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Naked Crook
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Novak: Excellent idea. The Excalibur is capable of matching The Ulterior Motive in terms of offensive capability. Any advantage we can get would be most beneficial.

Spender nodded in agreement. He then looked at his tactical office.

Spender: Bring all weapons online.

Spender then pressed a button on his arm-rest, as he spoke over the entire ships intercom.

Spender: All hands to battle stations! This is not a drill.

Within moments of saying this, an alarm went off across the ship to signify combat readiness across the ship. Spender then looked back at Novak.

Spender: Novak...we still have to brief ODST Black Team one final time. We should take care of that now as we proceed into battle.

Spender and Novak stood up, and left the bridge. The two men walking through the corridors, making their way towards hanger bay 1. As they walked, they conversed with each other.

Novak: The Space engagement with The Excalibur concerns me.

Spender: Why?

Novak: The situation is very uncertain. The presence of The Insurrection could tip the scales in any direction. There is a lot of uncertainty.

Spender: Funny...I am far more concerned about the ground engagement.

Novak: Why?

Spender: ODST Black Team. While I have faith in 5 out of the 6...number six concerns me. He is uncertain.

Novak: Black 6 is ready. He may be rough around the edges right now...but he is ready. He has proven this time and again in the simulations. He knows what has to be done.

Spender: I am sorry if I do not share your optimism Doctor. I don’t think he is ready.

Novak: I assure you, he is ready. I ran Black 6 through some very intense and…morally questionable scenarios. He carried out each and every single one of his orders without the slightest hint of hesitation. He seems to be very indifferent about his current assignment, and his attitudes have changed for the better.

Spender: Have they really?

Novak: I would defiantly say yes. The insubordinate behavior was quickly subjugated by the end of the first day. I have refined my methods, and I can assure you…that there will be no further incidents…no matter what happens. He is ours now.

Spender: You better be right Doctor. The only reason he is on this assignment is because of your assurance. I cannot afford another setback. I cannot afford to have a soldier, of still questionable allegiance, spiral out of control and endanger this entire operation.

Spender paused.

Spender: I will no longer tolerate any kind of failure. I should not have to rely on variables. I should not have to depend of the questionable. I demand positive results. It is all I ask of those who serve under me.

Novak: To be frank sir…Black Team, given the circumstances and the time frame I was given to work with, I consider Black Team to be an overwhelming success.

Spender: An overwhelming success with a single defective soldier.

Novak: With all due respect…sir…Black 6 is not defective. He is…was…an anomaly that you thrust upon me. I was not prepared for Black 6. His development was different. It required a most excellent level of improvisation to get him this far. So yes, I do consider Black Team, as a whole, to be an overwhelming success, despite our difficulty with Black 6. To be honest, I am surprised that Black 6 was the only one of them to resist. I have done the impossible; the almost complete reprogramming of the human psyche.

Novak paused.

Novak: So let’s agree to disagree on this issue.

Spender simply scoffed, as he reached into his pocket, and pulled out a small tin. Spender opened the tin, and removed a cigarette. Spender put the tin back in his pocket, put this cigarette in his mouth, and then proceeded to light the cigarette up.

Once Spender had lit his cigarette, he proceeded to walk into the hanger bay, along with Novak. Upon entering the hanger bay, he managed to spot ODST Black Team on the far side of the hanger bay, prepping their gear into a Pelican. Spender and Novak walked to where ODST Black was. However, as they got closer, they both noticed something somewhat peculiar; Black 6 was nowhere to be seen.

Before Spender or Novak had said anything, Black 1 snapped to attention.

Black 1: Black Team...formation!

Each of the five present members of Black Team stopped what they were doing, and saluted.

Spender: At ease gentlemen. We are not standing on ceremony here.

Black Team eased up.

Spender: Where is Black 6?

Black 1 gestured his head towards the Pelican.

Black 1: In the Pelican sir. He has not been too chatty as of late. He does not engage us at all.

Novak and Spender exchanged a quick look, and then they both looked back at Black Team.

Black 2: However…he seems to be cooperating at the very least. He does as he is told, carries out his orders, and seems to know to walk the line pretty well. The only problem is that he is not very talkative.

Spender: Doctor Novak…is this going to be a problem?

Novak: How would I know? There is no precedent for this. All I can say for sure is that if he is not talking, he will not talk back. This could just be his way of showing compliance.

Black 5 spoke up. He looked at both Spender and Novak.

Black 5: Sirs…I speak from experience when I say that this isn’t like him. What happened to him? What was done to him?

Spender looked at Black 5.

Spender: That’s classified Black 5.

Black 5 sighed.

Black 5: Well….whatever happened…this is not like him. It is like he is a totally different person.

Black 5 then began to recall the last conversation he had with Tye. Tye’s words echoed in his ears

Tyber: I cannot believe what I am hearing…from you…of ALL people. I don’t know who you are anymore! I do not know what you are…but you are no longer the Eli Decker that I have come to respect.

Black 5 frowned behind his helmet. He knew that the tables have turned, and Tye was now the one who was very unlike the person that he had come to know over the years.

Black 5: Is he ever going to snap out of this?

Novak: Chances are…yes. He simply needs time to acclimatize. This is all new to him…but he is aware of what he has to do. In the mean time…do not be afraid to give him any…”difficult” orders. Be sure that he can be relied upon to get his hands as dirty as they need to be. Test him. Push his limits. DO what you have to do to make sure that he knows that out here…this is all the real deal.

Each member of Black Team nodded.

Black 1: Yes sir.

Each member of Black Team then gave a salute to signify that they fully understood the score.

Spender: Now that we have an understanding...we can move onto more official business; your objective.

Spender paused.

Spender: As you already know...Admiral Smith is here, at Draco III, to eliminate one of the largest Insurrection cells in UNSC space in order to effectively put an end to one of my most vital operations. His attack is a multi-vector attack, with a space component and a ground component. Both engagements are ongoing concurrently. I will be using the resources of The Ulterior Motive to secure the local cluster, and offline Admiral Smith. You mission will be to hit the surface, and eliminate all UNSC and/or Trust forces that have engaged The Insurrection.

Spender paused as Novak chimed in.

Novak: Remember…the ultimate goal of this mess is to keep The Insurrection alive so we can continue to exploit their efforts, as a means to expand Trust influence in the military branches. There is nothing we would like more than to totally eliminate The Insurrection now…but…they are needed to carry out our future plans.

Black 2 spoke up.

Black 2: What if we come under fire from The Insurrection? There is a high degree that they will fire on us.

Spender: Do whatever you can to minimize Insurrection casualties and deaths.

Black 2: Understood sir.

Spender paused.

Spender: Is there anything else?

Black 4: What about civilians? Chances are they are going to get caught in the cross fire.

Spender: Civilians are expendable. If they get in the way…kill them.

Black 3: Can we expect any friendly contacts down there?

Spender: You will be on your own. I will not complicate a deployment by putting my ground forces down there alongside Smith’s soldiers. It will get confusing very quickly.

Black 5: Sir…what kind of hardware will we have access to down there?

Spender: We will be unable to deploy you with any vehicles or equipment beyond what you take with you if that is what you are asking. However, you are free to commandeer any vehicle that you need to complete your mission or use any weapon that you can find during the course of your mission. DO whatever you need to do, but just make sure that when your mission ends, The Insurrection on Draco III survives.

Spender paused.

Spender: I cannot emphasize the importance of this enough. The future of The Trust...and mankind...depends on this.

Each member of Black Team gave another nod.

Spender: Well...I leave this in your capable hands. I suggest that you prep yourselves for immediate departure. You will be deploying in a hot every second counts. The moment I give the green light to go, you must be on your way towards the surface. Good luck down there Black Team...not that you will need it.

Spender then stepped forward, and whispered to Black 1.

Spender: If Black 6 steps out of line...kill him. Do not jeopardize your mission on his account.

Black 1: Aye sir.

Spender then took a few steps backwards, before turning, and leaving the hanger bay with Novak. As Spender left

Black 1 then turned to face the rest of Black Team.

Black 1: Black Team...form up, load up the Pelican, and get ready for departure. Black will be our pilot.

Black 2: Yes sir!

Black 1: Black 3 and Black 4...finish loading up our gear.

Black 4: YEs sir.

Black 1: Black 5...check on Black 6. Make sure he is still...all there.

Black 5: Right away.

Each member of Black Team split up to carry out their orders.

Black 5 watched as the others did as they were told, and then sighed. he knew that he had the most arduous of the tasks assigned. Black 5 simply turned, and walked towards the rear hatch of the Pelican. Once Black 5 had a clear view of the rear compartment of the Pelican, he saw Black 6 sitting on one of the seat, his foot propped up on a weapon case, his arms folded. Black 6 didn't even move, he simply sat still, unflinching and unmoving.

Black 5 looked at Black 6 for a moment, and then spoke up.

Black 5: Tye...

Black 6 didn't respond.

Black 5: Tye!

Black 6 remained still. He didn't respond.

Black 5: Black 6!

Black 6 turned his head, and looked at Black 6.

Black 6: What?

Black 6's voice was uncharacteristically cold.

Black 5: I am just checking in. We are going to be deploying soon. I want to make sure that you are ready.

Black 6 was silent for a moment, and then spoke up.

Black 6: Yeah...I'm ready. I am as ready as I will ever be. I don't need to be checked on like some new recruit. I know what I am doing. This isn't my first mission.

Black 5 was not used to this kind of attitude from Black 6. He had never thought he would see a day where a person who he had come to know as outgoing and extrovert6ed, would become so jaded and devoid of any kind of joy or expression.

Black 5: I know. I am not here to check on your readiness. I am here to check on you.

Black 6 turned his head away.

Black 6: Don't even bother. I'm...I'm...

Black 6 stuttered and trailed off, as he tried to think of a response.

Black 6: I'm...fine. I have never been better.

Black 5: Is that so?

Black 6: is. I finally understand what you were talking about. I finally realize what Spender was talking about. It is like having a moment of absolute clarity. I get it now. I see what the point of all of this was.

Black 5 gave a nod.

Black 5: Well...that's good. I'm glad we see eye to eye again.

Black 6 nodded.

Black 6: So am I. The thought of letting something like this destroy our friendship was...unthinkable.

Black 5 was going to reply, but he was cut off by Spender's voice over the team's comm line.

Spender: ODST Black Team...this is Admiral Spender. I hope you are all ready down there. We are about to engage The Excalibur and this is going to be a heavyweight fight.

Black 5 and Black 6 listened as Black 1 spoke over the comm.

Black 1: Sir, we are just about ready to deploy. We are loading the final equipment onto the Pelican now.

As Black 1 said this, Black 5 and Black 6 watched as Black 2 walked into the Pelican, right into the cockpit. Black 3 and Black 4 then walked in, carrying a few cases of weapons and ammo. They began to secure the gear inside of the rear compartment, under the seats.

Black 1: We will be ready to deploy on your order.

Spender: Good. Here is the plan; after we engage the Excalibur, and we begin to draw their fire, The Ulterior Motive is going to come about, and Hanger bay 1 will be facing planet side. We will be carrying out a very strict monitoring of The Excalibur's weapon cycles. You will be given the order to deploy when their point defense weapons begin their full cycle. At that point, you will have the cover of The Ulterior Motive's superstructure, and the advantage of The Excalibur's weapons going through their cycle to ensure that you reach planet side safely. We will give you every chance possible to get down there alive. Beyond will be up to your training, experience, and reflexes to punch through the breach.

Black 1: Understood sir. Don't worry...we will not fail.

Black 1 then paused.

Black 1: But sir...what about you? What about The Ulterior Motive? The Excalibur and The Ulterior Motive are equally matched.

Spender: Do not worry about me, or The Ulterior Motive, Black 1. I know how to handle Admiral Smith...and I am no stranger to naval warfare.

Black 1: Understood sir. We will await your order for departure. Black 1 out.

Black 5 and Black 6 heard the comm line close. They then heard the footsteps of Black 1 approaching the Pelican. Both of them turned their heads, and watched as Black 1 stepped onto the Pelican.

Black 1: Black Team...I trust that you all heard the conversation I just had with Spender?

Black 3: Yeah...we all heard.

Black 1: Then you know what is expected of us. I want this bord ready to go on demand. Black 2...are we ready for launch?

Black 2: Yes sir!

Black 3, Black 4...are we all loaded up?

Black 4: Yes sir.

Black 1 then looked at Black 5 and Black 6.

Black 1: Are you two ready?

Black 5 nodded.

Black 5: Yeah...we are ready.

Black 1: Good. Let's get to station, and await further orders.

With that Black Team began to situation themselves in the Pelican. Black 2 and Black 4 entered the cockpit. Black 2 sat in the piliot's seat, while Black 4 took the support and forward gunner seat. Black 1, Black 3, Black 5, and Black 6 remained in the rear compartment.

UNSC Marathon Class - The Ulterior Motive – Main Bridge – Draco System - Currently on course towards Draco III - 0815 hours - May 22nd 2515.

Spender was on the bridge of The Ulterior Motive. Spender stood over the holotable, watching the live display of the entire arena. He watched as The Excalibur finished off the last of the Insurrectionist ships. Novak was standing at the other side of the holotable, with a keen eye on the Insurrectionist ships. HE sighed when the last one went offline.

Novak: Things are looking bad out there. The Excalibur did a lot better than what I was prepared to give her creit for. This may be more difficult than originally thought.

Spender: I agree. The Insurrectionist ships did not do nearly as much damage as I thought they would. However, there is still something we can exploit.

Novak: That is?

Spender: There is above normal hull stress on the port quarter of The Excalibur. That should be our focus. If we can focus our fire on that area, we could compromise the super structure of The Excalibur, and we can defiantly capitalize.

Novak: The port quarter has nothing critical however. The typical Marathon class design does not place any critical systems in that area. It is curious why The Insurrection were focusing on that part of the ship exclusively. Perhaps they knew something that we didn’t?

Spender: It does not matter either way. In the end, it is a weak spot that I am going to attack.

Spender then looked right at Novak.

Spender: Doctor…I think you should get to the medical bay. I am going to be sending you casualty after casualty…and I need them back on their feet ASAP. Your finesse in the surgical bay will be needed.

Novak raised his brows and gave a tired sigh.

Novak: Understood.

With that, Novak turned and left the bridge, and headed back to the medical bay.

Spender, on the other hand, walked to the front of the bridge. As he did, the comms officer spoke up.

Trust Comms Officer: Sir…we are receiving a transmission from The Excalibur. Admiral Smith demands to know what we are doing here.

Spender: A think Smith deserves a response…

Spender looked at the tactical office.

Spender: Commence firing pattern Spender-Omega-4.

Trust Tactical Officer: Pattern Spender-Omega-4 locked.

The weapons of The Ulterior Motive locked onto the maneuvering thrusters and communications array.

Spender: Tactical…

Spender turned and sat down.

Spender: Fire at will!

The Ulterior Motive came about, and began to fire on The Excalibur. As planned, the attack pattern carried out by The Ulterior Motive, combined with the sneak attack, caused significant damage to the maneuvering thrusters and communications array of The Excalibur.

Trust Tactical Officer: Multiple direct hits. The Excalibur’s engine output has dropped by 31%. Their communication systems has been critically damaged.

The sensor officer then spoke up.

Trust Sensor Officer: Sir…The Excalibur has weapons lock. They are firing.

Spender: All point defense guns, commence rapid fire. All stations, brace for impact.

The Archer missiles from The Excalibur locked onto The Ulterior Motive, and flew towards their target. The point defense guns on The Ulterior Motive began to fire off at the missile cluster. One by one, the point defense guns of The Ulterior Motive cut down the Archer missiles, reducing the total amount of missiles to a fraction of what was fired. The remaining missiles impacted the broadside of The Ulterior Motive, causing moderate damage to an isolated section of the ship.

Trust Operations Officer: Sir...moderate damage on Deck 14, section 21...damage control teams are responding.

Spender: Take us about on a heading of 139 mark 16. Perform a 35 degree rotation to starboard, and fire all Dorsal deck cannons. Begin targeting The Excalibur's point defense weapons.

The Ulterior Motive altered its course, as it came about in front of The Excalibur. The large deck guns on the dorsal side fired off, impacting specific spots on The Excalibur, damaging several point defense cannons.

The Excalibur, however, returned fire immediately, as it fired off another barrage of Archer Missiles at The Ulterior Motive.

Trust Sensor Officer: Incoming weapons fire...Archer Missiles, in a Sierra formation firing pattern.

Spender: Bring our point defense weapons to bear on the cluster!

The point defense cannons on The Ulterior Motive came to bear on the cluster of Archer Missiles, but they were not fast enough, as dozens of missiles impacted right down the starboard side of The Ulterior Motive.

Trust Operations Officer: Sir...we have damage down the starboard side of the ship, on decks 6 through 8---sections 14 through 56. Several large bulkheads on deck 7 are not responding.

Spender: Begin evacuation of those areas.

Spender looked at his armrest, as he activated the comms, and contacted Black Team.

Spender: Black Team...this is Spender...prepare for immediate deployment. Enemy weapons are in cycle, and you have a clear window towards the planet. Go now!

Black 1 responded over the comm.

Black 1: Aye sir...deploying now.

Spender closed the comm., and returned his focus to the battle with The Excalibur.

UNSC Marathon Class - The Ulterior Motive – Hanger Bay 1 – Draco System - Currently in orbit of Draco III - 0830 hours - June 5th 2515.

The Pelican carrying ODST Black Team launched from the hanger bay, at best possible speeds, as it flew downwards, right at the planet below.

Black 2: Hold on everyone, we are entering the atmosphere at critical velocity.

Black 1: Ease up Black 2…or this thing will incinerate.

Black 2: Trust me…I got it under control.

The Pelican began to shake a bit, as each member of Black Team steadied themselves in their seats.

Black 2: We will be entering the lower stratosphere in 5…4…3…2…1…

The Pelican stopped shaking, as it began to ease up, and steady itself.

Black 2: We are clear.

Black 1 walked into the cockpit of the Pelican, and looked at Black 2.

Black 1: Black 2…hell of a job with the piloting…but I better not see that again unless our lives depend on it…clear?

Black 2: Crystal, sir.

Black 1: Good. Now, start scanning for any communication channels which coincide with known communication channels used by ground forces stationed on The Excalibur. Let’s see if we can pinpoint their current location. Scan in stealth mode using a no response algorithm. I don’t want any of Smith’s people catching on to the fact that someone is attempting to isolate their communications.

Black 2 nodded, as he carried out Black 1’s orders.

Black 2: Scan in progress. Stand by.

Black 2 fell silent, as he monitored the scan readout. Black 1 simply waited for a report.

Black 2: I have detected an active communications net approximately 45 Km from our current location. The communication frequency coincides with a known frequency used by The Excalibur.

Black 1: Adjust our course and heading to put us on a direct course.

Black 2 nodded.

Black 2: Already done.

Black 1 nodded, and then turned and walked back to the rear compartment. Black 1 looked at the members of Black Team in the rear compartment.

Black 1: Alright listen up guys. Once we begin our approach, we are going to come under fire. We are going to be landing and going in hot. Once our boots hit the ground, we will be in a free fire zone. We are taking kill safeties off.

Black 3, Black 5, and Black 6 took the safeties off their weapons.

Black 1: Remember...our priority targets will be UNSC personnel...and NOT insurrectionists. This is not to say that we are helping The Insurrection...quite the opposite. If The Insurrection does get in our way, we are permitted to use lethal force, so long as we keep their casualties to a minimum.

Black 3 laughed.

Black 3: I find it so ironic how we were recruited to stop The Insurrection...but here we are trying to keep them alive, just so we can help Spender kill them at a later date.

Black 1: We are not paid to think about this stuff Black 3. We are paid to follow orders. Now I hope this won't be an issue?

Black 3 shook his head.

Black 3: No issue. No Issue at all.

Black 1: Good. As long we there are no problems, we should complete this assignment with no incident.

Just as Black 1 said this, he fell the Pelican take a hard turn. Black 1 shifted to the side, and grabbed onto the wall to balance himself. Black 1 then contacted Black 2 on Black Team's comm line.

Black 1: What the hell is going on up there Black 2?

Black 2 responded over the comm line.

Black 2: Sir...we are under fire from UNSC ground forces. A UNSC Scorpion Tank just took a shot at us...missed us by a few meters. We would be in pieces right now had I not moved us out of the way.

Black 1 scoffed.

Black 2: Sir...we the amount of Hardware that Admiral Smith has deployed...we are not going to get very far. We need a way to balance out this engagement.

Black 1: What do you suggest Black 2?

Black 2: Well...this Pelican is equipped with weapons. We have a chin-mounted turret, a rear mounted turret, and wing-mounted Missile pods. Black 4 has already prepped the missile pods, and the chin-mounted chain gun. I can always pop open the rear hatch, and let you take the gun back there.

Black 3 and Black 5 looked at each other, and then at Black 1.

Black 3: Black 5 and I could provide small-arms support, taking out strategic personnel, and weakening their lines. We can fire right out the rear of the Pelican.

Black 1 nodded in agreement.

Black 1: Alright...sounds like a plan. get it done!

Draco III - Draco III Insurrectionist Facility - Command Information Center - 0845 hours - June 5th 2515.

Vixen was in the CIC of the Insurrectionist facility, coordinating the defense against The UNSC Marines that were moving on the facility. Vixen stood over a large holotable, watching in real-time as her forces were slowly getting cut down by the UNSC forces.

Vixen had a stone-cold expression, but on the inside she knew that her cell of The Insurrection was in serious trouble, and facing its immanent destruction.

Insurrectionist: Vixen...our forces on the east side of the facility have been breached. The UNSC is moving in.

Vixen: Order Foxtrot team to move in and suppress the advance.

Insurrectionist: Ma'am...Foxtrot team has not been checking in. We cannot raise them.

Vixen: Check their life signs!

The Insurrectionist issued a few commands on his computer, and then shook his head.

Insurrectionist: They are all null ma'am. Foxtrot is dead.

Vixen: Do we have anyone to fill in the gaps?

Insurrectionist: All of our combat personnel is currently deployed.

Vixen: Are you telling me that we have nobody left here?

Insurrectionist: Aside from the non-combat ma'am. However, we do have forces en-route back to our current location. If we are lucky, we may be able to flank the UNSC on the south side.

Vixen: How long until our forces get back?

Insurrectionist: Based on the last report...roughly 20 minutes.

Vixen sighed. She had become very desperate.

Vixen: Send the order to everyone in this facility...every scientist...every technician...every medic...every nurse...everyone....that they are to gear up, and grab a weapon. Anyone who can hold a now enlisted personnel.

Insurrectionist: Yes ma'am...I will radio the order to all points.

Vixen watched as the Insurrectionist she was talking to carried out her order. Vixen did not like ordering non-combat personnel to take up arms, but she was officially out of options.

Vixen hung her head, but as she did, she noticed an unidentified Pelican show up on the holotable, flying right up the west side of the facility.

Vixen: What the hell?

Vixen then watched as The Pelican fired half a dozen missiles right up the west side, cutting right into the UNSC line that was advancing.

Vixen: Did anyone else see that pelican on the west side?

The Insurrectionist that was dealing with the communications turned back to Vixen.

Insurrectionist: Ma'am...we have confirmation on the west end that a Pelican has launched an air assault on the UNSC forces. Visual reports seem to indicate that this is a military grade Pelican. The UNSC is shooting at itself.

Vixen laughed.

Vixen: Well...this is unexpected.

Insurrectionist: Ma'am...I don't like the sound of this.

Vixen: To be frank...I don't care what you like or dislike. The fact is...we have a Pelican that is assaulting and cutting down UNSC forces. That is all I need to know. Tell our boys to keep their focus on the UNSC , and hold their fire on that Pelican. Every little bit helps.

Vixen turned as she grabbed an Assault Rifle, and ran towards the exit of the room she was in. She yelled out one final order.

Vixen: No matter what...we are not going to surrender. We make our final stand HERE!

UNSC Marathon Class - The Excalibur - Main Bridge - Draco System - Currently in orbit of Draco III - 0900 hours - June 5th 2515.

Admiral Smith was on the main bridge of The Excalibur. He was standing over the holotable, watching the attack patterns of The Ulterior Motive, as he was delegating the orders to his crew.

Rear Admiral Smith: Helm...take us about, 45 degrees to starboard. Commence a half rotation to starboard, and do not let them get a shot on our aft quarter.

Smith looked up from the holotable, as he shot a glare at his weapons officer.

Rear Admiral Smith: Lieutenant...commence rapid fire of all ventral Autocannons and Deck cannons. Target everything we have on The Ulterior Motive. Get off as many hits on them as you can before they cycle their Archer pods!

The Excalibur began to fire off its secondary weapons, impacting the port side of The Ulterior Motive, scoring several direct hits, dealing major damage to weakened areas of the ship.

Trust Tactical Officer: We scored several direct hits sir. We have damaged several exposed sections on the port side of The Ulterior Motive.

Rear Admiral Smith: Continue targeting those areas. If we can critically compromise structural integrity in those areas, we should be able to cripple The Ulterior Motive...and we can end this skirmish!

Smith had to grab the holotable to keep his balance, as the entire ship shook from a weapons impact.

Trust Operations Officer: Hull Breach on Deck 5...we are venting the medical bay...

Smith frowned, but he kept his focus on the battle at hand.

Rear Admiral Smith: Return fire...

Smith was cut off again as the ship shook even harder this time.

Trust Operations Officer: Multiple hull breaches...decks 4 through 8. Emergency bulkheads are not responding.

Rear Admiral Smith: Evacuate those areas.

Smith paused.

Rear Admiral Smith: What is the cycle time on our Archer pods?

Trust Tactical Officer: 15 seconds.

Rear Admiral Smith: Bring us about, get us as much of a direct course as you can. Once the Archer pods are everything we have! Get all pods to ready...and fire at will!

Smith paused once more.

Rear Admiral Smith: Place exclusive target on their main power system! We have to offline this bastard!

The Excalibur shook again, harder than the previous two times, as the force sent Admiral Smith flying towards the ground. Several of the other bridge officers were thrown from their stations as well. As Smith climbed back to his feet, he shouted across the bridge.

Rear Admiral Smith: Damage report!?

Trust Operations Officer: We took a direct hit to Deck 4. We have multiple cascade breeches on that deck. We are losing structural cohesion in section 12 through 52. Structural collapse is imminent. A primary conduit running to the MAC gun has been ruptured. MAC gun is now offline.

Rear Admiral Smith: Evacuate those sections immediately! Get our people out of there!

Smith shot a glare at the tactical officer.

Rear Admiral Smith: Where the hell are our weapons!?

Trust Tactical Officer: Weapons are primed sir...ready to fire on your mark.

Smith stepped forward and clenched his fist.

Rear Admiral Smith: FIRE!

The Excalibur came about and fired off every Archer missile that it had prepped. The Autocannons and Deck cannons fired off towards The Ulterior Motive. Multiple Archer Missiles impacted various points on The Ulterior Motive, with a majority of the impacting near the ship's main reactors.

Trust Tactical Officer: We scored multiple direct hits...but there doesn't seem to be any fluctuations in The Ulterior Motive's power systems. However, we have caused serious hull damage in several vital areas. The Ulterior Motive is venting atmosphere.

Smith remained silent as he watched the holotable. He could see that The Ulterior Motive was breaking off. Smith knew that Spender was trying to put some distance between the two ships.

Rear Admiral Smith: Spender is breaking off.

Trust Tactical Officer: Orders, sir?

Smith looked at his tactical officer, and then his helm officer.

Rear Admiral Smith: Reverse course. Let’s move off. Take a defensive position, and begin repairs of critical systems. Keep our weapons primed and ready to counter any offensive.

Trust Tactical Officer: Aye sir.

Smith looked back at the holotable, with his eyes pinned on The Ulterior Motive.

Rear Admiral Smith: What are you up to Constantine?

Smith sighed in anger. He never thought he would see such a level of infighting in the ranks of The Trust.

Rear Admiral Smith: Do we have any updates from our ground teams?

Trust Communications Officer: Hull Yes we do sir. Our ground teams were reporting a great deal of success in pushing towards the Insurrectionist facility. However, an unmarked Pelican had entered the battle arena, and began to fire on our forces, in support of The Insurrection.

Rear Admiral Smith: An unmarked Pelican?

Smith paused.

Rear Admiral Smith: Didn't we detect a Pelican being launched from The Ulterior Motive?

Trust Tactical Officer: Yes we did sir.

Rear Admiral Smith: Spender deployed teams to the surface to stop stop us from destroying the Insurrection at Draco III...

Smith paused.

Rear Admiral Smith: He is trying to stop US from stopping HIM. He has gone completely rouge!

Smith's eyes got wide, as he contemplated the full repercussions of what Spender was doing.

Rear Admiral Smith: He is going to destroy The Trust! He is going to tear us asunder!

Smith scoffed.

Rear Admiral Smith: Open a communication's channel to The Ulterior Motive! Priority one!

UNSC Marathon Class - The Ulterior Motive - Draco System - Currently in orbit of Draco III - 0920 hours - June 5th 2515.

Spender: Damage report?

Trust Operations Officer: We have casualty reports coming in all over the ship. Novak is reporting that, so far, 39 are dead, with another 13 in critical condition, and 63 others have been moderately injured.

The Operations Officer paused for a moment.

Trust Operations Officer: We have sustained damage to Deck Cannons 4, 5, and 6 and they are currently offline for repair. We have sustained dozens of hull fractures, and several critical breeches. Emergency bulkheads are not responding.

Spender sighed, as he started to light up a smoke.

Trust Operations Officer: There is a fire in barracks 4. Suppression systems are offline, and repair crews are having difficulty containing the blaze. Repair crews are unable to vent the deck due to the airlock controls being fried.

Spender raised an eyebrow.

Trust Operations Officer: Hanger bay 4 has been destroyed. 13 crewmen are missing and unaccounted for.

Spender: Pity.

Trust Operations Officer: We have exhausted 42% of our Archer Missiles and the MAC gun is offline due to a series of fried power junctions.

Spender: Damn it. We could have used that MAC gun right about now.

Spender paused as he took a drag of his cigarette.

Spender: Can you get me a status update on Black Team?

Trust Operations Officer: Negative. Our sensor resolution has fallen below 65% due to a failure in Processor Kai 448. I am unable to bypass the damage.

Spender: Can you raise them on the comms?

Trust Communications Officer: I can try...give me one moment sir.

Spender paced back and forth as he waited.

Trust Communications Officer: Sir...we have an incoming transmission

Spender: Source?

Trust Communications Officer: Its coming from The Excalibur. I think Smith wants to talk to us.

Spender: Very well. Open a channel. Let's humor him.

The Communications Officer issued a few commands to his controls, and then turned back to Spender and nodded.

Trust Communications Officer: Channel open sir.

Spender walked to wards the front of the bridge, as he saw a view of Smith's bridge appear on one of the large screens mount on the wall.

Spender: Admiral are looking well.

Smith scoffed at Spender.

Rear Admiral Smith: Cut the crap Spender. I am not here to exchange quips with you.

Spender: that the pleasantries are out of the way, I will cut the crap. What the hell do you want Smith?

Rear Admiral Smith: What do I want? What do you want? You are the one who is here, firing on your allies.

Spender: You and I differ in our definition of an ally.

Rear Admiral Smith: What does that mean?

Spender: You are trying to kick me out of a very exclusive club Admiral.

Rear Admiral Smith: We are pushing you off the Board of Chairmen because you have proven that you lack the subtly to lead The Trust.

Spender: What I lack in subtly...I make up for in my grandness of scope.

Spender paused as he took a drag of his cigarette.

Spender: Do you want to know what has precipitated this confrontation Smith? This was all because you and the rest of the Board of Chairmen lacked my instead of stepping up and becoming turned coat and stabbed me in the back like weasels. I will not stand by as weasels determine the future of The Trust. I have given my life for The Trust, and I would rather die trying to save it, than simply allow men like you to destroy everything that men like I have worked so hard to build.

Rear Admiral Smith: Is this what this is all about? You are angry that your vision is not our vision?

Spender: Your vision would stagnate The Trust. Your vision would see The Trust diminished in its role. As Humanity moved forward, you would have us left behind! My vision takes a far more proactive role in shaping Human destiny!

Rear Admiral Smith: No Spender...I think it is more than that. I think this is about power. I think this is about your desire for power. Ever since you joined The Trust, all those years ago, you have been a power hungry maniac.

Smith paused. He scoffed in disgust.

Rear Admiral Smith: Tell me you honestly think you can succeed? Do you honestly thing the ENTIRE Trust will simply allow you to continue on with this madness?

Spender: As a matter of fact Smith...I expect that The Trust will allow me to continue on. You see...I have something that will allow me to put the ENTIRE Trust under my control.

Spender grinned.

Spender: After it is all said and done...The Trust will be operating under my administrations...and The Trust will be taking a leading role in shaping Humanities destiny and potential.

Rear Admiral Smith: Over my dead body Spender!

Spender laughed.

Spender: That is the idea Smith...that is the idea.

Spender looked at his tactical officer, and nodded. The Tactical officer nodded back, as the officer prepped and readied every Archer pod on the front of the ship.

Spender: For the record Smith...I always hated your guts.

The Ulterior Motive began to fire off all its weapons. As the weapons fired off, Spender watched as Smith tried to counteract the barrage of missiles that were heading for them.

Rear Admiral Smith: Bring our weapons fire on that missile barrage off the port-bow!

As Smith said this, the barrage of missiles began to impact The Excalibur. Spender watched as the bridge of The Excalibur began to shake. The audio transmission began to fill with static, and the image began to glitch, culminating in the image feed going black, and the comm line going dead.

Spender: Begin targeting The Excalibur with every available deck gun and autocannon. I want that ship blown from the sky!

Trust Tactical Officer: With pleasure sir!

The Ulterior Motive began to fire its larger deck guns and Autocannons, hitting The Excalibur with everything that it could muster. With each hit, The Excalibur took more and more damage, with secondary and tertiary explosions on the ship further escalating the damage. The Excalibur was burning in space, as it began to lose its orbit, as it got pulled down towards the planet.

Spender watched as The Excalibur started to lose orbit. He let a grin run across his face as he took another drag of his cigarette.

Trust Tactical Officer: Sir...The Excalibur is going down. She is being pulled into atmosphere. Should we continue our assault?

Spender: Of course we should. Resume firing. I want to see how many pieces the Excalibur can go down in.

Trust Tactical Officer: Yes sir.

Spender stood up, and looked at the tactical officer.

Spender: You have the bridge. I will be in the observation deck...relishing in my victory.

Trust Tactical Officer: Aye sir!

Spender walked off the bridge of The Ulterior Motive, as he made his way to the observation deck. As he walked in, he approached

UNSC Marathon Class - The Excalibur - Main Bridge - Draco System - Currently in orbit of Draco III - 0935 hours - June 5th 2515.

Smith was laying face down on his bridge. His vision was blurry, and his ears were ringing. He could hear the faint sound of alarms, and the muffled sounds of people in a panic. Smith then felt a very thick, warm liquid drip off his face, as he began to notice the puddle of blood that was forming below him. Smith touch his head, and he could feel a very nasty gas running along his forehead.

Smith began to groan, as he shook off his daze and climbed back to hi9s feet. As he got back to his feet, he looked around his bridge. He could see multiple crewmen, laying on the ground, either dead or seriously injured. He saw some of the crew trying to free other members of the crew who were trapped under broken and fallen bulkheads. Smith could see that the lights on the bridge had failed, and that a good number of stations were now fully ablaze.

Rear Admiral Smith: Damage report...anyone?

Nobody was able to acknowledge Smith's request, as they were all too panicked and preoccupied to even notice that their commanding officer had regained consciousness.

Rear Admiral Smith: DAMAGE REPORT!?

Smith began to breath heavily, as the smoke on the bridge began to contaminate the air. Smith then began to cough, as he heard an automated announcement from the ship.

The Excalibur: Airborne contaminants detected in air filtration system. Filtration systems are offline. Lethal exposure in 9 minutes and 42 seconds.

Smith began to move towards the operations station on the bridge, but as he started to move, he heard another automated announcement.

The Excalibur: Warning...overload in main power grid detected.

Smith stopped, as the station he was walking towards exploded. SMith was tossed back by the force of the explosion, with several crewmembers who were closer being killed instantly. SMith covered his eyes, as more of the bridge consoles began to explode, one by one due to the overload.

The Excalibur: Failure in main engines. Attitude control is offline.

Smith began to climb back to his feet once more. As he did, he looked out the front of the bridge, and he saw that The Excalibur was being pulled down into the atmosphere, and was gaining speed.

The Excalibur: Warning...structural integrity is approaching critical levels. Hull breaches detected on all decks.

Spender looked around helplessly, as there was nothing he could do to stop the destruction of his ship. The Excalibur was going down...and he could not stop it.

The Excalibur: Critical failures in all systems. Structural integrity has exceeded maximum tolerance. Emergency protocols...engaged...

Smith began to notice that the automated voice was starting to fail.

The Excalibur: Main offline...unable to re-route to backups...

Smith scoffed.

The Excalibur: Emergency Protocol Omega-1...abandon ship...abandon...ship...abandon...

Smith cringed as he heard nothing but static and distortion fill the speakers, as the ships main computer had started to fail.

Smith started to look around his bridge again, but as he did, the ship shook again, and Smith was thrown off his feet again. The Excalibur continued to get pelted by shots from The Ulterior Motive, as the interior of The Excalibur was falling apart, piece by piece.

Smith struggled to climb back to his feet, as he started to move towards the exit of the bridge. As Smith reached the exit, he heard someone shout his name.

Trust Tactical Officer: Admiral! Help!

Smith turned as his attention was drawn to his tactical office, still alive, pinned under a ton of fallen debris and bulkheads.

Trust Tactical Officer: Sir…please…help me! Don’t leave me!

Smith saw the office pinned under debris. He began to walk towards the office, but only after the second step, did Smith have to recoil back, as more bulkheads collapsed on top of the officer, burying him beyond any hope of survival.

Smith looked on in horror, as he started to back up. He quickly turned, and ran off the bridge, as he looked for the escape pods on that deck. Smith didn’t have to go far when he found a group of Marines piling into a bunch of escape pods that were lined up in the corridor. As Smith got closer, he drew the attention of one of the Marines.

Trust Marine: Sir…you’re alive! Thank God! Get in sir…quickly!

Smith looked at the Marine.

Rear Admiral Smith: Do you know anything about the rest of the crew?

Trust Marine: Communications are gone. I have been unable to reach any deck. It is possible that everyone is either dead, or evacuated by now…but there is no way to be sure. All I know is that we have to go…

The Trust marine was cut off as a junction behind the Marine exploded, sending a piece of shrapnel right into the back of his head. Smith watched as the Marine fell dead in front of him.

Rear Admiral Smith: Oh…fuck!

Smith knew that every second he wasted, was an extra second that he could be killed if he didn’t get to the escape pod. Smith shook off the shock, as he jumped into the escape pod.

Rear Admiral Smith: Pilot! Get us the HELL out of here!

There was no hesitation in the order as the escape pod pilot sealed the door behind Smith.

Trust Pilot: Right away sir!

Smith sat down in one of the seats and strapped himself in, as the pod fired off from The Excalibur. Smith couldn’t help but glance out the rear window, as he saw The Excalibur burning, going down into the planet’s atmosphere, crashing down without any mercy. Smith was enraged by this sight. His anger was unlike anything he had ever felt. How many people on his ship died because of Spender’s ambition.

Rear Admiral Smith: Damn you Spender. Damn you to hell!

Smith took a moment to recompose himself, as he began to think how he could possibly recoup from this defeat. He knew that Spender was never going to quit until every single crewmember of The Excalibur was dead.

Rear Admiral Smith: This fight isn’t over…far from it…far from it…

Draco III - Draco III Insurrectionist Facility – Outer Defense Perimeter - 0950 hours - June 5th 2515.

ODST Black Team was still making sweeping passes with their Pelican, cutting down the Trust forces that had been attacking the Insurrectionist facility. Black Team had managed to single handedly break every offensive line, and force a full retreat of the Trust Forces that were moving in.

Black 1: Look at those bastards run! That’s how it’s done boys!

Black 1 laughed as he fired off the chain gun from the rear of the Pelican, cutting down a squad of Marines below.

Black 3: I think you are enjoying this a little too much sir.

Black 1: You’re damn right!

The Pelican started to make another pass, but as they did, they started to come under fire from Trust forces below.

Black 2 then spoke over the comm..

Black 2: Watch out back there…they are firing at us again.

Black 1, Black 3, and Black 5 adjusted their aim. Black 1 began to fire his turret, while Black 3 and Black 5 provided long range fire support while they stood at Black 1’s side. The combined fire from the three members of Black Team was very quick in cutting down the offensive.

Black 1: These guys just don’t get a clue. They are no match for us up here!

However, just as Black 1 said this, several Warthogs broke through the tree line, each of them equipped with chaingun turrets. The Warthogs began to lay down fire on Black Team’s Pelican, hitting the sides of the craft.

Black 2: We have Warthogs at 5 o’clock. Hold on back there…I am going to let Black 4 takes these guys down.

The Pelican came about, as the missile pods got a clear shot of the Warthogs.

Black 4: Missiles away…

The Pelican fired a full spread of missiles, as the explosions blanketed the Warthogs, destroying all of them in a single volley.

Black 4: Contacts down!

However, just as Black 4 said this, two more Warthogs broke through the tree line, except these Warthogs were mounted with Guass turrets. The Warthogs wasted no time in firing on the Pelican, with the high-impact shells hitting the wings of the Pelican.

Black 2: Damn it! We’ve been hit! I’m moving us off!

The Pelican began to break off, but as it did, it took another hit right to the side of the hull.

Black 2: We have lost thruster control in Wing-B. Hold on back there…I am going to try and get us out of range.

As the Pelican turned and tried to fly off, Black 3 had a clear shot of the Warthogs. Black 3 took aim, and fired off a single round, killing one of the turret-mounted Marines. Black 3 then adjusted his aim, and shot the other turret-mounted Marine, effectively nullifying the threat posed by the Guass turrets.

Black 2: I have to seal the rear hatch. You guys need to strap yourselves in…because I am losing control of this bird and we are going down fast!

Black 1, Black 3, and Black 5 stepped back as the rear hatch began to close. The three then strapped themselves into their seats, as the Pelican started to shake.

Black 2: Impact in 10 seconds. Hold on back there…I am going to try and bring this bird down as easy as I can.

The four members of Black Team all looked at each other as they counted the seconds till impact.

Black 2: Impact in 3…2…1…

The Pelican hit the ground, and the Pelican violently shook, as the Pelican skidded across the ground. The Pelican showed no signs of slowing down as it continued to skid across the ground, smashing through small trees and brushes. After a few moments, however, The pelican eventually came to a stop, and the rear hatch opened, although with great difficulty.

Black 1, Black 3, Black 5, and Black 6 all removed their safety harnesses, as they stood up. As they did, Black 2 and Black 4 emerged from the cockpit.

Black 2: Are you guys alright?

Black 2 watched as everyone gave a nod.

Black 5: Pretty good…all things considered.

Black 1 brushed himself off, as he grabbed his Assault Rifle, and readied the weapon.

Black 1: Alright…we had a rough landing…but we are still able to walk. Get your boots on the line boys…and let’s finish this. Smith still has a ton of his asshole lackeys out there causing trouble…and we have to put them down. Let’s move out!

Each member of Black team grabbed their gear, as the exited the Pelican. As the six ODSTs moved away from the crash site, Black 5 spoke up.

Black 5: We should check in with Spender and The Ulterior Motive…see how things are going up there.

Black 1 nodded in agreement, as he readied his Assault Rifle.

Black 1: Good call.

Black 1 tapped the side of his helmet, as he opened an encrypted channel to The Ulterior Motive.

Black 1: Ulterior Motive...this is Black 1...confirmation code Jango-Jango-Omicron-5-5-7. Do you copy? This is Black 1.

Black 1 waited a moment for a response. It was not long before he got a response.

Spender: Black are things going down there? I assume everything is going to plan?

Black 1: For the most part sir. We managed to break the siege on The Insurrectionist facility...but our Pelican was shot down by Smith's forces. It seems Smith had managed to deploy some heavier hardware. We were taken down by a few rounds of a Gauss Turret.

Black 1 paused.

Black 1: However...we cut through their forces none-the-less. We are currently on foot...attempting to pursue Smith's forces to finish the job.

Spender: Perhaps I can assist you with that. Stand by.

Black 1 simply waited. It was a few moments before Spender spoke up.

Spender: According to our scans...a large portion of Smith's forces have started to fall back towards a remote urban center, roughly 20 miles south-west of your location. It would seem that Smith's forces are re-grouping at this location...possibly to carry forward their offensive.

Spender paused.

Spender: seems that those forces will be getting some backup in very short order.

Black 1: Is The Excalibur deploying reinforcements?

Spender: In a matter of speaking...

Spender began to laugh.

Black 1: Sir?

Spender: The Excalibur has been destroyed. She fell apart as it crashed into atmosphere. As The Excalibur came crashing down...she managed to eject about two dozen escape pods. The escape pods were all on course for the small Urban center that I mentioned.

Black 1: Can you identify the Urban any chance?

Spender: Of course. The urban center in question is known as New Sacramento.

Black 1 nodded, as he gestured his head to the rest of Black Team, as they all broke out into a rapid pace, and began to run.

Black 1: Alright sir...we are on our way. We will radio in when we get into range. Black 1 out.

Black 1 closed the comm line, as Black Team proceeded on foot, running to their destination.

Draco III - Draco III Insurrectionist Facility - Outer Defense Perimeter - 1000 hours - June 5th 2515.

Vixen was checking the wounded amongst her soldiers, as she made her rounds, ensuring that the entire perimeter was clear. As she moved around the perimeter, Vixen was in contact with the Insurrectionists inside the facility.

Vixen: What do you mean you detected a ship entering orbit?

Insurrectionist: Well...I guess "entering" is the wrong word. One of the satellites we hacked into in orbit observed a battle between two Marathon class cruisers. One of the cruisers went crashing down into the planet. It literally broke apart.

Vixen: Why would the UNSC be shooting at each other?

Insurrectionist: I don't know ma'am...but there is something you need to know.

Vixen: What is that?

Insurrectionist: The ship that won...was The Ulterior Motive...the ship that we engaged at Madrigal.

Vixen froze when she heard this. She knew that Spender was here.

Vixen: Oh God...HE is here...again.

Insurrectionist: Ma'am...there is something else. When we checked the logs, we managed to catch an unmarked Pelican being launched from The Ulterior Motive. When we compared the visual records with the Pelican that helped us break the UNSC siege...they were a 98% match.

Vixen was now confused.

Vixen: Are you sure?

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Insurrectionist: Positive ma'am. I saw it myself. We ran it through every spectrographic analysis we have on file. Every single time it came back as a near perfect match. That is a reasonable margin of error given the vastly different source data we are contrasting.

Vixen thought for a moment, then turned around, and started to run.

Vixen: Rally everyone we have. We are going to find the occupants of that Pelican.

Insurrectionist: Any reason why?

Vixen: To be honest...I cannot really explain it. All I can say is that they should NOT have been helping us. Something is very wrong, and I want answers. The only way we are going to get those answers is if we find the occupants of that Pelican.

Vixen paused.

Vixen: How many vehicles do we have?

Insurrectionist: We have several Warthogs with gun turrets...and about a dozen Mongoose ATVs.

Vixen: Get everyone loaded up into the vehicles. We are moving out as soon as I get back to the vehicle depot!

Insurrectionist: Yes Ma'am

Vixen kept running, until she came around the front of the building. As she came around to the front, one of the large garage doors started to open. As Vixen walked in, she watched as what was left of her fighting force loaded into the entire fleet of vehicles. Vixen approached the closest Warthog, and jumped into the driver seat.

Vixen: Alright boys...let's get rolling!

Vixen revved the engine of her Warthog, as she was met with several cheers. Vixen looked back, as she watched an Insurrectionist secure himself into the gun turret. When the Insurrectionist gave the thumbs up, Vixen put the Warthog into gear, and the Warthog sped out of the garage. As soon as Vixen sped out of the garage, the other Insurrectionists followed, all driving behind Vixen.

Draco III - New Sacramento - City outskirts - 1100 hours - June 5th 2515.

Rear-Admiral Smith, along with several dozen Marines and a few naval officers were moving towards New Sacramento, running towards the city as fast as they could, hoping to link up with the rest of the marines that had been deployed from The Excalibur before the ship was destroyed.

As Smith ran, he was on the comms, broadcasting to every soldier under his command.

Rear Admiral Smith: All points...this is Rear-Admiral Smith. I am currently on-route towards New Sacramento. I need all points to check in, and regroup at that location.

Smith paused for a moment, and then continued to speak.

Rear Admiral Smith: The Excalibur was ambushed by The Ulterior Motive. We have been betrayed by Constantine Spender. Spender will not stop until we have all been killed! Our only hope lies with a strategic regroup and pushback against this...traitor. Once more...all points...fall back to New Sacramento. We will make our stand there.

Smith could hear the confirmations coming in over the comm, as many of The Excalibur's deployed forces had started to fall back towards New Sacramento. By the time that Smith, and the marines he was with, had reached New Sacramento, the entirety of what was left of The Excalibur's crew had managed to rendezvous at New Sacramento.

The main bulk of the crew had setup a very defensible position around a large warehouse that was used a military surplus depot, while small teams were trying to impose a martial law on the small urban center, in an effort to get civilians out of the path of what would soon be a live fire zone.

When Smith arrived at the surplus depot, he saw some of the senior most Officers and Marines had gathered at this location. Smith was greeted right away by what was left of his command structure.

Major Adams: Sir...Major Kyle Adams...

Sergeant Carr: Sergeant Alejandro Carr...fourth division.

Lieutenant Caesar: Ken Caesar.

Each of the three men saluted. Smith Saluted back.

Rear Admiral Smith: It is good to have you men here. We are in a real bind.

Major Adams: So I heard. I saw The Excalibur come down from orbit.

Rear Admiral Smith: The Ulterior Motive caught us in an engagement with The Insurrectionists in orbit. Instead of helping us, The Ulterior Motive took advantage of us, and hit us when we were weak. We were unable to get any traction, and The Excalibur was lost.

Major Adams: I always knew Spender was a bastard...but this is a new low.

Rear Admiral Smith: He has gone totally rouge. I barely made it off The Excalibur. I watched a lot of good people die.

Smith stopped himself. He was so angry, he could barely keep a single thought on the issue.

Rear Admiral Smith: We are going to get out of this. If we can hold Spender's forces off...we should be able to call for reinforcements.

Lieutenant Caesar: What does Spender want? Why is he doing this?

Rear Admiral Smith: He wants control of The Trust. He wants to turn The Trust into some...paramilitary puppet master for Humanity. He dislikes our current policies, and he wants to "move us forward" to a more proactive role. If you ask me...all he wants is more power, and more people to fear him.

Sergeant Carr: What precipitated all of this?

Rear Admiral Smith: We tried to throw him off the Board of Chairmen.

There was an uneasy silence. All four men exchanged looks, and all knew that they were being forced to regret the decision.

Rear Admiral Smith: None the matter what happens...we are going to get out of this alive. We have an easily defensible position, and we can hold here. We will not have to worry about airstrikes from The Ulterior Motive. Spender's ship is damaged, so we don't have to worry about that. He is going to be forced to send ground forces. We have the high ground here. We can hold this spot.

Sergeant Carr: But how are we going to call for backup?

Rear Admiral Smith: New Sacramento has a transmission relay. We can send a message to The Apex and inform them of the situation.

Sergeant Carr: That could work. However...The Ulterior Motive would detect the transmissions. Could they not jam the signal?

Rear Admiral Smith: Possibly. However, we have no choice in the matter. We have to make an effort to try and contact reinforcements. Even if we can get the signal to a UNSC ship in a nearby system, we would be successful. As long as we get more ships to Draco III...we will make it out of this.

Lieutenant Caesar: Well, if our plan is to try and get a message out, our priority will be to defend the relay station.

Major Adams: I agree with that assessment. However, we have to be careful about projecting our tactics. If we position far too many soldiers around the relay station...Spender will know that we are up to something that involves the use of the relay. He might figure out what we are doing, and he could act to counter it.

Rear Admiral Smith: What do you suggest?

Major Adams: Most of our defenses should be stationed around this building. We should try to keep things low key at the relay station. That way, we can paint a bigger bulls eye on the wrong target. We should maintain a very limited defense around the relay stations…as well as structures in the surrounding area.

Rear Admiral Smith: In other words…you want to misdirect Spender?

Major Adams: Exactly.

Smith considered the merit of the plan, and then nodded.

Rear Admiral Smith: It is worth a shot. It is our best shot actually. If Spender’s people come in force, we will need to keep them distracted as long as possible. Giving them a clear-cut target at the wrong location is the best way to do it.

Smith paused.

Rear Admiral Smith: How long will it take us to get organized?

Major Adams: Not long. We should already have soldiers on the streets in the immediate area. We can deploy an additional squad or two, space them out, and go from there.

Rear Admiral Smith: I can try and round-up the last of our techs and I can get them to work on the relay station. The sooner we get them to work…the better.

Lieutenant Caesar: Sir…if I may…I have a radical suggestion which could help tip the odds in our favor.

Rear Admiral Smith: Speak up soldier. What is your idea?

Lieutenant Caesar: Sir…as you may or may not know…Draco III was a test candidate for a rather interesting pilot program called The Civil Defense Act. Basically…what that means is that in times of emergency, properly registered and documented citizens who volunteered for the program, can be armed and put on battle lines as basic infantry. Like I said…this is currently a pilot program being run on Draco III. We could effectively bolster our numbers, by nearly twice as much as what it currently is, just by enlisting the conscripts.

Rear Admiral Smith: You are asking me to put civilians into the line of fire?

Lieutenant Caesar: I know this seems…taboo…even downright…iron fisted. However, we do have the option, these people did volunteer, and we would be well within our right to do so. I would be willing to bet that we are in an emergency situation.

Rear Admiral Smith: Putting civilians into the line of fire is a tactic that only a man like Spender would use.

Lieutenant Caesar: These people volunteered. They were given basic training to operate firearms. They know what they are doing, and they knew what they got into. Sir…it is what these people wanted. They were not focused to volunteer.

Rear Admiral Smith: I know…but the idea is just so…draconian.

Lieutenant Caesar: Perhaps. However, Admiral, can you say with 100% certainty that Spender simply won’t kill all these people in the end game anyway? Look how far that pricks has already gone. He is capable of ordering a free-fire on defenseless people. Don’t say that he isn’t.

Smith closed his eyes as he thought about the situation.

Rear Admiral Smith: Alright Lieutenant…gather up all the civilians that enlisted…and arm them with the basic equipment that they will need. Brief them on a need to know basis only.

Lieutenant Caesar: Perhaps. I recommend we also enlist any peacekeepers and other civil defense personnel and get them into the ranks as well. The more guns we have on our side…the better.

