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- "Maybe they died for a stupid war. Maybe they didn't save the galaxy or bring peace to human civilization. But they took me in when no one else gave a damn, after my own team followed orders and left me to die on Mamore. They had nothing, but they brought me in and helped me stay alive. They were my friends, and every one of them was braver than any Spartan I ever knew."
- ―Simon-G294 on the deaths of Rat Pack
Rat Pack was the name adopted by a gang of orphaned children living on the UNSC colony of secession attempt following the end of the war with the Covenant. When the Simon-G294 became stranded on Mamore, he was taken in by Rat Pack and later joined them in taking up arms against the invading UNSC forces when the uprising began.during the final months of the . Caught up in the violence sparked by the planet's powerful , they were used as child soldiers during Mamore's
- "You are my real family"
- ―Simon-G294 to Emily
Mamore was a hotbed of rebel activity during theand many insurgent factions and cells were formed and based within the colony's more rural areas. The emergence of the did little to quell the anti-UNSC sentiment even after a series of Covenant raids left thousands of colonists dead. Starting in 2536, a began to sweep the planet. Although all were put down by the UNSC, rebel political violence continued to occur across the planet, leading to military reprisals from local colonial garrisons. This violence ravaged much of the planet's economy and left the countrysides the rebels called home battered and poverty-stricken.
One consequence of the rebellions that went largely unnoticed was the number of war orphans created by the violence. With most of the fighting taking place in undeveloped parts of the planet, children who lost their homes and families were usually left to fend for themselves. One such orphan was a girl called Emily, who lost her family in a crossfire between an Insurrectionist militia and colonial security forces. Emily took up petty thievery in order to survive and in the process banded together with two other orphans in order to survive. This was the beginning of their "gang" which they would later name Rat Pack as they acquired more children in their local town of Concorde.
During the final days of the war with the Covenant, Emily and her friends attempted to beat and rob another boy who had gotten lost in Concorde's tight alleyways. They were surprised when the ragged-clothed runt overpowered them with relative ease and Emily invited the young stranger to join them. The boy--named Simon--was eager for a refuge from the peril's of Mamore's frontier and accepted. He amazed the other children with his seemingly unnatural speed and survival skills and soon joined Emily as a leader within the group, earning himself the nickname "Stray" in the process.
The end of the war with the Covenant prompted a surge of rebellious feeling across Mamore. Insurrectionist leaders believed that the recovering UNSC would not have the resources to stop a renewed secession effort, a belief they spread throughout the colony. Mamore, along with the rebellious colony, became a haven for Insurrectionist militias and refugees. Within a month of the war's end, Mamore's colonial government was toppled by a rebel coalition that promptly declared the entire planet's independence. In the confusion that followed, the children of Rat Pack were co-opted by rebel militias as informal support troops. Many of the gang's members had lost their parents to UNSC counter-insurgency operations, making them easy converts to the idea of a "free Mamore." Those who doubted such convictions, Stray being first and foremost among them, reluctantly followed the rest of their makeshift family into Insurrectionist service.
Rat Pack's first tasks amounted to harassing any colonial troops who attempted to establish footholds around Concorde. The rebels would send them and other children to military encampments in the guise of refugees. Once inside, the young infiltrators stole supplies, sabotaged equipment, and gathered intelligence for future ambushes. The colonial forces were unprepared for such tactics and Rat Pack got through all of the infiltrations without incident. These first months of the "Independence War" were a rousing success for the secessionist forces, with the colonial troops cut off from support and isolated in small urban regions. Without a coherent response from the recovering UEG, even doubters like Stray began to believe that Mamore could finally achieve its independence.
But the dream of an easy independence was crushed by the arrival of a UNSC task force headed up by the experimental warship. The ragtag rebel fleet that had gathered in orbit around Mamore was crushed in less than a week, paving the way for the largest planetary invasion since the end of the Human-Covenant War. Elements of the and , supported by the very Spartans that Stray had once fought alongside, targeted rebel strongholds across the planet in a surge of violence that dwarfed anything Mamore had ever seen during its long history of revolution.
