1429: Love of a Spartan – Chapter Four

Title: Love of a Spartan
Author:  AshleyBudrick
Media: Video Game
Topic: HALO
Genre:  Sci-Fi/Romance
URL: No Longer Available Online
Critiqued by Admiral Sakai, Gul, and the Arbiter

Hello hello, everyone, and welcome back to the continuing disappointment that is Love of a Spartan.

In the last chapter of this prolonged unpleasantness… well, to quote Douglas Adams, for a while nothing happened, and then, suddenly, nothing continued to happen.

Well, all right, fine, Private Kilburn broke her rib and a bunch of infantile gabbling resulted, but at the end of the day it was simply a chapter of the characters running errands for themselves onboard the Hercules en route to their next destination.”

Terrible Troy Counter: 10

Mommy’s Little Marines Counter: 8

Halight Counter: 4

Chapter 5 (listed as Four, but I’ve stopped caring) is called “Unwelcome Followers, which is ironic given what the Chief has to deal with at the moment in the form of two little girls playing dress-up in their mothers’ body armor.

Chapter Four

[March 9th, 2535 – Halcyon Class Hercules-Slipspace]

It was always so confusing during Slipspace travel to try and keep track of days.

That’s still not a good enough reason for vague timestamps.

Since the universe was always black – save for the billions of glittering stars – and there was no rising and setting of the sun, you often had no clue what day it was. That meant you slept strange hours too.

I am now struck by the hilarious image of the Hercules going into a fast polar orbit and Renee Kilburn repeatedly jumping out of her bunk and then climbing back in.

John had returned to the gym after he had left Amy and Renee, and was surprised to find out it was three in the morning of the 9th of March.

Considering that we have really no idea when they got back onboard or how shipboard time synchs up to planet time, this information could not be less useful.

He benched pressed some weights for a while, his mind buzzing with thoughts of the last couple of days, especially the events that had occurred in the past few hours. He thought of Private Kilburn, and got a good vision of her small oval face in his mind; her determined brown eyes; her warm smile. In the middle of lifting weights, he was confused when an uncontrollable smile crawled its way to his lips –

Oh Spirits, the ambulatory smile from From Another World is back again!

unsure why he would smile. It was something he rarely did

As he lifted the weights repetitively, he felt sort of strange;

In his pants?

“Much too soon.”

his mind was buzzing. He was overcome with an odd feeling he hadn’t felt before, a certain feeling of happiness, as if he were especially giddy or something.

I’m just going to go with ‘something.’”

What exactly did he have to be giddy about? A day ago he’d abandoned another planet to the Covenant; there had been losses for the UNSC. The war wasn’t going well for them. Yet, here he was, with a small smile on his face? He felt as if he was betraying the entire situation.

The Chief makes a very good point here, but on a pretty meta level. The Halo series is generally very good about avoiding teh Grummdork (through rather subtle and self-aware methods, too), but the fact remains that for the majority of the trilogy’s run it’s a story about woefully outgunned soldiers sacrificing one civilian-filled colony world after another in a slowly-failing attempt to keep omnicidal aliens from glassing Earth, and in fact this particular story is set right after a fairly significant defeat. Typically in situations like this where the UNSC either loses outright or scores an extremely Pyrrhic victory, the tone of the game does get more somber for a while, so it really does seem a bit jarring to have these Marines going around and flaunting their childish hijinks so soon after thousands of civilians and dozens of their friends just died.

Why on earth did he feel this way – and right now, of all times? It just didn’t make sense to him. It was almost an emotion, or was it? John wasn’t sure. All he knew that the feeling was inside him, and when he snapped to the attention of his outer feelings,

This is making less and less sense.”

Man, when LOAS gets purple it really gets purple.

he realized his body was screaming for a rest. His muscles ached and burned, his bruises throbbed.

“AGAIN???”

I thought we left the bruises thing behind last chapter.

He must have been awake for almost forty-eight hours by now. So he set the weights down, and didn’t even bother putting them away on their appropriate rungs. He was the only one who used that particular area of the gym anyhow.

Wow, John-117 really is a dick in this story.

Even if he’s the only one who uses that end of the gym, you can’t just leave loose items sliding around everywhere on a warship. Somebody’s going to have to clean that up.”

Running his fingers through his short hair, John sighed drowsily and admitted defeat, and dawdled his way back to his room. He walked in and fell onto the bed, his legs hanging over the end of it. He was asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow.

I didn’t realize this actually happened until now, but it looks like the Chief went through a day-plus of combat against the Covenant, then immediately stopped by the gym to work out as soon as his gear was unloaded. Wouldn’t it make more sense to rest up first?

Amy had cursed Renee’s dreams. It turned out John happened to be in her dreams, like she’d had teased her about. Only, in the dream, they weren’t on the Hercules. She and John were in the middle of a barren, burned field. Rubble of a city surrounded them. The horizon was glowing just like it had been on Capricornia, the air was filled with smoke. John was wearing his Spartan armor.

