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ONI Sword Base
Posted By: Firerwolf<triss2008@yahoo.com>
Date: 11 September 2011, 3:56 am

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Sword Base, Babd Catha Ice Shelf, Eposz

July 26, 2552, 11:26 Hours

Shar shifted uncomfortably in the falcon. She didn't like being inactive, just sitting around. She stared out the side of the craft at the moon, still trying to hide down under the horizon. The large sphere was slightly shrouded in the light of the sun and the cloud cover around the distant mountains. It all looked so calm and peaceful, but Shar knew better. They were on their way to combat where there was no calm and peaceful, only noisy and dangerous.

Shar glanced around the, first at Jorge who was staring down, seeming to be a bit uneasy. As she understood, he was from Reach, or at least he felt he was. She was never sure if the Spartan IIs were actually from Reach, or just felt it was their home. Either way, she knew it was important to him anyway and he was obviously nervous. Shar turned her attention to Kat. The Lieutenant Commander slipped the data module into her datapad and got to work. Shar didn't know exactly what she was doing, but she was fairly certain she was accessing the data, by force if needed. Shar had nothing to do, and just sat there, DMR loosely in hand.

The radio crackled to life and the voice of Sword Control filled Shar's helmet. "Be advised, Kilo-three-three and Kilo-three-four, your current LZ is too hot."

Shar glanced toward the other falcon where Carter was. "Roger that. Dot, standby to receive and respond." He sounded moderately annoyed; likely he had to change their plans a bit, but he could easily adapt. Kat had told her that Carter could think quick on his feet, and that his plans were solid. So far Shar had to agree.

A sweet female voice filled Shar's ears though there was a slightly robotic tint to her voice that gave away that it was an AI. "Yes, Commander…coordinates received. Initiate immediate course correction." The AI had been assigned to give orders to Noble Team. Shar didn't really know what to think of her. She hadn't really worked with AI often, but she did have a bit of a like for dumb AI. Dot, as the AI was called, had been pleasant and helpful, so as a result Shar was sort of starting to like her. "The Office of Naval Intelligence Sword Base is presently under siege from a corvette-class Covenant vessel." Shar glanced out of the side of the falcon where she could see the deadly alien cruiser hanging in the air. She'd seen them so many times before, though she still remembered that first time. The first time they had been so frightening, but now she was cold to the sight of them. "Due to the sensitive nature of this facility, use of orbital rounds has been, for the moment, prohibited." Shar frowned at that news. ONI was always so protective, but how many people would die because they were afraid to risk anything? How many marines' blood would soak the ground to destroy that cruiser? "Regrettably, my efforts to obtain relevant data on enemy forces have been unsuccessful." Shar didn't mind the lack of information. She was used to working with limited information, as little as 'there are enemies and you have to kill them'. "However, current defensive forces are insufficient. ONI has requested Team Noble's direct intervention to help secure Sword base." So they already had soldiers trying to defend the base. How bad was it that Spartans needed to be called in?

The falcons turned quickly as they neared their objective and Sword base came into view. "All right people, we're stuck with that ship for the time being. Let's focus on the hostile infantry—give those troopers a hand." Now that was something that Shar could get behind. She liked helping to lessen the amount of casualties.

The falcons swooped in over the courtyard and Shar spotted the troopers trying to fight back elites and jackals. Damn, this wasn't going to be too easy. She was snapped back to the task at hand. "Kat, Six—you're out here. Jorge, Emile—you're next, get prepped."

Shar looked to Kat, who prepared her pistol and readied to jump out. "Let's move, Lieutenant." Shar readied her DMR and in one fluid motion both Kat and Shar leapt from the falcon as it made a quick pass. They hit the ground and Shar glanced back to see their falcon already rising quickly away. Shar turned her attention back to the battle that lay ahead of her. She was ready for the fight, ready to remove the Covenant once more from human land. She felt the blood heat up in her veins and felt her heart start to beat a bit faster. The adrenaline was now pumping, and it wouldn't until every last Covenant was dead and that corvette was blown out of the sky.

Kat moved ahead as Shar lifted her DMR. The Lieutenant Commander crouched down as she moved forward. "Kat, Six: Push back the attack on Sword Base, find out what we're dealing with." Seemed reasonable. Mission: Find out what forces there were and take them out. That was the kind of mission Shar liked.

"Roger that, we're your strike team," Kat said. Shar took aim as a group of four grunts moved around concrete barriers. She took down the first three easily with headshots but the fourth turned to run. She shot it once in the back, causing it to falter and giving her the perfect chance to put a round through its head.

Sword Control once more echoed through her radio. "Spartans, hostiles north." Shar moved into action. She moved up the west side ramp to have a higher point of view on her enemies and hopefully more cover.

Kat swapped out to her battle rifle, ready for a longer distance fight. "Let's knock some heads, Lieutenant!" Her voice was eager and a smile tugged at her lips. The two Spartans looked at each other for a fraction of a second, not long enough that anyone else would notice and exchanged unspoken words.

Let's knock some heads. The words echoed through Beta Company training, though it had been more often used by the female Spartans. They always used it when they were being set in missions against washed-out Alpha Company Spartans. It was a Beta way of them declaring that they would win, and prove that they were better than any Spartans before them. Shar supposed it was perfect for the situation. It was just the two of them, two female Beta Spartans, and they'd show the male Alpha Spartans, and the Spartan II, what Beta Company was made of.

