Lieutenant Edward Buck pushed aside a tree branch as he made his way through the red forest. Mickey and Romeo trudged along slowly behind him. They were headed for the column of smoke that towered in the distance in front of them. With silent steps, the ODSTs came upon a small clearing. A loud snapping of tree trunks sounded off nearby, and almost immediately, all three men were instantly on alert.

"You guys hear that?" Buck trained his suppressed M7 SMG on the tree line.

Mickey turned his head, "You think that's The Rookie?"

"Please tell me you're joking." Romeo snorted, "Not even Gunny's fatass could make that much noise."

Moments passed and there was nothing but still silence. After a few seconds, Buck reluctantly lowered his weapon.

"Alright, let's keep moving." He decided. No sooner had he finished the words did a dark shape shoot out of the woods and charge directly at the unsuspecting soldiers, its claws extending as it went in for the kill.

6 Hours Earlier

UNSC Airspace: Unspecified location

The UNSC Say My Name knifed through space at cruising speed. The Marathon-class heavy cruiser was one of the few ships from the Home Fleet not destroyed or heavily damaged during the Battle of Earth, although it did sustain some minor hits. Since then, it had continued its service to the UNSC Navy as a support and special operations ship.

At the bridge of the ship, Captain Brandon Evans read the files on his monitor. The intel had just been received thirty minutes earlier and the ship had already changed course to respond accordingly.

Evans took a sip of coffee from his mug. The task that had just been given to him and his men was no doubt dangerous, and he could think of multiple scenarios of something going wrong. He didn't like the new orders but he was determined to carry them out. After all, his ship wasn't exactly a stranger to dangerous situations. It had made it through Hell and back a number of times. Surely it could pull it off again.

Below the bridge, Lieutenant Edward Buck sat in the briefing room with the rest of his squad along with other ODST's of the 65th Division. They had been called in on short notice for a highly classified operation and little details had been given out. His promotion from Gunnery Sergeant to Lieutenant was unusual, but the UNSC made exceptions because of Buck's actions in the Human-Covenant war.

"Hey Gunny, you know what all this commotion is about?" Dutch had been wondering about the assignment. Despite Buck's promotion, the nickname Gunny had stuck with his squad.

"No clue." Buck replied with a shrug.

That was what bothered him more than anything else. Buck liked having a clear understanding of what he was going to be getting involved in. It made a smaller chance for error, a smaller chance of getting killed. Especially now, since he had a bigger responsibility.

Being a lieutenant meant that Buck now had a bigger squad. A bigger squad meant more men to take care of, more tactical decisions to make, and frankly, just more work. Buck had found himself coming back from missions more exhausted then he had ever been before as a sergeant. Just the mere idea of going to battle was something he rather dreaded nowadays.

'I'm gettin a little too old for this.' Buck thought to himself.

Romeo scoffed, "It all just seems like a big waste of time if you ask me."

"Save it Romeo." Buck replied curtly.

Hearing Romeo complain about a mission was nothing new to him. In fact, just hearing him complain in general was something Buck had gotten used to.

"You know it's true," Romeo continued, not ready to be ignored. "The war's over. The insurrection's a joke. What are they gonna have us do? Pick flowers in a garden?"

"Sounds like the perfect gig for you." Dutch grunted, "You'd be more productive at doing that than you were in New Mombasa, that's for sure."

Romeo rounded on the bigger man, "I know that tiny brain of yours can't store much, but I took a fucking gravity hammer to the lung remember?"

"What I remember is having to carry your fat ass around the whole damn city." Buck joked, "Doesn't bother you anymore does it?"

He realized this would be Romeo's first field assignment since New Mombasa. Ever since the Brute Chieftan's gravity hammer had pierced Romeo's lung, he had been deemed unfit for combat, even after surgery. Instead, UNSC gave him a desk job where he had evaluated test scores for new recruits. He had only just rejoined the squad last month.

"It's been six years Gunny." Romeo replied at length, "It doesn't even cross my mind. Stamina's been fucked ever since though. I'm just glad I ain't grading tests no more."

"Good. Then you've got nothing to whine about."

"Yeah, whatever man."

"The Rookie's pretty calm and collected." That was Mickey, noticing how quite the Rookie had been, "Does nothing ever get to you J.D?"

The Rookie said nothing. To him, this was just another day at the office. It was what he was trained to do and what he signed on for. He looked at every mission as just another task to complete. If he didn't survive, then so be it. A real soldier knew that they faced the possibility of dying in battle. But death wasn't really something that fazed The Rookie. All he needed was an order.

"Not in the mood to chat huh?" Mickey sighed, "But then again, you never are."

Dutch nodded approvingly, "That's what I like about J.D. A man of few words who gets the job done. You and Romeo should learn from him. Especially Romeo."

"Piss off, you fat fuck." Romeo responded indignantly, "I always get the job done. In fact, if it weren't for me, you probably would've been killed a hundred times over by now."

Dutch rolled his eyes to the heavens, "You just keep telling yourself that."

"Besides," Romeo began to went on, "if you wanna pull bitches, you gotta know how to talk. If anything, the Rookie should be learning from me. Ain't that right Rookie?"

The Rookie, by this point, had already dozed off, finding the conversation to be uninteresting.

"Alright, that's enough. Let's just get some peace and quite for a few minutes ok?" Buck was starting to get a headache from all the chattering going on around him.

The briefing room door slid open not two seconds after Buck issued his order, and Captain Dare walked in with a huge African American man close behind her.

The man's name was Joseph Matthews. Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Matthews. He was the highest-ranking ODST aboard the Say My Name and had overall command on all field operations carried out by the ship. He had already seen more action than more than half of the ODSTs on the ship put together. Behind the massive Colonel, a smaller man with glasses followed quickly behind.

"Attention Troopers, officer on deck!" Dare called out.

The operators quickly stood at attention. Mickey woke the Rookie up with a punch to the shoulder and the silent ODST got up clumsily.

"Thank you Captain." Matthews acknowledged Dare, "At ease troopers."

Romeo smirked, "So much for peace and quiet huh, Gunny?"

"Silence." Buck hissed under his breath.

He noticed Colonel Matthews was already dressed for combat except for his helmet, which he had just laid on the desk in front of him. For some reason, Buck had a feeling that this was something big. Normally, Matthews would oversee an operation from the bridge of the ship, but if he was actually going to go in with everyone else, then this operation was going to be far from the average walk in the woods.

"You're all probably wondering why you're here." Matthews spoke again. "As you all know, two months ago, the UNSC conducted an operation on the planet known as 'Requiem', in which some of our boys engaged with Covenant remnant forces. The Covies were lead by this cocksucker."

Matthews showed a holographic projection, "Jul 'Mdama, or as I like to call him, muthafuckin ugly ass-lookin dickhead."

That drew a few chuckles.

"When the planet blew, 'Mdama's pussy ass was able to escape, bringing with him one of our own." He showed another projection. "Dr. Catherine Halsey. You'd probably recognize her as the person who created the original Spartan II and Spartan III programs."

Mickey leaned towards the Rookie, "Wasn't she that psycho that abducted little kids?" he whispered to the silent ODST, who naturally said nothing.

