1416: Love of a Spartan – Chapter Three

Title: Love of a Spartan
Author:  AshleyBudrick
Media: Video Game
Topic: HALO
Genre:  Sci-Fi/Romance
URL: Prologue
Critiqued by Admiral Sakai, Gul, and the Arbiter

Hello, dear Librarians, and welcome back to Love of a Spartan, the cringingly-titled Halo shipfic that, strangely, seemed not to completely suck.

That’s right, in the last three chapters (and a prologue) the author showed herself to be a fairly serviceable writer of military science fiction… even if she is not necessarily the best at building logical characters. We were introduced to the UNSC Marines Renee Kilburn and Amy Smythe, as well as their CO Lieutenant Troy Fisher. Aside from engaging in a truly incredible amount of pointless backtalk (which set the Terrible Troy Counter at a rather alarming 5), the three actually managed to behave in a manner befitting professional soldiers as they beat a more-or-less organized retreat from the Covenant attack on a fan-made UNSC colony, assisted by none other than Master Chief John-117.”

Sadly, it all goes downhill from there. Only one chapter today, as I will be spending much less time summarizing good parts that you should really read in the ‘fic itself and much, much more time tearing apart romcom shenanigans. Also only one chapter today because this next part of the ‘fic is intensely boring, and I can only take it in small doses. It’s a long one, so buckle in.

“The torment… never ends…”

So, without dallying any longer, let’s begin with Chapter Three (actually Chapter 4 in our numbering system): “A Little Workout”, which already raises… uncomfortable possibilities.”

Pipe down, I bet this is one of those “romance” stories with little to no actual sex.

Chapter Three

[March 8, 2535 – Halcyon Class Hercules – Slipspace]

A little thing about time-and-date stamps: a lot of people here at the Library don’t like them, and I’m not entirely sure why, but I actually use them a fair bit. I tend to write a lot of military SF with very convoluted plots and action sequences, so not only is it reasonable to have everyone be aware of their time and location with some specificity, but it also occasionally becomes necessary to provide that information to the reader in order for them to understand what is actually going on. Considering that this is a Halo ‘fic, I would normally be very happy to see detailed location and date stamps in order to help make sense of complicated multi-part maneuvers, establish distances, et cetera. The only problems are that, one, these location stamps are about as vague as you can get, and two, nothing to keep track of ever actually happens.

When John left the bridge, the Hercules had entered Slipspace moments afterwards.

I’m not even going to try to count how many tenses are in that sentence.

He went to the armory, where, with the help of a couple technicians, he got out of his MJOLNIR armor, and into the standard grey uniform. Before he pulled on the shirt, he examined his chest.

Bow chicka bow wow?

The bruises had fully appeared now, and were black, purple and blue, standing out like a sore thumb on the backdrop of his pale skin. He grimaced at the sight, and then pulled on the shirt, happy to hide them.

“Why? It’s not as though the rest of the ship doesn’t know he’s been fighting Covenant.”

John flexed his arms and bent his knees, stretching out the stiff uniform. Despite it being a little tight around his chest and a half inch too short on the pant legs and sleeves, it fit almost perfectly.

That’s almost a perfect fit like Love of a Spartan is almost a great work of literature.

Dr. Halsey must have notified the crewmen of his visit and got them to sniff out the largest uniforms available.

I did not know humans had such a fine sense of smell.”

Well, he thought contemplatively, this would be different; time in Slipspace onboard a ship in which Dr. Halsey was the only one he knew well and the rest being marines.

As opposed to … what? Usually, he’s surrounded by Marines without Dr. Halsey.”

He contemplated cryo sleep, and wasn’t sure that he would rule it out as an option just yet.

On the way out the door, he collected his other two pairs of uniform, a pair of sweats, and a muscle shirt, from the table, slinging them under one arm, then left the armory.

For, the, last time, commas, are not, sentence, glue!

You call that a sentence?”

Good point.

As John wound his way through the hallways – he could find his way around fairly easily, all Halcyon class cruisers had the same layout – he felt naked and vulnerable without his armor. It was easy to say that he had spent the last couple of weeks with it on.

Oh for Pete’s sake! Either he’s OK with his armor off, or he isn’t! There’s more canonical justification for the former given that the MJOLNIR armor is a relatively recent addition to his loadout (especially given the ‘fic’s early position on the timeline), but please just pick one or the other!

A part of him wanted to dart back to the armory and shimmy back into his armor and spend the next two weeks safely asleep in a cryo tube.

It’s a small thing, but it should be noted that the beginning of Halo CE is something of an anomaly, and that John-117 usually goes into cryo without his armor to avoid the “freezer-burn” caused by starting the process with something pressing against your skin.

The other part of him told him he’d get used to not wearing his armor eventually, which was true. He may get used to it, but he wouldn’t ever like it. It was when his armor was off that he realized what it did for him. His reflexes seemed slowed and he missed his reliable HUD.

He passed several marines and officers in the hallway, and they all gave him a second glance as he walked by. It was probably his paleness, or his height. Or maybe even the ugly bruise on his neck. Some of the marines saluted him, uncertain of his rank, although he wasn’t wearing one. Was he that intimidating to others?

Why is the Chief thinking these things as though this were his first time on a Navy vessel? Because it definitely is not.”

Whatever it was, they still looked at him, armor or no armor. At least they could see his face now, it was certain he was human. No longer did he seem like some faceless, emotionless, gun wielding robot. He wondered if they were able to make the connection upon seeing him that he was the Spartan from earlier – some might’ve, but nothing was said – but then again if he was as intimidating as everyone seemed to think, who would say anything in the first?

Is there a point to any of this?”

Also, I think the Chief just accidentally the ending of.

When John located his designated room, he walked in and wasn’t surprised with its contents. It was bland, with white walls and grey tiled floor and ceiling,

What the fuck is a tile ceiling?

with a single bed much too small for him, a table with a single drawer and a chair, and a locker. All of these were bolted to the floor.

I would hope the walls were bolted to the floor.

