The team brought him into a building set into a backstreet on the outskirts of the city. He was led into a fair-sized room, empty save one Sangheili.
"I need to see the Supreme Commander," Kysa said. The former looked slightly curious, but didn't say anything as he led the Jiralhanae out of the room, with the Field Master close behind.
They walked down a brightly lit hall and into a much larger room. There were four guards inside, two of them beside the door, and two of them standing on either side of another Sangheili, who was sitting behind a desk and reading a holographic diagram intently. He was older than them, but not enough to look aged yet. His skin was extremely pale, and was wearing silver armour trimmed with dark red.
They approached the desk, and Kysa bowed his head. "Commander Autel 'Vadam."
The Sangheili looked up. Spotting the Brute, his expression tensed slightly around his eyes, which were almost as pale as his skin, with just a hint of red in them. "What is it, Field Master?"
"This Jiralhanae wants to speak with you. He claims that it is important."
Autel didn't say anything for a moment. "Guards, leave us. And do not say a word of this to anyone." When they were alone, he said, "What do you want, Jiralhanae?"
"There is something I must tell you. I had discovered it a month ago when—"
"Get to the point," the Commander snapped.
"There is a secret I have found out, and your kind is in great danger. As are the humans."
The Jiralhanae glanced briefly at Kysa. "It is for you to hear only. And the Imperial Admiral. Only later can this be disclosed to others—"
"I trust the Field Master enough with this secret you claim to have. Now spit it out before I lose my patience."
"The years have been hard for you, Autel. This war has made you bitter."
Autel looked away from him, the contempt clear on his face. "You are wasting my time, Jiralhanae. Tell me what you came here for, before I have Kysa take you out of my sight and have you executed."
The latter, not intimidated in the least, said, "It concerns your old friend...SPARTAN-D339."
The albino turned sharply towards him again. "What did you say?"
"He was the one who found this out, long ago. I did not know it until recently. And I came to you with all haste."
Autel's fist clenched. Letting out a long breath, he asked, "Who are you?"
"My name is Damenus. You may wonder why I am trying to help you. It is because of a Spartan who changed me, long ago. SPARTAN-D683, also known as—"
"Quantum Prime," the Supreme Commander finished, looking angry again. "He is no friend of ours."
"Those are the words of the Arbiter you are repeating. Once upon a time, you had disagreed with them."
"Some things are unforgivable. Now do not fuck around with me any longer. Tell me D339's secret."
Damenus thought back to the memory, trying to decide where to start. "It had happened like this..."
|Time 15:27:61 (Accuracy 1/10 to that of Forerunner), fifty-eighth sunrise shift of the twelfth month (Sanghelios Time Unit), 10th Age of Amendment (Covenant Time Unit, based on Forerunner Time Unit)
|1100 Hours, July 15, 2588 (UNSC Military Calendar) (8 years ago)
Wings-D339 turned towards the sound of the voice. He saw a Brute standing not far off, looking slightly nervous. For a split second, the Lieutenant Commander was tempted to raise his gun and fire at the alien. But he noted the urgency in the latter's voice. Sure, being in the presence of a Spartan was hazardous if you were part of the Covenant. But if the alien intended to kill him, he wouldn't have called out. And if he was trying to trick him (which the Spartan very much doubted), he could easily overpower the Brute.
Wings put on a sharp tone nonetheless. "Speak quickly, Jiralhanae. I've got a mission to complete today. And there are a lot of your friends I'm planning to kill."
The Brute's eyes flickered. "Are we alone?"
The Spartan paused. "Ocean?"
In response, all doors in the room hissed shut. "We are now," the AI replied, sounding slightly wary.
"Seeing as you're in such a hurry, we'll skip over how you got in here," D339 continued. "What do you want to tell me?"
"You are planning killing the Judicator." The alien said this not as a question but as a fact.
"So I am."
"The Covenant believe that this war is going to be over soon."
Wings didn't say anything, simply nodded in a way that showed neither his agreement or disagreement.
"Quantum Prime told me something, long ago. Something about the Prophet of Intuition."
"I know what it is. You don't need to worry about that, we've dealt with it already."
"Let's just say that at the moment, we know a lot more about what's going on than the Covenant does. I'm guessing that you're Damenus."
The Brute nodded.
"Well, there's something I need you to do for me, then." Accessing his armour storage unit, the Spartan drew out a small, device that glowed a dim orange. It was perfectly spherical, and there was a single symbol etched on it. Wings held it out to Damenus, who took it and carefully stored it in his armour. "What do you want me to do with this?"
Before he could blink, Wings raised his rifle and knocked the Brute out. He stared down at the unconscious form of the alien. He hadn't actually expected to run into him, but it was very convenient. Of course, he could have given the sphere to Vena, but it would be less risky this way. And now he finally made sure that everything would work out, in case the Covenant did manage to surprise them in the upcoming battle. The only problem now was how to send Damenus back quietly. "Ocean, open the doors. And make sure there's no one in the halls." When she gave him the all-clear, he dragged the alien to an empty medical facility. He called Itzia via the COM, and waited.
She entered the room, and froze at the sight of Damenus sprawled on a bed. "What's going on, sir?"
"I need you to give him a memory agent," the Lieutenant Commander said. "Something that'll hide his most recent memories for a few years. By then it'll be safe."
Itzia frowned. "I'll see what I can do, sir. But I don't often administer stuff like that to Brutes."
"Do your best. If there's brain damage, I can live with that. But I can't risk having him interfere with our mission. And he'll do that as long as he remembers what just happened, whether he's aware of it or not." Wings decided not to mention the sphere.
The Spartan medic nodded, asking no questions. She knew that he would tell her what had happened if he felt that he needed to.
Gunnery Sergeant Zaitsev called Wings on his COM. "Sir? The Sangheili fleet just arrived. Commander Autel 'Vadam's on his way down."
"Acknowledged. I'll be out in a bit."
When Itiza was finished, she said, "Guess we'll just leave him somewhere to wake up?"
"Let's make it quick. The Covenant is going to be on top of us in a few hours." The two Spartans hauled Damenus by the arms and legs, and took him out of the medical facility.