|0943 Hours, October 25th, 2549
El Morro Point, Onyx, Zeta Doradus System
"He went this way!"
Crashing through the undergrowth in a frantic sprint, Ianto-G200 panted heavily as he stopped for just a moment to catch his breath. The cries from his pursuers were getting closer, and every so often a burst of stun rounds would fly overhead. Without weapons, all he could do was flee. Outnumbered and nearing his limit after nearly half an hour of furious pursuit into the jungle, the Spartan trainee began to wonder if giving himself up would be the easier option.
No, they'd just kick my ass. So would the others, if they found out I surrendered.
Sucking air into his aching lungs, he set off again, checking his tiny pocket compass to ensure he was moving north. Team Scythe had been given an old paper map for today's exercise, and as their leader - Clayton - still had it, Ianto had to try and remember the route they'd planned from memory. Far to his left, a boy in training armour popped out from behind a tree, rifle raised. One round struck his shoulder with surprising force, but the trainee kept going.
"Crap," he hissed, trying to ignore his stinging shoulder. These stun rounds were about as close to the real thing they had here without putting Gamma Company's recruits in serious danger, so naturally it didn't take many direct hits to put someone down.
"Flank around!" a voice called from behind him. "Cut him off at the river!"
Thanks for telling me your plan, idiots.
Bereft of communicators, the other teams in this escape and evasion exercise had resorted to simply yelling at each other. Lieutenant Commander Ambrose would scold them for it afterwards, probably; Spartan teams should be able to manage something as simple as hunting down targets without making any noise. Glancing back for a moment, he sighted figures darting through the trees behind him - eight at least, if not more.
That's Gladius. Who're they working with? Kopis?
It came as no surprise that more than one team was after him; Scythe weren't well-liked in Gamma, and there were plenty eager to get their own back in exercises after numerous incidents. Ianto scrambled down a muddy slope and tumbled through some bushes, finally emerging in an open clearing. At the other side sat a gnarled banyan tree, which Ianto sprinted towards. As he neared the trunk, he spotted a cross roughly hewn into the trunk with a combat knife, and smiled.
"Okay boys, do your stuff."
It wasn't long before the pursuing teams closed in on Ianto's position. They found the trainee sprawled out in the grass, clutching his right foot. While they were technically supposed to eliminate him, the rest of Scythe Team had scattered earlier alongside the other 'escape' teams and - as they had learned - would definitely risk it all to save their comrade.
"Put your hands up!" yelled a member of Gladius, moving in slowly. With nine others keeping careful watch, there was nothing he could do against them. Turning over, Ianto whistled sharply.
Wary though they were, the other Spartan trainees were taken by surprise as four rifles opened fire from the branches above, knocking them to the ground before they had a chance to return fire. Ianto kicked one over and snatched a rifle for himself, joining his friends in downing their hunters. Within thirty seconds, they had reduced two teams into a mess of groaning, bruised bodies.
"Told you it'd work!"
Clayton-G045 laughed as he dropped to the floor. The others - Jiang, Ezra and Clarence - joined him as a klaxon blared. They'd be watching their backs for weeks after this, though they were no stranger to scorn. Scythe's members looked out for each other, and that was good enough for them.