Year: 3183 A.D.
Location:The Lesser Ark
Name: Marcus "Death's Dancer" Shepard.
Affiliation:United Nation Space Command; Secondary-Affiliation: System Alliance.
Rank: Tier III; Headhunter; Commander.
Call Sign:Onyx One.
Operation:Last Light.

In the darkened space of a Orbital Drop Pod sat it's sole occupant as he prepares for the dangerous mission of his life
as a Headhunter, in his life as a Spartan. He recounts the past five years since the start of this war as he waits for the signal.

He is the founder and last living leader of the System Alliance. The last known form of military and governmental power in known space. Earth, Mars, Luna, Sanghelios, Prime and most other homeworlds have long since fallen to the parasitic entity known as the Gravemind.

Known as Humanity's Gate, The Military Might of the Allies, The Last Bastion and The Homeworld of the Spartans. Only Reach has held the defense against the relentless Flood hordes in space, on ship, and on land.

The System Alliance was formed as the main governments of most species fell within days of the parasitic intelligence suddenly activated a device on Earth known as the Forerunner Gateway. Once the portal opened untold amounts of Flood biomass swarmed from the portal like Hell itself poured through. QEC footage of the initial wave shows metal and flesh constricts the size of houses entering the planet's atmosphere only for them to vanish before hitting the ground. These constructs, later known as "Hell Pods" entered slipspace and travelled unimaginable speeds through subspace to every species homeworld of the Allied Pact and Coalition.

Upon planetfall the parasite had landed in the very heart of the Capitals of the world they landed on and consumed every living thing. The governmental leaders at the capitals were infected and gave the Gravemind everything he needed to know of where to strike. Since then military and civilian populace alike has been trying to run from the ever growing hordes of undead parasites. With most of the governmental and higher military leaders dead, nearly all coordinated military action was halted and lost without orders until the crew of The Valhalla had gathered and rallied local military assets to repeal the parasite from Reach. Since then its been nothing but S&R and purging….

The Spartan's breath get caught in his throat as he recalls his first encounter with the entity known as the Gravemind. It's multi layered voice echoes in the Commander head as memories that were suppressed come forth to forefront of his mind with a vengeance.

Your pitiful defense is failing...

Flashes of hulking Flood biomasses as big as skyscrapers clashes with metal and men as entire armies are wiped out in a single swing of it's one in many mutated appendages.

Walls and flesh are crumbled and consumed…

Images of hundreds infection forms swarming helpless women and children in their bunker as Shepard and his men tries vainly to hold back the horde to save as many as possible.

Until silence screams the loudest…

Their cries for help and salvation are twisted into hellish screeching as the parasite takes hold. Their bones are shattered then painfully mended into grotesque spikes or tentacles made for impaling, their organs liquefied and reformed to shift their biomass into infectious killing machines.

"Red Alert!"

The sudden activation of the intercom brought the Commander out of his waking nightmares as he releases his death grip on the now ruin panels. Shit.

"Existing Slipspace Portal in two minutes. Repeat, Exiting slipspace in two minutes, all Last Light Operatives prepare for deployment. All able bodied personnel go to Combat Alert Alpha. Repeat All combat able personnel prepare to repel boarders! Alpha Company…"

The Commander tunes out the announcer as the Spartan already had prepped himself and his team hours beforehand. They were going on a mission different from all of the fleet. The Spartan deafly repairs the damaged control panel essential for the pod's functionality as the announcer gave a the pods a red light as a warning before his words spread across the lunch bay.

"Deploying in Four Mikes…"

There was a grim silence from his squad as they awaited the green light. The Long Minute as the ODSTs call it. The Spartan finishes the repairs as hears the announcer again.

"T- minus One Mike…"

At this time the Commander relaxes in his seat for his pre-drop ritual that he always does before deployment.

"T- minus 30 seconds…"

He closed his eyes, and exhaled a deep sigh. He could feel it, far off in the dark reaches of his mind. He could feel the fear of Failure and Weakness making themselves known as Dread fill his heart, the fear of any possible wrong thing that could happen to him or to his squad sets a weight that seems to catch his breath in his throat. He knew that it was there, and that it would fight him like a do deranged Jiralhanae if he allowed it to. So instead of fighting it…

He embraced it.

Five…

He could feel the heavy feeling in his lungs increase tenfold, and the weight on his shoulders increase twice as much as that as Doubt tightens its hold on his chest.