My god, could we actually be flashing back to the good part???

Out of nowhere, hordes of Covenant came, Grunts, Elites, and Jackals.

googly eyes

Ew.

John whipped out his assault rifle,

NOT HELPING! NOT HELPING!”

I still fail to see what the problem is.”

and she hers,

I –

er …

Hrm.

and as the aliens approached, she heard the sputter of the assault rifle behind her. She turned her attention to a charging Elite running at her, saliva dripping from its four jaws, a plasma rifle clutched in its long fingers. It opened its mouth and roared, and she squeezed the trigger, but no bullets came out.

Paging Dr. Freud?”

You know, it might seem like we’re looking for things to pick apart at this point, but really nothing kills a serious emotional bit like double entendres. Especially if (like this one) it’s already on the far side of the melodrama line.

She panicked, and looked down at the rifle, feeling fear shoot through her. She dropped the assault rifle and reached to her belt for her grenade, but her hand was like lead, her arm wouldn’t move. She opened her mouth to call for John, but she had no voice. The Elite shot at her, and an intense burn struck her in the chest as the white-hot plasma seared through her armor and into her flesh…

This dream just got a lot better for us, anyway…

Now if we can just get her to stay dead…”

Were we so fortunate…”

She wakes up, realizes her rib is actually causing the amount of pain it medically should, downs two painkillers at once since apparently they are no more powerful than what you can buy for headaches, and immediately feels well enough to take her uniform to the laundry.”

When she stepped out into the hallway, it wasn’t empty. Several marines were out and about, including a very familiar individual. She felt slightly uncertain when she saw Troy Fisher walking her way. He was no longer wearing his gym clothes, but his uniform, that clearly boasted his rank of Lieutenant on his arm.

Terrible Troy Counter: Preemptively 11

Renee was hoping for no interaction as she hobbled down the hallway, ignoring the little stab of pain she got with each footstep, but Troy stopped and greeted her.

“Good morning,” he said, clearing up Renee’s question as to the time of day. Renee was a little unsure about Troy’s friendly mood. She raised an eyebrow, but smiled politely.

“Morning, Lieutenant.”

“I heard what happened to you last night,” Troy said lowly, “About the fractured rib. I can’t help but feel it was my fault initially – flipping the Warthog. I hope you feel better soon, Private.”

And he’s continuing to be on the lenient end of model CO-dom, so how does she respond?

“Thank you, sir. You’re in a particularly good mood – that’s unusual.”

Terrible Troy Counter: I told you so.

Troy frowned, ignoring her comment.

“You’re in my squad, Kilburn. I’m concerned – I wouldn’t want you to be out of commission.”

“Oh,” Renee nodded; looking him over, shifting her clothes under her other arm.

Terrible Troy Counter: What a bitch!

… Sakai, did you hear something?”

“I’ll be seeing you, Private,” Troy’s expression hardened as he cut off the conversation abruptly, and he continued off down the hallway. Renee looked back over her shoulder at him as he walked away. He still had the slight limp on his left foot. When he was sixteen, he had broken his leg in a car accident. He had been driving when the car had hydroplaned and veered into the ditch and hit a tree. She remembered hearing of the accident and visiting him in the hospital, being relieved to learn that he’d be fine.

Putting aside for a moment the question of whether he would ever have been able to become a field officer if he had damaged his leg so badly he was left with a permanent limp … this whole thing is relevant why, exactly?”

“It wouldn’t kill you to call me Renee, you know,” she called after him, but he didn’t even acknowledge that she had spoken. He continued on down the hallway. Renee turned back around and sighed.

No, it wouldn’t kill him, it would just demonstrate that he was showing favoritism to one of his men because they’d grown up together and could not be counted on to manage his unit with an objective understanding of each solder’s strengths and weaknesses.”

“Amazing,” Amy’s voice suddenly broke the silence, and Renee jumped in surprise. Amy was just ahead of her, and she was standing in the doorway of her room, wearing sweats and a t-shirt.

“Amy, you scared me,” Renee laughed slightly.

“What a bastard,” Amy remarked about Troy, “Sweet as sugar to you one day, but hates your guts the next. He’s worried about you – or so he’s letting on. He should be worried about himself. I think he should go get checked for bipolarity, the crazy fool. Oh, you’re walking, good for you!”

Wow. Even for Love of a Spartan – even for Amy Smythe! – that made alarmingly little sense.

Mommy’s Little Marines Counter: 9

“That I am. It hurts a little, but I just took my daily dose of drugs so I’ll be fine.”

“How was your sleep?” Amy asked sweetly with a little grin.

“I’m well rested – but the dreams were horrible,” Renee put one hand on her hip, “I so happened to have a nightmare, where I was shot and killed by an Elite.”

