Last of my one-shots.

Like I mentioned in my notes last week, this week's story will take place from the perspective of Lisbeth Norén, Moss' former Innie friend from Missing in Action.

The first thing I want to mention is that Norén in this chapter is going sound like a completely different character from her appearance in Missing in Action. That is deliberate. This story takes place in 2452, 3 YEARS BEFORE MIA that means this story takes place just before the fall of Alluvion, long before the battles of Newsaka and Actium, and years before Moss has even joined the Army. That means, in this story, Norén has yet to suffer the trauma of having lost her homeworld, she hasn't lost all her friends and family, and she hasn't lost her sole purpose in life. Try to keep that in mind when reading this story.

Unlike Griffin's story, I didn't really do anything fancy about Norén's language. I wasn't really crazy about the way Griffin's speech in the last one-shot had turned out, so I didn't even bother with this one.

Yesterday's Enemies
Summary: The Covenant made for some strange bedfellows. Yesterday's enemies become today's allies, and today's friends became tomorrow's foes. No one knew this better than Lisbeth Norén of the Alluvion Defense Force. Last time she checked, the UNSC were the bad guys. But now they were the good guys? How was a girl supposed to keep track?

Fort Jensen, Yukon Province, Alluvion
January 22, 2542

Norén gasped for breath as she clawed at her throat, her windpipe full of crud, preventing her from taking as deep of a breath as she would have liked. The door to her pod slid open and she immediately fell to the ground, her knees hitting the metal surface hard, but she barely noticed the pain. Instead, she punched herself in the stomach with as much force as she could until she felt like puking. She felt her throat bulge as pressure built before whatever was in the way finally gave, and she leaned over and hurled onto the ground. Her throat finally clear, Norén took a deep breath, taking her first breathe of non-filtered air for the first time in five months.

With her mind struggling to recover from the temporary oxygen deficiency, Norén's eyes darted around the room, taking in the sights through her blurry vision. Someone was saying something above her, but it would require far too much effort to try and understand what was being said. Instead, she focused on the fact that she appeared to be surrounded by at least three people: one that was crouched beside her to her left, and two more standing upright to her right. She stared at the two standing up and it took her addled brain a few seconds to register exactly what she was looking at: they were both wearing the uniform of the UNSC Army. Son of a bitch.

Norén immediately went on the offensive. She tried to surge to her feet, but her body refused to obey. Her trembling muscles failed to respond and instead she started to fall over, however the person beside her grabbed her by the shoulders and held her upright.

"Whoa Corporal!" the woman said. "It's alright, take it easy!"

Norén turned to stare at the woman, blurrily making out the colors of the ADF she was wearing around her bicep.

"But... UNSC...right there..." Norén breathlessly stuttered out, gesturing helplessly at the two UNSC fucks, trying to make sure they were in fact, truly there.

"I know Corporal," the woman replied, confirming what Norén was seeing. "But the situation has changed since you went under. There's a ceasefire between the ADF and the UNSC."

A ceasefire? That would explain why soldiers from the UNSC and soldiers from the ADF were standing in the same room without trying to kill each other, but it didn't explain how the ceasefire came to be.

But before Norén could inquire further, the woman threw a blanket around her shoulders.

"Come on Corporal, let's get you some clothes. On your feet soldier. Upsy-daisy!"

With her help, Norén staggered to her feet and started to head out of the room. However as she started walking, she found her legs were trembling so bad, she could barely take a few steps before her legs gave out, and she was forced to lean on the woman for support.

"Jesus," Norén heard the woman say. "What did you guys do to her?"

"We didn't do anything but put her on ice," Norén heard one of the UNSC soldiers say, and Norén felt a surge of hate towards them. Instinctively she lurched towards them to try and, she didn't know, hit them or something, but the woman stopped her before she could fall over.

"Why the hell would you people, put someone who'd never been trained for cryosleep, into a cryo tube!?"

