Ash Mitchell was a man rose from humble beginnings to become a distinguished soldier during the Human-Covenant War, participating in some of its bloodiest battles as an Orbital Drop Shock Trooper. A hard-working and dependable individual, Ash would earn the respect of his comrades as he saw them through the war's final battles and continued to serve as an officer for several years until his doubts over the UNSC's post-war direction led to his departure from the military in 2555.
Seeking to earn a living as a mercenary out on the galaxy's new frontier, he tried to make a difference across the lawless planets at the very fringe of colonised space as part of a misguided attempt to do some good without official procedure holding him back. Disillusioned with the state of things and increasingly desperate, Mitchell would end up working for the elusive terrorist known as Magnus on a number of operations, building a reputation as a terrifying enforcer in the criminal underworld.
He was eventually framed by Magnus after a bloody massacre on Circumstance in 2556 and left for dead, hunted by both the UNSC and numerous bounty hunters. Reviled as the 'Butcher of Kuiper', Mitchell went on the run for some time before joining the crew of the Dynasty under another fugitive, Amanda Wade. The pair would embark on a lengthy campaign of vengeance against those who wronged them, only to lose almost everything in the process after a disastrous mission to Madrigal. Mitchell and his partner would go into hiding following this, tired of what he saw as a pointless fight against vastly superior foes.
Ash Mitchell was born on Earth in Cleveland, Ohio, in the United Republic of North America. The year he was born, 2525, was the first year of the devastating Human-Covenant War, which would claim billions of lives. As such, Ash grew up hearing stories about the far-off war against an alien alliance, though much of the information put through the media was heavily filtered. When he was six, his mother and uncle joined the UNSC Marine Corps and were shipped off to fight the Covenant, leaving his father to bring the young boy up. After a few months, word came back that they, along with their entire company, had been declared missing with the UNSC Spirit of Fire. The loss of two family members at such a young age had a great effect on Ash. At school, he refused to discuss his mother with other students, and was reprimanded on more than one occasion for his violent outbursts. He was an average pupil, better at sports and other physical activities than subjects such as science. Ash was not, however, lacking in intelligence, displaying a keen intellect that was largely let down by his own laziness in class. He ended up leaving school at seventeen in 2542 with a handful of decent grades and little to do with them, having very few ideas of what to do for his future.
After a month of doing very little, Ash's father gave him the ultimatum of finding work of some kind, or joining the military. Largely to spite his father, Ash chose the latter, believing that he would be assigned to some kind of colonial militia or remote outpost. He signed up, and was later sent to Reach for his basic training. It was there that Ash realised the true scale of the war, which had been downplayed somewhat by the mainstream media; Colonies glassed, millions dead, and victories that were few and far between. After a few weeks of basic training, Ash Mitchell and his company were dispatched to fight the Covenant on the colony world of Boundary.
Battle of Boundary
By the time Mitchell's Marine Company arrived on the besieged planet, things were already looking dire for the UNSC defenders on the ground. The city they were deployed in was under siege by the Covenant, whom were largely being held back by the sacrifice of hundreds of human troops, fighting street-by-street in what was quickly becoming a losing battle. The Pelican carrying Mitchell's squad touched down and was destroyed by plasma bombardment moments after the marines disembarked, killing three and forcing the rest to run for cover in the ruins.
After managing to link up with more UNSC forces, the survivors of the squad saw their first taste of action against the Covenant; Mitchell managed to kill several Grunts with his assault rifle as they charged his position. The Marines there were able to hold their ground against ever-increasing numbers of enemy troops until plasma mortars began to hit, killing a majority of the troops there and pushing the others back. Mitchell was struck in the shoulder by a bolt of plasma, falling to the floor in agony while the rest of his squad retreated. As the young Marine attempted to crawl away, a Sangheili warrior discovered him and kicked him over, preparing to finish him with its energy sword.
Before the alien could finish Mitchell off, it was hit with several bursts of rifle fire and killed. A platoon of Orbital Drop Shock Troopers had arrived, hitting the Covenant hard as more reinforcements were dropped in. As they cleared the buildings, one of them introduced himself to the wounded Marine as Captain Henry McNair, helping him up and taking him to a field medic before returning to the battle with the rest of his platoon. Luckily the wound was not serious, though by the time Mitchell was sent back into combat the retreat order had already been sounded, with groups of Human fighters making last-ditch efforts against Covenant ships and troops to buy the evacuation precious time. The surviving Marines made it back to the fleet aboard Pelican dropships, and fled the system before the Covenant began to glass the planet.
Boundary was the first of many battles that Mitchell would participate in over the course of the Human-Covenant War. After a few years of service, in 2545, he decided to volunteer to join the elite Orbital Drop Shock Troopers, or ODST's. Mitchell was taken to Reach alongside several dozen other volunteers, where he met with a young man named Mal Roberts for the first time. The two became very good friends over the course of their training, helping each other out where possible. The recruits were trained by none other than Captain McNair, to whom Mitchell owed a debt for saving his life on Boundary. After two months of intense training, during which over two thirds of the applicants had dropped out, both Mitchell and Roberts 'graduated' as fully-fledged ODST's, the former turning out at the head of their group.
In August 2545, the new ODST group had been deployed with Echo 1-1, a platoon-sized group stationed on the UNSC Pride. Mitchell was surprised to encounter McNair once more, who had been assigned to lead them while taking a break from his training duties. While in the system, a Covenant fleet had arrived, sending the UNSC defenders into full alert. As the vanguard of an invasion force began to land on the planet, the ODST's were deployed into the city of New Albany and it's surrounding areas. McNair ordered most of the platoon to defend an ODG complex in the mountains, while he and a small squad, which included Mitchell and Roberts, helped to secure the city. Commandeering two warthogs from a passing Pelican, the squad set up a roadblock on the way into the heavily populated areas of New Albany, fending off Covenant forces to allow the evacuation to proceed. This went on for some time before heavy plasma bombardment forced them back with heavy casualties. Forced to retreat, the ODST's drove through the city until they fell into a Sangheili ambush. They would have been killed there, had it not been for the timely intervention of the SPARTAN-II Sigma Team, who fought off the enemy and secured the area. Rather than join up with the team of supersoldiers, McNair instead ordered them to defend the evacuation at the city spaceport before leaving.
While they drove out of New Albany to link up with the rest of Echo 1-1, Mitchell questioned the veteran trooper about his disposition against the Spartans, and was told of an incident on the UNSC Atlas many years before that left several ODST's in McNair's battalion dead. Though Mitchell suggested that he let it go, as one isolated incident should not corrupt his views against the Spartans, the Captain ignored him, being quite ingrained in his beliefs. Once the survivors arrived at the ODG Complex, the troopers stood by as a massive Covenant force overwhelmed New Albany as the civilian evacuation ended in a reasonable success. The complex, which powered one of the few remaining orbital MAC guns, had to be defended at all costs. Shortly after, a small convoy of vehicles arrived at their location, carrying the Spartans of Sigma Team as well as a smaller ODST unit, Tango Six. Another SPARTAN-II named Kryss-216 took command, her rank of naval Captain outranking McNair much to his annoyance.
With a large Covenant force heading their way, the UNSC forces fortified the complex, Mitchell manning a wall section and fending off wave after wave of enemy infantry as they began to close in. In the facility's armoury, a single Fury Tac-Nuke had been discovered by one of the Spartans, plans being made to set it off if they were completely overwhelmed. It was given to Mira Reyes, McNair's second in command, to protect within one of the generator buildings. The battle lasted over an hour before ammo began to run low and enemy numbers only increased. Luckily, Kryss was able to put out a distress call to the UNSC Bright New Day, which dispatched a wing of Shortsword bombers to hold up the advancing army as the survivors retreated. Mitchell retreated to the vehicle bay, where he was surprised to find McNair absent. Lieutenant Reyes' team had been slaughtered by a group of Sangheili, prompting McNair, along with one of the Spartans and a few troopers to move in to secure the nuke. Though the weapon was secured, the Captain was badly wounded and offered to stay behind in order to buy them time. Before leaving, he left a message with the Spartan, Marco-035, to give to Mitchell, stating that he was right about letting go past grievances.
With McNair about to detonate the nuke, the Spartans and ODST's were forced to leave quickly, heading into the mountains before the enemy could regroup after the bombing. Harried by Banshee fighters, the few dozen that remained alive arrived at an old mining complex, which before the attack was being turned into a highway leading through the mountain. While one of the Spartans set to work on the door, which was locked, everyone else being made to defend against encroaching Covenant troops and airstrikes. By the time it had opened, the survivors making it inside, only Mitchell and Roberts remained as the survivors of Echo 1-1. All of the Spartans had made it through with superficial injuries, while two of the troopers from Tango Six had also survived. As they headed through the mountain, the nuke was detonated by McNair, who had played a game of cat-and-mouse with the enemy before finally being caught, obliterating an entire Covenant Legion within the confines of the valley and damaging a nearby Destroyer. Once they had made it through to the other side, the survivors were evacuated to the Bright New Day to be reassigned. Draco III, though an eventual victory for the UNSC, had proved to be a traumatic experience for Mitchell's first mission as an Orbital Drop Shock Trooper. This would also forge a lifelong friendship between him and Mal, who was just as badly shaken by the mission. McNair's sacrifice, which was captured from orbit via satellite, inspired the two troopers to go to any lengths if it meant winning the war.
