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|The Merciful Scalpel|
DATE OF BIRTH
April 11, 2540
|Political and Military Information|
Gamma Company (UNSC)
, Team Kopis
- "I'm broken. I think we all are, us Spartans. We're trained to fight, raised to live on the battlefield and nowhere else. I know a thousand ways to patch up a human body and three thousand ways to destroy it. It's so much easier to take a life than it is to save one. But I can do both. That's who I am. It's what they made me. It's the cross I have to bear, and I carry it willingly. All I can do is pray that in the end I save more lives than I take."
Cassandra-G006 was a from Gamma Company who was raised and augmented as a child supersoldier during the final years of the . Although she was noted for having poor combat scores during training, she was made remarkable by her innate talent as a and was considered the best practitioner of combat medicine ever produced by the Spartan program. Despite her skills, her first squad was wiped out by the Covenant and she was transferred to Team Jian. Later, she would become an unwilling deserter when she was caught up in the traitor Simon-G294's efforts to elude forces. Instead of continuing the fight with her former teammate, Cassandra instead chose to use the opportunity presented by Simon's rebellion to strike out and find a life outside of the military system she had been raised in. More self-aware than many of her fellow Spartans, Cassandra clearly recognizes what has been done to her and her friends by the UNSC's indoctrination and training; she hopes to one day reconcile her existence as a Spartan with her desire to live at peace rather than war.
"I'll Give Everything to Save Her"
Cassandra was born in April of 2540 on the Outer Colony of Illios. Her mother, Dara Engel, was a mechanic at a UNSC-run munitions factory and one of countless cogs in the desperate war machine keeping humanity's fleets and armies supplied as the father, who had abandoned Dara during her pregnancy and left the desperate young mother to eek out a living for herself and her daughter on her meager factory wages. In 2542 the factory was dismantled and moved off-world to protect its production capabilities form the threat of the Covenant. Thousands were left unemployed, Dara included.continued its relentless conquest of Earth's colonies. Cassandra did not know her
As Illios's economy faltered and the local government began cutting off support for its impoverished citizens, Dara resorted to increasingly degrading odd jobs in order to feed herself and Cassandra. When the young Cassandra became sick with one of Illios's native swamp viruses, Dara made deals to sell her organs on the black market to pay for medicine. The rushed, back-alley surgery left the young mother hospitalized and near death. Without any money to cover hospital expenses, Dara was threatened with imprisonment and loss of custody of her daughter. But she was saved when a missionary priest named Gerard Powell took pity on her and paid her medical bills out of his own pocket. Powell had heard of Dara's plight through his wife, a doctor working at the hospital where the woman was being treated. Dr. Chloe Powell and Gerard realized that the young woman would be no better off once she left the hospital and offered Darra a job as a maid in their modest home in exchange for room and board for herself and Cassandra.
Cassandra spent the next few years in relative comfort, cared for by her mother and looked after by the Powells. Deeply invested in the Christian faith that had driven him to missionary work, Gerard took the time to endow Cassandra with a deep sense of spirituality. Intrigued by Gerard's religious instruction, the young Cassandra admired the fervor with which her mother's savior taught the Gospel. However, one day before her lessons an unseen Cassandra observed Gerard and Dara exchange a passionate kiss. Mortified and confused by what she had seen, Cassandra felt deeply betrayed and lost faith in Gerard's religious teaching. Though she never revealed her discovery she distanced herself from Gerard and instead found solace in observing some of Chloe's simpler medical instruction vids.
In 2545, a Covenant assault fleet launched a surprise attack on Illios. Bypassing the colony's meager defenses, alien ground forces swarmed major population centers and began to slaughter the inhabitants. Gerard and Chloe were killed whentroopers stormed their home. Dara managed to slip Cassandra to safety before being hauled off by a scavenger, leaving the terrified girl to wander the streets as the city was butchered around her. She was spared the fate of thousands of other citizens when a squad of whisked her away from the combat zone. Less than twenty-four hours later, Cassandra had been evacuated from the planet, leaving every trace of the life she had known behind on the falling colony.
The newly orphaned Cassandra soon found herself adrift amongst millions of other refugees in one of the hastily constructed camps thrown up by the UNSC on a nearby colony. With only minimal food and shelter from a-run orphanage, Cassandra spent most of her time moving about within the camp as she struggled to come to terms with the loss of her family. Her attempts to grapple with the pain by reconnecting with the God Gerard had taught her about proved futile; after a few visits to several makeshift places of worship erected by other refugees, Cassandra dismissed religion and instead found herself facing the problem of Covenant and its efforts to eradicate humanity. Furious at how helpless she felt in the face of the aliens' overwhelming power, Cassandra lingered in the orphanage and grew distant from the other children. Cut off from everything she had once held dear, she had no outlet for all the grief and anger building up inside of her.
Cassandra was rescued from her spiral of despair by the arrival of Naval Intelligence agents seeking to recruit war orphans into the top-secret SPARTAN-III project's Gamma batch. The agents passed Cassandra up when they first began canvassing the orphanage, looking instead for candidates who showed more notable signs of anger and aggression. When one interviewer finally spoke to the quiet young girl, he was surprised at how quickly she leaped at the offer to fight the Covenant. Cassandra and several other candidates were quickly transferred to a "rehabilitation program"—a front for ONI's Spartan recruitment activities—where they were held for a few months before being taken off-world and transported to the ONI training facility on Onyx that would become their new home.
"I Won't Turn Back"
Cassandra arrived on Onyx alongside hundreds of other orphaned children drawn from all corners of human space. ONI drill instructors herded the mob of yelling, fighting children out onto a landing field where they were greeted by Lieutenant Commanderand Chief Petty Officer , the heads of the SPARTAN-III training cadre. Chief Mendez quickly ordered the children onto a squadron of waiting for their first test as potential Spartans. In a baptism by fire that had been endured by and companies before them, the Gamma recruits were given parachute units and ordered to jump out of the dropships from a terrifying altitude in the dead of night. Those who couldn't jump were immediately weeded out of the program. Although terrified, Cassandra comforted herself with thoughts of her mother and completed the jump test.
With the "insufficiently motivated" children weeded out by the night jump, the remaining Gamma candidates were plunged into one of the most grueling training programs in human history. Cassandra and the other children, all of them ranging from seven to five years old, spent the next six years undergoing rigorous military training under Ambrose, Mendez, and the rest of Onyx's training cadre. Cassandra spent her days enduring military drills, exhausting physical readiness training, and combat exercises that ranged from hand to hand combat classes to live-fire simulations. Although she proved that she could handle the demands of the training—acclimating to every new challenge and proving herself a capable shot—her performance significantly degraded when the drill instructors began pitting the trainees against each other during field exercises. The Gammas were encouraged to be aggressive and competitive, attitudes that did not suit Cassandra in the slightest. Her hatred for the Covenant remained, but the aliens were a distant enemy, removed from Gamma Company's day to day training. She couldn't muster up the aggression to be truly competitive against her fellow trainees, whom she saw as part of her new family. Discouraged by her poor performance, she was terrified by the thought of being dropped from the program altogether.
Despite her training difficulties, Cassandra caught the eye of one of the drill instructors, Aspen-B145. A trainee from the SPARTAN-III's who had chosen to remain on Onyx as an instructor rather than graduate with the rest of his company. An expert in medical science, Aspen discovered that Cassandra had a natural talent for combat medicine. Along with fellow trainee Seung-ah-G218, Cassandra became part of a miniscule cadre of medical experts amidst the combat-oriented Spartan project. Under Aspen's extensive tutelage, Cassandra proved herself to be adept at handling a variety of medical emergencies even amidst the stress of combat. Aspen taught Cassandra to harness her emotions and control her body to promote accuracy and precision under duress. The former trainee incorporated many combat exercises, such as marksmanship and hand to hand combat, into Cassandra's training, boosting her combat scores while continuing to hone her abilities as a lifesaver. During a routine combat exercise, Cassandra's medical knowledge paid off when she administered aid to a critically injured Dyne-G217, cementing her reputation within Gamma Company as a truly invaluable asset on the battlefield. Shortly after this incident, the Gamma trainees were sorted into permanent squads. In keeping with the "fireteam as family" model the SPARTAN-III program strove to achieve, almost all of the Gammas subsequent training would be performed within these tightly-knit squads. Placed in Team Kopis, Cassandra quickly oriented herself to the new routines. Becoming fast friends with the other members of Kopis, she realized that the smaller circle of people she could rely on allowed her to better seek help in the areas she was week in. Bolstered by this new confidence, she continued to improve in her training as the years marched on.
After nearly seven years of intensive training, Commander Ambrose deemed Gamma Company fully ready to receive the extensive chemical augmentations that would complete their transformation into Spartans. Chief Mendez and the other instructors conducted a series of technical lectures that schooled the trainees on the effects the augmentations would have on their bodies, as well as the risks involved in the procedure. They offered the recruits one final chance to opt out of the augmentations and be removed from the programs. But having come so far and endured so much, Cassandra found the idea of backing out unthinkable. Her feelings were shared by the other trainees; out of the 330 candidates left in the program, none refused to undergo the augmentations. In 2551 Gamma Company was taken off Onyx for the first time since the beginning of their training and transported to a medical facility aboard the. There they were injected with the :
- Drug 8942-LQ99: A carbide ceramic ossification catalyst to make skeletons virtually unbreakable.
