0200 Hours, January 26, 2535 (Military Calendar)/ Lambda Serpentis System, Jericho VII UNSC Naval Command Center
Spartan 68 walked down one of a thousand identical corridors in the building. He knew where he was going though, and he dwelled more on the thought of his next mission than on where to go. He had only arrived in at the command center five hours ago, all of which he had spent sleeping.
He didn't know how long he would have to be awake during his mission. He had gone without sleep for periods of three or four days before without so much as a yawn, but it never hurt to be prepared. Battle had taught him that. You never knew when there would be a twist, something unexpected. You never knew when your entire strategy or plan would have to be changed to fit the new context of your situation.
As he passed UNSC personnel in the hallway they all either stared or looked away. He was used to it though. Not many people had ever seen a Spartan fully armored in a MJOLNIR cybernetic battle suit.
He took a right and came to the armory. He entered the small room, and did not hesitate to pick up his sniper rifle. He had modified it to his liking with extra features such as a third, 15x zoom level, and enhanced night vision. Both had come in handy before, and he had grown quite attached to it. It was also equipped with all the basic features such as a smart-link scope that fed video to his HUD, and 14.5mm armor-piercing rounds.
Second he picked up an MA5B assault rifle, which would come in handy if he ended up in any close range skirmishes. The MA5B was the standard primary weapon issued to every marine for all sorts of close combat. It was a decent weapon, and he appreciated it for being extremely easy to use and carry, with an excellent rate of fire. It fired 7.62mm armor piercing rounds, and had a number of features on the integrated computer, including a digital compass.
Before leaving the armory, he made sure to pick up an M6D pistol. It was a small handgun, but it packed a huge punch. Capable of 2x smart-link magnification and firing 12.7mm semi-armor piercing, high-explosive rounds, many marines used it as their primary weapon rather than a sidearm.
With that, Spartan 68 grabbed a number of frag grenades, two remote detonated sticky bombs, and some extra ammo, and left the armory. As he walked back down the hall toward the launch bay, he hoped his teammates would get there soon.
As though his thought had triggered it, another Spartan turned the corner right then, heading toward the armory. Although he also was fully covered in the same cybernetic armor, he recognized him as Spartan 23, otherwise known as 'Brute' for his love of explosives. Brute was one of his companions for the mission, and he was glad to have him.
He knew he himself could operate explosive weaponry about twice as well as a normal marine, and that was terrible by Spartan standards. He wasn't worried though, because with his talent for sniping, and Brute's passion for blowing things up, he knew they'd make a great team.
As Spartan 23 grew nearer, he opened a com-link channel, "Brute, you've got to be in the launch bay in three minutes, you'd better hurry in the armory."
"I know." Brute replied, "I won't be long, Plague."
Spartan 68 closed the link, and inside his helmet the corners of his mouth twitched slightly (the Spartan equivalent of a silent chuckle) as he was reminded of his nickname. He was called 'Plague' for his tendency to take out many enemies in a quick succession with his sniper rifle, often stealing his teammate's kills.
Having walked the short distance to the launch bay, he touched the nearby button to open the large door, and impatiently waited as its panels retreated into the wall. Before it was completely open, he stepped through into the gigantic room that was the launch bay. The ceiling was probably about 100 feet above him, and catwalks stretched here and there near the sides of the room. The wall to his left had openings for ship departures at every docking station.
Although the bay was only wide enough to fit one ship, it seemed to stretch on forever in front of him, allowing a great many ships to land side by side, all along the length of the bay. Plague set off down the row of ships to find Pelican Tango 23, the designated craft for his mission.
Brute continued down the hall toward the armory after passing Plague. He knew Plague was his commander, but no matter how high or low anyone's rank was, all Spartans treated each other as equals, no exceptions. They had all been together since childhood, and each one knew every other just as well as they knew themselves.
They could communicate without saying a word, and know what another was thinking without so much as a glance in their direction. They were Spartans, the most advanced military force in the universe, and they always worked together. Each and every one of them knew what the key to their success was. It wasn't their genetically altered strength or reflexes. It was every single one of the other Spartans.
