Halo: Escalation Issue 18
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The issue opens in 2556, with the UNSC Cascadia deploying a D79-TC Pelican to the planet Cleyell, rumored to have a strong presence of Kig-Yar scavengers, with a pair of ODSTs led by Holly Tanaka. One of the ODSTs complains that a civilian rescue mission is not the life for an ODST, but one of his colleagues tells him that such missions usually end in a firefight. The ODST then sarcastically asks Tanaka if she knows how to handle a rifle, presuming her to be lacking in combat experience because of her role as an Army engineer.
The narrative jumps back to 2551, three days after the Kig-Yar's attack on the glassing survivors' compound. Tanaka and the two men who kidnapped her remain in a cave, Holly not having spoken since the attack. The men finally confront her about this but contrary to Tanaka's suspicions, her captors are revealed to have kidnapped her to save her life instead of having depraved intentions of any kind. Holly mourns her father's demise and blames the other two survivors for releasing the crazed prisoner who led the Kig-Yar to the compound. One of the men reveals that the one who released the prisoner was Tanaka's father; he decided to release him because if he had decided to kill him, it would have demoralized the other survivors. The survivors decide to recover an emergency cache near the cave, but the compound's entrance is surrounded by Kig-Yar forces. When Tanaka asks how they will get through the Kig-Yar, the other two survivors reveal they are actually insurgents, and then they proceed to train her in guerrilla tactics.
Back in 2556, the ODST team lands on Cleyell's surface and find a transmitter wedged down in a crack. When one of the ODSTs asks why someone would stash a transmitter there, another ODST finds a dead civilian with plasma burns in his body.
Again in 2551, Tanaka and the survivors attract the Kig-Yar into a trap, hoping that the aliens make the mistake of overplaying their advantages. The two insurgents ambush the Jackals and loot their weapons, then return to the cave with supplies from their cache. Tanaka demands that they return to the compound to search for survivors but the men refuse, as going back would be utterly futile and would jeopardize their lives. Holly threatens them with her shotgun, but one of the men quickly disarms her. He reiterates that they will not return to the compound, but will let Tanaka come along as they set out to find other survivor camps. Four months later, the trio come across a vast glassed crater in what used to be farmland.
Back on Cleyell, Tanaka and the ODSTs observe a similar sight and discover a partially intact agricultural station in the glasslands. Tanaka deduces that the distress signal must have originated from below the buildings; as there are Kig-Yar snipers likely posted in the structure itself, no survivor could have escaped along the plains. They make their way into a cave system Tanaka spotted earlier, with her taking the lead due to her experience. She warns the two ODSTs to remain quiet as the Jackals will execute any prisoners if they hear them coming. As one of the ODSTs takes a step forward, the ground gives way and he crashes through into a Kig-Yar-occupied cavern. Tanaka and the other ODST fall down the hole as well and a firefight ensues, with Tanaka and the ODSTs eventually emerging victorious.
Another flashback of Tanaka's and the two other survivors' experiences on Minab years earlier shows them fleeing attacking Kig-Yar, one of the men getting injured or killed, and their eventual rescue. Back in the present, Tanaka finds a group of malnourished survivors, who are then rescued aboard a Pelican. Their return to the Cascadia is overlaid with a communique from the ship's captain, French, to Jun-A266. French commends Tanaka for her actions during the mission and recommends her as a candidate for the SPARTAN-IV program. The issue concludes with Tanaka looking out into space, facing her future MJOLNIR suit in her reflection.