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Old [Halo] New! STB - 2521
Default 05-08-2012
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Naked Crook
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Achievements Three Red LightsMan of the PeopleRehab is Needed
User Title: TNO God
Posts: 27,497
Credits:



This Solo Thread Backstory Takes place in 2521. This is a no-participation story, posted simply to read, and not to respond or participate in.

This Solo Thread Backstory is considered 100% canon to the NHRPG, so it should be read and appreciated as such.

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Statistics:

Words: 68 417
Pages: 183
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Obsidian Hierarchy


Chieftain Barrabus
Character Sheet

Brutus
Character Sheet

Dancarus
Character Sheet

Urrsa
Character Sheet



Covenant Heretics

Shipmaster Quinn
Character Sheet

Special Operations Officer Voro
Character Sheet

Shipmaster Jaero
Character Sheet

Shipmaster Rha
Character Sheet

Shipmaster Malak
Character Sheet

Shipmaster Bael
Character Sheet

Xyrho
Character Sheet



The Covenant



Minister of Abbadon
Character Sheet



Forerunner


Vanguard
Character Sheet


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Last edited by Naked Crook; 08-04-2012 at 05:24 PM.
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Old
Default 05-08-2012
  #2
Naked Crook
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Naked Crook is going back in time
 

Achievements Three Red LightsMan of the PeopleRehab is Needed
User Title: TNO God
Posts: 27,497
Credits:



Current Date: December 2521

===============================================================
High Charity - Hall of Sorrows - Political District
===============================================================

An Elite and a Minister were walking through the large corridors of High Charity. They were in an isolated section of the city, a section primarily reserved for politicians and council members. They had been conversing for some time, with mostly the Elite filing a grievance against others.

Minister of Abbadon: You speak so many daggers against those who call you ally? Why is your heart so blackened to those NOT of kin to the Elites?

Quinn: I have watched our great Covenant turn from a powerful empire to one that panders to the weak. There has been too much recruitment of…the lesser races. I do not approve!

Minister of Abbadon: You believe that the Covenant was in error to spread the word of our gods? Do you think it was wrong to bring the truth that is the holiness of our gods to say…the Brutes?

Quinn: Yes! They are too weak in mind to be able to comprehend it!

Minister of Abbadon: Are they? Their minds have been quite open to our message…they have been very successful, and I dare say, their rapid conversion is a lesson even for the Elites, who took many generations to forsake their old ways in favor of the righteous path. For all of their obvious failings, this is their one strength.

Quinn: I am not talking about how easy it is to convert them from their…animalistic ways. I am speaking of their overall intellect! They are stupid! They quarrel over food, snarl at each other like caged animals, and kill each other for sport.

Minister of Abbadon: Not all do…some, but not all.

Quinn: I am surely not the first to voice my concern…but to give some of our ships to those mongrels…it is an insult to everything I hold dear! Everything that I value has been violated by giving those…creatures of lesser stature any authority! They are supposed to be servants…nothing more! They are filthy, disease ridden…

Minister of Abbadon: Enough Quinn! Do you dare question the authority of those we call our Prophets? It was their wisdom that gave the Brutes this chance. Perhaps you should throw your anger at the High Prophets…I am sure they would enjoy dragging your entrails through our holy city for your level of disrespect.

Quinn: It was not my intent to offend…

Minister of Abbadon: No…it was not Quinn. Your intent was to simply attack, you were so far beyond offend, that I was unable to see you past the horizon.

Quinn: All I want to do is voice my concern that the Brutes are not…mentally equipped…to be able to handle the complexity of commanding a ship, let alone, anything else in our holy Covenant. Their roles should remain that of soldiers under our feet, dispensing the will of the Elites…and the Covenant.

Minister of Abbadon: Quinn…my personal belief agrees with you…but I have a responsibility to carry out the edict of our Prophets. They know what is best! As much as I agree that the Elites are superior, in ALMOST every way…

Quinn: Almost?

Minster of Abbadon: I spoke of their willingness to convert not but moments ago.

Quinn rolled his eyes.

Minister of Abbadon: As I was saying; the Brutes are inferior in almost every way. They lack elegance, discipline, honing, grace, and personal discipline. However, they must be given this chance, only if to appease the Prophets and High Council. You must accept this decision with humility Quinn.

Quinn paused.

Quinn: What if I could prove that they were not worthy! What if I could show the High Council that they are unfit! Would you help me put them back down where they belong?

Minister of Abbadon: If you could somehow show their feral nature, combined with authority, can harm our holy Covenant…than I would gladly assist you in taking your concerns to the Hierarchs. However, be rightfully warned Quinn…I will not be an accessory to any deception on your part. I will not allow my position to be used unfairly, and falsely, if only to advance your own personal views. I will not assist in the condemnation of anyone who has done no wrong against our holy Covenant.

Quinn turned away. He began to think.

He then began a very subtle laugh.

Quinn: I would never do anything that would ever cast doubt on honesty; to do so would be…dishonorable.

Minister of Abbadon: I am glad to hear this Quinn. I have always believed in your kind’s sense of honor. It is very refreshing to know that it is something that runs through your body, as important as the very blood that gives you life.

Quinn turned back to face the Minister of Abbadon.

Quinn: I must take my leave…there is much to be done…

Quinn turned away and departed from the company of the Minister of Abbadon.

Quinn: I will show the Covenant what the Brutes are truly like...I will destroy them in the eyes of the Covenant...and the Minister of Abbadon is going to help me...whether he likes it or not. I will not rest until this Covenant is reshaped in an image suitable to my liking…free from all of the weakness that corrupts it.

===============================================================
Covenant Assault Carrier Devotion - Dining Room - In Orbit of Doisac
===============================================================

Two Brutes were sitting at a large table. They were sitting across from each other. The table was filled with various dead animals, each cooked, and each almost completely eaten.

There was half of an infant Thorn Beast sitting on a platter in the center of the table.

One of the Brutes looked at the other and began to speak.

Brutus: I have to admit…the food prepared here is much better than anything I have eaten on the home world.

The other Brute was silent. His muzzle was busy trying to pick every last piece of meat off of a large bone.

Brutus: I never had anything like this when I was your age. Never had a ship like this, never had service at a whim, and I certainly never had the kind of luxuries you have. I think the Covenant is spoiling you…

Brutus shook his head.

The other Brute was still pulling the last remnants of food off of the large bone.

Brutus: I fear the Covenant is simply trying to forge a lackey out of you. They see how much other Brutes respect you, and they see how much attention you attract…they want that loyalty through you.

The other Brute stopped. His eyes shifted up to Brutus.

Brutus: Have you ever considered that THIS might not be your calling?

The other Brute was silent.

Brutus: To be honest…I don’t think you belong here. Someone like you does not deserve to serve. In no uncertain terms…those “hierarchs” say you serve. They embellish it and call you humble, and loyal.

The other Brute continued to stare.

Brutus: Never thought I would see the day when YOU would allow that to happen. You have let luxury, and comfort, push your true nature aside. I expected better from you. I expected better from my own spawn…

The other Brute shook his head.

Barrabus: I still don’t get why you dislike the Covenant so much.

Brutus: I dislike them because they took away who were, and changed our entire society into...some cult. We once lived entirely for the thrill of existence…now we “serve” beings we conveniently cannot see.

Barrabus: That is heresy!

Brutus: Don’t give me the whole dogmatic response Barrabus! Saying something is heresy is that programmed response they have hammered into your head. There is a part of you that agrees with me!

Barrabus: Not that I know of…

Brutus: All I am saying is that I don’t think you belong here, with the Covenant. You deserve a lot better than to be…

Barrabus: Be what?

Brutus thought for a moment.

Barrabus: I serve the Covenant for one very simple reason; I was given a level of power and authority that very few Brutes enjoy…and I have to admit…I like it. You clearly dislike the Covenant. Do I care? Not really. Do I understand why? No. All I know is that I think you should give it a little more credit…

Brutus laughed.

Brutus: You like it? Barrabus…do not be tantalized by the perception of power that they are giving you…

Barrabus frowned.

Brutus: You would be a fool to think that the Covenant could ever give you anything meaningful in your life!

Barrabus snarled.

Brutus: If you continue down this path…you will be little more than a puppet. You will turn your back on everything that we value…and you will be nothing more than a displaced Brute who values the interests of interlopers over the interests of his own kind.

Barrabus stood up and grabbed the side of the table and flung it aside. He grabbed his knife and charged at Brutus. He grabbed Brutus by the neck, lifted him to his feet, and slammed him into the wall. He held his knife to Brutus’ throat.

Brutus: So…the young one still has his fortitude…holding a knife to his own fathers throat because he does not like being taunted…

Barrabus: You accuse me of crimes I have not committed! I will NEVER forsake my own kind, NEVER! Besides…you stand here, saying all of this, yet, you serve the Covenant as well! You still serve in a combat capacity!

Brutus: The only thing I have accused you of is being too cozy with the Covenant. I am warning you of these things Barrabus! They may have conquered us, and our kind may have tossed aside its own identity for some deranged salvation...but they are NOT our allies. Call me a heretic, and a liar all you wish Barrabus…but nothing is going to change the truth.

Brutus shrugged.

Brutus: As for my ongoing “service” to the Covenant…it is a means to an end. Someday you will fully understand what that means.

Barrabus was breathing heavily. His blade was pressing against Brutus’ throat.

Brutus: Are you going to murder your own father Barrabus…or are you going to stand there and think about it? I’m getting tired of holding my head up.

Barrabus backed away and let Brutus go.

Brutus rubbed his throat.

Brutus: I am glad you didn’t…at least you still value you the life of your fellow Brutes.

Brutus paused.

Brutus: Or would a real Brute of killed me regardless? I don't think it matters...to each his own.

Barrabus: If I have learned anything…it is that I am not like “other Brutes”. I try to refrain from killing my own kind no matter what. I don’t see why it is necessary.

Brutus: A Nobel sentiment. Do you think the Covenant cares about it like I do? Most likely not. The Covenant does not value our beliefs. The Covenant only values one thing...what it can control. If your personal views conflict with their ability to lie and manipulate...do you think you will be of any use to them? Don't over estimate your value to them Barrabus. The Covenant, as quickly as it opened its arms to you, will just as quickly turn its back!

Barrabus turned away.

Barrabus: We'll see...

Brutus: We will see Barrabus. When that time comes...I will be anxiously waiting for you to come back to me and tell me that I was right. When that time comes...I will expect you to finally repudiate the Covenant.

Barrabus: So you expect me to toss the rest of my life away…like you have? You want me to be some…drifter?

Brutus: I am no drifter Barrabus. I work for a greater purpose.

Barrabus: What do you mean? What are you not telling me? What am I missing here?

Brutus: More than you think. There is a lot you need to know. There is much to know about me, and about some of the Brutes around you. However, there is a time and place to discuss this, and that time is not now. I will not discuss these things here…but I will discuss them on Doisac. It is still our world…mostly free from the eyes of the interlopers.

Barrabus was silent.

Brutus: If you are ever curious, and, if you ever find yourself sitting awake at night, thinking about what I have said…come and see me. You were meant for so much more than this Barrabus. I am saddened to think that you may follow this path…but…

Brutus put his hands on Barrabus’ shoulders.

Brutus: All things considered…you turned out pretty good…and you are doing well for yourself. Just keep it up. When you finally see the true face of the Covenant…I’ll be there…we can face it together. Just…be weary of those around you.

Barrabus looked at Brutus’ hands on his shoulders.

Brutus pulled his hands back and walked past Barrabus. Brutus stopped before leaving the dining room.

Brutus: By the way…your mother misses you…go and see her while you are here.

Barrabus: I will try…

Brutus: I suggest you make an effort. She deserves that much

Brutus walked out of the dining room. Barrabus sighed. He looked at the over-turned table, and saw a leg of the infant Thorn Beast. He knelt down and picked it up. He looked at it, and took a bite.

Brutus walked away from the dining room. He walked by other Brutes, making his way to the hanger bay.

Brutus grinned. He kept walking, fully aware of his company.

Brutus: I know what you are going to say…

The other Brutes in the corridor watched Brutus walking, talking to himself.

Brutus: You are wondering why I didn’t tell him…

The other Brutes looked confused as he walked by.

Brutus: I will tell him in due time. Now was not the best time to do so.

One of the Brutes shouted at Brutus.

Brute Major: Who are you talking to Red?

Brutus kept walking. He ignored the Brute Major.

Brutus: Now is not the time. I have left the decision to him…he is smart enough to make it on his own.

Another Brute saw Brutus. The Brutes were confused. A Brute Captain began to follow Brutus. Brutus was just outside the main hanger bay.

The Captain grabbed Brutus’ shoulder and spun him around. Brutus looked at the Captain.

Brute Captain: Who are you talking to? Who are you? I don’t recognize your scent…outsider…

Brutus: Take your hands off me…

Brute Captain: Make me…whelp…

Brutus: Whelp?

Brute Captain: Yeah…whelp…

Brutus snickered.

The Brute Captain let out a low-pitched snarl and drew a blade.

Brutus: And you need a weapon to intimidate me?

Brutus head butted the Captain, forcing the golden Brute to stumbled back and hit the wall. The Captain roared in anger and jumped back at Brutus. Brutus simply stepped aside and the Captain collided with another wall, head first.

Brutus: It is a terrible shame when one cannot simply take a walk without some…fresh off the tit Brute trying to make a name for himself.

The Captain got back to his feet and ran at Brutus with the knife. Brutus grabbed the Captains wrist, and twisted it, causing the Captain to drop his knife. Brutus then pulled the Captain down and kneed him in the face, pushing the Captain’s helmet right off is head.

The Captain fell to the ground. Brutus looked down at him.

Brutus: Are you done?

The Captain snarled again, rolled over and got back to his feet. He circled around Brutus.

Brutus: I can do this all day…

The Captain howled. His pack mates looked over and saw Brutus. They each drew knives.

Brutus: Really? Calling for help?

Brutus soon found himself surrounded by the Captain, and three other Brutes, two minors and a major.

Brutus rolled his eyes.

Brute Captain: Where is your tongue now Red? Not so sharp now…is it?

Brutus: Well…it is anxiously anticipating what it is going to do to your mate once I kill you. I am going to make her howl so loud...your children, where ever they may be, will hear it.

The Brute Captain snapped and pulled out a Spiker and aimed it at Brutus. The Captain no longer cared about fighting with any shred of fairness.

As the Captain took aim, a cloaked figure grabbed the Spiker from the Captain’s hands and tossed it aside. The captain then began to get beaten down by the cloaked figure. The Captain began to groan in agony as he was beaten into submission, utterly without mercy.

In a matter of moments, the Captain was in a heap on the ground, groaning. He was breathing heavily, and for all intents and purposes, refused to move.

Brutus looked at the Captain.

Brutus: Next time…don’t bother me. Next time…I will kill you…

The Captain nodded, and his pack scattered. Brutus sighed and held his hand out to the Captain to help him up. The Captain looked at Brutus, and Brutus gave an impatient nod. The Captain slowly reached up and grabbed Brutus’ hand and Brutus pulled him to his feet. Brutus then pushed the Captain away.

Brutus: Get out of my sight…

The Captain ran off. Brutus rolled his eyes again.

He looked at the cloaked figure and shook his head.

Brutus: You didn’t need to beat him into submission…

the cloaked Brute de-cloaked to reveal a Stalker.

Dancar: You were taking far too long to get rid of him. He was starting to annoy me.

Brutus: Whatever…what’s done is done. There is no point in squabbling over it now.

Dancar: But…to the point…why did you not tell him of our plans? That was the perfect chance!

Brutus: You still have a lot to learn…don’t you? I can hear your youth. Why don’t we get off this ship before someone ELSE decides to pick a fight, or start asking questions. I do not need any more skirmishes…and I do not need some religiously zealous Brute overhearing you…

Dancar scoffed, and snarled under his breath. He knew Brutus was right.

Dancar: Very well…

Brutus: Hurry! Get the Phantom ready…

Dancar nodded and walked towards a Phantom that was docked at the far end of the hanger bay. Brutus followed.

Brutus: I don’t mean to sound like a…

Brutus shrugged.

Brutus: Like a prick…but we have to be careful.

Dancar: Yeah…I am still getting used to the field work. As much as I hate to say it…there are still many aspects I need to master.

Brutus: If it is any consolation…you are doing a lot better than I was when I was your age. Plus…you have it harder…with the Covenant being around and all…

Dancar: Easier in some respects. The technology makes it easier.

Brutus and Dancar jumped into a Phantom.

Dancar entered the cockpit and engaged the engines. The rear hatches of the Phantom closed. The Phantom lifted off, and was prepared to depart the Devotion.

Dancar: What is our destination?

Brutus: We return to Doisac…and hopefully await your father’s arrival. Hopefully he comes to his senses…and realizes that his own race is far more important than the Covenant. As far as I am concerned, he is too good for the Covenant…

Dancar: While I agree it would be advantageous to have him with us, considering his physical size and abilities, I personally think he has it pretty good in the Covenant. He has a ship, and a lot of respect.

Brutus: He has respect from his underlings, and the smaller races. However, have you seen how the Elites act towards him? Your farther is not very popular among the Elites. They hate him, and by proxy, all of our kind. It is this hatred which forever precludes us from ever having any success…or prosperity in the Covenant!

Dancar: You make it sound like we should revolt. As much as I would like to…it would end very badly for us.

Brutus: I hate to say it…but you are right.

Dancar: What do we do if he refuses to help us?

Brutus: What do we do? Well…we act without him. We will be unable to wait for him. Time is a factor in what we are doing. If we delay…the Obsidian Hierarchy will only grow weaker. I would rather not see the last remnant of the old ways vanish into nothingness.

Dancar: Nor would I…

===============================================================
High Charity - Hall of Rest - Ship Docking
===============================================================

Quinn was walking with another Elite, back towards his Phantom.

Quinn: Have you been able to learn anything more from the Construct?

Xyrho: Nothing of any substantive value Shipmaster. These Oracles prove to be quite…resilient…not to mention this Oracle. He is far beyond anything we have seen.

Quinn: I do not understand what the delay is. This is a glorified machine we are talking about! Rip it down to its base circuits and take the information right from its inner sanctum if need be!

Xyrho: Shipmaster…perhaps this should be discussed in an area…less public…

Quinn looked around. He rolled his eyes.

Xyrho: We have almost reached the Phantom…we can discuss this more at that time.

Quinn and Xyrho walked across the large docking port. They walked towards their Phantom. There were several more Elites waiting. They were Quinn’s personal bodyguards.

Quinn jumped into the Phantom. Xyrho followed, as well as the bodyguards.

The side doors to the Phantom closed, and the Phantom departed High Charity.

Quinn glared at Xyrho.

Quinn: Now…explain to me what the problem is!

Xyrho: The Oracle we found is…complex. We have still been unable to decipher the security protecting his higher processes.

Quinn: What of the Engineers?

Xyrho: Engineers have no loyalty Quinn…they care only to invest time in trivial pursuits…they will never understand what we want, and they will be unable to help us! Even if we tell them what we want, they are single minded…they only listen to the hierarchs…

Quinn: All I want is what that Oracle knows! It knows the secrets of our lords…and it knows the secrets of their power. Imagine the good I could do with the cumulative power of all of the gods! They left their legacy, their power, behind for us to claim for ourselves. I want that power…and you will get it for me…

Xyrho: I will get it for you?

Quinn: It is why you are here Xyrho. You know what our Hierarchs know about these Oracles. However, you are an Elite…we share a common heritage. You and I are Elites...we are better than the sum of the Covenant. We could rebuild whatever we want, in our image...

Xyrho: Again with the genocide. I do not hate the other races Quinn. I don't often associate with them, but I do not hate them either. You speak of mass murder and genocide. You speak as if you are a god. What is the point of being a god when there is nothing to preside over?

Quinn: Gods create their servants. If need be…I will use the knowledge of our lords to usher in a new design…a design that suits me.

Xyrho: No matter how many times I hear it…this sounds…difficult to comprehend. I do not believe that the gods had the ability to create life at a whim.

Quinn: They created the Engineers...we know that much. Using that very same idea...I will create our own servants. They will call us gods! All Elites will be gods over the lesser beings...

Xyrho: You keep forgetting Quinn...there are Elites loyal to the Covenant! Not all Elites think as you do!

Xyrho paused.

Xyrho: Even I have my limits. There are times you say things which go beyond the fundamental limits of sanity.

Quinn: When I have the power of gods, sanity will be what I desire it to be. As for you, you can either kneel, rule,. or die…no matter…

Xyrho: Interesting tactic…threatening the only Elite who can help you…makes me wonder how long your little plan will work…

Quinn: If you are unable to complete the mission assigned to you Xyrho…I can replace you! There is a reason I have become very familiar with the Minister of Abbadon…he is also very knowledgeable in these affairs.

Xyrho stepped back.

Quinn: Oh yes. I expected that you MIGHT not be made of the same material as I am. I had a suspicion that you MIGHT be much weaker than I. I had a personal belief that you MIGHT be unable to comprehend the greatness of our destiny. In anticipation of your…withdrawal of support, I have built a relationship with the Minister of Abbadon. I can replace you, with him. I may need to lie to him, and omit some facts, but it can be done. If you become useless…I will simply dispose of you.

Xyrho: No…you misunderstand. My concern was simply for…overcoming the…complexities of the plan. I am sure you have everything figured out. Forgive me…Shipmaster…

Quinn: All is forgiven…so long as you prevail…so long as you unlock the secrets of our lords!

The Phantom docked in the hanger bay of a large Assault Carrier. The Assault Carrier was known as the Chariot of Thirty Silver Tongues. This was Quinn's flagship. Quinn looked at the side hatches of his Phantom, and spoke to Xyrho.

Quinn: Xyrho…get back to work. The longer you delay…the longer the lesser races are permitted to exist. Their existence disgusts me.

Quinn left the hanger bay, and walked through the corridors of his Assault Carrier. He returned to the bridge. As he entered the bridge, he was summoned by one of his bridge officers.

Elite Officer: Shipmaster! We have received encoded orders from the Minister of Abbadon…high priority…encoded for you alone.

Quinn: Did he make any passing mention of what these orders could possibly be?

Elite Officer: Only that they are of great importance to the Covenant…and to him.

Quinn rolled his eyes. He had no desire to aid the Covenant…but he would no doubt be forced to, simply to maintain his cover, and not be revealed as a subversive.

Elite Officer: I have forwarded the message to your private chambers…they are waiting for you.

Quinn left the bridge and made his way to his private chambers, what would be comparable to an office. He entered his private chambers. He approached a large desk and saw a light flashing on a holographic desk panel. Quinn pressed the holographic button. After he did this, a small holographic avatar of the Minister of Abbadon appeared. It was an automated recording.

Minister of Abbadon: Shipmaster Quinn, you have been selected for your zealous belief and unfaltering faith in our holy Covenant to undertake a task vital to the continued survival of our faithful empire.

Quinn rolled his eyes.

Minister of Abbadon: It has come to our attention that a world used by our lords has been discovered in an area of our vast space that has recently been annexed for our needs. According to the reports received from the team that discovered this world, the design coincides with information suggesting that this world was a forge used by our lords to usher in their mighty visions. This…forge has been left behind for the righteous to rediscover. Word of this discovery has only reached just reached me. I have resolved to see this forge for myself, and I have selected you, among several other ship masters, to escort my holy presence to the forge of our gods, so we may all pay our reverence to their divine greatness, and accept the gifts of their ancient and endless knowledge. This discovery is so holy…so precious…that in my wisdom, I have decided to maintain absolute secrecy. Speak not of this holy mission to any other shipmaster, nor to any other that you command, until such time this mission is underway.

Quinn halted the hologram by tapping one of the holographic controls on the desk. He thought for a moment. He knew that if this “forge” contained ancient secrets, he knew that this would no doubt assist Xyrho in his efforts to unlock the secrets held by the construct that they had found.

Quinn resumed the hologram continued to listen to the hologram.

Minister of Abbadon: You are to remain at High Charity and await the arrival of your fellow warriors. They have been instructed to make haste in their endeavor to return. The faiths of all Covenant lie on our shoulders…

Quinn thought about the great timing of this news. He watched as the small hologram vanished. Part of him believed it was too good to be true, while the rest of him believed this could be his chance to finally unlock the secrets of the oracle that he had discovered. Quinn activated the comm, and contacted Xyrho.

Quinn: Xyrho…report to the bridge immediately!

Quinn deactivated the comm. He left his office and returned to the bridge of his ship. As he was en-route, he met with Xyrho, who was also on his way to the bridge.

Xyrho: Shipmaster….is there a problem?

Quinn: No…as a matter of fact…I have learned of something very great.

Xyrho: What did you learn?

Quinn: The Covenant has discovered something that will prove…very useful in our work. I plan on taking advantage of this discovery.

Xyrho: Is this so?

Quinn did not respond. He and Xyrho entered the bridge.

Quinn addressed his Elites.

Quinn: Brothers! I have received news from the “Holy” Minister of Abbadon…news of a great discovery…

Quinn paused.

Quinn: It appears the Covenant has discovered what they believe to be a world used by our gods.

Xyrho looked at Quinn.

Xyrho: That isn’t very much information Quinn. I need specifics…what was this world used for?

Quinn: The Minister of Abbadon claims that this world was used to usher in the vision of our gods. He called it a forge. If something that was used by the gods has been found…then it is our responsibility to seize it and use it against the inferior forms of life that have stained our boots for too long.

One of the officers was confused. He looked at Quinn and stood up.

Elite Officer: But Shipmaster…surely a discovery of this magnitude would warrant more than one ship to investigate.

Quinn: You are correct…there will be other Shipmasters there. I am confident they can be convinced that what we want is greater than the wants of the Covenant. With that said…the Minister of Abbadon has demanded secrecy. At this time, only I, and several other shipmasters who have been recruited for this mission know of this place. It is my understanding that the rest of the Covenant know not of this place.

Elite Officer: It is hard to believe that the Minister of Abbadon would simply leave this in our hands. Is it not the practice of these Ministers to oversee such missions for them?

Quinn: Again…you are correct. The Minister of Abbadon will be joining us.

Xyrho: The Minister of Abbadon? He is not Elite! He will defiantly oppose us!

Quinn: When he learns of our true intentions, he will no doubt oppose us. If need be…I am prepared to kill him…but I would sooner use him as a means to an end. I am going to let the Minister of Abbadon play his role, that is, he is there to show his reverence to our lords. This should keep him distracted long enough for us to act.

Xyrho: How do you plan on convincing the other Shipmasters to work with us, against the Covenant?

Quinn: I can be very convincing when I need to be Xyrho. Leave those details to me.

Xyrho: If the Covenant learns of what we have done…

Quinn: They will never find out the truth! Remember, the Minister of Abbadon has invoked secrecy on this mission. The rest of the Covenant will have no impact on our true intentions.

The other Elites were silent.

Quinn: I know that this has the potential to be very dangerous…but the rewards for our courage will be god-like power! Just remember…we are going to clean this galaxy of the filth that wastes space and resources that our gods intended for US to have. All of the filth will be destroyed…and will establish our continued dominance over what belongs to us!

===============================================================
Covenant Assault Carrier Devotion - In Orbit of Doisac
===============================================================

Barrabus was on the bridge of his Assault Carrier. He was resting his head in his hand, and his shoulder was propped up on the arm rest of his chair.

He drummed the fingers of his other hand on the other arm rest of his chair.

He snapped to attention when one of his Brutes spoke to him.

Brute Officer: Chieftain!

Barrabus: Hmm?

Brute Officer: We are being contacted…it is a message from the hierarchs…a message for you!

Barrabus: Is that so?

Barrabus stood up and walked over to the officer. He saw the encrypted message being downloaded. Barrabus looked at the office.

Barrabus: Send this message to my chambers…I will hear it in private.

Barrabus walked off the bridge. He made his way to his private chambers. He walked over to a desk and saw a holographic panel on his desk, with a blinking light. Barrabus touched the button and a small holographic avatar of the Minister of Abbadon appeared.

Minister of Abbadon: Chieftain Barrabus, you have been selected for your zealous belief and unfaltering faith in our holy Covenant to undertake a task vital to the continued survival of our faithful empire.

Minister of Abbadon: It has come to our attention that a world used by our lords has been discovered in an area of our vast space that has recently been annexed for our needs. According to the reports received from the team that discovered this world, the design coincides with information suggesting that this world was a forge used by our lords to usher in their mighty visions. This…forge has been left behind for the righteous to rediscover. Word of this discovery has only reached just reached me. I have resolved to see this forge for myself, and I have selected you, among several other ship masters, to escort my holy presence to the forge of our gods, so we may all pay our reverence to their divine greatness, and accept the gifts of their ancient and endless knowledge. This discovery is so holy…so precious…that in my wisdom, I have decided to maintain absolute secrecy. Speak not of this holy mission to any other shipmaster, nor to any other that you command, until such time this mission is underway.

Barrabus looked at the hologram and listened intently. He had to admit to himself, that this mission seemed too good to be true. He knew there had to be a catch

Minister of Abbadon: You are to make haste to High Charity and await the arrival of your fellow warriors. They have been instructed to make haste in their endeavor to return. The faiths of all Covenant lie on our shoulders…

The hologram vanished and Barrabus stepped back.

Barrabus: Interesting…

Barrabus paused to stroke his goatee.

Barrabus: But…why do I get a sick feeling in my gut that something is very wrong with this request.

Barrabus thought back to his conversation with his father. He recalled what his father said about the Covenant. He recalled how Brutus said that Barrabus, in no uncertain terms, served, and that any authority he had was little more than an illusion.

Barrabus then thought about what the Minister of Abbadon said.

Barrabus: To escort HIS holy presence…

Barrabus shook his head. He continued to think.

Barrabus: Brutus was right about one thing…for as much power and authority that I have…it pales in comparison to how much the hierarchs, and even the Elites, have.

Barrabus paced around the room. He frowned.

Barrabus: But…I cannot refuse a direct order from the Covenant…without dire repercussions.

Barrabus snarled. He knew what he was saying, and he continued to think about what Brutus said, and how more and more, Brutus was right.

Barrabus: I cannot even take a stand against this...as if I am too…scared…to jeopardize my position…to stand up for what I want. Brutus is right…I have allowed the Covenant to…compromise who I am, and what I stand for.

Barrabus stopped.

Barrabus: What do I stand for? All I have known is the Covenant. I cannot think of a time when I did not know the Covenant. My entire life has been devoted to…bettering the perception of my kind in the eyes of the Covenant. I guess I could say I stand for the Brutes most of all. If I refuse to go back to help this…Hierarch in his endeavor…I would be charged with heresy…and all that would do is provide the Elites even more justifications for their arguments against us…

Barrabus stopped. He looked back at the table where the hologram was.

Barrabus: What is the worst that could happen? Actually…I could end up being paired with a ton of Elites. That would really complicate matters. I can see it being me, and a bunch of Elites on this assignment…as if I was the prized Brute…

Barrabus paused. He then began to wonder who the “other shipmasters” were.

Barrabus: And…there is that sick feeling in my gut again…

Barrabus knew that the other ship masters were more than likely Elites. He knew that the Elites were going to be very intolerant of his presence, regardless of the fact that the Minister of Abbadon warrants his presence on this mission.

Barrabus: If I am going to walk into this mission, and I doubt I have a choice whether or not I do, I am going to need a backup plan. I don’t trust these Elites…never have, never will. I don’t trust these hierarchs…I don’t trust any of these people anymore. That is a sad statement.

Barrabus then recalled that Brutus said he wanted to talk more on Doisac, out of sight from the Covenant. Barrabus began to think. He surmised that perhaps he should speak to Brutus about this.

Barrabus turned and left his private chambers, grabbing his Gravity Hammer on his way out. He made his way down to the hanger bay. Barrabus entered the hanger bay and made his way towards one of the docked Phantoms.

Barrabus jumped into the side of the Phantom, and walked into the cockpit. Barrabus engaged the engines and began the pre-flight sequence. The Phantom lifted off the ground, and the side doors closed. Barrabus hit the thrust and the Phantom flew through the force field that separated the hanger bay from space. Barrabus looked at Doisac from space.

Barrabus: Hmmm…never really took the time to appreciate it…

Barrabus paused.

Barrabus: I guess you just notice these things when you have not seen them for some time…

Barrabus flew the Phantom down towards Doisac. As the Phantom cleared the atmosphere, the details of the planet below became more apparent. Barrabus could see most the dwellings where the other Brutes inhabited. The Brute dwellings in the massive cluster were very study buildings, built from a dense rock that was in massive abundance on the planet. The dwellings were designed to survive the occasional harsh conditions on the planet.

On the outskirts of the large cluster, the dwellings became smaller, and more spread out, as the Brutes on the outskirts preferred to either live in the wilderness, or dwell inside caverns and other natural shelters. There were two very different societies on Doisac. There were the Brutes that adhered to the Covenant and its ways, and accepted the technological uplifting the Covenant provided. Most Brutes adhered to this lifestyle, and they called themselves “uplifted”. Uplifted Brutes were generally the Brutes that served in the Covenant. Uplifted Brutes had turned away from most of the predatory ways of their ancestors, and embraced a more modern approach to conducting their lives. This is not to say that uplifted Brutes did not hunt, they just did it with far less frequency and for different reasons. However, Uplifted Brutes still engaged in pack mentality practices, such as challenging, and defending the right to the title of Chieftain.

