|0912 Hours, March 3rd, 2558
2km north of New Kona, Eirene, Outer Colonies
“Boss, we’ve walked right into a goddamn graveyard.”
In the gloom of the cave, illuminated only by a thin shaft of light from above, the four Spartans of Fireteam Scythe froze. There was a muted crunch, and Jiang-G007 lifted his armoured boot to find a bone beneath, snapped cleanly in two. Their augmented vision coupled with the low-light filters within their MJOLNIR helmets made it much clearer to see now.
“Human?” asked Clayton-G045, crouching down.
“Affirmative,” Jiang stooped, holding a skull aloft for all to see. “Poor bastards.”
The Spartans had been deployed to the glassed world of Eirene four hours ago after one of ONI’s spy drones dispatched to the world had spotted an encampment of Sangheili pirates using the shattered ruins of New Kona as a temporary base. Their orders were simple: seek and destroy. At the rear of the group, Ezra-G323 was studying a datapad, taking no particular interest in their grisly surroundings.
Clayton sighed. “Must’ve been trying to hide from the Covenant in here.”
“Didn’t help ‘em,” Jiang carefully placed the skull back down into the bone-strewn floor. “We on the right track, Ez?”
“Yeah, mapper’s showing a cavern exit about half a click to the north. Ends just outside the city.”
“Then let’s move,” Clayton motioned for the Fireteam to press on.
As the Spartans crept forward through the cave, careful to watch every step, Scythe’s fouth member spoke up.
“We should bury them,” Clarence-G022 muttered. “It’s the least they deserve.”
Ezra snorted. “You off your smoothers, man? We’ve got Covvies to kill.”
“They’re not going anywhere.”
While Jiang sauntered off further into the caves, Clayton stepped back, putting a hand on his comrade’s shoulder. Clarence was still looking at the mass grave of unfortunates, killed more than two decades ago during the Covenant’s ruthless attack.
“We’ll notify ONI and get someone sent down after the mission, Clarence. That good enough for you?”
The other Spartan paused for a brief moment before nodding. “Yeah. Thanks Clay.”
“It’s what I’m here for. At least we’ve got a shortcut into the city.“
Jiang chuckled. “Trek through the glasslands a bit much for you, boss?”
“I don’t like going through anywhere without cover, J.”
As they moved deeper into the cave, the Spartans began to make out battered supply crates and the ragged remains of what looked like a camping site. Worse still, there were more Human remains. Skeletons lay across the cave, lying in tents or slumped over by the rocky walls. Stopping for a moment by a brightly-coloured children’s tent, Clarence caught a glimpse of something on the ground, and lifted it up to see. It was an empty syringe, with minuscule lettering across the side labelling the contents. He tossed it away, sighing.
“What was that?” asked Ezra.
“Their way out,” his comrade replied, his voice flat. “When they realised they were trapped.”
Not far ahead, a dim light indicated the exit. Clayton made a fist, indicating that they draw their weapons.
“Time to fight.”