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You Know My Name by (ENS) Rabid_Gallagher

You Know My Name; Sergeant Reynolds: 1 of 3
Date: 15 December 2007, 9:51 pm

The Brute held him high in the air, his rough and furry hand choking the life out of him in the deepest part of the jungle, high upon a natural bridge across two high points. The sun peaked high, no clouds, and the wind was gentle and breezy, enough to taunt him as the life was slowly choked away from him as the Brute laughed in his face. He gripped his teeth, before he made a move to grab him by the back, but he could not do it.
      Because the Brute was dead.
      A sniper round shot through the Brute's hard skull as if it was a hammer slamming through paper, the sound sickening but the Marine did not waste one second of his time that he was given: He felt the hand go slack and he immediately dropped off the twenty foot height onto his legs, rolling on the grass as bullets flew all around him. His cap managed to stay firmly on his head despite the roll, but that was not even fazing in his mind.
      Gunnery Sergeant William James Reynolds immediately grabbed the MA5C Assault Rifle from the body of Lieutenant Conrad, prying it quickly and falling down into a one knee pose, but it was not needed. Marines that were battle-hardened from recent skirmishes stood by him, keeping watch around but the sounds of Covenant Loyalists were not heard for more than a minute. They relaxed, to an extent.
      "What happened?" A voice spoke through the ambience of jungle noise, and it caught the Sergeant's attention easily. The voice belonged to Master Chief Petty Officer John-117, the Last Spartan, and he was addressing William. That caught him off guard: he had the impression that the Chief didn't talk to Marine folks.
      "Brute Chieftain and a Phantom. Pinned us down…" He paused for a second, before looking at Lieutenant Conrad and the rest of Bravo.
      "Killed my men." He said again, turning his head to look right at the Chief. The Chief nodded, before he and his motley crue took back to wherever they were heading. And William was more inclined to go with them than he was to sit here and wait.
      "I want to help."
      "Stay here for evac."
      "I need to avenge them. I served with some of them since Eridanus Secundus, and I'm not going to let the last memory of Bravo be one squad of Covenant soldiers who got lucky. Sir." He stated grimly, the rest of the Marines looking at him as if he just committed a sin, not one daring to speak up to defend either Reynolds or the Chief.
      The Chief, who had turned to face Reynolds when he spoke, merely shook his head and continued on, before he spoke with command and authority in his tone, shaking the fear out of everyone.
      "Get rolling, then. We got ground to cover."

SSN: 467-31-4352
O –

      He sat in the back of the Pelican, relaxed, his body not trying to tense after the hellish battle through the forest. He, the Chief, the Arbiter, and Johnson had fought through two waves of assaults and took back part of the jungle that they had to leave back behind: their mission accomplished, they had no need to hold it. Nor did the Covenant Loyalists have reason to have it in the first place.
      "You okay, Marine?" Johnson, his accent and tough-tone catching Reynolds' attention very easily, bringing up his head. He chose his words carefully, not trying to sound gun-ho or depressed.
      "No, sir, but I'll survive."
      "I'm in the same boat as you, Marine. Go see Corpsman Farrior; she'll check you out to make sure you don't need to get to Medical when we get back to the Crow's Nest."
      "But, sir, I'm…"
      "Not fine until I say so, Marine!"
      "Yessir." William said reluctantly, standing up slowly and grabbing onto the upper rail above his seat for support as the Pelican made a slow turn. He shook his head before he walked down the aisle of seats to the sleeping Corpsman.
      She wore a Sergeant's cap, but even with her hair covered she looked beautiful to his eyes. A small nose, pink lips, and a beauty mark on her left cheek, she slept with her head against her right shoulder, her mouth slightly open and her eyes shut loosely. Wearing the standard armor of the UNSC Marine Corps, she looked to fit it well and her relaxed position confirmed it. A pistol was on her side, her medical bag in the seat next to her, and a BR55 Battle Rifle slung across her back.
      He nudged her, and she awoke from perhaps a pleasant slumber.
      "You hurt, Gunny?"
      "Yes 'mam. According to Sergeant Major." Reynolds said, sitting next to her, titling his head a bit in the direction of the cockpit; Johnson's current location. Michelle Farrior immediately knew, a soft smile coming across her face as she nodded in understanding. She motioned him to come closer with her two index fingers, examining his blunted armor pad that was darkened and appeared to have had a Brute spike torn through. She pushed her index finger into the hole.
      "Oww! Jesum Crow!"
      "How deep did it get?"
      Reynolds at first did not say anything.
      "You might be one of those guys who the only way we get you off the battlefield is either in a box or with a stretcher, but you better ship up and tell me what's the matter." Michelle spoke with a little smile, but a hard voice followed that did not match the smile at no length. Reynolds, however strong-willed, realized that it was futile to argue with the Corpsman, who knew more than he did about medical 'stuff', as he had always identified it with.
      "Yes 'mam."
      "Good. Now shut up and turn around. Private Anglesey, get over here and help me take off Sergeant Reynolds's pauldron."

      "But why you, Bill?"
      Because, Mary, I have to.
      "You won't find me here waiting, or to read your letters, or anything like a good wife. You know this well. I have not wasted ten years of my life so you can go and get yourself killed. Good cause or not, Bill, I love you. And that will never change."
      I know.

      Captain Robert Gallagher was excited.
      He was standing tall, his back against a wall within the confines of 'Crow's Nest', and his black armor reflective as the artificial light bounced off his plating. He wore no helmet, displaying his age well enough for anyone to see. But, like all members of SPECTRE, he did not care. He had an air of superiority that no one could strip, not even the man he was about to meet when he heard the news. The Chief survived landfall, and he was on his way here.
      Commander Keyes walked past him with a smile, getting his attention quickly as he snapped to a salute. She nodded and reciprocated, motioning with her head to follow as she brought it down. Gallagher nodded, and walked off with her on her starboard side. She and Captain Gallagher were the two commanding officers of the base, with Captain Gallagher in charge of Marine personnel and Keyes commanding the Naval forces stationed, with her being the primary commander.
      Gallagher didn't mind it one bit.
      "Captain, where are your men?" She didn't need to clarify; Gallagher understood she was talking about SPECTRE.
      "The underground armory. I don't like it down there, too easy for someone to get through." He spoke with his tone at a neutral pitch, but Keyes understood what his concern meant more than he realized. She and Robert had regularly talked to each other since the War began, and he considered her a good friend.
      Maybe more, but that wasn't allowed.
      "Agreed, good thinking."
      They were at the Pelican Hanger Bay, and he saw the site that was the returning Marine patrol. He got a good look at Master Gunnery Sergeant Johnson, Gunnery Sergeant Stacker, Reynolds, and even the mighty Master Chief standing tall next to the Arbiter.
      "Master Chief, good to see you." Keyes was the first to talk, her voice soft but firm, a true leader's voice, one that only a few in the entire UNSC had the ability to adopt. Gallagher wasn't a leader, merely a commander, but Keyes easily grasped the attention of all of the soldiers present; even the gaze of the Arbiter was caught upon her. Gallagher was truly amazed.
      "Likewise, 'mam."
      "Sergeant Reynolds, you holding up well?"
      "Fine as rain, 'mam." He reported back, but all of the soldiers realized it was a front. Gallagher, who was not the best at reading people, could hear his soft tone compared to how it used to sound, he remembered clearly the smiling man who told jokes and was always talking to his commanding officer about one thing or another. The voice that belonged to Gunnery Sergeant Reynolds was one of a sad, depressed man who hardly had anything else to live for.
      "And you, Stacker?"
      "All ready, 'mam. I'm good to go."
      "Good to hear. I need you two to go with Captain Gallagher here to the Underground Armory and get your men ready. We're going out." She said, to all three of them, before she walked off; Johnson, the Arbiter, and the Chief in tow. Gallagher looked at the two Sergeants before he cracked a smile.
      "Good to see you again, Pete. How's the arm?"
      "Better than Kinsey's, sir." He smiled back, a warm one, but then all eyes diverted to Reynolds, who stood at attention and did not give a feeling off at all. Gallagher understood, and Stacker definitely understood. He lost his entire former platoon, and he still managed to fight through jungle. That was what really impressed Gallagher.
      Stacker is an ODST. He never is impressed.
      "At ease, Sergeant Reynolds. You two are now officially under ONI's Section IV guidelines, that being you keep your damn mouth shut while I tell you what you both need to do. Stacker, Keyes wants you to prepare a supply convoy to ship out to Voi. Reynolds, you're taking temporary command of Stacker's unit and preparing to go out into the wild and get on the Tsavo Highway. Both of your jobs are to hit the main anti-aircraft batteries along this route, so that two UNSC Frigates, the Forward Unto Dawn and the Dusk Settling, can rush in and destroy that damn…ship." He almost let slip that the ship was Forerunner, but HIGHCOM had made it clear to ONI not to divulge that information out.
      "Bit of a flimsy." Reynolds replied, looking at Gallagher with hard eyes.
      "Not with the Chief with you too."
      "Good point."
      "Where do you want us, Captain?" Stacker said after Reynold's outburst, quickly changing the subject to the Marine Captain. However that Gallagher was under Navy's direct chain of command he was and always will be a Marine. Stacker, Reynolds, and the rest of the Marine crew on base recognized that first, even before his ONI moniker. Stacker definitely held a bit of respect for Gallagher, since the Covenant had landed on Earth he had commanded forces from successful retreats to major victories.
      "Downstairs, the garage. Be prepared."

      Where are you?
      "A hell, Gunnery Sergeant William Reynolds. A hell."
      Mary, stop playing.
      "Every night since you left, I cannot sleep."
      "No! You have caused me pain!"

