noble_6: (Default)
A few stragglers push through during the lull, but mostly it's quiet, which has Natalie thinking about what it will be like when it's not. Specifically with regard to the state of her ammunition.


"Think we've got time for an ammo run?"
noble_6: (with it or on it)
TRANSCRIPT OF ENCRYPTED COMMUNICATION

XXX TO SIERRA BRAVO-THREE-ONE-TWO
05 NOVEMBER 2550



XXX: I've been hearing good things about you, lieutenant. Captain Ryan has been very pleased with your performance on the project.

B-312: Thank you, sir. It's been a pleasure to serve under him.

XXX: I'm sure he'll be glad to hear that, lieutenant. But much as you've enjoyed your time at Shield 7, I'm sure you'd like to get back out into the field.

B-312: Very much, sir.

XXX: Excellent. We're having an Insurrection problem on New Harmony. It's pulling valuable resources away from the fight with the Covenant and we need you to put it down.

B-312: [FIVE SECOND DELAY] An Insurrection problem?

XXX: Not what you wanted to hear, lieutenant?

B-312: No, sir, it's--

XXX: Don't bullshit a bullshitter. It's not kicking Covie skulls in, though God knows you're good at that. It's basic wetwork, a third tier mission with no flash and no thrills and you thought you'd graduated from work like this. Am I getting warmer, lieutenant?

B-312: [ONE SECOND DELAY] Yes, sir.

XXX: Let me make one thing perfectly clear. You do superior work and should be tasked accordingly, which is why I'm sending you to New Harmony. The UNSC cannot afford to devote more time and manpower to this situation. I need you to free up my fleet, lieutenant. When they're back out in the systems, you will be too. Understood?

B-312: Yes, sir. When does my transport leave?

XXX: Sending the details now, lieutenant. Good hunting.



END TRANSMISSION




The closest they can get her is Camp Alvarado, which is still a dozen klicks or more from insurgent country.

The camp CO explains why, pulling up the digital wireframe of the local terrain. "They have spotters stationed all through these hills. If you go in on foot, you should be able to circumvent them, but if you tried to buzz in closer from the air--" The CO shakes her head. "At best, they'd radio their friends and tell them you're coming. At worst, they're one of the posts with rocket launchers to spare."

Natalie nods, rotating the map. She doesn't look up until the CO clears her throat.

"No offense, lieutenant; I've seen what Spartans can do. But there is only one of you."

Natalie smiles. "Don't worry, ma'am. They only sent one of me because that's more than enough."



She goes in just after nightfall.

The perimeter is well constructed; she has to keep low and slow for so long that the hair on the back of her neck starts to stand up in sympathetic paranoia. Still, their lines weren't constructed to stop one soldier on foot, especially not a Spartan. It takes her about an hour to reach the base camp where their leadership has holed up.

Two dozen in all, in and around the camp structures. Four on perimeter foot patrol, not that they think they have anything to worry about this far inland; most of the others are clustered around the field kitchen in the courtyard. She gets a whiff of something spicy through her helmet filters. They're engrossed in some story--she doesn't know enough Hungarian to parse it--but their weapons are within easy reach; one by one, she watches each man touch his without looking, reassuring himself.

She takes out the guards on the perimeter first. She is standing over the last of them when the first call goes up from someone at the interior: a question, maybe a name. She clicks on her active cammo and the world condenses down to the sound of her breath rebounding in her helmet.

The timer winds down in the corner of her HUD. She draws her silenced pistol and heads into the complex.



Fifteen minutes later, Natalie finishes her last sweep of the surrounding area and finds no survivors. She sets the charges and double times it back to Alvarado.
noble_6: (that lone wolf stuff)
"We need you suited up, lieutenant."

"How come?"

"Because we haven't finished environmental control on this thing yet and we assumed you'd want to breathe."

"But it's ready to fly?"

"Of course it is. It has an engine, doesn't it?"

Three months in to the program and she still can't tell when the engineers are joking or not.

---


"Docking couples disengaged."

"Hanger door is open. You are cleared for take-off, Sabre One."

It's just like the simulator.

It's just like the simulator.

It's not a fucking thing like the simulator, because now she's in charge of a few million dollars worth of aircraft and she'll be on latrine duty for the rest of the goddamn war if she fucks this up.

She slides the throttle forward and moves out into open space.

---


This is amazing. She is probably going to die, because the weapons aren't up on this tin can either and the brakes seem a little iffy, but this is absolutely amazing.

She doesn't realize she's laughing until the flight officer's voice crackles in her ear. "Having fun out there, lieutenant?"

"Just another beautiful day in the Navy, sir."

"That's the spirit, lieutenant. Keep her out for another hour; that should give the gearheads enough data to keep them happy."

"My pleasure, sir."
noble_6: (with it or on it)
To: SPARTAN B312
HIGHEST PRIORITY ORDERS

Until further notice, you are assigned to the SABRE PROGRAM and are under the command of CAPTAIN RYAN.

Transport to station SHIELD 7 departs at 0700 hours local time.




Shield 7 orbits Tantalus, a colony world noted for its wealth of ore that finds its way into most UNSC military hulls. The station itself is a military facility, wall to wall uniforms, but even they bat an eyelash or two when a Spartan in full armor comes walking down the hall.

Her HUD tells her where Ryan's quarters are; she takes her helmet off before knocking on his door.

"Enter."

She presses the panel by the door and steps inside. "Spartan Bravo-three-one-two reporting for duty, sir."

Ryan doesn't look up from his data screen. "At ease, Lieutenant. Do you know why you're here?"

"Something called the Sabre Program, sir. Nothing more than that."

"The Covenant have an advantage in space combat, Lieutenant. They have smaller, more maneuverable ship classes that augment the defenses of their larger units. We have the Longsword, but the admiralty wants more than that. The Sabre Project is going to give them what they want."

She shifts her weight. "I'm not that much of a pilot, sir."

The captain laughs. "We'll make you one, Lieutenant."

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Spartan B312

October 2012

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