Seriously, who talks like this?!

“John didn’t save you?” Amy looked surprised, a little smirk on her face.

GONG …

They gabble about their romantic prospects for a little while longer – it seems as though Amy is  in fact mated with a medical student back on Earth, which will become mildly important much later on. They remember that they were on their way to get their uniforms laundered, and the scene mercifully ends.

And if it seems as though we are cutting a lot of the story out … well, it’s mostly because the story simply doesn’t have a lot of content in it.”

John awoke on the cold floor, the blankets half pulled off the bed, draped over him. Judging by the smarting in his chest, he realized that he must have fallen off it sometime in the night,

He fell off his chest? How exactly does that work?”

Pronouns!!!

and was in such a deep sleep that it hadn’t even woke him. He must have really needed the sleep, because normally he was a very light sleeper. Even the slightest noise or someone talking would wake him, and he would normally jump to his feet in alarm. Spartans couldn’t afford to sleep heavily.

I’m just glad the story seems to have forgotten about his bruises.

He could hear footsteps of people walking by out in the hallway, and the occasional voice. John got up off the floor, and stretched. He stooped, and picked up the pillow and the blankets and threw them on his bed, not feeling like making it.

Studying the bed, it was no mystery as to why he would have fallen off. He was as wide as it was, for Christ’s sake. Dr. Halsey had been able to find him well fitting uniforms; and he wished she could have found him a well sized bed, too.

Oh, woe is him …

John grabbed a clean pair of uniform out of his locker, slung them under his arm

Ok, I was going to ding this for inconsistent pluralization, but it might just be another Canadism … even though I’ve never heard “uniform” used as a plural before, it sort of sounds like Commonwealth English.

and walked out of his room, composing himself and trying to look as wide awake and presentable as possible. Sure, he had slept, but he was still tired.

He went to the showers, had a quick hot shower that made him feel more awake than he really was. He could have stayed in the shower for hours, but water was limited, and just as John was really relishing it, it shut off. He sighed, and walked out of the shower, quickly snatching up a fresh towel and wrapping it around his waist.

I’m just glad there’s no loving description of naked Spartans.

Likewise. I much prefer vague and unverifiable to explicit and likely horrifyingly wrong.”

As he looked around the room, he realized that no one else was there, which was odd. There were about three-hundred personnel aboard, and the chances that only he would be having a shower at the moment was rare. There were usually about three or four other people, men and women, in the showers, if not more. It must have been a lazy morning.

Or just a lazy writer.”

John quickly dried himself, put on his deodorant, pulled on his clothes, and left.

Well, that’s good to know. I was worried he’d have to face the Covenant with his suit half-filled with perspiration!”

He dropped his dirty clothes in one of the laundry chutes, and then listened to what was commanding him next, his stomach. He hadn’t eaten since Capricornia, where he had wolfed down an energy bar on a short break out on the field.

Oh, hey, yet another thing he should have thought of before that nonsense in the gym.

So he double-timed it to the mess-hall, which was bustling with marines and officers alike.

He waited in line, and when it was turn, he filled his tray. Two cartons of milk, a carton of orange juice, three pieces of toast with jam, scrambled eggs, two sausages, and a little package of dried apple slices.

Which really sounds a lot more like what you’d get at a well-apportioned high school cafeteria than an active military ship, and it actually took me a little bit to figure out why. There’s no bulk calories or protein- no rice or potatoes or mystery meat – and everything seems to have been selected for taste rather than energy content.

Mommy’s Little Marines Counter: 10

Renee and Amy, who were already eating their breakfast, spotted John in the crowd. He was at least a head taller and easily more muscular than everyone else in the room,

“Combined?”

as he headed for a back table with a filled tray in his hands. Amy elbowed Renee, and turned to her friend, beaming.

“I’m going to ask him to come eat with us.”

“No don’t-” Renee started, but Amy had already bellowed his name across the room.

John stopped and turned in the direction of the voice, and he saw it was the obnoxious redheaded Private from yesterday yelling to him.

“Come sit with us!” she called.

Mommy’s Little Marines Counter: 11

I’m awaiting the day when the counter exceeds their mental age.

He furrowed his brows in sudden contemplation, looked back at his lonely back table in the corner where he usually sat, and then back at Amy and Renee’s table, which was far from empty. And there was a spot vacant just for him.

He ignored them, ate by himself like any person over the age of fifteen is perfectly comfortable doing, and went on to save Humanity from the Covenant. The end!”

He walked over and rigidly sat down at the table, across from the two Privates.

… Drat.”

Renee glanced at him momentarily before looking down and picking at her toast. Amy had almost a devious smile on her face.

“Good morning, sir!” she said to him.

“Morning,” John replied politely, and he looked to Renee, “How are you doing, Private Kilburn?”

Renee quickly choked out a response, making brief eye contact with him:

“Better, thank you – I can manage walking, sir.”

