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Naked Crook
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Xyrho: The point is I finally found it in myself to speak out against him. It took too long...but I finally was able to do it.

Barrabus sighed.

Barrabus: I believe you...I do...

Barrabus paused.

Barrabus: Which is why I am going to do what I have never done...

Barrabus paused again.

Barrabus: I am going to trust an Elite...I will take you at your word. I will deal with Quinn...

Xyrho: You must not forget about Vanguard...the Construct. Vanguard is the key to Quinn's goals. That Construct...must be destroyed.

Barrabus: I will get rid of that thing after I deal with Quinn. Where is it right now?

Xyrho: I don't know...it just comes and goes...but there is a good chance that it is monitoring us. There is also a good chance that it is either pre-occupied with the other Brutes in this installation...or it could very well be with Quinn right now. That means...I may very well be teleporting you to a location that is in close proximity to both Quinn and Vanguard.

Barrabus: Good...then I will only need to make one trip to kill them both!

Xyrho: That is one way of looking at it...

Xyrho stopped. He had completed his task. he looked at Barrabus.

Xyrho: In case you have not noticed...you are presently unable to contact your Brutes. This is the doing of Vanguard. The Construct is scrambling the entire spectrum of frequencies, save for one small wavelength in the upper band. If you need to contact me, you will need to shift your communications system to the 11.655 Terahertz range...I have moved my communications system to that range...which means we will be able to communicate without interruption and without a 3rd party listening in on us.

Barrabus: Good enough.

Barrabus paused.

Barrabus: Right now...my Brutes are out there fighting Elites. Enough blood has been spilled on the account of Quinn. If you can make your Elites stand down...this will end much faster.

Xyrho: I will try, but the Elites may not listen...they only listen to Quinn.

Barrabus: Do whatever you must...

Barrabus readied his Gravity Hammer.

Barrabus: Now...send me to Quinn.

Xyrho: I will try, but the Elites may not listen...they only listen to Quinn.

===============================================================
Meanwhile: Construct Assembly Line Security Bravo – Entry Point 2
===============================================================

Brutus was behind cover, trying to re-establish contact with either Barrabus or Dancar, but he could not cut through the static.

Brutus: Barrabus! I am losing the signal...do you hear me!? Damn machines...worthless!

Brutus grunted in frustration.

Brutus could see plasma bolts whizzing by from behind cover. He waited for a pause in the enemy fire, then emerged from cover and fired off a Covenant Carbine at the opposing Elites.

Brutus saw that the entire battlefield was actually a very narrow hallway. The corridor itself was only about 20 feet wide, with small cubbyhole indents in the wall that could act as effective cover. There were several shield barriers that had been set up by both brutes and Elites to serve as extra cover in the middle of the hallway.

Essentially, the way the corridor was configured was vastly different arrangement compared to the setup that Brutus had seen during his first trip to this installation, when he entered through the main entrance, the entrance that was now protected by a shield.

Brutus refocused his attention back on the Elites and resumed his fire. Brutus managed to take several Elites down before they resumed heavy fire.

Brutus jumped to the side and ducked back into cover.

Brutus was beside a Brute Stalker in cover.

Obsidian Hierarchy Stalker: Brutus...these are very close quarters...it is going to be very difficult for us to advance forward with this many Elites in the way!

Brutus: We may need to forcefully press forward if we are going to make any progress.

Obsidian Hierarchy Stalker: How do you propose we move forward without suffering tremendous losses. The Elites seem to be firmly entrenched, and their numbers are almost self-replenishing!

Brutus: Well, for starters..I want you and the rest of the Stalkers to be under cloak. The other Brutes and I will cover your advance forward. I want you to get up close and personal with these Elites...disrupt their line...engage them in hand to hand combat if necessary...

Obsidian Hierarchy Stalker: Right away...

The Stalker turned to face several other Stalkers. He let out a few grunts. The other Stalkers nodded. Those Stalkers, in turn, exchanged the same grunts with other nearby Stalkers. The Stalkers had been communicating in their native language to communicate the plan across the line.

Brutus looked at the Stalkers and nodded. The Stalkers cloaked and they began to move forward.

Brutus emerged from cover and began to fire his Carbine, in an attempt to draw attention away from The Stalkers that had been advancing.

The Elites took the bait, and they began to target Brutus.

Several other Brutes emerged from Cover and began to lay down fire with Spikers and Maulers. Several of the Elites were hit and were forced to fall back to cover to allow their shields to recharge. This gave the Stalkers the chance they needed to rush the Elites and break their line.

The Stalkers began to decloak as they engaged the Elites in hand-to-hand combat.

Brutus saw this and he rushed forward to help push the Elites back. Brutus ran into the fray and charged at one Elite and smashed him down with the butt of his Carbine.

Brutus then spun around and smacked another Elite down with his Carbine.

Brutus: Push forward brothers! Crush their bones under your feet!

The Elites moved back as their fired their Plasma Rifles. They were quickly losing ground to the Brutes.

Malak: Hold your ground...do not let these mongrels push any further!

Malak pushed some of his own Elites in order to stop their retreat.

Malak: Do not let yourself be defeated by these mongrels!

Malak was holding two Plasma Repeaters. He fired off the Repeaters in rapid succession at the Brutes. Several brutes were wounded in this processes.

Malak: Push back...their numbers are limited...our numbers are greater!

Brutus could hear Malak barking orders at his Elites. while he was fighting with an Elite Ranger. Brutus head butted the Ranger, and then kneed the Ranger in the gut and then slammed his elbow into the side of the Ranger's face. The Elite Ranger fell to the side.

Brutus looked past all the fighting and saw Malak at the far end of the corridor.

Malak return the glare.

Brutus used two of his fingers to point to his own eyes. He then turned his hand and then pointed those fingers at Malak.

Malak roared, knowing the message that was being conveyed. Malak raised his Plasma Repeaters and took aim at Brutus from the other side of the corridor and began to fire. Due to the range, Brutus was able to dodge to safety, while the plasma bolts flew by, hitting the wall behind Brutus.

Brutus emerged from cover and fired off his Carbine at Malak. Brutus fired off the slugs as fast as he could, but most of his shots missed and hit other Elites that were near Malak.

Brutus walked forward, firing his Carbine, trying to hit Malak. However, between other Elites getting in the way, and Malak dodging to cover, Brutus' efforts were meeting with limited to no success.

Malak: Elites...attack their leader...kill the Brute Field Captain! Break their resolve!

Some of the Elites turned to look at Brutus. They roared as they turned their weapons on Brutus and began to fire. The barrage of plasma hitting Brutus broke his shields very quickly, and began to put small plasma burns on the body armor itself. Brutus was forced to duck into cover to try and let his shields replenish themselves.

In retaliation, the Brutes that were nearby turned very hostile, and several of them began to go berserk, as they charged at great speeds towards the Elites. The other Brutes that kept their composure fired off their weapons with even more zeal.

Brutus took this chance to get right past the enemy lines and go right for Malak. The berserk Brutes that had charged in had allowed for all of the Brutes under Brutus' command to get right in the enemy lines. This allowed Brutus to get right through the Elites with very little difficulty. As Brutus ran through to find Malak, he pushed Elites aside, and slammed his way through, body checking some Elites right into walls, and using his tremendous weight, to crush the Elites against the wall.

Malak watched as Brutus ran towards him. Malak took aim with his Plasma Repeaters and began to fire at Brutus.

Brutus holstered his weapon on his back and hunched forward as he ran. Brutus started to dodge side to side. Malak saw Brutus quickly coming up on him, and Malak started to back up.

Most of Malak's shots were missing, but several of them landed direct hits. However, Malak was not able to stop Brutus' advance. Brutus had leaped into the air and tackled Malak to the ground.

Brutus wrapped his hands around Malak's throat and began to squeeze, trying to strangle Malak. Malak tried to reach for one of his Plasma Repeaters but it was just out of his reach. Malak gave up on trying to reach for the Plasma Repeater, and instead activated the energy dagger that was on his hand. Malak used the Energy Dagger and stabbed Brutus in the side of his torso with it. Brutus' released his grip, and Malak was able to push Brutus off of him.

Malak quickly got back to his feet, and took advantage of Brutus' weakened state. The first thing Malak did was kick Brutus right in the head, knocking him to the ground.

Malak: You are going to regret coming after me...mongrel...

Brutus shook his head and sat up, rushing back to his feet. Brutus used his momentum while he was getting back to his feet, and ran at Malak, slamming his shoulder right into Malak's chest, knocking him against the wall.

Malak's back hit the wall.

Brutus approached Malak and threw a punch right at Malak's head, but Malak ducked out of the way and rolled past Brutus, positioning himself behind the Brute.

Brutus' fist hit the wall as Malak got back to his feet. Malak once again activated his energy dagger and stabbed Brutus right in the back. Brutus howled in pain, but turned and swatted his fist, hitting Malak right in the jaw.

Malak was sent flying backward, the energy blade was quickly pulled from Brutus' back. Brutus snarled in pain.

Malak wiped a bit of blood off his jaw. He got back to his feet. He looked at Brutus and laughed.

Malak: Pathetic...I expected more...

Brutus turned to look at Malak. He growled at Malak.

Malak: Is that your best?

Malak activated the energy dagger again. He circled around Brutus.

Malak: I can see fear in your eyes...you cradle your wounds like a whelp...

Brutus frowned.

Malak charged right at Brutus again, his Energy Dagger ready to strike. Malak swiped with the Energy Dagger, but Brutus backed away, evading the blade. Malak charged forward again, swiping once more.

Brutus moved back again.

Malak: Surprisingly nimble...for a bulky animal...

Malak thrusted forward with the Energy Dagger, and Brutus moved to the side. As Malak's arm was fully extended, Brutus grabbed Malak's arm, opened his jaw, and slammed his jaw shut around Mala wrist. Brutus had managed to bite Malak's hand off.

Malak fell back, roaring in pain. Malak pulled away, the only thing left was a splintered and shattered piece of bone sticking out.

Brutus looked at Malak, his muzzle covered in Malak's blood. Brutus spat the hand out of his mouth, spitting the hand right at Malak. The mand landed right at Malak's feet.

Malak held his arm. The nub on his arm was bleeding profusely.

Brutus: Has anyone ever told you...that Elite blood tastes awful?

Malak backed up against a wall.

Malak: You disgust me...

Brutus lunged at Malak and sunk his teeth right into Malak's throat. Brutus snarled as his teeth sunk into Malak's flesh.

Malak was growing weak as he tried to push Brutus off of him. Brutus released his grip on Malak and stepped back. Brutus spat blood our of his mouth as Malak fell to the ground.

Brutus: Pathetic...I expected more...

Brutus' tone of voice was intended to mock Malak.

Malak tried to get back to his feet to resume the fight, but Barrabus used the bottom of his foot to kick Malak in the chest as hard as he could. Malak fell back to the ground.

Brutus took a few steps back and grabbed one of Malak's Plasma Repeaters from off the ground.

Brutus: Interesting weapon...

Brutus took aim with the Plasma Repeater and looked at Malak again.

Brutus: Let's see how well it works...