And if the ceiling is bolted to the floor, I guess that proves after all that the UNSC is outsourcing some of its shipbuilding contracts to R’lyeh.”

John smirked to himself, and sighed, and stepped into the room, as the door slid closed behind him with a mechanical hiss.

*a distant “BAAAAAAAAAAAAAH” echoes in three-part harmony through the corridors of RIFFCON*

… and Iegolas ran down the hall.”

And walked into Laura’s roocm twice.

It was standard issue officer’s quarters. Despite being a few square feet larger, it was no different and no more lavishly furnished than the marine’s sleeping quarters.

Wow, UNSC Marines rate a fairly pleasant setup! I’d have considered them lucky to get a bunk all to themselves instead of having to vacate it when the next shift needed to sleep.”

Due to its simplicity, there wasn’t much to be done to make it unique. Not that John had any belongings to personalize it with anyway – nor would he be here for long, he thought. A couple of weeks, maybe.

John went over to his locker and opened it, and set his clothes inside. He was just about to close the locker door, when he changed his mind and pulled out the pair of sweats and the green muscle shirt.

Thrill as the UNSC’s greatest soldier organizes his duffel bag!

Huh. I didn’t figure The Chief to be a muscle-shirt guy.

I don’t know, I am imagining something like the Colonial undershirt setup from Battlestar Galactica.”

That’s an undershirt, a muscle shirt is something different.

Oh.”

I didn’t know you watched BSG.

I didn’t know you classified shirts.”

He was going to go to the gym; it wouldn’t hurt see what it contained.

That sentence is either awkward as all get out, or really foreboding.

This is Love of a Spartan– why not both?”

If there were enough weights, it may be able to entertain him for a couple of days at least.

The Demon is very easily amused.”

He quickly got undressed and threw his uniform onto his bed, and pulled on the other clothes, and then walked out of his room.

Well, that scene certainly needed to be here. In the entire scope of the Human-Covenant War, there’s nothing more interesting that we could be reading about right now than the Master Chief changing his uniform?”

Amy and Renee walked down the hallway, dressed in the standard uniforms.

Whatever those are… we’ve seen dress uniforms and full armor in the games, but not a lot else.

We’re not saying that non-armor routine uniforms can’t exist- in fact, it would make a lot of sense if they did- just that a little description of the new elements you’ve added to canon would go a long way.”

Their hair was wet, since they had just come from the showers. The showers hadn’t provided as much refreshment as they’d hoped; since to the limit on water, the showers were timed to shut off after five minutes.

I’m not actually one hundred percent certain if this makes sense given that all the water would get recycled anyway, but sure. As for the seeming limit on words

There was no time to really enjoy the hot water, it was shampoo your hair, wash your body, shave what needed to be shaved, and get out. That was one disadvantage of long periods of space travel, and it was this reason that some marines just preferred cryo sleep.

I realize I’m getting kind of technical here, but one way or another UNSC Marines wouldn’t have a choice in this matter. Either cryotubes take more resources to maintain than live people, or they don’t – since UNSC ships bother to include them at all, I’m guessing the former. Since we’ve already been shown a lot of … actually fairly good background on the intense rationing Marines are put through, if there was a way to make them take up less air or water, (unless they’re needed awake to keep the ship running) they would be required to make use of it.

The two Privates had recently located their rooms – found them bland and uninteresting

Much like this chapter.”

Also, if this is their first time on the cruiser, how exactly did they get to Capricornia in the first place?”

and unpacked their few belongings into the lockers. Renee, exhausted from the long day, had just been about to lay down and go to sleep,when Amy had come calling, begging her to go for a walk around the ship’s corridors.

“Can’t we go for a walk later?” Renee had groaned sleepily into her pillow, “I’m tired. Don’t you ever get tuckered out?”

“There’ll be plenty of time to sleep,” Amy had shrugged and dragged her friend from her room, “I’ve heard that we’re going to be in Slipspace for at least a couple of weeks. I might even go into cryo once things around here start getting boring.”

Meaning you should have gone into cryo at the end of Chapter 2.

Now, here they were, strolling the hallways to Amy’s leisure. Renee was trying to wipe off her sleepiness, but all she could think about was her bed and how comfortable it had been when she’d surrendered to lie down in it.

What is with all of this surrendering to beds, anyway?

If it keeps up, the Hercules can win its next engagement just by jettisoning the barracks at the Covenant.”

“As boring as things may get,” Renee put her hands in her pockets, “I won’t be going into cryo – never cared for it much since I got freezer burn that one time.”

“Well you can try and get the relationship between you and Troy sorted out while I’ll have a nice long snooze,” Amy let out a chuckle, nudging her friend with her elbow, “Whatever I is you two are so sore about;

Learn to grammar, author: That should be ‘whatever I am you two are so sore about’ .”

or it’s just him, isn’t it?”

“He started it,” Renee raised her eyebrow, frowning, “I joined the UNSC, and he totally freaked on my ass. Surprised he didn’t say anything to you!”

“Oh he did, but I don’t think he gave me such a tongue lashing in comparison to what you received.”

Terrible Troy Counter: 6

“We were already screwed up since he dropped out of high school; his thinking me a child when I enlisted totally put the icing on the cake.

You know, I really hope that neither of these Marines are self-inserts. Because if they are, I’m worried Troy might be as well.

I don’t see what the big deal is, anyway. I remember when we were kids it was all he could boast about. UNSC this, UNSC that! ‘We’ll join together, RenRen!’ He was so convinced that the three of us would join the UNSC together and save the world from the Covenant,” Renee sighed, “Now here we all are and he’s got a bee in his bonnet.”

You know, for being young adults in the 2530s, these Marines talk an awful lot like my grandmother.

“Troy’s changed,” Amy shook her head, “The Academy kicked that childish streak outa him, that’s for certain – and you have to remember, we’re not kids anymore, anyway.”

Methinks the lady doth protest too much.

“I think he still has his goofy side somewhere,” Renee narrowed her eyes, “Beneath all that cockiness, crankiness and officer training. Do you remember that video Kirkland took of him in grade ten, where he was making goat noises in the middle of class?”

