Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Earth

May 26, 2558

After what seemed like hours after dead silence, Drew was the first to speak. "So what the hell happened back there?"

They were en route to Al Maktoum International Spaceport. Every now and then, there would be a police vehicle with patrolling offers with assault rifles. Some of them were pulling over cars to do through inspections. Both of them knew that getting out of the spaceport was going to be a challenge, the better the perpetrators were caught in the vicinity of the incident, and the easier the task was before it got out of hand.

Trip did not immediately answer his friend's question. Instead he had removed his datapad and frowned upon seeing that he neglected to remove it before entering the pool. Drew saw his predicament and handed over his damage free pad. Trip nodded his thanks and contacted the space travel company. He immediately booked two priority tickets on the next flight to New Alexandria. The flight would leave in an hour which meant plenty of time to get back since traffic had considerably lightened up since their arrival. He hoped that the air traffic was not delayed because of the incident. They were stuck as soon as Dubai's Spaceport closed down. Of course they could take a car to the nearby Abu Dhabi spaceport, but the longer they took the bigger chance that spaceport also closed all outbound movements.

"I think," He finally answered Drew's question, "That we were at the wrong place and wrong time."

"Really?" The Blade's second in command arched his eyebrow.

"Yes." Trip held up a hand to hold off his next comment that was rich with doubt, "If this Adamant guy wanted us dead, he would have had his muscle. That Steve guy shoot us."

"Okay?" Drew replied, seemingly agreeing.

"Another thing that puts him in the clear is that the message that he sent us before we even left was just about as legit as they come. So that puts him in the clear."

"I can't believe you're saying this."

"Hey. Just because Dubai happens to be one of the cities with the lowest amount of terrorism doesn't mean it's not a target. The hotel is a shining example of UNSC wealth. Any Innie worth his salt would be drooling to blow it up. We just happened to be there when it happened."

Drew didn't look convinced but nodded, seeing what Aegis had pointed out.

Trip had the driver drop them off a couple minutes from the spaceport. Both were still wet, but they had walked in the heat to help dry off.

Ships were still taking off and arriving as normal when they entered the lobby. The watchful, but unsuspecting policeman at the security checkpoints told Trip that the security was not alerted about the attack. Some people threw them odd glances at their wet clothing.

"Our taxi hit a fire hydrant." Trip explained.

Boarding the aircraft held little trouble and since he had purchased VIP tickets. The Blades were escorted to the luxury cabin by an attractive Malay girl and were entitled to return to Dubai soon. Shortly afterwards, they had received the report of Dubai's international traffic had been shutdown long after they had broken from the atmosphere. The time where the sleep rhythms kicked in when the ship jumped into slipspace so the two men changed out of their suits into comfortable dry sleeping gear. Trip's skin was cold and stuck to his shirt, making it difficult to remove it.

"Still." Drew said after the long silence and both were laying out their seats for a comfortable bed. "I'd have to say that meeting went better than expected." He called an attendant for two bottles of beer and they clanked the ice cold drinks. Drew's was light, which still meant he was battling his waistline.

"Nevertheless. Next time this Adamant guy and I cross paths." He made it sound slightly ominous. "I will be the one to ask a few questions."


New Alexandria International Spaceport

May 29, 2558

Trip and Drew arrived and boarded off of the aircraft. After collecting their bags and bidding goodbye to their travel hostess, they were back in the familiar lobby. It was nearly midnight so the cool and crisp air felt amazing to both of them after being inside the ship's cabin for a while. They took a taxi to their base, which was over by the UNSC shipyards. Trip smiled as he saw the familiar ghostlike form of Ballista sitting in drydock.

"Welcome back boys." Leah Roush had been the only one to come and greet them once they passed their palm scan to gain entry. "You have a thing for finding trouble don't you?"

Drew jerked a thumb at his best friend, "Blame him. That guy attracts nothing except terrorists, gunmen and bombers."

