|This article, Sunaion's Last Stand, was written by UnggoyZealot. Please do not edit this fiction without the writer's permission.|
|October 27, 2558
Sunaion, Sanghelios, Urs System
The racing of twin heartbeats within one body seemed to correlate almost perfectly with the thrum of the engines powering the ship that very body stood in. As the Phantom gunship under the control of the Swords of Sanghelios flew through the skies above the Csurdon sea below, its occupants within gazed out of the open sides, their pulses quickening as they neared their destination: The grand city of Sunaion, the last bastion of the Covenant Remnant. The Covenant fleet of old merchant ships awaited for the Swords of Sanghelios’ inevitable assault, while the warband under the Arbiter himself soared through the skies as the first attack force.
Nearby, flying in formation with the rest of the warband, was the personal Lich gunboat of the Arbiter, Thel ‘Vadam. In this Phantom near it was a large assault group under the command of Field Master Nak ‘Yendam, a young but tenacious commander. While only a sliver of his men were in his gunship, a large portion awaited in one of the Hekaar Taa-pattern blockade runners in the main attack force. Nak and his men were tasked with quelling a part of the Covenant leadership stationed on the Eastern Platform, presumed to be heavily defended.
Leading the charge with Nak were eight of his best soldiers: Jacul ‘Arach, and Larna ‘Vadam, his two officers. Tovnob, a heavy weapons specialist. Karnok ‘Vadam, a master of stealth. The other four were skilled warriors, two Unggoy named Yupta and Bugo, and two Sangheili, ‘Kinro and ‘Borad. These eight soldiers had been handpicked by Nak himself, for good reason. They would all play a special role in the upcoming battle.
“Is everyone prepared?” Nak asked, turning away from the city to face his troops.
“Affirmative,” replied Karnok, as he holstered his needler and walked to the edge of the Phantom’s troop bay. “The Covenant will fall to us.”
Tovnob hefted up his fuel rod gun, taking up a position beside Karnok. Larna and Jacul approached Nak, their expressions mixed. Larna carried her storm rifle with her, while Jacul’s hand rested on his dormant energy sword. “Our targets?” Larna asked, loud enough for the rest of the troops to notice and tune in to Nak’s orders.
“Three of the Covenant’s remaining leaders barricade themselves on the Eastern Platform. Officers Rach ‘Iltuk and Tsodon ‘Sakua, as well as a Covenant General named Kitun ‘Arach. Kitun is the priority, but given the chance to eliminate ‘Iltuk and ‘Sakua, take it. Without Jul ‘Mdama, the Covenant has little to gain.”
A chorus of nods from his troops left Nak confident in their ability, but he noticed Jacul in the corner giving off an uncomfortable aura. Making his way past the Swords to the officer, Nak reached Jacul, attracting the officer’s attention.
“Jacul, what troubles you? I can see clearly that something does not settle right with you,” the Field Master asked.
‘Arach sighed and raised his eyes to meet Nak’s gaze. “It is pitiful for me to be so sorrow, especially in a time such as this. I have doubts about killing Kitun ‘Arach, for he is my blood brother. I knew he would make a last stand here, yet I hoped I would not have to face him. Despite my efforts for reconciliation, he refuses my offers.”
“I… I did not realize he was your brother. I suspected he was a clan mate, but…” Nak stuttered. Despite his normal air of confidence, this grounded ‘Yendam. “We must all face our fears. Kitun refused to join us, and is left clinging to a sinking vessel. He has made his decision, and you must make yours. It is too late for your brother now. This is the final battle.”
Jacul pondered what his superior had to say for a few moments, before returning his watch to Nak. “You speak truly, Field Master… But tell me, how do you know this?”
“It has happened to me before,” Nak answered, “A close friend of mine named Grono ‘Yendam turned to a life of pirating, then, to the Covenant. It took time, but eventually, I came to terms with it. Last I heard, he was a Zealot in the Covenant. He might be leading a last stand here as well as your brother, but if it comes down to it, I will kill him if I must.”
Jacul nodded, and the warband increased speed, as a Sangheili voice over the COMs reported, “Ninety seconds to insertion point.”