The two of them laughed at the memory.

… I guess you had to be there.”

“I remember,” Amy chuckled, shaking her head, “But making goat noises is probably on the list of things Lieutenant Fisher is least likely to do nowadays.”

I would hope so.”

“Add being nice to that list, too,” Renee sighed, “He’s as likely to do that as make animal noises, in fact, I’d expect the latter from him sooner.”

Oh, cry me a river.

Suddenly, the two heard a voice from behind address them.

And from behi-

Wait.

Drat.

It was smooth and masculine, and authoritative.

“Excuse me.”

Amy and Renee turned around to see a very tall man, dressed in a white wife-beater and shorts.

Worst word choice ever.

And wasn’t his shirt green before?”

His skin was pale; he had brown hair, brown eyes, a strong nose, square jaw, a straight mouth, and a scar across his right cheek, just below his eye. Renee took notice of all the bruises visible on his arms and neck. Who was this guy?

Gary Stu?

She and Amy couldn’t help but stare, not recalling seeing him anywhere before. He looked at them each individually with a penetrating gaze. He raised an eyebrow.

02

Not gonna lie – that’d be pretty fucking awesome.

“I said, excuse me,” he said, bemused.

Renee felt her cheeks grow hot, feeling immediately like an idiot

Good. Now that she’s acknowledged it the healing can begin.”

for staring.

Oh.”

Since she was the one most in his way, she quickly stepped aside, muttering,

“Sorry sir.”

“No worries, Private,” he said in monotone before continuing briskly down the hall. Renee and Amy were silent until he rounded a corner and was out of sight.

“Jeez,” Amy was the first to break the silence; she looked at Renee then back at the direction he had gone, “What a tank! Did you see that guy’s arms? They were as big around as my waist, I swear!” She put her hands around her waist for emphasis.

…”

You have both been through boot camp. You’ve been through combat against the Covenant, you’ve no doubt seen people you knew, people you called friends die horrible deaths as plasma fire cooked their insides.

You are not twelve years old.

I think twelve is being generous.

Renee was still feeling stupid for staring at the man.

Good.

“Sure,” She shrugged, although in reality she hadn’t paid much attention to the size of the man’s arms. She had been too perplexed by the scars and bruises over his body,

Does … does John have a self image problem? The ‘fic is obsessed with his bruises, even though normally other people can’t even see them.

his serious chiseled face, his smooth authoritative voice,

This is getting a little …”

03

… yep.

“I feel stupid;

Well, you should.”

I was in his way and didn’t think to move!”

Amy’s lips curled into a sly grin.

“You don’t hear much when you’re not paying attention,” she replied, “You stared as much as I, and with good reason. Not a bad looking fellow at all. I wonder what his name is – and what rank. There was something awfully authoritative about him. Should we have saluted, I wonder? Didn’t look like a recruit to me, I’ll tell you that much.”

“He was definitely a higher rank – and a man of importance. Did you see the bruises on him? It looked like he went through hell and back. If I was bruised up like that, I sure wouldn’t be strutting around; I’d probably be bedridden.”

Author … do you have any idea how bruises work? They are, by definition, superficial injuries.”

And why are you suddenly talking like Victorian ladies?

“Oh!” Amy suddenly cried.

“What?” she demanded, annoyed by her friend’s sudden outburst.

“I just made the connection,” Amy snapped her fingers, “He was strong, he was tall, he was roughed up. I bet you anything that was the Spartan from today. He’s on this ship, after all.”

You’re a bunch of Marines who just made a fighting retreat from the Covenant. You’re all tall, strong, and roughed-up.

“What?” Renee bit back a laugh “That couldn’t have been him – surely the Spartan must’ve been transferred somewhere else.”

“HOW? You went to Slipspace immediately after the battle, there’s no place he could have gone!”

“I dunno,” Amy shrugged with a grin, “There’s a guy under that armor. I bet you my dinner tonight that’s who it was. I thought his voice sounded familiar, think about it, don’t you?”

I’d say thinking is a bit beyond Renee’s capabilities at the moment.

“At the moment?”

When she thought about it, something about the man’s voice had been familiar, but it easily could be a coincidence.

“I really don’t think it was him,” she said, shaking her head.

“Suit yourself.”

Ahead of them, Troy came from one of the adjacent corridors.

Uh oh.”

He too had on a pair of sweats and a simple white t-shirt.

We don’t care.

He glanced momentarily their way, but continued on ahead of them without a word.

“He’s still sore about the mission, I bet,” Amy whispered lowly, and then she called after him, “Hey Fish!”

Troy looked back over his shoulder and delivered the Private a look that could kill.

Good for him.”

I’m still completely unable to determine whether AB was trying to write Amy as a moron, or if she just ended up that way. And I’m not sure which would be worse.

“I see what you’ve been talking about, RenRen. He’s not going to treat us like we’re pieces of shit,”

He … isn’t. You’re annoying him, deliberately, and if anything he’s holding back on you instead of making you run laps around the hangar deck for insubordination.”

Terrible Troy Counter: 7!

Amy said, quickening her pace and grabbing her friend by the arm, “And I think I need a work out. Come on.”

It didn’t take Amy long to catch up with her childhood friend in the gym. When he realized the two Privates were following after him, he stopped, letting out an irritable sigh, leaning against one of the exercise machines.

“What?” he asked, seeming rather impatient.

“What was with that glare you gave us?” Amy demanded – she had the gall for both her and Renee combined,

I’d love to see her try that attitude on a Hunter the next time she meets one.

“Just cause you’re a Lieutenant now doesn’t mean you get to ignore us.”

And just because you knew him when you were chicks doesn’t mean you get to ignore his rank!”

Troy responded, but the argument between him and Amy went in one ear and out the other for Renee.

Good. That way we don’t have to hear it.

Her attention was stolen when she saw that man again, who Amy believed to be the Spartan from earlier. He was in the highest gravity section of the gym, and he was putting the desired weights on the bar. She watched in awe as he lifted weights with graceful ease.

