It was a shocking sense, when his eyes opened. He had been sleeping without dreams, and truthfully whatever part of him that could think in that dark abyss, thought he was dead. He was in agonizing pain, which he welcomed, because it confirmed he was alive, but that begged the question, where was he?
His head was resting on his on something soft. He pushed off it, and massaged the ground with his fingers and hands, finding it to be some sort of bedding. He was on a bed in fact, and in a room of dark metal with lights overhead that barely illuminated anything. He was nude, and looked over his body to see if he had been hurt. His arm was in some sort of wrapping. Poking his arm, he nearly screamed from the pain that surged through him. The sling seemed to be dulling the pain, so he resolved to leave it on for the time being. He scooted over the bed (which could have sat him and five or so of his clones), and reached the ground, which was cold and painful on his bare feet. He must have been in someone's quarters, judging by the bed and desk, and an open door that probably lead to a bathroom, and the front door that was closed.
"Lewis?" he asked, calling out. "Lewis?"
No response. He walked to the door, expecting it to slide open as automatic doors always did, but it remained shut. Len touched it softly, and then tried to pry it open with what strength he could muster in his thin arms. When that didn't work, he pounded gently, trying to call for someone to open it. The door did open before him, and his vision shifted to a stretch of brown fur.
"No," Len gasped, letting out a scream and turning, running deeper into the room. "No!"
The Brute shuffled inside, passively looking to Len and then turned back to the door. A thick finger typed a code in to the side panel, and the door sealed shut. The Brute was out of his armor: his long brown fur covering some of his body, his groin and upper legs covered by a pair of black pants, perhaps the Covenant's idea of civilian dress. Len had taken to cowering in the corner, whimpering and crying. The Brute barely seemed to notice him. In fact, it simply shuffled into the bathroom, and Len heard water running. A time later, the Brute came out, drying his facial fur with a towel and throwing it carelessly to the ground. He approached Len, who hadn't moved, and reached a hand out. He lifted Len carefully, though his strong grip on Len's thin arm made Len scream until he was set back down. The Brute pointed to the bathroom, and when Len didn't move, patted his back.
"What do you want?" Len asked. "What do you want?" he screamed.
The Brute guided him to the bathroom, which, truthfully greatly resembled a human one. There was a fixture he would assume was a toilet, a sink, and a shower, though it lacked curtains or frosted glass. The shower was what concerned the Brute, as it ran hot water. Gripping Len, he forced him under the water.
A part of Len honestly thought that it might be acid that came from the shower's head. Or fire water. Or a strong base that would melt Len's skin off his bones. It was a little hot, but just water.
And suddenly, Len realized the Brute was no longer around. Its hand had left his arm, and he was alone with the shower washing over him, the warm, oddly pleasant water… when was the last time he had had a shower? A horrible life, endless days and sleepless nights, he never bothered with personal grooming. And now what could he look forward to? What would the Brute do with him? What horrors… before the fear and loathing and hatred set in, he closed his eyes and enjoyed the rush of warm water over his aching skin. He washed himself with lathers and creams that smelled pleasant and didn't burn his skin too bad. He washed himself, and when he actually felt vaguely clean, he just stood under the hot water, until the fear and disgust grew too intense and he left the shower, dripping wet. He left the room he was in, water trailing him, and headed into the main quarters.
The Brute had been sitting at its desk, and hearing Len, turned to him. He snarled and stomped over, and Len began to back away, but slipped on the wet ground and landed hard on his back and rump. The Brute loomed over him, staring, mouth twitching. Reaching down, he picked Len up, and stood him up, then positioned him against one of the walls in the bathroom. The Brute pressed a button, and from some unseen vent a breath of hot hair blew forward. Len was almost pushed back again but the Brute held him, as the hot air continued to wash over him, quickly drying his skin. The Brute turned him around, so his back would dry as well, before bringing him back out and sitting him on the bed.
"What do you want?" Len demanded. Still, the Brute ignored him. He walked over to his desk and picked up a can, that was soon dropped into Len's lap. "Rations? Did you steal these from the ship? Brute, what happened? Why am I here?"
