The morning brought with it new hope for Trak. He rose early and silently left the gym. No one else had stirred this early, many were sleeping of the ill effects of consuming too much alcohol. Slowly moving to the edge of the town Trak began to climb his favourite tree. It was the tallest around, with clear views of the surrounding areas. Trak felt alive at the top, no one could touch him.
Far below the door to the make shift marines barracks opened and three men walked out. They were laughing loudly, Trak could barely make out what they were saying. His ears perked when he thought he heard his name. A new chorus of laughter rang out. Were they mocking him he thought?
Slowly the town came to life. Babies cries echoed out, soon the doors opened and people began filing out of buildings, some to enter another, other just wandered about. The sun had risen over the hills now, it’s fiery red glow illuminating the town. Trak tried to identify the different people. He knew a lot of people now, too many he thought. Trying to remember the different names would be hard.
Cain awoke groggily. His head hurt, the booze ebbing away, giving rise to a killer hangover. Standing up slowly he stretched his arms, trying to retain some of his strength. Moving to the restrooms he stood in line, how he longed for a proper home. He noticed Traks door was shut, he was probably asleep still. Cain didn’t want to intrude so after visiting the toilet Cain simply returned to his mat and got changed.
Stepping into the fresh air Cain took a deep breath and let it out slowly. Setting of at a quick jog Cain followed the edge of the town. He had been cooped up for too long watching over Trak, now he was finally able to exercise stale muscles. He began to speed up, the sweat pouring of his face already. Panting he heard heavy footsteps approaching behind, probably another morning jogger. When he saw the elite catching up Cain smiled.
“You got up late,” Cain said in between breaths.
“I have been awake since the first light, you are the late one,” Trak replied.
Cain sped up trying to test the elite, Trak easily caught him up.
“Is this the fastest your legs can carry you? I am the slowest of all my family and I can still beat you.”
“Shut up,” laughed Cain bumping into Trak. Pushing him back Trak looked at the town passing by.
“Do you miss your parents?” Trak asked slowly. Cain slowed down and stopped, bending over trying to get more air into his lungs.
“Every night,” he finally whispered.
“I’m sorry,” whispered Trak. Cain stood up straight and looked at Trak, “Stop saying sorry,” laughed Cain, “You’d bloody apologise for us turning from apes to humans. I swear if you say sorry again I’ll, I’ll…”
“What?” said Trak laughing at his friend, “You and your weak little human arms.”
Cain jumped at Trak, his face a wide smile. Trak was ready though, he moved sideways and tripped Cain, just like that first day so many months ago. Cain rolled and sprung back up.
Moving forwards he put his hands into a fighting position and faced Trak, “Come on,” he said grinning, “take me if you think you’re better than me.”
Trak came closer, raising his fists as well.
“I do not wish to hurt you Cain,” Trak spoke.
“‘Cus you’re a coward?” Cain provoked, “come on, I can handle it.”
Trak struck once, gently and knocked Cain’s arm. Acting as though nothing had happened Cain jabbed his right fist at Trak hitting him square in the chest. Trak staggered backwards, not expecting such a hard blow. Cain circled around Trak and came up behind, preparing to kick the elite. Trak spun and caught the leg at the last moment. Cain looked up at Traks face, the smile evident. Pushing his hands up Trak flipped Cain onto his back. Cain fell hard onto the dirt path, coughing he slowly began to lift himself up.
Traks hands appeared in his view, holding on gratefully he allowed himself to be pulled up. Not letting go Cain yanked the hand towards him and tried to turn, but Trak bent his arm so that the elbow could not bend. Then retrieving his hand Trak spun Cain in front of him and moved his arm up to the boys’ throat.
“I failed combat school,” Trak whispered in his ear, “that doesn’t mean I didn’t learn how to fight.”
Cain lifted his right leg upwards and shot it back into the elites shin. Trak released his grip and hobbled to face the human.
“You fight well,” Trak said.
“Not as good as you though,” Trak said looking at his brother.
“I could teach you. If you wanted of course.”
Cain’s determined face broke into a smile, “Really? You could teach me how to do that stuff?”
Traks face split into an evil looking grin, “Only if you can beat me though.”
Cain’s face fell, he looked distraught. Moving forwards he slowly said “but Trak, how the hell could I beat youuuuuuuu.” Jumping straight for Trak, Cain took the elite down by the knees and pinned him to the ground. Trak grunted in surprise.
“Good enough for ya’” he said with glee.