      William awoke with a rush, his eyes flashing open. He coughed, hard, dust escaping his throat as he pushed himself up. His armor was covered in debris, the majority of the hard stone and iron slipping off as he erected himself straight. His hands gripped his Battle Rifle with an iron grip, his eyes trying to adjust to the lack of light. He corrected this with flicking a switch on his weapon, the light fixture near the barrel shooting a beam of light far enough for his liking.
      "Settle down, Marines! Someone hit the emergency power!"
      "On it, Sarge!" A voice called back to him, before realizing it belong to Private Anthony Young. As soon as he heard the voice he put the image of the Private's face in his mind. He had a dark muzzle, his hair short and black, but his face scarred. Reynolds felt closer to Young than he did the rest of Stacker's platoon, merely because he is one of the few in Stacker's ODST troop to have fought in the Jericho campaign and on. Why he is a Private, Reynolds knew well.
      He didn't want to tell the rest of the platoon that the penal code forbids the UNSC from promoting any convicts that have been conscripted or volunteered.
      "If you can walk, get yourself on the line!" Reynolds commanded, his voice carrying over easily to the other side of the underbelly of the Crow's Nest. He saw some men shuffle over, but he saw three or four men on the other side remain sitting and wobble around. Reynolds didn't care if they were hurt or not, Captain Gallagher gave him an order and he was going to follow it.
      The power came back on, and now Reynolds could see clearly. He saw five male soldiers, (his platoon), two females, and one male Spectre operative dressed in full black body armor. He looked like something out of his nephew's comic books, standing tall and with no emotion. Funny, Reynolds thought to himself as he cracked a smile. He knew it wasn't Gallagher, he hadn't come down with the rest of the soldiers.
      And then he saw John-117.
      The hulking human, or what used to be human in William's mind, walked next to the SPECTRE operative with his hands holding gently onto an MA5B ICWS. He stood tall, but waited for Reynolds' order. He noticed the SPECTRE operative do the same, both of the naval commandos had their eyes trained on Reynolds.
      Talk about being put on the spot
      "Men, we got to hit anti-aircraft Wraiths all along the Tsavo Highway, then we hit Voi and take out key Covenant triple A installations, giving Fleet Admiral Hood enough time for a strike force to slip it and attack the Prophet of Truth's base. We don't have a lot of time. Zander, Rawlings, and Landford got that turreted Warthog. The rest of us are taking the Double Tee. Chief, Henderson, you want to get in front?" He asked, the SPECTRE operative looking a little surprised when he was addressed with his last name. Reynolds only remembered because Gallagher had told him which Team was down here, and Henderson didn't manage to make it out.
      "I'll drive." The Chief said, the rest of the men running to their positions. Reynolds jumped in the back on the port side, wrapping one of his hands around the end pole connecting the divider in the back of the Warthog. His other hand held onto his Battle Rifle as if it was the Holy Grail: he was not prepared to let go of it.
      "I thought I told you to stay in bed, Sergeant Reynolds." A soft voice hit his ears, and a smile slowly parted on William's lips. Michelle Farrior, still with her normal equipment that she wore the last time William looked at her, and her bright eyes staring at his. His heart crumbled, his soul wavered: her gaze pierced his soul with the blades of her eyes. It reminded him too much of Mary, and he still didn't know what happened to her.
      "You know me, 'mam. Can't pull me from my job unless I'm dead or wounded severely." He said, cracking a smile over his face as he chuckled. She chuckled back too, and it scared him. Even her chuckle was like Mary's, her mannerisms, all of her. It was almost as if it was Mary, save the hair and the rank and the affiliation. It saddened him, within his armor, but he did his best to not let it show.
      "Who's the black armored guy?" Michelle asked, twitching her head over her shoulder to the sideseat, where Henderson had taken a seat and kept a steady eye as the Warthog exited the underground tunnel. He fired his rifle again into a fleeing Grunt, the rest of the men cheered him on.
      "Luke Henderson. They call him Wolf."
      "Gallagher told me he got the nickname when they were on the ice planet. You know, Carthage II. He and his squad were up in the mountains picking off Covenant patrols when they were attacked by an Elite squad and Hunters. Four of them managed to wipe out the Elites using trip mines, but, the Hunters managed to kill the rest of the squad save Henderson. One Hunter out of the four tried to rush him, but he managed to stick a plasma grenade in its underside. It died, and got the attention of the other three. He picked up his fallen demolitions expert's rocket launcher and blew them all to Hell. Got the nickname because he managed to survive out there for six days until SAR managed to get to him."
      "Sweet Mary, that's intense."
      "I know." William replied, after recounting the story Gallagher told him. They went over a small hill, the front end of the Warthog slamming into a Brute and punching his body into the ground. The Brute's body crumbled like paper as the Warthog smashed bone and muscle, causing a few grimaces from the rest of the men onboard.
      William flicked on his radio.
      "Chief, when we get to the Highway we wait for Stacker. Roger?"
      A grunt peeled out behind a rock. William pulled his rifle upwards into firing position and let loose a burst round into the head of the stupid creature. It whelped and collapsed. A cruel smile formed on the vengeful Sergeant's lips, finally getting the revenge he wanted.
      The revenge he needed.

There is only one thing left for me to do, in this world.
      "What is that?"
      Mary, I loved you more than any husband can do. But if you cannot love me because of my job, then you don't really love me at all. I'm sorry, Mary, but I can't love you anymore.
      "I. Hate. You. Do you understand, William? Nothing in this world will stop me from that. Not even your own death."
      I know.

      Master Gunnery Sergeant Pete Stacker exclaimed as loud as he could as he and the rest of the wounded soldiers hid up on top of one of the metal tents used for work projects, Brute Chopper fire raining down on them from the Brute's death machines. Laughs from the Brutes only made the anger in Stacker rise and boil his blood to the point of his hands gripping the MA5B ICWS' stock so hard that it broke chips of it off. He jumped up and fired a few shots from his rifle into the head of a Brute, his helmet taking all of the shots. It dazed him, for a brief moment, which was all Stacker needed.
      A spike grenade flew from his hands.
      The spike grenade stuck on the Brute's leg, the creature realizing that he had been marked for death. He merely stood still, a smart thing, but for Stacker's luck a Chopper was passing by. The explosion shoved the Brute who had been spiked backwards into the pilot, who was knocked off. The Chopper, however, kept moving forward with its same speed. That Chopper smacked straight into another Brute death machine, destroying both of them in one fiery explosion.
      "Lucky!" One of the ODST troopers exclaimed as he peppered some of the Brutes attempting to surround them with Battle Rifle fire. Stacker, however, knew that it was only a matter of time. The aliens outnumbered his forces four to one, the twelve Brutes beginning to scream out in victory as they came closer.
      Help, however, arrived.
      By wheels of Warthog.
      A Troop Transport Warthog and the normal recon model careered out of an opening of a rock wall, marked by trail divets and little tiny light buoys. Stacker watched as the 'Trooper' released fire from all sides, the Brutes taken by surprise and cut down like weeds in a farmer's field. It was almost as if they were Grunts, a small patrol being hit by a two man team: The Marine's recon Warthog was running over fleeing Brutes with a quickness. It was unreal, unrealistic. Stacker couldn't believe it.
      "Sergeant Major! Good to see you!"
      "Corpsman Farrior. I need your help."
      "Roger. Chief, stop the Trooper near that tent. Gardner, get our bags."
      Stacker watched as the Trooper came to a halt outside the tent, in the back Corpsman Farrior and her other medical attaché jumped off and headed towards the tent. The Trooper, with the Chief and Gunny Reynolds noticeable in the back, then took off for the main connecting road to Voi. Farrior and Gardner climbed up to the top with the medical equipment on their back, a strong feat for normal looking human females.
      "Sergeant Stacker?"
      "Tara, that's Stacker alright." Michelle responded to Gardner's inquest. A smile cracked on Stacker's face.
      "Good to see you, 'mam. I got three men in desperate need, but the rest of us can wait. Just bones broken in places that don't matter."
      "Roger. Tara, get that guy over there. Don't want to amputate his other leg."

      An Elite stood tall, his Energy Sword activated in his right hand. His golden armor shined bright, and it seemed like he was done with questioning. Reynolds could only hope that it would be quick, and painless. He was a Marine, and he had betrayed nothing. His ring finger was gone, his middle finger on the opposite hand was too, but he had remained quiet. The pain was terrible, but he let no sound escape. If Earth was discovered, then all of it was gone.
      He never figured he would die on Jericho.
      The Elite roared, and rose his arm.
      He prayed to make sure his Mary would live a long life of happiness.
      The Elite crumbled like paper.
      A sniper round from a nearby patrol, no doubt. Reynolds immediately pushed himself up and ran, as fast as he could, as both plasma fire and bullets flew into the air around him. Not one amount of pain hit his body, no bullet or plasma hit him, he was as if untouchable by God himself.
      He would live, today.
      But what about tomorrow?

End of Chapter One

You Know My Name: Intermission
Date: 3 January 2008, 5:28 pm

      "Why, again, did you draw us here? To conspire? To delegate?! Why must you continue this petty discussion, Colonel? The answer is no. The follow-up is no. The recurring, recurring, answer will and always will be no. Why do you think I am here with them, instead of you? I got a few words for you, Robert. Stay. The. Fuck. Away. One more incident and it's the end for all of us."
      "You think I am afraid of you? You think I am worried about how some Special Operations commander will do to me after I have you court-marshaled and sent to some prison planet on the outer reaches of the Galaxy? I don't even need the Council's authority for this."
      "Too bad. I am in command of this mission, Colonel. Get your hands off."
      "Or what?"
      "Your family."
      A drip of silence.
      "What are you implying?"
      "I think it would be very easy for, let's say, some rogue officer that you knew comes to your house and kills your wife and your daughter. Let's also say that this officer goes underground and eventually comes back, with a clean slate. It happens in every day life, Colonel. I suggest you watch it."
      Silence drips again.
      "Fine. Have it your way. Your men are officially part of the operation. But don't ever threaten my family. Ever."
      The transmission ended.
      Colonel James Ackerson smiled as he leaned back in his chair, his fingers overlapping with simple slowness, a tiger's stalk, a vulture's eternal patience. He was definitely right, of course: He would of gotten the informal permission, whenever Operative Zero would given it to him or he would of gotten it from Zero's cold dead hands.
      It's just politics.
      "Colonel Ackerson?"
      His finger pressed hard on the intercom button.
      "Admiral Romanov is here to see you."
      "Which one?"
      "Admiral Valentina Victorivich Romanov. Sir."
      "Oh, send her in!"
      A short moment later, the door opened. Standing in the hallway was a tall woman, her hair white but her skin young. As if she had almost died of fright. Her dark irises were the most golden color that Ackerson had really seen before: video communication did her no justice. She was wearing the Service Dress uniform, her combination cover tucked under her left arm.
      "Ackerson, I'll keep this short." She spoke in a heavy, Russian accent. He smiled at how she pronounced his last name: gave a sexy feel to it.
      "No problem, Admiral."
      "Why must you behassel my men?"
      Behassel? What the fuck does that mean?
      "I never meant to behassel your men, Admi---"
      "Yes. Yes, you did. I overheard your conversation when I contacted my team's commander. One more incident, Colonel. And you're out."
      "I always find ways to get back, Admiral Romanov."
      "Not with a bullet in your head." She spat her words out, her tone very low, before she gave an about face and walked out of Ackerson's office. He mused to himself, the smile gone, his gaze at the floor. She actually threatened him, him, the Chairman of his department, and it was supposed to be funny. But then again, how did she know about Zero?
      Ackerson smiled to himself as he pulled out the master control for the recording devices, and he thumbed the tri---
      It wasn't there!
      Who the fuck took my damn…
      "Get me HIGHCOM's Chairman of Judical Operations, Melinda."
      "Right on it, sir."
      A beep.
      "This is Commodore Reinfield. How can…Ackerson! How can I help you today?"
      "I'll keep it short, Lukas. I need you to remove Colonel Robert Anthony Gallagher, callsign Zero, from any sort of legal status. I got a letter from him stating that he's gone rogue and he's forcing Commander Keyes to continue her operation."
      "Are you sure?"
      "Yes, positive."
      "It's a shame. Robert always got things done. Are you planning to host trial or kill him outright?"
      "Does it matter?"
      "I don't want to remove all of it if you're just going to arrest him. Looks too suspicious."
      "Oh. Well, remove it all then."
      "Okay. Have a nice day."
      The transmission ended.

