The grand trees flew by as Trak ran as fast as he could through the forest. Thorny vines lashed out against his les, thicker branches splintered against his chest, yet Trak did not falter. His racing body was nothing compared to his mind. He had come here to end what he had started all those years ago, and when the opportunity had arisen he had stumbled and fallen. From the gloom another branch raced forwards, Trak didn’t have time to react. It smashed against his chest, breaking clean off the tree. But Trak had been going to fast, his armour, capable of withstanding a hundred shots cracked down the chest plate, a testament to how fast he was running. Ripping the armour from his upper body, Trak breathed deeply, trying to combat the growing pain from within his body. Ahead of him lay the forest, ahead lay the Great Journey. Ahead lay the end that Trak so desperately wanted.
“Sir, orders?” a marine questioned, crouching next to his commander, around them a dozen other men all stood with their weapons at the ready. They had already made the grisly discovery of the fallen elites, some men shocked at how many had fallen so quickly.
“Pull the team out, Patterson. Return to the city and search for survivors,” Cain replied after a moments thought.
“What about the elite Sir? We should hunt it down.” The marine looked slightly shocked at his CO, letting this elite get away.
“I’ll track it down, Lieutenant,” Cain answered, “This is personal.”
“Aye Sir,” the marine grinned as he saluted, “happy hunting.”
Returning the salute Cain look out into the forest, the path of destruction left by Trak would be easy to follow. “Move out,” the marine shouted before leaving Cain alone in the darkness.
The night air was oppressive. The city beyond burned a brilliant orange casting strange shadows throughout the woods that seemed to flicker and dance, creating enemies where there were none, making every corner a danger and a refuge.
Cain moved along the path quickly but quietly. Debris littered the path and crunched lightly as Cain stepped ahead. His eyes roved over the newly created track, they looked for one thing and one thing only.
Cain looked up from the path, he had entered a clearing. Standing upright he quickly glanced over the forest walls, the clearing was at least twenty feet wide, in the middle stood a large flat topped rock. As Cain’s eyes locked onto the rock his memory flashed back, suddenly illuminating the dark night. This had been where he first met Trak. Raising his rifle to his shoulder, Cain stepped into the clearing, moving the gun from side to side.
As Cain reached the centre he rested his rifle on the rock and pivoted it to get a better look at the other side of the clearing. A breeze ruffled the trees around the edges and Cain turned slowly to face the demon standing against a backdrop of fire.
“Hello Cain,” Trak whispered to the night. As Cain stood he let the rifle hang limply at his side.
“Trak,” he merely replied, noting the scar burnt into the naked chest of his brother. Trak raised a clawed hand and ran it over the burnt flesh.
“So they took you back,” Cain finally announced, “Tell me, did it hurt when they branded you? Because it hurt me, Trak, when I found out my own brother killed my family! You burnt me to my soul!”
Cain’s hands shook, the rifle fell to the ground with a soft thud.
“You think this mark is the only pain I have felt,” Trak countered, staring into Cain’s eyes, “my father was on that ship Cain. Your fleet blew him out of the sky. My brother was with me, my blood brother, and you killed him in front of me. I watched my brother bleed to death, shot by a coward!”
“From my point of view you two didn’t seem to be getting along so great,” Cain shouted back, the anger racking every nerve in his body. Without warning he lunged forwards, drawing a six-inch combat knife from his boot. Trak did not react in time, as he stood in shock Cain plunged the blade deep into his chest, centred upon the Mark of Shame. Staggering backwards Trak slowly drew out the blade, his purple blood coating the shiny metal.
“You always did cheat,” Trak smirked, staggering backwards. As Cain approached victoriously Trak slipped his own blade from his belt. Flinging it forwards Cain spun just as the blade passed him, clattering against the stone. He brought his hands up and balled them into fists. “Now we’re even,” he grinned.
Trak moved towards Cain, putting his arms into a traditional fighting stance. Cain slowly moved clockwise, as did Trak, just waiting for the first blow. Cain shot forwards, a decoy left hook, Trak attempted to block it, but was hit full force by a powerful kick to the right knee. As he fell backwards he kicked out with his left leg, smacking Cain in his groin. After a brief pause Trak spun upwards, his recovered blade palmed in his hand. Moving towards Cain, Trak kicked him over. Cain rolled over once more though and brought his rifle to bear. A flash of emotion appeared on Traks face as Cain pulled the trigger. The three shot burst tore into Trak’s chest, the exit wounds bursting majestically to life on his back. As Trak fell forwards he leaned his body towards Cain in a last ditch attempt. Raising his arms to take the weight Cain caught Traks shoulders; and a knife to the chest. Pushing Trak over Cain looked at the hilt stuck into his breast bone. A coughing fit came over him, blood trickling down his cheeks. Next to him Trak lay motionless on the ground.
The light from the burning city faded, the screams and roaring fires died down and Cain stared up at a crystal clear sky. The stars twinkled at him as he lay there, life slipping away by each moment.
The view was suddenly interrupted, through the murky fogs Cain saw a familiar face look down at him.
“Sir! Sir, can you hear me. Medic!” Patterson shouted into the trees, his voice seemed very faint. “Sir, listen to me, we found your wife and kids, they were wondering around the outskirts of the town, they say an elite took them, said his name was Track or something like that and he wanted to make sure they were safe.”