Brutus pulled the trigger and a stream of plasma bolts fired from the Plasma Repeater. Each bolt impacted Malak's body and caused a bit of blood to come out. By the time the Plasma Repeater had overheated, Malak's body was filled with holes, with blood pouring from each of the exit wounds.

Brutus was breathing heavily. After a few breaths, he stopped. He then turned to face the remaining Elites that his Brutes were still fighting.

Brutus: Can't stop now...

===============================================================
Meanwhile: Construct Assembly Line Security Bravo – Entry Point 4
===============================================================

Dancar tapped the side of his helmet. He could hear nothing but static coming through the comm.

Dancar: Brutus...are you there...are you receiving? If you are still receiving...I continuing on to the objective. I suggest you do the same.

Dancar was in cover behind a deployable shield barrier next to two other Stalkers.

Obsidian Hierarchy Stalker: Our comms are being jammed...

Dancar: By what? There is no way the Elites could have isolated our comm frequency this fast.

Obsidian Hierarchy Stalker: They might be blanketing the entire spectrum.

Dancar: If they were doing that, they would be cutting off their own communications...unless...there is a very specific frequency that has been left open.

Obsidian Hierarchy Stalker: That might be it...

Dancar: Alright...listen to me very carefully...I want you to cycle through every frequency and try and find one that is not being disrupted. Chances are this is the frequency that the Elites are using. If we can isolate that frequency...we will be able to communicate. The communication won't be secure...but I have yet to meet an Elite that understands our language. Any communication done over the comm line should be done using our own tongue.

Obsidian Hierarchy Stalker: Understood...

Dancar moved forward and took cover at the next shield barrier. He took cover next to a Brute major. Dancar looked at the major and nodded to greet the major. Dancar then looked beyond the shield barrier. He could see many Elites in the corridor, laying down suppressive fire. He could see at the far end, that there were Sentinel Constructs moving into the corridor.

Dancar: Constructs...the Elites are using the constructs against us.

Dancar paused.

Dancar: We are going to be outnumbered very quickly if those things keep pouring in.

Obsidian Hierarchy Brute: We could get the Stalkers to cloak...

Dancar: It might not be as much help as you think. For all we know...those things might be able to spot us through the cloak...I am not willing to take that chance.

Obsidian Hierarchy Brute: I don't see any alternative...

Dancar was silent for a moment. He analyzed his surroundings. He looked at the constructs, and then the Elites.

Obsidian Hierarchy Brute: What is it?

Dancar: I think we do have an alternative.

The Brute looked around, but he did not know what Dancar was referring to.

Obsidian Hierarchy Brute: What do you have in mind?

Dancar: You wouldn't happen to have a power drainer?

Obsidian Hierarchy Brute: I do...

Dancar: Good...we are going to need it. I am going to bet that those Constructs will be susceptible to the power drainer. If we can disable them...we might have a chance at breaking through.

Obsidian Hierarchy Brute: How will disabling the constructs give us an edge?

Dancar: Machines tend to explode when they are destroyed. I don't know about you...but if a bunch of machines started to explode around me...I would not stick around to see how many it would take to kill me. If we are lucky, we can punch holes in their line...weaken their suppressive fire enough to scatter them.

The Brute nodded.

Obsidian Hierarchy Brute: We might have a few more power drainers around here somewhere.

Dancar: Check with the others...

Dancar paused.

Dancar: Get as many as you can!

The Brute nodded. He fell back. Dancar saw that the Sentinel Constructs were getting close. They began to fire their aggressor beams at the Brutes.

Dancar raised his Mauler and fired at one of the constructs. The slugs bounced off of the Sentinel's shields. The Sentinel turned to face Dancar and fired its laser. The Laser impacted Dancar in the shoulder, impacting his shields.

Dancar snarled as he pulled out a second Mauler and shot both of his weapons at the Sentinel at the same time. The Sentinel then fell from the air and hit the ground, exploding on contact.

Dancar then saw another Sentinel fly overhead. Dancar took aim and shot that Sentinel down as well. Once again, the Sentinel hit the ground and exploded.

Dancar soon realized that the Sentinels were just serving as retaliatory cannon fodder, and were there to not only distract the Brutes, but inflict casualties and drain ammunition. However, Dancar knew he could not stop firing.

Dancar continued shooting the Sentinels down with his Mauler, but he soon ran out of ammo, and the Sentinels showed no sign of stopping. Dancar also saw that several of his Brutes had been injured, and two others had been killed by the Sentinels.

Dancar looked around and saw several Sentinel Aggressor husks on the ground next to him. He reached over and grabbed one. He inspected it and saw the laser attached to the Sentinel. Dancar grabbed the laser and pulled it off. He held it in his hands, and found what looked like a firing mechanism.

Dancar took aim with the laser weapon and fired. He used the laser to blast oncoming Sentinels down from the wave that kept approaching. Brutus then looked at his Brutes.

Dancar: Utilize the construct's weapons...they prove much more effective against their shield systems than our own weapons!

The other Brutes nodded. Several Brutes began to grabbed the downed remains of the Sentinels and pull the laser weapons off of the husks.

Dancar looked on, and saw that the Elites were now making a push, trying to force the Brutes back even further.

Dancar knew he was losing ground quickly, and that they needed to push back soon.

Dancar turned back to his Brutes.

Dancar: Where are those power drainers!?

Obsidian Hierarchy Brute: We have them...they are ready...

Dancar: Throw them!

Several of the brutes stood up and tossed four power drainers right over Dancar's head, and right down the corridor at the Elites and the Sentinels. The Power Drainers scattered and rolled in different directions. The Sentinels that were being hit by the power drain field fell to the ground, while Elites who were stuck in the field lost their shields.

Elite Major: Fall back...the Brutes have deployed power drainers. Don't get yourselves caught in the field!

The Elites began to move away from the power drainer fields, but many of them were cut down by Spikers and Sentinel lasers that the Brutes had started using. Jaero was near the far end of the corridor, the furthest point from the Brutes. He was using a Focus Rifle to lay down suppressive fire.

Jaero turned to one of his Spec Op Elites.

Jaero: I want you to issue the order for a full tactical retreat. I want these Brutes to think they are making progress. If we can lure these Brutes far enough into the Installation...we can used deployed Sentinels to surround them. They will have nowhere to go when they are being killed from two sides.

Spec Op Elite: Right away...I will send the order!

The Spec Op Elite went further to the front line, telling each line of Elites to begin falling back. The Elites turned and began to retreat in order to reconsolidate their forces deeper inside of the installation.

Dancar saw the Elites falling back. He turned and looked at his Stalkers.

Dancar: Now is our chance...their attention is divided. We must advance...show them no mercy!

Dancar and the other Brutes charged down the corridor in pursuit of the Elites. Dancar had no intention of letting the Elites reconsolidate their forces so they could make another push. Dancar had every intention of striking the Elites while their numbers had been weakened.

Dancar and the other Brutes continued advancing. The Elites that were closest were the first to fall to the onslaught, as those Elites had not had the time to replenish their shields. These Elites were easy targets to take down.

The Elites fired back at Dancar and his Brutes. One of the Brutes next to Dancar got shot down by the Elites. Dancar watched the Brute infantry fall to the ground. Dancar looked back at the Elites and snarled. Dancar quickened his pace, forcing his Brutes to pick up their pace as well. Dancar was just short of a full out sprint.

Elite Major: They continue to advance…get more constructs!

It was at this moment that Dancar broke out into a full speed run, charging at the Elites. Dancar went in shoulder first and smashed into the Elite who had called for more Sentinels. Dancar looked down at the Elite and stomped on his chest several times, killing the Elite.

Jaero had been watching Dancar from the far end of the corridor through the scope on his focus rifle. Jaero spoke to the other Elites through the comm line.

Jaero: Direct your full attention to the Stalker at the forefront of the Brute offensive…he is their commander…take him down, that will weaken their resolve.

Jaero lowered his Focus Rifle, and looked at two Honor Guards that were next to him.

Jaero: I want you two to stay with me. If and when the time comes...I want you to bring me that Stalker's head. I have a feeling he is going to be trouble.

The two Honor Guards nodded.

Dancar looked down at the Elite he had just killed. He grabbed the Elite's Plasma Rifle and aimed it forward, firing off at any target of opportunity. Dancar was shoulder to shoulder with several other Brutes as they fired back at the Elites.

Dancar was hit several times more with plasma bolts, and was forced to fall back to cover to regenerate his shields. Dancar took this opportunity to cool down his near overheating Plasma Rifle.

Dancar: If these Elites are anything...it is resilient...and persistent.

It was only a few moments before his shields were at full capacity. Dancar emerged from cover and resumed his assault. The Brutes had pushed the Elites back deep into the installation. Dancar knew something was wrong. Ever since destroying the first wave of Sentinels with the power drainers, the Elites have continued to fall back, as if they were leading the Brutes somewhere. Dancar then realized that this was, in fact, the case.

Dancar ordered a full stop of his Brutes.

Obsidian Hierarchy Brute: Dancar...what is it?

Dancar: Something is wrong...I have never know the Elites to retreat so much. They are leading us somewhere. I have no intention of following without some idea to what is going on.

Obsidian Hierarchy Brute: You think they are leading us into a trap?

Dancar: Yes...Elites are not cowards...they would not be fleeing unless they wanted us to follow. Remember...Elites are skilled tacticians...they will use deception and trickery against us.

Obsidian Hierarchy Brute: What do you suggest we do?

Dancar: Not fall into their trap is the first thing that comes to mind.

Dancar paused.

Dancar: As for our next course of action. To be honest, I do not see an alternative. The only thing I can suggest is that we keep our eyes open...be aware of any traps.

Dancar paused.

Dancar: Stay aware of your surroundings. The moment you feel that something is wrong...inform me.

Obsidian Hierarchy Brute: Right...

Dancar and the Brutes resumed moving through the corridor. They eventually came to a much larger room. There were catwalks overhead, and even a second level above where they were walking.

Dancar stopped when he saw several Elites on the level above.

Dancar raised his Plasma Rifle and took aim at the Elite.

Jaero: It's about time...to think I was contemplating the notion of coming to get you myself.

Dancar was silent.

Jaero: I must admit...for a Brute...you have impressed me with your small brain's ability to problem solve and recognize simple patterns. However...your success is purely attributed to the fact that you have had a run of good fortune. That good fortune comes to an end.

Many Spec Op Elites began to decloak. Some of them were cloaked behind the large group of Brutes, while others were cloaked overheard on the second level.

Jaero: You Brutes crippled my ship...and killed Shipmaster Bael...I did not much appreciate that. I think I am going to avenge those crimes...make you atone for them....whether you like it or not.

All of the Spec Op Elites began to draw swords. The Spec Op Elites began to jump down from the overhead area. They all began to charge at the Brutes.

Dancar kept his eyes pinned on Jaero. He looked around, trying to find way up to get at Jaero. There was no direct route up. Dancar had to discontinue his search for a way up when he was attacked by a Spec Op Elite wielding a sword.

Dancar took aim at the Spec Op Elite with the Plasma Rifle and began to fire at the Spec Op Elite. The Elite ran right through the Plasma Bolts, but was met with a heavy fist in the face when he got sufficiently close to Dancar. The Elite did not expect Dancar to simply charge at him. This proved to be fatal for the Elite.

