|This article, Vadam Legacies: Shrugging Off the Chains, was written by Maslab, Leo Fox and Stel' Vadam. Please do not edit this fiction without the writers' permission.|
|This article, Vadam Legacies: Shrugging Off the Chains, is currently under active construction.|
Previous Story: The Rift
Vena 'Vadam has always harboured a desire to fight for her species. But Sangheili law dictates that females are not permitted to be trained in combat. Yet her father, Autel, sees many great things in store for her. With the help of his Spartan friend, Wings-D339, they will endeavour to bring her up as one of the best Sangheili warriors to be pitted against their enemies, old and new alike.
2240 HOURS, MARCH 1st, 2559 (UNSC MILITARY CALENDAR)
Cyla 'Cazal felt something stir the edges of her consciousness, bringing her awake. Something was pressed gently against her. Looking down, the female Sangheili saw three small bundles. Her children.
"You're back." She said, looking up to see her husband, Autel 'Vadam, walking out. He must have been trying not to disturb her.
She rose as he walked back across the room, and they embraced. Cyla saw Autel smiling when they released each other, and she went to pick up the young ones, holding them tight.
"We haven't named them yet." She said. "I haven't decided on names yet, but I'll tell you when I have. In the meantime, I think you'll want to pay a visit to the Demal Keep."
Traditionally, the mother named newborns, and Autel wasn't about to tread on tradition so suddenly. Cyla smiled.
"Fira will be regaining consciousness in a few units. You may want to be there when he does."
Autel nodded, glanced at his children, then left. Fira 'Demal was a close friend of Autel, and had been grievously wounded when he threw himself on a plasma grenade to protect some Sangheili newborns.
Cyla sat down in a corner chair. She remembered sitting down in this chair no more than eight days ago when Autel had stormed back in to the keep, telling her that the Fallen had taken her three children. Now she had them back. It was time to name them, but she had to give them good names, ones that would be remembered, not ones that were already being remembered.
"Kysa." Cyla muttered, naming one of her sons after her cousin, who had been killed on the first Halo ring. "Adra." She named the other male, after her brother, who had been killed in the accidental explosion of a fusion core. "Vena." She named her daughter after Cyla's own mother, killed by the Fallen about two years back.
Vena 'Vadam yawned and opened her eyes. Her skin had the usual dark tone that most Sangheili had, but her eyes were a stark white, with a hint of red in them. Just like her father.
Cyla closed her eyes and leaned back in her chair. Her husband and her children were all back now. Everything would be alright.
For now, anyway.
2240 HOURS, SEPTEMBER 16th, 2564 (UNSC MILITARY CALENDAR)
Cyla watched Adra and Kysa leaving, feeling sorrowful. It was time for them to begin their training. As the grandsons of one of the greatest Sangheili warriors who'd ever lived they were assured a chance to serve in the Sangheili military.
Sanghelios had lost many sons since the beginning of the Great Schism, and that battle was still raging, albeit at a slower pace than before.
Cyla felt a tug on her robe and looked down at Vena.
"Mother, when do I go off to train?"
The small ones' innocence put a slight smile on Cyla's face. She'd once heard from a human that female humans matured faster than the males. With her race it seemed to be the other way around.
"I'm afraid you never will, Vena."
Ah, young ones. So many questions that had no real answer. "Please, go ask your father."
Vena nodded and went inside. Autel was on one of his rare breaks that he spent with his family.
The small Sangheili child had always found her father to be a source of admiration. Unlike most Sangheili, whose skin was a dark gray color, Autel's skin was a stark white. He had two purple scars on the right side of his face just under the eye, and his eyes were black with a tinge of red in them. Vena had heard that, when Autel got angry, the redness would deepen.
"Father, why can't I be a warrior, too?"
Autel looked down at his daughter. They looked almost nothing alike, he a fairly large male warrior built for battle, and she a small, gentle child. The only thing they shared in common were their eyes. Vena's had a faint red tinge to them.
He sighed. "Tradition demands that only males fight. Our elders say it is because females are weaker."
