Table of Contents
|Chapter 1 |Chapter 2 |Chapter 3 |Chapter 4 |Chapter 5 |
|Chapter 6 |Chapter 7 |Chapter 8 |Chapter 9 |Chapter 10 |
|Chapter 11 |Chapter 12 |Chapter 13 |Chapter 14 |Chapter 15 |
|Chapter 16 |Chapter 17 |Chapter 18 |Chapter 19 |Chapter20 |
|Chapter 21 |Chapter 22 |Chapter 23 |Chapter 24 |Chapter 25 |
|Chapter 26 |Chapter 27 |Chapter 28 |Chapter 29 |Chapter 30 |
|Chapter 31 |Chapter 32 |Chapter 33 |Chapter 34 |Chapter 35 |
|Chapter 36 |Chapter 37 |Chapter 38 |Chapter 39 |Chapter 40 |
|Chapter 41 | || | |
| | | | | |
Linda's medical data winked on a display along with the entire Spartan roster: a long list of every Spartan's current operational status. Only a handful was left, almost every one of them listed as wounded in action or missing in action.
"No KIAs?"Dr. Halsey murmured. She touched SPARTAN-034's entry. "Sam is listed as missing in action. Why would that be? He died in 2525."
"ONI Section Two Directive Nine-Three-Zero," Cortana replied. "When ONI went public with the Spartan-II program it was decided that reports of Spartan losses could cause a crippling loss of morale. Consequently, any Spartan casualties are listed as MIA or WIA, inorder to maintain the illusion that Spartans do not die."
"Spartans never die?" she whispered. Dr. Halsey swiveled out of the contour chair and pushed the monitors out of her way with a sudden violence. "If only that were true."
—HALO: First Strike, page 249
BETA COMPANY'S VICTORY AT PEGASI DELTA
1135 HOURS, JULY 3, 2545 (MILITARY CALENDAR) \
51 PEGASI-B SYSTEM,TARGET AREA APACHE, PLANET
The orbital pod impacted, and metal wrenched and sparked. Inside his cocoon of titanium, lead foil, and stealth ablative coating, SPARTAN-B292 watched black stars explode across his vision, he tasted blood in his mouth, and the last air compressed from his lungs.
Tom's training kicked in: he pulled the pod's twisted frame apart and blinked in thebright blue sunlight.
Something was wrong. 85 Pegasi-914A was supposed to be a faint yellow sun. This was electric blue—boiling plasma blue.
He jumped, rolling to one side as the blast washed over him. The outer layers of his Semi-Powered Infiltration armor boiled and peeled like a bad sunburn.
"Training," his instructor, Lieutenant Commander Ambrose, had said. "Your trainingmust become part of your instinct. Drill until it becomes part of your bones." Tom reacted without thought; a lifetime of training took over.
He raised his MA5K assault rifle and fired along the trajectory of the plasma bolt, making sure to sweep low.
His eyes cleared, and as he automatically reloaded his weapon, he finally saw the surface of Pegasi Delta. It could have been hell: redrocks; orange dust-filled sky; the scars of a dozen impact skids and craters around him; and thirty meters ahead, dark purple splashes of Jackal blood soaking into the sand.
Tom pulled out his Sidearm and warily moved to the fallen aliens. There were five with extensive wounds to their lower legs. He shot them each once in their odd angular vulturelike heads, then he knelt, relieved them oftheir plasma grenades, and stripped off their forearm force shields.
Although Tom wore a full suit of Semi-Powered Infiltration armor (colloquially called "SPI" armor by Section Three techno-philes), its hardened plates and photo-reactive panels could only take a few glancing shots before failing. The armor's camouflag-ing textures sputtered and stabilized, however; and once again blended...
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