"She kept trying to escape, start riots, and she was just in general a giant pain in the ass. Putting her on ice was the simplest way of keeping her in line," came the unrepentant reply.

"You're a bunch of savages," the woman snarled.

"Fuck you bitch. Don't even talking to me about being a savage. You know just as well as I do, if the situation was reversed, you would have fucking executed her. So fuck you. Fucking Innies."

"Hey, fuck you, you fucking fascist pig!" Norén eagerly jumped in, sensing the woman needed some reinforcements. "You're a bunch of fucking pussies, the lot of you. I'll fucking take you all down."

The same UNSC soldier snorted. "Oh please. You couldn't fight your way out of a wet paper bag right now."

White hot anger surged through Norén's veins, and she found herself shoving the ADF woman aside as she rose to the challenge. "Let's find out then, bitch! I'll fucking rip out your spine and skull fuck you to death, how do you like that, ya fascist cunt!?"

A wild look appeared over the UNSC soldier's face and she took a step forward, but the other soldier grabbed her by the arm before she could do anything.

"Enough!" the ADF woman roared. "You two were ordered to make sure the release of Corporal Norén went smoothly, then escort us to the med bay. Well, we're here, so you guys can fuck off now."

"And leave you two alone to try and blow up the base? I don't think so," the restrained soldier snarled.

"You got cameras, don't you? Go fucking watch them!"

The other UNSC soldier stopped the first before she could say anything else.

"That's enough Lieutenant! Fine, we'll leave you two alone, but she's your responsibility." She pointed a finger at Norén, and Norén was so tempted to lean forward and bite it, but it was painfully clear to her she just didn't have the strength to accomplish something like that right now. "Anything happens, she starts anything, that's on you. Hey! Do you understand me Innie?"

"I heard you the first time!" the ADF woman snapped.


Shooting one last glare at Norén, who returned it with a kiss just to see if she could provoke them into starting something, the two UNSC soldiers left.

"What a bunch of assholes," Norén muttered.

"You said it. Come on, let's get you on top of this table."

With the woman's help, Norén was able to get into a seated position on the top of the table.

"You think with this ceasefire, the UNSC would have pulled that stick out of their asses," the woman said as she rummaged through a nearby cabinet. "Guess it's true what they say: a leopard can't change its spots."

Norén absentmindedly nodded in agreement, but the adrenaline in her veins was beginning to wear out, and she could feel a headache forming. She was tired, sore, and really confused.

"Hey," Norén called out. "Who are you anyway?"

"Lieutenant Avery, Alluvion Defense Force Medical Corps," came the reply and Norén let out a string of curses as she realized she had been talking to an officer. She started to climb to her feet so she could salute the Lieutenant, but Avery shot her a nasty glare and she relented.

"Here, this should help with the muscle fatigue," Avery announced as she returned with a needle.

"Don't worry, I'm not going to poison you, this is just some steroids," she added, seeing the weary look Norén was giving the needle.

"It's not that ma'am, I just don't like needles," Norén admitted.

"Unfortunately, if you want to walk under your own power, there's no avoiding it."

Norén nodded and turned away as Avery jabbed her in the shoulder.

"This is why you're not supposed to spend more than a couple hours in cryo the first time you use it," Avery ranted as she tossed the needle in a biohazard waste receptacle. "You're supposed to give your body time to adapt to the freeze and thaw cycles. Fucking UNSC pricks."

"You'll hear no arguments from me ma'am," Norén agreed. "Which sort of leads to my next question: a ceasefire? Since when do we negotiate with these goose-stepping bastards anyway? Unless we won," she hopefully added.

Avery shook her head. "Not exactly. It's a little hard to explain. How long have you been on ice anyway?"

"Depends: what year is it?"

"Oh shit, I'm sorry," Avery said apologetically. "It's the twenty second of January, 2542."

Norén nodded.

"I was captured by the URF back in 2540," she told Avery. "Was held by those turncoats until April of 2541, when the camp I was being held at was attacked by the UNSC, and I was captured by those assholes."