      Commodore Lukas Reinfield smiled to himself as he looked at what he did. Next to Ackerson's name was a LSR signature, and then his name next to it written in a legible cursive. The dark haired Bavarian leaned back in his chair and looked behind him, to the television screen of a man nodding in agreement, before that fased out of existence.
      Lukas could only hope Ackerson had enough friends to keep him save.
      "You owe me one, Gallagher."

You Know My Name: 2 of 3: The Ark
Date: 18 January 2008, 5:45 am

      "Zulu, Alpha, grid one three nineteen! Confirm shot location!"
      "Roger, Patrol Thirty. Shot order confirmed. Zulu, Alpha, grid one three nineteen. Shot, over."
      "Alright, boys! Artillery's incoming, so get your damn heads down!" In the midst of the skirmish a Marine Lieutenant bellowed an order as plasma fire danced above his head. Gunnery Sergeant William Reynolds cursed as he pulled the Lieutenant down to the ground, the incoming artillery shells heard with resonance across the small encampment.
      A large explosion kicked up desert sand, the beige colored dust mixing high into the air with the blood of Covenant foot soldiers: unlucky Brutes who were attempting to encircle the platoon, while the shields of dead or wounded Jackals slammed into the ground; without their owner the shields dropped like one ton weights. The artillery shelling intensified as shrills was heard long before their dust-flying impacts. Reynolds, in front of the large Forerunner behind a wall of concrete, kept himself over their newly assigned Lieutenant as Hell rained down upon them.
      The last shot, a Hellraiser round, came with a two second delay after the last normal artillery round. The round sounded heavier as it zoomed through the artificially created sky, the rest of the Marines pushing themselves as low to the ground as they could for this last shot. The Covenant, under the impression that it was going to be just the last normal artillery round, were rushing towards their position with their spike and plasma weapons blazing with life; the battle once again fully alive between them.
      That's when the Hellraiser hit.
      The round hit behind the fifteen Brute squadron, and then it grew. Flame expanded outwards from its center, almost immediately, and in a flat two seconds it grew from a two foot wide explosion of flame to a napalm bomb almost a football field long. The Covenant did not escape the napalm attack: every single Brute was caught within the flames.
      The battle was over.
      William stood himself up over the Lieutenant with a hand down. The Lieutenant nodded, grabbing it and pulling himself up with the rest of the squad shaking their head. Private Young was looking behind their makeshift concrete cover point, his head peaking on the side, before he turned around to face the rest of the squad and give a curt nod.
      "Alright, move out." Reynolds ordered, taking point as they walked out of the safety of the Forerunner structure. The large, towering safety point seemed unnaturally placed, half of it on the canyon wall and the rest descending below. The charred remains of a Scorpion tank littered the battlefield along with the numerous Brute bodies and one huge Scarab-class Battlewalker chassis. The artificial sun was high in the air, and with that came no wind. It was all fake, the weather and the sun and the sand, but Sergeant Reynolds was amazed by their advanced level of technology.
      "He's going to get us killed, Sergeant."
      "I know, Young. Just keep your head down and follow my lead. I'll make sure the rest of us see this 'Ark' thing through." Reynolds spoke with a little bit of worry; he was thinking the same thing too and it scared him. If he wasn't asked to stick on with them because of the lack of a Platoon Sergeant then he would of left the platoon awhile back, before this patrol.
      "Patrol Thirty, this is Falling Star. New orders. Assist the main strike force at the head of the Shield Barrier. VTOL extraction by Foxtrot Eight Three One in one. Roger, confirm?"
      "Roger, orders received and confirmed. Awaiting VTOL extraction." The Lieutenant tapped his ear receiver before he turned to face the rest of his now smaller platoon.
      "Heh, you hear that boys? We get to go kill more Covenant!"
      William inwardly groaned, turning his Assault Rifle up towards him as his eyes scanned his ammo reader. He nodded, he still had more than half of a clip within his weapon and he was content. He looked around him and saw that the rest of the soldiers were reloading and tending to themselves.
      "Two. Lee and Zanipolo."
      "How bad?"
      "Questionable on Zanipolo. Lee's got enough time to make it to a medical station, but I don't think they can save him."
      "Shit. Private Zanipolo, how bad off are you?" William turned to face the human soldier, his backside firmly on the ground with a hand on his abdomen. Marius looked up, giving William a good look at the Italian private. He had black hair, but his face was clean, as if hardly anything comes into contact with it. Nothing malicious.
      "I'm fine, sir. It got into fat. just bleeding a bit."
      "Alright. I think it's coming now. I'll check on Lee."
      "Sergeant, he's gone."
      A tense moment of silence passed as William turned his head to the soldier pressed against a rock, his head limp and his eyes closed. Next to his body was Corpsman Tara Gardner slamming a hand against a rock, before a long sigh followed as she packed up all of her nearby medical supplies into her butt pack; twisted around to her stomach so she could upload them easier. William shook his head and turned his head westwards, towards the image of an incoming Pelican.
      "Change of the POA, Patrol Thirty. You're being sent to Base Camp One for reassignment: The Master Chief's heading towards the third tower already and you'll do nothing to help."
      "Roger that, Falling Star."
      Suddenly, less static cut through the communication's box, a stronger signal cutting through the background.
      "Oscar Two Delta, this is Foxtrot Eight Three One, coming up on final approach."
      "Roger that, Foxtrot Eight Three One. Alright, you maggots! Get ready to get on the Pelican once it touches down!"
      "Oh, here we go again. Sergeant, would you cover for me if I fragged the Lieutenant?"
      And, unlike the past couple of weeks, Sergeant William James Reynolds actually smiled and laughed.

      Lieutenant Luke Henderson stopped his breathe, his lungs compressing the last remaining bits of carbon dioxide and oxygen into his chest, his hands steadying to a close perfection. Next to him, lying down in the prone position like his fellow soldier, was another black-clad, armored Spectre operative. Instead of the M99 Special Application Scoped Rifle that Wolf had in his hands he had a long-range, high powered magnification scope. His build was small, sprinter-like in appearance, with his body thin but tall. On his chest, on the upper right, gave the callsign of 'PEGASUS' as his only mark of identification outside administration files.
      The Master Chief was at the entrance to the first Forerunner Shield Tower, his Warthog already on the approach.
      "Wolf, I got a Wraith. Near the lake."
      "Copy. I see him. Switching to infra-red." Wolf's voice penetrated the communication's link between them, but neither of their bodies moved at all. A testament to their leader and their continuous training in all aspects. Wolf's breathing stopped again, squeezing down on his trigger. A loud boom escaped into the air, the gauss-like round blowing past the sound barrier and flying at an almost unbelievable speed.
      The Wraith was in mid-turn, coming about on the Chief's Warthog, before the projectile burst through the armor of the Wraith, cutting through the door's thick armor, the pilot himself, and then penetrating through the back. It cut through the stabilizers, and the pilot could not readjust. The Wraith, instead of doing a steady turn to set up for a shot, zoomed forward with its engine boost on full. The Brute Gunner screamed as the Wraith hit a rock with its front end, tipping it over fully onto its front side with the speed boost still activated. The Brute was first crushed, and then the angle of weight slamming down on him cut him in half, his blood exploding outwards.
      "Shade, on that hill by the structure. Copy?"
      "Negative, don't see it."
      "About forty yards from the Chief on his left, near the entrance."
      "Roger, confirmed. I got visual. Taking the shot.
      Another boom escaped into the air.
      A soft nearby wind picked up, right after the shot, but it did not affect the already long-gone propelled shot.
      "Nice shot. Chief's got positive entry with ODST Troop Nine. Orders, sir?"
      "We move. Get the Hornet pilot on the com, I'll wait until…"
      Luke stopped talking, the sound of Covenant engines piercing their ears with more and more promiximity. Luke turned his head to his left, and saw the odd violet-coloured hull of a Covenant Dropship slowly raise itself upward. Luke didn't even have to say anything; both Spectre commandos shot up from the ground and went into a dead sprint. The Phantom adjusted its speed, dipping its nose forward as it brought speed to its engines.
      Pegasus was already running full speed ahead of Luke, his speed carrying him faster than his commander. The seemingly pre-fabricated grassland area over the rocky wall offered no such cover, and their only hope was to run over the other, shorter side of the 'wall'. Luke felt plasma brush past him as he rapidly switched directions; his calves forcing out explosive force onto his big toe, allowing him to push off and continue his present speed.
      He heard the whine of a laser, and the burst of plasma, and he could not turn his head for fear of being hit. He forced his left foot down and pushed off, his body now turning back the way it was only moments before. He saw the Dropship turning, its keel facing the Lieutenant, before a red laser struck through its cockpit. He only saw the bright ray flash forward into the ship, and then saw the remaining explode out of the tophalf of the ship.
      "Shoot again!" He yelled to Pegasus, presently on his left knee some yards away from Luke, his Model 6 Galileian Nonlinear Rifle over his shoulder as he stood still. The Dropship lifted up its nose violently, pulling back harder than its gunner's suspected. One of the two Grunt gun operators fell out of the Dropship, hitting head first and collapsing. Pegasus' Galileian laser powered up again, the blood red sighting appearing once again on its keel. The Dropship tilted its nose forward towards the two SPECTRE operatives once more, in an attempt to ram them and end the engagement.
      Pegasus fired again.
      The beam burst through the cockpit, killing the Brute pilot in one hit, and it continued forward. It pierced the engine core of the ship, causing secondary explosions within the ship like wildfire. On its hull, blue plasma vented as it began a port-sided downward spiral. Before it hit the ground, the core exploded in one violent show of fire and plasma: causing Wolf and Pegasus to duck down.
      Pegasus whistled.
      "Nice shot, Chief." Luke said to Pegasus, nodding his head towards the Chief Petty Officer. Pegasus merely gave Luke a two-fingered salute, Luke knew that Pegasus was smiling behind his helmet, a trait that Luke picked up on from looking at his helmet for a long time.
      "Get Stryker on the com."
      "Aye, Lieutenant." He replied back, touching his left hand's index and middle finger to his helmet, pressing down on a small circular button before he started to talk. Luke turned his head towards the large Forerunner structure, towards the massive Shield Section that the mission called for to be taken down. He still held the M99 Special Application Scoped Rifle in his hands, before he watched as the shield flashed down. A few seconds later, the other shield that the Elite team was supposed to take down disappeared. The ODSTs and the Special Operations Elites completed their mission, and now all that Luke waited to see was the Marines complete theirs.
      "We need a pickup. Grid November, Uniform, Sierra. Eight, Two, Niner."
      The shield didn't go down.
      "Roger. Wolf, we got one minute 'til extraction."
      It still didn't go down.
      "Something's wrong. When Lieutenant Harrison gets here I'll order her to get us to that Third Tower."
      Something just tingled down his spine, and he knew something wrong was going to happen.
      He just didn't know when.

