Halo: Final Stand — A Halo Short-Story

Dramatis Personae

Oturu Xamo Mitli (Lekgolo Goliath)

Kuvo ‘Suham (Sangheili Ranger)

Ruwand Deme Wora (Mgalekgolo)

Pavium (Jiralhanae Warlord)

 

Side Note: Since Lekgolo are genderless, both Lekgolo based characters in this story are represented with “it” as the pronoun. 


Date: June 4th, 2559

Location: High Charity crash site, on The Ark

This short story takes place during the Banished’s attempt to scour the ruins of the Covenant’s holy city, High Charity. After encountering the Flood, the Jiralhanae Warlord Pavium and his troops engage in a fighting retreat in order to evacuate the area. 


 

Break through. Break through. Break through. 

Oturu Xamo Mitli repeatedly pummeled the debris with its large, armored appendages. It could hear the sounds of battle all around as the cursed Flood slowly overwhelmed the Banished forces. It could hear the howls of pain and the gasps of fear from Jiralhanae and Sangheili as they were infected by the parasite.

This was madness.

Suddenly, it felt a searing sensation on the back of its torso; a plasma round had grazed the exposed Lekgolo between Oturu’s armor plating. Roaring in anger, Oturu ripped off a large chunk of metal from the wreckage in front of it and turned to hurl it at the infected Jiralhanae that had inflicted the wound. Before it could do so, however, a green-colored projectile smashed through the creature, puncturing the infection form inside and causing the entirety of the abomination to collapse in a pile of blood, bone and biomass.

“Keep knocking down the barrier, Oturu — I will cover you!”

That was Kuvo, thought Oturu. The Sangheili Ranger had been the closest thing that it had to a bond brother ever since Oturu’s original colony and its sister colony were painfully combined into one collective. Time and time again, Kuvo and Oturu had saved each other’s lives on the battlefield. The companionship that these experiences had forged between the two was unbreakable.

Right now, Oturu was grateful that it could rely on Kuvo’s exemplary skills with a carbine.

Break through. Break through. Break through…

It threw the wreckage aside and continued the smashing efforts. The Lekgolo at the ends of each of Oturu’s “arms” were now being killed by the sharp edges of the rubble it was attempting to smash through, but it could not stop. The Banished forces were depending on Oturu.

Thick orange blood began to ooze from the tips of its hands, but it ignored the pain and continued on. Then, Oturu heard an Unggoy scream. It was a horrific scream, the kind that it had never heard before.

The kind that creatures make as they’re being shredded alive.

It sent a chilling wave of shock throughout Oturu’s worms, but again, it could not stop.

Pavium, the Jiralhanae Warlord present, turned to Oturu as he fired several grenades into a mass of Flood forms nearby. “Hurry, Goliath! If you do not smash through that debris soon, then we will die here!”

With a bellowing of frustration, Oturu began to use its head as well as its arms to smash through this damned pile of metal. Oturu and the countless soldiers that it had fought beside for months would not die because of its failure. Oturu swore it.

Several bludgeons later, and Oturu could feel a small part of his appendage piercing the other side of the wreckage. Pavium must have seen that the obstacle was beginning to collapse, too, because he barked,”The Goliath is almost through! Protect it at all costs!”

Unfortunately, the Flood took note of this and began to increase the intensity of their assault, not wanting their prey to escape. As Oturu continued to smash through the barrier of debris, it could feel several plasma and spike rounds embed themselves in either its Lekgolo or its armor. Despite the best efforts of the remaining Banished forces, there were simply too many to hold off all at once.

Oturu heard Kuvo shout, “Hold on, Oturu! We’re covering you as best we can!” before it felt a large, metallic object press up against its back. Quickly looking behind, Oturu saw that the object was in fact a lone Mgalekgolo crouched down and holding its shield up to protect itself and Oturu both. Its bond brother was nowhere in sight.

Grateful for the protection, Oturu returned its attention to the now crumbling wall of alloy. As it repeatedly pummeled the barrier with all it had, it began to hear the sounds of the wreckage collapsing.

So close…

The Mgalekgolo behind Oturu let off several fuel rod cannon blasts in rapid succession. Another Unggoy began screaming, this one begging for its life uselessly as the wretched parasite tore it to ribbons. As the Flood began to close in, the sound of dozens of Banished rounds finding their targets sounded over and over with several soft, wet impacts.

And yet, they still came.