Kat fell into line a bit behind Shar as she moved up the ramp. Shar reached the top and looked along the distance of the catwalk that lined the side of the base. There was only a single jackal with its back turned to her. With how they walked, Shar had to shoot it once in the back in order to get it to turn enough for her to shoot it again, the round punching through the bird-like alien's throat. There was a blast near Shar and her shields lowered slightly, enough to get her attention. She moved under a solid awning that led to the bridge connecting the West and East catwalks. The phantom passed overhead, moving to the most northern part of the catwalk.

Shar turned her attention to the troops already on the ground, as the phantom was no longer in a position it could fire on her. She did as she'd been trained to do and targeted the elites first. She spotted an officer surrounded by a group of jackals. They were taking cover behind a set of four deployable shields that had been set up in a semi-circle. She'd just gotten its shields down when a second officer moved up the side ramp and appeared right before her. Kat opened fire and the elite's shields flared. Shar tossed a grenade toward the enemy and it detonated behind the alien, weakening the shields further until Shar shot it once, dropping the shields. One last time put a round through its forehead.

Shar moved toward the ramp where a jackal was moving up to try to get away from the fire of the troopers. Shar shot it once, hitting in the shoulder, but it spun around putting the round shield between the Spartan and jackal. Shar moved forward, slamming the butt of her gun into the shield, overloading it and causing it to shut down. She then leveled her rifle and fired and it fell.

"You've got enemy contacts, Spartans." The words of Sword Control pulled Shar back to the troops below. She moved back to where she had been and spotted the brilliant white armor of an ultra elite. She opened fire, being careful to keep the shots centered on the alien's head as best she could as it would lower the shield faster. She had to duck behind cover a few times as the jackals and grunts tried to fire on them and disrupted her from her target. Finally she saw the familiar pop of the energy shield go down and after quickly swapping out her empty clip for a new one, Shar took aim and put a bullet through the ultra's skull. The remaining minor and officer elite backpedaled to cover.

Shar moved a bit down the catwalk toward her target and saw the officer trying to crouch behind one of the concrete barriers. It was a bit silly as the alien was too large and stood out a foot over the cover even when fully crouched. She had fired a few shots, causing the officer to move to better cover, when plasma hit her from the left. She turned and found the minor elite running toward her. Shar opened fire. The first five shots took down the shield and the final shot tore through the alien's stomach and it fell. Shar quickly moved down the ramp to a jackal. The alien was stunned for a moment, until Shar's elbow hit its skull, caving it in.

The officer elite finally jumped out of cover, giving Shar a chance to attack. Unfortunately she'd exhausted her clip and had to reload. The elite was just about to fire when Kat came in from Shar's right, firing and causing the elite to move to cover once more. Shar took the chance to reload. Once she had a full clip she moved forward, spotting a couple of jackals. With ease, she slipped into the foot then head combo, killing both of the enemies. She then turned her attention to the elite. She moved around the collection of items the Covenant had been using as cover and found the officer, still being fired on by Kat. Shar only had to fire once before the shield dropped. The elite charged forward, too fast for Shar to aim and she instead instinctively stuck out, punching the alien in the throat, crushing its wind pipe. She turned to her left and found a single jackal slowly moving, as though it didn't know what to do. She shot its foot and it cried out in pain, giving Shar the chance to slam her fist into its chest, killing it. Shar inwardly cursed. She was out of DMR ammunition and had to switch out to her battle rifle.

Kat and Shar started to make their way down the northern ramp which led to a large set of doors when four skirmishers appeared. Shar opened fire with her rifle, cutting down the first one easily. She set her sights on the next one, exhausting her clip into its chest until it fell. The last two were standing side by side at the bottom of the ramp and Shar raced forward, quickly grabbing the opposite sides of each of the skirmisher's skulls and slamming them together.

"All clear." At Kat's words Shar took a moment to wipe the blood and bits of brain from her hands, and reload her rifle. "Noble Two to Sword Control: courtyard is clear, over." Shar continued to move down the ramp and quickly jumped over the concrete barriers that separated her from the familiar metal and cautionary lines of yellow and black. Something felt secure about how it reminded her of a UNSC ships. Metal walls, floor, and ceiling, cautionary lines, and as she could see it, a trio of ordnance packs.

"Head to the main gate to the east, I'll brief you as you go." Shar nearly snorted at Sword Controls' command. She was already there, and Kat was right behind her. Shar moved straight to the ordnance packs, eager to see what they might be. She stopped when she spotted a slightly unfamiliar device. It wasn't that she hadn't seen it, just that she didn't see it often.

Apparently Kat had a similar feeling. "Sword Control, I see a Target Locator. Any artillery support in the area?" Shar glanced back at the Lieutenant Commander and Kat nodded that she could have it. Shar quickly grabbed full DMR ammunition from one crate and dropped her battle rifle to grab the target locater. She remembered being taught about these back in training, though they'd been told it was unlikely they would really get to use them.

"Limited, but we'll prioritize whatever you need, ma'am." Shar grinned at the words from Control. That meant that it would actually work. She couldn't wait to find something to unleash hell on.

