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"It’s tight quarters on the other side, sir. Use this."

Chapter 8 (v.1) - Chapter Eight: Rat Race

Submitted: December 24, 2018

Reads: 31

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Submitted: December 24, 2018

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Chapter Eight
Rat Race

 

Private First Class Jane Pinciotti sat silently waiting in the driver’s seat of the Warthog she and Saito had been assigned. Saito sat balancing on the top of the backrest of the passenger seat pointing his battle rifle over the windscreen as was customary while Jane slumped back with an M90 shotgun on her lap. They were waiting on the side path of large highway tunnel that lead to the main bridge connecting New Mombasa to the mainland. They’d been ordered to wait here towards the edge of the island for Corporal Palmer and her squad. However, the pair had now been waiting long enough that Private Pinciotti doubted the likelihood that Corporal Palmer and her soldiers were still alive.

Jane met Private Saito only a day earlier while stationed on the Cairo Station defence platform. She’d said barely a word to him the entire time they sat idle in the UNSC jeep. Instead, she constantly fiddled with the shotgun. She checked her auburn hair was pulled back tightly beneath her green helmet and scanned ahead down both ends of the seemingly endless tunnel for any signs of alien activity. The Warthog was currently facing forwards toward the centre of the city, not that they truly had a sense of direction inside the tunnel.

Jane was currently kicking herself over having given in to emotional investment once again. She’d met Private Donnie Vusaro earlier in the year during her first ever personal encounter with the Covenant in the Sigma Octanus system. They had been from separate squads but managed to find themselves trapped together in a collapsed museum the aliens were searching. Jane never uncovered exactly what the Covenant had been looking for. Frankly, she didn’t understand why the Covenant hadn’t just glassed the planet from orbit as per usual, but she had heard of rare incidents where the aliens had been drawn to the surface of human worlds in the past.

Jane and Donnie had spent hours in the dark navigating through a ruined city and then waiting for any sign that the UNSC had known they were down there. During their time on the planet, they spoken together about many things; sorrowful memories of their lost families, friends and homes, but also hopeful memories of what they had planned for themselves once the war was to end. Before their Albatross dropship had landed to take them to safety, they’d both jokingly agreed that they’d each build a neighbouring house in the tropical jungles of Solace.

It seemed every time Jane allowed herself to get close to someone, the Covenant swept in and took them away. The Covenant on Cairo Station had killed Donnie Vusaro just as they had killed everyone else who mattered in Jane’s life. She’d come close to giving up before. Many years ago, long before she’d met Donnie she had come close to her escape. She’d made the necessary arrangements to find her release from this universe, but then somehow, she’d found herself stepping into a UNSC recruiting facility instead. Before she knew it, she was strapped up in full UNSC Marines military gear with a magnum tied to her waste and an MA5B Assault Rifle in her hands. She’d been filled with new determination that day, and that is who she needed to be now.

Jane was bitter. The universe was cruel, but what she had to remember was that this cruelty stemmed from a very specific point; the Covenant. She had decided not to converse with Private Saito on this mission any more than necessary. This was humanity’s last major battle. If they lost it then they would face extinction. For humanity to finally eliminate their merciless foe, they would had to utilise everything they had. Jane was not going to fall into the same trap she had with Donnie ever again. Every part of her being; mentally, physically and emotionally was to be saved for use against the Covenant.

Nothing was happening. Jane and Saito had been sitting here without a sound for too long now. Time was ticking. The longer they left the Covenant to their devices the harder it would become to resist them. Surely even Saito was becoming fatigued by this lack of activity. They had to fight now, or they’d soon have nothing to fight for.

“Saito,” Jane finally spoke up. “We’re alone out here. I don’t think Palmer’s coming.”

Private Saito stiffened slightly at the sound of Pinciotti’s voice breaking the long silence. Jane continued.

“The streets are littered with Covenant. There’s a good chance they’re pinned down somewhere… Or dead.”

“Command hasn’t said anything,” Saito replied.

“Maybe Command doesn’t know anything. If they lost contact…” Jane trailed off.

A low rumbling sound could be heard from the Old Mombasa end of the tunnel. Something very large was on its way down the highway from the long causeway outside.

“I’ll jump on the gun,” Saito announced quickly referring to the large turret on the back of the Warthog.

