(AUTHOR'S NOTES: The first new post of a new years, sounds pretty tight and now it's time to get back to the action with the Tartarus boys! Also after this... I have an apology. So, here goes...)
Reach Time: 13:30
Date: January 20th 2552 (7 Months and 10 Days before Reach falls)
Location: Sword Base, Helipad
Corbett was still shaken as me and Cyph3r made our way across the helipad towards the giant and the shivering pilot. I looked at the floor. Not a word to the others. Although Cyph3r was in high hopes and it wasn't until he spoke that we also noticed Sypderman had joined our party: "Why, Hello again..."
It was when he looked towards me, I looked up "You really have to stop following us." was the only response I could muster and the courier simply brought out his package. It was a large piece of machinery with a large, flat screen. I recognized it. Cyph3r however, had no idea as he circled the device swearing as he tried to figure out what it was. "What the fuck..." the commander groaned "I don't understand what the hell this is...?" Rod scratched his helmet. Johnathon began making the preparations to leave and Mitchell, the courier, handed me a clip board and pen. "Xiang addressed it to you said you'd have to fit it." I took the pen and signed the pad watching Cyph3r through my silver visor still pacing around the machine. "So you know what this is?"
"I do sir, yes."
"Well, what is it?"
I surveyed it myself, tracing my fingers around the screen before answering my superior "It's a mobile command unit. You fir it into most UNSC vehicles, save Mongoose quad bikes... that would just be awkward." Rodriguez laughed and Cyph3r too, sniggered to himself but he was still more interested in the shiny new toy we were about to install. He danced around as I took it apart, giggled gleefully as I fit the pilot module in the cockpit and then once I installed the screen in the back; purred with delight. "Do you think we could get TV signal on this, pimp my Falcon style?" I laughed. Cyph3r though was deadly serious and even our courier acquaintance was interested in the possibility. I, however, could not actually grant their wish. I had to shatter their dreams and actually explain what the module did. "It's for communicating with base, i.e Xiang, while in transit. It can be used for..."
"For?" beckoned Cyph3r
Johnathon let out a small "yipee" from the cockpit over the newly reinstalled PA system. The fact we had this meant that we were about to be sent on a new mission; the fact we had this meant that the briefing was actually imminent. It was. The screen flickered on before I even gave it the go ahead, Xiang's face on screen but not alone, with her was Colonel Holland. Noble Team's babysitter.
"Tartarus, meet Holland. He'll also be helping during this joint operation."
The colonel said nothing, only nodded at us and we weren't at all impressed. A simple "Hello" would've been nice but apparently, Holland, was not much different from his team at all. Instead, he was just a normal person in a fancy white uniform. Xiang looked nervous with him present on screen and we watched her light her cigarette to calm her nerves. Cyph3r growled uneasily at the screen. "Orso, if you'd please upload those disk into the drive..."
instructed Xiang "Halsey, wanted me to have them." I wasn't sure how she even knew about the two discs but I followed her orders inserting the tiny squares into the slots on the terminal. The console whirred, it then ejected the extra two screens that the module contained and Johnathon, in delight laughed as all three screens were now displayed holographically on his pilot's HUD.
Xiang surveyed the data she was receiving; scanning relentlessly. The whole of Tartarus looked towards the screens and Spyder who was only supposed to be a temporary addition to the group had copped a seat for himself. "I love movies, what is it? A horror? A comedy?" Scowls met his questions but not answers and Xiang after looking at the data herself began her briefing...
"As you can see, we have two sheep missing from the flock that's why this mission is called JOINT OPERATION SHEPARD-"
"Oooo! Metaphors now."
"Be quiet Cyph3r!" Xiang replied to the cheeky comment form the Commander. Holland just rolled his eyes at us, coughing suggestively as he did. It ground my gears. Xiang though continued: "We will be teaming up with MUSE and NOBLE to capture these two Spartans and return them to Storm Control," our carrier sighed taking a long drag of her dwindling cigarette and looked at me, I wasn't actually sure if she was looking at me but her eyes buried behind my visor looking at me, naked, bare and alone. "You will be assigned mixed teams and briefed by your team leaders on your team's individual mission. Now, take Sypderman with you and go to this area... Camp has been set up there for you with Muse and Noble waiting."
The third screen held a location in the Espoz Wasteland. A small, run down facility had Mallik's men posted all around it and they worked hard like bees for their Queen buzzing with activity. I just surveyed the picture. Thought to myself and clambered onto the Falcon's gunner seat as I was before; Rodriguez copied me and Cyph3r and Sypder both mirrored one and other leaning back, rifles on their lap and their legs spread out almost filling the whole of the passenger area. It was then suddenly that Cyph3r, almost jumping out of his seat looked towards the courier suspiciously and asked a question that none of us had thought of.
"How did you eve get here?"
The propeller blades began to spin quickly kicking up dust and blinding the workers littered around the area. We just looked around and I hardly said anything.
"Hey Orso." whispered Rod, nudging me "Cheer up. That Tanja bird's going to be there at least. You dirty boy." I laughed to myself: "Yeah, I suppose."