Shar moved forward but stopped as she reached the final pack. She could hear the large metal doors opening before her but she had eyes only for the equipment before her. She quickly grabbed the device and worked on hooking it up. All Spartans had been taught the quick and easy instillation and it only took her a second. Sadly she wouldn't be able to access the safety overrides that Kat had built into her suit which allowed her to run for short distances quickly. It was worth it, though, as she loved this equipment.

Shar moved out of the structure and into the clear night and sandy brown grass. She wondered if that grass was dead, or if that was just the natural color. She was pulled out of her thoughts as a slightly worried voice came over the COM. "3 Echo 57 heading back to base, but we got enemy tangos on our six. How copy?"

Shar spotted the burning warthog and wondered how the driver could see anything with how damaged his vehicle was. That was when she spotted the shot coming from the south, in front of the troopers. Without thinking Shar took aim with the target locater. By the time she'd tagged the wraith she looked to the warthog and found it tumbling to a stop, a burning wreck. Shar watched as the fire started to fall and the first wraith was destroyed. The second slid, trying to get an angle on the troopers, but moved into the blast radius, destroying both vehicles. She'd heard it said that eye for an eye leaves us all blind, but two wraith tanks and the four aliens on board seemed like worth it to make up for the two marines who had just been killed.

Shar swapped out to her DMR and took aim on a minor elite that was running toward her with a trio of grunts. Four good shots and its shields were down. Two shots to the chest and it tumbled back, lifeless. The grunts pulled out grenades, ready to go suicidal but with a few quick shots they were down. The armed grenades soared into the air and landing nearby, detonating far away from the human soldiers.

"Pelican inbound with transport, Six." Shar looked up to the sky as the pelican eased in, dropping down a Warthog, gunner already hanging on tight to the rear turret. Shar moved to the driver's side and jumped in, looking over the controls quickly until Kat got into the passenger's seat.

"The old Farragut Station has its own comms array, that should bring us back online with command. Airview Base has an anti-air-battery that will help clear the skies," Sword Control informed them.

"AA-gun is to the west, comms array to the east. Let's roll." Kat eased back in her seat, scanning the area for danger. Shar turned the car and headed toward the west. Kat nodded. "I agree, go for the gun."

The warthog bounced over the landscape. They reached the top of the hill to see three grunts and two ghosts waiting for them. Shar grumbled; she didn't have time for this. Rather than sit around and wait for the gunner to be able to kill them, she gunned it. The warthog crashed into a ghost causing the metal to dent and the controls to spark. The fire that erupted from it was enough to send the pilot grunt flying from the seat. Shar moved out of their view and the ghosts seemed not to want to give chase.

"I'm picking up a power source. We're close to the AA gun." Kat gripped her rifle a bit tighter and was at the ready.

The warthog moved over the next hill and Shar caught sight of the gun. There were two other structures nearby it, but what caught her eye was slight movement. Covenant. She sped forward, crossing a small shallow lake and making a pass of the gun to give the gunner a chance to take out some grunts. An elite darted out toward her and Shar turned, trying to get out of the way, but the warthog bounced and flipped. The three occupants were thrown clear of the vehicle. Shar quickly forced herself to get up from where she'd fallen, DMR at the ready, and she took aim at the officer elite who had caused her to crash. She prepared to fire but found herself being assaulted by a minor who moved out from behind the gun. She quickly dispatched the minor while the trooper pulled himself together and, with combined fire from Kat, took out the officer. There was a group of three grunts standing at the entry way to one of the structures and Shar opened fire, felling them with headshots. She noticed a marked enemy above her on her motion tracker and prepared for whatever it was.

Shar moved out of the side door and up the stairs toward whatever was on the roof. She found herself faced with an ultra elite. It swung and the alien's concussion rifle hit her, but not without her own fist hitting the side of the elite's face. They both backed away from each other but Shar was quicker to fire, taking down the elite's shields and shooting it in the head. She quickly activated the AA gun and moved over to a box of DMR ammunition to stock up. The Gun opened fire on a nearby phantom and Shar jumped down from the roof, quickly dispatching the grunts who were still standing around, who were not exactly sure what to do with no leader. That was when she spotted the shadow.

The AA gun had turned and was firing on a spirit dropship which had come in over the rocky walls around them. Shar watched as the sides opened and four grunts with two special operations elites dropped out. Shar moved around the gun and took aim. She opened fire on the special operation elites who tried to move to cover behind the warthog. Shar vaguely wondered who had flipped it back over. What the elites weren't counting on was Kat to get on the gun. She opened fire and cut down the shields of one elite, allowing Shar to shoot through its dome helmet. Kat then got off of the hog as the second elite tried to move around and attack her. Shar took a quick moment to dispatch the grunts, killing each with a swift shot to the head. After all, grunts were made to be shot in the head.

Shar looked over to see the special-ops elite manning the gun on the warthog. It released it though as Kat had moved close enough to the vehicle that it couldn't shoot at her. Shar ran in and with some helping fire from Kat dropped the elite's shieldn giving Shar an opening to shoot it through the throat.

Kat got back onto the Warthog's gun. "Neutralize those vehicles, now."