Rear Admiral Smith: Just do what you have to do.

Lieutenant Caesar: Yes sir.

Smith then nodded.

Rear Admiral Smith: Alright…let’s do this! Let's show Spender what we are made of.

Draco III - New Sacramento - City outskirts - 1130 hours - June 5th 2515.

ODST Black Team had halted their approach to New Sacramento, just north of the small urban center. All six men had gone prone. Each member of Black Team were using the zoom functions on their visors, as they took a visual sweep of the area of New Sacramento that had been occupied by Smith’s forces.

Black 3: It looks like Smith’s people are spreading and try to cover ground.

Black 1: They cannot spread too thin. They are obviously setting up a perimeter.

Black 3: Agreed. They have a few tactically advantageous spots which are heavily fortified from smalls arms fire.

Black 4: Leave the bigger entrenchments to me. I can take them out.

Black 1: You took the words right out of my mouth Black 4.

Black 3: If I can stay up here…I can do some serious damage.

Black 2: I don’t think it would be wise to split up. We run the risk of dividing our talents. That can’t be a good idea.

Black 3: If we hit Smith’s forces on multiple vectors, we can divide their strength as well.

Black 2: There are still more of them.

Black 6 scoffed.

Black 6: But we are better trained. That's all we need.

Black 1 then laughed.

Black 1: So Six does talk after all. I thought you had gone mute.

Black 6: I just had nothing to say at the time.

Black 1: you have anything more to add?

Black 6: I agree with Black 3. We should split up. Two teams is all we will need. If you think about it, we will be approaching from the north end.. Black 3 wants to sit up here, and provide sniper support, which leaves the rest of us to go in there to smoke out Smith.

Black 1: Obviously.

Black 6: The five of us could easily go down there, and sweep right through...however, if we did that...we would be tossing aside a very clear cut advantage that we could capitalize on, in the form of a classic pincer maneuver.

Black 1: Oh?

Black 6: Take a look, 76 degrees to the west, 0 elevation. As you can see, there is another approach vector, very much like the one we are currently sitting on. If we split up, and get into position, we could hit Smith from two sides.

Black 2: I still fail to see how this could work. I understand that we could divide Smith's forces, but we would be divided as well.

Black 6: Not if we did this correctly. Two of us, we could call that Team Bravo, could take the alternate approach vector, while the other three, aptly named Team Alpha, can go head-on. The head on assault could provide a sufficient distraction, to allow the secondary team to swing around, and hit from behind, totally unobstructed. Keep in mind...we have no reason to believe that Smith is fully aware of our numbers. I don't think they realize that a team of six men is on their doorstep. I am more inclined to believe that they believe that a larger attack force is going to bear down on them.

Black 2: Hmmm. You may be right about that.

Black 6: The question is...which two of us are going to be on the secondary team?

Black 1: Well, Six, as this was your idea, I guess you and I could go Bravo.

Black 1 paused.

Black 1: Black will lead Alpha. You are ordered to engage, confront, and do everything you can to draw as much attention as possible. Six and I will come in from behind, and lay down suppressive fire, and we can cut a hole right through Smith's main defensive line.

Black 2: Understood.

Black 5 then spoke up.

Black 5: What then? We will actually need to find Smith.

Black 3 looked around, scanning the area.

Black 3: There are only a few areas he could actually be. I really only see a few strategic locations that would be worthwhile.

Black 1: Such as?

Black 3: Well...the biggest and most obvious one is the military surplus depot. That location would have weapons and assets that Smith could use.

Black 1: Anything else?

Black 3: Well...there is the regional clinic. I guess that would be useful for treating the injured. There is also the transmission relay if he wanted to try and send out communications...

Black 3 stopped himself.

Black 3: Communications...

Black 1: Calling for backup.

Black 5: We have to take that thing out! If Smith calls for backup, we could find ourselves in a shitload of trouble.

Black 6: Not to mention more ships coming into orbit. I am sure The Ulterior Motive has enough battle damage already.

Black 1: Alright...looks like we are defiantly going to have to split up now. Alpha Team, same as before...engage and confront. Six, you and I will sabotage the relay station. Once that is done, we regroup with Alpha, and then we close in on Smith.

Black 3 continued to scan the area. He then started to notice something odd.

Black 3: Uhhh...guys? Take a closer look at the surplus depot. Correct me if I am wrong...but is Smith's forces arming civilians?

Each member of Black Team adjusted their sights so they had the surplus depot in their sights.

Black 1: They are arming civilians.

Black 2: This does not surprise me one bit.

Black 1: Why?

Black 2: Have you guys ever heard of the "Civil Defense Act"? It is a pilot program that was approved by the UEG. Basically, it gives power to Military officials to arm civilians in the event of a catastrophic emergency...such as an Insurrectionist attack. Basically, people would enlist, they would be assessed, given basic training, and then put on a reserved conscript list. If a civil emergency broke out, such as an Insurrectionist attack, a ranking military official could enlist the civilian conscripts to bolster ranks or increase civil security. The goal was to keep highly trained military personnel on critical tasks, while conscripted civilians would take care of the low priority defense.

Black 6: Unbelievable. Couldn't that backfire in a huge way?

Black 2: Potentially. However, the military is very strict on who they allow to volunteer to be put on the conscript reserve. Apparently there is a very in-depth psychological evaluation. The standards are quite high, but most people are healthy enough to enlist.

Black 5: I think we are missing the bigger picture here guys. We are going to have to shoot civilians. They may be armed...but they are still civilians.

Black 6: Insurrectionists are also definition. Have you ever refused to pull the trigger then?

Black 5:

Black 6: Exactly. If it has a gun pointed at you...kill it. No exceptions.

As Black 6 spoke, Black 3 continued to scan the area with his Sniper Rifle.

Black 3: From what I can tell...all of the unarmed civilians are being rounded up inside of the New Sacramento Community Center. I guess they want to keep the unarmed people out of the line of fire.

Black 6 interjected.

Black 6: Who cares. Chances are they are going to get killed anyway. We're not here to check our fire. We are here to open fire. I have no intention of sparing anyone.

Black 6 looked at Black 1.

Black 6: I am ready to move out when you are. The longer we wait, the more fortified Smith's forces will become.

Black 1 then nodded to Black 6.

Black 1: Alright...let's move out.

Black 1 then looked at Black 2.

Black 1: I will signal you when we are in position. When I give the signal, we will engage.

Black 2: Aye sir.

Black 1 and Black 6 began to move back, to get out of sight, and they began to circle around. The two men moved quickly, and silently, as they moved towards their new strategic position. As they got close, Black 1 broke the silence.

Black 1: So Black you think you can handle this?

Black 6: Why would I be unable to?

Black 1: Well...this is the first op we have been on since...

Black 6: Since I was stripped of my command of this team?

Black 1: Yeah...that.

Black 6: Is it that though? How about after we all figured out that we were all lied to. I know what you are asking Black 1. You are asking if I am as committed to this as you are.

Black 1: I didn't want to be THAT blunt about it. But yeah...are you?

Black 6: Absolutely.

Black 1: Are you sure? The last time we actually and I were at odds. We didn't exactly agree.

Black 6: You're right. We didn't agree. However...I just needed a bit of persuasion. The past few days have been enlightening. I can now appreciate what Spender is trying to do.

Black 1: You do know what he is trying to do?

Black 6: Of course; he is trying to take over The any means necessary.

Black 1: Yeah. However...its more than that.

Black 1 paused.

Black 1: Don't you feel...different? You are basically the polar opposite of who you were.

Black 6: What's your point?

Black 1: I am surprised you have not even thought about that.

Black 6: believe me...I have. I have had a lot of time to think. The fact is...I was wrong. I didn't understand what Spender was trying to do. However...I get it now. It makes sense. I completely understand

Black 1: Well...that's good. That is very good to hear.

Black 6: Don't can count on me.

Black 1 stopped, and Black 6 did the same. Black 1 simply looked at Black 6.

Black 1: So there are no hard feelings?

Black 6: Hard feelings?

Black 1: I mean...we were really butting heads a few days ago. We flat-out attacked you on The Ulterior Motive.

Black 6: You were doing your job because I wasn't doing mine. I'm not going to hold it against you because I was out of line.

Black 1: Right. I get it. I just want to be absolutely clear on all points. You are a good soldier Tye. We would hate to lose you. I don't want there to be any bad blood.

Black 1 paused.

Black 1: We are a very tight knit group Tye. The five of us...we are like brothers. We have all been so much while having each other's backs.

Black 6: The sense of comradery is not lost on me.

Black 1: We consider you part of that family now. We don't want to lose you.

Black 6: I understand. Trust me Jonas...I'm fine now. I had a rough start...but I am fine now.

Black 1: Alright...alright.

Black 1 sighed, as he hung his head. He paused for a moment, and then looked back up to Black 6.

Black 1: When we went head to head on The Ulterior Motive...I said some things that...I shouldn't have. I'm sorry. It was tough for all of us...but that is no excuse.

Black 6: Think nothing of it Jonas. It was tough, but we got through it.

Black 6 paused.

Black 6: It's all behind us now. Now we have a mission to stay focused on. Let's keep our heads in the game. When we are done here...when we get back to the Ulterior Motive...the drinks will be on me.

Black 1 gave a chuckle, as he turned and continued onwards. Black 6 followed behind Black 1. When the two men had reached their new position, Black 1 contacted Black 2 over the comm.

Black 1: Black you copy?

Black 2: Loud and clear. Everyone on this end has you on the horn.

Black 1: Black 6 and I are in position. We are ready to move in if you are.

Black 2: We are as ready as we can get.

Black 1: Alright...go!

Black 1 and Black 6 could see the other members of Black Team move in.

Black 1: After they fire the first shot, that is when we move it.

Black 6: Right.

Black 1: We go for the transmission relay...and we destroy it.

Black 6 nodded. As Black 6 nodded, an explosion rang out. Both Black 1 and Black 6 could see that Black 4 had fired off a rocket, and had destroyed a turret encampment which had been defending their point of ingress.

Both Black 1 and Black 6 could then hear Black 3 speaking over the comm line.

Black 3: Alright have hostiles closing in. They are responding to your attack.

Black 4: Can you trim their numbers?

Black 3: I will see what I can do.

Black 1 and Black 6 started to move in, as they heard the sounds of Black 3's Sniper Rifle ring out, and echo across the valley. Four shots rang out before there was a pause, and Black 3 reported in.

Black 3: Four contacts down. Reloading.

Black 1 and Black 6 started to move into the urban area, moving in totally unopposed due to the assault that was being carried out by the other members of Black team. Black 1 and Black 6 moved quickly, silently, moving from building to building, sticking to cover as they moved. Their only intent was to get to the transmission relay, and they were going to let nothing get in their way.

However, as Black 1 and Black 6 moved in, they were soon spotted by a passing patrol, and came under fire from a large group of law enforcement officers, and civilian conscripts, numbering 15 men in total. The civilians were armed with handguns, while the law enforcement officers were armed with automatic weapons. The large group stood on the road, with most of them breaking off to find cover behind street benches and parked cars.

Black 1 and Black 6, on the other hand, were forced to take cover behind a large statue.

Civilian Conscript: Over there…behind that statue!

Black 1 and Black 6 took cover as a hail of bullets rained down on their general location.

Black 6: They have us outnumbered. With that many people shooting, they are bounds to hit us if we move out of this position.

Black 1: Agreed. We are just going to have to fight through this.

Black 1 paused.

Black 1: On my mark, we emerge from cover, and we lay down suppressive fire on our entire field of view. You take the left, I will take the right.

Black 1 paused, as he looked at Black 6. Black 1 then looked down as he grabbed a grenade of his belt. Black 6 saw what Black 1 was doing, and followed suit, grabbing a grenade off of his belt as well.

Black 1: Pull the pin...throw...and then open fire.

Black 1 and Black 6 both pulled their pins, and tossed them over the statue they were behind. Both grenades went in opposite directions, as they flew towards the conscripted civilians and the law enforcement officers.

Civilian Conscript: Grenades!

Black 1 and Black 6 heard the gun fire die down, as they both stood up from cover, and began to sweep the area in front of them with gunfire. Both Black 1 and Black 6 were able to cut down several Civilians and Police Officers in their sweep, as the rest began to fall back, and withdraw, knowing that they were clearly being outgunned and out-skilled.

Civilian Conscript: Shit guys...fall back! Fall back!

The last of the civilians and Police Officers began to retreat, as they blind fired at Black 1's and Black 6's general directions. All of the shots went wide, as they were nowhere near hitting Black 1 and Black 6. Both men realized this, so they began to move forward, moving in pursuit, gunning down the retreating combatants, one by one, with precise shots. It was not long before Black 1 and Black 6 had cleared the area, and continued moving forward.

Black 1: Area clear. Moving onwards. Target is 60 meters dead ahead. We have visuals on the relay, and there seems to be very minor resistance.

Black 1 paused.

Black 1: Black you copy?

Black 3: Loud and clear boss.

Black 1: Black 3...I need you to scope out the relay, and make sure that there are no snipers or long range personnel protecting the relay.

Black 3: Standby...

Black 1 and Black 6 moved into cover, as they waited for the update from Black 3.

Black 3: negative. No sharpshooters in the immediate area.

Black 6: Hostile count?

Black 3: I count 9 Marines...standard issue. All 9 Marines are in defensive positions. It seems that a few metal barricades have been set up to act as a means of cover from any direct assault. I have a clear shot on all of the hostiles in question. Do you want me to start taking the shots?

Black 1: Negative. We can handle these guys. Continue supply cover fire for Black 2, Black 4, and Black 5.

Black 3: Aye sir.

Black 1 then looked at Black 6, as he gestured his hand forward. Black 6 nodded, and began to move forward, taking point. Black 6 moved forward, swiftly and silently towards the relay station. As Black 6 got closer, he heard Black 1 speak to him.

Black 1: I will cover you from back here. Black 6...move in and engage.

Black 6 nodded, as he drew his second SMG from his holster, and charged towards the relay station. Black 6 ran towards the relay station, raising both of his SMGs, and began to open fire. Black 6 swept across his field of view, immediately drawing the attention of the Trust marines that were guarding the relay station. The hail of bullets that had been unleashed by Black 6 forced the Trust marines to seek any cover they could find.

Trust Marine: Contact spotted! All points...we have a single contact at the relay station! Requesting reinforcements!

Black 6 continued to charge towards the relay station, as he jumped over one of the large metal barricades. When his feet had hit the ground, Black 6 quickly turned around, as he saw two Trust Marines look up at him.

Trust Marine: Holy shit...

Black 6 wasted no time, as he fired both of his SMGs into the two Marines at point blank range, killing them both. As Black 6 watched the two marines fall into a pool of their blood, he heard the sound of more Marines approaching, with one of them issuing orders to the others.

Trust Marine Sergeant: Live fire...shoot to kill!

Black 6 turned 90 degrees to the left, as he raised his SMGs, and watched as more Marines came around the corner of the building. Black 6 pulled the triggers on his SMG, as he cut the Marines down as they turned the corner. As soon as the Marines fell, Black 6 ejected the clips from his SMG, and started to reload. As Black 6 was reloading, he started to move around the building, fully intent on moving forward with the mission.

It did not take Black 6 to ready his weapons, as he raised them once more. As Black 6 turned the corner around the building, he saw a squad of Trust Marines converging on his location. Black 6 took aim with his SMGs and opened fire on the Trust Marines, cutting through them like he had done the others, quickly killing the hostiles in front of him with precise and controlled bursts from his SMGs. Black 6 never stopped moving for an instant, as he essentially was walking through whatever Smith could throw at him.

Further behind, Black 1 watched from a distance as Black 6 showed little to no difficulty with his task. Black 1 was quite amazed with how Black 6 has managed to steel himself. The change in Black 6 was more obvious than ever.

Black 1: He is just mowing through these guys. He doesn't even stop.

Black 1 grinned under his helmet.

Black 1: He is a machine! He doesn't even stop!

Black 1 had to admire the way Black 6 applied his methods and tactics with a very obvious and ruthless aggression. It was very obvious to Black 1 that Black 6 had defiantly changed. No longer did he see the man who had experienced cold feet concerning the nature of The Trust's work.

Black 1: It is good to see that he has finally snapped out of his paranoia.

Black 1's focus was then broken when he heard the sound of multiple Warthogs approaching in the distance.

Black 1: What the hell is that noise? Sounds like...Warthogs.

Black 1 turned, and looked into the distance. When he did this, he saw a dozen Warthogs speeding towards his general direction. However, The group of Warthogs broke off into several smaller groups, as they all went in separate directions, as if they were fanning out across the area.

As Black 1 watched, he was contacted over the comm by Black 3.

Black 3: Boss...we have Warthogs inbound.

Black 1: I know. I just saw the whole group of them break into smaller kill packs. Was Smith able to call for reinforcements?

Black 3: I don't think so. Upon closer inspection of those Warthogs...they look like The Insurrection.

Black 1: Why the hell are they here?

Black 3: Who knows. Retaliation perhaps?

Black 1: This is a complication we did not need.

Black 3: Perhaps. If they are here to kill Smith...I say we let them. As long as Smith dies...that is all that matters...right?

Black 1: I guess that is another way of looking at it.

Black 1 then heard Black 2 chime in over the comm.

Black 2: we change our attack plan...or do we continue forward?

Black 1 considered what Black 2 had asked.

Black 1: We should be able to continue onwards with our current attack plan. However, if any of you come under fire from any of these Insurrectionist pricks...

Before Black 1 could finish his sentence, he was cut off when a Warthog had turned around the corner, squealing its tires. The Gunner on the back of the Turret took aim at Black 1.

Insurrectionist: Look...there is one over there!

The Turret on the Warthog began to spin up, as Black 1 raised his Assault Rifle and took aim at the gunner, and began to fire. The first several shots bounced off of the bullet shield, with a single round managing to hit the Insurrectionist right between the eyes.

Black 1 then lowered his aim, and took aim at the driver, through the windshield, and began to fire off the rest of his clip. Black 1 had killed the driver of the Warthog, hitting the driver with so many bullets, that his body fell out of the side of the Warthog.

Black 1 began to reload, as he heard the other members of Black Team calling out to him over the comm.

Black 2: you copy? Are you there?

Black 1 laughed, as he got back to his feet.

Black 1: Yeah...I'm here. As I was saying...if any of you come under fire from The Insurrection...feel free to use lethal force to defend yourselves.

Black 1 paused.

Black 1: With that said...I am going to try and keep The Insurrection away from the relay station. Black 6; I want you to continue onwards, get inside that relay station, and decommission it.

Black 1 waited a moment for Black 6 to respond.

Black 1: Black you copy?

Black 6: Yeah...I hear you. I was just finishing my sweep.

Black 1: You know what you have to do?

Black 6: Yes...I know exactly what I have to do.

The sound of gunfire could be heard over the comm.

Black 6: I am closing in on the relay now. I am about to start rigging up a batch of C4.

Black 1: Alright. Good work Six. We will do our best out here to try and keep all these pricks off your back while you work.

Black 6: Much appreciated.

Black 1 began to reload his Assault Rifle as he dashed outwards, holding true to his commitment.

Not too far away, Black 2, Black 4, and Black 5 were holding their own against dozens of Trust marines, and conscripted civilians. The three men were behind any cover they could find, slowing picking off hostile forces one by one. However, the sheer number of hostile forces meant that the three men had to pick their shots very carefully, as they had a finite amount of ammo.

Black 2: How are you guys doing for ammo out there?

Black 4 gave a thumbs up.

Black 4: I still have a few good rockets, and half a dozen clips for my Automag.

Black 5 sighed.

Black 5: I am on my last clip for my DMR...and my Automag is dry.

Black 4: Do you need a few clips for your Automag?

Black 5: will need them. I have a better idea.

Black 5 holstered his DMR on his back and drew his blade. Black 5 then scopped out the enemy line, as he gripped the blade in his hand.

Black 5: Black 2, Black 4...keep your heads down.

Black 2: Five...are you going to do what I think you are going to do?

Black 5: Charge in there and cut these pricks up like onions? Yeah...

Black 4: Psssh...that's nasty.

Black 2 then sighed.

Black 2: Alright...let us know when you cross their line. Black 4 and I will provide cover for you while you slice and dice.

Black 5 chuckled when he heard what Black 2 said.

Black 4: Good luck Five.

Black 5 took a deep breath, as he jumped over his cover, and began to charge the enemy line. Black then extended his arm outwards, holding his sword to the side, as he charged to the enemy line.

The Trust marines all took aim at Black 5, as they began to open fire. However, every bullet that was fired at Black 5 was redirected away.

Trust Marine: What the hell? Why can't we hit this prick!?

The Trust marines began to back up.

Trust Marine: Fucking shoot that guy! Fucking shoot him!

Black 5 jumps over the sandbag barrier that the Trust marines were taking cover behind, as he slashed at two marines who were in his direct path. Black 5's blade cut through both marines in a single swipe, cutting both marines at the waist level.

The other Marines looks on in horror, as some of them dropped their Assault Rifles in sheer terror.

Trust Marine: What the fuck man!?

Black 5 charged at a group of Marines, and slashed through them one by one, cutting off arms, legs, and going so far as to disconnect the upper body from the lower body.

Trust Marine: Scatter! Fall back!

What was left of the Trust marines, and the civilian conscripts began to scatter and run in different directions, trying to get away from Black 5. This was when Black 2 and Black 4 emerged from cover, and started to pick of the runners, one by one. Black 3 even managed to capitalize by taking several shots at the Trust Marines that were in retreat.

Black 2 and Black 4 regrouped with Black 5. Black 2 was laughing, as he patted Black 5 on the back.

Black 2: Damn it man...that never gets old. Nice work with the sword.

Black 5: Thanks.

Just as Black 5 said this, the sound of a Warthog turning the corner caught the attention of Black 2, Black 4, and Black 5. The Warthog had a chaingun on the back, that was manned by an Insurrectionist. Black 2, Black 4, and Black 5 watched as the chaingun spun around and took aim at them.

Black 5: Get behind me!

Black 5 moved in front of Black 2 and Black 4, standing between them and the Warthog, and held his blade up. As he did, the Warthog turret operator began to fire the chaingun. As Black 5 held the blade up, and deflected the hail of bullets, Black 5 turned his head and spoke to Black 2 and Black 4.

Black 5: Stay close...move with me!

Black 5 looked back at the Warthog that was still firing, and started to walk forward, pushing through the gunfire.

Insurrectionist: Come on your prick! Die!

The Insurrectionist on the turret had to release the trigger due to the fact that his chaingun had overheated.

Insurrectionist: Damn it!

Black 5 took this as an opportunity to charge at the Warthog to kill the gunner. Black 2 and Black 4 moved to opposite sides, and shot the driver through the windshield, while Black 5 jumped up, and up on the hood of the Warthog, and swung his blade, and decapitated the Insurrectionist that was manning the turret.

Black 5 watched as the head of the Insurrectionist fell to the ground, and the body fell to the opposite side.

Black 2: Good work Five.

Black 5 look down at Black 2 and nodded.

Black 5: I'm thinking we should take the Warthog. It will help us cover more ground.

Black 2 and Black 4 nodded in agreement. Black 4 jumped into the driver seat while Black 2 took the passenger seat. Black 5 jumped into the turret.

Black 5: Let's find Black 1 and regroup with him.

Just as Black 5 said this, Black 3 chimed in over the comm line.

Black 3: Black 1 is about 100 meters north of your location. He is currently engaged about a dozen Insurrectionists and several Trust marines. There is a pretty hectic three way firefight going on.

Black 5: Alright Four...put your boot down and get us to Black 1's location. Black 3...provide cover support for Black 1.

The Warthog carrying Black 2, Black 4, and Black 5 turned around, and sped off towards Black 1's position.


Unbeknownst to Black 2, Black 4, and Black 5, they were being watched from a distance. Vixen had been watching the three members of Black Team through a pair of binoculars.

Vixen: Who the fuck are these guys? They are LITERALLY cutting through opposition without even breaking a sweat. They are outnumbered and outgunned, yet they are still standing.

Vixen adjusted her sights, and gave a visual inspection of the relay station.

Vixen: These guys are clearly special ops...yet they seem to have missed one vital location...

Just as Vixen said this, she spotted Black 6 running from the relay station.

Vixen: What do we have here? Another one?

Vixen watched as Black 6 continued to put distance between himself and the relay station.

Vixen: This guy is hauling ass. For what reason?

Vixen then heard a loud explosion, as she looked back at the relay station, as a large portion of the building had been damaged. She watched as a large transmission dish started to come crashing to the ground, as what was left of the building started to burn to the ground.

Vixen: Looks like I was wrong. These guys didn't miss anything.

Vixen watched as Black 6 moved.

Vixen: These guys are defiantly a type of Spec-Ops. I defiantly have to keep an eye on these guys. I have no idea why these guys are just killing everything in sight. It is like they do not care who is in their iron sights. They seem to be killing UNSC Marines and Insurrectionists alike. Why? I get why they would be killing Insurrectionists...but other UNSC Marines? It does not make sense.

Vixen shifted her sights back to the other members of Black Team. She watched how Black 1 was holding his own against very steep odds, and she watched how the Warthog under the control of Black 2, Black 4, and Black 5 moved quickly, steadily, and without any difficulty, as the vehicle mowed down both Trust Marines and Insurrectionists.

Vixen then lowered her binoculars, and turned to the group of Insurrectionists that were standing behind her.

Vixen: I am going to order all of our forces to fall back. There is no point in wasting manpower trying to kill those Black ODSTs. They are too well trained to be taken down by conventional means. We are going to need to regroup and get a different approach.

The Insurrectionists nodded.

Insurrectionist: What do you have in mind?

Vixen was silent for a moment.

Vixen: Truthfully? Nothing at the moment...but it will come to me.

Vixen shook her head and sighed, as she contacted what was left of her forces.

Vixen: Attention all points...this is Vixen. Fall back...repeat...fall back! We need to regroup. This offensive isn't working! I want all forces to fall back towards my position. We will go from there. Vixen out.

Vixen closed the comm line, confident in the strength of her order, but seriously questioning the strength of her remaining forces. She knew that her forces had been dwindled down, and she needed reinforcements. Vixen considered the merits and advantages of contacting her ship, which was currently hiding in the system. However, there was a risk if her ship established orbit, especially if there was a hostile ship in orbit as well. Vixen weighed her options carefully in her head before making her next decision. When she had reached a decision, she contacted the Insurrectionist Facility over the comm line.

Vixen: HQ...This is Vixen? Do you read?

Operator: This is Comm Operations. We read you loud and clear Ma'am.

Vixen: Ops...listen very carefully; I need you to contact The Hades Eclipse...tell them we are going to need immediate air support and extraction.

Operator: Extraction?

Vixen: You heard me...extraction.

Operator: But Ma'am...there is a UNSC ship in orbit. If The Hades Eclipse gets close, there is going to be a conflict.

Vixen: I am aware of that. However, that UNSC ship in orbit was recently involved in a ship to ship battle. If we are lucky, we can either outgun them, or we can destroy them before they do any serious damage.

Vixen paused.

Vixen: However...The Hades Eclipse might be able to approach from the far end of the planet. We might be able to use this approach vector to our minimize any exposure to any danger.

Operator: Good idea. I can relay your instructions right away. How quickly do you need them to be here?

Vixen: ASAP! The faster...the better.

Operator: Understood.

Vixen closed the comm line, as she put her sights back on the conflict. She kept her eyes on Black Team. She needed a new way to fight them...and a direct assault on them was not the answer. Vixen continued to think. However, it was not long before she had a cunning idea.


Black 1, Black 2, Black 4, and Black 5 were currently engaged with both Insurrectionists and Trust Marines. Black 1 was in cover behind a large water fountain, as the Warthog carrying the other 3 members of Black Team circled the outer perimeter, cutting down hostiles at first opportunity.

Black 1 emerged from his cover, as he took aim at two Insurrectionists that had their attention focused on the Warthog. Black 1 fired two controlled bursts, taking down both Insurrectionists, and then quickly retreating back into cover as he came under fire from several Trust marines.

Black 1: Black 3...I need support fire.

Black 3: Copy that...

A moment passed, as three shots rang out in succession.

Black 3: Hostiles down. You are clear.

Black 3 paused.

Black 3: Guys...I can see a ton of Insurrectionists on the move...but none of them appear to be converging on your location. Base on the way they are moving...I would assume they are in a full fallback. If we are looking for a time to converge on the surplus depot to see if we can find would be the time. You guys pretty much have a clear path.

Black 1 continued to fire, as he noticed that the Insurrectionists he was engaged in battle with, were now falling back. However, The Trust Marines were still holding their position. As a result, Black 1 shifted his focus to the Marines.

Black 1: Copy that Three. Once we finish off these stragglers, we are going to link up with Six. Where is he anyway?

Black 6 chimed in over the comm.

Black 6: I am converging on your location as we speak.

Black 1: Copy that. If you get in range before we manage to mop up the last bit of resistance here...feel free to join the party.

Black 1 emerged from cover again and he began to fire his Assault Rifle once more. The Marines he was firing at ducked down into cover. Black 1 ducked down behind cover and started to reload his Assault Rifle. As he did, he spoke to the rest of Black Team over the comm line.

Black 1:Black 4...swing that Warthog around to the enemy lines, and mow these pricks down. We have to hustle!

Black 4 responded over the comm line.

Black 4: Copy that. Black 5...get that turret ready!

Black 4's Warthog's tires squealed, as it made a sharp turn towards The Trust marines that were firing at Black 1. Black 5 brought the turret to bear and began to fire, cutting down the last of the Marines one by one. With the last of the Trust marines dead, the battle field was finally cleared.

When the smoke had cleared, and silence had taken hold of the battle field, Black Team began to regroup. Black 1 approached the Warthog that Black 2, Black 4, and Black 5 were driving. Black 6 also came into view, as he regrouped with the others.

Black 1: Glad to see that everyone is still in one piece.

Black 6 nodded.

Black 6: Likewise. You were taking a bit of fire there for a while Black 1.

Black 1: Well...I think the worst is over. We have managed to inflict massive causalities on Smith's forces. I think is about time we converge on his location and finish what we started. If there is any resistance will be near the surplus depot. One final effort is all we need.

Everyone began to nod.

Black 1 then contacted Black 3 over the comm.

Black 1: Black you copy?

Black 3: Loud and clear One.

Black 1: Three...I want you to hold position where you are and ensure that we stay clear. If any more hostiles reveal themselves...take them down.

Black 3: Understood.

Black 1: We will continue to leave the comm lines open. Keep tabs on our progress.

Black 3: Aye.

Black 1 then looked at the rest of Black Team, as he gestured his head.

Black 1: Alright guys...let's move towards that surplus depot and get that bastard...and finish this.

Black Team started to move out. They ran through the streets, directly at the Surplus Depot. Black Team moved closer and closer, nothing getting in their way. However, Black Team came to a stop, when Black 6 stopped. The other members of Black Team stopped after he did, and they all looked at him.

Black 1: Six? What are you doing?

Black 6 didn't answer. He was looking at what seemed to be a community center.

Black 1: Six?

Black 6 turned to face Black 1.

Black 6: many people live in New Sacramento?

Black 1 shrugged. He then looked at Black 2.

Black 2: New Sacramento is a remote urban town. The Population was last measured at 1014. Why?

Black 6: There is no way we have killed that many people.

Black 1: What?

Black 6: There are still more civilians here. We didn't get them all.

All the members of Black Team were confused. They had no idea what Black 6 was getting at.

Black 1: What are you getting at?

Black 6 turned, as he started to walk towards the community center. As he did, he continued talking.

Black 6: I believe in a sense of completion...that is all. Like I said guys...I am not here to check my fire...I am here to open fire.

The other members of Black Team looked at each other, but they didn't waste much time, as they rushed to catch up with Black 6.

Black 1: Six...stop!

Black 6 simply kept walking. He kicked open the doors of the community center, and continued walking inside

Black 1: Six...I am giving you an order...STOP!

Black 6 stopped, as he turned to look at Black 1.

Black 6: What?

Black 1: What the hell are you doing?

Black 6: Ensuring that no more civilians take up arms against us.

Black 1: WHAT!?

Black 6 laughed.

Black 6: What's the matter One...can steel yourself to get the job done?

Black 1: Killing unarmed people is not the job! We don't have the time for this!

Black 6: Oh? Let's find out.

Black put his hand to his helmet. He opened a comm line to The Ulterior Motive.

Black 6: Ulterior Motive? This is Black you copy?

Black 6 waited for a response. After a moment, Black team got an answer over the comm line. Spender's voice could be heard by each member of Black Team.

Spender: Solid copy. Spender here. What is your status Black team?

Black 6: Black 1 and I are having a disagreement over...the details of our missions.

Spender: What do you mean...a disagreement?

Black 1: Sir...Black 6 wants to neutralize unarmed civilians.

There was silence over the comm line.

Black 1: He believes that this is in line with our mission parameters.

The silence over the comm line continued.

Black 1: Sir...I believe this is an unacceptable diversion. We cannot risk losing Smith's trail just to nullify civilians.

Spender: Stand by Black team. Do not move or act until I contact you again.

All the members of Black Team heard the comm go dead, as if it had been muted. They each looked at each other...unsure of what was going on.

UNSC Marathon Class - The Ulterior Motive – Main Bridge – Draco System - Currently in orbit of Draco III - 1230 hours - June 5th 2515.

Spender was deep in thought. He was thinking about what Black Team just said. After a few moments, he leaned over, and accessed the ship's comm system.

Spender: Dr. Novak to the bridge.

Spender closed the ship's comm, as he waited for Novak to arrive. After a few minutes, Novak walked onto the bridge.

Novak: wanted to see me?

Spender turned his chair to face Novak.

Spender: Yes I did.

Novak: What is it that you needed to see me about?

Spender: I want to discuss something with you. It concerns Black Team.

Novak looked at Spender with a hint of curiosity.

Spender: I just spoke with ODST Black Team. Right now...they are in the field...debating the merits of massacring civilians. Unarmed civilians.

Novak raised his eyebrows in surprise.

Novak: Is that so?

Spender: It is.

Spender paused.

Spender: I want to know what this means.

Novak: Well...the short answer is that we were successful.

Novak put his index finger to his temple.

Novak: Up here...we have managed to break them. They are ready to be molded as we see fit. If I am right...and you give them the order to kill ALL of those civilians...they will do it without hesitation...because they now care more about the mission, and their jobs, than their preconceptions and their ethics. They are more accepting of their orders.

Spender: Is that so?

Spender grinned. Spender reached into his jacket, and pulled out his cigarette tin, as he drew a cigarette, and lit it up.

Novak: I believe so, yes. This is what we needed to achieve.

Novak paused.

Novak: Sir...we have already been using civilians that have been given large quantities of psychotic pharmaceuticals as combatants in the simulation deck. Ordering ODST Black Team to kill the ones down there would not be too much of a stretch.

Spender grinned.

Spender: Agreed.

Draco III - New Sacramento - City Center - 1235 hours - June 5th 2515.

ODST Black Team was holding their position in the community center. They were waiting for further orders from Spender. Each member of Black Team kept silent, as they checked their weapons, doing what they could to kill time. However, Black Team came to full attention when they heard Spender over the comm.

Spender: ODST Black Team...this is Spender. Do you copy?

Black 1 was the first one to respond.

Black 1: We copy.

Spender: ODST Black Team...upon further has been deemed necessary to nullify the civilian population.

Each member of Black team looked at each other.

Spender: You are authorized to fire on defenseless people.

ODST Black Team was silent for a moment. Black 1 then spoke up.

Black 1: Understood sir.

Black 1 gestured his head down a hallway. The other members of ODST Black Team saw this, as they moved forward. Black Team stopped at a large gymnasium door, and they all took up position. Black 1 looked to Black 2 and nodded, as Black 2 stepped forward and kicked the doors open. As Black Team moved in, they were met with the screams of unarmed civilians; men, women, and children. Each member of ODST Black Team looked at the civilians, as they tried to scatter. However, due to the enclosed nature of the gym, the people had very little room to move.

Spender then spoke to each member of Black Team over the comm.

Spender: Eliminate them.

ODST Black Team lined up, as they all took aim with their weapons. All 5 men then opened fire on the crowd of civilians, as the screams of horror and the sounds of gunfire filled the comm. Each member of Black Team took aim at the closest civilian, and fired with the utmost impunity and discrimination. The high velocity rounds from each of their weapons tore through the civilians as if they were tissue paper.

Black 1 and Black 6 had inflicted the highest amount of fatalities due to the use of Automatic weapons, with Black 6 having the highest kill count due to the high capacity clips of his SMGs. Black Team timed their reloads, so as to keep consistent fire on the civilians, quickly cutting their way through the crowd of women, children, and men.

Spender grinned, as he took a sadistic pleasure from knowing that ODST Black Team were loyal soldiers, willing to kill when ordered, despite who their target was. Spender could hear the gunfire going on for a few minutes, as Black Team ensured a complete purge of the civilian population. Eventually, the gun fire died down, and silence filled the comm lines.

STB Breaking Point

Draco III - New Sacramento - City Center - 1235 hours - June 5th 2515.

ODST Black Team all stood before the bodies of the civilians that they had just collectively gunned down. The barrels of their guns were smoking, as the smell of gunpowder and blood filled the air. Each member of Black Team was silent, as they looked at the pile of bodies on the ground. Black 6 was the first to step forward, as he looked down. He began to laugh.

Black 6: It is all just part of the job.

Black 6 did one final reload of his SMGs, and then holstered them, as he turned to Black 1. He noticed that Black 1 was scanning the room.

Black 1: I think that's all of them.

Black 6 paused. He listened, as he could hear a bit of shuffling. Black 6 started to walk through the dead bodies, stepping on corpses, limbs, and bodies, treading heavily, totally disconnected from how he was blatantly desecrating bodies. After walking a dozen feet forward, Black 6 noticed a small child, roughly 7 years old, pinned under the body of two dead adults. The child had a gunshot wound in his shoulder. The child looked up at Black 6, with a look of absolute terror and fear.

Black 6 looked down at the child, as he reached to his side and drew his Automag. He took aim with the gun, as the child began to struggle to try and get free. Black 6 took a single breath, as he pulled the trigger multiple times.

Black 6: Now that's all of them.

Black 6 holstered his Automag once more, as he turned and walked back towards Black Team.

Black 6: I think all the loose ends are now tied up. We have no more reason to be here.

Black 6 looked to Black 1.

Black 6: Give the order to move out.

Black 1 looked at Black 6 sideways for a moment. He then spoke to the entirety of Black Team.

Black 1: Black Team...move out.

All five members of Black Team left the Community Center, and proceeded to converge on Smith's location. Black Team moved with speed and precision, staying low and out of sight, as they quickly approached the surplus depot. As they moved, Black 1 sent in a status report to The Ulterior Motive.

Black 1: Ulterior Motive...this is ODST Black Team. We are closing in on Smith's position. We are engaging now. Do you copy?

ODST Black Team waited for a response. Typically, the responses were almost immediate, but this time, there was a delay.

Black 1: Ulterior you copy?

Black Team began to look at each other. They knew something was wrong.

Black 4: Why isn't anyone answering?

Black 1: I don't know.

Black 1 adjusted his comm frequency.

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Black 1: This is Black 1...transmitting to ANYONE aboard The Ulterior you copy?

After a moment, ODST Black Team got a response. The line was full of static and interference.

Novak: Black Team...thank God.

Black 1: Doctor Novak? What's going on up there?

Novak: We were ambushed by an Insurrectionist ship that entered the system. It managed to get the jump on us, and it us with what felt like everything they had. We were already damaged from our battle with The Excalibur. This new Insurrectionist ship just came out of nowhere. They have sent boarding parties. We have Insurrectionists crawling all over the ship.

Black 1: Son of a bitch.

Black 1 paused.

Black 1: Where is Admiral Spender.

Novak: I am not sure. From what I am hearing...he is not on the bridge because the entire ship has the security lockouts engaged. The only reason for those lockouts to be engaged was if he lost control of the bridge. However...I don't think The Insurrection is here to take control of the ship...because one of our security teams spotted demolition teams carrying high yield explosives.

Black 2: The Insurrection may be trying to plant demo charges on either the Slipspace drive core, or the main reactor.

Black 4: If either of those are hit with a demo kit...the Ulterior Motive is dust.

Novak: My thoughts exactly. This is why I am about to re-evaluate ODST Black Team’s current operations. Black 4 and Black are to report back to the Ulterior Motive and assist with counter-hostile engagements. Time is of the utmost importance.

Black 4 and Black 6 nodded.

Black 6: Right away Doctor. We will try secure transport back to The Ulterior Motive.

Novak: You are authorized to use all necessary force in the procurement of transportation, the elimination of hostiles, and the securing of The Ulterior Motive. Use all necessary force...repeat...all necessary force.

Black 6: Understood sir.

Novak: In the meantime...I will try and regain contact with Admiral Spender...and I will attempt to delay The Insurrection as long as possible. I have a fairly large contingent of Marines with me. We should be able to soften them up for you guys.

Black 6: Sir...stay safe. We will be there shortly.

Novak: Copy that. Novak out.

The comm line went silent, as Black 4 and Black 6 immediately began planning their next move. Black 6 then contacted Black 3 over the comm..

Black 6: Black 3…remember earlier you said that The Insurrection was bugging out? Which direction were they going?

Black 3 responded.

Black 3: 14 degrees North North-East of your current location. 20 KM.

Black 6: We should be able to use that Warthog to get there in no time flat. At best speeds…we are looking at 10, perhaps 12 minutes.

Black 1 interjected.

Black 1: What do you have in mind Six?

Black 6 looked at Black 1.

Black 6: If the local Insurrection bugged out, I have a good feeling that they are responsible for the attack on The Ulterior Motive. They could be staging from here. If Black 4 and I hurry, we might be able to hijack one of their Pelicans, and return to The Ulterior Motive.

Black 1 nodded.

Black 1: Get it done. We will deal with Smith and whatever is left of his forces. After that…we will find a way to join you.

Black 4 and Black 6 nodded, as they both turned and ran back the way they came, heading for the Warthog that they left behind.

Black 1 looked at Black 2 and Black 5.

Black 1: Let’s go get Smith. Let’s finish this!

Black 2 and Black 5 nodded, as they took up position behind Black 1and followed I tow. The three remaining ODSTs ran towards the Surplus depot. As they got closer, they could see that there were several Marines who had taken up defensive positions with chainguns. Black 1 then radioed Black 3.

Black 1: Black 3…eyes on the surplus depot. Do you see the turrets?

After a moment Black 3 responded.

Black 3: I see them. There are four Marines on the ground and one on the roof; all with Turrets.

Black 1 nodded.

Black 1: Damn…we don’t have sights on the one on the roof.

Black 3: I have a perfect shot of all of them. DO you want me to take them all down?

Black 1: Can you do it? You will need to reload?

Black 3: Will I?

Black 1 was confused by the question.

Black 3: Let’s make a bet on that…

Black 1 waited a moment; he kept his eyes on the surplus depot. After a few moments, he heard a Sniper shot ring out, and then saw a body fall off the roof of the building. He then heard another shot, as one of the marines on the ground was taken out. A third shot rang out as another Marine went down.

Black 1 laughed, as he spoke to Black 3 over the comm..

Black 1: One shot left…two Marines.

Black 1 heard the final shot ring out, but as he did, he heard the final bullet ricochet off of one of the idle chainguns, as both marines went down in a single shot.

Black 3: Five Marines…Four bullets. Told you I didn’t need to reload.

Black 1 simply laughed, as he gestured his hand for Black 2 and Black 5 to move forward with him.

Black 1: We are going in. Keep us covered Black 3. Don’t let anyone else into the building.

Black 3: Copy that.

ODST Black Team began to move inside of the surplus depot. One by one, they entered the surplus depot, gaining access by entering through the administration office. The three men were moving through the hallways silently. As they did, Black 1 gave a hand gesture, instructing Black 2 and Black 5 to switch to suppressed weapons. Black 2 holstered his Shotgun while Black 5 holstered his DMR. Both men then drew Automags, and took aim, looking down the iron sights, as they moved.

It was not long before ODST Black Team approached the entrance to the main warehouse. They could hear the chatter of two marines around the corner. Black Team pinned themselves to the wall, as they slowly approached.

Marine 1: I don’t know man…things are looking bad.

Marine 2: We can stop them.

Marine 1: I am sure that’s what everyone else out there said. How many of our guys were out there? With the civilians…we had close to 300 bodies out there. Six guys took them all down.

Marine 2: Shit…it is tough to stay optimistic when you hear something like that.

Just as the second Marine said this, Black 1, Black 2, and Black 5 popped around the corner, firing at the Marines, making two very quick and very silent kills.

Once the Marines hit the ground, Black 1 gave a hand gesture to move forward and flank. The three ODSTs split up, keeping low behind barriers of crates, as they entered the main warehouse. As they moved into their positions, they could hear Smith taking to his Marines.

Sergeant Carr: Sir…we have lost contact with everyone.

Rear Admiral Smith: I am aware of that Sergeant.

Lieutenant Caesar: How the hell do six men slice their way through so many soldiers?

Major Adams: I have never seen anything like this. We are so fucked.

Rear Admiral Smith: People…we need to focus! I need suggestions!

Major Adams: Sir…aside from you, the only protection you have left, is the 12 of us here. We don’t have a chance in hell. We have to retreat…or we are going to die.

Lieutenant Caesar: We should surrender. Perhaps Spender will spare us.

Smith looked at Caesar, and scoffed.

Rear Admiral Smith: Spender will kill us…no matter what we do. We fight…or we die.

By this time, the Three ODSTs had taken up a very good flanking position, with Black 5 and Black 2 managing to pin most of the Marines in a cross fire, while Black 1 was in an excellent position to provide supporting fire.

Black 1 knew that they were ready to strike.

Black 1: Pick your targets…hit them in the cross fire. Save Smith for last.

Black 2 and Black 5 tapped their comm lines to indicate that they were ready.

Black 1: Engage...

With the order given, the three members of Black Team emerged from cover, and laid down fire on Smith's remaining forces. Black 1, Black 2, and Black 5 each took aim at the surrounding Marines, and opened fire. The surprise attack caught Smith, and his Marines, totally off guard, as they were not prepared.

As The three members of Black Team fired, Smith couldn't help but look around, as each of his Marines was cut down one by one. Smith ducked down into cover, and crawled away, hiding behind a large stack of crates.

Major Adams: We're surrounded!

Black 1 took aim at Major Adams, and fired a full clip right into his chest, cutting Major Adams down, killing him.

Sergeant Carr: Damnit...Adams is down!

Sergeant Carr was then shot down by Black 2. Carr took a direct Shotgun blast to the back.

Lieutenant Caesar ducked down behind cover, as he watched the rest of his compatriots get cut down. He could hear Black 1 giving orders to the other two members of Black Team to move forward.

Black 1: Move forward! Find Smith! Take him down!

Sergeant Carr knew he was no match for the three Black ODSTs that were converging on his location. Carr snapped, as he tossed his weapon aside, and stood up, with his hands in the air. He looked at Black 1, and pleaded for his life.

Sergeant Carr: I surrender! Please...don't shoot. I am unarmed!

Black 1 didn't stop walking, as he looked at Sergeant Carr. Black 1 turned his Assault Rifle on Carr, and fired a single round into his head, killing him quickly, and without much thought.

Black 1: Fucking cowards.

Black 1 then stopped in his tracks. He looked around the room, scanning the area. He then started to speak at the top of his lungs.

Black 1: I know you are in here somewhere Smith. Why don't you come out and face your death like a man?

Black 1 laughed.

Black 1: I can't imagine that this is easy for you. You lost your ship, you lost your crew, you lost your Marines...and you got every civilian in this town killed...because you wanted to prolong your life. Now, to top it all are hiding. You are a pathetic man. Spender was right to have such a low opinion of you. You are a coward. Men like you...would have destroyed The Trust.

Smith could hear Black 1 taunting him. He didn't allow Black 1's words to faze him. However, Smith knew that if he did not make a run for it, they would find him eventually. Smith knew that there was an escape route not far from where he was. He knew that if he ran fast enough, he could make it towards an exit.

Smith took a deep breath, as he climbed to his feet, and he made a break for the nearest exit. The sound of his feet caught the attention of all three men, as they turned to look at Smith run. Black 1 and Black 2 raised their weapons, but they stopped, when they saw Black 5 running towards Smith, ready intercept him from the side. Black 5 drew his blade as he ran, as he stepped on a small crate, and propelled himself into the air, towards Smith. As Black 5's boots hit the ground, he found himself right in the path of Smith. Smtih saw Black 5 in front of him, as he tried to come to a stop. However, Black 5 swung his blade low, as he cut off both of Smith's legs, below the kneecaps.

Smith screamed out in agony, as he fell to the ground.

Rear Admiral Smith: Oh Christ! Oh God!

Smith screamed in pain, as he used his hands to try and crawl away. However, Smith had succumb to the pain, as he gave up trying to crawl away. He rolled himself over as he looked up at Black 5, who had started to walk circles around Smith, letting the tip of his blade drag along the ground.

Rear Admiral Smith: Oh my legs! You pricks cut my legs off!

Black 5: No...I cut your legs off.

Black 5 looked at where he had removed Smith's legs.

Black 5: What a nice, clean cut.

Smith scoffed, as he was in a tremendous amount of pain.

Rear Admiral Smith: Fuck you!

Black 1 and Black 2 approached Smith, as they looked down at him.

Black 2:: He has a pretty vile tongue. Perhaps we should cut that out, as well.

Black 1: Perhaps we should.

Rear Admiral Smith: Go ahead!

Black 1 knelt down next to Smith.

Black 1: I dunno...that seems like too much effort for a little prick like you.

Smith glared at Black 1.

Black 1: Frankly...something dawns on me. You see, we were sent here to kill you. We have pretty much succeeded. There is nothing left for us to do here.

Black 1 paused.

Black 1: can still breath and you can still talk. would be a waste to NOT interrogate you.

Black 1 paused again.

Black 1: I want to know something much does the rest of The Trust know about what Spender is doing?

Rear Admiral Smith: That is for me to know, and for you to figure out.

Black 1: Wrong answer.

Black 1 looked at Black 5, and nodded. Black 5 then began to lift his blade, and proceeded to rest the tip of the sword on Smith's left thigh.

Black 1: One more time; how much does the rest of The Trust know about what Spender is doing?

Rear Admiral Smith: Fuck you!

Black 1: I wish you would be more cooperative.

Black 5 pushed the blade into Smith's leg. Smith began to yell out in pain. Black 1 watched for a moment, and then held his hand up. Black 5 then released pressure on his blade.

Black 1: How much does the rest of The Trust know about what Spender is doing?

Smith was breathing heavily, the amount of pain he was in was almost unbearable.

Rear Admiral Smith: You better just kill me!

Black 1 then lowered his hand, as Black 5 continued to push the blade into Smith's thigh. Smith began to scream in pain again. Black 5 then started to move the blade around, spinning it around inside of Smith's thigh.

Rear Admiral Smith: STOP! STOP!

Smith began to yell in pain again. However, Black 1 didn't give any order to stop. He continued to let Black 5 dig his sword further and further into Smith's wound.

Rear Admiral Smith: For the love of God...stop! I will tell you what you want to know!

Black 1 then raised his hand again, and Black 5 stopped. Smith was breathing heavily, as he was having a hard time concentrating.

Black 1: How much does the rest of The Trust know about what Spender is doing?

Rear Admiral Smith: They know close to nothing. The issues with Spender were kept inside the ranks of The Board of Chairmen! The only other person who knows about Spender's motives and Hoffman! However...I don't know how long things will stay like that. Hoffman had every intention of exposing Spender! Hoffman was the one who directed the fight against Spender, sending both Davidov and myself on our respective tasks to undermine Sppender.

Black 1: What else can you tell me?

Rear Admiral Smith: If Hoffman has exposed Spender...then he has put himself into a position of great power! With Davidov dead...and with my current condition...Hoffman is the defacto, and undisputed leader of The Trust.

Black 2 then stepped forward.

Black 2: Wait...what?

Rear Admiral Smith: Hoffman is the last standing member of The Board of Chairmen. He has total control of all Trust assets. If Spender believes he will be able to fight Hoffman...he is dearly mistaken.

Black 1, Black 2, and Black 5 all exchanged looks.

Black 5: don't think...

Black 2: This sounds like a Coup d'état by Hoffman.

Black 1: How so?

Black 2: Think about it; Hoffman is the last man standing. Chances are, Hoffman was the one who ordered both Davidov and Smith to carry out their respective assignments. He knew Spender would respond. I think he was banking on this outcome.

Black 1: Are you saying that everyone has played right into Hoffman's hands?

Black 2 nodded.

Black 2: It is very possible...

Smith looked up at the three ODSTs...and scoffed.

Rear Admiral Smith: Hoffman would never do that. He is a man of integrity. He tried to stop Spender! He would never become a man like Spender!

Black 1: Are you so sure of that?

Rear Admiral Smith: Hoffman has different ideas for The Trust...ideas that we could all support.

Black 1: Ideas that would convince you to support him for as long as he needed you to. You were so convinced he was doing the right thing...that you fell in line...and laid down your life for the cause.

Rear Admiral Smith: are WRONG!

Smith began to cough up blood.

Rear Admiral Smith: Hoffman has integrity! He is a man of honor! He would never stoop to Spender's level!

Black 1: So far as we know.

Smith began to cough up more blood, as he was slowly dying.

Rear Admiral Smith: Hoffman is going to kill all of you! You are all going to die!

Black 1: No, you are going to die. You are dying.

Black 1 backed away, as Smith scoffed. He coughed up even more blood.

Rear Admiral Smith: My only regret...

Black 1 rolled his eyes and sighed, as he pulled out his Automag and put a bullet right between Smith's eyes.

Black 1: Boring conversation.

Black 1 holstered his weapon as he looked at Black 2 and Black 5.

Black 1: we have a possible coup going on with Hoffman now. We have to inform Spender...we have to stop this from happening!

Black 2: First and foremost...we have to try and get back to The Ulterior Motive and secure the ship from Insurrectionists. We should contact Four and Six.

Black 1 nodded.

Black 1: Agreed.

Draco III - 20 KM North-North East of New Sacramento - City Center - 1245 hours - June 5th 2515.

Black 4 and Black 6 were behind a tree line, as they observed several dozen Insurrectionists around several Pelicans that were landed. The two ODSTs scanned the area, but the entire perimeter was pretty locked down.

Black 4: I could drop a few well placed Rockets...and give us a good start on nullifying these bastards.

Black 6: Agreed. I could follow-up with suppressive fire, try and take a few more down...allow us to punch through. They don't have much cover...we could make this quick and decisive.

Black 6 began to observe the Insurrectionists again. As he did, he noticed something odd.

Black 6: What the hell?

Black 6, using his VISR, zoomed in to get a closer look at one Insurrectionist in particular. He recognized who he was looking at.

