Fireteam Scythe, formerly Team Scythe , was a team of SPARTAN-III's working under both Spartan Operations and Naval Special Warfare Command. Initially one of many teams formed within Gamma Company, Scythe were later singled out for their talents and upon the completion of their training in late 2552 took to the field against both the Covenant and rebel groups for the remainder of the war.
Though they were folded into Spartan Operations post-war, Scythe continued to operate under Naval jurisdiction for the most part, conducting highly classified operations across the frontier as a commando unit. Highly independent, especially for a group from Gamma Company, Scythe were tremendously effective as a team and would be responsible for the destruction of several Insurrectionist groups and ex-Covenant factions over the years.
Chief Mendez: "No, you cheated. That's an automatic failure."
―Clayton and Mendez, after Scythe sabotaged a simulated battle to attain victory.
Among several hundred orphans recruited by the Office of Naval Intelligence for the third generation of the SPARTAN-III Program, Team Scythe was put together in 2544 upon their arrival on the planet Onyx. The five children came from wildly different backgrounds and some barely spoke the same language, but they all shared one thing: the loss of their parents to the Covenant. Attending classes and training sessions for the first month, the five members of Scythe barely interacted with each other and as such performed rather poorly during team-building exercises. This was quickly picked up by their trainer, Kurt Ambrose, who had the children punished and locked up for completely failing to succeed at any task during one particularly bad day.
Forced to spend a night without food in Camp Currahee's brig, the five members of Scythe began to argue amongst themselves. While it did not come to blows for fear of attracting their drill instructor's attention, they ended up conversing for some time not only about their training, but about their personal thoughts and talents. Clayton-G045, whose exasperated attempts at team management had been ignored beforehand, soon won the respect of his peers as he formulated plans to get back at the rival teams who had beaten them. The others - Jiang, Ezra, Clarence and Ianto - soon sorted themselves out into roles and vowed to work together properly in all future training sessions. Sure enough, Team Scythe's performance grades skyrocketed in the weeks following their night of confinement as they began operating as a cohesive unit, adapting to the military mindset their trainers were instilling in them much quicker than many of their peers.
During their next few years of training on Onyx, Team Scythe became rather notorious for their unorthodox methods of attaining victory and absolutely vicious mindset. While their instructors were initially delighted to find them progressing well, the five trainees were not well-liked amongst their peers and rarely interacted with any other teams despite Clayton's attempts to keep the peace. They also became incredibly protective of one another; after Julian-G209 of Team Shashka punched Clarence in the face during an argument, the rest of Scythe threw him off a roof and broke the trainee's arm. In another incident, they spent several hours using a toilet to interrogate Simon-G294 after the trainee tried bribing them into throwing a training match in favour of his team. This prompted a brief but intense rivalry with a vengeful Team Jian which only ended after both teams eliminated each other simultaneously in a training match, leading to a truce. Scythe also developed a propensity for subverting the rules of engagement during combat exercises. They were repeatedly pulled up for sabotaging gear, cutting power cables to their instructor's surveillance cameras and other infractions just so they could claim victory. Believing that publicly rewarding Scythe for this would only incite other teams to do the same and thus skew combat scores, they were punished for 'cheating' on multiple occasions. A report late into their training process suggested that though they exhibited superb team cohesion, their dismissive attitude towards outsiders within Gamma Company would make Scythe a weak link in large-scale deployments in the future.
In 2551 Team Scythe and the rest of Gamma Company underwent a series of augmentation procedures that greatly enhanced their physical and mental capabilities. In addition, Gamma had several extra - and illegal - drugs administered to increase their survivability in the field. While effective, this would also mean that they would have to regularly take injections to counteract the neural degradation brought on by their augmentation. A number of months were spent re-training and preparing for actual combat as Scythe got used to their improved bodies, with news spreading of a competition for top honours between the highest-graded three teams to be held in late 2552. Eager to prove themselves, Scythe continued to perform incredibly well and as their 'graduation' approached were outperforming teams that just a few years beforehand had beaten them with ease. In October it was revealed that teams Saber, Gladius and Katana were to compete in the exercise instead. A furious Clayton confronted Lieutenant Commander Ambrose over his decision and was informed that Scythe's constant rulebreaking had disqualified them from competing.