      "Commander Keyes, I don't think…"
      "Shut up, Private, and man that turret!" Keyes yelled back to Young, who was yelling from the Troop Bay at his station: the Repeating Machine Gun on the back of the Pelican. Around the Pelican, in the blue sky, Hornet danced the twirling five-step with Covenant Banshees, stray plasma and bullet rounds smacking across the surface of the Human Dropship. Young held down on the trigger, letting loose fiery death from his gun as if he was the Grim Reaper himself. A Banshee's wings were destroyed and cut off from its main hull completely; the unfortunate Brute pilot had let its Banshee into Young's path. The Banshee flew radically for a few moments before Young's fire cut through the armor and killed the Brute. The Banshee's remains flew into the ocean below.
      "Commander! Covenant Dropship, port bow!"
      "Young, can you do anything?!"
      "Negative, 'mam, out of my rotational ability!"
      "He's mine, Commander." A female voice came into Keyes' communication hub.
      A Hornet came into view, almost indifferent save for the two black-clad ODST troopers on the side. As they got closer, Young realized they weren't Orbital Shock Drop Troopers at all; they were those tall, black armored Special Operations troopers. He didn't know the name, only that they were tough. He saw them armed with what Reynolds called 'Spartan Lasers', and he smiled.
      They both fired, into the bow of the Phantom Dropship, through its keel. The Dropship hovered for a few seconds as secondary explosions erupted through its hull, before it expanded and then exploded; Brute bodies along with Jackal and Grunts flying out into the ocean below. Private Young hollered as he turned his head back to his Commanding Officer.
      "Commander, Phantom is down!"
      "We're moving ahead, 'mam. Colonel Gallagher sends his regards."
      Keyes smiled.
      "Chief, you got a way in?"
      "Young, Reynolds, we're breaking off. We're going to wait for the Chief to complete his mission."
      But, will we?

42 Green Street
Mary J. Reynolds
Priority Mail

      Dear Mary;

      I am about to leave on a great mission. This mission, unlike all of the other ones, will determine if humanity deserves to stand alone in the Galaxy, or be extinct. I go on a secret mission, but I have to send you this letter, to tie our own loose ends.
      When you left, I felt sadness, and hate. And you have haunted my dreams for a long time. Each time I closed my eyes at night, for a month, you were there, smiling, but then you screamed at me and told me I was a failure, someone who gave up your life because of a silly dream.
      I forgive you, Mary. I forgive a lot of things you said to me. And I regret saying anything to you that you found angry, or rageful. Anything of the sort, I am sorry. Deeply. And I regret taking this job, but I had to. And you understand that, too. I only hope that, if I return, we can work this out between you and me.
      I still love you, Mary. Always have, always will.


      The Chief had descended from up high.
      He had just left the large Forerunner building, standing outside with a whole squad of Elites and Marines, including the ODSTs and the three SPECTRE operatives who all stood to gaze at the legendary soldier. He had an Assault Rifle in his hands, and a Shotgun slung across his back. His helmet turned towards the soldiers, then the Special Operatives, and then the Elites, before he looked to the sky, towards Keyes' Pelican.
      "We all have our orders. Assault the main Tower. Hornet Flights will assist the Chief and the troopers into the fight. I'll stand up here and provide support. Are you ready, Master Chief?"
      "Yes 'mam."
      "[I]Alright then. Men, Elites…move out!"
      The men dispersed, most of the Marines heading for the M80BT Scorpion Tank while the ODST troopers jumped into a Warthog Troop Transport, the 'Battle Wagon' now holding five ODST Troopers and one Master Gunnery Sergeant Pete Stacker. Two of the three SPECTRE operatives ran over to the Gauss Warthog that was parked next to the Battle Wagon. The small cadre of Elites jumped into a Brute Prowler, all four of the Elites manning a station on the vehicle.
      The Chief chose the Gauss Warthog, where Luke and Pegasus had taken hold of.
      "You want to drive or shoot, Chief?"
      He took the driver's seat and started the engine.
      "Answers my question."
      Luke smiled at Pegasus as he manned the Gauss Turret on the back, Pegasus taking the side seat. A large cave led up to a large door, one that the Chief began his journey to. Pegasus, meanwhile, switched his weapon from the Spartan Laser to the SPNKr Rocket Launcher, with Wolf shaking his head at his fellow operative.
      "Sergeant, we're going in."

