Rise of the Covenant

Started by Mako, July 14, 2010, 09:48:40 PM

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Eaite Randjam

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Fasu was getting his buttons pressed well, and the major knew it.  Rtas whispered to the Ultra.

"Do not let this vile demon insult you.  You had me bring him to you for information, did you not?"

Fasu growled because he knew his Major was right.  He decided to take out his anger on the spartan by knocking Duma to the floor again.  "Why did you come back to the planet!?"  The ultra pushed the prisoner's head against the floor.  "Answer me!"

Just then, the battlenet crackled to life.  "Ultra 'Kasamee, this is Paruto 'Vadamee."

Fasu relinquished his vice on Duma's head.  "This is Fasu, go ahead."

"Your patrols are relieved and you are to bring your prisoner back to the ship with you."

Fasu, was dumbstruck momentarily, but regained his senses.  "Understood.  I am on my way."  He picked the spartan up off the floor roughly and spoke to him in english.  "This is either your lucky day, or a day you will regret."

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Duma Vadamee {Aungia Tsawkeyä}

    He smirked again, grabbing his helmet as he was roughly brought up by Fasu. "Most likely a Day I'll regret, considering my luck is worth s***. But hay, who knows?" He shrugged as he was being pushed up a flight of stairs towards the rooftop. "Maybe my luck will get better and I'll get another round with you someday. But I can wait."
OoC: If I have the cycle and units wrong just tell me.
OoC2: and if you want to know what Paruto looks like:
Not any armor known within the covenant, the "tank elite" armor was designed spasifically to go against experienced spartans. It has a gears of war feel to it, there was only a few made because of their slightly slower reflexes. They can still move really fast though.

Covenant Battleship Joyous Clarity, shuttle bay
72nd Cycle, 51 units

{0405 hours}

    Paruto 'Vadamee did not like how his day was going.
    It had started out fine. He had arrived within the safety of Joyous Claritys wall's an hour after The so-called Fasu descended towards the vermin's once prosperous planet to scout. If not for the high prophet himself, he would be within his keep, enjoying the warmth of his home and family. But one knew not to ignore a summons from a high prophet, no matter the condition your in.
    And the mission was simple enough as well. Given the honor of Ossoona by regret himself, he was told to watch and report the events unfolding around harvest. But most of all, Regret had a feeling that something more, a demon, would also be there and if so he was to report it to Regret once he inspected the creature himself. And, unfortunately, the high prophet was right.
    He could remember his words now: "These heretics are crafty, Shipmaster," Regret had said bitterly. "They create things from destroyed holy artifacts. Things that we would never of dared attempted. Destroying these relics, as well as everything else they have done, is heresy. They must be destroyed. But these Demons-they are also different. I want you to find one and bring it to me-alive. If we can understand the workings of these warriors, we can end this blasted war much more quickly."
    "As you command, holy one," he had said. But before he could see what punishments would be brought upon his question, he asked, "Does the other higherarchs know of your....planning?"
    Regret had looked thoughtful, then waved away his question. "No they do not. But if something does come up in your search that is worth knowing, then they will be notified. Speak of the reasons behind your probing to no one, Shipmaster. The less gossip that is spread is the better."
    He sighed. Now that he was waiting for Fasu's return with the demon, he coulddn't help but be happy and nervous. Humans had always interested him: a fact he would never admit to any warrior within the covenant, for it would surly end with his head on the floor. He had always wanted to just...he didn't know. talk maybe? But the war was screwing with his desires, so the best he could do was wait.
    And patience has rewarded him. he will be able to speak to a demon, a much more interesting subject. But he couldn't stop being nervous about it as well. Demons were human, but...not. half human and half something else. He had always wondered what would of made them different from the rest of their kind.
    And now his questions could be answered, thanks to Fasu's discovery. He reminded himself to remember to thank the Ultra for helping speeding up his search. But it would have to wait until they arrived with his prize....

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Eaite Randjam

Spirit Dropship, En-route to Joyous Clarity
Ninth Age of Reclamation
72nd Cycle, 53 Cycles

{0417 hours}

One third of his entire patrol.  That was how many the heretics had defeated in the span of about 30 units.  Disgraceful.

Fasu 'Kasamee glanced over toward Ustaf 'Santomee who appeared worn.  The patrol may have been rough, but they found where the infestation was hiding.  Fasu was still upset that most of his best warriors were extinguished by this... demon.  Duma sat restrained between the two ultras, both with energy sword hilts in hand if the human were to try anything.

The dropship approached the Joyous Clarity as the battleship's plasma turrets shadowed the Spirit's movements.  Signals were exchanged between the two before the Spirit was cleared to land in the shuttle bay where Paruto awaited.

As the dropship docked the side hatches fell open, revealing the hulk of a Sangheili named Paruto 'Vadamee

"If I were you, I would begin praying for mercy," Fasu snorted at the demon.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _


0430 Hours
Refugee Camp

An odd looking man had emerged from the sewers about a half an hour, dragging Duma's two squad mates behind him. Chris knew that something was wrong, because Duma himself wasn't with them, but the report would have to wait. Evacuating a thousand refugees in the middle of a Covenant controlled city was to be no small task. They had gotten the camp packed up relatively quickly, and everyone was milling around waiting on the word to move. Chris sought out Rajeed so they could get everyone moving.


0450 Hours
Gladsheim, City Center

It had been decided that they would move sections of one-hundred refugees at a time. Between the 6 of them they could handle dividing these groups into smaller squads. This would make managing the large civvie group much easier. Or so they thought.

One of Mark's Jackhammer rockets flew over Chris' head and detonated into the Wraith that they had encountered; and the one that Chris was currently dodging plasma mortars from. The purple vehicle exploded in a mixture of fire and plasma. "Thanks for that, mate." "Ah, not a problem," Mark said, a grin on his face as big as the sky. Chris signaled the refugees to break from cover. They were almost to evac site charlie. Kara and Ricky had taken a squad to evac site alpha, while Ryan and Jessica, the Spartans, had each taken a group to sites beta and delta.

Chris opened TEAMCOM. "Blue 1 and 2, what's your status?" Ryan's voice crackled across the comm, "I'm hearding the last of my group to the Pelican now." "Good. How about you, two?" "Same, but I've encountered some resistance. Neutralizing." As he got the last group to the Pelicans, he checked in with Kara. "Status, Onyx 2."

After a brief pause, the comm channel exploded. "We're pinned, need backup!" His TACMAP flashed once, opened, and showed Kara's NAV marker. "Hang tight, Kara, we're coming. All squads, Onyx 2 and 3 are in trouble. Our new objective is to provide them backup. Proceed with evac and then fallback to the marked position." They acknowledged and Chris turned and sprinted toward the site, the Pelicans lifting off behind him.


0500 Hours
Evac Site Alpha

The blast from the Fuel Rod Cannon threw Ricky into a wall 5 yards away. He slid down and collapsed in a heap. Chris grunted and flung a primed plasma grenade at the hunter that had taken the shot. The grenade adhered to the creature's un-armored side and detonated, blowing clean through the eel colony that made up the beast. It collapsed, dead, and it's partner roared in anger. But before it could take a shot, it was gunned down under the combined fire of Kara, Mark, and Jessica.

Ryan mopped up the fleeing Grunts, and Chris attended to Ricky. His left arm hung at an odd angle, broken. His breathing was ragged, but it didn't appear that he had sustained any internal injuries. He hefted the unconscious man and made his way toward the last Pelican. Admiral Cole stood waiting. "Welcome home son. You did a fantastic job." He helped lift Ricky aboard, then clasped Chris' hand and helped him in as well.

He sat next to the Spartans and took off his helmet. "I need a report, now. What happened to Blue 1?" Jessica adressed him. "He was captured, sir." Chris was surprised. "Captured? Where is he now?" "Last we saw, he was loaded into a Phantom and taken out-system. Other than that, we don't know." Chris noted the uncertainty in her voice. They cared for him more than they may have cared to admit. "Alright. We'll find him, I promise."

As the small craft reached a safe distance, Chris signaled Mark to detonate their surprise. A second sun appeared, but inside Harvest's atmosphere. It flashed white hot, the faded to orange, red, and finally disappeared. Whatever Covenant had been left were extinguished in hellfire. Chris nodded and turned his back to the ruined planet.


Duma Vadamee {Aungia Tsawkeyä}

October 8th
0417 hours
Covenant Battleship Joyous Clarity, shuttle bay

    "I don't believe in god like you do Fasu. I-whoa."
    The last part was directed at the huge...thing that stood before the dropship. Roughly 7'11 in height, This thing would of looked nothing like an elite if not for the body similarities of it's kind. And the armor was nothing he had ever seen before. Actually it looked like a new variant of droid that the UNSC had created, but he wasn't about to voice that in front of the elites, who were very sensitive of there pride. "walking tank" came to mind when Duma saw this Sangheili.
    As they exited the phantom, The hulking figure approached them with casualness in its body composure. "Fasu. It is good to see some of my brethren still alive. thank you for your assistance. I will make sure the High Prophet of Regret sees your dedication for the Covenant," he said in English. He moved his gaze to Duma, and it took all of the Spartans will power not to bolt from the elite. "You may hand the demon over now. We have a very long....discussion ahead of us," he added with sarcasm.
    Duma swallowed. maybe he should of taken Fasu's advise.

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Eaite Randjam

0500 Hours
Gladsheim City Center

The drilling crews had finished excavating into the heart of the former human underground encampment and had begun a full sweep.  Debris, waste, and a couple bodies from both sides were all that remained.  The elites, being very religious, sought out the bodies of the red elites who had been killed in the discovery of the resistance.  As the white elite in charge of excavation knelt over the one of the bodies he was puzzled at an odd sound coming from his fallen comrade.  In curiosity he turned the body over to discover a small hemispherical object attached to the soldier's gut.

