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Biographical Information
Full Name

Roger Montevado[1]

Spartan Tag





May 4th, 2534

Physical Description





210 cm


100 kg






Spartan Neural Interface

Political and Military Information

UEG Seal Unified Earth Government
UNSCemblem2 United Nations Space Command
ONI Seal 1 Office of Naval Intelligence
CRT501 Crimson Team
ROG20 Executive Operations




AresLogo2 Ares Detachment
CRT501 Crimson Team
ROG21 Executive Operations Black Team
SPARTAN LOGO 117th Special Operations Regiment


SO1 Petty Officer First Class
Chief Petty Officer Insignia Chief Petty Officer
SCPO GC (USN) Senior Chief Petty Officer
UNSC O-2 Lieutenant, Junior Grade






"All the other SPARTANs are stupid enough to work for free. I don‘t have that problem."

Lieutenant, Junior Grade Roger-341 (full name Roger Grffin Montevado at birth and Roger Jacobs after leaving the military, also known by the designations Sierra-Three-Four-One, Codename: CRIMSON ONE, and Codename: EMBRY ONE[2]) was a highly experienced special forces operator and junior officer of the UNSC Navy during the last days of the Human-Covenant War as a SPARTAN-II Commando of Project ARES, the third class of the SPARTAN-II Program. Taking part of several notable battles during the war, including the Siege of Paris IV, the Battle of Sigma Octanus IV, the Fall of Reach, the Battle of Tribute, the Battle of Earth, and the Battle of Dosiac, he proved himself as an excellent soldier before his team met their despise on Dosiac. In the aftermath of the Great War, he chose to depart from the UNSC military and form a private military company with the Sangheili Sunef ‘Mhackphisthoee (also referred to as Sunef ‘Maphis [3]). This company would develop into a full fledged mercenary group, known as Executive Operations Security, until it’s near annihilation in a disastrous final mission in 2562. Following this, Roger spent a large amount of time in cryo storage, before agreeing to help train the new 117th Special Operations Regiment, before finally accepting a post in Lambda Company, all for a full contract.

Roger was born on the human colony of Miridem on May 4th, 2534 to a naval captain and a factory worker. Following his fathers deployment and death at Charybids IX, his mother raised him as a single parent on the crowded colony world. Independent and extremely intelligent, he was a child prodigy, becoming very athletic and succeeding at academics as early as four years old. On his fifth birthday, however, his mother suffered a paralyzing stroke and was confined to a bed, and the young child was watched over by a civil service agent.

Not long after his sixth birthday, however, he was visited by Captain Griffin Standoff, an enigmatic stranger who interviewed him briefly before quickly departing, claiming to be part of a standard child survey. His true purpose was far darker, however, and unbeknownst to Roger, he was selected by the man to become part of the ARES Program, the next generation of SPARTAN-II Supersoldiers. Several weeks later, he was abducted alongside 49 other young recruits and secreted away to a top secret training ground on the planet Tantalus.

Arriving on the planet, he was introduced to her new life by Laszlo-108, and informed he would soon join the ranks of humanity’s greatest warriors. Apprehensive of the program from it’s start, his individualistic personality made his instructors keep a careful eye on him, even as he learned to hide his doubts and fit in. Despite his problems, he quickly proved himself as one of the most talented operatives in the program, if one of the least disciplined, and rose to squad leader of Crimson Team, pushing them to be among the best in the project under the tutelage of Laszlo and the head DI Dean Jackson .

After eight years of intense training, Roger and his brethren received chemical and genetic augmentations, transforming them into true SPARTANs. Equipped with SPI Armor, the three remaining members were deployed against the Covenant to the far reaches of UNSC space. Hopping from colony to colony, they defended the UNSC and it’s citizens even as the alien horde slowly destroyed more and more worlds. They quickly proved themselves to be one of the deadliest teams in the program, and after a year of fighting, all three members were still intact. Following the events at the Battle of Algolis, they were deployed to recover any classified technology, they discovered several experimental suits of MJOLNIR Mark V/CQC and Mark V/MP Armor.

The three SPARTANs retrieved as many of the armor suits as they could, but at Roger’s discretion, kept three suits for themselves when they delivered the prototypes to their mission commander. Discarding their SPI suits and enlisting the help of their former project commander, Griffin Standoff, they began operating under the radar with the new suits. Upgraded with the new armor, the trio of SPARTANs became force to be reckoned with, and quickly became one of the most efficient special forces teams in all of NAVSPECWAR, rivaling groups like Herald, Gold, Noble, and even original Class I SPARTAN-IIs.

The team finally suffered their first problem in July of 2552 at the Battle of Sigma Octanus IV, when, operating parallel to the original Class One SPARTAN-IIs, they attempted to head off a large group of enemy reinforcements moving towards Firbase Bravo and were caught in the midst of hundreds of enemy troops. During their escape, James-319 was hit by enemy fire and badly injured, in near critical condition by the time the team was able to evac him to the hospital ship in orbit. Grievously injured, his recovery was estimated to take months, even with his enhanced physical state. With the rest of Crimson still needed on the frontlines, they were forced to leave their wounded squad mate behind while they deployed once again.

Weakened by two members, the squad was withdrawn for upgrades to their equipment and new orders. With the help of Griffin Standoff, they managed to procure several upgrades for their experimental Mark V suits, including upgraded power supplies , shield generators, and even prototype active camouflage. With upgrade to their equipment, they were in preparation for their deployment to New Jerusalem when the Covenant attacked. Caught on the ground during the invasion, the two SPARTANs aided in the defense of the planet for several days, until the situation on the ground became absolutely hopeless.

Escaping the surface, they continued the fight throughout the system, leading marines in the defense of Tribute and Circumstance, before finally retreating to the outer world of Tantalus. Helping to coordinate the evacuation of the military personnel there, Crimson saw to it that their benefactor, Captain Griffin Standoff, was evacuated in particular. Escaping the planet, the SPARTAN team retreated immediately back to earth along with the majority of the planet’s population.

Following their arrival, the two man team was introduced to the newly reactivated Brown Team, lead by their former teacher, Laszlo-108. The reunion was short-lived, as the Covenant began their attack. Working alongside the three fellow SPARTANs, the small team proved crucial to the defense of several critical areas, even as the Covenant began to focus more and more of their attack on New Mombassa and The In Amber Clad left the planet to pursue the Prophet of Regret. As the battle intensified, the add-hoc Brown Team eventually split, with Crimson splitting off and heading for Africa to help in the ever escalating battle. While en route, they were shot down, and they were forced to spend the next week and a half fighting their way across the continent to the Mombasa area. By the time they arrived, the Elite forces had already arrived and pursued Prophet of Truth into the Portal.

In the aftermath of the battle, Crimson Team made contact with Lord Hood, who was intimately familiar with the ARES Detachment thanks to his experiences with Tan Team. Under direct command of the Admiral, Crimson participated in missions all over the planet, acting as the spearhead of the forces mopping up the Covenant remainders. When a small flood contingent landed on the planet on it’s way to the Ark, Crimson led it’s extermination, working alongside a group of Separatist special operations elites, led by the former Honor Guard Sunef ‘Mhackphistho. With the infestation contained, the SPARTANs continued working with the elites to push the remainder of the Brutes off the planet.

In the aftermath of the battle, Roger and Mica were reunited with James, who had finished his recovery on the Hopeful. Once again paired with ‘Mhackphistho and his elites, they formed the core of a joint SPARTAN-Sangheili special operations team. Back at full strength, the SPARTANs joined this new force and led the liberation of the remaining inner colonies. Beating back the Covenant one planet at a time with the help of the Separatists, they finally reached Doisac on February 29th, and were deployed ahead on the main force to attack an enemy power generator powering the shields for the planet.

The target, however, was an ambush, and the mission quickly became a disaster. As the Covenant forces closed in on them, Mica-311 and the vast majority of the Special Operations Elites were surrounded, as massed infantry backed by heavy armor closed in on them. With no choice but to leave them behind, Roger, Sunef, and James made their way to the shield generator and placed charges, destroying it. As they attempted to exfiltrate, however, several Brute chieftains attacked them, and James was killed in the resulting struggle. His team decimated in only a few minutes, Roger was forced to leave them behind and evacuate with Sunef to orbit. As the rest of the UNSC and Sangheili forces attacked the planet and took control, Roger was left to ponder his team’s death without anything to distract him.

The deaths of his team changed Roger, and he quickly became hard and cynical, falling back into old tendencies of suspicion and doubt of the UNSC he’d kept under wraps since training. His team and the constant Covenant threat had held him in place before, but now they were both gone, with nothing to replace them. With the war over and the remnants of the Covenant on the run, he was faced with either staying around to train new soldiers or join the scores of SPARTANs signing up for Operation: SAVIOUR to search for John-117. Taking perspective of his life and deciding he’d had enough of the UNSC, he did the unthinkable and resigned his commission.

After floating around the galaxy for a short time, living off a small pension from the military, he realized he wasn’t done with military life yet. Gathering what little money he had, he bought a cargo transport and contacted Sunef ‘Mhackphistho once again. Once he made contact with the elite, he offered him a job, working alongside him as a private military contractor. Even with the Great War winding down, the galaxy was still a very dangerous place, and all sorts of people would pay good money for solid military service. The elite, an outcast among his people for his role as an Honor Guard, accepted gladly.

So began a long partnership. Over the next few years, the two slowly built up their new company’s reputation, expanding their operations and building a name for themselves. Roger returned to the Algolis colony, and stripped the abandoned facilities there of the leftover suits of MJOLNIR armor, creating a personal stash of powered armor for himself. The new company, Executive Operations Security, built it’s reputation quickly, and soon, they were a common name in military circles. When a government needed something important done, especially poorer governments without access to specialized military forces, Roger and Sunef were the first ones they called.

The duo continued working together for several years, then began to expand the company, recruiting anyone crazy and good enough to join them. There were no limits or prejudices; if you could do the job, you were in, and if you couldn’t, you were out. Everyone from former Helljumpers to Unggoy special forces to Jiralhanae rebels were admitted, and the small company gained a reputation for diversity as well as deadliness. Gobbling up market shares for PMCs, it became one of the most valuable companies on the market.

After several years of success, however, disaster struck once again. During a contract for the UNSC, Roger and his team, Black Squadron, were ambushed by Kig-Yar raiders. While they were able to eliminate the raiders, they sustained heavy damage and were marooned in deep space without a slipspace drive. With no communications and no way of FTL travel, they decided to head back for known space with sub light engines. The crew was placed in cryo for the long trip home, while the onboard computers handled control.

The journey took just over thirty years, lasting from 2562 until 2594. At the end of their journey, they arrived back at civilized space and were brought out of cryo. After reacquainting himself with the changing galaxy, he once again contacted Sunef and found the company had been doing well, even without his presence. Still small and compact, it had dominated the market for the past thirty years. Upgrading his own equipment to modern standards, he once again began carrying out contracts, until 2596 when he was offered a major deal by ONI. In exchange for a large fee, they wanted him to help train new SPARTANs, as part of the SPARTAN-IV Program. Interested by the possibility, he agreed to serve as a part time instructor, teaching the young SPARTANs for one half of the year while performing more conventional contracts in the other half. When the SPARTANs were augmented and prepped for deployment, his contract was renewed, and he joined the unit as a full time, highly paid commander; placed in Lambda Company, he served well through the Necros War until retirement in the early 2640s.

Service Record

Career Service Vitae

'(archived for use in investigation, as of January 1, 2587)



  • SERVICE #: S-341
  • BIRTH DATE: 5/4/2534




Promotions and Decorations

Promotions (as of January 1st, 2568)
Insignia Rank Date
Lieutenant, Junior Grade December 3rd, 2596
Senior Chief Petty Officer November 22nd, 2553
Chief Petty Officer Insignia
Chief Petty Officer December 23rd, 2552
Petty Officer First Class June 3rd, 2548
ONI Seal 1
Decorations (as of January 1st, 2568)
Image Name Date
Colonial Cross ribbon
Colonial Cross (x2) February 29th, 2553

March 17th, 2551

Silver Star ribbon
Silver Star (x4) September 9th, 2552

November 29th, 2551
July 4th, 2551
May 12th, 2551

Purple Heart ribbon
Purple Heart (x3) February 29th, 2553

August 15th, 2550
May 4th, 2549

Blood Type O
Height 210 cm
Weight 115 kg
Rating Lieutenant, Junior Grade (LTJG/O-2)
Unit Former: ARES Detachment, Executive Operations Security

Current: Lambda Company, 117th Special Operations Regiment

Born Kent Springs, Karol, Miridem
Gender Male
Citizen Arcturas
Age Chronological: 66

Physical: 26

Occupation Private Military Contractor
06:00 Hours, January 1st, 2600


Early Life (2534-2540)

Life with his Mother (2534-2539)

"Happy days. Or what passed for them, anyway."
―Roger, on his early life with his mother.

Roger Montevado was born on May 4th, 2534, in a inner city delivery clinic in the city of Kent Springs in the Karol territory, on the inner colony world of Miridem. His father, Captain James Francis Montevado, was the commander of the UNSC Destroyer Do You Feel Lucky?, a vessel in the Charybdis IX defense taskforce. His mother, Elizabeth Gerald Montevado, was a factory worker for Traxus Manufacturing and a part time wartime nurse. His parents were introduced in 2529, when the then-commander James chose to accompany wounded members of his crew to the surface while in port, seeking medical attention. He met Elizabeth in a field hospital, and she assisted him in not only caring for his crew, but also providing contacts within Traxus. Using her contacts, she was able to give him access to supplies he needed to repair his damaged ship. When James was promoted two months later and given mandatory leave, he chose to spend it on Miridem, and was soon in a relationship with the intelligent young worker. The two married in late 2533, while James was again on leave.

Roger never met James, however. Three weeks before he was born, his father was called back to service and placed in command of the defense of several outer colonies, including Charybdis IX. James corresponded frequently with Elizabeth from the front, but for the first year of Roger’s life, never met his son face to face. It wasn’t long before tragedy struck the young family, in the form of the Covenant. In October of 2535, an alien taskforce spearheaded by the destroyer Retribution’s Thunder attacked Charybdis IX, laying waste to the system’s defenses in a matter of hours. James Montevado’s ship, the UNSC Do You Feel Lukcy?, was the last of the fleet to be destroyed; boarded by Covenant forces in search of navigation data, the ship was spared from immediate destruction. Realizing what the Covenant were after, James Montevado ordered the bridge consoles destroyed, then staged an ambush for the alien boarding party. This ambush went awry when the small force encountered a zealot force led by Thel Vadamee, and Captain Montevado perished with an energy sword through his chest while firing a fallen marine’s assault rifle.

The news of Roger’s father’s death had a profound effect on his mother Elizabeth. She immediately quit helping at the wartime hospital, as she couldn’t bear the memories associated with it. She held on to her job at Traxus by the skin of her teeth, the manager, a veteran of the Insurrection, sympathized with her grief and let her slide. To Roger, childhood was a confusing, perilous time. His mother simultaneously held on to him tightly--he, the one link back to James, was irreplaceable to her--and distanced herself, sometimes finding his similarities to James to much to bear.

But even with his tender situation at home, Roger proved to be a precocious young child. Ferociously intelligent, he stood out from the other children with his clear speech and analytical thinking. Reading by the age of four, he was allowed into school one year early, but even there, seemed unchallenged. After some deliberation, the school advanced him a second time when he finished his first year of schooling--putting him a whole two years ahead of his age group.

But besides academic success, Roger showed physical talent as well. A head taller than anyone in his year--or the one above him, for that matter--he started playing sports early, and was soon the star athlete of his class. Intelligent and athletic, Roger was popular with the other children, his teachers, and was marked by the city’s Young Leadership counsel as a child to watch for potential political office.

Life with the Civil Service Agent (2539-2540)

"I can’t even remember his face"
―Roger, commenting on how little he interacted with his Civil Service Agent

Two weeks after his fifth birthday, however, Roger’s life came to a screeching halt. His mother, still grieving for his father’s death, suffered a paralyzing stroke. Confined to a hospital bed, a court of judges from the CAA Justice Corps hastily ruled her unable to care for her active young son. The shocked young Roger was placed in the care of a government social worker--a worker also in charge of a “cell” of refugees…numbering 150 people. Roger now found himself not only living with a stranger, but a stressed, overworked, inattentive stranger with little time to devote to a prodigious young five year old.

It was a shock to the youngster, going from his doting and overprotective mother to the aloof service agent. Roger turned to his popular friends, his classmates, his teachers--but found them lacking. They were busy enjoying their own lives; they had no time for Roger’s troubles or problems. His teachers didn’t understand why their prized student suddenly started failing tests he had been acing, missing school, and turning in his homework late. They all knew his mother was paralyzed, but it wasn’t like she was dead, was it? They pushed him harder, hoping he would improve. Roger suddenly found he had to fend for himself.

It was initially a struggle. An only child, had been the center of his mother’s world. He’d never had to learn how to make himself breakfast, or pack his school books, or get himself to practice. Overnight, the world became real, challenging…and frustrating. He was suddenly very lonely, as his friends abandoned him or simply ceased to care. Roger found himself angry at the world, angry at his friends--angry at life. As Roger learned to cope and think for himself, he found himself distanced from his friends. His life--in his own eyes, at least--was immeasurably different than that of the others. He was immeasurably different. All the strengths that had pushed him forward, now set him apart.

With no one to turn to, Roger turned to himself. He learned to be independent--to do things when he wanted them done, and get them done well. Already two grades ahead of his peers and much more physically fit, he now matured faster as well. He was responsible for himself, responsible for his actions, and free to do as he wanted. So as he grew apart from his friends, Roger discovered something about himself. More than anything, more than his mother, more than his friends, more than his status at school, Roger loved freedom. He loved being in control of his own life, making his own choices. Before long, Roger had fashioned himself a new identity at school. He was no longer a crowd follower, no longer the teachers’ favorite. He was a rule breaker, a renegade, and opportunist.

Roger’s teachers were dumbfounded. They had just seen a five year old, a small child, make changes in his life that they wouldn’t have expected out of someone twice his age--or three times, for that matter. Most of their other children were concerned with toys, or the latest holovids; Roger was interested in manipulating others, doing what was best for himself, and making sure that above all, he came out on top. Some tried to reach out to him and try and bring back the Roger they’d known--or thought they’d known, as Roger now believed--but the same traits that had pushed him ahead, not cemented his personality. For better or worse, Roger was now a new person, a person who’s focus was totally on himself.

But the same abilities that made Roger stronger would soon bring him to the attention of people who would change his life forever.

ARES Program (2540-2548)

Kidnapping and Induction (2540)

"A lot of the other kids came from orphanages, toxic home environments, the works. They said it was a step in the right direction for them. They were probably right. But it was a step in the wrong one for me."
―Roger, on his induction into the ARES Program

On a dreary morning in early July, Roger was on his way home from school when he was approached by a strange man in a UNSC Marine uniform. The man asked Roger questions about his life, about school, and most curiously, about his mother’s stroke and paralysis. Roger knew from the tone of the questions that something was wrong, and acted evasive. On Miridem, UNSC troops were an omnipresent force. Everyone feared a Covenant invasion, and the UNSC was determined to be prepared. Roger believed that the strange man might have suspected him of something illegal; he had trespassed on UNSC bases in the past, and he wondered if they had finally caught him. Roger played innocent, convincing the UNSC man that he was an upstanding kid. When the man left, questions unanswered, Roger was sure that he had succeeded.

Then, three weeks later, in the dead of night, Roger was woken to the sound of someone breaking into the house. Before he could even think of trying to get out of his bed, a group of black suited men burst into his room, subdued him, and pumped him with a sedative. Roger’s civil service agent, who had been working late, arrived home to find Roger’s bed empty and a note on his dresser, saying he had ran away. A missing person’s report was filed, and three days later, in a seemingly miraculous turn of events, Roger was found in a back alley, a gash on his head and a break in his memory. Roger was taken home by the civil service agent, but a month later, fell ill to an unknown metabolic disorder. Before doctors could determine how to treat it, or even the cause, Roger passed away, his organs failing en masse and his body collapsing. After a week of comprehensive post mortem tests--followed by a strange, inexplicable power surge and a series of data corrupting system glitches--the cause was determined to be a rare, cognitive disease.

So the story went, at least. In reality, Roger had been abducted by a top secret cell of the Office of Naval Intelligence Section III, the Delta-4 Division--known to most of the UNSC as the Covert Operations Group. Placed in stasis aboard an ONI Prowler, Roger was taken from his home alongside 49 other candidates in Operation: CLOAK AND DAGGER--the recruitment phase of a top secret new ONI project, the ARES Program. The Prowler hop-scotched it’s way across UNSC space, collecting candidate after candidate. Finally, when the last recruit was taken, it turned it’s course towards the Epsilon Eridani system--or more specifically, Tantalus. There, nestled far below the surface, was the newly built headquarters of the Covert Ops Group, Fort Hamill.

The Prowler carrying Roger and the other candidates arrived on Tantalus on August 5th, 2540. There, it rendezvoused with four other Prowlers--which had each been in charge of retrieving 10 recruits--and landed in the Fort Hamill hangar bay. Inside, Roger and the other new candidates were forced out of cryo sleep, dressed, and rushed to an amphitheatre where they met two of the three men that would dominate their lives for the next eight years: Staff Sergeant Dean Jackson, the assistant head drill instructor of the project, and Captain Laszlo Katona, the head instructor.

The speech that Laszlo gave to the gathered recruits was short and to the point; they had been selected to be part of the next generation of SPARTAN-II super soldiers, and would follow in the footsteps of humanity’s greatest heroes. They would be trained, and become part of an elite society of warriors whose sworn duty would be to protect humanity and serve the UNSC. They would not be allowed to return to their parents; their old lives were over. They were no longer children: they were SPARTANs.

The majority of the other children were stunned, speechless, unable to comprehend what was happening. They could not understand what was being done to them. They wondered what they had done wrong, whether they were being punished

But not Roger.

As he listened to Laszlo’s speech, Roger was one of the few candidates in the room to fully comprehend what the instructor was saying. His life of freedom was over; the path ahead was full of rules, restrictions, and conflict. Roger understood what was happening, all right--and he didn’t like what he saw.

As Laszlo finished his speech, Roger and the other candidates were rushed out of the briefing room and sent to the newly minted Project ARES barracks. There, Roger was grouped with four other candidates, and told by an instructor that he was now part of something known as Crimson Team. Given more sedative drugs to help him and the others sleep, Roger tried to resist, eventually being subdued by Laszlo himself. The first day of Roger’s SPARTAN training had come to a close…and his life had entered a new chapter.

Early Training and Crimson Team (2540-2544)

"They were watching me very closely from the moment I started. I knew it, but they didn’t know I knew it. So I played dumb and went along with their training, so I could stick with my team. But if they hadn’t been there…things might have changed."
―Roger, on his experience during training.

Training for Roger began much the same as that of the numerous SPARTANs before him. Awoken by trainers with shock batons, Roger and the other four members of his new team were rigorously showered, dressed, and instructed to begin calisthenics. Roger’s only clothing was a standard pair to workout shorts and a shirt with the name Roger-341 emblazoned on it. Roger was no longer Roger Montevado; his last name was now a serial number. Laszlo, the head instructor, was himself a SPARTAN-II from the first class, and had decided to model his program very closely after Halsey’s original training regimen. When Roger began his training, he did so in the exact same manner that the previous SPARTANs had done--with one key difference.

Laszlo had chosen to place a greater emphasis on team coordination, and so, the teams that the SPARTANs would stay in were established and utilized the first day. Following the morning workouts, the new trainees were brought to their first lesson, overseen by an ONI Artificial Intelligence much as Déjà had overseen the original SPARTAN-IIs on their first day of training--though the coursework was now updated, with a demonstration of the SPARTAN-II Blue Team’s ambush of Covenant forces at Jericho VII in place of the 300 Spartan’s Last Stand at Thermopylae.

Roger, despite comprehending his situation, had little idea of what he should do. He knew that he didn’t want to be in the training program, but at the same time, didn’t have the faintest idea of how he would want to try and escape. He used the time when most of the other candidates were enthralled watching the MJOLNIR clad titans mow down hordes of Covenant Grunts to try and think of anything that might help him get away--but found he could not.

After the first lesson was finished, the candidates were taken to the obstacle course, and again paired into their five-man teams. The obstacle was a faithful rendition of Halsey’s original model--with a catch. Laszlo had designed it so that it would be better suited to promoting teamwork among five children--as opposed to three. Crimson Team, Roger’s group, was initially unsure of how to approach the obstacle course. They knew they needed to reach a rope elevator, but didn’t know how they could keep the others from getting there first. With no one else to lead them, Roger stepped in. Laszlo had offered the same delicious feast to the winners that Mendez had, and Roger had no wish to go hungry.

When Laszlo let them begin, they rushed forward. Two other teams--Gold and Scarlet--moved for the same bucket as Crimson. As part of Roger’s plan, the team’s two smallest members, Maggie-327 and Mica-311, sprinted ahead past everyone to the bucket. Roger, and the two other boys on the team, James-319 and Jacob-303, meanwhile held off the other two teams. The other children, who hadn’t been prepared for a fight, were shocked when Roger--leading the others by example--slammed one of them with his shoulder and pushed him back into the others, making them teeter off the edge. The other recruits, angry, retaliated as best they could, but many of them were shorter or smaller than Roger--and one of the members of Roger’s team, James-319, was even taller than him. Without coordination or size, the other recruits were forced to run away, or risk bruises and black eyes.

With the threat of the other recruits gone, Roger and the rest of Crimson joined each other in the bucket and pulled their way to the top of the post. They were the third team to ring the bell--two others, Tan, and Cyan, had found alternate ways to the top and moved more quickly, not having to deal with a fight. As the exercise finished and the recruits were treated to food back at the mess hall, and then sent to bed, Roger had an epiphany. There was no way he would be able to escape on his own, but with help from this new team, he could have a viable chance. Teamwork was the key.

So over the next few months, as training began in earnest, Roger planted the seeds of doubt in his team’s minds. He knew he needed to convince them that they needed to escape, or they would never go for his plan. During down time, Roger talked about how unfair it was for the UNSC to take them away from their families. He mentioned how it was wrong; how they should be able to choose what they wanted to do with their lives, and not be forced into training. As he slowly convinced the others of the need to escape, Roger was surprised at how receptive they were. One of them, Mica-311, even approached him in private and told him that they needed to convince the others that they had to escape. Before long, the rest of Crimson Team was of the same mind--the UNSC were the bad guys, and they needed to escape.

By early October, the plan to escape was in the works. Under Roger’s direction, James-319, who had some experience in computer hacking due to a childhood on the run, broke into the base’s manifest server and found ways to manipulate it. The team of young renegades slowly took supplies from the storage section of the base, repeatedly going whole nights without sleeping in order to retrieve food, survival kits, and even weapons. Meanwhile, James would modify the supply manifests to cover their tracks. The base security never suspected a thing.

