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July 30, 2555 Lambose Province, New Chesire
The vehicle depot hummed with renewed excitement as several vehicles, both military and civilian alike, pulled into the rough expanse of outbuildings. URF soldiers, some them no older than 15, quickly rushed to unload the supplies the vehicles had been laden with, much of it either ammunition or fuel. To the Spartan-IV watching them through the visor of his MJONLIR GEN2 Stalker helmet, this was good news. It meant that his "research" had paid off.
About one year previous, the Outer Colony of New Chesire had resurfaced, after it was thought glassed for over a year when the Covenant had popped into a nearby system and the colony had gone dark. However, the colony had actually gone dark in order to avoid detection, and had successfully evaded attack while the Covenant focused on the larger nearby colonies. Unfortunately for the colonists, this had meant that they were now stranded, as Jiralhanae had occupied one of the planets nearby, and they had been forced to remain dark in order to avoid alerting them as well. After the Great Schism, the Jiralhanae had fled the system, and New Chesire had been able to reestablish contact with the UNSC in 2553. Several ships had come in, along with just over 1,000 Marines, and they had found the colony starving and in borderline anarchy. During August 2554, the colony went dark once again, and the UNSC feared either Insurrection or an attack from Covenant Loyalists or the Remnant. The former had been confirmed when a frigate had entered the system and been fired upon by former UNSC ships, all now bearing the insignia of the URF. Not wanting to declare open warfare, but still wanting to win the colony and its civilian populace back, the UNSC had needed a way to topple the government through inside sabotage.
That was where Spartan Locke came in. Highly skilled in covert ops, assassination, and intelligence, Locke had been handpicked to be quietly dropped into the colony, in order to do as much damage to the government as possible while leaving the populace intact and the UNSC seemingly innocent, in the hopes that the colonist would welcome them back with open arms. He had arrived in system on a prowler, and had been dropped onto the planet in what was seemingly a piece of space debris, but was in truth a disguised drop pod, holding Locke and his limited supplies. Locke had quickly cleared the area, and over the next few months, he had studied, watched, and sabotaged the rebels from the shadows. Locke had been able to gather that the colony had trading relations with Venezia, and that the blockade of the planet was much stronger than the UNSC had anticipated, as the rebels had many ships waiting on standby. Many of these resources came from the UNSC itself, ironically. When the Marines had occupied the colony, many of the surviving colonists had informed them of the brutality of the original defensive garrison, who had held the civilian populace in a chokehold after the supplies began to run out. Eventually, the original government had collapsed, and the troopers had either taken to killing each other or quietly melded with the colonists. Eventually, these stories began to circulate, some of them true, some of them exaggerated, and some of them fabricated. Many of the Marines and colonists turned against the UNSC, and quickly defeated the remaining loyalists on the planet after cutting off outside communications.
However, none of that mattered to Locke now. The only thing that mattered was the man in the sight of his M395 DMR. To anyone else, he was just a regular grunt, but the Spartan knew better. The man's name was Austin Staley, and he was originally a Captain in the Marine Corps. However, when the stories began to circulate of the UNSC's brutality, he was one of the first to join the URF, as did most of his company. After several assassination attempts from UNSC loyalists within his company, it had been decided that Staley needed to lead from under cover, and had been hidden in plain sight. He now looked as if he was a regular soldier, and four highly trained bodyguards now loitered around his general radius, ready to act at the first sign of danger.
However, all of this was good news to the Spartan. It meant that it would be that much easier to take him out without anyone suspecting the UNSC. Locke had been shadowing him for the past few weeks, and had had multiple opportunities to neutralize him, but all of them would have resulted in the rebels recognizing a blatant assassination, on which they would place the blame on the UNSC for. No, Locke needed to make this look like an accident, but he had no way of achieving this. Until now.
Locke eyed the fusion coils that the soldiers were unloading from the trucks, and smiled as the first step of his plan was being put in motion. These were older models, the ones that were used during the war. They were also known for being dangerously unsafe, to the point where a high enough drop would cause them to detonate. It wasn't implausible that one of the soldiers could drop one, and what would ensue next would just be a horrific accident. Of course that wasn't the case, but Locke wanted the rebels to think it was.
Deciding that he had waited long enough, the Spartan attached a silencer to his DMR. He took aim at the one of the rebels carrying a fusion coil, but then hesitated. The boy couldn't have been older than 19. Now that Locke thought about it, a good portion of the soldiers were still in their relative youth, and there were bound to be some undercover loyalists in here. Hell, many of these "rebels" had probably joined because they were naïve and thought they were genuinely helping the colonists.
Locke pushed the thought from his mind and prepared to take the shot. He felt the C12 detonator at his side, and made one last check of the positions he had placed C12 around the depot beforehand. Locke found the soldier unloading a fusion coil once again, and sighted the fusion coil with his DMR. He took in a breath, and then released it as he pulled the trigger.
The result was almost instantaneous, as the bullet collided with the fusion coil and detonated, blowing itself and the young soldier carrying it to bits. In another second, the fusion coils all around the original explosion detonated, destroying the vehicle underneath them and either consuming the soldiers unloading them in a fiery blaze or blowing them apart. The explosion also had a domino effect, as the vehicles nearby were carrying either fuel or ammunition, which also detonated upon contact with the explosions, along with the vehicles themselves, killing many of the rebels within the blast radius, and sending the rest into chaos. Several of the soldiers panicked, and started to fire blindly at the explosion or wherever they perceived danger to be, wounding some of their comrades in the process.