“No. Wait,” Jane replied with her right hand raised, signalling to Saito not to act too hastily.

The rumbling that was gradually getting louder was familiar to Private Pinciotti. It was clearly a vehicle of some kind, but it wasn’t the high-pitched engines of the Covenant that Jane could hear. This had to be UNSC. Had she been wrong about Corporal Palmer’s squad? Had they survived? She turned over her left shoulder and glared down the enclosed highway. A surge of hope rose up within the Private once she comprehended what she was seeing grinding its way closer.

“A Scorpion tank?” Saito asked.

Jane had never ridden in a Scorpion before, but that’s what it looked like according to her training. She knew it was controlled by two operators hidden within its near impenetrable armouring, but she also saw two marines sitting on either side of the exterior of the titanic vehicle. They each held a battle rifle while sitting at the front of each tread. As they got closer, Jane saw that one of them looked rather soft for a marine. She figured the UNSC had to take what they could get these days. The other marine, an olive-skinned female, appeared to be firm and controlled.

The Scorpion was almost in line with their Warthog when Jane caught a glimpse of aqua up ahead. This tank crew could not have timed it any more perfectly. Up ahead was a thick half-closed floodgate. Jane could see two Jackal Minors standing on the lower half of the gate. They were ducking low in order to avoid being seen, but with their large obnoxious shield gauntlets, they were impossible to miss. They must have been scouting for a Covenant squad on the other side of the floodgate. Jane gripped the steering wheel of the Warthog and slammed her foot on the pedal. She drove down a ramp onto the highway and sped forward towards their enemies.

A large metal slug was fired from the Scorpion’s main canon before Pinciotti and Saito arrived at the floodgate. It struck the top of the lower half right between the Jackals and blew their bodies backwards-diagonally into the hidden road behind them. Jane parked the Warthog immediately before the floodgate after the explosion to wait for the Scorpion. The floodgate, which was clearly jammed, blocked the entire highway ahead. The only way forward was to go around it. Not even the Scorpion would be able to blast through such thick metal. There was a narrow ramp to the right that sloped up to a pathway like the one Jane had just driven her Warthog from.

The Scorpion slowed to a stop behind the Warthog. Jane and Saito dismounted their vehicle with their weapons ready as the male and female marine on the tank slid off the treads onto the ground. They all looked to the hatches at the top of the Scorpion to await the operating crew. Jane had been expecting both hatches to open due to the fact that such a tank was always operated by two soldiers. Instead, only one hatch opened, and out climbed the last person Jane had been expecting to see.

It was rare enough to see a Spartan-II super-soldier once in a lifetime, which was why when the fully-armoured tinman had left Jane’s squad on Cairo Station she’d assumed she would never see him again. He stepped off the side of the Scorpion silently in his high-tech yet simple-looking MJOLNIR Mark Six battle suit. Jane held no admiration for such an inhuman fighter. His face was hidden entirely and she remembered the lack of emotion she’d in his voice; the lack of concern he had shown toward Donnie’s death. No matter how Jane felt about the imposing Spartan in front of her, she knew the UNSC would be relying on him one way or another to end this battle in New Mombasa. She approached the soldier.

“Intel suggests it’s tight quarters on the other side, sir,” Jane said, presenting her shotgun to him. “Use this.”

The Master Chief hesitated only for a second before reaching down and taking the weapon from the Private. He handed her an SMG in return. He could not have passed her a weapon that looked more worse-for-wear, Jane thought. It was bent, battered and covered in sand and cement as well as indigo, cyan and red blood. She did not allow herself to dwell over the red. If the Spartan was handing it to her, she had to assume it still functioned. She had little choice other than to trust the man.

“Thanks,” said the Spartan.

His voice managed to sound harsh even while thanking her. Perhaps he just has a naturally stern voice, she pondered. Still, it didn’t exactly make her feel at ease.

“What’s your objective, Private?” The Chief asked.

“We’ve been instructed to wait for a squad, sir,” Jane answered. “We’ve yet to receive new orders.”

A new unexpected voice replied from the Spartan’s direction. It was the AI, Cortana.

“I’ll have you reassigned to our mission,” said the AI. “We’re headed to Uplift Nature Reserve near the space port. The gravity lift that’s being beamed down from the Covenant carrier should be accessible from the wildlife reserve. That’s our destination.”