“Good to see you’re improving.”

“Somebody’s hungry this morning,” Amy announced, looking in awe at John’s tray.

John nodded as he picked up a piece of toast – and didn’t seem keen on saying anything. There was silence for a little bit as they all ate, but of course, Amy couldn’t be quiet for long.

“How was your sleep?” Amy asked the Spartan, taking a drink of milk.

“Could’ve been better, Private,” he remarked with a shrug, “I rarely sleep well.”

“You can ditch the Private stuff, if you want. Call me Amy.”

“It’s standard protocol.”

Ok, on one claw, this is a beautifully accurate rendition of a painfully awkward attempted conversation between two complete strangers …”

But on the other, so is every other piece of dialogue in the ‘fic.

“Look around, we’re all dressed in casual uniform, we’re chillin’ in Slipspace. When we’re not out on the field, feel free to call us by our names,” Amy egged him on, “It’s a lot more personal than that Private stuff.”

That is not how it works.”

“If you’re certain; Amy; Renee,” John tried out their names, his voice monotone.

Amy glanced to Renee, who kept her eyes to the table and was eating her food in silence. She elbowed her in the side without thinking – and Renee grimaced.

“I’ve got a fractured rib for Christ’s sake!” She sounded irritated, “You elbowing me isn’t going to make it any better!”

No, but if it stops the two of them from speaking it’d certainly make our day better.

Amy laughed, “I’m sorry, I keep forgetting. Well at least I got you talking, I don’t think I’ve ever heard you so quiet.”

“I’m eating my breakfast,” Renee rested her head on her hand, “What do you want me to do, get up and give a speech?”

“Please no! I had quite enough of that from that Shepard woman.”

John took a moment to study her. There was color to her cheeks – as there often was.

Good. I was worried she was in the early stages of Flood infection and her skin had become completely gray.

That said … I’m incredibly glad she’s not an overly-pale Bella Swine ripoff.”

Halight Counter: Still 4, Forerunners-be-praised!

Her hair, which reached the limit of military-length for women at just below her chin, looked as if she’d just crawled from bed. She kept her head lowered and her eyes glued to her food, which she was now pushing around her plate with her fork.

Which still doesn’t tell us anything about what she, you know, looks like.

“Is there something wrong, Renee?” John said her name for the first time, and it felt odd on his tongue. It didn’t feel right to be calling someone by their first name. He only called his Spartans by their first names, and never anyone else.

Well ain’t we special, then!

She looked up at him, looking a bit startled now, but she quickly composed herself, putting a small smile on her lips.

“I’m fine, sir,” she nodded, “Why?”

“You just look uncomfortable, that’s all.”

As do we, Demon. As do we.”

After that, silence filled their small area of the table once again. John was coming close to finishing his breakfast, he only had one carton of milk and the apples left. He tore open the package of apple slices, and threw one in his mouth, looking around the room.

At last, an answer! Back during the Warthog chase in Chapter 1, I was constantly beset by the question of how John-117 takes his midday meal!”

He spotted Troy Fisher, who was sitting at a table not too far away with several other higher-ranking marines. Troy glanced his way for a moment, and gave him a challenging, puzzled look,

Both facets of which were perfectly justified…”

but then went back to his breakfast.

After this, we get a whole four paragraphs of Renee deciding whether or not to take John’s last apple slice and John wrapping his surprisingly empty little head around calling them by their first names.

Mommy’s Little Marines Counter: 12

Amy went to elbow Renee, but stopped herself when she remembered her injury.

Oh dear, is her rib going to become the new bruises?”

“Aren’t I the best?” she grinned,

“Worst, perhaps, but definitely not the best.”

“I got John to sit with us. You weren’t saying much to him, but then again, he wasn’t saying too much either. You make a good pair. You’d be one of those silent, shy couples who speak intellectually and consider holding hands a big process.”

“You are so weird,” Renee gave her friend a bizarre look; “You should have wrote creepy romance novels instead of joining the UNSC.”

…”

“…”

Halight Counter: …

So … umm …

What do we do when the story starts riffing itself?”

Amy laughed, and pointed a finger at Renee’s little nose.

what?

“You’re just criticizing my description, but did I hear any denials?

“No, we’re also criticizing your dialogue, characterization, technical knowledge, pacing, understanding of relationships, sense of humor, fidelity to canon, and grammar.”

No,” She beamed, “You’ve got the hots for John-117.”

“He’s a respectable soldier.”

“I’m getting somewhere; you’re admitting tiny little details!” Amy squirmed, clapping her hands together,

Mommy’s Little Marines Counter: 13

“You think he’s respectable, he’s more than just respectable, dear. He’s an intrapersonal good-looking Spartan

A what now?”

montoya

who needs a girl just like you to make him feel loved.”