Concorde had been a staging ground for many of Mamore's rebel factions and was thus subjected to a savage bombing campaign before UNSC troops had even landed. As the children of Rat Pack watched their home be torn apart by air strikes, Stray urged them to distance themselves from the rebels before it was too late. But the orphans had nowhere else to go and were quickly absorbed into the ranks of the rebels sheltering in Concorde's rubble-strewn streets. Before long they had been armed with cast-off assault rifles and were being used as front line soldiers in the desperate stand against the UNSC's ground forces. Coerced into fighting in guerrilla attacks on Marines and Army troopers, Rat Pack was nonetheless able to keep safe under the desperate leadership of Emily and Stray. Torn between his past loyalty to the UNSC and his new life on Mamore, Stray chose to remain with the orphans rather than turn himself in to the military.
Despite everything the rebels threw at the UNSC, the counter-revolutionary forces steadily rolled back the Insurrectionist defenses and pushed into Concorde itself. In the days of brutal house-to-house fighting that followed, the child soldiers began to fall one after the other. The makeshift family that had held itself together through hunger, deprivation, and war finally collapsed under the unrelenting force of the mechanized UNSC military. Stray and Emily, the last two survivors, managed to fight their way out of Concorde to link up with a small rebel force in the hills above the town. Now imbued with a fiery hatred for the government that had killed their friends, they fought on until Emily sacrificed herself in a suicide attack that killed her and nearly a hundred civilians. Stray was left alone as the gang's final survivor. Disillusioned with the rebels who had led Emily to her death and hating the UNSC for the brutal extermination of his friends, the former Spartan could only seek to escape from the conflict with his life.
- "Our sacrifices won't be in vain, Stray. They will remember us, for this. They'll try to forget, but they'll never erase what we do here. They can't silence a billion voices. And someday we'll win, no matter what it takes."
- ―Emily to Stray just prior to her suicide.
The oldest of five children, Emily was raised on her parents' meager farm where she helped take care of her siblings while her mother and father eked out a living in Mamore's colossal agriculture economy. Emily's mother was the daughter of a local militia leader and thus felt strongly supportive of the Insurrection, a belief that left a deep impression on the young girl. Emily lost her entire family when her grandfather and his men used the farm as a hiding place;forces tracked him down and used a remote missile strike to level the homestead. After making her way to the local town of Concorde, Emily survived on her own for nearly a year before meeting a fellow orphan named Adam and forming what would become Rat Pack. Emily saw Rat Pack as her new family and easily slipped into the leadership position she had held as an elder sister. Although the safety of her "family" was always her first priority, she was also committed to the idea of Mamore's independence and was the first of Rat Pack to step up to join the Insurrection following her planet's secession. During the conflict she grew particularly close to "Stray," though none of the other children could ever decide if their relationship was romantic or not.
During the fighting, a vengeful Emily helped organize and coordinate her friends in their efforts to resist the UNSC invasion. She proved to be an excellent shot, killing three Marines over the course of several firefights. In spite of her brave leadership, the UNSC's overwhelming firepower gradually whittled down the children until all that remained of Emily's second family was Stray. The two of them fought on after Concorde fell and were eventually recruited into rebel forces led by Redmond Venter. Now completely radicalized, Emily approved of Venter's execution of UNSC prisoners of war, even when Stray himself was compelled to kill a captured Marine. She found a new family with the rebels and grew close to Venter's lieutenant, Gavin Dunn and another child soldier named Abram. In spite of Stray's efforts to keep her alive, she volunteered to carry out a suicide bombing as a distraction to allow the rest of Venter's unit to escape pursuing UNSC forces. Emily killed herself along with nearly a hundred others, Marines and civilians alike; Stray would later wonder if he should have killed her to prevent the bombing. Her death had a profound impact on Gavin and prompted him to betray Venter and turn his back on the Insurrection. Stray would be haunted by Emily for years to come, unable to decide who was truly to blame for her death.
Emily was a straightforward and aggressive girl who did not hesitate to roughhouse with her friends in order to settle fights and disputes. She was often teased for looking like a boy, though anyone who joked this way could usually expect a swift punch in return.
