|High Council Chamber, High Charity|
December 8th, 2547
"By order of the High Council, we sentence you to death."
Fleet Master Ker 'Montunee stood alone before the jeering crowd, straight-backed and emotionless as a quartet of Honour Guards approached to shackle him. Clad in a simple farmer's tunic, he looked positively tiny compared to the ornately armoured warriors around him. At the end of the chamber, the High Prophet of Truth raised a hand, and the assembled councillors fell silent.
"In these trying times, examples must be made of those who dare defy our Covenant. Prepare him."
Stood amidst a gaggle of onlookers, Shipmaster Toru 'Makhanee crossed his arms and sighed. The entire trial had been for show, as many were here in High Charity. Montunee was a venerable leader of over ninety years, and despite his record of success had a reputation for unorthodox behaviour in the field. Unlike many Sangheili commanders, he focused almost entirely on the elimination of Human military targets and had allowed numerous unarmed evacuation vessels to escape. Some had even reported that Montunee had spoken of engaging in diplomacy with their foes, directly defying the San'Shyuum's decree that mankind be utterly exterminated. Someone had passed along information of his activities to the Ministry of Inquisition, and he had been summoned before the council at once.
And now it falls to me to end this.
Toru moved to the front of the crowd, resplendent in his golden armour. Several other Shipmasters bowed their heads out of respect as he strode towards the prisoner, who had been forced to his knees and shackled. Ker glanced up at him and chuckled, evidently amused. One of the Honour Guards handed the Shipmaster the hilt of a deactivated energy sword. The disgraced Fleet Master had earned a warrior's execution, at least.
"It is fitting," Truth spoke once more, "That a traitor's finest student end his life. When you are ready, Shipmaster. Prove your loyalty."
Moving to Ker's left side, Toru activated the sword. Its blade glowed a deep blue, and thrummed with energy. This duty had been given to him the moment news arrived of the Fleet Master's arrest; there was no avoiding it. Ker 'Montunee had been his commander for over twenty-five years now, and saved the younger Sangheili's life on multiple occasions. It was he who had taught him how to command troops on the ground and direct vessels in space, and had personally recommended his promotion to Shipmaster. Toru owed everything to him.
"I have always done what I believed right," the prisoner raised his head towards the Prophet. "If death is the price I pay for sanity, then so be it."
Truth smiled. "Kill him."
As Toru raised his sword, Ker closed his eyes. "Your loyalty is unquestionable, my friend. May it never be sullied."
"Of course," the Shipmaster's voice dropped to a whisper. "That is why I informed on you."
Ker's eyes snapped open as Toru's blade sliced through his neck. The elderly Sangheili's head hit the floor a second before his body did. Exhaling slowly, he stood up and deactivated the blade as a cheer went up from behind him. The Prophet of Truth's chair drifted forward, and he dropped to one knee.
"You have done well," said the Hierarch. "You have earned your promotion to Fleet Master."
"Thank you, noble Prophet. I will return to the frontlines at once."
"I think not, Fleet Master. We have so many in our war with the Humans as it is, and so few attending to our empire. You will be reassigned to assist in the governance our fringe worlds immediately alongside your fleet. For one so well-versed in tactics and administration such as yourself, it will be a suitable posting."
Toru looked up as Truth steepled his long fingers and met the San'Shyuum's eyes. He nodded solemnly.
"Thank you, Hierarch."
One predator recognises another, it would seem.