June, 2558. Spartan-III Team Osage has gone deep into the territory of Jul 'Mdama's Covenant to conduct a reconnaissance mission for ONI, assisted by the Sangheili spy Uchuo 'Kalam. After the mission goes sour, the Spartans are pursued by a relentless Zealot named Grono 'Yendam.
After both sides are shot down by an unknown weapon however, they must take drastic measures to survive and escape a mysterious Forerunner Line Installation. Despite Team Osage's training and the Covenant's control over Forerunner devices like the Prometheans, they must struggle to persist through the secrets hidden inside the Line Installation, or face the consequences and perish.
The Orion Arm shattered into chaos following the end of the Human-Covenant War in 2552. Humanity survived their genocide as the Covenant splintered into thousands of bits. No person or species wasted their time in defending those they swore to protect. Factions rose within the Sangheili which brought back an old government prior to joining the Covenant. Many former members of the former empire found the Swords of Sanghelios as the right government, while others revolted, refusing to let the past die.
Humanity crawled out of their hole with an ally in the Swords of Sanghelios and created the fourth SPARTAN program with a new ship named the UNSC Infinity at its helm. An organization known as the Office of Naval Intelligence played a dangerous game of political warfare while finding means to protect humanity from the next threat. While humanity searched for new homes or old ones being terraformed back into viable habitats, the lives lost throughout the twenty-seven year genocide were remembered in the minds of those who survived.
By the year of 2558, the UNSC returned to the Forerunner shield world of Requiem, where they hoped to uncover the scientific wonders of the artificial planet. Jul ‘Mdama, the leader of a prominent Covenant remnant, destroyed it after acquiring the Janus Key with Dr. Catherine Halsey assisting him. UNSC forces continued their pursuit of the Sangheili leader and human traitor, resulting in battles across the Outer Colonies, Glasslands, uncharted space, and the Joint Occupation Zone. It ultimately led to both sides looking for an advantage against each other to win and secure a future for their generations to come.
The Orion Arm had turned into a chess board, each side making their own calculative move to beat out their opponent. No man or woman was bound to play the game with a weak stomach, many were bound to die due to a single decision. Only the strongest could survive in the Orion Arm, and there was only one slot currently open: Jul 'Mdama's Covenant or Humanity.
Part One: Kalincton
Chapter One: Uchuo 'Kalam
June 7, 2558
Kalincton, Delta Siq System
"Uchuo, come hither! The Commander requires our services at once!"
Uchuo 'Kalam stopped in his tracks, craning his neck up from his post to make eye contact with the one who called him out. It is just Korlo. Uchuo thumbed a button on his datapad, watching as the lines of text plastered across its screen flashed out as he turned the device off. Quickly letting his hand fall to his hip, the saurian Sangheili let go of the datapad, allowing it to clamp onto his armor.
He stood up, rearing his head back as he raised his leg over a fallen tree masking his resting place from plain sight. A few meters away from him stood fellow Sangheili Korlo 'Vornam, arms clasped behind his back in a ready position. Korlo was from the lowly Storm class of Jul 'Mdama's Covenant Remnant, but that did not prevent him from gaining a high status. From what Uchuo could dissect in his time here, Korlo had built himself a reputation for his prowess in melee combat as well as his keen tracking abilities, comparable to that of a hound back on Sanghelios.
Korlo was not one to be trifled with, having fallen in with their regional Commander, who shared his love for the hunt. While Korlo was still young, Uchuo doubted that any of the others in their lance could best him in combat. Indeed, Uchuo didn't believe that even he could go toe to toe with the skilled hunter. It is a surprise he has not been inducted into the ranks of Jul 'Mdama's Warriors yet.
Uchuo tromped over to the Storm, nodding in recognition of him. "What does 'Iltuk require? A roll call, or another report?"
Korlo snorted in contempt, his nostrils flaring in tandem. Letting his arms fall to his side, the Sangheili raised a hand, motioning for Uchuo to follow. "The latter, Uchuo. The Field Master wishes to know of his attempts to map out the terrain surrounding the command post."
Uchuo tailed behind Korlo, trekking through the jungle foliage found in abundance on this world. The Covenant had only discovered the planet of Kalincton recently, but had quickly gained a foothold there after finding evidence of Forerunner artifacts. Many were still elated at having found more Forerunner artifacts, but not Uchuo. He had a job to do that had to go undiscovered.
As they continued on the path through the greenery, they passed by a large, shiny dome hidden among the bushes. Colored a chrome blue, it belonged to an Unggoy judging by its size. Uchuo took pause, glancing down at the object.
"Korlo, one of the Unggoy is here."
Up ahead, the hunter continued on his way, waving a hand dismissively. "Of course I knew, 'Kalam. Or do you underestimate my awareness?"
"Of course not..." Uchuo muttered, realizing that Korlo had most likely noticed it long before he did. Lowering himself until he was crouching, the Sangheili tapped a finger on the dome, nudging it a bit.
"Come along Unggoy, we must report to the Commander," he said, taking a softer tone than many of his kind would towards the squat creatures.
"Uchuo, that you?"
An Unggoy sprouted from the bush like an infant might hatch from an egg, cocking his head from side to side before meeting 'Kalam's gaze. He wore armor of the Unggoy Storm class, but had a recognizable scar on his cheek instantly giving his identity to the Sangheili.
"Ah, Tubto, there you are," Uchuo stated, extending his legs and standing back up as the Unggoy grabbed hold of a nearby tree to pull himself up.
"I was just... Uh... Looking out for wildlife! Yeah, wildlife!"
"Of course," Uchuo said as he strolled away. The Unggoy held his hands close as he hustled after the Sangheili, eager to return to their quarters. It is most likely that he was napping, but it is not as if we are following the Covenant's laws.
They both accelerated their pace, eventually catching up with Korlo. After several minutes of walking, several more Sangheili and Unggoy had joined their party, and before long, the group had finally returned to their quarters. A mid-sized Covenant structure built in the center of a sparse clearing, it had been their home for the last few weeks, as well as a staging ground for their Commander.
The remainder of the file was already pilfering around at the barracks, awaiting their return. One of the Sangheili rose up from the crate he was sitting on and nodded in Korlo's direction: A respectful acknowledgement of 'Vornam's prowess and unofficial top dog status. Korlo simply returned his gaze, not bothering with the pleasantries. Now at the base, Uchuo took up leaning his tall frame against a wall while Tubto kicked up dirt nearby, digging a short hole to nestle into.
"Korlo, why do you think we have been summoned once more so soon?" Asked one of the Sangheili.
The hunter returned his hands to behind his back, taking up a ready posture once more. "More news has been discovered on the Producer. We may need to expand because of this, and Field Master 'Yendam has been personally discussing matters with the Commander."
"Indeed he has, 'Vornam," came a gruff voice from within the barracks. A tall, burly Sangheili lumbered out of the structure, sweeping his eyes over the lance. Several chunks of human and Swords of Sanghelios equipment dotted his harness, hastily fused on as trophies.
The file immediately stood to attention, banging their right fists on their armored chests in a salute to the Commander. Uchuo begrudgingly did the same, narrowing his eyes in spite of his true loyalties. Before them stood their leader, as well as the Field Master's right-hand man, Rach 'Iltuk. He shared a similar love for hunting as Korlo, but rather than using it to further his skills, the Commander often hunted enemies for sport. Despite his short time on Kalincton, Uchuo had grew to despise Rach after hearing many stories of how he hunted both humans and Swords of Sanghelios for sport.
Uchuo was in fact not a Covenant soldier, but a spy. Having worked in the Swords of Sanghelios, he took up a generous offer with the human Office of Naval Intelligence. Having done many missions for them, Uchuo's newest assignment was to infiltrate the notorious Zog'fee Imperial Legion, which had been reported many times for its successes on the frontier. That had brought him here to Kalincton, where the Legion was currently holding up as they studied a Forerunner artifact Uchuo had only heard to be called the "Producer."
