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[[Vadam Legacies]]: The Way of Things

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Terminal This article, Vadam Legacies: The Way of Things, was written by Sonasaurus. Please do not edit this fiction without the writer's permission.
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Vadam Legacies: The Way of Things
How many of those close to you will survive the struggle? How many will not?
Protagonist Autel 'Vadam
Author Sonasaurus
Date Published July 7, 2010
Length Unknown (Incomplete)
Author's Rating Unknown (Incomplete)
Previous Story Blood Brothers
Next Story Guardian Angels
Story Series Vadam Legacies
[Source]

Story

Prologue

Time 8:03:42 (Accuracy 1/10 to that of Forerunner), third sunrise shift of the tenth month (Sanghelios Time Unit), 6th Age of Amendment (Covenant Time Unit, based on Forerunner Time Unit)

Location: Sanghelios, Path Walkers hideout

0700 Hours, June 15th, 2573 (UNSC Military Calendar)


"Our attack will begin soon, Excellency." said Path Walker Commander Ruji 'Geran. "Our soldiers are ready."

"Good," said Urei 'Cazal. "Be quick, while our enemies are distracted by the Covenant. And be wary...they have Spartans on their side."

'Geran bowed, and left the room to assemble his Sangheili. The doors hissed shut behind him.

Urei sighed. It had been almost two age phases since the Fallen were disbanded. His brothers, his allies, and his fellow leaders were all dead. Outsiders found with connections to the separatist group had been dealt with in a manner more ruthless than he could have guessed. Even the least courageous of the faction had stood for their beliefs fearlessly rather than spending the rest of their lives in hiding.

The only blessing was that his enemies had all thought he was dead. And it was a good thing too, for he had many enemies. But Urei didn't intend on hiding forever. He was going to reveal himself once again once the Path Walkers became powerful. Although he secretly shared none of their beliefs about the Great Journey, they were resourceful, no doubt about it. But he would continue to work towards his goal to sever the ties in the Interspecies Union, and bring honour back to his species as he had always sworn to do.

But for now, Urei had to act as if he had a common interest with the Path Walkers. And that, unfortunately, involved several things he opposed. One of them was finding the Spartan, Simon-G294, who had broken into a facility held by the Path Walkers on the planet C329t several months ago and taken Moru 'Ostal, a young but crucial member to their faction. Most of the humans that had been captured by the Path Walkers claimed that they didn't know a Spartan called Simon, and the ones that did said that he had been a traitor. It was impossible that a traitor would take such a risk to causing them such inconvenience, so they were probably lying, and trying to hide the demon.

Furthermore, the Path Walkers planned to start a war between the IU and the Covenant, a decision that made Urei slightly uneasy. Although there was an obvious tension on both sides, there was no large-scale conflict between them yet, but many said that it would be easier to fight an enemy that was pitted against many others. And the IU certainly did have a lot of things to worry about right now; from human rebels to the Covenant, they would have difficulty focusing their efforts on overcoming the Path Walkers. But forcing two factions into waging a war without leaving traces of one's own involvement would be tricky; it would take years of planning to perfect. And Urei wasn't really keen on the idea anyway.

He didn't like the fact that they had to make attacks on Sanghelios either, but more or less he didn't have much of a choice. If he lost support, he would lose power, and his hopes of accomplishing his tasks would be near impossible. He had to make his moves carefully too, so that he didn't make his intentions too obvious, but didn't become a puppet to the Path Walkers either. Very tricky.

Urei sighed again. Things had become very difficult for him indeed.



Chapter 1

Time 8:03:82 (Accuracy 1/10 to that of Forerunner), third sunrise shift of the tenth month (Sanghelios Time Unit), 6th Age of Amendment (Covenant Time Unit, based on Forerunner Time Unit)

Location: Yermo, State of Vadam, Sanghelios

0720 Hours, June 15th, 2573 (UNSC Military Calendar)


There were apparently rumours of a very powerful Forerunner artifact that the IU had taken hold of, and there was a possibility that someone would know about it. Without confiding to Urei, 'Geran ordered his soldiers to enter the State of Vadam first. He knew who would have the answers to what he needed.

Cyla 'Cazal, the spouse to the legendary albino, Autel 'Vadam. There were possibly others, of course, but it was a lead. 'Geran hadn't told his leader about his plans, because he wasn't sure whether Urei would oppose a kidnapping of his own sister. But once she was brought to him, he would hardly have reason to let her go. He would be resentful, of course, but 'Geran could always claim that he had taken her without knowing her identity.