“Cheater,” huffed Trak, pushing Cain of his chest.
His smile shone through though and the two walked slowly back to town, using each other for support.
Cain and Trak stood in the small clearing where they first met. Cain had his hands up in front of him, one facing palm forwards, the other level. Just as Trak had taught him, the lessons beginning to show in how Cain held himself. Slowly following the movements of the elite next to him Cain slowly pulled his level hand backwards, covering it with his other hand. “C’ jip” shouted Trak.
Cain shot his hand forwards, twisting the covering hand upwards to distract an imaginary enemy. Reeling his hand backwards Cain looked at Trak nervously, “Very good,” Trak said slowly watching Cain sigh audibly.
They continued the practices for over four hours that afternoon. Trak teaching Cain harder and harder moves until Cain could master them all. But Cain could not complete one. It was Traks best move, but only because his Commander had performed it on him when he failed to get it right first time. Trak knew Cain could perform the move well, he was just scared of injuring someone, namely Trak.
The move called for Cain to lunge at his enemy, at the last moment they had to spin on their right leg, bending it so they passed under the arm of the enemy. Rising up behind they continued the move in one fluid motion, drawing a blade across the enemies throat before ducking back under the second arm to deliver the knock out blow. Trak could perform the move blindfolded on a high commander, but that was only because he wanted to, he wanted to kill the commander.
Cain looked at the small blade in his hand. It was wooden, carved out of a log by Trak using a real blade. The edges were blunted and the tip rounded off, it couldn’t even hurt a suckling thought Trak smiling at Cain’s nervousness.
“Chicken?” said Trak, using the humans previous insults against him.
Trak looked up, a wicked grin spreading across his face. Jumping forwards he managed to land on his right leg and spun downwards in one swift move. Coming up behind Trak though Cain lost his balance and toppled right over onto his back.
“Maybe we should leave that move for when you have a proper enemy,” Trak said lifting his brother of the ground.
“If I don’t learn it now, when I come to use it on any enemy I’ll just fall flat on my butt,” Cain replied, angry at himself. Trak grinned at Cain’s honesty.
So they practiced it again and again. Until Cain had mastered the move and Trak felt he was ready. Now Cain could truly test out his newly acquired skills.
Trak moved up in front on Cain and held his hands at the ready. “You attack first, I will defend,” Trak spoke out, “to give you a chance.”
Cain stood fully, stretched his muscles and slowly placed himself into position. Taking in a deep breath Cain stared at Traks eyes before rushing forwards. But it was not the clumsy move Cain had used so many times before, now he moved with a purpose, he swung and dodged as he came closer, Trak struggling to judge where he would hit first.
Cain pulled his right fist back and slammed it forwards, a decoy. As Trak grabbed it Cain’s other hand, pressed flat, crashed into Traks side. Before Trak had even reacted Cain swung himself around and cracked his right hand of Traks neck. Pulling back he looked at his work.
“You didn’t even try,” he said to the elite.
“I needed to know just how well you fought. Come again, let me show you what true power is,” Trak replied with a low bow towards Cain.
Cain drew his hands up to his chest and pounced. Striking forwards with both palms extended he reached for Traks chest. Using his longer arms Trak struck underneath Cain’s attack. Hitting him square in the chest, Trak just stood as Cain crumpled to the ground.
Cain wheezed slowly, winded he began to slowly get up. Sitting in a crouch he coughed, Trak moved to help just in case he had severely hurt Cain. Sensing his opportunity Cain spun on one leg, his other hitting the back of Traks knees and bringing him down as well.
Rolling on the ground Trak leapt back up, Cain already standing. Trak smiled, Cain had gotten very good.
“You fight dirty,” Trak said aloud, studying the human.
“You are too honourable,” Cain replied with a sneer.
“Do you really wish for me to descend to your level?” Trak asked.
“Join me,” was Cain’s only reply.
Moving with more grace this time Cain began to circle Trak constantly moving his hands, shifting his feet, but never taking his eyes of the elite. Jabbing forwards his punch was deflected easily. Another jab, another block. Cain tried dodging in again, but every attempt he made resulted in another block.
Trak knew it was time. The human grew arrogant and Trak had long since learnt what arrogance could bring, death. Cain jabbed again, his actions beginning to slowl down. Trak began to block like usual, sensing no opposition to this now familiar move from Cain he began.