Dancar looked at the Elite and saw he was equipped with a portable Grav Lift. Dancar holstered his Plasma Rifle and kneeled to down to grab the device off of the Elite. Dancar activated the Grav Lift and deployed it. Dancar ran at the Grav lift, and jumped, propelling himself upward, right to the second level where Jaero was. Jaero looked at Dancar and immediately drew his energy blade.

Dancar: You were saying about my small brain? If you are so cleaver...how come you didn't see that one coming hmm?

Jaero roared. The two Honor Guards that were with him moved forward towards Dancar. They both had their Energy Staves ready. They both walked towards Dancar.

Dancar reached to his belt and pulled out a Cryogenic Grenade and tossed it at one of the Honor Guards. The Cryogenic grenade impacted the Honor Guard right in the chest. He dropped his Energy Stave and stumbled to the side. The other Honor Guard picked up the pace and ran towards Dancar. He swung the Energy Stave but Dancar hopped back to avoid the Stave. The Honor Guard had tremendous reach with the Energy Stave, as such, this was a clear advantage. The Honor Guard kept rushing Dancar swiping and stabbing at him. After several attempts to strike Dancar, the Honor Guard succeeded in jabbing Dancar's torso with the Energy Stave. A powerful energy blast erupted from the tip of the Stave when it came in contact with Dancer's shields. The Energy Blast completely drained his shields and knocked Dancar back.

Dancar reached to his side to grab his Plasma Rifle but the Honor Guard swung the Energy Stave again and smacked the gun from his hands.

The Honor Guard then thrusted forward to try and stab Dancar again, but Dancar jumped back.

Jaero watched Dancar and the Honor Guard fight.

Jaero: You have no idea how much this amuses me. You can't possible win Stalker...I have never seen an Honor Guard killed in combat...

Dancar ignored Jaero and kept his attention focused on the Honor Guard that was trying to kill him.

The Honor Guard made another jab at Dancar. This time, Dancar moved to the side, and grabbed the shaft of the Energy Stave and pulled it from the hands of the Honor Guard. Dancar then spun the Energy Stave around and batted the Honor Guard across the face with it. The Elite fell on his back. Dancar spun the Energy Stave around and slammed it down into the torso of the Honor Guard, impaling him.

Dancar then looked at Jaero.

Dancar: I think what you meant to say...was that you had yet to see an Honor Guard killed in combat.

Dancar walked towards Jaero. The First Honor Guard that was stru8ck with the Cryogenic Grenade tried to get back to his feet. Dancar looked at the incapacitated Honor Guard. He grabbed the Honor Guard by the back of his neck, lifted him up, and tossed him over the balcony to the level below.

Dancar: That's two of them now.

Jaero: Alright Stalker...let's see what you can do...

Jaero drew an Energy Sword.

Dancar: What's the matter? Do you need a weapon to defeat me? Should I put my hands behind my back as well?

Jaero roared, as he did not like being taunted by Dancar. Jaero charged at Dancar., swinging his blade right at Dancar's head.

Dancar ducked, and drove his fist right into Jaero's gut. Jaero stumbled back. He roared again as he charged forward and kicked Dancar right in the face.

Dancar stumbled to the side and Jaero charged with his blade again. Jaero swung the blade again, but Dancar recovered and caught Jaero's forearm mid-transition. Dancar got back to his feet, while still holding Jaero's arm. Dancar used his strength to overpower Jaero, and he slammed his fist right in Jaero's gut once more. Dancar did this several times until Jaero dropped his blade. Dancar then pushed Jaero back.

Jaero looked up at Dancar. He scoffed at the Brute.

Dancar: Get up...

Dancar looked down and picked up Jaero's energy blade. Dancar squeezed the hilt in his hand, breaking the sword.

Dancar: I said...get up...or are you too afraid to do so?

Jaero jumped back to his feet. He stared at Dancar.

Dancar: Much better...

Dacnar charged at Jaero and ounched him right in the face. Jaero stumbled back and shook his head. Jaero thenn charged back at Dancar and drove his shoulder right into Dancar's chest. Jaero threw a left hook, and a right hook right into Dancar's jaw. Jaero then backed up and kicked Dancar in the stomach, pushing him back.

Jaero then drew two Energy Daggers from his hands and charged at Dancar once more.

Jaero swung with the left Energy Dagger, but Dancar evaded the attack, but Jaero used this opportunity to drive the right Energy Dagger right into Dancar's side.

Dancar howled in pain. Jaero then drove the left Energy Dagger into Dancar's opposing side. Dancar howled again.

Jaero pushed Dancar back, with both blades in each of Dancar's side.

Jaero: There is no sound I enjoy more than the Brute howl of agony...

Jaero pushed the blades in further and twisted them. Dancar howled again.

Jaero: Did you honestly think you were any match for me?

Jaero pulled the blades out and kicked Dancar back. Dancar stumbled and fell to his knees. Jaero walked around Dancar until he was behind him. Jaero then jumped and Dancar's back and drove the Energy blades into his sides again. Dancar fell onto his stomach.

Jaero: You have no idea how much fun this is. Seeing you like this...in utter agony...

Jaero pulled the blades out.

Jaero: At a whim...I can make you howl...

Jaero jammed both energy Blades into Dancar's sides again.

Jaero: Whenever I feel like it...I can impose on you an unimaginable agony. That is power...

Jaero stood back up, leaving Dancar on the ground.

Jaero: What's the matter...lost the will to fight?

Jaero began to laugh.

Jaero: Pathetic...absolutely pathetic. To think the Honor Guards were defeated by you? Shameful. Their families will bare that disgrace for 10 generations. They deserve it.

Jaero began to circle around Dancar.

Jaero: What do you deserve? I am not ready to kill you yet. How easy it would be to just...remove your head.

Dancar tried to get back to his knees, but Jaero jumped on Dancar's back, knocking him back down.

Jaero: At any point...did I say you could get up? I don't think so.

Jaero knelt down, pressing down on Dancar's back.

Jaero: I want you to listen very carefully Brute...because I am about to describe, in graphic detail, what I am going to do to you.

Jaero began to laugh.

Jaero: The first thing I am going to do is hand your head on my wall as a testament to my clear superiority over the Brutes. As for the rest of your body...I am going to have you skinned. I will have your hide turned into a decorative tapestry. As for the rest of you...I may just space it...

Dancar began to snarl.

Jaero: What do you think of that?

Dancar owled in anger. He mustered all of his strength and lifted himself off the ground, tossing Jaero back. Dacnar got back to his feet and turned to face Jaero.

Jaero charged at Dancar again, but Dancar countered Jaero's attack and spun Jaero around. Dancar was behind Jaero, holding him like you would a hostage.

Dancar: You want to know what I think? I think you talk too much. You should have killed me when you had the chance. That is what I think.

Dancar snarled as he snapped Jaero's neck, killing him.

Jaero fell to the ground, limp.

Dancar: Whose head is going to be adoring whose wall...I wonder...

Dancar was breathing heavily. He had multiple stab wounds. He was thankful that the Energy blades had cauterized the wounds, and that he was not bleeding out.

===============================================================
Construct Assembly Line Security Bravo - Quinn's Teleportation Destination
===============================================================

Barrabus appeared in a bright flash of light. When he had completed his teleportation, he looked around. He was clearly outside of the installation.

Barrabus: Why would Quinn go outside?

Barrabus then looked down at the ground. He was standing on what appeared to be a red metal. The surface he was standing on was not flat, but rather, it was curved. Barrabus then looked further out along the ground and realized that he had been teleported on top of his ship, that was still sitting in ELO.

Barrabus: I'm on top of my ship...

Barrabus then heard a voice behind him.

Quinn: How astute...

Barrabus turned to face Quinn.

Quinn: Xyrho helped you...didn't he? I should have known he did not have the stomach for this. He was too young...far too idealistic. My mistake...

Barrabus was silent.

Quinn: I have a feeling Vanguard does not have the..."stomach" for my vision either. He knew what I meant when I said teleport me ON TO your ship...but he decided to teleport me ON TOP of your ship. I have a feeling he has his own agenda as well. Again...that was my mistake for not seeing his change in behavior...but that will be my last mistake...I assure you.

Barrabus: Quinn...without Vanguard...you have nothing. I am giving you this one chance to throw yourself at the mercy of The Covenant.

Quinn: Throw myself to the mercy of The Covenant? You speak as if I have no alternatives Chieftain. Do you think I need Vanguard? Vanguard was a means to an end...nothing more. He was an effective weapon...but a weapon all the same. Cleansing this galaxy of all of the inferior life that infects it is a monumental task...but not an impossible task! I do not need Vanguard to accomplish my goals, only to speed them up. I will find another way...

Barrabus: I doubt it. All of your Elites have all deserted you...or have lost faith in what you promise. You failed them...I doubt they will follow you any further.

Quinn: My Elites? If they were "my Elites" they would have killed you the moment you arrived. All of these Elites are either traitors, cowards, or failures. None of them are worthy of the name! Xyrho, for example, he is a traitor! Granted...he was useful, but now he is nothing but an obstacle...

Barrabus: I do not understand how someone who stabs you in the back could ever be useful.

Quinn: Is it not obvious Chieftain? Xyrho has a very keen technical expertise...he was the one who repaired and reactivated Vanguard. The only reason you are standing there is because of Xyrho's understanding of the technology of our gods. In fact, had it not been for Xyrho...Vanguard would still be a husk on a barren world. I guess he omitted that part...

Quinn paused for a moment. Barrabus waited.

Quinn: No matter...none of this changes the fact that I am going to kill everyone involved...starting with you.

Barrabus: Is that so?

Quinn: It is so Chieftain. Let me be very clear about this. When I am done killing you...I am going to kill Xyrho. I will then Kill Vanguard. After that, I will kill Jaero, then I will kill Malak. You already disposed of that pathetic worm Bael...and whatever is left of Rha is floating in space right now.

Quinn paused.

Quinn: I enjoy throwing things out the airlock.

Quinn paced back and forth.

Barrabus: What about Voro?

Quinn: He still has utility...he still commands loyalty among many Elites. If I decide not to kill him...I will keep him around and use him for my own means.

Barrabus: To be honest...I don't care if you use Voro for your own twisted pleasures...you are making all of these plans, forgetting one thing. You still have to kill me...and I don't die easily.

Quinn: We will see...won't we?

Quinn drew both of his Energy Blades and activated them.

Barrabus raised his Gravity Hammer. Quinn and Barrabus circled around each other. Barrabus snarled as he charged at Quinn. Barrabus raised his Gravity Hammer into the air and slammed it down towards Quinn. Quinn flipped back and evaded Barrabus' Gravity Hammer.

The Gravity hammer impacted the hull of the Devotion, though not denting it. Barrabus lifted his hammer back up and looked at Quinn once again.

Quinn: You are too slow Chieftain...

Barrabus charged at Quinn once more and attempted to slam Quinn down with the GRavity Hammer. Quinn evaded once more by jumping to the side.

Quinn, having moved to the side, retaliated and kicked Barrabus in the side, remembering how Barrabus had been favoring his mid section. This was done mainly to taunt Barrabus.

Barrabus stumbled. He took one hand off of the shaft of his Gravity Hammer and grabbed his side.