Brute entered the armory with that thought in mind, and began the quick task of collecting his weapons. He first grabbed his beloved rocket launcher. His modifications made it much better than a standard infantry rocket. It launched the explosive shells nearly 1.5 times as fast, and could also track moving targets to a certain extent, if he so desired.
His second weapon was his shotgun. Most marines, and most Spartans used the standard MA5B assault rifle as their primary close range weapon, but Brute would never take one into combat. He much preferred the power and strength of the M90 8 gauge shotgun. He had two theories about combat. One was that you could kill anything if your blast radius was big enough. The second was that if you fired enough bullets simultaneously, you're bound to hit your target. The shotgun met the second theory perfectly.
As a sidearm, Brute picked up the standard M6D pistol. That was one weapon he could agree with people on. It may be small, but he knew the kind of power it contained.
Lastly, he grabbed a few grenades, sticky bombs, and extra ammo, and headed out of the armory, and down the hall to the launch bay to join Plague. As he walked away, he saw no sign of the third Spartan assigned to the mission, Spartan 56, also know as 'Wrench'.
Wrench was the only mechanic of all the Spartans. He was just as good as any other in combat, but his real specialization was in vehicular repair and modification. He had his own customized warthog and pelican, both of which they would be taking on the mission. Wrench was probably already at the pelican, anxious to get going.
Brute was at the door to the launch bay within a minute and a few second later he was in the bay, the door finishing opening behind him. Without hesitation, he walked toward docking station 29, at which Wrench's pelican was docked. He could see Plague waiting for him there, examining his sniper rifle. Next to him stood Wrench, waiting impatiently for the third Spartan.
Wrench was at the docking station ready to go five minutes before Plague got there. Now he was walking around his pelican making final adjustments to his precious creation. His warthog was strapped on under the pelican's troop bay.
This mission was going to be the first time he really got to test out his vehicles in actual combat situations. He wasn't going to let any little thing blow it. He had already double checked everything to make sure it all worked, and was about to triple check it, when he realized he had not checked his weapons.
His weapon set was very basic. He carried the standard MA5B, and a simple M6D pistol. He carried no third weapon, and instead used the space for extra ammo. He didn't have a specialty in fighting, so he had taken weapons that were good all around for almost any situation. Besides, his teammates could always back him up in a tight situation.
Just as he finished checking his pistol, Plague walked up, sniper rifle over his shoulder, obviously ready to go. As he came near, Wrench opened a com-link channel.
"Where's Brute?" he asked, "He should be here by now."
"Don't worry." answered Plague, "He was just going into the armory as I left. He should be here any minute."
"Good" Wrench replied.
It didn't take even a minute for Brute to arrive at the pelican. They were all ready, and the only thing left to do was the briefing. Plague already knew what they were doing, so he quickly told the others.
"We don't have much time for this mission, so lets get going as quickly as possible." He said. "Basically there's a covenant ship that has entered the sector. We can't be sure what it's doing here, but it's probably a scout.
"At this point there's no question about whether or not they're going to find this planet, just a question of how soon. We want to delay this as long as possible and give the planet more time to prepare its defenses.
"Our only hope at this time is to destroy the ship, but if we use the navy of this planet, they will almost certainly send more ships immediately. What we are going to do is go to that ship in this pelican and find a way on board. We've got to destroy the engines, and crash it on the nearby planet, Jericho III. Right now, that planet is blocking this one from their sensors. We've got to get there and crash it before it finds Jericho VII."
That was a lot to stomach, even for a Spartan. However, if either of the others were surprised by the mission they didn't show it.
"Sir," said Wrench, "if we have a time limit, we'd better get going now."
"Exactly. Here are the coordinates." said Plague handing Wrench a small data chip, "Now let's get going."
"Alright then guys," said Wrench heading for the cockpit, "hop in and we'll be there in no time."