- Drug 88005-MX77: A fibroid muscular protein complex that boosted muscle density and strength.
- Drug 88947-OP24: A retina-inversion stabilizer drug. It boosted color and night vision capabilities.
- Drug 87556-UD61: Improved colloidal neural disunification solution, which in turn decreased reaction time.
Aside from the standardized enhancements, the trainees of Gamma Company would be the only Spartans to ever be augmented with compound 009762-OO. This mutagen altered key regions of the subjects' frontal brain lobes, enhancing aggression, strength, endurance, and tolerance to injury. Lieutenant Ambrose had personally authorized the use of the illegal drug in the hopes of increasing the Gammas chances of survival on the battlefield; however, the mutagen's effects were known to increase in response to stress, driving the Spartans into animalistic, instinct-driven states unless suppressed by the proper counter-drugs. Although Cassandra and her fellow Gammas knew little of the specifics behind the frontal lobe augmentations, the consequences of the illegal alteration would return to haunt them in the coming years.
Alongside her fellow Spartans, Cassandra marveled at the changes the augmentations had wrought on her body. With heightened strength, speed, and perception, the Gamma trainees had truly moved beyond the realm of mere human potential. To recognize their graduation Commander Ambrose presented each trainee with their own personal set of, the unique stealth-combat suit worn by every SPARTAN-III. But while she was amazed by her new abilities, Cassandra also felt troubled by the transformation she had undergone. For the first time since beginning training she began to truly question the ramifications of what it meant to devote her entire life to warfighting. Nevertheless she kept her misgivings to herself and joined the rest of the team to participate in a company-wide tournament to compete for top honors. Though Team Kopis was swiftly eliminated from the brackets, the tournament helped the squad come to terms with their new capabilities and the true deadly potential of a coordinated Spartan team. Team Kopis and the rest of Gamma Company were soon given deployment orders and transported off of Onyx towards the distant battlefronts in the desperate war against the Covenant.
"How Are We Supposed to Beat Them?"
- "We're all in this together. I won't let you guys down."
- ―Cassandra-G006 to the rest of Team Kopis prior to the Battle of Tribute
Cassandra and the rest of Gamma Company had lived and trained on Onyx for the majority of their short lives; leaving the forested world behind was an exhilarating step into an embattled galaxy that they were meant to save from the Covenant. Alongside her teammates, Cassandra both anticipated and dreaded her first foray into real combat. Uncomfortably aware that she was Team Kopis's weak link, she braced herself to endure the realities of the brutal war against the Covenant. Team Kopis did not need to wait long for its maiden assignment: alongside Team Jian the newly-minted Spartans were deployed to the embattled colony of where UNSC forces endured a protracted siege by Covenant warships. Kopis and Jian inserted into the foothills around Tribute's capital to harass Covenant forces massing to assault the population center.
During her first week of combat on Tribute, Cassandra was surprised to experience feelings of exhilaration she had never experienced during training. Worried that her augmentations affected her more than she knew, Cassandra buried her feelings and did her best to support her team as they ambushed Covenant patrols and coordinated artillery strikes against the aliens' forward outposts. Both the young Spartan and the rest of her team were surprised at her performance: rather than dragging Kopis down, Cassandra proved to be a level-headed asset both in and out of combat. Though relieved to find herself worthy of her friends, Cassandra privately worried about her lack of reaction to the bloodshed she witnessed and carried out. Anxious to maintain her performance, she buried her feelings and fought on. Despite the Spartans' relentless attacks, the Covenant offensive showed no signs of relenting and the UNSC prepared to defend Casbah City from a.
- Cassandra-G006: "I can't leave you guys behind!"
- Irving-G226: "Cass, you're doing great. We'll be OK, we'll be OK."
- ―Irving-G226's orders Cassandra to evacuate during the Battle of Casbah City
As Kopis and Jian helped cover the retreat of Casbah City's civilian population, they were suddenly beset by coordinated teams of Erin Coney confirmed her worst fears: the rest of Team Kopis had perished defending the evacuation zone. The surviving SPARTAN-IIIs were swiftly evacuated from Tribute and sent to a naval staging area in a nearby system.warriors determined to take the heads of the "Demons" who had killed so many of their comrades. The Spartans fought fiercely and drove back the initial assaults, but the Covenant forces soon threatened to overwhelm them. After saving an injured civilian woman from a warrior's blade, Kopis's team leader Irving-G226 ordered Cassandra to help treat her aboard a medical dropship. As Team Jian received orders to pull back from the evacuation zone, Team Kopis remained behind to cover the remaining evacuation shuttles. Cassandra desperately tried to rejoin her team only for Irving to order her to stay on the departing medical dropship. Cassandra and Team Jian were taken to a staging area just outside the city where ONI agent
- Simon-G294: "What the hell are they thinking, tossing her back into the field this fast?"
- Mary-G130: "Probably that we'll need every hand on the team ready to clean up more of your screw-ups."
- ―Two Team Jian Spartans discussing Cassandra's reassignment
The aftermath of the Casbah City evacuation marked the most bitter point in Cassandra's life. In spite of all their training and determination, Team Kopis had been unable to turn the tide of the battle or even survive their first battle. Beginning to believe that victory against the Covenant was impossible, a deeply shaken Cassandra could only force herself to continue with the knowledge that she owed it to her friends to fight on in their memory. After a hasty psychological evaluation, the doubly-orphaned Spartan was reassigned to Team Jian, where her new teammates did whatever they could to help her integrate into their ranks.
"We Have To Hold Onto Something"
- "Don't you dare start holding us back with all that mopey survivor's guilt crap. I've only got enough patience for one failure on this team, and Simon's got that spot locked down tight. You throw us off balance, even a little, and I don't care what the others say, I'll sort you out the hard way."
- ―Ralph-G299 to Cassandra-G006
In the aftermath of the battle on Tribute Cassandra kept to herself whenever possible, passively resisting Team Jian's efforts to integrate her into their squad structure. Jian had a reputation in Gamma Company as a group of tightly-knit troublemakers and Cassandra—still grieving for her lost fireteam family—felt deeply uncomfortable around them. Team leader Jake-G293 ordered his squad to give their new member some space, but Cassandra's quiet melancholy irritated the hot-tempered Ralph-G299. Ralph began accosting and haranguing Cassandra at every opportunity, trying to bully his fellow Spartan into snapping out of her malaise. It took the combined efforts of the rest of the team to force him to relent and after a fierce team debate they forced Simon to "diplomatically" persuade Cassandra to cooperate before the start of their next mission.
- "Look, I can't pretend to know what you're going through but you have to give us a chance to help you. I know we act crazy all the time, but we're a good group. We take care of each other. They've always looked out for me, even Ralph. They'll look out for you, too, if you let them."
As Simon, himself a low-scoring near-washout, tentatively reached out to Cassandra she was forced to reconsider her reaction to Kopis's demise. Ashamed to think that she was wasting her friends' sacrifice by failing to act like a Spartan, she relented to Simon and the rest of Team Jian's efforts to integrate her into the squad. Though she couldn't help but feel like an outsider among the troublemaker squad she did her best to socialize and fit into their routine. En route to Jian's next deployment aboard a UNSC destroyer, she began spending time with her new teammates on the warship's firing range. During their hours on the firing line she found the rhythmic marksmanship exercises to be an almost meditative way of taking her mind off of her grief. She accepted help and advice from Jian's sharpshooter, Terrence-G150, and was surprised to find that his unorthodox approach to tutoring her helped improve her aim in ways that years of Onyx drill instructors never had. By the time the destroyer arrived at yet another battlefield on the colony
- Mary-G130: "This broadcast is a bunch of crap. I can't believe we're risking our lives so these news clowns can lie to everyone like this."
- Cassandra-G006: "People need hope. Even if that hope is made up. We can't take that away from them."
- ―Mary-G130 and Cassandra-G006 argue while guarding the broadcast station on Barrier
As UNSC forces on Barrier fought to stem the tide of yet another Covenant assault, Team Jian was deployed in defense of anbroadcasting station that had been turned into a headquarters for ONI's division. While the broadcasting station's primary purpose was to coordinate and monitor military and civilian communications channels, ECB journalists were also working with ONI agents to broadcast propaganda messages to Barrier's civilian population. Interacting with the journalists they were charged with defending was the Spartans' first extensive contact with civilians since they had disappeared into ONI's shadowy military system over five years ago. After realizing that one woman reminded her of her mother, Cassandra became deeply uncomfortable and began avoiding the civilians for fear of dredging up long lost memories. As Jian intercepted Covenant kill teams sent to assault the broadcast center Mary and Ralph grew irritated with the increasingly fantastic claims of the propaganda messages transmitted from the building. Cassandra however understood why even ECB's blatant lies might help comfort a population living in terror of the Covenant juggernaut. After over a week of heavy fighting the Covenant forces retreated, marking a rare win for the UNSC defenders. With combat operations on the planet dying down, Team Jian was reassigned to an ONI counter-insurgency task force operating on the outlying colony of . They would be trading their familiar Covenant foes for a new, more unsettling enemy: human .