Quinn: What's the matter Chieftain...having difficulty?

Barrabus reached to his side to grab one of his Spikers, but remember that he had lost them with his fight with Voro.

Quinn: Come on mongrel...earn your title!

Barrabus gripped his Gravity Hammer with both hands again. He readied himself. He began to circle around Quinn.

Quinn kept his eye on Barrabus.

Quinn: I don't know what is worse...an indecisive mongrel...or one that never thinks anything through. Which one of these are you Chieftain?

Quinn laughed. He was very intent on taunting Barrabus.

Barrabus stopped. He snarled at Quinn again and charged at him. Barrabus leaped at Quinn, his Gravity Hammer in the air, ready to slam it down on Quinn.

Quinn rolled forward, right under Barrabus. When Barrabus' hammer impacted the hull of the Devotion, Quinn was behind Barrabus.

Quinn looked at Barrabus' back and decided to strike. Quinn readied one of his blades to stab Barrabus. However, Barrabus quickly turned, swinging his Hammer, and he smacked Quinn backwards.

Quinn was tossed away, flung into the air, by the Gravity hammer Impact.

When Quinn hit the hull of the Devotion, he slid across the metal.

Quinn shook off his daze from the hit, and jumped back to his feet.

Quinn: That hit was a courtesy Chieftain...I had a moment of weakness...feeling empathy for your feeble attempts to fight back. I want you to THINK you have some ability. it is more fun for me. There is no point in fighting, and killing, an enemy who thinks he is useless.

Quinn readied his blades as he charged at Barrabus. Quinn raised both blades and struck at Barrabus.

Barrabus blocked both blades using the shaft of his Gravity Hammer. Barrabus then kicked Quinn back.

Barrabus: Was that a courtesy too...or are you just getting sloppy?

Quinn roared. He charged at Barrabus again, raised his blades to strike again. Barrabus blocked the blades once more and kicked Quinn back once more.

Quinn roared with even more zeal and anger.

Barrabus: I get it...your talk big...but you lose your temper, like a female in heat, when things don't go your way. Your constitution is very brittle...I pity you.

Quinn was furious.

Barrabus grinned.

Quinn charged Barrabus again. His attacks became faster and much more aggressive, but they also became sloppy. Quinn used both of his blades to swipe at Barrabus. Barrabus kept moving back, evading the blades as Quinn swung them.

Quinn: You coward...you leap away and flee. Are you that terrified of me?


Barrabus continued grinning. He kept evading Quinn. Quinn eventually stopped. He holstered both of his blades and pulled out a Plasma Rifle that was at his side. He took aim at Barrabus and began to fire. The plasma bolts impacted Barrabus' shields. Barrabus stumbled back as Quinn unleashed a fury of plasma on him.

Quinn finally charged at Barrabus and kicked him in the mid section again. Barrabus had no shields to mitigate the impact, and as such, Barrabus felt the full force of Quinn's assault. This caused Barrabus to drop his hammer. Barrabus fell to the ground, on one knee, clutching his side.

Quinn: It is about time!

Quinn walked over to Barrabus and kicked him in his mid section. Barrabus groaned in pain as he fell on his back.

Quinn: Look how you cradle your injury...pathetic...

Quinn circled around kicked Barrabus in the side.

Barrabus groaned in pain again. He rolled over from the impact.

Quinn: Your species disgusts me. To think that anyone could possibly see the Brutes as an alternative to the Elites in terms of the military branch of the Covenant...it disgusts me. How could we let ourselves be matched by...stupid animals.

Barrabus coughed.

Barrabus: Well...it is not hard to stand out when the general level of competence of your competition is so low. The Elites are nothing special...

Quinn kicked Barrabus in the side again.

Quinn: You are wrong...the Elites are superior in every way! Your kind values nothing...lives for nothing. My kind lives for glory...for honor. We value greatness...we value our own history. Your kind...your kind converted and destroyed everything that it was. Nothing is sacred! You are a dead species...a waste of the power that created you!

Quinn knelt down. He used his left and to grab Barrabus side. He dug his fingers into Barrabus side and began to squeeze. Barrabus howled.

Quinn: Your kind is nothing. Your kind is nothing more than evolution that went in the wrong direction!

Quinn dug his fingers into Barrabus side even further. He began to squeeze harder.

Quinn then dropped the Plasma Rifle he was still holding. He used his right hand to punch Barrabus in the side. There was an audible snapping sound.

Quinn: Chieftain...I willing to let you throw yourself at my mercy...

Barrabus growled.

Quinn squeezed Barrabus' side even harder. Barrabus howled again as a result.

Quinn: Are you sure? It will end your torment.

Quinn paused and waited for Barrabus to respond. Barrabus remained silent.

Quinn: Stubborn to the end...your mistake.

Quinn released his hold on Barrabus' side. Quinn stepped back and kicked Barrabus in the side once more.

Barrabus moaned. He gripped his side with his left arm. He

Quinn circled around Barrabus. Quinn reached for his Energy Blades that were holstered at his side. He drew them both. He walked around to Barrabus' head and extended one of the blades, such that the tip of the blade was nearly touching the back of Barrabus' neck.

Quinn: No...this isn't right...

Quinn walked to Barrabus side and kicked him once more, trying to roll him onto his back. The impact forced Barrabus to roll over.

Quinn: There we go...I want the last thing you see, before you die, to be my face. I want you to see the sadistic pleasure I will feel when I forcefully remove your head for your body.

Quinn placed one of his feet on Barrabus' chest. He pressed his foot down, keeping Barrabus in place.

Quinn: Any last words?

Barrabus: Just one thing...

Quinn: Going to beg for mercy?

Barrabus: No...I am just curious...I need to know something...

Quinn: What?

Barrabus: How did you have so much difficulty defeating an injured Brute?

Quinn had a confused look on his face.

Barrabus then revealed that he had his combat knife in his hand. Barrabus raised his knife and then stuck the knife into Quinn's leg. This caused Quinn to stumbled, weakening the pressure Quinn was applying with his foot. This allowed Barrabus to push Quinn's foot off of his chest.

Barrabus pulled the knife out of Quinn's leg. Barrabus then used his free hand to lift Quinn's foot and push him back.

Quinn stumbled back away from Barrabus, and Barrabus climbed to one knee. Quinn saw Barrabus getting up. Quinn roared and charged at Barrabus again. Barrabus saw Quinn charging at him, and Barrabus lunged with his knife, jamming it right into Quinn's gut.

Quinn stopped in his tracks, dropping his Energy Blades from the shock. Quinn looked down at the massive serrated blade that was in his gut. Barrabus then pulled the blade out and pushed Quinn back again. Barrabus got back to his feet and glared at Quinn.

Quinn: If you think that a single stab wound will stop me...you are mistaken...mongrel...

Quinn charged back at Barrabus, yet again. Quinn clenched his fist and punched Barrabus right in the face. The impact caused Barrabus to drop his knife to the ground.

Barrabus regained his stance and glared at Quinn again. This time it was Barrabus who threw the punch. Quinn stumbled to the side, but he did not fall. Quinn looked back at Barrabus and returned with another fist to Barrabus' face.

Barrabus stumbled again, almost losing his balance, but he did not fall either. Barrabus swung himself around and stuck Quinn in the face with a left hook.

The two exchanged hit for hit, each one hitting the other in turn, trying to make the other fall. This went on for several moments, with neither side showing any sign of faltering.

Barrabus and Quinn were both breathing heavily. Quinn walked towards Barrabus, intent on hitting him again. However, Barrabus gave one final effort and charged into Quinn, shoulder first, , knocking him down to the ground. Quinn fell back and groaned.

Barrabus looked down at Quinn.

Barrabus: Is that it? Is that all you have?

Quinn struggled to get back to his feet. He struggled to get up, but Barrabus kicked Quinn right in the face with the bottom of his foot.

Quinn fell once more. Quinn tried to get up, but he was struggling. He managed to muster enough strength to get back to his feet.

Quinn: I will not...be defeated...by...

Barrabus punched Quinn in the chest as hard as he could. Quinn roared in pain, as he keeled over, clutching his chest. Barrabus then punched Quinn in the side of the head, knocking him to the ground once more.

Quinn was unable to stand. He was nearly incapacitated.

Quinn looked to his side and saw one of his Energy Blades nearby. He reached out to it and almost grabbed it, but Barrabus stepped on Quinn's arm, stopping Quinn from reaching the blade.

Barrabus: No Quinn...no weapons...can you not fight me without them?

Quinn roared again, he tried to muster the strength to get his arm free, but could not. Quinn then passed out from the fatigue and his injuries. Barrabus looked down at Quinn and let out a slight growl. Barrabus lifted his foot and stomped on Quinn's chest as hard as he could, but Quinn did not move. Barrabus now knew that Quinn was either dead or passed out. Barrabus knelt down and grabbed Quinn by the throat and lifted him up. Barrabus could feel Quinn still had a pulse, so he knew Quinn was still alive, but only incapacitated.

Barrabus almost fell over from his own fatigue. He was barely able to stand.

Barrabus dropped Quinn back to the ground and then grabbed one of his feet. Barrabus then looked around for his Gravity Hammer. He saw his Gravity Hammer about a dozen feet from where he was standing. Barrabus, dragging Quinn by his foot, stumbled over to his Gravity Hammer and picked it up. Barrabus then contacted Xyrho.

Barrabus: Xyrho...do you hear me? Are you receiving this message?

Barrabus waited for a response.

Xyrho: Chieftain? I see you are still alive...

Barrabus: I have Quinn...I have him beat...

Xyrho: I see...

Barrabus: At any time...you are free to teleport me back to where you are...I would rather not hand around this arena for much longer...

Xyrho: Right..give me a moment to track your position...and I can get teleport you back here.

Barrabus waited for Xyrho to teleport him back to the main chamber. It was not long before Barrabus was enveloped by a bright light.

===============================================================
Construct Assembly Line Security Bravo - Main Chamber
===============================================================

A bright light filled the main chamber as Barrabus was teleported into the room, still holding Quinn.

Barrabus looked around the room, and released Quinn's foot. Barrabus was then approached by Xyrho.

Xyrho: I see that you put Quinn in his place. Did he...resist?

Barrabus: Do they never?

Xyrho: I don't think so...

Barrabus looked at Xyrho as he paced around.

Xyrho: I tried to contact the other Elites...I tried to tell them to end hostilities. They did not believe me when I said that Quinn had betrayed us.

Barrabus: I am not surprised...I was expecting them to be stubborn about it.

Xyrho: But...the Elites are quickly losing ground to your Brutes. From what I last heard...your Brutes are pushing forward with no signs of stopping. I guess for you that is good news.

Barrabus: You mean news that a bunch of traitors and liars are getting what they deserve, at the hands of Brutes no less? Yeah...that I pretty good news.

Xyrho: On a side note...I managed to deactivate the shields around this room. We can leave at any time. We can take Quinn and go.

Barrabus: Hold on...There are still loose ends...

Xyrho stopped in his tracks.

Barrabus: What do I do with you?

Xyrho: What do you mean?

Barrabus: Quinn was very revealing in what he said. He told me that you were the one who reactivated Vanguard...