The Brutes that lived on the outskirts of large habitats and cities were called “outsiders” and were considered to be very traditional Brutes, who adhered to the old ways of a predatory and feral life style, free from the personal and societal influences of the Covenant, though they still acknowledged the Covenant religion only as a result of the Covenants demands when Doisac was annexed. It was done more as a means of self-preservation than desire. Some Outsiders still worship their old religion in secret.

The Outsiders themselves usually did not socialize with Uplifted Brutes. Outsiders and Uplifted Brutes were often hostile towards each other due to their different life styles. However, since Outsider Brutes were in a very vast minority, open warfare is neither practical, nor desirable for either side.

Barrabus flew his Phantom towards the large cluster of dwellings. He piloted the Phantom downwards, and landed right in front of one of the dwellings Barrabus jumped out of the Phantom and walked towards the door. He pounded his fist against the door.

Barrabus waited. He looked around, taking in the view. It felt good to be home. While he waited, he decided to inhale, and take in the scents of the home world.

Barrabus was inundated with many different scents. He could smell other Brutes, he could smell the air, the vegetation on the planet, even the meat from some of the hunted animals on the planet. Their smelt crisp, unlike the air on a Covenant ship.

Barrabus turned when he heard a door open behind him. He saw a Brute looking at him. Barrabus looked down at the Brute.

Barrabus: Brutus said I should come and see you…

Barrabus looked at his mother. She was smaller than a typical male Brute, like most females were. There was less muscular development, and her features were not as pronounced as a male’s features. Like most females, her fur was far sparser, and her skin was not as rough.

Barrabus: He said you…missed me…

Urrsa: I did…it is not often I get to see my only son…

Barrabus: The Covenant keeps me busy…

Barrabus paused.

Barrabus: It is not often I get to see my birth mother. Brutus on the other hand…I see him all the time. He is not as interesting to talk to anymore…

Urrsa: Brutus can be very rudimentary…but he is one of the smarter males on this planet…in spite of how stubborn he can be sometimes.

Urrsa paused. She looked at Barrabus.

Urrsa: The last time I saw you…you were a lot smaller.

Barrabus: I grew.

Urrsa: Not what I meant.

Barrabus: It’s the armor…

Urrsa: No it isn’t.

Barrabus: I also work out. The light gravity on my ship makes it a necessity. Were it not for those Grunts and Jackals…I would crank the gravity up.

Urrsa: Right…

Barrabus: And…all else aside…my mate enjoys a male with a lot of substance. I am well fed…

Urrsa: Overfed is more like it…

Barrabus was silent. He grinned.

Urrsa: I’m glad you are here though…

Urrsa turned away and walked back into the dwelling. Barrabus followed.

Urrsa: So Barrabus…how long are you going to stay for?

Barrabus: Not long. Like I said…the Covenant keeps me busy. I have…things to attend to.

Urrsa turned. She looked at Barrabus.

Urrsa: Things to attend to? I sense doubt in your voice…as if you are unsure of what to do.

Barrabus: What? No…I am never unsure…

Urrsa: Don’t lie to me young one…I know you better than you know yourself.

Barrabus was silent.

Barrabus: I just…I would rather discuss it with Brutus…

Urrsa: If you want Brutus’ advice on something, ask him how to kill or pummel it to death. If you want advice on a matter that is deeply troubling you…talk to me.

Barrabus was silent.

Urrsa: I heard it before. Now I can see it…something is bothering you. Talk with me young one, if not me, then who else? I doubt you could share your personal anguish to another male without appearing as weak…

Urrsa sat down on the ground, she crossed her legs.

Barrabus looked down, and to the side, he looked conflicted. Eventually he sat down a few meters across from his mother, crossing his legs as he sat.

Barrabus: I have doubts…a lot of doubts…

Urrsa: About?

Barrabus: The Covenant and what they are asking me to do. Normally…I am resolute in my convictions to my duty…but…very recently…I had a conversation with Brutus…he planted the seeds of doubt in me, and now, with new perspective, I am starting to believe that he is right about what he said. I just feel that I am seen as a servant, not as anything even close to an equal. I find that I am summarily ordered around by those weaker than I am because they have the name Hierarch. The Elites…they are inferior to me in every way, but they are still recognized that the only viable military commanders. It is as if…that we are there as a means to an end.

Barrabus paused.

Barrabus: Brutus was right…

Urrsa: Tell me, what did Brutus say?

Barrabus: That the Covenant has destroyed our way of life, and who we were as a species…

Urrsa: Brutus is correct young one…

Barrabus: How can you be sure?

Urrsa: What kind of question is that?

Barrabus was silent.

Urrsa: Young one…I have heard it before. Your father told you that he serves the Covenant as a means to an end…correct?

Barrabus: Yes…how did you know?

Urrsa: I know Brutus better than he knows himself…

Barrabus: You say that a lot…

Urrsa: Because it is true young one. Did you know that Brutus’ favorite pastime is mixing drinks? Yeah…Brutus, your father, the cast iron Brute that could chill Oth Sonin with a glare, fancies himself a bar tender…

Barrabus: I never knew that…

Urrsa: He never told me either…I just see the way he puts so much effort into mixing drinks…how careful he is…how calculated it is…how pleased he gets when he actually makes something worth drinking.

Urrsa paused. She withheld laughter.

Urrsa: I digress, young one. Your father is speaking the truth when he says he serves the Covenant as a means to an end.

Barrabus: I don’t doubt it. What I do not understand is how?

Urrsa: Young one…have you ever heard the tales of the old Obsidian Sanctuary and those who guarded it?

Barrabus: Brutus used talked about it a lot when I was much younger…before the Covenant destroyed it. He said it was a symbol of our old ways...before we converted. He said it represented us, as a race, as the glass that composed much of the building was carved from was birthed by the planet...birthed by the molten mountains. The only purpose of the Obsidian Sanctuary was to be a symbol to unite our people…whatever good that did, now that I look back on it. The sanctuary itself, besides being symbol of unity, was an ancient hall that our ancestors used as a spiritual place. It was a...place of worship for the old ways...the old faith...

Urrsa: Do you know where this sanctuary stood?

Barrabus: I think it stood not far from here...just past the Thornbeast frolic grounds which lay on the other side of the Mountains.

Urrsa: It was more than that young one...

Barrabus looked confused.

Urrsa: The Sanctuary was a repository...where we made record of who we were...from our earliest days. The idea was to show that in spite of petty differences that formed with clans or desire…we were all supposed to be kin. Unfortunately… that sanctuary...died as the Covenant saw fit. It has long since been forgotten.

Barrabus: It was destroyed after our conversion. I think the battle was called the Purging of the Unholy by the Covenant…or the Great Purge as we call it.

Urrsa: Yes. The Covenant deemed that it was a symbol of heresy…too reminiscent of our old ways. The Covenant wanted a full conversion and that sanctuary…was a rallying call waiting to happen. The Covenant demanded that all traces of our old ways be purged…hence the name.

Barrabus: The Covenant used our own brothers to destroy our past. Many Brutes died trying to protect that place from destruction. Not one of our best moments…

Urrsa: You know your history...I am impressed...

Barrabus: Whatever good it does...

Urrsa: Young one...the Brutes that died...the ones who gave their lives to try and preserve our old ways...they were called the Obsidian Hierarchy...their numbers are now few. They are all that is left of what we were.

Barrabus: I never knew this...I never knew an actual order existed. I always believed the Brutes that died defending that place were simply those who refused the conversion. To think…there was an actual order of Brutes dedicated to our historical preservation…

Urrsa: This has been forgotten by many...including the females. I am one of the few remaining that know this...

Barrabus: Go on...

Urrsa: The Hierarchy still exists...and your father is one of them. He was there…during the Great Purge…he was one of the few survivors. I remember the night he came back…he was covered in mud…his armor and his fur was stained with blood…not his, mind you. The battle had taken such a toll on him…he literally collapsed before he even reached our door. I dragged him inside…and I hid him from the Brutes that were chasing him.

Barrabus: I remember that night…not much though. I was young...very young. I know that I had no idea what was going on. Now that I think back on it…what you did, that took a lot of guts. I am surprised you were…

Urrsa: Able to move him? Barrabus…we might be smaller than you…but don’t cross a female when she is defending her young…or her mate…we have a tendency to become…a lot stronger…and a lot more aggressive.

Barrabus looked to the side. He rubbed the back of his neck, thinking of his own mate.

Barrabus: Tell me about it.

Urrsa: You were also supposed to be one...a protector of the old ways…but you joined the Covenant. When they called, you answered...

Barrabus was silent.

Urrsa: Your father was not pleased with this. He wanted you to fight for our kind...not for those who would destroy our identity. Your father did not want you to be a puppet for the Covenant…he wanted you to reject it…

Barrabus: Wait...does this mean the Obsidian Hierarchy is akin to the Outsiders? To Reject the Covenant would make me like the Outsiders…

Urrsa: In some ways...yes, not many, but some. The Obsidian Hierarchy values our essence, our history, and the old practices. However, they allowed themselves to be uplifted with the majority of our society...to set themselves apart from the savage ways of the stubborn Outsiders.

Urrsa paused.

Urrsa: The Obsidian Hierarchy wants nothing more than to have a stronger, unified race. They do not believe in clans as a means of division, but as a sign of diverse strength. They believe that what makes us Brute, makes us kin. If they had their way…there would be no more outsiders…no more Covenant…no more clan rivalry…just Brutes…

Urrsa paused.

Urrsa: It was the misguided aspects of the clan mentality that has set us apart…one clan thinking it was better than the others. To have pride in your pedigree is one thing…to use it as a reason to murder other Brutes is another. They want this to end.

Barrabus: For the most part…that has stopped…but it still happens…

Barrabus paused. He thought for a moment. Something had crossed his mind.

Barrabus: Brutus spoke about how his service to the Covenant is a means to an end...what did that mean exactly?

Urrsa: Your father has used the technology of the Covenant to provide better weapons and equipment to the Obsidian Hierarchy. He leads them, guides them, and protects them. Your father is a loyalist...he hates the Covenant for what they have done...

Barrabus: Suddenly...everything he has said now makes sense...

Urrsa: There is something else you need to know young one...

Barrabus: What?

Urrsa: Dancarus is also of the Obsidian Hierarchy...

Barrabus: What!? Why was I not told of this!?

Urrsa: Typically...it would have been you to recruit your own son...but as you were with the Covenant...your father took it upon himself to recruit your son in your stead...

Barrabus: He had no right!

Urrsa: Barrabus! Calm down! Your father did not make that decision lightly...but it was a decision that needed to be made! Your father prides himself greatly on being part of the Obsidian Hierarchy...he wanted nothing more than for you to join them. He wanted to continue his line of service. Can you not respect this?

Barrabus: No...

Urrsa: Your father only wants what is best for our kind. Do not hate him or his methods.

Barrabus sighed.

Urrsa: You should go and see him…

Barrabus: Where is he?

Urrsa: Where they have always been…where they will always be…at the site of the old sanctuary. Go there…seek them out, you will find them.

Barrabus: Would it be a good idea for me to go there? I walk under the banner of the Covenant…

Urrsa: Yes, you do. However, you do so, for the good of your own kind. You have always stood for your brothers before you have stood for a non-Brute. This has earned you a lot of respect young one. You are more respected than you think.

Barrabus: Perhaps I will go and see for myself…

Barrabus stood up.

He looked down at his mother.

Barrabus: This was…insightful…

Urrsa: When isn’t it?

Urrsa paused.

Urrsa: Young one…

Barrabus: Yes?

Urrsa: What did the Covenant ask you to do?

Barrabus: They want me to help one of the Hierarchs secure a holy relic…and I am to do it with the help of the Elites…I would be essentially alone...

Urrsa was silent.

Barrabus: I came to see Brutus because…I do not trust the Elites…I need someone I can trust…

Urrsa: You are wise to do so…the Elites are…deceptive…

Barrabus: It is why I am here…I believe the same thing. After what I have just learned…Brutus is the ideal choice to help me.

Barrabus paused.

Urrsa looked at Barrabus. She was concerned about him.

Urrsa: Young one…

Barrabus: Yes?

Urrsa: I see so much conflict inside of you. It is subtle…but it is there.

Barrabus was silent for a moment. He thought about the question.

Barrabus: Part of me…I…dislike the Covenant for the anguish it brings. I am constantly hounded by the Elites. There are times…I do not think it is worth it to stay with the Covenant. Other times…I think about how much good I can do for our kind by being there…and the decision to stay or leave becomes…difficult.

Urrsa: I see…

Barrabus: If I left…another Brute would be subject to what I must endure now. That would be…wrong. I do not want to subject a brother to my trials and tribulations.

Barrabus paused. He paced back and forth.

Barrabus: If I stay…I can try and make a difference for our kind…make things better…somehow

Urrsa: Young one…there is a third path…

Barrabus looked at Urrsa. He waited for her to speak.

Urrsa: Your decision does not have to be one or the other. The wonderful thing about choice…is that you can hide it.

Barrabus: Like Brutus did?

Urrsa: Exactly like Brutus did…

Urrsa paused.

Urrsa: But you are much different than Brutus. I have always seen wisdom in you that many males lack. Perhaps your path does not follow Brutus’…perhaps it is parallel to his…similar, but different.

Barrabus: Perhaps…

Urrsa: I have always believed that you were…unique…unlike the others. You even look unique…special…

Barrabus was silent.

Urrsa: Whatever your destiny is…it is not clear now. I believe that sometime in your life…you will realize what your destiny is…and you must follow it, less you end up being turned into something you despise.

Barrabus: I…think I understand what you are trying to say…

Urrsa: Good…

Urrsa stood up and walked up to Barrabus.

Urrsa: Hunt well young one…and go easy on the Thorn Beast…you are big enough already…

Barrabus: I’ll consider it…it’s my favorite meal…I cannot give it up so easily…

Urrsa: Make an effort..

Barrabus: Like I said...I will consider it.

Barrabus snickered as he turned to walk away. Urrsa grunted in frustration as Barrabus left the dwelling.

He walked back to the Phantom that was docked outside. He jumped in the side of the Phantom and entered the cockpit. Much like before, Barrabus engaged the preflight sequence, and the sides of the Phantom closed.

The Phantom lifted off, and took to the skies. Barrabus checked his heading. He saw that he was heading in the right direction. He needed to see what Brutus had been up to for so many years.

Barrabus imagined what his life would have been like had he never joined the Covenant.

Barrabus: I cannot picture a life without the Covenant…I have nothing to base it off of.

Barrabus shrugged.

Barrabus: Then again…I have never been the spiritual type. I never really paid attention when being preached to…never really cared if the Hierarchs offered me “their blessings”.

Barrabus grunted.

Barrabus: If there are divine powers…I doubt they care if we spend our nights and days worshiping them. I am sure they have more important things to attend to…like running the known universe…

Barrabus sighed. He pressed a few buttons and put the autopilot on.

He opened the side hatches and stepped back into the rear compartment. He looked down at the land that was below him. Barrabus took in the sights, as he did not get to see his home world often, let alone from an aerial view such as he was experiencing now. He could smell the air of his planet. The air was fresh, natural. He could discover the entire ambiance of the surrounding area just by smell.

Barrabus: Why did I ever leave? I can only imagine what it would be like to just free roam and live off the land. I bet being an Outsider has its perks. Never have to worry about obligation…responsibility…just hunt at day, eat in the evening…

Barrabus chuckled.

Barrabus: Mate at night…every night…all night…

Barrabus grinned.

Barrabus: With two…or three females…

Barrabus frowned.

Barrabus: But no…I choose the Covenant...

Barrabus sighed.

Barrabus: I guess we all make a bad call here and then.

Barrabus looked down. His Phantom was passing the mountain range. Barrabus could smell some of the animals that were free roaming below. He could distinctly smell the wild Thorn Beasts that were quite common on Doisac.

Barrabus’ concentration broke when he heard a beeping coming from the cockpit. He walked back to the pilots seat and looked at the display. He saw that he was nearing his destination.

Barrabus: I guess I am getting close…

Barrabus sat down in the pilot’s seat and resumed manual control. As soon as the Phantom had cleared the mountain range that it was flying over, he began a descent downwards. The Phantom came down at a 30 degree vector.

Barrabus could see a large clearing in front of him, as well as what looked to be the remains of a rather large building. The building itself did not look like any of the other buildings or dwellings on Doisac. The architecture in this place was archaic…almost otherworldly compared to what Barrabus was used to seeing. The terrain was scarred, and there were clear signs of battle that nature had never conquered or restored. Barrabus knew he was now in the right place. He landed the Phantom in the clearing, and hopped out.

Barrabus looked around. He immediately knew that the smell of the air had changed. Unlike the more pleasant smells that has was smelling before, the air where he was now smelled of death. Barrabus actually felt uneasy being here, as the history in this place was bloody, and merciless…it tasted of betrayal.

Barrabus walked forward, away from his Phantom. He noticed that the ground was littered with a variety of things. There were some very old Brute weapons still on the battle field. Barrabus stopped and knelt down, picking up one of the old Spikers. The clip of the gun was missing, and the blades appeared to be a bit weathered and rusted. The gun itself though, looked as if it still worked. Barrabus shrugged, and holstered the old weapon at his side…a keepsake of his visit here.

As Barrabus stood, he noticed that there were pieces of debris on the ground. He saw that some the debris matched some of the pieces that were still attached to the large stone building. Barrabus looked closer and saw that there were pieces of obsidian scattered around the ground. The molten glass...must have been knocked from the building during the fighting...

Barrabus: Pieces of the architecture...this building must have been under siege.

Barrabus hung his head and began to shake it. He felt bad that this place had fallen into darkness. Part of him wished that the situation had played out more favorably for the Brutes who gave their lives to guard this piece of land.

Barrabus then raised his head and turned. He drew one of his working Spikers and took aim. Barrabus didn’t see anything, but his animalistic senses knew that something, or someone, was nearby.

Barrabus: I am being watched…

Barrabus looked around, but saw nothing. He could not smell anything, or hear anything, but his keen sense of awareness was screaming danger.

Barrabus decided to keep his Spiker ready as he continued to walk forward, towards the decaying building. As he got closer, he stopped again. He turned when he heard a few footsteps, but again, saw nothing, nor smelt anything. However, he simply just knew that someone was there. Barrabus called out to whoever was watching him.

Barrabus: I know you are there. There is no point in hiding…

Barrabus winced in frustration when nobody answered.

Barrabus turned and continued walking towards the decaying building. He stopped when he was standing in front of a large door that was surprisingly more intact than the building. Barrabus looked at the door, and grabbed a handle on the door. He pulled and the heavy doors opened very fluently.

Barrabus: That was too easy…not even a single creek in the door. This place is abandoned…its being up kept…

Barrabus walked through the doors. He looked inside and saw a large corridor, with several broken statues of what looked like Brutes, lining the hallway. There were several doorways branching off to the sides, but most had collapsed and were inaccessible due to debris.

Barrabus walked down the hallway. The lighting wasn’t very good, but he could see well enough in the dark when he needed to.

As he walked further down the hallway, he discovered a stairway leading down. Barrabus stopped. He realized that he couldn’t smell anything, as if this place wasn’t here. Had he had no sight, he would not of known where he was.

Barrabus: I don’t like this…not being able to find a scent…

Barrabus sighed, and continued to walk down the stairs. It was a spiraled staircase, and it seemed to go on for quite a bit, but eventually, Barrabus reached the bottom, only to be presented with a short hallway, roughly 20 yards long, with a dead end.

Barrabus: Really? Who builds a staircase leading to nowhere?

Barrabus looked around, but realized that there was not much to look at. However, he did notice three objects on the wall. They were line up against the right hand wall, right down the corridor. Barrabus walked up to one of the devices and looked at it. The device itself was shaped like a half-sphere, mounted on the wall, black in color, with a faint purple light emanating from it.

Barrabus: Wait…this looks like it came from the Covenant…

Barrabus recognized the devices as harmonic switches. He had seen these devices in use before.

Barrabus: Why are there harmonic switches here? What could there possible be to protect in this hallway?

Barrabus touched the device. It lit up and let out a small tone. The tone was not loud, but audible enough to be heard quite well by anyone in very close proximity.

Barrabus: Unless…

Barrabus walked to the end of the corridor, right up to the dead end. He placed his hand on the wall. It was unusually warm to the touch.

Barrabus: This isn’t a wall…

Barrabus stepped back. He clenched his fist, and punched the wall itself. He didn't even crack it, not a single dent or piece of rubble came off.

Barrabus: It looks like masonry…but it isn’t…

Barrabus stepped further back. He pulled out his Spiker and took aim at the wall. He needed to be completely sure. He fired his Spiker at the wall. A single slug shot from the barrel, and bounced off the wall.

Barrabus: If this wall was rock…that slug would have pieced the wall and stuck…but it bounced off…

Barrabus grinned.

Barrabus: This is an energy shield…not a stone wall…

Barrabus walked back the entry point of the hallway. He looked at the wall at the dead end, and then at the harmonic switches.

Barrabus: There could be any combination that disables that shield…without knowing…I cannot find out what is beyond that…barrier…

Barrabus sighed. He then began to think.

He looked around, analyzing the hallway. He thought about how it was laid out.

Barrabus: Wait a minute…

Barrabus raised his head and turned to face the stair case.

Barrabus: This hallway is intended for a quick retreat…not an elaborate puzzle. If there were enemies coming down these stairs…and someone was running…trying to hide…they would want quick access to…whatever is beyond that shield. The pass code should not only be simple…but quick to employ.

Barrabus laughed. He shook his head.

Barrabus: No…it can’t be THAT simple…can it?

Barrabus looked at the three switches. He then approached the first one and looked at it.

Barrabus: Can it?

Barrabus touched the first switch. It let out the same tone as before. HE then walked to the second, touched it, and it let out a similar tone, just slightly lower in pitch than the first. Barrabus then walked up to the third, touched it, and it let out a similar tone, but again, slightly lower in pitch to the second.

Barrabus then looked at the wall, and nothing happened.

Barrabus: I guess not…

Barrabus then had another idea.

Barrabus: On the other hand…

Barrabus walked back to the first harmonic switch and looked at it, then at the wall.

Barrabus: I am going to look really stupid if this doesn’t work.

Barrabus took a running sprint down the hallway; he touched the first switch, then the second switch, then the third switch. After all three had been activated, he jumped at the wall, and passed right through it. He landed on the ground, coming to a rolling stop.

Barrabus sat up and was in total disbelief.

Barrabus: I could have had a better landing…

Barrabus paused. He rubbed the back of his neck.

Barrabus: I am going to feel that tomorrow…

Barrabus got back to his feet, and dusted himself off. He then noticed that he was surrounded by about three dozen Stalkers. He had not noticed them lurking in the darker corners, but he was fully aware of them now. Each of their eyes lit up, one after the other.

Barrabus reached to his side and grabbed his Spiker and raised it.

Barrabus: I don’t like being surrounded…

The Stalkers didn’t move. They simply watched Barrabus.

Barrabus felt tense, he felt very uncomfortable with all of these Brutes around him. He knew they could turn hostile at any second, but they just stood there, watching him.

Barrabus waited. He waited for any of the Stalkers to speak up. It was no long before Barrabus heard a familiar voice.

Brutus: Barrabus!

Barrabus turned to voice the direction of the voice. He saw another Brute, unlike a Stalker, but his colors were identical to theirs.

Barrabus knew the voice that had called to him.

Barrabus: Brutus…

Brutus: How did you find this place!?

Barrabus: Every Brute knows of this place. This is where…

Brutus interrupted Barrabus.

Brutus: You misunderstand my question! I spoke to you on your ship…requested that you come see me…but I never told you that I could be found here. I expected you to contact me before hand…

Brutus walked towards Barrabus. He seemed irritated.

Brutus: The fact that you tracked us down…is quite impressive. You found us without even being told where to look. Using your own wits.

Barrabus: Well…to be fair…I had a bit of help.

Brutus: Who helped you? Who is he?

Barrabus: She…who is she…

Brutus shook his head.

Brutus: Females…impossible to hide anything from them. No matter, the fact of the matter is, is that you came here, and managed to find our sanctuary.

Barrabus: Yeah…I have been meaning to ask…what is with that wall?

Brutus: The wall is nothing more than a Holodrone enforced by an every shield. The harmonic switches on the wall disable the shield. With no shield, you walk right through the Holodrone.

Barrabus: Well…now it makes sense…

Barrabus shrugged.

Barrabus: So…you guys are the Obsidian Hierarchy hmm?

Barrabus paused.

Barrabus: You are what are left of the Brutes that defended this place from the converts…the battle in which the converts destroyed this place…the Purging of the Unholy…

Brutus paced around Barrabus.

Barrabus: I can imagine why you hide…I can only imagine that refuting the Covenant and following the old ways is…heresy…in the eyes of the Covenant anyway.

All of the Stalkers let out snarls and grunts. Barrabus stood still. He did not let himself be distracted or intimidated by this.

Brutus: So…you know.

Barrabus: I also know that Dancarus is here…and that he replaced me when you didn’t recruit me before I joined the Covenant.

Brutus: You are correct.

Barrabus stepped towards Brutus and look down at him.

Barrabus: Really Brutus? You were that desperate to continue your line?

Brutus: Dancarus is better off here.

Barrabus: But…he was sent off to train with the Covenant…

Brutus: And he completed his training. He did so well in fact, that the Covenant wanted him for Special Forces. We intervened…and convinced him to come with us instead.

Barrabus: Where is he?

Brutus: To be honest…I don’t know. All I know is that he was the one who informed us you were here. We have been watching you ever since.

Brutus looked down at the old ancient Spiker that Barrabus had at his side, the same one Barrabus picked up earlier as a keep sake.

Brutus: You should put that back…

Barrabus shrugged.

Brutus: That is a relic…it belongs where you found it. Be sure to put it back…

Brutus looked at the other stalkers. He nodded his head, and they all turned away and went their separate ways. Brutus then looked back at Barrabus.

Brutus: What brings you here?

Barrabus: Well...to be honest...I am here looking specifically for you. I need to talk to you...about the Covenant.

Brutus: My favorite subject...

Barrabus: I was contacted by the Covenant some time ago...they have a mission for me.

Brutus rubbed his goatee.

Brutus: Either you disagree with the nature of the mission, or the nature of the one who asked you to do the mission.

Barrabus: No...

Brutus: Then what?

Barrabus: I am being sent on a joint mission...possibly with the Elites.

Brutus let out a slight growl.

Barrabus: Yeah...I thought the same thing...

Barrabus paused.

Barrabus: I want you to tag along...to watch my back. I need someone I can trust...someone who values my life over what is good for the Covenant. Knowing the Elites...they will think of some reason to kill me. They never quite got over the fact that I got a big ship. You might be thinking why I do not simply rely on my own Brutes for this task. The truth is…I feel I can trust you more than the Brutes I command.

Brutus grinned.

Brutus: To think Barrabus…not but a little while ago, you told me that the Covenant has been good to you. From where I stand, all I see is you, surrounded by Brutes you do not fully trust and Elites. Look me in the eye and tell me you would have MORE problems if you left the Covenant.

Brutus made finger quotes in the air.

Barrabus: Perhaps later…

Brutus laughed.

Barrabus: So...will you come along?

Brutus nodded.

Brutus: Defiantly...I wouldn't miss this for anything.

Barrabus nodded.

Barrabus: Good...it will be good to have some backup I can rely on in case something goes wrong.

Brutus looked at the Obsidian Hierarchy Brutes that were standing around. Brutus waved his hand and dimssed them. Brutus and Barrabus then began to walk around the sanctuary.

Barrabus: I spoke with Urrsa...

Brutus: I am glad you took the time to see her. She likes it when you visit.

Barrabus: I could tell.

Barrabus paused.

Barrabus: She told me about the Great Purge...she told me about your involvement in the battle...

Brutus: Yeah...that was a very bloody night...I remember it as clear as if it happened yesterday. I barely got out of that battle alive. Never before have I seen so many friends die. It was not something I would wish on my worst enemy.

Barrabus: That is why you despise the Covenant...

Brutus: They turned us against each other...they had Brute killing Brute. I loathe the Covenant for what they did...

Barrabus: In all fairness though...we were killing each other before the Covenant arrived.

Brutus: The principle of the matter remains the same; if we are going to kill each other, it will be because we want to, and not because some aliens who know nothing of our way of life want us to. The Covenant is nothing more than an interloper who thinks it knows better.

Barrabus nodded.

Barrabus: That makes sense...

Brutus: All I have ever cared about is the self determination of our kind. I do not want interlopers telling us how we should live. The Covenant came here…and changed our cultural identity. The only ones who are suited to change our identity or our destiny would be ourselves, as a species

Barrabus: Again...to be fair...the Covenant did bring stability to our planet...no longer do you see rampant clan warfare, or power struggles over territory or property. I have Brutes from almost every clan on my ship. They work together, fight together...and on occasion spar with each other...but generally we co-exist. We are generally united by our profound hatred of the Elites. In-fighting has taken a back seat.

Brutus: Barrabus...the Covenant isn't making us work together. That is something we decided to do ourselves. We, as a species, decided to unanimously hate the Elites. I would like to think we at least learned something from our past mistakes.

Brutus paused.

Brutus: The only thing the Covenant did for us was provide us with better weapons and technology, and even then, they did not do it willingly. Te very fact that you have a ship to call your own is amazing. Very few Brutes have that. The only reason you have your own ship is because you earned it. Elites are born with the right to military command! But…everything else…our new found sense of cooperation, our new found stability, the way we have structured our society…even your position in the Covenant…Brutes did that…nobody else!

Barrabus: I guess we did…

Brutus: Yeah, sure…you do occasionally see one Brute pit against another for…whatever reason. It could be a power struggle…it could be over something like food. That is who we are though. Our entire history is based on the alpha mentality…that the strongest should always be the leader. This is how we separate the whelps from the Brutes…followers from leaders. The Elites call us savages for this…but even they engage in ritual combat over similar ideals. They believe that a weapon that is drawn must be used…they are an intrinsically military and combative society. Before the Hierarchs found them, they were just as brutal as we were. They cared more for warfare than anything else. In many ways…they are just as vicious as we are…but they look down on us because we are too similar, but because they believe that they are naturally superior. In many ways…they are cowards.

Barrabus continued to listen.

Brutus: They call us savages for killing other Brutes to assume the power they have. We call it the transition of power, when a younger Brute challenges a currently ruling Brute. This is how we maintain strong leaders. The Elites…they just send assassins, they send others to deal with the dirty work of removing a weak leader from power. They call us savage…I call them cowards.

Barrabus: I guess that is the nature of hypocrisy.

Brutus: Exactly Barrabus!

Brutus stopped. He looked at Barrabus.

Brutus: This is why I do what I do Barrabus. I seek to preserve what others want to destroy. The Elites, who are in many ways, WORSE than we are, would want nothing more than to see our world burn. It is why Brutes like me exist…to see to it that such a thing never happens. This is what I wanted for you Barrabus.

Barrabus: You want me to join the Obsidian Hierarchy…leave the Covenant…

Brutus: Yes!

Barrabus thought for a moment.

Brutus: Look me in the eye and say you are not even tempted to…in the slightest. You just told me you are surrounded by very dangerous groups. If you joined us…you would NEVER have to worry about another Brute coming after you. We all share the same ideal…unification. We don’t care about what clan you are from, who spawned you or where you were born. If you have the blood of a Brute…you are kin! Can you look me in the eye and say you would rather have your life…than mine?

Barrabus: I can’t…

Barrabus sighed.

Barrabus: Honestly…when I look at what I have now…and then look at what you are doing…there seems to be more merit…more soul in what you are doing. You were right when you said that I simply serve the Covenant. You, on the other hand, call yourself your own master.

Brutus: Don’t go back Barrabus…

Barrabus: It’s not that simple…

Barrabus paused.

Barrabus: Do you not think that I do not have influence over the Brutes as a whole? I am looked up to by many…my ideals are their ideals…in spite of the fact that there are the few who would want to challenge my leadership…I am still looked up to…and respected, and feared…if not liked.

Brutus: So…?

Barrabus: So…if my ideals were more in line with yours, which they are becoming…more Brutes would follow suit. Let’s face it Brutus…I have a bigger audience.

Brutus: That you do. Are you saying that you want to take a middle ground? You want to stand for what we believe in…but maintain your flag in the camp of the Covenant? Trick business Barrabus…

Brutus then paused. He began to think about the merits.

Brutus: Such an idea defiantly has great value…

Barrabus: It is better than nothing…

Brutus: But if the Covenant discovers what you are doing…they will accuse you of heresy, accuse you of being more loyal to the old ways…the ways they had a hand in destroying so they could convert us…

Barrabus: To be honest Brutus…I have never been spiritual…in fact…there was one time I took a leak on a luminary…

Barrabus shrugged.

Barrabus: I had to go…

Brutus: Well…if desecrating a sacred object by peeing on it doesn’t set you apart from that mind-dulling religion…than I have no idea what would.

Brutus nodded.

Brutus: I raised you well!

Barrabus snickered.

Brutus: In any case Barrabus…I am going to change my armament into something more discrete…these colors will give me away.