That was a suicide mission if ever Jane had heard one. The Master Chief aimed to enter the Covenant capital ship from directly below. Private Pinciotti could cover the Spartan during the journey, but she couldn’t see herself offering anything from inside the belly of the beast. She would have to cross that bridge when she got to it. She knew that the Covenant on the other side of this floodgate were aware of their presence. The first obstacle was to push past their forces and back into to sunlight.

Jane’s new squad consisting of the Master Chief, Private Ortiz, Private Newton, Private Saito and herself move up the ramp beside the thick gate, leaving their vehicles behind. Jane found an immediate change of scene. The lights in this part of the tunnel were much less effective. They were dim and likely damaged, which made the tunnel much darker than it was behind them. The other difference was that, while there were some abandoned civilian vehicles here and there in the last section of the tunnel, there were now many empty cars and buses banked up closely together in this section. This is what Command had implied when they told Pinciotti and Saito that it would be tight quarters. The path ahead was blocked by a wide storage box. Jane wondered if the Covenant had planted it there to force them down onto the road.

“The Covenant are hiding amongst the cars,” said the Master Chief.

Jane could not personally see any movement, but the Spartan seemed sure of himself. She looked down at the vehicles. There were two clear paths through the cars and buses that could lead them back to the sidewalk on the other of the storage box. Jane suspected these paths had been deliberately cleared to lure them into an ambush.

“There are more in the path to the left,” the Spartan said, clearly seeing something that Jane couldn’t. “I’ll take that one.”

Presumably, the implied part of his sentence was to instruct everyone else to take the nearer path on the right. Jane figured she should take the point. Not only was she slightly higher ranked than the others, being a Private First Class, she was also the only marine with a shorter ranged weapon. That, and there was also the fact that the only person she trusted enough to get them through this pathway alive was herself. She knew what the Spartan had achieved on Cairo, and therefore trusted her shotgun to him. However, she couldn’t help but feel a little regret now while looking down at her mistreated SMG he had handed her. Jane heard a loud crack from the shotgun. The Chief was already fighting his way down his path.  

“Let’s go,” Jane whispered.

The marines kept their cover. They moved forward in single file; ducking behind one car, sprinting across to the next and then crouching down again. After moving forward about ten metres, Jane heard some shuffling over the next bend. She slowly peered over the top of the car’s bonnet that she now hid behind and aimed along the top of her submachine gun. The Jackal Minor screeched earsplittingly to alert its squad mates that the humans had reached them, all the while Jane could hear the Spartan fighting his way through his more crowded path.

Suddenly, the scenery around Jane lit up. It flashed blue and green as the Covenant leapt out from behind the cars ahead and began shooting at the marines. Green beads of light whizzed closely past Jane’s helmet down the path behind her followed by the occasional stream of blue. The Jackal at the front began charging its plasma pistol. Unlike the Grunts, the Jackals were prone to using the pistols’ charging function rather than simply to fire as many shots as they could in rapid succession. This caused the end of the Jackal’s pistol to slowly grow a large, glaringly bright green ball. The Jackal released one of its claws from the handle of its plasma pistol causing the green ball of light to surge forwards in Janes direction. Jane dropped down behind the wheels of the vehicle as the plasma struck the side of the car, melting partially through the metal. The charged plasma shot had bent in Jane’s direction unlike any regular shots could. It seemed to have tried to follow her movement. Had she been a little more out-in-the-open, it would have been impossible to dodge the shot.

Before the Jackal could begin charging its weapon a second time, Jane looked down the top of her SMG once again. She lined up the sights of the weapon until they met the exact notch at the side of the Jackal’s aqua-coloured shield in her vision. If she shot her submachine gun through cut-out in the shield she could damage the Jackal’s pistol-wielding talon, and in doing so, cause it to flinch back and lower its shield. Then, either she or the other marines could take it down by shooting it in its exposed head or light-armoured torso. She held down the trigger of the SMG and fired it directly into the Jackal. She missed the notch. The weapon was not as accurate as she would have liked. Bullets bounced off the Jackal Minor’s shield into the car beside it. Jane dropped to the floor as another wave of plasma was fired in her direction including a charged Jackal shot.