And it would be revenge. Autel had paid him great insult a long time ago. 'Geran once had many followers in his persistent beliefs about the Great Journey, despite the tidings of the Sangheili returning from the final battle of the Covenant schism, the ones who said that the Journey was a lie all along. But the albino had taken his words and turned them against him, and as a result the Interspecies Union had triumphed. 'Geran would break Autel, a little at a time. And when the time came, he would personally kill the ignorant nonbeliever.

As for Urei, the Commander could sense something about him that was slightly...off. He couldn't quite place his finger on it, but their seemingly passionate and cunning leader was a bit shady. As if he was hiding something. Of course, everyone knew about the fact that he used to be leader of the Fallen. But many of them never knew whether the separatist group believed in the Great Journey or not. All 'Geran heard was that they wanted to turn against the humans, but he himself had to find out what Urei's intentions were. So this would be a test, to see what their leader would do in the face of a personal issue.

He himself didn't intend to be a second-in-command forever either. As a former politician who had served in the Covenant before the schism, 'Geran knew how to play his cards right. And once the Interspecies Union was no more, he would rise up and take over as leader of the Path Walkers. They needed one that wasn't as doubtful and shifty as Urei. It would be a while before the opportunity arose, but the Commander was willing to wait.


"I cannot believe we're not at war yet," muttered one of the Sangheili. "We have been doing this for years."

"Quiet," snapped Special Operations Commander Autel 'Vadam. The IU forces here had pushed the Covenant forces back for the time being, but there was no sign that they had given up. And there was someone in particular he was looking for. Someone who was also looking for him.

The Judicator.

"Excellency, they are heading towards the forests," Special Operations Officer Kei 'Oltem reported. "Phoenix Team and a Marine force will intercept them."

"Good," said Autel. He felt uneasy, but couldn't decide why. Maybe it was the fact that his team was in the State of Vadam, where the people he cared about most were. If the Covenant made it into the cities, catastrophe would follow...

The Covenant forces were unlikely to come back for a while. So why was he so nervous?

It had been a while since his stepbrother Taszar had heroically retrieved the Forerunner artifact, the Light of the Abyss, before it fell into the clutches of the Fallen. And Phoenix Team had struck the separatists a killing blow, disbanding them for good. But this conflict was far from over. The open war against one of the factions had ended, but more were likely to come. And it just got worse all the time.

For the tenth time, the albino wished that the IU military units on Sanghelios consisted of more Spartans. At the moment, there were only four of them, and although they had been a major asset, Autel would have been more reassured if their numbers were larger and more widespread. They could actually push the Covenant back, instead of simply holding them at bay.

A thin purple lance flew through the air, striking one of the Sangheili in the back of the head. Reacting instinctively, the Special Operations unit ducked behind cover as a second particle beam narrowly missed 'Oltem, who had moved just in time.

"Sniper!" the commando snarled.

"Deploy grenades," Autel ordered. A dozen plasma grenades were activated and thrown over the treeline. The unit moved out of cover as they detonated. Looking around quickly, the Commander saw that two of the enemy Sangheili were killed. The survivors, taken by surprise, were taken down by the Special Operations unit through superior numbers.

"Path Walkers," one of the Sangheili said, examining the bodies. Turning to Autel, he said, "They may have infiltrated the State, Excellency. Orders?"

Autel did not hesitate, although the dread was filling him now. "We will return to the cities. Quickly!"


Cyla 'Cazal sat up in her bed, rubbing the sleep from her eyes. She didn't like to sleep in, but it had been a fitful night and she hardly managed to fall asleep. She was worried. Autel was busy protecting the states from the Covenant, and she hadn't heard from him for weeks. Her sons, Adra and Kysa, were rarely allowed to see her when they were out of the Keep, and even her daughter, Vena, was elsewhere, secretly being trained in combat by the few Spartans and Sangheili that were in on the idea. That left Cyla alone for a lot of the time, and she couldn't find enough to do. Deciding not to mope in bed any longer, she got out of bed and slipped on a robe. She was about to open the door from her bedroom when there was the sound of a crash.

She froze. Before she could decide on what to do, her bedroom door was kicked open, and four armoured Sangheili rushed in. Cyla, who had been knocked to the floor, was grabbed tightly around the wrist and dragged upright. She realized who they were.

"Path Walkers," she breathed.

"You are coming with us," the leader growled.

Something hit Cyla on the back of her head, and she lost consciousness.


Autel ran tirelessly through the street, looking around frantically. Cyla's house was just around the corner, she had to be there...