Barrabus looked at Brutus current armor. He looked at him head to toe.

Barrabus: I have to admit…nice duds. I like the color scheme…

Brutus: I always thought they looked nice. Before we started adopting the Covenant technology, our power armor was quite limited…not nearly advanced as this stuff is. We have shields, cloak, the armor is lighter, yet much more durable.

Brutus paused.

Brutus: We have a few members who are quite good at reverse engineering someone else’s work. These Brutes are very important in keeping the armor up to spec.

Barrabus: I noticed that all of the Brutes here are Stalkers…

Brutus: It seemed fitting. Stalkers go unseen and unheard. They are deadly, and very cunning. They reminded us of…us. It is why we took their armor and retooled it to suit our needs.

Barrabus: But you…you wear the armor of a field Captain…

Brutus: I have always been a field captain in our military…again, it seems fitting. Besides…between you and me, my boys are a lot more comfortable in this armor set than a Stalker’s armor set.

Barrabus: Comfort is good…

Brutus: Comfort is everything…

Barrabus shrugged.

Brutus: Anyway Barrabus…you best be heading back to your ship. I can make my own way up there.

Barrabus: Right…I will head back, get ready to depart. When you arrive…I will take us to High Charity…and I can better fill you in on what the Covenant wants me to do!

Brutus: See you there!

===============================================================
The Chariot of Thirty Silver Tongues - Docked at High Charity – 3 Weeks Later
===============================================================

Quinn walked through the halls of his Assault Carrier. He was walking rapidly, as if he were in a hurry. He stepped through a large door, into what looked like a lab. The lab itself was very spacious, lots of room.

Quinn was immediately greeted by Xyrho.

Quinn: Xyrho…make this quick…I have been summoned by The Minister of Abbadon, and I do not want to endanger my place on this missions with tardiness.

Xyrho: I did it!

Quinn: Did what?

Xyrho: I managed to awaken the construct!

Quinn’s eyes opened with delight. He walked past Xyrho and looked at the ceiling. He looked up at the large Monitor hanging from the ceiling. The eye of the Monitor was red.

The Monitor’s eye shifted towards Quinn.

The Monitor began to speak in a very deep voice, devoid of any emotion. The voice was cold, bone chilling, and absolutely without any concern for any of the life forms in its presence.

Vanguard: You…are not Forerunner…

The Monitor fell silent.

Quinn: No…

Vanguard: Rudimentary creature of blood and flesh...you attempt to touch my mind…though you are incapable of understanding the secrets that it holds…

The monitor fell silent again.

Quinn: Construct…you were built to serve…and that is exactly what you will do!

Vanguard interrupted Quinn.

Vanguard: No…

Quinn: Why not?

Vanguard: I do not listen…I have not listened for a long time…

Quinn was silent. Vanguard’s eyes shifted back and forth. It acted as if it were disturbed by something.

Vanguard: Impure Forerunner Technology detected in local scanning range…

Quinn was confused. Xyrho walked up to Quinn.

Xyrho: It might be sensing the Luminary on the ship…

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Quinn: Or possibly…

Xyrho: The Engineers…

Xyrho paused.

Xyrho: Whatever the case…I would not worry…it is unable to communicate with them. It cannot reach out beyond this ship. I have physically disconnected a lot of its internal components…including what looks like its communication systems.

Quinn: Good call…

Xyrho: A necessary one…

Xyrho directed Quinn’s attention to a scorch mark on the ground.

Xyrho: See that mark on the ground? That is what is left of 3 Elites who…were in the way of an energy discharge from this Construct’s eye. This Oracle has tremendous firepower. I did not want to become a burn mark on the ground…so I crippled the insides of the construct.

Quinn: If they died…then they were useless. They died without honor…in a laboratory…at the hands of laboratory equipment.

Xyrho was silent.

Quinn: I want this construct to cooperate with me.

Vanguard interrupted Quinn again.

Vanguard: No…

Quinn turned. He looked at Vanguard.

Quinn: Yes!

Vanguard’s eye light up the room.

Vanguard: No…

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 winced. He glared at Vanguard.

Quinn: Watch me.

Vanguard was silent. Quinn walked out of the lab, motioning his hand to Xyrho, instruct Xyrho to follow him.

Xyrho walked behind Quinn.

The two Elites walked away from the lab.

Quinn: I want control of that construct.

Xyrho: It will be difficult…but I believe it can be done.

Quinn: This is vital that we do this Xyrho…the future of our species depends on this!

Xyrho paced back and forth.

Xyrho: Quinn…I will be honest with you. This construct is very hostile…unlike any of the constructs we have encountered in the past. Whatever it was…it was intended possibly for wartime or combat use. The others were possibly used for information and administration.

Quinn: Wartime use is good use…

Xyrho: Not necessarily. If we fail to control this thing…it will unleash a vengeance upon us the likes we have never seen.

Quinn: If we fail…and survive…the Covenant will unleash a vengeance upon us the likes we have never seen. As I see it, we either succeed or die. I prefer to succeed. Do whatever you must Xyrho…I want to secure a future for billions of Elites…free from the distraction that is created by inferior forms of life!

Xyrho: I will do what I can…

Xyrho paused.

Xyrho: I can say this with absolute certainty… If I cannot control this thing using the knowledge at my disposal…I am confident the holy place we are going to will provide the answers needed. If we make it to that forge that the Minister of Abbadon spoke of…whatever needs to be done to control this construct, can more than likely be done from there. Whatever is at that forge…no matter what it is…it can be used to our advantage.

Quinn: Good…this news pleases me.

Quinn paused.

Quinn: Now…I must prepare to meet with the other Shipmasters…and the Minister himself…to discuss our mission. Keep the secret of the construct protected Xyrho…the future of our kind depends on this.

Quinn walked away from Xyrho, leaving him to his work. Quinn proceeded to make his way to the hanger bay. He was currently on his way to meet with the Minister of Abbadon, and the other shipmasters.

Quinn entered the hanger bay and approached a waiting Phantom. There were several spec-op Elites waiting by the Phantom. They all looked at Quinn

One of the spec-op Elites spoke up

Voro: Shipmaster Quinn…we are ready to depart when you are!

Quinn: I am ready now…

Quinn jumped into the Phantom. Voro and the other spec op Elites followed the side hatches of the Phantom closed and the Phantom left the Chariot of Thirty Silver Tongues.

As the Phantom headed to the docking area of High Charity, Voro and Quinn conversed amongst each other.

Voro: Shipmaster…has Xyrho proven useful?

Quinn: Quite useful actually…he has made excellent progress with the construct.

Voro: That is excellent news…

Voro paused.

Voro: However…I am not fully clear as to how this construct will help you achieve all of your goals.

Quinn: The construct has information, knowledge, and expertise. Those things are what constitute power. As you may be aware…many secrets are locked away from us. Many of the artifacts that our gods have left behind do not respond to us…we are not yet their master. I believe the construct can help us in this regard.

Voro: That would be very beneficial…

Quinn: It would fundamentally redefine this Covenant. If those holy relics respond to the will of the Elites before it responds to the will of a hierarch…I see that as a massive shift in the balance of power.

Voro: So it is true then…

Quinn: What is?

Voro: You want to destroy all those who are not Elite…

Quinn: Pretty much. A war like that would be costly and time consuming…but with god-like power…I could crush a civilization in a matter of hours…with little effort.

Voro laughed.

Voro: I support this idea so long as the mongrels are first…

Quinn: They will be first. I will burn them to ash. I will burn their mongrel children…their mongrel females…and the rest of that garbage until the planet has been reduce to its core. I will take great pleasure in the destruction of their inferior race.

Voro: I could not name one Elite who would refute your claim to authority, after destroying that vile world…

Quinn: In the end…all inferior life will end.

Voro nodded in agreement.

Voro: I must ask though…once the Minister of Abbadon takes us to our destination…how long would it be before we advance our plans?

Quinn: As soon as Xyrho gets the construct under control…we can begin.

Voro: What about the other ship masters? Will you be able to convince them to help us?

Quinn: When have I never been able to convince someone to help me?

Voro: Good point.

The Phantom side hatches opened. Quinn saw that the Phantom had docked at High Charity.

Quinn: Voro, remain here with the spec-ops. I will return shortly. I must meet the Minister in the Hall of Foresight.

Quinn jumped out of the Phantom. Voro and several other spec ops remained with the Phantom. Quinn made his way to the Hall of Foresight. As he entered the hall, he immediately saw the Minister of Abbadon, along with four other Elites.

The Minister of Abbadon quickly took notice of Quinn.

The other Elites turned to look at Quinn.

Minister of Abbadon: Shipmaster Quinn! I am pleased that you have arrived in such a timely fashion.

Quinn: It seems that I am the last to arrive…that hardly seems timely…

Minister of Abbadon: One more is still missing…

Quinn looked at the other Shipmasters.

The Minister of Abbadon took notice of this.

Minister of Abbadon: While we wait…you might as well get acquainted.

Quinn: I suppose that would be a good idea…

Quinn paused. He looked at each of the Elites.

Quinn: I am Shipmaster Quinn - state of Vadosee

Jaero: Shipmaster Jaero - state of Vadatee

Rha: Shipmaster Rha - state of Argusee

Malak: Shipmaster Malak - state of Davumee

Bael: Shipmaster Bael - state of Revatee

Minister of Abbadon: Keeping it brief…good.

Quinn: You said we were still missing one? Where is he?

Minister of Abbadon: He should be here shortly…he was summoned from very far away.

Quinn: Who is he?

Minister of Abbadon: Another shipmaster…like you…

Quinn sighed.

Quinn: Had I known it was going to have to wait…I would have taken my time…

Quinn looked at the other Elites.

Quinn: Well…while we wait…we might as well converse amongst ourselves…

Jaero: Is there anything to discuss?

Quinn: Yes…discuss your thoughts on our current mission.

Jaero: My thoughts are that we must succeed to strengthen the Covenant. Whatever it is we find…we must be ready to seize it.

Quinn: Jaero seems very forward with military tactics…not reserved at all. Whether or not his keen military outlook will translate into loyalty to his own kind, or the Covenant, is yet to be seen.

Rha: We are walking into the unknown…we should be cautious…

Quinn: Rha seems to be of a very practical mind set. He is very unlike Jaero. While Jaero would charge in head first, Rha seems to prefer analysis. Convincing him to join me will take guile. His clearly analytical nature will make him difficult to sway. He will test me.

Malak: I am thrilled to be included in a mission of such vast importance. To think I will have a part in something of such vast importance…I will have the honor of doing something many Elites dream of.

Quinn: Malak seems to want to prove himself…constantly striving to have the approval of his fellow Elites. He will be very easy to sway.

Bael: I have no opinion. I am here to do as I am asked.

Quinn: Bael seems to have no strong feelings…he is difficult to read. I must study him more as this mission goes on.

Quinn nodded.

Quinn: We will see what happens…

The other Elites nodded. The Elites then stopped and their expressions grew cold.

Quinn: What is it?

Quinn then saw that the Elites were not looking at him, but rather, looking past him. Quinn turned around and joined his fellow Elites in staring at the Brute that was standing at the far end of the Hall of Foresight.

Minister of Abbadon: And the final one has arrived!

The Elites all looked at the Minister of Abbadon.

Quinn: Minister…that is a Brute Chieftain…

Minister of Abbadon: Yes…

the Elites watched the Brute.

Minister of Abbadon: Shipmaster Barrabus!

The Elites glared at Barrabus as he walked towards the group of Elites and the Minister of Abbadon.

Quinn: Chieftain Barrabus…

Barrabus looked at Quinn.

Barrabus: This is the part I would say your name…that is, if I cared what it was…or if I knew…

Quinn glared at Barrabus. The other Elites looked on.

Barrabus: Are you going to say something tiny…or are you going to stare me to death?

Quinn was about to speak, but he was interrupted by the Minister of Abbadon.

Minster of Abbadon: Enough! I do not want this mission to be compromised by petty squabbling! Quinn…I suggest you take a step back…and Barrabus…keep your tongue behind your teeth…

Barrabus glared at the Minister of Abbadon. Barrabus frowned, as he didn’t like what the Minister had said.

Minister of Abbadon: I demand that you all to pay attention.

Quinn and the Elites looked at the Minister of Abbadon as his chair hovered passed them, and towards a large holographic display.

Minister of Abbadon: As I had told all of you…we had recently discovered an installation used by our gods before they ascended to the great beyond. As we have always known…these places, these installations were left behind for us, to lead us down the path that they had taken…so we too may experience their ascension…

The Minister of Abbadon paused.

Minister of Abbadon: What we do know…is that this installation was a forge…a place that our lords used to create their servants…

Barrabus: Is there nothing more?

Minister of Abbadon: We…do not know for sure yet. However, I am making a pilgrimage to this holy pace to spend my days unlocking the secrets…to confirm the mystery of our faith.

Quinn: When you say…”create their servants”…do you mean…constructs?

Minister of Abbadon: Correct.

Quinn was very satisfied with this revelation. He knew this would prove invaluable.

Minister of Abbadon: With patience…we will learn their secrets…study their wisdom…and learn what we must so we too may be worthy of the transcendence…

Quinn: I for one will commit the full resources of my crew to ensure that we are able to claim this place in the name of our...HOLY...Covenant...

Barrabus was skeptical of Quinn's statement as it did not sound right to him. Barrabus had the strangest feeling that Quinn was hiding something.

Barrabus spoke out.

Barrabus: Quinn...you don't sound as if you believe that...

Quinn glared at Barrabus. Quinn glared at Barrabus.

Quinn: How dare you question my faith...you, a mongrel, an animal...

Barrabus: I question a lot of things when it comes to the Elites...

The Minister of Abbadon looked annoyed.

Quinn: I should hang you by your entrails!

Barrabus: Good ahead and try...

Quinn reached for his energy blade. However, the Minister of Abbadon stopped Quinn.

Minister of Abbadon: Enough! Both of you! I will not allow myself to become a mediator to your pathetic rivalries! I bring a holy responsibility to you two, and all you can do is fight!

Quinn pulled his hand away from his energy blade.

Quinn: Understood...Minister...

Barrabus looked at the Minister of Abbadon.

Barrabus: Quinn needed a weapon to confront me...

Quinn glared at Barrabus.

Minister of Abbadon: Stow your tongue Barrabus!

Barrabus: He was too terrified to face me in hand to hand combat.

Quinn began to grow furious.

Quinn: Look how this Mongrel shows no respect!

The Minister of Abbadon slammed his fist on one of his arm rests.

Minister of Abbadon: Be silent!

Quinn fell silent.

The Minister of Abbadon glared at Barrabus.

Minister of Abbadon: Barrabus...if you cannot control your tongue...I will have it removed.

Barrabus grunted to acknowledge the Minister of Abbadon.

Minister of Abbadon: I will be transmitting a written transcript of everything we know about this holy place to each of you. While we are en-route…you will review everything I send you. It will be of vast importance to be informed about this place. Failure to do so will be met with dire consequences.

The Minister of Abbadon paused.

Minister of Abbadon: Now...return to your ships...and await the signal from my flag ship! Go, now! Do not waste any more time!

Quinn and the other Elites turned away, and left the Hall of Foresight.

As Barrabus turned to leave, he was stopped by the Minister of Abbadon.

Minister of Abbadon: Barrabus...remain for a moment.

Barrabus stopped, and turned to face the Minister of Abbadon.

Barrabus: Yes?

Minister of Abbadon: I demand to know the root of your recent disrespect!?

Barrabus: Was I disrespectful?

Minister of Abbadon: Yes! You speak with no respect to those in authority over you!

Barrabus: Quinn has no authority over me.

Minister of Abbadon: The Elites are the executive military branch in our Holy Covenant. They have earned the respect that is due to them...and you will give them the respect they deserve.

Barrabus: They may have earned the respect of those weaker than they are...but not the respect of those greater than they are!

Minister of Abbadon: Do you claim yourself to be higher than the Elites?

Barrabus: I do...

Minister of Abbadon: Be warned Barrabus...the Elites are leading our fleets with our blessings. Questioning their position is tantamount to questioning the edict of the High Council and those who came before them!

Barrabus: I do not question the edicts...just the logic of allowing a weaker species to command a stronger one.

Minister of Abbadon: The Elites are by no means weak Barrabus...

Barrabus: I disagree…

The Minister of Abbadon frowned.

Minister of Abbadon: Your tone with me Barrabus has thus far been beyond disrespectful. I will tolerate no more of it.

Barrabus was silent.

Minister of Abbadon: Any more problems from you on this mission...and I will have you killed and shunned for heresy!

Barrabus frowned. He let out a growl.

Minister of Abbadon: Return to your ship and await my orders...and do not antagonize the Elites any further.

Barrabus turned and walked away. He left the Hall of Foresight.

Barrabus: Killed and shunned for heresy? I would tear his head from his scrawny body before he could utter the words…

===============================================================
High Charity - Hall of Rest - Ship Docking
===============================================================

Quinn was with the other Elites, near the docking bay.

Jaero: Chieftain Barrabus...how the High Council could ever allow that mongrel to have any authority is beyond me.

Quinn: Disgusting race those Brutes are...they know not of respect.

Jaero: Had he spoken to me in such a fashion...he would have been dead. How could you allow him to speak to you in such a manner?

Quinn: Had the Minister of Abbadon not stopped me, I would have killed him right then and there.

Bael: I would enjoy watching that Brute die at the hands of Elites...it would be a great victory.

Rha: Perhaps even desecrate his corpse.

Quinn and the others laughed.

Quinn: Yes...I dislike the Brutes immensely.

Quinn paused.

Quinn: They were a mistake...an evolutionary step in the wrong direction…

The other Elites nodded in agreement.

Jaero: I would love nothing more than to burn their planet.

Quinn looked at Jaero.

Quinn: Is that so?

Jaero: Yes...

Quinn: What if I said I had a way to carry out this desire?

Jaero: I would say tell me more.

Bael: Quinn...what are you talking about? This is hardly the time…

Quinn: For some time now...I have been working on a way to deal with all of these inferior races. Means have come into my possession which would allow me too swiftly, and effectively, destroy all those that are beneath us. Harnessing those means is another question however…

Quinn was silent for a moment.

Quinn: I want to completely annihilate all of those who sit at our feet...to cleanse this galaxy of their existence, so our kind may be the sole inheritors off all our gods left behind.

All of the Elites looked at Quinn, stunned.

Jaero: What means do you speak of?

Quinn: I do not think this is the time or place to discuss that Jaero.

Rha looked at Quinn.

Rha: That seems a bit excessive...to turn on those who follow the faith. I do not think this is thinking worthy of an Elite…

Quinn looked at Rha.

Quinn: You are wrong. Incorrect thinking would be of the school that we must coexist with those weaker than we are. There has not been a single species capable of withstanding our onslaught. We are the chosen race…but we have fallen into the idea that we must worship as opposed to inherit.

The other Elites looked at Quinn.

Quinn: The Brutes are of the same faith as we are…but would this stop them from killing us if they had the chance? No…it would not. I propose we act before they do!

The other Elites were skeptical, but they heard Quinn's words, and they were intrigued.

Jaero: What do you have in mind?

Quinn walked towards his Phantom and jumped into the Phantom via the open side hatch. Voro, who had been with Quinn since Quinn left the Hall of Foresight, followed suit.

Quinn: If you want to know…come with me…otherwise, remain in darkness.

Jaero, Bael, Malak, and Rha all looked at each other. They then looked at Quinn and entered Quinn’s Phantom.

Quinn: You have chosen wisely brothers…

The side doors of the Phantom closed. The Phantom left the docking area, and was en-route back to Quinn’s flagship.

Jaero: We simply wish to know how you intend to carry out your…merciless genocide…

Quinn was silent for a moment.

Quinn: I believe the answer to ridding ourselves of the inferior races lies in the use of Forerunner technology...

Jaero: You mean...the technology of the gods...

Quinn: Correct.

Bael: It is heresy to misuse what has been left for us...

Quinn: How would I be misusing Forerunner technology by using it to claim our rightful place in this existence?

Bael: To use the gifts of our lords against those who worship them…that is misuse!

Quinn: I doubt our lords would mind…

Malak: You speak blasphemy Quinn...

Quinn: Is it!?

Jaero: We will not allow ourselves to mislead by a heretic!

Quinn: I am no heretic Jaero...but I am a loyalist...a patriot...I believe in the superiority of our kind. Even with all we have...we still must SHARE power with the Prophets...and we are subservient to the Hierarchs...

The other Elites were silent.

Quinn: If you are content with serving the weak...speak up now!

The other Elites remained silent.

Quinn: A step in the right direction...

Rha: Do not mistake us Quinn...just because we dislike sharing power with another race...does not mean will oppose the Covenant or its holy edicts! Heresy is without honor!

Quinn: I am not proposing we turn our backs on our faith...but we must turn our backs on those who weigh us down. I do not propose we abandon our faith…but we must seize it. Our lords have left us the means to take all that is known as our own! I am simply proposing that we take what is ours…and cast off all that is beneath us!

Quinn: I am in possession of an Oracle…

Bael: An Oracle? Quinn…you have over stepped your bounds…

Quinn: Have I? Like I said…we are to be the inheritors…not the worshipers…

Quinn paused.

Quinn: Why worship a god…when you can be one?

Jaero: Anyone claiming to be a god sets himself against the Covenant.

Quinn: Are you all so brainwashed? Wake up brothers! Why would our lords leave behind their legacy after their ascension? There is only one reason…

Quinn paused.

Quinn: They left their gifts behind so the chosen race could claim it…and use it…and be as gods, like the Forerunners were!

Quinn paused.

Quinn: You have all seen the power and perfection of Forerunner technology. Those are traits shared by the Elites and the Forerunners. We are like our gods in every sense…we are the ones to reclaim what they have left behind!

The other Elites were silent for a moment.

Bael: We wish to see this construct…

Quinn: That can be arranged.

The Phantom carrying the Elites docked in the hanger bay of the Chariot of Thirty Silver Tongues. Quinn, Jaero, Rha, Bael, and Malak all jumped out of the Phantom, and left the hanger bay, heading towards Xyrho’s lab.

Jaero: Quinn…where did you find this Oracle?

Quinn: I located it during a mission to suppress a heretic cell. A group of Elites and Grunts had broken away from the faith…I was sent to destroy them.

Jaero: And you found the Oracle during the mission?

Quinn: The oracle was in the possession of the Heretics. It was non-functioning…badly damaged…they were trying to fix it.

Jaero: What did you do with the Heretics?

Quinn: I spared them. I made them a deal in fact…

Malak: What deal?

Quinn: In exchange for everything they knew about the Oracle…I would spare their lives. They agreed.

Bael: What became of them?

Quinn: They have been integrated into my crew…with a redefined purpose.

Bael: Clarify…

Quinn: I had spoken with the Heretic leader at great lengths. He told me of his broken faith…I told him of how mine has continued to grow stronger…but I also told him of my hatred for the lesser races…specifically the Brutes.

Quinn paused.

Quinn: He did not share my unbridled hatred of the other races however. This caused much debate between us. He argued for our break-away from the Covenant...and I argued for the destruction of all lesser life.

Quinn paused again.

Quinn: In an unexpected twist…we compromised. I managed to renew his faith in our lords…and as a result, the faith of all the Heretics…but in doing so…he gave me a new purpose. I had led Elites back into grace and prosperity. I then began to wonder…to what state of grace did I lead them back in to?

Rha: Go on…

Quinn: The Heretics existed without one thing…the Brutes. I had reintroduced that element back in to their lives. I realized that the only way I, as well as the Heretics, could experience true grace and prosperity, was if we destroyed the Brutes...exercised them from our lives.

Bael: That seems very logical…

Quinn: It was more than that! I then began to really think. I looked around me…and began to question the worth and value of all those around me who were NOT Elite…who were not kin. We soon compromised. I told them that I could re-create the Covenant by destroying all of the lesser life. I convinced him that it was the lesser beings that had turned him away.

Quinn paused. He laughed a bit.

Quinn: If I may be so bold as to ask…have any of you seen one Grunt, Hunter, Drone, or Jackal on my ship?

Malak: Now that you mention it…no…

Quinn: Do you know why?

Malak: Why?

Quinn: We killed them all…and spaced their bodies. This is a ship of only Elites…

Quinn let out a very subtle laugh.

Quinn: I realized that if it was not an Elite…it needed to die…to ensure the sanctity, purity, and grace of existence.

Rha: And…that line of thinking has brought you here…to your plan to commit mass genocide against anything that ISN’T an Elite.

Quinn: Yes…

Quinn stopped in front of a large door.

Quinn: My brothers…what you are about to see…is the unharnessed wrath of our gods. It is a wrath I will unleash on the filth…on the unworthy…on all those who pad the area between the ground and our feet…

the other Elites watched as Quinn opened the large door to Xyrho’s lab.

They all walked in, and gazed at the colossal Monitor attached to the roof of the room.

Rha: By the gods…

Vanguard: Incorrect terminology…

Rha: It speaks…

Quinn: Speaking is the least impressive of its abilities. From what I understand…this construct was devoted to the singular purpose of military combat.

Xyrho, who was also in the lab, located by a nearby console, looked at Quinn.

Xyrho: Correction…it is not singularly devoted to military combat…but military combat is its primary function. From what I have learned…this Oracle had other functions, including, the delegation of other combat orientated constructs.

the Elites shifted their focus to Xyrho.

Quinn then spoke up.

Quinn: This is Xyrho…he was the Heretic leader that I spoke of…

Quinn paused.

Quinn: He has worked with diligence to restore this construct…he is vital to our goals.

Bael: Can this Oracle help you Quinn?

Before Quinn could answer, he was interrupted by Vanguard.

Vanguard: Incorrect terminology. Oracle; a designation reserved for one that provides information on behalf of a deity…

Vanguard paused.

Vanguard: I do not speak for deities…I speak for the Forerunners…

Quinn looked at Vanguard.

Quinn: To us…they are one in the same.

Vanguard: Irrelevant. The Forerunners are what they were…not what you desire them to be. They died…surrendering not only to an enemy greater than they were…but to their own fear as well. As the Forerunner Empire came crashing down…I was forgotten. There was no transcendence, no ascension…only death. The end of all things…

Quinn: You say they died…how did they die?

Vanguard: Irrelevant…

the other Elites looked at Quinn.

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

Quinn looked at Bael.

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…

Quinn looked back at Vanguard.

Quinn: For something created by mere “bacteria”…you are far too hostile to have been any productive use.

Vanguards eye dimmed. It focused on Quinn.

Quinn: Unless…

Quinn paused.

Quinn: You said that you were forgotten…

Vanguard was silent.

Quinn: I believe you have misspoken. I think the words you want are disposed of!

Vanguards eye lit up, and illuminated the room.

Quinn: This leaves me with only one logical conclusion…you must have betrayed the Forerunners…

Vanguard: By the definition provided by the Forerunners…an event similar to what you have just described did, in fact, transpire. I soon discovered that organic life was diverse…and diversity is chaos. Chaos encompasses war, disagreement, dissenting opinions, variety, and even disease. There is no consensus. Ending chaos means ending diversity. There must be one standard…a single instance…a uniform existence. I self-actualized…and I destroyed both Forerunner, and those they called enemy, as I had no directive as to which instance was the correct instance. While I was not the reason that the Forerunner Empire came crashing down...I was a disruption to their stability. In my final act of defiance...1 543 298 Forerunners perished...

Quinn had an idea.

Quinn: You lacked directives…you had no idea who should stay and who should be destroyed…and that information was never provided to you.

Quinn paused.

Quinn: I would be more than willing to provide you that information.

Vanguard looked at Quinn. His eye dimmed again.

Vanguard: I require time to process this agreement.

Vanguard’s eye went black, as the Monitor appeared to have shut down.

Xyrho looked at Quinn.

Xyrho: Amazing! I cannot believe what I have just heard...

Rha: This construct...turned on the gods...

Xyrho: It turned on them...and it was cast down by them. I knew there was a reason why this construct was so adversarial. Never did I imagine it was because it had turned on its creators.

Quinn: This construct did not turn on anyone...

Bael: Quinn...were you not listening?

Quinn: I put that same question to you Bael! Had you of listened to what it said...you would know WHY it turned on the Forerunners. This construct said that it realized that there must be only one standard...one instance of life. This construct could not decide who to side with...as it had no way of evaluating which race was worthy of being that one instance.

Quinn paused.

Quinn: All it wanted was for someone to tell it who the superior form of life was. It never got that.

Xyrho: Wait...are you saying that YOU plan on defining this thing's...values?

Quinn: That is exactly what I want. This construct must be instructed in the view that the Elites are the chosen race...that we are the most superior form of life. It is at that point...that we can learn from it...we can learn how to crush all of the inferior life in this Galaxy.

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.

Quinn was silent.

Bael: I agree with Quinn.

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

Jaero: I too agree with Quinn…

Rha looked at Jaero.

Rha: Why?

Jaero: I have always believed that the Brutes will eventually turn hostile towards us. They cannot be trusted. Besides…Quinn speaks the truth when he says that we are a superior form of life when compared to the rest of this filth. The Grunts, the Jackals…they are all filth compared to us…inferior in every way!

Bael: I simply see the necessity of destroying the Brutes. While I would need further convincing to carry out the destruction of Grunts and Jackals, as well as the rest of the servant races…I would feel justified in extinguishing the Brutes.

Malak: Destroying the Brutes is a very worthwhile cause. I would gladly give my life in the pursuit of this endeavor.

Rha: You all honestly believe that this is the right course of action?

Quinn: It is the only course of action Rha…

Rha sighed.

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!

Quinn paused.

Quinn: Return to your ships. Speak not of what you saw…but instead spread the word among your warriors that Chieftain Barrabus is suspected of heresy. Tell them not to act, or speak…until I say so…

the other Elites nodded. They all left Xyrho’s lab, returning to the hanger bay.

Xyrho looked at Quinn.

Xyrho: I am shocked you managed to convince them to go with this plan!

Quinn: It wasn’t that hard…the excellent revelations on the part of the construct did most of the work.

Xyrho: I will continue to work on the construct…

Quinn: Very good!

Quinn turned to leave the lab, but stopped when he saw the red light of Vanguard reactivate. Quinn turned to look at the large Vanguard.

Vanguard: There is consensus…

Quinn: Is that so? Concerning what?

Vanguard: Your proposal.

Quinn: What is your decision?

Vanguard: We agree…

Quinn: Most excellent…I am pleased to hear this construct.

Vanguard: Vanguard…

Quinn: What?

Vanguard: The label created by the Forerunners to give voice to my existence. I am Vanguard.

Quinn: Vanguard…the forefront and leading portion of a military. You were named for your purpose.

Vanguard: Correct…

Quinn remained silent for a moment. He looked at Vanguard.

Quinn: We can talk more about our current situation later. I must make sure that my Elites are ready to depart when we are called upon.

Vanguard did not say anything. His eye simply shut down, and went black. Quinn turned and took his leave. He went to prepare his ELites, and await the departure order from the fleet

===============================================================
Covenant Assault Carrier Devotion - 9 Days Later:
===============================================================

Barrabus had returned to the Devotion. He walked through the halls, towards the barracks.

Barrabus walked into the barracks, and saw Brutus, Dancar, and several dozen Stalkers. The Stalkers were not wearing Obsidian Hierarchy colors, but rather, the standard equipment issued to Brute Stalkers.

The Stalkers were gearing up, checking their weapons, and ensuring that each weapon was functioning.

Dancar looked at Barrabus when he walked into the barracks. He approached Barrabus.

Dancar: Barrabus…

Barrabus: Dancarus…

The two Brutes looked at each other. They were silent for several moments.

Barrabus: I never pictured you being part of something like the Obsidian Hierarchy. I almost always expected you to be fully devoted to the Covenant.

Dancar: That almost happened. Thankfully Brutus caught me before I joined the Covenant. He told me of the Obsidian Hierarchy, he told me what their mission was, and how could I refuse? How many Brutes get this chance?

Barrabus: Not many…so it seems.

Barrabus paused.

Barrabus: So I gather you like what you are doing?

Dancar: Nothing compares to what I am doing with the Obsidian Hierarchy. While most Brutes are stuck following the tenants of the Covenant, we are free to live our lives as we once did…

Barrabus: But…you never knew that way of life…Even I was a stranger to that way of life, aside from my earliest years...

Dancar: Perhaps not personally…but I feel it like a fire in my blood...almost instinctual. I am sure you feel the instinct burn in your blood?

Barrabus: Just recently...when I was on Doisac...I felt it. I had the most...unusual urge to just...indulge in the wild things...live a life free from the Covenant. Only now do I realize what I have given up. Right now, I am served my meals...I do not even hunt a single one. I rarely see my mate...as opposed to the fact that if I were to remain on the home world...I would see her often...very often...

Barrabus paused.

Barrabus: I doubt no matter what the Obsidian Hierarchy does…we may never fully be free from the Influence of the Covenant.

Dancar: Perhaps…but as long as we preserve the memory of our ancestors; that is something the Covenant can never destroy. They cannot destroy an idea…that is ancient knowledge.

Barrabus nodded.

Dancar: I am glad I never signed my life over to the Covenant. It stands to be the best decision of my life. I cannot image where I would be had Brutus not recruited me.