“Whatever you want to think,” Renee sighed, and spotted John winding his way through people back to their table. Good, Amy would forget about her, and start blabbing on to John. Amy did have a point, John wasn’t that talkative. It was almost if he wasn’t fluent in practical conversations.

“Then he is in very good company.”

“So, John,” Amy said with a deep sigh, folding her hands on the table as he sat down, “Ever been with anyone?”

John raised an eyebrow, his face contorting into one of confusion.

“I don’t understand.”

Neither do we, pal. Neither do we.

“Have you dated anyone?” Amy reworded her sentence, although seem surprised that she had to. Renee shook her head in embarrassment. Sometimes she just wanted to strangle her friend.

Good! Then we’re all in agreement! To the gallows!

“Dated?” John repeated the word, “I’m sorry, I don’t understand what you mean, Amy.I am a Spartan;

You know, the Chief may be somewhat terse, but I doubt he would really need to stoop to Tarzan grammar.”

I’m not the best at having what you would consider ‘normal’ conversations.”

“Have you ever fallen in love, then?” Amy asked.

“No,” John replied flatly. He almost sounded like he didn’t know what she meant by that, either. Renee glanced to Amy, and could read her face – she was surprised by his answer.

Why? At this point John is still in or near his early 20s.

In a way, Renee was too – it made her wonder if the rumors she’d heard about the Spartans from other marines were true. Rumors of them being stolen from their parents when they were just children and being forced to live strict military lives and nothing else.

Again, this seems like a bit of a leap – he’s not yet experienced mating fondness, so he must have been raised by the military from infancy?”

I mean, the rumors are in fact correct, but still … this seems like a very rushed model of emotional development.

“Oh,” Amy said after a beat, trying to act indifferent by his answer. She looked to Renee, “There’s your answer.”

Before Renee could defend herself, the flashing amber alarms alongside the wall lit up, filling the room with beeping. John shot to his feet, and Renee and Amy jumped in surprise.

Captain Thomsen’s voice came over the loudspeaker.

*Sakai moves his mouse towards the Photoshop window*

Don’t even think about it.”

All personnel to battle stations, I repeat all personnel to battle stations. This is not a drill. Will the Master Chief please report to the bridge immediately.

John looked to Renee and Amy, who looked panicked, along with the other marines. Around them, the room became chaotic as the marines all began to rush to get suited up.

… Might we, Spirits willing, actually get back to a decent action sequence?”

“I have to go,” he said, and then, without any further hesitant he sprinted out of the mess-hall and to the armory, his heart pounding in his ears. He stripped off his clothes, and got into his MJOLNIR armor as quickly as possible with the help of two technicians. Grabbing an assault rifle and several ammo clips to put in his utility belt, he double-timed it to the bridge.

Notably, not reporting there immediately as he was ordered.”

When he arrived, he realized that the Hercules was no longer in Slipspace. Thomsen and Dr. Halsey were there, along with several of the bridge personnel, who were hastily working the control panels.

Dr. Halsey looked pale, and she didn’t speak.

“A Covenant assault carrier and its whole fleet somehow followed us into Slipspace,” Thomsen said, looking worried,

Welp. You’re all doomed. I’d like to say it was nice knowing you, but … well, it really wasn’t.

“We thought we covered our tracks,

– but obviously not very well -”

and we exited in hope of misleading them, as our destination is only 50,000 light years from Earth’s solar system,” he turned to the ship’s A.I, a female named Keira, “Are you getting any readings?”

Keira folded her arms, and closed her eyes, her holographic shape shimmering for a moment.

“Yes, I am tapping into their battle net as we speak,” she answered quickly,

Ok, I know that Covenant comms security is kind of shit, but that’s stretching it. They haven’t even fired a shot yet, their battlenet should be quiet!

Actually, for that matter, why haven’t they fired a shot yet? The Covenant aren’t known for dallying around so that the enemy has a chance to make armory detours and attend strategic meetings.”

Shameful! Absolutely shameful!”

“Just let me skim the most recent information… yes, just what I thought. They were on the other side of Capricornia when they received signals of our Slipspace rupture. They followed us… they still are following us, currently one light-year behind us in the Slipspace void.

Wait, if they’re still in Slipspace, how exactly are you getting comms information from them?! The Covenant may be able to punch signals through Slipspace remotely, but as of 2535 the UNSC certainly can’t.

The assault carrier is called The Domination… captained by Sangheili M’to ‘Malnoonee, Special Ops. The main cruiser accompanying it, The Redemption, is captained by Rtas ‘Vadumee, Zealot.

You know, for the Covenant, those are really remarkably drab names. Considering the organization’s fondness for purple in both structure and terminology, I would have expected something a bit more exotic.”

Lucky I picked up their signals, we’ll be ready for them hopefully by the time they exit Slipspace.”

“How many drop ships are there?” Dr. Halsey asked, slouched over a desk, rubbing her temples.