As the plan began coming together, Roger got to know his squad mates better. Between training and their late night excursions, he spent every waking hour of his day alongside them. He surprised himself to find that he actually liked them; they were smart, funny, and very similar to himself. They were nothing like the superficial children at his school who had forgotten about him the moment he needed help; they propped him up when he needed it and helped him when he was in trouble. Roger--who had never put someone else in front of his own well being since his mother had died--slowly went from thinking about Me, to We. After a fight broke out between him and another trainee, Jennifer-347 from Gold Team, and Mica stepped in, beating the other girl off of Roger and covering for him to make sure he didn’t get in trouble, the deal was sealed. Crimson Team was more than Roger’s unit--they were his new family.

As the day of their planned escape approached, Roger and the others could hardly contain their excitement. They had James locate their best escape route--a series of service tunnels that they could enter in separate area and meet up together on the surface--and they gathered their pilfered supplies together, caching them along their individual routes. They rehearsed the plan, using inconspicuous code words, every chance they got--including right under the nose of Laszlo and the project director, Colonel Griffin Standoff. After a month of preparation, they were ready.

On the night of November 9th, 2540, James, Maggie, and Jacob all quietly snuck away from their table. James headed for a pre-arranged terminal, and now an old pro at getting inside base security, hacked his way into the fire alarm. As Roger and Mica staged a mock fight with Jennifer-347 in the cafeteria--giving her a black eye in the process--James triggered the fire alarm throughout the base. As all hell broke loose, Jacob and Maggie calmly broke into base security, shot the lone guard with a pilfered Tranquilizer Pistol, and killed the base camera feeds. Grabbing radios and stealing the guards M6D sidearm, the two of them headed for their prearranged escape tunnels. Before the personnel on base could figure out why the fire alarms had gone off prematurely, Mica, James, and Roger had linked up and were heading for the surface as well.

Picking up their stashed supplies and survival packs, the team rendezvoused at the surface and congratulated each other. They were ecstatic. A group of six year olds had just defeated an entire base full of highly trained security personnel. So much for hyper alert security--or so they thought. Below the surface, Laszlo, their trainer, realized something was wrong, and in a stroke of good fortune--or by drawing from his own experience--called in a Pelican dropship to search the exact area where Crimson Team had broken the surface. The five of them were astounded; they couldn’t believe they’d been caught. They considered a struggle, but when Laszlo arrived in full, gleaming MJOLNIR and with a team of Marine rifleman as backup, that thought suffered a rapid death. Their escape attempt was over.

In the aftermath of the attempt, Crimson Team was placed under careful scrutiny--and base security rushed to update their defense measures. James managed to keep his pathway into their system open however, a small victory for the young recruits. Thinking over the escape attempt, Roger realized that the problem was time. Trying to escape with five people simply took to long. If it had been just him, he likely could have escaped. A month earlier, he might have started planning for another attempt to get himself--and just himself--out of the base. But now, Roger couldn’t bear the thought of abandoning his team. So despite an ability to the contrary, Roger stayed, letting himself get absorbed into the training and staying with his new family.

Life went on, and training progressed. As much as he hated the thought, Roger knew his old life was now gone. Training--and his team--were his life now. Weeks past, and Crimson competed with the other ten squads in the program to be the absolute best they could be. Roger found the others turning to him for guidance, as he took on a natural leadership role within the squad. He also began to notice, now that he really committed himself to the training, that he was good. Very good. Skills that the other candidates struggled with, or even took more time with, he mastered without a problem. When Laszlo had the recruits begin running mock combat simulations near the end of December, Crimson would always do better when Roger lead, and he would always top the rankings. Even here, in a class full of extraordinary individuals, Roger excelled.

Unsurprisingly, when team leaders were selected for the squads in mid march, Roger was chosen as the leader for Crimson. With Roger at it’s helm, Crimson rapidly rose in skill and ability as Roger pushed his team harder and harder. Roger still had his misgivings about the project--as did the rest of his team--but they put them to the side and focused on training. As they grew older and continued honing their skills, Laszlo and Colonel Standoff allowed the SPARTANs-to-be access to classified documents, videos, and reports concerning the Covenant advance. It was designed to help motivate them, and even Crimson Team was affected. Learning more about the Covenant threat, Crimson Team--their beliefs were now a reflection of Roger’s--came to realize that the Covenant were to great of a threat to ignore. Roger and the rest of his team were rapidly developing an outlook on the world where they put their own personal safety first, and they realized that for them to survive in the long run, they would need to pitch in and defend against the Covenant, simply for their own good. It was a greater motivator than any speech about the plight of innocent refugees or their duty to mankind.

So Roger and his team pushed themselves to the brink in training, growing stronger and more skilled with each passing week. On August 6th, two years into training, they were given the chance to prove themselves in the real world. The entire contingent of SPARTANs--50 recruits in total--was taken aboard a pair of Pelican dropships by Laszlo and flown into the wilderness of Tantalus. There, they were deposited individually with fragments of a map, in a recreation of an exercise the original SPARTAN-IIs had gone through around the same time. Roger and Crimson used hand signals and code to confirm an RV point prior to being dropped off, and were able to link up fairly quickly following the drop...with one exception. One of their members, Maggie, did not make the rendezvous on time; falling back on their backup plan, the team moved out. Despite Maggie still being missing, they did manage to link up with several other Ares Teams, including Cyan, Gold, Silver, Scarlet, and Turquoise. After incapacitating the guards with an ambush--conceived by Rachel-343, a member of Cyan Team--the SPARTANs held position and waited for the others.

However, when Scarlet Team, and one of the members of Gold, Jennifer-347, started pressuring the others to leave the late squads, including Maggie, behind, Roger held the flight up until everyone arrived. Angry at Scarlet for attempting to leave his squad mate behind, Roger ordered Crimson to force Scarlet off the Pelican--and then left them behind. Receiving a reprimand from Colonel Standoff for their actions, the incident was the start of a long standing rivalry between Crimson and Scarlet, which would only intensify as training went on. Despite the reprimand by Standoff, however, Laszlo found their actions to be hilarious and thought they showed strong teamwork, and so took a shine to the independent team.

And independent they were. Despite going along with training, Roger and the other members of Crimson did their best to still make life challenging on their instructors. They developed a sarcastic streak and a set of loud mouths that would come to define them as a squad--and honed the skills needed to back them up. Crimson relished the role of the rebels, disobeying orders whenever they could and making life a challenge for their instructors. Crimson made a point of not working alongside other teams, creating a culture of seclusion within the squad. Alongside this came a feeling of hostility towards anyone that wasn’t them--resulting in frequent fights with other teams, most of which they did well to hide from Laszlo and Colonel Standoff’s prying eyes.

Their independent nature was a pain for most of their instructors, but some of them actually liked them for it. Crimson’s chief supporter was Laszlo, who took a shine to them after the forest exercise and worked closely with them throughout the rest of their training. Laszlo had been a rebel himself during training, and had even attacked Dr. Halsey during his own training. Laszlo could sympathize with Crimson and the way they felt about training. Laszlo subtly began to influence Roger and the rest of his team, changing their outlook on life in slight ways as they came to reflect his own. As time went on, Laszlo grew to be one of the few people Roger trusted and cared about--though he still did not rank in front of his squad.

Later Training and Augmentation (2544-2548)

"I couldn’t understand it, at all. They trained us for eight years, poured money in to turn us into elite soldiers---then stood by and watched twenty of us die from preventable deaths. I couldn’t comprehend it. Not until we read his journal. Then it all made sense."
―Roger discussing augmentations.

Four years into training, Roger and Crimson continued to excel, but they also faced difficulties. The Ares Program had a limited timetable, and with the deadline of deployment growing closer and closer, Laszlo and Colonel Standoff intensified the pace of training. While Roger had no trouble keeping up, other members of his squad lagged behind. Maggie and Jacob both struggled just to hold their own, and even James and Mica--the most skilled members of the team, after Roger--encountered some difficulty. The same was true throughout the rest of the SPARTAN class, though it would be years before Crimson would discover why.

In the meantime, Roger did his best to help the struggling members of his team. In combat scenarios, he would place them in less dangerous positions. During exercises, he would assign James, Mica, and himself to the most difficult positions, and leave the others to easier jobs. He logged hours and hours in the shooting range with his teammates, helping them hone their skills--breaking in during the night even, so that they would have extra time. When Maggie or Jacob failed a test, James would hack the program databases--using increasingly adept computer skills that Laszlo had fostered--and modify their grades to allow them to pass. It was a struggle, but the entire team rallied behind them, pushing them forward.

Despite the difficulties, however, Crimson saw successes as well. Overall, their team was ranked highly in the program’s roster--a combination of strong test scores (most of them legitimate), excellent combat skills, strong leadership, and incredibly tight teamwork buoyed them up against other squads that might have performed better in some areas, but paled against them overall. Success bred feelings of pride and confidence in Crimson Team--and as a result, their pranks and antics grew in audacity. They would quietly sabotage lessons or drills, and raise hell when caught. On one occasion, James hacked the project server and replaced the Top Secret label on the program documents with an image of a Grunt’s head exploding into confetti. Though their antics would draw the ire of the base’s leadership--Colonel Standoff, in particular, had a few choice words to describe them--they didn’t care. They were Crimson Team; the opinion of outsiders was of little importance, and that was how things were.

As training progressed, Crimson encountered a few lucky breaks. Many of the other teams spent time dealing with drama and problems within their group dynamics, while Crimson remained locked solidly in place. Gold Team, in particular, had trouble when the project leadership was forced to separate them, following a fight between the squad leader and one of his subordinates. Crimson was lucky, and avoided the difficulty of any angst over such problems. Soon, training began it’s third and final phase--preparation for augmentation. The intensity of training picked up--and so did the danger of it. Injuries were an almost constant affair; Roger worked night and day to keep his squad functional while dealing with broken bones, concussions, and other ailments.

To deal with the issue, Crimson did anything they could to get ahead. They would poison the food of other squads, plant listening devices in Colonel Standoff’s and Laszlo’s rooms, and observe the DI’s while they were planning the training exercises, looking for any advantage they could get. Ironically, some of their measures would lead to an increasing paranoia by Standoff that ONI was watching him--a paranoia that was well justified, considering they were. As injuries increased in frequency, the program leadership looked for ways to counter them, and began integrating Semi-Powered Infiltration Armor during practice sessions. Due to budget constraints, the project was planned to deploy the SPARTANs using the same armor, allowing Standoff and Laszlo to introduce it without sacrificing other parts of the training program.

The early introduction of the armor, and the reasoning that the administration had behind it, prompted troubling questions for Roger. Up until that point, the leadership had never mentioned budgetary worries--but if introducing additional armor meant that the project might have had to drop other planned programs, that meant that the budget was finite--perhaps dangerously so. Roger, like the rest of the Class IIIs, knew the order that SPARTAN training should follow. He knew that augmentations were fast approaching--only a year or so away--and he was worried about what they might bring, if the budget was low enough to affect the project’s quality. Roger brought his concerns up with his team, and they agreed they needed to find out more about the project that was in charge of their lives--and what risks that run alongside it.

So, as training continued and the SPARTANs grew more used to their suits, James began to experiment with breaking the security systems inside Fort Hamill. Crimson Team had had some success in the past with breaking into select parts of the security system, but they realized that to find the information they were looking for, they needed a much broader approach. James worked whenever he had time, searching for a way into the classified documents housed on the base server. It was slow going; between the rising intensity of training and the need to move cautiously--so as to avoid any suspicion--it took months for James to make progress.

Helpful to their efforts were continued attempts by ONI Section Zero to access the project databases. James followed these attempted hacks, learning from their mistakes and using them as distractions to keep eyes away from his own work. Slowly, James built up a comprehensive plan on how to infiltrate the entire base network, simultaneously, without being traced. Learning from the mistakes of their failed escape attempt seven years prior, Crimson Team innocuously tested their infiltration program on January 4th. With the program’s effectiveness and anonymity proven, Crimson then waited for the perfect moment, when both Colonel Standoff and Laszlo--the two people most likely to realize something was amiss--were distracted.

That moment came on January 17th, during a routine armory inspection. The trainees were given a brief period of downtime, while Laszlo and Standoff were both in the secluded rear section of the base, inspecting the base’s selection of weapons. Moving quickly, Crimson provided cover for James while he hacked the base’s security system, initiated his program, and started copying files. Because there was no way to know what they were looking for, the SPARTANs were forced to copy everything. The download successful, they closed the program, deleted it from existence, and secured the data in a hidden storage device they had pilfered from the supply ward.

Crimson waited anxiously for several days, anticipating a response. They knew that the hack would have been traceable to the base, leaving ONI out of the question, and that they would likely top Standoff and Laszlo’s list of suspects. But after days of waiting, no response came. No indication that any retaliation was imminent. Unknown to them, Standoff had called off the investigation, suspecting it was Crimson Team--and believing that catching them and reprimanding them would serve little purpose. In his mind, if they wanted information, then they could have it.

Most of the information was encrypted, so it took weeks before the renegade Spartans could decrypt and analyze it. As they did, the final preparations for augmentation--announced to be on July 25th--began. The Spartans honed their specialties, worked on their teamwork, and put the finishing touches on almost eight years of training and hardship. Crimson Team began to understand this hardship, as they hacked and read Colonel Standoff’s private journal, and several of his discrete correspondences with Laszlo. And as they began to understand it, learned facts about the program--and about themselves--that would shake the foundations of their world.

The brief document revealed that many of Roger’s suspicions were not only right, they were underestimated. The project’s budget was close to empty; ONI could not even afford updated augmentation procedures, and was taking a massive risk by using the outdated, Class I era augments. In addition, they learned that many of the candidates--including Maggie and Jacob, fell vastly short of the genetic standards Dr. Halsey had set for potential SPARTANs--resulting in a deadly dangerous game of chance. ONI had left it up to luck to decide which SPARTANs in the group would live or die. Roger’s worst fears were realized.

But it was too late to turn back. Another escape attempt was out of the question--base security had had seven years to fix their problems, and the facility was now sealed tight--and augmentations were imminent. Furthermore, the very real threat of the Covenant--real in the sense that it was a threat to Crimson Team, at least--meant that taking the risk and undergoing augmentation might actually be worth it. Roger presented the others with the information, and asked them what they thought. They all came to the same conclusion as him, even Maggie and Jacob, who were far more likely die in augmentation. They would go into augmentation, knowing the risk, of their own free choice.

As the rest of the Spartan excitedly finished training, and the Top Honors competition began, Crimson Team found themselves weighed down by the knowledge they now held. They knew more about the program than anyone other than Laszlo or Standoff, and more about the world outside as well. Laszlo and Standoff had uncovered different groups of additional Spartan teams, operating under direction supervision from ONI; “black” teams, such as Noble, Royal, Echo, and Gauntlet Teams. Crimson now realized that they were far part of a SPARTAN project that was far from the best run--or the most valuable. While other teams were clandestinely receiving MJOLNIR and funding from different factions of the UNSC, the Ares Teams were relying on decades old augments and being deployed in the cheap, ineffective SPI Armor.

Roger and Crimson now realized just how heavily the cards were stacked against them--and how much Laszlo and Colonel Standoff had done behind the scenes to help them. Crimson had taken a shine to Laszlo, but they still resented him somewhat for his role in the project. Even worse, they were open in their hatred of Colonel Standoff--the man they believed to have orchestrated their kidnapping and induction into the program. Reading through the documents that they had hacked, Crimson realized that Standoff was more similar to them than they had imagined: a hesitant participant, caught up in something to big for him to control. They realized that he had been working for years with their best interest at heart, and that he was deeply pensive about his role in changing their lives.

Still struggling to understand the wealth of information they had uncovered, Crimson was not fully prepared for the beginning of the Top Honors competition. Designed as a way of conclusively testing the combat skills of the SPARTANs before augmentations, Top Honors was modeled on the SPARTAN-III ceremony of the same name and modified to better suit the project’s needs. Placing the ten squads into a ten square kilometer area, the teams were given their choice of weapons and told to eliminate the other teams as quickly as possible. Crimson did poorly initially, losing Maggie and Jacob in a lopsided skirmish with Turquoise Team, before retreating and regrouping. Afterwards, they stayed mobile and managed to eliminate Olive Team through hit-and-run attacks, despite inferior numbers. Shortly afterwards, Crimson was caught in a three way skirmish with Gold, Tan, and Cyan Team, being eliminated by Gold after killing off most of Tan Team. In the end, Crimson finished third, behind Gold and Tan Team, securing a position as one of the top groups in the unit.

With Top Honors concluded, the project moved onto the fourth and final phase: augmentation. On July 25th, the 50 candidates of the Ares Program gathered in the medical wing of Fort Hamill. There, a small army of physicians, medics, and scientists waited to administer the chemical and cybernetic enhancements that would transform them into true SPARTANs. It was the last hurdle in the path to becoming a SPARTAN; it would either make the past eight years of hardship worth it, or make the sacrifices in vain. For Roger, the greatest fear he had was not that he would be injured or killed, but that his team would suffer losses. And, tragically, that fear was realized.

In total, 20 candidates were killed in augmentation. The remaining thirty survived, albeit some with minor scars or defects, which were promptly tended to. On average, each squad lost two members; Crimson mimicked this trend, with Maggie-327 and Jacob-303 both perishing due to uncontrollable bone growth. For Roger, and the rest of the contingent on newly minted SPARTANs, the excitement of success was tempered by the deep mourning over their lost comrades. Despite the casualties, the Covert Ops Group deemed the project an astounding success--30 SPARTANs had been trained and fielded, even in spite of the poor genetic matches and insufficient funding. By all accounts, the program should have suffered at least 50% losses--that so many survived was an incredible success.

But to Roger, and the others, augmentation was a dismal failure. As Roger, James, and Mica collected themselves, they wondered whether they had made the right choice in choosing to undergo augmentation. They did not know; they could not know. Roger felt an immense responsibility for their deaths, because he was the first one to choose to undergo augmentations in spite of the risk--which he knew were lower for him than for the others. This internal conflict made the first few weeks after augmentation a trying time for Roger, delaying Crimson’s deployment. In the end, Roger eventually came to terms with Jacob and Maggie’s deaths by making himself determined to not let them be in vain, and keep the rest of his squad alive.

Finally at peace with himself, Roger and Crimson Team had little time to rest. The Covenant were encroaching on UNSC territory more and more each day, and HIGHCOM desperately needed every available asset in the fight. While the original Class I SPARTAN-IIs, were given seven months to train and adjust to their new augments, Roger’s class was only given one. With some of their time already wasted in mourning, Crimson had to use what little time they had left to rapidly adjust to their new heightened senses, enhanced bodies, and improved reflexes.

Rising to the challenge, the three SPARTANs drilled constantly for three weeks, before they were finally certified by Laszlo as being completely combat ready. By the time they finished, the first squad to leave, Gold Team, had already departed aboard a UNSC Destroyer, and several other teams were preparing for deployment. Receiving their final set of SPI Armor, Roger and Crimson joined the others, finally departing on August 29th. Aboard the UNSC Frigate Grafton, the three SPARTANs were placed into cryo, masqueraded as a group of SPARTAN-IIIs, and for the first time in eight years, left the surface of Tantalus behind. For them, the war with the Covenant had begun.

Human-Covenant War (2548-2553)

Cyrus VII (September 2548)

"Just when you think they can’t get any more disgusting!"
―Roger, meeting Skirmishers for the first time

When Crimson Team entered active duty in August of 2548, the war against the Covenant was in a period of odd stagnation. The Covenant advance, which had rapidly gained ground in the past twenty years, now slowed as the UNSC proved better at hiding it’s colonies from detection and organizing it’s forces to repel the alien horde. Key to this effort was Paris IV, the focal point of what was known as the Parisian line. The Parisian line was the latest line in the sand drawn by HIGHCOM, in the hope that they could repel the Covenant and turn the war around. While this was proving to not be the case, the sector around the Parisian Line was proving to be the center of the war.

As such, planets in the sector around Paris IV were a focal point of UNSC troops and of high priority to the UNSC leadership. One of the planets in this area was Cyrus VII, one of the primary recruitment centers for UNSC ground forces and military police. Renowned for it’s military police schools, top-security military detention facilities, and military technology storage facilities, it was a prize that the UNSC wanted to hold on to very dearly. When a Covenant picket slipped in-system in early August, discovering the colony, the UNSC knew it was only a matter of time before the Covenant launched a full scale assault. Reinforcements were scrambled from all over the nearby sector--including the UNSC Grafton.

Because the Ares Project teams had been deployed as mainline combat units and not dedicated special forces, Crimson Team had no dedicated controller and was subsequently attached to the Grafton’s small contingent of ODSTs--the 122nd Combat Company, a five platoon force of 180 ODSTs whose role was to support the other infantry forces aboard the Grafton during planet side deployments and orbital defense. So, when the frigate Grafton arrived in the Cyrus System on September 10th, 2548, Crimson Team was placed under the command of Colonel Hugo Santiago--a legendary ODST, and leader of the 122nd, who had seen combat at w:c:halo:Harvest, w:c:halo:Arcadia, New Constaninople, Miridem, Skopje, Cadiz, and a host of other engagements. Colonel Santiago had worked extensively with ONI in the past--and seen action alongside SPARTANs on several occasions as a result--and had the good sense not to ask questions about where their new support had come from.

Crimson was just beginning to experience the trademark hostility from the ODSTs when the long awaited Covenant attack finally occurred. Attacking the system with an armada of frigates, destroyers, and light cruisers, they overwhelmed the meager UNSC defense fleet and launched ground forces. In response, what remained of the UNSC fleet--including the Grafton--launched reinforcements. The Covenant, true to their past methods, targeted the biggest population center on the planet--Cyrus City, the capital of the colony and the home of the vast majority of the UNSC assets on the planet.

As the Covenant descended on the city, so did the UNSC forces. Aboard the Grafton, Crimson Team boarded Human Entry Vehicles, and alongside their new ODST Company, descended to the planet. Landing on the outskirts of the city, Crimson encountered heavy resistance and were forced to push their hordes of Covenant infantry as they fought their way towards the city center, where the evacuation of the planet was being coordinated from. UNSC Marines had established a field HQ near the base of the city’s only effective means of escape: an orbital elevator linked to an orbiting space station. The UNSC Fleet had retreated from the majority of it’s engagements, regrouping around the space station and concentrating it’s defense there, to allow the evacuation of refugees and supplies. The 122nd’s objective--and thus Crimson Team’s objective as well--was to fight their way to the base of the elevator and provide reinforcements to the beleaguered marines there.

Attempting to move along the main highway, Crimson Team encountered stiff resistance from Covenant forces moving towards the space tether, and was forced to take an alternate route. “Aggressively retreating, with extreme prejudice” off the highway--falling back and placing explosive charges along the length of the road to delay the Covenant forces--Roger decided to cut through the city’s sprawling industrial district on the way to the city center. This decision came to haunt the small team, however, as they encountered a group of strange, more robust Jackals who were attempting to flee from an unseen group of UNSC troops. Annoyed that other human forces had pushed the odd fighters into their way, Crimson Team dispatched them and continued towards their objective.

Arriving at the temporary HQ, Crimson Team was surprised to find that control of Cyrus City was slowly being regained. Despite overwhelming Covenant numbers, reinforcements from the nearby UNSC Base Camp Xerxes and a distraction of unknown origins were allowing the meager human forces to push the Covenant back. Crimson was hastily redeployed by Colonel Santiago to secure a forward observation point, so that air strikes could be conducted against the fleeing Covenant forces. A squadron of Shortsword bombers were available for support, but needed firing coordinates. Happy to be moving out instead of being forced to share space with the other marines, Crimson moved quickly to the city outskirts, hoping to find high ground with a line of sight on the Covenant extraction zone.

Just as they reached the city limits and took up a position in a high-rise apartment complex, however, the true intention behind the Covenant retreat became clear. As the Covenant infantry began boarding dropships and evacuating the planet, a trio of CCS-class battle cruisers descended from orbit and broke through the UNSC lines. Open firing on the space elevator, Crimson watched helplessly as their new unit and hundreds of refugees were vaporized. As the UNSC forces across the city began a panicked withdrawal, Crimson contacted the Grafton and requested immediate extraction. Boarding a Pelican without much resistance, the dropship returned to the Grafton--now battered and in need of repairs--and joined the remaining survivors. With the UNSC fleet in orbit crushed, the remaining ships regrouped and jumped on a random vector, leaving the planet to be glassed.

Omega Indi (February 2549)

"I heard Tan was there, acting like heroes, showing off---and almost getting themselves killed. I don’t think they ever realized---or cared---that we were there too. [4]"
―Roger, looking back on Operation: RECIPROCITY.

After the loss of Cyrus VII, the UNSC was sent reeling. Thousands of refugees had to be relocated; millions of tons of war material and equipment now needed to be relocated. Even for a military that was by then used to hardship, it was a challenge. The surviving UNSC forces headed for Reach, whose already important role had grown even larger as the infrastructure from fallen colonies was relocated to it’s surface. Arriving in port, Crimson Team was kept chilled down in stasis, as the Grafton underwent a refit to repair the damage sustained at Cyrus.

But two weeks into recovery, on December 29th, a distress call went out from one of the UNSC’s outermost remaining colonies--Omega Indi, a utopian planet of service based industries. The distress signal indicated that the two frigates defending the system--the L. Jenkins and the Gyrules [5] had successfully repelled the Covenant force, a group of small pickets. But, just as with Cyrus VII, the UNSC knew that the Covenant would not wait long to assault the planet, now that they knew of the UNSC presence there. Wasting no time, HIGHCOM gathered all available forces in Reach’s orbit and dispatched them to the system at top speed. Crimson Team, still in cryo, was transferred from aboard the Grafton to a new ship, the destroyer UNSC The Heart of Midlothian. Joining the battle hardened ODSTs embarked on the ship, Crimson Team was brought out of cryo en route to be briefed.

The UNSC Battlegroup, composed of 9 vessels of mixed classification, entered the Omega Indi system in late January to find both the Covenant attackers and the UNSC defenders destroyed. Knowing another attack by the alien horde would not be long, the taskforces began immediate preparation for battle. An ONI Prowler, attached to the fleet, laid an orbital minefield of HORNET Mines, while the rest of the taskforce deployed sensor probes in the hope of detecting Covenant forces early. However, despite repeated requests by Crimson Team to allow them to deploy--Roger and the others hated being stuck on a crowded ship with other people--the taskforce opted to not deploy ground forces, worried that they might get caught on the surface if the battle in orbit turned ugly and be slaughtered in a glassing.

While stuck aboard the Midlothian waiting to deploy, Roger and Crimson Team did their best to occupy themselves--which consisted chiefly of causing mayhem. Bored, the three SPARTANs experimented with different ways of hacking the ship’s computer system. Eventually, the three were able to break into the ship’s secure server, and pull any information they wanted--including duty rosters and troop reports. The results were an unpleasant surprise. One of the other Ares Teams, Tan Team, were also present in the fleet, aboard the courtier UNSC Harriet Tubman. Covertly using the Midlothian’s communications systems, they initiated a remote hack of the Tubman‘s computer system--pranking Tan Team and locking them into a supply closet for several hours. Tan Team, and the crew of the Harriet Tubman, never realized the deception, believing it to be a computer error--but it was enough to keep Crimson Team amused in their downtime.