Following the massacre of their unit on Draco III, Mitchell and Roberts were transferred to another platoon, under the command of Gunnery Sergeant Carlos Driscol, another trooper who had been trained by McNair years before. Mitchell did not always approve of Driscol's rather violent and unorthodox methods in spite of their results, often leading to arguments between the two. Their ODST unit was stationed on Skopje when it came under attack by the Covenant in 2547, the troopers immediately being deployed groundside to deal with the Covenant threat.
Mitchell's platoon was tasked with the defence of a shipbuilding corporation's headquarters, while vital tools, machines, and personnel could be evacuated. The ODST's arrived shortly before a Covenant attack force arrived, assaulting the headquarters in large numbers, slowly whittling away at the human defences. Though the evacuation was largely successful, by the time it was over almost half of the platoon were dead, prompting Driscol to give an order to fall back as they were overrun by the Covenant, escaping via warthogs and heading as far away as they could. It was not until they had escaped did Mitchell realise that they had abandoned dozens of workers there to be slaughtered by the enemy, something which prompted an argument between him and his superior.
After arriving in a frontier town to resupply, the heated debate almost turned violent when Driscol and Mitchell almost killed each other over leaving civilians to die. Things may have escalated, were it not for Mal Roberts calming the two down in light of the Covenant invasion. Calling for orders over the COM, the remnants of the platoon remained in the town, aware of approaching Covenant forces, enough to wipe them out with ease. However, several Pelican dropships arrived in the area unannounced, missiles driving back their attackers as they landed. Mitchell and the others emerged from the buildings to find that the Pelican crews were not part of the UNSC at all, markings of the United Rebel Front being painted on the side of the dropships.
A firefight soon broke out between the ODST's and the rebels, with no side gaining the upper hand until Driscol, along with several others, fired on their own men, Mitchell being shot in the back by his commanding officer as he and his comrades fled. Wounded and bleeding, the trooper witnessed Driscol greeting the rebel troops, and handing over an object the platoon had been ordered to safeguard: A Fury Tac-nuke, to be used in extreme circumstances to cause as much damage as possible to the enemy if the ODST's were in danger of being wiped out. It was originally going to be used in the shipbuilding headquarters, but the approaching foe forced them to evacuate before it could be deployed. Roberts found Mitchell, injecting him with biofoam as the Pelicans took off, getting away from the carnage. Before they flew away, Driscol spoke to the survivors over the COM, mocking the troopers as he escaped.
For the half-dozen survivors, it seemed like the end, with low ammo and approaching Covenant forces making the situation seem hopeless. As Mitchell and the others prepared for a last stand, a barrage of missiles from a rare AC-220 Vulture halting the Covenant advance as reinforcements arrived. Chief among these were a small group of Spartans, who slaughtered the Covenant infantry and allowed UNSC forces to advance while the surviving troopers were picked up. While in the end, Skopje was eventually overrun and glassed by the Covenant, Mitchell, Roberts and the surviving members of their platoon made it out alive, being assigned to the UNSC Bright New Day once again as they left the system. Following the battle of Skopje, Mitchell was promoted to the rank of Staff Sergeant for his heroic actions on the ground, and reported Driscol's betrayal to his superiors, who were confused as to why a man known for his exemplary service record would become an insurrectionist. Skopje had a profound effect on its survivors, cementing a hatred and desire for revenge against Driscol in Mitchell and Roberts. This would also mark their first real encounter with the Insurrection, the pair being very uncomfortable with fighting their fellow man on the battlefield.
Battle of Yusaris II
By 2551, Mitchell was a Gunnery Sergeant, leading a platoon of troopers against the Covenant on Yusaris II. As their foe wished to extract Helium-3 from the colony world before it's inevitable glassing, the battle was a long, drawn-out one. After dropping in to one of the planet's many lush jungles, Mitchell's platoon fought off Kig-Yar scouts before falling back to a defensible position, where they held the line for several hours until reinforcements arrived, decimating enemy forces and transporting them to one of the many cities on the colony. The ODST's spent several days in the city, fending off Covenant scouts for some time until a large assault force was dispatched to the frontlines, leaving Mitchell's platoon stuck in a UNSC outpost within the city. This bothered him greatly, being cut off from the main conflict and forced to wait for orders with Roberts and the others. One day, however, while patrolling outside the base, Mitchell and the others spotted a young woman dashing into cover. Knowing that most of the planet's civilians had already been evacuated or were already in the spaceport, Mitchell assumed that she was some kind of scavenger, and gave chase, attempting to bring her back to the base. The troopers were surprised to find their quarry shooting back with a Covenant plasma rifle.
Thinking that they may be dealing with some kind of Insurrectionist, Mitchell called for reinforcements before pursuing her into the city, ruined by Covenant bombardment. They spread out, looking for their attacker as they combed the rubble. Mitchell went off alone after the girl, scaling a wrecked building and creeping through it until he finally discovered her, preparing to ambush his men from above. As he moved in to incapacitate the girl, she noticed him, forcing the trooper to jump at her before she could shoot. A struggle ensued, in which Mitchell found himself almost beaten by the unnaturally strong girl, fighting for some time until the rest of his squad arrived, surrounding the girl.
Seeing that she was trapped, the girl broke down, crying. Mitchell ordered the others to stand down before removing his helmet, introducing himself and attempting to comfort the girl. She eventually relented, and allowed herself to be taken back to the base, under Mitchell's careful watch. Mitchell allowed her to shower and receive new clothes at the base before he noticed that she possessed a UNSC-affiliated 'barcode' on the back of her neck, signifying her role as a soldier in spite of her appearance as a teenager. Mitchell questioned the prisoner, who revealed her name, Layla, and little else to the trooper. He put her through some basic DNA testing to discover who she was, and was surprised to find a heavily classified file, one that resulted in a complete block from afar. The next day, a dropship containing several agents, purportedly from the Office of Naval Intelligence, touched down at the base. It was revealed that another UNSC battlegroup had arrived, decimating the Covenant fleet above Yusaris II, gaining an immediate superiority in the battle. Though Mitchell attempted to question who the girl was, the agents took Layla aboard their ship, and left the planet as quickly as they had arrived.
In the aftermath of his odd incident, Mitchell's entire ODST platoon found themselves reassigned to another part of the fleet, with their leader receiving a promotion to Master Sergeant as most of his unit was shuffled, gaining several new squadmates in the process. Though Mitchell resolved to try and forget what had happened with Layla, not wishing to interfere with ONI in any way, Roberts began to constantly question who exactly she had been, much to his friend's annoyance.
In August of 2552, the Covenant invaded the Epsilon Eridani system in force with a massive fleet assaulting Reach and other planets in a prolonged attack. In response, a large portion of the UNSC's fleet was mobilised to defend the system. Not long into this invasion, Mitchell's squad was dropped onto the colony world of Tribute as part of a massive evacuation effort on the ground. Due to the tenacity and skill of the human ships above, it took the Covenant some time to break through and begin ground operations on the planet.
After several days of combat, Mitchell's depleted squad, which consisted of Corporal Roberts, Corporal Miles, Lance Corporal Jones and Private Bill Cross, were running evacuation ops in Casbah, one of Tribute's biggest cities. The city had come under heavy attack, with enemy infantry severely hampering evacuation efforts. The ODST's, moving through the wrecked streets, moved in to save a school from incoming Covenant soldiers. In the ensuing fight, many civilians were killed, and as the enemy began to press in from several positions, the situation began to worsen. Ash gathered the surviving children and teachers in a building, and ordered his men to defend it with their lives. They held out for some time until their ammo began to run dry, prompting a Covenant advance.
Surrounded, and seemingly with no way out, the squad seemed doomed, until a green-armoured soldier arrived at the scene, massacring the Covenant and driving them back before returning to the troopers. It was a SPARTAN, one of the legendary super soldiers who had become famous after their media exposure several years prior. Grateful to be saved, Mitchell thanked and identified himself to the SPARTAN, who to his surprise revealed herself to be Layla-B101, whom he had saved on Yusaris the previous year. Immediately, the group began to hurry towards the spaceport, getting there largely unhindered until they found half a dozen Covenant lances laying waste to the area and slaughtering the evacuees. Layla got the troopers to cover her as she moved in alone, attacking the enemy despite being heavily outnumbered. It was here that Mitchell noticed her apparent sub-optimal mental health, laughing with almost sadistic glee as she butchered her enemies.
Once the area was relatively clear, Mitchell's squad escorted the civilians further into the spaceport, wary of the SPARTAN-III after her manic outburst at the enemy. Before they could board a nearby transport ship, several Kig-Yar snipers began firing, hitting a few of the civilians and forcing many others to run for the ship, more being killed in the process. While Jones, the squad marksman, worked on taking out their foe, Mitchell noticed a young boy attempting to crawl towards the ship, having been knocked over in the mad rush to get aboard. With the transport's engines starting, he ran out, disregarding his personal safety and narrowly avoiding plasma fire to pick up the child and get him aboard, ensuring that the evacuation could finally be completed. Combined fire from the ODST's and Layla finished off the snipers, allowing them to report in and confirm that their mission was a success.
Shortly after, Mitchell's squad regrouped with the remainder of their ODST brethren and redirected to an important mission: an all-out attack against a Covenant battlecruiser heading towards one of Tribute's unevacuated cities. At this time, the idea of boarding and destroying enemy ships from the inside seemed to be the only choice for human forces, with severely depleted Naval assets either away or defending Reach. Using data acquired from Operation: UPPER CUT and DROPKICK, the ODST's were to accompany Layla, the only known SPARTAN asset present, in boarding the cruiser and detonating a HAVOK tactical nuke within the ship after securing the bridge.