Xyrho: How could you believe what he says?

Barrabus: I believe that because you have proven your understanding of this technology already. It is not that much of a stretch to believe that you are capable enough to repair and reactivate a construct…

Xyrho: What does it matter? Vanguard must already be dead if you are standing there.

Barrabus dragged Quinn’s body over to a corner. He pulled out a Cryogenic Grenade and dropped it on Quinn, to keep the Elite confined and incapacitated

Barrabus: Vanguard is not dead. Vanguard was not with Quinn. In fact, the construct betrayed Quinn. That construct is still here…somewhere. We have to find it and eliminate it…

Barrabus walked back towards Xyrho. He looked at Xyrho in the eyes.

Barrabus: If we don’t find that construct…many lives will have been lost for nothing.

Xyrho: But…where do we begin looking? It is not like I can…

Xyrho was interrupted by a loud voice.

Vanguard: The larger bacteria speak the truth...

Vanguard decloaked on the far side of the main chamber.

Barrabus and Xyrho turned to face Vanguard.

Vanguard: I am Vanguard.

Barrabus growled

Barrabus: Yeah...we know very well who you are...

Vanguard: Then...you must also know that any effort to oppose me has only one inevitable conclusion...your certain, and absolute destruction. Surrender immediately...and I will grant you an immediate disintegration.

Barrabus laughed.

Barrabus: You don't honestly expect me to accept those terms...

Vanguard: I expect you won't.

Barrabus still had his Gravity Hammer in hand. He clenched the shaft of the Gravity Hammer.

Xyrho walked behind Barrabus.

Xyrho: Chieftain…this construct is very dangerous…we must be careful. I recommend that we reformulate a strategy to fight this thing.

Barrabus: You do what you want Elite. After what I have been through as of late…this construct is just another obstacle.

Vanguard looked at Barrabus. His eye dimmed.

Vanguard: It is unwise to mitigate my threat level…

Barrabus glared back at Vanguard.

Barrabus: You are a machine…a machine that has already been defeated once. You are clearly not impervious to hard…and I am ready to take my chances.

Vanguard’s eye lit up to full illumination.

Vanguard: Know this as you die in vain…

Vanguard began to charge his eye laser.

Vanguard: Your death will be slow…it will be without mercy, without remorse. You will die an empty death.

Vanguard took an offensive posture to fire his laser. Barrabus saw this and jumped to the side. Barrabus barely evaded the laser blast from Vanguard. However, the laser impacted the ground, exploding on contact. The explosion tossed Xyrho across the room, right into the wall.

Vanguard turned to face Barrabus.

Vanguard: Pitiful…

Vanguard began to charge his laser again. Barrabus saw this and scrambled to his feet, but was forced to jump to the side again to evade the laser blast. Barrabus narrowly escaped the impact.

Vanguard: Pathetic…you flee in terror…

Barrabus shook his head. He was getting back to his feet.

Vanguard: Your destruction is as certain as the expiration of your existence. In the grand design of existence…you are nothing.

Barrabus readied his hammer and he charged at Vanguard. However as Barrabus got close to striking Vanguard with the Gravity Hammer, Vanguard used the teleportation grid to move himself to the other side of the room.

Vanguard: Pathetic…you lack the ability to even face me. How can you hope to win? Your struggle…is hopeless…

Vanguard began to charge his laser again.

Vanguard: You have not known pain like you will soon come to know it.

Barrabus ran around Vanguard, keeping a wide birth between him and the construct. However, it was very simple for Vanguard to follow Barrabus, as all he had to do was turn. Barrabus was unable to outrun Vanguard’s ability to alter his facing direction. Barrabus was essentially racing again a speed with no upper limit.

Vanguard: Your form is slow…inefficient…

Barrabus came to a sudden stop and leaped backwards, evading Vanguards third laser blast.

Vanguard: I sense your fatigue…you are growing weak. I…am infinite…

Barrabus glared at Vanguard. He charged at Vanguard again, but Vanguard simply teleported to the other side of the room to safety.

Barrabus: How do I stop this thing? I can’t even get close.

Vanguard: Your existence is of no concern to me. You…are nothing.

Vanguard changed his attack method. He began to fire a steady and concentrated beam at Barrabus. He began to chase Barrabus around the room with the laser beam.

Vanguard: Your efforts to evade your destruction are pitiful.

Barrabus was quickly running out of stamina. He had been on the move non-stop since engaging Vanguard.

Barrabus desperately looked around the room for anything he could use, but he found nothing. The room was quickly being destroyed by Vanguard’s laser that was following Barrabus.

Barrabus then had a thought. He remembered how when he was first shot by Vanguard, how Dancar had used an incendiary grenade to apparently injure Vanguard. Barrabus realized that his best shot was with the use of explosives and other incendiary weapons.

Vanguard: My patience is infinite. I can pursue you forever. I will never tire…

Barrabus reached to his belt and saw that he had only two grenades, both of them were incendiary grenades. He realized he had to use them wisely, and that any failed attempt to ignite Vanguard would prove to be a fatal mistake.

Barrabus turned and ran right at Vanguard. He reached onto his belt, grabbed an incendiary grenade, and tossed it at Vanguard.

The grenade impacted Vanguard, and Vanguard immediately ceased his laser.

Vanguard: Unacceptable contact with pyromechanical device. Regenerating shields…

Barrabus knew this was his chance. Barrabus charged at Vanguard and leaped into the air, slamming his Gravity hammer down on top of Vanguard.

The force of the impact slammed Vanguard into the ground with tremendous force.

Barrabus was right in front of Vanguard. He stepped back and took another swing at Vaguard. Vanguard was tossed to the side and slammed into a wall.

Vanguard: Damage detected to quartary chassis. Attempting to bypass damaged systems…bypass complete.

Barrabus looked at Vanguard, who was still against the wall.

Barrabus: You know…I really appreciate the fact you inform me of all of the damage I am doing. It is easier to keep score. I wish all my enemies did that.

Vanguard: Humor…used as an attempt to mask fear and apprehension.

Vanguard lifted back into the air.

Vanguard: Commencing stage two attack patterns.

Vanguard’s eye lit up. Barrabus then saw two holographic recreations of Vanguard appear in a bright blue light, There was one holographic construct on each side of Vanguard.

Vanguard: My power infinite…

Barrabus shook his head in disbelief.

Barrabus: This must be a joke…

Vanguard, and the two holographic constructs each fired concentrated laser beams at Barrabus. Barrabus turned and ran away, while each of the three lasers pursued Barrabus. Two of the lasers branched off, one going to the left of Barrabus and one going to the right. The three lasers were attempting to cut off any form of retreat or possible direction of evasion.

Vanguard: Your future is empty…it is a void

Barrabus saw he was boxed in, but this did not stop him. Barrabus turned to his right and rolled underneath the laser beam.

Vanguard: Your efforts echo in vain...your resistance is hopeless.

The laser beams continued to chase Barrabus. Vanguard and the two holographic constructs began to spread out, trying to trap Barrabus in between laser beams. This tactic proved to be effective, as Vanguard was able to blast Barrabus right into the wall.

Vanguard discontinued his laser beam and looked at Barrabus.

Vanguard: That was but a taste of my power…

Barrabus noticed that the laser beam impact had force to it, but it was not as powerful as the first beam that originally broke two of Barrabus’ ribs.

Barrabus: The holograms…they must have been draining on Vanguards power…the holograms must have weakened Vanguard…that is why I am still alive after that hit…that is the only possible explanation.

Vanguard and the two holographic constructs hovered towards Barrabus.

Vanguard: I am now prepared to hear your cries of mercy…

Barrabus got back to his feet. He cursed at Vanguard in his native tongue.

Vanguard: Very well.

Before Vanguard could charge his laser, Barrabus grabbed his last incendiary grenade and tossed it at Vanguard. Once again, Vanguard was engulfed in flames.

The two holograms broke apart. Barrabus used this chance to charge at Vanguard with his hammer. He leaped into the air and slammed the hammer down on Vanguard, smashing the construct into the ground.

Vanguard: Unacceptable increase in temperature. Mitigating threat…

Vanguard overloaded his own shields to disperse all of the flames.

Barrabus then had an idea. Barrabus took several steps backwards, then charged at Vanguard and leaped right on top of the construct. He raised his hammer and slammed it down on top of Vanguard. Barrabus did this several times, smashing Vanguard’s chassis and internal components.

Vanguard: Critical damage to tertiary processor…connection lost to local installation…attempting bypass…unable to bypass.

Barrabus snarled as he hammered away at Vanguard.

Vanguard: Initiating counter-measures.

Vanguard lifted himself back into the air, causing Barrabus to stumbled off the top of Vanguard. Barrabus fell to the ground.

Vanguard: Aggressor laser is non-functional…commencing stage three attack patterns.

Vanguard hovered higher into the air. Barrabus looked up.

Barrabus: I’m not finished construct…

Vanguard: Incorrect…your resistance ends now…

There was another flash of blue light. Barrabus shook his head to shake off the disorientation. He looked in front of him and saw a holographic Brute Chieftain in front of him. The holograms looked exactly like Barrabus.

Vanguard: Commencing repairs…

Barrabus looked at the hologram.

Barrabus: I hate this construct…

The hologram moved towards Barrabus. After several steps, the hologram began to charge. Barrabus backed up, but the hologram was rapidly catching up to him. Barrabus realized that this hologram could very well match his skills. He surmised that this hologram was being controlled by Vanguard in the very same way that the previous holograms were.

Barrabus recognized how the hologram was moving. Barrabus saw that this hologram was based entirely off of him, right down to how the hologram held the Gravity Hammer. He realized that his engagements with Vanguard were no doubt noted and analyzed so that this hologram could be custom tailored to stopping Barrabus.

As the hologram got closer to Barrabus, it leaped and tried to hit Barrabus with the Gravity hammer. Barrabus managed to evade the hologram As the hologram’s Gravity hammer hit the ground, there was a discharge identical to that of a real Gravity Hammer.

Barrabus: This construct is able to reproduce the damaging effects of weapons in the holograms it creates. I have never seen anything like this.

The hologram looked at Barrabus. It was silent, but it turned and charged at Barrabus again.

Barrabus charged at the hologram. Barrabus swung his hammer at the hologram, but the hologram blocked Barrabus’ Gravity hammer by using its own Gravity Hammer.

Barrabus was taken aback by the holograms ability to block his attack. However, Barrabus retaliated by driving his knee into the hologram’s gut. The hologram was unaffected by this. The hologram retaliated by head butting Barrabus. This caused Barrabus to stumble back.

The hologram then spoke to Barrabus. The hologram sounded exactly like Vanguard.

Hologram: Pathetic…

Barrabus snarled.

Hologram: Irrelevant…

The hologram charged at Barrabus again. This time, Barrabus slammed his Gravity Hammer into the ground. The force of the impact knocked the hologram back.

Hologram: This form is limitless...this form is redundant...

The hologram jumped right back to its feet.

Hologram: There is no pain...pain is an illusion. Your attacks are pointless. This body does not matter.

Barrabus was unprepared for this instantaneous recuperation on the part of the hologram. Barrabus readied his hammer again.

Hologram: You are arrogant. I am superior.