"A Spartan Shouldn't Be This Helpless"
- Cassandra-G006: "We'd fight the Insurrectionists better if we understood why they're fighting. These guys aren't the Covenant. They aren't all bloodthirsty monsters. We can at least try to connect with them."
- Simon-G294: "Who cares why they're fighting? It's a ragtag militia with crummy rifles. At least it's an enemy we can beat."
- ―Cassandra and Simon prior to the mission on Mamore
Team Jian arrived in the Mamore system to find only a handful of UNSC forces left defending it. With the planet's long-simmering resentment against the Earth government once again boiling over, most UNSC troops were evacuated and sent to bolster the defenses of Inner Colony worlds while Mamore's colonial government lost more ground to rebel militia groups by the day. The agricultural colony's slide into open rebellion was of little concern to the UNSC's high command, which was preparing for a massive Covenant offensive against the Inner Colonies. ONI's only reason for deploying Spartan assets to Mamore in the first place was to prevent the rebels from getting their hands on advanced UNSC military technology. These political distinctions meant little to Cassandra and the rest of Team Jian. Mamore was the first time they had been ordered into battle against human enemies. It was a scenario they had often trained for on Onyx, but the horrors they had witnessed in battle against the Covenant had accustomed them to a more monstrous foe. Cassandra in particular felt deeply uncomfortable at the prospect of killing fellow humans.
Briefed aboard an ONI Prowler in orbit over Mamore, Team Jian was ordered to raid a remote military research facility on the surface that had been taken over by rebel militia groups. The facility's primary purpose had been to develop biological weapons targeting specific Covenant species; ONI feared the rebels would re-purpose the research specimens there for use against human targets. Deployed to the foothills surrounding the facility, Jian split into two groups: Jake, Terrence, and Ralph would assault the more heavily fortified entrance while Cassandra, Mary, and Simon infiltrated through the facility's drainage system to destroy the laboratories. The first part of the raid went off seamlessly and Cassandra and the others slipped into the facility while the panicked militia fighters mobilized to deal with the unexpected attack. Once inside the laboratory complex, Cassandra located the main research center. Although she had neither the time nor the expertise to understand most of the research center's work, she found herself troubled by suspicions that the bioweapons had never been intended to target Covenant forces and that they were intended for use against humans from the beginning. But there was no time to reflect on her misgivings; after planting explosive charges at key points throughout the facility, she regrouped with Mary and Simon as they rejoined the rest of the team and fled back towards their extraction point in stolen Warthogs.
- Cassandra-G006: "We can't just leave Simon behind. No Spartan leaves a brother behind."
- Jake-G293: "Of course, no one gets left behind. We're headed back out there. Either all of us make it off this rock or none of us do. I don't care if the admiral himself gave that order—"
- Erin Coney: "As a matter of fact he did. This is a direct order, Gamma Two Nine Three. Quit posturing and evac your team. Now."
- — Team Jian is forced to abandon Simon-G294 on Mamore
But the rebels mobilized forces faster than Team Jian had anticipated. Hounded on all sides by mounted pursuers, the Warthogs took heavy fire from enemy vehicles. One blast struck Cassandra's Warthog and threw Simon from his position on the LRV's turret. Sitting in the passenger seat, Cassandra could do nothing for her teammate but replace him on the gun as Mary drove on. They regrouped with the rest of the team at the extraction point and were preparing to head back out to rescue their stricken friend when they received an urgent directive from ONI to immediately withdraw. Although horrified at the prospect of simply abandoning Simon on a hostile world, Team Jian could not disobey a direct order. Cassandra and Mary were forced to restrain a mutinous Ralph as their Pelican lifted off, leaving Mamore—and Simon—in the dust.
For most of Team Jian, the loss of Simon on Mamore was a devastating new experience. For Cassandra, it was yet another friend and teammate lost in a war that seemed to have no victories. As the Spartans struggled to cope with the fact that they had left a comrade behind, they learned the reason for their sudden withdrawal: a Covenant fleet had discovered andEarth. All available Spartans were being recalled to defend humanity's homeworld in what many believed would be the UNSC's final stand. Cassandra found herself welcoming the news of this catastrophic development. She was swiftly losing all faith in victory and was relieved by the idea that she would most likely die before the bitter end.
"I Was Wrong to Lose Hope"
- "This is it. This is the end. I guess part of me is glad Irving and Simon and the others didn't live to see this. At least they died thinking there might still be hope."
- ―Cassandra-G006 reflects upon the impending fall of Earth
Team Jian arrived at theto find it beset on all sides by fleets of Covenant warships. The was scattered across Earth's orbit, desperately trying to hold back the alien assault on humanity's homeworld. Cassandra and her teammates slipped through the Covenant encirclement in a Prowler and deployed to the Gaza region of Earth's Palestinian Federation. With the Covenant invasion force focusing its efforts on the a great deal of pressure was put on the Middle East region as the Covenant fought to eliminate all UNSC forces close enough to disrupt its operations on the African continent. In spite of her defeatist ennui Cassandra could not help but be awed at the thought of setting foot on Earth near one of humanity's earliest known civilizations. Her fascination with the region was not shared by the rest of the team—still sobered by the loss of Simon, the once boisterous Spartans of Team Jian grimly prepared for what was sure to be the last battle of their lives.
Assigned to a UNSC Army detachment under the command of, Team Jian immediately plunged into combat against Covenant forces. Cassandra fought tirelessly alongside the rest of Jian as they harassed ground patrols and sabotaged enemy encampments. Seeing no hope of victory, she was only motivated by her desire to keep her friends alive for as long as possible. As the battle raged on around them she struck up a strange friendship with Ralph-G299. The once-hostile Ralph still grieved the loss of Simon and was himself beginning to doubt that all the Spartans' hardship had any meaning at all. Team Jian forged on as Earth's defenses crumbled in the face of a Covenant invasion force that swelled in size with each passing day.
Shortly after Team Jian's arrival on Earth ONI field operatives noted strange. Hoping to capitalize on this unexpected turn of events, UNSC High Command ordered a general counter-offensive across the entire Earth theater. Jian joined the vanguard of General Speakman's counterattack, pushing out from her headquarters in Jerusalem to push back the Covenant and cut them off from their supply lines. For the first few days the attack went well and the Army's armored units punched through the disorganized Covenant forces. But the aliens swiftly regrouped and the under-equipped attack force was forced to retreat once again. Team Jian joined one armored convoy on the road back to Jerusalem only to come under attack by Banshees and Wraiths. With their Warthog under heavy fire, Cassandra, Terrence, and Mary were driven away from the convoy and forced to seek cover in the nearby town of Bethlehem. The Spartans dug in as Sangheili-led patrols closed in and Cassandra believed the end had finally arrived. The trio's ferocious defense drove the Covenant back again and again, but they soon ran low on ammunition and the aliens pressed in for the kill. First Terrence and then Mary fell to enemy fire, leaving Cassandra alone to face the remaining Covenant.
In the weeks leading up to the firefight at Bethlehem Cassandra had resolved to accept her inevitable death. But the sight of yet more friends dying in front of her pushed her over the edge into a desperate fury. She fought on with the last of her ammunition before—armed only with a combat knife—she launched herself at the last of the Covenant. During the melee that followed Cassandra single-handedly killed three Sangheili along with over a dozen Kig-Yar and Unggoy. The bloody skirmish at Bethlehem ended with only Cassandra left standing. The badly wounded Spartan struggled to treat her own wounds but quickly realized there was little she could do to mitigate the injuries. Convinced that she was dying, Cassandra dragged herself into the nearest shelter she could find: a nearby abandoned church. As she awaited death, Cassandra was comforted by memories of her mother and the friends she had lost to the war. Reaffirming the religious faith she had once held, Cassandra used what she thought to be her final moments to pray for the rest of her friends in Gamma Company. She lost consciousness near the altarpiece, puzzled to find herself truly at peace with the prospect of death.
- Cassandra-G006: "How do you make sense of it all, after everything that's happened?"
- Taylor Miles: "Well, it's a tricky thing, isn't it. Big galaxy out there. We've got all this tech and we think we've got it all figured out. But our ancestors had things we don't have. Perspective. They were brave enough to admit that sometimes there's problems we just can't handle all by ourselves."
- ―Cassandra discussing religion with Taylor Miles
Cassandra was discovered in the church the following morning by a rescue team led by Jake and Ralph. Barely alive, she was whisked off to an ONI medical facility in Jerusalem to be treated for her injuries. With Jake and Ralph diverted to the front lines she was left alone in her hospital bed. There Cassandra took solace in her rediscovered faith. She requested a Bible from one of the orderlies and passed the time leafing through it, trying to make sense of the scriptures—many of which struck her as bizarre and incomprehensible. Despite her textual difficulties, Cassandra felt compelled by a yearning to faith unlike anything she had ever experienced through ONI and the Spartan program. A chance encounter with, a deeply spiritual ODST, helped her organize her thoughts and newfound religious convictions.