The Elite saw a blinding light and felt a warmth consume him for an instant.  His Great Journey had come.

Joyous Clarity, shuttle bay
Ninth Age of Reclamation
72nd Cycle, 52 units

{0417 hours}

Fasu and Ustaf unharnessed the prisoner from his seat and unceremoniously pulled him out of the spirit and dropped him onto the deck in front of the Ossoona.  Fasu 'Kasamee looked down at his personal foe.

"You will soon wish I had silenced you at our first encounter," he sneered.  Fasu was glad to see the demon handed over for interrogation, but only regretted that he did not have the pleasure of killing him.

Ustaf layed a hand on Fasu's shoulder.  "Come now, brother.  I believe we deserve a warm meal after such as successful mission."

"Wait.  Paruto, would you like assistance in the demon's interrogation?" Fasu implored, trying to hide his desire for vengence.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Duma Vadamee {Aungia Tsawkeyä}

     The Shipmaster/Ossoona looked down at the subdued spartan before looking back at the Ultra. "No, my brother, I am confident in my own methods to know that I will get what I need from this creature. Thank you for the offer, all the same."
     He grabbed the Spartans wrists in a permanent lock-hold as he hefted the Humans weight up so he could stand. As Paruto turned to push the human deeper into the ship, he said over his shoulder, "May the gods bless your feast, Ultra Fasu 'Kasamee."
     The went through a set of doors and through twisting hallways towards Paruto's destination. He couldn't help but notice how weak and lifeless the once strong Duma used to be. He almost had to half push, half drag the creature. His face looked hollow, blank with emotion but the eyes showed loads of it: pain, guilt, sadness. He felt sorry for the human as every covenant soldier passing by sneered at the defeated soldier with disgust.
     When they reached the destination, he waved a hand over the center of the door, forcing it open and pushing the human inside. The room was similar to a 21st century human panic room; no windows, no doors but the one they came through, and half dimmed purplish light. it was fairly large, but Paruto didn't want to take chances. He closed the door with another wave and locked it before letting the Human free.
     He should of known it was an act. as soon as he let go of Duma's wrists, the creature grabbed his arm and was able to lift him of the ground a few feet and throw him opposite of the doorway. Paruto rolled and got to his feet with grace.
     "you should of took Fasu's advise," Duma said, dropping his helmet and crouched into a battle stance.
     "I am not here to hurt you human," He growled.
     "Yeah, like I'm going to believe that." He charged.
     Paruto blocked Duma's first strike to the gut, but was not fast enough to dodge the second. The blow was strong enough to tear off his helmet and send it a few feet from their position.
     He was slowly losing patience. He kicked the Spartans  leg out from under him and before he knew it, had him in a choke hold on the ground, Duma trying to pry Paruto's alien fingers from where they gripped him.
     "What are you waiting for, @$$hole?" he croaked. "Do it."
     "I am not hear to harm you. I wish only to talk, Demon."
     "What-(cough)-makes you think I'll believe that?"
     The elite paused to pick his words carefully before drawing his face closer to Duma's. "If I did not want to interrogate you, you would be dead by Fasu's hands already. I am the only reason you are still breathing."
     The human's face slightly relaxed, but the venom in his voice did not. "I will tell you nothing," he hissed.
     Paruto relaxed his grip and stood. Duma coughed again as he got back into a crouch, weakly. He would not be able to fight much longer in the condition he was in.
     "Fine. I will give you two options then. You can either talk to me." He pause to turn on his hologram from his wrist before saying, "Or you can talk to Him when he arrives."
     On the hologram was the High Prophet of Regret himself. The Higherarch looked tired and worn, darkened flesh under the eyes indicating that Regret had not gotten much sleep.
     The filmy fish-like eyes narrowed as they turned their attention to the Shipmaster. "This had better be good, Shipmaster. Why are you contacting me on the Prophets channel?" he asked, voice raspy.
     "Holy one," He said respectfully, "I have done as you have asked. I have captured One of the Demons you have predicted would be on the human world called Harvest."
     The Prophet turned his head to view Duma for the first time. "Demon. Your time will come, I assure you."
     "Yeah, nice to meet you too, b****."
     The prophet made a humh before turning his attention back to Paruto. "You have do well, Paruto 'Vadamee. You will be well rewarded for such a feat. Keep the vermin under watch, as I had told you before. I will arrive soon to bring rightful punishment among this heresy....Do not fail me, shipmaster."
     Paruto bowed his head in respect again. "By your will, I swear it."
     The image disappeared.
     It was quiet for a time before Duma straitened. With obvious restraint, he said in a normal tone, "What is it you exactly want to know?"

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Eaite Randjam

Joyous Clarity, Shuttle Bay

Fasu watched in silence as Paruto dragged the demon away for interrogation.  As soon as the doors hissed shut behind the two Fasu removed his helmet and clacked his mandibles.  "I would rather see him perish under my foot than have desecrate this ship with his presence."

"I believe you speak for all of us," Major Rtas said in passing, "however neither you nor I would challenge the authority of Paruto."

Fasu shrugged again, and headed toward for another door.  "Ustaf, I will be in my quarters if you need me.  I am not hungry."

Duma Vadamee {Aungia Tsawkeyä}

October 8th
0520 Hours
Joyous Clarity, interrogation room

     Paruto was probably the weirdest elite Duma had ever met in his short lifespan.
     The "interrogation" wasn't as bad as he thought it would be. In fact, it didn't even feel like a interrogation because of the weird questions the elite asked. "what is your greatest fear?" "Why are humans not dependent on honor like my species?" "What was it like being treated as you were as a child?" "How does one of your kind become promoted in your military system?" "Why do you have that attitude?" "What are your brothers-in-arms like?" "Does that armor you wear serve a specific purpose?"
     If he wasn't so intrigued by the Shipmaster, he would of probably yelled out in frustration with the questions the elite gave. Its not that he couldn't answer them-most if not all were not very important-it was just that they were very annoying. But he got something out of it; he learned who this creature was.
     Paruto wasn't much of a fighter. sure, he could defeat countless foes with only his energy blades, but he just didn't have the heart of a warrior...that is unless you pissed him off or cornered him. He was more curious on other subjects, so when he could he would try out for something else, but it always ended with a crash and burn. For example: technician; almost blew up an entire Supercarrior with a simple mistake in calculations. spec-ops; good warrior, bad instructor. Doctor; the elite had shuttered and told him it was best to leave it unsaid.
     So he had to stick to the ranks he was given and move on with his life. He quickly became Shipmaster for his casualties in combat, but he was never really....happy with what he had. It was an honor, but one he just really wasn't fond of. But what can he do when hes gets higher ranking or resent Ossoona status from the prophet himself? Say no? It was completely out of the question; The higherarchs would have his head, and his line would disappear from Vadam keeps populace and history, and he couldn't have that. So he sucked it up and dealt with it, like he was with Duma now.
     They had just finished up the interrogation when the shipmaster of Joyous Clarity had hailed them. "Ossoona Paruto."
     The elite clicked his mandibles together before responding. "Speak."
     "Another ship has entered our fleet, Ossoona. A supercarrior. It-"
     "-is the prophet of Regret. Good. call every major and ultra in this ship and contact them. Tell them to gather in your command center. We will soon have one of the holy ones aboard your ship."
     The shipmaster on the other line stuttered for a second before replying. "Yes Ossoona." The comm went silent.
     Paruto sighed. "That was quick."
     "You were expecting him to get here so fast?" Duma asked.
     "No, but apparently he had been waiting on the fringes of slip-space in case I did happen to come across you. He will be here shortly, maybe within an human 30 min."
     "Hes going to kill me." Duma didn't like how his words sounded.
     The elite looked at the human sadly. "Yes, but out of holiness. You should be awed that is he who will silence you and not one of the majors."
     Duma pondered this. He needed more time to get the chip into a port or something before he got himself killed. All he needed was a distraction....
     Suddenly an idea popped into his head. It was crazy, nearly impossible, and it could possibly get him court-marshaled, But if he could play his cards right it could just work. He grinned. "Then lets not keep him waiting then, huh?
     The elite looked confused at Duma's sudden happiness. Then he got a partial whiff of his thoughts. "You have a plan to not get killed, do you?"
     "I'm not about to tell you. Your the enemy."
     The elite sighed and grabbed Duma's wrists again. "Yes, I am. But not for now. Unless you attack the high prophet, I will not be intending to kill you."
     As they left the room, Duma muttered, "Thats not exactly what I had in mind...."

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Eaite Randjam

Personal Quarters of Ultra Fasu 'Kasamee
Ninth Age of Reclamation
72nd Cycle, 68 Units

{0529 hours}

Polished white armour shown dimly on its storage rack as the Ultra lay in thought.  The Sangheili stared up at the dimly lit ceiling, still awake after countless attempts to sleep.  He was still distressed about Duma.  He turned over on his side and tried to think of something, anything that would take his mind off of the human.  But it was no use.  He had part of his honor taken away from him by the spartan, and only his death would restore that.

A short tone caught Fasu's attention.  It was the Ship Master with a ship wide announcement.  "All Ultra and Major Domo Sangheili are to assemble at once in the Control Room for special instructions.  All Ultra and Major Domo Sangheili are to assemble at once in the Control Room for special instructions."

Fasu sat up.  "A suitable distraction,"  he quipped as he dressed and put his armour on.

Control Room
72nd Cycle, 73 Units

{~0553 Units}

The doors to the pinged and hissed open as Fasu and Ustaf approached and entered the control room of the Joyous Clarity.  The room was half filled and there was a buzz as the last of the ships complement filed in.