“Our time has come,” Nak said as he walked to the edge of the Phantom with the rest of the lance. In the nearby Lich he could see the Arbiter, his men, and a host team of human Spartans doing the same.
As they neared the city, suddenly the Arbiter’s Lich and a wing of Banshees swerved off to their own destination, while Nak’s Phantom and an escort of two more Banshees continued towards the east. Down below lay swarms of Covenant soldiers, as well as a few anti-aircraft turrets. Avoiding their fire, the trio of ships quickened their pace, firing away at several Covenant lances below.
“Ready your weapons!” Nak shouted as Tovnob fired a blast at a Shade turret, obliterating the structure and its gunner. The Phantom pilot roared to Nak that they were almost to the drop zone, as the two Banshees, Zolvun One and Two, soared alongside them. Arriving at the Eastern Platform, Nak tensed himself as two AA turrets below began to fire. One made contact with the Phantom, causing it to shake back and forth, while the other slammed straight into Zolvun One, annihilating his Banshee. As the Banshee pilot’s screams drowned out the chatter, Nak turned to see ‘Kinro losing his balance.
“Jump!” bellowed the Phantom pilot as ‘Kinro plummeted out of the gunship and out of sight. Nak obliged, leaping out of the gunship onto the pavilion below, followed by his troopers.
“Target the turrets, render the Covenant defenses useless!” Nak commanded as he ran towards a Sangheili Storm in front of him. Igniting his energy sword, the Field Master roared as he slashed the enemy across the torso, felling him.
Larna fired into the crowd, bringing down a pair of Unggoy, while Jacul closed his free hand around a Kig-Yar’s neck, immobilizing it long enough for him to impale the avian creature. While Swords of Sanghelios fired, Nak clambered up onto a balcony to get a view of the pavilion, spying a pair of Sangheili at the accessway to the rest of the platform. Sensing a presence behind him, ‘Yendam swiveled around to find Karnok.
“What can I assist with, Field Master?”
Nak pointed a finger towards the two Sangheili, and Karnok nodded. “They are most likely commanding these forces. Eliminate them quietly, while I eliminate more Covenant from up here.”
“A pleasure,” Karnok replied, before fading away into his active camouflage. Nak holstered his energy sword and drew his carbine to start firing. Satisfyingly, the Swords had eliminated many more Covenant, which would make Nak’s work easier. Firing into the crowd, Nak put down several Unggoy and a Kig-Yar, before leaping to the side as one Unggoy fired upon him with a fuel rod gun.
“Assistance, Field Master! I need someone to bring down these troublesome turrets!”
Realizing that the voice belonged to the Phantom pilot, Nak looked up to see the Phantom taking a beating. Zolvun Two had already flown off to assist other Swords of Sanghelios, but the Covenant were still defending the AA turrets. Nak barked his orders into the COMs there and then.
“Phantom, rain fire down on the infantry to make some use of yourself! Tovnob, target the AA turrets!”
The commands were received instantly, and the Phantom, directed its turret to the Kig-Yar, pounding away on their shields, while Tovnob leaped behind ‘Borad to cover him as he fired at the first turret. The turret was successfully destroyed, but as Tovnob turned his attention to the other one, the Phantom pilot screamed as the gunship was finally destroyed, crashing into the remaining Covenant forces. With all enemies dead, Nak jumped off the balcony to meet up with his soldiers.
“Continue to the leadership!” Nak barked as the lance moved up to the accessway. Karnok was waiting there with a smug expression on his face, proven by the two Sangheili corpses at his feet.
Nak acknowledged and jogged past Karnok, straight into one of Sunaion’s streets. To his left was a skyscraper with multiple Covenant on it, luckily focusing on the Swords of Sanghelios’ incoming fleet, while the remnants of a third AA gun lay on the right. Noticing that the Covenant fleet was now exchanging blows with the Swords of Sanghelios, Nak held up a hand to halt his lance.
“Swords of Sanghelios, all ships report in!” requested the Swords of Sanghelios Flight Leader on the COMs. His statement was met with multiple responses from the Sword ships.
“Havoc on station.”
“Onslaught on station.”
“Revolution on station.”
The Flight Leader than gave out the final words to bring down the Covenant: “All ships, focus fire on Covenant air forces! Send them crashing to a watery grave!”