With a thundering outcry, Oturu delivered a final, savage blow to the towering barricade of metal. The entire middle of the obstacle collapsed; the path was clear.

Immediately, Pavium got to work organizing a retreat. “Rangers, provide covering fire! Mgalekgolo, Jiralhanae, and Unggoy, through the opening. Once we’re through, the Sangheili will follow up the rear.”

Pavium then turned to Oturu. “Goliath, cover our retreat.”

Oturu froze as several Jiralhanae, Mgalekgolo and Unggoy began to sprint past him, firing weapons over their shoulders as they ran to escape. Covering their retreat meant dying here, alone, facing more Flood than Oturu wanted to believe existed.

As much as Oturu wanted to protest, it knew that it could not resist the command. Pavium would order the Banished forces to kill Oturu, and if it was to die, then it would rather die killing as many of these disturbing creatures as it could. That would be a better death than to be gunned down by fellow soldiers who were forced to kill Oturu or face their own deaths.

Oturu looked at Pavium and nodded. Kuvo quickly came over to the two of them.

Pavium was not pleased. “Ranger, why have you left your post? Were my orders unclear?”

Kuvo looked Pavium in the eye and pointed towards the battlefield. “Their numbers have thinned. They have retreated for now, likely in preparation for assault on the next position.”

Pavium looked furious that one of the Sangheili mercenaries was addressing him as if he was his equal. “Then go! Tell the others they can join with the rest of the retreating forces. Find a defensible position and begin to set up sniper posts.”

Kuvo met Pavium’s gaze once more, and shook his head in refusal. “No. I will stay here and fight with Oturu.”

If Pavium looked furious before, he was seething with hatred now. “You. Do. Not. Defy. My. Orders.” He raised his energy mace, preparing to strike.

Oturu, in that moment, decided that its friend’s safety was more important than pleasing Pavium.

Damn this Warlord. He and his Jiralhanae didn’t care about the Lekgolo or the Sangheili under their command at all. They were nothing but cannon fodder to be used when Atriox willed it. Oturu moved to step in and defend Kuvo. However, before it could do so, Kuvo raised his carbine and aimed it squarely between Pavium’s eyes.

“Do you think I’m afraid of you?” He said. “You do not scare me. The wrath of Atriox does not scare me. Death does not scare me. The only thing that does scare me is the shame of dishonor. And leaving my ally and friend to die, alone, to these things, would be the most dishonorable act any Sangheili has ever committed.”

Pavium’s face contorted into an expression of distaste. “You Sangheili and your wretched honor. Fine, stay here and die.”

Suddenly, the three of them heard heavy footsteps approaching. They all turned to find a Mgalekgolo walking towards them. Oturu recognized it as the same one that had protected it during the battle.

It cocked its head at Pavium, than turned to Kuvo and began to speak in Sangheili. This skill often proved useful, Oturu knew, as without Huragok or Sangheili that could understand a Lekgolo form, it was effectively unable to communicate with Jiralhanae.

Kuvo nodded to the Mgalekgolo, and then returned his gaze to Pavium. “It says that it’s staying as well. It’s bond brother fell to the Flood, and without it, it wishes to leave this world. It feels that it has nothing to live for.”

Pavium growled loudly and looked as if he was about to attack the Mgalekgolo, but then seemed to realize how low his odds would be in that fight. “I don’t have time for this. You two can stay here and die with the Goliath if that is what you wish!”

Pavium, with one final loathing glare, jogged through the escape opening. His heavy footsteps became quieter and quieter, until they were gone.

Oturu, Kuvo, and the Mgalekgolo were alone.

Kuvo looked out towards the scene of the fighting. “It is almost amusing how quiet the battlefield becomes after fighting has concluded. The sounds of combat are deafening; the sound of the calm afterward is, ironically, peaceful.”

Oturu nodded. It seemed like a strange observation, but then it supposed that being close to your death made you focus on things like ironies. There was comfort in the small amounts of humor drawn from them.

The trio continued to stare at the empty horizon for several seconds, taking in the scene at which they would draw a line in the sand once the Flood returned. The Mgalekgolo, suddenly, turned to Oturu and began to speak in the Lekgolo vibratory language.

