Fireteam Horus prepares to leave on their fateful mission to the Outer Colonies.
|October 22nd, 2558
Denegroth Station, Europa, Sol System
The doors to the hangar bay clanked open, allowing the Spartans to step inside. Clad in imposing MJOLNIR armour, the pair - Ronald Klein and Molly Heyes - ignored the gaping stares of technicians as they strode across the wide-open bay towards their craft. Sitting at the end of a long row of empty landing pads was the Jackrabbit.
"Spartan Skala!" Klein called, removing his helmet. "You here?"
There was a muffled thump, followed by loud swearing before a woman in stained overalls slid out from under their craft, rubbing her forehead. She clambered to her feet and gave a deliberately half-assed salute towards her comrades.
"Just making some last minute adjustments, boss."
"We're supposed to be offworld within the hour."
Rita Skala nodded, stepping out of a filthy jumpsuit and tossing it aside. Beneath she wore the black nanocomposite bodysuit of an off-duty Spartan. Nearby, her own MJOLNIR suit sat by a piece of machinery designed solely for putting on or removing the heavy suits of powered armour.
"Righto," she scratched the back of her head. "I'll suit up. Feel free to give her a look-over before we go."
Klein nodded as she walked away. Skala was Fireteam Horus' pilot and chief engineer, and treated the Jackrabbit like her baby. The vessel had been heavily customised, having started life as a D81 Condor before ONI had gutted the ship and rebuilt it into an effective transport system for the Spartans. He and Heyes walked around the vessel, which still hadn't been repainted from their last mission.
"How's the Slipspace drive doing?" Heyes asked.
"Had it checked and repaired, just in case."
"Good. Eight trips was our maximum output, right?"
"ONI said we'd get closer to fifteen with their upgrades, but I'd rather not take any chances."
The Jackrabbit's nose was an ugly mess of scorched and blackened metal. Klein ran his gauntleted fingers over a particularly deep plasma burn, shaking his head as he remembered the Hunter that had almost blown their ship out of the sky. While he crouched to check on the frontal cannons, Heyes stopped and sighed.
"Uh-oh Klein, she's been painting again."
He groaned and moved over to see what Rita had defaced their ship with this time. He'd had to sit through a lengthy speech about maintaining good Human-Sangheili relations after their pilot's last piece of art had depicted her sitting atop a pile of corpses. He was relieved to discover that it was merely a stylised drawing of a smiling Jackrabbit - plain and inoffensive.
"Like it?" came a voice from behind them.
The pair nodded; to say anything would invite a lengthy discussion. Klein jerked a thumb towards the boarding ramp and the Spartans filed in.
"Where are we headed?" Skala asked.
"Quincy," Heyes replied. "Outer Colonies. Covvies are sniffing around some old ruins."
"Gotcha." The ship's engines thrummed to life. "What's our mission count in this thing now?"
Klein didn't have to check. "Thirteen now."
"Lucky number. Let's hope this girl lasts one more."