Jane glanced at the path to the left. She could hear the gargling of dying Elites. The Chief was pressing forward. Despite crouching with her face close to the road below her, Jane could see the Spartan’s helmet passing between gaps in the scenery. Through the windows and spaces, she saw that the super-soldier never fully stopped moving. He was constantly pushing forwards, strafing sideways, ducking and jumping. The entire time, he managed to maintain accuracy with his shotgun.

Jane tried again to take the Jackal down before her. She could hear and see with her peripheral vision that her fellow marines were also firing; some at the Jackal and others at semi-obscured Elites and Grunts behind it. It was situations like this when Covenant infantry was at its strongest. All three common Covenant ground units were supported one another. The high-numbered Grunts were ferocious while fighting beside their Elite commanders. The Jackals with their shields were able to keep their allies aware, all the while blocking UNSC bullets from entering the crowd behind them; and the taller, strategic Elites watched from behind, providing orders and feedback during the battle.

Jane fired. This time she struck her target. Purple blood spilt out from the Jackal’s pistol hand as its shielded arm dropped back. It stumbled backwards in attempt to keep its balance, but another spit of purple splashed out from its neck as Saito finished it off with his battle rifle. The aqua shield extinguished itself as the creature’s body hit the floor. Jane moved up to into cover behind her next car.

Next in Jane’s sights were a group of Grunts. She found it more difficult to find the time to aim down her sights as the Grunts kept firing in continuous succession. Fortunately, the uncharged shots were smaller and straighter, making them easier to monitor. What’s more, if the Grunts kept firing rapidly without stopping; their weapons would overheat, potentially burning the aliens’ stubby fingers. Jane waited. After only a few more seconds, there was a pause. The Grunts had stopped firing in order to let their pistols cool down before overheating. Without aiming too accurately down the sights, she straightened up into a kneeling position, held the SMG’s stock to her shoulder and fired a horizontal sweep of the weapon across the Grunts. Their pointed gas tanks hit the ground behind them first as their bodies mimicked the death of the earlier Jackal Minor.

They moved further up the path, and this time, faced a Jackal Major with an orange shield as well as a Jackal Minor and more Grunts. The path was becoming progressively more difficult, and the marines did not have the stamina to be doing this all day. Nevertheless, they fired their weapons, aiming for the Grunts’ round heads and the notches in the Jackal’s shields again. Both Jane and Newton had close calls as charged plasma shots came very close, but eventually they took out each of the Grunts in this group and the Jackal Minor. It was the Major that they had trouble with.

The Jackal Major, upon realising that these humans were no pushovers as it had been expecting, ducked backwards behind a car of its own. Jane realised the four of them could easily take out this Jackal if they ran forwards and shot around the car, but that would leave them exposed to all Covenant further ahead. The Elites would certainly have no trouble taking them out like that. Jane could still see the Jackal. It was no Elite, but it was tall enough that she could see the top of its head peaking up behind the car it hid behind while also being obscured by the semi-transparent orange of the top of the Major’s shield. Battle rifle bullets bounced off the shield. Jane had an idea. She turned back and saw a plasma pistol by the feet of Private Ortiz.

“Ortiz!” Jane yelled. “Can you slide that this way?”

Ortiz kicked the alien gun forwards along the ground toward Private Pinciotti. Jane picked up the weapon and began holding down the touch-sensitive hieroglyph on the handle that formed the Covenant’s version of a trigger. The weapon vibrated violently in her hand as it charged up. Her arms and chest reflected the green light that grew before her. Jane stood up momentarily, aimed the gun forward and released her finger off the hieroglyph. Just as she’d hoped, the green ball flew over the top of the Jackal’s cover and splashed down over its shield. She’d fought fire with fire. The hardlight shield dissolved upon impact with the plasma. Immediately after, the tip of the Jackal’s skull split open from the BR bullets fired by the rest of Jane’s squad. The purple blood painted the roof of the car the Jackal had hid behind.

Jane and the squad moved forward a few more cars. This time, no aliens jumped out at them. She heard the Elites at the back barking incomprehensible commands. Pinciotti had no way of interpreting the alien language, but she had to presume the Covenant were changing techniques. They had initially overestimated the small human squad, and in response, they were now copying their technique of firing only from behind cover. Jane crouched still behind her current vehicle cover. She’d already dropped the plasma pistol behind her. She preferred the more human and less awkward SMG however damaged it might be as well at the magnum on her hip. There were plenty of plasma pistols scattered across the road if she needed to backtrack and retrieve one again.  She thought hard. If the Covenant were no longer jumping out, how could they push forward? Jane was stumped.  