The laughs ended, however, when the Covenant re-entered the system. On February 2nd, a fleet of multiple Covenant capital ships entered the system at extreme range, scanning the UNSC fleet. The UNSC forces watched them anxiously, prey watching a hunter stalk it before they came in for the kill. After less than an hour, the Covenant fleet jumped again--straight in front of the UNSC lines…and right on top of the UNSC minefield. Capitlazing on the sudden and lucky development, the UNSC fleet detonated the minefield, disabling and damaging the majority of the Covenant vessels. The Covenant ships, knowing their doom to be imminent, launched hundreds of Spirit and Phantom dropships. As the UNSC fleet finished off the damaged Covenant fleet, the dropships broke through, headed for the surface.

Crimson had the satisfaction of being right where the Fleet Admirals had been wrong, but now paid for it with a rapid--and dangerous--deployment. As Covenant forces landed in force and began attacking the defenseless cities, the fleet scrambled it’s ground forces and dispatched them to the surface. The Covenant forces, however, realized that they could not survive the battle, and moved quickly, doing damage where they could and bypassing areas where the UNSC could muster resistance. After days of combat, the UNSC forces had been unable to stop the Covenant forces, who had now attacked 70% of the human cities on the eastern continent.

With limited options, the UNSC deployed marines to all the remaining cities which had not been attacked--a precious few. Crimson Team accompanied the ODSTs aboard another orbital drop, moving to reinforce one of the fringe cities that analysts were predicting the fleeting Covenant force would strike next. There, Crimson Team was put in charge of one of the forward sentry posts--a small outpost on the edge of the city limits, designed to hopefully give the defenders advance warning of an imminent Covenant attack.

After two days of waiting in the small, cramped outpost, Crimson Team had finally had enough. Intercepting a communiqué meant for Tan Team, they realized that while they were stuck defending a backwater outpost, the other SPARTAN squad was being deployed as a hunter-killer unit, with orders to seek out the staging ground of the Covenant forces and call in an orbital strike. Annoyed at the other SPARTANs being deployed--and even more annoyed that they were forced to spend time with a squad of ODSTs--Crimson used their newfound ability to hack the fleet’s computer network and faked a deployment order--for themselves. In the heat of a planetary skirmish, no one noticed the quick change of orders.

Crimson’s new “orders” placed them under the command of a fictional Lieutenant MacMillan [6], a persona the SPARTANs created to allow them to operate freely. Using their fake Lieutenant to requisition a Hornet Attack Flier, the three SPARTANs placed themselves into a forward observation role; they would search for rogue groups of Covenant forces, and direct air strikes against targets of opportunity. Looking through the available list of squadrons, Crimson Team decided to use the 112th Naval Squadron as their primary contact. Faking another set of orders, they transferred the 112th to their command and were soon out hunting Covenant forces.

Using the mobility and relative impunity granted to them by their Hornet and faked orders, Crimson went on a spree of destruction across the Omega Indi countryside. While Tan Team was busy hunting for the main force of Covenant troops, Crimson dealt with the smaller pockets of enemy forces that continued conducting raids on the mainline UNSC forces. Using the deadly skill and accuracy of the 112th bombing runs, Crimson successfully kept the Covenant at bay, buying valuable time for Tan Team and their effort to locate the main Covenant force.

After three days of calling in air strikes and harassing the Covenant raiding parties, Crimson’s job was finally rendered moot. Tan Team, using vague orbital imagery, located the main Covenant force, and called in an orbital strike. Narrowly escaping with their lives, the small Team’s exploits were the talk of the fleet, leaving Crimson to contentedly remain in the background. The less press they got, the easier their lives were. So, as the battle group extracted the remaining ground forces from the surface--most of whom, ironically enough, never even saw combat--Crimson returned their Hornet, and quietly deleted any trace of “Lieutenant MacMillan” or any of his orders. As far as anyone was concerned--aside from a few fighter pilots--Crimson Team had spent the entire battle quietly holed up in an observation post, diligently watching for signs of a Covenant attack.

Magnos Omega (February 2549)

"Yep, that’s a rap. This destroyer is clean!"
―James-319, after finishing the purging of the Destroyer Lancelot.

Even as the last of the ground forces were evacuated from the surface of Omega Indi, trouble was brewing elsewhere. Another colony, Magnos Omega, came under attack by a small but powerful Covenant strike force, necessitating an immediate intervention by the UNSC fleet. As they were the nearest force available, Crimson Team’s taskforce was deployed to help reinforce the defenders. After a brief stint in slipspace and cryo, the human forces emerged in the Magnos System ready for a fight. Initial reports had indicated a large force of opposing Covenant; the battle group came out of slipspace on high alert, ready to engage the moment they arrived.

Instead, the taskforce arrived to a mostly stable situation; in a rare victory, the system’s defense force had beaten off the majority of the enemy craft and were making preparations to assault positions that the Covenant had occupied on the surface. After driving off a stray Covenant frigate, the taskforce rendezvoused with the four remaining system defense vessels and began preparing to deploy it’s own ground forces in support. These forces would be spearheaded by Tan Team, and would attempt to take back several cities that the Covenant had taken control of during the battle.

Crimson Team, however, would not be joining their fellow SPARTANs on the ground. Over the past year, the UNSC Fleet had observed an increasing frequency among Covenant ships to attempt to board human vessels during battle. The Covenant, frustrated by the slowing pace of the war--and having increasingly little luck tracing human signals, thanks to the effort of the ONI Signal Corps--had resorted to boarding human craft in an attempt to recover navigation data that might lead to more colonies. While implementation of the Cole Protocol was strictly enforced across the UNSC fleet, Covenant ships were sometimes able to board human craft quickly enough to capture partial navigation data--something the commander of Crimson Team’s taskforce was determined to not let happen to his force.

In order to maintain the proper level of security, fleet command decided to place Crimson Team on orbital security; in the event of a Covenant boarding party attacking a ship of the fleet, Crimson would be the first to respond, hopefully repelling the aliens quickly enough to keep vital navigation data from falling into enemy hands. Happy to have a role that kept them relatively far away from other UNSC forces, Crimson were garrisoned on one of Magnos Omega’s derelict space stations and given the backing of the taskforce’s most elite fighter squadron--the 112th, who Crimson had worked with earlier without the fleet command’s knowledge.

While the ground forces were enjoying easy victory on the surface, things began took a turn for the worse in orbit. Despite the best efforts of the UNSC force to ambush the Covenant--just as at Omega Indi, the fleet deployed a field of HORNET Mines--their efforts proved unsuccessful and the Covenant forces began to slowly overwhelm the UNSC defenders. Near the beginning of the battle, The Heart of Midlothian suffered critical damage and was forced to leave the system. As the battle progressed, the fleet suffered further losses, including two frigates and a cruiser. Soon, the UNSC forces were trying to delay the Covenant, instead of defeat them.

Sensing their imminent victory, the Covenant fleet acted quickly in an attempt to secure navigation data. Launching a plethora of boarding craft, the Covenant fleet targeted the destroyer UNSC Lancelot, disabling her communications and weapons systems. Crimson Team, bored after watching the naval battle for days, leapt into action. Using the 112th’s Longsword-class Fighter-Bombers as makeshift dropships, the team of SPARTANs boarded the Lancelot, using their SPI Armor’s limited vacuum pressurization to land on the ship’s surface and blow their way inside.

Inside the badly damaged Frigate, the three SPARTANs found the situation critical. Covenant forces had overwhelmed the meager marine security contingent, who were spread thinly across the ship with most of their number fighting below on the planet. Fighting their way through the destroyer, the three SPARTANs cleared the damaged vessel room by room on their way to the bridge. Arriving, the SPARTANs encountered a team of Elite Special Forces , escorting a previously unseen Covenant race. After a pitched battle with the Covenant forces, Crimson Team successfully defeated the Elites and executed the strange floating aliens.

With the threat of a Cole Protocol violation now lifted, Crimson Team turned it’s attention to securing the rest of the ship. Eliminating Covenant forces in the ship’s crew quarters, before proceeding to the hangar, the team of SPARTANs methodically cleared the ship of any alien presence. After eliminating the Covenant forces, Crimson Team signaled for extraction. Members of the 112th, flying through the middle of the ongoing space battle, successfully docked with the destroyer and picked up the SPARTAN team. With the destroyer secure, the UNSC fleet sent a small recovery team to act as a skeleton crew for the wounded destroyer, allowing it to escape from the system and return to Reach.

With the UNSC Fleet suffering heavy casualties and the situation in orbit deteriorating, however, the fleet commanders decided it was time to pull out. With logistics predicting that the entire taskforce would be destroyed no later than February 27th if they remained to fight, the taskforce began the extraction of the ground forces. With The Heart of Midlothian already out of the system, Crimson Team was temporarily embarked on the same ship as Tan Team, the UNSC Harriet Tubman. Deliberately avoiding the other team of SPARTANs, Crimson Team was placed in cryo for the long journey back to Reach.

Crystal (May 2549)

"A damn shame. They used to make torture knives here."
―Roger, watching the glassing of Crystal.

Following it’s disastrous deployment at Magnos Omega, the taskforce Crimson Team had been a part of was dispersed, and the forces reassigned. Aboard the Harriet Tubman, Crimson Team was brought out of cryo and temporarily transferred to a groundside garrison. Tan Team, Crimson learned, was also transferred off the ship, being assigned to an ONI Prowler in preparation for an operation against rebel forces.

Unlike Tan Team, however, Crimson would have to wait longer before it could participate in “true” special operations. The struggling UNSC fleet still needed all the help it could get, and the Covenant were beginning to pick up the pace of their offensive once again. With skirmishes occurring on a half dozen fringe colonies, and the ranks of SPARTAN super soldiers spread dangerously thin, Crimson was a vital asset that needed to be redeployed as soon as possible.

With time of the essence, Crimson team was placed aboard the UNSC Red Horse, an ONI Prowler in system in Reach. After a brief introduction to the ships commander, a newly promoted Commander named Tobias Foucault, the ship departed, heading for the front lines. ONI Prowlers were in high demand by UNSC Fleets--their stealth systems and reconnaissance abilities gave other ships a distinct advantage--and special forces like Crimson were in even higher demand.

Crimson’s first deployment aboard the Prowler would be the colony world Crystal, a weapons manufacturing planet whose facilities were considered key to the UNSC war effort. Involved in the development and production of a wide variety of exotic weapons, Crystal had been under Covenant siege for several months. Sporadic alien attacks continued to be a problem, as the USNC defenders in orbit slowly lost ground, while planetside, marines and army personnel were involved in heavy fighting.

The UNSC Red Horse arrived in Crystal’s system on May 26th, 2549. The orbiting defense fleet was engaged in a pitched battle with a Covenant attack group, and the system was seeing some of the heaviest combat in weeks. With UNSC reinforcements still weeks away, the situation in orbit seemed precarious. One slip up, and the Covenant fleet could have an opening to begin glassing. Despite the risks of deployment, however, Crimson team were loaded aboard one of the Red Horse’s few Pelican dropships and dispatched to the surface alongside the Red Horse’s onboard marine contingent.

Getting into an argument with the marine squad Sergeant on the way down, however, the two groups of soldiers found each other at odds. With a tense relationship made worse by Crimson’s own hostility, the force was shuttled in to the UNSC’s primary command post, a Firebase Delta. Landing, Crimson Team was appraised of the situation. Because of the increasingly frequent Covenant attacks in orbit, the UNSC ground forces had been deprived of orbital support for the past three weeks, leading to Covenant advances throughout the region. Of particular note was the Covenant seizure of the planetary capital, Corsica. Alien forces had secured the city and were using it as a base of operations for their troops, launching increasingly deadly assaults on the UNSC forces. UNICOM was planning an assault within the week on the Covenant fortress, but needed reconnaissance.

With Crimson Team available fort eh job, they were put on the mission as soon as they were finished with their briefing. Evading Covenant patrols as they set out across the countryside, Crimson Team headed straight for the city, bypassing any fighting as arriving in the city within a day. Inside the city limits, Crimson reluctantly followed their orders, spending two days reconnoitering the outer city for signs of Covenant defenses. It was an easy job; never known for their subtlety, the alien horde nevertheless surpassed their earlier efforts and placed a large number of light anti-aircraft guns, heavy aircraft guns, and heavy artillery pieces. Transmitting this data back to the main body of UNSC forces, Crimson ventured further into the city, heading for the industrial district--home to the vast majority of the city’s weapons manufacturing plants and factories.

Inside the factory, Crimson discovered something disturbing. The Covenant had cleared away a huge section of the city, and were employing a team of heavy digging walkers to dig a massive hole in the center of the city. When the generals back at Firebase Delta received Crimson’s visual feed, they realized that something more was at work. It was a well kept secret, but the Covenant forces in orbit had defeated the bulk of the UNSC battle group hours before, and were now in a prime position to glass the planet. No one was sure why they hadn’t yet.

Even as the generals deliberated, however, Roger decided to take matters into his own hands. Infiltrating the remains of a factory that had produced Shiva-class nuclear missiles. Gathering as much ordnance as they could, including three nuclear warheads, Crimson set a remote timer on the bombs and placed them near the center of the city. Not waiting for further orders, Crimson hastily exfiltrated from the city, bypassing the Covenant fortifications and heading for the UNSC lines. Retreating to a safe distance, the small team of SPARTANs detonated the Shiva nukes.

In the predawn darkness, a temporary sunrise briefly illuminated the landscape. In the center of Corsica, the combined explosive power of three Shiva nukes--over 150 megatons--exploded simultaneously. In an instant, the once elegant city was vaporized and blasted away. Crimson Team--especially James--reveled in the sight of the explosion, before returning to Firebase Delta.

Instead of a victory celebration, however, Crimson Team arrived to a panic. The Covenant Fleet, in response to the attack, had moved in once more, decimating the human defenders. A trio of Covenant cruisers had broken through the orbital lines, and already commenced glassing specific areas. With the threat of glassing now looming, UNICOM was hastily pulling the ground forces out. Crimson Team were brought aboard a Pelican and returned to the Red Horse, mission completed, but battle lost. As the human evacuation dodged attacks from Seraph fighters, the remaining ships of the fleet gathered together at the edge of the system. Managing to make their way to the observation deck before the fleet jumped, Roger and his friends watched somberly as the planet was slowly destroyed by Covenant bombardment. For the second time, Crimson witnessed an entire planet dying.

Omega Zeta Beta (July 2549)

"What’s with the names of stuff here? Did they run out of perfectly good normal words or something? [7]"
―James-319, remarking on the name of the factory Alpha Omega Lambda.

With more and more planets near or around the Parisian line falling to Covenant assault, the UNSC lost what little momentum it had had and began falling back across many of it’s colonial fronts. Inner colonies, once considered shining examples of Human achievement and progressed, now burned before the unstoppable Covenant juggernaut. Fresh from their recent defeat at Crystal, the majority of the crew of the UNSC Red Horse was eager for revenge. Crimson Team, who had purposefully isolated themselves from the rest of the crew, felt ambiguous. They wanted to pad their kill count, of course, but felt no desire for revenge. No one they cared about had been killed at Crystal, after all.

When the colony of Omega Zeta Beta came under attack, however, Crimson Team’s opinion on the matter didn’t matter to the rest of the crew. Regrouping with the remains of the fleet from Crystal in an interstellar space, the Red Horse brought itself to combat readiness and jumped towards Omega Zeta Beta. After a painfully cramped two weeks in slipspace, the UNSC fleet arrived at the Omega Zeta Beta system, finding the battle already well underway.

With heavy fighting occurring in orbit, the UNSC was attempting to evacuate what civilians and war materials it could from the planet’s surface. Heavy fighting was occurring all over human territory on the planet, but of particular note was a Covenant incursion in the manufacturing city of Lambda Omega Prime [8] . UNSC forces had been attempting to delay the Covenant and buy time for the civilian evacuation, but so far had had little success. The Covenant had deployed massed waves of Grunts as suicide infantry, and low on ammo, the marines in the city were in danger of being overrun. In an attempt to stall the Covenant forces further, Crimson Team was deployed.

Landing in the city with the broad orders of “interfere with enemy operations and buy time for friendly evacuation”, Crimson set to work. Engaging the Covenant forces in street-to-street combat, Crimson Team used their superior training--and knowledge of the terrain--to outwit and outmaneuver the Covenant forces. Despite Crimson Team personally dispatching hundreds of Grunt fighters, however, the continued intensity of the alien assault eventually proved to be to much for the rest of the human forces. As the marine defenders fell back to the city spaceport, Crimson covered their retreat, flanking and attacking the Grunt hordes while they attempted to chase down the marines.

After hours of intense combat, the evacuation of the city was nearing completion, and the UNSC began a temporary surge. Pushing with their remaining forces, the marines in the city pushed outward, securing a larger perimeter. As waves of Pelican, Albatross, and Pod dropships descended en masse to the surface, the ground forces for a moment thought the battle won. The Covenant had other plans, however; finally deploying the bulk of their forces, the human ground forces suddenly found themselves faced with large numbers of Jackals, Elites, and Hunters and were forced to fall back once more.

As the landing zone for the evacuation dropships suddenly became hot, several dropships were lost to enemy fire. Crimson Team, now stuck behind enemy lines after the marines were forced back, headed to the site of one of the many crashed dropships in search of supplies. Retrieving a crate of M19 Rocket Launchers from the crash site of the nearest destroyed Pelican, the three SPARTANs used the heavy weapons to clear a way to the marine lines. As they were linking back up with the marine forces, however, the Covenant began a hasty retreat. Recognizing the behavior from their first engagement in Cyrus City, Crimson Team requested extraction and were subsequently returned to the Red Horse.

Crimson Team’s intuition proved correct, as they learned on the brief but harrowing ride back to the Prowler. The UNSC defenders had once again been bested in space, and the Covenant were moving in, preparing to glass the surface. Despite heavy casualties, the withdrawl of the Covenant ground forces had given the UNSC forces to complete the evacuation of Lambda Omega Prime, allowing a few thousand civilians and several hundred tons of war material to be saved. As the remaining ground forces from the planet returned to their respective ships, the human fleet was forced to watch, impotently, as the Covenant began glassing the planet. With no options remaining, the human forces jumped out of the system, abandoning yet another colony world and moving one step closer to extinction.

Algolis (August 2549)

Roger: "Everyone grab a suit and get it on as fast as possible. Then we gather the leftovers and get up to the ship. And then we start working on keeping it."
Mica: "How do you intend to do that?"
Roger: "Simple. Lie."
— Roger and Mica after discovering the MJOLNIR Mark V prototypes.

The mood aboard the Red Horse was somber during the return trip to Reach, with thoughts of the lost colony world weighing heavily on everyone’s mind--with the exception of Roger and Crimson Team, who had trouble sympathizing with people whose government conscripted children to act as super soldiers. Following an unusually quick jump back to Reach, Crimson Team was greeted with a pleasant surprise. ONI --or more specifically, Admiral Rich’s Covert Operations Group--finally had a true special forces assignment for them. Relieved to finally be performing in the role they were best suited for, Crimson Team gladly put themselves under ONI control. They had no love for the organization that had orchestrated their kidnapping and training, but if the spooks gave them missions that would allow them to avoid working with other UNSC forces, then they would be able to look past their negative feelings.

And as Crimson Team was summoned to Reach for a briefing, they learned that their mission would indeed be a promising one. Three weeks earlier, Covenant forces had attacked and overwhelmed the fringe colony of Algolis, a harsh, barren world that had been a focal point for the testing of advanced weaponry prototypes. Though not the fact was not widely publicized, the Covenant had occupied the planet, presumably in order to search out and study any UNSC technology that might have been left over from the battle. ONI Section III was alarmed by this development for a variety of reasons, but in particular because of the material that the Covenant might discover. In the time leading up to the battle, Section III had begun experimenting with leftover Mjolnir prototypes at Weapons Research Facility T12A. These prototype suits were especially important to ONI because they were early models of what would eventually become the Mark V Armor--including the suit’s most famous innovation, prototype energy shields.

Ironically, Crimson Team was already aware of the presence of the Mjolnir prototypes at Algolis. Years earlier, Colonel Standoff and Laszlo had uncovered evidence of the suits--evidence that Crimson had become aware of after their data hack during training. Careful not to expose their knowledge of the suits, Crimson listened to ONI’s briefing and played along with the spooks. After receiving a thorough briefing on the suits, Crimson was given their orders. With support from the Red Horse, Crimson was to infiltrate the Algolis system, covertly enter the weapons testing facility, and destroy the Mjolnir prototypes to deny the Covenant access to them.

Crimson Team had every intention of locating the suits, but they realized that destroying them would be a waste of a tremendous opportunity. So, boarding the Red Horse--whose crew was being kept in the dark of the mission, thanks to ONI--Roger and his teammates made preparations for what would prove to be Crimson’s most audacious move yet. Keeping to themselves and deflecting Commander Foucault’s subtle attempts to ask them about the mission, Crimson pored over the intelligence data that ONI had given them, plotting their operation out. As the Red Horse jumped towards Algolis, the three SPARTANs found themselves happy for the first time in months.

The Red Horse arrived in the Algolis system on August 19th, 2549. It had been almost a year since Crimson Team had been originally deployed, and the SPARTANs were well on their way to becoming battle hardened veterans. Their abilities had not escaped the eyes of ONI, either. While other units were doing somewhat better--notably Tan and Gold Teams--it had still been no coincidence that Crimson had been selected for the Algolis mission. But while ONI had chosen them for their combat skills, it was a choice the shadowy agency would come to regret.

Despite an initial victory on the ground, the UNSC had abandoned the Algol system shortly after the conclusion of the battle, and the Covenant had wasted no time occupying it. Slipping in system under the cover of stealth, the Red Horse carefully worked it’s way in system. Threading it’s way through clusters of debris from the first battle, and using it’s stealth systems to avoid Covenant patrols, the first few hours of Crimson’s mission were tense. If discovered, the Red Horse was practically defenseless; armed with only a set of Shiva-class nuclear missiles and a small compliment of Archer Missiles, the Prowler would be a sitting duck.

The skill of the Red Horse paid off, however, and the Prowler arrived in orbit over Algolis three hours after entering the system. Gearing up, the three SPARTANs boarded Specially Stealth Coated HEVs and were dropped to the surface. Landing a short distance away from the ONI Weapons facility, Crimson Team stealthily advanced towards the facility, evading Covenant ground forces and entering the weapons facility undetected. Along the way, the team of SPARTANs marveled at the destruction wrought by the previous battle, including a massive bomb crater where a UNSC Marine had detonated the self destruct system in an experimental ONI Weapons system.

"Wow, didn’t they think it was overkill to put a nuke in the suit, just so no one else could use it?[9]"
―James-319, remarking on the large detonation of the Protototype Suit

Evading more Covenant patrols inside the base, Crimson headed for the remains of ONI’s weapons storage facility, where their Section III briefing had indicated they would find the experimental MJOLNIR armor. Quietly dispatching a Covenant patrol, Crimson Team made use of a hidden entrance to access the secure storage facility. Inside, just as ONI had predicted, were ten suits of experimental, mix-matched MJOLNIR. However, while ONI had ordered Crimson Team to destroy the suits, Roger had no intention of letting the armor go to waste. With the Covenant still unaware of the weapons storage facility and oblivious to Crimson’s presence, the team of SPARTANs had plenty of time.

Though it normally required an entire team of dedicated technicians to help someone don a suit of MJOLNIR, Crimson did not have that luxury and thus spent the next several hours learning how to equip their suits. Choosing whichever of the mix matched suits fit them the best--or whichever they took a fancy to--Crimson Team slowly donned their suits. After donning the suits of armor, Roger ordered Mica and James to destroy three of the remaining prototypes, and take recordings of the destruction, which they would use as evidence for ONI that their mission had been complete. Meanwhile, Roger moved the five remaining suits deeper into the storage facility, and hid them carefully. Outfitted not only with MJOLNIR armor, but MJOLNIR armor that was far more advanced than any seeing use with other SPARTAN units, the three SPARTANs happily left the storage facility, sealed the entrance, and set about returning to the Red Horse.

The remainder of the mission was uneventful, as Crimson Team evaded the thinly spread Covenant patrols on their way to a pre-set extraction point. While it was an adjustment for the team to use MJOLNIR--forcing them to rely on more basic evasion skills, without the cloaking technology of the SPI--the SPARTANs nevertheless made it to their extraction zone without alerting the Covenant to their presence. Contacting the Red Horse, the Prowler dispatched a custom Pelican dropship, outfitted with stealth technology to avoid radar, to pick them up. Linking up with the dropship, the team returned to the Red Horse, ready to set the second stage of their heist in motion.

Though the crew of the Red Horse was unaware of the exact nature of the SPARTAN’s mission, and thus would have no reason to suspect them of any deception, the team knew that mention of their acquisition would likely find it’s way into Commander Foucault’s after action report. Knowing that time was limited, and that ONI finding out about their theft would be disastrous, Crimson Team contacted the only person they knew that would be able to help them: Colonel Standoff. Thanks to their data hack during training, Crimson was aware that Standoff sympathized with his Ares Teams far more than her let on, and that he had had Laszlo teach him how to intercept messages in transit and edit them. Contacting Standoff the moment they returned to the Red Horse, they explained their actions and asked him to redact Foucault’s after action report, to eliminate all traces of their heist.

Crimson had read Standoff correctly, and he indeed cared enough about his troops to lie for them. Seizing and redacting the after action report, Standoff erased any trace of Crimson’s deception--and going further, promised to continue doing so, and redact any documents that might expose the three SPARTANs. Genuinely grateful for the assistance, Crimson Team, and Roger in particular, added Standoff to the ranks of people whom they actually cared about--which at the time, included only themselves and Laszlo. So, as the crew of the Red Horse gossiped and stared in awe at the sleek new battle armor that the SPARTANs carried, Roger and his teammates returned to their quarters, happy with their work.

Pearl III (November 2549)

"Damn, these guys just keep showing up, don’t they?[10]"
―James, remarking on the 112th Naval Squadron’s presence in several of their operations.

Following their successful heist at Algolis, Crimson Team knew that they would need to remain out of the spotlight to keep ONI off their backs. Even with Standoff redacting their after action report, all it would take would be a single misplaced comment--or one visit by an upper echelon ONI member--to reveal them. So, as the Red Horse covertly left the Algol system behind, Crimson decided they would hide in plain sight--that is to say, among the ranks of standard marines and army troops who would not know enough to reveal them.

Crimson put in a request for a transfer to frontline duty, with a preference for missions in contested territory. Such areas would be high risk, chaotic, and bursting with frontline combat--the perfect situation for Crimson to hide in. With a little help from their new ally, Colonel Standoff, they managed to get their request sent directly to Admiral Rich, their overall commander. With Rich on their side, Crimson was subsequently able to get their desired posting--and mid transit back to Reach, the Red Horse was given new orders: head directly for the Pearl System.

Home to a variety of unique, crystal moons--thus warranting it’s name--the Pearl system had been under Covenant siege for quite some time. Three years prior, Covenant forces had attacked the system, glassing two of the outlying colonies before UNSC forces were able to drive them away in a naval engagement. Since then, sporadic Covenant raids had served to show the UNSC that while the Covenant was preoccupied with other fronts, they had not forgotten the system. With intelligence from the ONI Signal Corps indicating that a larger Covenant attack was inbound, the UNSC was beefing up forces in the system, reinforcing it’s defensive battle group and putting several reactionary fleets on standby.

