They wouldn't make it in time. They're pinned down halfway across the city, unable to move from their position on their own. Much less with an explosive prepared to take down a warship. They're trapped.
"Close the hatch Captain. Evac is leaving." the voice next to him is melancholy. She knows what that means.
They are being left behind.
He nods slowly and presses the hatch button, heart heavy. His team is surprised for a moment that there's no arguments.
And then he makes a break for it.
"Captain it's suicide to go back-"
He doesn't hear any protests made by his team. He doesn't care to. No one gets left behind.
The drop is easier than any made from orbit - by a long shot really. Just short of a klick from the ground, rather than several hundred. He doesn't even have to recover from the crater he's left in the ground.
But nothing else is easy from there.
"Jamie, this is Spartan Gale do you copy? Spartan Gale closing in on your position do you copy ?" At first there is no response in his radio and he sighs loudly, praying to anyone that may listen to keep Jamie and Sarah safe for just a moment longer.
"Copy, Spartan Gale. We see you in the Square." Relief washes over him when he hears the familiar voice and only for half a second does he look up to the balcony of a building on the farside, in time to see the flash of a deadly scope.
The crack of that rifle, and the thud of whatever had been behind them.
"Where's the rest of the team, Captain?" It's Miri's turn to speak, and ever on the objective she is. He is thankful for that.
"Evac has been called across the city." It's the only answer either of them need. They know what it means, and he can hear it in the silence that is returned.
They are alone in this city overrun by Covenant. Above them is the capital ship, Unto The Journey Great , preparing to set everything below aflame.
"We're not going to make it out in time Captain. Why did you come back?"
He doesn't really need to answer that question as he fights his way through the hostiles, blasting and tearing them apart one by one, with no show of exhaustion. Only when he finally makes it to the doors of the building they hide in does he feel to respond.
"I don't leave my team behind."
"Then what's your plan? We're not going to make it out. You know that. They'll kill us before we can try."
"You still have that warhead?" They look at each other as the Captain takes off his helmet and enters the balcony with them. The warhead sits between them.
"Yes? Okay." A curt nod as he leans down and picks it up, strapping it to his utility belt. "If we can't leave then we'll take the Covenant with us, at least." As he helps them up, he puts his helmet back on and takes a deep breath.
"Well, Captain, how do you suppose we're going to deliver that without any ships?"
"There's a small outpost on the edge of the city with Phantoms. I've marked it on his NAV." Valkyrie, ever helpful she is, and upbeat. As if the four of them are not presently being marched to their certain death.
On the way there it is strangely quiet; likely thanks to the littering of bodies in the streets that the Captain had already traversed to get to them. It doesn't settle the uneasy feeling Jamie has. It doesn't sit right that Lucifer seems willing to sacrifice them for the greater good.
He was never willing to do that.
The thoughts are lost as they approach the outpost. It is swarming with Covenant, and by no means small.
"Captain… I don't know if we'll get to a ship before-" He's already gone, jump jets sending him skyward - directly into the fray.
Jamie and Miri, despite having their helmets on, turn to each other to share a familiar emotion. Fear. And then they duck into cover and start shooting.
Hardly even a few minutes pass them by, but eternity feels shorter, with endless waves of Covenant pouring in from dropships and the streets behind them. They ran out of ammo for their own weapons all too long ago. Now they're scrounging for alien tech and hoping they live. The Captain shows no signs of slowing - having abandoned his own weapons long ago in favor of his fists. They are just as deadly.
"Go to the Phantom in the back!" None of them argue against Valkyrie's orders, making a break for it in the quiet. Jamie and Miri make it aboard. Lucifer is cut off by the sound of jets.
"Try and get it going you two. I'll hold off the brutes."
"Captain neither of us are pilots!" Panic.
"I'll establish a remote connection. But we cannot risk those brutes getting aboard with us."
Lucifer takes a deep breath and turns to face them. Three of them have Gravity Hammers. For the first time since becoming a Spartan, his hands shake.
Plasma cannon charging. He'll have to thank Valkyrie for the not-so-gentle reminder later, as he lifts his arm and blasts the first one away.
It doesn't charge fast enough to stop the second one as it leaps towards him. On instinct, he rolls out of the way. The flattened face just barely misses him. The EMP charge knocks him down again. The hammer comes down again. He manages to kick it back with his feet. The next one charges forward as he moves to stand to his feet again. A grenade from one of the other brutes catches his chest.