Tubto was a Swords of Sanghelios mole who had been tasked with accompanying Uchuo on this mission, and while the Unggoy did provide good company, he was a liability at times. While 'Kalam held no pity for the doubtlessly large numbers of humans that the Imperial Legion had killed, Uchuo's hatred for Rach and many others was justified by their manner in which they showed off the killing of their own brothers. His brothers.
Rach 'Iltuk raised a hand, causing the file to lower their fists. The Commander tromped around, looking each and every warrior in the eyes. Not a particularly strategic tactic, but one that undoubtedly intimidated all there and reminded them who was in charge. When he came around to Uchuo and Tubto, the Sangheili leered down at the Unggoy in the ground, kicking a spout of dirt up from the ground that collided with the Unggoy's face, causing him to gag.
"Get up, Unggoy," Rach growled, continuing on to Uchuo. Despite being that every time Rach did this, Uchuo felt like the Commander knew his secret, he managed to make it out with a calm face.
Once finished, the Commander took center stage, arms clasped behind his back in a manner similar to Korlo's. With the attention of all present, Rach said, "Field Master Grono 'Yendam and his Prometheans have made advancements with the Producer. They have discovered how to create a constant stream of new constructs, leaving the Legion available to be exponentially expanded."
A flurry of murmurs passed through the crowd, clearly excited at this turn of events. Uchuo, however, felt otherwise. Another report for ONI...
"Now tell me," said Rach, spreading out his hands and looking around the lance, "What news do you have to report for me?"
"Commander, we have scouted the entire way to the coast!" shouted a Sangheili in response.
"We map out whole Doto sector!" an Unggoy followed up.
Several more Covenant warriors roared out their reports, and Rach nodded in content. "You have done well, Zog'fee. Despite the Imperial Legion's strict policies, I believe this warrants extra downtime. Simply transmit your maps to me, and the rest of the day is yours."
The file cheered in glee, those in charge of maps filing into lines as the rest hurried off to partake in lounge activities or enjoy their free time. Tubto turned to Uchuo, looking up at him for guidance.
"It time for report?" the Unggoy whispered, gazing expectantly at the Sangheili for a response.
Uchuo nodded, motioning for Tubto not to follow in order to keep their secret, before lumbering off to a secluded area where he could sit, before snaking his hand down to his hip, clasping his datapad and wrenching it off of his armor. Holding it up, he turned the device back on, returning it to the scrolling dialogue. This was his true report.
The text lines were in fact his language translated into the human dialect of English, part of his report to ONI. It is time to finish the transmission. Uchuo clattered away on the datapad, his four right fingers quickly becoming a blur as he typed in his new information about the Producer, an update on the Zog'fee Imperial Legion, and his recommendations. ONI would soon send out a team of the so-called Spartans here in a matter of days or weeks, and 'Kalam would be acting as their operator, giving them information on what they needed.
As he finished the report, Uchuo translated the entire script from Sangheili to English, before jabbing the transmit button, sending the data to the Office of Naval Intelligence. With luck, in a few days at most, the Spartans would arrive.
Chapter Two: Going Downrange
June 8, 2558
UNSC Land in the Sun, Lambda Serpentis system
Two technicians specialized in MJOLNIR Powered Assault Armor from the Watershed Division of the Office of Naval Intelligence worked on a GEN2 suit to upload a new tracking software named the Artemis Tracking System. The TRACKER-class MJOLNIR GEN2 already had a state-of-the-art system to hunt down targets, it only became more logical to ensure the user had received constant upgrades to stay ahead of the enemy.
Once the technician set the helmet down and ran a diagnostics test to ensure the software was fully uploaded into the suit’s system with no problem, she turned to look at the user, Petty Officer First Class Samuel-B256.
“Good news, your armor has the new software in and operational. Want to do a test run to make sure everything is in line?”
She motioned for Samuel to follow her and the other technician down to a Brokkr Armor Mechanism, also known as an MJOLNIR assembly device, one of the better features ONI had developed since the end of the Human-Covenant War. A walk to S-Deck on an Autumn-class heavy cruiser had always been much shorter than one on the Infinity. Once inside, Samuel noticed two of the Gamma Company soldiers from Team Osage coming out of simulation training to keep their skills up during the time in-between missions.
Once seeing the technician motion him forward, Samuel stepped forward to get his armor on before Lieutenant Oriana-A058 walked in to see Samuel along with two of the members from Osage getting their armor off.
“I need you three in the mission briefing room. Got another one for us.” Her eyes darted across the room to see her troops acknowledge the order. “See you in three.” Her quick exit made Samuel only have to gather the troops and head up to the room.
Both the technicians looked at Samuel and quickly got the armor off, only leaving him in the tech suit, ONI battle dress uniform pants and the assaulter boots he took off before heading onto the device. Petty Officer Second Class Isidora-G159 and Darrick-G274 waiedt for Samuel to get ready before following him to the elevator to take down to the room.
“How were the simulations?” Samuel glanced at Isidora before looking back at the front of the elevator doors.
She gave a quick glance at Darrick then focused on the back of Samuel’s head. “It was fine. Worked on some sniping tactics and tracking missions. What were you in the deck for?”
“Software upgrade. Replaces the VISR I used to have with an overhauled version that gives us a better advantage in the field.” The door opened and the two fell in line behind him.
“What kind of things can you detect now?” Darrick’s interest had piqued due to the upgrades that Samuel continued to get throughout his career. “I could use an upgrade to mine.”
Darrick had found out Samuel received a lot of his upgrades due to being close with a Commander within the Asymmetrical Action Group. Connections mattered in getting top equipment, even worked for their Winter-class Prowler.
“Highlights enemies and ammunition, in-depth information about nearby artifacts and technological equipment, hacking from Human to Forerunner tech, and better tracking software.” The quick gloss-over of the software already had Darrick wanting one better than a new scope for his sniper rifle.
Samuel glanced at Darrick before getting authorization to enter the briefing room. “I’ll hook you up after this.” Only a smile from Darrick affirmed Samuel he was making the right decision before opening the door.
Oriana stood around a holo table with Petty Officer Second Class Leviticus-G030 nearby with Juno-G196 and Noble-G301, the two new Gammas became attaches for the upcoming unit. Samuel didn’t waste the time to learn about the upcoming mission, less time in the room meant more time to get downrange. A quick grab of a tablet let him survey the mission without having Oriana draw it out.
“The Group has come down with a mission working with the Activity and their good friends in the X-MEG. The planet known as Kalincton has a group looking for something known as the Producer. Forerunner, so it only makes things more serious on the radar.” Oriana looked around the room while seeing the members of Osage take in the information. “Juno and Noble are our mission support for this, I think you Gammas are from the same team so it’s a reunion for you. You all been downrange together, so keep it tight and clean. We’re all looking for the clean and quick mission.” The quick nods from the five meant they were squared away for their tasks ahead. “Intel from the inside already paints a good picture before we get there, not expecting any surprises. We’re taking the Condor, Into Darkness is still getting upgrades.”
Samuel glanced at Oriana, then let out a quiet breath, intel from the inside. Only meant ONI had turned someone on the inside to work for them. Still, aliens weren’t meant to be fully trusted, HUMINT proved to be an extremely dangerous task for those on the inside. Some previous moles turned triple agents, ones that Samuel had been dispatched to relieve for protecting the UNSC. Seven SPARTANs made him think about the last time he worked with a team as large, only going back to his Category-2 days in the later years of the Human-Covenant War.
Oriana noted no one had anything else to what she briefed them on; everyone knew the drill by the end of the day. “We got executive authority. Callsign's name is Wolf. Juno is Wolf-6 and Noble is Wolf-7. Rest of you know your numbers.” With one final sweep of the room, Oriana concluded the briefing. “Let’s go to work. Shuttle in five.”
The group concluded their briefing, Samuel stuck behind as the Gammas left to get their armor on. Oriana noticed Samuel took his face out of the datapad and analyzed the holo table with the copious amount of intelligence that proved to information overflow from the Activity. Folding her arms, Oriana focused on Samuel and the stoic look she got back from him.