- "We're alive. The war's over. But we didn't win. All the pain, all the death, and it wasn't enough. The only reason we weren't wiped out is because the Covenant imploded from the inside. This wasn't a victory, but we're treating it like one. And somehow that just makes it all worse."
- ―Cassandra regarding the end of the Human-Covenant War
Just as Cassandra was deemed fit for combat she received the troubling news that Ralph, shaken by the loss of so many friends and the trauma of constant combat, had attempted suicide. With the wounded Ralph hospitalized and pending psychological evaluation Team Jian was deemed critically understrength and removed from further combat operations as the battle for Earth continued to rage. Cassandra and Jake were escorting supply convoys to refugee camps when they received word of the shocking private memorial shrine to honor the fallen IIIs. Cassandra was also troubled on the spiritual front by the revelations about the and the galaxy's ancient history that came with the wars end. Though her faith held strong she was deeply uncomfortable with the truths about the Forerunners she was forced to confront.and the end of the Human-Covenant War. The war's end came as a shock to Cassandra, who despire her spiritual awakening remained convinced humanity would never win. While the UEG celebrated its "victory," Cassandra realized that the end of the conflict was nothing short of a miracle. The loss of so many friends weighed heavily upon her and the rest of the surviving Gammas as they faced the advent of a peace they had never known in their short lives. Furthermore, as tales of heroic Spartan-IIs such as circulated throughout the colonies, the IIIs grew to realize that their sacrifices and hardships would remain unknown and uncelebrated by the people they had fought so hard to defend. Though Cassandra never hungered for personal glory she hated the idea that her lost comrades might be utterly forgotten. Soon after the war's end she joined a group of her fellow Gammas in planning a
"I'm Not Your Enemy"
- Erin Coney: "Mamore is in open rebellion. This kind of secession cannot be tolerated, especially not now. Team Jian, you are to assist the fleet in ending this insurrection once and for all."
- Cassandra-G006: "Ma'am, do we have permission to look for Simon?"
- Erin Coney: "It's been months since Gamma Two Nine Four was declared missing in action. I wouldn't count on him still being alive, Spartan. Focus on your mission objectives so you don't end up just like him."
- — Erin Coney briefs Team Jian on the Mamore uprising
The Spartans' strange encounter with peace was short lived. Not a month after the end of the Human-Covenant War Team Jian received word that Insurrectionists had fully overthrown Mamore's crumbling colonial government and turned the planet into an independent rebel bastion. Fearing that inaction would lead to a domino effect of secessionist colonies, UNSC High Command rallied its tattered forces for a full-scale invasion of Mamore. Cassandra and the rest of Jian were assigned to a NAVSPECWAR advance force due to their previous experience on the planet. Though none of them had given up hope that Simon might still be alive, Team Jian had little time to focus on anything but the mission at hand. The independent Mamore needed to be conquered quickly and completely and the Spartans were soon thrust back onto the battlefield as the tip of the invasion force's spear.
- Cassandra-G006: "Look at this place. These people lived with nothing when the CAA was in charge. No wonder they all rushed to side with the Insurrection. At least the rebels gave them hope."
- Jake-G293: "Don't ever let me hear you saying things like that again. ONI has spooks asking after anyone with Innie sympathies these days."
- ―Team Jian patrols a village on Mamore
Although the rebels were dug in across the planet, they were no match for waves of battle-hardened UNSC troops with full orbital support. Most of Mamore's major population centers fell during the first week of the invasion. Cassandra, Jake, and Ralph inserted intoto assist Marines in clearing urban centers. With their morale shattered by the ferocity of the UNSC counter-offensive, most of the rebels remaining in the cities quickly surrendered. The Jian Spartans were almost as surprised by the UNSC successes as the rebels; the Human-Covenant War had conditioned them to expect hard-fought battles against a ferocious enemy. Months earlier Cassandra had been driven by her hatred of the Covenant and desire to defend humanity but now she felt little more than pity for the desperate Insurrectionists Team Jian captured. But dreams of a quick victory were cut short; most of the rebel forces had retreated into Mamore's foothills and mountain regions before the cities fell. There they dug in and continued to wage bloody war against the UNSC invaders. As the fighting moved from the cities into rural farms and villages Cassandra was appalled by the poverty most of Mamore's population endured under both the Colonial Administration Authority and their new Insurrectionist leaders. Without the desperation of the Human-Covenant War to focus her attention she was quickly coming to do the unthinkable: question her role as a cog in the UNSC's war machine.
While responding to reports of rebel artillery fire in a mountainside village, Team Jian and a platoon of Marines found themselves under attack from hundreds of desperate rebel troops. The Spartans dug in and fended off wave after wave of Insurrectionist attacks, pulling rifles out of dead rebel hands after their own ammunition ran dry. Team Jian and the Marines fought for nearly two hours until UNSC reinforcements let them break the enemy assault and launch a counterattack. The battle's aftermath saw a hillside strewn with rebel dead—a sight that sickened Cassandra with memories of the Human-Covenant War's carnage. The sight of many child soldiers—boys and girls technically Cassandra's own age—troubled her, but only after overhearing a Marine break down over one of the children's bodies did she realize just how profoundly taboo the practice she herself was living proof of was.
- "Redmond Venter. Former ODST and NAVSPECWAR operative, deserted after the war and joined the rebels. This traitor's one of the only field commanders who's actually been giving us trouble out there. They say he's got his own special agent, some 'attack dog' he sends to pick off high value targets. Then there's Gavin Dunn, chief propaganda officer and one of the only remaining members of the initial secession movement. We finally have them where we want them. Eliminate Venter and Dunn and this campaign will effectively be over."
- ―Team Jian's briefing on the Enico Grosso assault
After nearly two months of fighting Team Jian was finally pulled away from mop-up operations and prepped for a major offensive. Their target was Redmond Venter, one of the last Insurrectionist field commanders to truly pose a threat to UNSC operations on Mamore. With Venter's forces dug in at a former CAA outpost, Team Jian was ordered to eliminate him and his associate Gavin Dunn in the hopes that such a blow would cripple the remaining Insurrectionist holdouts. In the hours before the assault commenced, Cassandra quietly confided her doubts about the UNSC's mission on Mamore. Her abrasive teammate surprised her by admitting that he himself felt adrift and disillusioned with the government they and their brothers and sisters had been raised to serve. In spite of their misgivings the Spartans agreed to fight on together, if only in the hopes of keeping each other alive and hopefully bringing the war closer to an end. When the attack on Venter's forces began, Team Jian scaled the mountainside and descended on the outpost alongside squads of ODSTs. The Spartans slipped through the chaos of battle to seek out their targets. But upon breaching Venter's command bunker they did not find the Insurrectionist commander. Instead they were confronted by a familiar young man clad in battered SPI armor: Simon-G294, their lost teammate and now an Insurrectionist agent.
- "I don't know what's happened to Simon but the way Jake is now, he'll kill him. Get after 'em. Save Simon. Save them both. I've got these bastards."
Cassandra had no time to register the full implications of Simon's survival and appearance within an Insurrectionist compound. Team Jian came under fire from the command bunker's automated defenses, giving Simon a window to flee the scene. The Spartans quickly pursued but Cassandra and Ralph were delayed by more rebel forces as Jake went after Simon alone. As the battle raged, Ralph continued to engage rebel squads while urging Cassandra to hurry after Jake. Cassandra tracked her team leader to an underground hangar removed from the worst of the UNSC assault. There she was shocked to discover that Simon had managed to overcome and subdue Jake. Cassandra tried to reason with her former teammate but was interrupted by the arrival of Redmond Venter, the field commander Jian had been sent to eliminate. The veteran soldier attacked Cassandra and proved himself one of the most skilled fighters she had ever faced. He overcame Cassandra in spite of her augmentations, shooting her twice before gutting her with a machete wound that left her unconscious and struggling for life on the hangar floor.
She awoke hours later to find herself aboard a shuttle already deep within Slipspace. Confused and disoriented, she discovered her wounds clumsily treated and a heavily wounded Simon lying unconscious nearby. Baffled and frightened by everything that had taken place, she briefly considered embracing her identity as a loyal Spartan by killing her treacherous comrade. But everything she had witnessed on Mamore—the poverty, desperate populace, and the horrors of waging war against her fellow humans—stayed her hand. She realized that she could no longer be the same dedicated soldier who killed the UNSC’s enemies without question. Instead she treated Simon’s wounds before attending to her own. Still week from her injuries, she limped up to the cockpit in an effort to take control and reorient herself. There she finally met Diana, the experimental responsible for ensuring Simon’s survival and escape from Mamore. The cunning AI refused to turn over control of the shuttle. Cassandra’s hopes for peaceful resolution faded as she realized that she was trapped in space alongside a hostile AI and a rebel agent warped into someone completely different from the Simon she had known.
