For a few moments, no sound came out of either of the two. Jason was frozen speechless out of pure fear, doing his best to keep calm and not soil himself. The Elite simply looked over the boy intently, studying him. What for Jason did not know. He expected that pure white blade to slice his neck at any moment, simply because the Elite so desired it.
The Elite warbled something. It took Jason a moment or so to realize that it was actually trying to talk to him. It wasn’t doing any good though. Whatever the Elite had said was indecipherable to Jason.
“Wha…wha…what?” he stammered out, wanting to do his best to appease this creature and spare his life.
The Elite responded by picking Jason up bodily by his arm, growling the entire time. It kept the lethal blade in the boy’s face.
“Hey hey hey!” Jason cried out, grabbing at the Elite with his free arm in an attempt to steady himself. “What do you want? What do you want?”
The Elite seemed to glare at him for a moment or so longer. “What is your name?” it asked, this time speaking in gruff English.
“Ja…Jason Ferris,” the boy replied, kicking a little at the floor beneath him.
The Elite shook him once. It was not a terribly hard shake, but it was enough to still Jason’s struggles. The boy gulped and kept his eyes focused on the sword that the Elite held. It crackled a little in the great creature’s hand.
“Why have you come here, Jason Ferris?” the Elite asked, moving its great head closer to the boy.
“I… I… I was just looking for a spot… a spot to hide in,” came the shaky reply. “I just wanted to catch some rest and move on. That’s all.”
He did not know why the Elite was even bothering to ask him questions. From what he had heard on the reports, the Covenant was not in the habit of taking prisoners, much less questioning at all. It worried him a little. All right, that was an understatement. It worried him a great deal.
The Elite kept looking him over with that same harsh glare. It was too piercing for Jason’s liking. He wished that the Elite would think him not worth his time and let him go. It wasn’t likely, but he still wished it.
At last, the Elite set him to the ground and let go of his arm. Jason immediately tried to turn and run for the door, but his captor picked him up and threw him towards the other side of the room. He hit the floor hard and winced at the pain.
The heavy hoof of the Elite rested on Jason’s chest. He tried to struggle out from underneath it, but the alien simply kept applying pressure in order to keep him where he was. At last, Jason could struggle no more and simply lay back, exhausted, doing his best to catch a breath.
“You are done,” the Elite said, leaning down. “Good.”
Jason did his best to remain calm. While he did not have a lot of energy, what he did have was busy being used to keep from yelling out in fright. If he yelled, there was no telling what the alien would do to him.
“You are young for your race,” the Elite continued, still looking the boy over. “No matter. I will find use for you.”
There was no way that could be any good. “What… what do you mean?” Jason stammered.
“If I release you, will you stay and hear my tale?” the Elite inquired.
Had the big alien spared the boy only to tell him stories? This was all very strange. Jason really did not know what to think about it all. He did know though that the Elite was not likely to let him go much of anywhere until he had told the story. The big alien seemed rather forceful that way. Hopefully, once the story had been told, then Jason would be free to run off. The boy slowly nodded his head.
The Elite took his hoof off of Jason, then reached down and grabbed him by the shirt. He dragged him behind the bed, then slid to a sitting position beside him, taking up his plasma rifle as he did so. The alien smelled of scented oil and lacquer. Jason would have preferred to not be so close to it, but he did not think he had much of a choice in the matter.
The Elite stared directly ahead for a moment or so, his eyes narrowed as though he was in deep thought. Jason simply watched the alien, waiting for him to begin his tale. At last, the Elite sighed and started to speak.
“My name is Tras Ikanporamee,” the alien said. “I am an Ultra, the highest rank a Sangheili foot soldier can attain.”
“Wha… What’s a Sangheili?” Jason asked.
“I am Sangheili,” Tras replied, looking at the boy with a harsh expression. “It is the name of my race, though you call us Elites.” This last part he said with quite a bit of disdain.
Jason nodded to indicate that he understood. Perhaps questions weren’t quite wanted. “All right.” He looked ahead again and shut his mouth.
Tras turned and looked straight ahead again. “I was a Special Operations officer. My brothers and I were tasked with helping to secure this city. And we performed admirably; according to our station, all without exception.”
It couldn’t help but cross Jason’s mind that this meant the Elite had been killing quite a few humans. The boy tried not to let this development get the better of him and continued to listen to Tras’s story.
"But tragedy, fell betrayal, struck us. For Jiralhanae, whom you call Brutes, came down in new ships. Before we had a chance to open communications, their foot patrols massacred us. At first we thought it was a Brute rebellion of sorts. Then, something even worse was realized. The Prophets themselves seemed to support this, for we received no aid when we asked for it. Instead, the Jiralhanae found us from where we called and massacred us there as well.
“All night they have been at this. I do not know how many Sangheili are left upon this world, but I do know that I am the last in this city. For even the ancient and secret ways of communication do not reveal any of my brethren. So I chose to hide in this building, to await whatever might come.”
Tras stopped talking now, focusing all his attention on the wall ahead of him. Jason took a moment to let what the Elite had said sink in. “You mean, your own Covenant ditched you?” he asked, speaking up again.
“Betrayed us, yes. Betrayed the sacred Writ of Union in favor of mindless currs. I curse the Hierarchs now for that, for turning away the proud Sangheili race in favor of the coarse Jiralhanae.”
The Elite turned and looked at Jason. “But I shall show them another sort of betrayal, a sort similar to what they showed me.”
“What do you mean?” Jason asked.
“You should not be here, in this city,” Tras stated simply. “It is a battlefield, and the young and untrained have no business on a battlefield. You need to get out, to find your way to somewhere safer, do you not?”
Jason nodded. He could not deny that this was what he needed. Heck, it was what he wanted. Get away from this war-torn place and try to keep alive. That was all he wanted out of life.
Tras nodded and kept his gaze on Jason. “I thought so. And I wish to show that things have changed, both to the Covenant I once knew, and to those who know me as its instrument of swift destruction. You shall be my example.”
This was odd. “What do you mean?” Jason slowly asked.
“From this moment on, consider yourself my charge. I shall keep you safe from harm until I see fit to release you. If and when that time comes all depends on how long the Jiralhanae and the rest of the Covenant take to accomplish what they wish.”
“What are you talking about?” Jason asked, a bit of fear creeping back into his voice again.
Tras turned around and looked over the bed for a moment at the city outside. He growled at something, though at what Jason could not be for sure. Then he looked down at Jason.
“I am saying that you and I must fight together until my brothers from elsewhere come,” he said. “I do not doubt that they will. For I heard, before all went dark, that Truth himself was coming here. And if Truth comes, then they will be sure to follow. For I do not doubt that this has happened elsewhere, this betrayal. My brothers will seek blood for it, his blood. And then they will find us, and we shall be delivered.”
Jason shook his head at this. “What makes you think that I am going to go with you?” A bit of courage was returning to him now.
A hard look from Tras threatened to chase it all away again. “Do you think I like it any more than you do? You are only human, and only a young one at that. But I need someone to go with me, someone to watch out for me because in return I watch out for him. By coming with me, you will ensure your own survival.”
Jason didn’t know what to do. He wanted to refuse this, to throw back all the glassed colonies in-between here and Harvest in Tras’s face and ask him just why he should trust him. But he was still too afraid for that. All he could manage was a glare that tried to sneer.
The glare that Tras gave him in return was far more intimidating. “Sometimes one does not know he has sinned until he glimpses the gates of Perdition itself,” he growled. “What our sin has been I do not know. But I shall conduct myself in accordance with my best guess.”