Shar tuned, having not actually realized that there were any vehicles, but she spotted them soon enough. Two ghosts piloted by grunts. Kat drew their fire while Shar ran forward. One of them broke off and moved directly toward Shar. The next few seconds were pure instinct. She dropped her DMR and grabbed a plasma pistol, quickly charging it up. The ghost moved past her and she fired. A ball of brilliant green light hit the ghost and sparks of blue electricity ran over it as the vehicle lost power. Without hesitation Shar ran forward, grabbing onto the vehicle. She climbed up on the hood and kicked, her foot connecting with the skull of the grunt. It went flying and with ease and practice Shar jumped, turning in air and landed perfectly in the pilot's seat. She turned to face the second ghost and opened fire just as the grunt did. The two ghosts charged forward, but Shar's was in better shape. As they hit, bits and pieces flew from the enemy ghost, including its pilot. Shar abandoned her own ghost as the trooper shouted that they were clear.

She then quickly moved back, dropping the plasma pistol to retrieve her DMR. It felt good to have human weaponry in her hand again. "Nice work, Spartans. Get to Farrgut Station and get that comms array up and running." Sword Control was really starting to get on Shar's nerves. She knew what she was supposed to do. What they'd been told wasn't an either or, it was a which one first.

Shar moved to their hog and frowned as she looked at the beat up vehicle. It might not last them long if they came under bad fire. She glanced over to her left and saw the pelican dropping in. "Spartans, this is Sword Control. Thought you could use some mobile firepower." Sword Control must have been able to read Shar's thoughts, because at the sight of the new hog Shar felt less like hating them.

"Always. Take that hog, Six." Kat ran toward the hog along with Shar. Once more Shar got into the driver's seat and Kat in the passenger's. There was already an eager marine manning the gun. The warthog roared to life as Shar moved over the landscape. She moved down a hill to where two ghosts were waiting. Once more she simply passed them by, braking hard as she made a sharp turn. There was a spirit dropping in and she was trying to avoid being hit by it.

She managed to point in the right direction and moved up the hill. At the top she found a set of structures. If seen from above they would look like two parts of a circle. They looked so old, yet she knew there was working comms in there. She supposed it was a good place to hide tech, no one would expect it.

Shar moved along a ridge to the west of the buildings and got out. She heard a sound, one she hadn't heard in a while. "Let's search the area for a generator switch." The Spartan IIIs jumped out of the hog and moved up onto a pile of rocks to look down. The revenant hovered below, looking for a target. Shar switched out to her target locater and took aim. She tagged the front of the revenant and waited. Fire fell from the sky but there was a distinct movement behind it. How had the revenant survived, it wasn't anywhere near where the shots had fallen now. Shar took aim again, this time tagging the side fin of the revenant. She swapped out to her DMR and opened fire to try to keep it distracted long enough that it would hold still.

Shar moved along the ridge and caught sight of Covenant forces. She'd clear out as many as she could before she moved in. She opened fire and quickly took out the two sniper jackals and a group of grunts that were walking about. She spotted a minor elite move into the structure but she couldn't get a good angle. That was when she saw the officer come up. She fired fast and steady, taking out its shields and neutralizing it fast. Shar moved along the back of the southern structure and took out several grunts quickly before trying to make her way around a large rock to the minor elite she knew was hiding there. She had just killed it when a second one appeared which she put down just as quickly.

"There it is." Kat had spotted it through the window and Shar moved in. She found a large lever and quickly pulled it. The generators hummed to life and steam poured from them. At least they had power. "Okay, generators up and running. Find that comms array, should be up high." Shar looked back at Kat and she looked away. Shar smiled slightly to herself. It had been a long time since she'd heard Kat give orders, and how things had gone the last time they'd been on a mission together, Shar had never expected her to give orders again. Rather than poke fun at her or be upset Shar just nodded and moved out of the structure. She looked across the way and realized that the other building was taller. That would be where it was.

She moved out to the edge of building where she saw a sniper rifle leaning up against a poorly-constructed wall. She was never so thankful that the Covenant refused to touch human weapons. She spotted the spirit dropping in and prepared herself. The sides opened and skirmishers poured from the left side. Shar took aim and fired, dispatching three of them with headshots right away before scanning the area. She killed one more on the ground and spotted one jumping up, which she shot as soon as it landed. Really their skill at jumping was impressive. The alien had jumped at least two stories. She scanned the area, waiting for any more to jump up, but instead found a grunt moving up the stairs. She shot and its brains went flying.

Shar heard noise to her left. "I'm engaging." Kat opened fire, shooting down. Shar moved to her side and stopped the skirmisher below. At this distance, battle rifles weren't very useful. Shar almost make a crack about how she should use the pistol but didn't. That was still a bit of a touchy subject, and if she did it would give away who she was, and she wasn't sure if she wanted to give Kat any hints. Instead Shar fired, killing the alien with a headshot before returning her attention to the roof across from them where a grunt now stood, seeming to not understand what had killed its comrade. Shar fired and it fell, brains splattered behind it. She did a quick sweep before she dropped her DMR and grabbed the sniper rifle. She really did love them.

Shar quickly moved across and made her way up the stairs of the north building. There was nothing on the first level but as she reached the top of the stairs to the second level she found a completely unaware grunt. She moved up behind it. One hand grabbed the back of its head, the other the mask on its front, and she twisted quickly, hearing that satisfying snap and the body fell to the ground. Damn that felt good.