Though wary of the extreme danger that the mission posed, Mitchell took it on, taking command of the troopers, who would deploy via pelican once Layla and a cadre of pilots gained access to one of the ship's hangar bay. Once the operation began, the UNSC attackers took many casualties, Mitchell's pelican being one of two to make it out of the five that set out. Layla met with them in a hangar bay, and proceeded to methodically clear out the ship's corridors. Several ODST's were killed en route, but eventually they came to the ship's bridge. The command crew had prepared themselves for the human's arrival, and ambushed the team, wounding Roberts and almost killing Mitchell with an energy sword, had it not been for a quick intervention on Miles' part. With the SPARTAN on their side, however, they soon had control, Layla easily disarming the Sangheili Shipmaster. Oddly, she did not immediately kill her foe, instead ordering the troopers to leave while she set the nuclear device.
Mitchell and the others spent the next half hour clearing a path to their Pelican, keeping it protected until she emerged, her armour covered in Sangheili blood. Layla ordered the ODST's onto the Pelican, and piloted the ship personally as they escaped, detonating the HAVOK once they had reached a safe distance. The battlecruiser was destroyed, though the troopers were extremely cautious around the SPARTAN while they flew back to a nearby UNSC ship. Before she departed, Layla spoke with Mitchell for some time, eventually thanking him for his actions the year before, saving her after her escape. Though she did not elaborate on her past further, Mitchell did not attempt to interrogate her on it, returning to his unit soon after. In spite of their valiant efforts in taking down the enemy ship, the arrival of several more completely overwhelmed the already overstretched UNSC Navy, which was still attempting to cover the evacuation from Tribute. By the end of the battle, more than 90% of Tribute's defence fleet had been wiped out, the remainder barely escaping intact alongside the last of the civilian ships. This had a profound effect on Mitchell and his troopers, giving them a great deal of respect for their Naval comrades following this colossal defeat.
With the loss of the Epsilon Eridani system to the Covenant, the majority of UNSC forces pulled back to the Sol System, ready to make a stand against their foe. Due to an immense shortage of senior NCO's, Mitchell was given a surprise promotion to Sergeant Major and was reassigned to the 10th Shock Troops Battalion, stationed on the Home Fleet. On October 22nd a Covenant fleet of fifteen ships arrived in the Sol System and quickly engaged by the human defenders.
Mitchell's ODST's, who witnessed the destruction of the Athens and Malta ODP Stations from their post aboard Nassau Station, quickly boarded a nearby frigate, the UNSC Serengeti and were deployed groundside as soon as news came through that the Covenant had landed on Earth. Mitchell's Helljumpers were among the first to land in the besieged city of New Mombasa, where the enemy flagship, Solemn Penance, had deployed thousands of troops. The ODST's fought largely in Old Mombasa, the northern sector of the city, against a vanguard of Covenant infantry who were massacring civilians there. Mitchell ordered his soldiers to hold the line for as long as possible protecting evacuees as they tried to escape the city.
Not long after, reinforcements arrived from the UNSC In Amber Clad, successfully driving the Covenant back for some time. When the Carrier made a slipspace jump within the city, Mitchell's platoon was left behind, trapped without a link to command. Gathering as many UNSC troops as he could, the Sergeant Major continued to fight across the southern part of the city overnight, though their numbers and supplies continued to dwindle. With the arrival of a second enemy fleet that dispatched even more troops across the Sol System, the fighting only intensified on the ground, forcing Mitchell and his ODST's to quickly abandon the city as it was glassed by the Covenant. Calling for extraction via Pelican, the survivors were transported to ONI's PILLAR Base in Nepal to await orders as the remainder of the Home Fleet fought a slowly losing battle against their foe.
Over the next few days, many more troops arrived at the base from engagements across the globe. There, they reformed and were dispatched against the Covenant worldwide, Mitchell's ODST's being deployed as strike teams designed to cause as much damage as possible before retreating. By early November, with the Human forces in tatters, it seemed as though the Covenant were close to victory. In a desperate attempt to hold on to several factories creating weapons and ammunition for the troops still fighting, Mitchell, along with several platoons worth of Orbital Drop Shock Troopers, were sent to Germany, with orders to hold on to these vital structures at all costs.
After two days of fighting off the Covenant, reinforcements came in the form of Sergeant Major Richard Mack Junior, leading a fresh platoon of helljumpers, and three SPARTAN-III's; Martin-A136, Alex-A121 and Louie-A199. With their combined power, they were able to score a sound victory, several UNSC frigates bringing down a nearby Corvette with sustained MAC fire. The surviving ODST's were then transferred aboard the UNSC Forward Unto Dawn to await further orders. Mitchell was aboard when the Prophet of Truth activated a portal in Kenya, escaping through it as a vengeful Sangheili fleet arrived over Earth. He was surprised to find that the race that had been regarded as mandkind's greatest foe for nearly three decades had arrived with the intentions of peace, but remained aboard as Commander Miranda Keyes took command of the frigate, pursuing Truth through the portal.
The joint UNSC-Sangheili fleet arrived at an unknown location, near a massive construct. While their newfound allies engaged the Jiralhanae fleet in orbit, Mitchell's ODST's were to be deployed groundside. After a wave of Pelicans were dispatched, the Forward Unto Dawn launched a wave of pods to the surface. As the chief ODST NCO aboard, however, Mitchell remained on the Frigate until a second Pelican wave could be deployed. Along with Mal, Bill Cross, and nine others, the ODST's boarded the Pelican Victor 398, heading for the surface of the construct to assist the outnumbered UNSC forces there. As they came in closer, however, Covenant AA fire began to hit the dropship, destroying one of the thrusters and shooting them down. They crashed in a curious gorge on the installation, far away from any reinforcements. With both pilots and four troopers dead on impact, Mitchell led the survivors away from the crash site before Covenant patrols could find them, hoping to link up with UNSC forces as soon as possible. The eight ODST's spent several hours moving undetected until a passing Phantom noticed them, opening fire and scattering the troopers into the nearby mountains. Mitchell and a few overs were able to find refuge within a structure, where they encountered dozens of odd, flying robots that largely ignored them unless provoked.
The troopers were able to find their way out of the structure not long after the Forward Unto Dawn landed, signalling a passing Pelican to pick them up as the Human and Sangheili forces closed in on the Prophet of Truth's location, one final effort needed to finally end the war. Mitchell's group was sent in as a diversion from the main attack, a few Pelicans and Phantoms drawing away Covenant armour for some time. Landing shortly after the shield surrounding the Citadel was taken offline, the troopers cleared out any stragglers as a new enemy emerged, Mitchell's unit taking several casualties and almost being overwhelmed, were it not for reinforcements in the form of a pair of AV-14 Hornets providing covering fire and picking them up.
With a new Halo Ring emerging and the Flood threat, all Human and Sangheili forces retreated to the carrier, Shadow of Intent, moving back through the portal to Earth. There, it was announced that the Human-Covenant War, which had lasted roughly twenty-eight years and cost billions of lives, was finally over. While he did not believe that the ceasefire between the United Nations Space Command and the newly-formed 'Swords of Sanghelios' would last, the trooper joined in the celebrations as the conflict drew to a close. Mitchell, along with many of those who saw the war's final battle, found himself quickly reassigned, with Roberts remarking to him before leaving that he suspected a mass coverup of the Flood, the Halos, and the Ark. Nonetheless, he was given a chance to sign up with an Officer Candidate School on Earth free of charge. He took the offer and emerged as a Second Lieutenant by mid-2553, though after so much death and destruction Mitchell privately believed that this had been nothing more than a hollow gesture on the military's part.
Even with the end of the war, work did not end for Ash Mitchell and his fellows. Assigned to another unit, he spent several months hunting down Covenant Remnants in the Inner Colonies with a UNSC Battlegroup, a long and arduous process that in his opinion wasted valuable manpower that would be needed elsewhere. Nevertheless, he lead his troops to victory on many occasions as humanity began to rebuild. When he was finally given leave later that year, he returned to Earth and stayed with his sister, Sue, and her family for some time. It was here that Mitchell, after so many years away in the war, felt at peace for some time, though he discovered that his father had been killed in the Covenant invasion.
When the time came to leave once again he did so with a heavy heart, being reassigned once more to work in the Inner Colonies in late 2553. This time, they were not up against Covenant forces, but a group of well-armed rebels who had stormed a number of UNSC-run warehouses in a city due to supply shortages on the planet. Since the local law enforcement could not contain the rapidly worsening situation, a number of ODST's were dropped in from orbit, swiftly eliminating their foe within half an hour. While they helped the UNSC regain control, Mitchell could not help but feel some sense of wrong for their actions, particularly the use of elite Orbital Drop Shock Troopers in a civilian environment against their fellow man so soon after a war against aliens.
Siege of Yawada
By January of 2554, Mitchell was still an officer within the 10th Shock Troops Battalion as part of Lima Company. His immediate superior was none other than First Lieutenant Richard Mack Junior, an officer of great renown who had saved his life on Earth. The troopers were attached to Battlegroup Maya when news arrived of a Covenant Remnant fleet attacking the Outer Colony world of Yawada, and arrived shortly after to attack the alien fleet. After a lengthy space battle that destroyed a large portion of the Covenant fleet, Mitchell would be among six hundred ODST's deployed to retake the colony world's capital city and rescue any surviving citizens there.