This guy was strong; incredibly strong.

Ohh, is he going to shove her out of the way of another student’s van soon?

“That guy is the Spartan.” Amy’s words echoed in her head. Renee suddenly snapped to when he looked right up at her and they made eye contact. She instantly felt embarrassed, and wanted to leave,

Sort of like the readers.

but she couldn’t,

Why? What’s keeping her there?

so she decided to quickly turn her attentions to Amy and Troy.

Troy was looking annoyed, and he was standing there, arms crossed on his chest, as Amy was mouthing him off.

Well that sounds a bit dirty…”

Calm down, it’s probably just a Canadism.

“You know what, LT?” Amy raised her voice, folding her arms across her chest, “You’ve become the biggest jerk since you joined the UNSC.

*All three riffers clap their hands over their ear holes and/or auditory tines.*

Oooohhhh… now she’s really angry!”

Hardened Marines, ladies and gentlebeings.

You know what? We should make a counter.”

Sure.

Mommy’s Little Marines Counter: 3

What the hell happened to how you used to be, huh?”

You can’t change who you used to be, dumbass.

He grew up. And you didn’t.”

Renee put a warning hand on Amy’s shoulder.

“Come on, Amy,” She said softly,

Thank God for that comma.

glancing slightly back at the Spartan. He was benching now, but he was no doubt watching the developing scene out of the corner of his eye.

John paused, and put the weight back onto the bar, ducking out from under it and sitting up.

Have we mentioned yet that in the four chapters we’ve read so far there has not been a single scene break, despite repeated POV shifts? The horizontal line tool is your friend, AB…”

The situation, based on his previous instincts, was escalating to a dangerous level. He wasn’t so much worried about a conflict, but Amy’s shooting off could get her into trouble, considering her rank of Private. She didn’t seem to care Troy was ranks above her. It came to his realization that the three must have known each other before the UNSC, because as he crossed the gym he caught words that referred to the past.

What, like “Motorcar”? “Blunderbuss”? “MySpace”?

Awkward phrasing is awkward.”

“Amy, just stop,” Renee was begging. She glanced over and her heart jumped when she saw that the man was coming over to them. Amy ignored her friend, shrugging off her hand from her shoulder and went back to arguing with Troy.

“Stop it!” John’s voice tore through the air, and Amy, Troy, and Renee stopped immediately, all spinning to face him. He stopped a foot away and looked each one of them over. He realized that they probably had no idea who he was, but he didn’t care.

“This is ridiculous, marines,” John said sharply, narrowing his brown eyes at Amy, “Whatever you and Lieutenant Fisher are arguing about, I think you should settle it like adults instead of immaturely bickering like a couple of kids.”

Hell yeah! Tell it like it is!

His good sense is almost enough to excuse how uncharacteristically verbose the Demon is being right now.”

It goes on like this for a while. The Chief upbraids these idiots for basically everything we’ve already pointed out, only for some reason Troy gets yelled at too …

Terrible Troy Counter: 8

Oh, and did I mention that the entire time Renee is checking out the Chief’s muscles?

Oh, and she gets commended for trying to ‘moderate the situation’, despite being as much of an insubordinate prat as her friend. It seems that a certain Private M. Sue has already reported for duty.”

Renee looked to Amy for an answer.

“What do you wanna do?” she said lowly.

“I need a work out,” Amy snapped angrily, “You can go if you want, but I need to punch something.”

“You’re not even wearing gym clothes…” Renee started, but Amy found the nearest punching bag and began pounding it. Renee shook her head; Amy had always been the one to get angry easily. Her temper was equal three people when she really let loose,

Well this is the first time we’ve heard about it…”

Hooray for informed character traits!

And I would guess her temper will never be mentioned again.”

and over the years Renee had learned to calm her down – a feat that most others were unable to do.

Of course. Because she’s a Sue.

Troy walked away from her and John, and went to the other side of the gym, as far away from them as possible.

Good for him.”

Renee decided to brave, and just as John was turning to walk away.

… what?”

Oh my god the ‘fic is disintegrating!

“Hey,” she said.

Ohhh boy.

So, using her brilliant deductive powers, our fair Sue amazingly deduces that John-117 is in fact a Spartan. Her imbecilic friend comes over to congratulate her, then…”

“Do you ever shut your gob, Private Smythe?” Troy yelled from across the room, “Quit squealing over him. You’re probably pissing him off; he wants to work out without having any interruptions from immature fools like you and Kilburn.”

Preach it, man!

Amy flashed him the finger, screwing her face up in a sarcastic mock.

Whatever the hell that is.

“Sit on it and rotate,” she snapped with instantaneous aggression.

You know, in the Turian Army this sort of backchat would have her scrubbing deckplates in the cafeteria until she reached mandatory retirement age.”

In the Covenant Army, her head would be shipped back to Sanghelios at her family’s expense.”

“Watch yourself, Private,” John said lowly, “That’s a Lieutenant you’re speaking to.”

“Before he was Lieutenant, he was the goofy ass-wipe I called a friend,” Amy leaned back against the elliptical machine,

Priorities, Amy. You have them wrong!

“Both Renee and I knew him since we were kids; we grew up together. Too bad he had to grow up to be a miserable bastard. He was the best guy, until he hit the UNSC, then bam! Someone gave him the rank of a Lieutenant, and congrats, Troy, you’re a full-blown asshole!”

Terrible Troy Counter: 9

Renee laughed, but covered her mouth quickly as the giggles sounded.

Mommy’s Little Marines Counter: 4

Amy looked impressed, studying John’s face, seeming surprised when his expression altered none. The way Amy had with words was in a way, humorous,

Not really.”

and perhaps he could chuckle if she wasn’t talking about the Lieutenant who was fifty feet away in the same room – no doubt within hearing distance.

Amy and Renee’s behavior was different from what John was used to. These two just were warming up to him like he was any other person, especially Amy. She seemed to think herself humorous, and had a slightly obnoxious personality.