Shar made her way up the last set of stairs to the roof where she found her objective. She hit a few buttons on the controls and a high pitched sound filled the air as the comms came on line. Shar moved down the stairs to make her way back to where Kat was.

"You did it Six, comms array up and running." Kat was still across the way, establishing a connection with command. Shar in the meantime passed a window and caught a glimpse of something inside. She moved around the wall and through the doorway to find a fallen marine, rocket launcher at his feet. Just what she wanted. She quickly grabbed it and dropped her target locater.

She was just moving out of the room when Carter's voice filled her ear. "Noble Strike, this is Noble Leader. Get back to Sword Base ASAP." He sounded like he was occupied with something else, though he was trying to give them his full attention while he gave orders.

Shar spotted the pelican that was moving in and she moved toward it. She jumped down from the second story onto some rocks and then to the ground. "On our way, Commander. Six, let's go." Once more Shar thought of making a joke or tease, but she wouldn't dare. She felt more at ease, knowing that Kat was the same gutsy strong willed fighter that she had been back during training, just with a better leader, rather than the lost and injured woman she'd seen before they split up during CARTWHEEL.

The pelican dropped a hog and this time Shar forced the marine to get off of the back. Kat took the wheel while the marine got in the passenger seat. Shar grabbed the gun, her favorite form of hog gun, the gauss cannon. "Good work, Spartans. Return to Sword Base, the rest of your team is inbound, imminent." The words from Sword Control made Shar wonder. What had the Alpha Spartans been up to while they were doing all of this? The warthog moved over the land and as they passed along a stone road beside the water a revenant appeared. Shar fired three times and the vehicle was down. Why didn't they have gauss cannons that could be used by soldiers on the ground, without a hog?

Carter's voice cut her off from wondering more. "Noble, be advised: Covenant corvette moving into position. Kat, Six, get here quick. We need you inside." Kat floored the vehicle and they sped around a turn and up a hill. Shar grinned at the Lieutenant Commander's sudden enthusiasm. That was the spirit she liked.

They crested the top of the hill and Shar spotted their enemies. She fired at a ghost but the angle was wrong and it bounced off the ground. The second shot got it. She fired at a minor and it was a miracle that his body stayed in one piece as he went flying. Kat drove forward and Shar caught sight of a revenant. She opened fire and after a few careful shots it was down, gone up in a ball of blue and purple fire. The second revenant started to flee and Shar had hit it twice when a more imminent threat arrived, an officer elite. She swung the gun around and the round tore through the elite's chest. Shar turned just in time to see the revenant trying to make a run for them. She fired and it exploded into brilliant fire.

Kat drove the hog up to the gate and Shar got out. She hit the controls and the large metal doors opened. Shar moved back to the warthog and just as she settled into the driver's seat she heard Jun's voice, sounding a bit annoyed. "We're stalled in the tower atrium. Kat, where are you?"

"Opening the gate now." Shar moved the warthog through the gate and toward whatever may be ahead.

Shar could only take the gauss hog to the other side of the gate. There, a full line of concrete barriers stood in her way. That was far enough for her, though. She stopped the vehicle and the glimmer of orange officer armor appeared in the side of her vision. She moved to the back of the cannon and opened fire. The first round found the center of the elite and it went flying. Still, grunts and jackals poured down the ramp after it. Shar wasn't sure how many there were, as one round would tear through one grunt and kill the one behind it. She fired at any movement until there was none.

Shar jumped from the back of the warthog and moved after Kat who was already halfway up. Shar moved up the left side and jumped up onto the stone barrier that covered that side. She made her way almost to the top when she saw grunt moving with its back turned to her. With no desire to waste rocket or sniper ammunition on the grunt she dropped down and ran toward it. She moved along behind a shield and the grunt turned to head back, giving her the perfect chance. The grunt didn't see the butt of the sniper rifle coming, but the minor elite that was to Shar's right did. It opened fire and Shar moved behind cover. Kat and a female marine soon joined them. They opened fire and Shar moved around the right. She moved around the elite's cover where it was crouching, but it spotted her. She ran forward and it tried to move away so it could fire. Shar didn't give it a chance, slamming the butt of her gun into its chest. This downed its shields. The elite roared in anger and Shar took her chance. With ease and practice, she moved behind the elite and pulled out her knife. Before it could react, Shar was on the elite's back, knife securely in her right hand. Her left hand gripped tight to the elite's body armor and she pushed off of the elite's leg, getting some height before she stabbed down. The blade sank into the elite's throat and it let out a gurgle before its legs gave out. Shar pulled her blade free and moved away.

It was then that she spotted a bigger threat. The familiar green glow of hunters were down below, inside of the base. She zoomed in with her sniper rifle and took aim at the exposed worms of the hunter's back. She took two shots before it turned toward her to fight back. She dodged one blast, but the beast left its neck exposed enough that a third round tore through the worms there and it fell. Shar turned her attention to the second hunter, once more taking aim at the exposed back. She had let off two shots when the hunter quickly moved. Her next two shots missed by only centimeters and she cursed as she swapped out her mag. She took aim again, the hunter distracted by a pair of marines trying to take cover from it. The next two shots found the hunter's back and it fell into a heap of armor and dead eel aliens. She used her last two rounds to take out a pair of grunts that were walking about. Shar was contemplating using her rocket launcher when she spotted a familiar sight up above. She moved up the side ramp to the area above the garage and she found a sniper rifle leaning up against the wall. She quickly grabbed it and all the ammunition that was there with it. She then jumped back down to where Kat and the marine were waiting for her. Shar readied her rocket launcher and the officer that was waiting moved out.