"Halsey was supposed to be assassinated." Now it was Dare speaking, "But 'Mdama brought her with him before we could get the chance. Since she likely holds a grudge against the UNSC, it is very likely that she is working closely with 'Mdama."

"Okay. So we've got some old hag working with a freak. How's this a problem for us again?" Romeo was unimpressed with the briefing so far.

Dare raised an eyebrow, "Halsey maybe old, but she is one of the smartest people in the universe. She knows how the UNSC operates and she knows some of ONI's most closely guarded secrets. 'Mdama on the other hand, leads the largest group of forces currently opposing the UNSC. If anyone were to start another war, it would be him. And right now, he's already half way there."

"How so?" Dutch asked, now getting interested.

"Spartan fire teams recovered this on Requiem before it was destroyed."

A projection of a small forerunner artifact popped up on display.

"We call it the Janus key. Ironically, it was Halsey who gave it to us. Our top scientists at Naval Intelligence have examined this piece right here and the general consensus is that the piece we have is only half of the real thing."

Dare had a grim frown on her face, "The other half is likely already in 'Mdama's hands. If 'Mdama were to get both pieces into his possession, he will gain knowledge to everything the universe has to offer. He will use that information to wipe out the human race."

The room was silent. Even Romeo had nothing to say. Eventually, Buck spoke up. "So what do we do about it?"

It was Matthews who answered, "We hit those scumbags before they hit us."

The Colonel paused for a second. He was now getting to the main point.

"Some of our spy drones somehow detected 'Mdama's fleet and managed to track them throughout the course of a few days. The Covies are hiding in the ruins of Madrigal now."

Romeo looked up at that. He had spent the first four years of his life on Madrigal before it was glassed by the Covenant. But before he could ask any questions, Matthews started talking again.

"From what we can tell, the remnant forces are using the ruins as a rendezvous point to regroup and take stock of their current manpower and supplies. They've docked their ships and set up camp on the northern side of the planet. In response, the UNSC has called for a quick response force to take advantage of this situation and ambush those freaks when they're unprepared."

He gazed at each individual ODST sternly, "That's us. Our drones have positive ID on Halsey. She is currently on board an assault carrier located around the outskirts of the docked ships. Our mission is to drop down around that carrier and take Halsey back alive. 'Mdama won't be able to pose as much of a threat to us without her, even with half of the key."

"I thought they wanted her dead," Someone asked from the back of the room.

"Not anymore. She's been around 'Mdama long enough to understand how he operates. The UNSC will most likely want to acquire that information from her in exchange for her life." Matthews explained.

"What do we do about 'Mdama?" Somebody else asked.

"He's going to be too well protected. We simply don't have the manpower to get to him. Luckily for us, that dumbass separated himself from Halsey. He's having a meeting with his senior advisors in the center of his camp and he's left Halsey on the outer edge with minimal protection. That cocksucker doesn't have any idea of what's about to hit him."

"Will we be the only forces on this operation?" Dutch doubted that Say My Name had the numbers to take on an entire Covenant battalion. ODST or not, he knew the odds would be too much for them.

"Hell nah son. We ain't stupid. We're currently en route to join up with the task force designated Foxtrot 5. Eight heavy cruisers and two carriers of UNSC naval pride. We go in, take the prize, then get the hell out. Us ODSTs will be dropping in first to gain the advantage of surprise. The marines will cover our extraction via Pelican drop ships."

Now finished, Matthews indicated for the smaller man with glasses to step forward. "This is Naval Intelligence specialist Clay Arrington. He's made a career out of studying covenant ships. Practically knows the interior layout of an assault carrier like the back of his hand. He'll be guiding us once we get inside the ship to Halsey's location."

"It's an honor troopers." Arrington spoke up, stepping forward. His voice was somewhat high-pitched, but also confident. "I know the best ways to cut corners inside those monstrosities the Covenant call ships. Do as I say and I'll get you to Halsey and out in no time."

"So the guy says." Romeo muttered quietly to nobody in particular. "Just wait until we get pinned down inside the ship. Lets see what four-eyes has to say then."

Dutch sighed irritably, "You just don't know how to be quiet do you?"

"I'm just trying to keep my mind sharp."

"Hmph! Classic Romeo. Mouth always moving faster than his head. I swear, one of these days, you're gonna make a smartass remark to the wrong person and get your ass handed to you."

"Yeah, that person definitely won't be you. I could take you any day hot shot."

"Is there a problem gentlemen?" The Colonel's voice suddenly cut the argument short.

"No sir." Dutch grumbled casting a glare at Romeo.

"Good. We have a job to do troopers. Let's get it done right. Get ready to drop into hell. We move out in an hour. You're all dismissed."

The ODSTs stood at attention once again, then headed to their lockers to get ready for the drop.

Buck strapped on the last of his armor and slid his secondary M6S pistol into its holster. The locker room was hectic. ODSTs were scrambling to get their gear together and load up onto the drop pods. The Say My Name had already met up with the rest of the task force. The UNSC ships were now just a few minutes out from the target area. Buck took out his suppressed M7, clicked in a new magazine, then grabbed his helmet and shut his locker before moving on to join up with his squad in the loading bay.

His "squad" was really a platoon consisting of three-dozen men now. If he were honest with himself, Buck would admit that he missed being a sergeant. Even though he was well respected and looked up upon by all of his men, from time to time, Buck couldn't help but reminisce back to the days when it was just him, Dutch, Mickey, J.D, and yes even Romeo out raising hell and causing trouble for their enemies. Life was easier back then, he thought solemnly to himself.

But being an officer did have its perks. He had more comfortable living quarters, higher pay, people tended to take his word more seriously, and most importantly, his new status impressed more ladies. There was only one person he really needed to impress though.

Needless to say, the relationship between Buck and Dare had improved a lot after New Mombasa. The two were closer now than they ever had been before. But Dare was an extremely busy person and Buck didn't exactly have a lot of free time himself. As a result, they didn't really see much of each other after the Battle for Earth.

The idea of retiring had occurred to the weary Lieutenant a number of times. He would definitely have a lot more time on his hands as a result. But his sense of duty to his squad had held him back from doing so. He would not abandon his men as long as he had an ounce of fight left in him. That was the thought that had pushed him over the last six years. He knew that there was a bright future in store for him and Dare, so he didn't mind waiting for it. However long it took, Buck knew it would be worth it.

"How are my boys doing?" Came a familiar voice. Buck turned around to see Captain Dare herself standing there with one hand on her hip and the other carrying her helmet. Even after six years, she hadn't seemed to age at all.

"Never better." Came Buck's reply. "And yourself?"

"Quite well. I just thought I'd let you know that I'm taking control over your men once again."

Buck rolled his eyes, "Tch, you can have them. Sure will make it a hell of a lot easier for me."

"Anything to make my number one happy." Dare smiled, touching him lightly on the shoulder.

Buck shifted uncomfortably, "C'mon Veronica, not in front of the guys." He felt color rise to his cheeks.

Dare just simply laughed, "I forgot how easy it was to embarrass you, Lieutenant."

