" Lexi asked suspiciously.

"I'm not sure," Isabel said wondering the same thing. "He was unarmed."

"That doesn't mean he wasn't going to attack you," Lexi snapped back. "We've fought them hand-to-hand before."

"I really don't think he planned on attacking me."

Lexi shrugged and put her head back down. "If you say so."

"I'll be right back," Isabel said as she got up from her seat. "Do you want anything?"

"I'm good."

Isabel laughed. "Your superior send you to bed without dinner, again?"

"Keep talking, Izzie."

Isabel shook her head and walked to the nearest trash can. Once she was close, she gracefully threw the water bottle into it. When she turned to go back to Lexi, she saw Arbiter leaning against the side of the booth. Surprisingly, she saw him turn his head toward her.

Thel could not believe what he saw. The same human he saw on the tram was standing a few feet from him. Her stance drew him to her. At the same time, her gaze kept him in place. Her smile was small and soft, which was a shock to him because she looked intimidating just by standing still.

Both Isabel and Thel jerked their heads when they heard human voices nearby. Isabel turned her head to see three marines attempting to hit on Lexi. She glared and walked over to them while Thel watched her.

"Hey baby, you must be lost because heaven is a long way from here," the first marine said. Out of the other two, the first marine had less of a muscle build than the other two. He had a head full of dark brown peach fuzz and brown eyes.

Lexi shook her head. These guys aren't serious, are they?

"I hope you know how to do CPR because you take my breath away," the second marine said. The second marine had a stout physique and short, curly black hair. He had the same olive skin color as Lexi.

Lexi rubbed the bridge of her nose. They can't get any worse than that.

The third marine had a bald head and dark brown skin. He was more muscular, not to mention, more daunting than the other two. He clearly led the group of marines. He got into the booth and sat really close to her. "How about you sit on my lap and we talk about the first thing that pops into your head?"

Her eyes jerked open when she felt the marine's arms around he waist as he attempted to set her on his lap.

"I already know what'll pop into her head," a dark, deadly voice said behind the two marines.

They turned to see Isabel. The dark look on her face shadowed the deep peach color of her skin.

"And what will she say?" the third one asked.

While he was distracted, Lexi pulled away from him. Then she got back in a relaxing position with a smile on her face. They are in trouble now.

"That a trio of cock faces think they're the shit," Isabel said. "Who, in fact, aren't."

The lead marine jerked up from his seat and stomped toward her. His comrades quickly stepped aside as he passed them.

Thel's interest grew as he continued to watch the female confront the three male humans.

"Oh," the lead marine said getting close to her face. "And who do think you are?"

"The one who is going to kick you and your lackeys' asses if you don't step away from my friend."

They all snickered.

"Is that right?" the lead marine said. He lifted his arm as he formed his hand into a fist.

Isabel didn't move a muscle. She stood her ground as the fist came flying at her. When it was close enough, she swiftly grabbed it. She smiled while he gasped. Then she took hold of his arm and flipped him over. The second came at her. She punched him twice before viciously kicking the side of his leg to put him down. She jumped up with her leg out; which struck the third one who had attempted to attack while she was distracted.

She stepped over the other two to get to the leader. She stepped on his throat. "Had enough?"

"All right, all right," he said gasping. "We'll leave."

She pressed down harder on his throat. "Don't screw with me or my friend again. Got it?"

He nodded as best he could.

"Good." She let up and walked over to her friend.

The three marines got up off the floor and left.

"Thanks," Lexi said.

"I'm sure you could've handled them just as easily as I did," Isabel said.

She laughed. "Not without killing them."

Isabel also laughed. "Point taken."

Thel still could not believe how the mysterious female managed to handle all three marines in a matter of seconds. The blows she inflicted on all three looked graceful and vicious at the same time. He smiled.

I might just have to take my chances with this one, he thought.


Thel turned his attention to the voice that called his name. He saw Shipmaster 'Vadum approaching him.

"Shipmaster, I did not expect to see you here."

"I merely came here to discuss matters regarding the humans and the treaty."

"Very well."

'Vadum took a quick glance around the room. "In private, if you please."

Thel nodded and left with the Shipmaster, leaving his Sangheili brethren to continue discussing their matters.

When they were out of the Mess Hall, Shipmaster began to verbalize his thoughts.

"Arbiter, is it wise to make a treaty with the humans after all the years of fighting against them?"

"I am aware, for as long as our kind was at war with them, grudges have run deep in many. However, look at what we have accomplished by uniting. Truth is dead and the war is over."

"It is comforting to know that none of our brothers will die for nothing any longer. I still fear these humans will let their bitterness take over their way of thinking."

Thel shook his head. "You are worrying about events that have not happened."

"I have had many years of experience with them. They warrant caution, Arbiter."

Both stopped walking. Thel turned to face 'Vadum before putting a hand on his shoulder. "How about we worry about those things when they happen. If they happen at all, that is. Besides, we have not discussed the terms of the treaty yet."

'Vadum sighed. "Perhaps you are right, Arbiter. I am allowing the past to get in the way of the future. I will ease up on the humans, but I will remain cautious."

"Give them a chance. After all, I did."