Crimson Team arrived in the Pearl system in early November, and was transferred to the system’s only remaining habitable colony--the small, but highly populated, planet Pearl III. Dispatched to the capital city and placed under the command of the local UNSC special forces commander--a veteran ODST by the name of Major Silva, Crimson Team found themselves in the awkward position. The ODSTs were known for their dislike of SPARTANs, but Silva’s group was especially vocal about their opinions. Tension was high, and Crimson’s abrasive attitude did little to change the ODST’s minds about SPARTANs and their arrogance.

Three days into their stay in the capital city, however, the Covenant force ONI had been predicting finally arrived. A trio of Covenant cruisers slipped in system, and began to engage the UNSC defenders. The naval battle quickly turned to a stalemate as the opposing fleets cautiously avoided each other, both waiting to see what happened on the ground before they risked engaging. On the surface, however, things began to heat up quickly. Covenant dropships, launched from the Covenant cruisers, broke through the orbital line and began an attack on the planet.

As cities across the surface of Pearl III came under attack, Covenant forces landed outside the capital city as well. Establishing a foothold in the area around the capital, the Covenant began a full strength push to destroy the UNSC defenders. The Covenant forces, however, were unprepared for the sheer ferocity of the human soldiers. For all their harsh condemnation of Crimson Team, Major Silva’s ODSTs made up for their aggressiveness with their combat skills. Fighting back against the Covenant wherever they appeared, the small band of ODSTs brutally repelled the Covenant--ironically, leaving little action for Crimson, who adamantly refused to work with the ODSTs.

With Covenant forces mostly repelled within the first few days of their landing around the capital, it soon turned into a makeshift field HQ for the other human forces on the planet. The other cities on Pearl III had not fared as well as the capital; many were overrun, or entrenched in deep fighting. As UNSC forces rallied in the capital, Major Silva--hoping to get the antagonizing Crimson Team out of his way--put Roger and his team on patrol outside the city. Roger and Crimson, for their part, were happy to be rid of the Major and his ODSTs--they reminded them a little to strongly of themselves for their own good.

With Covenant forces still present in the foothills around the capital, Crimson was dispatched to root them out. Refusing all assistance, and coining their signature phrase, “Point us at the enemy, and stay out of our way.” along the way, Crimson spent several days in the backcountry, tracking and hunting down Covenant stragglers. After three days of constant raids and severe losses, the Covenant grew tired of the annoyance, and attempted to set a trap for the humans. Despite the presence of several Hunter pairs, the three SPARTANs were nonetheless able to escape and later eliminate the enemy forces.

Just as the situation seemed to be stabilizing, however, events in orbit took a turn towards disaster. The three Covenant cruisers that had been launching troops, but avoiding contact with the human forces, now received reinforcements. A host of destroyers, frigates, and two Assault Carriers jumped in system, and launched an overwhelming attack. With the planet in danger of falling, Crimson Team was extracted from the capital city, alongside Silva’s ODST division, and sent to awaiting transports. The UNSC forces began preparing to withdraw, when unexpected assistance arrived.

Just as the battle was turning in the Covenant’s favor, five ships from the UNSC Southwestern Fleet arrived in system, and accelerated straight for the fifteen plus Covenant ships. Unknown to Crimson Team or the other defenders on Pearl III, the small taskforce was a test on behalf of Tan Team. Watching a readout on their Pelican dropship, Roger and his squad mates watched as the newcomers launched swarm of Longsword fighters, which in turn fired a massive salvo of SHIVA Nukes. Instead of detonating harmlessly on the shields of the enemy craft, however, these missiles slipped under the shields by penetrating around the charging Covenant plasma guns. The human fleet jumped to slipspace, just as the Covenant fired their weapons, eliminating any chance the aliens might have held of fighting back.

The effect was devastating; the explosion from the nukes was sufficient to eradicate the entire Covenant force, save for a few fringe destroyers. But the success carried an unexpected drawback; the EMP from the missiles passed through the Covenant shields, and struck the Longswords that had fired the salvo. Instantly, hundreds of human fighters were dead in space--and easy pickings for the Covenant survivors. Crimson Team’s pelican pilot took the initiative, and moved to attempt to rescue some of the survivors--but the dropship was struck by pulse laser fire en route. Escaping in their sealed MJOLNIR armor, Crimson watched as Covenant forces open fired on the field of disabled fighters, drawing closer and closer to hitting them.

But before Crimson could be targeted, the small group of UNSC ships returned, executing a slipspace jump and arriving dangerously close to the battle. Unable to rescue the drifting pilots--and Crimson Team--directly, the fleet deployed a group of elite EABTs, special forces EVA teams--alongside none other than Tan Team, who had planned the operation. Now facing another, fairly even, orbital battle, the Covenant fleet decided to focus on the UNSC fleet, and deployed it’s own EVA troops to the field of disabled ships, before turning it’s attention to the human capital ships.

Over the next half an hour, Crimson Team made their way through the debris field of the destroyed fighters and Covenant ships, killing any Covenant in their way and heading for the rear of the UNSC lines, hoping for extraction. When they arrived, however, they were pressed into service, and spent the next hour fighting alongside several thousand EABTs to rescue any survivors of the EMP, against waves of Covenant infantry. Included in this rescue were multiple members of the 112th Naval Squadron, the same unit Crimson had worked with before--a coincidence noted by James-319. All the while, Crimson was careful to avoid the notice of Tan Team--who might ask uncomfortable questions, both to Crimson and to their superiors, about where Roger and his friends had acquired their armor.

As the last pilots were pulled from the crippled husks of their fighters, Crimson fell back to the now battered rescuing fleet. With the Pearl III defense fleet now reduced to wreckage, Crimson hitched a ride aboard the nearest UNSC craft, as the almost crippled fleet limped out of the system and jumped into slipspace. As they did so, the remaining Covenant forces headed for the surface, and began to glass the major cities. Over the next two weeks, two million civilians would be killed as the Covenant slowly reduced the planet to molten slag.

Paris IV (December 2549)

Mica: "Look alive, another hunter pair dead ahead"
James: "I‘m starting to hate these guys"
Roger: "What do you mean starting too?"
James, Roger and Mica fleeing from Covenant forces on Paris IV.

While the rest of the fleet was slated to return to Epsilon Eridanus for immediate redeployment, Crimson Team’s craft was determined to be to badly damaged to make the journey. So, the ship instead headed to the much closer Paris IV; an inner colony world, and the keystone of the Parisian line, it would have the necessary facilities to make repairs. Arriving in the system, they were towed to the nearest orbital station, and given an immediate refit. Stuck aboard the ship as it was being repaired, Crimson Team again amused themselves by wreaking havoc on the system’s security systems, hacking computer terminals and playing pranks on whoever struck their fancy.

At the same time, they used their hacking to keep tabs on how the war was progressing in their sector. Covenant forces had been venturing nearer and nearer to Paris IV lately--culminating in two UNSC Special Forces engagements, the Operation: UNSAFE HARBOUR and the Battle of the new Tokyo Gas Mines, both of which involved a fellow Ares Team, Turquoise Team. As such, Roger and Crimson knew that it was a distinct possibility that the Covenant might arrive before their repairs were complete--leading them to arrange for a transfer to a barracks closer to the ship’s escape pods.

Crimson Team’s hunch proved correct, when on December 25th, Covenant forces arrived in the system. The system defense fleet rushed to engage the enemy, but found themselves lured into a trap. Just as they passed into weapons range, a set of Covenant troop transports slipped past them and headed straight for the surface. While the human forces desperately attempted to counter the unexpected move, Covenant troops headed for the surface and Seraph fighters began launching attacks on orbital installations. As the alien interceptors descended on Crimson Team’s badly damaged vessel, an evacuation order was issued. Roger and his team secured an escape pod and fled the dying vessel.

Meanwhile, on the ground, Covenant forces were making steady progress against the UNSC defenders. Despite the heavy marine and army presence, the Covenant were taking advantage of the element of the surprise and were overwhelming the humans before they could regroup and organize. Crimson, hunkered down in their escape pod, evaded fire from Covenant air patrols and headed for the nearest flat ground they could find. Landing in a small town dead center in the path of the Covenant advance, Crimson Team were forced to evade Covenant patrols as they headed for UNSC territory.

Fighting their way through alien forces, Crimson regrouped with a militia evacuation convoy, hitching a ride as it headed out of town. Aboard, they learned that the frigate Stalwart Dawn had landed and was being used to coordinate relief efforts. However, before the convoy could reach it’s destination, the Covenant again interrupted their plans. Banshee fighters strafed the convoy as it moved through a city suburb, and the transports were easy targets in the tight confined space. Bailing out of the back of a burning warthog, Crimson gathered the shell-shocked marines and attempted to fight the enemy craft off. Without anti-air weaponry, however, they were forced to fall back and abandon the transports.

Heading off on foot, Crimson Team led a small group of marines and refugees across the battered suburb, fighting their way through increasingly thick Covenant forces. Making their way to their objective under heavy fire, reinforcements from the landed frigate arrived and brought them in. With the area growing unsafe, the UNSC decided to pull their forces out of the area, and Crimson and their entourage barely made it aboard before the ship left the area.

With the planet’s surface becoming an increasingly dangerous place and the situation in orbit uncertain at best, the UNSC commanders decided to focus their efforts on evacuating civilians while they were still able. One major point of contention that the Generals on the ground ranked highly was the city of New Paris, a large city on the southwestern continent. Home to a population of over 3 million civilians, it had been a focal point of the Covenant’s attack. Army forces in the city had been fighting a delaying action, but were being pushed back to their last stronghold, the city’s spaceport. There, the local constabulary forces were coordinating the evacuation of the city. If the army didn’t receive reinforcements, the Covenant would overrun the spaceport and slaughter the refugees there.

On December 17th, one day after the initial Covenant attack, the UNSC launched a counter offensive to reinforce the beleaguered army forces. Marine expeditionary forces would be dispatched from forces in orbit, with Crimson Team being deployed concurrently from their frigate to spearhead the force. They would be charged with disabling and eliminating Covenant tactical assets, so that the marines would be able to operate without fear of artillery or anti air fire. Meanwhile, the Stalwart Dawn would stay on station to provide heavy aerial support.

In the dead of the morning, Crimson Team boarded HEV pods and headed for the surface. Fierce combat had already embroiled the city; a miscommunication had resulted in the marine forces launching thirty minutes early. Ground and air forces had encountered heavy resistance; casualties were quickly escalating. Instead of preparing the battlefield for the conventional forces, Crimson now was in charge of reinforcing them. Landing near the center of the city, Crimson fought their way towards the Covenant lines, hoping to reach and disable the Covenant anti-air artillery. Unless it was destroyed, the frigate would not be able to assist them.

Despite their best efforts, however, the three SPARTANs were unable to make it to the gun. Overwhelming Covenant forces blocked their path, and the team was forced to retreat. Regrouping with the main bulk of the marines at their field HQ, Crimson Team was hastily pushed into service defending it. With the outer pockets of marines eliminated, the aliens launched a full scale assault on the position. With thousands of civilians counting on them, Crimson was placed at the crux of the HQ’s defenses. Rallying at the sight of the three armored supersoldiers, the marine defenders took up entrenched positions and boldly dared the Covenant to come after them.

The alien horde naturally obliged, and a near three hour bloodbath ensued. Waves upon waves of Covenant forces assaulted the human position, pounding the defenders with constant assaults. Despite their numerical inferiority, however, a number of factors conspired to save them. The initial Covenant assault, heavy with armored vehicles, was repelled with help from Crimson, and the wreckage of the Covenant tanks and hovercraft stifled their approach. As ammunition began to run dry, Crimson braved heavy fire to retrieve weapons off of fallen Covenant troops, supplying the defenders with fresh armaments.

The siege was finally broken when additional UNSC forces arrived on the Covenant’s rear flank and executed a daring assault. Unknown to Crimson and the Marines at the HQ, the Stalwart Dawn had hard dropped two squads of Marines from it’s security contingent, at the request of their commander, Staff Sergeant Avery J. Johnson. While none of the Marines of the contingent were dedicated ODSTs, they all agreed to ride HEVs for the short trip to relieve their comrades on the ground. Upon landing, the small force had attacked a Covenant weapon’s depot and acquired heavy weapons. Using these weapons, they assaulted the rear of the Covenant siege force--Avery Johnson himself acquired, and used up, an entire crate of Covenant plasma grenades--forcing a break that Crimson Team then personally exploited, carving a narrow corridor in the Covenant lines and ensuing mayhem in close quarters combat.

Still in need of the fire support from the Stalwart Dawn, Crimson Team left the HQ under the defense of the Marines and made a lightning-quick raid on the anti-air defenses. With Covenant ground forces distracted by their failing siege, Crimson was able to bypass the large force that had impeded them earlier, and successfully destroyed the Covenant air defense network. With the skies open, the Stalwart Dawn descended and rained death on Covenant infantry with the close air bombardment the alien’s themselves had used on so many occasions. With air superiority now giving them a firm edge on the Covenant, the Marines rolled out and secured the city. Scattered fighting continued for nearly another week, but by the 23rd, the city was firmly held and the civilian populace had been nearly evacuated.

However, Crimson’s tour of duty on Paris IV still had one final stage. The siege of the system was attracting a number of SPARTAN unit’s, including a fellow Class III Team, Turquoise. While Roger’s squad had been busy defending the more populous New Paris, the other SPARTANs had been leading UNSC troops in Capital City. Crimson was dispatched to the outskirts of the city, to act as scouts for the defenders inside the well fortified capital. Making use of a Warthog and whatever spare equipment they could find, they spent three days searching the Paris IV countryside.

Finally, late on the 26th, shortly after filing a status report to Colonel Standoff, Crimson detected the Covenant offensive. Alien forces were massing in old industrial territories outside the city limits, including five behemoth Scarab walkers. Attempting to get in close to the alien force, Crimson was detected and attacked. With enemy forces hot on their tail, they were unable to signal back to the city about the attack force. A close call with a Wraith blast destroyed their Warthog, and the three SPARTANs were eventually pinned down on the shores of the Parisian Sea.

In the ensuing standoff, Mica-311 was wounded and Roger was forced to cover his team while James evacuated her. Fighting off a number of Covenant Elites--whose energy swords he began to take a liking to--in what was quickly beginning to look like a final stand, Roger ran dry of ammo and received an energy sword slash to his leg. Just as the Elite warriors were close to finishing the lone SPARTAN, however, timely reinforcements saved him. Another meandering Special Warfare team of ODSTs, led by a curiously quiet operator in RKD’s experimental HAYABUSA armor, had been drawn to the fighting, and arrived with Gauss Warthogs and finished off the Covenant.

Not stopping to acknowledge his saviors, Roger moved out along to beach and linked back up with his squad. Crimson Team, battered and bruised, attempted to call for extraction, but were rudely shocked when their request was denied. Covenant forces had attacked Capital City and airdropped all five Scarabs deep downtown. Turquoise Team, they learned, was attempting to fend off the assault, but even their well reinforced perimeter was falling before the nigh-unstoppable assault of five of the walkers. Wary of wading into such a bloodbath, Roger directed his squad to the nearest evacuation port, rather than return to the city.

Linking up with UNSC army forces overseeing the evacuation of civilians from the countryside, Roger and his teammates were shuttled up to the nearest orbiting craft, the carrier UNSC Stalingrad. Vice Admiral Carl “Buster“ Patterson, had ordered all groundside UNSC troops to evacuate to his ship, and had dumped a number of fighter and bomber craft from hangar bays to make room. Joining the exodus of human soldiers as they boarded the over cramped carrier, Crimson Team clung to the shadows and did their best to stay out of the way, conscious of their conspicuous MJOLNIR armor.

Catching rogue SPARTANs proved to be the least of the fleet’s worries, as Covenant forces arrived and overwhelmed the UNSC orbital position. With both ground and orbital fronts collapsing, command made the decision to pull up stakes across the entire planet. The protracted defensive effort had resulted in significant civilian evacuations, but another world burned nonetheless. For Crimson Team, it had been a harrowing mission, their most dangerous so far. Even with advanced armor, they had still narrowly escaped death. Their survival, they all agreed, was thanks to their gear, and proof enough for Roger that he had made the correct call on Algolis. Filing a report to Colonel Standoff and forwarding relevant details for him to watch for in his screenings, they settled into cryo sleep in preparation for their next mission.

Verent (March 2550)

Mica: "Definitely another methane depot. Looks like we’re on the right track"
Roger: "That means we get to kill some more stuff, right?"
―Mica and Roger during deployment on Verent.

As time passed with Crimson Team in cryo sleep, the UNSC continued to fight a losing war. Days turned to weeks, weeks turned to months, and more and more colonies dropped out of contact as they were assaulted by Covenant fleets. Fortification of systems proved nigh impossible, so any advance warning led to the strongest possible response. Thus, when the outlying colony of Verent came under attack by a band of Kig-Yar privateers, a taskforce of twelve ships was immediately deployed to counter the inevitable second attack.

With the crew of the Stalingrad inundated with orphaned units after Paris IV, Crimson Team had managed to enter cryo sleep without being officially logged in the personnel register. The overwhelmed crew--interested as they were in the three soldiers who were clearly SPARTANs--simply decided to pass the matter upstairs, and when Vice Admiral Patterson queried ONI on the matter, Colonel Standoff intercepted the message and faked a reply. The three SPARTANs were absorbed into an amalgamated company of orphaned special forces troops and left alone.

When the Stalingrad arrived at Verent alongside the taskforce, Crimson Team was awoken and informed of their changed situation. Staying aloof and mysterious, they avoided interacting with the crew and waited for the chaos of the battle to come to give them an opening to find a less curious group. They were worried about spending so much time around a ranking officer like an Admiral, which was almost as dangerous to their secrecy as working with ONI agents.

Such an opportunity arrived with the Covenant’s attack in early March. On March 9th, a trio of Covenant CCS-class cruisers and several frigates arrived and assaulted the planet. Reeling from an unexpected advanced attack force of Seraph fighters, the Stalingrad was forced to deploy it’s ground forces prematurely. As the battle in orbit turned into a brawl for supremacy, Covenant forces landed in force and began massacring civilians. Still preoccupied with getting clear of Admiral Patterson, Roger volunteered for a hot-drop alongside the ship’s contingent of ODSTs--now mixed with assorted Paris IV units--and was approved for an attack on a Covenant advance position.

The plan was a bold one: drop with less than two companies of ODSTs to back them up, inside a Covenant camp. The aliens had set up a temporary command post the size of a small town, and were poised to attack a city of ten million civilians. Technically, the plan was to drop in, cause as much havoc as possible, as quickly as possible, and then evacuate to a nearby valley where Pelicans would be waiting for exhilaration, but it was widely acknowledged as little more than a suicide mission to delay the enemy. Crimson Team was confident in their ability to escape, however, and that was all that mattered.

On March 11th, with the plan set to go, the Stalingrad maneuvered into as low an orbit as it could manage and prepared to drop the pods. An orbital drop from the carrier was a uniquely complicated proposition; the Stalingrad had never been designed as a troop transport, and only carried SOEIVs because Patterson had insisted on their inclusion in case of emergency. The Vice Admiral had wisely predicted that the immense size of a carrier might one day be useful as an emergency troop transport, and wanted to be prepared. Posing an additional challenge was the massive tonnage of the vessel; constructed in dry-dock in space, the Stalingrad was not designed to enter atmosphere. As a result, the drop would be done from extremely high orbit, triple the usual distance. Chances for catastrophic error increased tremendously.

As if the universe was conspiring against the mission, the Stalingrad took a plasma torpedo round to the port side as it moved in and dropped the pods in an erratic pattern. On the descent to the planet, a quarter of the orbital drop pods were knocked out of the sky by anti-aircraft fire or veered off course. Roger and James landed, miraculously, intact and on course--but Mica was no where to be seen. In the chaos of the unfolding surprise attack, Roger feared the worst.

With ODSTs dropping in all around and surprised Covenant pouring out of buildings, many without armor or weapons, Roger finally was able to signal Mica and discover she had landed a kilometer and a half off course, well across the camp. With communications spotty and the camp turning into a melee, they decided it would be best to move separately to a rendezvous near the far edge of the camp. By moving quickly, they would hopefully stay ahead of the Covenant’s reaction.

For Roger and James, it was a simple affair. Moving quickly, catching the Covenant by surprise, and with the doomed ODSTs creating an excellent distraction, they plowed their way through hordes of ill-prepared aliens. After two battles working in full MJOLNIR, they were now experts in it’s usage. They knew it’s strengths, limitations, and how much they could get away with. The small groups of Covenant who managed to put up real resistance--often pockets of Elites and Brutes--were caught off guard by the totally foreign concept of humans with energy shields. By the time they made it to their rendezvous point, they’d blown through over three hundred Covenant and acquired some ‘exotic’ weaponry, including a pair of energy swords--weapons fast becoming a favored toy of Roger’s.

For Mica, however, the trip proved to be a different story. Unknowingly landing in a sealed section of the camp, she had fallen into a camp of a small group of Covenant Special Forces troops--a number of which belonged to the Spartan hunting unit, Priory of Regret. Barely evading hunter-killer teams of angry commandos toting heavy weaponry, Mica managed to break into a methane depot and detonate it using the fuel rod shot of one of her pursuers. The resulting blast incinerated several hundred Grunt workers, the majority of the commandos, and nearly her as well. Confronting the shell-shocked survivors, she personally beat the leader of the squad to death.

Beating her way through the now very alert Covenant troops, Mica linked up with Roger and James at the rendezvous point, but their exit began to grow problematic. The majority of the ODSTs had been slaughtered, and the very angry Covenant force was converging on them in force. Taking a play from Mica, Roger ordered the team to break into another, larger methane depot and rig it with charges. Brutally clearing out the building, the three SPARTANs planted charges and--relying on their MJOLNIR to protect them--they leapt from the roof of the building, detonated the charges, and ran like hell.

Arriving at the rendezvous point with blackened armor and a smoke cloud behind them, they ignored the handful of surviving ODSTs and boarded a dropship. With most of the force gone, the remaining dropships were transferred to relocating the civilians from the surface. The help was urgently needed; the battle in orbit, ugly to begin with, was shaping into another clear rout. Covenant forces, already glassing half the planet, had cut the UNSC fleet in half. Roger and Crimson Team returned to the fleet, boarding the UNSC Gorgon, and remained aboard it for three days as the battered human fleet did it’s best to protect evacuation efforts on the intact half of the planet.

On March 14th, the UNSC fleet--now reduced to two vessels--finally admitted defeat. Limping to the edge of the system, they watched bleakly as the Covenant spread over the planet’s surface, burning cities to target the highest population centers before settling into their normal pattern of crisscrossing destruction. Some eight million odd people had been evacuated from the surface--four from the city Crimson Team’s distraction had helped protect--while another twenty burned beneath the Covenant bombardment. For Crimson Team, the pressure was off. The Gorgon’s CO, Commander Anderson, was low enough down the food chain for Standoff to effectively intimidate into silence. They had succeeded in their mission.

Levosia (May 2550)

James: "Wheeeeeeeeeeeeee!"
Xun-A146: "Are these guys for real?"
Roger: "And are you stupid?"
—James, Xun-A146, and Roger riding the gravity lift of a Covenant Assault Carrier during a joint operation on Levosia.

Though the Class III squads had originally been deployed as mainline special forces groups, attached to fleet command instead of ONI, the ongoing war brought with it chances to elevate the Ares program in the eyes of the rest of NavSpecWar. A combination of battlefield daring and extensive promotion by Colonel Standoff was bringing prestige to the program--and with it, challenging new missions. While most of the Ares Project teams were thrilled at any extra recognition they received, Crimson treated it as a threat. Even if they weren’t found out, challenging missions still meant that they were being put in greater and greater danger.

So, to Roger and his team’s distress, shortly after leaving Verent in mid-March, Crimson Team was contacted by the ONI Section III and given new orders. The Gorgon was being pulled from the fleet for a rendezvous with the UNSC Lark, a small Prowler. Details on the mission were sparse, but if it was worth detouring an entire destroyer over, it was important to ONI. For two weeks in transit, Crimson waited anxiously, wondering if their cover would be blown once they docked.

On March 29th, 2550, the Gorgon and Lark docked in deep space, and Crimson Team was transferred to their new home. A number of ODSTs from the suicide diversion--who now distinctly wary of Crimson--were also transferred to keep up the appearance of a routine personnel transfer, but as soon as the ship‘s disconnected, the shock troopers were chilled down. The Prowler was unquestionably there for Roger and his squad; the only question was why.

But as they were led throughout the ship, briefed on their mission, and prepared for cryo sleep, there was no hint of deception on ONI’s part, no trace of suspicion. The ONI agents seemed unsurprised to find all three SPARTANs in full MJOLNIR armor, and certainly did not seem to suspect that the trio had been complicit in wrongdoing. They were treated professionally, considerately, and with odd respect. Dashing off a quick query to Colonel Standoff before the mandatory cryo freeze en route to Levosia, Roger asked the officer to look into the matter.

The Colonel’s search turned up nothing odd, and drolly enough, the answer turned out to be mundane in nature. ONI command had authorized and ordered the mission, and deployed agents to carry it out. These agents had been given the mission orders, basic directives, and had been informed that the soldiers they would be utilizing were “SPARTANs”. The combination of the growing mystique of the SPARTAN-IIs, the secrecy surrounding their origins, and the agent’s acceptance of ONI’s no-questions-asked atmosphere, had led the agents to the obvious conclusion that they would be handling full armored SPARTANs. The agents were unaware that SPARTAN units would even operate without armor, because no such unit--units like SPARTAN-III or Class III--was ever spoken about. The secretive nature of ONI, and the lack of quality information sharing between it’s agents, had just allowed Crimson to operate illegally, directly under their supervision.

Chuckling their own quiet laughs of victory, Crimson was given their final briefing on their mission to Levosia. ONI had been growing increasingly curious--and worried--over the presence of small Covenant commando parties which had been arriving at numerous planets. The idea of the Covenant switching tactics was alarming, because large invasions, while destructive, ultimately allowed them time to fight back, and more importantly, hide the location of other worlds. If the Covenant began scouting planets before attacking and gathering intelligence, the chances of other worlds being discovered would skyrocket.

Thus, rumors of Covenant Zealot infiltration teams on Levosia had thrown parts of Section III and Naval Special Warfare into a near panic. An outer colony world that had survived two separate Covenant assaults, due to a combination of heavily armed civilian orbital resistance and persistent defense by the late Admiral Cole, Levosia was loosely controlled at best. Unlicensed navigational databases were ubiquitous on the planet, and , that meant it was imperative any Covenant intelligence gathering missions be stopped.

For the first time, Crimson Team was being deployed as a dedicated special forces unit. The ONI agents aboard the Lark were being charged with pinpointing Covenant strike force locations, so that Crimson Team could be dispatched to eliminate them. The ODSTs aboard were available as emergency backup--or, as Roger morosely pointed out, potential bait--but the team was finally in their element--or second element, after breaking rules.

It was slow going. The Lark arrived at Levosia in late April of 2550 and maintained camouflage, but every time they thought they would catch the trail of the Covenant teams, the aliens would go to ground. Covenant stealth technology was highly advanced, despite the alien conglomerate’s typical disdain for subterfuge, and an entire planet was a big place to hide. On rare occasions where they did locate Covenant raids or potential camp locations, they inevitably found themselves late to battles or skirmishes. Initially, they wrote off the damage and fighting to local resistance--militia or simply heavily armed civilians defending themselves. But as the destruction became more intensive--and the Covenant losses more distinctly significant--they began to suspect something more at work. Covenant raiding parties that would have slaughtered contingents of marines were being found wiped out and destroyed. No civilians could have survived, much less massacred the offending Covenant.