Avery narrowed her eyes. "Sounds like you've been a prisoner for a long time now, haven't you?" she said somewhat oddly.

"And what exactly do you mean by that?" Norén growled.

"Oh, nothing," Avery airily said. "It's just that, most ADF personnel don't survive that long in either the URF or the UNSC's hands... unless of course there's a good reason for either party to not execute their prisoner."

Norén's eyes narrowed, and she felt anger surge through her veins again. Who the fuck did this bitch think she was, implying Norén was a traitor. Norén didn't just spend the last decade of her life, two of which were spent as a prisoner of war, fighting against the oppressions of the UNSC, only for her loyalties to be questioned by her own side!

Before Norén could let Avery know exactly what she was thinking, there was a loud rumble overhead, causing the building to shake. Both Avery and Norén looked up in alarm.

"Let's get you some clothes," Avery hastily announced. She walked over to a set of lockers by the door and came back with a small bundle of folded clothes, which she handed to Norén. "I think these are about your size."

Norén glanced at the clothes then glared at Avery. What the fuck was this bitch trying to pull?

"That's a UNSC uniform," Norén pointed out in a low growl. Avery didn't appear phased.

"Yes, I know," she said somewhat impatiently.

"I rather walk around naked than wear that filth."

"Yeah, well, unfortunately for you, that isn't an option. This is a UNSC base; they destroy all ADF uniforms and regalia as soon as they captured them. The best we can do is give you one of these armbands, show people you're one of us." She gestured at the armband she was wearing. When Norén made no motion to take the clothes however, Avery sighed. "Take the damn clothes. That's an order, Corporal!"

With a disgusted growl, Norén reluctantly took the offered fatigues. The clothes were warm, like they had just came out of a dryer, and Norén could detect just the barest scent of laundry detergent, indicating they had been recently washed. Despite that, Norén couldn't help but feel her skin crawl as she slid the clothes on. This uniform, and the eagle emblem of the UNSC, were symbols of evil, evil Norén had spent years trying to exterminate. And now she had to wear them? That was just wrong.

Still, she supposed she didn't have a choice. That rumbling had been the result of a missile launch, though it had been far heavier than Norén was used to, and there was no way Norén was walking into a battlefield stark naked.

"Follow me," Avery commanded as soon as Norén had finished dressing. Without waiting for a response, she whirled around on one heel and darted out of the room, forcing Norén to run to catch up.

As she chased through the halls after Avery, Norén noticed that there were a large number of UNSC soldiers running around, all of them fully geared and armed to the teeth, making Norén feel like she was naked again clad in her light fatigues without a weapon to defend herself. She resolved to rearm herself with actual weaponry as soon as possible; it wouldn't be too hard to find a brownshirt about her size, isolate him, then slit his throat and steal his equipment. But for now, she was content to follow Avery.

As she caught up to Avery, there were another two rumbles and the base shook again, causing dust and plasters to fall from the ceiling.

"Hey Lieutenant, I thought you said there was a ceasefire between us and the UNSC?" Norén asked as she brushed the dust off her shoulders.

"There is," Avery said shortly.

"Then who the hell are they launching those missiles at, the URF?"

Avery shook her head. "They're not shooting at any human targets. They're -"

"Then what are they shooting at, the fucking emus?" Norén interrupted with a derisive laugh. She was joking, but then again, she wouldn't exactly be surprised if it turned out to be true. It would be so like the UNSC, to attack a target that couldn't fight back, and expend a ton of very expensive ordnance while doing so.

"No!" Avery snapped, somewhat impatiently. "They're shooting at the Covenant!"

"The who?"

"The Covenant!"

Norén racked her brains, but she couldn't think of a single Separatist group that called themselves "The Covenant."

"Sounds like a flip(1) band name," Norén commented. "Who the fuck are the Covenant?"