On their final day on Onyx, a dejected Scythe Team was called to Ambrose's office and given a few words before leaving, as he had done with every team. As training was over, he could freely admit that he admired their unorthodoxy and resourcefulness, and to not dwell on their disqualification on something as meaningless as the top honours exercise when they had Covenant to fight. Pointing out that their teamwork was Scythe's strongest attribute, Ambrose dismissed the five young Spartans, who were shipped offworld alongside most of their comrades that day and transported to prepare various deployments. Scythe were taken to Helios Station in the Sol System shortly afterwards, where they received their first suits of Mark II SPI armour and told of an impending mission against a suspected terrorist group on Mars.
Scythe Team's first combat deployment took place on October 19th, 2552. The five Spartans were taken via shuttle to the Martian city of Losantiville and given the location of their target building; a disused warehouse complex on the outskirts of the city's industrial area. While such an operation would usually be a job for local police or even regular Special Forces, a report that the terrorists possessed a HAVOK nuclear weapon which they intended to use prompted the involvement of ONI and eventually, the Spartans. Seeing this delicate operation as a challenge for the fresh Spartans, their overseers kept in contact with the group from orbit as they moved into position. Despite their unfamiliarity with urban environments, Scythe were able to avoid detection from several security systems on approach thanks to both their observational skills and the photoreactive panels built into their armour.
With Ezra and Ianto watching the building from vantage points outside, the other Spartans entered through an upstairs window and discovered a number of rebels inside. As they had not been detected, Clayton had Clarence and Jiang use their combat knives to eliminate several guards as they crept downstairs toward the basement; once the presence of a nuclear weapon was confirmed Scythe were to secure it and call for reinforcements immediately. However, one of the interior cameras picked up the corpse of a dead rebel, prompting quick action as the trio swept through the complex, gunning down numerous opponents with suppressed MA5K carbines. The basement itself had been evacuated by the time they arrived, and as the survivors attempted to escape via a warthog they were gunned down at long range by Ianto. Ezra then secured the HAVOK nuke from the vehicle and the mission was declared a complete success. Scythe were returned to Helios Station to await further instructions, where Clarence voiced private concerns about fighting rebels instead of the Covenant, as they had been trained to. Clayton made it clear that they would fight the UNSC's foes regardless of species, and that they would most likely be deployed against the Covenant in the near future.
On the following day, October 20th, the Covenant invaded. The moment Covenant ships were picked up entering the Sol System, Scythe was immediately relocated to Pillar Base on Earth alongside a number of other teams from Gamma Company. Surprisingly, the initial Covenant fleet diverted most of its attention towards Kenya instead of any critical bases on Earth, giving the UNSC time to maneuver before enemy reinforcements arrived. Scythe fought in several skirmishes over the next few weeks, though it was not until mid-November that they were involved in a truly desperate battle. Having received word that the Covenant were attacking the heavily-populated city of Boston on the URNA's east coast, the Spartans were immediately deployed to defend ONI's nearby headquarters.
With a local Pelican landing all but impossible due to the heavy fighting on Boston's streets, Team Scythe were dropped in from low orbit via SOIEV's alongside a contingent of battle-hardened Orbital Drop Shock Troopers. Landing fairly close to each other, the team soon regrouped and carved a bloody path through Covenant forces in their push towards the ONI building. Though heavily fortified, its defences would not hold out for long against a prolonged Covenant assault. It was here that they first encountered Jiralhanae warriors, observing a pack of the bestial aliens hunting down fleeing civilians for sport and food for a few moments before taking action. Despite being heavily outnumbered, the supersoldiers had surprise and their SPI suits as a huge tactical advantage that allowed them to easily flank and kill the pack before moving out towards the headquarters. There they found several Wraith tanks bombarding the building's high perimeter walls, and planted detonation charges atop each one while their occupants were distracted.
With the Wraiths destroyed and the immediate threat to ONI's HQ gone, Scythe then moved to eliminate a group of anti-air tanks nearby so reinforcements could land. As they moved along, however, they discovered that a second, much larger pack of Jiralhanae was pursuing the Spartans and nearby UNSC forces based not on sight, but smell. Ianto and Jiang moved back to ambush and engage the pack while Clayton, Ezra and Clarence completed their mission. Though the plan was partially successful, the SPARTAN-III's underestimated their foe's capabilities as several Phantoms carrying enemy troops arrived to reinforce their location. Though barely visible, Clayton's group were forced to hide from the enemy dropships that swept the nearby area, waiting until they had a tiny window of opportunity to advance and attack the anti-air Wraiths while Ianto and Jiang launched their surprise attack.