- "He restores my soul. He leads me down paths of righteousness for his name's sake..."
- ―Adam, quoting Psalm 23
One of the few orphans not native to Mamore, Adam was a tragic case of a family being in the wrong place at the wrong time. His parents were missionaries who had come to Mamore in the hopes of establishing aid centers in regions where the fighting between rebels and government forces was ravaging local communities. The first town they attempted to scout out was Concorde, and it was there that Adam's mother and father were killed in the crossfire of a firefight. Adam survived but lacked money or any other means of getting himself to safety. Unused to a life of constant hardship, he wouldn't have survived a month had he not run into Emily. After the desperate girl mugged him--only to be disgusted when he had nothing of value to steal--Adam began tagging along after her until she gave up trying to lose him and instead agreed to start a gang with him. Adam hoped to follow in his parents' footsteps by using what little first aid skills h e knew to help other orphans' survive.
During the fighting against the UNSC, Adam proved to be a staunch fighter who joined Stray and Emily in keeping the others out of harm's way. During the fighting in Concorde, the UNSC deployedto support its infantry troops. Stray and Adam were ordered to destroy one by leaping on top of it with satchel charges from the upper story of a building. Though Stray placed his own charge and jumped clear, Adam froze up and jumped too late. Injured in the blast that destroyed the Mantis, he crawled through the rubble until he was killed by a 's machine gun.
A cheerful, optimistic boy, Adam offset Emily's tough leadership with his own brand of selfless compassion. He worked his way through his personal tragedies by helping the other children get by day to day. A deeply spiritual person, Adam kept his father's Bible with him at all times.
Beren never knew his mother and was raised an only child by his father. An avid hunter, Beren's father often took him on sporting excursions into Mamore's vast wilderness. One such outing took them close to Concorde, where Beren's father was robbed and murdered by militia soldiers. Beren escaped with his life and ran into Emily and Rat Pack soon after. Beren provided the gang with its only firearm prior to becoming involved in the Insurrection: his "pea shooter" hunting rifle, which he would sometimes risk using in order to hunt small animals to help feed his friends. Though Beren held little love for the Insurrection after the death of his father, he went along with Emily and the others rather than leave his new family. He idolized the rebel figure Elijah Cavorel, a legendary sniper who was widely believed to be a sensational fiction concocted by Insurrectionist propagandists. Beren was one of the few who actually believed that the stories about Cavorel were true.
Once the fighting began, Beren's experience with a hunting rifle paid off and he became known as an excellent shot even amongst adult fighters. He soon scavenged anfrom a dead rebel and killed five UNSC Marines with it over the course of the fighting. As the fighting neared Concorde, Beren broke off from the group in an attempt to kill a Marine captain who had been sighted by other rebels. He was shot and incapacitated while trying to get close to the captain's convoy. Although Emily and Stray tried to rescue him, they were foiled when a platoon of Marines discovered and executed the wounded Beren before they could reach him.
A quiet, pensive boy, Beren rarely spoke his mind and often went off to be by himself for long periods of time. Though often teased for being a loner, he was not unfriendly and cherished the time he spent with his friends in Rat Pack.
Originally from one of Mamore's urban centers, Neal's mother and older brother took him to the countryside after his father was imprisoned for refusing to pay UNSC taxes. Embittered by his family's plight, Neal's brother joined the Insurrection and was killed during a skirmish with colonial troops. Heartbroken by the destruction of her family, Neal's mother moved with her son to a rebel enclave. The local government raided the compound, killing most of the inhabitants including Neal's mother. Neal walked ten miles through the hills to reach Concorde, where he promptly collapsed of exhaustion. He was discovered by Adam, who nursed him back to health with the help of Rat Pack. Although Neal stuck with the group, he always remained a distant member of the gang and preferred to read or tinker with scavenged junk than mingle with the other children.
Neal was the first member of Rat Pack to be killed during the fighting on Mamore. Tasked with setting up an explosive charge outside a UNSC barracks, he took too long getting to his target. The rebels waiting for his attack panicked and detonated the device prematurely, killing him and a team of Marines.