"You feelin alright there Gunny? You look a little red." Dutch snickered.

Buck's gaze hardened at once, "Very funny Dutch. In fact, it's so funny that I think I'm gonna reward you. How does half pay for next month sound?"

Dutch fell silent instantly, the smile already gone from his face. He had risen to the rank of First Sergeant over the last six years. He was now the platoon sergeant. The promotion meant higher pay and Dutch had enjoyed the extra green. But a cut on his paycheck would definitely be a setback to the new lifestyle that he enjoyed so much.

Buck smiled, satisfied with himself, "Anyone else got something to say?" He challenged.

No one said a word. Even Romeo was smart enough not to say anything.

Buck's smile widened, "Good. Let's get to our pods then shall we?"

A moment later, Buck's men began loading up onto their pods. The Lieutenant turned his gaze back to Dare, who seemed rather amused.

"You know," she smiled, "with the way you treat them, I'd say that I'm doing them a huge favor by taking your position."

"Is that so? Because I seem to recall that your leadership antiques almost got us killed on more than one occasion last time." Buck countered.

"Almost. Although it might not have been so bad if you actually did get killed. It'd certainly save me from having to see that clueless look on your face that you wear every so often."

Buck grinned, "Veronica, we both know how sad and miserable your life would be if I wasn't in it."

"Maybe you're right." Dare returned the grin, "Just don't do anything stupid."

She stepped forward and gave Buck a quick, tender kiss on his cheek before heading over to her pod. Buck put his helmet on and began walking to his pod as well before a voice from behind stopped him.

"Hey Gunny, you aren't actually going to cut my paycheck in half next month are you?" Dutch sounded concerned.

"Stop coming up with those funny jokes of your's and maybe I'll reconsider." Buck replied cheerfully before polarizing his visor and climbing into his pod. The door came down before the sergeant could say anything else.

Dutch let out a long sigh. He knew that he didn't have time to think about it now. The mission he had ahead of him was enough for him to ponder over. His visor polarizing, he slowly climbed into his own pod and got settled.

Romeo was complaining again, "What I don't get is why the UNSC can't call those Spartan for this shit. Why us?" He asked over the comms.

"The Spartans only operate from the Infinity, and its undergoing repairs right now from the fight in Requiem so there's no way they can handle a situation like this." Dare answered him, "You ODST's are the next best thing the UNSC have, so it's only natural they'd call on you for the job."

"Great. We get to go out and bust our asses fighting the Covenant while those fools get to sit around scratching their balls. Aren't we just honored." Came Romeo's sarcastic remark

"What's the matter, Romeo? You scared?" Dutch taunted him.

"Me?!" Romeo was incredulous, "You do realize that I-".

Whatever Romeo was going to say next was cut off by a transmission from Colonel Matthews.

"Alright, ready up ladies. Two minutes until drop. I repeat, two minutes until drop so no more fucking around. Because If I get down there and I see someone who ain't ready to fight, I swear to god, I'll put that son of a bitch down myself. Out."

"Amen." Dutch approved.

"Alright, you heard the man. Cut the chit chat and take some final mental notes because you definitely won't have any time to do it once we get down there." Buck ordered over the radio.

The Rookie decided to run over the battle plan over his head once again. The ODSTs from the other ships would drop first and set up a perimeter around the target ship. The operators from Say My Name would drop last and actually board the vessel itself. From there, the Naval Intelligence specialist would guide them to Halsey. Once Halsey was in UNSC hands, Marines would insert via Pelicans and secure an extraction for all forces on the ground.

Meanwhile, the ships of the task force would be stationed above providing fire support and fending off any possible airborne Covenant vessels. The projected mission completion time ranged anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour. Speed and surprise would be the two key factors the ODSTs would have to rely on.

The Rookie sighed. The mission was a huge risk of course. It was mainly due to the fact that they would be laughably outnumbered by 'Mdama's force. The success of the mission would rely on them pulling out before the Covenant could mass an effective counter attack. But the Rookie knew navigating inside an unfamiliar ship would take time, even with outside help. If they couldn't make it out in time and got pinned down, it would all become a debacle very quickly.

The Rookie wasn't too worried about it though. He was an ODST after all and failure wasn't an option. He was determined to complete the mission.

Suddenly, Matthews voice came back on over the comms, "This is it! Thirty seconds until drop!"

"Alright troopers! Get strapped and hold on tight, we're about to go in!" Came Buck adding his input.

Matthews had started a countdown, "Twenty seconds!" He called.

The Rookie fastened his safety harness.

"Ten seconds!"

The visor polarized.

"Five seconds!"

The M7's safety was switched off.

"Alright! All systems green! Good luck people, I'll see you all in hell!"

That was the last transmission made before the pods began falling from Say My Name.

The ground grew bigger as Mickey's pod approached the ruins of Madrigal. Below him, he could see the ODSTs from the other ships forming a perimeter around the target ship. A few of them were already engaging Covenant forces, though the resistance was fairly light. Mickey knew that wouldn't last. As soon as they realized what was going on, the Covenant would be swarming in from everywhere.

The pod hit the ground with a thud and the explosive bolts flung the door out into the open. Mickey quickly grabbed his equipment and exited. He had landed a few hundred meters away from the target.

"No time to lose." He murmured to himself and began running towards the looming assault carrier. More pods impacted the ground all around him as he bolted towards his platoon's rendezvous point.

Buck and Dare were already there with the Rookie and other members of the platoon were quickly regrouping on them as Buck began issuing orders.

"Romeo, I want you, Raptor, and Skinner to take up positions around the ship."

Raptor and Skinner were two young corporals in their early twenties with exceptional sharpshooting abilities. Buck knew that snipers were more effective in open environments than in cramped quarters.

"Have fun getting your butt kicked in there." Romeo smirked, "I'll be out here enjoying the view."

Despite living in Madrigal for the first four years of his life, Romeo barely remembered anything about it. As a result, he wasn't emotionally attached to the planet at all.

Buck continued on, "The rest of you listen up. This here is Captain Dare. She's a Naval Intelligence officer and our new boss today. So for the duration of this mission, we'll be taking orders from her from here on out. Are we all on the same page?"

Buck scanned the faces of his men and saw them nodding their heads, "Good. Let's move."

A sudden eruption of gunfire spurred the operators into action. A substantial number of Covenant had poured out of the surrounding ships now and were exchanging fire with the other ODSTs. Both sides were taking casualties, but the UNSC lines were holding strong.

"Come on!" Dare called out, "Everyone to the ship. Move it!"

Buck and his men sprinted towards the ship under the intense gunfire. The point of insertion was one of the hanger bays located close to the center of the ship. Buck spotted Colonel Matthews, along with the rest of the ODSTs from Say My Name, preparing to enter. The two groups joined up around the entry point.

"Good to see you boys." Matthews greeted, "Let's get this over with."

The hangar bay gates had been left open by the Covenant, so the ODST's easily found their way into the ship. Phantom drop ships and Banshees were lined up on the sides.

Cautiously, Matthews turned to Dare. "Captain. Contact the geek and let him know we're in the hangar."