While a number of troopers died during the drop and fighting in the capital was fierce, some part of Mitchell enjoyed fighting Covenant forces again after months of operations against human Insurrectionists. After clearing out a larger landing zone for Marine reinforcements to land, the rest of Lima Company met up to plan their next move. However, it was discovered that the company's Captain had died shortly after landing, leaving Mack Junior in charge. Mitchell followed the veteran trooper's orders willingly as he had the company split into multiple platoons and advanced through the city, pushing Covenant forces back block by block. This strategy proved to be effective as the troopers quickly took higher ground and used the narrow streets to funnel retreating foes into killzones. Mitchell's platoon, serving as Lima's vanguard, unexpectedly ran into a group of Hunters as they entered a large plaza. Though they lost several men to their deadly assault cannons, the troopers were able to circle the towering aliens and land crippling hits in their exposed backs that eventually brought them down. Mitchell then had the corpses burnt with explosives to ensure that the creatures stayed dead.
In spite of their victories in the city, the ODST's were contacted by their superiors and informed that the enemy leader, a Sangheili Fleet Master named Uron 'Nar Ontomee, was taking thousands of civilians captive aboard his DDS-Class Carrier as hostages so he could escape Yawada without being destroyed by the orbiting human fleet. As such, all groundside UNSC forces were ordered to reach the ship's landing zone and board it, assassinating Ontomee before he could leave the planet. Though eager to fight, both Mitchell and Mack realised how dangerous a direct assault would be and opted to try an unorthodox method of boarding the carrier by capturing a Covenant dropship. With help from an orbiting Prowler that provided them with real-time footage of the city, Lima Company were able to discover a location where Phantoms were picking up infantry and returning them to the ship. The troopers slowly surrounded the area by moving through nearby buildings and waited for a Covenant infantry Lance to arrive before making their move.
Mitchell and a number of marksmen swiftly took down the Lance as the Phantom arrived, giving Mack's platoon time to board the dropship after rappelling down from a rooftop and clambering aboard. They were soon able to eliminate the crew and pilot before activating the gravity lift to allow more troopers inside. Due to limited space, Mitchell and two dozen others managed to cram themselves inside the Phantom while the rest of Lima Company were given orders to hold their position as a friendly rendezvous point until further notice. While their plan was certainly a risky gamble, they were able to board the Covenant carrier by following several other dropships into an open hangar; Mitchell theorised that due to the UNSC's ground assault, those on the ship were more concerned with fighting off invaders by their landing zone than expecting an airborne infiltration.
The troopers managed to take their foe by surprise as they emerged from their Phantom within the ship's hangar bay; most enemy infantry was engaged with the primary UNSC force around the landing zone, leaving only an assortment of poorly-armed crewmen and guards that easily fell to the squad's relentless assault. As Mitchell and Mack's team fought their way closer to the ship's bridge, they received a transmission from one of their ships in orbit, reporting that they had detected the delayed activation of several antimatter charges within the bowels of the ship that if allowed to detonate, would not only destroy Ontomee's flagship but obliterate all local UNSC forces and most of the city below. Finding the bridge empty save for a few Sangheili guardsmen, the troopers headed back towards the vessel's starboard hangar to catch the Fleet Master, who was attempting to escape aboard a small slipspace-capable shuttle instead of going down with his ship.
While they were initially unable to reach Ontomee, Mitchell managed to draw the enemy leader out by contacting the orbiting UNSC Maya and having it broadcast news of the Sangheili's cowardly actions on multiple channels, alerting his own forces to his plans of retreat. An enraged Ontomee soon emerged from his shuttle to engage the troopers as they stormed his hangar bay. Many ODST's were killed in the ensuing fight with the Fleet Master and his battle-hardened bodyguards and Mitchell himself was injured after being blown off a catwalk by an explosion, breaking his left leg in the process. Though immobile, he was able to drag himself out of sight and flank Ontomee before sighting the six armed antimatter charges. It was during this engagement that the carrier was struck with a MAC round and a number of Archer missiles with pinpoint accuracy, momentarily downing the shields in a small area to allow for further bombardment by a group of Shortsword bombers. Though nowhere near enough to cripple the massive vessel, it did breach the hangar bay's walls and allowed for several Pelican dropships to move in from orbit to support the troopers.
Unable to disarm the charges due to lacking the proper equipment, Mitchell consented to merely attempting to kill Ontomee, who had become pinned down by Mack and the rest of his squad. Waiting for his opportunity, he tossed a plasma grenade at the Fleet Master which forced he and his bodyguards from cover and downed his shields long enough for Mack to charge forward and finish the alien warlord off with a burst of rifle fire to the head. While Ontomee was dead, the antimatter charges were still counting down and both Mitchell and Mack doubted they would be able to disarm all of them in time. Nonetheless, the surviving troopers would attempt to do so manually. However, two Pelicans belonging to the Office of Naval Intelligence landed in the hangar, a crew of agents having brought along a Smart AI that could disarm and destructive weapons in seconds. Accompanying them was an old man that Mack recognised and spoke to for a brief time. While it seemed that the Pelicans had moved in to extract the ODST's while UNSC forces moved in to capture the already-damaged Carrier, Mitchell soon realised that the ONI agent's leader had come only for Lieutenant Mack. After some kind of disagreement between the two, Mack carried Mitchell and joined the rest of their squad in a nearby Pelican where he could get his leg tended to.
With Fleet Master Ontomee dead, his remaining troops soon fled or surrendered to local UNSC forces and Yawada was reclaimed. Mitchell was awarded both the Silver Star and a Purple Heart following the battle, and after his leg was quickly healed at a nearby space station, attended an award ceremony on Earth where Richard Mack Junior was awarded the Colonial Cross. Afterwards, Mack confided in Mitchell that he didn't personally feel as though he deserved the award as Mitchell had contributed just as much to the battle, and that he was being reassigned elsewhere to join an unspecified ODST unit for further operations. The two parted on good terms, with Mack thanking Mitchell for not comparing him to his famous father after his accomplishments.
In April, Mitchell was chosen to lead a single ODST squad on a highly classified mission to Schönheit, a colony world in the Outer Colonies that had been glassed a decade before. He was pleased to find his old friends Mal Roberts and Bill Cross among the group, along with a number of unfamiliar troopers; Yin Maxwell, Vincent Angelo, George Calzaghe, and a young Michael Green. In spite of having almost no information on their mission, Operation: ASHES, Mitchell was in high hopes, until it was revealed that the troopers would be under the command of two legendary SPARTAN-II's: Elena-071 and Kane-098.
The group inserted onto the planet via SOEIV, landing a few miles away from their target zone. Though he was bothered slightly by the sudden appearance of the Spartans, he did not voice his concerns. Instead, he focused on the mission at hand, looking after the youngest trooper in the squad, Private Green. Coming close to the valley where their target was located. In spite of the glassing a decade earlier, there was a great deal of greenery present, along with a number of trees growing in what had previously been desolate glasslands. After neutralising a Kig-Yar outpost, Elena-071 revealed to the ODST's the true nature of their mission: The assassination of a rogue Spartan, Pierre-127.
Even with this revelation, and some degree of discontent from a couple of troopers, they pressed on into the new land, only to come under attack by a number of grunts. The ODST's were momentarily pinned down, with Calzaghe taking a plasma bolt to the knee, but they were able to push their foe back into the trees. The two Spartans quickly left to pursue them, leaving Mitchell's squad to look after the wounded soldier. As they checked Calzaghe's wound, a number of stealthed Sangheili launched an attack that would have killed Mitchell had it not been for the quick actions of Green. The battle soon turned against the Sangheili as the troopers moved into a defensible location, waiting for Elena and Kane to return. During the fight, Mitchell was saved by SPARTAN-071 after being thrown to the floor, only to be knocked unconscious by an unknown foe.
Mitchell awoke in a prison cell some time later, with the wounded Calzaghe and badly-beaten Maxwell, who informed him that their team had not taken any casualties in the attack. After conversing for some time, the trio was escorted from their cell by Sur 'Ranak, the Sangheili leader. Their captors took them down to a chamber deep within what appeared to be a Forerunner structure, where they finally found Pierre-127. The Spartan explained his survival to the captured ODST's until Maxwell attempted to shoot him with a concealed pistol, only to be swiftly killed. Dismissing Mitchell and Calzaghe, he then introduced them to the 'caretaker' of the facility they had been imprisoned in: 037 Repentant Observer.
The two prisoners were then taken to the top of the ancient facility, a control room of sorts, by Pierre and Sur. It was here that Mitchell was forcibly made to activate a control panel, which activated the 'Eden Facility', which was designed to restore life to damaged planets such as this one. While their captors looked over the newly-activated controls, Mitchell and Calzaghe were able to slip away, fleeing down towards the exit with Sur in pursuit. Liberating some Covenant weapons from an armoury, they fought their way outside, where they encountered the other ODST's assaulting the encampment, saving them from a number of Kig-Yar snipers. With orders from Elena-071 to escape towards the Sangheili ships, the troopers fled towards the mountains, only to be ambushed once more by Sur 'Ranak, who decapitated Sergeant Angelo before retreating under heavy fire.
With their second loss, Mitchell had to calm the younger Green down, persuading him not to pursue the wounded Sangheili. Instead, they made their way towards the concealed ships, which were promptly destroyed from above by a number of robotic drones, which had begun to flood the sky around the Eden Facility. With no other choice, the ODST's were forced into the glasslands, contacting the orbiting UNSC Grievous for pickup, Elena informing them over the COM that she had activated the emergency 'HAMMER' protocol, which would have the ship deliver a destructive MAC round on the Facility. Mitchell's squad, now low on ammunition, formed a defensive perimeter around their extraction zone, only to be confronted by the now-rampant Repentant Observer, who severed Mal Roberts' right arm with an energy beam before dispatching a number of Sentinels to finish them off.