      The Chief was closing in onto the Tower. The small squadron of troopers were closing in on their final objective. Sergeant Reynolds and Commander Keyes were closing in upon their final absolution, their final victory. The Arbiter was closing in on his revenge. Truth was closing in on his Great Journey, and Spark was closing in on reclamation.
      The only thing that stopped all of them was a pair of Scarabs.
      "Dammit! We don't have enough firepower to take them out!"
      Young was sitting down, his eyes to the floor, as if he had seen too much too recently. He looked over to Sergeant Reynolds, who was manning the machine gun on the backside, and then over in Commander Keyes' direction. He stood up, his hand now gripping a support bar. He took hard steps over to Miranda's seat, her being the soul pilot within the Pelican.
      "A bit busy, Private!"
      "Land on that other Scarab."
      She turned her head around, a shocked look on her face.
      "What?! Are you crazy!? What do you plan to do, land on it and destroy it by yourself!?"
      A smile crept up on Young's face.
      "Yes, 'mam!"
      "And I thought ODSTs were crazy!" She said, turning her head back, facing the glass of the cockpit, before she lowered her Pelican down. The sun was setting in front of the large, ruinous-like Tower that led forth towards the Core. The main firing station. Banshee and Hornet fought against each other like gladiators in Ancient Earth history, a green Phantom Dropship giving cover to those humans who sought its help.
      Young turned and looked over at Reynolds, who heard the conversation.
      "Count me in, Private!"
      The Pelican was now mere feet off of the Scarab, the beastly thing's main cannon pointing away from the Pelican, but it was sharply turning to face the human Dropship. Reynolds and Young jumped off out of the troop bay and landed hard on the smooth upper surface of the Scarab. The Pelican immediately lifted its nose and turned starboard, laser blasts hitting in a slow arc: too slow against the Pelican's superior speed.
      Young took his Sniper Rifle and shot first against a golden armored Brute, who had turned towards them with a large Gravity Hammer in his hands. The shot took off the Brute's helmet, causing its anger to rise in consideration. Reynolds was now afraid: a normal Brute was easy to handle but those Chieftains were even more difficult to kill. It charged towards the Private, but he was charging too. Reynolds saw the aged soldier rushing towards the Brute, both screaming, both angry, both holding the hope of the Galaxy in their hands.
      Except, the Private was smarter.
      He pulled his Shotgun from his back, a concealed weapon, and thrusted the barrel of the M90 into the face of the Brute, as his Hammer was in the air in mid-swing. Young fired the shot into the Brute's open mouth, the shots slamming through the jaw and into the brain, and then out through the cranium. The Brute's head, for a lack of a better definition, exploded into a million pieces. However, the body still had forward motion, and the look on Young's face was almost comical as the Brute body fell on him.
      The Scarab lifted its leg, making the body slide off on its port side, Reynolds grabbing the Private's hand and lifting him up off of the surface. As he did this, Spiker fire flew over his head. William cursed as he brought his Assault Rifle to bear on the Brute who was firing at him. He squeezed down on the trigger, forcing his rifle down as he fired. He was not firing in bursts, and he only stopped after Young fired off a hip shot with his Sniper Rifle into the Brute's chest. The Brute slid sideways off of the Scarab as it turned, his screams only stopped after he hit the ground.
      "Jesus! Come on, let's hurry up! I got a demo charge right here!"
      Reynolds and Young hurried to the back end of the Scarab, all of the enemy attention on the other side of the pair of UNSC Marines. Sergeant Reynolds then took the square C7 demolition and inserted a metal rod, which lifted half of its length upright and the tip flashed red.
      "We got half a minute!"
      "This is Young, Bravo Company, 77th Marine Regiment, need evac, now!"
      "Copy that. Head to the front."
      Reynolds and Young ran up to the front as fast as they could, all of the Brutes now acquiring the pair as targets of vital importance. But, as they looked forward towards the snowy cliffside they watched the battle unfold, but their feet did not stop running. A Hornet suddenly zoomed into view, a black-armored pilot controlling it. Reynolds pulled Young down as missiles and gunfire erupted from the Hornet, cutting down the first few Brutes who were behind the pair, plus the Grunt Gunners and Jackals who were in support. Young jumped onto the Hornet first, his hand latching onto a metal bar for support.
      Reynolds was hit.
      A spike round flew into his shoulder, his left shoulder, and he yelped in pain. His rifle flew out of his hands and off onto the ground below. The pilot, who he recognized as a SPECTRE operative, snapped her head towards the soldier, and immediately turned her craft so Young was facing him. Reynolds crumbled onto the ground, on his knees, pain causing him to do this. But Young threw out his free hand, his shotgun falling down to the ground like a rock off a cliff.
      Reynolds, weakly grabbed it.
      Young did the rest.
      Lieutenant Rebecca Harrison, called Stryker by her fellow operatives, immediately pulled up and high away from the Scarab with a quick speed, lifting the pair of Marines off of the Battlewalker. Reynolds continued to hold on, and Young continued to support him, the true sign of battle brothers as they held on as long as they could. A few seconds later, the Hornet touched down away from combat, allowing Reynolds to fall to the ground along with Young, who knelt over him.
      Another few seconds later, the Scarab erupted in hellfire.
      "God damn, I'm going to bleed out…"
      "I have limited medical training." The Scottish pilot said, who was also over the wounded Sergeant.
      "Then save him!"
      "I'll try… Looks like it torn through some nerves. Old wound, too. I need to cauterize it because it torn through a major blood artery."
      "With what?"
      "You got a lighter?"
      William's eyes widened.
      Young slipped a hand under his armored plate and pulled out a silver lighter, with the UNSC emblem on one of the sides. Rebecca took off her helmet, revealing her semi-pale skin, but her brightly red hair. She seemed beautiful, but she did nothing to use it or even more. It was just there, and Reynolds noted this. She took the lighter and smiled, flipping it open.
      "I need clothe, Marine."
      Private Young nodded, ripping off part of his camouflaged clothe under the knee, already torn from plasma and spiker rounds flying past earlier on the Scarab. He actually began to notice the burns on his arm and the back of his legs, the adrenaline slowing down now. He looked over at Reynolds, then back at the pilot, who wrapped the clothe in a tight little cylinder-like ball.
      "Bite down, Marine."
      Reynolds nodded, opening his mouth as Rebecca placed the clothe in his mouth. He, as ordered, bit down hard as Rebecca flipped on the lighter.
      Reynolds screamed.
      His yells continued to become louder and louder, before Rebecca removed the lighter from Reynolds' wound, when his screams then slowly decreased as they became heightened moans of pain. She nodded, patting William on the opposite shoulder before she looked over at Young, who gave her a curt nod, before she made her way back to the Hornet.
      "I'll send a Pelican over."
      And, with that, her Hornet powered up and flew back into the fray.
      "Private Young?" He said through clenched teeth, the clothe spat out a few moments before.
      "Yes, Sergeant?"
      "What…what the hell did you do?"
      "I got that Lieutenant pilot there to…"
      "No, no. I mean…What did you do to be a…convict?"
      Young looked back over at the battlefield, before he looked back.
      "I thought that serving with the UNSC was bad, something that no human should do based on the fact of its controlling governments. So, I managed to hook up with some URF rebels near Eridanus, but my crew and I got captured by a Frigate. So, they sent me to prison with the rest of those backstabbin' assholes. And when the convicts were allowed to join up in the UNSC I didn't hesitate. That was, I think, a few months after the couple of first wave engagements."
      "Jesus. And you're still a Private?"
      "They don't promote convicts."
      Reynolds looked over to the other Scarab, the hulking figure scary in appearance and demeanor, as if it was hulking towards them. Suddenly, a large plasma explosion ripped through the Scarab, a piercing noise filling the sky as Reynolds winced. Pieces of it exploded outwards, and a distant voice was heard on Young's communication piece, with Keyes telling everyone to get inside.
      "Here it comes. SAR Pelican, in bound."
      Sergeant Reynolds was now anxious.


      Colonel Ackerson rubbed his chin, his pruny fingers rubbing from his lips down to the tip of his chin, a calculating scowl on his face. He sat in his chair leaning to one side, the one most supported, while his left hand pressed against his side. His brown hair, sharply cut into regulations, was uncovered by a combination cover, the green and the gold medals shining with a uniformed look. The datapad's blue hue shined onto his face in the dark room, the lines of intelligence surfacing into it from the Prowler stationed in Space OPA/AS-001.
      "Colonel, I got a message."
       "From who, Amanda?"
       "Vice Admiral Romanov."
      "Goddamit. I swear, Amanda, we need some more information on her. Send the message through."
      "Can't, sir. Data file, video."
      "Goddamit. Yeah, sure. Did ATSG scan it?"
      "Aye, sir."
      "Good then. It's okay to come in." James said, looking at the screen one more time before he clicked off a switch on the side of the square piece of technology. The doors to his office opened, and Amanda walked in with quickness. She had hair into a bun, and her Naval service dress uniform looked almost perfect. Her row of ribbons was slanted off upwards, but Ackerson didn't care. Her work was primarily admin, nothing else.
      "Here you go, sir."
      "Thanks, Amanda."
      She left quickly, and he turned around and activated the data-pad that was given to him only moments before. A blue screen appeared, the UNSCDF emblem appearing as bright as ever against the blue background. Then the face of the Russian admiral popped into view.
      "Colonel. I'll make this brief. I need to hear anything about any sort of Covenant or Elite movements in the Cerberus system, since we have reports of not only our ships but one or two Prowlers being lost out there. If you hear anything, I'd like to know. Hood would, too. End transmission."
      How the bloody fuck does she know about the Atalanta and the Achilles?
      "Amanda, cancel the meeting with President Williams. I have to take care of a problem in the Prowler Corps."

      Field Valley, Montana. Population 54,265. East side of the river

      "There is a reason. He wants something from you, hon. Don't do it." A woman spoke, her voice as loud as a set of large speakers on maximum, within the confides of a white house. The sun was setting over the house itself, blocking the horizon from anyone standing in front of the two-story home. A garage was on the house's right side, built into it by skilled hands, and the main door was a brown color. Windows were all around the house, built to be viewed, and the chimney coughed up black from within its throat.
      A star hanged on the window.
      The mailbox, written in cursive, read 'REYNOLDS'.
      "He never, never wrote me letters like this, Jane. He never did. Something's wrong."
      "I'm just saying, you two got into some very nasty fights. And he's been all over the galaxy for a long time now. Why would he want to come back to you?" The woman sitting across from another, her skin black, asked to her friend. The other woman sighed, shrugged her shoulders, and looked out at the window. It was some time since the invasion, but Montana wasn't hit, and she felt now it was safe thanks to not only her husband but the efforts of the Elites.
      "Because, Jane, I realized something."
      Jane, leaning forward, stared at her friend. She was now intrigued, waiting to hear her best friend describe her feelings on Bill to her.
      "He still loves me."

You Know My Name: Intermission: Adbridged Lies
Date: 24 January 2008, 3:26 pm



764-978-128 incongruity

      "Colonel, he's getting smarter. Every time I try to get close to him it's like he knows. Hell, he called up Commodore Reinfield, who heads up the Judiciary Committee and tried to get Zero labeled Section Nine! I don't know how long we can protect Zero and his operations out in combative territory."
      "I agree, sir. The more and more that bastard pulls on him, the more and more he gains. I say we do a preemptive strike. Assassination, probably"
      "No, I don't think that's wise. Even though Ackerson is despicable, he still is human. And he's loyal to the core, even if he puts himself first sometimes. No, I got a better idea."
      "Well, what do you think? I mean, if you want to, I got one of the best human snipers in the Galaxy on one of my teams. Just say the word, and I can have her ready."
      "Commander, I agree with General Lambert here. It sounds too close for all of us if James continues to operate the way he is. As Citizens we cannot allow it. He's loyal, too loyal."
      "We created the Citizenry for a reason, gentlemen. We don't go about and assassinating people because they're a hindrance. Not even communists do that."
      "Yes they do."
      "Not the point, Victor."
      "It doesn't matter. I say that Operation BELLAPHRON continues as planned. Cerberus has reported all is well on Hades Prime."
      "Wait. I think we got breach!"
      "Internal, or external?!"
      "Security's reporting someone hacking into system exhert two three zero."
      "Two three zero…General, that's your office!"

remove all security profile files
send all communication folders to regiment

reboot system
User C disconnected


      2540, Hades Gamma, Cerberus System
      Riedel Military Headquarters
      Caricana Continent
      Deep Space Transmission and Signal Array
      Operating Room 3

      "The Office of Naval Intelligence is two different branches. One is tactical espionage, involving all manners of black operations, special operations, assassinations of key rebel and pirate personnel, and security detail on high clearance projects in conjunction with HIGHCOM. Simple stuff, you know." An officer, dressed in the Navy Working uniform, addressed a room full of enlisted and officers sitting in rows of seats. The room was nominal, a simple white briefing room, and the double suns were just setting on the horizon.
      "The other one, arguably the most important, is our job. SIGNIT, Prowler, and Surveying Intelligence and Operational Contingency, but SIOC is likely to be absorbed into SIGNIT. We're the Signal Corps, gentlemen. Your backgrounds are almost all electronic warfare or intel gathering, the stuff that our jobs are made out of." The officer spoke with a drawl, his voice smooth but crispy in places that seemed to be more of a colonial upborn than anything. The nametag bore the name of 'Dobbs'.
      "But, remember when I say this: Our leadership always depends on loyal and astute individuals. But they also depend on the blood of patriots, the blood of traitors, and most certainly the blood of enemies. During your operations here at the DSTSA you will see things and hear things that will need to be reported. Do it. Do not hesitate. Often, the fate of the Galaxy will be decided on your actions."
      "We will not, sir!" The entire room shouted, in unison, the command given by err of whisper. The officer, wearing the rank of Major, nodded and smiled at the rest of the group. The door opened, and a man pushed a cart full of laptopic computers into the room.
      "I know you won't."