Dare switched frequencies on her helmet communicator and called to Arrington, "Majestic Eagle this is Firebird 6. We're inside the hangar."

Arrington's voice came in on the other end, "Solid Copy Firebird 6, I have your position. There should be gravity lifts on the far side directly in front of you. Do you see it?"

Dare looked up in front of her to see that there were indeed multiple gravity lifts lined up side by side on the other end, "Roger that I see them."

"Ok. You will need to go up those first. Call in again once you have. I'll have more instructions for you then. Majestic Eagle out."

Dare switched her frequency back and called out to the other operators, "We need to go up those gravity lifts."

Matthews nodded, "You heard her. Let's get a move on."

The ODSTs began covering the distance to the lifts, but before they could reach them, doors from each side of the hangar slid open and Covenant forces burst out without warning, firing their weapons. Three ODSTs were quickly brought to the ground.

"Get to cover!" Matthews hollered, "Get to cover now!"

Plasma grenades landed all around the shock troopers and detonated, sending bodies flying. Some of the ODSTs threw frag grenades back at the Covenant in response. Diving into cover, Buck quickly emptied three of his clips and managed to cut down a Brute. Beside him, Dutch's Spartan laser opened up and a few more Brutes went down. Mickey had managed to claim a few kills for himself as well and Dare had beaten down a Jackal in hand to hand combat. Some of the Banshees lined up in the hangar were blown to bits as a result of the heavy fighting.

The ODSTs had recovered from the initial surprise and were now shredding the enemy's numbers. Matthews took a large number of the operators and lead them in a charge directly into the Covenant forces with devastating effect. The Grunts were thrown to the side with ease and the Brutes also eventually went down under a hail of gunfire. The Covenant were losing their initial momentum and were being pushed back. They were able to inflict a few more UNSC casualties, but they had already lost too many of their own to actually present themselves as a threat. Taking full advantage of the situation, the ODSTs eventually cleaned out what remained of the ambush.

Not a single alien was left standing. However, ODST bodies were scattered around the hangar as well, some of them still moving. Buck turned to Dutch and asked for the status of the platoon.

"Volcano, Renzo, and Nos are dead." Dutch reported with a sigh, "Ozone and Grinder are in critical condition. I don't think Ozone's gonna make it. He's bleeding out pretty bad. Some of the other guys got knocked up a little, but nothing serious."

Buck acknowledged Dutch with a short nod and closed his eyes for a second. He didn't like loosing men on the battlefield because he felt that they were his responsibility. There was no one to blame but himself if his men died. Then he would have to write letters back to their parents explaining how their sons were killed trying to follow his orders. Buck pushed the thoughts aside. He didn't have time to think about it.

"We've wasted enough time on these fuckers."

Matthews decided it was time to continue pushing on. He was sure that 'Mdama knew by now what they were doing and would do everything he could to stop them. The ODSTs would have to kick it into high gear for any chance at success.

"We'll move faster with a smaller force," he continued, "Dare, Jennings, your boys are going up with me. The rest of you set up a foothold in this hangar and tend to the casualties until extraction arrives. Alright, let's go."

Captain Rick Jennings was around the same age as Buck. He had also taken part in the Fall of Reach as well as the Battle for Earth. He ordered his men to follow Buck's platoon up the lifts. There were only going to be around seventy men moving up. If the force was larger, mobility would've become an issue, but the smaller numbers also meant that a big gunfight could not be afforded.

The Rookie was one of the first people to go up. Once at the top, he found himself in a large empty hallway. It was dead silent with two huge pillars that stood at either side of the massive hall. The Rookie dropped to a crouch and moved up slowly along the side of a wall. He knew that they could easily run into another ambush.

More ODSTs came up and started to spread out along the wide hall as well. Mickey moved up alongside the Rookie silently.

"What a party they got going up here. They should seriously think about turning it down a notch." He remarked sarcastically. The Rookie paid no attention to his friend's comment and continued to scan the area up ahead.

Once she came out of the lift, Dare informed Arrington of their position. The specialist came back with a newfound urgency in his voice.

"Ok, keep going down the hall way for about a thousand meters. You'll find another lift on the right side. Once you go up, you'll find yourself in a narrow corridor. Keep moving forward and you'll reach a room with a lift in the center. That lift will take you straight to the control room where Halsey is being held."

Arrington's voice dropped into a concerned tone, "But you're going to have to hurry. The whole ship is on full alert and they've got everyone looking for you. Our drones detect around two-hundred plus heat signatures heading for the control room. You'll have to beat them there. Things are getting pretty messy outside too."

"We'll be done before you know it." Dare reassured.

"Best of luck Captain. Arrington out."

Dare quickly relayed the information to the rest of the ODSTs. Matthews gave out immediate orders to move on to the second lift up ahead of them. The operators quickly moved down the hall, but surprisingly with minimal noise. They were all trained to be light on their feet when the situation called for it.

The first ODST reached the lift in less than a minute and was about to go up when needler rounds came flying out of nowhere and impacted the young soldier in the lower left side of his abdomen. He clutched his side and doubled over in pain falling to his knees. A second later, the rounds exploded violently, and he was suddenly left lifeless on the ground.

"Contact!" Matthews yelled out, "Open fire!"

Mickey wasted no time into going prone on the ship's floor and unloading rounds towards the direction of the opposing gunfire. He could make the forms of Grunts and Jackals in the distance advancing on their position. The Jackals were able to pick off a few more of the ODSTs from long range with their rifles and the soldiers were forced to give up ground. Mickey quickly tossed a frag grenade into the Covenant formation and blew up a squad of Grunts. Their squeals of fright were music to his ears. The frag created a brief opening and Matthews took advantage.

"Come on boys! Everybody get into the lift. Leave the bodies. We're going to be overrun!"

As soon as he finished the command, Matthews got up and made a suicidal dash for the lift with enemy gunfire coming straight at him. The rest of the ODSTs followed suite. Matthews made it into the lift without taking a single hit, but others weren't so lucky. A number of them were cut down before they could even move a few meters. Mickey and the Rookie made it up next followed by Dare and a few others. Buck and Captain Jennings were a few steps behind them and were scrambling over and around dead bodies. Buck was able to get to the lift untouched, but Jennings took a hard shot to his left shoulder before stumbling in behind Buck.

Jennings was the last one to make it up. Two more ODSTs were gunned down and the Covenant were once again massing towards the entrance of the lift. A plasma grenade went off and killed even more men. Finding themselves slowly closed in, Dutch and five of his squad mates were pinned down by enemy fire and forced to retreat back towards the hangar with the enemy forces closing in on them. Dutch realized the grave situation he was in.

"Hey Gunny, there's too much heavy resistance. The rest of us aren't going to make it." He said solemnly over the helmet comms.

"What are you talking about Dutch?" Came Buck's reply, "Just push through, we'll cover you."

"We can't. They've already blocked off the exits and some of them are following you up the lifts. So watch your back. Get Halsey in custody for me won't you?"

"I'm not doing anything until you get your ass up here Dutch. You hear me?"

"That's a negative. It's too late for me. You've got to continue on with the mission. You and the Captain have my blessing for a bright future. Sorry Gunny, I tried my best."