“The fleet has arrived,” Nak announced, “Let us make haste.”
The lance sprinted through the street, nimbly avoiding the corpses of Covenant defenders. While they tried to be quiet, the efforts seemed to be in vain as a bolt of plasma struck Nak’s body, overloading his shields. Whipping around, he made out a Kig-Yar Sniper atop one of the skyscraper’s balconies aiming at him. As if Nak’s mind was read, ‘Borad fired off a burst of isotopic rounds from his carbine before Nak could give the order, knocking the Kig-Yar off the building into the waters below.
Unfortunately, this caught the attention of the other Covenant atop the structure, and they began firing upon the group. Nak called to ‘Borad, Yupta, and Bugo, then ushered them into cover. “You three, provide covering fire for us! We shall continue our march to the objective!”
‘Borad beat his right fist upon his chest, and Nak followed suit. As the Sangheili and two Unggoy rained fire upon the Covenant above, Nak sprinted through the crossfire, evading a plasma grenade and tumbling into an empty doorway. Waiting for him were Larna, Jacul, Karnok, and Tovnob.
Righting himself, Nak motioned for the remainder of the lance to follow him through. Ahead of them lay many more streets. Creeping through the eerily abandoned area, Nak was contacted by the Banshee pilot Zolvun Two.
“Field Master, Zolvun Two reporting in. Most of the anti-air emplacements in this sector are down, and your legion has been deployed. Take heed, I have seen Covenant forces under General Kitun ‘Arach pushing back friendly forces across a bridge to the Arbiter’s sector. ‘Arach has airships under his command, and has sent a Spirit your way. I am on an intercept course as fast as I can.”
“Affirmative,” Nak answered, before confirming the orders with his troops. The channel was open access to all Swords of Sanghelios, so they knew all that Zolvun had reported. Jacul flared his nostrils.
“My brother still eludes me…”
Nak ignored the complaint and pointed to a tower at the end of the street. The lights remained on inside the top floor, and a pair of unmanned Shade turrets lay dormant outside the entrance. “Go quietly. That could be a potential command post.”
The lance hurried forward, taking up arms near the doors. As Nak unslung his carbine, a familiar drone of a large engine sounded behind him. “Enemy Spirit, incoming!” Larna warned, leaping to the side to avoid a blast from the dropship’s heavy plasma cannon.
As he had promised, Zolvun Two flew onto the scene, loosing a barrage of plasma from his Banshee. It struck its mark, knocking off the Spirit’s cannon, as the dropship continued on its course down to the streets below. Zolvun Two fired off several more times, but to no avail to the ship’s heavy armor. The Spirit’s “Arms” opened, revealing multiple Unggoy, Sangheili, and Kig-Yar, ready to be deployed into battle.
“Karnok, to me! Jacul, Larna, man those Shades! Give Tovnob covering fire so he can attack!” Nak ordered as he ran inside the tower. Karnok followed suit, while the Sword officers started up the Shades, beginning to mow down the Covenant attackers. Two Covenant escort Banshees arrived, firing at Zolvun Two.
“They come for me!” Zolvun’s voice echoed on the radio as the three Banshees sped away, engaging in a dogfight.
“Karnok, engage active camouflage. I will distract whatever forces oppose us.”
Karnok nodded and carried out the action, blending into the vivid purple walls of the chamber. Nak walked forward, finding a gravity lift leading to the various floors. Stepping inside, the lift launched him up roughly a hundred feet, setting him down gently at the doors to the command post. The entrance was damaged, with one door slightly crippled, while the other was knocked completely off of its hinges. At Nak’s feet lay three dead Sword Sangheili.
Looking up, Nak spied three Covenant Sangheili flanking a crimson-clad Commander, his armor stitched up with a variety of chunks from human and Swords of Sanghelios armor. He was arguing with a Sangheili Storm, and spat at the subordinate’s feet.
“All I want to know is how they discovered our position so quickly! A strike team broke through our doors immediately and killed the rest of my men, and you recommend I stay here?!” the Commander shouted, back-handing the Sangheili across the face.
The Sangheili went down, and as the Commander shook his hand off, another Storm stepped forward. “Commander ‘Iltuk, They assault our holy city from all sides. This should have been expected.”