The albino groaned when he saw the door hanging ajar. It looked as if it was forced open. Rushing inside, he saw that Cyla's garments still lay on the floor. Feeling the fear filling his veins, he looked around, fearing to find a limp hand, or blood on the floor. After a thorough search however, he was certain that she wasn't in the house.

The Sangheili Commander didn't know whether to be frightened or relieved. Cyla wasn't here, but whether she was alive was still yet to be determined...

Autel heard 'Oltem's voice on his COM. "Excellency, our first patrols have returned. We have found no Path Walkers."

"Maintain your vigilance," he said in a voice he hardly recognized. "There is...something I must attend to."

He could ask his team to help search for Cyla. But there were others in danger here, and he knew that the best thing for them to do was protect any other potential targets.

Besides, he knew someone who could help him look for her.


Autel had run for several kilometres, panting heavily. He felt as if he was almost completely drained of energy, but it didn't matter. Nothing mattered more to him right now than finding Cyla.

As he entered the battlefield, the albino saw bodies of Covenant and IU soldiers alike strewn all over the ground. There were some still standing, but some of them were so distant that he couldn't tell whether they were friend or foe.

He saw a Marine standing over a wounded Jackal, who was making hissing feebly and trying to crawl away. The human was aiming a rifle at the alien's head.

"Where is Spartan-D339?" he asked the leatherneck. The latter looked up, slightly surprised at the Sangheili's appearance. He pointed towards one of the groups standing near a rock cluster. Autel nodded in thanks. As he ran off, he heard the Marine's gun discharge, and the Jackal's hissing stopped.

Wings' back was turned to him. "Police the bodies," he was saying to his team.

"Spartan!" Autel called. The MCPO turned.

"What is it, friend?"

"They took her...they took Cyla!"

Wings shifted. "Ocean, is Vena safe?"

Autel froze. He had been so worried about Cyla that he forgot what Vena was doing. He waited for the answer...

"She is."

Wings turned to him. "We'll find her. They want to draw you into a trap."

Autel nodded, still breathing heavily.

"We'll get her together. I'll get two other teams with us and we'll hunt her down ourselves. They'll be sure to have a trap laid for you."

He nodded again, feeling the relief flow through him. He knew that when the Spartan made a promise, he kept it. "Thank you, my friend. Again."

Wings shook his head. "It is only what you should expect from me."


"Put her there," 'Geran ordered. "She will wake up in time."

Two of the Path Walkers placed Cyla's unconscious form none-too-gently onto the prison cell's floor. A third Sangheili walked into the brig with Urei.

"You called me here, Commander?" he asked.

"Yes, Excellency," 'Geran replied, trying to hold back a smug grin. "I think you will find that she will be an abundant source of information to our needs."

Urei moved around him, looking at who it was. He recognized her almost instantly, and his eyes widened in surprise.

"Is there a problem, Excellency?"

The former was still staring at her. "No...not at all. Well done, I..." he turned to look at 'Geran, and there was a spark of defiance in his glare. "What makes you say that she will tell us what we need to know?"

"My soldiers have observed her. She is in contact with the Spartans present on Sanghelios." Technically, it was true. And she did know something. 'Geran intended to find out in due time.

"Do you know what her name is?" the leader asked in a seemingly casual voice, but the Commander caught the edge to it.

"No, I am afraid not, Excellency. But I can assure you that we will discover everything she knows."

Helpless to say anything otherwise, Urei nodded, and walked out of the room.

'Geran activated the energy barrier on the cell, and followed him, saying to the guards, "I will inform you when she is to be interrogated."


Autel walked around aimlessly, feeling increasingly worried. Throughout the day, his team had found more Path Walkers in the State, some of whom had captured Sangheili females and children. The only strange thing was that they didn't kill any of the civilians. But the albino was more relieved than curious as to what they were up to.

Autel absently found himself walking through a forest, wondering what he could do. It felt wrong to just wait around until the Path Walkers did something worse. He had to think of a way to stop them...

"Father, come with me."

The Sangheili commander turned around in surprise, to see Vena standing behind him in a clearing. She was wearing a uniform, which gave her a more masculine look, but he could recognize his daughter by the resemblance in her face and her pale eyes.

"What are you doing here?" he hissed, glancing around in case there was anyone watching them.

"Forgive me, but I could ask the same of you," she replied calmly. "It is hardly safe to wander into a forest alone these days."

"Wings hid you for a reason," he said, still watching for movement around them. "Go back!"

"There is no one around, father. Follow me."