The hologram charged right at Barrabus and hit him with its own Gravity Hammer. Barrabus was knocked back against the wall. Barrabus’ Gravity Hammer was destroyed in this impact.

Hologram: I will tear you apart.

Barrabus was breathing heavily. He climbed back to his feet with great difficulty. The hologram walked towards Barrabus.

Hologram: Impressive physical resistance. Obvious advantages overshadowed by limited intellect and uncontrollable violent outburst.

Barrabus growled as he ran at the hologram. Barrabus slammed his right fist, and then his left fist into the face of the hologram. The hologram was unaffected by these attacks. The hologram tossed its Gravity Hammer aside, causing the hammer to simply vanish.

The hologram then grabbed Barrabus by the throat, with one hand, and lifted him into the air.

Hologram: Prepare to be extinguished.

The hologram used its free hand and punched Barrabus right in the face.

Hologram: Face your annihilation.

The hologram then punched Barrabus in the mid-section, and then followed up with another punch to the face.

Hologram: Your agony will be unending.

Barrabus let out a very subtle groan. The hologram released Barrabus and tossed him aside. Barrabus landed on the ground, on his stomach.

Hologram: You have failed to stop me.

Barrabus opened one of his eyes. He saw an Energy Blade and an unused Plasma Grenade in front of him. It was one of Voro’s Energy Blades from much earlier. Barrabus surmised that the Plasma Grenade must have belonged to one of the Elites defeated earlier. The grenade must have fallen from one of the Elites during battle.

Hologram: Your efforts were pitiful…you have accomplished nothing. There was no victory for you…only failure. You have wasted your potential…you have squandered your existence by resisting me.

Barrabus growled. He reached for the Energy Blade and the Plasma Grenade. Barrabus placed the Plasma Grenade on his belt and then forced himself up to his feet. Barrabus then turned and ran at the hologram. Barrabus activated the Energy Blade and raised it. The hologram watched as Barrabus charged.

Hologram: Pitiful…I am infinite…

Barrabus ignored the hologram. Barrabus then leaped at the hologram but the hologram swatted Barrabus to the side, right into the wall.

Hologram: A wasted effort.

The force of the impact dented the wall as Barrabus fell to his knees. Barrabus looked up at the hologram walking towards him. Barrabus waited for the hologram to get close.

Hologram: I will tear you apart. I will shatter your brittle form. Submit now...

Barrabus waited for the hologram to be right in front of him. Once the hologram was less than a foot away, Barrabus raised the blade and stabbed it right into the mid section of the hologram. The blade was rotated vertically as it was stabbed into the hologram. Barrabus then stood up and lifted the blade right up through the hologram and cut the hologram right in half. The hologram then faded away.

Barrabus was breathing heavily. He looked to the side and spat some blood out of his mouth.

Barrabus looked up at Vanguard.

Barrabus: For something that has done nothing but boast about its own power…you have yet to kill me, or for that matter, keep me on the ground.

Vanguard looked down at Barrabus.

Vanguard: You grow weak…your brittle form is nearly broken. You are fragile.

Barrabus: Last time I checked…so is yours…

Vanguard: Irrelevant. You are powerless to stop me! I am infinite…my power is infinite…my resources are infinite.

Vanguard paused.

Vanguard: You are finite…you expire…you grow tired. The infinite will never succumb to the finite. You have already failed…you are already dead.

Vanguard lowered down.

Vanguard: Prepare yourself for your destruction…for it is at hand.

Barrabus ran at Vanguard. Barrabus jumped up and grabbed onto Vanguard, holding onto his Chassis from underneath the construct. Barrabus held onto Vanguard with his left hand, while his right hand was holding onto the Energy Blade. Barrabus was dangling from underneath Vanguard.

Vanguard was unable to support both his, and Barrabus weight. Vanguard slowly started to fall downwards.

Vanguard: Warning...excessive weight...insufficient power to maintain elevation.

Barrabus snarled as he stabbed upwards at Vanguard, stabbing the blade right into the underside of Vanguard. Barrabus pulled the blade out and stabbed Vanguard again.

Vanguard made several distorted humming noises, which indicated damage. Barrabus had been damaging Vanguard's internal components.

Vanguard: Warning...severe damage detected in primary systems...

Barrabus released Vanguard, and fell a very short distance to the ground. Vanguard himself was not hovering very far above the ground.

Barrabus took several steps back and looked at Vanguard. Barrabus then charged Vanguard again and hopped on top of the construct. Barrabus began to repeatedly stab the construct, trying to rip open the chassis. Vanguard was helpless to stop the attacks.

Vanguard: Bacteria...I order you to desist...allow yourself to be destroyed...stop resisting your destruction...

Barrabus did not stop. He continued to ravage Vanguard. Barrabus managed to pry open Vanguard's insides from the top. He reached in and started grabbing anything he could get a good grip on. Barrabus began to pull anything he could find, right out of Vanguard.

Vanguard: I speak for your gods...you are to consider me sacred...what you are doing is unacceptable. You are desecrating a creation of your gods...stop immediately...

Barrabus: You think what I am doing now is unacceptable? Just wait and see how far I can go with desecrating something. You will be surprised.

Barrabus reached onto his belt and pulled out the Plasma Grenade. He activated it and dropped it inside of Vanguard. Barrabus then stood up and jumped off of Vanguard, rolling as he hit the ground.

Barrabus winced when he hit the ground. Barrabus then covered his head as the Plasma Grenade detonated. The rear side of Vanguard completely exploded as the Plasma Grenade ravaged the construct.

Vanguard fell to the ground, his eye was growing dim with each passing moment. Vanguard's entire chassis was busted up, his eye was cracked, and the entire rear section of the construct was destroyed.

Barrabus slowly got back to his feet. He turned and looked at what was left of Vanguard.

Barrabus coughed from the smoke.

Vanguard's eye was struggling to stay lit. It was rapidly dimming and illuminating.

Vanguard: Irrelevant...

Barrabus just looked at Vanguard.

Vanguard: A minor setback...

Barrabus: Really?

Vanguard: I...am infinite...I cannot be destroyed...

Barrabus walked right up to Vanguard. Vanguard tried to fire his eye laser, but he could not.

Barrabus: Having a bit of trouble?

Vanguard: Irrelevant...

Vanguard paused.

Vanguard: Your victory is as empty as your future...

Vanguard's voice became more and more distorted.

Vanguard: You...have failed...

Vanguard's eye went black.

Barrabus: If failure means killing you...then I will happily fail this one.

Barrabus took a few steps back. He then sat on the ground and sighed. He took his head dress off and put it beside him. He ran his hand through his Mohawk.

Barrabus: I plan on sitting here...and not moving for the rest of the day...I'm done...I did my job...

Barrabus was about to lay down on the ground, but he heard gunfire. He rolled his eyes.

Barrabus: I guess not...back to it I supposed...

Barrabus got back to his feet. He gripped the Energy Blade in his hands. As he faced the door that was in the direction of gunfire, an Elite suddenly burst through the door, as if he were tossed.

Barrabus looked at the Elite hit the ground. It was a Minor.

Barrabus: Hi...

Barrabus then heard a familiar voice.

Brutus: Barrabus?

Brutus walked towards Barrabus. As he walked, he shot the ELite minor in the back of the head with a Plasma Pistol.

Brutus: What are you doing here?

Brutus then looked around. He saw the amount of destruction.

Brutus: Actually...I think I can figure it out.

Barrabus: I dismantled their leaders.

Brutus: When I met up with your team...they said that you vanished in a bright light.

Barrabus: Quinn teleported me to this room. He snatched me away wand brought me here in an attempt to kill me. He sent all of his lackeys after me. They failed. Quinn then tried to kill me...he failed. To top it off...Vanguard also tried to kill me...he failed as well.

Brutus: You destroyed the construct?

Barrabus: Yeah...

Dancar then walked into the room. He looked around.

Dancar: What did I miss?

Brutus turned and looked at Dancar.

Brutus: All of the good stuff...it seems.

Barrabus: Quinn is around here somewhere...find him. I left his body somewhere. He was still alive last I checked. Oh...and there is an Elite Major here somewhere too...he is also alive. Find him and bring him to me.

Brutus and Dancar nodded. Barrabus walked over to Vanguard's husk and hopped on top of it and sat on top of it.

Barrabus: Pretty comfy...now that I have the time to appreciate it.

Dancar returned shortly dragging a partially conscious Xyrho to Barrabus. Xyrho's arm was over Dancar's shoulders.

Dancar: Is this the Elite Major you speak of?

Barrabus: Yep...

Dancar then released Xyrho.

Dancar: Why do you want him alive?

Barrabus: Honestly...he proved his worth. When he realized that Quinn had betrayed all of the Elites...this Elite stood with me in opposing Quinn. I decided to let him live because of his...willingness to help me.

Dancar: I find that difficult to believe.

Barrabus: I also would have difficulty believing that an Elite helped a Brute...but that is what happened. Had it not been for Xyrho...Quinn would have escaped. Xyrho was the one that allowed me to use the teleportation grid to follow and capture Quinn. He has earned mercy.

It was not long before Brutus came back, dragging Quinn.

Brutus: I found him. Should I kill him?

Barrabus: No...

Brutus: Chieftain...why? This Elite is responsible for the deaths of some of our brothers. He deserves death.

Barrabus: Brutus...death is nothing more than a release. If we kill him now...how will he suffer for the rest of his life?

Brutus: Are we going to torture him?

Barrabus: No...we will let the Covenant deal with him. I plan on bringing him back to the hierarchs. He will be branded as a heretic, and he will spend the rest of his days...rotting in the Weeping Shadows of Sorrow. His agony in that prison will be unending. We have more important things to do than tend to the torture of this snake.

Brutus: It is our right to torture him!

Barrabus: Yes, it is Brutus...but it is also our responsibility to rebuild our numbers. What is more important Brutus; the torture of one Elite...or the continued survival of the Obsidian Hierarchy? I don't know about you...but I would rather spend the time seeking out Brutes to replace our fallen brothers. I would rather spend my time rebuilding the Obsidian hierarchy to its former glory.

Barrabus paused.

Barrabus: Unless you are questioning your Chieftain.

Brutus: No!

Barrabus: Then it is settled...we leave Quinn to the Covenant. That is final.

Brutus was silent. He grunted to acknowledge Barrabus' order.

Dancar: Well...that still does not explain Xyrho. Who cares if he helped you...just kill him.

Xyrho has been listening to the entire conversation. He felt the need to speak up.

Xyrho: If you want a reason to keep me alive...I can provide it.

Dancar kicked Xyrho to shut him up. Barrabus then snarled at Dancar.

Barrabus: Let him speak!

Dancar then quickly backed off.

Xyrho coughed.

Xyrho: If you plan on bringing Quinn before The Covenant High Council...he will speak of what happened here today. He will tell everyone that you, Chieftain, are part of the Obsidian Hierarchy. He will speak of how you destroyed a holy construct, and he will very well try and pin the death of the Minister of Abbadon on you.

Barrabus remained silent.

Xyrho: If you are true to your word of letting me survive...I will testify against Quinn. You have my word.

Dancar: I would sooner take the word of a female in heat. They will say anything to get what they want.