"The Covenant are a bunch of genocidal aliens going around the galaxy killing everything in their path," Avery explained. "And Alluvion is next in line."

Norén frowned. That sounded familiar.

"Oh, right!" Norén exclaimed. "The UNSC's bogeyman!" She frowned. "Don't tell me you believe in that shit Lieutenant. Everyone knows that ONI made that up in order to scare everyone into falling in line behind the UNSC banner. A group of hostile aliens that no one has ever encountered before comes out of nowhere and starts attacking the UNSC, just as a number of Separatists groups start to gain ground against the government? And these guys are so technologically advance, not even the 'vaunted' UNSC Navy is capable of standing against them, so the UNSC needs all Separatist groups to stop fighting and help out, otherwise these 'aliens' are going to wave their magic wands and turn entire planets into one gigantic wasteland? Yeah, right."

"I use to think the same thing," Avery admitted. "But first off, it was the UNSC that asked for the ceasefire -"

"So they could lull all of us into a false sense of security," Norén interjected. "God, I hope the prime minister has remained hidden during this so-called ceasefire."

"Not only that," Avery continued as if Norén hadn't said a word, "we lost all contact with Fallow a couple days ago.

"Communication glitch," Norén said with a shrug. "I'm sure it'll be back up soon enough."

Avery shook her head. "We intercepted a number of video transmissions between the UNSC garrison up there and the ones down here. All showed the same thing: UNSC soldiers fighting against a distinctively alien force."

"Leadership just happened to 'intercept' communications that prove what the UNSC is saying? What a coincidence!" Norén sarcastically noted.

"If that's the case, then why is that moon lit up like it is on fire?"

"Odd reflections from Bhaakto."

Avery shook her head in disbelief. "You haven't even been outside yet. If you could see the state of Fallow now, you wouldn't be saying that."

"Don't need to. I know how the UNSC operates. I fought against them for a little under a decade."

"What about all the explosions in high orbit? None of the Independence groups around here have an air force, so who are the UNSC fighting? What about the survivors from Fallow, all saying the same thing?"

"It's probably fireworks and crisis actors."

"And what would the point of this elaborate scheme be, Corporal?" Avery demanded.

Norén stared at her like she was an idiot. "To convince us to reveal ourselves. We've been fighting this war for almost forty years now, and we're winning. The UNSC knows they can't beat us militarily, so they're trying to sucker us out in the open so they can drop a couple of MAC rounds on us."

"Sounds like you got it all figured out, don't you Corporal," Avery said, sneeringly.

"And you've fallen for their lies hook, line, and sinker," Norén shot back. "Are you sure you know which side you're on?"

Avery reeled back, looking offended. She opened her mouth, but then closed it just as quickly.

"You know what? You believe what you want to believe Corporal," she hissed. "You'll see the true for yourself soon enough. In the meantime, shut up and follow my orders."

"You're in charge ma'am," Norén darkly replied. Left unsaid but implied was the 'for now' part.

Avery didn't say anything else, but continued down the hall. As they moved, more and more rumblings could be heard, causing Norén to shake her head. What was the UNSC trying to do, waste all of Alluvion's natural resources as a last minute fuck you to the ADF before they lost? Why else would they be expending all this ordnance?

They reached the end of the hall and entered what appeared to be a mess hall. It was crowded, full of fully geared and armed UNSC soldiers, and Norén frowned. All these targets clustered together and she didn't have a single grenade or block of C-12 she could set off. Norén wasn't big on suicide attacks but against a target of this magnitude, it would have totally been worth it. What a pity.

"Stay here and await further orders," Avery ordered and then, before Norén could say anything, promptly disappeared into the crowd.

Norén opened her mouth to swear, but then abruptly noticed the hostile looks she was getting from the brownshirts around her. She returned the looks with just as much venom, but mentally her brain was working in overdrive. With Avery having ditched her, Norén no longer had someone watching her back. If a fight broke out, it would be far too easy for her to get surrounded. She needed to find a corner and fast so she could at least have a wall to put her back against.

