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“Exposure” part 1—Spartans Ray and Thorne set out on a secret mission to uncover the origin of a monstrous new bioweapon . . . but is it too late to prevent total catastrophe? Halo lead writer Brian Reed (Amazing Spider-Man, Ms. Marvel), Duffy Boudreau (BlackAcre), and Ricardo Sánchez (Green Arrow) team up to present one of the most dangerous Spartan ops yet!
The issue opens up a UNSC investigation of a bioweapons lab on the planet Ven III in the Joint Occupation Zone. A drone craft verifies that the Kig-Yar lab technicians have all died from infection after an outbreak. The following day, Admiral Serin Osman orders Captain Lasky to investigate the facility. Lasky selects Spartans Ray and Thorne for the mission. Lasky fills them in. Ven III is almost uninhabitable and its only use during the Human-Covenant war was as a staging post for Covenant offensives. After the war, a group of Kig-Yar found an abandoned Covenant research facility and attempted to salvage it.
Drone footage shows that a Sangheili had visited the lab immediately prior to the outbreak. Lasky suspects the Sangheili to be an agent of Jul 'Mdama sent to collect information on constructing bioweaponry to exterminate humanity, and that he killed the Kig-Yar technicians at the end of their usefulness. Thorne and Ray are therefore ordered to detain the Sangheili for questioning and to prevent him contacting 'Mdama.
Rey and Thorne arrive on the planet in a prowler and make their way through chasms to avoid Kig-Yar patrols. They enter an area with radio jamming and move cautiously, unaware the Sangheili is observing them. The two Spartans enter the Covenant base to find it deserted. Weapons fire from behind them reveals they walked into a trap set up by the Sangheili. Thorne is disabled with an armour lock and abducted.
On the Infinity, Lasky and Roland become concerned about the loss of contact. Roland asks Lasky if they should take the Infinity towards Ven III for an emergency retrieval, but Lasky responds that he can't allow it per Osman's orders. Lasky brings in Commander Sarah Palmer for a meeting. He asks Palmer to send out a second two-man team to rescue Ray and Thorne, and receives a harsh rebuttal from Palmer, who insists that sending such a small team was the problem to begin with. Roland ends the argument with an alert that they have regained contact with Ray. Ray has been running through fifteen kilometers of tunnels in search of Thorne and, having existed the jamming area, reports that Ven III is home to what could be the galaxy's largest pirate base, with underground complexes housing what she estimates to be two hundred thousand Kig-Yar. She records footage of slavers marching captives from various species, along with arms dealers auctioning off human weapons. Ray spots the Sangheili with Thorne. Her report is cut off when a Kig-Yar spots her. With the new information, Lasky orders Roland to take the Infinity to Ven III, and orders all Spartans to prepare for combat.