"No Dutch, you can do better than that. I know you can!" Buck's voice was starting to break, "Come on Dutch. Dutch?"

There was no reply, only the sound of heavy gunfire that eventually faded off into the distance.

"Dutch! Dutch! Goddammit! Dutch, come in." Another few seconds passed with no response.

"Shit!" Buck sagged his shoulders in defeat.

Dare came up and put a comforting hand on his back, "I'm so sorry Buck. He truly was a great man and a real soldier."

"He was a great friend." Buck murmured quietly, "ODST until the very end."

A sudden volley of gunfire spurred Buck from his sorrow and back into action. Grunts were coming up the lift, discharging their lethal ammunition into the ODSTs. The ODSTs closest to the lift fired back and were able to kill the Grunts before they could land on the solid floor.

"We need to keep going," Matthews pushed, "They're gonna catch up to us."

The shock troopers quickly moved through the narrow corridor and managed to get to the massive lounge without making any enemy contact. Going from the narrow hallway into the giant room felt like a mouse leaving its hole and going into a living room. The gravity lift in the center was huge as well.

Matthews walked up to the base of it and turned around to face the rest of the ODSTs. He had lost nearly half of his fighting force, but Matthews didn't seem to care. His soldiers were the elite and he was confident they could still finish the job.

"Ok, this is how we're gonna do this shit. We're gonna go up, ice any Covy who thinks they can stop us, and grab the prize."

The rest of the operators nodded in agreement, but Matthews wasn't done yet.

"Oh yeah, one more thing. None of your dumbasses better be retarded enough to shoot Halsey. Because if you do, I will make you suck your own dick before lodging a bullet in your fucking brain. Is that clear?"

More heads nodded. "Aight let's finish this quickly because I really want to get the hell outta this shitty ass boat."

Dutch and the five surviving members of his squad found themselves in full retreat back along the long hall they had come from. Dutch continued attempting to fire back at the enemy forces chasing them, but could not stay still long enough to get off any decent shots with his Spartan Laser because they were gaining on him and his men too fast. He had heard Buck's calls from his helmet, but was too concentrated on fighting to bother replying. Eventually, the ODSTs had managed to pick up their pace and by the time they had fallen back to the first set of lifts, a small gap had been created between them and the Covenant. His squad mates collapsed on the floor completely exhausted, although Dutch was able to remain upright.

"What do we do now Sarge?" Dutch's squad mate, Rockstar, asked.

"Going back down to the hangar doesn't sound like a bad idea to me." Came another named Mole. Corporal Warren "Mole" Thomas was Dutch's wingman on the battlefield. He helped the sergeant enforce his orders and typically never left his side in battle.

"No, those lifts only go up." Dutch explained, "Besides, we'd be leading those bastards straight to the others. They have wounded down there."

"Not to mention Ozone and Grinder are there too." Rockstar reminded grimly.

"That's true." Mole mused, "Well, it's been an honor then boys. Here's to one last fight. I'd make a real toast if we had drinks."

The distant sounds of the Covenant were getting louder.

"Shit." Dutch hissed under his breath.

He observed his surroundings and noticed the two giant pillars in front of the lifts. The orders were given quickly.

"Rockstar, Mole, your with me. We'll hold them off from this pillar." He indicated to the one closest to them, "Rico, Cesar, Bone, take position on the other pillar. We'll split their fire."

His men began moving to their spots. Dutch knew that this was it. It was going to be a fight until the finish. If he was going to die, he was going to take the Covies with him.

"Place the charge Captain." Colonel Matthews instructed Dare.

Dare went up to the door of the control room and planted the explosive device.

"Ready." She said calmly under breath.

With a nod from Matthews, Dare shot the charge with her pistol and the door blew open.

Halsey was sitting in a chair unmoving, her eyes staring dead ahead, cold and emotionless. The half a dozen Elites guarding her were taken by surprise as the ODSTs rushed into the room guns blazing.

One was killed by five grenades hitting it almost at once and three more went down when an ODST fired his M41 rocket launcher at them. The two remaining ones quickly went into cover. Halsey had gone prone onto the ground with both hands over her head. Colonel Matthews seized the opportunity and immediately dragged her from the ground and away from the Elites. Realizing that their charge was beginning to escape, one of them broke from cover and began going after the Colonel. He drew out his sword and cut down several ODSTs in his way as he charged towards Matthews. The operators were all firing at the huge Elite, but its shields were holding.

Mickey threw his last frag at the alien. It detonated and stopped it in its tracks for a short moment. Buck immediately followed up by charging the elite and tackling it to the ground. He brought up a fist to throw a punch but the elite caught his arm and threw him aside. Buck was sent sliding across the floor until his back impacted the wall.

But as the Elite was getting back up, the ODSTs began shooting at it again and the amount of firepower eventually overcame the shields and took the Elite out. Just then, the second one broke cover and starting unloading its needler rounds into the soldiers. Several of them were killed not even knowing what had happened to them. The second elite now also drew a sword and started to head towards Halsey and Matthews. Captain Jennings quickly picked up the sword from the first Elite and aimed a thrust at the second one with his one good arm. With an amused snort, the Elite parried it easily and delivered a swift backhand cut that left Jennings in two.

While the alien was distracted by fighting Jennings, the Rookie jumped onto its back and drove his knife into its unprotected neck. Roaring painfully, the Elite was able to throw the Rookie off of his back, but was left struggling for breath and desperately trying to reach back and pull the knife out. The ODST with the rocket launcher shot again and the projectile blew the lone Elite back. Its flying body hit the wall hard and collapsed onto the floor.

Indifferently, the Rookie walked up to the dead Covenant warrior and dislodged his knife. He cleaned it by tossing the blood off before sliding it back into its holster. Buck also got up and dusted himself off.

"I'm really gonna feel that one later on." He groaned, rubbing his lower back.

Dare walked up beside him, tilting her head in concern, "You're gonna be ok?"

"More or less. I'll survive." Buck reassured, "We've got more important things to worry about." He said as he looked towards Halsey's direction.

The doctor was eying the marines coolly. When she spoke, her voice was dead and monotonic, "I'm rather surprised they didn't tell you to kill me."

"Slight change of plans Ma'am." Matthews replied simply, "We're just here to take you home."

Halsey laughed dryly at that, "And where exactly might that be?"

"I think you have a good idea. Anyways, I would really love to chat but we just don't have the time right now. Captain Dare, initiate the extraction."

"Roger that." Came Dare's response.

She walked up to one of the ship's control panels and put in a hard drive. Suddenly, a loud buzz could be heard all around the ship, but it gradually grew softer in volume until all was completely silent.

"Shields down." Dare reported, unplugging the drive containing the virus. Then she slid a transmitter across the floor into the center of the control room.

"UNSC Say My Name, this is Colonel Matthews, the package is in hand and we are ready for extraction."

"Copy that Colonel." Came Captain Evans from the other end of the line, "We've received the signal from your transmitter. At this time, we advise you to stay close to the walls. MAC rounds have been authorized over."

"Understood sir."

"Standby Colonel. Commencing extraction."