Black 6: Oh my's her.

Black 4 looked at Black 6.

Black 4: What are you on about Four?

Black 6: Do you see that woman with those Insurrectionists? She was on Madrigal...when Outpost Lambda was attacked. I fought with her...but she ran away before I could finish the job.

Black 4: Well, now you have a chance to correct that.

Black 6: She must be the one behind this attack on The Ulterior Motive. She defiantly strikes me as the leader.

Black 4: It might be worth listening in on what they are saying. Activate your directional mic...let's see what we can pick up!

Black 6 nodded. Black 4 and Black 6 then activated their directional microphones, as they listened in on Vixen as she briefed her soldiers.

Vixen: Listen up Delta Team...time is of the essence, so I am only going to say this once; our target is a ship in orbit called The Ulterior Motive...under the command of a SNAKE named Constantine Spender.

Vixen paused.

Vixen: Our to kill him. He is but one of the reasons why we do what we do! Killing Constantine Spender will send a very clear message to men like him that6 people like us will no longer tolerate tyranny.

All of the Insurrectionists' cheered.

Vixen: We already have soldiers up there, who have started this fight! We will continue the attack until we finish it! We don't quit...until Constantine Spender is dead!

The Insurrectionists cheered, as Vixen turned and boarded one of the Pelicans. The Pelican had several Insurrectionists in it already. The Rear hach closed, and the Pelican that Vixen was in took off, and took to the skies.

Black 6 cursed under his breath as he watched Vixen, once again, leave his sights.

Black 6: Alright Four...let's hit these pricks with everything we have. Light them up...I will follow-up with a full suppression, and we will mop these bastards up nice and quickly.

Black 6 paused.

Black 6: After that...we take one of those Pelicans...and we get back to The Ulterior Motive!

Black 4 nodded, as he drew his Rocket launcher off of his back, and he took aim at the crowd of Insurrectionists. Black 6 broke off to the side, in order to take up a flanking position. As Black 6 took up a new position, he drew his SMGs, and he took aim. Black 6 saw that he had a clear shot at most of the Insurrectionists.

Black 6 took a deep breath, as he signaled Black 4.

Black 6: Alright fire...

It only took Black 4 a moment to acknowledge. It was not long before Black 6 saw two rockets fly towards The Insurrectionist's line. The two explosions sent multiple Insurrectionists flying in various directions. As the second explosion rang out, Black 6 took aim with his SMGs, and laid down a wide field of fire at the remaining Insurrectionists who were still standing. Black 6 watched as The Insurrectionist tried to scatter, but were shot down one by one.

Black 6 then heard Black 4 speak over the comm.

Black 4: I am reloading. Keep the suppressive fire up!

Black 6 continued firing his SMGs at opportunity targets, picking them off, one by one, keeping the attention of the Insurrection off of Black 4.

Black 6: Hurry up Four...get those rockets ready!

Black 6 began to reload. He watched as The Insurrectionists tried to get re-organized.

Insurrectionist: We have hostiles in the tree line! Find cover!

As The Insurrectionist spoke, Black 4 managed to fire off two more Rockets from the tree line. The Rocket impacted the ground near the Insurrectionists, exploding on contact, sending multiple Insurrectionists flying back, killing most of them in the blast.

Black 4: Six...we have these guys. Lay down more fire!

As Black 4 said this, he put his Rocket launcher on his back, and drew his Automag. He took aim with his Automag and began to lay down fire on the Insurrectionists. Black 6 followed up with more suppressive fire. The combined fire from Black 4 and Black 6 proved highly effective in cutting through the remaining Insurrectionists.

Both Black 4 and Black 6 exited the tree line, their weapons were raised, as they moved outwards.

Black 6: Area is clear.

Black 6 lowered his SMGs, as he began to sprint forward. Black 4 also lowered his weapon as he sprinted forward to regroup with Black 6.

Black 4: Looks like we managed to clear the area without too much damage to these Pelicans. We should be able to use one of these to get to The Ulterior Motive.

Black 6: There is more than one. We could split up. One of us could go and find the rest of Black Team, pick them up, and we can all regroup on The Ulterior Motive.

Black 4 considered the suggestion, and nodded.

Black 4: Which one of us should go and find the others?

Black 6 paused. He thought about the questions.

Black 6: Honestly...I want to get back to The Ulterior Motive ASAP! I want nothing more than to get my hands on that Insurrectionist bitch. Ever since what she pulled on Madrigal...I have wanted a bit of payback.

Black 6 scoffed.

Black 4: Fair enough Six. You return to The Ulterior Motive...get things under control up there. I will swing around and find the rest of Black Team and we will get up there ASAP!

Black 4 laughed.

Black 4: The irony of this is not lost on me. Our original orders were to try and limit our engagement of THe we are engaging them head-on.

Black 6: Well...more often than not, the battle plan never survives contact with the enemy.

Black 4: Very true.

Black 4 shrugged.

Black 4: IN any case...good luck Six.

Black 6 nodded. Black 4 and Black 6 went their separate ways, each of the men heading to a separate Pelican. Both pelicans engaged their pre-flight sequences, as they started to lift off. The Pelican piloted by Black 4 began to turn, as Black 6's Pelican began to elevate, taking off into the sky.

As Black 6's Pelican began to enter orbit, he received a message over the comm.

Black 1: Black you copy?

Black 6 answered the message.

Black 6: Six here. I read you loud and clear.

Black 1: What is your current status?

Black 6: I am on my way back to the Ulterior Motive, getting ready to engage hostiles. How are things going down there?

Black 1: Smith is dead. However, there is a lot more to this than we initially presumed. Based on what Smith told is possible that Hoffman, the last remaining member of The Board of Chairmen, may be actually staging a coup in The Trust. This may have all been planned by Hoffman since the start. We need to find Spender and inform him of this right away!

Black 6: Copy that. I have almost reach The Ulterior Motive. I will Endeavour to find Spender, and inform him of this development..

Black 1: Is Black 4 with you?

Black 6: negative...Black 4 grabbed a second Pelican, and his is coming to find you and the rest of Black Team for extraction and rendezvous on The Ulterior Motive.

Black 1: Copy that. Try to save some for the rest of us up there Six.

Black 6: I can't make any promises. You'll just have to hurry.

Black 1: Acknowledged. Black 1 out.

Black 6 heard the comm line go silent, as he looked out the cockpit window. He could see The Ulterior Motive, as well as all of the battle damage on the super structure. He could also see a Phoenix-Class colony ship near The Ulterior Motive, just holding position and not moving.

Black 6: That colony ship must be where The Insurrectionists are staging from.

Black 6 took notice of the name on the side of the Phoenix-CLass.

Black 6: Hades Eclipse. Well, that was defiantly the same ship that was seen fleeing Madrigal.

Black 6 sighed.

Black 6: Well...taking that ship down will have to wait. First and foremost...I have to secure The Ulterior Motive.

Black 6's Pelican was rapidly approaching The Ulterior Motive. As he got closer, he could see that there was damage to two of the main hanger bays, such that the entire hanger ay doors had been blown off. However, the Security Barriers were still active, so it was clear that the hanger bays were still pressurized. Black 6 began to navigate his Pelican towards Hanger Bay 1 to begin his docking. Black 6 began to slow the Pelican down, as he passed the security barrier, and enter into the Ulterior Motive's hanger bay. As Black 6's Pelican entered the hanger bay, he could see that there were Insurrectionists who had taken up position in the hanger bay, as if to hold their entry point to ensure continued access to the ship. The Insurrectionists wasted no time in firing their Assault Rifles at the Pelican, as they backed off, and took up position to defend their position.

Black 6 watched as some of the bullets bounced off of the cockpit window as he landed the Pelican, with the front of the pelican facing the Insurrectionist soldiers. Black 6 could see that there were about a dozen Insurrectionists, all armed with Assault Rifle. He grinned behind his helmet, knowing that this would only be a slight diversion.

Insurrectionist: We have a hostile in one of our birds! Take him down!

Black 6 drew both of his SMGs, as he exited the Pelican, and ran right across the hanger bay, taking a dive through the air to take cover behind some supply crates. As Tye jumped through the air, he laid down a wide field of fire on the Insurrectionist line, taking down three of the hostiles before he himself even hit the ground.

Insurrectionist: We have friendly contacts down!

Tye began to reload his SMGs from behind cover. As he did, he could hear the Insurrectionists planning their moves.

Insurrectionist: Surround him...converge on his location!

Black 6 readied his SMGs, as he stood up behind cover, and fired off both of his SMGs, his left SMG sweeping left and his right SMG sweeping right. This caught the converging Insurrectionists off-guard, as Tye was able to kill several more Insurrectionists, and wound the rest.

Some of the few Insurrectionists that had fallen to the ground, injured, raised their Assault Rifles and fired at Black 6, but Black 6 ducked down behind cover, as he began to reload. Once Tye had reloaded his SMGs, he waited for the gunfire to die down, before holstering his SMGs, and drawing his Automags. Black 6 then emerged from cover, and took several very precise shots at the few remaining Insurrectionists, that were wounded on the ground.

Once Black 6 had taken down the last of the Insurrectionists, he gave a quick scan of the hanger bay, and saw the his path was clear. Black 6 began to reload his Automags, as he moved towards the main door leading out of the hanger bay. Black 6 could see that the door leading to the corridors had been forcefully removed with explosives. As he stepped through the threshold, into the ships corridors, he could hear the ships alarms going off.

Black 6 could see dead Marines and Insurrectionists in the corridor, a clear sign that there was a firefight and a struggle throughout the ship. Black 6 used his VISR to access a layout of The Ulterior Motive's deck plan, so he could better navigate towards where he needed to be.

Black 6: Alright...first thing is first...I have to try and find Spender and/or Novak.

Black 6 accessed his communication system, and tried to contact his anyone on the ship to try and get is bearing.

Black 6: This is Black 6...calling anyone on the ship. Does anyone read me?

Black 6 paused for a moment. He could hear a bit of static, and then he heard a voice.

Novak: Novak here. Black 6...where are you?

Black 6: I just got on-board the Ulterior Motive. I am just outside hanger bay 1...moving down the corridor.

Novak: Is Black 4 with you?

Black 6: Negative. I sent him back to regroup with the rest of Black Team. Black 1 was successful in nullifying Smith. Black 4 took a Pelican and he went to round up the others, and bring them here.

Novak: Understood.

Black 6 kept moving as Novak was speaking.

Black 6: Sir...what is your current location?

Novak: I am currently on Deck 2 with several teams of Marines. We are going to push towards the bridge.

Black 6 picked up his pace, as he started to run through the corridors.

Black 6: I am on my way towards your current location. If you hold position, I can help you retake the bridge.

Novak: Be advised...the elevators are currently offline. You will need to use either the access crawlways...or the stair cases.

Black 6: Understood.

Novak: Report to Deck 2 - section 13. We are going to make our push from there. The sooner you can get here, the better.

Black 6 continued to move, as he headed for the nearest stairwell. Black 6 entered the stairwell, and began to run up the stairs.

Black 6: I'm on my way sir. I should be there in a moment.

Novak: Copy that Black 6. We will wait for you to arrive.

Black 6 continues to run up the stairs, getting closer and closer to Deck 2. When Black 6 reached Deck 2, he entered the corridor, and made his way towards Section 13. When he arrived, he was greeted by Novak, and about 2 dozen marines.

Novak: It's good to see you Black 6.

Black 6: Good to see that you are still alive and kicking sir.

Novak: These Insurrectionists came out of nowhere. They blindsided us, and the first place they hit was the bridge.

Black 6: It makes sense that they should target the bridge first. It would allow them to maintain control of the ship to allow them to do what they need to do.

Novak: After they took the bridge, they moved to the engineering deck. I believe that they are still there. However, as Black 4 said...they could try and destroy the ship with explosives.

Black 6: Well...first thing is first - retake the bridge. If we can take the bridge, we can isolate how may Insurrectionists are on the ship, and then coordinate our forces from there.

Novak: Agreed.

Novak checked the clip on his Assault Rifle, and then nodded to Black 6.

Novak: Alright...let's go. Black 6...take point.

Black 6 took point with the group, as he led Novak and the Marines to the stairwell, and led the entire group up to Deck 1. Black 6 moved quickly and quietly towards the bridge, moving through the corridor. Black 6 approached the door to the bridge, and pressed his body against the wall, near the door leading onto the bridge. Novak and the other Marines stopped, as they waited for Black 6 to move.

Black 6 could hear several Insurrectionists on the bridge, talking to each other.

Insurrectionist 1: We lost contact with hanger bay 1, and several other patrols on the ship.

Insurrectionist 2: The crew is still fighting. They are resilient...I will give them that.

Insurrectionist 1: Well...the sooner we destroy this ship...the better. Our demo teams better hurry it up and get those explosives set. We don't have all day.

Black 6 heard this conversation, and knew that the clock was now ticking. Black 6 readied his SMGs, and he turned the corner and ran onto the bridge. Novak and the Marines watched as Black 6 moved in and single-handedly cleared the bridge, killing the two Insurrectionists who were guarding the bridge, and 4 other Insurrectionists who were manning a few of the bridge stations. Black 6’s sweep of the bridge proved to be quick, precise, and decisive.

When the smoke had cleared, and the bridge was clear, Black 6 looked around and scanned the area. He did see a few of the original bridge officers for The Ulterior Motive, dead on the ground, but Spender was nowhere to be seen.

Novak then walked onto the bridge, and looked around. He whistled and approached Black 6.

Novak: Nicely done Black 6, very nice work.

Novak looked around, looking at all the dead bodies.

Novak: Spender isn't here. That's a good sign.

Black 6: At least we know he made it off the bridge to continue the fight.

Several of the marines walked onto the bridge. Novak looked at the Marines.

Novak: Get these stations manned. Let's get this bridge operational, and let's start pushing back against these God-dammed Insurrectionists!

Several of the marines nodded, as they moved the dead Insurrectionists from the bridge stations, and took over their positions.

Novak: I want a status report!

One of the Marines looked over to Novak.

Trust Marine 1: Sir...according to these readings...we still have a number of our people on the ship. They are organizing, and they are currently engaging the Insurrection on various decks.

Novak: Re-establish communication with them, and start coordinating their efforts.

One of the other Marines looked at Novak.

Trust Marine 2: Sir...I think I have located Admiral Spender.

Novak and Black 6 approached the Marine.

Black 6: Where is he?

Trust Marine 2: He is pinned down in the main Armory. He has a lot of heat on him.

Black 6: Can you tap into the cameras around the armory?

Trust Marine 2: One moment...

The Marine entered a few commands. After he did this, he managed to display a visual of the armory. Novak and Black 6 saw Spender, pinned down behind a supply crate. Spender was pinned down by roughly a dozen Insurrectionists, and was under heavy fire.

Novak: Black 6...

Black 6 had already turned and was on his way out of the bridge.

Black 6: I'm already on it.

Black 6 turned and pointed at the Marine.

Black 6: Do whatever you have to do to get into contact with Spender!

Black 6 paused. He looked back at Novak.

Black 6: Doc…I am going to be heavily outnumbered out there. I am going to need every advantage I can get. If you could patch my VISR into the ship’s systems, anything that is available, environmental controls, lighting, internal sensors…that would prove to be very helpful. If you can get me the ability to control things like that on the fly…I can turn a certain death situation into a fighting chance.

Novak: I will see what we can get you. We may not have anything for you right away as we try and regain control of the ship…but we should be able to get you SOMETHING in due time.

Black 6: That is all I needed to hear.

Black 6 then turned and ran off the bridge. He made a b-line towards the stairwell, and began to jump down the flights of stairs, moving quickly down to the main armory, which was located on Deck 6. When Black 6 had reached Deck 6, he ran into the corridor. Black 6 then quieted himself, and listened. He could hear the faint sound of gunfire, which suggested that Spender was still alive and drawing heat. Black 6 broke into a full sprint, as he charged through the corridors. With each step, the sound of gunfire got louder and louder.

It was not longer before Black 6 turned the corner, and saw multiple Insurrectionists laying down fire inside of the armory. The Insurrectionists were so focused on trying to kill Spender, that they did not even notice Black 6. Black 6 then realized that the entire area outside the armory, was littered with dead Insurrectionists. Black 6 could not believe how many Insurrectionists Spender had managed to kill from his pinned location. Black 6 realized that Spender had literally taken on an army…and statistically speaking…he was winning.

Insurrectionist: We are going to need reinforcements down at the armory! We have Spender pinned…but the bastard is too well entrenched! Spender won’t go down!

Black 6 watched as The Insurrectionists started to make an aggressive push into the armory. As Black 6 moved closer, with both of his SMGs at the ready, he could hear Spender yelling at the Insurrectionists.

Spender: Come on you treacherous bastards…come and get me! There is no way in hell ANY of you have what it takes to put me in the grave!

Spender then could be heard laughing. Black 6 found this behavior to be quite interesting, given Spender’s current situation. The way Spender spoke, and his laugher…it suggested that Spender did not even fear The Insurrection. Had there not of been the looming threat of The Insurrection blowing up the main reactor with high-yield explosives, Black 6 was almost prepared to let Spender hander this entire situation by himself.

Black 6 sighed, as he raised his SMGs, and laid down crossfire on the Insurrectionists who were in the corridor. Black 6’s hail of bullets cut through the Insurrectionists with great efficiency. The fire from Black 6 caught the attention of some of the Insurrectionists, but before they could fire on Black 6, they were all shot in the back of the head, by Spender.

Spender: I told you none of you had what it took.

Black 6 could hear Spender’s footsteps inside of the armory. Black 6 decided to approach the armory doors, and peer in. However, when he did, Spender quickly turned, and pointed an M6G Magnum at Black 6, but did not fire.

Black 6: Sir…I’m on your side.

Spender grinned, and let out a chuckle.

Spender: So it seems. I guess I have you to thank for the assist?

Black 6: You do not have to thank me for doing my job, sir.

Spender laughed, as he started to light up a cigarette.

Spender: I like that attitude Six.

Black 6 was silent for a moment, but then spoke up.

Black 6: Sir…I managed to retake the bridge with the assistance of Dr. Novak.

Spender: Novak? Damn…that is a surprise.

Black 6: he has been engaging in counter-hostile engagements.

Spender: I never thought the good Doctor had it in him. I guess I was wrong.

Black 6 stepped towards Spender.

Black 6: Sir…I would feel better if I could escort you back to the bridge. There is a large team of Marines in that location, and they would prove valuable in defending you.

Spender: I appreciate the concern Black 6…but I do not need to be defended. I am more than capable of defending myself.

Black 6: I am sure you are sir…but your place is not on the battle field.

Spender: Six…I realize that you are simply following protocol. You feel that you are obligated to protect me at all times, and you feel that you must do everything in your power to ensure my safety. I admire that, and I understand that. However…these Insurrectionist bastards are on my ship. They have turned my realm of authority into the battle field. I will be damned if I allow The Insurrectionist to scare me to the point where I must fall back to the protection of a heavily defended location. Not on my ship Six. Not while I draw breath.

Spender stepped forward and looked at Black 6.

Spender: You are free to tag along with me as I retake my ship. Clear?

Black 6 nodded.

Black 6: Perfectly.

STB Breaking Point

UNSC Marathon Class - The Ulterior Motive - Main Armory - Currently in orbit of Draco III - 1310 hours - May 22nd 2515.

Black 6 look at Spender, as Spender reloaded his weapon.

Black 6: Sir...I should point out that The Insurrection has every intention of destroying this ship.

Spender: I am aware of this fact Black 6. Before I got pinned down here, I was on my way towards the engineering deck to stop the sabotage of our main reactor.

Black 6: How did you know they were going to sabotage the reactor?

Spender laughed.

Spender: HE...told me...

Spender pointed to the corner. There was a dead Insurrectionist with various wounds and burn marks laying up against the wall.

Spender: I was interrogating him before the firefight. He spilled the beans VERY quickly after I started ashing out cigarettes on his face.

Black 6 shrugged.

Black 6: Well, we should be able to make it to the engineering deck from our current location in a very short amount of time.

Spender: Agreed. However...we are not going down there without being properly armed.

Spender stepped to the side, as he grabbed a Shotgun off the weapon rack.

Spender: We will need bigger weapons.

Spender grabbed a box of shells of the shelf, as he started to load his shotgun.

Spender: I suggest you gear up Black 6...because we are going to have a lot of Insurrectionists to fight through...and I don't plan on running out of ammo mid-way through.

Black 6 nodded, as he turned to resupply his SMG ammo.

Black 6: I should also point out that the rest of Black Team is on their way back to assist us.

Spender: I don't believe that they will make it in time. We cannot afford to wait when we do not know how much time we have left.

Black 6 had finished resupplying his SMGs. As he did, he noticed something sitting on the shelf.

Black 6: Well, is something that could prove to be very useful.

Spender turned to look at Black 6. As he did, he saw Black 6 reaching for an un-mounted chaingun.

Spender: A chaingun. Very conspicuous. I would say that fits more to Black 4's style.

Black 6: Perhaps if it were a missile pod...perhaps.

Spender: That is beside the point. Can you handle that weapon?

Black 6 hefted the weapon, getting a feel for it.

Black 6: Yeah...I got problem.

Black 6 laughed.

Black 6: These Insurrectionists are going to pay...dearly.

Spender: I like the attitude Black 6. Keep it up.

Spender then cocked the shotgun he was holding.

Spender: Take point Black 6...lead us to the engineering deck.

Black 6 turned, as he led Spender out of the armory, and into the corridors of the ship.

Black 6: Stay close sir...and keep tabs on our Six. If you see anyone...let me know.

UNSC Marathon Class - The Ulterior Motive - Main Data Center - Currently in orbit of Draco III - 1320 hours - June 5th 2515.

Vixen, along with a dozen Insurrectionists were standing in front of the doors to the Ulterior Motive's main Data Center. Vixen watched as one of her Insurrectionists rigged the door up with explosives.

Vixen: How much longer until that door is open?

Insurrectionist Engineer: Not long ma'am. We are almost ready to bring this door down. We had to rig up a larger number of explosives on this door. For whatever reason, this door seems to be made to endure forced entry.

Vixen: Make it quick. The last thing we need is for any more of these UNSC goose steppers trying to stop us. This is the only place on the ship that was the most heavily defended.

Vixen began to pace back and forth, as she held her Assault Rifle in her hands.

Insurrectionist Engineer: Alright...we are good to go. Everyone...get back...

All of the Insurrections moved back to a junction, and took cover behind a corner.

Insurrectionist Engineer: Fire in the hole!

The Insurrectionist engineer activated the detonator. When he did, a loud explosion was heard, as the doors to the medical bay were destroyed. Vixen was the first to charge in, as she ran towards the smoking hole in the wall.

Vixen: Alright out! Look for any type of central access terminal or data entry point!

All of the Insurrections that were with Vixen, entered the data center one by one. As they did, they fanned out, as they examined the large server towers. Vixen walked between the rows of server towers, looking for anything that could be used to leverage access into The Ulterior Motive's main computer.

Vixen: Has anyone found anything?

Insurrectionist Engineer: Ma'am...I have something!

Vixen broke out into a sprint as she followed the voice. As she got closer, she noticed that the engineer she was with kneeling down next to an electronically locked door.

Vixen: What is it?

Insurrectionist Engineer: This is the terminal link office. There is a computer in this office which serves as a backup terminal link to access the data center.

Vixen: Can you get us inside?

Insurrectionist Engineer: Do you really need to ask?

Vixen noticed that as the engineer had been talking, he had been rigging the door with an explosive.

Vixen: I am guessing we better take cover?

Insurrectionist Engineer: More like...plug your ears. This is one of the smaller babies I carry around.

Vixen remained silent. She watched as the engineer stood up, and took several steps back.

Insurrectionist Engineer: Fire in the hole.

Vixen plugged her ears, as the engineer detonated the small bomb, and blew the door right off the hinge.

Vixen: Nice work! Get in there and get us into these servers!

Insurrectionist Engineer: On it.

The engineer entered the office, and sat down in front of the terminal. Vixen watched as he got right to work, trying to break into the data server. Vixen walked into the office, and watched as the engineer worked.

Vixen: How long is this going to take?

Insurrectionist Engineer: Believe it or not...not very long. I am able to leverage a totally isolated, and pre-authorized connection to the data server. You see, terminal links, like this one, are generally easy to leverage from the inside of a protected network, because they are 100% inaccessible from the outside. Once I establish a full connection...I can pretty much access whatever I want.

Vixen: I don't need to know how it works. I want to know when it is going to work!

Insurrectionist Engineer: I need a few minutes Ma'am.

Vixen: That's all I needed. Keep at it.

Vixen turned and walked out of the office, as she started giving orders to the other Insurrectionists.

Vixen: Take up positions at the door of this room. Hold off anyone who tries to gain access to this room. Don't let any of those UNSC Marines through!

All of the Insurrectionists nodded, as they readied their weapons. They each started to take up position at the door to the data center, covering the entrance.

Vixen, on the other hand, turned back to the engineer.

Vixen: How is it coming?

Insurrectionist Engineer: Almost...

The Insurrectionist paused.

Insurrectionist Engineer: Done. I'm in. Connection established. We have access to everything.

Vixen leaned over the engineer's shoulder, as she glared at the computer screen.

Insurrectionist Engineer: There is so much information here. I have never seen so much compiled into one location before. This is unreal!

Vixen: First thing is first...See if you can find ANYTHING on those ODSTs we encountered on the surface. I want to know who the hell they are, and how the hell we can beat them.

Insurrectionist Engineer: Ma'am?

Vixen: Just do it. I can tell you with absolute certainty...after what I saw...if we are going to have any success against those ODSTs...we are going to need a way to kill them. They are highly trained and very effective soldiers. I saw it firsthand.

Insurrectionist Engineer: If you say so. It's just...after everything you have said about Spender, with him being your...

Vixen: Look...the fact is, we will never get to touch Spender so long as he has those ODSTs to send into battle. Either we find a way to beat them...or we forget about killing that bastard!

Insurrectionist Engineer: Understood. I will see what I can find.

Vixen: Once you find that intel...transmit it back to The Hades Eclipse. After that, whatever you can get out of their datacenter before we have to bail...will just be a bonus.

Insurrectionist Engineer: Yes Ma'am.

Vixen: I am going to go and check on our teams in the engineering deck...make sure that we are on schedule.

Vixen turned, as she began to walk towards the exit. As she walked past the door, she pointed to two Insurrectionists.

Vixen: You two...come with me.

Vixen stepped into the corridors, as the two Insurrectionists broke from their defensive formation, and followed behind her.

Insurrectionist: Where are we going Ma'am?

Vixen: Engineering deck. We are going to check in on our teams...make sure everything is on track and going smoothly. I am sure that if something was wrong, we would have heard about advice would be to expect trouble...none the less.

UNSC Marathon Class - The Ulterior Motive - Main Engineering Deck - Currently in orbit of Draco III - 1340 hours - June 5th 2515.

Spender and Black 6 were closing in on the engineering deck. The two men moved through the corridor, with Black 6 on point. As they moved, the two men conversed.

Spender: Alright Black 6...our first goal is clear - neutralize any and all hostiles. We are not here to take prisoners...we are here to retake the ship.

Black 6: Sounds simple enough. Shoot first, never ask questions. That's the way I prefer to operate.

Spender grinned.

Spender: You know Black the grand scheme of things...I am the most impressed with you. Out of all the members of Black Team, you have proven to be the most resourceful, the most cunning, the most resilient, and the most ruthless.

Black 6: But despite all of that...I was stripped of my command of Black Team.

Spender sighed.

Spender: The reasons behind that decision were complex. However, they were never personal.

Spencer paused. He stopped in his tracks. Black 6 then also stopped, and turned to face Spender.

Spender: You are, for all intents and purposes, one of the finest soldiers I have ever seen. You have so much potential.

Black 6: I was frequently told that.

Spender: I am sure you were.

Spender reached into his jacket, as he pulled out a cigarette, and put it in his mouth. Spender then fished his lighter out of his pocket, and lit the cigarette. Spender then started moving again, and Black 6 once again took point.

Spender: I realize that these past few weeks...I have been pushing you...pushing Black Team into dangerous situations, non-stop. I realize that I have been hard on all six of you. I realize that I have been unforgiving with the trials I have put you six through...

Black 6: Sir?

Spender: But...I just want to say...that no matter what...the six of you...have surpassed my every expectation. I am proud of Black Team...I am proud of your accomplishments...and I am especially proud of you Black 6.

Spender paused.

Spender: You have surpassed my expectations. You have become an excellent soldier...a loyal soldier. A symbol of excellence...what all soldiers should strive for. You have become a valued asset.

Spender scoffed.

Spender: You know...I have a daughter. Did you know that? I wanted her to be what you have become; a loyal and exceptional soldier...above and beyond the rest. She wanted nothing to do with me, or what I wanted. She was a fucking disappointment. When I compare you to the utter disappointment that was my only daughter...there is no competition. I have more pride in you than I ever had in my daughter.

Spender paused once more.

Spender: It is sad to think about, really.

Spender took a drag of his cigarette.

Black 6: I had no idea you had a daughter. I am guessing you also had...

Spender: A wife? Yeah...I had one of those too. She was equally fucking disappointing. She could not hold true to the convictions that I did. She was of narrow scope...and weak resolve. I was so disgusted with only option was to kill I did. If you ask me...I did the Human race a favor.

Black 6: If she was a traitor...she deserved to die.

Spender: My thoughts exactly Black 6.

Black 6: What about your daughter? Did you kill her as well?

Spender laughed.

Spender: I would rather not get into it...but something tells me...I may have to sooner or later. Given what is going on at the could get away with holding your breath, and finding out very shortly in fact.

Black 6 remained silent for a moment, but then chimed in.

Black 6: Sir...are you sure you don't want to take any prisoners? Personally...I am getting the feeling that there should be AT LEAST one prisoner we should be trying to take here.

Spender: I am sure Black 6. They all have to die. All of them. No prisoners. No exceptions.

Black 6 shrugged, as he didn't care one way or the other. However, he could not shake the thought that there was more going on than he was aware of.

Black 6: Understood sir.

Black began to slow down, as he approached a 4 way junction.

Black 6: Alright sir...the engineering deck is just around the corner to the left. Are you ready?

Spender nodded.

Spender: One moment...

Spender took one final drag of his cigarette, ashing it down to the filter. Spender then tossed the cigarette, but before giving the order to move forward, he reached into his coat, and grabbed another cigarette, put it in his mouth, and lit it up.

Spender: I'm ready now.

Black 6 nodded, as he started to rev up his chain gun. Black 6 then turned the corner, and saw several Insurrectionists standing guard, in a defensive position. Before The Insurrectionists could react, Black 6's chain gun began to fire. Black 6 moved the chain gun left to right, as he cut down The Insurrectionists with a hail of gunfire. Black 6 then released the trigger, and started to move forward.

Black 6: Hold position sir...let me clear the way!

As Black 6 moved, several more Insurrectionists ran into the corridor, from the engineering deck, but they were cut down when Black 6 pulled the trigger on his chain gun. Each of the Insurrections fell, one by one, in rapid succession.

As Black 6 moved closer to the entrance of the engineering deck, he could hear the Insurrectionists inside barking orders to one another.

Insurrectionist: We have hostile targets incoming! Get to defensive positions! Don't let anyone through!

Black 6 stopped before he reached the door. He turned around, and gave Spender the signal to move forward. Spender saw this, and started to move forward, linking up with Black 6.

Black 6: They have the door coved. There is no way we are fighting through this.

Spender: I beg to differ.

Black 6: How are we going to fight our way through?

Spender: The old fashioned way, of course.

Spender grinned, as he reached onto Black 6's belt, and pulled off a flash bang.

Spender: Flash bang first...the two of us second.

Black 6: The flash bang will only give us a couple of seconds.

Spender: Then we will have to move quickly. You take the left, I will take the right. There is plenty of room in there to take cover. If we can get past the first 10 feet of the entrance, we can put obstacles between those Insurrectionists, and us. We will have a place to take cover if necessary.

Black 6 nodded.

Black 6: Alright...that sounds like a good enough plan to me.

Spender: Do what you can to draw fire, however. Your Kevlar is more sturdy than my Uniform.

Black 6: Naturally.

Spender and Black 6 both nodded to each other to signify that they were ready. The two men then approached the door, with Spender on point. Spender then activated the flash bang, and cooked it for a few seconds before tossing it in, aiming high.

Insurrectionist: Heads up...we have a...

Before the Insurrectionists could finish his sentence, the flash bang went off, and Spender and Black 6 entered the engineering deck. Spender kept his aim to the right, while Black 6 kept his aim to the left, as both men pushed forward, and swept the entrance clear of hostiles. Spender moved in close, and used his Shotgun to eliminated hostiles at point blank, moving from Insurrectionist to Insurrectionists. Black 6, on the other hand, moved forward slowly, as he let the bullets from his chain gun tear down the Insurrectionists on his side.

Spender watched as Black 6 moved forward, and started to draw more and more fire from other Insurrectionists in the engineering bay who had regrouped to push back. Spender knew that this would be his opportunity to get in multiple opportunistic kills.

Insurrectionist: Keep up fire on that ODST! Take him down!

Black 6 stood his ground, as he allowed his chain gun to fire at a continuous rate, maintaining a suppressive fire. As a result, The Insurrectionists were unable to get a decent shot on Black 6. Spender, on the other hand, took the opportunity to sneak behind the cover of large computer terminals, to get himself into a position where he could line up clear and unobstructed shots on the Insurrectionists who had their sights on Black 6. Spender moved out of cover, and charged the Insurrectionists with his Shotgun, taking them down one by one. However, before Spender could kill all of the Insurrectionists, one of them did manage to call for reinforcements.

Insurrectionist: We need reinforcements at the engineering deck. Spender is here.

Spender: Second wave is clear Black 6.

Spender stood up, as he looked at Black 6.

Spender: Nice work on the suppression Six.

Black 6: Just doing my job, sir.

Spender: Naturally.

Spender turned away from Black 6, and turned to look at the row of Reactors on the other side of the engineering deck. Each of the reactors had been retrofitted with a large explosive device.

Spender: We have confirmed explosives on the main reaction chamber.

Black 6 saw that his chain gun was almost empty, and as such, nearly useless. He tossed it aside, as he walked up to Spender.

Black 6: I wish Black 4 was here.

Spender looked at the explosives on the reactors.

Spender: I might be able to disarm these. They seem like a very rudimentary design.

Spender looked back to Black 6.

Spender: Black 4 isn't the only person who knows how to nullify an explosive. However, I will admit he may be better at it, I also posses the knowledge to disarm basic and mid-range explosives.

Spender laughed.

Spender: If this was a Nuke...I would leave that in the hands of Black 4. However...we are not dealing with

Black 6 nodded.

Black 6: As long as one of us can do it...we should be fine.

Spender nodded in agreement.

Spender: Let me focus on these bombs. I want you to keep that door covered. I am not sure if you heard or not...but they managed to get a distress call out to their buddies...and I am sure that at any moment, those pricks are going to come flooding through that door!

Black 6: I did hear one of the Insurrectionists call for backup. They even called you out, by name, as if to motive the others to hurry up and get to this location. It seems that everyone is after you. How many people have you pissed off, exactly?

Spender: In my profession...I can never piss of too many people. The fact is...these Insurrectionists are after me because they take their orders from "Vixen".

Black 6: The female Insurrectionist who has been calling the shots pretty much every time I have bumped into The Insurrection. The question is...why is she after you, now?

Spender: That is a long story Black 6. It would take too long to go into, given the circumstance.

Spender ashed out his cigarette, and tossed it aside, as he reached into his coat and pulled out another cigarette, and lit it.

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Spender: We should stay focused. Cover that door, and make sure nobody shoots me in the back while I disarm these bombs.

Black 6 begrudgingly agreed, as he turned and took cover behind the large terminals that the Insurrections had taken cover behind just moments ago. Black 6 kicked the dead bodies of The Insurrectionists out of the way, but kept their weapons close by just in case his own weapons ran dry.

Spender: They will be coming in any moment Black 6. Ready yourself.

Black 6 crouched behind the terminal, as both of his SMGs rested on the top of the terminal itself. Black 6 had an itchy finger. AT the first sign of trouble, he was ready to lay down a full field of suppressive fire. Black 6 steadied his breathing, as he heard Spender work on diffusing the bomb behind him.

Black 6: How is it coming back there?

Spender: I am making good time. The first of the bombs is nearly disarmed.

Just as Spender said this, Black 6 saw a flash bang bounce into the engineering deck from the corridor.

Black 6: Cover your eyes and ears sir…we have a flash bang!

Black 6’s armor kicked into defensive mode when the VISR had identified the flash bang. His VISR had isolated the angle at which the flash bang was sitting in comparison to where his eyes was, and the VISR dimmed accordingly. His helmet also engaged its acoustic dampers so as to protect Black 6 from the deafening effects of the flash bang. More or less, Black 6 was almost totally unaffected by the detonation of the flash bang. It was clear that the Insurrection did not know this, as they came storming into the engineering deck. Black 6 grinned behind his helmet, as he opened fire, letting his SMGs go fully automatic, as he cut down the invading Insurrectionist, one after the other, catching them totally unprepared.

Insurrectionist 1: Shit…fall back. The Flash bang didn’t work! Fall back!

Black 6 simply kept firing, as he violently cut down the first wave of Insurrectionists. Black 6 found himself to be totally unphased by the screams of pain as critically wounded Insurrectionists tried to crawl to safety.

Spender: First bomb down…moving onto the second one now. Keep up the defense Black 6.

Black 6 began to reload, as he heard the next wave of Insurrectionists getting ready to breach.

Insurrectionist 2: Riot shields forward! Push forward!

Just as Black 6 said this, he saw three Insurrectionist, shoulder to shoulder, moving forward slowly, holding large riot shields up. Black 6 examined these three Insurrectionists from head to toe, but could find no way past their riot shields. At the rate at which they were moving, they were going to close in on Black 6 in no more than 15 seconds. Black 6 knew that ballistics was not the answer. That is when Black 6 put both of his SMGs down, and reached onto his belt, and drew two grenades. Black 6 pulled the pin on both grenades, cooking them for about 2 seconds, before rolling them to the feet of the Insurrectionists with the riot shields. One of the Insurrectionists with the riot shield saw the two grenades, and stopped in his tracks.

Insurrectionist 2: Frag out!

Black 6 ducked behind the terminal he had been taking cover behind, as both of the frag grenades exploded. The riot shields were unable to take the blunt force explosion of the frag grenades. As a result, the three riot shields had been severely damaged and compromised. Black 6 then emerged from cover and fired both of his SMGs. The hail of bullets from his SMGs managed to break through all three riot shields, and kill the Insurrectionists that had been wielding them. With the riot shields out of the way, Black 6 had a clear shot at the Insurrectionists who had been following behind.

Insurrectionist 3: Suppressive fire! Suppressive fire!

The Insurrectionist that had been following behind laid down fire on Black 6. Black 6 was forced to duck behind cover, as the Insurrectionists moved forward, keeping up the suppressive fire.

Black 6 peeked around the side of the terminal that he was behind, and began to fire. He managed to take down two of the leading Insurrectionists, and wound several others, effectively halting their advance.

Insurrectionist 3: That ODST is dug in! We need to route him! Move forward! Do not stop!

Black 6 could hear The Insurrectionists moving forward once again. Black 6 rolled out of cover, and took aim at the Insurrectionist line, and pulled the triggers on both of his SMGs, and laid down a hail of bullets on The Insurrection. The fire from Black 6’s SMGs cut through the Insurrectionists with relative ease. However, it was not long before Black 6 had to retreat behind cover due to the fact that his clips had run dry.

Black 6 took cover once more as he began to reload.

Spender: Second bomb has been deactivated. Moving onto number 3. Hold the line Black 6…I am almost done.

Black 6 sighed, as he readied himself for the next wave of Insurrectionists.

Insurrectionist 4: We have no choice. We have to push onwards. We cannot let them disarm the final bomb. All teams…prepare to breech.

Black 6 knew that The Insurrection was about to come in force. He readied himself for the final assault. However, before Black 6 could even get his bearings, he heard the sound of explosives on the floor above him. Black 6 looked up and saw that two separate teams of Insurrectionists had used C4 to blast their way through the walls on the deck above, and had created a breach point on the upper level. Black 6 knew that he was now surrounded on all sides.

Black 6: Sir…we have hostiles on the upper deck! Eyes up!

Black 6 remained behind cover, as he aimed upwards, and began to fire at one of the breach points, hitting two of the Insurrectionists, while forcing the others back behind the breech. Black 6 then adjusted his sights to the other side of the upper deck, and laid down fire, killing three Insurrectionists, while the others fell back to avoid the gun fire.

Spender: Keep up the suppressive fire Black 6…do not let them through! I am almost done! Hold them off!

Black 6 found himself under fire from three different directions. He kept low to narrow the attack angles from the Insurrectionists above, and to stay covered from the Insurrectionists who were moving in through the ground entrance.

Insurrectionist 4: Converge on the ODST. Go! Kill him! He is just one guy!

Black 6 laughed at the fact that he had garnered so much agro from the Insurrection. He knew that this level of agro would, at least, keep Spender safe. Despite this, Black 6 had to keep his wits, and he needed to be surgical in his strikes. One wrong move would mean a hailstorm of bullets would cut him down.

Black 6 could hear Insurrectionists coming in through the main entrance. Black 6 reach onto his belt, and grabbed his last grenade. He pulled the pin, and threw it over the computer terminal he was behind.

Insurrectionist 4: Frag…front and center!

Black 6 heard the grenade explode, followed by the sounds of several distinct Insurrectionists screaming pain, as they were hit by the explosion. Knowing that he had secured his flank, Black 6 used both of his SMGs, and aimed upwards, aiming at both breech points on the upper deck. Black 6 began to lay down suppressive fire on the breech points, keeping The Insurrectionists at bay. Black 6 kept the suppressive fire up, as he began to change his position. He started to move towards a set of stairs on the far side of the engineering deck. Black 6 moved up to the second level, and found that he had a much more clear view of the two breech points.

Black 6 pushed forward towards the first breech Point, keeping one SMG aimed at the breech point in front of him, and his second SMG ready to lay down suppressive fire on the breech point on the other side of the engineering deck. As Black 6 moved closer, he saw two Insurrectionists peek around the corner of the breech point. As they did, he fired his SMG, killing them both.

Black 6 then looked to his side, as he saw several Insurrectionists run through the second breech point, on the other side of the engineering deck. He watched as they moved down the catwalk. However, before Black 6 could begin firing, he had to duck down, as he came under fire.

Insurrectionist 5: He is in cover! Take him down!

Black 6 began to reload, staying in cover. As he reloaded, he could hear the boots of the Insurrectionists, as they walked along the adjacent catwalk. Based on the number of footsteps, and how frequently he was hearing then, he counted four distinct Insurrectionists.

Insurrectionist 5: Keep your sights on that ODST. Do not let your guard down!

Black 6 tried to emerge from cover, but he had to quickly duck back down when he came under intense fire.

Insurrectionist 5: Flank him! Keep your guard up! Kill the bastard!

Black 6 tried to emerge from cover again, but he once again came under a hail of gunfire. He was pinned down by very desperate soldiers who could not afford a single screw up in their tactics.

Insurrectionist 5: We almost have him! Take him down! Don’t let him escape.

Black 6 scoffed. He knew that he had to act quickly, and decisively. Black 6 took a deep breath, and without any more hesitation, he emerged from cover, and began to move to the side, as he fired both of his SMGs at the Insurrectionists that were converging on his position. As Black 6 emegred from cover, and fired his SMGs, he took several direct hits to his chest, but he did manage to bring The Insurrectionists down before they managed to do any serious damage.

As the final Insurrectionists went down, Black 6 could see that his HUD was flashing, indicating that he had sustained a projectile injury. Black 6 ignored this indicator, as he began to backtrack towards Spender’s position. As soon as Black 6 had approached Spender, Black 6 holstered his SMGs, and watched as Spender cracked a grin.

Spender: The final explosive has been disarmed. Eat your heart out Black 4.

Black 6: All three are confirmed offline?

Spender stood up and looked at Black 6.

Spender: Of course. I know what I am doing Black 6.

Black 6 didn’t respond.

Spender: With these bombs out of the way…we can begin mopping up these Insurrectionists.

Spender paused. He reached into his jacket and pulled out another cigarette. He then drew his lighter, and lit the cigarette.

Spender: From what I heard…you did a hell of a job mopping up the army of Insurrectionists that tried to retake the engineering deck. Nice work. The sounds of the gun fire cutting these traitors down…it was music to my ears.

Black 6: Just doing my job.

Before Spender could reply, he was interrupted.

Vixen: Just doing your job…the excuse that every soldier gives to justify the atrocities that he commits.

Black 6 turned his head, but he stopped when he was stopped by Vixen.

Vixen: Hold it ODST. Don’t move an inch more. If you as much as budge, I will put a bullet in Spender’s head. I have a very good aim with this weapon…and I rarely miss. Put your hands up ODST…and keep them up.

Black 6 saw that Vixen was holding an M6G Magnum, and had it pointed right at Spender. Based on the angle, she had a headshot in her iron sights. Black 6 turned his head to look at Spender, who gave a nod, and a wink. Black 6 then nodded, as he raised his hands.

Vixen: Move aside ODST. Get the hell out of my line of sight.

Black 6 didn’t move out of the way. Instead, he moved between Vixen and Spender.

Vixen: You prick…that is the opposite of what I asked for!

Black 6 turned to face Vixen, his hands still in the air.

Black 6: If you have any intention of killing Spender…you have to go through me first.

Vixen scoffed, the rage was visible on her face.

Spender then began to laugh.

Spender: Isn’t his loyalty inspiring? Why were you never that loyal Kathryn?

Vixen frowned.

Vixen: You have no right to call me that!

Spender: When did I lose the right?

Vixen stepped to the side, as she tried to get a better shot. However, Black 6 moved with her, obstructing her view. Vixen scoffed again.

Vixen: You are a fucking coward! You hide behind others instead of facing the music.

Spender: You are a traitor. You turned against everything you were taught for your own selfish ambition.

Black 6 listened to the exchange. He was unsure of what exactly was going on, but it was clear that these two had history.

Spender: Without a doubt…you are my greatest failure. The fact that you, of all people, would end up as a traitor, an opponent to everything that I hold dear…it makes me sick.

Vixen: I saw you for what you were…and so did mom.

Spender: Your mother was a fucking traitor. When I joined The Trust...she turned on me. She never believed in the mission of The Trust. She believed that The Trust was "evil". She was so firm in that belief, that she went so far as to try and kill me.

Spender paused.

Spender: She never understood what The Trust stood for. She never understood what we aim to accomplish. She was too narrow of vision. She had to die.

Vixen: There is nothing you can say that justifies what you did!

Vixen tightened her grip on her Magnum, as she kept stepping side to side, trying to get a clear shot on Spender.

Spender: I don't need to justify my actions to you, of all people.

Spender scoffed.

Spender: Had I have had things go exactly my would be dead as well.

Vixen scoffed, but there was a clear sense of defeat and sadness in her eyes.

Vixen: Anyone who has the capacity to kill their own my little more than a monster.

Vixen paused.

Vixen: I am ashamed that I carry your bloodline!

Vixen paused again.

Vixen: There is nothing redeemable about you. You are the very definition of evil. People like you...have to be expunged.

Vixen frowned.

Vixen: The only thing that I have lived for, for all these years, is to kill avenge the memories of the innocent people that have been slain at your feet...all in the name of your selfish ambitions.

Vixen began to circle around the room, slowly stepping to the side, trying to get past Black 6, who continued to impede her shot. Vixen was becoming impatient.

Vixen: Had it not been for this asshole standing between you and me…I would kill you with my bare hands. You deserve nothing less than to die slowly and painfully for what you have put me through my entire life! You robbed me of my childhood…my happiness…anything that would have allowed me to live a normal life.

Spender grinned as he laughed.

Spender: So much suffering…squandered.

Spender paused.

Spender: They say adversity builds character. You have had your share of adversity…but I see no character. All I see is a child…with much Adversity…and no character. I have seen no strength and no resiliency on your part.

Spender grinned, as he reached into his jacket and pulled out a cigarette. He then drew a lighter and lit his cigarette.

Spender: I could have turned you into an amazing soldier. You had all the potential in the world.

Spender paused.

Spender: You even had more potential than any single member of Black Team…and look how unstoppable they are! I hate to say it Kathryn…you squandered a brilliant future…a future that could have seen you harnessing the future of mankind…controlling its destiny…guiding it…delivering it to the promise land…much like the Messiah guided the Jews out of captivity. That is what I wanted…that is what your mother never understood. That is what YOU do not understand.

Vixen shook her head.

Vixen: You are insane. There is no doubt about it.

Spender: I am not insane Kathryn. I just have a broader vision of the future. I was born to lead. All of my qualities are leadership qualities.

Vixen: No…you are a mad man! You are a twisted man, with a twisted view, and a twisted vision. There is nothing good about you, there is nothing good about what you do. You are a repugnant Human being.

Vixen was starting to get impatient.

Spender: I grow weary of your insubordinate behavior. You are beginning to annoy me.

Spender placed his left hand on Black 6’s shoulder, as he used his right hand to draw his Magnum. Spender aimed around Black 6, right at Vixen. Spender effectively used Black 6 as a Human shield.

Vixen saw what Spender was doing, and she took her shots, hitting Black 6 in the torso several time, knocking him back, and in effect Spender. Spender, however, did manage to get off one shot, which managed to hit Vixen in her left arm. Vixen stumbled back, and screamed in pain from her wound, but she did her best to regain her composure, and regain her footing.

Black 6 had fallen backwards, knocking Spender back as well. However, Spender managed to hold his gun in his hand, as he once again tried to take aim at Vixen. Vixen saw Spender take aim, and she knew that she still didn’t have a clear shot, so she decided to fall back, and try to regroup with the other Insurrectionists. Vixen began to back out of the engineering deck, the same way that she came in. She kept her weapon aimed at Spender and Black 6 as she moved back.

Vixen: All points…this is Vixen. Fall back and regroup near Hanger bay 2. We have sustained heavy losses, and we need to get reorganized.

Vixen kept backing up. She was silent for a moment, before she raised her voice, as if she was getting mad at someone over the comm line.

Vixen: I do not care if you are not finished. We need to regroup…now!

Vixen exited the engineering deck.

Black 6 rolled to the side, as he slowly climbed back to his feet.

Black 6: She is getting away…

Spender: Yes…she is…

Spender paused.

Spender: Hurry up Black 6…go and get her…and be sure to bring her back to me alive. I want to be the one to finish her off.

Black 6 looked at Spender as he got back to his feet. It was clear that Black 6 was aware of how totally uninterested Spender was about the fact that Black 6 had been shot several times in the torso.

Black 6: Yes sir…

Black 6 scoffed behind his helmet, annoyed by Spender’s callous reaction and his total disconnect. However, Black 6 turned, as he sprinted out of the engineering deck, in pursuit of Vixen. As Black 6 took chase, he began to replay the last few moments in his head, over and over. Black 6 was bothered by the fact that Spender had willingly, and nonchalantly used him as a human shield so he could have a firefight with Vixen. Black 6’s qualm was with how callous Spender was, as if he had used Black 6 as a piece of equipment, ready to deflect bullets at a moment’s notice. Black 6 could not escape the idea that Spender, frankly, placed little value on Black 6’s life. While Black 6 had willing put himself in the line of fire, he did it because of his sense of duty. Spender, on the other hand, had no honorable intentions in what he did.

Despite this, Black 6’s mind became clouded with the words “duty” and “loyalty” the more he thought about what Spender did, as if some part of him was convinced that Spender WAS some sort of paragon. However…there was another part of Black 6 that resisted these ideas. It was as if there was a vicious tug of war going on inside of Black 6…and neither side was winning.

Black 6 sprinted through the corridor, leaving a slight trail of blood behind him as he walked.

Black 6: I just need to focus on my duty. I just have to get that bitch in my iron sights. I just need to focus…on my job. I need to focus on my duty…I have to do my a soldier…

As Black 6 said this, the words that Jonas had spoken to him long ago began to ring in his head.

Black 1: To be honest Tye...I really do not give a rats ass who is in my iron long as they bleed, fall down, and die. I can sleep at night knowing that I am still useful, that I have fulfilled my duty, and that I have proven my loyalty.

Black 6 did his best to clear his mind of these errant thoughts, but he was certain something in his head was on the verge of snapping…that something was under too much pressure to hold out much longer. It was becoming more and more clear, with every step…that something was wrong. Black 6 started to become distracted, he could not focus on what he was trying to do, no matter how hard he tried.

Black 6 had to stop. He leaned against the wall for a moment, as he did his best to try and collect himself.

Black 6: I am just doing my job...I have to do my job. Nothing else matters.

Black 6 paused for a moment, and then got back underway. He did his best to remember what had happened on Madrigal. He did his best to remember that the woman that he was chasing, was the same woman who attack Outpost Lambda on Madrigal. Black 6 did his level best to remember the faces of each soldier that had died on Madrigal because of Vixen. These images in his head drove him crazy. He had never been so angry before in his life. There was something about this level of anger he was experiencing that cleared his mind, like a great wind cleared his perceptions. Black 6 felt renewed…he could once again focus on his task…he no longer felt himself burdened or encumbered by errant thoughts.

Black 6 picked up the pace, as he broke out into a full out sprint, taking chase after Vixen with a renewed conviction. Black 6 moved as quickly as he could, heading for hanger bay 2 to once again confront Vixen. Black 6 reached to his sides, as he grabbed his two Automags. He raised his pistols, and aimed them forward as he moved.

As Black 6 moved through the corridors, he received a message from Novak, who was still on the bridge.

Novak: Black 6…do you copy?

Black 6 answered the transmission.

Black 6: I am here.

Novak: Thank God. I have been monitoring your vitals. They are all over the place. Are you alright?

Black 6: I am fine. What do you need Doc? I am busy at the moment.

Novak: I am just calling to let you know that we have been able to patch you into a few rudimentary functions on the ship. I know it is not much, but it some of this stuff might be useful in a pinch.

Black 6: What do you got for me?

Novak: Lighting, elevators, and door controls. That is about it.

Black 6: Good enough.

Novak: Also…you should know that I just got into contact with the rest of Black Team. They are on their way. They got delayed by a straggler group of Insurrectionists who engaged them. According to their reports…they should be here in about 10 minutes.

Novak laughed.

Novak: To think we went into the mission trying to avoid Insurrectionist casualties…and look where we are now. I guess the battle plan never survives contact with the enemy.

Black 6 sighed.

Black 6: Keep me posted. Black 6 out.

Black 6 closed the comm line. He continued moving forward. As Black 6 got close to hanger bay 2, he could hear Vixen talking to her Insurrectionists.

Vixen: We had Spender cornered...but one of those ODSTs was with him…and he held the line. We couldn’t even touch Spender.