Neal was awkward and quiet, almost never speaking in anything more than mono-syllabic answers. He could usually be found with his nose in a book, and though the others teased him mercilessly for it he never seemed to notice their taunting. Neal was also a kleptomaniac and had an uncanny ability to discretely pocket anything that wasn't nailed down.
Sal and Marco
The brothers Sal and Marco were orphaned after their town's water supply was contaminated by a biological agent that killed hundreds of colonists, including their parents. The perpetrators of the attack were never clear; Mamore's government blamed rogue militia groups while the local Insurrection claimed that the attack was part of a government operation to depopulate rebellious areas. Sal and Marco were sent to an orphanage, but when Sal learned that he and his little brother would be separated he fled with Marco into the countryside. There they encountered Emily and Adam and became the gang's third and fourth members, respectively. A joke from Sal when the children were crawling through a water main "like a bunch of rats" gave the gang its name of Rat Pack. Sal and Marco were inseparable in spite of their age difference and often went off on their own to steal food and candy from local street vendors.
Sal and Marco worked as a team even after the rebels began using Rat Pack as infantry, with Marco "spotting" for his older brother. Sal was deeply distraught by the deaths of Maura and Anne and was killed during a firefight the day after they died. Marco absorbed the death of his brother with stoic solemnity but continued to do whatever he could to help his surviving friends. During another firefight, he ran out to scavenge ammunition off corpses in the street and was shot.
Sal and Marco were both incredibly upbeat and cheerful in spite of, or perhaps because of, the hardships they faced together. Sal was funny and irreverent, constantly making jokes or mocking public figures and current events as the political situation on Mamore worsened. Marco never failed to laugh at his brother's jokes and was fascinated with the idea of space travel; he and Sal hoped to one day become workers on a freighter so that they could experience it firsthand.
Maura and Anne
- "Don't you touch her!"
- ―Maura defending Anne during their first encounter with Stray
Maura was the daughter of an arms dealer who ran a smuggling ring for rebel and criminal groups over a small region on Mamore's frontier. Taught to be proficient with the firearms her father sold, Maura fled the compound she had grown up in after realizing that it was also being used to traffic sex slaves. During Maura's escape, she freed one of her father's "products": a young girl named Anne. Anne was a mute, having had her tongue mutilated to mark her as merchandise. Maura promised to protect Anne and the two were together for a full year before being absorbed into Rat Pack. Maura got on especially well with Emily and Sal often joked that the two of them could very well be sisters. Anne was friendly with all of the other children, particularly the pensive Beren and quiet Neal, but always acted skittish and apprehensive around Stray, much to the latter's dismay. Maura deduced that Anne found Stray unsettling but was friendly with him all the same
The chaotic fighting disturbed Anne even further, but Maura took a noticeable pleasure from helping to fight the UNSC. She was recognized by the local militia for killing two Marines with a scavengedafter Rat Pack had planted an improvised explosive device to help ambush a convoy. During the fighting in Concorde, Anne saved Stray's life by pushing him away from a wall moments before Army troopers perforated it with bullets. She was killed instantly and Maura dragged her body away while Stray and Emily covered her. Maura silently cradled Anne's body all night. The next morning, without saying a word she walked out into the street where she was killed by a UNSC sniper.
Maura was hot-tempered and very protective of Anne. She was the fastest of the orphans, surpassed only by Stray, and was a superb shot; when the Insurrectionists provided Rat Pack with weapons, she and Beren began having frequent shooting competitions of which both children won an equal number of times. Anne always had a smile on her face and could often be found reading from Adam's Bible. She often startled adults and her fellow orphans alike with her tendency to move about and remain utterly unnoticed.
- "I had a family. We all promised to protect each other, but they left me here all the same. Compared to them, you're all nothing. Worthless urchins no one gives a damn about. But you never abandoned me. None of their advantages, but you never betrayed me. I'll fight the UNSC with you. You are my real family."