A huge explosion tore through the roof of the ship with a resounding boom and a brilliant streak of light shined into the ship. The MAC round had done its job terrifically. A giant hole was left in the center of the ship's superstructure. A moment later, a lone pelican equipped with a troop deployment pod came into view and hovered vertically over the Covenant ship. Then it slowly began to descend into the hole until it was at even level with the control room. Two marines inside lowered the ramp.

"Alright, everyone on board." Matthews called out, "Get in or we leave your asses behind."

Mickey and The Rookie escorted Halsey onto the Pelican first; the rest of the surviving ODSTs followed. Most of the bodies were left behind, but there was enough room that allowed for Jennings's men to bring aboard what remained of their captain.

The scene was grim, especially for the battle-hardened Buck. He and Jennings had similar backgrounds on the battlefield. Buck knew what happened to Jennings could have easily happened to himself. But the hardest hit for the veteran Lieutenant would be the loss of Dutch. Buck had known Dutch for a long time and trusted his judgment the most out of everyone in his platoon. Dutch was also one of his closest friends. The next few weeks would be tough. That was something that Buck knew for sure. As the Pelican began to fly back towards the Say My Name, Buck could only hope that it was all worth it.

What Buck didn't know was that Dutch was still alive, although the situation wasn't looking great. The sergeant and his small squad of six troopers were in for the fight of their lives. Dutch could hear the approach of a massive number of Covenant forces closing in on his position. He could feel the sweat under his armor building up. He and his men were hopelessly outnumbered and the chance of them making it out alive was pretty much impossible. Despite all of that, Dutch was still determined to put up a good fight and go down fighting.

The ODSTs were set in two defensive positions behind two giant pillars in an effort to split the enemy's fire and increase their own chances.

The first of the enemy force emerged from the distance and could be seen clearly now. Dutch decided it was time.

"Open fire!" He hollered.

Armor piercing rounds flew from their barrels and towards the Covenant force. Several Grunts in the front were immediately cut down. Dutch opened up with his Spartan Laser as well. He aimed for the Brutes so his men could conserve their ammunition and focus on dwindling the odds.

"Grenades!" Dutch hollered over the gunfire.

The ODSTs threw the last of their frags into the mass of enemy soldiers. Explosions echoed throughout the entire hall as the grenades detonated. The Covenant advance was halted for a few brief seconds, disoriented and riddled with shrapnel. But then they recovered and returned fire. The sheer amount of firepower being thrown at them forced the ODSTs to take cover. A carbine round fired by a jackal scored a headshot on one of the ODSTs by the opposite pillar.

"We've lost Rico!" One of the other ODST's reported.

Then, a fuel rod round slammed directly into the pillar killing everyone there. Half of Dutch's men were gone in an instant.

"We're in deep shit now." Rockstar muttered.

Mole groaned beside him, "We've been in deep shit for the past hour."

His left thigh had been hit by a plasma round and he found himself being unable to stand up. But worst of all was the fact that when he fell, he had fallen to the side of the protective structure of the pillar meaning he had left himself in the open. He was surprised he wasn't dead yet.

Rockstar came over to his friend's aid. "Come on buddy, I gotcha." He said as he leaned out to pull Mole in.

But as he finished dragging his friend from the open, a needler round tore through his shoulder causing Rockstar to stumble forward. By the time the ODST regained his footing, he found himself with no cover and it was already too late. Two more plasma rounds struck his lower abdomen and a carbine round went through his chest. Rockstar collapsed to the ground and remained motionless.

"Shit Rockstar. Fucking shit." Mole threw his empty gun to the side in defeat, "Looks like this is it Sarge."

Dutch, having run out of ammunition, now slumped down and sat against the pillar too as the Covenant slowly closed in on them for the final kill.

He took off his helmet and put it to the side, "At least we put up one hell of a fight."

"Yeah, you think they got Halsey?"

"They better have. Otherwise we'll die for nothing."

The footsteps of the approaching Covenant became even louder. Dutch closed his eyes and waited for the end.

A huge explosion echoed throughout the entire hall. Dutch snapped his eyes open and looked around, startled to say the least. But all he saw was thick smoke all around him. He could, however, hear the frantic sounds of the Covenant as they tried to communicate with each other. It was obvious something had attacked them, but it was extremely difficult for Dutch to comprehend the specific details of what was going on. There was plenty of gunfire and Dutch could hear bodies hitting the floor.

"What the hell is going on Sarge?" Mole was freaking out.

"I don't know, but stay low." Dutch replied briefly. He was still trying to see through the smoke.

The fighting eventually died down and the gunfire ceased. Dutch and Mole peeked over the pillar to see what had happened. As the smoke cleared, Dutch realized that the entire Covenant force had been completely wiped out. In the middle of all the bodies stood a lone silhouette. The figure was extremely tall and his gray armor bore the distinctive features of the high-tech MJOLNIR suit. The numbers 006 were imprinted onto his left chest plate.

"It's a Spartan." Dutch uttered in disbelief. Likewise, Mole was too stunned to even blink.

On the other end of the hall, a lone Brute got back up on its feet and charged the Spartan. The Spartan side stepped the Brute easily and drove a hard knee into the alien's gut. A hard fist plowed into the Brute's face and knocked it down. Raising a foot, the Spartan crushed the Brute's skull with one single stroke and that was that.

Dutch couldn't believe how easy it all was for the Spartan. The super soldier looked up and saw the two ODST's.

When he spoke, he was straight to the point, "If either one of you wants to live, then I suggest you come with me."

Romeo looked up and saw the pelican containing Halsey take off back towards the UNSC ships. Since the start of the mission, the fighting outside had only intensified. Extraction had begun now and that meant that the amount of UNSC troops on the ground was decreasing by the minute. He knew that they were going to have to pull out fast or they would all be slaughtered.

Romeo called out to his fellow sharpshooters, Raptor and Skinner, over the comms.

"Aight boys, find a ride to hitch on to. We're Oscar Mike. Any pelican marked with gray stripes are headed towards the Say My Name. I'll see you back up there. Out."

Romeo picked his sniper up and retreated away from the Covenant ships. Explosions and gunfire went off all around him as he scrambled for safety. He found a gray-marked pelican that had just landed and immediately got on. The drop ship picked up a few more ODSTs, lifted off and hit the afterburners back towards Say My Name.

The overall extraction had gone rather poorly. Around a third of the pelicans sent in had gone down in flames to enemy anti-aircraft fire and a number of ODSTs never even found a ride back. Many died fighting on the ground stranded. But Halsey was in UNSC hands once again. She sat in the pelican quietly as it made its way back to the Say My Name. Abreast to the older woman, Colonel Matthews was keeping a close eye on her.

"Enjoying the ride Ma'am?" Matthews asked, trying to make conversation. "You know, it sure took a whole lot of trouble to get you. I hope you're worth it."

Halsey looked at the ODST and smiled, but it was void of any real humor. "Trust me colonel, it's not over yet. 'Mdama is smarter than you give him credit for."

Matthews was slightly amused, "Oh really? How so? That ugly little fucker is still down there trying to figure out what the hell happened while we'll be out of here in less than five minutes. I personally find it hard to believe how 'it's not over' when we clearly have the upper hand in every category right now."