"Form up quickly!"  The booming voice of the Ship Master cut through the din from his perch on a centralized raised platform.  "I have an important announcement."  The din quickly faded as columns of warriors assembled, A row of Ultras in front and their Majors formed up in columns behind. 

"I have been notified of a high honor and blessing upon my ship.  We shall be hosting a visit from the High Prophet of Regret."  The words echoed around the room and was answered with silent awe.  "As such, your full cooperation will be required during his visit.  Our Ossoona will give you further instructions."

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _


UNSC Tharsis
O515 Hours

"UNSC Tharsis, this is Echo 712." The reply from the Tharsis' bridge crackled through the speakers. "Go ahead Echo 712." "Requesting permission to dock. I've got survivors and the Vice Admiral on board." There was a slight pause before the response came through. "Permission granted. Welcome home Echo 712."

The drop ship's thrusters fired as the craft arced to intercept  the Tharsis. Chris sat in the bay, surrounded by tired refugees. He was in a state of tense relaxation, for he knew though they had won the first battle on the ground, this was far from over. But despite his years of training, he needed rest. The other ODSTs and the two Spartans sat anxiously in other parts of the bay. They were on edge from being in close quarters with one another. He scanned over each one of them with experienced eyes, his gaze hidden behind his polarized visor.

The Spartans, Ryan and Jessica, sat next to each other on the floor, while Mark sat next to the incapacitated Ricky, SMG in hand. His finger was not quite on the trigger. His scrutinization of the weapon reminded him of his shattered rifle, in the sack next to him. He made a mental note to get it repaired. It was a good weapon. Saved the lives of him and his team countless times. He would hate to see it go to waste. Last of all, was Kara. She was slumped against Chris' right shoulder, asleep. The mission had been rough on her, and he was glad that she unconscious, no longer suffering and in completely lost from the world around her. Her armor had sustained minor damage, helmet visor cracked in some places from concussion damage, plasma scorches on the arms and back. Her and Ricky wouldn't be accompanying them until they were cleared by the med techs on board.

With that thought in mind, Chris opened a private comm channel with Ryan and Jessica. "You two did well, Spartans. Thanks for the help." Neither of them spoke, only glared in silence. "I'm down two men at the moment, how would you like to drop with Onyx team?" Ryan spoke what Chris knew the both of them were thinking. "Listen, Sarge, I don't mean any disrespect, but until Duma is found, I'm not doing anything for anyone." Chris was surprised. For all Spartans were trained, the UNSC couldn't get rid of their camaraderie. It was bordering on the likeness of a family and surpassed all protocol. "Alright. Sorry I asked."

About a half an hour later, the Pelican began to slow. Chris waited as the ship docked with the Tharsis. Gravity settled the ship and the hull groaned and pinged with stress. He heard the hiss of atmosphere as the bay pressurized. Chris stood, waking Kara as he did, and punched the hatch release. He took off his helmet as he turned to address the refugees. "Welcome to your home for the time being. Follow me and we will get you taken care of." The words sounded hollow in light of what these people had just endured, and he felt a pang of regret as they followed him into the bowels of the ship. The cargo holds had been re-arranged to accommodate human passengers, a makeshift barracks. But they weren't nearly suitable living conditions. It wasn't quite human.


UNSC Tharsis, Bridge

"Vice Admiral!" The urgent voice of the young officer at the Navigation console cut through the silence on the bridge. Chris had quite literally just finished giving his report. He followed Cole over to the station. "What is it Mullins?" The young man showed Cole the screen. A massive object had exited slipspace and was heading toward the Covenant Cruiser in orbit on the far side of the planet. "Profile matches with that of a Covenant Supercarrier." Vice Admiral Cole visibly blanched, though only for a second. But that was all that it took. In that split second, Chris became afraid.


UNSC Tharsis, Barracks
0540 Hours

Ryan was dozing slightly when he heard a beep in his ears. He opened his eyes to be confronted with a tactical map of the system. And on the map, very faintly, was the distress beacon of a Spartan.


UNCS Tharsis, Bridge
0605 Hours

Chris turned to Cole. "Do we have any backup?" Cole shook his head. "They're on the way in-system, but the bulk of the attack force isn't intended to arrive for another month. The plan was just to make a simple reconnaissance mission. We didn't expect this." Chris was about to speak again when Ryan burst onto the bridge. Cole spun at the sound of the Spartan rushing toward them. In fact, everyone on the bridge stopped what they were doing to watch the commotion. "Vice Admiral?" "Yes, son, what is it?" Cole was slightly bemused, there wasn't much that could get a Spartan this anxious. Ryan noticed, too, because he calmed himself somewhat before continuing. "Sir, I have reason to believe that my comrade is still alive."

Cole regarded Ryan, then, without turning, addressed Chris. "The one you detailed in your report?" "Yes sir." He nodded. "Indeed. Continue, Spartan. How did you come to know this?" Ryan continued excitedly. "Jessica, that is, Spartan-072, and I were cleaning our weapons, sir, when his distress beacon appeared on my tactical map. I can show you, sir." The Cole had become more interested. "Proceed." Ryan stepped over to Mullins' station and uploaded his tacmap to the system. The overlay appeared on the main system tactical map, aligned to the right position, and solidified. Sure enough, Duma's marker was there. Only it was dead center of the Covenant Cruiser in the shadow of the Covenant Supercarrier. Ryan took one look and let out a long swear. "We'll never get to him." The gears in Chris' mind began to turn. "Vice Admiral, how many HEVs do we have left on board?" Cole thought for a moment. "I believe we have three left, after the seven that dropped. Why?" Perfect. Chris thought. "I have a plan.


UNSC Tharsis, drop bay
0630 Hours

Cole had been critical of Chris' plan. He called it insane, told him it could get him court marshaled...and remarked that it was absolutely brilliant. The Tharsis was going to execute a slingshot orbit which passed straight over the Covenant Cruiser. As it approached, it would fire all weapons in an attempt to bring down the shields. Here's where it got risky. Chris and the two Spartans would then drop from the Tharsis and land on the Covenant craft. They would press inward, rendezvous with Duma. Beyond that, Chris was still planning, though Vice Admiral Cole had guaranteed that there would be another UNSC craft in-system within the hour to help with extraction. Chris fit his SMG and a shotgun into the slots on his HEV and waited on Cole's word.


Duma Vadamee {Aungia Tsawkeyä}

OoC: sorry it took so long to get this finished and thank you for your patience. I intend to use the control room from the ship in the level with the space combat in Halo: Reach for this post. Also Fasu (I like to call people by there characters) I will use rtas, but only to as a question and nothing more.

October 8th
0545 Hours
Joyous Clarity, control room

    "I'll give your Covenant credit. You guys know how to make a room spacey."
    They had just entered the control room via a side door. What greeted them was impressive, although Duma didn't admit it openly. Multiple consoles were placed in two rows, half to the left and half to the right. A hologram of Harvest shown at the back of the Control room. Bathing the room in a warm bluish glow. To the front was a much bigger console with a anti-gravity chair facing it, looking out to a half-domed glass frame showing the Covenant fleet in all its glory.
    Awaiting them was a group of Major and Ultra Elites, along with the shipmaster in the hover-chair. They all turned their heads the moment they came into view. He was able to immediately tell the one called Rtas and Fasu out from the rest of the group.
    "Hello ladies," he greeted with a smile.
    He felt Paruto's grip tighten on his wrists. "Silence," he whispered. "You are only making this worse for yourself."
    "I'm already dead Paruto. Why not enjoy myself?"
    "Ah, Ossoona," The shipmaster greeted Paruto, "It is good to see you well....is this...vermin the reason why we are gathered by your word?"
    "Yes. The High Prophet of Regret will be arriving to take this creatures life out of mercy. I wished for this group to experience it first hand."
    Whispers started to form around the group, but the shipmaster silenced them. "The Prophet's thinking is sound. Thank you for this information. Is there anything you wish of us to do?"
    "I want all Majors and Ultras to spread out across the center." He addressed the group, "Stay in a relaxed position, but within close enough range incase you are needed by our holiness.
    "Except you three," he said, pointing to Fasu, Rtas, and the other major who survived the Spartans onslaught. "I would like you to stay behind me for appearance reasons. Now go!"

{0553 hours}

    The Prophet of regret was surprisingly in a good mood, despite his lack of sleep.
    Arriving at Joyous Clarity had risin his hopes on the war by a tremendous margin. After hearing of the Demons arrival on the ship, He had immediately pushed his supercarrier into slip-space and risked over-exploding his anti-gravity generators just to get to Joyous Clarity's destination. Very little had made him act so rash in the past, although Truth would of greatly disproving of that fact. Still, He has not felt this happy since the changing of the new age, where he along with Mercy and Truth had become higherarchs.
    Floating through the door to the Command center, He was able to get a good glance of every detail within the room before he laid eyes on the reason he was here. His guards, 15 of them, had formed into a protective circle as soon as they had space, forming even closer in distaste of the Demons presence. They did not like the fact that the filthy heretic was within 30 feet and closing of the High Prophet, and he agreed. No matter. He toughened his will and floated closer to the Demon's destination.
    He gave Paruto a nodding of approval before saying raspally, "So this is the human who gave so much trouble to my ground forces. How...entertaining.