“Something’s not right?” She tilted her head to the side before bringing it back to a level position. “Intel from inside, two new people, no Prowler, and we got seven.” Her slow walk over left Samuel to take a breath and soak in the entire mission. “No question, Petty Officer First Class?”
Samuel met her eyes with one of his famous cold stares. “Looking a little bit like our Red days.” His quick breath brought in a realistic analysis of the situation; one Oriana respected as a Team Commander. “We don’t know the cohesion of the two new Gammas, Headhunter rotation finished so that can cause issues. No Prowler means no quick evac and evasion. I’ve hunted my fair share of inside intel; we should anticipate a trap. All-in-all looks like another mission.” Samuel placed his tablet on the table and walked with Oriana to the elevator. “I’ll run Wolf Beta with Darrick and Levi; you’ll want Izzie up for breaching.” The no response from Oriana meant he was good with the decision made. “See you at the Condor.”
Reaching S-Deck, Samuel saw the team getting their equipment ready and heading to the Pelican. “See you at the Pelican mom!” Levi chirped at Oriana before heading down to the hangar bay.
It reminded her to put him in timeout by the end of the mission. Oriana wondered if she really made the right decision coming back: the Gammas pushed buttons faster than her husband did.
Stepping to an assembly device, she got her Mark VII armor secured on and grabbed an M395 DMR with an M6H2 Gunfighter sidearm. Samuel followed close behind with his TRACKER-class GEN2 with an MA2B that had a variety of attachments, an M6H2 Gunfighter sidearm, and a tomahawk on his back as they stepped onto the elevator.
“Tell you what, when this is all over, I’ll come down to meet your husband,” Oriana noted the voice on TEAMCOM along with his vitals on her HUD. “Married to a SPARTAN, you going to teach your kids about your childhood?” Samuel felt the glare through his visor that he was getting from her.
By the time the elevator door opened to the hangar, Oriana saw him trying to get away from a fist hitting him in the back of the head. “I’m not as bad as you and Vilda, Sammie.” Her smug smile was able to be seen from the next system behind that helmet. “I’m not in love with an ONI officer who’s happily married to a faithful woman.” Samuel only grumbled at the reply, he hated how easily Oriana got under his skin by mentioning his relationship with Vilda.
Levi claimed co-pilot while Izzie and Darrick caught up with Juno and Noble about Osage and the group of misfits under the Group.
“Oriana is the commander, Alpha Company, former Cat-2 leader of Red Team. She’s the mom of the team.” The two new SPARTANs took mental notes from their former team leader. “Sam is troop chief, Beta Company, former Headhunter, Cat-2 operator of Red Team and LONEWOLF operative. Intel geek and has a crush on an ONI officer. Dad of the team.”
Samuel followed behind Oriana and quickly made his way to the pilot seat to get away from Oriana’s teasing. The team was able to get information on each other’s vitals and link into TEAMCOM for a radio check prior to their departure to Kalincton. Following a successful radio check and BIOS reading, Oriana called for Samuel to launch the Pelican.
Oriana sat at the end of the Pelican bay after slotting her weapon into a rack. “Izzie, Juno, and Noble, you’re with me on Wolf Alpha. Samuel has Levi and Darrick on Wolf Beta. Beta is on recon; Alpha is on assault.” Six green winks on her HUD meant everyone was all good with the decision.
By the time the Pelican punched into slipspace towards Kalincton, Samuel continued to monitor systems while searching for ideas to execute on the surface of the planet they were en-route to.
“So you have a crush on an ONI officer Sam? Need some advice?” Juno was bound to fit in with the team given how fast she pushed one of Samuel’s buttons. “I’m good with advice.”
Samuel grumbled to himself, wondering who told Juno about the topic. He decided to leave it and focus on the mission.
Chapter Three: Asset Cooperation
June 10, 2558
Kalincton, Delta Siq System
Uchuo 'Kalam sat once more within his crevice, mandibles twitching anxiously as he awaited the signal that would tell him of the Spartan's arrival. For the past few days, the lance had been free of their chores, and would be for several more to come. This was the perfect window for the Sangheili spy to conduct his operation with the ONI operators. Provided he was undisturbed in this hiding spot, the mission would most likely go smoothly. If anything were to impede their goal, it would most assuredly be the Spartans, or an outside force.
I would not put it past humans to make a single blunder that would bring ruin to our success. Despite working for them, Uchuo still retained a slight annoyance at the humans' tendencies to let simple missions go wrong in the slightest bit by revealing themselves. And being discreet was the key to this mission's completion.
Hearing a soft crunch in the leaves, Uchuo snapped his head up to see Tubto the scarred Unggoy sifting through the foliage towards him. Sighing, Uchuo closed his eyes for a moment before rising to face the diminutive creature. Once Tubto had reached him, Uchuo stared down at the Unggoy.
"What are you doing here, Tubto? I thought I told you to leave me to handle the mission."
Tubto's eyes glanced to the side, while the Unggoy chuckled nervously. Kicking at a fern near his feet, he lowered his gaze. "Me thought you might just want to know about schedule change."
At first annoyed by the Unggoy's breaching of code, Uchuo was now concerned. Concern filled his eyes as he grabbed Tubto by the chin and yanked his face up to meet his own. "What schedule change?"
Taken aback by the sudden action, Tubto suppressed a yelp from being released, causing him to cough out mucus and a variety of small wildlife from his cavernous mouth. Still shivering in fear at his cohort's swiftness, Tubto lifted up a pudgy finger to speak his words.
"C-commander say only one cycle left for rest! He say Field Master want progress quickly, now!"
This is unprecedented! If only I would have known of this sooner! Uchuo released his hold on Tubto, allowing the Unggoy to collapse to the ground in a frenzy. Contemplating his options, Uchuo looked down at his datapad. The message had already been sent, so there was no going back now. Besides, how long would a simple scouting mission really take? As long as the Spartans arrived within the next few hours, they could complete their objective and be gone long before the Covenant ever noticed.
Besides, if the humans undoubtedly take one of their stealth ships, the Liches above will never be able to track them without support, or a human blunder. Satisfied that things were now under control, the Sangheili knelt down by his subordinate, who still lay in the soft, moist grass. Tapping the Unggoy's leathery shoulder, Uchuo twisted his head to the side to get a better look at Tubto.
"I apologize for my outburst Tubto, it was unprecedented. I will remain here to handle the mission, but I need you to return to the barracks."
Tubto slowly pulled his face out of the ground, grumbling. Begrudgingly meeting Uchuo's gaze once more, he grimaced his small but impressive set of teeth like newly-sharpened blades.
"I forgive you this once, Uchuo. No more!"
With that, the Unggoy hopped to his feet with surprising speed considering his previous attitude, and waddled away without another word. Watching him leave with a sense of confusion, Uchuo shook his head in exasperation before stepping over the fallen tree barring his makeshift office from the outside world. Settling in a comfortable position, Uchuo returned to scouring the datapad for a signal.
Those Spartans had better come soon, lest this entire operation comes to shambles.
"Samuel, give me a sitrep on our status to the Delta Siq System." Oriana opened the cockpit's door to see Samuel and Darrick dropping the Pelican out of slipspace. "Looks like we're on time then."
She watched as Samuel thumbed a few buttons before he turned to look at her; two days of piloting tended to take a toll on some. In the breaks, he had reviewed the information given and the plans created in the back by the rest of Osage. Being the intelligence specialist, he had to create his own mission with Wolf Beta on the location given.
Samuel glanced at her before looking back out into the void of space. "We're a little late but should be good. Still a two to three day op?" He saw a nod from her and took note that it was still a go. "Let's make it two, being this deep isn't so pleasant. Remember-"
"I know, no backup. Just us." She had grown tired of his reminders, but still noted the concern. "We'll be fine. Nothing different."
Samuel took the sentence as a means to stay quiet and focus on his tasks. Oriana remained the ground commander of the mission whether he liked it or not. Oriana left Samuel and Darrick to handle finding a hiding spot while she worked on establishing a communication link with the asset.