Adopting a scornful look on her face so she didn't accidentally signal her intentions to the brownshirts, Norén casually made her way towards the nearest wall, then started following it until she reached a corner. As she approached, she noticed with some disappointment she wasn't the only one with that idea. That disappointment turned to relief though when she noticed the dozen figures standing there were all wearing ADF armbands. They must have been other POWs as Norén was pretty sure she recognized a couple of them from before she had been put on ice.

Now that she had reinforcements, Norén abandoned all subtlety. Standing up straight, Norén marched over to the group.

"Corporal Lisbeth Norén, Corps of Alluvion Defense Force Engineers, 2nd Regiment," Norén announced, catching the attention of everyone present. "Who's in charge here?"

One of the soldiers, one whom Norén did not recognize, glanced at her. "I think you just volunteered to be it. You're the first NCO we've seen so far."

Norén raised any eyebrow. "There are really no officers or NCOs around here?"

"Aside from Lieutenant Avery? Nope."

Norén scoffed. She wasn't sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing. Either way, if she really was the only NCO, then it was true she was in charge. Good. She was about overdue for a promotion. The only problem was, she was hoping someone could tell her what was going on. She leaned in to address the man directly.

"Hey, so do you have any idea what's going on?" she asked him in a quieter voice. "Why were we released? And what are we standing around waiting for?"

"Your guess is about as good as mine Corporal," the man replied with a frown. "All I know is what Avery told me, which wasn't much."

Norén snorted. That wasn't very helpful. She had been hoping for a little more information regarding their situation so she could know what to prepare for. Oh well, might as well get ready for anything. "Section! Eyes here! Raise your hand if you got combat training!"

About a third of the group raised their hands, including the man she had initially talked to. She pointed at him.

"What's your name soldier?"

The man straightened, as if he was presenting himself on the parade ground. "Fusilier Gresham, Corporal!" he announced. "Of the Dawson Fusilier Regiment."

Norén inclined her head in acknowledgement, then glanced at the other three, but none of them were infantrymen. "Well then Fusilier Gresham, consider yourself my 2IC. Welcome, glad to have you around."

"Thank you Corporal!"


Norén jerked as someone let out a yell, and she looked towards the entrance in time to see a UNSC officer, a major by the looks of it, enter the room. Before the brownshirts could raise their arms, the man waved his hand and barked, "As you were."

Ignoring everybody else, the Major marched through the room, the crowd parting around him, towards the ADF soldiers huddled in the corner.

"Which one of you Innies is in charge here?" he demanded.

Shoving her hands into her pocket, Norén sauntered forward.

"That would be me," she declared, deliberately not referring to him as a 'sir.' If he noticed her disrespect though, he didn't say a word. "Corporal Norén. What do you want?"

"I'm Major Thorne," he announced. "I'm not sure if you were aware of this but, as part of the ceasefire agreement, we were originally going to return all of you to ADF controlled territory. However, I'm afraid because the Covenant is moving faster than we anticipated, that's no longer a possibility."

Norén didn't even bother hiding her eye roll. Right, the "Covenant." She had to hand it to them though. These fascist were really sticking to their story, weren't they? Then again, what did she expect from a bunch of puppets?

"Because of that," Thorne continued, "I'm hereby by reassigning you to my battalion. You and the rest of your Innie buddies will be assigned to my staff as Detachment Alpha. As the ranking NCO of this group, you're in charge. Congratulations, Sergeant Norén."

"Master Corporal."


"Master Corporal," Norén repeated. "I'm a Corporal. Next rank would be Master Corporal, not Sergeant. Not that it matters because you don't have the authority to promote me."

Much to her immense irritation, Thorne laughed. "Sergeant," he repeated, "you can call yourself whatever you want, just as long as you follow my orders. Senior Airman Shin!" he barked before Norén could protest, and a brownshirt instantly appeared by Thorne's side.