She walked quickly but gracefully, not getting her uniform snagged or ripped even once by a branch. Autel stared after her in disbelief for a few seconds, and reluctantly followed. When they were far enough away from the clearing, she sat on one of the boulders. He sat down next to her.

"You wanted to see me." Vena didn't ask, but said it. As if she knew this already.

And so I have, he thought, half-guiltily. He had not seen her for a while now, and it was reassuring to see her alive and well. As he thought this, he wondered if it was his own thoughts that drove her to see him. I would not be surprised...

"What is on your mind?" This time it was a question.

Autel didn't address the topic at first. "I am glad to see that you are safe."

"Wings will not let me come to harm," she replied. "But I know that is not enough to reassure you."

"The dangers become worse by day," he agreed.

"I know. Mother has been kidnapped."

Autel couldn't help but be surprised. "How did you—"

"There is no point in asking me, father," Vena said with a slight smile that held a trace of sadness. "You are hardly a stranger to what I can see."

The albino nodded, thinking. He had often shared moments like these with his daughter when she was younger, and she always astounded him with something. Looking at her now, he could see how fast she was growing up. Yet she always seemed to hold some kind of maturity to her, something others didn't have, not even the most extraordinary males on Sanghelios. Not for the first time, he wondered just what she would be like when she became a warrior.

Vena spoke again, this time more softly. "Someone very close to you is about to die."

Autel turned to look at her in shock. His first thought was Cyla. "You mean—"

"I do not know the details. Nor do I know who it is. But it is what I see, and I know that it will happen soon."

The Sangheili Commander didn't know what to say. His daughter stood up, and began to walk away.

"I must go now. I will speak to you again if you wish to seek me out, father."

Vena disappeared into the cluster of trees, leaving Autel feeling more worried than ever.



Chapter 2

Time 51:26:19 (Accuracy 1/10 to that of Forerunner), eighth sunrise shift of the tenth month (Sanghelios Time Unit), 6th Age of Amendment (Covenant Time Unit, based on Forerunner Time Unit)

Location: Sanghelios, Path Walkers hideout

1240 Hours, June 17th, 2573 (UNSC Military Calendar)


Urei didn't know what to do. It would be suspicious if he let Cyla go, but he couldn't keep her here with a cleared conscience. The idea of it completely went against what he was working towards.

This decision made by 'Geran was obviously intended to be a troubling one. He wondered whether the Commander was trying to cause trouble for him because he was suspicious. Urei had to make his moves carefully.

He watched his sister on a camera, still unable to make a decision. He wanted to free her, but didn't know how he could pull it off. Cyla had been subject to several interrogations, but apparently she said nothing. He couldn't bring himself to talk to her, so the interrogations had been made by 'Geran or his subordinates. Urei almost wished that someone from the IU would come to rescue her.

Feeling resigned as he looked away from the camera, he decided to look over the report that the Commander had left him. The one concerning the activities of a group of Spartans and a certain Vena 'Vadam. Frowning, the Path Walker leader read the holographic words carefully. 'Geran certainly seemed interested in Autel's family...


Autel had kept the Special Operations unit searching vigorously for the Path Walkers, but was careful not to divert too many of their numbers to the task. After all, many Sangheili were needed for the issue at hand. The Shadow of Intent had returned to Sanghelios briefly for repairs and additional reinforcements, and the albino had heard immediately about the return of Fira 'Demal. He requested a meeting with his old friend, which was immediately acknowledged. A few subunits later, the Field Master's Phantom arrived outside the Special Operations facility in Yermo, and the two greeted each other warmly.

"It is good to see you again, Fira," said Autel, placing his fist over his own chest.

"It is good to be back," Fira replied. But when he looked into the Special Operations Commander's eyes, he said, "Something troubles you."

"It is Cyla...she has been taken by the Path Walkers."

Fira grimaced. "It is too convenient. They intend to lure you into a trap."

"I know. It is why I have not joined the search for her."

The Field Mater placed his hand on Autel's shoulder. "I will help, friend. I will do whatever it takes to return her safely." Without another word, he left the facility and boarded the Phantom again. As the albino watched the dropship take off and disappear over a series of low hills, he wished that he was with them.


Urei couldn't stand it any longer. No matter what anyone said, IU or Path Walker, there was no way he was letting a bunch of religious fanatics hold his sister prisoner. Their actions demanded honour, and it was plain to see that keeping Cyla captive.

Walking over to the control panel, the Path Walker leader looked over the panel one more time.

