Trak slept solidly, his first uninterrupted sleep since he had returned. But they were not restful, his mind flicked through his life, with the humans and before. The emotions came quickly in his weakened condition, he let them flow for he could not stop them.
Sometimes a memory would swim to the turbulent surface of Traks mind, his moaning lost against the crashing of the waves. And then it would fall, fall into the deep abyss of his mind.
Trak sat up suddenly on the small bed. His skin was dry, his limbs trembled and he took slow breaths. Humans. The word filled Trak with emotions, but not pleasant ones as would have been the case a month before. Now it was hate, pulsing through every vein in every part of Traks body. They had made him weak, taken him from his real home and now tormented him when he had returned. They hadn’t cared about him, Trak mused, they just wanted an ally, anyone and anything they could use. They were weaker, and they had brought him down to their level!
Standing up Trak walked over to a Sangheili sized dummy, used for placing armour when not in usage. Trak struck out with his left hand, felt the sore muscles protest, but continued. He chopped with each hand in turn, high and low, left and right. His upper body burned, every muscle felt as if it had been torn, but still Trak continued. When his arms fell limply to his side he began with his legs, spinning and kicking with all his energy. Eventually Trak lay back against the smooth cold wall, the soft glow emitted a comfortable reminder of home.
The door hissed open and Omabi peered in cautiously. His face widened in shock when he saw no body on the bed, but soon relief flooded across his mandibles as he spied Trak sitting in the shadows.
“I heard… noises. I thought you had fallen of your bed again,” he said slowly, looking at Traks heavy panting.
“I had not,” Trak replied coldly, unsure as to why he was acting so frostily.
“Brother,” Omabi said moving further into the room, “Why do you punish yourself so?”
Trak sighed lightly and looked up at his blood brother, “Because I must repay my sins against the Forerunner. Against the Prophets. Against everything and everyone I have ever known! I must, I will.”
“Do not punish yourself Trak, punish the humans, they were the ones who did this to you. Make them pay with their lives, not yours. Soon the prophets will judge you, but it seems you have already done that duty.”
“I was selfish,” Trak answered slowly, “Omabi, do you… do you think…”
“Ask me Trak.”
“Do you think the prophets will let me live?”
It was Omabi’s turn to look away, his lowering gaze gave Trak his answer.
“I deserve as much,” Trak whispered in his brothers’ ear as he walked past.
“Where are you going?” Omabi asked quickly.
“If I am to die in the next few days, I want to make sure I use them wisely,” Trak said without looking behind him.
“Wait for me then, I have not seen you since we joined the academy. You have much to tell me.”
“As do you.”
The ship was small by Covenant standards, designed with speed and agility in mind it had been stripped of everything but the essentials. A shame then thought Trak as he helped Omabi clear the main cargo bay to make room for their little spar. Omabi had wanted to know just how weak Trak had become, he had been able to beat him easily before he had even left to train for combat, now he would surely beat his brother into the Great Journey.
Trak finished shoving a large case of Ty’ rip into a corner and walked back to the centre of the room, slowly stretching his muscles, the adrenaline already building up in him. Omabi stood opposite him, slowly meditating before the fight. One of his eyes cracked open and he smirked at Trak.
“Are you sure you don’t want to use the wooden poles? You were always better with them,” he questioned.
“Only if you feel you need them,” Trak replied, his voice calm and cool. He was ready to beat his brother this time.
Omabi slowly lowered his hands to his side and glared at Trak, then muttering a few last words he moved forwards into the fighting stance. Trak did the same, but with no words spoken for he did not want to defile the Gods before his spar.
“Eh Nak!” screamed Omabi lunging forwards. His clawed hands came slashing through the air, Traks swiftly gliding in front of his chest deflecting the minor attacks. He gave a small chuckled and batted his brother back.
“Either I have gotten better, or you have gotten worse,” he said with his mandibles parted widely. “Or both,” he added finally.