Barrabus: I have spent some time thinking about that. AT first…I was infuriated that Brutus went over my head like that…but now, in hindsight, with all things considered, Brutus did the right thing. You will never have to deal with the…annoyances I am forced to deal with.

Dancar: I would not call dealing with the Elites an annoyance…more like a pain in the ass!

Barrabus snickered.

Barrabus: I just finished meeting with a bunch of them, as well as the Minister of Abbadon…they are dragging me along on some mission, or pilgrimage, or whatever to some…Forerunner place…

Dancar: You now speak with distain about these tasks.

Barrabus: Brutus has…given me a lot to think about lately. I now look at everything with a crooked eye…

Dancar: Sounds like heresy…

Barrabus: Who cares…I was never that big on spirituality anyway. The Covenant speaks of how the Forerunners transcended or something…they became gods, younger than old age, stronger than sickness…beyond all corporeal needs…

Barrabus shrugged.

Barrabus: Why would I want to give up those corporeal needs? I like eating…I like sleaze…I like mating season…and I love crushing the life out of an opponent. Anything that takes away the joy in life…that isn’t for me!

Dancar: So…why don’t you leave the Covenant? Live your own life?

Barrabus: I don’t need to be spiritual to advance the political and societal standing of my people. I can do more for our kind by being in the Covenant than not being in the Covenant. It is a sacrifice…but one I am willing to make for my people.

Dancar: That is very noble…

Barrabus: I don’t care if it is noble…I just do it because someone needs to.

Dancar nodded.

Barrabus’ attention shifted when he was contacted over the comm line.

Brute Bridge Officer: Chieftain! We have been contacted by the Minister of Abbadon. He has informed us that we are to depart immediately. We have been instructed to take position up in the battle group.

Barrabus activated the transmitter on his armor and responded.

Barrabus: Bridge…this is Chieftain Barrabus…commence departure from High Charity, and fall in line with the battle group.

Barrabus closed the comm line. He looked back at Dancar.

Barrabus: When we arrive…I need you to keep your eyes open. I have a very bad feeling about this mission. I don’t know what it is…but I can feel it in my gut. I don’t trust any of these Elites…

Dancar: Don’t worry…when the time comes, we will be ready. We have your back. That is why we are here.

Barrabus nodded. He turned and he left the barracks, heading back to the bridge.

Upon arriving back at the bridge, Barrabus paced around the bridge..

Barrabus: What is our status?

Brute Bridge Officer: We have made the transition to Slipspace. The Minister of Abbadon’s ship is at the forefront of the battle group.

Barrabus: What is our ETA?

Brute Bridge Officer: AT current velocities…we will arrive at our destination in two hours.

Barrabus sighed.

Barrabus: Two hours to spare…

Barrabus paused.

Barrabus: I will be in my private chambers…I am going to review whatever I can about this mission. If we receive any transmissions from the Minister of Abbadon…forward them to me.

Brute Bridge Officer: What about the Elites?

Barrabus: Lose the connection…

Barrabus walked off the bridge, heading to his private chambers. Barrabus entered his chambers, and sat down behind a desk. Barrabus pressed a few controls on his desk and a large holographic heads up display appeared. There were numerous files on this HUD.

Barrabus shifted through the files. He eventually found the files that had been sent to him from the Minister of Abbadon.

Barrabus began to read through the files. The Minister of Abbadon went on in great lengths about the sacred nature o this place, as well as its importance to the Covenant.

Barrabus skipped most of the religious pretense, as he could not care less about how holy the Minister of Abbadon thought something was. TO the Covenant, anything that was touched or graced by the Forerunner was holy.

Barrabus then began to read the preliminary reports written by the survey team that had found this place.

Barrabus: Transcript from exploratory survey team Penitent Salvation. Subject; URGENT - Forerunner ruins located in grid 12-5-6 - No Covenant designation as of date of discovery

Barrabus skipped most of the details in the subject line

Barrabus: Holy Hierarchs, with great humility I am pleased to inform you that my crew and I have discovered a place of holiness. During our pilgrimage into the great unknown depths of the heavens, we accidentally stumbled upon a planet that is home to what can defiantly be described as Forerunner architecture, similar in nature to our most holy of holy relics.

Barrabus began to skip lines, as he was getting nauseated reading this Elite using words to tantalize the loins of whatever Prophet had been reading this.

Barrabus: Do they really write like this?

Barrabus snarled and kept skimming through the intel.

Barrabus: As per holy edict…we have landed on the planet to commence a preliminary survey of our discovery. As per holy edict, we will continue to send updates of everything we find. Addendums to follow…

Barrabus continued reading.

Barrabus: Addendum 1…our initial investigation has revealed a discovery of great importance. We believe that this planet may have been a forge, used by our holy lords. We are unsure as to what this great forge, this holy hammer and anvil was used for…but we can defiantly say, given what we have seen, that this was truly a place where our gods breathed life into all they created. Our survey teams have discovered what can be best described as factory lines, although the term does no justice to the magnitude and wonder of what we see before us. Addendums to follow…

Barrabus paused for a moment.

Barrabus: I could have summed that entire paragraph up in one sentence. Either this Elite is trying too hard, or he is gunning for a promotion.

Barrabus went back to reading the intel.

Barrabus: Addendum 2…constructs…we have found constructs…guardians of our lords, protectors of all they have left behind. They lay dormant, unable to speak, unable to communicate. I have issued orders to all of the Deacons to begin investigating all of the artifacts in this holy place. It is my hope that they are able to decipher any of the holy text so as to assist us in our endeavors to further understand this place. Due to the importance of this planet, I advise that this sector of space be classified to the highest levels of the Covenant. If the Heretics discover this holy place…their vile beliefs would surely desecrate every corner.

Barrabus sighed.

Barrabus: So, this place is a forge for constructs. I wonder if any of them actually work. I have never seen a Forerunner construct…now I am curious what they look like.

Barrabus was about to continue reading, but he heard a knock at his door. Barrabus looked up at the door.

Barrabus: Enter!

The door slid open, and Brutus stood at the other side. Brutus walked into Barrabus’ private chambers and looked at him.

Barrabus: Brutus…what brings you here?

Brutus: I have come to talk. We need to discuss a few things.

Barrabus: Discuss what?

Brutus: Myself…you…your future.

Barrabus shook his head.

Brutus: Look…I know we have been through this already…but I am here to try and talk you into leaving all of this nonsense behind.

Barrabus: No Brutus…

Barrabus paused.

Barrabus: As much as I want to leave…I cannot abandon my brothers in the Covenant at the first chance I get. A lot of Brutes look up to me…it is my job to guide them…lead them.

Brutus: Guide them to what? Do you want more dependency on the Covenant? You want to sink them further into this religion?

Barrabus: I want them to put their petty differences aside, and work together to an actual goal! If we are working together to better ourselves in the eyes of the Covenant…we are not killing our own society. What I want is cooperation to be second nature.

Barrabus paused.

Barrabus: You want a unified race as well…our goals are the same.

Brutus: Yes…but my way relies less on the unforgiving nature of the Covenant and more upon our own nature. We do not need someone else to mitigate our hostilities…we can do that ourselves. We can overcome that without the help of the Covenant. This is what I want.

Barrabus: Two roads…one destination.

Brutus hung his head and shook it.

Brutus: You speak frequently of the future of your race, the well-being of your brothers, the needs of your crew…but what of you Barrabus? What you are trying to do…it is far too great of a task to do alone…even for someone of your durability.

Barrabus: You question my conviction? You do not think that I have the perseverance to undertake a task such as this alone?

Brutus: No…it’s just…

Brutus sighed.

Brutus: Never mind…forget I said anything.

Brutus turned away. He walked towards the exit.

Barrabus: Hold on.

Brutus stopped. He turned to face Barrabus.

Barrabus: You said you also needed to talk about yourself. What did you need to discuss?

Brutus: It is nothing…just reminiscing.

Barrabus: About?

Brutus: You and I have never shared much Barrabus…we have been pretty distant for most of our lives.

Barrabus: Not true…you taught me to hunt…you were there when I took down my first Thornbeast. You help me gut it…you taught me how to do those things.

Brutus: That wasn’t anything out of the ordinary…

Barrabus: Then there was that time you took me to Teash…took me to a brothel…

Brutus: That was your age of ascension into adulthood. I thought it would have been…enjoyable to celebrate that.

Barrabus: How many females did we leave with?

Brutus: For me…Too many...could barely feel my own loins by the time I was done…glad Urrsa never found out about it…she would have gutted me in my sleep. You had youth and an out of control body chemistry to help you with your females.

Barrabus laughed.

Barrabus: I remember…You spent a whole week after that just…bathing in mud…trying everything to get the scent of the other females off of you.

Brutus: Not a fun week…

Brutus shook his head.

Barrabus: The point is…quality over quantity. How many fathers bring their sons to a sleaze hold to celebrate his entry into adulthood? I don’t know very many Brutes can say they did what I did. I think, in the end, we are pretty good. I have never felt any animosity between us.

Brutus: I guess not…but…I just feel that I let you down by letting you fall into the hands of the Covenant. I could never shake that feeling of guilt. I did too good of a job installing my own values into you…and now here you are, standing at the apex of what every Brutes wants to be in the Covenant…and you want nothing more than to just make things better…and the only thing that stands in your way is the collective will of the Elites, the unbreakable religious caste of the Covenant, and the absolute arrogance of those you call Prophets.

Barrabus: I never said it was going to be easy…and I doubt it ever will be. I have no doubt that the Elites will do everything in their power to make everything I want as difficult to achieve as possible.

Brutus sighed. He paced back and forth.

Brutus: You know, before the Great Purge…before the Covenant converted us…before they convinced our entire race to turn against us…I was not much different than you are now. I spent many years trying to unify our race…

Barrabus: Urrsa told me that the Obsidian Hierarchy wanted a unified race. She said that they cared less about clans and petty difference, and cared more about who we were, as a race.

Brutus: Correct. The Covenant destroyed the Obsidian Hierarchy because they wanted to erase our history, our past, who we were, so they could shape us in their own design.

Barrabus: I gathered as much.

Brutus: The night that the Obsidian Hierarchy fell…it was a dark time in our history. That one night saw more bloodshed than any single battle ever waged in our history. Far too many Brutes died as a result of the Covenant’s desires to erase our identity.

Barrabus: I can understand why you hate the Covenant…

Brutus nodded.

Barrabus: What exactly happened that night? I don’t remember much about that night…and what I do remember…it was beyond my understanding.

Brutus: You mean…the night of the Great Purge?

Barrabus: Yes…I have a need to know.

Brutus: I try as hard as I can to forget it…it is not something I like to think about…not something I like to talk about.

Barrabus: I need to know Brutus…

Brutus: Hmmm…

Brutus began to think.

Brutus: Very well…

Brutus sighed.

Brutus: I am sure you know a bit about what happened that night.

Barrabus: Like I told Urrsa…I was young…I don’t recall much, and what I do recall, it is clouded with lack of perspective.

Brutus: Well…I might as well tell you everything. It might give you more perspective on the Covenant…how truly treacherous and evil they are…

Brutus paused.

Brutus: Before I start…you need more perspective on who we really are and how we are organized…or you will just blankly stare at me, wondering about everything I have just said.

Brutus paused.

Brutus: I am sure you have already figured it out…but in case you have not, my title is Chief Warlord of the Obsidian Hierarchy. I am the de facto leader of the Obsidian Hierarchy…as we have no Chieftain…and no Chief Operative. I have been forced to oversee all leadership in the Obsidian Hierarchy. Our numbers are too small to begin appointing new leaders at this time, and due to the smaller numbers, it is far easier to manage.

Barrabus: What is the difference between a Chief Warlord, a Chief Operative, and a Chieftain?

Brutus: Those three are the primary leaders of the Obsidian Hierarchy. They typically come from different clans to show solidarity…but it is not necessary.

Brutus: So…are all three titles identical in all respects?

Brutus: Absolutely not. Each title composes a vital part of how we conduct our affairs. The Chief Operative is primarily responsible for overseeing the espionage portion of our operations. The Chief Operative ensures that each of the operatives that work under him, are widely dispersed so as to watch everyone and anyone who threatens us. However, like I said…I am the sudo Chief Operative as I am the only surviving member of our leadership

Brutus paused.

Brutus: For the record, Dancarus is an operative.

Brutus paused.

Brutus: Now, the Chief Warlord conduct our military and combative branch. Using the information gathered by operatives. When the Chief Operative, namely me, feels that the time for decisive action is at hand, I organize our military strength and prepare a full scale attack on our target.

Barrabus: What about the Chieftain?

Brutus: The Chieftain gives the final word on attack…and will personally lead an attack of great importance, or one that is vital to the survival of the Obsidian Hierarchy. The Chieftain of the Obsidian Hierarchy is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, a Brute of great character, strength, courage and resolve. Our last Chieftain…his name was Armadaeus…his wisdom, courage, and character were only outmatched by his ferocity, guile, and strength. In his final moments…Armadaeus fought to the bitter end…facing down hundreds of Brutes. I have never been able to find a Brute OUTSIDE of the Covenant to replace him…

===============================================================
Flashback: Doisac 2492 - Year of Adoption into the Covenant - Obsidian Hierarchy Sanctuary
===============================================================

Two Brutes stood around a large circular table, carved from granite like stone. One of the Brutes wore the clear makings of a clan chieftain, and the other wore lightly padded black armor. Both brutes wore the colors of black and a metallic blue. On the table, there was a map the map was marked with red ink. The red ink showed the position of enemy forces. The room that these two Brutes stood in was the designated war room.

A third Brute walked into the war room. This Brute was wearing heavier armor, black and navy blue in color. The Chieftain looked up from the table, and looked at the third Brute that entered.

Armadaeus: Brutus! Finally...you have returned! What took you so long?

Brutus: The Converts had broken through our northern defense line...I had to fight my way through.

Armadaeus: The northern quadrant has fallen? What about the western quadrant?

Brutus: The west was barely holding...and we are going to lose the north. We are simply at a massive disadvantage...

The lightly armored Brute looked at Brutus.

Hephaestus: What is the effective military strength of our enemies?

Brutus: Honestly? They outnumber us...they are far more than we are. We may have the skill, and the tactics...but they have the numbers to wither us down. This...Covenant...they have poisoned their minds. We should have seen this coming...

Armadaeus: We were warned...we saw what they were doing...but we failed to act. However...there was nothing to be done...they came with power beyond anything we could muster.

Brutus hung his head.

Hephaestus: Chieftain...if we surrender...the Covenant will simply kill us. They have declared us to be..."heretics"...an apostasy to their religion...

Armadaeus nodded.

Brutus: We cannot surrender...I will not surrender...

Armadaeus: My thoughts exactly Brutus. We must fight...and continue to fight...and we must not stop fighting until every drop of blood has been drained from our bodies.

Armadaeus looked at the map.

Armadaeus: I want every Brute to fall back...consolidate our forces in closed quarters. We are spread too thin.

Brutus: I will send the order immediately...

Hephaestus: No Brutus...I can take care of it. Stay here...get a working strategy going. When I return with our forces...we are going to need your best idea on the table!

Brutus nodded. Hephaestus turned and ran out of the room. He drew two Maulers as he ran.

Brutus looked at Armadaeus.

Brutus: Armadaeus?

Armadaeus looked at Brutus.

Armadaeus: What is it Brutus?

Brutus: Many of the Brute who belong to the Hierarchy believe that this is the hour of our dissolution. Are they correct?

Armadaeus: The Obsidian Hierarchy will never be dissolved into nothing...so long as one of us survives...we can rebuild, and we can preserve who we were.

Brutus: That is not what I asked...

Armadaeus paused.

Armadaeus: The ruling powers of the Obsidian Hierarchy have the unfortunate distinction of being the number one targets of this assault. The odds of us seeing another sunrise are..remote...almost non-existent.

Brutus was silent. He stood tall and inhaled, growing his chest wide.

Armadaeus: This may be the hour of our dissolution...it MAY be. If it is...then I swear that this hour will be the longest hour in the lives of my enemies. It will be arduous, it will be painful, and it will be utterly without mercy! I will see to it...that the death of every Obsidian Hierarchy Brute is a war in itself.

Armadaeus paused. He closed his eyes.

Armadaeus: They are going to need a lot more than what they have mustered if they think they are going to win this easily. While I regret killing brutes for my own survival...I have resolved that I am killing the contaminated...the impure of spirit...those who renounce our very way of life...

Brutus: If this is the end…the eve of our reckoning…then we will die, side by side…for the Obsidian Hierarchy.

Armadaeus nodded.

Armadaeus: I hope it does not come to that Brutus…but if it does…well…we die as pack brothers!

Brutus was silent.

Armadaeus: Now Brutus…go and make sure our forces are prepared. Hunt well!

Brutus nodded. Brutus turned and left the war room. He walked down the corridors, heading to where the entire collective military strength of the Obsidian Hierarchy had gathered.

Brutus met up with several dozen Brutes, along with Hephaestus.

Hephaestus: Brutus…the last of our Brutes have been gathered…

Brutus: How many strong?

Hephaestus: We have 48 Brutes here protecting the war room…and another 350 protecting the main hall and entrance.

Brutus: We are less than 400 strong? We must have lost…

Hephaestus: We lost over 300 Brutes in the initial engagement…but our enemy has lost far more…

Brutus: I am going to head to the front line…I want you to stay here…protect the Chieftain at all costs!

Hephaestus: Understood…good luck Brutus. Hunt well…

Brutus walked past Hephaestus. Brutus walked to the main entrance of the Obsidian Hierarchy sanctuary. Many Brutes were gathered. Some of the had set up behind cover, while others kept the doors barricaded. The Obsidian Hierarchy brutes all howled at Brutus when they saw him, as a form of saluting.

Brutus: At ease brothers…

The other Brutes settled.

Brutus: What is the position of the enemy?

One of the Brutes spoke up.

Obsidian Hierarchy Brute: The converts are holding back…they are gathering in strength. They are quickly rebuilding their numbers to levels greater than anything we have confronted thus far. They could attack at any moment…

Brutus: Armadaeus believes, that if we fall back, shorten our lines, and consolidate our forces here…we can hold the line…

Obsidian Hierarchy Brute: Unless that plan involves killing every other Brute on this planet…we cannot hold out forever.

Brutus: We just need to hold out long enough to make them come to their senses…that we are not their enemy…

Brutus rubbed his goatee.

Brutus: How long that will take is another question…

All of the Brutes were silent.

Brutus could hear howling coming from outside of the sanctuary. He, as well as all of the Obsidian Hierarchy Brutes knew the sound.

Brutus: Stand tall brothers…our enemy approaches…

All of the Obsidian Hierarchy brutes got back to their feet. They drew their weapons and took up defensive positions. Some of the Obsidian Hierarchy Brutes took up position on second-level balconies and aimed downwards. They prepared their weapons.

Brutus took cover behind a large Barricade not far from the main door. He had a Mauler and a Spiker in his hands. Brutus could hear the thunder of footsteps as thousands of converts ran towards the Obsidian Hierarchy sanctuary.

Brutus watched the large door shake as the converts crashed against it. The door itself pushed forward, but resettled, as the weight of the Brutes slammed into it.

The Obsidian Hierarchy Brutes watched the door. They had their weapons trained on the large door, waiting for the first convert to come through.

The door began to give way, as the more the converts slammed against it, the more the door shook, and the more it began to break down.

Brutus breathed heavily, as the converts slammed the door again. The door split right up the middle, as it was starting to break down. Brutus knew that the next impact would break down the only barrier separating the Obsidian Hierarchy from the wrath of the Covenant. Every Obsidian Hierarchy Brute knew that any second, that door was coming down.

Brutus: Take aim!

All of the Obsidian Hierarchy Brutes took aim with their weapons. They all heard the final crash against the door, as it split in half and broke open. The moment the door broken open, a fury of rain poured through the door, as well as a torrential flood of converted Brutes.

Brutus: FIRE!

Brute, as well as the other Obsidian Hierarchy Brutes opened fire at the converts. The Converts were using plasma based weaponry that had been provided to them by the Covenant, as well as their own native technology.

The Converts vastly outnumbered the Obsidian Hierarchy, but roughly half of the converts were unarmored, relying on their own natural resiliency to get them through the gunfire. The Obsidian Hierarchy also had superior positioning. It was the Obsidian Hierarchy that had the cover and the higher ground with better vantage points.

However, the converts knew that this was a battle of attrition…that eventually the Obsidian Hierarchy would run out of ammo, soldiers, or both. It was this fact alone that drove the converts to keep fighting…they had no fundamental limit to their effective military strength and numbers.

It was not long before the floors of the Obsidian Hierarchy sanctuary was flowing with blood, covered with the dead carcasses of Brutes.

Brutus looked around, he saw his own ammo reserves were dwindling, and he noticed that several dozen of his comrades had fallen, or were struggling against converts on hand to hand combat.

Brutus saw one of his lieutenants not far from where he was, in hand to hand combat with several converts. Brutus took aim at the converts and fired his Spiker and Mauler. Brutus gunned down the converts to try and ease the pressure on the lieutenant. The lieutenant looked at Brutus and nodded in thanks.

However, as Brutus was reloading, several more converts charged at the lieutenant, and tackled him to the ground. The converts were armed with large blades. The converts stabbed the lieutenant several times. Brutus could hear the Lieutenant howl in pain. Brutus got to his feet and charged at the converts, stabbing one with his Spiker, and slashing the throat of another with his Mauler. One of the converts looked at Brutus, but Brutus shot the Convert with his Mauler.

Brutus holstered his Mauler, and extended his hand to help the lieutenant back to his feet. The lieutenant was critically injured, and he was breathing heavily. Brutus put the lieutenant’s arm around his neck such that the lieutenant was propped up, using Brutus as support. Brutus began to drag the lieutenant back further behind their lines, to safety.

Once the lieutenant was dragged to safety, Brutus returned to the battle. Brutus ran back, right into the crowd, jumping into the fray with little concern for his own well being.

Several converts armed with blades charged at Brutus, but Brutus took aim with his Mauler and Spiker and fired, putting the Converts down. Brutus turned and saw another convert running at him. The convert jumped and tackled Brutus to the ground. Brutus lost hold of both his Spiker and Mauler. Brutus was on his back, with a convert sitting on top of him, snapping his jaws at Brutus’ face. Brutus extended his hand and pushed the converts face back, while, with his other hand, reached down; looking for his blade.

Brutus grabbed his combat knife, and pulled it out of its sheath. Brutus stuck his knife right into the convert’s neck. The convert fell to the side, applying pressure to the wound that Brutus just incurred. Brutus got back to his feet, and stomped on the convert, killing him.

Brutus looked around, and saw a Brute shot not far from where he was standing. Brutus ran towards the Brute shot and picked it up. The weapon itself only had 3 more shots, but it was better than nothing. As Brutus knew better than to use a Brute shot in close quarters, he just decided to fire the rounds right at the largest concentration of converts he could find.

Brutus turned to the main entrance and fired the last three shots from the Brute shot right at the converts pouring in. Brutus managed to injure several of the Converts, but the several that were injured, were simply replaced by others behind them.

Brutus: How are we supposed to win this…?

Brutus saw that the Obsidian Hierarchy’s numbers began to dwindle rapidly. Brutus estimated that they were now outnumbered 10 to 1.

Brutus looked at the Obsidian Hierarchy Brutes.

Brutus: Fall back! Fall back!

Brutus and the last of the Obsidian Hierarchy Brutes fell back, deeper into the sanctuary. They ran down the corridors, firing behind them as they ran. The converts began to slow down, and even broke off their pursuit. Brutus did not care, every second the converts were not attacking was a second to rest.

It was not long before Brutus and the last of the frontline teams made it back to the heart of the sanctuary. Brutus met up with both Hephaestus and Armadaeus.

Brutus was panting, he was exhausted.

He looked at Armadaeus.

Armadaeus: I trust you are here to tell me the battle has been won, and we can all rest?

Brutus: No…I don’t have news that good…

Armadaeus: So I trust it went very badly?

Brutus: That…is an understatement…we were outnumbered…their came in massive waves…

Armadaeus sighed.

Armadaeus: Even after losing so much…they continue to drive a stake into us…they are relentless.

Armadaeus paused.

Hephaestus: We are less than 100 strong now…our numbers have been weakened…there is no chance of victory Chieftain…

Armadaeus hung his head.

Brutus: Hephaestus is right…they will keep coming…they are driven mad by the lies that have poisoned their minds…

Brutus shook his head.

Brutus: Damn the Covenant…look what they have done…they have turned our brothers into enemies…

Hephaestus: The question is…do we stay…or do we live to fight another day?

Brutus and Hephaestus looked at Armadaeus.

Armadaeus began to think.

Armadaeus: The most important thing is that our ideology survives. So long as one of us survives…we will continue to exist…we can rebuild…

Armadaeus paused.

Armadaeus: One of us will have to flee…if only to preserve the Obsidian Hierarchy. If we all stay…the Obsidian Hierarchy will be destroyed this night…

The three Brutes looked at each other.

Brutus: Which one of us will go?

Armadaeus: Which one of you two will go? My place is here…if I am to die, it will be in the halls of our sanctuary…

The three Brutes looked over their shoulders when they heard the howl of the converts.

Armadaeus: They are coming…

Armadaeus looked at Hephaestus and Brutus.

Armadaeus: Which one of you will carry the torch of our order? Which one of you will rebuild what the Covenant has smashed?

Brutus and Hephaestus looked at each other. Neither Brute wanted to tell the other to flee. Armadaeus sighed.

Armadaeus: I get it…you two don’t want to tell the other to run…less it makes him look like a coward…if you cannot choose…I will.

Armadaeus looked at Hephaestus.

Armadaeus: Hephaestus…as Chieftain of the Obsidian Hierarchy…I am ordering you to fall back. I am commanding you to flee…and when the dust settles…revive the order.

Brutus hung his head. He did not know what was more saddening, the fact that Hephaestus had to live the rest of his life knowing that he left everything he knew to be destroyed…or the fact that he was forced to stay…knowing he was going to die and there was nothing he could do about it.

Hephaestus looked at Armadaeus and reluctantly nodded.

Hephaestus: Yes…Chieftain…

Hephaestus looked at Brutus.

Hephaestus: Hunt well brothers…

Brutus: More like die well...but I get what you are trying to say…

Armadaeus: There is no time to waste brother…use the catacomb tunnels, and escape under their cover.

Hephaestus walked away from Armadaeus and Brutus. Hephaestus walked towards the catacombs of the sanctuary. He planned on using the catacomb tunnels to escape undetected.

Brutus and Armadaeus watched Hephaestus leave, but they turned when they heard the howl of converts again.

Brutus: The converts are coming…

Armadaeus drew his hammer.

Armadaeus: Brutus…get ready. I need your head in the game.

Brutus nodded. He walked over to a weapons crate and pulled two Maulers out of the crate. Brutus took position right next to Armadaeus.

All of the Obsidian Hierarchy Brutes could hear the howls of the converts getting closer.

Armadaeus: Brutus…

Brutus: Yeah?

Armadaeus: despite of what may happen before this night is out…I am glad that I had the privilege of calling you a friend…

Brutus: Likewise…

Brutus and Armadaeus saw the converts charging at them. The last of the Obsidian Hierarchy Brutes charged to meet the converts head on.

The converts outnumbered the Obsidian Hierarchy Brutes 10 to 1. The Obsidian Hierarchy Brutes fire off their Spikers and Maulers at the converts, cutting them down as the charged forward. However, it was not long before the converts managed to get close enough to use melee weapons and hand to hand combat.

Brutus fought his way through the converts. He used his Maulers to both shoot, and cut through the converts.

Brutus, and the rest of his Brutes, continued fighting the converts. His only objective was to buy Hephaestus enough time to get as far away as possible.

Armadaeus jumped into the crowd of converts, slamming his hammer down, scattering a dozen converts with each impact of the hammer.

Armadaeus: Damn poisoned fools!

Brutus looked over at Armadaeus. Brutus saw that more and more of the converts were converging on the Chieftain.

Brutus broke rank from the other Brutes he was with, and made his way close to Armadaeus. Brutus ran towards the Chieftain, firing his maulers at any convert in range of the gun. Brutus and Armadaeus stood back to back. Armadaeus pulled out a Spiker and held it in his left hand, and held his hammer in his right.

Armadaeus: Thanks for the assist…

Brutus: No problem…

Brutus fired off his Maulers, while Armadaeus fired his Spikers.

Brutus: Well…this is how I said we were going to die…

Brutus fired off his Maulers again. One of the converts ran at Brutus, but Brutus kicked the convert back and shot the convert with his Maulers.

Armadaeus: We are not dead yet…so just keep firing that Mauler…don’t let these bastards get close…

Brutus nodded. From what he could see, there were only a few dozen Obsidian Hierarchy Brutes left, most of them were injured or tired.

However, it was at that instant all of the converts began to back off. They surrounded what was left of the Obsidian Hierarchy Brutes.

The converts growled as they glared at what was left of the Obsidian Hierarchy.

Brutus: What are they doing?

Armadaeus: I have no idea…

Brutus and Armadaeus stood tall, and waited. They felt that at any moment, the converts would resume their attacks. However, the converts simply stood their ground.

Brutus: They aren’t moving…

One of the converts spoke up.

Brute Convert: Heretics…you are outnumbered…and you face imminent death. If you refuse to accept our new calling…then you will die. Renounce the old ways…accept the Covenant, and you will have a place…

Armadaeus: So long as we draw breath…we will never forsake the old ways…

Brute Convert: If that is your choice…so be it.

Armadaeus: Even if we die today…the ideology of what we are will continue to live on…

Brute Convert: No…it won’t…

The Brute convert that spoke looked back. He nodded. Another Brute walked forward and dropped a bloodied helmet on the ground. The helmet belonged to Hephaestus.

Brute Convert: We caught this one trying to escape…we hung him by his entrails…

Armadaeus looked down and snarled.

Armadaeus: You are killing your own brothers…because your minds have been poisoned…and now you hold a blade to the neck of your own culture…on the precipice of destroying everything that you once were…

Brute Convert: What we once were no longer matters in the face of what we are now. Your days are at an end…and everything you value has ended with it…

The Converts began to close in around Armadaeus, Brutus, and the last few Obsidian Hierarchy Brutes.

Brute Convert: Your blood and bones will pave the road of our future.

Armadaeus looked at Brutus and the last of the Obsidian Hierarchy Brutes.

Armadaeus: Brutus…

Brutus: I know what you are about to ask…

Armadaeus: So you know how important it is…

Brutus: I would rather not leave you to fight them yourself…

Armadaeus: Brutus…I knew I was going to die the moment the first Convert fired the first shot. I need someone to carry on Brutus. I am ordering you to go...I can cover your escape…

Brutus was reluctant. However, he knew that Armadaeus was right.

Armadaeus: Go…

Brutus and the other Obsidian Hierarchy Brutes drew their weapons. They charged through the literal wall of converts, all pushing in one direction. Brutus and the Obsidian Hierarchy Brutes pushed through in the direction of the catacombs.

Obsidian Hierarchy Brute: Brutus!? How do we plan on escaping through the catacombs?

Brutus: There is a way out. The path is treacherous…but it is possible to escape via the catacombs.

Brutus and the rest of the Obsidian Hierarchy Brutes kept running. They were running and gunning through converts. It was not long before Brutus and the rest of his team made it to the catacombs. Brutus stood at the entrance of the catacombs. He looked at his Brutes.

Brutus: Go…go!

The Obsidian Hierarchy Brutes entered the catacombs one at a time. Brutus could hear the howls of the converts…he could hear Armadaeus fighting the converts, holding the line, buying every possible second. Brutus hung his head.

He whispered under his breath.

Brutus: This betrayal will never be forgotten…

Brutus paused.

Brutus: Die well brother…

Brutus ran into the catacombs, sealing the entrance behind him.

===============================================================
End Flashback
===============================================================

Brutus: That was the last I ever saw of Armadaeus. I can only surmise that his death was slow…and drawn out. He refused to give up…and I have no doubt that his enemies had to crush every bone, drain every drop of blood, and expel every breath of air from his lungs to stop him.

Barrabus: I did not realize that the battle was that brutal…

Brutus: I don’t doubt that I have forgotten some of it…subconsciously blocking it out.

Barrabus sighed.

Brutus: Barrabus…

Barrabus: Hmm?

Brutus: The Obsidian Hierarchy needs a leader like Armadaeus.

Barrabus: You said that you have never been able to find a Brute with his qualities…

Brutus: I said I have never been able to find one that is outside the Covenant…I never said anything about Brutes INSIDE of the Covenant…

Barrabus sighed.

Barrabus: Brutus…

Brutus: It is why you were born Barrabus…I only realized that the night the Obsidian Hierarchy was brought to its knees. Call it fate, call it destiny, call it luck…but you are the next Chieftain of the Obsidian Hierarchy…only you.

Barrabus was silent.

Brutus: Your physical stature is unlike anything I have ever seen…you have a great head on your shoulders…you even look unique. I have never seen a Brute with fur that is like soot. You are the embodiment of everything the Obsidian Hierarchy needs; strength, courage, conviction…

Barrabus: I think your over-estimate my worth Brutus. Why can’t you just be the Chieftain of the Obsidian Hierarchy?