Slightly obnoxious? SLIGHTLY????

She didn’t seem to mind opening up to him. Renee though, seemed a little more withdrawn, but then again, she wasn’t like Amy, flashing middle fingers to Lieutenants and cursing them upside down

Ok, is that a Canadism?

If nothing else, it certainly makes for an interesting mental picture.”

when they were within hearing distance.

Renee had a habit, John noticed, of becoming red in the face. Blushing, it was called, he thought.

He’s a Spartan, not a toddler. I’m sure he knows what blushing is.

Which was kind of odd because he hadn’t in his recollections had ever made anyone, especially a woman, blush before. He wasn’t even sure how he did, he wasn’t doing anything that made sense for her to blush.

Even the ‘fic itself is admitting that it makes no sense.

Is it possible for fanfiction to go rampant?”

There’s a first time for everything.

Then again, John was trained in weapons, fighting tactics, strategic planning, and killing Covenant. He wasn’t a whiz in human psychology or emotions; in fact, he hadn’t had much experience even properly interacting with other people. His interactions were rarely without salutes, standing at attention, and using “Sir” or “Ma’am” in his sentences. He was taught the basics, but Renee and Amy would surely have a lot more experience than he had, since they had once been civilians.

Besides, it’s not like the Covenant would sit down with him and have a conversation about the weather or some such thing.

Not unless this is secretly a Half-Jaw ‘fic.

Spirits know it’s boring enough.”

So they gabble on for a while, he tells them his name and leaves, and the two girls (I can no longer even think of them as Marines) get on treadmills and gush about his looks.

Mommy’s Little Marines Counter: 5

They start a sort of slapstick routine where they keep shoving each other around on the treadmills, and I guess the Chief just … stands there and watches all of this because even though the gym is supposedly small enough for everyone to see each other he is completely absent from these scenes except for a bit where for some reason he finds the whole thing amusing and disapproves of Troy for other, equally stupid reasons.

Terrible Troy Counter: 10

Eventually, Renee manages to aggravate an injury she sustained by falling off of the Warthog by … falling off of the treadmill.

Funny how we didn’t read anything at all about her being hurt until it comes up here…”

“I’m fine; I can get up,” Renee was trying to brave it out, but as soon as she tried to get to her feet once more – this time without Amy’s help, a sharp pain stabbed her in the ribs,

Goddammit, Arby, you can’t ‘ficdive just to stab people! Get back up here this instant!

Apologies. As your kind says … she had it coming.”

and she clutched the point of pain instinctively, giving away the location of the problem.

Amy, without saying anything, kneeled down beside her friend. Her mouth a determined fine line, she reached over and yanked up Renee’s shirt, and almost instantly let out a low whistle.

“Sweet Jesus, girl,” she remarked.

Renee looked down in surprise, to see that across her stomach and her lower ribs, was a huge purple and red bruise. Bewildered, she realized it must’ve happened when she’d leapt from the Warthog. She never even noticed it when she was getting changed.

So … through the evac flight, changing out of her armor (also presumably around other people who could have seen it), moving her belongings into the (new?) barracks, and running on treadmills, this “bruise” never once even twinged, but now it’s painful enough to keep her from getting up?

The Spartan, who observed quietly, kneeled down beside Amy, leaning in to get a better look.

“You didn’t just get this now,”

Why would anyone think she had? Surely he remembers her being in a Warthog crash just a few hours ago.”

John made eye contact with her. He had witnessed her tumble from the treadmill, “You should see a doctor immediately.”

“It’s just a bruise,” Renee shrugged. She went to pull down her shirt, but Amy wouldn’t let her, “Amy, I’ll be fine, just help me up!”

Well, if it’s really that large and that painful, it probably means she’s also damaged something further inside her chest. So, no, she is not fine.”

“How the hell did you get it? That’s one mean looking bruise, RenRen.”

How the hell do you think she got it??

“It must’ve been when the Warthog flipped,” she answered, “When I jumped from it, I landed awkwardly, jammed my assault rifle into my ribs. I thought nothing of it –

Why is she more formal when she is in immense pain?”

Interesting data point, that …

and it hasn’t really bothered me ’til now…”

“Let me see,” John spoke up. He reached forward and gently prodded at the bruise – and Renee grimaced – and he didn’t miss it.

“My guess would be you’ve probably got a fractured rib,” John declared, sitting back on his haunches,

Holy crap!

Seriously, how the hell are you “not bothered” by a fractured rib?

“And that tumble off the treadmill probably didn’t help.” He shot a look at Amy, and then looked back at Renee, narrowing his eyes, “Let’s take you to the infirmary.”

“No, I’m sure it’s nothing bad, sir,” Renee tried to convince him otherwise,

Really, this girl’s pain tolerance is incredible!”

Well, it has to be- she lives inside Love of a Spartan, remember?

but the Spartan wasn’t about to argue. He slipped one arm beneath her knees and the other around her back, and in a second he was on his feet with her in his arms. Not expecting this, Renee felt her cheeks redden in sudden embarrassment.

“I’m sure I can walk, sir,” she told him, but put one arm around his neck timidly.

“Surely there’s a more dignified way he could carry a fellow soldier- perhaps just try to lift up her bad side so she isn’t putting stress on her ribs any more?”

Being this close to him rattled her, he was just a stranger. He was really warm, she noted. She glanced to Amy, and she smiled ever so slightly, a smile she wasn’t sure how to interpret.

“No, walking could possibly make it worse,” John told her. She was awfully stubborn, he realized, “Even then, walking would just be painful. You wouldn’t want to cause yourself unnecessary pain, Private.”

Man, the Chief really is a controlling douchebag in this! I know I already joked about this before, but was his original last name really Cullen?

… I fear we need another counter.”

Fine.

Halight Counter: 3

Renee let out a small sigh, but didn’t object. He carried her towards the exit of the gym, and with a glance, she was reassured Amy was coming with them. What a way to become acquainted.

