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Distant Tide/Team Massachusetts
Team Massachusetts Logo
Chronological information

Active

2558

Command information

Affiliation

Branch

UNSC Navy

Type

Spartan Headhunter Unit

Role

Unit size

Garrison

MSV Ambrose's Refuge

Other information

Nickname

  • "Merlin and Andra"
  • "The Children"

Commanders

LCDR Derek Frendsen

Era

[Source]

"It's just the two of us now. Just two of us left..."
Merlin-D032 whispered to Andra-D054 after Team Boson's dissolution.

Team Massachusetts was a newly-minted SPARTAN-III Headhunter unit formed following the dissolution of accomplished Ferret Team Boson and the reassignment of their handler, UNSC Army Major Kyser Duceppe. In the aftermath of inter-agencies debating the acquisition of Team Boson's remaining Spartan assets, it was ultimately decided that the closest of the few, Petty officers Merlin-D032 and Andra-D054, would be handed over to the unit that helped complete their Spartan induction, Spartan Headhunter Unit VIOLET-III.

Even at the distaste of Joshua-G024, Merlin and Andra were paired based on their existing friendship that extended to their first days of training in SPARTAN-III Delta Company. Relying on that existing comradery, the pair were quickly deployed to ongoing crises to test the new team's capabilities as well as to use them in a resourceful manner. Noted by many, the cohesion between Merlin and Andra reflects the relationship of Joshua-G024 and Amy-G094 of Team Xiphos who helped train Team Boson in the past. Deployments leading up to the Created Crisis that tested Team Massachusetts included the campaign against the Covenant splinter faction Imperium of Clarity and the ONI investigation into the WNS Wealth which ended up temporarily fragmenting the team for a time with the arrival of a Guardian.

With the Created Crisis now in full swing and Cortana working to pacify the final dissenters to her new regime, Team Massachusetts is on the run and following vague orders to find ways to combat the Created and to track down the missing Amy-G094, now calling herself "Hera." Beyond Merlin and Andra, Team Massachusetts has no shortage of outside talent joining their team from time to time.

Legacy of Team Boson

Boson2
Team Boson spent five years together, building a family from scratch. The dissolution hurt everyone deeply.

After encountering Jefferson Korn in Rio de Janeiro during the Syndicate crisis in early 2558 and being provided the man's personal AI, Cathedral, temporarily, Daniele-D003 set into motion a chain of events no one saw coming, not even himself. Ferret Team Boson became divided over the warnings of their former Delta Company counselor to the point that Daniele and Roxanne-D107 went rogue, believing strongly that there was a massive threat operating in the shadows and that the team needed to get out of Human space as quickly as possible.

The other members of Team Boson that did not choose to desert: Merlin-D032, Andra-D054, and Adryn-D111, took the warnings to heart, however, believed to just be rumors or something that would require them to fight for the United Nations Space Command like Humanity had done not too long ago during the Human-Covenant War. They weren't expecting the Created Crisis; they didn't expect the threat to come from within. When Roxanne and Daniele went rogue, rather than fight, the other three were unavailable to actually give chase and did not see it coming.

In the aftermath, Daniele-D003 and Roxanne-D107 went missing after temporarily engaging with their fellow Delta Company graduates, Fireteam Quasar at an ONI acquisitions site near the New Phoenix Quarantine Zone. Roxanne was able to convince her fellow Spartans to not give chase and warned them of the coming enemy that would threaten the existence of the Unified Earth Government and the UNSC military even though she did not know what the threat was herself. On the other hand, Daniele was forced to engage Quasar's team leader, Marcellus-D070; a fight that the Boson Team Leader successfully won but at great cost to his friendship with Marcellus who had for a time been his best friend.

BRUTUS Logo
Project Brutus. What ONI is truly feared for.

The cost to Ferret Team Boson was extensive. The team's handler and acting father figure, Kyser Duceppe were reassigned from taking care of the teenage Spartans as it became abundantly clear that his unit was finished and to his superiors at ONI, he was not fit to handle Spartans as he'd grown too soft and too close to them. Maybe that meant an early retirement since he had already provided a long service to the UNSC as an Army major with the Military Police. Merlin, Andra, and Adryn were not informed of Major Duceppe's fate and were instead put under house arrest to investigate whether the remaining Spartans were at risk of deserting as well. The fear was warranted as Spartans from SPARTAN-III Delta Company were displaying some of the highest rates of desertion among any generation of Spartans, a phenomenon that remains misunderstood even as experts involved with Delta Company such as Doctor Reyna Zhou-Romero try to figure out the behavior of Deltas as they mature into adulthood.