“There’s our target,” Nak whispered into his COMs as Rach ‘Iltuk sighed, resting his hands on the observation deck’s rails, observing the unfolding chaos below.
“If only Field Master Grono ‘Yendam was here. Our men would have fought bravely under him. A shame the Zealot decided to abandon our cause. At least he had the tenacity to stay until ‘Mdama died.”
At hearing the name of his former friend, Nak perked up. Grono has abandoned the Covenant? At last! But where could he have gone? No matter, now is not the time to think about these things. Now is the time for battle. Nak slung his carbine over his back and carefully gripped his energy sword’s handle, ready to activate it at a moment’s notice. As his finger went to push the button, however, Rach stopped.
“Wait,” the Commander ordered, sniffing the air. “I smell isotopic decay. But none of us have nuclear-fed weapons.”
His eyes darting to the side, Rach continued, “That can only mean-”
As quick as a Helioskrill pouncing upon its prey, the Commander whipped out his energy sword, running it through the body of none other than Karnok ‘Vadam. The Sword’s look of astonishment plastered on his face was unsettling to Nak. The Field Master leaped up to his feet as Rach drew his blade from Karnok’s spasming corpse, letting it drop to the ground.
“Assassin,” he stated, right as Nak reared up to full height, releasing a mighty roar from his gut. The Covenant Sangheili turned in his direction to witness the lone Sword toss a primed plasma grenade towards them, determination echoing in his eyes.
The grenade stuck to one of the Sangheili Storms, exploding as the remainder jumped out of the way. Nak charged at the other two Storms, sliding under the attempted slash of one before barreling into the other, knocking him through the railings and off of the tower. Nak ignored his newest victim’s screams as he turned around to leap over a low slash from the remaining Storm.
Activating his own energy sword, Nak parried another strike, beating it to the side and kicking the Storm to the ground. Preparing to strike the final blow, Nak lost balance from a shot to his back, completely destroying his energy shields. Collapsing to the ground, he caught Rach gripping a beam rifle in the corner of his eye. The Commander took aim once more, but Nak scrambled up, taking cover behind the wounded Sangheili Storm. Rach stopped and laughed at the act.
“You think I would be so ill-prepared as to shoot one of my own men? You underestimate me, Sword of Sanghelios.”
Nak took the opportunity to wrap his arm around the Sangheili Storm, squeezing tightly until a sharp pop announced the combatant’s death. Nak hoped this would throw Rach off guard and heaved the corpse up as a shield running towards the Commander.
This was met with a stuck-out leg that tripped Nak, forcing him to the ground. A hard, metal boot plowed into his side, and was followed by a chuckle. “A simple neck snap will not faze me. I have killed many on the hunt.”
Nak could hear the crackle of an energy sword activating, and swung up his own blade to block the blow. Rach growled and fell back, assuming a battle stance. Nak followed suit. It was time for a duel.
Rach charged towards Nak, clobbering the Field Master’s energy sword out of his hand with his own. ‘Yendam sidestepped the Commander’s next attack, before rearing back his fist and throwing it. It landed on Rach’s left set of mandibles, knocking him to the side. He brought up an arm to shield himself from Nak’s next melee attack, before activating an energy dagger on his forearm in anticipation.
As Nak began his second pummel, Rach turned and slashed across the Field Master’s left hand, rendering it inert. Roaring in pain, Nak wasn’t ready for Rach to begin his counterattack, hacking and slashing into his arms. Falling onto his back, he wheezed as Rach planted a firm foot on his chest.
“Your helmet will make a fine trophy,” the Commander stated, “Unfortunate that I had to fight you in an exhausted condition.”
Picking up Nak’s scattered energy sword, he lumbered towards the wounded Sword, kneeling down by his side. Rach put it to Nak’s neck, and his smug expression disappeared, replaced by another: That of a warrior ready to do his work.
‘Iltuk raised the blade and prepared to behead Nak, but the Field Master found his final chance. His right arm shot up, bopping Rach’s vulnerable neck. The Commander stumbled back, and Nak leapt to his feet, narrowing his eyes. His enemy looked back up to him, and Nak responded by hurling his fist with as much force as he could muster into the Commander’s face, smashing it in. All four mandibles were broken by the force of the punch, and Rach’s nose caved in under the pressure.