<What is your name?> 

<I am Oturu Xamo Mitli. What is yours?>

<Ruwand Deme Wora.>

<I see. I am sorry for the loss of your bond brother. What was its name?>

<Faho Deme Naru. Faho was slain in battle when Banished troops tainted with the parasite ripped out its Lekgolo with their damned tentatcles.>

The thought of such a death made Oturu uncomfortable. It made each worm in its massive form shudder. It shook itself of the sensation, and then continued:

<I’m sure that Faho fought ferociously. They will sing war poetry about its honor and skill for generations to come.>

<No they won’t; those who knew of Faho are likely doomed to die under Atriox on this Installation. But your words are kind nonetheless. Thank you.>

Oturu noticed that Kuvo had turned his attention to the two of them, and was patiently waiting for them to finish their conversation. With both Oturu and Ruwand finished speaking, Kuvo asked Oturu a question.

“Have I ever told you how I came to join with the Banished?”

Oturu shook its head. “No, I do not believe you have.”

Kuvo nodded, then said, “I was a Ranger defending one of the moons of Malurok. The Banished launched a raid on the Covenant arms facility there. Atriox personally lead the assault, and while my brothers fought bravely and killed many, we didn’t have nearly as many troops as we needed in order to actually repel the Jiralhanae.”

He sighed and continued, “It quickly became clear to us that this wasn’t a winnable fight, so we decided that we were going to take as many of the bastards as we could with us. We transformed that place into hell. Proximity explosives, ambush zones, and everything between. And the damn fools just rushed in through the front door. Between our ordnance, our carbines and our blades, we must have killed over a hundred Jiralhanae that day.”

Kuvo’s voice had the faintest hint of pride at that. He quickly returned to his somber tone, however. “Sadly, though, it was evident that Atriox was not going to leave without the arms and armor from the facility, and with help from Malurok over an hour away, defeat was assured. Regardless, we prepared for our last encounter. As the Banished broke through into the final room, we — just four of us left — gave the beasts everything we had. I had never fought with such vigor ever before. None of us had. And yet, despite this, I was painfully reminded that victory was impossible. Dreg was the first warrior to fall — a volley of spike rifle rounds. Shortly after, Lhar was snuffed out by the impact of a gravity hammer to his skull.”

“It was just Syzo and I left. As we hopelessly battled against the onslaught, Syzo was stabbed through one of his hearts with the blade of a brute grenade launcher. Before they could kill me too, however, Atriox walked into the room and waved his troops off the attack. He told me that he was impressed by my skills as a Ranger, told me that the Covenant considered us all nothing more than cannon fodder for a pointless cause.”

An eerie, high pitched screech echoed in the distance. The Flood were going to launch their next attack any minute.

The three of them all warily looked towards the direction of the sound. After making sure they were still all clear, Kuvo continued his story.

“Of course, I didn’t believe him or listen to his rhetoric at first. As a Covenant soldier, I was drilled to be faithful to the Journey, above all else. At the time, though, I had many personal doubts about the Covenant, too. Listening to Atriox put those doubts into words convinced me, eventually, that he was right. And even though I hated him and his Banished for slaughtering my comrades, the realization that the lives of countless Covenant species were being wasted on a religion rife with unknowns and uncertainties made me hate the Covenant even more. So I joined them. I joined them in order to have a way to strike back at the Covenant.”

Oturu placed one of its appendage’s “fingers” on Kuvo’s shoulder plate. It was the closest thing resembling a comforting gesture Oturu could perform.

“Kuvo…that is terrible.”

Kuvo sighed again, and went on. “Yes, it was. But Pavium’s order to you, Oturu, made me realize something. Atriox and his Jiralhanae stood against the practices of the Covenant, yet they repeat them in their own faction. Pavium has sent you to the slaughter, just like the Prophets sent Atriox. They are no better than the Covenant. I should have died fighting honorably on Malurok. But now I am here, with you. This is where we — — make the final stand. And I’m honored to fight by your side.”

Oturu was taken slightly aback. “I feel the same way.”

Ruwand spoke then. “Ever since Faho’s death, I have wanted to join my bond brother in the grave. I’ve wanted to die for no other reason but to end my pains. But fighting alongside the two of you would make Faho pleased. I’m grateful for the fact. Today, I will die for not only myself, but for you as well.”

Kuvo and Oturu both bowed their heads respectfully. Ruwand’s priorities lied with its family, its bond brother. Both of them could understand this.

The screeching began again, much closer this time. All three of them immediately turned, alerted.

A lone Flood combat form lurked a little over two hundred meters away. It was slowly shambling towards them, its tentacle idly wobbling at its side. The form was a Sangheili; the entirety of its head had been forcefully snapped to the base of the neck by the infection form lurking within the creature. All that remained now of the warrior was patches of armor from the Sangheili’s combat harness.