Rolling onto his side against the lieutenants’ wishes Cain grinned at the elite beside him. “Patterson, pay attention, this elite is to be taken care off very well, do you understand me?”
The marine just sat dumb-founded at his superior. “Sir, are you sure? I mean, this is… it’s an elite!” he stammered.
“This here is Trak lieutenant, and you WILL make sure he survives, I promised him I would take care of him a long time ago” Cain whispered, before he lapsed into unconsciousness.
Trak stirred in his dreams, oh how familiar this feels his mind whispered to itself. The darkness pressed around him, it felt like a snug blanket his mother would pull around him as they sat watching the suns setting on his home world. Subconsciously Trak sighed, life would never be the same. As he moved once more the pain became more evident, his chest felt as though it had been branded once more. Trak recalled the events of his encounter with Cain, how long had passed since then? A night, a day, a week?
But now the darkness was beginning to fall away, his comforting blanket was been ripped away, replaced by cold needles digging away at his flesh. The world beyond reached out and spoke to him, Trak listened yet didn’t comprehend. Let darkness come back he pleaded to his Gods, but every moment he felt reality slipping back into drive.
Trak saw light through his eyelids, the brightness burning his sensitive eyes. Now he could hear the voices properly, the alien tongue quickly deciphered by his mind.
“Tell the general it’s waking,” one said.
“Ugly bastard,” another stated coldly.
“Why the hell would Johnson went this thing kept alive?” another puzzled.
Flexing his mandibles Trak breathed in deeply, the pain was still there, deep in his chest, but nowhere near as bad as after the fight. Now he opened his eyes, the bright medical spotlights shining down upon his face. Raising a hand Trak found his arms restrained at his side. Trak tugged once more but the bonds held tight, great he subconsciously thought, he was a prisoner now. Tilting his head to side, away from the glare of the lights Trak opened his eyes fully and looked around the room. Two marines stood by the only door, their rifles aimed directly at him. A medic was leaning over a desk, doing something Trak couldn’t make out.
“Wwwk… water,” Trak gasped, trying to form the words properly. The two marines turned to face each other, their looks amusing Trak to no end. The medic though placed a small plastic cup against Traks mandibles and poured the liquid down slowly, pausing to allow Trak to rest.
“Thank you,” Trak replied as the medic walked away. Trak lay his head back against the table and closed his eyes, he was going no where soon.
Two days had passed and Trak was still bound to the table. The guards changed every few hours, each with differing opinions although the consensus seemed to be that the ugly lump in front of them should be put to death.
The same medic remained throughout though, becoming more trusting towards Trak. As the young woman reached over Trak to take a blood sample he struck. He had been planning this moment since he first woke. He knew he could never be freed, that the humans would want to keep him; for their own purposes.
The nurse screamed as Trak tore his arm from the restraint and wrapped it against her neck. Wrenching his other arm free the two guards aimed there guns at the duo, but couldn’t shoot. Whispering to the medic, she reached over and undid the two straps around his ankles. Swinging his feet from the table Trak looked at the two marines.
“Lower your weapons and I will let you all live,” he stated matter of factly to the group. They glanced at each other, yet still held firm. “Very well,” Trak finished.
He pushed the woman at the two men with all the force he could muster, she flew violently into the marines as they caught her. Before they could even think of retaliating Trak jumped and grabbed hold of two bars suspended from the ceiling used for curtain rails. Swinging his body forwards he kicked the two men in their chests and sent them sprawling to the ground. As Trak walked forwards and stepped over the two men he looked at the medic and smiled, “Thank you for helping me recover,” he said softly before leaving the room and entering the corridor.
“Johnson. Johnson, wake the hell up,” someone screeched. Rolling over in his slumber Cain was interrupted by a sharp whack to the head. “Jesus Christ,” he mumbled, sitting up and rubbing his right cheek.
“Sorry Son, but you didn’t wanna’ get up,” General Harrison said, “Listen Cain, we’ve known each other since before you joined, I know all about Trak, remember. Why the hell did he turn up here again?”
“Long story,” Cain said, sitting on the edge of the bed, “and no I can’t fill you in sir,” Cain apologised.
“Well it’s too late for that, he just did a runner,” Harrison sighed.
“What!” Cain stood bolt upright before collapsing back onto the bed.
“Easy son, you ain’t goin’ no where for a while, that knife damn near killed you, another millimetre and I’d be talking at your eulogy.”
“What… what happened,” panted Cain.
“We brought him in like you asked, seemed he didn’t like been locked up though,” Harrison said sitting on a chair next to the bed, “he injured two guards and scared the hell out of a medic, but nothing serious. Our men chased him into the woods and I’ve got search patrols out looking for him. Shouldn’t be long.”
“Call them off,” Cain part asked, part ordered.
“And why the hell should I do that?” Harrison enquired.
“You know as well as I do that he isn’t an enemy, he took out a whole squad of elites for us sir. I was just fulfilling a promise bringing him here. Just let him go sir, please,” Cain implored looking at his commanding officers face, “You know you’d never find him,” he finished with a grin.
“You two always were two of a kind,” Harrison said with a wide grin, “I’ll call my boys off, but any, and I mean any reports of an elite attacking people and he’ll be gone quicker than that,” said Harrison smacking his hand on the table next to him.
“Affirmative Sir,” Cain said, lying back on the bed.