Omabi simply sneered, “Just testing you dear brother, I wouldn’t want to harm you so early on.”
“You’re concerned for me. I’m touched. But do not let your restraint hold you back, strike me down like I know you want to. Unless you feel you can’t,” Trak finished with a wide grin.
Omabi came again, this time faster, the moves swifter and more complex. Trak spun to match his brothers’ attacks. Omabi’s attack was relentless, but Trak stood his ground slowly beating back the onslaught. Omabi’s arms dropped slightly and Trak struck lashing out against his chest. Omabi staggered back, but Trak moved forwards, now he was the attacker and it felt so good.
Omabi’s eyes widened, in shock or fear Trak did not know. All he cared about was beating his brother. Omabi dropped to his left knee and spun taking down Trak with one swift movement. But Trak did not let the manoeuvre get the better of him, he rolled on his back his legs a flurry of danger. Arching his back Trak righted himself and kicked out his own leg, Omabi’s kneecap buckled forwards naturally and his upper body lowered. Trak raised his tightly balled fist and shot it upwards, impacting against the descending head. Omabi flew backwards, his body crashing to the ground in front on Trak.
As Trak walked over slowly he surveyed his work. Amazing he thought, that all this time he was capable of being victorious, yet held back.
“I am sorry brother,” he said, reaching down to help Omabi up.
“Do not be, I lost honourably.”
“No, it is not that,” Trak continued, “I am sorry I let you all beat me before. I did not wish to fight when I was young, you must remember my reluctance to go to the training academy. Until father made me.”
“You mean, you could fight this well all along!” Omabi replied unbelieving.
Trak slowly nodded his head and turned towards the door leading to the rest of the ship, “But why?” his brothers voice echoed out.
“Why did you always let us win? You could of beaten me at any time. Why! Why did you not fight!” Omabi screamed now enraged at how his brother had played him for a fool.
“I told you!” Trak spat back, “I did not like the violence, that is why I left to join the humans! But now I have returned and I realise that true power comes from proving your worth, by earning your respect.”
Omabi hung his head slowly, “Then you have earned my respect,” he finally whispered.
“Wait until after my hearing before saying such things,” Trak softly replied.
“I will be a witness for you if you want brother,” Omabi said placing a long clawed hand on Traks small body, “It would be an honour.”
Trak knocked his head against Omabi’s before turning once more and retiring to his room.
Omabi had shone greatly in the eyes of the Gods, he now commanded a moderately sized fleet and had many victories under his belt. It was testament to his power that he was able to bring Trak from his punishers to the Prophets, if only to save him from more pain.
Omabi was given a spacious room on High Charity, his rank deserved no less. Trak though was thrown back into another dingy cell, the guards here even more brutal if that was possible. Leaning against the cold wall Trak thought ahead to his trial, Omabi could be his witness if the Prophets allowed it. Trak sighed, he was all alone in the prison block for the moment, no visitors were allowed and talking was punishable by burning.
The time finally came. Trak heard the distant sounds of many feet moving rapidly closer. Eventually the large doors opened and five elites walked in, flanked by two hunters. They all wore the ceremonial armour of the Prophets, deep black armour carved with intricate patterns emblazoned in fiery red hues.
As one of the elites de-activated the plasma screen the two hunters moved forwards, each taking an arm and pulling Trak from his hole. The lead elite stepped forwards in front of Trak, he took a long moment to study the weakened elite, disgust etched into every line of his face. Motioning with his hands two more elites stepped towards Trak, each placing a plasma ring around his wrists, there would be no escape. Turning on his heel the lead elite left the room, Trak and his guard following soundlessly.
They moved quickly through the hallways of High Charity, Trak received nothing but hateful glances from every member of the Covenant he passed. As to be expected he thought silently to himself. The party moved deeper into the bowels of the huge city, closer and closer to the Prophets lair. The guards here were more numerous, each carried an ornamental spear, its decoration old, its ability still sharp. Eventually after more than forty minutes Trak arrived outside the doors to the courtroom, his fate lying in wait on the other side.