{0557 hours}

     "C***!," Duma whispered under his breath.
     The swear wasn't indicated towards the Approaching High Prophet. It was towards the homing beacon that faintly blinked on his datapad. Somehow he had accidentally pressed it and hadn't noticed it till recently. He swore because he knew his teammates - where ever they are - would receive it, and they would take it the wrong way.
     He had told then several times, wither he activated it or not on purpose, that it was never a distress signal. instead of "Help me!" it meant "get the hell away from me!" Now he would have to figure out how to keep them from attacking irrationally wile keeping it secret. Irrationally because if the Prophet was killed, it would only speed up the end date of the war...and the humans wouldn't be on the winning side. right now he had no idea.
    "So this is the human who gave so much trouble to my ground forces," Regret said mockingly. "How...entertaining."
    "I have done as you asked, high one," Paruto said, kneeling.
    "As I knew you would, my loyal Ossoona." The Prophet turned his attention back to Duma lazily. "Demon. I would say it is a honor, but it is more of a disgrace, being in your presence."
    "Not everyone can be picky....sir." The last word was grunted out of his teeth.
    "indeed," he agreed. "You stand helpless before me. does this not anger you?" He sneered.
    He glanced at the guards. If he didn't want to get stabbed, he would have to word his answer carefully. "One learns when to hide or show one's anger sir. I am not fearful of dieing."
    The prophet nodded. "But you should."
    "Fear is weakness."
    "True." he nodded again and started to turn. "We are done here. I wish of your report, Ossonna. After which you may do as you will with this heresy."
    Now was the time to invest his plan. "w-wait!" he cried in fake horror. "What if I made you a Deal to stop you from killing me?"
    The Prophet paused. Then turned and came even closer to Duma. When the guards tried to fallow, he waved them away. When he was only a foot away, he said in a dangerous calm tone, "And what, pray tell, could you possibly offer to me that I could want, human? You are weak and on your hast breath before me. You have nothing."
    "Not exactly. What if i told you that I can give you answers? Important answers that I can get from my own kind and give to you. Answers, info, that could end this war faster then you thought possible....I could do that for me, If you let me live."
    The Prophet pondered Duma's words for a moment. "You would betray your kind to help ours exterminate your entire race. Why? What is it that you wish in return to such a deal?"
    It took all of the Spartans will power to say the next words that would determine wither he lived or died. "I would wish to join your covenant."
    The room was stunned into silence. The Prophets jaw flung open in shock. Every elite in the command center was speechless for several seconds, and soon it made Duma uncomfortable. Even Paruto's grip completely fell as he was stunned but the human's words.
    Then the room went into an uproar of noise. Despite the Prophets presents, several of the ultras and majors threatened his life right on the spot. Only Fasu, Rtas, Regret, and Paruto were silent.
    The Prophet waved his hand to silence. "I will think of your offer human, but I will need to speak to my brethren about this. Paruto, you will assist me." He turned to his guards. "You will stay and guard this...human until I decide what to do."
    "High one?" The short one, Rtas, stepped forward. "I mean this in the highest respect, but are you actually considering the vermin's proposal?"
    The Prophet turned sharply to the major. "Are you questioning my desition??"
    If an elite could pale, he did.
    The Prophet did not wait for the major to apologize. He nodded to Paruto and turned around; leaving with the Ossoona and two guards he picked out to follow him.
    As the Prophets guards started to circle him, Duma hoped that he had made the right desition and bought himself some time.

Captain's corters
{0635 hours}

    "It will not happen!" Mercy screeched. "Entirely out of the question!"
    The hologram of Truth was silent as Mercy raged and Regret argued. "I did not know what to do!" Regret said. "The human made an offer to join us, betray everything he knows for reasons I cannot fathom. I need your advise on this."
    "This is not an open discussion. You did not tell us what you were doing, and that we will forgive you for because we see your reasoning, but this is beyond what we have agreed on," The much older Prophet sneered. "If we are to keep the our most vital secret under check, then you will kill the human. Nothing else will happ-."
    "I must disagree with your words, Mercy."
    The hologram of Mercy and the Real Regret turned to Truth In shock.
    "I do not like the claim the human has made any more than you two," Truth said calmly, folding his hands. "But I see an opportunity that you do not. We can use this human from exactly what he proposes. But as soon as he has overused his usefulness then we will silence him permanently....If he wishes to join us, then let him and the rest of our beloved covenant believe it. But first..." He turned to Regret and smiled. "If he truly wishes to join, then we shall test his patience. Make him swear his servitude to the Covenant and if he does not pause once, then He is speaking the truth."
    Regret raised an eyebrow. "And how does this determine that he is truly dedicated to the Covenant?"
    "If you truly wish to do something, then you do not pause to think about what you are doing. If he pauses, then it means he has lied. Then you may slay him."
    "But we will be watching," Mercy added. He didn't look happy at all about the outcome, but Truth had always been the one to make the final say. "We will know If you do this or you do not follow the final decision. If so happens then this partnership is over."
    Regret nodded. "So be it."
    Truth sighed. "Politics. How tiresome."
    All three Prophets nodded to this fact.
Command center
{0643 hours}

    Duma was starting to get a bit uncomfortable. He hadn't moved one inch since he entered the command center, and the stance was starting to irritate him. Not only that, the sneers and low growls directed at him from the honor guards was also starting to get annoying. He was pretty sure they didn't like being near him any better then he did. They kept there distance though, which was a good thing for Duma's nerves.
    In the middle of thinking of a plan on how to get out of there without getting himself killed and getting the chip planted, the Prophet of Regret returned through the doors he had left in. His two guards still followed him, but there was no sign of Paruto, which strangely depressed him.
    The Prophet grinned as he came close to the human, the guards making way for him. "It seems to be your lucky day, human. I have spoken to the other Prophets, and we have all agreed to your Preposition. We will allow you to join our beloved Covenant."
    The whispers that had been going around ended sharply. While they all felt shock, He felt shock and confusion. They had actually agreed to let him join? The plan was a million-in-one shot, but he never actually thought it would work. He was pretty sure the waves of hostility came the most from Fasu, but he was still stunned when the Prophet spoke again.
    The Prophet chanted, "You will swear allegiance in front of me, to the Covenant and To the High Prophets who lead this union among the path of the Great Journey, and those willing to fallow this path to righteousness....now kneel and repeat the words that had forged this mighty Force so you may one day walk this path yourself."
    The Prophet had lost him at "Great Journey" but he did not complain as he immediately landed on one knee before Regret. The Prophet spoke in the Native language of the Covenant and He did his best to repeat whatever the hell he was grunting and growling as fast as he could. All in all it took less then 10 min and when he was told to rise the stance of the guards and Regrets grimacing face relaxed, now that he was one of them. He wasn't sure if anyone else relaxed, but he was sure only him and Fasu did not.
    "You must understand, Human-what is it that you are called?"
    "Duma...High one."
    The prophet nodded. "You must understand, Duma, that The Covenant as a whole does not know of your....ascending, and will not know for several cycles. So it is best that you will stay unnoticed until we decide how to, as your kind says, 'break it to them'."
    He nodded. "That isn't surprising, considering how the elites reacted to my presence at first."
    Regret chuckled. "Indeed. Now, before you were included in our sacred pact and cleansed of your sins, what position did you hold in your human military?"
    "Petty officer second class, high one," He answered immediately. "It is lower ranked then captain, but higher then your majors or even Ultras. I am not sure..."
    "A sub-commander," Regret said surprisingly. "You must be very cherished in your race."
    Duma ginned and held his arms wide. "A am a demon, Higherarch. I am very hard to kill."
    "You are no longer a Demon, Sub-commander, that much is sure. But is unclear of me who would take you under their command."
    "I shall, Noble Higherarch."
    Duma almost jumped at Paruto's voice. He turned to see him do an elite equivalent of a smile. "Where the hell did you come from??"
    Regret ignored his outburst. "Ossoona, you wish for this human to be your sub-commander?"
    "Then take him. We have no more in common until I or the other Prophets decide otherwise." He turned is gaze back on Duma. "Remember what I have said, and may the gods bless your ascending into our holy Covenant. Now go." The Prophet turned to go and dissapeared with his honor guards in tow.
    Duma tried doing a noble bow and was confident that he pulled it off, even though Regret didn't see it. "Thank you, High Prophet, I will not disappoint you." And he followed Paruto out of the Command center, aware of Fasu's hateful glare following him.
    Once they were out of hearing range, Paruto said, "I have a gift for you, Sub-commander."
    He held up Duma's battered helmet, faceplate replaced.
    Duma grabbed it. "How did you fix it?"
    "That is not important. what is important is to get you off this ship and onto my own before anyone notices."
    "Right. But first we have a problem."
    He placed his newly fixed helmet on as he said, "My emergency beacon went off right before I had my little chat with the High Prophet. I need to contact my old team before they do something stupid like pull off a suicide mission to save me."
    Anger flashed in the elites eyes before dissolving into calm. "Then do so."
    "With pleasure." he opened a comm link and said, broadcasting a recording before shutting off his beacon and comms for good, "This is Spartan leader sierra-109 of Nova team broadcasting to Admiral Cole abord UNSC Tharsis. Do not, I repeat, do not engage the enemy. My beacon is being used as a decoy to draw in any weary UNSC ships out of defense formation. I am still on Harvest under captivity. Repeat, I am under captivity. Do not engage the enemy and do not come find me. I'll figure a way out. I always do."
    Once he finished the fake info on the recording and sent it, Paruto asked, "Who is this 'Cole'?"
    "Long story. One I don't want to talk about right now."
    The elite nodded.

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Eaite Randjam

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Ultra Fasu 'Kasamee had stood in silent disbelief as the High Prophet Regret inducted his very own bane into the ranks of the Covenant.  Now he could feel his blood boil as the entire congregation dispersed and the demon was lead off as some sort of hero would.  No matter how far the human ascended in the Covenant, Fasu would always see him for the demon that he was.

Ultra Ustaf 'Santomee turned to his companion.  "How odd is it for the High Prophets to make an exception to their own doctrine?  Is there something we do not know about Duma?"