In their desperate last stand, Calzaghe was killed by their new foe, the troopers dropping over two dozen Sentinels before finally running out of ammunition. They were saved at the last moment by several Falcon helicopters, which quickly decimated the enemy as support troops evacuated the troops to the UNSC Grievious, which was coming into atmosphere to deliver the deadly MAC round. Mitchell encountered the SPARTAN Marco-035 here, asking for Elena's location before taking off to rescue the other Spartans in another Falcon. The surviving troopers spent some time recuperating aboard the ship, Mitchell visiting Roberts in the medical bay frequently. It was here that his longtime friend informed him of his intent to leave the UNSC once and for all, having had enough of the way they treated people like him, and the actions they would have to undertake as soldiers. Though Mitchell unsuccessfully tried to convince him otherwise, he found himself questioning his own beliefs as a soldier.
Leaving the UNSC
Not long after Operation: ASHES, Mitchell, who had been promoted to the rank of First Lieutenant for his actions, met with Mal Roberts for the last time as his old friend prepared to depart to the Outer Colonies. In their brief meeting, Roberts denounced the UNSC for its actions and stated his intention to start a new life. However, this dispute soon turned in to an argument, ending in the pair threatening to kill one another. Mitchell allowed Roberts to leave, knowing that his old friend would probably end up as one of the Insurrectionists they had fought time and time again.
Over the course the next few months Mitchell found himself seriously doubting a number of orders given by his superiors in the field, especially since his ODST unit was deployed against rebels and even civilian protestors on a number of occasions. In spite of his many years of service, Ash found himself unable to continue and retired from the military in February of 2555. After staying at his family home for several weeks, he set out for the Outer Colonies just as Mal had several years before. Rather than join the Insurrection as many other disenfranchised UNSC personnel had had, Mitchell decided to try to eke out a living as a gun for hire on the near-lawless frontier worlds with the hope of making things better for people living out there.
"When I moved out here, I believed I could make a difference. No more beating down rebels or hunting Covvie groups in the ass-end of nowhere. Just one man, in the right place, with the right training. It's an optimistic perspective, but from what I've seen out on the frontier you've got to keep your spirits up."
―from Mitchell's personal journal
Much to his surprise, there were numerous colony worlds that had either been abandoned by the UNSC or repopulated by humans directly in the wake of the war. Even worlds that had once been integral parts of the once well-protected Inner Colonies such as Circumstance had essentially become self-governing after the UNSC redirected all its assets toward defending the Sol System. With the threat of both former Covenant and Insurrectionist forces, mercenaries were in high demand across these worlds. Mitchell began working on simple guard missions for freighters, largely transporting goods through patches of space known for Kig-Yar pirates. While they were rarely attacked, the odd occasion on which a group attempted to take a shipment would prove the worth of Mitchell and others.
As time went by, Mitchell became well known in certain influential circles operating in the Outer Colonies as a dependable and hardy mercenary. He would focus on one contract at a time and slowly accumulated a decent amount of money doing this. Most of his wages went towards the upkeep of his heavily customised ODST armour and weapons, though he did keep some back for himself. The rest was sent back to his sister on Earth via secret bank accounts in order to help her family out. In September, Mitchell discovered that his old friend Mal Roberts had taken part in an infamous terrorist attack on Earth itself, which left several high-ranking UEG leaders dead and had the perpetrators escaping with a NOVA bomb.
Immediately various contracts began to come in directed at Mal and his Insurrectionist comrades from various sources. Some of these were UNSC-affiliated individuals, while others were simply wealthy contractors wishing to claim the astronomically high bounty for the capture or killing of these people. Mitchell decided to keep out of it, having no interest in Mal or the rebels in general. He remained on the fringes of human-controlled space for some time, fighting in a small Jiralhanae conflict with a wealthy Chieftain as his contractor. It was here that he became famous for his actions in a particularly bloody battle that only left him and a few others standing. Mitchell's skull-visored helmet and black armour became the stuff of legend in the mercenary world following this, bringing him to the attention of a certain powerful individual.
In December of 2555, Mitchell was surprised to hear of Mal Roberts death. He had been killed along with several Insurrectionist figures on the Caucasus Station, a large independent asteroid base that housed thousands of civilians. While official sources blamed it on the UNSC attack which had left much of the settlement defenceless, many people living there had seen security footage of a large, unknown figure slaughtering the Insurrectionist leadership during the battle. Several months after, Mitchell was recovering from a mission in one of the many bars across the asteroid settlement when he was approached by this very figure, who identified himself as Magnus.
Mitchell was fully aware that this man had killed his own friend, but after their first meeting it was made clear that Magnus would, and could kill him if he refused the offer of joining him. From then on, the pair recruited a large band of fellow mercenaries as their jobs became much more dangerous. In early 2556, Mitchell encountered another old comrade while raiding a civilian freighter: Bill Cross. The off-duty ODST attempted to stop their heavily armed group from obtaining the DNA of a millionaire businessman and a storage case of 'dumb' Artificial Intelligences, but survived thanks to the intervention of another passenger. Mitchell began to have serious doubts about working for Magnus in spite of their greatly increased pay and began making plans to leave the group at the first opportunity.
In February, Mitchell underwent his final mission for Magnus. In the city of Kuiper, Circumstance, the central bank had been established, housing many goods that would be of great value to their leader. Accompanying a group of hardened mercenaries, Mitchell was tasked with leading the assault on the bank with the intentions of getting out as quickly as possible. To avoid being caught and quickly tracked down, Magnus had assured them that all security devices would be disabled remotely by him during the operation. Though he was suspicious of why Magnus would send them in on what appeared to be a menial target, he went along with the mission and quickly secured the bank, demanding access to the vault.
It was here that several of his comrades began to slaughter the staff and civilians present, something that was not in the original plan. A firefight quickly broke out between two of the mercenary groups in the bank, followed shortly after by two massive explosions from adjacent buildings as what appeared to be C-12 charges detonated. By this point, heavily armed police officers had arrived and a pitched battle erupted in the street outside. Mitchell led the survivors away from the building using explosives to carve a path through the police until they had a clear shot for the safehouse. Magnus was waiting for them when they arrived, and after taking the bags containing what loot they had grabbed, promptly began to execute the men. Mitchell lasted longer than most, though after a short battle he was blasted through a window by a direct shotgun blast, falling to the street below.
"You're not an easy man to kill, Ash Mitchell. I'll enjoy watching you run."
―a message from Magnus after learning of Mitchell's survival
Miraculously, Mitchell survived his fall with several injuries, and was able to drag himself away from the safehouse before the police could arrive. Lightly-armed and wounded, he stole a car at gunpoint and escaped into Kuiper's undercity, a near-lawless district where he could hide out and get his wounds tended to at a local clinic. It was here that he found his face plastered over every news channel as the perpetrator of the attack, along with a number of other incriminating documents supposedly found belonging to Mitchell. Lastly, a massive bounty had been put out by the UNSC for people to take him in dead or alive.
Knowing that this would almost certainly have every bounty hunter and undercover agent in the colonies after him, Mitchell quickly boarded a shuttle and left the planet before news of his whereabouts could spread. The media labelled him as the 'Butcher of Kuiper' for his actions, with over a hundred innocents dead in a single day. New accounts began to come out for Mitchell's supposed crimes, including several incidents that he had never even participated in. He knew that even after years of working together, Magnus had finally betrayed him to cover his own tracks. Alone and friendless, Mitchell was forced to travel for a number of months on the run, surviving a number of run-ins with bounty hunters after his head. Each sighting brought UNSC soldiers and worse, ONI agents, closer to the former ODST who had depleted most of his accumulated cash in bribing as many people as he could as he fled farther away.
In March, Mitchell arrived on the colony world of Andesia after stowing away on a transport freighter. Entering the city of Noctus, he took up residence in an abandoned building on the outskirts and spent several days attempting to find work from small-time criminal gangs under a false name. In his first few weeks he earned a small amount of cash as an enforcer before his boss caught wind of his true identity, and the bounty attached. Mitchell killed twenty four people after the gang attempted to ambush him and took what money he could before heading back out into the lower area of Andesia to look for more work. He encountered several more hapless assassins in a bar, gunning down the inexperienced men in seconds before leaving. It was shortly after this that Mitchell met a new, unnamed employer, one who offered him decent pay and protection in exchange for his services. Desperate and in need of allies, Mitchell accepted.
Mitchell's first assignment at the hands of his new employer was to destroy six police stations in the inner city. While uncertain of the motive behind these attacks, Mitchell carried them out diligently, the armoured mercenary slaughtering his way through one station after another over the course of a few hours. After torching his final target, Mitchell evaded more patrols and moved back into a busy section of the city's lower districts, where he was fired on by a lone sniper. What followed was a pitched battle in the street as he used smoke grenades to get close before wounding his attacker with a grenade. Mitchell then pursued the man to the roof, cornering him before another two men ambushed him. He was able to kill both of them, though he was badly wounded by the assassin's high-caliber pistol. In the ensuing struggle, Mitchell managed to knock the man off the roof by tackling him, breaking his opponent's neck as they hit the ground. He then took the sniper's dog tags and escaped to his safehouse.