In every underground base, there was spot that Sangheili called the "pressure line". It was where the lining that hid the facility's presence was most vulnerable, because it was where the sensors were located. The devices were necessary to keep a continuous stream of data from aboveground entering the base's intelligence ports, but should the sensor's signals be disconnected, their broadcast would be noticed by outsiders. The only ways a pressure could be broken from the outside was if someone targeting it was either extremely lucky or had prior knowledge of the base's location, but the first was unlikely, and the second was a redundant course of action. But there were a few isolated incidents where there were accidental ruptures from inside.

Urei checked to make sure everything was in place. The "crashed" Phantom was placed exactly above the pressure line. The plasma torpedo was placed in the right position so that it wouldn't vapourize the dropship but would look like it punched through several units of rock and dirt. The bodies of IU Sangheili that he had gathered from a previous battle were placed inside and outside the vessel. A false transmission reporting an anti-aircraft attack was even placed in its logs in case the communication array survived, and anyone bothered to look.

Would 'Geran find it fishy? Possibly. But Urei knew that the Commander would never dare to accuse him directly. And most importantly, Cyla would be free.

He sent the order, and wiped all traces of his scheme. As he walked out of the room, he heard a muffled explosion.

"Oops," Urei muttered as he headed for the interrogation chamber. Now it was time for step two.


"Have you received word from SPARTAN-D1074 yet?" Fira asked.

"No," replied Ship Master Sona 'Demal, his older cousin, who was currently aboard his cruiser, the Incumbent Wrath. "He is keeping a low profile at the moment, although Fleet Master 'Vadum says that there are still Covenant searching for him. If he calls more ships for assistance, I must go."

"I know. I will come with you if I find Cyla in time. I have...become friends with the Spartan, and I felt uneasy when he told me that he was going to guard the artifact alone."

"I wish you luck, Fira."

The Field Master gathered his team, some of whom used to be Sona's subordinates before the latter was promoted to Ship Master. Speaking into his COM again, this time contacting the squad's sharpshooter, he asked, "'Antinr, are you ready?"

"Yes, Excellency. I am with SPARTAN-D576. We are approaching a valley on the other side of the Mortum State. She has detected what could be a hideout for the Path Walkers."

Detected? That sounded odd. The Zealot frowned, but merely said, "Good. We will meet you there."


"Right under that jagged outcrop. There's something there," Zero said, showing him the schematic.

Fira examined the diagram on the holo-panel. There was the outline of the mountain, in the optical illusion of three-dimensional form. There was some sort of hole on one spot, and a series of lines that arced away from it and into the mountain. Strangest of all, the lines seemed to fade as they got farther from the hole.

"It caught my attention when I saw a Phantom smashed into the side of the mountain," she explained. "So I took a closer look. It looks like there was an explosion, and something underneath was revealed. Now, these lines," she traced them with her finger, "probably run farther, but we can only see it to the depth shown here. I took a visual, and this is what I saw." She replaced the image of the mountain with a full-colour image of the mountain's side. "See how the rocks seem to be melted around the hole, and form a roughly concave shape? There was some sort of explosion, from a plasma weapon most likely. I saw a few bodies lying inside the Phantom and some scattered on the side of the mountain. There were probably more that fell all the way down the valley. But we'll take a closer look."

The team climbed aboard their own Phantom, which faded into invisibility. As they approached the side of the mountain, Zero said, "Pull us to those bodies strewn away farthest from the crash."

"Open the hatch, 'Tullum," Fira said when the vehicle came to a halt. He followed the Spartan, walking carefully along the side of the mountain.

"It's not very steep here," she said, "But be careful nonetheless. You don't want to fall off." She bent down to examine the body of the Sangheili. "Looks like one of ours." Looking over the dead soldier for a few moments, Zero said, "There was no crash."

"How do you know?"

"This Sangheili died from plasma wounds. The fall from the Phantom should have broken some bones, or bruised him a bit. But it looks like he was practically laid there."

"You mean this was a set-up?"

"Possibly. It's possible that whoever made this also wanted us to see what's in there," she indicated the melted rocks above them, and whatever lay inside.

"Sounds like a trap."

"Probably. But we have to check it out."

"Fira, I see Banshees heading toward us," 'Tullum said from their Phantom. The Field Master stood up slowly.

"Then we should go." To Zero, he added, "We should make this quick."


Urei guessed that he had maybe ten subunits before someone noticed that the hidden entrance was exposed. So he had to hurry. Heading for the interrogation chamber, he was relieved to see that 'Gern wasn't interrogating Cyla. The Path Walker leader walked past the guard. "I wish to speak with her. Give us some privacy."