Back in the bay, she noticed that Izzie and Juno were playing a card game as Levi and Noble slept on the benches. Tablets, a holotable disk, and supplies were scattered across the area in preparation for the mission bound to come. Sitting near the cockpit door, Oriana began finalizing her plan that involved the full mission and necessary tasks needed to bring everyone home.
Two days remained a long time that she hadn't heard from the asset, then again, assets needed to keep themselves protected to not be captured. It was going to be the first time Oriana worked with a Sangheili spy, the same species that claimed honor and hunted civilians. Her mind pushed that aside; the times had changed.
"We're secure and ready for transmission, whenever you're ready," she heard from Samuel in a private channel.
"Make it brief, I don't want a fleet on us." A green wink on his HUD told Samuel that Oriana was loud and clear on his request.
Samuel looked back out at the asteroid he parked the shuttle on and stretched his legs. Darrick let out a loud groan as he stretched, then sighed once he slumped back into his seat. Both of them knew the dangers of what was bound to happen, but only Oriana decided if they were to go through with it or not.
Oriana continued to weigh in on the decision of contacting: the benefits and drawbacks. Clayton entered her mind, a voice that told her she knew the right decision after following her gut. Contact the Sangheili and possibly lead the team into a trap, contact and play it slow, no contact and continue on, or abort. All decisions led to consequences, she had to pick which consequence she was willing to live with for the rest of her life.
Once making her mind up, she switched to TEAMCOM. "I'm going to contact our asset and get a situation report. Once I get that, we'll go forward with our plan or alter based on the situation we receive."
The green winks from the team indicated that they were on board. "If you got questions, now is your time."
She looked around the bay before looking at the door: silence was the only response. "Very well then. Let's contact 'em."
Izzie and Juno set their cards down and looked at Oriana while Noble and Levi went through their rifle checks to ensure they were ready for usage in the field. Oriana heard Samuel working on a link to whoever was going to answer on the other side; she trusted his ability to get the right person on the other side.
"Sam, we good?" She saw the green wink from him. "Thanks."
Static filled her comm channel first, and was quickly cleaned up by Samuel. Once the silent became the norm and no channel breaking, Oriana decided to take the first step.
"Followers of the Faith."
Uchuo perked his head up as he heard the voice ring through the datapad. The Spartans have come. Gathering himself, he responded with the answer to the Spartan's words.
"Demons from Hell."
The voice of a Sangheili made Oriana clench her teeth. Hearing 'Demon from Hell' was good, she knew she had reached the right Sangheili. She was able to notice that Samuel's heartrate had elevated and put things into perspective.
"This is Wolf-One, we're standing by for the most up-to-date report on the Delta-Siq System-" She quickly glanced around the cabin while the others focused on her. "-Along with anything else you think we ought to know about the system."
"I am Uchuo 'Kalam. You have little more than a day to scout the system. Ignore the rest of the celestial bodies; the only planet of interest is Kalincton. Do you copy?"
Oriana was not pleased to hear about the situation; a little more than a day. Three days were planned for this system, and now the asset was telling her a far different timeline. She already knew that Samuel was working hard to catalog the name in case Osage needed to take care of any loose ends. Kalincton showed up in her pre-mission brief, climate depended on where they dropped in and so forth. This started to turn from a simple to far more complicated mission.
"I read you loud and clear, Uchuo." She glanced at Samuel, who was standing in the door, before continuing on. "We didn't receive much in your initial reports, can you clarify the main target of interest and general location?" Samuel disappeared back into the cockpit as she finished her last thought. "Once we get that, we'll take it from there."
"You are to scout the perimeter of the enemy lines. I can guide you on where those are. Unfortunately, the main item of interest is under heavy guard in the center of Covenant territory. A Forerunner device that goes by the name of the Producer. You must access databanks at a patrol camp that I cannot get to in order to learn more about this artifact. The Covenant here seem to be actively using it."
"Lovely," Oriana muttered under her breath, so he couldn't hear. "Copy that Uchuo, we'll make our way to Kalincton and get coordinates from you when we're closer. Wolf-One out." She disconnected from the channel in a quick fashion.
She walked into the cockpit to see Samuel preparing to leave and head towards the planet. "Do not move this ship."
He looked up at her while she turned to Darrick. "Give us a minute?"
Darrick nodded and headed out of the cockpit; 'mom' and 'dad' were going to fight about the mission. Oriana leaned against a panel as Samuel took his helmet off. She was able to see that Samuel was not grateful with the one handling the information. Not one person of Osage was either. She needed a clear assessment from Samuel and what their options were.
"Give me your opinion." She folded her arms after setting her helmet down next to his. "I don't like it. Not one bit."
"Patrolling the perimeter?" Samuel let out a light laugh. "We're not patrolling the perimeter, that camp is the best bet. He knows that location and will probably give it to us or we locate it." He turned to look back out the windows. "Someone isn't coming home, three days turned into one and a half. Seems rushed to me, this is looking more like a trap."
Samuel glanced at her before down at his feet while rubbing a specific piece of his armor. "Databanks won't be a problem, just need the time."
Oriana took note of Samuel's observations, then settled into the cockpit to be the co-pilot on the arrival to Kalincton. "Take us in."
Samuel powered up the Pelican and prepared his path towards the planet.
"Spartans, take heed of the environment. The area that the Covenant has set up their command post in is a dense jungle, full of thick foliage and creatures that tend to prey on the unwary. Once you make it past those trials, you will have to evade the Covenant forces at all costs. These troops are not like the others under Jul 'Mdama."
Oriana looked around the jungle after hearing the information from the asset. The sun remained a small factor as the shade kept the temperature low. She watched Noble wedge his knife free from an animal that had tried to attack them minutes ago. Darrick sat on the top of the Pelican looking for any enemy combatants as Samuel continued to map the route to the patrol camp. The rest of Osage spent their time forming a perimeter.
"Samuel, keep an eye out for the wildlife." She saw the green wink from him. "Our asset says we have trials."
"I'm starting to not like this asset," Sam stated.
She couldn't agree more. "Got our path. Ready?"
Samuel saw the green winks from the team and Oriana followed up next to him. With a nudge of her elbow into his left shoulder, Samuel started the patrol towards the camp he mapped out with scans done by the Pelican. As much as he wanted to trust the asset, he and Osage much preferred their own intel.
It didn't take long for Samuel to get an indication for the enemies. His tracking system picked up thirteen enemies; three Sangheili and ten Unggoy. He shook his head from side to side and Osage prepared for the trouble ahead. Oriana gave her head a tight jerk and Osage moved out with their eyes peeled. The red dots on their HUD grew closer and the team slowly came to a stop as Oriana raised her fist to freeze.
"Two Storms, One Commander." Samuel checked their weapons first to see their ammunition and loadout. "Scout patrol loadout. A good deal of ammunition, a few blue balls." His eyes shifted to the Unggoy and his tracking system analyzed. "Scout patrol loadout as well." Green lights winked on his HUD as he turned to Oriana. "What do you want to do?"
"Let's see what they do, he said they're not like Jul's troops." Oriana kept her rifle trained on one of the Unggoy. "Let them pass. They don't know we're here. Let's keep it that way."
She got acknowledging green winks from Osage and held position as the patrol moved on with their intended route.
Uchuo's voice returned on the COM. "Have you encountered any patrols yet?"
Oriana glanced at the footprints before continuing. "Yes, we've encountered a patrol. Two Storms, One Commander. Ten Unggoy. Scout loadout. You sure they're not Jul's troops?"
She saw Darrick and Levi motioning something ahead, Samuel kept his eyes peeled while she waited for the asset to return her message.
"Those looked like Jul's troops." Levi looked at Darrick before returning his eyes to the right side of the forest. "Same rank, armor, and face."
"Yeah well, we're supposed to think they're not." Darrick remembered keeping his scope trained on that Commander. "A target is a target to me. Just tell me when I need to stack em."
Oriana saw her HUD indicate the asset was waiting in her COM channel and flipped to it to hear Uchuo's information.
