Chapter 9: Cradle of Hope

"So, is everyone here?" Siris inquired looking around the room. They all stood tight and snug in the main operator room observing the monitors behind Siris. He looked at the keyboard and pressed a few sequences of keys bringing up a new window of data. "As you can see, we have finished decrypting the data. Wasn't easy seeing as how it was encrypted with some high level techniques, but that makes getting this all the more worth it. Now that we have cracked it, I'm sure you are all curious just what it was that we had you all risk your lives for."

He pointed to a specific section of the window guiding everyone's eyes to it. Several murmurs arose at the section of the data. It was information they could have only dreamed of obtaining in their wildest dreams, and yet here it was. It was the history of the terrorist organization 'Cradle of Hope'. Ken leaned in closer to read the various texts regarding the formation of the organization.

It was first formed on a UNSC owned mining planet. Surprisingly they weren't an organization from the start, nor a violent group. Instead they were a group of peaceful individuals who wanted nothing more than for the UNSC to respect the environment of the planets it established mining plants on. The people of the mining planet simply dubbed 'Planet C-043A' had grown to see the effects their activities were having on the environment, and how their actions affected other wildlife. Initially they wished to negotiate possible measures for mutual coexistence between the various inhabitants of the planet so that they could still mine resources within reasonable limits but also protect the environment.

The UNSC it seems didn't take too kindly to this sudden change in the people's hearts. The individuals responsible for the initial steps for the meetings were left distraught as they were ignored and shunned as outcasts by their managers, colleagues and sometimes even family. People were rejected simply for a pure motive of wanting to protect what they believed was important. Because it didn't benefit the human race, their motives were seen like an impure poison that needed to be eradicated before it could spread. But such treatment did not deter these strong willed individuals.

They took to creating peaceful protests. Such activities caught the eyes of more people. More wanted to be educated in their cause and the harm they as humans caused to the planet. Eventually their group began to grow beyond any expectations the original founders had.

But with large numbers comes the issues of management. Their group was nothing more than a rag tag team of activists for the protection of the environment. There was no clear set management structure that could help control the growing power struggles. Eventually their group began to split into sub-groups that followed the same ideals, but had different methods of execution. Some chose to abide by the peaceful ways, while others walked the path of violence. As the UNSC grew more aware of the threat the violent protestors posed, they decided to take drastic measures in suppressing the whole group. Unfortunately for the military, that did not deter their adversaries but instead encouraged them to take even more violent actions. The group began to fight back with all their might.

Eventually UNSC sent down several squads for crowd control, and elimination. But it seems the army had underestimated these miners, after all what could they have done? But the mission that was supposed to be a cake walk for the UNSC turned into a blood bath. When the UNSC pelicans landed, the believers of the violent path stood ready with their tools. When the bay doors opened, they charged towards the soldiers. Without any remorse, pity or a second thought, the miners bathed in the blood of their "enemies".

This small scale civil war against the UNSC caused them to take more drastic actions. The planet was to be shut down, and everyone involved in the bloodbath be sent in for trials. These actions were only the building blocks for what would come to grow into an organization with growing support within the prisons and any members that escaped the UNSC onto other planets. The support had grown silently to keep a low profile. Eventually it was strong enough to garner demands for the establishment of an official organization, 'Cradle of Hope'. They initially tried to do things within the law, but even as an organization they found much petty resistance that hindered their efforts. Greed was the name of the game with corporations who had so closely invested in the various planets across the galaxy.

The desire to do things legally and be respectful of other corporations quickly died down. The ideal of 'equality' twisted into 'power rules all and creates change'. After many failed attempts at being heard, the organization went off the grid and took more violent actions once again to achieve the same results they would have through negotiations. These methods made enough of an impact to warrant a new found confidence.

This was the right path. Even if violence was wrong, it gave birth to seeds for change. Even if that change was to be achieved through force, it was change that would eventually become a natural part of human society. The organization had a clear goal then. It was to stop the humans from abusing planets any further including the one that gave birth to their race. They saw the growing need to bring humans back to the path they should walk instead of the destructive one they were walking. Corruption was rampant, and they believed themselves to be saviors against it.

Their activities had garnered the support of shady organizations as well such as the mob. Whether this was due to absolute beliefs in their cause, or due to the fact that Cradle of Hope made for a good distraction for the law remains unknown. But it is clear that they received massive funding which helped expand their activities to several more planets and eventually back to Earth. The growing aggressiveness of the organization triggered an all out war with the UNSC, one in which Cradle of Hope saw it's light dim and flicker on all fronts of their operations but on Earth.

It was there that was their only safe haven now. The governments had dismissed the threat they posed due to the so little numbers, their mistake. The numbers eventually grew through smartly disguised propaganda. They began to see a resurgence of their sponsors who then helped them begin an efficient chain supply of weapons and other materials. The organization grew through small time jobs that were sometimes within, but most times outside of the law. Once their funding was stable, they were able to stand up on their own two legs again. The organization grew out from its childhood steps and into the world it once knew before. Hell was about to be let loose on Earth. Their targets were clear. To stop the infection that is humans from spreading, it was only logical to target the space centers and airports around the world.

