"You will be our seek-and-destroy team. You report only to me. When you are in the field, you will have no reinforcements, no outside support, and virtually no accountability to anyone but ONI. If you die, you die. Your deaths, should they occur, will be unpublished and unrecognised. Your accomplishments and achievements will be known to no one outside this room. Welcome to Shrike, ladies and gentlemen."
―Captain Ryan Samson , briefing the Spartans before their departure on their first mission.
Shrike Team was a squad-sized group of SPARTAN-III commandos serving in the unstable years following the Human-Covenant War. The team was formed from several surviving SPARTAN-III supersoldiers of Alpha and Beta Companies, augmented with six members of Gamma Company, who had been reassigned after various squad losses. The decision to form this new group was made by ONI as many other SPARTAN teams from earlier generations had been fragmented in the war's final years, and as such new positions were being created to accommodate those in need of reassignment.
Shrike Team was activated in the latter half of 2554 under the guidance of Commander Elena-071, a SPARTAN-II who had taken temporary leave from field duties following Operation: ASHES earlier that year. Captain Ryan Samson, a veteran of the war with a history of serving ONI, was assigned as Shrike's commanding officer after Elena put together the initial roster. Martin-A136, one of a handful of still-living members of the ill-fated Alpha Company and the sole survivor of Upsilon Team following the Fall of Reach, was chosen to lead Shrike Team in the field due to his decades of combat experience.
The team was equipped and outfitted with variants of the MJOLNIR GEN2 armour. Each individual suit was customised, painted and upgraded to the user's specifications, and outfitted with several upgrades to assist the commandos on the field. Also granted to the team was a single Smart AI, given to Martin-A136 for tactical advice and support in the field. Shrike Team would primarily be deployed against the few remaining Insurrectionist strongholds following the Human-Covenant War, sabotaging, assassinating and interrogating where necessary. The Spartans were given a great deal of freedom in their operations, and so employed unethical and sometimes illegal methods to achieve their missions.
While they were intended to be a long-lasting group and accomplished a great deal during their time active, Shrike Team was disbanded following the NOVA Incident, which saw most of its members killed as a massive surge of terrorist attacks gripped the Inner Colonies. Though they were able to successfully prevent numerous atrocities over the course of the incident, their brave deeds were heavily classified in the aftermath and kept hidden from public record as the survivors were reassigned to different posts.
Not long after the end of the Human-Covenant War, the Office of Naval Intelligence needed a special operations group for the sole purpose of combating the Insurrection. Going over the roster of surviving Spartans, Martin-A136, one of the very few remaining Alpha Company survivors who had distinguished himself fighting on Reach and Earth, was picked to lead the team, a decision made by Elena-071. Next came two Beta Company candidates, both of whom had been taken from their ill-fated Company directly after training. Grantley-B130, a former Headhunter, and Leandra-B031, who had been assigned to secret operations by ONI the moment she finished training.
To make up the rest of the roster, six soldiers from Gamma Company were chosen. All of whom were made up of teams who had taken losses in the operations carried out by the young Spartans, being reassigned to Shrike in order to facilitate them into a new, independent unit. The Gamma members possessed much less experience than the other three, but had seen some degree of combat and were chosen for their unique skills, as well as knowing each other prior to their reassignment. The nine SPARTAN-III's met for the first time on September 1st, 2554, aboard Helios Station in Mars' orbit. It was here that they were thoroughly briefed by Captain Ryan Samson on their purpose and the scope of their operations. The team was also introduced to Armand, a recently created 'Smart' Artificial Intelligence who would support them on missions. Two days later after the entire team received their customised and upgraded MJOLNIR armour, they were dispatched to Circumstance, one of the few colonies that was not glassed during the war, to track down a supposed Insurrectionist arms dealer.
The first operation undertaken by Shrike was, surprisingly, in broad daylight. They were tasked with capturing Johan Hennerman, a criminal who traded in arms, narcotics, and people. Hennerman, along with a small convoy of trucks, was ambushed on one of the main bridges within the city of Kuiper. His main car turned out to be a trap, however, with a bomb nearly killing three of the Spartans and causing chaos around them. With civilian casualties mounting up, Shrike Team were forced to engage the trucks while their quarry escaped into the lower city, where the rest of Shrike had set up a roadblock.
Hennerman's truck was easily stopped, though hesitation on the part of Amos-G028 allowed him to flee into the city streets, where he was soon pursued by Alrik-G040. The SPARTAN quickly killed his bodyguards and after seeing Hennerman steal a car, fired on it until it smashed through a barrier and into a side street below. With Hennerman still alive but wounded, Alrik pursued and cornered him. By the time the target had been recovered via Pelican, he had two broken legs in addition to the various cuts and bruises obtained in his escape. Though there were two minor injuries and a dozen civilian deaths, ONI somehow considered this first mission a success for Shrike.