Insurrectionist Engineer: I wish I had a few more minutes…I could have dug up every little piece of dirt on him. Unfortunately…I was not able to get everything…I was unable to finish the upload.

Vixen: What we have will have to do. We can use whatever we got to mount another offensive against him some other time.

Vixen spoke in a very stern voice, and there was a clean indication of impatience in her voice.

Vixen: Where the hell is our evac!

Just had Vixen had said this, Black 6 walked past the threshold to hanger bay 2, as his took aim at the Insurrectionists around Vixen, and he started to fire.

Vixen: Take cover! That ODST followed me!

Vixen ducked behind a pile of supply crates, as the two dozen Insurrectionist she was with, each scattered to find cover. Black 6, however, was able to kill 4 of the Insurrectionists in the pre-emptive strike.

Vixen: Shoot that bastard! Everyone…focus all fire on that ODST! Kill him! For fuck’s sake…kill him!

Vixen readied her Assault Rifle, as she emerged from cover and began to fire at Black 6, along with several other Insurrectionists. Black 6 ran to the side, firing off his Automags, as he took a dive to the side, landing behind a Hornet that was in the corner of the hanger bay.

Vixen: All weapons forward… he is behind the Hornet! Kill him! Don’t let him escape! Converge on his location!

Black 6 began to reload his Automags, going on his last two clips, as all of the Insurrectionists emerged from cover, and began to converge on Black 6’s location. Black 6 could hear the slow footsteps of the Insurrectionists closing in on his position.

Vixen watched as her Insurrectionists closed in on Black 6. She then began to shout, speaking to Black 6.

Vixen: There will be no getting out of this one you prick.

Black 6 knew that he was surrounded and heavily outgunned. He knew that if he went one direction to engage the Insurrectionists, he would be immediately flanked. Black 6 sighed, knowing that he was in a very tight spot. However, Black 6 had an idea that just so happened to be his best chance at getting out of his current predicament.

As the footsteps from The Insurrectionists got closer, Black 6 accessed his HUD, and patched himself into the ship controls that Novak had managed to get him. Black 6 grinned, as he cut all of the lighting on the deck he was on. As all the lights went out, Black 6 activated his night vision mode on his VISR.

Insurrectionist: Shit…we cannot see anything!

Black 6 readied himself, as he got out of cover from behind the Hornet, and took aim at each Insurrectionist, one at a time, and put a single bullet into each of their heads. The Insurrectionists started to drop like flies, unable to defend themselves in the darkness. It was not long before Black 6 had killed every Insurrectionist in the hanger bay, save for Vixen herself, who was lost in the dark.

The only thing Vixen knew was the direction that the sound of gunfire was coming from. She backed up as she fired her assault rifle in brief bursts, trying her level best to try and hit Black 6, but to no avail.

Vixen started to panic when the clip on her Assault Rifle had run dry, and the sound of clicking filled the hanger bay. Vixen knew that she was, for the most part, about to die. However, to her surprise, the lights came back on. As the lights came back on, Vixen saw numerous dead bodies belonging to her Insurrectionists scattered about the hanger bay. Vixen backed up in horror, unable to stand the sight that was before her. Vixen took a few more steps backwards, before she was stopped, when she backed into someone. Vixen quickly turned around, and saw Black 6 behind her. As soon as Vixen looked into Black 6’s visor, Black 6 backhanded Vixen as hard as he could, sending her flying backwards, rolling over a supply crate, and hitting the ground with great force.

Black 6: Is that the best you can do.? The illusive Vixen…The Insurrections most notorious terrorist. I am not impressed.

Vixen climbed back to her feet, as she circled around the supply crate, and charged at Black 6. As she got close, she sent a right hook right at Black 6’s visor. However, Black 6 had caught Vixen’s fist right before impact, as he tossed her arm to the side, and sent a right hook into her stomach, followed by an elbow to the back of her neck. The force of impact from his elbow dropped Vixen to the ground unceremoniously.

Black 6: Very pathetic. I expected more. You cannot even defend yourself.

Vixen tried to get back to her feet, but she was having a lot of difficulty.

Black 6: Let me help you up.

Black 6 grabbed Vixen by the back of the neck, and lifted her to her feet, where he then grabbed her by the neck, and lifted her off the ground. Black 6 looked up at Vixen, as he paced around the hanger bay.

Black 6: You have been a pain in the ass for far too long.

Black 6 slammed Vixen into the hull of the Hornet

Black 6: An annoyance to hard working men like Constantine Spender, who have dedicated their lives to preserving our very way of live.

Black 6 slammed Vixen into the Hornet once more.

Black 6: You are terrorist scum… disgust me. If I had my way…I would kill you right here. All I would have to do is squeeze.

Black 6 began to squeeze his hand, but relented and tossed Vixen aside, letting her body hit the ground, and roll.

Black 6: I have to bring you back to Spender. Unfortunately…he gets to be the one to finish you off. I would kill for the opportunity to kill you myself. Killing garbage like you…is what I live for. It is why I joined the military. It is why I pick up arms and fight. It is what gives me purpose. Killing people like what I live for!

Vixen started to cough, as she held her sides in pain.

Vixen: Your only purpose…is to enforce the will of my father. Beyond that…you are nothing to him. He values nothing, short of his own goals and ambition. You are an asset...a tool...a weapon...

Black 6 circled around Vixen.

Vixen: He wants power…nothing more. Do you think you will share in that power? Don’t count on it. My father…is an evil man. You are expendable to him.

Vixen looked up at Black 6.

Vixen: You are a weapon…nothing more. If there was any free will…any individuality inside of you…you would know that what you are doing…is wrong. You would look at him and see him for what he is...a tyrant

Vixen coughed. Black 6 resented what Vixen was saying, which led him to send a swift kick right into her gut.

Black 6: I am no weapon. I am a…

Vixen: Loyal…soldier. I have heard it all before. He used to speak to me about these ideas as well...but I was smart enough to refute them.

Vixen placed her hands on the ground, as she pushed herself upwards. She struggled to get to her feet. Vixen pulled herself up, and looked at Black 6.

Vixen: You are exactly...what he wants you to be. You are a extension of his desire for absolute power. My a tyrant. He has always been a is why he does what he does. It is why he has lived his entire career in service of The Trust. Like all tyrants, he obscures the truth behind lies...the lies that people want to hear. You refuse to believe that he has turned you from a good what you are now...a faceless, nameless...killing machine. You operate under an alias. BLACK ^ is what he calls you. Tell me...what is your REAL name?

Black 6 looked at Vixen.

Black 6: My name is not important.

Vixen: Point and case. You have been made into a don't want to believe it, you want to be told that it is not the he lies to you, and tells you what you want to hear.

Black 6 glared at Vixen.

Vixen: The sad part of it that you are none the wiser. Right now...everything I am saying to you...your mind is dismissing it...because that is what you have been programmed to do...dismiss the truth...and embrace a lie.

Vixen looked at Black 6.

Vixen: He used you as a human shield so that he could hide from me. Did he care? No! He sent you after me...right after I put three rounds right into your torso. Did he show any concern? No, I doubt it. Face it…you have one purpose…to do his dirty work. You get your hands dirty so he doesn’t have to.

Black 6 glared at Vixen. He breathed heavily, torn between rage and uncertainty. Black 6 was unable to respond to Vixen. He once again found himself uncertain and insecure about who he was. He once again felt distracted by an inner conflict that he could not put out of his mind. Black 6 looked away, as he stepped back. Vixen could tell from Black 6’s body language that she had gotten under his skin.

Black 6 let his guard down, as he found himself very deep in thought about everything that Vixen had said. His mind raced back and forth, between everything that he had been told by The Trust, everything that he had learned throughout his military career, and everything that Vixen had just said to him. As far as Black 6 was concerned, he was trapped between a very vicious trifecta.

Black 6: I am not a weapon. I am a person. I am a soldier.

Vixen continued to step back, as she eyed an Assault Rifle belonging to one of the dead Insurrectionists. Vixen knew that even in his delirium, that Black 6 still had the potential to be very dangerous and even more unpredictable. Vixen watched Black 6 carefully, as she heard a single transmission coming from her earpiece.

Insurrectionist: Ma’am…we are inbound…ETA…30 seconds.

Vixen didn’t respond. She simply kept her eye on Black 6.

Black 6: I am a person…my life has value.

Black 6 began to breathe heavily, as he looked at Vixen.

Black 6: You are trying to confuse me. You are trying to make me believe that The Trust places no value on my life. You’re wrong!

Black 6 scoffed, as he began to walk towards Vixen. Vixen began to back up.

Black 6: You are trying to turn me against The Trust.

Black 6 backed Vixen up against a large supply crate, as he reached out, and grabbed her by the throat.

Black 6: I am Black 6…and my duty is to ensure the success and the preservation of The Trust. I am the enforcement for The Trust. I am the first and the last line of defense for the preservation of everything the Human race has built! Only the Trust can ensure the continued survival of The Human race!

Black 6 began to squeeze.

Black 6: You are the enemy!

Black 6 began to squeeze harder, fully intent on killing Vixen, despite Spender ordering Vixen’s capture.

Black 6: You are a traitor!

Vixen used every ounce of her strength to pound on Black 6’s forearm, trying to get Black 6 to loosen his grip. However, Vixen had neither the stamina nor the strength to free herself. Vixen felt her energy slipping away, as Black 6 did not relent. However, Black 6 released Vixen at the last moment when a Pelican flew right up to the security barrier of the hanger bay, and then flew inside. Black 6 turned to face the Pelican, dropping Vixen in the process.

Black 6 could see that the pilot in the cockpit of the Pelican was not a member of Black Team. Black 6 knew that this was another batch of Insurrectionists. Black 6 reached to his side and drew one of his Automags, as he took aim at the cockpit and pulled the trigger as fast as he could. However, his Automag simply made clicking noises, as Black 6 realized that he was out of ammo.

Vixen looked up at Black 6, as she realized as well that he had no ammo. Vixen knew that this was her best chance to escape The Ulterior Motive, and that it was also the perfect chance to collect a valuable intel source. Vixen looked to her side as she saw an Assault Rifle only a few feet away. Vixen mustered his strength, as she rolled to the side and grabbed the Assault Rifle, and took aim at Black 6, and pulled the trigger. Vixen fired off a little more than half a clip of the Assault Rifle into the chest of Black 6. The force of the impacts sent Black 6 flying backwards, lading on his back, hitting the ground hard. Vixen watched as Black 6 fell. Once he was down, Vixen looked at the Pelican and signaled for help.

Black 6 could see the HUD of his VISR reporting multiple injuries to his torso, as he struggled to breath from his injuries. Based on the updated information on his HUD, Black 6 had not sustained any direct shots to any vital organs or tissue, but he had sustained a number of wounds to non-critical areas.

Several Insurrectionists exited the Pelican, as they made their way over to Vixen. As they got close, they helped Vixen back to her feet. Once Vixen was back on her feet, she looked at two of the Insurrectionists with a stern look.

Vixen: You two…go and get him…

Vixen pointed at Black 6, who was still on the ground, nearly motionless.

Vixen: Put him out before you take him on the Pelican. He is, without a doubt, still dangerous…even if he is bleeding out.

One of the Insurrectionists look at Vixen with a confused look.

Insurrectionist 1: Why do we even care about him? What good is he to us?

Vixen: That is one of Spender’s top field operatives. That means he is a valuable source of intelligence. He would be a worthwhile prisoner to interrogate.

Vixen glared at the Insurrectionists, as they tried to rationalize her reasoning.

Insurrectionist 1: Ma’am…are you aware of what that guy did to our teams on the surface? How do you expect to hold him in confinement?

Vixen: We will find a way! Now…carry out my orders!

The two Insurrectionists sighed, as they reluctantly followed their orders. They walked over to where Black 6 was laying. One of the Insurrectionists grabbed his Assault Rifle, and hit Black 6 in the face as hard as he could with the butt of his rifle. Black 6’s head recoiled backwards, his head slamming into the floor. However, Black 6 remained conscious. The Insurrectionist hit Black 6 again, with Black 6’s head slamming against the ground again.

The Insurrectionist started to get frustrated, as he continually slammed the butt of his Assault Rifle into Black 6’s helmet, over and over. However, Black 6 maintained consciousness, but only barely.

Insurrectionist 1: Is this gun unconscious yet? How the hell is he still moving!?

The Insurrectionist raised his rifle into the air, and slammed it down on Black 6’s helmet as hard as he could. This final hit knocked Black 6 out, as Black 6 fell motionless.

Insurrectionist 1: Is he dead? Did I kill him?

Insurrectionist 2: Who knows? Let’s just grab this guy and get the hell out of here.

The two Insurrectionists grabbed each of Black 6’s arms, as they dragged him back to the Pelican. They managed to drag him aboard the Pelican, as they saw the third Insurrectionist tending to Vixen’s injureies.

Insurrectionist 1: Ma’am…we got him.

Vixen looked at the two Insurrectionists, and then at Black 6.

Vixen: Is he still alive?

Insurrectionist 1: No clue. I had to literally hit this guy a dozen times with my gun to put him out. This prick is tough as nails for sure.

Vixen: He better not be dead!

As Vixen said this, she turned her head to the cockpit, as she yelled an order.

Vixen: Pilot! Seal the rear hatch…and get us out of here! Get us back to The Hades Eclipse…on the double!

The pilot did not respond verbally, but just as Vixen had given the order, the rear hatch of the Pelican started to close, and the sounds of the engines revving up became audible inside of the passenger cabin. Vixen breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that she was able to escape The Ulterior Motive alive. Vixen kept her composure, but under her resolved exterior, she was furious that she was unable to get to Spender. The thought of how many people died during this nearly fruitless expedition enraged her. She knew that after this debacle, her forces were severely depleted, and many of her resources had been expended beyond salvage. Her only solace came from the intel she managed to steal from The Ulterior Motive’s main computer…and the prisoner she was able to take.

UNSC Marathon Class - The Ulterior Motive - Main Bridge - Currently in orbit of Draco III - 1420 hours - May 22nd 2515.

Novak was still on the bridge of the Ulterior Motive. He was still working to restore basic functionality to the rest of the Ulterior Motive. He was also busy coordinating with ODST Black Team, who had just arrived in Hanger Bay 1. Novak was communicating with ODST Black Team, who could be heard over the bridge’s comm system.

Black 1: Novak…we have just docked in Hanger Bay 1. Orders?

Novak thought for a moment, and then spoke to ODST Black Team over the comm.

Novak: Make your way to Hanger Bay 2. Last I heard, Black 6 was in that area, trying to apprehend the Insurrectionist ring leader. Assist him.

Black 1: Understood sir. We are moving out.

Novak: I have been having difficulty raising Black 6 over the comm. Keep your eyes peeled and be sure to check your fire.

Black 1: When was the last time that Black 6 checked in?

Novak: He last checked in when he was in pursuit of The Insurrectionist leader. He may already be engaged in battle. Stay sharp.

Novak turned when he heard the door to the bridge open. He reached to his side to draw his weapon, but he stopped when he saw that Spender had walked onto the bridge.

Novak: Black Team…stand by…

Novak muted his comm system, as he approached Spender.

Novak: Good to see that you are alright sir!

Spender: Did you expect anything else from me?

Novak: Not at all. I am just relieved to have confirmation that you are still alive is all.

Spender didn’t respond. He simply got right down to business.

Spender: I managed to disarm the explosives in the engineering deck. We are secured on that front. However, I want a status update on Black 6. Was he able to capture Vixen?

Novak: Unknown. I have been unable to contact him. I am unsure of his current status. The rest of Black Team is already engaged and they are investigating as we speak. They should have a report for us any moment now.

Spender: Why did it take them so long to get here in the first place? They were delayed by a significant amount of time.

Novak: I am sure their excuses will be revealed when they are debriefed.

Spender sighed, as he sat down in the command chair. He reached into his jacket, and began to light up another cigarette. As he did, Black Team contacted the bridge.

Black 1: Bridge, this is ODST Black Team…do you copy?

Before Novak could answer, Spender activated the comm system, and spoke to Black 1.

Spender: Status report…Black 1.

Black 1: We have reached hanger bay 2. There are clear signs of a firefight. There is significant small arms damage to the hanger bay. There are a LOT of dead Insurrectionists. However, there is no sign of Black 6…or The Insurrectionist leader/

Spender frowned.

Black 3: Bridge…this is Black 3. I found Black 6’s Automags on the ground. They were laying in a pool of blood. Unsure whose blood it is, however.

Novak looked at Spender. They both had a look of shock cross their faces.

Novak: Black 3…your suits are capable of running basic and rudimentary biological sampling and comparison tests. Using either your left or right hand, get a sampling of the blood on the tip of one of your fingers, and use your HUD to initialize a basic scan and comparison. I want to know if the blood on Black 6’s weapon belongs to Black 6.

Black 3: Copy that…stand by.

Novak and Spender exchanged looks. They each had a look of concern on their faces. They had no idea how this would disrupt ODST Black Team. They could not forsee how this would affect their chemistry.

Black 3: Bridge…I have a positive match. Blood sample belongs to Black 3.

Novak tensed up and sighed.

Spender: Is there any sign of Black 6? Anything at all?

There was a brief moment of silence.

Black 1: Negative…no sign of him.

Nobody had any explanation as to the whereabouts of Black 6, but Novak was thinking something that he dared not vocalize, for fear of reprisal. However, he knew that he had to say something, no matter the reaction.

Novak: It is possible…

Novak paused.

Novak: It is possible that Black 6 was captured by The Insurrection.

The idea was immediately rejected.

Spender: Impossible! I refuse to believe it!

Novak turned around, as he began to enter several commands into one of the computers.

Novak: Our sensors are still malfunctioning after the last attack I cannot isolate Black 6’s transponder. If we could, we could isolate his position, and confirm or repudiate that theory. However…that is all we have, given the current state of our evidence.

Novak turned and walked to the front of the bridge. He looked out one of the viewing windows, where The Hades Eclipse could be clearly seen.

Novak: However…I do know one thing; whether Black 6 had been captured or not…we need to leave…now. We have no idea what the status of their weapons are…but we know that we will be unable to defend ourselves should any more fighting arise. Our weapon systems are no longer responding to input.

ODST Black Team was listening over the comm.

Black 1: Send us to the Insurrectionist ship. We can continue this fight! We can capture or destroy the ship. If Black 6 could single handedly repel The Insurrection off of this ship…Black Team at full strength should mop the floor with these assholes. We can verify Black 6’s fate, assist him if need be, and we can finish eh job.

Novak shook his head.

Novak: We may not have a lot of time to even begin executing this plan. For all we know, The Insurrectionist ship could be lining up shots. Whatever we decided to do…the decision must be made now!

Spender thought for a moment. He then spoke up.

Spender: ODST Black Team…prepare for boarding action against the Insurrectionist ship. I will not allow them to get away with what they have done, and I will not allow them to escape with our personnel. Get your asses to that ship…and do whatever you need to do to capture that ship intact!

Black 1: With pleasure sir!

Just as Black 1 had said this, Spender’s attention was caught by The Hades Eclipse, as it started to move off, heading away from both The Ulterior Motive, and the planet.

Spender: They are moving off! They are falling back!

Spender stood up as he ran to the front of the bridge. He ran towards the helm station, as he tried to get a destination solution on them.

Spender: I need more power to the sensor array! Get it online!

However, just as Spender said this, The Hades Eclipse began to open a Slipspace rift.

Novak: Slip space rupture…visual confirmation!

Spender looked up, as he saw The Hades Eclipse fly towards the rift they had opened. Within seconds, the ship had transitioned to slipspace, and was gone.

Spender: Damnit!

Spender was furious. He grit his teeth, as the pupil’s in his eyes began to dilate, and his fists clenched.

Spender: God Damnit!

Spender scoffed, as he looked around the bridge. Everyone had their eyes on him. Spender was breathing heavily, trying to keep his temper in check. However, the thought that he had been bested by a band of Insurrectionists, led by his daughter, combined with the possible loss of Black 6 into enemy hands, was almost too much for him to keep control of.

Spender: I don’t care what has to be done…get this ship moving, get our weapons online…and TRACK DOWN THAT FUCKING INSURRECTIONIST SHIP!

Everyone was stunned silent, as they saw, for the first time, their CO lose his composure.

Spender: GO!

Everyone jumped as they got right to work. Spender turned and walked off the bridge, heading towards his office. As he did, Novak spoke to ODST Black Team over the comm.

Novak: ODST Black Team…belay previous orders. Stand down. Report to the barracks, disarm, and await further orders.

Black 1: But sir…

Novak: That is an order Black 1. Bridge out!

Novak closed the comm line, as he turned and walked towards Spender’s office. Novak walked right into the office, without requesting access. As he walked into Spender’s office, the door closed behind him. Novak saw Spender on the far side of his office, looking out the window.

Novak: Admiral…

Spender took a deep breath, but he did not turn to face Novak.

Spender: You better have a good reason for disturbing be, Doctor.

Novak: I do. It is about Black 6.

Spender: We will recover the asset in due time. Once we track that bitch down, we will secure Black 6.

Novak: Sir…Black 6…

Spender turned to face Novak.

Novak: Sir…Black 6…he is…

Spender: Out with it Doctor!

Novak: Black 6 is not finished! His capture…is a massive setback!

Spender: Explain?

Novak Unlike the other members of Black Team, who have been subjected to more advanced reconfiguration efforts…Black 6 was still in the basic stages of his…reconfiguration. His stage of development is not past the regression stage.

Spender: The regression stage? Are you saying that Black 6 could potentially…”recover”…from what you have been doing to him? Are you saying that he could relapse into the person that he was…prior to his training?

Novak: Well…possibly. He would retain his skills, abilities, training, even the augmentation. However...he may stop seeing things our way. He may start to question our motives again. Without the pharmaceuticals that I have been giving him to suppress certain chemical stimulation in his brain…that is…the chemical equivalent to his moral compass…he could become totally uncooperative...and he could even become resistant to further attempts to recondition him…indoctrinate him.

Spender: Doctor…this is very bad. If Black 6 recovers…if he manages to reestablish his own identity…he could become a very real threat to our plans.

Spender paused.

Spender: Is the rest of Black Team in a similar situation? Could they also revert? Could they start undoing their conditioning?

Novak: I doubt it. At this point, without a consorted effort, and an in-depth understanding of my methods, the rest of Black Team is, more or less, set in stone. They are much further along in their reconditioning. The modifications we made have managed to establish themselves as the physiological norm. Their bodies have become used, even dependent on their current state.

Novak paused.

Novak: Black 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 are locked in. Black 6…is not. If we do not recover Black 6 within a weeks’ time…the damage will be irreversible. We will lose Black 6.

Spender sighed. He did not like what he was hearing.

Spender: Then our path is clear…we have to rescue Black 65 before time runs out.

Novak: How are we going to find him? We do not have a lead on where he might have been taken.

Spender: Let me handle that. I will figure out a way to track my daughter’s movements. I will figure out a way to rescue Black 6. The only thing you need to do Doctor, is make sure that this ship is ready to go. Delegate every officer and crewman we have to getting this ship back together and ready for combat.

Novak nodded.

Spender: I will not allow my plans to be derailed by my bitch of a daughter. I will not allow her to succeed in derailing our efforts. We are too close to victory to allow anything to stop us now.

Spender paused.

Spender: The future of Humanity depends on me to attain victory in this battle. Too much depends on this to allow it to fall by the wayside.

Spender sighed, as he poused for a moment.

Spender: Doctor…you have your orders. Dismissed.

Novak nodded, as he turned to leave Spender’s office. Novak couldn’t help but feel that everything had gone totally wrong with the loss of Black 6. This was a huge setback, and for the first time, Novak felt uncertain about The Trust’s odds of total and unconditional victory. Novak knew that there was going to be a heavy price paid.

UNSC Phoenix Class - The Hades Eclipse - The Brig - Currently in Slipstream Space - 1440 hours - June 5th 2515.

Vixen watched as her Insurrectionists dragged Black 6 into one of the holding cells.

Vixen: Strip him down…

The Insurrectionists look at Vixen with a hint of uncertainty.

Insurrectionist: Ma’am?

Vixen: Down to the skin.

Insurrectionist: You’re kidding right?

Vixen: I am dead serious. Strip him down to the skin…NOW!

The Insurrectionists looked at each other, and then they looked back to Vixen and nodded, as they proceeded to remove Black 6’s armor, piece by piece, and toss it out of the holding cell.

Insurrectionist: Mind if I ask why we are stripping this guy down? Like…I get the BDU…but even the uniform under all the gear as well? What could be the point of that?

Vixen: I have no reason to doubt the belief that this soldier has been trained to kill himself by any means necessary in the event of his capture. I seriously doubt my father would not train his Special Ops to do such a thing.

Vixen paused.

Vixen: You would be shocked if you knew how easy it is to hang yourself with a t-shirt when you really have to.

Insurrectionist: Point taken.

The Insurrectionists continued to strip Black 6, until they had reached his skin. The Insurrectionists picked Black 6 up, as Vixen looked at him.

Vixen: Restrain him to the wall.

The Insurrectionists dragged Tye towards the furthest wall, and pushed his back right up against the wall. They then raised his arms straight up, shackling both of his wrists to the cuffs that were built into the wall The Insurrectionists then shackled his ankles to the wall as well.

As The Insurrectionists shackled Tye to the wall, Vixen looked at Tye’s face. She could have sworn that she had seen this man before.

Vixen: I know this man. I have seen him before. This man…

Vixen paused. She looked at Tye.

Vixen: This man was on Madrigal. He was a UNSC soldier. I fought with him on Madrigal during our assault on Outpost Lambda.

Vixen paused.

Vixen: He was a good fighter…and he struck me as just another UNSC soldier. How the hell did he end up working with my father?

Vixen looked at Tye’s arms. She could see that both arms were bruised. Upon closer inspection, she could see that the bruising was caused by needles being injected into his arms. The bruises were on his biceps and forearms. Vixen then looked at the wounds on Tye’s torso. She took notice of multiple gunshot wounds that were no doubt caused by her. She could visually tell that the gunshot wounds were not in any vital areas, but they were still bleeding.

Vixen’s eyes shifted back to the bruising.

Vixen: Look here…

Vixen moved closer, but as she did, Tye opened his eyes and looked at Vixen. Vixen immediately moved away.

Vixen: Shit…he is awake!

Tye glared at Vixen as she backed up. The other Insurrectionists raised their rifles, but they did not fire. Black 6’s eyes shifted around the room, looking at each person, moving between them very quickly. Tye then looked downwards, and then back up at Vixen. Black 6 then scoffed.

Tyber: This is undignified.

Vixen: A necessary precaution. Besides…what would you know about indignation? The stunt you pulled on Draco III was the most undignified treatment of civilians that I have ever seen.

Tyber: My dignity is irrelevant. I have everything I need to NEVER feel undignified…even when I am chained up in a holding cell…such as I am…exposed.

Tye paused.

Tyber: I feel bad for your soldiers however. I bet they are going to feel quite inadequate for the rest of their lives.

Tye paused again.

Tyber: Ands I feel bad for you lady…knowing that you are so close, and yet so far to what can be, at the very least described as, the perfect human specimen.

Tye grinned at Vixen.

Tyber: Good luck getting these images out of your head. We both know you either caught a glimpse or it crossed your mind…even for a split second.

Vixen frowned, as she stepped forward and punched Tye as hard as she could.

Tyber: Dungeons, chains, and violence. Lady…you just completed the trifecta, and are officially in weirdo territory.

Vixen scoffed, as she turned away. After a moment, she turned to look back at Tye.

Vixen: Run your mouth as much as you want ODST…

Tyber: Black 6. My name is Black 6.

Vixen: I don’t care what your name is. You are going to be here for a long time…and I am going to get every piece of intel out of you I can…using any means necessary.

Tyber: Good luck. I hope you enjoy a challenge.

Vixen simply grinned.

Vixen: We will see.

Vixen looked at the Insurrectionists who were in the holding cell, as she gestured her head for them to leave the cell. Vixen watched as the Insurrectionists left. When Vixen was along with Tye, she looked at him in the eye.

Vixen: Don’t go anywhere. I will be back…eventually.

Vixen turned, and left the holding cell, as a large iron door sealed behind her.

As the door closed, the room quickly became pitch black. Tye was unable to see anything, and the old sound he could hear was the sound of his own breathing. Tye simply closed his eyes, and did his best to clear his mind, as he prepared himself for the coming interrogations.

Vixen, on the other hand, walked out of the brig. Her steps were labored, as she was still in pain from her last encounter with Black 6. Vixen hung her head, and sighed, as she started to walk through the corridors, heading for the medical bay to get treated for her wounds. As Vixen walked, she thought about everything that had transpired. She thought about the massacre on Draco III. She thought about the assault on The Ulterior Motive. She thought about the information that she had managed to steal from The Ulterior Motive. She even thought about the man that was occupying her bring at this very moment. He mind was very busy and very much occupied at the moment, and Vixen could not foresee a time when she would be able to relax her mind, even for a moment. With all that was going on, Vixen felt as great weight on her shoulders.

STB Breaking Point

UNSC Phoenix Class - The Hades Eclipse - The Brig - Currently in Slipstream Space - 2200 hours - June 11th 2515.

Vixen was in her private quarters, sitting at her desk. She had spent the last six days buried in research, reading over every piece of information that she managed to steal from The Ulterior Motive. Most of what she stole involved Novak’s research notes into the creation of ODST Black Team, as well as an incomplete collection of classified information pertaining to Trust Operations. Vixen had spent most of her time reading about ODST Black Team, and the research and development behind it. She found the documentation to be meticulous and disturbing.

Vixen soon found that she had to once again step away from what she had been reading. She needed to rest her mind and her eyes and reflect on what she had read. Vixen stood uyp and walked away from her desk, as she walked over to a small kitchen area, and prepared herself a cup of tea. Just as she had finished preparing her tea, she heard the intercom in her room beeping. Vixen walked back to her desk, and activated her comm.

Vixen: Vixen here. Go ahead.

Vixen heard one of her Insurrectionists speak to her via the comm system.

Insurrectionist: Ma’am…you might want to come down to the brig. The prisoner wants to talk to you. He has asked for you by name. He claims that he is ready to talk…but he will only talk to you.

Vixen thought for a moment.

Vixen: Understood…I will be there ASAP!

Vixen put her cup of tea down, as she turned and walked out of her quarters. Vixen walked at a quick pace through the corridors of the ship, making great haste to the brig. It was not long before she had made her way through the ship, and had arrived in the brig. As she walked in, she saw several Insurrectionists standing around Tye, who was still in the same cell, his arms raised to their full extent, still chained up.

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Vixen looked at Tye, as Tye made eye contact with her. Vixen could see dried blood on Tye’s body. She saw that both of his eyes had been blackened from the beating, and he had dozens of bruises on his body from his Interrogation.

Tyber: I see you did not waste any time coming down here.

Vixen: No…I didn’t.

Vixen frowned at Tye, in an effort to keep her distance from him. However, she felt a sense of guilt looking at him.

Vixen: What do you want?

Tyber: To talk…about Spender…about The Trust. I want to talk about what I know. You can say that I am ready to come clean about EVERYTHING!

Vixen folded her arms in skepticism.

Vixen: What has pre-empted this? Have you had enough? Can’t take any more interrogation?

Tyber: Are you kidding? If this is your best…your best won’t do. The truth is…I want to tell you everything. I am certainly not caving to your “methods”.

Vixen: I don’t understand. Why talk if we can’t make you talk?

Tyber: The truth is…these past few days have really given me time to think about a lot of things. For the first time in quite a while…my head has been clearer than it ever has been. It is almost as if a lot of what has been going on has taken on a new perspective. I almost feel as if…talking…is the right thing to do.

Tye paused.

Tyber: Upon thinking back on everything…I think about Draco III…I think about The Nemesis…I think about The Excalibur…I think about my training…I think about Black Team…I think about Spender…I think about Novak…none of it sits well with me. I remember it all, clear as day…and it makes me sick to my stomach just thinking about the things I did.

Vixen: I see…

Tyber: I guess you could call it a confession…or you can consider it my way of trying to atone for the things I did…and my way of trying to figure out what the hell happened to me and how I managed to do such horrible things. The things I did…it wasn’t me. I did not feel right in hindsight. I know it sounds weird…but it wasn’t me doing these things. I am not the kind of person who just…guns down civilians. I know I pulled the trigger…but it wasn’t what I wanted. It was like I could see it happening…but I could not stop myself.

The other Insurrectionists scoffed. One of them even used their Assault Rifle to strike Tye on the face.

Insurrectionist: This guy is fucking nuts. He sounds like he is on the breaking point. I think we can get this guy before the day is out.

Tye spit a bit of blood out of his mouth as he looked back at Vixen.

Tyber: Let me go…I will tell you everything I know…

Vixen was very skeptical about what Tye was saying. She could relate most of what he was saying to what she had read from the intel she managed to steal from The Ulterior Motive. However, part of her felt like this was some kind of elaborate deception.

Vixen: If you want to tell me everything you know…you can start now. I am not going to risk letting you out of here. You are far too dangerous to let free.

Tyber: Please…believe me when I say I am not going to try anything.

One of the Insurrectionists struck Tye again. Tye spit out more blood, as he looked back at Vixen.

Vixen: I’m sorry…you stay here. I am not going to risk letting you out. I cannot endanger this ship based solely on your word.

Tye sighed.

Tyber: I don’t blame you. I really don’t. Honestly though…I mean every word when I say I won’t try to escape, I am not going to try and kill everyone on the ship. I don’t know what else I can say to try and prove it to you.

Vixen: There is very little you can say. Your word literally means nothing to me without some kind of proof.

Tyber: Proof? You want proof that I am being honest when I say I won’t try to escape or try to kill everyone on this ship?

Vixen cocked any eyebrow. Just as she did, Tye pulled his arms down, as he literally pulled the chains right out of the ceiling. In one fast and fluid motion, Tye reached to his left and grabbed the Assault Rifle out of the hands of one of the Insurrection, as he swung the Assault Rifle to the right, and smacked it across the face of another Insurrectionist, knocking him across the room. Tye then swung the Assault Rifle to the left, and knocked out the other Insurrectionists. Vixen began to back up, as Tye aimed the Assault Rifle down and shot the chains that were attached to his ankle restraints.

Tye then walked towards Vixen, still holding the Assault Rifle in his hands. He glared at her in the eyes, as he winced his eyes.

Tyber: I have been working on that escape plan for the past 5 days now. Once I realized the structural flaw in the restrings…it was simply a matter of slowly compromising their integrity…just enough to yank them right out of the wall.

Tye held out the Assault Rifle, and handed it to Vixen.

Tyber: I literally could have escaped at any time. I could have killed you just now. I could walk off this ship, and leave a trail of dead bodies the likes of which you have never seen…but I didn’t do that. I am not the same man that I was a few days ago.

Tye scoffed.

Tyber: I don’t want to escape. I don’t want to kill anyone. All I want…is a pair of pants…and something to eat. Is that really too much to ask?

Tye grinned, as he laughed a bit.

Tyber: Is it?

Vixen folded her arms, as she looked at Tye.

Vixen: After what I have seen…it is a lot to ask.

Tyber: And…what exactly have you seen that makes “giving me a pair of pants” a bad idea hmm?

Vixen scoffed.

Vixen: That is not remotely what I meant…

Tyber: It sounded like it though. You have to admit that.

Tye turned his head when he heard one of the Insurrectionists shuffling behind him. Tye turned as he saw The Insurrectionist trying to get back to his feet. However, before the Insurrectionist got back to his feet, Vixen stepped forward. She looked at the Insurrectionist.

Vixen: Stand down. The prisoner is not a threat. He had his chance to kill me, and everyone in this room, and make a break for it. From what I can tell…we have overestimated the danger.

The Insurrectionist looked at Vixen with a hint of skepticism, but he obliged, as he got to his feet and stepped back. Vixen continued to look at the Insurrectionist, as she pointed to the other Insurrectionist that had been knocked out.

Vixen: Get him out of here…and…bring a pair of cloths.

The Insurrectionist nodded, as he carried out Vixen’s orders. It was not long before Vixen and Tye were left alone. Vixen folded her arms and looked at Tye.

Vixen: So…what do I call you? Obviosuly “Black 6” won’t do anymore

Tyber: I guess not…all things considered. My name is Lieutenant Tyber Vernette. UNSC Special Operations…well…used to be UNSC Special Operations. I doubt I am with UNSC Special Operations anymore.

Vixen: Well, I don’t think that matters one way or the other.

Tyber: I guess that is true. Now that I think about it.

Vixen: Well, we can worry about the details later. First thing is first…

Vixen turned away and walked out of the cell. As she did, an Insurrectionist had returned with a set of cloths.

Vixen: Do me a favor…and get changed.

Vixen grabbed the cloths and threw them at Tye.

Vixen: Nothing overly snazzy. Just same basic cloths to get you by until we can find you something better. For now, it will due. Once you are ready, I will show you to the guest quarters. I am not sure if you have noticed…but six days in here have really done a number to your hygiene. I would prefer to give you the chance to rejoin the civilized world…as opposed to unleashing you on the world as you are.

Tye caught threw cloths as he watched Vixen speak. He gave a skeptical look.

Tyber: The civilized world…right.

Tye laughed, as he began to dress himself. Vixen, on the other hand, left the brig and waited outside. Vixen leaned on the wall outside the door to the brig, as she waited for Tye. After several minutes, Tye walked out of the brig. As he did, he looked at Vixen with a smirk on his face. The two then started to walk, with Vixen slightly leading the way.

Vixen: What is so funny?

Tye shook his head.

Tyber: Nothing…nothing.

Tye laughed again.

Vixen: Something must be amusing.

Tyber: I was just thinking about how you must be kicking yourself for letting me put cloths on.

Tye began to laugh, but Vixen scoffed.

Tyber: You have to admit…I am a work of art.

Vixen: Well…you are free to delude yourself all you want Mr. Vernette. I refuse to comment.

Tyber: You don’t have to comment. I am pretty sure I know who gave the order to…strip search…if you catch my drift.

Vixen: That was a tactical decision. Nothing more.

Tyber: Well…you are free to delude yourself all you want…Kathryn…was it?

Vixen stopped as she glared at Tye.

Vixen: I have never given anyone the permission to EVER address me by my name. I will be damned if you are the first. Don’t get too comfortable with me. I am not someone who is easy to get along with.

Vixen paused.

Vixen: Let me make one thing clear Vernette…I am friends with nobody on this ship. I am the commander of this ship. I lead these people. I am never questioned, and I am not considered a friend to anyone here. I rule with an iron fist, not with an open hand. Nobody here has ever been allowed to address me as anything more than their leader and their commander. You will be given no special privileges to do so just because you are not one of my people.

Vixen paused.

Vixen: I prefer to keep distance between myself and the people I fight with. It is nothing personal. I just prefer to stay alone.

Tye looked at Vixen and cocked an eyebrow.

Tyber: That is no way to live.

Vixen: It is how I choose to live. It is much easier that way.

Tyber: That is a pretty crappy way to live.

Vixen shrugged, as she resumed walking. Tye followed behind her.

Vixen: Don’t get me wrong…being in the Insurrection is a hell of a lot less stressful than being in the military. There are no rules about conduct, fraternization, or any of that stuck up bullshit. When we have to blow off steam with someone…we do it in the best manner possible without having to worry about rules and regulations. However…I choose to keep my distance. I cannot afford the distractions…or the baggage.

Tye nodded.

Tyber: I can appreciate that.

Tye paused.

Tyber: To be so singularly focused on something that…nothing else really matters. I know exactly how that feels.

Vixen stopped in front of a room, as she turned to face Tye.

Tyber: Perhaps there are some things we have in common.

Vixen: There is only one thing I want in common with people; the insatiable desire to kill my father. If you have that desire…then we will get along just fine. That is all we really need.

Vixen paused. She then sighed as she looked at the door she had stopped in front of.

Vixen: These are your private quarters. Get yourself cleaned up. You should find something more…formidable looking waiting for you in there.

Tyber: If it is all the same to you…I would prefer to get my BDU back.

Vixen: No…not at this time. We are not going to give it back until you and I have a much more in-depth conversation about what you were doing on my Father’s ship. That BDU is his technology. I want to know more about it before I give it back to you.

Vixen grinned.

Vixen: Consider it my personal prerogative.

Tye folded his arms, as he looked at Vixen.

Tyber: Very well. However…don’t try and keep it from me. The armor belongs to me…nobody else. I expect it back.

Tye walked towards the door, as he used his index finger to press a small wall panel. As he did this, the door to his room opened.

Tyber: So…how should I get in contact with you once I get myself cleaned up?

Vixen: Just use the comm system to page me. Just browse through the comm directory and you will find me eventually. I think I am near the bottom of the list. I will come and find you. If you want my advice, don’t try and roam the corridors by yourself. You are an unknown face…and you may get shot if someone with an itchy finger sees you.

Tye laughed.

Tyber: Lady…I have been shot a few times already. A few more times won't kill me.

Vixen suddenly remembered that Tye had not been treated for his injuries since they captured him.

Vixen: Oh my were ever treated for your injuries.

Tyber: I don't need to seek treatment. I can handle it myself. Just get me a pair of pliers...and some bandage.

Vixen was taken aback by what Tye said.

Vixen: That is disgusting! No...I insist you report to the medical bay.

Tye entered his room, as he turned to face Vixen. He shook his head.

Tyber: No more Doctors. I am done with Doctors.

Vixen: Well...there is a first aid kit under the sink. If you pass out...we will figure it out eventually.

Tyber: Thank you.

Tye frowned, as he used the control pad on the wall to close the door. Vixen was taken aback again by Tye's stubbornness and resolve.

Vixen: I do not want to picture what he is going to do to himself.

Vixen walked off, shuddering as she considered what Tye was about to subject himself to.

As Vixen walked off, Tye looked around his quarters. He had to admit that the quarters he was just given were certainly better than the ones on The Ulterior Motive. Tye sighed, as he rubbed his chin, feeling the bear that had started to grow over the past week. Tye looked around, and spotted the bathroom. He began to walk toward the bathroom, pulling his shirt off, and tossing it aside. As he stood in the bathroom, he looked at himself in the mirror. He examined his wounds and his injuries closely. He ran his hands over the bullet wounds, but he didn't even flinch.

Tyber: It does not even hurt. I can barely feel it.

Tye frowned.

Tyber: These injuries would have killed a lesser man. I am still alive, however. Whatever Novak did to me...I am a hell of a lot more durable and capable than the typical run-of-the-mill soldier.

Tye began to remember what Eli had told him about being augmented. He recalled the details Eli had given about soldier who had joined the Orion Project.

Tyber: I can see why they call it augmentation.

Tye flexed one of his arms in front of his chest. His eyes widened.

Tyber: I am a lot bigger than I used to be. I am built like a fucking tank. I am stronger, faster, more durable, more tactically aware than I ever was. They engineering a perfect soldier...with nothing more than a test tube and a syringe.

Tye hung his head.

Tyber: They created a better soldier. They took a good soldier, and made him a perfect one. I am no longer the same man I used to be. I...have been improved. They gave me everything I needed to be unstoppable. They gave me everything I needed to bet the best of the best.

Tye paused again. He found himself wrestling with his own identity.

Tyber: Am I still the same man I was two months ago?

Tye looked at himself closely in the mirror. His mind started to wander, as he thought back to Draco III, thinking back to the people he had killed in the coldest of blood. A shiver went down Tye's back, as if Death himself had just brushed against him.

Tyber: I murdered all those cold blood. I didn't even stop to think about it. I just took aim, and pulled the trigger. Why don't I feel anything? Where is the remorse? Where is the guilt? Why can't I feel it? There is no way that I have allowed myself to become this cold...this disconnected. Where the hell is my Humanity? Why can't I feel anything?

Tye paused.

Tyber: I know I felt something before.

Tye paused again. He closed his eyes as he began to think back.

Tyber: All those people I killed on The was all for nothing. Their blood is on my hands, and I cannot find the capacity to care.

Tye paused again, as he opened his eyes. He looked himself in the eyes. All he could see was a distant coldness.

Tyber: I have done monstrous things...things I will live with for the rest of my life. But...none of this bothers me. I cannot feel any sort of guilt! Why!?

Tye was starting to get frustrated. However, he quickly stopped himself. He took deep breahs as he got himself back under control.

Tyber: Relax Tye...relax. Getting irritated will not solve anything.

Tye frowned at himself.

Tyber: I have no idea how to feel things like guilt and remorse...but I can find my anger and my rage all too easily. What the fuck did The Trust do to me?

Tye could see the fire in his own eyes. The thought of being manipulated, engineered, tampered with, and changed enraged him. He felt used.

Tyber: They used me to do their dirty work. They used me to commit atrocities.

Tye took a deep breath, but he exhaled and scoffed.

Tyber: Novak...Spender...those bastards are going to PAY for what they did to me!

Tye grinned.

Tyber: They are going to rue the day they EVER recruited me. I am going to make them pay for every second that I spent doing their dirty work.

Tye sighed. He stepped back, and walked towards the shower. Tye stepped into the shower, and activated the dial, turning the temperature down to cold. Tye felt the cold water hit his skin, as it jolted him to life. Ye’s eyes went wide, as a shiver went down his spine. The cold water had shaken all of the fatigue and the stiffness out of his bones as he felt himself fully attentive and awake. Tye began to clean himself up, scrubbing the dried up blood off of his skin. It did not take Tye long to get himself fully cleaned up to the point where he would be presentable to polite society.

Tye stepped out of the shower, and once again approached the sink. Tye knelt down, as he looked in a cabinet under the sink, and grabbed the first aid kit that was inside. Tye stood up again, and placed the first aid kit on the counter. Tye opened the med kit, and looked at the utensils inside. He grabbed a needle nose medical plied out of the case, and held it in one hand, as he grabbed some antiseptic in his other hand. Once Tye had ensured that the pliers were sanitized, he used the pliers to dig into his bullet wounds, as he began to extract the slugs. Once by one, he pulled the slugs out, and dropped the bloody pieces of metal into the sink. Tye barely flinched as he pulled each bullet out.

It was not long before Tye had removed half a dozen slugs from his torso. Each of his wounds were bleeding a bit, but it was nothing he could not handle. Tye applied more antiseptic to his wounds and proceeded to stitched himself up. Tye placed bandages over his wounds to finish his own first aid.

Tyber: Much better. Much, much better.

Tye walked back to the living area of his quarters as he began to dig through the drawers. Tye found an assortment of civilian clothing inside of the drawers, and he picked something that best suited him. It was not long before Tye was fully dressed, cleaned up, patched up, and ready to present himself. He recalled what Vixen had said to him, about contacting her via the comm. system when he was ready to talk with her further. Tye looked around and saw that there was a small touch screen device mounted on his wall. He approached the device, and accessed the ship’s directory. He looked through the directory, and paged Vixen.

Tye stepped back from the control panel, as he turned to sit down on a chair in the corner of his room. Tye began to think about where he was going to go from here. He had no intention of going back to The Trust, now that he was thinking much more clearly, but sticking around with The Insurrection was something, as a UNSC Officer, could not do. These people, despite their intentions, were criminals and enemies of the UNSC. There was no way that Tye would work with The Insurrection in any matter that directly opposed The UNSC...but he was willing to entertain a partnership in order to stop The Trust, but only if the opportunity presented itself. Tye had no intention of being held against his will on this ship.

As Tye considered his situation, he watched as Vixen walked into his room. She looked over to him, and looked at him head to toe.

Vixen: You look much more civilized now.

Tyber: So it seems.

Tye stood up and walked towards Vixen. Vixen stepped back a bit, which in turn, caused Tye to stop in his tracks.

Tyber: Is there a problem?

Vixen: was just...reflex. Last time you walked towards me like that...I got more bruises than I bargained for.

Tye didn't respond.

Vixen: But that is behind us...hopefully...

Tyber: Hopefully.

Vixen gestured her head, as she invited Tye to walk with her. Tye nodded, as he began to follow behind Vixen, following her out of his quarters. As they walked, Vixen began to speak.

Vixen: So...I took the liberty of quickly looking up your UNSC service profile. You have quite a few impressive credentials. You seem like a smart guy, you are tactically capable, and you tough as nails. I like people like that; they are dependable.

Tyber: Well, for what it is worth...I am a lot better than I was before. I am tougher than tough as nails, much more tactically adept, and, well, I am still just as smart as I was before.

Vixen: I realize that.

Vixen paused.

Vixen: The fact is...the price you paid for being better...was far too high. I think the price was higher than you realize.

Tyber: Why do you say that?

Vixen: Well...I can't explain least I cannot do it any sort of justice.

Vixen paused.

Vixen: I want to know something much do you actually know about your "training"?

Tyber: What do you mean?

Vixen: It is my understanding that during your time on my Father's underwent numerous training simulations.

Tye stopped. Vixen saw Tye stop, and she stopped as well, turning to face him.

Tyber: How do you know that?

Vixen: Apart from it being a reasonable supposition?

Vixen paused.

Vixen: During our attack on The Ulterior Motive...we managed to steal a lot of intel from the main computer. Some of it is incomplete, mind you, but there was enough there to keep me busy this past week. I got to know you, ODST Black Team, and Dr. Novak quite well. I even learned a few things about my father.

Tye glared at Vixen.

Tyber: That does not answer my question entirely.

Vixen: The intel I stole...was, in large part, Dr. Novak's research notes. From his musings to his theories, and everything in between. I could tell you things that you may not know. We also got bits and pieces of my father's personal logs, a few fractured navigational logs, and even crew reports. I even got my hands on the classified Dossiers for ODST Black Team.

Tye stepped forward towards Vixen.

Tyber: I want to see this information. I want to see all of it!

Vixen: I gathered as much. I somehow knew that you would be interested in a bit of sordid and morbid reading. Come on...let me show you.

Tye nodded, as he once again started following Vixen. After taking a few steps however, Tye began to think. He then realized something.

Tyber: Where is my armor!?

Vixen: We locked it away.

Tyber: I need to see it! There is something I need to get.

Vixen: Easier said than done.

Tye stopped. He grabbed Vixen by her arm, and stopped her in her tracks. Vixen turned and frowned at Tye, who promptly released her.

Tyber: You don't understand. I MAY have more intel for you. Believe will like that I have. However...the only way I can get to it, is if you give me access to my BDU.

Vixen looked at Tye, and cocked an eyebrow.

Vixen: Humor me Mr. Vernette; what reason do I have to trust you at your word when you say there is more intel? For all I know, this is a rouse to get your armor back. God knows what you would do at that point.

Tye stammered.

Tyber: Well...ummm...

Tye sighed.

Tyber: The fact that you are not already dead is a pretty good reason to trust me at my word.

Vixen: Perhaps. Perhaps not. The fact is, I saw firsthand what you did with that armor. We had a hell of a time taking you down. Do you really think I want to run the risk of letting you get your hands on it, before such time you have proven your loyalty?

Tyber: I don't need my BDU to raise hell on this ship. I don't even need it to go after The Trust. However, that will never change the fact that my BDU is far too valuable of an asset to lose. I won't let you keep it, and I won't let you keep me from it. If I wanted it back bad enough...I would find it and take it, and I would leave a trail of bodies the likes of which you have never seen. However, I am not going to do that for the simple reason that you and I, have one very vital thing in common; we both want to find Spender...and we want to kill him.

Tye paused.

Tyber: I want to make Spender, and by extension The Trust, pay for what they did to me. I am sure you want to make your fatther pay for what he did to you as well. I am singularly focused on getting my hands on Spender and The Trust, and I am not interested in anyone on this ship. I don't care about killing anyone here. All I a shot at The Trust.

Tye paused. He looked at Vixen.

Tyber: I have a feeling that is what you want as well. There is nothing you want more than to launch a ruthlessly successful assault on your father, and bury him, and his draconian organization, one and for all. In that respect, you and I are very similar. I have been trained, twice over, to form alliances with like-minded people to achieve a common goal. As easily as I could walk through this ship and reclaim what belongs to me, I am not going to do that...because you, and this crew, are the best candidates for potential allies right now. I am trained not to jeopardize assets like that.

Tye paused.

Tyber: And...the truth a way...I owe you my life.

Vixen was taken aback by this.

Vixen: Oh?

Tyber: Whether it was inadvertent or not, and I am going to assume that it was the former just based on how thing played out, by capturing me and holding me rescued me from The Trust. Had I not have been here, I would more than likely be on The Ulterior Motive right now, being manipulated by The Trust.

Tye paused.

Tyber: So...I owe you one.

Tye shrugged.

Tyber: If that is not enough...then...well...I have nothing left to say to argue my case. All I can say is that, for the time being, I have every intention of going after The I may as well help you do it.

Vixen: Hmmm...

Vixen looked at Tye, and thought about what he had said.

Vixen: Alright Mr. Vernette...I believe you. Part of me thinks that this is still a bad idea. However, I have become pretty good at sensing when people are sincere or not. You strike me as more sincere than anything else.

Vixen paused.

Vixen: However...I do have one condition.

Tyber: Name it.

Vixen: When the time comes to go after my father...I will give you back your equipment. However, until then, or until we are faced with an emergency, let's just keep it locked up...alright?

Vixen paused. She reached into her pocket, and pulled out a keycard. She handed it to Tye.

Vixen: That card will unlock the storage locker where your BDU is being kept. I am going to trust you with this. Just...please...leave it where it is for now. Alright?

Tyber: Fair enough. However, I do need to get access to it. There is something I need to get.

Vixen nodded.

Vixen: Alright...follow me.

Vixen led Tye down the corridor, as she brought him towards an elevator. Vixen pressed the button on the wall, and waited for the elevator. As they waited, Tye looked at her.

Tyber: So...what is the full story between you and...your father? What exactly happened between the two of you?

Vixen sighed. She closed her eyes, and looked away.

Tyber: Vixen?

Vixen: It is...complicated.

Tyber: Most things like this are complicated.

Vixen: Perhaps. Perhaps not.

Vixen paused.

Vixen: I prefer not to talk about it. It is something that I have difficulty talking about. I have spent a long time trying to bury the pain of the memories.

Vixen paused when the elevator door opened. She walked in, and Tye followed her. Vixen looked at the control panel in the elevator and pressed one of the buttons. The door closed and the elvator began to move.

Tyber: Fair enough. If it bothers you, we don't have to talk about it.

Vixen looked at Tye with a curious look.

Vixen: That sounds strange, coming from you.

Tyber: How so?

Vixen: I remember the last time I had an in-depth conversation with nearly killed me. You had every intention of bringing me back to my father so HE could kill me. You may not remember...

Tyber: I remember...

Tye looked forward, and put his hands behind his back.

Tyber: I am not proud of what I did. I am not proud of how I acted. Everything I did...was unbecoming of an office of my...stature. I betrayed everything I have ever believed in...almost.

Tye looked at Vixen.

Tyber: No offense...but The Insurrection is the enemy of the UEG.

Vixen grinned.

Vixen: No offense taken...Mr. Vernette.

Tyber: It is Lt. me Tye. Tye is what my friends call me.