Nak drew back his hand, ignoring the throbbing pain pulsing within his veins. Rach’s eyes were wide open, and he turned his bloody, mangled face to Nak, his mandibles hanging onto his face through a small series of pink tendons. His nose twitched, and ‘Iltuk gurgled in pain, spurting up blood from his crushed throat.
Rach put a hand to his face, feeling each and every feature. First, clutching at the limp mandibles. Next, at the gaping hole in his nose. Finally, he tapped his throat, and immediately gagged in reflex. He kept his gaze on Nak, and stepped back as the Field Master went for the killing hit.
“Covena-” Rach sputtered as Nak shoved him into a wall, bringing up both hands and bringing them down on the Covenant Commander’s skull. There was a sickening crack, and the Sangheili’s corpse fell to its knees, before crumpling to the bloodstained floor.
Nak surveyed the room one more time, taking a brief glimpse of his brothers in arms, and then the enemies. While Karnok may have died, Nak had avenged him, while also eliminating one of their three targets. With a sudden realization, Nak remembered his lance outside, as well as their two remaining targets, Tsodon ‘Sakua, and Kitun ‘Arach.
Nak bent down to reclaim his energy sword, and switched it off, clamping it to his hip. There was still much more to do.
‘Yendam exited the building to find Jacul, Larna, and Tovnob awaiting him, having fended off the Covenant reinforcements. Tovnob grinned widely with pride, while Larna, with a quizzical look on her face, asked, “Where is Karnok?”
“Dead. By ‘Iltuk’s hand,” Nak replied, turning to the corner that would lead them further along the Eastern Platform.
Larna solemnly nodded, and followed closely behind Nak. The four continued along the street, reaching a second pavilion with another AA gun. Zolvun Two’s gruff voice reemerged on the COMs to warn Nak once more.
“Field Master, the pavilion you stand upon is trapped! Do not tread any further, or else they will-”
The Banshee pilot was cut off in mid-sentence as a shielded arm swung into Tovnob, cracking the Unggoy’s skull as it heaved him into a wall, shattering his spine. He crumpled to the ground and twitched, as the arm drew back to its owner: An Mgalekgolo. The armored behemoth produced an ominous growl from within its worm-filled body, as a second Mgalekgolo stepped up to join it.
Nak wasted no time in his attack, running forward and sliding under one of the creatures’ swipes and rotating to plunge his energy sword into the monster’s back,tearing apart its armored spikes from beneath. The Field Master finished the attack, pushing the blade all the way through until it exited through the Mgalekgolo’s stomach area. It roared in pain as he drew the sword out, and in a final attempt in its death throe threw back its shield, smashing into Nak’s chest.
Nak collapsed to the ground with a broken energy shield while the Mgalekgolo did the same with a lifeless thud, spewing Lekgolo worms over the cold, metal pavement. Its brother bellowed in rage, firing off a blast from its fuel rod cannon at Jacul and Larna. They both leaped to the sides, but the radius of the explosion was enough to overpower both of their shields, leaving them defenseless.
The Mgalekgolo closed in, but as it charged up its cannon, a large projectile slammed into the behemoth’s back, knocking it off balance. All four combatants looked up in the sky to see a Swords of Sanghelios Banshee swooping around for another dive, and Nak immediately knew it was Zolvun Two.
Unfortunately, the AA gun was still at work, and it swiftly snapped to attention and let loose a hail of plasma fire, shredding away at Zolvun’s wings. Without flight support, the fighter struggled to keep afloat, and turned its course to the cannon.
“I have the Mgalekgolo distracted, make use of it!” shouted Zolvun Two over the COMs as his fighter spiraled into the AA gun, wrenching it apart in a fiery explosion that would leave the pilot’s last mark on this world.
Nak grimly stood up, ignoring the pain in his side. He turned to his officers to find Larna taking aim at the Mgalekgolo with Tovnob’s fuel rod gun. She fired once, then twice at the exposed back of the distracted creature, knocking it down with only the charred remains of a few worms left to show.
“Wait here,” Nak ordered. “Let us check the report of how the rest of the battle is going.”