"No, it is something that the High Prophets do not know.  I should have let him be executed."

"Surely you must see that it was a blessing to spare him.  The Prophets-"

"The Prophets will praise me once they know what I know.  Duma represents a glaring blemish on the honor of my family and myself, and for that he must be silenced," Duma snarled and walked away before Ustaf could rebuttal.  Duma entered the corridors of the large battleship where he had seen Paruto leave through.  He knew that anywhere Paruto was, Duma would be there as well.

Fasu pressed quickly through the winding corridors, stopping at intersections to let sight, sound, and smell guide him.  Soon he could see the small group that was assigned to Duma, which consisted of Paruto, Duma, and two of the Prophet's Honour Guardsmen.  To think that the demon should get protection from the Holy Honour Guard made him furious.

Fasu retrieved a plasma pistol from his side and overcharged it to a menacing green glow as he sprinted toward the group.  In a blur of motion one of the honour guardsmen was knocked to the ground out of the way, and Paruto shoved aside as Fasu plowed into Duma like an asteroid into a planet.  The two crashed to the ground, Fasu on top of the demon with his plasma pistol aimed directly at Duma's head.  Before the deed was done Fasu was knocked off Duma and shoved up against the wall by the remaining Honour Guardsman and Paruto.  The plasma pistol discharged, burning a hole clean through a lighting conduit and a 10m section of corridor to dim and flicker.

"Take him to the brig immediately!" Paruto barked.  The Honour Guardsman shoved Fasu's face into the wall and bound his wrists together before shoveling the Ultra away for confinement.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _


UNSC Tharsis, HEV drop bay
0645 Hours

Chris' comm channel flared to life with a his, Duma's message playing through the speakers in his helmet. He listened with growing anger by the second, and when the message had finished and started to repeat itself, Chris blocked Duma's comm channel. He was steaming, literally hot with rage. He took off his helmet, stepped out of his HEV, and flung the helmet across the room.

"The cocky b******!" Chris screamed. All respect that Chris had for the Spartan had vanished. He stormed to a communications panel on the wall and contacted Vice Admiral Cole on the bridge.

"What is is son?" Cole's voice crackled through the speaker. "Are you reading Duma's broadcast?" Chris inquired. There was a slight pause as he waited for a response. "Affirmative. Just finished playing it through." Chris detected no noticeable concern in Cole's voice, which further peeved him. "Well? What are we going to do?" Chris asked, exasperated. "We give him one hour, not a minute more. If we don't hear from him that he has escaped or otherwise, then we come in, guns blazing, exactly according to plan." Chris nodded, annoyed. "Copy that. One hour." "And I'll be d***** if he does," thought Chris.


Joyous Clarity
0650 Hours

Paruto noticed something about Duma's transmission, something slightly off, something that he had barely had time to hear, that betrayed the human's true intent. And thought he didn't betray it, it chilled him to the core. "I'll find a way out, I always do." These eight words had just blown all false pretenses about Duma's induction into the Covenant out of the water. He wasn't sincere about his pledge, and he had plans to betray them and escape. So, knowing this, Paruto made a slight change of plans of his own. The human had no knowledge of a Covenant ship's layout, so instead of heading to the armory, which at this point would undoubtably be a bad idea, Paruto would end up taking Duma to where they had just taken Fasu. To the brig, and ultimately, to the death he deserved.


Joyous Clarity
0730 Hours

It was a long walk from the command center to the brig, and Paruto wasn't going to hurry it for fear of betraying his intentions. He and Duma exchanged some trivial conversation along the way, but most of the trip was spent in silence. They entered the corridor that led to the brig, and it wasn't until this point that Duma realized what was happening. "Wha..." But before he could react, Paruto grabbed his wrists and forced him through the door. Paruto shoved him into the first empty cell on the right, and the door promptly slid shut with a hiss and a clank that resonated throughout the hall. Duma, now imprisoned, wheeled on Paruto, his eyes burning into the Elite's soul. But he kept his cool, remarking as he turned, "Next time you plan on betraying us, don't make yourself so obvious." And without a second thought, he turned and began to stride out of the hall.


Duma Vadamee {Aungia Tsawkeyä}

     Duma ran in one stride to the door to yell out to his new brother. "Paruto, wait!! I Don't understand. Why are you doing this?? I don't want to betray the covenant!!"
     The elite whirled at the mouth of the halls opening. "Of course you were! Do you think I am that stupid? That transmission was to fool us all! You do not wish to serve the Covenant. You wish to destroy it!"
     "No I don't! Paruto, please listen to me! That transmission was to save everyones life on this ship, not destroy it....I-I-your right, that was my intentional goal at first." When the elite looked like he was about to leave, he yelled lowder, "But not any more!! I swear to you, I want my race to die as much as you do!" He was despreate and was willing to do or say anything to keep his cover. So he took out the one thing that brought him here: the EMP chip.
     Paruto squinted at the square chip. "What is that?" he asked in a dangerous tone.
     With all the will power he could muster, and nearly failing, he placed the chip in the middle of his palm, closed his hand, and squeezed.
     The chip shattered to dust.
     I cant belive I just did that. "My original mission was to plant that chip you just saw me destroy in one of the consoles of this ship. it was suppose to destroy the shilds of all the covenant ships around withing a 100 mile radius so it would give Cole an advantage....but I see sence now. I realize who the true enemy is! Please, brother....dont do this to me."
     The elite was obviously conflicked with what he just saw. Duma took Paruto's advise: He would have to be a better lier, or just not plain say anything at all.
     Slowly, he walked back with carful steps to Duma's cell. "How do I know your not lieing, human?"
     "You dont, but let me prove myself." With one well-placed punch, he destroyed his datapad, destroying any signes of his position for good. "Please, brother, i know it is weak, but I am begging you. Dont do this. Please..."
     The elite studied studied the human's helmet for a long time, then he pressed an button that opened Duma's cell. "I do not know what compells me to do so, but even with the my confussed feelings towards you...that I trust you'r words."
     The spartan sighed in relife. "Thank you paruto. Your final judgment conforts me."
     "But I will be watching you, Sub-commander. Just because I trust your words does not mean i am not still suspisious."
     Paruto calling him sub-commander relaxed him further. "Of course. As you say....shipmaster."
     He shook his head. "I am your brother in arms, Duma. I fixed your helmet because I knew the Phrophets would spar you. I choose to take you in because I trust you. In a sense, I still do. Don't make me regret my mistakes."
     "I won't," He swore. within min they were gone of the brig, no longer hostile of each other, and were on a phantom speeding towards Paruto's ship, all worries put aside....for the moment.

OoC: next time something conflicks with the story, TELL ME, and i will deleate the post so we can discuss things further.

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Eaite Randjam

Joyous Clarity, Brig
0710 hours

Fasu sat on the floor of his cell, staring at the wall.  Contemplations of taking his own life ran through his head, that way he would spare some of his family's honor.  But for now he just sat, with nothing to show for his effort except for his bruises.

He lifted his head from hearing the door to the brig open and shut.  The shipmaster walked through the doors and conversed with a sentry.  The sentry nodded and pointed toward Fasu's cell, the next destination the shipmaster visited.

"Fasu 'Kasamee, you have been charged with heresy for the act you committed.  It is good to see you are still alive."

Fasu clacked his mandibles, a shrug.  "I have no honor left.  I have brought nothing besides shame for my family."

"If you have any plans of killing yourself, cancel them.  I am releasing you to your quarters.  As a soldier on my ship you are my responsibility.  You will remain in your quarters until the Ossoona and the human are off my ship.  Understood?"

"Yes shipmaster."

The shipmaster nodded toward the sentry and Fasu's cell was unlocked.  Fasu exhaled, then picked himself off the deck.

Duma Vadamee {Aungia Tsawkeyä}

OoC1: you forgot to do your time in cycles and units Fasu

OoC2: sorry I didn't post this to you chris, but Im not going to be anywhere near a computer tom, so I needed to put it up now so I wouldn't waste time. Thanks all for waiting.

October 8th
0742 Hours
Covenant Phantom, in-rout to Covenant battlecruiser Final Salvation

    It was dark within the Covenant Phantom, the only light a purplish hue dimmed from the crafts ceiling. No one was in the troop holding area but Paruto and Duma, held upright by anti-gravity shaped straps to keep them from being thrown around like rag dolls.
    It was silent most of the ride to Paruto's ship, partly because it was more separate from the fleet the other ships. Duma didn't try starting conversation, even though the elite was no longer hostile but friendly to him. He was to busy cringing at what he had done to get there. A faint voice at the back of his head reminded him of his mission, but he ignored it. John had always said that there was a point when a soldier knew when a mission was possible to finish or was just a bust. Duma on the other hand, he remembered John commenting, was known for crossing the line and sometimes taking it too far. Now he was probably in the deepest hellhole he's ever dug himself into, and he didn't know how to get out of it, much less finish what he started.
    Paruto interrupted his glum thoughts. "You have been very quiet, Sum-commander. Is something wrong?"
    Duma didn't answer at first. When he did, he sighed, "No Paruto, nothing is alright. It could be as far from alright as I can think."
    "....Do you wish to discuss this that troubles you?"
    He paused. "I just destroyed every tie to my kind in every possible way, Paruto. I knew what is right now....but I have family, brothers and sisters that I care for. How would you react if you betrayed everything you knew, huh?"
    Paruto was quiet for a min. when he spoke again, he said with care, "When I was young, my Uncle would take me to the shores of our keep to just talk, to take a break from the vigorous training he put me through. On one of these days, he had told me that I would soon be in the real training grounds, and that when I fought my way out I would be in the Covenant's military, and all the pretend fighting would be for real. He told me that eventually I would make a life changing choice, for better or for worse, and it would shape how I would fit into the fate of the great journey. I still believe these words, But that day has yet to come for me." He glanced at him. "You have already made yours, Duma. Remember this. It will not be easy, i assure you, but the gods have a plan for you, and good will come of it."
    Duma turned his head away in silence, thinking.
    "Who are these brother-in-arms you speak of?" the elite asked.
    "Isn't it obvious?" Duma shrugged. "The other demons. 2 in particular."
    Paruto stiffened, but said calmly, "They are your family?"
    He nodded. "There is over 300 of us, but Jess and Ryan....I dont think I could ever lift a hand to them."
    Paruto was about to speak something reassuring, but the pilot cut in through the comms. "Shipmaster," the minor elite said with respect over the comm.
    Paruto's head snapped in the direction of the Phantoms cockpit. "Speak."
    "We are drawing close to Final Salvation, Shipmaster."
    "Good. Inform me again when we have docked."
    The minor said, "Yes, Shipmaster," and the comms fell silent.
    Paruto turned his attention back to the human at his side. He tried to say something again, but the Physical stance of the Spartan-ll stopped him from saying much else. All the muscles in his body were tense, as if something was about to attack him. Paruto sighed and left His Sub-commander to his own thoughts.

