Noble Six watched as, what was almost certainly the final UNSC warship, the Pillar of Autumn left its dock near the Aszod ship breaking yards. The SPARTAN found it, if only in a fatalistic sense, amusing that the ship carrying humanity's game changer was leaving from a location where similar warships had been dismantled. The ships' atmospheric rocket pods activated and began to change its direction.
Six looked on as the rocket pods flames began to flicker slightly. Seconds later they began to detach from their position as the Autumn's engines activated. He tilted his head to keep the Halcyon Class Cruiser in his field of vision for a few moments longer. So much had been sacrificed, so much blood shed, all for this one launch. In his mind it would dishonor all that if he did not watch it leave Reach.
Reach. The Crown Jewel of Humanity, and soon to be sight of its greatest defeat. If Earth was considered the heart of humanity, then Reach was the heart of the UNSC. This one world, this one military facility, represented so much to his species. Reach had always been seen as safe, untouchable. How wrong they had all been, soon the very ground he now stood upon would be glassed. Just like the dozens of other human colonies now lost.
Despite all of its military might Reach could not stand up against the Covenant. The Millions of Troopers, Marines, Militia, Sailors, and Airman, the thousands of vehicles, the hundreds of warships. All useless and in the end, all but annihilated. He did take some solace in the knowledge that Reach wouldn't be forgotten, no matter who won the war. The damned aliens wouldn't forget the fact that humans had cost them so much to obtain their victory. The only report he had received on the space battle had mentioned that the Covenant armada had lost well over half of its number, and there was no doubt in his mind the aliens had encountered more than one type of hell on the ground.
If Dr. Halsey war correct, then the A.I. and he had handed to Captain Keyes would use the knowledge it held to turn the tide of the war. Certainly by simply being in the caverns beneath ONI Sword Base Six had seen that there was, however long ago, a race of beings more powerful than the Covenant. Perhaps the crew of the Autumn would go of into the farthest reaches of space and discover some ancient super weapon, or technology. Or maybe the species still existed in some form elsewhere in the galaxy and could well be willing to aid them.
If their mission succeeded, whatever it may be, humanity may well survive the war. If they did then Reach would likely be remembered as the sight of the largest battle ever fought in galactic history. It certainly looked that way to him anyway. The Covenant had found Reach and then invaded with a fleet numbering in the hundreds. Its army landing with troops well into the billions given the large numbers of troops a single enemy warship carried. Reach had boasted over a 150 ships, over 300,000,000 defense personnel, twenty of the massive Orbital Defense Platforms, and then of course there were the Spartans.
Not even the best of humanity's soldiers could stop the massive Covenant war machine. He had an answer to Kat's question now, the thought of Noble Team's second in command brought up a wave of sadness. They were never losing the battle, they had lost it the moment the Covenant arrived en masse. As the Pillar of Autumn left his range of sight Six knew he was alone now. There were likely at the most only a few hundred survivors left on Reach, perhaps a few civilians were now waiting in a bunker, foolishly hoping that they could survive the glassing.
Six left his position on the ground and began climbing back up to the Mass Driver he had used to destroy a Covenant Assault cruiser. The little light left reflecting of his dark green MJOLNIR, and the small bits of gold around parts of his body. Reaching the top of the structure the Spartan looked off into the distance.
From his current high position he could make out a battle far from where he was. He could see a Scarab, and other Covenant vehicles engaging a small unit of Army Mechanized Infantry. The M808 MBT firing its 105mm High Velocity cannon doing very little to the massive behemoth destroying the few warthogs accompanying it. There was no hope for survival, not for them, not for him. Soon he watched the last of the attacking humans destroy a pair of Wraiths before they were in turn killed.
The Spartan felt some pride in the knowledge that the few humans left on this once beautiful world would not go quietly into permanent night. He was going to die on Reach, but first he would have to disobey Noble One's first order to him.
'Leave that Lone Wolf stuff behind.'
On Reach he felt something he had not felt for many years. He felt like part of a team, and despite his solo attitude during the years after he was taken out of Beta Company, it was something he had secretly missed. Now…. Now he was a lone wolf once again. Jorge, Kat, Carter, Emile. There was a chance Jun was still alive he assumed, after all Noble Teams' sniper was supposed to escort Dr. Halsey to CASTLE Base. The base was the most well protected installation on all Reach and would likely survive for a few days.