Tuning into the COMs, Nak could hear the flurried chatter of different legion commanders either giving orders, griping about enemy positions, or cheering at the completion of an objective. Above the voices of the rest, Nak could distinguish one that sounded nothing like a Sangheili.
“Last cannon down! Good work, Spartans. Arbiter, cannons offline on our position.”
It was the voice of one of the Spartans, identified as Spartan Locke by the COMs system. Responding to the human was of course the Arbiter himself. “My troops will arrive and secure your position. Move on towards the Guardian. You must reach the Master Chief in time.”
“Copy that, Arbiter.”
The COMs buzzed once more with activity, and Nak signaled towards a large bridge that would lead to the platform where the Arbiter and the Spartans were. “We go there. Once at the bridge, I shall link up with the legion and quell ‘Arach and ‘Sakua.”
Jacul and Larna nodded. The three Swords clambered their way up onto an overhang, and continued towards the bridge. An explosion of tremendous force shook the skies above, and Nak turned his gaze upwards to catch the site of a Swords of Sanghelios blockade runner collapsing in the center, as the aft and bow of the ship careened into a religious monument, knocking it from its perch into the quiet waves below.
How symbolic, Nak thought, A signal of the Covenant’s demise. But at a price. He leaped down from the overhang’s edge at the foot of the bridge, and his officers followed suit. A Sword Sangheili ran past them, raising his fist and shouting a spirited battlecry before joining more Swords farther ahead.
Another Sangheili scrambled over to Nak, saluting. “Field Master, your legion awaits you!”
With a sudden realization, Nak knew that these were his men. It was time to command. Nak surveyed the bridge, taking in the individual skirmishes happening at that moment. A lance of Swords were pushing back a wave of Unggoy cannon fodder to his left, while farther up the bridge, Sangheili, Sword and Covenant alike, were dueling. To his right a Covenant-manned Shade was laying suppressive fire over Sword Sangheili and Unggoy who hid behind cover. In the center, hordes of Covenant and Sword troops fought, tearing into each other like rabid dogs. Towards the back, Nak could make out Covenant reinforcements arriving, including a handful of Sangheili Rangers.
“Eliminate the turret!” Nak ordered, “That will smite their defenses and give more of our men opportunity to join the main assault!”
The Sangheili with him barked at a nearby Unggoy, who hefted up a beam rifle much too big for himself and took aim, firing at the Kig-Yar seated in the Shade. The avian’s head exploded, spattering brain matter over the turret as the gunner fell limp. The Swords behind cover cheered before rushing out to storm a lance of Covenant Unggoy and Sangheili, sweeping them up in a tidal surge.
“Excellent shot, Unggoy,” Nak muttered, much to the little soldier’s delight. He turned his attention to the main battle to find the Sangheili Rangers from before bounding into the air for a higher vantage point in order to rain plasma down on the unsuspecting Swords. Larna had taken notice of this already, and charged into the fray, shouting warnings to their comrades.
The Sangheili with Nak turned to him, saying, “Field Master, we need to link up with the Arbiter as soon as possible.”
“Fetch that Unggoy and tell him to cover us, then follow me. We shall cut into the heart of this.”
The Sangheili nodded, and relayed the command to the Unggoy, who curtly nodded before hobbling up to the overhang for a vantage point. Nak roared and barged through a lance of Sangheili and Unggoy, ramming into a Covenant Kig-Yar. He continued his run, activating his energy sword and slicing through opponents until he reached the farthest reaches of the bridge that the Swords had. He then motioned for the Sangheili with him to fire, cutting down two enemy Unggoy, while their sniper companion blasted away, felling a Sangheili Commander.
Nak ran through a Sangheili Storm with his energy sword, and drew the blade to whip up towards the telltale sound of a jetpack, cleanly arcing through a Sangheili Ranger. A second Ranger landed near Nak’s partner, knocking his weapon from his hand. The Sword growled as he tackled the Ranger to the ground, and Nak focused back on himself to find that he had two more Rangers to deal with. He swiped at the first, only to be parried with a quickly-drawn energy sword of their own. Nak swiftly disengaged, only to be pushed to the ground by the second one.