      2552, Hades Gamma, Cerberus System
      Riedel Military Headquarters
      Caricana Continent
      Deep Space Transmission and Signal Array
      Operating Room 3

      "And he says, look, I got a dragon in my pants! Pulls down his pants, and then realizes that his underwear actually isn't on! Can you see the look on Colonel Dobbs' face?!" A loud-mouthed computer and signal engineer told the woman next to him, his spectacles resting on the bridge of his nose in front of his computing station. The woman next to him, her red hair in a ponytail and freckles upon her cheeks, snorted with him on his humor. The man in question, sitting behind them with his long black hair in a knot, merely shook his head and continued to compute data that was streaming in from OPA/AS-001, the operating name for Operational Presenting Area/Ark Space 001.
      The door opened, and in stepped Colonel Henry Dobbs, a modern briefcase in his right hand.
      "Alright, people, we got new information. The Elite ship Shadow of Intent has left system carrying Colonel Gallagher's Marine forces. We've yet to hear anything else. Miranda, anything else coming in on HIGHCOM's secure channels?"
      The redheaded communication expert slid her chair back over back to the computing table, her green eyes tracing over lines of communication ciphers and signals.
      "No, sir. Stuff that would take too long to decipher and I think… Wow, data spike! Translating…it's all involved in some sort of ONI Section III operation somewhere in the Cerberus system."
      "Hmm? I don't remember anything about some operation in the Cerberus system." Colonel Dobbs said out loud, the rest of the operators' attention caught as he walked over to the redheaded technician. His green uniform, which any UNSC R&D officer wears while on duty, creased along his natural movement, as if it was tailor-made to his body. His green combination cover hid his brown hair, cut low, like any normal officer. His face even appeared to look normal, once handsome but now aged.
      "All of the information is concerning some…Woah."
      "What is it, Eric?"
      "I got a shit-ton of logs, data, even vid-docs of briefings coming in!"
      "Isolating the signal…I got it. I don't know that operating code, but those identification signals are definitely ONI."
      "Definitely. That's ONI Central, alright. Looks like the Langley Branch."
      "What does the Langley Branch do?" One of the newer recruits, a blond haired woman, asked out loud.
      "Counter-terrorism and Special Deterrent Operations."
      "Special…deterrent operations?"
      "Black Ops." Colonel Dobbs answered the recruit's question as he viewed over the data.
      "Seems to be centralized. Most of it appears to mention some sort of 'Operation Bellaphron.'"
      "The ancient rider of Pegasus."
      Colonel Dobbs had a worried look on his face.
      Pegasus…Pegasus…Do they mean the Pegasus system? Or do they mean…
      "What's the matter, Colonel?"
      "I need a quick-send relay to Ackerson, now!"

      A man walked down the hallway leading out of General Erwin Lambert's office, wearing only the cleaning uniform of a plumber, before he sharply turned left and into another office. He quickly took out a brush and scrub, and acted as if he was cleaning photo-still holders and frames, a normal janitor from a distance. Behind him, as he cleaned, a few security officers and three higher ranked men ran past the door towards General Lambert's computer, as if they would try to catch the man in action.
      The man, in clean plumbing gear, smiled to himself as he ran out of the room after they entered the General's private office, sprinting down the hallway and quickly darting into another one. As he ran, he took off the overcoat to reveal a Marine BDU set, equipped with webbing on his belt and a taser, and then quickly decreased his speed to a slow jog.
      User C smiled, again, at a female worker who nodded to him as he walked past her. She reciprocated. They never would know.

You Know My Name: 3 of 3:
Date: 27 March 2008, 10:55 pm

      "Colonel, we are in orbit."
      Gallagher turned his head towards the viewscreen, his eyes blinking in rapid succession to confirm what he saw. He saw Earth; North America was in view, and the Britain Isles were easily too, along with Africa and South America. He saw the black space around it, and the bright Sun's rays shining into the view port. The Moon was passing over the other side, most likely Asia, and the huge MAC Stations loomed over the Earth like a system of shields. The Elite Deck Officers stopped what they were doing, giving themselves time to view the humans' homeworld. The Shipmaster, Rtas' Vadum, leaned forward as he himself viewed the planet; it reminded him much of Sanghelios, and he allowed himself a grin.
      The Elite Fleet, consisting of the Shadow of Intent plus numerous other vessels, loomed some distance away from the planet. No other ships accompanied the Elite fleet as it slowly loomed forward towards Earth. On the bridge, Colonel Robert Gallagher smiled as he saw the homeworld he loved: It was such a sight after the engagement and Hell they went through, not only by themselves but with their new comrades in arms.
      "Shipmaster! Communication from one of the platforms."
      "Colonel. You are the highest ranking human on board. Would you like to receive the call?"
      "I'll take it."
      Rtas stared at the human Colonel, who stood with a bit of pride within his stance. But the aged Elite also saw the slight sadness in the steps towards the secondary view screen. He understood why Humanity was what it was: They fought on and on, but even when sadness and hurt begot them, they didn't stop. He stared, even still, at the lean human. He was compelled to ask him why he looked like an Elite mourning the loss of a brood wife.
      "This is UNSCDF Control Station Memphis, calling to unident…"
      "Control Station Memphis, this is Colonel Robert Gallagher, ONI Identification Red Alpha."
      "I need more than a code for identification, otherwise we will begin fi---"
      "Control Station, this is the UNSC Heavy Cruiser
United States, Admiral Hood in command. I can verify Colonel Gallagher's identity. Stand down."
      "Are you humans always so cautious?" Rtas' voice carried easily through the Command Bridge, causing Gallagher to turn his head over his shoulder. The Sanghelli Fleet Major, Oana Berius, quickly breathed in air into his lungs, as if Gallagher had committed a sacrilegious offense. The aged Colonel quickly pivoted around on his feet, turning so his body was now facing the Shipmaster, his actual fatigued uniform in front of Rtas. He saw the bloody marks, one or two holes, a large plasma burn score on the leg, and numerous other marks of combat. The two commanding officers saw the damage that the Brutes did to the Colonel during the Ark operation, and he nodded.
      "I did not mean to make any offense, Shipmaster."
      "It is forgiven." The Shipmaster said, and he fully knew well that it wasn't. To speak with your back turned towards one of such rank in Sanghelli culture can be likened to spiting on someone's face within human culture.
      "War does this to people. Makes people more and more…afraid. We humans have always been afraid of dying."
      So the human's a philosopher too.
      "Colonel! I trust your mission was complete?"
      "Yes, sir. The mission is complete. Truth is dead, and we have a presumed guess that the Flood was wiped out as well."
      "I'll hear the rest at the debriefing, because right now that sure isn't comforting to hear. Where is Commander Keyes?"
      The Colonel looked over to Rtas for a brief second, his head slowly arching towards the Shipmaster, before it looked back at the image of Lord Hood.
      "She didn't make it."
      He only saw Lord Hood's face reflect the same sadness Gallagher gave to Rtas. The Sanghelli Shipmaster stared at Gallagher and Hood's transaction of words, the rest of the Elites having nothing else to do but watch.
      "Alright, Colonel. I'll see you here on the Cairo. Hood out." The voice of their commanding officer, who had been identified as Admiral Hood, spoke in a low tone as he looked somewhere else for a brief moment. The screen faded into darkness, the human Colonel turning around to face Rtas again.
      "My men will leave your ship, Shipmaster. It was an honor to fight by your side."
      Rtas guarded this human's gaze for a long moment, as if time had stopped for the two warriors, locked in a struggle for infinity with a single gaze. Rtas studied the human's face, once regarded as ugly and easily noticeable, but he never saw what he was being shown now: compassion, caring, even a form of family love that he had never seen outside of Elite culture. His eyes held a hard quality, something he had only seen from humans on the heat of battle. The emotion he was putting forth was something that, before meeting Keyes and other humans, Rtas thought only existed within Sanghelli.
      He nodded.
      "I will never forget the sacrifice you and your brethren made for this Galaxy, Colonel. You lost many a great human in this war, and the Sanghelli know this. We will, beginning on this vessel, remind our own brethren what humanity did here." Rtas spoke with a low growl, but a respectable one. The rest of the Sanghelli bridge staff stood up, slammed their hand on their chest, and pointed it straight out from them as they yelled out a cry of victory.
      They were giving honor due at the planet Earth.

      "Plah-toon! A-ten…huu!" Gunnery Sergeant William Reynolds bellowed into the cargo bay of the Shadow of Intent, the platoon of infantry at his command stood at the position of attention in military-drill precision. Each of them had some sort of medical bandage or gauze or plaster holding on, showing off their wounds to the rest of the bay. Even Reynolds, with his shoulder wound, seemed like he had seen worse in his days as a soldier than the wound he had received on two accounts, thanks to the Covenant. The only one who appeared not to get wounded at all was the Lieutenant, which was a disgraceful sign.
      Reynolds about-faced, bringing up his hand to a salute, right in front of the Lieutenant.
      "Sir, 1st Platoon standing by to board the Pelican, sir!"
      "Very well!" He said, a big voice adopted his vocal chords for this occasion, and Reynolds gave a faux smile, before he performed another about-face.
      The smile dropped.
      "Platoon! When I give you the command to fall out, fall out and proceed onto Pelican Alpha Three Eight Zero. Platoon, fall-out!"
      The platoon all took two steps back.
      "Aye, aye, sir!"
      Reynolds fell to a limp-stance, his body relaxing in a standing position, turning around to face the Lieutenant.
      "Well, sir?"
      "I'm just savoring the moment. Before I get decommissioned." He said, looking over towards the command staff on the far side that was in consul with the Shipmaster and a few of his aides. Reynolds raised an eyebrow at the Lieutenant; he had the appearance of being tired and lame, as if the Galaxy was already too much on his earthly shoulders.
      "Hell, Sergeant, you saw it out there. I'm not fit to lead soldiers into battle. You did most, if not all, of the commanding out there. I know I'm going to be set down on the backburner and probably hold a desk job. No action, no glory, just to fade away as a footnote in military history as a combat lieutenant here. That'll probably be the extent of my history. I fought here, but that will be it. You? You've fought all over the Galaxy, and history remembers soldiers like you." His eyes seemed to hold that sad quality that Reynolds still holds; but unlike the Sergeant's the Lieutenant's eyes held the intelligence and understanding that he was terrible, and that his life as a military commander could now be measured in seconds.
      He could see the sadness of that acknowledgement in his eyes, standing tall but his heart wounded. A straight gaze but a lucid face, a hearty voice but now almost silent.
      "I've been a terrible leader. I've lead from the rear, and I didn't do a good job at that either. I know I was a terrible leader, the men known I was one, and you definitely knew I was a terrible leader…
      "Well, Sergeant, let's go. I want to get home as much as you do."