The Brute sighed and rubbed his head, clearly getting annoyed at Len's constant voice. He walked over, and lowered to one knee, though was still massive compared to Len's small form. "Yeah… I recognize you. Bridge, a few years ago. What of-" A finger of the Brute touched Len's lips, silencing him. The Brute used the same finger to point to the ration.
"So you're fattening me up?" Len asked, looking down at the ration, to which the Brute once more sighed, and this time made a "Shhhh" gesture with his own mouth.
Len stood from the bed, and walked about the room. The Brute, snorting gently, watched him as he moved about, growling and clearly agitated. "So, you're not going to kill me, I gather that. Even if your first thought was to fatten me up, you would have brained me by now, isn't that right? You want something from me, don't you? Well Brute, jokes on you, I don't know a goddamn thing." Len turned to the Brute, feeling a bit smug. "I don't know the coordinates of Earth or any of our colonies or anything you might like. You know my specialty? Biology, xenology. I could give you a physical if you wanted, but that's it." Len stared at the Brute. "Do you recognize me? I mean, I recognize you: brown fur, green eyes, war hammer, bad people skills. But, do you recognize me from before? Is that why you grabbed me? Was… did you attack the ship just to get me? Cause I don't have my bible anymore. There is nothing I have for you, you fucking animal. Now say something!"
The Brute could have stomped over and torn Len's head off, and it would have been worth it, seeing the Brute's level of frustration growing. It somehow felt good, to take a bit of revenge on the beast that had caused him such trouble and pain. The Brute sighed, and once more stood up. It lifted a finger to its thick lips and breathed out, before picking up the ration can and once more offering it.
Len sat down on the bed, and stared at the ration can a moment. The Brute walked over to his bed (which was against one of the walls), and climbed in. His loud snores soon filled the room as he slipped into sleep. Len ate the ration, using his hands to scoop out contents, and when it was empty, he lay down on his bed (which was where he had woken up) and closed his eyes, slipping into another dreamless sleep.
"Can I have some clothing?" Len asked, the following day. When he had woken up, the Brute was gone, although the empty ration can had been replaced with a fresh one, which Len ate voraciously, finding himself oddly hungry. And then he waited until the Brute came back. "Clothing," Len said again. He pointed at the pants the Brute wore, then at his own bare lower body. He didn't enjoy being nude, but he didn't feel a sense of shame, viewing the Brute as little above a simple animal. The Brute muttered something in its growls, but left the room, coming back some time later with a pair of pants. At first Len couldn't imagine they would fit, but they were made of some sort of elastic material that could slip onto him with only a bit of wrestling. He felt better to have something covering him, and looked to the Brute. "Thank you," he said.
The Brute didn't respond. It made the gesture for Len to follow, which Len, actually rather eager to finally leave this room and see what it was like on a real Covenant ship, did without any hesitation. The hallways were made of the same dark material as the inside of the room, with the slightly glowing lights lining the floors and ceiling. Why the Covenant would like such dark surroundings was beyond him, but he made note of it nonetheless. He followed the Brute, its large frame an easy to follow silhouette in the dim lights. When the Brute moved to the side of the hallway, Len mimicked the gesture, and moved closer to its back when a pair of Elites passed them. These two Elites both wore red armor, and their glares were quite apparent, even in the darkness of the hall. Len wondered if they were glaring at him, or the Brute. Either way, he was happy when they passed, and Len resumed his walk.
He was brought into a room that at first Len didn't understand the purpose of. It was brighter lit than the other rooms, with several oddly shaped things lining the walls, and several mirrors. The Brute shuffled to one of the walls, and between two dexterous fingers picked up what Len would later figure out was the Covenant's equivalent of a free weight. The Brute brought it to Len, and stretched out his hand. Instinctively, Len took it, but when the Brute let go, Len felt his hand come crashing to the ground. Len's body followed, and he was suddenly on the ground. Looking forward, he saw the Brute's feet, and heard and felt deep laughter rumble above him. The Brute squatted down, and wrapping one hand around Len's torso, effortlessly brought Len back to his feet. Picking up the free weight, the Brute walked to the wall and selected a smaller one, bringing it back to Len. Len was more careful in reaching for it, and managed to hold it with both hands, though even then he was struggling slightly.
The Brute held the hands that held the weight, and aided Len in lifting it, up and down, up and down. His arms soon began to ache, but he gritted his teeth and continued, until the Brute eased the weight into his own hand and allowed Len to rest.