“Any ideas?” She asked the rest of the squad.

“We could wait,” Saito replied. “They can’t hide forever.”

They can wait,” spoke up Ortiz, “but we can’t. If we don’t get a move on, either that Scarab will have demolished the entire city or the Prophet of Regret will glass us all.”

Scarab? Jane thought. She and Saito had heard a loud mechanical noise passing over the tunnel while they had been waiting in the Warthog earlier. A Scarab might explain the fate of Corporal Palmer’s squad, but this Prophet of Regret held no meaning to the Private. She didn’t recall having heard the name before. Whatever it meant, Ortiz was right. They couldn’t live in this tunnel.

It seemed the Covenant were having similar thoughts because suddenly a loud roar came from one of the Elites followed by a stampede of Covenant charging forward towards them. Grunts, Jackals and Elites rushed forward. More flashes of blue and green lit up the road and cars. There was far too much plasma fire flying around for Jane or the other marines to return fire. They were pinned down, and the Covenant were closing in fast. Jane could feel her heart pumping at a thousand miles an hour. Shaking hands gripped her SMG tightly drenching the grips in sweat. I guess this is where I die, Jane thought.

She stared down at her gun. Her eyes blurred as she reminisced over her past. She thought back to her time with Donnie during the voyage from Sigma Octanus to Earth. She remembered her family back on Arcadia; her father, her mother, her younger brother and how she used to love their annual camping trips in the summer. She remembered sneaking out late at night to meet with high school friends. Her thoughts returned to Donnie and their planned future on Solace. They had eventually decided their two houses in the lush, tropical jungles would become one. Jane closed her eyes. Her shaking ceased as she allowed herself to relax, smiling in the darkness.

Jane waited patiently for her death, only it did not come. She could now hear less plasma fire being shot in her direction, and heard the return fire of three UNSC battle rifles. Her eyes flicked open. It seemed the Master Chief had had enough of the left path. He was currently standing atop a caved in dip on the roof of a blue bus with shattered windows. Bang! Chck-chck. Bang! Chck-chck. Bang! The Spartan reclipped his shotgun after each shot. The Covenant units approaching the marines were drawing back one-by-one upon realising the greater threat of the green and black Demon to the side. Only a few Grunts still seemed interested in the marines, and in the excitement of it all, they very typically lost their accuracy. They fell to their deaths before the marines who then redirected their fire to the large horde of aliens flocking toward the Chief.

The outside of the Spartan’s armour flashed gold, just as Jane had seen it do so on Cairo. She knew he had his own energy shields like those the Covenant used on their ships and Elites. The Chief jumped down onto the right path and began meleeing Grunts and Jackals between shotgunning down Elites. Jane and the marines assisted from behind. Before long, the humans stood over a pile of mangled aliens carcasses as the Spartan’s energy shields rose around him, charging back to full strength. They trod onwards to where the cars began to disperse, and then climbed back to the footpath on the side.

The Master Chief led the team along the side of the darkened tunnel. Trailing a few metres behind him, Saito and Newton were paired up together, and further behind at the back walked Pinciotti and Ortiz bringing in the rear. Jane watched the Spartan ahead curiously. Had he not been present, the marines certainly would have died, and yet, Jane couldn’t bring it upon herself to truly appreciate what she saw as a hulking mesh of metal that happened to maintain a human silhouette. She spoke softly to the marine beside her as she walked.

“What do you think of the Spartan?” Jane asked Ortiz.

“The Chief? I’d say we sorely need him in this fight,” she replied. “If you think the Covenant graveyard we just left between those cars was big, you should see the state we left the ones on the bridge. We had a tank, mind you, but so did the Covenant. Wraiths, Banshees… all dead.”

Jane considered this and then replied.

“Well, he’s certainly a killing machine. Doesn’t quite seem the comrade type though, does he?” She wasn’t sure if she was pressing her luck, but to her relief, Ortiz bought into the conversation.

“I don’t know if a comrade is what we need from him right now,” said Ortiz, “But there is something you might find interesting; just a rumour I had dismissed when I first heard there was a Spartan on Earth. They call him the last Spartan.”

“The last Spartan?” Jane echoed.