Due to his injuries Mitchell did not leave his hotel room for several days, slowly recuperating and keeping an eye on the news. Though he had not been explicitly identified, there was a great deal of speculation about the 'Butcher of Kuiper' being the perpetrator due to Mitchell's distinctive helmet being seen on CCTV. It was here that he realised that his new employer was no different than Magnus, and would likely use him to commit further atrocities before throwing him aside. Mirchell decided to get off the planet as soon as possible, and arranged to have a new identity made for him for a large sum of money. Before leaving the hotel, he also attempted to make contact with his sister, Sue, back on Earth. He kept the message brief, simply letting her know that he was alive and apologising for his actions before sending the transmission. He would almost immediately regret this, believing that his message did more harm than good.
After meeting up with his employer, Mitchell was taken to the city's warehouse district where a large criminal organisation known as the 'Minutemen' had set up. It was their leader who would supply Mitchell with a new name and smuggle him off-planet. Almost immediately after their arrival he came face to face with none other than Carlos Driscol, the man who had left him and his squad to die on Skopje back in 2547. The subsequent confrontation between the two would have turned deadly were it not for the arrival of half a dozen Pelican dropships, carrying squads of Orbital Drop Shock Troopers to wipe out the Minutemen in their base. Mitchell put aside killing Driscol to defend himself against these new attackers, who made short work of the guards outside and were quickly surrounding the warehouses. Mitchell killed several soldiers before retreating with his nameless employer into an armoury. There they were able to supply themselves with enough explosives to blast their way through to the next warehouse in an attempt to escape.
Even with their improvised plan, the pair were still vastly outnumbered by the UNSC forces in the area and moved slowly through the district. They would have most likely been caught, were it not for a massive explosion in the Minutemen's main headquarters that destroyed several Pelicans and killed dozens of ODST's in the process. In the confusion that followed they were able to escape in a stolen car to a nearby safehouse. While Mitchell assumed that Driscol had died, the old man sent them a transmission shortly after, berating the pair and confirming that he had escaped offworld within a few hours. Mitchell came close to killing his employer until the man offered him another chance at gaining a new life. This time he was true to his word, supplying the mercenary with a fake name, picture and past, as well as enough money to get him to the colony world of his choosing. Mitchell left Andesia the next day, glad to have done business with someone who had not tried to betray him.
Following his close encounter with Driscol and the UNSC on Andesia, Mitchell discreetly moved to the colony world of Gilgamesh under the name 'Henry Roberts', a portmanteau of his deceased friends Henry McNair and Mal Roberts. Despite having been on the run for barely two years, the UNSC were not pursing Mitchell as fervently as before, many believing that he had died alongside the Minutemen on Andesia. He spent several days in a cheap motel while he prepared to face civilian life after years on the move, packing away his distinctive ODST armour before applying for a job as a manual labourer nearby. While it was hard work, it helped to keep the ex-mercenary in shape as he managed to find affordable housing nearby to live in. Mitchell didn't mind life on Gilgamesh, though his time on the run had made him rather paranoid and unfriendly; he rarely left his house outside of work and remained distant from others. After a few months he began to miss life as a mercenary, largely due to the boredom of his current line of work and the feeling that his life was going nowhere. When news arrived that Gilgamesh was recruiting for a Colonial Militia to help with the war effort against possible Kig-Yar, Mitchell signed on alongside many others, believing that a return to his old military lifestyle might do him some good.
As the fake background of 'Henry Roberts' had no indication of military history whatsoever, Mitchell was subjected to training that he considered rather sub-par compared to what he went through when he signed up for the Marine Corps thirty years ago. He unsurprisingly rose to become the best marksman in his group and spent a great deal of time assisting his new squadmates. As someone fairly new to the colony Mitchell rarely spoke to the other recruits and was given a hard time by the Drill Instructors for his status as an outsider; their taunts got worse when he turned out as the most talented person there. Though he no longer possessed a military rank, he was assigned to the role of squad leader during training exercises and genuinely enjoyed his time spent there among the other recruits. However, Mitchell had a lingering fear of his true identity being uncovered and spoke very little about his past before coming to Gilgamesh. In August of 2556, shortly after Mitchell's group had finished their training, the colony came under attack from a single CRS-class Covenant warship. As the war had been over for some time this took the colonists by surprise, Gilgamesh's single space tether being destroyed by a barrage of plasma fire within minutes of the ship's arrival. When dozens of drop pods landed in urban areas it became apparent that their attackers were part of a rogue group, consisting largely of Kig-Yar and Jiralhanae. Mitchell, who had returned to work at this point, was able to evade a patrol and make it back home, where he donned his old armour once more to save his new home.
The arrival of a well-armed soldier took the raiders by surprise as Mitchell gunned down dozens of aliens attempting to round up civilians; many would be used as slave labour or even food by the attackers. After saving a large group from certain death, Mitchell encountered a squad of his fellow militiamen on the outskirts of the city. However, he was met with some hostility as a few recognised the distinctive armour and skull-patterned visor that revealed his true identity. Unwilling to kill his former comrades during an alien attack, Mitchell convinced a few to follow him into the city in order to take on the invaders while the others went their own way. He spent the remainder of the day engaging enemy squads in the city, utilising an Olifant garbage truck for cover as they moved from block to block. When UNSC forces entered the system, the CRS-Class Cruiser departed with hundreds of captured colonists aboard and was pursued by several ships. The newly-formed Colonial Militia had almost been wiped out in the attack, with barely a dozen survivors following Mitchell by the end. While he had helped to save as many people as possible and was regarded as a hero by many on Gilgamesh, there were still some who regarded him simply as the 'Butcher of Kuiper' and reported him when UNSC Marines arrived to help the colonists. Mitchell was forced into hiding, abandoning his identity as Henry Roberts and escaping the city with the help of his newfound friends in the Colonial Militia. He spent the next week hiding in an old mine that had long since been abandoned by Gilgamesh's colonists, living off meagre supplies as he attempted to wait out the UNSC investigation.
Much to Mitchell's dismay, the UNSC did not abandon their search for him or believe that he had left the planet. Instead, agents from the Office of Naval Intelligence's infamous BRUTUS group arrived and intensified their search, eventually tracking down Mitchell's location after interrogating a militiaman. Luckily, one of Mitchell's comrades had bought him passage away from Gilgamesh on a civilian cargo ship heading for Mamore, which was still an Insurrectionist haven after decades of fighting the UNSC. When his group arrived at the spaceport, they came under fire from a number of disguised ONI agents and would have died were it not for Mitchell's quick actions in ramming their vehicle through a blockade and into a maze of shipping containers. A prolonged firefight ensued, Mitchell and his accomplices fending off the agents as they made their way towards the ship. Even the feared BRUTUS operatives proved no match for Mitchell's tenacity as several were gunned down before Mitchell made a run for his transport before it took off. Though he survived thanks to his thick armour and quick trigger finger, Mitchell was the only survivor; his friends had gone down in a hail of gunfire from the ONI agents. The crew of Mitchell's transport, the Warsaw II, were friendly towards him and patched up his wounds before revealing that someone else had paid a small fortune to ensure his safe transport to Mamore. Mitchell became very suspicious at this, as he could not think of anyone who would try and save his life. When the ship touched down on one of Mamore's many settlements to unload it's cargo, Mitchell attempted to discreetly slip away. He was met with a group of heavily armed mercenaries who quickly surrounded him before he could fight back. As Mitchell hesitated, several attacked him with Humbler stun batons, quickly rendering him unconscious with near-lethal bursts of electricity.
When he woke up, Mitchell found himself imprisoned within a converted mining facility on the outskirts of one of Mamore's cities, Agadir. Stripped of his armour and gear, he was left in an isolated prison cell for several days with minimal food and water until his captors finally met him. It turned out that the 'mercenaries' had turned out to be soldiers serving with The New Colonial Alliance, a prominent secessionist group spread out amongst the colonies. Mitchell was questioned for hours about how he had made it to Mamore, though the fugitive gave little away and was eventually taken back to his cell. From the second day onwards, he was regularly interrogated and beaten by the guards for information on his past; some still saw him as the 'Butcher of Kuiper' and saw the beatings as punishment for his supposed crimes back on Circumstance.
In spite of his age, Mitchell's training and endurance kept him alive and stopped him from giving in to the torture. It soon became clear to him that his captors did not wish to kill or severely injure him, and were keeping him alive for some reason. After two weeks of imprisonment, he attempted to escape while being taken to the interrogation chamber, successfully knocking out two guards and tearing out the throat of a third before attempting to flee the facility. However, he did not make it far before he was overwhelmed and pummelled into submission by half a dozen guards. Left barely conscious in an interrogation room, Mitchell was visited by Sergeant Keller, the warden of the prison facility. Keller ordered Mitchell to be held down before cutting out his left eye with a large knife as punishment for his escape attempt. After passing out from the pain, the prisoner was taken to the base's medical quarters and patched up before being thrown back in his cell. This failure and the promise that he would lose his other eye if he tried to escape again dampened Mitchell's spirits greatly and he resolved to merely survive in the hellish prison for as long as he could.