Shar fired once, the elite rolling out of the way, but her second shot hit the ground at the elite's feet, sending it flying. "Let's get to the atrium. We have to go through the elevator, Lieutenant. Take it." Shar moved forward as she reloaded her rocket launcher. They moved into the elevator and Shar hit the controls to go down.

"Corvette's hitting this base hard." Emile seemed unsettled. Likely he just wasn't a fan of not being able to do anything.

Kat shook her head unhappily. "Where's our orbital support? Got to be four platforms that can take it out with a single MAC round." Shar had to agree. Where was the support they needed? They needed that cruiser gone.

The door to the elevator slid open and a prerecorded voice fluttered down from the speakers above. "Welcome to the Office of Naval Intelligence. An ONI representative will meet you shortly."

"I doubt that very much," Kat muttered.

Shar moved in and spotted an officer elite at the end of the hallway. She fired with the rocket launcher and the elite dodged, causing it to detonate on the wall behind it. Shar aimed again, this time hitting a small incline toward where the elite stood. The blast was enough and the elite went flying. Shar quickly dropped the empty rocket launcher for a battle rifle and moved to the right side. Three grunts were running toward her, plasma grenades in hand. She fired, cutting down the first one, which caused its grenades to fly into the air. They hit the ground and detonated, killing the other two.

Shar moved along the illuminated walkway and the voice once more echoed in the hallway. "Thank you, Lieutenant. You have been cleared for access." Shar wondered how it knew who she was, or why it had cleared her rather than Kat.

Shar moved to the end of the security office where a door started to slid open for them. "Getting close." Jun sounded worried, at least it meant that they were close to the team. Noble Comms had connected to them as soon as the door had started to open. The parts of the door slipped open and Shar moved into the atrium.

"Taking enemy fire." Jorge was firing steadily toward an elite who was darting back and forward about halfway down the atrium while four jackals stood between them. Shar tossed two plasma grenades, each landing between the feet of the jackals, sending them all flying. Shar then opened fire on the minor elite.

"Six, head upstairs and assist Emile. Jorge, make sure she gets there," Carter ordered.

"Count on it." Jorge nodded to his leader. Shar took off at a full run, the three other members of Noble team falling into line behind her. She moved up a side ramp to where a marine was firing on some jackal snipers.

Shar moved across the bridge up to the next level, where she spotted a grunt going through a doorway. She opened fire and it fell, but she caught sight of three more grunts moving toward her. She tossed a frag grenade but it bounced between them, and she was still too close. She then remembered that she had her soul mate. Shar fell to one knee, her fist punching down to the ground and the heavy ultra shield of her beloved armor lock snapped on as the grenade went off. One grunt ran, but the other two were sent into the air by the blast. Shar snapped off her armor lock and spun, slamming her rifle into the third grunt's head and killing it. Plasma flew past her side and she turned to find a single grunt standing in another doorway. Shar opened fire and the grunt quickly fell. She then turned her attention to moving forward.

"Corvette's gonna eat this base apart. What's the situation, Noble?" Sword Control was actually starting to sound nervous.

"Can't do this on my own! Need another Spartan up here!" Emile let out a grunt of frustration and Shar wondered exactly what he was doing up there.

She ran into the next room and spotted an officer elite at the end of the hallway leading to the next bridge up. She tossed a frag grenade but it detonated, taking down only the elite's shield. Shar then tossed a plasma grenade. By some luck it suck to the leg of the elite and it tried to charge, only making it half way down the hallway before the sticky explosive detonated, killing it.

"Six, get to the top floor and assist Emile." Shar wanted to make some comment back, tell him that she was working on it, but she didn't feel comfortable enough to actually do such a thing.

Shar moved on to the bridge, where yet another officer appeared with two sniper jackals on its heels. Shar tossed a second plasma grenade, and this time it made a long arc and she just barely caught sight of the blue glowing ball sticking to the helmet of the officer before it detonated. Definitely one of her best throws. Shar ran forward, battle rifle blazing, and without much real armor the sniper jackals were cut down easily.

She moved around to where a group of marines were firing on grunts across the way and quickly swapped out her battle rifle for a DMR. She collected one more marine before she moved to the next engagement. She rounded a corner to find a jackal being fired on by a pair of marines. She opened fire, quickly knocking the jackal back and taking it down with two shots. She then turned to her left where an officer was firing. Six shots and its shields were down, the elite backpedaling to get away, but the seventh shot tore through its skull as it reached the top of the stairs. Still two jackals stood at the top of the stairs ready for combat. She used the toe head method on the first but the second backed up enough that she had to shoot it in the foot and slam the butt of her gun into its skull to kill it. Two more jackals appeared to her left, red shields flaring. Shar tossed a grenade and it landed between them. The jackals moved far enough forward that it detonated.