The metallic doors slid away revealing a darkened room beyond. The two hunters released their grip and pushed Trak forwards. Almost tripping over he stumbled into the room and his eyes immediately began to adjust to the dim light. Behind him the two hunters and the remaining elites took up positions silently along the walls. Trak returned his gaze to the centre of the room where a thin light shone from the ceiling. Walking forwards he entered its narrow circumference and waited, his entire body trembling despite his best efforts to contain himself.
A figure slowly emerged from the darkness. The floating body crowned by an ornate headdress meant this could only be a prophet, and a High Prophet at that. Two more slowly emerged to the sides of the first, each smaller both in size and power. Trak dropped to one knee and looked towards the ground.
“Noble Prophets, I am at…” Trak began.
“Silence!” said the first prophet loudly, glaring down at the elite before him.
Trak hung his head even lower, but did not make a single sound, his breathing stopped, his heart stopped, event the thoughts in his mind became silenced by the prophets command.
“You come before us Basamme, a traitor, coward and murderer,” the prophet spoke out slowly, “That alone is enough to condemn you to death.”
Trak raised his head slightly so that he could just see the first prophet, surely they would let him have a final word.
“You stayed with the infidel humans,” the prophet continued, “to escape justice, but also, as was suggested by others, because you favour the humans. Is this so?”
Trak breathed in slowly before replying, “It was, your Excellency.”
“Was? What do you mean ‘was’?”
“In the context of my life, there was a point in which I did favour the humans to my own race.”
“Go on,” prompted the prophet.
“When I was young, just a child, I never did like the society I was born into. I… I felt it was harsh and unjust. But I was just a child,” Trak said quickly, “On my first mission the Mighty Forerunner decided to test my devotion to the Covenant. It was already weak, and I buckled easily under the pressure. For two years I stayed with the humans, learned their ways. And found them to be weak. I realised that all the faults I had found were not with my race, but theirs. One night three humans attacked me, I fought them off and killed two. The humans tried to punish me for it. I delivered justice and they condemned me for it. I hate them!” spat Trak finally.
“By the Gods,” one of the two other prophets exclaimed.
“Then you returned to us not out of goodwill, but fear of the humans,” the first prophet spoke. It was not a question.
“I could have slaughtered every human on that planet had I wanted to,” Trak said slowly, “but I knew that I must return to my people first.”
“And why is that?” the prophet asked, a curious gaze appearing on the weathered face.
“Because I had to show the Gods that my devotion had returned.”
“You return to us after butchering two units of fine warriors and expect us to take you back with open arms because you say you have found your devotion,” shouted the third prophet in anger and rage.
“Silence!” commanded the first prophet, only this time it was not directed at Trak. All three prophets became quiet for a long time, thinking of what to do with the elite before them.
“You are… truly unique,” the first prophet finally said aloud, “never before have we had such a case as yours. We will need you to prove your new found loyalty though.”
“As would be expected,” Trak replied quietly.
“And you shall have the Mark of Shame burnt upon your flesh,” the prophet finished.
“As would be… expected,” Trak said once more, his voice faltering slightly.
“Be gone now elite, and do not fail us again, or you shall feel the Gods true wrath.”
The two hunters slowly moved forwards, but Trak turned and walked towards them. He held out his hands and felt the two rings appear once more around his wrists. Heading along the corridors once more Trak knew that the worst was still to come, but he did not care. Soon he would be free to prove himself. He would find his father and brothers and make them see that he was not weak anymore. He would be strong, stand tall and fight harder than any other elite in history.
Trak arrived at the prison block once more. The head guard lifted the searing metal rod from its bed of glowing embers and flashed an evil grin at Trak. As the intense heat scarred Traks flesh for life he did not cry out or moan, he showed no pain. This was his first steps towards repaying his sins and he would take every opportunity he got.