0747 Hours
Final Salvation, Shuttle Bay

    Covenant ships were unlike anything Duma has seen in his military career.
    When the side-doors of the Phantom opened to let them out into the docking bay, again he had a sense of much-needed closed in space because everything in the Covenant was just the complete opposite of small. Similar to the one they had passed on Joyous Clarity, this seemed to be different not in the looks but the crew. There were many more elites here then there were in the Battleship. There were also alot of ell-like hovering creatures - engineers he now remembered - working on damaged craft and other mechanical objects. There were a good amount of grunts and Jackals, but the majority of Paruto's ship was elites. Duma was able to get a glance of a hunter pair patrolling the Bay as well.
    "Jeez, you have a lot of soldiers," he commented.
    "It is not the best part. You will see."
    When the crew of Final Salvation saw Duma and their Shipmaster, they froze. Several minor elites 4-hinged jaws fell open At least 30 grunts fled the area at Duma's presence, which made him smile, raising his hopes a little. Those hopes crashed when the Hunters thundered towards them.
    He immediately looked down at his chest and swore. He had completely forgotten that he was covered in hunter blood like "A giant neon sign," As Jess had commented. The hulking tanks on legs probably wanted to rip him to shreds more on killing there brethren and less on his presence.
    When they were five feet away, Shipmaster Paruto got in there way. "Halt, Mgalekgolo."
    They did stop, but there bodies did not stop reverberating.
    "I understand your reaction, but he - this human - is our new Sub-commander. You were told of this ahead of time, am I not correct?"
    "You are." Duma flinched at the hunters that actually spoke. he had no idea that they could. They sounded like bone grinding on metal, and it made him shiver. "But it is beyond a disgrace if he is allowed to live, Shipmaster."
    He thought he saw Paruto swallow, and he couldn't blame him.  Even with his advanced tank armor, there would be lettile he could do stop them If they came after the Human. "Then If you do this, then you will be deifying the Prophets, and that Punishment is by death. You know this."
    The Hunters stopped reverberating.
    "Exactly. I know you do not wish to deify the Prophets." he turned his gaze to the crew spread out around his shuttle bay, who had not heard of this news yet. "And this will apply to all of you. This human-" he jabbed a finger at Duma. "-is to not be touched in any way that is violent. The Prophets have blessed him into this Holy Covenant, and to kill him is to deify the gods. Am I understood?"
    All heads nodded. Wow, he thought, Paruto must really scare them to get that kind of reaction.
    "Now return to your work," he finished.
    Immediately they did as he said, but some could not help making another glance in the humans direction.
    "Come, Sub-commander." Duma fallowed him past the Hunters, who even without eyes seemed to be giving him a murderous glare.
    Once out of sight in one of the hallways, Duma hissed, "Did you not tell anyone of this??"
    "I did. Only a select of my Crew could take the info and not react with anger or another emotion that would surly have you dead on the ground. They are waiting for us in my command center, and they already know that You are my Sub-Commander, so do not worry that you will get the same reactions. For they have always trusted my judgment, which has always saved them numerous times beyond count." he glanced at him. "If they trust me, then they trust you."

0756 Hours
Final Salvation, Command center

    When they arrived, they were indeed waiting for them in a one-rowed line. The Command center was similar to Joyous Clarity's, but smaller. Duma hardly had his sights on the view, though, for it was fixed on the 20 or so selected elites, which held a mix of majors, Ultras, and Spec-Ops soldiers.
    And he couldn't help but be impressed by the selection of trusted elites.
    "Ah, my greatest warriors," Paruto teased. He said to Duma, "I have known several of these elites since early childhood. Others I've come across over the years. All work the specific jobs given are done by them in my Command center."
    One stepped out from the others in fluid motion. Despite what Paruto had told him, this one looked much older than any other he's seen. Wrinkles slightly sagged around the eyes and mouth, and he couldn't help but think: old guy.
    The older elite smiled at the two entries. "Paruto." He bowed his head respectively.
    "Uncle," he said, crossing the distance in one stride and gave a manly hug to the elder. "Did you make sure...?"
    "Yes I did." The elder moved from his grandson to regard Duma. "Human. I was told that you were blessed by our own higherarch into our Covenant. Am I not correct?"
    "Uh....Yeah. Your Paruto's uncle? No offence, but shouldn't you be ruling this ship instead of following orders?"
    The elder boomed a laugh, making Duma jump. The older elite seemed to act kind, but had an air of authority much stronger then his grandson encircled him. He knew right at that moment that he would never want to cross this elite, even if he was forced into it.
    The elder's laugh lowered to a chuckle, and Paruto explained, "My uncle is a superb leader, but he has a tendency to....act before he thinks."
    "Indeed this is true. If I did not have a tongue as sharp and clever as my skills, I would be surly dead right now. My name is Tako 'Vadamee, Youngling." (the "a" in "Tako" is pronounced like you say "a cat" not "Taco") IT – he – Held out a hand. Duma, a bit skittish and stunned, warily shook the elder's hand. The feel of the alien's strange-shaped hand against his own made him shiver. "I was betting that my nephew would spare your life as he did. It is an honor to call you his Sub-commander then demon."
    "Thank you, sir." His eyes flickered to the other 19 elites, and he whispered, "Are they alright with this?"
    Tako's face darkened. "I will not lie. Having you admitted into our Covenant is, for the moment, uncomfortable, worse for more than others. But we all trust Paruto, and we would never risk crossing him no matter what we thought or felt. But to answer your question, yes they are. If the gods have blessed you, then they cannot argue with the Prophets decision. But for now you should lay low, as you have been instructed, even among us. It shall release tension better."
    Duma nodded.
    "Only I or Paruto will guide you in these halls, for Paruto's crew fears my wrath possibly more then him." He managed to make the statement both serious and teasing.
    Paruto glared at Tako. "I honestly doubt that, uncle."
    "Doubt what you want Paruto, but I have much more of a....what does your kind call one with high status?"
    Duma thought for a min. "Uh....celebrity?"
    "Yes, I'm more of a celebrity than Paruto among the Covenants military and social gossip. Not even the Higherarchs select honor guard would not dare cross my wrath in any way."
    "Wow....what the hell did you do to get that status?"
    The older elite made an elite grin. "Lets just say things tend to go in my favor more so than not. Now you should go. Introducing you to the others would be standard procedure, but I do not wish to push your luck too far."
    Paruto Nodded. "I will show you your quarters, Duma. Then I will show you where we bath to rid of ourselves the filth that collects both on skin and armor. Come."
    With one last glance at Paruto's uncle, he followed him willingly out of the command center.

0815 Hours
Final Salvation, Bathing facilities

    Such a fricken long day, Duma sighed, letting the stream of hot water run down his neck to help loosen his stiff muscles.
    True to his word, Paruto had showed him his sleeping quarters, which were right next to the shipmasters. The room itself was an oddessy apong itself, for Duma had never even been in a slightly luxurious sleeping arrangement. He didn't even want to see the over-portioned bed and asked Paruto to take him to the showers.
    Showers was a bit of an understatement. The bathing rooms were even odder than his sleeping area, full of holograms of buttons and levers that he had no idea how to even start anything in it. Paruto took pleasure in his confusion, but after a few min he showed then how there alien equivalent of a shower worked and left to give the Spartan some privacy.
    Now his armor was shown a gleaming white, like snow, for some reason the way he cleaned the armor with the water somehow bleached all of its color out. it irritated him alittle, but the truth is he liked it white. It looked better. But he was skittish of the "shower" after that but sucked it up and went in it anyways.
    He sighed again and turned the water off. He only needed 10 min. He went over to his armor, which he set in an orderly pile, and started to pull on his armored boots.
    He had just finished placing all of the lower parts of his armor on and was starting for the torso when Tako came in. "Enjoying yourself, Sub-commander?"
    Bare chested, he straitened and said, "I didn't enjoy it, but it did make myself feel better thank you."
    "Everyone feels better when have been able to wash the sweat from their limbs," he agreed.
    "Why are you here? I thought Paruto was waiting for me outside."
    "He was called back to the bridge, and he wants you there immediately as well."
    He got a forarm piece of armor on before he said, "What happened?"
    "Your kind is what happened."
    The elder didn't hate him, but he didn't like the tone he said kind in.