"But I've seen them fighting."
Autel almost huffed. Almost. But something in Vena's voice told him that she firmly, truly knew it to have happened. Vena kept talking.
"I saw you. I saw you on a planet. And you were fighting alongside four strange creatures. Five of them helped you destroy a base."
Autel knelt down. "Five creatures... Spartans?"
Vena shuddered, and Autel noticed that her eyes weren't focused on him anymore. Her normally red pupils had lightened a bit, giving them a slightly pink glow.
"No, these creatures wore suits of black, like the others around them, and were shorter than the others. But they fought more bravely than any of the others on that field."
"Did you see these creatures?"
"They seemed to be small humans. And then I saw one, he was older, several years older. He was much taller and was armored. Green."
Vena was babbling now, not recognizing the words that poured from her mouth. "Yes, and you were with him on another planet. I don't know what you were doing, though. But then I found myself standing on a cliff. As I watched a giant red bird flew up from the forest, eclipsing the sun. A shadow settled on the planet. I could watch it spreading across the land, gobbling up the mountains, rivers and forests alike. It flowed around me, surrounded me. I heard disjointed cries, but I know not from where nor whence they came; infinite called out to me, demanding that I help. It reached for me, called to me, but I found I could not answer. Then the bird above burst in to flame, and light was once again thrown over the land. The voices cried out in unanimous joy, as if they had all been freed from a terrible doom. The last thing I saw was a female of our species wearing a strange suit of armor, standing on the peak of a mountain and holding her arms to the sky. And then I awoke."
Vena's view snapped to the present. She saw a strange look on her father's face. "Father?"
Autel blinked. "That is... most interesting, Vena." And he left without another word.
Walking outside, he stood next to Cyla and sighed. "I am worried."
"Has she said something?" his wife asked, almost as if she was expecting this.
"Yes," Autel said resignedly. "She has just made a prediction."
Cyla nodded, not too surprised. "I knew she would...from the day she was born. I could see it in her eyes."
He looked over at her slowly, not comprehending. Perhaps it was a mother thing. "When she is older, she may become like my mother. I...I want so badly to shield her from this."
"You cannot hold her back from what she truly is," Cyla said softly.
"I know, and I shall not. But others will hear of this, they are seeking to find another Seer. And it makes her a target for our enemies. She was already taken from us before, and I do not wish for it to happen again."
Cyla gave a slight smile. "You are a target also, Autel. The Jiralhanae hate you with such a passion. But look...you are quite a warrior. I do not see you hiding from the world; You stand unafraid."
"I am afraid Vena will not have the chance to become a warrior. Our ways have always been like this...she has a desire to join her brothers, I do not know how to tell her she cannot."
"I do not know. Perhaps her prediction will mean—" Autel looked up sharply. He just recalled something Vena had said. Maybe there was a way.
"Phoenix." He whispered.
"What?" Cyla asked. Autel looked to the skies.
"I know someone who can help her."
2240 HOURS, AUGUST 5th, 2568 (UNSC MILITARY CALENDAR)
It was customary for a female to bring any daughters she had in to town at least once a year. One does not learn the ways of society by living in the middle of a forest, surrounded by your own family.
Today was something new for Vena. In fact, it was new for most Sangheili.
Years earlier the Kaidon, Thel 'Vadam, had exiled the Koidam lineage from the Vadam territories. A few Koidam warriors had fled to the uncharted mountains and established their own civilization there. Soldiers from the Vadam Keep had only recently run in to them. The Koidam Kaidon, Vod 'Koidam, soundly defeated the troop after they attacked. After the battle he requested an audience with the Kaidon. It was rumored that Vod had information pertaining to the whereabouts of the Fallen.
Vena and Cyla stood on the top of a two story roof, looking down on the street down which the Koidam representatives would be marching.
It was tradition for the head instructor of a Keep to select his best student to spar with a visiting warrior. The visiting warrior was often a close relative of the visiting leader.
"There, you see Vena? The Koidams have arrived." Cyla raised her arm and pointed down the wide street, where ten Sangheili warriors were marching, holding their heads high.