He avoided a blow to the head, but coughed up blood as the Ranger’s other fist slammed into his gut. Nak grabbed the Ranger’s helmet and ripped it off, smashing it into the enemy’s face. The Ranger toppled to the ground in a flash, and Nak raised his energy sword to block the blade of the other Ranger. He pushed the Ranger, causing them to stumble back to the bridge’s edge, before raising his leg and delivering a satisfying kick to the chest, knocking the Ranger off of the platform.
He returned to his companion to find the Sword standing above the final Ranger’s corpse, panting in exhaustion. Nak patted him reassuringly on the shoulder, as a pair of Sword Sangheili ran past them, shouting, “Death to the Covenant!”
Jacul ‘Arach arrived on the scene, approaching Nak. “Nak, I see you have advanced by yourself. But we still have many more Covenant on the bridge.”
Nak nodded, but the three Sangheili whipped their heads towards the entrance to the main platform after an ear-splitting scream pierced the air. The two Sangheili that ran ahead were both slumped against the walls, with three Covenant Sangheili creeping away from them. With a shock, Nak realized one of them as their priority target: Kitun ‘Arach.
The revelation had dawned on Jacul as well, for his face darkened, and he turned to Nak. “Field Master, I wish to deal with my brother myself. Do I have your permission?” Nak sighed and shook his head. “Not now. We must still clear this bridge.”
Jacul hung his head, but acknowledged. His dismay was obvious, but Nak could not afford to lose an officer to a task so foolish. Jacul could have his confrontation, but not at the expense of unneeded casualties. As Nak deactivated his energy sword and unslung his carbine, an ominous thrum sang through the winds, and the city shook with the force of a planet collapsing in on itself. The Field Master fell to his knees, and as he stood back up, he witnessed Covenant and Swords of Sanghelios alike being cut down by ornately armored enemies, firing weapons much more powerful than his own.
“Prometheans!” one of the Unggoy shouted.
“They are here to exact their vengeance upon the Covenant for oppressing them!” a Sangheili cut in, “They must want us dead as well!”
Nak held up his hand to stop Jacul, and took aim through his carbine to snipe a robotic quadruped known as a Crawler. The COMs crackled, and Nak sighed in response to the unfortunate timing before listening in.
“Spartans, be aware,” the Arbiter warned, “New enemies join the fight above. Armored, glowing.”
“Prometheans,” Spartan Locke replied over the COMs.
Another Unggoy screamed as a Promethean Soldier sprayed a mass of hard light into his chest, while Crawlers began to overrun the remaining Covenant, cutting through their ranks with unsettling ease. Watchers swarmed in from portals in the sky, producing large blue shields to defend their fellow Prometheans from what little resistance the Swords of Sanghelios could muster.
“Get inside,” Nak shouted to his nearest troops, “Pass on the order, and get inside! We can force them into chokepoints in close quarters!”
The Sangheili and Unggoy momentarily halted their panic to relay the orders, and soon enough random and disorganized groups of retreating Swords pushed past him, eager to reach safety. Larna was a familiar face among the crowd, and she crept over to him as she fired off at a handful of pursuing Prometheans.
“Field Master, over half of the Swords of Sanghelios here are dead. Where is Jacul?” The female officer inquired.
Nak looked to his side, only to find his other officer missing. A feeling of dread pushed up through the Field Master’s throat, and he knew where Jacul had gone.
“While he may have gone off to rally the troops, I have the feeling that he has slinked away to fight his brother, Kitun.”
Larna’s response was cut short by a crackling groan as a domed spire collapsed, crushing a band of Unggoy just meters away from Nak and Larna. The reverberting quake kicked up a tornado of ash and dust, blinding the Field Master.
As the dust subsided, Nak shooks his head and widened his eyes as a golden-clad Sangheili Warrior charged through the dust, crashing into Nak. He fell to the ash-covered metal floor, coughing while the Covenant warrior raised an energy sword to deliver the killing blow. Nak let his head fall back, looking up into the eyes of his soon-to-be-killer, and wheezed.
The Sangheili Warrior roared in triumph, but it quickly turned into a cry of pain as a seething red blade shot through the Sangheili’s stomach, before retracting out. The Sangheili collapsed, revealing a hulking Promethean Knight above his corpse. Nak had always thought of Knights as the Mgalekgolo of the Covenant in size and sheer power, and here was one right in front of him. He clutched his chest in pain, and the Knight shifted the wing-like layers on the back of its metal carapace, pointing a weapon of Forerunner origin towards the wounded Sangheili Field Master.
