Author's Note: Never knew it took a new video game to get me to actually post something that I've written again. Buuut, have this anyway. Just a short little thing, to be placed in the Exodus level. I don't claim to have read all (or almost any) of the books, so if I've gotten something wrong (hopefully I've avoided that) detail-wise, feel free to tell me. I just recall seeing a bear backpack on the ground in the beginning of the level (it changes between a suitcase and a bear each playthrough), and I just don't see Noble Six (my Noble Six, I guess... similar to my Commander Shepard) leaving it behind. So... here's this. Enjoy.

"Good thing that Spartan came in when she did."
"We'd never had stood a chance against those Covvy bastards."
"Couldn't help but notice something, though…"
"You saw it, too?"
"Was that a… bear backpack she was wearing?

The heavy sound of her footsteps were enough to shut the two Marines up immediately. "Ma'am," they greeted.

"This is the last civilian evac transport, isn't it?" Noble Six asked, gesturing with her free hand to the growing pool of civilians. The other hand held a currently empty pistol.

"Yes ma'am," one replied. "No one's left in the city but these folks."

The Spartan nodded. "Any children?" she questioned further.

"I think I saw a few," the other Marine answered helpfully. She turned from them to scan the crowd, searching for a possible candidate. Ah, there she was.

Without another word to the Marines, Six approached the mass, making sure to be careful as she edged between people. Finally, she reached the edge of the landing platform. Falcons were beginning their decent and the evac Pelican was in sight. She'd have to make this fast.

Taking off her helmet, she set it on the ground as she knelt next to a woman. Her daughter was sitting on the ground with scraped knees and the most fearful look Six had ever seen. Hopefully, she wasn't the cause of that. "Are you Samantha?" she asked quietly, slipping off the backpack.

"Sammy," her mother whispered after the girl didn't respond, stroking her hair. "The nice lady asked you a question."

Eventually, the Samantha nodded. Six tried to put on her best smile. The dogtags that seemed to burn on her skin, under her suit, made it hard. "My name's… Charlotte," she said, realizing it took a conscious effort not to introduce herself as Spartan B312. It'd been a while since she'd been around civilians. "I think I found someone who's really missed you."

Six held out the bear, not by the straps of the backpack portion, but by its waist. Hesitantly, Samantha reached out to take the bear, the first smile Six had seen since reentry lighting up her features. Her mother soon followed suit. "What do you say?" she asked gently.

"Thank you," Samantha said hoarsely, as if she'd been crying recently and often. After a beat, she looked up at the Spartan curiously. "Are you going to fight the bad guys?"

Six nodded, chuckling just a little. "That's what I do. But right now, I'm going to make sure everyone here gets out safe.

"Will you be safe?" she questioned further.

Charlotte paused at that, considering carefully how to answer. "I'll be alright," she answered finally. "I'll let you in on a secret, Samantha." All three of the girls leaned forward, in order to be sure that they would not be overheard by anyone. "I'm a Spartan." The two nodded. They knew that much. "Us Spartans? We never die."

What a lie. But they seemed to believe it, and that was the important part. Their faces lit up brighter than a plasma sword. It was easy to tell what they were thinking: maybe there was hope yet. Yeah. Maybe.

The transports landed, saving her from anymore questions. Charlotte put her helmet back on and gave the mother and daughter one last nod before finally going back to work. "Pretty nice of you to help that kid out," a Marine commented as she climbed into a Falcon. Six shrugged.

Jorge would have killed her if she hadn't helped. The big softie.