- "I’m sick of fighting. We’ve spent our whole lives blindly serving power. But now, maybe we can find a way out of all that. I'm not sure who you are anymore, but if we can keep ourselves from killing each other we've got a chance to get away from war. Maybe forever."
- ―Cassandra-G006 to Simon-G294
Simon vindicated Cassandra’s fears when he awoke. Panicked by the thought of his former teammate having the upper hand, he immediately attacked her. The Spartans briefly scuffled, but their wounds prevented them from doing any real harm and they both soon collapsed. As a delirious Simon struggled to make sense of the situation, Cassandra realized he was suffering from acute Smoother withdrawal and reluctantly shared some of her own limited supply. The medication calmed Simon down enough for the two Spartans to finally agree to a wary truce. Cassandra learned that after being left behind on Mamore Simon had eventually fallen in with a gang of street urchins and been pressed into service with the rebel militia. Embittered against the UNSC, he had embraced the Insurrection only to become disillusioned by the same senseless violence and cruelty that had shaken Cassandra’s own faith in the UNSC. The two Spartans realized that they were both adrift in a hostile galaxy neither of them could make sense of any longer. Though traces of her sense of duty remained, Cassandra realized that she had been presented with an incredible opportunity: freedom to find life away from the UNSC.
"This Changes Everything"
Though resolved to seek our life beyond the UNSC and its wars, each Spartan held only a wary trust of the other. Cassandra did not believe her decision to abandon the UNSC amounted to treasonous support of the Insurrection and its brutal tactics and remained reluctant to trust a disillusioned traitor like Simon. She had even less faith in Diana and suspected the rogue AI’s intentions were far less benign than simply helping Simon escape Mamore. With Diana and her former teammate ostensibly allied by their shared experiences with the rebels, Cassandra was isolated and outnumbered. She had no choice but to quietly recover and wait to see where in the galaxy Diana would guide the small shuttle. She and Simon kept their distance from each other, each sticking to their own small section of the ship, but with nothing else to occupy their time they slowly opened up to each other about what had happened since the fateful raid on Mamore. Simon’s grief over the loss of Mary and Terrence assured Cassandra that he had not completely turned his back on the Spartan fellowship; for her part, she struggled to understand just what he had experienced to so warp him away from the hapless but loyal teammate she had known.
The shuttle was well-stocked with provisions to last a deep-space journey but Cassandra and Simon were keenly aware that they could not simply drift through Slipspace inevitably. The stabilizing Smoother drug was their most precious and limited resource. Cassandra had her own ration of field doses and she learned that Simon had made do with a makeshift combination of behavioral drugs to endure the strain of missing his own prescribed doses. Prolonged withdrawal from the Smoother doses had a profound effect on Simon and Cassandra feared she might suffer a similar fate once her supply ran out. After over a week of drifting, Diana announced that she had detected an uninhabited planetoid. She brought the shuttle out of Slipspace and into orbit over an.
- Simon-G294: "Cassandra, don't stick your nose into any of this. Just leave it alone. We can start a new life here, just like you wanted."
- Cassandra-G006: "This isn't the life I had in mind. I'm not content to just sit on this rock the rest of my life. Are you?"
- ―Cassandra and Simon argue over the Forerunner structures
Cassandra remained suspicious of Diana’s intentions, particularly her claim that she had stumbled upon the planet purely by chance. But the discovery saved the Spartans from the slow depredations of space travel and upon discovering that the atmosphere was breathable they eagerly touched down on the planet. At a loss over what to do with their newfound freedom, Cassandra and Simon slipped into military-style reconnaissance of their new environment. Among the bountiful foliage and geologic structures they found unnatural structures of alien design. Cassandra quickly recognized them from the Forerunner briefings she had received following the end of the Great War. She tried explaining the extinct alien race to a dubious Simon, who had been cut off from humanity's latest discoveries. Diana was quick to warn the Spartans away from the Forerunner structures, citing vague dangers contained within. Simon was all too willing to heed the AI's warnings, but Cassandra's mistrust of the AI only deepened her desire to investigate the alien ruins that had caused her so much spiritual doubt. While Simon dreamed of an idyllic life in isolation on the new world, Cassandra planned to forge deeper into the Forerunner structures and seek out the secrets held within.
Venturing into one of the largest structures she could find, Cassandra was eventually joined by a reluctant Simon when he followed her over Diana's protestations. Together, they made their way into the heart of the strange alien facility. There they encountered aencased within a glowing energy field. Cassandra inadvertently triggered a security system and the sphere reacted violently, its chassis burning away and filling the room with unstable energy blasts. Simon was caught in one such blast and Cassandra was forced to drag him to safety as the facility activated around them. Hostile attack drones pursued them through the jungle and only Diana's remote piloting of their shuttle allowed them to escape in time. The shuttle fled the planet under heavy fire from Sentinels and made an emergency jump away from the now-hostile haven.
- Simon-G294: "We really suck."
- Cassandra-G006: "You got that right."
- ―Cassandra and Simon recuperate after beating each other senseless
Driven away from their temporary refuge, the Spartans' problems worsened when the shuttle's Slipspace drive malfunctioned and left them stranded in deep space. Simon, left shaken and erratic by his experience in the Forerunner temple, blamed Cassandra for their misfortune and the truce between traitor and deserter finally deteriorated. Trapped within the confines of the shuttle, the Spartans beat each other bloody but found themselves hesitating to use more direct, lethal means to finish the battle. After nearly an hour-long brawl the weakened combatants collapsed and admitted defeat, unwilling to kill each other even in their most dire of circumstances.
As the Spartans recovered and took stock of their situation, Diana alerted them to the approach of another vessel. The newcomer, a damaged Tuka 'Refum who’s panicked surrender caught both of them off-guard. At Diana’s suggestion they restrained and interrogated their prisoner to learn what had happened during their absence from galactic affairs., swiftly moved to restrain and board the human shuttle. Almost relieved by the appearance of a familiar, common enemy, Cassandra and Simon armed themselves and ambushed the Covenant boarding party when the aliens breached the shuttle. The reinvigorated Spartans killed all of the Lich’s crew save one: a young Sangheili named
From Tuka they learned that awas waging war against the UNSC across the frontier. Cassandra was shocked and dismayed to learn that the peace she and her friends had sacrificed so much to secure was now little more than a memory. Stricken with memories of friends and loved ones being slaughtered by Sangheili warriors, Cassandra nearly beat Tuka to death in a fit of passion before being restrained by Simon. Aghast at her own brutality she withdrew to be alone as Simon continued speaking with the battered Tuka. Cassandra was shocked by Simon’s willingness to engage with the Sangheili and found herself grappling with her own suppressed hatreds and the scars the Great War had left on her soul. Thanks to Simon’s surprising ability to connect with Tuka, the young warrior revealed the hiding place of a second Covenant survivor: a , or “Engineer,” called Drifts Off Course. After recovering from its fright over the violence, the strange alien set to work repairing not only the Lich’s systems but also the shuttle’s Slipspace drive. It was Cassandra’s first nonviolent interaction with an alien and she could not help but marvel at Drifts’ near-miraculous ability to manipulate technology. With both vessels repaired, the Spartans allowed Tuka and Drifts to return safely to the Lich. Despite the deaths of his comrades and his own rough treatment, the young warrior still departed with words of reluctant friendship. Cassandra was left to reflect on just how little she really knew about the creatures she had considered her lifelong enemies.
"What Do I Do Now?"
The repaired shuttle brought the fugitive Spartans to trading hub colony, a planet Simon deemed far enough along the UEG’s frontier for them to avoid attracting ONI’s attention. With Diana’s help they made contact with the local black market and sold the shuttle in exchange for funds and illicit documents passing them off as war refugees. It was Cassandra’s first time moving freely as a civilian—albeit a covert fugitive—and she was amazed at the how different the world seemed without the military filters she’d lived with her whole life. While Simon insisted on hiding in their tiny apartment Cassandra took to exploring Talitsa’s streets, relying on Diana’s digital interference to hide her face from government surveillance. Used to surviving on minimal resources, she shrugged off her poverty and living conditions and immersed herself in a world she had never known. Overwhelmed by the notion of truly starting over in a world that amazed her even more than the Forerunner planet, she asked Simon to set aside his own past and join her in building a peaceful life. The offer caught Simon off-guard and forced both Spartans to consider the strange nature of their relationship. Cassandra was unaccustomed to seeing her fellow Spartans as something beyond family and teammates, but exposure to “regular” human life—awash in unbridled sensuality and depictions of romantic relationships—impelled Cassandra to seriously examine her feelings for Simon—feelings she knew he also grappled with. Woefully unequipped to handle her own budding amorous feelings, and with no one else to consult she turned to Diana for help. The AI’s unsparing analysis revealed a side of Cassandra she had never known: that of an instinctive manipulator looking to use Simon’s desperation to get what she wanted. Diana’s criticism left Cassandra ashamed of her own impulses and she withdrew to give her companion space.