Not long after, Shrike was deployed elsewhere in the city, with orders to capture Rizhan Kama, the son of a wealthy industrialist who had gotten himself involved in weapons smuggling operations. While three of the Spartans went in to capture the man, who had thrown a Halloween party in the penthouse of one of his father's skyscrapers, the rest of Shrike clearing out the plaza below. Surprisingly, the SPARTAN team came under attack from a large group of unknown militiamen, attempting to kill Kama and Shrike. After a brief firefight, the Spartans were able to shoot down the enemy Pelican and wipe out their attackers, saving their captive in the process. On the ground, Martin and Grantley attempted to interrogate one of the wounded men, only to see him succumb to a strange poison. As he died, the man uttered a few words identifying his employer: 'Magnus'. Over the next few days, Shrike Team would systematically dismantle every remaining rebel safehouse in Kuiper using information provided by Kama, eliminating dozens of Insurrectionists. While a few managed to flee the planet, the operation was deemed a resounding success by Shrike's superiors. In spite of their nature as a top-secret black ops group, the Office of Naval Intelligence's Section Two chose to disseminate some footage of the Spartans in the field for propaganda purposes, much to Elena-071's chagrin.
Following their success on Circumstance, Shrike Team would embark on numerous missions across the rebuilding colonies, targeting both Insurrectionist groups and Covenant remnant factions. Though their support AI, Armand, was disabled for a month after an attempt to access highly-classified files, the Spartans encountered little difficulty until a mission to a Jiralhanae-run refinery on the edge of Sangheili space. With reports that the asteroid facility was being used to process materials for aggressive terrorist factions, the entirety Shrike was deployed with orders to disable or destroy the entire refinery if necessary.
Landing undetected in a small subprowler, Shrike infiltrated the refinery with ease and split up into several groups, targeting the base's defences and plasma generators simultaneously. Slipping Armand into the base's systems via an exterior terminal, they soon gained access and found that most of the Jiralhanae were absent due to a feast, leaving only a token security force to patrol the refinery's corridors. Martin-A136's group soon accessed the main control room, killing several surprised enemies before Armand disabled the facility's gravity generator, rendering most of the Jiralhanae on the lower floors helpless against the coordinated Spartan assault. However, several transport ships carrying a returning warband soon arrived at the refinery and raised the alarm, engaging Shrike Team in combat.
Though most of the Spartans soon gained the upper hand against the scattered alien forces, Cesare-G177 and Amos-G028 found themselves pinned down in the refinery's generator room by a large and well-armed Jiralhanae pack. Unable to press their advantage, they were forced to retreat and were almost overwhelmed when Cesare's thruster pack was struck by enemy fire, sending him careening towards them. Wounded by subsequent fire and unable to correct his course with his suit's own thrusters, Cesare managed to unbuckle his secondary pack and toss it towards the plasma generators, which had been rigged with explosive charges. The entire room was vaporised in the subsequent blast, killing the Spartan and dozens of advancing Jiralhanae. Amos managed to escape in time and was pulled from the wreckage by Graham-G101, though he was incapacitated for some time and only lived due to his MJOLNIR armour. Though the operation was considered a success, Cesare's sudden death shocked the entire team due to its suddenness and made Martin commit himself even harder to improving group cohesion, especially since Amos blamed himself for his friend's demise.
In March of 2555, Shrike Team were dispatched to help hunt down several high-profile Insurrectionists who had escaped during a mass breakout from the UNSC-run Fenwell Prison. Though some of the Spartans considered this work to be beneath them, the importance of preventing a large-scale Insurrectionist resurgence was a major priority for ONI, especially with a lull in the fighting against former Covenant factions. By the time they arrived at the reported location of a major rebel safehouse, all inside had been slaughtered. It was here that Shrike first encountered the soldiers of Project HAYABUSA, an Army program that recruited 'last chance' servicemen to undergo experimental augmentations before loosing them on rebel forces. As the Navy had not been properly informed of HAYABUSA's involvement, the two sides nearly came to blows before Martin calmed things down with the platoon's commander. Shortly after, Martin and Captain Samson would meet with Brigadier General Cole Warrick, HAYABUSA's project leader, to ensure that they would not interfere with the Spartan unit's operations again and vice versa. Shrike would hold the other group in low regard, seeing them as an inferior and even dangerous attempt at creating supersoldiers due to its lower-quality gear and poor selection material.