Adryn-D111 was split from Merlin-D032 and Andra-D054 for an unknown assignment, later identified to be the secretive Naval Intelligence organization known as "Project BRUTUS" which made up a good portion of ONI's forward-deployed field intelligence agents. Adryn was selected to serve as a Spartan liaison after getting a taste of what spy work could be like during an operation at the Patuxent River Academy of Military Science in the United Republic of North America. Andra and Merlin were reformed into a two-man Headhunter cell known as "Team Massachusetts."

Operational History

"Andra-D054, is one full of potential. She is leagues above in quality and stature than her teammates, but I'm not convinced she, or they, see that. It is, in my view, imperative that she be reassigned from her team, BOSON, to the HEADHUNTER division. As such, I suggest she be requisitioned to us in VIOLET-III to be trained further."
Joshua-G024, Andra-D054's transitional Spartan-training mentor.


Immediate Deployment

Main article: RP: Imperium/Content
"Alright, Merlin. 'To War,' I guess?"
Andra-D054 off-quoting Commander Miranda Keyes before heading out to her new combat assignment with Merlin-D032.

In the days that followed Team Boson's sacking, Merlin-D032 and Anrda-D054 were suddenly requested to report to the spaceport in New Phoenix and to get aboard an ONI-outfitted D81-LRT Condor Long Range Transport with an unknown destination in frontier space. The only piece of information they received upon embarking was the rumor that the UNSC was at war with a new Covenant splinter faction unlike any threat before it. A group named the Imperium of Clarity.

Obedience-class Cruiser
The Imperium of Clarity's fleets was considered a grave threat to the fragile peace left after the Human-Covenant War.

On the twenty-seventh of August 2558, Merlin, and Andra, now designated Team Massachusetts, set down on the colony world of New Syracuse. The two Spartans were accompanied by their former friend from SPARTAN-III Delta Company, Shizuko-D081. Remaining in cryostasis at her own request, Shizuko left Merlin and Andra to be the only ones to receive a mission debrief in route to the frontier colony. The debrief by an ONI intelligence officer explained that the Imperium illegally annexed the Montak star system and destroyed a UNSC Halberd-class destroyer, the Haversham, and its corresponding Sangheili SDV-corvette, the Ferocity, in a brief engagement. Armed with the further knowledge that the Liang-Dortmund mining facility on the planet had been sacked, the arrival of this Covenant splinter state was setting the stage for a new brushfire war on the frontier, one that Andra and Merlin would soon be caught in the middle of.

Heading the way of base camp, the two were contacted by their temporary handler and former teacher, Joshua-G024, a member of SPARTAN-III Gamma Company's Team Xiphos and part of Headhunter Unit VIOLET-III just like Team Massachusetts. He was to be Team Massachusetts's, and Shizuko's, commander for the duration of the coming skirmish with the Sangheili warlord, Toru 'Makhan, and his Imperium of Clarity. Upon arriving at base camp, Merlin and Andra received their Spartan armor by way of sub-orbital drop and Shizuko was thawed from her "hushed casket."

Joshua, once in contact with the three members of Team Massachusetts, ordered the Spartans to join up with the 101st Orbital Drop Shock Trooper Battalion. While accepting of the new position, the trio spent much of their time away from the older war veterans of the ODST battalion with exception to their commanding officer as the relationship between Spartans and ODSTs were still relatively bad blood. They might have been well acquainted with Team Xiphos, but compared to Team Massachusetts, a Headhunter unit still in the trial assessment phase, it was unlikely the different unit cultures would exchange on positive terms. At the same time, Shizuko dodged Merlin and Andra for the day and a half they were on New Syracuse as she was still reeling from the loss of her own Spartan team, Team Focus. Encountering old friends left Shizuko feeling jealous, confused, and terrified of their presence, especially in fear of their judgment and the potential alienation she might face.

Time passed rather quickly and the unit was thrust into combat on August 29, 2558, the day of the operation to retake Montak from the Imperium of Clarity. Landing by Pelican dropship, the majority of the 101st and Team Massachusetts were deployed outside the anti-aircraft battery zones set up by the Imperium all over the battle space. Unexpectedly, air combat proved particularly vicious upon entering the atmosphere as aerial fighters belonging to the Imperium peppered the 101st's dropships with plasma bombs. Andra had previously attempted to confront Shizuko to no avail over her dodgy behavior over the last two days, and following that the unit had been listening to a final mission brief handled by the 101st's field commander when Team Massachusetts's Pelican was hit by plasma discharge and sent crashing towards the ground below.