"Those troops are from the Zog'fee Imperial Legion. They are all well-trained veterans of the Covenant empire. If you attack any patrols, you must have the element of surprise. They will inflict damage, and most of all alert the rest of the legion. Their Field Master has outfitted all troops here with a network to relay distress signals. If they have the chance to call for help, you will have one of the most formidable legions and its Field Master bearing down on your back."
"Copy that, what do you have on this Field Master?"
"His name is Grono 'Yendam. Considered a tier three target by the Office of Naval Intelligence. He was a pirate captain after the Great War ended until 2556. He was supposedly killed by Spartan Benjamin Nishurd, but resurfaced a year later under Jul 'Mdama. He killed two Spartans during the Requiem Campaign and injured many more. He currently serves as a Zealot and is one of 'Mdama's most skilled commanders. He is not one to be trifled with."
"Copy that, Wolf-One out."
Oriana gathered Osage for a minute to brief the team on their high-value target. A tier three target, seemed a little low for them. She knew Samuel had heard the report on the target, she found him to be the best tracker among her team. As much as the asset described the HVT, she still found him to be another target to take care of.
"Listen up O, we're up against a legion that has relay distress signals and will bring a lot of reinforcements if we don't pick our shots right. Grono 'Yendam is our HVT, Field Master and a Zealot." She looked at her team before going further. "Pick your shots, take your time, communicate with each other to take down multiple targets. Silencers on, keep talk to a min, and let's get home in one piece."
Her eyes turned towards Samuel as he took a breath. "Know anything about this Sangheili?"
"I'm more concerned how that Sangheili knows a SPARTAN's full name. Something doesn't look right here." He glanced back at the patrol camp before looking back at Oriana. "This isn't our job. We don't hunt tier three, what are we doing here? We spent the entire Requiem Campaign hunting Silent Blade and now we're working with this asset and going after tier three?"
Oriana felt the uneasiness that Samuel had, something didn't line up. In her mind, she knew she had a mission to complete, but nothing seemed to make sense from ONI's end. Delta-6 and Spartan Ops handled the tier three and below since Beta-5 didn't give out the twos and ones often. Samuel raised a fair point about the confusing mission deployment.
"We get to that patrol camp, do what we need to do. Then get out." She saw a nod of approval.
"We're not taking on an entire Legion with these relay distress signals." Samuel gave her a yellow wink on the HUD.
"We still have a Forerunner artifact to get and I think we know of a way to get it without having an entire legion come crashing down on us. Any questions?"
Juno rose her hand a little. "We shouldn't cut the head off the snake so fast, but, we should find a way to take out this HVT."
Oriana looked at Samuel as he adjusted his seat. "We'll have Darrick do a long-range kill to alert the parties, then have him engage the HVT."
He saw Darrick drag his finger across his visor to indicate a smile. "We've done it before, we'll be sure to do it again."
"What do we do about the remaining patrols we have? We can cover them up with wildlife deaths." Everyone looked at Noble as he continued to draw on his thoughts.
"Asset said the wildlife is a burden, so we can use the natural predators as a means to cover our approach." His mind continued to think. "Those relay distress signals might be neglected because of the wildlife deaths, so that can give us some wiggle room."
Osage voted on the idea and agreed, they needed to get their guns ready for combat. Taking out a patrol to get their bearings seemed to be a good decision. Oriana thought of getting Samuel's hands on one of those signals to try and cause chaos and slip right into the backdoor. Thing started looking better as they continued to discuss.
"Any other questions?" She saw the green winks to indicate they were ready to move out. "Lead us out Samuel."
He took point as the team continued their way towards the patrol camp.
Chapter Four: The Field Master
June 10, 2558
Kalincton, Delta Siq System
Commander Rach 'Iltuk leaped back to avoid a thrust from his opponent's blade, eyes widened at the near miss. Bringing up his own blade of steel, 'Iltuk drove forward, his eyes now set with determination.
"I try my best, Field Master," he responded as he followed through with the action.
The opponent in question stepped to the side, easily avoiding Rach's normally on-target attack. Adorned in an emerald-green rendition of the rare Hesduron Zealot harness worn by the highest-ranking members of Jul 'Mdama's Covenant, the opponent slid under Rach's sword as he swung it to the side, hoping to catch the Field Master quickly.
"You certainly try," the Field Master jabbed, slickly rearing up to his full frame. Taller than even Rach, his pronounced muscles bulged beneath the jumpsuit that hid them, clenching as the Zealot swung up his blade of sharpened metal with an underhand motion, connecting head-on with Rach's own weapon. Knocked off balance, the Commander stumbled back, barely escaping another swipe.
The Field Master advanced forward with an air of confidence, clearly the duelist in control. Raising his arm in preparation, Rach flung forward in an anticipated move to parry the Field Master's blade. His ambitions went unrewarded as his superior flicked their own blade out of the way, lunging at him from the side. The Field Master, Grono 'Yendam, chuckled.
Surely Rach has more than this to offer? The Commander did indeed have more up his sleeve. Rach twisted his blade on its flat side, shoving it between Grono's two prongs on his blade. With his weapon now caught between a rock and a hard place, Grono experienced a moment of surprise, before he slid back into his combat mindset. Realizing that if he tried to move his blade out of the grip, Rach could just twist it out of his hand.
Instead, Grono would simply opt for a different approach. Curling up his free hand into a fist, the Field Master threw a punch towards his Commander. The ploy worked, and Rach shifted to the side, loosening his grip on Grono's blade. In control once more, 'Yendam snapped his hand upwards, flinging Rach's sword out of his hand. Ignoring the spiraling metal weapon in the air, Grono held his blade at Rach's throat.
"Do you yield?"
Rach's look of surprise drained away from his face as he understood what had happened. Nodding, he concurred. "I yield."
Grono drew back his blade, picking up Rach's own and handing it to the Commander by the handle. Rach snatched it from his hand and stepped backwards. Grono turned his attention to the group of Sangheili Warriors nearby and tossed his steel sword towards the nearest one, barely giving him time to catch it.
"Put the training weapons back."
The Warrior fumbled with the blade as it fell to the ground, letting out a snort of anguish from his nostrils as he bent down to pick it up. Another Sangheili nodded, and barked out the order to his two compatriots.
Rach muttered and shot a glare at Grono's left hand. "You clearly enjoy having that prosthetic."
Grono nodded nonchalantly. While having a prosthetic left hand was cumbersome at times, it was quite the advantage when paired with his fighting style. His right hand used the blade, and 'Yendam had the tendency to pull surprise melee attacks on his enemies in battle. The enhanced force of his prosthetic made his punches even stronger, so they were guaranteed to deal satisfactory blows.
"It assists me well. But make sure you adapt. A Demon could put just as much, if not more strength into their fist than I could mine."
Rach bowed his head towards Grono, holding out his hand. In his palm was a datachip, pulsing with the aura of a luminous moon.
"Field Master, my file's mapping successes."
Outstretching his hand, 'Yendam plucked the datachip, turning it over to bask in its glow. "you certainly seem to be doing well with your file. Are you too lenient towards them?"
The Commander chuckled, although with a devilish tone to it. "I only take up pleasantries with you, my lord. My file and any others under me cannot secure my trust like you have. I know you wouldn't abandon our cause like some of the lower classmen would."
Grono stepped forward, putting a hand on his subordinate's shoulder. "I would never abandon Jul 'Mdama's cause, and I expect you not to as well."
Grono's hand retreated, and the Field Master banged his right fist against his chest. 'Iltuk returned the gesture.
"I must find a transport to deliver myself back to my camp as soon as possible. We've gone over our time limit for sparring today."
Grono nodded as Rach promptly took off. With his training session now over, Grono exited the ring he had sparred his Commander in, trotting over to a balcony in the towering chamber.
Placing his hands on the cold metal bars at the edge of the terrace, he looked down on the lances of Sangheili below, partaking in their own routines. These several dozen soldiers were but a fraction of the forces on site, which in turn made up only a segment of the Zog'fee Imperial Legion, one of the most notorious units in Jul 'Mdama's Covenant. Consisting of veterans from the Human-Covenant War, they had been gifted to Grono after he had gained the promotion of Zealot.