Vena noticed that one was slightly shorter than the others. "Who's that short one?"
Cyla squinted a bit, staring at the individual. "I think that's the nephew of Vod 'Koidam. It is likely he who will be dueling against Ysar 'Ondir."
Ysar 'Ondir himself stood at Nadi 'Andal's shoulder. The young Sangheili looked to be the same age as Vod's young relative, and of about the same height. He was, however, slightly bulkier.
Vod strode up to Nadi 'Andal. "I request entrance to the keep."
"Who shall fight for you?" Came the curt reply.
"My nephew, Dorod 'Koidam." Vod said, and stepped aside. Dorod stepped forward, holding a long staff in his hand and calmly observing Ysar.
Nadi 'Andal gestured to the Sangheili at his side, who also wielded a staff. "Ysar 'Ondir requests that you fight him, Dorod 'Koidam."
"I accept Ysar's challenge." Dorod said.
The bystanders formed a wide circle around the two combatants, wide enough so that Cyla and Vena could still watch. Vena was most intrigued. She had seen her brothers and other young males fighting in the woods, but she'd never seen two almost fully-grown trained warriors going at it.
Ysar held his staff at an angle in front of him, while Dorod held his in a close guard at his right. They shuffled, circling the other, looking for a weakness.
Suddenly Dorod charged forward and swung a blow parallel to Ysar's staff. Ysar blocked it easily and twisted, catching Dorod's staff in his. He spun, attempting to knock Dorod off balance, but the smaller Sangheili's legs simply went limp. He fell, pulling Ysar to the ground with him.
Ysar landed hard on Dorod, who grunted but still managed to headbutt Ysar, stunning him for one crucial moment. He then took his right hand off his staff and grabbed his opponent in a headlock and twisted.
Ysar managed to wriggle free and rolled to face his opponent. Dorod didn't even wait to fully stand up. He pushed off the ground, catching Ysar in the stomach. He brought back a fist and sank it in to the other Sangheili's gut. Ysar's breath left his body with a whoosh. The next blow landed on his nose, shattering the thin bone.
Dorod's opponent went down hard, and the Sangheili warrior held his staff to Ysar's neck.
"Do you yield?"
Dorod straightened and held out his hand to Ysar. The floored Sangheili took it and rose.
"You fight well, Dorod 'Koidam."
"As do you, Ysar 'Ondir."
Vena had watched the whole thing with wide eyes.
"Are you alright, Vena?"
The little one simply nodded as she watched the Koidam congregation enter the keep.
0240 HOURS, FEBRUARY 23rd, 2569 (UNSC MILITARY CALENDAR)
Vena heard the front close again. Autel and Cyla had left, leaving only the large, armored stranger. Human, if she didn't miss her guess. She'd never seen one before. The little Sangheili female walked calmly out in to the middle of the room.
The human turned toward her. She saw the numbers on his shoulder, and just... knew his name. No asking, nothing. She just knew it.
He spoke, his voice deep and unwavering. It was empty, not full of emotion and pride like virtually every Sangheili's voice.
"You're Vena 'Vadam."
Vena tilted her head. "And you're Spartan D339. Wings."
He twitched. "How do you know that." Not a question, a demand. He didn't like that.
"I saw it." She walked across the room towards him, and he crouched a bit, coming to her eye level. It was then that Vena realized just how small he was compared to other Sangheili, roughly a full head and a half shorter. He still sounded much, much deadlier.
"Really." He said.
Wings didn't have his helmet on. Vena held out her three fingered hand and ran it down Wings' face. His flesh was interesting. It didn't have the hardness of Sangheili scales, nor the toughness. It was smooth, soft.
"What did you tell him?" He asked as she pulled her hand back, letting it fall to the side.
"Only that you would be important in his life. And you would only be important if he met you."
She turned and sat in a chair. Wings straightened.