Xyrho: I don't care what your females say when they desire to mate...what I do know, is that Quinn will try to persuade the Covenant High Council to punish Barrabus as well. Quinn will tell the council of Barrabus' involvement with your order...he will tell them of the destruction of the construct. He will tell them everything...anything...only to get the wrath of the council on your Chieftain. However, the catch is, you all have a fallback position to go to. The Chieftain will be disgraced in the Covenant, but then he would have his excuse to stay with your...order. You lose nothing.

Xyrho paused.

Xyrho: But do you all honestly believe Quinn will spare me? He will throw me to the Council just as fast as he will throw Barrabus. Beyond the Covenant...I have nothing.

Xyrho paused.

Xyrho: I speak the truth when I say that I want to help you...but if you cannot believe that, if you all wish to believe is that I am looking out for my own best interests, then believe this; I am only looking out for my best interests, and my best interests lay with siding with you, and testifying to Quinn's treachery.

All of the Brutes were skeptical.

Brutus then spoke up.

Brutus: I hate to say this...but he is right. The Covenant High Council has many Elites sitting on it. If a Brute attempts to convict another Elite of heresy...they would be a breath away from jumping from their seats and striking the Chieftain down for even uttering such words. However...if this...Elite joins Barrabus in the accusation...and provides testimony supporting Barrabus...Quinn will not have any support.

Barrabus nodded.

Barrabus: I agree...

Barrabus paused.

Barrabus: Release the Elite.

The Brutes stepped back from Xyrho. Xyrho climbed back to his feet.

Barrabus: Brutus, Dancar...begin rounding up all of the Brutes...ensure that they all return to the ship.

Brutus: Yes Chieftain...

Brutus, Dancar, and the other Brutes all walked away. Brutus ragged Quinn away. Barrabus and Xyrho were left alone.

Barrabus: What do you think will happen to all of this stuff?

Xyrho: It is all useless. Without Vanguard...we will be unable to use it. This installation will remain silent for the rest of time. I do not believe there is any force...besides Vanguard or those like it, that can use this place. Vanguard became this installation. He tied himself so closely into the technology that his destruction has rendered this installation inert. There is nothing left here...only scrap metal and empty technology. It is all lost.

Barrabus: You sound disappointed...

Xyrho: In a way...I am. I have spent my life in the pursuit of knowledge to better help me understand what our gods left behind for us. I never felt my calling was one of glory, honor, or combat...but one of personal discovery. My values...were not the values of my fellow Elites, that is, what I considered important...my fellow Elites called unimportant.

Barrabus listened.

Xyrho: I was here...I saw this place alive. I began to understand...I found that knowledge. For a brief period in my life...I touched perfection. It is very unsettling to know that it will never happen again...and that my time spent with perfection was...wasted....squandered...abused...because of Quinn.

Xyrho turned away.

Xyrho: I don't want to be here anymore. I will return to your ship...depart when you are ready.

Xyrho turned and then started walking away. However, he stopped and turned back to Barrabus.

Xyrho: Chieftain...if I may make one final request...

Barrabus: You may.

Xyrho: I must ask that we attempt to recover the data core that was in my lab on The Chariot of 30 Silver Tongues.

Barrabus: Why?

Xyrho: I may have records that will assist in our efforts prove Quinn's deception and treachery. I made it habit to record my own dealings with Vanguard...during his repair. It felt necessary to document my work. There were times when Quinn spoke to Vanguard...and I am positive that I have those conversations recorded. With careful selection...they could prove useful.

Barrabus: Very well. We will make that a priority.

Xyrho nodded and continued walking away. Barrabus watched Xyrho walked away. Barrabus hopped off of Vanguard and walked around the broken construct. Vanguard was totally lifeless.

Barrabus remained silent. He looked at what was left of Vanguard. He then contacted his ship.

Barrabus: This is Chieftain Barrabus...before we leave...I am going to need a few Brutes to help me move something.

===============================================================
High Charity - Council Chambers - 10 Days Later
===============================================================

Barrabus and Quinn stood in front of a Minister in the Council Chambers. Barrabus had returned to wearing his standard issue armor, and Quinn was bound at his hands. His armor had clear signs of battle damage.

Brutus, and Dancar were also present, though they stood at the entrance of the council chambers. They were also wearing standard issue armor.

Xyrho stood behind Barrabus, as they all faced the Minister at the forefront of the Council Chambers.

Minister of Judgment: Let me make sure I fully understand this story...

The Minister of Judgment paused.

Minister of Judgment: The Minister of Abbadon commissioned both of you, as well as several other Shipmasters, to investigate a holy place...a place used by out gods?

Barrabus: Correct.

Minister of Judgment: You I find this odd...as The Minister of Abbadon had never spoken of this. We were unaware of this place.

The Minister of Judgment paused.

Barrabus: He told us that this was a mission of great importance...so important that secrecy was of the utmost importance. He told us that any failure to keep this a secret...could cause a calamity...

Minister of Judgment: As such...The Minister led this secret pilgrimage, without us knowing.

The Minister of Judgment winced.

Minister of Judgment: Then...you tell me that Quinn, conspiring with the other Elite Shipmasters, assassinated The Minister of Abbadon, with the help of a construct that Quinn had been in possession of?

Barrabus: Correct.

Minister of Judgment: And you...Chieftain Barrabus...you attempted to stop the assassination, but were thwarted by the Construct, as well as Quinn and his cohorts?

Barrabus: Correct.

Minister of Judgment: So you managed to escape, regroup, and lead a team of carefully selected Brutes to avenge The Minister of Abbadon's death, which culminated in the destruction of The Chariot of 30 Silver Tongues, two other cruisers, the capture of Quinn, the defeat his allies, and the destruction of the construct?

Barrabus: Yes. I found it necessary to carefully select my Brutes for this mission. If word of this disgusting betrayal was to become public...there would total anarchy. I acted as I did to preserve both stability and discretion.

Quinn: The Chieftain lies! He did not carefully select Brutes from his ship...he allied himself with the Obsidian Hierarchy! What is worse than that...he is their leader!

All of the Elites on the council looked at Barrabus. They began to shout.

Elite Councilor: Quinn is innocent...we are being lied to by the mongrel!

Another Councilor began to shout.

Elite Councilor: hang the mongrel by his entrails!

Minister of Judgment: There will be order in this Council!

All of the Councilors began to quiet down.

Barrabus: Blind fools...they support Quinn no matter what. They could go so far as to watch Quinn rape their mothers and daughters...and they would still support him.

Minister of Judgment: Is this true Barrabus? Are you in league with The Obsidian Hierarchy?

Barrabus looked at the Minister of Judgment.

Barrabus: Minister...if I were part of the Obsidian Hierarchy...I would not be here. Quinn would not be here, as he would have been executed by my hands at the first moment of opportunity. Too many of my own Brutes died in order to bring him here. The Obsidian Hierarchy would demand his immediate death. However, as you can see...that did not happen. How could I be part of the Obsidian Hierarchy if I am bringing him before the Covenant to face his judgment? The very logic contradicts itself!

Minister of Judgment: Point well made Chieftain.

Barrabus: Quinn is well known to be very charismatic. He spins lies very well.

Quinn grew furious. He glared at Barrabus.

Quinn: Deceitful mongrel!

Minister of Judgment: be silent Quinn!

Quinn grew silent.

The Minister of Judgment sighed.

Minister of Judgment: Where was I?

The Minister of Judgment paused.

Minister of Judgment: Oh yes. Barrabus...you have also admitted to destroying the construct...with your defense being defense of both yourself and the Covenant.

Barrabus: Yes. I deeply regret the destruction of the construct...I was faced with no alternative. The construct was far too powerful to capture...and Quinn had manipulated it with lies and treachery. Quinn had convinced the construct to turn its destructive powers against our Covenant. I take full responsibility for the destruction of the construct...

The Minister of Judgment sighed.

Minister of Judgment: We will deal with that later Barrabus.

Minister of Judgment: With all of that said...Chieftain Barrabus...you bring Quinn, a decorated and highly respected Elite before this Council...accusing him of serious crimes, with each accusation more heinous in nature than the one before it.

The Minister paused.

Minister of Judgment: Ensure that I have heard your initial charges correctly. You are accusing Quinn of murder, heresy, conspiracy to undermine out holy Covenant, abuse of sacred relics, and attempted genocide. Is this correct?


Barrabus: That is correct.

Minister of Judgment: Now is the time to present any proof you may have to further convince this Council.

All of the Elite Councilors whispered amongst themselves. They found Barrabus' accusations to be without any merit. They didn't feel there was enough proof.

Barrabus: I am sure you have seen what remains of The Construct?

Minister of Judgment: I have. While the sight of the Construct was...disturbing...it cannot fully prove anything you are saying. This Council deals in facts Chieftain.

Barrabus grinned.

Barrabus: There is more.

Barrabus stepped aside and looked at Xyrho.

Barrabus: This is Major Xyrho. This Elite assisted me in stopping Quinn.

All of the Elite Councilors were now paying attention. They all looked at Xyrho, shocked that he would side with Barrabus over Quinn.

Xyrho: Minister of Judgment...I am here to testify to you that Quinn is nothing more than a heretic! Every charge brought against that traitor...is true!

The Elite Councilors all shouted at Xyrho.

Minister of Judgment: There will be order!

The Elite Councilors began to quiet down.

Minister of Judgment: Xyrho...what can you offer us that can prove beyond any doubt that Quinn is, as you say, a traitor and heretic?

Xyrho: His own words...

Xyrho was holding a small device. He pressed several buttons and a recording began to play. It was a recording of a conversation between Quinn and Vanguard.

Quinn: One way or the other construct…you will kneel to my will! You will do what I say…and there is nothing you can do about it! Either cooperate of your own free will…or be manipulated to cooperate!

Security: You are a primitive organic life form…you are nothing more than sentient bacteria…but bacteria all the same. Your mind is inferior, almost non-existent in the scope of existence. Your pathetic existence is measured in decades, insufficient time to accumulate the information necessary to understand my nature or the nature of my creators…the ones you call gods. You cannot control what is infinitely out of your understanding…

Quinn: Watch me.

Quinn was stunned silent. The Council was totally silent...

Xyrho: There is more!

Bael: How do you expect to destroy the Brutes with something that does not even listen to you?

There was another pause.

Quinn: We are working on that. In the end…this thing is a machine…machines can be controlled.

Vanguard: You…are bacteria…incapable of controlling what is infinitely your greater…

The Elite Councilors looked at each other. They began to shout.

Elite Councilor: Lies...this is fabricated evidence! Lies...lies and slander!

Xyrho ignored the Councilors and played the next recording.

Malak: This is so far beyond heresy...I cannot even put it into words.

Quinn: For the last time...this isn't heresy...this is our destiny.

Rha: Quinn...this is...beyond anything any of us have ever done. You are proposing a war against every living being in this galaxy.

Quinn: I have never known an Elite to be afraid of war...no matter the odds! Are you afraid of the conflict Rha?

Rha: No...

Quinn: Then I have your support...excellent.

Rha: All I am saying...is that we should carefully consider what we are doing!

Quinn: Rha...consider this; this construct wants our help. If Vanguard of our gods wants to help us destroy the races that cling to our feet, who are we to deny it?