In September of 2555, Shrike was chosen to help oversee an important meeting on Earth between a group of high-ranking officials from the Unified Earth Government and the leader of the Swords of Sanghelios, Arbiter Thel 'Vadam. Though it would only last a day due to 'Vadam's commitments to a civil war on his homeworld, tensions remained high and the presence of Spartans to guard such an event was seen as absolutely necessary. To Shrike's dismay, twenty-five HAYABUSA soldiers were also present as extra security in spite of their major losses in a recent operation. As the proceedings began, Shrike noticed several members of HAYABUSA acting strangely. Before this was reported in, the other supersoldiers attacked the delegation, forcing Shrike into action. What ensued was a brutal firefight across the UNSC's headquarters as a platoon of Insurrectionists disguised as Marines and two hostine Sangheili joined the fray.
Though many bystanders were killed, Shrike Team acquitted themselves well in the subsequent battle, protecting their charges and escorting as many non-combatants as possible to a nearby bunker. President Ruth Charet was almost killed by HAYABUSA's platoon leader, though the timely intervention of an undercover ONI agent saved her life, almost at the cost of his own. As two members of Shrike ensured that the man had access to emergency medical treatment that saved his life, Martin tracked down the rebels' Pelican dropship, leaping atop the vehicle and downing it in the midst of New York city after destroying its thrusters. Though the pilot - famed rebel fighter ace Jonathan Ulan - attempted to engage Martin in close-quarters combat, he was swiftly killed by the Spartan.
While Shrike had foiled the attack on the delegation and nearly wiped out the attackers, it turned out that the assault had been little more than a distraction for a raid elsewhere on Earth, which targeted ONI's PILLAR base beneath Mount Everest. During their briefing on the situation, the Spartans were horrified to learn that a group of hardline Insurrectionists led by traitorous ONI operative John Verensky had stolen the single most destructive weapon in mankind's arsenal: a NOVA bomb. Worse still, this affair had been a PR disaster for the UNSC, as the rebels had threatened to detonate the device in Earth's orbit if they were not granted safe passage out of the Sol System, something that the Home Fleet had no choice but to acquiesce to. In the aftermath of this attack, Shrike Team were immediately ordered to track down the perpetrators and recover the NOVA bomb.
With little to go on, Shrike would spend months moving from system to system, slowly but surely dismantling John Verensky's entire rebel network with the full force of the UNSC backing them. Several rebel groups even willingly gave up information about Verensky to ONI as the Spartans grew increasingly merciless against them. In response to to this, their target would launch a series of violent terrorist attacks within the Inner Colonies to help throw Shrike off the trail. This would culminate in a bioweapon attack on Kuiper in the midst of a packed Gravball game, seemingly for no other purpose than to kill as many civilians as possible. Though they raced to the scene after an anonymous tipoff and killed a small group of armed rebels in the stadium, Shrike was unable to prevent the weapon's detonation. Highly toxic gas flooded most of the sealed arena, killing over 100,000 people before the Spartans could do anything to save them. Protected by their MJOLNIR suits, Shrike were soon the only ones left alive in the building. While the team regrouped, a remorseful Amos-G028 shot himself in the head in front of Martin.
The death of Amos hit the team hard, as the SPARTAN-III had been struggling with signs of post-traumatic stress disorder and survivor's guilt long before the stadium attack. With little time to mourn their fallen comrade, the rest of Shrike continued their rampage into the Outer Colonies, with their assaults reaching even small-scale militias before a sighting of Verensky's associates was confirmed on the Caucasus Station, a series of habitats built across a remote asteroid belt frequented by smugglers and other unsavoury elements. Unwilling to let him escape, the UNSC launched a full-scale assault on the rebel-controlled station, using their ships to distract the defenders while Shrike Team slipped inside.
While UNSC troops had already boarded the Caucasus Station by the time Shrike arrived, the Spartans were instrumental in mopping up the remaining enemy resistance as the rebel stronghold quickly crumbled, the survivors either surrendering or fleeing the asteroid belt in escape craft. In the midst of the chaos, Alric-G040 and Graham-G101 located an antimatter charge rigged to blow. Realising that it would cause catastrophic damage to not only the entire station but to the nearby UNSC ships, Graham had Armand disarm it. As they did so, the Spartans were attacked by Rol 'Ranak, a Sangheili terrorist who had participated in the attack on Earth. Though Rol escaped and the bomb's countdown timer was disabled, Armand feared that it could be detonated remotely. As Graham was unable to leave the station due to a breach in his suit, Alric pursued Rol out of an airlock, quickly catching up to the Sangheili and grappling with him as he attempted to reach a small ship atop a nearby asteroid. Though he was outmaneuvered and nearly killed by Rol, Alric chose to detonate a pair of plasma grenades at point-blank range, taking the terrorist down with him.