"Bring these uh, 'soldiers' to the armory for immediate rearmament."

"We don't need no fucking babysitter," Norén automatically snarled before her brain registered what Thorne just said. Rearmament? The UNSC was giving them guns? She wasn't the only one that was confused by that statement.

"Sir? Is that wise?" Shin asked, and Norén smirked at his obvious discomfort.

"Airman, you know better than I that we're going to need every man, woman, and child who can fight if we hope to hold back the Covenant. Don't worry Airman," Thorne said reassuringly. "These guys have dedicated their lives to fighting for this colony; they're not going to turn against us once they realize that without our help, they're not going to be able to hold it."

Norén snorted. As if they needed the UNSC to defend their home from... whatever they claimed was coming. Still, as Thorne walked away, leaving Shin standing there looking uncertain, Norén couldn't help but goad, "Hey, piggy! You heard your puppet master! Your strings have been pulled. Bring us to the armory."

Shin whirled around and looked about ready to attack her, but then the building shook and he turned pale.

"Fuck. Alright, follow me," he ordered. "And double time it!"

Norén snorted. "Section! Move it out!" she barked.

She took off jogging after Shin. As she ran, she drifted closer to Gresham. "Hey Private," she whispered into his ear and he inclined his head to show he was listening. "As soon as we get guns, drop that motherfucker."

Gresham grinned in response.

They shoved their way out of the room and down another hall until they reached the armory.

"Armor and helmets are here," Shin barked, pointing at a series of cabinets. "Rifles on that shelf over there."

Norén immediately headed towards the weapons, and frowned when she realized they only had MA37s. She hated MA37s. Where were the ADF Falchion rifles? They were far superior to the UNSC shit. For one thing, they had a conventional rifle layout with the action and magazine in front of the trigger, automatically making them better rifles than the shitty bullpup design the UNSC seemed to love so much.

"What? Is the big bad Innie pussing out now?" Shin taunted as he noticed her hesitate. "Afraid to face what's coming next?"

Norén quickly grabbed one of the rifles off the rack. "What, your imaginary monsters? I'm hardly concerned about them."

Shin's face darkened. "You should be."

"Hey fascist!" Norén and Shin looked up as Gresham approached waving a rifle around. "These things aren't very useful without ammo. Where is it?"

Shin growled. Reaching into a nearby cabinet, he pulled out a heavy metal case and tossed it to the ground in front of them. "There you go you filthy animals."

The lid popped open, revealing a mess of pre-loaded magazines. Norén immediately grabbed one and inserted it into her rifle. She caught Gresham's eye and jerked her head in Shin's direction. Grabbing a random vest off the shelf, she walked over to Shin.

"Hey piggy!" she barked, drawing his attention to her as Gresham moved into position. "This shit don't fit! I know a fucking virgin like you has never seen a pair of titties before, so let me use small words to explain. I can't stuff these," she pointed at her chest, "into this. Where the fuck are the women's vest at?"

"What, can't you fucking Innies read?" Shin snarled before walking over to one of the shelves. As he did, Norén nodded at Gresham. "It's right fucking -"


Norén jumped in surprise as the haunting wail of an air raid siren went off.

"Attention all personnel, we have inbound Covenant drop pods! Trajectory places them landing in Sectors 3, 7, 12, and 21! All fireteams, respond!"

"Shit, that's right outside! Come on, we got to hit them before they can leave the drop zone!" Shin yelled as he threw the vest at Norén and ran for the door, unslinging his rifle as he did.

Gresham shot a questioning look at Norén, who shook her head. She was actually a bit curious to see how far the UNSC was willing to take this ploy of theirs. Tossing the vest on and grabbing a handful of magazines, Norén took off after Shin.

They burst outside to some sort of courtyard area. They were the first ones to arrive, but Norén barely took note as her attention was immediately drawn upwards. The entire night sky was lit up with explosions and tracers and missiles contrails and all sort of other things. Outshining all that was Fallow. Just like Avery had reported, the entire moon looked like it was on fire, making it look like a miniature star.

