Battle of Ealen IV
Following an escalation in Jiralhanae raiding attacks along the joint-occupation zones, Ealen IV was chosen as a place for peace negotiations between the Sangheili and Jiralhanae. UNSC Fleet Admiral Terrence Hood acted as a mediator between Arbiter Thel 'Vadam and Jiralhanae Chieftain Lydus. Captain Thomas Lasky and the UNSC Infinity were assigned to provide security for the diplomats. Unfortunately, Daniel Clayton, a UNSC captain and defector to the New Colonial Alliance bent on revenge against Lord Hood, placed a bounty on the heads of the diplomats, hiring Covenant mercenaries under the command of Shipmaster Vata 'Gajat to stop the negotiations. The mercenaries launched a surprise attack on the conference, forcing SPARTAN-IV fireteams Jackknife and Bailey to defend and evacuate the ambassadors. 'Gajat chose to keep the attack, as well his involvement with the New Colonial Alliance, secret from the new Covenant's leader Jul 'Mdama.
Having received intel on the diplomatic mission and the UNSC personnel involved, Shipmaster 'Gajat and Daniel Clayton led the attack on Ealen IV. The mercenaries blasted into the plasma facility's conference chamber in an attempt to assassinate the ambassadors. Commander Sarah Palmer ordered Jackknife to clear the chamber and help the delegates evacuate. Despite facing heavy resistance from mercenary forces outside, Fireteam Bailey managed to clear a path for the delegates. When their evacuation shuttle was destroyed, the Spartan IV's proceeded to escort the delegation to a nearby parts depot. Once all were inside, Paul DeMarco sealed the depot to halt the oncoming mercenary forces. With their communications to their orbiting fleets having been blocked, the delegation were left without reinforcements.
Confident that the delegates were trapped within, the Skirmisher Champion Tek informed 'Gajat of their enemy's retreat. Inside the repair depot, Thel 'Vadam notified the rest of existing tunnels leading to an old fortified redoubt in which they could take refuge in. Captain Thomas Lasky ordered Palmer and the protection detail to escort the delegation to the redoubt, while he and Spartan Naiya Ray would try to reestablish communications with the fleet above the planet.
As the party escaped the storage depot, they were intercepted by a Covenant Lich. Palmer quickly acted and threw her helmet filled with grenades and destroyed the Lich. Jackknife then went ahead with the delegation's bodyguards to ensure that the redoubt was safe for the delegates to use as shelter. Lord Hood stopped to inspect a fallen Sangheili and discovered someone within the UNSC was leaking the mercenary information. As Jackknife arrived at the redoubt, Vladimir Scruggs betrayed his own team, killing them and the bodyguards. He then radioed Commander Palmer and informed her it was safe to bring the delegates into the redoubt.
Lasky and Ray attacked a mercenary base and destroyed a reactor, the source of the mercenary jamming signal. In the redoubt, Lydus continued to express his skepticism over whether the peace talk would succeed. Hood told him that the Jiralhanae would need Lydus as a leader if they were to survive. Scruggs suddenly appeared and held Hood at gunpoint, stating that he would reveal his demands once his associates arrived. The situation in orbit continued to worsen as Sangheili and Jiralhanae ships began to deploy forces against each other. Having cleared the communications interference, Lasky informed Infinity of the mercenary's attack. Upon being updated on the crisis between the Sangheili and Jiralhanae, Lasky contacted the fleets and asked them to cease their infighting and send their forces to the delegates' aid instead. However, both sides refused to listen to him while a massive mercenary force converged on the redoubt.
In the redoubt, Scruggs continued to hold Hood hostage. He denied that he was working for the Insurrectionists and indicated that he was aware of some of ONI's secrets. Palmer then shot Lord Hood in the leg, tackled Scruggs and, after a brief struggle, killed the rogue Spartan by stabbing him in the throat with a combat knife. With the mercenary bearing on the site in force, the group found a craft they could use to evacuate. DeMarco and Fireteam Bailey remained behind to cover the ambassadors' escape with Tyrant AA guns; while DeMarco was killed when the mercenaries destroyed the cannon he was manning, the other members of Bailey survived the battle. Thanks to DeMarco's sacrifice, the delegation, Lasky and the surviving Spartans made it aboard Infinity which had managed to rally the Sangheili and Jiralhanae fleets, prompting 'Gajat's fleet to retreat.
Due to Shipmaster 'Gajat's attack, the negotiations were left in a standstill and little progress was made in furthering the peace between the Sangheili and the Jiralhanae. A funeral ceremony was held for the Spartans fallen in the battle, with an angry Palmer telling Lasky she wanted to be alone. One week later, Lasky and Hood discussed the troubling prospect that someone higher-ranked than Scruggs must have leaked the location of the negotiations, indicating a severe security breach in the UNSC's hierarchy.
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