Going to Wealth

"Rumor has it...some Innies got a hold of some alien technology with the ability to evaporate objects from existence like magic. Your mission this time will be to assess this possibility behind enemy lines."
LCDR Derek Frendsen, VIOLET-III mission handler.


Team Members

Temporary Teammates

Derek Frendsen

"You two are my problem now. Duceppe's been reassigned. I'm sorry to hear what happened to your team. Honestly, I am, but, we got more pressing matters on the Frontier. Big problems."
LCDR Frendsen meeting up with Merlin and Andra after Team Boson's dissolution.

Not really a member of Team Massachusetts, however, Lieutenant Commander Derek Frendsen is the commanding officer of Team Massachusetts and their parent unit, VIOLET-III as their ONI Headhunter mission handler. Business-like and straight to the point, he expects the best from his newly acquired team in the form of Andra-D054 and Merlin-D032. He previously made acquaintances of the two Spartans while they were still members of Team Boson in 2557. Helping to accommodate them into the United Nations Space Command after their initial Delta Company training, Frendsen was a passing individual that didn't stick out to Boson as an important individual to communicate with as he was only in charge of the newly-minted Spartan team's mentor unit, Team Xiphos.

Now in charge of Team Massachusetts, Frendsen gave Andra and Merlin little time to come to terms that their team was shattered as he was under orders to transition the pair from a Ferret unit into a Headhunter unit. This meant putting them through rapid test missions: the first of which was to assist in the UNSC campaign to defeat the Imperium of Clarity in frontier space. Team Massachusetts rarely sees Frendsen outside the occasional operation debrief. To Merlin and Andra, he is a distant but fairly effective commander that gets the job done and not much else. To them, he remains a relative mystery.

Andra-D054

"Andra Kearsarge Bradford. Nice to meet you."
Andra-D054 properly greeting Merlin-D032 for the first time.

A former SPARTAN-III commando from SPARTAN-III Delta Company, Andra-D054 is one of the highest-performing sharpshooters to graduate from their ranks and a talented explosives technician. Recognized by her peers and her superiors for how far she has come and how much she has grown through her struggle, many saw her for the talented young woman she has developed into compared to the dangerously-scared and shy little girl that first joined Delta Company in 2552.

200px
Andra-D054, dressed in winter attire, tracking a target while undercover.

Before becoming a member of Team Massachusetts, she was assigned to her training unit and official team, Ferret Team Boson. There, she was also the team's designated marksman and responsible for the vast majority of the team's long-range kills along with the majority of the few odd assassination jobs that were handed to the team over the course of 2558. Andra did not particularly enjoy killing but took pride in being able to protect and support her team during their deployments as their guardian angel. She was jokingly referred to by the team as their "Trigger-woman" and "Angel Eye" because she accumulated the team's highest recorded kill count. Her roundabout experience with explosives meant that as much as she was a sniper and typically regulated to a combat role far from the immediate battle space, there were more than enough occasions where she had to be in the middle of a firefight so she could deploy or defuse explosives.

Andra was the hardest hit when Team Boson was dissolved. The betrayal and desertion by Roxanne-D107 and Daniele-D003 greatly harmed her trust in others because she often looked to them as family and her closest friends. She noticed hints that the other members were planning something in secret but was too blinded by their friendship to notice the signs of an eventual desertion. Their betrayal hardened Andra's heart and left her feeling scorned; the only person she felt true trust and care for after the incident was Merlin-D032 who seemed to remain at her side.

After joining Team Massachusetts, Andra continued her work as a sniper and bomb technician. Becoming a member of a Headhunter unit, she also gained access to more combat assets to improve and sharpen her ability to kill her targets. In combat, she started to experiment with combat and explosive drones providing her further means to protect and attack during operations.

Merlin-D032

"Merlin Ljang Boyd. The pleasure is mine."
Merlin-D032 properly introducing himself to Andra-D054 for the first time.

The previous executive commander of Ferret Team Boson, Merlin-D032 was fairly attuned to the needs and responsibility of leadership. When he was picked to take command of Team Massachusetts, he accepted only on the condition that he would not be split from his best friend, Andra-D054. He, along with Andra, had already lost too much with the dissolution of their Spartan combat unit. Massachusetts's was Merlin's first experience with seriously taking command of a unit, however, because of the familial relationship he shared with Andra and the lack of an actual unit, there wasn't much for Merlin to take charge of. Under Merlin's direction, Team Massachusetts was a partnership, not a military unit. The only thing he really handled as the team's leader was paperwork and turning in mission reports, however, as Headhunters, the team rarely performed even that role.

Merlin-D032 Profile Aged
Merlin-D032 was forced to adapt while trapped behind enemy lines.