Amy had to jog to keep up with John’s long strides, and it was obvious that she was getting quite a kick out of the Spartan carrying her best friend. She looked up at Renee in his arms, making deliberate eye contact. A smirk on her face, she raised her eyebrows at Renee.

BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

*GONG*

I’ll never get used to that sheep.”

… That was the Arbiter.

Renee gave her a glare, but Amy’s smile only got wider.

John carried Renee to the medical bay, Amy following closely behind. The room smelled like disinfectant and blood, and it instantly had an uncomfortable atmosphere. There were a few chairs, a desk, and a plant in the first room, and it branched off to others, examination offices, doctor’s offices, and one large room lined with beds for the wounded.

Having spent far more time than I’d ever want in all three, this sounds less like a warship medical bay than a civilian doctor’s office with a field hospital crudely grafted onto it.”

Those wounded on Capricornia could be heard groaning in pain in the next room.

“I don’t want to be here,” Renee said lowly; the place gave her the chills.

Can she really be that squeamish?”

Mommy’s Little Marines Counter: 6

One of the doors to one of the offices opened, and a woman wearing a lab coat strode out. She had graying brown hair, yet her face, although being tired, portrayed a woman no older than her mid-forties. She looked surprised when she saw them.

“John,” she said instantly, “What are you doing here?”

Ok, I had to leaf back through a good portion of Halo: First Strike to remember this, but Dr. Halsey does indeed refer to the Master Chief as John – it’s Cortana who doesn’t usually use his name.

“John?” Amy remarked, looking to the Spartan. Renee too, looked at him and saw his expression changed slightly upon being addressed by the doctor. John, so that was his name.

And, just like in a certain Eragon ‘fic, it’ll be bandied about like a cheap bottle of cane whiskey.”

“Dr. Halsey, ma’am,” John couldn’t salute because he had Renee in his arms, but he gave her a polite nod, “I’ve brought Private Renee Kilburn here; she’s sustained an injury from earlier today, and now has only brought it to her friend’s attention. She’s in pain – has difficulty walking. I think it might be a fractured rib.”

“I can look at her,” Dr. Halsey replied, waving them into a private room, “They are a little short on the medical personnel, and Thomsen saw my Ph.D. in my records and threw me in here from the bridge to help the others.”

Ok, putting aside for the moment that an MD and a PhD are not the same thing (maybe this is intended to indicate that Thomsen is dumb?), I quite like the idea of Dr. Halsey being in the medical bay.

She does in fact have an MD in addition to her PhD (and an impressive list of accomplishments in the field of medicine to go with it), and having her taking care of wounded Marines when she isn’t working really humanizes her at a time when the current mismanagers of canon seem dedicated to bashing her. It also confirms that while Dr. Halsey occasionally does extremely unethical things she does them because she really is genuinely committed to winning the War for humanity, and when she has the option to be so she is genuinely concerned for the well-being of civilians and soldiers alike. As a long-time Halsey fan and PhD-track myself, I very much approve.

“THAT SAID

I guess Private Alvarez over in surgery can just go ahead and pick the needler spines out of her own brainstem, PRINCESS here needs immediate treatment for her broken rib!”

They all walked into the examination room, and Dr. Halsey closed the door. The room became instantly quiet. John set Renee down on the cot, the sanitary paper making a rustling sound as he did. He then stood back against the door, straightening to an impressive at-ease.

Amy plunked down in a chair across from the cot, chewing her fingernail nervously.

What are all of these people doing here? At best they’re going to be sitting around bored while Halsey works on Kilburn, at worst they’re going to be occupying space that could be taken up by patients or the medical personnel trying to save them.”

“Let’s see what’s wrong,” Dr. Halsey said, brushing her hair back over her shoulders, “Lift your shirt up for me, please.”

Renee did, and Dr. Halsey didn’t seem shocked by what she saw, in fact, her expression changed little.

“Mhm,” she said, narrowing her eyes, “Nasty bruise. This might hurt for a little…”

She did the same thing John did, poked and prodded around the bruised area, and it did hurt, but Renee braved it out and didn’t flinch.

Oh, what willpower!”

Mommy’s Little Marines Counter: Still 6, but only just.

“That’s what I thought,” Dr. Halsey said to herself, and then stood back and looked to John, “You were right, John. A fractured rib; the eighth one on the right side to be precise.”

“Is it serious?” Amy asked almost instantly.

“No,” Dr. Halsey replied, “If it had been her lower rib that was fractured, it would have been a bigger problem, it could have damaged the diaphragm, but luckily, we can treat it, and you’ll be out of here within a few minutes.”

Ok, I know next to nothing about medicine, but after consulting with PD coauthor Serketry, who does … the eighth rib IS a lower rib, you idiot!

It’s strange, really. AshleyBudrick obviously knows a thing or two about medical practice … but she clearly also doesn’t know enough.”

She smiled at Renee, and she weakly smiled back.

“Alright, I’ll need you to remove your shirt, please,” Dr. Halsey instructed.

Upon hearing this, John cleared his throat.

“Would you like me to wait outside, ma’am?” John asked.

“Yes please,” Dr. Halsey and Renee said at the same time.

How do you people ever shower?”

Mommy’s Little Marines Counter: 7!

Amy bit back a laugh, and Dr. Halsey looked at her with a little smile. John turned sharply and left the room, closing the door quietly behind him.

I’ve just noticed this, but it seems like the whole time we’ve been on the Hercules people have had to open and close the doors manually, even though in the games the doors in UNSC ships are powered.

Renee sighed, and unbuttoned her shirt, ignoring the pain in her chest as she did. She shrugged it off and instantly felt cold wearing just her bra.

So she’s able to get her shirt off while lying down, but she can’t walk even with somebody holding her up?

And didn’t the Chief have to bend her midsection anyway in order to carry her?”

You know what, never mind. I can’t even begin to make sense of this woman’s injuries.

“Okay,” Dr. Halsey said, and she turned away and stood on her tiptoes and opened the cupboard. She took out a roll of adhesive tape and bandages. She took the tape and put it over the area of the fractured rib, and one above and below the area. Then she began bandaging it.