"You're not just what you were made to be, a warrior. You aren't just a weapon that was forged. Your mind is what will touch others, keep them safe, change the course of their lives. Change a culture, even. You have at your hands the power to shape minds, to meld them to your will. Even I cannot possibly see what you will accomplish. You will even shape my life.
"So you see, what makes you special is not your fighting or your leadership. It is what you can do with your mind."
Wings didn't move. "But I've only been trained to fight and lead. How can I be a politician at the same time?"
"You've been given the tools. Now you have to learn to use them. All you have to do-"
"Is be discontent with the way things are."
Vena smiled. So he understood. She didn't. Yet. "Yes."
Wings stood straight. "Thank you, Vena 'Vadam. I won't forget this."
And he walked out.
0231 Hours, FEBRUARY 24th, 2569 (UNSC Military Calendar)
Vena awoke with a start. She heard two voices outside. One sounded like her father, and the other like Wings.
"The others will have your head for this!
"I have found others willing to help."
"And how do you know they won't turn on you the moment you reveal your plan to them?"
"They didn't give me any sign of such a thing."
"You know I cannot help you."
There was a short pause.
"I don't want you to help me."
The door opened, and Wings walked in.
"Vena?" He said in to the darkness. Vena walked out in to the front room.
"What is it?"
Wings turned to Autel. "You really don't have a problem with me doing this?"
The warrior snorted. "I'll only have a problem if you get caught, because then you will both die."
"Then there is no problem."
"What is going on?" Vena asked, cutting in to the ensuing silence.
"My friend wants to train you how to fight." Autel said.
Vena couldn't help her eyes widening slightly, but she still had to ask: "Why?"
"Because I'm not content with the way your race is heading." The Spartan said, turning back to her. "I have some ideas on what will happen if it doesn't change.
"Unfortunately, I'm going to have to break some backs to do that. Starting with yours."
0300 Hours, APRIL 22th, 2570 (UNSC Military Calendar)
"Again." Wings' voice was flat and devoid of emotion. Pitiless.
Vena didn't even stop to take a breath. She ignored the pain in her wrist and slipped the protective plate back over her hand. She looked into the Spartan's eyes, not moving. He too was watching her, but while she kept a cautious stance, he was very casual. He had used very little effort during their practice, despite having been continuing nonstop for over a unit.
One of his arms dropped half an inch. Vena darted forward, raising her fist and aiming at the center of his rib cage. Wings' hand came up with surprising speed, clamping hard onto her wrist again, and twisted.
"Your opponent will try to trick you," he said coolly, letting go as she stumbled back, clenching her teeth to fight the pain. "It's more important to use your own strengths rather than his weaknesses."
If the Jiralhanae really are that intelligent, she thought, but didn't speak out loud. She looked up—
The human's fist connected hard with Vena's face, sending her sprawling. She tried to heave herself back up, wiping the blood off her cheek, when a lance of pain shot through her arm. She let out a cry of agony. It felt as if one of her bones had dislodged.
"You will not be given the chance to recover in actual combat," Wings said, impervious as ever.
If I can best him, then it would be unlikely anyone else will be a match for me. She used her other hand to punch him in the side, when he caught her fist. His fingers pushed against hers. Swiftly, silently, Vena used his grip as leverage and headbutted the Spartan. For the first time, he let go.
Breathing erratically, she looked at him, trying to relocate her wristbones. She knew he had let her attack back, but could tell he was impressed nonetheless. The blow hadn't left so much as a mark on his forehead, and his tone of voice sounded as though he hadn't just been hit in the face. "I think we're all done for today. You should return to your quarters now."
0300 Hours, APRIL 23rd, 2570 (UNSC Military Calendar)
Vena hit the ground yet again, breathing raggedly.
"Get up." The impassive voice said again. "Being tired is simply your body's way of telling your mind that enough is enough. You haven't had enough. The pain is simply what you get for not stretching after last night."
The young Sangheili straightened. Her muscles were burning from the repeated exertions, a pain exacerbated by how her muscles had tightened over the night. She hadn't done her stretches to loosen them up, and now she was paying the price.
"Come on, get up and try again."