Vixen looked at Tye.

Vixen: Vixen: So now we are friends?

Tyber: Well...not in the strictest definition.

Vixen: Mmm...hmmm....

Vixen looked away.

Vixen: are a lot more charming than I first assumed. Evil and moody does not suit you. It does not do you justice.

Tye looked at Vixen again and raised an eyebrow.

Vixen: I think friendly is more your shtick.

Tye laughed.

Tyber: Well...hmmm...

Tye looked away. He felt troubled still. His thoughts drifted to his actions on Draco III and The Excalibur. He remembered all of the innocent men and women he had killed for little to no good reason. Tye had trouble believing that he was "friendly" in any sense of the word. The only words he could think of was confused and lost. Tye felt like he was trapped, lost, somewhere between the man he was and the man The Trust had turned him into.

Tyber: Well…friendly is not the word I would use. In fact…that is the last word I would use to describe myself.

Vixen looked at Tye with a hint of curiosity, but she decided not to prod. Despite this, before she could change the subject, the elevator stopped, and the door opened. Vixen stepped off the elevator, as she walked down the corridor. Tye followed behind her as she walked.

Vixen: So…what kind of intel do you have?

Tyber: Detailed records on your father’s activities leading up to my recruitment. They are basically personal logs from one of his colleagues.

Vixen: Who exactly was it?

Tyber: His name was Commodore Davidov. He was the antithesis of your father…to a degree. Davidov didn’t believe in what your father was trying to do; namely, plant Trust operatives in the UNSC military so as to have greater control over military matters. Your father often spoke of how it was his responsibility to ensure the survival of and preservation of Human society.

Vixen: I am familiar with those words.

Tyber: Well, thoise words led him to attempt his current military power play. Not only is he trying to put Trust sleeper agents in the UEG and UNSC…he is trying to now take over The Trust. After people like Davidov opposed him, he began to eliminate them one by one. We managed to kill two of the three other leaders of The Trust…leaving only Spender…and Rear Admiral Hoffman.

Vixen listened intently to what Tye was saying.

Tyber: he is going full on coup d’eta…and it is within his reach. I can only image what he will do if he takes over full control of The Trust.

Tye paused.

Tyber: Nothing good will come out of it…and I am pretty sure the first thing he will do is make you target number one.

Vixen: Agreed. We have to stop him. We cannot allow him to succeed. But…at the same time…a chance to destroy The Trust is also very tempting. We could kill, both my father, and the entire leadership of The Trust…in one fell swoop.

Vixen paused.

Vixen: Hopefully…this intel can point us in the right direction…or give us something that we do not know.

Vixen and Tye stopped outside of a large door with the word ARMORY above it. Vixen looked at Tye, and nodded, as Tye used the keycard he was given to unlock the door. A light above the door turned green, as the door opened.

Vixen: Your BDU is in locker 45-Gamma.

Tye took the lead, as Vixen followed behind him. Tye walked towards the locker where his BDU was stored. When he had found it, he stood in front of the locker, and used his keycard to open his locker. Tye opened the locker, ands he looked at the BDU. He stepped back, as the BDU reminded him of some of the atrocities that he had committed. He recalled the moments when he shot down those civilians on Draco III. He recalled the faces of every soldier he had killed on The Excalibur. He found himself deeply troubled by the memories. Tye seized up, as the sounds the the screaming, the moaning, and the pain echoed in his head.

Vixen looked at Tye and nudged him to try and break him out of his trance.

Vixen: Hey…ye?

Tye started to breath heavily, as he raised his hand and slammed the locker door. He backed away, trying to catch his breath.

Vixen: Are you alright? You look like you have seen a ghost.

Tye looked at Vixen, as he tried to find his words.

Tyber: I…uhhh…

Tye fell silent.

Vixen: What happened?

Tyber: I don’t know. Seeing that armor…it froze me. All I could think about was...I felt…tense. I had a flood of memories just hit me like I had never been hit before. They were vivid. Almost terrifying.

Tye stopped himself. Vixen looked on with a hint of concern.

Vixen: If I had to guess, I would call that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Tye looked at Vixen with a look of concern.

Vixen: That is typically not a good thing.

Tye shook his head.

Vixen: Are you alright?

Tyber: No…I am not alright. I am the furthest thing from alright. For the past day or so…I have been…struggling. Certain things, smells, words, ideas, even sounds have been setting me off into panic attacks…high anxiety frames of mind. It has been happening with more and more frequency.

Tye paused.

Tyber: I have been thinking about some of the Ops I ran during my very brief time with The Trust. The past day or two have been especially bad. I have been getting flashbacks of some of the stuff I did. It unsettles me to a degree which I cannot fully explain.

Tye paused.

Tyber: The strange part is…I don’t feel remorse, sadness, or guilt about any of it…but when something triggers the memories…it frightens me, overwhelms me. It paralyzes me. It is very odd and very unsettling. Not but a minute ago, when I saw that Black BDU, it unsettled me. I was overcome with images in my head, clear as day, recalling in perfect details brief moments of some of my ops…stuff I would not be proud of. It only lasted a moment…but I literally froze. I couldn’t think of anything else. It usually only lasts a moment…then it passes.

Tye paused.

Tyber: Just last night…when I fell asleep, I slept through the entire night, reliving those ops, in perfect detail, remembering each kill, each order, each move. I knew I was dreaming…but…it was like a nightmare that I could not wake up from. It frightened the hell out of me.

Vixen: Defiantly sounds like PTSD. It would make sense.

Tyber: What do you mean by that?

Vixen looked at Tye.

Vixen: I can explain in more detail later, but, in brief, based on what I read in Novak’s research notes and documentation…I think this is a normal side effect. I can explain more later. For now…

Vixen looked at Tye.

Vixen: In the mean time…you need to face this. You need to face what you have done. You can’t let memories and flashbacks rule your life. You need to get a hold of yourself.

Tye looked at Vixen. He knew she was right.

Tyber: Right…right…

Tye sighed, as he walked back towards the locker, and opened it. He looked at the armor hanging in the locker, and he looked at the helmet. He once again was flooded with memoires of the things that he had done while wearing that armor. However, Tye took a deep breath, and reached towards the body armor, as he dug through the pockets. After a moment, Tye pulled out a data chip. As soon as he had the data chip in his hands, he recoiled, stepped back, and slammed the locker door.

Tyber: Oh God…

Tye was breathing heavily.

Tyber: That was…very unpleasant.

Vixen walked towards Tye.

Vixen: Perhaps…but…

Vixen grabbed the data chip from Tye’s hands. Tye simply watched Vixen, and allowed her to take it. Tye was too concerned with his own state of mind and well being.

Vixen: We can now review this intel.

Tye closed his eyes and shook his head. He blanked his mind, desperately trying to bury his run-away thoughts.

Tyber: Yes…we can review the intel. I have already looked at it…but…you might get a kick out of it.

Vixen looked at Tye. She knew full well that he was struggling at the moment. She nudged him.

Vixen: Tye…relax…clear your head. Focus on my voice. Focus on the here and now. Focus on the future. Don’t dwell on the past.

Vixen stepped in front of Tye and looked him in the eyes.

Vixen: Look at me…

Tye looked at Vixen. The look in his eyes screamed stress.

Vixen: Don’t let it control you. Focus! Find something else to think about. Think about something that calms you down.

Tye closed his eyes as he began to breathe heavily, After a moment, his breathing slowed, and he opened his eyes.

Tyber: Alright…alright…I think I am better now. It has passed.

Vixen nodded.

Vixen: Good. Whatever you thought about about…keep it in mind when you find yourself in a panic attack like that. If you feel the anxiety build…just take a moment, ground yourself…and think. Take as much time as you need.

Tye nodded. He grinned. He then began to laugh.

Tyber: It…is…unbelievable…

Tye shook his head.

Tyber: The fact that I can cripple myself with nothing more than a memory…it is embarrassing.

Vixen shook her head.

Vixen: Not at all. I have a pretty good idea how you are feeling right now. I know how difficult it must be for you.

Tye looked at Vixen. He then sighed and hung his head.

Tyber: I am not used to feeling that level of fear or paranoia. I have never experienced anything like this before.

Tye paused.

Tyber: It feels debilitating.

Vixen: I know...but the best you can do is try and face it and overcome it. It is clear that you are dealing with a form of PTSD. The only way to beat it, is to face it.

Vixen paused.

Vixen: I realize that you did some pretty horrible things when you were working for my father. I saw some of your handy work first hand. However...I don't think that is who you really were, and I think you know that as well. seem to be having trouble living with the memories of what you did. THis is normal and it is something you can overcome by accepting the reality of what you did, and ensuring that it never happens again.

Tyber: It sounds so simple...but...

Tye paused.

Tyber: I have no idea how to face this. It just seems so...overwhelming. I can't find the courage to face it and accept what I have done.

Vixen: The moment you face your past, and accept what you have the moment you can begin to move past your current difficulties. You have to face what you have done and you have to accept that nothing you do will ever change the past...but your future is not set in stone. You strike me as a good and honorable man. You may not believe it deep down...but I am sure that you are.

Vixen paused.

Vixen: I can prove it. I can prove that you are a good person, above all else. Come with me...I want to show you something.

Vixen patted Tye on the shoulder, as she led him out of the armory. Tye walked beside her, keeping silent. Vixen could tell that Tye was under a lot of stress at the moment. She had to admit that she felt a great deal of sympathy for what Tye was going through. However, Vixen knew that she had to keep her distance from Tye. Despite the difficulties that she knew he was going through, this was someone who could still potentially be a real threat to both herself and her crew. However, despite this, Vixen was intent on showing Tye what he needed to see.

Vixen led Tye all the way to her office, however, she did not proceed inside. Instead, she stopped and looked at Tye.

Vixen: Tye...before we go any further...I need to tell you something.

Vixen paused.

Vixen: Six days ago...when we assaulted The Ulterior Motive...we managed to steal a great deal of intel from my father's ship.

Tyber: told me this already. You got research notes, etc, etc, etc.

Vixen: Not just any research notes. I have the nearly complete and unabridged dossier concerning the training and augmentation of ODST Black Team. This Dossier contains everything...even things that you do not know. There were aspects of your training...that if described as "morally bankrupt" and "monstrous"...would be the greatest understatement in the history of mankind.

Vixen paused.

Vixen: I fear the repercussions of showing you this intel. I worry about how you will handle it. is best not to know...but the choice is yours, and this is all my opinion.

Tye looked at Vixen. He thought about hat she said. Despite her warnings, he could not fathom anything that could possibly be much worse than what he had already done.

Tyber: I appreciate you looking out for me...and trying to protect me. However...if there are aspects of my life that are being hidden from me...I cannot allow that. I need to know what my life entails.

Vixen: Tye...are you sure?

Tyber: I am sure. Please...whatever was kept from me...I need to know.

Vixen nodded, as she looked down. Vixen turned to face the control panel next to the door. She raised her hand to open the door, but Tye stopped her before she could do anything.

Tyber: Wait...

Vixen looked at Tye.

Tyber: I need to know something else first...

Tye paused. Vixen simply looked at Tye.

Vixen: What is it?

Tyber: What is your motivation in all of this? It was only 2 hours ago that I was in your brig. Why so much transparency, and trust, and compassion, and kindness?

Vixen: Honestly?

Vixen paused.

Vixen: I...

Vixen paused.

Vixen: I am not...comfortable...talking about that.

Tye looked at Vixen.

Tyber: Fair enough. I won't prod. Can I at least know if you are sincerely genuine in...everything you are doing?

Vixen nodded.

Tyber: Say it.

Vixen looked at Tye.

Vixen: Yes...I am. I have always been sincere when I needed to be. Right need sincerity. After all the lies you were told...a bit of sincerity is what you need.

Tye shrugged, and nodded.

Tyber: Alright. Thanks. That is all I really need to hear.

Tye paused.

Tyber: your thing...

Vixen nodded. She once again raised her hand, and used the control panel to unlock the door to her office. Once the door was unlocked, Vixen walked in, and Tye followed behind her. Vixen walked over to her desk, and sat down, as she began to type on a laptop that was sitting on her desk.

Vixen: Alright...some of it is split into written notes...and we also have some audio logs. All of it is recorded by Dr. Robert Novak.

Tyber: Let's hear the audio logs. I can read the written stuff later.

Vixen nodded, as she started the first audio log she had.

Novak: Chief Medical Officer's log - January 10th 2515. Live human experimentation of the Cognitive Reevaluation Formula has begun. The results have been very disappointing, but very informative. At first, there were very promising results. My readings indicated that there was a clear increase in physiological levels across the board. However...test subjects quickly devolved and gave into...violent and uncontrollable behavior - turning into dangerous sociopathic threats. Test subjects were terminated immediately. Results of autopsy suggests that the CRF causer catastrophic brain damage in the livestock. It seems I will be going back to the drawing board.

The audio log ended. Tye shrugged as he looked at Vixen.

Tyber: I am fully aware that Novak was experimenting on people. He started with low level marines and soldiers...but eventually started to experiment on civilians so as to reduce the loss of Trust personnel. This is nothing new. That intel I gave you contains Davidov's espionage on Spender - and there is much reference to what Novak was doing. If I recall correctly, Novak was working on brainwashing people for combat and military applications. He was basically trying to manufacture soldiers using drugs. Skip ahead. I don't need to hear what I already know.

Vixen nodded. She began to skip ahead.

Novak: Chief Medical Officer's log - February 15th 2515. Spender has voiced disapproval of the amount of Trust soldiers I have killed in my multiple failures to perfect the CRF. However, I was informed that I would be permitted to use civilians in the course of my experimentation. While I am relieved that I can continue my experiments...I feel that the results of what I am trying to accomplish will be tainted by the fact that I will not be experimenting on trained military personnel. There will defiantly be changes in the expected results that I will have to account for.

Tyber: I am also aware that he was experimenting on civilians. This is nothing new.

Vixen: Alright...skipping ahead. I think this is where we are going to get into unfamiliar territory in terms of what you do and do not know.

Vixen began to skip ahead, skipping several audio logs, until she reached the desired log.

Novak: Chief Medical Officer's log - April 18th 2515. This afternoon...ODST Black Team will be running Warehouse Simulation 13. They have done very well up until this point. They have had no difficulty getting through the tactical application exercises and the assessment simulations to gauge their baseline performance. Warehouse Simulation 13, and all simulations after this, is where their training starts to get a bit more...interesting. From this point forward...ODST Black Team will be fighting real people in the simulation deck. These "people" are...were colonists that I had left over during my initial testing of the earlier CRF revisions. While these civilians were not administered the current CRF formula, they have been dosed with massive levels of various psychotropic agents, including a few to make them VERY sensitive to a bit of subliminal conditioning. These civilians were then dropped into the simulation deck, briefed on what they are here for, and armed. These people have no idea who they are or where they are. The only thing they are aware the fact that they are here to kill ODST Black Team. I just hope they stick to that. and not go off the rails Whatever happens today...this will be a very interesting display. Even now, as I sit here, watching these civilians pace around the warehouse from the observation deck above...I feel anxious. There is so much going on here today. New frontiers of science are being explored today. I am on the verge of a breakthrough on so many fronts, that I can barely keep track of them. I will be observing the convergence of my life's work today. I will see how the CRF has improved ODST Black Team's performance. I will see how well I was able to turn average civilians into dedicated, bloodthirsty, and loyal soldiers. I dare say...I am an artist. I am creating the future of training combat personnel.

Tye listened to Novak's audio log in total disbelief. He could not believe what he was hearing.

Tyber: He was...he was...he was...

Tye could not finish what he was trying to say.

Vixen: Those training simulations you ran...were against innocent people who had been...abducted, drugged, poisoned, and brainwashed into being nothing more than cannon fodder to hone your skills. You were in live fire against civilians.

Vixen paused.

Tye had a look of horror across his face, as his breathing became more labored.

Vixen: The next several audio logs all run along the same theme. Each log details the simulation you ran, drugs used on the civilians, and the expected results.

Vixen played the next audio log.

Novak: Chief Medical Officer's log - April 19th 2515. I have to admit...I have outdone myself with ODST Black Team. While I remain cautiously optimistic about certain aspects of ODST Black Team, such as the longevity of Black 6, I cannot help but feel that we are on the right path in terms of pushing the fundamental limit of combat personnel training. Today...I am going to be running a very special kind of simulation...something that I came up with a few days ago. It will defiantly be an excellent test to see how FAR ODST Black Team has come. I have created a new team of ODSTs called ODST Grey Team. Of course, I have used real people for their opponents...but ODST Grey Team is special. ODST Grey Team...are clones of ODST Black Team. I flash cloned them, using DNA I salvaged from them when they first came aboard. I cloned them specially for the purpose of creating single use, hyper lethal opponents for ODST Black Team. Each Clone is genetically identical to each respective member of ODST Black Team, with the exception of the fact that I have used the same psychotropic agents on Grey Team, that I used on the previous civilian cannon fodder before. It could be argued that ODST Grey Team is better, stronger, and faster than ODST Black Team is currently. While the chances of ODST Black Team being killed are quite real is the only way to push them beyond their limits and see if they will rise to any challenge on any occasion. I will be especially interested in seeing how Black 6 does and how far he pushed himself. Black 6 is proving to be a very...VERY...interesting test subject. He has a LOT of potential and Spender is very keen on taking control of this potential and turning it loose on his enemies. Time to put these men to the test to see if they were worth the effort.

Novak paused.

Novak: I just hope that all of the covert experiments I have been doing on ODST Black Team pay off...and prove to be worthwhile.

A look of anger shot across Tye's face. Knowing that he had been cloned without his consent enraged him, but the thought that Spender had taken an interest in his potential enraged him even more. This was damning evidence that Spender truly only cared about the theoretical maximum amount of damage and death that ODST Black Team could shell out, and that his interest in the people was clearly non-existent.

Tyber: We were weapons. That is all we were to him. We were custom tailored killing machines.

Vixen sighed and nodded.

Vixen: It appears so. The Trust had no interest in you. They only cared about what they could use you for.

Vixen began to skip ahead in the audio logs.

Vixen: There is another audio log here...specifically about you. This one, in my opinion, is the worst of them all. I would understand if you didn't want to hear it.

Tye scoffed.

Tyber: Play it. I need to see this through.

Vixen was hesitant, but she nodded. She played the audio log in question. Tye took a deep breath and sighed, as he heard Novak's voice in the audio recording.

Novak: Chief Medical Officer's log - April 28th 2515. It has been a few days since I had started the Orion augmentation procedure on Black 6. From what I can tell, he is responding quite well to treatment, and he is ahead of projected scheduling. This bodes well for him. The sooner he can make it through this augmentation procedure, the sooner I can get him on parity with the rest of ODST Black Team in terms of their...psychological and physiological reconditioning. I will admit, I should have started the Orion augmentation process with Black 6 from day one. That was a short-sighted mistake that is going to complicate the time table. I would prefer to have all six men progress at the same rate, to try and keep some parity...but I cannot halt my work with the rest of ODST Black Team, for fear of compromising my work in progress. I will defiantly have the rest of Black Team running more simulations, and I will continue my ongoing psychological and physiological conditioning with them as well. Hopefully nothing gets too screwed up. On that note...I have managed to make another breakthrough; it is no secret that Black 6 was the most successful non-Orion candidate that has undergone this process to date, despite the fact that I had to trim down on some of the treatments he was getting. However, his resiliency amazed me to no end. His tenacity revived my interest in experimenting on the base CRF Formula, to try and make it work with non-Orions. I believe, thanks to Black 6, I was able to perfect the formula. As it turns out…Black 6 was the key to the solution the entire time.

Novak paused.

Novak: To put it into context, in the year 2500...ONI Section 0 finalized the Class 0 Augmentation Drug. this was largely responsible for creating the Class 0 Spartan IIs in 2506...the super soldiers that eventually replaced the soldiers that were created as a result of the Orion Project. At the conclusion of Class 0 augmentations, ONI Section 0 destroyed a very important protein strain in the drug, which was singularly responsible for various important physiological improvements which essentially allowed Class 0 Spartan IIs to be augmented with 100% success. The protein strain in question worked miracles on the human body. It bolstered our muscle and skeletal structures to allow for enhanced durability and resiliency in the face of surgical improvements. It mitigated immune rejection of artificially created compounds. It gave our DNA the hardening it needed to be able to withstand the most intrusive levels of genetic manipulation. It made our brain and body chemistry more compliant to rapid and radical changes. It was the key to everything concerning Humanity’s super soldier programs. As such, this protein strain must have been destroyed by ONI Section 0 as a means of control or to maintain tactical superiority over the rest of the military. I can see why Section 0 chose to destroy this protein strain. It would be unwise to let such information fall into hostile hands.

Novak paused.

Novak: With all that said…I believe I have found something very similar in Black 6 to the protien strain used in the Class 0 cocktail. I dare say that this is a naturally occurring variation of the protein strain that was used by ONI Section 0 to create the Class 0 cocktail. It is a reasonable guess that ONI Section 0 found people with a similar protein strains in their DNA, and based their work on the Class 0 cocktail on this protein strain. To be frank…my information on what Section 0 had is woefully incomplete…but there are correlations between what I do have and what I see in the protein strain I found in Black 6. I don’t fully understand the full extent of what I have found in Black 6…but if my hypothesis is correct…this single protein strain in Black 6’s DNA may be exactly what I need to begin perfecting the CRF. If I can duplicate or even partially recreate the protein strain that was the vital component to the Class 0 cocktail…it will be all I need to perfect the CRF. If all goes according to plan…I could begin manufacturing cheap combat soldiers using nothing more than colonists and farmers. I could run them through basic training and indoctrination, and create entire platoons in relatively no time at all.

The audio recording of Novak stopped. Tye was taken aback by what he had heard. The very thought of his genetic material being used as a template for some twisted conscription infuriated him.

Tyber: I don't believe it...I refuse to accept this...

Vixen: From what I could gather have a unique piece of genetic code which seems to be of great value to The Trust. I don’t know what Novak was referring to when he said “Class 0”…but I am pretty sure I know what a super soldier is.

Vixen paused.

Vixen: That is what you are now…right? You are a super soldier?

Tyber: I…I don’t know…

Tye began to pace back and forth.

Tyber: I don’t know what I am. I don’t know anymore…

Tye clenched his fists.

Tyber: I was a soldier…a loyal soldier…in service to the UNSC. I joined the Trust…and now…I am just some…laboratory experiment. I was engineered to be some…killing machine.

Tye was becoming visibly frustrated.

Tyber: I was manipulated…I was lied to…I was used. Now…I find out that I have contributed, in some way, to enhancing the scope of Novak’s…experiments. It is bad enough that I was killing civilians en-masse under false pretenses…I am now directly responsible for enabling The Trust to do what they did to me, on a much larger scale.

Tye was furious. He was simmering with rage. He could no longer find the words to express himself. His mind was clouded and he couldn’t think straight.

Tyber: I want off this ship! I want to find these pricks! I need to kill them…

Tye glared at Vixen.

Tyber: I want off this ship…now!

Tye turned. as he stormed out of Vixen's office. Vixen began to follow him down the corrdidors. Tye had started to backtrack, heading back towards the armory. Vixen looked at Tye. She kept her composure, but on the inside, she was terrified. She knew full well what Tye was capable of when he became confrontational, and she knew she had to be careful.

Vixen: Tye…please…please calm down.

Vixen approached Tye. However, Tye stopped, turned and took a hostile step towards her, making it very clear that he was ready to lash out. Vixen quickly began to step back. Tye then turned again as he continued to head back towards The Barracks. Vixen continued to follow.

Vixen: I cannot begin to understand what they have done to you. I will never understand how you must feel at this moment. But…Tye…please…calm down.

Tye didn't stop

Vixen: If you calm down…we can work together to find my father. We will find him! We can figure this out! We can fix this! We can get through this!

Tye stopped again and looked at Vixen.

Tyber: I can find him myself…I don’t need anyone’s help! I know what I get when I accept help from other people! I know what comes my way when I trust people! I have been monstrously manipulated once! I will not allow YOU or anyone else to do it again!

Vixen: Tye…I am not The Trust. I am not here to use you or betray you. I want to help you. Please...Tye...give me that chance!

Tye turned and continued onwards to the Barracks. He began to slow down, but his body language was still very clear. However, As angry as Tye was, he found himself to be confused as well. He had so many ideas going through his head. Ever so slowly, he found himself breaking down more and more. Minute by minute Tye felt like he was losing his mind. Tye was losing control of himself and his world. Tye’s emotions were all jumbled. He could no longer figure out how he felt. He was losing his ability to focus under all of the pressure he was enduring. He was in a free fall of a nervous breakdown and he could not stop himself. Tye began to lose control. He began to ramble on, almost incoherently, his ideas not following any sort of pattern or logic.

Tyber: I tossed away everything I ever believed in…I murder civilians…I murder unarmed women…I murder children…I murder unarmed…defenseless…people. I Allow the trust to turn me into some…deranges maniac…a psychotic murderous…deranged…insane…sociopath.

Tye approached the door to the armory. He still had the keycard in his hands from before, as he used the card to open the door.

Vixen: Tye…stop! Stop right now!

Tye ignored Vixen. He walked past a small desk with some equipment spread out on it. Tye walked past the desk, but not without grabbing the edge and flipping it to the side in anger. Vixen watched as the desk flipped through the air, and all of its contents flew off in different directions

Vixen knew that Tye was losing control. She reached to her side and grabbed her PDA. She quickly located the manifest control on her PDA, and revoked the access codes for locker 45-Gamma.

Tye didn't see Vixen do this, as he approached locker 45-Gamma and tried to use the card to open the locker. However, the locker did not open. Tye frowned, scoffing in anger. He tossed the key aside, as he raised his fist and punched the locker as hard as he could.

Tyber: I can’t feel anything for the people I took so much fucking GOD DAMN pleasure in killing. I can’t feel anything!

Tye continued to slam his fist into the locker door, denting it and breaking it off little by little.

Tyber: I cannot feel anything...I cannot feel the guilt...I cannot feel the grief. I know I should be able to...but I can't! I cannot feel anything...

Tye continued to slam his fist into the locker. The entire door was close to breaking off.

Tyber: What the fuck is wrong with me!?

Tye stopped flamming his fist into the locker, as he turned away, pacing around, as he began to breathe heavily. His head was killing him. He had reached such an elevated point of anger and frustration that he started to bleed from his nose. His eyes had gone totally bloodshot, and he felt lightheaded. His right fist was bleeding from punching the locker, but he could barely feel any of this with his emotions running so high.

Tye then looked back at the locker, then at Vixen. He saw Vixen's sidearm, still holstered. In a flash, he charged Vixen, and grabbed her side arm right out of her holster.

Vixen: Damnit...TYE!

Tye had grabbed the weapon, as he took the safety off. However, he didn't take aim at the locker. Instead, he began to pace back and forth, but he soon tripped over himself as he fell to the ground. Tye felt light headed and disorientated, as he struggled with his thoughts.

Tyber: Oh God…Oh God…I can’t live with it. I can’t live with what I have done. I cannot live with what I have done. I don’t know what to do…

Tye began to break down.

Tyber: What did I do to deserve this? What did I do wrong? Where did I go wrong? Why did this happen to me?

Tye ran his left hand through his hair as he gripped the gun with his right.

Tyber: I didn't deserve this...I didn't deserve to be a pawn for The Trust.

Tye paused.

Tyber: I have betrayed everything I have ever believed in.

Tye paused again.

Tyber: I have done unspeakable things for them. I have given them more than I could ever take away from them. I have enabled them to escalate their evil to unprecedented new levels.

Tye shook his head.

Tyber: I will never live this down. I will never be able to live with what I have done. I can never undo what I have done...what I have helped THEM do...

Tye sighed. He felt the life drain out of him. Knowing all that he knew now, he felt lifeless and drained.

Tyber: I...I don't know what to do...

Tye fell silent. His mind filled with everything he had just heard. It all began to blend with the terrible memories of what he did as a member of The Trust. He could not reconcile with himself. He could find no room to forgive himself, nor could he find any way to find any solace in any consolation.

Tye then looked down at the gun.

Tyber: Perhaps I do know what I have to do.

Tye scoffed, as he put the barrel of the gun under his chin. He pressed as hard as he could, lifting his head up a bit.

Tyber: This...will fix everything...

Vixen looked at Tye as a look of panic shot across her face.

Vixen: Tye…please…for the love of God...PLEASE...put the gun down.

Vixen began to step back to try and give him some more room, to try and calm him down.

Vixen: I cannot imagine what you are going through right now Tye. I cannot begin to understand how you must feel. I doubt I ever will.

Vixen paused.

Vixen: But...I want to Try. I want to try and help you. For reasons I cannot understand...I feel compelled to help you.

Vixen paused.

Vixen: Please...Tye...don't shut me out. Let me help you. Don't pull the trigger. Please...put it down...please...

Tye looked at Vixen.

Tyber: No...this is the only way. You can't help me. You have no idea how to help me. What are you going to do anyway?

Vixen: I don't know Tye. I don't know what I am going to do...but...I want to figure it out. You are right about the fact that you did not deserve this. When I first met you...we met as enemies. However, there was one thing that was very obvious; you were a man of integrity and principle. You were a good man. You still are. You may not believe it still are that man. I want to help you realize that. I want to help you rediscover that

Vixen stepped closer, as she saw Tye's hand relax a bit. She could also see that he was not pressing the gun against the bottom of his chin as hard as he was before.

Vixen: Don't let The Trust win. Don't let them win. Don't let Novak win.

Vixen paused.

Vixen: Don't let my father win. Don't let him get the best of you. Don't let them keep a good man down.

Tye looked at Vixen as she spoke.

Vixen: Something tells me that you are a fighter Tye. I seriously doubt you would just quit…no matter what you were faced with. I don’t believe for a second that you are going to give up because of what you went through.

Vixen paused.

Vixen: Yes…what The Trust did to you was terrible, it was immoral, and it was unethical. However…there is nothing they should be able to do that can destroy you as a person. You have to realize, that despite everything that you did and went through…your life still has value…and it still has meaning.

Tye looked at Vixen. He sighed.

Tyber: I have no idea how I am ever going to get my life back together. Knowing that I have betrayed everything I have ever believed in…it is difficult to go on.

Tye paused.

Tyber: Part of me…just wants to end it…end the suffering…end the torment. I don’t want this suffering. I don’t want this torment. I don’t want these memories. I don’t want the reminders, the flashbacks, the terror of knowing that I am, and always will be, capable of great sadism and cruelty. I don't want a future where I spend the rest of my life dwelling on the atrocities that I had committed. I don't want that future!

Tye fell silent for a moment. He caught his breath, as he tried to regain some of his composure.

Tyber: I will never be the man I was. I just want to end it...

Vixen: will be a changed man. However...not all change is bad Tye.

Vixen paused.

Vixen: There are positives to this. There are positives to all of this.

Tye looked at Vixen with a look of confusion.

Tyber: Name one...

Vixen: Well...for have been given the best training and the best resources possible to make you a brilliant soldier.

Vixen took another step forward, as she knelt down, slowly.

Vixen: Let's be honest terms of your fighting have exceeded you previous potential. What others struggle with, you do as second nature.

Tyber: But unlike those who struggle...I never had to work for it or earn it. My skill and capabilities were thrusted upon me! I didn't earn any of it!

Vixen: I disagree. You have already paid a very high price for what you now have. You have paid a price higher than any man I have ever met. You have earned this. You have earned it through blood and sweat.

Tye looked at Vixen as she spoke.

Vixen: You no longer take your humanity for granted. You had your humanity ripped from you, and you are now struggling to find it again. You will get it back...and when you will value it, and everything it stands for, more than anyone else. This struggle will keep you will keep you will keep you just. You have experienced the desires of insatiable evil...and you have repudiated them. There is no question about where you stand. You may not believe it...but I see it. Trust me...take my word for it...I see a good man...not an evil one. I see a man whose soul is damaged...but it is still intact. I see a man whose soul is not for is not for barter...and it is off the table.

Tye continued to look at Vixen. A small grin appeared on his face.

Vixen: You have so much potential Tye. I know that you have the strength and the courage to face your future. I know it seems like a daunting task. I know it seems terrifying. I know it seems monumental. Don't give up on your life because the future seems uncertain or difficult. Life is a lesson in difficulty and hardship. It is what defines us.

Vixen placed her hand out in front of Tye.

Vixen: If you can find the put that gun in my hand...I swear to you...I will spend the rest of my life, if need be, helping you regain what you have lost.

Vixen looked Tye in the eye.

Vixen: strong...give me the gun.

Tye lowered the gun, as he slowly placed it in Vixen's hand. However, he did not release the gun.

Vixen: Let it go.

Tye released the gun. As soon as he did, Vixen pulled it away, and ejected the clip. She then set the weapon aside, and looked back to Tye. Vixen sat with Tye for about 20 minutes before Tye said anything.

Tyber: I...I don't know what to say...

Tye hung his head as he spoke softly.

Tyber: I have never

Tye placed his hand on his forehead.

Tyber: So...destitute.

Vixen looked at Tye. She gave a reassuring grin.

Vixen: It is nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed of. We are all Human. In the end...we are all just as fragile on the inside.

Vixen paused.

Vixen: We all find ourselves in that spot at some point or another. We all experience that moment of complete helplessness. Some of us get hit harder than others. Some of us struggle more than others.

Vixen shrugged.

Vixen: In the end...we all get past it. I got past it...and so will you.

Vixen paused again. She took a deep breath and sighed.

Vixen: Even I have had my difficult times Tye. There is a lot I don't talk about...a lot I do not think about....a lot I try to forget.

Tye looked at Vixen.

Vixen: Do you know why I hate my father so much?

Tye shrugged.

Tyber: I think I can guess; he killed your mother...his wife.

Vixen: How did you know?

Tyber: He told me. There was no remorse over it. He took great satisfaction in it.

Vixen: That sounds like him.

Vixen shook her head. She sighed.

Vixen: My father is an evil bastard. He does not know what remorse or guilt is. He is malevolent.

Vixen pinched the bridge of her noes. She was clearly upset about the topic at hand.

Tyber: We don't have to talk about it if you don't want to. You have made it clear that it upsets you.

Vixen: It does upset me. Just thinking about it troubles me. However...I think you are one of the only people who wound understand. I think you are the only person I know who can relate to how truly evil my father is.

Vixen paused.

Vixen: You are the only person I could ever see talking about it with.

Vixen, however, shook her head.

Vixen: But...this is not about me. This is about you. My you. I said I was going to help you...I said I was going to do whatever I can to help you piece your life back together. That is what I am going to do.

Vixen nodded to Tye, as she stood up.

Vixen: On your feet.

Tye looked up at Vixen. He closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and then got back to his feet.

Vixen: We will get through this. I promise.

Tye nodded.

Tyber: Yeah...we will...

Tye paused.

Tyber: me one favor Vixen...

Tye paused.

Tyber: Let's keep all of this...between you and I.

Vixen: Absolutely...

Vixen paused.

Vixen: As long as...

Vixen paused.

Vixen: As long as you call me Kathryn...hmmm?

Tye looked at Vixen with a look of curiosity.

Tyber: I thought...

Tye paused. He saw Vixen grin.

Vixen: Let's just see how it works out for now. There is no harm in trying something new...

Tyber: Honestly...I prefer Vixen. That name has grown on me.

Vixen grinned.

Vixen: Alright...Vixen it is then.

Vixen gestured her head, as she turned and led Tye out of the armory.

STB Breaking Point

UNSC Phoenix Class - The Hades Eclipse - Vixen's Office - Current Location in UNSC Patrolled Space - 0100 hours - June 25th 2515.

Vixen was in her office. The lights in the room were off. The window shutter was open, and a screen mounted on the wall was tuned to a digital fireplace. The room had a distinct orange and inconsistent glow. She was sitting at her desk, holding a tablet in her left hand, as she used her right hand to swipe across the screen. She was looking at a series of photos. She had a smile on her face as she looked through the photos. Most of the photos were of a Woman. Some of them had been cropped and resized, while others remained largely intact and unaltered.

As Vixen shifted through the photos, she heard her door chime go off. When she did, she looked at the door, and lowered the tablet.

Vixen: Enter!

A moment after Vixen had said this, the door opened, and Tye walked in. He looked at Vixen.

Tyber: Hi.

Vixen looked at Tye.

Vixen: Hi.

Tye and Vixen exchanged looks. Tye grinned, and chuckled.

Tyber: What are you doing?

Vixen: Nothing much. I am simply...reminiscing.

Tye walked forward.

Tyber: I see. Anything in particular?

Vixen: Well...

Vixen paused.

Vixen: No.

Tyber: Surely it must be something.

Vixen looked at Tye for a moment, and kept silent. She gave her answer some thought before giving it.

Vixen: I'm...

Vixen paused.

Vixen: I'm remembering someone. I often keep it to myself.

Tye walked towards the desk, and sat down in a chair at the other side of the desk. He continued to look at Vixen.

Vixen: It is personal.

Tyber: I guess it is nothing you want to share?

Vixen grinned. She shrugged.

Vixen: I don't know. Part me of me wants to. Part of me wants to open up about it...but...I just never had anyone to talk to.

Tye leaned back, as he put his right ankle on top of his left knee, crossing his legs.

Tyber: Until now. Surely after how much you and I have got to know each would think we could share a bit more.

Tye chuckled.

Tyber: I opened up to you. I told you more about myself than I have ever told anyone. can do the same for me.

Vixen gave an uncertain shake of her head.

Vixen: I have never been too comfortable talking too much about myself. I am so used to just...keeping everything to myself. I wish it wasn't the is.

Vixen shrugged.

Vixen: As a result of being so...closed...there are some things I just don't know how to talk about.

Vixen paused.

Vixen: Things I have never spoke about.

Tye leaned forward, putting his arms on the desk.

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Tyber: I understand.

Tye paused.

Tyber: You know...I respect your reasons. I am very much the same way. There are a lot of things I don't like to talk about either. However...if I have learned anything in the past 2 weeks, it would be that talking it over with someone you trust...can really help put things into perspective.

Tye grinned.

Tyber: Am I right?

Vixen looked at Tye with a hint of curiosity.

Vixen: If I didn't know better...I would guess that you are trying to turn the tables on me.

Tyber: I can't help myself. It is what I have been trained to do.

Vixen laughed.

Vixen: I guess that is true.

Vixen was still holding the tablet in her hand. She looked at it, reluctant to let it go. However, after a moment, she put the tablet down on the desk, and pushed it towards Tye. Tye reached out and grabbed the tablet, and picked it up. He looked at the picture on the tablet, but was unsure who he was looking at.

Tyber: I don't understand.

Vixen took a deep breath, and sighed.

Vixen: That was my mother.

A look of realization crossed Tye's face, as he began to piece the situation together.

Tyber: You still miss her?

Vixen: Not a day goes by that I don't think about her. She was taken far too soon because she didn’t conform to what my father believed in. He robber me of my childhood because he couldn’t understand that perhaps she, and I, wanted something different than what he wanted.

Vixen paused.

Vixen: My father was a tyrant, in so few words. If I had to pick one word to describe him…it would be tyrant. He never cared about anything other than what he wanted. He only cared for his outlook on things. He only cared about The Trust. He only cared about his duty and his obligation to “mankind”. His duty and his obligation to his family…didn’t even exist.

Tyber: What exactly happened? Why did he kill your mother?

Vixen: That is a long story…but I can try to nutshell it for you.

Vixen paused.

Vixen: I was 10 years old when my father was recruited into The Trust.

Tyber: Let me guess…2500?

Vixen: Yeah…that was the exact year. How did you know?

Tyber: Davidov said they recruited Spender in 2500

Vixen: I see. Well, anyway, like I said, I was 10 years old. I lived an average life. My mother was…a civil servant…Government type. She was a sitting member of the UEG Parliament at the time. She was a Member of The UEG’s House of Representatives for The North American Union. She was very popular with her constituents…and with the rest of The House of Representatives. I remember hearing about how she could have easily…VERY easily moved her career far past Representative…if you know what I mean?

Tyber: I think I do.

Vixen: She was a strong believer in the rule of law and democracy. She believed that everyone was accountable to someone…no excuses. She did not believe in secret police, shadow groups, puppeteers…and she certainly would not believe in what The Trust stood for.

Vixen paused.

Vixen: I can tell you that prior to 2500…my Father worked for The UNSC. I am not sure which branch…but I am sure it wasn’t something that was kept on the books. My father never enjoyed the spotlight. He enjoyed lurking in the shadows with the rest of the ill-begotten ideas that have ever emerged from the hearts of men.

Vixen paused. She took a moment to compose herself.

Vixen: I knew considerably little about what my father did. He was a very secretive man. His secrets had secrets. His lies told lies. He was a despicable man. There was nothing honest about him.

Vixen paused.

Vixen: I will admit...I have learned a few things about my father that I never knew before simply by reading the musing of this Davidov guy you kill a while back. I only really learned that he joined The Trust back in the year 2500. I had no idea that he was a member of The Trust for so long.

Tyber: If I may make a I to assume that you have only known about The Trust for a short while?

Vixen: I have known about The Trust for the past five years.

Vixen paused.

Vixen: Five painful years.

Tyber: What happened? How did you find out?

Vixen: Fast forward to the year 2510. My mother's career had continued to gain momentum. He popularity skyrocketed. I was a young woman who had her heart set on the Military. I had the makings of a promising officer. I was unsure what direction I wanted to go...but at the time...I was thinking Navy. Our lives were going great...but my father had other ideas. My father tried to recruit my mother and I into the ranks of The Trust. He saw us as valuable assets. Like I mother was not someone who would stand for such things. As for me...I had my eyes set on the UNSC. I wanted to serve our institution.

Vixen paused.

Vixen: At first...the idea of The Trust seemed tempting. I saw the allure. However...when I saw the virulent opposition from my mother...I knew something was wrong.

Vixen paused.

Vixen: I remember the shouting match they had...throwing their ideologies at each two opposing Generals on the battlefield...franticly looking to route the other.

Vixen began to frown.

Vixen: My father was not the least bit impressed by our refusal to join The Trust. He was furious. I had never seen him so angry. He was acting like he had just been betrayed. The anger and the rage was palpable.

Tyber: He wanted the political power your mother had.

Vixen: That was exactly it. My father wanted control of that political leverage. My mother...she stood her ground. It cost her life.

Tyber: Do you know what happened?

Vixen: Yeah. I witnessed it. it was horrifying.

Vixen paused.

Vixen: He framed me for the murder of my own mother. That slick SOB blamed me for my mother's death.

Tyber: That's terrible!

Vixen: The way he did it...I will never forget it.

STB Breaking Point

Vixen: My father framed me for the murder of my own mother. She had a state funeral...however....because of my father, I could not even attend the funeral of my own mother.

Tyber: I am so sorry. I don't know what to say.

Vixen: I learned who my father really was that day. I saw evil in its purest form that day. I will never forget it and it will be with me for the rest of my days. He was...uncompromising. He...

Vixen began to struggle with her words. It was clear she was deeply disturbed by the topic.

Vixen: He had to have his way. He HAD to control our destiny. What he could not control...he destroyed...and he used the ruins of what he destroyed to further his own goals.

Vixen looked at Tye. Tye could see the redness in Vixen's eyes.

Vixen: If he cannot control you, Tye, he will destroy you as well. That terrifies me. You escaped his control with your life…but…he is going to come for you. He is going to try and destroy you like he has done so many before.

Vixen stood up from behind her desk, as she began to pace around the room. There was a look of worry and concern on her face that was very apparent and obvious. However, Tye knew that he could not simply leave her like this. Tye got up from his seat, as he approached Vixen, and he wrapped his arms around her.

Tyber: Vixen…relax…it is alright. Relax.

Vixen proceeded to wrap her arms around Tye’s torso, as she pressed her head against his chest.

Tyber: Your father is not going to kill me. He is not going to get me, and he is not going to destroy me. He will not beat me.

Vixen: How do you know?

Tyber: I know…because I know every tactic that he knows. He has no surprises that can fool me. I know everything there is to know about how he, and The Trust, operates. I have him in the bag.

Vixen: Are you sure?

Tyber: Of course I am sure. Of course I am. I promise Vixen…nothing is going to happen to me.

Vixen simply smiled, as she closed her eyes and rested her head against Tye’s chest.

Vixen: Not many men could promise that.

Tyber: Yeah, well, I am NOT most men. I am THE man. I have this situation under control. I have myself under control. I am not going to let your father hurt anyone else. He is going to pay for what he has done. I will make him pay for EVERYTHING…including your mother’s death. I swear it…he will pay for everything.

Vixen looked at Tye in the eye. She raised her head a bit, as they looked at each other.

Tyber: He has a lot to answer for...and I swear to you...he is not going to put me six feet under before I may him, and The Trust, pay for everything!

Vixen grinned. Tye's reassurance calmed her down.

Vixen: I just don't want anything happening to you. These past two weeks have...

Vixen hung her head, but Tye placed his hand under her chin and raised her again again.

Vixen: Have been...

Vixen grinned.

Vixen: Very memorable. I dare say that I...

Vixen paused.

Vixen: You and I...are...well...much more than friends.

Tyber: Truthfully...honestly...I like the sound of that.

Tye paused.

Tyber: I never said anything...I didn't want to admit it...but the moment...that I set foot on this ship, not as a POW, but as...a broken man...I knew there was something about you that I liked. I saw an intrinsic goodness in you. I heard it in your voice. I saw it in your actions.

Tye paused.

Tyber: You helped me get back on my feet. You got me started on my recovery. You are helping me come to terms with what I did. You helped me piece my life back together. You helped me rediscover who I really was...not what The Trust had turned me into. You helped me realize that I was still a man...a good man...not a weapon.

Tye embraced Vixen.

Tyber: I don't know about you Vixen...but I don't want to be just friends. I want something more...and I want it from you.

Vixen looked at Tye. She smiled as she kissed him. Vixen and Tye stood in front of the fireplace panel, as their shadows projected onto the wall. They both dragged out this moment as long as they could, neither of them regretting what they had both consented to.

After what felt like an eternity, Tye and Vixen broke the kiss, but Tye did not release VIxen from his embrace.

Tyber: I am guessing you want the same thing as I do?

Vixen: Yes...yes...

Vixen paused.

Vixen: Tye...I have never felt the embrace of a man before. I have spent my entire life...alone. I have been distant...I have been reserved...and I have been scared to get close to anyone. I always feared what others would think of my life and my background. I never wanted to be seen as vulnerable or weak.

Vixen paused.

Vixen: But are different. You are different than all the others. You were unlike anyone I have ever met. I didn't have to worry about what you a way...we were...the same.

Tye looked down at Vixen, as she rested her head on his chest.

Vixen: This feels right.

Vixen closed her eyes as she began to relax. She simply fell silent, not saying a word. Tye listened to his surroundings, as he simply stood there, embracing Vixen. He could hear the slight hum of the engines, as well as some other ambient noise from the ship. Several minutes pass before Vixen spoke again.

Vixen: Tye?

Tyber: Yes?

Vixen: I don't want to be alone tonight. I am done being alone. I am done living alone. I am done sleeping alone. I need something more in my life. I want you in my life.

Tye grinned.

Tyber: There is nothing I would want more than to be a part of your life.

Vixen looked up, and grinned. She then broke free from Tye's embrace, as she walked back towards her desk. She reached over her desk, as she placed her hand on a small embedded control panel.

Vixen: Play music file 993 - "Here's to You - Orchestral"

Vixen removed her hand from the control, panel, as she turned to look at Tye.

Vixen: This was my mother's favorite song. She used to tell me that she derived much inspiration from it.

Tyber: How so?

Vixen: The story behind it is quite simple...two men were put to death...after an unfair trial in the courts. They were falsely accused of crimes they did not commit. They were executed under false pretenses.

Vixen paused.

Vixen: My mother always told me that without our system, without the rule of law, without democratic rule...we have no freedom and no liberty.

Vixen paused.

Vixen: Our system failed these men because draconian men, like my father, had centralized power.

Vixen paused.

Vixen: Whenever I doubt my own convictions or my own strength...I listen to this. It gives me purpose. it reminds me of what I want in my life. It keeps me balanced. It gives me focus. It reminds me of where I came from...and where I am going.

Tye grinned, and nodded.

Tyber: That is a good message.

Tye paused.

Tyber: There are times I wish I had something to remind me of where I am going...and what my purpose is.

Tye paused.

Tyber: Ever since my parents died when I was young...I had very little guidance in my life. My younger brother and I...we were bounced between foster homes...never really fitting in. I never had a childhood. I never knew the love of parents. There are times that I wonder what it would be like to have experienced the kind of childhood where I wasn't tossed between foster homes...where I didn't sleep on the streets when we didn't have a bed to rest upon.

Tye paused.

Tyber: There is so much that I never had. There are so many mistakes I have made.

Tye paused.

Tyber: I never reconciled with my brother. He is the old family I have…and the only thing I can think about is all the time we have wasted. I look back on why we drifted apart…and he was right…I did abandon him. I turned my back on him. Only now…after all this time…do I realize what I have done.

Tye paused.

Tyber: I miss him…but I don’t have the courage to find him and tell him how sorry I am.

Tye paused. He took a deep breath, as he swallowed hard.

Tyber: I often hear about his accomplishments, his endeavors, and his upstanding service…but I have never once congratulated him…or told him how proud I was of him. I let our differences and our disagreements push us apart…and I have no idea how to rectify it.

Tye sat down on the bed, as he ran his hands through his hair.

Tyber: I have so much baggage. I have so many regrets. I hate my past. It is a warzone of mistakes and errors.

Vixen sat next to Tye on the bed.

Vixen: Like I have said Tye…I will never fully understand the pain that you wrestle ‘with. However…I have also said that you must not beat yourself up on account of your past. We can’t change the past…but we can change the future.

Vixen paused.

Vixen: Someday…you will either find the opportunity, the courage, or the chance to face your brother…and you will tell him what you need to tell him. It is something that you know you have to do…and it is something you know you will do.

Vixen paused.

Vixen: Like I said…don’t beat yourself up over your past. Focus on the future Tye. Focus on what you can change. Focus on the things that give you a reason to live. It is the only thing you can do. Just be strong.

Tye closed his eyes and nodded.

Tyber: You’re right. My past…it is what it is. There is no changing it. I have to live with it, as it is.

Tye paused.

Tyber: But…I cannot let my past destroy my future. My future isn’t written yet. My future isn’t set in stone. It is mine to do with as I please.

Tye thought for a moment.

Tyber: I don’t know when I will ever see him again. However, when I do see him again, I am going to set things right.

Tye turned and looked at Vixen.

Tyber: I will make things right. Everything that went wrong…I am going to make right.

Tye paused.

Tyber: And…I want you there…by my side…keeping me in one piece while I do it.

Tye grinned, as he tried to lighten the mood a bit with a bit of humor. However, his grin, slowly faded.

Vixen: I will be there Tye. I plan on being there…

Vixen kissed Tye once more. However, this time she pushed him back, slowly, onto the bed.

STB Breaking Point

UNSC Phoenix Class - The Hades Eclipse - Vixen's Office - Current Location in UNSC Patrolled Space - 1500 hours - July 9th 2515.

Tye and Vixen were sitting at a desk. They were both reviewing multiple PDAs, literally buried in intel and information. Neither of them had spoken to the other in several hours. However, eventually, the silence was broken by Vixen.

Vixen: Shit...

Tye looked up from the PDA he was reading.

Tyber: Excuse me?

Vixen looked at Tye.

Vixen: I think I found something useful. I think I found something VERY useful.

Tye stood up as he walked over to Vixen.

Tyber: What did you find?

Vixen handed Tye the PDA she was looking at.


Tyber: I don't follow. What the hell is this?

Vixen: That is a compiled navigational log.

Tyber: Excuse me?

Vixen: Spatial coordinates. That is a destination. That is a place. That represents a destination solution after it has been compiled by a navigational computer. Our navigational computer can read that and know exactly where it points to.

Tyber: Alright. The question is...where IS THAT pointing to?

Vixen: I cannot say for certain. We would only know after we fed it into the navigational computer. This could take us anywhere.

Tyber: Where did this data come from? What is the source on this?

Vixen: Do you remember our attack on The Ulterior Motive? This was among some of the data we stole during the attack.

Tye rubbed his chin.

Tyber: Let's try running it through the navigation computer. Let's see where it points us.

Vixen nodded, as she placed the tablet on her desk. She then turned to a laptop on her desk, and issued a few commands. After a moment, she removed a data chip from her laptop, and then stood up.

Vixen: Let's get to the bridge.

Tye nodded, as he stood up, and followed Vixen out of her office. The two walked through the corridors, heading towards the bridge. They moved quickly, just shy of a full out sprint. The two of them had managed to make their way towards the bridge in very short order.

The moment that they had walked onto the ridge, Vixen wasted no time in issuing her orders.

Vixen: Ops!

Vixen approached one of the operations stations holding the data chip in her hand.

Vixen: Feed this data into the navigation computer...and give me the destination solution!

Ops Officer: Yes Ma'am!

The ops officer took the data chip, and inserted the chip into a serial port on his workstation. He then accessed navigational control.

Ops Officer: Accessing raw data...computing...stand by...

The ops office waited a moment while the data computer. He then transferred the read-out to the large display at the front of the bridge. Both Vixen and Tye turned to look at the display. They could see that the destination solution was well outside UNSC patrolled space.

Tyber: Vixen...that is in the middle of nowhere. That CANNOT be right! Do you have any idea how FAR that is? That is roughly 3 weeks from our current position!

Tye paused.

Tyber: How can we be sure that this is even the correct destination solution? For all we know...this is corrupted data.

The ops officer chimed in.

Ops Officer: Corrupted navigation data would not be capable of being parsed by the input stream of the navigation computer. The odds of corrupted data being correctly parsed with no errors like we just very improbable. There is an almost an absolute possibility that this destination solution is correct.

Tyber: we know it is correct, and not flawed. The question now becomes...what is out there? What is at that destination?

Vixen: I have no clue. We have never been out that far. It is impossible to say what we will find. The only way we will know for if we go and actually look.

Tye sighed.

Tyber: Three weeks? Why not?

Vixen nodded and grinned. She then turned to the helm officer.

Vixen: Helm...take us about. Spin up our drive core to maximum. Access the navigational computer, and use the pre-set destination solution.

The helm officer carried out Vixen's orders. He had the destination solution locked in. His hand hovered over the final set of controls, as he waited.

Helm Officer: Ready on your mark Ma'am!

Vixen: Engage!

Tye looked over at Vixen, and grinned.

Tyber: Engage? Never heard THAT one before.

Vixen: I have always preferred "engage"...It just seems more...enterprising.

Tye grinned.

Tyber: It defiantly sounds better than "punch it" or "execute".

Tye shrugged.

Tyber: Anyway...I think I am going to go back and see if there was anything we missed. Are you coming back...or are you going to stay here?

Vixen: I may stay here, for now. I want to stay on top of our current operations. We can catch up later.