0823 Hours
Final Salvation, Command center

    Duma and Tako rushed into the command center in record time, seeing all of the elites that had been there before at posts varied around the Command area. Paruto sat in a hovering Shipmasters chair in the center, watching grimly at the images on his command console.
    Duma strided to Paruto's side and said, "Whats going on?"
    Paruto, helmet off for the moment, glanced in his direction and took notice of Duma's new color arrangement, but didn't comment on it. "Do you know of this?"
    Duma looked at the screens. On it a second UNSC ship had appeared next to Coles ship.
    "When the hell did that happen??"
    "Half an hour ago. Again, do you-"
    "No, I dont. Cole never mentioned this." He ran a hand through his hair. "Have they made any move to attack?"
    "No," Tako answered, "But they have started to form into an attack formation."
    Duma swore. "What part of 'stay away' didn't they get?" he fumed before saying, "I have to stop this."
    Both elites were the only ones that heard him, and both looked at him like he grew a second head. "You still care for your kind?" Tako asked, voice lowering in a threatening manner.
    "Hell no, but Paruto....do you remember my comment about my brothers in arms, Jess and Ryan?"
    The Shipmaster thought about it, then his eyes widened at realization. "They are on one of those ships."
    "Exactly, and just as important as that, I have to keep my cover with the humans. If I don't show up eventually, they will think that either I'm still in captivity or that message I sent was something else entirely. I don't want bloodshed....at least, not yet."
    It was silent between the three. Then Tako was the first to speak, and surprisingly take his side. "He is right. If he is to gather information for the higherarchs, the best way to do so is with stealth. Not a very honorable position....but a noble one, all the less."
    Paruto nodded. "How do you propose we get you there? The humans will shoot at anything that is not part of there fleet."
    A idea popped into his head, and Duma slowly grinned. "I have an idea...."
    Paruto commented, "I am starting to hate that look and words you give."

0840 Hours
Final Salvation, emergency escape pad bay

    "You sure you wish to do this plan of yours?" Paruto asked, uneasy. "The pressure and speed the hold will shoot you out of-"
    "I think I can handle it, Paruto, my suit is built for that kind of c***."
    "This 'kind of c***' is far more dangerous than it would be normally."
    "Will you stop complaining? I'll be fine."
    The Shipmaster sighed as his Sub-commander climbed into an empty escape pod....without the pod itself where it should be. The plan was simple: shoot the spartan out like he is the escape pod and hope he hits the target. A million things could go wrong, but Duma was confident it would work.
    "Remember," Duma reminded, "I'm going to need someone in a Phantom to wait for me and pick me up when I come back....presuming I come back in one piece."
    "This is what worries me."
    "You worry too much."
    "And you do not. I have my reasons."
    "Will you just fricken close the doors already?"
    He sighed again and said, "Just do not get yourself killed, Sub-commander."
    He waved his hand over a pannal and the door closed. 15 seconds later, the human was shot into space at high speed towards Coles ship.
    Paruto held his breath. For the first few min, he heard nothing,vthen a crackle of static greeted him followed by: "d*****!" cough. "I-" cough. "That hurt."
    Paruto relaxed. "Are you in one piece?"
    "I told you not to-" Cough. "-worry so much."
    "Shipmaster!" another voice said.
    "There is a 2-in-an-half meter object propelling itself from our ship!"
    Paruto sighed in frustration. "It is only Duma. Do not fire at him."
    "It is....Duma?" A pause. "yes, Shipmaster." the addition left the comms channel.
    "What was that?" Duma asked.
    "Nothing. By your velocity you should be arriving at your Human ship within 20 min. Try not to plant yourself on its hull like a bug."
    "Cant promise anything."
    Paruto smiled.

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Duma Vadamee {Aungia Tsawkeyä}

October 8th
0846 Hours
UNSC Tharsis, Hangar bay

     Jess was miserable.
     When Ryan said that Duma was alive and well, she was stupid enough to allow the hope that he would come back. But after seeing where exactly he was, her hopes were dampened to near nothingness. Jess cared about her brother, her teammate, but even she knew there was no way he was getting off that ship.
     She also felt that Cole was an idiot for taking Chris's advice. She new very well that when Duma said "Stay away" it meant "Stay away or you'll all die." Of course they both wouldn't listen, but she knew that it was stupid to try and rescue their leader. They had 2 ships. the Covenant had a armada. It was suicide.
     She sighed and continued to clean her knife. Not much that she or Ry could do about it, once Cole made up his mind. All they had to do was-
     Thudding footsteps that could only be a spartan got closer to her position. She looked over to see Ry sprinting towards her.
     She stood instinctively. "What is it Ry?"
     "Its Duma, Jess. He's coming to us."
     unparalleled joy sprang into her head, but she kept her cool. "How do you even know that? Duma's beacon was destroyed shortly after-"
     Ryan took off his helmet and grinned. "You really think I'd let him get that far away from me? When he wasn't looking, I placed a tracker in his armor so I could find him when needed. It doesn't work over long stretches, but-"
     "He's getting close."
     He nodded. "I don't know how he did it, but that son of a b**** got away from the most impossible situation he's ever been in. Remind me to smack him when he gets back."
     "Should we tell Cole?"
     "That's where I was going after I told you."
      She grinned as well. "Then lets not waste any more time. Lets go."

Command Center
{0850 Hours}

     After a few min. of running through the tight corridors of the Tharsis,
they arrived at the Command Center. Cole was speaking quietly to a few officers when they arrived. Immediately noticing them, he quickly dismissed the officers and addressed them by saying, "Spartans. Is there something I'm needed for?"
     They both saluted. Ryan inquired quickly, "Permission to speak freely sir?"
     Cole paused. "Permission granted."
     "Sir, you can call off the rescue mission. We just found out that Duma is returning to us."
     Cole was silent for several seconds before nodding. "Are you sure of this?"
     "100% sure. We have coordinates on his position if you wish to see."
     "Do it." He pointed to a officer at his post. "Lieutenant, I'm releasing you of your post for the time being. Spartan, show us what you've got."
     The officer got up. Ryan quickly went to the control console and typed in Duma's position. Seconds later, a red blip showed up on the map of harvest's space grid. It was right in the middle of the Covenant fleet, but was making progress past the alien ships.
     Cole came up behind him, Jess fallowing. "By god, he's actually doing it." Cole whispered. "Why isn't he being shot at?"
     Ryan shook his head. "I don't know sir. But at the velocity he's going at, and the direction he's going, he should arrive at the hangar bay within 10 min."
     Cole sighed slowly. "Thank god. I wasn't sure if the rescue mission was going to go off without casualties."
     "Nothing. muttering to myself. Report back to the hangar immediately. Have a group of ODST's ready as well. I don't want any surprises if it turns out to be a decoy."
     "Yes, sir."
     "Alright people," he addressed the bridge. "Mission abort. The package is coming to us. Someone contact the other ship and tell them to not fire at our incoming visitor. And make sure our Hangar is open for business!"
     A stream of "Yes, sirs" answered him.

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Duma Vadamee {Aungia Tsawkeyä}

October 8th
0903 Hours
UNSC Tharsis, nearing Hangar bay

    Flying through space was actually much more peaceful then Duma had thought it would. He had come close to ramming into the side of several covenant ships hulls, but he always skimmed over there lengths by inches. other than the near 200 mile per hour collisions , Duma actually had so time to think on his way to the UNSC Tharsis.
    He sighed. unfortunately, during his day-dreaming, he had not come up with a way to explain to Cole about his situation without having the guys head bow off with anger. "mingling" with the enemy resulted in a court-martial and plausible death sentence. how to get him to understand that he wasn't "mingling" was beyond him.
    as he neared the open doors to the hanar bay, he groaned, "This is going to hurt..." See, without thrusters, there was no possible way for him to slow his trajectory without loosing a limb. he was going to have to ruff it up a bit.
    setting his armor's bio-foam to full lockdown, he curled into a ball seconds before he went into the bay and hit the opposite wall with a loud, jarring WUMP.
    Several seconds ticked by before he regained his sight from the pain, just in time to see the outside doors close. the pressure stabilized in the room, along with air and gravity, and he fell another 7 feet to the ground.
    "F***," he groaned, slowly uncurling from the tight ball. Everything hurt, his back more so then the rest. But by slowly moving all parts of his body did he then know that nothing was broken, although he was sure he was going to have a good set of bruises after this.
    Doors opened again, this time from the inside leading into the human ship. as he got to a kneeling position, he saw two dozen soldiers, ODSTs, and workinging crew file into the bay. the people who served on the battlefield had guns...pointed at him.
    He quickly on his feet, even though his body ached all over. "Who...is the leader of this battalion?"
    An ODST stepped forward. He looked to be in his mid forties, with an angular face and graying hair. His tone grim, the officer said, "I was ordered to have you brought back to Cole for de-briefing. You are to follow me and to hand over any and all weaponry to me. Understood?"
    "Yes...sir. Although I do not have any sort of weaponry on my at the moment." He straightened fully.
    "Then follow me, and quickly."