“Ten… twenty… twenty two, to be exact, ma’am,” Keira replied,

Which, for a carrier that can fit the Hercules itself completely inside of its hangar bay, is really not very many at all.

“We’re in for quite a battle. I expect they will try and invade us by attaching to our escape pods, in attempt to wipe out the marines inside, while The Domination and The Redemption will engage in ship-to-ship combat.

That, or they’ll just blow you out of the firmament with their main energy projector.”

Would you like me to charge up the MAC gun?”

“Yes,” Thomsen answered, “And the archer missiles. We’re going to need every last resource, even the nuclear warheads if it comes down to it.”

“How much time until they exit Slipspace, Keira?” Dr. Halsey asked, falling into a chair and closing her eyes, looking despaired.

montoya

“Considering they are considerably faster than we are, being able to travel light years in hours, as the typical Halcyon class cruiser travels approximately 2.1 light-years per day, it’s harder to calculate. Based on previous data archived by other Halcyon cruisers during encounters with assault carriers during Slipspace, I can calculate an average; my best estimate is ten minutes, forty-three seconds and counting.”

John felt his heart skip a beat. Just when he was starting to relax, this had to happen.

What, the shipping?

Thomsen sighed, and turned to the ship’s loudspeaker. He held down the button.

“Here’s the scoop, marines,” he said,

I hate to break it to you, sir, but that sort of behavior is not exactly filling your troops with confidence.”

“A Covenant assault carrier and its whole goddamned fleet managed to follow us in our Slipspace jump. We’ve exited Slipspace in hopes to steer them away from our original destination. Now, we’re going to be engaged in a ship-to-ship battle, and not to mention they have drop-ships, so watch those escape pods. We have about ten minutes until they exit Slipspace, and you all know what to do.

Scream and run around in circles?

Good luck.”

He let off the button, and sighed. He turned to Master Chief.

“You know what we need you to do, 117.” He said.

– but judging by the ‘fic so far, you’re not going to be very effective at doing it.”

“Sir,” John saluted, and he turned and ran from the bridge.

In the docking bay Troy and several other Junior and Senior Lieutenants and officers were trying their best to control the rising tension as the marines got geared up and gathered their share of weapons and ammo. Troy gave up and helped an officer hand out assault rifles and pistols to the marines as they filed by.

Several marines, designated this time to pilot the Longswords, skipped the weapons and ran straight to their star fighters.

You do realize that pilots are their own organization and receive specialized training, right?”

Actually, having random ground-pounders selected to pilot their vehicles would explain why the Hercules is so goddamn useless.

Renee looked to Amy, as they were waiting in line to receive their weapons.

“This is chaos,” she said, “They told us we’d be relaxing for a couple weeks, instead we end up exiting slip space to engage to a ship-to-ship and hand-to-hand battle with the bloody Covenant, some relaxation that is. We aren’t even fully prepared.”

“Well, we’re fighting a war,” Amy sighed, “You honestly expected to make it through two weeks without getting into some conflict with the alien bastards?”

Wait, when did she suddenly become sane!

She and Renee picked up two grenades each out of the supply boxes, slipping them into their utility belts, and ran a check on their helmets’ intercoms.

“Well we’ve got John aboard,” Renee smiled slightly, “We probably won’t have as many causalities.”

“It’s not the aliens I’m worried about. We can kick their asses. It’s that damned assault carrier. Plasma torpedoes, that’s why we’re losing this war, ship-to-ship battle. If they blow us up, I hope it’s quick, that’s all I can say.”

“Awfully morbid, aren’t you?” Renee raised her eyebrow.

But entirely accurate.”

“Preparing myself for the possible, that’s all,” Amy smiled grimly.

Renee looked sympathetically at her friend, then turned around as she reached her turn to receive her weapon. An officer handed her and Amy their M6D pistols, and then she moved down the line, to Troy.

Troy handed Amy her assault rifle, then Renee’s. As Renee went to take it, Troy didn’t let go for a moment. He looked at her, then at Amy.

“Good luck, both of you,” he said, “Don’t get yourselves killed, hm?”

“We’re not planning on it,” Amy said sharply, still being sore to him.

Renee smiled slightly at Troy.

“Good luck yourself, sir,” she said, and then she moved on,

And now she‘s actually behaving in a semi-reasonable manner towards her CO! What is going on?!”

It’s like as soon as the Covenant shows up, the ‘fic becomes good again! Maybe if we dumped the Arbiter in there permanently, it’d …

*Sakai takes a moment to refocus his eyes on the energy sword millimeters from his neck.*

Guess not, then.

taking a couple clips of ammo from the box. Just as she was doing this, the whole ship shook, and the lights blinked. Renee stumbled and she and Amy had to catch themselves on the boxes of ammo.

It was silent for a moment, and everyone looked around, until Troy broke the silence.

“They’re here.”

All right.