It continued to stumble forward for a few meters, and then stopped. It stood idle for a moment staring ominously at the trio, before tilting its head back, opening what remained of the Sangheili’s jaws, and unleashing a horrible, angry shriek. As it did so, dozens of infection forms appeared behind it, rushing past the abomination and directly hurtling towards Kuvo, Ruwand and Oturu.

Kuvo raised his carbine and began to fire shots at the infection forms. “This wretched parasite is going to know pain.

Carbine rounds impacted with several infection forms, causing them to “pop” like sacs of liquid. Ruwand let loose a volley of fuel rod cannon projectiles at the combat form, vaporizing it. However, another combat form soon took its place, and then another appeared, and then another. Within seconds there were six forms coming towards them, running now, with several more following behind them.

As Ruwand began to rapidly fire its weapon, Oturu charged forward and smashed two of the forms into the earth with its fists. The infection form inside one of them managed to jump out and onto Oturu, however, and made its way to some of its Lekgolo worms.

The Flood were in their feral stage, Oturu remembered. They don’t know that they can’t infect the Lekgolo.

Oturu was eager to use this to its advantage.

As the infection form prodded Oturu’s insides with its limbs, no doubt trying to infect it, Oturu commanded its Lekgolo to tighten around them. The form began to struggle against them, to no avail. The Lekgolo then wrapped themselves arond the form entirely. It could not move.

Oturu was going to crush it.

The Lekgolo forcefully constricted the infection form. It began to “squeal” in pain, louder and louder, until the form exploded in a burst of blood.

Oturu quickly turned his attention back to the advancing foe. There were now a dozen combat forms approaching, seemingly out of thin air, and double as many infection forms. Kuvo was methodically killing each of the infection forms with single carbine shots, while Ruwand was doing its best to keep the combat forms at bay with its fuel rod weapon.

Oturu leapt into the fray, pummeling the wretched monstrosities left and right. Those that it did not flatten were killed by Kuvo and Ruwand.

Despite Oturu’s best efforts, though, some Flood were able to dodge both its crushing attempts and the fire of Kuvo and Ruwand and get close to them. Kuvo, with a roar, delivered a savage kick to an infection form, killing it instantly. Another jumped on his back, but before it could infect him, Kuvo reached back and pulled it off of him, crushing it in his hands before returning his attention to his carbine, his hand dripping with blood and pus.

Ruwand, meanwhile, was engaged in combat with several combat forms. It was slamming its thick shield into the midsections of the Flood thralls, completely bisecting them with the sharp edges of the metal. One form, a Jiralhanae, leaped at Ruwand from behind and slashed its exposed rear with its tentacle; in response, Ruwand howled in pain and threw its back into a nearby rock. The Flood form was instantly killed between the rock and the spikes on Ruwand’s armor.

Both Kuvo and Ruwand began to step back, putting more distance between themselves and the horde of oncoming Flood. There were at least two dozen combat forms now, and what seemed like hundreds of infection forms. Realizing that trying to hold the line here now was pointless, Oturu quickly turned around and sprinted to the position of his allies.

As Oturu ran, the sounds of its comrades and their weapons discharging rang in its ears, only to be drowned out by a deafening, blood-curdling bellow from the parasite just behind.

When he reached Kuvo and Ruwand and turned around, he was greeted with the sight of an ocean of sickly green flesh coming to meet them like a tide. The sound of click-click-click told Oturu that Kuvo’s carbine had just run empty of ammunition. Kuvo threw the carbine aside and drew his energy blade.

Ruwand, who was hopelessly blasting away at the waves of the abominations, began to charge forward and yelled, “Faho! I will be at your side once more!” Ruwand sprinted directly through several combat forms, knocking them to pieces, as it smashed several more into the dirt with its shield. Several Flood-controlled tentacles, energy swords and spike rifle blades were plunged into Ruwand’s already damaged rear.

Ruwand roared in pain and fury and fell to the ground. As it was enveloped by the parasite, Oturu heard Ruwand speak one last time before going still.

<At last, I am free…>

It was just Kuvo and Oturu now.

As the Flood met the two warriors, they both began to cut, swing, and slash their way through countless puppets of this damned infestation. Oturu saw Sangheili and Jiralhanae that he had fought with just several minutes before, now turned into these grotesque mutations of their former selves. It was wrong. It was an abuse of nature. And seeing so many of them enraged Oturu.