Before they could find the answers, however, they were forced into action. In a rare bit of luck, the Lark detected a trio of Phantom dropships en-route to an outlying town well known for it’s disregard for colonial laws--including the Cole Protocol. Springing into action, the Lark dropped into altitude and dispatched Crimson in a Pelican. Destroying two of the Phantoms with pulse lasers, the Prowler disabled the third before it could reach the town outskirts. Crimson Team disembarked at the crash site to eliminate any survivors and glean any intelligence they could.

The critically wounded commandos mustered little resistance, and the SPARTANs recovered data from the Phantom’s flight computer, detailing the location of a forward base. Returning to the Prowler, they delivered the data, and began to plan their assault. Using the Prowler for orbital reconnaissance, they determined that the Covenant had occupied an abandoned, nearly century old mining facility in order to remain covert. In an act of either brazen stupidity or sheer nerve, they had based themselves not a hundred miles from the apex of UNSC power on the planet, a command post filled with a division of ground troops.

Calling in these troops would be an admission that ONI had known about a Covenant incursion and not informed the local government, however, so the base would have to eliminated without local help. However, there were too many Covenant for Crimson Team to take on alone, without any support. The plan, rather than try and fight their way through the mine, was to infiltrate and sabotage it, collapsing the facility and bringing it down on the Covenant’s head. It would require a stealthy insertion, which the Prowler could easily accomplish, but also required that Crimson refrain from attracting attention--not a small challenge, by any means.

Still, they had a timetable. As morning broke on May 12th, 2550, Crimson Team deployed and began a march to the mining facility. Moving silently through desert canyons, they slipped into the mine through a secondary entrance and set to work. The Covenant forces had extensively modified the facility, hollowing out large areas to house troops and weapons, while enlarging the standard docking port to serve as a hangar. It was a surprisingly well run operation, given the usual Covenant disdain for stealth. The base could have matched any covert UNSC command post in a contested system. Because of the enlargement, however, the entire facility was unstable. Working their way to the bottom of the facility, they set about planting support charges. As they began placing their explosives, unfortunately, they realized they were not alone. As James rounded a corner, he was ambushed--by a pair of SPARTAN supersoldiers.

Roger and Mica rushed to his aid, and in doing so, broke their cover of stealth. Just as they realized that his attackers were other UNSC troops, they ran headfirst into a Covenant patrol. With alarms sounding and the world going to hell, Roger and Crimson retreated, linked up with the newcomers, and decided to get the hell out of dodge. With no time for introductions, they simply fought their way straight out. Seeing as the newcomers were SPARTANs in full MJOLNIR--albeit without shields--Roger let them take point, and together, they easily escaped. Escaping to the surface, they detonated the charges they had placed--along with some that the other SPARTANs had placed--and brought down the entire mine.

With the danger passed, they decided it was time to figure out what exactly happened. But a combination of Crimson’s abrasive attitude and the hostility of the other squad’s leader, Xun-A146, led the conversation to dissolve into a heated argument. Roger was torn halfway between throwing and punch and leaving entirely--when things became even more complicated. Apparently, the Covenant, finding their raids repulsed, had prepared a backup plan. With the mine gone, they moved from subterfuge to direct action. In orbit, a Covenant Assault Carrier appeared and immediately headed for the surface.

The defenses that had held out so long quickly proved to be no match for the carrier’s massive firepower, as converted freighters and civilian ships were blown away without so much as denting the shields. Watching with dread, the collection of SPARTANs tracked the massive craft as it arrived in atmosphere and took up a position over the UNSC command post. Bombarding the base with plasma, the Covenant then activated their gravity lift and deployed troops to the surface. An invasion had arrived.

Crimson contacted the Lark to request extraction, but were rudely informed that the presence of the carrier made it impossible. The Prowler’s only defense was stealth; moving, it would be destroyed in moments. With no hope of escape, the collection of SPARTANs weighed their options. With few options available, they decided the best move would be one the Covenant, hopefully, would believe to absurd to see coming. A direct attack on the carrier.

The other SPARTANs--Herald Team, they learned was the name--had each arrived separately in Warthogs, which meant they had four ‘Hogs available. Mounting Crimson in one hog, half of Herald in another, and the other half in a third, they took off towards the carrier’s position. Floating high in the sky, it was easy to spot, but difficult to approach. They would never survive a long, exposed drive over desert plains, so they stuck to deep canyons and used whatever cover was available. The rocky, semi-mountainous terrain favored them, and they managed to reach the outskirts without being eradicated.

Atop a low hill looking down on the former command post, they took in a grisly sight. The Covenant infantry had wiped out what few UNSC troops had survived the bombardment, and were using the charred remains as a staging ground for an attack. Thousands of infantry were deployed all over the base, several hundred of which were gathered around the gravity lift, the only way up. They had a fight ahead of them. But with four additional SPARTANs, Crimson wagered their chances as high. If they moved quick enough, they could use their time-honored strategy of avoiding most of the enemies in their way, and hopefully keep the element of surprise.

Their advance down the hill was frantic and fraught with danger. They managed to get close enough to the Covenant lines before being spotted to avoid attacks by the carrier, but they were outnumbered a thousand to one. Speed, as they had predicted, was the only option. Plowing through crowds of Covenant in their ‘Hog, gunning down any that they could, they blew through the destroyed base and reached the gravity lift. At the lift, they found their work cut out for them; the Covenant had reinforced their landing zone with fuel rod turrets, vehicles, and nearly a hundred and fifty infantry troops. With typical gusto, Crimson and Herald burst onto the platform and massacred everyone in sight.

Riding the gravity lift up into the belly of the Assault Carrier, they knew their time was limited. Previous boarding efforts--mostly by other SPARTANs--had often met with failure due to the Covenant’s tendency to detach entire sections of their ships. Leaving Herald to secure an exit, Crimson Team made their way through the ship to the Assault Carrier’s reactor chamber. The massive ship gave both teams plenty of room to maneuver, but also made progress slow. By the time Crimson had reached the control point for the carrier’s massive pinch fusion reactor, the carrier’s security contingent had scrambled hunter-killer teams.

Pinned down by these teams in the carrier’s reactor chamber, Crimson did the unthinkable and forcibly overloaded them with themselves still inside the vessel. The mass confusion of the overloading reactors--which vented superheated plasma clear through the ventral hull, narrowly missing the SPARTANs--gave them the edge they needed to break out. The massive carrier faltered, lost power, and began to descend towards the surface as it’s anti-gravity drives failed. Racing through corridors and bypassing resistance, Roger and his team signaled Herald for extraction.

The other SPARTANs did not disappoint. As Crimson emerged into the massive lower hangar, now filled to the brim with panicked Covenant attempting to escape, Herald made a grand entrance. Showering Covenant troops with plasma and gunfire from inside a Phantom dropship, they gave Crimson cover long enough for them to board. As the cruiser came crashing to the surface in an explosion of plasma and shrapnel, the combined teams escaped aboard their captured dropship.

The bulk of the UNSC forces on the planet had been lost, but with the carrier gone, the world was safe for the time being. Roger and his team were hardly eager to stick around, and contacted the Lark the moment they were clear of the blast. Still, there was one last bit of business to take care of before they left. Remembering the evidence that Colonel Standoff had uncovered of off-the-grid SPARTAN teams--evidence that they had, of course, stolen from the Colonel themselves--they realized Standoff might be interested in this mysterious SPARTAN team they were working with. They knew how annoyed he would be if they didn’t ask any questions, and given their reliance on him, figured it was best to keep him happy.

So, on their way back to the Lark, they did their best to covertly interrogate the other SPARTANs and see what they could learn. Two of them--Xun-A146 and Bruce-A412--were notably hostile, resentful towards Crimson for stealing the spotlight with their antics with the fusion reactor. The other two, however--Jane-B337 and Nessa-B256-- seemed receptive. Jane had been fairly friendly, apparently simply because they were fellow SPARTANs--a sort of automatic kinship totally foreign to Crimson--and though their attitude hadn’t endeared them any to her, Roger realized she respected them based on their combat performance alone. The other SPARTAN, Nessa, essentially followed the other ones lead.

Carefully and deliberately, they fished for information about the two. It required giving up some information about themselves and their own group--and letting James, the most social of the group, do most of the talking--but they did grab a few details. They found that the team was, essentially, another clandestine, off the record black ops team, operating without the oversight of the rest of ONI. This seemed similar to the other teams Standoff had discovered, but with a crucial difference; the groups the Colonel had found appeared to be attached exclusively to Special Warfare Group 3, while Herald appeared to be a part of Special Warfare Group 4. The small difference had far reaching implications; Crimson realized that numerous branches, organizations, and units could have their own, private SPARTANs. The commandoes, who seemed so rare and well organized, were apparently anything but.

Before they could learn much more, the team arrived at the Lark and boarded. Bidding farewell to their temporary allies, happy to be on their own again, they linked up with their controlling ONI agent and made ready to depart. The mission had been accomplished, but the agency had more tasks in store for them ahead. Sending off a report to Colonel Standoff--and making sure to subtly note the unit lineage of Herald--they were put into cryo storage for whenever they were needed next.

Hellas (June 2550)

James-319: "They really ought to shut the system down at night and password-protect the start-up."
Roger-341: "And that would slow you down how long, exactly? Thirty seconds?"
―Exchange between Roger, and James-319 while breaching the Insurrectionist database.

The original SPARTAN-II program had been formed to combat rebellions, but the ongoing war with the Covenant had long since overshadowed the conflict. However, while the original SPARTAN-II units now were too precious to deploy against ‘Innies’, the rebels certainly had not gone dark. Despite the seeming illogic of it, elements of the United Rebel Front had continued to attack key UNSC installations. On their own, these raids did little but weaken UNSC defenses--but weak defenses made worlds that much easier for the Covenant to conquer.

Unfortunately, countering rebel attacks proved to be difficult. Insurrectionist troops often struck distant, poorly defended targets that were impossible to defend. With defense impractical, ONI sought ways to both predict strikes, and destroy the rebels home turf. To this cause, special forces operators were worth their weight in gold. Conventional troops couldn’t handle the delicate nature of infiltration, and were needed urgently at the front regardless. Ironically, SPARTAN units--who had been created to fight rebels, but proved so effective in the war with the Covenant--fit perfectly in this role.

The introduction of the Ares Teams in 2548 had given ONI a deluge of new SPARTANs to work with, and the intelligence agency made quick use of them. The secrecy of the program allowed the office to operate without oversight from the admiralty, who were scarcely even aware of the existence of the class of thirty SPARTANs--though bold acts by several of the Class III teams, Crimson included, were slowly chipping away at this secrecy. When ONI Prowlers located a URF base on the colony world Hellas, the agency began plans for an immediate raid.

The plan was for a special forces team to infiltrate the base, reconnoiter, and hopefully gather information on upcoming attacks the rebels had planned--without alerting the rebels to the infiltration. Scouring their list of available teams, they decided on Crimson. A combination of the Lark’s close proximity to the system and Crimson Team’s own stellar track record--artificially inflated by their exploits using MJOLNIR--led ONI to approve the three SPARTANs for the mission. In retrospect, the agency would have wished to have chosen different.

The Lark arrived in the Hellas system on June 19th, 2550, and brought Crimson out of cryo storage. Briefing them on their mission, the Lark‘s crew drew in close to the planet and released a specially radar camouflaged Pelican dropship. Landing a safe distance from the rebel compound, the three SPARTANs moved in on foot, carefully avoiding contact with the rebels. It wasn’t easy; for all the defensive benefits, the massive and heavy MJOLNIR armor was loud, and, most importantly, lacked camouflage capabilities. After a few close calls, the three SPARTANs made it inside the rebel base, located a data port, and imitated a system hack.

However, while James was able to effortlessly infiltrate the rebel system, luck was not on their side. As they monitored the entrances, a maintenance worker exited an access hatch--ostensibly to retrieve a cup of coffee he had left in the server room [11]--and blew their cover. Finishing the hack, but with the entire base alerted, they fell back on their usual back-up plan--blow up everything.

As rebel security teams converged, Crimson fought their way through increasingly well armed and equipped Insurrectionists to what they thought was the communications relay--only to discover the rebels had swapped out the usual design of their base and placed it elsewhere. Exasperated, they killed any rebels that got between them and the relay, descending down three sublevels to reach the comm station. At the relay, they contacted the Lark for support. The Prowler, with little more than the orphaned ODST squad aboard, had no real ground assets; what it did have, however, was a number of Archer missiles.

Using the comm relay as a beacon for an air strike, Crimson highlighted the most vulnerable parts of the base and promptly got the hell out of dodge. Again carving an easy path through the rebels--Roger suggested it might be faster for them to simply kill everyone--they withdrew from the compound and evacuated. The rebels, unsure as to why the SPARTANs had retreated, but positive something was amiss, went to ground, hiding in their base. Before they realized what was happening, the Lark rained explosive death down on them in droves.

Crimson boarded their exfiltration Pelican and gladly put the smoking crater of the base behind them. The unusually short and easy mission was a welcome change of pace for the three SPARTANs, though the crew of the Lark seemed disturbed by the profuse amounts of blood on their armor--Roger and James had led the way in close quarters combat. For ONI, the mission produced mixed results. True, Crimson had acquired data on the upcoming rebel strikes, but they had also destroyed the entire rebel facility. The mission seemed to convince ONI that Crimson was too direct for such a nuanced mission; in the future, operations against rebel forces would be delegated to other, more precise groups.

Falaknuma (August 2550)

Roger: "Damn it!"
Mica: "What‘s wrong Roger?"
Roger: "I can’t believe it! I lost track of my kills!"
— Roger and Mica-311 during deployment on Falaknuma

With Crimson Team’s growing reputation among ONI for lack of subtlety, the agency came to the conclusion that the unit might simply be too blunt of a tool for their requirements. Requisitioning other SPARTAN units in their stead, they unceremoniously dumped Crimson Team onto the main fleet. Transferred from the Lark, they were placed aboard a new ship, the Paris-class Heavy Frigate Saratoga.

Roger, for one, was none to disappointed to leave ONI’s clandestine operations behind. He and his squad knew they had been playing a dangerous game, flaunting their MJOLNIR armor in front of ONI agents. Colonel Standoff, hard at work as ever redacting reports and deflecting interest in the team, agreed it was for the best. On the frontline, they could fade into the background and disappear, one tiny squad lost amid a sea of confused troops. That was the hope, at least; unbeknownst to any of them, circumstances would lead to a very different next mission than the one they had planned.

In August of 2550, the colony world of Falaknuma came under Covenant attack. Nearly two decades before, the world had grown in prominence while serving as a refuge for a group of fleeing civilians from the Madrigal Asteroid Field; in the years since, it had grown rapidly thanks to an influx of new refugees as colony worlds fell one by one. Losing Falaknuma would displace billions of people and be a significant loss to UNSC interests in the region; with an aggressive ground battle already raging in earnest, Crimson was assigned without a second thought.

The Saratoga arrived around Falaknuma on August 26th, 2550, and spent the better part of a day dodging around the system to evade Covenant forces. By the 27th, they had linked up with the rest of the UNSC fleet--a hodgepodge compilation assembled from multiple task forces and battle groups that had each arrived independently to the battle--and were roving up and down the northern hemisphere. The Covenant did not outnumber the UNSC, but the fleet admirals were wary of direct engagement. Their strategy was to delay, maneuver, and pick off Covenant ships one by one--all while hoping for reinforcements--in order to minimize losses.

The long stalemate in orbit opened up the surface for an aggressive, vicious ground battle. This was the fight that command was itching to get Crimson into. Civilian casualties were mounting, and it was felt that an unpredictable element--Crimson--could serve as a catalyst to throw up the situation and give the UNSC breathing room. Crimson would be deployed as quickly as possible, it was determined, to the most dangerous and serious front. Crimson had one more day to prepare as the Saratoga roamed with the fleet--and then they were deployed.

The target was New Renton [12], a city under siege by Covenant forces. UNSC troops had staged a valiant defense, only to be overwhelmed when a Covenant Assault Carrier dropped into low orbit above the city. Normally such a move--a Covenant vessel stranding itself in a gravity well--would have made the ship an easy target for a fleet strike, but the mission was complicated by the presence of civilians. Reports by ONI recon teams indicated as many as 30,000 civilians were still in the city; an orbital strike, while capable of destroying the cruiser, would cause massive collateral damage.

The solution to this issue was a targeted distraction: a concerted effort by forces already on the ground, as well as orbital reinforcements from the Saratoga, to draw the Covenant’s attention long enough for special forces team to infiltrate the city. These teams would advise the civilians on how to get out of the city--or if that failed, how to find whatever shelter they could from the MAC strikes. Once their mission was complete, they would extract--or find shelter, if necessary--while the fleet destroyed the carrier with a MAC strike. The main force, finished with their diversion, would retreat to a safe distance.

Right from the outset, the mission turned ugly. As Crimson Team’s pelican dropship descended, it came under fire from a Seraph squadron. Unable to maintain altitude, the dropship was sent plummeting to a bone-jarring crash. Wearily extracting themselves from the wreckage, Crimson set out on foot towards their objective.

The distractionary main assault was already in full swing, forcing Crimson to work extra hard to avoid the ongoing skirmishes. Already on a tight timetable, the last thing they needed was to be drawn into an insignificant battle between the common troops. Only so much could be done, however; the assault stirred up the Covenant, and that meant patrols were out in earnest. Crimson did their best to avoid them, but eliminated any threats that presented themselves when stealth was not an option. As they moved through the outlying suburbs of the city, they came under attack by a roving pack of new enemies: Jiralhane. These “Brutes” had been deployed before against the UNSC, but lately their appearances had been more and more sporadic--a failed effort, it turned out, of the Elites to sideline the other species--and Crimson Team had never had the displeasure of fighting them before.

Dodging through houses and parks in the suburb, they led the Brutes on a wild goose chase, ending in a public amphitheater--where a combination of creative explosive usage by James and expert sniper skill by Mica allowed the three Spartans to overwhelm their pursuers. While Roger held off the Brutes, aided by covering fire from Mica, James set up breaching charges on support pillars from the amphitheater’s roof, dropping the entire structure down and crushing the pack of aliens. With that, they moved deeper into the suburb towards the city. Along the way, they encountered grisly scenes of violence. The fleeing civilians had been set upon by packs of Brutes and Jackals, and literally torn apart. Survivors were few and far between; those that Crimson did encounter were too far gone to help and beneath their concern anyway.

As they entered the city, they moved to link up with their special forces compatriots--hopefully their best chance at another Pelican and extraction. They found their contacts pinned down in a shopping center, pushed into the corner of a department store by a pair of Hunters. Crimson rescued them--leaping from two story drops onto the Hunters’ backs--and secured the area. As they contracted command for extraction, they discovered the situation was deteriorating. The diversionary force was taking heavy casualties and the special forces teams were encountering serious problems marshalling the battered civilian populace into an exodus. Meanwhile, the Covenant carrier was moving ominously towards the Newport Mag-Lev station: evacuation center for 12,000 civilians. Command was caught flatfooted and could do nothing but tell their forces to maintain position.

Crimson, half a mile from Newport--well within the fallout range of a glassing--weren’t happy, and were certainly not about to sit still and be glassed. Using their usual Crimson Team logic--putting themselves first at all costs--they settled on a plan. Simply put: blow up the assault carrier. The city, a hub of UNSC weapons factories, was home to plentiful munitions depots--and so Crimson hatched a plan.

As the carrier moved across the industrial district, halfway to the Mag-Lev station, a thunderous boom gripped the city: a jet of nuclear fire shot upward, cutting the craft in two. On the ground, Crimson had just done the unthinkable and the implausible; detonated a HAVOK tac-nuke, inside a city fission reactor. The reactor’s automatic safety protocols had automatically shut it down because of the invasion, but the reinforced structure had acted as a giant fougasse, directing the nuclear detonation towards the carrier as it passed overhead. It fell in two burning chunks onto the city; thousands died as debris and flame scorched the city, but less than would have died had the Mag-Lev station been glassed--and more importantly, not Crimson.

Shock and confusion from the unexpected--and unauthorized--nuclear strike delayed extraction, but when it did arrive, Roger and his team were surprised to find themselves being shuttled not to the Saratoga, but to the fleet command ship, the carrier Stalingrad. Aboard, they were offloaded from the Pelican and quickly realized they had made a grave mistake. They left the ship under armed guard, and were escorted to the fleet admiral. Roger realized, alarmed, that they were in deep trouble.

Explanations were quick to follow. The fleet admiral, Carl “Buster” Patterson, was lived at their actions, which had yielded much greater collateral damage than Crimson had thought. All told, 10,000 people had been killed, ostensibly to save 12,000--without orders of any kind. They were hauled to the brig to await a tribunal, and it seemed their actions had finally caught up to them. They’d gone too far and would finally face the music.

Or not. Whether or not they deserved punishment, however, circumstances yielded in their favor. As soon as Colonel Standoff heard of their imprisonment, he pressured ONI for aid--all the while deftly manipulating every report on the matter to mask Crimson’s constant potential foil, their MJOLNIR armor. ONI relented to Standoff and came down hard on the admirals. Through subtle implications that ONI had been behind the three SPARTANs actions--a blatant lie--and more overt proclamations about the three commandoes being too valuable an asset for the Admirals to take off the field--somewhat closer to the truth--the agency managed to pressure the fleet into a lighter, token charge.

After three tense days in the brig, awaiting their fate, Roger and his team were brought before a tribunal. Standing before a court of fleet officers, they were issued a reprimand, a pay dock--irony, seeing as none of the three had ever seen a cent for their service--and released. They stayed cool before the jury, but they knew how close to the edge they had come. No less important, they knew exactly who had saved them--and Roger would not soon forget it.

Regardless of their official decision on the matter, the admiralty had clearly lost faith in Crimson and refused to deploy them. As the ground battle raged and the UNSC continued falling back, the three SPARTANs were, unthinkably, kept confined to their quarters. Destroying the assault carrier had given the UNSC a small victory and extra time, but the disconsolate forces on the ground had squandered it. Still, Crimson was not deployed. ONI took careful note, and when the destroyer Gorgon was damaged and sent back to Reach for repairs, the three SPARTANs were transferred. Leaving the Stalingrad under armed guard, they boarded the Gorgon and settled in for another long slipspace flight.

Victoria (January 2551)

"Gravity is a harsh mistress."
―James, after falling from the top of a Covenant AA battery

As Crimson was returning to Reach, ONI meanwhile was busy deciding their fate. The agency had kept Crimson from severe--and proper--punishment over the Falaknuma fiasco, but that was due to Standoff’s pressuring and ONI’s own obsession with dealing with problems inside the tent--the agency had no misconceived notions of Crimson’s innocence. The team was on thin ice, and that meant they were disposable--and as ONI had proven time and time again, they did not hesitate to deploy “disposable” SPARTANs on high-risk missions.

Upon return to Reach, Crimson was almost immediately transferred from the Gorgon to an ONI Prowler, the UNSC Applebee. The office wasted no time getting the team up to speed, shipping them out the same day and performing the mission brief in slipspace. The rapid arrival at base and redeployment was a routine that was becoming far to regular for Crimson’s liking, but it at least allowed them to stay on the move--and by extension, avoid most suspicion about their armor.

The mission, they found, seemed tailor made for the squad. They were being deployed to Victoria, deep behind enemy lines, for a month long disrupt-and-destroy operation. The planet--an outer colony once a haven for rebels--had been abandoned by the UNSC years before, but grapevine rumors had reported a Covenant presence. The Covenant occupying a human world was an oddity, given their usual glass first and ask questions never policy; ONI’s interest was piqued. Crimson had the dual role of gathering information on the Covenant’s mission and then subsequently sabotaging said mission. It was a dangerous operation that would allow plenty of independence, and keep the deployed squad well away from sensitive situations--perfectly suited for Crimson Team’s style.

Victoria was nearly three months slipspace flight away, necessitating a jaunt in the ship’s cryo chambers. Other than the briefing, Crimson stayed well clear of the ONI crew, always conscious of their armor. They went into cryo distinctly aware, as always, that they could wake up to MPs questioning them, but they put their faith in Standoff and hoped for the best. Their system of fooling ONI right under their nose would, with any luck, hold up.

The Applebee arrived in Victoria’s system on the January 9th, 2551, under cover of stealth systems, and awoke Crimson Team without incident; their luck had held. This luck quickly grew to include the ship, as it worked it’s way in system, past Covenant sentries. The aliens were not exactly there in force--no capital ships larger than patrol craft were spotted--but they were definitely up to something, just as ONI had suspected.

No time was wasted getting Crimson on the ground. The Applebee came in high in the atmosphere, dispatched a series of supply drop pods, and then launched the SPARTANs in HEVs. The Applebee then moved to a high orbit, safely removed from possible detection, and began geographic surveys, staying aloof and maintaining minimal contact. Meanwhile, on the ground, Roger’s team set to work. Plotting a route across the southern continent--the epicenter of former human colonization, and now, Covenant occupation--they prepared for a long time all on their own.

Their route was a grand tour of the former settlements and Covenant outposts, to gather information and wreak havoc. The Applebee had dropped the supply pods at regular intervals--with the exception or ordnance pods, which were dropped nearby to pre-planned targets--allowing them to move quickly, even on foot. It was an exhaustive march, deep behind enemy lines, with no backup to speak of to call on: a perfect mission for Crimson both in ONI’s eyes and their own--a rarity.

So they set out. At first they traveled for days at a time without contact with the Covenant, but as they pushed deeper south, they found themselves engaged more and more. By the start of the third week, they were in daily contact. It was impossible to conceal themselves entirely, as they left chains of destroyed outposts and massacred troops. The Covenant at first reacted slowly, unsure who was doing the damage as Crimson moved too quickly to track. As they worked out what was going on, however, pressure increased. Banshee flights hunted for them and Covenant troops launched search-and-destroy missions from dropships.

Crimson, for the most part, avoided these attacks with ease. On the rare occasions the Covenant managed to close in on them, they simply set ambushes and dispatched the nuisances. As it turned out, the Covenant patrols were far from the most interesting thing on the planet. Passing through human settlements to gather intel, they noticed inexplicable trends. Entire towns had been laid to waste, badly damaged and clearly victims of Covenant attacks--but they found almost no bodies. Those they did find seemed exclusively to have fallen in combat; otherwise, the towns showed all the signs of battle but none of the carnage.

The Covenant were hardly known for careful consideration of human remains; when they didn’t burn everything while glassing a planet, civilians were left where they fell, or worse, set upon for food. Burial was out of the question. Meanwhile, in orbit, the Applebee was making discoveries of it’s own. While too high to pick out details, the cameras on the Prowler showed signs of mass migration towards the main Covenant outpost. On the fourth week--after Crimson had scouted almost fifteen human settlements and bombed a dozen Covenant bases--the SPARTANs were redirected.