      The main control station of the Cairo remained the same as it was when Truth launched his attack: damaged stations and boards, plus the hanging ceiling attire, gave it a haggered look. The main stations on the far side, a wall behind them instead of the 'space glass', were worse off because of the fact that they weren't even working anymore. A ceiling holding shaft had fallen in the middle, and they had to evacuate to the Auxiliary Bridge to continue battle operations.
      Admiral Hood stood right in the middle of that same bridge, his back towards that wall, hands clasped behind his back as he waited for the group of individuals to informally debrief him on what happened at the Ark. His stance, less tight than what he usually put on, seemed very relax but a quality held him down. His eyes were closed, a pair of teeth biting down on the lower lip almost to the point of breaking, before his mouth let his lip go. His head turned towards the view plates, showing data that Hood had some idea of what it was talking about. Supply orders, unit commanders and their current place of residence…
      He took another look at the list, and sighed with another bout of sadness. There was, before the Prophet of Regret had attacked, thirty two Marine and fifty six Navy officers on board and stationed on the Cairo. Now, there were a total of five Marine officers and two Navy midshipmen left from that entire compliment. Truth had made sure of that. Now he was one of the last few remaining members of HIGHCOM left in the entire UNSC. He, the highest ranking, had outlived most of his junior officers, save Harper and Romanov.
      The old commander's eyes turned towards an Admiral's coat, with the female cover marked accordingly and the rank in a bag in the cover's upper ring holder.
      He had to turn his eyes away.
      A voice rang out, snapping his head back towards the door. It was Colonel Robert Gallagher, looking as much haggered as the Admiral did right now, but his walk was more pronounced. That sadness quality held him down more than it did Hood, and he had an idea of why. But, like any good officer, he kept it to himself instead of talking about it in front of Master Gunnery Sergeant Peter Stacker and Gunnery Sergeant William James Reynolds. The two Sergeants were right behind the Colonel, both of them walking with that quality within their faces and steps that all of the mission operatives seemingly held.
      They entered in behind the Colonel with a stiff stance, but their eyes told it all.
      "Good to see you, Colonel. Sergeants." He said, giving a curt nod in their direction. Pete nodded back, snapping to a modified position of parade rest, while his comrade merely snapped to a full parade rest in front of the Admiral.
      "What happened to Keyes?"
      "She was attempting to save Sergeant Major Johnson, but she was killed." Gallagher spoke, staring straight at Hood. They made eye contact, but the sadness in Hood's eyes was the same holding within Gallagher. Hood lost a loyal commander. Gallagher lost a friend.
      "What happened to the Chief?"
      Hood turned his head towards Reynolds, who was staring at him with a panther's gaze. Hood knew why too, he had the same look when he had asked the man who extracted the Arbiter from the Atlantic Ocean.
      "He didn't make it."
      Stacker had a neutral look, but Gallagher had his mouth minutely ajar, his eyes giving out disbelief at Hood's words. The aged Colonel looked back around, as if he was going to see the Chief spring up from behind a control station and everything would be okay then. But, as he saw, it didn't happen.
      "He was in the cargo bay of the Dawn and he activated the engines to escape the destruction of the Ark. But, the Arbiter never saw him again. He was the only survivor after you and the Marines left."
      "Wait, Sergeant Johnson didn't make it?"
      "I'm afraid not."
      Stacker's face mirrored Gallagher's, just a few moments before, a mix of surprise and realization.
      "Not a lot of good men made it out of there alive, Colonel. I've asked ONI and some scientific groups to help try to reactivate the Ark portal, but don't hold your breath Robert. Do you at least have the body of Keyes?"
      Gallagher nodded, but his lips stiffened.
      "Then we'll conduct a burial later. For the time being, I'll talk to Section II and see if I can get some sort of memorial up somewhere. We all need something like that. For now, you can leave Colonel. I have to talk to Sergeants Reynolds and Stacker."
      Gallagher snapped to the position of attention, his right hand folding in and centering next to his eyebrow, a perfect hand salute. The Admiral reciprocated, snapping up in the same manner and giving him a salute. Gallagher dropped back his hand down to attention, and after that he stepped off with his left foot, walking away from Hood and the two Marines with a purpose.
      Hood directed his attention back to the Marines.
      "Stacker, Reynolds. I have two things for you." He spoke quietly, his hands melting into his white jacket's pockets with a purpose, pulling out two slim medal cases. Reynolds inwardly sighed, he didn't want these trinkets of war. He didn't know about Stacker, but for Reynolds these things lost their value, especially after Eridanus.
      He opened both, displaying the Medal of Honor.
      "Colonel Gallagher recommended both of you for the appointment, and I accepted." He said, slipping one of the cases under his left armpit as his hands took the first Medal of Honor and unfurled it. Opened, Hood placed it around the younger Sergeant's neck with a smile on his face, one of the first he's cracked since the Colonel stood in front of him.
      He took the other box, opened it, and repeated the same steps for Sergeant Stacker. For Stacker, however, he only gave him the medal to be worn on the uniform, a bronze star pricked into the soft, blue fabric. He saluted them both, and dropped it quickly. The two Marines saluted back, and they both turned to leave. Hood tapped Sergeant Stacker's shoulder, getting the Marine's attention before he left. Reynolds left, leaving the ODST there with the highest ranking officer that Humanity has left.
      "You have another thing, Pete…" Hood said, taking out a twin pair of datachips from his pocket from a sequin pouch in his pocket.
      "Don't activate them until you get home."
      "Home, sir?"
      "You and Renyolds are on a one week furlough to Earth. I suggest you spend it wisely, Stacker, because you got work to do when you get back."

      William Reynolds stood outside his home.
      The cold Montana air was a refreshing thing, hitting his face like actual wind, causing his eyes to close for a mere moment but his heart sore up high, a smile on his face. He was in his dress uniform, his shoes hitting dirted gravel, his black and red uniform's curtails slowly picking up with the wind. William sighed as his eyes slowly paced over the home that he bought, the home that he spent a lot of time in, the home that his family once lived in and bore him a life.
      "Home, sweet home."
      William picked up his green duffel bag and slung the monstrous thing over his shoulder by the strap, the smile now fading as he realized who used to live here before he left for the War. He shook his head quickly and took more steps towards the home that he had so many memories within. His eyes drifted to the window, the place where he spent a lot of time as it rained outside. The door came into view, where their dog used to dart in and out with the younger Reynolds after playing outside.
      He sighed, that smile still locked onto his face.
      His dress shoes creased around the entrance hole to the shoe itself, like normal drill shoes, as he took more and more steps. His gaze sharpened as he finally closed to the distance to the door. He took his hands, outstretched it, and made a move to open it as the sunlight hit him in full glory. The door opened, but not to his hand! Quickly, he made a move for…
      A woman was standing in his doorway.
      She had long, straight hair; coming down to her shoulders and trickling downwards. It was fixed upon her head like angel hair; soft and alluring to the eye, and even more subtly smooth when stroked. Her face caught him in mid-action, the tanned skin oddly matching her flaming red hair in a flash. Beauty marked the woman of his dreams like a high-class painting, ever so transfixing. Her green eyes had a simple look to them, but eye shadow and slicked-up eyebrows gave her a beauty that only few in William James Reynold's life could match. His eyes gazed into her pupils, and longed for them to view him as he was to her. Her pink lips matched her long-sleeve sweater, and her blue jeans gave a home-town feeling to her, a quality that William remembered in the little town of Field Valley, Montana. She obviously waited for him by the door, but her action caught him completely by surprise; such so, he stood still for what seemed like eons before he opened his mouth first.
      He was still distracted: the wind had picked up and her hair was now bistling in the currents of air.
      "Mary, I…"
      "Bill, come in. You'll get cold."
      With a bit of curiosity, the Marine Gunnery Sergeant followed his ex-wife into the hallway. The hallway was a light orange, matching the pearly white siding of doors and open walkways and parts of other objects within that corridor to the lower floor. Mary, however, stopped nearby and turned around. She had another look in her eyes: determination. Bill could remember the look well enough, especially from all of the arguments they had.
      "I never sent in the divorce papers."
      That stunned William. He couldn't even open his mouth in defense to that, all he did was breathe in the air around the house. Even the aroma was the same! The honeydew and marshmallow mixture of his house swelled up into his nose and let him forget about the love of his life for one brief moment. One small, little, and seemingly everlasting moment.
      "Even after all of the lies, all of the arguments, and all of the hatred that we both spoke to each other before you left, I still never could bring myself to sign those papers and give them to the judge. I still love you, William Reynolds. I always did."
      The Marine continued to stare, a forlorn gaze now gone.
      "And nothing will change that."
      Not even William knows what happened next. He only remembered his hand letting go of his baggage and closing the distance between him and Mary within the blink of an eye. His mind was off; the only thought was the love of his life still saying she loved him, even after all of the trouble they went through. His hands cupped her face, bringing her into him, his lips meeting her's in a glorious, releasing moment.
      They fell into it, like a fantasy, or a dream.

      Pete Stacker sat at the bar.
      The Minnesota bar Lumberjack had the dim light settings on, and music slowly played through the speakers in the ceiling, a low and soulful tune. They were on the outskirts of the mega city, the last bit of farmland in the United States zone. He was sitting by himself at the very corner end of the bar, two glasses in front of him empty of liquid. A third was in his hands, the brim to his lips, his tongue tasting the tough brew and not agreeing with his throat. The latter readily accepted the drink down into his stomach, and Stacker agreed with it.
      Tonight, he was drinking to select people.
      The first glass of beer was to Avery, the hardened Marine who fought in the first engagements of the Covenant War. The second was to Commander Keyes, and that was the only one so far that he took it down slow. He remembered a lot about her, and Avery especially, but the third one was to one he only met recently.
      Corpsman Tara Gardner.
      He closed his eyes…
      "Gardner, get your ass over here! I'm losing him!"
      "On my way…Wait, Pete! Sniper!"