Tye nodded, as he turned and walked off the bridge. Tye returned to Vixen's quarters to continue reviewing all of the intel that was collected.

UNSC Marathon Class - The Ulterior Motive - Constantine Spender's Office - Currently in Slipstream Space en-route to The Apex - 1600 Hours - July 9th 2515

Constantine Spender was sitting in his office, behind his desk. He had been contemplating recent events, including, but not limited to, the loss of Black 6 and his current fight against The Trust. Spender found the loss of Black 6 to The Insurrection to be a very frustrating defeat. He disliked the fact that Black 6 had been bested by The Insurrection.

Spender had generally been in a very frustrated state of mind for the past 4 weeks. His inability to locate Black 6 was defiantly a setback.

Spender needed to calm his nerves. He reached into his jacket and pulled out a cigarette. He placed the cigarette in his mouth.

Spender: I need a fucking smoke in the worst way.

Spender began to search his pockets for his lighter.

Spender: Where is my fucking lighter?

Spender soon found his lighter in one of his coat pockets. He lit up the smoke, as he sighed in relief after taking the first drag.

Spender: Fucking brilliant.

Spender sat behind his desk, as he tried to calm himself down. However, his focus was broken when he heard the chime of his door.

Spender: Enter!

Spender sat up, as he watched his door open, and Novak enter the office. Spender could see that Novak was holding a tablet in his hands.

Novak: this a bad time?

Spender: is. It is a very bad time Robert.

Novak raised an eyebrow at Spender's choice of words. He had never been addressed as "Robert" by Spender.

Novak: something wrong?

Spender: Yes...something is wrong. We lost Black 6. Why could we not find him? With all of our resources and intel...with all of the control I could strong-arm...why could I not find ONE ship!?

Novak sighed. He gave a shrug.

Novak: Sir...

Spender: There is no answer to that question! There was no excuse for our inability to find Black 6. We lost a considerably valuable asset, and we lost technology to The Insurrection. This is an unmitigated disaster. At this point...finding Black 6 means nothing.

Novak cleared his throat.

Novak: That MAY not be hindsight.

Spender: Explain?

Novak: see...the thing is...Black 6 may have fully recovered from his ordeal...but he still poses a large degree of information that he should not have...given that he is not with The Trust.

Spender: What is your point?

Novak: Sir...

Novak placed the tablet down on Spender's desk.

Spender: What is this?

Spender reached for the tablet. he grabbed it and picked it up. He could see Tye's service profile, as well as information on his alias of Black 6.

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Novak: Sir...he is fully briefed on all of our operational procedures. He knows more than he should. Black 6 is fully aware of the details and the extent of Black Team's training. This could defiantly be something that he could use to reduce future effectiveness of their deployments. He is in possession of some of our hardware assets and he will use them against us. We have to nullify him in order to prevent any leaking of information. At this point, it would be all but impossible to conscript him again. He would not allow himself to undergo any further procedures.

Spender: I still do not understand why we could not simply conscript him again. Hypothetically...couldn't we just capture him and simply administer the drugs we used on him?

Novak: It is not as simple as that. Like I said before...Black 6 was incomplete. He was still undergoing treatments...treatments which were required to more fully adjust and fine-tune his physiology and his brain chemistry. We lost him to The Insurrection before we could finish. I am almost certain that, by this point, he has returned, in large part, to normal - that is - returned to his former mindset, before we recruited him. He was simply unfinished...and our work has been undone by a lack of attention.

Novak paused.

Novak: But...he is still fully augmented...and he is still highly trained. He is far more dangerous now, than ever before.

Spender: What about the rest of Black Team? At this there any danger of the other five reverting?

Novak: At this point? No. We have all but subjugated them. From what I can tell, their new physiology and brain chemistry has asserted itself as the predominant condition. In order to undo what has been done to them...a very consorted effort would have to be made. Over the past 4 weeks...I have continued my work with the rest of Black Team. They took the loss of Black 6 very hard...and that concept incorporated itself into their training. Their performance, as of late, has crushed their previous results. In a way, losing Black 6 has exponentially improved the other 5. In theory...I can see why. The ideas of comradery and loyalty we installed into them was a central theme in their development. As soldier...they react very negatively to the loss of their comrades. The loss of Black 6 pushed them past the breaking point. It made my efforts all the more easy.

Novak shrugged.

Novak: I digress. The rest of ODST Black Team has progressed along, and exceeded, predefined specifications. They are as ready as they ever will be. The only thing left for them to live the new lives we have given them.

Novak paused.

Novak: In the future...I may consider cybernetic augmentation if it becomes warranted. However, for now, they are the soldiers we need them to be...and much more.

Spender took a drag of his cigarette, as he shook his head. He was still frustrated about Black 6.

Spender: I still cannot get over the loss of Black 6. It was such a waste.

Spender scoffed.

Spender: We don't even know if he is dead or alive.

Spender paused. He took a long drag of his cigarette.

Spender: So much good undone. So much effort destroyed. So much faith wasted. I believed in him. He was troubled...but he had so much potential.

Spender took another drag of his cigarette, slowly burning it down.

Spender: The setbacks on Draco III...with the catastrophic, yet unavoidable losses, of The Insurrection. Everything I have worked for...endangered. I would be shocked to see if The Insurrection ever manages to recover from that.

Spender turned his chair, as he looked Novak head on.

Spender: Having to kill The Board of Chairmen...the infighting in The Trust. Things are falling apart Robert.

Spender scoffed.

Spender: I need a fucking miracle to salvage all of this.

Novak: I am sure, that despite the losses on Draco III, that The Insurrection will survive. It will take time to try and get them back on track to continue with endeavors such as Operation: Blind Eagle. Honestly...the fact that you managed to hold everything together as long as you did was a miracle in itself. Under any lesser leadership...I am sure that The Trust would have torn itself apart under the stress. I know that under your leadership...The Trust will survive...and thrive, for that matter. I have learned to play the cards I am dealt. Sometimes...we win a hand and sometimes we lose a hand. As long as we remember that...we will be fine.

Spender laughed, as he ashed out his cigarette. He then reached into his pocket, as he pulled out another. He reached for his lighter, but his lighter would not ignite. He cursed under his breath. However, he stopped, when Novak leaned forward, with a lighter, and lit the cigarette for Spender. Spender looked at Novak, and nodded.

Spender: Thank you.

Spender paused.

Spender: I had this lighter for 10 years...and it finally gives out. My luck just keeps getting worse.

Spender paused.

Spender: However...I think you are right Robert. It is just the difficulty of having to deal with all of this shit at once. Even for can be overwhelming.

Spender looked once more at the tablet on his desk that had all of Tye's information on it.

Spender: Arrange to have Black 6 killed...provided he is ever found. Seal his file. Inform Black Team that we suspect that Black 6 has gone rouge, and that he has defected to The Insurrection. I can think of no better way to test ODST Black Team than to give them the news that they will be the ones who will be responsible for the elimination of their former comrade and ally. If there is any shred of humanity left in those men...this task will destroy it. They will be...perfect soldiers...loyal to the end.

Novak: Right away.

Novak nodded, as he turned to leave. Before Novak reached the door, Spender called out to him.

Spender: Robert!

Novak turned to face Spender.

Novak: Yes?

Spender: Despite all of the pressure I have put on you. Despite my lack of patience for your work. Despite the trouble I have given you for this entire endeavor, from the start...your work has been...phenomenal. You have exceeded my ultimate expectations of what I wanted from ODST Black Team. You handled their training and their management with a degree of grace and diplomacy that exceeds my own.

Spender paused. He stood up.

Spender: Without you...Black Team would not exist. Had this...monumental task been left in the hands of the most stalwart professionals and experts...they would have gotten it wrong. You are a credit to are a credit to The Trust...and...

Spender extended his hand. Novak did the same and shook Spender's hand.

Spender: And...I consider you one of my most trusted and loyal friends.

Spender paused.

Spender: If only there were others like you...I wouldn't have to work so hard. I wouldn't put up with a fraction of the bullshit I have to.

Novak: Thank you, sir. I appreciate the high praise.

Spender nodded, He then waved his hand to dismiss Novak. Novak turned once more, as he walked out of Spender's office.

Spender watched as Novak left his office. As the door closed, Spender sighed, as he took another drag of his cigarette. He simply sat in silence for several minutes before he was once again interrupted by a call from the bridge.

Trust Officer: Admiral Spender to the bridge.

Spender finished off the cigarette he was smoking, as he ashed it out and left his office, walking towards the bridge. As Spender walked onto the bridge, he took his place in the command seat.

Spender: Status report?

Trust Officer: ask to be informed when our ETA to the Apex had fallen under ten minutes.

Spender: YEs, yes. Understood. I assume we are about three minutes out?

Trust officer: Yes sir, that is correct.

Spender nodded.

Spender: Alright. Very good. It is time to get this show on the road.

Spender leaned over, and accessed the ships comm system.

Spender: ODST Black to the bridge, on the double.

Spender muted the comm line, as he stood up and walked towards the holotable on the bridge. Spender waited for Black Team arrive. Spender only had to wait several minutes before ODST Black Team walked onto the bridge. ODST Black Team stepped in unison, the sounds of their boots hitting the ground filled the bridge with a sort of terror. It was a very unnerving sound. Many of the officers on the bridge found it to be quite disturbing and jarring.

ODST Black Team lined up in front of Spender, on the other side of the holotable, as Black 1 spoke.

Black 1: You called?

Spender: Yes...Black Team. We are on our final approach for The Apex. I am here to inform you that I will be deploying you to the surface of The Apex. Your mission will be a difficult, though necessary one.

Black 1: We are ready for anything. Just give us our orders.

Spender: Your orders will be to secure The Trust's central point of command, The HEURISTICS Facility, on the planet's surface. There will defiantly be a hostile naval presence around the planet, but The Ulterior Motive is prepared to engage in order to get you through the line.

Black 1: If there is a hostile naval presence...does that not put the ship in danger?

Spender: It will put The Ulterior Motive in a great deal of danger. However, The Ulterior Motive will not be engaging in any long-term battles. We are there to get you deployed onto the surface. After that...we are going to fight a defensive battle up here. The Ulterior Motive will stick to hit and run strategies, as well as bait and switch maneuvers in order to draw out the length of the battle. The overall goal will be to survive up here, long enough, to give you five the time you will need to capture The HEURISTICS Facility.

Black 2: What will capturing The HEURISTICS Facility accomplish?

Spender: By capturing The HEURISTICS Facility on the surface of the planet, we can strengthen our hand. As you may or may not be aware, there are planet-side defenses which we could leverage in order to turn the tide of the battle up here. If we destroy Rear-Admiral Hoffman's ship, and damage enough of the Trust's navy...we can force a surrender. Additionally, by capturing The HEURISTICS Facility, we can cripple local coordination in this system. Controlling The HEURISTICS Facility is the key to this battle.

Black 3: What kind of resistance can we expect planet-side?

Spender: Expect an enormous amount of resistance. You will encounter more resistance on The Apex than you did on The Excalibur and Draco III combined. This is the heart of our operations. This is the core of The Trust. This location is the most vital location to The Trust. This will not be easy. This will be very difficult. The odds are stacked against you.

Black 4: Are there any tactical avenues we could use to leverage an advantage during combat?

Spender: It is difficult to say. The HEURISTICS Facility is a highly secured facility. It makes ONI Alpha Site look as penetrable as a church broom closet. A large portion of the main facility is underground. However, there is a sizeable portion that is still above ground…a spire, essentially. have to fight your way through the front door. As you can see, the spire itself resides in the center of this overall area.

Black 5: That is a very large complex. The area around it is even larger.

Spender: The Apex is massive. the CIC of The HEURISTICS Facility is in the subbasement of the spire. As you can see, the airspace around the spire is protected by Frigates, Pelicans, and other defenses. There are computer operated MAC turrets mounted on the roof of the spire as well, which are more than capable of shooting down incoming air assaults. An air approach will be futile. You must approach from the ground…and even then…you will be hard pressed to get by the defenses.

Black 5: Are there any other tactical locations we should be aware of that are on the surface?

Spender: Aside from a dozen low priority R&D facilities, another dozen or so factories for producing vehicles and equipment, multiple gun turret emplacements, and a bone yard, there is considerably very little to concern you outside the spire itself.

Black 2: Would it be possible to cut the power to these defenses to allow an air approach?

Spender: No…the main reactors which power all of this, as well as redundant supplies, are all buried about 2 Km underground. When The Trust designed this location…they went all out. It took decades to build this…to perfect it…to refine it. There was so much secrecy and it was so shrouded in the veil of virtual non-existence that we could literally take our time to entrench as firmly as we wanted. The Trust had always known that, collectively, it would come under attack some day. When that day came…they wanted to be ready.

Spender paused.

Spender: We will be fighting decades of the most paranoid security ever devised by a human.

Spender paused.

Spender: I am asking you five to do the impossible…and I am expecting results. I know that the five of you are capable of doing this…and I know that you will succeed. You have the best training imaginable. You are soldiers of the highest caliber. I would not ask you to do the impossible if I KNEW that you couldn’t do it.

Black 1: Rest assured, sir…ODST Black Team will defeat this impenetrable fortress and its legions of defenses single handedly.

Spender: Excellent. That is exactly what I wanted to hear.

Spender paused.

Spender: You five...are the finest soldiers I have ever seen. If there is anyone who can pull this off in its will be the five of you.

Spender paused.

Spender: The five of what I want the Trust to be; loyal, stalwart, implacable. I have never had as much faith in a person or group of people, as I do the five of you. Despite the setback of losing Black 6, the five of you have proven that in the face of adversity, you neither falter nor do you succumb.

Spender paused. However, before he could speak, he heard the helm officer address him.

Helm Officer: Sir...we will be exiting Slipspace in 5...4...3...2...1

Spender turned, facing the front of the bridge. He watched as the ship returned to normal space. He could see The Apex in the distance, although the planet was quite small from where the ship actually was.

Helm officer: The Apex is dead ahead sir.

Spender turned back to face Black Team.

Spender: Here we go...

Spender turned back and faced the front of the bridge once more.

Spender: Helm...take us in.

Spender walked towards the front of the bridge. As he did, he accessed the comm system, and spoke to his entire crew.

Spender: All hands to battle stations!

Spender took a deep breath, and sighed, as he knew that he was walking into the most dangerous battle that he had ever undertaken. He was outgunned, outnumbered, and he could find no statistical advantage in what he was going to start. Part of him felt very uneasy and even unsure about the coming battle. He knew that the odds of failure were astronomical. However, he had to fight for what he believed in. He had to take a stand. He had a responsibility to everything that he valued to make this stand.

ODST Black Team simply watched Spender stand at the front of the bridge, like a statue, while everyone around him had been moving in a panic and in a rush. ODST Black Team then began to exchange looks with one another, until Black 1 finally stepped forward towards Spender.

Black 1: Sir?

Spender turned to face Black 1.

Black 1: Do you want us to report to the hanger bay and await deployment?

Before Spender could answer, he was interrupted by his comm office.

Comm Officer: Sir...we have an incoming message from The Trust. The message is originating from "The Devastator". The message is on a priority one channel...and they are addressing you by name.

Spender paused for a moment.

Spender: Hoffman wants to talk. The question is...why? Surely he must know about Davidov and Smith. Why the hell does he want to talk?

Spender paused again.

Spender: What is the current status of their fleet?

Tactical Officer: Based on these readings...they are simply holding position between us and the planet. Their weapons are not primed, and they seem to be at standard condition. I am seeing nothing which puts them into a battle position.

ODST Black Team listened to the exchange. They were curious as to why nothing was happening.

Black 4: What is going on? Why are they not shooting at us? Why are they not engaging us?

Spender: That is a very good question. They should be attacking us.

Comm Officer: Sir...we still have an incoming transmission. Admiral Hoffman is still trying to reach us.

Spender: Take us forward. Move us in closer. Keep weapons primed, and hold current condition.

Spender paused.

Spender: Something is not right. This isn't adding up. They should know that I have hostile intent.

Helm Officer: 20 000 Km and closing. We will be in weapon's range by the time we reach 15 000 Km.

Spender: Maintain course. Take us in at cruising speed.

Spender simply stood at the front of the bridge. He simply kept on waiting for something to happen. Nothing was going to plan. Nothing that he had expected was happening.

Helm Officer: 18 000 Km.

Spender: Maintain course and speed.

After a few moments, the Helm officer began to speak.

Helm Officer: 16 000 Km and closing. We will be in weapons range in...10 seconds.

Spender simply waited, but still nothing happened.

Black 1: They should be able to lock weapons on us by now. They should be able to fire.

Comm Officer: Sir...we STILL have an incoming message. Do we answer it?

Spender paused. He sighed, as he sat down in his chair.

Spender: Open a channel. Let's hear what he has to say.

Comm Officer: Aye sir. Channel is open.

Just as the comms officer opened the channel, one of the large screens on the bridge displayed Rear-Admiral Hoffman on the screen. Spender looked at the screen, and exchanged a glare with Hoffman.

Rear Admiral Hoffman: Constantine have been busy. Long time no see.

Spender: What do you want Hoffman? I am not in the mood to talk.

Rear Admiral Hoffman: I can see that, The readings on your ship are all too clear. Your weapons are primed, your ship is on full alert, and it literally took you forever to answer my call.

Hoffman paused.

Rear Admiral Hoffman: I can also see quite a bit more. Your ship is damaged. There is a lot of battle scarring on your ship. Some of it seems to have been touched up...but you are not 100%...are you? Draco III...The Excalibur...The Nemesis..>The Insurrection?

Hoffman paused.

Rear Admiral Hoffman: You have been very busy. You have been very busy...killing a lot of people.

Spender: What is your point Hoffman?

Rear Admiral Hoffman: My that it is very misdirected. Granted...killing Insurrectionists deserves a tip of the hat...but turning your weapons on The Board of Chairmen? My, my...that is very sketchy.

Spender: The Board of Chairmen turned on me.

Rear Admiral Hoffman: And we were very wrong to do so. I realize now...we were in error. We were far too short sighted.

Spender was taken aback by this. he was very confused by this.

Spender: Excuse me?

Rear Admiral Hoffman: You hear what I said Spender. We were wrong. We were shortsighted.

Hoffman paused.

Rear Admiral Hoffman: Understand this...I did not come to this realization because of how much carnage you caused. It is much more than that Spender. There are things that we know now...that...The rest of the UEG and UNSC does not.

Hoffman paused.

Rear Admiral Hoffman: Things that even ONI does not know.

Hoffman paused.

Rear Admiral Hoffman: Things that have, for all intents and purposes, scared the shit out of us.

Hoffman sighed.

Rear Admiral Hoffman: You are needed, now more than ever.

Spender was unsure how to respond to this complete 180 degree reversal.

Spender: What are you talking about Hoffman? What has happened?

Rear Admiral Hoffman: Nothing has happened yet. However...I believe something will happen. Something is going to happen. We are not ready if it does happen.

Spender: What are you talking about?

Rear Admiral Hoffman: I am not entirely sure. All I that you and I have to meet. Please...allow me to come aboard your ship. This is no deception. This is no ruse. This is no attempt on your life. We must bury the hatchet Spender...for the good of Humanity...

Hoffman paused.

Rear Admiral Hoffman: For the good of our species.

Spender was unsure of what to make of this complete reversal...but he could see that there was a desperation in Hoffman's eyes that was unlike anything he had ever seen.

Spender: Hanger bay is in the best condition at the moment. Just message us when you get close.

Hoffman nodded, as the video feed was cut and the screen went black.

Everyone on the bridge was silent.

Spender: Stand down battle stations.

Spender tended his fingers, as he rested his elbows on the arm rests of his chair. He slowly spun around in his chair, facing the rear of the bridge. He looked at Black Team.

Spender: Change of plans...we are NOT going to attack The Apex.

Spender paused.

Spender: Stand down for now. Await further orders. I need to know exactly what is going on before I make any more decisions.

ODST Black Team looked at each other. They were all thinking the same thing.

Black 1: Sir?

Spender looked at Black 1.

Spender: Yes?

Black 1: What did Hoffman mean by..."the good of our species"?

Spender looked at Black 1, unable to answer the question.

Spender: Honestly? I do not know. I think we are going to find out, however.

Spender paused.

Spender: I want you five to report to hanger bay 3...and bring Hoffman to the bridge. Make sure he doesn't get lost.

ODST Black Team nodded, as they turned, and left the bridge, heading down to hanger bay 3 to await Hoffman's arrival.

UNSC Marathon Class - The Ulterior Motive - Hanger Bay 3 - Currently in the APX-449 Star System - Center of Trust Activity known as The Apex - 1615 Hours - July 9th 2515

ODST Black Team had entered Hanger Bay 3. When they did, they saw an active Pelican finalizing its docking procedures, as it flew through the security barrier that separated the hanger bay from the vacuum of space. ODST Black Team watched as the Pelican powered down. They could hear the rear door of the Pelican open, as well as the sound of footsteps stepping from the Pelican, onto the hanger bay flood. It was not long before Admiral Hoffman stepped around the Pelican into plain view. He stepped forward, but he slowed his approach when he saw ODST Black Team.

Hoffman simply looked at ODST Black Team. He gave them a puzzled look.

Rear Admiral Hoffman: Defiantly not standard issue. Who are you guys?

Black 1 answered the question.

Black 1: Black Team.

Rear Admiral Hoffman: Clearly. Not very chatty?

Black 1: Not at the moment.

Hoffman shrugged.

Black 1: Follow us to the bridge.

Black Team all turned, one after the other, as they took the lead, and began to lead Hoffman back up to the bridge of The Ulterior Motive to meet Spender. ODST Black team remained silent for the entire trip. Hoffman found this to be rather disturbing, as the men were oddly stoic and they gave a very cold impression. He also found it very odd that they stepped in almost complete unison. Hoffman had no idea who these men were or where they came from, but it was something he could not concern himself with at this moment.

After a few minutes, and an elevator ride, ODST Black Team had returned to the bridge with Hoffman in tow. Spender was still sitting in his command chair, facing the rear of the bridge. Spender watched as the entourage entered the bridge.

Black 1: Sir...Admiral Hoffman...

Black Team turned to face Admiral Hoffman. Spender nodded, as he stood up and walked up to Hoffman.

Spender: It has been a while.

Rear Admiral Hoffman: It has been.

Hoffman extended his hand. Spender looked at Hoffman's hand, and sighed, as he shook Hoffman's hand. However, as Spender shook Hoffman's hand, he could feel something in Hoffman's hand.

As the two men separated their hands, Spender pulled his hand back, and saw that Hoffman had put a data chip into his hand.

Rear Admiral Hoffman: Constantine...that is why I am here.

Hoffman paused.

Rear Admiral Hoffman: That data chip contains something going to change everything. Plug it into the holotable...and you will see.

Spender looked at Hoffman for a moment, but then agreed, and did as Hoffman asked. Spender walked towards the holotable, and inserted the data chip into one of the data ports. Just as he did, the holotable lit up, and a holographic image of the milky way appeared. There were about half a dozen flashing lights on the display.

Spender, Hoffman, and ODST Black Team

Rear Admiral Hoffman: As you know...The Trust is constantly sending unmanned probes into the depths of space for numerous reasons. We typically keep each probe confined to a relatively small group of sectors. This allows each of the probes to communicate with each other in real time, with closer probes acting as our relays to further probes. As you can see, we have a very nice network of probes going out into the depths of the galaxy.

Spender: I am aware of how it works. The details of our astronomical mapping techniques is not lost on me.

Rear Admiral Hoffman: Then I can cut right to the chase.

Hoffman paused, as he entered a few commands on a keypad that was attached to the holotable.

Rear Admiral Hoffman: 9 days ago...Deep Space Probe Tango-72...had to be destroyed by a remote procedure call. We were also forced to destroy an entire subnet of probes that were directly communicating with it.

Spender: Why?

Rear Admiral Hoffman: Tango-72 returned a code 16 violation to The Apex.

Spender stepped back. He was shocked to hear this.

Spender: Are you sure? How is that possible?

Rear Admiral Hoffman: We were very sure. We analyzed the logs that were sent back upon it happening.

Black 2 then spoke up.

Black 2: Would you mind clarifying what a code 16 violation is?

Rear Admiral Hoffman: A code 16 violation...directly involves the communication systems.

Hoffman paused.

Rear Admiral Hoffman: Someone tried to communicate with tango-72.

Black 2: Could it have been a fluke?

Rear Admiral Hoffman: was not a fluke.

Spender: How can you be sure of that?

Hoffman sighed. He didn't say anything. He simply looked down at the control panel in front of him, and began to cycle through the data. He called up a collection of images and telemetry that was captured.

Rear Admiral Hoffman: We are sure...because we detected...this...

Hoffman pressed a button, as a 3D holoimage of a ship appeared on the holotable.

Rear Admiral Hoffman: This vessel is not Human in origin. We have no idea what it is or where it came from. However...we caught a glimpse of what was inside. If you thought the ship was troubling...wait until you meet "Non-Human-Entity-1"

Hoffman cycled to the next image. Spender and ODST Black team were taken aback by what they saw.

Spender: My God...

Black 1: Holy shit...

Black 3: What the hell is that thing?

Black 5: Sweet Jesus...

Hoffman sighed.

Rear Admiral Hoffman: You guys are taking it CONSIDERABLY better than we did.

Hoffman paused.

Rear Admiral Hoffman: After that image was taken...the code 16 violation was detected. That thing tried t access our probe. Chances are...after that explosion...Non-Human-Entity-1 is dead.

Spender: Excellent. The first casualty. Well done Hoffman.

Rear Admiral Hoffman: Well, we did not hesitate in destroying that probe and everything connected with it. Ever since we found this...we have been on a heightened state of alert. The Trust has recalled all ships back to The Apex. We still have ships en-route...and more arrive every day.

Hoffman paused.

Rear Admiral Hoffman: With me being the last surviving member of The Board of Chairmen...I have been left alone...making tactical decisions that may or may not be necessary against...God knows what.

Hoffman paused.

Rear Admiral Hoffman: Constantine...we now have the answer to a question that has plagued mankind since the dawn of time; are we alone? We have the answer...and it terrifies me. It is why the first thing I did...was divert MORE assets into Operation Blind Eagle. I realize now that The Trust MUST be the tip of the spear against this enemy. We need more power...more control...more authority. If the day comes where we are forced to face something in battle that is...beyond Human...The Trust must be ready.

Hoffman looked at Spender.

Rear Admiral Hoffman: Spender...I need you. The Trust NEEDS you. Humanity...NEEDS YOU!

Hoffman paused.

Rear Admiral Hoffman: You are the only man I know with the convictions and the strength of character to deal...with all of this. I know we have had our differences...and I know that we have almost never seen eye to eye...but I realize now that you have a foresight unlike any other man I have ever met. You were correct in what you were trying to do. Only now do I understand your reasons.

Hoffman paused.

Rear Admiral Hoffman: Please...for the good of Humanity...we must bury the hatchet...and work together. We have to set aside our differences and allow our mutual strengths to complement one another in order to prepare ourselves for what is GOING to come.

Spender looked at Hoffman. Spender then grinned, and then started to laugh.

Spender: This is so ironic. Not too long ago...I was kicking myself for the loss of The Insurrection on Draco III. Now, it seems, that we don't even need the Insurrection at all. We have something much more...inhuman to motivate us.

Spender nodded.

Spender: I can bury the hatchet Hoffman. I can set aside our differences. In the end...those differences mean nothing now.

Spender paused.

Spender: We must work together if we are to prepare ourselves.

Spender paused.

Spender: The first thing we have to do is rebuild The Board of Chairmen. We need a chain of command. We need to reestablish our leadership. We need to get this house in order. We then need to drive up recruitment to replace the losses that...I inflicted. I will take personal responsibility for that. We will need talent, we will need expertise, engineers, scientists...anything that can give us an edge. There is much to be done, but, if we work together, I know that we can prepare both The Trust, and Humanity, for whatever may come.

Hoffman nodded in agreement.

Rear Admiral Hoffman: Absolutely. I agree.

Spender: It is time to get back to work Hoffman. We have much to do.

Spender paused.

Spender: Our goal is clear...

Spender paused again.

Spender: Protect Humanity. It is why The Trust was created. It is why we exists.

Spender paused.

Spender: Let's get moving!

UNSC Phoenix Class - The Hades Eclipse - Main Bridge - Currently in Slipstream Space en-route to The Apex - 1600 Hours - July 30th 2515

Vixen was on the bridge of The Hades Eclipse. She sat in the command chair, facing the front of the bridge. Her ship was at full alert, and every member of her crew were already at their respective battle stations. Vixen knew that they were closing in on their destination, and she wanted to be ready for anything. Vixen was very anxious, though she hid it well. Part of her knew that she was no doubt going into a combat situation, despite the uncertainty of what was waiting for her and her ship when she finally dropped out of slipspace.

Despite the hustle and bustle on the bridge, Vixen did hear the door to the bridge open. She stood up, and turned around to see who had walked onto the bridge. When she had turned to look, her heart skipped a beat, partly in shock and partly in awe. She watched Tye walk onto the bridge, once again, fully geared in his Black Team BDU.

Vixen: Tye...

Black 6 approached Vixen. He simply looked at her.

Black 6: Vixen...

Vixen stepped back, as she looked him head to toe once more.

Vixen: Those colors do not suit you...not anymore.

Black 6: It is all I have at the moment. Besides...if I am going up against The Trust...I am going to need all the toys built into this suit to give me every edge I can get. I don't like it any more than you do...especially when by HUD Tag says BLK6

Black 6 paused. He then shrugged.

Black 6: I guess I had the time to change it provided how long I have been here. I guess the task just slipped my mind. Also...this is really the first time I have touched the armor since coming her.

Vixen: Are you going to be alright?

Black 6: Of course I will be alright. It was the man wearing the armor that fucked up...not the armor itself. I will be fine.

Black 6 paused.

Black 6: Once this is all said and done...we can...make a few changes.

Vixen sighed. She hung her head.

Black 6: What is the matter?

Vixen: When this all said and done...

Black 6: What do you mean?

Vixen: When this is all said and done...where do I go? What do I do? Where do you go? What do you do?

Vixen paused.

Vixen: You had a life prior to all of this Tye. You have a career. You cannot forget about your military career. I care about you too much to just let you throw away something that could prove to be so promising.

Black 6 gave an uncertain nod.

Black 6: I am not sure. I have technically been AWOL for a long time. I would be surprised if I still have one.

Vixen: Even still have a life you have to go back to.

Vixen paused.

Vixen: But what do I do? Where do I go?

Vixen looked at Black 6.

Vixen: If you go back to your life, and I continue mine here...we can't have lives together. We live two very incompatible lives, you and I.

Black 6 shrugged.

Black 6: Do you think that bothers me? Do you think I would let something, like that, determine if we could be together or not? Of course not. We will figure it out. We will find a way to make it work.

Black 6 paused.

Black 6: I don't care what kind of obstacle gets in my way. I am not going to let little problem stand between you and I. I will be damned if we have to part ways because of a career.

Black 6 paused.

Black 6: I will toss that career aside if I have to. I don't care where I end long as I end up there, with you. You are far too important to me to lose.

Vixen grinned.

Vixen: We're you always this charming...or do I just bring out the best in you?

Black 6: A little from column A...and a little from column B.

Black 6 laughed.

Black 6: Don't worry Vixen...we will figure this out. Everything will work out. Once this is all behind us, we will figure something out. We will make it work.

Vixen grinned.

Vixen: There is nothing I want more.

Vixen placed her hand on the side of Black 6's helmet.

Vixen: But I still think Black doesn't look very good on you.

Black 6 laughed.

Black 6: We will fix it later.

Vixen and Black 6 were then interrupted by the helm officer.

Helm officer: Ma'am...we will be returning to Normal space in approximately 15 seconds.

Vixen looked back at Black 6, as she stepped back.

Vixen: Here we go Tye. This is it. This is where we find out what awaits us. This is the hour.

Vixen turned, as she walked towards the front of the bridge. Vixen watched as the ship returned to normal space. She stepped closer to the front of the bridge, as she looked out the large window. She could see a planet in the distance.

Vixen: What planet is that?

Black 6 walked towards the front of the bridge and stood beside Vixen.

Black 6: I do not know.

Vixen turned around and faced the officers on her bridge.

Vixen: I need a status report! Is there anything out there other than that planet?

Vixen watched as her bridge officers began to check their readouts. The sensor officer was the first to respond.

Sensor Officer: Ma'am...we have ships on the far side of the planet. They are circling around, and they are on a direct intercept course.

Vixen: How many ships?

Sensor Officer: 19 ships. They appear to be UNSC ships.

Black 6 shook his head.

Black 6: No they are not. They may look like UNSC ships...but I am going to bet that the officers on those ships are not with the UNSC.

Black 6 turned to Vixen.

Black 6: It has to be The Trust. This is something we were both expecting.

Vixen: I was not expecting 19 ships.

Vixen and Black 6 turned back to the large window.

Vixen: This is an outpost. This is a staging point.

Vixen paused.

Vixen: Whatever that planet is important to The Trust.

Vixen paused. She sighed.

Vixen: But 19 ships? That is an entire battle group. We are no match for that.

Vixen turned to her helm officer.

Vixen: Helm...reverse course. Get us the hell out of here NOW! Turn us around.

Black 6 sighed. As much as he wanted to fight, he knew that they were heavily outgunned and outmatched.

Vixen: We will have to come back with more ships Tye. I know of a few other Insurrectionist Captains out there that I may be able to convince to help us.

Black 6 nodded.

Black 6: We are defiantly going to need the help.

Just as Black 6 said this, the sensor officer turned around in a panic.

Sensor Officer: Ma'am...we have 7 distinct Slipspace ruptures opening off our aft! There are ships emerging.

A look of panic shot across Vixen's face.

Vixen: What!?

Vixen and Black 6 exchanged looks.

Black 6: This was either a damn perfect coincidence...or it was expected.

Vixen: Alter course...get us away from those ships! Take us on a heading of 183 by 229. Engage at full speed. Get us out of this pincer!

The Hades Eclipse broke off, and began to move away from the ships that were approaching from the front and the aft. However, The Trust ships began to spread out, slowly cutting down angles of escape.

Sensor Officer: Ma'am...those ships are continuing to close in on our position. They are almost in weapon's range.

Vixen: Keep us moving. Dump our reserve power into the engines. Blue shift the engines if you have to.

Vixen turned, as she walked to the rear of the bridge. Black 6 followed behind her. Vixen approached the holotable, as she called up the sensor readout. She watched, in real time, as her ship was slowly encompassed by The Trust ships. Black 6 approached the holotable, as he looked at the holotable.

Black 6: We are in trouble.

Vixen: Yeah...we are.

Vixen looked at all of the ships that had her surrounded. Most of them were frigates. There were also three Halcyon class cruisers, two Marathon class cruisers, and a Phoenix class ship that had clearly been outfitted for combat, in the very same way that the Hades Eclipse had been.

Black 6: We are really outgunned.

Vixen: No...I think we are fucked.

Black 6 sighed.

Black 6: Perhaps not.

Black 6 paused.

Black 6: I think there is a way out of this.

Black 6 paused. He pointed to a group of ships that consisted entirely of Frigates.

Black 6: A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. This group of Frigates approaching from the port bow would be an ideal place to plow through. We could make a run if we go through there. However...the one weakness with that plan is the fact that if we come about and charge that position, The Trust may just start shooting.

Vixen: What do you suggest?

Black 6 turned around and looked at the helm officer.

Black 6: Helm...full stop! Cut the engines on the port quarter first, and allow the starboard quarer engines to fire at full for approximately 7 seconds before cutting them as well. That should power slide us into perfect position

The helm officer turned around and looked at Black 6.

Helm Officer: What!? Are you insane?

Black 6: No! Full stop! Now!

Vixen: Do it!

Helm Officer: Alright...

The helm officer did as he was instrcuted. As he did, Vixen looked at Black 6.

Vixen: Why did you cut the port quarter engines first?

Black 6: Like I said...power slide us right into take those Frigates head on. We do NOT want to waste time turning this ship. That is just a few more seconds of being shot at. I prefer to minimize such things.

Vixen: Good call.

Comms Officer: Ma'am...we are being hailed by one of the lead ships. It is The Ulterior Motive.

Black 6 looked at Vixen.

Vixen: It's him...

Black 6 paused. His heart rate jumped. He began to breath much more heavily. For reasons he could not explain, at this very moment, now that he was about to come face to face with Spender,, he felt troubled and anxious.

Vixen: Are you alright Tye?

Black 6: Yeah...I will be.

Comm Officer: Do we answer it?

Vixen nodded.

Vixen: Patch it through on the main display.

Vixen walked towards the largest screen on the bridge. She watched as the screen flickered. She then took a step back in revulsion as she saw her father appear on the screen.

Spender: Hello Kathryn...

Spender paused.

Spender: I did NOT expect to see you here.

Spender's focus chaged, as he noticed Black 6 in the background.

Spender: And I certainly did not expect to see him...

Spender paused.

Spender: Black are alive? This is an interesting development. What are you doing on that ship?

Black 6 stepped forward.

Black 6: Looking for I can turn my size 12 sideways and put it right up your ass.

Spender: have become quite insubordinate.

You mean, I have managed to regain my sense of self. You were controlling you are no doubt controlling the rest of Black Team.

Spender: They have been improved.

Black 6: Fuck your improvements. They are being controlled.

Spender: Tomayto-Tomahto

Black 6: You don't you? You don't care that you have robbed those men of their lives. All you care about is you ability to enforce your will.

Spender: I do what I must in service to mankind. If you have seen what I have seen...and you knew what I would stand on your supposed righteous high ground and denounce what I have done.

Black 6: I don't care about what you have, and have not seen or what you may or may not know. Nothing can justify what you have done to me.

Spender: Black 6...I am not interested in debating this with you. The fact of the matter is...there are things bigger than both of us. There will come a day when we will look back on this petty rivalry...and think about how stupid it was.

Spender paused.

Spender: The only reason I have not destroyed that ship is because it is my hope that you would come back to us...and do what you were created to do.

Spender looked at Vixen.

Spender: It is also my hope that the two of us can bury the hatchet...and put everything behind us.

Vixen frowned, as she turned away.

Spender: Don't turn away from me Kathryn. Look at me.

Vixen kept her back to the large screen.

Spender: Kathryn...

Vixen turned around, and glared at Spender.

Vixen: I am going to fucking kill you. In no uncertain terms...I will never put ANYTHING you did to me, behind me. I hate you. I hate you with every fiber of my being. You took away my life. You framed me for the murder of my own mother. You gunned her down without remorse RIGHT in front of me. You have hunted me down non-stop since then. You are an affront to everything I believe you. You insult the memory of my mother every time you draw breath.

Vixen clenched her fists.

Vixen: You are an evil...EVIL bastard. I am disgusting by the fact that you are my father. That very knowledge is revolting. You are revolting.

Spender frowned.

Black 6 began to laugh.

Black 6: are an evil bastard. You think there is a justification for everything. You think you can get away with the most heinous of crimes because it is for the greater good.

Black 6 paused.

Black 6: There is NOTHING you could every say or do which would EVER convince me to work with you again. Nothing...I repeat...NOTHING will ever make me so desperate to EVER work with you again.

Spender sighed, as he shook his head.

Spender: It saddens me to hear this...from both of you. But...if that is how it is going to be...then that is how it will be. I cannot change that.

Spender looked to the side, as he nodded.

After a moment, the weapon's officer on The Hades Eclipse began to speak.

Tactical Officer: Ma'am...we have multiple ships locking onto our position. They are locking weapons.

Spender grinned.

Spender: I guess this is how it ends Kathryn; dying in a godless inferno.

Spender grinned.

Spender: I can destroy you whenever I want. All I have to do is nod, and I can turn your ship into a burning derelict and there is nothing you can do to survive it.

Spender paused. He reached into his jack and pulled out a cigarette. He then proceeded to light the cigarette. Spender took a drag of the cigarette, and then continued speaking.

Spender: I didn't want it to end this way. I wanted to reconcile. is clear that BOTH of you are set in your ways. There is no reasoning with either of you. I see no alternative. This is now a foregone conclusion.

Spender paused.

Spender: Die well...

The channel closed, and the large screen went blank.

Black 6 and Vixen looked at each other, but before either of them could say anything, they heard the sensor officer speak up.

Sensor Officer: Ma'am...we God...

Vixen looked over at the sensor officer.

Vixen: What is it?

Sensor Officer: We are...about to be hit...from all angles.

Vixen scoffed.

Vixen: All hands...this is the bridge. Clear the outer decks, and prepare for wide scale breaches.

Vixen paused.

Vixen: Helm...get us moving! Charge those frigates.

Vixen looked at the tactical officer.

Vixen: All at first available targets. Keep firing and don't stop!

Just as Vixen said this, she stumbled, as the ship began to get hit by a barrage of Archer missiles from every direction. Black 6 was able to catch Vixen before she fell to the ground, but even he had a hard time staying on his feet as the ship was hit non-stop.

Black 6: They are shooting us from every angle. There is just too many of them in order to put up a fight.

Vixen nodded, but she was not prepared to admit defeat yet.

Vixen: We will think of something...

The Hades Eclipse was under constant fire from all of the converging Trust ships. Despite this, Ths Hades Eclipse continued to charge a group of Frigates at full speed, in order to escape being surrounded.

Black 6: Vixen...we are in optimum firing range of those Frigates. We should turn our weapons on them.

Vixen: Agreed! Bring all weapons to bear on the Frigates dead ahead. Open fire...all weappons!

The Hades Eclipse turned all of its deck cannons and locked on to the group of Frigates with a full barrage of Archer missiles. The Hades Eclipse began to unleash its weapons on the Frigates, doing significant damage to the smaller ships in the first barrage, crippling all six Frigates, and giving a clear way out of the pincer.

Sensor Officer: Ma'am...we have an opening! We have caused severe damage to all of those Frigates.

Vixen: Good work!

Black 6: We should keep firing. The more of these ships we destroy...the more damage we can do to The Trust. At this point...the more of these bastards we kill...the better.

Black 6 turned to the weapons officer.

Black 6: Keep firing! Destroy those Frigates!

The tactical officer did as he was instructed and he continued firing every available weapon at the group of Frigates. With each barrage from The Hades Eclipse, the Frigates sustained more and more damage, until each ship began to explode, one after the other, each ship blowing up in a cascading fashion.

Sensor Officer: Frigates have been destroyed.

Black 6 slammed his hand on the holotable, as he cheered.

Black 6: Hell yeah! That's what I am talking about!

Sensor Officer: However...hostile ships are still in pursuit and they are still in weapon's range!

Vixen looked at Black 6.

Vixen: Tye...we have our chance to escape. We should defiantly take it!

Black 6 nodded in agreement.

Black 6: Agreed. We should fall back and think of a new plan...perhaps come back with more ships if possible.

Vixen nodded in agreement.

Vixen: Helm...get us the hell out of!

However, just as Vixen had given this order, The Hades Eclipse was hit by a massive barrage of Archer Missiles. The ship rocked violently, as the lights on the bridge began to blow out from the power surges across the ship. Vixen and Black 6 were tossed across the bridge, as they both hit the ground violently.

Vixen and Black 6 climbed back to their feet, as they both looked around.

Vixen: Status report!?

Vixen didn't get an answer. She looked over to the operations officer, and saw that he was motionless on the ground. She could see that there was a fire next to his workstation, and the workstation had exploded.

Vixen: Someone get me a status report!

Black 6 stumbled over to an auxiliary workstation, and initiated the display. He accessed the operations console, and began to get a feed.

Black 6: We have sustained wide scale breaches. Three of our engines have failed, and we have lost power to the slispace core.

Vixen: Helm! Evasive pattern Bravo! We have to shake these bastards off our six! Bring us to port broadside, and fire all ventral and dorsal weapons.

The helm officer nodded, as the ship began to turn. The tactical officer managed to tget a lock on the closest pursuing vessels, and he began to fire the large deck guns.

Tactical officer: Archer missile pods are primed and set to fire!

Vixen: Fire at will!

As Vixen gave this order, the ship shook violently again, loud explosions could be heard in the corrdiros outside the bridge, as power relays began to blow out from the power surges.

Black 6: Vixen...we are taking a fucking beating! We cannot last like this!

Vixen: I know! However...with our engines half shot...we are not going to outrun anyone. With the slispapce core offline...we cannot even jump!

Vixen paused.

Vixen: Our options are limited.

Sensor Officer: Ma'am...enemy ships are closing in on our position. They are gaining on us. They are closing from all sides again. They are trying to encircle us.

The ship rocked violently again as the hull of the Hades Eclipse too more hits to its outer hull.

Black 6: Our hull integrity is failing...and we are losing power to all of our weapon systems. We are bleeding out...and we are falling apart!

Vixen sigheddd... She looked around her burned out bridge. She saw that the bridge as slowly catching fire. The Hades Eclipse then shook violently once more. As this happened, the bulkheads in the roof began to fall down. One large bulkhead had fallen and crushed the holotable underneath.

Black 6: We have multiple hull breaches on the super structure. Our hull is starting to fall apart...

Vixen had no idea how to respond. The pace at which things were happening began to overwhelm her. Part of her was unwilling to accept what was happening.

Black 6: Vixen!

Vixen looked at Black 6. She shook her head.

Black 6 saw this, and he knew that he now had to act in her stead. Black 6 walked over to the sensor officer, and glared at him.

Black 6: Begin scanning the surface of the planet. Fine us a suitable place to land.

Black 6 looked at the sensor officer, who was unsure if he should do as Black 6 instructed.

Black 6: Do it! Stop wasting time!

When Black 6 said this, the sensor officer jumped in his seat, and he got to work.

Sensor Officer: There are a few good regions on this planet which would allow us to hide. I am detecting a vast mountain range which spans an entire continent, and I am detecting what looks like multiple cavernous systems.

Black 6: The Trust is defending this planet. There has to be SOMETHING down there they are protecting. Keep scanning.

The ship shook violently once more as it was once again hit by another volley. Black 6 turned his head, and shouted across the bridge at the tactical officer.

Black 6: Continue firing on all hostile ships! Target any ship that is attempting to cut us off from the planet.

Black 6 then looked back at the sensor officer.

Black 6: Anything?

Sensor Officer: Actually...yeah. I have detected a very large group of structures on the surface of the planet. We are not directly overhead that position...but we will be very shortly.

Black 6: Get me two sets of coordinates - The first set I want to be exactly 6 miles from those structures. The second set...I want right on top of those structures. Transmit the first set of coordinates to all of our Pelicans, drop ships, and escape pods.

Sensor Officer: What about the second set?

Black 6: Transfer it to the helm...and to all of the Trust ships.

The Sensor Officer's jaw dropped.

Sensor Officer: Why are we giving the coordinates to those ships out there?

Black 6: To make this ship a real threat. I plan on using this ship to draw fire away from our escape pods. Once those ships out there see this ship aiming for those structures...shooting Pelicans and escapes pods will not matter...allowing us to maximize survivors.

Black 6 then turned away. He walked over to the comms station, as he accessed the shipwide comm system.

Black 6: All hands...this is the bridge. Abandon ship. Repeat...abandon ship! Launch all escape pods and Pelicans as soon as they are filled. Proceed to predefined coordinates located in all nav computers. This battle is not over yet.

As soon as Black 6 had said this, an alarm began to sound throughout the ship, which signaled to every person on-board The Hades Eclipse to abandon ship.

Vixen watched as Black 6 had taken command. She approached him and grabbed him by the shoulder.

Vixen: Tye...what are you doing?

Black 6: Giving us a fighting chance! I don't plan on letting it end like this.

Black 6 turned to everyone on the bridge. he began to shout.

Black 6: All of you...grab as many weapons as you can carry...and proceed to the escape pods!!

The bridge crew wasted no time in getting up from their seats, and evacuating the bridge. Black 6, on the other hand, walked to the front of the bridge and sat down at the helm station.

Vixen: Tye...what are you doing?

Black 6: I am going to get this ship into position.

Black 6 turned his head and looked at Vixen.

Black 6: Vixen...go with the crew. Get these people to the surface. They are going to need a leader down there to help them survive. You are that leader.

Black 6 paused.

Black 6: Get to a pelican. If you can...wait as long as you can for me. However, don't wait any longer than what would otherwise be safe.

Vixen was hesitant at first.

Black 6: GO!

The sternness of Black 6's voice made Vixen jump, as she began to back up.

Vixen: You better be right behind me...

Vixen took a few more steps back, before she turned and ran off the bridge. Black 6 turned his head, and faced the helm control. He sighed, as he spoke to himself.

Black 6: We will see...

UNSC Marathon Class - The Ulterior Motive - Main Bridge - Currently in the APX-449 Star System - Center of Trust Activity known as The Apex - 1630 Hours - July 30th 2515

Spender was on the bridge of The Ulterior Motive. He watched as The Hades Eclipse had started to veer towards the planet. Spender stood up from his chair, as he glared at the large screen at the front of the bridge.

Spender: What the hell are they doing? Someone...track their trajectory.

One of the sensor officers spoke up.

Sensor Officer: No need to seems that those Insurrectionists are broadcasting their intentions to us. That ship is on a direct intercept course for the spire. They are going to ram that ship into the facility on the planet's surface!

Spender's face went pale as he imaged how much damage could be done by a ship, the size of a Phoenix class vessel, crashing into the surface of the planet.

Spender: My God...

Spender paused.

Spender: Hail that vessel...priority one!

Comm Officer: Yes open!

Spender cleared his throat before talking.

Spender: Kathryn...what the hell do you think you are doing? What do you hope to accomplish!? Would you really kill you entire crew and sacrifice your ship...just to die in a blaze of glory?

Spender waited a moment. He then saw the large display on his bridge switch to a video feed. Spender could see Black 6 on the video feed. The feed was heavily distorted, and grainy, as if the communication systems on The Hades Eclipse had been damaged.

Black 6: Your daughter isn't here at the moment old boy.

Spender: Black 6!? What are you doing?

Black 6: What am I doing? Isn't it obvious? I plan on ramming this ship so far up the ass of The Trust, your entire organization is going to collectively taste it!

Spender scoffed.

Spender: Alter your course...NOW!

Black 6: or what? Are you going to open fire on my ship? Go ahead you bastard...hit me with everything you have!

Spender scoffed again. He groaned in anger, as he grit his teeth.

Black 6: What is the matter Constantine? This is what you wanted me to be...right? I am only doing what I was trained to do!

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Spender: This is far more reckless than you were trained to be.

Black 6 laughed.

Black 6: is it? Are you sure?

Spender: You are going to kill a lot of people down there Black 6. Does that not mean anything to you?

Black 6: I thought that is what you wanted from me!? You trained me to be the perfect killer! Isn't that why I ran the simulations? Isn't that why you pumped drugs into my veins to augment me and change me? Isn't that why you manipulated me and lied to me? This is ALL the culmination of your work Spender...and guess what? You are going to be right here to collect the final results!

Spender: When that ship will be killed! Is that what you want?

Black 6: I know I will be killed. It is not what I want...but a lot of things have happened to me that I didn't want. I may be killed in the subsequent crash...but so will all of your cronies on the planet's surface! I may die...but I am going to take a LOT of The Trust with me.

Black 6 began to laugh.

Black 6: I never thought it would end like this...but...all things is the best I can get.

Spender clenched his fists.

Spender looked at his tactical officer, and gave a swift nod. The tactical officer nodded back, and began to lock weapons on The Hades Eclipse.

Spender: Black 6...I am ordering you to bring that ship about and alter your heading! I am giving you a direct order as your superior officer!

Black 6 laughed.

Black 6: You must have some really giant cajones to say that.

Black 6 paused.

Black 6: I don't take orders from you anymore.

Spender scoffed once again. However, before he could rebuttle, his sensor officer spoke up.

Sensor Officer: Sir...The Hades Eclipse seems to be launching escape pods and Pelicans to the surface of the planet.

Spender let a look of shock shoot across his face.

Spender: Begin targeting those escape pods. Do NOT let them land on the surface of the planet.

Black 6 then interjected.

Black 6: Go ahead and target those escape pods Spender. GO ahead and focus all of you attention on those small, helpless pods. Picking off defenseless people is what you are good at...right?

Black 6 had a very snarky tone.

Black 6: Every second you waste on those a second I am using to slam this ship right into your base of operations. Take your pick the escape pods. You can get one...but not both!

Spender was furious. He despised having terms dictated to him like this.

Spender: You song of a DARE you give ME an ultimatum.

Black 6 began to laugh.

Black 6: Sorry Spender...I think I am losing this channel.

Black 6 cut the comm line, ending the conversation.

Spender was utterly furious at what just transpired.

Spender: Re-assess targeting parameters. Coordinate fire with the rest of the fleet. Target the Hades Eclipse and destroy that ship!

Tactical officer: Sir...what about the escape pods?

Spender: We will deal with those later. Focus on The Hades Eclipse! We cannot allow that ship to destroy the spire!

The signal was sent to all Trust ships, ordering all ships to target and destroy The Hades Eclipse.

Sensor Officer: Sir...we have a problem...

Spender: What is it?

Sensor Officer: The Hades Eclipse is building up speed. They are moving out of firing range. It seems the ship is caught in the gravity well of the planet, and the ship is using this as a type of slingshot effect to gain constant acceleration. Base on current projections...The Hades Eclipse will be out of firing range in 2 minutes.

Spender: Get all of our ships to begin firing! Use all necessary force to stop that ship! Hit it with EVERYTHING we have!

Spender walked towards the front of the bridge, as he looked out the window at the front of the bridge. His hands were behind his back. Spender was very obviously annoyed and enraged by the current situation. He could not believe that all of the effort he had put into Black 6 managed to backfire so horribly and go so completely wrong. After a moment, Spender turned and walked to the back of the bridge and stood in front of the holotable. He watched as the Trust Fleet moved into firing position. Spender could only hope that he would be able to destroy The Hades Eclipse before it managed to enter the atmosphere.

Sensor Officer: Sir...our ships are reporting difficulty getting a solid lock on that Insurrectionist ship. It seems the interference caused by that ship skimming the atmosphere is causing problems for some of the sensor redundancy checks - in effect - causing false readings which is breaking the weapons lock.

Spender: Order all ships to begin overriding redundancy checks in the scanners...and switch to manual targeting if need be!

Spender looked back at the holotable. He glared at the holographic recreation of The Hades Eclipse.

Spender: You cleaver son of a bitch. We trained you all too well.

Spender sighed. He knew that no matter what...there needed to be planned response to The Insurrectionists on the surface of the planet. Spender knew that his best choice was to get ODST Black Team deployed to the surface.

Spender tapped his earpiece and contacted ODST Black Team via the comm system.

Spender: Black Team...this is Spender. I want you five to report to hanger bay 3 and meet me there, on the double! You are being deployed to the surface.