Shar quickly cleared out the break room of the three grunts who seemed not really prepared for her when she went charging in. Three quick shots and they were down, allowing Shar to focus on getting across the final bridge. She was just about to cross when she noticed something out of the corner of her eye, a general elite. She decided to take care of him at a long range, opening fire with her sniper rifle. She got off three rounds, taking out its shields before it returned fire, causing her to have to move back to cover for a moment. Once the shots from the concussion rifle had stopped, Shar took aim, placing the final round through the elite's skull.

She then made her way across the bridge where Jorge was already waiting for her. The lights had been knocked out and screens had fallen to the floor. The area looked like a disaster zone. Shar moved along the hallway toward her final destination and the building shook under her.

"Commander, this base won't survive another salvo from that corvette. Kill those banshees." Sword Control sounded impatient and Shar had never wanted to slap him more. It wasn't like this was easy work all the time. She dropped her DMR and grabbed a nearby rocket launcher, ready to assist.

She made her way through the doorway to find two jackals, one with a blue shield and one with a red. One well-placed grenade between them took out both enemies. This area was a true disaster zone. The corvette had blasted a hole in the side of the base and banshee fliers milled about outside.

"About time." Emile sounded annoyed, but also relieved at the same time. Shar immediately started to take aim at the banshees, allowing her rocket launcher to lock on before firing. She'd taken out one when a phantom appeared, its turret causing her to have to move into cover. She pulled out her sniper rifle ready for whatever it would drop, but she saw nothing.

Shar instead focused her attention on the phantom itself. Three rockets across its bow and the transport blew into little bits, which made Shar as happy as a school girl on the inside. She took out another banshee with her final rocket. She fired two more rockets, taking out two more banshees, and Emile took out the final one. Shar stood at the edge of the gaping hole, looking out at the corvette still hanging in the air.

"That's the way we get it done, Spartan!" Emile shouted in relief.

"Noble Team, Longswords are inbound and ready to push. Orbital defense is standing by to take the shot." Shar was never so happy to hear Sword Control say anything so far that day.

A pair of the sleek ships zoomed overhead in pursuit of the corvette. Shar glanced to the left where she saw Emile drop his rocket launcher before jumping down. She turned her full attention to the corvette and the two much smaller ships flying after it. They'd gotten a good distance away before the longswords banked to the right and moved away from the alien craft. A second later a shot fell from the sky, hitting the corvette amidships before it hit the water below. Shar watched the corvette start to fall toward the planet.

"Beautiful, ain't it." Shar turned to look over to Jorge as he came up on her right. "Someone should take a picture." Shar had to agree. It was almost beautiful, and she'd have to say it would look good on a pro-UNSC poster. The Spartan II moved up to her side and placed an arm on her shoulder. "Nice work by the way."

Shar shrugged. "I aim to please." Her voice almost felt foreign in her own mouth. Had it been that long since she'd spoken? She hadn't had need to. She let the discomfort slip away as it always did after long bouts of silence.

The two were staring at the still burning corvette when Carter came over the radio. "Five, Six, get down to the science wing. Doctor Halsey wants a debrief and command's saying we're all hers."

Jorge turned so that his back was facing Shar, tapping his fingers against the side of his helmet. "Repeat, sounded like you said Halsey." The reaction was odd to Shar. Who was this woman, and how did Jorge know her?

"I did." Carter didn't sound as happy about the news. More along the lines of frustrated.

"Copy that, on our way." Jorge turned off his radio and Shar tuned to follow the larger Spartan. "Don't need command to tell me. Been all hers half me life." Shar walked alongside the larger Spartan not understanding what exactly he was talking about.

Shar and Jorge made their way to the science wing where the rest of Noble was already gathered. Jun and Emile stood to one side while Carter stood only inches away from a blue-tinted wall of solid blast-proof glass. Kat stood a bit back to Carter's left, and glanced over at the pair as they entered.

A rather agitated female voice echoed through the room, likely being transmitted by a radio so that they could hear the woman standing on the other side of the glass. "I requested your assistance, Commander and do not need a report on events that occur on my own doorstep." Shar already didn't like the tone that this woman was taking with Carter. She acted like she was an admiral talking to a private. "What I do require is a detailed account of your previous engagement—" The woman stopped, looking past Carter to Shar and Jorge. Shar could now see the woman clearly. She looked like she was in her middle years of life, though Shar couldn't be quite sure with the odd tint caused by the glass. She wore a heavy winter coat, short ear-length hair, and Shar could see the wrinkles that were forming on the woman's face. "Jorge, it's been too long."

Jorge removed his helmet and nodded to the woman. "Ma'am." The word was quiet and respectful.

"What have you done with my armor?" Halsey sounded annoyed by the idea of Jorge's upgrades to his suit.

"Just some…additions I've made." Shar could almost swear that he sounded like a child trying to justify the reason why he's painted flames on the side of his new red wagon. It was odd to hear a seven-foot-tall killing machine sound like a child at all, let alone one that had to justify himself.

"Indeed." Halsey seemed to brush it off, turning her attention back to Carter. "Visegrad Relay. Its data center was home to one of my xeno-archaeologists, Professor Laszlo Sorvad. Perhaps you could shed some light on his death." There was no emotion to Halsey's voice, just the cold voice of a woman who wanted to get to the point and fast. It felt odd to Shar that a gentle man like Jorge would have any connection to a woman like this who showed no remorse over a fallen collogue.