It soon became clear that Mitchell was a pariah, even among his fellow prisoners. There were less than fifty inmates in the NCA-run prison, most being captured UNSC officials or military personnel. While he initially believed this was due to his infamous past, Mitchell soon found out that the guards had orders to brutally punish prisoners who attempted to contact him in any way. Even his cell was kept apart from the other prisoners to keep Mitchell isolated from any contact outside of his usual interrogators. Knowing that this was all intended to break his spirit and make him talk, the ex-trooper played along with this and attempted to keep up a façade of normalcy within the prison until he had the opportunity to escape again. After over a month in the Mamorian prison, he overheard the guards talking about how a prominent NCA member, Roger Maxon, would be arriving at the base after holding a rally in Agadir. Certain that he would be either taken away or killed by Maxon when the he arrived arrived, Mitchell began preparing to make a second, all-or-nothing escape attempt.
In late September of 2556, Mitchell was taken from his prison cell as the base he was held in came under bombardment from mortar fire. While the rest of the prisoners were slaughtered by the guards, he was to be escorted to Roger Maxon's own transport ship alongside a number of other key personnel. As he was taken topside by Sergeant Keller, a shell destroyed part of the wall beside them, distracting Mitchell's captor long enough for the ex-ODST to gain the upper hand, brutally stabbing and shooting Keller in bloody revenge for the loss of his eye. He then moved on through the barracks, killing several more soldiers and stealing a uniform before sneaking out into the main compound, where a platoon was gathering to move on a sniper that had been attacking them from the hills. Mitchell was able to blend in with the group and mounted up on a truck, having formed a plan to escape through the spaceport in Agadir.
After conversing with the two others in the front of the truck, Mitchell seized the opportunity and killed one of his companions before tossing a grenade into the back of the truck and leaping out as it veered off the road and down a hill. He briefly considered sparing the young driver, but killed him when the man shot him in the leg with a concealed ballistic knife. Wounded and being pursued by dozens of soldiers, Mitchell fled through the snowy fields into an abandoned town, sustaining several more injuries during a prolonged firefight before being cornered by a group of enemy soldiers. Seeing no way out, he prepared to shoot himself in the head to avoid capture, but stopped as the NCA troops were gunned down by an unknown assailant. Much to his surprise, Mitchell had been saved by the SPARTAN-II supersoldier Marco-035, who spoke with him for some time until a car arrived. A woman named Amanda Wade then gave Mitchell an offer to join her crew; she had led the attack on the NCA outpost solely to rescue him from captivity. Delirious and half-frozen, he accepted and managed to stand up before passing out from blood loss.
Mitchell awoke some time later in the medical bay of an unknown freighter with his wounds tended to as the ship journeyed through slipspace. Still fairly unsteady after his near-death on Mamore, he took a surgical scalpel as a weapon and made his way to the ship's bridge, where he threatened the pilot in an attempt to hijack the ship. He was then held at gunpoint when an assassin named Winston Zhou crept up behind him, holding Mitchell hostage until Amanda Wade arrived to speak with Mitchell about her offer. After a change of clothes and time to get his head together, he considered Wade's offer of sanctuary on Avalon, a settlement she had founded on the abandoned colony of Emerald Cove earlier that year. With no real options since he was still a wanted man in the Inner Colonies and would almost certainly be unable to find work as a bounty hunter again, Mitchell chose to take Amanda up on her offer as her ship, the Dynasty, left slipspace. Though he was unsure about his future or how he would even be useful in the independent settlement, he was glad to finally be away from the clutches of the NCA and UNSC, and hoped that his life would improve in Avalon.
In spite of his notoriety around human space as a mass-murderer and terrorist, Mitchell found himself welcomed by Avalon's inhabitants after his arrival. Naturally suspicious of all friendly contact, he resolved to keep to himself during his stay there. However, Amanda Wade planned for them to go on a mission barely two days after his escape from Mamore. In spite of his less than perfect physical condition and recovering wounds, Mitchell accepted her offer to accompany a team of hers to Escala III in the Outer Colonies. There, they intended to kidnap a known information dealer named Hadvir Erikkson who bartered with both the NCA and ONI and had known connections to Magnus. Though he was surprised at how quickly Amanda wished to begin her search for their enemy, Mitchell soon adapted and joined Amanda, Rizhan Kama, Carol DuMont and a young assassin named Winston Zhou in assaulting Erikkson's downtown mansion in the midst of a New Year's Eve party. The team donned breathing masks and fired canisters of knockout gas into the estate before moving in and eliminating any security guards in their path.
Inside the mansion, Mitchell's team soon engaged with Erikkson's surprisingly well-armed security force as they searched room-to-room for their quarry. Eventually locating their comatose target, Mitchell was saved from a group of foes by Zhou, who eliminated them with frightening efficiency. While the younger man carried Erikkson's body out of the estate, Mitchell stumbled across a prominently featured display in the mansion: His old ODST armour. Instantly recognising the battered suit and skull-painted helmet, he came to the conclusion that Erikkson had purchased it from the NCA after his capture and sought to make an exhibit of it for his guests. Angrily, he smashed the case protecting it and took the armour back before making his escape alongside his comrades. Though their attack had been quick enough to not alert the authorities, Mitchell's theft had tripped several alarms that alerted nearby law enforcement, prompting a brief firefight and a chase through the colony's streets before they managed to get their truck aboard the Dynasty to escape the planet. Though they got away without any casualties, Amanda reprimanded him harshly for endangering the team, though she understood his reasons for taking back his suit. Following the mission, he left the armour with Carol DuMont, Avalon's chief mechanic and tinkerer, for repairs. Though the kidnapping had been a fairly easy operation by his standards, Mitchell's close call made him realise that he wasn't quite the force of nature he used to be; the loss of his eye gave him a major blind spot, and his body was rather worn due to his constant battle. While staying at Avalon, he vowed to return to peak physical condition as they continued their hunt for Magnus.
It was not until several days later that Mitchell saw Erikkson, and discovered that Amanda had imprisoned the man in a jail cell and was having him tortured by 'Mary', an elderly woman with a penchant for weapons he had seen on the firing range several times. It became clear to him that Amanda Wade's independent settlement was a lot more sinister than he had first imagined, and joined her in interrogating the man personally about how to contact Magnus. After a brief but intense session they were able to gain a name from their captive: Anatoly Kustentov, an arms dealer on Cascade who dealt with Magnus personally. Having terrified Erikkson into submission, Amanda promised him better treatment as they left to plan their next mission. Though he had not been in Avalon long, Mitchell seemed to have quickly become Wade's bodyguard, confidant and top soldier as he was treated with respect by the facility's civilian inhabitants, which included a number of non-Humans.
Having quickly assembled a large combat team, the Dynasty's next destination was Cascade, where Mitchell and Amanda would lead an operation to capture Kustentov. They had been able to pinpoint his centre of operations to a run-down apartment building on the edge of Cascade's roughest slum district, where criminal gangs reigned due to the UNSC's neglect. Their group was able to surround the building while Mitchell and a few others entered in search of their quarry. After a brief exchange under a false identity, Kustentov attacked their group and fled upwards into the building, setting off a veritable eruption of violence as a local milita descended on the area to assist him. Mitchell led the chase shortly behind Amanda, circling round to cut Kustentov off as he crossed to a second building and through a reinforced roof hatch. Unimpressed by his choice of sanctuary, Mitchell blew through the roof with a grenade and the pair stormed into his saferoom, only to be blocked when Kustentov activated a Covenant-made energy shield to block off their pursuit. As he taunted them, twomen burst through a side door and quickly disarmed Kustentov before dragging him off. Though they initially considered their mission a failure, a brief message on Kustentov's personal communicator from Magnus himself revealed the time and location of a meeting on the glassed world of Sargasso. Though they had lost Kustentov to a pair of ONI agents, Amanda and Mitchell had finally gotten the information they needed to force a physical confrontation with their hated foe.
After several days of preparation, during which Mitchell re-honed his skills and continued to recover from his imprisonment, the Dynasty and a number of allied ships launched their assault on Magnus' base. Having discovered a small outpost near Sargasso's north pole, they interrupted a meeting between Magnus, several NCA contacts, and a UNSC force that had also used Kustentov's information to find his hidden fortress. Mitchell helped lead Avalon's forces during the assault, charging into the compound with a small group while Amanda infiltrated the lower levels alone. After fighting past Magnus' militia and descending several floors, Mitchell's men were ambushed by the same duo of ONI agents that had kidnapped Kustentov on Cascade. Though his comrades were swiftly killed, Mitchell managed to badly injure one with a shotgun blast before facing down the other man, Alexander Redford. Despite the age of his opponent, Mitchell could barely keep up with the older man's speed and combat abilities and was forced to rely on the protection of his armour and his physical strength in an attempt to overpower him. After a prolonged fight within the underground base, a large chunk of the ceiling collapsed and almost buried Mitchell, who narrowly escaped death once more as a thrown knife had managed to barely penetrate his visor.
Though injured, Mitchell managed to reach the lowest floor of the facility, the hangar. There, he found Amanda fighting Magnus himself. With his foe momentarily distracted, Mitchell charged forward and tackled Magnus before he could finish off his helpless friend. In the ensuing battle he managed to stab through one of the cyborg's prosthetic hands with his combat knife, only to be thrown off and shot multiple times by his foe's sidearm. Though his already-damaged armour took the brunt of it, Mitchell was grievously wounded. Amanda was able to not only injure but drive back Magnus, who barely escaped with his life aboard his personal vessel. Though their quarry had gotten away, he still felt a sense of achievement and having won a victory of sorts against Magnus, and managed to climb towards the surface via an emergency ladder alongside Amanda before passing out.
