Trak watched the boy move away and slowly the forest consumed him. After a long pause Trak slowly climbed down from the tree, with more grace this time. He made his way across the clearing to the rock and looked down at what the boy had left. It was a long rectangular bar, similar to one of his ration blocks. Carefully Trak picked it up and sniffed at it, it smelled unusual yet pleasing at the same time. He put it into his mandibles and bit down. Paper and foil squelched under his jaws and Trak pulled it out looking at the wrapping, how stupid, he had not removed it. The bar tasted much better now. It melted softly in his mouth and subdued the hunger in Traks stomach. For a while at least.
Trak lay back on his branch again, silently thanking the boy. Maybe he could show his gratitude later, if the boy came back. The night was dark and still. The wind flowed through the leaves like water. In the distance the rubble of the destroyed city stood as a monument to Traks past sins. He repented everything he had done, but maybe now he had a chance to repay it.
The morning light once again spilled onto Traks face. His side ached from being exposed for so long. The bandage had stopped the bleeding but it needed to be repaired soon. The morning dew made the grass wet and it crunched under foot as the boy returned once more. Trak was ready; he slid down the trunk and moved silently around the edge of the clearing. The boy reached the rock and looked at the missing bar, a smile wrapping around his face. He looked around slowly, speaking as he turned. “Please, come out. I want to know why you left. Please. I promise I won’t do anything.” He finally completed his 360 degrees turn and looked back at the rock, then Trak standing behind it. The boy jumped a bit, obviously surprised by Traks silent appearance, he recovered quickly though and moved towards the rock.
Trak too moved forwards. He held out the wrapper in his open hand and looked at the boy, “Thank you,” he said slowly. The boy smiled briefly but still kept his distance.
“Why did you let me go?” he finally questioned.
Trak answered quickly, “Because I do not wish to shed any more human blood. I have left the Covenant and will not return to it. May I ask you something?”
The boy looked even more shocked at this news, but hastily nodded to Trak.
“Why did you come back? Alone?”
It was the boys turn to answer and he took his time as if contemplating the consequences of his response, finally he said “Because you let me go. I had to know why. There was something different about you and I wanted to find out more. Do you understand what I’m trying to say elite?” Trak looked at himself, then back at the boy.
“I more than understand what you say, I feel the same way. My name is Trak Basamme and it is an honour to meet you human.”
The boy looked Trak straight in the eyes, his pale blue ones contrasting to Traks deep black slits.
Finally he spoke, “My name is Cain.”
“Cain,” repeated Trak, he moved forwards and put one hand on Cain’s shoulder.
Cain visibly flinched as the elite moved towards him, but stood his ground when the hand came down. Cain was nearly sixteen and the same height as the elite in front of him, he returned the gesture and then took a step backwards. Trak sat on the rock and looked at his new brother.
“How come you’re different?” asked Cain looking down.
“I was born an anomaly. My egg did not properly develop, but the Prophets decried that I could live. It was my fathers idea to send me here. He said he wanted me to prove myself. But I know he wanted me to either succeed or fail.”
“Whoa,” replied Cain stunned by the harsh nature of Covenant society, “and I thought it was bad enough losing my parents.”
“You have no parents?” questioned Trak. Cain looked hurt by this statement, it cut him deeply.
“They didn’t make it out of the city. I don’t know whether they were killed by your forces or the bomb. I was crying over them when you fell from that tree.”
Trak looked away, he had never seen his mother and had hated his father since birth, but at least he knew they were alive. Losing parents that loved you must be much worse.
“I am sorry for your loss Cain” Trak said quietly. Cain hung his head and nodded slowly.
“So what are you going to do now?” he finally asked.
“I do not know. The covenant forces are leaving. Hopefully I will be able to stay on this planet. I hope to make peace with the humans here.”
“Well you’ve already made peace with me,” replied Cain with a small smile, “I can help you. If you want.”
Trak looked out over his new brother, “You would really help me?”
Cain nodded then moved forwards, pulling his rucksack from off his shoulders. “Here have this,” Cain said handing another chocolate bar to Trak. Trak took it gratefully and began eating it, after removing the wrapper this time.
“So where do you live?” asked Trak in between bites.
“There’s a community shelter not too far from here. I’m staying there until I can find somewhere else. I don’t have any relatives so I can’t really go anywhere else. I’m taking it you live here?”