Having been without a Field Master for several dozen cycles by then, many in the legion welcomed Grono's acquisition of the army. Now he stood here, at the forefront of an excavation on the planet of Kalincton to possibly unlock the secrets of a device uncovered in the jungle swath. The Producer.
While not much had been deciphered as of yet, a recent breakthrough by his technicians had provided them with a much-needed ability - to manufacture Promethean forces at will. This had proved undeniably useful, as Grono had already doubled the Promethean stockpiles in the legion.
More would undoubtedly be discovered soon, but business had to be taken care of now. Releasing his grip on the railings, the Field Master turned around and stomped back into the ring. Tapping a transponder on his left wrist, it didn't take long for his message to get through.
Two massive blue forms simultaneously materialized on each side of the Field Master, unfolding themselves as the blue light died down, revealing the hulking, metallic carapaces of two Promethean Knight Commanders. These were Grono's two top Promethean enforcers, capable of translating any speech and more self-aware than the rest of the Prometheans.
In fact, these Prometheans considered themselves brothers, for whatever reason. One stood much taller than the other, but that was the only thing setting them apart. The shorter Knight, Chravezin, stepped forward, inclining his head.
"Commandos," Grono responded in kind.
The taller machine, Zevezin, glowered at the Field Master, taking a step to the side. "Why have you summoned us, Field Master?"
"For an update on the Producer and a new assignment," 'Yendam answered.
"Of course, your excellency," said Chravezin in a sly voice, his two smaller arms clasping together as he tilted his head in an way that seemed too organic for comfort.
"We have yet to make any more major breakthroughs, but the technician teams are still making smooth progress with the production of Promethean forces. The Producer's Shrine remains profitable."
"Now," Zevezin inquired, "What is our new assignment?"
Grono answered, "Lich preparation."
Chravezin reared his head back in surprise while Zevezin let off a low growl. The former's smaller set of arms noticeably clenched into fists, but the Knight Commando kept his cool. "No mean to offend, your excellency, but do you not think that this task is perhaps a tad bit below our standards?"
"Perhaps," Grono retorted, "But I need supervisors that aren't Sangheili. Many Prometheans are being used to load cargo onto one of my Liches to set up another base camp, not too far from Commander 'Iltuk's. I fear they will be unruly when they outnumber their organic counterparts by so much. Therefore, I need you to keep them in line."
Zevezin's ominous growl died down a bit, but not entirely. Chravezin loosened his fists, and slowly nodded. "Very well then, Field Master. Your will is ours to carry out."
Turning to his brother in arms, Chravezin raised his head. "Come, brother, we must fulfill our duties."
Zevezin made no response, instead folding up his body as he and his brother were both bathed in blue light. A sudden flash blinded Grono for a split-second, and then they were gone. Huffing, 'Yendam whipped around and returned to his place at the balcony, content to observe his men train. Soon, the Producer's secrets shall be unlocked. Soon.
Chapter Five: Patrol Camp
June 11, 2558
Kalincton, Delta Siq System
“Got two targets, look like they’re screwing around.” Darrick kept the scope of his sniper rifle trained on one target as Samuel and Levi moved into position. “No one around, you’re good to dance.”
The two Sangheili Storms that were on patrol did not know who was coming after them. Word that patrols disappearing to wildlife made them worry more about the natural predators rather than the SPARTANs. Both Samuel and Levi moved at a pace to close the distance and eliminate the threat; they had been perfect on the previous patrols.
Oriana put herself into Samuel’s channel with Levi. “You know the drill. Get evil, drop em.”
The two knew what they needed to do; Samuel held up two fingers and made a sideways cut. Levi moved in on the left as Samuel snuck up on the right. The two drew melee weapons and attacked the two unsuspecting Sangheili. Levi shoved his knife into the Sangheili’s throat and put two rounds through the skull as Samuel swung his tomahawk through the lower mouth and into the brain. Finishing off with two bullets to the head, Samuel watched as the body fell limp and collapsed to the ground.
Levi sent out the all-clear and Osage moved up to pull the Sangheili bodies away as Darrick and Juno threw the four bullets in a random direction.
“I love that tomahawk, can your girlfriend get me one?” Levi tilted his head and felt Samuel glare at him.
Samuel locked his tomahawk back into place. “How about I leave you behind.”
Oriana clicked the COM channel, a polite way to tell the two SPARTANs to shut up. Samuel acknowledged the click and continued to lead the team towards the patrol camp. Juno picked up a transmitter for Samuel to pick with once they got into range of the patrol camp, she still didn’t have the faintest clue on what he planned to do with it.
Activity picked up on the HUD sensor first, Samuel watched as the red dots grew closer to him. Oriana watched as he slowed down the pace of the team; she also noticed the activity picking up.
“O, up front.” Oriana moved up to the front as Samuel continued to scan. “Cover us.”
Osage broke into a defensive perimeter as Samuel and Oriana moved forward, they broke through the tree line and saw the patrol camp. Both SPARTANs took in their surroundings and gathered locations to see where they were able to gather more intelligence.
Oriana marked one ridge that Samuel noted, “Put Darrick up there. He’ll have a good line of sight.” She looked over at another location. “Juno and Noble can sit over there to assist with your infil and provide QRF.” She glanced at one more spot. “That can serve as the main element with Izzie, Levi and I.” Turning to Samuel, she watched as he continued to analyze the situation.
“Darrick’s spot is a trap; they made it that way. We’ll shift a little to the right, so it’s more unexpected. We should put Juno and Noble close to Darrick; that way, we have three per element to assist in case things go sideways.” He looked at the base and then around again. “I got my entrance planned; we should wait till dark. That’ll give us the best advantage to remain unknown. Let’s move up Osage into position.”
Oriana rarely knew how Samuel planned to infiltrate such a location; he never shared his secrets. The rest of Osage moved up to Oriana’s position, setting their eyes on the patrol base for the first time. It had been a long time coming since they been theorizing their ways of how to hit it, even though the leaders had their own.
Both Samuel and Oriana turned back to Osage, looking to see that everyone was accounted for. “Any of you got ideas?” Oriana regretted the statement as five voices filled her helmet on ideas. “Ok, one at a time. Darrick.”
Darrick lit up two locations that he found as prime locations to provide overwatch; both locations were ones that neither Samuel or Oriana noticed at first. “I can solo from option A better, letting me move around better.” He turned his head to option b, “Here, I can sit with a team and assist as QRF. Not so much mobility, but it gets the job done.”
Samuel turned towards Juno and Noble. “What about you two?”
“We can help with infil and extract. Will take some time to get a plan on how to go in unless you have one.” Juno glanced at Noble, then back Samuel. “You got anything?” Noble looked out at the patrol camp. “Three people can infil. We can provide some distractions while you move around if you want that. We can assist with support for QRF as well.”
Oriana watched Samuel decide how to change his plan if he was going to take the assistance from Juno and Noble. “Darrick, you’re going to handle Gamma Cell with Noble and Juno. Oriana has Alpha Cell with Levi and Izzie. I’ll deal with the infil and get what we need, should be a quick in-and-out.” The green winks gave Samuel the go-ahead. “See you in a few.”
Darrick moved out with Juno and Noble towards the location he picked out, the other two were going to act as the QRF. Oriana stayed put with Izzie and Levi as she watched Samuel move towards the patrol camp, she didn’t like that he wanted to do it alone. His Headhunter roots never left him, Oriana only watched as he molded himself to the situation at hand.
“Gamma set,” Oriana responded with a green wink and waited for Samuel.
He continued to move along the brush line towards the patrol camp; his idea revolved around walking through the front door with an active camouflage cloak. He needed to inform Juno to use the Covenant communication equipment as a means to divert forces, so he had a better chance.
Getting right to the edge of the brush line, Samuel looked at the entrance of the camp and gave himself a scan of who was inside. Nighttime gave him the much-needed advantage, and he had the exact route planned.
“Execute on your go.”
Samuel winked a green light and prepared himself to move right into the enemy’s base. The cloak activated, and he stepped out into the open road to avoid easier detection, coming close to the two Sangheili that guarded the front entrance.