Mitchell was immediately taken to the Dynasty's medical bay, where he was treated by several medics. As his injuries from Mamore had not properly healed by this point, he almost died several times as the ship escaped Sargasso and entered Slipspace. Nonetheless, he survived thanks to the quick acts of those aboard, and was still unconscious by the time they returned to Emerald Cove. He awoke to discover that the UNSC had launched an attack on Avalon, and despite the medic's protests attempted to pick up a gun and join Amanda in leading the defence. However, it soon became clear that the settlement stood no chance against the overwhelming power of their foe and the Dynasty moved back in to rescue Amanda and Rizhan Kama as they emerged onto one of the outer landing platforms. Mitchell greeted the pair in the cargo bay before returning to the med bay as they escaped. Shortly after, Amanda was rushed in with a gunshot wound to her lower abdomen and passed out just as the freighter evaded enemy Longswords and made its jump to Slipspace.
In the aftermath of Avalon's fall, the surviving crew of the Dynasty were able to escape to Herschel, an Outer Colony world. Rizhan and Carol then put together footage from Avalon's final moments to leak to the public in an attempt to shame both the UNSC and ONI while Mitchell collected supplies for the vessel. Amanda eventually woke up, having survived her injuries, and spoke with Mitchell for some time regarding their future. Without Avalon to tie them down, the pair agreed that they could simply keep going after Magnus in pursuit of revenge. While his life in the settlement had only lasted a few weeks, Mitchell was saddened to see it destroyed. While his facial features had changed enough to stop him from being recognised on sight, he knew that he would have to return to living off the grid with the Dynasty's crew. While he was more or less back in the same situation he had been back in February, now minus an eye, Mitchell was comforted somewhat with the knowledge that he would no longer have to face the future alone.
Ciudad de Huesos Incident
Mitchell would spend the next six months aboard the Dynasty, which after Avalon's fall began to slowly lose manpower after many of its crew went their separate ways. While they had barely survived their previous encounters with Magnus and ONI, Mitchell and Amanda agreed to continue their pursuit of the elusive terrorist and intended to dispose of him through less conventional means. To do this, they travelled from world to world, using the black market to supply themselves with weaponry and ammunition while searching for a functional nuclear weapon. As they grew more desperate, the crew became increasingly violent, with Ash starting to slip back into the emotionless mindset he had carried in his darkest days as a mercenary. Eventually, word reached the Dynasty of a secret settlement on the glassed planet of Madrigal, with rumours that it held a stockpile of nuclear devices that predated the Human-Covenant War. Mitchell and the others pursued this lead, and discovered that only a few select individuals were permitted access to 'Ciudad de Huesos'. As such, they chose to go after Jim Hogan, an influential Fetcher with Insurrectionist ties.
It did not take long for the crew to track down Hogan's vessel, Starsailor, which was combing through ship graveyards over Verent. After concealing the Dynasty within the planet's orbital debris field, Mitchell and the crew waited until one of Hogan's salvager teams tried to gain access to the seemingly deserted cruiser before ambushing them. Mitchell killed two salvagers and forced another to have the Dynasty towed into one of the Starsailor's hangar bays. There they unsuccessfully tried to negotiate with Hogan, though the interference of an armed salvager prompted a bloodbath. Mitchell, Amanda and Carol DuMont killed Hogan and his entire crew before plundering the ship's archives for the exact location and access codes that would get them into Ciudad de Huesos, leaving only one survivor - a Fetcher named Bess Rivers - alive as they departed. Rivers briefly confronted Mitchell during the raid, revealing that her sister had been among those slain on Circumstance during the disastrous massacre that made Mitchell a wanted man. Though he shifted the blame onto Magnus, Mitchell was greatly disturbed by this and began to seriously doubt their mission, realising that Amanda Wade had turned their crew into a group of bloodthirsty pirates in her search for revenge.
Despite his misgivings, Mitchell resolved to see this mission through and soon travelled to Madrigal, which had been glassed decades before. Using information salvaged from Hogan's computers, the crew were able to successfully land in Ciudad de Huesos, a thriving independent settlement that hid itself under a cloaking field generated from several reverse engineered Covenant spires. Though it seemed that their infiltration was successful, the Dynasty's crew were immediately met with a sizeable force of human and alien mercenaries upon disembarking. Their greeter, a man named Gordon Mills, identified Mitchell and the crew immediately and had them arrested. Lacking the firepower for a stand-up fight, they surrendered peacefully and were taken to the city's capitol.
Skills and Abilities
While initially possessing few practical skills upon leaving school aside from his intellect, Mitchell soon found a place for himself in the military. His training with the Marine Corps gave him several useful talents, though these largely based around survival and killing others. He was generally a decent shot with a rifle, killing at least half a dozen enemies in his first deployment. As time went on, he honed his skills even further, becoming a very proficient combatant by the time he entered the ranks of the famed Orbital Drop Shock Troopers. His time fighting in the Human-Covenant War gave Mitchell a great knowledge of most weapons used by both sides, though in general he found himself to be at home with shorter-range weapons for close quarters.
By the time he finally left the UNSC at the age of thirty, Mitchell had become a veritable force of nature on the battlefield, mixing his expertise in ranged combat with a talent for being a deadly force in close quarters. Even while living rough on the frontier without the technology or equipment he was used to as an ODST, he remained an extremely dangerous opponent for any foe. He would constantly work to keep in top physical condition, becoming a feared mercenary in the near-lawless frontier worlds and space stations for his skills. While he was never exactly the best in the business in terms of lethality, Mitchell was known for the fact that he would always make it out alive. Rumours of his talent for surviving multiple suicide missions spread into the criminal underworld and made him a much sought-after mercenary during his brief career as one. After he became known as the Butcher of Kuiper such legends fuelled Ash's reputation as a terrifying, nigh-unstoppable monster, while Ash simply considered his good fortune to be a result of his superb training and experience.
In addition to his considerable physical talents, Mitchell was quite an intelligent man in terms of planning and strategy, as well as more practical talents in the field such as the repair and maintenance of vehicles. He even possessed some limited knowledge of computer hacking, though he often carried the equipment to take care of it for him. Mitchell would often use his generally unassuming features to his advantage, particularly when infiltrating somewhere without his distinctive suit of armour. Not being particularly large or intimidating would often lead to others underestimating him, making a great mistake in doing so.
Mitchell was known for being rather headstrong and outspoken at a young age and retained this attitude after entering the military. He made friends easily and retained a rather optimistic outlook on things in spite of the fact that Humanity was losing the Human-Covenant War. He would occasionally butt heads with his superiors on missions over certain issues such as putting an objective over human lives, though he generally fell in line when push came to shove. Years of experiencing the horrors of war began to change him as he rose in rank, making few new friends as his old ones were killed. As an ODST, all he could look forward to was surviving their mission, causing him to eventually lose all prospects of a future beyond the seemingly endless war. Seeing so many men and women die under his command hardened Mitchell into a much tougher person when it came to newer soldiers in particular and made him concerned for those following him into battle.
While the end of the Human-Covenant War brought back his optimistic side somewhat, though the prospect of having to now fight his fellow man disturbed him greatly. While he put this aside for the most part and concentrated on his missions as he had before, the departure of his best friend Mal Roberts in 2555 following a classified mission shook his faith in the UNSC and made him unsure of what to do with his life. As he had few skills beyond fighting and resented the inactivity brought about by shore leave he found himself worrying immensely about what he would do with himself after he retired. Mitchell was aware that his military life would leave little time for socialisation and romance; seeing his sister with two children made him consider leaving to try and start his own family at one point, though he rejected his own idea. With months of accumulated stress and worry bothering him, Mitchell was close to having a mental breakdown by the time he left the UNSC for good and made for the Outer Colonies seeking some kind of purpose.
Mitchell's subsequent time as a mercenary would give him a much more pessimistic outlook on life. Having seen the scum of the galaxy in his travels, he began to view himself as little more than a gun for hire and settled for some time in this way of life. As he was free of any responsibilities brought about by military or civilian life, he fought for himself and became rather prideful; he was known for never accepting bribes that would damage his reputation with employers. With his new freedom came a new attitude towards combat, greatly enjoying the thrill that his missions brought him as opposed to the methodical nature he had undertaken in the past during the war. He deliberately strove to inspire fear in his foes, becoming much more brutal in his methods and making his skull-visored helmet an icon in the mercenary world. By adopting this persona, it allowed Mitchell to detach himself emotionally from his less ethical actions as a mercenary, especially during his brief partnership with Magnus.
Following his betrayal and subsequent role as a fugitive, he became much more desperate and had few qualms about accepting jobs that were completely unethical in exchange for money and shelter from the authorities. As he fought off a number of bounty hunters he became increasingly misanthropic and aggressive towards others as he viewed himself as being completely alone at this time. The fact that he had been repeatedly betrayed by others made him extremely mistrustful and justifiably paranoid of potential foes, making him wary of remaining in once place for too long. While he lived in infamy, Mitchell did have a strong desire to do something worthwhile with his life before he died, strongly believing that he was living on borrowed time. While not suicidal, he was more than willing to sacrifice himself to save the lives of others.
After meeting Amanda Wade and the crew of the Dynasty, Mitchell's personality softened somewhat, seeing similarities in the camaraderie of the ex-rebel group to some of his old ODST units. Though years of war and the challenges of his years on the frontier still made him keep people at arm's length, he found himself making friends again and came to terms with the unforgivable nature of his actions in previous years. Finding purpose in protecting his new family gave Mitchell reason to live again, and though he followed Wade's mission of vengeance against Magnus more out of a desire for justice than anger, he would soon long for an end to his violent lifestyle.