Ignoring the next half dozen supply drops and outposts, they headed straight to the main Covenant base. It was no small risk. The Covenant were alerted to their presence; kicking the hornets nest could prove very, very dangerous. Roger and his squad got on with it, confident in themselves and aware that the sooner they finished, the sooner they could be extracted. They moved quickly, sticking to thick forest during the day and moving on the faster open ground at night, and four days later, they had arrived. Unfortunately, they quickly discovered things would not be as simple as they’d hoped.

On the ground, they quickly discovered the source of the activity. The Covenant had indeed changed up their tactics on Victoria--instead of killing the civilians, they abducted, processed, and imprisoned them. The seemingly baffling reasoning behind the action became coldly transparent as they observed Elites herding groups of prisoners into isolated groups and forcing them onto the firing range. Weapons technicians would rush to inspect each freshly murdered set of civilians, taking notes and measurements of damage. Over the course of two hours of observation, Crimson watched hundreds of humans killed, with varying types of weaponry, including new types they had never seen before. The Covenant were using the prisoners as live test subjects for weapons testing.

Roger made the decision to pull back and contact the Applebee before proceeding, but it was hardly worth the effort. While Crimson would have been fine leaving then--they’d accomplished their mission after all, and gotten ONI the intel it had wanted--the Captain felt a duty to help; figuring he had three SPARTANs at his disposal, he blithely thought it would be no problem. The mission turned from intelligence gathering to rescue, and Crimson was dispatched to get as many of the prisoners out as possible. With nothing but a squad of three and a Prowler, it was a tall order.

The key to the plan would be the Prowler. Normally, a stealth ship would be decidedly ill suited for gunboat support; uncloaking a Prowler in a war zone was suicide. But the absence of the Covenant capital ships in the region gave them a traditionally unheard of opportunity, provided they move quickly. Unfortunately, they had other problems to contend with. The Covenant had deployed anti-aircraft cannons around their base, which would have to be eliminated before the Applebee could descend. Additionally, their mission was complicated by the civilians themselves; the prison group would have to move fast to board the Applebee once it arrived, and that meant preparing them to move in advance.

It didn’t take Crimson long to arrive at a solution, but it was far from their favorite plan ever. While Mica and James returned to the nearest supply point to gather explosives to sabotage the anti-aircraft guns with, Roger removed his armor--damaging it in the process, seeing as they lacked an automated facility of a team of technicians--and infiltrated the prison camp. He would move through the camp, preparing the prisoners to rise up and escape, while James and Mica executed the actual raid. He took the risk partially because he was the most capable fighter and adaptable thinker, but also to keep his friends out of danger. The Covenant, in his mind, could use outer colonists for target practice all day long, as long as his team stayed safe.

Using an engagement between his teammates and a banshee patrol as a distraction, Roger infiltrated the camp and went about the mission. Awaiting him inside was a harrowing experience. The Covenant were looking for the most physically strong specimens for their tests, and a SPARTAN certainly fit that bill. The colonists proved difficult to motivate as well. Most were simply disbelieving, with little confidence in the UNSC military, which had abandoned them nearly two decades prior. They had been beaten down, mercilessly abused by their alien captors, and given up nearly all hope of escape and survival. They were not a friendly group, and Roger’s less than personable nature hardly helped matters.

Meanwhile, on the outside, James and Mica were nearly ready. They had gathered enough C-12 explosives to destroy all three guns, with a slight caveat. The last gun, a Type-38 AAC, had a reinforced base and a heavy interior guard compliment, requiring a more creative solution. It was decided that James would avoid the guards, scaling the gun and planting explosives on the vulnerable barrel assembly. James and Mica spent a full day planning their route, mapping out the quickest path alongside fallback points, potential landing zones, and emergency escape routes. Three days after Roger’s infiltration, they were ready.

Roger, at the same time, received a lucky break. Killing a Jackal that was threatening a popular prisoner, a local leader, he managed to gain the trust of the prisoners---enough that when the Covenant reprisal came, another prisoner sacrificed himself in Roger’s stead. Now connected to the camp’s inner circle, he found himself immersed in the ranks of their small but zealous resistance movement. Coordinating with them, Roger spread word of the upcoming rescue mission.

At noon the next day, the battle kicked off. James and Mica started their assault, blowing the anti-aircraft guns and moving quickly in order to mask their low numbers. As the Covenant frantically surged to repulse the two SPARTANs and keep them away from the third gun, Roger took control of the limited resistance fighters and led a riot. With the Covenant’s attention split, and with Roger’s augmented combat skills on their side, the prisoners managed to overwhelm the armory guards, beating them to death under an overwhelming tide of bodies and tearing them apart. Weeks of cruelty and malicious torture had transformed the crowd into a rage fueled weapon.

At the same time, James left Mica to hold off the Covenant while he dealt with the last gun. Though he was nearly killed when a fuel rod round detonated one of the charges on the barrel, sending him hurtling towards the ground, James managed to open the sky and rally with Mica at the fallback point. Just as the Covenant finally recovered from the surprise of the attack and began to move into position to crush the riot, the Applebee arrived. Lightly armed by fleet standards, the Prowler’s missiles and point defense guns nonetheless proved more than sufficient to suppress the aliens. Mica and James boarded a Pelican and used it to retrieve Roger’s armor, while Roger himself led the prisoners to the extraction point. The Applebee, still firing on the Covenant, hovered just above the ground and extended it’s landing pad.

Loading the thousands of rescued colonists onto the Prowler and recovering Mica and James’ Pelican, the Applebee hastily broke for orbit. Before breaking atmosphere, at the prisoner’s request, the Captain ordered a nuclear mine dropped, incinerating what was left of the camp. With the mission complete, Crimson fled to their quarters---mercifully separate from the hallways now teeming with refugees---and gladly took a moment to relax. They’d successfully pulled off one of the only true prison rescue missions of the war---and much more importantly, no one in the squad had come out any worse for wear.

Concord (April 2551)

Pelican Pilot: "This is Pelican dropship Tango-343, I’m closing on your position for the firing run."
Roger: "Your late for the party pilot."
Pelican Pilot: "You should be happy I’m here at all. Ever tried dog fighting Seraph’s in a dropship? It ain’t fun. "
Roger: "Point taken."
—Roger bickering with a Pelican Pilot

Prowlers were never intended as troop transports, and a small craft like the Applebee was even more poorly suited to transport a large number of people. The ship had too little space, too few supplies, and too many classified areas that had to be kept strictly closed off. The long trip back to Reach would drive the crew stir crazy, or worse, endanger everyone aboard. The Captain ordered as many civilians as possible put into cryo to preserve resources, and dumped excess equipment from the cargo bay in order to transform it into temporary living quarters. Crimson, with mostly self-sufficient MJOLNIR suits, were forced to sit out the voyage back to the nearest inner colony, Concord.

Most of their time was spent in their cabin, doing their best to repair the damage done to Roger’s armor removing it improperly on Victoria. It was important work, but it also fulfilled a valuable secondary purpose, avoiding civilian attention. Besides Crimson’s own personal distaste for outsiders, they had strong motivation to stay away. Exposing themselves in a limited fashion to select ONI agents was one thing---agents were observant, but the culture of secrecy in ONI worked against it, making communication extremely opaque---but civilians were different. By nature, they were chatty. They would be bound to tell everyone they knew about the SPARTANs they had met, and it was common knowledge ONI kept careful, Orwellian-esque tabs on the populace in order to maintain control.

So, weeks past in cramped, bored isolation. Crimson experimented with different ways of repairing Roger’s armor, eventually returning it to more-or-less functioning condition. With time to kill, they turned to their earlier shenanigans for entertainment. Roger and Mica analyzed Roger’s captured energy sword---Roger doing combat practice, while Mica worked on ways to recharge the battery. Meanwhile, James would spend days at a time rummaging through the Applebee’s servers, looking for interesting information. It was a long, tedious journey; by the time they were due to arrive, Crimson Team was all too happy to get off the Prowler.

When they arrived at Concord, however, they quickly realized they were in trouble. The Human-Covenant War, with battles raging across the entire galaxy, was plagued with communications problems. Advancements in comm technology had improved communication speed, allowing for transfers of data over long distances much more quickly than during the colonization years, but this method was still reliant on comm buoys, which the Covenant targeted at every available opportunity. When the Applebee exited slipspace in mid April, it exited into the middle of an unannounced raging battle. James, immersed in the ship’s network and by extension sensor systems, was the first to realize. Luck favored Crimson yet again as James’ advanced warning allowed them to suit up---directly saving their lives.

Coming into an assumed friendly system, the ship’s crew had made no effort to conceal their presence. Within minutes, they were accosted by a Covenant patrol craft. Assigned to monitor the edges of the system, it was stationed to intercept any errant human craft that entered the system. In a number of prior instances, slow, older human freighters had launched on long distance trips, only for a battle to break out while en route. Historically, these craft exited slipspace in the midst of the battle unprepared, with navigation databanks partially or even entirely full, rife for harvesting. The Covenant, hoping to capitalize on this, something deployed light auxiliary ships to screen system exit areas and intercept such vessels before they could wipe navigation data.

Within five minutes, the Applebee was embroiled in pitched combat. Seraph fighters buzzed the Prowler, targeting engines, communications, and every vital system possible. The ship’s unexpected armament caught the Covenant picket by surprise, driving off the fighters, but the aliens nonetheless pursued. The Applebee broke for the surface, trying for the relative safety of distance. While they managed to slip out of weapons range, boarding craft managed to close and attach. Covenant warriors poured inside, out for blood. The first last entered just down the hallway from Crimson, and James’ warning saved their lives.

With Covenant swarming over the ship, Crimson was put on damage patrol. The two points of greatest importance were the bridge and engine room---without either one, the Prowler was dead in the water at the picket craft could finish them at it’s leisure. Roger rendezvoused with a squad of the ship’s security compliment, leading them to the bridge, while James and Mica moved out on their own to keep the engines secure. The civilians, crowded into the cargo bay, were vulnerable; when the Captain ordered James to protect them, the explosive specialist set charges and blew the roof over the bay’s access hallway.

Wave after wave of Covenant poured in, but they by no means had been prepared for SPARTANs. More dangerous was the situation outside in space; the Applebee was a sitting duck without stealth systems working. Pulse laser fire from passing capital ships ripped open the hull in a dozens pots, but the ship managed to escape critical damage---until a light cruiser exited slipspace nearly on top of them. A plasma torpedo tore into the amidships, burning through the hull and nearly cutting the Prowler in two. As the ship rocketed towards a landing on Concord, Roger ordered his team to regroup near the shuttle bay. They had no intent of going down with the ship, so if the Prowler couldn’t land safely, they would find their own ride off.

The Captain, in a feat of tremendous skill, managed to ease the nearly crippled ship into the atmosphere towards UNSC territory. Miraculously, they landed successfully, settling into a berth at the Dawnguard space port, one of the few cities left on planet with open space. The Covenant were attacking in force all across the planet, but a spirited UNSC defense was holding strong. A Prowler was still a sitting duck on the ground, however, which meant repairing he ship and leaving the planet was first priority.

Crimson deployed into the city while ship technicians started work on making the Applebee space worthy. Dropping off the civilians on a contested planet was obviously not an option, which meant shipboard supplies had to be restocked as well. In a besieged city, these were difficult to come by. When the meek shipboard quartermaster proved unable to acquire them, Crimson stepped in. Breaking into the supply depot, bullshitting their way past the marine guards, Roger and his team worked their normal methods. Progress on the ship was slow, but the situation on the ground was mostly secure. With a Marine contingent on the ground, supplemented by the Frigate Gyules[13]the Covenant attacks were little more than token gestures.

Two days into their stay on the surface, that changed. A Covenant destroyer broke through the atmosphere and engaged; the Covenant craft did sustain damage, but managed to send the Gyules plummeting to the surface. As the sky darkened from smoke of the impact, legions of Covenant troops descended. The marines fell back, overwhelmed, and Roger and his squad mates were forced into the action. The General in charge ordered a perimeter set up, but overwhelming odds pushed it back further and further. When the line finally dropped behind the spaceport, Crimson faced a decision. If they abandoned the spaceport, their best chance off planet was gone, but staying to defend it, they would be on their own.

In the end, it was no choice at all. Sticking to the Prowler as friendly forces fell back all around them, Crimson settled in. The Covenant came in force, descending in wave after wave to attack them. Crimson fought them off time and time again, dropping buildings to block roads, funneling the enemy through choke points, and setting minefields. The Covenant came in droves, and gradually Crimson began to falter. Ammunition ran low, defenses grew indefensible, and it looked bleak. The Prowler needed more time for repairs, and it was impossible to launch with the destroyer present anyway.

Roger and his team were working through escape ideas when the destroyer suddenly vanished in a ball of nuclear fire. Before anyone could tell what was happening, frigates were descending from the sky spitting gunfire, launching dropships, and deploying ODSTs. The tide…had turned. Crimson held their position, unsure of what was happening. In their newfound desperation, the remaining Covenant surged, pressing hard and nearly managing to overwhelm Crimson with their initial ferocity. The SPARTANs, however, now had air support, and called in strike missions at their leisure.

The end result was a solid rout for the forces pushing against Crimson’s isolated bunker. It took a day for reinforcements to arrive, but opposition petered off long before then. In the meantime, Crimson found ways to entertain themselves, Roger and James through cards, Mica through mutilation of the Covenant dead. As they linked up with the new forces rolling into the city, the situation became clear. A team of Class One SPARTANs---Blue Team---had led a strike team, sabotaging the destroyer from within and spearheading a ground campaign. The sheer force of an army led by SPARTANs had proven indomitable; the Covenant yielded startlingly quickly.

It was an odd disconnection for Crimson. Normally, if a SPARTAN unit turned the tide of a battle with gutsy maneuvers, it was them. Other Class III units might have been annoyed at other SPARTANs stealing the glory---the ARES detachment lived in the constant shadow of it’s predecessor---but Crimson was fine to sit back and let the Class I’s take the credit. They continued to stay at the Prowler, guarding against any stragglers, and listened as news of the wider battle filtered in with only vague interest. The UNSC reinforcements had done their job well---Blue Team in particular---and the Covenant were being contained. The battle was still raging in earnest---in orbit, the UNSC was on shaky ground, thousands of Covenant troops still threatened cities across the surface, and it was unclear when reinforcements would arrive---but the direct danger to Crimson had faded.

Four days later, the Applebee was space worthy. The Prowler would need more precise repairs later, but those could wait until they were back at Reach. With their brief stint on the ground at an end, Crimson boarded the ship as it broke for orbit. Three SPARTANs would undoubtedly been useful on the surface, but Fleet Command was unaware Crimson had ever even been on Concord. No official records placed them there. The Applebee was recalled straight back to Reach, both to drop off the Victoria civilians---it was decided Reach was the safest home for them---and prepare Crimson for redeployment. The newly restocked and repaired Applebee left Concord’s gravity well behind on April 24th, 2551, and transitioned into slipspace.

New Carthage (May 2551)

Michael-356: "Hey Roger, how many kills you got today asshole?"
Roger-341: "More than you, dipshit."
―Exchange between Roger and Scarlet Team member Michael-356 during joint deployment.

Ironically, while Crimson Team’s actions on Concord had gone unreported to the admiralty, they had nonetheless been carefully examined by ONI. The seemingly selfless valor of the SPARTANs staying behind against impossible odds to protect the Prowler---interpreted by ONI as a move meant to protect the civilians inside, rather than a desire to save their own skin---gave the agency pause. Those in charge of the ARES detachment deployments re-examined their ideas about the squad, and decided it might be worthwhile to give the team another chance. ONI wasted no time redeploying Crimson on traditional combat missions.

So, when the Applebee arrived at Epsilon Eridanus and offloaded it’s load of civilians on Tribute, Roger and his team received an unexpectedly warm welcome. The Covert Operations Group, they were told over and over again, was lucky to have them. The abrupt one hundred eighty degree turn, from tribunals and suicide missions, was disorienting. Roger was glad when his team finally received their assignment and departed the system. A friendly ONI was hard to believe. Their mission, by contrast, was much more grounded. New Carthage, an inner colony world founded in the first wave of colonization, was being buttressed against potential attack. Intelligence indicated a Covenant assault might be in the works, which meant free assets were being deployed in advance wherever possible.

Aboard the UNSC Magellan, a carrier, they shipped out for New Carthage. Aboard the ship was a veritable hodgepodge of Special Warfare units; ODSTs, Beta-5 Asymmetrical Action Groups, One deep recon units, and other ONI strike teams, some even from the Covert Operations Group. Crimson didn’t exactly mingle---the two month trip required a stint in cryo---but they nonetheless kept a careful eye on the other units, wary of familiar faces that might recognize them and ask awkward questions. The last time they’d seen another Class III team was at Omega Indi, when they’d been caught up in the debris field from Tan Team’s slipspace stunt. Given the haphazard and unpredictable nature of their own deployment locations, there was no telling where other squads might turn up. It was a big galaxy, but the UNSC military was getting smaller and smaller with each battle. Special Forces units bumped elbows with frequency.

The Magellan dropped out of slipspace over New Carthage on May 7th, 2551, and the forces aboard were promptly brought out of cryo. The system was thick with civilian traffic and military activity; Covenant scout ships had arrived the day before, and it was assumed more were on the way. A fleet of fifteen ships of mixed tonnage patrolled the system, as dropships deployed marines to population centers. Civilians that could be evacuated were shuttled out on any available space borne transports; those that could not were herded to shelters and defensible areas. Years of reacting moment by moment to Covenant attacks had given UNSC commanders plentiful ideas on ways they could prepare for an attack with a surplus of time.

Crimson, back in ONI’s good graces, warranted expedited deployment. ONI knew that once orbital fighting commenced, shipboard troops were in danger of going down with their courier vessel without ever setting foot on the surface. The Magellan rendezvoused with one of New Carthage’s orbital tethers to drop of an ONI Beta-5 AAG Team, then Crimson headed out on the first Pelican off. They were shuttled to the surface and garrisoned at Rhodes, the capital city and center of the planet’s extensive arms production facilities. Given relatively little intel about their position---the terrain, defensibility, strategic importance---but plenty of free time, they did the usual and found their own answers. And---as usual---they weren’t pleased with the ones they got.

Despite all their preparations, Crimson looked at the situation and worried that their position would be in trouble once fighting commenced. The city itself was defensible, but the spaceport---the best means of escaping the surface---was located outside the normal city limits on a man made island. It was well defended, but only from ground attack; if orbital superiority was lost, the spaceport would be rendered totally indefensible. And should it fall, a full blown panic would likely follow. The heavy emphasis on special forces deployments over traditional troops seemed to indicate, to Crimson at least, that UNICOM had overlooked the terrestrial situation. Crimson quietly made plans for their own escape and waited for things to hit the fan.

The Covenant arrived on May 16th, surging in-system. Roger and his squad mates were forced to sit and watch as their grim predictions came true. The Corvette assigned to point defense over the city, the Contact Harvest [14], rose to challenge a Covenant destroyer descending on Rhodes and was sent burning and broken to the surface in response. Marine resistance on the ground melted away as plasma fire rained down and dropships filled the sky. Communications went dark as planetside relays were glassed the orbital fleet was forced to retreat out of range. For all their preparations, the troops on the ground had discovered the Covenant to be nigh unstoppable.

As forces in the city panicked and fragmented---just as Crimson had predicted---Roger calmly led his team out of the city. Moving out in abandoned Warthogs, their only goal was to put as much distance as possible between themselves and the Covenant. Getting clear of the city, with it’s civilian clogged streets and doomed defense gave them breathing room. If they wanted to strike back, that was the best way: independent of the rest of the force, free of the burden of inferior soldiers. Crimson drove until new Carthage’s rocky terrain proved too treacherous, then ditched the hog and moved on foot. Occasional pockets of UNSC forces managed to escape the city as well, but Crimson avoided these like the plague. The other units were sloppy with their procedure and obvious in their movements, attracting Covenant hunter-killer strike teams that Crimson simply wanted to avoid.

Days passed, and the situation worsened. The fleet in orbit was battered by repeated bouts with the Covenant without any serious progress towards retaking the system, while on the ground the Covenant systematically smashed UNSC resistance. Crimson laid low, hesitant to expose themselves without a good reason. After a week of waiting, however, the Covenant forced their hand. The destroyer that had spearheaded the assault on Rhodes began to glass portions of the surface, working outwards towards the country side. leaving a Citadel-class base behind to keep the spaceport secure. Crimson could no longer afford to wait. They needed a way to contact the fleet for extraction.

The Covenant, they decided, would give them that way. If they couldn’t find a UNSC transmitter, they would steal a Covenant one in it’s place. Making careful note of Covenant troop movements and local Banshee patrol routes, Roger and his team managed to locate an airbase outpost, and began planning an assault. They debated whether to scale the tower stealthily and infiltrate, or clear the way systematically from the bottom up. Stealth might allow them to get inside without a fight, but if things went sour, they would be trapped without an easy escape route. Coming from the bottom, in comparison, would guarantee a fight but also presented an accessible escape route. Eventually, they decided on a simple, straightforward assault. They would clear from the bottom up, until they reached the transmitter. It was a tried-and-true plan.

They hit the base early the next morning, blowing through opposition. James and Roger advanced easily while Mica laid down withering sniper fire. They were inside before the Covenant knew what hit them. After the easy victories they had enjoyed against the rest of the human forces, the aliens were entirely unprepared for the ferocity of three fully armored SPARTANs. Crimson reached the transmitter, and set to work hacking the software and translating it to repurpose it for their needs. In the process, they also sealed the doors to the upper levels, locking out the Covenant they had yet to kill. They had plenty of breathing room and simply had to wait until the comms signal was online.

Or not. In a bizarre coincidence, another Special Warfare Team---who had opted for the stealthy approach that Crimson had decided against---radioed them angrily. The other team had the same idea of contacting the fleet that Crimson had had, only for Crimson’s attack to blow their cover and trap them above. Interference garbled much of the transmission, but it was clear the other commandoes were pissed. Normally Roger would have left them to their fate, seeing as they’d accomplished their mission. But one last transmission piggybacked biometric data, identifying the others as not just special forces, but SPARTANs. Knowing Colonel Standoff would be interested, if nothing else, Roger told Mica and James to hold position and work on the transmitter while he set out to free the unknown super soldiers.

The Covenant were hard pressed to fend off pressure from both sides, but there were three floors and a lot of ground to cover. By the time Roger linked up with the others, he’d cleared two floors, his armor was singed, and he was royally pissed off. He met the new squad in an armory room, and contrary to his anger, found himself intrigued. They were equipped with SPI armor, indicating at first glance they were off the grid: just the kind of SPARTANs Standoff would be curious about.

When Roger inquired their identities, however, he was treated to another bizarre shock---this time a rude one. These SPARTANs were equipped like Crimson originally had been for a reason---they were Scarlet Team, one of Crimson’s fellow Class III squads. And as Scarlet came to the same realization---berating Roger in earnest over how Crimson had screwed up their plan---Roger suddenly remembered they were not just simply another team from the hated program---they were the hated team from the program. Now annoyed with himself for not just leaving them---on top of Scarlet’s attacks---Roger led the three other SPARTANs back through the blood stained corridors to the comm room.

Mica and James were none to happy to see who Roger had brought back with him, but before any real arguments could start, they finally connected to FLEETCOM. Their first request, extraction, was shot down. There were simply too many Covenant in the area. The UNSC was making progress elsewhere on the planet, but Crimson and Scarlet’s region was still too firmly under Covenant control. They were advised to sit tight, disrupt enemy movements, and await reinforcements. Standard, bland orders that were little help with a Covenant destroyer burning the countryside. Frustrated, saddled with a team they hated, and under whelmed by command, Crimson abandoned the airbase. The raid would draw attention sooner or later and it was better to be gone sooner, rather than later.

They returned to their hideout, reluctantly bringing Scarlet with them. At “base”, they received the full story of the other team’s survival. According to Jennifer-347, the team leader, they’d been deployed to guard a city fission reactor at Rhodes and been forced, like Crimson, to retreat to safety when the Covenant attacked. Unlike Crimson, they’d fallen back only after a day of hard fighting, and had hit four Covenant bases on their way to contact the fleet. Scarlet wasn’t receptive to the idea of laying low. Eager to get back into the fight, they pressured Crimson to redeploy with them---Roger saw no reason to rush headlong into a suicidal battle, and used all their diplomatic abilities---not much---to get the other team to stay.

They would have normally let them go, but even Crimson could admit that Scarlet was useful, even as just a distraction. Getting off the unsecured planet was still the number one priority, which meant, as always, finding a ride into space. If anyone from ONI had stopped to talk to the three SPARTANs, they would have been rudely surprised. They were hardly ever on a mission with the goal of actually accomplishing an objective; they were on a mission to get themselves done with the mission, and if an objective was accomplished along the way, it didn’t matter to them. Scarlet noticed, calling them cowards; Crimson shrugged and got back to planning their route off planet.

As it happened, intelligence that Scarlet provided was what gave them the key to their escape. On the way out of the city, the other team had seen civilian ships idling in the spaceport, apparently unmolested. The Covenant had hit Rhodes so hard and so fast that no one had even made it to the transports. With the city now empty, they were ready made escape craft just sitting there, waiting to take them off world. This time, the SPARTANs would make their own way. They would, of course, have to deal with the Covenant first, but killing Covenant was their business. The Citadel base deployed by the destroyer was close enough that it would have to be destroyed before they could attempt takeoff, but this wasn‘t much of a problem---six SPARTANs could do a lot of damage. More pressing was the issue of the destroyer.

The ship was still moving between outlying settlements, glassing each systematically. The vessel was still a serious threat. They had no real way to strike back against it; if it turned it’s weapons on the, they’d be defenseless. Any raid on the spaceport would have to be quick enough to get them spaceward before it could react---and they would have to begin it before the destroyer returned on it’s own. They were on a very tight timetable and the penalty for being late was a swift death. Roger and his team needed time to plan that they simply didn’t have. With Scarlet chomping at the bit to begin the assault---they were principally concerned with taking out the base, not escape, but Crimson hardly cared---they chose to forgo a normal, more meticulous approach, and just wing it.

They headed out for the city on foot, brainstorming as they went. All along the trek was evidence of the Covenant’s wrath. Pockets of Marine forces---the same units Crimson had chosen to avoid---lay dead from plasma fire, and more and more of them appeared as the SPARTANs got closer and closer to the city limits. None had gotten anywhere near as far as Crimson had. Without SPARTAN training, they’d been totally unable to evade the aliens. Crimson and Scarlet, however, did not have that problem. Threading their way through Covenant territory, they edged their way into the city, infiltrating via the aerial aqueducts. The enemy was none the wiser as they slipped into a high rise overlooking the spaceport.

However, the Covenant were still there in force. Of particular note was a massive group of Grunts, overflowing from the base and camped all over the spaceport around it. The Covenant leadership, it seemed, had been expecting a pitched battle and been left with a surplus of cannon fodder. The Elites commanding the contingent looked very annoyed, wasting time marshalling the diminutive creatures around. Crimson and Scarlet had both fought enough engagements to know the danger of underestimating such a massive force, even if it was only just Grunts. The little aliens might be weak, but when taken in by a mob mentality, turned deadly. It was unlikely they had enough ammo to even make a dent in their numbers.