Trak nodded while finishing of his bar. “I promised that I would not go near human inhabited areas. I keep my word.”
“What if you were invited?” ventured Cain.
Trak looked puzzled, what was Cain getting at.
“I mean, if I were to bring you back to town with me, would you come?” Cain asked.
Trak simply replied, “Why would I come?”
Cain looked at Trak, searching the dark eyes for any clue as to what the elite was thinking.
“What do you mean,” he finally inquired, perplexed by the elites response.
“If I were to come back with you what would stop them from killing me on sight? And even if they did accept me, would they ever truly stop doubting my true intents?”
“You can’t stay out here forever,” argued Cain, “and if you did come back I would make sure nothing happened. You have my word.”
Trak said nothing for a very long time. Cain just sat on the rock and stared at the elite.
After what seemed like an eternity Trak spoke up, “I just wanted to be treated like an equal. I hated my old life. The prophets, the commanders, my father. I’ve been given another chance and I don’t want to squander it. Can you promise me my life?”
Cain thought for a moment before saying “No, your life is in your hands, not mine. I will protect you though.”
Cain left some time later. Trak sat back in his tree thinking over what they had said. They had discussed human and covenant habits, what they thought was going to happen both in the war and on this planet and also on Cain’s proposition. Cain was going to come back tomorrow, Trak had only a few units to decide what he was going to do. He could always hide, but what kind of life was that.
Then again he would live. Walking into a human town sounded like suicide. He was unarmed, with only a single boy who could just be leading him into a trap. But if the humans did accept him, eventually, he could join them.
Trak had to know. He had to know just what he was going to be walking into. Moving quickly through the night he followed the direction Cain had taken and soon came across a large town. Many buildings were damaged but lights were on in some of the buildings. Slowly circling the town Trak found the large gym Cain had talked about, he could hear movement inside. Scaling the walls he peered in from one of the high windows and saw hundreds of humans inside, all on small beds, slowly sleeping.
Returning to the ground Trak let out a slow sigh. The humans here seemed peaceful. Maybe Cain could pull of his offer. A bush rustled on the other side of the town, Trak caught it with his better hearing. He put it down to the wind at first, but then feeling no breeze at all in the still night cautiously moved forwards.
The bushes moved again, more violently this time. Two low-lying shrubs parted and moved aside. Trak hid behind a small vehicle to watch. He saw the unmistakable flicker of an invisibility cloak. The Covenant had not left. And they hadn’t sided with the humans either.
Trak lay back against the cool metal of the vehicle. The Covenant had come to this town, for him or the humans he did not know. But one thing was for sure, he had to protect them. Flexing his fingers he silently moved around the town behind the warriors. They did not hear him as he got closer and closer to them. They were spread out loosely, Trak watching them by their flickering outlines. One warrior was staying behind, the rear guard. Trak moved cautiously behind the lone warrior. Springing forwards he wrapped one hand around the elites neck, cutting of any chance of shouting for help. Using his other hand for leverage he twisted the elites head and heard the reassuring crack of the spinal cord. He gently took the elites weight and moved him over into the bushes. Taking the camouflage unit first Trak looked over the body. The former warrior carried two rifles and four plasma grenades, but Trak found his favourite weapon, the small blade. Activating the camouflage he fell in behind the others. Within minutes he had taken out another but just as he was going to fulfil his third kill, to balance his kills of humans, another elite turned around. Trak was caught mid motion, the elite he was about to impale spinning around and striking Trak to the ground. Trak had no choice, he pulled up both of his rifles and let the blinding plasma fly into the air passing through the elite on its way. The rest of the team turned to face Trak but he was already moving away laying down suppressing fire as he retreated.
Shouts were heard from the buildings, doors slamming open and men rushing around. Trak knew he could not be seen by either force, he was on no mans land. Peeking out from beside the corner of a building Trak looked for the others, his active camouflage was slowly recharging, he had to survive for at least another minute. Looking up he calculated the building to be no more than two stories high, child’s play he thought as he scaled it with ease. Looking down over the edge Trak saw three warriors standing below also waiting for their camouflage to recharge. Taking in a deep breath Trak jumped and spun in the air. He landed on the knees of one warrior shattering them downwards. Spinning he slashed the soldiers throat. The other two turned and opened fire but Trak dived. The plasma splashed against the two warriors, there own weapons killing each other. Trak slowly came back and looked down on the dying elites. One moved towards its weapon, Trak kicked the rifle away and then kicked the elite in the face. It rolled over and did not move again. Restocking his weapons Trak moved on, there would be more to fight.