“Juno, hotwire that device and move to a different location.” He saw the green wink from her and waited.
He took note that Juno performed a successful tap since the two guards at the front of the camp moved away from their post. Samuel slipped into the camp and deactivated his cloak to save power; he did another scan to get the full picture of the area. A standard patrol camp detachment, nothing too special.
Moving through the shadows, Samuel watched as Sangheili and Unggoy walked within touching distance of him. He was so close to the area, but still had a way to go before making it in. The only bad time came when downloading since it had the chance of being detected. However, no one spoke the Sangheili language, so they had to rely on Uchuo for a proper translation. Even Oriana didn’t know if he spoke the right dialect for translation.
“Hold,” Darrick muttered into Samuel’s COM Channel. “Move.”
Moving around, he noticed the Unggoy turned away from him. Quiet footsteps and a cloak activation gave Samuel the last boost he needed before reaching the room. One last scan indicated a Sangheili inside, and it possibly spelled disaster if he didn’t play his cards right. He opened the door first, tapped on the outside, and watched as the Sangheili moved out and moved in. Samuel made quick work of the door and locked the enemy out of the area, so he was able to start a download.
“Downloading, one minute.”
Oriana watched as the Sangheili, who got locked out of the room, was trying to make his way back in. She cursed to herself as the Sangheili motioned for another one to assist, Samuel had to know his time was borrowed. The door pried open, and Samuel continued to show a green signal.
“Samuel, where are you?”
“The roof. Got the intel for our Hinge to investigate, I think. Stuff still looks like it can summon a demon.”
She looked up to see him waving at her, then watched as he dropped down and onto the ground. He moved towards Darrick, Juno, and Noble, hoping not to go back through his original entrance. Whatever Juno did, worked since there were a lot less enemies at his extraction point. He turned around one corner to see a lone Sangheili and having critically low power on his invisibility cloak.
“Merde. Darrick, got any ideas on this one?” Samuel tucked himself into a corner. “Got low power and could fail in the open.”
Darrick repositioned himself to see the lone Sangheili and then the area around. There was a rock nearby in the vicinity of the Sangheili’s peripheral view, Darrick turned on a laser and pointed it at the rock to see the Sangheili look at it.
“Got em, move.”
The alien walked away, and Samuel slipped behind as he activated his cloak for the last leg of his journey. He disappeared into the high grass and made his way to Juno and Noble, Oriana finally took a breath after seeing Samuel make it out of the base.
“Oriana, we got Samuel. Coming to you.” Juno looked over at Samuel as Darrick got down from his overwatch spot. “Nice work there.”
“Thanks to me.”
Darrick stroked his ego of being the overwatch guru of Osage; it had been some time since he was able to show off his skills to his training partners back on Onyx. He also had a sixth sense that Samuel would inform Juno and Noble that Samuel taught him the trick. Regardless, the light-hearted comment came during a tense moment.
“We’ll give each other gold stars later, let’s get back to O. Keep COMM chat low.”
Three green winks were received, and Samuel led the unit back to Oriana’s command position with Levi and Izzie waiting. The camp remained to be going through their motions, so things looked as if they were not going to change.
“Nice work in the camp you two.”
Samuel held out the chip and looked back at the camp. “Got as much as I could.”
She took the data chip from Samuel and prepared to upload it to Uchuo for a further translation, hoping he spoke the dialect. It didn’t take long for the information to be uploaded; Oriana decided to move Osage past the patrol camp and further to set up a position. Waiting was never something she liked to do, and it only came to be worse since they had no other assets.
“Samuel, got an idea of where we can lay low till Uchuo gets to us?” Oriana readied her rifle and prepared to move out.
He gave a green wink followed with, “Yes. Follow me.” Over TEAMCOM.
Osage moved out in the night and around the patrol camp, sneaking past an enemy who had never known a SPARTAN unit was nearby.
Chapter Six: Inevitable Confrontation
June 12, 2558
Kalincton, Delta Siq System
Darrick sat with his back up against a tree as he cleaned his sniper rifle, he was still frustrated he didn't get to shoot despite the number of targets he had a chance at. He tried to get it done quickly since Juno and Levi never broke their old habits of messing with him in the field. Sliding the barrel back into position and locking it, he saw Samuel looking out into the darkness while Oriana sat on the other side.
It wasn't a surprise when Oriana told Osage to get some rest for the next day and keep it easy, the cave that Samuel found proved to hide they were ever there. Yet, no one shouldn't have been surprised based on the past experiences Samuel had endured as a tracker.
"The longer you wait, the longer we sit here." Samuel glanced at Oriana, then back out into the area. "We have the element of surprise, and we cannot translate it. We have to use the asset."
She remained silent, pondering the decision. The idea to abort remained in head as one of the few right decisions to make. Yet, she never aborted one mission in her career, no matter the cost. He offered the idea of giving it off to Spartan Operations and letting them deal with it since the Sangheili, who was a formidable foe who killed two of the IVs.
Taking a final breath, she decided to talk with Uchuo and see what he had to say about the data. If he couldn't, then things wouldn't look good for the continuation of the mission.
"Uchuo, this is Wolf-One."
"Wolf-One, this is Uchuo. What do you require, Spartan?"
"Translate the data and give us an idea of where we need to go."
Oriana watched as Samuel went to work on conducting a close-in signals intelligence task to narrow down the location of the Forerunner databanks. It would give her and the rest of the team a better idea of where to head.
She glanced at his yellow wink and transferred to a different channel. "I've narrowed it down to three places of interest. There are strong Forerunner signatures at all there, but I can't tell you exactly till I get eyes on. They're close together so we can hit them without having to split up the kids." She liked the idea but decided to see what Uchuo had to offer.
Switching back to the channel with the Uchuo, she waited for his response on the data from the patrol camp.
"You must head to a camp at the foot of a nearby mountain. You can see it by looking to the south. The databanks are there, under moderate guard at all times. It has the information, as well as serving as a scanning front to detect ships. Thankfully, it has been offline and under repair for the last few days, which provided the perfect opportunity for you to arrive."
Samuel picked the target out of the three he had narrowed down, loaded it into his navigation, and had a rough estimate of their trek to the mountain range with the databanks. Roughly 45 klicks of badland covered their hike towards the location. He wasted little time in getting Osage up and running to cut down on their time.
“Copy, we’ll make our way there. If anything comes up, I’ll let you know. Wolf-One out.” Oriana turned to see Osage prepping to move out as she switched to TEAMCOM. “Hope you remember your mountaineering skills. We got some traversing to do.”
Darrick assembled his rifle as Noble and Juno cleaned off their rifles, Izzie field-prepped her charges again, and he glanced over at Oriana as she grabbed her rifle to join Samuel.
“Mountaineering?” Juno sighed after hearing that word. “I hate the mountains.”
“Because you fell off a ridge during training?” Levi got a series of signals that meant for him to piss off, making him laugh.
“I’ll be sure not to add your name to The Wall.” Juno murmured under her breath.
Oriana looked up at the mountain region and the small icon that indicated where the database resided. “Not as bad as Mamore. Not as good as Earth.” She saw a curt nod and noticed the Gammas forming behind them. “Looks like we’re all in line, green across the board, any last things?”
“Databank offline and the perfect time we arrive? I feel more comfortable knowing it’s online and sprawling with targets. But it’s what we got, and we must develop the situation.”
How must longer must this maintenance go on? Surely a mere Unggoy could fix this problem by now. Field Master Grono 'Yendam scowled as he thought about this unfortunate turn of events. While he had intended to continue observing his men train and further hone their skills, a minor officer had pleaded with him that the databanks required his attention. It was most likely the smallest of problems, which fired 'Yendam's temper even more. The cool aura he carried around had extinguished, revealing the true flames of his soul.
Letting off a low growl, Grono gently pushed aside one of his Warrior bodyguards, making his way into the cockpit of the Phantom gunship he was now residing in. One of his veteran pilots sat at the helm, hands conducting precise movements to direct the Phantom.