"Yes, Excellency," the Sangheili said, unlocking the opaque energy door. Urei stepped into the cell, sealing the barrier behind him.

Cyla, who was sitting quietly on the floor, looked up and gasped. "You...you are alive?"

He gave a smile. "You sound so surprised, sister. Almost disappointed."

She scowled, and turned away from him. "Have you arranged this? Asked your new followers to kidnap me?"

"No," Urei said. "I was not informed. But I know their plan now. And after it has been carried out, I have no doubt that you will never leave here alive."

"So you will watch them kill me?" Cyla asked, facing him again. She sounded angry. Not because of her own fate, but because of him. What he had become.

"No," he said again. "That is not what I fight for. I do only what I believe is right." Opening the storage section in his armour, Urei gave her his camouflage device, and his access unit, which enabled him to unlock any door in the facility. He also unstrapped his Plasma Rifle and handed it to her. "Go. After you have escaped, find those who have no doubt come to find you. Tell no one that I have done this for you. Tell no one that I am alive."

Cyla was silent for a moment, and looked into her brother’s eyes. "I wish things were different," she said softly. "And that you had made different decisions." As she faded into invisibility, Urei stepped out of the cell first, drawing his Energy Sword. He ran the twin blades through the guard, and said, "Only after you have given your life do you realize that there never was a Great Journey. And you die in ignorance...as will your entire faction." He saw a blur move past him, and through the door leading out of the interrogation sector.

"Goodbye, sister," Urei whispered.


'Tullum had dropped them off at the entrance and moved out of the mountain's area. Zero took point, with the Sangheili team in formation. There were no enemies around, and everyone was camouflaged, but they remained quiet nonetheless.

The makeshift tunnel led onto a high walkway that overlooked a massive room. 'Antinr risked a glance over the edge.

"No one here. It looks like storage."

"Let's get across the catwalk, quickly," Zero said. "We're in a vulnerable position." The squad moved silently towards a door, and into a hallway. There was still no one in sight.

"How will we find her?" asked Warra 'Mantakr.

"It matters not," Fira said quietly. "We will not leave until she is with us. I gave Autel my word."

"Let's find some information," Zero. "We'll try and get to an access terminal."

They spent twenty minutes moving stealthily around the facility, but after successfully avoiding yet another group of sentries, the Spartan found one.

"Better make this worth it," she said. "We're only getting one chance here." They had been forced to break into the room by force, which meant that they had to move quickly before someone caught onto the intrusion.

"Here," said Tuka 'Refum after a few minutes, as the hologram of the facility reshaped itself into a 3-dimensional hallway. "She is being held in the sixth detention block. There are only fifteen cells per block, so it should not take long to find her." He paused, still staring at the projector.

"Is something wrong?" Fira asked, feeling slightly nervous. Could it be that Cyla had been—

"There is a report that says she escaped," the young Sangheili said. "A few subunits ago."

Fira knew that he should be feeling relieved, but instead, he groaned. Either if Cyla had escaped by her own doing, or was helped by an anonymous ally, it made things very complicated for them. If she had been in her cell, it would have been an easy matter to take out the guards, get her out, and leave before someone raised the alarm. But now she could be anywhere. It could be that she was about to be captured again, or killed. "If someone had been trying to help her, he would have done better to leave her be."

"So what will we do?" 'Antinr asked.

"We will find her. No matter what it takes. Come." He led the team back out of the room, with Zero on point again. As they moved down the hall, the Field Master observed the Spartan closely. He had worked with her several times before, but rarely without Phoenix Team as well. She seemed just as comfortable operating with a squad of Sangheili as she did with her usual teammates. She didn't say much, and it was hard for him to decipher what she was feeling. He had been told before that Deltas didn't "feel" anything at all during most missions. They just received an objectives, intel, and orders, and sent to do whatever they were supposed to. Regardless of emotion or personal safety, they always made decisions based on efficiency and chance of success.

Fira had no doubt that Zero could do anything from killing the entire Sangheili squad if they obstructed her to destroying the entire Path Walkers base if it was necessary. And with nearly 3000 Deltas operating in the UNSC, it wasn't too hard to understand why they had the upper hand over the Covenant this time. It probably wouldn't be long before the Path Walkers were repressed as well.

He grimaced. Unfortunately, there will be many deaths before that day comes. And no matter how powerful the Interspecies Union is, there will always be resentment. And with resentment comes antagonism.

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