She had wondered why she’d not heard about any other Spartans being on Earth, but she figured there must have been more up in the orbital defence platforms. Perhaps there were others searching for Covenant bombs to throw back at the alien ships just as the Chief had done. Ortiz continued.

“According to one of the marines assigned to our squad,” she said nodding towards Newton, who was also part of Ortiz’s initial platoon, “The Master Chief was the leader of the Spartans. Once the Covenant discovered Reach, he abandoned them all. Left them behind, never to return.”

A rumour was a rumour, Jane knew, but this information supported the view of the Chief that she was starting to establish in her head. He had no personality. Supposedly he was genetically human, but he was difficult to perceive as anything other than a weapon. He was a valuable tool for the UNSC to use against the Covenant, a powerful asset, but he was no friend. He lacked empathy. He lacked values. He did not seem to care for anything other than his immediate mission, and Jane supposed that’s all the UNSC needed him for.

“Let’s hope none of us get hit then,” Jane said. “If we fall behind, I don’t see him ever coming back for us, and unless he’s directly ordered to, I don’t see him ever going back for anyone.”

“I wouldn’t read too much into rumours,” Ortiz frowned. “The speculation is… intriguing, but don’t get bogged down by tales. We have a mission to complete. We help the Chief get to that carrier, and then we wait for our next assignment.”

Ortiz was right. Jane was there to do a job. If she did it correctly then she wouldn’t be left behind. The marines simply needed to avoid another situation like the one down on the road. They were not going to get pinned down like that again. The squad stopped beside a doorway in the tunnel wall. A sign was plastered next to it stating, “Notice: Entrance for Employees Only.”

“This way,” directed the Spartan.

The marines stepped through one by one. This time the Spartan followed at the rear. The chamber within was circular and opened to the sky far above. It was a gritty, dirty maintenance way that felt very claustrophobic to Jane in spite of the fact that she could finally see the clouds up above. There were several round, tight, concrete tunnels spiralling off into different directions. They headed through the middle tunnel in single file, which ramped upwards. After a short bend, Jane began to feel like she could breathe again. She felt the warm air blowing around her as wind whistled down the manmade tube.

After only a short walk, Jane saw the clouds up ahead. Rays of sunlight pierced white clouds overhead on the right, which turned yellow and then red towards the centre of the island. Jane stepped out into the light atop a high ledge. She hadn’t realised just how much she’d been longing for a change of scenery until she took in her new environment. Down below was a circular park that Jane guessed to be about one hundred metres in diameter. Trimmed green grass covered almost all of the park aside from the glimmering ripples of pond in the middle. Neat walkways joined four circular platforms over the centre pond with park benches around the edges. Several medium-sized oak trees stood proudly around the outside of the grassy parkland, which was encase in an enormous glass dome framed by cream-coloured metal. Half of the dome was currently left half open to the bare sky. Immense skyscrapers towered overhead. The towers of New Mombasa dwarfed all other buildings in this part of the continent, but they were of no concern to Jane, who now absorbed the sun’s rays while admiring the greenery before her.

“Welcome to Kilindini Cultural Centre,” said Cortana’s voice from the Spartan behind Jane.

Of course, the admiration was short-lived. They were not alone. Purple and blue supply crates, glowing plasma batteries, cylindrical gas tanks, stationary shield generators, communication nodes and other Covenant materials covered the centre platforms. Covenant Ghosts whirled about, skimming over the grass as they chased a lone Warthog driver around the park. Elites, Grunts, Jackals Scouts and Jackal Snipers all hopped about over the platforms above the pond. This place belonged to the Covenant. What’s more, Jane could see the humongous Scarab manoeuvring about past the outside of the dome.

Private Pinciotti squinted at a gap between New Mombasa’s skyscrapers to the left. She could see a part of the space elevator looking closer than ever, and right beside it was a piece of the Covenant capital ship peeking out through the clouds. Their destination was near, as was humanity’s chance at uncovering the reason the Covenant had chosen to land solely in New Mombasa, because of course that’s why the Spartan needs to board the carrier, Jane thought, and she was going to get him there. This was the most important battle the human race had ever faced, and like hell was she going to let Donnie Vusaro die without a cause. The marine looked down at the Covenant below. She didn’t have didn’t know how exactly she would get the Spartan to his destination, but she was going to find out very soon.  


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