Vena straightened just in time to see Wings' foot whistling toward her ribs. Reflexively she reached out for it and missed, receiving a glancing blow to the ribs.
"Don't aim for the foot. Aim ahead of it." He hauled back again.
This time Vena took his advice, aiming her grab just ahead of the incoming foot. She caught it and twisted. It was enough to send any human over. Wings just went with it and landed on his feet.
"Good. Don't take so long to do the twist next time. Again."
She practiced the counter for the next hour. Her reward for a successful counter was a simple nod and an urge to do it again; her punishment a full force kick in the rib cage, followed by cold displeasure.
For what felt like the millionth time she'd done the move since they'd begun, Vena managed to grab the Spartan's foot and upturn him. He almost hit the ground before he caught himself and flipped upright.
"Good, you're starting to get it right. Take five."
Vena leaned against a tree to catch her breath, then walked over to the river to drink some water.
When she got back from her drink Wings reached in to one of the many duffel bags he brought with him and pulled out a plasma rifle. He saw her look of glee; she'd been pining to start weapons training for months. However, he'd repeatedly told her: "You should be in full control of your body before you add anything to it."
"We're not going to fire these for a bit." Wings said. "First, you have to learn how to strip down and repair your weapon. Most Sangheili don't have to worry about that since they're never too far from resupply. You, however, will not be a standard warrior. You will be an assassin, using whatever tools you have at your disposal whether they be plasma, projectile, or even your hands and feet. So, first you learn how to take this apart and put it back together again. If it works, then we move on. If it doesn't, then you start again."
As it turned out, a plasma rifle was not a simple thing to take apart, and it was certainly no easier to put it back together. After many failures and the better part of two hours, she finally got it working again.
"Good. Time for some target practice. Mastering weapons is like mastering a language. Once you master one, then the rest get easier and easier."
The next several hours were spent practicing with the plasma rifle. By the end of the day, Vena was able to hit a moving target at 200 meters and could get a new battery in the weapon in less than thirty seconds.
"I've had that rifle customized." Wings told her. "It has pop-up sights for more accurate shots and a safety on the left side of the weapon. Take it home, but make sure it's safed."
Vena nodded and responded with a short: "Alright." Wings had insisted that they not have military formalities in their conversations.
That night she remembered to do her stretches.
0527 Hours, APRIL 23rd, 2570 (UNSC Military Calendar)
Vena had finished reassembling the plasma rifle, after firing two whole batteries at various moving and unmoving targets, just as Sanghelios' sun appeared on the very edge of the horizon, casting a gold beam of light through the gaps between the trees and their leaves. Vena always had loved seeing the sun rise, though she never did know why. Perhaps it was just the feeling of freedom she felt when she saw it, or perhaps it was like a lot of things; she simply did not know about it.
The young Sangheili slotted in a third - and her last - battery for her morning practice session. She had gone through another hand to hand session with Wings earlier that morning, and was quite sore from it. But she already felt stronger, a closer to what she would become.
She'd known what she would become. She'd known it for a long time. For her this was simple, it was easy. There was little complaint about the harshness of the training, the sheer brutally that Wings showed her when she failed, and cold indifference when she succeeded. Her reward would be beyond compare...
But what did that mean? In the end, what would her life mean to this universe? Her grandmother had been a Seer of Sanghelios, one of those said to be able to see glimpses of the future. Vena knew what she would become, but she did not know what that would mean. Wings was convinced that she would be the savior of her race, a bright light to usher in a new age. But she knew that others would see her as nothing more than a demon, no better than vermin to be trod upon and then scraped off the boot with a look of disgust.
Regardless of how others felt about it, Vena knew which one she'd rather be. She'd have every tool at her disposal to make sure it happened. All she had to do was make sure that she knew how to use them.
1458 Hours, 23rd August, 2571(UNSC Military Calendar)
"Alright, Vena, Stel, your mission is simple. Infiltrating a Covenant Separatist base to recover some important data." Wings said as he pulled up a base's schematics.
"Why are we infiltrating one of our own bases?" Vena asked.