Surely this must be the end, Nak thought. But contrary to it, Larna ‘Vadam leaped from the side of his peripheral vision onto the Knight, distracting it long enough for a pair of Sangheili with energy swords to rush towards the robotic giant. The Knight screeched and threw Larna off of its back, bringing up its blade to block one of the Sangheili. The other Sword of Sanghelios threw his sword, embedding it deep into the Knight’s carapace.
The Promethean responded by raising its weapon and firing a blast of orange particles at the Sangheili; the force of the blast shoving him away. The Sangheili screamed as his body quickly disintegrated into a flurry of ionized dust, leaving nothing behind. Nak could still hear the poor soldier’s cries echoing through his head as the other Sangheili sliced off the Knight’s blade, grabbing the hilt in mid-air and plunging both the Knight’s weapon and his own into the Promethean.
The Knight leaped backwards, only to disintegrate into a flurry of particles before it could hit the floor. The Sangheili let out a long sigh, before turning and grabbing Nak’s hand. Helping the Field Master up, the Sangheili draped Nak’s arm over his back, and took a step forward. Nak’s vision started to blur, and he drooped his head as the world faded into darkness
Flames. Debris. Everywhere. But why? Nak lifted his head up from the bench he lay on, but a fit of coughing that followed forced him back down. ‘Yendam looked out a nearby window of the building he was in, and spied the chunks of dismantled Prometheans as well as the countless corpses of Swords of Sanghelios and Covenant alike.
“It is over,” a voice said from behind Nak. He adjusted his gaze to Larna ‘Vadam, her headgear off as she tended to a bruise on her forehead. “The Covenant is defeated.”
“How?” Nak asked.
“The Arbiter and the Spartans eliminated a large portion of the Covenant forces, and yet another fraction were killed during the Guardian’s ascendancy,” The officer responded, “You were out the entire time, and the Spartans boarded the Guardian shortly before it departed. Thel ‘Vadam is rallying our troops in celebration of victory, and to decide what to do about the Covenant that have surrendered.”
“What about the rest of the lance?” Nak questioned, “‘Borad, Yupta, Bugo, and Jacul?”
“Yupta and ‘Borad have been found dead, and Bugo is nowhere to be found.”
I have failed them. If I did not tell them to hold out for us, might we have been able to escape quickly and save their lives? Thought Nak. “And… Jacul?” he said, fearing the worst.
Larna looked down, averting her gaze from Nak. “He was found deceased besides his brother Kitun’s corpse. They killed each other in battle.”
I tried to stop him from going, Nak told himself, But he was adamant. I guess my support of him bolstered his confidence and determination too much. But is it a bad thing?
Two Unggoy and another Sangheili entered the room, bustling over to a pile of deactivated Forerunner weapons. Nak attempted to swing his legs off of the workbench, but grimaced at the sudden pain he felt.
“What happened to me?”
One of the Unggoy chimed in, pointing to Nak’s chest. “Me check you up. You fracture several ribs, and have many bruises. But that torso alone! Left hand also have damaged tendons, and legs scarred and overworked. Me surprise you go on for so long though!”
Larna continued the Unggoy’s analysis, saying, “With all your wounds, it was a surprise that you went on for so long. It was most likely the adrenaline in your system. But eventually, you succumbed to exhaustion and lost consciousness. And thus, you are here. But we should all be thankful, for the Covenant’s light is extinguished, hopefully for good.”
But what of the others that have sacrificed themselves to make this happen? Will they be remembered, and go down in history for their bravery What of all the men that died under my command? What about the Guardians?
“We have much to do, but for now, it is a time of celebration for the Covenant’s demise,” the newcomer Sangheili pitched.
I guess it is so, Nak accepted, And in the future, I may be able to find Grono, and discover if he plans on opposing us once more, or maybe even joins us finally.
“Indeed it is time to celebrate,” Nak stated, “This will go down in history as our victory, and Sunaion’s last stand. A new age is dawning, and we will be a part of it.”