UNSC Phoenix Class - The Hades Eclipse - Main Bridge - Currently in the APX-449 Star System - Center of Trust Activity known as The Apex - 1640 Hours - July 30th 2515

As The Hades Eclipse began to veer downwards, into the atmosphere of the planet, on a direct course for the CIC, Black 6 knew that he did not have much time to evacuate from the ship. He had cut his escape very close in order to ensure that Vixen and her Insurrectionists had escaped the ship. Black 6 had given as much time as he could have, and there was nothing more he could do. With this realization, Black 6 got up from his seat and ran off the bridge.

Black 6: I have to get off this ship. I don't have much time!

As Black 6 ran through the corridors, dodging burning wreckage and collapsed bulkheads, he knew that his only chance to escape was to make it to hanger bay 2 where there was still a single Pelican remaining.

With each second that passed, the ship began to get hotter and hotter and it began to shake more and more as it began its shallow descent trajectory into the atmosphere. The ship was literally falling apart at the seams as chunks of the hull plating were ripped from the superstructure. Larger and larger sections of the outer decks were becoming fully exposed as the ship began to disintegrate under all the stress. Thankfully, Black 6 was able to move through the inner decks and avoid any serious danger.

As Black 6 approached hanger bay 2, he began to notice the walls around him beginning to collapse. Black 6 could feel the floor below his feet start to buckle as he moved. When Black 6 reached the door to the hanger bay, he saw that the corridor in front of the door had all but totally collapsed. By this time the ship began to violently shake as it got further and further into the atmosphere. Black 6 had no choice but to crawl through the debris and fallen bulkheads in order to reach the door. Black 6 quickly crawled through the debris and the bulkheads, not wanting to get trapped underneath in the event of a collapse.

Black 6 eventually made it through to the hanger bay, having only seconds to spare before all of the debris and bulkheads collapsed, making any kind of backtracking impossible. As Black 6 got to his feet, he saw the final Pelican, alone and unattended, at the far side of the hanger bay. However, as Black 6 began to move towards the Pelican, the artificial gravity systems began to fail. Black 6 found himself sliding to one side, as it became obvious that the ship was no longer level, and without the artificial gravity systems to keep things level, getting to the Pelican would prove to be very difficult. However Black 6 remembered that his BDU had been rated for EVA, and that his boots were equipped with magnetic locks. Black 6 used his HUD to activate the maglocks in his boots, which game him the traction he needed to get to the Pelican.

Despite the help of the maglocks, Black 6 knew that the ship was tipping more and more, as he had to dodge the occasional sliding box. Black 6 could see that the Pelican had its docking clamps engaged, so he did not worry about the Pelican sliding out of place, but he was concerned about actually having to momentarily disengage the docking clamps to actually fly out of the hanger.

As Black 6 got close to the Pelican, he reached out and grabbed a seatbelt that was hanging out the back due to the angle. As Black 6 grabbed it, he began to pull himself upwards into the Pelican. Black 6 continue to grab whatever he could get his hands on in order to give himself more leverage and traction as he moved towards the cockpit.

Black 6 eventually managed to climb up to the cockpit and reach the pilot's seat. As Black 6 situated himself in the pilot's seat, he strapped himself into the seat, and began the pre-flight sequence and sealed the rear hatch. The shaking of The Hades Eclipse had re. As the pre-flight checks came back green, Black 6 began to engage the thrusters and the flight systems. He cranked the thrusters up to max, as he issued the command to arm the on-board missiles that were mounted under the wings. Black 6 targeted the hanger bay door, and fired off the full payload of missiles, blowing the hanger bay door to pieces, and providing him a means of escape. Black 6 then issued the command to release the docking clamps. As soon as the clamps had released, the Pelican began to slide backwards, but the thrust from the engines managed to quickly counter-act the fall, as the Pelican began to more forward, flying right towards the exit to the hanger bay, and right out of the ship.

As the pelican flew out of the hanger bay, it flew through a thick wall of black smoke that was being created by The Hades Eclipse burning up on its approach as well as the damage from the ship. However, the Pelican quickly emerged from the smoke, and Black 6 could see that he was in the atmosphere. He quickly corrected his heading, as he brought the Pelican about and made it level. As the Pelican leveled out, Black 6 could see that he was very close to the ground.

As Black 6 brought the Pelican about, and turned it around, he saw the final moments of The Hades Eclipse, as it flew towards a very large spire-like building in the not to far-off distance. Black 6 watched as The Hades Eclipse smashed right through the mid-section of the spire, destroying the entire upper half of the building, plowing right through, like an unstoppable juggernaut. Upon collision, the upper portion of the spire literally exploded, with debris from both the spire and The Hades Eclipse going in every direction. Some of the debris fell downwards, while some it flew outwards, spanning a very large area.

Black 6 continued to watch as The Hades Eclipse plowed into the ground not long after. The large ship smashed into the ground, almost totally falling apart upon impact. What was left of the ship slid on the ground, leaving a massive trail of destruction in its wake. Massive chunks of the ship flew off in every direction, until it had totally fallen apart into nothing more than a pile of burning scrap and debris.

Black 6: Well...that is certainly one way to make an entrance.

Black 6 began to adjust his heading once more, as he brought the Pelican about, and began to head towards the pre-define rendezvous coordinates. Black 6 pushed the Thruster's up to max, as he sped through the skies, eventually reaching the rendezvous point in only a matter of minutes. Black 6 could see that there were several Pelicans and multiple escape pods all over the area. Upon even closer inspection, he could see that quite a number of Insurrectionists had survived, and, for the most part, looked well enough to walk, at the very least.

Black 6 slowed his Pelican down, as he slowly began to descend. Black 6 landed his Pelican in a clearing and disengaged the engines. Black 6 opened the rear hatch, and unstrapped himself from the pilot's seat. As he stood up, and walked out of the cockpit, heading toward the rear compartment to disembark, he could see Vixen running towards his Pelican. As Black 6 stepped off the Pelican, he look at Vixen running towards him, and began to laugh.

Black 6: You didn't honestly think I was going to go down with The Hades Eclipse...did you?

Vixen scoffed as she approached Black 6, as she punched Black 6 in the arm.

Vixen: asshole. I thought...I thought you were going to...

Black 6 interrupted.

Black 6: Die?

Vixen nodded.

Black 6: Vixen...I was trained to kill...not to die. I can't believe you doubted me...even for a second. Even when the odds are stacked against me...I am trained to beat them.

Black 6 paused.

Black 6: I am not sure about the rest of you...but I am eager to continue the fight. We should get our boots on the line and get moving. Based on the distance we have to go, and the rate at which it is getting dark, the sooner we leave, the more night time we will have to recon, plan, and attack.

Vixen nodded in agreement.

Vixen: Agreed. The sooner we go...the better.

Black 6: Just give the order Vixen.

Vixen shook her head.

Vixen: No give the order. If I have realized one thing, it is that when shit really hits the are the guy that should be in charge. Back on The Hades knew exactly what to do when everything looked its worst. You shook off the fear, the terror, and the stress...and you took control. Between you and are the better choice to lead us. The only way any of us are going to survive this is if you are calling the shots. That much is clear to me.

Black 6 looked at Vixen and gave her a firm nod.

Black 6: Very well. If you think that would be best...then you can count on me.

Vixen: It IS for the best Tye. Your natural inclination is to lead. I see it in you, and I am sure that you know it yourself. You ARE a leader...and right now...we need a leader. We need someone to keep us alive. You are the only person here who is qualified to do that.

Black 6 looked around him. He could see dozens upon dozens of other Insurrections, each of the either checking their weapons, gearing up, or waiting for orders. Not a single one of them was concerned about Black 6 taking charge. There was not a single objection.

Black 6 then looked into the far off distance. He could still see the bellowing smoke from the damage that The Hades Eclipse had caused from its impact. Like a giant flare, the black smoke in the sky marked the location of the next battle.

Black 6 then turned to look back at Vixen.

Black 6: It will not be easy...but I will do everything I can to get us out of here alive.

Black 6 paused.

Black 6: With that said...Do you see that huge bellow of smoke in the distance? That is also where we have to go. Underneath all that whatever is left of a Trust installation. That is where we are going. If we get lucky...we may be able to cripple The Trust even further and find a ship to escape this planet in.

Black 6 paused.

Black 6: Our survival depends on being able to get to that facility and possibly locate a ship. If there is even the slightest chance we can find a ship there...we have to take it.

Vixen was very uneasy. She looked at all of the smoke and defiantly showed some concern.

Vixen: Getting through all that smoke and debris is going to be tough. It will be very difficult to breath in all of that. That could be very dangerous.

Black 6: I realize that...but we have no choice. It is now do or die. This is a perfect opportunity to converge on that area. The Trust are in total disarray. If we don't act now...we lose a golden opportunity.

Black 6 paused again.

Black 6: Let's get our boots on the line. We have a bit of a walk ahead of us. Let's move out!

Black 6 waved his hand forwards. All of the Insurrectionists began to move forward. Black 6 led the group of Insurrectionists as they began their trek towards the CIC. Vixen walked at the front of the large group of soldiers alongside Black 6. For most of the journey, there was no discourse or conversation. All in was totally for the typical sounds of equipment rustling as a result of movement.

UNSC Marathon Class - The Ulterior Motive - Hanger Bay 3 - Currently in the APX-449 Star System - Center of Trust Activity known as The Apex - 1715 Hours - July 30th 2515

ODST Black Team had gathered in Hanger Bay 3, as per orders from Admiral Spender. Each of the men simply waited for Spender to arrive. When Spender did arrive, he stormed into Hanger Bay 3. He was walking quickly, and with much conviction. It was clear from his body language that he was in a very bad mood at the moment. Black Team saw that Spender was carrying a Shotgun in his left hand, and an M6G Magnum in the other. Black Team was surprised to see this, as they were not accustom to this sort of response from Spender.

Spender: ODST Black Team...I have bad news.

Black 1: Bad news?

Spender: Black 6 is alive...and he has turned coat. He has joined The Insurrection. He has assisted The Insurrection in mounting this...all out assault.

Black 5: Why would he do this? Why would he betray us?

Spender: I am unsure. does not matter. He is a traitor and he must be dealt with like such.

Black 2: Surely...there must be another way to handle this?

Spender scoffed.

Spender: There is NO other way! Black 6 must DIE! He MUST be eliminated! He is a traitor! He has turned coat! He has betrayed EVERYTHING we stand for! He has betrayed his uniform! He has betrayed Humanity!

Black Team was shocked to hear this sort of attitude from Spender. They had nenver seen him this disturbed before. However, they knew that orders were orders, and if their orders involved killing Black 6...then it had to be done.

Black 1: If Black 6 has gone rouge...and he needs to die...then he will die by our hands. Rest assured sir...Black 6 will die.

Spender: Be sure that he does die! Black 6 is your only priority!

Black 3: What about the other Insurrectionists? We can easily kill them off.

Spender: I don't care about them. They can be easily taken care of by deploying a platoon of Marines. Hell...even I could take care of them if need be. They are no threat.

Black 4: What about The Insurrectionist leader? Vixen? She has proven resourceful.

Spender was silent for a moment, as he considered his options.

Spender: daughter.

Spender paused.

Spender: I will deal with her personally at some point. She is my responsibility and mine alone. She is one of my loose ends...and I will deal with it. However, given the circumstances...I have my list of priorities...and she is not at the top.

Black 1: SIr?

Spender: Black Team...let me be clear; your assignment is to locate and eliminate Black 6. My objective is to secure The HEURISTICS Facility.

Spender paused.

Spender: You five are going down there...and I am coming with you. I will personally be taking charge of the defense of The Apex. It is time we finish this...once and for all. Our time is limited enough as it is. We cannot waste any more of it on situations like THIS. This ends today...all of it! Either we survive or they do. Is this clear?

Black 1: Crystal clear, sir.

Spender: Good. The other ships in orbit have already started their defense response, and are deploying soldiers to the surface as we speak. The situation down there is very ugly. Visibility has been reduced to near zero, and there is significant damage to the surrounding area. Reports indicate that everything above the 44th floor of the spire has been totally destroyed, and many of the surrounding structures have either been destroyed by falling debris, or severely damaged. However, there is no indication that the subterranean network of tunnels and facilities has been compromised. The rest of The Trust will work on securing the surface. If I know Vixen...and if I know Black 6...they are going in there to cause more damage. We must deny them access to the subterranean facilities. The odds of them locating the entry point to the subterranean facilities is slim...but I choose not to underestimate them. Are there any questions?

Black 2: What do you mean by subterranean facilities? Are you saying that there is a base UNDER the base?

Spender: No exactly. You see, despite the size of The Spire, there is also a sizeable subterranean portion of the facility where our most secured facilities are located. Our R&D, Intel, and even our best people are typically housed in the subterranean portion, while low-level operations are carried out in the spire. We also house the data center deep underground, along with the main reactors that power all of our facilities in this area. In the most basic terms...the subterranean facilities are more secured to ensure that delicate operations go case something like this happened.

Black 1: Is there anyone that needs to be extracted?

Spender: Anyone who is of significant importance to the leadership of The Trust was in orbit at the time. Myself, Hoffman, a few dozen field operatives, skilled R&D...that sort of thing. Anyone still on the surface at the moment can be replaced. As for extractions...we are not going down there to save people. We are going down there to stop Black 6 and Vixen. The rest of the Trust can worry about securing the area and evacuating people. My concern...our Black 6 and Vixen. Nothing else matters. We must pull all the stops to ensure they die.

Spender paused.

Spender: I cannot emphasize this fact enough. If we do not stop those two...they could do considerably more harm to The Trust than they already have.

Spender paused once more. As he did, he holstered his Magnum, and hefted the shotgun he was carrying.

Spender: We have a job to do Black Team. Let's get to it!

Black Team nodded, as they followed Spender to a waiting Pelican. The six men boarded the Pelican and situated themselves, as they prepared to hit the surface.

The Apex - Planet's Surface - Outer Perimeter - 1730 Hours - July 30th 2515

As Black 6, Vixen, and The Insurrectionists moved closer, the scope of the damage started to become quite clear. The thick black smoke in the air had all but obstructed visibility. The entire area had been shrouded and it became quite clear that there was no way The Trust would have been able to spot any kind of approach or offensive. Despite the thick smoke in the air, it was possible to see piles of flaming debris scattered all around.

Black 6: There is no way we would have been able to do any kind of useful recon in all of this. This smoke is thicker than I thought. On the flip side...I doubt The Trust even sees us coming. With all this smoke...we are all pretty much blind. We can turn that to our advantage,

Vixen: We need to get out of here...

Vixen began to cough, along with multiple other Insurrectionists.

Vixen: The is too much.

Vixen started to cough again.

Vixen: Your helmet must be filtering this crap...but we are exposed. We need to get out of this. We need to find SOME sort of shelter.

Black 6: Very well...let's pick up the pace! Keep moving! We may be able to find some degree of cover or shelter once we reach that facility.

Black 6 broke out into a full sprint, as he led everyone deeper into the thick smoke cloud. Vixen and the other Insurrectionists also began to sprint behind Black 6.

Black 6: Stay close...stay together. We do not want to get separated in this!

Black 6 activated his VISR in order to help him cut through the visibility obstruction caused by the smoke. As his VISR activated, he began to see outlines of hostile targets, vehicles, structures, and even inert debris. Black 6 could now see much more than anyone else on the field. Multiple red outlines began to appear on his VISR, indicating hostile contacts. As Black 6 ran forward, he reached to his side and drew one of his automags. As he ran, he took aim with his automag, taking aim at the closest red outlines that were showing up on his VISR. Black 6 began to fire, pulling off headshots, one after the other, as he cleared his direct path of hostiles.

As Black 6's clip ran dry, he stopped, and took cover behind a pile of debris. Black 6 began to quickly reload his weapon. Once he had reloaded his weapon, he switched to an open comm line and spoke to the Insurrectionists that were with him.

Black 6: Black 6 to all points...we have just hit the perimeter of the installation we were looking for. We are going to head towards what is left of that spire in the center of this installation. Do your best to check your corners around the other buildings. Stay close and keep together.

Black 6 readied his automag once more, as he leaped out from cover, and began to move forward once more. It was clear that The Trust was very disorganized at the moment, simply due to the amount of damage in the area. Black 6 was able to pick off isolated soldiers with relative ease, and avoid detection by using his suppressed weapons.

As Black 6 continued to move forward, he could see that he was getting close to the large spire that was at the center of the large facility. As he got even could start making out the words on a large sign in front of the building, that was still largely intact.

Black 6: The HEURISTICS Facility.

Black 6 stopped in his tracks, as he looked around and analyzed the facility. His VISR had detected a door not far from where he was standing, but his VISR also indicated that the entire building was structurally compromised and unsafe for occupancy. However, given the situation, Black 6 had very few options.

Black 6: All points...this is Black 6. Continue to converge on my location. I think I found someplace we need to be.

Black 6 began to walk forward, keeping his automag ready. As Black 6 approached the main doors, he picked up speed, and barged right through the main door into the main lobby of the building. Once Black 6 had barged in, he looked around, and saw nobody in the main lobby. However, the sounds of alarms could be heard going off all through the building, and there were red lights flashing on the wall. If there were people in the lobby at the time of the attack, there wasn't any more.

Black 6 paced around the lobby for a moment, before he heard the door behind him open. Black 6 turned, and saw Vixen, along with several Insurrectionists enter the building.

Vixen: Tye...good find. It seems to be pretty tolerable in here...

Vixen coughed again.

Vixen: What is this place?

As Vixen said this, a dozen more Insurrectionists entered the building.

Black 6: The sign out front said "The HEURISTICS Facility".

Vixen: What the hell kind of name is that?

Black 6: I am not sure...

Black 6 watched as more Insurrections poured into the lobby. They began to space out, and take up position around the large lobby area, covering corners and various vantage points.

Black 6: But this defiantly feels like a Trust facility. The decor is just right.

Black 6 then looked at a screen on the wall. The screen had partially fallen off the wall, and the display was flickering. Every so often, a face would appear on the display. Black 6 recognized what he was seeing.

Black 6: Renegade...

Renegades avatar remained static on the screen, only disappearing when the screen flickered. Vixen had heard what Black 6 had said. She turned to him and had a curious look on her face.

Vixen: What did you say?

Black 6 pointed at the screen.

Black 6: Renegade...that is an AI. The AI's name is Renegade.

Vixen looked at the screen, and frowned. She raised her magnum, and shot the screen, destroying it.

Vixen: I didn't like the way that thing was looking at me.

Black 6 laughed, as he turned to watch as more Insurrectionists entered The HEURISTICS Facility.

Vixen: So Tye...what do we do now? Where do we go from here?

Black 6: It is tough to say. This place is a wreck but we cannot ignore the importance of this place. There has to be something we can use here that would...

Before Black 6 could finish his sentence, he was interrupted by a team of Insurrectionists.

Insurrectionist: Vixen...Tye...come over here. We found something you two may want to see!

Vixen and Black 6 obliged, and they followed the Insurrectionists around the corner. What they saw when they turned the corner was not immediately apparent.

Black 6: What are we looking at?

Insurrectionist: There is a broken down elevator shaft over there. There is no elevator in the shaft...but...based on how much further that elevator shaft goes down...I am guessing it goes down pretty deep. There might be an underground portion to this facility.

Black 6 walked up to the elevator shaft, as he leaned over the edge and looked down. The shaft was dark, but he could see that there was a bottom, and that the elevator shaft did go quite deep.

Black 6: It does look like there is something down there.

Vixen: Seems like a pretty big elevator shaft too. Defiantly intended to carry a few dozen at a time.

Black 6: Do any of the other elevators work?

Insurrectionist: No...they do not. It is not a lockdown problem, and it is not a power issue. Look up.

Black 6 looked up the elevator shaft. He could see what was left of the sky above, as well as all the smoke and the fire bellowing out of the building.

Insurrectionist: The entire upper portion of the building is gone. The elevator cables were snapped when the top portion of the building was destroyed by The Hades Eclipse.

Black 6: That makes sense Well...we can always climb down.

Vixen: Tye...that is a pretty treacherous climb downwards. Surely, there must be another way.

Black 6 shrugged.

Black 6: Not that I know of. I was never briefed on the layout of this structure. I didn't even know it existed before today.

Vixen: There has to be another way.

Vixen looked at the Insurrectionists around her.

Vixen: I want all of you to fan out. Look for anything out of the ordinary.

All of the Insurrectionists nodded, as they began to spread out and search the area. Vixen and Black 6 simply looked at each other.

Vixen: This is turning out to be quite the day. There have been quite a few turn of events.

Vixen began to walk with Black 6. They walked closer to the entrance of the building, back to the reception area.

Black 6: I would imagine it has been stressful for all of you.

Vixen: Somewhat...yeah. This is unlike anything I have ever done. It is quite stressful.

Black 6: For just seems...almost run of the mill. I am sort of used to all of this. If there is one thing I can say for is that I have a much higher stress threshold now.

Black 6 began to pace around Vixen.

Vixen: Lucky you. Not so lucky for the rest of us.

Black 6: still came with a bullshit price tag.

Black 6 stopped in his tracks. He began to look around once more.

Black 6: The Trust builds fancy buildings on far away planets. They have the resources to recruit soldiers and officers to their cause. They have an entire battle group of ships, and they infiltrate our ranks. You would think that would be enough. You would think stripping a man of his decency and his ethics and turning him into a killing machine would be enough.

Vixen: Sometimes there is never enough to satisfy someone.

Black 6 stopped to look at Vixen. He was going to reply, but he stopped himself. Instead, he simply looked over Vixen's right shoulder.

Black 6: Hmmm...

Black 6 walked past Vixen, as he approached a corridor that was only about 15 yards long, before it turned into a dead end. Vixen turned, as she kept her eyes on Black 6.

Black 6: That's odd. What is up with the dead end here? Seems like a strange place to have one.
Vixen: How so? What is wrong with a dead end?

Black 6: I am not sure. It just seems odd. This is the only dead end on this floor, and it just seems out of place. Why would anyone put a corridor with a dead end, and no offices in the reception area?

Black 6 began to walk down the corridor. He approached the wall all the way at the end. He placed his hand on the wall, but did not notice anything out of place or strange.

Black 6: Very odd...

Black 6 looked around the corridor. He did not see much. There was a small table with a potted plant on it about halfway down the corridor, and three wall mounted lights.

Black 6: Why are these lights here? I have not seen these anywhere else.

Vixen looked at the three lights. She then approached the first one in the group, as she placed her hand on it. Her intention was to remove the light, but instead, upon her touch, the light made a tone, as if it was signifying interaction.

Vixen: Whoa...

Black 6: Whoa...indeed.

Black 6 touched the third light in the series, and it made a similar sound, but the tone was a bit off.

Vixen: That is very odd.

Black 6 stepped back. He looked at the three lights for a minute. After some consideration, he shook his head.

Black 6: It can't be...can it?

Vixen: Can't be what?

Black 6: This may sound cliché this the lock to a secret door?

Vixen began to laugh.

Vixen: Very cliché.

Black 6: Yeah? Humor me; hit the lights in order, first, second, third. See what happens.

Vixen shrugged, as she did what she was asked. She walked to each light and tapped each one, one after the other. However, the rate at which she touched them was quite slow. She had waited for the tone to dissipate before hitting the next light.

Vixen: Nothing.

Black 6 shook his head. He was not convinced. Black 6 decided to try. He walked to the first light in the series and took a moment. Black 6 took a deep breath, as he sprinted down the corridor, hitting each light a single time, hitting all three lights in very rapid succession. Once Black 6 had hit the third light, he could hear the sound of a very large lock opening behind the dead-end wall. Once the locks had seemingly disengaged, the wall moved back, and began to open - revealing a staircase leading downwards into a sub-basement which, in comparison to the main lobby, was very metallic and industrial.

Vixen: Bullshit.

Black 6: A harmonic resonance lock. Very smart.

Vixen: What the hell? What just happened?

Black 6: That "door" was sealed by what is called a harmonic resonance lock. The lock on the door only opens up when a very specific harmonic tune is created in close proximity. The harmonic tone, in this case, was all three of those sounds combined.

Vixen: I would NEVER have figured that out. How the hell did you know that?

Black 6: I read it on the ChatterNet

Black 6 shrugged.

Black 6: Does not matter though. Go and round up your Insurrectionists. Let's check out what is going on in the sub basement! I will scout ahead. You get everyone together!

Before Vixen could given any sort of objection, Black 6 had turned and began to sprint down the stairs.

Vixen: Damn it!

Vixen sighed in frustration, as she turned to gather up the rest of the Insurrection.

Black 6, on the other hand, continue down into the sub-basement. After moving down several sets of stairs, which were going downwards in squared fashion, Black 6 found himself in a long corridor. It was noticeably colder in the sub-basement, and it was very quiet. However, Black 6 did notice another screen on the wall. Once again, the screen showed a static image of Renegade.

Black 6: Not you again...

Black 6 looked at the screen, and frowned when he saw the words GET OUT appear on the screen.

Black 6: No...I plan on staying exactly where I am. In fact...I may just snoop around.

Black 6 turned his head a bit when he began to hear footsteps coming down the stairs. It only took a moment for Vixen to appear and show herself, following by multiple Insurrectionists.

Vixen: Way to go on ahead Tye. You could have waited.

Black 6: I could have...but I wanted to make sure it was clear before we lead everyone into an unknown situation. From what I seems clear.

Black 6 paused.

Black 6: I am not sure what is down here...but I am willing to bet that this place can be quite vast.

Vixen: So...what do you suggest?

Black 6: We should split up. We can cover more ground.

Vixen: Is that a wise idea? We have no idea what we are going to find.

Black 6: Splitting up into smaller squads presents us with the ability to cover more ground and do more damage. We can dive and conquer anything down here.

Vixen: Fair enough. Covering ground makes sense. What exactly should we be looking for?

Black 6 shrugged.

Black 6: Anything that looks important. Computer systems. Power supplies. Locations of possible ships. Anything like that. Anything that will possibly help us get off this planet or crippled The Trust. That is what we want.

Vixen nodded.

Vixen: Seems sound enough. Alright...two teams it is. How should we divide this up?

Black 6: No...we should split into multiple smaller teams. I am thinking teams of 4 or 5...tops. Smaller teams can move faster, and we can cover much more ground. It will also allow us to better map out the location of hostiles and points of interest.

Vixen thought about it, and eventually nodded in agreement. She turned to the Insurrectionists

Vixen: Alright...listen up everyone. We are going to be splitting up into smaller teams. Squad leaders...get your teams organized and fan out. I want regular check-ins from all squads, and I want to to get an idea of how big this place is! Shake the lead out!

All of the Insurrectionists got right to work, as they began to regroup in their designated squads. As the Insurrectionists paired up, Vixen turned back to Black 6, and looked at him.

Vixen: I am guessing that you and I are sticking together?

Black 6: Of course. Grab a squad, and tell them to follow along with us.

Vixen turned to her left, as she pointed to a group of four soldiers.

Vixen: and your squad is with Black 6 and I! Form up!

Black 6, Vixen, and the squad of Insurrections broke off from the main group. They moved quickly through the corridors, keeping their eyes open for anything of strategic importance.

Black 6: Stay sharp...keep your eyes open. Speak up if you-

Before Black 6 could finish his sentence, he came under fire from Trust Marines who were simply on a patrol. Black 6 began to fall back, turning a corner to find cover.

Black 6: Get back...take cover...

Vixen and the squad of Insurrectionists provided cover for Black 6 as he moved back into cover. Black 6 stayed behind cover, listening to the firefight. He listened for the gunfire that was coming down the corridor. Based on what he could hear, he knew that out of the four Trust Marines, two of them were trigger happy, and the other two were far more conservative.

Black 6: This is a standard attack pattern...

Vixen fell back behind cover, and looked at Black 6.

Vixen: What?

Black 6: Two up front to assault...two behind to cover. I got this.

Black 6 drew his second automag, as he held both of them up at the sides of his head. Black 6 then emerged from cover and ran out into the corridor, running towards the wall, and jumping at it. Black 6 then pushed himself off the wall, effectively propelling himself into the air, giving him a vantage point in order to shoot the Trust Marines who had stayed back to provide cover.

Black 6 took aim with both of his automag, aiming both of his automags at both supporting Marines. Black 6 did not hesitate for even a moment to pull the trigger. Black 6 placed a bullet into each of their heads. Black 6 then shifted his focus to the two assault Marines. They had literally stopped in their tracks as they looked on in awe at what Black 6 had done. Black 6 capitalized on this, and extended his arms and knocked both men down as he came crashing downwards.

Black 6 quickly recovered, almost jumping right back to his feet, as he aimed both of his automags downwards, and pulled both triggers, killing the other two marines he had just knocked down.

Vixen and her Insurrectionists looked on in total shock, having never seen anything like that before.

Insurrectionist: Holy shit...

Vixen: Holy shit is right.

Black 6 turned to face Vixen and The Insurrectionists.

Black 6: As I was saying...speak up if you see anything interesting...and stay behind me. I can take care of the hostiles. Just watch my six.

Black 6 turned again, and continued to move down the corridor. Vixen and the Insurrectionists shrugged, as they followed behind Black 6.

The Apex - Planet's Surface - HEURISTICS Facility - Subterranean Hanger Bay - 1800 Hours - July 30th 2515

A Pelican carrying ODST Black Team and Spender flew down towards what was left of the HEURISTICS building. Black 2 was piloting the Pelican, and he saw the damage first hand.

Black 2: Guys...have you see this? Black 6 did a real number on this place.

Spender and Black 1 walked towards the cockpit. They each looked out the cockpit window, and were taken aback by the damage.

Spender: Do any of you have any idea how long it took to build HEURISTICS? The time it is going to repair this facility is going to be extensive.

Spender paused.

Spender: This facility has never been attacked before. It was never even conceivable.

Spender scoffed.

Spender: To see it like this now...

Spender turned away and walked back to the passenger bay.

Black 1: It looks pretty bad.

Black 2 nodded in agreement.

Black 2: What is bad is trying to navigate through all this smoke in the air. It is tough to get an accurate reading on the hanger bay entrance.

Black 2 began to descend in the Pelican.

Black 2: Everyone sit tight...this may get bumps.

The Pelican continued to descend. As it got closer to the ground, a very large hanger bay door built into the ground, just outside the main perimeter of the base, opened up. The Pelican continued to lower down into this hanger bay, until it touched solid ground. The Pelican bounced a bit, but was firmly on solid ground. Black 2 had disengaged the engines, opened the rear hatch, and left the cockpit, heading to the rear compartment.

Black 2: We are down. From the looks of it, we are in the correct spot.

Spender: Well done Black 2. Excellent work on getting us through the smoke cloud.

Spender paused, as he looked at each member of ODST Black Team.

Spender: I want each of you to keep tabs on the 218 KHz frequency. That will be the channel that all of our personnel will be using to coordinate. Keep tabs on it and use it to your advantage.

Spender paused as he readied his Shotgun.

Spender: I want the five of you to locate Black 6 and eliminate him. I am going to head to the CIC of this facility and ensure that no Insurrectionists have take it over. Securing the CIC is of top priority. After that is done...I will let you know. We can regroup after.

Black 1: it wise for you to go off by yourself?

Spender: Son...I have been going solo for a very long time. I know how to handle myself. I am a lot more capable than I look.

Black 1 nodded.

Black 1: Understood sir.

Spender: With all that what you have to do to get Black 6. You are hereby authorized to do use all necessary force.

Spender cocked his shotgun.

Spender: It should go without saying. Black 6 is already using all necessary force. Don't expect him to just roll over for you.

Spender paused.

Spender: Black 6 is very dangerous. He is desperate, and he is cornered. He will be ready for everything you can throw at him.

Black 4: We are ready to throw it back at him.

Black 5 stepped forward, and interjected nefore the conversation went any further.

Black 5: Sir...are we sure that there is nothing we can do to convince him to come back?

Spender: I am sure Black 5. Black 6 has made his choice. His actions her today have proven that he wants nothing to do with us. He has been corrupted by The Insurrection and their ideas. He is beyond redemption and he is beyond help. Do not pity him and do not show him any sort of compassion. Black 6 is the enemy.

Spender paused.

Spender: Is that clear?

Black 5: Very clear...sir.

Spender: It better be clear Black 5. If you show uncertainty...Black 6 will take advantage of that.

Black 5: There will be no uncertainty.

Spender: Good. Now, if there is nothing else...go. Find Black 6. Deal with him. I will get to the CIC and ensure that it is secure.

Spender turned and walked off the Pelican. Just as he did, he saw that there was a squad of Trust ODSTs guarding the hanger bay. Spender simply looked at them, and snapped his fingers.

Spender: The four of you...with me!

Spender then resumed walking, as the four Trust ODSTs followed Spender. However, before leaving the hanger bay, Spender turned to face Black Team.

Spender: One more thing Black Team...keep something in mind; Recall Directive 1...means to come back here, to the hanger bay. I have a feeling we are going to need to establish that understanding. Keep it in mind.

SPender grinned, as he turned back, and left the hanger bay with the Trust ODSTs.

ODST Black Team simply look at each other as they processed everything they just heard.

Black 4: Alright heard the man; find and kill Black 6.

Black 1 nodded.

Black 1: Find and kill Black 6.

Black 1 readied his assault rifle. Black 1 turned, and led the other 4 men off the Pelican.

Black 1: Ensure that you add the 218 KHz frequency. Let's keep tabs on that for possible leads on Black 6.

Each member of Black Team began to adjust their helmets. It only took a moment for them to do this.

Black 1: Alright. Watch your corners. Black 5, keep tabs on our six. Let's go.

Black 1 led the team out of the hanger bay, and into the main corridors. Black Team immediately picked up the pace, as they moved quickly and quietly. As they moved, they kept tabs on Trust communications, making on the fly decisions based on what they were hearing. It was not long before ODST Black Team had engaged a squad of Insurrectionists in the corridors.

Insurrectionist: Contacts spotted!

ODST Black Team, however, we the first to reach. Black 1, Black 3, and Black 5 moved forward, as they opened fire. The aggression with which they pushed forward with, quickly overwhelmed the Insurrectionists.

Insurrectionists: Ohhh shit...fall back!

However, ODST Black Team made quick work of the Insurrectionist squad that they had encountered. It only took seconds for ODST Black Team to kill, and move right through the squad of Insurrectionists. ODST Black team did not even stop to examine their handy work. They simply kept moving, showing little interest in the peons that they had just killed.

Black team kept moving, as they listened to the comm chatter from various Trust forces in the base.

Trust Marine 1: We have Insurrectionists in Gamma wing...approaching the medical division. We have them engaged and contained.

Trust Marine 2: Hostiles have taken the barracks. We need reinforcements in Ilo wing...repeat...reinforcements to Ilo wing.

Trust Marine 3: Currently engaging hostiles in Beta wing. Hostiles are trying to push forward to Delta wing. We are being pushed back. We need help right now. Some ODST is just kicking our asses over here!

Black Team reacted immediately, as they began to move towards Delta wing. As they moved, they heard Spender contact them over the comm line.

Spender: Black team? I trust you heard that?

Black 1: Loud and clear sir. We are on our way right now. Based on our current position, we should be there momentarily.

Black 1 fell silent, as he picked up the pace, breaking into a full out dash. The rest of Black Team followed behind Black 1, as they moved as quickly as they could through the metallic corridors.

As Black 1 led the team, he began to speak to the other members of ODST Black Team.

Black 1: Alright Black Team...remember what Spender mercy, no pity. We apply force and we take this traitor down. He may look like us, and he may fight like we do...but he is a traitor, through and through. He has turned his back on the best Humanity has to offer, and he is proud of that fact. We put him down today!

Each member of Black team firmly nodded in full agreement.

Black 5: Fully understood Black 1. Hopefully I get the chance to put him down myself!

Black Team continued to move. They slowed down a bit as they entered Delta wing. The moment they entered Delta wing, Black 1 contacted Spender.

Black 1: Sir...we have entered Delta wing. We can hear gunfire. We are converging now.

Spender: Excellent work Black Team. I have entered the CIC and, for the most part, it is secure. I have two squads of ODSTs stationed our front, ensuring Alpha wing remains clear. I will try and get our main systems back online here so I can monitor you from here.

Black 1: Understood. Black 1 out.

Black Team began to sprint, as they followed the sounds of gunfire. With each step, the sounds of gunfire became louder and louder. They were close...very close. ODST Black Team began to move slowly, as they formed up into a defensive posture. The five men walked towards a 4 way junction, the sound of gunfire coming from the corridor on the left.

ODST Black Team moved silently, as they got closer and closer to the junction. They could see Trust marines flying out from the left, as they were gunned down and killed by a hail of gunfire. As they moved closer, they could hear the sound of Black 6's voice giving orders.

Black 6: Alright...move forward! Down the corridor!

Black Team could hear the footsteps of multiple soldiers, exactly six people coming their way. Black Team readied themselves, as they turned the corner, and came face to face with Black 6, Vixen, and a squad of Insurrectionists. Each member of ODST Black Team had their weapon's raised, each of them aiming at Black 6.

Black 6 stopped dead in his tracks, as he saw the other five members of Black Team take aim at him Vixen and the squad of Insurrectionists raised their weapons and aimed at Black Team.

Vixen: Tye...looks like we found your friends.

Black 6: Something tells me they are not my friends anymore. I don't think they are here as friends.

Black 6 paused.

Black 6: Jonas...Evan...Arch...Kraven...Eli...put the guns down guys.

Black Team remained silent. Black 6 knew that there was something very wrong. The fact that they would not even respond to him, was a dead giveaway that something was terribly wrong.

Black 6: Guys...listen to me...I know you five think that you are doing the right thing here...but believe are doing the wrong thing. Spender is not your friend. Spender is manipulating you...he is controlling you...all of you!

Black 6 paused.

Black 6: Whatever it is he has ordered you to NOT do it!

ODST Black Team simply looked at Black 6. Black 1 raised his hand to his helmet, and began to speak.

Black 1: Sir...we have located Black 6...and Vixen. What should we do with her?

Black 1 paused for a moment as he listened to Spender's orders through the comm.

Spender: Focus on Black 6...I will find Vixen and deal with her.

Black 1: Understood.

Black 1 lowered his hand, as he gripped his rifle.

Black 1: Black Team...disengage safety. Kill this prick! Leave the bitch to Spender!

Black 6 began to back up. He watched as ODST Black Team moved to disengage their safeties. Black 6, however, already had the safety on both of his SMGs disabled. He simply raised his SMGs and began to fire.

Black 6: Vixen! Fall back! NOW!

ODST Black Team split into two groups, as they moved into cover around the two corners to the left and the right of the 4 way junctions. Black 6 kept up the suppressive fire!

Black 6: Move it! Black 3 can bounce shots!

Vixen and the Insurrections had turned and began to run the direction from which they came. Black 6 backed up, as he continued firing, keeping ODST Black Team suppressed as best as he could. However, despite his efforts, Black 3 began to bank shots off of the corridor wall. Sniper shots rang out, ricocheting off the wall, and going down the corridor at random trajectories. Each of Black 3's shots had landed square in the backs of each of the Insurrectionists that had accompanied Vixen and Black 6.

Black 6: Vixen! Turn the corner...NOW!

Black 6 holstered one of his SMGs as he reached to his belt, grabbed a grenade, and threw it down the corridor, towards Black Team.

Black 1: Frag! Scatter!

ODST Black Team moved further down their respective corridors, as the grenade went off. Black 6 took this opportunity to catch up with Vixen.

Vixen: the hell does Black 3 fire his Sniper like that!?

Black 6: I have no idea how he manages to place his shots...but he is deadly accurate. There is no cover from his fire! If you see him...shoot him!

Vixen and Black 6 continued to run. However, Black 6 knew that no matter where he went, his former team was going to chase him down and they would not stop until they caught him. As Black 6 moved with Vixen, he began to speak with her.

Black 6: Vixen...we need to split up! They are after me.

Vixen: If they are after you, then splitting up is a bad idea.

Black 6: That's just it...they are after me, not you. IF we split can get away.

Vixen: No...we stick together!

Black 6: Vixen...this is not up for debate! I am not going to put you in danger like that! These men are dangerous! They have been, literally, programmed to mercilessly kill anything in their path.

Black 6 paused.

Black 6: They are here to kill me. If you don't get away from me, they are going to kill you as well!

Black 6 paused.

Black 6: Your only chance is to find a way out...and get the hell out of here! Please! Do not follow me! Get out of here! Nothing else matters!!

Vixen had a look of sadness run across her face.

Vixen: I will find a way out of here...and I will contact you when I find it! Just...hang in there Tye. Just...stay alive!

Vixen paused.

Vixen: Don't die. Stay safe...

Black 6 looked at Vixen. He turned his head as he heard the sounds of heavy boots closing in

Black 6:!

Vixen began to back up. She was hesitant to turn.

Black 6: RUN!

Vixen broke out into a dash, as she continued to run. Black 6 watched as Vixen ran. He then turned and aimed both of his SMGs down the corridor that Black Team was coming from. Black 6 took cover, and waited for them to turn the corner. Despite the current situation, Black 6 found himself at a calm. He was neither nervous nor anxious. Black 6 was ready for the fight that was coming at him head on. Part of him knew that it would come down to this, and that part of him was ready and willing to fight to the death.

Black 6 inhaled, and held his breath, just as Black Team began to turn the corner. The second that Black 6 spotted Black Team, he began to fire both of his SMGs. Each member of Black Team quickly recoiled into cover behind the corner, as Black 6 fired.

Black 2: There is no point in fighting Black 6! We have you outgunned and outmanned!

Black 2 nudged Black 4. Black 4 looked at Black 2, as Black 2 gestured to circle around and flank Black 6. Black 1 saw the exchange, and gave a nod.

Black 6: Outgunned and outmanned...but I am still alive Evan!

Black 1: You won't be alive for much longer Black 6! We were always better!

Black 1 looked at Black 3 and nodded. Black 3 aimed around the corner, as he began to bank shots off the wall. Black 6 was forced to duck behind cover to avoid being hit by Black 3's shots. Black 6 could see from his HUD that he needed to reload. However, before he could begin to reload, he could tell by the lack of gunfire that he was being converged upon. Black 6 holstered both of his SMGS, as he waited a moment, before popping out from behind the corner. As he popped out, he came face to face with Black 1. Black 6 grabbed the grip of Black 1's Assault Rifle, and pushed it up, hitting Black 1 in the face with his own weapon. After the impact, Black 6 was able to pry the weapon from Black 1's hands. As Black 6 turned the weapon on Black 1, Black 3 had emerged from around the corner taking aim. Instead, Black 6 rolled forward, avoid a sniper round that wound have hit him in the head, and fired on Black 3. Black 6 had taken aim, not at Black 3, but at Black 3's weapon. The shots that Black 6 had fired off had impacted Black 3's Sniper Rifle, knocking it right from his hands and destroying the weapon.

Black 3 watched as his weapon hit the ground. He could see that bullets had damaged the weapon beyond any sort of use. Black 3 turned back to Black 6, and drew his automag.

Black 3: You prick!

Black 6 fired at Black 3 once more, hitting him several times in the chest. Black 3 flew back, as he hit the ground. Black 3's kevlar absorbed the majority of the impacts, but he no doubt felt what had hit him.

As Black 6 turned back to face Black 1 to open fire, Black 1 struck the side of the Assault Rifle in Black 6's hands, causing Black 6 to shoot the wall. However, Black 6 quickly recovered from this, as he slammed the butt of the Assault Rifle into Black 1's chest, and once more right into the side of Black 1's helmet. The force of impact caused Black 1 to stumble against the wall.

Black 6, once again, took aim at Black 1, but before he could fire, Black 6 saw Black 2 and Black 4 emerge from around a corner on his flank. Black 6 quickly turned and began to fire on Black 2 and Black 4, forcing them into cover.

As Black 6 fired at Black 2 and Black 4, Black 1 charged Black 6, and tackled him into the wall. Black 1 pinned Black 6 against the wall, as Black 2 and Black 4 once again emerged from cover. Black 1 attempted to wrestle the Assault Rifle from Black 6's hands, while Black 2 quickly moved forward, as he used the butt of his shotgun, and struck Black 6 in the side of the head, as hard as he could. Black 6 lost his grip on the Assault Rifle, as he fell to the side. Black 2 aimed his shotgun at Black 6.

Black 2: Told you that we have you outmanned and outgunned.

Black 6 shook off his daze, as he rolled over, and lifted his feet in the air, and kicked Black 2's shotgun right from his hand with tremendous force. Black 6 then leaped back to his feet, stepped back, and gave a shuffle sidekick right to Black 2's chest. Black 2 went flying back right into Black 4, both men falling to the ground.

Black 6: And I told you that I am still alive.

Just as Black 6 said this, he was shot in the back by three battle rifle rounds, fired by Black 5. Black 6 almost fell to the ground, but he managed to steady himself as he stumbled forward. Black 6 knew who had fired the shots, and he knew that if he didn't find cover, he was going to keep getting shot.

Black 5: You should learn to cover your Flank Black 6. It seems to be your biggest flaw.

These words rang in Black 6's ears. He had heard similar words when he had tried to fight ODST Black Team on The Ulterior Motive. Black 6 couldn't help but think that history was repeating itself. In spite of everything that he tried to do...Black 6 found himself in the same situation once again.

Despite this, Black 6 dashed forward, but Black 5 shot him once again in the back. Black 6 winced his eyes behind his visor, as he knew that his Kevlar would not be able to take much more punishment. Black 5 fired for a third time. This time, Black 6 flew forward, and landed on his stomach, hitting the ground hard, and sliding against the floor. Black 6 could see his HUD flashing that he had been wounded from gunfire. The only sound Black 6 could hear was the beeping inside of his helmet. Black 6 began to crawl forwards, trying to escape. However, his efforts were squashed, when he felt a heavy boot step on his back, stopping his escape.

Black 5: It didn't have to be this way Black 6. Spender did so much for you. He made you a better man. He improved you...made you better...made you strong. How do you repay him? You turn your back on him and you betray him! How disgusting!

Black 5 shook his head.

Black 5: I cannot believe I considered a man, like you, my friend at one time. I know better. I should have been able to see through you.

Black 5 paused.

Black 5: I spoke highly of you to Spender. I vouched for you. I wanted you to be a part of something bigger! For a were part of something. However, your deep seeded self-righteous attitude reared its ugly head...and exposed you for the kind of man you are.

Black 5 scoffed.

Black 5: A small man...a weak man. A man of limited scope and limited vision. That is the man you were...that is the man you are...and that is the man you will die as.

Black 5 took aim at the back of Black 6's head.

Black 5: Any last words?

Black 6: Yeah...just one thing...

Black 6 coughed.

Black 6: You talk too much.

Black 6 had been cooking a flash bang in his hands for the past few seconds, as he threw it up. Black 5 saw the flash bang, but his VISR was unable to react fast enough. The flash bang went off, and the loud noise and bright light had momentarily stunned all five members of Black Team. Black 6, on the other hand, had manually triggered his BDU's defensive measures, and was largely unaffected by the flash bang. Black 6 used this chance to pull himself together, get back to his feet, and fall back in order to think of a new strategy for fighting ODST Black Team. Black 6 didn't take any chances...he simply ran as fast as he could to put as much distance between himself and ODST Black Team as he could. He knew this engagement was far from over...but he needed a plan and he needed an advantage.

The Apex - Planet's Surface - HEURISTICS Facility - Subterranean Corridors Near Alpha Wing - 1830 Hours - July 30th 2515

Vixen was moving through the corridors of The HEURISTICS Facility's sub basement. She was moving quickly, evading confrontations and avoiding combat in order to try and find some way out of the facility and off the planet. Vixen had a very heavy hear, knowing that she had left Black 6 behind to face the rest of Black team. Even thought she did what she had to do, and Black 6 had encouraged her to do it, she could not shake the guilt from what she had done. Despite this, Vixen knew that she could not let her judgment get clouded by emotion. She had to stay focused if she was going to survive.

As Vixen moved through the corridors, she eventually met up with two squads of her Insurrectionists. Vixen was relieved to be able to find some backup given where she was.

Insurrectionist: Ma'am...are you alright? Where is the rest of your team?

Vixen: The squad we were with was taken down. Black 6 and I had to split up.

Vixen paused.

Vixen: Where are you boys heading?

Insurrectionist: Alpha Wing. We got a hold of some intel which suggests that there is a high-ranking Trust officer there. If he is still there, we were hoping to capture him and leverage him.

Vixen: Good plan. Let's go! Take point!

Vixen reached to her side and grabbed her sidearm, and held it at her side. She moved along with her Insurrectionists, moving at a quick pace. For the most part, they moved largely unhindered.

Vixen: How far are we from Alpha Wing?

Insurrectionist: Not far. We managed to get a hold of a floor plan from one of their computer systems. We have been using it to move about the facility. We have been able to get the drop on quite a number of soldiers.

Vixen: Very nice.

Insurrectionist: As per your question...we are not far. Just pas the upcoming junction is where Alpha Wing starts. After that, it is not far to the CIC of this entire facility.

Vixen grinned and nodded. She was impressed by the resourcefulness of her soldiers given the situation.

Vixen: Very nice work. That sort of intel was exactly what we needed.

Vixen continued to move with her Insurrectionists, as they entered Alpha Wing. She followed her Insurrections around a few corners and down a few corridors, before coming to a stop, along with the others.

Insurrectionist: According to our intel...the CIC is just up this corridor, and around the corner to the right. I don't think we have been detected, so we can move in very easily.

Vixen stopped. She looked down the corridor, then looked to her right. Based on the layout of the corridors, she could tell that it was possible to flank the CIC.

Vixen: Perfect. That will give us an excellent advantage. I want a few of you to circle around down the corridor to the right. I want to flank the CIC. Hurry up and get into position.

All of the Insurrectionists nodded, fully understanding their orders. Several Insurrectionists broke off from the main group, while Vixen led the others up the corridor. She stopped just before turning the corner, as she waited for the other team to get into position. She waited a moment, before she was contacted over the comm.

Insurrectionist: Ma'am...we are in position. Give us the word, and we will engage...

Vixen took a deep breath, and then gave the order.

Vixen: Engage. We will flank them.

Vixen waited a moment She turned her head, and nodded to the Insurrectionists who were with her, giving them the signal to be ready. The Insurrectionists raised their weapons, ready to move. As soon as the gunfire started, Vixen gave the order.

Vixen: GO!

Vixen, and her team of Insurrectionists turned the corner, and flank two squads of Trust ODSTs that were engaged with the first team of Insurrectionists. This gave Vixen and her Insurrectionists the chance to line up shots, and make quick, clean kills. Vixen and her squad of Insurrectionists were able to inflict heavy casualties on the ODSTs before a few of them turned to engage Vixen and her Insurrectionists. One of the ODSTs had managed to kill one of the Insurrectionists that Vixen was with, and wound two others. However, the pincer maneuver proved to be too much for the ODSTs.

When the last ODST had fallen, and the smoke had cleared, Vixen saw that she only had 4 Insurrectionists left, out of the 8 that she had started with, two of them being wounded.

Vixen: Those ODSTs had put up one hell of a fight.

Vixen turned to look at the two wounded Insurrectionists. She saw that their wounds were critical. Vixen felt a swell of sympathy for her wounded comrades. She took a moment, and then looked at one of the healthier Insurrectionists.

Vixen: Based on your there a hanger bay around here?

Insurrectionist: Let me check...

The Insurrectionists grabbed is PDA, as he began to examine the map.

Insurrectionist: There is something that looks like a hanger bay in Epsilon Wing. It is quite a trek from here. Chances are though, if it is a hanger bay, it could be locked down. We should check the CIC first.

Vixen: I will check the CIC.

Insurrectionist: Ma'am...what about the Trust officer in there? There could be more of these guys in there.

Vixen: I will deal with them. Get the injured to Epsilon Wing. If that is a hanger bay....prep a ship for departure. I will make sure that everything is fine on this end.

Vixen paused.

Vixen: If you see Black 6 at all. Get him to Epsilon Wing. Do everything you can to help him.

Insurrectionist: Understood. Good luck Ma'am.

Vixen: Same to you. Now go.

The two Insurrectionists nodded, as they helped their wounded comrades to their feet, and they parted ways with Vixen. Vixen reloaded her Magnum, as she readied herself to breach the CIC. She approached the door, and took cover up against the wall. She man8vered her hand against the control panel, and she pressed a green button to open the door. To Vixen's surprise, the door was unlocked. With no trouble at all, the door opened. Vixen peeked around the corner, through the door, and saw that the CIC was deserted.

Vixen slowly walked into the CIC, her Magnum raised, looking down her iron sights. She slowly moved inwards, moving with caution. She knew this was too good to be true. Vixen knew something was not right. She knew that there had to be something or someone here worth the protection of those ODSTs. Vixen sighed, but just as she was about to lower her guard, she saw a frag grenade fly up from behind a holotable on the far side of the CIC...and it was coming right for her.

Vixen: Shit...

Vixen turned and jumped to the side, jumping behind a computer terminal for cover. Her ears began to ring a bit as the frag grenade exploded. She felt a bit disorientated as she got to her feet. However, as she got back up, and turned to face the spot where the grenade had exploded, she was face to face with Spender. Spender was already in the act of throwing a right hook right into Vixen's face. Spender did not stand on ceremony with this strike. He his Vixen with all of his might. The force at which he hit her sent her flying back, losing the grip on her weapon as she flew through the air and hit the ground.

Vixen groaned in pain as the reality o what just happened began to set it. She could feel blood coming from her nose, as she started to sit up. She watched as her father walked around the computer terminal, and laughed.

Spender: little nice to see you. After all these finally be face to face once again...

Spender paused.

Spender: It makes me...sick.

Spender was still holding his shotgun in one hand, as he looked down at his daughter. Spender hefted his shotgun, and aimed it at Vixen. He had a huge grin on his face.

Spender: Here you The home turf. I never thought I would see the day where you would be here. I always wanted you to be here, as a member of The Trust. You would have made an excellent Trust operative. You had such potential. However, you chose to stand by some outdated morality and you refused to be any part of what is going to be the future of Humanity.

Vixen: I didn't want any part of your draconian vision! It is immoral and it is evil! I know what The Trust is capable of! I saw it firsthand! I never forgot!

Spender: You still believe that The Trust is evil. You still believe that our goals are immoral. All we want is to protect Humanity...from internal and external threats.

Vixen: don't care about Humanity. You don't care about protecting people! You just want power! You just want to control everything around you! You tried to control me! You tried to control mom! You are controlling those men who worked with Tye!

Spender: ODST Black Team accepted a new way of doing things. They accepted what you refused. They are better off for it. They are playing a role in a greatness you will never comprehend.

Spender shrugged.

Spender: had your chance. I am done trying to convince you of the merits of what The Trust offers. Your stance is clear. You prefer insurgency over loyalty.

Spender held his Shotgun on Vixen. He cocked the shotgun, and prepared to fire. Vixen looked at Spender's hands, and saw that his finger was on the trigger. Any move she made, was going to result in her being blown away before she could even move a muscle. Vixen knew that she needed a plan. She needed to do something to save her skin.

Spender: Goodbye Kathryn.