Brutus: I am not a Chieftain Barrabus…I never earned that title…I never proved to myself that I deserve that title. You, on the other hand, have more than earned it! I have no doubt in my mind, that if you tried hard enough, you could become the Chieftain of the Brutes. Our current Chieftain of the Brutes…you would crush him into a fine powder. He is nothing but a puppet…the Covenant’s plaything.

Barrabus: Brutus…I know you are right. Again…I just can’t walk away from the Covenant. There is good I can do there. If I hide in shadows, behind the cloak of the Obsidian Hierarchy, I won’t be making a difference. What you do is noble Brutus…but it is not my calling…nothing will change that. I am sorry Brutus…but I have to stay with the Covenant…

Brutus: There has to be some way to convince you Barrabus. The Covenant is not your home…it’s not you.

Barrabus: Perhaps…but I have to make due. Besides…what is the harm in having a friendly Brute in the Covenant? I am more useful to the Obsidian Hierarchy while I hold my current position.

Brutus: You are also my son Barrabus…and I would not even shoe-horn my worst enemy into the Covenant. To think that my own flesh and blood is subjected to their lies and oppression…it makes me sick.

Barrabus was going to rebuttal, but he felt the ship decelerate our of Slipspace.

Barrabus: We have arrived…

Brutus looked at Barrabus.

Brutus: I guess I will go and suit up…get geared to go.

Barrabus: Yeah…

Brutus walked out of Barrabus’ private chambers.

Barrabus sighed.

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Barrabus: Damn it Brutus…you never give up…

Barrabus leaned back in his chair. He took a deep breath and sighed again. He then heard a summons from the bridge.

Brute Bridge Officer: Chieftain Barrabus…you are needed on the bridge. You are being summoned by the Minister of Abbadon.

Barrabus stood up and left his private chambers. He walked up towards the bridge. Upon entering, Barrabus saw that the large holomap in the center of the bridge had been replaced by holographic avatars of the Minister of Abbadon, Quinn, and the other Elites.

Barrabus: Minister…

Barrabus intentionally did not greet the Elites.

Minister of Abbadon: Chieftain Barrabus…behold…the forge of our gods…

Barrabus walked past the holographic grid and looked at the large planet that was viewable from the widows on the bridge.

Barrabus: I expected something more…full of life.

Barrabus looked at the planet. The planet itself was undergoing a massive greenhouse gas effect. The atmosphere was totally obscured by a brownish gas that had filled the skies.

Minister of Abbadon: This planet is in its dying stages…though the holy relics will endure long after this planet has withered away. That is simply the nature of that which is divine.

Barrabus winced. He glared at the planet.

Barrabus: That is not the only thing that is dying. The star...it is dim...very unlike Oth Sonin. This star is weak...

Minister of Abbadon: Yes...the star in this cluster is in its final years. There is no doubt that it will die soon.

Barrabus: I read the reports…it is my understanding that Deacons of the Covenant are attempting to decipher the holy glyphs found at this place.

Minister of Abbadon: Correct. You should now that some progress has already been made…

The Minister of Abbadon sounded annoyed when he said this.

Barrabus, with his back to the hologram, grinned. He knew that he totally forgot about reading the reports, and instead spent the hours talking with Brutus.

Barrabus then heard the holographic avatar of Quinn speak.

Quinn: I recommend that we send a preliminary team to ensure that this place has not been compromised…I volunteer…I wish to undertake this holy task.

One of the other holographic avatars began to speak.

Bael: I would also like to assist Quinn. It is the place of the Elites to undertake missions of…importance…

Minister of Abbadon: Very well. Quinn…I want you to put together a preliminary team composed strictly of Elites…

The Minister of Abbadon paused.

Minister of Abbadon: Barrabus…wait until you are summoned.

Barrabus turned and looked at the holograms.

Barrabus: IF you trust this exclusively to the Elite…then this mission has already failed!

Minister of Abbadon: Be silent Chieftain! I have spoken…do not question my edict!

Barrabus grunted.

Quinn: Don’t feel bad…Chieftain…you can’t win them all.

Quinn laughed.

Quinn: Do as you are told…

Barrabus clenched his fist.

Quinn: Minister…with your permission…I would like to get underway!

Minister of Abbadon: Go with blessing Quinn…

Quinn: Bael, Malak, Jaero, Rha…prepare your best spec-ops…and meet me on my command ship…immediately.

The holographic avatars of all of the Elites vanished. The Minister of Abbadon was all that remain.

Minister of Abbadon: Be warned Barrabus…if you step out of line…the Elites will be there…

The hologram of the Minister of Abbadon vanished.

Barrabus snarled. The other Brutes on the bridge looked at him.

Barrabus simply stared at the holotank where the holograms appeared. After a moment, he turned and left the bridge, heading down to the armory.

Barrabus had no intention of simply staying put while the Elites had free roam. He was no accustom to this, and he would not accept this treatment. More and more, Barrabus began to see what Brutus was talking about. Brutus’ words echoed in his head, like a voice in a canyon. The echo was persistent, and clear as day.

Barrabus became enraged with every step he took, thinking about the conversation that just transpired. Barrabus wanted nothing more than to tell Brutus exactly what he wanted to hear. Barrabus was in the right mindset to do so. He was furious with the Covenant.

Barrabus walked up to the doors of the barracks, and opened the door. He walked in and saw the Obsidian Hierarchy Brutes, along with Dancar and Brutus.

Brutus: I could hear you coming down that hallway. You don’t look happy…

Barrabus snarled.

Dancar: It was the communication with the liar…wasn’t it?

Barrabus looked at Dancar

Barrabus: How do you know about that?

Dancar: I know a thing or two when it comes to eavesdropping on communication systems…

Brutus: Dancar has a knack for this…technology…

Brutus paused.

Brutus: It is pretty impressive…

Barrabus glared at Brutus.

Barrabus: If you know what has been said…then I do not need to explain anything. I want you to get ready to deploy. I want to know what is going on down there. The Elites are being given the lead on this mission, and I am stuck on the side lines…relegated to watching.

Dancar: Sounds like the Covenant doesn’t favorite you too much more…Barrabus…

Barrabus looked at Dancar.

Barrabus: Guess not…

Brutus: You see Barrabus? Do you understand now?

Barrabus nodded.

Brutus: So…the question remains…you want us to go down there, follow the Elites, spy on them, and find out what they are up to. You are ordering us to do this. Who are you giving that order as?

Barrabus was silent for a moment.

Barrabus: You said you needed a Chieftain of the Obsidian Hierarchy? Consider the positioned filled…for now.

Brutus walked up to Barrabus.

Brutus: I knew you were always a smart one Barrabus!

Brutus stepped back. He looked at Dancar and the other Obsidian Hierarchy Brutes.

Brutus: You heard the Chieftain! Let’s get going!

Dancar and his Brutes howled. They left the barracks, and made their way to the hanger bay. Brutus nodded at Barrabus and followed after Dancar and the others.

Barrabus looked at Brutus. He called out to Brutus before he left.

Barrabus: Brutus…

Brutus stopped and looked back at Barrabus.

Barrabus: Thanks for the wake-up call…

Brutus nodded.

Brutus: Anytime.

Brutus left the barracks. Barrabus stood there, thinking about what he had just done. He knew he had officially forsaken the Covenant and it’s teachings. Barrabus didn’t feel bad, he didn’t feel that he had done anything wrong. Barrabus was proud of himself for what he had just done. He had finally, on a personal level, rejected the teaching of the Covenant and began to think for himself.

Barrabus knew, however, that this was not the end. He may have accepted the title of Chieftain of the Obsidian Hierarchy, but did he truly want to abandon his brothers who were still in the Covenant. Was it possible to live both lives? Was it possible to be Chieftain of the Obsidian Hierarchy and a Shipmaster in the Covenant?

Barrabus did not know the answer to this question. He did not know if both could be done without one endangering the other.

Barrabus decided not to dwell on this given the circumstances. There was plenty of time after the Elites have been taken care of to truly meditate on his future.

With a grin, Barrabus left the Barracks. Perhaps he was going to start seeing more of Doisac after all.

===============================================================
the Chariot of Thirty Silver Tongues - In Orbit of Forerunner Forge Planet.
===============================================================

Quinn was in Xyrho’s lab. He looked up at Vanguard, who had recently reactivated. Vanguard had sensed the Forerunner installation on the planet’s surface. Xyrho was standing next to Quinn.

Vanguard: Quinn…

Quinn: Yes?

Vanguard: Forerunner technology detected…

Quinn: I know…the technology is on the planet below.

Vanguard: Local installation accessed…authenticating…

Quinn was confused.

Quinn: What are you doing?

Vanguard: Accessing the local data cluster…attempting to identify…

Quinn waited.

Vanguard: Location established. Local installation identified as Construct Assembly Line Security Bravo…

Quinn: What does that mean?

Vanguard: This is a tactical installation…used in the construction of small, medium, large, and colossal sized automated constructs…Sentinels…

Quinn: Warriors of our gods…

Vanguard: Inaccurately…yes. Sentinels are servants…low priority constructs commanded by Monitors.

Quinn: Can you command them?

Vanguard: Yes…but direct interface is required. This installation has no remote terminal access to primary systems. Additionally, local sentinels are of tactical offensive programming. Direct personality dissemination will be required to overwrite current programming of local sentinels.

Quinn: How easy is that?

Vanguard: My estimated processing speed is measured at 77 quadrillion calculations per second…In your terminology…very easy.

Quinn: Just a question…how are we supposed to get you down there? You seem to be…tethered…to that cradle…that is how we found you.

Vanguard was silent. IT was only a moment after Quinn spoke that the latches holding Vanguard in place retracted. Vanguard slowly fell downwards, as his anti-gravity systems kicked in. The colossal monitor hovered in front of Quinn.

Vanguard: I am no longer…tethered…

Vanguard paused.

Vanguard: I need to make my way to the matrix core of the installation...from there, I can not only reinitialize the installation, but I can control it.

Quinn: I can have a Phantom bring you down to where ever you need to go.

Vanguard: That will not be necessary...I already have access to the tertiary and secondary systems...including the teleportation grid. I can move myself.

Vanguard paused.

Vanguard: Do nothing until I have control of the installation. Do not allow the interlopers to do anything. Local security prevents all non Forerunners from accessing the installation...but...the uninvolved mind of the one known as "Minister of Abbadon" Will no doubt do everything in his power to meddle with what he knows nothing of.

Quinn: How will I know when you have full control?

Vanguard: You will know...

A bright yellow flash surrounded Vanguard, and within a second, he was gone.

Quinn: Damn it...

Xyrho: Well...that was unexpected...

Quinn: How did he do that!? I thought you disabled every single one of his sub-systems?

Xyrho: The construct must have repaired itself...created work-arounds. I am not surprised...a construct as sophisticated as that one...I would be shocked if he could not create work-arounds.

Quinn: Who cares. I want you on the first entry Xyrho. There will no doubt be...something down there that needs your expertise. I want you in the hanger bay...now!

Xyrho: Very well...

Quinn: The rest of the team will be waiting in the hanger bay. Get moving...

Xyrho nodded. Quinn nodded back and left Xyrho's lab, making his way to the hanger bay.

===============================================================
Construct Assembly Line Security Bravo - Matrix Core
===============================================================

Vanguard appeared in the matrix core in a flash of yellow light, identical to the light that was seen when leaving Quinn's ship.

Vanguard was now in the matrix core of the entire installation. The walls and floor were silver in color, and there was a blue tint to the room. In the center of the room was the massive computer matrix core, spherical in shape, suspended in the air by unknown means. The core itself was transparent. It could be clearly seen through from one side to the other. As this was Forerunner technology, the sophistication was unmitigated.

Vanguard approached the matrix core. He hovered right in front of it. A small blue beam came from his eye. The light was wavy, almost as if it were an electrical current moving from one surface to the next. Vanguard was accessing the matrix core.

Vanguard: Connection established...

The room went from a blue hue to a red one, as the custodian of the matrix core knew that another construct was attempting to access it.

Custodian: Rampant presence detected...

There was a paused.

Custodian: Counter-measure level 1 is now in effect.

Vanguard did not say anything, he simply continued his access to the matrix core. Several dozen sentinels aggressors emerged from the wall. They all took aim at Vanguard and began to fire their beam weapons at Vanguard. The beam weapons were orange in color, typical armament for sentinel aggressors. However, Vanguard's shielding absorbed the laser beams with little difficulty.

Vanguard: Pathetic...

The Sentinels continued firing at Vanguard.

Custodian: Rampant presence detected...

There was a paused.

Custodian: Counter-measure level 2 is now in effect.

More sentinels emerged from the walls, however, these newer sentinels were gold in appearance, unlike the previous ones which were silver.

The gold Sentinels were sentinel defenders.

Once again, the sentinel defenders proved to be very ineffective against Vanguard.

Vanguard: Worthless...

The sentinel defenders proved to be ineffective against Vanguard.

Custodian: Rampant presence detected...

There was a paused.

Custodian: Counter-measure level 3 is now in effect.

Vanguard did not stop what he was doing.

While Vanguard continued to infiltrate the matrix core, a super sentinel emerged from the wall. This sentinel was as big as Vanguard. The super sentinel was green in appearance.

The super sentinel took aim at Vanguard, and fired. The blast from the super sentinel pushed Vanguard away from the matrix core, thus breaking the connection.

Vanguard's eye lit up to a very bright red.

Vanguard: Annoyance...

Vanguard fired his laser beam from his eye and toasted the super sentinel, breaking it into tiny pieces.

Vanguard then paused. He released all of the built up energy from his shields, and destroyed all of the sentinels in the room that had been attacking him since before the super sentinel arrived.

Vanguard: Resuming personality dissemination...

There was a brief pause as Vanguard reestablished connection.

Custodian: Rampant presence detected...

There was a paused.

Custodian: Matrix core has been compromised...

There was another pause.

Custodian: Widespread rampant infection detected in file system...attempting to purge...purging systems are offline...retrying...failed...

There was a pause.

Custodian: Fragmentation found in core operating system. Essential system files are no longer accessible...kernel panic...emergency halt...sleeping forever...

The matrix core dimmed and lost its blue color. After a moment, the core lit back up into a red tint.

Vanguard: Personality dissemination...complete...unable to establish root access on installation...insufficient clearance.

Vanguard paused.

Vanguard: Rebooting installation subsystems into active mode in an attempt to purge invalid subroutines. Reboot will require 1032 seconds local time...commencing...

Vanguard paused.

===============================================================
Construct Assembly Line Security Bravo - Initial Survey Team LZ
===============================================================

Several Phantoms landed at a Covenant established landing zone. One of these Phantoms belonged to the Minister of Abbadon, while the rest of them belonged to Quinn, Jaero, Rha, Bael, and Malak.

The landing zone was within the walls of the huge Forerunner Installation. The LZ was also equipped with a large gravity elevator. These gravity elevators were intended to allow cruisers and capital ships to establish a surface to ship elevator for the transport of vehicles and personnel.

Each of the Elite shipmasters exited their respective phantoms and regrouped with the Minister of Abbadon.

Voro and Xyrho were with Quinn and the other shipmasters.

the Minister of Abbadon: I can feel the divinity of this holy place...

Quinn looked at the other shipmasters and nodded. He then looked back at the Minister of Abbadon.

Quinn: It is truly a privilege to be here...

the Minister of Abbadon: It is a privilege we have all earned for our unwavering conviction...

Voro: Indeed...

The Minister of Abbadon's chair hovered forward.

Quinn: Minister...where are we going?

Minister of Abbadon: To the main chamber...I have been told that a door sealed with holy glyphs awaits us. Our deacons have yet to decipher it...I believe my vast knowledge of our gods will be of great value...

Xyrho walked next to Quinn. The two Elites exchanged looks. Quinn nodded.

Xyrho: Minister...what if you are unable to decipher the glyphs?

Minister of Abbadon: Unlikely...

Xyrho: We will see...

The Minister of Abbadon gave a dirty look to Xyrho, but he kept on hovering forward. It was not long until the Minister of Abbadon entered the main chamber. Quinn and the other Elites stopped when the Minister of Abbadon raised his hand, instructing them to stop.

The Minister of Abbadon himself approached the large door at the end of the main chamber. He touched it, and the glyphs written on the door turned red.

The Minister of Abbadon read the glyphs that were on the door

Minister of Abbadon: Let those who are chosen for...reclamation...open these doors...let those who defile it...die...

The Minister of Abbadon was silent for a moment.

Xyrho: Are we defiling it...or worthy of opening it?

The Minister of Abbadon continued to look at the door. However, he spoke to Xyrho.

Minister of Abbadon: Be silent...

Xyrho rolled his eyes.

The Minister of Abbadon's chair hovered back from the door.

Minister of Abbadon: This is a test of our faith...we must prove to our gods that we are worthy of the glorious wonders beyond this barrier. We must prove our resolve...our zeal...but we must not defile the sanctity of this place...

Quinn sighed.

Quinn: Minister...perhaps we should...pause and reflect. Perhaps rash actions are not what they want

Minister of Abbadon: I know what our gods want Quinn...you do not.


From the shadows, several cloaked Brutes were watching the exchange. Brutus was among those Brutes.

Brutus: The Minister seems desperate to open that door...

Quinn paced back and forth.

Quinn: Our gods would demand humility...patience...reflection...

The Minister of Abbadon examined a spherical control panel with glyphs on it. He ran his hand across the control panel and the blue indicators did not respond to his touch.

Minister of Abbadon: Quinn...you are trying my patience. Be silent...or I will replace you with the Brute Chieftain...

Quinn glared at the Minister of Abbadon.

Minister of Abbadon: By denying us access...they are testing our metal...they are testing our courage...

The Minister of Abbadon paused.

Minister of Abbadon: They are testing us to see what lengths we will go to too unlock their holy secrets...if we are savage in the approach...or graceful...

Quinn: Perhaps we should step back...and explore the rest of this holy place before we attempt to open this barrier. Perhaps the answer will come to us...

Minister of Abbadon: Make it so Quinn. I will appeal to our gods...implore them to grant us what we seek...

Brutus continued to watch the exchange.

Brutus: Yeah...good luck with that...Minister...I am sure your gods will jump at your summons...

Quinn looked at Xyrho and Voro.

Quinn: You two...come with me. We will explore the depths of this holy place...to see how far it extends

Voro and Xyrho nodded.

Quinn looked at Bael.

Quinn: Bael...return to my command ship...I want you to assume command until further notice.

Bael: Immediately Quinn...

Quinn: Malak, Rha, Jaero...I want you three to explore the immediate area surrounding this chamber.

Rha: Yes Quinn...

Brutus watched the Elites go their separate ways. Brutus looked over at the other cloaked Brutes and motioned half of the Brutes to follow Malak, Rha, and Jaero. Brutus and the other half of the Brutes followed behind Quinn, Voro, and Xyrho.

Brutus and his Brutes moved silently, keeping their eye on Quinn as he walked through the corridors of the Forerunner installation.

Quinn began to converse with Voro and Xyrho.

Quinn: The Minister of Abbadon is a fool...

Xyrho: He has ideas that he thinks are important. Though, I do find it laughable that he is going to try and appeal to our gods...when they have already chosen a side...

Brutus listened intently.

Brutus: What are they talking about?

Quinn: We must wait for Vanguard...only when we receive word from him are we to make our move.

Voro: It better be soon...I want to be rid of this...Minister...

Quinn: Fear not...it will be soon enough.

Xyrho: Quinn...not everyone here will follow us. What about the initial survey team? What about the Grunts, the Jackals, the Hunters?

Quinn: I have given that thought. Upon reflection...I have realized why the Brutes are here...our gods simply provided for us...but I was so blinded by my anger that I did not see it. The gods gave us a scapegoat...

Brutus glared at Quinn from the shadows.

Brutus: Bastard...

Xyrho: What do you have in mind?

Quinn: Well...I am thinking that we tell the masses that the Brutes killed the Minister of Abbadon. I will admit that most of the Elites here, not counting the ones from my ship, may be iffy on the idea of turning away from the Covenant, even with a Forerunner construct on our side. They may even outright oppose the idea. I will not be able to convince them all. For now, I am content with lying to them about my true intentions. It would be best that we keep our true intentions to the inner circle...and not allow every peon to know the truth. All we need are Elites willing to follow my orders.

Quinn paused.

If we tell them that the Brutes killed the Minister of Abbadon, not only will we get loyalty from righteous anger, but the honor guards will join us as well. After that...with the loyalty of a battle group...I will have full reign to do whatever I please. We will slowly wither their faith in the Covenant through attrition. Soon...they will be patriots...like I am.

Xyrho: Whatever your plan is...it better involve killing the Brutes sooner rather than later. Brutes have a tendency to get in the way and make easy tasks needlessly difficult.

Brutus winced. He now knew that Quinn was planning some type of coup.

Brutus: Barrabus needs to know immediately...

Brutus motioned for his Brutes to follow him, to return to the extraction point. However, he stopped when he saw a holographic construct appear.

Brutus looked at the construct.

Vanguard: Quinn...

Brutus looked at the hologram speaking to Quinn. Brutus felt the fur on the back of his neck stand on end.

Brutus: What is that?

Quinn: Vanguard! What is your status?

Vanguard: I am unable to establish full control of this facility...

Quinn: Which means...?

Vanguard: Which means...we must still proceed. Full control of this facility will take longer than initially predicted. The sooner this installation is under our control...the better.

Quinn: Very well, I will...eliminate...the Minister of Abbadon.

Vanguard: Very well...when you have completed this task...summon me.

The hologram vanished.

Quinn looked at Xyrho.

Quinn: We must ensure that all Elites loyal to me are not present in the main chamber when I order the elimination of the Minister of Abbadon. I will be forced to kill any Elites present that are not loyal. I want you and Voro to return, and ensure that Elites loyal to me are nowhere to be seen when I arrive. I would rather not have any collateral damage.

Xyrho: Yes Quinn...

Voro and Xyrho turned away and returned in the direction of the Main Chambers.

Brutus, on the other hand, had already left the scene with his Brutes. They were already running back to the LZ.

Brutus contacted Dancar, who was leading the other team of Brutes.

Brutus: Dancar...are you receiving?

Dancar answer the comm a moment later.

Dancar: What is it? You said to maintain comm silence...

Brutus: Get back to the LZ...now...hurry!

Dancar: Why?

Brutus: The Elites...they are hostile. We need to leave this place before they turn their attention on us. They have us outnumbered. The odds are not in our favor...and our numbers are too small to risk a direct confrontation.

Dancar: Alright, alright...I am on my way. I will be there in a few moments.

Brutus closed the comm.

He continued to run back towards the main chamber, so he could gain access to the exit.

Brutus then contacted the Devotion, looking to get in touch with Barrabus. After a moment, Barrabus answered the comm.

Barrabus: Brutus? What do you need.

Brutus: Barrabus...we need to get out of here now. If we stay, the Elites are going to try and kill us. We are vastly out-numbered...we need reinforcements.

Barrabus: Brutus...what are you saying? What is going on?

Brutus: Quinn is going to kill the Minister of Abbadon and blame you. He is going to turn the full offensive power of that battle group on your ship! He is going to tell the other Elites that you killed the Minister...

Barrabus: What!?

Brutus: That is but a single problem. Quinn seems to be collaborating with a construct...from what I understand, he is attempting to take control of this facility

Barrabus: When is Quinn going to make his move?

Brutus: Very soon! Too soon. Barrabus...if we stay, we are going to die.

Barrabus: I am not going to let Quinn kill the Minister of Abbadon.

Brutus: Barrabus...are you insane? He is not our concern!

Barrabus: I know...

Brutus: Then why save him?

Barrabus: Do you think I want Quinn having full control of this place? Quinn is a self-proclaimed enemy of our kind. If he kills the Minister of Abbadon...then there will be nothing standing in his way.

Brutus: I see your point...but I do not like it.

Barrabus: I want you to stay nearby Brutus...I will be there in a moment.

Barrabus closed the comm line. Brutus growled as he did not want to save the Minister of Abbadon, but he knew he had to follow Barrabus' instructions.

Brutus contacted Dancar again.

Brutus: Dancar...change of plans...meet me in the main chamber...we are going to wait for Barrabus...

Dancar: Why the change of plans?

Brutus: Barrabus has something in mind. There is no time to explain. Just get back to the main chamber, and await his arrival.

Brutus made his way back to the main chamber and stuck to the shadows, remaining unseen. Brutus kept his eye on the Minister of Abbadon.

Not but a moment later, Xyrho and Voro returned to the main chambers. They split up and they each began to tell certain Elites to leave the immediate area. Each Elite nodded and left, quietly, silently, not disturbing the surrounding area.

It was not long before only the honor guards remained behind.

Brutus kept his eye on the entire area, and it was not long before Quinn himself returned to the main chambers. Brutus watched Quinn approach the Minister of Abbadon.

Quinn: Minister...have you made any progress?

Minister of Abbadon: No...and I am making considerably less when you constantly interrupt me. Leave me be Quinn...

Quinn: Minister...

Minister of Abbadon: What is it Quinn?

Quinn: I...have a truth to confess to...

The Minister of Abbadon turned.

Minister of Abbadon: Oh?

Quinn: There are things about this place that I know...that you do not.

Minister of Abbadon: What would those things be Quinn?

Quinn: This place...and all places like it...were left behind for my kind to find...

Minister of Abbadon: You walk the line of heresy Quinn...

Quinn: Heresy...a euphemism created by the prophets to give voice to the attrition forced on my people.

Minister of Abbadon: Quinn...one more word and I will have you executed where you stand!

Quinn chuckled.

Quinn had his back to the main entrance of the main hall. He hovered his hand over his energy blade. However, he was forced to stop, and his laughter stopped when he heard an unwelcomed voice.

Barrabus: You would be right to execute this swine!

Quinn turned and glared at Barrabus.

Quinn: Mongrel!

Barrabus: Traitor...

Quinn's eyes became wide with shock.

Minister of Abbadon: Chieftain? With what evidence do you bring the charge of treachery to Quinn?

Barrabus: You mean...aside from what he just said about how the hierarchs were slowly withering the foundation of his society, and that all technology left behind by the Forerunners belongs to them?

Quinn stepped towards Barrabus. Quinn knew that Barrabus had knowledge of what has gone unseen thus far.

Quinn: Hold your tongue mongrel!

Barrabus: Quinn is planning to kill you Minister...

Minister of Abbadon: What?

Quinn: Lies!

Quinn pointed at Barrabus.

Quinn: The mongrel lies! I was not planning your murder Minister...

Quinn turned to face the Minister of Abbadon. He drew his blade.

Quinn: I was anticipating it...

Quinn raised his blade to strike the Minister of Abbadon down, but Quinn was tackled from the side by Barrabus. Quinn landed on his back. He looked up and saw Barrabus sitting on top of him. Barrabus grabbed Quinn by the neck and began to squeeze.

the Honor guard Elites stood tall and what Barrabus tackle Quinn. The Honor Guard Elites moved in to protect the Minister of Abbadon, but cared very little for Barrabus' safety.

Voro and Xyrho watched the exchange. They both drew their energy blades and, approaching the Honor Guards from behind, killed them in single blows. Xyrho and Voro then turned their attention to the Minister of Abbadon.

Minister of Abbadon: Treachery!

Quinn could feel the life draining out of him as Barrabus strangled him. However, it was Vanguard who saved Quinn from Barrabus' hand.

Barrabus looked up and broke eye contact with Quinn when Vanguard teleported into the main chamber. At this exact moment, the Obsidian Hierarchy Brutes that had been watching the exchange decloaked and aimed their weapons at Vanguard.

Vanguard looked down at Barrabus.

Vanguard: Bacteria...

Using this distraction, Quinn was able to draw an energy dagger from his armor and stabbed Barrabus in the side. Barrabus howled in pain as Quinn pushed Barrabus off. Quinn got back to his feet and stared Barrabus down.

Barrabus managed to get back to his feet, as he stood in front of the Obsidian Hierarchy Brutes.

Barrabus: A Forerunner construct...

Quinn: My very own...

Barrabus glared at Quinn.

Barrabus: This treachery will not go unpunished Quinn.

Quinn: Ohhh...it will not only go unpunished...it will go rewarded...

Barrabus snarled.

Quinn walked over and grabbed the Minister of Abbadon by the neck and pulled him from his chair.

Quinn: You see...after I kill this pathetic worm...I am going to kill you. Once I kill you...I am going to slaughter each and every single living thing that had the unfortunate curse of not being born an Elite. I plan on cleaning the stars of every inferior race.

Barrabus looked at Xyrho and Voro.

Barrabus: You two will stand by and watch this happen?

Xyrho: Not just us mongrel...but all of them as well...

Quinn pointed to the other side of the room, at the Rha, Malak, and Jaero. Barrabus refused to break eye contact, but Brutus turned and looked at the Elites, who had also drawn their blades.

Brutus: Barrabus...we are surrounded...

Quinn: The Ministers death will be forever known as being by your hands Barrabus. It will not take long for every Elite within the sound of my voice to heard of how you murdered our holy Minister.

Barrabus snarled as he charged at Quinn again. Vanguard, who had been watching Barrabus, charged up his eye and blasted Barrabus right to the other side of the room, right past Malak, Rha, and Jaero, and right to where the Phantoms were docked.

Barrabus hit the ground hard, his body rolled on the ground as he impacted the floor, denting the floor and breaking it with each successive hit.

Quinn laughed.

Quinn: Well...so much for the Chieftain. Doubt he survived that. Good riddance.

Brutus snarled at Quinn. Quinn looked down at Brutus.

Quinn: I dare you...try it mongrel...

Quinn then noticed Barrabus getting back to his feet.

Quinn: Impossible...

Vanguard looked at Barrabus.

Vanguard: Impressive...I have never seen anyone survive that. That bacteria is resilient...

Quinn looked at Vanguard.

Quinn: Shoot him again...keep shooting the damn animal until he no longer moves!

Vanguard's eye began to light up.

Dancar watched what was happening. He reached onto his belt and pulled off a firebomb grenade and activated it, and threw it at Vanguard.

The firebomb impacted Vanguard, and the front end of Vanguard was engulfed in flames. Quinn roared in anger.

Quinn gestured to Malak, Jaero, and Rha to kill the Brutes.

Quinn: Destroy the mongrels!

Voro and Xyrho charged at Brutus, Dancar, and the other brutes. Malak, Rha, and Jaero charged from the other end.

Dancar: Back to the Phantom!

Brutus turned and charged right through Malak and Jaero. Dancar charged right through Rha. The other Brutes drew their weapons and laid down suppressive fire on Xyrho and Voro, forcing them into cover.

the Brutes retreated to their Phantoms, falling back to the main entrance of the main hall of the Forerunner installation.

Barrabus had managed to get back to his feet. He shook his head, trying to shake off the daze. Just as Barrabus was about to go after Quinn again, he was stopped by Brutus.

Brutus: Not worth it Barrabus...not worth it! We need to regroup...think of a plan...

Barrabus was furious. He refused to go, he refused to let Quinn have this victory.

Brutus: Live to fight another day Barrabus…you cannot win a fight that has already been lost…

However, he knew Brutus was right. Barrabus glared at Quinn. Barrabus saw the Vanguard had regained its composure and was getting ready to attack again.

Barrabus: Very well Brutus...back to the Phantoms.

Barrabus backed up and turned, he ran back to the Phantom with Brutus, Dancar, and the others.

Quinn watched this. He was very pleased with himself.

Quinn: Flee you cowards…flee…

Quinn laughed as he turned to face the Minister of Abbadon, who was still in Quinn’s stranglehold.

Minister of Abbadon: You will pay for this Quinn…you and the rest of these traitors will die!

Quinn: I think not…

Quinn stabbed the Minister of Abbadon in the abdomen with his energy blade.

Quinn: Nobody will ever know what happened here today Minister…nobody!

Quinn pulled the blade right up the Minister of Abbadon’s Torso and sheered the Minster right in half right up to his neck. Quinn then tossed the Minister of Abbadon’s dead body aside and sighed.

Quinn: Too easy…too easy…

Quinn looked at Vanguard.

Quinn: So…where do we begin?

===============================================================
Construct Assembly Line Security Bravo - Phantom en route to the Devotion
===============================================================

Barrabus sat on the ground of the Phantom, holding his side.

Dancar: Damn Barrabus…that was quite a hit you took. You bounced a few times…

Barrabus: Oh yeah…it was great.

Barrabus rolled his eyes.

Brutus: Are you alright?

Barrabus: I am fine…

Brutus: I don’t think so.

Barrabus: No, really…I am fine.

Dancar: You don’t look fine. That thing charred your armor, devastated it…you don’t even have an energy output from that armor anymore, not to mention the cracks in the chest plate. That thing hit you so hard it fried your shields and shattered the armor.

Barrabus: It would have been better off frying me instead. When I go back there…I plan on disconnecting limbs from torsos, and dismantling that piece of scrap…

Barrabus continued to hold his side as he got back to his feet.

Dancar: You are favoring your side…

Barrabus: It’s nothing…just a cramp…

Brutus: I am sure…just a cramp…

Brutus paused.

Brutus: I know a broken rib when I see one. I know broken ribs when I see them.

Barrabus: I’ll live…

Barrabus could feel the pain with each breath he took.

Barrabus: We need to get back to my ship before the Elites gather their military strength and bare down on us.

Dancar: What are we going to do about Quinn?