"That's for me to know and for me only." Wings answered. "You will head into the base disguised as a Trainee named Dal 'Raman. We'll be adding some authenticity to your look with a couple of scars, so Stel's going to have put on a couple of fake scars on you to make you like just like him. Because of your obvious gender differences, you will have to be careful to remove any threats. However, do not kill anyone unless absolutely necessary. I think you know what that means."
Vena nodded. "I understand."
As the two Sangheili moved off towards the base, Stel sized Vena up.
So this was Autel's daughter. She was fairly tall, and was rather quiet. She didn't seem nervous at all about their task, and the look in her pale eyes was rather mysterious. Although he himself felt the years that layered his age, she was bursting with youth and radiance in contrast. A proper warrior, Stel thought. He was glad he was one of the few that his nephew trusted with the secret of her training.
Stel had left Vena approximately ten minutes ago. She was now on her own, and in unmapped territory. She gave herself a quick pat-down, ensuring that her gear was still secure. While she was skinnier and curvier than male Sangheili, her suit was fitted so that it filled out her frame so that she appeared more masculine. With the addition of the armor plates of a minor domo, she looked exactly like most other Sangheili in the facility.
That was all moot now. Stel had successfully navigated her through the facility, but now she was in an area that was for authorized personnel only.
There was a noise down the hall. Vena froze and listened. There were three individuals coming her way. She had to get out of the way, fast.
Vena glanced up. There were several pipes running the length of a fairly high ceiling. She turned and leaped at the wall, then kicked off of it and latched on to on of the pipes. The young Sangheili swung up and over the pipe carefully so that she was situated on top of it.
Three heavily armed Sangheili marched under the pipe. They were discussing mating rights in a forest to the south.
After they passed Vena dropped silently to the floor and moved down the hall. She'd memorized the route from Wings' diagrams, and knew exactly where to go.
Vena reached a "T" shaped intersection and checked both directions. They were clear. She took the right hallway.
A gadget on her waist hummed. Again Vena froze in place. She reached down and pulled out a set of goggles. Vena strapped them on and activated them. The world went a dull shade of green split by white beams.
Vena flicked the goggles over to electromagnetic detection, and traced several dozen wires to their source. It turned out to be a box on the far side of them.
With a series of slow and careful movements Vena navigated the beams, and then examined the box more carefully. Pulling out a metal bar she pried the bottom of it open and placed a chip inside. As she watched, the beams deactivated. Vena replaced the bottom of the case and moved through the door.
She ran slap-bang in to a single guard, who was taken aback for a second. But that was all the time Vena needed.
Vena bowled in to the larger Sangheili and pulled a tranquilizer off her belt. As they both tumbled to the ground she slipped the needle through his jumpsuit. The warrior tensed and then went still.
Vena let out a satisfied growl as she tossed the empty syringe in to a nearby incinerator, then dragged the body in to a nearby crate.
After two more hours of avoiding detection and several close calls, Vena arrived at the mainframe. There was a single Zealot standing guard who didn't look too happy. She knew he was just itching for a fight.
She couldn't afford to give him one.
Vena shimmied up a vertical pipe and followed it as it became horizontal. She twisted up and managed to wrap both her legs around the pipe so that she was dangling upside-down. Reaching in to her belt, Vena pulled out a dark blue ribbon. As her hand made contact with the material it fizzled to life.
Vena glanced down, easily thirty meters to the floor, and let go.
The Zealot never knew what hit him. As Vena flipped she spun the fabric around the Zealot's neck and pulled him down. He was already unconscious from and electrical shock before she hit the ground and he landed on top of her.
With a grunt Vena pushed the Zealot off of her and buried him under a pile of cables. He'd be out for a couple of hours.
Vena approached the mainframe and pushed a chip in to one of the slots.
A hologram sprang to life of a human man.
"That took long enough." The hologram said. "Beginning data mine now."
"You're an AI?" Vena said, slightly surprised.
"Yes. Your AI. And I've been instructed to help you. Please, no distractions. I need to concentrate." The hologram flickered off.