Thel headed back to his quarters after talking to 'Vadum. While en route, he heard voices nearby. He listened to the voices carefully as he turned the corner that led to a hallway. Once he did, the voices got louder. He realized it was coming from inside a room near him. He moved closer to the wall to try to make out what the voices were saying.

"Stupid bitch! We'll show her not to mess with us," one voice said.

Surprisingly, he recognized the voice as one of the marines from earlier.

"She may have showed us up, but she'll regret ever doing so."

"She just made the biggest mistake of her life."

Thel heard laughter...a lot of laughter. That is not simply three humans. It appears the three males found some reinforcements.

"'Lights out in fifteen, which means everyone will be heading to their rooms during that time."

Thel activated his active camouflage when he heard rapid footsteps approaching his location. He watched as another male human raced passed him and went into the room.

"She...She's heading to her room right now," the newest arrival said panting. "I'll lead you to her."

"Good work, Mike. Let's go. Time to teach her a lesson." The leader got up from his seat, but turned to his men. "Keep in mind: once we have roughed her up a bit, I get to finish the job." The men snickered with their leader as they headed out of the room. When they reached the end of the hallway, they turned left.

Unaware to any of them, Thel had heard their plan. He watched them walk in the opposite direction. The way he had come. He was aware he should not get involved with human affairs. However, they were all going after the one human that interested him the most. At that moment, he made the decision to pursue them.

Isabel calmly walked to her quarters to settle in for the night. When she went down the hall where her room was located, she saw three figures standing at the other end. She backed up a bit before turning around. Four more figures appeared at the opposite end. They all closed in on her.

She saw the three marines from earlier when she turned back around. She closed her eyes and shook her head as she laughed.

"You really want to do this," she asked.

"You won't be saying those words after my men are done beating the shit out of you," the lead marine said.

She simply laughed again. "Is that so?"

"Once they are done, I will make you scream my name and beg as I have my way with you."

Isabel laughed one more time before opening her eyes. She smiled as her eyes carefully examined all the guys who were laughing and preparing to attack her. She closed her eyes again and took a deep breath.

"Get her!"

The first attack came from behind. She caught his arm as it came at her. Feeling both her muscles and his muscles tense under her grip, she jabbed her elbow into his stomach. He staggered back before being punched in the head. The blow managed to knock him out.

Isabel leaped up and kicked two marines in the head as they came at her at the same time. She swiftly, yet gracefully moved behind the fourth as he tried to punch her. Then she elbowed the back of his head. Next, she hurdled at the fifth marine, kicking him right in the face. When both her feet were on the ground, she swept her feet under the sixth marine.

Getting angrier by the second as he witnessed the failures of his fellows, the leader charged at her. However, he got hit in the head with her foot. She swung around and punched when the sixth got up and ran at her. She grabbed his arm and threw him, slamming him against the wall.

Thel stopped with a jerk when he reached the hallway where he heard the commotion. He begun to sprint when he heard the men yelling. Now that all was quiet, the only sound he heard was his fast, pounding heartbeats. He saw all the men, lying on the floor. The female was the only one who was standing.

Isabel scanned the area around her. All the men who thought they were going to overpower her were now on the ground, unconscious. She stepped over all the bodies to continue her journey to her room. The leader slowly got up. Glaring at her, he shouted and charged at her. She stopped and jerked around.

She flip kicked him, which caused him to stagger back toward a wall. She marched firmly toward him. Then she took both of his wrists and pinned them against the wall. Then she put her other arm between his legs and pushed up, sandwiching him in a very uncomfortable position.

"Perhaps I was unclear earlier when I said not to screw with my friend," she shoved her arm up again, increasing the pressure, "or me."

The leader could barely speak with the position he was in.

"Let me say it one more time, don't fuck with my friend or me ever again. If you do, it'll be the very, last mistake you make. Understand?"

"Wha-wha-what are you?" he gasped.

She snickered. "Wouldn't you like to know." When she let him go, he slowly fell to the ground. For a minute, she simply glared at the unconscious body of the leader.

"Impressive, human."

Isabel fiercely swung her leg around, which was caught by Thel.

"You have great force in your strikes," he said, letting go of her leg. "Not bad."

"Well, don't you have fast reflexes, stranger."

"I appreciate the kind words." He examined her stance. It still held the same intimidating vibe as before. Her eyes still had that special stare that drew him in. "Do you know who I am, human?"

"Yes. You're the Arbiter, leader of the Sangheili."

He could not help but laugh. "You have made inquires?"

"Not really, but word gets around. You just have to listen carefully."

"You seem to have me at a disadvantage here."

"Sorry about that. I'm..." She paused and then said, "I'm Capt. Dawson."

Thel noticed her hesitation, which did not help him. Her temporary halt only compelled him to learn more about her. His mandibles spread apart to speak when they heard a voice over the speakers.

"Attention all personal and officers. "Lights Out" in five minutes. All are required to be in their quarters at this time. "Lights Out" in five minutes."

They looked at each other. She smiled and then began to walk to her room. When she was shoulder-to-shoulder with him, she leaned in and whispered, "Find me in the gym tomorrow at 1300 hours. We'll talk then." Then she carried on with her journey to her quarters, leaving Thel to his thoughts.