Locke watched as the domino explosions moved farther and farther down the depot, and decided that now would be best to detonate the C12, as it would make the most sense to the URF as to fooling them into thinking it was an accident. He pressed the button, and watched as all around the depot charges began to go off, sending the rebels into utter chaos as they scrambled to get away from the explosions rocking the area and sending their comrades flying. Many of the charges were set inside of the outhouses, which were weak to begin with, as they had been hastily constructed by the URF, and Leon watched as many of them now collapsed in on themselves, burying the men inside who had survived the initial explosions. Many of the remaining soldiers were regrouping near the soldier who was officially in charge, a Lieutenant who relayed Staley's orders. That Lieutenant, however, was standing right next to a site where Locke had lain down charges that would detonate approximately one minute after the rest- the refueling station.
The explosion that happened seconds later consumed the Lieutenant and any soldiers standing within range of it in a massive fireball, and anyone standing just out of reach was lifted off of their feet and thrown clear across the depot. Locke watched as a passing Spade was thrown into the air, and then came down on a pair of running soldiers. This was going better than he had expected.
Amidst the sea of chaos and confusion, one small point of order remained, just as the Spartan had known it would. Staley's disguised bodyguards, two males and one female, had formed a protective circle around him, as Staley himself barked orders into his radio. A Troop Transport Warthog, Staley's personal transport, raced down the depot, narrowly avoiding fleeing rebels as it did so. Now was the time to act, Locke decided.
He readjusted his aim, and caught the vehicle in his sights. There was the driver and a passenger in the front seat, along with two soldiers in the back, with an open seat clearly reserved for Staley. Locke fixed the driver in his sights, and fired on the quickly moving target. The bullet hit the driver in the arm, causing him to veer to the left, losing control of the vehicle. One of the soldiers riding in back was thrown out by the force of the turn, and hit the asphalt with sickening force, cracking his head open and dying instantly. The other two passengers hung on for dear life as the Warthog crashed and flipped into the burning remains of an outbuilding, catching fire and burning alive.
Locke readjusted his aim, and saw Staley's bodyguard trying to herd him to safety. The Spartan needed to get Staley out of sight of the fleeing rebels in order to neutralize him. Locke found the head of a bodyguard in his scope, and fired. The bullet collided with the soldier's skull, and he stumbled for a second before collapsed on the ground, a large chunk missing from his head. The two remaining bodyguards jumped at first, before the male one pushed Staley to the ground and the female one tried to locate the source of the gunfire. Locke fired again, hitting the woman square in the chest, sending her sprawling backwards onto the asphalt. At this point, the last bodyguard was firing randomly in the general direction of the shooter, which was still about 50 meters to Locke's right. Locke fired a third bullet, hitting the panicking man in the throat, and he fell to the ground and died still clutching at the hole where his jugular used to be. Locke watched as a terrified Staley took of at full tilt down the runway, and spied his opportunity. He activated his Active Camouflage, a prototype reverse engineered from Jiralhanae Stalker technology, and slid down the rockface and towards the depot.
He came onto the runway about 20 meters ahead of Staley, who was still running for his life. Locke needed to get him out of sight in order for the next step of his plan. Locke withdrew his M6H Magnum, and fired three rounds near Staley's feet, hoping the flash wouldn't give him away. Staley stumbled back from the rounds, and veered left, running into the area between two of the still standing (but now abandoned) outbuildings. Locke sprinted behind him, entering the alley just before his camouflage wore off. He withdrew his combat knife with his left hand, and sprinted towards Staley, who had stopped to catch his breath.
The knife slammed into Staley's spine with enough force to send him forward a meter and down onto his face, screaming as he rolled over and tried to remove the knife lodged in his back. Locke realized he was making too much noise, and ran up to the flailing rebel, stepping on his chest, cracking several ribs and silencing him. Staley weakly grabbed at Locke's boot, in what was either a desperate plea for mercy or a weak attempt to stop his pursuer. Locke brought up his Magnum, and put a round in the rebel's throat, finally killing him.
Locke stood for a moments, taking all that happened, and then realized he needed to get moving, as the rebels would regroup and return soon. He snapped several pictures of Staley's dead corpse, and quickly exited the alley, scanning for the corpses of Staley's bodyguards. It was best to make sure that the URF was unable to identify the cause of death as long range DMR fire, and in order to put up the illusion Locke needed to make it look like they had been inside of an outhouse when the explosions started. He sprinted over to the bodies, and grabbed two of them, lobbing one over each shoulder. After he had disposed of them in the burning remains of an outbuilding, he came back to the corpse of the third bodyguard, the young woman. As Locke looked at her face, still contorted with agony, he felt a pang of guilt, which he quickly shoved away as he focused on the job at hand.
He hefted the dead woman over his shoulder, and disposed of her in the fire as well, and then activated his camouflage and sprinted back to Staley's corpse. He threw him over his shoulder as well, although he wasn't planning on disposing of his corpse. He would use Staley as a symbol, something to prove to the people he was searching for that they could fight back, as well as to prove his own worth.
Locke was going to meet the UNSC loyalists.