Vixen: I pity you. I really do.

Spender laughed.

Spender: You? Pity me? How laughable.

Vixen: You deserve pity. You are a small man, so insecure about his place in the grand scheme of things that he feels that he can never have too much power...just to legitimize his own existence.

Spender: Do you think I do what I do because I am insecure about myself?

Vixen: Yes.

Spender: Have you not listened to a word I have ever said? The Trust is not about is about

Vixen: Preserving humanity. That is an excuse. That is what you say to make yourself feel better. That is what you say to convince yourself of your own lie. In reality...The Trust is about ego. The Trust is about power, control, corruption, and fulfillment of self. Black 6 told me what you did. He told me all about your little coup against this VERY organization. You revolted because you didn't like how they were treating you. You didn't enjoy losing your power and authority. There was a moment in time that you had nothing; no power, no control, no authority. The Trust turn on you, and you turned on them...and you began to kill each other like a pack of rabid wolves...all vying to be the alpha.

Spender: Shut up!

Vixen: You don't like hearing the facts.

Spender: You know nothing!

Vixen: I know enough! I know enough!

Spender: know nothing!

Vixen: You lie to yourself. You don't care about Humanity. You care about yourself. You are a deranged narcissistic man that has to brain wash people and threaten people in order to lead them!

Spender: How dare you!

Vixen: How dare I? How dare you! How dare you speak the virtues of The Trust, claim to be the guardians of Humanity...yet you do everything possible to destroy it! ODST Black crushed their souls. You crushed their sense of identity. You crushed everything they were. What are they now? What are they, without you?

Vixen began to laugh.

Vixen: You claim to defend Humanity...yet you pulverized and annihilated it in your most loyal soldiers.

Vixen paused.

Vixen: Tell me..."dad"...and I use that word VERY loosely...

Vixen scoffed.

Vixen: What is our future according to The Trust? What will we have left? Will there be anything left that is worth any kind of effort to save?

Spender was furious. He grit his teeth, as he clenched his shotgun.

Spender: You are so fucking narrow minded! You are so blinded by your antiquated morals that you cannot see the perfect that The Trust would usher in! Humanity needs to be controlled! Humanity needs a leash, and The Trust the one to hold it! We will keep Humanity in line, so as to ensure that we will never have to fight another Insurrection ever again!

Spender paused.

Spender: You and your terrorist cohorts threaten what The Trust has spent centuries protecting!

Vixen: My "terrorist cohorts" have only ever been a threat to you. I believe in the UNSC! I don't believe in you, or The Trust! You are frauds of the higher caliber! You are the scum of the universe!

Spender: ENOUGH!

Vixen saw Spender's finger remove itself from the trigger of his shotgun, as he lowered the gun slightly, turning it away a bit. She knew that this was the moment to strike and she knew that she had gotten to Spender on a psychological level. Vixen scoffed, as she used her hands to push herself forwards, quickly climbing to her feet. She grabbed Spender's shotgun, and pushed it lengthwise right into his chest. Vixen and Spender struggled over the gun, pulling back and forth. The two of them continued to struggle for a few moments. Vixen managed to get the upper hand, when instead of pulling on the shotgun, she pushed, just as Spender was pulling. This caused Spender to stumble back, causing both Spender and Vixen to fall over a desk. Both of them lost their grip on the Shotgun as it slid across the ground.

Both Vixen and Spender got back to their feet, but Vixen was the first to strike with a swift right hook, followed by a roundhouse kick. Spender stumbled back, slamming into the wall. He glared at Vixen, as he wiped a bit of blood from his mouth.

Spender: Not bad...

Spender charged forward at Vixen again, as he threw a left hook. Vixen had managed to evade the strike by recoiling, but Spender moved forward once more, and struck Vixen right a right hook. The force of impact tossed Vixen to the ground.

Spender: You are no match for me Kathryn!

Vixen got back to her feet, as she ran at Spender and tackled him to the ground.

Vixen: That is your opinion!

Vixen punched Spender in the face several times before Spender pushed Vixen off of himself. Spender then rolled away from Vixen, as he got back to his feet. Vixen was still in the process of getting back to her feet when Spender charged at her and drive his foot right into her side. Spender kicked her as hard as he could, causing Vixen to fly to the side, and land on her back.

Spender looked down at Vixen, breathing heavier than he normally was. He had a very cross look on his face as he scoffed at Vixen.

Spender: You are a lot of fucking trouble! Did you know that? Why won't you just accept your fate and die?

Vixen coughed, as she rolled to her side, as she began to crawl to her feet. However, before she could get back up, Spender kicked her down to the ground once more.

Spender: Why do you fight a battle that you cannot win!? Why do you resist?

Vixen: It is what SHE would want me to do.

Spender: dead. You are throwing your life away every time you invoke her name, directly or otherwise!

Spenders walked over to Vixen, as he grabbed her by the back of the neck, and dragged her to her feet. Spender then tossed Vixen across the room, causing her to roll over a table and hit the ground.

Spender: You have become so weak and pathetic Kathryn; You should have joined us! Had you have joined us from the would be so much more today! are nothing.

Vixen scoffed, as she got back to her feet. She looked at her father from across the table she was thrown over.

Vixen: At least I still have my decency.

Vixen paused.

Vixen: At least I still have my principles!

Spender laughed.

Spender: That shit is meaningless if you cannot survive to have it!

Vixen: Yeah, well, I am still very much alive.

Vixen ran towards the table, and leaped over it. Vixen used her momentum to punched Spender right in the chest, and then follow-up with an elbow to the face, and a head-butt. This combo caused Spender to stumble backwards, and become a bit dazed. As Spender shook off his daze, he saw Vixen charge at him and kick him right in the chest with a shuffle sidekick. This caused Spender to fly backwards and land on the ground.

Vixen: And I still have a lot of fight left in me. Don't know about you are looking a bit sluggish.

Spender groaned, as he began to get back to his feet. This time around, Vixen was the one to kick him while he was on the ground.

Vixen: What's the matter? Having trouble getting up?

Spender coughed as he tried to catch his breath. Just as he tried to get up again, Vixen once again kicked him while he was down. Once again, Spender fell to the ground.

Vixen: So much for the great Constantine Spender.

Vixen looked around, as she spotted her sidearm near one of the control panels in the CIC. She walked over to it and knelt down to grab her Magnum. As she did, she caught a glimpse of the computer she was next to, and saw that it was, in fact, one of the primary operations stations. Vixen looked at the screen, and saw that the hanger controls had recently been accessed. When she had accessed the control set, she could see that the hanger bay doors had been locked down. She tried to issue the command to open the doors, but she quickly found out that they had been encrypted with a password. Vixen turned back to Spender, and glared at him.

Vixen: What is the password to open the hanger bay doors in Epsilon Wing?

Spender scoffed at the question.

Spender: Guess...

Vixen frowned and glared at Spender, as she aimed the magnum at his head.

Vixen: I am not fucking around. If you do not give me a straight answer...I will blow your fucking head off!

Spender considered his options. He knew that if he opened the doors for Vixen, she COULD kill him. He knew that she WOULD kill him if he didn't cooperate.

Spender: I could open the doors for you...but you are just going to kill me I fail to see the point in cooperation.

Vixen: More than likely.

Spender began to stand up. Vixen tensed up, as she prepared herself to fire.

Spender: He is what I think. I think you need me...but you don't want to say it.

Spender paused.

Spender: You are looking for a way out of here...because you know that if you don't find a way out of are going to die here. However...there is more.

Spender paused.

Spender: I think you are also looking for a way out for Black 6 as well. We both know he is facing steep odds...and every second that goes by, is the second that he could be killed by the rest of ODST Black Team. In other don't have time to waste.

Spender paused.

Spender: I am not stupid Vixen. I can see the look on your face when I mention him. Your pupils dilate, your skin flushed. I am not fucking blind, you know? I have been around a long time. I have seen a lot of things.

Spender grinned.

Spender: You are worried that ODST Black Team is going rip Black 6 limb from bloody limb. They are going to kill him. They are going to put him down like a rapid fucking dog.

Vixen frowned.

Spender: There it is. There is the anger. You don't like what I am saying.

Spender laughed.

Spender: It is very obvious; there is something going on between the two of you...isn't there? I bet you two found common ground in your hatred of just sort of went from there. Am I right?

Vixen: That is none of your business.

Spender: Of course not...but that is not going to stop me.

Spender paused.

Spender: Contact him. Ask how he is doing. Let's see how close he is to death.

Spender paused.

Spender: In fact...I have a better idea.

Spender turned around, as he face a large screen on the wall.

Spender: Renegade!

Renegade's image appeared on the large wall-mounted screen.

Spender: Access the internal CCTV system...and locate Black 6. Show me his current status.

The screen went black. After a moment, the display showed a camera feed, focused on Black 6. It was clear based on how Black 6 was moving that he was severely injured. The screen then divided, as it showed a video feed of ODST Black Team in pursuit of Black 6. It was clear that ODST Black Team was catching up to Black 6.

Spender: Oh no...he doesn't look good. Not good at all. Look how labored his movements are. He is running. He is in trouble. He is not going to make it. Black 6 is going to die. Black Team is going to catch him and finish him off.

Spender turned and looked at Vixen.

Spender: And there is nothing you can do to save him...or is there?

Vixen raised an eyebrow in interest.

Vixen: What are you talking about.

Spender: I can be a reasonable man Kathryn. I am prepared to offer to a deal.

Vixen: You are in no position to make a deal.

Spender: Yes...I am in the perfect position.

Spender walked towards Vixen.

Spender: I am prepared to let you leave this place Kathryn. I am prepared to let you leave with Black 6. I will call of Black Team, and I will unlock the hanger bay doors...if you back off, lower the gun, and walk away...FOREVER!

Spender paused.

Spender: You can accept or decline...but you would be wise to accept.

Vixen looked at Spender with a great deal of uncertainty.

Vixen: That deal sounds too good to be true.

Spender: On the contrary...this is mutually beneficial for us all. It is the only way we all win. If I refuse to open those hanger bay doors, you will kill me, Black Team will kill Black 6, then they will kill you. We all die.

Spender paused.

Spender: If I open those doors for you, I give you a way out, but I do not guarantee my own survival. The only way I can do is that is to tie my survival to Black 6's survival. You need me to call of Black Team. You need me alive to save Black 6.

Spender grinned.

Spender: Your survival is my survival. We need each other Kathryn. The moment I the moment Renegade informs Black Team of my death. If I call of Black Team, and you kill me after that...Renegade will inform Black Team of your treachery. There is no way around this Kathryn.

Spender paused.

Spender: We part ways, here, today, amicably...and we never cross paths again. You can keep Black two can live your lives...and I will live mine. It is what you want...right? You want a normal life. I am giving it to you. Take it!

Spender grinned.

Vixen felt uneasy, but she knew what she wanted, and so did her father.

Vixen: them off...please.

Spender raised an eyebrow.

Vixen: You're right. I want a normal life. I want a life away from all of this...away from you...away from The Trust...away from The Insurrection. I am tired of fighting. I am tired of the struggle. I want what other people have so easily; a normal life.

Spender: And that is perfectly reasonable.

Vixen was hesitant. Her eyes shifted back to the large screen which showed Black 6 still struggling to move forward. As much as she hated to admit it...Spender was spot on about everything he had said...and she was not about to abandon Tye again.

Spender: Well?

Vixen: Call off your attack dogs. You win.

Spender grinned.

Vixen: Open the hanger bay door...and let us leave.

Spender nodded.

Spender: Good call...very good call.

Spender tapped a headset in his ear to contact ODST Black Team.

Spender: ODST Black you copy? Commence Recall Directive 1...break off your pursuit of Black 6. There has been a change of plans.

Spender looked up to watch the large display mounted on the wall. Both Vixen and Spender watched as ODST Black Team stopped in their tracks. ODST Black Team then turned around, as they began to walk off.

Spender grinned as he closed the comm channel.

Spender: Isn't their loyalty inspiring?

Vixen: I don't care about your drones or how loyal they are. Just open the hanger bay doors!

Spender: Of course...of coourse.

Spender walked over to the control panel, as he began to enter the commands necessary to open the doors. One the command had been given to open the doors, the console began to beep.

Spender: It is done. The doors are open Kathryn. You are free to go.

Vixen looked at Spender for a moment. She continued to point the gun at him.

Spender: You are not going to shoot me are you?

Vixen: If my survival didn't depend on not pulling this trigger...I would shoot you down like a fucking dog!

Vixen's voice was tense as she spoke.

Vixen: You only deserve that much.

Vixen frowned at Spender.

Vixen: If you EVER...EVER...come after, for any reason...all bets are off. I will kill you...and I don't care what depends on me NOT doing it...I will kill you. Stay away from me...and stay away from life.

Spender: Fair enough.

Vixen began to back up out of the CIC. Once she reached the door, she turned around, and ran off, as fast as she could.

The Apex - Planet's Surface - HEURISTICS Facility - Subterranean Corridors Near Alpha Wing - 1900 Hours - July 30th 2515

Black 6 was still moving through the corridors. He was starting to slow down, as he was still struggling with his injuries. Eventually, he came to a stop, and leaned against the wall. Black 6 began to breath heavily. For the first time, in a long time, he was starting to feel pain.

Black 6 put all of his weight against the wall as he needed to take a moment to compose himself. However, just as he did this, he could hear the sounds of footsteps closing in, as if they were running. Black 6 reached to his side and drew his sidearm and held it in his hands, in case he needed it. He aimed down the corridor, gripping his automag as the footsteps became louder. As Black 6 steadied his aim, he saw Vixen turn the corner. She looked at him leaning on the wall.

Vixen: Tye! Are you alright?

Black 6: No...I have been the back...several times...

Vixen: I know how to get out of here. I know where the hanger bay is! I can get us out of here!

Black 6 nodded.

Black 6: That's good. That's really good! Lead the way.

Vixen nodded.

Vixen: Do you need help?

Black 6: Very much so. However...nothing that can't wait until we get the hell out of here. Do we have any more Insurrectionists left? Have you been able to make contact with anyone else?

Vixen: Not sure. I have not heard from anyone.

Black 6: Send a broadcast...see if we can rally everyone.

Vixen nodded in agreement. She tapped her ear and activated her headset.

Vixen: Vixen to all points...does anyone copy?

Vixen waited a moment for anyone to respond. However, there was no response from anyone.

Vixen: Is there anyone on this frequency? Is anyone out there?

There was no response. Vixen stopped, and looked at Black 6. She shook her head.

Vixen: Tye...nobody is answering. We may be the last ones left.

Black 6: if we are the last ones...the sooner we get out of here, the better. We have to hustle. Shake the lead out, and let's get the hell out of here.

Vixen nodded, as she took point, and continued moving through the corridors. Black 6 shook his head and got himself together, as he followed Vixen.

Black 6: How did you find the hanger bay?

Vixen: Some of my Insurrectionists got their hands on a floor plan. They told me roughly where it was. Some place called Epsilon Wing.

Black 6: I knew there had to be ships here. I just knew it.

Vixen: I managed to open the hanger bay doors. We are good to escape. All we need to do is make it to the hanger.

Black 6: Assuming the rest of Black Team does not catch us.

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Vixen: I doubt it. Spender called them off.

Black 6: What? How do you know?

Vixen: I managed to find the CIC of this facility. He was there. We fought. I had him right at gunpoint...I was about to kill him...but...he made an offer that I could not refuse.

Black 6: What!? What do you offer?

Vixen: He offered to let us leave this place alive if I didn't pull the trigger.

Black 6: I would have pulled the trigger.

Vixen: It was a tough call. Had I of put a bullet in his head...Black Team would have continued chasing you down. There is a reason they have not caught up with you. It was tough Tye...but I did it for you.

Black 6 sighed.

Black 6: That is a tough call.. Still...I am surprised you were able to restrain yourself. I am shocked you didn't kill him.

Vixen: Sometimes...there are more important things than revenge.

Black 6: Such as?

Vixen stopped. She turned to face Tye.

Vixen: People.

Vixen smirked at Tye.

Vixen: Important people. You know?

Black 6 looked at Vixen. He laughed.

Black 6: Yeah...I know.

Vixen simply looked at Black 6 for a moment before speaking.

Vixen: We should hurry.

Vixen turned, as she continued walking towards the hanger bay. Black 6 followed behind Vixen, as she led him through the corridors. As the two of them moved through the corridors, they were both shocked that they had me with no resistance. It looked as though Spender was actually keeping his end of the bargain. This was something that neither of them expected him to do.

As Vixen and Black 6 approached the hanger bay, they looked around, and saw that the coast was clear. Vixen and Black 6 looked at each other. It was a pretty convincing sight to see.

Vixen: I guess he kept his word.

Vixen nodded to Black 6, as the two stepped forward. They looked around the hanger bay and saw several Pelicans, hornets and Falcons in the hanger bay. At the far end of the hanger bay was a single Prowler.

Black 6: Look...there is an ONI prowler at the far end.

Black 6 and Vixen began to walk towards the Prowler. However, as they got closer, they stopped dead in their tracks when they saw ODST Black Team emerge from behind the Prowler...with their weapons drawn. ODST Black Team was in a combat stance, and they were ready for a fight.

Black 6: Vixen...I thought Spender told these guys to back off?

Vixen: He did...

As Black 6 and Vixen began to back up, they heard Spender speak up behind them. Vixen and Black 6 turned to look at Spender, who had his Shotgun drawn and aimed at Vixen and Black 6.

Spender: I did tell them to withdraw. I believe my exact words were..."commence Recall Directive 1".

Spender paused.

Spender: Black 1...please inform our guests what Recall Directive 1 is.

Black 1 stepped forward. Black 6 turned to face Black 1.

Black 1: It means to come back here.

Vixen scoffed at Spender.

Vixen: You lying, double-crossing mother fucker!

Spender grinned.

Spender: Temper, temper my dear.

Spender paused.

Spender: You should watch your language.

Vixen: You said you would let us leave!

Spender laughed.

Spender: I lied.

Spender scoffed.

Spender: Did you actually think I was just going to let you leave? You are truly naive. had me between a rock and a hard place. You had me at gunpoint, and there was no way for me to evade any shot taken. Not far enough for you to miss, not close enough to disarm. I couldn't fight I talked back instead.

Spender paused.

Spender: I told you what you wanted to hear, made it so you could not refuse the deal, and you took it...hook, line, and sinker.

Vixen was furious. She gripped her Magnum, which was in her hand, at her side, but Spender saw this and hefted his shotgun.

Spender: Watch that arm Kathryn. Move it in the wrong direction...I may just pull the trigger. I would hate to cap your ass before I am finished talking.

Vixen: I should have killed you when I had the chance!

Spender: Should have, could have, but didn't. now have to pay for that mistake.

Spender paused.

Spender: You made the mistake of thinking that I was trying to compromise with you.

Spender paused.

Spender: I have a very unique gift Vixen; I have the ability to keep control of a situation even when the deck is stacked against me. That entire conversation we had...I was in control the entire time. You did exactly what I wanted you to do; back off, get the gun out of my face, and bring Black 6 right into an ambush.

Spender grinned, as he taunted Vixen.

Spender: I knew I could bank on your weakness for Black 6.

Vixen scoffed.

Spender: Alas...I think I am going off on a tangent.

Spender looked at Black 1, and gave a nod.

Spender: Black 1...kill them both.

Spender kept his Shotgun aimed at Vixen and Black 6, as he watched Black 1 nod to the rest of Black Team. Black 1 raised his Assault Rifle. Black 2 raised his Shotgun. Black 3 and Black 4 raised their automags, and Black 5 raised his Battle Rifle. They all took aim at Black 6.

Black 6 looked at each member of Black Team. He stared down the barrels of their guns, certain that he had reached the end of the line.

Black 1: Orders are orders Black 6. It is a shame that you couldn't follow them.

Black 6 glared at his former team mates.

Black 6: It is a shame that the five of you can no longer disobey them.

Black 6 paused.

Black 6: I cannot honestly believe that the five of you are going to do this. You were all good men...honest men.

Black 6 paused again.

Black 6: I guess that doesn't mean anything anymore. I guess all that matters is what Spender tells you to do.

Black Team remained silent. They simply kept their weapons aimed at Black 6 and Vixen.

Spender: Black Team...I am giving you a direct order...kill Black 6 and!

Black 6: do not have to listen to that prick! He does not deserve your loyalty!

Spender: Black Team...KILL THEM NOW!

ODST Black Team kept looking between Spender and Black 6.. Black 6 noticed this behavior, and knew that he had to make a move. He saw that ODST Black Team's attention was currently on Spender, and now was his best chance.

Black 6 quickly reached to his sides, and grabbed both of his SMGs. He extended his arms in opposite directions, aiming at both Spender and ODST Black Team, as he began to fire in a suppressive pattern. Both Spender and Black Team were forced to duck and take cover behind large supply crates to avoid getting his by the spray of bullets.

Black 6: Vixen! Take cover!

Vixen looked around, and saw that She and Black 6 were only a few yards away from a large shipping container. Vixen ran towards the large shipping container, taking cover behind it. She readied her Magnum, as she aimed around the corner and was ready to lay down suppressive fire for Black 6.

Vixen: Tye! Get to cover!

Black 6 began to back up, keeping the fire on ODST Black Team and Spender, as he moved to regroup with Vixen. Vixen and Black 6 were both surprised that they were able to get out of such a tight situation.

Vixen: God damn bastard. He betrayed us.

Black 6: Yeah...your father does that a lot. He is a real prick.

Vixen: Tye...I am so sorry. I should have killed him when I had the chance.

Black 6: hey, hey...relax. You did what you thought was right. We will get out of this. We can handle this.

Black 6 paused. He began to reload his SMGs as he continued to speak.

Black 6: is the time to correct your mistake. If you can keep your father busy, and ideally kill him...I am going to try my best to put Black Team down. I feel like total shit...but...I have to try.

Just as Black 6 said this, he could hear Spender giving orders to ODST Black Team.


Vixen frowned, as she despised the sound of her father's voice.

Vixen: Believe me...that prick is as good as dead.

Black 6: I will move out first. I will draw Black team's attention. Use that opportunity to go after your father.

Vixen nodded.

Vixen: Good luck Tye.

Black 6 nodded. But before he could move, Vixen grabbed his arm.

Vixen: matter what happens...I just want to say...that I love you.

Black 6: I love you to.

Black 6 paused.

Black 6: Now...let's finish this.

Black 6 readied his SMGs, as he emerged from cover, and aimed one SMG in Spender's direction, and the other in Black Team's direction. Black 6 fired both of his SMGs, once again forcing Spender and Black Team into cover.

Black 6: Vixen...go!

Vixen emerged from cover, holding her Magnum up, aiming down the sights, moving towards where Spender was in cover.

Vixen: Focus on Black Team. I got this bastard!

Vixen closed in on Spender's location. As she got closer, she saw Spender move away in prone, rolling away to take cover behind a nearby Hornet. Vixen fired two shots at Spender, but missed both shots, but nearly hitting Spender both times.

Vixen: You can run all you want, you prick, but you are not getting out of this alive!

Spender cocked his shotgun, as he emerged from cover and aimed at Vixen. Vixen saw Spender emerge from cover, and she jumped to the side, and landed behind the supply crate that Spender had originally taken cover behind, just as Spender had pulled the trigger on his shotgun. The pellets from the shotgun shell impact the supply crate.

Vixen got to her knee, and took aim over the top of the supply crate, and began to fire at Spender. Spender ducked down behind the Hornet, as the bullets from Vixen's Magnum shattered the cockpit window and impacted the hull. Vixen fired off her full clip, before ducking back down reloading.

Spender knew that Vixen was currently in the process of reloading. As such, he emerged from behind the hornet, and ran towards Vixen's location. He jumped on top of the supply crate, and proceeded to kick the Magnum right from Vixen's hand. Spender then cocked his shotgun and aimed downwards at Vixen. However, before Spender could fire, Vixen grabbed both of Spender's feet, and pulled on them, tripping him to the ground. Spender fell hard onto the crate, dropping his shotgun as he fell.

Spender looked at Vixen, and kicked her in the face, knocking her to the ground. Spender rolled off the supply crate, and walked over to Vixen. Vixen tried to climb to her feet, but Spender had grabbed her by the collar of her jacket, and threw her into the supply crate, going shoulder first.

Vixen coughed as she shook off the shock from the impact. She shook her head as she began to climb back to her feet. However, she was grabbed by the collar of her jacket by Spender once more. However, this time, she drove her elbow as hard as she could into Spender's gut, breaking his holding, and causing him to stumble back. However, Spender quickly recovered, as he charged at Vixen, and threw a left hook. Vixen ducked and evaded the strike, and recoiled when Spender threw a right hook.

Once Spender had followed through with his right hook, Vixen kicked him in the right rib cage. The impact caused Spender to drop his guard, as Vixen followed up with a swift right and left hook to his face. Once again, Spender stumbled back, and landed against the hull of a Pelican.

Vixen grinned as she saw her father struggle.

Vixen: Some soldier you are; you are getting your ass handed to you by an untrained civilian woman. Not so tough now, are you?

Spender: Shut your mouth you stupid cunt!

Vixen laughed as she walked towards Spender, grabbing a box cutter from off of a pile of boxes that were close to the Pelican. Spender saw Vixen grab the box cutters, and he watched how Vixen held them in her hand. Spender immediately moved away from the pelican to get some movement room. However, as he moved, Vixen swiped at him with the box cutters. Spender barely dodged the swipe, as he steadied himself and continued to back up. Vixen continued to swipe at Spender, from left to right, waking towards him and swinging the box cutters. Spender continued to recoil to evade the weapon.

Vixen was relentless with her advances. She eventually lunged at him, swiping from left to right once again. Spender recoiled like he had done previously, but he was caught off guard, when Vixen quickly swiped from right to left. Spender tried to recoil once more, but the tip of the box cutter had slashed his left eye.

Spender screamed in pain, as he placed his hand on his left eye. Despite the fact that he had his hand on his eye, he could feel the blood pouring from his eye. Spender removed his hand, and he quickly realized that he could no longer see from his left eye. Vixen had just blinded his left eye.

Spender keeled over, as he stumbled back. He was bent over, breathing heavily. Vixen could tell that she had just critically wounded Spender. She had a giant smirk on her face, and she was full of an immense satisfaction.

Vixen: I hope that fucking hurt!

However, as Vixen spoke, Spender quickly retaliated and upper-cutted Vixen as hard as he could. Vixen went flying back, thro0ugh the air, slamming into a supply crate, and falling to the ground. Vixen lost hold on the box cutter as she slammed into the supply crate and fell to the ground.

Spender: You fucking bitch! You just blinded me. You are going to pay DEARLY for that!


Black 6 was currently in a firefight with each member of ODST Black Team. Black 6 was behind cover, as he fired both of his SMGs at each member of Black Team. Black Team had difficulty getting a clear shot off due to the suppressive fire being created by Black 6.

Black Team, on the other hand, was running low on ammo. Black 1 had exhausted his ammo reserves, and Black 2 had used up the last of his Shotgun shells. Black 4 still had explosives at his disposal, and Black 5 was on his final clip.

Black 6, on the other hand, still had quite a bit of ammo for his SMGs in reserve, and was capable of outlasting ODST Black Team in terms of ammo.

ODST Black Team began to coordinate in order to flank and bring down Black 6.

Black 1: Black 2...Black around to the left. Black 4, Black around to the right. I will remain here and keep up the pressure as long as I can.

Each member of Black Team nodded, as they began to split up in order to flank Black 6. Black 1 continued to fire his Automag at Black 6, keeping Black 6's attention on him. Despite this, Black 6 noticed that ODST Black team was trying to flank him. Black 6 waited, and pretended not to notice what ODST Black team was trying to do.

Once Black 6 saw that he had a perfect shot, he turned his SMGs on the two flanking positions, and began to fire. Black 6 was able to hit both Black 2 and Black 3, bringing them both down with direct hits in the chest. Black 6 was also able to hit Black 4, again, with direct hits to the chest. However, Black 5 was able to duck down into cover and avoid being hit.

As Black 6 turned his attention back to Black 1, he saw Black 1 was already running at him. Black 6 turned both of his SMGs on Black 1, but when he pulled the trigger, both guns just clicked because the clips were empty.

Black 6: Fuck...

Black 1 tackled Black 6 to the ground, separating Black 6 from his SMGs. Black 1 sat on top of Black 6, and threw several right hooks at Black 6. After several punches, Black 6 managed to catch Black 1's fist, and counter with a left hook of his own. The force of impact6 knocked Black 1 off of Black 6.

Black 5 watched as Black 1 and Black 6 fought. He simply circled around the two men, making special note of Black 6's moves and his tactics. Black 5 could tell that Black 6 was fighting for his life, which explained the burst of resolve and strength that was powering every move Black 6 made.

Black 1 and Black 6 both got to their feet, as they began to exchange blows, one after the other. Each man threw a single punch at the other, going blow for blow. This went on for about a dozen rounds, before Black 6 broke the pattern, and slammed both of his fists into the side of Black 1's head, dazing Black 1 in the process, and giving Black 1 a roundhouse kick, knocking him back.

Black 6: You have been slacking Black 1. You used to be a much better fighter.

Black 5 laughed at this comment. Black 6 turned to looked at Black 5.

Black 5: No...Black 1 has not been are just fighting out of desperation. It is amazing what a man can do when he is forced to reach just a little deeper for his strength.

Black 6 glared at Black 5.

Black 6: Eli...we have know each other for a very long time. We have been friends for a very long time! It does NOT have to end like this.

Black 5 simply glared at Black 6.

Black 5: You do not understand Black 6. We were given an opportunity to do extraordinary things. You turned your back on that. You fight to take this opportunity away from us. You claim that we are friends...but you act as if we are not. Have you ever considered that THIS is what I want? It has to end this order to protect what I want!

Black 5 paused.

Black 5: You may be scared of what The Trust does, and what they hope to accomplish...but we are not. Your not our fear.

Black 6: it has nothing to do with fear Eli! It is about self-determination! Spender is manipulating you and lying to you! He is controlling you! He has indoctrinated you into doing things that no moral man would ever do in his greatest hour of weakness.

Black 5: He is not manipulating us! He has broadened our horizons.

Black 6: No, he hasn't! He has convinced you of a lie! He has you believing that what you are doing, now, is the right thing to do.

Black 5 simply shook his head.

Black 5: You will never understand what Spender has done for us. You are a lost cause Black 6.

Black 5 took aim with his Battle Rifle...but stopped before he pulled the trigger.

Black 5: No...that is far too easy.

Black 5 tossed the Battle Rifle aside, and reached onto his back, and pulled out his sword. Black 6 saw this and reached to his sides and drew both of his Automags.

Black 6: Eli...this is a path we cannot return from! I implore you...don't do this! We are both better than this.

Black 6 gripped his automags in his hands. His fingers were on the triggers.

Black 6: it is not too late. We can both walk away from this...just put the sword away!

Black 5 began to walk towards Black 6.

Black 5: Oh, I assure you...I will be walking away from this...but you won't. Your future ends here.

Black 5 began to run at Black 6. Black 6 scoffed, as he began to fire both of his Automags at Black 5. However, Black 5 simply used the attenuation field of his blade to deflect the bullets, and move right through Black 6's best efforts to stop him.

Black 6: Shit!

Black 6 began to back up and fire, but his clips eventually ran empty. He knew that guns were going to be useless in this fight, so he simply tossed them aside. Black 6 stopped and held his ground, and Black 5 jumped into the air, and slashed his blade downwards. Black 6 moved to the side to avoid getting cut in half, but quickly rolled back, as Black 5 swung his sword in a lateral direction. Black 6 rolled back, and was on his knees as he looked at Black 5.

Black 5: Come on Black 6...surely you are capable of more than just running away.

Black 5 turned to charge Black 6. Black 5 jumped at Black 6 once more, slashing downwards. Black 6 knew that he could only evade for so long, and that he needed to take a stand and get close to his former ally. Black 6 watched Black 5's movements as he came down, as he lunged upwards, and grabbed Black 5's wrists, and held them in place. Black 5 struggled against Black 6's hold, as he began to slowly force the blade downwards. Black 5 began to angle his wrists, so he could adjust the angle of the blade, so that it was parallel with Black 6's helmet. Black 5 continued to force his hands downwards, as he slowly overpowered Black 6. The sharp blade inched closer and closer to Black 6's visor, getting within half an inch before Black 6 used his knee to strike Black 5. The impact caused Black 5 to released the pressure, as Black 6 overpowered Black 5, and threw him backwards.

Black 5 landed on the ground, still holding his sword in his right hand. Black 5 pulled his legs back, as he leaped back to his feet, and charged at Black 6 once again. Black 6 sighed. He knew that he if he didn't find a way to stop Black 5, this was not going to end in his favor, and that Black 5 would find a way to kill him. However, despite this knowledge, Black 6 had no way of actually stopping Black 5, short of killing him. It was not clear that someone had to die for this fight to end.

Black 6 evaded and ducked several stab and slash attempts by Black 5, but found himself caught off guard by a follow-up kick to the side of the head. The kick delivered by Black 5 was swift and without any remorse, as Black 6 flew to the side, getting dazed from the hit. Black 6 rolled onto his back, as he saw Black 5 stand over him, swing the blade in his hand, and thrust it downwards. Black 6 barely had the time he needed to roll out of the way, so much so that he felt the blade cut into his shoulder pad.

Black 5 had thrusted the sword down with such force, that he had embedded his sword right into the ground. Black 6 saw this, as he quickly got back to his feet, and punched Black 5 in the side of the head, knocking him to the ground, and away from his sword, which was still sticking out of the ground.

Black 6 walked past the sword, as he approached Black 5 on the ground, and grabbed him by the throat, and lifted him to his feet. Black 6 held Black 5 by the throat, as he continuously punched Black 5 with right hooks. After about seven hits, Black 6 placed his right hand on Black 5's throat, as he lifted Black 5 off his feet, and carried him forward several feet, and slammed Black 5 into the hull of a Falcon.

Black 6 began to strangle Black 5, but Black 5 managed to break Black 6's hold. Black 5 used his foot to push Black 6 back a few feet. Black 5 caught his breath, as he moved forward and struck Black 6 with a swift Haymaker to the side of the head. For force of the impact made Black 6 stumble to the side and fall against a supply crate. Black 5 looked at Black 6 and walked towards him. Black 5 then grabbed Black 6 by the back of the head, and began to slam his face into the supply crate. Black 5 repeated this process several times, before grabbed Black 6 by the scruff of his neck, and tossing him aside, right into the wall of the hanger bay, not too far from where Vixen and Spender were located.. When Black 6 had hit the ground, he was sitting on the ground, with his back to the wall. Black 6 wass dazed by what he had just gone through, and he was having trouble getting up. Black 5 saw this, and then turned to look at his sword sticking out of the ground. He walked over to his sword, and pulled it out of the ground. Black 5 then turned and looked at Black 6, as he readied his blade and walked back towards Black 6.


Spender stood over Vixen as she laid on the ground. He grabbed her by the collar of her jacket and brought her to her feet, where he promptly punched her in the face, sending her back to the ground. Vixen groaned in pain from the hit, as Spender stood above her, looking down on her.

Spender: You have no idea how long I have just wanted to pulverize you Vixen. I have dreamt of this moment for so many year. To actually be here, now, standing over your nearly broken is so surreal.

Spender grabbed Vixen by the hair, as he lifted her up, and proceeded to choke her, bending her backwards over a box as he did it.

Spender: I am going to enjoy feeling the life just drain from your body.

Spender began to squeeze as hard as he could, in an attempt to quickly suffocate Vixen. Vixen tried to break Spender's hold, but she was not strong enough to out-power him. Her eyes shifted back and forth, as she struggle to keep focused under the pressure. Vixen could feel herself becoming light headed and dazed, as she was very close to passing out from the lack of oxygen. She was desperate. SHe could not escape from the hold that Spender had on her. She turned her head to the left and the right, looking for something that she could use to get her out of this predicament. Thankfully, just to her left, there was a large wrench sitting on top of the supply crate she was being strangled upon. She reached for it, but it was just out of reached. She used the tip of her fingers to try and inch it just a little closer so she could grab it. With each second that went by, she found it more and more difficult to try reach for the wrench. However, Vixen pulled everything she had left together, and with all of her mi9ght, extended her arm to the point of feeling a sharp pain in her shoulder blade. she managed to wrap her hand around the handle of the wrench, as she swung it right at Spender's head, hitting him with everything she had left. The force of impact knocked Spender right off his feet, as he fell to the ground.

Vixen began to take very deep breaths as soon as she could. She feel off the supply crate, onto her knees, as she gasped desperately for air. She used the supply crate to help herself climb to her feet. As she did, she looked over and saw Black 5 walking towards the Black 6, with his blade in hand. She could see that Black 6 was down for the count, and she knew that if she didn;t do something, Black 6 was going to die.

Vixen looked around and saw her Magnum of the ground only about 10 feet away. She stumbled over to her Magnum, alll the while, Black 6's warnings of how dangerous ODST Black Team was racing through her head. Despite the danger, despite the fact that she was no match for a member of ODST Black Team, she was resolved to take action. When Vixen stood over her Magnum, she reached down and grabbed it off the ground. Vixen then turned to aim at Black 5, and she began to fire, shooting Black 5 right in the back several times, before Black 5 had turned and used his Sword's attenuation field to deflect the remaining shots.

Vixen: How the fuck did he not go down!?

lack 5 began to walk towards Vixen, holding the blade up as he walked towards her. Vixen knew that she was in very big trouble. She called out to Black 6.

Vixen: Tye...Tye!

Black 6 shook his head. He looked up as he saw Black 5 walking towards Vixen, who was backing up to try and get away from Black 5. Vixen continued to fire her Magnum, until her clip ran dry.

Vixen: me! Get up!

Black 6 snapped to attention, and he felt a surge of life come back into his body after hearing Vixen call for help. Black 6 scrambled to his feet, and ran at Black 5. Black 5, however, could hear Black 6 running up behind him. Black 5 waited, listening to the sounds of Black 6's feet hitting the ground. Just as Black 6 began to close in on Black 5, Black 5 turned, and thrusted his blade right at Black 6.

Black 6, seeing Black 5's body movements prepare to turn, readied himself. As Black 5 turned around and thrusted the blade at him, Black 6 turned his body to the side, moved slightly to the left, and dodged the thrust of the sword. Black 6, seeing Black 5's fully extended, placed his right hand on Black 5's wrist, and then used his left hand to hit Black 5's elbow as hard as he could. The result of this strike cause Black 5's elbow to bend the wrong way, snapping Black 5's arm. The trauma caused Black 5 to drop his sword.

As the sword fell, Black 6 grabbed it in mid air, and spun it around.

Black 6: Forgive me Eli...

Black 6 plunged the sword into Black 5's torso, impaling his body, going right through his heart.

Black 5 looked at Black 6, he simply uttered a single word.

Black 5: Tye...

Black 6 twisted the sword, cutting through the muscle and vital organs.

Black 6: I am so sorry Eli...I am so sorry.

Black 6 pulled the blade from Black 5's body. Black 5 fell to his knees, as he looked up at Black 6.

Black 6: It is for the best. You're free...

Black 6 swung the sword, and decapitated Black 5. Black 5's head flew through the air, as his headless body fell to the ground. Black 6 didn't fully process or comprehend what he had just done...but he quickly realized that he had just brutally killed his best friend. Black 6 stood over the headless body of Black 5, frozen in shock.

Black 6: Eli...

Black 6 began to breath heavily.

Black 6: Damn it Eli...

Vixen looked at Black 6. She couldn't even begin to imagin what he was going through at the moment. However, she remembered that she had her own demons to face, as she began to reload. As she reloaded, she turned back to Spender to finish the job. However, when she had fully turned, she saw Spender, on his feet, reaching for his sidearm. As Spender took aim, Vixen had just locked the clip into place. Vixen pulled the chamber back on her gun to chamber a bullet, but by the time she had released the weapon and started to take aim, Spender had fired his Magnum. The bullet from Spender's Magnum drove right into Vixen's chest. Spender walked towards Vixen, as he continued to fire, putting bullet after bullet into Vixen's chest. By the time the 3rd bullet had been fired, Black 6 had looked up and saw Spender shooting Vixen. Black 6 watched as the 4th bullet pierced Vixen's chest, and threw he backwards, as she fell to the ground.

Black 6: Vixen! NO!

Black 6 looked at Spender, who had a giant smirk on his face, having finally put his daughter down.

Spender: fucking bitch!

Black 6 then saw Spender turn his sights on him. However, Spender's smirk quickly turned into a viscious scowl.

Spender: kill Black 5...

Spender had a furious look on his face.

Spender: You...killed Black 5!

Spender turned the gun on Black 6. Black 6 was still in shock from watching Vixen get gunned down by Spender. However, when he saw Spender turn the gun on him, he quickly raised Black 5's sword, and deflected the bullet. Spender scoffed, as he fired the last 3 bullets in his magazine, all to no avail.

Black 6 began to walk towards Spender. The very way he moved screamed of outrage and insanity. Black 6 was utterly furious, and he had just lost any and all ability to show any sort of compassion or mercy for Spender. Black 6 had the insatiable urge to murder Constantine Spender. It was all he could think about. It was all he could understand.

Spender could visibly see the outrage and the total loss of sanity in Black 6's movements. A look of fear shot across Spender's face, as he realized that he had just done something very terrible.

Spender began to backup in fear of Black 6. He stumbled as he moved backwards. He even went so far as to throw the Magnum at Black 6 in some futile effort to slow him down, even to the smallest and most insignificant degree.

Black 6: You are a fucking dead man Spender. Do you hear me!? You are a fucking dead man! I am going to kill you! You are a fucking DEAD MAN! DO YOU HEAR ME!?

Spender turned and began to run away, heading for the exit to the hanger bay. Black 6 began to run after him, but after a few steps, he stopped, and instead, threw Black 5's sword as hard as he could. The sword flew through the air, going right for Spender. The force at which Black 6 had thrown the sword was extreme, as the sword quickly caught up to Spender. Spender was so close to the exit of the hanger bay, but before he could reach the threshold, the sword drive right into his back, impaling him through his right shoulder. The force of impact threw Spender forward, as he flew out of the hanger bay, and slid across the ground.

Spender was in a tremendous amount of pain, as he yelled out in agony. He could see from his one good eye that Black 6 was storming across the hanger bay.

Black 6: Say your prayers to the devil you fucking murderer!

Black 6 was breathing heavily, as he got closer and closer to garbage.

Black 6: I am going to rip you limb from limb you evil worshipping piece of human garbage!

Spender, by this point, w terrified. There was no way he could get away.His only hope wascking the door and hoping that would stop Black 6.

Spender: Renegade...RENEGADE! For the love of God...close the hanger bay door! Lock it! Renegade! FUCKING CLOSE THE DOOR! LOCK IT!

Spender could see Black 6 getting closer and closer.

Spender: Renegade...shut the door!

Black 6 began to run as the doors began to close. However, before the doors could close fully, Black 6 had wedged his hands into the threshold of the sliding door, and began to pull the two pieces of the door apart, fighting with the door mechanisms. Black 6 was using all of his might to try and keep the doors from closing. Black 6 was at a stalemate with the door mechanics.

Black 6: You fucking coward! Do you think doors will be able to protect you from ME!?

Black 6 continued to struggle with the door, preventing them from closing.

Black 6: You run like a God damned weasel! You run and you hide, and you crawl away...

Black 6 was utterly furious. Spender could see that Black 6 was actually starting to gain the upper hand on the door mechanics.

Spender: This is fucking impossible!

Spender began to crawl away. As he crawled, he left a trail of blood. He had already lost quite a bit of blood, so he was far too weak to get back to his feet.

Black 6: Get back here you coward!

Black 6 was starting to feel the burn in his arms, as he began to weaken. Ever so slowly, the door began to close. Black 6 put up a fight as long as he could, before he had to released the door, and let it slam shut.

Black 6 stepped back, as he looked around. He then walked back to the door and slammed both of his hands on the door.

Black 6: FUCK!

Black 6 stood by the door, unable to think straight. He began to pace around, lost in his own rage. Black 6 was about to go into total meltdown, but something stopped him. Black 6 stopped when he heard Vixen call for him.

Vixen: Tye...

Black 6 stopped, as he looked back at Vixen.

Vixen: Tye...

Black 6 ran back to Vixen. As he got close, he slid onto the ground, and knelt down next to her. He used his left hand to brush her hair out of the way, and then elevate her, and his right hand to apply pressure onto her wounds.

Black 6: Vixen...Oh my God...

Black 6's voice was horse, and very uneasy, as he struggle to keep himself together.

Black 6: Vixen...

Vixen: Tye...I'm...I'm...

Black 6: You're alright. You're fine. We are going to get out of her.

Vixen shook her head.

Vixen: No...

Black 6:'re fine. Come on...we can still get out of here...

Black 6 wasted no time in grabbing Vixen, and picking her up in his arms, as he carried her over to the Prowler that was docked.

Black 6: You're going to be fine...everything is going to be fine. Hang in're going to be fine.

Black 6 carried Vixen up the ramp of the Prowler. He carried her through the corridors of the ship, bringing her up to the bridge. Black 6 set her down on the ground, carefully.

Black 6: Vixen? Vixen! Stay with me! Keep your eyes open!

Vixen struggled to breath. With every second that passed, her breathing became more labored. Vixen watched as Black 6 stood up, and ran over to the helm station of the Prowler. She watched as he began to initialize the ship. She could hear the power coming on and the engines starting up.

Black 6 franticly worked, as he brought every system on the Prowler online. He knew that every second counted, and his time was split between helping Vixen and actually escape The Apex. Once all systems read green, Black 6 engaged the Stealth systems on The Prowler, as he began his vertical liftoff. Ever so slowly, The Prowler lifted off, going upwards towards the roof. Black 6 confirmed that the hanger bay doors were still open as the Prowler moved upwards. It only took a few moments for The Prowler to clear the hanger bay doors and emerge outside. Black 6 engaged the forward thrusters, as he adjusted his heading, and punched the engines to max. The Prowler took off to the skies at best possible speeds.

With the Stealth systems engaged, Black 6 did not have to worry about being detected by the Trust ships in orbit. With a heading locked in that took him away from The Apex, Black 6 was eventually able to plot a course for UNSC Space, engaging the slip space core as he did this. Once The Prowler had entered slip space, Black 6 engaged the auto pilot to allow the ship to manage itself. With the ship underway, Black 6 turned his attention back to Vixen. Black 6 got up out of his seat, and knelt down next to Vixen.

Black 6: Vixen?

Vixen moved her head, as she looked at Black 6. She extended her right hand upwards, as she tried to reach the release switch on Black 6's helmet.

Vixen: Take it off...

Black 6 used both of his hands to trigger the release switches on his helmet, as he pulled it off and tossed it aside. He looked down at Vixen.

Vixen: Much better.

Vixen struggled to breath.

Vixen: Tye...

Vixen grabbed Tye's arm and began to squeeze.

Vixen: Tye...I you...something...

Vixen paused.

Vixen: These last few weeks...have been...unforgettable.

Vixen paused again.

Vixen: I am so thankful that I had you in my life for a time...despite how brief that time was.

Tyber: Vixen...what are you saying?

Vixen: Tye...I am dying.

Tyber: What? can' can't die...

Vixen: I am dying is unavoidable...

Tyber: have to keep fighting!

Vixen: Fighting what?

Vixen paused. She reached up and put her hand on his face.

Vixen: Tye...I have been fighting all my life. I have never stopped fighting when I could fight. I can't fight this.

Tyber: Vixen...I can't go on without you. I need you! You are the only person who...the only woman I have ever, truly, loved. I can't lose you. I have lost to much already. If I lose you...I lose everything. You were the only thing that kept me sane. You are the only one who cared. You are the only one who...

Tye's voice began to crack.

Tyber: Don't go...please...

Vixen grinned.

Vixen: Don't worry...I am not going anywhere. I will always be looking out for you. I will be looking down on you...all the time.

Vixen tightened his grip on Vixen.

Tyber: Don't do this to me...please...don't do this to me.

Vixen: Tye...I want you to remember one very...important...thing...

Vixen paused.

Vixen: You are...

Vixen began to struggle.

Vixen: A good person. Never...forget...that.

Vixen began to cough up blood.

Vixen: You are...not...Black...6. Don't...let

Vixen paused.

Vixen: Do

Vixen began to struggle.

Vixen: You...are...

Vixen's grip began to loosen on Tye's arm.

Vixen: You...are...better...than...

Vixen paused for a moment, as she struggled to take a breath.

Vixen: Them...

Vixen breathed her last as her grip on Tye's arm released, as he hand fell to the side, landing in a pool of her blood. Tye's eyes began to swell, as he gave her a shake.

Tyber: Vixen?

Tybe gave her another shake.

Tyber: Vixen!?

When Tye had realized that she had just died in his arms, he broke down. He cradled her in his arms, holding her close.

Tyber: Oh God...oh

Tye began to shake his head as he began the futile process of denying what was clearly obvious.

Tyber: You can't be can't be dead. Come on Vixen...breath! Don't do this to me!

Tye began to get angry.


Tye began to break down even more, as he embraced Vixen's dead body. Tye sat in silence for a great deal of time, not wanting to part with Vixen. Tye simply sat with Vixen what an hour, before he had finally worked up the courage to release her. Tye moved away from Vixen's dead body, sliding himself away, across the ground. Tye continued to slide himself across the ground, until his back pressed up against a wall. He could not take his eyes off of Vixen. He simply ran his blood hands through his hair, and grabbed the back of his neck. Tye was breathing heavily, his eyes sore, and his body stiff. Tye was unable to compose himself or pull himself together.

Tye could not believe that he had lost Vixen. All he could do was sit there and go through everything in his mind, grilling himself and ridiculing himself for not being able to figure out how he could have saved the woman whom he so dearly loved.

Tyber: What did I do wrong? What didn't I do?

Tye paused. He began to breath heavily.

Tyber: Why did she have to die? Why couldn't I protect her? Why couldn't I keep her safe? All that I am capable of...and I failed her. Everything I could have done...something I should have done...I don't know what it is! Why can't I figure out where I went wrong.

Tye paused.

Tyber: I kept her safe from Black Team...why couldn't I protect her from Spender? How was I not able to stop him!? Why couldn't I stop him? What could I have done? I know there is something I could have done differently.

Tye continued to relive the events over and over in his head, going over every variable that he could think of. Despite this, he could not find the answers that he was looking for. Tye eventually gave up, and accepted his failures. Tye simply sat on the ground, in total silence, not moving or saying anything.

Tye had lost track of how much time he had spent just sitting on the ground. However, eventually, he got back to his feet, and looked around. He looked down at Vixen, a great deal of sadness coming over him as he did. Despite this, he was not going to just let her lay there. Tye walked over to Vixen's body, and picked her up. Tye carried Vixen off the bridge of The Prowler, carrying her to the small medical bay that was located on the ship. Tye brought Vixen to the medical bay in order to place her body in cryo stasis. Tye had every intention of giving Vixen a proper burial. It was the least he could do for her.

STB Breaking Point

Epilogue - UNSC Marathon Class - The Ulterior Motive - Medical Bay - Currently in the APX-449 Star System - Center of Trust Activity known as The Apex - 2030 Hours - August 6th 2515

Constantine Spender began to wake up in the medical bay. His vision was very blurry. He could feel a very large bandage on his face as his sense began to revive themselves. After a moment, Spender slowly sat up.

Spender: Novak!

Spender breathed heavily, as Doctor Novak came rushing out of his office.

Novak: Sir...thank God you are awake. I was worried.

Spender: What do you mean...worried?

Novak: When we found were in very bad shape. You had lost a lot of blood. Your injuries were very severe. The surgery to get the sword out of your body without damaging your right lung was an 8 hour surgery alone.

Novak paused.

Novak: On the subject of your lungs...we need to talk about a few things.

Spender rolled his eye.

Spender: My eye...

Novak: Also...your eye. We were...unable to save it. We had to remove it. The damage was too severe. I have already requisitioned a cybernetic replacement. It should be ready in two weeks.

Spender: Get rid of it...I don't want it.

Novak didn't think that was a very good idea, but he simply shrugged it off.

Spender: Where is Black Team?

Novak sighed.

Novak: They are...fine...physically speaking.

Spender: What do you mean?

Novak: I have released them as out-patients. They check in every day, and their physical injuries are on the mend. What concerns me is their mental state.

Spender: What is the matter with them.

Novak: They are struggling with the death of Black 5. They refuse to discuss it. They refuse to face it. From what I can tell...they have internalized all of their rage and anger. They seem normal...but I know these men. Something has happened to them. They are...different.

Spender: Clarify.

Novak: They have disconnected themselves with others. They are very distant with me, and they are all but totally disconnected with the rest of the crew. They eat alone, they only talk amongst themselves, and they refuse to discuss any of it with me.

Novak paused.

Novak: I have only been able to get one thing out of them.

Spender: That is?

Novak: Retribution. They demand it.

Spender grinned.

Spender: Retribution for the loss of their friend; Eli Decker.

Novak: Yes. I don't know what to tell them. I want to say that they will have it...but...these are preilous times for The Trust. We are recovering. We are weakened. I don't know how to proceed with them that stays in line with rebuilding all that was lost and destroyed.

Spender: Do not worry yourself Novak. I know exactly what to say to them.

Novak: That is?

Spender: Tell ODST Black Team...that so long as their loyalty is to The Trust...they will be fully entitles to any and all retribution they deem necessary. Make it clear that loyalty to The Trust means retribution for Eli's death...and justice for his murderer.

Novak: That's all?

Spender: That is all you need to say.

Novak shrugged.

Novak: I will tell them that these are your words, and not mine.

Novak sighed.

Novak: How are you doing sir? I heard about Kathryn.

Spender: What did you hear?

Novak: I heard that you gunned her down...and that you killed her. I also heard rumors that Black 6...went a bit nuts.

Spender: Yes...he did. He tried to kill me. He failed.

Novak: Clearly.

Novak was silent. He knew the whole truth, but he kept it to himself.

Spender: I'll tell you Robert...The Trust may be injured...but we stand to be more powerful than ever before. A new era has begun.

Novak: The new era started out pretty shitty. Two members of Black Team lost. Massive casualties in our ranks. The Heuristics Facility is nearly destroyed. Most of our best people are dead.

Spender: All of this is true...but you are forgetting one detail my friend.

Novak: That is?

Spender: I am alive, and in full control of The Trust. Like I said...a new era has begun.

Spender paused.

Spender: Granted...there was heavy damage to The Trust...but have to rip something down to build it up anew. We will be stronger than ever before...I assure you.

Novak: What about that ship we detected? Will we be strong enough to face that when the day comes? What happens when that ship arrives on our doorstep...and it turns out it is not interested in making friends?

Spender: No matter what happens...The Trust will be ready for the arrival. We will face whatever it brings with stalwart conviction.

Novak: I hope you are right...for all of our sakes.

I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I suffered writing it.
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