Noticing his superior officer, the pilot nodded slightly in his direction, eyes glued to the monitor. "Field Master, we have some time still before we reach the databanks. Might I recommend that you make yourself comfortable?"
Grono clicked his lower mandibles in response. "That will not be necessary. I intend to discipline the camp's commander for this discrepancy. Such feebleness is not suitable for the Imperial Legion."
"As you wish, Field Master," the pilot said.
With nothing left of interest in the cockpit, Grono turned around and lumbered back into the main troop bay, where his elite entourage was. Made up of four of his best Sangheili Warriors, each having partaken in the slaughter of a treacherous Spartan. These soldiers had proved themselves beyond all others, and as such gifted the chance to accompany Grono himself.
Pointing to the farthest Warrior in the back, Grono beckoned him. "'Vrok, I intend for you to inspect the databanks, at least until I am finished disciplining the resident officer. He has let this failure drag on for days, and will pay the price."
'Vrok saluted, his face devoid of emotion. "It will be done, my lord. I will confide any discrepancies with you in the aftermath."
"Very well," 'Yendam answered, turning away from the Warrior. "I intend to make this visit a short one."
“Darrick, get eyes-on.”
Darrick took the order from Samuel and began moving across the mountain ridge to get a better idea of what his team was walking into. Each step made him glance down at a nearly 500 meter drop with rocks falling off the edge. Surely this was not the place to play games. The hike into the mountains was a breeze, thanks to augmentations and MJOLNIR suits of the UNSC Navy and Medical Corps.
Oriana settled next to Samuel as he continued to search for any information about the base with the Forerunner databanks. Juno, Noble, Izzie, and Levi split into two elements to do surveillance on the assigned sectors from Oriana from about 700 meters away. Osage had the sun to their back and it gave them the advantage, making it hard for people to spot them until the afternoon or evening.
Both Samuel and Oriana received a green wink from Darrick, letting them know he was in position. She motioned Samuel to join him and complete a further analysis of the situation while coordinating with the two elements. Daylight raids for SPARTANs proved to be more dangerous than safe 100% of the time, Osage couldn’t afford a mistake.
“Osage-Gamma, status.” Oriana called out over TEAMCOM.
Levi and Izzie continued to scan their assigned area, seeing two Sangheili and a few Unggoy. Looked like a squad to them, they could take them out with relative ease if they had support from Darrick.
“Few Hinges, couple of Unggoy. Looks like a squad pretty much, can take them down with sniper support from Darrick.” Izzie responded first over the net.
Levi followed up. “Entrance is guarded with a few turrets. We can blow a hole through the adjacent wall and avoid those things all together. We’ll be behind them and give Darrick clean shots on those turning the turrets.”
Oriana made a mental note of that idea. “Copy Osage-Gamma, wink me if you need anything.” She changed her channel to the other element and requested a report. “Osage-Delta, report.” She waited quietly for Juno and Noble.
“Quiet on our end, not much activity. Same activity that Gamma reported, though no turrets and we can take them ourselves.” Juno replied after the short silence between the requests. “Darrick and Samuel can provide support to Gamma while we slip behind. We could grab the data and be gone before they have a chance to secure it.”
Oriana let the idea sit for a bit, Beta had overwatch and Gamma knew they were able to blow a hole through the wall. Delta came fresh off a Headhunter rotation so they knew infiltration pretty well, it kept Samuel back at least and would give the two Gammas a chance to prove themselves as capable members of Osage.
It didn’t take long for her to jump to Beta’s channel to see what Samuel and Darrick thought. “What do you two think?”
“We have the numbers to pull it off. I know Darrick can take care of those turret gunners before they become a threat to Gamma. Delta will be fine. We have the advantage here and should execute before time turns against us. It’s a Forerunner database so expect on-call reinforcement if we do make a mistake.” Samuel replied with his blunt assessment.
Darrick followed up with his own. “I got enough angles here to keep them pinned down. Gamma will take some fire, but they’ll be ok with our assistance.”
Oriana took the plan as the best shot they had at getting the Forerunner database before the enemy got what they wanted. The UNSC needed to ensure the Covenant Remnants never had another chance to invade Earth or her colonies again.
She changed her channel to the team to execute the mission. “Delta, Gamma, get as close as you can without being seen. Once Gamma blows the hole and draws attention, Delta will slip behind and get the help. Beta will provide support to Gamma first then Delta. Beta is on overwatch, if they call something out, be sure to acknowledge it. Understand?” Oriana looked at her HUD to see six green winks. “We got our work cut out for us. Let’s get this rolling.”
Izzie worked on prepping a breach charge to punch a nice hole through the wall with Gamma as Delta got into position, roughly 50 meters away from the enemies and wall. Darrick found himself a target in his scope as Samuel gave him everything from the planet’s gravity to the wind temperature to ensure the bullet was going to punch through the target’s skull.
Oriana watched the teams give her one final wink as they were all in position, it was a cue that they were prepared for the upcoming battle. She opened her channel to the team, “Green light.”
Both Juno and Noble made quick work of two enemies as Levi covered a sprinting Izzie. A single crack echoed through the air, followed with a confirmed hit from Samuel. Delta was ready and Izzie finished slapping the charge onto the wall.
“Backblast clear!” She called out over TEAMCOM. “Redecorating time!”
She hit the detonator, bounded back away from the wall and watched as the charges pushed their way through the structure. The air behind the blast sucked in every chance the enemy had to respond, the gate guard laid dead at the hands of another sniper round from Darrick as six other enemies fell to Juno and Noble’s quick work.
“Status Delta.” Oriana called out as she saw two yellow winks from them.
Juno finished removing her knife from a Sangheili’s eye as Noble ripped the head off a Kig-Yar. “We’re good for now. Closing in.”
“Keep it up.” Oriana cycled her channel to Gamma. “How’s redecorating going?”
Izzie glanced around the corner to see a Unggoy’s head explode due to a well placed shot by Darrick. Levi continued his flank and made quick work of four Unggoy who had the bad luck of crossing his path. “Good.”
Oriana knew not to press further, she adjusted her HUD to see the two elements sprinting throughout the base like chaos in the mind of a mindless man. The Gammas knew how to clean out a base. Sniper shots continued to ring out, Darrick put in work as Samuel feld him targets. All they hoped for was that reinforcements decided to be slow.
“Up two, left three. Top of the building. Lizard with a rifle.” Samuel focused on the target with a spotting scope. “On target?”
“On target.” Darrick replied back.
The rifle boomed and the Kig-Yar’s body fell to the ground with the rifle clattering right behind. Beta ran like a UEG credit printer in 2553 and wasn’t going to stop anytime soon.
Juno caught a glimpse of the data storage after emptying a mag and nodded at Noble for him to join her. “Eyes on the databanks. Snatch and grab. Prepare for quick evac.”
“Rog, get everyone ready. Once Delta has the package, eagle protection Gamma.” Oriana called as she watched Gamma acknowledge and make their way to Delta’s position.
Noble used his training to destroy whatever remained inside as Juno yanked out the databank information to store in a hard case. She nodded at Noble and he relayed the information back to Oriana. “Package secure. Moving to Eagle Protection.”
As the four started their link up, Samuel shifted his eyes towards the north where he saw sunlight. bouncing in the air. “Darrick, put your scope dead ahead.” He watched as Darrick moved his scope.
“Did that informant or whatever get vetted by ONI?”
“Probably not, why?”
“Someone is throwing us a surprise party.” Darrick replied with his usual sarcastic voice.
Juno and Noble were welcomed by Izzie and Levi to take point on the way out of the base. But the four looked at their HUDs to see three yellow blinking lights. Izzie joined TEAMCOM first and started running towards Oriana’s position.
“What’s the problem?”
“Reinforcement is early and a lot. Get back to us. We’re going Evade and Escape.” Oriana flipped back to Beta. “You cover them with everything. Delay the drops of the reinforcement. You’re pulling back last. Samuel, last man.” She received a green wink from him and Oriana racked a round into her rifle as she prepared to be the quick reaction force.