      He opened them.
      He never saw someone take a shot for someone else. He never saw that; even in the ODSTs, he never did see someone willingly use their body as a shield against plasma in the Covenant War. He was surprised to see it from a Corpsman, especially her.
      It was then he realized, after he put down the third beer, that he was drinking to her memory because her life was wasted on his.
      She reminded him too much of his wife.
      He could feel Rebecca against him again, but he hated that feeling. It was soft, caressing, a fingertip to his skin caused shivers to run up his spine. His eyes closed again, seeing her face flash across his mind, causing his teeth to bite down on his lower lip. He then felt the fingers of three children wrap around his leg. First came Mariah's, then William's, and then finally Isabella's little tiny fingers. Just like he remembered them.
      They were cold now, ashes on a dead world.
      The only member of his family to escape that planet was his oldest daughter, Mariah, and since that battle they were worse for wear. Mariah still hasn't bothered to speak to her own father since then, and Pete has been worse for wear.
      It was one thing to smile during combat and say things, but it is another to do the same outside of when it is most needed.
      "Bartender, another round."
      The bald-headed bartender, a mean looking fellow, nodded and pulled his glass closer, filling up the small drink holder up to the brim with liquid. Pete took the glass in his crusted hands, defined as man's hands, and let the liquid flow down his throat. He coughed, hard, feeling some of the liquid going down his windpipe.
      "I figured you were here." A female voice spoke up, largely young, with a hint of an accent that told Pete she had family in Virginia. He turned his head backwards, his body following, only to gaze on the face of his only child left. She didn't acknowledge him at first, only sitting next to him and ordered a light drink.
      He saw how she looked.
      Light brown hair, accompanied by the Stacker swagger, gave the haggered beauty a similar forlorn look to her body. No make-up, no lipstick, just her sitting at a bar with her father and the bartender, almost near closing time. Pete opened his mouth first.
      "What the hell are you doing in Minnesota?"
      "Same question I'm asking you."
      A silence crept over the two.
      "I got one more mission, then I'm out. I'm going to get back to what's important in my life."
      "Can I trust you, Dad?"
      Another silence.
      "Or will you let us die like you did on that damn world?"
      "That's not fair, Mariah. And you damn well know it."
      One more silence.
      "How about we drink here, and decide where to go from there?"
      Stacker looked down at his drink, then back to his mature daughter, then smiled as he took a swig.
      The bartender shook his head, and continued to clean a glass.

      Colonel Gallagher was sitting down in front of Lord Hood, in the confines of the Cairo's briefing room. The Marine was only a foot away from the current highest ranking officer in the entirety of the United Nations Space Command's fleet. The Colonel did not know why he was called to see Hood, but he only knew that it had to be bad.
      Around him, outside the huge MAC station, the weapons platform was beginning to come back to a normality that Robert expected from the UNSC: Marines patrolled the corridors and Naval personnel worked at their stations with diligence. He could attribute his knowledge of this by the severity of Hood's eyes: they were not as droopy as they would be if he was still solely in command.
      He knew too well the work of pulling two or more hats.
      "Glad you're here, Robert, because I got a problem."
      "I'm happy to help, Lord Hood."
      "Bull." Admiral Hood smiled at Gallagher, but he dropped it slowly as he took out a small bag full of data, chips and data-plates held within its sequin structure. Hood took out one that had a long red tag wrapped around it, giving its code level and ALEPH signature.
      He pressed it into a data receiver.
      "What're you looking at right now is the planet of Hades Secundus, the second planet in the Cerberus system. This planet has been compromised, along with Hades Prime. The remaining commander officer, Colonel Dobbs, is the commanding officer of a bunch of computer geeks, and we have one ship left."
      "I thought the 1st Fleet was there to protect our interests there?"
      "I pulled those ships away after the Second attack."
      "You didn't leave anything?"
      "Two Halcyon-class cruisers that were updated and one Marathon-class Destroyer, plus a Frigate. The Frigate,Forlorn Hope, is the last remaining loyal vessel there in the system."
      Gallagher's eyes sharpened to pinpricks.
      "How many men went rogue?"
      "About two battalions' worth of men."
      "Are you kidding?! After this goddamn war the Insurrectionists decide to start up again!?"
      "Idiotic, but understandable."
      Gallagher regarded Hood for a moment, realizing what he just said, but the thought was pressed back into his mind.
      "Well, regardless, we need to put a stop to it. I'll assemble my men, and I'll get rolling."
      Hood smiled back.
      "I like your enthusiasm, Robert, but that's already been taken care of. I need three of your best men, because they're mixing with two Spartans and four ODSTs. I want Luke on this operation, because HIGHCOM's looking at him."
      Gallagher looked away.
      "So they want us to handle some militia scum?"
      "We can't have a public incident. All they want is for their leader to get the point, if you know what I mean. This operation is in your hands, Robert, along with oh seventy one's."
      Gallagher raised an eyebrow, but dropped it once he identified the number as a Spartan identification number. All major Committee members knew that sort of information, especially when their work detailed that kind of operations where the numbers come up.
      "You got two weeks to prepare. Then I proceed with the operation."

Letters of a Corpsman: Voi
Date: 29 January 2009, 2:59 am

Letter Posted in Veterans of Foreign Wars Magazine

      Editor’s Column:

Hey, all, and welcome to another edition of our monthly magazine. Unfortunately, the stories on intra Sanghelli and Human relations couldn’t be published yet because, quite frankly, the UNSC wanted to keep those dealings under top secret clearance. Instead, we decided to show you readers another letter from Gunnery Sergeant Michelle Farrior, a Marine serving for most of the war near or on the frontlines.

We received this letter from her faithful husband, Colonel Randall Farrior, a retired Marine who fought in the Great Conflict with Michelle. The last letter was popular, so we decided to make it a continued series until Randall refuses to give us more letters, or when he runs out.

This letter details her actions near Voi, when the Covenant forces attacked a second time. What happens in there is horror only a few could know of outside of war veterans.

I hope you enjoy it. I did.

John Mattison
UNSCMC, Retired

      My Love;

I’m in Voi now, serving with Lieutenant Viljálmar and the men here who were stationed here when the Covenant attacked again. I was part of a convoy that was taking people outside of the city to a refugee camp. My Warthog, with the Lieutenant on it, was hit by a Banshee.

I was afraid. My body flew into the air, slamming against the hard, desert ground with force, my body crumpling with the blow. I lost breathe, trying to regain it as my vision became blacker, and blacker. All I could hear was a loud ringing, with more Banshees flying around the convoy, with rockets flying into the air and slamming into them. They exploded, a sheer brilliance of blue and white and orange, a dead Elite or Brute pilot would tumble occasionally, smacking into the ground. It was horrifying to hear those things scream when they were falling, coupled with the sounds of death coming from everywhere.

I mean everywhere, Randy. All around me was screams for help, or screams of anger, or screams of confusion. I was trying to stand, with plasma and bullets flying around the convoy, trying to avoid the plasma fire as the Banshees followed them. The convoy moved on without us, and we were stuck by ourselves now. My uniform was dusty, covered with sand, as I tried to walk. My legs were in pain, obviously from the explosion, but I continued on; I had a duty for these men and women, and I could not shake that.

The actual combat was now moving away, so it gave me time to get to Gautier. He was on the ground, crying, holding his leg.

It reminded me of that depressive, grey world with the wounded soldier who shot himself. At first.

I saw how he would shun his head away from the dead boy next to him, his face gaped and terrified. My mind clicked as he moved over to him and took a look at his leg; He couldn’t be crying about that.

I knew Lieutenant Gautier Viljálmar well enough to pick up on his mannerisms. He was tough, but fair; he was stern, but never going beyond a point. He was one of the few men who knew very well how to lead men into combat, and how to get them out safely. He was the commanding officer of Alpha Company, the ones who were leading the convoy after Captain Coogan was vaporized.

And I never saw him cry over a little boy.

He looked about…Nine? Ten sounds better to me, or it did, at least. Fact of the matter was, he died. And it looked like the Icelandic Lieutenant thought it was his fault. I could see it in his eyes, especially when I was going to wrap his leg. The boy was lifeless, like a ragdoll; his face looked like he saw a terrible, horrifying thing, and his eyes were scared. There's nothing I could do for him (He looked like he departed from this galaxy when he was hit by the Banshee), so I moved to Gauntier.

He became Jacob for a second, and all I saw was black.

He grabbed me by the throat, scaring me. I was worried he was on the verge of Feral Combat Syndrome, but I saw the look in his eyes, his grip lessening.

“Save. My. Men.” He spoke, quietly; I had to strain my ears to hear his words.

He was wounded, yes, but I have never seen that much of a heart torn asunder before in my entire career of a Corpsman. He was full of emotion in this one move, his hand around my neck, my face in surprise by this.

I know now that it was a very good thing that I didn’t report him to Command about that.

All day, before Gardner and the rest of the 3rd Medical Wing could arrive, I was helping people and trying to save them. Gautier and two other men were responsible for our safety, but you could easily tell they took their job seriously. When I was working on a patient, he was standing by, his leg wrapped, his Battle Rifle in his hand and looking for any sort of enemy to pop up.

As if it was a silent apology.

But the matter of fact stood; I’d have to report that Lieutenant Viljálmar suffered some sort of mental depressive attack that’s unfit for combat duty. This wasn’t the first time he was suffering from this; He lost half of his platoon two days prior to this convoy attack.

But I’m getting there too, Randy. Especially after these kinds of attacks.

I’ve lost it, Randy. I’ve lost my soul. I’ve lost whatever I had left of my humanity after seeing Lieutenant Viljálmar’s breakdown on the battlefield. But, I think I truly lost whatever I had left trying to protect his mental health by separating himself from his men. I’m throwing him away from E2-BAG like a cosmic castaway.

Am I evil, Randy? Am I truly that evil to do that to a man like Gauiter? Do I honestly have no soul left? I must of left it on the battlefield with Sergeant Halloway, whispering away his soul in the only honest and careful way, thinking of his daughter. I must be evil, Randy.

I need to hear what’s going on, on your end. Please write back, Randy. I can’t take much more of this combat without you.

Also; Your package was received. You need to write more, love. You have such a beautiful way of conveying thoughts into real, corporal things that I could touch. I can almost smell your husky scent, see the beautiful glow in your eyes, and just imagine you're there with me, Randy. But I read your letter.

I'm happy to know to know that you love me still, as I do.

I love you, Randy.