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Team Katana - Chapter 1
Posted By: Gilver<RyBond007@hotmail.com>
Date: 31 December 2010, 8:57 pm

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Vergil raised his left hand in a fist, signaling his squad to halt. Crouched amid the underbrush of the jungle, wearing their Mark II Semi-Powered Infiltration armor, Team Katana stopped their march and melted into the shadows.

Vergil sensed something. He didn't know what, but he learned to trust his gut. Lieutenant Commander Kurt Ambrose taught him everything he knew, and that included learning to follow your instincts.

"If you feel that something's not right, then it probably isn't." He would say.

Vergil and the rest of Team Katana were one of three teams competing for top honors among the Spartan III's of Gamma Company on the remote planet Onyx. Gamma Company, comprised of 330 Spartan III's including himself, was the third company of Spartans trained on this world. They were taught to fight and survive by Lieutenant Commander Ambrose, and Senior Chief Petty Officer Franklin Mendez.

According to all of Gamma Company, SCPO Mendez was the toughest man in the galaxy. He gave them all hell, pushing them and pushing them until they either broke, or rose to the occasion. But every one of the young Spartan III's respected, and admired him. The Lieutenant Commander was their leader, however, and a good leader at that. Kurt Ambrose was a Spartan II, a legendary super-soldier that could tear apart a Covenant armada single-handedly if needed. Or so Vergil had heard.

Gamma Company knew all about Spartan II's, and practically worshipped them. Their legendary victories spanned over many worlds, and brought hope to humanity's dwindling numbers. The young Spartan III's emulated them, and were inspired by their example; inspired to become Spartans themselves. From the day they arrived on Onyx, they devoted themselves to becoming just like their fearless, and legendary predecessors.

Gamma's 330 Spartans were driven by many things, but inspiration was only one of them. Revenge was another. Every Spartan III was an orphan, their families killed by the Covenant. The Covenant was a collection of alien races that was hell-bent on wiping out every last human being in the galaxy. The story was always the same. The Covenant came to a planet, destroyed its defenses and bombarded it from the atmosphere until the surface was nothing but glass and ashes.

But that didn't matter now. Team Katana wasn't worried about the Covenant. They were worried about winning. Somewhere out in the jungle, Team Gladius and Team Saber were looking for them. The two teams were likely hunting each other as well, but Vergil liked to imagine the situation was worse than it was. He didn't like surprises. For all he knew, the two teams were focusing on finding Katana first.

Vergil once again felt something in the pit of his stomach. He spread his fingers out wide, signaling his squad to spread out. If he was walking into a trap, he wanted to minimize "casualties". In this exercise, each team was armed with rubber stun-rounds, and flash-bang grenades. It was unlikely that anyone would die for real, but if you were shot enough, you were tagged as "dead", and were therefore unable to assist your team.

Vergil raised his MA5K assault rifle, scanning the jungle at ground level. The rest of his team would keep their eyes peeled as well.

"Advance," He said over TEAMCOM, "But be careful."
The four status lights on his Heads-Up Display winked green, indicating that his team understood. They all crouched down low, their SPI armor's photo-reactive panels blending into the jungle around them. Their armor had impressive camouflage abilities, though apparently not as good as the Covenant Active Camouflage. It suited its purpose, however, and concealed them from radar as well.
Vergil could barely see his team move through the jungle, the light bending around them; their weapons raised, ready to fire at anything that came into view. Their IFF tags were disabled, otherwise the other teams might be able to track the tags on their own HUDs.

Suddenly, Vergil caught a glimpse of something to his left. He smoothly turned to face it, crouching lower to the ground to avoid detection, and possibly any incoming fire. He flashed his status light amber, and the others stopped and scanned the jungle carefully. Vergil quickly glanced at his MA5K's ammo counter. It read a full clip. Good. He didn't want to be caught unprepared.

He heard a snap of a twig. There was definitely someone there. He flashed his status light green quickly four times to tell his team to open fire. As soon as he flashed it the forth time, Team Katana let loose. Shrubbery was torn to bits by the hail of bullets, and dirt shot up from the ground where the rubber rounds impacted.

After a few moments, Vergil signaled red, and his team ceased fire. There was no visual confirmation that the target was down, and Vergil didn't want to put any member of his team in danger. So he crept forward himself, ordering his squad to hold position.

Slowly, he made his way toward the now-tattered shrubbery, his SPI armor blending in with the greenery around him. Quietly, he parted the underbrush, fully prepared to see a member of Team Gladius or Team Saber writhing on the ground in pain.

There was no one.

Only a small, tattered piece of cloth.