Halsey raised an eyebrow, "Your arrogance will lead to your downfall, Colonel. Did you really think "Mdama would leave his whole fleet docked on the ground? There's a second force still out there. 'Mdama specifically gave them orders to separate from the main fleet. When we first touched down on Madrigal, he put them on standby in a nearby galaxy all in preparation for a possible UNSC attack. You've all played right into his hands colonel. You'll be lucky to walk out with your life."

"I think you've underestimated us as well Doctor." Matthews chuckled, "We knew there was a possibility for a few of those Covie ships to be up flying around. That's why we brought an entire task force with us for this operation. Nine heavy cruisers and two aircraft carriers. That's more than enough for anything that pussy can throw at us."

"Quite the opposite." Halsey stated coldly, "We're hardly talking about a few ships here. The second force numbers around twenty-five vessels. You don't even stand a chance."

Matthews was starting to get a little concerned now. He slowly looked away from Halsey as he digested the information. Looking around, he could tell everyone else was getting nervous too.

"Captain Dare, I want you to contact Captain Evans. Alert him that there maybe a presence of a large Covenant Armada. Tell him that we need t-…"

Matthew's eyes widened as he trailed off. He could hear the explosions that were now going off in the distance.

Halsey remained emotionless, "I think it's a little too late for that, Colonel."

Captain Evans of the UNSC Say My Name was closely monitoring his holographic projector in the command room. He asked the ship's AI, Howard, for the status on the pelicans that were sent out.

"Eighty-three have returned, forty-six have been destroyed, and fifty-two are still en-route." The AI reported.

Evans nodded solemnly, "What about Halsey?"

"They're about five minutes out."

"Very good. Thank you Howard, you're dismissed for now."

"Of course Captain." Howard flickered off and disappeared.

Evans drew a deep breath and exhaled, "Well ladies and gentleman, I'd say we did pretty good. You've all done a hell of a job." He addressed his crew.

Everybody in the command room began clapping and breathing sighs of relief. Evans went up and shook hands with Arrington, the intelligence officer who guided the ODST's through the Covenant ship.

"None of this would've been achievable without your help. You should take a vacation after it's all over Clay."

Arrington chuckled a little, "I'm afraid it's back into the office for me Captain. I'm too busy of a man to be taking vacations."

"That's not a problem. A hard-working individual like yourself will find a promotion in no time, trust me."

"Thank you sir, I appreciate it." The two men broke off the handshake.

"I suppose I should go greet Halsey at the hangar." Arrington sounded rather reluctant, "Can't say I'm looking forward to escorting her back to ONI Headquarters."

"You have my sympathy." Evans smiled. He understood why someone might be a little nervous around the notorious scientist.

As Arrington walked off, a distant explosion rang out of nowhere. Evans was instantly alert and on edge.

"Howard, report. What the hell is going on?"

The entire atmosphere in the command room suddenly changed. No one was celebrating any more and everyone had their eyes peeled outside the windows trying to figure out what was happening.

The AI came back on, "It seems some of our ships have been attacked. I'm picking up twenty-plus enemy ships approaching us."

"Jesus Christ. Alright, all hands on deck. Battle stations people! Sound the alarm. Lieutenant, I ne-"

The Say My Name took a direct hit from a plasma torpedo and the whole ship shook like an earthquake. Evans was knocked off his feet and hit the ground hard. Struggling to his feet, he saw a few more rounds from the Covenant ships impacted the Say My Name. The UNSC vessel was taking a beating.

"Howard, what's the status on Halsey's pelican?"

"Doctor Halsey has safely touched down in Hangar Bay 6. Thirty-eight additional drop ships have made it back. Fourteen more have been shot down. All Pelicans accounted for."

"Ok, good. Now we just need to ge-"

A transmission cut the Captain off. A marine's face was projected on the center hologram. There was heavy gunfire and smoke in the background.

"This is Sgt. Jones from Hangar Bay 4. We are being boarded, over! They're coming in through the bay doors! We need to seal the hangar!"

Another similar one came in from Hangar Bay 1, "They're everywhere, we're pulling back. We can't hold them off!"

"Captain, Hangars 1, 3, 4, and 9 have all been breached." Howard informed Evans, "The Covenant are also using damaged sections of the ship to board. I recommend we jump into slip space immediately and deal with the intruders later. This ship cannot sustain much more damage."

"I couldn't agree more Howard. Lieutenant, get us outta here!" Evans commanded.

But before any action could be taken, one of the doors to the command room was suddenly blown open. The closest person to the door was Naval Intelligence Officer Clay Arrington, who had been on his way to one of the hangars to meet up with Halsey prior to the unexpected events. He never stood a chance. Multiple plasma rounds impacted the ONI officer and he fell over without making a single sound.

A large number of Grunts and Jackals had now swarmed into the command room. Immediately, Captain Evans drew his M6 pistol and began firing at the attackers. But ultimately, it was a futile gesture. There was simply too many Covenant for him to effectively deal with. On the other hand, the remaining members of his crew were easy targets. Caught off guard by the sudden attack, they died without even fighting back. Three plasma rounds hit Evan's right ribcage and burned through his skin. Another carbine round tore through his left shoulder. The impact of the radioactive round made Evans spin to the left and he went down in pain.

Not a single crew member was left standing. The command room had been massacred.

The pelican landed with a thud.

"We had to land in Bay 6." The pilot informed the passengers over the intercom, "Bay 1's been overrun. The Covies are boarding the ship."

As soon as the ramp dropped, Lt. Colonel Matthews began dishing out orders.

"Captain Dare, I want you to head over to Bay 4 and contain the intrusion. Any trooper that took orders from Captain Jennings, head to Bay 3. Marines, you're with me. We need to take Dr. Halsey to a safe location. Those damn Covies are here for her and we can't afford for them to get what they want. Let's move!"

The soldiers sprang into action. Dare looked towards Buck, "Wanna lend a hand?"

"Always." Came the reply, "Mickey, stay with the colonel and watch his back. The rest of you, with me."

Mickey nodded, "Right."

A pilot jumped into the Longsword interceptor that was stationed in the hangar. He pushed the afterburners to the max and the fighter shrieked out of the hangar at high speeds. With a solemn gaze, Mickey knew it was probably going to be a one-way trip.

Matthews went back inside the pelican and dragged Halsey out.

"Come on Ma'am, we need to get a move on." He tried contacting the command room, "Command, this is Matthews, Halsey is in safe hands. We're currently taking her to a holding cell in block G. We need to close off all the hangars do you copy?"

There was nothing but silence. Frowning, Matthews tried again. "Command, this is Matthews. We need to close off all hangars, do you copy? Command. Come in Command."

"You might as well give up Colonel. They're probably all dead." Halsey stated plainly.

Matthews glared at Halsey through his VISR, "I don't remember asking for your opinion Doctor. Come on, lets go."

The Colonel began dragging Halsey once again with Mickey and the two marines following them.

But before they could move any further, the hangar was engulfed by a barrage of gun fire. Matthews instinctively tackled Halsey to the ground and moved her behind a stack of metal crates. Mickey and the marines also dove for cover. Peaking from the crate, Mickey managed to sneak a good glance and quickly realized what was going on.