Yes.”

I … am honestly not sure what is happening here. I was going to save this for the end of the ‘fic, but since we’ve got some additional space at the end of this chapter I may as well start the conversation here.

AshleyBudrick is not a bad writer. She does, in fact, have some substantial skill. In preparation for this riff I skimmed her profile page (which is where I learned that she is Canadian, and also where I learned that she is a member of that country’s Army Reserve), and some of her more recent stories … are in fact quite good. Even in areas where LOAS clearly suffers, like dialogue, she has clearly made massive improvements – the conversations in Ad Usque Fidelis don’t hold me enraptured or anything, but they sound like actual things humans would say. And it’s clear that even back in the Love of a Spartan era, she knew how to write this sort of dialogue – we saw it in the chapter closer. I don’t know exactly what the later “update” of the story covered – if she redid the action scenes but not the … I don’t even know what to call the others, that would explain their increase in quality. Otherwise … I don’t know, maybe she was good at writing one “voice” or tone, but not others? Only further investigation will tell … Eventually. I’m going to take a break from LOAS for a little while, and do a few one-shots …

Advertisements

43 Comments on “1429: Love of a Spartan – Chapter Four”

  1. BatJamags says:

    [March 9th, 2535 – Halcyon Class Hercules-Slipspace]

    I’ve been working on a fic that uses time-and-location tags, since I’m trying to make sure it has a clear timeline, and it’s hard to put some of this information in the narration without sounding needlessly pedantic (I still try to establish the setting in narration as best I can, though) (Also, the scene tags are more for my own bookkeeping purposes than for the readers). HOWEVER, here’s one of my scene tags:

    Sunday, January 22, 2017 – 8:30 PM – The Batcave, Gotham City, New Jersey, United States – Earth-0

    This is overly specific, since the characters never leave Gotham or Earth-0, but I have (vague) outlines for a longer series of fics where this format will be useful. There’s pretty much no information about when and where the scene is taking place that you can’t find in my tag. I suppose I could specify that it’s 2017 C.E., or that I’m using the Gregorian calendar, but still. I do this because my fic has a somewhat complicated sequence of events with several different characters pursuing several different goals all at once.

    This fic’s scene tag, on the other hand, just kind of tells me what day it is and that they’re on the ship. That’s information that could’ve been conveyed in the narration. “It was March Ninth, and the ship was still in slipspace.” Done. There’s no reason for these tags to be here, especially since this fic just follows one character through a (kind of) straightforward sequence of events.

  2. BatJamags says:

    In the middle of lifting weights, he was confused when an uncontrollable smile crawled its way to his lips –

    EWW! That just sounds nasty.

  3. BatJamags says:

    Wow, John-117 really is a dick in this story.

    “Even if he’s the only one who uses that end of the gym, you can’t just leave loose items sliding around everywhere on a warship. Somebody’s going to have to clean that up.”

    *CinemaSins voice* Master Chief is a dick to gym-cleaners.

    *Ding!*

  4. BatJamags says:

    *Freudian Dream Sequence*

  5. BatJamags says:

    it seems as though Amy is in fact mated with a medical student back on Earth, which will become mildly important much later on.

    You mean… there was foreshadowing? Holy crap, that means the author actually outlined their story before writing it! That’s amazing!

    … For the kind of tripe we usually see on the library, at least.

    • AdmiralSakai says:

      No, actually, it’s important because much later on she behaves in a way that would be unfaithful to him, meaning she’s either as much of a dick as the Master Chief, or the author forgot this detail.

  6. BatJamags says:

    He stooped, and picked up the pillow and the blankets and threw them on his bed, not feeling like making it.

    Pretty sure that’s kind of a no-no in the military. I’ve heard (second-or-third-hand, mind you) that they’re very precise about bed-making.

    • AdmiralSakai says:

      The UNSC in general seems to be a bit more focused on actually doing its job than on spit-and-polish, but SPARTAN-IIs in particular are kind of obsessive-compulsive about it.

  7. BatJamags says:

    He waited in line, and when it was turn, he filled his tray. Two cartons of milk, a carton of orange juice, three pieces of toast with jam, scrambled eggs, two sausages, and a little package of dried apple slices.

    And my comments’ theme for the day is: the words “needlessly specific!”

  8. BatJamags says:

    Renee and Amy, who were already eating their breakfast, spotted John in the crowd. He was at least a head taller and easily more muscular than everyone else in the room,

    “Combined?”

    Shit, this fic is bad enough as it is, does it have to be drawn by Rob Liefeld, too?!

  9. BatJamags says:

    Mommy’s Little Marines Counter: 11

    I’m awaiting the day when the counter exceeds their mental age.

    It did that a long time ago.

  10. BatJamags says:

    He’s an intrapersonal good-looking Spartan

    Intrapersonal?” That isn’t even a word. And if the author was going for “interpersonal, that still wouldn’t have fit!