There was a loud WHOOSH from behind her, and Norén turned around to see a missile rising up from somewhere further in the base, and she suddenly realized why they making so much noise: it was because the UNSC was launching interplanetary ballistic missiles.

Despite herself, Norén couldn't help but be impressed. The UNSC were really pulling out all the stops to make it seems like they were under attack. What was that, a holographic projector depicting the space battle? Some sort of spotlight taking the place of Fallow? Were they even outside?

"Set up right here!" Shin yelled over the noise, gesturing behind a wall of Hesco barriers.

Her section immediately looked at her and she shrugged before repeating the order. She had gone this far, might as well see if she could call the UNSC's bluff. Taking up position behind one of the barriers, she checked over her rifle, her numb fingers quickly getting back into the swing of things.


Norén looked up to see what appeared to be four dozen fireballs streaking through the air, headed straight for them. As she watched, nearby anti-aircraft guns opened up, sending streams of tracers at them. One of the pods took a direct hit and blew up and even from this distance, Norén could feel the heat from the explosion.

She frowned. Someone was getting a little bit carried away with these effects.

With a loud shriek, a couple of the pods hit the ground in the middle of the courtyard, smashing through concrete with a tremendous CRASH! She reflexively ducked as the pod door was launched in her direction, before rising back up in time to see -

Whoa. Okay, now that was pretty elaborate. Norén was honestly expecting some sort of ODST to climb out of the pod, so she was completely unprepared for what actually came out. A massive creature, standing maybe a little over two meters tall. This particular individual was clad in some sort of elaborate, maroon-colored armor that covered most of its body, however Norén could see the creature's gray leathery skin poking out from the joints. It looked like its legs were bending in the wrong direction and though it was a bit hard to tell, it looked like the creature had two thumbs on each hand. The most noticeable feature though, was the creature's mouth: it seemed like it was made up of four separate mandibles, reminding Norén of those Predator aliens she had seen in that old sci-fi film. Geez, the UNSC wasn't very creative, were they?

As the creature opened its mouth and let out a roar of a challenge, Norén briefly wondered how the UNSC managed to create a creature like this. Was it a robot? A human wearing prosthetics? A combination of the two? Or maybe it was just a hologram. Whatever, she would figure out soon enough.

"Section, open fire!" Norén roared, then doubled down and opened up.

Tracer rounds streaked across the courtyard and slammed into the creature, but instead of instantly going down, the bullets were intercepted by a transparent yellow barrier.

Huh, maybe it really was a hologram.

The creature ducked down and whipped out what almost looked like an oversized tuning fork and began shooting back. Blue fireballs started impacting all around them, one of which flew right by Norén's head, splattering against the Hesco wall. Norén turned her head to see the fireball had instantly melted the wire mesh, as well as set the fabric on fire.

Okay. So... not a hologram. Maybe it was a robot. Only one way to find out.

"Gresham! Take three people and maintain suppressing fire! The rest of the Section, on me! Close the gap!"

"No, don't do that! Keep your fucking distance!" she heard their babysitter yell, but she ignored him. She knew how to fight a fucking war, thank you very much.

With a tremendous war cry, Norén burst out from around the barriers and charged straight towards the creature, firing as she ran. The creature saw her coming and, ignoring Gresham's gunfire, turned and immediately opened up on her group. Norén was vaguely aware of one of her men taking a hit to the chest and instantly going down, the lasers the creature was shooting cutting right through his armor like it wasn't there; fuck, of course the armor they got was fake! Shit, she didn't even think about that!

With the sound of her pulsating heartbeat filling her ears, drowning out all other noise, Norén got to within a couple meters of the creature, but instead of running away like the UNSC would have done, the creature instead braced itself just as Norén threw herself at it.