As the death of yet another Spartan was reported to the rest of the team, Martin and May secured what passed for the Caucasus Station's control room, where an internal conflict between the rebels had clearly taken place. Among the dead were Mal Roberts and Remi Marshall, major Insurrectionist figures who had helped plan the NOVA bomb's theft. Reeling from this new loss what seemed like another dead end, Shrike were suddenly informed by Armand that he had located John Verensky's base of operations on the sparsely-populated colony of New Albion. With little time to lose as news of the collapse of the loose confederation of rebel factions would likely scare off their quarry, Shrike reunited with the UNSC fleet and set out to take down Verensky and finally retrieve the NOVA bomb.
Arriving over New Albion a day later, Shrike joined a platoon of Orbital Drop Shock Troopers in launching a fierce assault on Verensky's fortress, which had been converted from a hydroelectric damn into a rebel stronghold. In spite of their recent actions in breaking up rebel groups, Shrike faced heavy resistance from hundreds of determined fighters on the surface. Martin, Grantley and May secured a landing zone for reinforcements soon after touching down and seized an enemy Warthog, En-route to the enemy headquarters, they came under attack from a ghost piloted by Sur 'Ranak, brother of the recently-deceased Rol. After a brief firefight the Sangheili disabled their vehicle with a plasma grenade, sending it careening into a building and mortally wounding Grantley as a metal girder was rammed into his stomach. Leaving the dying Spartan with May, Martin pursed Sur and managed to board his personal vessel, where he was attempting to escape with the NOVA bomb. Trapped with the Spartan, Sur offered Martin the chance for an honourable duel, which he took. Following a brief but furious battle Martin managed to gain the upper hand, dismembering and ultimately slaying the feared warrior as he made a last-ditch attempt to detonate the NOVA. With his death, Martin reported that the superweapon had finally been secured.
Meanwhile, Julian-G209, Leandra-B031 and Graham-G101 had moved towards Verensky's compound themselves, inserting via Pelican onto the roof before crashing into his command room. There, they found that the terrorist leader had already been slain, leaving only his killer and a mysterious man alive. Though the trio believed that they could easily capture or kill these survivors, the man attacked them with tremendous speed and power, quickly closing the distance and engaging them in such a way that it was difficult to attack as a group. Taken off-guard by this, Leandra was overwhelmed and shot in the head and Julian was thrown through a window, leaving Graham to fight for his life against the stranger. In spite of his training and MJOLNIR armour, the young Spartan was also beaten in close-quarters combat by the man, whose size, augmentations and advanced cybernetics gave him an edge in combat and allowed him to easily execute the Spartan. En-route to the scene Martin encountered the young woman who had shot Verensky, but allowed her to leave after the vital signs of two Spartans vanished. By the time Martin and May arrived at the scene the mysterious attacker was gone, leaving only corpses in his wake. With John Verensky dead and the NOVA bomb recovered, the the crisis was officially over and Shrike's mission a success, but at a terrible cost.
Following the mission to New Albion, later known as Operation: CAUTERISE, the surviving members of Shrike Team were taken aboard the UNSC Coldharbour to be debriefed. Julian-G209 had survived his fall with numerous injuries, and submitted a report suggesting that the man who had so easily beaten three armoured Spartans was likely a supersoldier himself. Though this was taken into consideration, a meeting between Martin-A136, Elena-071 and Ryan Samson confirmed that Shrike Team would be disbanded due to its losses. While they had achieved great results and potentially saved millions of lives by recovering the NOVA bomb, the Navy's use of larger Spartan groups for counter-terrorism operations strategy of smaller teams under the direction of Spartan Operations. Furthermore, the rarity of valuable SPARTAN-III assets meant that they would be needed for important jobs elsewhere, leaving most 'frontline' work to the new generation of SPARTAN-IV supersoldiers.
Following this announcement, Martin-A136 was reassigned to Denegroth Station on Europa, where he would reunite with former teammates Alex-A121 and Louie-A199 as they helped oversee the facility and its Spartan training programs, occasionally accompanying them on missions to support remote contact teams investigating Forerunner sites. Julian-G209 and May-G210 were soon moved into Fireteam Thor, a joint Spartan unit that specialised in high-risk operations against hardened targets across the colonies. Without a team to accompany, Armand was taken to Earth to act as an administrative AI for ONI's Project BRUTUS, eventually working under the man whose cloned brain he had been created from: Alexander Redford.