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Halo: Escalation Issue 1

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“
The UNSC flagship Infinity is assigned escort duty for a diplomatic mission between the Arbiter and a powerful chieftain of the Brute tribes—but when a rogue Covenant group attacks, it’s going to take all the firepower the Spartans have to keep the delegates alive!
”



SynopsisEdit

“

Five years after the Human-Covenant War, long-lost Spartan John-117- the Master Chief - has been rescued off a Forerunner shield world, Requiem. Pursuing an awakened Forerunner known as the Didact, the Master Chief defeats the ancient warrior above Earth, but at a terrible cost- the death of the Chief's AI, Cortana.

The attack on Earth opens the door to an emergent threat in the for of Jul 'Mdama, a Covenant renegade who takes command of the Didact's Promethean army. The UNSC Infinity, led by Captain Thomas Lasky, is deployed to prevent 'Mdama from gaining control of Requiem, with the help of a new generation of Spartans led by Commander Sarah Palmer.

Infinity drives 'Mdama's forces into retreat, but the victory proves to be a temporary one...
”



The date is 3 March, 2558. Fireteam Jackknife observes a lance of Covenant remnant in a snowy terrain. The team coordinates an ambush with Commander Sarah Palmer, who has herself already downed a Sangheili swordsman. As she takes down a further two with the stolen Energy Sword, Captain Thomas Lasky orders her to report to the Combat Deck. Palmer acknowledges and the fighting ends, revealed to be a Wargames "Invasion" simulation being conducted in orbit over Earth. Leaving the room, Palmer puts Spartan Scruggs in charge of the Fireteam and starts up a Capture the Flag simulation for them to train in while she is away.

Palmer meets with Captain Lasky, who orders her to report to the UNSC Security Council with him, per their request. The two take a Pelican down to HIGHCOM Facility Bravo-6 in Sydney. The two stand before HIGHCOM, represented by General Strauss; Fleet Admiral Hood; Admiral Osman; General Hogan and General Dellert (representing the Army; Navy; ONI; Marines and Air Force, respectively) and are asked about their recent mission to Requiem, which they believe was mishandled. This immediately provokes Captain Lasky, who sees the meeting as an inquiry into his competence, though is calmed by Fleet Admiral Hood. Admiral Osman however is critical of Lasky, and demands a reason as to why he felt it necessary for Dr. Catherine Halsey to be transferred to the UNSC Infinity, which allowed for her to escape, and whether he felt the destruction of Requiem was an appropriate means of preventing another attack on Earth. Further, Commander Palmer is criticised for failing to carry out her the ordered of Dr. Halsey.

Following the unofficial inquiry, Palmer and Lasky jog at a park on the Infinity. Palmer expresses concern ONI is going to scapegoat Lasky, and points out to him that his predecessor Captain Del Rio was re-assigned despite twenty years experience. Roland alerts Lasky that Fleet Admiral Hood has arrived onboard in Infinity unannounced. Lasky and Palmer dress up and meet with him. Lasky is informed that in response to the Requiem campaign he is to be transferred to the UNSC Vociferous. However, that will take place later, as the UNSC urgently requires the Infinity on an emergency mission and does not have time to change the command structure. Admiral Hood explains that tensions between the Jiralhanae and Sangheili factions have escalated recently. While the Jiralhanae have settlements on a number of resource rich worlds, they are technologically incapable of utilising them and have thus resorted to raiding the Sangheili. Admiral Hood intends to moderate a peace agreement between the Arbiter and Lydus, one of the Jiralhanae chieftains, with the Infinity present as a show of force. In exchange for keeping the Jiralhanae in line, the UNSC hopes to gain access to their resources.

The Infinity exists slipspace over Ealen IV where they are greeted by a Covenant fleet. The diplomatic team and its Spartan escorts disembark on the diplomatic shuttle DS-004, where they rendezvous with the Arbiter himself. With Lydus' shuttle approaching, the Spartan fireteams Bailey and Jackknife are put in their places. At the summit, the Arbiter is unwilling to give further concessions to the Jiralhanae and warns Hood they will increase their raids regardless. Admiral Hood meanwhile insists that the Jiralhanae planets under Lydus' control are months away from famine on their worlds, and that raiding is a natural reaction to this. The Spartan fireteams notice that communications are being jammed and rush to the conference room. A bomb goes off, planted there by a Sangheili militant group calling themselves the Guardians of the Righteous. The delegates are hastily taken out of the conference room to their shuttle, with the the Arbiter insisting to Lydus he had no part in the assassination attempt. The UNSC shuttle is destroyed by a banshee wing, stranding the group on the planet. The only place to hide left is a nearby parts depot, which they quickly take refuge in.

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