Always A Stranger, In A Strange Land
The air stung his face with biting chill. The wind, silently moving through the trees on the outskirts of the Sangheili settlement located in the mountainous forests of the planet designated Shiroyama by UNSC scouting fleets. Counter to most Spartan IV's, Ric-040 preferred not to wear the standard Mjolnir augmented tactical helmet. He needed to breathe unfiltered air, see the world as it truly was around him. Unaltered. He made his way down the wooded hill, until reaching the boundary of the outpost. Among several archetypal purple hazed open walled structures were three Sangheili bickering among themselves. Ric understood every word, he knew the language better than most younger Sangheili. Moving in a crouched position, he made his way silently into the camp.
"Why do they ignore us!? Surely they see us as lesser, as defeated warriors! Ever since war's end, they treat us like feral scum!"
"The Humans are rebuilding faster than we anticipated."
Ric circled around the camp, until the Sangheili's fronts faced him. Hidden in the darkness, he took a deep breath, the cold air's sting reminded him he was alive, present. Slowly drawing his silenced M6C/SOCOM, he knelt and placed the pistol over the knee of his black-red Helioskrill Mjolnir. Ric closed his eyes, steadying his breathing.
"It neither matters nor is relevant to our current situation. We must act fast if we are to hinder their progress. Gather the rest of the warriors, we strike at..."
Ric suddenly raised the firearm with an natural steadiness, the back of the speaking Sangheili's head erupted in purple mist. His body fell to the ground. Before the second could react, a bullet impacted the mid-section of his skull. The top half of the cranium splintered, then exploded. The third Sangheili burst out of the open structure, energy sword in hand. Rushing to his fallen comrades, he surveyed the area, growling. Ric sprinted forward at full speed, covering the distance in mere seconds. Before the Sangheili had the opportunity to raise his weapon, Ric's combat knife had sunk itself deep into the top portion of his target's skull. He quickly removed the knife, the body slid backwards and hit the ground.
The air was now even colder. Ric passed over the three bodies, kneeling down to cross each body's arms over their chests. Raising his tac-con link attached to his forearm, he began to raise command.
"040 here, operation complete. Request retrieval one kilometer east of my position. Out."
"Roger 040, we are in the pipe."
The air was no longer refreshing, but bitter.
Ric sat on a bench within the UNSC Infinity's recreational preserve. Under the shade of several cherry blossom trees, he upholstered his combat knife. Still clad in his black-red Helioskrill armor, he lifted his left arm and used his right to begin to carve something into the metal surface. Attempting to find space, he etched the numeral "III." There were several other old Roman numerals cut into the surface of his left gauntlet.
Two off duty Marines strode by, stopping in front of him.
"Only Spartan I ever heard of with Sangheili made armor. You think he's a sympathizer?"
The other Marine began to chuckle.
"He aint natural that's for sure, look at the golden hair on this one. And those red eyes! Jeeze, looks like the devil himself found a spot on The Infinity!"
Ric sat up, and began to walk away. Knife still in hand and un-holstered.
"Hey golden boy, you hear me?! You're a damn Sangheili sympathizer! After all they did to us during the war, you're going to prance around this ship with that armor!? You ask me, we should have nuked every single last one of the bastards! Fuckin' savages, the lot of them!"
Ric was a man who spoke little, he let his actions speak for him. He turned to face the marines, and before they could react he had placed himself only inches from them.
"You know nothing of honor, of loss. If I were you, I would be silent."
The Marines burst with laughter.
"Or what, you going to kill us? Get real you..."
Ric took his knife and thrust it upwards, the blade stopping centimeters from one of the Marine's eyelids. The second, he had grabbed by the collar, lifting him several feet into the air.
"This armor, was made by the only person who I ever cared for. The only one I called "friend." The circumstances of this, are between him and I. A year ago, people like you killed him. He was a Sangheili trader, had nothing to do with the war. And now he's dead, because someone couldn't keep their finger off the trigger and think for themselves."
Ric pushed the marine with the knife had been held to back several feet, he stumbled and fell. Ric's hand released the other, falling with a pronounced thud.
"I ever hear you insult me, or the innocent dead ever again, I'm going to come for you. And the UNSC and ONI wont do a damn thing about it."
The two Marines began to walk away with a brisk pace, stumbling and limping. Ric sat back down on the bench, his eyes beginning to water. Holstering his knife, he stared out into the preserve. The air was warm, and didn't sting.
But he wished it were cold, he wish it stung.