Carter replied with just as formal of a tone. "If he was a civilian male in his mid-sixties, he died with a Covenant energy sword to his abdomen."

"Elites then." Halsey seemed intrigued, like they'd finally gotten her attention.

"They engaged us as well. It was just, uh, just after we found your scientist's daughter, ma'am." Jorge seemed nervous as he spoke, and hesitant to speak again of the girl they'd found. He was shifting nervously and Jun and Emile shared a glance. Shar actually felt a bit left out. "She was hiding in the—"

Halsey cut Jorge off and the Spartan seemed surprised. "Irrelevant." The word was so cold. How easily she tossed aside someone who had lost her family seemed a bit odd to Shar. Then again, she was section 3 and they weren't known for having hearts. "The elites, tell me more about them." She was fully focused on the leadership aliens.

Jorge snapped back into a soldier attitude. His words were confident and clear. "Three, zealot class. One got by us. The leader, from the looks of him."

"Zealot? You're certain?" This news seemed to excite and worry the doctor all at once.

"Their armor configuration matched," Jorge answered.

"Shield strength, too." Shar felt odd talking in front of the woman but at the moment it felt more like Halsey was treating Jorge as though he were the only soldier in the room.

"I gave the order not to pursue." Carter snapped Halsey's attention back to him, reminding her that he was the one in charge. "Our primary objective was to get the station's relay back online."

"Your primary objective? Commander are you a puppet or a Spartan?" The words were scolding and the team looked surprised by such a comment. Emile and Jun looked at the woman, not understanding why she was taking such a tone. Shar noticed a slight twitch in Kat's expression, showing her anger at the woman daring to ask such a thing. None of them seemed pleased to hear a civilian taking a tone like that with their leader. Shar herself felt a bit of resentment toward it. Carter had been a good leader, and she'd agreed with his decisions at the relay station.

"Ma'am?" Carter let his displeasure seep into the word.

Doctor Halsey ignored all of this, going on as though she hadn't just created a room full of unhappy Spartans. "There are those at ONI, myself included, who believe the Covenant dispatch elite advance teams to hunt down artifacts of value to their religion." Shar had never heard this information before, though ONI did keep things to themselves. "Survivor accounts suggest such teams are small, nimble, and almost always zealot-class. No doubt they came to the station for the abundance of ONI excavation data sorted there." The woman's tone became harsher, as though the next words placed full blame on the Commander for whatever might happened. "And you let them get away."

Carter didn't hide that he didn't like blame being put on him, particularly for information he didn't have. "Data retrieval was not a command directive. Even had we known, we had other, more urgent matters to attend to."

"Like warning the planet," Kat muttered. Carter glanced toward her and seemed to relax a bit as he realized his team agreed with him.

Halsey took a step over toward an item transfer container before turning back to Carter. "Professor Sorvad's final entry in the field notes made reference to 'a latchkey discovery.'" At this Halsey looked down a bit. "Latchkey…not a word he would use lightly." The words had an undertone of frustration and slight agitation. It suddenly turned lighter, as though she had the upper hand once more. "So let's hope the data module your Lieutenant Commander stole contains it." She looked toward Kat.

Kat looked to the side and down as though trying to hide from the facts. "Kat?" Carter turned to her but his tone let on that he was used to this kind of thing happening.

Kat shifted her helmet to under her left arm and Halsey spoke. "Before you ask, I was alerted the moment you attempted to access its contents, as I am with any unauthorized tap." Halsey slid the container forward through the glass. Kat moved forward and dropped the data module in the container. Shar could see Kat staring at the woman, not willing to back down. She didn't look intimidated or beaten, just like it wasn't a big deal.

Halsey returned the gaze. "That data is classified Tier One." Halsey pulled the container back toward her. "I could send you to the brig for interfering with my work."

Whether out of loyalty, agitation, or just not liking his soldiers being threatened, Carter stepped forward, his voice starting out stern. "Maybe you'd like to join her." Kat looked over at him, seeming to be surprised by the anger that slightly tinted his voice.

"I'm sorry?" Doctor Halsey sounded surprised that anyone would dare threaten her.

Carter's voice calmed once more, the reaction for Halsey having given him the upper hand. "We're currently under emergency planetary directive, WINTER CONTINGENCY. I'm sure you're familiar with the punishment for civilian interference with a Spartan deployment." Shar suddenly understood why the anger was gone. He didn't need it, he had logic and orders backing him and Halsey couldn't fight those.

"Are you threatening me, Commander?" She sounded surprised that anyone would dare make such a threat to her and all the more annoyed since she couldn't fight it.

Carter's voice was light and causal as he replied. "Just making a reading suggestion, ma'am." Carter turned and started to walk out of the room, Kat falling into line behind him. "Let's move, Noble Team." Carter and Kat moved out before Jun and Emile fell into line behind them.

Jorge hesitated for a moment. "Ma'am."

Halsey wasn't paying full attention. She was examining the module for any damage or problems. "That…will be all, Jorge." Her voice was distant, as though she wasn't really putting any thoughts into the words.

Shar turned and moved out of the room, Jorge following behind her.