With time running out, they needed a solution. Getting to the base might allow them to use it as a weapon---an overload of the plasma reactor, provided they could escape, would have enough power behind it to take out all but the most outlying troops. But they needed a path there, first. The base was a monolithic fortress, wreathed in energy shields, and buffered on all sides by a solid mass of alien infantry. They needed to make a path, but fighting through wouldn’t work. So, looking to the sky for inspiration, and feeling bold. They decided to make one: a solution, and an actual, physical path. That night, the six SPARTANs stealthily withdrew from the building and placed explosives on the tower nearest to the base.

In the early morning light, as the dawn broke, a thunderous crack filled the air. The tower the SPARTANs had carefully planted explosives on listed and slowly lurched towards the Covenant base. Grunts scrambled out of the way as the tower leaned, struggled, and finally succumbed to gravity, smashing into the Covenant building. The energy shielding winked out of existence as the Titanium A latticework and hardened ceramic paneling cut a ragged gash into the base’s side. Dust plumed outward, debris showered hapless Covenant forces, and chaos beset the survivors. In this atmosphere of confusion, the two SPARTAN teams scaled the side of the building and raced along their elevated, makeshift bridge. Roger, James, and Scarlet, stormed through the tear in the base before the shield could recharge, searching for the it’s plasma reactor. Meanwhile, Mica slipped off the side and headed for the nearest idling transport.

The Covenant inside the base were in better shape than those on the outside, but still had just had a building dropped on them. The five SPARTANs raced through the base, faster than the disorganized security teams could rally against them, and located the plasma reactor. Planting remote detonation charges---they needed to be well clear, naturally, before blowing the base up---they beat a hasty retreat. Time had given the Covenant outside time to organize, and as they left the base they were accosted by thousands of very angry Grunts.

Wave after wave of the aliens scrambled up the building’s side, demanding blood. Crimson and Scarlet held them back, frantically in need of a backup plan. Low on ammo, they were forced to go through with their most basic, likely option: run like hell. Racing back across their fallen skyscraper, gunning down any Grunts that managed to clamber up ahead of them, they made it most of the tower’s length before blowing a hole in it’s side, cramming into a security vault, and sealing themselves inside. They had now way to know how big the plasma reactor’s explosion would be, but they’d be killed soon regardless when the Covenant cornered them---or when the destroyer returned. Throwing caution to the wind and ordering Mica into the air to get clear, Roger detonated the charges.

The world shook and the base transformed into a steaming mass of superheated plasma containing into the air and rivers of liquefied metal streaming across the spaceport tarmac, but miraculously, the SPARTANs survived. Calmly extracting themselves from the rubble of their skyscraper bunker---now, even more ruined than it had been from it’s fall---the five of them mopped up the scattered Covenant remains. Leisurely making their way to the transport, they boarded and Mica broke for orbit---narrowly escaping the destroyer as it angrily returned. In space, they found the situation more positive than expected. UNSC reinforcements were arriving in earnest, and the Covenant fleet, destructive as it had been, looked to be on the ropes. New Carthage seemed to have been saved.

With the battle on the ground winding down and orbit looking more and more secure---and without any easy method of redeploying Crimson and Scarlet available---they were ordered to take the freighter back to Reach. This decision, of course, was heavily influenced by deception on Crimson’s part: Roger ordered James to hack the ship’s manifest to display a full crew of civilians with them as an incentive. After a fleet officer had seen this and given the order to return to Reach, James quietly erased the manifest and any trace of their deception. Grateful to have a ship mostly to themselves for once---and happy they could mostly avoid Scarlet in the commodious transport---they settled in for yet another slipspace ride home.

Ballast (November 2551)

―Mica, surprised by their victory

Crimson and Scarlet’s transport arrived at Epsilon Eridanus in early August, greeted by an ONI Prowler and a Navy destroyer. Both teams were going right back into the fight. A skeleton crew was transferred aboard to maneuver the ship back to Reach, while the SPARTANs were sent their separate ways put into cryo. While Scarlet was loaded onto the Prowler to chase down Insurrectionists on New Harmony, Crimson was placed aboard the Armageddon’s Edge, the Navy destroyer, and dispatched to the colony world of Ballast. It was a standard mission: planet under attack, navy inbound to bolster a beleaguered defense, and SPARTANs needed on the ground.

It was a quiet slipspace jump, routine and boring. Crimson was chilled down for the duration and brought out two days before arrival for briefing. This too, was depressingly rote. Covenant forces on the ground had overwhelmed the UNSC defense and massacred civilians en masse, with the Marines and Army unable to muster an effective counterattack after three weeks o fighting. Meanwhile, the Navy was taking a pounding in orbit, losing ship after ship to the enemy. James wondered aloud at the point of deploying forces on a groundside endeavor when the planet was likely to be glassed anyway; their Navy handler shut him down and continued briefing the team on their targets. The plan, as it stood, was for Crimson to hit dirt, attack a series of Covenant listening posts and sensors relays, and then extract. Their Navy liaison mentioned it was a vital operation---a battalion of Marines were trapped and waiting for a break in coverage to move---but to Crimson, it was same old, same old: boring, drab, and dull.

The Armageddon’s Edge dropped out of slipspace on November third and rocketed in system, dodging Covenant forces. Crimson marshaled alongside a company of ODSTs---the planet was too hot for Pelican insertion---and launched via HEVs for the surface. On the ground, they left the hell jumpers behind and moved out on their own. They maintained the minimum required radio contact with command, just enough to request intel and report destroyed bases. Within two days, the sensor outposts were gone and the Marines had a clear route to escape without being tracked. Crimson sat, waited for orders, and found themselves…bored.

They’d had mission after mission in the past few years that was “fun”---dangerous, thrilling, creative. A dull, routine operation---one that any Class III team could have accomplished---was distinctly unfulfilling. So it was out of boredom---not a lust for glory, not patriotic defense of humanity, not from an eagerness to prove themselves---that Crimson set out, without orders, for the nearest point of interest. The Covenant had set up shop around an arms production facility (whether deliberately or just out of convenience they couldn’t say) and Crimson collectively decided it looked like an entertaining target. They moved out, feigning communications failure to keep themselves clear of their handler, and attacked the arms facility. Bored SPARTANs, they quickly proved, could be deadly. The Covenant, oddly enough, acted preoccupied, yet highly alert. It was strange, considering how far removed from the front the arms facility was. The bulk of the fighting was north of them, as the newly freed battalion of Marines battled their way clear of Covenant territory.

Yet the Covenant were on edge when the three SPARTANs attacked; the outlying sentries went down easily enough, but the remaining forces converged rapidly soon after. Roger ordered his team to fall back, preparing to lure the aliens into an ambush, but the pursuit stopped shortly after Crimson left the immediate area of the arms facility. Now curious as much as bored, Crimson retreated and deliberated their plan of action. Something odd was going on, and they realized it might pay to find out why.

So, trying a more subtle tact, they deployed remotely controlled recon drones, observed from afar via sniper scopes, scanned the area with thermal and radiological sensors, accessed local traffic security cameras, and even hacked into the feed of an orbiting weather satellite for topographical imagery. As they observed, they noticed odd activity within the Covenant ranks; the aliens would cluster themselves tightly into well fortified defensive positions around a central area, but with the exception of a few high ranking Elites, no one ever went inside. This odd deployment sparked the SPARTAN’s curiosity even further. Either there was something the Covenant wanted but couldn’t get, they figured, or there was something important inside the aliens wanted to protect. Either way, it would be satisfying to throw a wrench in the works---keep the Covenant from getting what they wanted, or even better, take it away. And this time, the wrench was of their own choosing, not some ONI spook’s.

When they assaulted the base the second time, three days after going rogue, they did things right. Mica attacked one of the defensive clusters, drawing reinforcements to it, while James and Roger simultaneously hit one of the now weakened positions. Simple, but effective; they flanked, maneuvered, and took out the Covenant in small chunks. The aliens, unable to concentrate their forces like they had the first time couldn’t stop their smart, MJOLNIR-clad assailants. With Mica watching for outside reinforcements and picking off stragglers from the original force, James and Roger slipped inside. They broke into the central area, carved a path through some interesting armored Elites, and found something…unexpected.

The central chamber where no Covenant ventured was not actually part of the facility, but rather a crashed Phantom dropship. Apprehensive about why the Covenant would defend something as mundane as a crashed Phantom---especially with so many forces---they cautiously ventured inside. It had been months since they had encountered their last new Covenant race---the Brutes on Falaknuma---but inside the Phantom, they discovered a new face for the Covenant---a sickly, frail, despicable face. A week earlier, as the UNSC had made a push in orbit and begun to turn the tide, the Covenant’s dogmatic leadership had executed the failing Elite Fleet Master and dispatched a minor Prophet to rally the Covenant forces---hoping religious fervor would succeed where tactics had failed. The Prophet had taken control, brought his personal cruiser in close to the surface to glass a human city as an “example of faith”, and promptly been shot down.

After the cruiser had been holed by a MAC round from a Marathon-class heavy cruiser in orbit, the Prophet had fled in a Phantom---which had also been subsequently shot down by Longsword sorties mopping up survivors. After crashing into the arm’s factory, the Prophet’s second in command---a savvy Elite Ship Master---had had the Prophet quietly hole up to await rescue. They’d been quite successful in hiding him---the UNSC was none the wiser---but the Shipmaster had elected to wait until the planet was more secure before risking a rescue craft on an extraction. Moving in atmosphere was much slower than in space, leaving large ships---and the Prophet would of course settle for nothing less than a large ship---vulnerable to MAC strikes, as the minor Prophet had previously proven.

So there he was---a Covenant religious leader, defenseless, alone, at Crimson Team’s mercy. The UNSC had only gotten a handful of shots at high ranking religious leaders, and of course, wanted every prisoner they could get their hands on for intelligence purposes. A Covenant prophet was a potential gold mine of information; Crimson had skimmed enough classified documents to know the creatures were important, and more importantly, much more fragile than the warrior caste they ruled over. An Elite might have been too disciplined to reveal anything from interrogation or torture, but this frail Prophet would not be. With Mica continuing to keep watch, Roger and James restrained the Covenant leader and awkwardly took him prisoner. Realizing their escapade had gone from an entertaining raid to a serious, tier one intelligence opportunity, they contacted command and requested extraction.

Normally, it would have been hours before a Pelican arrived, if ever. With a Prophet as Crimson’s prisoner, the UNSC had transports inbound within five minutes. Roger rallied at their extraction zone, and contently watched their Pelican slide into view. The Admirals had brought out all the stops; three dropships, surrounded by a flight of Hornets, were assigned to get them off world. As the aircraft came in for a landing, however, things turned ugly. The Covenant had kept a close eye on the Prophet’s crash site once Crimson’s assault cut communications from the shelter, and dispatched a response force the moment he spotted aircraft inbound on the area.

Descending from above in a hail of fire, plasma and pulse lasers flashing, a Covenant CCS-class cruiser attacked with full force. The aliens were throwing caution to the wind; apparently, an entire cruiser was a price they were willing to pay to keep a Prophet out of the human’s blasphemous hands. Narrowly avoiding their burning, crashing, would-be extraction, Crimson grabbed the Prophet---now badly wounded from debris---and started moving. Hijacked civilian Hu-Civ Genets became their new egress, as they tore away from the arms facility with the enemy vessel in hot pursuit. Their one saving grace was the Prophet sitting in their backseat; fanatical Covenant soldiers were far more hesitant than their leaders to kill a Prophet to deny him to the humans. Crimson made a break for the nearest city, swerving through urban sprawl in a mad dash towards the local space elevator, hoping they might be able to use it to escape.

That meager hope was quickl dashed away, as the Cruiser pursuing them open fired and destroyed the elevator, sending it plummeting to the surface. Now dodging Titanium-A rings and carbon nano-tube filaments in addition to Covenant fire, the three SPARTANs feverishly racked their brains for a backup plan. They found it as James searched a municipal database, locating a city based Mass Driver---essentially a low power, planetary MAC---close by. Tearing through city streets at high speed, painfully aware that their Prophet cargo---the only thing keeping the Covenant from vaporizing them---was in grave condition, they raced through the arms district.

Arriving, they darted from their vehicle to the mini-MAC, dodging plasma fire, cutting down Covenant attackers as they dropped from Phantoms and Spirits, sealing the doors to the facility behind them. The shields of the Covenant ship, weakened from holding the cruiser up in the gravity of the planet, staggered---but didn’t fall. Crimson was close to giving up, when over the horizon, the scattered remains of the Hornet flight reappeared---with friends. After the Covenant had scattered them, the survivors had returned to the airbase, and now were back---with Vultures. Missile barrages from the flying tanks cascaded onto the ship’s shields, covering them in fire, as the Hornet fliers swarmed close to the hull, targeting weapons as they tried to charge to fire. The aerial battle gave Crimson time to supercharge the capacitates on the MAC, enough for one last shot.

This time, the Cruiser fell, a massive hole punched clean through the hull. Crimson watched it fall, bewildered that they had survived yet again. Another extraction force arrived---an entire Frigate this time, as the admiralty tried to leave nothing to chance---but the Prophet had already succumbed to his injuries. Crimson, elated to be alive but worried they might be penalized---or just as bad, noticed by ONI and looked into---were anxious as they were shuttled into orbit to the Armageddon’s Edge. Upon arrival, however, they found the fleet flush with unexpected victory, and themselves out of the spotlight.

The Covenant Prophet’s meddling with the invasion---and invasion already going badly---had given the UNSC leeway to pull off a rare, if costly victory. As the fleet celebrated the win---something rare enough to almost be forgotten this far out---no one noticed a SPARTAN team or remembered that they had failed. Crimson received well deserved downtime away from the rest of the crew, forgotten by the Navy. This proved short lived, as ONI apparently still remembered them. Two days after the conclusion of the battle, a priority communiqué came in ordering the Armageddon’s Edge away from Ballast to a new destination. The crew obeyed dutifully, but couldn’t figure out why they were being taken away from the front. Crimson, hacking the orders, discovered the destination, and found themselves equally puzzled. The world they were heading for, Coral, was home to nothing but a few small research outposts and a city or two, yet ONI had been fortifying it with an assortment of vessels since a Covenant raiding party had struck months prior. Wary of mysterious missions, especially when ONI was involved, Crimson found themselves apprehensive yet again as the Armageddon’s Edge left Ballast behind.

Coral (June 2552)

Roger: "Got that data yet?"
James: "Yep. Not much, just a journal from some archeologist. Wonder why the brass is so hot and heavy for it?"
Roger: "Probably just to screw with us."
— Roger and James, after retrieving classified data.

As usual, Crimson was slated for cryo sleep for the majority of the slipspace jaunt to Coral, but before they went under, they aggressively researched everything they could find on the planet, trying to figure out why ONI would deploy them. If they had been in the dog house as they’d been after Falaknuma, it might have been explainable as ONI simply shoving them on a backwater world to get them out of the way, but Crimson’s latest exploits had---mostly unintentionally---buoyed up their reputation to the point where, at the very least, they were no longer considered a liability. So they devoured every bit of information they could find, searching for anything that might give them a clue as to what their mission was.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t much to go on. The CAA fact book log on the planet was practically non-existent, a few short “fun facts” but nothing of actual substance. The planet’s meager population---mostly Islamic---had been evacuated at the first sign of Covenant trouble, so Crimson wasn’t there to assist with an evacuation. Other than an assortment of heavy metal mining endeavors, the planet lacked resources, materials, or any strategic purpose. Yet at their research turned up nothing of interest in the planet’s system, it found plenty in fleet movements. ONI had been siphoning off ships---a disproportionate number of them---from the main fleet, never drawing more than one or two vessels from any front, but pulling from dozens of groups. As far as Crimson was able to determine, ONI was keeping the entire thing tightly under wraps; FLEETCOM appeared to be in the dark.

Intrigued, Crimson tried to dig deeper---examine crew rosters, deployment orders, inter-ship communications---but found themselves unexpectedly blocked by high powered ONI security software. Wary of going up against ONI’s infamously devious firewalls---and even more concerned about what would happen if they were caught---Roger ordered James to back off. They didn’t have time to do a proper, slowly executed hack; if they tried in a rush, it was just asking to get caught. So, with more questions than answers, Crimson was put into cryo.

The Armageddon’s Edge dropped out of slipspace six million miles from Coral, on June 7th, 2552. The new year had come and gone during their months in slipspace, but what hadn’t gone was the Covenant. As the Armageddon’s Edge moved in system, sensors picked up the signature of a Covenant battle fleet orbiting the planet. Tattered and destroyed UNSC craft hung in orbit, evidence of a battle that had been fought---and lost---weeks, maybe even months, before their arrival. The Armageddon’s Edge, they realized, must have hit a temporal eddy during transit, slowing down the journey and taking them out of sync with the rest of the fleet. Standard operating procedure in such a scenario generally consisted of contacting command and withdrawing. A lone destroyer was hardly a match for a Covenant battle cluster.

Yet their signal to command was instead routed to ONI, who then delivered priority one orders. They were to move in system as fast as possible, where the Armageddon’s Edge was then to release ground forces---ominously consisting of only Crimson---and draw fire away from them. Once on the ground, Crimson would be granted access to a second set of heavily encrypted orders. The mission was a textbook ONI shadow play, but there was no way out but straight through.

Crimson launched by Pelican on June 8th, heading for the ground. The Armageddon’s Edge managed to draw the Covenant off, giving Crimson a narrow window for insertion, even though the reason why they were there at all was still a mystery. On landing, they quickly moved away from their drop zone---Pelicans attracted Covenant attention like nothing else could, and in Crimson’s experience were frequently bad luck---and set out. They’d landed high in mountain ranges of Coral’s main continent, home to massive forests of deciduous trees, and figured avoiding Covenant attention would be an easy task. Instead, near constant air patrols, frequent ground sweeps, and ubiquitous sentry posts limited their routes of advance and made progress painfully slow. It took two days to find a position secure enough to stop and decrypt their orders. Frustrated, surrounded by an unexplainably heavy Covenant presence, and cut off from support, they took shelter in a cave system, hoping for answers.

Their expectation of an actual explanation as to what exactly they were doing on a doomed, worthless planet was met by sore disappointment. The encrypted files contained little more than coordinates and the name of a data file to retrieve. Crimson Team had been screwed, sent on a suicide mission with no reason. Now as angry as they were frustrated, they contemplated their situation. They had thousands of Covenant on the ground between them and their objective, whatever it was, aircraft patrolling constantly, cruisers in orbit, minimal supplies, and no prospects of extraction. It was a categorically botched mission.

Like usual, their best bet was unfortunately to do as ONI asked. Sitting still was tantamount to waiting to get glassed. Five days passed, and the three SPARTANs slowly inched towards their target. They avoided contact at all costs, bypassing hundreds of Covenant outposts, sentries, and patrols. It was dangerous to leave so many enemies behind them, but their had no choice. Any attack would escalate very quickly. Hopefully, their mission could be accomplished entirely without alerting the Covenant to their presence; if not, they would have to engage quickly and bang out even quicker. In orbit, things were growing tense. The Armageddon’s Edge was drawing Covenant attention just as ONI had instructed, and was paying dearly for it. So far, the destroyer had been able to escape via slingshot manuvers around gravity wells, but the Covenant were getting wise, separating their fleet---confident in the knowledge that no additional human forces were on their way---to cover potential escape routes. The Armageddon’s Edge was being boxed in.

Crimson quickened their pace. Once the Armageddon’s Edge was cornered, they’d be dead. Narrowly avoiding detection, they managed to make it to the target within a day. On arrival, they found nothing save for an abandoned archeological base. Sneaking inside, they searched for any threats, but found none. Wary, frustrated, and sick of ONI’s mysterious bullshit, they located a terminal and started downloading the files ONI had requested. Roger ordered James to take a peak at the data, but what they skimmed indicated little of interest beyond bland archeological data. At this, they finally gave up on figuring out the mystery. There were simply too many hoops to jump through for it to be worth their continued attention. Whatever ONI was trying to hide, chances were that it wasn’t interesting enough to warrant so much effort on Crimson’s part. James finished downloading the file, wiped the computer, and Roger ordered the team to prepare to move out. As they waited for their next set of orders---scheduled to open when they finished the first part of the mission---things started happening very quickly.

In orbit, the Armageddon’s Edge suddenly changed course, diving into combat with the closest Covenant ship---a CCS-class Cruiser. As the computer finished erasing it’s files, it beamed two separate sets of orders out. The first went to the Armageddon’s Edge, ordering it in system and to immediately engage the Covenant---as a distraction. The second set went to Crimson, alerting them to the location of a Black Cat-class subprowler, docked two kilometers away. Unfortunately, the transmission out had the side effect of drawing Covenant attention---a lot of it. Phantom dropships swooped in, releasing infantry, Wraiths, and Ghosts. Roger, tired of sneaking around, tired of a stupid mission, and most of all tired of ONI bullshit, led the team back to the motor pool, grabbed a Warthog, and tore out of the building. Most of the Covenant were expecting panicked civilian survivors trying to get a message off. Instead, they were taken by surprise as Roger and company confronted them, heavily armed and looking for a fight.

The Covenant regulars broke and Crimson smashed through the unprepared alien perimeter. Their luck didn’t last, unfortunately. They’d made it barely a kilometer when Banshee fighters dropped onto their tail. In the dense foliage, it was impossible to dodge their fire; a close exploding fuel rod round blew off one of their wheels and left them on foot. The same thick canopy made them hard to hard to track by air, but the Covenant were not beaten. Special Forces Elites dropped in, melting out of the shadows using active camo. Roger took an energy sword swipe to the thigh, leaving him more pissed off than injured.

With Roger angry, the run to the Blackcat transformed into a simple brawl. James and Mica had to drag him aboard, as he fought to kill any Elite within his reach. By the time the three of them reached the subprowler, they were out of ammo, using scavenged weapons, and surrounded. Still, even with Mica and James ready to go, Roger continued killing Covenant, running out of ammunition, taking Covenant weapons, and repeating the cycle by killing more Covenant. Above, a Covenant cruiser appeared, a clear sign that it was time to leave. James finally physically dragged Roger aboard. They powered up the small stealth craft and broke for orbit, but the cruiser launched fighters. Straining to dodge plasma fire in their sluggish vessel, they watched from the sidelines as luck again turned their way---this time aided, unexpectedly, by ONI subterfuge.

The Armageddon’s Edge, miraculously still intact after it’s bout with the cruiser, dropped low into the atmosphere. The burning vessel was past the point of no return, it’s slipspace drive destroyed by an emergency reactor vent, but it still had weapons online. Gunfire from point defense emplacements lanced out and blew the Seraph fighters out of the sky. The CCS-class cruiser that had prompted Crimson’s departure tried to shoot them down with pulse lasers and received a MAC round to the nose for it‘s trouble. Crimson broke out of atmosphere and continued towards a safe slipspace entrance point, now happily in the clear.

The same could not be said for the Armageddon’s Edge. Even as the Covenant ignored the small Black Cat leaving the system, they converged on the doomed destroyer. Caught in a gravity well, power failing, and surrounded by Covenant ships, the Armageddon’s Edge was not long for the world. It had been ONI’s sacrificial lamb, given up to the Covenant to save Crimson’s life---and whatever it was that they had recovered. It’s crew and Captain were sacrificing themselves for a mission they knew little about on faith that it would serve a greater purpose. Crimson simply sat and watched. From their rear hull camera, they had a perfecr view as Covenant cruisers swarmed the Armgeddon’s Edge, burning away chunks of the hull with plasma torpedoes before finally cutting it cleanly in two with an energy projector. The scattered remains of the Armgeddon’s Edge cooled and quickly became just another piece of debris in a system already littered with dead ships, as Crimson’s subprowler transitioned into slipspace and headed home.

Sigma Octanus IV (July 2552)

"Die screaming."
―Roger, killing a Covenant Elite that had injured James

Epsilon Eridani (August 2552)

―Roger, seeing the listing of Covenant forces as the full Covenant force emerged.

Mica: "Reach is gone, Roger? Are you not getting this?"
Roger: "I get it. Reach is gone. But we’re not."
―Roger and Mica just after the Fall of Reach
"They think now, of all times, is the best point to start a coup. Are they fucking brain dead?"
―Roger, in combat with revolutionary Insurrectionist forces.

Mica: "You don’t think Standoff’s still here, do you?"
Roger: "If he is, he’d better be ready to go."
―Roger and Mica, planning to rescue Colonel Griffin Standoff.

Sol System (October 2552 thru November 2552)

"Well, fancy meeting you here."
―Roger, reunited with Laszlo-108 for the first time since training.

"Time for fun."
―Roger, during the Battle of Ganymede.

"You’d think the Brutes would have better things to do than invading the goddamn moon."
―Roger, annoyed at not being able to deploy to Earth.

"Alright sir, see you on the other side. Happy hunting."
―Roger, saying goodbye to Laszlo-108 at the Battle of Earth

"Lets go make it a redder planet."
―Roger, preparing for the liberation of Mars

Post War (2553-2596)

Inner Colony Liberations(2552-2553)

New Jerusalem (December 2552)
Roger-341: "Nothing like a little precision teamwork Crimson."
James-319: "And that was nothing like a little precision teamwork"
―Roger and James during the liberation of New Jerusalem.
Chi Rho (December 2552)
James: "Whats better than a planet full of stranded Covenant?"
Roger: "Dead Covenant"
―Roger and James, remarking on the liberation of Chi Rho.
Te (January 2553)
"An entire planet? Full of hunters? This'll be more fun than a can of worms!"

Balaho (January 2553)
"An entire planet. Full of grunts? This is gonna be a blast!"

Eayn (February 2553)
James: "An entire planet. Full of jackals? This'll be---"
Roger: "Shut it."
―Roger and James
Doisac (February 2553)
James-319: "Hear that Rog? Someone thinks I’m excellent."
Roger: "Well, at least that makes two of you."
―Roger and James.

Searching for a Purpose (2553-2554)

"When you survive for so long, have so many close calls go your way, and make it through the worst stuff you can think of, it’s more than just “painful” when it all falls apart."
―Roger, on the death of his team.

Executive Operations Security(2554-2562)

"Getting paid to do what I love. I think that’s the definition of happiness right there."
―Roger, talking about his career at Ex-Ops


Long Flight Home (2562-2594)

"Thirty years by sub light flight, give or take. Better than being dead, I suppose."
―Roger, remaking on the long voyage back to civilized space.

Expanding Careers (2594-2596)

"Bigger, better, and more badass.[15]"
―Roger, talking about his plans for Ex-Ops.

Necros Era (2596-26??)

SPARTAN-IV Contract (2596-2610)

"I’m going to make one thing very clear. I’m not here for you. I’m here for me. Now drop and give me fifty."
―Roger, on his first day of lessons.

Final Campaigns (2610-2616)

"How the hell did I get myself mixed up in all this bullshit again. Oh right. Money."
―Roger, arguing with himself during Operation: HELLFIRE.

First Contact (2616-26??)

"So you can kill people, right? Guess what. So can I"
―Roger, during first contact with the Necros.


"What’s with the goatee?"
―Anonymous SPARTAN-IV Operative


Roger out of armor, post war.