In the ensuing melee, the two Spartans easily outmaneuvered their brutish foes and took down half a dozen in close combat before coming face to face with a heavily-armoured Chieftain armed with a Gravity Hammer. What advantage they had in speed and surprise was lost as the alien warrior backed them into a building while his surviving packmates rained down Spiker fire. While the Spartans reloaded, a plasma grenade landed nearby and almost killed Ianto as he dived away, burning a good portion of his right side. Initially believing his friend to be dead, Jiang slaughtered the Jiralhanae in a fit of rage - one induced by his augmentations, no less - until the Chieftain managed to throw him to the ground. He would have died were it not for Ianto's sudden reappearance, stabbing the alien repeatedly in the neck and finishing it off with multiple pistol rounds before collapsing. The rest of Scythe had managed to destroy the enemy Wraiths after a hard fight, during which an explosion had propelled a piece of flying metal through the side of Ezra's helmet and left cheek, missing his throat by inches. The area secure, Scythe called for immediate assistance for their wounded and were eventually airlifted out of the combat zone by the end of the day.
While most of their injuries were fairly minor and Ezra would receive some facial surgery, Ianto was near-death when brought in and remained in the medical bay of an orbital facility after falling into a coma. The plasma grenade had not only destroyed most of his armour but burned away much of the flesh and skin on the right side of his head, arms and abdomen. While his internal organs were fine, Ianto would need a great deal of time to recover from the severe plasma burns, leaving Scythe with only four members for the time being. They would continue to operate over the course of several months without Ianto until the war's end. With their comrade still unconscious, the Spartans were forced to move on to new deployments and leave him behind. Another heavy blow came for the Spartans when news arrived of Onyx's complete destruction and the death of Kurt Ambrose during the battle there. While details were scarce and mostly classified, Scythe had lost the closest thing to a home they had. In May of 2553, they and the rest of Gamma Company were introduced to the newly-formed Spartan branch.
"What do you mean, 'no ranks'? Who the hell's gonna give orders?"
―Jiang expresses confusion at the Spartan branch's organisation.
The sudden introduction of the SPARTAN-IV Program mere months after Gamma Company's first deployment came as a surprise to Scythe and their comrades, even more so when they discovered that those within Gamma were given the option of transferring to non-combat roles instead of continuing their duties in the field. Clayton and the others all chose to remain within the military and transferred to the Spartan branch. Due to the highly-illegal nature of the SPARTAN-III Program, Spartans from Gamma Company rarely interacted with the newer generation of Spartans and largely operated on missions far away from regular deployments. Now renamed 'Fireteam Scythe', the team were overjoyed to find that Ianto had awakened from his coma by this point, though after meeting up with him aboard Helios Station discovered that the Office of Naval Intelligence intended to redeploy him to Mars in order to test out new MJOLNIR armour variants.
After Clayton protested that Scythe needed its fifth member, Ianto's ONI handler relented and agreed to keep him available for operations alongside the team while not actively involved in testing. Ezra suggested privately that ONI intended to turn Ianto into one of their agents and possibly have him keep tabs on Scythe, though the others refused to believe that their friend would betray their trust. By late 2553, the Spartans were finally introduced to newly-created suits of second-generation MJOLNIR armour. These suits would enhance their already-formidable strength and speed and increase their combat effectiveness tenfold, and were custom-built to each member's specifications. In March of 2554, Firetam Scythe were given a new base of operations aboard the UNSC Peacemaker, a Epoch-class heavy carrier and lead ship of its battlegroup. While the UNSC Infinity possessed the largest Spartan contingent, the Peacemaker was also home to over a dozen SPARTAN-IV fireteams led by Spartan Commander Mikhail Schultz.
It did not take long for Schultz to dislike the SPARTAN-III's, whose rather unprofessional manner while not in the field and heavily-classified backgrounds annoyed the veteran soldier. Clayton was forced to inform him that despite being the leader of the Peacemaker's Spartan contingent, Fireteam Scythe's orders came directly from NAVSPECWAR and as such they were not under his command. Despite several heated disputes, the SPARTAN-III's continued to operate efficiently in the years following the Human-Covenant War, though like the rest of Gamma Company they were forced to rely on a near-constant supply of drugs to counteract the negative side-effects of their augmentation procedures, which ensured that Scythe's operations were usually quick strikes lasting no longer than a few days at most.