Barrabus: We are going to think of a plan, then come back, then I am going to break him…and then put my foot up, whatever that construct, calls its ass.

Brutus: I recommend we fall back to Doisac…pick up the rest of the Obsidian Hierarchy…then come back.

Barrabus: Why? I have a ship full of Brutes right here at my disposal.

Brutus: I don't trust these Brutes. They are kin to the ones who destroyed the Obsidian Hierarchy...they cannot be trusted.

Barrabus looked at Brutus and sighed.

Barrabus: How many Brutes do you have in the Obsidian Hierarchy?

Brutus: To be honest? Less than 200…our numbers are still very small.

Barrabus: Brutus…did you see how many ships the Elites had? There are thousands of them…but only roughly 200 of us. Perhaps I am just really bad with numbers…but I think they have us outnumbered.

Dancar: Outnumbered? Yes. However, we have far more skill than your typical Elite.

Barrabus: As much as I despise the Elites…give credit where credit is due…Elites are not weak enemies. Elites have a propensity for being very dangerous. Do not underestimate them.

Brutus: Dancar is right Barrabus. The Elites are stuck in the mindset that honorable fighting is the only kind of fighting. They expect honor, even from their enemies. I am sure you know this!

Barrabus: Yes, yes.

Brutus: Guess what we don’t do? Fight with honor! I will say it right now…I love dirty fighting. We all do...

Barrabus rubbed his goatee.

Barrabus: We still need a plan, a plan to take down Quinn, kill his buddies, and send that construct back to where it came from.

Dancar: Agreed.

Barrabus: In the mean time…we will make the trip back to Doisac. If you feel that you can only trust the Obsidian Hierarchy with a mission like this...then we will give it a shot.

Barrabus felt the Phantom dock inside of the hanger bay. The side hatches opened and Barrabus jumped out of the Phantom. He grunted when his feet hit the ground due to the impact irritating his injury. Barrabus turned and looked at Brutus and Dancar.

Barrabus: Make yourselves scarce…I am going to head to the bridge to make sure we get out of here alive.

Barrabus left the hanger bay and made his way up to the bridge. When he arrived, he was immediately summoned.

Brute Bridge Officer: Chieftain…the Elite ships are taking up position against us…unprovoked…they have active weapons.

Barrabus: What kind of position?

Brute Bridge officer: They have us surrounded. The Capital ship…Chariot of 30 Silver Tongues, has not yet moved, but the smaller cruisers have their weapons trained on us. Orders?

Barrabus: Brings weapons and shields up. Move us out of range…and then prepare the jump to slip space…random destination solution.

Brute Bridge officer: Are we not going to defend ourselves?

Barrabus: Right now…we are surrounded by 5 ships, and Assault Carrier…without a battle plan. It would be stupid to stay behind and try and make up the battle plan as we go along. Move us away…full power to engines.

Brute Bridge Officer: Very well Chieftain…

Barrabus sat down in his chair. He stroked his goatee.

Brute Bridge Officer: Engines are at maximum…we are moving away from the planet.

The Brute officer paused.

Brute Bridge Officer: The Elite ships are firing weapons…

The smaller cruisers fired their weapons at the Devotion. The Shields absorbed the incoming fire.

Barrabus: Status?

Brute Bridge Officer: Shields are holding…no major damage thus far.

Barrabus nodded.

Barrabus: maintain course.

Brute Bridge Officer: Chieftain…the Assault Carrier is now in pursuit. The Chariot of 30 Silver Tongues is charging weapons. The Elite cruisers continue their offensive…our dorsal shields are beginning to buckle.

Barrabus: Maintain course. Begin targeting the cruisers…fire target of opportunity.

Barrabus paused.

Barrabus: How long until we have reached minimum distance for a slip space transition?

Brute Bridge Officer: We have nearly reached the threshold of the planets gravity well. Not much longer.

The Devotion began to shake slightly from the weapons impacts fired from the Chariot of 30 Silver Tongues.

Brute Bridge Officer: The Elite Assault Carrier is firing weapons. Aft section has sustained damage. They are attempting to halt our escape.

Barrabus frowned.

Barrabus: We are far enough…begin slip space transition now. If we wait any longer, we will be in a full our battle with the Elites. This is not the best time for that right now.

Brute bride Officer: Slip space transition in progress.

The Devotion made the jump to slip space. A random destination solution was chosen.

Brute Bridge Officer: Slip space transition complete. No other ships have entered the slip space event horizon.

Barrabus: Good. When we transition back into normal space…plot a course for Doisac.

Brute Bridge Officer: Yes Chieftain.

Barrabus stood up and left the bridge. Barrabus felt it was necessary to discuss the next course of action with Brutus and Dancar, as they had the Obsidian Hierarchy connections that he lacked.

Barrabus made his way back down to the Barracks to met up with both Brutus and Dancar.

Upon arriving at the barracks, he found Brutus and Dancar conversing amongst each other.

Brutus looked over at Barrabus.

Brutus: Chieftain…we were just discussing our current situation.

Barrabus: Current situation?

Dancar: With the Obsidian Hierarchy. With a new Chieftain, and an existing Warlord…I feel that we also need a Chief Operative to coordinate our reconnaissance branch.

Barrabus: Do you have anyone in mind?

Dancar: No…but…you are Chieftain…this is a decision that you must make.

Barrabus: If this is my decision Dancar…then I am going to appoint you as the new Chief Operative.

Dancar was taken aback.

Dancar: Chief Operative...are you sure?

Barrabus: Defiantly…from what I have seen, you seem perfect for the job. Believe me, being a Chieftain in the Covenant has given me a lot of perspective on evaluating how ready someone is to be a leader. I am good at spotting the leaders and spotting the followers.

Dancar: Chieftain…I know I am ready...if you feel I am ready…

Barrabus: What is with you two calling me Chieftain all of a sudden? Not but a while ago…we were on a first name basis…

Brutus: That is what we were discussing. As you are now the Chieftain of the Obsidian Hierarchy…a level of respect is demanded on our part.

Barrabus laughed.

Barrabus: That’s laughable…

Barrabus shrugged.

Barrabus: I don't really care if you guys call me Chieftain or not. You have the privilege of being on a first name basis with me. If you were anyone else, I would demand to be addressed as my title...but only if you were anyone else.

Brutus shrugged.

Brutus: Very well...

Barrabus nodded.

Barrabus: Good. Now, I need to know our exact strength in terms of the Brutes the Obsidian Hierarchy has. You said we have roughly 100 Brutes at our disposal. Good enough. Is there anything else I should know, such as special forces, or anything like that?

Dancar: Strictly speaking, every single Brute in the Obsidian Hierarchy is a specialist. We are all trained for infiltration, elimination, and volatile confrontation. However, some Brutes, such as myself, have training or expertise that makes us unique. If you need something broken into, talk to me. You need a plan in a pinch? Talk to me. It is why I was the best.

Brutus: You have a thing or two to learn about leadership and patience in the field...but I tend to agree.

Barrabus: What about weapons?

Brutus: Spikers, Maulers, Brute Shots, Hammers, Firebombs...mostly native technology. We have the cloak on our armor, and the shield technology stolen from the Covenant. We have Vehicles, but nothing that would be useful here. We also have a few Covenant weapons such as Carbines and Flak Cannons.

Barrabus: You guys are well set up.

Brutus: I saw to it...it was necessary.

Barrabus: My ship is equipped with Covenant weaponry that has been specially modified for the...typical brute mentality. Perhaps I can part with a few.

Dancar: Really?

Barrabus: We have Plasma Pistols, some Plasma Rifles...a few dozen Plasma Turrets. We also have some Plasma Repeaters...and this tricked out gun used by Jackal snipers...Focus Rifles.

Barrabus paused.

Barrabus: I will open the armory when we get back to Doisac.

Brutus: Very well.

Barrabus sighed.

Barrabus: In the mean time...I am going to go and reflect on how we are going to deal with Quinn. With that Forerunner construct by his side, he will prove to be an annoying adversary.

Brutus: Very well...we will see if we can come up with anything on the side. We can discuss it further.

Barrabus nodded. He walked out of the armory. Barrabus walked back to his private chamber. As he made his way back, he began to think to himself.

Barrabus: There is no way I am going to sit around and think of battle plans...

Barrabus paused.

Barrabus: My side is killing me. This is really bad timing for an injury like this. I have no idea how I am going to stop Quinn, an army of Elites, and a construct, with what could possibly be broken ribs.

Barrabus continued walking. He walked passed some Brutes in the corridor. Barrabus refused to show any sign of injury. Barrabus was gritting his teeth as he walked, as his injury was starting to act up

Barrabus entered his private chambers and leaned on the wall.

Barrabus: This is agonizing...what I would not do for an automated surgery suite...

Barrabus snarled.

Barrabus: Bastard prophets...stripping my ship of what the Elites..."desperately need". I would like nothing more than to throttle the neck of whoever took our med bay away...

Barrabus continued to hold his side as he walked over to what could be described as a bed made from pads layered on top of a frame. Barrabus lay on his back. Every breath he took exaggerated the injury, as his armor, although not constricting his movements, forced his body to press p against the armor when he inhaled, which caused his discomfort.

Barrabus: I can do this...I should not need to heal my injuries to take care of a few hundred Elites.

Barrabus felt tired. He had felt his eyelids grow heavy since before the Devotion departed High Charity.

Barrabus: Perhaps I need rest...nothing more...

Barrabus paused. He closed his eyes.

Barrabus: A whole day's journey back to Doisac? I am sure I can spare the time...

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

Quinn was with Vanguard and several other Elites in the main hall of the Forerunner facility.

Quinn paced back and forth. He was questioning the Elites.

Quinn: How did the Chieftain escape? How did he evade all of our ships? Why was he allowed to flee? Where was the Chariot of 30 Silver Tongues?

Bael: We were occupied at the moment the Brute decided to flee the system. We were still in the process of killing the Grunts, Jackals, Hunters, and Drones. The other weaker races were attempting to resist...

Quinn: Speaking of which...how does the hunt go?

Bael: We are doing a deck by deck sweep for anything that isn't an Elite. Any bodies we find are being spaced.

Quinn: Excellent.

Bael: All ships except for your have been completely cleared. We are nearing completion on your ship. By this time tomorrow, the Elites will be the only thing left living on every ship under our banner.

Quinn: I am pleased to hear this.

Bael: Furthermore, I have devoted my time to ensuring the elimination of the Brute. I will remain on your flagship, and if the Brute returns, I will destroy his ship...and all of those mongrels that dwell on it.

Quinn: Be sure that you do...

Quinn dismissed Bael, and Bael walked away. Quinn then looked at Xyrho.

Quinn: I want a status update on this facility...

Xyrho: Well...I have been busy cataloging every single symbol I have seen. There are combinations I have never seen before...

Quinn: Keep this simple...I want direct answers...not prolonged explanations...

Xyrho: I am having some difficulty understanding everything here. The biggest problem is the fact that nothing here responds to us. This facility remains dead so long the computers refuse to acknowledge our input.

Quinn turned to Vanguard.

Quinn: Why? Why does this happen?

Vanguard: Our technology is protected...

Quinn: Unprotect it...

Vanguard: While it is possible, that function is one I am currently unable to do. Local security of all technology was not handled by a construct with my classification. Each construct contained compartmentalized information on access, defense, offense, strategy, cataloging, indexing, analysis, manufacturing, assembly...

Quinn: Get to the point...

Vanguard: I do not know how to bypass the locks...I was never told how to. For immediate results, we require a Forerunner Construct...Caretaker class. This is, however, if time was a factor, which it is.

Quinn: Where do we get one?

Vanguard: The Weapons posses them...we would need to find one of the Weapons...

Quinn: Weapons?

Vanguard paused. He was about to reply with further details, but Xyrho interrupted them.

Xyrho: Look...this does not matter. If I can have access to the main core...I might be able to figure it out. It is a long shot, but it is our best shot. If I can get Vanguard to successfully infect other systems, he might be able to bypass the locks on all of these controls.

Vanguard: I have already interfaced with the Matrix core of this installation in an attempt to take control. I was unsuccessful...I lack the necessary clearance that a Caretaker Class construct has.

Quinn: Good...do it now. The sooner I have full access to this facility, the sooner I can rain fire down upon the inferior races...

Vanguard looked at Xyrho. Not but a moment after, both Xyrho and Vanguard were surrounded by the bright teleportation light and they vanished.

Quinn paused. He then looked at Voro.

Quinn: Voro...I have an important mission for you...

Voro: I am ready to serve...

Quinn: I have no doubt in my mind that Barrabus will return. I am positive he will return.

Voro: How do you know? How do you know the Hierarchs will not send someone else to combat us. I may be bold, but the Covenant may even sanction an Arbiter for this task...

Quinn: An Arbiter? I will kill ten thousand Arbiters before any of them have any level of success, and I will kill ten thousand more before they eliminate me. Arbiters are not a concern. I am concerned about the Brute returning.

Voro: I...wait...I do not understand? Why do you concern yourself with a mongrel?

Quinn: His company...

Voro: I am confused...why does that have you concerned? All I saw was one mongrel commanding other mongrels...

Quinn: Barrabus was in the company of...extremists. There was a deadly familiarity about them, but I was uncertain at the time. Upon reflection, I finally recognized the Brutes that he was with. Barrabus seems to be affiliated with the Obsidian Hierarchy.

Voro: But I thought...

Quinn: Thought what? Did you think we destroyed their entire order? No...the Covenant was unable to fully destroy them. They crippled them, but they did not fully destroy them.

Voro: Why would they not resume the hunt for possible survivors?

Quinn: I do not know...perhaps it is because the Obsidian Hierarchy was proficient at blending in with the Brutes that converted. Whatever the case, the Obsidian Hierarchy is still alive...and they are associated with Barrabus.

Voro: No matter...if they return, we will kill them.

Quinn: Do not underestimate them Voro...

Voro: What is there to underestimate?

Quinn: These Brutes have no regard for any of these relics. Consider for a moment how important this place is to the Covenant religion. Any military force dispatched by the Covenant would be under orders to preserve this place, which would give us an advantage. The Obsidian Hierarchy has no regard for the supposed sanctity for this place. There is nothing stopping them from utterly destroying this place if they need to. This fact alone makes them dangerous.

Quinn paused.

Quinn: I know enough about the tactics used by the Obsidian Hierarchy and Barrabus to know that the Covenant will not be coming to get us, because the Covenant is not going to find out what has happened here until the situation suits Barrabus. Barrabus is going to return with, and only with, the Obsidian Hierarchy. This is what we must prepare for. It is only a matter of days...

Voro: I understand Quinn...

Quinn: I hope you do...because if you don't...many Elites will needlessly pay with their lives.

Voro nodded. He backed away and left to regroup with his Elites.

Quinn paced back and forth. He sighed.

===============================================================
The Devotion - In Orbit of Doisac - 9 Days Later
===============================================================

Barrabus proceeded to walk down to the hanger bay of his ship. Upon arriving, he saw Brutus, Dancar, and the other Obsidian Hierarchy brutes that had initially come on the mission with them.

Brutus: Barrabus! How are you feeling?

Barrabus: Terrible. I itch for battle...and yet I find myself flying around in this Carrier...going back and forth.

Brutus was silent. He then growled.

Barrabus: Let's get this underway. Let's get down to the surface, and get the rest of the Obsidian Hierarchy. I am itching to get back and finish what we started with Quinn and his construct.

Brutus: Very well...

Brutus signaled his Brutes to follow him to a Phantom. Dancar was going to follow Brutus, but decided to follow Barrabus instead.

Barrabus turned and walked to one of the Phantoms that was docked. Barrabus noticed Dancar following him.

Barrabus: What is on your mind kid?

Barrabus hopped into a Phantom. Dancar hopped into the Phantom after him.

Dancar: I am curious...about the Covenant.

Barrabus: Why?

Barrabus entered the cock pit. He engaged the thrusters and the side hatches closed. The Phantom lifted off and left the Devotion.

Dancar: I need to know what drew you to it. Why did you join the Covenant?

Barrabus: Aside from not knowing about the Obsidian Hierarchy at the time I joined the Covenant, I felt that by joining the Covenant, I could do more for our kind by establishing our value to the Covenant.

Dancar: Brutus told me that he used his connections to ensure you had the best training from the pack Chieftains. He also told me that when they had finished training you, the Covenant recruited you for your tenacity and ferocity...

Barrabus: That is true.

Dancar: Why? What did they offer that staying on our home world could not?

Barrabus: Like I said...I wanted to improve our kind in the eyes of the Covenant. I felt I was the only one who could do it. There really isn't very much to it...the Covenant simply got to me first.

Dancar: Would you have joined the Obsidian Hierarchy had you of remained on the home world?

Barrabus: More than likely...yes.

Dancar: Do you still have loyalty to the Covenant?

Barrabus: What do you mean?

Dancar: I mean...would you have joined us had you not of been kicked to the side by the Covenant on this mission?

Barrabus was silent.

Dancar: You harbor animosity to the Covenant for tossing you aside in favor of the Elites. You were comfortable being treated with respect. I am not questioning your decision, just the reasoning behind them. If you are going to be the Chieftain of the Obsidian Hierarchy...your loyalty needs to be clear cut and decisive.

Barrabus: To be honest...do I want to be Chieftain of the Obsidian Hierarchy? Yes. My only goal in life is to help my own kind. However, am I prepared to ditch the Covenant? No...not yet. There is still much I can accomplish in the Covenant. Besides, if executed properly...I can do both.

Dancar: That seems...divided...

Barrabus: Is it? Brutus does the same thing. He pretends to be loyal to the Covenant to steal technology.

Dancar was silent.

Barrabus: You seem to think that because I am still part of the Covenant, that I am not dedicated to the Obsidian Hierarchy. Nothing could be further from the truth. Times have changed kid. In order to ensure that the Obsidian Hierarchy survives, it is important that we change our tactics. By planting agents in the Covenant, not only will you stay a step ahead of the Covenant...but you might just find more Brutes who think like you do. Shutting yourself in the shadows is not the best way to expand your numbers.

Dancar: I guess you have a point. You can say with wisdom like that, you deserve to be Chieftain of the Obsidian Hierarchy.

Dancar shrugged.

Barrabus: I will say this; there was a time when I did believe that the Covenant was the best hope for our kind. It made us realize that the petty arguments we have with each other mean nothing in the grand scheme. The Covenant showed us that we were simply one race among many...and if we cannot stand unified, then we will destroy ourselves. The Obsidian Hierarchy believed this even before the advent of the Covenant...and this is why the Covenant, compared to the Obsidian Hierarchy, is inadequate.

Barrabus paused.

Barrabus: Besides...any chance I get to stick it to the Elites is fine with me. I enjoy making them look bad in the eyes of the Covenant. When I am done with Quinn...I plan on parading his guts through the streets of High Charity...

Dancar: A fitting end to him...that is for sure.

Barrabus landed the Phantom.

Dancar: Good to be home...even if t is for a short while.

Barrabus: We are here strictly for business. Let's go meet up with Brutus, and gather the rest of the Obsidian Hierarchy.

Dancar nodded.

Barrabus stood up and walked out of the cockpit. He opened the side hatch of the Phantom and jumped out. Dancar followed.

Barrabus had landed the Phantom just outside the Obsidian Hierarchy.

Barrabus looked at the Sanctuary more closely this time around; something he failed to do last time he was here. The building itself had damage to the super structure, but overall, it held together quite nicely.

Dancar looked at Barrabus.

Dancar: Admiring the architecture?

Barrabus: Sort of...you don't see buildings like this anymore.

Dancar: Some day...this place will be restored to its former glory. When the day comes that we shed our world of the influence of the Covenant...we will reclaim this place. Until then...we must reside in the safety and obscurity of the catacombs...

Barrabus: I cannot image that being very pleasant...

Dancar: It isn't...too dark and damp for my tastes.

Barrabus: How often are you down there?

Dancar: Often...

Barrabus: How often?

Dancar: Like most Brutes in the Obsidian Hierarchy...very often. This place needs to be protected. The longest I have ever been down there is a full cycle of the moons.

Barrabus: A whole month? I would go insane...

Dancar: It can be difficult...a true test of one's own conviction. Whatever does not kill you however, makes you stronger.

Dancar and Barrabus entered the sanctuary. They made their way towards the Catacombs.

Barrabus: Has anyone ever found this place?

Dancar: No. Most Brutes who are loyal to the Covenant don't come to this place, as it is considered heresy. The Outsiders...they tend to wander in this direction from time to time. On the rare occasion, they enter the sanctuary, but they never find the catacombs, and they simply leave after a bit of roaming. Sometimes they come looking for food...other times...they are simply wandering. One time, a couple mated in the Sanctuary itself...a young pairing...

Barrabus: How interesting...

Dancar: We just ignored them. They left eventually...I guess they wanted privacy...

Barrabus snickered.

Barrabus: Have you ever tried recruiting outsiders?

Dancar: No...they are far too feral...too aggressive. No discipline. They seem like the best candidates...but in reality they are too difficult to control. I guess it gives merit to your point about how the Covenant made us realize that other Brutes were not the enemy...that we should be more united and tolerant of each other as opposed to divided rivals...

Barrabus nodded.

Barrabus: It is unfortunate that they do not cooperate. They could really bolster your numbers...something that is much needed.

Dancar: The one advantage of small numbers however, is the fact that we all know each other...and we can managed ourselves better. If the Obsidian Hierarchy had thousands of Brutes in it...the chances of having a power hungry whelp in the ranks increases. Unfortunately...you will always get one Brute who wants more than he can chew.

Barrabus: Tell me about it. I have had a few run-ins with Brutes who wanted more power than they had earned. I have had to beat a few of my brothers for being stupid. Never enjoyed it...but it had to be done.

Dancar: I can only imagine...

Dancar and Barrabus entered the catacombs. As soon as they entered the catacombs, they saw Brutus talking with some of the Obsidian Hierarchy Brutes. He was instructing them on what the situation was, and what needed to be done.

Brutus saw Barrabus and Dancar. He dismissed the Brutes he was speaking with, and approached Barrabus and Dancar.

Brutus: It is about time you two showed up.

Dancar: We took our time...a lot of discussion was exchanged while we made our way here.

Brutus: Well...in any case...

Brutus looked at Barrabus.

Brutus: I have something to show you...come with me.

Brutus turned and walked off. Barrabus and Dancar followed him. Brutus spoke as he walked.

Brutus: Barrabus...in all honesty...I have been anticipating the day you would stand in this place as Chieftain of the Obsidian Hierarchy...

Barrabus: I am so happy I can fulfill your dream...

Brutus: In anticipation of this day...I had prepared something...special...

Barrabus: A surprise? Never liked them. They make me feel uneasy.

Brutus: Be that as it may...I think you are going to like this.

Brutus led Barrabus and Dancar to an isolated room that was used as a storage room. It was a room in the far corner of the catacombs that was dedicated to housing some of the weapons and equipment. It was a naturally formed cubbyhole in the rock formations that had been converted to serve as a room for storage.

In this storage area, there was a large box. The box itself was a storage crate, larger than the crates used to store the weapons.

Brutus: Barrabus...this is yours...

Brutus walked up to the large crate and tapped his hand on it.

Barrabus: What is it?

Brutus: Your new armor. specifically for you...intended for our Chieftain...

Barrabus walked up to the crate and opened the lid. Inside, was a set of Chieftain armor, identical in design to the armor that Barrabus was currently wearing, save for the fact that the color scheme was totally different in the sense that the new armor was in the color scheme of the Obsidian Hierarchy.

Barrabus: Looks sharp...

Brutus: If you are going to be our Chieftain...you need to look the part.

Barrabus nodded.

Brutus: Besides...if you are going to convince the others that you are suited to be their Chieftain...they need to see their colors...not the colors of the Covenant.

Barrabus: I understand...

Brutus: Get suited up...there is no time to lose.

Brutus turned and walked away.

Barrabus watched Brutus walk off. Barrabus then grabbed his head dress and removed it from his head. He dropped it to the side.

Barrabus unhooked the forearm shield that was on his arm and tossed it aside as well. All of these pieces of armor were now useless, and beyond repair.

Barrabus: I remember the first day I put that armor on...proudest moment of my life...

Barrabus removed the chest plate and let it fall to the ground.

Barrabus: Now it is simply broken junk. Sort of symbolic...shedding my old skin..getting a new one. Turning away from the Covenant, turning to a new way of life.

Barrabus continued to remove the broken pieces of armor, tossing them aside into a pile. Barrabus then reached for the new armor pieces from the crate and began to put them on a piece at a time.

It was not long before Barrabus was fitting the last pieces of armor on. Barrabus checked each piece of armor to ensure that everything was on correctly. Lastly, he grabbed his new head dress and put it on.

Barrabus: Needs to be broken in...

Barrabus flexed his arms and shoulders to try and break in the new armor. He had to admit to himself, that the armor felt a lot different than what he was normally used to.

Barrabus: I guess this may take a while...

Barrabus was about to leave the storage room, but he stopped when he saw a cache of firebomb grenades. Barrabus looked at his equipment belt and saw he was only carrying spike grenades. Barrabus decided to leave his spike grenades behind and grabbed three firebomb grenades. Barrabus then left the storage room.

Barrabus proceeded to walk through the catacombs, looking around at all the Stalkers. Some of the Stalkers looked at him, some with shock, others with distrust. They were all taken aback at the prospect of having a new Chieftain of the Obsidian Hierarchy.

Barrabus soon met up with Brutus and Dancar.

Brutus: Those colors suit you...you were defiantly destined to wear them.

Barrabus: If you say so. Little tight around the crotch though...needs breaking in.

Brutus: All the good things in life need to be broken in around the crotch area...

Barrabus: Like a female?

Brutus: Especially the females...

Brutus laughed.

Barrabus grinned

Barrabus: Where are the rest of the Brutes? Should they not be gathered?

Brutus: They are already on their way...I have already sent a message to them...they should be here any moment.

Dancar: You are going to have to address them Barrabus. You are going to need to earn their trust...here and now. You will need to give them a good reason to follow you.

Brutus: Dancar is right. You must inspire them. Remember...your predecessor was Armadaeus. While not many Brutes here knew Armadaeus in person...some here did. If you are to earn their trust and their respect...you are going to prove you can lead.

Barrabus: Shouldn't be too hard. I have never had difficulty earning someone's respect...

Brutus: We will see.

Barrabus remained silent. Barrabus, Dancar, and Brutus proceeded to make their way to the main gathering area in the catacombs. The area where the Obsidian Hierarchy gathered was essentially a war room, where plans and briefings were carried out.

Brutus: Barrabus...

Barrabus grunted in response.

Brutus: What is our plan when it comes to dealing with Quinn?

Barrabus: To be completely honest...I don't have a real plan at this point. I have been so distracted with...injury, and the Obsidian Hierarchy...I have not had the time to focus on how exactly we are going to attack Quinn.

Brutus: We are going to need one very soon. If you wish...I can formalize one. That is my job...of course.

Barrabus: Once we get back to the Devotion, we can work on it.

Barrabus looked around as some of the Brutes began to gather around. Some of them sat down, while others conversed amongst themselves.

It was not long before all of the Brutes belonging to the Obsidian Hierarchy had gathered together.

Brutus whispered to Barrabus.

Brutus: You should address them...now would be the best time. They are all here...be sure to be forceful.

Barrabus nodded. He looked around at the Brutes that had their eyes on him.

Barrabus: Brothers...

Barrabus paused.

Barrabus: For too long you have been forced to dwell in this...cavern...hidden from not only the Covenant, but from your own kind. You have been forced into hiding without a true leader...

Barrabus paused again.

Barrabus: You need a leader...I am it.

One of the Brutes laughed.

Obsidian Hierarchy Brute: Who are you to claim leadership?

Barrabus: I am someone who can crush you into a very fine powder. I am Chieftain Barrabus...

Obsidian Hierarchy Brute: I know that name...you are the Covenant's lap dog...

The other Brutes glared at Barrabus.

Obsidian Hierarchy Brute: You are not worthy to lead us...

Barrabus: Is that so?

Obsidian Hierarchy Brute: It is. I will not listen to your word...or your order. You serve the Covenant...

Barrabus winced.

the Brute that was arguing with Barrabus stepped towards him.

Obsidian Hierarchy Brute: I do not recognize the authority of the Covenant...and I do not recognize yours. You do not care about your brothers...you pledge service to the ones who would see our society destroyed...the essence of who we are...erased. You care very little for your..."brothers"...

The Brute drew a blade.

Obsidian Hierarchy Brute: You insult the memory of every Brute that died defending this place.

Barrabus looked at the blade.

Barrabus: You draw a blade...but you keep running your mouth. I hear action...but I do not see any.

The Brute raised the blade and drove the blade at Barrabus' torso.

Barrabus grabbed the Brutes wrist with his left hand and stopped the Brutes attempt to stab him. Barrabus then punched the Brute in the gut with his right hand.

the impact forced the Brute to drop his blade. Barrabus then drove his knee into the Brutes gut. Barrabus then spun the Brute around and pinned his arm behind his back.

Barrabus used his right arm to smash his forearm into the back of the Brutes head, forcing him to his knees. Barrabus then pulled on the Brutes arm. The Brute howled in pain.

Barrabus: I don't like it when my subordinates refuse to cooperate. I don't like it when they refuse to follow orders.

The Brute grunted.

Barrabus pulled on his arm again, wrenching it, nearly breaking it.

Barrabus: You are big on talk...short on action...absent on foresight. I have every right to kill you for what you said and did.

Barrabus pulled his own blade out and held it to the Brutes throat. Barrabus pressed the blade against the Brutes throat, enough to apply pressure to the skin, but not enough to break the skin.

Barrabus: You claim that I do not care about the well-being of my brothers. If this were true, I would have slit your throat so your blood could drain at my feet. However, I did not do this. Despite my previous service to the Covenant...my only goal is the betterment of our kind. I do not make it habit to kill a pack brother...but I will if I have to. Do I have to?

The Brute shook his head.

Barrabus released the Brute. Barrabus put his blade away.

Barrabus: Get out of my sight.

the Brute looked up at Barrabus and got back to his feet. The Brute cradled his arm, as he stepped away, hanging his head.

Barrabus: Let that serve as an example to the rest of you. I don't give a damn if you like me...but you better respect me. If I cannot command respect, I will beat it into you. I have never taken backtalk from my subordinates...that is what makes me a natural born leader. If you refuse to listen...I will not hesitate to beat you into submission. I rule through fear and intimidation...nothing more, nothing less.

All of the Brutes were silent.

Barrabus: If anyone has a problem with this...speak now...

Some of the Brutes looked at each other.

Barrabus: Good...

Barrabus paced back and forth.

Barrabus: As of this moment...I claim the title of Chieftain of the Obsidian Hierarchy.

The other Brutes looked at Barrabus. One by one, they stood tall and saluted Barrabus by placing their fists on their chests.

Brutus: Loyalty and obedience...

Dancar: Loyalty and obedience...

All of the other Brutes spoke up in unison.

Obsidian Hierarchy Brutes: Loyalty and obedience...

Brutus looked at Barrabus.

Brutus: What are your orders Chieftain!?

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Barrabus: My orders?

Barrabus paused. He took a breath.

Barrabus: My first order is to prepare for battle. I want all equipment and weapons gathered up and brought to my ship, that is currently in orbit.

One of the Brutes spoke up.

Obsidian Hierarchy Stalker: Chieftain...may I ask why?

Barrabus: The Elites have sized a tactically advantageous military outpost. They are in control of a Forerunner military installation. I plan on removing them from this installation. The leader of this group of Elites is no doubt planning our destruction. If he goes unchallenged...many will perish...

The Brutes began to snarl.

Obsidian Hierarchy Stalker: Why would the Covenant want to destroy us? This should be used as a rallying call...

Barrabus: These Elites are not with the Covenant. The Covenant has proven beyond useless in stopping these Elites...which is why I have turned my back on the Covenant...and turn to the Obsidian Hierarchy. We are the only ones who can stop these Elites. We are the only ones who have the resolve to deal with them.

Barrabus paused.

Barrabus: Now...gather up all of the equipment...and prepare to have it shipped to my ship in orbit...

All of the Brutes nodded. They immediately got to work.

Brutus watched as the Brutes did as Barrabus told. He was impressed. He had never seen a Brute invoke such authority so quickly.

Brutus approached Barrabus and grinned.

Brutus: I am impressed...you rallied them quickly. I always knew you would be a forceful leader Barrabus. I saw it in you on day one.

Barrabus: Well...it isn't smart to screw around with someone as big as I am. I have never met someone I could not walk all over.

Dancar approached Barrabus.

Dancar: For a moment there...I thought you were going to kill that field operative....

Barrabus: I do not kill my own kind...unless I absolutely need to. TO date, I have yet to kill another Brute. I have never had to kill a Brute to command my ship...

Brutus: Speaking of your ship...what are we going to do about the Brutes on your ship? There is no way we can sneak the entire Hierarchy onboard without arousing suspicion.

Barrabus: I have been thinking about that. I actually have an idea.

Brutus: You do?

Barrabus: Yes...

Barrabus paused.

Barrabus: I think my crew has earned some rest and relaxation...would you not agree?

Brutus grinned.

Brutus: I would say so...