It seems that their actions finally convinced the passive governments that they were not groups of individuals to be trifled with. The threat needed to be stomped out before it could grow any more on Earth. They chose to act quickly and suppress by dividing and conquering them. Every other nation but the USA managed to act in time. However the US was stuck in an infinite loop of internal political conflicts. The people wanted the threat gone, but at the same time there were factors that worked against the government and did not help them in stopping the terrorists. Even if the government wanted to act, the people would just find new ways of protesting them for it. The mass surveillance move was to blame for this. Such legislation caused the people to lose trust in their government.

Thanks to the weakness of the US, the organization found yet another safe territory to sleep in and awaken once again. But while all of this transpired, there were plans in motion secretly to ensure the survivability of their organization. Eventually, instead of relying on simply select few leaders, they opted to elect a board of members from their most trusted group of members. These key members essentially became the living embodiment of their ideals and the limbs of the organization. Cradle of Hope began to take more direct approaches in recruiting new members in comparison to their propaganda in the past. With time, the organization again grew in size, but so did their enemy covert agencies established by the government.

A new threat of being wiped out loomed over their heads, but they were smart enough to take action and destroy any who would stood in their way. Many agencies also destroyed themselves thanks to the eventual acknowledgement of their existence to the public. The people would not take too kindly to being spied upon and would call for the dismantling of these agencies. Cradle of Hope saw an opportunity in this and attacked any buildings related to space traveling.

Sometimes they even attacked military bases with a moderate level of success. Of course the military fought back, but the strategies the terrorists employed were far superior to anything that a normal soldier would expect. However any who were caught during such operations took swift action to prevent any information from being leaked. They would happily give up their own lives for the cause.

Chloe cupped her mouth feeling slightly disturbed at how dedicated their followers are. Ken pointed to an interesting bit of the data. "There is only one person responsible for running the whole organization right now. It seems their board member structure collapsed after assassinations on the members."

"Yes, we get the leader we get the organization," Siris replied but quickly slumped his shoulders. "However the issue lies in the location of the leader. That is the mystery box that remains yet to be found."

"You are telling me that it's not on the data?" Carolina inquired beginning to wonder just how much of a goose chase the ATSG must have gone through in the past trying to track Cradle of Hope down. Siris conformed Carolina's suspicions earning several tired moans from the crowd. Another one of the ATSG members asked. "So what happens now?"

"No clue," the man in the purple trimmed battle suit replied sitting down at the computer desk. "But all I know is that more research will need to be done into this."

"Anything else we should know?" Ken queried at which Siris seemed a little hesitant at first to answer, but quickly recomposed himself. "No…nothing else."

While the rest bought the answer, Chloe was not one to be fooled so easily. "Are you sure Siris?"

He stood up to her eye level with a determined look on his face. "Yes, I'm sure. I have already checked the data twice over. If you don't believe me, be my guest to do this yourself."

She held up her hands submitting the power to him and dispersed with the rest of the group. He watched the gang leave and eyed Ken. Siris shook his head and sat back down in the chair. In a soft whisper he closed shut his eyes and bit the bottom of his lip. "I'm sorry, Ken."

"Again!" Creed roared with great conviction to continue his training until he was able to perfect his fighting. His subordinates walked into the moderately sized ring the General occupied in a large training facility. The men who walked with shaky knees raised their fists. Creed slowly walked towards his men, and kept special attention to his right side. Many were instructed to make use of any opportunity they could use to get him from his blind side.

The men jumped in together. Creed dodged them all by sliding backwards. He stepped forward and kneed one hard in the nose until blood sprayed out. The two jumped at him from his sides. Creed stopped the one to his left in his track and threw him out of the ring. The one to his right managed to get the jump on him and held him by his neck. Creed struggled against the grip and flipped the subordinate over his shoulder. The man landed hard with a loud crack. His back arched upwards in pain as his legs squirmed in the agony that slithered through his body.

"Not good enough, again!" Creed shouted even louder to incite greater fear in his men. They understood that should they fail to meet his expectations, they could very well foresee a punishment depriving them of their necessities in the near future. The one with the broken nose approached his superior from the back, but was careless to make a sound giving away his position. The one from the right side took out a knife, provided by Creed himself and went in for a jab and the third one acted as a distraction. Their tactics were solid. They would have succeeded had it not been for the fact that Creed knew the purpose of this training exercise. He anticipated their movements well ahead of time.

Creed ducked down to the ground and slid his foot across the floor knocking the one behind him off balance. The one with the knife was dealt with equally as fast and disarmed. Creed used the newly acquired weapon against the distraction and brought the blade's edge against his neck. "I thought our men were trained better than this."

He took the hilt of the knife and smacked it hard against his subordinate's skull. He stood up having felt revitalized and dominant over all. I may not be as efficient as before right now, but this should be more than enough. He threw the knife away and looked at his fists. I will kill you and all that you protect soldier girl. Only then can I ever find peace and forever silence this uneasiness originating from my shame and mistakes. I will not disappoint her and protect all that this organization stands for. We will, all of us make sure that the organization fulfills its noble objectives.

A/N: A bit of back story on the organization that acts as the antagonist for this trilogy. I figure it was time that more information was given on them rather than keep them as some elusive enemy. I will flat out say this though that I realize that this way of revelation versus the one in the New Order trilogy may not have been the best. But honestly I could not think of any other way to discuss their history because any way I would think of would end up being exposition dumps as it already is. So aside from that I hope it was still interesting to learn about them, but that doesn't mean that the history of the organization is what it will be today. Things change, and so do organizations after all :).

I hope you enjoyed the read and thank you for your support!

Constructive criticism is appreciated!

~ Monty