As a SPARTAN, Roger had an intimidating physical presence, standing close to seven feet tall, even without armor. Weighing in at 125 kilograms and standing at 210 centimeters, he was slightly over the average weight for a SPARTAN, with a thick build and incredible strength for his size. With dark black hair and features, Roger had little concern for duty regs, unlike many SPARTANs, and true to his independent nature, broke them on several occasions. Varying his appearance during training and the wore, he experimented with everything from corn rows, to close cropped buzz cuts, to even a small afro, as well as a variety of different beards, mustaches, and goatees. After the death of his team on Doisac, Roger settled on a look, shaving his head and wearing a small goatee on his chin, which he had also briefly worn after the death of his other two squad mates during augmentation.

Like most SPARTANS, Roger bore the scars of many hard fought battles, sustained from years of fighting. He boasted several scars on his main torso from shrapnel wounds and stray enemy fire, a scar on his thigh where he was grazed by a Covenant energy a sword, and several marks from an emergency surgery he underwent after having his arm crushed by a Jiralhanae gravity hammer. In addition to his battlefield scars, however, Roger also had several that were more mundane; as a baby, he underwent surgery to remove an infected preauricular pit, and sported several burn scars on his backside from an incident with the family fireplace at the age of six[16].

Mental Report


"It’s a lot easier for me to tell you the ways I’m an asshole than for me to lie about how nice and kindhearted I am."
―Roger, describing himself

As a young child, Roger was not much different from his older self. Preciously intelligent, and extremely independent, he displayed his trademark sarcastic manner almost as early as he could talk and was a trial for his mother, who raised him as a single parent after his father’s death serving in the navy. After his induction into the ARES Program, Roger’s independence became one of his hallmark characteristics, setting him apart from the others even as he maddened his instructors. Suspicious and apprehensive about the program from it’s start, he realized vaguely that what was being done to him was wrong, and these feelings eventually evolved into a suspicious resentment of ONI and it’s affiliates. In the aftermath of his team’s death at Doisac, Roger rapidly became hard and cynical, pessimistic about life and humanity in general. Despite this, he made a habit of never giving up, which he would view as one of his strongest traits upon reflection.

Despite not being much of a people person, Roger did have some redeeming qualities that helped him to interact with others. Deeply loyal to his squad and most other members of the ARES Program, Roger felt a vague kinship with most other SPARTANs (aside from a select few he vehemently disliked) and was most comfortable in their presence. In direct opposite of this, however, he viewed the rest of the UNSC, humanity, and even the rest of the galaxy with utter indifference; besides a few choice groups that he liked or disliked, he worried only about the welfare of himself and his friends. However, while he was not the most broad minded of individuals, Roger was extremely loyal to anyone he considered a friend, and would defend them to the death. Exceedingly courageous, he was also an excellent leader, setting a solid example for the people around him.

However, in many ways, Roger’s faults distinctly outweighed his strengths. Direct and confrontational, he had a tendency to be blunt and very rude, antagonizing others and trying the patience of those around him. Sarcastic with a biting wit, he could be very offensive to others, often deliberately so, and was very up front with his opinions, even when they were negative. Roger was also very self serving, viewing everything from a position of what would best benefit him---though in many cases, such as with his squad, he would extend this to the people he was close to and consider them as naturally as he did himself. Somewhat vain as well, Roger took great pride in his personal appearance, an oddity among SPARTANs. Roger also had a distinct, grim sense of humor that would often turn ugly, especially when he was angry or upset. Roger was also very rational, but this too often presented itself in a narcissistic way; he would often carefully examine situations from an impartial and logical point of view, deciding which options best helped himself (and his team), with no regard to whether or not it helped others. He also had a slight temper, though he worked hard to separate this from his thinking, letting it out only in his verbal interaction with others.

Perhaps were Roger departed most significantly from the normal SPARTAN outlook, however, was in his loyalty---or lack of it---to the UNSC. Despite the pain of his father’s death, his mother’s paralyzing stroke, and the agony of living with a child services agent, Roger had a deep zeal for life and greatly enjoyed the independence he had before being inducted into the military. During training, Roger resisted the indoctrination that brainwashed many of the other candidates, in large part because he resented losing his freedom. With this resentment came indifference to the rest of humanity and the UNSC itself, and the only thing that truly kept him in service was loyalty to his squad and the realization that the Covenant threat was to great to ignore. As a result of this indifference, Roger had few qualms about exploiting the UNSC or breaking regulations---and his team’s “less than legal” acquisition of Mjolnir armor and his disregard for appearance regulations were both prime examples of this.


Crimson Team

"Crimson was my family. They’re the only one’s who’ve ever cared about me, just for me, and they’re the only ones I miss when I go to bed at night. "
―Roger, about the significance of his relationship with his team.

Roger was paired with the four other members of Crimson Team on his first day of training. Despite some initial difficulty and strain, they quickly became his new family, the only touch of real happiness he would have in his life after his induction into the ARES Program. While several of it’s members, including Maggie-327 and Jacob-303, struggled with the training, Crimson nevertheless became one of the most accomplished squads in the program, scoring high marks and taking fourth place in the Top Honors competition. Despite losing two members during augmentation, they continued to work excellently together, ranking up in the tops of the NAVSPECWAR units alongside fellow Ares Detachment units Gold Team and Tan Team, as well as other units like Noble, Herald, and Gentry. During combat, Roger generally played whatever role that was needed, whether it be infiltration, assault, or distraction, while Mica covered long distance shooting and James focused on demolitions and close quarters.

Despite some initial difficulty and strain, they quickly became his new family, the only touch of real happiness he would have in his life after his induction into the ARES Program. Roger maintained a close, personal, almost sibling like relationship with his team. Utterly loyal to them, they were some of the only people he felt true kinship with and that he included in his circle of trust. It was his loyalty to them that kept him in the UNSC, and their support strengthened him whenever he was weak. One of the few people he felt legitimately cared about him, and their deaths left him a hollow man, cynical and bitter.

Scarlet Team

"Every class has to have it’s dickheads, pricks, morons, pushovers, and losers. Scarlet is really convenient. They’re the whole package."
―Roger, on Scarlet Team

Scarlet Team, a fellow Class III Team that served during the war, was one of the few groups that Roger actually disliked. Starting with a fierce rivalry during training, the two squads found themselves divided on practically everything. During the battle of Sargasso, Crimson was paired with Scarlet for a joint assignment. Still somewhat bitter from losing the Top Honors to Crimson, Scarlet viewed Roger and his team as poorly skilled amateurs, holding them in contempt. Crimson, meanwhile, viewed Scarlet as egotistical pushovers. During the operation, tempers flared, and though the operation was a success, the two teams parted ways happy to be rid of each other.


"He was more like us than I think he ever would admit, but in the end, I don’t think he was quite as strong. He realized what had been done to him was wrong, knew he deserved more---and never did a damn thing about it."
―Roger, on Laszlo-108

Laszlo-108, known to Roger for the first eight years he knew him as Laszlo Katona, was Roger’s primary instructor during his training. While somewhat resentful of Laz because of his role in the program, Roger and his team nevertheless took a shine to him, and viewed him as one of the few people they could trust. During the last segment of training, James-319, under orders from Roger, hacked into the ARES Program private comm database and unearthed a wealth of records related to the program, learning about the behind the scenes problems that Laszlo faced. During training, Laszlo took a bit of a shine to Crimson, because of their independence, and worked closely with them on several occasions.

Because of this, Crimson inherited many of Laszlo’s views and motivations, though Roger was less swayed by them than the others due to his natural skepticism. After finishing training, Roger and his team were deployed to the frontlines and would not encounter Laszlo again for almost three years, when they ran into him and Brown Team during the Battle of Earth. Serving alongside Laszlo during the opening stages of the conflict, Roger grew to respect him even more once he saw him in combat, and unlike with Scarlet, Crimson would part on good terms with Brown Team. In the aftermath of Doisac and his team’s death, Roger would continue to hold Laszlo in high regard, but he would also pity him---after a long deployment with him on Earth and reading the hacked program logs, he realized that he was very similar to Laz in a lot of ways, and felt bad for his former teacher for not being able to leave his past as a SPARTAN behind and live a normal life.

Colonel Griffin Standoff

"He was an asshole who played with people’s lives and tossed them away. But at least he had the decency to know it was wrong and help them wherever he could."
―Roger, on Colonel Griffin Standoff

The primary project director for the ARES Program, Colonel Griffin Standoff was a mystery to Roger for much of his early years. A former marine officer, the Standoff had been transferred away from his unit at the request of ONI and placed in charge of the program. When Standoff first interviewed Roger, he realized immediately that something was wrong, because the Colonel was noticeably uncomfortable with his task. During training, Roger would come to dislike Standoff for his role in his abduction, especially in the aftermath of augmentation. Things changed somewhat when Crimson Team unearthed a series of records and logs dating back to the program’s inception, including Standoff’s private journal, and Roger realized he was just a strongly patriotic man caught in a bad spot, troubled in his role with the program even as he accepted it out of duty.

Because of this, it was Standoff Crimson turned to after commandeering several suits of MJOLNIR Mark V Armor. Contacting their former CO, they trusted him with the knowledge of their actions, and asked for his help in keeping their use of the suit off the radar---at least until they had proven how good they were with it. Standoff responded overwhelmingly, though he was genuinely surpised; not at Roger and his team stealing armor, but at them for telling him. Using the clearances he had learned to use while serving as the ARES Program director, he managed to scrub the records of any trace that they were using the armor, and would intercept and redact every report concerning them from 2549 until 2551, eliminating any trace of their use of the suit.

Sunef ‘Mhackphistho

"I don’t really know why I asked him, or even why he accepted. I guess it just seemed like a better idea than what I’d been doing before"
―Roger, referring to Sunef

Sunef ‘Mhackphistho, a Sangheili Honor Guard and former member of the Priory of Regret, was without a doubt Roger’s strangest friend. Serving during the war as part of the elite Priory of Regret, Sunef specialized in one thing: finding and killing SPARTANs. Responsible for the death of several demons over the years, he was present at the Massacre at K7-49 and participated in the ambush of the human demons during OPERATION:TRIDENT. Roger first met the Sangheili commando during the liberation of the Sol System, and the Elite, shamed by his presence in the Honor Guards, quickly proved himself to be resourceful and capable fighter, saving Roger’s life on several occasions.

Following the Battle of Doisac, Roger contacted the Elite and offered him a position as his partner in Executive Operations Security. The Elite accepted, and the two began a long partnership. Over time, Roger would grow to be as comfortable around---and as loyal---to Sunef as he had been to his squad mates.



"If it kills things, it‘s good."
―Roger, regarding weapons

Roger using the M932 DMR.

A jack of all trades, Roger was not picky when it came to weapons, using whatever was available and best fit the situation. Skilled with a variety of different firearms and other weapons, he was not one to rely on stealth, and rarely used suppressors or sound mufflers, preferring firepower over covertness. Because Crimson Team was forced to operate under the radar to keep a low profile and hide their Mjolnir armor, they were issued leftover weapons, mainly army issue, and Roger and the rest of Crimson came to prefer them over standard navy gear.

M392 Designated Marksman Rifle
The M392 Designated Marksman Rifle is an air-cooled, magazine-fed, gas-operated select-fire bullpup rifle that fires 7.62x51mm ammunition. Seeing widespread use throughout the UNSC until late 2548, Roger first encountered this weapon after being forced to rely on Army equipment, and it quickly became a mainstay of his load out. Appreciating it’s firepower, versatility, and precision, it became his primary armament during the war and after, buying it in particular during his time at Ex-Ops Security,

M319 Individual Grenade Launcher
The M319 Individual Grenade Launcher, more formally known as the Individual Grenade Launcher, Caliber 40mm, M319 was a single-shot, break-action explosives launcher used by the United Nations Space Command, specifically the UNSC Army. During the period immediately after Crimson Team recovered their Mjolnir Armor from Algolis, they were forced to make use of leftover equipment, much of it Army, to keep a low profile. During this time, Roger grew fond of several army systems, the M319 in particular, and continued using it even after Navy weaponry was made available again.

M6G Personal Defense Weapon System
The M6G-B PDWS was a high caliber pistol used by UNSC forces during the Human Covenant War. Because of it’s extreme firepower, small size, and cross service compatibility, the M6G-B was a favorite of Roger’s, and he used it as his primary sidearm throughout the war.

M45 Tactical Shotgun
The M45 Tactical Shotgun, a special-purpose weapon used in any situation where the range of engagement is limited and when over-penetration is not desirable, but maximum stopping power is required, was another weapon commonly used by Roger. While James-319 was the primary close quarters specialist on Crimson Team, Roger would also fill in for him on occasion, and preferred the shotgun over submachine guns because of it’s increased stopping power.

CQC WS Combat Knife
Standard issue among all branches of the UNSC military, the CQC WS Combat Knife was one of Roger’s most favored weapons. With an affinity for knives, Roger was a specialist in their uses and greatly enjoyed making use of them. While operating in a covert fashion, Roger would often rely solely on his combat knife, using it to quietly eliminate targets so he did not have to carry extra, silenced equipment.

MA37 Individual Combat Weapon System
The Primary Service Rifle of all branches up until the Battle of Earth, the MA37 (designated the MA5 by the UNSC Marines & Navy) was one of Roger’s primary weapons after the M932 DMR. Though less accurate than the standard M932 and BR55 Rifles, the MA37 combined extreme firepower and a high rate of fire into a compact, highly mobile package. As such, it was one of Roger’s primary service weapons during the Great War, and when he went solo, he would frequently purchase old military surpluses of it.


"I‘m not going to even try and count how many times my armor‘s saved me and my team. Without it…we‘d have been gone by 2550."
―Roger, regarding his team‘s good luck in recovering MJOLNIR armor.

Roger in his Mark V(CQC) Armor.

Initally equipped with the SPI armor system, like the rest of his Class III, Roger and his team would operate in it for only a short time, before finding and recovering several sets of working [[w:c:halo:MJOLNIR Powered Assault Armor|MJOLNIR Powered Assault Armor] from [[w:c:halo:Algolis|Algolis. These suits, while mismatched, were highly advanced prototypes of the Mark V, and would not be issued to the SPARTAN-IIs until more than three years later.

Semi-Powered Infiltration Armor Mark II
Far more advanced than the ODST ODST Battle Armor and including special photo-reactive panels to conceal the wearer from detection, the SPI armor was a potent suit when worn by specialists like the Spartans. Because of cost constraints, the ARES Program was unable to equip it’s SPARTANs with MJOLNIR, and was forced instead to deploy them in SPI, which, while advanced, was much less powerful than MJOLNIR.

The Mark V/Close-Quarters Combat variant was built in 2548, emphasizing on maximizing the wearer's performance in boarding actions and urban operations, though honoring its namesake it also saw overall use with the Spartans' CQC specialists. Despite not specializing in CQC combat, Roger used the suit extensively after the fortunate the Battle of Algolis. During the battle, Crimson Team infiltrated one of the many weapons testing grounds on the planet and recovered three suits of mix-matched MJOLNIR Mark V prototypes, using them extensively throughout the war. After retiring from the military, Roger returned to Algolis, now abandoned, and recovered a second suit he had deliberately left behind; equipped with this suit, he would use it in his career at Executive Operations Security, and would upgrade it constantly to keep it as close to the cutting edge of military technology as he could.

MJOLNIR Mark VII Powered Assault Armor
The latest iteration of Project MJOLNIR, the Mark VII featured a wide variety of various improvements over previous generations. It includes fully functional energy shields and active camouflage and other minor equipment integrated to make the suit more powerful and effective than ever. Because the suit wasn’t issued to UNSC forces until after the Great War, Roger’s first experience with the suit was test runs during his work with the SPARTAN-IV Program. During his time on deployment with the unit, he would use it extensively, but when operating freelance, he would again be restricted to his heavily modified MJOLNIR Mark V/CQC Armor.

Strengths and Weaknesses


"A lot of people think it‘s easier to not specialize in anything, because then they don‘t have to put the time and effort into making sure they know it inside and out. Those people are stupid. When you act without a specialty, you don‘t just have to know one weapon, you have to know them all."
―Roger about his “specialties”.

Selected because of his DNA’s similarity to that of the original Class I SPARTAN-IIs, Roger was among a select few Class III members with DNA nearly identical to that of the original IIs. With a genetic code only minimally different from the optimum requirements that were Catherine Halsey’s standards, Roger was the third closest, following close behind Connor-338 and Rachel-343. While not set in stone, the genetic markers were considered by and large to be an effective prognosticator of future performance, and Roger certainly held true to the rule. Skilled in a variety of weapons, skills, and styles, Roger was by far one of the strongest members of the entire Class III. A true jack of all trades after the heart of previous operators such as John-117, Roger was skilled in everything from close quarters combat to long range marksmanship.

Despite this, there were some fields were Roger showed a particular liking too, if not a specialty for. Physically intimidating and very robust, he was a crushing force on the battlefield, plowing through anyone in his way. Because of this, he preferred open combat and frontal assaults over stealth and infiltration, and was at his best in a thick firefight. That was not to say, however, that he did not have any skill at tactics; Roger was also a decent tactician, (though by no means a master) and it was for these reasons, not his combat skills, that he was promoted to squad leader. Extremely intelligent with an inquisitive mind, he was very logical and reasonable, approaching every situation from a coldly detached perspective. Because of his slight temper, he worked extra hard to remain disconnected, and his plans were often the most logical, though not always the most compassionate---if ten civilians had to be sacrificed to save eleven, he would do it without a second thought.

Additional fields were Roger was at his happiest included hand-to-hand combat and medium range engagements. In particular, Roger had a fervent love of knives, blades, and practically anything sharp; during the inner colony liberations, he took a liking to carrying a Type-1 EW/S, better known as the energy sword, and his elite partner, Sunef ‘Mhackphistho, would later teach him it’s fine arts once they began working together. In addition, Roger would heavily prefer combat from mid range, and favored weapons such as the BR55 Battle Rifle and the M932 DMR (with a distinct fondness for the M932). Roger was also an excellent leader, setting a solid example for the people around him and leading by example.


"Point us at the enemy, and stay out of our way."
―Roger, once again refusing assistance.

Despite his strengths, however, Roger was far from perfect. Thanks to his lack of specialization, several of members of the ARES Program, even those with drastically lower genetic matches, were more polished in particular fields, and Roger also forsook less combat oriented fields, such as piloting, communications, electronic warfare, and science, preferring to hone his combat skills and leave the more technical areas to his teammates. This would occasionally cause problems when he was separated from one or more of his squad mates, limiting his options in the field.

While problematic, this weakness was the least of his worries. Because of his rude, direct, and sarcastic demeanor, as well as his indifference to anyone outside his close circle of friends, Roger had extreme difficulty interacting with mainline personnel; when he wasn’t instilling arguments and being divisive, he would frequently refuse assistance, preferring to work only with his team, occasionally putting both himself and his team into danger. Coupled with his fearless personality and daredevil habits, this meant that it was not uncommon for Crimson Team to go into an engagement with extremely lopsided odds.

Quotes & conversations


"They’re just lining up to die!"
―Roger during combat against Unggoy.

"This has got to be bad for my health.[17]"
―Roger, after narrowly surviving a Covenant plasma grenade.

"Anyone want chicken?"
―Roger, killing a Kig-yar

"Scratch one bad guy"
―Roger, eliminating an enemy.

"Lets do that again sometime."
―Roger, after eliminating a group of Covenant

"Another dead"
―Roger, killing an enemy.

"Where did you think you were going?"
―Roger, strangling an Unggoy

"Here’s hoping they don’t surrender"
―Roger, just before attacking a group of hostiles.

"That was fulfilling"
―Roger, after dispatching several Lances of Covenant Troops.

"Detecting motion. Rifles up."
―Roger, giving orders during a search and destroy operation.

"Just point us at the enemy, and stay out of our way.[18]"
―Roger to his local commander, later used as the motto for his team.

"Fighting Covenant is real simple; hold onto your guts while you rip out theirs[19] "
―Roger, elaborating on fighting the Covenant

"Covenant never look so ferocious with their heads blown off."
―Roger, elaborating on the Covenant

"James, do me a favor and call command and ask when we get to kill something."
Roger-341 during downtime.

"Despite myself, I don’t think I hate anyone, not in the way other people think of it. Even ONI and the Covenant, who stole my life and killed my friends, I don't hate them. I dislike them, yes, and I don't trust them---but hate is not even in the equation."
―Roger, thinking aloud.

"They always lock the door. You’d think they’d have learned by now. Doesn’t look like there’s a key – that would be too easy. The console to unlock the door is probably hidden in some room twelve floors up or something… how does that make sense?[20]"
―Roger, exasperated during an operation during his career as a private military contractor.

"I'm no SPARTAN; I'm just a guy with a suit of Mjolnir and a bad attitude.[21]"
―Roger, interrogating a prisoner while working for Ex-Ops Security

"The truth can hurt. But lies are worse."
―Roger, confiding in a friend

"Open the doors - or I'll open them for you.[22]"
―Roger, threatening a group of pirates while searching for mission objective as a private military contractor.

"There's got to be a better way to make a living"
―Roger, after a particularly stressful mission.

"Never trust a bartender with bad grammar."
―Roger, offering advance to a young marine after leaving the service.

"Ambush, ambush, Crimson Team take cover!"
―Roger, during an ambush by enemy forces on Pearl III

"We ain’t got time to bleed, Scarlet"
―Roger, joking with Scarlet Team in a rare moment.[23]

"Just shut up and kill something.[24]"
―Roger, angry at Scarlet during combat.

"Your all mouth, Scarlet."
―Roger, annoyed at Scarlet Team

"Blowing stuff up isn't a democracy"
―Roger to Rachel-343, regarding a mission plan during the Battle of Earth

"Hello misplaced aggression."
―Roger, killing Unggoy infantry


Roger: "Mica, status report"
Mica: "Heavy Covenant resistance. Nothing I can‘t handle."
―Roger and Mica-311 during deployment on Verent

James: "Gunner ready and loaded"
Roger: "Driver ready to kill some stuff."
Mica: "Lets hit it."[25]
James, Mica, and Roger during a deployment on Levosia.

James: "Debris blocking our path here sir. We’re gonna need to plant a charge and blow our way through. And I’m not just saying that cause I love to blow stuff up."
Roger: "Yes you are."
―James and Roger on Falaknuma.
Jennifer-347: "Why don’t they just die?"
Roger-341: "Well, this wouldn’t take so long if you could aim."
―Exchange between Roger and Scarlet Team member Jennifer-347 during joint deployment.
Roger-341: "You guys have no idea what it‘s like to nearly lose a teammate."
Jennifer-347: "And why do you think that is?"
―Exchange between Roger and Scarlet Team member Jennifer-347 during joint deployment.
Michael-356: "Mica, I think your CO might have an anger problem."
Roger-341: "And I think you might have an intelligence problem."
―Exchange between Roger, Mica-311, and Scarlet Team member Michael-356 during joint deployment.

Mica: "A planetary mass driver against an attack cruiser?."
Roger: "We can bloody their nose a bit, at least."
James: "We'll make em regret the day they blew up Crimson Team!"
—Roger, Mica, and James commenting on their odds during the Battle of Ballast.

Arnold: "Distract? How the hell do we do that?"
Roger: "Try not getting shot. "
―Roger and Arnold-351 during a joint deployment on Sargasso.

ONI Controller: "We wanted you to disable that cruiser, not destroy it!"
Roger: "Oh well, score one for us then."
ONI Controller: "Soldier, there is a high priority ONI agent aboard and---"
Roger: Oh right, score two.
—Exchange between Roger and ONI Controller during the Battle of Earth.


  • Roger’s name was one of the many random placeholder names used for the ARES Program article, and was chosen by the author because he thought it sounded cool.
  • Several elements of Roger’s character are drawn from Chris Jacobs, including his skepticism of governments, his last name, and, most notably, his career choice.
  • The article includes several references to the Gears of War series, notably the Standed in particular.
  • Roger was partly inspired by wondering what would happen if Simon-G294 had been a Spartan II Class III, and then wondering what a mercenary SPARTAN would be like.
  • Roger is considerably more normalized and less disciplined than other SPARTANs; despite his violent line of work, he has a taste for the finer things in life and is very dismissive of the traditionally minimalistic SPARTAN outlook.
  • Roger and his Elite partner Sunef were partly inspired by a Halo Reach Beta Invasion game where the author and one of his friends decided to team up as SPARTANs and Elites, and the awesome victory that followed.
  • The style of this article was heavily inspired by the professional looks of Jane-B337 and Rachel-343.
  • Roger was created primarily as a place for the author to test new ways to make his articles look more professional.
  • Roger was originally created without a strong definitive skill set because the author was tired of creating detailed skill sets, and wanted an easy character. Unfortunately, this actually made things even more difficult, forcing the author to come up with all sorts of other distinct traits to make him a unique character.

Related Pages





  1. A tribute to the Stranded, a group of rag tag human survivors left behind in the Hammer of Dawn counterattack in the Gears of War series, whose leader is used to depict Roger out of armor; Montevado is one of several cities inhabited by Stranded.
  2. A tribute to the Embry Star, an award presented for high military valor, usually posthumously.
  3. A reference to a Sangheili of the same name, who appears in the ODS Steve comic series.
  4. This is a reference to how Crimson Team was never referenced in the original Op: RECIPROCITY segment---because they hadn’t been created yet.
  5. This is a reference to two infamous red shirt characters--Leeroy Jenkins of World of Warcraft fame and Corporal Gyrules, a character who is killed off by a Brumak in the first Gears of War Game
  6. This is a reference to Captain MacMillan of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare fame
  7. This is a reference to the absurdity of many of the planet names in the 112th Naval Squadron‘s timeline of known battles & leaves
  8. This is another reference to the absurdity of many of the planet names in the 112th Naval Squadron‘s timeline of known battles & leaves
  9. This is a reference to a hilarious abridged version of the Prototype, found here
  10. This is a reference to the fact that the author took several battles out of the 112th Naval Squadron‘s timeline of known battles & leaves and used them to fill out Crimson‘s mission roster.
  11. This is an allusion to a similar mis-happenstance in Season 9 of Red vs. Blue
  12. A reference to a town in Washington where the author went to school for nine years
  13. A reference to Redshirt Gyules, a character who is killed immediately after his first appearance in Gears of War 1.
  14. An obvious reference to Halo: Contact Harvest, the book by Joseph Staten.
  15. This is a reference to the marketing slogan for Gears of War 2
  16. This is a reference to several of the scars the author has in real life---a shameless, if somewhat unconventional, Stu-ization
  17. This another reference to a quote spoken by Kyle Katarn
  18. This is another thinly veiled reference to a quote spoken by Sev.
  19. This is a reference to the quote spoken by RC-1207 "Sev", a supporting character and resident badass in Star Wars: Republic Commando.
  20. This a reference to a quote spoken by Kyle Katarn
  21. This yet another reference to a quote spoken by Kyle Katarn.
  22. This another reference to a quote spoken by Kyle Katarn
  23. This is a reference to both RC-1207 "Sev", a supporting character and resident badass in Star Wars: Republic Commando, and Chris Jacobs, who share this same quote and were both used for inspiration in parts of this article.
  24. This is a reference to a line spoken by Cade Skywalker, which happens to be one of the author‘s favorite lines.
  25. This is a reference to a favorite phrase spoken by the author during an 11 day backpacking trip in the New Mexico mountaings. Everytime the crew would stop then start again, he would say the phrase. After 11 days of it, the crew was obviously ready to beat the authors face in.
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