Four…

He could feel Fear in his own battle hardened eyes as it crawls back from the darkest depths of his mind, threatening to open them to a world of helplessness in which he himself couldn't protect his people.

Three…

He could feel the voices of Guilt and Hatred slithering into his ears, whispering of dark things. They wanted his soul, they wanted him to sleep, to stop the fighting, to give up, they wanted him to know what it would mean to Fail, and thus, to fail everything he'd ever loved.

Two…

He felt the stress of a lifetime of war and battle, creeping into his bones and stiffening them up. The lethargic, drowsy feeling that came with the stress was welcomed like an old friend after many years apart.

One...

Everything crashed down onto him at once, trying to break him, trying to kill his resolve and rot his very soul. He could feel the weight of his mother's pistols on his lower back, and knew in the back of his mind that if he jammed either one right under his chin, and pulled the trigger, the marble size, tungsten shaven round would soar straight through his brains and end his life. It would be easy. So. Gods. Damn. Easy, just to end the regrets, end the the guilt and the pain of war.

That's… Enough.

Like the flip of a switch, just like that. The vile thoughts of Fear, Guilt, Hated, and Doubt were gone. In its place was Strength and Determination to fight another battle, the Resolve to face the most unspeakable horrors of this war, and the Will to do it all again and again until the Valkyries call his name for judgement by Odin on the Golden Bridge to enter Valhalla.

He could feel his heartbeat, and knew that that alone meant he was still alive and well.

We are neither Angels nor Demons…

He could feel the gel layer of his family Mjolnir Armor on his hands, and knew that that alone meant he could fight.

From the Depths of Hell and Halls of from Valhalla we were born…

He could feel the familiar yet distinctive weight of the tactical vest on his torso, of his vast array of personally hand crafted weapons and knew that that alone meant he had the tools to fight countless foes in countless battles for years to come.

To kill all who threaten our way of life...

He could feel the tingling sensation of Pandora's Box implanted on his spine and Nervous System and knew that he alone held the key to his people's future.

No mere mortal can stop us...

All together, meant that he was a Headhunter, a warrior, the ultimate soldier, and one of the best and highest rating soldiers in his people's history to ever have graced the battlefield.

For We are SPARTANS

The lights turn from red to green as the announcer finishes in a somber tone.

"Deploying, God help you Spartans…"

There is no sound in space but the burst of pulsation thrusters activation on hundreds of other drop pods lights up the tinted glass of the commander own drop pod like a strobe light before he himself is lunched from the ship. For a few seconds the founder of the System Alliance sees the battle in space between the Alliance Eradication Fleets and the Flood infested ships that have their hulls entirely covered in Flood biomass above the superstructure known as the Lesser Ark.

For a few precious seconds the Commander takes in the destructive beauty of the battle in the void through his viewport before it was blocked by infectious spores that lives in the Arks upper atmosphere.

Bright streams of purple and white soar across the vast reaches of space as the planetary glassing weaponry vaporizes twisted flesh and armor like hot knife through butter. Red and Blue striped lines practically radiant from the ships of the Alliance as they fire human and scrape made plasma weaponry at smaller vessels and infected fighters in hopes of rebelling potential infestations. Thousands of white swirling lines dance almost gracefully through space as the Havoc, Archer and Hellfire Missiles fly to their intended target. Occasionally a bright orange series of beam fly across the void from a recovered Forerunner Dreadnought that was originally part of the Reach Defense Fleet at the start of the war.

In turn the infected ships of the Gravemind fire the same kind of weaponry as most of the infected ships are Human or Coalition made but there's a catch. Instead of white and purple plasma discharge commonly known by those types of weaponry, a sickening dark yellow energy beam emits from the infected ships and hits the System Alliance ships. Damaging hulls and releasing infected biomass specifically made to withstand temperatures that are akin to the surface of a sun. Yellow and green spiked projectiles shots forth from the masses of flesh on the hulls of the infected ship with trails of puss following behind to destroy or convert Alliance fighter and bombers to the Floods already uncountable numbers. What appears to be a mass of tentacles flying through space are known as Seeders act as boarding craft to reap more biomass to their collective. They move through the void like a squid does through water, dodging incoming munitions as they attempt to board the Alliance ships and those that do so complete their task with frightening ease.

Then the only thing that was visible past the glass frame of the pod was the oh so familiar green sludge of the parasites spores.