That’ll do… fuck all, really? I was expecting Halsey to at least use biofoam to stabilize the rib and promote bone growth, but she literally just put a band-aid on it.

“Is that the Master Chief’s name?” Amy spoke up, watching Dr. Halsey as she worked, “John?”

“Yes it is; John-117.”

… and you shouldn’t be bandying it about to anyone who asks – to say nothing of the problems with leaking information on a top secret supersoldier program to random bystanders, the Spartans are important to Dr. Halsey and she wouldn’t betray their confidence without good reason!”

“He’s a pretty nice guy,” Amy chattered on,

Wait, she‘s still in here? I thought Halsey just cleared the whole room out!

“I mean he offered to carry Renee here – well he didn’t give her much of a choice – very helpful.”

That is not very nice at all.”

“He is,” Dr. Halsey smiled, “Most people are intimidated by him – like they are whenever they meet a Spartan. I’ve known him since he was a child, beneath his training, he is a very good person.”

If you really cared about him, you wouldn’t be leaking his personal details to random patients!

She finished wrapping the injury, and tied it neatly in a little knot.

“There,” she said, “Now I’m just going to prescribe some pain killers,

Well, you should, considering you just tied her rib in a knot.”

Pronouns, ladies and gentlebeings. They’re like the dangling pointers of literature.

and you should be fine. Just restrict your movements, don’t do any heavy exercises. It will heal in good time, and you’re lucky we’re in Slipspace travel, because you will be able to rest. You’ll probably be good as new when we reach our next destination. And, although I know, it may hurt to cough right now; I recommend that you cough anyway. It will prevent secretions from pooling in the lungs, which could lead to pneumonia.”

This is very true, more or less – not pnumonia, but something called pulmonary edema. It is also something I learned a month ago while performing some very superficial research on Wikipedia for a Call of Cthulhu scenario I was writing, so if AB doesn’t know about it here … At the moment I’m torn between her doing extremely basic research on rib injuries, or just having broken her real rib at some point and not remembering everything the doctors said.

Renee nodded, and she forced herself to sit up, ignoring the pain. She shrugged on her shirt and began buttoning it up.

“You can call John in,” Dr. Halsey told Amy.

John must have heard through the door, because he came in before Amy even went to speak.

Halight Counter: 4

Dr. Halsey smiled at him, and then handed a bottle of pills to Renee.

“Take two of these a day,” she instructed, “Come and see me when you run out, or another doctor here. They’ll be able to get you more if you find you’re still needing them.”

… thereby feeding your opiate addiction and making you unfit for service.”

More unfit, you mean?

Good point.”

“Okay, thank you,” Renee smiled.

“You’re welcome,” Dr. Halsey smiled back, and Amy got to her feet, looking to John.

“Grab her, John, let’s go,” Amy said, using his name for the first time. John looked at her for a second, and then scooped Renee up off the table.

Oh, come ON!

Halight Counter: 5

“I’ll see you, ma’am,” he said to Dr. Halsey.

“See you, John,” she replied warmly.

And with that they all left the room, and then walked out into the hall. Amy took in a breath.

“Glad I’m out of there,” Amy sighed, “That smell was so sickening.

Much like your conduct.”

I guess these sorts of comments are supposed to make the girls seem empathetic, but they really do quite the opposite. Complaining about the smell of disinfectant while your buddies are dying the next ward over … really does demonstrate an appalling lack of perspective, at the very least.

So Renee, how are you feeling?”

“A little bit better,” she sighed. She looked up to John, admiring his profile – he had a very straight nose, thin lips, a masculine chin. His expression, however; was much like a statue.

*Sakai reaches for the Halight Counter yet again*

Now, now, at least wait until he’s actually described as marble.”

Fine.

She couldn’t quite read it – it seemed almost neutral.

Well, if it wasn’t neutral then what was it? It’s starting to seem like Mykan wrote this chapter.”

“I’ll get you back to your room,” John spoke, glancing down – no doubt catching her looking at him, “Just tell me where it is, Private.”

John took Renee back to her room, where both he and Amy instructed her to lay down and go to sleep. Renee was reluctant, but she realized when John set her down on her bed and she lay back, how exhausted she was.

“Get some sleep,” Amy told her, “You look like you need it.”

“Hope you are feeling better soon,” John said, the words almost coming awkwardly from his mouth.

So they weren’t awkward after all?

Seriously, stop that.

He was standing in the doorway, looking almost edgy to leave, like he couldn’t wait to bolt out the door.

Much like your fine riffers.”

Arby, get back here!

“Thank you – for everything,” Renee smiled.

To this, he only nodded – and then left the room without a word. Amy watched him go, and waited until the automatic door hissed shut behind him

Oh, so now they’re automatic…

to let out a deep sigh and take a seat on the edge of Renee’s bed. Patting her friend’s leg, she said,

“What a day, huh?”

Renee nodded sleepily, folding her arms on her chest.

“So, what was it like for John,” Amy continued, putting emphasis on his name, “To carry you to and from the medical bay? I thought it was quite nice of him, to carry you in those big strong arms!”

“I was embarrassed,” Renee admitted, looked up at the ceiling. She let out a little laugh, the pain in her ribs only bothering her slightly, “What a way to meet him. He must’ve thought me a burden.”

Again with the Victorian lady dialogue!

Mommy’s Little Marines Counter: 8

“Didn’t seem to,” Amy shrugged with a grin, watching color come to her friend’s cheeks. It didn’t take much for Renee to blush, “He seems to be quite an awkward man, don’t you think? It’s like he’s unsure how to carry on a conversation.”

Compared to you two, he sounds downright spontaneous.

Renee shrugged, half wishing her friend would stop talking about him. She was trying her best to get him out of her mind, how it felt for him to hold her close, in those same arms he flipped a Warthog with earlier, the same arms he used the rocket launcher to destroy that Spirit and save their Pelican. A true hero – and, recalling the mental image of his face – a handsome one.

Blech.”