Rha: This vanguard turned on our gods...it hardly deserves to be taken seriously.

Bael: I agree with Quinn.

Rha: What? Are you out of your mind Bael?

Jaero: I too agree with Quinn…

The Elite Councilors were about to riot. They refused to believe what they were hearing.

Elite Councilor: Kill the Chieftain...kill the liar! Quinn is innocent!

Xyrho played one final recording.

Rha: If the Minister of Abbadon discovers what we are doing…

Quinn: He won’t. I plan on murdering the Minister of Abbadon. He is a fool...and he will die by my hands!

Rha: If Chieftain Barrabus discovers what you are doing…

Quinn: Chieftain Barrabus will not be a problem for much longer. His service to the Covenant is going to end by the time I am ready to seize the Forerunner forge. His ship will float home in pieces. If he manages to survive...I will be sure to propagate the lie that it was Chieftain Barrabus that murdered the Minister of Abbadon. My only regret is not seeing him hung by his entrails for my crime!

The Honor Guards in the Council Chambers surrounded the Minister of Judgment, in case the Councilors became violent.

Minister of Judgment: Be silent! Be silent! There will be order!

Dancar looked at Brutus while this all went on. Dancar spoke to Brutus.

Dancar: Why are these Elites so stupid?

Brutus: Being an Elite is synonymous with being stupid.

All of the Councilors began to quiet down. Soon, there was order and silence.

Minister of Judgment: One more outburst...and this entire council will be discarded using the full fury of the Hierarchs!

The Minister of Judgment paused. He glared at Quinn.

Minister of Judgment: Quinn...why? Why have you done this?

Quinn was silent.

Minister of Judgment: Your heresy...it will stain your bloodline forever. There is no honor in what you have done. You have destroyed so much...so much good undone...

The Minister of Judgment paused.

Minister of Judgment: It is my ruling...that Quinn - state of Vadosee be stripped of his rank. You will henceforth be known as a heretic, and will be branded as such. You will spend the rest of your days...rotting, growing old, in the darkest depths of the Weeping Shadows of Sorrow.

The Minister of Judgment paused.

Minister of Judgment: You have cast a shadow over your entire race Quinn. Let no one feel any remorse for the agony that is to come down upon you. May all Elites look upon you as an example of what true heresy, true dishonor actually looks like.

The Honor Guards approached Quinn and grabbed him.

Minister of Judgment: Get this filth out of our holy city...he dirties our sanctity by being near us!

The Minister of Judgment paused. He watched Quinn get led away from the podium.

Minister of Judgment: This council is dismissed...all save for Chieftain Barrabus will leave the Council Chamber...

Barrabus looked at Brutus and Dancar and nodded. They turned and left the Council Chambers.

Xyrho turned and walked towards the exit. He stopped beside Barrabus.

Xyrho: Whatever happens as a result of the Minister of Abbadon's death...whatever happens as a result of Vanguard's destruction...I hope it turns out well for you.

Xyrho then walked off. In a matter of moments, Barrabus was left alone with the Minister of Judgment.

Minister of Judgment: Chieftain Barrabus...

Barrabus remained silent.

Minister of Judgment: I am faced with...

The Minister of Judgment paused.

Minister of Judgment: With a difficult situation.

The Minister of Judgment paused again.

Minister of Judgment: In regards to the destruction of the construct named "Vanguard" and the death of the Minister of Abbadon...I find no fault in your actions.

Barrabus: Is this so?

Minister of Judgment: With Vanguard...you acted to protect our holy Covenant. Had you not of destroyed that construct...it could have ravaged many lives...shaken our core beliefs...change the Covenant as we knew it. You not only saved lives...but you saved the faith of many.

Barrabus stood tall. He held his head high.

Minister of Judgment: Between you and I...The Minister of Abbadon was...his views were suspect. For some times the highest echelons of our holy Covenant had suspected The Minister of Abbadon of being a heretic, valuing heretical views. This was confirmed when we learned of his secret pilgrimage. Had the Minister of Abbadon been returned to us, unharmed, he would be standing there alongside Quinn.

Barrabus: What are you saying?

Minister of Judgment: I am saying that our Covenant does not need to be shaken by the fact that one of our holy Ministers was a heretic. The Minister of Abbadon is dead...his heresy is dead. The matter is closed.

Barrabus nodded.

Minister of Judgment: Hold your head high Barrabus...you have done work that our gods would be pleased with.

he Minister of Judgment waved his hand.

Minister of Judgment: You may go...

Barrabus left the Council Chambers. He met Brutus and Dancar outside. Xyrho was nearby, but he was leaning on a wall.

Dancar: I must say Barrabus...that worked out very well.

Brutus: Good call on bringing Quinn back. Quinn will spend the rest of his days rotting, and now you look even better in the eyes of the Covenant...not that I care or value such things.

Barrabus: But I value such thing Brutus. News of my victory will spread to ever Brute...which means more respect for me. The more I am respect...the more influence I will have. I can do a lot of good with what I have done here today...good for our kind, good for our brothers.

Brutus: I guess you are right.

Barrabus: I would be a pretty lousy Chieftain if I could not do any good for our brothers.

Xyrho let out a slight cough. This caught Barrabus' attention. Barrabus looked over his shoulder at Xyrho, then back at Dancar and Brutus.

Barrabus: Go on ahead...wait for me at the Phantom...I will be there in a moment.

Brutus and Dancar looked at Barrabus, then at Xyrho, then back at Barrabus.

Dancar: Very well...but we won't wait long...

Brutus and Dancar turned and walked away. As they did, Xyrho approached Barrabus.

Xyrho: Well done Chieftain...well done.

Barrabus grunted.

Xyrho: Chieftain...you can be sure that my knowledge of your involvement with the Obsidian Hierarchy will remain a secret.

Barrabus: It better Xyrho...or else the secret of your involvement with Vanguard will no longer be a secret. If I go down...so do you.

Xyrho: And here I thought we trusted each other.

Barrabus: I don't trust Elites.

Xyrho: But you should trust me. When the time came, when it was most important...I stood by you, and supported you in your efforts to take Quinn down.

Xyrho paused.

Xyrho: I would rather not think that we are holding a blade to each other's throats over secrecy. I would rather think of each other as friends...or at the very least...allies. I know you don't trust Elites. For a long time...I did not trust Brutes...I still don't. However, I trust you.

Xyrho paused again.

Xyrho: Barrabus...you proved to me that not all Brutes are savage, warlike, merciless killers who know nothing of reason and critical thought. I saw how you dealt with Quinn, his allies, with Vanguard, even your own Brutes. For one instant...you proved to me that Brutes are...without a doubt...in possession of a unique nobility that only they understand. I got a glimpse of it, and for that...I count myself lucky.

Xyrho paused.

Xyrho: There are Elites like Quinn...and there are Elites like me. Along the same lines...there are Brutes like you and Brutes who are not like you.

Barrabus: I will admit...you disproved many of my...preconceptions. I have much to think about.

Xyrho: I'm glad that is so Barrabus. I am glad that unique nobility continues to guide you. Any other Brute would never of uttered those words...but you did...and that is what makes you...unique.

Xyrho began to walk away.

Xyrho: Because of you Chieftain...I am now forced to re-evaluate a lifetime of preconceptions about your kind. Consider re-evaluating your lifetime preconceptions...alright?

Xyrho walked away, not saying another word. He disappeared into the dark corridors of high Charity. Barrabus sighed.

Barrabus: Very well...

===============================================================
Weeping Shadows of Sorrow - Prison Cell 19 - 14 Months Later
===============================================================

An Elite was sitting in a small 7x7 cell. The cell was dark and dank. The Elite has bruises and scars all over his body. The Elite was starved. He had not seen natural light since his initial arrival. This Elite was Quinn.

An Elite Major paced back and forth past the cell every few minutes. Quinn watched the Elite Major pace back and forth, day in and day out. Quinn watched this Elite Major every day, all day. He had grown accustom to watching him go by. Quinn had managed to determine the exact amount of time needed for the Elite Major to appear in front of the small shield barrier that served to confine him.

Quinn was nearing the end of the counting cycle. He expected the Elite Major back in another 9 seconds. However, when that 9 seconds passed, and Quinn did not see the Elite Major, he stood up and walked to the shield barrier. He did not understand why the Elite Major had stopped his rounds.

Quinn then saw an Elite in black armor walk in front of his cell. This Elite seemed familiar.

Voro: Quinn...

Quinn looked at the Elite.

Voro: It's me...Voro...

Quinn: Voro...

Voro: Yes...I am here to get you out of this place. The Elites that watch over this place do not know I am here. The faster I can get you out of here, the less of a chance anyone will know you are gone.

Voro disabled the shield barrier.

Quinn: How long...

Voro: 14 months...give or take a few days...

Quinn had lost track of time. The only time he knew was the Elite walking back and forth.

Voro: Quinn...we must go...

Quinn stumbled out of his cell. Voro had to catch Quinn before he fell.

Voro then access his comm.

Voro: This is Voro...I am going to need extract in less than two minutes. Be at the extraction point...no delays.

Voro dragged Quinn through the dark prison. Quinn managed to utter a few words.

Quinn: Why did you wait so long?

Voro: I needed to rebuild our strength. We lost many of our soldiers to the Brutes...do you remember? After I rebuilt our numbers, I needed to find you. I needed to plan this escape. This was not easy...this was a very long process.

Quinn did not respond.

Voro: I told the other Elites that you were unjustly imprisoned...which I believe you were. I did not lie to them. I found Elites sympathetic to you...they are helping me with this.

Voro kept moving, dragging Quinn through the corridors.

Voro: We have a few ships even...the ships that survived the battle of the Forerunner installation...

Voro moved through the prison, towards the main exit of the prison. There were incapacitated Elites on the ground. Several of Voro's Elites had taken over the entrance of the prison, ensuring a quick and easy escape.

Voro then spoke to his Elites.

Voro: Alright...let's move...let's get out of here...

The other Elites followed, while another led in front of Voro. The leading Elite led Voro outside to a waiting Phantom. Voro, Quinn, and all of the assisting Elites jumped into the Phantom. The Phantom's side doors closed and it cloaked, as it flew away from the prison. Voro set Quinn down on the ground of the Phantom, propping him up against a wall.

Spec Op Elite: Is that...Quinn? He doesn't look good.

Voro: I expected this much. The Weeping Shadows of Sorrow prison...it is a vile place...ruthless.

Spec Op Elite: Is he going to be alright?

Voro: He will recover...sooner or later he will recover. It will take time...but he will eventually fully recover.

Quinn looked at Voro.

Quinn: Voro...well done. I thought I had been abandoned...I was wrong.

Voro: I was not about to let you stay in that place forever. My only regret is not being able to find you faster. The Brutes had decimated our numbers...I needed to rebuild before I could do anything.

Quinn: It's alright Voro...all of that time has given me time to think. I swear...on every drop of blood in my body...I am going to make that Chieftain pay for what he did to me.

Quinn paused.

Quinn: I have endured agonies beyond belief because of that Chieftain. I am going to exact a bitter revenge on both him...and those responsible for putting me there!

Voro: Well...we will be ready for that time...

The End...


I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

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