Grabbing the wrist he pulled Cain forwards, twisting at the elbow he forced Cain in front of him and then proceeded to drop him to his knees. Drawing his free hand across Cain’s neck he slowly whispered in his ear, “If I was a real covenant, you would be dead.”
Trak felt Cain gulp, he was nervous, but when he spoke out it rang of confidence, “If you were a real elite, you wouldn’t of taught me this.”
Smacking his head backwards Cain caught Trak in his stomach, the force knocking the wind of the elite. Without pausing Cain rolled forwards, one of his feet catching Trak in the groin. The elite roared in pain and dropped to the floor, one hand cupped around his privates.
Cain came up behind Trak and put his hand the elites neck. “No who’s the one in trouble?” he shouted in glee.
Trak snarled, in pain and anger, “You did that on purpose!” he finally shouted.
“You said fight dirty,” Cain replied grinning.
“Ahh, you’re just pissed ‘cus I beat you,” Trak countered.
“You could never beat me,” Trak said simply.
“Oh yeah? And why not?” Cain asked, genuinely perplexed.
“Because I would never fight you for real. We shall be brothers forever,” Trak answered.
“Brothers. Forever,” Cain replied slowly, releasing his grip on Trak, “Brothers forever.”
“Come, it is getting late. You must be hungry,” Trak said standing up and walking to the edge of the clearing.
Cain stood where he was. “Do you mean it Trak? We will really be brothers for life?” His face was both worried and excited, endlessly searching the elites own face.
“Forever,” Trak said simply, walking into the bush.
Trak and Cain sat together at the small lunch table in the corner. Sometime after finishing their meals Rachael and Hannah came along, sitting down beside the brothers.
Rachael began to talk softly to Cain, his face smiling gently at hers. Trak looked away, he felt it was rude to watch such a display of intimacy. Hannah glanced at him, a small smile on her shy face.
“Hi,” she said quietly.
“Hello,” replied Trak nodding his head at her. A long silence passed, it seemed unbearable to Trak. He wished for it to end, yet dreaded what would come. Eventually Hannah opened her mouth slightly and looked at Trak.
“I er, I heard you and Cain had a fight today,” she said slowly, unsure of how she had worded it.
“I am teaching him fighting skills. He learns quickly.” Trak replied quickly.
“Oh,” Hannah muttered, “cool.” Another long silence passed, the moments becoming intolerable once more.
“I was curious. Where you come from, do you have, I mean do you, you know, have girlfriends?” Hannah cautiously asked.
Trak turned to face her. The nervousness was evident in every line on her pretty face, right down to the way the corners of her small mouth twitched.
“I had no female friends on the home world. Males and females are separated at birth. My father had not selected a suitable mate for me when I left.”
“You don’t get to decide who you marry!” Hannah spat out shocked.
“No,” said Trak simply, “Why?”
“Well in human culture you only marry someone you love very deeply, it’s a bond between two humans to show their commitment. I would have thought you would be the same,” she finished shyly. Had she upset the elite she wondered when Trak looked away, glancing at Rachael and Cain, now touching lips. Kissing the humans called it Trak remembered.
“In the Covenant, you don’t get much choice,” Trak finally muttered.
“I’m sorry for bringing it up,” Hannah said turning away, her eyes becoming red.
“No,” Trak said quickly, gently grabbing her small hand, “Thank you, I never knew this part of human culture.”
Hannah smiled and stroked the alien hand on hers. “You’re welcome,” she finally muttered.
The time passed quickly. Two years, and yet it seemed like nothing to Trak. He had been accepted by the people, had grown up with them and now counted himself as one of them.
The town had grown in size, new residents seem to come everyday. With the destruction of more and more planets, what few survivors remained sought refuge where ever they could. Meeting the elite for the first time was quite a shock to most of the newcomers, but they too accepted him quickly.
The town was not the only thing that had grown though. Cain was a few inches taller, but Trak was now almost seven feet tall. He worked out daily, mainly with Cain. They ran around the edge of town and regularly sparred. Cain was getting better and better now, no longer did he fight as dirtily, he fought with honour. Trak was proud, not just of the town he was a part of, or the friendships he had developed, but of what he had become. Every day since he left the Covenant was like a special gift and Trak was not going to squander it.
Cain and Rachael had also become engaged and their bonding ceremony was to be held within a few weeks. Trak had been puzzled when Cain asked him to be Best Man, but after explaining it he was honoured. Cain put him before any other male in the town.
For the first time in Traks life he looked forwards to the future. He had hope, he had dreams, he had a new life, but most of all he had friends.