Cassandra’s strange first experience with civilian life—along with its unwelcome “ordinary“ social pressures—proved to be short lived. Despite Diana’s digital protection, the UEG’s immense surveillance apparatus quickly identified Simon and alerted ONI. With the military’s net closing over him once again, Simon made plans to flee the planet and urged Cassandra to use the opportunity to sever her dangerous times with him. Though part of Cassandra yearned to return to the dutiful certainty of military service she could not bring herself to abandon her friend and the freedom she had come to cherish. Guided by Diana, the fugitive Spartans stowed away aboard a colonial freighter bound for. Insisting that the military presence on the glassed UNSC fortress world was light, Diana assured her charges that they would be able to lie low in the wilderness until ONI gave up its pursuit. When the freighter touched down on the ruined world the Spartans slipped away into the mountains—unaware that their pursuers were not far behind.
As Diana guided them higher into the mountains, Cassandra began to suspect that the AI’s oddly specific directions held an ulterior motive other than simply helping them escape capture. Her misgivings proved correct when Diana led them to yet another Forerunner chamber ensconced within the mountains. Diana admitted that she had learned about the chamber while interfaced with the network on their previous Forerunner sanctuary and Cassandra could not help but wonder just how much of her own agenda the AI was concealing from her and Simon. Irritated by Simon’s continued willingness to trust Diana, Cassandra refused to enter the chamber and remained outside as Simon disappeared within. But Cassandra’s situation took a turn for the worse when ONI Pelicans converged on her position and disgorged teams of Spartans onto the mountainside. Retreating into the chamber, she interrupted Simon in the midst of interfacing with a strange Forerunner device. As the ONI team breached the chamber, Diana used the Forerunner network to teleport Simon away—leaving Cassandra to be apprehended by an ONI team headed by a pair of all-too familiar Spartans: Cassandra’s former comrades from Team Jian, Jake-G293 and Ralph-G299.
- "Simon’s a traitor. I can’t pretend he’s innocent of that and I know I betrayed you all by helping him. But he didn’t need to keep me alive once he got off Mamore. Someone told him to kill me, but he didn’t. Whatever else he’s become, he’s still a Spartan. Are you guys still ready to kill him, knowing that? Is that all it means to be a Spartan?"
- ―Cassandra to Jake and Ralph
Outgunned and unwilling to fire on her friends, Cassandra surrendered without a fight. Although alarmed by her behavior, Jake and Ralph quickly took charge of escorting her back to their dropship while promising to protect her from ONI reprisal. But their bittersweet reunion was cut short by the arrival of a new figure: Commander Sarah Palmer, leader of the ONI retrieval team and foremost in the UNSC’s new generation of Spartans. Caught in the commander’s fierce line of questioning, Cassandra quickly realized that Palmer was eager to use the hunt for Simon as an opportunity to prove herself and her fellow SPARTAN-IVs in the field against their predecessors. But the commander’s fruitless interrogation was soon interrupted when her superiors locked onto a far more valuable prize than a pair of rogue Spartans: the Forerunner artifact Diana had used Simon to interface with. Ordered to immediately return to orbit with Cassandra and the Forerunner artifact, a frustrated Palmer left the hunt for Simon to Ralph and a small team of ONI operatives. Cassandra could do nothing to protect Simon from Ralph save appeal to the bond they had all shared in Team Jian as she was led away.
Taken to an ONI frigate in orbit above Reach, Cassandra was stripped of her armor and imprisoned in the ship’s brig pending official investigation into her involvement with Simon. Though officially considered a rogue accessory to Simon’s treachery, Cassandra was spared most of the indignities usually associated with imprisonment by ONI. The favorable treatment was thanks in part to Jake and other sympathetic Gamma Spartans among the ONI task force but also, surprising, to Sarah Palmer herself. Despite her abrasive demeanor Palmer was convinced that Cassandra was simply an unwitting victim of Simon’s machinations. Cassandra couldn’t help but be amused upon discovering that Palmer and her ONI superiors believed that Simon was a cunning Insurrectionist mastermind responsible not only for atrocities on Mamore but also for manipulating her into forsaking her loyalty to the UNSC. Cassandra's defense of her companion only deepened Palmer's conviction that she was a victim of Simon's machinations. Upon reaching Earth, Cassandra and the artifact were transferred to an ONI black site beneath the metropolis of Philadelphia. There, a furious Jake informed Cassandra of the unthinkable: back on Reach Simon had slaughtered the ONI search team, including Ralph.
"Who Could Have Done This?"
See also: Enemies Old and New
Shaken by the news of Ralph's death, Cassandra remained confined in her cell as she struggled to decide exactly where her loyalty's lay. Increasingly suspicious of Diana's role in manipulating Simon—from the Insurrection to the encounters with Forerunner relics—she could not shake the feeling that her friend might be just as dangerous as Commander Palmer and the other hunters believed. However, she had witnessed a darker side of the UNSC and knew she could never simply return to the life of a loyal Spartan. Her ruminations were cut short when the Philadelphia facility unexpectedly came under attack from an Insurrectionist strike team. Unable to make sense of the battle from within her cell, Cassandra was shocked when a Sangheili warrior sliced through the doors. Tuka 'Refum, the same warrior whom she had nearly killed in deep space, revealed that the entire raid had been orchestrated by Simon in an effort to free her. Caught amidst the bloodshed Simon had unleashed on her behalf, Cassandra reluctantly took up arms against the ONI troopers rushing to subdue Tuka. After retrieving her SPI armor, Cassandra and Tuka tried to retreat back to Simon's position. Along the way they encountered the storage vault containing Forerunner artifact from Reach. Seized by a sudden resolve not to leave such a device in ONI's hands, Cassandra insisted that Tuka help her disable it. The Sangheili hesitated to harm a "sacred relic" and Cassandra took matters into her own hands, using Tuka's energy sword to crack the artifact's protective casing. The damaged artifact unexpectedly generated a miniature Slipspace rupture that began tearing the chamber apart. Cassandra and Tuka fled the room as a series of explosions rocked the underground facility.
The Spartan and Sangheili barely escaped the collapsing black site, emerging to a surface riddled with fire and carnage. Missile blasts from a UNSC frigate overhead cut a furious swath of destruction through downtown Philadelphia, leveling buildings and reducing entire blocks to rubble. Horrified, Cassnadra and Tuka did their best to help anyone in the vicinity. As the frigate continued blasting away at the city, Cassandra finally found a badly wounded Simon, delirious and barely concious, collapsed amidst the rubble. As she struggled to stabilize her would-be rescuer, Diana contacted her with instructions to prepare for extraction. Under fire from UNSC troops, Cassandra and Tuka carried Simon to a makeshift landing zone where an unmarked civilian freighter arrived to retrieve them. The last thing Cassandra saw before the freighter blasted away from Earth was the stricken city of Philadelphia, alight with fires as furious as anything she'd seen during the Human-Covenant War.
Aboard the freighter—a ship named the Chancer—Cassandra learned that their pilot was the very same Gavin Dunn Team Jian had been tasked with assassinating back on Mamore. Deeply suspecting that Diana bore ultimate responsibility for Philadelphia's destruction, Cassandra was nonetheless stricken by the carnage Simon had brought about on her behalf. Privately fearing that destroying the Forerunner artifact had contributed to the massacre, she understood that the choice to return to the UNSC was forever lost to her. Gavin brought the fugitives to the independent colony ofwhere they stood a chance of escaping the UNSC's retribution. Tuka departed to return to his Covenant brethren while Gavin beat a hasty retreat into frontier space. Left with Diana and the recovering Simon, Cassandra realized that she could no longer simply follow in Simon's wake. After making sure her friend would make a full recovery, Cassandra struck out on her own to see what Venezia had to offer.
"Something Besides Fighting"
After leaving Simon behind Cassandra found herself alone on New Tyne's dusty streets. Though freedom from her past left her exhilerated, she realized that she had no idea what to do with it. She aimlessly wandered the streets for several days, observing the rampant crime and poverty that pervaded the so-called independent world. Once again forced to admit that she knew next to nothing about the civilian life she aspired to, Cassandra was almost relieved when a nearby gang dispute erupted into violence and left several bystanders wounded. She rushed to the scene of the shooting and administered first aid to the victims. Her quick action impressed the second responder to the shooting: a local militia sergeant named Nhat Tram. Knowing military training when she saw it, Sergeant Tram attempted to recruit Cassandra for her militia unit. Although Cassandra politely refused to work for what she knew were Insurrectionist-backed forces, she let Tram thank her by giving her a place to spend the night. In Tram's apartment she learned that the situation on Venezia was as bad as it looked: though the local militias maintained some semblance of order, the real power on the planet was held by a powerful criminal empire known symply as the Syndicate. Tram deduced that her houseguest had some form of UNSC connection and warned Cassandra to keep her origins a secret on deeply partisan Venezia. Nevertheless, she suggested that the young woman put her skills to work in a small clinic Tram's family had once maintained in New Tyne's slums. Grateful to finally have a useful, non-violent outlet for her skills, Cassandra agreed and set up shop in the abandoned clinic.