"Banshees!" He called out.

Matthews stole a quick glance as well and confirmed what Mickey seen. Two banshees were hovering outside the hangar and laying down heavy suppressive fire.

A marine from the other side of the hangar shot a rocket from his SPNKR at one of the Banshees and hit it head on. A huge explosion was created as it went down in a wreckage of flames and debris. But the second one reacted quickly and gunned down the marine before he could reload. The Banshee prepared to unload into the hangar once again, but it got blown into smithereens before it could fire again. A Longsword interceptor zoomed by seconds later. The hangar had become quiet once again as the soldiers inside began recovering from the attack.

Mickey got up and dusted himself off. He reached Matthews over the helmet comms, "How were they not shot down by our anti-aircraft systems, Colonel?"

"I don't know son." Matthews was equally confused as he got up.

He knew the command room could pinpoint the exact location of any attacking enemy ship and direct the anti-aircraft guns to that position. Wait, the command room? The same command room that hadn't responded to any of his radio transmissions? Sudden realization dawned on him that what Halsey had said before might actually be true. He relayed the revelation to Mickey.

"I think Command's been overrun. No one is defending this ship from the outside."

"Are you serious?" Mickey was dumbfounded. This was the last thing he expected to hear. "Well then, we're basically fucked, aren't we?"

"No, not yet. Remember, they're here for Halsey. Not even 'Mdama's dumbass is stupid enough to destroy this vessel as long as she's on board. If we can defend her long enough for somebody to go into the control room and put this piece of shit into slipspace, then we may still have a chance."

Matthews turned to look at Halsey, who had just gotten up from the ground, "That's right Doctor, it seems you're our last hope of getting out of here alive. Ain't that ironic?"

"Don't get your hopes up too high." Halsey deadpanned, "Take a look outside."

Matthews turned to look and saw a Phantom approaching the hangar, "Motherfucka, how many god damn Covenant ships to I have to see today!?"

He then addressed Mickey. "Trooper, I'm leaving the doctor in your hands. Take her somewhere safe. Try contacting some of your squad mates too. See if any of them can get to the command room. I'll hold these ugly-ass bitches off."

"Roger that sir, I'll be in touch." Complied Mickey. He walked over to Halsey. "If you would follow me please, Ma'am."

As Mickey took Halsey and left the hangar, Matthews raised his voice so everyone in the hangar could hear him. "Aight boys, we got ourselves some uninvited guests. Let's make them regret ever showing they asses up in this bitch, houh?"


Mickey was taking Halsey through the ship at a fast pace. He knew the situation wasn't good. There was going to be around at least fifty enemy soldiers going into the hangar and Matthews only had a handful of marines with him to buy them time. Mickey knew he needed to get someone up to the command room fast. Thinking quickly, he radioed Buck through his VISR.

"Hey Gunny, the Colonel thinks Command's been overrun, he wants you to send someone up there to check."

A moment's silence, then Buck's voice came through. Heavy fighting could be heard in the background. "I can't do that Mickey, we're barely holding our own out here against these guys. I need all the manpower I can get, you're going to have to find someone else." Buck apologized.

Mickey tried Romeo next. He knew that the sharpshooter wasn't with Buck and thought that maybe the man had some free time on his hands.

Romeo sounded out of breath, "That's a negative. I've got at least half a dozen Brutes on my ass right now and I gotta lose 'em. I'll get back to you in ten. That is, if I'm still alive."

Shit. The possibility that Mickey might have to go into the Command Room himself was increasing. But the call that came in from Matthews quickly dispelled that idea.

"Hey trooper, we can't hold them off anymore, they're breaking through our lines. What is your status, over."

Mickey knew he couldn't risk a trip to the Command Room now. As soon as the Covenant got Halsey, they were all done for. Mickey needed to find a place to hide the Doctor. He decided on the sleeping quarters since they were located relatively close to the center of the ship. He knew that the Covenant were attacking from the outside in. By placing Halsey in the middle, he would buy more time for the defenders of the ship as well as finding someone to go up into the Command Room.

"I'm taking her to our sleeping quarters." He told Matthews.

He tried to take a shortcut through a narrow hallway, but saw a couple of Marines shooting at Grunts down the hall. Mickey hadn't realized the Covenant had moved so deep into the ship already. He quickly turned around to go back. Although, he didn't get very far before he found himself facing an Elite.

Mickey's heart sank. Oh, great. The Elite was slowly advancing on them now, drawing an energy sword. Mickey began backing up.

"Stay back, Ma'am." He ordered Halsey as he raised his M7. But then in a blur, another ODST jumped out of nowhere onto the Elite's back.

"Get moving trooper!" Matthews yelled at Mickey.

Mickey didn't need to be told twice.

"Come on Ma'am, let's go!" He turned around to get away from the Elite, only to be met with the Grunts he had seen earlier.

He pushed Halsey to the ground and fired at the small alien soldiers. The grunts took the careless rounds like sponges and they went down easily. Mickey quickly reloaded and turned around to help Halsey up. He turned around to see how Matthews was fairing.

The Colonel had his left arm around the Elite in a tight choke. Using his right hand, he tore the Covenant warrior's helmet off with tremendous force and threw it onto the ground. The Elite tried to throw him off, but Matthew's grip was firm. He pulled his pistol out and shot the Elite twice in the head. The alien fell face down as Matthews jumped off his back. Quietly, a Grunt was sneaking up behind his back, but a quick burst from Mickey erased the threat. Matthews looked back at the Grunt, then looked up at Mickey and nodded.


An energy sword had gone straight through the powerful ODST's abdomen from behind. All Mickey could do was stare in shock. The Colonel continued gasping and struggling until he finally became limp and his head rolled to the side. His body was thrown to the side and the large figure of Jul 'Mdama was revealed.

'Oh no.'

He turned to Halsey, "We have to go Doc- aaaahhh!"

A searing pain shot through Mickey's chest as Halsey stabbed him with a sharp object. He fell forward, but Halsey had managed to catch him before he hit the ground. He focused his eyes on the object in her hand. An anesthetic needle? Where did she? Then Mickey remembered. When they had first touched down in the hangar, Halsey had been left in the pelican for a few moments by herself. She must of gotten it from the first aid kit.

'That sly bitch!'

"Doctor, why?" Mickey choked out. He could already feel himself begin to lose consciousness.

"Your resistance is futile. I'm just making things easier for you." Halsey leaned closer to Mickey's ear, "I did appreciate your manners though. If it's of any comfort, I'll have you know that I would never betray John so easily."

She whispered the last words so softly that Mickey had to strain his ears. Then he started getting dizzy and lightheaded and collapsed onto the floor. The last thing he saw was Halsey walking away with 'Mdama. After that, total darkness consumed his vision.

A/N: As you may have guessed, this is a re-upload of the original story done by K'Pow6. He was kind enough to allow me to continue the story through adoption, due to some personal circumstances. I'm happy that he passed the torch to me, and I hope I can live up to the expectations of continuing this amazing story. Peace out!