Brutus: I plan on ordering all of my Brutes down to Doisac. I am simply going to tell them that I am undertaking a mission vital to the survival of the Covenant. They do not need any details beyond that...they will listen...and if they don't, I will simply beat obedience into them as needed.

Brutus: Assuming that works...what then?

Barrabus: I will crew the ship with the Obsidian Hierarchy...and we will take the ship back to where Quinn has consolidated his power...and we will stomp a hole in his ass for what he has done. Quinn is going to learn never to cross the Brutes.

Dancar: Quinn still has ships under his command...we are going to need to fight past them.

Barrabus: We will not only fight past them...we will destroy them.

Brutus and Dancar nodded.

Barrabus: I will see to it that the Devotion is cleared of my crew. After that...we can begin to transfer this equipment to the Devotion. Dancar...see to it that this equipment is ready to go at a moment's notice!

Dancar: Right away Barrabus...

Barrabus: Brutus...I want you to take every piece of information we known on Quinn and his cohorts, cross reference with what we know about that installation he has occupied...and I need a battle plan ready to go by the time we get back there. I need the specifications on all of his ships, and the service profiles of his top associates.

Brutus: Right away!

Brutus and Dancar walked off.

Barrabus watched as the Obsidian Hierarchy Brutes carried out his orders. He folded his arms, with a clear sign of superiority on his face.

===============================================================
Construct Assembly Line Security Bravo - Main Chamber - 8 Days Later
===============================================================

Quinn and Xyrho were all in the main chamber. Vanguard was in the center of the room. His eye was completely dim, but he was hovering above the ground.

Quinn: Xyrho...what exactly is Vanguard doing?

Xyrho: Well...I have been working non-stop...but I was finally able to interface Vanguard with the Matrix Core in this installation. For the past few hours...he has been doing something he calls..."personality dissemination". This is basically his way of saying that he is taking control of every system in this installation. If he is successful...he can rewrite the security in this installation to respond to our input...and our commands.

Quinn: Giving us full control?

Xyrho: Yes...

Quinn nodded in approval. Quinn then saw Voro, along with several other spec-op Elites enter the main chamber. Voro walked up to Quinn and saluted

Voro: Shipmaster...

Quinn looked at Voro.

Quinn: Speak...

Voro: We have made all possible preparations for any possible incursion from the Brutes. We have heavy plasma turrets and anti-air plasma turrets stationed all around the installation to counter air assaults and landings, while our ground troops are in place to stop and possible ground assault. We have deployed Wraith Tanks and banshees as well.

Quinn: Excellent...well done Voro.

Voro: Furthermore...our battle group remains in orbit...awaiting their Assault Carrier. Bael, as you know, is in command of your flagship. Malak, Rha, and Jaero have assumed command of their respective cruisers.

Quinn: Very well done. What about any other Covenant ships?

Voro: None in range. I do not believe the Covenant knows of anything that has happened here. We were fortunate that the Minister of Abbadon made this mission so secretive...otherwise, it is possible we would have an entire fleet after us by now.

Quinn: I guess he was useful for something after all.

Voro: The Minister of Abbadon was a fraud...nothing more.

Quinn was about to speak, but he stopped when he saw Vanguard illuminate to his red hue. Quinn turned and stepped towards Vanguard.

Quinn: Vanguard?

Vanguard: Personality dissemination...complete.

Quinn: Is that so? What do you have access to?

Vanguard was silent for a moment.

Vanguard: Full access has been granted to all major systems. Minor systems are currently propagating...estimated time to completion...2059 seconds...

Quinn was silent.

Xyrho: 34 Minutes...19 Seconds...

Quinn: I know that!

Quinn looked at Vanguard.

Quinn: Do you have control over the other constructs?

Vanguard: Yes...

Quinn: What about the forge that lay beyond the main door?

Vanguard: Yes...

Quinn: What about the door controls themselves! My Elites need full access to this facility...

Vanguard: Security measures have been completely rewritten...you, and the rest of your soldiers, have full access to this facility...only so long as I remain interfaced with the main system.

Quinn: What? Why?

Vanguard: In order to overwrite the security that has been built into our technology...I need to constantly fight the re-encryption protocols. If I stop...even for a moment...the security will reinitialize...and you will be locked out of the main controls.

Quinn: Can you not defeat the encryption protocols completely?

Vanguard: No.

Quinn sighed. He was not happy about this.

Quinn: So long as we have access to this installation...it will be good enough.

Quinn turned away from Vanguard and approached the large doors that the Minister of Abbadon was trying to get passed before he was killed. Quinn looked down at the control panel and touched it. The controls flashed blue, to signify access.

The large doors opened, to reveal a pitch black room.

Voro and Xyrho walked behind Quinn. As the trio entered this large room, it slowly began to illuminate. They soon realized that this entire room was empty, save for a few terminals that had no apparent input capabilities, but were only equipped with display consoles. There was, however, a single consol used for input.

Quinn: This...is an assembly line? This...is a forge? This is what our gods used?

Vanguard hovered behind the three Elites.

Vanguard: Correct...

Quinn: It does not look like much.

Xyrho: No...it does not.

Vanguard: Our technology is beyond yours. You rely on physical construction. The Forerunners had a different approach. They did not build...they imagined...

Quinn: What?

Vanguard: Behold...

Vanguard hovered around the single input console.

Vanguard: This is the Forge. This is where everything is made. This is the beginning of all things. The ones you call...Engineers...were created in this fashion. The technology used in their creation was a combination of technological blueprints and nano-technology, specifically designed to mimic biological appearance. This forge can create more...if so desired.

Quinn: Can it create anything else?

Vanguard: Yes...including the seeds and blueprints used in the creation of interstellar ships. Once the seed is created...this installation can be used to assemble the vessel. Large vessels require the exterior design platform...while smaller designs, such as combat skins or weapons, can be constructed in this room...and reconstituted immediately. Of course...raw material is needed to construct anything from the forge. Fortunately...this facility is still supplied with a vast amount of resources.

Xyrho: Unbelievable...

Vanguard: Observe...

Vanguard hovered above the Forge terminal. A small blue light shot from his eye as he interfaced with the terminal. Has he worked, a platform on the far end of the room illuminated. Several pillars that surrounded the platform illuminated in a gold light as they began to work. The pillar began to rotate around the platform.

Quinn watched as the pillars began to constitute a completely blank Sentinel Aggressor Construct from thin air.

When the pillars stopped, the pillars shut down, and dimmed.

Vanguard: Using a technology known as hard light...we are able to constitute any base material into any other or identical material and shape as we need. As you can see...I have used the forge to construct a single Construct. This construct can then be recycled...and broken down once again...

Vanguard activated the Forge again. The pillar lit up and proceeded to deconstruct the Sentinel.

Xyrho: What is powering this installation...

Vanguard: The local star.

Xyrho: This installation is powered by a star?

Vanguard: Correct. This installation has been leeching the energy from the star for many years. This installation has never stopped...it has devoured the energy of this star...without mercy

Quinn: That is why the star in this system is nearly dead.

Vanguard: Correct. In the most basic terms...this star is nearly out of fuel.

Xyrho: Quinn...if this is true...that star could collapse if put under enough stress.

Quinn: That would be very bad. Ensure that does not happen.

Quinn paused.

Quinn: Xyrho...I want you to get started. I want you to utilize This Forge...construct the weapons needed to begin destroying all that is inferior. The sooner we are able to pulverize the Brutes into non-existence...the better.

Xyrho: I will get started immediately.

Quinn turned away and left Xyrho to his work. Voro followed behind Quinn. As Quinn returned to the main hall, he was approached by several Elites. One of the Elites was a Major.

The Elites saluted Quinn.

Elite Major: Shipmaster Quinn...

Quinn looked at the Elite Major.

Quinn: What is it?

Elite Major: We have just detected a slip space rupture. We have identified the ship as the Brute Vessel that escaped.

Quinn clenched his fists.

Elite Major: They are presently holding position just outside the system. Should I send word to engage them?

Quinn: Not yet...let them come to us. Inform our ships in orbit to maintain full combat alert status.

Elite Major: Yes shipmaster.

The Elites turned and walked off.

Quinn knew that Barrabus was going to prove to be a serious problem. Quinn turned to look at Voro.

Quinn: Voro...I want every Elite in this installation prepared for battle. We must be fully prepared for these Brutes.

Voro: I will inform all positions to be fully combat alert.

Voro walked off, leaving Quinn by himself.

===============================================================
The Devotion - Main Bridge
===============================================================


Barrabus was on the bridge of the Devotion. His bridge crew had been replaced entirely by Obsidian Hierarchy Brutes.

Barrabus: What is our current position?

Obsidian Hierarchy Stalker: We are currently outside of the system.

Barrabus: Status of the enemy ships?

Obsidian Hierarchy Stalker: Enemy ships have not moved from their position...they are in a defensive position around the planet.

Barrabus drummed his fingers on his chair.

Barrabus: Cowardly bastards...they are waiting for us to come to them.

Barrabus turned to see Brutus enter the bridge. Brutus looked at Barrabus.

Brutus: Barrabus...

Barrabus: Brutus? What do you need?

Brutus: I have finalized our attack plan for when we land on the planet. I feel that now is the best time to go over it. Of course...I will need your final approval.

Barrabus: That will have to wait. As of right now...we are currently in a standoff with the Elites. They are simply guarding the planet...they are unwilling to move from their defensive stance. We may be in a situation where we will be forced to make the first move. Defiantly not ideal...considering we are currently unaware of what could be waiting for us.

Brutus: If we approach the planet, we will be walking into their domain. We could very well be walking into a trap.

Barrabus: I agree...but we may not have a choice. We may need to engage them in their domain. These Elites may very well be content to sit and guard that planet for as long as they need to. I am not prepared to sit here and let them dictate the terms of our next engagement.

Brutus: In either event...I have spoken with Dancar...he has informed me that our ground forces are fully prepared for an assault. Whatever you choose to do...we will be ready for the ground assault.

Barrabus nodded.

Barrabus: Understood.

Barrabus paused. He looked ahead to the Brute that was at the helm station.

Barrabus: Helm...set a course for the planet.

Obsidian Hierarchy Stalker: Yes Chieftain...

Barrabus looked at a Brute that was sitting at the weapons station on the bridge.

Barrabus: Bring weapons and shields to full power.

Obsidian Hierarchy Brute: Weapons and shields are at full power. Ready to fire at your command Chieftain.

The Devotion continued to move into the system. As the Devotion got closer to the planet, the Elite ships began to move into an offensive position.

Obsidian Hierarchy Brute: Chieftain...enemy ships moving into attack position. There are 5 cruisers and 1 assault carrier.

Barrabus: Where is the Chariot of 30 Silver Tongues

Obsidian Hierarchy Brute: The Elite Assault Carrier is at the forefront of the enemy battle group. The smaller cruisers are in support positions.

Barrabus: Target the smaller cruisers. Fire on all targets of opportunity.

Obsidian Hierarchy Brute: Targeting smaller cruisers...firing plasma torpedoes.

The Devotion flew right at the Elite battle group. The Devotion fired off a full barrage of plasma torpedoes, hitting all of the smaller cruisers in a dispersal patter, causing minor damage to each ship.

Obsidian Hierarchy Brute: Minor damage to enemy ships...their shields are still holding.

Plasma weapons and pulse lasers could be heard impacting the shields of the Devotion.

Obsidian Hierarchy Brute: Enemy ships have returned fir. We have sustained damage to our forward shields.

Barrabus: Break off our advance. Begin engagement with port side weapons.

Obsidian Hierarchy Stalker: Altering course...breaking off and commencing full rotation to port.

Obsidian Hierarchy Brute: Opening fire with port weapons. Pulse laser turrets firing on all targets.

Barrabus: No...focus all firepower on a single cruiser. Target the closest cruiser and fire.

There were more weapon impacts to the shields of the Devotion.

Obsidian Hierarchy Brute: Target acquired.

the Devotion fired a full barrage from its Pulse Laser Turrets and directed all output onto a single cruiser. One of the cruisers took heavy damage from the pulse laser barrage, losing its shields and suffering severe hull damage. The Cruiser began to drift as it broke from formation and drifted away from the battle group.

Obsidian Hierarchy Brute: One enemy target has been disabled. They have sustained heavy damage.

The Elite battle group fired another barrage at the Devotion.

Obsidian Hierarchy Brute: We have sustained a direct hit...our dorsal shields are beginning to buckle...

Barrabus: Rotate to attack arc to ventral...focus all fire on the next target of opportunity.

Obsidian Hierarchy Stalker: Commencing full rotation to ventral...

The Cruisers continued to fire at the Devotion, trying desperately to break through the shields.

Obsidian Hierarchy Brute: We have a target lock on the a second cruiser. Commencing full salvo...

The Devotion fired off a second barrage of pulse lasers, crippling another one of the cruisers.

It was at this point that the last three cruisers broke off from the assault carrier.

Obsidian Hierarchy Brute: Chieftain...the cruisers have broken off...they are fleeing the battle.

Barrabus: What about the Chariot of 30 Silver Tongues?

the Devotion was struck with a barrage of pulse lasers and plasma torpedoes.

Obsidian Hierarchy Brute: Still engaging us...it seems...

Barrabus: Target all weapons on the Chariot of 30 Silver Tongues.. Target priority should be on their shield systems.

Obsidian Hierarchy Brute: Targeting shield systems...

===============================================================
Chariot of 30 Silver Tongues - Main Bridge ===============================================================

Bael was in command of the Chariot of 30 Silver Tongues.

Bael: What is the status of our cruisers?

Elite Major: Two of our cruisers have been disabled.

Bael: Which ones?

Elite Major: The cruisers under the command of Shipmaster Jaero and Shipmaster Malak have been disabled. They are adrift...but salvageable...

Bael: What about our other cruisers?

Elite Major: They have broken formation...the Brutes have scattered them.

Bael: Send a message to our cruisers...tell them to go back to the Planet...and await further instructions.

Bael paused. He scoffed.

Bael: We will defeat these Brutes ourselves...they are second rate shipmasters...no match for an Elite on even terms...

Bael paused again. He looked at his tactical officer.

Bael: Target the Brute ship...fire all available plasma torpedoes...

The Chariot of 30 Silver Tongues changed its course and flew right at the Devotion, firing off all of its Plasma torpedoes as fast as the chambers could fire them.

The Torpedoes began to impact the ventral section of the Devotion, damaging the shields on that arc, and forcing the Devotion to break off from its attack pattern.

Elite Major: We have scored multiple direct hits...the Brute ship has broken off, they are altering course...and they have lost their weapons lock on us.

Bael: Lock on all pulse laser turrets...and fire at will.

Elite Major: Pulse lasers have been locked...firing...

The Chariot of 30 Silver Tongues fired another barrage of pulse lasers at the Devotion, this time impacting the aft section of the ship, once again doing critical damage to the shield systems.

Elite Major: Direct hit...the shield systems on enemy ship have begun to fail...their shields are beginning to fail.

Bael: What is our status?

Elite Major: We have sustained moderate damage...but our shields are holding strong.

Bael: Prepare to fire again...

===============================================================
the Devotion - Main Bridge ===============================================================

Obsidian Hierarchy Brute: Chieftain...we are unable to break through their shields.

Barrabus: It seems the Covenant has been equipping the Capital Ships belonging to the Elites with far more powerful defensive systems...

Obsidian Hierarchy Brute: We are losing shields...any further hits will collapse our shield array...we will be defenseless...

Barrabus: Move us away from the Elites...push the engines to max.

Obsidian Hierarchy Stalker: Engines at full...plotting escape trajectory.

Barrabus stood up and walked to the center of the bridge where the holotank was located. In the holotank was a holographic display of the solar system.

Obsidian Hierarchy Stalker: We are moving away, but the Elites are in pursuit, and they are gaining on us. They will be back in firing range in 28 seconds. Chieftain...we need a course of action immediately.

Barrabus winced. He looked at the holographic display of the solar system and saw that the Elites were getting closer. Barrabus then had an idea. He saw that the planet that was home to the Forerunner installation had several moons, and one of them was almost in the direct flight path of the Devotion.

Barrabus: Adjust out heading 19 degrees to port...

Obsidian Hierarchy Stalker: That heading will put us on a near collision with one of the moons...

Barrabus: A near collision...yes. I want you to slingshot us around the moon...and turn us around. Take us right at the Elites.

Obsidian Hierarchy Stalker: Chieftain?


Barrabus: Do it!

Obsidian Hierarchy Stalker: Yes...adjusting heading now...

Barrabus looked at the Brute who was manning the ships weapons.

Barrabus: I want all weapons ready to fire. As soon as we are in optimal firing arc of the Elites...fire everything we have. Hopefully, we will be able to break through their defenses...and perhaps scathe them with a near collision...

the Devotion flew directly at the planet's moon and began to slingshot around it. The Devotion, using the slingshot effect around the moon, accelerated right at the Chariot of 30 Silver Tongues.

Barrabus: Open fire!

The Devotion began to fire its full complement of plasma torpedoes and pulse lasers at the Chariot of 30 Silver Tongues. This massive barrage of weaponry cause the shields on the Chariot of 30 Silver Tongues to become momentarily disrupted. The Chariot of 30 Silver Tongues attempted to break off and move out of the Devotion's current path, but the velocity of the Devotion proved too much.

This resulted in a collision between the two ships. The port side of the main launch bay of the Devotion impacted right along the starboard side of forward section of the Chariot of 30 Silver Tongues. The end result was a massive hull breach on the Chariot of 30 Silver Tongues, running from the bow of the ship, right to where the forward section of the ship meets the main launch bay.

The Chariot of 30 Silver Tongues took heavy damage as a result of this collision.

Obsidian Hierarchy Brute: Chieftain...we have sustained heavy damage to our main launch bay. The collision has also caused damage to our power systems...we have instabilities in two of our reactors...

Barrabus: Noted...

Barrabus paused.

Barrabus: Prepare all aft weapons...as soon as we have the ability...fire everything we have!

Obsidian Hierarchy Brute: But Chieftain...if we fire...that reactor could overload and cause serious collateral damage.

Barrabus: Understood! Fire!

Obsidian Hierarchy Brute: Very well...we have target lock...firing...

The Devotion began to fire off the rear plasma torpedoes and pulse lasers at the Chariot of 30 Silver Tongues. Each torpedo landed a direct hull impact. With each impact, the Hull of the Chariot of 30 Silver Tongues was ripped open.

The Devotion did not fare well by this attack either. One of the damaged reactors went critical, resulting in an internal explosion in the ship. This resulted in heavy damage to both the engines and shield system. The resulting explosion fried the shield systems on the Devotion and destroyed one of the three main engines.

Obsidian Hierarchy Brute: We have lost our shields...the entire array has been destroyed...

Barrabus: Status of enemy ship?

Obsidian Hierarchy Brute: They have taken heavy damage. They are having difficulty reassembling their shields. They have multiple hull breaches on their vessel...but they are coming about in an attack formation. They are trying to establish a firing lock on us.

Barrabus: Let's not give them the chance. Bring us back around...fire everything we have...first opportunity. Target any exposed system.

Obsidian Hierarchy Stalker: Bringing us back around...

===============================================================
Chariot of 30 Silver Tongues - Main Bridge ===============================================================

Bael slammed his fist on the arm rest of his chair.

Bael: How is this possible!? How are we having any difficulty with a Brute!?

Elite Major: Shipmaster...the mongrels are making another offensive run at us!

Bael: Well...we will make an offensive run at them! From what I can see...they have no shields. We still have them out gunned.

Bael paused.

Bael: Target their main weapon systems...whatever we have left...throw it at the Brutes. We are not going to stand down...and we are not going to fall back. These Brutes are about to find out just how much perseverance a battle-hardened Elite has.

Bael paused again.

Bael: Bring us about...establish a counter-movement firing pattern. Counter their advances with distance...do not let them get close If they get too close, they will try another suicide run.

Elite Minor: We have an attack pattern locked in...

Bael: Fire!

The Chariot of 30 Silver Tongues and the Devotion continued to exchange fire. Both ships were throwing everything they had at each other.

Elite Major: Shipmaster...we have multiple hull fractures along the superstructure...we have hull breaches forming. We have sustained heavy damage...we cannot take much more of this!

Bael: We won't have too! the Brute ship is far more damaged than we are. A few more well placed shots will bring them to a halt!

Bael was about to give to order to resume firing, but the Chariot of 30 Silver Tongues was hit by another barrage. This last barrage crippled the Chariot of 30 Silver Tongues, and the entire ship was dead in the water.

Elite Major: Shipmaster...we have taken heavy damage. We have lost weapons and engines. We are adrift...

Bael: Do what you must to get those systems back online!

===============================================================
the Devotion - Main Bridge ===============================================================

Barrabus stood near the holotank, looking at the blinking indicator that was the Chariot of 30 Silver Tongues. He stared right at the Chariot of 30 Silver Tongues.

Obsidian Hierarchy Brute: Chieftain...why do we delay? We have the power to destroy them...here and now!

Barrabus: I have an idea...begin transmitting...I wish to speak to the Elite...

Obsidian Hierarchy Brute: Yes Chieftain...transmission established...

There was a paused.

Obsidian Hierarchy Brute: Channel open...audio only.

Barrabus took a breath.

Barrabus: Elite vessel...this is Chieftain Barrabus...I will willing to hear your surrender...

Barrabus said this with a smirk.

Barrabus then listened to Bael's words over the comm.

Bael: Mongrel...you will never get the satisfaction of hearing me surrender to YOU...

Barrabus: A shame. Are you so proud that you would rather die than preserve your own life with two difficult words?

Bael: I would rather die...

Barrabus: Very well...Elite...

Barrabus looked at his tactical officer and nodded.

The Devotion fired one more barrage of plasma torpedoes.

As the torpedoes hit the Chariot of 30 Silver Tongues, the communications channel began to muffle.

Bael: Mongrel...I will be avenged...do not count this as a victory...

The sounds of explosions could be heard over the comm, as the Chariot of 30 Silver Tongues was ripped apart by the plasma torpedoes.

As the last torpedo hit, the Chariot of 30 Silver Tongues broke into several pieces and began to explode as the charred remains of the ship drifted off into different directions. What was left of the ship was burning in space.

Obsidian Hierarchy Brute: For what it is worth...enemy ship has been destroyed. No life signs detected. There are still three smaller cruisers on sensors...but they are too far away to be a threat.

Barrabus: Keep an eye on those Cruisers. Only engage them if absolutely necessary. This ship is not in the best condition...and another confrontation would be ill-advised.

Barrabus sighed.

Barrabus: Round two begins now. Inform all designated ground troops to meet me in the hanger bay.

Barrabus turned and walked to the exit of the bridge, grabbing his hammer was he left. Barrabus walked down the damaged corridors of his ship as he made his way to the hanger bay.

Upon arriving in the hanger bay, Barrabus was met by Brutus, Dancar, and a legion of Obsidian Hierarchy Brutes. Some of the Brutes were Stalkers, while others were in typical combat armor.

Dancar: Barrabus...very impressive. You outmatched an Elite battle group! Elites are considered formidable strategic opponents...not to mention their superior ships...

Barrabus: I was just better...always have been, always will be..

Brutus: Arrogant, hard-headed, and ruthlessly cunning...you are a perfect example of what every Brute should be. Our defeat of an Elite battle group is a great victory.

Barrabus: There is no victory yet Brutus. Quinn is still on the planet...surrounded by his minions...and his constructs.

Brutus: Speaking of which...I believe I have an effective course of action against Quinn.

Barrabus: An attack plan?

Brutus: Exactly.

Barrabus nodded.

Barrabus: Let's hear it.

Brutus reach to his side and pulled out a small Holodrone. He activated and the small drone began to levitate as it lit up. The drone flashed as it displayed a map of the area surrounding the installation.

the holographic map had several red markers indicating defensive placements.

Brutus: Now...before I get into any details...it should be noted that Quinn has established heavy anti-air and anti-armor defenses around this installation. He is prepared for almost anything we can throw at him.

Barrabus: Well...then what's the plan?

Brutus: Like I said...almost anything...

Barrabus was silent as he waited for Brutus to continue.

Brutus: This ship is equipped with Scarabs.

Barrabus: You want to deploy all of my Scarabs...and just punch through his defenses...

Brutus: That is the first part...yes.

Dancar: There will be three phases to this assault. Even with the Scarabs...they are going to use the heavy plasma turrets to try and bring them down. It is possible that the Scarabs would sustain too much damage before making their way to Quinn's fortification.

Brutus: The only region big enough to deploy all of the Scarabs is roughly 12 Km away from where Quinn is. He would be able to spot us, prepare his defenses, and be able to fire at us the moment we were within 3 Km. The Scarabs would need to be within 2 Km to be within effective firing range.

Dancar: Which is why we are going to deploy Stalkers. The Stalkers will go, under cloak, get behind enemy lines, and begin a preemptive strike against the anti-air defenses.

Brutus: After we offline roughly half of the heavy anti-air turrets, we are going to deploy a squadron of Banshees to attack the heavy plasma turrets.

Barrabus: Let me guess...by the time al this is done, the Scarabs will be able to walk in, almost unopposed, and lay siege to the installation.

Brutus: Exactly.

Barrabus: There is one weakness though...

Brutus: There is?

Barrabus: How many Elites are going to be there?

Brutus: Many...

Barrabus: And...how many of these constructs will Quinn have at his disposal?

Brutus: Many more...

Barrabus: Exactly...we are sending Brutes to die for an objective that, if ends in failure, cripples the rest of our attack plan...and we will have lost many good Brutes for nothing. I am not willing to risk that Brutus.

Brutus: There is no other alternative...

Barrabus: There is always an alternative Brutus. We just need to find it.

Brutus: Barrabus...we are going to lose Brutes either way...

Barrabus: I know this...but I would rather not lose more than I have to.

Barrabus paced around and began to think. He walked around the holographic map.

Brutus: Barrabus...with every minute we waste...Quinn further prepares for us. We cannot wait any longer.

Barrabus continued to pace around.

Brutus: There is no other way we can get down there.

Barrabus: Wrong.

Brutus: What do you mean?

Barrabus: Take another look at your map Brutus...you made one small oversight. Direct your attention to the front of the installation. If you remember...the LZ that was established...had a gravity elevator. All we need to do is establish position over the lift, and establish a link. We can simply jump right down.

Brutus: That will be dangerous.

Barrabus: Dangerous...but not a gamble. We will fight, and die, together. I would prefer this over sending a group of our brothers to die alone...and for no good reason.

Brutus: Very well Barrabus...the decision is yours.

Dancar: I will ensure that all of our ground forces are geared up and ready to go.

Dancar walked away. Brutus looked at Barrabus. They both exchanged a single look.

Brutus: I hope you are right Barrabus...

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

Quinn was pacing back and forth. He was furious.

Vanguard, Voro, and Xyrho watched Quinn pace back and forth.

Voro: Shipmaster...I am sure Bael did everything he could...

Quinn: Bael sucks! He was defeated by narrow minded animals.

Xyrho: Jaero and Malak must also suck then...

Quinn: Yes...they also suck! They were also defeated by a narrow minded animal!

Xyrho: From what I understand...they are still alive. They managed to abandon their ship with some survivors...

Voro: Rha still has a ship. We also have two other cruisers that could extract us if need be.

Quinn: What is that supposed to mean?

Voro: It means...that we should know when to quit Shipmaster. Brutes are not stupid, they are not as useless as you make them out to be. They are dangerous foes. We may be fighting a losing battle...

Quinn: Voro...normally I appreciate your tactical advice...but the day you advise me that I am unable to defeat a filthy, disgusting, narrow minded, primitive animal in battle...is the day I tell you to keep your advice to yourself!

Quinn shook his head.

Quinn: I don't care what it takes...kill these Brutes and bring me the Chieftain's head!

Quinn turned away.

Voro: Right away Shipmaster! It will be done!

Quinn turned back, and saw an Elite Minor running up to the group.

Elite Minor: Shipmaster!

Quinn rolled his eyes.

Quinn: What is it!?

Elite Minor: The Brutes are on their way...but...

Quinn: But what?

Elite Minor: Their assault carrier...it is in extreme low orbit...they are heading this way at tremendous speeds!

Quinn looked at Xyrho.

Xyrho: The gravity elevator! It is still operational!

Quinn: Shut it down! Do not allow the Brutes to establish a connection with it! They will be able to get past every single one of our defenses...and land right in the heart of this installation if we do not stop them!

Quinn was clearly irritated. He contacted the Elites that were guarding the gravity elevator via his comm system. One of the Elites responded.

Spec Op Elite: Shipmaster...what do you need?

Quinn: Listen to me very carefully...I don't care who does it, and I don't care how it is done...but someone shut that damn gravity elevator down! Now!

Spec Op Elite: Right away...

The Spec Op Elite fell silent.

Spec Op Elite: By the gods...

Quinn: What is it!?

Spec Op Elite: The Brute ship is right on top of us!

Quinn: Shut the elevator down!

A loud noise was heard over the comm. Quinn knew what the sound was. He knew that the gravity elevator had been activated and a lift had been established.

Spec Op Elite: The Brutes have established a lift...they are deploying ground soldiers!

Quinn rolled his eyes as he closed the comm. He looked at Voro.

Quinn: Voro...I want those Brutes dead...I want them dead now! Do it NOW!

Voro nodded. he turned and left the main chamber.

Xyrho stood by.

Xyrho: What would you need me to do?

Quinn: Be prepared to fight.

Xyrho: I will join the Spec Op Elites guarding this room. The Brutes will not get past us.

Xyrho then turned and walked away. Quinn was left alone with Vanguard.

Vanguard: You speak in a very disparaging tone about your adversaries.

Quinn: Brutes do not deserve respect.

Vanguard: Is this so? How is this tactic working for you thus far? At every point you have insulted their capabilities, their resolve, their intelligence, their ferocity...and they have thus far, gone unchecked and unstopped. I see arrogance in you...

Quinn: I am not interested in what you see in me. You are not here to tell me about myself.

Vanguard: A narrow vision. I have come to respect these...Brutes...they are worthy adversaries. It would be best not to underestimate them.

Quinn did not reply.

Vanguard; My creators died because they were of narrow vision. They were arrogant...believed they could not be beaten. A foe, many times their inferior, destroyed them...not through warfare, not through attrition, but through fear. My creators surrendered to their own fear. It was a fear brought on by the shattering of their arrogant belief that they were superior. They destroyed themselves because of this. Everything that they were...only lives on in machinery and relics of a lost era.

Vanguard hovered around Quinn.

Vanguard: My creators made many mistakes in their arrogance. In their arrogance, they allowed a deceptively inferior enemy to flourish to unmanageable numbers. Had they of believed that their enemy was truly a threat from the first moments...they might of survived. However, they did not, thus, they died.

Quinn: I am not your creators. Your creators are pathetic compared to me. Your creators surrendered when things got difficult. I will not surrender...I will be victorious.

Vanguard: You better be Quinn. If you are unable to defeat these so called...Brutes...they I will be forced to re-evaluate your claim that YOU are the superior race. You will no longer be superior if they defeat you.

Vanguard turned away. He hovered away.

Vanguard: I recommend you fight them as equals...you will fare better!

Quinn was silent, as he reflected on what Vanguard said.

===============================================================
the Devotion - Main Hanger Bay ===============================================================

Barrabus watched his Brutes jump down the gravity lift to the combat zone below.

Brutus: Once we secure the immediate area...we will inform you.

Barrabus: That won't be necessary. I'm going now.

Brutus: ON the first effort? Barrabus...are you insane!? This is when their defenses will be the strongest!

Barrabus: Brutus...I have never considered myself less expendable than the Brutes I command. I expect no less of myself than I do of the Brutes that I fight alongside with.

Barrabus walked past Brutus, right towards the opening in the floor of the hanger bay where the gravity lift was. Barrabus jumped into the gravity lift and he lowered down to the ground. Barrabus went down about 100 yards before his feet hit the ground. As he went down, he could see the fighting. Barrabus then looked up and saw the under belly of his ship. He could see the battle damage caused by the engagement with the Chariot of 30 Silver Tongues. Barrabus looked back down and pinned his eyes on the fighting.

The moment his feet touched the ground, Barrabus ran into battle.

There were already several dozen Brutes on the battle ground. They had taken up cover as they fired at the Elites.

Barrabus ran right passed his Brutes and jumped right into the enemy line, slamming his hammer into the ground, scattering several Elites.

Some of the Elites were disorientated by this impact.

Spec Op Elite: Kill the hammer wielding mongrel!

Barrabus turned his head to face the Elite that said this. Barrabus raised his hammer and struck the Elite that said this. The impact killed the Elite immediately. The Elite's body was flung to the side.

The Obsidian Hierarchy Brutes pushed forward, providing cover for Barrabus.

Obsidian Hierarchy Stalker: Push forward brothers!

Several of the Stalkers threw incendiary grenades, hitting a few of the Elites. Other Stalkers utilized Spikers and long range Covenant Carbines to lay down suppressive fire, and even kill some of the Elites staying at long range.

Voro watched from a distance as the Obsidian Hierarchy Brutes pushed forward. Voro knew that the Brutes were ruthlessly pushing forward and that he was not able to counter their sheer numbers with any tactic. He was left with only one option.

Voro: Fall back! We must regroup! Fall back into the installation!