Leaping forward, Oturu slammed all four of its appendages down into the ground, creating a shockwave that caused dozens of the combat forms to simply fall to the earth in mounds of organs, skin, and bone. Kuvo quickly primed a plasma grenade, throwing it into a congregation of Flood. The grenade exploded in a blinding flash of boiling plasma and gasses, vaporizing several warriors of the parasite entirely and partially disintegrating others.

Kuvo twirled and weaved between attacks, gracefully cutting dozens of Flood in two all around him. He quickly became surrounded, though, and Oturu knew that it needed to help him. Oturu, however, was completely surrounded as well; even with the gargantuan strength it possessed, wading through the army of the disease was impossible. Oturu could only desperately pummel several of the forms only to watch several more take their place in an instant.

The energy on Kuvo’s blade then ran out. Left with no other weapon to defend himself, Kuvo simply began to fight the parasite with his bare hands. He managed to punch through the chest of one, and was about to kick out the legs of another when a volley of bolts from a plasma pistol knocked out his shielding and staggered him. In this moment of weakness, one of the combat forms stabbed Kuvo through his back with its sharpened tentacle, piercing his armor harness and penetrating his midsection. Kuvo gasped in pain, and began to cough up copious amounts of blood.

NO!

Oturu, in shock, could only look on as Kuvo looked down at the tentacle protruding through his body. Kuvo then turned his gaze to Oturu as he shakily removed another plasma grenade from his belt and primed it.

“Goodbye, my friend,” he said.

The grenade detonated then, completely encapsulating Kuvo and several combat and infection forms in a bubble of molten energy. When the smoke cleared, nothing was left.

Oturu fell to the ground and immediately bellowed in sorrow. It could now feel the hundreds of Flood slashing and clawing at its Lekgolo, but it did not care.

Kuvo was gone. 

Oturu continued its remorseful outcries, its pain unbearable. The vibrations of its sadness shook the very ground beneath Oturu, causing several Flood to fall on top of it, which began to pull off Oturu’s armor and expose more of its Lekgolo. But it did not care.

My friend is gone.

With one final roar of heartbreak, Oturu finally fell still, a massive pool of orange blood forming around the countless dead Lekgolo within its body.

Left with no other foe, the Flood began to advance through the hole in the wreckage in search of more insignificant life forms to assimilate into their collective.

The sounds of thousands of walking and running thralls filled the air, though nobody remained to hear them. And when the massive armies of the parasite finally moved through the area, all that remained was silence.


Author’s Notes

Wow. This was really hard to write.

It’s interesting, after years of study and writing practice, to see just how different writing fiction is compared to creating articles. In many ways, it’s like a completely different language. And as you can probably tell by this piece, it’s not a language I’m accustomed to speaking.

Still, though, I wanted to challenge myself to create something outside of my comfort zone, and I think that this didn’t turn out terribly. I spent almost a week trying to make this the best it could be, and while I’m not super enthused with the result, I’m proud of myself for writing it nonetheless. I hope that you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

I chose this moment in the Halo universe to write about because I wanted to add character and meaning to a moment in Awakening the Nightmare that was, for all intents and purposes, devoid of it. The moment where Pavium tells the Goliath to hold the Flood off is insignificant in the game, and rightfully so: it has no major impact on the story itself. But I wanted to take this moment and show it from another perspective, the perspective of the Goliath itself.

Of course, I tweaked some things, such as the two other characters and Pavium himself, but again, it’s such a small part of the overall Flood outbreak on the Ark that I think it’s worth it to bend the canon. After all, this is just a fanfiction. Thankfully, though, I was able to keep some things in-line with it as well. Thanks to Ghosts of Onyx, I was able to make Lekgolo characters with accurate naming structure.

Let me know of what you thought of it either here or on my Twitter!

Also, before I go, a MASSIVE thank you goes out to Joshua Ezzell for creating the illustration of the story. It’s truly amazing! And if you’re interested in downloading it (either the book cover variant or the wallpaper one) you can do so right here. Here are the images:

Final-Stand-Image.jpg

Wallpaper-Final.png

 

That wraps it up for today everyone. Thank you so much for reading, and remember to eat copious amounts of unhealthy junk food and play good video games. I’m currently replaying Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords. What a treat!

Until next time, brothers.

Love, Lor

4 thoughts on “Halo: Final Stand — A Halo Short-Story

  1. Holy shit, that was beautiful. Thank you for writing that Lor

    Like

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