Merlin relished in this environment, both during the initial trial period and upon becoming a part of a Headhunter team, as the mission parameters were often far simpler than with the Ferrets and the management presence was also diminished. On the other hand, the loss of Team Boson was hard on Merlin, but, he came to enjoy the change in pace from being a part of his original unit. He was free to run his own schedule and with a like-minded individual in Andra, he could become laid back and a little bit complacent as long as it didn't obstruct in his unit's duties and activities. The greatest personal benefit for Merlin was simply, personal freedom.

In combat, Merlin was the spotter and scout for Andra-D054. Whereas the girl would take the enemies out at long range, Merlin would often put himself in harm's way to protect Andra's back, give her target solutions, and identify enemies in the field. His job was the equivalent to a foxhound, sniffing out the targets that needed to be eliminated. And in the event Andra couldn't take care of the target due to a number of mission complications, Merlin was the one to get his hands dirty. Years in training and a year of field world honing this combat relationship, Merlin trusted and relied on Andra as if she was an extension of his mind and body. And that, an onset of complacency, might have been responsible for why he disappeared on a combat mission near Wealthian space. He had grown soft and over-reliant on those around him.

The details are sparse on what happened to Merlin during his disappearance, however, his personality shifted subtly, becoming more independent and self-reliant. The soft side he developed was gutted. Being stuck, isolated from the rest of the galaxy behind enemy lines may have forced him to evolve into something more fine-tuned. And deadlier.

Thea

"I'm all you have left of her! Please don't throw that away. I'll have your back, forever, through thick and thin."
Thea begging Merlin-D032 to trust in her.
Xion Kingdom Hearts Althea
Thea, the Smart AI modeled after Andra-D054's cloned brain.

Andra-D054 was always a favorite child of the psychiatrist and recruiter of SPARTAN-III Delta Company, Doctor Reyna Zhou-Romero. Andra played a daughter's role to the doctor who had no children of her own and the relationship between Spartan and doctor came to reflect one another as Andra reflexively relied on the older woman as a mother figure. Their interactions became almost nonexistent after the closure of Delta Company due to its illegal nature, however, Reyna found ways to keep watch over her former Spartan recruits from afar in her continued employment with Naval Intelligence as she was the leading figure on the mental states of the child soldiers.

Going against some established taboos involving the creation and development of Smart AIs, Doctor Romero requested the mapping of Andra's nervous system and the flash cloning of the girl's brain; while an action not typically allowed by ONI, it was granted after a passionate discussion of the researching being used to better understand the Spartans of Delta Company who displayed a greater probability for deserting the UNSC. This research was conducted with a thorough medical examination of Andra by ONI doctors in mid-2558 before Andra joined several of her comrades at the Patuxent River Academy of Military Science for a Ferret operation. After conducting her research, Doctor Romero had Andra's flash-cloned brain and neural map transformed into a Smart AI by the name of Thea.

Thea was assigned to Merlin-D032 without his knowledge before Team Massachusetts's second pre-Headhunter operation, serving as a sort of final gift to the boy whose mother saved Doctor Romero in the past. It was also an indirect method for Romero to continue keeping tabs on Merlin and Andra. Merlin only discovered Thea after being separated from Andra, assuming the girl had died and was about ready to blame the AI in association with the rogue AI faction, the Created. Arguing passionately that she had no interest in turning on Merlin and pointing out that she was probably all Merlin had left of Andra, Thea would help cushion Andra's supposed death and assist the grieving Spartan in his trek across a planet EMP'ed back into an age of Steel and Steam by the Created.

Trivia

  • After Ferret Team Boson collapsed, Andra-D054 was paired permanently with her teammate, Merlin-D032, in a new two-man Headhunter cell called "Team Massachusetts", named after the state of the same name. The decision to go with this was taken from placing the first initial of each Spartans' name and producing the two-letter acronym that the is shared with the state. Team M-A, or better known as Team Massachusetts.
  • While Andra-D054 and Merlin-D032 are the permanent members of the two-man fireteam of Team Massachusetts, the unit has been the host to multiple temporary members on occasion. Usually, these individuals are supporting actors that augment the capabilities of the two Spartans or are relevant to specific deployments. So far, only Argo 'Varvin, Shizuko-D081 have become temporary members though it is a growing list. Thea, the unit's Smart AI, is technically a permanent member of the team.
  • Team Massachusetts's logo includes a star near the "A" marked for Andra-D054's name. The star represents the capital of Massachusetts, Boston. A city that the user, Distant Tide visited once before, part of his family used to live in Boston.

Appearances

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