Eager to begin ministering to the poor in the slums, Cassandra set to work refurbishing the clinic. But she remained hopelessly ill-equipped to deal with the realities of tackling such an ambitious endeavor. Her skill in battlefield medicine served her well when treating stab and gunshot wounds but did little to help sick and malnourished children. Furthermore, many of the slum's denizens were less than receptive to a new arrival from offworld setting up shop in their territory. Local gangs began raiding the clinic and stealing the medical supplies Tram and her unit donated to the cause. Cassandra initially hesitated to defend herself, afraid that she might quickly fall back into the violent lifestyle she had only just escaped. But it soon became clear that she could not rely on the local authorities for defense. Tram and her soldiers could hardly afford to defend one lone clinic and through the sergeant Cassandra learned that several local commanders were actually encouraging the attacks, setting up a a betting pool on how long the offworld girl would last. Reluctantly donning her SPI armor, Cassandra fell back on her Spartan training and dug in to defend the clinic. She spent over a week fending off the gangs with minimal sleep while also venturing out to continue tending to the locals as best she could. Before long, half the city was buzzing with news about her one-girl war against the slum gangs.
Though Cassandra easily outmatched the gangsters she could not hold the clinic forever. Luckily, she forged a breakthrough when one of the firefights left several gangsters wounded outside the clinic. After forcing the rest of the gang to retreat she risked venturing out of cover to treat her disabled enemies. This action shocked the slum denizens, many of whom were related to the criminals saved by the newcomer's actions. Pressured by the community, the gang's boss abandoned his efforts to storm the clinic and instead ordered his remaining fighters to take up defensive positions around the building. But this defection only enraged the other gangs, provoking them to mass for a coordinated attack. Their assault was only headed off by the arrival of Sergeant Tram's militia and a squad of mercenary enforcers under the direct control of the Syndicate. As the new arrivals cowed the gangsters into submission, Cassandra recognized a familiar figure among the mercenaries: Simon.
As the gangsters withdrew, Cassandra learned the full story from Simon. The local authorities had grown tired of the gang war and finally stepped in to restore order to the slums. Simon, for his part, had been recruited as an enforcer by the Syndicate and offered up part of his salary to his new bosses to cover the "protection fee" of ensuring the clinic would be left alone. Though dismayed to find her fellow exile firmly embedded within the Syndicate's criminal ranks, Cassandra could hardly refuse his help. With the gangs finally pacified, she was free to focus her efforts on running the clinic and educating herself on domestic medicine. Over the next few months she dedicated herself to refining and expanding the clinic operation, subsisting on donations from Tram and other sympathetic local authorities as well as the occasional surreptitious contribution from Simon. Her tireless efforts elevated her to near-celebrity status in the local community, and though uncomfortable with the attention Cassandra found herself wholly fulfilled by the work--far more so than she had even felt within the ranks of her Spartan comrades. It finally seemed possible to put the past behind her and focus on a very real future removed from the wars of the UNSC.
"Don't Let Them Own You"
- Main article: Halo: Necessary Evil
Cassandra's work in the clinic continued unabated but she was keenly aware that the criminal stranglehold on supposedly free Venezia grew tighter with every passing month. Refugees fleeing the regulatory bureaucracy of the Inner Colonies instead found themselves caught up in a brutal web of corruption spun by the Syndicate. Illegal trade flourished and the planet became known throughout the UEG as a haven for criminals, terrorists, and even ex-Covenant mercenaries. Though fulfilled by her work at the clinic Cassandra constantly felt the weight of her former Spartan identity bearing down on her. Simon's direct involvement with the Syndicate only intensified the pressure she felt to do more for the people around her. Cassandra understood the futility of taking on a system-spanning criminal network but her sense of justice could not be set aside for long.
She also struggled to match her battlefield-oriented medical training with the varied domestic needs of her patient. Entirely self-taught in the clinical field, Cassandra relied on what knowledge she could glean from Waypoint articles and frontier medical textbooks. The Syndicate's preeminence forced her to rely on Simon's contacts to acquire the healthcare pharmaceuticals she needed to treat her patients. This necessity grated on Cassandra to no end. Forced to play by the Syndicate's rules, an increasingly restless Cassandra often worked through the night and into the morning to care for her patients. When one such patient--a young boy with a heart condition--died of a drug overdose, Cassandra furiously confronted Simon over his role in the Syndicate's drug distribution. Startled by his friend's outburst, Simon promptly went out and killed several Syndicate dealers. Within hours Simon was on the run, hunted by the vengeful Syndicate and Cassandra was left to wonder if she had just doomed her last comrade on the planet.
Unable to contact the fugitive Simon, Cassandra was forced to turn to Diana. The AI--firmly ensconced in Venezia's planetary network--delighted at the opportunity to taunt Cassandra but did eventually pass on news that Simon was fighting Syndicate enforcers in a running battle across Venezia's plains. Cassandra fought back her frustration by throwing herself into her work but could not shake the guilt over spurring her friend into such a reckless action. She was almost relieved when Diana reached out to inform her that Simon had reached New Tyne's outskirts with a pack of Jiralhanae mercenaries on his heels. Cassandra donned her armor and rushed to the battlefield in time to save a badly wounded Simon from the Jiralhanae. She was surprised to discover that Simon was not alone: he had cut down nearly a dozen Jiralhanae warriors protecting an exhausted, terrified farm girl named Zoey Hunsinger.
Cassandra's intervention drove away the Jiralhanae but she knew the Syndicate would still be out in force. She brought Simon and Zoey back to her clinic with the help of a few sympathetic neighbors. But the rescue did not spell the end for Cassandra's burning guilt. Upon awakening Simon told her the terrible truth: the Syndicate had slaughtered Zoey's family after he took shelter on their farm. Shaken by the thought that she might have played a direct role in the tragedy, Cassandra took a measure of guilty relief in Simon's unexpected remorse over Zoey's family and the brutal measures he'd taken to keep her alive. She assuaged her regret by comforting Zoey when the girl awoke. In the meantime, Simon slipped away to concoct a plan with Diana to throw the Syndicate off his trail for good.
Diana's plan predictably set Cassandra's teeth on edge. While she held off the Syndicate enforcers, Simon would use the distraction to corner the local Syndicate overseer and negotiate his return to the Syndicate's employ. Cassandra despised the idea that Simon might re-shackle himself to the very people who had killed Zoey's family but realized that even two Spartans could not escape the Syndicate forever. She reluctantly agreed to the plan and used her SPI armor to lure the pursuing enforcers into New Tyne's slums. Thinking she was Simon, the enforcers assaulted the abandoned tenement where Cassandra and Zoey had dug in. Cassandra picked off one enforcer after another while protecting Zoey, but when the mercenaries finally breached the building she could not kill them quickly enough to prevent Zoey from killing one of the attackers in self-defense. The enforcers abruptly halted their attack and withdrew. As the sun dawned over New Tyne, Simon returned to inform Cassandra and Zoey that he had convinced Min Ai to relent and accept him back into the Syndicate's employ as an enforcer.
- Cassandra-G006: "Is it done?"
- Simon-G294: "Yeah, it's done."
- ―Simon returns following the end of the Syndicate's pursuit
In the aftermath of the battle Cassandra offered to house Zoey in her clinic. The newly-orphaned girl surprised both Spartans by instead insisting to tag along with Simon as his "assistant." The prospect did not thrill either Spartan, but Cassandra did not press the issue--though she warned simon not to let Zoey become too involved in Syndicate business. In the months that followed Zoey followed Simon around the city, occasionally stopping by Cassandra's clinic when his abrasive nature became too much to handle. Though happy to see Simon acting as something other than an amoral mercenary, Cassandra could not shake the lingering misgiving that she'd once again let him shoulder the burden of a guilt she should have shared.
"We're Not the Same"
- "We have this conversation every time. Don't guilt yourself into paying. If I need money, I'll ask for it."
- ―Cassandra to a local patient.
Life continued with the new vein of normalcy Cassandra had come to expect-and even enjoy-from the streets of Venezia. She made no further efforts or suggestions to challenge the Syndicate's dominance and instead stepped up her daily work with her clinic. With Simon and Zoey stopping by as frequent visitors, she fell into a busy but fulfilling rhythm in her role as local caregiver. She wanted nothing more than to embrace the mundanity of civilian life and often told herself that she was happier than she'd ever been with the UNSC. But no matter how much time and dedication she poured into her medical ministry she could not help but feel restless, anxious about galactic events outside the dusty slums where she treated sick workers and malnourished children.
Forces were moving out beyond Venezia. The resurgent Covenant grew in power, clashing with the UNSC's newfound military might. Border wars flared up across the galactic frontier as the Syndicate expanded its criminal empire. Dark rumors about violent Insurrectionist movements reached Cassandra in her clinic. The young woman-so recently free of the military strictures governing her entire life-couldn't help but feel that she had utterly failed her fellow Spartans by finding happiness in desertion. Only loyalty to her patients and a fear that ONI would use her as a weapon against Simon kept her from slipping offworld and turning herself in.