"Don't forget the ladies." Trip reminded him. He turned to Leah, "What's the latest update about the attack?"

"Some group hailing from the planet Mortis has claimed responsibility for the attack. Kind of worries me since we just got back from there. How'd your thingy with the mystery client go?"

"He told me that unless we take the mission to find a Foreruner superweapon, we are all going to die because of the Covenant harnessing it. What was the aftermath of the attack?"

"No deaths so far and only three injuries, mostly because of blunt trauma. The main blasts that the bombers used were standard Semtex, the stuff that has been used since the twentieth century. The identity of the terrorists haven't been recovered according to the enforcement there. Both Luke and Dan say that they can hack into the mainframe, but didn't sound too certain."

"Tell them to lay off." He responded, "It would have been more dangerous if someone tossed a live grenade into the trash can. I'd hate to have thought of the death toll if Drew and I weren't there."

"It's hard being hero every day." Drew muttered, moving off to give his techs their orders. Trip went to a public shower, feeling exhausted. Leah moved to follow him.

"Sorry." He groaned, rubbing a knot in the back of his head. "I need a shower and some substance. I feel like an action figure dressed like a doll."

"Not to mention your clothes are still wet." Trip had put back on his wet suit once they got off the ship.

Forty five minutes later, combined with a long shower and a hot moa burger from an eatery, Aegis returned the briefing area. Both Dan and Luke were on the screen watching some sort of video with cats. Vaal and several of his sangheili warriors were conversing with Pyra and a couple of ODSTs and Spartans. Everyone looked up as Aegis walked in, followed by Leah and Drew.

"First order of business is that my trip to Dubai was an order to accept a mission that has been forced upon us. Our client is a guy that told us to call him Adamant." At the mention of his name, Drew began typing on his datapad and on the main board popped a picture of their associate.

"He gave us a mission to locate what the Storm Covenant had on a Forerunner superweapon."

"So then what's your analysis of this guy?" An elite named Rak asked.

"What Drew and I believe is that this Adamant guy is actually a client that works for ONI."

"Hmm." Leah put her hand to her chin in thought, "So we're probably working for the office again."

"We know how that all went." Drew reminded them.

"As I was saying," Aegis shot him a glare, "Although the mission seems private, the job will ultimately benefit the office. As much as I want to call him back and tell him the deal's off, I think that it's serious concern. If the Covenant are going this far to get a superweapon, I'll believe them."

"So where do we start?" Pyra asked.

"Sangheilios."


Sangheilios, Urs System

May 30, 2558

The homeworld of the sangheili species looked hellish from space. Although there were red oceans and some areas of vegetation, most of the planet's surface was rust colored. A multitude of ships dotted the area. Some were small freighters, moving cargo between systems; others were the frigates and massive CCS heavy cruisers. Ever since the rise of the Storm, Sangheilios had been a warzone. With the Servants of Abiding Truth controlling a large section of the southern hemisphere, the civil war never officially ended. Human populations on the planet were relatively small, mostly researchers and scientists. Aegis had only been to Sangheilios once, deployed as UNSC reinforcements to Vadam Keep where he met the Arbiter Thel Vadam.

"We're being hailed by the cruiser Guiding Spirit on our presence, stay and destination." Dan Tyler reported from his station. The bridge of the frigate was in a semi circle, with stations around the commander's seat.

"Tell them that Sangheilios is our destination and that we are here on Naval Intelligence business." Rayson told him, "If that doesn't work, tell him that we are authorized under code seven seven nine zero."

Dan relayed his message and grinned in response, "We've been cleared."

"Alright here's the plan. If the ships nearby order you to do anything, comply. The region is highly unstable and if they do initiate an assault, you best stay out. Vaal, I and Rak will be heading down the destination for answers."

"What did the waypoint even tell you?" Luke asked.

"Someone who could explain whatever the Covenant is so eager to go after."


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