“Oh,” Amy announced, reaching over and grabbing the bottle of pills, “You should take these,” she unscrewed the cap. Renee held out her hand and Amy shook two of the little white pills into her palm. Renee popped them into her mouth and grimaced slightly. It hurt to even swallow.

It hurts to even read.

“You’ll be okay,” Amy assured her, “I’m going to go myself,”

Please tell me she accidentally a word there …

… is that bad?”

she stood, “So you get some sleep, and have sweet dreams about John.” A smirk crossed her lips.

GONG!

Okayclosingbelltimetogo!

Not so fast!”

*Locks the doors.*

“Oh, you; get out!” Renee reached for a pillow to toss at her friend, but Amy was already gone out of the room, laughing her way down the hallway.

Mommy’s Little Marines Counter: 9

And that’s the end of chapter 4.

…”

So.

Yep.”

Goddammit, LOAS- the last three chapters were doing so well on their own!

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32 Comments on “1416: Love of a Spartan – Chapter Three”

  1. DasCheesenBorgir says:

    Goddammit, Arby, you can’t ‘ficdive just to stab people!

    “You bombed Turkey didn’t you?”

    “Oh come now Spartan, will anyone miss it?”

  2. batjamags says:

    “Oh, I say, that Spartan was quite strong, wasn’t he?”

    “Indeed, positively dashing!”

    “Hehehehehe!”

    *Barf*

    I need to go watch robot dinosaur ninjas battling alien shark pirates atop an erupting volcano to cleanse my palate.

  3. batjamags says:

    “You know what, LT?” Amy raised her voice, folding her arms across her chest, “You’ve become the biggest jerk since you joined the UNSC.

    Yeah! You’re being professional and you understand that being in the military is serious fucking business! You’re such a jerk. You’re a big meanie poopy-head, and I don’t like you very much.

    *Headdesk*

  4. batjamags says:

    At the moment I’m torn between her doing extremely basic research on rib injuries, or just having broken her real rib at some point and not remembering everything the doctors said.

    Still more medical knowledge than Stone-Man85.

  5. Sakai, your riffs are amazing, but the formatting is difficult to understand on mobile, as the blockquotes are identical to italics. I’d just read the riffs on my computer, but I don’t always have the opportunity.

    As for the chapter, I see what you mean now about how she can’t do character stuff.

    • "Lyle" says:

      That’s A WordPress thing.

      What browser are you using on mobile? You can easily “request desktop site” for most mobile browsers. Problem solved.

    • AdmiralSakai says:

      Yeah, it’s sort of an unavoidable consequence of using formatting to denote who is speaking, and since the alternative is script-fic I’m disinclined to remove it. It also means I can’t add any more riff characters, since WP is inconsistent about supporting underlines.

  6. TacoMagic says:

    A little thing about time-and-date stamps: a lot of people here at the Library don’t like them, and I’m not entirely sure why, but I actually use them a fair bit.

    Time and date stamps are fine… in the right kind of story and when used in a way that isn’t supposed to be a substitute for setting. They have no place in high fantasy or lighter fiction, but in Sci-Fi or Military fiction where time-lines are often critical to the plot, they definitely have their place. Arguably very skilled writing would make those superfluous, but they’re a pretty big standard of the genres, and they do skip over what would otherwise be word-holes devoted to timekeeping.

    Pointless, “here’s where you are so imagine it” scene tags are the things I loathe. Mostly because badfic authors use them in place of actual setting.

    • AdmiralSakai says:

      Yeah, the canonical Halo books use them, so I was really not surprised to see them here… but these ones get super vague, and more to the point since scarcely anything actually happens in Love of a Spartan, there’s not a whole lot to keep track of.

      • TacoMagic says:

        Plus, there isn’t enough tension ever built up around… anything to make the passage of time really worthwhile.

        It’s kinda akin to video game mechanics in that way. I’ve lost track of the games that try to build a sense of urgency but then give you as much time as you like to do sidequests. To a point where I’ve started to wonder why games even bother having strict timelines.

    • GhostCat says:

      Most tags – scene tags, POV Tags, time & Date stamps – can be used effectively under very specific circumstances, but like Taco says – the problem most of the badfics in the Library have is that they’re used as shortcuts or substitutes for establishing characters or settings. I loathe POV Tags the way most fic authors use them, but one of my favorite books, Number of The Beast by Robert Heinlein, has a POV Tag at the start of each and every chapter because the perspective rotates among several characters – but it works because each character has their own unique voice. After the first few chapters you don’t even need the POV Tags because the characters’ voices are so recognizable.

  7. Swenia says:

    Troy came from one of the adjacent corridors.

    See, this is what happens when you put the hammer down on fraternization! Not only is everyone pent up and stressed, but you’ve got marines just losing it into the hall at random.

    They should all just huddle up into a big-ol’ sex pile and be done with it. And I’m not just saying that because I have a new camcorder.

  8. AdmiralSakai says:

    This has nothing to do with anything, but I finally got around to finishing Last Light a few days ago, and I was actually very pleasantly surprised- it may not have exactly the same feel as the original books, but after spending so long without a good comparison I honestly cannot tell the difference. The author makes a few questionable decisions (somebody really “Mjolnir” is not a noun on its own and should be written in all-caps, and he has a terrible way of pacing action that literally makes it impossible to tell if anyone is in any actual danger until they die), but over all it’s consistently quite good. The UNSC is effective without being massively overpowered, the human scientists actually get to do something while the Huragok is relegated to MacGuffinland where it belongs, and there’s absolutely no trace of the Spartan-IV program to be found. I choose to read this as an encouraging sign that 343i might finally be figuring out what Halo canon is supposed to be like.

  9. TacoMagic says:

    There were a few chairs, a desk, and a plant in the first room, and it branched off to others,

    Other plants? I think you guys are in the hydroponics bay, not the med bay.

  10. TacoMagic says:

    “He seems to be quite an awkward man

    *Squints*

    Wait a damn minute. Is this fic actually Pride and Prejudice in disguise?


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