- "No. No. Stop. Get off me."
Beset by mixed feelings of guilt and duty, Cassandra was almost relieved by the fury she felt when Simon arrived at the clinic to tell her he had let Zoey leave Venezia. The orphaned farm girl had been traumatized when her mercenary caretaker had her snipe his latest target. Cassandra found a strange sense of catharsis in berating Simon, though she quickly relented when she feared she'd gone too far. What began as a furious argument became a sheepish reconciliation before escalating into something far more intimate as the two deserters gave in to long suppressed feelings for each other. Midway through the encounter Cassandra felt herself stricken with an overpowering sense of revulsion for her potential partner. She hastily called off the encounter and, after a moment's hesitation, Simon restrained himself. Embarrassed beyond words Simon abruptly left the clinic, leaving a confused Cassandra behind to sift through everything that had just happened.
Fortunately, circumstances intervened to shake Cassandra out of her stupor. The clinic soon received an unexpected visitor: Wynne-G327, a SPARTAN-III turned ONI agent. Though initially terrified to have an ONI operative standing in her clinic Cassandra quickly realized that Wynne posed no immediate threat. Her former comrade was hunting an Insurrectionist terror cell and believed Simon was involved with the rebels. Disappointed when Cassandra refused to divulge Simon’s whereabouts, Wynne left with a parting comment that the “harmless” Cassandra posed no threat to ONI’s operations. Her pride stung by the dismissal, Cassandra tried to warn Simon of Wynne’s presence only to learn through Diana that he’d dropped off the grid. She suspected the AI was intentionally stonewalling her but the situation resolved itself without her interference: Wynne hunted Simon down only to join forces with him to drive off her real targets. But the encounter with another Spartan had a similar impact on Simon. Rather than be relieved that ONI no longer actively wanted him dead, he felt insulted at the thought of as diminished and harmless. He left Venezia shortly afterwards to pursue larger Syndicate contracts, giving Cassandra only a cursory farewell without addressing their embarrassing encounter.
Cassandra was saddened to see Simon vanish deeper into the Syndicate’s web but relieved for the space and privacy to collect her thoughts. She continued her ministry on Venezia even as Insurrectionist fervor mounted and anti-Earth sentiment reached a fevered pitch. Planetary militias, once content to serve as local law enforcement, became more violent and actively persecuted anyone suspected of having ties to the UEG and Inner Colonies. Amidst the rising tension Cassandra met a local boy named Gerald Cuza. Gerald’s father had served in the UNSC Marine Corps before migrating his family to Venezia and Gerald proudly wore parts of his father’s old uniform despite their negative connotations in the minds of most rebels. After catching Gerald pilfering from her medical stores, Cassandra hosted him at her clinic and eventually agreed to let him work for her as a medicine runner in the surrounding slums.
- "They murdered him over his hat. Shot him down in some alley and bragged about it. What am I even doing here? This is the sort of thing I'm supposed to be fighting."
- ―Cassandra on Gerald Cuza's execution
Though she knew Gerald’s chief motivation for hanging around the clinic was a prepubescent crush on her, the lonely Cassandra enjoyed the boy’s company and hoped to pass on enough skills so that he could do more jobs around the clinic. Unfortunately, this hope never came to pass. On his way home from the clinic one evening Gerald was picked out by a local militia for his UNSC headgear. Eager to make an example of the “oonskie sympathizer,” the militia members lined the boy up against the nearest wall and shot him. Cassandra only learned of Gerald’s execution when the responsible militia proudly broadcast footage of their firing squad the following morning. The furious Cassandra was restrained from retaliating only by the thought that the patients at her clinic needed her more than the murdered Gerald. Frustrated and angry at what she felt was her own cowardice and hypocrisy, Cassandra once again threw herself into her work with the clinic. But her restraint did not buy her any reprieve from the militias. They quickly learned that Gerald worked at her clinic and it was only a matter of time before they decided to make an example of another “spy.”
Personality and Traits
- "'Heroes don't kill.' That's what he said to me, once. But I'm no hero, no matter what anyone says. I can deal out death just as easily as I can save lives. Maybe easier. Sometimes there's a way to avoid killing, but out here that's usually not the case. I'm done trying to hide from that fact. There's already blood on my hands. All I can do is try to make sure it's the right blood."
Quiet and perceptive from a young age, Cassandra's subdued attitude often made her indistinguishable from the traditionally reserved Spartans. The early traumas of her childhood coupled with the brutal training she endured on Onyx made her eager to avoid unwanted attention while simply focusing on correcting her own deficiencies. Like many of her peers, she was uncomfortable with strangers and preferred remaining within her own tight-knit fireteam family. But the death of Team Kopis, her subsequent integration with Team Jian, and the experience of surviving on the frontier forced her to emerge from her introverted shell and face both the trials of combat and the less-familiar realities of mundane civilian life. The quiet, unassertive girl from Onyx was became forged into a survivor determined to find her own way in a galaxy she yearned to understand. Life on the run forced her to fully integrate into the civilian communities on the frontier, where she learned to become more expressive and assertive.
Having lost so many friends and loved ones to the Great War and the conflicts that followed, Cassandra is deeply committed to both protecting those she cares about and doing what she can to salve the injustices and suffering she is forced to confront wherever she goes. But despite her moral convictions, beneath her compassionate and empathetic demeanor lurks a fighter as skilled and ruthless as any Spartan. Though her spiritual and moral convictions are at constant odds with the violence she inflicts, Cassandra has developed a personal philosophy of Spartans as something more than just highly effective supersoldiers. In her mind, the brutal training and augmentations inflicted on her as a child neither absolves her from the consequences of her actions nor excuses her from the responsibility of using her skills to help others whenever possible. In retaining her identity as a Spartan while rejecting the UNSC’s violent military hegemony, Cassandra uses her training and abilities to save as many lives as possible while limiting the carnage inevitably left in even the most well-intentioned Spartan’s wake.
With human culture awash in secularism and increasingly esoteric spiritual movements, Cassandra's embrace of traditional Christianity is something of a rarity among the colonists of the frontier. The relative lack of spirituality among Spartans meant that her return to the religion of her childhood has been largely self-taught through reading various historical and theological texts. In a society where proselytization is largely frowned upon, she keeps her religious beliefs to herself to avoid sparking conflict. The lack of a shared religious community affects her deeply and contributes to her relative isolation. Cassandra's high amounts of contact with Forerunner prehistory forces her to balance the conflicting realities of the Forerunners and Christian doctrine. Nevertheless, she is convinced that the spirit of God is present at all times in the universe and carries that confidence with her through the trials and tribulations of life on the frontier.
Skills and Abilities
- "You kill again, I kill you."
- ―Cassandra to the renegade Simon-G294
Although the trainers on Onyx only provided Cassandra with basic training in field medicine, her natural talent for the work and her desire to advance as far as she could pushed her to move beyond simply mastering the simple techniques taught by the drill instructors. Under the tutelage of Aspen-B145 and the guidance of Deep Winter, Cassandra not only learned more advanced methods of combat medicine but also how to work wonders with the limited medical resources available to her on the battlefield. When Gamma Company deployed against the Covenant, Cassandra earned the respect of her peers by saving the lives of dozens of fellow Spartans, UNSC personnel, and civilians on the battlefield. She was known for using the equipment in her medical satchel to heal wounds deemed impossible to treat without trained surgeons in advanced medical facilities. With her departure from the UNSC and its military chain of command, Cassandra has only increased her expertise in many different medical fields as she strives to save as many lives as possible amidst the brutality of endless war. In addition to her comprehensive knowledge of human anatomy, she has expanded her studies into the physiology of the many former Covenant races she encounters on the galaxy's fringe.
- "Your victims were wrong about you. It was a small target, but you had a heart after all."
- ―Cassandra-G006 upon killing Chieftain Mallunus
During her training on Onyx, Cassandra's particularly low combat scores rivaled even those of the infamous Simon-G294. Her focus on field medicine caused her to devote less time to honing her combat skills, though her team's supportive environment kept her prepared for the combat-oriented challenges Chief Mendez constantly threw at the trainees. Following Gamma Company's deployment Cassandra's battlefield experiences, particularly the loss of her team, forced her to become a better combatant. True improvement, however, came following her departure from the UNSC. Simon taught her aggressive close-quarters fighting techniques he learned from the Insurrectionist commander Redmond Venter while the dangers of the fringe gave her experience in surviving without the tools and advantages of deploying as UNSC special forces. Although many from Gamma Company refuse to believe the change, Cassandra is a highly competent fighter as well as a field medic. She often uses pistols in order to keep her hands as free as possible and is a crack shot with the. She also makes use of knives during close combat, using her anatomical knowledge and natural precision to deliver quick, devastating cuts to vulnerable body regions. Cassandra's personal convictions mean that she refrains from killing her opponents whenever it is possible and practical by targeting non-lethal disabling points on the body; she often carries a modified M6 loaded with tranquilizer rounds. Nevertheless, she remains willing to fight and kill aggressively in order to save lives and protect those close to her.
Literary Appearances (by chronology)