It was like she hit a fucking wall. She immediately bounced off the creature and hit the ground, the wind getting knocked out of her. The creature let out a bone chilling screech as it whipped out what looked like a miniature lightsaber and began attacking the rest of her Section.

The creature plunged the blade into the first man's skull, then whipped it out and slashing a second man across the throat. A third soldier ran up and tried to stab the creature with a bayonet, but the creature dodged the blow and retaliated with a sidekick to the man's chest, sending him flying across the courtyard. One of the other women in Norén's Section ran up and emptied her SMG into the creature's back. Most of the bullets were intercepted by the same yellow barrier from before, but this time there was a loud POP and it fizzled away as the last bullet hit. The creature angrily growled, then lunged at the woman as she frantically reloaded. Grabbing her by the throat, it lifted her straight into the air with one hand, then slammed her into the ground. She didn't get back up again.

In the meantime, Norén, doing her best to recover her breath, was struggling to get back in the fight. She grabbed her rifle to shoot the creature in the back, but she was out of ammo. As the creature turned his attention to the remains of her Section, Norén hastily climbed to her feet, then slammed the butt of her rifle against the back of the creature's head. She hit him once, and then a second time. She tried to hit the creature a third time, but the strike never landed as the creature whirled around and grabbed ahold of the rifle. Norén tried to yank it free, but it was like trying to pull a piece of rebar out of a concrete slab for all the good it did. Then she noticed the creature was glaring at her.

Oh shit.

The creature drove the palm of his free hand right into her chest, throwing her back to the ground. Norén could feel her armor breaking under the blow. Before she had time to recover, the creature loomed overhead, its foot raised high, ready to stomp on her like she nothing but a bug. Norén reflexively covered her face with her arms.


The creature staggered back and Norén hastily rolled out of the line of fire. She looked back to see Shin advancing on the creature, firing a shotgun.

klikt. KABAM! klikt. KABAM!

The creature was sent reeling as two more massive hole's appeared in its chest. It whipped out its weird laser gun, but Shin shot it, causing it to explode, taking the creature's hand with it.

The creature roared in pain, but Shin didn't allow it to recover. He blew one of creature's legs off and as the creature dropped to his knees, Shin jammed the barrel into the creature's mouth and fired at point blank range.

"Get up you stupid cunt!" he screamed as the creature collapsed, grounded flesh, bone fragments, and purple blood leaking out from the hole in the back of its head. Not a robot. "On your feet!"

He grabbed Norén by the arm and hauled her back to the barrier, tossing her to the ground next to Gresham.

"I know you Innies try to get as close as possible to us so we can't take you out with indirect, BUT YOU CAN'T FUCKING DO THAT TO THE COVENANT!" Shin screamed as he quickly reloaded. "Covenant relish a close quarters fight! Elites are three times stronger and faster than you will ever be! You break formation again, I'm gonna leave your ass for the Hinge-Heads, do you FUCKING UNDERSTAND!?"

"Yes," Norén said, shaken by what she had seen.

"Good! Keeping on firing!"

Gresham tossed her another rifle, and Norén quickly peeked around the barrier. As she opened up on the remaining creatures, the... Covenant, Norén could only think of one thing -

- That she might have been wrong about this situation.

1. Flip music is a genre of music in the Halo Universe. It was first depicted in Halo: Combat Evolved, during one of the cinematics for the level, 343 Guilty Spark. Sergeant Johnson was listening to it.

And that's that. In case you guys are wondering about Norén's lack of belief about the Covenant, I want to point out that at this point in her life, Norén is a fanatic. And one general characteristic that most fanatics share (insert your favorite group of fanatics to hate here,) is that once they believe they are right about something, they will continue to hold on to the belief despite all evidence to the contrary. Norén believes everything the UNSC says is a lie, therefore everything she sees and is told (right up until the moment she gets punched in the chest) must obviously be more lies on the part of the UNSC.

Anyways, that's it for now guys. This story is now officially over. Thanks for stopping by. Until next time, have a wonderful day.