According to the Doctor, the Covenant was interested in strange artifacts. Six assumed that logically, CASTLE Base could have several such artifacts hidden inside. They would try to excavate the area and find a way in. If Jun made it with the doctor then he would have one mission left. Ensure that no intelligence of any kind fell into enemy hands.
Six tilted his head to the side and glanced at the figure near him. Emile laid slumped on a small rail surrounded by two Elite Zealots, two small holes showing on his chest plate the exit for the tips of the energy sword that killed him. Typical to his killer nature the dying Spartan took the alien with him, the knife he kept on his shoulder embedded in the Zealots throat.
For the first time since the Covenant had arrived on Reach, Six found himself finally feeling the effects of the constant battles. Six felt all the injuries he had sustained, all the bruises, a few cracked bones, and three broken ribs. The pain would be unbelievable to the average human, but to a Spartan it was merely bothersome. Still he felt that he needed to take a real break, to rest before his final battle. There was still one thing he had to do before he allowed himself the luxury of a few minutes respite.
Six walked over to Emile's body and kneeled in front of it. The Spartan reached out and laid his hand on the base of the fallen Spartan's helmet. He began to short process of removing the piece of equipment and soon found himself staring at the mans face. Dark skinned, slightly scared, a broken nose, blood flowing from several cuts, a pair of lips curled in a contented smile. The man had died the way he wanted, taking his enemy with him.
Six bowed his head to the late Noble Four in a short display of mourning. Raising his helmeted head back to face his dead Spartan brother, a green and gold armored hand reached for the dog tags previously covered by the helmet. Gently he slid the tags over Emile's head and then placed the helmet over his face again.
Lifting a hand over a the side of his chest piece, Six opened a small compartment. He pulled out two more pairs of dog tags and added them to the one he held in his other hand. Closing his eyes Six pictured them once again, and saw their deaths occur once more. His photographic memory denied him the right to forget anything he ever saw, or did.
Six saw Jorge hand him the larger Spartans' own tags and grip his hand fiercely, before lifting him up and throwing him out into space. He saw Kat standing next to him in the elevator, her quiet voice beautiful to his ears carrying a trace of fear, saw her body fall halfway before he caught her. Then he remembered Carter and his complete faith in Six's ability to complete the mission, right up to when he crashed his pelican into a Scarab to give them a chance. And he replayed Emile stabbed in the back by a Zealot, the honor obsessed creature seemingly forgoing any such idea to kill the Spartan.
Six closed his fist over the tags, and held them close to his heart for a few moments. In the short month he had know them, he had felt like he truly belonged. That he was not just some Captain's personal assassin, a tool. He was what he was meant to be, a Spartan, and he was damned proud to have finally felt such after everything. Even if it was just for a short time.
Placing back the dog tags in the hidden compartment, Six sat down next to Emile still looking at the skull painted helmet.
"You did good Warrant Officer. You did your duty…. Brother." Six then looked off into the distance once again. He saw storm clouds off in the distance, the flashes of lighting signaling that a Covenant ship had begun to glass. Lifting his hands to his helmet, Six removed it and stared at the piece of armor that had served as a constant reminder of who he was. During the seven years after being reassigned from Beta Company he had eliminated many threats to the UNSC. A fair amount he had done without donning his set of armor.
The visor reflected his image and once again he stared at his own face. Lightly tanned, an emerald green right, and a golden left eye, a surprisingly unscarred face, brown hair that had grown unruly and reached halfway to his shoulders in the time he had spent in the armor, reddish-brown lips, and a regal nose. As some of his missions required him to infiltrate suspected insurrectionist groups he knew he was considered handsome, something he had a type of grip on due to his contact with civilians. Several times he had used his looks to his advantage, but felt almost dirty after. Using people like that, seemed wrong somehow to him.
With a snort he put the helmet over head once again and activated his shields. Looking around his position he saw there were no Covenant with the area, the Phantom and Spirit drop ships far off engaging what few friendly air assets remained. He laid his back on the floor and allowed himself to relax for just a few moments. He could worry about where he would make his last stand later. For now he was going to enjoy the simple pleasure of being alive for a few moments longer.
With a smile, Leo-B312 fell into a light sleep and like the few times he had slept since joining Noble he knew he would not have a nightmare.