0908 Hours
Command Center

    As the spartan was escorted into the control room by the ODST's, he quickly surveyed the room: officers who were manning there stations were in a frenzy of work; Cole standing to the side, watching the Covenants positioned vessels; Nova Team 5 feet away, Jess standing so still and stiff he knew she was distressed, Ryan twirling a combat knife that made a few nearby officers edgy.
    Cole quickly noticed them and barked, "Everyone but my commanding Officers, leave the deck. Now."
    "Be careful," an ODST whispered, "Cole is in one of his moods." All the ODST's and several lower classed officers left with quiet mutters.
    Cole spent the next few min. Pacing in front of him, everyone's eyes following him. Finally he stopped in front of him and broke the silence. "I don't exactly know what happened down there. Maybe I will never know. But what I do know is that any of your special unit could of busted themselves out far faster than you achieved today...therefore, forgoing protocol procedures, I want you to answer every question I have to give. Understand?"
    He was confused, but he didn't voice that. "yes, sir."
    "Now why exactly were you down there, spartan?"
    "...I don't understand-"
    "The thing with the prisoner crap. I didn't buy it. What were you doing down there?"
    Duma was hoping to avoid this with less people present, but of course that wasn't to happen. He sighed. "Alright sir, but what I have to say must be reasoned with a clear head. Otherwise you'll be sending me out one of the air-locks. Can you do that, sir?"
    The ship-commander paused, then nodded. "Alright. I've got a feeling I'm not going to like this, but go ahead."
    "I joined the Covenant."
    Everyone, even his team, was beyond shock. That part he was expecting.
    Ryan pulling out a pistol and aiming for his head? Not so much.
    "Traitor!" his partner yelled, and then everything blew into insanity. Everyone started yelling and pointing at him, mostly in anger. Jess just stood there, still in shock from the way her body moved.
    "Enough!" Cole barked. Everyone fell into silence. "Spartan, you will lower your gun."
    "Sir, with all d-"
    "You will stand down or I will have you on court-martial. Am. I. Understood." Cole glared at Ry, daring him to disobey his order.
    It was another second before Ryan reluctantly lowered his gun, but he didn't put it back in it's holster.
    "Now," the commander chimed, "let me get this strait. Did I hear right when you said you joined the covenant?"
    "I had no choice, sir."
    "We all have choices, petty officer. For example, I could of chose to let your fellow spartan shoot you in the dome and not give a second's notice of it. But I didn't. Instead, Im going to let you explain yourself before I do change my mind and let your fellow spartan shoot you. Now, Why did you join them?"
    "Again, sir, I had no choice."
    "Your going to have to give us more detail, spartan," Cole said grimly.
    "I was captured by the covenant, but Instead of killing me they brought me before their high prophet to be interpreted."
    Duma heard whispers all around him. It was early in the war, but everyone knew that the covenant leaders, the prophets, were near impossible to get near. The fact that he was in front of one and lived awed some away from their recent anger.
    "And I was right," He continued. "They were going to kill me. but my original mission was still in effect, so I had to whatever it took to get out alive and complete my objective. So I took a desperate leap of faith and said that I hated humanity and wanted to join them. They doubted my words, but the prophet took them as truth and made me swore myself into their covenant. Once it was over...I was made sub-commander of one of the Covenants ships, particularly under an elite named Paruto 'Vadamee."
    "Is this elite of significant importance?"
    "Yes, sir. He suspected that my message to you was suspicious, but so far he has not forced his...opinion on me." He left out the part were he was almost left in jail to rot because of that suspicion. "So far he trusts my actions, but I have yet to know if that's going to last...."
    Cole was quiet for a moment before asking, "What the covenant want in return for your loyalty?"
    "Coordinates to worlds that our kind harbor on, but i intend to lie on it." He smiled. "Maybe I just might point them to the nearest sun. But lieing wont last forever sir, so eventually I will have to give them something if im not to blow my cover, no matter how small the info is."
    The older man nodded thoughtfully. "Do they suspect you-"
     "They think im here to suck up to you and make you believe that im still on your side will i try and steal intel from the ship. What they dont know is that ive told you what you know now and im actually acting as-"
     "A double agent." Cole rubbed his chin. "My god, either this is going to make you a traitor or a Guinness. I see why now you joined." He turned and strode to one of the screens. "With you in the inside, you could sabatosh their inner workings faster than we could do in years time."
    "That was the intention sir." Duma was a bit surprised that Cole understood his thinking. He thought he was going to have to spend the next 20 min. explaining his thought process.
    The seasoned veteran turned to study the spartan. "Duma, you must understand the dangers of this situation. Working for both sides will be difficult for you, no doubt....I won't court-martial you, only because I understand what your planning, but you will have to make decisions on your own. Once you go back in, you won't have any back-up, not even your team. Do you understand?"
    "I do, sir...and I take full responsibility for that decision."
    The captain smirked. "Good." he walked back to stand in front of Duma. "Then I officially give you your next mission, spartan. You are to return to your given ship and to lay low. Get a basic understanding on how the Covenant works on the inside, and when you can, steal any available intel that can help us in any way. Whatever you do, don't compromise your cover until I give the word."
    Duma shot out a brisk salute. "Sir, yes sir!" That was what Duma was planning on doing anyways.
    "When do you plan on returning, spartan?"
    Duma let his hand drop to his side. "I do not know sir, it depends. I will be under constant watch, not because im suspected of being a traitor, but because I will have guards around me. Until The Prophet announces my "acceptance" into there Covenant, he fears that any one of Paruto's crew will try and attack me, despite the warning that was broadcasted  to every Covenant ship in this system. So I am to be guarded until further notice."
    Cole nodded. "Very well then. When do you need to return?"
    "As soon as possible sir."
    "Then we will grab you a pelican to-"
    "With all do respect, sir," he interrupted, "that wont be possible, unless you want me to get blown out of space before I even get close to their ships. No, I'll have to hail one of Final Salvation's phantoms to come get me."
    "...Fine. Just make sure it comes under the radar for you. I'm sure, even under orders, my men will aim the turrets at your ride before they even enter our boundaries. Dismissed." The admiral turned to face the screens again.
    Duma saluted. "Sir, yes sir!" He turned briskly on his heel and headed out of the room, trying not to think to closely on how things could - and probably would - get ugly in the future. He gave one last glance at his team before the doors slid close on him.


    Cole sighed, rubbing his face to get rid of the mirth. He's seen a lot in his time as a military leader, but nothing topped what he just went through.
    He couldn't lie that he didn't hate what the spartan decided to do, but he understood. Something vaguely similar happened when he was a corporal, but he didn't want to think about it. Too many bad memories.
    He sighed, then turned back to what was left of his bridge crew and Nova team. "Well, that was...interesting.
    One of the Spartans, the male who had pointed his own pistol at his teammate, chimed confusedly, "Sir?"
    "Stowe it, Spartan. I know this is going to be hard for you two, being leaderless, but you will have to deal. I have another mission for your team."
    Ryan was stiff for a second before nodding. "Sir, what are your orders, sir?"
    "I saw the report on your previous mission on destroying the abandoned ONI site, and I must say I'm impressed. If that building had stayed, we would sure as hell have fire raining down on us if it got into covenant hands. And, after consideration from your teams previous successes, I've decided that a good, honest-to-god recon mission is needed." He turned to one of his intelligence officers. "Bring up the images."
    The man looked stunned for a moment before returning to his station and tapping a few keys.
    On the main screens came up a picture of the covenants spires.
    "While your team was on the ground, Serina, our ship-AI, was able to come into contact with a patch in the radio feeds. what we thought were signals coming from human activity was actually these spires. They act as broadcasting towers, sending any valuable intel to their fleet above."
    "Sir. I did not know we had an AI on board."
    Before Cole could answer, a nearby pedestal lit up and a hologram appeared. It showed a miniature woman with her arms crossed. She wore simple civilian clothing, a white blouse and black pants.
    "That is because," she said, "you weren't suppose to be informed, Ryan."
    "I was put in charge in charge of her until the Spirit of Fire is able to arrive and take her of my hands," Cole explained. "As for that intel, we don't know what they have."
    "There are 5 spires down in the remains of cities we will give the name of as your brought back in orbit," said Serina. Unfortunately I have no way of getting to this intel from my position here."
    "And that is where you two come in. Your mission is to bring Serina to these "spires" and implant her into their mainframes. After that you will escape with her and destroy the spire, moving on to the next one."
    "Are these spires shielded sir?" Ryan asked.
    "No. But that does not mean you shouldn't go in guns blazing. You are on your own, Nova team, so you are to go in silent and undetected. Have your weapons and supplies ready within the hour. Dismissed."
    "Sir, yes sir!" They saluted and left the bridge.

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UNSC Tharsis
0908 Hours

Chris absolutely refused to adknowledge Duma as he was escorted onto the bridge. He leaned against the wall and watched as the conversation between Cole and the Spartan took place, his disbelief growing with each exchange. So the fool had actually sided with the Covenant in an attempt to save his own life and the mission? It was beyond Chris how Duma could have even thought that this was a good plan, let alone seen it out. Ryan and Jess were visibly shaken. For them, this was the loss of not just a leader, but a brother. All the more shocking for them- and Chris- was Cole's approval of Duma's "resourcefullness".

"Duma, you must understand the danger of this situation. Working for both sides will be difficult for you, no doubt...."

Cole turned and faced the viewport, rubbing the back of his greying head.

"I won't court-martial you, but only because I understand what you're planning. You will have to make decisions on your own, once you go back in, you won't have any back-up. Not even your team. Do you understand?"

"I do, sir, and I take full responsibility for that decision."

"Good. Then I officially give you your next mission, Spartan. You are to return to your given ship and lay low. Get a basic understanding on how the Covenant works on the inside, and where and when you can, steal any available intel that can help us in any way. Whatever you do, don't compromise your cover until I give the word."

Duma shot out a brisk salute. "Sir, yes sir!"

The final preparations were made, and Duma exited for the escape pod bay. By launching an escape pod, Duma could safely be picked up outside of the range of the Tharsis' radar, and thus not alarming any of the crew. Ryan and Jess were also given a new directive, tasked to deliver the shipboard AI, Serena, to a series of Covenant broadcast stations. The bridge doors closed with a hiss behind them as they left.

Cole turned his attention to Chris. "And now for you. Is your team ready?"

Chris shrugged. "More or less...sir."

"Good. Now here's what I need you to do..."