This continued for ten cycles… this insane routine. Every morning, Len ate and showered, exercised, and then was brought back to the room to eat once more. Most of his down time was spent sleeping or staring at the walls, at least when the Brute wasn't there. When the Brute was in, Len found himself staring at him. Perhaps the Brute wanted him as a pet. That would explain so much. And the Brute was very strict about his feeding times, perhaps because he thought Len was malnourished.
It was an insane routine, but Len had to admit… he didn't mind it. Brute was mostly passive towards him, only interacting to make sure he had eaten or take him to the gym to exercise. When he was inside, the Brute left him alone. If Len wanted to stretch his legs, he would tap the Brute's side and gesture to the door, and the Brute escorted him about the ship with bored passivity. He never struck Len, perhaps because Len never earned a strike across the jaw.
It was remarkable how little the Brute actually paid attention to him. He didn't seem concerned that Len lingered a bit too long on the bridge or in the engine room. He just passively stood aside while Len examined it. Perhaps the Brute knew Len would never escape, but Len didn't care. It was fascinating to see the ship in actions. And, truthfully, he felt safe when the Brute was around. The Elites never hesitated to give him a glare or snarl, but the Brute was always there, gave a token snarl back and they were on their way.
Ten cycles passed. Ten of these insane cycles, and by the last, Len actually fancied that he was looking rather good. Of course, being on a ship of aliens who would have made the world's strongest man look like an infant, Len still felt vaguely inadequate. Especially when he watched the Brute's weight training regime, which was nothing short of madness. But when he looked in the mirror, and looked at himself, as a human, and compared himself to how he used to be, he had to admit he looked good. He had a sort of lean, slim physique now, the result of the high protein rations and the weight training the Brute had put him through, every day for all those hours. Sometimes he dreamed about going back to school, and beating the living hell out of all the bullies he had had to deal with. Or getting into a fight with Lewis. Even if he didn't win, he imagined he could get a few good hits in.
But then on the eleventh cycle, the Brute gestured that Len was to follow. First, Len was brought to an armory, and was given an armored cuirass that Len had seen the Jackals on the ship wear. With that, the Brute brought Len onto a dropship, and sat him down on in the co-pilot's seat. The Brute piloted the dropship through the recesses of space, away from whatever ship they had been living on, and approached something absolutely massive. Len had been on human ships before. He had been on science vessels that boasted entire city populations, double a city's population, because there were the people who maintained the ship and the scientists who worked on new weapons. He had walked through those ships, and smiled because he believed humanity had truly done something amazing. But sitting in the dropship beside the Brute, and seeing the ship that could have been a world in and of itself, it was awe inspiring.
The dropship moved into a hangar, and landed. Len looked the Brute for some direction of what to do. The Brute stood, and when Len stood as well, the Brute took Len by the shoulder. Len swallowed, and looked up to the Chieftain's eyes. The Chieftain simply made the "Shhh" gesture, and then positioned Len at his front as they started to walk.
For how large the ship was, Len was almost expecting Elites and Brutes to be going about shoulder to shoulder. He almost expected to see a crowded city, thousands and millions of aliens barely able to move like how several cities back on Earth were. To his great surprise, the hangar was almost completely empty. There were a couple of jelly-fishes floating about, the real name of their species escaped Len at the moment. And a couple of giant insects fluttered about. And a pudgy Grunt that was there to greet him and his bodyguard. The Grunt squeaked a few words, the Brute growled, and then they were moving once more, out of the hangar, into the hallways. They crisscrossed several times, moving faster when they passed a patrolling Elite, and at last came to a doorway. The Brute lifted his hand to open the door somehow, but then hesitated and actually took a step back (Len had to step to his side or he might have accidentally been trampled).
If a Brute was capable of fear, then whatever was behind the doorway was terrifying to the Chieftain. He sighed, and rubbed his eyes, before looking to Len. He placed his hand upon the door, and the door opened. Putting Len in front of him, a knee to the rump kicked the little human inside, and the door closed with a low whirr. Len tried opening it, but of course it didn't. And without anything else to do, he turned towards the other side of the room, noticing the room was actually fairly well lit, and sitting at the farthest end of the room, in a grand throne, was a Prophet.