From the far side of the town a cry went out, not in anguish but in pain. It was cut short, the sound a horrible choking gurgle. Trak moved quickly to the source of the sound. A man lay on the ground his projectile weapon lying next to him covered in red blood. Trak turned away from the site and looked around. The elites must have moved on. Thinking quickly Trak had a good idea where they would go, the most populated area, somewhere the humans could not run. They were going to the gym. To the women and children. To Cain.
The gym was just up ahead, its tall walls stretching up into the darkness of the sky. Every shadow cast a place to hide, a place death could lurk. Trak watched closely, the elites had to be here somewhere. One of the small windows at the top of the walls slowly opened, then another and another. They were going in. And so was Trak.
He leaped up the wall, a full ten feet in the air. He caught the bottom lip of the window and threw himself in. His active camouflage engaged and he quickly scanned the room. Nothing stirred. Suddenly bodies began to scream and fall. Plasma erupted and the carnage began. Trak took up aim and shot two of the elites dead within a minute. Slipping out his blade he began searching for anymore. The camouflage was beginning to fail, both Traks and the warriors. A gold elite came into view and Trak faltered. It was time to prove himself.
A blue elite came up behind Trak. Trak simply threw him over his head and impaled the blade in its eye. Pulling it out he wiped the purple blood on his armour, his eyes still set firmly on the gold elite. Faj Zhuy stared angrily at the elite before him. He knew who it was, Trak Basamme, he had slayed his entire team. And now he had almost obliterated Fajs. Snarling his deep voice Zhuy brought out his plasma sword and ignited it, the fiery glow reflected in Traks deep eyes. Trak ran at Zhuy and jumped clear over his head. He had to take this fight outside where the humans would not get hurt.
Standing before the doors Trak turned and faced the elite, “Fight me if you dare. Your team were weak. They must of got it from you!” The insult worked, Zhuys face became even more twisted, he roared and charged after Trak.
Trak bolted through the doors and kept on running, the gold elite right behind him. He was slower, Trak knew that. Soon he could feel the gold elite right behind him. He corrected his path and jumped. Hitting a large pole with a light attached Trak jumped again and spun over the elites head. Sticking out his knife Trak drew a deep line across Fajs helmet. Rolling from the impact Trak quickly picked himself up again to face the elite.
The residents of the town came out, spilling from many buildings to watch the battle. Some still held weapons but did not shoot, they didn’t know what was going on. Cain pushed his way to the front of the crowds and gasped in horror when he saw what was happening. He instantly recognised his new friend. “Trak!” he shouted out. Trak spun at the sound of his name, he spotted Cain, but his monetary lapse of concentration gave the elite enough time to lunge forwards and drive his sword through Traks stomach. Trak crumpled to the ground, the warrior standing over him sneering. Cain looked on in horror at what he had done, and then shouted again “Shoot him! The gold one! Now!” Even though he was fifteen his orders were obeyed. Faj came under fire from a barrage of weapons. His armour shattered and purple blood blossomed from his skin. Within seconds he was gone.
Cain ran forwards, dropping to his knees by his brother.
“Oh my God,” he muttered looking at the wound. It had not fully punctured Trak, only seared away at the side, re-opening Traks old wound.
Trak gazed deeply at Cain, “I guess… I couldn’t… wait… to get here.” Trak slowly said, drawing each breath painfully.
Looking up Cain shouted “Somebody get a doctor,” but no one moved.
“Why!” one man questioned, “he’s one of them. Why should we help him!”
Cain stood up and looked to the crowds, “He just saved all of you! And now you’re going to let him die! You are worse than the Covenant! And he is NOT one of them. He told me!”
A ripple of talk went around the crowds. A woman ran forwards, a small bag in her arms, she looked down at the dying elite, obviously disgusted, before helping him.
Trak looked up at the night sky. The voices were getting further away, a woman’s most prominent. Before his gaze left this world Cain leaned over him, “It’s gonna be alright Trak, I promise” he said.
Trak smiled, then fell unconscious.