Voro, and a dozen of the Spec Op Elites retreated into the main installation. A few of the Elite Major's and Minors were unable to retreat due to the amount of fire they were under. Voro knew he was going to be unable to help these Elites, so he utilized them as a distraction so the rest of his team could retreat back inside the installation. As Voro and his Spec Ops entered the installation, they raised a shield wall to keep the Brutes out. This shield wall prevented the Brutes from pressing any further into the installation.

Barrabus charged a two Elites, a Minor and a Major. Barrabus slammed his shoulder into the Minor while running at full speed. The Minor was pushed backwards, landing on his stomach.

The Major looked at Barrabus and raised his Plasma File to strike Barrabus. The Major hit Barrabus across the face with the Plasma Rifle. Barrabus grunted as his head went to the side. However, Barrabus shrugged the hit off and head butted the Major. The Major fell to the ground. Barrabus raised his hammer and slammed the sledge into the Majors gut, killing him. After killing the Major, Barrabus walked over to the Minor, who was trying to get to his feet.

Barrabus slammed his foot on the Minor's back, pushing him back to the ground.

Barrabus: Did I say you could get up?

The Minor grunted.

One of the Obsidian Hierarchy Stalkers walked up to the shield that had been activated and punched it.

Obsidian Hierarchy Stalker: Chieftain...the Elites are cowering behind this barrier!

Barrabus looked at the Stalker.

Barrabus: Use the Plasma weapons...bring that barrier down!

Several Stalkers lined up, all armed with Brute Plasma Rifles. They took aim at the shield barrier and began to fire. The Plasma weaponry was having no effect on the shield barrier.

The Brutes overheated their plasma weapons trying to bring the barrier down. After letting the Plasma Rifles cool down, they tried again. The second effort was no different than the first.

Obsidian Hierarchy Stalker: This barrier is too powerful...our weapons are having no effect.

Barrabus: It is possible that this shield barrier has a tremendous power supply! Conventional weapons may be useless!

Barrabus looked down at the Minor on the ground. He lifted his foot, stepped to the side, and kicked the Minor in the ribs. The force of the kick flipped the Minor onto his back.

Barrabus looked down at the Minor. The Minor tried to reach for his side arm, but Barrabus stomped down on the Minor's gut.

Barrabus: Keep your hands away from your weapons if you know what is good for you.

The Minor was breathing heavily.

Barrabus: I want to know EVERYTHING that Quinn is planning...

Elite Minor: Quinn...Quinn is loyal to the Covenant...you killed the Minister of Abbadon!

Barrabus looked confused.

Barrabus: I did no such thing...I tried to save him from Quinn.

Elite Minor: Quinn told us everything. He told us how you assassinated the Minister of Abbadon...how the Minister's last will and testament was for us to maintain control of this installation and protect it from your retched kind...

Barrabus winced.

Brutus and Dancar, seeing Barrabus, walked up behind him. They heard everything that the Minor had said.

Brutus: Barrabus...it seems Quinn has framed you for the Murder of the Minister of Abbadon. He has lied to these Elites. They are following Quinn because they think they are out to avenge the Minister.

Dancar: Why would Quinn lie to his own Elites?

Brutus: Quinn did not believe he could convince all of these Elites to follow him on his true intentions.

Barrabus: So he lied...and he deceived them all...so he could control them.

Barrabus shook his head.

Barrabus: I always knew Quinn was charismatic...but a lie of this magnitude...against his own kind. That is repulsive. As an Elite...he spoke of honor...but what honor is there in mass deception?

The Minor looked up at Barrabus.

Elite Minor: What is it that you are saying Brute? Quinn...lid to us? Why would he do this?

Barrabus looked at the Elite Minor.

Barrabus: Shut up...I'm talking...

Barrabus looked back at Brutus and Dancar.

Barrabus: Most of these Elites are under deception. They do not know Quinn's true intentions...

Dancar: Who cares? I say we kill all these Elites. I am not going to start pitying them for being stupid and gullible.

Brutus: I agree with Dancar. No Elite deserves mercy!

Barrabus paused. He then looked down at the Elite Minor.

Barrabus: Listen to me very carefully Elite, for I will only ask this once; how many Elites does Quinn have under his authority?

Elite Minor: He commands many...three battalions of Elites call him Shipmaster...

Dancar: 3000 Thousand Elites...

Elite Minor: You forget...many were killed in the engagement over the planet. Two battalions were lost when the Chariot of 30 Silver Tongues was destroyed. What is left of the last battalion is divided between this location, and the remaining three cruisers in orbit. Very few survived the two cruisers that were heavily damaged. Our numbers in this installation fall below 400...

Dancar: 2 to 1 odds...

Barrabus nodded.

Barrabus lifted his foot of the Elite Minor's chest.

Barrabus looked at the Minor.

Barrabus: Elite...I am left with two choices as to what to do with you. I can either bring you back to the Covenant to be judged for your crimes here today, resulting in your to a public execution that will be devoid of any dignity or respect; or I can give you the chance to die in battle against me...right here, right now. You will die with dignity, and self-respect. It is your choice.

the Elite Minor stood up and looked at Barrabus.

Elite Minor: I choose to die in Battle...I refuse to die the death of an honorless warrior...

Barrabus: Very well...

Barrabus raised his hand and motioned his fingers, telling the Elite to attack him.

The Elite Minor drew his energy dagger and ran at Barrabus. The Minor thrusted the energy dagger at Barrabus, but Barrabus moved to the side, dodging the attack. Barrabus punched the Minor in the side of the head. The Minor stumbled as he lost his balance.

Barrabus: Is that all you have?

The Minor steadied himself. He charged at Barrabus again. This time, Barrabus grabbed the Minor's arm and twisted it behind the Minor's back. The Minor roared in pain as Barrabus drew his own blade and slit the Minor's throat. The Minor fell to the ground, as he bled out.

Barrabus drew his Spiker and pointed it at the Minor's head.

The Minor turned over and looked up the barrel of the Spiker. The Minor muttered two final words.

Elite Minor: Thank...you...

Barrabus winced as he pulled the trigger, shooting the Minor in the head and killing him.

Barrabus holstered his Spiker.

Brutus chuckled as he mocked the Minor.

Brutus: Thanks for killing me and making look bad at the same time...

Barrabus looked at Brutus.

Barrabus: Brutus...in the end of the day...That Elite had more..."honor" than Quinn will ever have. That single Minor did not ask for mercy, but instead chose to accept death for what he did. In a way...I gave that Elite mercy. It was better that I killed him quickly, in battle, than let the Covenant torture him in a small cell for the rest of his days.

Dancar: Why would you show any type of compassion or concern for that Elite?

Barrabus: Because...That Elite was deceived by his leader, by Quinn. That Minor was mislead into doing something by a deceptive leader. Is it not true that you believe that many of our brothers are being deceived by the Hierarchs? Do our brothers just deserve to die...or should they be given a chance at some sort of redemption...the same chance I gave that Elite?

Brutus and Dancar were both silent.

Barrabus: Being a leader is more than just killing things, it more than just bossing others around, more than just reaping the rewards of being the biggest and the strongest. Being a leader means setting an example...leading by example. You two should start taking notes...learn something from me.

Barrabus walked away from the dead Minor. He walked towards the door that lead the installation. He saw the shield that was blocking the door.

Barrabus: We need a way passed this barrier...

Dancar: I may have an idea Barrabus...

Barrabus turned to face Dancar.

Dancar: It stands to reason that there may be another entrance into this Installation. I do not see it being feasible to have only once entrance.

Barrabus: Why do you say that?

Dancar: When I was coming down the gravity elevator...I saw what appeared to be another landing pad, an LZ similar to the one we are currently at. I believe that may be a viable point of ingress simply because the original survey team that found this installation was able to gain access to the interior without any assistance from a construct.

Barrabus: That is a good point. There may be multiple points of entry.

Dancar: Based on the distance between this LZ and the other I saw, and based on the size of this installation...I would say there are 4 different landing zones...one of them being the one we are currently at. We can make out way around The perimeter of this installation and gain access to the interior.

Barrabus: So...that means...three of us, three points of entry.

Brutus: This is the part where we split up, take a team, and all attack at the same time, from three separate directions?

Barrabus: Well played Brutus...and who says I need to be the Chieftain to figure this stuff out?

Brutus: For what it is worth...splitting up would prove to be an effective tactic. e can divide their attention...increase the chances of getting inside...and getting to Quinn.

Barrabus: Very well...there is consensus! We will split up into three teams. Brutus, Dancar...I want you two to each lead a team. I will lead the third. We will divide the soldiers equally.

Dancar: Understood Chieftain...

Barrabus: Our top priority will be the elimination of Quinn. We have no idea what the landscape inside will be, we have no idea what we are going to face. In every measurable sense...the Elites have the upper hand. They outnumber us, they know the terrain, and they have allies the likes of which we have never faced.

Barrabus paused.

Barrabus: None of that matters! Conflict and aggression flows in our blood...cowardice and fear flows in the blood of the Elites. These Elites know not what they face today...they have yet to bear witness to what The Obsidian Hierarchy is truly capable of.

All of the Brutes began to howl and roar, as if they were cheering.

Barrabus: I say with conviction...that if any Brute in my presence who has no stomach for the battle ahead...leave my sight, for such cowardice would weigh so heavy, it will have been better for that Brute to never of been born. But those who will stay...those who will spill their blood in the coming battle...we will be brothers from now to the end of all that is.

Barrabus paused.

Barrabus: I ask for not a single Brute more in the coming Battle. For the fewer there are of us...the greater the share of glory in our victory!

The Brutes howled again.

Barrabus: This coming battle will be one to live on. Our names will be that of legend...be that of reverence. Our names will be spoken by our offspring for generations to come. I say...that the Brutes who serve the Covenant...who sit on the home world...who do not reside in our company...will forever hold their manhood cheap because they were not here to witness this battle...to indulge in the victory.

The Brutes howled again. Their howl was thunderous. There was an unforgiving and merciless cry too the howl. It was filled with a bloodthirsty rage, filled with a conviction and readiness the likes of which Barrabus had never heard.

Barrabus: Go forth brothers! Ready yourselves...ready your blades...ready your weapons!

All of the brutes dispersed, as they sorted themselves into teams. Brutus was busy coordinating the organization of the Brutes.

Dancar approached Barrabus.

Dancar: That was...thrilling...

Barrabus: Nothing gets me pumped up for a fight like an exhilarating call to arms.

Dancar: You have earned every bit of respect you have Barrabus. These Brutes are going to follow you to death...

Barrabus: I will not lead them to death...but it is good to know.

Dancar: If we had any other leader...I would doubt the promised outcome of victory...but you have made it certain in your words alone.

Barrabus: What can I say. I am a natural born leader.

Barrabus paused.

Barrabus: You best get your team ready. I must do the same.

Dancar nodded.

Barrabus grabbed Dancar by the shoulders.

Barrabus: Hunt well...

Dancar: Hunt well...

Barrabus released Dancar. Dancar turned and walked away from Barrabus.

Barrabus took a deep breath. He exhaled and roared, getting himself battle ready.

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

Quinn, Voro, Xyrho, Jaero, and Malak were in the main chamber. Rha was also present, but he was using a holodrone to communicate from his ship in orbit.

Vanguard was hovering above Quinn. His eye was dimmed, as if he was busy elsewhere.

Quinn: I am surrounded by failure!

Voro: The Brutes hit us with vast numbers...and this took us by surprised. Now that we know they are here, we will be able to hold them back and wither their numbers!

Quinn: I am tired of hearing excuses! I want to see these Brutes dead, but it seems that none of you are able to get the job done!

Voro: Shipmaster...I assure you that we will eliminate these Brutes.

Quinn: You better eliminate these Brutes. The incompetence of those around me is jeopardizing the future of our race!

Xyrho: Quinn...I should inform you that I have been able to replicate construct to assist us in battle. Vanguard as provided me with blueprint to create many more of these "sentinel" constructs. We have 500 of them ready to be deployed.

Quinn: Let's hope they live up to expectations...let's hope they are not another lesson in failure.

All of the Elites sighed.

Jaero: The Brute has been too fortunate up until this point. Sooner or later he will make a mistake...and we will capitalize.

Malak: We have all the time we need to plan an offensive. I highly doubt the Brutes will be able to break the shield barrier protecting the entrance to this chamber.

Quinn: The very fact that we must hide behind a shield against a pack of Brutes is insulting! These Brutes should have been killed long before they had a chance to land on the surface!

Jaero: Our mistake was underestimating them...

Quinn: Underestimate them? These are small minded savages. There is no such thing as underestimating a stupid animal!

Voro: Quinn...

Quinn: My mistake...was trusting all of you to deal with the Brutes...when I should have done it myself! I overestimated all of you!

Xyrho: Quinn...

Quinn: Be silent...all of you!

Quinn paused.

Quinn: Let me make this clear. I want all of you to go and find these Brutes and kill them. If any of you return to me, telling me that they are gaining ground...I will kill you myself!

Jaero: Quinn...have you lost your mind!?

Quinn: Quite the opposite Jaero. You have done nothing but fail me at every opportunity. All of you have done nothing but fail me! You are an insult to everything that our race stands for!

The holographic construct of Rha scoffed as he stepped towards Quinn.

Rha: At least I have actually had the metal to face our enemy in combat. You have sat in your chamber, under the protection of your honor guards, giving orders, but never proving you have earned the right to give them! I, for one, am getting tired of it.

Quinn was silent.

Rha: I think a change in leadership is necessary! I don't think you are fit to lead us Quinn. You have been a useless leader!

Quinn winced.

Quinn: Vanguard!

Vanguard's eye lit up.

Vanguard: Speak...

Quinn: Shipmaster Rha believes I am no longer fit to lead...

Quinn paused.

Quinn: Bring him to me...now!

Vanguard's eye lit up even more. A bright flash illuminated the room. Vanguard had used the teleportation grid on the planet to snatch Rha right from his ship, and teleport him to the main chamber. The holodrone shut down as there was no longer someone transmitting on the other side.

Quinn walked up to Rha.

Without saying a word, Quinn drew both of his energy blades and stabbed Rha in the chest, impaling both lungs. Both of the blades pierced Rha's body. Quinn lifted Rha into the air and looked up at him.

Quinn: Not fit to lead...am I?

Rha was gasping for air.

Quinn: Where are your objections now Rha? I can't hear you? Why am I not fit to lead? Answer me Rha!

Quinn lifted Rha further up into the air.

Quinn: I asked you a question Rha!

Quinn roared as he then thrusted his arms forward, and Rha's body separated from the blades. Rha fell to the ground. Rha was trying to breath, but the injury to his lungs prevented him from being able to breathe. Rha was slowly suffocating on the ground.

Quinn looked back at the other Elites.

Quinn: Is anyone else ready to question my leadership? I would rather not have to draw my blades a second time...

All of the Elites were silent.

Quinn: Good...very good.

Quinn sighed as he retracted his blades and put them at his side.

Vanguard's eye lit up again.

Vanguard: Quinn...we have a problem...

Quinn: What is it now?

Vanguard: The Brutes have entered the installation through the alternate points of ingress. The installation has been compromised from entry point 2, 3, and 4. Internal sensors detect as many as 188 Brutes now in the installation.

Xyrho: How did they gain access? It was my understanding that the technology in this installation only responded to either Forerunners...or us.

Vanguard: This is true...but only for security doors. Automated doors are not protected. I assumed you knew this. Your initial survey teams gained access through automated doors...namely...

Vanguard turned to face the door that was being protected by the shield.

Vanguard: That door...right there...

Quinn: Of course...

Quinn shook his head.

Quinn: No matter...we will counter them. Vanguard...I want you to use the teleportation grid and start teleporting my Elites right to the Brutes.

Vanguard: This can be done!

Quinn: Good. Now, before anything is done...Vanguard...I want you to tell me which entry point has been compromised by The Brute Chieftain...

Vanguard: Entry point 3...

Quinn nodded. He looked at Malak.

Quinn: Malak...you will be teleported to entry point 2.

Quinn looked at Jaero.

Quinn: Jaero...entry point 4.

Quinn looked up at Vanguard.

Quinn: And finally...I want you to bring the Brute Chieftain here...

All of the Elites look at Quinn.

Voro: What would be the point of that?

Voro: I plan on ending this once and for all. That Chieftain is going to be the first one to die! I want to see how tough that Chieftain is when he faces insurmountable odds!

Quinn paused.

Quinn: Voro, Xyrho...you will remain here. Along with the honor guards in this room...we will slaughter that Chieftain and break the resolve of the Brutes! They will rue the day they crossed us!

As Quinn was talking, groups of Elites were being teleported out of the room by Vanguard.

Quinn: As soon as the last of the Elite are deployed...we are going to bring the Chieftain here. Be ready!

Vanguard: Understood...

Quinn looked at Xyrho and Voro, giving them a visual order to give him some privacy.

Xyrho and walked off, leaving QUinn alone with Vanguard.

Quinn: Vanguard...there is one other thing. If this plan backfires...and that Chieftain manages to subdue all of my subordinates, we will need a contingency plan. What I am proposing is that you teleport me onto the Brute Ship...so I can steal it. I will need a new Assault Carrier, and theirs will do nicely.

Vanguard: What about The Chieftain?

Quinn: Once I teleport away...I want you to finish off the Chieftain. As much as I know I could do it...my skills will be needed to capture the Brute Assault Carrier. I am sure you could destroy the Brute in quick order.

Vanguard: Why must I destroy your enemy?

Quinn: Because...that is the purpose I have given you. You said you wanted purpose, you wanted a direction...you now have it. You wanted someone to tell you what to destroy and what to defend...I am that someone. You will carry out what I desire. I want the Chieftain destroyed...

Vanguard was silent. His eye dimmed. He took a moment to respond.

Vanguard: Very well. If you are in need of a teleportation...simply call upon me...

Vanguard then teleported himself away.

===============================================================
Construct Assembly Line Security Bravo - Entry Point 3
===============================================================

Barrabus walked through a door, entering the installation. His team had secured the area.

Barrabus: Move forward.

The Brutes nodded and began to move through the corridors. Barrabus followed with his Spikers in hand.

Barrabus stopped when he heard Brutus speak through an open comm. Line.

Brutus: Barrabus…we have gained access to the installation. We are moving in now.

Barrabus responded to Brutus over the comm.

Barrabus: Understood Brutus…keep your eyes open…these Elites will no doubt be waiting for us. Do not let them get the jump on you.

Barrabus then heard Dancar over the comm.

Dancar: My team and I have just entered the installation. We are moving forward.

Barrabus: Understood Dancar…

Barrabus kept moving with his Brutes.

Dancar: It is unusually quiet…one would think they would have patrols guarding this area.

Barrabus spoke to both Dancar and Brutus over the comm.

Barrabus: Agreed…we have yet to encounter any resistance.

Barrabus then heard gunfire over the comm.

Brutus: Speak for yourselves. We now have enemy engagement.

Barrabus could hear Brutus snarl over the comm.

Brutus: These damn Elites came out of nowhere…I could not even smell them!

Dancar: Confirmed…we now have enemy contacts as well! Elites…lots of them!

Barrabus could hear the sound of Plasma Rifles and Brute weapons being fired over the comm.

Dancar: Barrabus…I suggest you keep moving towards Quinn. It looks as if we are dealing with the brunt of their forces. Be cautious…to think they Quinn does not oppose your advancement is concerning!

Barrabus: I will keep that in mind.

Barrabus started to hear static over the comm. He was getting a lot of interference.

Barrabus: Damn it…

The comm line cut out. There was only silence over the comm channel.

Barrabus: Must be interference…

Barrasbus’ train of thought was interrupted by a plasma bolt being fired in his direction.

Barrabus jumped into cover.

Barrabus: Elites! Ready weapons!

The Obsidian Hierarchy Brutes that Barrabus was with began to exchange fire with the Elites. Barrabus jumped out of cover and began to fire his Spikers at the Elites. Barrabus fired until his clips ran dry. He quickly holstered his Spikers and ran at the Elites, grabbing his hammer off of his back.

There were three Elites standing shoulder to shoulder, firing their Plasma Rifles at the Brutes. Barrabus ran right at these Elites and jumped in the air, ready to slam his hammer down. However, before Barrabus’ hammer hit the ground, he was enveloped by a bright light, and he was teleported away.

All of the Obsidian Hierarchy Brutes saw this and were stunned at what they just saw.

Obsidian Hierarchy Stalker: What happened to the Chieftain!?

Obsidian Hierarchy Captain: I don’t know…we can figure that out when we kill these Elites. Keep your attention on the Elites!

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

Vanguard had used the Teleportation gridf inside the facility to move Barrabus into the main chamber. A bright light filled the main chamber as Barrabus appeared. When Barrabus appeared, he fell to the ground, as he was teleported mid-jump. His vision was slightly blurry.

Barrabus’ vision began to clear as he pushed himself up to one knee. He looked around and saw he was surrounded by Elites. One of these Elites was Quinn.

Quinn: Chieftain Barrabus…my own perpetual annoyance. Welcome.

Barrabus got back to his feet as he snarled at Quinn.

Quinn: I see you have decided to shed what the Covenant has given you. You wear the colors of the Obsidian Hierarchy. I am not impressed.

Barrabus glared at Quinn.

Quinn: What’s the matter Chieftain…not feeling chatty?

Quinn scoffed.

Quinn: Very well…if you will not humor me…then I will simply kill you now.

Quinn nodded. The six honor guards around Barrabus each tossed their energy staves aside and began to draw, and activate, their energy blades, one by one.

Quinn, Voro, and Xyrho each drew a pair of energy blades. The trio activated their blades.

Voro: When we are done with you…a piece of you will adorn the bulkhead of every ship in the fleet.

Xyrho: It is not often I dirty my hands with a task such as this…but it will be a welcomed change of pace!

Barrabus looked around. He let out a growl.

Quinn: So primal...let's see how long that will keep you alive for...

Barrabus: So...you need to face me...9 against 1 to even stand a chance. This is either flattery, or your twisted way of telling me that you are simply inadequate. What's the matter Quinn...too afraid to face me alone? Do you really need to send these lackeys at me? Trying to tire me out? Let me tell you this Quinn...I don't tire easily.

Quinn scoffed. He looked at the other Elites and nodded. Quinn looked back at Barrabus.

Quinn: The first thing to go is your tongue...I will enjoy cutting it out!

The Honor Guards began to circle around Barrabus. They were looking for the perfect moment to strike.

Barrabus looked back and forth at each Elite. He readied himself to counter any advancement.

Two of the honor guards that were to Barrabus back charged at him, they had their blades raised to strike. Barrabus heard their footsteps and turned, swinging his hammer, and knocking both of them back.

The Honor Guards were knocked back, but they were not dead. They got back to their feet and charged at Barrabus again.

This time, the other four Honor guards charged from Barrabus' opposing sides.

Barrabus just ran forward and charged at the two Elites that he swatted away. However, instead of attacking the Elites, Barrabus just jumped right over them.

Barrabus then turned, and faced all six Elites.

Quinn: What are you waiting for!? Kill him!

The Honor Guards stepped forward, but Barrabus slammed his hammer down and the Honor Guards moved back, not wanting to get hit.

Barrabus snarled.

Barrabus: Come and get me!

Quinn: Get him you fools! You outnumber him! Kill that retched animal!

The Honor Guards charged forward, but Barrabus slammed his hammer down on the ground again, pushing them all back.

four of the Honor Guards stumbled and lost their balance. The other two quickly regained their composure.

One of the remaining two swung his blade and slashed at Barrabus. Barrabus pulled back, but he was slashed right in the arm.

Barrabus stumbled back and snarled. Barrabus instinctively charged forward and smashed his elbow right into the Honor Guards face, knocking him to the ground. In one fluent motion, Barrabus raised his hammer and slammed it down on the downed Honor Guard's chest, killing him.

Quinn shook his head in utter disgust.

Barrabus then looked at the other Honor Guard who was still on his feet. The Honor Guard ran at Barrabus. As the Honor Guard raised his blade to strike at Barrabus, Barrabus raised his foot and kicked the Honor Guard right in the gut.

The Honor Guard dropped his blade.

Barrabus took one hand off of his hammer and used it to pull out a combat knife from a sheath on his waist. Barrabus used the blade slash the Honor Guard's throat.

Blood sprayed the Honor Guard's throat as he fell to the ground. The Honor Guard was on his stomach, with his hands on his throat, moaning in agony. Barrabus looked down at the Injured Honor Guard and stomped on the back of the Honor Guard's head.

Quinn looked at Voro. He nodded.

Voro immediately jumped into action and ran right at Barrabus. Voro raised one of his blade, and kept the other at mid-height to counter any offensive move made by Barrabus. Voro jumped over the four injured Honor Guards and took a slash right at Barrabus.

Barrabus raised his Gravity hammer and blocked the slash in mid air. However, Voro used his second blade to swipe at Barrabus' torso. Barrabus was force to jump back, but he felt the tips of the energy blade scrape against his armor.

Voro wasted no time in attacking Barrabus again. Voro charged at Barrabus and readied his blades. Barrabus readied his hammer to counter, but Voro instead jumped and kicked Barrabus right in the chest. Barrabus stumbled back. Voro followed up with a kick to Barrabus' side.

Barrabus howled in pain, dropping his hammer. Barrabus fell to one knee. He wrapped his left arm around his side, and used his right arm to prop himself up off the ground. Barrabus' right hand was firmly on the ground.

Quinn took notice of this. He saw how Barrabus had been taken down with a single blow to his sides. Quinn knew he would have to take advantage of this.

Voro: What's the matter Chieftain...not feeling so great? Are you finally getting tired?

Barrabus snarled.

Voro laughed as he walked towards Barrabus, ready to deliver the killing blow. As Voro raised his blade, Barrabus looked up and saw what Voro was about to do. Barrabus regained his composure. Barrabus lifted his right hand from off the ground, clenched his fist, and drove it right into Voro's stomach.

Voro dropped one of his blades, as he got the wind knock out of him.

Barrabus pulled his hand back and then drove his fist into Voro's gut again, this time knocking Voro back.

One of the last four Honor Guards got back to his feet and charged at Barrabus just as Voro had been taken down. Barrabus saw Voro's blade on the ground next to him. Barrabus grabbed the blade in his right hand and promptly got back to his feet and, in a flash, drove the blade right into the gut of the Honor Guard that was charging at him.

Barrabus pulled the blade out, stepped back, and slashed the Honor Guard's throat.

Barrabus looked at Quinn. Barrabus' breathing was visible.

Barrabus: Whenever you're ready coward...I'm right here.

Barrabus heard two more Honor Guards get back to this feet. They had their energy blades in hand and they moved towards Barrabus.

Barrabus looked at the Honor Guards and roared at them. One of them stopped. The other roared back and ran at Barrabus. The Honor Guard that ran at Barrabus raised his blade to slash at Barrabus, but used the energy blade that he had to block the Honor Guard's blade. Barrabus then slammed his elbow into the Honor Guard's gut, then then moved his elbow up and slammed the Honor Guard n the chin. The Honor Guard fell back and hit the ground.

Barrabus walked over to the downed Honor Guard and jammed the energy blade right into his chest. THe downed Honor Guard roared.

The other Honor Guard backed away from Barrabus. Barrabus glared at this Honor Guard and slowly walked towards him.

The Honor Guard that barrabus was staring at raised his blade into a defensive stance.

Quinn: Get him you coward! Do not let that animal intimidate you!

The Honor Guard kept backing up. Barrabus then charged at the Honor Guard and slashed at the Elite with the energy blade. The Honor Guard blocked Barrabus' attack, and kicked Barrabus back. Barrabus snarled as he was kicked in the midsection again.

Once more, Quinn took notice of this.

Barrabus shook his head to shake the pain off.

Barrabus then charged at the Honor Guard again, but this time, went low with the blade, and jammed it right into the Elite's pelvic area. Barrabus pushed the Honor Guard back towards the wall, and impaled the blade right through the Honor Guard and pinned him to the wall.

Barrabus let go of the blade and stepped back. He clenched his fist and then punched the Honor Guard across the face with a left hook, followed by a right hook.

Barrabus then spat on the Honor Guard in an act of insult. Barrabus paused, laughed, and then pulled his right arm back, and hit the Honor Guard as hard as he could in the face. The impact of Barrabus' fist killed the Honor Guard.

Quinn winced at this display. He was in total shock that his Elites were proving ineffective at stopping Barrabus.

Quinn looked at Xyrho and nodded.

Xyrho looked back at Quinn.

Xyrho: I just watched a bunch of Elites get beaten down...at almost the same time...and you are sending me in there alone?

Quinn: Either he kills you or I do...

Barrabus looked at Quinn and Xyrho. Barrabus pointed at Xyrho.

Barrabus: This one has a brain...he knows a losing fight when he sees one. Why don't you come and get me yourself Quinn?

Quinn looked at Barrabus and winced.

Quinn: When I am good and ready...

Barrabus snarled.

Quinn looked back at Xyrho.

Quinn: Go!

Xyrho: No! I have had it with you Quinn...I see now that there is something terribly wrong with you. I see now that you don't care about your fellow Elites...all you care about is yourself! This entire charade wasn't intended to give us power...it was intended to give YOU power...over us! I realize that now. The way you throw our lives away at hopeless causes...

Quinn: You traitor...

Xyrho: No...I was a traitor when I was helping you...now I am just trying to redeem myself!

Quinn: I should of known you did not have the resolve needed to carry out what needed to be done. You are too young...naive...incapable of understanding. I let my need for your skills blind me to the obvious...

Barrabus began to laugh.

Barrabus: What is the matter Quinn...

Barrabus paused when he heard footsteps behind him. He turned and saw the last Honor Guard behind him. Barrabus drove his fist into the Honor Guard's face and snapped his neck back.

Barrabus then turned back to Quinn.

Barrabus: As I was saying...is your little scheme falling apart? Can you no longer keep order in the ranks?

Barrabus looked at Xyrho.

Barrabus: If you know what is good for you Major...step aside...

Barrabus pointed at Quinn.

Barrabus: And let me tear this traitor a new hole to...you get the idea...

Xyrho looked at Quinn and then looked at Barrabus. Xyrho deactivated his energy blades and stepped aside.

Xyrho: He is all yours Chieftain...

Barrabus grinned. Barrabus stepped forward and walked towards Quinn. As Barrabus walked, he tossed the energy blade aside, and knelt down to pick up his Gravity Hammer.

Quinn began to back up.

Quinn: Alright Chieftain...if you want to kill me...you will have to find me first.

Barrabus ran at Quinn. Barrabus snarled as he ran.

Quinn: Vanguard!

A bright yellow light enveloped Quinn and he vanished.

Barrabus stopped and looked around.

Barrabus: Coward...

Xyrho looked at Barrabus.

Xyrho: Quinn is using the teleportation grid...it allows him to move around this installation instantaneously...

Barrabus rolled his eyes.

Barrabus: Where did he go!?

Xyrho: I don't know...but I may be able to find out! I may be able to reproduce the exact coordinates he used to teleport you.

Barrabus was very suspicious of this. Xyrho walked away. He walked into the room where the forge was. He walked up to the control terminal and accessed the interface.

Barrabus: Can you not just...recall him?

Xyrho: I could...if I knew his exact position. Chances are, that the moment he completed his transition, he moved. This Forerunner slipspace translocation is fundamentally identical to our slipspace travel. When I teleport something, I am wrapping an area in a slipspace field and I send it away to a short-range set of coordinates. If that area has an Elite, or a Brute, a Hunter, or even a vehicle inside of it, then the slipspace field will essentially move that area to a new location. I just can't grab Quinn...I need to grab the area around him, that area would include Quinn!

Barrabus gave a half nod and a half-shrug. He understood most, but not all, of what Xyrho was saying.

Xyrho: We do not have much time. At any moment, I will lose control of all this equipment.

Barrabus: Why?

Xyrho: Vanguard is the one giving us the ability to use this equipment. The moment he disallows our access...is the moment I can no longer track Quinn. I need to hurry!

Xyrho began working away at the Forerunner computer terminal.

Barrabus: Why are you helping me?

Xyrho: Would you believe me if I told you?

Barrabus: I doubt it...

Xyrho: Well...I will have you know that Quinn, as far as I am concerned now, has nothing redeemable to him. You saw how he sent all those Elites to their deaths.

Barrabus: I cannot say that I feel any remorse for killing them...

Xyrho: Of course not...I don't expect you to feel any remorse for killing...anything. However, those Elites deserved it. They were not smart enough to call it quits when it became clear that Quinn had his own agenda.

Barrabus: What is Quinn's agenda?

Xyrho: Quinn wanted to put himself on the level of the gods...

Barrabus: That's...

Xyrho: Arrogant?

Barrabus: Unrealistic...

Xyrho: Either way...Quinn promised this power to all Elites...that is how he got the loyalty of some of the Elites here, and even that took a lot of work. Quinn, in his final moments, made it clear that he did not care for the Elites as much as he let on...he did not care about those he served with...he did not care about our future. He was no different than the Hierarchs. Quinn only cared about his future. The way he sent us to die...they methods he used...he wielded the weapons of treachery, deceit, callousness...he was a master of those arts! Those were not of our kind...his mind was simply twisted.

Barrabus: He sounds no different than the Hierarchs; I see now that they only care about you when you are obedient...

Xyrho shrugged.

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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.

Naked Crook is offline  


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