February 1, 2558 (UNSC Calendar)/five years later

UNSC Infinity, in orbit above Quito, Sol System

Spartan Logan Parker

This was a kickass ship, as they said. The Master Chief himself had walked these halls. I was busy looking at the massive hangar space when I bumped into a large man, another SPARTAN-IV like myself.

"Hey, watch it, gramps!" I snapped at the older-looking fellow. He was well into his thirties if my judgement was anything to go by.

Before I knew it my feet had been swept from underneath me and I had slammed to the floor hard. I wasn't able to react before my left arm was twisted almost to the base of my skull and my right arm had been pinned to the ground. I didn't want to move because I honestly didn't feel like having my shoulder snapped in half so early into my deployment.

"Captain!" an authoritative voice barked. "Get off your recruit!"

"I can assure you he deserves it, Sarah."


The man pinning me down chuckled.

Something must've passed between Sarah and the captain because a few seconds later they both chuckled and the strength of the grip on my arms decreased until I was able to free myself. I stood up, as confused as I had been in recent days and looked at the old man, who now looked a lot scarier than he did old. His hair was ever so slightly above regulation length and there was a certain cockiness to his face that I recognized as belonging to an ODST. Sarah Palmer was a beautiful woman, it was hard to argue against that, but she had a hard face, almost as hard as the captain's.

"I see you've already met your squad leader," Palmer said, shaking my hand. "I'm Commander Palmer."

I snapped to attention.

"At ease," she replied. "You have a good record, Parker."

"The very best," the captain agreed.

Palmer looked me over. "You'll be a good fit for Crimson I think. Frank, give him the grand tour."

"With pleasure, Sarah," he said. This time the commander let it go. "Spartan Parker, from now on you will answer to my every whim in and out of combat, I am your squad leader, I am your captain, I am your god. While I do realize that those honorifics are probably a mouthful, I'm going to let you call me Captain Castillo."

He turned to look at me with a weird expression. His eyes had a mixture of emotions that made me get goosebumps. It seemed somewhere between apprehension and hope with dozens of other things I couldn't identify. This man had lost people.

"Welcome to Crimson, son," he finally said. "We are going to have a good time."

At that point I realized two things: that my shoulder hurt and that I didn't know why, but I liked this asshole.