  11. BatJamags says:

    “You know, for the Covenant, those are really remarkably drab names. Considering the organization’s fondness for purple in both structure and terminology, I would have expected something a bit more exotic.”

    Yeah, they should be something more like the Deep Peacock-Violet Vessel of Conquest and Victory and the Random Reference to Post-Apartheid Race Relations in South Africa.

  12. BatJamags says:

    “You know what we need you to do, 117.” He said., but the audience doesn’t because of how vague I’m being.

    Fixed that for you.

  13. BatJamags says:

    “They’re here.”

    Dammit, fic! I just used the Poltergeist clip yesterday! Ah, fuck it:

  14. Addicted Reader says:

    It was always so confusing during Slipspace travel to try and keep track of days.
    Since the universe was always black – save for the billions of glittering stars – and there was no rising and setting of the sun, you often had no clue what day it was.

    Isn’t that space travel in general?

    That meant you slept strange hours too.

    And isn’t that why there is such a thing as ship time?

    • AdmiralSakai says:

      It’s especially bad since there are not, in fact, “thousands of glittering stars” in Slipspace at all.

      What bugs me is that it would be so easy to justify this by saying that the Marines had adjusted to Capricornia time, which was different from ship time, and that‘s why their schedules were messed up.

      But nooooooooo………..

  15. TacoMagic says:

    It was always so confusing during Slipspace travel to try and keep track of days.

    A fic set in a weird alternate universe where clocks were never invented.

  16. TacoMagic says:

    Which really sounds a lot more like what you’d get at a well-apportioned high school cafeteria than an active military ship, and it actually took me a little bit to figure out why. There’s no bulk calories or protein- no rice or potatoes or mystery meat – and everything seems to have been selected for taste rather than energy content.

    Honestly, on a ship deep in space with limited room for stock, I would expect meals to almost universally be protein-infused oatmeal and a multivitamin tablet on the side.

  17. Swenia says:

    “You know, for the Covenant, those are really remarkably drab names. Considering the organization’s fondness for purple in both structure and terminology, I would have expected something a bit more exotic.”

    Void Filler
    Rupture Plunger
    Rift Stuffer
    Transcendent Pillar
    Sating Monolith

  18. AshleyBudrick says:

    Good God. Must admit, it makes me cringe at times to re-read my own story – especially when all the faults are broken down. Loving the continued humour of it all, by the way.
    The military errors that I made (I was probably about 15/16 when writing this and still a civilian) particularly bother the shit out of me. I’ve now got 4 years in the army and almost everything that the characters are doing and saying are so far out in left field I’m honestly ashamed. I wouldn’t even know where to begin if I started ranting.
    If I thought this was at all salvageable and had more time on my hands, a part of me would honestly reconsider going back and rewriting this fucker, however, it’s a lot more entertaining to come back every few weeks to read the new riff.
    Cheers.

    • AdmiralSakai says:

      Rewriting LOAS was actually something I’d been thinking about for a while, and I’ll have to come back later when I have time to type.

      The one thing I’m curious about is the whole broken-rib thing.
      We see this a fair bit in stories where people are more right about a scientific, medical, historical, what-have-you topic than they would be if they were complete novices, but not actually right like they’d be if they’d actually studied the topic (like how LOAS went into clinical detail about how to bandage a rib, but classified it as the wrong type).

      So my question is, do you remember actually doing research for that? Or was it something you just winged? I don’t know how representative you are of the fanthor population in general, but I would sort of like to know what the “typical” process of writing about that sort of topic is.

      (I’m a grad student IRL, so since I can go down two doors from my office and ask an actual doctor, astronomer, geologist, or whatever about any topic that I’m currently unsure about I don’t really have the experience of writing about technical topics the way “normal” authors do.)

  19. AshleyBudrick says:

    I actually do recall doing a bit of research for this, but nothing extreme. Back then, research meant typing my question into Google, so it was likely WebMD or something that I consulted.
    Of course, I had no clue how one goes about treating a broken rib, and likely wouldn’t have bothered to find out, hadn’t it been for my intent to have Dr. Halsey give some medical advice. I wanted to make her sound like she knew her shit (but failed anyway).
    If only I had put that much effort into a scene in the upcoming chapter with reference to first aid procedures, something that I’m now qualified in as it is a standard part of military training. I re-read it now and can only bow my head in shame.
    So my research was selective at best. Depended on the day.
    Now though, after having completed university, research has a whole new meaning to me and I actively make an effort to research anything I’m not 100% sure on when I’m working on my original stuff. Pays off in the long run.

  20. "Lyle" says:

    he realized that he must have fallen off it sometime in the night, and was in such a deep sleep that it hadn’t even woke him.

    *checks the script* Apparently, John is being played by my 7-year-old. I swear that kid falls out of bed all the time and sleeps right through it.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s