- ―Stray to Emily
- Main article: Simon-G294
A strange boy who joined Rat Pack after fighting off their attempt to mug him, Simon quickly earned himself the lasting nickname "Stray" after Emily caught him rummaging through a trash bin alongside a feral dog. He astounded the other orphans with his strength, speed, and innate knowledge of combat skills. He was reluctant to share details of his past, always brushing off questions about himself by claiming he had been raised "on a navy base." He swiftly became Emily's unofficial second in command and helped her keep the makeshift family together as Mamore's secession struggle grew more and more violent.
Stray was, in reality, a Spartan-III supersoldier. Stranded on Mamore after a counter-insurgency mission went awry, Simon-G294 tried to blend into the local populace while he looked for a way to rejoin the UNSC. Having spent his training on his squad in Gamma company and considered them to be the family he'd never had. Knowing full well the UNSC's military capabilities, he was the only child in Rat Pack to vocally oppose Mamore's secession and Rat Pack's involvement with the Insurrection. Unable to dissuade Emily from helping the rebels, Simon instead resolved to do whatever he could to save Rat Pack from the violence he knew was to come. Instructing the young fighters in techniques he had learned during his own training, Stray helped Emily forge Rat Pack into a close-knit team in a facsimile of the Spartan squad he had been raised in, going so far as to impart sayings and traditions unique to the Spartans of onto his urchin friends.being marginalized and belittled for his low combat ratings, Simon was stunned to find a group of children that didn't judge or rank themselves based on their ability to fight. He grew as close to them--if not closer--as he had been with
As the fighting intensified and began to claim the lives of his new friends, Stray fought with increasing ferocity against the government he had once served. Suffering from inner doubts and fears as well as withdrawal symptoms from drugs that he had been routinely administered when with the UNSC, Stray became increasingly viscous and prone to bouts of uncontrollable anger. He unwittingly inspired Emily to continue fighting even after the rest of their friends had been killed, leading to their recruitment into Redmond Venter's band of fighters. Stray found a mentor in Venter, who refined his combat techniques and indoctrinated him into the Insurrectionist ideology. Emily's death shook Stray's faith in the rebellion and he later turned on Venter and the other rebels. Nevertheless, his experiences on Mamore, particularly Rat Pack, had a critical impact on the rest of Simon's life and he kept a picture of his dead friends with him for years following his split with the Insurrection.
Some time after Simon had left Mamore and struck out on his own as a mercenary, thethat had been administered to the Spartan began to manifest themselves as a burgeoning personality disorder. When under heavy stress or emotional duress, Simon would become irrationally angry, showing increased signs of aggression and borderline savagery during combat, and often ignoring the shock of wounds inflicted on him. Simon would refer to this pseudo-persona as "Stray," associating it with the horrors he had endured on Mamore.
- "They didn't have to do it. None of them did. They did a job they didn't have to do, and they died doing it, and no one can give them anything. Don't you get it? They fought for the abandoned, they fought for each other, and they got screwed in the end. People like them always are. What good's their story to anyone? Just a trick for more idiots who think they can be heroes. Just let them be. Forever."
- ―Simon-G294 regarding a commemoration for Rat Pack
When Concorde fell and Stray and Emily found themselves the last survivors from the tight-knit gang, both young fighters feared that their friends' sacrifices would be forgotten amidst the chaos of the wider fighting on Mamore. Before slipping off to continue the battle elsewhere, Emily and Stray erected a makeshift memorial for the fallen children of Rat Pack. They erected an abandoned AR-74 rifle as a tribute to the battle at Concorde, surrounding it with eight rocks, one for each of their dead friends. Years later, Stray returned to the scene to find the rifle rusted and battered but still standing. He added a ninth rock to the memorial in honor of the fallen Emily before departing. Some time after Stray's final visit to the rifle, the spacer Zoey Hunsinger landed the Chancer V nearby and placed a tenth and final rock amidst the others.
Although the UNSC's occupying forces attempted to remove any trace of support for the secession attempt, Concorde's surviving civilians put a halt to every effort to tear down what had become known as "Children's Rock." A local custom of decorating the rifle with flowers and other symbols of memorial sprang up and the site soon became a pilgrimage location for those who had lost loved ones to the bloody fighting. Although the rifle and its ten-rock base were never interfered with, similar memorials were erected around it to commemorate those who had given their lives fighting for Mamore's independence.