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The Emmeline was a Banta-class transport in service with the United Rebel Front and its allies in 2526. It was stationed in the rebels' ice quarry base on Biko's moon of Seoba until being captured by Task Force Yama during the battle for the moon. The Emmeline was then used to hold and transport insurrectionist prisoners to Biko, but it was intercepted by First Blade Tel 'Szatulai and the Bloodstar Flotilla.
The Emmeline had an enclosed flight deck separated from the main cabin and troop bay by various internal hatches, and it required only a small crew to operate. From the flight deck, the crew was able to depressurize compartments individually. Its troop bay was large enough to hold at least 300 human passengers, and it could be accessed externally via loading ramp. The Emmeline also featured multiple emergency escape pods. The vessel was propelled by a trio of engine exhausts.
United Rebel Front
By March 2526, the Emmeline was in service with the United Rebel Front and stationed on Seoba, the ice-covered third moon of the Outer Colony of Biko. Given the vessel's role as an infantry transport, the insurrectionists presumably planned to use the Emmeline in their plot to overthrow Biko's chancellor ahead of the Covenant's arrival. When Task Force Yama arrived at Seoba on March 18 to ready themselves for the aliens as well, they discovered the insurgents hiding in an ice quarry and attacked. Ultimately, the UNSC won the battle and captured the Emmeline, planning to use it to transport roughly three hundred prisoners back to Biko for processing.
For the purpose of transporting hostile prisoners, the Emmeline's internal hatches leading to the troop bay had been sealed from the other side. Also, the escape pods were set so that they could only be armed from the flight deck. If the prisoners attempted a breakout, the troop bay could be depressurized to kill them. Lieutenant Commander Hector Nyeto of Ghost Flight provided a small flight crew to man the Emmeline. However, unbeknownst to the rest of Task Force Yama, Nyeto and all who served under him were secretly aligned with the insurrectionist cause.
When a Covenant flotilla arrived in-system on March 19, Colonel Marmon Crowther assigned John-117 and his compatriots to guard the prisoners and get them loaded into the Emmeline, not wanting to send the Spartans into battle after discovering their distressingly young ages. The insurrectionist prisoners—loyal to many different factions, from the Biko Independence Army to the Gao Liberation Force—were gathered in Subsurface Maintenance Grotto 6M430 and directed to board the Emmeline via its loading ramp.
As the Spartans urged the prisoners up the ramp, John-117 noticed a group of insurgents trying to conceal the presence of one who was clearly an officer. John knew that the Office of Naval Intelligence would want to interrogate such a high-ranking member of the URF, so he ordered the line of prisoners to halt. Using his MJOLNIR's onboard computer, he checked the identity of the individual, who turned out to be General Harper Garvin, and called him forward. After a failed attempt by another rebel to stall, Garvin complied. While the prisoners resumed their boarding of the Emmeline, Garvin attempted to work some details about the Spartans out of John, who was busy listening Task Force Yama's command channel. In the process of launching to meet the Covenant threat, Captain Halima Ascot's prowler, the UNSC Starry Night had been shot down, crashing into the quarry. Plasma bombardment began to shake the grotto, injuring some of the prisoners with falling ice. John ordered the rest to carry their wounded into the Emmeline, warning that anyone who delayed would die in the quarry.
Continuing to listen to the command channel, John could tell that Crowther would be unable to send any of his men to the Starry Night's crash site, and that he did not want to risk another prowler to investigate either. Not wanting to give up on Captain Ascot and her crew, or allow the Covenant access to a prowler, John decided that he and his teammates would instead go after the Starry Night. After telling Garvin to rejoin his people, he informed Emmeline's pilot that she and her flight crew would be leaving without them. When the pilot protested to launching without the Spartans to watch the prisoners, John rebuked her and reminded her to follow flight deck isolation protocols, which included depressurizing the troop bay if necessary. With that, the Spartans left the grotto.
A few minutes after the Spartans left in search of the Starry Night, the Emmeline was ready to depart. The transport's temporary crew announced their departure over the command channel and took off from the maintenance grotto, passing low over the Spartans' heads as they made their way toward the projected crash site of Ascot's prowler. The jet wash of the Emmeline briefly disrupted the dense sublimation fog enshrouding the quarry floor, allowing the Spartans a glimpse of the surrounding walls of ice. As the transport crested the edge of the quarry pit, it was fired upon by five Covenant vessels.
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