Based out of the Peacemaker, Scythe would respond to missions passed down from NAVSPECWAR without much incident for several years, rarely socialising with the other Spartans stationed aboard their vessel. The SPARTAN-III's garnered a reputation for unfriendliness that led to several incidents with their fellow supersoldiers, though they never started fights themselves. Commander Schultz would report this to his superiors more than once, but as long as Scythe carried out their missions little was done to make them build rapport with the SPARTAN-IV's. Clayton in particular did not particularly like the newest generation of Spartans, believing that their very existence was designed to make Gamma Company obsolete.
Despite these misgivings, Scythe continued to be useful assets in the field and were often called in to handle jobs deemed too tough for regular special forces personnel. Though they were noted for being talkative with each other, the group rarely bickered and were incredibly coordinated in combat, even more so when Ianto-G200 joined them on occasion. Though Scythe's fifth member was sorely missed, his duties with ONI kept him away from the others for extended periods of time, making their four-man team composition the most common. As a commando unit, they mostly dealt with terrorist groups and particularly troublesome pirates, though in August of 2558 Scythe would find themselves facing off against a little-known mercenary faction known as the Banished. After surviving a brief battle against a Jiralhanae raiding party salvaging tje civilian freighter Whiskey Courage, the Spartans were sent out on a lengthy mission by ONI to track, monitor and take down Banished ships threatening frontier settlements.
Setting out in late August, Scythe were transferred aboard the UNSC Penumbra, a Prowler craft designed for operating for long periods with little support. While the Banished kept their actions largely within former Covenant territory, where few UNSC vessels ever went, their agents often appeared on Inner Colony worlds such as Venezia, giving the Spartans a good starting point. In their pursuit of Banished agents, Scythe would eventually stumble upon the site of a brutal massacre at an old Covenant supply base on an unnamed moon. After investigating the area, the Spartans found that the Banished had been attacked by a notorious Sangheili extremist sect known as the True Vanguard, who had been responsible for numerous targeted assassinations in recent years. While the group had rarely come into contact with the UNSC and had largely waged war against its own kind, Scythe were ordered to track the Vanguard's activities. Within a few days they discovered a small flotilla orbiting a sparsely-populated human colony world, and discreetly moved to the surface. Once again, the Spartans were too late, and found the colonists brutally murdered. While it seemed like a random act of violence from the notoriously xenophobic True Vanguard at first, Scythe soon uncovered a small excavation site elsewhere on the planet. A brief survey of the site confirmed that it likely held Forerunner relics of some description. After reporting this back to command, the Spartans were ordered to retrieve whatever it was the Vanguard had found and eliminate their leadership.
Scythe's pursuit of the True Vanguard was a slow one, with weeks spent laboriously tracking down and eliminating small pockets of resistance. The team came close to killing the Vanguard's leader, Dorenn 'Tenon, twice, though he managed to escape their grasp at the cost of numerous subordinates Though they were initially confident that they had the terrorist organisation's remnants on the run and would wipe them out by the year's end, the Spartans were surprised to find that the Vanguard had amassed a group of small but well-armed ships a and hundreds of new devotees, mostly castoffs from Jul 'Mdama's disintegrating Covenant. In spite of these odds, Clayton still ordered another attack, ambushing one of their vessels as it broke off from the main group. Disabling the Sangheili vessel, Scythe fought their way aboard and managed to take prisoners. After some interrogation and the recovery of the ship's log, they found that Dorenn 'Tenon had acquired a long sought-after item and intended to use it to unleash the 'cleansing flame' of a recently-discovered 'Sacred Ring'. Before they could report back or continue their pursuit, Scythe's Prowler came under fire from several Vanguard attack ships, who had expected them to go after the lone vessel. Though they escaped the subsequent battle and limped back to a remote ONI supply base with the last of their ship's power. Stranded until repairs could be made, Fireteam Scythe remained silent for several weeks in case they had been followed. The team were out of contact with the rest of the UNSC until the arrival of the Heavens Asunder, an ONI prowler.
Clayton-G045 - Fireteam Leader. Clayton is the cool-headed heart of the team and the deciding voice in any internal conflict, commanding the absolute loyalty of his comrades.
Jiang-G007 - The CQC specialist and team scout, Jiang is a bold, playful Spartan with a history of petty theft and little regard for those outside of Scythe.
Ezra-G323 - Designated Marksman. Not one for unnecessary conversation. Especially violent towards Covenant.
Clarence-G022 - Demolitions expert. Easygoing and surprisingly devoid of personal issues for a SPARTAN-III.
Ianto-G200 - Irregular teammate; operates as ONI liason/SPARTAN-IV trainer while not on missions.