"Connection established! Weapons-"
The blade connects.
A howl of pain. The laugh of his enemy, dark and sinister, as he pushes him to his knees. He grasps the handle of the hammer weakly with one hand. The other one will not move. He cannot let it go deeper.
The spray of machine gun fire distracts the beast towering above him.
A plasma shot barrels through its chest and he collapses in front of him. He doesn't remember raising his functioning arm. But there it is, cannon smoking.
With all the weight of the world on his shoulder, he cannot come off his knees.
"Captain? Captain we need to go!" They do not yet realize.
Another groan of pain as he disconnects the blade from the rest of the hammer. Pulling it out entirely would certainly mean death.
"I'm coming." followed by heavy coughing. Blood stains the inside of his visor. He tries not to think about it as the grav lift pulls him into the ship.
He tries to ignore the soft gasp through the comms as they see him. Somehow. Jamie knowing that he's hurt, is more painful than the blade lodged in his shoulder.
"Captain we have to get you out of here!" He definitely ignores Miri's exclamation as he pulls off his jump jets. His vision blurs slightly as he puts it in her hands. He pulls Valkyrie from his helm and hands her to them.
"Those jets should get you to the ground safely. We'll get shot down in this ship."
It's like a flashing light in that very second. He never intended to sacrifice them. He never would.
"Captain what about you? We're not leaving you-" He picks them up, makes sure they're strapped in together, and sets them over the side of the ship.
"Valkyrie has an activated homing beacon on you two. Get somewhere safe and wait for evac."
An ache, deep and ancient, sets in his chest. Even as he ignores it and readjusts the course of the phantom, it spreads throughout his bones. His hand shakes slightly.
"Do you really think Halsey would make it that easy for you to separate a girl from her suit?" Valkyrie's voice is welcome, surprisingly. A soft chuckle. It turns into a coughing fit. More blood in his visor.
"You can pull my mainframe and all my data but functionally, I'm pretty much stuck in this suit, big guy." His hand starts moving of its own accord. His body relaxes, as much as it can. She takes over.
The silence stretches for far too long. He almost falls asleep. He's so tired. He doesn't remember exhaustion like this.
"Hey. Hey. Don't fall asleep on me buddy. I don't know what your plan is. I need you to guide me through it."
"'s just a short nap. You're still plugged into my head aren't you?"
"Not without that chip. And even then I can't read anything with you asleep."
That's right. He'd given it to Jamie and Miri.
Hopefully they landed safely.
"Take..Take us to the extraction drill."
"Ok..ok. Adjusting course. Can you tell me your plan big guy?" Her voice is laced with worry. He doesn't really know why. He's fine. Just tired.
The ache within him has become numb. The blade has been forgotten.
"I'm gonna...Set off the warhead… In the Phantom's reactor.. Just under the drill.."
"Do you think we'll make it before the drill is powered up?"
"Use...use my shields for boost," After a second he can feel his shields break, and a soft groan escapes him as the ship shudders.
"I guess I have the controls from here, buddy. Let's go plant that bomb." He nods. The motion makes him dizzy. The trip to the engines on the ship feels equivalent to walking through the desert. His legs shake. His body trembles. Valkyrie holds him steady.
"Drill's at 90%, Captain. We'll be under it soon." Her words are hardly a comfort as he sets the warhead down next to the plasma reactors.
"Fly us into it."
"With all your data in that chip you can relocate can't you?"
"Fly us into the drill and relocate. That's an order."
Stubborn silence as the ship gains altitude.
"Drill is at 98%." He holds his fist out. Plasma cannon charging .
"I'm sorry Captain." The plasma cannon powers down. Shield capacity at 350%. The ships lights' flicker.
Shield capacity at 500%.
The warhead primes. His legs start moving of their own accord.
"We don't leave our team behind."
His eyes stay open long enough to watch as the Phantom goes up in flames.
The drill cuts through it and the warhead blows.
He wakes to the sound of a gentle beacon.
"Mayday. Mayday. This is Prototype Mjolnir A.I. Valkyrie requesting immediate evac. Mayday, mayday."
From what little of his visor he can still see, gentle words flash across his screen. He can hardly piece it together.
Don't let them down, Captain.
His eyes close again and he catches a distant voice.
"We read you loud and clear, Valkyrie. Closing in on your position in t-minus 2 minutes."