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Finch sighed as the Warthog went over yet another bump, knocking the TacPad out of his hands and into his lap. Whatever, he had gotten bored of reading anyways. Instead, he turned his eyes to the Spartan directly in front of him, clad in his Gen2 Recruit armor. Finch registered that he shared the same boredom as him, as the Spartan drummed the holster of his sidearm. Dresden had been his best friend since basic training, and the two of them had grown accustomed to each other's body language years ago. "We've been driving for four hours," Dresden said, finally breaking the silence, "And right now, I'm really wishing we had just taken the damn Pelican instead." The third Spartan, seated in the middle seat of the Troop Transport's back, sat up and responded, depolarizing her visor as she spoke. "What, Dresden, you getting carsick? I'm pretty sure they've got some doggy bags up front," she said, her voice dripping with sarcasm, contrasting with the smile on her face. Dresden depolarized his visor and returned the smile. "Nah, I just don't like being stuck in one place for so long. Feels... vulnerable?" He shrugged. "I dunno, Madsen, what do you think?" She shifted over to him, lying back and putting her head on his lap, seemingly oblivious to the fact that they were both wearing shielded armor. "What, being trapped in a car, with nothing to do but sit and not talk to each other for four hours? I just love it." Finch would have laughed, had he not found truth to those words. If those two had anything in common, it was the fact that they would never shut up. Michael Dresden was a shy, slightly jumpy man from the outside, but he was charming and charismatic if you got to know him. Samantha Madsen, on the other hand, was talkative, bouncy, and very straightforward in any situation. When she had been placed on Fireteam Ursa, her blunt and relatively indifferent had placed her at odds with the rest of the team, Dresden in particular. Neverending streams of snark and insults had been generated from both of their mouths, until it had become white noise to Finch. Cut to the present day, 14 months later, and they were engaged. Funny how things work out. Finch snapped back to reality as the Warthog sped over another bump in the road. While he had been daydreaming, they had driven deep into the city, the tall skyscrapers of downtown far behind them. The night sky had begun to brighten ever so slightly, signaling the rise of the sun in a few hours. The city seemed eerie in this light, what with the lack of noise or motion that usually came with intersections and office buildings. A voice over the COM chimed in, echoing his thoughts. "Hey, how come these buildings are still in decent shape? I figured they'd have been overgrown a bit by now." Finch turned to the Troop Transport trailing behind them, ferrying Fireteam Humpback. "Brutes have likely been keeping the buildings clean," Finch replied. "At this point, they need anything they can get." "Yeah," the Spartan said, "I guess I just ain't used to Covies being so... practical? I mean, I'm used to the whole 'humans have cooties' attitude, so I dunno, it's just weird." "Yeah, but these aren't Covies, they're bloody space... pirate... rebels... what are they exactly?" Finch brought his palm to his visor, and sighed again. Of course she hadn't been paying attention. She never payed attention to anything unless it interested her or was absolutely necessary for their continued survival. Before he could enlighten her, O'Keefe spoke up from the passenger seat, her words compounded with a thick Irish accent. "Christ, Madsen, we've been slaughtering them here for two months, are you really that dense? Dresden opened his mouth to interject, but it was quickly shut by a glare from his fiancee'. He knew better than to get into this again. "Well, I may be dense, but I'm not the one with a stick up my arse." "Oh, so now I'm-" "Both of you, lock it down. We are all adults here, and I will not have my team squabbling like some goddamn teens. You aren't Majestic, so don't start acting like them. Am I understood?" Finch asked, his voice heavy and unusually threatening. All passengers of the Warthog were now staring at him, obviously confused by his sudden outburst. He wasn't normally this strict, but something about the city was putting him off. He let the silence continue for a few moments, then decided to shift the attention away from him. "Okay, Madsen, pay attention this time." She responded with a thumbs up. "From what we can tell, a Brute tribe recently had a falling out within its command. The tribe split in half, and one side, calling themselves the Peretus tribe, fled here. Problem is, this right here was a colony we abandoned during the war, and now we want it back." That was putting it simply, Finch bemused to himself. The Brutes had slaughtered the first colonists that had arrived, and had attempted to barricade themselves inside the main city. "Tried" was the keyword there, as the IVs and the Marines had been so happy to show them. The survivors had set up camp here, in the planet's northernmost city of Sakoute'. That's when things got a bit confusing. Instead of hunting the Brutes down, all UNSC forces had been ordered to remain garrisoned with the colonists, despite there being no immediate danger.

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